The History and Proceedings of the House of Commons: Volume 10, 1737-1739. Originally published by Chandler, London, 1742.
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Committee of Supply.
Feb. 14. The House having resolved itself into a Committee of Supply, Sir William Yonge stood up, and spoke to the following Effect.
Sir William Yonge moves that 17704 Land Forces be appointed for the Year 1739.
'As it is the Business of this Committee, not only to provide for the Army, but to determine the Number of Forces that is to be kept up for the Service of the ensuing Year, I think it my Duty to propose to you the Number, which I think necessary for that Purpose. It is at present, Sir, so evident, that we are in a precarious Situation with regard to our Affairs abroad, and that there is still, to our Misfortune, subsisting amongst us, a restless and disaffected Faction at Home, that I should not think it necessary to say any Thing in Favour of the Motion I am to make, if great Pains had not of late been taken to persuade People, that there is no Difference between a numerous standing Army kept up within the Kingdom in Time of Peace, without Consent of Parliament, which can never be kept in such a Manner, but with a View to destroy our Liberties, and a proper Number of regular Forces kept up, from Year to Year, by Authority of Parliament, for no other Purpose but to preserve the Tranquility of the Nation, protect us against our foreign or domestick Enemies, and assist the civil Magistrate in the due Execution of the Laws of the Kingdom.
'As to the present Circumstances of our Affairs abroad, Sir, particularly with regard to Spain, it may be properly said, we are as yet in a State of War. The Number of Land Forces we have kept up, and the powerful Squadrons we have from time to time fitted out, have, 'tis true, prevented that Nation from coming to an open Rupture with us; and have, at last, compelled them to agree to a reasonable Convention for settling all Differences between the two Nations in an amicable Manner; but that Convention can be said to be no more, than a Preliminary towards a future definitive Treaty of Peace: The principal Differences between the two Nations remain, as yet, to be adjusted by a future Treaty; and if we keep ourselves in a proper Posture of Defence, I do not doubt but that they will be adjusted to our Satisfaction; but it was never yet heard, that either of the Parties engaged in War, began to disband their Armies, as soon as Preliminary Articles for a Treaty of Peace were agreed on. In such a Case, both Parties rather encrease than diminish their Forces, in order to convince the other, that they are ready to continue or to recommence War, if the Preliminaries should not, in due Time be carried into Execution, by an equal and solid Treaty of Peace. Therefore, if we duly consider the present Cicumstances of our Affairs abroad, we must resolve to keep up the same Number of Land-Forces we had last Year.
'Then as to our Affairs at home, Sir, can any one say that the Number of the Disaffected and Seditious is less than it was last Year? Can any one say that they are more quiet, or less apt to take the first Opportunity for raising civil Wars and Commotions in their native Country? Sir, the many virulent, false, and seditious Libels, that are daily published against his Majesty and his Government, are sufficient Testimonies, that the Disaffected are neither less numerous, nor more inclined to remain quiet, and submit to that Government, which protects them in the free Enjoyment of what they possess, than they were last Year. It is amazing to think, what an infinite Number of infamous Libels are daily, weekly, monthly, and occasionally, printed and dispersed through the whole Kingdom, highly reflecting upon his Majesty, and upon every Man he is pleased to employ in conducting the publick Affairs of the Nation. When we reflect upon it, we cannot but admire the Lenity of his Majesty's Government, and the Patience and Good-nature of almost every Man that has any Influence upon his Counsels. With regard to Printing and Publishing, no Man can say, that the Disaffected and the Seditious amongst us, have of late Years kept themselves within the Bounds of Decency; but if it were not for the Number of Land-Forces we keep up, we could not expect that they would keep themselves within the Bounds of Law. They would openly, and in Defiance of the civil Magistrate, transgress, in the most flagrant Manner, the known Laws of the Kingdom; because it would be impossible for any civil Magistrate to put the Laws in Execution against them: The Consequence of which would certainly be Anarchy and Confusion; and this would as certainly end in a Dissolution of our Constitution, and an Establishment of arbitrary Power. Of this we have a recent Example but in the last Century, which ought to be a Warning to us, not to leave our Government destitute of those Means, which are necessary for supporting it against the Disaffected and Seditious, as well as against those who are fond of Changes, and of new-modelling our Constitution. Therefore, while there is such a Faction amongst us, we ought to keep up such a Number of Land-Forces, from Year to Year, by Authority of Parliament, as may be sufficient for keeping that Faction, if not within the Rules of Decency, at least within the Bounds of Law: As that Faction cannot be said to be now less numerous, or less turbulent, than they were last Year, we must resolve to keep up the same Number of Land-Forces for the Year ensuing.
'To this, I must add, Sir, that as a Reduction of our Army would increase the Hopes of the Disaffected and Seditious, and consequently make them more apt to raise publick Disturbances, or to join with any foreign Power for that Purpose, it would of Course derogate from the Authority, and dimi nish the Weight of our Negociations at foreign Courts, and would make such of them, as had any Disputes with us, more haughty in their Behaviour towards us, and more obstinate in their Demands; for we could expect no Regard or Esteem from our foreign Enemies, if our Government were in so weak a Condition, as not to be able to keep its domestick in Awe. They would insist upon high Demands, and would make no Compliances, because they would expect that our Government would grant them any Thing, rather than come to an open Rupture; and because they would suppose that, if contrary to their Expectations, we should come to an open Rupture, they would be able to prevent us from doing them any Mischief, by giving our Government enough to do to defend itself against the disaffected Party at home, encouraged by the Weakness of our Government to rebel, and supported by the Supplies, which our foreign Enemies might send from Time to Time to their Assistance.
'From hence, Sir, we may see the Disadvantage we should be under by not keeping up a sufficient Body of regular Troops, with regard to our Enemies, or such foreign States as we may have any Disputes with; and with regard to Allies, we could not expect to have any; for as all Alliances are established upon the mutual Advantage or Security of the two contracting Parties, and can be no longer preserved, than while that Advantage or Security continues mutual, what Advantage or Security could any State in Europe expect from this Nation, if our Government, so far from having any regular Troops, to send to their Assistance, had not a sufficient Number to protect itself against domestick Enemies? In such a Case, 'tis certain, no foreign Nation could expect any Advantage or Security from an Alliance with this Nation, and consequently would neither stipulate to give us any Assistance, nor perform any Stipulations they have already made for that Purpose; which would be an additional Encouragement those that are now our Enemies, or that may hereafter become our Enemies, for to insult us in every Part of the World.
'Thus, I think, Sir, it is plain, that we must necessarily keep up a sufficient Number of Land-Forces, at least for this ensuing Year; and as our Circumstances are now, in every Respect, the same they were last Year, no less a Number can be supposed to be sufficient for the ensuing Year, than what was deemed by the Parliament last Session, necessary for the Service of the Year now near expired. Tho' we have made a Step, and I hope it will be a successful one, towards establishing a solid and lasting Peace; yet it must be acknowledged, that our Affairs abroad are as yet in a very uncertain Situation; and as to our Affairs at home, we find the Libels published against the Government as numerous and as virulent, and Mobs and Riots among the People as frequent, as they were about the Beginning of last Session of Parliament, or indeed, as ever they were in this or any other Nation, where there was a certain Form of Government regularly established.
'But, Sir, whatever Number of Land-Forces you may think sufficient for the ensuing Year, as long as they are kept up by Authority of Parliament, and from Year to Year only, they must be widely different from a standing Army, kept up without any such Authority. For as the keeping up of a standing Army in Time of Peace, but for one Day, without the Consent of Parliament, is of itself an Invasion upon our Constitution; such an Army can be kept up for no other Purpose but to destroy our Constitution, in order to secure those who have, by so doing, made an Invasion upon it, against that Punishment which is due to them for transgressing the most fundamental Laws of their Country. Whereas a sufficient Number of regular Troops, kept up by Authority of Parliament, and from Year to Year only, can be kept up for no other End, but to preserve our Constitution; because the Parliament will never consent to the keeping up of a greater Number than is sufficient for that Purpose; nor will they consent to the keeping up of any Number longer, than it appears absolutely necessary for preserving the Constitution, and defending us against our foreign and domestick Enemies.
'For these Reasons, Sir, I must think the least Number we can propose to keep up for the ensuing Year, for Guards and Garrisons in Great Britain, and for Guernsey and Jersey, must be, including 1815 Invalids, and 555 Men, (which the six independent Companies consist of for the Service of the Highlands) 17704 Men, Commission and Non-Commission Officers included.
'I must say, I am not a little surprised at the Motion I have now heard made to you. When the preliminary Convention between this Nation and Spain was laid before us, I perused it with great Attention, in order to see what Advantages we had got by it; and when I could find no one Advantage we had got, with regard to the Disputes between the two Nations, I concluded that our Ministers had got some private Assurances from Spain, that all would be set right in a short Time by a definitive Treaty of Peace, and that they had in the mean Time agreed to this preliminary Treaty and a Suspension of Arms, with a View to save ourselves some Expence by a Reduction of our Land Forces.
'Spain has, it is true, Sir, for many Years, been in a State of War against this Nation, tho' we have never once committed any real Hostility against them. But after the moving Application that was made last Year to Parliament, after the strong Resolutions both Houses then came to, and after the expensive Preparations we made last Summer, I did imagine, that we were at last to begin Hostilities in our Turn; and when I heard that a Treaty was on foot, I concluded that Spain had been so wise as to apply to us for a Suspension of Hostilities, and for that Purpose, had proposed to make such Concessions, by preliminary Articles, as might serve for the Basis of a solid and honourable Treaty of Peace.
In Treaty-making, Sir, it is usual to leave such Articles as require a long Discussion, to be settled afterwards by Commissaries; but Preliminaries to a Treaty, between two contending Nations, are never concluded, at least they are seldom formally and solemnly agreed on, except when one of the Parties is afraid of suffering by an open Rupture, or by a Continuance of the War. When this is the Case, the Party in Danger applies for having a Suspension of Arms upon certain Preliminaries, and generally offers to give some Pledge, as a Security for the Performance of such Preliminaries as shall be agreed on. Most of us remember, that the Treaty of Utrecht was preceded by Preliminaries, and a Suspension of Arms between France and us; but then, as we were in no Danger by a Continuance of the War, we would agree to neither, till France put Dunkirk into our Hands, as a Pledge for her Performance of the Preliminaries. This, I say, was the Method of Treaty-making at the Time of the Treaty of Utrecht, and, I believe, for all Ages before that Time; but what has been our Method since that Time, I cannot take upon me to say: So far however I may say, that whatever has been our Method of Treaty-making since that Time, and God knows we have made enough of them, we have got nothing by it; for, if we have preserved ourselves in a Sort of Peace, we have made no Advantage of that Peace: Our Taxes are more numerous, and our publick Debt as great as it was at the End of the War; and, I believe, our Trade is not near in such a flourishing Condition as it was during the War.
'Therefore, Sir, I cannot say that I entirely depended upon our having observed the usual Method of Treaty-making; but for the sake of my Country, I hoped we had; and as I could not suppose that we were in Danger of being Sufferers by an open Rupture with Spain, I concluded, that by the preliminary Convention I heard talk'd of, they had agreed to make some general Concessions with regard to the Disputes between us, and to put some Pledge into our Hands, as a Demonstration of their Sincerity, which, I am sure, we have had great Cause to doubt of, for almost these 20 Years past.
'But when I saw this Convention, how greatly was I disappointed! Instead of their making Concessions to us, we have made, I think, most dangerous, I shall not say dishonourable, Concessions to them, and have got nothing in Return, no not so much as a Suspension of their usual Hostilities. Instead of their giving us a Pledge, we have given one to them, by agreeing that Things shall remain in Florida and Carolina, in the Situation they are in at present, without increasing the Fortifications there, or taking any new Posts. In short, Sir, by this Convention, Spain has not even agreed even to suspend Hostilities, yet we have agreed not to provide for our Defence; from whence it should seem as if we had sued to Spain for a Suspension of Arms, upon any Preliminaries they might think fit to prescribe; and yet I cannot think the Nation had any Reason to be afraid of an open Rupture with Spain, whatever some Persons amongst us may have; for, from our agreeing to such Preliminaries, I must either think that there are some Persons amongst us that are most terribly afraid of it, and are therefore willing to yield to any Thing, rather than come to an open Rupture with that Nation; or I must think, as I have said, that our Ministers had some private Assurances of the Court of Spain's being inclined to do us Justice, in a short Time, by a definitive Treaty, and that they accepted of these Preliminaries, with a View of saving something to the Nation, by a Reduction of our Land Forces for this ensuing Year.
'Now, Sir, as I always judge charitably, I supposed that this last was the Case; and therefore when the honourable Gentleman, who made this Motion, stood up, I expected an elegant Panegyrick upon the Wisdom of our late Measures, and the great Care that was taken to embrace every Opportunity of saving Expence to the Nation; for no Man is more capable than he; and I expected that he would have concluded with a Motion for no more than 12,000 Men for the ensuing Year, as an Earnest of the Benefits we are to reap by this new Convention, and as a Proof of the Assurances the honourable Gentleman's Friends have of the just and good Inclinations his Catholick Majesty has towards this Nation. This, I say, was what I expected; but how much was I surprized, when I heard him begin to argue for the same Number of Land Forces that were voted last Year, at a Time when every Man, at least every Man that was not in the Secret, imagined we were upon the Brink of a furious War!
'If we have no Dependence upon this Treaty, Sir, why was it made? For 'tis impossible, since the Time it was ratified, we could have had Cause to alter our Sentiments. If we have a Dependance upon it, why not make the proper Advantage of it, by lessening the publick Expence? Every one knows that our Land Forces have no Influence upon the Counsels of Spain: It is our Naval Force they are afraid of: That we have already reduced; and therefore if it be said that Spain must be frightened into a Performance, as well as they were into the Treaty, we have begun at the wrong End. But I cannot have such an Opinion of so wise an Administration: From the Reduction of our Naval Force I must conclude, that they are assured of Spain's being inclined to do us Justice by the definitive, tho' they have done us none by the preliminary Treaty; and therefore the Circumstances of our Affairs abroad, can be no Argument for our keeping up the same Number of Land Forces we had last Year; nor can it be said, our foreign Affairs are in the same Situation they were the Beginning of last Session of Parliament. We had then no preliminary Treaty, nor any Assurances of a satisfactory definitive Treaty: Now we have both, or otherwise the honourable Gentleman's Friends have transgressed the Rule he himself has laid down; for they have already begun to disband their Armies, and those Armies too which are the only effectual Armies against Spain, I mean our Squadrons of Men of War. Let us then follow their Example: The honourable Gentleman will, I hope, admit we cannot follow a better: Let us begin to reduce our Land Forces.
'But suppose, Sir, we were still in a precarious Situation with regard to Affairs abroad, can it be thought, that our Influence at foreign Courts depends upon the Number of Land Forces we keep in continual Pay? No, Sir, our Influence depends upon the Riches and Number of our People, and not upon the Number of our regular Regiments, or the Appearance they make at a Review. We have many thousands that would make as good an Appearance in the Day of Battle, if their Country were in Danger, tho' they are not at present Masters of all the Punctilios proper only for a Review. We have a Navy, which no Nation in the World can equal, far less overcome, by which we may carry the Dread of this Nation into every Country that is visited by the Ocean: And we have Money, notwithstanding the bad use we have made of a long Peace, to hire as many foreign Troops as we can have Occasion for, and to support them as long as we can have any Service for them. Therefore, while we are unanimous amongst ourselves, while our Government possesses the Hearts and Affections of the People in general, which every virtuous and wise Government must necessarily do, this Nation must always have great Influence upon the Counsels of every Court in Europe, nay of every Court in the World, where it is necessary for us to extend our Influence.
'From hence we may see, Sir, that in this Nation, we can never have Occasion for keeping up a great Number, or any Number, of regular Troops, in order to give Weight to our Negotiations; and, if any Power in Europe should refuse to observe or perform the Treaties they have made with us, we ought not to seek for Redress by Negotiation: We may make a Demand, but it is beneath the Dignity of a powerful People to sue for Justice. Upon the first Refusal or affected Delay, we ought to compel them, not by keeping an Army at home, which would be ridiculous, but by sending an irresistible Fleet, with an Army on board, to ravage their Coasts; or by getting some of their Neighbours, with our Assistance, to attack them; both which will always be in the Power of every Government of this Country, that preserves their Influence abroad, by preserving the Affections of the People at home; and that without keeping any Number of regular Troops always in Pay; for whilst the Spirit of Liberty, which is the nursing Mother of Courage, is preserved among our People, we shall never want a great Number of brave Men of all Degrees amongst us, that will be ready to venture their Lives in the Cause of their Country; and such Men may, in a few Weeks, be sufficiently disciplined for Action, tho' they might not, perhaps, observe all the Punctilios so exactly as a Parcel of idle mercenary Fellows, who have had nothing perhaps to do for seven Years together, but to dance thro' their Exercises.
'The keeping up of a standing Army in this Nation, can never therefore be necessary, either for preserving our Influence amongst our Neighbours, or for punishing such of them shall offend us; and with respect to our own Defence, as we have no Frontier but the Ocean, while we preserve a Superiority at Sea, a popular Government in this Country can never be under the least Necessity of keeping up any LandForces, especially if they would take Care to have our Militia but tolerably armed and disciplined; for no Nation will be mad enough to invade us, while we are united among ourselves, with a Handful of Troops, who must either all die by the Sword, or be made Prisoners of War, because we could, by Means of our Navy, prevent their being able to return. 'And, if any of our foreign Neighbours should prepare to invade us with a great Fleet and a numerous Army, we would not only have Time to prepare for their Reception, but we might lock them up in their Ports, by Means of our Navy, or we might give them enough to do at home, by stirring up some of their Neighbours upon the Continent to invade them.
'Thus it appears, Sir, that no Government in this Island can ever have Occasion for keeping up a standing Army in Time of Peace, unless it be to subdue the Liberties of the People. This, every Man in the Kingdom, whose Judgment is not biassed by his Hopes or his Fears, must be sensible of; and therefore every Government that does keep up a standing Army in Time of Peace, whether with or without the Consent of Parliament, must forfeit the Affections of the People. Then, indeed, a standing Army becomes necessary for the Support of that Government, not against Foreigners, but against their native Country; but no Army, even the greatest they can keep up, will give them an Influence at foreign Courts, or an Authority among their own People. Abroad they will be despised, at home they may be dreaded, but they will be hated; and, in that Case, a small Handful of foreign Troops, thrown into any Corner of the Island, might be of the most dangerous Consequence to the Government, because they would be joined by the whole People, and perhaps, by a great Part of the Army.
'To pretend, Sir, that there is still a great dissaffected Party amongst us, is, I am sure, no Compliment to his Majesty, or to his illustrious Family; and therefore I wonder to hear any Gentleman, that has the Honour to serve the Crown, insist upon it. There are, 'tis true, many discontented, but few or none disaffected; and the Discontents that are so general amongst us, proceed from our having so long kept up a numerous standing Army, and from some other Measures I could mention. Change but your Measures, reduce your Army, put a Confidence in the People, and the Discontents will soon vanish, your People will put a Confidence in you, and will be a better Safe-guard for the Government, than any Army that can be kept up. Your foreign Enemies will then fear you, and your Friends will respect you; because the former will be afraid of that Vengeance, which they know you are able to pour down upon them, and the latter will depend upon that Assistance, which they know you are capable to give. If any of our Allies should want Land-forces for their Assistance, we can hire as many foreign Troops for their Service as they may stand in Need of: If we could not hire such Troops, we could soon raise a Body of Troops within our our own Dominions, tho' we had not a regular standing Regiment in the Kingdom; and we could transport them by our Fleet, wherever our Allies might stand most in Need of them. By our Alliances, I know, we sometimes engage to send a Body of Troops to the Assistance of our Allies; but I do not remember, we ever engaged, that those Troops should be all Subjects of Great-Britain, or that they should be such as we had kept in Pay for several Years preceding. Therefore we may perform our Engagements to our Allies, and may afford them a proper Support and Assistance, without keeping a standing Army always in Pay.
'I shall grant, Sir, that the keeping up of a numerous standing Army in Time of Peace, by Authority of Parliament, is not contrary to Law; but I will aver, that it is contrary to, and inconsistent with our Constitution. If some future venal Parliament should pass a Law for enabling the King to impose Taxes, and raise Money by Proclamation, the Money so raised would not be contray to Law, but surely it would be contrary to our Constitution. To tell us that the Parliament will never consent to the keeping up of a greater Number of Land-forces, than is sufficient for preserving the Constitution, or that they will never consent to keep up any Number, longer than it appears necessary for defending us against foreign or domestick Enemies, is to tell us what no Man can answer for. Suppose there should be a Majority in each House of Parliament, consisting of Officers of the Army, and other Instruments of an Administration; can we suppose that such a Parliament would have any Regard to the Preservation of the Constitution, if it should appear to be inconsistent with the Preservation of the Minister upon whom they depended? And suppose we had the Misfortune to have, at that Time, a Prime Minister, contemned abroad, and hated by every Man at home, except those who were his immediate Tools; can we suppose that such a Parliament would not give their Consent to keep up a standing Army, not for preserving the Constitution, but for preserving the Minister, by destroying the Constitution?
'Sir, a numerous standing Army, kept up by Authority of Parliament, is more dangerous to our Liberties, than such an Army kept up without any such Authority; because in the latter Case, the People would immediately see their Liberties were struck at, and would therefore take the Alarm; but in the former, they would probably, by the Interposition of Parliament, be lulled asleep, till their Fetters were riveted. This I have long endeavoured to prevent: This while I live, I shall always endeavour to prevent; and therefore I am now for reducing the Army to 12000 Men; for even that Number I think greater than is altogether consistent with the Safety of our Constitution. The very Resolution this House comes to yearly, with respect to the Number of our Land-forces, shews that it is. By the Words of that Resolution, we ought to have no marching Regiments quarter'd up and down the Country, to the Oppression of our Innholders, Victuallers, and other publick Houses, and to the debauching of the Morals of all Ranks of People. We ought to have none but Guards and Garrisons. Our Guards ought never to consist of above 4000 Men; and I should be glad to know where the Garrisons are in Great-Britain, or in Guernsey or Jersey, that require no less a Number than 8000. Therefore we ought to alter the Words of our Resolution, or we ought to reduce our Army even below 12000. However, as other Gentlemen seem willing to allow 12000 for the Service of this ensuing Year, I shall not be against that Number.'
'I am really surprized at the Silence on one Side of the House. — Sure this Question is of Importance enough to deserve a Debate. — How great an evil soever a standing Army may be, this Way of treating such a Question is worse; it is the highest Contempt of the Constitution imaginable. — Sir, if we go on thus, will People be silent out of Doors too? I wish they may; for if they talk of our Proceedings, they will talk in a Language that won't be much for the Honour of the House.
'Sir, as a good deal has been said about the Abuse of the Press, by one of the very few Gentlemen who have deigned to speak in this Debate, I beg to be indulged in a few Words upon that Article. — A free Examination of all Measures of Government, and of the Characters of Ministers, so far as their Characters are inseparable from their Measures, is the Life of a free State. It is what no good Minister will ever call an Abuse of the Press: It is what no good Minister would desire to restrain. But attacking the private Character of a Minister, his private Defects or Frailties, in which the Publick is not concerned, this indeed is libellous, and this cannot be justified: Nor can Abuse thrown out upon private Persons, be excused in those who are the dirty Tools of Calumny, or in the more dirty Patrons who employ and pay such Tools: This, Sir, is infamous, and this should be restrained. But how restrained? By Contempt, by Disregard of it, by a fair and safe Appeal to the candid Sense of Mankind; or in very flagrant Cases, by the due Course of Justice and Law: Not by Strains of Authority, not by Star-Chamber Work, not by the extraordinary Exercise of discretionary Powers, from which the Guilty and the Innnocent may suffer alike: This should be carefully avoided in a Country of Freedom, not for the Sake of these Writers, but for the Sake of the Constitution, /?/ the Sake of Liberty, and that the Law of the Land may be the Rule and Measure of all Men's Security. But for God's Sake, Sir, how comes the Abuse of the Press to be a Point insisted on in the Debate of To day? What has that to do with eighteen thousand Men? Are our Dragoons to be Licensers of the Press? I hope they are not.
'As to the uncertain Situation of Affairs abroad, (that I think, was the Term used by the honourable Gentleman over the Way) I will say but one Word. — Why have we called home our Fleets? To deprive ourselves of the only Means we have of hurting our Enemies, by recalling our Fleets upon the Presumption of a Peace and then to deprive ourselves of the Fruits of a Peace, by keeping up our Army to the Number of last Year, is, I confess, a Policy which I don't comprehend. Is this Convention, which we have concluded, something or nothing? Sir, I think it worse than nothing; but as there are some Gentlemen who speak very highly of it, if it deserves the Encomiums, I should be glad to know, for what this Number is ask'd? Why, to support the Peace, it seems. — To support it, Sir, against whom? Not against ourselves I hope, not against the Nation. If the Peace be what it ought to be, we shall have no Enemies, and it will support itself; if it be bad and dishonourable, to have it supported by an Army, is a sad Resource indeed: It is such a Support as Despair only could want: It is such a Support as I won't imagine possible.
'But Gentlemen say, it will give Weight to our Measures abroad. — What Weight has it given? I appeal to Experience. Is not the Period of our keeping up this Number of Men, the most inglorious Period of the English History? Has not every Year been mark'd out by some new Indignity, some new Dishonour, some new Proof of Contempt? Have we been arm'd of late to any other Purpose, than to make our Tameness appear more ridiculous? For my own Part, Sir, I must say, that were I determined to suffer myself to be robb'd without any Resistance, I should think it was judging very ill, to travel with Arms.
'Sir, with regard to Disorders at home, neither what has been said by the honourable Gentleman who spoke just now, nor by another Gentleman in my Eye, who enlarged much upon them, has any Weight in a Question, whether 18,000 Men or 12, should be the Number kept up. For, surely, 12 thousand Men are Force enough to quell these Rioters. But from what all those Gentlemen have said, I draw a further Conclusion, that for Disorders of this Kind, an Army is not, cannot be the proper Remedy, since the Evil encreases under it, as Experience proves. — The proper Remedy is giving Authority to the Law; and this can only be done by right Measures of Government. An Army may give Strength to a bad Administration, but a good Administration only can give Strength to Laws, and to that we must have Recourse, or these Disorders will continue, tho' we should augment our Troops to 50,000 Men. Confirm his Majesty in the Affections of his Subjects, and he will want no Security in his own Dominions.—Sir, I have seen a Proof of this. I have lately had the Satisfaction to see all Sort of Respect from all Sorts of People, paid to two of the royal Family, when they had no Guards. They could not have been safer, they could not have been respected so much, if they had been attended, in the Journey they made, with all the houshold Troops of the King of France. Sir, I saw the People clinging to the Wheels of their Coach, out of Affection to them, to the King, and to his Family. I say, I saw them clinging to the Wheels of their Coach. — Had there been Guards about it, they must have kept further off.
'As I can see no good Use that can be made of these Troops, and as I won't suppose that any bad one is intended, I must conclude they are kept up for Ostentation alone. But is it for his Majesty's Honour to put the Lustre of his Crown, to put his Dignity upon that, in which he may be rivall'd by every petty Prince of any little State in Germany? For, I believe, there are few of them now, that can't produce at a Review, an Army equal to ours both in Number and Show. If the Greatness of a State is to be measured by the Number of its Troops, the Elector of Hanover is as great as the King of England.— But a very different Estimation ought to be made of our Greatness: The Strength of England is its Wealth and its Trade: Take Care of them, you will be always formidable: Lose them, you are nothing, you are the last of Mankind. Were there no other Reasons for reducing the Army, it should be done upon the Principle of OEconomy alone. It is À melancholy Thought to reflect how much we have spent and to how little Purpose, for these 16 Years past.
'Sir, could it be said, We are indeed, loaded with Debt, but for that Charge we have encreased our Reputation, our Commerce flourishes, our Navigation is safe, our Flag is respected, our Name honoured abroad; could this be said, there is a Spirit in the People of England, would make them chearfully bear the heaviest Burdens.— On the other Side, could an opposite Language be held, could it be said, We have indeed, no Victories, no Glory to boast of, no Eclat, no Dignity; we have submitted to Injuries, we have borne Affronts, we have been forced to curb the Spirit of the Nation, but by acting thus, we have restored our Affairs, we have paid our Debts, we have taken off our Taxes, we have put into the Power of the King and Parliament, to act hereafter with more Vigour and Weight; could this be said, this also might be satisfactory.— But to have failed in both these Points at the same Time, by a Conduct equally inglorious and expensive, to have lost the Advantages both of War and Peace; to have brought Disgrace and Shame upon the present Times, and national Beggary upon Ages to come, the Consequence of which; may be national Slavery; such a Management, if such a Management can be supposed, must call down national Vengeance upon the guilty Authors of it, whosoever they be, and the longer it has been suspended, the more heavy it will fall.'
Division, Ayes 253, Noes 183. ; Resolutions of the Committee of Supply agreed to.
The Question being put the Resolution was agreed to. On a Division, Ayes 253. Noes 183.
After the Division, the Committee came to the following Resolutions besides: Resolved, That six hundred and forty-seven thousand five hundred and forty-nine Pounds eleven Shillings and Three-pence Half-penny be granted for maintaining the above Number of Men: That two hundred twenty-eight thousand and sixty-two Pounds be granted for the Garrisons of Minorca, Gibraltar, Georgia, &c. That twenty-seven thousand one hundred and seventy-two thousand Pounds be granted for Out-Pensioners of Chelsea Hospital: That five thousand and forty-one Pounds be granted for defraying several extraordinary Expences not provided for by Parliament.
Division on the Report, Ayes 129, Noes 73.
Feb. 15. The Report of Yesterday's Resolutions was received and agreed to. On a Division, Ayes 129, Noes 73.
Received divers Letters relating to the Spanish Depredations.
Resolutions of the Committee of Ways and Means agreed to.
Feb. 20. Received the Report of Yesterday's Resolution in a Committee of Ways and Means, and agreed to it, viz.
Resolved, That eleven thousand nine hundred and fortyfive Pounds seventeen Shillings and nine Pence, remaining in the Exchequer, being the Over-plus of the Grant for 1738, be applied towards making good the Supplies granted in this Session of Parliament.
Call of the House.
The House was then called over:
Feb. 21. Received Copies of several Memorials, Letters, &c. on the Affairs of Spain.
Feb. 22, Received the Reports of Yesterday's Resolutions in a Committee on the Supply, and agreed to them, viz.
Resolutions of the Committee of Supply agreed to.
Resolved That 222,689 Pounds, two Shillings and six Pence, be granted for the Ordinary of the Navy, including Half-Pay to Sea-Officers for 1739. That 80,088 Pounds six Shillings and three Pence be granted for the Charge of the Office of Ordnance for Land Service for 1739. That thirty thousand five hundred and three Pounds eleven Shilings and six Pence be granted for defraying the extraordinary Expences of the Office of Ordnance for Land Service not provided for by Parliament.