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of Parliament; that in making this exchange of the hereditary revenues for a fixed civil list, the nation, instead of being burdened, was benefited, the annual produce of those revenues greatly exceeding the amount of the civil list granted in their stead.
In opposition to these representations, the author of the Reply lays down the following position: "That, from first to last, the Regium Donum has been what it now is, a State contribution to ministers of religion, and therefore involves the principle of all endowments, and must stand or fall with them."
The arguments by which he endeavours to establish this position we purpose to examine a little in detail.
He contends, first, that even admitting, for argument sake, that the Royal Bounty was originally bestowed out of the hereditary revenues of the Crown, those revenues were not the private personal fund of the Sovereign, but official property, which could not be alienated, and over which the people always claimed and exercised the right of control.
The author attaches considerable importance to the distinction between a personal private income and a public official revenue. The hereditary revenues of the Crown were, he states, the official, not the personal, income of the Sovereign. But, in effect, this is asserting a simple truism. It is tantamount to saying, the King's revenues are the revenues of the King. They are held by the Sovereign, most certainly, in virtue of his high station, for the maintenance of his regal state and dignity. His occupation of the throne creates the right, and is the indispensable condition, of his possession and disposal of them. But this, we apprehend, is no part of the controversy between the advocates and the opponents of the grant. The question is not, whether the revenues be official or personal, or, as the author quaintly puts the case, be those of a man or of a king; but what power the Sovereign has over the appropriation of those revenues, or the surplus of them, after discharging the official pecuniary obligations of his regal station, and whether he can apply any portion of that surplus to private or personal objects, and especially to charitable purposes, unconnected with the service of the State?
The official revenue of the King must be deemed to be similar to the official income of any other high public functionary whose position implies the obligation to maintain an expensive establishment. In the application of his income, the first duty of such a functionary is to pay his officers and attendants, and defray the other charges incident to his official station. This being done, the rest of his income is obviously as completely at his optional disposal as if it arose out of his personal estate. And this is precisely the case with the Sovereign. The hereditary revenues were first applicable to the charges of the Royal establishment and the civil government; all that remained after the payment of such charges must be considered as, in effect, a private and personal fund, disposable at the pleasure of the King. Looking at the array of historical facts relating to this subject, so industriously set forth in the Reply, we confidently state that there is nothing in them that is not in accordance with this view of the regal revenues, and with this right and power of the Sovereign in the appropriation of them.
The hereditary revenues attached to the Crown of England were created by William the First. They sprung from his conquest of the country, and were the produce of the vast estates and properties, of various descriptions, which he seized and retained on ascending the English throne. Some of the estates with which he enriched his possessions had indeed been previously held by the Saxon Kings, and the Royal demesnes enumerated in the Domesday Survey were probably attached to the Crown under Edward the Confessor. But William took forcible possession of the whole by right of conquest, and made them his own absolute property. Nor did he content himself with what were already regarded as Royal estates. He appropriated to himself other properties to an immense amount. Afterwards, it is true, he made liberal grants out of the confiscated estates of the Saxon nobles who had opposed him, to the Norman barons who had embarked in his cause and aided his triumph. But after dispensing all these large gifts, the portion he reserved for himself enhanced his revenues immeasurably beyond what had ever before been enjoyed by the Sovereign of the country. We ask, then, what power did he retain over the appropriation of this vast income? Did he allow any "Constitution" of preceding times to remain in force, or did he establish any new Constitution," which placed restraints upon his will in the disposal of his revenues? Where were then "the people" who are said to have " always claimed and exercised the right of control over them"? He certainly recognized no power in the realm that could interfere in his expenditure, or place restraints upon his sovereign pleasure, in the choice of the objects, or the determination of the amount, of his payments. In the case, then, of the founder of the English monarchy, it is evident there was no distinction in the revenues between those which pertained to the king and those which belonged to the man.
Had the successors of the Conqueror to whom these revenues descended possessed similar mental energy, military reputation, and political power to command the confidence or resist the encroachments of their subjects, they would have held and appropriated the Royal revenues with equal independence, and the same entire freedom from external control. Fortunately, however, the Kings that followed were destitute of such high endowments. And the aristocracy which the Conqueror had created by the establishment of the feudal system, and enriched with the estates of the vanquished Saxons, acquired by degrees an authority and influence in the State, which enabled them to place checks upon the proceedings of their regal feudal head. The author of the Reply contends that those checks were applied to the employment of the hereditary revenues, restrained the Sovereign from any private or personal appropriation of them, and limited the application strictly to State purposes. They could not, he affirms, be alienated even by the Monarch himself; and when grants were made, they were revoked by the King or the Parliament. These statements are not, however,
sustained by adequate evidence.
That the regal successors of the Conqueror claimed and exercised the right to make grants and alienations of the Crown estates, is sufficiently demonstrated by the fact, that all the manors and manorial rights now held by private persons in England were originally derived
from such alienations, not resisted by the Parliament, and afterwards confirmed by long prescription. Some of the Anglo-Norman Sovereigns, holding the Crown by a doubtful or disputed title, found it necessary, or deemed it expedient, to purchase support by grants of this sort from their possessions to persons whose devotion to their interests they thought it important to secure. These grants were often large and even prodigal in extent, and were sometimes conferred with the view of fortifying the Sovereign in acts of oppression or extravagance against the opposition of some of the nobility. To guard against such an abuse of the regal power, the barons began early to approach the throne with their complaints, to recommend and even insist on the abrogation of gifts which they deemed improvident or dangerous to the public liberty.
These proceedings, though apparently hostile and seditious, were not always regarded by the Sovereigns as offensive interferences with the prerogative. The grants had, in some instances, been wrung from them by importunate suitors, and generally forced upon them by their immediate necessities. They were therefore not sorry to be furnished with a plea to recover their possessions. The resumptions cost them nothing. They told the holders they had not the legal power to part with what they had sold, and compelled them to make immediate restitution, even though they had paid for the estates the full value. There is, then, no difficulty in admitting, what this writer contends for on the authority of D'Avenant, that soon after the Conquest the Sovereigns found it necessary to make resumption of grants out of the hereditary revenues. It is, however, evident. from the testimony of the best historians, that at this very period the Sovereigns had a liberal discretion in the expenditure of the profits of the Crown estates, and, after providing for the public service, had large sums at their absolute command for objects of a private or personal nature, to which they often applied them. The resumptions were confined almost wholly to the grants of landed property and the rights connected with the regal estates. The profits or revenues derived from them were left to the King's discretionary disposal.
There is a remarkable fact connected with these resumptions, illustrative of this distinction, left untouched by the author, but of material importance, as indicating the limits fixed to them by the Sovereigns. When they judged it proper to yield to the applications to recal their grants, they made express stipulations for the exemption of certain gratuities and donations from the revenues of a personal and private, and often charitable nature, their right and authority to bestow which they held to be absolute and indisputable. The author could not have been ignorant of the fact. It is recorded by his great authority, D'Avenant,* who refers to the Rolls of Parliament in which these exceptions are enumerated, and even inserts some of them in his pages. These exceptions are fully in point, and establish all that the distributors of the Parliamentary Grant could desire for the refutation of the argument he has attempted to raise against them from these resumptions. They prove to demonstration that the Sovereigns were
Political and Commercial Works of Charles D'Avenant, LL.D., by Sir Charles Whitworth, 1771, Vol. III. p. 109.
in the habit, in the exercise of a power which was never questioned, when public rights were not invaded, or the public interests injured, of dispensing from their hereditary revenues, the surplus profits of their estates, pecuniary grants to persons whom, from motives of personal regard, or from considerations of benevolence, they wished to serve. From the instances cited by D'Avenant, not to advert to others, it is seen that these grants were often bestowed in the form of pecuniary presents, pensions for life, and annuities for joint lives of two or more persons, with benefit of survivorship,-a circumstance which would in some cases carry the payment into the reign of their successors.
Our limits forbid us to follow the author in his details on this part of the subject; but we may remark generally, that the same system of private donations and personal gifts and gratuities from the hereditary revenues continued to be acted upon until the Revolution of 1688, the whole of the public revenue, including the King's hereditary patrimony, being placed at the disposal of the Sovereign. A solitary exception is indeed found in the revolutionary proceedings in the seventeenth century. At that time, the Parliament seized and sold the whole of the Royal estates and revenues, and applied the proceeds to the public service. But, on the restoration of the monarchy, Charles II. took possession of the regal patrimony as a matter of course, the purchasers receiving no return for the money they had paid for them.
The author of the Reply maintains, that the hereditary revenues emanated, in part at least, from the people, who on that account had a right to control the appropriation of them. His proofs, however, by no means establish his position. He refers, first, to the impost on wool in the time of Edward I. As to this tax, it is a matter of controversy whether it were originally made by the arbitrary will of the King, or by a vote of the Legislature. But, if it was a tax levied by the Parliament, it must be considered, and has been represented by lawyers, as an equivalent paid to the Sovereign for the privilege of lodging the wool for exportation in one of his ports or staples. But though this was ranked at the time among the hereditary revenues, it lasted only till the eleventh year of Edward the Second, when the exportation of wool was prohibited by statute. The history of the hereditary excise is well known. Part of the ancient Crown revenues were derived from the profits of feudal military tenures, from the Court of Wards, and from the prerogative of purveyance and preemption. These payments being regarded as exceedingly troublesome, Charles the Second consented to relinquish them for ever for some less objectionable equivalent. The Parliament, therefore, by the statutes 12 Charles II. c. 24, 25, agreed to grant permanently to the Crown, in lieu of them, the excise on beer and liquors, which were designated the Hereditary Excise. This was, therefore, no tax forced upon the people, but a voluntary grant emanating from themselves for the purchase from the Crown of an ancient obnoxious impost.
The author of the Reply observes, that when the hereditary revenues had been greatly reduced by the improvidence of the Sovereigns, the deficiencies were made up by Parliament, and that consequently Blackstone's Comment., Vol. I. Book i. Chap. viii., article Customs, § i., edit. 1793, p. 313.
† Book i. Chap. viii. § vi., p. 286.
their income was so far derived from taxation. But these were only occasional occurrences, and of temporary duration. By more careful management, the Crown properties became more productive, and rendered unnecessary these Parliamentary aids, so far as the expenses of the King's household were concerned, though perhaps continued in some cases to meet the extraordinary expenses of the civil government. The state of the Crown revenues under the house of Brunswick may be appealed to in illustration of this remark.
Before we quit this part of the subject, it may be satisfactory to see what D'Avenant, our author's great authority on Resumptions, asserts as to the power of the English Sovereigns over their hereditary revenues. "From the time of Rufus," observes this very respectable writer, "our Kings have thought that they might alienate and dispose of the Crown lands, and have acted on this impression."-"The Constitution seems to have left the Crown free, upon this tacit trust, as he has all his other powers, that he should do nothing which may tend to the destruction of the subject."-"The King always might make grants, and those grants, if passed according to the forms prescribed by law, were valid, and pleadable not only against him, but his successors.
Here, then, it is explicitly admitted, that the King might, out of the hereditary revenues, make such grants as are contended for, and that, if made according to the prescribed forms, such grants are binding, not alone on the grantor himself, but also on his successors, provided only that they were not hurtful to the public.
The author of the Reply contends further, that the Sovereign had no legal power to make private grants out of the hereditary revenues, because those revenues accompanied the Crown in all changes of succession, as public property at the disposal of the nation; and he refers for illustration to the circumstances which followed the Revolution of 1688. But it must be borne in mind, that these were extraordinary times, productive of events without precedent in the history of the country, and unwarranted by any existing law. When the nation cashiered James the Second, they broke the line of regal succession, and the Crown of England ceased for a season to be hereditary. The people made themselves the depositories of the sovereign power, but with no view of exercising that power themselves, by subverting the kingly government. They held it only until such time as it could be safely conveyed to another monarch. Accordingly, when the vacant throne was filled by the elevation of William III. to that dignity, they invested him with the sovereign authority in as ample a manner as it had been held by preceding Kings.
With the sovereign power they took into their keeping the hereditary revenues of the Crown. But they claimed no right, like the Parliament in the seventeenth century, to dispose of them for the public benefit, or to apply them to the general expenses of the State. sidering them to be the rightful appendage of the Crown, the moment the throne was filled, they conferred them upon the new Sovereign, during life, with no restrictions whatever as to the employment of them, but with all the same rights of appropriation as had been possessed by his Royal predecessors.
* Political Works of Charles D'Avenant, ut supra, Vol. III. pp. 178, &c.