The History and Proceedings of the House of Commons: Volume 9, 1734-1737. Originally published by Chandler, London, 1742.
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Mr Hutcheson's SPEECH In the DEBATE concerning the Number of Land-Forces for the Year 1718.
THE first Footsteps I find of a Standing Army in England, since the Romans left the Island, were in Richard the Second's Time, who rais'd Four Thousand Archers in Cheshire, and suffer'd them to plunder, live upon free Quarter, beat, wound, ravish and kill wherever they went; and afterwards he call'd a Parliament, encompass'd them with his Archers, forc'd them to give up the whole Power of Parliaments, and make it Treason to endeavour to repeal any of the arbitrary Constitutions then made: But being afterwards obliged to go to Ireland to suppress a Rebellion there, the People took Advantage of it, and dethron'd him.
'The Nation had such a Specimen in this Reign of a Standing Army, that I don't find any King from his Time to that of Charles the First, who attempted to keep up any Forces in Time of Peace, except the Yeomen of the Guard, who were constituted by Henry the Seventh. And tho' there were several Armies rais'd in that Time for French, Scotch, Irish, and other foreign and domestick Wars; yet they were constantly disbanded as soon as the Occasion was over. And in all the Wars of York and Lancaster, whatever Party prevail'd, we don't find they ever attempted to keep up a Standing Army. Such was the Virtue of those Times, that they would rather run the Hazard of forfeiting their Heads and Estates to the Rage of the opposite Party, than certainly enslave their Country, though they themselves were to be the Tyrants.
'Nor would they suffer our Kings to keep up an Army in Ireland, tho' there were frequent Rebellions there, and by that Means their Subjection very precarious; as well knowing they would soon be in England if call'd for. In the first three Hundred Years that the English had Possession of that Country, there were no Armies there but in the Times of War. The first Force that was establish'd, was in the 14th of Edward the Fourth, when one Hundred and twenty Archers on Horseback, Forty Horsemen, and Forty Pages, were establish'd by Parliament there; which six Years after were reduced to Eighty Archers and Twenty Spearmen on Horseback. Afterwards, in Henry the Eighth's Time, in the Year 1535, the Army in Ireland was three Hundred; and in 1543, they were increased to three Hundred and Eighty Horse, and sixteen Hundred Foot, which was the Establishment then. I speak this of Times of Peace; for when the Irish were in Rebellion, which was very frequent, the Armies were much more considerable. In Queen Mary's Days the Standing Forces were about twelve Hundred. In most of Queen Elizabeth's Time the Irish were in open Rebellion; but when they were all suppress'd, the Army establish'd was between fifteen Hundred and two Thousand; about which Number they continu'd till the Army rais'd by Lord Strafford, in the 15th of Charles the First.
'Our thrice happy Situation defends us from the Necessity of a Standing Army, which the Indiscretion of some of our Neighbouring Nations have permitted, to the Destruction of their Liberty. Besides, lying open to continual Invasion, they can never enjoy Quiet and Security, nor take a sound Sleep, but Hercules like with Clubs in their Hands. So that the Halcyon Days which we for the most Part enjoy, must be solely attributed to our Tutelar God Neptune, who with a Guard of winged Coursers so strongly intrenches us, that we may be said to be media insuperabilis unda, and not unfitly compared to the Earth, which stands fixed and immoveable, and never to be shaken, but by an internal Convulsion. And yet we have much Talk of a Standing Army which is to be in Time of Peace, but no Body can tell us what they are to do: We know their usual Commission is to kill and slay, but where now is the Enemy? Many talk of this with as much Certainty, as if they were already established, and are pleased to affirm it necessary to have a vast Body of Forces continued on Foot. Whereas the first Project we find for a Standing Army, in the Year 1629, required only three thousand Foot in constant Pay, which were to bridle the Impertinence of Parliaments, and to over-run the Nation, to make Edicts to be Laws, to force upon the People vast Numbers of Excises; and, in short, to overturn the whole Frame of this noble British Government.
'I wonder whose Advocates those Men are, who talk so warmly of this Matter; for I am satisfy'd none of those brave Britons, who have fought honourably for their Country, ever meant, when the Service was over, to be a Charge, Burden and Terror at home; nor to disfranchise us of two of our Native Liberties, Freedom from Martial Laws, and Billeting of Soldiers; and thereby directly to take away from themselves, as well as from their Fellow-Subjects, one Half of the Benefit of the Petition of Right, and in Consequence the other Half too, the Fredom of their Persons and Estates. Neither can it be supposed a gratifying of his Majesty, to establish greater Forces than have been usual in former Reigns in Times of Peace. His Majesty has shewed and expressed so much Tenderness and Concern for the Liberties and Ease of his Subjects, and even, when the Necessity of the State seemed to require it, was so very cautious in the Use of that Power invested in him by the Parliament, with respect to the raising of Forces for the Defence of the Kingdom and the Suppressing of the late Rebellion, that every Body admired his wonderful Resolution, in trusting his Royal Life and Crown to so inconsiderable a Number of Troops, in the most dangerous Juncture which threatened both. How then can it be imagined that His Majesty inclines to continue a Burden upon his Subjects, which he was so loath to impose when the greatest Exigences of State called for it? But there are some Gentlemen, who a few Years since were the pretended Patriots of their Country, who had nothing in their Mouths but the sacred Name of Liberty, who in the late Reigns could hardly afford the Monarch the Prerogative that was due to him, and which was absolutely necessary to put in Motion this Machine of our Government, and to make the Springs and Wheels of it act naturally and perform their Function; I say, these Gentlemen, that in some former Reigns could not with Patience hear of the King's ordinary Guards, can now discourse familiarly of thirty thousand Men to be maintained in Time of Peace. But let them not deceive themselves, for supposing they vainly think to make their Court this Way, yet they would quickly find themselves out-flattered by the Party they fear, who have been long the Darling of Arbitrary Power, and whose Principles as well as Practices teach them to be Enemies to all the legal Rights and just Liberties of their Native Country; and so these wretched Bunglers would be made use of only to bring together the Materials of Tyranny, and then must give Place to more expert Architects to finish the Building.
'And tho' we are secure from any Attempts of this Kind during the Reign of a Prince, who preserves us from a Captivity that would be equal to what Moses redeemed the People of Israel from; a Prince whose Life is so necessary to the Preservation of Europe, that both Protestant and Popish Princes have forgot their ancient Maxims, and laid aside their innate Animosities, and made it their common Interest to chuse him their Arbitrator: A Prince in whom we know no Vice, but what has been esteemed a Virtue in others, his undeserved Clemency to his Enemies. I say, was this most excellent Prince to be immortal, we ought in Prudence to abandon all Thoughts of Self Preservation, and wholly to rely on his Care and Conduct. Or had we as certain a Prospect of the Nation's being perpetually blessed with Monarchs, that shall inherit his Royal Virtues as well as Kingdoms, as we have in the next immediate Heir, his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, there were no great Occasion or Necessity of appearing anxious for the future Welfare of our Country, more than for the present: But since no Virtue nor Pitch of Glory will exempt these Princes from paying the common Debt to Nature; we ought not to intrust any Power with them which we do not think proper to be continued to their Successors. And doubtless his Majesty will not regret this, or any Thing else that can reasonably be required, in order to compleat that Deliverance, and Happiness of his People, so far advanced by his wonderful Conduct. For to set us within View of the promised Land, with a ne plus ultra, is the greatest of all human Infelicities; and such I shall always take our Case to be, whilst a Standing Army must be kept up to prey upon our Entrails, and which must in the Hands of an ill Prince (which we have had the Misfortune frequently to meet with) infallibly destroy our Constitution.
'And this is so evident and important a Truth, that no Legislator ever founded a free Government, but avoided this Charibdis, as a Rock against which his Commonwealth must certainly be shipwrack'd, as the Israelites, Athenians, Corinthians, Achaians, Lacedemonians, Thebans, Samnites and Romans; none of which Nations, whilst they kept their Liberty, were ever known to maintain any Soldier in constant Pay within their Cities, or ever suffer'd any of their Subjects to make War their Profession; well knowing that the Sword and Sovereignty always march Hand in Hand; and therefore they train'd their own Citizens, and Territories about them, perpetually in Arms; and their whole Commonwealths, by this Means, became so many form'd Militia's: A general Exercise of the best of their People in the Use of Arms, was the only Bulwark of their Liberties; this was reckon'd the surest Way to preserve them both at Home and Abroad, the People being secur'd thereby as well against the Domestick Affronts of any of their own Citizens, as against the Foreign Invasions of ambitious and unruly Neighbours. Their Arms were never lodg'd in the Hands of any who had not an Interest in preserving the publick Peace, who fought pro aris & focis, and thought themselves sufficiently paid by repelling Invaders, that they might with Freedom return to their own Affairs. In those Days there was no Difference between the Citizen, the Soldier, and the Husbandman; for all promiscuously took Arms when the publick Safety requir'd it, and afterwards laid them down with more Alacrity than they took them up: So that we find among the Romans, the best and bravest of their Generals came from the Plough, contentedly returning when the Work was over, and never demanding their Triumphs, till they had laid down their Commands, and reduc'd themselves to the State of private Men. Nor do we find this famous Commonwealth ever permitted a Deposition of their Arms in any other Hands, till their Empire increasing, Necessity constrain'd them to erect a constant Stipendiary Soldiery Abroad in Foreign Parts, either for the holding or winning of Provinces. Then Luxury increasing with Dominion, the strict Rule and Discipline of Freedom soon abated, and Forces were kept up at Home, which soon prov'd of such dangerous Consequence, that the People were forc'd to make a Law to employ them at a convenient Distance; which was, that if any General march'd over the River Rubicon, he should be declared a publick Enemy. And in the Passage of that River, this following Inscription was erected; Imperator five Miles, five Tyrannus armatus quisquis sistito; vexillum armaque deponito, nec citra hunc amnem trajicito. And this made Cæsar, when he had presum'd to pass this River, to think of nothing but the pressing on to the total Oppression of that glorious Empire.
'The Story of Denmark is so very well known, and so well related by an excellent Author [Lord Molesworth] that it would be Impertinence in me to repeat it; only this I will observe, that if the King had not had an Army at his Command, the Nobles had never delivered up their Government.
'Some People object, that the Republicks of Venice and Holland are Instances to disprove my Assertion, who both keep great Armies, and yet have not lost their Liberty. To this I answer, that neither keep any Standing Forces within the Seats of their Government, that is, within the City of Venice, or the great Towns of the United Provinces; but they defend these by their own Burghers, and quarter their Mercenaries in their conquer'd Countries, viz. the Venetians in Greece, and the Continent of Italy, and the Dutch in Flanders. And the Situation of these States makes their Armies, so posted, not dangerous to them; for the Venetians cannot be attack'd without a Fleet, nor the Dutch be ever conquer'd by their own Forces, their Country being so full of strong Towns, fortify'd both by Art and Nature, and defended by their own Citizens, that it would be a fruitless Attempt for their own Armies to invade them; for if they should march against any of their Cities, 'tis but shutting up their Gates, and the Design is spoil'd.
'I would not here be mistaken, as if I advanced any Argument against the Quartering of Guards in and about the City of London; for these being appointed for the Defence and Guard of the King and Royal Family, are obliged to be posted in all such Places wherever the Court resides. Neither do I object against the maintaining of a competent Number of Troops, such as have been allowed our former Kings to be kept in Pay in Times of Peace: But that an Army of thirty Thousand Men should now in a profound Peace be kept standing, is what no honest Man or Lover of his Country will venture to affirm. And to return the last Objection, tho' we should admit, that an Army might be consistent with Freedom in a Commonwealth, yet it is otherwise in a free Monarchy; for in the former, 'tis wholly in the Disposal of the People, who nominate, appoint, discard, and punish the Generals and Officers as they think fit, and 'tis certain Death to make any Attempt upon their Liberties; whereas in the latter, the King is perpetual General, may model the Army as he pleases, and it will be call'd High-Treason to oppose him.
'This Subject is so self-evident, that I am almost asham'd to prove it; for if we look through the World, we shall find in no Country, Liberty and an Army stand together; so that to know whether a People are Free or Slaves, it is necessary only to ask, Whether there it an Army kept amongst them? This Truth is so obvious, that the most barefac'd Advocates for an Army do not directly deny it, but qualify the Matter by telling us, that a Number not exceeding twenty or thirty Thousand are a Handful to so populous a Nation as this. Now I think that Number may bring as certain Ruin upon us, as if they were as many Millions, and I will give my Reasons for it.
'It's the Misfortune of all Countries, that they sometimes lie under an unhappy Necessity to defend themselves by Arms against the Ambition of their Governors, and to fight for what's their own; for if a Prince will rule us with a Rod of Iron, and invade our Laws and Liberties, and neither be prevail'd upon by our Miseries, Supplications, or Tears, we have no Power upon Earth to appeal to, and therefore must patiently submit to our Bondage, or stand upon our own Defence; which if we are enabled to do, we shall never be put upon it, but our Swords may grow rusty in our Hands; for that Nation is surest to live in Peace, that is most capable of making War; and a Man that hath a Sword by his Side, shall have least Occasion to make use of it. Now, I say, if a King hath thirty Thousand Men beforehand with his Subjects, the People can make no Effort to defend their Liberties, without the Assistance of a foreign Power, which is a Remedy most commonly as bad as the Disease; and if we have not a Power within our selves to defend our Laws, we are no Government.
'For England being a small Country, few strong Towns in it, and those in the King's Hands, the Nobility disarm'd by the Destruction of Tenures, and the Militia not to be rais'd but by the King's Command, there can be no Force levied in any Part of England, but must be destroy'd in its Infancy by a few Regiments; for what will twenty or thirty Thousand naked unarm'd Men signify against as many Troops of mercenary Soldiers? What if they should come into the Field, and say, You must chuse these and these Men your Representatives, Where is your Choice? What if they should say, Parliaments are seditious and factious Assemblies, and therefore ought to be abolish'd; What is become of your Freedom? If they should encompass this House, and threaten if they do not surrender up their Government, they will put them to the Sword; What is become of your Constitution? These Things may be under a tyrannical Prince, and have been done in several Parts of the World. What is it that causeth the Tyranny of the Turks at this Day, but Servants in Arms? What is it that preserv'd the glorious Commonwealth of Rome, but Swords in the Hands of its Citizens?
'I will add here, that most Nations were enslav'd by small Armies: Oliver Cromwel left behind him but twenty seven Thousand Men; and the Duke of Monmouth, who was the Darling of the People, was suppress'd with two Thousand; nay, Cæsar seiz'd Rome it self with five Thousand, and fought the Battle of Pharsalia, where the Fate of the World was decided, with twenty-two Thousand: And most of the Revolutions of the Roman and Ottoman Empires since were caus'd by the Pretorian Bands, and the Court Janezaries; the former of which never exceeded Eight, nor the latter twelve Thousand Men. And if no greater Numbers could make such Disturbances in those vast Empires, what will double or triple the Force do with us? And they themselves confess it, when they argue for an Army; for they tell us, we may be surpriz'd with ten or fifteen Thousand Men from France, and having no regular Force to oppose them, they will over-run the Kingdom. Now, if so small a Force can oppose the King, the Militia, with the United Power of the Nobility, Gentry and Commons, what would an equal Power do against the People, when supported by the Royal Authority and a never failing Interest that will attend it, except when it acts for the publick Good?
'We are told, this Army is not design'd to be made a Part of our Constitution, but to be kept only for a little Time, till the Circumstances of Europe, and of this Nation in particular, will better permit us to be without them. But I would know of these Gentlemen, when they think that Time will be, if it is not now? We are at present not only at Peace with all our Neighbours, but are also ty'd in the firmest Alliance with France, formerly our most formidable Enemy: Shall we have less to fear from the Pretender to the Crown and his Friends at any Time hereafter, than at this present Time? Or, are we apprehensive, lest France will keep Treaties with us no longer than is consistent with her own Interest? Or, that she will be more capable of offending us just after the late tedious and consumptive War, than many Years hereafter when she has had a Breathing-Time to repair the Calamities she has suffer'd by it? No; we can never disband our Army with so much Safety as at this Time; and this is well known by those Advocates for them, who are satisfy'd that a Continuation of them now, is an Establishment of them for ever: For whilst the Circumstances of Europe stand in the present Posture, the Argument will be equal to continue them; if the State of Europe should alter to the Advantage of France, the Reason will grow stronger, and we shall be told, we must increase our Number. But if there should be such a Turn of Affairs in the World, that we were no longer in Apprehension of the French Power, they may be kept up without our Assistance; nay, the very Discontents they may create, shall be made an Argument for the continuing of them. But if they should be kept from oppressing the People, in a little Time they would grow habitual to us, and almost become a Part of our Constitution, and by Degrees we shall be brought to believe them not only not dangerous, but necessary: For every Body sees, but few understand: And those few will never be able to persuade the Multitude that there is any Danger in those Men they have liv'd quietly with for some Years, especially when the disbanding them will (as they will be made believe) cost them more Money out of their own Pockets than to maintain a Militia.
'But we are told, that we need be in no Apprehension of Slavery, whilst we keep the Power of the Purse in our own Hands; which is very true; but they do not tell us, that he has the Power of raising Money, to whom no one dares refuse it. For 'tis as certain that an Army will raise Money, as that Money will raise an Army; but if this Course should be thought too desperate, 'tis only shutting up the Exchequer, and disobliging a few Tally-Jobbers, who have bought them for Fifty per Cent. Discount; and there will be near three Millions a Year ready cut and dry'd for them: And whoever doubts whether such a Method as this is practicable, let him look back to the Reign of Charles the Second.
'But when all other Arguments fail, they call to their Assistance the old Tyrant Necessity, and tell us the Power of France is so great, and Treaties are of so little Force with that prefidious Nation, that let the Consequence of an Army be what it will, we cannot be without one; and if we must be Slaves, we had better be so to a Protestant Prince than a Popish one, and the worst of all Popish ones, one under the Direction of France. Now I am of Opinion, that the putting an Epithet upon Tyranny is false Heraldry; for Protestant and Popish are both alike; and if I must be a Slave, it is very indifferent to me who is my Master; and therefore I shall never consent to be rul'd by an Army, which is the worst that the most barbarous Conquest can impose upon me; which notwithstanding we have little Reason to fear, whilst we keep the Seas well guarded.
'It is certain there is no Country so situated for Naval Power as Great Britain. The Sea is our Element, our Seamen have as much hardy Bravery, and our Ships are as numerous, and built of as good Materials as any in the World: Such a Force well apply'd and manag'd, is able to give Laws to the Universe; and if we keep a competent Part of it well arm'd in Times of Peace, it is the most ridiculous Thing in Nature, to believe any Prince will have Thoughts of invading us, unless he proposes to be superior to us in Naval Power. For the Preparations necessary for such an Undertaking will alarm all Europe, give both to us and our Confederates Time to arm, and put our selves in a Posture of Defence. And whoever considers, that the Prince of Orange with six Hundred Ships brought but fourteen Thousand Men, and the mighty Spanish Armado, then the Terror of the World, imbark'd but eighteen Thousand, will be assur'd, that no Invasion can be so sudden upon us, but we shall have Time to get ready our whole Fleet, bring some Forces from Ireland, and prepare our own Militia if there shall be Occasion for it; especially in Times of Peace, when we shall have the Liberty of all the Ports of France, and shall or may have Intelligence from every one of them.
'But they tell us such a Wind may happen as may be favourable to our Enemy, and keep us within our Ports; which, I say, as France lies to England, is almost impossible: For if we lie about Falmouth, or the Land's-End, no Fleet from Brest or the Ocean can escape us without a Miracle; and if the Design be to invade us from any Port in the Channel, a very few Ships, which may safely lie at Anchor, will certainly prevent it. Nor is it to be conceiv'd, that the French will be at a vast Expence for the Contingency of such a critical Wind, or will send an Army into a Country where their Retreat is certainly cut off, when the failing of any Part of their Design will bring a new War upon them.
'And here I must consess, that the Misapplication of our Naval Force, which is our known Strength, for these several Years past, is the strongest, as it is the most usual Argument against me; which unriddles a Mystery I did not understand before, tho' I never was so foolish as to believe all the Errors of that Kind were the Effects of Chance or Ignorance, or that losing so many Opportunities of destroying the French Fleet had not some extraordinary, tho' occult Cause; and yet notwithstanding the restless Attempts of our Enemies, and the paltry Politicks, and even Treachery of some preceeding Ministers, this Fleet triumphantly defended us, so that our Enemies in many Years War could not get an Opportunity of invading our Country.
'It is objected, that the Officers of our Fleet may be corrupted, or that a Storm may arise, which may destroy it all at once, and therefore we ought to have two Strings to our Bow. By which I perceive all their Fears lie one Way, and that they do not care, if they precipitate us into inevitable Ruin at Home, to prevent a distant Possibility of it from France. But I think this Phantom too may be laid by a well-trained Militia, and then all their Bugbears will vanish. This Word can be no sooner out, but there's a Volly of Small Shot let fly at me: What! must we trust our Safety to an undisciplin'd Mob, who never dream'd of fighting when they undertook the Service; who are not inur'd to the Fatigue of a Camp, or ever saw the Face of an Enemy? And then they magnify mercenary Troops; as if there was an intrinsick Virtue in a red Coat, or that a Raggamussin from Robbing a Henroost, in two Campaigns, could be cudgell'd into a Hero. Tho' I must confess the Conduct of the Advocates for a Standing Army industriously enervating this Force, does in some Measure justify their Objections: For the detestable Policies of the Reigns of King Charles the Second and his immediate Successor, were with the utmost Art and Application to disarm the People, and make the Militia useless, to countenance a Standing Army in order to bring in Popery and Slavery; and if any Methods were propos'd to make it more serviceable, the Court would never suffer them to be debated; and such Officers as were more zealous in Exercising their Companies than others, were reprimanded, as designing to raise a Rebellion. This Conduct was exactly imitated in the latter Part of Queen Anne's Reign, when the Militia of England was neglected and discountenanc'd, and that of Scotland attempted to be reduc'd to the Standard in England, by which Means that Force would have been render'd entirely useless in that Part of the Kingdom, the first Scene where the Enemy was to act the designed bloody Tragedy; and when the Army itself was daily more and more reform'd and modell'd to their Purpose of bringing in the Pretender.
'And now it seems some Men in this Reign are taking the Advantage of this traiterous Neglect and infamous Politicks, of those we just now mention'd. But why may not a Militia be made useful? Why may not the Nobility, Gentry, and Freeholders of England be trusted with the Defence of their own Lives, Estates, and Liberties, without having Guardians and Keepers assign'd them? And why may they not defend these with as much Vigour and Courage as Mercenaries who have nothing to lose, nor any other Tie to engage their Fidelity, than the inconsiderable Sixpence a Day, which they may have from the Conqueror?
'Why may not a Man be listed in the Militia, till he be discharged by his Master, as well as in the Army, till he be discharged by his Captain? And why may not the same Horse be always sent forth, unless it can be made appear, he is dead or maimed?
'Why may not the private Soldiers of the Army, when they are dispersed in the several Parts of the Kingdom, be sent to the Militia? And why may not the inferior Officers of the Army in some Proportion command them?
'I say, these and other like Things may be done, and some of them are done in our own Plantations, and the Islands of Jersy and Guernsey; as also in Poland, Switzerland, and the Country of the Grisons, which are Nations much less considerable than England, have as formidable Neighbours, no Seas nor Fleet to desend them, nothing but a Militia to depend upon, and yet no one dares attack them. And we have seen as great Performances done formerly by the Apprentices of London, and in the War by the Vaudois in Savoy, the Miquelets in Catalonia, and the Militia in Ireland, as can be paralleled in History. And so it would be with us, if the Court would give their hearty Assistance in promoting this Design; if the King would appear in Person at the Head of them, and give Rewards and Honours to such as deserve them, we should quickly see the young Nobility and Gentry appear magnificently in Arms and Equipage, shew a generous Emulation in outvying one another in military Exercises, and place a noble Ambition in making themselves serviceable to their Country.
'That there can be no Danger from an Army, where the Nobility and Gentry of England are the Commanders, and the Body of it made up of the Freeholders, their Sons and Servants; unless we can conceive that the Nobility and Gentry will join in an unnatural Design to make void their own Tides to their Estates and Liberties; and if they could entertain so ridiculous a Proposition, they would never be obeyed by the Soldiers, who will have a Respect to those that send them forth and pay them, and to whom they must return again when their Time is expired. For if I send a Man, I will as surely chuse one who will fight for me, as a mercenary Officer will chuse one that shall fight for me: And the Governments of King Charles the Second, and King James, are Witnesses to the Truth of this, who debauched the Militia more than ever I hope to see it again, and yet durst never rely upon them to assist their arbitrary Designs; as we may remember at the Duke of Monmouth's Invasions their Officers durst not bring them near his Army for fear of a Revolt. Nay, the Pensioner-Parliament themselves turned short upon the Court, when they expected to give them the finishing Stroke to our Ruin.
'To the last Part of the Objection, That this Militia will be more chargeable than an Army; I answer, That since no Man proposes wholly to lay them aside, if we add the extraordinary Expence of maintaining twenty thousand Men to the ordinary Charge of the Militia, it is much more than sufficient to make the latter useful. But if this Objection were true, it ought not to enter into Competition with the Preservation of our Laws and Liberties; for it is betterto give a third Part of my Estate, if it were necessary, than to have all taken from me.
'And tho' it should be granted, that a Militia is not as serviceable as an Army kept in constant Discipline, yet I believe these Gentlemen themselves will confess, sixty thousand of them trained as before, are as good as twenty thousand of their standing Troops, which is the Question; for it is impossible to have them both used at the same Time, they being as incompatible as broad and clipt Money, never current together; and therefore the Kingdom must depend wholly upon a Militia, or else it will not depend upon them at all.
'And this by the Way may silence that Objection, that we must keep our Army 'till the Militia be disciplined; for that will never be done whilst the Court has an Army; and the same Objection will be made seven Years hence as now; so that even a small Army can be of no Use to us, but to make our Fleet neglected, to hinder the Militia from being trained, and enslave us at Home; for they are too few to defend us against an Invasion, and too many for the People to oppose.
'My Lord Bacon in several Places bears his Testimony against a Standing Army, and particularly he tells us, that a mercenary Army is fittest to invade a Country, but a Militia to defend it; because the first have Estates to get, and the latter to protect.
'I believe no Author ever treated of a Free Government, that did not express his Abhorrence of an Army; for, as my Lord Bacon says, whoever does use them, tho' he may spread his Feathers for a Time, he will mew them soon after.
'Perhaps it will be said, that the Artillery of the World is changed since some of those wrote, and War is become more a Mystery, and therefore more Experience is necessary to make good Soldiers. But wherein does this Mystery consist? Not in exercising a Company, and obeying a few Words of Command; these are Mysteries that the dullest Noddle will comprehend in a few Weeks. Nay, I have heard that the Modern Exercise is much shorter and easier than the Ancient. But the great Improvements in War, are in regular Encampments, Fortification, Gunnery, skilful Engineering, &c. These are Arts not to be learned without much Labour and Experience, and are as much gained in the Closet as in the Field; and I suppose, no Man will say, that the keeping Standing Forces is necessary to make a good Engineer.
'As to actual Experience in War, that is not essential either to a Standing Army or Militia, as such; but the former may be without it, and the latter gain it according as they have Opportunities of Action. 'Tis true at present the Army hath been trained up in long Wars, and hath gained great Knowledge: But these Men will not be lost when they are disbanded, they will be still in the Kingdom; and if the Parliament does give them a Gratuity suitable to the Service they have done their Country, they will be ready to resume their Arms whenever Occasion offers.
'I conclude this Subject of the Militia with this Observation, that a Standing Army in Peace will grow more effeminate by living dissolutely in Quarters, than a Militia that for the most Part will be exercised with hard Labour: So that upon the whole Matter, a Standing Army in Peace will be worse than a Militia, and in War a Militia will soon become a disciplined Army.
'But I desire to know of these Gentlemen, how comes an Army necessary to our Preservation now, and never since the Conquest before in Times of Peace? Did ever the prevailing Party in the Wars of York and Lancaster, as I observed before, attempt to keep up a Standing Army to support themselves? No: they had more Sense than to sacrifice their own Liberty, and more Honour than to enslave their Country, the more easily to carry on their own Faction. Were not the Spaniards as powerful, as good Soldiers, and as much our Enemies as the French lately were? Was not Flanders as near us as France? And the Popish Interest in Queen Elizabeth's Time as strong as the Jacobite is now? And yet that most excellent Princess never dreamed of a Standing Army; but thought her surest Empire was to reign in the Hearts of her Subjects, which the following Story sufficiently testifies. When the Duke of Alanson came over to England, and for some Time had admired the Riches of the City, the Conduct of her Government, and the Magnificence of her Court; he asked her amidst so much Splendor, where were her Guards? Which Question she resolved a few Days after, when she took him in her Coach through the City, and pointing to the People (who received her in Crowds, with Acclamations) 'These, said she, my Lord, are my Guards; these have their Hands, their Hearts, and their Purses always ready at my Command. And these were Guards indeed, who defended her through a long and successful Reign of fort four Years, against all the Machinations of Rome, the Power of Spain, a disputed Title, and the perpetual Conspiracies of her own Popish Subjects; a Security the Roman Emperors could not boast of with their Pretorian Bands, and their Eastern and Western Armies.
'Were not the French as powerful in Charles the Second and King James's Time, as they are now, after the long and destructive Wars wherein they have been since engaged? And yet we then thought a much less Army than is now contended for, a most insupportable Grievance; insomuch that in Charles the Second's Reign, the Grand Jury presented them, and the Pensioner-Parliament voted them to be a Nusance; sent Sir J. Williamson to the Tower, for saying, 'The King might keep Guards for the Defence of 'his Person,' and addressed to have them disbanded. And now, which is strange to think, some Gentlemen would make their Court, by doing what the worst of Parliaments could not think of without Horror and Confusion.
'They say, the King of France was in League with our late Kings, so France is with us; and they would have broke it then, if they had thought it safe, and for their Interest as much as now. But they add, we have more disaffected Persons to join with them; which I must deny, for I believe his present Majesty hath deservedly as much Interest as any of his Prodecessors; and if during the latter Part of the late Reign, when the Interest of the Pretender was so much advanced by the Ministry itself, and the Friends to his Majesty's Succession affronted and discouraged; if during the late formidable Rebellion, which was raised to dethrone and murder his Majesty, and the whole Royal Family, and to overturn the present Religion, Laws, and Liberties of which he is the Defender and Protector; I say, if at such dangerous Times he had so many Friends, there can be no doubt but in Times of Peace, when the People reap the Fruits of that Conduct he hath shewn in their Defence, he will be the most beloved and glorious Prince that ever filled the English Throne.
'For the King's Safety stands upon a Rock, whilst it depends upon the solid Foundation of the Affections of his People, which is never to be shaken 'till it is as evident as the Sun is in the Firmament, that there is a new formed Design to overthrow our Laws and Liberties, which I think we have no Reason to fear, when I reflect on the wise Provisions his Majesty has made against any future Attempts of that Kind: But if we keep a Standing Army, all depends upon the uncertain and capricious Humours of the Soldiery, which in all Ages have produced more and violent sudden Revolutions, than ever have been known in any unarmed Governments: For there is such a Chain of Dependance amongst them, that if Two or Three of the chief Officers should be disobliged, or have Intreagues with Jacobite Mistresses; or if a King of France could once again buy his Pensioners into the Court or Army, or offer a better Market to some that are in already, we shall have another Rehearsal Revolution, and the People be only idle Spectators of their own Ruin.
'And whosoever considers the Composition of an Army, and doubts this, let him look back to the Roman Empire, where he will find out of Twenty Six Emperors, Sixteen deposed and murdered by their own Armies. Nay, half the History of the World is made up of Examples of this Kind: But we need not go any farther than our own Country, where we have twice kept Armies in Time of Peace, and both Times they turned out their own Masters. The first under Cromwel, expelled that Parliament under which they had fought too successfully for many Years; afterwards under General Monk, they destroyed the Government they before set up, and restored King Charles the Second; and he afterwards disbanded them, lest they should have conspired to exclude him again. The other Instance is fresh in every one's Memory, how King James's Army joined with the Prince of Orange, afterwards our rightful and lawful King.
'And what could have been expected otherwise from Men, who call themselves Soldiers of Fortune? who having no other Profession or Substance to depend upon, are forced to stir up the Ambition of Princes, and engage them in perpetual Quarrels, that they may share of the Spoils they make? Such Men, like some Sort of ravenous Fish, fare best in a Storm; and therefore we may reasonably suppose they will be better pleased with a tyrannical Government, such as was that of the late King James, than the mild and gracious Administration of his present Majesty.
'But farther, there is a Crisis in all Affairs, which when once lost can never be retrived. Several Accidents concur to make the Disbanding the Army practicable now, which may not happen again: We have a loyal and uncorrupted Parliament, and we have a Prince, whose Inclinations as well as Circumstances will oblige him to comply with the reasonable Desires of his People. But let us not flatter ourselves, this will be always so; for if the Army should be continued, they may in Time be accounted Part of the Prerogative, and then it will be thought as great a Violation to attempt the Disbanding them, as of the Guards in King Charles the Second's Time; it will be interpreted a Design to dethrone the King, and be made an Argument for the keeping them up.
'But there are other Reasons yet: The Publick Necessities call upon us to contract our Charge, that we may be the sooner out of Debt, and in a Condition to make a new War if there is a Necessity for it: And 'tis not the keeping great Armies on foot that will enable us to do so, but putting ourselves in a Capacity to pay them. We should put ourselves into such Circumstances, that our Enemies may dread a new Quarrel, which can be no otherways done, but by lessening our Expences, and paying off the publick Engagements as fast as we are able. For Money is the Sinews of War; but the Sinews once weakened, the Body is in a tottering Condition. A Standing Army must be fed, and when once without Pay, must live upon free Quarter; for there is no Reason that Men raised for the Service of their Country, should starve in it.
'In this Discourse, I purposely omit speaking of the lesser Inconveniencies attending a Standing Army, such as frequent Quarrels, Murders and Robberies; the quartering upon publick, and sometimes private Houses; the influencing Elections of Parliament by an artificial Distribution of Quarters; the rendering so many Men useless to Labour; with a greater Destruction of them, by taking them from a laborious Way of living to a loose idle Life; and besides this, the Insolence and Debaucheries that are committed in all the Towns they come in, to the Ruin of Multitudes of Women, Dishonour of their Families, and ill example to others; and a numerous Train of Mischiefs besides, almost endless to enumerate.
'The Advocates for a Standing Army tell us, That tho' the Words, 'By being annexed to the Crown, and so becoming a Prerogative, could not be parted with, which was the Cause of the long Continuance of that Mischief, after it was known and felt to be so; yet all this is cur'd by making the Act temporary, and settling a Standing Army only for a certain Number of Years.
'To this I answer, that succeeding Princes, if they find an Army, will keep it, and will not trouble themselves whether the Law be temporary or perpetual. A plain Instance we have of this in the Customs; for tho' Tunnage and Poundage, and the other Impositions, are a Subsidy and free Gift, and the King's Answer to the Bill thanks the Subjects for their good Will; and tho' Parliaments have alway us'd such Cautions and Limitations in those Grants as might prevent any Claim, and heretofore limited them to a short Time, as for a Year or two; and if they were continued longer, they have directed a certain Space of Cessation or Intermission, that so the Right of the Subject might be the more evident; at other Times, they have been granted upon Occasion of War for a certain Number of Years, with Proviso, that if the War were ended in the mean Time, then the Grant should cease, and of Course they have been sequestered into the Hands of some Subjects for the guarding of the Seas. Notwithstanding all this, tho' the Parliament so carefully granted their Grants, yet King Charles the First took the Subsidy, without any Grant at all, for sixteen Years together; tho' several Parliaments in the mean Time forbad the Payment of it, and voted all those to be publick Enenemies that did not refuse it. The like did his Son, the late King James, 'till his Parliament gave it him: And in his first Speech to them he demanded it as his own, by the Name of, 'My Revenue;' and why then shall not another Prince come and say the same, 'Give me my Army,' if he ever have a Parliament to ask? To limit a Prince with Laws, where there is an Army, is to bind Sampson with his Locks on.
'The very Reputation of a Force to back them, will make all Court Proposals speak big, tho' ever so contrary to the Interest of the Nation; For there is no debating nor disputing against Legions. It will tempt them to do many Things they durst not otherways think of: What is much out of our Reach, is rarely the Object of our Thoughts: But the Facility of Execution is generally the first Motive to an Attempt. Now 'tis abundantly the Interest of Court Flatterers to live under a corrupt Reign: Then Bribes and Confiscations fill their Coffers. No Man's Wife or Daughter is free from their Lust, or Estate from their Avarice. They extort Presents from the Nobility, Goods from the Tradesmen, and Labour from the Poor. In short, all is their own. And 'tis to be feared, these Gentlemen, unless they have more Virtue than usually falls to their Share, will put Princes upon such Councils as promote their own Advantage. They will tell them, how mean it is to be aw'd by a few Country Gentlemen, when all the Kings of Europe besides are got out of Pupilage, as Lewis the Eleventh called it. They will fill their Heads with a thousand trifling Jealousies of Monsters, Commonwealths, and such like Bugbears: And it hath been difficult even for the wisest of Princes to free themselves from this Sort of Cattle. Nothing but the Fear of Punishment, and the being made a Sacrifice to the Peoples just Revenge, can make such Men honest. But if they have an Army to protect them, under a tyrannical Prince, all these Considerations will be laid aside, and all Arguments will be answered in a Word, The King has an Army, which will cut off all Reply. The King has an Army will be a confuting Answer to every Thing, but a better Army, which, Thanks be to God, and the late King William, we once found at the happy Revolution. But as we are not to live upon Miracles, so we are not to tempt Dangers.
'I have stay'd the longer upon this Point, in shewing how inconsistent an Army, under a bad Prince I always mean, is with the Freedom of Parliaments, because they being the Keepers of our British Liberties can ill perform that Office when they have parted with their Power into other Hands. They are the last Resort of the Subject for the Redress of their Grievances: But how shall they relieve others from the Oppression and Insolences or the Soldiery, when perhaps they shall be subject to the like themselves? The Projectors are aware of this terrible Inconvenience, and therefore they have this Expedient, That it shall be the King's Army, but the Parliament shall have the Paying of them; whereby they shall in all future Times be as much the Parliament's humble Servants, as the Parliament their proper Masters.
'Much at one I believe: For the Long Parliament had not such a King and Parliament Army as this, but an Army that was all their own; their Creatures, raised, listed, commissioned, and paid wholly by themselves, and not in Partnership, and that had manfully fought all their Battles: And yet, upon the first Distaste they were pleased to take, they distressed their own Masters, and with an high Hand forced them to banish eleven of their principal Members, Denzil Holles, Sir Philip Stapylton, Glyn and such other great Men. Sir Philip Stapylton dyed in his Banishment. At another Time they would not suffer near an hundred Members to enter into the House, whom they thought not well affected to the Business then it Hand: And at the same Time evilly intreated and imprisoned about forty Members: This they called Purging the House. After they had thus handled them at several Times, in Conclusion, the Officers came and reprimanded the House, bid them take away their Fool's Bauble, the Mace, violently pulled the Speaker out of the Chair, drove out the Members, and locked up the Doors, and so Good Night to the Parliament. The Wisdom of that Parliament was said to be very great by their own Party, but it was Nonsense for them to think, that an Army does not know its own Strength: For without dear bought Experience, any Body may know beforehand, what will be the natural Consequences of a Standing Army, in the Case above supposed of a bad Prince, which may possibly happen in some future Ages, tho' indeed we have a long and glorious Prospect of a better Fate to these Kingdoms. It will be the Conquest of the Nation in the silentest, shortest and surest Way. They will be able to dispose of Men's Lives and Estates at Will and Pleasure; and what can a foreign Conqueror do more? If after this the Subjects live and possess any Thing, it will be because they let them; and how long that shall be, no Body knows.
'Nay, in many Respects an authorized Standing Army may prove far worse than a foreign Invasion, and a Conquest from abroad: For there we have a Chance for it, but this would be a Conquest in cold Blood, which might not be resisted. And thus we should lose the inseparable Rights of the Conquered, which is to rescue and deliver themselves, and to throw off the Yoke as soon as they can.
'It would likewise be a great Aggravation of their Misery to be enslaved at their own Cost and Charges: Besides the bitter Resentments of Unkindness and Breach of Trust, if it be done by those who ought to protect us, and provide better for us, at least should not leave us in a worse Condition than they found us. But above all, if we contribute to this Thraldom by our Folly, Flattery and little self-seeking: If the Destruction of our Posterity be of ourselves, that Reflection hereafter, when we come to foresee the bad Consequences that are yet hid from the Advocates for a Standing Army, will have a Sting in it; and it will not then be enough to say, Who would have thought it?
'That unless we have an Army to lye Lieger, we are liable to be over-run by a foreign enemy e'er we are aware, is a Thought that could not possibly escape our Forefathers, yet we cannot learn that ever they put it in Practice, which is a great Sign they did not like it. No, we are well assured, that they would not have suffered a Standing Army to defend the Nation, if they would have done it gratis.
'But what signify the Proceedings of former Ages to us say some Gentlemen, the World is strangely altered, and the Power of France is become so formidable, that it can never be opposed in the Elizabeth Way. They still keep up a great Army, and how shall we defend ourselves against them, if they think fit to break Treaties with us, and assist the Pretender to invade us, without an Army of twenty or thirty thousand disciplined Troops?
'But that we may for ever lay this Gobblin, we will admit our Fleets to be kidnapped by an unlucky Wind, whilst the French land twenty thousand Men in our Country. Tho' in Gratitude for this Concession, I hope my Adversaries will grant that their Fleet cannot get back again without our meeting with them, since the same Wind that carries them home will carry us out, or if they will not be so good natured as to allow this, I will undertake for them, for we live in an Undertaking Age, that they will agree we shall intercept their Supplies. Then the Case is thus, that twenty thousand Men, of which few can be Horse, are landed in England without any human Possibility of being supply'd from abroad.
'I say, this Army shall never march twenty Miles into the Country, for they cannot put themselves in a marching Posture in less than a Fortnight or three Weeks; and by that Time we may have an hundred thousand Militia drawn down upon them, whereof ten thousand shall be Horse, and as many Dragoons as we please: And if this Militia does nothing else but drive the Country, cut off their Foragers and Straglers, possess themselves of the Defiles, and intercept Provisions, their Army must be destroyed in a small Time. Neither will domestick Enemies, the Favourers of the Pretender, be able in the mean Time to give us much Disturbance; for by the prudent Care the present Government has already taken, and 'tis hoped will take for the future, these Malecontents can never be in a Condition to make any Head, or contribute the least Assistance to a foreign Enemy.
Thirdly, That our Militia have as much Courage as the Irish: And yet, tho' we had eight thousand Horse, and above thirty thousand Foot in Ireland, and a great Part of of the Country in our Possession, we were more than four Years in conquering the rest, and almost a Miracle we did it then. And I believe no Man will deny, if we could not have supply'd our Army from England, but they had all there perished; such is the Advantage of fighting upon one's own Dunghil.
'And to shew what Treatment the French would be like to meet with in England, I will put you in mind of the Purbeck Invasion, which was so private, that it was seen only by an old Man and a Boy: And yet tho' the Country thought the Government against them, we had above forty thousand Voluntiers in Arms in two or three Days time, who came thither on their own Accord to give them the Meeting; and if they had been there, I doubt not would have given a good Account of them. Our Court, when it was over, shewed their Dislike of it, and questioned the Sheriff of Dorsetshire about it. And tho' we have forgot it, yet I believe the French will remember Purbeck; for it shewed the true Spirit and Genius of the English Nation.
'But the Policy of France having now assumed a quite different Face since the Death of Lewis their late King, whose aspiring Temper gave so much Uneasiness to all Europe, all Arguments and Pretences for a Standing Army, that are drawn from any Views of a Breach with that Kingdom, are intirely cut off by this one Consideration.
'Indeed, most of the Reasons these Gentlemen advance to enforce their Design, (and which without this additional Confutation, we have already sufficiently repelled) as they were chiefly made use of by the same Set of Men, in the Reign of the late King William, when the Nation with one Voice, as it were, declared for the disbanding of the Army after the Peace; so the Circumstances of those Times added a great deal of Weight to the same, and the Dispute on both Sides was then managed with so much Strength of Argument, as well as Wit and Art, that it was not an easy Matter for the best Judgment to decide the Case justly, so as neither the Safety of the Nation, or the Liberties and Ease of the People from heavy Taxes might suffer by it.
'And yet, notwithstanding all the seeming ballancing Difficulties that were then obvious from the reducing the Forces, the Wisdom of the King and his Parliament thought fit to over-rule the Matter, and to give their Determination on the other Side. So that allowing the Projectors Arguments to carry with them the same Force and Energy now that the same had then, yet they ought in good Manners to yield up the Cause, because after the most obstinate, nice, and subtile Controversy and Debate by the wisest Heads of the Nation, the most impartial Decision of a Parliament has given their Authority against them.
'But will any Man pretend to affirm, that an Argument relating to the Policy of a Commonwealth, is at all Times supported with equal Reason and Necessity? What Absurdities and Contradictions must needs be the Consequences of such a ridiculous Assertion?
'It may be averred with the like Parity of Reason, that our Monarchs ought always to keep Garrisons in most of the Cities, Towns and Castles of England, because William the Conqueror found it absoluely necessary to do so, for the securing of his new-gained Kingdom. No: there is nothing within the Compass of State Policy that is not as changeable as the Weather and the Seasons of the Year, and those Alterations are as necessary to the Preservation of the political Oeconomy, as these are to the Body Natural: And there is nothing unalterable in the Nature of a Government, but that which is its very Essence, the fundamental Laws of its Constitution, which cannot be changed or removed without the Overthrow and Destruction of the whole Building.
'It is true, King William did not a little contribute by his heroick Courage and Conduct, to humble the Pride of that common Enemy of Europe, who aimed at no less than an universal Conquest; but the victorious Confederate Army in the last War, had brought him even to the Brink of Ruin, and would certainly have disabled that State from even a Possibility of raising its Head, or of giving any Annoyance to his Neighbours, had not our Ministry of the late Reign been too easily circumvented and bribed by French Policy and French Gold, to make a most inglorious and dishonourable Peace with that Nation.
'However, the dismal Effects of the late War sat so heavy upon them, that these were a Clog and Hinderance to all that King's ambitious Projects and Designs, who was content to hold what he had preserved from a raging, unfortunate and destructive War, without running the Hazard of any future Attempts.
'But besides the miserable State of that Kingdom, occasioned by the War, we are presented with an entire new Prospect of their Affairs since that King's Death; and they have their Hands too full at Home, to be meddling with their Neighbours. Every Body knows what domestick Heats and Quarrels they have among themselves at present, by which they are brewing a great deal of Mischief to the whole Kingdom, and which must necessarily determine in the Destruction of one of the Parties. The Affair of the Succession to the Crown of France, about which great Part of that Kingdom is already divided against the other, may produce as much Noise, Wars and Bloodshed as did lately that of Spain: And Great Britain being likely to have a considerable Share, some Time or other, in deciding the former as well as it had in the latter, which was the Ground of the late War, it is the Interest of both Kingdoms to carry fair with us. But it being stipulated as one of the grand Conditions and Articles of the Peace that Philip should renounce his Pretensions to the French Crown, and he having accordingly solemnly done so, it is evident whom we are to side with, if the Matter should come to be disputed. And this is the Foundation of the tripartite Alliance, Offensive and Defensive, lately concluded between Great Britain, France, and Holland, which makes so great a Noise in the World, and by which we seem to be infallibly quieted and secured from all Fears of any Disturbance from abroad.
'But these Gentlemen, when all their other Arguments are refuted, betake themselves to their last Refuge, which they are presuaded can never fail them, and that is the Discontents and Disaffection of the Pretender's Party, who only wait a fresh Opportunity by raising a new Rebellion to restore their King, and revenge their late bad Successes.
'I can assure these Gentlemen, that tho' I argue against a Standing Army, and tho' the Jacobites may perhaps be of the same Opinion, yet I am no Friend to the Pretender, but believe myself as firmly attached to the Protestant Succession, and the Interest of the present Government, and am as great an Admirer of his Majesty's Conduct and Personal Virtues, as any of them all. But nevertheless, I hope no Man will discover himself so void of good Sense, as to imagine that it is Treason to entertain any Notion in common with that Party. And notwithstanding they may vainly apprehend, that some Advantage will accrue to their Interest by disbanding the Army, this does not in the least incline me to the Opinion of the other Side.
'Besides, I do not doubt but even these Malecontents will make greater Use of the Army, supposing it impossible to draw them off to their Side, by representing in ill Colours their Behaviour in those Parts where they are placed, in Hopes to gain Numbers to their Disaffection. And this is the more certain, if we consider that their first Manifesto's were full of the Grievances of an Army, even before any Army was in Being: Such a prevailing Address did they think this Argument to the Resentments of Englishmen. Nor do we find they have been more silent upon this Subject, since the Rebellion has been suppressed. What Noise have we heard of the Riot at Oxford? And of the other little Disorders of the Soldiery, in the several Parts of the Kingdom? And this has not been without its Effect; for many, who were good Subjects to his Majesty, have talked warmly on this Head, being jealous of their Liberties, who otherwise would not have wavered in their Respect to the present Government. How far therefore the Favourers of the Pretender may carry their Success, by insisting on the farther Effects of an Army, established by Law, who certainly cannot commit fewer Outrages, is not difficult to imagine.
'In short, the whole Management of this Project of a Standing Army is ridiculous; but the fatal Consequences of it require deeper Thought. For when we have fooled out ourselves into the Bondage of a Standing Army, how shall we ever get out of it again? Not as the Nation freed themselves from the Court of Wards. We cannot buy it off, for two very good Reasons: No Money will be taken for it; and we shall have nothing to give which is not theirs already; our Estates, Lives and Liberties will be all at their Command.
'The Prince of Orange's Declaration is directly against a Standing Army, as a Means to assist all arbitrary Designs, and thereby enslave the Nation; directly against all wicked Attempts of Conquest, and all despotick Government, 'tis full of Liberty and Property in every Part. And his present Majesty, who is endowed with the same generous and heroick Temper, has given undeniable Proofs of the same gracious Inclinations; we may reasonably suppose that the wisest of Kings, in Conjunction with the best of Parliaments, will, in this important Affair, discover the same Sentiments with our glorious Deliverer, to whom we principally owe our present Happiness. That Declaration was so highly valued, and so wholly relyed upon by the Parliament then, that it is incorporated into our Laws, as the only Redress of our past Grievances and Oppressions, and the best Foundation of our future Happiness: And with intire Confidence that his Majesty King William would continue to act in Pursuance of that Declaration, the Parliament resolved that he should be elected and declared King; so that it is to be accounted the Pacta Conventa of the Government.
'Here I know some will say, that the Army condemned by the Declaration, was the late King James's Army kept up in Time of Peace without Consent of Parliament; whereas this Standing Army is to be kept up with their Consent.
'True it was so, and therefore, it was a Riot and unlawful Assembly every Hour it stood; and having no Law for it, it might have been presented or indicted; to no Purpose indeed: But as an Invasion upon the Subject, it might be resisted and pull'd down as a Nusance, whenever the Nation found themselves able. But suppose this Army had been made Part of the Constitution, and had obtain'd an Act of Parliament for it, what then had been become of us? They were Aids and Instruments of Arbitrary Government before, but then they had been legal Instruments, and had enslay'd us by Authority. In short, we could not have reliev'd ourselves from them, nor any one else in our Behalf, because our own Act and Deed would have always been good against us.
What I have said against Standing Armies, I would be understood of such as are the Instruments of Tyranny, and their Country's Ruin, and therefore I need make no Apology to our own, which next unto God, have by their Bravery and Conduct preserv'd our Liberties and the Protestant Religion thro' Europe, and have so lately delivered these Nations from the unnatural Designs and Attempts of their Fellow-Subjects to dethrone his present most gracious Majesty, who is the Guardian of our Laws and Privileges, and to introduce Arbitrary Power. For if in future Reigns any Designs should be levell'd against our Laws, we may be assur'd these Men would be discarded, and others promoted in their Rooms, who are fit for such Arbitrary Purposes.
'Nor do I think it reasonable that our Army should be ruin'd by that Tranquility and Peace, which, by their Courage and Fidelity, they have procur'd for their Country; and I doubt not but the Generosity and Gratitude of the Parliament will give them a Donative equal to their Commissions, which will amount to no extraordinary Sum, at least, it will be an easy Composition for the Charge of keeping them.
'But if there are any Gentlemen who think we can no otherwise express our Gratitude, but by signing and sealing our Posterity's Ruin, I hope we shall disappoint their Expectations, and not give the World occasion to tell so foolish a Story of us. They know very well, an Army has nothing in it so charming that could induce the Nation to raise one, but upon some pressing Necessity, and not to keep them up perpetually; nor can the Service perform'd be ever so great, as not to be requited under such a Return.
'To conclude: The Honour and Safety of the Nation is the commendable Design; and so far as any Side is for that, it is certainly in the Right, since all Countries must have some Force to defend them against foreign Invasions and domestick Tumults; for as it was their own Good and Security which occasion'd Men first to quit the State of Nature, and to associate themselves into Governments; so the Raising and Regulation of their Forces must be directed and accommodated to the same Ends. An Island is best situated for Preservation, as having need of little other Force either to infest foreign Coasts, or to protect its own, besides a numerous Fleet, which it need never want. But if it be likewise a Government for Increase, such as ours, its Situation naturally leading to Trade and planting of Colonies; and if it has the noble Ambition of holding the Balance steddy between other Governments, of succouring the Distress'd, and grudging Liberty to none, then it must be always provided with a considerable Land-Force. Of this there is no Dispute. Then the only Question is, Whether it be safer to trust Arms continually in the Hands of idle and needy Persons; or only, when there is Occasion for it, in the Hands of sober and industrious Freemen. That the latter can never be dangerous to our Liberty and Property at Home, and will be infinitely more effectually against an Enemy attacking, or invaded by us, I think I have sufficiently proved both by Reason and Experience. But that the former may hereafter prove of the worst Consequence, is a Truth equally undeniable, and therefore I must declare I am for 12,000 Men only.'