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his air pump
much exceeds the comparison of a natural philofophor and
To this species of political animadverfion we are not friend, ly; it is too frequently a medium of indulgence to the meaner passions; and there are doubtless understandings which would difcern, in many of Mr. Tooke's Philippics, more of envy. and recrimination than of wit or patriotism.
In noticing his predecessors in philology, our author pres ferves the fame disposition. His asperity of contempt for the amiable author of Hermes remains unsoftened ; and, in exposing the mistakes of Dr. Johnson, he too often reininds us. of the vulgar and disgusting triumph of Theobald over Pope, as a commentator on the works of Shakspeare.
The State of the Nation, with respect to its public Funded.
Debt, Revenue, and Disbursement; comprized in the Rea ports of the Seleet Committee of Finance, appointed by the House of Commons, to examine and fiate the total Amount of the Public Debts, and of the Interest and Charges attending the same, as they stood the 5th of Jan. 1797 : particularizing the Receipts and Disbursements of the several undermentioned Offices : viz. Treasury, Exchequer, Secretary of State, Cuftom House, Excisë Office, Stamp Office, Post Office, Tax Office, War Office, Ordnance Office, Barrack Office, Trans Sport Office, Ädmiralty Board, Salt Office, Hackney Coach Office, Hawkers and Pedlers Office, Pensions, Salaries, and Fees Office, First Fruits, and Tenth's Office, Bank of England, and South Sea Company. The Names of the Superior Officers and Clerks in each Department--their Salaries and Fres. Together with the Amount of whatever additional Pensions or Salaries they receive from other Situations--paid
by the Public. 2 Vols. Svo. 105. Sewed. Symonds. 1798. The Reports from the Scleet Committee of the House of Coma
mons on Finance, as presented to that House; containing an Account of the Public-funded Debt, Taxes, Unfunded Debt, &c. Svo. 5.5. Jewed. Debrett. 1798.
If the public expences of this realm have of late years amounted to a sum which our forefathers would have thought fo enormous, that it would be impossible to raise it, and whicly exceeds the expenditure of any state upon record, we have the fatisfaction of reficcing, that no nation has taken more pains. to make public the ftate of its finances, or has aimed more at aconomy in its public offices. By what means fucb laudable endeavours are continually thwarted, future committees will make the object of their inquiries; and they will receive frou
the work before us such a fund of information, that, if the evils pointed out in these reports remain uncorrected, the neglect will be folely occafioned by the want of patriotic energy in a future house of commons. Every article of expenditure is here disposed under its proper head; the state of cach office is in general well explained; and if in any case there is a defect of information from the refusals of men high in station, we hope that the power of the legislature will hereafter be exerted, to teach sach individuals, that he who receives any portion of the public money, thall, at the requibition of the parliament, give a full account of his receipts and disbursements. | The multifarious objects which these reports comprehend, preclude us from giving our readers, within the li:nits of our plan, an adequate idea of their contents. In many instances, a table of figures, or dry details of office, would be necessary to do justice to the diligence and industry of the committee; but, as a minute investigation of all the circumstances, on which its conclusions are founded, will be less interesting to the generality of readers than the results of its inquiries, we fhall extract fome of the remarks that occur at the end of the twenty-second report, with which in most points we agree; and it will be easy to judge, whether there is not room for difference of opinion between a committee, constituted as we understand that of the house of commons to have been, and ourselves, who have no profpect of emolument from any diftribution whatever of the offices or finecures of the state.
Some general remarks have occurred to your committee in the course of their inquiries, of which they have expressly reserved the ftatement for the concluGon of these reports.
• I. They beg leave to observe, that the justice and liberality of the executive government will be called upon, in all instances where the measures proposed by your committee, if adopted, may occasion the removal of individuals from their present offices, to make suitable compensation to all such persons, until opportunities fall occur of placing them in other official situations, of duties in some degree similar, and of profits proportionate to the fair and ordinary emoluments of their former offices, so far as it may be practicable; a due attention to public economy requiring that the earliest means should be taken for making such arrangements.
' ]I. That it may very materially conduce to the ends of public economy, if parliament should think fit to require annual accounts of every increase and diminution which may have taken place in the course of each preceding year, in the salaries, emoluinents, and expences of all public offices.
* III. It appearing to your committee, that a practice has long prevailed (though checked of late in many important instances) of
persons employed in the public service holding linecure offices, and that cafes have occurred of persons holding several offices at the same time; your committee think it their duty to submit some obfervations on finecures and efficient places, either as holden feparately, or as combined in the same person.
1. A finecure, in the opinion of your committee, is to be confidered only as a pension with an ostensible office annexed to it; and whether a finecure be such from the nature of the office, or whe. ther it be rendered such by the principal officer of an efficient department employing an allowed deputy, there is no material difference in the propriety or impropriety of uniting it with other offices.
' It appears to your committee, that finecure offices of high rank in some of the antient establishments of the state, may be usefully employed, in particular instances, as, either to accompany à peerage given for the reward of personal services, or, to secure an honourable retreat to persons who are entitled to marks of public favour by the long and meritorious discharge of the duties of high office, or who have sacrificed lucrative professional situations on engaging in the public service; by vesting fuch offices in the persons themselves, or in their immediate descendants. And parliament, in reforming the exchequer, seems to have recognized the general principle, by preserving some of the highest and most honourable offices in that department, as the means of enabling the crown to make provisions of this nature.
• But your committee conceive, as to finecures less connected with circumstances of honour or distinction, that if they are designed as provisions for persons, who may deservedly be the object of royal bounty, a provision of equal value in the direct form of a pension, is more strictly characteristic of its púrpore, and therefore more likely to be watched in its amount and application. All the patent offices in the customs, of which the commissioners of accounts recommended the abolition, were finecures of this defcription.
. It has also not escaped the notice of your committee, that finecure offices are liable to an evil, which is the just object of public jealousy, inasmuch as persons who would not avowedly hold penfions in their own name, and could not eafily prevail upon others to hold them in their names, may find it teľs difficult to profit clandestinely, or even illegally, by appointments of this description, under the cover of a trust vested in some other person, who is reprefented to the public as the real holder of the office. And your committee beg leave to observe, that parliament has repeatedly marked its sense of the posibility of the evil consequences of this abufe in either cafe, by prohibiting persons from fitting in the house of commons for whom pensions or disqualifying offices are holden in trust.
2. The union of several finecures in the fame perfon, accordi
ing to the view which your committee have taken of this fubject, will differ from the case of a single finecure only in the degree of profit or honour annexed to them, and not in the propriety with which they may be bestowed : but the union of inferior finecures to efficient places, can only be proper, as a mode of giving an adequate compensation to an officer whose falary is inadequate : and your committee are of opinion with the commissioners of inquiry, that the neceffity of resorting to such modes of compensation should be done away, by giving adequate salaries in all cases, and by the establishment of some proper mode of superannuation.
3.. It is the union of more than one efficient office in the same person which is liable to become in many instances still more prejudicial to the public service.
• If the duties of each require to be performed at the same time, and at places remote from each other, the plurality is mischievous in its effect and example : it throws the duty of some of these offices into the hands of persons, who were not originally selected for them, and who do not receive the rewards annexed by the public to such services. Your committee see with concern and disapprobation, that a practice has long prevailed in some of the departments which they have investigated, of allowing individuals to hold several efficient offices, which appear to your comınittee to be in, their nature incompatible.
• But it is equally clear, that if the duties incident to each employment can be performed without either of them interfering with the other, the public may derive very essential advantages from such arrangements. Even as a nieafıure of economy, it may
become prudent to unite offices of this class together, whenever the duties, are necessary, but not frequent; because it will enable the public to obtain the performance of each at less charge than if the person appointed to it was prohibited from holding other employments, as he must, in such case, have a falary, or some other provision sufficient to maintain hiin even when unoccupied. The public may. also derive advantages of much higher importance from such an union of offices, if their duties are consistent, by availing itself to the utmost of the talents of individuals ; and if the respective duties of such offices be faithfully discharged, justice and policy will concur in fan&tioning an accumulated reward for accumulated services.'
P. 288. As finecures are justly odious to the nation, we would recommend the abolition of them. Let persons employed by the state receive liberal pay for those services which they perforin ; and, when, after a long course of actual service, they can no longer perform their duties, let the state gratify them with pensions : but the custom of giving to one man a place, and obliging him to pay an annuity to anotherấthe practice of making one place a finecure to reward the activity of a
person in another—the appointment of a peer or a great coma moner to a place which he intends to fill by deputy--are pitiful expedients, disgraceful to the receivers of such salaries, and to a great and liberal nation.
We have observed, that it would carry us too far into details, to examine minutely each of the reports: but we may, by detached extracts, show that the committee has not been inattentive to its duty, and that extraordinary abuses have been suffered to exist in the adıninistration of our finances.
No circumstances which have come to the knoivledge of your committee have explained, to their fatisfaction, how it has happen ed, that, without any exception, for thirty years past, the receivers general in Scotland, upon their death or quitting of the office, have constantly been in arrear to a very large amount, and in two particular instances far beyond the sums which the receiver-general professes to keep in his hands, as necessary, according to his statement, to reimburse him for the charge of executing the office, and in lieu of that poundage which in England is received on the land tax as well as on the assessed taxes, but which in Scotland is con. fined to the assessed taxes alone. This fact is so striking, that your committee have no scruple to say, there appears to them to be some radical defect in the fyftem, which requires to be corrected,"
The establishment of the Hackney-coach Office is represented by the committee as too expensive.
• In whichever way the wisdom of parliament máy ultimately think fit to reform this department, the present expence which it occasions to the public seems to admit of material retrenchment.' P. 138.
The allowances for the management of the national debt, are also considered by the investigators as too great.
In comparing the extent of the services performed, and the compensation given, it will certainly be proper to advert to the growing amount of the public debt ; but at the same time it must always be kept in view, that upon an establifliment already formed, there is no reason for supposing that the actual disbursements will always increase in exact proportion with the increased amount of the transferable capital; and it must be also remembered, that the commissioners for auditing the public accounts have stated it as their opinion, that the business might be transacted at the exchequer, as it was formerly, (or even by a separate office establified for the purpose,) at a sum less than one-third of the present charge ; that the bank, over and above the present charges of management, are accustomed to receive allowances from the public, at the rate of 8951. 155. rod. per million, for receiving contributions