The History and Proceedings of the House of Commons: Volume 6, 1714-1727. Originally published by Chandler, London, 1742.
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SPEECHES and DEBATES
In the Second Session of the First Parliament of King George I.
Anno 3. Geo. I. 1716-17.
The King came to the House of Peers, on the 20th of February, and the Commons being sent for and attending, the Lord Chancellor read his Majesty's Speech, as follows:
King's Speech at opening the Second Session.
My Lords and Gentlemen,
I Was in Hopes that the Success which it pleas'd God to give us, in defeating the late Rebellion, might have secur'd to the Nation, Peace, Plenty, and Tranquility.
"My Endeavours have not been wanting, during your Recess, to improve the happy Prospect which was in View, by entering into such Negotiations as I judg'd most conducive to those good Ends; and 'tis with Pleasure I can acquaint you, that many Defects in the Treaty of Utrecht, which very nearly affected the Trade, and even the Security of these Kingdoms, have been remedied by subsequent Conventions; the happy Consequences of which have already very sensibly appear'd by the flourishing Condition of our Trade and Credit.
"By the Alliance lately concluded with France and the States-General, we are soon to be eas'd of all future Apprehensions from Dunkirk and Mardyke; the Pretender is actually moved beyond the Alps; his Adherents are depriv'd of all Hopes of Support and Countenance from France; and even the Assistance of that Crown is stipu lated to us in case of Exigency.
"It seem'd reasonable to expect, that such a Situation of Affairs at Home and Abroad should have recover'd, from their Delusion, all such of our Subjects as had unhappily been seduced by the Craft and Wickedness of desperate and ill-designing Men, and thereby have afforded me the Opportunity which I desir'd, of following the natural Bent of my own Inclinations to Lenity, by opening this Session with an Act of Grace; but such is the obstinate and inveterate Rancour of a Faction amongst us, that it hath again prompted them to animate and stir up foreign Powers, to disturb the Peace of their native Country: They will choose rather to make Britain a Scene of Blood and Confusion, and to venture even the putting this Kingdom under a foreign Yoke, than give over their darling Design of imposing a Popish Pretender.
"I have order'd to be laid before you Copies of Letters which have pass'd between the Swedish Ministers on this Occasion, which contain a certain Account of a projected Invasion; and I promise my self, from your experienc'd Zeal and Affection to my Person and Government, that you will come to such Resolutions as will enable me, by the Blessing of God, to defeat all the Designs of our Enemies against us.
Gentlemen of the House of Commons,
"I did hope the putting an End to the late Rebellion would have so far secur'd the Peace and Tranquility of the Nation, that I might, consistently with the Safety of my People, have made a considerable Reduction of the Forces; but the Preparations which are making from Abroad to invade us oblige me to ask such Supplies, as you shall find absolutely necessary for the Defence of the Kingdom.
"You are all sensible of the insupportable Weight of the National Debts, which the Publick became engag'd for from the Necessity of the Times, the Pressures of a long and expensive War, and the languishing State of Publick Credit; but the Scene being now so happily chang'd, if no new Disturbances shall plunge us again into Streights and Difficulties, the general Expectation seems to require of you, that you should turn your Thoughts towards some Method of extricating your selves, by reducing, by Degrees, the Debts of the Nation.
My Lords and Gentlemen,
"I have an entire Confidence in you, and have therefore nothing to ask, but that you would take such Measures as will best secure your Religion and Liberties: While you preserve those inestimable Blessings, I shall sit easy and safe on my Throne, having no other View but the Happiness and Prosperity of my People.
Gen. Stanhope lays before the House several Letters relating to an Invasion from Sweden.; Mr Onslow's Motion for an Address of Thanks.
The Commons being return'd to their House, General Stanhope, by his Majesty's Command, laid before them Copies of Letters which pass'd between Count Gyllenborg, the Barons Gortz and Sparre, and others, relating to the Design of raising a Rebellion in his Majesty's Dominions, to be supported by a Force from Sweden; and the said Copies were read in the House: After which, Mr. Thomas Onslow mov'd for an Address of Thanks to his Majesty. He was Seconded by Sir John Brownlow, who said, 'That we had no need of the King of Sweden to maintain the English Liberties and support the Church of England.' This in Count Gyllenborg's and Baron Gortz's Letters, was hinted to be the Pretence of the intended Invasion. Mr. Hungerford took this Occasion to say, 'That he was sorry to find that a Member he had in his Eye [meaning Mr. Robert Walpole,] was mention'd in those Letters; but that he had the Honour to defend him formerly, and would be ready to do the like for the future.'
A Bill order'd to be brought in, to prohibit Commerce with Sweden.
February 21. The Commons made their Orders, and came to the Resolutions usual at the opening of a new Session; Then Mr. Tho. Onslow reported the Address to his Majesty, which was read and agreed to by the House; after which, they order'd, Nem. Con. that a Bill should be brought in to authorize his Majesty to prohibit Commerce with Sweden, during such Time as his Majesty should think it necessary for the Safety and Peace of his Kingdom. A Member having mov'd for declaring War against Sweden, Gen. Stanhope said; 'That it was Time enough to do that, if the King of Sweden refus'd to disown the Practices of his Ministers.'
February, 22. The House presented the following Address to the King.
The Common Address.
Most gracious Sovereign,
YOUR Majesty's dutiful and loyal Subjects, the Commons of Great Britain in Parliament assembled, return your Majesty their humblest Thanks for your most gracious Speech from the Throne.
'Your Majesty's safe and happy Return into your Kingdoms gave an universal Joy to all your People; and as the prudent Administration of the Government by his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, under your Majesty, did in some Degree make the Want of your Royal Presence more easy to us, we beg Leave to congratulate your Majesty upon the Peace and Security that, during your Majesty's Absence, was, by the great Care of his Royal Highness, preserv'd in the Kingdom, to the general Satisfaction of all your Subjects.
'We can never sufficiently acknowledge the repeated Instances of your Majesty's Goodness, and unweary'd Concern for the Welfare of your Kingdoms; we see with Admiration many of the fatal Defects of the Treaty of Utrecht, and the great Disadvantages that were impos'd upon this Nation, at the Head of a victorious Army and powerful Confederacy, happily remedied by your Majesty, even in the Midst of intestine Dangers and Troubles. Your consummate Wisdom has renew'd those Alliances that were basely betray'd and dissolv'd, and concluded such new Treaties as may render the Peace safe and lasting; and we are at a Loss to determine, whether in future Ages the suffering the Demolition of the Port of Dunkirk to be scandalously evaded, will be a greater Reproach, or the procuring the Destruction of the Sluices of Mardyke a greater Honour, to the British Nation.
'We cannot at the same Time, but with the highest Resentment and Indignation, look upon the obstinate and inveterate Rancour of those who are again endeavouring to embroil their native Country in Blood and Confusion. It is astonishing to find, that any, who call themselves Protestants, can be so inflexible and restless in their Endeavours, to impose upon us a Popish Pretender; and rather venture to subject the Kingdom to a foreign Yoke, than depart from their darling and avow'd Design of altering and subverting the present happy Establishment in the Protestant Succession.
'We adore the watchful Eye of Heaven, that has so wonderfully guarded and protected your sacred Person, and cannot too much extol the Wisdom and Vigilance that have been us'd in so early and seasonably discovering this desperate Attempt. And in order most effectually to defeat it, your faithful Commons, with Hearts sincerely zealous in the Cause of their King and Country, assure your Majesty, that they will to the utmost stand by and support your Majesty against all your Enemies at Home and Abroad, that shall in any Manner presume to aid or abet the Pretender to your Crown, and will most chearfully grant to your Majesty such Supplies as shall be found necessary for the Safety of your Royal Person, and the Defence of the Kingdom.
'We are all but too sensible of the unsupportable Weight of the National Debts, and therefore will not neglect to apply our selves with all possible Diligence and Attention, to the great and necessary Work of reducing and lessening, by Degrees, this heavy Burthen, which may prove the most effectual Means of preserving to the publick Funds a real and certain Security.'
To this Address, his Majesty gave the following Answer.
King's Answer thereto.
"THE Duty and Zeal which you express, in this loyal Address, to my Person and Government, your affectionate Concern for the Welfare of your Country, your Promises of an effectual Support against all our Enemies at Home and Abroad, and your Resolution of applying your selves to ease my People, by reducing gradually the heavy Load of the publick Debts, deserve my hearty Thanks. You shall never have Cause to repent of the Confidence you repose in me; the Honour, Welfare, and Prosperity of the Nation being what I have chiefly at Heart."
Motion relating to the Land-Forces.; Debate thereon.
March 4. The House met according to their Adjournment, when, in a Grand Committee on the Supply, it was mov'd to take into Consideration the Estimates relating to the Land-Forces; upon which, Sir Robert Davers, Member for Suffolk, Mr Freeman, and Mr Hungerford endeavour'd to get that Affair put off to another Day, by moving that Mr Farrer, the Chair-man, should leave the Chair. They alledg'd, 'That the late Rebellion being happily suppress'd, and the Swedish Conspiracy seasonably discover'd, there was Reason to hope, that the Counties of England would soon be eas'd of the grievous Burthen of quartering Soldiers; but if it appear'd; that the King of Sweden persisted in his Design to invade Great Britain, they would all readily give their Votes for keeping the present Forces on Foot.' (fn. 1) Mr R. Walpole, (fn. 2) General Stanhope, Mr John Smith, (fn. 3) Mr W. Pulteney, General Lumley, and several other Courtiers, on the contrary, urg'd the Necessity of taking speedy and vigorous Resolutions in Relation to the Army; and after a Debate that lasted near two Hours, the Question being put, That the Chair-man leave the Chair, it was carry'd in the Negative, by a Majority of 222 Voices against 57.
Mr R. Walpole moves for borrowing 600,000£. for the publick Service at 4£. per Cents. ; Debate thereon.
March 5. Mr Farrer, Member for Bedford, reported the Resolutions taken the Day before, in the grand Committee on the Supply; which being agreed to, Mr R. Walpole mov'd, and it was resolv'd, Nem. Con. That whosoever shall advance or lend any Sum, not exceeding 600,000£. for the Service of the Publick by Sea or Land, shall be repaid the same with Interest, at 4 £. per Cent. out of the first Aid to be granted this Session of Parliament. The putting the Interest of this intended Loan so low as 4 £. per Cent. gave Reason to surmize, that those, who had the Management of his Majesty's Treasury, design'd to put on the same Foot the Interests of all publick Funds: Whereupon Mr Lechmere took Notice, 'That several Schemes and Proposals for reducing the National Debts had been printed and dispers'd, which gave the Persons concern'd in the publick Securities the greater Uneasiness, in that there was Reason to apprehend, that those Schemes came abroad with the Privity and Countenance of Men in great Places: That the general Alarm which this had occasion'd among the money'd Men, might very sensibly affect publick Credit, and be, at this Juncture, of very dangerous Consequence: To prevent which, he thought it necessary, to move, That the House would come to a Resolution, effectually to make good all Parliamentary Engagements.'To this Mr Robert Walpole, immediately answer'd, 'That his Majesty having, with great Tenderness, recommended to them from the Throne, the reducing, by Degrees, the Debts of the Nation; and the Commons having afterwards in their Address to his Majesty, promis'd to apply themselves, with all possible Diligence and Attention, to that great and necessary Work, they ought to exert themselves to make good that Promise, and appoint a Day to take that important Matter into Consideration: And he did not doubt but the Commons would then shew all possible Regard to Justice and publick Faith. He own'd, there had been, indeed, several Schemes publish'd, relating to the Reduction of the national Debts, but that they were made by private Persons, and, he did assure the House, without the Participation of any of his Majesty's Ministers, and therefore they were not to be regarded; but that in a short Time, such Proposals would be laid before the House, as, he hop'd, would give them Satisfaction, and meet with their Approbation; therefore he mov'd, That Mr. Lechmere's Motion might be thus alter'd, viz. That this House will effectually make good the Deficiencies of all Parliamentary Engagements.' This after a short Debate, was carry'd in the Affirmative, Nem. Con. But Mention being made of the great Services done by the Bank of England, and those, who by their Money had supported the Court Interest and the present Establishment, Mr. Aislabie, (fn. 4) took Notice of the Management of some Directors of the Bank, who, upon the alluring Prospect of Gain, were as ready to support the late Ministry. On the other Hand, a Courtier having defy'd any Body to charge any Breach of publick Faith, or of the Laws, on the Administration, since his Majesty's happy Accession to the Throne, Mr. Hungerford said, 'That this put him in Mind of a Coronation, when the King's Champion, coming into Westminster-Hall, throws down one of his Gloves to make the Challenge, but that he never saw any Body so bold as to take it up.
Mr Lechmere taken Notice that only 45,000£. had been subscrib'd towards the Loan at 4 £. per Cent.; The Commons resolve to allow 5£. per Cent. on the Loan of 600,000£. Upon which the whole Sum is immediately subscrib'd.
March 8. While the House was in a Committee on the Supply, Mr. Lechmere, told them, 'That he was sorry he found himself oblig'd to take Notice, that their late Vote for a Loan, at 4 £. per Cent. Interest, was like to prove ineffectual, there not being in three Days Time above 45,000£. subscrib'd to the Loan of 600,000£. on the Land-Tax. And therefore since the present Exigency requir'd a speedy Supply, he thought it necessary, and therefore mov'd, That a Day be appointed to consider farther of that Matter. 'Mr. Robert Walpole seconded this Motion, and said, That there was the greater Necessity for it, because he was inform'd, that some Stock-Jobbers, in order to deter the Parliament from pursuing the Design of reducing the publick Debts, had form'd a Combination to distress the Government, and ruin publick Credit, which was the Occasion that the late Vote for borrowing 600,000£. at 4 £. per Cent. had not had the desired Effect.' To this Mr. Lechmere answer'd, 'That as none but the most wicked of Men could enter into such a Combination against the Good of their Country, so the honourable Member, who spoke last, would do well to name them, that the House might shew the utmost Resentment and Indignation against them. But that, in his Opinion, the ill Success of the Loan was rather mainly occasion'd by some Reflections on the money'd Men and Stock-Jobbers, and by certain Maxims lately advanc'd, viz. That the Parliament may exert their Authority to extricate themselves, by reducing the National Debts; that such Maxims could not but alarm the Persons concern'd in the publick Securities; and the more, when they saw that a Slur had been put upon the Motion made three Days before, 'That all Parliamentary Engagements should effectually be made good. That he still thought such a Vote absolutely necessary, both to remove Peoples Fears and Jealousies, and to vindicate the Honour and Justice of the Nation; that the same was entirely agreeable to his Majesty's Sentiments, who, in his first Speech to this Parliament, had been pleas'd to recommend to the Commons, in a particular Manner, the strict Observance of all Parliamentary Engagements, than which nothing could more contribute to the Support of the Credit of the Nation; with which Opinion of his Majesty the Commons did entirely concur; and that he could not believe, that any of his Majesty's Ministers could be so regardless of his Honour and known Equity, or put so hard a Thing upon him, as to make him, in the least, contradict what he had in so solemn a Manner declar'd from the Throne. He added, That the Commons having already appointed a Day, to consider of the State of the Nation, with Relation to the publick Debts, he would not anticipate that important Affair: But he could not forbear declaring on this Occasion his private Opinion, That it would be the greatest Ingratitude, as well as Injustice, in the least to wrong those who had supported the Government in the most pressing Exigencies and perilous Junctures, and, on all Occasions, shewn their Zeal and Affection for the Protestant Succession. That he had nothing to say, as to such publick Securities as were redeemable by Parliament; but as to Annuities granted for Terms of Years, he would be positive, that they could not be meddled with, without breaking in upon Parliamentary Engagements, and violating the publick Faith; since those Annuities were not to be look'd upon as Debts, but as a Sale of Annual Rents for a valuable Consideration, of which Contract the Parliament had propos'd and made the Terms and Conditions, and the Rentees became Purchasers upon the Parliamentary Faith and Security. And that, besides the Injustice of breaking through a National Contract, those Annuities could not be touch'd, without occasioning great Confusion and Disputes in private Families, by Reason that most of the said Annuities had been settled for Portions, Joyntures, and the like.' Then Mr Walpole, in Answer to this, declar'd, 'That there never had been a Design to use any Compulsion with Relation to Annuities; that, indeed, an Alternative might be offer'd to the Proprietors of them, but that it should be in their Choice either to accept or refuse it: And as for such Funds as were redeemable, that nothing should be propos'd that did not entirely consist with Justice and publick Faith.' Mr. Aislabie took also that Occasion to explain some Expressions he us'd, in the Debate of the 5th Instant, in relation to the Bank of England, which had been constru'd amiss; owning, that they had supported the Government in the most difficult Exigencies; and that, in his Opinion, if any Thing ought to remain untouch'd, it should be the Bank.' After a Debate of about two Hours, it was resolv'd to consider farther of the Supply, in a grand Committee, on the 13th of March.
March 9. The House agreed to the Resolutions of the Committee on the Supply, so that the Money already voted amounted to above two Millions.
March 23. It was ordered, That the Committee of the whole House, to whom the Land-Tax Bill is committed, have Power to receive a Clause to transfer to the Register appointed to be kept by the said Act, all the Loans which have been made upon the Resolution of the House on the 5th Instant, to be repaid with Interest not exceeding 5£. per Cent. per Annum. On which last Resolution, the whole Loan of 600,000£. was immediately fill'd up.
Motion relating to the Bishop of Muster's and Duke of Saxe-Gotha's Troops.
March 26. It was resolv'd to address his Majesty, That the Treaties made with the Bishop of Munster and the Duke of Saxe-Gotha, for putting six Battalions of their Troops into his Majesty's Service, might be laid before the House: According to which Address General Stanhope, two Days after, presented to the House the said Treaties, with Translations of the same. It was generally suppos'd, that these Treaties were call'd for with a Design to find Fault with them, and to bring a Censure upon some German Ministers, who had been employ'd in those Transactions: But a Motion being made the next Day, and the Question put, That an Address be presented to his Majesty, That he will be pleas'd to give Directions, that the Instructions given to his Majesty's Ministers, who transacted the Treaties for taking four Battalions of the Bishop of Munster's Troops, and two Battalions of the Duke of Saxe-Gotha's Troops into his Majesty's Pay, to supply the Place of such as, during the late Rebellion, should be drawn from the Garrisons of the States General of the United Provinces to assist his Majesty, may be laid before this House, it pass'd in the Negative by 165 Votes against 38.
April 3. Gen. Stanhope delivered to the House the following Message from the King.
Message from the King relating to the Swedish Invasion.
HIS Majesty being desirous, above all Things, not only to secure his Kingdoms against the present Danger, with which they are threaten'd from Sweden, but likewise to prevent, as far as is possible, the like Apprehensions for the future, thinks it necessary that such Measures should be early concerted with other Princes and States, as may conduce most effectually to this End.
"And as this may require some Expence, his Majesty hopes that his Commons will, by their Assistance at this Juncture, enable him to make good such Engagements as may ease his People of all future Charge and Apprehensions upon this Account.
The Consideration of this Message was put off to the next Day.
Gen. Stanhope's Motion for a Supply on that Account. ; Debate thereon.
April 4. General Stanhope mov'd, That a Supply be granted to enable his Majesty to concert such Measures with Foreign Princes and States, as may prevent any Charge or Apprehensions from the Designs of Sweden for the future. 'He urg'd the Advantage and Security that would redound to the Nation, by enabling his Majesty to reduce the King of Sweden; and what Confidence they ought to repose in the King's Honour, Wisdom, and Oeconomy in the Management of what Money should be thought necessary for that Service.' Hereupon Mr Shippen said, 'That it was a great Misfortune, that so wise and so excellent a Prince as his Majesty, was as little acquainted with the Usage and Forms of Parliamentary Proceedings, as with the Language of our Country: That if he had known either, he would not have sent such a Message, which, he was sure, was unparliamentary and unprecedented; and therefore 'twas his Opinion, That it was penn'd by some Foreign Minister, and then translated into English: That since the King's Accession to the Throne, there had been many Reflections cast, in that House, upon the late Ministry, as if they had betray'd the Interest of their Country: That, on the contrary, they had often been told, that his Majesty had retriev'd the Honour and Reputation of the Nation; the Effects of which had already appear'd in the flourishing Condition of our Trade: That after all this, he could not but be very much surpriz'd to find a Motion made for a Supply of Money, to enable his Majesty to enter into new Measures, to secure his Kingdom against any future Apprehensions from the Swedes: That the Necessity that was urg'd for this, seem'd to be inconsistent with the Accounts of those glorious Advantages his Majesty had obtain'd for us: And he could not help being of Opinion, That if the new Alliances and Measures to be concerted, were such as were to be obtain'd purely by the Force of our Money, that ever the Happiness or the Security of the Nation could be the Consequence of such Counsels; for, whenever Foreigners come to taste the Sweetness of English Money, we might depend upon it, that their Adherence to our Interest would last no longer than we continu'd to supply their Necessities.' Mr Hungerford, who seconded Mr Shippen, said, 'That for his Part, he could not understand what Occasion there was for new Alliances, much less that they should be purchas'd with Money: That it must needs be very surprizing to the whole World, that a Nation, not long ago the Terror of France and Spain, should now seem to fear so inconsiderable an Enemy as the King of Sweden; especially when we had so good a Fleet at Sea, and so great an Army on Land.' Some other Speeches were made on the same Side, which gave Gen. Stanhope Occasion to say, 'That he was sorry to find Gentlemen grow so warm upon a Subject of this Nature: That the King was a Prince of that Integrity and Honour, and had already given such convincing Proofs of his tender Care for the true Interest of the Nation, that they might entirely depend upon his Wisdom in this Matter; and therefore he was of Opinion, that none would refuse Compliance with this Message, but such as either were not the King's Friends, or who distrusted the Honesty of his Ministers.' This gave Offence to several Members; and Mr Lawson, Knight of the Shire for Cumberland, reply'd thereupon, 'That he was very much surpriz'd to find such unguarded Expressions fall from that worthy and honourable Gentleman, for whom, he was sure, the whole House had a very great Regard; but since he had thought fit to speak so openly, he hop'd he might be well justify'd in saying, That if every Member of this House, that us'd Freedom of Speech on any Subject of Debate, must be accounted an Enemy to the King, when he happens not to fall in with his Ministers, he knew no Service they were capable of doing for their Country in that House; and therefore it was his Opinion, That they had nothing else to do, but to retire to their Country-Seats, and leave the King and his Ministers to take what they pleas'd.' Mr Boscawen, Sir Gilbert Heathcote, Mr (fn. 5) Horatio Walpole, and some other Gentlemen, back'd Gen. Stanhope's Motion; but Mr Grimstone, and some other Courtiers, spoke on this Occasion on the contrary Side. However, it was mov'd, and resolv'd, That the House would, upon the Monday Morning next, resolve it self into a Committee of the whole House, to consider of Gen. Stanhope's Motion for a Supply. After this it was also resolv'd, To address his Majesty, that the Treaty made between the late King William and the present King of Sweden, be laid before the House.
April 6. Pursuant to the above Address, Gen. Stanhope laid before the House a Copy of the said Treaty.
April 8. The Commons went into a Committee of the whole House, to consider of the Motion of the 4th Instant, for a Supply to be granted to his Majesty, against the Designs of Sweden for the future; for the Necessity of which, General Stanhope alledg'd several Reasons, and was seconded by Mr Craggs, Jun. Mr Boscawen, Mr Aislabie, and several others. On the other Side, Mr Shippen, Mr Hungerford, Mr Hutcheson, the Lord Guernsey, Mr Herne, Member for Dartmouth, Mr Ward, and some others, urg'd, 'That it was unparliamentary to grant a Supply before the Occasion was known, and an Estimate of the Expence was laid before the House: That the King's Message about this Matter, was so unprecedented, that his Majesty's Ministers seem'd to be divided about it; and that twas a great Mis fortune such Divisions should happen among the Ministry, for then a Parliament cannot have a true Information of Things: That they could not easily apprehend what Occasion there was to make new Alliances, since we had a standing Army in Great Britain, and a considerable Fleet at Sea, which sufficiently secur'd his Majesty's Kingdoms against any Danger from Sweden: That if we design'd to make an offensive War against that Crown, why did we not send Part of our Forces on Board our Fleet? Especially, since we were now secure at Home, both by the Suppression of the late Rebellion, and by the Conclusion of the Triple Alliance, which the Regent of France had begun faithfully to perform, by causing the Pretender to pass the Alps. However, if the Court insisted on the Necessity of entering into new Engagements against Sweden, they thought it proper to address his Majesty, to acquaint the House with the Nature of those Engagements, and the Sum that was requisite to make them good.' To this, General Stanhope answer'd, 'That the Discovery of the late Conspiracy, carry'd on by the Swedish Ministers, in Conjunction with the discontented Party at Home, sufficiently evinc'd the Necessity of a standing Army in Great Britain: That the Treaty of Triple Alliance seem'd, indeed, to secure us against any Danger on the Part of France; but that it was to be observ'd, that the said Treaty had met with so great Opposition at the French Court, that had not the Regent stickled strenuously for it, it would have infallibly miscarry'd; and tho' hitherto we had all the Reason imaginable to commend the Honesty and Candour of that Prince; yet, in good Policy, we ought not to depend on that Treaty any longer than it shall be the Interest of France to observe it. And as to the Motion for the Address, He added, That it would be injurious to the King's Prerogative of entering into such Alliances as his Majesty thinks necessary for the Good and Security of his Dominions, without communicating the same to his Parliament: Which Prerogative was grounded on very good Reasons; for if the Crown was oblig'd to impart the Secret of Affairs to so great a Number of Persons, the most important Negotiations must thereby miscarry.' Sir Gilbert Heathcote, an Alderman of London, mention'd the great Losses and Damages which the British Subjects had sustain'd by their Ships being made Prizes, and confiscated in Sweden; and observ'd, That the King of Sweden having several Times refused to make Satisfaction; and, on the Contrary, his Ministers having endeavour'd to raise a new Rebellion in his Majesty's Dominions, there was Ground to declare War against him.' To this, Mr Gould, Member for Shoreham, reply'd, 'That the Dutch having sustain'd as great Losses by the Swedes, they had an equal Concern with Great Britain to declare War against them; and therefore it would be proper, before the House proceeded farther, to engage Holland, in the first Place, to prohibit all Commerce with Sweden, as we had done.' Hereupon General Stanhope said, 'That he made no doubt, but the States-General would readily come into any Measures that should appear necessary for the Good and Interest of both Nations in general, and to obtain Satisfaction for the late Depredations of the Swedes in particular: That their High-Mightinesses had lately given signal Instances of their firm Adherence to the Crown of Great Britain, in causing the Swedish Ministers to be seiz'd in their Dominions, upon his Majesty's Desire; but that the Form and Constitution of their Government, and the Good of their Subjects, who mostly subsist by Trade, did not permit them to take such vigorous and speedy Resolutions as could be wish'd; and therefore it would not be fair to exact the same from them.' Mr Craggs, press'd the Necessity of making new Alliances against Sweden, from the late doubtful Conduct of a Northern Potentate, [meaning the Czar of Muscovy] who, by his Inactivity against Sweden, and the Post some of his Troops had taken, gave great Umbrage to the Empire. Mr R. Walpole, Sir Edward Northey (fn. 6), and Lord Molesworth, spoke also on the same Side; Sir William Thompson (fn. 7) in particular, urg'd, 'What would the World think of this Parliament, if they should refuse to supply the King at this Exigency? On the other Hand, Mr Compton (the Speaker) and Mr Smith (fn. 8), said, 'That they were not against the Supply, but against the demanding and granting of it in such an unparliamentary Manner; and Mr Speaker propos'd, That Part of the Army should be disbanded, and the Money, thereby sav'd, apply'd towards the making good such new Engagements as were thought necessary to be enter'd into; but Lieutenant General Mordaunt, and some others, urg'd how unsafe and impolitick it would be at this Juncture to disband any of the Troops. Mr George Caswall said, 'That for his own Part, he had rather pay others for fighting than fight himself: That he thought it more advantageous for Great Britain to carry the War abroad, and enjoy Peace at Home, in order to improve our Trade, and reduce our publick Debts; and that, as the employing Foreigners against Sweden, would be a far less Expence than national Troops, he therefore was for complying with his Majesty's Message. At last, about five in the Afternoon, the Question being put, upon the Motion for a Supply, the same was carry'd in the Affirmative, by 164 against 149.
The Motion for a Supply against Sweden, agreed to.
April 9. Mr Farrer reported the said Resolution to the House, upon which there arose a fresh, but short Debate: Mr Shippen, Mr Hungerford, Mr Hutcheson, Mr Smith, Mr Herne, and others, insisted again on the Unparliamentariness of asking and granting Supplies without an Estimate of the Expence; and propos'd, either to present an Address to the King, to assure him, That the House would effectually make good all the Engagements his Majesty should think proper to enter into; or that his Majesty be desir'd to disband Part of the Army, and apply the Savings towards the new Alliances. Both these Expedients were oppos'd by General Stanhope, Mr R. Walpole, Mr Hor. Walpole, Mr (fn. 9) Bailie, and Mr Hampden; the last of whom in particular, in Answer to what was suggested, That this Manner of asking and granting Supplies, was unparliamentary and unprecedented, said, 'That he remember'd about ten or eleven Years before, a Great Man in that House [meaning Mr. Compton the Speaker] made a Motion for allowing and providing for about 900,000£. which the Government had expended, without laying any Estimate before the Commons. To this, Mr. Speaker said, 'He wonder'd that Gentleman would bring in as a Precedent, a Business that was transacted so many Years ago, and which was not parallel to the present Case.' Whereupon Mr. Hampden reply'd, 'That he did not thereby intend to reflect upon Mr. Speaker, since he had the Honour to vote with him upon that Occasion.' After this the Resolution for granting a Supply to his Majesty, to concert such Measures with Foreign Princes and States, as may prevent any Charge or Apprehensions from the Designs of Sweden for the future, was agreed to, though by a Majority only of 153 against 149.
This Point being so hard run, was generally suppos'd to be owing to a Party in the House, which were said to be under the Influence of the Lord Townshend; Hereupon that very Evening his Majesty order'd his Lordship to be remov'd from the Post of Lord Lieutenant of Ireland; and the next Morning Mr. Robert Walpole, Mr. Methuen and Mr. Will. Pulteney resign'd their Places.
Mr R. Walpole, presents a Bill for redeeming the Duties on Houses, &c. And acquaints the House with his having resign'd his Places.
April 10. Mr. Robert Walpole presented to the House, according to Order, A Bill for redeeming the Duties on Houses, &c. Upon the bringing in of this Bill, Mr. Walpole gave the House a Hint of his having resign'd his Places, by saying, That he now presented that Bill as a Country Gentleman; but he hop'd it would not fare the worse for having two Fathers; and that his Successor would take care to bring it to Perfection.'
Gen. Stanhope moves for 250,000£. to be granted to the King against Sweden.; Debate thereon.
April 12. The Commons went into a Committee of the whole House, to consider of the Supply granted to his Majesty; and Gen. Stanhope (fn. 10) having made a Motion for granting to his Majesty the Sum of 250,000 £. to enable him to concert Measures against Sweden; there was for a Minute or two a great Silence in the House. Mr Pulteney, who broke it first, express'd his Surprize at it; and added, 'That as for his Part, he had not yet said any Thing to this Matter, because he thought it inconsistent with Decency to oppose a Motion that came from the Court, while he had the Honour to be his Majesty's immediate Servant; but that having resign'd his Place, that he might act with the Freedom becoming an Englishman, he could not forbear declaring against the granting a Supply, in a Manner altogether unparliamentary and unprecedented: That he could not persuade himself, that any Englishman advis'd his Majesty to send such a Message; but he doubted not, but the Resolutions of a British Parliament would make a German Ministry tremble.' He was seconded by the Lord Finch, who even found Fault with some Steps that had been taken in Relation to the Affairs of the Northern Alliance; and said, 'That it appear'd by the Memorial presented by the Russian Minister, and by the Answer return'd, that such Measures had been pursu'd as were like to engage us in a Quarrel with the Czar.' Upon this Gen. Stanhope spoke in Vindication of the King and his Ministers, in Relation both to the Czar and the King of Sweden. With Respect to the first, He said, 'That he had hithereto been obliged to be silent; but that he was now at Liberty to set this Matter in a clear Light, and to acquaint the House, That the Coldness which appear'd of late between the King and the Czar, proceeded from his Majesty's refusing to become Guarantee of his Czarish Majesty's Conquests; and from his Majesty's soliciting the Czar to withdraw his Troops from the Dutchy of Mecklemburg: That as to the first of those Matters, his Majesty's Conduct deserv'd the Applause and the Thanks of a British Parliament, since it appear'd thereby, that his Majesty was tender not to engage the Nation in Foreign Quarrels: That this, indeed, had been his Majesty's principal Care, since his happy Accession to the Throne; and he might assure them, that Great Britain was entirely free from any Engagements, and at Liberty to follow such Measures as best suit with her Interest: That as for the Instances which his Majesty has caus'd to be made with the Czar, and the Measures he may have concerted, to get the Russian Troops out of the Dutchy of Mecklemburg, his Majesty has acted in all this as Elector and Prince of the Empire: That he was perswaded, all the Gentlemen there would agree with him, that the King's Dignity, as King of Great Britain, was never understood to tie up his Hands with respect to his Interests in Germany, and a Prince of the Empire: But besides, he must desire Gentlemen to consider, That long before his Majesty's Accession to the Crown, Great Britain was in strict Union with the Emperor and Empire; so that if, by Virtue of ancient Alliances, the Emperor should require Great Britain to use those Instances with the Czar, which the King has made only as Elector of Hanover, Great Britain could not avoid complying with his Request: That in Relation to Sweden, the King's Conduct was not only blameless and unspotted, but worthy of the highest Commendations: That in the late Queen's Time, Great Britain interpos'd to procure a Neutrality in the North, whereby the King of Sweden might have preserv'd his Possessions in the Empire: That the Regency at Stockholm agreed to this Overture; but that the King of Sweden rejected it with Haughtiness and the utmost Scorn, declaring, he would use those as his Enemies, who should pretend to impose such a Neutrality upon him: That during the whole Course of that Negotiation, the King, then Elector of Hanover, used all friendly Offices in Favour of Sweden: That all this having prov'd ineffectual, through the King of Sweden's Obstinacy, and the King of Denmark having, by the Fortune of War, re-conquer'd the Dutchies of Bremen and Verden, his Majesty, as Elector of Hanover, has purchas'd the same with his own Money, for a valuable Consideration: That although it never was in his Majesty's Thoughts to engage Great Britain in a War to support that Acquisition, yet, if Gentlemen would give themselves the Trouble to cast their Eyes upon the Map, to see where Bremen and Verden lie, he hop'd they would not be indifferent as to the Possessor of those two Dutchies, but would agree with him, that their being in the King's Hands suits far better with the Interest of Great Britain, than if they were in the Hands either of the Czar, who gives already but too much Jealousy to the Empire; or of the King of Sweden, who endeavour'd to raise a new Rebellion in Great Britain, and harbours our fugitive Rebels.'
Mr John Smith.
Mr John Smith answer'd Gen. Stanhope, and said, 'That he had already declar'd his Reasons for opposing the granting this Supply in such an extraordinary Manner; and that some Expressions that had escap'd a Gentleman in the Ministry, instead of making him alter his Opinion, rather confirm'd him in it: That as, on the one Hand, he never affected Popularity; so, on the other Hand, when the Good of his Country came under Consideration, he always spoke his Thoughts with the Liberty that becomes an Englishman, without any Regard to the Ministers: That he did not pretend to be thoroughly acquainted with Affairs abroad; but having had the Honour to sit so long in that House, where so great a Variety of Business, both foreign and domestick, had often been debated, he might presume to have some Knowledge of them: That, however he would not say any Thing to what had been advanced by the honourable Member who spoke last; but if an Estimate of the Conduct of the Ministry, in relation to Affairs Abroad, was to be made by a Comparison of their Conduct at Home, he was sure they would not appear altogether so faultless as they were represented. Was it not a Mistake, added he, not to preserve the Peace at Home, after the King was come to the Throne, with the universal Applause and joyful Acclamations of all his Subjects? Was it not a Mistake, upon the breaking out of the Rebellion, not to issue out a Proclamation, to offer Pardon to such as should return Home peaceably, as had ever been practis'd before upon such Occasions? Was it not a Mistake, after the Suppression of the Rebellion, and the Trial and Execution of the principal Authors of it, to keep up Animosities, and drive People to Despair by not passing an Act of Indemnity and Grace, by keeping so many Persons under hard and tedious Confinement, and by granting Pardons to some, without leaving them any Means to subsist? Is it not a Mistake, not to trust to a Vote of Parliament, for making good such Engagements as his Majesty shall think proper to enter into; and instead of that, to insist on the granting of this Supply in such an extraordinary Manner? Is it not a Mistake, to take this Opportunity to create Divisions, and render some of the King's best Friends suspected and obnoxious? Is it not a Mistake, in short, to form Parties and Cabals, in order to bring in a Bill to repeal the Act against Occasional Conformity?'
To this Speech General Stanhope reply'd, 'That he had had the Honour to serve his Majesty, since his happy Accession to the Throne, but as there were other Persons, some of them in, and others out of Place, who had a greater Share than himself in the Administration of Affairs, he left it to them to justify themselves: That however, he would clear a principal Point; by assuring the Committee, that he had, some time ago, the King's Orders to draw up an Act of Indemnity.'
Mr Barrington Shute.
Mr Barrington Shute, Member for Berwick, said, 'That the King was, indeed, come to the Throne with the joyful Acclamations of most of his Subjects; but that the Disaffection that appear'd soon after, did not proceed from the ill Conduct of his Ministers, but solely from the Removal of some Persons in great Employments: That nevertheless, in the Changes that were then made, his Majesty had follow'd the Rules of Prudence, Justice, and Gratitude, since he advanc'd those, who, in the worst of Times, had given undoubted Proofs of their Affection and Attachment to his Interest, in the Room of those who had been preferr'd in the last Reign, as the fittest Instruments to destroy the Protestant Succession, even before it took Place, and who had since been in open Rebellion against his Majesty: That as for the other Mistakes charg'd upon the Administration, they might be reduc'd to these two, viz. The not passing the Act of Indemnity, and the Design to repeal the Occasional Bill: That as to the first, there were various Opinions about it; and considering the restless Spirit of the discontented Party, it was hard to determine, whether an Indemnity was a proper Way to reduce them; since it was notorious, that the repeated Instances of Clemency which his Majesty has given since his Accession, have been abus'd and despis'd: That as to the Repeal of the Acts against the Dissenters, nothing, in his Opinion, was either more just or reasonable; and he could not but wonder, that a Gentleman [meaning Mr John Smith] who had been turn'd out of his Employment in the last Reign, and restor'd since the King's coming to the Crown, should account it a Mistake, on the one Hand, not to grant an Indemnity to his Majesty's declar'd Enemies; and a Mistake, on the other Hand, to make his Majesty's undoubted Friends easy.'
Mr Smith, after an Explanation demanded and given, about his being turn'd out of Place and restor'd, reply'd to the last Part of Mr Shute's Speech, 'That he ever was for allowing Liberty of Conscience to the Dissenters, and had even voted against the Occasional Bill; but that the same being pass'd into a Law, it was his Opinion, that it could not be repeal'd without disquieting the whole Nation.'
Mr Yonge. ; Mr Gould.; Mr R. Walpole.
Mr Yonge, * Member for Honiton, spoke next, and said 'That some Days before, he had been against the Motion, for granting a Supply upon the King's Message, because he thought it unparliamentary; and it was then his Opinion to address the King to enter into such Engagements as his Majesty shall think proper, and that the Commons would make good the same; but that, since the Majority of the House had determin'd to grant a Supply, they had brought themselves to this Dilemma, either to grant what was ask'd as necessary for the Service, or to tell the King, that that Service must remain unperform'd, which they had in a Manner determin'd to be necessary, by granting a Supply.' This Speech was back'd by Mr Gould, who own'd, 'That we could not carry on our Trade to the Baltick, without bringing the King of Sweden to Reason, and therefore he was for granting this Supply.' Mr Robert Walpole, who brought up the Rear, said, 'That having already spoken for the Supply, he would not refuse the Court his Vote, and the Sum being nam'd, he was for granting it. Hereupon, it was carry'd without dividing, that a Sum not exceeding 250,000£. be granted, to enable his Majesty to concert such Measures with Foreign Princes and States, as may prevent any Charge or Apprehensions from the Designs of Sweden for the future.
The House vote 250,000£. to the King, against Sweden.
April 13. Mr Farrer having reported this Resolution to the House, some of the Members endeavour'd to render it ineffectual, by moving that it should be re-committed. To debate this Motion with more Freedom, Mr Bromley, taking Notice that several Peers, and others, were got into the House, mov'd, that the House be clear'd of all Strangers; which being done accordingly, Mr Shippen insisted on the recommitting of the Resolution in Question. He was seconded by Mr Hungerford, Sir Thomas Hanmer, Mr Herne, and Mr Lawson: But the other Party call'd for the Question; and the said Resolution being read a second Time, was agreed to by a Majority of 153 against 132.
April 16. Mr Boscawen * having acquainted the House with his Majesty's Desire, that they would adjourn 'till the 6th of May, the House accordingly adjourn'd to that Day.
May 6. The King went to the House of Lords, and the Commons attending, his Majesty commanded the Lord Chancellor to read the following Speech to both Houses:
My Lords and Gentlemen,
IT is with great Satisfaction that, after this short Recess, I can acquaint you with the certain Advice I have receiv'd, that my Fleet is safely arriv'd in the Sound, which, by the Blessing of Almighty God, will secure these Kingdoms against any immediate Danger of an Invasion.
"I have, by these Means, an Opportunity, which is very acceptable to me, of making a considerable Reduction in our Land-Forces, having establish'd it as a Rule with my self, to consult the Ease of my People in every Thing, so far as is consistent with their Safety. And, for my own Part, as I shall always place my Greatness in the Prosperity of my Subjects, so I shall always desire that my Power may be founded in their Affections.
"It is upon these Considerations, that I have given Orders for the immediate reducing of ten thousand Men.
"That nothing may be wanting in me to quiet the Minds of all my Subjects, I have likewise given Directions to prepare an Act of Grace; and however it may be receiv'd by those who are obstinately bent on the Ruin of their Country, I promise my self, that it will raise a due Sense of Gratitude in all such as have been artfully misled into treasonable Practices, against my Person and Government, and preserve them from standing in need of the like Mercy for the future, when such an Instance of Clemency may not be so expedient for the publick Welfare, as it would be agreeable to my own Inclinations.
Gentlemen of the House of Commons,
"I thank you for your Readiness to support me in the present Juncture of Affairs, and for the Supplies which you have given; and do promise you, that they shall be employ'd for the Uses to which you design'd them.
"I shall order such faithful Accounts to be laid before you the next Session, as will make it appear, there was no other View in asking any particular Supply, than to prevent a much greater Expence, which the Nation must have unavoidably incurr'd without it.
"I must recommend to you, as I did at the Beginning of the Session, to take all proper Methods for reducing the publick Debts, with a just Regard to Parliamentary Credit.
My Lords and Gentlemen,
"The Year being so far advanc'd, I hope you will go through the publick Business with all possible Dispatch and Unanimity, it being my Intention to meet you early the next Winter, that the Sitting of Parliament may be brought into the more usual and convenient Season."
Mr Lechmere moves for an Address, and reflects on Mr R. Walpole and others for resigning their Places. Mr Walpole vindicates himself there on.
The Commons being return'd to their House, Mr Lechmere mov'd for an Address to his Majesty, which not being oppos'd, a Committee was appointed to draw one up. Mr Lechmere, in his Speech for this Address, animadverted upon such of the Members as had lately resign'd their Places, as if they intended to distress the King's Affairs; upon which Mr Walpole thought fit, in his own Vindication, to say, 'That Persons who had accepted Places in the Government, had often been reflected on for carrying on Designs, and acting contrary to the Interest of their Country; but that he had never heard a Man found fault with, for laying down one of the most prositable Places in the Kingdom: That, for his own part, if he would have comply'd with some Measures, it had not been in the Power of any of the present Ministers to remove him; but that he had Reasons for resigning his Employments, with which he had acquainted his Majesty, and might perhaps, in a proper Time, declare them to the House. In the mean while the Tenour of his Conduct should shew, that he never intended to make the King uneasy, or to embarrass his Affairs: And concluded with moving, That the Bill, For redeeming the Duty on Houses, &c. might be read a second Time.' Upon this General Stanhope represented, 'That several Things in that Bill wanted to be amended and rectify'd, and therefore he mov'd, that the second Reading of it might be put off to the next Day Se'nnight; ' which was order'd accordingly. General Stanhope likewise made use of that Opportunity to take Notice to the House, 'That he understood it had been the common Practice of those concern'd in the Administration of the Treasury, to make Bargains for the Publick with the Governors and Directors of Companies, by which some private Advantages were generally made: But that, in his Opinion, such Bargains ought to be made at the Bar of the House, by the Representatives of all the Commons of Great Britain; and if any Advantages could be made, the Publick ought to have the Benefit of them.'
May 7. Mr Lechmere reported the Address to his Majesty, which is as follows:
The Commons Address.
Most Gracious Sovereign,
"WE your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal Subjects, the Commons of Great Britain in Parliament assembled, crave Leave to approach your sacred Person, with Hearts full of Gratitude to your Majesty for the many gracious Declarations you have been pleas'd to make to us from the Throne.
'Our Duty to your Majesty, and our Concern for the Security of your Kingdoms, at a Time when the Nation was threaten'd with a desperate Invasion, oblig'd us to make Provision for keeping up such a Body of LandForces, as might shew that we were in a Posture of Defence: But your Majesty having Grounds to hope, on the Arrival of your Fleet in the Sound, that, by the Blessing of God, a Check will be put to that Design, we must for ever acknowledge, that the early Directions you have been pleas'd to give for reducing such a Body of those Land-Forces, is the most acceptable Pledge you could give your People of your Tenderness for them; and that your Majesty has nothing so much at Heart as their present and future Welfare, and is such an Instance of your great Wisdom and Goodness, as must for ever endear your Majesty to all your Subjects.
'We are bound to express our just Satisfaction in your gracious Intentions of Mercy, as being highly conducive to the Tranquility of the Kingdom, and a convincing Proof of your Majesty's Desire to reign in the Affections of all your Subjects.
'We have so often experienc'd the happy Effects of the Confidence we have repos'd in your Majesty, that we can never entertain any Doubt of the due Application of any Supplies granted by us; and do receive, in the most dutiful and affectionate Manner, your Majesty's Promise to lay the Accounts of such Application before us, as a great Instance of your Justice to the Nation.
'We are truly sensible how much the Ease and Prosperity of your Subjects depends on the accomplishing that great and necessary Work, of reducing the publick Debts, and are resolv'd to carry it on in the most effectual Manner, with just Regard to Parliamentary Credit.
'We are likewise resolv'd, by the Dispatch and Unanimity of our Proceedings, to convince the World, that we are inviolably engag'd in Duty and Affection to your most sacred Person and Government, on the Support of which the Welfare and Happiness of these Kingdoms, under God, entirely depend.'
Mr Shippen moves for recommitting the Address. ; Debate thereon.;
After the reading the above Address, Mr Shippen mov'd to have it recommitted; and that an Amendment might be made to that Part of it which relates to the Army, which he propos'd to be as follows, viz. 'That nothing could more endear his Majesty to all his Subjects, than the reducing the Land-Forces to the old Establishment of Guards and Garrisons, such as his Majesty found it at his Accession to the Crown.' To support his Motion, he represented the Danger of a standing Army; urging, 'That in Cromwel's Time, a Force much less than what will remain in Great Britain after the Reduction propos'd, had overturn'd the Monarchy, abolish'd Episcopacy, put down the House of Peers, and driven the Commons from their Seats. He was seconded by Mr Bromley, and back'd by Mr Herne and General Ross; but they were oppos'd by General Stanhope, Mr Robert Walpole, and also by Mr Pulteney; who declar'd, 'That before the Discovery of the late Swedish Conspiracy, while he had the Honour to serve his Majesty as Secretary at War, he had receiv'd such Directions as shew'd his Majesty's Intentions, at that Time, to reduce still a greater Number of Forces, than was now propos'd; and therefore he did not doubt but his Majesty would do it as soon as the Safety of his Kingdoms would admit of it.' He added, 'That, in his Opinion, the Nation had no Reason to fear any Thing from an Army, who, for near thirty Years past, had given signal Proofs of their firm Adherence to the Protestant Interest, and of their Zeal to maintain the Liberties of their Country; and that if there was any Danger at present, it was only from Foreign Counsels.' At length the Question being put upon Mr Shippen's Motion, it was carry'd in the Negative by a Majority of 188 against 83.
Mr W. Pulteney complains of the Imbezlement of the Publick Money in relation to 6000 Dutch Troops, &c.
May 8. Mr Pulteney acquainted the House, 'That he was apprehensive of some Mismanagements, and Imbezlements of the publick Money, in relation to the 6000 Dutch Troops, and the Service in North Britain:' Upon this it was resolv'd to present two Addresses to his Majesty;' One for an Account of the Money given for the Payment of the 6000 Dutch Troops taken into his Majesty's Service during the late Rebellion, with the Charge of the Transportation of the said Troops forwards and backwards, distinguishing each Particular under its respective Head; the Other for an Account of the Distribution of the Extraordinaries and Contingencies issued out for the Service performed in North Britain during the late Rebellion.
May 9. The House presented their Address of Thanks to the King for his Speech, who returned the following Answer:
The King's Answer to the Address of Thanks.
"IT is with great Pleasure that I find the Directions I have given to make a Reduction in the Army, and my Intentions to grant an Act of Grace, are so much to the Satisfaction of my faithful Commons.
"I thank you for the hearty Assurances you give me of your Affections to my Person and Government; and shall always make such an Use of the Considence you repose in me, as may be most for the Advantage of my People.
Sir W. Wyndham moves for Dr Snape to preach before the House on the 29th of May.; Debate thereon.
May 12. A warm Debate arose on a very odd Occasion. Sir William Wyńdham having mov'd, 'That Dr Snape be desir'd to preach before the House at St Margaret's, Westminster, upon the 29th of May;' he was seconded by Mr Shippen, and back'd by all the Members who had lately resign'd their Employments. Mr Horatio Walpole, who spoke first after Mr Shippen, said, 'That it was unusual, on such Occasions, to put the Negative on any Man, whom a Member of that House had thought fit to name; and that Dr Snape was not only a Person of Merit and great Learning, but had likewise the Honour to be one of his Majesty's Chaplains.' Mr Robert Walpole said, 'That he knew Dr Snape to be a very learned, and a very honest Man: That he had not only entrusted him with the Education of his own Children, but also recommended the Sons of the Duke of Devonshire and Lord Townshend to his Care; and therefore he could not but think, that he might be trusted with preaching a Sermon before that Assembly.' Mr Lechmere oppos'd them, and said, 'That he could not but wonder, that a Member who had been one of the Managers against Dr Sacheverel, should now speak in Behalf of a Divine who had asserted the same Notions of Passive Obedience and NonResistance, for which the other had been prosecuted; and who had lately attack'd a strenuous and worthy Champion of the Revolution and Protestant Succession.' Mr Aislabie answer'd, 'That he gave his Vote to Dr Snape, because he look'd upon him as a learned and honest Man: And as for having written against the Bishop of Bangor's [Dr Hoadley] Sermon, he did not think it a sufficient Reason to put upon him a Negative, which would be prejudging of a Controversy that did not properly belong to their Cognizance.' The Lord Guernsey also spoke in Behalf of Dr Snape; and Mr Hungerford said, 'That if the Court had not interpos'd the Doctor might have shewn the Bishop fine Sport; but that the King having order'd his Ministers to disband Part of the Army, they had, by Mistake, disbanded the Convocation.' Sir William Wyndham's Motion being thus strongly supported, and Mr Lechmere being back'd only by Sir Joseph Jekyll, Mr Boscawen, Mr Treby, and a few more, the Question was put, and carry'd in the Affirmative, by 141 Voices against 131; and Sir William Wyndham and Mr Shippen were ordered to acquaint Dr Snape with the Desire of the House.
An Address resolv'd on relating to the Transportation of the 6000 Dutch Troops.
May 15. It was resolv'd to address his Majesty to give Directions to the Commissioner of Transports to lay before this House all such Directions as he has receiv'd or given, and such Letters and Papers as are in his Hands relating to the Transportation of the Dutch Troops, and all Accounts and Demands relating thereto.
Mr Hungerford's Motion for a Bill for Stating the publick Accounts.
May 18. After the dispatching of private Business, Mr. Hungerford mov'd, That Leave be given to bring in a Bill for examining, taking, and stating the publick Accounts of the Kingdom. He was seconded by Mr. Horatio Walpole; but the Question being put, it pass'd in the Negative.
Gen. Stanhope lays before the House the Proposals of the S. S. Company and the Bank.
May 20. The Commons having resolv'd themselves into a Committee of the whole House, to consider farther of Ways and Means for raising the Supply granted to his Majesty, Gen. Stanhope laid before them the respective Proposals of the South-Sea Company, and of the Bank of England, which were read, and which the Reader will find in the VOTES of this Session.
After the Reading of these Proposals, Mr. Robert Walpole rais'd Objections against them, particularly against that of the South-Sea Company. He was seconded by Mr. Hutcheson, who endeavour'd to shew, 'That the Nation would scarce gain this Year 100,000£ by that Bargain; and therefore he was for putting off this Affair 'till the next Session, to give the Communities Time to make more reasonable Proposals.' He was answer'd by Mr. (fn. 11) Lowndes, Member for St. Maw's, who said, 'He had much ado to find out the Meaning of the Member who spoke last; that in the same Speech he had advanc'd, That the Nation would gain nothing this Year, and then own'd that the Nation would gain 100,000£. That supposing the Gain to be no more than the last mention'd Sum, yet the Proposal of the South-Sea Company was not to be rejected, since it would enable the Nation to begin to reduce the publick Debts. That in case the Proposals of the Communities were not thought reasonable, nothing, in his Opinion, could be more effectual to bring the Communities to Reason, than a Vote of that House; and therefore the Commons needed but declare their Intentions, and he did not doubt but the Communities would comply therewith.' After Mr. Hutcheson had reply'd something by Way of Explanation, Mr. Hungerford said, 'That for his own Part, he ever was of Opinion, that the Parliamentary Faith ought to be preserv'd untouch'd and inviolable; that by keeping up the National Credit, England was glutted with Money, and was become the general Bank of Europe, while most of the neighbouring States were reduc'd to Streights, and wanted Specie. That France had lost her Credit, or rather never had any; and if there was any Money in that Kingdom, 'twas in the Hands of the Regent; for what Purpose he could not tell. That though the Parliamentary Faith ought to remain inviolate, yet he did not doubt, but the Wisdom of the Representatives of the Nation could find legal Ways to reduce the Interest of publick Securities, since the Parliamentary Faith consisted only in the securing the Payment of the Capital Sums advanc'd by private Persons for the Use of the Publick. That he did not understand why the Publick should pay a higher Interest than a private Man. That he knew by Experience, and in the Course of his Business, that Money may be had at 4£. per Cent. on good Securities; that there was on the Floor a Member of the House who had lent him 20,000£. at that Rate; and therefore it was to be hop'd, that the Communities duly weighing all this, would offer to the House more reasonable Proposals.' Mr. John Smith back'd Mr. Hunger ford, and said, 'That one would have expected, that the Communities and money'd Men, who, to make themselves popular, boast of their Zeal for the present Government, should, on this Occasion, have given convincing Prooss of it, by contributing more than they offer'd to do, towards reducing the publick Debts, and easing the landed Men, who for so many Years have born the greatest Part of the National Burdens. That, in his Opinion, it was of dangerous Consequence to borrow Money of the Communities upon the Foot of their Proposals, since by the granting them a Term of Years, the Parliament debarr'd themselves of the Liberty of taxing publick Funds, which they had a Right to do, in case of extreme Necessity, without violating the Parliamentary Faith. That, for his own Part, he thought the Communities ought to be satisfy'd with one Year's Notice; but the Season being so far advanc'd, that there could not be above five Months before the next Session, he was for putting off this Business 'till then; and, in the mean Time, the Communities might maturely consider of it.' Upon this, Mr. (fn. 12) Hopkins, Member for Ilchester, replied, 'That he had as great a Regard to the landed, as to the money'd Interest; not only because he had, God be thank'd, some Land of his own, but also because he was satisfy'd that the landed and money'd Interests are entirely the same, since the Value of Land rises or falls in Proportion to the Plenty or Scarcity of Money. That in the Course of Business, it is usual for those who borrow, to propose some Advantage to the Lenders; but that on this Occasion, the Communities were so far from getting any Thing by advancing Money to the Government, that, on the contrary, they sacrific'd their own Interest to that of the Publick. That if the Thing was rightly consider'd, it would be found, that the Persons concern'd in the South-Sea Stock, by contenting themselves with an Interest of 5£. per Cent. instead of six, to which they are intituled by an Act of Parliament, did, in Reality, lose 20£. in every 120£. so that the Company, by accepting the same Annuity for twelve Millions which they had before for ten, did in Effect present the Government with two Millions, which being apply'd to the paying off the Lotteries and other redeemable Funds, great Advantages might thereby accrue to the Publick. That he could not forbear taking Notice of what had been suggested by some People without, That the Interest of the publick Funds might be reduc'd at once by an Act of Parliament; but that he hop'd no such Thing was ever intend ed by any that sat in that House; for, in his Opinion, it could not be done without violating the Parliamentary Faith, and giving a dangerous Wound to publick Credit.' This Speech was answer'd by Mr. Aislabie, who took Notice, 'That of late Years the Companies of money'd Men were grown so proud as not only to treat familiarly with the Parliament, but even to pretend to dictate to them; that therefore it was high Time to give them a Check, and let them know, that the landed Men, and their Representatives, were Masters of the main Spring and Stock of the Wealth and Strength of the Kingdom: And, concluded, for putting off this Business 'till the next Session.' Hereupon Colonel (fn. 13) Bladen, Member for Stockbridge, shew'd, how dangerous it was to delay an Affair of so great Importance; and he was back'd by Sir Fisher Tench, Member for Southwark. On the other Hand, Mr Pulteney said,' He did not know what private Advantage some Persons might have in accepting the Proposal of the South-Sea Company; but that, in his Opinion, no Term of Years ought to be granted, or, at most, not above three Years.' General Stanhope, being sensible that the Opposition made against the Proposals of the Communities, and the Reflection of private Advantage, were chiefly level'd against him, thought fit to vindicate himself: 'He ingenuously own'd his Incapacity for the Affairs of the Treasury, which were so remote from his Studies and Inclination, that therefore he would fain have kept the Employment he had before, which was both more easy, and more profitable to him; but that he thought it his Duty to obey the King's Commands. That, however, he would endeavour to make up, by Application, Honesty, and Disinterestedness, what he wanted in Abilities and Experience. That he would content himself with the Salary and lawful Perquisites of his Office; and though he had quitted a better Place, he would not quarter himself upon any Body to make it up; that he had no Brothers, nor other Relations, to provide for; and that, upon his first entring into the Treasury, he had made a standing Order against the late Practice of granting Reversions of Places.' Mr Walpole, who thought himself reflected on in what Gen. Stanhope had said, reply'd with great Warmth, complaining of Breach of Friendship, and betraying private Conversation, 'He frankly own'd, That while he was in Employment, he had endeavour'd to serve his Friends and Relations; than which, in his Opinion, nothing was more reasonable, or more just: That as to the granting Reversions, he was willing to acquaint the House with the Meaning of it: That he had no Objections against the German Ministers, whom his Majesty brought with him from Hanover, and who, as far as he had observ'd, had all along behav'd themselves like Men of Honour; but that there was a mean Fellow, of what Nation he could not tell, who took upon him to dispose of Employments; that this Man having obtain'd the Grant of a Reversion, design'd for his Son, Mr Walpole thought it too good for him, and therefore kept it for his own Son. That thereupon that Foreigner was so saucy as to demand of him the Sum of 2500£. under Pretence, that he had been offer'd so much for the said Reversion; but that he was wiser than to comply with his Demand. And that one of the chief Reasons that made him resign his Places, was, because he would not connive at some Things that were carrying on.' General Stanhope answer'd; Mr Walpole reply'd; and some hard Expressions having escap'd them in the Heat of the Dispute, Mr Hungerford endeavour'd to put a Stop to it. 'I am sorry, said he, to see these two great Men sall foul on one another; however, in my Opinion, we must still look upon them as Patriots, and Fathers of their Country; and since they have, by Mischance, discover'd their Nakedness, we ought, according to the Custom of the East, as the Scripture tells us, cover it by turning our Back upon them. He added, That this unlucky Accident had, however, produc'd some Good, in that it had reveal'd a Piece of secret History, viz. the scandalous Practice of selling Places and Reversions; and therefore he mov'd, That the honourable Member who made the Discovery, might be call'd upon to name the Person.' No Body seconding this Motion, Sir Joseph Jekyll (fn. 14) brought back the Attention of the Assembly to the Business under Consideration, and shew'd the Danger of putting off till the next Winter, the Conclusion of an Affair of so great Consequence. He was back'd by Mr Aislabie, who said, 'That as he never design'd, so he would not be thought to oppose any Thing that carry'd the Face of publick Good; and therefore he was for granting to the South-Sea Company the Term of Years that had been mention'd, viz. six Years, and a Year's Notice.' The Question being put thereupon, it was carry'd without dividing. The Speaker having resum'd the Chair, Mr Boscawen acted the Part of a common Friend between General Stanhope and Mr Walpole, saying, 'That it was melancholy to see that any Difference should happen between those two worthy Members, unbecoming their own Characters, and the Dignity of that Assembly; but that 'twould still be a greater Misfortune, if they should go out with any Resentment; and therefore he mov'd, That the House would lay their Commands upon them, that no farther Notice be taken of what had pass'd. Mr Methuen seconded Mr Boscawen, whose Motion being unanimously agreed to, the Speaker put it immediately in Execution.
Mr Pulteney moves for several Papers to be laid before the House relating to the 6000 Dutch Troops,; which is agreed to.
May 21. Mr Pulteney, made Observations on some Papers which, that Day, had been laid before the House by Mr Coleby, the Commissioner for Transports, relating to the Transportation of the Dutch Troops in November 1715, and suggested, That the Person who was entrusted with the Management of that Affair, [meaning the Lord Cadogan] had defrauded the Publick, on several Articles; and, that the House might be thoroughly inform'd of the whole Matter, he mov'd, That his Majesty be address'd for the several Papers that might give Light into that Transportation. He was seconded and back'd by several Members; upon which it was resolv'd and order'd, to present four Addresses to his Majesty, viz. I. For an Account of the Particulars of the Sum of 2106£ 12 s. 8 d. with Copies of the Vouchers for paying the same, charg'd for bringing the 6000 Dutch Troops from their respective Garrisons to Ostend, in order to embark for Great Britain, at the Time of the late Rebellion. II. An Account of the Particulars of the Sum of 992£. 3 s. 6 d. with Copies of the Vouchers, &c. for Tents, Sacks, and other Necessaries said to be deliver'd to the said 6000 Dutch Forces. III. Copies of all the Contracts made for transporting the said Troops to Great Britain, and Copies of all Vouchers for paying any Sums of Money relating to the same. And, IV. An Account of all the Bills of Exchange drawn from Abroad upon the respective Offices of Great Britain, in the Years 1715 and 1716, for, or on Account of, the late Rebellion.
The Consideration of the Proposals from the Bank and South-Sea Company put off.
May 22. The Commons, in a Committee of the whole House on Ways and Means, took into Consideration the Proposal of the Bank of England, for advancing Money to the Government; upon which there arose a Debate, that lasted three or four Hours, and then the farther Consideration of that Matter was put off till the 24th, when the Committee came to several Resolutions; and Mr Speaker having resum'd the Chair, the Report of the Resolutions relating to the South-Sea Company, and the Bank of England, was order'd to be receiv'd upon that Day Se'nnight; but the Governor and Directors of the Bank of England having made a Demur upon accepting the Conditions offer'd them by the Commons, before they had held a General Court, the said Report was, on the 31st of May, farther adjourn'd to the 6th of June.
The House resolve upon another Addrels relating to the 6000 Dutch Troops.
May 24. The House resolv'd to address his Majesty, That such Directions as were sent to his Ministers in Holland, and their Answers, as far as they relate to the Expence of the Dutch Troops, be laid before the House.
The Lords acquaint the House that they had fix'd the 13. of June for the Eail of Oxford's Trial.
May 27. The Lords sent a Message to the Commons to acquaint them that their Lordships had appointed the 13th of June, for the Trial of the Earl of Oxford.
Hereupon the Commons add Six new Members to the Secret Committee.
May 30. The Commons having taken the said Message into Consideration, appointed a Committee to consider of the State of the Impeachment against the said Earl. Several Members of the Secret Committee, who first push'd on that Prosecution, being call'd up to the House of Peers, as Sir Richard Onslow, the Lord Coningsby, and Sir Robert Marsham; some absent, and others grown remiss and indifferent in the Matter, it was thought proper to supply those Defects, by adding to the remaining Members of the said Secret Committee, Mr. Carter, Sir William Thompson, Serj. Birch, Serj. Pengelly, Serj. Reynolds, and Mr. Guidott. And it was order'd, That the said Committee have Power to send for Persons, Papers, and Records, and to adjourn to such Times and Places as they should think fit.
Dr Snape has the Thanks of the House for his Sermon.
The same Day, Sir William Wyndham mov'd, That the Thanks of the House be given to Dr. Snape, for the Sermon by him preach'd before this House the Day before, at St. Margaret's Westminster, and that he be desir'd to print the same: He was seconded by Mr. Shippen, and oppos'd by the same Party who had oppos'd the Doctor's preaching, but the Question being put, was carry'd in the Affirmative by 86 Voices against 70.
Several Papers relating to the Dutch Troops laid before House.
Several Papers relating to the 6000 Dutch Troops, were laid before the Commons, and upon a Motion made by Lieutenant General Erle, it was resolv'd to take that Affair into Consideration, in a Committee of the whole House, the Tuesday following.
June 3. Mr. Coleby, the Commissioner for Transports, Lieutenant General Maccartney, and others, were order'd to attend, the next Morning, the Committee of the whole House, to whom it was referr'd to consider of the Matters relating to the Transportation of the Dutch Forces.
Four more new Members added to the Committee of Secrecy.
The same Day the Secret Committee met for the first Time, and chose Mr. Carter for their Chairman, in the Room of Mr. Walpole, who absented himself; and General Stanhope happening at this Time to be indispos'd, the Committee met several Times without being able to do any Business. This was the Reason why four other Persons were added to the rest, viz. Mr. Addison, Mr. Craggs, jun. Sir Nathaniel Mead and Mr. Jessop.
Debate on the Affair of the 6000 Dutch Troops.
June 4. The House, according to Order, was to resolve itself into a Committee of the whole House, to take into Consideration the several Papers relating to the Charge of Transportation of the Dutch Troops, to and from Great Britain; and likewise the Papers relating to the Contingencies and Extraordinaries, for Services perform'd in North Britain during the Rebellion: But the Courtiers observing, That the Tory-Party, now strongly reinforc'd by the discontented Whigs, had the Majority, a Motion was made, That the ingross'd Malt-Bill be read a third Time. This Motion being contrary to Order, was oppos'd not only by all the Tories, but also by many of the Court-Party, who were not in the Secret of it; so that after a Debate of about an Hour, the Question being put, was carry'd in the Negative by a vast Majority. This preliminary Skirmish had, however, the Effect the Court-Party expected, which was only to give Time to their absent Friends to come to the House. In the mean while, the Court-Party having propos'd Mr Farrer to be Chairman of the Grand Committee, Mr. Walpole put up Mr. Edgcombe in Opposition to him; and the former doubting their Strength, chose rather to yield, than to run the Hazard of a Disappointment; so that Mr. Edgcombe was accordingly plac'd in the Chair. This done, the Clerk proceeded to the Reading of the Papers that had been laid before the House, relating to the Transportation of the Dutch Forces, after the Reading of which, Mr. Pulteney made a Speech, wherein he shew'd 'That there had been great Sums of Money embezzel'd in this Expedition; that he could not fix the Fraud upon any Body; but that it plainly appear'd, that the Sum of upwards of 2000£. was 'twice charg'd for the same Service, viz. for transporting the Dutch Forces into Great Britain.' This was answer'd by Mr. Craggs, (fn. 15) who, in particular, shew'd the Reason why the respective Sums of 2045£. and 2061£. were charg'd for Transports. On the other Hand, Lieutenant General Maccartney, who had affisted the Lord Cadogan in taking Care of the Marching and Embarkation of the Dutch Troops, being examin'd at the Bar, vouch'd several Particulars relating to the Provisions and Transports. But nevertheless, Mr Robert Walpole, Mr Shippen, and Mr Smith, maintain'd Mr Pulteney's Assertion, with a great deal of Warmth, and made severe Reflections on the Persons employ'd in bringing over the Dutch Troops. On the contrary, Mr Lechmere (fn. 16), Gen. Stanhope, Mr Hampden, Sir William Thompson, and Mr Aislabie, spoke in Vindication of the Lord Cadogan. Mr Robert Walpole supported Mr Pulteney's Charge with much Vehemence, and at two different Times, spoke near the Space of two Hours, and strain'd his Voice to that Degree, that he was taken with a violent Bleeding at the Nose, which oblis'd him to go out of the House; but came back before the Question was put. The main Stress of his Reasoning was, 'That by the Papers that had been read, there was ar apparent Fraud; tho' he could not say, but that it might afterwards appear otherwise; and he could not tell, but that the Lord Cadogan might produce other Evidence to prove his Innocence.' Sir Joseph Jekyll took Notice of the Inconsistency of Mr Walpole's Argument; for if the Fraud was apparent, it was consequently real; and if such, it was impossible to appear otherwise, and consequently for the Person on whom the Fraud was laid, to prove himself innocent; but that, in his Opinion, neither was there any apparent Fraud, nor, if there were, could it, with any Justice or Equity, be charg'd on the Lord Cadogan, who, in all this Affair, acted only as a publick Minister, and not either as a Commander, or an Agent; concluding with some Praises on his Lordship, who, in Military Affairs, held the second Rank, must to that Great Man to whom every Body allow'd the first.' Mr Lechmere likewise distinguish'd himself on this Occasion; and urg'd, 'That this Enquiry was altogether frivolous and groundless: That as it was the Result of Party Pique and Malice, so it had no other View than to blacken and asperse a Person whose greatest Crime was, that he had eal bright Qualities, that drown'd the Tinsel Merit of others. That this Enquiry was of the same Nature with those that had formerly been set on Foot against the Duke of Marlborough, the Lord Townshend, and an honourable Member of that House; and, he hop'd, would have the same End. That it look'd very strange, that the Persons who now appear'd the hottest in this Enquiry, should have been silent about these pretended Frauds while they were in Place: But that it was still more surprizing to hear them exclaim, wit so much Rancour and Bitterness, against a noble Lord, of whom they had been heard to say, That the speedy suppressing of the Rebellion in Scotland, was, under God, owing to his Activity and Indefatigableness; and that if another General had had the Management of that Affair, he would have made it a ten Years War.' Mr Hungerford spoke in Favour of the Lord Cadogan, and said, 'He wonder'd there was so much Noise made about a Dutch Reckoning; that by all that had been laid before them, the Lord Cadogan appeared very innocent; and therefore he thought he deserv'd ather the Praise, than the Censure of the House.' After both Parties had maintain'd the Conflict 'till near Eight in the Evening, General Stanhope, in order to let the Business drop, mov'd, That the Chairman leave the Chair: Which, upon the Question being put, was carry'd in the Affirmative by 204 against 194. This was look'd upon as a great Victory. on the Court Side; for had the other Party gain'd their Point, it was apprehended, that they design'd not only to have pass'd a Censure upon the Lord Cadogan, but also to have carry'd the Enquiry farther.
Motion for desiring the Lords to delay the Earl of Oxford's Trial, the Commons not being prepar'd to proceed against him.; Debate thereon.
June 12. Mr Carter reported from the Committee appointed to consider the State of the Impeachment against Robert Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer, 'That the Committee had met several Times, and made some Progress in the Matters to them referr'd; but that the Prosecution of the said Impeachment having been interrupted for so many Months, by the Intervention of many weighty and urgent Affairs, which more nearly and immediately concern'd the Welfare, Defence, and Security of the Kingdom; it was become absolutely necessary for those who should be appointed to manage the said Impeachment, to review, and carefully peruse all the Treaties, Records, Letters, and other Papers proper and necessary for supporting this Prosecution; which being very voluminous, it would be impossible within the Time appointed for the Tryal, to adjust and apply the proper Evidence to the several Articles.' Hereupon it was moved, That a Message be sent to the Lords, acquainting them with the Reasons why this House could not proceed on the Tryal of Robert Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer, at the Time appointed; and to desire that the same might be put off to a farther Day. Upon this there was, for two or three Minutes, a Silence in the House, the Members looking upon one another, waiting who should speak first. At last, Mr Hungerford rose up, and took Notice of the great Hardships which the Earl of Oxford had undergone. Then Mr Boscawen express'd his Concern, 'That a Prosecution which the Commons had begun in so solemn a Manner, and which was thought so necessary to vindicate the Honour and Justice of the Nation, should, at last, be dropp'd; which, he was sure, would be a Reflection on that House.' Here again was a deep Silence; and Mr Speaker rising, in order to put the Question, Mr Tuffnel took that Opportunity to speak as follows.
Mr Tuffnell's Speech.
'I have not yet troubled the House upon any of the Impeachments: However, since I have given my Assent to every Article exhibited against this Noble Lord, I think it, in some Measure, incumbent upon me, to declare the Reasons why I did so. I am sure there is no Gentleman in this House, that at any Time more unwilling y comes into any Thing that has the least Appearance of Severity towards his Fellow-Subjects, than my self. An I can, with a great deal of Sincerity affirm, that no personal Pique, Prejudice, or Resentment ever did, and I have never will, influence my Vote; especially when either the Life, the Fortune, or the Reputation of any Man is oncern'd. What I did, I did out of a disinterested Zeal; o t of an indispensible Love and Duty to my Country: A d whatever may be the Fate of this Prosecution, I then thought, and still am of Opinion, that the Measures which this Noble Lord enter'd into, as Prime Minister, have, if I may be excus'd the Impropriety of the Expression, laid a Foundation for the Ruin of his Country. I have already declar'd, that I have, in every Part of the Accusation, voted against this Noble Lord. As to the Articles of High Crimes and Misdemeanors, I believe there is no Body but thinks there was sufficient Ground for them: As to the High Treason, where lay the only Difficulty, I must freely own, had I consulted only my private Opinion, I could scarce have thought it included in the twenty-fifth of Edward III. But when an honourable Gentleman, who was then Chairman of the Secret Committee, undertook, in a Fact which the House had already adjudg'd to be High Treason, to bring that Matter as home to the Earl of Oxford, as the Report had done to the then Lord Bolingbroke; when he gave us all the Assurances imaginable, that they had living and legal Evidence to support the Charge; such as it was almost the unanimous Opinion of the Committee, might be given in Westminster-Hall; and he hop'd, that since the House had thought fit to repose a Confidence in them, it would not be expected the Evidence should be discover'd, left it might give them an Opportunity of being seduc'd: This, I say, and this alone, sway'd my Opinion. I then consider'd my self acting, not as a Judge, but as a Prosecutor. And when that very ingenious Gentleman, whom I always hear with the greatest Pleasure, and to whose Judgment I always pay the greatest Deference, I say, when his Honour, his Understanding, his Veracity, his every Thing was so far engag'd, the only Question with me was, whether it was reasonable to undertake the Prosecution, or not? And upon these Considerations I can't but think I should have been extremely wanting in that Duty which I owe to my Country, if I should have declin'd giving my Vote to bring an Offender to publick Justice; when, at the same Time, I was fully convinc'd that he had betray'd the Honour and Interest of this Nation.'
Mr Bromley taking Notice, that the Dint of this Speech was principally levell'd at Mr Robert Walpole, endeavour'd to vindicate him, by saying, 'That tho' he was Chairman of the secret Committee, yet, if any Thing was done amiss among them, it were hard to lay all the Blame at his Door, since the whole Committee were equally concern'd in the Impeachments.' As to the Matter now under Consideration, Mr Bromley added, 'That they had been told above a Year and a half ago, that the Evidence was ready; but that they ought not to give the Lords the Trouble of going thro' the whole Impeachment, since, in his Opinion, twenty of the Articles were altogether vain and needless.' Some Members resenting this Assertion, Mr Bromley immediately explain'd himself, saying, 'That if the two Articles that were for High Treason, could be made good, the other twenty would be needless and insignificant.' Mr Shippen, who spoke on the same Side, said, among other Things, 'That this Impeachment had been depending so long, that every Body expected it would be dropt; and, indeed, unless the two Articles of High Treason could be made good, he thought it unreasonable to give the two Houses an unnecessary Trouble about the other Articles, by keeping them sitting in the hottest Part of the Summer: That, after all, those who had first begun the Impeachments, ought to be satisfy'd with having got the Places of those that were impeach'd; which, indeed, seem'd to be what they had principally in View: That the Truth of this appear'd evidently from the Behaviour of the Gentleman who was the most forward and active in the Impeachments, [Mr Robert Walpole] whose Warmth was very much abated since he was out of Place: That he did not mention this as a Reslection on that Gentleman, for whom he ever had a great Respect; but that he was afraid this would lessen him in the Esteem of others: That, for his own Part, he was not in the least surpriz'd at this Conduct; of which he had, of late, observ'd many Instances; but that he ever disapprov'd it: That if he would have been a Time-server, he might, as well as other People, have got some good Employment; but that he rather chose to be contented with a small private Fortune, than betray his Sentiments: And as an Instance, he added, he could never be guilty of so much Adulation, as to compliment a certain Person with the Rank of second General, [meaning the Lord Cadagan] to the Prejudice of an honourable and worthy Member of that House, [meaning General Webb] whose glorious Actions had gain'd him an immortal Name. Mr Hungerford then said, 'That for his own Part, he ever was against Impeachments, because he had observ'd that they generally come to nothing; and as for the Reflection made by the worthy Gentleman who spoke last, he suppos'd it was meant for some Body else: [Looking, as be spoke this, towards Sir Joseph Jekyll, who sat near him, and who, (Page 138) bad spoken in behalf of the Lord Cadogan.] Sir Joseph Jekyll justify'd himself, both as to this, and as to the Share he had in the Impeachment of the Earl of Oxford; having, from the Beginning, been against the Articles for High Treason. After this, Mr Walpole made a seint Apology for himself, saying, among other Things, 'That he had of late look'd over some of the most material Papers relating to this Impeachment, and he was still convinc'd in his Conscience, that the late Ministry had given themselves up entirely, and were ready to deliver up the Nation to France.' But having let drop an Infinuation, as if many who follow'd his Opinion in the Business of the Impeachments, did it rather out of Compliment to his Power, than to his Person, Mr Tuffnel resenting this Innuendo, immediately repell'd the Dint of it, by appealing to that honourable Member, 'Whether he ever made his Court to him? 'And whether he had not paid him more Respect since he was out, then when he was in Place?' On the other Hand, Mr Lechmere strongly supported the Motion for the Message, and, among other Things, said, 'It was no Wonder that a certain Set of Men, who had, at first, oppos'd the Impeachments, should now be for letting them drop; and that this was yet the less surprizing, in that the same Gentlemen had constantly oppos'd all that had been propos'd for the Support of the present happy Settlement: But that for his own Part, he was of the same Opinion he ever had been of, viz. that the Nation could not prosper, till they had brought those to Justice, who betray'd its Allies in so scandalous a Manner, and brought it to the very Brink of Ruin; and that he would venture his Life in this Prosecution.' After this, it was carry'd, without dividing, That a Message be sent to the Lords; which being done the same Day, their Lordships took it immediately into Consideration.
June 13. The Lords sent a Message to the Commons to acquaint them with their Resolution, of putting off the Earl of Oxford's Trial to the 24th of June.
Mr H. Walpole moves for a Bill to disable any Member, who takes a Place, from being re elected.
June 18. Writs having been issued to supply Vacancies, occasion'd by several Members having accepted Places, Mr Horatio Walpole mov'd, that Leave be given to bring in A Bill to repeal so much of an Act pass'd in the sixth Year of Queen Anne's Reign, intitled, An Act for the Security of her Majesty's Person and Government, &c as relates to the making any Person capable of being again elected after the Acceptance of any Office of Profit from the Crown. He was seconded by Mr Daniel Campbell, and no Member opposing that Motion, the said Bill was order'd to be brought in.
The Commons resolve to be present, as a Committee, at the Earl of Oxford's Trial.; The Lords resolve to proceed first, with the Articles for High Treason.
June 24. Being the Day appointed by the Lords for the Trial of the Earl of Oxford the Commons resolv'd to be present, as a Committee of the whole House; and the Managers and other Members having taken their respective Places in Westminster-Hall, the Lords came thither likewise, and the Earl of Oxford was brought to the Bar. Then, by the Lord High Steward's Commands, were read, I. The Articles of Impeachment exhibited by the Commons. II. The Earl's Answer to them; and, III. The Replication of the Commons. After the Reading of which, the Lord High Steward address'd himself to the Prisoner at the Bar in a Speech suitable to the Occasion. This done, his Lordship told the Gentlemen of the House of Commons, that they might proceed: And then Mr Hampden, one of the Managers for the House of Commons, open'd his Charge, which being ended, Sir Joseph Jekyll stood up, in order to proceed on the first Article of the Impeachment; but as he was beginning to speak, he was interrupted by the Lord Harcourt, who signify'd to their Lordships, that before the Managers for the Commons proceeded farther, he had something to offer to their Lordships, who thereupon-adjourn'd to their own House, and the Commons return'd to theirs. The Lords being about to go down again to Westminster-Hall, sent a Message to the Commons to acquaint them therewith; upon which the Commons in a Committee of the whole House, return'd also to Westminster-Hall, where the Lord High Steward acquainted the Managers with their Lordships Resolution, viz. 'That the Commons be not admitted to proceed in order to make good the Articles against Robert Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer, for High Crimes and Misdemeanours, till Judgment be first given upon the Articles for High Treason.'
This Resolution of the Lords was highly disagreeable to the Commons; as it seem'd to prescribe to them the particular Articles on which they were first to proceed-Accordingly several Conferences were held between both Houses about the Method of Proceeding at the Earl of Oxford's Trial.
Upon which a free Conference is defir'd, which the Lords refuse, ; Debate thereon.
June 27. The Commons having desir'd a free Conference with the Lords on the subject Matter of the late Conferences,
July 1. Mr Carter (fn. 17) reported, That the Lords insisted upon denying a free Conference; This put the House into a Flame; and it being thereupon order'd, That the said Report be Now taken into Consideration, several warm Speeches were made on that Occasion, by General Stanhope and Mr Craggs, immediately after whom Mr Tuffnell rose up, and spoke as follows;
Mr Tuffnell's Speech.
'I can't but think the Proceeding of the Lords very extraordinary upon this Occasion, That, after having received the Articles as deliver'd in by this House, they should now come to a Resolution, 'That the Commons be not admitted to proceed upon the High Crimes and Misdemeanours, till Judgment be first given upon the Articles for High Treason.' And here, though unwillingly, I must observe, That the Expression made use of in their Lordships Message to the Commons, to me seems very unsuitable to that Candor which they have so remarkably shewn upon all Occasions, and from whence this House might reasonably expect a more becoming Treatment. There's another Thing which I can't but take Notice of, which is, That after having had Conferences with the Commons on this Subject, they should now refuse a free Conference, which I should have thought, must have been the natural Result of the former, as being the most probable Way to accommodate Matters in Cases of Difficulty. The Reason they give for this their adhering to their Resolution is, That this is a Point of Judicature which solely belongs to their Lordships; whereas the Commons say, 'Tis only a Matter of Prosecution. And yet, if this Objection were good, why was it not equally so against their agreeing to the first Conference?
'Notwithstanding these Considerations, if I could be of Opinion with these Gentlemen who think, either that the Honour of this House is so much concern'd, or that it is so essential to the Rights of the Commons of Great Britain, I should be as unwilling as any one here, to contribute the least towards the betraying of them. But since I don't hear 'tis pretended that there are any Precedents on either Side; and I can, by no Means, think it of that Consequence which some Gentlemen seem to imagine, especially if there be a 'Saving to the Rights and Privileges of this House:' I should be inclin'd to be of Opinion, That it would be better to acquiesce in the Method proposed by the Lords, than to let a Prosecution entirely drop, which has so universally raised the Expectations of Mankind. Then we should see, what that living and legal Evidence is, which we have been so often promis'd from those, in whom the House reposed the greatest Confidence; and if there should be any Failure in the Proof of the High Treason, the Blame might lie in its proper Place.'
'Sir, I am sorry to find there should be such Remissness in a Prosecution, which was formerly carry'd on with so much Warmth and Vigour. And I could with to see that Spirit of Patriotism, which has hitherto animated this House; that just Resentment for our injured Country, once more revived. Where's now that publick spirited, disinterested Zeal, which then warm'd the Patriot's. Breast? Are all those glorious Thoughts and Heroick Sentiments quite evaporated ? How comes it that those who then felt, and made others to feel, such an Intenseness of Heat, such a lively Emotion of Spirit, are now so calm and undisturb'd ? That those who were then so full of Heat and Flame, are now so cold and lifeless? Is the Nature of Things so far altered, that what was then the most flagrant High Treason, is now Nothing at all ?
'Mr. Speaker, My Concern is for the Honour of this House, which has been so far engag'd by Assurances of Evidence to support the Charge. I must therefore take the Liberty to call upon those Gentlemen who gave them, to extricate us from our present Difficulties: And, I am sure, we shall not want their Assistance in an Affair where their Honour is so nearly concern'd. I call upon them the rather, because 'tis a Justice which they owe to themselves, 'tis a Justice which they owe to this House of Commons, 'tis a Justice which they owe their Country, their poor, unhappy Country, which they have so often describ'd, as involv'd in the greatest Difficulties, as labouring under the most ruinous Circumstances, occasion'd by the ill Conduct, the pernicious Counsels, and traiterous Practises of the Noble Person now under your Prosecution.'
Mr Lechmere moves to agree with the Method propos'd by the Lords.; A Message from the Lords that they intend to proceed immediately on the Earl of Oxford's Trial; of which the Commons take no Notice. ; Sir W. Strickland moves for a Bill of Attainder against him.; Mr Tuffnell's Speech thereon.
In the Middle of this Debate, another Message was brought from the Lords, to desire that the Commons would continue sitting sometime, which the House agreed to. After this, Mr. Lechmere made a Speech, wherein having lamented the unhappy Dilemma, as he call'd it, to which they were brought, either to see so great an Offender as the Earl of Oxford escape unpunish'd, or to acquiesce in proceeding on his Tryal in the Manner prescrib'd by the Lords, he said, 'That he thought the later the more eligible of the two, with a Saving to the Rights and Privileges of the Commons; and therefore made a Motion for it.' He was seconded and back'd by Mr. Hampden: But the Question being put thereupon, it was carry'd in the Negative. Then a Message was brought from the Lords, to acquaint the Commons, That their Lordships intended presently to proceed farther on the Tryal of the Earl of Oxford in WestminsterHall, of which the Commons took no Notice; but being sensible that the Lords would discharge the Prisoner, Sir William Strickland, Member for Carlisle mov'd, That Leave be given to bring in a Bill to inslict such Pains and Penalties upon Robert Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer, as his traiterous Practices and other High Crimes and Misdemeanours do deserve, and as shall be thought reasonable. Hereupon Mr. Tuffnell rose up again, and said, 'That he could by no Means come into that Motion; For that how necessary and reasonable soever such a Bill might be at another Juncture, he could not but think it unreasonable now; when, as yet, it was uncertain what the Lords would do. But that, however, he would freely declare his Mind on this Occasion, viz. That notwithstanding he was convinc'd, the Earl of Oxford was guilty of the Crimes wherewith he was charg'd, and that no Man had ever contributed more to the Ruin of his Country than he had done: Yet, since there was a legal Prosecution begun; since that Noble Lord had submitted himself to Publick Justice; and considering that 'tis the peculiar Glory and happiness of a Free-born People to be govern'd by known Laws; he would never give his Consent to a Bill, which, in his Opinion, must make the Lives, the Fortunes, and Liberties of the Subjects of Great Britain, stand upon so unsettled and precarious a Foundation.' Upon which it was adjourn'd to the third of July.
The Lords proceed to the Trial of the Earl of Oxford, but the Commons not appearing, his Lordship is acquitted.
The Lords went from their own House, into WestminsterHall, about Seven in the Evening, where three several Proclamations were made for the Accusers of the Earl of Oxford to appear, and make good the Articles of Impeachment against him: But the Commons not appearing, their Lordships went back to their House, where the Lord High Steward put the Question, whether the Earl of Oxford should be discharg'd of the High Crimes and Misdemeanours as well as of the High Treason of which he was impeach'd? This, after some Debate, being carry'd in the Affirmative, the Lords went again into Westminster-Hall, where the Lord High Steward put the Question to every Lord in the usual Method, viz. Content or not Content; All the Lords present being Content; his Lordship declared the Earl of Oxford acquitted by his Peers, of the Articles of Impeachment exhibited against him by the Commons; commanded the Lieutenant of the Tower of London to discharge his Prisoner; and, declaring his Majesty's Commission to be dissolv'd, broke his Staff.
Sir W. Strickland renews his Motion for the Bill of Attainder.; Debate thereon. Lord Castlecomer moves for an Address to the King to except the Earl of Oxford out of the Act of Grace.; Which a Committee is appointed to draw up.
July 3. The Commons resum'd the adjourn'd Debate upon the Motion made two Days before, by Sir William Strickland, who again insisting on that Motion, had the Mortification of seeing, that not one Member would second him: On the contrary Mr. Hungerford said upon that Matter, 'That for his own Part, he had ever been against violent Proceedings; That, in his Opinion, where the Life, Fortune, or Reputation of any Man is concern'd, the Parliament ought to go upon Evidence as strong and as full as is requir'd in Westminster-Hall; and that he had observ'd, that all Bills of Attainder proceeded from Party-Piques.' Sir William Strickland being offended at this Speech, made some severe Reflections upon it; and added; 'That for his own Part he had no personal Pique against the Earl of Oxford; but look'd upon him as an Enemy to his Country; and since the Commons could not bring him to Justice in the ordinary Way, they ought, in his Opinion, to have Recourse to an extraordinary Method; for which, however, they did not want Precedents.' Mr. Hungerford turn'd the Reflections made upon him into Raillery; and after some other Speeches, the Lord Castlecomer, Member for Ripon, mov'd, 'That an Address be presented to his Majesty, setting forth the many great Crimes of which Robert Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer has been impeach'd by this House, as likewise the Endeavours that have been us'd by the Commons to bring the said Earl to Justice; in which Proceedings the unhappy Differences that have arisen between the two Houses have disappointed their just Expectations; and likewise humbly to pray his Majesty, that he will except the said Earl out of the Act of Grace. The Lord Castlecomer being seconded by Mr. Yonge, and the Question put upon his Motion, it was carry'd in the Affirmative, and a Committee appointed to draw up the said Address. Another Committee was the same Day appointed to inspect the Lords Journals, in Relation to their Proceedings on the Tryal of the Earl of Oxford, and to report what they find therein, to the House.
July 4. The Lord Castlecomer, Chairman of the Committee appointed to draw up the Address against the Earl of Oxford, reported the same, which being agreed to, it was resolv'd that the said Address be presented by the whole House.
July 5. The Commons, with their Speaker, presented the said Address to his Majesty, which is as follows.
The Address thereon.
Most Gracious Sovereign,
'WE your Majesty's most faithful Subjects, the Commons of Great Britain in Parliament assembled, do most humbly represent to your Majesty, That in our Impeachment exhibited against Robert Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer, we did set forth, That he the said Earl did traiterously adhere to, aid, and abet the late French King, then an Enemy to her late Majesty, and did begin and carry on a clandestine and separate Correspondence and Negotiation with the Ministers of the said French King; in consequence of which it is evident, that great Part of the Forces maintain'd at the Expence of so much British Treasure, in order to reduce the Power of France; as likewise great Part of the Subsidies granted by Parliament to Foreign Princes for the same End, were, in Reality, made subservient and instrumental to awe the good Allies of her Majesty into a Compliance with the hard Terms dictated by France.
'The unhappy Catalans were abandon'd; the Emperor, Empire, and King of Portugal, were left to treat for themselves; the Kingdom of Sicily was given to the Duke of Savoy, as an Inducement and Reward to him for quitting the common Cause, in direct Defiance and Violation of the grand Alliance, and of the declar'd Sense of most of her good Allies, and especially of the Dutch, who, to this Day, have never assented to that Condition of the Treaty of Utrecht. A shameful and dishonourable Treaty of Peace was at last concluded, by which impracticable Terms of Trade were impos'd on Great Britain; the Demolition of Dunkirk, which had been address'd for by Parliament, was eluded by a treacherous Connivance, at the making of a new Canal at Mardyke; and the Security which was propos'd by removing the Pretender out of France, was, in the like Manner, evaded by a treacherous Connivance at his residing in Lorrain.
'It is owing to your Majesty's unweary'd Endeavours for the Good of your Subjects, and that just Regard which is paid to your Majesty by Foreign Princes and States, that we see our selves deliver'd, in a great Degree, from the Effects of those pernicious Measures, which might otherwise have prov'd fatal to your Kingdoms: But as we reflect with equal Gratitude and Admiration on your Majesty's being able to retrieve such Miscarriages, especially in a Time which has been disturb'd by publick Tumults and Rebellions: We think it is a great Aggravation of Guilt in those who gave up so many National Advantages, at a Time when they labour'd under no such Difficulties at Home, and when the continued Successes of a long and glorious War had put them into a Condition of gaining the most beneficial Terms from the Enemy.
'Your faithful Commons did likewise exhibit several other Charges against the said Earl, representing him in many notorious Instances, as a Person who had abus'd the Trust and Confidence which her late Majesty had repos'd in him, and sacrific'd the Honour of his Sovereign and the Good of her People, to private Views of Interest and Ambition.
'Your faithful Commons have not been wanting in their Endeavours to bring the said Earl to Justice; but by Reason of the unhappy Differences that have, in this Proceeding, arisen between the two Houses, we have found our selves disappointed of our just Expectation, and reduc'd to the Necessity either of giving up Rights and Privileges of the highest Importance to all the Commons of Great Brittain, or seeing this great Offender escape with Impunity for the present.
'For these Reasons, we do most humbly beseech your Majesty, that your Majesty will be pleas'd to except Robert Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer out of the Act of Grace, which your Majesty has been graciously pleas'd to promise from the Throne; to the End the Commons may be at Liberty to proceed against the said Earl in a Parliamentary Way.
To this Address, his Majesty was pleas'd to return the following Answer.
The King's Answer thereto.
"I Will give Directions in Relation to the Earl of Oxford, as you desire; and it is with Pleasure I observe the Sense, express'd in your Address, of my Endeavours for the Security, Honour, and Advantage of these Kingdoms.
July 15. The King came to the House of Peers, and a Message was brought to the Commons by the Usher of the black Rod, commanding them to attend his Majesty immediately, which they did accordingly, and Mr. Speaker presented the Money-Bills to his Majesty; which done, the Lord Chancellor read a Speech deliver'd into his Hands by the King, from the Throne, as follows.
King's Speech at concluding the Second Session.
My Lords and Gentlemen,
"I Cannot put an End to this Session, without expressing my Thanks to you, for the Dispatch you have given to the publick Business, and declaring the Satisfaction I promise my self in meeting you again early the next Winter, with the same good Dispositions for the Service of your Country. The Measures we have taken in this Parliament, have, by the Blessing of Almighty God, effectually defeated all the Attempts of our Enemies, both at Home and Abroad; and, as the Principle on which those Measures are founded, are equally conducive to the supporting the just Rights of the Crown and the Liberties of the People, I shall allways persevere in them my self, and distinguish those who adhere to them with the same Steadiness and Resolution,
Gentlemen of the House of Commons,
"I thank you, in the most affectionate Manner, for the Supplies you have granted me, and for that Constancy and Zeal which you have shewn in reducing our National Debts, notwithstanding the many Incidents and Obstructions you have met with in the carrying on of that great Work. As you have furnish'd me with the Means of disappointing any Designs of a foreign Enemy against these my Kingdoms, so I cannot but ascribe, in a great Measure, the happy Prospect of our Affairs abroad to that publick Spirit which has appear'd in your Proceedings, and has convinc'd the World, that no Infinuations or Artifices can divert you from your Duty to your Sovereign, and a disinterested Regard to your Fellow-Subjects.
My Lords and Gentlemen,
"It is with great Pleasure that I see the Tranquility of the Nation so well establish'd, as to admit of an Act of Grace, which I have long desir'd a fit Opportunity to grant. I hope that such as shall, by this Means, be restor'd to the Enjoyment of Security, and the Protection of those Laws against which they have offended, will have a due Sense of this my Indulgence, and give me the most acceptable Return they can possibly make me, that of becoming Friends, instead of Enemies, to their Country.
The Parliament Prorogued.
Then the Lord Chancellor prorogu'd the Parliament to the 12th of August: They were afterwards farther prorogued, by several Prorogations, to the 21st of November.