Page images
PDF
EPUB

more spirit, if, besides his own glory, he thinks it may be a provision for his family.

I never heard any inconvenience objected to literary property, but that of enhancing the price of books. An owner may find it worth while to give more correct and more beautiful editions; which is an advantage to literature: but his interest will prevent the price from being unreasonable. A small profit in a speedy and numerous sale, is much larger gain, than a great profit upon each book in a slow sale of a less number.

Upon every principle of reason, natural justice, morality, and common law, upon the evidence of the long received opinion of this property, appearing in ancient proceedings, and in law-cases; upon the clear sense of the legislature; and the opinions of the greatest lawyers of their time in the Court of Chancery, since that Statute; the RIGHT of an author to the COPY of his works appears to be well-founded. And I hope the learned and industrious will be permitted from henceforth, not only to reap the fame, but the PROFITS of their ingenious labors, without interruption, to the honor and advantage of themselves and their families.

[ocr errors]

SUBSTANCE

OF THE

SPEECH

OF

W. HUSKISSON, ESQ.

IN THE

HOUSE OF COMMONS,

IN A COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE HOUSE,

UPON THE

RESOLUTIONS

PROPOSED BY THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER

RESPECTING THE

STATE OF THE FINANCES

AND THE

Sinking Fund

OF

GREAT BRITAIN,

On Thursday, the 25th of March 1813.

SECOND EDITION.

NEVER BEFORE PUBLISHED.

NOTHE

BOD

SUBSTANCE

&c. &c.

MR. LUSHINGTON,

SO MUCH as we must all have lamented the circumstance which occasioned the frequent postponement of this debate; the delay, I trust, has been attended with this good effect, that it has enabled Gentlemen to examine more attentively the principles of the measure which is now under our consideration. In rising to submit to the Committee such observations as have occurred to me on the subject, I can assure you, Sir, that I never offered myself to their notice under feelings of anxiety equal to those which I experience at this momentan anxiety arising not from any apprehension that I shall not be heard by the Committee with their usual kindness and indulgence, but from the deep sense which I entertain of the vast importance of the question now before us, compared with my own conscious inability to do any thing like justice even to the view which I feel myself compelled to take of it. Nor is this my only difficulty. There are others arising out of the very nature of the subject itself. more important in all its bearings, in quences, never was agitated in this House; but at the same time it is one devoid of every thing which can give attraction to debate; one not very familiar perhaps to many Gentlemen now present,

A measure, in my opinion, all its effects and conse

and requiring therefore, on the part of the person who undertakes to explain its tendency, a degree of clearness and perspicuity which I cannot flatter myself that I shall be able to bring to the discussion. Notwithstanding all these difficulties, and the consequent dread of failing in the task which I have imposed upon myself, I' 'feel still more strongly that it would be a dereliction of duty were I to shrink from the attempt, and not endeavour to claim for this subject, some share of that public attention which has lately been painfully engrossed by concerns of a very different descriptionconcerns which I trust will never again occupy this House, and of which the agitation out of doors cannot be too much or too soon discouraged by every man who values the best interests of the country, or has a proper feeling for the honor and character of the age in which we live.

Before I enter upon the Resolutions now under discussion, I cannot refuse to myself the satisfaction of acknowledging the uniform courtesy and attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in furnishing me with every facility of information. On my part, I trust my Right Hon. Friend will not think me unwarranted in referring to my past conduct as the best guarantee that I am not actuated by any disposition to throw difficulties in the way of his financial arrangements. I hope, therefore, that both with him and the Committee, I shall have credit for sincerity, when, as the result of the niost anxious and deliberate consideration which I have been able to give to the present plan, I am compelled to declare my conscientious conviction, that, by adopting it, we should incur the risk of losing the fruits of all the sacrifices which we have made for the last twenty years that we should lay ourselves open not to the mere possibility, but as it appears to me, to the probable and imminent danger (in the event of a long continuance of the war), of undermining, if not destroying altogether, that system of public credit which is the foundation of our present safety and independence, and the best support of that pre-eminent rank which we are nov struggling to maintain among the nations of the world.

There is another question of a magnitude not inferior to this, which cannot be put out of sight in the examination of these proposals a question respecting which the feelings of Gentlemen will not be less alive, nor their understandings less anxious to

arrive at a satisfactory result, than even upon a matter so nearly connected with the public safety: I mean, Sir, the maintenance of public faith, on all occasions so essential to the honor of the country, and, in this instance, more especially so to the honor and character of Parliament. The highest considerations of public policy and public justice are therefore equally involved in the present discussion. To these I must be allowed to add another consideration, of a more limited nature certainly; but at the same time, one which has great weight with me, and will, I trust, have its weight with many other Gentlemen in this House. The edifice of the Sinking Fund, which we are this day called upon to disfigure and half pull down, is perhaps the proudest monument which was raised by the virtues and genius of Mr. PITT to his own fair fame. So it was held in his own estimation; so it is held in the estimation of his friends, and not only of his friends, but of those who were his political enemies, and of the whole world. Upon his friends then I call, from the reverence and affection which they feel for his memory: upon those who were his enemies I call, from their love of justice and of their country, to lend their aid to my feeble efforts for preserving this monument of public utility and individual fame, unmutilated and entire, in all the beauty of design, in all the strength and symmetry of proportion, assigned to it by the hands of its immortal author.

The name of Mr. Pitt naturally brings nie to the origin of this great measure of a permanent Sinking Fund, and to a short review of its progress and completion under his auspices, as preparatory to the examination of those proposals of my Right Hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, which I cannot but consider as an invasion of it.

When Mr. Pitt was called to the head of affairs, and to the management of our finances, at the close of the American war, credit was at its lowest ebb, our revenue deplorably deficient, and our resources for improving it apparently exhausted. Yet such at that time were the real resources of the country, when properly called forth, and wisely administered, that in the year 1786, Mr. Pitt was enabled, after making provision for the interest of the public debt, and for all the expenses of a peace establishment, to set aside and appropriate a surplus of income, amounting to one

« PreviousContinue »