The History and Proceedings of the House of Commons: Volume 9, 1734-1737. Originally published by Chandler, London, 1742.
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Motion, in the Grand Committee on the supply, for granting 30,000 Men for the Sea-Service, for the Year 1735. ; Debate thereon.
February 7. The House being in a Grand Committee on the Supply, a Motion was made, That 30,000 Men be employ'd for the Sea-Service for the ensuing Year: But some Members declaring that they thought 20,000 Men sufficient, a great Debate ensued; and the Motion for 30,000 Men was supported by Sir Robert Walpole, Mr Horatio Walpole, and Mr Oglethorpe as follows:
'With respect to the Question now before us, I hope no Gentleman expects, that for his Satisfaction his Majesty should be obliged to disclose to this House all the Secrets of his Government, all the Negotiations he is now carrying on with foreign Powers, and all the private Informations he may have received, in relation to the Views and Designs of the several Powers now engaged in War: Nor can it be expected that his Majesty should now declare positively to us what he is resolved to do, in relation to his engaging or not engaging in the present War: If any such Thing could be done, I believe it would very soon put an End to the Question, but no such Thing has ever yet been practised, nor has this House ever thought such a Practice necessary, for inducing them to agree to any Demand made by the Crown, and I hope it never will. For if ever this should come to be thought necessary, it would lay this Nation under a very great Disadvantage; because it cannot be expected that what is once disclosed, in such a numerous Assembly, should continue long a Secret; from whence this Inconvenience would necessarily ensue, that foreign Powers might, at all Times, proceed with great Secrecy in their Measures, for the Destruction or Disturbance of this Nation, while we could do nothing to annoy our Enemies, nor even be provided for our own Defence, but in the most open and publick Manner. Nay, if our King should at any Time get Information of the Designs of our Enemies, he would be obliged to discover to this House, that is to say, he would be obliged to tell our Enemies, from whom he had that Information, and on such a Supposition 'tis certain no Information would ever be given to us; we could never know any Thing of the secret Designs of our Enemies, till the very Moment of their Execution; and therefore we must conclude, that such a Maxim in this House would be absolutely inconsistent with the Safety of our Country. For this Reason we must, in the present Case, and in all such Cases, take the Argument entirely from what appears in his Majesty's Speech, and from those publick Accounts, which are known to every Gentleman in the House. Upon this Footing, Sir, and upon none other, shall I presume to give my Reasons for agreeing to the Augmentation proposed; and, indeed, upon this Footing the Reasons are, in my Opinion, so evident and so strong, that there is no Occasion for inquiring into any Secrets, in order to find other Reasons for our agreeing to this Augmentation. From what has as yet appeared we are not, 'tis true, obliged to engage in the present War; for as the Motives, or at least the pretended Motives of the War, relate entirely to the Affair of Poland; and as that is an Affair in which the Interest of this Nation is no Way concerned, we are not obliged to engage in the War upon that Account: The Emperor has, indeed, called upon us for the Succours, which he pretends are stipulated by the Treaties subsisting between us; but as we are not, by any Treaty, engaged to support either one Party or the other in Poland, or to support his Imperial Majesty in his Views relating to that Kingdom, therefore we do not think ourselves obliged, by any Treaty subsisting between us, to furnish him with Succours in a War, which has been occasioned, as is pretended at least, meerly by the present Dispute about the Election of a King of Poland. If we were absolutely certain, that the Motives assigned were the real and the only Motives for the present War; if we had a full Assurance that the Parties engaged would carry their Views no farther, I should readily grant that there would have been no Occasion for our putting ourselves to any Expence, nor would there be now any Necessity for the Augmentation proposed; but this is what we neither could at the Beginning, nor can yet depend on. Foreign Courts may have secret Views which cannot be immediately discovered; but his Majesty, by offering to interpose his good Offices, has taken the most effectual Method for discovering the secret Views of all the Parties concerned; and if, by the Interposition of his good Offices he should discover, that either of the Parties engaged in War will accept of no reasonable Terms, we may from thence conclude, that the Affair of Poland was not the only and real Motive for the War; but that under that Pretence there was a Design formed to overturn the Balance of Power in Europe; in which Case we should be obliged, both in Honour and Interest, as well as by Treaty, not only to take a Share in the War, but to join with all our Force against that Party, who we found had formed such a Design.
'In the Formation of every Design for overturning the Balance of Power in Europe, the Party that forms it must not only have great Ambition, but, before he dares attempt to put it in Execution, he must have some Hopes of Success: The Ambition of our Neighbours, Sir, is what we cannot prevent, but we may, by proper Precautions seasonably taken, deprive them of all Hopes of Success; and by so doing we shall always prevent their attempting to put their Design in Execution. From this Maxim we may see the Wisdom of the Measures taken last Year: His Majesty did not find himself obliged to take any Share in the War, but as the Ambition of either of the Parties engaged might at last involve this Nation in the War; therefore he offer'd to interpose his good Offices for bringing about an Accommodation: Whatever might have been the Views of the Parties engaged at the Beginning of the War, yet upon seeing this Nation put itself in such a Posture of Defence, they all thought proper to drop any ambitious Views they might then entertain, by accepting of the good Offices his Majesty had offered: Their ready Compliance in this respect, can be attributed to nothing but the Preparations we made last Year, and the Powers that were granted by last Session of Parliament to his Majesty; for by these we deprived them of all Hopes of succeeding in any of their ambitious Views. It was this, Sir, that produced an Acceptance of the good Offices his Majesty had offered; and if we should slacken in our Measures, if we should discontinue our Preparations, it would render us despicable in the Eyes of all the Parties engaged in War, and would consequently disappoint the good Effects we have Reason to expect from that Acceptation. At the Beginning of last Session it was very well known, that the French were sitting out a large Squadron at Brest, and were providing Transports and a Land-Army to be sent along with that Squadron, under Prentence of relieving Dantzick. In such a Situation, Sir, I should have thought those, who had the Honour to advise the King, very imprudent, or very unfaithful Counsellors, if they had not advised him to put the Nation immediately into a State of Defence; for though it was probable, neither the French nor any other Power would attack us while we continue neutral, yet it is certain it was then, and always will be, very much the French Interest to have this Nation of its Side; and if they had then seen, or should upon any such Occasion see, that it would be easy to overturn our Government, by our not being sufficiently provided for Defence, and could, by overturning our Government, get Numbers of this Nation to join with them, it would then have been, and always will be, worth their while to make the Attempt; therefore, in order to preserve the Peace and Quiet of the Nation, we ought always to be upon our Guard, and ought to make some additional Provision for our Defence, when any of our Neighbours are sitting out large Squadrons, which may possibly be made use of to attack or invade this Nation. This, Sir, was the Reason, and this was then, I think, a sufficient Reason for his Majesty's desiring 20,000 Men the last Session of Parliament, for Sea Service; but from what has since happen'd, this Reason seems to have gathered a little more Weight; for tho' there was no particular Reason to suspect, that the French Squadron was designed against us, yet there was no other Place in the World for which it could be designed, except Dantzick; and whether it was designed for Dantzick, or not, it is certain it did not go to Dantzick; for we all know it continued at Brest the whole Summer.
'After the last Session of Parliament had agreed to the 20,000 Seamen desired by his Majesty, he had an Account, that besides the Squadron fitting out at Brest, both the French and the Spaniards had given Orders for fitting out all their Ships of War, lying in any of their Ports, from Toulon round to Brest; from whence his Majesty, with great Reason, thought it absolutely necessary to make a farther Addition to his Naval Force; for which Purpose he applied to his Parliament for a Power to do so; and in Pursuance of the Powers granted him upon that Application, he has since made an Addition of 7000 Men to the Sea Service, so that our present Naval Establishment consists of 27,000 Men; 7000 of which must be reduced, if we should agree to grant but 20,000 Seamen for the ensuing Year.
'Having thus, Sir, laid the present State of our Naval Force before you, let us consider the present State of the Affairs of Europe, the Circumstances our Neighbours are in, and the Circumstances we are in ourselves. As to the Affairs of Europe, it is certain they seem to be in no less dangerous State than they were last Year; his Majesty's good Offices are, indeed, accepted of, but that Acceptation has not as yet produced the wish'd for Effect, nor can it be expected it should, if his Majesty should appear to be less powerful when he comes to offer Terms of Peace, than he was when he made the Offer of his good Offices; we cannot therefore, from the present State of the Affairs of Europe, draw any Argument for diminishing our Naval Force. Then as to the Circumstances of our Neighbours, it is very certain, that not only all the Ships of War, fitted out either by the French or Spaniards, are continued in Commission; but both these Nations are with the utmost Application rebuilding and repairing every Ship of Force they have in their Dominions, and are besides building new Ships of War as fast as they can; from whence I think it is evident, that instead of making any Reduction of the Naval Force we had last Year, we ought to make some Addition, and the Addition proposed, which is properly but 3000 Men, is, in my Opinion, the least that can be thought of.
'This, Sir, must be thought still more reasonable, if we consider our own particular Circumstances, and the Difficulty there is of getting our Seamen together after they are once dispersed. In Countries where absolute and arbitrary Government prevails, they have all their Seamen registered, and they always know where they may find them when they have Occasion for them: Their Seamen, as well as all their other Subjects, are under a Sort of martial Discipline, they cannot absent themselves without a Furlough, and they must remain absent no longer than their Furlough gives them Leave; by which Means the Government always knows what Number they may depend on upon any Emergency. But in this happy Country, where every private Man enjoys his full Liberty, we cannot command our Seamen to stay at Home, nor can we call them Home when we have a Mind; for, notwithstanding the Difficulties which every one knows we found last Summer, to man the Fleet then fitted out, yet it was computed there were at least 11,000 British Sailors employed all last Summer, on Board of British Ships in the Service of Foreigners, either as Transports or as trading Ships. In this Country we never have any way of providing Sailors for our Fleet, upon any sudden Emergency, but by pressing those Seamen we find by Chance at Home, or upon our own Coasts; and this Method is always attended with so many Inconveniencies, that, in order to prevent our being at any Time reduced to that Necessity, every Man who has a due Regard to the Liberty and the Happiness of the Subject must agree, that we ought, upon every Occasion, to begin early to provide against any Danger we think we have Reason to apprehend.
'In all the Measures we have hitherto taken, relating to the present War, our ancient and natural Allies, the Dutch, have cordially joined with us in every Thing: They joined heartily with his Majesty, in offering their good Offices for composing the present unhappy Differences in Europe, and they have likewise joined with his Majesty in concerting a proper Plan for a Pacification. It may perhaps be insinuated, that they have put themselves to no Expence on account of the present War; but this is neither a just nor a true Insinuation; for it is very well known, that before this War broke out, they had resolved to have made a very considerable Reduction of their Land-Forces. Every one knows, that soon after the Peace of Utrecht they reduced their Army to 32,000 Men, and for several Years after they kept it at that Number; but upon a Change which happened in the Affairs of Europe, they augmented it again to 52,000 Men, and at that Time we likewise found it necessary to increase our Army to 26,000 Men. The War with which Europe was then threatened was happily prevented; and as soon as it was, we immediately began to reduce our Army; we reduced at first 5000, and soon after 3000, of the Number we had increased it to; but the Dutch made at that Time no Reduction; they never thought of making any Reduction till the very Year before the present War broke out; then indeed, a Resolution was actually taken in some of the Provinces to reduce 10,000, and that was soon to have been followed by the Reduction of another 10,000, in order to have brought their Army to its former Standard of 32,000 Men; and both these Reductions have been put off, meerly on account of the present War: So that, to speak properly, they have put themselves to the Expence of maintaining 20,000 Men ever since the War began; and therefore it is not to be wonder'd if they have made no Addition to their Fleet, especially if we consider, that they are in no Danger of being attacked by Sea, and the bad Condition their Navy happens to be in at present, which is occasioned by the vast Expence they were put to during the late War, in which they were obliged to maintain a much greater Number of Land-Forces than we maintained, and were farther obliged to be at the Expence of all the Sieges that were undertaken during the War.
'The Dutch, 'tis true, Sir, concluded a Treaty of Neutrality with France, with regard to the Austrian Netherlands; but it is not from thence to be concluded, that they are engaged in any Interest separate from us. They were no way concerned in the Affair of Poland, no more than we; if their Barrier was secured, and the Balance of Power not brought in any Danger, they had good Reason to think themselves no way concerned in the War; the first they provided for by their Treaty of Neutrality, and the last could be in no Danger, as long as the Parties engaged in War confined their Views to what they then publickly declared; but if either of them should begin to extend their Views, and thereby bring the Balance of Power into Danger, the Dutch would be then at Liberty, and would certainly do what was incumbent upon them in such a Conjuncture; and till that Conjuncture happens, we can have no more Concern in the War than they: Nay farther in the concluding of that Treaty of Neutrality, so careful were the Dutch to preserve to themselves a Liberty of doing afterwards what they should find proper; that by an express Provision in the Treaty, they have reserved to themselves a Power of sending the stipulated Succours to the Emperor, in case they should find it necessary so to do.
'Thus, Sir, it appears that the Dutch are so far from having fallen into any Measures separate from us, that they have continued a heavy Charge upon themselves, in order to be ready to join with us in any Measure that may hereafter appear necessary, for preserving the Balance of Power in Europe; and for that Reason, as well as a great many others, I think it is incumbent upon us to put ourselves in such a Condition, as may enable us to act that Part which Great Britain ought to undertake, in the glorious Cause of preserving and securing the Liberties of Europe.'
In Opposition to the above Motion, and to shew the Sufficiency of 20,000 Men for the Sea-Service, Sir John Barnard, Sir William Wyndham, Mr William Pulteney, Sir Joseph Jekyll, and Mr Willimot, Member for London, urged lowing Arguments.
'I believe it was never pretended to be laid down as a Maxim in this House, that, in order to induce us to agree to the Demands made by the Crown, the King was obliged to disclose to us all the Secrets of his Government; but when we are to lay heavy Taxes upon the People we represent, I must think some other Reasons ought to be given us than those we meet with in Publick Gazettes, and common News-Papers; such Accounts I shall always think below the Notice of a British House of Commons; but since we have at present none other before us, I shall condescend, or rather beg Leave, to argue from such Informations, as well as the Gentlemen who seem to differ from me in Opinion: However, I hope this Practice will not be drawn into Precedent, for I shall always think it inconsistent with the Honour of this House, and with the Duty we owe to our Constituents; we ought never to ground our Opinions upon any Informations, but such as we receive directly from the Throne, or such as are laid before us in the most solemn Manner; and if in any Case we ought to be cautious in this Respect, it ought surely to be in Matters, which may any way relate to the loading the Subject with Taxes.
'As no Account has been laid before us of any of our late Treaties or Negotiations; as we have had no Account how this Nation stands engaged, with Respect to either of the Parties now at War, it is certain, that the Argument now before us must be taken up intirely upon the Footing of his Majesty's Speech, and of those publick Accounts, which every Man knows who is a Member of any Coffee-house Club, as well as every Gentleman who has the Honour to be a Member of this House. If we look into his Majesty's Speech, we there find that he has not yet engaged himself any way but by his good Offices, for reconciling the Differences at present subsisting in Europe: From his Majesty's Speech it cannot therefore be pretended, that we are now in any greater Danger than we were last Year, unless these good Offices have been employed in such a blundering way, by those his Majesty has entrusted, as to make us Parties in the Dispute, which I hope no Man in the least suspects; and therefore, from his Majesty's Speech, there cannot be drawn any Show of an Argument for the Augmentation proposed.
'The Argument then, Sir, must rest wholly upon the Accounts we have from publick Gazettes and News-mongers; and if any Credit can be given to such Informations, I must now think, as indeed I have always thought, that 20,000 Seamen were more than sufficient for the Service of this Nation last Year; for, considering that those from whom we have any thing to fear by Sea, were then deeply engaged in War, it could not be supposed that they would insult or invade us, unless they had found that we were to have engaged against them. I shall grant, that is would have been very much for the Interest of France to have had this Nation join with them; but considering the great Standing Army we then had in Britain and Ireland, considering the Number of Ships we then had in Commission, and considering how generally well affected this Nation is to the present happy Establishment, can we suppose that France would have attempted to overturn our Government with a Squadron of 18 or 20 Men of War, and an Army of 4 or 5 Regiments; when by making such Attempt, and failing in it, they would have drawn the highest Resentment of this Nation upon themselves; and that at a Time when they were deeply engaged in War with another Power, and when without such a Provocation they had, in all Appearance, nothing to fear from this Nation? Apprehensions founded upon such odd Suppositions can never be wanting; and if this House should give way to such Apprehensions, we must never expect to be relieved from the Load of Debts and Taxes we now groan under.
'But, Sir, we had the last Year so little Reason to fear that France had any Design against us, that it was certain, their Fleet which was fitted out at Brest, was at first designed for the Relief of Dantzick, and would probably have sailed thither time enough to have prevented the Ruin of that trading Protestant City, if it had not been for our extraordinary, and, I think, unnecessary Armaments in Britain. The honourable Gentleman took Notice, that the Brest Fleet did not go to Dantzick, and seemed from thence to insinuate, that it was designed against this Country, if the Design had not been prevented by our Preparations; but it is very well known, that it was our Preparations that prevented that Fleet's sailing to Dantzick, as it was really designed; it is very well known, that Spain imagined our Fleet was designed for the Mediterranean, in order to prevent their Expedition against Naples and Sicily, and therefore they insisted upon it, that the French Fleet should remain at Brest, in order to watch the Motions of the Fleet we were fitting out. This, Sir, was, I believe, the true and the only Reason why that Fleet did not sail to the Relief of Dantzick; but this was not the only Effect of our voting 20,000 Men for Sea-Service: Neither France nor Spain could imagine, nor could they, I think, have any Reason to imagine, that we were putting ourselves to such a vast Expence, for no other End but to make a Show at Spithead or in the Downs; they both began very reasonably to suspect, that we had some Design against them; and, upon this Account they both began to add to their Naval Preparations: This again we find, increased our Jealousies and Fears, and produced that memorable Vote of Credit, with which the last Parliament, I may say, expired; and, in Pursuance of that Vote of Credit, we are now told, this Nation has been charged with maintaining 7000 idle Seamen, besides the 20,000 voted last Session of Parliament: Thus one unnecessary Expence produc'd another, and both are now join'd together, not only to be continu'd, but also to produce a third.
'However, Sir, though I am still of Opinion, that 20,000 Men was a Number much greater than was necessary for the Service of last Year, yet I shall not propose to lessen that Number for the Year ensuing; but I am really surprised to hear an Augmentation of one half of that Number called for, and that without his Majesty's having signified to us, either in his Speech or by a particular Message, that some Designs were hatching against this Nation in particular, or against the Liberties of Europe in general. His Majesty having made an Addition last Year of 7000 Men, by Virtue of the Powers granted to him last Session of Parliament, cannot be any Argument with me, as a Member of this House, for continuing that Number, unless his Majesty had been pleased to communicate his Reason for making that Addition: As his Majesty has not been pleased to do so, and as I am of Opinion that 20,000 was too great a Number, I must consequently be more strongly convinced that 27,000 was too great a Number; and as I cannot see that we are in any greater Danger this Year than we were the last, I must therefore be against loading my Constituents with maintaining that additional Number for the Year ensuing.
'It may be true, that the French and Spaniards have continued their Ships of War in Commission; but if we can rely upon publick News-Papers, and these, it seems, are the only Accounts we are to have, the French have dismissed all or most of the Seamen belonging to their Brest Squadron; and neither they nor the Spaniards are making any extraordinary Naval Preparations, nor are they fitting out any considerable Squadron at any Port in either of those Kingdoms; so that we have this Year really less Reason to apprehend any Danger by Sea, than we had the last; because it cannot now be said, that a foreign Squadron, with a Land-Army on Board, is to pass by our very Doors: They may perhaps have a little more Command over their Seamen than we have, tho' I cannot allow they have a great deal, considering our Method of Pressing; but it is not possible for both these Nations joined together, to fit out a Fleet, suddenly and privately, stronger than any we can send against it, as long as we have 20,000 Seamen in actual Service; for it is very well known that if a Man of War has two Thirds Sailors on Board, and another Third Land-Men, she is always sufficiently manned, either for Sailing or Fighting; so that from a hot Press among our Coasters, Colliers and Inland Trade, we could in a very few Days increase the Number of Men on Board our Ships of War to 40,000 at least, which is a greater Number than we ever had Occasion for during the last heavy War, 32,000 Seamen and 8000 Marines being the greatest Number that was ever provided in any one Year during that War.
'Whether the Motives for the present War relate entirely to the Affair of Poland, or whether we had any Concern in that Affair, is what I shall not, Sir, take upon me to determine; but I think it is pretty plain, that the Motives of the Kings of Spain and Sardinia could not any way relate to the Affair of Poland; their Motives certainly proceeded chiefly from some late Transactions between the Emperor and them, in which, I believe, we had some Concern: And even with respect to the Affair of Poland, if we give Credit to common Reports, which are the only Grounds of our present Debate, we had some Concern in that too; for it has been considently reported, that when Augustus, late King of Poland, was first taken ill, which was a Year or two before his Death, the French Court, with which we were then in very good Terms, desired to know of us, whom we inclined to have for Successor to Augustus, as King of Poland; that we did not then give them any positive Answer, but told them negatively, we did not incline that any German Prince should be raised to that Dignity; and that some Time after there were positive Instructions sent to our Minister in Poland, to co-operate with the French Minister, in bringing about the Election of King Stanislaus: This, Sir, is only a common Report, and therefore I shall not take upon me to aver the Truth of it; but as the Letters and Instructions sent upon that Occasion to our Minister in Poland, were moved for in last Parliament, tho' a Negative was then put upon it, I hope it will hereafter be complied with, in order to clear our Conduct from that Imputation.
'To deprive our Neighbours of all Hopes of Success in any of their ambitious Views, is, without doubt, the most effectual Way to prevent their forming any such, or at least their attempting to put them in Execution; but how is this to be done, Sir ? It is to be done by a wise and frugal Management of our Affairs in Times of no Danger, by avoiding all Occasions of needless Expence, and by reserving our whole Strength for the Day of real Danger: Our Ships of War may soon be fitted out, our Armies may soon be raised and brought into the Field, if we have but Money enough for these Purposes; but if we have thrown away our Money upon idle and unnecessary Armaments; if, by vain Fears and ridiculous Apprehensions, we have run ourselves in Debt, or neglected to clear those Mortgages our former Misfortunes had subjected us to, our ambitious Neighbours will look upon us with Contempt, and will certainly conclude, that it is not in our Power to put a Stop to their ambitious Designs. In this View, Sir, is it not evident, that the more Money we spend in unnecessary Armaments, and before the Danger calls upon us, the less able we shall be to deprive our Neighbours of the Hopes of Success in any of their ambitious Projects ? Neither this Nation nor the Liberties of Europe are, at present, in any apparent and immediate Danger, but a Time may come, a Conjuncture may happen, when we, and perhaps the greatest Part of the World, will be necessarily involved in a most dangerous and a most bloody War: If the present Emperor should die before the Affairs of Germany are fully settled, may not every Gentleman foresee what must be the Consequences ? The Princes of the Empire all tearing one another to Pieces, and every one of its Neighbours endeavouring to take hold of some Part of the Austrian Dominions: The Turks attacking it on one Side, the French attacking it on the other, and the Balance of Power in Danger of being lost, let whatever Side be the Conqueror. This, Sir, is an Event that may happen, I hope it never will, but as it is possible, we ought to provide against it; and for that Reason we ought not to exhaust the Money and the Strength of the Nation in needless Expeuces or unnecessary Equipments: Whereas we seem to be pursuing a quite contrary Measure. Tho' it be now, with respect to this Nation, a Time of profound Peace and Tranquility, yet I reckon our Expences for next Year will amount to three or four Millions, which is a most prodigious Expence, a greater Expence than the Nation was put to in any one Year of that heavy War in King William's Reign; for the Expences of that War never exceeded three Millions a Year: And even during the War in Queen Anne's Reign, that War which proved so glorious to this Nation, and so beneficial to every one of our Allies, there never was a greater Number of Seamen provided for by Parliament, than what is now proposed in a Time of profound Peace: For 30,000 Seamen, and 8000 Marines was, as I have already taken Notice, the greatest Number that was provided for by Parliament, in any one Year of that glorious and successful War.
'To pretend, Sir, that the Preparations we made last Year, or the Powers granted the last Session of Parliament to his Majesty, produced the Acceptation of our good Offices, is something very surprizing, especially when we consider what Sort of an Acceptation we have been favoured with: The Emperor has accepted of our good Offices under this express Provision, that his Acceptance should not be looked on as a passing from those Succours, which he insisted on we were obliged to furnish him, by the Treaties now subsisting between us: And the Allies have likewise made their Acceptation conditional; for they have accepted of our good Offices under this express Condition, that we should continue neutral, with respect to the present Disputes between them and the Emperor. Can it be imagined that warlike Preparations were necessary, or that extraordinary Powers granted by Parliament were necessary, for producing such limited Acceptations ? Can any Man doubt but that we should have obtained such an Acceptation of our good Offices, tho' no such Preparations had ever been made, tho' no such Powers had ever been granted ? But even supposing that this Acceptation was produced by the warlike Preparations we made last Year, must not every Man agree, that this conditional limited Acceptation has cost us a terrible Price, when he considers, that it has cost this Nation at least a Million Sterling: And if the Plan we are to offer, in Pursuance of this Acceptation, should at last be rejected, what Benefit, what Honour can we receive from the Expences we have put ourselves to ?
'For our Encouragement to go on with these peaceful Preparations, we are told, Sir, that the Dutch have joined cordially with us in all our Measures: This Assertion, Sir, I am surpriz'd at; it really amazes me. How far they have joined with us in the Tender of good Offices, or in concerting a Plan for a Pacification, I shall not pretend to determine: In this they may perhaps have complimented us a little, because it cost them nothing; and they may easily excuse themselves in case the Plan should prove disagreeable to either of the Parties concerned; but that they have put themselves to the same Expence we have done, or that they have put themselves to any Expence on account of the present War, cannot surely with any Justice be pretended. To tell us, that just before the War broke out, one, or perhaps two, of the seven united Provinces had come to a Resolution, to reduce 10,000 Men, and to conclude from thence that 20,000 would certainly have been reduced, if the War had not broke out, must appear to be a very extraordinary Sort of Reasoning to every Man who understands any Thing of the Constitution of that Republick: By their Constitution, every one of the seven Provinces must have consented, before that Resolution could have taken Effect; and tho' the Interior Provinces, who lie remote from Danger, were perhaps for that Reduction, yet the Frontier Provinces, whose only Defence against sudden Invasions consists in the Multitude of their fortified Towns, the Strength of their Fortifications, and the Numbers of Men in the several Garrisons, would never have consented to such a Reduction; so that the Resolution taken by one Province would probably have been of no Effect, even as to the 10,000; but to argue from thence, that they would certainly have reduced another 10,000, is really such Reasoning as I am amazed to hear in this House: It really looks as if some Gentlemen thought, we wanted only a Pretence for agreeing to what they have a Mind to propose!
''Tis true the Dutch did, immediately after the Peace of Utrecht, reduce their Army to about 32,000 Men; but at that Time they knew, that all the Kingdoms and States in Europe were sick of War; they could easily foresee, or at least they thought so, that there was not the least Danger of any Rupture for several Years to come; and therefore their Frontier Provinces then easily consented to that great Reduction: But considering the vast extensive Frontier they have to guard, and the Multitude of Garrisons they are obliged to keep in their own Frontier Towns, as well as in the BarrierTowns they have in the Austrian Netherlands, such a small Number of regular Troops is almost at all Times inconsistent with the Safety of their State; and moreover it is, and always was, inconsistent with, and contrary to, the Treaties and Alliances they have both with the Emperor and us. Accordingly, both the Emperor and we complained heavily at that Time of the great Reduction they had made; and this Nation in particular had like to have suffered by it; for upon the Rebellion, which broke out soon after in this Kingdom, it is well known that the Dutch could not send us the Quota of Troops which, upon that Occasion, they were obliged by Treaty to send us, 'till we got Troops marched down from Germany to replace their Troops, before a Man of them could stir out of the Garrison he belong'd to: Nay farther, Sir, it is very well known, that the Emperor, by Treaty, pays them yearly 5 or 600,000 Crowns out of the first and readiest of his Revenues in the Netherlands; in order to enable them to maintain their Barrier, and to keep at all Times a sufficient Body of Troops in their Service; so that if they should make any great Reduction in their Army, the Emperor would have very good Reason to stop the Payment of that Subsidy.
'Upon the Whole we must conclude, that if the Dutch had made any Reduction in their Army, and much more the two Reductions talked of by the honourable Gentleman, they would have acted contrary to the Treaties subsisting between them and their Allies, and inconsistently with the Safety of their Country; therefore we ought certainly to presume that all the seven Provinces would never have consented to it, tho' no War had broke out; and I am apt to believe the Resolution talked of, which was a Resolution of the Province of Holland only, was a Piece of meer Policy, without any Design that the Resolution should actually take Effect.
'Thus, Sir, I have, I think, made it evident, that the Dutch have put themselves to no Expence on account of the War, no, not even in the Sense the honourable Gentleman was pleased to insist on; and indeed they have not, of late, seemed to join cordially with us in any Thing but good Offices, which they are sure can neither put them to any Expence, nor do them any other Injury. Their Treaty of Neutrality, it is certain, they concerted and concluded without our Participation; and, I believe, without our Privity; and tho' they have reserved a Power of sending the stipulated Succours to the Emperor, yet that does not much alter the Case, if we consider what is meant by these Succours.
'The Succours there meant are those stipulated by the late Treaty of Vienna, in which we, 'tis true, got them named principal contracting Parties; but this to me seems to have been nothing but a poor Expedient, contrived by some of the Ministers concerned in that Negotiation, on Purpose to make the World believe, that we did nothing but in Concert with our ancient and natural Allies the Dutch: For in the negotiating and concluding of that Treaty, they were so far from acting cordially, or in Concert with us, that after we had gone at once over Head and Ears into tha Treaty; and had thereby obliged ourselves to guaranty the Pragmatick Sanction, totis viribus, it was with great Difficulty they were, after a long Negotiation, brought in to accede to that Treaty, tho' we had then a noble Lord at the Hague as our Minister, who was as able a Minister, and as good a Negotiator as any we ever had in any Part of Europe: And even at last they were very far from coming plumb into that Treaty or Guaranty; for the Succours they then stipulated were then limited to 4000 Foot and 1000 Horse, or a Number of Ships in Proportion to that Number of Troops, at their own Option; so that we may believe the French gave themselves very little Trouble about admitting that Reserve in the Treaty of Neutrality, afterwards concluded between them and the Dutch.
'Nay, farther, Sir, notwithstanding this limited Manner of the Dutch Accession to the Treaty of Vienna, yet so clearly did they foresee the Consequences of that Treaty; that the very next Day after the Accession was signed, their Pensionary came to that noble Lord, who was then, as I have said, our Minister at the Hague, and proposed to him, to enter with us into a Treaty of Neutrality, not only with respect to Flanders, but also with respect to several other Countries in Europe, about which Disputes might arise. And, I suppose, upon our neglecting or refusing that Proposition, they afterwards resolved upon the Treaty of Neutrality with France, and concluded it without letting us into the Secret. Thus, Sir, the Dutch have, in all their late Negotiations, taken particular Care of their own Security, without rashly disobliging any Power in Europe; whereas we, by our hasty and inconsiderate Conclusion of the Treaty of Hanover, and the Measures thereafter pursued, disobliged both the Emperor and Spain, without gaining one Advantage to ourselves. By the Treaty of Seville, by which we endeavoured to reconcile ourselves to Spain, we still farther disobliged the Emperor, without obtaining any Advantage to ourselves, or even Satisfaction from Spain for the Depredations committed upon us. And by the Treaty of Vienna we again disobliged Spain, and highly affronted France, still without obtaining any Advantage for this Nation, but on the contrary engaging in a very dangerous Guarantee: This, indeed, neither France nor any other Power had Reason to be angry at, but France had some Reason to be affronted at the Manner in which it was done; because by the Treaty of Hanover, in which France and we were the two principal contracting Parties, both were expresly obliged to enter into no Negotiation or Treaty, without communicating the same to the other.
'From what the honourable Gentleman said, about our having reduced 8000 Men out of the 26,000 our Army was increased to after the late famous Treaty of Hanover, he seems to think, that this Nation is always to be loaded with an Army of 18,000 at least, even in the Times of the greatest Tranquility. But I must beg his Pardon for observing, that in a Time of profound Tranquility, an Army of 7 or 8000 Men is not only sufficient, but as great as ought to be kept up in this Nation, if we have a Mind to preserve our Liberties; and therefore I must conclude, that if this War had not broke out, we should certainly have reduced 10,000 of our regular Troops last Year: For it is as much inconsistent with the Safety of this Nation to keep up more than 8000 in Time of Peace, as it is inconsistent with the Safety of the Dutch to keep less than 52,000; because we have no Frontier to defend, nor any Garrison to support: There can be no Reason assigned for our keeping up any greater Number in Time of Peace, unless it be to support a hated Minister against the Resentments of an injured People, which I hope will never be the Case of this Nation: But if ever it should, I am sure it would then be ridiculous to call ourselves a free People. In this View, Sir, let us consider the Charges we have been at on account of the present War; we have been at the Charge of this 10,000 Land-Forces, which we might otherwise have reduced; we have been at the Charge of 6 or 7000 Land-Forces which have been added to our former Number; and if we have at present 27,000 Seamen in our Pay, we have been at the Charge of adding no less than 19,000 Men to our Naval Force. So that if it were true, that the Dutch have kept up 20,000 Men, which they intended to have reduced, yet the Expence they have been at would not be equal to what we have been at, nor could it be any Argument for the Augmentation now proposed; because it is not so much as pretended, that the Dutch intend to put themselves to any greater Charge for the Year ensuing, than they were at in the Year past: And therefore I must think the honourable Gentlemen, who are for the Augmentation proposed, would have done better not to have mentioned the Dutch in this Day's Debate; for let them put the Conduct of the Dutch in what Light they will, it can no way answer the present Purpose.
'As for that material Question, Whether or no we ought to engage in the present War? It is indeed a material Question; but, Sir, it is a Question which no Gentleman in this House, nor any Man in the Nation can answer, without being let into the Secret of all our late Treaties and Negotiations. Thus much I shall say, that considering the melancholy Situation of this Country, the great Load of Debts, and the heavy Taxes we already groan under, it is certain we ought not to involve ourselves in War, but in a Case of the extremest Necessity; and 'till that happens I am very sure, that every Article of Expence ought to be most cautiously avoided, that we may be the more able to support a War, when fatal Necessity drives us into it whether we will or no. If neither the Liberties of Europe in general, nor the Interest of this Nation in particular, be in Danger by the present War, we have already gone too far; for, besides the great Expence we have put ourselves to, the great Preparations we have made may disappoint and prevent the Effect of those good Offices, his Majesty is employing for restoring the Peace of Europe; because they may give one Side Reason to hope that we are to join with them, which will of course prevent their hearkening to those Terms of Peace they would otherwise have been glad to have accepted of; or they may give a Jealousy to the other Side that we are to join against them, which will of course make them suspect every Thing we can propose, for bringing about an Accommodation.
'Besides these Disadvantages, Sir, it is certain, that the great Naval Equipment we made last Year, put a very great Damp to our Trade, and gave all our Neighbours, but more particularly the Dutch, a very great Advantage over us: It is true, we exported a great Quantity of Corn last Summer, but that was owing to the Situation and Circumstances of our Country, and not at all to our Management: For while our Merchants were paying double Freights for Ships, and double Wages to Seamen, the Dutch, the Hamburghers, and all other Rivals in Trade, were carrying on their Trade at the usual Rates; which gave them a great Advantage in every Branch of Trade, more particularly in the Corn-Trade, where the usual Freight bears such a great Proportion to the prime Cost: Nay, such a Scarcity was there at last of Seamen in this Kingdom, that our Merchants could not really get Ships to carry out the Cargoes of Corn which they had ready to have been exported; and while a Stop was thus put to our Exportation, the Dutch and others, who had by this Time got an Account of the Demand, sent out their Ships, and glutted the Markets for Corn, both in Spain and Portugal as well as in Italy. So that if we had not made such a great Naval Equipment, it is certain a much greater Quantity of our Corn would have been exported than really was.
'But if the Balance of Power in Europe, or the particular Interest of this Nation, was really in Danger, surely, Sir, we ought to have engaged at first; we ought not surely to wait till those, whose Interest it is to join with us in the Defence of either, be so far disabled as to be rendered incapable either to assist us, or to defend themselves. As to the particular Interest of this Nation, whether it be in Danger or not from the present War, must entirely depend upon our late Negotiations; and therefore it is, at present, impossible for me to form any Judgment in that Respect, because I am intirely ignorant of our Situation, so far as relates to our foreign Affairs: But from our not having joined in the Beginning of the War, I must conclude, that the particular Interest of this Nation is no way concerned in it; and therefore I must think it was quite unnecessary to put ourselves to any Charges on that Account.
'As for the Balance of Power, it ought certainly to be preserved: In this, Sir, all the other Princes and States of Europe are as much, nay, more nearly concerned than we; therefore they ought to bear their Share in the Expence, and will certainly do so when they find it necessary. But if, upon this Pretence, we run ourselves headlong into every Broil that happens in Europe, the Dutch, as well as the rest, will very probably leave the whole Charge upon us: They will neglect providing in Time even for their own Defence, when they find us such Dupes as to be ready, upon all Occasions, to make that Provision for them. Whether our late Preparations have given them any Ground to think so, I shall not pretend to determine; but as I look upon the Dutch to be a very wise People, I must either conclude that they think so, in which Case we ought not, by any new Augmentation, to encourage them in that Opinion; or I must conclude, that the Balance of Power is not in any Danger: For though it could be supposed that the chief Magistrates in Holland were inclined to sacrifice the Interest, or the Safety of their Country, to their own Safeties, or their own little private Views; yet, if the Balance of Power were in any Danger, the People would force them to join in the War. The Magistrates of that Republick are not protected either by Riot-Acts, or by regular Troops quarter'd in the very Bowels of their Country; and therefore the People might and certainly would force them to do their Duty, or would massacre them as they have done heretofore: For this Reason I am inclined to think, that the Balance of Power is not yet in any Danger, and if the Balance of Power be as yet in no Danger, nor the particular Interest of this Nation in any Danger, there was no Occasion for our being at any Expence on account of the present War; much less is there any Occasion for our putting ourselves to the Expence of the Augmentation proposed; for which Reason I must be against it.'
'Gentlemen have of late fallen into a Method of departing from the Question in Hand, and throwing out a great many Things no way relating to the Subject they speak to. This I suppose they do with Design to make an Impression upon some that hear them; and conscious that they cannot convince by Reason, they endeavour to persuade by Oratory, and by florid Expressions no way relating to the Affair in Dispute. Tho' it be irregular even to follow them in these Deviations, yet, as such Things ought not to pass without some Sort of Answer, I hope the House will give me Leave to make a few Remarks upon some Things that have been said, notwithstanding their having no Relation to the Affair now before us; but first I shall endeavour to speak to the Question in Hand. The only proper Question now before us, Sir, I take to be, What is the Number of Seamen necessary for the Security of this Nation during the ensuing Year? Which is a Question that, in my Opinion, no way relates to our past Conduct, to the Conduct of any of our Allies, nor to the Question, whether or no we ought to take a Share in the present War ?
'With relation to the Question now before us, his Majesty has given us, from the Throne, all the Information that is proper or necessary, and all the Information that can, I think, be desired by any Man who wishes well to his Country. He told us at the Beginning of last Session of Parliament, that he was no way engaged in the present War, nor had any Part, except by his good Offices, in those Transactions, which had been declared to be the Causes and Motives of it: But that he could not fit regardless of the Events of this War, nor could he be unconcerned for the future Consequences of it; and I am sure no Man, who has a Regard to the Welfare of this Nation, or to the Security of his Majesty's Person and Government, can desire he should. At the Beginning of this Session his Majesty told us, that he is not yet any farther engaged, than by employing his good Offices, in Conjunction with the Dutch, for restoring the Peace of Europe; but that his good Offices have not as yet had the desired Effect: We are therefore in the present Question to suppose, that this Nation is not as yet any way engaged in the War; but, as his Majesty has told us, the bad Consequences, that may arise and affect us by the War's being carried on, are obvious; and they ought certainly to be provided against, let the Charge be what it will. Where Facts are notoriously known to the whole World, where Consequences are obvious to every Man of common Capacity, surely Gentlemen do not expect that his Majesty, either in his Speech, or by particular Message, should give this House a long and particular Detail of such Facts or of such Consequences; the bare Mention of them is enough, and that his Majesty has sufficiently done, both at the Beginning of the last, and at the Beginning of the present Session of Parliament.
'The Balance of Power in Europe may perhaps not be as yet in Danger: Nay, Sir, we are to suppose it is not in Danger; for if it were, his Majesty would certainly have acquainted his Parliament with it, and we should have been now providing for a vigorous War, instead of providing only for our Security and Defence. Both Parties as yet profess their sincere Disposition to put an End to the present Troubles, upon honourable and solid Terms, and these Prosessions may at present be truly sincere; but the Events of War may make them alter their Professions, or may render their Professions insincere; and these Events may be so sudden and so extraordinary, that without our joining immediately in the War, one of the Parties engaged may be utterly undone: Two or three signal and entire Victories might, in a few Months, have such Consequences, as might put it out of our Power to relieve the Party conquered, or to stem the Torrent of Success on the Side of the Conqueror. And I am sure it cannot be pretended, that in a few Months we could raise and discipline such Armies, and fit out such Fleets, as would be necessary, both for the Defence of our own Dominions, and for assisting effectually the Party in Danger of being quite undone: Armies, 'tis true, may be soon raised; but according to the exact Discipline now observed, it requires many Months before those Armies can be made fit for Service, or proper to engage against an Army of veteran well-disciplin'd Troops. I shall likewise grant, that our Ships of War may be manned with one Third Land-Men or Marines, but even these Land-Men or Marines must be some Time on Board, before they can either know or perform their Duty in the fighting of a Ship; for, I believe, a Man of War, with a third Part of her Men just taken from the Plough, would make but a poor Figure against a Ship of equal Force, provided with able Sailors and well disciplined Marines. For this Reason, Sir, when the Affairs of Europe are brought to such a Crisis, that an unlucky Accident may render it absolutely necessary for us to engage immediately, and without Delay, in the War, I must think it is incumbent upon us to provide in Time, in order to have a sufficient Number of well-disciplined Men, both for Sea and Land-Service, so ready and so much at Command, as to enable us to perform immediately that Part, which a sudden Emergency may make requisite, both for our own Safety and the Safety of Europe; and this cannot be done but by Augmentations seasonably made, both to our Fleets and Armies.
'As the Preservation of the Balance of Power is of so much Consequence to this Nation, and so intimately connected with our Safety, it is very certain, that whatever Power in Europe may project the overturning of that Balance, that Power must expect to have Great Britain for her Enemy, as soon as her Project comes to be discover'd: We may therefore be assured, that when any one of the Powers of Europe begins to entertain such ambitious View, they will of course endeavour to make a Diversion, by invading this Island; and this they will the more readily attempt, because we have always a strong Party among us, who are ready to second any foreign Attempts, for the Accomplishment of their own selfish Views, especially if at any Time they find us not properly provided for our own Defence. Because one of our neighbouring Powers is engaged in War with another, we are not from thence to conclude, that neither of them will make any Attempts upon this Island; for if either of the Parties engaged in War has really a Design to overturn the Balance of Power, they will certainly conceal that Design, and endeavour to cover it with Prosessions of Justice and Moderation as long as they can: But when they find they can conceal it no longer, when they find that we begin to smoke what they aim at, can we believe they will wait till we attack them, or join with their Enemies against them ? On the contrary, ought we not to expect that they will endeavour to divert us, by giving us some Business at Home ? and how do we or can we know but this may be the Case at present ? Ought not we therefore to provide against such Attempts in Time, that we may be at Liberty to do our Duty, when we find the Balance of Power is really struck at ?
'Gentlemen cannot, it seems, distinguish, or at least, Sir, I find they will not distinguish between those Events which might have happened, and Events which, by proper Care and Precaution, were perhaps prevented: If by not providing in Time for our Defence, some signal Misfortune should happen to the Nation, such Men would then have a just Reason for finding Fault with those employed in the Administration. And if any such Thing had lately happened, I do not doubt but that it would have been propagated with great Industry, that our Surprize was entirely owing to the two blundering Brothers; but when all such Accidents are prevented by the prudent Measures that have been pursued, and by making seasonable and proper Provisions for our Defence, then it is pretended we never were in any Danger; and from thence they take Occasion to find Fault with the Expences that have been wisely and necessarily incurred by the making of such seasonable and proper Provisions; and thus, Sir, some Gentlemen will always find plausible Pretences for decrying those Measures that have been pursued, let them be what they will. However, I shall always think they act the best and the wisest Part, who chuse to give us Time and Leisure to roast them in this House, for their expensive and extravagant Measures, rather than to have our Attention diverted from them by a civil War kindled up, or a foreign Army actually landed in the Island. And when a War was broke out, in which this Nation might very probably be involved; when our Neighbours, and those Neighbours too from whom we have most to fear, were leading out great Armies, and fitting out powerful Squadrons, I must think that it was at least prudent in us to make those Provisions for our Security which were made last Year; and as we are in the greater Danger of being involved the longer the War continues, I cannot be against the small Augmentation now proposed.
'To pretend to tell us, Sir, what France and Spain intended to have done last Year, or to pretend to tell us what they intend to do this next Year, with the Ships of War they have continued in Commission, is, I think, something extraordinary. We may perhaps guess at some of their Designs, but I shall always think it very imprudent, to leave the Peace and Quiet of this Nation to depend upon such Guess-work; especially when we consider, that they have no Occasion to fit out any great Fleet against any Power in Europe but ourselves; and therefore it is not to be presumed, that they would put themselves to such a great Expence, unless they were suspicious that the Measures they have resolved to pursue, may make this Nation engage in the War; and in such a Case, I think it is natural to believe, they would take the first Opportunity to invade or disturb us: They have such an absolute Command over all the Seamen of their Country, they have always such Numbers of regular Troops upon their Coasts, or within a few Days march of their Sea-Ports, that when they have their Ships ready equip'd and fit for sailing, it would be easy for them to clap Seamen and Land-Forces on Board; and they might arrive upon the Coasts of this Kingdom, before it would be possible for us to man and fit our Fleet sufficient to engage them, if we had not made some extraordinary Provision beforehand: This every Man must be convinced of, who knows the Difficulty we had to procure Seamen enough for the Squadron we fitted out last Summer, notwithstanding the long Time we had to look for them, and the Method of Pressing which we were even then obliged to make use of. Nor does it signify to tell us, that at this Rate we shall always be obliged to fit out Squadrons, and put ourselves to a great Expence, whenever any of our Neighbours begin to fit out one; for I take it to be a right Maxim, I really think we ought to prepare and fit out a Squadron, whenever we see any of our Neighbours doing so, unless we very well know the Purposes their Squadron is designed for. The Expence bestowed upon fitting out a Squadron may be an Expence to the Publick, but it is little or no Loss to the Nation; the whole is expended among our own People, and it not only improves our Seamen, by making them acquainted with the Service on Board a Man of War, but it increases their Number; for every Fleet we fit out encourages a Number of Land-Men to engage in the Sea-Service: Whereas, if by neglecting to do so, the Kingdom should be invaded, and a civil War kindled up, the Nation would in that Case suffer a real Loss, a Loss which might far surmount the Expence the Publick could be put to by the fitting out of twenty Squadrons; so that We may suffer by neglecting this Maxim, but can never suffer by observing it.
'I shall readily grant, that this Nation would be more formidable, if we owed no publick Debts, and had the same Fleet and the same regular Army we have at present; but if we had no Squadron ready to put to Sea, nor any regular Troops ready to take the Field, I cannot admit that we should then be so formidable as we are at present, even tho' we did not owe a Shilling in the World. We all know, that what now makes a Nation formidable, is not the Number nor the Riches of its Inhabitants, but the Number of Ships of War provided with able Seamen, and the Number of regular well disciplined Troops they have at Command: And, whatever Gentlemen may think of the Acceptation of his Majesty's good Offices, I am persuaded they would not have been so readily accepted, if the Parties had not seen us preparing to do them bad Offices, in Case they had refused to accept of our good. The accepting of our good Offices will, at least, furnish us with an Opportunity of making ourselves better acquainted with the Views of all the Parties concerned; and there is no Condition annexed by either Party, but what was and must have been understood when we made the Offer. For surely, when we offered the Interposition of our good Offices, we were not to suppose that the Emperor was, by his Acceptance, to pass from any Demands he thought he had upon us; nor were we to suppose that the Allies would or could accept of our good Offices, unless we continued neutral: And while we do so, our Preparations can give no Encouragement to either Side to insist upon unreasonable Terms; nor can they give the least Jealousy to either Side, unless one or the other have Views, which they know to be inconsistent with the Preservation of the Balance of Power in Europe.
'I find, Sir, some Gentlemen have got into a very odd way of talking, when they have Occasion to mention the publick Expence; for if it the least exceeds a Million it is to be called two, if it exceeds two it is to be called three: and because it may probably this Year a little exceed three Millons, therefore it is to be called four: So that a Million with these Gentlemen seems to be of very little Consideration; yet when we talk of English Money, I cannot but think that a Million, or near a Million, is a Sum not to be despised, and one in four is surely a material Difference. What the publick Expence was, during the War in King William's Reign, or what the Number of Seamen was that was kept up during the late War, I shall not now inquire; I believe both were as the honourable Gentleman has been pleased to represent, but I think neither material at present; for we are not to proportion our yearly Expence, or our Number of Seamen, by past Times, but by present Necessities. When our Neighbours increase their publick Expence, or their Numbers either of Seamen or Land-Soldiers, we must increase ours, otherwise we may happen to fall a Sacrifice to our Frugality: And as both France and Spain, but especially the latter, have very much encreased their Naval Force since last War, if we should be obliged to engage against those two Powers, which I hope will not be the Case, it is certain we should be forced to maintain a greater Number of Seamen, than we had at any Time during the late War; and the sooner we begin to provide, the less Harm shall we do our Merchants, the less Stagnation shall we make in our Trade.
'This, Sir, naturally leads me to take Notice of the Damage done to our Trade, by the fitting out a Squadron last Summer. I shall allow, that our Merchants thereby suffered some Inconvenience, and were put to greater Charge than usual for the Freight of Ships and Wages of Seamen: But when the Whole is in Danger, the private Interest of particular Persons must yield to it; and the Stop that was put to our Trade last Summer, is, in my Opinion, the strongest Argument that can be thought of for the Augmentation now proposed, and for our laying it down as a Maxim, always to begin early to fit out Squadrons, as soon as the Danger of War begins to appear: For if we should never think of any Augmentation of Seamen 'till we come upon the very Brink of a War, we must take or press 30 or perhaps 40,000 Seamen all at once into the Service of the Publick: And if the raising of 12 or 15,000 Seamen last Summer put such a Damp to our Trade, surely the raising of 30 or 40,000 all at once would put an entire Stop to it: Whereas if we begin early, and raise our Seamen by Degrees, fresh Men encouraged by high Wages, will be daily entring into the Merchants Service; those that enter this Year will be Seamen against the next, and thus every Year will afford a new Fleece for the Navy, so that in a little Time we may have our Navy fully provided, even for the most heavy War, without putting at any Time any great Stop to our Trade.
'As for the Dutch, Sir, I do not think it necessary to enter into a Disquisition about what they have done, what they ought to do, or what Number of Land-Forces may be necessary for the Safety of that Republick? For tho' they are our natural Allies, yet surely we are not in every Thing to be directed altogether by their Conduct: We are a distinct Nation, and tho' our Interests be generally the same, yet in some particular Cases they may happen to be disferent; and when it so happens, we must certainly follow different Measures. The Dutch are, 'tis true, a wise People, but, as wise as they are, they may perhaps neglect or mistake their own Interest, as well as the general Interest of Europe; and if they do so, must we necessarily do the same? I hope no such Thing will be pretended; for in such a Case we should become in some manner a Province to Holland, we should become a meer Cypher in all publick Transactions, and should be no way regarded by any of the Powers of Europe; for if they could but secure the Dutch, they might always depend upon getting us into the same Measure; and when the Dutch found we had such a thorough Dependence upon them, as good Allies as they are, they might perhaps, now and then, make use of it in a Way which would no way contribute either to our Interest or Honour.
'Permit me now, Sir, to take some Notice of the Reflections that have been thrown out upon our late Negotiations and Treaties. As for the Treaties of Hanover and Seville, we had certainly very good Reasons to enter into them at the Time they were negotiated and concluded: And as they were approved of by both Houses of Parliament, I think I have no Obligation to say any Thing in Favour of either; for the Approbation of a British Parliament I take to a more authentick Proof of their Utility, than any thing that can be said by a private Gentleman in their Commendation; and all the Objections to them have been already so often answered, that 'tis needless to repeat them: But when Gentlemen give us such a terrible View of the Consequences, that may ensue in Case the present Emperor should happen to die before the Affairs of Germany are fully settled, I am surprised to hear them find Fault with the late Treaty of Vienna, which was concluded for no other End but to prevent that fatal Catastrophe: Fatal it would certainly be to the Affairs of Europe in general; and therefore I must think we had the strongest Inducement to enter into the Guaranty of the Pragmatick Sanction, in the most unlimited Manner, as being the only Expedient by which that fatal Catastrophe may be prevented. What Reasons the Dutch might have for their Backwardness or Caution about entering into that Treaty, I do not know; but if I were to judge of their Wisdom from their Behaviour in that Respect, I cannot say I should have the best Opinion of it.
'With regard to the Attack made upon the Emperor in Italy, by the Spaniards and the King of Sardinia, it is certain, that this Nation has neither given them any Encouragement nor any Provocation to do so; and whether the Imperial Court has given them any just Provocation, is an Affair, which the Mediators must of course inquire into, when they come to offer a Plan for a Pacification. As to the Affair of Poland, where the honourable Gentleman had his Information, with respect to what he has been pleased to relate to us about that Affair, I shall not pretend to guess; but I must believe, that his Majesty knows nothing about any such Answers having ever been given to the French, or about any such Instructions having been sent to his Ministers in Poland: This I must believe from what his Majesty told us in his Speech, at the Opening of last Session of Parliament; and if there ever was any such Thing, I am very sure that I am not to answer for all the Measures that have been lately pursued, for that is one Article I know nothing of.
'To conclude, Sir, the Nation has already been put to a great Expence, and must be yet put to a farther Expence on account of the present War; perhaps too some private Men may have been exposed to some Inconveniencies, by the Preparations we have already made; but these Expences and these Inconveniencies ought to be born with Patience, when we consider the Difference between our Situation and that of some of our Neighbours: I believe I may justly compute, that by the bloody and obstinate Battles, Sieges and Skirmishes, which have already happened since this War first broke out, each of the Parties engaged has lost at least 50,000 Men; so that while the Trade of our Neighbours is interrupted, while a Stop has been put to all forts of Manufactures and Improvements among them, while their Lands are laid waste, such Multitudes of their Men destroyed, we have carried on our Trade with Security; our Manufactures have been improved, and extraordinary Quantities of our Corn exported; no British Farmer has been disturbed, not an Acre of Land laid waste, not a Drop of British Blood spilt: Therefore, while we enjoy so much Safety and Quiet, I can't think any Man has Reason to complain of the Charge the Nation has been put to, or of the few Inconveniencies he has suffered, for the Preservation of that Safety and Quiet which he has enjoyed: And as I am fully satisfied, that what is now proposed is absolutely necessary, for securing our future Enjoyment of the same Safety and Quiet, I shall most heartily give my Consent.'
30,000 Men voted for the Sea-Service for the Year 1735.
Then the Question being put, That 20,000 Men be employ'd for the Sea-Service for the Year 1735 it passed in the Negative by 256 to 183. After which it was resolv'd, without dividing, that 30,000 Seamen be employ'd for the said Service.