§ Sir Alexander Hope
rose to make his promised motion, to continue the six equerries making part of his majesty's establishment at Windsor, instead of reducing the number to four as recommended in the report of the select committee. The proposition he was about to make was, he said, so reasonable, that he confidently expected 1020 a correspondent feeling on the part of the House. The cause which he advocate was that of honour and justice against petty pretences of economy. The officer for whom he spoke had been always about his majesty, and ought still to be continued attached to his person, that, in the even of his recovery, he might perceive no change had taken place in his establishment. His majesty had not appointed them to the honourable office they now held, till they had distinguished themselves in the service of their country. The hon. member here mentioned some facts in the life, and some traits of the character, of generals Spencer and Winyard, two of the equerries at Windsor; and after panegyrising their fidelity, and describing the confidence reposed in them by his majesty, went on to say, that the question o economy was not concerned in the salary proposed to be continued to the two former, as the necessary sum had been already provided for in the 50,000l. voted for the Windsor establishment. He would not shield under a subterfuge a question, the soul of which was high feeling. The members of the committee were under the necessity of making mutual concessions of opinion to one another, and the abolition of the offices of two of the equerries was the consequence. They had, at the same time, inconsistently recommended a sum out of which these salaries could be taken. After closing their papers, and retiring from their committee-room, why did they not return to their consistency, and agree to the rightful application of what they had voted? In former times when the demand for economy was as great as now, such petty savings as the reduction of the salaries of two equerries were not attempted. In 1782, his majesty had seven equerries, two pf whom were discharged and five retained. Mr. Burke, who recommended the reduction of their number, proposed not to reduce the salaries of those discharged. The cofferer and treasurer, though unnecessary, were likewise suffered to receive their salaries. So far as Mr. Burke's authority therefore went, it would be found against any reduction of offices that contributed to the splendour of the crown. All thanks, all gratitude were due to the sovereign for having himself commenced economy, by reducing his own household. If, then, Mr. Burke, in the year 1782, was against any reduction of the kind when the king was in the zenith of his power, would it 1021 become the Commons of England, now that he was blighted by the hand of God, to trample on his dignity—to break in upon his establishment now, for the first time, and reduce it to a condition which was not adequate? The high feeling which Mr. Burke had distinguished by the name of chivalry, might possibly provoke a laugh, but taken in the plain meaning of the word, a disposition to succour the helpless and distressed, the language was intelligible, and the king was unfortunately in a situation to call for its exercise. If he should ever return to reason, it was against the dignity of the crown, and against every fine feeling, that he should be deprived of the servants to whom he was accustomed. It was not only possible, but probable, that his majesty might recover: the prayers of a whole nation might prevail in his behalf, and a paltry economy ought not to be put in competition with those feelings, which did honour to human nature. It was possible, if not highly probable, that he might awaken, if not to the exercise of his kingly powers, to a perfect knowledge of his situation, and to a recollection of past events. What, then, would be his sensations, upon hearing, when he called for those by whom he was formerly attended, that the Commons of England had interfered to deprive him of their assistance? He would repeat, that the king was likely to return to reason; the hand that struck the blow by which his faculties were prostrated, might awaken them to a full consciousness of the glories of his reign; and the economy that was to be found in the paltry saving now proposed, could bear no comparison with the generous principle upon which they were required to act. He concluded with moving—"That, although it is expedient in the present state of his majesty's health, that no unnecessary expense should be incurred in the royal establishment at Windsor, yet that it is the opinion of this House, that it ought to be kept up in a manner which will at the same time mark the dignity of the person of his majesty, and the affection of his loyal subjects; and that therefore this House cannot Sanction any reduction in the present number of his majesty's six equerries, as mentioned in the said Report." [A laugh from the Opposition benches.]
§ Mr. Spencer Perceval
addressed the House for the first time. He said that if it required any thing In addition to the importance of the question itself to rouse 1022 him from his seat on the present occasion, it was the respectful laugh which had burst from the gentlemen on the other side of the House. If there was any thing ridiculous in standing forward to fight the battle of his old and respected king, he was willing to encounter the shafts of that ridicule. It was with feelings of strong indignation that he heard the first proposition which emanated from the other side, a proposition by which the Commons of England were invited to attack the private property of the Crown. That feeling was changed to surprise, when he saw the same gentlemen come forward on a subsequent night, and turn their backs upon their own admission, when they found that they could not get the sum required out of the property of their sovereign. He had forborne from obtruding himself upon either of the former occasions, under an apprehension that he could not then have rendered any service to the cause; but the present was a stronger case, it stood upon a different ground, and appealed to warmer feelings. It was to be supported by the bold coming forward of every individual who felt a respect for their afflicted sovereign, and the more particularly as it was a question which had not the same support which was often bestowed upon others of less importance. He regretted that the government had consented to diminish the establishment of the Crown one-half, and that the minister, instead of acting on his own responsibility for its preservation, had compromised with a committee, and submitted to minor defeats, in order to secure an imperfect victory. He could not but deplore their conduct as weak, and the conduct of the opposite party as marked by the same unremitting perseverance to harass and perplex the government which they manifested upon all occasions. In this instance, as in all the rest, they held out to the country, that they had supported the principle of economy and the rights of the people; and coming down fat from the pastures of popularity, boasted of their strength, by which they drove their opponents into measures of conciliation, at the same time weak and unworthy. The noble lord who moved for the committee had let in a certain number of those who resisted his government; they carried into the committee the old impressions of the wastefulness of ministers, and acting upon that impression, what work had they done? They had saved a couple of five hundreds 1023 a-years and, with this saving, no doubt they would go in triumph to their constituents, to tell them that they had taken from off the shoulders of each individual in the community the fraction of a farthing, so smart as to baffle denomination! Such was their claim to the gratitude of the country! But how would the country feel when they were told, that this saving was purchased at the expense of ingratitude and disrespect to the Crown—of cold and' unkind treatment to the sovereign [cries of No, No!]? It was impossible that the question of economy could be implicated in this. It was not, whether they would save so much to the country, but whether, having already reduced the establishment one-half, they would give an additional kick of insult to the sick lion. The question was simply this, and if he had-powers to impress their minds as he could-wish, he would persuade them to do away with the suggestion of the committee by a vote of the House, and to resist the indecent conduct of those who would impair the dignity of the so-vereign.
§ Lord Castlereagh and Mr. Brougham
presented themselves to the notice of the House. Lord Castlereagh first caught the Speaker's eye; but Mr. Brougham was loudly called on by the opposition members to proceed.
said, that he should not have persisted in claiming priority of speech at that period of the evening, had he not been of opinion that he could offer same explanations to the House which would render it unnecessary to enter into any lengthened discussion. Though they did not convince him, he had listened with the most pleasing attention to the arguments of the last speaker, and had witnessed with the utmost satisfaction the same enthusiasm of feeling exhibited by the son in defence of our reverend monarch as had formerly been displayed, so nobly and ably, by the father. Notwithstanding the respect which he felt for him, and for the gallant officer who had brought forward the present motion, he was obliged to disagree with them into: he did not think that the reduction of the equerries was a reduction at all detracting from the rank, the splendor, or the comfort of the sovereign: if he had thought that it did, he would have been the last man in the world to have lent himself to such a measure. He had submitted his motion regarding the privy parse and the 1024 custos to the House, in consequence of the report of the committee; and if his gallant friend had at that time had any objection to its suggestions, he ought to have entered his protest then, and not to have deferred it to the present minute. If any question had arisen in the report of the committee; regarding the loyalty of the House, he would have taken care that it should have been settled at as early ah opportunity as possible. The hon. gentlemen had thrown out reflections, if not on the pusillanimity of ministers, at least on a feeling narrowly attached to it. He could not allow these re-flexions to pass unnoticed, because they were totally unfounded. For his own part, he could not see how it could be more derogatory to submit the Windsor establishment to the revisal of the House, than it was to submit either the civil list or the Prince Regent's establishment; and yet, during the period that he had held the office which he now enjoyed, he had submitted the two last to the consideration of a committee. As he had adopted the suggestions made in the former part of the report, and had taken the sense of the House upon them, he did not think himself justified in turning round, and opposing the suggestions made in the latter part of it. He should, therefore, oppose the gallant general's proposition, and should; move the previous question upon it.
§ Mr. William Lamb
said, that he had listened with as much pleasure as any member on the other side of the House to the hon. gentleman who had spoken last but one. The recollections which had pressed upon the mind of every man in the House, in consequence of the subject on which he had spoken, had given his speech an additional interest of a very peculiar nature. Notwithstanding that, he would make bold to tell him, that the laugh which had come from the side of the House on which he (Mr. Lamb) sat, and which had excited the hon. gentleman's strong indignation, had not been directed against the revered individual whose advanced age and heavy misfortunes rendered him so strong a contrast to the splendor of a crown. His thought that the hon. gentleman would withdraw his anger, when he was told, that the laugh originated in the palpable inconsistency of the resolution. The preamble stated in lofty language, that the Windsor establishment ought to be conducted with all proper magnificence, and ended with 1025 merely proposing the addition of two paltry equerries. When the beginning was so inconsistent with the end, it could not create any surprise that a laugh had been excited; and he therefore trusted, that the hon. gentleman would forget his anger, and be pacified by the explanation which was offered him. He was not at all surprised at, though he could not himself sympathize with the feelings of the hon. mover; he knew the hon. mover's sympathy for the persons who had lost these situations, and was sorry that he had not stifled the expression of it for prudential reasons; because, considering the quarter from whence it came, the expression of it was extremely imprudent. The saving obtained by this reduction had been ridiculed as being too paltry to deserve notice, but, in his opinion, a paltry saving was a great consideration, inasmuch as in matters of economy, it was not to the paltriness of the sum, but to the in-utility of the expense that the country would direct its attention.
§ Sir. A. Hope
, in explanation, stated, that if the hon. gentleman meant to insinuate that the motion had originated with any of his military friends, who were high in office, he laboured under a complete mistake.
§ Sir John Nicholl
expressed his willingness to concur in the motion, and he did so under the impression that there was a possibility that the sovereign might, before his death, become sensible to the objects around him. If then, such an event was to take place, in what light could this paltry saying of 1,000l. be viewed, when the satisfaction of the royal mind was considered? His majesty, when surrounded by his faithful servants, would have the less cause to regret that, for so long a period, he had been shut out from the world, and from all the blessings and comforts of human life.
Mr. Martin (of Galway)
said, that when he heard that a motion for the restoration of the two equerries was to be made, he had declared that it should meet with his support. He confessed that, after what had passed, he was in some embarrassment, from a doubt as to which side he should give his vote, and this doubt was caused by the manner in which the gallant officer had thought fit to word his resolution. He was ready to acquiesce in the motion for the restoration of the two equerries, but he was not prepared to agree with the hon. member in the reasons 1026 he had coupled with the motion. Not to appear, however, inconsistent with his former declarations, he should give his vote in favour of the motion.
§ Mr. Grattan
said, that if the adoption of the motion were capable of adding in any degree to the dignity of the Crown, or the comfort of the sovereign, no man would be more ready to support it than himself; but he felt that, in the present unfortunate situation of the king, to annex a multitudinous train to his majesty would be a mere mockery. He could not accede to such a proposition, although were this train to add in the slightest degree to the dignity of the throne, or the comfort of the king, the grant of 1,000l. or even 10,000l. would, in his view, be a comparatively insignificant object. Were he present upon the proposition to grant 10,000l. to the duke of York, he should most probably have felt it is duty to vote against it; although he would have given his vote with a pang, considering the important services which that illustrious personage had rendered to the army and to the country. But with respect to the proposition before the House, his sense of duty impelled him to vote against it, as its adoption was not at all required by any consideration for the dignity or comfort of the royal family.
§ The previous question being put, "That the question be now put," the House divided: Ayes, 66; Noes, 259.