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 Fifth Session of the First Parliament of King George II.
King's Speech at opening the Fifth Session.
"It is a great Pleasure to me, that I am able to acquaint you, that the Expectations which I have from Time to Time given you, of seeing the general Tranquility of Europe restored and established, are now fully answer'd.
"The Share of Credit and Influence, which the Crown of Great-Britain has had in bringing about this difficult and desirable Work, and which redounds so much to the Honour and Interest of this Nation; as it is universally con fessed Abroad, will, I am confident, be agreeable to my People, and acknowledged with Gratitude by you.
"It is well known, that from the Time of concluding the Quadruple Alliance, the several Courts of Europe have been employed in finding Means to execute what the principal Powers had agreed to, for the Succession of Tuscany and Parma, in favour of an Infant of Spain; but the various jarring and contending Interests, hard to be reconciled and united in effectuating a Point of so much Importance; the extended Views and Hopes of obtaining on every Side farther Advantages; and the natural Jealousies and Distrusts arising among the several Powers concerned, from such opposite Principles and Purposes, had kept in Suspence and unexecuted, what the Court of Spain had very much at Heart; and occasioned such Troubles and Disturbances, as embarrassed the Affairs of Europe for many Years, and particularly affected the Interests of this Nation.
"You have from Time to Time been informed of the different Measures and Negotiations, that have on all Sides been carrying on during this long unsettled State of Affairs; and you have enabled me to persevere in maintaining the Rights and Possessions of this Kingdom, and in preserving the Peace and Balance of Europe.
"The Preliminary Articles and the subsequent Transactions thereupon not answering the Expectations of the Court of Spain, and creating a Coolness and Dissatisfaction among the contracting Parties of the first Treaty of Vienna, laid the Foundation of the Treaty of Seville, and thereby dissolved that Union, which had raised so many Apprehensions, and so long alarmed the World.
"The Execution of the Treaty of Seville was the great Difficulty that still remained; and this, unsurmountable as it was thought, I have by your Support, and by the Confidence you reposed in me, been able to overcome by just and honourable Treaties, without coming to Extremities, and without the Hazard and Expence of a general Rupture, or kindling a War in any Part of Europe.
"Parma and Placentia are now in the actual Possession of the Infant Don Carlos; the six thousand Spaniards are quietly admitted and quartered in the Dutchy of Tuscany, to secure, by the express Consent and Agreement of the Great Duke, the Reversion of his Dominions; and a Family-Convention is made between the Courts of Spain and Tuscany, for preserving Peace and Friendship between those two Houses, during the Life of the Great Duke.
"For perfecting and finishing this tedious Work, conducted through a Series of infinite Changes and Vicissitudes, and incumbered with all the different Views of Interest and Ambition, I concluded the late Treaty of Vienna; wherein I have entered into no Engagements contrary to former Treaties, or tending either to aggrandize or reduce the Power or Weight of any Potentate, calculated purely for preserving a due Balance, and to avoid such Confusion, as new Changes and Convulsions upon future Events would unavoidably create, and wherein GreatBritain could never stand by, and be an idle Spectator.
"When this shall be duly confidered, and it shall be seen that the Wounds which have been long bleeding are intirely healed, groundless Jealoufies will cease, ill Humours will subside, and Peace and good Harmony return together; all Diffidence and Distrust, the natural Effect of repeated Delays, artfully instilled and industriously improved and aggravated, will be removed; and mutual Satisfaction be the Consequence of the punctual and effectual Performance of all Engagements on our Side, which will ever be remembered with great Regard and Honour to this Crown and Nation, and leave an indispensible Obligation upon those that are immediately concern'd, to make such Returns as Honour and Justice call for and demand.
"The Estimates for the Service of the current Year shall be prepar'd and laid before you, which you will observe to be considerably less than those of former Years: It is a Pleasure to me to give Ease to my Subjects, whenever the Welfare of the Publick will admit of it. You have seen the happy Effects of your former Zeal and Resolution; Success has attended my Measures, and you reap the Fruit of my Endeavours and of your Confidence in me; and it must be a Satisfaction to you to reflect, that all the Expences, which you have lately made, are amply recompensed by preventing and avoiding far greater.
"This happy Situation of Affairs, I promise myself, will inspire you all with such Temper and Unanimity, and such a seasonable Zeal for the Publick Good, as becomes a Parliament sensible of the great Blessings they enjoy: The Duty and Affections of my Subjects are all the Return I desire for my paternal Love and Concern for them. My Government has no Security, but what is equally conducive to your Happiness and to the Protection of my People; and your Prosperity has no Foundation, but in the Defence and Support of my Government; Our Safety is mutual, our Interests are inseparable."
Debate on the Lord Hervey's Motion for an Address of Thanks. ; Mr Clutterbuck.
The Commons being return'd to their House, Mr Speaker reported his Majesty's Speech, and thereupon the Lord (fn. 1)Hervey rose up, and after having enumerated the many Difficulties this Nation was brought under by the Intrigues of our Enemies Abroad, and the many Dangers and Expences we should have been inevitably involv'd in, if the War with which Europe was threaten'd, had not been prevented by his Majesty's great Foresight and wise Measures; by the good Success of which the Tranquility of Europe was settled and establish'd upon a firm and lasting Foundation; his Lordship mov'd, 'That an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, to return his Majesty the Thanks of this House for his most gracious Speech from the Throne; to declare our highest Satisfaction in seeing the general Tranquility of Europe restor'd and establish'd by his Majesty's Credit and Influence, with so much Glory to the Crown of Great Britain, and Honour to this Nation; to acknowledge with Gratitude his Majesty's unweary'd Endeavours for the Happiness of his People, and his Goodness in pursuing with Steadiness and Constancy such Measures, as best conduced to the preserving the Rights and Possessions of these Kingdoms; to express our just Sense of his Majesty's great Wisdom, in being able to surmount the various Difficulties that so long embarass'd the Affairs of Europe, and particularly affected the Interests of Great Britain; and by pacisick Measures and Negotiations to bring to a happy Conclusion the Disputes, that for many Years had been subsisting and depending; and by just and honourable Treaties to settle and re establish the Publick Tranquility, without the Hazard and Expence of a general Rupture, or kindling a War in any Part of Europe; to assure his Majesty that this House, sensible of the happy Effects of the Considence so justly reposed in his Majesty, and the Blessings we enjoy under his Government, will with Chearfulness grant the Supplies necessary for the Service of the current Year, for the Defence and Support of his Majesty's Government, and for the Security and Protection of his People.' His Lordship was seconded by Mr Clutterbuck (fn. 2), who explain'd the several jarring Interests of Europe, which had all been happily reconcil'd by his Majesty's Wisdom and good Conduct; and added, 'That as our Security depends upon the Preservation of the Balance of Power in Europe, we could not in common Prudence have sat unconcern'd, and seen any one of the Powers of Europe swallow'd up by another: That if any War had broke out, we must necessarily have been concern'd, and every Man was sensible of the fatal Effects such a War might have been attended with: That we were now free from all such Apprehensions; and as the present Happiness and Tranquility not only of this Nation, but of Europe in general, was owing to the prudent and pacifick Measures pursu'd by his Majesty, he could not but approve of the Terms of Addressing proposed, and therefore he seconded the Motion.'
Sir Wilf. Lawson.
'I shall join with all my Heart in an Address of Thanks to his Majesty, for his most gracious Speech from the Throne; but I cannot agree with descending so far into Particulars, as are contain'd in the Motion made by the noble Lord who spoke first, and seconded by the honourable Gentleman who spoke last. The Treaties, upon which it is pretended, that the Tranquility of Europe and the Happiness of this Nation are so firmly and lastingly establish'd, are not now before the House; and therefore, from my own Knowledge, I can say nothing about them, nor can I form a Judgment of the Honour or Advantage which will from thence accrue to this Kingdom: But if I judge from what I hear or see abroad in the World, I must be of Opinion, that notwithstanding the great Things we have done for the Crown of Spain, and the Favours we have procured for the royal Family of that Kingdom, we have as yet received very little Satisfaction for the Injuries done by them to this Nation. I have seen publish'd, in our News-Papers, an Order of Instructions from his Catholick Majesty to the Governors of his Ports in the Indies, relating to the Depredations committed by the Spaniards upon our Merchants trading to those Seas, but I cannot look upon this Order as any Satisfaction for the Depredations already committed; neither can I look upon it as a sufficient Check against the committing of any in Time to come: There are so many Conditions in this Order, so many Ifs and Ands, that it affords a large Scope to the Spaniards in that Part of the World, to go on in the taking or plundering of our Merchants Ships, under the Pretence of their being concerned in some illicit Commerce, or of their being found navigating in those Latitudes, where the Spaniards may say they ought not to navigate. These Orders are so general, that the Captains of the Spanish Guarda-Costa's and the Governors, who are generally Partners with the Captains, may put any Construction they please upon them; and we may expect, that the Construction to be put upon them will be most unfavourable for the Subjects of this Nation. I shall not, Sir, at present make any Motion, but as a Member of this House, I thought it incumbent upon me to declare my Sentiments in an Affair, in which the Honour of this House and the Interest of the Nation are so much concern'd.
'I rise not only to offer my Sentiments against the Terms of the Address proposed, but likewise to make a Motion. It has, Sir, upon such an Occasion, been the ancient Custom of this House, to present an Address of Thanks to his Majesty, for his most gracious Speech from the Throne, but such Addresses were in former Days always in general Terms; there were in them no flattering Paragraphs, no long Compliments made to the Throne, for Transactions and Successes which had never been laid before the House, and of which, by a necessary Consequence, the House must have been supposed to have been entirely ignorant: It is true, Sir, we have of late Years fallen into a Custom of Complimenting the Throne upon every such Occasion with long Addresses, and this Custom has been follow'd so long, that I am afraid it may at last become a Vote of course, to vote an Address to his Majesty, in such Terms as shall be concerted by those very Men, whose Measures are approv'd of by the Compliment made to the Throne. I confess, Sir, that I am so little of a Courtier, that I cannot return Thanks for what I know nothing of; nor can I applaud before I know a Reason for such Applause. I am not at all against an Address of Thanks in the ancient usual Style; but tho' I should happen to be single and alone in my Opposition, which I hope I shall not, yet I am resolv'd to oppose Addressing in the Terms moved for, if it were for no other Reason but this, that such a Motion may not stand upon the Journals of this House, as agreed to Nem. Con: For if not taken Notice of in Time, such humble Addresses to the Throne may at last come to pass as a Matter of course; and be as little regarded or opposed, as some Affairs now are, which at first stood a long Contest before they could be introduc'd.
Sir, It is no new Thing in me to oppose such Addresses; I have always opposed them; and though I do not thereby appear to be a good Courtier, yet it shews that I have some Respect for the Honour and Dignity of this House; besides, Sir, when such Addresses have been proposed, it has been promised, and we have been assured, that no Advantage should afterwards be taken of any Words contain'd in the complimenting Part of such Address; but every Member in this House knows, that when the House had an Opportunity of examining Things more particularly, and Debates ensued thereupon, they have then been told that they could not censure any of the past Transactions, because they had approv'd of them all by their Address of Thanks to his Majesty for his most gracious Speech from the Throne. I hope, Sir, for the sake of my Country, that all Things are well, that our Affairs both Abroad and at Home are in that prosperous Condition, in which they have been represented to us; but as we cannot as yet judge from the Effects, and as the Treaties, from which this great Prosperity and lasting Tranquility is to arise, have not yet been laid before us; I can not but look upon it as an Anticipation of the Resolutions of this House to thank his Majesty for those Treaties, which we have not as yet had any Opportunity either to peruse or consider; and therefore I move, That the first Part only of the Motion already made should stand, and that all the other complimenting Paragraphs should be left out.
Mr W. Pulteney.
Then Mr William Pulteney (fn. 3)spoke as follows:
'I am very willing that an Address of Thanks be presented to his Majesty, for his most gracious Speech from the Throne; but I cannot agree to an Address in the Terms proposed by the noble Lord who made the Motion, because they seem to imply an Approbation of all that has been transacted or negotiated by his Majesty's Ministers; I am the more obliged upon this Occasion to declare my Opinion, because of the Motion's having been made by that noble Member, lest some of my Friends should be thereby misled, and made to believe that I am for the Motion in its full Extent. We ought to thank his Majesty for his most gracious Speech, but I cannot see any Reason we have to thank him for our Liberties and Properties: They are secured to us by our Constitution; and as Subjects of Great Britain we have a natural Right to them, and his Majesty is far from having the least Thought of making any Incroachments upon them: But as for the Treaties and Negotiations abroad, and the Honours and Advantages we have by them acquir'd, I do not think that we can take Notice of them, for 'till they be laid before the House, we must be presumed to be ignorant of them. For my own part I shall be glad to know that we are now at last got into a right Way; but supposing that all is now right with us, I am certain there was a Time some Years ago, when we might have been as right as we are now, and upon the same Conditions. If we had embraced that Opportunity, a great deal of Money would have been saved to the Nation; but in those Days, the Guaranty of the Pragmatick-Sanction was looked on as inconsistent with the Interest and Happiness of this Nation, and was represented as such even by those who have now agreed to it; what were their Reasons for representing it in such a hideous Shape at that Time, and for placing it now in so amiable a View, I cannot comprehend: For my own Part, Sir, I do not see any Necessity we were under of agreeing to it, even at this present Time; for by our agreeing to that Guaranty, we lay ourselves under an Obligation of assisting the Austrian Family, whenever they shall be attacked by any Potentate whatever, except the Grand Signior; they may happen to be attacked, when it will be much against the Interest of this Nation, to engage itself in a War upon any foreign Account; and if they should acquire many more Territories, it may be for the Interest of the Nation even to join in the Attack, in order to preserve the Balance of Europe, the Establishing of which has already cost us such immense Sums of Money: Thus we may be obliged, either to engage in a War contrary to the Interest and Well-being of our Country, or otherwise be guilty of a Breach of Faith, to the eternal Dishonour of the Nation: These, Sir, are the Circumstances which this Nation may be brought into by entring into this Guaranty so early; and these, Sir, are Circumstances which every wise Man ought, by all Means, to avoid; besides, Sir, I do not know but we may be accused of some Sort of Breach of Faith, on account of our late Negotiations with the Emperor: The French may perhaps say, that by the Treaty of Hanover we were obliged not to treat with any of the Powers, against whom that Treaty seemed to be made, without the Concurrence of our Allies; and yet notwithstanding thereof we not only negotiated, but concluded a Treaty with the Emperor without communicating the same to them; what Reason the French may have for such an Accusation I cannot at present properly speak to; Prussia, it is true, had before set us an Example, and had drawn off from that Treaty long before we had; but France and Holland had adhered firmly to it to the very last.
'According to the View I have of our late Negotiations, I cannot say, that either the Honour or the Interest of the Nation has been much considered; it is true, Don Carlos may be now established in the Succession to the Duchy of Tuscany, and in the Possession of the Duchics of Parma and Placentia; the Spanish Troops may be introduced into Italy, and I wish their Introduction do not prove to be the Origin of new Troubles; but in these Things we have no particular Interest. I cannot say that much Regard has been had to the particular Interest of this Nation in our Conduct at home; our Debts have been increased, at least not diminished; and at the same Time Luxury has been so much encouraged, that many have run out a great Part of their Fortunes, and are thereby obliged to depend upon the Court; insomuch that I must say, happy it is for the Nation, that the King is so good and so just, as not to have any Designs against our Liberties: Our Trade is decaying every Day, and Publick Credit is like to be entirely destroyed by the many Publick Frauds that are committed; for Credit depends upon that Faith and Confidence which one Man puts in another, for the Preservation of that which is committed to his Care; but by these Publick Frauds all mutual Faith and Confidence will be taken away; no Man will think his Money safe but when it is locked up in his own Coffers; he will not for the future trust the Management or Keeping thereof to any one Man, or to any Set of Men. However, I hope, Sir, that all our Affairs abroad are now set to rights, and that our domestick Grievances are in a fair Way of being redressed; but if they are so, I must say, it is something like a Pilot, who, though he has a clear, a safe, and a streight Passage for going into Port, yet takes it in his Head to carry the Ship a great way about, through Sands, Rocks and Shallows, and thereby loses a great many of the Seamen, destroys a great deal of the Tackle and Rigging, and puts the Owners to a vast Expence; however, at last, by Chance he hits the Port, and then triumphs in his good Conduct.'
Mr Pulteney having done Speaking, Mr Danvers said, 'That when he returned to the Country, he should be glad to have something to tell his Country-Neighbours that would please them; they did not understand Treaties, nor did they trouble their heads much about distant Prospects of Wealth and Happiness; but he wished he could tell them, that Part of our Debts were paid off, or that some of our Taxes were abolished, or the Standing Army disbanded. These were Effects they would immediately feel, but he was afraid they would be of Opinion, that a Peace attended with a Continuance of all the Taxes, and a Keeping on foot the StandingArmy, did not deserve any Thanks from the Nation.
Sir W. Wyndham.
'I cannot agree to the Terms for Addressing his Majesty, proposed by the noble Member who spoke first, because though every Thing may now be well settled upon a solid and lasting Foundation, yet I cannot think that our Conduct has in every Respect been right; or that the Interest of this Nation has been, by his Majesty's Ministers, principally and steadily pursued. At one Time we were frightned out of our Wits with Apprehensions that the Pretender was to be put upon us, and that without any Reason for all that I have yet seen or heard upon the Subject. Then Don Carlos was made such a Giant of, that he, that Infant, was to swallow up and destroy all the Powers of Europe; and at that Time we sued to France for an Alliance, and besought their Assistance, by which we put it in their Power to commence a War whenever they pleased; and, if they had not been more taken up with Whims and Disputes about Religion, than any wise Nation ought to be, they would certainly have involved us in a War in Conjunction with them; and thereby would have made us assist them in recovering all that they had lost by the last two Wars, the taking of which from them had cost us so much Blood and Treasure. Some Time after we shook off all Fears of the Pretender, Don Carlos was again diminished to an ordinary Size, and then we began to bully France as much as we had courted it before: Such Conduct cannot appear to me to be right, at least it does not appear to be steady and uniform. Upon the other hand, it must be said of the Imperial Court, that they have acted with Steadiness and Prudence; they have firmly adhered to the proper Interest of their native Country, and have steadily pursued the Aim they had in View, through all the different Shapes in which the Affairs of Europe have been put within these few Years; and by this Firmness and Resolution they have at last brought us to their own Terms; and have accomplished their Designs, notwithstanding the Conjunction and Alliance of so many formidable Powers against them; whereas we have been obliged, in some Manner, to comply with the Demands of almost every Power we have treated with; and if by such Means we have at last got off upon any tolerable Conditions, it must be said, that we have been like a Man in a Room, who wants to get out, and though the Door be open, and a clear Way to it, yet he stalks round the Room, breaks his Shins over a Stool, tumbles over a Chair, and at last, rumbling over every Thing in his Way, by chance finds the Door and gets out; after abundance of needless Trouble and unnecessary Danger.'
'I do not think, that the Guaranty of the Pragmatick-Sanction is much to be taken Notice of in the present Case; for there are many other Things which at present relate more nearly to the Honour and Interest of this Nation. I wish I could have heard that the late new Works at Dunkirk had been entirely razed and destroyed; that we had received a full and compleat Satisfaction for the many Depredations committed by the Spaniards; and I should be glad to see more Care taken in arming the Country, and disciplining our Militia. I think it was a Scandal to the Nation to appear so much frightned, as we lately appeared to be, at the marching of a few French Troops down to those Coasts of France which lie next to us. We have, it is true, a Standing-Army of good regular Forces; but I hope this Nation will never be brought so low, as to have nothing to trust to for their Defence, but their Standing-Army: Our Army bears but a small Proportion to the whole Body of the People, they can cover but a small Part of our Coast from an Invasion, and therefore Care should be taken to keep up military Discipline and a warlike Spirit among our Militia, thro' all Parts of the Kingdom; for whenever we are threatned with an Invasion, our Safety and our Barrier next to our Fleet must depend upon them; it must be to them chiefly that we must trust our Defence against the Landing of a Foreign Enemy; and if they come once to lose entirely the Use of Arms, or the Knowledge of military Discipline, an Enemy that can, either by Cunning or Accident, escape our Fleet, may land with little Danger; and may do a deal of Mischief, before a sufficient Number of our regular Forces can be brought together to oppose them.
'As to our Foreign Affairs, I must say, Sir, that considering how much the Protestants in Germany have been oppress'd by the present Imperial Family, I could have wished with all my Heart to have heard, that some Care had been taken of them in the Treaty we have lately made with the Emperor; but as the Dutch have not as yet acceded to that Treaty, I hope some Care may as yet be taken of those poor People: I look upon it as a general Benefit, that the Dutch have not as yet acceded, because we may make an Advantage of it by getting them to insist upon all such Additions, Explanations or Amendments, as may be judg'd necessary for the common Good of Europe in general, and of the Protestant Religion in particular. In the mean Time I am pleased to find, that we are not now so closely united with France as we formerly were; for I have generally observed, that when two Dogs are in a Leash together, the stronger generally runs away with the weaker; and I am afraid this was something of the Case between France and us.
Mr H. Pelham.
Mr Henry Pelham spoke next for the Motion, and endeavour'd to shew, 'That it was no way inconsistent with the Honour or Dignity of that House, to thank his Majesty in the most particular Terms for every Thing, which he had been most graciously pleased to acquaint them with, in his Speech from the Throne: That, in common Decency, they were upon that Occasion to look upon every Thing to be as it had been represented to them by his Majesty; but that no Compliments, as some of the honourable Gentlemen who had spoke before were pleased to call them, that could be put into the Address, could be any way made use of to prevent that Houses's Inquiry afterwards into the Measures that had been pursued, when the Treaties that had been entered into should be laid before them: On the contrary, if upon such an Inquiry it should be found, that any of the Negotiations had been carried on, or any of the Treaties concluded, contrary to the Honour or Interest of the Nation, they were then to presume, that his Majesty had been imposed on, and thereby induced to make such a Speech to them; and by such an Imposition, those who had advised the carrying on such Negotiation, or the concluding of such Treaties, would accumulate Guilt upon themselves, and would heap Coals of Fire upon their own Heads; for in such a Case, that House was not only to punish such evil Counsellors for Measures so weak or so wicked; but also to punish them for imposing upon his Majesty, and advising him to make such a Speech from the Throne: That generally, upon the Opening of a Session of Parliament, the Eyes of all Europe were turned towards Great Britain; and from their first Resolves, all the Neighbouring Powers were to judge of the Unanimity which was to ensue between his Majesty and his Parliament: That if they at first appeared to be in the least diffident or jealous of his Majesty's Conduct, it would weaken his Influence upon the Councils of foreign Courts; and thereby they might put it out of his Power to rectify a false Step, if any had been made by his Ministers, and this he was persuaded no Man would incline to do, who was a Friend either to his King or his Country, for the sake of any private Pique he might have to any of his Majesty's Ministers: That for these and many other Reasons, he was for agreeing to the Address in the Terms first moved for.
Mr H. Walpole.
'The honourable Gentleman upon the Floor [Mr W. Pulteney] said, that he was afraid lest the noble Lord, who first moved for an Address, might have some Weight with his Friends. I do not know, Sir, but that it may be so; I do not know but he may have Weight with some of those, whom that Gentleman now looks upon as his Friends; but I am persuaded, that nothing that he has said, in opposition to the Motion made by the other, will tend to diminish that Weight which he is afraid of. As to the House's agreeing to the Motion for presenting an Address to his Majesty, and in the Terms proposed by the noble Lord who made the Motion, I need not, Sir, say any Thing to it; that Affair has been so fully explain'd, and the Reasonableness of it so clearly demonstrated by the Gentlemen who have spoke upon that Side of the Question, that I have nothing to add: But since the Gentlemen, who have spoke on the other Side, have entered into an Examination of the Measures that have been pursued, I hope the House will pardon me if I depart a little from the Subject of the present Debate, in order to answer some of the Objections that have been made to our late Conduct.
'It has been said, Sir, that there was a Time, some Years ago, when the same Thing might have been done that is now done, by which a great deal of Money might have been saved to the Nation. I wish, Sir, the Gentleman, who said so, had told us what particular Time he meant: I know that the entering into the Guaranty of the Pragmatick Sanction was proposed to us some Years ago; but, Sir, I know that it was then proposed in such dogmatick and positive Terms, that it was inconsistent with the Honour of his Majesty, and of this Nation, to give the least Ear to a Proposal, which was made rather in the Terms of a peremptory Demand, and without offering the least Consideration to this Nation, for our agreeing to enter into such a Guaranty: Besides, Sir, there was at that Time good Reason to fear that Don Carlos was the Person, upon whom the Imperial Court had fixed their Eye, as a Successor to his Imperial Majesty; and I am sure it was against the Interest of this Nation, to contribute to the establishing of a Person in the full and sole Possession of all the Austrian Dominions, who was by the Quadruple Alliance to have such large Dominions of his own in Italy, and had by his Birth so near a Prospect to the Crown of Spain, and at that Time also a very near Prospect to the Crown of France. This Guaranty was again offered at the Time when the Treaty of Seville was in Agitation; but then again it was rejected, because it was well known, that the Proposal was made at that Time only with a view to disturb the Negotiations then carrying on, and which were so happily ended by the Conclusion of the Treaty of Seville; so that at that Time no Treaty could be entered into by us with the Imperial Court, either about the Guaranty of the Pragmatick Sanction or any Thing else, nor at any Time till they came to be a little more reasonable in their Proposals; and as soon as that Time came, we embraced the Opportunity, and our Negotiations had then all wish'd for Success.
'Nor can it be said, Sir, that we have entered into that Guaranty too soon; it was our own Interest to enter into it as soon as possible, because the preserving of the Imperial Dominions entire is necessary for preserving the Balance of Power in Europe: If we had delayed entering into that Guaranty till his Imperial Majesty's Death, it would then have been too late; Europe would have been in Flames, and the Austrian Dominions divided before we could have done any Thing. There may be Civil Broils in Germany upon the Emperor's Death without Male Heirs, happen when it will, but surely the best Way of preventing it, is to have the Affair fully settled, and that Settlement strongly guaranty'd before the Accident happens; those who pretend to any Share will then be cautious, and will not be ready to enter into any violent Measures: And I must say, Sir, that if the Imperial Family were in any danger of being ruined or swallowed up by any neighbouring Power, we must engage in the Rescue, let our Circumstances be at that Time what they will; for if such a Ruin should happen, our own would not be a great Way off; This Guaranty we ought, perhaps, to have gone into sooner, because of the fatal Consequences that might have ensued, if his Imperial Majesty had dropt off in the mean Time; but we could not agree to it 'till the Imperial Court agreed to give Satisfaction to Spain, with respect to the Dominions provided for Don Carlos in Italy by the Quadruple Alliance; to the Dutch with respect to the particular Disputes between the Empire and them; and to the Dutch and us with respect to the Oftend Company; and all these his Majesty, by his wise and steady Measures, has at last procured.
'Sir, I say steady Measures, and I believe it will appear that our Measures have been as steady and uniform, as those of any Court in Europe: Our Aim was to preserve our own Dominions Abroad against the Design laid for wresting them from us; to preserve our Trade against the Incroachment made upon it by the setting up of the Oftend Company; and to preserve the Balance of Power in Europe against any present or future Attempts for overturning it, in order thereby to establish, as far as is consistent with human Prudence, the general Tranquility of Europe. This Aim was most steadily pursued through the various Shapes, which the Affairs of Europe have taken within a few Years past, and is now at last, in all human Appearance, most happily accomplished; but it was necessary to establish the present Tranquility of Europe, before we could think of the future: We were engaged, by the Quadruple Alliance, to see the Insant Don Carlos settled in the Succession of the Duchies of Tuscany, Parma, and Flacentia; Spain could not be easy, nor could we expect any sincere Friendship with them, till that was fully and compleatly effectuated; nor could either the Dutch or we be easy till we saw the Oftend Company absolutely demolished; and as soon as we got the present Tranquility settled by the Imperial Court's agreeing to these two main Points, then we began to think of the future Tranquility of Europe; and in order to establish that upon as solid a Foundation as the Nature of the Case will admit of, we have agreed to the Guaranty of the Pragmatick Sanction.
'In all these Transactions, the true Interest of this Nation has been most strictly pursued, and never once departed from: The Interest of this Nation is connected with the general Interest of Europe in preserving the Balance of Power; and therefore it is the Interest of this Nation, as well as of almost every one of the other Nations of Europe, to preserve the Dominions of the Austrian Family entire and undivided: I am sure no Man will say but that it is the Interest of this Nation, that the Duchies of Tuscany, Parma, and Placentia should never be in the Possession of Germany, France or Spain. It is very plain, that it is the Interest of this Nation to have the East-India Trade from Oftend demolished; and it is as evident that this Nation is particularly interested in the preserving of Gibraltar and Port-Mahon, and at the same Time in cultivating a good Friendship and Correspondence with Spain. In all these Cases the Interest of this Nation is certainly most particularly concerned, and in every one of these Points we have obtained all that we could expect or desire; and all this without any mean Compliance upon our part, or giving up any Thing that we were before intitled unto; upon the contrary, whenever any Scheme was offered by any of our Allies, which had the least Appearance of being against the Honour or Interest of this Nation, any Sort of Concurrence was absolutely refused, and thereupon all such Schemes have been dropt: How then can it be said, that neither the Honour nor Interest of this Nation has been regarded in our Negotiations with our Neighbours abroad, or that we have complied with every one in their Turn?
'In all this Course of Negotiation, there have been many jarring Interests to be reconciled, and many Difficulties to be surmounted, all which his Majesty has, by his Wisdom and good Conduct, got over; nor is there the least Reason to suspect that, in any one Measure, the publick Faith has been violated, nor has any Power or Potentate any Ground for such a Complaint; nay, there is not one that does so much as pretend to it. The only View that France had, or at least owned, was to preserve the Tranquility, and to see the Terms of the Quadruple Alliance complied with: If these two Points were brought to a happy Issue, it was all that the French had to demand; and as both are fully accomplished by the Treaty of Vienna, the French Court have no Reason to complain, so far otherways, that they have declared they are fully satisfied: And as for our taking an Alarm at the March of some of their Troops towards the Coasts of France, which lie opposite to England, it did not proceed from any Jealousy that subsists between the two Nations, but only from that prudent Jealousy which every Nation ought to have of all its Neighbours, so far as to be always upon its Guard against every one of them; upon that Occasion the French were as much alarm'd upon our marching Troops down towards our Coasts next to them, as we were upon the marching of theirs.
'As in all Treaties there are some Points left to be determined afterwards, according to the Plan then laid down; so, Sir; by the Treaty of Seville the Spaniards are to make full Satisfaction and Reparation for the Losses which our Merchants have sustained by any unjust Seizures; but as the Quantum of that Loss could not then be determined, nor could it then be determined what Seizures were lawful and what not, therefore it was absolutely necessary to leave that Affair to be inquired into and determined by Commissaries mutually appointed; and we have all the Reason in the World to expect, that we shall at last meet with a full Satisfaction in that Affair, though it has been hitherto retarded by the Negotiations about publick Affairs of greater Moment, which have occurred since the Conclusion of that Treaty. In all human Affairs, it is sometimes necessary to have Patience, and to wait the Course of Things; Nations must not, upon every little Delay, or upon every trifling Dispute, come to an open Rupture, and involve themselves and their Neighbours in War and Bloodshed for Things, which with a little Patience might have been easily adjusted.
I should not, Sir, have troubled the House any farther; but that since Comparisons have been going round, I hope I may have leave to make one in my Turn; and I must say, that our late Affairs very much resemble a Set of honest quiet Country People got into a Country Dance, who went through their Dance with a great deal of Ease and Alacrity, 'till a turbulent noisy Fellow came in among them, who immediately forced himself into the Dance, and made such a Noise, that such a one was out, and such a one not right, such a Step out of Tune, and such a Turn not according to Rule, that they could not go on with their Dance; but at last they resolved to turn this troublesome Fellow out of Company, and then they all went on easily and quietly as they had done before.
An Address resolv'd on.
At last the Question was put upon the Lord Hervey's Motion, which was carried in the Affirmative without any Division; and a Committee was appointed to draw up an Address accordingly, which is as follows:
'We your Majesty's most loyal and dutiful Subjects, the Commons of Great-Britain in Parliament assembled, beg Leave to return your Majesty our most humble Thanks for your most gracious Speech from the Throne.
'It is the highest Satisfaction to your faithful Commons, to see the general Tranquility of Europe restored and reestablished by your Majesty's Credit and Influence, which reflects the greatest Glory to the British Crown, and of Consequence to the British Nation; the Honour and Interest of which are always inseparable.
'We are fully persuaded, that the Treaties your Majesty has enter'd into, were made with no other View, than to preserve the Balance of Power in Europe, and secure the Possessions of the Crown of Great-Britain, and all the Rights and Privileges we are intitled to; and we acknowledge with Gratitude your Majesty's Wisdom and Goodness, in procuring for us all these Advantages, without the Expence and Hazards of a War.
'We are very sensible of the many Difficulties, which your Majesty labour'd under, in bringing this great and glorious Work to so happy a Conclusion. The many Obstacles arising from various Pretensions and Jealousies during the Course of these Transactions, unsurmountable as they have been thought, are by your Majesty's Steadiness and Prudence entirely removed; and at a Time, when a War seemed unavoidable, the Settlement of the Succession of Don Carlos to the States of Tuscany and Parma has been peaceably accomplished, and the general Tranquility of Europe preserved by the Weight and Credit of your Majesty's Negociations.
'Thus has your Majesty extricated not only this Nation, but all Europe out of the uncertain State for many Years laboured under, and that by Means most honourable to your Majesty, consistent with all former Engagements, and without the least Injury to any Prince or Power in Europe.
'And we humbly assure your Majesty, that having the truest Sense of the many Blessings we have enjoyed during the Course of your Majesty's Reign, and how much our present Happiness is owing to your paternal Love and Care for your People, we will with the greatest Chearfulness grant the necessary Supplies for the current Service of the Year; and your Majesty will always find such Returns of Duty and Gratitude from us, as the best of Kings may expect from the most loyal Subjects, fully convinced that the only End of your Majesty's auspicious Government, is the Protection and Prosperity of your People.'
The King's Answer thereto.
I Return you my Thanks for this dutiful and loyal Address. I make no Doubt of the Continuance of your Duty, Affection and Confidence in me; and you will always find that all my Views tend to the Honour, Interest, and Security of my Crown and People."
A Supply voted.
The Pension-Bill brought in.
Jan. 25. Mr Sandys presented to the House 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 Offices held in Trust for them; which was received and read a first Time, and ordered to be read a second Time.
Debate on the Number of Land Forces. ; Sir W. Strickland.
Jan. 26. The Commons being in a Grand Committee on the Supply, Sir (fn. 4) William Strickland mov'd, 'That the Number of effective Men, for Guards and Garrisons in GreatBritain, and for Guernsey and Jersey for the Year 1732, should be, including 1815 Invalids, and 555 Men which the six Independent Companies consist of for the Service of the Highlands, 17,709 Men, Commission and Non-Commission Officers included. In Support of this Motion he endeavoured to shew, 'That though the publick Tranquility was happily and fully established, yet it was necessary for us to keep up at least the Number of Troops he had proposed, till we should see how those Measures, by which the Publick Tranquility had been established, should be approved of by the other Powers of Europe, who had not then declared their Sentiments upon that Subject.'
Lord Morpeth. ; Mr Watkin Williams Wynne. ; Lord Hervey.
Hereupon Lord Morpeth stood up, and having shewed how dangerous it was to the Liberties of this Nation, to keep up a numerous Standing Army in Time of Peace; his Lordship moved 'That the Number should be reduced to 12,000 effective Men; and was back'd by Mr Watkin Williams Wynne: But they were oppos'd by the Lord Hervey, who spoke next as follows,
Though the Peace and Tranquility of this Nation, both abroad and at home, be now by his Majesty's wise Conduct established, in all Probability, upon a firm and lasting Foundation, yet a wise People ought always to be upon their Guard against the worst that may happen. The Publick Quiet both abroad and at home depends upon the Views and Inclinations of Men; and we know by Experience, that nothing is more fickle and variable; we ought not therefore to do any Thing that may turn the Inclinations of our Enemies towards disturbing us, or that may give them any Views of Success in any such Attempts; the only Method to prevent the having any such Inclinations, or conceiving any such Hopes, is to keep up a good Army of regular Forces. The Number moved for, is, in my Opinion, the least that can be thought of by any Man, who has a true Regard for the Quiet and Prosperity of this Nation, and for the Preservation of the Protestant Succession in his Majesty's most illustrious Family.
Every Man knows, Sir, and every Man ought to reflect upon it with Concern, that we never did yet reduce our Army, but that Reduction was the Occasion of some Plot or Machination against us: Did not the small Number of our Forces, in the Beginning of his late Majesty's Reign, spirit up and encourage that wicked and unnatural Rebellion that was raised against him? After that Insurrection was happily quelled, we made a Reduction of the Army, what were the Consequences? The Army was no sooner reduced, but our Enemies began to think of taking Advantage of it; we were not only threatned with a new Insurrection at home, but likewise with an Invasion from Spain. [See Vol. I. p. 374.] By good Management and good Luck, their Attempts were frustrated, their Hopes were rendered abortive; and when we found ourselves quiet and easy, we again reduced our Army. This Reduction revived again the Hopes of our Enemies, they began again to plot and to cabal against us, under the Management, and by the Advice of the late Bishop of Rochester; [See Vol. I. p. 301.] but their Schemes were defeated by a timely and seasonable Discovery, and the wicked Authors suffered the most moderate Punishment that the Justice of the Nation could inflict.
'Though every Thing be at present quiet and easy, yet we must not imagine that we have no Enemies, or that they have lost their former Watchfulness; as long as we have a good and brave Army for our Support, they know they dare not break out into any open Acts of Violence: But the many scandalous and seditious Libels that are every Day published against the Government, and the many Scribblers that are employ'd to vilify and asperse his Majesty and his Adminstration, and to sow Disaffection and Discontent among the People, is an evident Sign that we have as yet many Enemies, even within our Bosom, who would probably think of making use of other Weapons than the Pen, if we should be so unwise as to afford them the least Hopes of Success, by making a great Reduction in our Army; and therefore I am for continuing the Army, for this Year at least, upon the Footing that was first proposed.
Mr Walt. Plomer.
Lord Hervey having done speaking, Mr Walter Plomer replied, 'That the most weighty Argument made use of by the noble Lord, seem'd to be, that there was a great Number of Scribblers employ'd to write against the Government; but for his part, he could not see why that was a sufficient Reason for keeping up a Standing Army of Soldiers. If Scribbling gave the Government any Uneasiness, or made them dream of Danger, he thought the best Way would be to employ an Army of Scribblers to desend them, for he did not doubt but a sufficient Number of such might be found, who would list upon that Side where they expected they could make the most Advantage.
Sir W. Yonge.
Sir (fn. 5)William Yonge then spoke as follows,
'The Question now before us is not any way relating to the Preservation or the Loss of our Liberties; we are not to suppose, we cannot suppose, that his Majesty is to employ the Forces we are to keep on foot in any illegal Way; or that he is to make use of them, or of any other Means to encroach upon the Liberties of our Country. We have had sufficient Experience of his Majesty's Wisdom and Goodness not to entertain the least Suspicion of any such Design; all that his Majesty wants is, that we will take a Care to keep up a Parliamentary Force, sufficient for enabling him to repel any Attack that may be made upon our Country, or upon our Constitution. His Majesty desires nothing but what may be necessary for preserving us in the happy and quiet State in which we are at present, and for continuing and protecting the free Enjoyment of those Liberties and Privileges for which he has always shewn so great a Regard. While this is the Use that is to be made of our Standing-Army, I cannot think that the Number proposed is at all too large, and if any other Use were to be made of them, I hope, I should be as ready as any Man in this House to oppose any such Measures; but as long as the Continuance of the Army depends upon the Resolutions of Parliament from Year to Year, there is, I think, no Danger of any such Measures being entered upon, or ever so much as thought of; the Parliament will always have it in their Power to put a Stop to such Measures in their Infancy, and long before they can be made effectual, or so much as brought to any Maturity; and I hope it never will be imagined, that the Parliament will join in any Measures for enslaving the People.
'The present Question is not, whether we shall establish a Standing Army to continue for ever, or for any Term of Years? It is only about continuing the Number now proposed for one Year longer, till we see how the Treaties we have lately made are relished by some foreign Powers: If they should happen not to approve of the Measures we have taken for establishing the general Good and Tranquility of Europe, our keeping up of our Standing Army will prevent them from taking any Measures for disturbing that Peace and Tranquility so lately settled and established; as long as they find that we are in a Capacity to compel their Consent, they will at least dissemble and conceal their Dislike. If at the Expiration of the ensuing Year we find, that all the other Powers of Europe are quiet and easy; if we then find that they are willing to rest satisfied with those Measures which have been agreed upon, we may then lessen the Number of our Forces if we think fit, and one Year's Expence of maintaining 5 or 6000 Men, is but a Trifle in comparison with the Loss this Nation may sustain, by exposing Europe and itself to the Danger of a new War.
'It is well known, Sir, how fatal it was to Europe, how fatal it was to this Nation in particular, the Disbanding of our Army after the Peace of Ryswick; King William had too much Wisdom and Penetration not to foresee the Consequences of so wrong a Step, and therefore he opposed it with all his Might; but his well founded Reasons could not prevail against the Spirit of that Faction and Party, which was so troublesome to him during his whole Reign, and prevented this Nation's reaping all those Advantages it might have done from his prudent Administration. After this mischievous Resolution was carried against him, and the brave Army, which he had been at so much Pains to discipline and train up, was in Pursuance thereof disbanded, he saw himself in no Condition to oppose or prevent the French King's taking Possession of the whole Kingdom of Spain, upon the Demise of the then King, who was even at that Time in so lingering a Condition, that his Death was every Day expected, which made the Resolution for disbanding our Army at so critical a Juncture the more ridiculous; therefore King William found himself under a Sort of Necessity of entering into the Partition Treaty, which was afterwards so much censured in this House, and was certainly a Treaty that he never would have agreed to, but only that he thought it was necessary to give the French a small Part of the Spanish Dominions, in order to prevent their getting hold of the Whole.
'We have seen, Sir, the good Effects of agreeing with his Majesty in the Measures he proposed for bringing about the Re-establishment of the Peace and Tranquility of Europe; I am persuaded, that the Continuing of the Hessian Troops in our Pay was one of the principal Causes of the Success of his Majesty's Negotiations, and I think the Event has justified me and every one who agreed with his Majesty in that Measure; as I was then of Opinion, that the Continuing of the Hessian Troops in our Pay was absolutely necessary for bringing about those good Ends which have been thereby effectuated, so now I am of Opinion, that the keeping up the Number of our own Forces proposed, is a Measure that is absolutely necessary for preserving that Tranquility which is but just established.
'But if there were no Fears from abroad, if there were no Danger of any Foreign Powers attempting to disturb the Tranquility of Europe, yet the Preservation even of our own Liberties, and of the Protestant Succession, make it necessary to continue the whole Number proposed of our own Troops in our Pay; for though I am very far from thinking, that the Generality, or that the greatest Part of the People are disaffected, because I always reckon that the Affection of the People is to be measured by the Affection of their Representatives in Parliament; yet I am sorry to say, that there is still a Spirit of Jacobitism in the Country; though it be at present dormant, it is not quite extinguished, as may appear from the Treatment lately given to a Petition for erecting the Statue of King William (fn. 6), that great King, who had delivered us from so many Evils, and who had prevented our falling into the most abject Slavery that ever a People were brought into; yet a Petition for erecting a Statue in Memory of this glorious King met with such Contempt, as could not be given by any but those who are most enthusiastically led by that evil Spirit; and while there are any great Remains of that Spirit in the Country, the Government never can be safe, nor can the Peace or Quiet of the Nation be secured, without keeping up such a Number of regular Forces as may deprive such People of all Hopes of Success. For which Reasons, Sir, I shall give my Vote for keeping up the Number of Forces proposed.
Sir W. Wyndham.
'It has always been looked on as contrary to the Constitution, and inconsistent with the Liberties of this Country, to keep up a Standing Army in Time of Peace. This is a Maxim that has been handed down to us from our Forefathers, and is certainly as true a Maxim as any that ever was, or ever can be laid down, for the Preservation of our happy Constitution. His Majesty has been most graciously pleased to assure us from the Throne, "That the Expectations he had given us, from Time to Time, of seeing the general Tranquility of Europe restored and established, are now fully answer'd." What have we more to expect? do we hope ever to see a Time when all the Powers of Europe will be, even to outward Appearance, so fully satisfied and pleased that no Jealousies nor private Animosities do seem to remain? The Hope is vain, the Thing is impossible, for those very Measures which make one easy will always give some Appearance of Disquiet to another; besides, the Ambition of Princes is such, that no general Satisfaction can be expected, nor can a profound Tranquility be hoped for, to remain for any Time without some Disturbance. Either now is a proper Time for us to reduce a Part of our Army, or such a Time will never happen; and this Nation must always be obliged to be at the Expence of maintaining a numerous regular Army, and lie exposed to have its Liberties and Privileges trampled upon by the means of that Army, whenever we shall have a King weak or ambitious enough, or a Ministry wicked enough, to engage in such Measures.
'A much less Number, than we have at present, have been found sufficient to guard us both against Invasions from Abroad, and Insurrections at Home, even in the Time of open War: During the whole Course of the long Wars, we had in the Reigns both of King William and Queen Anne, a Body of 6000 or 7000 Men was thought all that was requisite to be kept in this Nation, for guarding us against all the Attempts of our Enemies foreign or domestick; and this small Body of Men, with the Affections of the People, appeared to be so sufficient for the Purpose designed, that the United Powers of France and Spain never durst venture to make an Invasion upon us; nay, they never so much as attempted it but once, and then they did it in such a faint Manner as shewed they were afraid of the Success of what they were going about: Yet every one knows what an Advantage it would have then been to the French Cause, if they could have made a Diversion, by landing a Body of Troops in this Island.
'After the Peace of Ryswick the Parliament was then so jealous of their Liberties, and so much afraid of introducing the dangerous Custom of keeping up a Standing Army in time of Peace, that they got the Army disbanded immediately after the Peace was concluded, and they certainly did Right in doing so. There were no fatal Confequences from thence ensued, nor could the Disbanding of our Army give the least Occasion to the Partition-Treaty: Spain was then in a Manner our own, they were upon our Side, and were heartily engaged, or would have engaged, in any tolerable Measures for preventing the French King's taking Possession of all, or of any Part of their Territories; but by that pernicious Treaty, which was even before the Conclusion of it, and before the fatal Effects it produced were felt, strenuously opposed by some of our own Ministers, and was afterwards so justly censured in Parliament, the Spaniards were forced to throw themselves into the Arms of France; they were obliged to accept of the Protection of France, in order to prevent their Monarchy from being rent and torn to Pieces, in pursuance of that ridiculous Scheme agreed upon by the Treaty of Partition. Yet, notwithstanding this false Step by which we lost the whole Monarchy of Spain, we lost nothing by having disbanded our Army; for immediately upon the War's breaking out afresh, we, in Conjunction with our Allies, not only raised such an Army as would have been sufficient to have defended Spain, but was found to be an Over-Match for the joint Powers of France and Spain, assisted by their new Ally the Duke of Bavaria, whom we had likewise disobliged, and thrown into the Scale against us by the Second Partition-Treaty. And considering the great Success of our Arms in this last War, and the small Number of regular Forces we had in Pay before it broke out, I think we may from thence most certainly conclude, that there never can be any Necessity, or really so much as a Pretence, for keeping up such a numerous Standing-Army in time of Peace, as we have at present in the Island of Great Britain alone.
'Sir, The brave and bold Spirit which the British Subjects naturally have is well known; our Enemies have often felt it to their Cost; I hope the same Spirit still remains, I hope we have Men enough in Britain who have Resolution to defend themselves against any Invasion whatever, though there were not so much as one Red-Coat in the whole Kingdom. It is upon the Bravery of our Subjects, upon the natural Courage of our Men, that we ought principally to depend for the Protection and Safety of our Country against a Foreign Enemy: By trusting to this we have continued for many Years to be a happy and free People, and as soon as we begin to put our Trust in any thing else, our Happiness and our Liberty will be at an End, and a State of Misery and Slavery must soon after ensue.
'As to the Disaffection that is pretended to be in the Country, it is nothing but a Pretence, and it will always be a Pretence: I hope, Sir, it is so inconsiderable, that our ordinary Civil Officers are sufficient to seize, and our common Goals capable to hold all the Disaffected in the Kingdom: But I must say that the Continuing of a Standing-Army, even from Year to Year, will certainly make the Disaffection increase, and will make it spread through all Parts of the Kingdom; the People never can be easy under the Load of Taxes and the many Oppressions, which always are, and always must be, the Consequences of keeping up a numerous Standing-Army in any Country. Our People are naturally jealous of their Liberties; the Continuing of the Army thus from Year to Year will make them conclude, that they are never to be relieved therefrom by Parliament; this may make them despair of preserving their Liberty by any peaceable Method, and may make them engage against one another in a cruel Civil War, for the Preservation of those Liberties which they judge to be in imminent Danger: These may be the Consequences, but woe to those Men who advise such Measures as may produce such fatal Effects! I wish that neither God nor Man may ever pardon the Authors of so much Misery!
'We have heard much, Sir, of the Distinction between a Standing Army, and a Parliamentary Army; for my part, I can see no Difference; a Standing-Army is a Standing Army, let it be authorized by Parliament or not; the People may meet with the same Oppressions from both, and both must be maintained at the People's Expence. I join with the worthy Member, who spoke last, in Opinion, that the Affections of the People ought to be measured by the Affections of their Representatives in Parliament; it has always been so hitherto; the Subjects, when they suspected that the Crown was making any Incroachments upon their Liberties, always pleased themselves with the Thoughts that they would find a sure Redress from their Representatives assembled in Parliament; upon them they always depend for a certain Remedy for all their real or even imaginary Wrongs; but if this House shall thus from Year to Year agree to the Continuance of a Standing-Army, I am afraid this will no longer continue to be a Rule for measuring the Peoples Affections: The People will begin to look upon Us not as their Representatives, or as the Guardians of their Liberties, but as the insignificant Tools of a Court, and the hireling Supporters of an Administration.'
Mr H. Pelham.
To this Mr Henry Pelham replied, 'That as long as the Army was regularly paid, and strict Discipline kept up, he did not believe that the People could meet with any Injustice from them; and as long as they were subject to be reduced or disbanded by the Parliament, whenever it was thought convenient, they never could be employed against the Liberties and Privileges of the Subjects; therefore he did not believe that the small Number now proposed could ever raise any Discontent or Jealousy in the Minds of the People: But he joined heartily with the honourable Member, who spoke last, in wishing, that neither God nor Man might ever forgive those, who were or should be the Occasion of our being obliged to fight for our Liberties; yet the Case, he said, had happened; we had been obliged to fight for our Liberties, and every thing that was dear to us; and yet notwithstanding, many of those, who had been principally the Occasion thereof, had been forgiven at least by Man.'
Then Mr Barnard said, 'That he could not agree to the Continuing of the Army upon the Footing proposed, because we had been assured by his Majesty that there was a profound Tranquility abroad; and if there was any Party at home against the Protestant Succession, he was convinced it was so insignificant that it was not worth taking Notice of: That the Setting up, or not Setting up King William's Statue, could be no Argument for proving that there was a Spirit of Jacobitism in the Country: That for his part, he wished that the Proposal had been agreed to, and that the Statue had been set up; but he was sure that the late Opposition that was made to it, and the refusing to set it up in the Place proposed, did not proceed from any Disaffection to the Government, or from any Dislike of the Revolution; there were many other Reasons to be assigned for that Refusal, which by the Generality of the People, who were concerned in that Matter, were thought to be of Weight enough to make them give their Negative at that Time.'
Sir P. Yorks.
'It is certainly the Interest of this Nation to render itself as considerable as possible amongst its Neighbours; for the greater Opinion they have of our Strength and Power, the less apt they will be to undertake any Expeditions or Invasions against us, and the more easy it will be for us to obtain from them any Advantages or Immunities, which we may think necessary for improving the Trade and increasing the Riches of the Kingdom. There is nothing contributes more to the Power and Strength of a People than Unanimity and Concord among themselves: A factious divided People are never able to do much good to themselves or their Friends, nor any great Injury to their Enemies and Rivals. The only Thing then, that can make this Nation considerable in the Eyes of Foreigners, is a hearty Union and Agreement between his Majesty and his Parliament; this it is which has produced that happy Tranquility which we now enjoy, and which by our Influence has been communicated to the rest of Europe, and in a Manner forced upon some of the Princes thereof; some of them had Inclination enough to have raised Commotions, and to have disturbed the Peace and Quiet of their Neighbours, but they durst not venture upon it, when they found the King of Great Britain and his Parliament would join heartily in the same Measures against them: It may be supposed that the same Inclinations still remain, they only watch for an Opportunity to follow them; the least Disagreement between his Majesty and his Parliament will afford them what they wish, what they long for, and thereupon the Flames of War will break out afresh; for preserving therefore the Tranquility which by our Influence has been established, it is necessary to continue the Means by which we have been able to accomplish so good a Design, for which Reason I am for agreeing with what has been proposed.'
Mr Wal. Plomer.
'If I thought that the Continuing the Number of Forces proposed were necessary for preserving the Publick Tranquility, either at Home or Abroad, or for any other good End whatever, I should join most heartily in the Proposal. It is certain, that the Continuing of so great an Army in time of a profound Peace may be of dangerous Consequence to our Constitution; and it always must be oppressive as well as burthensome to the People; therefore nothing but an absolute Necessity ought to prevail upon us to continue a Standing-Army. From past Times we may be able to form a Judgment of the present; from what has happened heretofore we may judge, whether there be at present any absolute Necessity for keeping up such a Number of Regular Forces. During the whole Time of the late War in the Reign of Queen Anne, there were but 6 or 7000 Men of Regular Forces kept in this Kingdom, and these were found sufficient, though the Pretender was then openly entertained at the French Court, and was but a few Days Journey distant from us; it was then much easier to carry on a Correspondence between him and his Friends in this Country than at present, and it must be supposed that he had more of them than he has now; for by the very Nature of Things they must be daily decreasing, and will at last wear quite out, if wrong Measures at Home do not prevent it; yet notwithstanding the small number of Forces then kept in the Kingdom, they were never able to give the Government any great Disturbance or Uneasiness; therefore I must conclude, that for preventing any Attempts from the Pretender or his Party in the Kingdom, a greater Number is now not absolutely necessary, but is rather quite unnecessary and superfluous.
'As soon as that War was at an End our Troops were immediately disbanded, and the Army reduced to about 6000 Men; it was not however at that Time pretended, that it was necessary to keep our Army on Foot till it should be seen how the Treaty we had made should be relished by Foreign Powers, or that there was any Danger of the War's breaking out afresh in case we should, for the Safety of our Constitution, and the Ease of our People, disband our Regular Forces. Yet I have so great a Respect for her Majesty's Memory, that I cannot believe she had any Views of favouring the Pretender or his Interest, either at Home or Abroad; and with this small Number of Regular Forces at Home, we found, that not only the general Tranquility of Europe was preserved, but upon the Queen's Demise the Protestant Succession took Place without the least Disturbance or Opposition. There was, it is true, a Rebellion broke out some Time after, and thereupon the Army was augmented, but that Rebellion was crushed even before the Augmentation was made; the 6000 or 7000 Troops we had in our Pay at Home were found sufficient for suppressing that Insurrection; and notwithstanding this small Number of Forces we had on Foot, and this Insurrection that was at the same Time raised against his late Majesty, yet we find that none of the Powers Abroad ever offer'd either to disturb us or any of their Neighbours. Thus we find that in former Times, and that very lately too, the Publick Tranquility has been preserved, both Abroad and at Home, by a little more than one Third of the Regular Forces now proposed to be kept on Foot; for what End then can such a Number be proposed, or for what Reason should we agree to it? For my part, I can find none, but very strong Reasons for opposing it as much as lies in my Power.
'I must say, Sir, that it is not to the Diminution or Reduction of our Regular Forces, that any Attempts against us ever were, or ever can be owing; such Attempts, either by Invasions or Insurrections, must always arise from our Government's pursuing Measures by which Disaffection and Discontent are sowed among the People; when the People are generally disaffected, the Malecontents will gather Confidence from their Numbers; and our Neighbours will, upon every Occasion, be ready to invade us, when they are sure of meeting with a powerful Support and Assistance from the People themselves. There is no one Measure more apt to spread a general Disaffection among the People than that of keeping up a numerous Standing Army; this was one of the principal Things that ruin'd the late King James, and alienated from him the Peoples Affections almost to a Man: He had to trust to even a more numerous Army than that at present demanded; but what was the Consequence? That Army was so far from securing him against the general Discontent of the People, that they themselves, like honest Men as they were, joined in the general Defection, and contributed to the Overthrow of the Man who unjustly put his whole Trust and Confidence in them. I hope, Sir, that the English Armies will always behave so; I hope they will always be so faithful to their Country as to forsake the Man who has a Mind to enslave it; but this is not to be depended on; however, the Example shews that any Army breeds Disaffection among the People, and that even an Army cannot be much depended on by that King, who by putting his whole Confidence in them, has incurred the Displeasure of the People. Therefore from the sincere Affection I have for the present Establishment, I must be against continuing such a great Number of Regular Forces in this Kingdom.
Mr H. Walpole.
Mr (fn. 7)Horatio Walpole spoke next.
'I am sorry to hear a Parallel drawn by any Member of this House, between the Army kept up by the late King James, and the Army intended to be kept up at present: King James's Army was raised against Law, was maintained against the Consent of the People, and was employ'd in overturning the Liberties of the People: The present Question is about an Army which is to be kept up, according to Law, and by and with the Consent and Approbation of the People. If we look into the Petition of Right itself, what does it say? why that an Army raised or kept up, without Consent of Parliament, is contrary to the Constitution; but it was never said, that an Army kept up by Consent of Parliament is illegal, or any way contrary to our happy Constitution; in this Respect therefore no Parallel can be drawn between the present Army, which is to be kept up only by Consent of the People, and maintained by them, and that Army which was rais'd and maintain'd by King James himself, and was so far from being with the Concurrence or Consent of the People, that it was to be employed against them; and I am persuaded, that no Man here suspects that the present Army is to be employed in any such Manner.
'I really believe, Sir, and I hope I am right, that there is but very little Diffatisfaction in the Nation, and that the Jacobite Party is now become very inconsiderable; but still that Party is not to be ridiculed and made a Joke, of: We are not so much to despise all Attempts that may be made by them, as not to take any Measures to provide ourselves against them; such a Security is the best Thing they can wish for; they would be glad to be despised in such a Manner. Gentlemen may say what they will of the little Consequence of any Endeavours that have been, or may be used by them; but the late Rebellion is a certain Testimony that they are not to be too much despised. The Fate of the Kingdom was at that Time brought even to the Decision of a Day, and if the Rebels had been successful but at Preston, I do not know what might have been the Consequences; I dread to think of them: But let them have been never so fatal, if the Liberties of this Nation had been overthrown by the Success of those Rebels, it would have been entirely owing to our having so few Regular Forces on Foot at that Time. We have escaped that Danger, but do not let us expose ourselves every Day to such Dangers for the future, which must be the necessary Consequence of reducing any Part of the small Army now on Foot, and desired to be continued.
'A Parliamentary Army never yet did any Harm to this Nation, but Reductions of that Army have often been fatal. I have been assured by a Minister of very great Consequence at the Court of France, that the reducing of our Army after the Peace of Ryswick very much encouraged the Court of France to take such Measures, and to make such bold Steps as they afterwards did. They would have been more cautious if we had kept ourselves in a Capacity of pouring in a numerous Army upon them; but they saw that we had put it out of our Power; and therefore they despised us. The Reduction of the Army after the Treaty of Utrecht had not, by good Luck, all the ill Consequences that were designed, but the Reduction was certainly made with no good Intent. I have a good Opinion enough of the late Queen, she had not, perhaps, any ill Intentions; but I am convinced that her Ministers had laid a Scheme for overturning the Protestant Succession; and they had no other Way of executing this Scheme, but by getting free of all those brave Officers and Soldiers who had served their Country so saithfully in the late Wars; this was what made the Army be reduced at that Time so low as it was: The Ministers knew that those honest Officers would not serve them in the Execution of their destructive Schemes, but they took Care to supply their Place by a Body of above 6000 Men, who were privately kept in Pay, and maintained under colour of Chelsea-Hospital; and the Consequence shewed what Sort of Men these new Troops were, for almost every Man of them appeared in Arms in the late Rebellion against the Government. We have heard the Treaty of Utrecht, upon which this Reduction was made, applauded by some; whether it deserves any such Applause I do not know; but I am certain, that since that Time we have been obliged to enter into separate Treaties and Negotiations almost with every Power in Europe, for amending or explaining the Blunders of that Treaty; and if we are now right, whoever aseribes our being so to that Treaty, may be said to be like a Man, who after breaking another's Bones, and seeing them set again very right, and well cured by an able Surgeon, cries, You are obliged to me, Sir, for this great Cure that has been performed upon you.
'After all, Sir, I would not have the Friends to the present Establishment think themselves absolutely safe and secure; it is not to be supposed but that his Majesty has still some private Enemies, even in our own Country; People may say what they will about the Treatment the Petition for erecting King William's Statue lately met with, but I look upon it as an Affront designedly put upon the Revolution; and I am sure it never could have met with so much Contempt from any thing, but a Spirit of Jacobitism still subsisting in the Country, which can never be destroyed but by taking away from them all Hopes of Success, and this can only be done by keeping up an Army sufficient to defend us against their utmost Efforts.'
Mr Noel spoke next and said, 'That he approved very much of his Majesty's Speech to both Houses at the Beginning of the Session; he was glad to observe, that his Majesty therein declared, in so strong Terms, his Affection for his People, but from the Motion that had been made for such a Number of Troops, he thought the Speech ought to have concluded with these Words, That his Majesty, to shew his Affection for his People, would quarter upon them for next Year but 18,000 Men.'
'I see this Question in the same Light with those Gentlemen, who are of Opinion that the Determination of it will shew the People of Great-Britain, whether they are to enjoy their Civil Constitution, with all its Rights and Privileges, or to endure a Military Government, with all its Inconveniencies and Oppressions.
'However harsh this Assertion may sound, it is so well founded, that if we cannot now hope for a Reduction of the Army, we may for ever despair of it. For this is the Conjuncture, this is the Crisis, when the People of Great-Britain may with Reason and Justice expect, I had almost said demand, an Exemption from every unnecessary Tax; and as none is more grievous at all times, so none seems to be more unnecessary at this Time, than that which is occasioned by maintaining an Extraordinary Number of LandForces. Such an Exemption must be acceptable to his Majesty, who hath been most graciously pleased to open this Session with declaring, "That it is a Pleasure to him to give Ease to his Subjects, whenever the Welfare of the Publick will admit of it."
'Sir, There can be no doubt, but the Welfare of the Publick will now admit of reducing our Expences on the Head of the Army. For we have the same Royal Assurance, That the general Tranquility of Europe is fully restored and established; that all the jarring and contending Powers are united, all the different Views of Interest and Ambition reconciled, by his Majesty's extensive Influence, and consummate Wisdom; that the Wounds, which have been long bleeding, are entirely cured, by his healing Hand; that Peace and good Harmony are returned together; that the Duty and Affection of his Subjects, are all he desires for his Paternal Love and Concern for them; that his Government has no other Security, but what is equally conducive to their Happiness.
'This is the Situation, which his Majesty promises himself will inspire us with such a seasonable Zeal for the Publick Good, as becomes a Parliament sensible of the Blessings they enjoy. And Imagination cannot form a more pleasing Idea, a more perfect Plan of National Prosperity, than what is here described. Nor could a good and gracious Prince bring better Tidings, or communicate more welcome News from the Throne, to a Free People.
'Since then his Majesty has so gloriously performed his Part, let us not be wanting on ours. Let us take the earliest Opportunity of convincing those we represent, that they are immediately to reap the Fruit of his Royal Labours, and that all their Grievances will be gradually redressed. Let us begin with reducing the Army, and making them sensible, that it is not intended they should any longer bear the Burthen and Inconveniencies of War, in a Day of prosound Peace, and universal Tranquility.
'If we fail in this great Point, the People, who did not resign their Understandings, when they delegated their Power to us, know they have a Right to judge for themselves. They will not be imposed upon by Appearances. They will be apt, notwithstanding all the fine Words they hear, and all the fine Speeches they read, to call this boasted Success, these promised Blessings, no more than a mere Delusion, a golden Dream, a chimerical and visionary Scene of Happiness.
'I wish therefore the honourable Person, who moved this Question, and the other Gentlemen who have been his CoAdjutors in the Support of it, had been a little more explicit. I wish instead of amusing the Committee, with a Detail of the various Reductions of our Forces from the Treaty of Ryswick down to this Day, and assigning wrong Causes and Consequences to each of those Reductions; instead of assuring us, that, to their own private Knowledge, the Officers of the Army had frequently, on extraordinary Occasions, assisted the Civil Magistrates in the Execution of their Duty; instead of reviving the old exploded Argument of Disaffection and Jacobitism; I wish, instead of rambling so widely from the Point in Debate, they would have dealt more candidly with their Audience, and told us plainly, whether they think a Standing Land-Force will always be necessary to preserve and secure our present happy Settlement; or whether they think the Civil Constitution of this Kingdom, so weakly, and so imperfectly framed, as to want something of the Military Power to strengthen and sustain it. If they entertain the first of these Notions, they must give me Leave to take Notice, that such an Insinuation is unjust, and the Argument odious, since it is a very gross Reflection on our present happy Settlement, which is founded on the Principles of Liberty; and which you know, Sir, was intended to rectify all the Errors, and to reform all the Abuses of preceding Reigns. I say, it is a very gross Reflection on our present Settlement, to suppose that his Majesty cannot wear his Crown with Safety, but by burthening the Nation with the constant Charge of maintaining near 18,000 Men; but by establishing a Force, which will perpetually interfere with the Liberty of his Subjects, and consequently shake the Foundation of his Throne. For, however changeable the Counsels and Actions of Ministers may be, the Nature of Things is permanent, and it is impossible, that what has been the constant, the certain Cause of Destruction to other Governments, should, by any new Schemes, by any Resinements in Politicks, be made the sole, or at least the chief, Security of his Majesty's Crown. 'Tis true indeed, that the Parliament has of late Years consented to keep up an Extraordinary Number of Troops in Time of Peace, for Reasons better known to those who gave their Consent, than to me who opposed them when they did so: But it has never yielded up, or renounced, that Fundamental Maxim, viz. That a Land-Force in England ought to be considered as the Creature of Necessity, which should not be allowed to subsist one Moment longer, than the Exigences of the State require.
'If they entertain the second Notion, they are equally mistaken in that, as in the first; for it is a Notion highly injurious to our Constitution, which was so happily compounded in its original Formation, that it can receive no Addition or Alteration, without Prejudice. There is so close, so just a Connexion betwixt all the Parts of it, that if any One should be made independent of the rest, it would destroy that Symmetry, which is essential to the Whole, and which distinguishes it from all other Constitutions. The Crown, though limited, is armed with Prerogative and Power, sufficient, as well to defend itself, as to protect its Subjects. The People are possessed of Rights and Privileges, in as extensive a Degree, as is consistent with the Nature of Monarchy, and those Rights and Privileges are secured to them by the strongest and most sacred Obligations. Nay, this Notion is not only injurious, but impracticable; for what I have frequently advanced here must be universally allowed, that the Civil and Military Power cannot subsist long together; and it is easy to foretel which will at last prevail, which will at last assume the sole Dominion. We see the fatal Effects of such a Conjunction in those Kingdoms, where Armies tyrannize, and where Senates servilely obey.
'Now God forbid, that the delightful View, the glorious Prospect which his Majesty has opened to his Subjects, of their present envied Condition, and of their future unspeakable Felicities, should terminate in Confusion and Calamity. God forbid, that any Compliance, any Resolution of own should endanger, or alter the best constituted, the best balanced Government in Europe. For as it is the Glory of our Ancestors, that they have maintained it in Opposition to all the Attempts of Innovation, and that they have transmitted it entire to their Posterity; so it will be a Mark of eternal Insamy to that Generation, in whose Time it shall happen, either by the Ambition of the Prince, or by the Treachery of the Ministry, or by the Slavishness of the People, to be surrendered, or destroyed.
'But I forbear running into general Arguments. I forbear too answering the Distinctions, which have been made, betwixt Parliament-Armies and Crown-Armies. For, by what Epithets soever distinguished, or by what Authority soever raised or allowed, Armies are in their Nature the same, and the Danger of continuing them the same, as I have formerly endeavoured to prove, when the Ministry required for many Sessions an extraordinary Number of LandForces, only because they had by their Negligence, or by their Insufficiency, so encumbered and embarrassed the Publick Affairs, that they wanted a stronger Guard, a more effectual Support to secure their Administration, than their own Wisdom and Conduct.
'But the Case is altered, and his Majesty has extricated us out of all the Difficulties, out of the long unsettled State of Affairs, in which his Ministers had involved us. I therefore rest the whole Debate on the Circumstances we are said to be in at this Day, and in that View I take it to be impossible for any one, who is a Well-wisher to the true and antient Constitution of this Kingdom, to vote for the Question as it now stands. I submit indeed to the Amendment made by a noble Lord, [Lord Morpeth] for a smaller Number of Forces than was at first proposed, I mean for 12,000 rather than near 18,000 Men, only as it is the minus Malum, and not because I think that Number now necessary for our Preservation, nor because I think any Number ought ever to be admitted into our Establishment, or considered as a Part of our Constitution, on any Pretence whatsoever.'
Sir R. Walpole.
'I find the Gentlemen, who oppose the Motion made by my honourable Friend, have all along argued, as if the Number of Forces now proposed were to be kept up against Law, or to continue for ever; whereas the very Design of the Motion made to this House is, in order to have a Law for keeping them up; and all that the Gentleman wants by his Motion is, that they shall be continued for this Year only. The Case then before us is, whether it will be more proper, and more for the Benefit of the Nation, to keep up the Number proposed for one Year, or by an ill-timed Frugality to reduce some Part of them, and thereby expose the Nation to be contemned and despised by our Neighbours round us, and that at a Time when the Publick Tranquility is but just settled, and before we can know whether some of our neighbouring Powers are satisfied or not. Nations, as well as private Men, must accommodate their Measures to the Times they live in. The Circumstances of Europe are now much altered from what they were in former Days; but a very few Ages ago there was no such Thing in Europe as what we now call a Standing-Army; there was nothing but the Militia in any Country, and therefore it was no way necessary for us to have any Thing else. If we quarrell'd with any of our Neighbours, we were sure they had nothing but Militia to bring against us, our Militia was, and I hope is still as good as theirs, but I do not believe that any Man will say, that the Militia of any Country can be made fully as good as Regular Troops bred up to Discipline, and accustomed to Command for many Years; the Thing is impossible, and is so look'd on by all the Powers of Europe: There is not now a Sovereign State in Europe, but keeps a Body of Regular Troops in their Pay; there are none of our Neighbours but what keep a much greater Number than we do; and therefore it is become in a manner absolutely necessary for us to keep some; we must have some Regular Troops to oppose to those that may upon a sudden Emergency be brought against us, and to obstruct and oppose their Passage till we have Time to raise more: The only Question is, how great a Number we ought to keep, and in what Manner they are to be kept up, and so as not to be dangerous to our Constitution?
'As to the preventing of any Danger arising from the Regular Forces kept up, I do not think there can be a better Method proposed, than that of keeping them up only by Authority of Parliament, and continuing them only from Year to Year; by this Method, Sir, they must always be dependent upon, and subservient to the Parliament or People, and consequently can never be made use of for any Thing, but for the Preservation and Safety of the People against all Attempts foreign and domestick; and while they are kept up in this Manner, they will always be a Terror to our Enemies, without subjecting us to any of those Misfortunes which other Countries have fallen into. A Standing Army, I find, is represented by some Gentlemen, who have spoke upon the other Side of the Question, as not to be depended on even by the King, whose Service they are in. I grant that an Army of British Subjects, whatever Way kept up or modelled, is not to be trusted to by a King who makes any Attempts upon the Liberties of the People; but if such an Army, raised and maintained without Consent of Parliament was, we find, not to be trusted to by a King who had such Designs, how much less can any Man depend for the Execution of such Designs upon an Army such a we have at present? An Army raised, kept up, and main tained by the People; an Army that may be dismissed by them when they please; and an Army that is commanded by Gentlemen of some of the best Estates and Families amongst us, who never can be supposed capable of joining it any Measures for enslaving a Country, where they have so great an Interest, and where their Ancestors have so often signalized themselves in the Cause of Liberty. It is no therefore to be imagined, that ever such an Army can be o any dangerous Consequence to our Liberties, were they much more numerous than they are proposed to be.
'It is certain, that every State in Europe now measure the Strength of their Neighbours by the Number of Regula Troops they can bring into the Field; the Number, or ever the Bravery of any Militia is not now much regarded, and therefore the Influence and the Credit that every State in Europe has, or can expect in the publick Negotiations there of, depends entirely upon the Number of Regular Troop they can command upon any Emergency; we must therefore conclude, that if we reduce the Number of our Forces, ou Influence Abroad will decrease; our Enemies will begin to imagine, that they may catch great Advantages of us, or a least of our Allies, before we can be in a Condition to afford any considerable Assistance to our Friends, or do any great Injury to them; upon which Account I cannot think it prudent to make any great Reduction of our Army, before the Treaties, we have made for establishing the Tranquility o Europe, are fully and absolutely secured by such Alliances as may make the Execution of what we have stipulated and agreed upon, certain and indisputable.
'But even as to our Security at Home, I do not think Sir, that it can bear any Reduction at present; we do not know what sudden and unexpected Attempts may be made upon us; and notwithstanding the great Army we have as is pretended, at present, it is certain that we could no in several Weeks Time bring 5000 Men of Regular Force together in any Part of the Island, for opposing any Invasion that may happen to be made upon us, without stripping our Capital, and leaving it without any Defence against its open or secret Enemies. Those who tell us, that there were no more than 7000 Men in England during the Course of the late War, forget that we had at that Time 4000 or 5000 Men in Scotland, and had all along a great Army Abroad at our Command, which we could bring over when we pleas'd, and did actually bring over 10,000 Men from Flanders, immediately upon the first certain Accounts we had that the French designed an Invasion in Scotland, which made the Number of Regular Forces then in the Island above 20,000, and shews that we were very far from relying upon the 7000 Men, we then had in England, for our sole Defence in the Time of Danger: Besides, we ought to consider that the King of France was then wholly taken up in desending his own Territories, and settling his Son in the Possession of the Spanish Monarchy; he had not Time to think of the Pretender, nor could he spare any Troops for making an Invasion upon us.
'Whereas, should that Nation, or any other begin now to have a Quarrel with us; the first Thing they would probably do, would be to endeavour to steal in the Pretender upon us with a good Body of Regular Troops; which Attempt they will always be the more ready to make, the sewer Regular Forces we have at Home to oppose them: We have now no Army Abroad at our Command; our Allies might perhaps have no more than were absolutely necessary for the Defence of their own Territories, and though they had, we know what a tedious Affair it is before they can be brought over to our Assistance; we cannot therefore properly put our Trust in any but those which we have within the Island, and the Number proposed is the smallest we can trust to, till the Affairs of Europe be so settled, as that we can be in no Danger of an Attack.
'I must take Notice, Sir, that all those who are professed Enemies to our Constitution, and to the Protestant Succession, exclaim loudly against a Standing Army: There is not, I believe, a Jacobite in the Land, but what appears strenuously against the keeping up so great a Number of Regular Forces: I must, Sir, upon this Occasion, acquaint you with a Story that happened to me but the other Day. Some Bills having been lately sent over from Ireland for his Majesty's Approbation, and among them one against the Papists of that Kingdom; Counsel were admitted to be heard for and against the Bill: In arguing of this Matter, it happened that the Counsel for the Papists had Occasion to refer to the Articles of Limerick, and therefore wanted them to be read; but there being no Copy of them then at the Counsel Board, their Solicitor, who was a Papist, pulled a little Book out of his Pocket, and from thence read the Articles: I supposed that this little Book was his Vade Mecum, and therefore I desired to look upon it, and found that it contain'd those Articles of Iimerick, the French King's Declaration against the States of Holland in the Year 1701, and three Arguments against a Standing Army; from whence I concluded, that this Solicitor was a notable Holderforth in Coffee-Houses against the pernicious Consequences of a Standing Army; and I do not doubt, but that if he were a Member of this House, he would be one of the keenest among us against the present Question: For which Reason, Sir, I shall glory in being one of those that are for it.'
Mr W. Pulteney.
'We have heard a great deal about Parliamentary Armies, and about an Army continued from Year to Year; I have always been, Sir, and always shall be against a Standing Army of any Kind; to me it is a terrible Thing, whether under that of Parliamentary or any other Designation; a Standing Army is still a Standing Army, whatever Name it be called by; they are a Body of Men distinct from the Body of the People; they are governed by different Laws; blind Obedience, and an entire Submission to the Orders of their Commanding Officer is their only Principle. The Nations around us, Sir, are already enslaved, and have been enslaved by those very Means; by Means of their Standing Armies they have every one lost their Liberties; it is indeed impossible that the Liberties of the People can be preserved, in any Country where a numerous Standing Army is kept up. Shall we then take any of our Measures from the Examples of our Neighbours? No, Sir, upon the contrary, from their Missortunes we ought to learn to avoid those Rocks upon which they have split.
'It signifies nothing to tell me, that our Army is commanded by such Gentlemen as cannot be supposed to join in any Measures for enslaving their Country; it may be so; I hope it is so; I have a very good Opinion of many Gentlemen now in the Army; I believe they would not join in any such Measures; but their Lives are uncertain, nor can we be sure how long they may be continued in Command; they may be all dismissed in a Moment, and proper Tools of Power put in their Room. Besides, Sir, we know the Passions of Men, we know how dangerous it is to trust the best of Men with too much Power; where was there a braver Army than that under Julius Cæsar? Where was there ever an Army that had served their Country more faithfully? That Army was commanded generally by the best Citizens of Rome, by Men of great Fortune and Figure in their Country; yet that Army enslaved their Country. The Affections of the Soldiers towards their Country, the Honour and Integrity of the Under-Officers, are not to be depended on; by the Military Law, the Administration of Justice is so quick, and the Punishments so severe, that neither Officer or Soldier dares offer to dispute the Orders of his supreme Commander; he must not consult his own Inclinations: If an Officer were commanded to pull his own Father out of this House, he must do it; he dares not disobey; immediate Death would be the sure Consequence of the least Grumbling. And if an Officer were sent into the Court of Requests, accompanied by a Body of Musketeers with screwed Bayonets, and with Orders to tell us what we ought to do, and how we were to vote, I know what would be the Duty of this House; I know it would be our Duty to order the Officer to be taken and hanged up at the Door of the Lobby: But, Sir, I doubt much if such a Spirit could be found in the House, or in any House of Commons that will ever be in England.
'Sir, I talk not of imaginary Things; I talk of what has happened to an English House of Commons, and from an English Army, not only from an English Army, but an Army that was raised by that very House of Commons, an Army that was paid by them, and an Army that was commanded by Generals appointed by them; therefore, do not let us vainly imagine, that an Army raised and maintained by Authority of Parliament will always be submissive to them: If an Army be so numerous as to have it in their Power to overawe the Parliament, they will be submissive as long as the Parliament does nothing to disoblige their Favourite General; but when that Case happens, I am afraid that instead of the Parliament's dismissing the Army, the Army will dismiss the Parliament, as they have done heretofore. Nor does the Legality or Illegality of that Parliament, or of that Army, alter the Case, for with respect to that Army, and according to their way of Thinking, the Parliament dismissed by them was a legal Parliament; they were an Army raised and maintained according to Law, and at first they were raised, as they imagined, for the Preservation of those Liberties which they afterwards destroy'd.
'It has been urged, Sir, that whoever is for the Protestant Succession must be for continuing the Army: For that very Reason, Sir, I am against continuing the Army: I know that neither the Protestant Succession in his Majesty's most Illustrious House, nor any Succession can ever be safe as long as there is a Standing Army in the Country. Armies, Sir, have no Regard to Hereditary Successions. The first two Cæsars at Rome did pretty well, and found Means to keep their Armies in tolerable Subjection, because the Generals and Officers were all their own Creatures; but how did it fare with their Successors? Was not every one of them named by the Army without any Regard to Hereditary Right, or to any Right? A Cobler, a Gardiner, or any Man who happened to raise himself in the Army, and could gain their Affections, was made Emperor of the World: Was not every succeeding Emperor raised to the Throne, or tumbled headlong into the Dust, according to the meer Whim or mad Frenzy of the Soldiers?
'We are told, Ho! Gentlemen, but this Army is desired to be continued but for one Year longer, it is not desired to be continued for any Term of Years; how absurd is this Distinction: Is there any Army in the World continued for any Term of Years? Does the most absolute Monarch tell his Army, that he is to continue them for any Number of Years, or any Number of Months? How long have we already continued our Army from Year to Year? And if it thus continues, wherein will it differ from the Standing Armies of those Countries which have already submitted their Necks to the Yoke? We are now come to the Rubicon; our Army is now to be reduced, or it never will; from his Majesty's own Mouth we are assured of a profound Tranquility Abroad, we know there is one at Home; if this is not a proper Time, if these Circumstances do not afford us a safe Opportunity for reducing at least a Part of our Regular Forces, we never can expect to see any Reduction; and this Nation, already overloaded with Debts and Taxes, must be loaded with the heavy Charge of perpetually supporting a numerous Standing Army; and remain for ever exposed to the Danger of having its Liberties and Privileges trampled upon, by any future King or Ministry, who shall take it in their Heads to do so, and shall take a proper Care to model the Army for that Purpose.'
Mr Pulteney moves for an Account of what Savings had been made by Vacancies in the Army. ; Debate thereon. ; Sir W. Strickland.
Jan. 27. Mr William Pulteney moved, 'That an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, that he would be graciously pleased to give Directions to the proper Officers, to lay before the House an Account of what Commissions in the Army and Governments of Garrisons had been kept vacant, and what Savings had been made thereupon.' Upon this Sir William Strickland stood up and said, 'That no such Account had ever been kept at the War Office; the Custom there was, that when any Officer died, the Commissary certified his Death to that Office, in order that the Pay might be stopt; and they never began to issue any Money upon that Account till a new Commission was lodged in that Office.
Sir W. Yonge.
Sir William Yonge added, 'That whatever Savings could possibly be upon that Account amounted to such a small Sum, that it was a meer Trifle, and was not worth being taken any Notice of by that House.'
Mr H. Pelham.
Mr Henry Pelham said, 'That all the Time he had been in that Office, and he believed it was so still, no Commissions were ever kept vacant for any Time; That it was always his Majesty's Custom to fill up every Commission in the Army immediately after it became vacant, so that there could be little or no Savings upon that Account; and if there was any, the Custom had always been to leave it to be disposed of by his Majesty, in such Manner as he thought fit.'
Mr W. Pulteney.
'I made this Motion in a manner by meer Accident; but I do not think it is any Argument against it to tell us, that the Savings amount to but a meer Trifle; we shall be best Judges of that, when we see the Accounts laid before us; and let it amount to what it will, if it is saved, (I will not say sunk, being a hard Word) we ought to inquire into the Application of it. I believe there are not a great many Commissions kept long vacant, but I am sure there have been some that have been kept vacant for a considerable Time; we ought at least to have an Account of them; because I observe there is a Demand every Year brought in, which is called, An Account of Services incurred and not provided for; I think the most proper Way of answering this Account is, to have An Account of Services provided for and not performed. I am persuaded that in the Civil-List Revenue there is not an Office vacant for a Day, but what the Savings thereby are brought to Account, and disposed of in the most frugal Manner; I think the same good Management ought to be observ'd in the Army.'
General Ross said, 'That he supposed the same Method was observed now, that was formerly observed in Flanders: That he knew no Commission was then kept vacant for any Time; as soon as ever the Death of any Officer was certified, a new Commission was granted to some other in his Place, and what little Savings could be made that way were always left to the Disposal of the General, and were apply'd by him in such Manner as he thought most proper for the Publick Service.
'Whatever is given for the Maintenance of the Army is a Part of the Publick Money, and it is our Business to call for the Accounts, and inquire into the Disposal of every Farthing of such Money. If the Savings by vacant Commissions have hitherto been well and properly apply'd, they who advised such Applications will have the more Honour, and if there have been any Mis-applications, this House ought to take Care to prevent any such for the Future. In past Times the Savings upon this Account may perhaps amount to but a Trisle; however, it is certain, that considering the great Number of Officers we maintain, a very large Sum may be annually saved; and if we never call for any such Account, Commissions may in Time of Peace be kept vacant for a long Time, on purpose thereby to raise Money, in order to convert it to Uses that may be prejudicial to the Nation.'
Sir R. Walpole.
'During all the Time that the Duke of Marlborough commanded our Armies, there was never any Commission became vacant but was immediately filled up; There was, indeed, generally about a Week allowed for the filling up of any Vacancy, but what was saved that way was generally given to the Colonel of the Regiment, to answer some of the extraordinary Expences he was sometimes put to; or it was given to the Officer that succeeded, to defray the Charges he might be at upon account of his new Commission. The same Custom is still observ'd, and any little Savings that happen between the Death of one Officer, and the putting of another in his room, have always been dispos'd of by his Majesty in the Manner I have mention'd, or have been apply'd to charitable Uses, and given in small Sums to those of the Army who stood in need of any such. I hope this House does not intend to take the Disposal of such small Charities into their own Hands, contrary to the Custom that has always hitherto been observed; I do not think that this House can be so good a Judge as a Board of General Officers in the Disposal of such Charities; and while it is left to his Majesty, he can always have the Advice of such a Board when any small Sum is to be disposed of in that Way. As to the Civil List, there are no Savings by any Vacancies in that Part of the Revenue; every Place is filled up as soon as it becomes vacant, in the same Manner as it is in the Army, the Management in both is the same, and in both there is as much Frugality as possible.'
The Committee vote 17,709 Men for the Year 1732; and 653,216 l. 10 s. 1 d. for the Charge thereof.
This Debate being over, Sir Charles Turner reported the Resolutions of the Committee on the Supply, as follows, viz. I. That the Number of effective Men, to be provided for Guards and Garrisons in Great Britain, and for Guernsey and Jersey, for the Year 1732, be, including 1815 Invalids, and 555 Men, which the six Independent Companies consist of for the Service of the Highlands, 17,709 Men, Commission and Non-Commission Officers included. II. That a Sum not exceeding 653,2161. 10 s, 1 d. be granted to his Majesty, for defraying the Charge of the said 17,709 Men.
The Resolutions of the Committee relating to the Land-Forces being reported, the first Resolution is agreed to. ; Debate on the second Resolution. ; Mr Walt. Plumer.
'There was last Night such a long Debate upon the first of these Resolutions, and such a Disturbance upon the second, that I could not then have an Opportunity to speak to it. I hope therefore, Sir, that the House will now indulge me with a little Time to give my Sentiments even as to this second Resolution. Sir, it is highly necessary for the Good and Welfare of this Nation, that every Farthing of the Charge which the People are put to should be publickly known, and fully considered by this House; the Nation ought not to be cheated, and made to believe, that the maintaining of this 18,000 Men cost them only 653,000 l. when in reality it costs them a great deal more. Besides the Money that is raised among the People, and paid into the Hands of the Government, for maintaining this Army, there is not an Innkeeper, an Ale-House, or a Brandy-Shop in the Nation, but what pays a very great additional Tax, by Way of Quarters for the Officers and Soldiers.
'But there is still, Sir, a much greater Evil arises from this hidden way of raising Money upon the People. It is, Sir, an arbitrary and an unequal Way of raising Money, and consequently affords to those, who have the Management of the Army, an Opportunity of oppressing some People, or some Parts of the Nation. If any Country, if any Borough in this Kingdom disobliges those in Power, by sending Representatives to this House, who do not vote as the Ministers would have them, it is in the Power of the Government, even without any Pretence for so doing, to send a great Number of the Regular Forces to be quartered upon that County or that Borough; by which Means a much greater Sum is raised upon the People of that County or Borough, than is proportionally raised in any other Part of the Nation; any, even if any private Inn-keeper, or Ale-House Man in any County or Borough shall give a wrong Vote at the Election of Members of Parliament, it is in the Power of the Government, by means of the Justices and the Constables who are named by them, to oppress that Man, by quartering more Soldiers upon him, than are in Proportion quartered upon any one of his Neighbours. These are Grievances which the Nation justly complain of, and we ought to consider how they are to be redressed.
Sir W. Strickland.
'The honourable Gentleman, who spoke last, seems, by what he has said, to bring a Charge against me, or at least against those, who have been in the Office which I have the Honour to be in at present. For my own part, Sir, I can safely declare, that ever since I came into that Office, there has been no Favour shewn to any one Part of the Country, nor to any one Man in the Nation; we have never so much as thought of having a Regard to any thing, but to that of cantoning and quartering the Troops into such Places, as were most easy for the Country and most convenient for them; unless when the Safety and Security of the Nation in general required the marching of a Number of them into any particular Country. This, Sir, has been the Method ever since I came into the Office: It shall be the Method as long as I continue in it; and I firmly believe, that the same Method was always observed by my Predecessors in Office.'
Mr E. Waller.
'I do not know what Method has been observ'd in cantoning and quartering the Troops, but I know that the Country complains heavily of the Oppressions they lie under upon that Account; it is but a little Time ago since some of my own Tenants came and told me, that they should be ruined by the Dragoons that were quarter'd upon them; they had not, they said, a Lock of Hay but what they were obliged to give to the Soldiers; so that all their own Cattle were in danger of being starved. For, Sir, in all Countries where the Soldiers come, they and their Horses must be first serv'd, and with the best of every Thing too; and what is still worse, the poor People are often obliged to serve them at their own Prices.'
Mr H. Pelham.
'As I had the Honour to serve for some Time in that Office, and particularly at the Time mention'd by the honourable Gentleman who spoke last, I think it necessary to say something upon the present Occasion. I remember very well, that Gentleman did make some Complaints to me; but I remember likewise, and he must also remember it, that I told him that the Review, which was at that Time, was the Occasion of bringing so many of the Forces into that Country; and as soon as that was over they were sent elsewhere, and that Gentleman's Tenants, in particular, were relieved from any Hardship they might think they lay under upon that Account. During the whole time that I was in that Office, there was never any such Complaint made to me, but that I immediately order'd Relief to the Persons who thought themselves aggrieved, or gave them such Reasons why I could not give them Relief, as they seemed to be satisfied with. In such Cases I never had any Respect of Persons; so far otherwise, that I have often given Relief at the Desire of those with whom I never did vote in this House, nor I believe ever shall; and have order'd those very Troops to be sent and quarter'd upon those, with whom I have always agreed in Opinion.'
'I am sorry that what I proposed only for the Relief of the Publick, should be turned into a personal Dispute, or that Gentlemen should begin to vindicate themselves before they are accused. I did not say, that the honourable Gentleman now in the Office, or that any Gentleman that has been in that Office, used any unjustifiable Methods in that respect, to favour one Party in the Nation more than another; all that I said, and I say so still, was, that such Methods may be practised, such Means may be used for oppressing those who happen to differ in Opinion from the chief Men in Power; and such Means being of dangerous Consequence to our Constitution, they ought to be guarded against and prevented if possible. The Army, Sir, is supported, I hope, and maintained for the Service of all, and therefore all the Subjects of the Nation ought to contribute equally to the Expence of maintaining it. There is not a Soldier quarter'd upon an Inn-keeper in Town or Country, but what costs that Inn-keeper near as much as he costs the Government; so that if we were to raise all the Money by Parliamentary Authority, that is necessary for maintaining the great Army we have, I am afraid we must raise near double the Sum that is proposed.'
Mr W. Pulteney.
'I was afraid at the Beginning of this Debate, that Barracks were to have been proposed; I am glad to find it is not so. I am indeed as much as any Person for giving Relief to that Part of our poor oppressed Subjects, the Innkeepers and Victuallers; for since I find that an Army is like to be a Part of our Constitution, I think it very just and reasonable, that the Expence of maintaining them should be laid as equally as possible upon the whole People of the Nation. But, Sir, I must observe, that the same Money that we raise for maintaining 18,000 Men, would maintain 60,000 Men of Regular Forces in France, Germany, or any other Country in Europe, according to their Way of regulating their Armies. I know, Sir, from whence our great Expence proceeds: It is from the great Number of Officers maintained in our Army; we have so many Regiments, and so few private Men in each Regiment, that really a great Part of our Army are Commission or Non-Commission Officers, which makes our Army so expensive to us, and at the same Time makes it more dangerous to our Constitution. I have been assured that 100,000 l. English Money per Annum will maintain 10,000 Men of the Armies of France or Germany, or any other Troops but our own: And I have been told, I do not say that I remember, or that I can depend upon my Author, that the 12,000 Hessians, which we have so long maintain'd, were maintain'd for less than that Sum yearly.'
Sir R. Walpole.
'I wish the Gentleman, who spoke last, would give us his Author for the Fact mentioned; let him be who he will, I know the Story to be false: But it is the common Way of scandalizing the Government, to invent and spread false Reports thro' the Country. The Stipulation for the 12,000 Hessians was made, Sir, upon the same Footing that all such Stipulations were made during the last War; there was not a Penny less stipulated to be paid for them, than what was agreed to by the House, and the whole Money was yearly advanced them, according to the Accounts that have been laid before the House.
'Those who are acquainted with the Method of maintaining a German Army, will not envy them the Happiness of maintaining their Troops at so cheap a Rate as they do. It is well known, that what they come short of ours in Pay, they do more than make up by plundering, oppressing, and raising Contributions upon the Countries where they are quartered. When I was in Italy, Sir, I had the Honour to be invited to dine with one of the German Generals, who commanded in that Country: When I came to the Palace where he had his Quarters, I found the Hall and the Avenues leading thereto full of Country People, some with Wine, some with Beer, some with Bread, some with Fowls, some with Pigs, and God knows how many other Things; I could not imagine what all this meant; but when we came to sit down at Table, I found such Variety of Dishes, such Variety of Wines, so magnificent Attendance, and so sumptuous an Entertainment every manner of way, which at the same Time I was told to be the General's ordinary Way of living, that I was very much surprize'd; and after Dinner, over a Glass of Wine, I took the Liberty to ask the General, For God's Sake, Sir, how are you able to live after this Rate? for it would break any of our English Generals to live in so splendid a Manner; our Pay could not support it. Pay, Sir, says he, Why, I have none upon this Account from the Government; all this comes from the Country where I am quartered, which they are obliged to furnish me with for nothing; I have, Sir, seven Miles of the Country round allotted to me for supporting my Table. Then, Sir, I guess'd at the Meaning of all those Country People's being in and about the Hall; I found they were all come with their Peace-Offerings to the General: At this Rate, Sir, a German Officer does not stand in need of much Pay from the Government; but I hope the Kingdom of England will never be served at such a Rate.'
Sir W. Wyndham.
'I do not know what may be the Methods by which the Germans or French maintain their Armies; but let their Manner be what it will, I am sure that the Expence we are now at for maintaining our Army is much greater than necessary; nay, Sir, much greater than was usual, even among ourselves for maintaining an equal Number of Men. I know that during the last War 18,000 of our Troops were maintained abroad for 400,000 l. per Annum, and both the Officers and Soldiers had the same Pay they have now; it is true, it may be said, that this Body of Men did not cost so much, because there were no Guards among them; but I know, Sir, that 12,000 Men, Guards and Garrisons included, were maintained at home for between 3 and 400,000 l. per Annum; out of which Sum were paid, the General's Money, Waggon-Money, Contingencies, and all other Items whatever, any way appertaining to the Army. Considering the State this Nation is in at present, and the heavy Debts it is loaded with, I think no proper Method for saving the Publick Money ought to be neglected; if we must maintain an Army, let us maintain it at as cheap a Rate as possible. Even 100,000 l. per Annum would make no small Figure, if added yearly to the Sinking Fund: I hope, therefore, this Affair will be thought on, and taken into Consideration when we meet next Year.'