The History and Proceedings of the House of Commons: Volume 10, 1737-1739. Originally published by Chandler, London, 1742.
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Upon the Report which was made by the Chairman of the Committee next Day to the House, the Estimate for the Regiment to be sent to Georgia was objected to, by some Gentlemen who spoke in the foregoing Debate against the Resolution: Accordingly a Debate ensued.
'I am surprised to find that some Gentlemen do not distinguish between the Army now proposed to be kept up, and that Sort of Standing Armies which the Whigs in former Reigns spoke and wrote so much against. The Whigs, 'tis true, have always been against keeping up Standing Armies in Time of Peace by the sole Authority of the King, and without Consent of Parliament; but no Whig ever said that it was inconsistent with, or that it would be dangerous to our Constitution, to keep a few regular Troops in Pay for one Year, in case the Parliament should upon mature Deliberation conclude, that such a Thing was necessary, either for the securing the Peace and Quiet of the Nation against the secret Designs of foreign or domestick Enemies, or for giving Weight to any foreign Negotiation our Government might then have upon the Carpet. This, I say, Sir, no Whig ever opposed; and for this Reason, the Words, 'unless it be with Consent of Parliament,' were inserted in the Declaration of our Rights and Liberties, which was presented to the then Prince and Princess of Orange at the Revolution, and which may properly be called the second Magna Charta of this Nation.
'If the Whigs of those Days had been of the same Opinion which some Gentlemen seem now to be of; if they had thought that the keeping up an Army of any Kind, or for any Time, was inconsistent with our Constitution, that Article in the Declaration would certainly have stood thus: "That the raising or keeping a Standing Army within the Kingdom, in Time of Peace, is against Law:" And I must leave to Gentlemen to consider, whether such a Declaration would not have been in itself ridiculous ? For my own Part, I must be of Opinion, that it would have been a little inconsistent with common Sense to have declared, that an Army kept up by the Authority, and with the Consent of King, Lords, and Commons, was an Army kept up against Law; for it would, in my Opinion, be the same with declaring, that a Law agreed to by all the Branches of our Legislature was against Law. This, Sir, the Whigs of those Days were sensible of; and if they were now alive, they would be far from pretending to say, that it was inconsistent with the Principles of a true Whig, to give his Vote for keeping up, for one Year, by Authority of Parliament, such a Number of regular Troops, as he thought absolutely necessary for the publick Good of the Kingdom.
'I have always gloried, Sir, in being thought a Whig; I hope I shall never, by my Behaviour, either in this House, or without Doors, give the least Occasion to the World to think otherwise of me; and for this very Reason I am for keeping up an Army, because I think the keeping up of an Army absolutely necessary for supporting the Whig Interest, and preserving the Peace and Quiet of the People. In every Dispute that has happened of late Years about our Army, I have looked upon the Question to be chiefly, whether Whig or Tory should prevail ? And as I have always thought, as, I believe, every unprejudiced Whig in the Kingdom thinks, that if the Army should be disbanded, or very much reduced, the Tory Interest would prevail; therefore I have generally been against such Reductions, and always shall be extremely cautious of agreeing to any such Proposition. Nay, I am so firmly attached to the Whig Interest, that if I should think four Times the Number of Troops absolutely necessary for supporting that Interest, I would be for keeping up a Standing Army four Times as numerous as that we have now on Foot.
'That there are Discontents among the People, Sir, and that those Discontents are too general, I shall readily agree; but whether they are owing to Disaffection, I shall not pretend to determine: I am sure they are not owing to Reason; for there is no Country in the World where the Liberties and Properties of the Subject are more sacredly preserved, nor are there any Subjects who pay less for the Ease and Security they enjoy, than the Subjects of this Kingdom; but there are some Men who seem to think they ought to pay nothing, nor be at any Trouble, for preserving to themselves the Blessings of Peace and Security. To please such Men, or to prevent their being dissatisfied, is impossible; for Government must always be expensive: Some Men must be employed for managing and transacting the Affairs of the Society, and some must now and then expose themselves to Danger for the Defence of the Society; and it is both reasonable and necessary, that those who spend their whole Time, or a great Part of their Time, in Government Affairs, as well as these who venture their Lives for the Preservation of others, should be rewarded by those, who by their Means are enabled to prosecute their own private Affairs with Safety, and without Interruption. There are other Men, and those not a few, who are so fond of Novelty and Change, that they are continually wishing for publick Convulsions and Revolutions: Such Men are of so odd a Temper, that they become dissatisfied with the Security they enjoy, and a long uninterrupted Course of publick Happiness renders them compleatly miserable; and there are others, who never can be pleased, unless they have the intire Direction of all publick Affairs; therefore when they are not employed, and chiefly employed, they are continually spreading virulent Libels, and seditious Pamphlets against those that are, by which Means many unwary Persons are caught, and are made to believe, that the Nation is ruined and undone, though every Man in the Nation, who is tolerably frugal and industrious, finds himself in an easy and thriving Condition. These are three of the Causes of those Discontents that prevail at present among the People; and if to these we add downright Disaffection, which I am afraid is much more general than some Gentlemen imagine, I believe we may account for all our Discontents, without loading our Government with being the Cause of any of them, except those of the second Sort I have mentioned; for to the wise and steady Conduct of our Government, we must attribute the long and uninterrupted publick Happiness we have enjoyed, and consequently the Dissatisfaction of all those, who are fond of Novelties and Changes.
'But, Sir, let the Cause of our Discontents be what it will, they are so general, that if it were not for our Army, I am convinced our present Establishment would be in great Danger of being overturned; I am convinced his Majesty could not live in Safety in St. James's Palace; nay, I doubt if our present Royal Family could remain three Days in the Kingdom: Therefore, as a Standing Army is at present absolutely necessary for preserving our happy Establishment, for the Security of our Royal Family, and for defending his Majesty's Person, no Gentleman, who has a true Regard for any of the three, can be against keeping up a Standing Army by Authority of Parliament, at least for this ensuing Year; and as I am convinced, that a less Number of regular Troops than we have at present, will not be sufficient for these great Ends, I must be against the Reduction proposed, or any Reduction that can be proposed at present.
'I say, Sir, I am now against any Reduction that can be proposed; for tho' I do not think we can now with Safety make the least Reduction of our Army, yet in a few Years, perhaps next Session, I may be of a different Opinion. I shall always think that we ought never to keep a greater Number of Troops in Pay, than is absolutely necessary for preserving the Peace and Tranquillity of the People; but my Way of thinking in this Respect does not proceed from any Apprehensions I am under, that an Army kept up in the same Method of our present Army is, can ever be of any dangerous Consequence to our Constitution. No, Sir, it proceeds entirely from the Expence, which necessarily attends the keeping up of a Standing Army; which Expence the People must be loaded with; and I shall never be for loading the People with any greater Expence, than I think absolutely necessary for their Preservation. For this Reason, I hope we may soon have an Opportunity of giving the People a little Ease, by making a Reduction in our Army; because I am of the same Opinion with my honourable Friend near me: I believe the Disaffection, which I take to be the chief Cause of our present Discontents, will diminish by Degrees, nay, I hope it will in a few Years totally evanish; and if there were no considerable Disaffection, nor any great Number of Jacobites in the Kingdom, I am convinced a much smaller Number of Troops than what we have now on Foot, would be sufficient for keeping in Awe those Men, who are discontented only because they are not employed, and also those who are fond of Changes and Revolutions, as well as those who are so unreasonable as to expect that their Lives, Liberties, and Fortunes, should be preserved, without their being ever obliged to expose themselves to any Danger, or to put themselves to any Trouble or Expence, on that Account.
'When the disaffected Party becomes inconsiderable, I shall with Pleasure, Sir, give my Consent for making a Reduction in our Army; but 'till then I cannot agree to it; and I must say, I can never suppose the disaffected Party inconsiderable, as long as I see the Discontented numerous, without an apparent Cause for such a general Discontent, from some notorious Oppressions or Malversations in our Administration; for unless some Cause be evident, I shall always believe that most of those who appear discontented, are really disaffected. As I must look upon such a Discontent as incurable, I shall always be for treating those that are under it in the same Way with Incurables of another Sort, that is, by putting it out of their Power to do Mischief; which can be done only by keeping up a sufficient Number of regular Troops.
'But even suppose, Sir, that the Discontents of the People proceeded from notorious Oppressions or Malversations in our Government: Surely, no Gentleman will say our Army ought to be reduced before those Discontents are removed in a proper and legal Way; because, by so doing, you would encourage your People to take Vengeance of those that had injured them in a riotous and tumultuous Manner, which is a Method of doing Justice, that I am sure ought not to be encouraged in any well regulated Society. In such a Case, the only prudent Method we could take, is that which is prescribed to us by our happy Constitution, I mean that of a Parliamentary Enquiry; and after you have satisfied your People by bringing the Guilty to condign Punishment, in a legal and Parliamentary Method, you might then with Safety venture to make a Reduction of your Army.
'Thus, Sir, if there are such Discontents in the Nation, as the Gentlemen of the other Side of the Question seem to think there are, let those Discontents proceed from what Cause you will, the present must appear to be a very improper Season for making any Reduction of your Army; and as to the Charge of keeping up about 6000 Men for one Year only, which is all the Difference between us, tho' I shall grant it is a Charge the Nation ought not to be unnecessarily loaded with, yet it is not so great, as to make any considerable Addition to the publick Debts newly contracted, nor can it greatly prevent our being able to pay off the old; for the Difference as to Expence, between maintaining 18,000 Men, and maintaining 12,000 for one Year only, does not exceed 216,000 l. which can make no very extraordinary Figure in the publick Accounts of this Nation, and must be looked on as a Sum most wisely and frugally expended, because the Nation is thereby insured against the vast Expence, as well as Danger, the Naion would be put to, by an Insurrection or Invasion, which might probably be the Consequence of any present Reduction of our Army.
'But suppose, Sir, there were no Discontents or Disaffection among our People, suppose we were in no possible Danger of any Insurrection or Invasion; yet considering the present State of our foreign Affairs, considering the precarious State of the Peace now subsisting between Spain and us, and the many Grounds of Quarrel we have with that Nation, I must think it would be very imprudent in us, at present, to make any Reduction of our regular Troops; for the Regard a Nation meets with in all foreign Negotiations, very much depends upon the Opinion Foreigners have of her Power; and that Opinion now depends chiefly upon the Number of regular Troops she has in her Pay. None of our Neighbours put any Trust in their own Militia, and therefore it cannot be suposed they have any Regard for ours, or that, they would shew us any Respect on Account of our Militia were it in a much better Condition than it is in at present, or were it in as good a Condition as any Militia can be put in. For this Reason, to the End that this Nation may have its due Weight in all foreign Negotiations, we ought always to keep up a good Body of regular Troops; and particularly at present, if we have a Mind to obtain any Redress from Spain, we ought not to reduce any Part of our Army; for that Redress must be obtained either by Negotiation or by Force of Arms: If we propose to obtain it by Negotiation, a Reduction of our Army would diminish the Weight of any Negotiation we can carry on for that Purpose; and if we propose, or should be obliged, to make Use of Force for obtaining it, we must rather add to than diminish our Army. From all which I must conclude, that at present it would be highly imprudent in us to make any Reduction, especially such a considerable Reduction as is now proposed.
The Right Hon. Lord (fn. 1) Polwarth spoke to this Effect, viz.
'I am sorry to find the Opinions of our Whig Ancestors, about Standing Armies, so much mistaken as they seem to be by some Gentlemen who have spoke in this Debate; for with Respect to the Effects or Consequences of a Standing Army, it will appear that our Anceitors thought there was no Difference, between a Standing Army kept up without the Authority of a Parliament, and a Standing Army, or a Land Force, as the Courtiers affected to call it, kept up from Year to Year by the Authority of Parliament. I shall grant, that before the Revolution all our Disputes about Standing Armies, related to such as were kept up by the sole Authority of the King, and without Consent of Parliament: For before that Time no Whig supposed that a free Parliament would ever give their. Consent to the keeping up of a Standing Army within the Kingdom in Time of Peace. This was the true Reason for their agreeing to the inserting those Words, "unless it be with Consent of Parliament," in the Declaration of our Rights and Liberties. By these Words they thought they could not in the least derogate from our Security, against the keeping up a standing Army in Time of Peace; because they could not suppose that a free Parliament would ever consent to any such Thing: But if they had forseen or imagined, that some future Parliament might be prevailed on to give their Consent to the keeping up of a standing Army in Time of Peace, that Article in the Declaration of our Rights and Liberties, would certainly have been drawn up in such Terms as not to admit of any such Exception. They would not have said, that the raising or keeping up a Standing Army within the Kingdom, in Time of Peace, is against Law; because the Expression would have been improper, and such as could not have been made Use of by any Man who understood our Language; but they might, and would have said, that the raising or keeping up a Standing Army within the Kingdom, in Time of Peace, is inconsistent with our Constitution; for tho' a Law agreed to by King, Lords, and Commons, cannot be said to be against Law, yet it may be, and may properly be said to be, inconsistent with our Constitution. If in some future ambitious Reign, and during the Course of a corrupt and dependent Parliament, our King, Lords, and Commons, should agree to a Law for vesting an absolute Power in the King, such a Law could not be said to be against a Law; but surely such a Law might properly be said to be inconsistent with our Constitution.
'I shall not say, Sir, that the passing of a Law for providing our King with such a Standing Army, as may be sufficient for enabling him to assume an arbitrary Power whenever he pleases, is a Law of this Nature; because I am not of Opinion with Mr. Hobbes, that Power gives Right; but I must be of Opinion, that he who gives another Man Power to take his Right from him, may in some measure be said to give up his Right; for Right is seldom of any Signification against a Power that cannot be resisted; and a standing Army kept up from Year to Year, by Authority of Parliament, is certainly as irresistible, and consequently as inconsistent with the Preservation of our Rights and Liberties, as a standing Army kept up from Year to Year without any such Authority. The Distinction between these two Sorts of standing Armies, is a Distinction which could not be made, nor ever was made, in this Kingdom, till the Year 1697: Then, indeed, the Courtiers, who were for obtaining the Consent of Parliament to the keeping up of a standing Army in Time of Peace, found out this Distinction; for I must observe, that in all Reigns, Courtiers seem to have been pretty quick at finding a Distinction without a Difference; but when I reflect upon the Transactions of that Year, I am extremely surprized to hear any Gentleman affirm, that no Whig ever said, that it was inconsistent with, or that it would be dangerous to, our Constitution, to keep a few regular Troops in Pay for one Year, in Case the Parliament should give their Consent. Was not this the very Question then in Dispute? And did not all the true Whigs range themselves upon the affirmative Side of the Question? Did not they all, both in their Speeches and Writings, affirm, that the keeping up of a standing Army from Year to Year, whether with or without the Consent of Parliament, would be of the most dangerous Consequence to our Constitution? They did not then say that the Parliament ought not to consent to the keeping up a standing Army in Time of Peace, because we were then under no Necessity for so doing; but they said we never could be under any such Necessity; because the Danger we subjected ourselves to, by keeping up a standing Army in Time of Peace, was greater, and more to be dreaded, than any other Danger we could ever be exposed to.
'This, Sir, will appear from the whole Tenor and Spirit of the Pamphlets that were wrote by the staunch Whigs upon that Occasion; particularly from the two Arguments against a standing Army, published in the Year 1697, and said to have been wrote by a Gentleman, whom all the World must allow to have been a true Whig, and an honest Man; I mean the late Mr. Trenchard, who in one of these Pamphlets expresly says, that an authorized standing Army (meaning an Army kept up by Authority of Parliament) is worse than a foreign Invasion, and Conquest from abroad. This, Sir, he not only gives as his own Opinion, but he gives very substantial Reasons for supporting his Opinion. That honest Gentleman was in the same Case with many Gentlemen now in this House: He could not distinguish, at least he could find but very little Difference, between a standing Army kept up by Authority of Parliament, and a standing Army kept up without any such Authority; for he says, the Army kept up by the late K. James were Aids and Instruments of arbitrary Government, without any legal Authority, and therefore might have been resisted and removed as a Nusance, as soon as the Nation found itself able; and an Army kept up by Authority of Parliament, he likewise calls Aids and Instruments of arbitrary Government; but, says he, they are legal Instruments, and therefore may enslave us by Authority; nor can they be resisted, because they can plead our own Act and Deed against us. So that in this Gentleman's Opinion, a standing Army kept up by Authority of Parliament, is worse than a standing Army kept up without any such Authority; and therefore, if he were still alive, we may suppose he would insist upon its being inconsistent with the Principles of a true Whig, to give his Vote in Parliament for keeping up a standing Army, but for one. Year; for he then foretold what we have since in Part found by Experience to be true, that by the Parliament's giving its Consent for keeping up a standing Army in Time of Peace, but for one Year, the Courtiers always mean a Consent for keeping it up in Secula Seculorum.
'Having thus, Sir, shewn the true Sentiments of the old Whigs, and by that Means justified their Memory against what I take to be an Aspersion thrown upon their Understanding, I must now endeavour to vindicate the present Whig Interest, by shewing the Impropriety of that Compliment, which the honourable Gentleman has been pleased to pass upon the Tories. He has told us, that a standing Army is necessary for preserving the Whig Interest, and that if our Army should be disbanded, or very much reduced, the Tory Interest would certainly prevail. God forbid, Sir, it should be so ! for if it were, I am sure I should very soon become a Tory; but I differ so much from the honourable Gentleman, that I am convinced the Whig Interest never will be supported by an Army, nor can the Tory Interest be supported by any other Means. This is my Opinion; but as he and I probably differ extremely in what we call the Whig and the Tory Interest, I must explain what I mean by them, and what Sort of Gentlemen ought, in my Opinion, to be called Whigs or Tories. The Whig Interest I take to be that Party of Men in the Kingdom, who have a due Respect to the antient Powers and Perogatives of the Crown, but think that they ought always to be made subservient to the publick Good, and that they are bounded by the Rights and Liberties of the People: The Tory Interest, again, I take to be that Party of Men in the Kingdom, who have such a Veneration for the Powers and Perogatives of the Crown, as to think, that the publick Good may sometimes be made subservient to them, and that they can be bounded by nothing but the Pleasure of the King and his Ministers. In short, the former is the Party that sets up for the Liberty of the Subject, without incroaching upon any Power or Perogative the Crown can justly claim; the latter is that which sets up for giving such a Loose to the Powers and Perogatives of the Crown, as to leave no Liberty to the Subject.
'Now, Sir, I do not call a Man a Whig or Tory from his Behaviour twenty, a dozen, or half a dozen Years ago: I give every Man the Denomination of Whig or Tory according to his present Behaviour. If a Man set out in the first Part of his Life with the Character of a Tory, and acted as such for several Years, yet if he now appears in the Cause of Liberty, and opposes every Scheme that he thinks may tend towards the Establishment of arbitrary Power, I must call such a Man a Whig, and while he behaves in the same Manner, I shall always suppose him to be in the Whig Interest. On the other hand, suppose a Man to have been twenty Years since, or but one Year since, one of the most zealous Assertors of Liberty in the Kingdom, yet if I find that he is now a sanguine Supporter of Prerogative, and ready to contrive or agree to any Scheme that may tend to increase the Power of the Crown, I must call such a Man a Tory, and I must call that Interest which he is ingaged in, the Tory Interest. But I am apt to suspect that my honourable Friend calls this the Whig Interest, and if so, I shall readily agree with him, that what he calls the Whig Interest, being that which I call the Tory Interest, cannot be supported without a Standing Army. This may be a prevailing Argument with him for being against any Reduction, but it is an Argument that has a quite different Influence with me; for I think no Interest, nor any Party of Men, ought to be supported, if a Standing Army becomes necessary for their Support.
'I come now, Sir, to an Argument which I mention with Regret. I am sorry to hear it said by any Gentleman in this House, that because the People of this Nation are discontented, therefore they must be oppressed; for whatever other Gentlemen may think, I take this to be the true Meaning of the Argument, when they say, That because the People are discontented, therefore a numerous Standing Army must be kept up for keeping them in Obedience. To justify their making use of this Argument, we are told that the present Discontents among the People are chiefly owing to Disaffection. If this were the Case, I must confess I should be under a very perplexing Dilemma between the Regard I have for the illustrious Family now upon the Throne, and the Regard I have for the Liberties of my Country; but, thank God! this is far from being the Case; there is not the least Pretence for saying that any of our present Discontents are owing to Disaffection, because in all the Riots and Tumults we have lately had, there has not been the least Muttering heard against the King, nor the least Indignity offered, no not so much as to any Servant belonging to the Royal Family; and, if any of these Mobs or Riots had proceeded from Disaffection, if the People had been spirited up by Jacobites, if they had been governed by any Sort of Jacobite Principles, or if they had entertained in their Hearts any Sort of Rancour, Malice, or Disaffection against the Royal Family, we cannot suppose them such Politicians, or that they would have put such a Restraint upon their private Sentiments, as not to shew the least Sign of them upon such Occasions.
'This shews, Sir, how groundless it is to pretend that our present Royal Family could not remain three Days in England, if it were not for our regular Troops, especially that such a numerous Standing Army as we have at present, is necessary for defending his Majesty's Person from Insults or Dangers. No, Sir, whatever may be the Case of some of those who are near St. James's Palace, I am sure his Majesty and all the rest of the Royal Family might remain at St. James's Palace, or any other Part of the Kingdom, in the utmost Safety, tho' neither of them had any such Thing as that now called a Soldier to attend them. Of this now we have a glaring Proof every Day before our Eyes. His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales has at present no Guards to attend him: He passes every Day to and fro in the Streets of London, and travels every where about London, without so much as one Soldier to guard him: Nay he has not so much as one Centry upon his House in St. James's Square; and yet his Royal Highness lives, I believe, in as great Security at his House in St. James's Square, without one Centry to guard him, as his Majesty can be suppos'd to do in St. James's Palace with all the Guards about him.'
'By what I can collect from the long Debate we have had upon this Question, I find the three chief Arguments made use of against the Reduction proposed are, the Fears we are under from the Pretender, the Discontents that are among our People, and the Care we ought to take of preserving that Weight and Influence, which this Nation ought to have in all foreign Negotiations. These, Sir, are the Reasons, and these only are given as the Reasons, for keeping up the same Number of mercenary Troops but for this insuing Year, which I must think is a little surprising; for if there be any Weight in any of these Reasons, I think it may be easily shewn, that they will always be as good as they are at present; and therefore, if any one of them be an Argument for keeping up the same Number of mercenary Troops but for one Year longer, it must be an Argument for keeping up the same Number for ever. Nay, I believe every one of them will gather new Weight every succeeding Year, and however imaginary they may be at present, I am afraid they will at last become real, and may become good Reasons, not only for keeping up the same Number we have at present, but for keeping up a much greater Number: I am even convinced they will at last become good Reasons for introducing and keeping up a large Body of foreign mercenary Troops; for if our People should become generally disaffected, as well as discontented, our Government could not rely upon an Army raised and recruited from a People generally disaffected: The Soldiers, at least, of such an Army, would be apt to embrace the first Opportunity for following their natural Inclinations.
'As to the Discontents that are said to be at present so general among our People, I must with Sorrow confess that I think they are but too general; but I think their Causes are far from being such as have been assigned. An hon. Gentleman has indeed given us a very ingenious Description of what he takes to be the Causes of our present Discontents; but these Causes, Sir, are such as must for ever subsist, and must for ever produce the same Effects; so that if there are no Discontents in the Nation, but what proceed from one or other of these Causes, we can never expect to see an End or a Diminution of our Discontents, and consequently we can never expect to see an End or a Diminution of our standing Army. The first two, I mean the Discontents of those, who are so unreasonable as to expect Safety and Security, without their being at any Trouble or Expence for that Purpose, and the Discontents of those who are so fond of Changes, as to risk their own Destruction rather than not to have one, must both be perpetual; for if there are any such Men in the Kingdom as either of these, there is no Reason to expect they will ever be fewer: Nay, as these Causes are such as proceed from the Nature of Mankind, they are such as must not only for ever subsist, but must in every Nation subsist; and consequently, the Discontents proceeding from these, must be a Reason for keeping a numerous standing Army on Foot, not only at all Times, but in all Nations. From hence I may say, that some of our Neighbours, as well as we, are much obliged to the honourable Gentleman, for furnishing them with a Pretence for keeping up great Armies, which I am persuaded none of them ever thought of before. But every Man who knows any Thing of the Nature of Mankind, must be convinced that there cannot be in this Nation, nor in any other, a great Number of such Men; and therefore no Government can stand in need of a numerous mercenary Army, for keeping such Men in Obedience.
'Another Cause, Sir, which the honourable Gentleman has been pleased to assign for our Discontents, is likewise a Cause which must for ever, and every where, subsist, because it depends upon the Nature of Mankind; and it must in every free Country produce the same Effects it does in this. In every free Country the People have a Right to make their own Laws, and to enquire into the Administration of their publick Affairs; therefore they have a Right to know what may be said for or against either. In such Countries, the most wise and just Administration, the most prudent and necessary Laws or publick Measures, may be traduced and misrepresented by some Men, for selfish Ends; but in every such Dispute, the Government has, from the very Nature of all Governments, a great Advantage: Those who speak or write against the Measures of the Government, even supposing those Measures to be oppressive and unjust, or absurd and ridiculous, are always under a great Restraint; they are always in Danger of exceeding those Bounds that are prescribed by the Laws of their Country, and have often suffered severely on that Account: On the other Hand, those who speak or write in support of such Measures, are never under any such Restraint, and are always richly rewarded; which is an Encouragement their Antagonists can seldom expect, and much seldomer meet with. For this Reason it is impossible to suppose, that by any Sort of Enquiry, by any Sort of Writing or Speaking, any general Discontent can be raised against a just and wise Administration: On the contrary, the more their Measures are canvassed, the more general Satisfaction they must give; for Truth always appears brighter, the more it is exposed to the Light.
The next Cause of Discontent, which the honourable Gentleman has been pleased to call downright Disaffection, is, 'tis true, something peculiar to this Nation; but this Cause must likewise for ever subsist, because, I believe, we shall always have a Popish Pretender without, and some few Papists within the Kingdom: Nay, I know not but that we may always have some Protestants possessed with the Notions of passive Obedience and Non-resistance, however ridiculous they may appear to those who can reason coolly upon the Subject; but I am sure the Number of this Sort of Protestants, is not considerable at present, nor is the Number of Papists so considerable as to afford any Colour for saying, that downright Disaffection is one of the principal Causes of those Discontents, which are at present so general among our People.
'Thus, Sir, I have shewn, I think, that all the Causes of Discontent, that have been assigned by those who argue in favour of a standing Army, are such as must for ever subsist, and such as must always have the same Effect they have at present; so that if there are now no Discontents among us, but such as proceed from one or other of these Causes, our Discontents, as I have said, must always be as general as they are at present, and consequently we must always have the same Reason for keeping up the same Number of mercenary Troops: But I am of Opinion, that most of our present Discontents proceed from very different Causes, and that the keeping up of such a numerous standing Army within the Kingdom, in Time of Peace, is one of the chief, tho' not the only Cause, of most of our present Discontents. The honourable Gentleman has told us, that none of our Discontents can be owing to Reason, because there is no Country in the World where the Liberties and Properties of the Subject are more sacredly preserved, nor are there any Subjects who pay less for the Ease and Security they enjoy, than the Subjects of this Kingdom. This may, perhaps, be his Opinion; but even he himself must acknowledge there are Multitudes of Men in the Kingdom, who think otherwise; Men who are neither Jacobites, nor fond of Changes, nor such as would grudge to pay their proportionable Share towards every necessary publick Expence. Can any Man think his Property sacredly preserved, when he is obliged to pay heavy Taxes for supporting a publick Expence, for which he thinks there is not the least Occasion? This is the Case of most Men in the Nation: I believe nine Parts in ten of our People think a standing Army of 12,000 Men, more than we have Occasion for in Time of Peace; therefore nine Parts in ten of our People must think the keeping up of the supernumerary 6,000 a publick Expence for which there is not the least Occasion, and consequently, nine Parts in ten of our People must think their Property is not so sacredly preserved as it ought to be. Can any Man think either his Liberty or Property secure, who thinks that both depend upon the Moderation of a Court, and the Honour of a mercenary Army? This I think has been clearly shewn, in the Course of this Debate, to be our Case at present, and that it must always be our Case as long as we keep such a numerous mercenary Army within the Kingdom; and no Man who thinks so, which is, I believe, the Case of most thinking Men in the Kingdom, can think either his Liberty or Property so secure as it ought to be.
The Liberties and Properties of the Subject may be as secure and as sacredly preserved in this, as in any neighbouring Country; but this, Sir, is not sufficient. If our Neighbours are all Slaves, are we to be pleased with being less Slaves, or happier Slaves, than they? No, Sir: Nothing can please our People, nor ought they to be pleased with any Thing less than having their Liberties and Properties as secure and as sacredly preserved, as they ought to be by the Nature of our Constitution; and this they never can, as long as we unnecessarily keep up a numerous Standing Army in Time of Peace. It is not therefore a comparative, it is a real Security our People expect; and every one must be discontented, who thinks he does not enjoy that Security. This, I say, Sir, is one of the chief Causes of our present Discontents; and as it has been admitted on all Sides, that Discontent may at last deviate into Disaffection, those who are really afraid of the Pretender, and have nothing else to fear, ought, and certainly will; be for removing this Cause of Discontent as soon as possible.
'It may, as I have said, Sir, be true, that in this Country the Liberties and Properties of the Subject are as sacredly preserved as in any other; but I am surprised to hear it said, that there are no Subjects who pay less for the Ease and Security they enjoy, than the Subjects of this Kingdom; for I will venture to affirm, and, if it were necessary, I could from Calculation and Comparison make it appear, that the Taxes paid by the People of this Kingdom yearly, amount to a greater Sum, in Proportion to their Numbers, than is paid yearly by any People, I believe, under the Sun; therefore, if there be any publick Expence incurred, that is not absolutely necessary, or if any Man has of late Years with Impunity involved the Nation in Expences, which were not necessary, whoever thinks so, must have Reason to be discontented, without imputing his Discontent to any of the Causes the hon. Gentleman has been pleased to assign; and I am afraid there are but too many who think so; but whether they have just Ground to think so, I shall not take upon me to determine. If they have not, surely some proper Methods may be found, to perswade them they are in the wrong; for to pretend to convince them by a Standing Army, I must look on to be the same with that Method of Arguing, which Popish Inquisitions make use of for the Conversion of Hereticks and Infidels; or, as a facetious Author of our own has expressed it,
The holy Text of Pike and Gun. (fn. 2)
'I come now, Sir, to the third Reason that has been insisted on for our keeping up the same Number of regular Troops, which is, That it is necessary for preserving the Weight and Influence this Nation ought to have in all foreign Negotiations. This likewise is brought as a Reason for keeping up the same Number of Forces, only for this ensuing Year; but does not every one see, that this must be as strong a Reason with next Session, and with every succeeding Session of Parliament, as it can be with the present? If the Weight and Influence we now have in foreign Negotiations depend upon the Number of mercenary Troops we keep in our Pay, what Reason can be assigned for its not depending a Year hence, or two Years hence, upon the same Cause, as much as it can be supposed to do at present? This Reason, therefore, like the two former, must be a perpetual Reason for keeping up the same Number of mercenary Troops; for I fancy it will not be supposed there can ever happen a Time, when we shall have no Occasion for having any Influence in foreign Negotiations; but this, Sir, can be no Reason for keeping up a numerous Standing Army in Time of Peace, either in the present or any future Time; for I am certain, the Weight and Influence of this Nation in foreign Negotiations of all Kinds, and in all Countries, must depend upon the Wisdom of our Councils, and the Unity and Confidence that subsists between our King and People. Our Neighbours are fully sensible of the Power of this Nation, and will always have a due Regard for that Power, when they think it is united, and prudently directed. This we may be convinced of from every Part of our History, and this is one of the strongest Arguments with me for reducing our Army; for by keeping up a numerous Standing Army in Time of Peace, we shall always convince Foreigners, that there are Discords and Animosities between our King and People, or that there is great Folly in our Councils; because, if there are no Discords or Animosities between our King and People, considering the Situation of our Country, and the Superiority of our Fleet, we can have no Occasion for keeping up a numerous Land Army in Time of Peace; therefore no wise Administration will put their People to such an unnecessary Expence; and no Foreigner will have any great Regard for our Power, if it were much greater than it is, as long as they are convinced, that our Power is disunited, or that it is under the Direction of weak and ridiculous Councils.
'This, Sir, I am afraid is an Effect which we feel at present. We have for so many Years kept up a numerous Standing Army in Time of Peace, that Foreigners, I am afraid, begin to think the Power of this Nation is disunited, or not prudently directed; and therefore have not shewed us so much Regard, in some late Negotiations, as they ought to have done. I am convinced they will find themselves mistaken, if they should at last by their Conduct oblige us to make use of our Power, in order to convince them of their Error; for this is one of those few Errors which can be removed only by Force of Arms; but a numerous Land Army can never be the most proper Sort of Force for this Nation to make use of, even for such a Purpose; and much less can it be proper or necessary for us to provide any such Army, till we have Occasion for them. Our Neighbours all know we can have such Armies whenever we have a Mind, because we have Money to pay for them; and if we cannot march them by Land, they know we have an irresistible Fleet, which can convey them where-ever we please to direct our Vengeance.
'With respect to Spain, Sir, I am sorry to say it must be confessed, that we have negotiated in vain, and they have plundered with Success for too many Years; but what can this be owing to? Can it be thought they are ignorant of the Power of Great Britain, or that they would dare to stir it up to Vengeance, if they thought it were united, and wisely conducted: No, Sir, this is not to be presumed: They are certainly of Opinion, that there are Discords and Animofrties subsisting between his Majesty and his People; and this Mistake of theirs can be owing to nothing but to our having kept up in this Island, for so many Years, such a numerous Standing Army; therefore, if we expect to obtain Redress from them by Negotiation, the most probable Way of succeeding would be, to make an immediate Reduction of our Army. But suppose we can expect no such Thing; suppose we are now fully convinced, that the only Way of obtaining Reparation must be by Force of Arms, what Reason can we have for keeping up a numerous Land Army for that Purpose? No Man will pretend, that in Case of a War with Spain, we can or ought to invade that Kingdom with such a Land Force, as may be superior to any Army they can send against it: All we have Occasion for, is to send a superior Fleet, with some Land Forces on board, to infest, their Coasts, till we have brought them to reasonable Terms; and for this Purpose we could spare Troops enough from Britain and Ireland, even though the present Reduction should be agreed to; or if we could not spare enough of our own, what should hinder us from hiring as many from some of our Neighbours, as we can have Occasion for upon any such Occasion?
'For this Reason, Sir, I little expected that the present Situation we are in with respect to Spain, should have been mentioned as a Reason for Land Forces; but I am surprised they should mention it for this Purpose, after they had forgot to make the least mention of it, when they were racking their Invention to find Reasons for the general Discontent that reigns at present among our People; for can it be questioned but that the Depredations and Barbarities committed by the Spaniards with Impunity, for so many Years, against our Merchants and Seamen, occasion great Discontents and great Heart-burnings among our People? Every Man who has been plundered, insulted, or cruelly used by the Spaniards, and who has complained in vain to those who are in Duty bound to give Ear to his Complaints, must be dissatisfied; and all those who have heard their melancholy Tale, must be dissatisfied, if they have any Regard for the Honour, the Trade, or the Happiness of their native Country, which must all be greatly affected by suffering such Indignities to pass unpunished. I hope we have always been, I hope we still are, in a Condition to take proper Vengeance, whenever we find that no Sort of peaceable Measures can procure us Reparation or Security; but if we are not, I suspect there must be some Fault in our late Conduct; and if there is, it ought to he inquired into in a proper Way, and punished in a severe Manner: It would give some Satisfaction to the Sufferers and to the People, to see Justice done upon those (if there be any such) who, by their ill Conduct, have brought the Nation into such a forlorn and helpless Condition.
'This, Sir, leads me naturally to consider a Supposition that has been made, and an Argument for a numerous Standing Army that has been drawn from it, by an honourable Gentleman in this Debate, with both of which I am not a little surprized. It has been supposed, that the Discontents of our People proceed from notorious Oppressions or Malversations in our Administration, and from thence it has been argued, that our Army ought not to be reduced till the Authors of such Oppressions and Malversations have been tried and punished in a proper and legal Method. With respect to any of our present Discontents, or our present Administration, I am sure no such Supposition can be made; but allow me, Sir, to make such a Supposition with respect to some future Administration. Suppose then, that in some future Age, an Administration, or a Set of Ministers, or, if you please, one prime and sole Minister, should for several Years, under the Shadow and Protection of a Standing Army, carry on oppressive and ridiculous Measures; would not these Ministers, or that Minister, during that whole Time, endeavour to put the Army entirely under the Command of his Creatures and Dependants? And would not he, at the same Time, endeavour to bring as many of those Creatures and Dependants into Parliament as possible? By this latter Method he might, perhaps, be able to prevent any Enquiry or Prosecution's being brought into Parliament against him; and in case, by the Virtue, or the Resentment of the People, he should fail in this Method of protecting himself, he might then probably, by Means of the former Method, be able to treat the Parliament as Oliver Cromwell treated the Parliament in his Time. Now, I would be glad to know, what Gentleman would be such a Fool as to move for any Sort of Prosecution in Parliament against a Minister, who, he knew, had a Majority in that very Parliament, that would justify him at any Rate: Or what Parliament would be such Fools as to begin a Prosecution against a Minister, that had an Army at his Beck sufficient for turning them out of Doors.
'In every such Case, Sir, a Reduction of the Army must be the first Step, that could possibly with any Prudence be taken; for if the Friends of the People should find themselves disappointed in that Step, it would be ridiculous, it would be Madness in them, to expect Success in any legal Method they could take, for bringing the Authors of such Oppressions or Malversations to Justice.
'But if they should succeed in this, they might from thence conceive some Hopes; and the People would look upon it as a preparatory Step for relieving them from all their Grievances: They would then begin to put a Trust and Confidence in their Parliament, and would wait with Patience for that Relief, which they saw their Parliament was about to give them; for there is no Example in our Histories, of our People's ever endeavouring to take Vengeance, or to do themselves Justice, in a riotous and tumultuous Manner, as long as they have any Hopes of obtaining it in a legal or Parliamentary Method. Therefore, if ever this Nation should happen to fall into such unfortunate Circumstances, as have been supposed, a Reduction of the Army would be the most proper Method the Parliament could take, for preventing Mobs, Tumults, or Insurrections among the People; and it would be the only Method, by which the Parliament, or at least the People's Friends in Parliament, could hope for Success in their generous Design of relieving their Country.
'Thus, Sir, I think I have shewn, that none of the Arguments made use of for our keeping up the same Number of Forces for this ensuing Year, are such as can be of any Weight, and that if they were now of any Weight, they are such as not only must have always the same Weight, but must every Year acquire an additional Weight: Therefore, with Mr. Trenchard, who has been already mentioned in this Debate, I must conclude, that those who make use of such Arguments, for keeping up such an Army for one Year only, are really in their Hearts for keeping up such an Army in Secula Seculorum; and to make us swallow this bitter Pill the more glibly, we are told, why would you make a Reduction in your Army? The few additional Troops you propose to reduce, cost the Nation but a mere Trifle yearly: You will save but 216,000 l. a Year by the Reduction proposed; which can make no extraordinary Figure in the publick Accounts of this Nation. What Figure such a Saving may make in that Gentleman's Eyes, I do not know, Sir; but a Saving of 216,000 l. will, I am sure, make a very considerable Figure in the Eyes of every Gentleman, who is not accustomed to deal in Millions. Even this Saving alone for twenty Years past, would have paid off above six Millions of publick Debt; for an Annuity of 216,000 l. at Four per Cent. compound Interest, amounts in twenty Years to near 6,500,000 l. and notwithstanding the great Debt we owe, I must think that a Payment of 6,500,000 l. would make no inconsiderable Figure, when compared with the Sum Total of our publick Debts. But this is not all; for if we had reduced our Army twenty Years since to twelve thousand Men, we might long before now have reduced them to a much less Number; for the Nature of a Standing Army is such, that the more you reduce it, the more you may, and the more you increase it, the greater Reason will you always have to increase it.
'Every one knows, Sir, how our Parliamentary Armies have increased, since the Year 1697, which was the first Time such a Thing was introduced by Consent of Parliament. It was then asked but for one Year, but the Nation has never since been able to get rid of it, and it has vastly increased since that Time. I doubt much if it is yet come to its full Growth; for I do not know but that twenty Years hence, or under some future Administration, I may see a Standing Army of thirty thousand thought as necessary, and agreed to by Parliament as unanimously, as an Army of eighteen thousand is now. Even this very Year, though no Addition has been made to our Troops here in Britain, yet an Addition of one Regiment is, I hear, to be made, or has already been made, to our Troops in the Plantations. I do not say, Sir, but that it was necessary to send some additional Troops to that Country. I wish most of the Troops we now have in Great Britain were always kept there. In that Country they might sometimes be useful, and could never be dangerous to their native Country; and the honourable Gentleman, who is to have the Command of the Troops to be sent thither, will, I am sure, make the best Use of them upon any Occasion that shall offer; but I think there was no Necessity for raising a new Regiment for that Purpose; I think one of the Regiments we have at home might have been sent thither; I am sure we could have spared half a Dozen. This new Regiment is a new Addition to the annual Charge of the Nation, I reckon, of near 10,000 l. if not more, as will appear by comparing the Estimate of the Charge of his Majesty's Forces in the Plantations, Minorca, and Gibraltar, for this next ensuing Year, with the Sum granted by Parliament for the same Purpose last Year: I say, upon comparing these two Sums together, it will be found that the former exceeds the latter by at least 10,000 l. And considering the great Debt we owe, and the many heavy Taxes our People are obliged to pay, I think nothing but the most absolute Necessity should induce us to load the Nation with the most trifling Addition to its present annual Charge.
'I shall conclude, Sir, with observing, that even the honourable Gentlemen who have spoken against the Question now under our Consideration, have furnished us with a most powerful Argument in its Favour. They have told us, that a Standing Army can never contribute towards the Overthrow of our Constitution, without its being properly garbled for that Purpose. I do not know what these Gentlemen call garling, but when I see Gentlemen of the Army turned out of their Commissions, or threatened to be turned out, without a Pretence of their having been guilty of any military Crime; when I see others advanced and preferred out of their Turn, to the Prejudice of those whose Turn it was to have that Preferment, without so much as a Pretence of any superior military Virtue in the former; I say, Sir, when I see such Things done, and frequently done, I must call it garbling the Army; for when a Man is punished for a Vice, or rewarded for a Virtue, which he that is the Cause of inflicting the Punishment, or bestowing the Reward, dares not, or is ashamed to own, I shall always suspect that the natural Course of Things is inverted, that the Vicious only can expect to be rewarded, and that the Virtuous are sure of being discouraged, if not punished, as soon as their virtuous Disposition begins to appear. Julius Cæsar had as great Reason as any Man can ever have, to discourage Virtue and reward the Vicious: Julius Cæsar did sometimes threaten Men for doing their Duty; but Julius Cæsar was always extremely shy of putting such Threats in Execution. We are told, that when he went to seize upon the sacred Treasure of Rome, and was opposed by Metellus, the Tribune, he threatened to kill Metellus, and at the same Time told him, Istud nonne scis adolescentule, longe mibi difficilius dicere, quam facere. This was threatening a Man for doing his Duty, but Julius Cæsar took care not to put that Threat in Execution. In this Age, and in this Country, we have heard of Men's having been threatened for doing thetr Duty: We have not only heard of such Threats being made, but we have some Reason to suspect they have sometimes been put in Execution; for when an Officer of the Army is turned out of his Commission without any publick Accusation, whatever Accusation may have been privately brought against him, we have Reason to suppose the Accusation false, and that the true Cause of such an Accusation's being brought against him was, his having done his Duty, or his having refused to do what he thought was inconsistent with his Honour. If such Practices have been lately introduced, I must think that those who have introduced them, have begun to garble the Army; and therefore, even according to the Opinion of those Gentlemen who have argued against this Question, it is now high Time for the Parliament to think of reducing the Army; for if the first Session of Parliament after such Practices have been introduced, should pass them over without Notice, it may probably be put out of the next, or any future Session, to take the least Notice of them, or to prevent the fatal Effects of them by a Reduction.'
Sir T. Sanderson.
'I seldom give this House the Trouble of hearing what I can say upon any Question that happens to be before them; but sometimes the Spirit moves, and then I must out with it. However, tho' I am at present moved by a Sort of Spirit, yet I cannot pretend it is a Spirit of Prophecy: I cannot pretend to tell what will happen twenty Years hence, or under any future Administration: I have not so much Foresight; nor have I so sharp an Eye towards any future Administration, as some Gentlemen seem to have who have spoke before me in this Debate. Whether any future Administration will think a greater Number of regular Troops necessary than we have at present, is what I shall not pretend to determine; but this I may venture to foretel, that no future Administration will think a less Number necessary; and if I live to see a new Administration, I may happen to see some of those Gentlemen, who have this Day argued so strenuously against the present Number, then arguing as strenuously for keeping up a greater Number.
'Those who call themselves Whigs, are, indeed, the only Persons who can, with any Confidence, argue against a Standing Army; for if any noted Tory, or suspected Jacobite, should argue against our keeping up a few regular Troops by Authority of Parliament, it would be easy to answer him. Every Man would compare him to the fat Man, who muttered and complained against the Crowd, which he himself was the principal Cause of; but I wish those Whigs who now argue against a Standing Army, would consider what they have been, or what they may be. If the Journals of this House had been exactly taken, and religiously preserved, I do not know but it might have been found, that some of them are now making use of the Arguments, which they themselves have formerly with great Strength of Reason refuted; and others may, for what they know, be laying themselves under very great Difficulties; for they may perhaps be now laying a Foundation for bringing their own Authority against their future Opinion. 'Tis true, a Man may change his Opinion; but whatever Cause he may find from a Change in his own Circumstances, he may perhaps find it hard to give a Reason for changing his Opinion from any Change in the Nature of Things, or in the Circumstances of the Nation; and no Man will then chuse, I believe, to say, that he is now for a standing Army, because he is a Minister, and was formerly against it because he was not.
'But, Sir, of all those who have this Day declared themselves against a Standing Army, I am surprized at those who are called by the Patriots, Placemen. I know they call us so by Way of Contempt; but whatever they think, I shall never be ashamed of serving my Country, in any Post the Crown pleases to put me in, nor can I look upon it as a Discredit to have an Honour conferred upon me, by what even the Patriots themselves must allow to be the only Fountain of Honour in this Nation. I am convinced all Placemen are of my Opinion, and I am surprized to hear any Placemen arguing in favour of a Reduction of the Army; for we, who have Commissions in the Army, must be allowed to be Placemen as well as others; and if the Spirit of reducing should prevail, with Respect to military Placemen, our civil Placemen would do well to look to themselves, for many of our civil Posts may be thought as dangerous and as useless as most of our military: Nay, I do not know but this Spirit may at last attack our established Church, by reducing all the useless ecclesiastical Posts in the Kingdom; in which Case I do not know but it might with some Reason be said, the Church is in Danger. It is commonly said, that two of a Trade can never agree; and yet we find it is natural for all those of a Trade to unite together, and to form a Sort of Society for their mutual Support; I think we Placemen ought to do the same: Tho' we sometimes fall out about which of us shall have the better Place; yet when the Places themselves are attack'd, we ought to unite together for supporting the Craft.
'I have been long conversant among Soldiers, Sir, and I must say, I could never find they were less reasonable Creatures, or more fond of arbitrary Power, than other Men; therefore, I must presume, that they will always be as zealous for supporting our Constitution as any other Set of Men in the Kingdom; and, I cannot think a Man's receiving Pay as a Soldier, will make him less zealous than he would be if he were to receive none. Therefore, I can never think our Constitution will be in any Danger from a regular Army of our own Subjects; and those who stand the Brunt while their Country is in Danger, certainly deserve some Reward after the Danger has been repelled, and Peace restored to their Country, by their Means; for I hope it will not be said, that the Pay a Soldier receives while the War continues, is to be looked on as a Reward for his Services; it is given only as a Subsistence; his Reward he must expect from the Gratitude of his Country, if he lives to see an End of the War. In Kingdoms or States that have but small Territories, their Wars seldom last long, nor have their Armies far to march, so that they can easily send out one Army, or one Body of Men, to relieve another; therefore, their whole People march out by Turns, and every Man of the Society has his proportionable Share of the Fatigue and Danger of the War; for this Reason, no Man can expect any extraordinary Reward, because no Man performs any extraordinary Service; but when the Dominions of a Kingdom or State become extensive, their Wars last long, and are at such a Distance, that one Army cannot be sent out to relieve another; one Part of the Society, or one certain Body of Men, are therefore employed to carry on the War, while most of the rest, even during the War, enjoy all the Blessings of Peace; for this Reason it is but just, that those who are employed as Soldiers, should be subsisted during the War, and that, after Peace is restored, they should receive some Reward, for the extraordinary Services they have performed. This has always made, and always will make, Standing Armies necessary, in all States or Kingdoms, whose Dominions are extensive. Therefore, to turn all Soldiers adrift, as soon as by their Valour they have restored Peace to their Country, would, in my Opinion, be unjust, and, I think, I may say, the Height of Ingratitude. It would verify a little Epigram I have heard, which I shall not repeat, because some Gentlemen might think it irreligious; but the Purport of it is, That our Behaviour towards a Soldier, is the same with that which is too often our Behaviour towards God: They are both forgotten, as soon as the Danger is over.'
William Pitt Esq;
'If the Question now before us were not an Affair of too serious a Nature, it would be extreamly easy to be witty upon it, especially, as the honourable Gentleman who spoke last has given us so good a Handle; but, I must confess, it seems to me of so much Importance with Respect to our Constitution, and the Happiness of our Country, that I cannot, and I think no Gentlman ought to make himself merry upon such an Occasion; for tho' the Preservation of our Constitution were no Way concerned, yet the Loading of of our People with an additional Expence of 2 or 300,000 l is, in my Opinion, an Affair of too affecting a Nature to be treated in a ludicrous Manner.
'As to what the Honourable Gentleman has been pleased to say about those he calls Placemen, I shall agree that, if they were to be directed in their Opinions by the Places they possess, they might perhaps unite for the Support of one another, against the common Good of the Society; but I hope none of them are under any such Direction; I am sure the Honourable Gentleman himself is not, and therefore, I am convinced he is not serious, when he talks of being surprized at any Placeman's declaring for a Reduction of our Army; for, of all Men, those who enjoy any Places of Profit under our Government, ought to be the most cautious of loading the People with any unnecessary Tax or Expence; because, as the Place they possess generally brings them in more than their Share of all our Taxes can amount to, it may be properly said, that by consenting to any Article of publick Expence, they lay a Load upon others which they themselves bear no Share of.
'I must look upon myself, Sir, as a Placeman, as well as the honourable Gentleman who spoke last: I am in the Service of one of the Branches of the Royal Family, and think it my Honour to be so; but I should not think it, if I were not as free to give my Opinion upon any Question that happens in this House, as I was before I had any such Place; and, I believe, from the Behaviour of Gentlemen, upon this very Occasion, it will appear, that all those who are in the same Service with me, are in the same State of Freedom; because I believe, they will, upon the Question now before us, appear to be of different Opinions, But, there is another Set of Placemen, whose Behaviour surprizes me not a little; because, upon every Question that occurs relating to publick Affairs, they are always unanimous; and I confess, it is to me a little astonishing, that 2 or 300 Gentlemen should, by an unaccountable Sort of Unanimity, always agree in Opinion upon the many different Sorts of Questions that occur yearly, and that not for one, but for several Years together. I am convinced this surprizing Unanimity does not proceed from any Effect of the Places they have under the Crown; for if it did, a Man's being possessed of any Place under the Crown, would, in such a Case, I am sure, be an infallible Reason for the People not to trust him with the Preservation of their Liberties, or the Dispensation of their Properties in Parliament.
'Then, Sir, as to the Tories and suspected Jacobites, I am surprized to hear any Comparison made between them and the fat Man in the Crowd: There are so few of either in the Kingdom, that I am sure they can give no Man an Occasion for being afraid of them, and therefore there is not the least Shadow of Reason for saying, they are the Occasion of our being obliged to keep up such a numerous Standing Army. The Army, indeed, or rather those who have been the chief Advocates for our keeping up such a numerous Standing Army, may properly be compared to the fat Man in the Crowd; for the keeping up of such an Army is the chief Cause of our Discontents, and those Discontents are now, we find, made the chief Pretence for keeping up such a numerous Army. Remove therefore but the Army, or a confiderable Part of it, and the Crowd, or the Discontents you complain of, will cease. The Consequences, 'tis true, may be fatal to some of those, who have been the Causes of loading the Nation so long with such an unnecessary Expence; but no honest Man, I am sure, will think that their Safety is to be put in the Balance, with the Stisfaction of the People, and the Safety of the Nation.
'I come now, Sir, to the only Argument the honourable Gentleman made Use of, which can admit of a serious Consideration; and if our Army were entirely, or but generally, composed of old Veterans, inured to the Fatigues and the Dangers of War, and such as had often ventured their Lives against the Enemies of their Country, I confess the Argument would have a great deal of Weight; but considering the Circumstances of our present Army, I can hardly think my Honourable Friend was serious, when he made Use of such an Argument. As for the Officers of the Army, they are quite out of the Question; for in Case of a Reduction, there is a handsome Provision for every one of them: No Man can doubt, nor would any Man oppose, their being all put upon half Pay; and I must observe that our half Pay is better, or as good as full Pay, I believe, in any other Country of Europe; for in the Method our Army is now kept up, I could shew by Calculation, that it costs the Nation more than would maintain three Times the Number of Men, either in France or Germany. And as for the Soldiers, I believe it may be said of at least three fourths of them, that they never underwent any Fatigue except that of a Review, nor were ever exposed to any Danger except in apprehending Smugglers or dispersing Mobs; therefore I must think they have no Claim for any greater Reward than the Pay they have already received, nor should I think we were guilty of the least Ingratitude, if they were all turned adrift to-morrow Morning.
'But suppose, Sir, the Soldiers of our Army were all such as had served a Campaign or two against a publick Enemy; is it from hence to be inferred, that they must for ever after live idly, and be maintained at the Expence of their Country, and that, in such a Manner, as to be dangerous to the Liberties of their Country ? At this Rate, if a Man has but once ventured his Life in the Service-of his Country, he must for ever after be not only a Burden, but a Terror to his Country. This, Sir, would be a Sort of Reward, which I am sure no brave Soldier would accept of, nor any honest one desire. That we should shew a proper Gratitude to those who have ventured their Lives in the Service of their Country, is what I shall readily acknowlege; but this Gratitude ought to be shewn in such a Way, as not to be dangerous to the Liberties, nor too burdensome to the People of our Country; and therefore, after a War is at an End, if a Soldier can provide for himself, either by his Labour, or by means of his own private Fortune, he ought not to expect, and, if he is not of a mercenary Disposition, he will scorn to receive, any other Reward, than that which consists in the peculiar Honours and Privileges that may and ought to be conferred upon him, by the established Laws of his Country.
'That we ought to shew a proper Gratitude, that we ought to give a proper Regard to every Man, who has ventured his Life in the Cause of his Country, is what I am sure no Gentleman will deny: But when I have said this, Sir, I cannot help observing how defective our Laws and Customs are in this Respect. Is not this an unanswerable Argument for establishing this Gratitude, and ascertaining this Reward, by a publick Law ? Yet as the Laws now stand, an old Officer, a Man who has often ventured his Life, and often spilt his Blood, in the Service of his Country, may be dismissed, and reduced, perhaps, to a starving Condition, at the arbitrary Will and Pleasure, perhaps at the Whim of a favourite Minister; so that by the present Establishment of our Army, the Reward of a Soldier seems not to depend upon the Services done to his Country, but upon the Services he does to those who happen to be the favourite Ministers at the Time. Must not this, Sir, be allowed to be a Defect in the present Establishment of our Army ? And yet when a Law was proposed for removing this Defect, we may remember what Reception it met with, even from those who now insist so highly upon the Gratitude we ought to shew to the Gentlemen of our Army.