The History and Proceedings of the House of Commons: Volume 8, 1733-1734. Originally published by Chandler, London, 1742.
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Ld Morpeth moves for a Bill to prevent any Commission-Officer, not above the Rank of a Colonel of a Regiment, from being remov'd, unless by a Court-Martial, or by Address of either House of Parliament.
Feb. 13. The Mutiny Bill having been read a second Time, and committed to a Committee of the whole House, the Lord Viscount Morpeth stood up and spoke as follows:
'Though an Army be, as yet, no Part of our Constitution, yet we find the Parliament has, of late, thought proper to keep a much greater Number of Forces on Foot in this Kingdom, than was known in former Times. I have always been one of those, who thought a much less Number sufficient for the Defence of this Nation, and the Security of our Government; but a Majority of both Houses of Parliament have been of a contrary Opinion, being thereto induced, as I believe, sometimes by Plots, and treasonable Conspiracies at Home; and at other Times by the Situation of our Affairs Abroad, and the precarious State in which the Affairs of Europe happen'd to be in at that Time. This has been our unfortunate Case for many Years past, and it is to be fear'd that our Case for Years to come will not be much better, so that 'tis probable that the same Number of regular Forces, or perhaps a greater Number, may be thought necessary to be continued from Year to Year; therefore I think it is the Business of Parliament to put our Army under such Regulations, as may be thought proper and necessary for the Security of our Constitution.
'It is certain, a numerous Standing-Army, intirely under the Influence of the Crown, or of any one Man, has overturned the Liberties of most Countries, and must always be dangerous to this; and tho' the Parliament has hitherto thought fit to consent to the keeping up the Number we have at present, yet it is well known what Fears and Apprehensions that Measure has created in the Minds of the People; and therefore it is become necessary for us to think of some Regulation which may quiet them, by securing our Constitution, as much as possible, against the bad Consequences usually attending the keeping up of a StandingArmy: This may be effected in a great Measure, by making our Army not altogether so dependent upon the Crown as they are at present; for the less dependent the Army is upon any one Man, the less dangerous they must be to the Liberties of their Country; and with this View it is that I shall beg Leave to make a Motion, which will, I hope, meet with a general Approbation.
'There is one Power now enjoy'd by the Crown, which must always be attended with the most dangerous Consequences; I mean, the arbitrary Power now lodged in the Crown, of removing the Officers of the Army at Pleasure: At present the Crown, or rather the Ministers and Favourites of the Crown, may remove any Officer of the Army, without any Reason or Cause assign'd, nay, even without so much as accusing him of any Crime or Neglect in his Military Capacity; and this Power must appear to every Gentleman to be the more dangerous, when we consider how many Gentlemen of the Army have Seats in this House, as well as in the other House of Parliament.
'In all the other Countries of Europe which have any Pretences to Liberty, tho' there are perhaps none of them that enjoy so much Freedom as we do, yet there are, by their Laws, some wise Provisions made, with respect to their Armies: In Holland no Officer can be broke but by Sentence of a Court Martial; but in Sweden, during the Reign of their last King, they were so sensible of the many Inconveniencies and great Dangers of this absolute Power, which their King had over the Army, that upon his Demise, they made a Law, that no Officer should thereafter be removed from his Commission in the Army, without the Consent of the Senate. This must shew what Opinion all our Neighbours, who have any Regard for the Liberty of their Country, have of this arbitrary Power in the Crown; and, as I hope, there are no People upon the Earth who have a greater Regard to the Liberty of their Country, than the Gentlemen who now hear me, I shall therefore, without farther opening this Affair, move, That Leave may be given to bring in a Bill for the better securing the Constitution, by preventing the Officers not above the Rank of Colonels of Regiments, of such Land-Forces as shall at any Time be allowed by Authority of Parliament, from being deprived of their Commissions, otherwise than by Judgment of a Court-Martial to be held for that Purpose, or by Address of either House of Parliament.'
Sir J. Rushout.
Sir John Rushout seconded the Motion thus:
'The noble Lord, who has been pleased to make you the Motion, has opened it in so full and so clear a Manner, and has made it appear to me so reasonable, that I cannot help joining with his Lordship in it. That a Standing Army is no Part of our Constitution, will not, I believe, be denied by any Gentleman in this House, it being declared so by the Mutiny-Bill, which we have just now read a second Time; but yet our Army has been kept up so many Years, and is likely to be kept up for so many Years longer, that it is high Time to provide some Antidote for that Evil, which every Man so justly apprehends.
'By the Mutiny-Bill it appears, that no common Soldier can be punished or dismissed as guilty of a Crime, till he be first tried and found guilty by the Sentence of a Court-Martial; that the Officers of the Army should be in a worse Situation, that they should be liable to be removed, as if guilty, without any Crime so much as alledged against them, or any Trial or Sentence, appears to me so inconsistent, that I am surprized some Regulations in this Particular has not been made long ago. The noble Lord, who made this Motion, took Notice that there were, and, I believe, always will be, a great many Officers of the Army who have Seats in Parliament; there are now above forty who have Seats in this House; and tho' I have an Opinion of them, and do not doubt but that they will act with as much Integrity as any other Gentlemen in the House, yet as long as they are liable to be turned out of their Commissions at the Pleasure of a Minister, they may justly suspect that the Continuance of their Commissions, may depend upon their Behaviour in this House; and therefore it must be granted, that they are more liable to a Ministerial, or a Court-Dependence than other Members are; for which Reason, I am sure that they cannot disapprove of a Proposition, meant chiefly to set them on the same independent Foot that other Gentlemen are on, with respect to their Behaviour in this House: I cannot indeed apprehend, that a Proposition in itself so reasonable can meet with any Opposition; but if it should, I make no Doubt of having the Assistance of those Gentlemen of the Army, who have the Honour to be Members of this House, in Support of a Proposition designed for their Security, as well as for securing the Liberties of their Country; I am only afraid lest Modesty may make some of them withdraw: This I shall be sorry for; but I hope none of them will shew so much Self-denial as to oppose the Motion, only because it is for their private Interest to agree to it. I shall not upon this Occasion give the House any farther Trouble; the Regulation proposed is so apparently reasonable and necessary, that I do not think it requires much to be said, either to explain or enforce it; and if any Objections should be started, I hope other Gentlemen will take Care to remove them, therefore I shall only second the Motion.'
Hereupon Mr Clutterbuck stood up, and oppos'd the Motion.
'Notwithstanding what has been said by the noble Lord who made the Motion, and the honourable Gentleman who seconded it, I cannot give my Concurrence. The noble Lord set out with saying, that a Standing-Army is no Part of our Constitution: God forbid it should ever become so: But it is certain, that the Parliament may sometimes find it necessary to keep up a Standing-Army from Year to Year, for the Support and Defence of our Constitution; and for this Purpose it is, that the Parliament has of late Years consented to the keeping up of the Army, which some Gentlemen in this House have, indeed thought to consist of too great a Number; but I do not remember ever to have heard it so much as insinuated, that we ought not to have any regular Forces at all in the Country. The Constitution of this Country is the best I know, or ever heard of; and therefore I shall always think, that all that is incumbent upon us, is to preserve and hand it down, as it is now, to those that shall come after us; but if there were any Flaw in our Constitution, I am sure the Proposition now made to us, would be so far from mending, that it would intirely sap and undermine it. It has always been the undoubted Prerogative of the Crown, to make and remove the Officers of the Army at Pleasure; this is a Part of our Constitution, and to invade the Prerogative, or wantonly to rob the Crown of any Part of it, is certainly an Invasion of our Constitution, which People ought to be extremely cautious of; for if wo once begin to make Alterations or Innovations in our Constitution, it will not be so easy to tell where it will end, or how far we may go: If we once begin, we may be carried such Lengths as may intirely subvert that Constitution, which has rendered this Nation so rich and so powerful, and which makes us at present the happiest People upon Earth. While the Army continues in its present Condition, while the Officers depend upon the King for their Commissions, and the whole Army upon the Parliament for its Continuance and Pay, our Constitution cannot be subverted by our Army, nor can we be in any Danger from any Number of regular Forces so kept up; but if this Proposition should take Place, it would make the Army really dangerous to our Constitution; the Army would then become both independent of King and Parliament, and might soon make themselves Matters of both. There are many Crimes an Officer may be guilty of, which might give good and sufficient Reason to his Majesty to remove him, and yet those Crimes may be such as cannot properly be tried by a Court-Martial; for Example, Disaffection: His Majesty and all Mankind may be fully convinced of the Disaffection of an Officer, tho' it may be impossible to prove that Disaffection to the Satisfaction of a Court-Martial; and yet the Disaffection may be so flagrant, and so ready to break forth in some treasonable Act, that the Safety of the Government, the very Being of our Constitution, may depend upon the immediate Removal of that Officer; and as this Proposition, should it pass into a Law, would make such Officers the more bold and enterprizing, the Consequence of their Disaffection, which could not then be immediately prevented, would be the more to be dreaded. The noble Lord mentioned to us the Case of some of our neighbouring Countries, but I must think, that when we see other People more happy or more free than ourselves, it is then time enough for us to fly to other Countries to seek Examples for our Imitation: And as to the Case of Holland, I cannot say I have lately considered that Constitution, therefore I speak with Uncertainty; but I believe that as to their Army their Stadtholder has the same Power that our King has; he may, I believe, remove the Officers of the Army at Pleasure, and for us to take from his Majesty that Power, which all his Royal Predecessors have enjoyed, which even the States of Holland have trusted their Supreme Magistrate with, would, in my Opinion, appear very strange, especially since it must be granted, that his Majesty has never once made an ill Use of that Power, or done any Thing to deserve its being taken from him. In short, I take this Proposition to be a most dangerous Innovation, if not a thorough Alteration of our Constitution; therefore I cannot consent to it.'
Mr Clutterbuck was answer'd by Mr Sandys.
'I am very much surprized to hear the honourable Gentleman, who spoke last, say, that this Proposition would sap and undermine our Constitution; for if a Standing-Army be no Part of our Constitution, as he himself was pleased to admit, how can it be possible that any Regulation with respect to our Army, can sap and undermine, or indeed have any thing to do with our Constitution? It is certain, that our Army is not as yet any Part of our Constitution; but if a Standing-Army be continued, for any time to come, upon the same Footing it is a present, some future ambitious King, or criminal Prime-Minister may model it so as to make it not only a Part, but under them, the whole of our Constitution. The Officers of the Army and other Dependents upon the Crown, may at last become so numerous in both Houses of Parliament, that they may come to be almost the only Persons to meet here, in order to make Law and impose Taxes, and then to send their Orders to their inferior Officers and Substitutes, to execute those Laws, and levy those Taxes; and all this under the Direction of an ambitious Prince or wicked Minister, who may make a blind Submission to the most arbitrary Commands, the only Tenure by which they are to hold their Commissions, or even their Seats in Parliament; in such Case I would gladly know where we could find the Liberties and Privileges of the People of England, or any other Constitution, but that of our King, his Ministers, and his Army.
'The Prerogative of the Crown, this Power which our Kings are said always to have enjoyed, and which Gentlemen are so much afraid of the Crown's being robbed of, is but a very new Prerogative; for a Standing-Army is so far from being a Part of our Constitution, that 'till of late Years there never was any such thing known in this Nation; 'Till the Revolution we never had any such Thing as a regular Standing-Army; the Army that was raised at that time, was raised to defend our Liberties and Properties, and to assist a Prince who came to rescue us from Slavery; as soon as the Danger was over, it was always understood, that the Army was to be disbanded, but the two heavy Wars we were successively engaged in, made it necessary to keep up a Standing-Army during the Reigns of that Prince and his Successor; and ever since that time there have always been, I do not know how, some Pretences found to keep up a numerous Standing-Army, even in times of the most profound Peace; so that we seem now so firmly saddled with it, that I am afraid few Gentlemen in this House will live to see our present Army, or any Part of them, reduc'd. Before the Revolution, those Armies, by which we always so bravely defended ourselves, those Armies, which made us a Terror to our Enemies, were Armies raised among the People, upon the Approach of Danger; and as soon as that Danger was over, as soon as Peace returned, the Army was dismissed, and the Soldiers returned to their usual Labour and Industry; in those Days it is well known that our Military Force did not intirely depend upon our Kings. The King, indeed, had the chief Command, but most of the other Commanders were such as were chosen by their respective Counties, or such as held their Commands by their Tenures, and could not be removed from that Command, without being legally found guilty of a Crime, no more than they could have been removed from their Free-holds: Therefore, when Gentlemen talk of the Prerogative of the Crown, which they say is to be invaded by this Proposition, they must be understood to mean only that Prerogative, which has grown up since the Revolution. It is certain, that the Prerogative of the Crown has always been a very growing Part of our Constitution, and for this Reason our Ancestors have often been obliged to clip and pare it, otherwise all the Liberties and Privileges of the People would long ago have been swallowed up by the Prerogative; and, I believe, it will be granted, that the Prerogative, even within these last 30 or 40 Years, has grown pretty considerably. I believe every Gentleman will admit, the Power of the Crown is now infinitely greater than it was for some Years after the Revolution; and I wish that those, who now seem so tender of invading what they call the Prerogative, would, upon other Occasions, appear as tender of invading the Liberties of the People: This ought to be the principal Care of every Member of this House; the Crown stands in no Need of any Advocates here, because by our Constitution, the Crown may put a Stop to any Incroachment upon the Prerogative, when the Incroachment is such as may not be thought necessary for the Preservation of our Liberties. The Gentleman talked of Innovations and Alterations in the Constitution, as of something new and terrible; I do not know what that Gentleman may mean by Innovations and Alterations; but I am sure our Constitution has seasonably met with many Amendments. Do we not know, that formerly the Crown not only named, but could remove the Judges, at Pleasure; and this arbitrary Power of removing, with respect to the Judges, was formerly a Part of the Prerogative; but as great Inconveniencies were felt from the Use that had been made of this Power, it was taken from the Crown; and the Judges, when once named by the Crown, were by Law made Judges for Life. This Law, when first made, was certainly intended to make them Judges for their own Lives; but even this Part of the Prerogative has begun again to grow; and those very Gentlemen, the Judges themselves, have been prevailed on to find out I do not know what Quirks and Evasions, whereby they seem now to have fixed their Right for the Life of another Person only. However, even as it stands now, the Prerogative has thereby been diminished, and whether this was to be called an Invasion, an Innovation, or an Alteration, I do not know, but I am very sure, it was a very necessary Amendment, which has produced no Inconveniencies, nor any way injured our Constitution; and why doing the same thing with respect to the Officers of the Army, should give such a terrible Alarm to some Gentlemen, as if our Constitution was thereby to be sapped and undermined, I cannot comprehend. I agree with the honourable Gentleman, that our Constitution, to take it in the general, is as good, if not better than that of any of our neighbouring Countries, yet in some Particulars some of them may have the Advantage of us, and in these we ought not to be ashamed to take Example from them, and from thence endeavour to improve our own: For political Constitutions, even of the best Sort, are like the Constitutions of human Bodies, apt to languish and decay, and often stand in need of Restoratives; even our own Constitution, good as it is, wants every now and then to be polished and restored to its primitive Lustre, and particularly that growing Part, the Prerogative, ought sometimes to have its cumbersome Branches lopp'd off, otherwise it may become too heavy for the principal Stock: This is what our Ancestors have often done, and this is what I think we may in the present Case do, without the least Danger. The honourable Gentleman took Notice of the Trials by Courts-Martial, and said, that there were many Things an Officer might be guilty of, for which he ought to be removed, and which, nevertheless, could not be properly tried, or, at least, not fully proved before a Court-Martial; and he mentioned particularly the Case of Disaffection: I cannot grant that this is a Case which can often happen; but allowing that it might, it is fully provided against by the Motion which the noble Lord hath been pleased to make: Does not the Parliament sit every Year? And, in Case of an Officer's being notoriously disaffected, is it to be doubted, but that the Parliament would address his Majesty to remove such an Officer from all Command in the Army? And there could be no Danger from the Delay, because his Majesty could, in the mean Time, suspend him, or even lay him under an Arrest, if it should be thought necessary.'
Upon this Col. Bladen spoke as follows:
'I can by no Means give my Assent to the Proposition now before us, as it tends to the taking from the Crown a Prerogative, which, not only by our Constitution, belongs to the Crown, but has, by express Acts of Parliament been declared to be solely in the Crown; for a Proof of which, I shall only desire the two Militia-Acts passed in the 13th and 14th Years of the Reign of King Charles II. to be read.'
[Here the Clerk of the House read those Acts.]
'Whatever Gentlemen may say about our Constitution, it appears by these Acts, that the Sense of Parliament then was, that the supreme Government of the Militia, and of all Forces by Sea and Land then was, and ever was the King's undoubted Right; and that the King might, at Pleasure, commissionate or displace the Officers of the Militia; and therefore I must think, that if ever our MilitiaForce was under any other Regulation, it was either a Regulation which was not according to our Constitution, or it was a Regulation which was found to be so inconvenient, that it was very soon alter'd. Gentlemen may indeed say, that these Acts concern only the Militia, and have no Relation to our Standing Army; but as our Militia was found to be of little or no Use after our Neighbours began all to keep up regular Standing Armies; therefore we were obliged to substitute, in the Place of our Militia, a regular Standing Army; and consequently, the same Power over that Standing Army and the Officers of that Army, must be supposed to be vested, by these Acts, in the King, as he is thereby declared to have had over the Militia and the Officers of the Militia; and now to attempt to take away that Prerogative, when I am sure it cannot be said that any wrong Use has lately been made of it, appears to me very extraordinary.
'I have heard, that some Gentlemen are so much out of Humour with our present Government, and so tired of our present happy Establishment, that they would do almost any Thing to get rid of it; they would, for that End, even agree to the making a thorough Change in our Constitution, by forming it into a Commonwealth; I could never indeed believe that there was any Truth in these Reports; I could not believe that there could be such a Madman in this Nation: But should this Motion take Place, if I could so much as believe that Gentlemen were really serious in the Motion they have made, I would no longer look upon such Reports as chymerical; for I never heard of any Motion made in Parliament, which tended so directly towards establishing a Commonwealth, as the present does, except some of those famous Motions which were made in the Years Forty and Forty-One; and I am persuaded, if this Motion should take Place, it will produce the same Consequences.
'What! to create an Army for Life, an Army independent of the King, sure Gentlemen are not in earnest, or they must have forgot the Confusions, and the fatal Effects which were formerly produced in this Nation by such an Army. I thank God, I am none of those who are tired of our present happy Establishment: I think we enjoy our Liberties in their full Extent, and I shall never give my Consent to a Proposition, which would put it out of the King's Power to remove any, even of those Officers who are appointed to guard his Royal Person, without the Consent of the other Officers: It would be found to be a difficult Matter to prevail with a Court Martial to punish or break an Officer, perhaps, for a Crime which every one of that Court Martial was himself guilty of. If the Gentlemen of the Army should once be made to depend only upon one another, they would soon be made sensible of their own Power, and we do not know what Use they might be tempted to make of it. In short, Sir, the Proposition, in my Opinion, tends to nothing but Confusion; and therefore I am heartily against it.'
Sir Tho. Robinson.
Sir Thomas Robinson spoke next against Lord Morpeth's Motion, as follows:
'I cannot help expressing my Surprise at a Proposition of this Nature; for though it has been talked of without Doors for some time past, yet I never could 'till Yesterday believe that it would actually have been introduced here; because it appears to me to be founded on a Supposition, that the same Number of Forces we now maintain, is for ever to be entailed on our Posterity.
'Had a Proposition of this Nature come hither from another Quarter, founded on the Perpetuity of the Army, it would have been thought highly unreasonable; and if a Regulation thus founded, should pass this House, it may be made Use of hereafter as an Argument to continue the Army, when there is no longer any Reason for it; and may be employed as a Means to interweave the Civil with the Military Power, and to make a Military Establishment a Part of our Constitution.
'As this Question has been stated, the Power of the King and the Liberties of the People seem to interfere, and therefore it will be very difficult to speak in Favour of the one, without being liable to be represented as having a Design to depress the other; but as the Excellency of our Constitution consists in preserving a just Temperament between the King, Lords, and Commons, and the right balancing the Power allotted to each, we ought not to attempt to diminish the Power of either of these three in any Instance, unless by the Exercise of Power in that parcular Case it be found, that that Branch of our Legislature is armed with a Strength disproportionable to the other two; and therefore, before we concur in taking away from the Crown the Prerogative of displacing Officers, it ought first to be very clearly demonstrated, that the Influence the King has at present over the Army, is greater than is necessary for the Security of his Person and Government, or greater than is consistent with the Liberties of the People; and this I take to be the very Point in Question.
'The very Point now in Debate seems to be, Whether the lopping off so great a Branch of Prerogative from the Crown, and transferring it to the Army, will not disarm the Crown of a Power necessary to keep the Army firm and steady to our present Establishment? and whether by trusting it in the Hands of the Soldiers, we may throw a greater Degree of independent Strength into the Army itself, than it ought to have, a much greater than has hitherto been thought either fit or prudent to intrust it with.
'Upon this Occasion, I cannot help reminding Gentlemen, what fatal Consequences attended that Law made in the Year 1641, whereby it was put out of the Power of the King to dissolve or prorogue the Parliament without their own Consent; if breaking the Balance of any of the three Powers in the Legislature, if the two Houses of Parliament assuming to themselves an Independency not lawfully vested in them by our Constitution, was attended with so many Evils, what may we not dread, should we see the Officers of an Army not removable, but by their own Consent? The History of the last Century fully shews us, what various Scenes of Confusion succeeded the fatal Statute I have just mentioned, and every one's Thoughts may suggest to him, what must be the natural Consequence of this, should it succeed.
'If Gentlemen will only recollect a little the Roman History, they will find, that whenever Military Governments of Provinces were given for Life, or for a certain Term of Years only, or even when the Army got the Privilege of choosing their own Officers, the Sovereign Power came soon after to be lodged in the Army itself, and proved fatal to those very Persons who had acquiesced under these ill-judged Concessions; and I am afraid, if a Power should be given our Army, that no Officer shall be put out, but by the Judgment and Consent of the other Officers, the next natural Step for them to take will be, that none shall be put in or preferred, who have not their Recommendation; for Armies are of such a Nature, that they either must obey, or will soon command. Numberiess Examples might be produced in Support of what I have said, both from ancient and modern History; but I shall not now enumerate Particulars, with which many other Gentlemen may be better acquainted than I am.
'And that this has been the received Opinion of our Ancestors, since Monarchy was known in this Island, becomes evident by reflecting, that in all the Struggles they had with the Crown for Liberty; nay, even at the Time of the late Revolution, when every thing was thought of by the Patriots of those Days, for lessening the Royal Prerogative, so far as was judged necessary for, or consistent with the Preservation of our Constitution, I do not remember to have read or heard, that there was ever a Mention made of any Project of this Nature; and it is most certain, that if such a Project had been in Force 50 Years ago, our Business in this House would now have been rather to have registered the Edicts prescribed to us by the Army, than to have debated any thing that might affect a Body of Men made so formidable by their Independency.
'I would ask the Gentlemen, who are for this Proposition, one plain Question, Whether it be not absolutely necessary, that either the Military Power must be dependent on the Civil Power, or the Civil upon the Military? If from the Nature of Things one be necessary, the Option cannot be difficult to make. Surely, Gentlemen upon this Occasion, do not recollect the Fate of their Predecessors in the Middle of the last Century, when the Parliament, by granting such Concessions to the Army, made the Army soon hold them in Contempt, who had thus made the Military Power independent of the Civil Magistrate; I say, I must take it for granted, that this Part of our History is intirely forgot, when I see a Question moved in this House, tending to give the Army that Independency of the State, which has formerly made, and in Process of Time, must again make Parliaments useless; for I look upon Mankind in general as pretty near upon a Level, in all Ages, very strong Temptations will too often get the better of the very best Intention, and like Causes will always produce like Effects.
'In my Opinion, the great Danger to be guardad against in all Armies is, any Step that tends to raise them to a State of Independency; and therefore by the Wisdom of the Legislature, our Army is so wisely constituted, as not only to be dependent on the annual Votes of this House for its Subsistence and Continuance, but also as to the Number it shall consist of; then as to the Nomination of the Officers, it has always been lodged in the Crown, as 'tis highly proper it should, they have always been left dependent on the King, whose Person they are obliged to defend, whose Government they are intended to support.
'Thus is our Army necessarily dependent in a double Capacity, the Whole is dependent on this House for its very Existence, which may be put an End to whenever any Danger comes to be apprehended from it; but the Officers, while the Army exists, are to depend on the King for their Commissions, otherwise how could he depend on their Fidelity or Behaviour, should they be called forth to Action; for an Officer may be guilty of several Crimes which cannot be properly laid before a Court-Martial, particularly Disaffection, of which, tho' there be Proof sufficient to make it indisputable, yet the Proof may be of such a Nature, as not to be proper to be laid before a Court Martial, or perhaps cannot be laid in such a Manner, as to make it have its just Weight with Officers sitting in Judgment on one of their own Fraternity.
'Tho', therefore, in this Respect, our Army, as it receives its annual Support and Existence from the Parliament, may be call'd a State-Army, a Denomination an honourable Gentleman has much insisted on, yet, I think, the Conclusions he has drawn from thence are very ill grounded; for a State-Army, as such, does not in the least imply a Necessity of the Officers holding their Imployments for Life; on the contrary, it seems necessary in all Armies, they should be subordinate to some other Power, that they may not defeat the Purpose for which they are maintained; for if they should be thus made dependent only on themselves, and independent of the three other Powers of the Legislature, it will, in my Opinion, be laying the Foundation of a fourth Power, a Military one, which may, in Process of Time, render useless the other three.
'This leads me to consider, in whom the Advocates for this Question propose to lodge this Power, this important Branch of the Prerogative, which is to be lopp'd off from the Crown, if this Military Scheme succeeds: As the Prerogative of the Crown is to be diminished, one would naturally imagine the Power of the People was intended to be increased; but this is not to be the Case, it is to be transferred from the Crown, not to the People, but to the Army, and lodged solely with the Officers themselves, who, from that Moment, will be independent of the Crown, and in Time, perhaps, of all other Authority; for one of the great Restraints upon the Army is this very Prerogative, which the King has of displacing Officers who may be suspected of bad Intentions: Give this Privilege to the Officers themselves only, and what Security shall we then have for their future Behaviour? In short, we shall then have raised a Power in Support of the present Establishment, without having provided a Security against its attempting to overturn that very Establishment; for thus, by removing this necessary Check upon the Army, a distant Time may come, when the Nation, with Reason, may be jealous of an Army, in whose Hands we shall have put a Power sufficient to enable them to get the better both of King and Parliament, and to set up a new Constitution of their own; whereas, while the Army continues in the State it is at present, there is little Danger to be apprehended from it, even should it have the Rashness to attempt any Thing against either.
'It has been urged by an honourable Gentleman under the Gallery, that, as the Judges hold their Imployments for Life, we ought to convey the same Privileges to the Officers of the Army: In my Opinion, this is Reasoning upon a very wrong Foundation, for, I think, no just Parallel can be drawn betwixt Civil and Military Officers in general, but certainly there is the widest Difference between those who act in a Judicial, and those who act in a Military Capacity; for the same State of Independence necessary to leave the Judge unbiassed in pronouncing Judgment, would tend to disengage the Soldier from that Interest, to which he ought solely, and in Contradistinction to all others, to be thoroughly attached: A Judge should be left free and unbiassed, that he may speak what the Law speaks, and distribute Justice impartially to all Parties; but the very Nature of the Army requires the strictest Subordination in the Officers, without which there can be no Discipline; the Soldier must be dependent, and must act in Subjection to the lawful Commands of those, by whom he is maintain'd; nor can any Qualification make amends for his Failure in this Particular.
'There is besides a particular Circumstance, which makes it impossible to draw any just Parallel between the Judges and the Officers of the Army; the Judges not only determine between Subject and Subject, but they are likewise to determine between the Crown and the People; if any Question arises between the King and a Subject, they are to determine the Point in dispute, and therefore it is necessary that they should be made as independent as possible upon either of the Parties; but no such Power was ever yet lodged in the Officers of the Army, and it is to be hoped never will; for tho' I have so great an Opinion of the Gentlemen who are at present in the Service, that I think any Power may be safely lodged in their Hands, yet, I believe, they neither desire such a Power, nor would they consent to the giving of any such to their Successors.
'But the Proposition now made to us would render the Officers of the Army still more independent, both upon our King and Government, than the Judges are at present: If a Judge be guilty of any Crime, or of any Neglect of Duty in the Execution of his Office, he is not to be try'd by the other Judges only, he is to be try'd by a Jury, he is to have an open and a fair Trial in Westminster-Hall, as the rest of his Fellow-Subjects have; and if it were otherwise, if a Judge for any Misbehaviour, were to be try'd in a private Way by his Brother-Judges only, I should think both our Lives, Liberties, and Properties in greater Danger from them under such a Regulation, than if they were still dependent on the Crown for the Continuance of their Commissions; and it must be granted, that this last would be the Case of the Officers of the Army, if this Proposition should take place; for they could be try'd by none, they could be punish'd by none but themselves, and consequently they would have no Dependence but upon one another; and without any Derogation to the Characters of those, who are now so worthily at the Head of the Law, or to those who command in the Army, I believe every Person will allow, that the Fear of Punishment, and the Hopes of Reward, are equally necessary to keep most Men to their Duty, and of course to make them useful to Society.
'As another Reason in Support of this Proposition, an honourable Gentleman has recommended the Wisdom of the Swedes to our Imitation, who, he says, have introduced this very Regulation in their Army; but give me Leave to observe, in Answer to this, it is so very late a Practice among them, that they cannot yet be proper Judges, how far 'twill answer the Purpose for which 'twas introduced.
'To be sure it is very commendable in those who have spoke for this Question; nay, it is the Duty every Man owes his Country, to observe the Methods of Government used in other States, and adopt that which is founded on Wisdom and true Policy into their own; but in all Attempts of this Kind, a strict Regard is to be had to the particular Turn of our own Constitution; for what may be a necessary Step in one State, may prove to be the Destruction of another; and therefore, most certainly, the bare Example of the Swedes ought not to influence us to take so extraordinary a Resolution, unless the Nature of our own Constitution would justify it: If Gentlemen reason only from the Example of the Swedes, they may with the same Justice plead for a farther Introduction of their Laws; and as all foreign Affairs are transacted by their Senate, they may on the same Account expect, that the Management of all our foreign Negociations ought to be submitted solely to the Direction of this House; they may likewise pretend to transplant other Customs, prevalent in the Senate of Sweden, into our Parliament, which would quite alter the present Form of our Constitution, and introduce a new Species of Government into this Kingdom; for it is certain, that a King of Sweden has now hardly the Power of a Stadtholder of Holland, especially with Respect to the Officers of the Army; none of whom he can even create or promote, without the Consent of the Senate; their Government at present is, indeed, little more than a Commonwealth, so that few Things can be drawn from their Practice, as an Example fit for us to follow.
'Before I conclude, Sir, give me Leave to remind Gentlemen, that our Histories sufficiently teach us this Truth, that our Liberties and Constitution are never in greater Danger, than when any one of the Branches of our Legislature grasps at any Power or Authority, which hath, by the Wisdom of our Ancestors, been appropriated to another; and therefore, most certainly, an unwarrantable Attack upon the Prerogative of the Crown, which may, indeed, be intended to extend the Liberties of the People, is in Reality the readiest Way to bring them into Danger. I believe every impartial Person will acknowledge, that in our present happy Situation, we of this Nation enjoy as much Liberty as is consistent with that Subjection which is necessary for the Support of all Governments; and the surest Way to continue this particular Blessing to ourselves, and to perpetuate it to our Posterity, is to rest satisfy'd with what we enjoy, and not to hazard what we already have, by aiming to extend the Liberties of the People to a Degree, perhaps, we ourselves may be the first Persons shall be sensible of the Inconveniencies of: All Experiments, therefore, of reforming the Constitution, must be hazardous, unless where the Event is clear and undisputed: Tampering with the Laws, where our Liberties are concern'd, hath often proved of dangerous Consequence; and whenever we come to new modelling the Constitution in any essential Point, unless where an apparent Necessity requires it, 'tis impossible to tell how far the Spirit of Reformation will proceed.
'I beg Pardon for taking up so much of your Time: As I once had the Honour to be in the Service, and under a Gentleman, whose good Nature and Affability must ever demand the Esteem of all that know him, [Gen. Wade] and who is as little desirous of grasping at an unreasonable Power, as he is capable of misapplying that he is already trusted with, I flatter myself, that during the Time I was under his Command, I learn'd a little what the Nature of an Army is; and had I still been in the Service, so far from retiring upon this Question, as has been recommended to those in the Service, if Gentlemen would divide upon it, which I shall not believe they intend doing, 'till I see it done; I say, had I still been in the Service, I should have been equally strenuous against the Question; as it has always been my Opinion, that the surest way to depend on any Set of Men for their acting right, is not to give them an unnecessary Power or Temptation to do wrong.
'For these Reasons I think myself obliged to use my Endeavours, that neither this, nor any other Proposition of the like Nature, however popular they may at this or any other Time appear, shall ever meet with Encouragement from this House.'
Sir Thomas Robinson having done speaking, Mr Winnington stood up, and spoke against the Motion thus:
'I cannot let this Question go, without declaring my Abhorrence to the Motion that has been made to us: I really think it is the most monstrous Motion I ever heard made, since I had the Honour to fit in Parliament. Gentlemen say, an Army is no Part of our Constitution; but if the Proposition they have made should take Place, the whole of our Constitution would soon be at the Mercy of our Army. At present, the Officers of the Army depend upon the King for their Commissions, and the Army itself depends upon the Parliament for its Continuance, and for its Pay; but if you should once make the Officers of the Army independent of the Crown, if you should once give them a Sort of Freehold in their Commissions, they would soon make both King and Parliament depend upon them. If both King and Parliament should join in Opinion, and think it proper to make a Reduction of any Part of our Army, do you imagine that these Gentlemen, with their Swords in their Hands, would quietly lay them down, and retire to their respective Homes at our Desire? No, they would then tell you, our Commissions are for Life, they are our Freehold, a Law of your own making has made them so, and you shall not take them from us, unless we have been guilty of a Crime; if we have done any Wrong, let a Court Martial be called, let us be tryed in that Way which is by Law prescribed, and if we be found guilty, we will submit. This we may reasonably suppose would be the Language of those you had a mind to reduce, and in such a Case Gentlemen may easily guess what Redress the Nation could expect from a Court Martial.
'The Liberties of Rome were never destroyed, 'till their Army was made an Army for Life; and even this Country lost its Liberty by an Army: As soon as an Army was raised, and made independent of the Sovereign Power, they overturned the whole of our Constitution; they pulled a Predecessor of yours out of the Chair; and kick'd the Members out of Doors; and shall we establish such another Army? The Proposition is surprising. I would rather lie under any Imputation; than that of having made such a one to this House: I am sure it is very far from appearing to the noble Lord, who made it, in the same Light it does to me: I have, I think, a just Opinion of it; but if he had judged so, I am very well convinced he would never have offered it to this House. However since the Proposition has been made, and as every Gentleman is at Liberty to treat any Proposition according to that Light in which it appears to him, I must say, that I look upon the Motion as monstrous, absurd, and slavish, and therefore I am heartily against it.
'If I have spoke with too much Warmth, I beg Pardon: I hope it will be ascribed to my Zeal for our Constitution, and the present happy Establishment; and not to any Want of Respect for the Gentlemen, who seem to favour a Proposition, which appears to me in a Light so very different from that in which, I believe, it appears to them.'
Sir J. H. Bruce.
To this Speech of Mr Winnington's Sir John Hope Bruce, reply'd as follows:
'The honourable Gentleman over the way, I must say, has spoke with a great deal of more Warmth than Decency, and has treated the Soldiery, both antient and modern, in a Manner which I think both scandalous and unjust. That Gentleman spoke of the Roman Liberty, and pretended that the Loss of it was owing to their Army's being made an Army for Life: I can remember nothing, Sir, of an Army for Life at Rome: I do not remember that they ever had any such Regulation in their Armies even as this now proposed, which is very far from establishing an Army for Life: On the contrary, if they had had any such Regulation, I believe it would not have been in the Power of their Generals, or Emperors, to have modelled and garbled their Armies, so as to make them serve those vile Purposes, which they were made to serve.
'If the Gentleman will please to read over the Roman History with Attention, he will find, that the Loss of the Roman Liberty was, at first, more owing to Bribery and Corruption in their Elections, and in their Senate, than to their Army: It was by this Bribery and Corruption that all publick Virtue was destroyed in that Country; and when the Virtue of the Army, as well as the People, was destroyed, it became an easy Matter to make Tools of both, for the Support of arbitrary Power.
'I have had the Honour to serve in our own Army: I have likewise, Sir, served in foreign Armies, and I think I know a little of the Nature of both: From thence it is that I judge, that no Army will allow themselves to be turned against the Liberties of their Country, unless it be left in the Power of some ambitious Man to model them, so as to make them fit for his own wicked Purposes: It was this that made our Army, in the last Century, turn against the Parliament which had raised them; and the Army will always be dangerous, as long as any such Power is lodged in any one Man.
'I have the Honour, Sir, to be acquainted with many of the General Officers, as well as other Officers, in our own Army at present; I know their Worth and their Merit, and I shall never fear any thing from an Army under their Command and Direction: But if what has been once attempted should ever be attempted again, if our Army should be garbled, the Gentlemen who are now in Command turned out, and Fellows of mean Birth, or perhaps foreign Officers, put into their Places, we should have every thing to fear from such an Army, even though the Generality of the common Soldiers should continue to be made up of our own Countrymen.
'Upon this Occasion I cannot but take Notice, Sir, of what I read the other Day in a very judicious Author, who upon this very Subject lays, 'That any Minister who advises the King to dismiss a good Officer, who has long and faithfully served his King and Country, is guilty of the greatest and blackest Act of Treason against his Prince; and therefore, Sir, to prevent as much as possible the committing of any such Treason in time to come, I shall be for agreeing to the Proposition now before us.'
Mr H. Williams. ; General Wade.
Mr Hugh Williams spoke next against the Motion, and after him General Wade stood up, and spoke as follows.
'The Gentlemen of the Army are certainly very much obliged to the noble Lord, who made this Proposition; and I doubt not but every one of us would be for it, if we thought it were consistent with the Good of our Country. For as it is natural for all Men to desire to be independent, it is not to be doubted, but that the Officers of the Army desire it as much as any other Set of Men; but whether it may not be of dangerous Consequence to make so great an Alteration in our Constitution, is what principally weighs with me; and for my own Part, I shall always give up any private Advantage I may expect, rather than agree to any Measure, which may in the least endanger or hurt the Constitution, or the publick Interest of my Country.
'Since I have had the Honour, Sir, to sit in this House, I can say, that I have always acted with the same Freedom, as if I had no Commission, nor any Concern in the Army; and though I have generally joined in Opinion with those who were in the Administration, yet I have likewise upon many Occasions differed from them.
'I remember that when the famous South-Sea-Scheme was in Agitation in this House, though it was brought in by a Minister, and strongly supported by those who were then at the Head of the Administration, yet I had the Honour to be one of the 55 who divided against it. It is true, Sir, I had upon that Occasion Messages sent to me, and was threatned to be stripped of all my military Employments, but those Threats had no Weight with me; nor shall such Threats ever have any Weight with me in any Case where they come in Competition with my Duty as a Member of this House, with my Duty as an Officer of the Army, or with my Duty as a Subject of Great Britain: And, I hope, that this is the Resolution of every Man, who has the Honour to bear a Commission in the Army.'
'Gentlemen talk of Courts Martial, and of his Majesty's having the Power to name the Officers who are to be upon them: His Majesty has indeed the Power of granting Warrants for the holding of Courts Martial, as often, and in such Places as he shall please to appoint; I have myself a Warrant from his Majesty for holding Courts Martial in North Britain, where I have the Honour at present to command: But I never did, nor does his Majesty, ever name the Officers who are to be upon such Courts Martial. That Service being performed by a Roll, as other Parts of Duty are, I have often very great Difficulty to get a sufficient Number of Officers for holding those Courts Martial; for sometimes six or seven Captains, besides Subalterns, will be absent at one Time; and it is hardly possible now, in Time of Peace, to get them to attend their Duty, notwithstanding the great Power the Crown has over them: Since then they are at present so negligent of their Duty, would they not be much more so, if they could not be dismissed for Neglect of Duty, but by a Sentence of a Court Martial? If any of those Officers should be brought to be tried for Neglect of Duty, or any other such Crime, by a Court Martial, the Majority of which might perhaps consist of Officers, who had themselves been guilty of the same Fault, can Gentlemen imagine, that in such a Case any Officer would be broke, or any Way punished by a Sentence of that Court Martial?
'In short, Sir, the Discipline of our Army is already in a very bad Way, and I am afraid, if this Proposition should take Place, it would be intirely destroyed; for if this Proposition should pass into a Law, it would not only take away all Dependency upon the Crown, but it would destroy that Subordination of inferior Officers to their Superiors, which is absolutely necessary to be strictly kept up in all Armies; and without which, an Army would soon become an unruly Mob, instead of being a regular, and a well-disciplined Army; therefore, Sir, I cannot but be against the Proposition.'
Mr. Erle spoke next,
'As this Proposition must certainly tend to the Establishment of an Army, with too great and too independent a Power in itself, I must think it extreamly improper; and I must think that the honourable Gentleman, who spoke last, has very well and very justly observed, that it would destroy all Discipline in the Army, and would, I believe, introduce a general Licentiousness among the Officers; for there are many Irregularities an Officer may be guilty of, which could not well be brought before a Court Martial; and if they were, the Irregularity might be so general, that it would be hard to get such a Court Martial as would punish the Officer for a Crime, which perhaps every one of themselves might be guilty of. It is well known how many Complaints there are already, both against Officers and Soldiers, for Irregularities committed in their Quarters; even with all the Power which his Majesty now has over the Army, it is very hard for those to whom he entrusts the chief Care and Management of his Army, to keep the Officers and Soldiers to their Duty, and to prevent their being now and then guilty of some little Acts of Oppression in their Quarters; but if the Proposition now made should pass into a Law, it would render the Quartering of Soldiers most grievous to the People; one Officer would say, I have made my Quarters good, as they call it, another would do the same; this would encourage a third, a fourth, and so on, 'till the Practice became general; and if they were to be tryed and punished for this only by a Court Martial, can Gentlemen imagine, that they would not acquit one another? 'Tis true, Officers may have been removed without being guilty of any Crime; I was myself once removed, when I am sure they could not lay any Crime to my Charge; I was then sorry for it, but I was not for carrying my Resentment so far as on that Account to turn every thing topsy-turvy; yet there was at that Time more Ground for such a Proposition than there is at present; there has been no garbling or removing of any considerable Number of Officers, and therefore I cannot find out what could give Occasion for this Motion at this Time. Was not the great Duke of Marlborough, in the Midst of his glorious Success, removed from all Command in the Army? I believe no Man will accuse him of having ever been guilty of a Crime, or even of a Neglect of his Duty: Was not the Man who was put in his Place justly suspected of having Designs against the present happy Establishment? nay, so justly was he suspected, that when the late King came over he durst not stand his Tryal, but took Guilt upon himself, and fled from the Justice of the Nation; Yet upon that Occasion, there was no such Proposition as this made in Parliament. I cannot, with the honourable Gentleman who spoke last, think, that the Officers of the Army are much obliged to those Gentlemen who appear in Favour of this Proposition; on the contrary, I think, that it is entertaining a very bad Opinion at least of those Officers, who have the Honour of sitting in this House, to imagine, that they do not act with the same Integrity and Freedom that other Gentlemen do; I am sure I should not think, that any Man entertained a good Opinion of me, if he thought that I could be induced, either by Threats or Rewards, to act contrary to my Duty in this House. There is not the least Ground for suspecting any such Thing of any Gentleman of the Army who sits in this House, and therefore, I am not only against the Motion, but I hope that it will betreated in such a Manner as may prevent its being ever renewed in this House.'
To this Mr. Pulteney reply'd;
'I cannot but observe the unhandsome Manner, in which some Gentlemen have treated the Motion now in your Hand, and the hard Names they have given it, such as monstrous, absurd, slavish, and the like: I am sure, neither the noble Lord who made the Motion, nor any of those Gentlemen who have spoke in Support of it, can, from their Conduct in this House, or in any other Part of Life, from the Families they are come of, or the large Properties they possess, be the least suspected of entertaining any Notions of Slavery, or of making any Motion in this House for destroying any Part, far less for undermining the whole of our Constitution: I will avoid retorting those Names, or saying any Thing that may give Offence, tho' I am sure I may do it with far more Justice upon those Gentlemen, who have taken that Liberty with others. The honourable Gentleman behind me spoke of Officers making their Quarters good, which is a military Term I really do not understand; but I suppose it is doing something they ought not to do, and yet something, as that Gentleman seemed to insinuate, which they are so apt to do, that there is no preventing it without keeping them in a slavish Sort of Dependency. He told us, that he was himself once removed, and that he was very sorry for it: He was, 'tis true, once removed, and that he was sorry for it, I believe, no body will doubt; but I hope it was not for making his Quarters good; for tho' the Gentleman likes good Quarters, and knows as well when he is in such as any Man, yet I am convinced, that he is incapable of doing any Thing wrong, either for obtaining Quarters, or for making them good; He likewise told us of the Duke of Marlborough's having been removed; I believe no Man will say it was a right Step to remove that great General, but it has no Relation to the Question now before us; because, if I understood the noble Lord's Motion right, the Power of removing Generals from their Command, as Generals in the Army, is to remain in the Crown, as much unlimited as ever it was before; and it must be granted, that the Removal of that great Man, and the many Removals that followed, if they have any Relation to the present Question, are strong Arguments in its Favour; for, I believe, every Man who wished well to the Constitution, would have wished that such a Law had been in being at that Time; and indeed all the other Arguments I have heard against the Proposition, if I may be allow'd to call them so, are much stronger for it than against it.
'Gentlemen talk of invading the Prerogative, as if it were a most heinous Thing, to lessen, in any Respect, what they call the Prerogative; but this has been already answered by a worthy Gentleman; he justly said, that the Prerogative has been growing ever since the Revolution, and it is certain that it is daily gaining Ground both in this House and the other. The Power of the Crown, every Member of this House, as well as the other, ought always to be jealous of; for what by Creations and Translations, it may at last-grow so great, as entirely to overturn that Ballance upon which our Constitution depends. The Prerogative now in Dispute, is a Prerogative of very short Standing; even the Prerogative, as to the Militia, mentioned by an honourable Gentleman, has been assumed but of late Years; and tho' the Power of the King, as to the Militia, be very fully and explicitly declared in the two Acts that Gentleman was pleased to read to us, yet I hope, that neither he, nor his Friends, will recommend all the Proceedings of the Parliament in which those Acts passed, as proper Patterns for us to imitate; nor will he desire, that we should approve of every Thing that was done at that Time in Parliament: Besides, there is a very great Difference between the Officers of a Standing Army, and those of the Militia; the first is both an honourable and a beneficial Employment, the last is become of late Years not very honourable, and I am very sure it cannot by Law be made a beneficial Employment; so that the arbitrary Disposal of Commissions in the Army, may be of much more fatal Consequence to our Constitution, than the arbitrary Disposal of Commissions in the Militia. Gentlemen have asked us, Will you make the Officers of the Army Independent? Will you give them their Commissions in the Nature of a Freehold? No, by the Proposition now made to us, they are to depend upon the King and Parliament as much as ever they did before upon the King singly: His Majesty is still to have the Power of preferring them entirely lodged in him, and his Majesty, with the Assistance of either House of Parliament, is still to have the Power of removing any one, or any Number of them, without any Reason or Cause assigned: This is very far from making them independent; but suppose they were to be made independent both of King and Parliament, has the Parliament and People, supported by the King, more to dread from such an Army, than the Parliament and People have to dread from an ambitious King, supported by an Army made, by this Power of removing and preferring, entirely dependent upon himself alone? An Officer, who depends upon nothing but the Laws of his Country, is engaged in Interest, as well as Honour, to support those Laws as the Tenure by which he holds his Commission; but an Officer who depends entirely upon the absolute Will of one Man, be he King, or be he chief General, is a Tenant at Will, and is in Interest, at least, engaged to submit to the Will of his Lord in every Thing: It was this that made the Army so pernicious about the Middle of the last Century; they had become entirely dependent upon their General, and then their General made what Use of them he had a Mind; and it was a Neglect of this Maxim, which saved our Constitution towards the End of the same Century, because our King then began to break through the Constitution, before he had taken Care to make the Army entirely dependent upon himself alone: If that King had taken Care of the last before he had attempted the first, the Nation would now have been groaning under Popery, Slavery, and arbitrary Power; it was a most remarkable Fatality in the Counsels of our Oppressors, that saved the Nation at that Time; but if we do not, by our own Wisdom and our own Conduct, prevent it for the Future, we deserve the most heavy Chains that were ever laid upon any People.
'It is not intended, by the Proposition, to give the Officers a Freehold in their Commissions; but if it were, can it be said, it would be unjust? Have not many of them purchased their Commissions at a very high Price; perhaps with the whole of what they had in the World? And would itnot be the Heighth of Injustice, that such Gentlemen should be turned a drift, at the Pleasure of a Minister of State? Have not many of them bought their Commissions by long Services, much Blood-shed, and many Wounds? Is not this a Purchase much more honourable, than that of giving a few Guineas for a Piece of Land? And must the Officer be turned out of his only Subsistence to please a peevish Minister, whilst the Land-Purchaser, who perhaps robb'd his Country in order to purchase that Land, is protected by the Laws of his Country in the Possession of his ill-gotten Purchase? Is this Justice? Or is it a shewing of that Respect which is due to those who have boldly and faithfully served their Country? But there is this farther Hardship, the Officer who is turned out, not only loses his Bread, but his Honour may suffer into the Bargain; for if it is not very publickly known for what he was turned out, the malicious World may be apt to suspect, that he was discarded for some very heinous and dishonourable Crime. Some Gentlemen have already taken Notice, that there are a great many Officers of the Army who have now Seats in Parliament, and while they are allowed to sit in this, or in either House of Parliament, it is certainly to be wished, that they were put upon the same independent Footing with other Gentlemen: I do not in the least suspect the Virtue of those who at present have Seats in either House of Parliament: Their Virtue is, I find, what those who oppose the present Question would gladly lug into the Debate: But as neither their Virtue nor Honour has any Thing to do in the Question, I may freely say, that when Gentlemen either now, or hereafter, have their Whole at Stake, and see by the Example of others, the Danger of pretending to contradict an insolent Minister in any of the most wicked of his Measures, it is putting their Virtue to too great a Trial; it is more than human Frailty can well support; and I am sure he must be very little acquainted with the Nature of Mankind, who thinks that the Constitution, and the Happiness of his Country, may safely depend upon the Event of such a Trial. The honourable Gentleman over the Way, who is in the Army, and who I am sure, has acted with as much Honour in this House as any Gentleman in it, has given us an unanswerable Argument in Favour of the Proposition now before us: He has told us, that when he opposed a Scheme, which he thought a pernicious Scheme, and which afterwards most effectually proved so, he was sent to and threatened with the Loss of all his Employments in the Army, because that Scheme was brought in and supported by a Minister: He had, 'tis true, Virtue to withstand those Threats; but it cannot be supposed that every Man has the same Virtue; and what he has now told us is an evident Demonstration, that this pretended Prerogative of removing Officers at Pleasure, may by a Minister be made use of to obtain the Approbation of Parliament to the most destructive Schemes he can invent.
'We know that the late King William was once applied to by some of his Ministers, to remove an Officer of his Army, because of a Vote he had given in this House: But that Prince, like a great and a wise King, answered, 'I suppose the Gentleman voted according to what appeared just and right to him at that Time; I know him to be a brave and a good Officer, and one who has always done his Duty in his military-Capacity; I have nothing to do with his Behaviour in-Parliament, and therefore I will not remove him from his Command in the Army.' His late Majesty was so sensible of the Necessity of what is now proposed, that he approved of a Bill of this very Nature; the Bill was actually drawn up, and was to have been brought into the other House by the late Earl Stanhope: This I know to be true, I do not know how it was prevented, but I know that his late Majesty chearfully gave his Consent for the bringing it into Parliament.
'The honourable Gentleman who spoke last said, that those Gentlemen who are for the present Question used the Officers ill, but I leave it to the impartial World, I leave it to the Officers themselves, to judge which Side uses them worst: Those who say they ought to be secured against the Resentment of a tyrannical Minister, or those who tell us, you are to expect no Justice from Officers sitting in a Court Martial, notwithstanding their being sworn to do the same Justice, and to try with the same Impartiality, that Judges and Juries ought, and are supposed to do: You are not to trust to Officers, they will certainly combine together, and destroy your Constitution; there is nothing can keep 'em honest or faithful to their Country, but keeping them in a slavish Dependence upon the Crown. Has not this been the whole Language of those, who have hitherto opposed this Question? And I do not doubt but the Officers of the Army will judge of the Argument as they ought to do. I have spoke much earlier in this Debate than I intended, and I must say, that I had but very little Room from any Thing that has been said against the Proposition, to have taken up so much of your Time; but I find some Gentlemen do not incline to speak to the Question; however, if they do not, if no better Reasons be given against it than what have been already given, I am persuaded the Fate of the Question must be very different from what they expect.'
Mr H. Pelham.
Mr. Henry Pelham spoke next as follows;
'I have attended closely to what has been said both for and against the Proposition now before us, and I think the Debate is now reduced to this single Point, Whether, by what is now proposed, our Constitution may be mended and made better, or whether it may not rather tend to hurt and injure our Constitution? The latter, is my Opinion, and I am convinced it appears in the same Light to every one of the Gentlemen, who before me have spoken against the Motion I do not approve of hard Names, or any Names that are indecent, to this or any other Proposition made in this House; but as those Liberties have often been taken, by the Gentlemen who now find Fault with what has been said, it may be supposed that other Gentleman think they have the same Liberty, and may resort those Names, when they think the Proposition deserves them however upon all such Occasions, at least upon the present, nothing is meant personally against any of the Gentlemen who have spoken in Favour of the Proposition. Gentlemen have said, that the Prerogative is a growing Part of our Constitution; but I cannot really see wherein the Prerogative of the Crown is greater now, than at any Time since the Revolution; not can I see what should give this Alarm, or what should make it necessary now to clip and pare the Prerogative of the Crown, unless Gentlemen have some Scheme for greatly, or perhaps totally altering our Constitution; and if they have, I am sure they can shew us no Manner of Reason for our attempting at present to make any such dangerous Experiment. Suppose his Majesty has thought fit to remove one or two Gentlemen from their Employments in the Army, can that be looked on, as a suffeient Reason from taking from his Majesty that Power he and his Predecessors have always enjoy'd? The very Attempting such a thing looks as if Gentlemen thought some very wrong and wicked Use, has been lately made of that Part of the Prerogative, which, in the present Case, they have not the least Ground forThe Worth and Honour of the two noble Persons who have been removed, must be acknowledged by all; but, worthy as they are, it must certainly be granted, that they have been succeeded by two Gentlemen of equal Worth; and sure this cannot be called garbling or modelling the Army; for the Army can never be said to be garbled or modelled, but when the most worthy and honourable are dismissed, and Creatures of mean Birth, or of no Worth put into their Places. It is true, there were a great many Officers removed at the Time that the Duke of Marlborough was removed, and without the Power of removing the inferior Officers, they had not perhaps venoured to have removed that great General from his Command. Such a Law, as now proposed, might have been of some Service at that Time, but it would have been of bad Consequence soon after. We know what were thought to be the Views and Designs, when the Duke of Malborough was removed; we know, that he was sucoeeded by a Person, whom I did indeed esteem for his personal Qualifications, but his political Views had, at that Time, very near ruined our Constitution and have since upon some Occasions greatly endangered it; and if none of the Officers of the Army, who were upon that Occasion put in or continued in Commission, could have been removed but by the Sentence of a Court Martial, I doubt much, if this House had been now sitting to give their Opinion upon this or any other Question.
'An honourable Gentleman on the Floor, who spoke some Time ago, happened to drop some Expressions, which I am sure were owing to his Warmth; he spoke of Foreign Officers, and insinuated as if they might happen to be put into the Places of those, who may hereafter be removed. Every Gentleman surely knows, that this would be directly contrary to Law; and no Man can say, that there has been any Thing done or attempted, that can give the least Ground for apprehending any such Thing in Time to come: It was indeed an indecent and an ugly Insinuation; I wish the Gentleman had spared it; but as I am convinced that it was entirely owing to Warmth, I shall take no farther Notice of it. I did really think it unnecessary to have given you any Trouble in this Debate, since other Gentlemen before me have given sufficient Reasons for not agreeing to this Motion, and have answered every Thing said in Favour of it; but the honourable Gentleman, who spoke last, seemed so mighty desirous, that Gentlemen would speak against what he and his Friends seem to be for, that I rose up rather to gratify him, than that I thought any Thing necessary to be added to what had before been said against this Proposition; and therefore I shall take up no more of your Time, but leave the Proposition to stand or fall by its own Merits.'
Then Sir William Wyndham stood up and said,
Sir W. Wyndham.
'The Gentlemen, who have been pleased to speak against this Proposition, have all of them asserted, that, should it take place, it would alter the very Being of our Constitution; from whence we must conclude, that these Gentlemen think, that the very Being of our Constitution consists, not only in having a Standing Army, but it consists also in having that Army absolutely and entirely dependent on the Crown; which is an Opinion so directly contrary to that which every Man ought to have about our Constitution, that I am sorry to hear of its being entertained by any Gentleman, who has the Honour of being a Member of this House. I wish those Gentlemen would consider a little better the Nature and the Being of our Constitution, and the many Alterations that have from Time to Time crept into it; if they do they will find no greater Novelty, nor can they find one more dangerous, than that of a Standing Army. It is not as yet, I hope, a Part of our Constitution, and therefore, what is now proposed cannot be an Alteration of our Constitution; it is indeed so far otherwise, that the very Design of it is to prevent our Constitution's being altered, by a Standing Army's being hereafter made a Part of it; or at least to make that Army less dangerous, in case it should become absolutely necessary for us always to keep up a Standing Army. We have likewise been told, that the Prerogative is a Part of our Constitution, and the lessening the Power of the Crown, or robbing the Crown of its Prerogative, as Gentlemen have been pleased to call it, is an Alteration of our Constitution. For my own Part, I have no Notion of any legal Power or Prerogative, but what is for the Benefit of the Community; nor do I think, that any Power can be legal, but what is originally derived from the Community; and it is certain, that all the Power that is, or can be given by the People, must be given for their own Protection and Defence: Therefore, if the People should afterwards find that they have given too much, if they should begin to foresee, that the Power they have given may come to be of dangerous Consequence to themselves; have not they Reason, have not they a Right, to take back what Part of it they think necessary for their own Safety? This is the proper Footing, upon which the present Debate ought to be put; and taking it upon this Footing, suppose, that this Power of removing the Officers of the Army were a Part of the ancient Prerogative of the Crown; if the Parliament should foresee, that this Power might be made a bad Use of; that it might easily be turned towards enslaving the People, would not the People have a Right to take it from the Crown? would it not be their Duty to do so? nay, ought not the Crown willingly and freely to give it up?
'Gentlemen have next endeavoured to frighten us with the Effects of this Proposition, should it be passed into a Law: They say we should soon see what such an Independence in the Army would turn to; but, for God's Sake, is not the Army to be still as much dependent upon King and Parliament, as ever they were before? If it should be but suspected, that any Officer, or any Number of Officers, were going to attempt any Thing against King and Parliament, could not the King immediately suspend them, or even put them under Arrest? and could not the Parliament, as soon as they met, address his Majesty to remove them? Upon this Occasion, I shall beg Leave to state the Difference of the two Cases: In the one Case, an Army entirely dependent on the Crown, so much at the Mercy of the Crown, that, let the Merit of those Gentlemen in their military Capacity be never so great; let their Fidelity to their King and Country be never so conspicuous; let their past Services be never so meritorious; yet, if they do not implicitly obey all the Orders they shall receive from the Crown, or rather from the favourite Minister of the Crown; if they do not submit to propagate the most slavish Schemes of a projecting Minister, they may probably be turned out of their Employments in the Army; and thus, after having wore out their Youth and Vigour in the Service of their Country, they may at last, and in their Old Age, be turned adrift, and reduced to a starving Condition. In the other Case, an Army under no such servile Dependence, having no Reason to doubt of Preserment according to their Merit, and certain they could not be turned out of the Places they have purchased by their long Services, without being guilty of some Crime, or of dishonourable Behaviour; and having the Constitution, and the Laws of their Country, as a Security for their enjoying all those Advantages as long as they live; is it not, an easy Matter to determine, in which of these Cases an Army may be of most Danger, or of most Service, to the Constitution of this Country.
'I will allow all that has been said about the Virtue of those, who are at present the Officers of our Army; about their being Englishmen, and every Thing else, that has been said, or can be said, in Favour of the Characters of those Gentlemen; but still they are Men, and every Body knows, that those who have a Dependence, perhaps for the whole they have in the World, must be something more than Men, if they act with the same Freedom, that they would do if they were under no such Influence or Dependence: It is certain; I hope the Gentlemen of the other Side of the Question, even those Gentlemen who now stand up so zealously for the Prerogative, will grant, that ours is a limited Monarchy: Our Constitution depends upon its not being in the Power of the Crown, to break thro' those Limits which are prescribed by Law, or to manage so as to render them quite ineffectual; for when either of these comes to be the Case, our Constitution will be at an End; the Monarchy can no longer be said to be limited, any more than a Man can be said to be under any Restraint, who, tho' lock'd up in a Room, has the Keys in his Pocket, and may open the Doors when he pleases, or has proper Materials at hand, and may break the Doors open, and walk out whenever he has a Mind. We are therefore never to give a Power to the Crown; we ought not to leave the Crown in the Possession of a Power, which may enable any future King to shake off all those Limitations, which the Royal Power ought by our Constitution to be subject to: And in this View I leave it to every Gentleman to consider, whether a Standing Army, under the present Ciroumstances, or under the Regulations now proposed, does portend most Danger to our Constitution? For my own Part, I think the Case so plain, I think the Dangers pretended, from what is now proposed, so chimerical, that I am surprized to hear the Motion opposed by any Gentleman, who pretends to have the Liberties, or the Happiness of his Country truly at Heart.
'But in particular, I must at present observe, that if no Notice should be taken of what has lately happened; if no such Provision, as is intended by the Bill now moved for, should be made, and we should enter into a War, as is now likely we may be obliged to do, what Encouragement can young Gentlemen of noble and ancient Families have to go into the Army; when they consider, that after having often ventured their Lives in the Service of their Country, after having honourably acquired some Preferment in the Army, and afterwards, by a natural and Family-Interest, are come to have Seats in Parliament, they must then be obliged to forfeit all those Preserments they have so honourably acquired, or otherwise to make themselves Prostitutes to an infamous and wicked Administration? After this melancholy Consideration, can it be presumed, that any Gentleman of Honour will engage with that Alacrity in the Army, as he would do, if he were assured of preserving and enjoying whatever Posts he may have in the Army, with the same Honour and Integrity, with which he acquired them? This makes it more particularly necessary at present to agree to the Proposition now made to us; and as I think it makes no Encroachment upon our Constitution, but is, upon the contrary, a very necessary Amendment; as I think it for the Honour of Parliament, and no way inconsistent with the Honour or Safety of the Crown, I shall therefore most heartily agree to it.'
Sir W. Yonge.
Sir William Yonge spoke next:
'It is said, I remember, in a printed Paper which I read lately, that the Revolution had not brought our Constitution to that Perfection which it ought to have done; but that some Amendments were still wanting, and seemed to be absolutely necessary. I was indeed at some Loss to think what the Amendments could possible be, which those reforming Genius's pointed at, but now the Secret is in some part out; for the Proposition now in Debate I verily believe to be one of those necessary Amendments they thought of; but the Gentlemen, who have spoke before me, have sufficiently proved, that this Amendment would be so far from improving our Constitution, or rendering it more secure, that it would in a great Measure entirely destroy it: And if the other Amendments, their Wisdoms have projected, be of the same Nature with this, I am afraid the People of England will not think themselves much obliged to them, for projecting such Amendments. We know, that the People of this Nation have generally been divided into Parties, and that Party which I have always been proud to reckon myself one of, has generally, tho' very wrongfully, been called the Republican Party; but if I, or any other Gentleman in this House, who has the Honour of being reputed a Whigg, should come into this Proposition, we should justly deserve that Name, which those of another Party have always given us by way of Reproach; for it is certain, that, if this Proposition should take Place, our chief Magistrate could not properly be called a King; he would not have so much Power left him, as the Stadtholder of the Republick of Holland has always enjoyed. The honourable Gentleman, who spoke last, insisted much upon the Danger of an Army depending upon the Crown, and talked of turning Officers adrist, and reducing them to a starving Condition; but let us consult our Histories, and see whether an Army depending upon the Crown, or one depending upon the Parliament, has done most Harm to our Constitution: We shall there see, that an Army of the latter Kind was so far from improving, or doing Good to our Constitution, that they very quickly overturned it; they soon brought the King from the Throne to the Scaffold; they turned both Lords and Commons out of Doors, and then set up a most arbitrary Government of their own: Whereas an Army of the first Kind has often preserved the Constitution; an Army much more dependent upon the Crown, than our Army is at present, was, we know, so far from supporting the Crown in Attempts against the Liberties of the People, that most of the Army joined with the People in vindicating their Liberties, even against a King upon whom they had a most absolute Dependence; and while our Army consists only of our own Countrymen, and is commanded by Gentlemen of good Families and Fortunes in the Kingdom, we may always expect from them the same honourable Behaviour. As for turning Officers adrist, and reducing them to a starving Condition, it is certain that no such Thing can ever happen to any Officer that is a Member of this House, let him vote or behave in this House in what ever Manner he will; for his very Qualification, the Estate he must have in his own Right and Possession, in order to qualify him sor having a Seat in Parliament, will always be sufficient to afford him a comfortable Subsistence; so that if he has any Honour or Regard to his Country, the Fear of being turned out of his Post in the Army can never prevail upon him to give a Vote in this House contrary to what he thinks right. And if we can suppose that any Officer, who is now, or ever may be in this House, has neither Honour nor Regard to his Country, with such a Man the Hopes of Preferment will work as effectually, as the Fear of extreme Necessity can be supposed to work with any Man of common Honour; but as no such Thing can, in my Opinion, be supposed, we have no Occasion to give ourselves any Trouble, much less to run ourselves into evident Dangers, in order to provide against it. In short, I see no Necessity for our making such an Alteration in our Constitution; I can see no Cause for our making such an Attack upon the Prerogative; it may be productive of great Mischiefs, but cannot produce any Good. And as for using the Officers ill, the Gentlemen of the Army, who are now in the House, are themselves the best Judges by which Side of the Question they are worst used; and their Way of Voting upon this Question will be the best Proof of their Judgment in that particular: As for my own part, I really think the Proposition so unreasonable, and so inconsistent with the Principles, even of those Gentlemen who support it, that I did not at first believe it could have bore so long a Debate.'
Sir Thomas Saunderson spoke next for the Motion; Lord Glenorchy against it; Sir John Barnard for it; Col. Mordaunt and Mr. Duncan Forbes against it: Then Sir Robert Walpole spoke against the Motion as follows.
Sir R. Walpole.
'When I first heard that such a Motion, as what is now before us, was to be made to this House, I consider'd with myself, what it was that had given Occasion for Gentlemen's thinking of making such an Innovation in our Constitution, what View or Design they had, and what Form of Government they aim'd at; as to all which Particulars I found myself entirely at a Loss. We have heard of Monarchies, Aristocracies, Democracies, of Oligarchies and Anarchies; but should this Proposition take Place, I am persuaded, the Government of this Country would soon become what may be call'd a Stratocracy, an Army-Government, which is a Sort of Government was never yet establish'd in any Country; and such a Government as, I believe, no Man in this Nation would be fond of: I shall not run out in Compliments to the Gentlemen of the Army, but I hope those Gentlemen will not take it amiss, if I say, that I do not desire to give up our present Form of Government, in order to come under their Government.
'As for Trials by Martial Law, I believe no Gentleman will dispute, but that they have hitherto been very just and impartial; but if the Officers should be once made independent of all other Power, we do not know what those Trials might turn to: I neither can, nor shall say any Thing to reflect upon the Gentlemen who are Judges in such Trials, but we must all allow, that the Nature of Mankind is such, that every one has an Attachment to, and a Byass in Favour of those he looks on to be of the same Body with himself, Merchants, Lawyers, even the meanest Sort of Tradesmen shew a Partiality in Favour of one another; and why we should look upon the Officers of the Army to be less liable to those natural Partialities than any other Set of Men, I cannot really see any Reason for; therefore I am apt to believe, that if this Proposition should be once pass'd into a Law, it would not be possible to remove any Officer from his Commission by the Sentence of a Court-Martial, as long as he preserved a Character and an Interest in the Army, which of course would encourage them in the boldest Attempts, against the Constitution and the Government of their Country.
'Gentlemen have told us, that Generals are still to be removeable by the King at Pleasure, and that all other Officers are still to be removeable by his Majesty and the Parliament; but I believe it will be granted, that though the King should most evidently see a very just Cause for removing a General Officer, he might not find it safe to do so, without removing at the same Time a great Number of inferior Officers, whom he knew to be Dependent upon that General, and perhaps associated with him in the same wicked Designs: And it Officers were made secure of their Commissions for Life, it would add so much Weight to their Interest through the whole Kingdom, that they might soon get such an Influence in both Houses of Parliament, as would make it impossible to procure an Address from either House, for the Removal of any of them; besides, the very calling of the Parliament together, which cannot be done suddenly, would give the Alarm to those Officers who might be engaged in a Conspiracy for seizing the Government into their own Hands, whereby they would have an Opportunity of carrying their Designs into Execution, before the Government could by any Means prevent them.
'Thus we should be in continual Danger of falling entirely under the Government of our Army, and I am sure there is nothing has of late happen'd, that can give Occasion for our running ourselves into any such Danger. What tho' his Majesty has lately thought fit to remove two Gentlemen from their Commands in the Army: Can the removing of two Gentlemen only, in a Course of so many Years, be call'd modelling or garbling the Army? Can it be said, that the Gentlemen who have succeeded them, are not Men of as good Families, of as great Estates, and of as untainted Characters, as any Gentlemen in the Kingdom? Surely, this cannot be call'd garbling, which, as has been already said, must imply the Removal of the most Worthy, and putting the most Unworthy into their Places; and this, I am convinced, the angriest Man in this House will not pretend to be the Case at present.
'It is certain, there never were any Removals made, but what occasioned various Speculations, when the Reasons why they were made were not publickly known; In such Cases, every Man who is ignorant of the true Reason, is apt to assign some Reasons of his own Invention; but of all the Removals that I have ever heard of, whatever Talk they might occasion without Doors, there never was any of them that occasion'd any Proposition or Motion in this House; no Pretence was ever taken from any such, to rob the Crown of its Prerogative, or to alter our Constitution in any Part. Even when the great Duke of Marlborough was removed, there was no such Proposition as this ever thought on: The Removal of that great Man I remember well; and I remember too the Arts, that were used by his Enemies, first, to procure, and then to justify his Removal. What Gentlemen would do by the Bill now proposed, was the very Crime pretended to be laid to his Charge: It was pretended, that he was contriving how to get himself made General for Life: That he was become too great for his Mistress; and had thrown of all Dependence on the Crown: That he aim'd at being made perpetual Dictator; and to give some Sort of Colour for the spreading of this Calumny, I remember, that a certain zealous Gentleman of those Days, sent a large Present to Mr. Booth, and told him, it was for the Part he acted in the Tragedy of Cato, against the perpetual Dictator. This shews, that it was then look'd on as a great Crime for an Officer to endeavour to be independent of the Crown; and why it should now appear in a Light so different, as to make People think it necessary to make a Law for that very Purpose, I cannot imagine.
'We know that great Endeavours have been of late used, to make it be believed abroad, that this is a divided Nation, that the People are disaffected: Hitherto all such Endeavours have had but very little Effect; but if this Proposition should pass into a Law, will not Foreigners have Reason to believe what they have heard? They cannot imagine, that the removing two Colonels of Regiments, could have produced such a Law, but will naturally say, what we have heard we see now to be true, the Parliament has no Confidence in the King, and therefore they have taken from him that Power which all his Predecessors enjoy'd. Is this, Sir, an Opinion which we ought at any Time to encourage or promote among our Neighbours abroad, but especially at present. when a just Opinion of the Unanimity and Strength of this Nation may be so necessary for preserving a just Ballance of Power in Europe, and consequently, the very Being of this Nation.
'In short, the Regulation now proposed can produce no Good, it may produce a Multitude of Mischiefs, and therefore I think we should all say, upon this Occasion, Nolumus Leges Angliæ mutari.'
Lord Catherlogh spoke next:
'I cannot but say, that the Officers of the Army are very much obliged to the Gentlemen, who are for agreeing to the Proposition now before you; but I look upon it as a certain Maxim, that no Man can be a proper Judge in his own Cause, and as I have the Honour to be in the Army, I look upon myself as a Party concerned, and therefore I think can neither in Honour nor Conscience offer to give my Vote upon the Question.
Then the Question was put upon the Motion, and carried in the Negative, without a Division.
After this Mr Sandys stood up and spoke as follows:
Mr Sandys moves for an Address to the King, to know who advis'd his Majesty to remove the Duke of Bolton and Ld. Cooham from their Regiments. ; Debate thereon.
'What gave Rise to the Proposition last before you, I believe most Gentlemen in this House may easily guess; it was often mention'd in the last Debate: And as in the Course of that Debate, no Gentleman pretended to justify what has lately happened, I have a Question in my Hand which I hope will meet with no Opposition, and therefore, I shall take the Liberty to move, That an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, humbly to desire his Majesty, that he will be graciously pleased to inform this House, by whose Advice it was, that his Majesty was pleased to discharge his Grace, Charles Duke of Bolton, and the Right honourable Richard, Lord Viscount Cobham, from the Regiments lately under their several Commands, and what Crimes were alledged against them, which were the Occasion thereof.'
This Motion was seconded by Mr. Pulteney thus:
'I stand up, to second the Motion made by my worthy Friend, which, I hope, will meet with much better Success than the last Motion we had before us: The last, indeed; was call'd, by some Gentlemen, an Attack upon the Prerogative, an Affront to the Crown, and a great many other hard Names, which I thought it very little deserved; but I am sure there cannot be the least Colour of Reason for making such Objections, or for giving such Names to the Motion now made to you: On the contrary, it is shewing a great Tenderness and a most dutiful Respect to his Majesty: The Removal of those two noble Lords from their Commands in the Army, was what no Gentleman in the late Debate so much as endeavoured to excuse; most seemed rather to condemn, and all the World without Doors had, we know, before condemned it. Since then the Removal of those two noble Lords is look'd on to be a wrong Step, and since his Majesty cannot by Law be supposed to do any Wrong, we ought therefore, in Duty to the Crown, to present such an Address as is now proposed to us, that his Majesty may be freed from the Suspicion of doing any Thing that is wrong; that the wicked Person who advised it may be pointed out to the World, and that the Reproach of such a Measure may fall where it ought.
'If ever it should happen to be the Case of this Nation, that a Minister grown insolent in Power, should dare to tell his Master, if you do not dismiss such a Man, or such another, I must abandon you, I can no longer support your Government; and by such Language should prevail on him to dismiss some of his most faithful Servants, only because they had honourably opposed some wicked Attempt upon the Liberties of their Country: I say, if ever any one Minister, who solely engrossed the Ear of his Master, should arrive at such an Insolence in Power, the King would no longer be the first Man, he would be the first Slave in the Nation; and in such a Case would it not be the Duty of Parliament? Would not they be bound in Duty both to their Country and King, to desire to know who it was that advised such Measures? And what were the Reasons for taking such? This is not, I hope, the Case at present, but as the Removing of those two noble Lords has been condemned by the whole Nation, it is sufficient for justifying us in the Application now proposed: Let us know who gave the Advice; it was a wicked one, and the Wickedness of it will be still more apparent, if it shall appear, that those who gave it dare not avow their Reasons for giving it.'
No Member rising up to oppose this Motion, but the Question being call'd for, Sir William Wyndham stood up, and spoke as follows:
'Whether or no there are any Gentlemen in the House against the Question, cannot, as yet, be determined; but if there are, I was in Hopes they would have stood up, and have given the House some Satisfaction as to their Reasons for being against a Question, which seems to be highly approved of by several Gentlemen in this House. What the Cause of their Silence may be, I shall not pretend to guess, but it seems we are to have no other Satisfaction from them, but only a Call for the Question.
'In my Opinion, the Affair now before us deserves a much more decent Treatment, if it were for no other Reason, but because the Names of two noble Lords are mentioned in the Question, both of whom have done great Services to their Country, but one in particular. As I do not mean to compliment the one, nor to depreciate the Services of the other, therefore I say they have both done great Services, though in different Capacities; but whoever remembers the late War, which was carried on so much to the Honour of this Nation, must remember how often honourable Mention was then made in our Gazettes of Sir Richard Temple: In most of the Accounts transmitted to us from Flanders, either of Battles or Sieges, his Name generally stood among the foremost in the List of those gallant Officers, who bravely ventured their Lives in the Service of their Country. And if we look upon his Behaviour in the Senate, it is as much to his Honour as his Service in the Field: In the last he has always acted as a good Officer and a brave Soldier, in the Defence of his Country; in the first he has always behaved as a faithful Subject and a good Counsellor to his King; and that such a Man should be one of the first to fall a Sacrifice to ministerial Resentment, is what must give a just Alarm to all the honest Part of Mankind: It is what principally gave Rise to this Day's Debate, and, in particular, to the Motion now before you, which I very much approve of, and if no Gentleman thinks fit to say any thing against it, I can hardly doubt of its being unanimously agreed to.'
Sir William Wyndham having done speaking, the Question was again call'd for, and being put, it was carried in the Negative by 252 against 193.