Debates in 1677: February 21st

Pages 112-130

Grey's Debates of the House of Commons: Volume 4. Originally published by T. Becket and P. A. De Hondt, London, 1769.

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Wednesday, February 21.

In a Grand Committee [on the Supply.]

Mr James Herbert.] Moves to give the King 800,000l. Had we given money the last meeting, we had not been out gone by the French in building of ships now. And he seconds the motion for that sum made yesterday. (Laughed at.)

Sir Francis Russel.] Would have the Secretary of the Navy give you an account of the present state of the Navy. Till you know that, 'tis too early to move for any sum.

Mr Leveson Gower.] Has the King invaded any man's property, or shed any man's blood in vain? You need not be jealous of property and religion. It goes hard with the King to retrench his house, and the pensions, and he has parted with his revenue to pay the bankers debt. Moves therefore that we may supply the King with 600,000l. for building Ships.

Mr Garroway.] He hopes to come to a regular way of Debate, that we may come to come thing we may insist upon—Gower has told you "of the King's retrenchments." Would know whether a sum is demanded for building of ships only. If we give a sum, actum est—Would restrain the Debate, and then he will tell you his thoughts. Till then we are not free to debate.

Sir Thomas Littleton.] If the Debate be restrained, then there is one way; if general, another way. Would have it clear, without implication.

Sir John Morton.] Would go step by step. Would know what to do, to give our voices frankly. It may be for ships, it may be for something more.

Mr Mallet.] Ship-money is a poison and canker, when raised against law; but when by Act of Parliament, an antidote.

Mr Sacheverell.] If we talk of money for any thing but ships, he is against it. But would know why we are now asked more money for ships than we were the last Session. He was never for a full Exchequer, since Lord Arlington was here, who told you "there was money sufficient in the Exchequer, and so no need of calling the Parliament." And when that last war was made, 'twas begun without advice of Parliament —Arlington then told you "that counsel was not secret enough—Counsels not warrantable in their privacy for Parliament, and then the Exchequer was full and no need of a Parliament"—He finds that the counsellors are not yet removed, and we have the same fears still. They then called the Parliament, because they could not be without it. The last Session, we had a Bill depending to call home the English forces out of France, and now we have it for an argument, to make haste with money for the fleet, because of the French, and yet they tell us that 450,000l. has been spent yearly upon the Navy. Are not the same Ministers still at Court, and are not new forces sent over since the last Session, notwithstanding our Bill? He shall never expect the Parliament will meet again if the Exchequer be full of money—How safely to lodge such a sum of money in those hands, who still manage the same counsels, he leaves it to you.

Sir Thomas Meres.] He fears we are not richer, but poorer, than we were—Rents fall since the last Session. No money in the country; all comes to London—The King, by the excise, has twice the rents of our corn —And he will venture to show you that there is no need of giving now. There is no demonstration like proof of fact done—He told you the last Session, "They could live at Whitehall without your money;" and they have done so since, and may do so fourteen months more. But it seems 'twas much more easy to be without us; for we find faults, and see great spots —But to that he will speak another time. The Wine Act, and the additional excise, were granted to pay the King's debts—(Would not have those Acts thought an additional revenue.) But still finds no debts are paid. He has by him the particulars of the King's debts, given in by Sir Robert Long; 1,300,000l. and these Acts were to pay these debts to the Bankers—And there was a subsidy granted, over and above. All which amounted to 2,400,000l. for ships still, but none built, and these Acts are afterwards called in the King's Speech "a revenue," though they are not so entered in your books—The clause of transferring these debts was proffered, but laid aside. The intention of it was, that this money should go on to pay the King's debts —This was afterwards by some called "a revenue." But yet ships are not built, and debts not paid, since 1670. He esteems the revenue, besides these two Acts, to be between 1,100,000l. and 1,200,000l.—And after the Parliament was prorogued, the Dutch war was made, and the league with France, the Triple League broken. And the reason of all this was plain; they needed not the Parliament—The Exchequer was stopped, though sacredly promised to be opened again— The Declaration was put out, by which thirty laws were suspended at one breakfast, and cut off. And it may be as many at another time—And people were thereby so let loose in Religion as never to be reclaimed, and it was bought off with 700,000l.—But still they have money in the Treasury—And therefore no Parliament. Then the Dutch war was made, and we were called—But did ever any age know such a war made without advice of Parliament? 'Twas not prudent to make such a war, as an equal neighbour to be maintained with our money—If we do prudently, 'twill be a mighty mischief to give an additional revenue. Your Parliament by it is of no effect nor use; and he shall never expect good, till this additional revenue goes off. It is so great they will need no Parliament, and you will be turned off at least six years. 'Tis money that makes a Parliament considerable, and nothing else. Now for the sum, show him the good of giving it, and he will give. But with locks and bolts—For will never trust "that steward (as a gentleman [Titus] said the last Session,) who has once cheated him."

Mr Secretary Coventry.] Wonders you should be told "that the Declaration was brought off with 700,000l." He never knew that the King sold his laws, to buy merchandize, and pay wages with the same money. But 'tis said, "why should we be asked more money now than the last Session?" 'Tis because the French have built twenty ships more since last year—And since Whitehall has been put to such streights, that it has been near dying. And told a story "about starving a Horse."

Sir Thomas Lee.] Enquire, if the horse be almost starved, what great gifts have been given since we met last, and you will find that the starving case is not much in the way—Whether the Triple League be broken, or not, he knows not how to make it whole—The effect of that buying off the Declaration for 700,000l. was that we were but restored to our own—Would know what number of ships we have for our safety, to know the better what to do—'Tis every man's interest that the King should defend us—Now, whether by comparative interest, France grows richer, and we poorer—If by raising more money in time of peace than war, we be so disabled, when there is a real occasion by war, consider it.

Mr Pepys.] He should be an ill servant both to the King and you, if he should not tell you all the truth. Finds it industriously spread that great sums have been given the King—That's a great mistake—From the year 1670 there have been built from the stocks, six ships, great and small. His head shall be at stake for every syllable he shall say in matter of fact. He will go backward, as other gentlemen have done. The King's expending on the Navy has been much greater than we think—Take this retrospect. The condition the King found the Navy in, at his Restoration, was, in number and size, beyond any before. 151 sail the King took possession of, but should be sorry it were now in so foul a pickle. The debt then upon the Navy was 780,000l. he has Col. Birch's hand for it; 350,000l. due for seamens wages, for the ships that were abroad; some had been 50, 40, 30, weeks at Cadiz—which had been at Jamaica. For wear and tear, for four years continued, they were unpaid. For stores they had occasion, for sitting forth Algiers war, which is now made but a little matter. After a fresh debt for stores in the Admiralty-Office, he declares there were not then to be had commanding stores for six ships more—There were then seventeen ships, and upon inquisition they were unserviceable and unworthy repair. Sixteen of them were rebuilt from the bottom, and thirty-four rebuilt from the waist upwards, and this is the picture of the fleet, as the King found it. Two parts of this debt upon the Navy were taken care of by this House, as wages and debts for stores, but not one farthing given upon the head of "wear and tear;" and in that condition the fleet was. To set it in some order, all was disbursed out of the King's purse. As idle and useless as the care of the officers of the Navy has been represented, yet the fleet was able to meet the Dutch in 1664, 1666, 1667, and 'twas followed with breaches with Algiers, and Sallee too. From the King's coming to 1664, not one year was entirely free from war. Yet the King has built more ships from the stocks, than all his predecessors from the conquest; ninety, great and small, from the year 1660 to this day. As to the ill disposal of money alleged, in the year 1670, he answers, fifty ships were launched in 1667, and there was not one month that the docks in the yards were empty, without either ships built, or repaired. If you ask then, what condition the Navy is now in, at this day? He answers, the King has not 157 ships. The whole number is but 150. But if the fleet was the strongest that was known before in 1660, yet at this day 'tis better than then; more in tonnage, men, and guns. 'Tis indeed out of repair, but yet not so low as when the King came in. In short, you may judge of the condition of the fleet, by the sum that will enable the whole to go to sea, with magazines for recruits; 300,000l. for this. If the King's occasions would have permitted him, in 1668, to have spared 200,000l. for the Navy, it would not have been in this condition now—The King has not spent this year on the Navy less than 400,000l. He will give it under his hand, that that hand may be witness against his head, if it be not so. Take peace alone, without war, and this is the charge—And could the King's occasions honourably have drawn him into it, he would have spent more. It cost the King to repair what he may call yours 400,000l. What then do you so much deplore? That we have not been so anxious as to equality of ships with our neighbours? You must either be above or under balance; you are never equal with them. But how then this disproportion under the Dutch and French? It cannot be imputed to the King, nor his time; you must go more early than the King's return. In 1652, and 1653, we hired above 90 merchants ships. The Dutch never fought us, generally, speaking, under that number. 'Twas the great old ships that did the service against the Dutch, built by our royal master's father, Charles I. Old Trump left it as his dying lesson to the States, always to have ready 36 capital ships; and for want of that they have overtaken us. As for the French fleet, it is not to be wondered at; for besides the great odds of that King's revenue, there has been no interruption of his growth at sea—And 'tis to be wondered that his ministers saw it not sooner upon England, that has scarce had one entire peaceable year, since the King's Restoration. The King found the nation in a war with Spain, he fought, and he built ships again, as he lost them; and 'tis a wonder, our losses considered, that he has not more overtaken us in his building—And yet more ships have been built in these sixteen years of the King's return, than in eighteen of rebellion. In his conscience he thinks this to be truth, and therefore says it; though it has gone through as many difficulties as any other management in any age whatsoever. By the King's personal application to building ships, skill has been advanced, beyond any memory of man, and, perhaps, beyond any improvement. More docks have been built—No age, at one time, had so many encouragements for navigation. Has any time produced better encouragements for building ships, and provisions for flag officers? Most august is the King's seminary for seamen. From a little hospital, no charitable foundation is endowed like it. But hears it said, "why do you ask more for the Navy than in the last Session?" He would be tender of straining the number we want, but cannot depart from thirty ships more. The French and Dutch are daily building. The number is not new, and "that our neighbours will be yet more than we," he does not think, because we were over swayed before, rather by the length of the Debate than by reasons, and not one proof was made last Session, of his over-measuring either tons, or rates. He closes, and moves for 30 ships, the same number he formerly proposed.

Col. Birch.] Pepys's opportunities of knowing are as good as his abilities. He said "he had Birch's hand to something;" he knows not what it was till he sees it. He remembers not one penny unpaid, when the King took the fleet into his charge—Look in the years 1653, 1654, and 1657; for then he came to understand something of the Navy—But Pepys has not gone by his measures. In those days, the measures for wear and tear, and all other things relating to the Navy, were managed completely at 4l. a head, and 3l. 15s. and looked upon as a lavish allowance then—If Pepys will tell you what number of ships were employed for summer-guard, and what for winter-guard, he can tell how to judge of the charge; but not till then. That is the way to see whether there has been good, or bad husbandry. In 1653, when money was called for (in a Convention) for the navy security, 'twas then offered to set the fleet out, in war, as well as in peace, and warranted for 4l. a head, and he himself would have offered a good price, to have been the manager of it, at that rate. In the Dutch war, in 1653, the Navy had not the strength it has now; but they fought yardarm and yard-arm, which is not the fashion now. Though they had great ships, yet mettled men did it. But the thing is now, what is to be done? He wishes the King may have his delight in the fleet, fully to his satisfaction; especially when 'tis so much for the safety of the Kingdom—So many ships, he believes, are built as you have been told, but whether so much money has been spent upon them as you have been told, that he must farther examine—Pepys tells you, "he asks no more than thirty ships now"—He would have neither the French nor the Dutch named, but would do the business quietly. What dangers we are in he knows not, but he has observed that when the officers are merry, the soldiers are not in danger; and he believes so of our Counsellors—'Tis now so ordered, but he knows not how. 'Tis said "there was a difference between the Lords, and us; and therefore the last Prorogation was to end it." But two days Prorogation would have done that, without such a length of time. If the danger be so extraordinary as represented, all hands and docks would have been employed these sixteen months. Will by-standers believe us to be in such danger? If the last time we had been prorogued to September, then we might have had time, but we were called now not till February—It seems an effect of a treaty rather than any thing else. But he would now give so much money as may serve till we, or somebody else, [come hither again.] For 600,000l. to make a provision for three years! Pepys might as well told him nothing. There can be no good shot made without a mark—But he hears that "nothing but plain necessity brings us hither." He knows why the Excise-bill, and Law-bill, and Wine-bill were not appropriated. The danger was they should pay debts—He would shut the hall door first. The greatest defence of the nation is a good understanding between the King and Parliament —After fifteen months Prorogation, the people are a little afraid of us—But he would show you how we may build these ships betwixt this and the 25th of March twelve-month — Ninety-five thousand pounds formerly set out the fleet, and he would give that money which may build it in that time, and no more.

Mr Garroway.] Pepys told you "that the last Session we had no motion for the fleet worth remembrance," and now a great sum is moved for, and we know not for what—No debts have been paid, and therefore it concerns us that no more money should be given, but what may be employed in one year. The last Session you enquired into the docks, slips, and launches, and then you agreed you could build but twenty ships in one year. In the value of 4l. a head, stores were paid for; and they that undertake that rate, will venture the ships or pay for them, at that rate, wear and tear, and all. He observes one thing, he knows not whether there be a Lord Admiral to have recourse to, that, in these great emergencies, we may trust and know whom to call upon. Though little people make overtures, we cannot rest upon them. We are under no other obligation than to the King, for else we make, by giving money, a supplement to neglect and waste— Not to hide their faults, but for fear of more mischief. Whatever presumptions or hopes we have, he believes all treaty with France will be like the Pyrenean treaty; to invade Flanders the next year—Would grant no more money than we may build with in one year.

Sir Thomas Littleton.] The sum proposed for twenty ships he offers double—Would have the Question, for expedition, to be "for a supply of 400,000l. for building ships." Formerly 300,000l. was thought sufficient, but proposes this sum for the present building twenty ships, and providing stores.

Sir John Ernly.] He hears proposed "400,000l. for building twenty ships;" this is positively to say but ten shall be built; so many provisions depend on wind and weather—We are not safe under thirty sail, and would not say positively they shall be built in a year; for no man can say it. The spring comes on, and you must look out for materials. To have it said abroad "you will build but twenty ships." 'Twill be laughed at! Therefore pass no vote under thirty ships.

Mr Pepys.] If any one ask him, how long thirty ships will be building, he must look over several necessaries, as docks, men, hands, master builders, materials, and money—He knows not a fifth thing. He submits the rates as he proposed them the last Session (fn. 1), and places of building. Materials are not doubted to be had, but from abroad; as canvass, and the rest. If there be provision of money, all the rest will not fail you.

Mr Garroway.] The great thing is money; all the rest is confessed—Else if not all built in a year, timber may be immediately bought, and no need at present for cordage, and sails, &c.—And take convenient time—He would be glad to see, a twelve month hence, eighteen of these twenty ships built. Let us once come to see the thing done, and an earnest-penny, and not be put off with words any more. The last time we met, it may be if we had given money for twelve ships, we might have made them up now thirty more.

Mr Pepys.] When twenty ships are built, would you stand still, and send for more materials? Timber to day, and plank to-morrow, and sunshine must tell you what it is. Thirty ships are not moved for the money's sake, but that hands may not stand idle.

Lord Cavendish.] Pepys said, "Will you have the Navy stand still?" But he hopes that before a year the Parliament may meet again, unless this money we give shall enable the Ministers to govern without a Parliament. The King, he believes, is far from it, but they are to be suspected.

Mr Secretary Williamson.] He hopes there are no such Ministers as are spoken of; he knows none such— The Question is fair before you, to proportion our strength with our neighbours. Any sum he has heard yet named, will come far short of the whole work. He hopes you will supply the rest. But would have no jealousies—The rest must be made up, and the other occasions of the government will call for you again—There is nothing asked for now, but what is necessary, and to be laid out for no other purpose.

Mr Vaughan.] We are voting our ruin in giving more than will built twenty ships, when tis said to be impossible to build above twenty ships in one year. It may be there is a necessity of disposing of the rest as well as the over-plus. Jealousies, tis said, fly about the House—Are you jealous of our return again? Therefore he must join with those that think that sum is enough, 400,000l. If we give more, he doubts it will be ill employed.

Sir William Coventry.] What calls him up is what fell from Temple, viz. "If the King heard you he would give you no thanks"—The thing is of too much importance to let go. He calls them "the Parliamentships"—Hopes we shall have no more of that here. Temple said, "what we give, we give not to the King, but for our own defence. "He hopes there will be no such distinctions made here any more betwixt the King and his people—'Twill be of ill renown to the Parliament to say they will build thirty ships, and build but twenty. These ships are not to be built in a closet. The money, number, names, and dimensions will be all known, and the money now sacred in the Exchequer—And what condition are the rest in! One is a judge of your will, the other of your impotency—Then we shall be under the contempt of the world, and hardly ever able to recover that; (the saying more, and doing less)—But would not declare you cannot do more—Would take the same measures you did the last Session, and then no man said, there wanted above twenty ships—For the justification of the undertakers, he would not impose that which cannot be perfected. 'Tis honour in councils, as well as in fight, to keep steady. He would not rise upon a Session, without cause, to give invitation to a new Prorogation, to cut off all those hopes we have before us, by refusing a less sum that a greater may be obtained—He wishes the business dispatched, and at so much a ton, as was rated, last Session, when you voted 300,000l. which, 'twas objected then, would not only build, but fit and prepare the fleet for sea. He will not put you back to new calculations; but owns not that to be a fund for furnishing out—'Tis said "that five years ago, there was a war entered into, because it might be done without Parliament." But if rules had been taken out of Parliament for the last war, we should not have greatened France by it—The groans of the people are for it, and he wishes that their fears and terrors are not too— But that war has greatened France—Docks and havens, that merchants affairs may go on, (as those sort of men must be supplied) being in hazard. If we are not called to fitting up these in another Session, he hopes some of this money may be spared. If 300,000l. will build twenty ships, 100,000l. will provide stores, and those things—Above all things, would not speak bigger than we can perform, and would have 400,000l. &c.

Sir William Coventry, upon Temple's explanation of himself, jestingly.] Because it will tend to the shortening your time, and quieting the House, that he should be in the wrong rather than Temple, he will confess himself so.

Sir Thomas Meres.] Because his Majesty says so, Temple may well say so too. But be the sum 3, or 400,000l. would have the words "not exceeding." He never saw so dispassionate a proceeding, that whole week we were upon this of the Navy, the last Session, and 'twas then also voted, "no other tax should be granted that Session."

Sir Henry Capel.] France's building these great number of ships is not for trade, but conquest—Would go therefore on, but like sober men, not to give money in a lump, without asking questions, and making enquiry. He agrees to the motion of 400,000l. that we may have occasion to come hither again, in some reasonable time, to see how that is expended, and then supply the rest.

Mr Neale.] Is glad to see the opinion of the House, that 400,000l. will do this work. He moved for 600,000l. for stores; considering the hazard in carrying out the Gottenburgh fleet ten months, and many have been taken.—

Mr Finch.] The necessity is so great, that he thinks we are bound to do something. As for ships, &c. he thinks it agreed what number we should build, and would not restrain it to too narrow terms. Thirty ships have been proposed, and they reduced to twenty. If ever trade was, 'tis now, at stake. 'Tis by the grace of the King, and the providence of God, that we are in peace, and meet here now. You have been told by persons that understand the condition of the Navy better than he, "that 600,000l. will be requisite to put us in some equality with our neighbours," and, "that 'tis impossible the money should be embezzelled."—Let no formal suggestion cool you in the matter.—Let us not lie down and sink under the weight, now the science is represented. But the country is not obliged to them that raised these jealousies. Our liberties, and all we have, depend much upon the greatness of our neighbours, and if care be not taken, we may have just such a dominion of the sea, as we have of France; and all may become tenants to England, by courtesy of France. You are told of ships, "that they are nothing to unity at home."—We have had several Sessions without any public Bills, and of the Prorogations he'll say nothing—Moves that we may give a demonstration to the King that he has the hearts of his people, and that we may do to him what he has done to us. He has generously and spontaneously delivered himself up to this Parliament— Moves for 600,000l.

Sir George Downing.] Whatever is bestowed on building ships makes a Parliament still more necessary. For the King must have supply to support them, and so there is no danger of our not meeting. Here is not one that says, thirty ships are not necessary. This great fleet of France can intend no other neighbour than we. Now for him to build ships in the great occasion he has for land-armies, this must be against us —But neither twenty, nor ten, nor five ships can be built by us this year. No merchant will put one plank into the outside of a ship that has not lain twelve months. A proposition was made to the States of Holland to build them a frigate in six weeks, and so on; but the planks were all found, laid dry, and prepared. There are thirty ships necessary to go in hand with, and now is the cheapest time to buy timber. Therefore moves for 600,000l. for present going in hand with thirty ships.

Sir Thomas Lee.] Downing said, "Now is the cheapest time to buy timber, because now ships are least used." He knows not how Sicily, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, and France have employment for so many ships, if that be so—If so great a sum be raised, as is mentioned, and we can build so few ships in a year, what will become of all that money we are to give now? Shall it lie dead? Shall so great a sum be locked up in a chest? We are told, "No public Bill passed, the last Session." The consequence is, without money we shall never have one. 'Tis said, "the difference between the Lords and us occasioned the Prorogation." Which, if we hear nothing of difference, might have been as well hindered then as now if we had given money. If 300,000l. the last time, was thought enough, and now 400,000l. is demanded, this, he thinks, will build more ships than is proposed—He hopes that temper, and difference, betwixt the Lords and us, will be no reason for money, or no money—He would not have the temptation of breaking an Act of Parliament again, by giving too big a sum, which caused the shutting of the Exchequer, and the employing the money to other uses.

Sir John Hanmer.] In any loyal country no man would mention less for this purpose than 600,000l, Exception was taken at it, but it passed over.

Mr Secretary Coventry.] It was agreed that the proportion of 300,000l. was for building twenty ships, and 400,000l. for thirty, but not what could be done in one year for building. To-day is to-day, to-morrow is to-morrow. The Hollonders, if they compliment you to day, will question you, perhaps shortly, if they make peace. They have materials ready for ships to a pin, as Venice had for galleys, when they made and launched one while Henry III, of France was at dinner. What will the difference of stores be, fetched in time of peace, in their prices? And perhaps they will not let them go at all. If the King has any Ministers that advise him to raise money without a Parliament, 'tis more than he knows, —And there are none, and he is assured the King has no such thoughts; and that he has more understanding than to rule so.—If any man knows such Ministers, let them be named. Moves for 600,000l. as before.

Mr Powle.] He is convinced, by this day's Debate, that a supply is best to be given, when grievances are redressed; and thinks we have great reason for diftrust of the mismanagement of money, and that 'tis not laid out for the purpose it was given. Hears it said, "that the King has built more ships than all his predecessors." If that be true, 'tis as true that the subject has given more money than has been given since the conquest, things standing thus, and grievances not redressed, and the Prorogation frustrating us. Since 1670, we have had but one Session, and things were then towards a good conclusion.—Has heard it said, "That 400,000l. has been yearly spent upon the Navy." And yet there is hardly a man of war to carry the flag in the Downs; and such depredations have been made upon our merchant-men, that it seems almost impossible that 400,000l. should have been yearly spent. At the beginning of the last war there was invading of properties, and not above 400,000l. in the Exchequer; and that being surprized made more clamour—And now 600,000l. may turn the whole scale; to trust such sums in the Exchequer, and have no prospect to stand better at home, and abroad!—Looking to alliances abroad is worth a hundred ships.—'Twas said formerly, "We could not look the Dutch in the face, without help of the French." He fears now, we cannot look the French in the face, without help of the Dutch; and yet we assist the French with our levies.—Should we have an unfortunate war, all next winter, to supply the defects in winter (ships will be else without convoy) that may be considered. Has heard it said "that the workmanship of the Navy will come to half the charge." Would have the lesser sum, mentioned first, put to the Question—The greater cannot be without danger.

Mr Secretary Coventry.] Would have it considered, whether they will not heighten the value of their alliances, whom you seem to favour here.

Mr Powle.] 'Twould not become him, nor you that hear him,—to debate war and peace here—But war and peace were debated here, in King James's time, in the business of the Palatinate, and therefore it may be now.

Mr Secretary Coventry.] The Address was altered in this Parliament upon that subject.

Sir Thomas Littleton.] The Question is now, Whether a greater sum or a less.—He observes only, that 400,000l. may be better appropriated than a greater —As to foreign affairs, they are the great Grievance, and perhaps the greatest. A man in his house finds it amiss, and he finds fault with the sweeping it, when his house is falling. This alliance with France carries the Pope in the belly of it; and there is great jealousy that this money to be raised is in aid of the King of France. He was taken down to Order.

The Speaker.] Littleton ought to go on, for probably what he said he may explain, before he ends his discourse.

Sir Thomas Littleton goes on.] There have been great jealousies of the rise and aggrandizing of the King of France, lately. It increases our jealousies, that, at least, by connivance, so many men are going over to his service—Another thing is behind; you are told of "no breach of the Triple League." He will not say there was, or was not, nor that a person at the Bar justified the taking the Smyrna fleet—The Triple League is restrained, he will not say 'tis broken, nor kept, but at the same time there was a mutual league of defence, and after that a guarantee of mutual defence; Holland to assist England with 40 ships and 6000 men, and England to do the same for Holland. This, strictly speaking, is not the Triple League, but a necessary concomitant to it. How far taking the Smyrna fleet was assisting the Hollander, leaves you to judge; or the assisting France with the Duke of Monmouth's forces, at the taking Maestricht. The thing was so, but God forgive them that were the occasion of it! But he hopes we shall not give money now to do the same thing again—France is less formidable if it has no influence upon our counsels—He must not ravel into treaties, but may say 'tis an easy matter to cure this formidableness of the French—But because 'tis not done occasions the jealousy. For we place our security under his greatness rather than in our own. He speaks with a good mind of service to his King and country. Therefore would give such a sum as may endanger nothing of this nature.

Sir Harbottle Grimstone.] Considering the poverty of the nation, this money cannot be raised here on the country, and fears that it is not to be found in specie.

Sir Thomas Meres.] Anciently, the effects of the sea maintained the sea, but not the land. But if it must be so now, 400,000l. is enough in conscience, considering that the Customs, which ought to build ships, and were given for that purpose, are 600,000l. per ann.

Mr Pepys.] He has not named a sum yet, and he avoids it. And would speak of no more than will build thirty ships. Building of ships in a great measure is as other things are done; thirty ships are much sooner gone through than fewer. The greatest difficulty is want of materials, without which he cannot give himself up to the security of building—When all lies at stake for a little supply of money, would you not give it?

Mr Papillon.] There may very well be spared 50,000l. for stores, out of this sum, by former calculations.

Sir William Coventry.] After the rates given in the last Session, twenty ships may be ready built to put into the water for 280,000l. and hopes, by Downing's speaking of "the Holland methods of building," ten sail more may be done for 200,000l. But would know what has been confuted to day of the resolution of the last Session about these ships? But people would be glad to hear for, or against, whom they must go to sea. If our ancestors consulted their ability and their country before they granted money, 'tis reasonable we should give them that sent us hither a reason why we granted so much money, and carry our justification home with us to tell them the reason. The last Session we were asked, why we gave the King but twenty ships? And we answered, because no more could be built in a year. The last Session we gave 300,000l. for twenty ships, and now 400,000l. &c. This is but an indifferent account—The people may be satisfied with the ships, but not with the increase of the money. He never heard that above twenty ships were needful, and few were positive in that assertion—He moves, that if the calculation be right of twenty ships; we may give 400,000l. and that will build thirty ships.

The Speaker.] He'll speak to money applied to the service of the Navy—He has served the King three years, as Treasurer of the Navy, and, in a year and a half, he has received for that use 1,500,000l. and the next year 700,000l. And will make no difficulty to prove it at two hours warning. We are brought now to the Question of giving 4 or 600,000l. Coventry is cautious in giving his country an account of the money, and we all agree that thirty sail is requisite; but the Question is, whether they can be built in a year, and we can provide materials? Would now certainly provide materials, and it may be, if Coventry have so intelligent a Borough as to catechize him, he may thus answer: "If these supplies are not applied to the use they are given, you have as much security almost as an Act of Parliament can give for it." He believes no man is of opinion that the giving 600,000l. now, will delay our meeting again here—The Order of putting the lesser sum first to the Question, is not violated by putting the previous Question.

Sir Wm Coventry.] He serves for a maritime Borough [Great Yarmouth] and Seymour for an inland [Hindon.] In maritime Boroughs they know accounts, and so he may be put to it. This account given in here (Seymour's account of the ships) being beyond his way of calculation, he knows not what to say to it, when 300,000l will do for twenty ships, and 400,000l. will not do for thirty.

Resolved, That it is the opinion of the Committee, that a supply be given to his Majesty for the building of ships not exceeding 600,000l. [Agreed to by the House.]

The Previous Question being put, was carried in the affirmative, 199 to 165 (fn. 2). [To proceed on Tuesday.]


  • 1. See Vol. III. p. 327.
  • 2. This division is not mentioned in the Journal.