The History and Proceedings of the House of Commons: Volume 8, 1733-1734. Originally published by Chandler, London, 1742.
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March 28, Sir Robert Walpole presented to the House the following Message from his Majesty:
Sir Robert Walpole presents a Message from the King, to enable his Majesty to augment his Forces, if Occasion should require it, between the Dissolution of this Parliament and the Election of another.
"His Majesty very thankfully acknowledges the Zeal and Affection which this Parliament has shewn, in the early Dispatch they have already made in the necessary Supplies for the Publick Service. But the War which has broke out in Europe, still unhappily continuing, His Majesty has nothing more at Heart than to see that Flame extinguished, and to avoid, if possible, the engaging His Subjects in the Hazards and Expence of a War; being at the same time desirous neither to give any just Alarm to other Nations, nor subject himself to any unprovoked Insults.—In this view, and to the end that His Majesty's Endeavours, in Conjunction with His Allies, for procuring an Accommodation, may in due time have the desir'd Effect, and that His Majesty may be in a Condition to make good such Engagements as Honour, Justice, and Prudence may call upon him to fulfil or contract, and that his Kingdom may not be left exposed to any desperate Attempts, during such time as it may be impossible for His Majesty to have the immediate Advice and Assistance of his Great Council, upon any Emergency arising from the present Posture of Affairs in Europe, which may nearly concern the Interest and Safety of these Kingdoms; His Majesty hopes, he shall be enabled and supported by his Parliament, in making such future Augmentation of his Forces, either by Sea or Land, as may be absolutely necessary for the Honour and Defence of His Kingdom; and in concerting such Measures as the Exigency of Affairs may require. Whatever Augmentations shall be made, or Services performed on Account thereof, shall be laid before the next Parliament."
Debate on a Motion for taking the said Message into Consideration.
A Motion being made by Sir Robert Walpole, for taking the said Message into Consideration the next Day, Mr. Shippen stood up, and said,
Mr. William Shippen.
'When I reflect upon what happened in this House the very first Day of this Session, I am a good deal surprised at a Message of this Nature; and the more, that it is now brought in upon us at the very End of a Session, and that Session, I suppose, the last of a long Parliament. I remember that I, as well as some other Gentlemen, took Exception at some Words proposed to be in our Address, in Answer to his Majesty's Speech from the Throne at the Opening of this Session, because they seemed to bear something like a Promise of a Vote of Credit; upon which Occasion the Honourable Gentleman who has made you this Motion, and his Friends, pretended to be greatly astonished at our Sagacity, and seemed, as I then thought, to give us Assurances that nothing of that Kind should be asked for in this Session.
'I must confess, Sir, I had some sort of Dependance upon what they said, but as they were only the Words and Promises of Ministers of State, in which I never had any great Faith, I begin now to be ashamed even of that little Confidence I put in them. I do not know indeed but they may now find an Excuse for their Breach of Promise in this respect; for I must grant that what they now ask for is not properly a Vote of Credit, it is an absolute Surrender of all we have in the World. This, indeed, is laying the Ax to the Root of the Tree, and may prevent our being ever troubled with any Demands for the future: But as this is an Affair of the greatest Consequence to the whole Nation, as well as to the Gentlemen now in this House, I hope some longer Time will be given to Gentlemen to consider of such an extraordinary Demand, before they be obliged to determine what they are to do; for if they once agree to such a Grant, it may be generously and voluntarily restored, but it will never be in their Power to resume it.
'When we come to take the Message into our Consideration, I don't doubt, Sir, but the Honourable Gentleman who brought it will not only give us the Reasons, why it became necessary for his Majesty to send us such a Message, but why it was so long in being sent; therefore I shall not till then so much suspect his Candour, as to think there was any unfair Design in delaying it till so many Gentlemen are gone into the Country: but as it has been so long delay'd, I hope some few Days will be granted before we take it into Consideration, that some of those Gentlemen may have Time to return: I shall not pretend to name any Day; but if the Honourable Gentleman will be so good as to withdraw his Motion, I doubt not of some other Gentleman's rising up to propose some more distant Day.'
To this Sir Robert Walpole replied;
Sir Robert Walpole.
'I have not forgot what pass'd in this House the first Day of the Session: I remember that some Gentlemen did then take Exceptions to some Expressions in the Address proposed, as if a Promise of a Vote of Credit was couched under these Expressions: And upon that Occasion I might for once take the liberty to assure the House, that no such Use should be made, or was intended to be made, of any Expression then proposed to be put into our Address. This, I remember, was what I said, and I said no more: Nor can I believe that any more was said by any Gentleman in this House; for as the Necessity of demanding Votes of Credit depend upon future Events, it would have been ridiculous for any Gentleman to have pretended to have promised, that no such Thing should be desired.
'As to the Message itself, it is not now proper to enter into the Merits of it, or into the Causes which have produced it; but in all the Time I have had the Honour to sit in Parliament, I remember no Instance where a Message, signed by the King, has not been next Day taken into Consideration. This is a Respect which has been always paid to the Crown; and I am sure his present Majesty has never done any thing to merit less Respect being paid by the Parliament to him, than what has been paid to all his Predecessors. I am persuaded, when we come to enter into the Merits of the Message, there can be no Reason found for making a Distinction between this and the former Messages of the like nature; and the Necessity of sending it at this Conjuncture will be made fully appear: therefore, as I have already moved, I hope the House will take it into Consideration to-morrow Morning.'
Sir William Wyndham spoke next:
Sir William Wyndham.
'I must own my Surprise is as great as my worthy Friend's, that a Message of this nature should be sent to this House so near the Close of this Session; for whatever Promises were or were not made the first Day of the Session, I am very sure most Gentlemen expected that every thing of Consequence had been over long before this Time; and upon this general Presumption, a great many Gentlemen, who have not the Honour to be let into Ministerial Secrets, are gone into the Country; it being at present more necessary, perhaps, than usual, for such Gentlemen to return to their respective Countries, in order to prevent their being bought and jobbed out of that natural Interest by which only they can expect to enjoy the Honour of representing their Country in Parliament. But however necessary their Presence may be at this Time, yet if Time be allowed them, I doubt not but most of them will think it their Duty to return to the Service of their Country in this House; when they hear that a Matter of so very great Importance is to come before us; it is, I think, Sir, a Matter of the highest Importance; it is, as my worthy Friend called it, an absolute Surrender of our All, a Surrender of the Rights, and a delegating the Power of Parliament to the Crown. This absolute Power, 'tis true, is now demanded but till next Session of Parliament; but if it were not for the great Confidence I repose in his present Majesty, I should be much afraid the next Session would never be allowed to meet, unless upon the new Election a Majority of the Members should appear to be such as would be ready to confirm, or to renew that Surrender.
'The honourable Gentleman on the Floor has told us, that it has always been usual to shew so much Respect to the Crown, as to take such Messages as the present into our Consideration the very next Day, and that he remembers no Instance to the contrary. 'Tis true, Sir, since I have sat in Parliament, I remember many, but too many, Messages something of this Nature; and I believe they have always been taken into Consideration the next Day; but that did not proceed so much from the Respect we owe to the Crown, as from the Cause of sending the Message: There never was a Message of this kind sent from the Crown, but when the Nation was threatened with some such thing as an immediate Invasion or Insurrection, which in the Body of the Message was expressed to be the Reason or Cause of sending such a Message; and as in such Cases the near Approach of the Danger required the immediate concerting of proper Measures to prevent it, we may suppose this was the chief Reason of their being so immediately taken into Consideration by this House. But as we are generally apt to improve upon bad Precedents, I will be bold to say, there never was such a Message sent to Parliament as the present, either with respect to its Nature, to the Reason of sending it, or to the Time of its being sent. By no Message that was ever sent to Parliament, was there an absolute and unlimited Power demanded by the Crown; which to every Gentleman must appear, at first sight, to be the Demand now made upon us: there was never such a Message sent to Parliament, but what informed us of some immediate Danger impending, and just ready to fall upon the Nation. By the present Message we are told of no such Thing; nor do I believe that any such Thing can be pretended: and I remember no Instance of a Message any way resembling this, that ever was sent to this House the very End of a Session, and that Session the last of a Parliament.
'I cannot indeed, Sir, form to my self a Reason why any such Message should have been at all sent; and much less can I form a Reason why it should have been sent at such a remarkable Time; therefore I must think, that Gentlemen will certainly expect to be informed by those who are able to inform them, what Necessity there was for this Message, and from what sudden, and, till now, unforeseen Change in our Affairs the sending of such a Message has now become more necessary, than it was at any Time during the former part of the Session: But whatever may be told us as to this particular, considering that almost one half of the House are, for Reasons we all know, retired to the Country, in Decency, I think, and out of Regard to our own Proceedings, as well as out of Respect to the Crown; whatever is to be done in consequence of this Message, ought to be done in a full House. Whether you should order a Call, or which may be a shorter and more effectual Method, direct Letters to the Sheriffs, I shall leave to Gentlemen to determine; but one of the two ought certainly to be done, unless the honourable Gentleman who brought us the Message, will rise up and inform us of some imminent Danger we are now threatned with: and, even in that case, I think some few Days ought to be allowed, that those Gentlemen, at least, who are at no great Distance, may have Time to come up, and attend the Service of the House upon this important Occasion; otherwise it will look like stealing a Resolution of the House, when Gentlemen's Backs are turned; which, I am sure, can testify no great Respect to the Crown. Sir, if we are really threatened with any immediate Danger, I shall propose the taking of this Message into our Consideration on Monday or Tuesday next; and I am sure, let the Necessity be never so pressing, let the Danger be never so great, so short a Delay can be attended with no great Inconvenience; and whatever Resolution you may come to, it will carry the greater Weight, and will be the more effectual for obviating any impending Danger.'
To this Sir William Yonge answered:
Sir William Yonge.
'I remember no Promises or Assurances given the first Day of the Session, other than those which the honourable Gentleman by me has fully and rightly stated to you; and as no Gentleman has drawn, or, I believe, will draw any Argument in favour of the present Question, from any Words or Expressions in the Address then agreed to, I do not think that either the Promises then made, or the Assurances then given, can have any relation to the present Debate. But Gentlemen are very apt, I find, to wander from the Affair in hand; and in particular, the honourable Gentleman who spoke last, has entered a good deal into the Merits of the Question, which I cannot think either proper or necessary at present; for, in my Opinion, all that is now before us, is, whether we should take the Message into our Consideration to-morrow, or put it off for a longer Day; and therefore I shall confine myself entirely to this, without anticipating your future Debate with relation to the Message itself. As to the Question now before us, the honourable Gentleman who spoke last owns, that he knows of no Message from the Crown that was ever sent to Parliament, but what was next Day taken into Consideration; and by this, I really think he seems to give up the Question; but then he has endeavoured to make a Distinction between this Message and those formerly sent by the Crown to Parliament: Whether any such Distinction can be made or not, is, in my Opinion, a Question that cannot be resolved till we come to take the Message into our Consideration; and then, I believe every Gentleman in this House will see that there is no material Difference between this and former Messages of the like nature. As to the Time of sending this Message, it is certain that the Crown never does send such Messages, but when some Exigency of Affairs, in a manner, forces them to do so. It is always the Necessities of State that obliges the Crown to ask for any extraordinary Powers from Parliament; and whether the Necessity for asking for such Powers falls out early or late in a Session, or in the first or last Session of a Parliament, seems not material. It is by the Necessity there is for granting such Powers, that Gentlemen are to be induced to grant the Powers demanded, and not by any Consideration as to the Time of making the Demand: And as it cannot appear to us, whether the Necessity for granting what is now asked for, be urgent or not, till we have taken the Message into Consideration, as it cannot till then appear whether the shortest Delay may not be attended with great Inconveniencies, therefore the sooner it is taken into Consideration, the better; for which Reason I must think, that the Motion made by the honourable Gentleman near me, for taking it into Consideration to-morrow Morning, is a proper and a right Motion: And whoever has a mind to shew us the contrary, will, I hope, confine himself to that only, without entering into the Merits of the Question.'
Sir John Barnard spoke next:
Sir John Barnard.
'The honourable Gentleman who spoke last, has been pleased to find fault with my worthy Friend by me, for entering, as he called it, into the Merits of the Question; but that Gentleman ought to consider, that there is a very great Difference between speaking to the Nature of a Question, and entering into the Merits of it. My worthy Friend spoke, indeed, as to the Nature of the Message now before us; and I would gladly know, from the honourable Gentleman over the Way, or any other, how it is possible to speak to the present Question, as to the Necessity of its being taken into Consideration to-morrow, without explaining a little the Nature of what is to be taken into Consideration; but no Gentleman has as yet entered into the Merits of the Message, which I take to be, Whether it ought to be complied with or not?
'I hope neither the hon. Gentleman, nor any other Gentleman, will lay it down as an infallible and unalterable Rule, that this House is to take every Message immediately into their Consideration that may be hereafter brought from the Crown; and if we have any Liberty in this Respect, surely we must examine a little into the Nature of the Message sent us, in order to determine, whether we are immediately to take the Message into our Consideration, or defer it to a longer Day. If upon the Face of the Message it had appeared, if his Majesty had thereby so much as insinuated, that the Nation had been in any immediate Danger, I should have readily agreed to the Motion now made to us; but as no such Thing is insinuated, nor can, I believe, be supposed, I cannot think there is any Necessity for our entering so immediately into the Consideration of a Question of so great Importance: it may perhaps be the last Question that can ever be taken into Consideration by a legal and free Parliament of Great-Britain; therefore, I think it extremely reasonable to give a few Days to those Gentlemen who are here to consider of it, and that those who are absent, at least such as are near the Town, may have Time to return.'
Sir John Barnard was back'd by Lord Coleraine, as follows:
'Tho' a just Sense of my Inability to speak my Mind here, in a manner worthy the Attention of this august. Assembly, and becoming the Character of a Member thereof, heighten'd with the great Awe that strikes me on every such Attempt, has generally oblig'd me to bury in Silence such Thoughts as have occurred to me in the several weighty Debates at which I have had the Honour to assist, during the most Part of this present Parliament; and content myself with attending to those that have expressed their own Sentiments (sometimes not different from mine) with that becoming Freedom and Copiousness, that engaging Propriety and Eloquence, to which I dare not aspire; yet my disinterested Love to my Country, and a due Regard to the great Trust reposed in every one of us, will not permit me to be always consin'd within the safer Limits of a simple Negative or Affirmative.
'When we were called upon from the Throne at the opening of this Session, to grant, in Regard of a distant War, target Supplies than have perhaps ever been known in time of Peace, when on the seeming Assurance so early given us by an honourable and knowing Gentleman principally employ'd in the Conduct of Affairs both at home and abroad, we proceeded with such Dispatch in providing for the Public Service recommended to our Care, as to obtain, after little more than two Months sitting (what must be ever grateful to every Member of this House) His Majesty's thankful Acknowledgments of our approved Zeal and dutiful Affection: Then I say (and I believe I speak the Sense of many) this expiring Parliament could have expected any thing as soon as to receive the Honour of his Majesty's Thanks accompanied (if not alloy'd) with a Desire that we would, with our last public Breath, subject our Countrymen to further unlimited, and perhaps unnecessary Burthens, by delegating a Power we are quickly to resign into the Hands of the Crown, which may be advised by its Ministers to use it further than we could think it necessary or reasonable to do.
'Thus we may indeed pay a Compliment, not only to the Crown and its Minister, but even to their favourite Embryo, the next approaching Parliament, by making ourselves answerable for the Burthen of those Forces, that may thus be raised, when we shall have no Authority, as well as the ample Supplies we granted while we had. But I cannot think this would be a just Return to our Electors; or a kind Legacy to the rest of our Fellow-Subjects Nay, it appears to me a very melancholly Prospect, to look upon this Nation as left still exposed to any such desperate Attempts as may hazard our Safety, when such Supplies have been already voted and provided for, when the War is seated so far from us, our properest Allies so much more immediately concern'd in it, and the next Parliament in so great a Forwardness to be elected and convened, to enable his Majesty to make such further Augmentations by Sea and Land, as may become necessary for the Honour and Defence of his Kingdoms.
'I well remember, that when some Gentlemen propos'd at the Beginning of the Session, humbly to address his Majesty to let us know how far his good Offices had proceeded with one or other of the contending Powers, and what Engagements, if any, had been enter'd into on his Part; that Enquiry was oppos'd, and we were given to believe that little or nothing had been engaged: But now we are told of Engagements in Honour and Justice to be fulfill'd, as well as others in Prudence to be contracted. But I would yet hope, that without this extraordinary Vote his Majesty's Endeavours to procure an happy Accommodation may be successful; and that the rather, because we are again told, that they are to be used in Conjunction with his Ally; and it does not yet appear, that our most natural, necessary, and interested Ally against a powerful Kingdom near us, is engaged, or willing to engage in behalf of their Great Neighbour, who they are said to have declar'd too hastily engaged in the Quarrel. I think we ought not in Prudence to be before-hand with that Neighbour-State on this Occasion, lest unawares we become Principals in a bloody and expensive War, while they that are more immediately concerned, enjoy an Increase of Commerce, and wait the Fruits of our Blood and Treasure.
'For these Reasons, I am against Extending our own Power beyond its just Duration, and invading the Rights of a succeeding Parliament.'
Then Mr. Plumer stood up, and said:
'I shall always be as ready as any Gentleman in this House, to concur on all Occasions in strengthening the Hands of the Crown in a proper Manner, and when it shall appear necessary; but as the Powers now demanded are of a most extraordinary Nature, as the granting of them will certainly be a giving up in a great Measure the Power of Parliament for a Time; if we are to make such a Grant, I think it ought not to be precipitantly made. It ought to be done with the greatest Caution, and in as full a House, as can possibly be had.
'As to the Respect we ought to shew to the Crown, it has nothing to do with the present Question: Our Respect to the Crown, Sir, has nothing to do with this Message, or any Message that can come from the Crown; for tho' they bear the King's Name, yet, when we come to consider them, we are to look upon them as coming from the Ministers, and we may treat them in such a manner as we think they deserve, without incroaching in the least upon that Respect we owe to the Crown. Are we to be told, that, out of Respect to the Crown, we must always take such Messages immediately into our Consideration? Sir, if this Doctrine should prevail, we shall next be told, that, out of Respect to the Crown we ought always to comply with such Messages; and then it will be in the Power of the Ministers to advise the Crown to send such Messages, as may be very dishonourable for the Parliament to comply with, nay, inconsistent with the real Interest of the Crown, however necessary for the Purposes of the Ministers at the Time.
'By the Law of England, Sir, we know, that when a Man is dying and about to make his Will, if any real Estate is thereby to be devised, the Will must be made before three Witnesses, which is a greater Number than is necessary upon any other Occasion: We are, Sir, a dying Parliament, and the Crown now desires we should make our Will, and leave them by way of Legacy all we have in the World. If we are to do so, I think we ought to call, at least as many Witnesses, as are usual upon most other Occasions; and therefore we ought to delay the Consideration of this Message, till the absent Members have Time to return.'
The Question being then put, on Sir Robert Walpole's Motion, it passed in the Affirmative, by 211 to 121.
March 29. The above Message from the King being taken into Consideration; Sir Robert Walpole stood up, and spoke as follows:
Sir Robert Walpole.
'As I had the Honour, to bring his Majesty's most gracious Message to this House, and likewise to move for your taking it this Day under your Consideration, I think it incumbent on me to offer what I judge to be proper, adviseable, and even becoming this House to do upon it. The Manner, Sir, in which his Majesty's Speech was conceived, the Difference that was observable in it from former Speeches, the Notice thereby given by his Majesty to Parliament of the Situation of Affairs abroad, must have made every Gentleman who heard it expect, that something of this Nature might possibly come before you some Time this Session. His Majesty in that Speech told us, that the War which had begun in Europe still continued; and tho' his Majesty then declared that he had no Part, except by his good Offices, in those Transactions, which had been declared to be the principal Causes and Motives of the War, yet, I believe, there was not a Gentleman in the House but supposed, that his Majesty might possibly be obliged to take a Share in the War, in order to prevent too much Power's being thrown into one Scale, whereby the Ballance of Power in Europe would be overturned, and consequently every Gentleman must have expected such a Message as this, in case the Tranquillity of Europe could not by Way of Negotiation be restored before the End of this Session.
'When Gentlemen expect, Sir, to hear Reasons given why this Message comes now, and was not brought sooner, and seem to insinuate, as if this must proceed from some sudden and unforeseen Change of Affairs, all I can answer is, that we are now in the same Situation we were in at the Opening of the Session; some little Variation may perhaps have hapened, but our Circumstances are in general the same, and their remaining so is, in my poor Opinion, a sufficient Reason for his Majesty's making this Application to his Parliament, and for our coming to such a Resolution as I shall by and by have the Honour to move to you. If any extraordinary Change had happened in the Affairs of Europe, or with respect to our own particular Circumstances, during the Continuance of the Session, his Majesty could immediately, and without any Delay, have applied to his Parliament for what was proper to be done upon such an Occasion; but as the War still continues, no Man can pretend to foresee what Changes may soon happen, or how soon his Majesty, in Conjunction with his Allies, may be obliged to give Assistance where the Interest of this Nation, and the Preservation of the Liberties of Europe may call immediately for it: And as this Session of Parliament is drawing towards a Close, as this Parliament may probably be soon dissolved, his Majesty will not then have the Opportunity of applying immediately to his Parliament for what may appear to be necessary for the Defence of the Nation, in case any Change should happen during the Interval of Parliament, which makes it absolutely necessary to furnish his Majesty with such Powers as are now asked for, before this Session break up; and the furnishing him now with such a Power, cannot be in the least more inconvenient for the Nation than it would have been at the Beginning of the Session.
'Ever since the Beginning of this Session, his Majesty, in Conjunction with other Powers, has been endeavouring by Negotiation to reconcile the jarring Interests of the several Powers now at War, and to restore the Tranquillity of Europe; if these Negotiations had succeeded, there would have been no Occasion for this Message, there would have been no Occasion for putting this Nation to any additional Expence; and though these Negotiations have not yet had the desired Effect, yet his Majesty's Proposals are not altogether rejected, which makes it still unnecessary to put the Nation to any immediate Expence: This shews his Majesty's tender Care for his People, as well as the Wisdom and Integrity of those he is pleased to advise with upon such Occasions: It shews how unwilling he is to put the Nation to any extraordinary Expence, as long as it can possibly be avoided; but the great Concern his Majesty has for the Peace and Quiet of his People, and the Uncertainty in which the Affairs of Europe still continue, lay his Majesty under a Necessary of thus desiring his Parliament to strengthen his Hands in such a Manner, as that he may be able to provide against any the most distant Dangers, with which this Nation may happen to be threatened, after the End of this, and before the Meeting of a new Parliament.
'If Gentlemen will but consider the present Circumstances of Europe in general, and of that Nation in particular, from the Situation of whose Country we must always have most to fear, I believe the Necessity of the Motion I am to make will pretty evidently appear. France has now a large Fleet assembled in one of those Ports which lie nearest to this Island: The Ships are all fitted out, and almost ready to put to Sea; and there are, as we are told, several thousand Men ready to be shipt on board that Fleet. I believe, Sir, there is nothing designed against us; but when we know that a large Squadron of French Men of War, with an Army of six or eight thousand Veteran Troops is to pass through the British Channel, I should think one in the Station in which I have the Honour so unworthily to serve the Crown, did his Duty but very ill, if upon such an Occasion he did not advise the taking of all necessary Care, for putting the Nation in a proper Posture of Defence.
'I repeat it again, Sir, I do sincerely believe that the Nation is in Safety, but I do not desire that the Safety of the Nation should entirely depend on my Belief; I have, I think, good Reason to believe, that the French Squadron is designed elsewhere; but if from new Counsels, from any Jealousy groundlesly conceived, or any sudden Change in their Measures, that Squadron should come this Way, I must say, that in our present Situation I do not know what the Consequence might be: and therefore I must think, that those who have the Honour to advise the King, have done their Duty in advising him to make this Application to Parliament. Tho' we are not yet engaged in the War, though no Power in Europe has yet openly declared against us, yet the present Circumstances of Europe are such, the present Circumstances of this Nation are such, that, I believe, I might leave the Question to rest wholly upon them; and I am convinced that no Gentleman, who considers them impartially, can refuse agreeing to what his Majesty has, by his most gracious Message, desired.
'His Majesty is not willing to alarm any foreign Power, by making an unnecessary Augmentation of his Forces either by Sea or Land; but he desires to have a Power at least of providing against any unprovoked Insults: He is resolved not to put the Nation to any unnecessary Expence; but he desires not to disoblige his Allies, he desires not to give them a mean Opinion of this Nation, by our not putting our selves in such a Condition as to be able to perform all our Engagements to them. This is all the Power his Majesty asks for, and this Power, we may depend on it, will not be wantonly used, or used at all, unless the Necessity of our Affairs require it. From the whole of his Majesty's past Conduct, from the Conduct of those who have the Honour to advise him, we may expect, that a Backwardness, rather than a Forwardness, will be shewed in putting the Nation to any Expence, or engaging it in any unnecessary Broils.
'His Majesty, Sir, desires only a Power of providing what may appear to be absolutely necessary for the Destance of the Nation, during the Interval of Parliament, when he cannot have their Advice or Assistance; with this Assurance, that every Thing that shall be done in pursuance of that Power, shall be laid before next Parliament for their Approbation: to them, he promises, that a full Account shall be rendered of the Temporary Trust reposed in the Crown. What Danger then can there be in granting the Power now asked for; Can it be presumed, that any Minister will dare to make, or advise his Majesty to make a bad use of it, when so strict an Account must be rendered to next Parliament, of every Use that shall be made of it? Yet this is what Gentlemen have been pleased to call a surrendering the Rights, a delegating the Power of Parliament to the Crown, and laying the Ax to the Root of the Tree. They have likewise been pleased to insinuate, as if it were the Servants of the Crown that desired to have more Power granted to them. Sir, as I am one of the Servants of the Crown, I can answer for my self, that I desire no Power; I know the Danger too well of making use of any Power, but that which has the Sanction of Parliament; and whenever I am entrusted with any such Power, I shall always be ready to account to Parliament for the Use I make of it.
''Tis true, Sir, the Powers now asked for may occasion a further Expence to this Nation; but whatever Expence may, in pursuance of such Powers, be incurred, does not his Majesty, in the Message now before us, promise that it shall be fully and particularly accounted for to next Parliament? And if any Part of that Expence shall appear to have been unnecessarily incurred, may we not expect that the next Parliament will severely punish those who have been the Authors of such unnecessary Expence? There is nothing contained in the Message, which can in the least tend to excuse those who shall dare to give such wicked Counsel to his Majesty; and in the Motion I am to make, I shall endeavour to express myself in such a Manner as to obviate any Objection that can be made upon that Account. His Majesty desires only a Power to make such further Augmentation of his Forces, either by Sea or Land, as may be absolutely necessary for the Honour and Defence of his Kingdoms, and to concert such Measures as the Exigency of Affairs may require; and when we see his Majesty expressing himself so cautiously in the Message he has been pleased to send us, can we suppose that any Minister will be hardy enough to advise him, or that he will allow himself to be advised to put the Nation to any Expence that shall not plainly appear to be absolutely necessary?
'Now, Sir, let us see whether the Message now before us, or the Powers that are thereby demanded, are so extraordinary or so unprecedented as some Gentlemen have been pleased to represent? Tho' I am no great Master of Precedents; tho' I never look into them but when I have immediate Occasion for them, yet I have got three or four in my Hand, which I take to be exactly parallel to the Case now before us. In 1702, her late Majesty Queen Anne sent a Message to this House, acquainting them with the then Situation of Affairs abroad; and upon that Message this House, by an Address, gave her Majesty the same sort of Powers as are now asked for. In 1715, his late Majesty sent a Message to this House, acquainting them of the Danger the Nation was in from Insurrections at home, and likewise from intended Invasions from abroad, in favour of the Pretender; and the very same Powers now asked for were granted by an Address of this House to his late Majesty. In 1718, during the Spanish War, that Power was again renewed to his late Majesty; and in 1725, the same Powers were again given to the Crown, both in the same Method: therefore it can't be said, that what is now propos'd is either new or unprecedented. It is what has often been practised, and what must always be practised, when the Nation happens to be threatened with any Danger.
'I am afraid, Sir, I have already taken up too much of your Time, and therefore I shall now add no more; but if any material Objections be made to what I am to propose, I hope that the House will again indulge me to make such Answers to them as I may then think of, or that some other Gentleman, who may perhaps be of the same Opinion with me, and better able to answer such Objections than I am, will rise up and do it: Therefore I shall only beg Leave to make you the following Motion; That an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, To declare the Duty and Fidelity of this House to his Majesty, and the entire Confidence which they repose in his Royal Care and Endeavours, for the Security of his Kingdoms, and for restoring the Peace of Europe; to express the just Sense they have of his Majesty's Attention to the true Interest of his People, in previously taking the Advice and Concurrence of this House at this critical Conjuncture, in order to make the necessary Provisions against any Emergencies arising from the present Posture of Affairs in Europe, especially during the Interval of Parliament; to desire his Majesty, to make such Augmentation of his Forces by Sea and Land, as his Majesty in his great Wisdom shall judge necessary; and to concert such Measures, as the Exigency of Affairs shall require; this House not doubting, but that his Majesty will find, that his faithful Commons will at all Times, when the Accounts shall be laid before them of the extraordinary Expences incurred by his Majesty for the Honour, Interest, and Defence of his Kingdoms, effectually enable his Majesty to answer and make good the same.'
To this Mr. Shippen replied:
'I am glad to find that the Honourable Gentleman has now discovered a Meaning in his Majesty's Speech at the Opening of this Session, which he could not, it seems, discover the first Day of the Session: He was, or pretended, at least, to be so far from discovering at that Time any such Meaning in his Majesty's Speech as he has now shewn to us, that he seemed very much surprised any Gentleman should have the least Apprehensions of such a Meaning. I, as well as several Gentlemen round me, remember well the Gentleman's very Words upon that Occasion; I remember, when I intimated then to the House my Fears, that some such thing as a Vote of Credit was intended, he said, he believed no Man alive but myself could dream of any such thing; but now we are told, that from his Majesty's Manner of expressing himself upon that Occasion, every Gentleman in the House must have expected a Demand of such a Nature as what is now before us: I did indeed, from what his Majesty said, expect a Demand for a Vote of Credit; but I little expected that that Demand would have been attended with such other extraordinary Demands as are contained in the Message now under consideration.
'As no sufficient, Time has been given, Sir, for Gentlemen to consider of this extraordinary Demand from the Crown, as no Information has been given us by the Honourable Gentleman who spoke last, from whom I believe every Gentleman in this House expected a full Information, with respect to the Reasons the Crown may have for making such a Demand; Gentlemen, like me, who are kept at a Distance from the Secrets of the Administration, have no way left to judge but according to what appears upon the Face of the Message; and from thence I must judge, that the Demand now made upon us is entirely new, and very extraordinary. As I said before, it is a Demand for a total Surrender of all the Rights of Parliament; for we are now, it seems, to give the King a Power of raising what Money he pleases; we are to give him a Power of raising what Military Force he pleases without Consent of Parliament: Are not these the two Rights, upon which all the other Rights of Parliament depend? Is not the Controul we have over these two the only Handle by which we can, or dare vindicate any other Right that belongs to us? And after the Surrender of these two, can it be said that we have any Right, or at least, that we dare claim any Right, but such as the Crown shall vouchsafe from Time to Time to allow us?
'The Honourable Gentleman, Sir, by Way of Introduction to his Motion, was pleased to say a great deal in Justification of the Message, and of the Powers thereby demanded; but I think the Substance of what he said may be reduced to these three Heads, That it is necessary for us to grant those Powers, That the granting of such is neither new nor unprecedented, and That they may with Safety be granted to the Crown: Every one of which Propositions I must deny, and I think I have good Reason for so doing. The Gentleman indeed spoke to us Yesterday of the Necessity of sending such a Message, and I was in hopes he would have this Day endeavoured to have made that Necessity appear: But this is so far from being the Case, that, I think, he has rather shewn the contrary.
'Whether the Powers now asked for be unprecedented or not, it is certain, Sir, they are extraordinary, and therefore ought never to be granted but when the Nation is in imminent Danger, or in Cases of the utmost Extremity; and for this Reason I did expect we were to have been told this Day, that the Nation was immediately to be invaded by some foreign Power, or that some dangerous Plot had been discovered; and I expected this the more, because the short Time that was asked for taking this Affair into our Consideration was refused. However, now I find it is quite otherwise, the Gentleman himself says, he believes the Nation to be in Safety, but does not desire its Safety should depend on his Belief. In this, Sir, I agree with him, I really do not desire, that the Safety of the Nation should depend upon his Belief; and I believe it would be happy for us if it did not depend upon his Administration. Tho' at first he seemed willing to terrify us with the French Squadron, yet at last he told us he believed it was designed elsewhere, but now Counsels, groundless Jealousies, sudden Changes might bring them this Way. For God's fake, Sir, are Gentlemen serious when they talk at this Rate? Are we to come into such extraordinary Measures, are we to vest an absolute Power in the Crown, because from new Counsels, from sudden Changes, the Nation may be in Danger? If this be a Necessity for our agreeing to what is now proposed, will not the same Necessity always prevail? Are we not in as great Danger from new Counsels and sudden Changes, when our Neighbours are all at Peace, as when they are all engaged in a bloody War, and courting us either for our Assistance or for a Neutrality? Nay, for this Reason, I think we are now in greater Security than we can ever propose to be in Time of the most profound Tranquility; and therefore if we now agree to grant such Powers, and in so extraordinary a Method too, I shall expect to see them demanded from us every Session of Parliament for the future: I shall never expect to see them resused.
'I say, Sir, in such an extraordinary Method too; for suppose it could be alledged we should probably be exposed to some great Danger, in a Month, or fix Weeks hence, which might make it necessary to grant such Powers to the Crown, yet that would be no Reason for doing it in such an extraordinary Manner: We would, in such a Case, have Time to do it in a regular Parliamentary Way, and wherever that can be done, it ought, without Doubt, to be done. There can be no Reason, there can be no Excuse for thus leaping over all the Forms and Methods of Proceeding in Parliament, but when the Danger is so near at Hand, that the providing against it cannot admit of such Delays. The Honourable Gentleman says, our Circumstances are much the same now they were at the Beginning of the Session; therefore if we are now in Danger, we were then in the same Danger. Why then were we not made acquainted with it at that Time? If we had, we could have provided against it in a regular Manner. But suppose that we had then done it in this irregular Manner, does the Gentleman think, as he pretends, that there is no greater Inconvenience in lodging an unlimited Power in the Hands of the Crown at the Beginning of a Session than at the End of it, or perhaps at the End of a Parliament? The contrary is evident; while the Parliament continues sitting after such a Power granted, they will nevertheless, be a Check upon the Use of that Power; they may recall it before it be too late; but when an expiring Session, much more an expiring Parliament, grants such a Power, it may, before the next Session, or the next Parliament is allowed to meet, be extended beyond Controul.
'The Honourable Gentleman told us, Sir, that there have been Negotiations on foot, that there are Negotiations on foot; tis true, they have not, he says, yet had the desired Success, but neither have they been rejected: That his Majesty is willing to wait the Result of these Negotiations, being resolved to delay putting his People to any Expence, as long as it can be avoided. Upon this he applauded his Majesty's tender Care for his Subjects, and took care to assume great Merit to himself in advising this Delay. Let us suppose, Sir, this Parliament dissolved; suppose these Negotiations actually rejected; surely we cannot suppose any Power in Europe so mad, or so unjust as to attack his Majesty for endeavouring to reconcile the Differences between them and their Enemies; and it is impossible to suppose that the Affairs of Europe can upon the rejecting of such Negotiations take such a sudden Turn, as may inevitably oblige his Majesty to declare of one Side or the other, before it be possible for the new Parliament to meet: This, I say, is impossible to suppose; and it is as impossible to suppose that any of the Powers now engaged in War will attempt to invade or insult this Nation, till his Majesty has openly declared against them. The Gentleman says, that his Majesty has all along endeavoured not to give any just Cause of Alarm to any foreign Power, nor to disoblige any Ally: I am afraid if we disoblige any Power in Europe, we must disoblige an Ally. However, as his Majesty has, during the Session of Parliament, been so cautious, it is not to be doubted but that he will continue to be as cautious, during the Interval of Parliament: So that upon the Whole, I must think, that every Thing the honourable Gentleman said tended to prove, that we are not at present under the least Necessity of granting the Powers demanded.
'Now, Sir, give me Leave to examine the Precedents the honourable Gentleman was pleased to mention, and which he said were exactly parallel to the Case in hand. I do not know, indeed, but from the four Cases he mentioned taken jointly we may make up some sort of Precedent for the present; but I am very sure that no one of them, taken separately, is any way parallel to the present. As to that in 1702, it is quite different from this, both as to the Manner of sending it, as to the Time of its being sent, and as to the Powers that were either asked or given: As to the Manner of sending it, it appears, that that great and good Princess Queen Anne, in the very Message which she sent, acquainted the House, that she had commanded the several Letters and Representations passed between her and the States General, upon the subject Matter of the Message, to be therewith transmitted to the House. So far was she from desiring her Parliament to grant, only because she thought fit to ask; that on the contrary she laid the Whole of her foreign Transactions before them, and thereby made them Judges of what ought to be done upon that Emergency: and I must say, Sir, it would be no Discredit for the best and wisest of her Successors to imitate her royal Example in this, as well as in most of the other Measures of her glorious Reign.
'Then, as to the Time of sending that Message, we were then actually engaged in the War, and one of our Allies was in the most imminent Danger of being swallowed up by our most inveterate Enemy; an Enemy, who but a little before had put the greatest Affront upon this Nation, by setting up a Pretender, and acknowledging him in the most publick Manner as the only rightful King of these Realms. It was not then said, that we or our Allies might, from new Counsels, and sudden Changes, be in Danger. It was said, it was not only said, but shewn to the House in the most authentick Manner, that one of our Allies was actually then in imminent Danger. And further, Sir, that Message was not sent to the House at the End of a Session, and after most of the Members were gone to the Country; it was sent in the very Middle of the Session, and at a Time when it must be supposed that the House was full.
'But as to the Powers then demanded or granted, I am surprised to hear it said, that that Case is parallel to the present. Sir, her Majesty asked no Powers; she only told, and shewed the House, what her Allies desired and prayed: but she did not pretend by her Message to direct the House what they were to do; she did not desire them to do any Thing, but only said, she doubted not but they would take such Measures upon that Occasion, as might be most for the Honour and Advantage of her Majesty, the Safety of her Kingdoms, and the necessary Support of her Allies: And in consequence of this what was done? This House was very far from granting to her Majesty a Power of augmenting her Forces both by Sea and Land, as much as she pleased; a Power of raising and keeping up in this Nation as numerous an Army as she pleased; a Power of running this Nation in Debt as much as she pleased; a Power of entering into, and concluding whatever Negotiations or Treaties she should think proper. No, Sir, they only told her, that, if her Majesty should think it necessary to enter into any further Negotiations for encreasing the Forces which were to act in Conjunction with the Forces of the State General, that House would enable her Majesty to make good the same: And even to this so particular, this so much limited Grant, they added this express Condition, that England should not be charged with the Pay of such additional Troops, but from the Day when a Stop should be made by the States-General to all Correspondence, Trade, and Commerce with France and Spain. But this Condition, Sir, was never performed; the additional Troops were taken into our Pay, but no such Stop was ever made by the States General: which shews how little we ought to depend upon the Conditions annexed to, or implied in any Grant we make, or in any Power we give.
'As to the Message sent to this House in the Years 1715 and 1718, they are very far from being Precedents for the present. At the Time of the first, there was an Insurrection in a manner actually broke out, and an Invasion expected; the Nation was then in imminent Danger, the Government was exposed to the Danger of being immediately overturned. This the King, in his Message, acquainted the House of; and this was the Reason for their coming to the Resolution they then did: But even in that Time of imminent Danger, this House neither was desired; nor did they condescend to grant to his late Majesty such extensive Powers, as are now demanded and proposed to be granted: They desired his Majesty, indeed, to augment his Forces both by Sea and Land; which, considering the small Number of regular Forces we had then in the Kingdom, was much more reasonable, than the same Power can now appear to be, even suppose we were threatened with the like Danger; but 'twas not then so much as desired, that the House should before-hand approve of all the Negotiations and Treaties, which his Majesty, or rather his Ministers, should think proper to enter into, or to conclude; and the Power then granted to his Majesty was the less dangerous, because neither the Parliament, nor the Session of Parliament, was then drawing towards a Close; but on the contrary, his late Majesty was so good as to continue the same Session of Parliament, till the Danger the Nation was threatened with was entirely over: so that the Parliament had at any Time an Opportunity, and certainly would have put a Check to the Ministers of State, if they, or any of them, had attempted to have made a wrong Use of that Power which the Parliament had granted to his Majesty. The Powers granted in 1718, were granted for the same Cause. His Majesty, in his Speech, acquainted his Parliament, that the Nation was in danger of being invaded by a foreign Power; and it actually would have been invaded, if the Spanish Fleet had not met with a Disaster at Sea; so that neither of these Cases can be any way considered as parallel to the present.
'Tis true, Sir, the other Precedent, quoted by the honourable Gentleman, may be looked on as some way parallel to the present: We were then in a sort of State which I cannot give a Name to; it was neither a Time of War, nor a Time of Peace; but I do not remember it was so much as pretended, that the Nation was threatened with imminent Danger; yet we then did somewhat like what we are now desired to do: we granted away Millions, for aught we knew, in the Dark, without any Cause or Reason assigned. But I must observe, Sir, that that Message happened since the honourable Gentleman's Return to Power, and therefore may be supposed to have been advised by the same Persons, and to have proceeded from the same Councils with the present; yet they were a little more modest at that Time. It could not be then properly said, that the Nation was in a State of absolute Tranquillity; yet nevertheless the honourable Gentleman was so modest, as to ask only for a Power to make an Addition to the Number of Seamen, and to negotiate and make Treaties; he did not so much as ask for a Power to raise, and keep up in this Nation, in a Time of Peace, whatever Number of Land-Forces he might pretend to think necessary. Thus we see the honourable Gentleman improves upon his last Precedent; and it is natural to suppose he will likewise improve upon this: therefore, if all the Powers now asked for, be granted, as I do not know any other Power his Majesty can want from his Parliament, but that of making Laws, I shall expect that, besides the Powers now asked for, there will be, in the next Message from the Crown, a Demand for impowering his Majesty to make or repeal, continue or suspend, alter, explain, or amend such Laws, and in such manner, as he shall think absolutely necessary for the Safety of the Nation. This, I say, is the only further Grant that is necessary for us to make, in order to establish, by a Resolution of both Houses, the absolute Power of the Crown; and with respect to the Liberties of the Nation, I think it is much the same, whether we grant this Power to the Crown, or put the Crown in a Capacity of assuming it whenever they have a mind, which will certainly be the Consequence of the Resolution now proposed.
'This, Sir, naturally leads me to the other Doctrine which the honourable Gentleman has endeavoured to establish; that we may with Safety grant to the Crown, the Powers now asked for. As to his present Majesty, Sir, he is a Prince of so much Goodness and Wisdom, and is endowed with so many noble and princely Qualifications, that we may safely not only trust him with the Powers now demanded, but we may surrender, and lay down the whole of our Rights and Liberties at the Foot of the Throne; but as this would be a most dangerous Precedent, and might be made a most wicked Use of in Times to come: The same Wisdom and Generosity, which makes it safe for us to put so much Trust in his present Majesty, would render Persons capable of so much mean and low Complaisance, most despicable in his Majesty's Eyes. He might justly say of us, what the Roman Emperor said of that Senate, which was so complaisant as to refuse nothing he asked; O Homires servire paratos! And his Majesty would have as much Reason to be quite tired with our sawning Complaisance, as that Emperor is by the Historian represented to have been with the sawning Complaisance of the Roman Senate. We all know, Sir, how difficult it is to refuse to the King upon the Throne those Favours or Powers which have been granted to his Predecessor; and therefore it has always been the established Maxim of every honest Man, who had a Seat in either House of Parliament, not to grant to a good King those Powers, which a bad King might make an ill Use of; and surely, if a bad King were trusted with a Power of raising Land-Forces at Discretion, he might easily turn it to the utter Subversion of all the Liberties and Privileges of the People of this Kingdom.
'But with respect to the Powers now asked, our Safety is, it seems, to be secured by this; that a particular Account is to be rendered to next Parliament of whatever may be done, and of all the additional Expence that may be incurred, in pursuance of these Powers. Sir, I have been so often deceived by Ministeral Promises, and Expereince has so fully convinced me, that we are never to expect any such Account in a fair and regular Manner, that I have no Faith in, nor Dependance upon such Promises: Both I and other Gentlemen have often called for such Accounts, but we have always been told, that either Matters were not ripe for laying such Accounts before Parliament, or that the Secrets of the Government were not to be revealed; and the highest Satisfaction we could ever get upon such Occasions was to be told, that the Expences had been necessarily incurred on account of soreign and secret Services: It has always been pretended there was a Necessity for such Expence, but the Parliament was never to be let into the Secret from whence that Necessity arose; we are always, it seems, to believe so, upon the bare Word of our honest and wise Ministers; and I am very apt to believe that the same Confidence and Resignation will be required from the next Parliament.
The Gentleman said, he might leave the Question to rest wholly upon our present Circumstances: It may be so, Sir, but I wish he had told us what these Circumstances are. He said they were the same they were at the Beginning of the Sessions; not altogether the same; they were the same in general, but by Time, and Variations in foreign Councils, an Alteration might be made in them. I must say, Sir, the House is very much obliged to the Hon. Gentleman for giving us so much Satisfaction; and from this Intelligence we shall certainly be able to give our Friends in the Country a most satisfactory Account, and a most convincing Reason for what we have done. 'Tis true, they have been made believe that they are to pay but two Shillings in the Pound LandTax, but we can tell them that the Hon. Gentleman gave us so particular an Account of our Circumstances, and of the Danger the Nation was exposed to, that we thought proper to leave it to his Discretion, whether the Nation should be charged with six Shillings, or perhaps with nineteen Shillings in the Pound Land-Tax; and by his past Conduct the Nation is so fully convinced of his Wisdom and Sincerity, that they will certainly approve of what we have done.
'Sir, I have troubled you too long; I think I have shewn that the Resolution proposed is neither necessary nor safe, nor founded upon any Precedent: But quoting of Precedents signifies nothing; suppose there were Precedents exactly parallel to the present Case, it would be no Argument for our agreeing to what is proposed. There are but too many Precedents which resemble it a little; it is now high Time to put a Stop to the Practice, and I am sure it will be much more for our Honour to make a Precedent where such a Demand has been refused, otherwise the Thing may come to be familiar: It may become an usual Custom to vest the Crown with such a Power at the End of every Parliament; so that all our succeeding Parliaments may come to be chosen under the Influence of absolute Power, and neither the Hon. Gentleman, nor any of his Successors in Office, needs desire to do any Thing without the previous Sanction of Parliament; for it is not to be supposed that a Parliament chosen under the Influence of arbitrary Power, will ever refuse their Sanction, when the Minister for the Time being pleases to demand it; in which Case, I believe, every Gentleman will agree with me, that the Parliament will be altogether useless, it will serve for nothing but to make our Ministers the more daring, and the Oppressions of the People the more grievous; and therefore, Sir, I am against the Question.
Then the Hon. Mr. Digby spoke as follows:
Hon. Mr. Digby.
'The Hon. Gentleman who opened this Debate has, in my Opinion, made as artful a Speech in favour of arbitrary Power as ever I heard made any where, and has said a great deal more in favour of such a Government than ever I expected to have heard within these Walls. I will not easily admit, Sir, that we are ever to trust the Crown with such extensive Powers as are now demanded; but surely if we are ever to do any Thing like it, if we are ever to vest in the Crown any extraordinary and unusual Powers, it ought to be in a Case of the extremest Necessity, and even then we ought to do it in the most deliberate Way that the Circumstances of the Case can admit of, and not till after the Case has been fully explained, and the Necessity made clearly to appear to us. Had we been informed of our Danger in the Beginning of the Session, what is now proposed might have been done; but then it might have been done in a regular Way, and might have passed through all the Forms of Parliament; by which Means the other House might have had an Opportunity of putting a Negative upon it, which they ought to have by our Constitution; and every Gentleman of either House of Parliament might have had an Opportunity of examining into the Merits of the Question, and of giving his Opinion upon it; whereas now we are in a thin House, and without any Concurrence of the other House, to give up by a single Vote all the Rights of Parliament, and, for aught we know, to put an end to all Parliaments.
'The Hon. Gentleman has told us, that during the former Part of the Session of Parliament his Majesty did not make this Application, because the Danger had not become so great as to make it necessary for us to put ourselves to any immediate additional Expence, but that after the Session is broke up, or this Parliament dissolved, some Change may happen which will make such Expence necessary; and as his Majesty cannot then have an Opportunity of applying to his Parliament, therefore it is necessary to furnish him with such Powers as are now demanded. Sir, I would be glad to know from that Gentleman, or any other, what Necessity there is for this Session's breaking up so soon; or if these is any Necessity for dissolving this Parliament in a few Days? Our Time does not expire till October next; and however necessary our Presence may be in the Country, if the Nation be in any Danger, if there be any reason to suspect, that the Nation may soon be in Danger, I am sure every Gentleman will think it his Duty to remain in Town, or to return to Town, in order to attend the Service of his Country in Parliament. If we have now really any Thing to fear from the French Squadron, and that I think is the only Danger I have heard so much as insinuated, all Apprehensions from that Squadron must be over long before that Time; nay, I do not know but if the few Days that were asked Yesterday for taking this Message into our Consideration, had been granted, the Danger from that Squadron might have been over before we had come to consider of that Danger, or how to provide against it; and this perhaps was the chief Motive for refusing so short and so reasonable a Delay: for if that Squadron had been failed elsewhere, the Gentlemen would have been stript of the only Argument I have heard them make use of for persuading us, or rather for terrifying us, into the granting of an absolute Power to the Crown.
'The Hon. Gentleman told us, that his Majesty desired not to give our Allies a mean Opinion of this Nation, by our neglecting to put ourselves in a Condition of making good all our Engagements to them. Sir, I do not know what Engagements we may lie under, or who are our present Allies; for I think all the Powers of Europe have lately been our Allies in their Turns: but for this very Reason, Sir, I am against what is now proposed. I am for giving our Allies, whoever they may be, a good Opinion, not only of this Nation, but of his Majesty's Government, and therefore whatever may be necessary to be done for putting ourselves in a Condition to make good our Engagements, I am for its being done in a full House, and in a regular parliamentary Method. Can any Gentleman imagine that our Allies, especially the Dutch, if they be our Allies, are ignorant of our Constitution? No, Sir, they are perfectly acquainted with it; and therefore if we should grant such Powers as are now demanded, or make any other Sort of Provision, in a full House, and in the regular parliamentary Method, we cannot doubt of its having greater Weight with our Allies, than a Resolution or Vote thus obtained by Surprise at the End of the Session, and after most of the Gentlemen are retired to the Country. Such a Method of obtaining the Approbation of Parliament must necessarily give them a mean Opinion at least of our Government, and must contribute to the rendering his Majesty's Endeavours for restoring the Peace of Europe of little or no Effect.
'Besides, Sir, by the Proposition now made to us we are really going to do what our Allies know we cannot do: We are not only going to delegate the Power of Parliament to the Crown, but we are going to promise that a future Parliament shall approve of whatever my be done in pursuance of that Power so delegated to tha Crown. Does not every one of our Allies know that eno Parliament can make such a Promise? Does not every Man know that no Parliament has a Right to surrender the Liberties of the People, or to delegate the Power of Parliament to the Crown? And can we imagine that any Potentate in Europe will have any great Dependance upon the Powers or Promises which are granted by those who had no Right to grant any such? But suppose we had a Right to grant the Powers now asked for, that Right is certainly never to be made use of but when the Nation is in the most imminent Danger; and as I can see no Pretence for saying the Nation is now, or is like to be, in any such Danger, nor have heard any other Reason for asking the Powers now proposed to be given, I must suspect that they are asked for Purposes that cannot be openly avowed, and therefore I shall give my Negative to the Question.
Mr. Gibbon spoke next against the Motion, who was answered by Mr. Henry Pelham, to whom Mr. Palmer replied; then Mr. Horatio Walpole spoke as follows.
Mr. Horation Walpole.
'Gentlemen have been at a good deal of pains to make out a Difference between the Precedents that have been mentioned and the Case before us; tho' I think with very little Success: There never was yet a Precedent for any Proposition or Determination so exactly parallel to the Case in Hand, but ingenious Gentlemen might find out some minute Differences; yet Precedents, where no Material Difference could be shown, have always been allowed to be good Authorities for what was proposed to be done; and in the present Case I do not find that with all their Ingenuity they have been able to shew any material Difference between the Precedents mentioned and the Proposition now made to us. The two material Points now under our Consideration with respect to Precedents are, Whether it has not been the Practice of Parliament to grant extraordinary Powers to the Crown in the Time of Danger? And in what Method those Powers have been granted? These, I say, are the two chief Points, and as to both of them every one of the Precedents mentioned appears to be as exactly parallel as any one Case can be to another.
But, Sir, I will endeavour to point out to the Honourable Gentlemen one very material Difference between the Message now before us, and all the other Messages that have formerly come from the Crown, and it is this; in the present Message his Majesty expresly promises to lay a full Account of whatever Expences may be incurred before the next Parliament, which is a Piece of Condescension that was never made by the Crown in any former Message sent to Parliament; This is indeed a material Difference, but such a Difference as, in my Opinion, ought certainly to be a prevailing Argument for us to agree to what is now demanded. And as to the Message in the Year 1702, I must upon this Occasion observe, that if a greater Considence had been placed in her Majesty, and her then Ministers, and stronger Resolutions made by that Parliament, it is more than probable that the War which ensued might have been entirely prevented, or at least that the Enemies of this Nation would have been obliged to have entered into the War under much greater Disadvantages than they did: so that the slow and lukewarm Proceedings of that Parliament, and the fatal Effects they produced, is one of the strongest Arguments, that can be suggested, for us now to strengthen his Majesty's Hands in such a Manner as may prevent any such fatal Consequences.
'It is surprising to me to hear Gentlemen complain that nothing has been laid before them, to shew the Necessity for granting the Powers now asked for. Did not his Majesty in his Speech at the opening of the Session inform us of the War then began in Europe? Does not he by the present Message acquaint us that this War still continues? And is not every Gentleman convinced by what he knows of the Situation of Europe, that the Ballance of Power in Europe entirely depends on the Event of that War? Let which-ever Side prevail, if it should be allowed to prevail too far, would not the Ballance of Power be thereby overturned, and will not this Nation necessarily be obliged to prevent so fatal an Effect? Besides this, does not every Gentleman know that the French have lately fitted out a very powerful Sea-Armament, which if not designed against this Country, can be designed against but one other Place in the World? I indeed believe that it is designed against Dantzick; but if that Affair should blow over, which is possible, before the French Fleet fails, can we then be easy, can we imagine ourselves in Security, while so large a Squadron, with an Army ready to be put on board, lies within a few Hours sailing of our Coast?
'The Honourable Gentleman by me very well observ'd what has been done by the Dutch; they had resolved to reduce 10,000 of their Land-Forces, but upon the Breaking out of the War, they had put off that Resolution: They are our natural Ally, they have hitherto gone hand in hand with us, but we know in what a weak and defenceless Condition their Barrier in Flanders is at present, and if we should fit still and do nothing, is it to be expected that they will go on in the same Way? No, Sir, they will be obliged to throw themselves entirely into the Arms of France, and must depend upon the Honour of that Crown for the Preservation of their Barrier in Flanders.
'Gentlemen may, Sir, if they please, call this a Vote of Credit; but as his Majesty has so expresly promised an Account, it cannot properly be called a Vote of Credit. It is in my Opinion, only a Vote of Confidence; it is only coming to a Resolution; which, by shewing the entire Confidence we have in his Majesty, will give his Instances with foreign Powers the greater Weight; and consequently is absolutely necessary for the Preservation of the Ballance of Power in Europe; without which, this Nation can never be in any Safety or Security.'
Mr. Tuffnell back'd Mr. Walpole, and was answered by Lord Tyrconnel. Then Sir William Wyndham stood up, and said:
Sir William Wyndham.
'As I find myself at present very much out of Order, I am very unfit to offer my Opinion on so important a Question: However, I must beg Leave to trouble you a little upon this Occasion; because, if what is now proposed should be agreed to, I do not know but it may be the last Time I shall ever have an Opportunity of delivering my Opinion as a Member of this House. With me, Sir, it is a Matter of no Consequence, whether the Proposition now made to us, be founded on Precedents or not; for if any thing like what is proposed, has been done, I am of Opinion, that as often as it has been done, it has been wrong done; and the oftner it is done, it will be still worse. But to tell us, that the only two Points, now under our Consideration is, whether extraordinary Powers have, upon any Occasion, been granted to the Crown, and in what Method these Powers have been granted, is very extraordinary: For, supposing it right to grant extraordinary Powers, by an extraordinary Method, upon some Occasions, certainly we are, upon all such Occasions, to consider the Reasons for granting such Powers, and the Nature of the Powers to be granted; and if, upon the present Occasion, the Powers proposed to be granted, are much more extensive, than those formerly granted, and the Reasons for granting them not near so strong as upon former Occasions no former Precedent can give any Authority for doing what is now proposed. We are told of the Naval Armaments of France; but I would gladly know what we have done to deserve any Insult from that Nation. If contributing to throw the Affairs of Europe into their present Situation, by which the House of Bourbon has been again put into a Condition of pulling down the overgrown Power of the House of Austria, which so greatly alarmed us some Years ago; if this, I say, deserves any Insult from France, I do not know but we may deserve it. But if this were true, while we have an Army of 18,000 Men in this Kingdom, and 12,000 in Ireland, all ready at our Call, and a more powerful Fleet than any the French can put to Sea, what have we to fear from five or six thousand French, if they were actually landed in the Island? Sir, if we had not a Regiment in the Kingdom, we could not have any Thing to fear from so inconsiderable a Number. And, can we suppose the French such Fools as to make so ridiculous an Attempt, by which they must expect to draw the immediate Vengeance of this Nation upon them? When our Armies, or our Fleets, are to be augmented; when we are to enter into expensive Negotiations; or when we are desired to put extraordinary Powers into the Hands of the Government, for Purposes not to be told, I have often observed, Sir, that some Gentlemen are, upon such Occasions, mighty apt to raise Phantoms, and to magnify imaginary Dangers; from whence they argue for the Necessity of providing against them, as if they were real: we are then to be afraid of Invasions and Insults from almost every Power in Europe. But when upon other Occasions they are told what is too true, that the Nation is in a most dangerous and distressed Condition, they then infist upon it, that we are in the most happy Situation, that our Trade is in a flourishing State, and that we are in Friendship with, or at least have no Diffidence of any foreign. Power whatsoever But now it seems, Sir, we must grant more extensive Powers to the Crown, than were ever granted by any Parliament, tho' it cannot be so much as pretended, that we are in any immediate Danger; for even those Gentlemen who talk of the Necessity of granting such Powers, tell us, we are in the same Circumstances we were in at the Beginning of the Session; but not what those Circumstances are: for this, we must depend upon the Assertion of an honourable Gentleman; and even he has told us, that he does not believe we are in any Danger, but does not desire the Safety of the Nation to depend on his Belief. God forbid, Sir, it should but if we thus, upon his bare Word, give up all the Rights of Parliament, and in some measure destroy the Necessity of holding any Parliament for the future, I must say, that we shall, from that Moment, leave the Safety of the Nation, and the Preservation of our Constitution, to depend very much upon his Management. This is what I shall never agree to; it is what, I hope, no Parliament will ever agree to; and therefore, if we are in any Danger, or if we are like to be in any Danger, let us know our Danger from something else than his bare Assertion; and then I doubt not but the Wisdom of Parliament will provide efectually against it.
'We are seldom indeed told much, we are never told Things but by Halves; but if what we are told be true, if his Majesty has hitherto taken no Share in the War, we cannot be in any immediate Danger. However, tho' his Majesty, as King of Great Britain, may not have taken any Share in the War, yet he certainly has, as Elector of Hanover: and as this Nation has, by some Fatality or another, been generally engaged in the same Quarrel which our King, as Elector of Hanover, espoused, if the same Thing should again happen, this Nation may then indeed come to be threatened with some Danger or Insult; but in such a Case it is not necessary for us to provide against such a distant, and such a conditional Danger, in the extraordinary Method now proposed: Why may we not fit for a few Months longer, and do in a regular Parliamentary Way whatever may seem necessary on that Occasion? When we are all together, we make of ourselves a pretty good Battalion; it cannot be said but that we are well officer'd, and a little Time might probably bring us to turn to Right and Left, and to perform all the other Parts of Exercise by Beat of Drum: but this, Sir, is a serious Subject, and therefore I ask Pardon.
'We have been told, Sir, that all that is now asked is only to put a Considence in his Majesty. No, Sir, it is to put a Confidence in his Ministers, and in them I have none; no not even tho' the Honourable Person on the Floor has assured us, that no wanton or bad Use shall be made of it: for if we once grant the Power, we cannot tell how it may be used, nor can we be assured that any future Parliament will have it in their Power to call those to an Account, who may make a wrong or a wicked Use of it: We are not to expect Sylla's in every Age; absolute Power is a bewitching Possession, and seldom voluntarily resigned. The same honourable Person asked us, if the past Conduct of the Administration did not promise rather a Backwardness than a Forwardness in making use of this Power? I must confess, Sir, that a Backwardness has been shewn by them in Cases where it was very wrong to shew any such Tning a When repeated Insults have been offered to the Nation; when our Merchants have been pillaged, and our Sailors murdered, and that for Years together, they have shewed a mean and dishonourable Backwardness, and therefore I think we have good Reason to suspect that the same Imprudence may make them unwisely rash, and unseasonably forward in engaging in Disputes where the Interest of the Nation may call upon them to be at least neutral. As all the principal Powers of Europe are now engaged in a bloody War against one another, and as we have not yet taken any Share in that War, the present Circumstances of Europe are to me a most evident. Proof, that we neither are nor can be in any Danger as long as we continue in the same Situation; and as we have no contrary Evidence, but what appears upon the general Ministerial Message, now under our Consideration, I do not see how we can possibly form a Pretence for agreeing to what is now asked of us: We ought and I hope we always will shew as great a Deference to the Crown as becometh the free-born Subjects of Britain; but considering how often the Crown has, upon former Occasions been induced to assert for Truth what Time the Discoverer of Secrets has made appear not to be true; considering, that we are to look upon this, as well as other such Messages, as proceeding from the Advice and Suggestion of Ministers: and when we reflect upon former Assertions which came to Parliament, by the Advice and on the Suggestion of the same Persons, we cannot be justified in delegating so great a Power upon so slight an Evidence; an Evidence which Time may hereafter, as it has before done, shew to be entirely false. I could have added a great deal more upon this Subject, but I find myself so bad, Sir, I can proceed no further; only shall take this Opportunity, this last Opportunity, I'm afraid, of declaring my Attachment to the Liberties and Constitution of my Country, by declaring my Aversion to the Proposition now before us.
To this Sir William Yonge replied:
Sir William Yonge.
'As all the Objections made to what is now proposed have been already fully answered by other Gentlemen, I shall not pretend, to enter much into the Merits of the Question; neither did I intend to have given you any Trouble in this Debate; but such Expressions have drop'd from the Honourable Gentleman who spoke last, that it is impossible they should be passed over without some Notice. He told us that the Crown had often asserted for Truth what afterwards appeared to be false. This, Sir, I take to be an Accusation which is very inconsistent with that Duty and Respect, which every Member of this House ought to shew to the Crown; and I was the more surprized to hear that Gentleman accuse the Crown of imposing Falsities upon the Parliament, because he always uses a great deal of Caution in what he says in this House: I was sorry the Honourable Gentleman was prevented from proceeding in this Discourse, because I believe he would have explained what he had said in such a Manner as net to imply so much Disrespect to the Crown; I dare say he would: but as his Words now stand, I cannot think it possible they should escape the Notice of this House. I promised not to enter much into the Merits of the Question; however I will beg Leave to explain a little what passed in this House the first Day of the Session, upon the Motion for an Address to his Majesty: I remember some Gentlemen took Exceptions to an Expression proposed to be put into that Address, as if a Promise of a Vote of Credit had been intended to be couched under it; and upon that Occasion the honourable Gentleman by me, said, he believed no Person so much as dreamed that such an Use was intended to be made of that Expression; because if any such Thing as a Vote of Credit should be deemed necessary, the Demand for it would come in the usual Way by a Message; and if any such Message should happen to come, he believed no Argument in favour of it either could or would be drawn from the Words then proposed to be put into your Address. Gentlemen, I perceive, pretend that they cannot find out the Difference between what is now proposed and a Vote of Credit: Yet in my Opinion, if they will be at the Pains to compare the two together, they may very easily discover the Difference; for a Vote of Credit is, where a Sum is given for certain Services, not to be accounted for to Parliament; whereas the present Message bears this express Promise in it, that a full and particular Account shall be laid before next Parliament of all the Expences which may be incurred in Consequence of the Powers now to be granted: and as no Power is desired but what appears to me necessary for the Security and Quiet of the Nation, I neither can see nor have heard any sufficient Reason for not granting them.'
Sir William Yonge was answer'd by Sir John Barnard, as follows:
Sir John Barnard.
'The Hon. Gentleman who spoke last found fault, Sir, with my worthy Friend below me, for speaking disrespectfully, as he called it, of the Crown; upon which I must observe that the Hon. Gentleman is very apt, I will not say willingly, to mistake what other Gentleman say, and then to find fault with what he supposes they did say? My worthy Friend said that the Crown has often been induced to affert for Truth what Time has afterwards discovered not to be true. Sir, the Grown is never supposed to know any thing but by Information, and if those who inform the Crown have been themselves misinformed, or should for any private and wicked Purpose give the Crown a false Information, the Crown may by such Information be induced to assert for Truth, what Time may very probably shew not to have been true so that without any Explanation, there is no Foundation for finding fault with what my worthy Friend said: Nay it is what happens but too often. Were not we told but a few Years ago of some secret Articles in an Alliance entered into between two of our Neighbours, by which Gibraltar was to have been taken from us, and the Pretender to have been placed by force upon the Throne of these Realms? This was afterwards discovered not to be true; and indeed, to consider the Situation and Circumstances of the two Powers said to have entered into these Articles, it is hardly possibly to believe that any such Projects should have enter'd into either of their Heads: Yet this was confidently asserted; and to have pretended at that Time to have doubted of it, would, I believe, have been reckoned highly disrespectful to the Crown, if not downright Disaffection. So far are we, Sir, from being obliged to believe every Thing asserted by the Crown, that we are in many Cases bound to enquire into the Truth of such Assertions; and if they should, upon such Enquiry, appear to be false, we ought to punish those who have either foolishly or knavishly imposed upon the Crown.
'Upon the present Occasion, Sir, the Crown is absolutely safe from any Accusation or Suspicion of this Kind; for we have not as yet had the least Information from the Crown; even by the present Message, notwithstanding the great Powers thereby demanded, it is not so much as insinuated that the Nation is in any Danger, nor are we informed of any Fact from which it may be conjectured that the Nation may soon be in Danger. It has indeed been insinuated by an Hon. Gentleman in this House, by way of Supplement to the Message, that we are in Danger of an Invasion from France; but even that Gentleman himself says, he does not believe we are in any Danger, which is something very singular; he does not, he say, believe it, but yet he would have every other Gentleman in this House believe it; for it is certain there is no Danger to be apprehended from any other foreign Power; therefore it is impossible for any Gentleman, who is of his Opinion, with respect to our Danger from France, to agree to this Resolution: I say, it is impossible that any Gentleman, who does not think the Nation in any Danger, should agree to the granting to the Crown an unlimited Power of raising Forces by Sea and Land, of entering into expensive Alliances, and putting the Nation to an infinite Expence.
'But perhaps, Sir, the Danger we are now threatened with is of a Domestick Nature: If so, I wish some of those Gentlemen who know it would rise up and give us some Account of it; for really my Imagination is so barren, that I cannot form to myself an Idea of any such Danger, unless it be the Danger of having the Majority of next Parliament consist of such Persons as may not be agreeable to some Gentlemen; and if the Vote of Credit we are now to give should be applied towards preventing that Danger, if any Part of the Money should be made use of for that Purpose, it is certain, that no Gentleman needs be under any Apprehensions or any Uneasiness from the Promise now made, of accounting to next Parliament. But I beg pardon, Sir, I believe I should not have called the Resolution proposed to us a Vote of Credit, for I find Gentlemen are greatly divided whether it ought to be called a Vote of Credit, or a Vote of Confidence. However, I think that Dispute may be easily accommodated by calling it a Vote of Confidence and Credit.
'It may be thought, Sir, that I do not treat this Subject seriously enough: I will allow, that if the Nation were really in any Danger it would be an Affair of very great Consequence. In such a Case, it would be a very serious Question to determine, Whether we should devolve the Power of Parliament upon the Crown for a short Time: But when Gentlemen come with such a Demand, without any Foundation, when even they themselves tell us they believe we are in no Danger, but tell us of a French Squadron with four or five thousand Forces ready to be put on Board; and because we are now just at the End of a Parliament, make use of that Story as a sufficient Argument for us to put it in the Power of a Minister never to call another: I say, Sir, such a Demand, founded upon such an Argument, must be look'd on as a Ministerial Demand only, and therefore ought either to be treated with Ridicule, or rejected with Indignation. It is a Demand of such a Nature, Sir, that in my Opinion, no Gentleman, who has the least Regard for Parliaments, or who expects ever to sit in another free Parliament, can agree to it.'
Hereupon Sir Robert Walpole stood up again, and said,
Sir Robert Walpole.
'In the Station in which I have the Honour to serve the King, I cannot sit still when I hear the Crown reflected on in the manner it has been. I am in justice to the Memory of the late King, and in Duty to the present, obliged to take Notice of what happened to fall from the Honourable Gentleman under the Gallery. His late Majesty's Assertion, relating to the two secret Articles agreed on between two foreign Powers, which that Gentleman took Notice of and which he was pleased to say appeared afterwards not to be true, was as well founded, and as true an Assertion as ever came from the Crown, 'Tis true indeed, Mr. Palm, the Imperial Minister then at this Court, denied that there were any such secret Articles in the Treaty; [v. Appendix] but, Sir, when we have the Word of the late King from the Throne on one side, and the Denial of a foreign Minister, a Minister of inferior Rank too, upon the other, I must say that in such a Case, to pretend to be at a loss which to give most Credit to, is treating the Memory of our late Sovereign with very great Indignity; and I am sure, if Time has discovered any Thing, it has discover'd the contrary of what the Honourable Gentleman pretends. Do not we all know that Gibraltar was soon after actually besieged, and if proper Care had not been taken to prevent it, every Thing else that was stipulated by those secret Articles would as certainly have been undertaken. The other Project, if it had been undertaken, would, I believe, have met with the same Success; but I am persuaded there are some who are sorry it was not accomplished.
'Gentlemen talk, Sir, of Ministers misinforming, and imposing upon the Crown; but in that Case it was not his late Majesty's Ministers here who informed him, it was he that informed them of that Transaction: He had his Information at Hanover, and his Information was so good, that he could not be deceived: I know as well, and am as certain, that there were such Articles, as those very Persons who drew up the Articles. I am sorry, Sir, I have been provoked to say so much, to talk of these things may now be improper, and perhaps I cannot justify myself in having said so much, yet in Justice to the late King, I think I could say no less.
'As to the Question it self, I have heard no Objections made, but what have been fully answered by other Gentlemen, therefore shall not trouble you further upon it, but only to declare, that as this Nation may be exposed to great Dangers during the Interval of Parliament, I think it absolutely necessary to comply with his Majesty's Message; and as an Account is to be rendered to next Parliament, and as that Parliament must meet some Time next Winter, if not sooner, the Powers now to be granted cannot, in that Time, produce any bad Consequences; but may produce very good Effects, by giving a due Weight to any Proposals his Majesty, in Conjunction with his Allies, may think proper to make to the Powers now engaged in War.'
To this Mr. Pulteney replied:
'As it is now so late, and as many unanswerable Objections have been made to the Proposition now before us, I should not have given you any trouble, but that I think the Question of so great Moment, that I ought to testify my Aversion to it by something more than a bare Negative. As to the Danger from the French Fleet, Sir, it is either too near to be provided against by any thing that can be done in consequence of this Message, or it is so remote, that it may be provided against in a regular Manner: This has already been taken notice of; and has not as yet received any Answer. But I must further observe, that if there had ever been any Ground to suspect, that the French Fleet was design'd against this Island, their not coming hither before now, is sufficient to remove any Jealousy that might have been entertained that Way. They might have had Ships sufficient to have transported 5 or 6000 Men to this Island, and those Troops might have been embarked, nay, and even landed in this Island, long before this Time; and therefore their Fleet's waiting so long in their Harbour, is a plain Demonstration, that they are not design'd against this Island, but against a Place, which they cannot approach so early in the Spring.
'It is something very surprizing to me, Sir, that upon the present Occasion we should be told what the Dutch have done, or rather, indeed, what they have not done. When they make any Reduction of their Forces, in order to save publick Expence, and spare their People, we are then told, that their Example can be no Rule for us: But if they make any necessary Addition to their Land Forces, in order to put themselves in a Posture of Defence against Dangers, which we, from the Difference of our Situation, have not the least Reason to apprehend, then we are told, we ought to follow their Example: But in the present Case, even the Example of the Dutch can be no Argument. We have already done more than they have done, we have not only resolved to keep up the same Number of our Land-Forces, which certainly would not have been done, if the Tranquillity of Europe had remained undisturbed; but we have already made a very large Addition to the Number of our Seamen; an Addition which amounts to a greater Number of Men than that Number of Land-Forces which the Dutch have only resolved not to reduce. So that tho' we be not near so much exposed to the Danger as the Dutch; yet we have already very far exceeded them in the Expence we have put our selves to, on account of the War.
'We are next told, that the Towns in Flanders are in a very bad Situation, and no way provided for Defence. For God's sake, Sir, are we thus to be eternally the Dupes of Europe? If the Emperor, or any other Power, neglects to keep their fortified Places in a proper Posture of Defence, must we answer for that Neglect? Are we, for the Sake of preserving the Balance of Power in Europe, to undertake, at our own Charges, to defend every Power in Europe, and to prevent their being invaded or conquered by any of their Neighbours? Such Arguments, Sir, I should think ridiculous, if made use of for persuading us to put ourselves to the least additional Expence; but they are much more so, when they are the only Arguments made use of for prevailing with us to make a total Surrender of our Liberties. Surely, Gentlemen must think this House mighty ready to resign the Liberties of their Country, when they make such Propositions, and support them by such Arguments.
'To me, Sir, it really appears as if this Proposition had been made by way of Experiment, to see what Lengths we might be prevailed on to go; and if we agree to it, I am sure it is what we can never answer for to our selves, our Constituents, or our Posterity; nay, we cannot answer for it, even to his Majesty himself; for it is a destroying of the Rights of Parliament; and as his Majesty's Right to the Crown, is founded on the Rights of Parliament, whatever tends to the Destruction of the one, must end to the Destruction of the other. The Parliament, Sir, is the Guardian of the Crown, as well as of the People. We are put to protect the People in the Enjoyment of their Rights and Privileges, we are likewise to protect the Crown against wicked and evil Counsellors; and in my Opinion, the Message now before us, and the Proposition now made to us, are of such an extraordinary Nature, that if the Spirit of Liberty, that Spirit which brought about the Revolution, and established the present Family upon the Throne, is not already quite extinguished in this Nation, we may soon expect to see a Parliament, that will not only censure, but condemn and punish those who have been the chief Advisers of such a Measure.
An Address in pursuance of the King's Message agreed to.
Mr. Talbot spoke next for the Motion and Sir John Hynde Cotton against it: Then the Question being put, upon the Motion for the Address, it was carried in the Affirmative by 248 to 147.
April 1. The above Address was presented to the King; and his Majesty return'd the following Answer:
His Majesty's Answer thereto.
"I return you my Thanks for these Assurances of your Duty and Fidelity to my Person and Government, and for the Considence, which you repose in me. I desire only, that I may be in a Condition to support the Honour and Interest of my Crown and People; and the Power, you have given me, shall be made Use of to no other Purpose."
April 8. Sir Robert Walpole presented to the House the following Message from the King:
The King's Message for settling an Annuity of 5000 l. per Annum, on the Princess Royal for her Life.
"His Majesty, having been pleased to direct LettersPatent to be passed under the Great Seal of Great-Britain, for settling on the Princess Royal an Annuity of 5000 l. per Annum, as a Mark of his Royal Favour and Affection to her, and the Laws now in being restraining his Majesty from granting the same for any longer Term than his own Life, hopes, he shall be enabled to make such Grant for the Life of the said Princess Royal, in Case she shall survive his Majesty, and recommends the Consideration thereof to this House."
A Bill pass'd for that Purpose.
The above Message was immediately taken into Consideration, and a Bill order'd accordingly, which pass'd both Houses in three Days: Notwithstanding which, it is observable, that upon the Second Reading thereof in the House of Commons, a Motion being made for committing the Bill, the same was oppos'd by some Members; but upon a Division, it was carried in the Affirmative by 133 against 56.
The King's Speech at puting an End to the Parliament.
April 16. The King came to the House of Peers, and put an End to the Session with the following Speech:
"My Lords and Gentlemen,
"I Give you my hearty Thanks for the great Dispatch you have given to the Publick Business, and for the Confidence you have reposed in Me for the Honour and Security of My Kingdom. So short a Session, at so critical and important a Conjuncture, concluded with so much Unanimity, and so just a Regard for the true Interest of the Nation, will give great Weight and Credit to all Our publick Transactions, and procure that Respect and Dependance upon the great Council of this Nation, which are so necessary to support the Honour and Interest of Great Britain both at Home and Abroad.
"Gentlemen of the House of Commons.
"I must acknowledge in a particular Manner the Zeal and Readiness which you have shewn in raising in so effectual a Manner, the necessary Supplies for the Service of the Year: the Provision you have made for paying off great Part of the Debt of the Navy, a Debt necessarily and unavoidably incurred, and carrying a higher Interest than the old National Debt, and which, being at a Discount, increased the Charge and Expence in all Contracts of the Navy and Victualling, must certainly be thought of fingular Service to the Publick.
"My Lords and Gentlemen,
"The Time limited for the Expiration of this Parliament drawing near, I have resolved forthwith to issue my Proclamation for the dissolving of it, and for calling a new Parliament, that the Inconveniencies unavoidably attending a general Election, may be put an End to as soon as possible; but I should think My Self inexcusable, if I parted with this Parliament without doing them the Justice to acknowledge the many signal Proofs they have given, thro' the Course of Seven Years, of their Duty, Fidelity, and Attachment to My Person and Government, and their constant Regard to the true Interest of their Country.
"The Prosperity and Glory of My Reign depend upon the Affections and Happiness of My People, and the Happiness of My People upon My preserving to them all their legal Rights and Privileges, as established under the present Settlement of the Crown in the Protestant Line. A due Execution and strict Observance of the Laws, are the best and only Security both to Sovereign and Subject; their Interest is mutual and inseparable, and therefore their Endeavours for the Support of each other ought to be equal and reciprocal; any Infringement or Incroachment upon the Rights of either is a Diminution of the Strength of both, which kept within their due Bounds and Limits, make that just Balance, which is necessary for the Honour and Dignity of the Crown, and for the Protection and Prosperity of the People. What depends upon Me, shall, on my Part, be religiously kept and observed, and I make no doubt of receiving the just Returns of Duty and Gratitude from them.
"I must in a particular Manner recommend it to you, and from your known Affection do expect, that you will use your best Endeavours to heal the unhappy Divisions of the Nation, and to reconcile the Minds of all, who truly and sincerely wish the Safety and Welfare of the Kingdom. It would be the greatest Satisfaction to Me to see a perfect Harmony restored amongst them that have one and the same Principle at Heart, that there might be no Distinction, but of such as mean the Support of Our present happy Constitution in Church and State, and such as wish to subvert both. This is the only Distinction that ought to prevail in this Country, where the Interest of King and People is one and the same, and where they cannot subsist but by being so. If Religion, Liberty, and Property, were never at any Time more fully enjoyed, without not only any Attempt, but even the Shadow of a Design, to alter and invade them, let not these sacred Names be made use of, as artful and plausible Pretences to undermine the present Establishment, under which alone they can be safe.
"I have nothing to wish but that My People may not be misguided; I appeal to their own Consciences for My Conduct, and hope the Providence of God will direct them in the Choice of such Representatives, as are most fit to be trusted with the Care and Preservation of the Protestant Religion; the present Establishment, and all the Religious and Civil Rights of Great-Britain.
After which the Lord Chancellor, by his Majesty's Command, prorogued the Parliament to the 14th of May; but on the 18th of April, a Proclamation was issued for their Dissolution, and for the calling a new Parliament.