« ZurückWeiter »
and I am confident that, distinguished as opinion of counsel, it was an opinion not we have always been as a nation for our upon any legal question, but upon a meagood faith, we shall not permit Mr. Pal. sure depending in parliament, an opinion mer's case to form an exception to the secured by Mr. Palmer, to influence the character which we have so uniformly votes of that House. Mr. P. had recommaintained, but that we shall fulfil an mended the payment of false bills to the agreement to which I contend we are contractor of mail coaches, to put in inbound by every tie of honour, of justice, efficient officers where efficient ones were and of sound policy.-.Mr. Pierrepont necessary, and to cause a later delivery then moved the following Resolutions :- of letters. It had been said that Mr. P. 1." That it appears from the report of | did not act upon this advice; but was not the committee appointed to take into a superior giving directions to an inferior, consideration the agreement made with in fact acting upon it? He would acknowMr. Palmer for the reform and improve. ledge that Mr. P. had great merit, if not ment of the Post-office and its revenue, for inventing the plan of the mail coaches, that an agreement was made by the chan. yet for his perseverance in carrying it cellor of the exchequer for the proposed into execution; at the same time he must improvement and reform, by which Mr. / maintain that Mr. P. was not entitled to Palmer was to receive a certain fixed per what was now claimed ; that he had forcentage on all the produce of the revenue feited all right to a continuance in his of the Post-office over and above the office, in consequence of the endeavours annual sum of 240,0001.-2. That it ap- he made to throw the Post-office into conpears by the said report, that Mr. Palmer fusion. Government had allowed him has performed his part of the agreement; 3,0001. a year; and, he would ask whether and that his reform and improvement of that was not a fit reward for his merits ? the posts have proved highly beneficial to When he saw lord Duncan, and other illusthe trade and commerce of the kingdom, trious admirals who had performed the as well as to the revenue.-3. Therefore, most signal services allowed pensions of that Mr. Palmer is justly entitled to the 2,0001. a year, he could not think Mr. full benefit of his agreement."
Palmer unhandsomely rewarded. Mr. Long said, that Mr. Palmer had Mr. Hobhouse said, that the question forfeited his agreement with the commis- divided itself into two parts: 1, the nature sioners of the Treasury. What formed of the agreement; and 2, the conduct of the ground of that agreement? Was it Mr. P. in his official situation. With that Mr. P. was to carry into effect a regard to the agreement made with Mr. P. certain plan, and then to receive a certain in 1785, there could be no doubt upon reward Was it not rather that he was to that head; the only question was, whether be put into a public office, in order to he had forfeited his right to claim it? As control the expenditure of the public to the merits of his plan, it might be disrevenue, and to improve the plan for the puted whether or not he had increased more expeditious conveyance of letters ? the revenue to the degree which had Now, if it should appear that Mr. P. not been stated, yet unquestionably his plan only connived at, but actually counte- had considerably increased the revenue. nanced frauds ; if it should appear that Great stress had been laid on the improhe laid a plan to counteract his own, and priety of his letters to his deputy; but no to cause a later delivery of letters, instead allowance had been made for his feelings, of expediting them, surely he was not smarting under a sense of injury, and entitled to the full extent of the original betrayed by Mr. Bonnor, who endeavoured stipulation. Mr. Long read several letters to make him believe that he had been illfrom Mr. Palmer to Mr. Bonnor, the treated by the postmaster-general. He tendency of which was, to throw the Post had not, however, acted upon the direcoffice into “ glorious confusion,” by tions he had given. By the testimony of causing a late delivery of letters, and to the postmaster-general'it appeared, that cover that fraud of false and exorbitant when the contractor's charge was to be bills on the office, which it was his duty settled, Mr. P. prevailed on him to accept to have detected. Mr. P. acted in this of a moderate demand, and the same testimatter, not from any sudden impulse of mony acknowledged that his conduct, as resentment, but systematically. Thus to integrity, was unimpeachable; it could had he failed in his part of the agreement not therefore be believed, that he was sith the public. With regard to the guilty of fraud, or of countenancing fraud.
With respect to his suggestion to Mr. regard to the commissioners of inquiry,
Mr. W. Dundas denied that any grant ration of the American war, which stands could have been made to Mr. Palmer of distinguished in the annals of this country an appointment for life independent of from every other war of any length, by the postmaster-general : his claim this peculiar circumstance, that never, in
ght forward for what he would any one year of its continuance, did our have enjoyed had it not been for his own exports and imports reach the level of the misconduct. Ought not Mr. P. to have preceding peace; so that, clearly, it was fulfilled his part of the agreement; and not to the extension of our commerce, was it not one part of that agreement that during these niue years, that any augmenhe should accelerate the delivery of let- tation, if any actually existed, in the ters? But bad he not endeavoured to receipts of the post-office, could be fairly retard the delivery? Had he not been attributed. The probable cause was the detected in suborning an inferior officer, greater intercourse, and increased facility and that for the purpose of throwing of communication within the kingdom, blame on the postmaster-general? With which it was the excellence of Mr.
Palmer's plan to have systematically im- fluous; but binding on the equity, the proved, and carried to perfection in the honour, and liberality of the public. department, which he undertook to regu- The hon. gentleman who had last spo. late and reform. But it was unvecessary ken, had very dexterously professed to to answer arguments of this kind in detail. pass over every thing anterior to what he The lords of the Treasury had precluded had called the modified agreement of them all, when, considering themselves as 1789. He could by no means agree to bound by no public faith, and having the this mode of viewing the subject. But whole of Mr. Palmer's conduct before there was one point which was settled them, they had ranked him among the by that modified agreement beyond all greatest benefactors of his country; for dispute. It ascertained with precision the reward, which they had ultimately the extent of the reward which Mr. advised their sovereign to bestow upon Palmer was to receive. It clearly fixed him, was equal to the grant, with which the nature of the augmentation from the public munificence usually remune which he was to derive his per-centage. rated the most splendid achievements of. He was to derive it from every augmenthose, whose victories had brought safety, tation over and above the sum of 240,0001. or glory to the state.
unless where the difference arose from The conduct of that board, in referring any additional rates of postage, which as it were, the question to the House, parliament might impose, or from any Dr. L. thought agreeable to their public diminution which new regulations might duty. They found an officer in one of effect in the packet establishment. These the revenue departments suspended by two were the only exceptions expressed; his lawful superiors; and that suspension, and the introduction of these operated they judged it necessary not only to con. still more powerfully to the exclusion of firm, but to follow with a dismission. all others, than if no exception whatever According to the letters of the commission had appeared on the face of the instruunder which he held his place, his emo- ment; since these irrefragably demonluments ceased with his official situation. strated, that all the various possible Combining all these circumstances, they sources of future increase to the revenue might not regard it as consistent with were not overlooked when Mr. Palmer's their limited, delegated and responsible appointment was framed. To what purpower over the public purse, to hear of a pose, then, served official documents, secret understanding and tacit construc- speculations, and conjectures intended to tion, by which, contrary to the expression show other causes of prosperity in the of the instrument itself, a considerable income of the Post-office than the excelcharge was to be entailed on the nation. lence of Mr. Palmer's reforms? One They satisfied themselves therefore with purpose only could be served by them; handsomely paying what had actually that of confusing and misleading the been done; yet at the same time they committee. But the use that had been consented that the whole claim in its made of that instrument by the hon. fullest extent, should be submitted to the gentleman who had thought it decisive of investigation of that House, to which the tenure on which Mr. Palmer held his alone it belonged in such cases, to exer- emoluments, was the last use, Dr. L. cise an equitable and wise generosity with said, which he would consent to make of the money of the people. Sitting in that it. If the letter of Mr. Palmer's appoints committee, even they who had before ment in 1789 was conclusive, where had concurred in the grant already made to been the necessity of a long inquiry? Mr. Palmer, were in po degree bound by Why had a committee been appointed their former decision ; much less ought to consider of the agreement made with that decision to influence the judgment of Mr. Palmer for the reform and improveothers. The true question was, whether ment of the post-office?" Why had that taking the whole evidence into considera committee produced a bulky report? And tion, the spirit and essence of the original why was a committee of the whole House, agreement, and not the mere words of now sitting on that report? the commisthe subsequent commission, were or were sion of 1789, would have spoken for itself not binding in favour of Mr. Palmer? in a single line--in three words.
He He did not mean binding with the force should therefore think him.self at liberty of a legal obligation; then the inquiry to ascend much higher, and should wish of that House would have been super to refer the committee to another com(VOL. XXXIV.]
He gave up
mission, never executed indeed, but cept less than he had always solicited ? proved in evidence to have been prepared | Does that agreement contain any comsome time in the
pensation for that which it is said to have It had been intimated, that the draft in taken away ? Nothing of all this. When question could not now be found in the Mr. Palmer first undertook the execution Treasury, that it was, therefore, a paper of his own plan, he was opposed by all of doubtful authenticity; probably drawn the authority and information of the Postup by some friend of Mr. Palmer; a office. Volume was added to volume, mere project submitted to, but never ap- folio to folio, of objection upon objection, proved by government. This, however, to prove the whole scheme impracticable was not agreeable to the evidence before in all its parts. He defended himself as the coinmittee. Some intended appoint- he could in this paper-war, and he triment or other, to the very same effect, is umphed in the experiments which he inrepeatedly mentioned about the time, in stantly made on some of the principal the negociation which took place between roads, at his own immediate expense, at Mr. Palmer and the chancellor of the his own ultimate hazard. exchequer, through the mediation of the his own private concerns, by no means present lord Camden. Above all, the inconsiderable; he dedicated himself draft of the commission itself was pro- wholly to the public service in which he duced to the postmaster-general by Mr. had engaged; he urged it forward with Palmer, when, in 1790, he had some an activity and perseverance, which had dissentions with the noble lords who filled been said by one hon. gentleman, with a that office. Upon that he stood, as the great degree of truth, to have formed a real tenure of his situation. Fortified principal part of his merit.
His plan with that, he threatened them with a gradually developed itself in practice. reference to the chancellor of the exche- Still he was thwarted by the officers of quer. Could he, could any man in his the old establishment, who, when they senses have so acted, if he were conscious could not openly resist, secretly threw that the production of that very instru- every little obstacle in the way of his ment would have ruined his whole cause progress. But every new difficulty which with the judge whom he had chosen? he had to surmount, gave additional merit Indeed, the chancellor of the exchequer to Mr. Palmer's success. He had surhimself has admitted that he “ rather mounted them all ; he had firmly and imbelieves the draft to have been prepared moveably established his plan; the comat the Treasury, or by directions from missioners of public inquiry had reported thence, and from thence communicated in its favour; the revenue of the state had to the attorney-general.” What then was felt its beneficial effects; it had risen the language of that original draft? It much above the mark where his per-cenwas distinctly “ for life.” Lord Camden, tage was to commence; he had already too, represented it at the time, as the earned the reward for which he had sti. opinion entertained by the chancellor of pulated; when, as the committee was the exchequer himself that the appoint- now desired to believe, he all at once, ment ought to be such as to secure Mr. without any assignable reason, knowingly Palmer against any change of administra- and intentionally, consented to accept, tion. Could it then be supposed, that he instead of a per-centage for life, the very was not to be secured against that very same rate of emolument dependent on minister who wished him to be secured the pleasure of the postmaster-general; against all? That minister had himself on the pleasure of persons, who from fairly stated, that according to the outline the first had been unfavourable to all his of the original terms, “ Mr. Palmer was views, and with whom he had been in a to have an appointment for life.”
perpetual contest. Was it possible to beBut all this
, it was maintained, Mr. lieve this ? Could it be explained upon Palmer himself, in 1789, had voluntarily any known system of human action? Did abandoned. Now, what could have in. be gain in power and patronage what he duced him so to relinquish at once what sacrificed in the security of his income? he had so long and so earnestly pressed No; the very reverse. He says, and in in all his early negotiations with govern that he is confirmed by the chancellor of ment! How was he situated at the date the exchequer, that the original commisof what is called the modified agreement sion fixing his profits for life, and making Did he lie under any temptation to ac. him independent of the postmaster-general, was only laid aside because such a once proposed for him had been actually separate appointment was thought in- signed and sealed ? compatible with the existing law. Had But even a patent office, it would pernot that legal objection occurred, not to haps be said, might be in some cases vathe nature of the reward which he was cated.
cated. Incontrovertibly it might. But to receive, but of the powers which he what were those cases? And was the prewas to exercise, that would have been sent one of the number? He had underdone which he wished, and to which the stood from men of eminence in that prominister intended to accede. When it fession, which was more immediately conwas found that his commission could not versant than his own, in the construction be made out from the Treasury, but that of instruments, that there were two it must come from the postmaster-gene-grounds only of setting aside a patent : ral alone, it was a necessary consequence one was corruption in the discharge of that the compensation for his services the duties annexed to the office; the should also be derived to him through other was more generally, any gross misthe same channel. But he constantly re- behaviour attended with actual injury to garded this as the form only, not the es- the service. Of corruption Mr. Palmer sence of his appointment. He always be- was not accused. Both the noblemen, lieved the real and true interpretation who filled the situation of postmaster-geboth of his authority and of his emolu- neral bore positive testimony to his personal ments, to be, in effect, the same as under integrity. But one fact of his own conduct the original agreement. This was clearly spoke more strongly in his behalf, than no after-thought on his part. While the could any testimony of opinions, however transaction was fresh, the very year after respectable. He had actually effected his his appointment, when the misunder projected reforms for 20,000l. a year less standings between him and the post- than his own estimate, 20,0001. a year master seem to have reached a higher less than the sum with which government pitch than at any other period since the on the part of the public was willing to first trial of his scheme; when he held purchase the benefits of his plan. Had forth, almost in a tone of menace, an im- he been a corrupt man, here was a fund, mediate application for the accustomed from which, by connivance and collusion, support of the minister, it was upon this from which, by such a participation in the declared ground, that although he was contracts as official men had sometimes nominally under the post-master, he was been supposed to enjoy, he might safely virtually under the Treasury. The man- have drawn to himself secret profits much ner in which his appointment was made beyond all that can ever accrue from the out, he asserted to be but a matter of allowance which he claims. But he represent necessity. And upon this occa- sisted, and broke the combination of consion it was, that, to show the genuine tractors against him; he sought and he nature of his employ, he produccd the discovered one, who speculated more unexecuted draft of the original warrant. sanguinely or more correctly, by whose Nothing, then, could be more manifest, means he was able to reduce the charge than that Mr. Palmer never contem- of mere conveyance much below his pubplated the commission which he took in lic promises, below even his own private 1789, as any modification whatever of expectations. The name of this man was the original agreement: nothing could Wilson.--Now, after this, could the combe more improbable than that the chan- mittee pause a single moment on the cellor of the exchequer could have de charge, which was intimated against Mr. signed it as such a modification, when an Palmer, of showing too much partiality to objection raised not by himself, but by this man? It was urged against him, that the attorney-general alone, prevented he favoured this man in getting some achim from ratifying with all the bind- counts passed, which he had himself proing efficacy of a patent, the original nounced to be extravagant. But these proposals of Mr. Palmer in their fullest accounts all together were for no very extent. If then the equity, the honour, large sum: it could not be surmised that the liberality of the public ought to look Mr. Palmer had any concealed interest in to the fair intention and spirit of the them; he had not even the indirect inagreement, could there be a doubt but that terest of reputation seeking to cover any Mr. Palmer ought to stand on as advan- extravagance of his own.
The simple tageous a footing as if the patent-office truth, according to the evidence, was