Grey's Debates of the House of Commons: Volume 10. Originally published by T. Becket and P. A. De Hondt, London, 1769.
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Monday, December 11.
Colonel Cornwall.] When the King went first into Flanders, he had not above 8000 English, and was very powerful then. Since that time, 27 or 28,000 Men have been sent over. I should be glad to know, what is become of those Men? We have not want of numbers of Men, nor Officers, but General-Officers—The French took Huy, and then attacked the Camp. If the French had carried the Camp, they had taken all Flanders; at the first Charge, they had cut the Army in pieces—Now we are at the Charge of a Million—We are at the Charge of the whole War, and they (the Allies) go away with the Money.
Sir Thomas Clarges.] I observe, Holland raises the Forces, and they are maintained by the Commons of England. I observe that, formerly, when a Treaty was made, the Commons were acquainted with it—Now you have much greater numbers than formerly. In 1672, the Treaties were brought to the Commons. This is a great undertaking—Now you have a much [greater?] Number sent over than formerly.
Earl of Ranelagh.] There were two Treaties with Hanover; in 1692, and December following; they both name the same number of Men. Towards the payment of the Men, the King of England, and the States of Holland, were to give 30,000 Dollars a Month; which they thought were enough for 7000 Men—The King and the States were to furnish two-thirds of the Rations of Bread and Forage—The King 20,000, and the States 10,000 in a Year, 58,000 Men, and the Dutch the rest. This was the substance of the Treaty in 1692. Hanover was in danger of Denmark, and to keep his Forces together, there was an Augmentation of the King and the States, and, upon this Augmentation, they are continued.
Sir Thomas Clarges.] It is not easy, for such a memory as mine, to recollect things upon once reading. I observe, the Dutch pay but one third; we fifty Ships, and they but thirty. I know not the reason for that. I have heard, that their Ambassadors should say, "That England was an inexhaustible Treasure," and, at that rate, our Meadows must be mowed. I have heard, that the current Cash of Holland is twelve Millions, and ours but eight Millions—The Continent of the Land of Holland is not bigger than Yorkshire. The East India [produce] there this Year, has been three or four Millions—If they out-reason or out-wit us, we are a little unfortunate. They to furnish Honover with 10,000 Crowns, and we 20,000 Crowns— And all this while, we are "An inexhaustible Treasure," and they may say so—This Sum is small, but the Consequence is great.
Sir Christopher Musgrave.] I would not be confined barely to Paper—If this be settled, it must be by some Instrument. I hope we are at liberty to speak to the Papers, because they are referred to this Committee by the House, and are part of the business of the day.
Sir Thomas Clarges.] The additional Forces of the States are 15,000, and those of England between 30 and 40,000, and this, because England is "inexhaustible in Treasure." If this Estimate be admitted, England will maintain 115,100 men there, in Scotland and Ireland; and I take not in the Indies: But, by the way, those in Spain and Catalonia are comprised in the number of their Forces—Those German Forces are in their own Country, and for their Country. But what does the Emperor contribute to our Fleet? France maintains 100,000 Men cheaper than we 40,000 Men—All their General-Officers are paid but half the Year, and their other Officers are reduced. His Fleet's Expence is equal to ours. Sicily revolted to France, but it was so great an Expence they were forced to give it up, though they won a Battle at Sea, when De Ruyter killed.
Mr Harley.] The total of the List of our Men is 93,000. I doubt not but every Gentleman will come up to what is necessary, and the Nation able to bear. I am sorry that Hanover Treaty is brought before you— Being once laid before the House of Commons, I fear it will be drawn in consequence upon us—I hope you will make some Resolution, that this is a greater Proportion than you can bear, and that it be not authenticated by Parliament—You are not told of any Treaty—But I see not yet that those Forces are raised—They have so large a Barrier to maintain by Land, and you by Sea— I hope you will see some more reason for the raising these Men, than from the Gazette.
Sir John Lowther.] I hope, that,at this time of day, you will not discourage the Confederates, by discontinuing what you have allowed formerly. You have that before you, in my poor Opinion, that concerns the Honour of the Nation. You have a powerful Enemy, that carries all before him; and his Government is absolutely opposite to yours, and the Protestant Religion. All his successes have not discouraged the Confederates by discontinuing what they have allowed formerly, either at Sea or Land. No successes of the Enemy have made the Duke of Hanover hearken to Propositions of Peace; nor in Germany, not the Barbarity of destroying one of their greatest Cities, as he would do this City. He must over-run that Country, or bring them to a Peace, Why should they have consideration for us, if we have none for them? No doubt, he would be glad if such a part of the World were subjected to him, either by Conquest, or Peace, out of which we shall certainly be excluded, and then we are a most miserable People. It is said, "We can defend ourselves, if all the World were against us." But it is plain, this concerns England; for the King of France has England in his eye, no other way but to be great at Sea; not Holland, nor Germany, but England is in his eye—If the Dutch be for him, and against us, we cannot cope with him. If he be but one day before you, you cannot get out—If an hour later, and the Wind Easterly, you are lost. If he make a Descent upon you, and come fresh out of his Harbours, he may land where he pleases. No naval Force can defend you, as an alteration of Wind may defend you—When the Alliance of all the Forces is with us, we may be secure —We have to do with a Neighbour that builds upon the Ruins of other Countries. He is now upon his wreck, and all the strait he can be. It is known, he did not pay his Men the last Year, as formerly. Shall we draw back, when at the last push? Let us consider this as Protestants, and I move this short Question, "That the Land-Forces may be increased to the number of 94,000."
Sir Christopher Musgrave.] I will speak only to that part of Hanover Treaty, which, Lowther says, was formerly before you, and what a great discouragement it would be to the Confederacy, &c. But admit this number now, and you can never get it off—It is a strange Argument for us to bear two-thirds, and the Dutch but one. I know not how the King, or his Ministers, will be able to stem it, without the assistance of this House. They are a Continent, and we are an Island; and, if that be the Reason, we are to blame to admit that Reason. At this rate, your Proportion of two-thirds will be multiplied infinitely upon you; and you ought to address the King, that our Proportions may be more reasonably treated. You are told, by Ranelagh, "That 30,000 Dollars are to pay that Army;" but when you pay for Forage and Bread too, in part, I think that the Duke of Hanover's part might be more, now he is a ninth Elector.
Mr Foley.] The Order to the Committee is, "To consider of the 94,000 Men given in, &c." Is England to carry on the War with an unusual Proportion, and other Allies come not up to it? We ought to have a fair bargain. There are no Proposals of a Treaty already made, but what is good for England. Therefore, I move, "That an Address be made to the King, &c."
Mr Smith.] Can Gentlemen tell you, if you come up to this Proportion, that Flanders is reasonably to be preserved? If not, you had better have your Money in your pocket, to preserve yourselves. If that can be done, I can come up to it. If Treaties are ever so unequally made, it is certain, this Year you must come up to them. Show us that Flanders may be saved, if you come up to these Gentlemen.
Mr Palmes.] You debate upon two Questions, but whatever Question you put, Gentlemen may think it hard enough. The Reason of bringing in Hanover Treaty was only to instruct you, what advance to give your Forces the next Year. Our Circumstances are such, that, if you break into these Treaties now, you will discourage your Friends, and encourage your Enemies. I would be thoroughly informed of the reason of your losses last Year, and the reason of increasing your Forces. Till you are well informed, there is no haste for this Question any more than for the other.
Mr Montagu.] This Question must grow to a decision,and I wonder,all this while, that we have been upon a collateral Question. If the Hanover Troops, speak to it, if that be the proper Question. As a ninth Elector, he gives his Quota for Germany. If those Troops are not paid by you, they must by France.
Mr Harley.] I think the Question about Hanover ought to be first put. For what Reason is it referred to you, unless first put to your consideration? You told us, we were not precluded—But a tacit Reservation for the future, [provides] that, for the time to come, better care be taken; and I spoke to this first, before any spoke to the Augmentation. As to his Proportion for Germany, it was said, "he was not an empty Elector," but the Debate now is as to Flanders. This Question is first, in Order, to be put.
General Talmash (fn. 1).] At the beginning, of last Year, the French came with 80,000 Foot, and 35,000 Horse, and did not think the King could defend Flanders against this Force. But his Majesty took his Camp at Park, [near Louvain,] which broke the French Measures. The French afterwards attacked Huy; upon which, the King sent for the Detachment at Liege and Maestricht; but the Governor did not defend the Town so long as he might have done. Afterwards happened the Battle [of Landen,] and if the Enemies had pushed their advantage, Louvain and Mecblin might have been taken. The consequence of losing these great Towns is, the French will afterwards take Nieuport and Ostend. I have been told, Nieuport may be made a good Port. which will annoy our Trade very much; and besides, the Hollanders will be uneasy with such Neighbours: And though they are very willing to do what they can to carry on the War; yet, if the War comes near them, the common People will force them to make an ill Peace, or join with France. If the Committee will increase their Forces, I hope it is the way to make a good Peace. A Peace may now be had, but upon such Terms, as that, before the present Debts are paid, you may be engaged in another War. It may be thought that I, having no Estate, am ready to put the Nation to a great Charge; but, I do declare, I am as weary of the War as any Person, and as desirous to have an end of it: And, though I cannot answer for the success of the War, yet if the House will enable the King to come into the Field with a good Army, they may be able to preserve Flanders: And therefore, I conclude, to move the Committee to augment the Forces for 1694.
Saturday, December 16.
The Earl of Bellamont (fn. 2) presented to the House Articles of Impeachment of High Treason, and other Crimes and Misdemeanors, against Thomas Lord Coningsby, one of the late Lords Justices of Ireland; which were delivered in, and read at the Clerk's Table (fn. 3).
Lord Coningsby.] This is a great Charge. "Traiterously and violently" are the best Words that can be found in it. This matter was before the House last Session, and the House seemed satisfied.—When I found that my service was turned into faults, myself, with Sir Charles Porter, desired a Pardon; as those in my station have done before. The King granted it. I was in the Country when this Lord put in a Caveat, because the matter was depending in Parliament. But I desired no Pardon, and would have had it stopped. Lord Bellamont gave no reason for the Caveat, why the Pardon should be stopped—The King has sent into Ireland to have an Account of this Charge, which was the same in effect at the Council, as this here; and it is now come to a farther Accusation. Most of these things called "Traiterous," most Protestants will tell you, preserved Ireland.—(And so he proceeded to several things for his Defence, &c.) If any thing requires farther explanation from me, I desire a Copy of the Charge.
Earl of Bellamont.] This is a business of consequence, and I cannot trace this Lord in what he has said. But I have good Evidence to prove the Articles. I am a stranger to methods, and I know not whether I am right in forms. I have a Charge against Sir Charles Porter (fn. 4), all the same but to the Charge of Stores, when I have your Order for certain Gentlemen to come out of Ireland—And so went on in aggravating the Charge in several particulars, [and exhibited the same Articles mutatis mutandis against Sir Charles Porter.]
Sir Charles Porter.] This is a great attempt, to defame Men, and bring their Lives and Reputations in question—I have done all for the honour of the King, and the good of Ireland. (And so went on to justify himself as to the Articles.
Sir Edward Seymour.] I remember proceedings in things of this nature. You have heard the Charge. The Persons accused ought to have a Copy of the Charge, and time to bring in their Answer; as formerly has been done. I speak experimentally. I have had a Charge against me, and it was not proceeded in. When they give in their Answer, the next step is for for your proceeding.
Sir John Lowther.] This being an Impeachment against your Members, you will do justice on all sides. They think themselves innocent, and, no doubt, will deny it—They may have a Copy, and give their Answer.
Sir Edward Seymour.] I have told you what related to myself. The Prosecutors against me never pretended to prove the Accusation. I hope that will not be drawn into Precedent. This proceeding is different from other Courts—(Replying upon Sir Francis Winnington) He has a happy remembrance in some things, and forgets others. He said, "Let the Witnesses come, and then we may well judge what it amounts to."—A noble Lord (Orrery) was once impeached here; he put in his Answer; the House thought it frivolous, and put it off to be proceeded at Law (fn. 5) — Then the Evidence was concealed, but now it is at the Door, and you have the Answer of the Party accused.
Sir Christopher Musgrave.] I doubt you cannot deny Copies of the Articles to the Persons accused, and reasonable time to make their Defence. Lord Orrery did only answer in his place. I would gladly know, if such a misfortune should befall a man, whether you would debar him making use of his Paper? But, as for calling Witnesses, I would not admit that; for perhaps the Answers of the Persons may occasion no farther proceedings against them. I would order them a Copy, and not straiten them in time.
Sir Thomas Littleton.] I hope this high Charge against these persons is not true; but it is for their honour to be publickly justified—'Tis impossible to be proved, without Evidence, by general Answer.
Sir Edward Seymour.] You hear this Charge against Sir Richard Reynolds as flatly denied as affirmed. If a man should come and affirm, that I would kill the King, I know no way but to deny it; but when you come to judge it, you will examine whether that man's life and conversation has had any tendency to any such thing. I would do it, in this case. A man in such Employments and Trusts!—This looks not like Common Sense, that he should be guilty of such discourse. A man must be an idiot. I have known him in conversation and judicature, and it cannot enter my thoughts but that he is an honest and prudent man.
Monday, December 18.
Sir John Lowther.] I should be glad to know, whether, if a Lord is in possession of a Commoner's Estate, how, in the frequency of Privilege, the Commoner shall get possession again? And this frequency of Parliaments may put the King upon asking Money—
Sir Eliab Harvey.] In the Long Parliament of Charles II, there was a great Session, and no business to be done but what was before them; and most Gentlemen went out of Town: And then the Bill for Sale of the Fee-farm Rents was brought in, and passed this House—Pray postpone this Clause.
Mr Foley.] One of the greatest Crimes the Minister can be guilty of, is to persuade the King not to pass Bills. I hope that, by no Clause in this Bill, we discharge that obligation on the King to pass Bills. 'Tis the best time you can take to repair the ancient Laws, and I hope you will pass the Bill.
Mr Palmes.] If Gentlemen desire a qualification of this Clause, viz. a Parliament to be holden, I would so do it, as not to lose the essence of the Bill. If you postpone this Clause, you have nothing to debate upon but what you have already thrown out of the House. If Gentlemen would have no Parliament holden, let them say so, or no Bill. If it intrenches upon the Prerogative, or the Liberties of the People, or the great Privilege of the Lords spoken of, debate them; but do not postpone this Clause.
Sir Christopher Musgrave.] All the arguments for postponing the Clause tend to throwing out the Bill. In Charles II's time, a Parliament was held, and no Act passed, nor any Judgment was made in the Lords House. You are told, "This will enlarge the Lords Privilege;" but the Commons will have it as well as the Lords. But you are told, "That this not agreeing with the Lords will make a difference with the Lords, and so you will have no intercourse, and our Allies be lost." I hope Kings will think themselves always bound by their Coronation-Oath; and the King is no more absolved from his CoronationOath, than the Subjects from their Allegiance. I think we have a just Right to Annual Parliaments. If the word "summoning" do offend, you may qualify a Clause for it—But I see that all this Exception is to throw out the Bill.
Mr Wharton.] I would not postpone the Clause, which will give discountenance to it, if not reject it; 'tis so much the Right of the People of England. If annual be too quick, I shall come up to qualifying the Clause, but am not for postponing it.
Mr Montagu.] You are now putting the last Clause, which explains the first, before you debate the first. If Gentlemen will fairly debate the Clause, and qualify it to two or three, [let them]—But I would not tie the House's sense by such a Question—Now you debate upon the Clause, (which was read) I find ambiguity in the word "holden." Some think it "a Session," and others only "to be assembled," but offer qualification. The Government is now as when the annual Statute was made. At that time it was a Judicature, and you were part of it. The King refused this Act once, and it is not for the Crown to give Reasons for it. To have a Parliament annual, it will be too great a burden to the People, and too great a retrenchment to the Crown: I move, That those words "once every Year at least," may not stand in the Bill.
Sir John Lowther.] If this Clause be not explained, as it is penned, you may have wrangling, and the Crown no power to dissolve them. In Judicature, the Lords will not depart from their Power, as you will not do in Money; and if the two Houses will not agree, must the Government stand still? I am therefore for this Clause.
Mr Wharton.] I think this reason now a slender one. 'Tis time, when those inconveniences happen, (which have been mentioned) to look for remedies. 'Twill be in the King's power to dissolve that Parliament, and that is a remedy. Our Ancestors had a Right to annual Parliaments, and I hope you will not take any thing away, though but a supposition of the Right. We have found inconveniences for want of Parliaments, and I hope we shall have such inconveniences no more.
Mr Montagu.] The matter is not "frequent Parliaments," but "not every Year." 'Tis said, "Dissolution makes an end of controversy;" but there may happen such a juncture, before we may have another Parliament, the Year expired; that we know not the inconvenience of tying the Crown down in this case. But passing a Clause so ambiguous, a Law without telling the meaning of it—That of annual Parliaments is as much an antiquated Law as any—Annual Parliaments were never insisted upon—When perhaps it will not be in the King's power to dissolve. You are setting up a Senate of Venice.
Sir Francis Winnington.] "Holden" was a word in all ages, and I wonder it should be thought an ambiguous word. The People are possessed of that word by all your Laws; and by this Proviso of the Lords, you will throw it out.
Friday, December 22.
Sir Edward Seymour.] The dislike I have to this Bill is, because I think it not for the public service. I know not where the thanks of it are due; but I expected the Speaker would have told you of the great disorder of sending down this Bill. If after a Bill be once rejected, and you receive it, you have acknowleged, in some sort, their authority greater than your understandings: Where the remedy is worse than the disease. You have showed your like of frequent Parliaments; you have wiped off the rest of your Laws in this Bill—But now you charge the Electors trouble to come here, and all we do is to be sent home again. This is all the good of the Bill. Though it is faced with other things, yet the intention is dissolving this Parliament. The Question is much altered from the last age, when they thought to perpetuate themselves: The reason was, they were fitted for their business, but this Parliament is not fit, the Lords tell you. We give them powers by it, when every day we are complaining of their Judicature; and this Bill subjects you to their dependence. This is very extraordinary. The King calls you, by his Writ, to advise him, and are you weary of advising him, and would be sent away? This was never so before. It does, in the first part, do nothing but make the thing worse; for, by virtue of this Bill, you may never have Parliaments more. You give the Lords power to dissolve Parliaments; and, as Bathurst said, "This is for the Lords to pay their Debts without Money."
Mr Godolphin.] I hope, that, by the Lords Amendments, you may come to Conference. As for the matter of the Bill, 'tis for frequent calling and electing Parliaments, and for dissolving this—I am against the timing of it—Elections in Boroughs will create heats in Boroughs, and here; and, till you set the manner of Elections right, you repair the top of the house, and neglect the foundation. Besides, in respect of your affairs, you are in War, and must have Men and Money—What are you doing? Now, before you give any of these Supplies, you declare yourselves dissolved, and are ashamed of what you have done—I think this Bill is not for the safety of the Government, and I humbly beg leave to have it rejected.
Sir Christopher Musgrave.] I hear many objections against the Bill that came from the Lords. I think 'tis the Right of either House to send Bills—'Tis not regular to take notice of what is done in either House— There is nothing so much for our Constitution as frequent Parliaments, and, yet, with all this, I am not satisfied with the Bill—As for the Dissolution of this Parliament, I like that well, and I think it absolutely necessary; but when Parliaments meet, I would have them do something. There is no use for explaining the word "holden"—But the last Clause is giving the King power to chuse whether the Parliament shall do Business. If the King calls a Parliament, and twenty, thirty, or forty of the People complain of a Grievance, the King has justified himself, he has a Law to warrant him. If you find that King James the Ist made a long Prorogation, and Charles the Ist was long without Parliaments, this Bill warrants that Clause. The King may call them, and send them home without doing any thing.
Col. Titus.] It is no objection that this Bill came from the Lords. I fear not a good thing from them. We have had none a great while. The Lords prescribe us times when to meet, and when to be dissolved. St Paul desired to be dissolved; but if any of his friends had set him a day, he would not have taken it well of them. Though I desire to be dissolved, shall those, that are not so good Christians as myself, not like advice from friends, though they like it ever so well themselves? As for the disobligation to the People; good Parliaments they desire, and I never saw long Parliaments good ones. A Picture new drawn may be like the person it represents; but in time the colours will fade, and it so alters from itself, that no man can know what it represents. If we would have a Picture like, it must be new drawn— And this Bill is to celebrate their funerals more than their nativities. There are in all things great inconveniences, but where there are greater conveniences [they should prevail]—I am for the Bill.
Sir John Thompson.] I second the Motion for rejection of the last Clause of the Bill. The greatest argument I have heard against the Bill is, that it intrenches upon the King's Prerogative. Every body is tender of the Prerogative, and I hope we are, too, of our Liberties. A word was said, "That the reason of the Invasion of our Liberties was the necessity of present circumstances."—At Oxford, in the Impeachment of Fitzharris, the case was, the Lords would not judge Commons, their Right was to judge none but Peers; and that Parliament was dissolved (fn. 6). But had the Crown then as much necessity for Money as now, they had sat on. Money is the reason of your sitting; and when that is gone, there is no more need of you.
Mr Boscawen.] To the matter of the Proviso. I see no use at all of it, in three or four hundred years. Prorogations have been useful, so may Dissolutions be the only cure, when any difference happens between the two Houses, and is a remedy without this Proviso. I am against it.
[A Motion was made, and the Question being put, That the last Clause in the Bill, viz. "That a Parliament shall be un derstood to be holden, although no Act or Judgment shall pass within the time of their assembly," be lest out of the Bill; it passed in the Negative, 222 to 131. And the Bill was rejected, 197 to 172.
The House then proceeded, according to Order, to hear Witnesses to the Articles against Lord Coningsby and Sir Charles Porter. And the first, second, and fifth Articles were severally read, and several Witnesses severally called in, and examined at the Bar to each of those Articles severally. And several Letters, and Copies of Letters, and other Papers, delivered in by the Earl of Bellamont and the Witnesses, were also read, touching the matter of those Articles.]
[December 23, 26, 28, 29, and 30 (fn. 7), Omitted.]