The History and Proceedings of the House of Commons: Volume 9, 1734-1737. Originally published by Chandler, London, 1742.
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Mr Sandys's Motion for an Address to the King, for an Account of the Expences incurr'd in consequence of the Vote of Credit pass'd last Session.
Feb. 13. Mr Sandys moved, 'That an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, that he would give Directions to the proper Officer to lay before the House an Account of the Expences incurred, in Consequence of the Vote of Credit passed at the End of last Session of Parliament.'
But this Motion was oppos'd by Mr Horatio Walpole, Mr Henry Pelham, Sir William Yonge, Col. Bladen, Mr Winnington, and Mr Danvers, who alledg'd, 'That the House had then before them what was propos'd to be defir'd by the Address moved for; for in one Account they had the whole of the Expences that had been incurred by any Addition made to the Sea-Service, in Consequence of that Vote of Credit; in another they had an Account of the whole Expences that had been incurred by any Addition made to the Land-Service; and in a third they had an Account of what had been incurred on occasion of the Treaty lately concluded with Denmark: Besides all which, they had an Account of what Monies had been issued from the Treasury, for all or either of these Services in Pursuance of a Clause in an Act of Parliament, pass'd last Session, for enabling his Majesty to apply any Part of the Money granted for the Service of last Year, towards the Expence of making such Augmentations of his Forces by Sea or Land, or of concerting such other Measures as he should judge necessary for the Safety of this Nation: That from these Accounts any Man might easily see what Expences had been incurred, in consequence of that Vote of Credit; for that as to the Sea-Service, whatever appeared from that Account to have been incurred, over and above what was granted by last Parliament, for maintaining the 20,000 Seamen then voted for last Year's Service, must appear to an additional Expence, incurred in consequence of that Vote of Credit; And as to the Land-Service, whatever appeared from the Account then before them, relating to that Service, to have been incurred over and above what was granted by last Parliament, for the 17,704 Land-Forces then voted to be kept up in Great Britain, Guernsey and Jersey, for last Year, must be an additional Expence incurred, in consequence of that Vote of Credit; And as to what had been incurred on Occasion of the late Treaty with Denmark, it was certain the whole was to be placed to the Account of Expences incurred, in consequence of that Considence, which was so reasonably vested in his Majesty in the last Session of Parliament. So that they could not possibly expect any farther or new Accounts by the Address proposed; and the presenting of such an Address would, in their Opinion, shew a want of Respect to his Majesty, and a sort of Jealousy and Diffidence in what he had already ordered to be laid before them.'
Hereupon Mr Sandys proposed an Amendment to his Motion, by adding thereto the following Words, viz. Over and above those, of which Accounts had already been laid before the House; and was supported by Mr Pulteney and Sir William Wyndham: But the Members who opposed the Motion as first proposed by Mr Sandys, objected likewise to the Amendment offered. 'That it was not to be supposed that any other Expences had been incurred, than those contained in the Accounts then before them: That they could assure Gentlemen, that no Money had been issued from the Treasury, by Virtue of the Clause they had mentioned, but what was stated in the Accounts already laid before the House; nor had any Expences been incurred but what were contained in the three Accounts relating to the SeaService, the Land-Service, and the late Treaty with Denmark: That the presenting of such an Address was really in some manner provoking the Crown to make farther Demands upon them: And that if what was then proposed should come to be a Precedent, it would become necessary for the Crown to add a Certificate to every Account to be given in hereafter to Parliament, certifying, That these are all the Expences that have been incurred, or some such Words to that Purpose, which they thought would lock a little absurd: That therefore they could not agree to the Amendment, but when it was disagreed to, as they hoped it would, they would propose that the following Words should be added, by way of Amendment to the Motion, viz. Notwithstanding that full Accounts of all Expences, that had been incurred, had been already laid before that House: That this was the most natural Amendment that could be made to the Motion, because, by the Addition of these Words, it would appear in its proper and true Light, and in that Light they were persuaded the House would not agree to it.'
To this it was answered by the Members, who were for the Motion, 'That they could not but think that the Motion, as it stood at first, was a very proper Motion, because it would be much better and more distinct, to have all these Expences fairly and fully stated in one Account, than to have them dispersed in several Accounts, and consounded with a great many other Articles: That this Method of stating those Expences would be attended with this Advantage, that it would clearly shew to Gentlemen, how sparing his Majesty had been in making use of that unlimited Credit given him the last Session, which would be a great Inducement to that House to renew that Credit, whenever his Majesty should please to demand it: This they thought the honourable Gentlemen would not have obstructed, because it might perhaps be of great Advantage to them upon some future Occasion; but as those Gentlemen did not seem to like that Way of stating the Account, therefore they were willing to make the Amendment proposed to their Motion, in order to prevent a Negative's being put upon a Question of such Moment: That they hoped no Expences had been incurred, in consequence of that Vote of Credit, but what appeared upon the several Accounts then before them; but it would be a great Satisfaction to the House, to have a direct Answer upon that Subject from the Crown; for tho' they were persuaded that the Gentlemen, who had taken upon them to assure the House that no other Expences had been incurred, or Money issued, but what were contained in these Accounts, really believed it to be as they had declared; yet in such Cases that House was not to take an Answer from any Member, for were he the greatest Subject in the Nation, his Word or his Declaration was no Parliamentary Satisfaction, nor could it be taken as such: That with respect to the Certificate mentioned, it was in the present Case so far from being absurd, that it was absolutely necessary: When certain Sums were granted by Parliament, and those Sums appropriated by Parliament to certain Uses, such a Certificate would, 'twas true, be quite unnecessary, it would be ridiculous to insist upon any such; but when an unlimited Credit had been granted by Parliament, and that Credit unlimited likewise as to the Uses it was to be applied to, it was absolutely necessary to have a Certificate in the Manner mentioned by the honourable Gentlemen, certisying that such Sums, and no more, had been taken up on that Vote of Credit; and that the Sums so taken up had been applied to such Uses, and none other: For, without such a Certificate, it would be impossible for that House to know how the Accounts of the Nation stood; they could not know but every succeeding Year might bring a new Demand, to provide for some Expence incurred, or some Debt contracted, in consequence of the unlimited Credit they had formerly given: That therefore it was incumbent upon them, as Members of that House, to demand such a Certificate; they were bound in Honour, and in Duty to their Constituents, to insist upon having such a Certificate, and such a Certificate could not be had any other Way than by presenting the Address proposed: That as to the Amendment intended to be added by the worthy Gentlemen, in order to make their Question appear ridiculous upon the Journals of that House, it did not at all deter them from insisting upon their Question, nor from insisting upon the Amendment they had proposed: That they had no Cause to suspect, that that House would agree to the Amendment intended by the worthy Gentleman; but if they had, it would give them no Pain; for whatever that House might do, the World without Doors would judge rightly, and would fix the Ridicule where it properly belonged: That they would, upon that Occasion, put the Gentleman in mind of what appeared upon their Journals: They remembered a certain great Man was, in a former Parliament, accused of some very high Crimes, and a Question was actually moved and seconded in that House for a Resolution in these Terms, 'That it appears to this House, that such a great Man [naming him] had been guilty of several heinous and fraudulent Practices, &c.' That this was the Question as first moved; but the Friends of that great Man, in order to defeat the Question by rendering it ridiculous, proposed that the Words, it appears to this House, should by way of Amendment be left out of the Question: That upon a Division this Amendment was approved of by a corrupt Majority, and that the Question, so made ridiculous by the Amendment, stood to that Day upon their Journals, as the worthy Gentlemen might see if they pleased; but that the thus rendering the Question ridiculous, was far from rendering ridiculous those who had at first proposed it: On the contrary, the Ridicule fell upon those, who made the Question ridiculous by their Amendment; and accordingly at the Elections for the very next Parliament, most of them were neglected by their Country, and justly refused the Honour of continuing any longer the Representatives of the People in that House.'
Debate concerning the Number of Land-Forces, for the Year 1735.
Feb. 14. The House being in a Grand Committee on the Supply, Mr Andrews mov'd, That the Number of effective Men, to be provided for Guards and Garrisons in Great Britain, Guernsey and Jersey for the Year 1735, be 25,744, including 1815 Invalids, and 555 Men for the Service of the Highlands. Mr Andrews's Motion was supported by Sir William Yonge, Col. Bladen, Mr Winnington, Mr Horatio Walpole, and Sir Robert Walpole, as follows:
'Though we are not as yet any way engaged in the present War, yet such Events may happen, as may make it absolutely necessary for us to engage of one Side or the other. The Affair of Poland, which is the only Motive, the only Bone of Contention hitherto publickly avowed, is an Affair this Nation has very little to do with; but if that should appear not to be the real Motive, or if Success should encourage either Side to extend their Views, the Balance of Power may at last be brought into real Danger; and then, for the Sake of preserving the Liberties of Europe, upon which the Liberties of this Nation will always depend, we must take a principal Share in the War. This Danger may not perhaps be so remote as some People imagine; which has made his Majesty become a Mediator for reconciling the contending Powers, before Conquests of either Side shall take away all Hopes of Success in that Way; and his Majesty has already pushed his Negociations with so much Vigour, that a Plan of Peace will soon be offer'd; a Plan so well adapted to the Honour and Interest of all Parties concerned, that whoever refuses it will thereby shew, that their secret Views are more extensive than they have hitherto been declared.
'From hence, Sir, I must conclude, that we shall be very soon able to determine, whether we must engage in the War or not: If that Plan be accepted, then we shall attain our Ends; the Peace of Europe will be restored, the Balance of Power will be preserved, without our engaging in the War, without subjecting this Nation to any Inconvenience, or to any Expence; but if reasonable Terms should be haughtily rejected by either Side, we must then necessarily take a Share in the War. It is therefore very much our Interest at present, to take every Measure that may contribute towards rendering his Majesty's Endeavours successful; that may contribute towards inducing, or even compelling, every one of the contending Powers to accept of that Plan, which his Majesty, in Conjunction with his Allies, is to offer to them: And, in my Opinion, nothing can contribute more towards these great Ends, than our having such a Standing regular Force, as may convince all Parties that we are in earnest, and that we have it in our Power to alter the Scale whenever we have a Mind. For this Reason I can hardly imagine, that any Gentleman in this House will oppose the small Augmentation of our Land-Forces now proposed, when he considers how many Millions we may be obliged to expend, if, by refusing such a seasonable Expence, we should at last make it necessary to involve ourselves in a heavy War.
'The Prosperity of this Nation, Sir, or at least our Security, depends upon the Tranquility of our Neighbours: While they are at Peace, they will always consume more of our Manufactures than when they are involv'd in Blood and Confusion; and consequently we shall always, in Times of Peace, have a greater Demand for the Manufactures of our Country than in Time of War. Besides, while they continue at Peace, the Balance of Power can be in no Danger, but the Events of War no Nation can depend on; and therefore this Nation among the rest, may be deeply affected by the extraordinary Success of any one Power in Europe. Let us not therefore grudge a small Expence, when it may evidently contribute towards restoring Peace among our Neighbours, upon which our own Prosperity and Security does and always must depend.
'Our House is not as yet on Fire, but our Neighbour's is all in a Flame; and then certainly it is Time for us to prepare the Engines necessary for preserving our own: These are a powerful Fleet, and a sufficient Body of regular well disciplined Troops, ready to march at the first Word of Command. This, Sir, will give Weight to his Majesty's Negociations, it will make all the Parties concerned give a due Attention to what may be proposed, by his Majesty's Ministers, for restoring the Peace of Europe; for a Minister, whose Equipage consists of a large Body of good Troops, will always be better hearkened to, than one whose Equipage consists only of a great Number of fine Pages and useless Footmen.
'By agreeing to the Augmentation proposed, we may expect, Sir, that the Parties now at War will be prevented from forming any ambitious Views, either against this Nation or against the Balance of Power; and if any such Views have already been formed, the Projectors will find themselves under a Necessity of laying them aside; by which Means we shall be able to restore the Peace of Europe, and establish the future Security of this Nation, without exposing ourselves to the Inconveniences, the Misfortunes and the doubtful Events of War. From a contrary Behaviour, let us consider what we are to expect: Will not France and her Allies from thence conclude, that they may go on and conquer; that they may place upon the Imperial Throne a Prince of the House of Bourbon; and that England is not now, as formerly, apprehensive of the growing Power of France, or concerned about the Preservation of a Balance of Power in Europe. These are Conclusions which, I am sure, no Englishman ought to give them an Opportunity to make; for the Continuance of the War is a certain Consequence of such Conclusions, and if it should continue, we must engage in it, or we, as well as the rest of Europe, must submit to be Slaves to the Conqueror. Thus the Danger of not agreeing to what is proposed, is infinitely great; but in agreeing to it there is no Danger, and the Expence is inconsiderable: If it procures a Re-establishment of the publick Tranquility, the Usefulness of it must be acknowledged by all; but if it should fail of the Effect desired, it will enable us to join speedily and with Vigour in the War.
'To me, Sir, it is evident, that the small Expence, now proposed, may prevent an infinite Expence and an infinite Danger; and therefore I must think we are at present something in the Case of a Gentleman, suppose in the Isle of Ely, whose Estate is in great Danger of being overflowed by the Decay of, or some Breach in, those Dykes and Mounds which were made to prevent Inundations: In such a Case, suppose the Gentleman's Stewards and Managers should come to him, and tell him of his Danger; and that the Dykes might then be repaired for a small Expence, but that one Flood or two might make such a Breach as would cost him near the Value of his Estate to repair: Would not that Gentleman be very much in the wrong, would he not be mad, not to hearken to such Representations, and put himself to a small immediate Charge, in order to prevent the entire Ruin of his Estate?
'Our present Case, Sir, is the very same; one successful Campaign, two or three compleat Victories, would make such a Breach in those Barriers, by which the Liberties of Europe are preserved, as would cost an infinite Treasure and a vast Effusion of Blood before it could be made up. This is a Danger apparent from the Circumstances publickly known; but there may be particular private Transactions concerted, or now carrying on, which would demonstrate the Necessity of what is now proposed: These his Majesty may probably have discovered; and from the Experience we have of his Majesty's great Regard for the Ease of his People, we may, I think, conclude, that he would not have proposed to have made any Augmentation of his LandForces, or to have put his Subjects to any additional Charge, without an evident Necessity for so doing: I hope therefore Gentlemen will depend upon his Majesty's Wisdom and Conduct in an Affair, which is of such a Nature, as may render it impossible for his Majesty to lay his particular Reasons before this House, without running the Risk of disappointing all the Measures he has concerned for defeating any ambitious Projects, that may have been formed; and for restoring the Peace of Europe, and thereby preventing this Nation's being obliged to engage in the War.'
Mr Andrews's Motion was warmly oppos'd by Lord Morpeth, Mr Gibbon, Lord Noel Somerset, Sir John Barnard, Sir Joseph Jekyll, Sir William Wyndham, Mr Pulteney, and several other Members, who gave the following Reasons against it.
'I wish every Gentleman would be more cautious of bringing his Majesty's Name into every Debate in this House. I am persuaded, no Gentleman in this House doubts of his Majesty's sincere Regard for the Ease of his People, or of his Wisdom and Conduct in all Matters which are honestly and fairly laid before him: These are Questions which can never be properly brought before us. Upon this Occasion, as well as all other Occasions of the same Nature, it is not his Majesty's Regard for the Ease of his People, but the Regard his Ministers have for the Ease of the People, that we are to consider; it is their Wisdom and Conduct that are now under our Consideration: And, in my Opinion, this House has no great Reason to depend much upon either. I am sure the Generality of the Nation have no great Confidence in either; and therefore, if we speak the Language of our Constituents, which I hope will always be the Language of this House, we cannot depend so much upon their Wisdom and Conduct, as to load the People with any additional Expence, for no other Reason but only because the Minister has told us it is necessary. This is a Method of Proceeding, which no Man ought to agree to in any Case; but especially in a Case which is of the most dangerous Consequence to the Liberties of our Country.
'The honourable Gentlemen, Sir, were very much in the right to argue from general Circumstances, and such as are publickly known; for particular Care has been taken that we should not have any Thing else to argue from: But if we argue only from such Circumstances, we must conclude, that we are neither concerned in the War, nor can be concerned in the Event. If we have nothing to do with Poland, if we are no way engaged to protect the Emperor's Dominions in Italy, surely we have no Concern in the War; and as to the Event, France has declared they will not pretend to keep any of the Conquests they make: They have declared, they have no Intention to make any Conquests or to extend their Dominions, but that their only Aim is to establish Stanislaus upon the Throne of Poland; and the other two Allies have declared, that they have no other View but to establish and preserve the Neutrality of Italy: These are the only Circumstances publickly known; and from these neither this Nation, nor the Balance of Power, can be in any Danger.
'What particular Reasons we may have not to trust to those Declarations, I shall not pretend to determine; but all the other Princes and States of Europe, not already engaged in the War, seem to put their Trust in them, because none of them have as yet made any Preparations. Nay, even the Princes of Germany seem to think their Country in no Danger, for some of the chief of them still continue neutral; and those who have joined in the Declaration of War, have great Numbers of Troops unemployed, which certainly would be all sent to the Rhine, if they thought their Country were in any real Danger, or that France had a Design to impose an Emperor upon them. While they remain so secure, while they give themselves so little Concern about the Event of the War, why we should be so terribly frightened, why we should imagine that France has a Design to conquer Germany, and to place one of the House of Bourbon upon the Imperial Throne, I cannot comprehend: I am sure no such Intention can be presumed from any Circumstance yet publickly known; and I hope we do not think that either Spain or Sardinia has a Mind to conquer Germany, or that France would allow them, if either or both were able to accomplish such a Design. From publick Circumstances, therefore, I can see no Reason we have now, or indeed ever had, to put ourselves to any Charge, or to make any Preparations; and if there be any private Reasons, they must be such as concern us in particular, because, if they related to Europe in general, the other Courts of Europe, particularly the Dutch, would certainly have discovered them as well as we; nay, if they had not, it would have been the Duty of our Ministers to have discovered them, not only to the Dutch, but to all the Princes of Europe; for whatever Danger there might be in discovering them to this House, there could not surely be any Danger in discovering them to those Courts, which have as deep a Concern as we have in the Preservation of the Liberties of Europe.
'As no Part of our late Transactions has ever been laid before this House, as all such Lights have been denied us, I do not know, Sir, but there may be private Reasons for our being particularly concerned in the Event of the present War: If there are any such, they must proceed from some of our late Transactions; and in that Case, those Transactions ought to have been laid before this House at the very Beginning of the War, that we might from them have seen our Danger, and might have provided for our Safety in Time. But to insinuate, that either of the Parties now engaged in War may have ambitious Views against the Liberties of Europe, is an Insinuation that is contradicted by the Behaviour of all the Princes and States of Europe not already engaged in the War; and therefore cannot, in my Opinion, have any Weight.
'We are next told, Sir, that tho' neither Parcy at present have any ambitious Views, yet they may form such Views, and in order to prevent their forming any such, we must make great Preparations; that this will shew them we are in earnest, and will make them give Ear to the reasonable Plan of Peace which his Majesty, in Conjunction with his Allies, is to offer: Whereas, if we make no such Preparation, that France will conclude we have lost all Apprehensions of the growing Power of that Kingdom, and that we have no Concern for the Preservation of the Balance of Power. For God's Sake, Sir, can Gentlemen be serious when they argue at this Rate? Can France, or any Power on Earth, imagine that we will look tamely on, and see the Liberties of Europe overturned; or can the Addition of 7 or 8000 Men to our Army add any thing to their Dread of our Power? They all know, and France in particular has Reason to know, the Strength and Power of this Nation, when wisely managed and prudently exerted; if therefore they form any ambitious Views, if they reject the just Terms of Peace that are to be proposed by his Majesty, or if they despite the Mediation that has been offered, it cannot proceed from any Contempt they have of the real Strength of this Nation, but from a Contempt of the Councils by which that Strength is to be exerted: This is a Contempt which, I am afraid, they have already conceived; and if we should agree to the Proposition now before us, without seeing Reason for so doing, I am sure either the Wisdom or Integrity of this House will suffer considerably, in the Opinion of the World both abroad and at home.
'Another terrible Thing we are this Day taught to apprehend, is, that Success may inspire one of the Parties engaged in War, with an ambitious View of overturning the Balance of Power: That two or three complete Victories may make it absolutely necessary for us to engage immediately in the War; and that therefore we ought to prepare in Time, that we may be ready to fly to the Relief of the Unfortunate, before they are quite overwhelmed: Upon this, Sir, I shall only ask if any Gentleman in this House can imagine, that Germany, Poland and Muscovy, for I think I may now say they are united, can be conquered in one Campaign; or supposing the other to be the unfortunate Side, can they imagine that France, Spain and Italy can be conquered in one Campaign? If any Gentleman can imagine such a Thing, with him I shall not pretend to argue; but with those who cannot, which I believe are the Majority of this House, I think I may contend that neither Side can in one Campaign be reduced so low, but that the united Force of Great Britain, Holland, Denmark, and Sweden, thrown in early the next Campaign, will be sufficient for their Relief, and for obliging the proudest Conqueror to submit to reasonable Terms; in which Case we shall have the whole Winter to prepare, and till then 'tis certainly quite unnecessary to put ourselves to any Expence.
'As this Day seems to be a Day of Paradoxes, among the rest we have been told one with respect to our Trade. We are told, Sir, that the Prosperity of this Nation depends upon the Tranquility of our Neighbours; and that in Times of Peace, there is always a greater Demand for the Manufactures and Produce of this Country, than in Time of War. This, Sir, is so far from being a just Maxim in Trade, that the direct contrary is true. The chief Part of the Produce of this Country consists in the Necessaries, and not the Luxuries of Life; and consequently our Neighbours will always consume as much of such Sort of Things in Time of War as in Time of Peace: But the Difference is, that when their Heads are not distracted, nor their Hands diverted, by any foreign or domestick War, they have Time to apply themselves to Tillage; they have Time to apply themselves to Manufactures of all Kinds; they have Leisure to think of and to improve all the Arts of Peace; and by so doing they furnish themselves at home with a great many of those Necessaries which, in Time of War, they are oblig'd to purchase of us. This is not only evident in Theory, but is confirmed by Experience; for our Trade has suffered more by the Domestick Improvements made by our Neighbours, during the last long Tranquility in Europe, than it has done by any other Means; except the heavy Duties we have laid upon ourselves, and the great Trouble and many Fees and Perquisites we have subjected our Merchants to, both in importing and exporting their Goods and Merchandize: These Incumbrances will in Time most certainly ruin every Branch of our Trade, if we do not take Care to remove them speedily, by paying off those Debts by which they have been occasion'd. And as to our Security, it can never be disturbed by any Broils among our Neighbours, unless the Balance of Power should be brought into real Danger, which our Neighbours upon the Continent would take better Care of than they do, if we did not upon all Occasions shew ourselves so mighty officious as to do it for them.
'It is an easy Matter, Sir, for any Man, who has a quick Invention and a strong Imagination, to form imaginary Dangers. In Time of Peace we are frightened with Invasions, because our Neighbours have their Troops quartered upon their Coasts, and have nothing else to do with them; and in Time of War, because our Neighbours have great Armies in the Field, tho' no Power in Europe has any Quarrel with us. In Time of Peace we must keep up a more numerous Army than is consistent with the Liberties of a free People, in order to prevent a War's breaking out; and in Time of War we must add to that Army, and put ourselves to great Expence, in order to restore the publick Tranquility, and preserve the Balance of Power, tho' no other Nation in Europe appears to be in the least apprehensive of its being in Danger. Thus, Sir, we are always in a Fright, and, for what I know, our Apprehensions may at last become so extravagant; that if Angria, the East-India Pirate, should fit out any greater Number of Grabs than usual, we must fit out a Squadron and augment our Land-Forces, for fear of his coming to make an Invasion upon us. By this, Sir, I do not mean to infinuate that we are now in no Danger; I do not know but we may: But whatever Danger we may be in, I am very sure it does not appear from any Circumstances yet publickly known, nor from any Thing that hath as yet been communicated to this House; and therefore I cannot agree to load the People with any new Charge. If the Danger is such as cannot be immediately communicated, it must be such as cannot be immediately apprehended; and if we are only like to be in Danger, we ought to follow the Example of our wise Neighbours the Dutch, in putting our People to no Expence, and in reserving our whole Strength to be vigoronsly exerted against those, whose future Designs shall seem any way to threaten the Safety of Europe.
'We have been told, Sir, that the Danger of not agreeing to what is proposed is infinitely great; but that in agreeing to it there is no Danger; Sir, in my Opinion, it is directly otherwise. It is certain, that the Regard we are to expect from Foreigners must always depend upon the Esteem they have of the Strength of the Nation, and of the Wisdom of those Councils by which that Strength is to be directed. The Strength of the Nation does not surely consist only in the Troops we have on Foot, or the Squadrons we have at Sea, but upon the Number of Troops we are able to raise and maintain, and the Squadrons we are able to put to Sea. Therefore it is certain that the Adding 7 or 8000 Men to our Land-Forces, or to the Squadrons we have already fitted out, can add nothing to the Opinion Foreigners have of our Strength: But the putting ourselves to such needless Expence, when no Man can say that we are in any real Danger, will certainly give Foreigners a very mean Opinion of our Councils. The Armaments we have made can oblige neither of the Sides engaged in War, but may probably give great Offence, by which we may draw a War upon ourselves; our Armaments may very probably unite several of the Powers of Europe against us, while by the Inaction of those Armaments we may be deprived of every Ally.
'But, Sir, with regard to our domestick Affairs, the Danger is more apparent and much more terrible. The keeping up of a numerous Standing Army, in Time of Peace, is absolutely inconsistent with the Liberties of this Nation. The Gentlemen, or at least some of them, who supported this Motion, talk of an Army of 18,000 Men as always necessary to be kept up within this Island. This, Sir, is the true Secret of this Day's Motion; those Gentlemen know that when Peace is restored, the Nation will insist upon a Reduction's being made, therefore, think they, let us now increase the Army, that when Peace is restored we may stop the Mouths of the Disaffected, (as they call them) by making a Reduction of the Troops we are now to add: And thus, Sir, we shall have a Standing Army of 18,000 Men saddled upon us for ever. As I am of Opinion, that an Army of 18,000 Men is at least 10,000 more than we ought to have in Time of Peace; as I am of Opinion that such a numerous Army can be necessary for no End, but that of enabling a Minister to trample upon the Liberties of his Country; therefore I think the Motion ought to be rejected with Disdain.
'As for Ministers, they must not expect Regard and Esteem from their Equipage, but from the Wisdom and Address of their Negotiations; for a Minister with a blundering Head, or one that is sent upon ridiculous Errands, will make as sorry a Figure with an Equipage of regular Troops, as an Equipage of Footmen; and I am afraid the Ass's Ears will appear much more conspicuous under a wellburnished Head-piece, than ever they did under a well powder'd Peruke.
'The other Parallel, Sir, that has been drawn is very much to the present Purpose, if it had been properly related. We are in the very Case of a Gentleman, who is told by his Steward and the Workmen employed by that Steward, that his Estate is in great Danger of being overflowed by the Breach in those Dykes and Mounds, which, as they say, were made to prevent Inundations. The Gentleman is surprised at this, knowing that there were never any Dykes or Mounds made upon his Estate for preventing Inundations, but what were made by Nature; and that his Estate could not be overflowed without some artificial Inlets made, or even Windmills or Fire-Engines prepared and set up for that Purpose. He answers, you really surprise me, I can hardly believe there is a Possibility in what you relate; however, I'll go along with you and examine every Part of my Estate, and will then take such Measures as may be proper for preventing the Danger: Upon this the Steward and his Workmen are in a Fright, they know that the Inlets were made or the Windmills set up, either by themselves or by some of their Master's Neighbours, with their Connivance; and therefore they reply, O Lord, Sir! you must not examine into Particulars, the Breaches are of such a Nature that if you but look upon them they will become irreparable; give us but a small Sum of Money, and an Order for such of your Tenants as we shall name, to attend and assist us, we can now easily make up the Breach; but if you delay, or offer to examine into it, the Reparation will cost you more than the Value of your Estate: If such a Gentleman should comply blindly with such a Demand, I am sure, Sir, it must be granted, that if he was not mad, he was very much under the Management of his Steward.
'While the Dutch, and all the other States of Europe not yet engaged in the War, shew so little Concern about it; while even the Princes of Germany shew so little Inclination to exert their whole Strength upon the Occasion; I cannot think the Balance of Power in any imminent Danger: And if any Danger threatens this Nation in particular, in God's Name let it be told; when we know what it is, or from whence it is to be apprehended, we may easily take such Measures as may prevent it; but do not let us, under imaginary Pretences of distant foreign Dangers, subject our Constitution to a real, an imminent domestick Danger; for what will it avail us to preserve the Liberties of Europe, if under that Pretence we destroy our own?'
'Whatever Advantage we may draw from the Tranquility of others, it is certain we must always draw great and many Advantages from our own; and it is as certain, that let the Designs of the Parties engaged in War be at present what they will, we may be deeply concerned in its Event. If either the present Designs should be pushed too far, or new and ambitious Designs encouraged and set up by Success, we must necessarily at last be involved; and this is what we ought if possible to prevent. This I take to be the true and only Design of the Augmentation now proposed; it is so small that I cannot look upon it as designed to engage us in the War, but to prevent our being engaged; and for this Reason, I think, we may the more easily agree to it.
'Whether the Balance of Power be now in Danger, or whether this Nation in particular be now in Danger, is not the Question before us; but whether both may not be in Danger by the Event of the present War, and this I really think can't be made a Question. In such a Case we are not to be directed by the Behaviour of other States: At least, I am sure, the Resolutions of this House ought as little to be regulated by the Example of the Dutch, or of the Princes of Germany, as they ought to be regulated by the Advice of our own Ministers. In the War which was commenced before the Death of the late King William, I believe it will not be denied but that the Balance of Power was really in Danger, and yet, for some Time after it commenced, the Dutch seemed, to all publick Appearance, as quiet as they seem at present; the Princes of Germany seemed as little concerned, nay, some of them actually engaged against the Liberties of Europe, and of their Country. 'Till we declared ourselves, no Prince in Europe would venture to stir to the Relief of the House of Austria; and therefore I must think, that the outward Behaviour of all, or any of the Princes of Europe, can never be made use of as any Argument in this Debate. Besides, Sir, the other Princes and States of Europe have no Occasion to make any Augmentation of their Forces till they are just ready to take the Field: They have, all of them, great Bodies of LandForces in continual Pay; there is hardly an Electoral Prince of Germany, but what maintains as great a Number of Land-Forces as are now in this Island; and yet, I hope, it will not be said, but that if we were to engage, we not only could, but ought to take the Field with a much greater Army than either of them can maintain; for which Reason we are always under a Necessity to begin to prepare much sooner than any of our Neighbours.
'We may talk what we will of the Number of Men in our Country, and the Numbers of Ships in our Harbours; but from such Calculations the Strength of a Nation is not now to be computed. It is from the Number of regular, well-disciplin'd Troops, and from the Number of Men of War provided with experienced Seamen, that the Strength of a Nation is always now computed: A Number of regular well-disciplined Troops is now become as necessary, either for Offence or Defence, as a well-disciplined, well-armed Militia was of old; and the Regard a Nation is to expect from its Neighbours, depends now as much upon the former, as it depended of old upon the latter. 'Tis true, Regiments may be soon raised, Regiments may be soon augmented; but a Regiment newly raised must be exercised for many Months, before it can expect to engage successfully against an old, well-disciplined Regiment; and even an old Regiment newly augmented, cannot pretend to enter upon immediate Action, it must have some Time to discipline the new Men that have been incorporated. This is the Reason, Sir, and, in my Opinion, a convincing Reason, why we should always begin to increase our Land-Forces, at least, some Months before there may be a Necessity for entering upon Action: And by what is now proposed, the Increase is to be made in the most proper, and the least expensive Way; that is, by adding a Number of private Men to each Company in the Service, without raising any new Regiments or Companies, which could not so speedily be made fit for Actition, and would, by increasing the Number of Officers, be more expensive to the Nation.
'I am none of those, Sir, who imagine that Germany, Poland, and Moscovy, can be conquered in one Campaign; and much less do I imagine that France, Spain, and Italy, can be conquered in one Campaign. And yet I do verily believe, that a compleat Victory or two, gained in the very Beginning of a Campaign, especially by that Side which has hitherto had the best Success, might be attended with such Consequences, and might bring the unfortunate Side so low, if they met with no Relief or Assistance before the Beginning of the next Campaign, that to recover the Losses of that Campaign, and compel the Conquerors to accept of reasonable Terms, would most certainly cost this Nation a vast Expence of Blood and Treasure; even though we were immediately joined by Holland, Denmark, and Sweden, neither of whose Assistance, even in such a critical Conjucture, we can pretend to depend upon with Certainty. For upon such an Occasion, some of them might expect to make an Advantage by joining the victorious Side; and if we should be obliged to engage singly, and without the Assistance of either of the three Powers I have mentioned, one unfortunate Campaign might involve us in a tedious, an expensive, and even a doubtful War: Whereas, if we put ourselves in such a Condition as to be able to give immediate Relief to the unfortunate Side, or to engage immediately against that Side whose Views shall hereafter be discover'd to be inconsistent with the Safety of Europe, we may then easily cast the Balance, and give Law to the Conquerors.
'I shall admit, Sir, that France and her Allies have made the Declarations mentioned by the honourable Gentleman; and I do not know but they may be sincere, but I am sure they are not to be trusted to: For even granting that these Declarations are sincere, that they have really no other Views but what they openly prosess, yet we know that Success may elate the Minds of the Conquerors, and may make them conceive new Designs, which they could not at first have thought of. And against these we are to provide, as well as against any Designs they may have at present which we have not yet discovered; for if France and her Allies should over-run all Germany, establish Stanislaus upon the Throne of Poland, and oblige the Czarina to submit to their Terms, I am very far from thinking that either of them would abide by the Declarations with which they began the War: I am sure, our Constitution would be exposed to much greater Danger, than it can be from the small Addition now proposed to be made to our Army.
'This leads me, Sir, to consider that terrible, that imminent Danger our Liberties are exposed to, by keeping up a numerous Standing Army in Time of Peace; which is a Danger that has been much exaggerated, upon this and many other Occasions, by the Gentlemen of the other Side of the Question. I could easily shew, that an Army kept up from Year to Year, under the Direction of Parliament, and commanded by Gentlemen of the best Families, and some of them of as good Estates as any in the Kingdom, can never be dangerous either to our Constitution or to our Liberties, were it much more numerous than it is, or is now proposed to be; but the keeping up a Standing Army in Time of Peace is not the Question under our Consideration. Will Gentlemen say, that when all Europe is in a Flame, we ought not to begin to make Preparations? Will they say, that we ought never to make any Augmentation, or to prepare for War, till it is publickly declared? Can this, Sir, be a safe Maxim for any Nation?
'I do not know, Sir, that any Gentleman has in this Debate declared, that 18,000 is the Number of Land-Forces which must always be kept up in this Nation, even in time of the profoundest Tranquility: However, it has been discovered, it seems, that this is the Opinion of some Gentlemen; and that the Addition now moved for, is proposed for no other Reason, but only that these Gentlemen may have an Opportunity of stopping the Mouths of the Disaffected, by reducing that additional Number as soon as the publick Tranquility is re-established. Sir, if no Reason had been assigned for the Addition proposed, there might have been some Room for this Presumption; but as other Reasons have been assigned, as those Reasons are apparent from the present Circumstances of Europe, I cannot see how such a Presumption can be made: But suppose this were really the Design of some Gentlemen in this House, will not every other Gentleman be at Liberty to oppose that Design when the Peace is restored? May not every Gentleman, who shall then have the Honour to be a Member of this House, propose as great a Reduction as he pleases? Is it not as easy to propose the Reduction of 17,000 as of 7000? And when we are so happy as to have an Opportunity to make a Reduction, the Question will then come properly to be argued, what Number of Land-Forces is necessary to be kept up in this Nation in Time of Peace? Upon that Question, I hope as great a Number will be reduced, without any regard to the Addition now made, as the Safety of the Nation can admit of; for I shall join with the honourable Gentlemen in Opinion, that we ought never to keep up a greater Number than is absolutely necessary for the Safety of the Nation, and the Support of his Majesty's Government; and whoever is against keeping up that Number, shall always be looked on by me as a Person disaffected to both.
'Before I conclude, Sir, I must take Notice that from this Debate it appears to me, that the Gentlemen employed in the Administration of our Affairs are always in the most ticklish Situation. If they propose to make Provisions against Dangers, by which Provisions the People must be put to an Expence, they then are charged with raising imaginary Dangers, in order from thence to take an Opportunity to load the People with new Taxes: And their Misfortune is, that the more careful they have been in time past, the Argument grows every Day stronger against them; because People begin at last to believe, that the Dangers which were never felt were imaginary, tho' in Reality they were prevented only by the Provisions that were made against them. However, many People may come at last to be confirmed in this erroneous Opinion, by which the Ministers may be at last refused those Provisions that are actually necessary; and if, by such Refusal, any signal Misfortune should befal the Nation, the Ministers would be sure to be loaded with the Blame of it, tho' they had done all that was in their Power to warn us of the Danger.
'I cannot really comprehend, Sir, what Sort of Information it is that Gentlemen want upon this Occasion; would they have his Majesty send to tell us, that there is a bloody War carried on by France, Spain and Sardinia against the Emperor? Surely they do not expect that his Majesty should send us a particular Message, in order to acquaint us with a Piece of News that is known to the whole World! Probably his Majesty has not yet discovered, whether any of the Parties engaged in War have any farther Views than what they publickly avow; this I say may not probably have been yet discovered, because no Plan of an Agreement has yet been offered to the Parties concerned: Or perhaps his Majesty has already discovered, that some of the Parties concerned have some secret and ambitions Views, which will oblige him to declare very soon against them. In the first Case, his Majesty can give us no farther Information than what he has already given; but suppose the last to be the Case, ought his Majesty, either by Message or otherwise, to disclose to us the Secrets he has discovered, or the Resolutions he has taken upon such Discovery? Would not such a Message be an open and a publick Declaration of War? And will any Gentleman say, that it would be wise in his Majesty, or in those who have the Honour to advise him, to make any such publick Declaration, before he has made all the necessary Preparation, and is just ready to enter upon Action? In short, let us put the Case what Way we will, it is impossible we can have, or ought to have, any farther Information than what every Gentleman without Doors, as well as within, fully knows from the Circumstances Europe is in at present. And as these are, in my Opinion, more than sufficient for inducing every Man, who regards the Safety of his Country, to agree to the Augmentation now proposed, I shall very little regard what may be thought of the Wisdom or the Integrity of this House; for I am very sure, every Man whose good Opinion is worth desiring, will, from our agreeing to this Question, be convinced of both.'
Some Members, who agreed to the Necessity of an Augmentation of our Forces, thought it more eligible to hire foreign Troops than increase the Number of our Army at Home: And in Support of this Proposal, Mr John Howe stood up, and spoke as follows:
'It is with great Diffldence and Confusion, that I stand up to speak on this Occasion: I think it one of more Difficulty, a more critical Conjuncture, than ever I knew under the Consideration of this House. I cannot, Sir, but with the greatest Reluctancy think of adding to the heavy Burthen my Country already labours under; and yet it would be the greatest Concern imaginable to me, if through an ill-tim'd Piece of good Husbandry, I should suffer the Nation to be involv'd in Calamities, which some Expences might have prevented. In this Streight I should be glad to give no Opinion; but yet must now offer such as occurs to me. Peace is the greatest Advantage that can be desired by a free and trading Nation: Any Expence which will contribute to continue that Blessing to us, will be Money well employed; and what is now proposed to us, I see in the Light of a Measure for Peace: The Increase of our Forces in general appears to me, to be with an Intention, not to make, but to prevent War. We are now in the rightest Situation possible: We take on us the Part of Mediators, not of Principals or Parties in the War: May our good Offices be effectual? All I can do to make them so, I am sure I wish: God send they may be so? But we must put ourselves into a Condition to be a Weight in whichever Scale we may throw ourselves; for bare Reasons, Persuasives alone, will, I fear, have little Effect. But if the stronger Party is made sensible, that if it refuses to come into reasonable Terms, it will not long continue the stronger Party, our Mediation will be more regarded; and a Minister will be best hearkened to, whose Equipages, instead of a great Number of fine Footmen, consists of a large Body of good Troops: I am therefore, Sir, free to declare for arming ourselves, convinced that an unarmed Mediation must prove an unsuccessful one. But, Sir, as the shewing what a contrary Measure would produce, does best illustrate Things, let us consider what would be the natural Effects of our declining to make any warlike Preparations. Would it not be declaring to the French that they may go on and conquer? That they may place upon the Imperial Throne a Prince of the House of Bourbon? That England is not now, as formerly, apprehensive of the Increase of the Power of France? This would certainly be the Conclusion the French would naturally draw from our not arming: A Conclusion no Englishman surely would give them an Opportunity to make. Warlike Preparations will, I hope, conduce to making Peace; and if they fail of making Peace, they will-enable us to make War: The Expence will neither way be lost. A noble Lord was pleased to say, that the Prosperity of this Nation depended on the Peace and Tranquility of our Neighbours; I join with him in Opinion; at least so far that it may be disturbed by their Want of Tranquility: But surely then we ought not to repine at any Expence to procure that Peace and Tranquility to them, upon which our own Prosperity is thought to depend. Some Gentlemen seem to apprehend, that arming will engage us in War, without the Dutch; far from it; for if it should fail of its desired Success, we are still at Liberty to act as we think best: But upon that Article, I think it most proper to be silent at present. We may, as the Country People express it, when the Time comes, do like our Neighbours. But now, Sir, as I have given my Consent to the Increase of Forces in general, I must likewise declare, that for the Method, now proposed, of increasing them, by raising more national Troops, I can by no Means approve of it. After which it will be expected of me to say in what Manner I would have them increased; for to oppose a Measure, and propose no other in its Place, is certainly very unjustifiable. On this Occasion therefore, I am not shy of declaring that the warlike Preparation I mean, is by making Contracts with foreign Princes for their Troops, in case we call for them. To this Method there is no Objection but the unavoidable Expence; and yet the Expence of national Troops is still greater: Even the disbanding of national Troops does not free us from the Expence of them; their Half Pay remains; and 'tis remarkable, that Half-Pay Officers, tho' they hardly live, they never die. But other Objections arise to national Troops; the Burthen they are otherwise, and the Danger from them is likewise greater; not that I look on them, as another noble Lord does, as a Standing Army; for it is not to be supposed, that this can be the Number to be kept up: That is not my Objection; but I object to the Increase of national Forces, as a Method in no Circumstance so easy or safe, as the engaging foreign Ones. Arming in general I think absolutely necessary; and were there no other Method, I would consent to this. Our House indeed is not on Fire, but our Neighbours is in a Flame; I therefore approve the increasing of our Forces in general, and only oppose the Method now proposed of raising national Ones, as there is a more easy and more convenient one of doing it, by engaging foreign Troops.'
To this Speech of Mr Howe's it was replied by Mr Lindsay, 'That by the Augmentation proposed, it was not intended to add new Officers, but only so many private Men to each Company; so that when Peace was restored, the Augmentation then made could be reduced, without leaving any Charge upon the Nation: That in a Time of such publick Danger it was necessary to augment our Forces within the Kingdom, and therefore any small Inconveniencies that might from thence arise must be borne with: That by increasing our own Troops no Money was carried out of the Kingdom: That it would add to the Number of our trained Soldiers, which, if any future Danger should arise, would be an Advantage to the Nation: That by a Man's becoming a Soldier his Labour and Industry was not quite lost, for many of them were as industrious after listing as ever they had been before: That old and infirm Soldiers must always of course be dismissed, and new Recruits raised in their Stead, tho' no Augmentation were ever made.
Mr J. Drummond. ; Mr Dundass.
Mr John Drummond, in Support of the Motion for the Augmentation, took Notice of the Number of Forces the Dutch had on Foot, and their Disposition to act in Concert with Great Britain.' Then Mr Robert Dundass stood up, and spoke against the Augmentation, and mention'd the bad Purposes for which the Forces were employ'd, and instanc'd the drawing up of the Regiment in the Abbey Close at Edinburgh, to over-awe the Election of the Scots Peers, or over-awe the Elections of Commoners; and to induce such Places as were conceiv'd to wish for Troops, to vote for Courtiers, or otherwise to have the Troops remov'd from them.'
Mr D. Forbes.
To this Mr Duncan Forbes (fn. 1) answer'd, 'That the Drawing up the Troops in the Abbey Close was an ordinary Muster or Exercise of Arms; and the Abbey Close an ordinary Place for such Musters; and that there was great Need of armed Force in Scotland; without which the notorious Inclination there to Smuggling and Cheating the Revenue, and to mutiny and resist the Execution of legal Process, could not be quell'd; and concluded with disapproving the Proposal for hiring Foreign Troops.' Hereupon Mr James Erskine stood up and said,
'I am loth to take up the Time of the House, now it is so late, but as the Affair of the Troops at the Election of the Sixteen Scots Peers has been misrepresented; and as I am fully acquainted with the Truth of that Transaction, I hope the House will indulge me.
'I believe no Member of this, or any other former Parliament, has ever asserted that a Standing Army was consistent with our Constitution, or even attempt to deny but it is dangerous to our Rights and Liberties. A Standing Army has been kept up, it is true, from Year to Year, and sometimes augmented, by pretending the Exigencies of the Times: but such Exigencies, that the same, or other such, may to the World's End be pretended: So that if the same mean and low Spirit continues in Britain, a Standing Army is for ever to be the Oppression of this once flourishing Island. These Arguments are indeed too general to be dwelt on, when the Question is not, Whether to have an Army; but, Whether to augment it? Since it seems granted on all Sides, that we must have an Army for this Year; that Britain must for one Year longer submit to that Badge and great Mean of Slavery: But if it is so dangerous to have any, it is still more dangerous to add to it; and if Exigencies requir'd such an Army as we had last Year, yet it behoves us to see the Exigencies, that requir'd so large an Addition as 8000 more, before we ought to consent to it.
'The Pretext made use of is, that we and the Dutch are to be Mediators between the contending Powers of Europe, and that unarmed Mediators cannot effectually mediate; yet the Dutch are to be unarm'd, not only by Sea, but are to add nothing to their Land-Forces, as was but now acknowledg'd: Tho' the other Day we were told, That as we should increase our Fleet, the Sea being our natural Barrier; so would the Dutch augment their Troops, their Barrier being by Land. But now we see that our Neighbours are to share with us the Honour and Advantage of Mediating, and we are to bear all the Burden: Yet it seems neither they nor we are indeed to be Mediators; for his Majesty's Speech says only, that his good Offices, and the good Offices of the States General, had been accepted of; and as some Gentlemen had openly in the House deny'd that we were to be Mediators, they explain'd the accepting of these good Offices to be no more than barely to allow us to make Proposals to the Powers in War. And is this all the mighty Matter for which our domestick Army is to be augmented so greatly? If a strong Army is necessary for this Purpose, the Augmentation is too little: But any Augmentation in our present Circumstances is not the Way to make us to be regarded by the Potentates at War. They know our Case, that we are under vast Debts, much whereof was contracted for no Purpose, or for bad Purposes: And to see us acting wisely and frugally, and to have Money and Credit as formerly, would give Britain the Weight it formerly had; and they know that then we could raise Troops at Home, and hire Abroad: But they would never believe us noticeable for having 25,000 or 26,000 Men in our Army at Home, with not a Farthing in our Pockets. After all, it seems hard to be believed that it is in earnest said we are to be Mediators, or at all to interpose, or that we are any ways afraid of the Consequences of the present War in Europe: For some Years ago we were offer'd the Mediation, and then refus'd it; no doubt to shew our Modesty, and that we were not so vain as to take on us to offer Laws to France, a Nation superior to Britain, and whom then we obsequiously courted. And to say, we now dread the Progress of the Arms of the French and their Confederates, one must be tempted to think but a Pretext: For so wise Men as administer the British Affairs did certainly foresee it, and can not be frighted at the Consequences of their own Actions; since all stow'd from the Introduction of Don Carlos into Italy, which was done by our own Fleet. I am, in my own private Opinion, so little persuaded of the Wisdom of that Expedition, that I hope the 30,000 Seamen, voted the other Day, are design'd for a better Purpose; yet it is better to make an ible, tho' expensive Show of them at Spithead, than send them Abroad to do Mischief. And all this appears from our succeeding Conduct; for it would be a high Reflection to suppose the Intelligence of our Ministry so bad, that they knew not of the Alliance when forming betwixt France, Spain and Sardinia, and they could not but see the Consequences of it. Yet they did nothing to stop that Treaty; nor, when it was finish'd, to stop their powerful Armies from entering Italy, where they have had so great Success; and our Trade to which Country is now as precarious as our Trade to Spain: They likewise must have foreseen the Progress of the French Arms on the Rhine; for who did not know, that the Emperor, having a great Army in Italy, was over-power'd by a greater; and that France, in the German War, having nothing to apprehend from Italy or Spain, as in former Wars, could not but be an Over-match for the Emperor on the Rhine? Therefore as all this has happen'd, having been foreseen and help'd on by our own Ministry, the Fear said to arise from thence must be but an affected Pretence, as well as the Mediation which we had formerly refused, and now did not pretend was offer'd to us: Nay, if it was otherwise, yet this Augmentation of our Army is not the right Way to make us considerable in the Mediation, nor a good Way to act for ourselves, since we are not like to be attack'd this Year.
'I can't help taking Notice of what was said by the Gentleman who spoke last, [Mr Duncan Forbes] relating to the Use of Troops in Scotland. I am sorry that such Things should be said of that Country, by a Gentleman whom I regard so much, and whose Worth and Learning I am not a Stranger to: I dare assert the Law, and the Execution of legal Process, in Scotland has free Course without the Assistance of Troops: I have heard of no remarkable Instance of the Interposition of Troops in such Cases; but when it was done illegally by those in Power and Office, to the Oppression of the Subjects, and Overthrow of our Liberties, and contrary to Law; Instances of which I can give, and I hope will in due Time be adverted to, and meet with deserved Rebuke. There are more Instances of Mutiny and Tumult in England than in Scotland; and more Running of Goods in a few Days on the Thames, than in all Scotland for a Year. [Here he related the Manner of drawing up the Regiment in the Abbey-Close at the Election of the Sixteen Peers.] For my Part I know no Good the Army has done in Britain, but making Roads thro' the Mountains of the Scots Highlands, which was performed by a Handful.'
Colonel Handasyde took up Mr Erskine, as if what he had said about the Regiment in the Abbey-Close had reflected on him, whose Regiment it was; and endeavour'd to shew that it was but an ordinary Meeting there, and that nothing could be meant by it, since the Regiment march'd from Town at Mr Dundass's Election: That he deserv'd Thanks, and not Blame, for his Conduct by the Gentlemen of that Country; but that some wish'd there had been Mobs and Tumults, and from their Disappointment proceeded their Complaints.'
Mr Erskine. ; Sir J. Campbell. ; Sir James Campbell call'd to Order, for reflecting on Mr Erskine, on account of his Brother the Earl of Mar's being concern'd in the Rebellion, Anno 1715.
Mr Erskine rising up to reply, Sir James Campbell stood up likewise, and endeavour'd to shew the Necessity of Troops in the Highlands; Urging, 'That they ought to be continued though the Highlanders were, at present, mostly well affected; and gave for Instance the Advantage of having Troops in Scotland in the Year 1715, when the Rebellion was rais'd and carried on by the Earl of Mar, Brother to the honourable Member who had spoke last against the Motion.' Several Members, resenting this Expression as a Reflection on Mr Erskine, call'd out, To Order: Hereupon Mr Erskine stood up again, and said, 'That when he last rose up to speak, it could not be to answer the Member who had now spoke, [Sir James Campbell] for then he had said nothing; and that he might for the same Reason pass by all that the worthy Gentleman had spoke since.' Here Sir James Campbell got up again; but the House would not allow him to interrupt: Then Mr Erskine went on, and said, 'That the honourable Gentleman, who spoke before, [meaning Colonel Handasyde] could not, on the least Reflection, imagine that any Thing said was meant against him, who he had never, that he knew of, seen in his Life till now; and that the Colonel was not then in Scotland, and therefore could not be blam'd for any Thing done by his Regiment: That he blam'd not even his Officers present, not doubting but they had Orders: That this was not the Time to argue that important Matter and fragrant Encroachment on the British Liberties, which might come to be inquir'd into afterwards; yet the Account he had given of it was just, notwithstanding the Answer: That the Regiment had been muster'd, and in the Field but a Day or two before, and therefore the Meeting on that Day was not an ordinary one: That it could not be without a Design, and a bad one too: That on such a Day the three Companies at Leith were march'd to join those at Edinburgh, and kept altogether under Arms during the Election, and then march'd back to Leith: And that other Facts, equally or more gross, could in due Time and Season, be made appear to shew that it was done on a bad Design: That their marching from Edinburgh at the Election for the County, proves only they were not in the Wrong at that Time, tho' they were prodigiously wrong at the Election of the Peers: That the Accusation of wishing for Mobs and Tumults was injurious, and as weak as unjust: That if it was meant against the Majority, what could they gain by it? And still less could the Minority reap any Advantage from it, except to put themselves in the Wrong, when they had no Reason to hope they would meet with Pardon and Indulgence: That Mutiny was the stale Pretence of those, who wanted a Handle to oppress by superior Power: That by Mobbing, the Minority could only expect such Ruin to themselves, as had befallen his Kinsman by the Rebellion, which an honourable Member had, with so much Discretion and Justice, objected to him: That the Objection was so entirely from the Purpose, he would pass it by unanswer'd, as well as the rest of what that honourable Gentleman had said, did not the high Nature of it require him to speak to it: That he had suffer'd more by it than any Man, except his deceas'd Friend and Relation, who was at the Head of it: That his Principle and Conduct, with respect to the present Establishment, ever since he enter'd on the World and Business, had been uniform and firm in all Times and Situations, as every Body knew, who knew him; and as the Objector and his Friends had often acknowledg'd: And if now his greatest Enemies could bring an Instance to the contrary, he consented to have it reckon'd that he had always been a Traitor: That, therefore, if the Occasion of flinging out this at him, and the Air with which it was done, had not look'd so unfavourably, he must, in Justice to the Gentleman who spoke it, have thought he intended to do him Honour; by shewing his Loyalty to have been so unconquerable, that his nearest Relations, and with whom he had so great Connection, could not shake or diminish it.'
Mr Cha. Areskine
Mr Charles Areskine (fn. 2) stood up next, and said, 'That the Abbey and Parliament Close were so far distant, (fn. 3) that the Regiment drawn up in the former could not over-awe the Election at the latter.'