Grey's Debates of the House of Commons: Volume 5. Originally published by T. Becket and P. A. De Hondt, London, 1769.
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Wednesday, February 6.
The Farmers of the Hearth-money attending without, according to an Order of the House, and being called in, the Speaker told them of a Complaint against them, of abuses in the collecting that duty; and they were ordered to leave their Patent with the Serjeant, and attend the House again on Friday next.
The Speaker desired the House to appoint a day to consider of the Adjournment of the House, complained of as before, and if he be not otherwise ordered by the House, he shall do the same thing again upon the next occasion, &c.
Mr Mallet.] You are very valiant, Mr Speaker, to invite the House to a consideration of your irregular Adjournment; which puts me in mind of a story of Cardinal Mazarine. In a disgrace he had at Court, a price was set upon his Head, to any man that would bring him in. He comes in of himself, and challenges the Sum. He was a prudent person, and we have had the effects of it to our cost.
Sir Edward Dering, being called to the Chair of the Grand Committee, excused it thus.] I desire to be excused from this Service, by reason of my unskilfulness in so great a matter, which requires a person of greater authority than I am of. Besides, I have an indisposition at present upon me, which renders me incapable of that service, and I humbly desire to be excused.
Mr Sacheverell.] I am far now from desiring to see the Leagues we are entered into. I take it for granted, from the honourable persons, that they were made before the Alliances were settled. But since we have not seen the Alliances, and it is not thought fit that we should see them, we cannot take adequate measures to the proportions of Aid required from us. But to show that I have no design, and am clear in that point, which I have always professed, which is my service to his Majesty, I would have such a Supply granted as may put the King in a condition, in case, he go into a War, and then I believe there is no danger of showing us these things we have desired, which were not to be seen when there were uncertainties of Supply. Therefore I move that you would name a sum, in the Committee, to put the King into such a state.
Mr Garroway.] I never fear that the King will not let us know measures adequate for so great a work, as we are upon; and I embrace Sacheverell's Motion, to go by that way to agree a sum in the Committee.
Mr Secretary Williamson.] 'Tis necessary, before a man can knowingly name a sum, as is moved, to make the scale you will measure by of the force you will employ. Till that be known, no man can think of, much more name, a sum. Gentlemen say, "they would give to encourage the King to go into a War," and then they are in expectation of a discovery of those Alliances, and would know what the War is. Whatever is not known, this is; that they are Alliances according to your desires, as much as if you saw every word of the Treaty. Plainly the obligation of it is an offensive and defensive Treaty, and you must go into it with your whole strength. The Treaty, as to this point, shows no more, if you saw every word of it. As to the naval force, the King is to send to the West Indies, if they be attacked, Holland not having the same proportion of concern there as we. There is nothing asserted in the Treaty as to that; perhaps we may bear a fourth part with Holland. But in these Seas, and the Mediterranean, they come in equally with us, and for freeing the Northern Navigation we come equally in with them. In the Soundings, and in the mouth of the Western Ocean, forty sail are to be ready, and are to wait for Commissions to move as they shall be appointed. The Governor of Britany, the Duke of Chaulnes has a hundred Privateers ready, and these are the stations where the naval force is to be employed. The concert with Holland stands thus. And as for proportioning the Supply for this matter, you may do it just now for six months hence farther. If you had every Letter or Paper I have, I can inform you no farther.
Mr Secretary Coventry.] There is a country called Ireland. If that be seized upon by the French, and they send a detachment thither, it will furnish them men. Therefore consider what your force must be to guard Ireland. So that you must consider this charge for ships, as well as the Mediterranean and West Indies.
Sir Thomas Lee.] England has once paid 1,800,000 l. for a fleet, when no fleet was set out. Therefore I move for a proportion for the fleet requisite; but not for it, till they are actually at sea; left, by the temptation of so much money, we have again no fleet at all. But if you will consider such a sum for the whole, that the King may actually enter into War, I am for it. But if we are to give now, as if it were a War already, and yet no War, I am not for giving money towards it.
Sir Thomas Clarges.] The honourable persons at the Bar adhered to 40,000 men, and ninety sail of ships, for this War, as if the War was already declared. This charge was maintained at nothing near so great a rate, when both France and Holland were against us. We had not then ninety capital ships, besides the ordinary charge. We are therefore to consider that now we have one powerful Ally, which we had not not then. If we have but eighty sail joined in the whole, we shall not hear a word from St Maloes, or Brest. The Dutch had not forty sail, fire ships and all, when they alarmed all France; and it took away that year from the King of France all the tax of the marine towns; which were three taxes, Salt, Land-tax, and the Imposts; and yet Holland possessed themselves of no places. But had Holland been able to have maintained that fleet upon the French coast for two or three years, France had been ruined by it. Twenty eight thousand five hundred pounds a month was the charge, when we had War with Holland and France, and we know what that comes to in a year. If there be a War, here are only two regiments raised, the Marine, and one out of Holland, and some regiments we have filled up. If it were a War, we have 8000 men coming out of France. It was well moved to consider what to provide for the present, and when we have actual War. We may meet again in winter, and pay off the ships.
Mr Secretary Coventry.] What will you allot for the Mediterranean Sea, Ireland, and the Indies? If these be not guarded, they will be lost. The Gentleman considers not what that cost Holland, which he did upon France; and will not the loss of the Straits trade and Ireland be more loss than 'twill be a charge to defend, as has been proposed? Do not spare the people in a tax to damage the people greater in a loss. I would have it answered, where shipping has been offered to be placed where there needs no shipping for guards?
Mr Mallet.] If the Ministers will be clear with us, and their Master give them Commission to be so; and if the War be to suppress the power of France, Popery, and Idolatry, I would give such a sum as was never named in this House before. But that being not named, I advise moderate things for the present. I hope great good may come by the marriage of the Prince of Orange, and the King has been at a charge for it; but, for the present, I would have a moderate sum. I look upon the King of France as a Tyrant, and the Protector of Rome; and I would know what banners we are to fight under; and till then I would give but a very moderate sum.
Sir Tho. Meres.] Since 'tis not thought fit that we should see the Alliances entered into, as I showed a readiness last night to wave the Question for seeing them, I now wave the Question for seeing them, though I could offer new reasons why we should see them—The words added to the Question last were not in the least intended to be inductive to see the Alliances; but the honourable persons must pardon me, if I walk not so fast in the dark as in the light, when I believe it will be either no War or a short War, and then the less money will serve, if for the preservation of what remains of the Spanish Netherlands only. But if I saw Alliances to repell France from what he has already got of the Netherlands, then I would go a greater way to support the Alliances. These sums mentioned are very fair sums, to carry the thing on. They who are to pay the money, and not to receive it, are for giving lesser sums. I expect never to see a penny of what we shall give again; and I would not hazard the naming of sums. But a Gentleman has hinted them. But I must go to this now; the War is declared for the preservation of the Spanish Netherlands, and to lessen the power of France. And I would give money "for that War;" and there is your definition. The words are "towards a War," not "for a War." There is your War for the Spanish Netherlands. But if I could add two or three words for a sum of money, I fear I shall displease both sides; and I have so much wit as not to do that; and therefore I will sit down a while longer.
Sir Thomas Clarges.] When I speak of forty ships for us, and forty for Holland, my meaning is, besides our ordinary Guards at Sea; and will not the Customs supply eighty ships? Holland and we, thus joined, will shut up the ports of France, so that they can do hurt with their privateers no where else. 'Tis not the number of ships France has in her ports that can hurt us; they must be manned; and what trade have the French, but to the West Indies? Our bulky Coal-trade makes th Seamen. A hundred thousand pounds in Silks is in the bulk of one hundred ton of Salt; and that is fetched from them; they carry it not. I value not their ships; without men to manage them, they are insignificant. We have our own guards, which are fifty ships; forty ships a piece; still supposing a War. But I am afraid that no War will be, nor is likely to be. But I will take what the honourable persons have said, "that there will be a War," and give something, but not fully till War be declared.
Mr Secretary Coventry.] If the King of France has sixty sail of ships in the Mediterranean, and as much more by his conduct, surely we shall not be guilty of so ill conduct, as to let ours lie idle. He had twenty eight Galleys in Marseilles thirty years ago, and now I believe they are doubled. In Brest they are now providing a hundred Coopers—And so he gave an account of the constant charge we must necessarily be at in the Mediterranean, as before.
Mr Garroway.] 'Tis a great hardship put upon us, that still we know not one Article of the Treaty. (I mean not the secret Articles) And yet we must be put upon supporting them, at so great a rate, as has been mentioned. And so he read the last Vote p. 95. How long will it be before we shall be doing that Vote? Before your ships will be at Sea, and your army ready? While the French go on still conquering, and there is an end of your Vote. But before the Spanish Netherlands be quite over-run by France, I hope we may have Peace. It may be nearer Peace than we think of; and it would be wisdom for us to make as good a bargain for our selves, as we can. But if we miss this opportunity, it will be too late for us to make preparation. The King is but reprieved. If we must set out ninety sail of capital ships, what will you do for seamen, for trade? The last Dutch War cost the nation 200,000 l. for want of seamen, in hiring freight from foreigners. Lubeck and Hamburgh drove all the carrying trade. Consider what great miscarriages the Dutch have had by sea; and yet with twenty sail of their own, and a few Spaniards, they are now able to look the French in the face in the Mediterranean. The French are not so formidable as they make themselves in their insolent way of privateering. Do but secure the Soundings, and you keep the French within their Ports; and I believe that twenty five Dutch ships joined with ours may do the whole business. Therefore I move "That a sum of money may be given his Majesty for supporting the War for the preservation of the Spanish Netherlands, and lessening the growth, &c. of France."
Mr Secretary Williamson.] For any man to name a sum to support the Alliances, before we know the whole scheme of the measures we are to take, will be to little purpose. Make a scale of the force, what that must be, and then you may come to particulars. In case we are not at sea, the French will certainly be at sea. (The rest the Compiler could not hear for noise.)
Mr Sacheverell.] I proposed this way first, and therefore I will give reasons for it. I did not imagine that any thing would have been offered more than what would maintain the fleet betwixt this and Michaelmas next, that we may see whether the War be in good earnest, or not. When money is once got, we may not have a Parliament ever after; as in that precedent of Henry VII. which I mentioned. Peace was then made betwixt the French and him; though in great haste for War, as we are now. One Article of that Peace was, "That it should be confirmed by our three estates." (I speak out of record still) Then they made their private Articles, "That a Parliament should not be called for three years;" and four years after the Peace was made, a Parliament was called, and the money they had formerly given was called "the money for the French War." If it be only for that purpose, let the Ministers speak. I say it to have mutual assurance of one another, that they are in good earnest as I am now. No man can say ninety sail of ships is requisite for this War, betwixt this and Michaelmas, neither can they be ready. They tell you of a winter and summer guard. They must mean next year. This year is almost gone for preparation. All I desire is hope for security, that these gentlemen are in good earnest, that we shall have a War.
Mr Secretary Coventry.] No man can tell what force of arms can do, but I assure you, I know nothing towards a Peace. The Duke of Monmouth's regiments are sent for out of France, and the King of France will not send them, till you declare War. If you make War for Flanders, &c. the King of France will for Ireland, and the ill condition and fears they are in there will appear in a Letter I have received from the Duke of Ormond, and your Island may be taken from you without this fleet of ships which the King has mentioned. As soon as the War is done; your money is done, and 'twill be appropriated, &c. and I can say no more.
Mr Sacheverell.] The Gentleman has told you, "as soon as the War is done, the money is done, and what you give will be appropriated to the use of the War." In Edward IVth's and Henry VIIth's time, one sum of money was appropriated, and another was not; and they came both to the same end. The money raised was to be put in the next Castle, Town, or Monastery, to be kept safe. "And the Commissioners shall see that the overplus be applied as the King, Lords, and Commons shall appoint." I show you this, not to make any remord in this business, but when Ministers of State have a mind to break through an Act of Parliament, they will do it, as they have done in these precedents, in seven Acts together.
Mr Secretary Coventry.] If in Edward IVth's and Henry VIIth's time the money was left to be appropriated to the War, the Parliament, in those times, understood not appropriation so well as we did the last year, when we gave money for building ships, and appropriated it. It is in your power to make the appropriation as sure as you please.
Mr Secretary Williamson.] I will speak to that point, of what sum is reasonable for this War. Be satisfied, first, of the greatness and necessity of the force, and then the time you intend to employ that force. This will take away all the jealousy of putting off Parliaments. Wherever that flies in my face, all must stop till that be removed. 'Tis unreasonable to think that the intervals of Parliament can continue longer than a reasonable time of holding Parliaments. The Confederates take their measures but for a year, and their Confederacy ceases at some time of the year; and 'tis not probable they should enlarge their time no longer than a year New Counsels are to be taken at the beginning of winter, and, in this case, 'tis very reasonable not to go beyond that season of the year in our measures of preparations; and some time will be taken up in consideration of that Supply. Then I say, that 'tis reasonable that some farther provision be made to maintain your forces for the time you are considering, besides what you grant for the summer's action, and we cannot go lower for that Calculation than Christmas. Therefore, in order to this, if you think that force by sea and land, which has been proposed, necessary, you must make this Calculation for them. Mr Pepys will give you an account in what condition the Navy stands, and how to make your strength.
Col. Birch.] It was said of King James, "That he sent into the Palatinate too many for Ambassadors, and too few for an Army." If this War be intended in good earnest, we must have another manner of force than now we talk of; 150,000 l. over and above the naval standing charge per mensem. If it be a War, I would have no time lost. A rational provision, if it be required, as Williamson states it, is a Debate of another nature. I have heard to day of "the danger of Ireland," if we enter into this War. But I hope 'tis not in so great danger as represented. If we need physic I would not stay till to-morrow; I would think of it to day. If the best men of France must make War at so great a charge, and be compelled to do it, I hope we shall shortly bring them to a better understanding of themselves. As for our charge already, 'tis not greater than the ordinary charge. I am one of those that have been too bold formerly, and I shall be so bold still as to tell you that for our naval force, "ninety sail of ships in summer, and thirty six in winter" was supposed—Such a force (duly paid) and in good places, would do our work, when we stood upon our own legs. Suppose the charge at 4 l. a head, and 10,000 men was the estimate. The Customs were then rated at 400,000 l. towards it, and the Excise 150,000 l. and this surplussage to maintain this charge. The Customs, in their ordinary receipt, maintain fifty capital ships. What do you want then? Forty more. Suppose they be all capital ships, for the whole season, they will cost so much, and I can tell the whole charge if I would. But whether they will man out ninety sail this summer, let them tell you, and "40,000 foot"—I would not fully the business in the Debate, but I must say it looks not like a War—But how if France should do by us as we did by the Smyrna fleet? Though we came up to Parliament now but a trot, we should come a gallop then. Till I hear great reason, I see not why we should be at any farther charge. To say nothing of the army, I would have the trained bands (good bodies of men they are) encamped, and with exercise made serviceable. The doubt whether War, or no War, may be at an end before this sum be spent. It may be a Peace, and then there is an end of the War, and the defence of the Kingdom; and then 'tis time for a Debate of this nature, and money may be provided for paying them off in September after. I know what paying the Navy and the Army is, and I cannot think we want stores of powder, because so much is sent away out of the Tower, and gone into France; and for victuals you are told there is sufficient. But I am utterly against banking in all this; for when the Navy comes in, in September, I would have them paid off to a ship; and if these Gentlemen can make it out that we shall have a War, 'twill lead you into another manner of Debate and Measure, than you have been at now; and let it be made out that this preparation is not fit to defend us. If I were to advise for the King of France, I would give as great a sum as is demanded, to weary out the people, so that they can do no more, when we shall really be in earnest.
Mr Powle.] I know little of the affairs of the Navy, but, upon a prospect, most men may be judges of it. I desire to give towards it, and plentifully, but not so as to sink and fail under the burden of it. I would not give such a sum of money as to give temptation to great men to take away Parliaments. I would give such a sum, as when expended, they may have farther recourse to Parliaments for Supply. We are in the dark, and, for ought I can find, we must be so. No, man can tell what necessity there is for a War, if the end of the War be not told you, and I hear of Peace, that we are near it. We are yet groping in the dark; and I would not yet get farther into the dark, for fear of running our heads against a post—To meet as we do now, and no time to think of it! If we should give money, and have a Peace, you will not need a Parliament in haste. I remember 1,200,000 l. was given for the Dutch War, and a Peace was made thereupon, and in four years time, by reason of Prorogations, not one public Act passed; and this was but the result of that money which the War had left; and there will be an end of all Parliaments by giving at the rate some Gentlemen propose. 'Tis said, "that you may appropriate this money to the use you intend it, with penalties upon the officers, &c. that shall issue it out to any other use." But 'tis to no purpose to make laws to hang thieves, if the Judges go no Circuits. No private man can judge the misdemeanors of Ministers of State; [they are] only to be arraigned in Parliament. And as to this Treaty we hear of, though the King of Spain is weak, yet can he do nothing towards the War? He has in the Mediterranean twenty ships, and this will take off some of your charge. You are told of "Letters out of Ireland of the danger of that place, and the great want of money there." Whether it be not diverted to other uses, I will not say. But the revenue comes to much more than the established charge of the Government there, and yet they say the Army is in arrear, and so are the civil Offices. And must England bear all the burden of Ireland? I would have the sum for the present entering into this War reduced to a moderate sum, and the Parliament may come every month to supply farther, as occasion shall require, and, if the money be so given, I will give it as chearfully as any man here.
Sir Thomas Meres.] I desire your excuse, if I make use of a French word, Campagne, to be better understood in an English Parliament. We are forced to send our children into France to learn that language, to be better understood here. Therefore I would know the charge of this Campagne.
Mr Garroway.] Let it be sooner or later, and with all the assiduity the Gentlemen of the Admiralty can, before our ships can be in any condition to be at sea, Flanders will be gone. I am for giving this money to be employed, as his Majesty shall think fit, for the present occasion of the War; but such a sum as the Parliament may come again, and supply, as occasion requires. I cannot but observe that Articles are not safe to be showed us; but the knowledge of the charge for these ships, it seems, is. I will show you how to save Flanders, and I would save English flesh too, which must be by encouraging the Allies to come quickly into the field. If Peace would purchase that, Ships cannot preserve Flanders. You can never do it, but by encouraging the Confederates. Dare you venture to present the King with a sum for this purpose, to encourage the Germans to come briskly into the field? If they are afraid of War, let them say so; but I would be very unwilling to undergo that great vast charge for the Navy, that I hear spoken of. I would never see accounts, but give such a sum as they cannot cheat us of, and that they must spend, and no more; and the King wholly to dispose of it.
Mr Secretary Coventry.] All that is asked of you is in relation to a War. Secure it, that whilst you bring the German down, the French do not attempt your Islands, and Plantations, and Jamaica. That whilst you secure Flanders, France fall not upon you there, pray secure that.
Mr Pepys.] Ships of the following rates will all be ready by the latter end of May, viz. Four of the first rate. Five of the second rate. Sixteen of the third. Forty seven of the fourth. Twelve of the fifth. Six of the sixth. [In all ninety.] And the total of the charge for so many ships per mensem will be 103,251 l.
Sir Thomas Lee.] I will put you in mind of what was before—When we paid the King's debts, and increased this revenue, War was undertaken by it alone, without Allies, and there was no need of money, we were told, and so no need of calling the Parliament to advise about it. But this affair is not done, as if we were in actual War, as we have been told—And perhaps a Peace may be entered into. I conceive there is no more danger in telling us the Treaty, than in the number of ships we are to support it with. When they are employed, then 'tis time to take care for paying them; till then 'tis time only to talk of money to raise them and fit them out to sea.
Mr Secretary Coventry.] This way of giving the King money, to maintain the War, is like a man that bids his servant go a journey, and gives him five pounds to bear his charges, and bids him spend what he will, but gives him no more money, &c.
Sir Thomas Littleton.] As to the danger of our Islands and Plantations, the same may be said for Holland, their Islands and Plantations. In this War the French matters upon them (fn. 1). But when the French are in Peace, we may fear them. Then is his time when he is at leisure with his ships and men. Therefore in this un dertaking, I would apply to the saving of Flanders, the most immediate thing in our Vote, and insist on that.
Mr Secretary Williamson.] I hear it said, "a sum of money to be given to induce the Germans to come down, &c. and so proportioned." I am not for money farther than there is an inevitable necessity for it. Though we are not in the Act of War, yet, whether you will or no, it is War in effect. Upon your promise to stand by it, there is the honour and reputation of the House to stand by the King as much as if actual Hostility. There is jealousy in some that it will not be a War, and there is no way to cure that jealousy. But if the money be as the King requires it, 'tis impossible but that there should be War (suspected only as a man that wishes a thing as you do) It must be speedily and plentiful, that you supply your obligation to the King, and peremptorily War cannot be without that; and then 'twill be entered into immediately. I will carry it so far as an engagement upon the King to come into the War. What is proposed will not enable the King to do it. There must be provisions at least for a year; as has been proposed. No other way than going into the War upon credit—The King must have trust, and I hope we shall remove all doubts of distrust; and if there be no better issue, they that are in the Alliances will go out of them, if they have not the whole scheme of what you will do, and if only provision be made for the War betwixt this and May. The King would scorn to show his Parliament, that he has employed the money you give him, otherwise than as you intended it.
Col. Birch.] As to the naval charge, I will say nothing to that, but only to the safety of the nation in general. Says Pepys, "do you think all the ships will come home at once?" That is an argument to me then, that the less money, for the present, will pay them off at a time, and they may be sent for home when you will. If we could guard the sea with fifty ships in summer, and thirty five in winter, when the Customs yielded not above 400,000 l. much more may the Customs bear it now, being almost double. For ninety sail of ships then so far is done at 4 l. per head. I hear there is a book now publickly sold abroad, that calls the French King "not a very good Christian." He is a brisk man, but not so brisk as he is said to be, if he suffers what is said in that book. A book that of the Baron Isola's writing, was forbidden to be sold, at the latter end of a Gazette. If any man can say, that this I have said of the ships is not to the matter, let him tell me what is.
Mr Pepys.] If ships were so well paid off in the time Birch speaks of, how came ships to be four months in arrear, when the King came in? If Birch talks of four pounds a head, so will I too. We set not ships out now to ordinary errands. We set them out to War, I believe, and hope. To them must be appendages, of ships of advice, tenders for wounded men, and other things attendant, as necessary as guns themselves. What I say is not for money. I handle none of it. But what I say is, that I will not betray you by my silence. I would not come here, to have Brook-house Commissioners of Accounts to make enquiry, and to make attendance here, to answer their objections, &c. and, by all their enquiry, there was no fraud found in the accounts of the Navy to pay for their Wine and Biscuits, for the Commissioners will justify what I say to you.
Col. Birch.] You may and have had occasion to blame my understanding, but never my truth. If it be so, as Pepys says, of the ships, &c. I know he was not then in employment, nor in a considerable time after. What was, was four years before his time, of the four pounds a head; but he cannot give an instance of one ship that stayed for pay, when come in, one fortnight. (My desire was not to throw up dust, but I can learn it here.) I intend not to store ships with 700 men, when the Dutch have but 400 in a ship, as if we were cowards. When a shot comes through and through, it must hit some men, when so crowded, and discourage the rest: And I will prove, that, in those times, there was an establishment of no more men, and it was then convenient. The provision I make for the ships is intended till Michaelmas, and when they come in, to discharge them. I paid off the Army, and the Navy, when they were disbanded at the King's coming in, and no man can say, but that he was paid off to a day. I could wish little sums had been so since; and when I shall come to the land forces, as I have done at sea, I will make this as plain as that.
Sir Robert Howard.] Cæsar never judged his own condition, but by the opinion his enemies had of him. Of the King of France we may judge accordingly. Will you, by small preparations, make the King of France the judge whether there shall be a War, or no? Examine the King's revenue, and see his weakness. Preparations of War must be equivalent to that War. I am for the Parliament's meeting in September, to supply as occasion shall require. But the Question is now, what sum the King shall have for the present, that, when 'tis given, it may not be a Peace. If what has been said be not performed, 'tis a visible cheat.
Mr Swynfin.] Upon the uncertainty we are under, of Peace or War, we cannot give the Country an account of what we do. Giving the money "for his Majesty's occasions" is a hypothetical Vote. I would have such a moderate sum as shall be thought fit to support his Alliances. But if we give money with an "If," those Counsels are more fatal than no ships at all.
Resolved, That ninety ships are necessary for the support of his Majesty's present Alliances, &c. Which was agreed to by the House, and the Committee was ordered to sit for consideration of Supply for these ships.
Thursday, February 7.
Sir Thomas Lee.] I desire that the House may be moved to refer the charge given in of the ships, by Pepys, to a Committee to examine, that we may not take them upon the bare word of one man, and be still in the dark. If it be Peace, there will need the less money; and, if it be War, more; and that particular Committee may give you an account of what is necessary.
Sir Thomas Clarges.] I would have it considered what part of the charge the Nation is to bear, with the Dutch; and then, if the King please to call us in May, or June, when it is Bellum flagrans, then we may give more.
Mr Secretary Coventry.] If the thing is necessary to be, you must as necessarily consider the way it should be, But if Peace should be concluded, that is the jealousy—I have it from the King, who certainly should know, and he says nothing is more false, nor is there any consultation towards it.
Mr Garroway.] In such a War as this, if we enter into it to suppress the greatness of France, 'tis reasonable that we should consider to reduce it to the least expence we can, it being (as we have been told) like to last long, and that we must ask the great man, the French King, how long that shall be. I would therefore have a Committee apart to consider of it.
Friday, February 8.
Sir Thomas Clarges.] I would willingly see the quota of Horse and Foot, that we are to find, in this League. In an unhappy time, Cromwell minded more his own than the nation's advantage. Six thousand foot were then sent over, and they took eleven towns, fought a battle at Dunkirk, and the French struck not a stroke in it—Once auxiliaries were thought better—Why may not we send money into Germany? Upon the Bishop of Munster's preparing 8000 men, France quitted several towns in Holland. We need not be at so vast an expence—In Ireland they have a Parliament of their own; they may raise money to secure their own Coasts and Continent, and Scotland may defend itself; and I move that we may do so too.
Mr Secretary Coventry.] You are told of so many towns taken in Flanders, &c. I do affirm that the King of England had more men in the Spanish Army in Flanders, than Don John had. They had not above 6000 men, and the King of France had 40,000 foot and 6000 horse. The Confederates have now 55,000 men in Flanders, and that will not do their business. Do not then throw away 6000 men to no purpose, as is proposed. We are told that 'tis an offensive War, and we must come to it totis viribus; and will 6000 men defend England, Scotland, and Ireland? Suppose the French land in Ireland, will 6000 men do your work, when you have them in Flanders?
Mr Sacheverell.] The first proposition was for an Army to subsist of ourselves, and to be provided by us, and not to depend on foreign Countries, and some place for them, as Ostend, &c.—'Tis evident that there is no great haste to raise these men, but to be in England; we are not told that the Spaniards have agreed to any place for our men—The next is, whether he be not brought low enough to give us all his trade in Flanders. Till these Gentlemen show us other ways than they have done yet, I cannot believe that a War is intended.
Mr Secretary Williamson.] The Gentleman has a jealousy "that this looks rather like an Army to stay in England, than to go into Flanders, and it seems to him to be employed here, as if in despair of relieving Flanders." I only opened the thing, as a necessity of convenience of having a town in the King's hand, but I dare not put the Army's going thither on the condition of a town, [Ostend] of which there was no choice. I never told you that it was proposed in the King's Councils, as solely necessary, but as a Key of trade, and how long the Key will be in the Spanish hands to keep, I know not. 'Tis the last thing I hope to see in the French hands. There are but 400 of the King of Spain's men in it, a thin guard for that place; but I hope it will be put into such hands as will keep it. I hope the Committee will be so satisfied as to go on chearfully in this matter. But if the French have a mind to take Ostend, no man can show but they may if they please. I say this still, that as to the force the King is to raise, 'tis not necessary to put the relieving Flanders on our having Ostend in our hands, though I despair not of it; and in this matter I would loose as little time as may be. Appoint therefore any Committee to look on the mechanical part of the Paper delivered you, to calculate it clearly some way before you.
Sir William Coventry.] I would do this great matter of preparation, as we are like to hold it. The King of France is not likely to be conquered in a year; therefore I would not take the note too high at first, left we make ill harmony. I desire only to recount the great honour the nation got at the Isle of Rhee, when we had no Auxiliaries, but ourselves. In answer to Wheeler.
Sir Tho. Lee.] I would never go about to lessen the number, when we come to the work—But 'tis not to a vain end, when the prospect is nothing but money. Says Coventry, "if you have towns, 15000 men, &c." He said the other day "that the Duke of Villa Hermosa (fn. 2) rather refused the men, than would give any towns." So that yet I know not whether the Horse and the Dragoons are to go into Flanders, or stay at home Or whether the Drums beat to fill the Guards inclusive into this number. The Army already, before the new raised men, is 12,000 men. I would know whether all these men must presently go on ship-board, or as occasion requires—Then there will remain about 5000 men. We are told of Jersey and Guernsey, Ireland, and the Indies, &c. but I stand not upon how many go abroad, nor how few stay at home. New men are more troublesome than old, and quartering is a great burden upon the people—And not too near the coast at home. I hope that an advice frigate may give us timely notice, and the Militia may defend themselves, as the Act has provided; and if we have ninety sail of ships, we may prevent any thing of invasion. I would know whether the men already raised are included in the number of 30,000. Else those may make the Army 40,000, instead of 30,000.
Col. Stroude.] I will not question, whether there be most good in Auxiliaries or not, but as for him that will stay till his Enemies attack him, they must be expected where you have no forces, as well as where you have.
Col. Birch.] Now the Debate is of land forces. That of ships, you are told, is manned fully. Now for the number of land forces, unless that be cleared up, I can give no Vote in it. 'Tis granted, that 10 or 15,000 shall be for Flanders, and Ostend, for our Commerce, and 'tis a very good thing to defend Ostend, for that purpose. But I ask whether we shall defend Flanders without the consent of the King of Spain? It does not yet appear to us, whether any Treaty is yet made with Spain, and whether, if we send any forces over, Spain will join with us. Do but convince my understanding in this, and you shall have my money and bones too. 'Tis a blind thing, without knowing this. Shall we keep Flanders without the Spaniards consent? I would then see what Spain does towards this. I would know whether we must have our forces as Auxiliaries, and what honour we may have with that, and what by going by ourselves in a distinct body. When the Committee shall see the end, and the way to it, I am ready to take these rubs out of the way, and I will go along with you.
Mr Secretary Coventry.] As to Birch's query of "saving Flanders without the King of Spain's consent," if it be so, I am one of those who will not give my consent to save Flanders. Spain had 14,000 men out of Holland, to assist Flanders, and no Towns or Garrisons were put into the Hollanders hands. The King therefore has not a necessary dependence upon that, and that was told you. For Spain is not able to pay those Dutch forces he has already. Auxiliaries love to be epaules, shouldered up with horse of their own. Reckon how many men we have had formerly in Holland to assist them against the Spaniards—Reckon the necessary defence of Jersey, Guernsey, Holy Island, and Ireland, with the Leeward Islands, and the Plantations, and we cannot have less than the proportion required from you.
Mr Powle.] The number now demanded, upon the account of an auxiliary Army, is a proportion that may subsist of itself. I find it generally said that 10, or 12,000 men are sufficient for that purpose, with some addition of horse. But for the other body too, I am not convinced of the necessity. It is said by some Gentlemen, "that a body must be ready, if a descent be made upon France." The Dutch, in 1674, had seven or eight thousand on board their fleet, and a descent was made upon Belleisle, and what they got by it did not pay the tenth part of their charges. The last War we had with Holland, there was a descent intended into Holland, with our forces at Yarmouth (fn. 3). They made a descent indeed to Yarmouth, and there they disbanded. Jersey and Guernsey are near France, and I yet remember they were not in danger the last War we had with France, and no such preparations were made from hence, to defend them, as are now spoken of. Most of the Inhabitants are martial men, and are able to defend their own Coasts—And if we send out so many ships, as is spoken of, D'Estrees will be called suddenly out of the Indies; and I think Jersey and Guernsey ought to contribute towards the charge of their own defence. Clearly, I must tell you, that the bigger sum we give, the less I believe the War will go on.
Mr Secretary Coventry.] If all the French talliage was spoiled on the maritime part of France, when the Dutch fleet appeared upon their coast, why did not the Dutch return thither again, when they did it with so few ships, as Clarges told you? But all the hurt the Dutch did France in truth, was only the taking of some few fishermen, and cattle. Powle told you, "that the men raised for an incursion into Holland never went farther than Yarmouth." But the troops that went aboard Prince Rupert never came to Yarmouth. When you have provided a fleet to annoy France, and forces for the defence of Flanders, I hope you will not forget yourselves for your own defence. What condition were Norfolk and Suffolk in, when the Dutch were upon their coasts? They would have been in a sad condition, if the Dutch had landed. Their Militia would have signified little for their defence.
Mr Secretary Williamson.] Exceptions are taken at the computation of the forces. One says, "If he were satisfied in some points as in the Treaty, &c." To that it has been said, "There is a negotiation about it." But says another, "Must that depend upon the Spaniards consent?" Is it to be believed that a people will not be saved when they may? But, plainly, they must be saved whether they will or not. St Ghilian was lost, because the Spaniards would not save it. The Prince of Orange would have put in men; and the Prince put men into Mons, whether they would or not; the Spaniards go so awkwardly about their business. But to ask what is Holland's quota, is another thing, and I have told you what it is, as to their ships, that is concerted with Holland. Their quota is their totum. A Committee of the Council is on foot with their Treaty for the concert of the whole. Another Gentleman objected, "Sure the men must be on board the fleet, and not on the land, and that such descents have not been successful." I answer, those on ship board are ready for any occasion that offers itself. And if what is proposed be so big as to master the King of France, I am persuaded he will not come out to you. 'Tis said "That Jersey and Guernsey were in no danger the last War, &c." I answer, there is a vast difference between that War and this. There is a different way of engagement, you entering into the War of your own accord, and he falling on you with his utmost strength. All this offered you is to prevent surprize upon your Islands and Plantations. I see not, upon the utmost Debate, any room for suspicion—Here is nothing before you but what is necessary on land and sea, to prevent incursions.
Sir William Coventry.] "To support Spain against their will," as, the Gentleman tells you, they must be, is a hard task. But we find, Spain is little able to do any thing himself. All I have to say to that is, God forgive them that let the balance go down, on that side! The very porters in the street see it so plain. I think 12,000 men for a descent into Flanders, well disposed, may go a great way in preservation of it. A little may serve for putting Garrisons into Towns, till we meet again. But how often have we sent Auxiliaries abroad, and have had no Towns given us? There were many and many Supplies and Succours sent into Holland, seven years before we had any cautionary Towns — When Queen Elizabeth bore the charges, the cautionary Towns were for the Hollanders to pay it back in four years. What Towns had Queen Elizabeth when she succoured Henry IV in France? But when she sent to succour the Hugonots, her having Havre de Grace taken from her was her greatest disgrace. For both Catholics and Hugonots joined to get it from her. Cromwell, when he assisted the French against Flanders, had no Towns for his Auxiliaries. He only had Dunkirk, when he took it. When Portugal had Auxiliaries both French and English, they had no Towns for them. I do readily concur for ten or twelve thousand men, to be sent speedily into Flanders, with all my soul. Horse has not been the general way of Auxiliaries, unless some few sent into Portugal; but if they have been, now they are less necessary, Flanders being extraordinarily wasted, and scarce a spot of ground that pays not contribution to the French King. I would indeed covenant for a place for them to land, but as for the Horse, will you keep them on the sea-coast in England, or send provision to them when they are landed? I see not how that can be. The men that were sent against Holland, in that War, were borne as part of the compliment of the ships. Some more were sent with the fleet, but they were not of the fleet, and they did little good. To put so many together is but to throw the plague and pestilence amongst them. It has been said, "That the Dutch did waste the King of France's taxes so as he lost a year's revenue by it, on the maritime part of France." I know not what France lost, or what honour the Dutch got by it, but had they so wasted the French, they would sure have returned to get honour again. Courage is born with the English, but conduct must be got by experience. 'Tis well known that we have had God's blessing of Peace, and those experienced officers of the former age are either dead, or disabled by age to do the nation service. And I doubt that by experience you will find, that any province in France you shall make a descent into, hath more good officers than all we can send over; and when all is done, by mistrust of conduct they will be ready to cut one anothers throats; and we shall be troubled with accusations of miscarriages here. So that till we have officers of experience, I would not think of any descents to be made into France. 'Tis taken for granted, that we are to set out ninety sail of ships, and the French now dare not show their faces out of their ports. Shall we fear their landing then, and have such a fleet? Our Militia may be of some service to us, sure. Let us think upon that when he does come indeed. Else alarms, and unnecessary charges, will bring us so low, that when there is a real need, we shall not be able to help ourselves. I would willingly understand whether those regiments in the King's pay already must not be reckoned towards this number: I would understand that first, and then I should give my hearty concurrence.
Resolved, (by the Committee) That 26 Regiments of Foot' each of one thousand men, 4 Regiments of Horse, each of four hundred and ninety men, and 2 of Dragoons, each of nine hundred and sixty, [in all 29,880] are necessary for the support of his Majesty's present Alliances, &c.
Sir Thomas Meres.] Those 30,000 we have voted are over and above the little Army we have already. I would have it remembered that the Commons of England have privilege to know what is necessary for Peace and War. I wonder how these words should stick with us, "during an actual War with France." When the Bill comes to be penned, all those circumstances must be thought of.
Col. Birch.] I would know, whether, after one or more additions are put, I may speak against the main Question. I would be resolved of it, that I may not be prevented speaking when the main Question is to be put.
Sir Thomas Meres.] As to the numbers of men we are to send into Flanders, 'tis not likely to have Spaniards at all, so that this money is lost. To 13,000 men I will give my Vote to go into Flanders. I am sorry that the terms with Spain, when they would have given us good ones, were not accepted. But now let their terms be what they will, we must take them, and better than let them give their towns up to France. "Lessening the power of the French King" is in your Question, yet these men and ships are "to support Alliances"—And that must be, else you have voted nothing; so that your whole matter is very loose, as to this Vote—And you are not sure that any thing shall be done against France—You will be told that Spain will do nothing, and so you cannot come at a War with France; without the complyance of Spain, you cannot come at France. My fear is, that an Army is setting up for another purpose than against the French King, and that it is for a standing Army.
Col. Birch.] I hear nothing said but Queries. If I ask to be informed, I can hear nothing but out of the Harlem Gazette, and Coffee-houses; and till I can see better light, let us have more Queries. I suppose Meres has no better intelligence than I, and where I had mine I have told you. There was never the like Question put in Parliament—You have had a paper of the forces brought you in, of Horse and Foot, and it has been asked how they are to be disposed of, and you are told 14,000 shall go into Flanders, and the rest are for the fleet, and the outside garrisons. I will not be guilty of putting any man's life in hazard, but to save my own—What should these forces do in Flanders, unless to be starved and die in ditches? You have been told, "that if Foot be sent thither they may live, but Horse cannot live, unless they make their way farther into the country." If these men were in Holland, they might be put into garrisons, and they cannot be long there neither. I am for securing Holland, and I believe it must come to that. I have seen Dragoons in my time, and I would have Gentlemen tell you the charge they put the country to, and the mischief they do; they turn rogues and plunder the next village they come at; they will make the Boors in Flanders cut their throats. I had a regiment, in our late unhappy War, of 1000 Dragoons, and when they were to fight, one half of them was not to be found; they were gone a roguing abroad. 'Tis parliamentary to put the Question single, as to the number of men. I have told you, formerly, what it is to put so many men, on board the fleet, into one ship; they would be stifled with sickness. I agree to it, that if we raise but 1000 men for the fleet, they may scour the Channel, from one place to another—Eight score trained bands may be in a body; some on the sea-side, but not near any great market town, nor ale-houses, but encamped—The same course the King of France has taken—If the King of France does, as I have said for us, I would have the trained bands be drawn together, and be made useful. We were told, "they were not useful when the Dutch landed about Landguard Fort." That was because they had not been drawn together before. If they had had more discipline and less ale, they might have done better. You have now a month or two, to bring them into order, and not any need of raising new men to defend the Coast. I really intend the thing, and I am against Dragoons in this army—And the foot we send over as Auxiliaries. Something I would have, and something I would not have, therefore pray divide the Question.
Mr Secretary Coventry.] I will aver as much as I know of this matter in doubt. I have all the papers that passed betwixt the Spanish Ambassador and the King, and the Spaniards never demanded so much as within these three weeks. If Birch intends, by what he has said, to keep the trained bands always in discipline during the War, it will be a great charge to the nation, if for a month—The King of France has been five years in doing it—If I had not heard it from Birch himself, "That his Dragoons (under his command) were disorderly," I should not have believed it. Neither the Emperor, nor Hollanders, nor any of the Confederates, but have Dragoons in their army. Now whether you will take Birch's judgment about the usefulness of Dragoons, who never was in a War abroad, only in England, I leave it to you. Now having your ports, your fleet, and the Leeward Islands to guard, and Flanders to preserve, I do not see how you can have less force than is proposed.
Sir Thomas Meres.] I will give a reason for what I have said, voluntarily, and as free as Blackberries, though not upon compulsion. I do aver I never spoke with any Ambassadors, and I scarce know the face of any Ambassador.