§ MR. CREYKE
asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether it is a fact that out of the annual sum of £12,000 at the disposal of Her Majesty's Government under the powers of 1 and 2 Vic. c. 2, for the purpose of granting pensions—To persons who have just claims on the Royal beneficence, or who by their personal services to the Crown, by the performance of duties to the public, or by their useful discoveries in science, and attainments in literature and the arts, have merited the gracious consideration of their Sovereign and the gratitude of their Country,a pension of £250 has been granted to Prince Lucien Bonaparte; and, if so, what services he has rendered to the Crown and the Country to entitle His Highness to so considerable a grant of public money?
This Question, though put by my hon. Friend, and purporting to refer to a matter of fact, is very distinctly a challenge of a proceeding; and the difficulty under which I labour is that it would not be possible for me, within the limits of an answer, to give to my hon. Friend or the House all the information, or any considerable part of the information, which I have studied to acquire. My hon. Friend will, therefore, be kind enough to suppose that what I answer is merely the heads of it, which I shall be prepared to enlarge upon on a future occasion. He asks what services Prince Lucien Bonaparte has rendered to the Crown and the country to entitle him to so considerable a grant of money as £250 per annum. Now, according to the Act of Parliament under which these pensions are given on my responsibility, attainments in literature are considered as services to the Crown and the country. I have, however, been in the habit of imposing upon myself a further limitation; because I am not sure that attainments in literature, taken by themselves, are quite enough to warrant me, according to the view I take of my duty, in giving these pensions. I will state what I conceive are services to literature as distinct from attainments. A man may have great attainments in literature, and may carry those attainments to the 1228 grave with him, without doing any good to the world; but services to literature I conceive to be strictly services to the Crown and country, within the meaning of the Act. My hon. Friend will, therefore, ask, what are the services to literature which Prince Lucien has rendered? I do not hesitate to say that, in my opinion, he has rendered very great services to literature indeed; and not only so, but he has rendered precisely the services for which these pensions are specially and peculiarly intended. The services rendered by Prince Lucien are philological services, and philological services are services of a nature indispensable to the effective prosecution either of the history of human thought or the history of human affairs. Every-one who has even the slightest acquaintance with the subject will bear me out in what I say to that effect. But, at the same time, they are services which the public, considered as customers for work, do not remunerate; and I can give a most singular and remarkable illustration of that fact, which may be drawn from recent occurrences. At the present moment, it is probably known to the House that there is in preparation an important extension of the dictionary of the English language. It is now being prosecuted upon a scale hitherto unknown to previous research; and here we are dealing with a great philological work which does concern immediate utility; and yet, notwithstanding, it has been found impossible to find any publisher who would undertake the responsibility of producing this work. The expenses connected with it, and the risks of it, have therefore been undertaken—and, I think, much to the credit of the body—by the University of Oxford. If that is the case with regard to the construction of a dictionary, the House may very well consider what it will be with regard to the case of a gentleman who does not construct a dictionary, but goes down to the minute investigation and collection of the original rudimentary facts, out of which all the knowledge required for a dictionary must necessarily be collected. That may give the House some idea what has been the work and services of Prince Lucien Bonaparte. This gentleman, I am happy to say, is a British subject, and he became one long before my right hon. and learned Friend (Sir William 1229 Harcourt) raised the fee, and he has devoted his life mainly to the purposes of philological inquiry; and when he had a considerable fortune—which, I am sorry to say, is not now the case—he spent upon these physological inquiries sums, I apprehend, very much larger than the rather trifling amount which, beginning at 70 years of age, he can hope to derive from this pension. Not only in the collection of books, but largely in the printing of books, and in the gratuitous distribution of books to all students of philology, and to every great Institution connected with philology, the funds which Prince Lucien possessed were largely and liberally expended. I am in hopes that I have said almost enough upon this matter. But suppose I were to take one particular instance to tell my hon. Friend, by way of a specimen. I believe there are no less than 160 of these operations of printing which Prince Lucien has executed in other and happier days—at least in days more abundantly provided—at his own expense. Amongst them is the printing of the Gospel of St. Matthew in 29 dialects and languages, for the accuracy of every one of which he is personally responsible, and which represents absolutely his own work. He has printed The Song of the Three Children in 11 dialects of the Basque language; and he has printed the Parable of the Sower in 72 European languages and dialects. The House knows that comparison—comparative philology—is that to which the mind of all students is directed; and they may conceive what labours these are which could have enabled knowledge to be gathered in quarters so remote and forms so elementary as these. In this country 30 years ago, I believe—but, at any rate, long ago—Prince Lucien Bonaparte received a doctor's degree from the University of Oxford for these labours, and I believe there is hardly a country in Europe in which honorary distinctions have not been awarded to him. Now, Sir, finally, my hon. Friend says this "so considerable grant of public money." Well, Sir, the value of this considerable grant as it can be estimated for a man of 70 is something under £1,600; and I have only to say that while I do not shrink from any part of the responsibility of having awarded this pension, I am extremely sorry—and I am disposed even to say I take some 1230 shame to myself—for not having awarded it at an earlier period to this distinguished scholar.