The History and Proceedings of the House of Commons: Volume 7, 1727-1733. Originally published by Chandler, London, 1742.
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SPEECHES and DEBATES In the Fourth Session of the First Parliament of King George II.
Anno 4. Geo. II, 1730-31.
On the 21st of January the King came to the House of Peers, and the Commons attending, his Majesty made the following Speech.
King's Speech at opening the Fourth Session.
My Lords and Gentlemen,
You cannot but be sensible, that the Measures formerly taken, and the Conclusion of the Treaty of Seville, have prevented and disappointed the dangerous Consequences that were so justly apprehended from the Treaty of Vienna; and we do not only see that Union dissolv'd, which had alarm'd all Europe, but the Allies of the Treaty of Hanover strengthned by the additional Power of the Crown of Spain.
"This Situation of Affairs gave us a reasonable Prospect of a general Pacification, and just Hopes of seeing the Conditions of the Treaty of Seville comply'd with, without the Necessity of coming to Extremities; and no Endeavours have been wanting, conformable to my Engagements with my Allies, to obtain that happy End. But this desirable Event having been hitherto delay'd, the Treaty of Seville lays an indispensible Obligation upon all the contracting Parties to prepare for the Execution of it; and we must be in a Readiness to perform our Part, and, by continuing to pursue the proper Measures, convince our Allies, that we will faithfully fulfil our Engagements, and, as far as shall depend upon us, procure the Satisfaction due to them, either by such Means as shall be most eligible, or by such as shall be found absolutely necessary.
"The present critical Conjuncture seems in a very particular Manner to deserve your Attention; and you need not be told, with what Impatience the Resolutions of this Parliament are every where waited for and expected.
"I am incapable of attempting to influence your Proceedings by groundless Fears and Apprehensions, and as incapable of amusing you with vain Hopes and Expectations; but as the Transactions, now depending in the several Courts of Europe, are upon the Point of being determin'd, the great Event of Peace or War may be very much affected by your first Resolutions. The Continuance of that Zeal and Vigour, which you have hitherto shewn, in Support of me and my Engagements, must, at this Time, be of the greatest Weight and Importance, both with Regard to my Allies, who cannot think their Interest and the Common Cause neglected, before the Conditions of their Treaties are accomplish'd; and with Regard to those, who may be disposed, before the Season of Action is come, to prevent, by an Accommodation, the fatal Consequences of a general Rupture, which they will have little Reason to apprehend, if they find the Allies of Seville not prepared to do themselves Justice.
"The Plan of Operations for the Execution of the Treaty of Seville by Force, in case we shall be driven to that Necessity, is now under Consideration; and until the Proportions of the Confederate Forces, and the proper Dispositions for employing them, shall be finally adjusted and agreed upon, it will not be easy to determine how fan the Expences, necessary for the Service of the ensuing Year, may, or may not, exceed the Provisions made for the Service of the last Year.
"In the mean Time, I am persuaded, you will go on to give all possible Dispatch to the publick Business; and if it shall be necessary, I shall not fail to ask the farther Advice and Assistance of my Parliament, according to the Circumstances of publick Affairs, and as soon as any proper Occasion shall require it.
Gentlemen of the House of Commons,
"I will order the proper Estimates to be prepared and laid before you; and I can make no doubt, but that dutiful Regard which you have always shewn to me and my Honour, and your just Concern for the true Interest of your Country, will induce you to grant me the necessary Supplies, and enable me to make good my Engagements with my Allies, with that Chearfulness and Affection, which becomes a British House of Commons, tender and jealous of the Honour of the Crown, careful and solicitous for the Glory and Prosperity of the Kingdom.
My Lords and Gentlemen,
"The Time draws near, which will admit of no farther Delays. If the Tranquility of Europe can be settled without the Effusion of Blood, or the Expence of publick Treasure, that Situation will certainly be most happy and desirable: But if that Blessing cannot be obtain'd, Honour, Justice, and the sacred Faith due to solemn Treaties, will call upon us to exert ourselves, in procuring by Force what cannot be had upon just and reasonable Terms."
Motion for an Address of Thanks.
The Commons being return'd to their House, Mr Speaker reported his Majesty's Speech, and thereupon a Motion was made for an Address of Thanks; and to acknowledge his Majesty's Goodness in endeavouring to have the Conditions of the Treaty of Seville fulfilled and executed, in such Manner as might best secure a general Pacification, and be conformable to his Engagements with his Allies; to declare their entire Confidence in his Majesty's Care and Concern for the Honour and Interests of his People; and their perfect Reliance upon his Wisdom and Justice, in doing every Thing that shall depend upon him, to procure the Satisfaction to his Allies, by such Means as shall be most desirable, or absolutely necessary; to express their firm Resolution to continue their utmost Zeal and Vigour, in Support of his Majesty and his Engagements; and to assure his Majesty, that they would give all possible Dispatch to the Publick Business, as it should from Time to Time be brought before them; and that from a dutiful Regard to his Majesty's Honour and Dignity, and a just Concern for the true Interest of their Country, which they should always look upon as indispensible and inseparable Obligations, they would grant to his Majesty such Supplies as should be necessary for the Service of the ensuing Year; and effectually enable his Majesty to make good his Engagements with his Allies: And in Return to his Majesty's Goodness, in avoiding to bring any unnecessary Burthens upon his People, to assure his Majesty, that in case the Circumstances of Affairs should oblige his Majesty to ask the farther Advice and Assistance of that House, they would, upon every Occasion, discharge their Duty to his Majesty and those they represent, with that Chearfulness and Affection which became a British House of Commons, tender and jealous of the Honour of the Crown, and careful and solicitous for the Glory of the Kingdom.'
This Motion was oppos'd by Mr Daniel Pulteney, Mr William Pulteney, and Sir William Wyndham, who were for leaving out most Part of the Motion in order to make the Address general; and for desiring his Majesty to take Care, that no War should be carry'd on in Flanders or upon the Rhine. The Arguments they offer'd in Support of this Amendment were, 'That according to the ancient Parliamentary Method, all Addresses were general: That our Ancestors never were so complaisant as to declare their Sense of Things, till the Particulars came regularly before them: That the making of an Address, in Terms so particular as those now proposed, look'd like an immediate Determination of all the Points likely to come before them, which was in Effect bringing the Business of the whole Session into the Resolves of one Day, and proceeding to determine without either Proofs or Reasons for such Determinations: That the promising now to support his Majesty in all his Engagements, without knowing what those Engagements were, seem'd to be determining, that they would support him before any Reason could be offer'd for such a Determination; for no other Reason could be offer'd, than that they were all just and reasonable, which no Man could say before he knew what they were: That every Gentleman in that House must remember very well the great Expence of Blood and Treasure, which it had cost this Nation to reduce the exorbitant Power of France, which by the impolitick Measures of former Times had been allow'd to rise to such a Height, that it began to threaten the Liberties of all Europe: That our joining with France, and attacking the Emperor in Flanders, or upon the Rhine, would naturally throw Flanders, and perhaps a Part of Germany, into the Hands of the French; by which that Monarchy would again become terrible to Europe: That French Alliances, thro' the Unfaithfulness of that People, and their inveterate Malice to us, had always proved destructive to the Interest and Trade of this Nation; and the Use they had always made of a Correspondence with us, was to encourage arbitrary Designs in our Princes, and that therefore it had generally proved fatal for any King, or Ministry of England, to enter cordially into any Friendship or Correspondence with them: That we might learn, from the Histories of former Times, what Faith could be given to French Promises or French Engagements: That even at present we may see, that they have taken Advantage of the late precarious Situation of the Affairs of Europe, and of the Confidence we have reposed in them, and from thence have presumed to clear and restore the Harbour of Dunkirk, and to incroach upon our Settlements in the West-Indies: That from their present Management we may judge, how much their Friendship is to be depended on; we may see that we must pay dear for any superficial Favours they are pleased to vouchsafe to us, or to any of our Allies: That prosecuting a War either in Flanders or upon the Rhine, in Conjunction with the French, could tend to nothing but the Ruin of that Balance of Power in Europe, which with Difficulty we had at last establish'd, after a ten Years bloody and expensive War, crown'd with many glorious Victories, and attended with a most surprizing Success: That in the present Conjuncture of the Affairs of Europe, the Balance of Power by our being beaten might suffer; by our being victorious, it would be entirely destroy'd and lost perhaps for ever.'
In Answer to this, Sir Robert Walpole, Mr Horatio Walpole, Lord Hervey, and Sir William Yonge, urg'd, 'That the making of the Address in Terms so very general, seem'd to be shewing a Sort of Diffidence in his Majesty's Conduct and Management: That his Majesty, ever since he came to the Throne, had always been so careful of the Interests of the Nation, that no Member of the House had any Reason to harbour the least Suspicion of his Majesty's Measures: That as to the other Part of the Amendment relating to the War in Flanders or upon the Rhine, they agreed, that it was not for the Interest of Europe, that any Part of those Countries should fall into the Hands of the French: That his Majesty would without doubt, according to his wonted Prudence, take all proper Care to prevent any such Consequence: And that the putting such Words into the Address would look like an Encroachment upon the Prerogative of the Crown, and a Directing of the Operations of the future War, if any should happen, which they hoped would not; for that they had good Reason to believe, that the Measures already concerted would produce a Pacification: That the principal Design of the great Alliance form'd against the Emperor was to convince him, that if he did not come into the peaceable Measures proposed, he would be so powerfully attack'd upon all Sides, that it would be impossible for him to resist; which Design would be entirely frustrated, if they should declare at the Beginning, that he was not to be attack'd in Flanders or upon the Rhine, these being the only two Places in which he was vulnerable; for that in Italy he could make himself superior to the whole Alliance, since he was already in Possession of that Country, and could pour in what Troops he pleased by unexpensive Land Marches, whereby he might fill the whole Country with his numerous Body of Horse; which, being Master of the open Country as well as of all the fortify'd Places, he might easily subsist, whilst the Troops sent by the Allies to attack him in Italy, in order to force him to a Compliance with the Terms of the Treaty of Seville, must be both transported, and supported by Sea; it being well known to all who understand any Thing of the Geography of Italy, that it is impossible to force a Passage by Land into that Country, when it is provided with a powerful and well disciplin'd Army to oppose the Entry of an Enemy: That therefore it would be very impolitick to put any such Words into their Address, because it would persuade the Emperor, that the Allies had come to a Resolution not to attack him in Flanders or upon the Rhine, which, by taking away all Grounds of Fear from the Court of Vienna, would make them persevere in refusing to enter into any peaceable Measures; whereby those Alliances, which had been procured with so much Expence and Labour, would be render'd fruitless and of no Effect, and consequently a Pacification wouid become altogether impracticable.'
Then another Amendment was offer'd by Mr Wyndham, Member for Sudbury, viz. That they would support his Majesty's Engagements, so far as they related to the Interest of Great-Britain. This Motion was seconded by Mr Pulteney and those Gentlemen who were for the first Amendment: In Support thereof it was alledg'd, 'That this was agreeable to the Act of Settlement, whereby it is expresly provided; 'That this Nation shall not be obliged to enter into a War for the Defence of any Dominions not belonging to the Crown of Great-Britain:' 'That by Virtue of this Act his Majesty held the Crown of these Realms; and that therefore every Clause and Proviso thereof was to be exactly observ'd, except in so far as they had been or should be alter'd by Parliament; and that therefore the House could not well, by way of Address, go any farther than to say, that they would support his Majesty's Engagements, in so far as they related to the Interest of Great-Britain.'
To this it was replied by Lord Hervey, Sir Robert Walpole, and those other Members, who were for the Motion as at first propos'd, 'That such an Expression in their Address would seem to infinuate, that his Majesty had enter'd into Engagements that did not relate to the Interests of Great-Britain, which would be the greatest Ingratitude that could be imagin'd towards his Majesty, who in all his Measures had never shew'd the least Regard to any Thing but the Interest of Great-Britain, and the Ease and Security of the People thereof, as all those who had the Honour to serve him could testify, and upon their Honour declare: That they hoped every Member of that House was convinc'd, that his Majesty never would enter into any Engagement that was not absolutely necessary for procuring the Happiness and insuring the Safety of his People, and therefore it was quite unnecessary to confine the Words of their Address to such Engagements as related to the Interest of Great-Britain.' Upon this Occasion, Mr Heathcote, Member for Hindon, said, 'That with Respect to the Prerogative, he did not think, that the giving of Advice to his Majesty could ever be call'd an interfering with the Prerogative of the Crown, since it was the proper Business of Parliament, which was the King's great Council, to advise the Crown in all Matters of Importance; and it was what many Parliaments had done, and what they were always obliged to do: That the acting against the Emperor, in Flanders or upon the Rhine, was absolutely destructive to the Interest of England, and inconsistent with that Political Maxim of maintaining a Balance of Power in Europe, as had been acknowledg'd by all the Gentlemen who had spoke in the Debate; therefore he thought he had good Reason to believe, that no Minister, would dare to advise his Majesty to concur in such a Measure; for which Reason there was no need of advising his Majesty against a Measure, which it could not be supposed he would take: That in order to procure the long wish'd-for Peace, it was necessary to convince the World, that they would join heartily with his Majesty in all proper Measures for that End, which they could not more effectually do, than by shewing an Unanimity in their Resolves at the Beginning of the Session of Parliament: That such an Unanimity would certainly have its Weight Abroad, it would encourage our Allies, it would terrify our Enemies, and make both attentive to such Proposals as his Majesty should think proper to make to them; and it would testify to the World their Zeal for the Support of the present happy Establishment: That for his Part, he look'd upon all Addresses to be in their own Nature general, and that no Words which could be put into an Address could any Ways influence the future Resolutions of Parliament: He look'd upon them only as Words of Course, and no more Obligatory than the penal Words of a Bond, which every one knows obliges the Debtor to the Payment of nothing more than the principal Sum borrow'd, with Interest and Costs of Suit: That the declaring in the Address, that they would support the King's Engagements, necessarily implies that such Engagements do relate to the Interest of England; and if afterwards it should appear, that any one of them did not, he would not at all think himself obliged by the general Words of the Address to approve of, or support any such Engagement: That he believ'd he should vote for an Address in the Terms as at first proposed, but that his Voting in that way might not be construed so as to anticipate his Assent to any Thing thereafter proposed, he thought it proper to declare, That by supporting his Majesty's Engagements, he neither meant to agree to the continuing of the Hessians in the Pay of Great-Britain; nor to approve of submitting tamely to the Depredations of the Spaniards, nor of allowing them to blockade Gibraltar; nor did he approve of submitting passively to the Incroachments of the French in the West-Indies; or to the Opening the Port and Harbour of Dunkirk; nor would he from thence think himself obliged to approve of any Measure, which he should not at the Time of proposing think expedient, and consistent with the real and true Interest of Great-Britain: That by assuring his Majesty, that the House would support his Engagements, he meant to support no other Engagements, than such as the House should judge to be for the Advantage of the Nation: That for his Part, he was very sure that his Majesty would enter into none but such as were so; and if it should appear that any other Sort of Engagement had been enter'd into, he would take it to be an Engagement of the Minister's, and not an Engagement of the King's; and consequently that the Words of the Address did not oblige the House, or any Member of the House, to support the same in any Manner of Way. For these Reasons, he was of Opinion, That the Address ought to be in the Terms first proposed.' Sir Joseph Jekyll and several other Members declaring that they understood Addresses in the same Manner, the Question was put, and it passed without a Division, to address his Majesty in the Terms first proposed without any Amendment.
An Address resolv'd on, and presented.
Hereupon a Committee was appointed to draw up an Address accordingly, and the same being drawn up, and reported next Day to the House, was agreed to, and presented to his Majesty by the whole House as follows:
Most gracious Sovereign,
'We your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal Subjects, the Commons of Great Britain in Parliament assembled, beg Leave to return our sincere Thanks for your Majesty's most gracious Speech from the Throne.
'We cannot but in Gratitude acknowledge your Majesty's Goodness, in endeavouring to have the Conditions of the Treaty of Seville fulfilled and executed in such Manner as might best secure a general Pacification, and be conformable to your Engagements with your Allies.
'And out of a just Sense of the Blessings we enjoy, we think it our Duty to declare our entire Considence in your Royal Care and Concern for the Honour and Interest of your People, and our perfect Reliance upon your Majesty's Wisdom and Justice, in doing every Thing that shall depend upon you to procure the Satisfaction due to your Allies, by such Means as shall be the most desirable; or, if they prove ineffectual, by such as shall be absolutely necessary.
'We are firmly resolved to continue our utmost Zeal and Vigour in Support of your Majesty and your Engagements; esteeming this the least Part of our Duty, when we consider, that those Engagements are the Effect of your Vigilance for the Welfare of your Subjects.
'We assure your Majesty, that we will give all possible Dispatch to the Publick Business as it shall from Time to Time be brought before us: That as your People feel the Happiness of your Reign, so your Majesty may feel the Ease of it. And from a dutiful Regard to your Honour and Dignity, and a just Concern for the true Interest of our Country, which we shall always look upon as indispensible and inseparable Obligations, we have the greatest Satisfaction in assuring your Majesty, that we will, with all Chearfulness, grant such Supplies as shall be necessary for the Service of the ensuing Year; and effectually enable your Majesty to make good your Engagements with your Allies.
'Your Majesty's Goodness to your People is very apparent in your avoiding to bring any unnecessary Burthens upon them: And it is the least Return we can make for it, to assure your Majesty, That in case the Circumstances of Publick Affairs shall oblige you to ask the farther Advice and Assistance of your faithful Commons, we will, upon every Occasion, discharge our Duty to your Majesty and those we represent, with that Chearfulness and Affection which become a British House of Commons, tender and jealous for the Honour of the Crown, careful and solicitous for the Glory and Prosperity of the Kingdom.
To this his Majesty return'd the following Answer.
The King's Answer thereto.
"I Return you my hearty Thanks for this dutiful and loyal Address. The Zeal and Affection you express for me, and the Assurances you have given me of enabling me to make good my Engagements with my Allies, will, I am persuaded, have a very good Effect at this critical and important Conjuncture.
A Bill brought in to prevent Pensioners from Sitting in the House of Commons.
February 1. The House order'd, 'That Leave be given to bring in a Bill, for making more effectual the Laws in Being for disabling Persons, from being chosen Members of, or sitting or voting in the House of Commons, who have any Pension during Pleasure, or for any Number of Years, or any Office held in Trust for them.
Feb. 2. In pursuance of the above Order a Bill was accordingly brought in, which was read the first Time, and order'd to be read a second Time.
Debate concerning the continuing 12,000 Hessian Forces in British Pay.
Feb. 3. The House, in a Grand Committee on the Supply, consider'd of the Estimate of the Charge of the Hessian Troops; upon which there ensued a warm Debate. The Country-Party were against continuing those Troops in our Pay, because they apprehended that they could not be of any Service to Great Britain, for as we were surrounded by the Sea, our Fleet was our only real and proper Security; and therefore we had no Use for the maintaining of Standing Armies either at Home or Abroad, more particularly at a Time of perfect Tranquility: They alledg'd, 'That if the Apprehension of a War being speedily to break out should be made an Argument for keeping Foreign Troops in our Pay, we could never be without them; for Europe never was, nor ever could be in such Circumstances, as that it could be said, there was no Reason for having any Apprehension of a War: That many Wars might happen upon the Continent with which we had nothing to do; and if we should at any Time have the Misfortune of being involv'd in any War, it was then time enough to take Foreign Troops into our Pay, but 'till then there was no Necessity for it, for we should always find Troops enough in Europe to hire, whenever we had Occasion for them: That therefore the keeping of such Troops in Pay at present, when we had no Occasion for them, was a Wasting of the publick Money, which every Man, who has any Regard to the Interest and Welfare of his Native Country, ought to prevent as far as lies in his Power.' To this it was answer'd by the Courtiers, 'That tho' we were disjoin'd by the Sea from the Continent of Europe, yet as long as we had any Trade or Communication with any of the Countries upon the Continent, we could not help being involv'd in some of their Quarrels, as well as having Quarrels of our own with some of them: That by Means of our Influence upon the Affairs of the Continent we had got a great many Advantages in Trade, and in order to maintain those Advanges we had got, we were obliged from Time to Time to interfere in the Quarrels among Foreign Princes: That some of the Countries of Europe had so little Communication with the Sea, that they were entirely out of the Reach of our Fleet, and therefore, in case they laid the Trade of our Subjects in their Dominions under any Hardships or Inconveniencies, or offer'd us any other Injury or Indignity, we had no other way of Righting or Revenging ourselves, but by getting some of their powerful Neighbours and Rivals upon the Continent to engage in our Quarrel, which we could never procure without engaging in some of theirs: That this Consideration first brought on the Treaty of Hanover, and obliged us to take the Hessian Troops into our Pay: That such Measures prevented the fatal Effects of the Treaty of Vienna between the Emperor and Spain, and at last brought about the Treaty of Seville, by which Spain was effectually disunited from the Emperor; but that in order to do this, we were obliged to enter into some new Engagements with Spain, by which we had bound ourselves to see 6000 Spanish Troops introduc'd into Italy, to secure the eventual Succession of the Infante Don Carlos to the Dutchies of Tuscany, Parma and Placentia: That the Emperor not only refused to consentamicably to the Introduction of those Spanish Troops, but had fill'd Italy with his Troops, in order to repel the Spaniards by Force, in case we and our Allies offer'd to introduce them without his Consent: That we had already seen the good Effects of having those Hessian Troops in our Pay; and the Continuance of them might probably have such an Influence upon the Emperor, as at last to induce him to agree to reasonable Terms; whereas, if we should now dismiss them, it would free the Emperor from all Fears of being attack'd upon that Side: That thereupon he would become more obstinate, and his Obstinacy would certainly involve Europe in a general War, which would cost us a great many Millions; so that they could not but look upon dismissing the Hessian Troops, at this Time, as a very unreasonable and foolish Piece of Thrist, because we thereby run the great Risk of losing Millions, for the Sake of saving a Year's Subsidy to those Troops.' Then the Question being put, it was resolv'd, That 241,259 l. 1 s. 3d. be granted to his Majesty, for defraying the Expence of 12,000 Hessians taken into his Majesty's Pay, for the Service of the Year 1731.
A Petition from several Bristol Merchants trading to America, complaining of the Spanish Depredations;
Feb. 6. A Petition of the Merchants and other Traders of the City of Bristol, trading to his Majesty's Colonies in America, was presented to the House, complaining of the great Interruptions of their Trade to the said Colonies, and the Depredations of the Spaniards for several Years past; who, notwithstanding the Resolutions of that House, [See Page 44.] and his Majesty's Endeavours to obtain for his Subject just and reasonable Satisfaction, still continued their Depredations, and had lately taken and plunder'd several Ships and Vessels belonging to Bristol and other British Ports, and had treated such as had fallen into their Hands in a very barbarous and cruel Manner, and therefore praying the Consideration of the House, and such timely and adequate Remedy as to the House should seem fit.
Which is referr'd to a Committee of the whole House.
This Petition was referr'd to a Committee of the whole House.
Debate concerning the Subsidy to the D. of Wolsenbuttel.
Feb. 10. The House resolv'd itself again into a Committee of the whole House, to consider farther of the Supply granted to his Majesty, when a Debate arose about the Subsidy payable to the Duke of Wolsenbuttel. The Country-Party insisted that all those Subsidies were of no Service to Great Britain; and that they were paid only for the sake of protecting his Majesty's Foreign Dominions, which was contrary to the following Clause in the Act of Settlement; viz. ' That in case the Crown shall come to any Person not 'a Native of England, this Nation shall not be obliged to a ' War in Defence of Dominions not belonging to this Crown.' To this the Courtiers answer'd, 'That all the Quarrel we had with the Emperor was upon account of the Interest and Trade of England, and not at all on account of any of his Majesty's Foreign Dominions; so that if they should be involv'd in a War, it would be so far from involving Great Britain in any War upon account of them, that the Case would be directly the contrary; they would be involved in a War for Defence of the Trade and Commerce of Great-Britain: That since we had a Quarrel with the Emperor, who was a very powerful Prince upon the Continent, we had no Way of Revenging this Quarrel, but by engaging as many Princes upon the Continent as we could on our Side; and that therefore it was necessary to continue those Subsidies 'till we could bring the Emperor to our Terms.' Then the Question being put, the Committee likewise agreed to the continuing of this Subsidy, and resolv'd, that the Sum of 25,000 l. be granted to his Majesty, for one Year's Subsidy to the Duke of Brunswick Lunenburgh Wolfenbuttel.
Petitions against the Proceedings at Law being in Latin; ; Which are referr'd to a Committee.
Feb. 11. Two Petitions were presented to the House, from the Quarter-Sessions of the Peace held for the East and North Ridings of Yorkshire, complaining, 'That the obliging Grand-Jury-Men, at the Sessions of the Peace, to make their Presentments in a Language, which few of them understood; and the suffering in any of the Proceedings of the Courts of Justice, or in any of the Transactions of the Law, whereby the Person or Property of the Subject may be affected, the Use of a Language not intelligible and of a Character not legible, but by the Learned in the Law, were great Occasions of the Delay of Justice, and gave Room to most dangerous Frauds: That Special Pleadings, by their Intricacy and Dilatoriness, render'd the Prosecution of the Rights of the Subject difficult and expensive: That the Recovery of small Debts, as the Law then stood, was impracticable, and the Number of Attornies excessive; and praying the House to take these Grievances into Consideration, and to give such Remedy as to the House shall seem meet.' These Petitions were order'd to be referr'd to a Committee.
The Pension-Bill pass'd the House of Commons: But rejected by the Lords.
Feb. 17. The Pension-Bill was read the third Time and pass'd; and Mr Sandys was order'd to carry it to the Lords and desire their Concurrence: But their Lordships rejected it on the second Reading.
Petition from the Sugar Colonies in America. ; Which is referr'd to a Committee.
Feb. 23. A Petition of several Merchants, Planters and others, trading to and interested in his Majesty's Sugar Colonies in America, was presented to the House in behalf of themselves and many others, complaining, That divers of his Majesty's Subjects, residing within his Dominions in America, and elsewhere, had of late Years carried on a Trade to the Foreign Sugar-Colonies in America, from whence they were supplied with Sugar, Rum, Molosses, and their other Productions, instead of those from our own Colonies, as well as with Foreign European Goods and Manufactures, contrary to the Intention of the Laws in Being, and the Treaty made with France in 1686; and as that new Method of Trade encreased and enriched the Colonies of other Nations, so it was injurious to the Trade of this Kingdom, and greatly impoverished the British Sugar-Colonies; and therefore the Petitioners prayed the Consideration of the House, and such Relief as the House should think fit. This Petition was referred to the Consideration of a Committee.
Petition of the Liverpool-Merchants complaining of the Depredations of the Spaniards in the West-Indies; ; Which is referr'd to a Committee of the whole House.
Feb. 25. A Petition of the Corporation of Liverpool, and also of the Merchants trading from that Port to his Majesty's Colonies in the West-Indies, was presented to the House and read; complaining of their Sufferings by the continued Depredations of the Spaniards, who had treated such as had fallen into their Hands in a very barbarous and cruel Manner, and praying the Consideration of the House, and such Redress as the House should think fit: This Petition was referred to a Committee of the whole House.
Motion for appointing a Committee to inquire if any Members of the House had Pensions from the Crown.
March 3. The Pension-Bill having been, on the Day before, rejected by the Lords on the second Reading thereof, a Motion was made by Mr Sandys, That a Committee be appointed to inquire whether any Member of the House had directly or indirectly any Pensions during Pleasure, or for any Number of Years, or any Offices from the Crown holden in Trust for them, in part or in the whole. Tho' the Pension-Bill had met with no Opposition in the House of Commons, yet this Motion was vigorously oppos'd by the Courtiers; and the Question being put on Mr Sandys's Motion, it was carried in the Negative by 206 against 143.
Motion for a Bill to prevent the Translation of Bishops.
March 4. A Motion was made, and the Question put, That leave be given to bring in a Bill, To prevent the Translation of Bishops; which occasion'd a Debate. In Support of the Motion it was urg'd, 'That such a Bill was necessary to prevent a too great Dependence of that Part of the Legislature upon the Crown.' To this the Courtiers answer'd, 'That such a Law would be a great Incroachment upon the Prerogative of the Crown, and an Injury to the Rights of the Clergy.' Then the Question being put on the Motion, it passed in the Negative. This Motion was generally suppos'd to be owing to a remarkable Speech having been made, in the House of Lords, against the Pension-Bill, by Dr S— Bishop of B—r, the Day before, and to the Unanimity which appear'd in the reverend Bench in their Opposition to that Bill.
The English Law-Bill twice read, and order'd to be printed;
The same Day Sir George Saville, Bart. Member for Yorkshire, presented to the House, a Bill to enact, That all Proceedings in Courts of Justice should be in English, which was read the first Time, and order'd to be read a second Time, and likewise to be printed.
While this Bill was depending in the House, great Opposition was made to it, and the principal Arguments insisted on were, 'That if the Language and Writing of the Law should be alter'd, and made according to the modern Way of Speaking and Writing, no one would ever be at the Pains to study that ancient Language and Writing, which most of our old valuable Records are wrote in, so that the Use of them would in a few Years be entirely lost: That the Method of distributing Justice was now established according to a most concise and regular Form, which must be entirely alter'd, if the Language and Methods of Pleading should be chang'd: That this would necessarily produce such a Confusion, that it would cost many Years painful and troublesome Application, before the new Forms could be settled in a certain and regular Course of Proceedings; so that the making of those Alterations would occasion greater Delay of Justice; give more Room to dangerous Frauds; render the Prosecution of the Rights of the Subject more difficult and expensive; the Recovery of small Debts more impracticable; and the Number of Attornies more excessive than heretofore.' To these Objections it was answer'd by the Advocates for the Bill, 'That tho' both the Language and Writing of the Law should be alter'd, there would be no Danger of losing the Use of our ancient Records; because, as long as we have any such, there always will be some Men, who either out of Curiosity, or for the sake of Gain, will make it their Business to understand both the Language and Character in which they are wrote, in the same Manner as we find among us now several Gentlemen, who make it their Business to learn to understand the Language and Character of Manuscripts, much ancienter than any of our Records: That a very few of such Law-Antiquarians will suffice, considering the little Occasion we have in any Law Proceedings to have Recourse to any very ancient Records; and that when they are made use of, they often do more Harm than Good; it being necessary for every Nation to have private Property determined and ascertained by a continued Possession for a moderate Term of Years.' And as to the Set-Forms of the Law, it was alledg'd, 'That we had already too many of them, and that they were of Opinion that nothing so much perplex'd and retarded the Proceedings of the Courts of Justice, as a too nice Observance of the establish'd Forms: That such Forms are generally brought, for the sake of new Fees, to such a Bulk by the Lawyers of all Countries, that every Country have found it necessary from Time to Time to curtail and abridge them: That Justice was generally the most speedily, and the most impartially, distributed in those Places where the fewest Forms were observ'd: That therefore they thought the Destruction of our Law-Forms was a good Argument for the Bill, instead of being one against it; because it would take up a considerable Time, before the Lawyers could again perplex the Course of Justice, with a Number of useless Forms and Ceremonies.'
And passes into a Law.
This Bill afterwards pass'd both Houses, and obtain'd the Royal Assent, notwithstanding the Opposition of the whole Body of the Lawyers.
The Commons, in a Grand Committee, consider of the Petitions of the Bristol and Liverpool Merchants relating to the Spanish Depredations. ; And resolve to address his Majesty on that Affair.
March 5. The House, in a Grand Committee, consider'd of the Petitions of the Merchants of Bristol and Liverpool, relating to the Depredations of the Spaniards: And after hearing Council for the Petitioners, and examining several Captains and Owners of Ships, who gave an Account of a very great Number of British Ships, taken or plunder'd by the Spaniards, without any just Pretence of their having been carrying on any contraband Trade with any of the Spanish Dominions, came to the following Resolutions, viz. 1. That the Petitioners had fully proved and made good the Allegations of their Petition. II. That an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, that he would be graciously pleased to continue his Endeavours to prevent the Depredations of the Spaniards for the future; to procure full Satisfaction for the Damages then sustain'd; and to secure to the British Subjects the full and uninterrupted Exercise of their Trade and Navigation to and from the British Colonies in America. These Resolutions being reported were agreed to by the House.
Debate concerning that Address.
Then a Motion was made for the following Amendment to the above Address, viz. And to procure a full, prompt and speedy Satisfaction; on which there was a long Debate. Those who were for the Motion insisted, 'That it was the Business of Parliament to protect, or take Care that the Subjects should be protected from all Injuries and Wrongs both at Home and Abroad; and that the Case before them was an Injury of so high a Nature, that it required not only a full, but a prompt and speedy, Redress. The Courtiers hereupon endeavour'd to shew, 'That the Adding those Words would look as if the House had a Diffidence in his Majesty's Conduct and Concern for the Good of his Subjects: At last the Question being put it was carried against Adding those Words, by 207 against 135.
A Bill order'd to be brought in for Relief of the Sugar-Colonies in America.
March 22. Upon the Report of the Committee, to whom the Petition of the Merchants trading to, and interested in, his Majesty's Sugar-Colonies in America had been referr'd, a Bill was order'd to be brought in for better securing and encouraging the Trade of those Colonies.
March 26. The said Bill was presented to the House by Sir John Rushout, Bart. Member for Evesham, and committed to a Committee of the whole House.
Petition from the Agent for Massachuset's-Bay, and Conecticut against the said Bill;
April 2. A Petition of Francis Wilks, Agent for Massachuset's-Bay, and for Connecticut in New-England, against the said Bill, was presented and read, and referr'd to the above Committee.
Which passes the Commons.
April 14. The Sugar-Colony Bill was read the third Time and pass'd: But was afterwards dropt in the House of Lords.
Motion for an Address to the King to discharge the 12,000 Hessian Forces.
April 30. A Motion was made, and the Question put, That an humble Address be presented to desire his Majesty, That he will be graciously pleased, for the Ease of his Subjects of this Kingdom, to give Orders for discharging the 12,000 Men of the Troops of the Landgrave of HesseCassel, then in the Pay of his Majesty as King of Great Britain: But after some Debate, it passed in the Negative.
Address to the King for the State of the Trade of the Colonies in America, to be laid before the House next Session, by the Board of Trade.
May 5. It was resolv'd, That an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, That he will be graciously pleased to give Directions to the Commissioners for Trade and Plantations, to prepare a Representation to be laid before the House, in the next Session of Parliament, of the State of his Majesty's Colonies and Plantations in America, with respect to any Laws made, Manufactures set up, and Trade carried on there, which may affect the Trade, Navigation and Manufactures of this Kingdom.
Motion for a farther Address on that Subject.
Then a Motion was made, and the Question put, That an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, That he will be graciously pleased to give such Orders and Instructions to the several Governors of his Colonies and Plantations in America, as his Majesty shall think most proper, to prevent the setting up, or to discourage the Improvement in, any of the said Colonies, of Woolen, Linnen, Iron, and other Manufactures, which may interfere with, and be prejudicial to the Manufactures of this Kingdom: But it pass'd in the Negative.
The King's Answer to the above Address.
May 6. The above Address was presented to the King; to which his Majesty return'd for Answer, "That he would give Directions accordingly."
Motion for an Address relating to the Exports and Imports of the American Colonies.
May 7. A Motion was made, and the Question put, That an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, That he will be pleased to give Orders, that the proper Officers do prepare an Account to be laid before that House, in the next Session of Parliament, of the Value of the Exports and Imports between this Kingdom and his Majesty's Plantations in America, and all foreign Countries, from Christmas 1720 to Christmas 1730, distinguishing each Year, in each Plantation or foreign Country: But the Question being put, it passed in the Negative.
The same Day the King came to the House of Peers, and the Commons being come thither, his Majesty made the following Speech:
King's Speech at putting an End to the Fourth Session.
My Lords and Gentlemen,
"It is a great Pleasure to me, that, at the Close of this Session of Parliament, I am able to acquaint you, that the Hopes I had conceived and given you, of seeing very suddenly a happy Period put to the Troubles and Disorders which had been so long apprehended, are now, by the Treaty signed at Vienna, answer'd and accomplish'd.
"A Project of a Convention betwixt the Emperor and the Maritime Powers, for accommodating the Differences and Disputes that were subsisting, having been formed, the Treaty is concluded and signed by me and the Emperor; and is now under the Consideration of the States General, the Forms of that Government not admitting a previous Concert in a Negotiation of this Nature: And, as this Treaty principally regards the Execution of the Treaty of Seville, it is likewise communicated to the Courts of France and Spain, as Parties to the Treaty of Seville: And I have just received Advice, that the Ratifications between me and the Emperor are exchang'd.
"The Conditions and Engagements, which I have enter'd into upon this Occasion, are agreeable to that necessary Concern, which this Nation must always have for the Security and Preservation of the Balance of Power in Europe: And as the uncertain and violent State of Affairs, to which Europe was reduced, and the Mischiefs of an immediate general War, which began to be thought unavoidable, are now removed; this happy Turn duly improved, with a just Regard to our former Alliances which it shall be my Care to preserve, gives us a favourable Prospect of seeing the Publick Tranquility re-established.
Gentlemen of the House of Commons,
"I return you my Thanks for the effectual Supplies, which you have granted me for the Service of the present Year, and for the proper Disposition you have made of the Publick Funds, towards lessening and discharging the National Debt: The remarkable Dispatch and Unanimity which you have shewn, at this critical Conjuncture, has added very much to the Credit and Weight of your Proceedings; and you shall find as great a Readiness on my part to ease the Burthens of my People, as soon as the Circumstances and Situation of Affairs will admit of it, as you have shewn to raise the Supplies necessary for the Service of the Publick.
My Lords and Gentlemen,
"I hope at your Return into the Country, you will find all Attempts to raise a Spirit of Discontent among my People, by unjust Clamours and Misrepresentations, vain and ineffectual. All malicious Insinuations to the Prejudice of my Measures must surely vanish, when it shall appear that my first and principal Care has been for the Interest and Honour of this Kingdom. Let it be your Endeavour to remove all groundless Jealousies and Apprehensions, that the Satisfaction of this Nation may be as general, as it is my earnest Desire that their Happiness may be; let all my People, let all Orders of Men enjoy, quietly and unenvied, the Rights, Privileges, and Indulgences, which by Law they are intitled to; let no Innovations disturb any Part of my Subjects in the Possession of their legal Property; let all that are zealous in the Support of me and my Government partake in common the Benefits of the present happy Establishment; and let your GoodWill to one another be as extensive as my Protection, which all my good and faithful Subjects have an equal Right to, and may equally depend upon."
The Parliament prorogued.
Then the Lord Chancellor prorogued the Parliament to the 27th of July: They were afterwards farther prorogued to the 13th of January.