The History and Proceedings of the House of Commons: Volume 6, 1714-1727. Originally published by Chandler, London, 1742.
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SPEECHES and DEBATES In the Sixth Session of the First Parliament of King George I.
Anno7. Geo. 1. 1720.
Pursuant to the last Prorogation of the Parliament, the King came to the House of Lords, on the 8th of December, and the Commons attending, the Lord Chancellor, by his Majesty's Command, read the following Speech to both Houses.
King's Speech at opening the Sixth Session, wherein his Majesty mentions particularly the S. S. Calamity.
My Lords and Gentlemen,
"Since we last parted, the Face of our Affairs Abroad is become more favourable: The Peace in the South only wants the Form of a Congress, and that of the North is brought much nearer to a Conclusion. I shall, at a proper Time, order the several Treaties I have made to be laid before you; by which you will perceive the Success of our Endeavours to establish a Peace throughout Europe, and to secure and support the Protestant Religion: At the same Time, I can never sufficiently express my Concern for the unhappy Turn of Affairs, which has so much affected the Publick Credit at Home.
Gentlemen of the House of Commons,
"I do most earnestly recommend it to you, that you consider of the most effectual and speedy Methods to restore the National Credit, and fix it upon a lasting Foundation. You will, I doubt not, be assisted in so commendable and necessary a Work by every Man that loves his Country, and especially by the several great Societies of this Kingdom. I hope you will, on this Occasion, remember, that all your Prudence, your Temper, and Resolution, are necessary to find out and apply the proper Remedies to our Misfortunes; which will, if you succeed, serve to increase that Reputation you have so justly acquir'd, particularly, if you shall be able, notwithstanding these Difficulties, to discharge a Part of the Publick Debt.
"I have order'd the several Estimates to be laid before you of the Expence of the ensuing Year; and must desire you to dispatch the Supplies necessary for them.
My Lords and Gentlemen,
"I am glad to observe to you, that our Trade does appear to have been more extended this Year than in the preceding one; we have the most flourishing Navy of any Nation whatsoever to protect it: And I hope you will turn your Thoughts to the best Methods for the Security and Enlarging of our Commerce. You may depend on my hearty Concurrence to all such Provisions, as shall appear to you necessary for the Good of my People."
Mr Pulteney's Motion for an Address of Thanks. ; Debate thereon.
The Commons being return'd to their House, Mr Pulteney mov'd, 'That an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, to return him the Thanks of this House for his most gracious Speech from the Throne; to express the Satisfaction of his faithful Commons at the near Prospect there is of Peace being establish'd throughout Europe, by the Success of his Majesty's Endeavours; to acknowledge his Majesty's great Goodness in his tender Concern for the Misfortunes of his People, occasion'd by the unhappy Turn of Affairs, that hath so much affected the Publick Credit of this Kingdom; to assure his Majesty, that this House will, at this critical Conjuncture, wherein his Majesty's Government and the Interest of his People are so highly concern'd, proceed with all possible Care, Prudence, and Temper, to inquire into the Causes of these Misfortunes, and apply the proper Remedies for restoring and fixing Publick Credit upon such solid and lasting Foundations, as may effectually give Ease and Quiet to the Minds of his Majesty's Subjects; and that this House will, with Readiness and Chearfulness, grant the Supplies necessary for the Service of the ensuing Year, and consider in what Manner the Trade and Commerce of the Nation may be best secur'd and extended.'
Mr Henry Pelham (fn. 1), Member for Seaford, seconded this Motion, but Mr Shippen offer'd a Clause to be added after the Words, For restoring and fixing Publick Credit, viz. 'As far as it is consistent with the Honour of Parliaments, the Interest of the Nation, and the Principles of Justice.'
Mr Shippen's Reasons for this Addition, were, 'That in order effectually to remedy the present Misfortunes, [meaning the fatal South-Sea Scheme] it was absolutely necessary to maintain the Honour and Faith of Parliamentary Engagements, and to shew the highest Resentment against those, who, abusing the Trust repos'd in them, had given so fatal a Wound to Publick Credit, and enrich'd themselves by the Plunder of the Nation: That, in his Opinion, the Managers of the South-Sea Project were not the most criminal, since there were those above them, whose Duty it was to overlook and direct their Proceedings; and had those at the Helm interpos'd in the Affair of the South-Sea, as they did in the Case of other Projects, they would have prevented that dismal Calamity which has since befallen the Nation.' Mr Shippen was seconded by Mr Bromley, and Sir William Wyndham, who said, 'That it would be a Disgrace to a British House of Commons, to shew, on this Occasion, less Vigour and Spirit than the Parliament of Paris, then sitting at Pontoise: That that Parliament was justly look'd upon as the Shadow of an English Parliament; and yet that very Parliament had, by their Firmness and Resolution, carry'd their Point so far, as to get that Person remov'd from the Administration, whom they look'd upon as the Author of the present Misfortunes of France.' The Lord Molesworth, who spoke on the same Side, run over the King's Speech from the Throne, and said, 'He was glad they were told, that the Peace in the South only wanted the Form of a Congress, which gave him Hopes, that the Difficulties started by Spain, in Relation to Gibraltar, were, at last, surmounted, and that we were like to preserve that important Conquest of the preceding War, together with Port-Mahon, which would make us some Amends for the great Expence of Blood and Treasure we had lately been at, to conquer Sicily for the House of Austria.' And speaking of the South-Sea Calamity, he said, 'That before they consider'd of the proper Remedies, they ought to enquire into the Cause and Nature of the Distemper: That it is with the Body Politick, as with the Body Natural; and therefore they ought to imitate skilful Surgeons, who, in order to cure a Wound, begin with probing it, and, when they find it necessary, make Incisions and Scarifications to get the venemous Core out of it, before they apply healing Plaisters; and that they who follow a contrary Method are but meer Empiricks, who, by using Palliatives, make the Sore rankle and fester, and endanger the Life of the Patient. He own'd it had been by some suggested, that there was no Law to punish the Directors of the South-Sea Company, who were justly look'd upon as the immediate Authors of the present Misfortunes: But that, in his Opinion, they ought, on this Occasion, to follow the Example of the ancient Romans, who having no Law against Parricide, because their Legislators suppos'd no Son could be so unnaturally wicked, as to embrue his Hands in his Father's Blood, made one to punish so heinous a Crime, as soon as it happen'd to be committed; and adjudg'd the guilty Wretch to be thrown alive, sew'd up in a Sack, into the Tyber.' Concluding, 'That as he look'd upon the Contrivers and Executors of the villainous SouthSea Scheme, as the Parricides of their Country, he should be satisfy'd to see them undergo the same Punishment.'
Sir Joseph Jekyll said, 'That as he doubted not but among the South-Sea Directors some might be innocent, and others criminal; so he was of Opinion, there were those, who were not Directors, no less, if not more criminal, than the Directors themselves; and who therefore deserv'd an equal, if not a severer Punishment:' Adding, 'That upon extraordinary Emergencies, where the Laws are deficient, the Legislative Authority may and ought to exert itself; and he hoped a British Parliament would never want a vindictive Power to punish National Crimes.' Mr Grey Neville, Mr Pitt, and some other Members, spoke also for the Clause offer'd by Mr Shippen: But, on the other Hand, it was represented by Mr Craggs, Mr Philip Yorke, and Mr Rob. Walpole (fn. 2), 'That such a Restriction did but ill suit with an Address of Thanks; which, in their Opinion, ought to run in the usual Form, and answer, in general Terms, the several Heads of the Speech from the Throne: That as to the main Drift of that Clause, they thought it inconsistent with the Rules of Prudence, to begin this Session with irritating Inquiries: That if the City of London were on Fire, they did not doubt but all wise Men would be for extinguishing the Flames, and preventing the spreading of the Conflagration, before they inquir'd into the Incendiaries: That in like Manner, Publick Credit having receiv'd a most dangerous Wound, and being still in a bleeding Condition, they ought to apply a speedy Remedy to it; and that afterwards they might inquire into the Cause of the present Calamity.' Mr R. Walpole declar'd, 'That for his own Part, he had never approv'd the South-Sea Scheme, and was sensible it had done a great deal of Mischief: But since it could not be undone, he thought it the Duty of all good Men to give their helping Hand towards retrieving it: And that with this View, he had already bestow'd some Thoughts on a Proposal to restore Publick Credit, which, at a proper Time, he would submit to the Wisdom of that House.' Hereupon the Question being put for inserting the Clause before-mention'd, it pass'd in the Negative, by 261 against 103.
Dec. 9. Upon the Report of the Address of Thanks, a Motion being made by Mr Milner, Member for Minehead, for inserting the Words, And for punishing the Authors of our present Misfortunes, and seconded by Sir Joseph Jekyll, the same was carry'd without dividing.
Dec. 10. The Commons, with their Speaker, waited on his Majesty with the abovemention'd Address, which is as follows.
The Commons Address of Thanks for the King's Speech.
Most Gracious Sovereign,
We your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal Subjects, the Commons of Great Britain in Parliament assembled, beg Leave to return your Majesty our most dutiful and hearty Thanks for your most gracious Speech from the Throne.
'We can never sufficiently express our Gratitude to your Majesty, for your constant Care of the true Interest of your Subjects, nor the Satisfaction of your faithful Commons, in seeing that the just Influence of your Majesty's Councils Abroad, has procur'd so near a Prospect of a general Peace throughout Europe; which is a fresh Instance to them, that your Majesty places your Greatness only in the Prosperity and Happiness of your People.
'If any Thing could more effectually endear your Majesty to us than the Mildness of your Government, it would be that tender and affectionate Concern you express for the present Misfortunes of your People, occasion'd by the unhappy Turn of Affairs, that hath so much affected the Publick Credit of this Kingdom.
'But your faithful Commons are met together with Minds fully dispos'd to take the most just and effectual Methods, and to do every Thing that becomes an affectionate Parliament, at this critical Conjuncture, wherein your Majesty's Government, and the Interest of your People, are so highly concern'd, to restore and fix the Credit of this Nation upon such solid and lasting Foundation, as may effectually give Ease and Quiet to the Minds of your Majesty's Subjects: And we flatter ourselves, that our Undertaking will be the more easy, since we are determin'd to proceed with all possible Prudence, Temper, and Resolution, to inquire into the Causes of our present Misfortunes; and, with the maturest Deliberation, apply ourselves to find out the most proper Measures for redressing them, and for punishing the Authors of them.
'The Improvement of our Trade is of so publick a Concern, and so necessary for the Support and Power of this Kingdom, that we will employ our utmost Endeavours to consider in what Manner the Commerce of the Nation may be best secur'd and extended.
'And we beg Leave to assure your Majesty, that we will, with all Chearfulness and Unanimity, grant the Supplies which shall be necessary for the Service of the ensuing Year and the Support of your Government, upon which the Happiness of the Nation, the Liberty of your Subjects, and the Security of our Religion so entirely depend.'
To which the King return'd the following Answer.
His Majesty's Answer thereto.
I Return you my hearty Thanks for this Address; and as I depend on your applying a speedy Remedy to the present Distress, I am persuaded you will take the most prudent Measures to make it effectual."
Mr Neville moves for the Directors of the S. S. Company to lay before the House an Account of their Proceedings. ; Debate thereon. Mr Neville's Motion agreed to.
Dec. 12. The Commons, in a grand Committee, consider'd of the Motion to grant a Supply to his Majesty, which was unanimously agreed to. After this Mr Grey Neville mov'd, 'That the Directors of the South Sea Company should forthwith lay before the House an Account of their Proceedings: He was seconded by Mr Pitt, and back'd by Lord Molesworth. The Courtiers being surpriz'd at this unexpected Motion, Mr Craggs thereupon endeavour'd to shew, 'That it was preposterous; and that the House having already appointed a Day to resolve into a grand Committee, to consider of the present State of the publick Credit of this Kingdom, the same would naturally bring on the Inquiry into the Conduct of the South-Sea Directors.' Mr Craggs was seconded by Lord Hinchingbroke, and by Mr Horatio Walpole (fn. 3), who own'd indeed, 'That the SouthSea Scheme was weak in its Projection, villainous in its Execution, and calamitous in its End; but that, in his Opinion, they ought to begin with applying a Remedy to the Evil.' Mr Robert Walpole added, 'That, as he had already declared, he had spent some Time upon a Proposal for that Purpose; but was apprehensive, that if they went on in a warm, passionate Way, the said Scheme might be render'd altogether' impracticable; therefore he desir'd, that the House would proceed regularly and calmly, left by running precipitately into odious Inquiries, they should exasperate the Distemper to such a Degree, as to render all Remedies ineffectual.' Sir Joseph Jekyll, on the other Hand, set forth the Necessity of examining, without the least Delay, into the Conduct of the South-Sea Company; to see whether they had made good their Engagements, and strictly follow'd the Rules prescribed to them by the Act pass'd last Session of Parliament in their Favour; urging, 'That this was the most natural Way of proceeding in an Affair of so great Importance: That, on the contrary, it seem'd absurd to attempt the Cure of a Distemper before they were acquainted with it: But that as soon as it was thoroughly discover'd, he hoped that wise Assembly should not want Schemes to apply proper Remedies to it.' Mr Gilfrid Lawson having supported Mr Neville's Motion, the Courtiers thought fit no longer to oppose it; so that the same was agreed to without a Division, and an Order was made by the House accordingly.
Mr Pitt complains of the Dilatoriness of the S. S. Directors in producing their Accounts.
Dec. 14. Mr Pitt complain'd of the Dilatoriness of the South-Sea Directors in complying with the Orders made on the 12th Instant by the House, and was seconded by Sir Joseph Jekyll: But Sir Theodore Janssen, Member for Yarmouth, and one of the South-Sea Directors, having assur'd them, that the next Day Part of the Papers call'd for would be laid before them, the House acquiesc'd.
The said Accounts presented to the House. ; The Consideration of the State of the publick Credit adjourn'd. ; Mr Shippen moves for recommitting the Resolution relating to the Number of Land Forces. ; Debate thereon.
Dec. 15. The Sub-Governor and Deputy-Governor of the South-Sea Company presented to the House several Papers, with a Schedule of them, which was read. Hereupon it was order'd, that the said Papers be referr'd to the Committee of the whole House, who were to take into Consideration the present State of the publick Credit of this Kingdom. Then the House resolv'd itself into the said Committee; and after the reading of those Papers, which lasted 'till about four in the Afternoon, Mr Sloper (fn. 4), Member for Bedwin, Mr Plummer, Mr Milner, Sir Richard Steele, and Mr Lawson, made several Exceptions to the Conduct of the South-Sea Directors, and, in particular, to their lending out vast Sums of Money belonging to the Company, without being duly authoriz'd for that Purpose: But as the Committee could not regularly proceed in that Matter without exact Accounts of these Loans, the farther Consideration of the present State of the publick Credit was adjourn'd to the 19th; and, in the mean Time it was order'd, that the Directors of the South-Sea Company should lay before the House several Papers relating to that Affair.
Dec. 19. Mr Farrer reported to the House eight Resolutions of the Committee on the Supply, seven of which were agreed to, but the other, viz. 'That the Number of effective Men to be provided for Guards and Garrisons in Great 'Britain, &c. for the Year 1721, including 1859 Invalids, be 14,294 Men, Commission and Non-Commission Officers included,' being read a second Time, Mr Shippen represented, 'That a general Peace being so near a Conclusion, Part of the Land Forces, now on Foot, might well be spar'd, and the saving Sum apply'd towards repairing the publick Calamity; and therefore he mov'd, That the said Resolution be recommitted.' He was back'd by Mr Bromley, Sir William Wyndham, and Mr Hungerford; but was oppos'd by Mr Robert Walpole, Mr Horatio Walpole, Mr Smith, and some others, who endeavour'd to shew, 'That the Number of, our Forces was so moderate, that it could hardly be lessen'd, even altho' a general Peace were concluded, without exposing the Nation either to Foreign Insults, or Domestick Factions; and therefore it were highly imprudent to make any Reduction in the Army before the Conclusion of the Peace: That, on the other Hand, the Sum that might be sav'd by disbanding 3 or 4000 Men, was very inconsiderable, and ought not to come in competition with the Advantage of being in a Posture of Defence; since nothing contributes more to the publick Credit of a free Nation, than the being in a Condition not to fear any Thing, either at Home or Abroad.' The Question being put upon Mr Shippen's Motion, it pass'd in the Negative, without dividing.
The Commons in a grand Committee consider farther of the State of publick Credit. ; Debate thereon. Mr R. Walpole acquaints the House of his having a Scheme for restoring publick Credit. ; Debate thereon.
The Commons being in a grand Committee to take into farther Consideration the present State of the publick Credit of the Kingdom, Sir Joseph Jekyll mov'd, That a select Committee be appointed to inquire into all the Proceedings relating to the Execution of the South-Sea Act, and was seconded by Mr Gilfrid Lawson. But Mr Robert Walpole having represented, 'That the proceeding in that Manner would take up a great deal of Time, and that the publick Credit being in a bleeding Condition, they ought to apply a speedy Remedy to it; that Motion was not insisted on. After this Mr Sloper shew'd, 'That the present Calamity was mainly owing to the vile Arts of Stock-Jobbers, whereby the publick Funds were wound up far above their real Value; which being readily assented to, the Committee came to this Resolution, viz. That nothing can tend more to the Establishment of publick Credit, than preventing the infamous. Practice of Stock-Jobbing. Then, Mr Robert Walpole acquainted the Committee, 'That, as he had hinted some Days before, he had spent some Time upon a Scheme for restoring publick Credit; but that the Execution of it depending upon a Position, which had been laid down as a Fundamental, he thought it proper, before he open'd the said Scheme, to be inform'd, whether he might rely on that main Foundation, viz. 'Whether the Subscriptions of publick Debts and Incumbrances, Money Subscriptions, and other Contracts made with the South-Sea Company, should remain in the present State?' This Question being stated, occasion'd a warm Debate, which lasted 'till near Eight in the Evening, when it was at last resolv'd by 259 Voices against 117, that all the Subscriptions of publick Debts and Incumbrances, and other Contracts made with the SouthSea Company, by Virtue of an Act made last Session, remain in the present State, unless alter'd for the Ease and Relief of the Proprietors by a general Court of the SouthSea Company, or set aside by due Course of Law.
A Bill ordered to prevent Stock-Jobbing.
Dec. 20. Mr Farrer reported the Resolution of the grand Committee on publick Credit; which, with some Amendments, was agreed to by the House, viz. 'That it will very much contribute towards the establishing publick Credit, to prevent the infamous Practice of Stock-Jobbing:' and a Bill was order'd to be brought in thereupon.
Mr R. Walpole presents his Scheme to the House for restoring publick Credit, viz. by ingrasting nine Millions of S. S. Stock into the Bank, and nine Millions more into the East India Company.
Dec. 21. The House resolv'd itself into a grand Committee, and Mr Robert Walpole laid before them a new Scheme to restore publick Credit, which was, in Substance, to ingraft nine Millions of South-Sea Stock into the Bank of England, and the like Sum into the East-India Company, upon the Conditions therein mention'd. Mr Hutcheson, and other Members, made some Exceptions to that Scheme; but none offering a better Remedy for the present Misfortunes, Mr Farrer, the Chairman, was directed to move the House, and it was accordingly order'd, That the said Committee have Power to receive Proposals from the Bank of England, the South-Sea Company, and the East-India Company, towards restoring publick Credit.
Mr Treby moves for a Bill. To prevant Mutiny and Desertion. ; Debate thereon.
January 4. Mr Treby (fn. 5), Member for Plympton, mov'd for bringing in a Bill, To prevent Mutiny and Desertion, &c. and was seconded by the Lord Carpenter (fn. 6), Member for Whitchurch. Hereupon Sir Joseph Jekyll said, 'He could not but be surpriz'd to see a Bill mov'd for so early, which seldom or never used to be brought in 'till towards the End of a Session: That such a Hurry seem'd to be intended to stop the Prosecution of the Authors of the present Misfortunes: That they all very well knew that their Days were number'd, and that as soon as they had dispatch'd the Money Bills and the Bill now mov'd for, they should immediately be dispatch'd Home: That therefore he was for staying those Bills, until they had done Justice to the Na tion, who call'd aloud for it.' Mr Craggs said thereupon, 'He wonder'd to see any Opposition made to a Bill so necessary for the Safety of the Government, especially by a Person who had receiv'd signal Favours from the Crown.' Upon this Lord Molesworth stood up, and said, 'Mr Speaker, Is it come to this, that every Man who has a Place must do all the Drudgery that is enjoyn'd him? This may be true of some Underlings; but I don't believe it, I am sure 'tis false, of King George: He commands his Servants nothing, but what is according to the Laws, and for the Good of his Subjects.' Then Sir Joseph Jekyll added, 'That he was as zealous as any Man for the Service of the King and his Government: But he was of Opinion, that the doing Justice to the Nation, and punishing those who had brought it into the present calamitous Condition, was the most effectual Way both to serve the King, and at the same Time to discharge their Duty to their injur'd Country:' Concluding, however, that he did not oppose the bringing in of the Bill in Question, which was thereupon order'd to be brought in.
Sir J. Jekyll moves for a Bill for restraining the Governor, Directors, &c. of the S. S. Company from going out of the Kingdom, &c. which is ordered to be brought in. ; Debate thereon.
After this, according to the Order of the Day, the Commons were to go into a grand Committee to take into farther Consideration the present State of the publick Credit of this Kingdom: But Sir Joseph Jekyll resuming his Speech, represented, 'That before they proceeded any farther, they ought to secure the Persons and Estates of those they had reason to look upon as the Authors of the publick Misfortunes; and therefore he mov'd, That Leave be given to bring in a Bill to restrain the Sub-Governor, Deputy-Governor, Directors, Treasurer, Under-Treasurer, Cashier, Secretary, and Accomptant of the South-Sea Company, from going out of this Kingdom for the Space of one Year, and until the End of the next Session of Parliament; and for discovering their Estates and Effects, and for preventing the transporting or alienating the same.' He was seconded by Mr Horatio Walpole, who gave some Instances both of the unfair Methods by which the South-Sea Directors, and their Officers, had got immense Riches, and of their Pride and Insolence. Serjeant Pengelly, Sir Robert Raymond (fn. 7), Sir Philip Yorke, Mr Spencer Cowper, and Mr Jefferies, having likewise supported Sir Joseph Jekyll's Motion, it was carry'd Nem. Con. and order'd, that the said Bill be brought in accordingly.
A Committee of 23 appointed to inquire into all the Proceedings of the S. S Directors, &c. ; Ld. Hinchingbroke moves for taking the Sub-Governor, Directors, &c. of the S. S. Company into Custody, which is opposed by Mr Lechmere.
Upon this Mr Shippen express'd his great Satisfaction, to see a British House of Commons resume their pristine Vigour and Spirit, and act with so great Unanimity for the publick Good, He own'd the Necessity of securing the Persons and Estates of the South-Sea Directors, and their Officers: But said, 'That, in his Opinion, there were some Men in great Stations, whom, in Time, he would not be afraid to name, who were no less guilty than the Directors.' Mr Craggs being somewhat nettled at this, said, 'That he was ready to give Satisfaction to any Man that should question him, either in that House or out of it.' This Expression gave no small Offence; and thereupon the Lord Molesworth replied, 'That he had the Honour to be a Member of that House upwards of thirty Years, and never before now knew any Man bold enough to challenge the whole House of Commons, and all England besides: That for his Part, tho' past sixty, he would answer whatever Mr Craggs had to say within the House, and hoped there were young Members enough, that would not be afraid to look him in the Face out of the House.' Upon this Mr Craggs seeing the House in a great Ferment, got up again, and said, 'That by giving Satisfaction, he meant clearing his Conduct.' As soon as this was over, the House debated in what Manner they should proceed in the intended Inquiry, whether in a grand or a select Committee. After long Disputes on both Sides, it was resolv'd, Nem. Con. That a Committee of thirteen, to be chosen by Ballotting, be appointed to inquire into all the Proceedings relating to the Execution of the South-Sea Act. This done, the Lord Hinchingbroke represented, 'That it was to be fear'd, that before the Bill order'd to be brought in against the Sub-Governor, Deputy-Governor, and Directors of the South-Sea Company, was gone through both Houses, the most criminal amongst them might withdraw themselves out of the Kingdom; and therefore his Lordship mov'd, that they might be immediately order'd into Custody:' But Mr Lechmere, having shew'd the Inconveniences that might ensue thereupon, that Motion was dropt.
The Commons take into Consideration the Proposals from the S. S. Company, for ingrasting nine Millions of their Stock into the East-India Company, and nine more into the Bank. ; Debate thereon.
Jan. 5. In a grand Committee, the Commons took into Consideration the Proposals laid before the said Committee by the South-Sea Company, for ingrafting nine Millions of their Stock into the East-India Company, and the like Sum into the Bank of England, as also the Proposals of the East-India Company and the Bank, for taking in the said Stock, and after some Debate, it was resolv'd, by 173 Voices against 130, that an Ingraftment of Part of the Capital of the South-Sea Company into the Capitals of the Bank of England and the East-India Company, pursuant to the several Proposals of the said Companies, will contribute very much to the restoring and establishing publick Credit. Mr Speaker having resum'd the Chair, the Court Party mov'd, that Mr Farrer, the Chairman of the grand Committee, should the next Day report the said Resolution; but this Motion was strenuously oppos'd, and the Question being put thereupon, it pass'd in the Negative by a Majority of 153 Votes against 140; after which it was order'd, that the said Report be receiv'd on the 10th.
Sir J. Jekyll presents a Bill, For restraining the Directors of the S. S. Company from going abroad, &c. ; Farther Debate on the Ingrasting Scheme. ; A Bill in Pursuance of the Ingrasting Scheme ordered to be brought in.
Jan. 10. The Sub-Governor of the South Sea Company presented to the House several States and Accounts that had been call'd for, and then Sir Joseph Jekyll presented to the House a Bill, To restrain the Sub-Governor, Deputy-Governor, Directors, Treasurer, &c. of the South-Sea Company, from going out of this Kingdom, &c. which was read the first, and order'd to be read a second Time the next Morning. After this, Mr Farrer reported from the Committee of the whole House, the Resolution above-mention'd, about the Ingraftment of nine Millions of South-Sea Stock, upon the respective Stocks of the Bank and East India Company; and a Motion being made that the said Resolution be recommitted, it occasion'd a warm Debate, that lasted five Hours. Mr Sloper, Mr Clayton (fn. 8), Member for Woodstock, Sir Joseph Jekyll, and some others, represented, 'That the Project before them was more like to prove a dangerous Palliative, than an effectual Remedy to the present Distemper; and being founded on Injustice, would rather farther hurt than restore publick Credit.' Mr Hutcheson urged, 'That this Scheme seem'd to be calculated with the same View as the former, the ill Effects of which they intended to remedy, and rais'd several other Objections to the new Scheme, and insinuated, that if the Resolution in question were recommitted, he might propose something better for the restoring of publick Credit.' Mr Robert Walpole answer'd all Objections, and being strongly supported by Mr Craggs, Sir Robert Raymond, Sir Philip Yorke, and by several other Members; the Question was put upon the Motion for recommitting the Resolution about the Ingrastment, which was carry'd in the Negative, by 267 Voices against 134. Then the House agreed to the said Resolution, and a Bill was order'd to be brought in thereupon.
Names of the Committee appointed to inquire into the Affair of the S. S. Company,
Jan. 11. Serj. Mead reported the Names of the Committee appointed to inquire into all the Proceedings relating to the Execution of the South-Sea Act, viz. Mr Broderick, Mr Hutcheson, Sir Joseph Jekyll, Mr Wortley, Sir Tho. Pengelly, Mr William Clayton, Mr Jefferies, Lord Molesworth, Col. Strangeways, Mr Sloper, Mr Lechmere, General Ross, and Hon. Mr Dixie Windsor.
These Persons, or any five of them, were to report their Proceedings from Time to Time to the House, and to have Power to send for Persons, Papers, and Records; and the several Books and Papers which had been laid before the House by the South-Sea Company, were referr'd to the said Committee.
Who are order'd to be a Committee of Secrecy.
Jan. 16. The Bill against the Sub-Governor, DeputyGovernor, and Directors of the South-Sea Company, was order'd to be engross'd; after which it was order'd, that the Committee, appointed to inquire into all the Proceedings relating thereto, be a Committee of Secrecy.
The Bill against the S. S. Directors pass'd.
Jan. 19. The engross'd Bill against the South-Sea Directors was read the third Time, pass'd, Nem. Con. and sent up to the Lords.
Sir Tho. Pengelly acquaints the House that Mr Knight, Cashier of the S. S. Company, was gone off;
Jan. 23. Sir Thomas Pengelly, Member for Cockermouth, acquainted the House, that the Committee of Secrecy had receiv'd Information that Mr Robert Knight, Cashier of the South-Sea Company, after having been examin'd by the said Committee two Days before, was gone off.
Whereupon the Commons present two Addresses to the King on that Affair.
Hereupon it was resolv'd, Nem. Con. to present two Addresses to the King. I. To issue a Proclamation, with a Reward for discovering, apprehending, and detaining the said Robert Knight, that he may be brought to Justice. II. To give Orders forthwith to stop the Ports, and to take effectual Care of the Coasts, to prevent the said Mr Knight, or any other Officers of the South-Sea Company, from escaping out of the Kingdom. These Addresses were directly carried to the King by Mr Methuen (fn. 9), and his Majesty return'd for Answer, that he would immediately give the necessary Orders according to the Desire of the House: Accordingly a Proclamation was publish'd, with 2000 l. Reward for apprehending Mr Knight.
Notwithstanding this Precaution of the Committee, Mr Knight, who was undoubtedly intrusted with the principal Secret of this villainous Intrigue, embark'd the very same Morning, on which Serjeant Pengelly gave the above Information to the House; and landed the same Day at Calais. Whether this Escape was voluntary, or at the Suggestion of others, is not easily determin'd; though the Publick were generally inclin'd to charge it to the Direction of some Persons, whom it may be safer to guess than to name.
Sir Robert Chaplin, Sir Theodore Janssen, Mr Fran. Eyles, and Mr Sawbridge, Directors of the S. S. Company, ordered to attend in their Places. ; Gen. Ross's Motion for securing the Persons of the Directors, &c. of the S. S. Company. ; Sir Theod. Janssen and Mr Sawbridge expell'd the House.
The Commons having order'd their Doors to be lock'd, and the Keys laid on the Table, summon'd Sir Robert Chaplin, Bart. Member for Grimsby, Sir Theodore Janssen, Bart. Member for Yarmouth, Mr F. Eyles, Member for Devizes, and Mr Sawbridge, Member for Cricklade, to attend in their Places immediately; Then Gen. Ross acquainted the House, 'That they had already discover'd a Train of the deepest Villainy and Fraud that Hell ever contriv'd to ruin a Nation, which in due Time, they would lay before the House; and that, in the mean while, in order to a farther Discovery, they thought it highly necessary to secure the Persons of some of the Directors, and principal South-Sea Officers, and to seize their Papers; which was order'd accordingly. Mr Sawbridge, and Sir Theodore Janssen being come into the House, a Motion was severally made; That they were guilty of a notorious Breach of Trust, as Directors of the SouthSea Company, and thereby occasion'd very great Loss to great Numbers of his Majesty's Subjects, and had highly prejudic'd the publick Credit: And they having severally been heard in their Places, and being withdrawn, the Question was severally put upon the said Motion, and carry'd in the Affirmative Nem. Con. after which it was order'd, that the said Mr Sawbridge, and Sir Theodore Janssen be, for their said Offence, expell'd the House, and taken into the Custody of the Serjeant at Arms.
Address to the King to get Mr Knight apprehended in Foreign Parts: His Majesty gives Directions accordingly.
Jan. 24. The Commons resolv'd Nem. Con. to address the King, to give Directions to his Ministers at Foreign Courts to make Application for Mr Knight, if he should shelter himself in any of their Dominions, to be surrender'd up in order to be brought to Justice; which Directions his Majesty gave accordingly.
The Royal Assent given to two Bills against the S. S. Directors, &c.
Jan. 25. The Royal Assent was given to the Act, For restraining the Sub-Governor, Deputy-Governor, Directors, Treasurer, &c. of the South-Sea Company, from going out of this Kingdom for one Year, and until the End of the then next Session of Parliament; and for discovering their Estates and Effects, and for preventing the transporting or alienating the same: Also to an Act, To disable the present Sub-Governor, Deputy Governor, and Directors of the South-Sea Company, to take, hold, or enjoy any Office, Place, or Imployment in the said Company, or in the East-India Company, or in the Bank of England, and from voting upon Elections in the said Companies.
Sir R. Chaplin and Mr F. Eyles, Directors of the S. S. Company, expell'd the House.
Jan. 28. Sir Robert Chaplin, Bart. and Mr Francis Eyles, Directors of the South-Sea Company, attending in their Places, they were both likewise, for their Offence, expell'd the House.
Mr R. Walpole presents a Bill, For ingrafting Part of the Capital Stock of the S. S. Company into the Bank and Part into the East-India Company; which is read the first Time.
February 3. Mr Robert Walpole presented to the House a Bill, For ingrafting Part of the Capital Stock and Fund of the South-Sea Company into the Stock and Fund of the Bank of England, and another Part thereof into the Stock and Fund of the East-India Company; which was read the first Time, and order'd to be read a second Time, on the 7th of February, to which Day the Commons adjourn'd.
Debate on the second Reading thereof.
Feb. 7. The abovemention'd Bill was read a second Time, and a Motion being made for committing it to a Committee of the whole House, it occasion'd a high Debate, in which Mr Robert Walpole, Mr Heath, Member for Harwich, and some others, insisted for the Affirmative, and Mr Milner, Mr Sloper, Mr Clayton, and Sir Joseph Jekyll, for the Negative; and it was at last carry'd for the former, by 237 Voices against 139.
The Bill to prevent Stock-Jobbing read the first Time.
Feb. 8. Mr Hungerford presented to the House a Bill, For the better Establishment of publick Credit, by preventing, for the future, the infamous Practice of Stock-Jobbing, which was read the first Time, and order'd to be read a second Time.
An Address to the King, upon Advice that Mr Knight was in Custody at the Castle of Antwerp.
Feb. 9. The Lord Molesworth, from the Committee of Secrecy, acquainted the House, that they had receivd Information, that Mr Robert Knight, late Cashier of the South-Sea Company, was taken, and was in Custody in the Castle of Antwerp: Hereupon he mov'd, and it was resolv'd, Nem. Con. That an Address be presented to his Majesty, to return the Thanks of the House for his Goodness in giving such effectual Directions to his Ministers Abroad, for securing Mr Robert Knight, pursuant to the Address of the House; and to desire, that his Majesty would give Orders to his Ministers residing in the Courts of Vienna and Brussels, to make the proper Applications, and use the most effectual Instances, that the Person of the said Mr Robert Knight, together with his Papers and Effects, might be secured and delivered up to such Persons as his Majesty should appoint to receive the same; and that his Majesty would give Orders, upon the said Mr Robert Knight's being brought into Great Britain, that he be forthwith delivered and put into the Custody of the Serjeant at Arms attending the House. This Address was immediately sent to the King by Mr Methuen, who being return'd, acquainted the House, that his Majesty would give the necessary Orders and Directions, according to the Desires of the House; and that in case his Majesty's Endeavours to have him secur'd and brought over into Great Britain should succeed, his Majesty would forthwith cause him to be deliver'd into the Custody of the Serjeant at Arms attending the House. Colonel Churchill (fn. 10), Member for Castle-Rising, was accordingly order'd by his Majesty to go to the Court of Vienna, to make Instances for the delivering up of Mr Knight.
Petition from the S. S. Company for allowing them farther Time for Payment of the Money due from them to the Publick. ; Debate thereon. ; Mr Shippen. ; Mr R. Walpoles; Motion for disabling the Directors of the S.S. Company, East-India Company, and the Bank, from being chosen Members of Parliament.
Feb. 13. Upon the reading of the Order of the House for going into a grand Committee upon the Bill, For ingrafting Part of the Capital Stock and Fund of the South-Sea Company, &c. a Petition of the South-Sea Company was offer'd to be presented to the House, and the Members in Westminster-Hall, Court of Requests, and Places adjacent, having been summon'd to attend the Service of the House, the said Petition was brought up and read, praying the Consideration of the House, in relation to the Payments of the several Sums of Money, which, by the Act of Parliament of the last Session, the said Company are subject and liable to, for the Use of the Publick, at the Times, and in the Manner by the said Act directed, and praying such Relief, as to the House should seem meet. Hereupon a Motion was made, and insisted on by Mr Shippen and several others, that the said Petition be rejected; but they being oppos'd by Mr Robert Walpole, and all the Court Party, and the Question being put thereupon, it was carried in the Negative, by 253 Voices against 166; however, the said Petition was order'd to lie on the Table; and then another Motion was made by the Country Party, that it be an Instruction to the said Committee, that they have Power to receive a Clause for excluding the Directors of the SouthSea Company, the East-India Company, and the Bank of England, from being elected Members, or sitting and voting in any future Parliament: But, after some Debate, the Question being put thereupon, it was carry'd in the Negative, by a Majority of 211 Votes against 164.
Feb. 15. Mr Methuen (fn. 11), Member for Brackley, delivered to the Commons the following Message from his Majesty.
King's Message relating to the S. S. Company's Petition,
"His Majesty having receiv'd a Petition from the Court of Directors of the South-Sea Company, relating to the Payment of the Money due to the Publick from the said Company, has thought fit to transmit the said Petition to the House of Commons; and, at the same Time, to acquaint them, that his Majesty has no Objection to the Parliament's giving to the South-Sea Company such Ease and Relief, in the Time of making the Payments due to the Publick, as the House of Commons shall think fit and reasonable."
Which is referr'd to a Committee of the whole House.
This Message was referr'd to the Consideration of a Committee of the whole House the Friday following; and then a Clause was order'd to be inserted in the Bill, For ingrafting Part of the Stock and Fund of the South-Sea Company, to restrain the Corporations of the Bank of England, of the SouthSea Company, and of the East-India Company, from lending any Sum of Money to their Proprietors upon their Stock, exceeding 100£. for 100£. Capital Stock.
The Bill to prevent Stock-Jobbing read a second Time.
Feb. 16. The Bill, For preventing the infamous Practice of Stock-jobbing, was read a second Time, and committed to a grand Committee.
The Commons consider of the King's Message relating to the S.S. Company's Petition, and resolve to allow farther Time to the said Company for Payment.
Feb. 17. The Commons, in a Committee of the whole House, consider'd of the King's Message relating to the South-Sea Company's Petition, and came to the following Resolutions, viz. I. That the Payment of the Sum of four Millions one hundred fifty six thousand three hundred six Pounds four Shillings eleven Pence, due to the Publick by the South-Sea Company, by Virtue of the Act of the last Session of Parliament, and made payable within one Year, by four quarterly Payments, commencing the 25th March, 1721, be farther postpon'd to the Year 1722; and that farther Provision be made for the more effectual Payment thereof. II. That the Repayment of the Sum of One Million, which was lent to the South-Sea Company, on the 7th of June 1720, be postpon'd to the 7th June 1722.
The House take into Consideration the Report from the Secret Committee on the S. S. Affair, ; And order a Bill to be brought in for the Relief of the Sufferers.
Feb. 18. These Resolutions were reported by Mr Farrer, and agreed to by the House; and it was thereupon order'd, that it be an Instruction to the Committee of the whole House, to whom the Ingrafting Bill was committed, that they have Power to receive a Clause or Clauses pursuant to the said Resolutions. After this the House proceeded to take into Consideration the Report from the Committee of Secrecy, and came unanimously to ten several Resolutions; the Particulars whereof at large the Reader will find in the VOTES of this Session. We think it sufficient to say here, that the Substance of those Resolutions was, 'That the late Sub-Governor, Deputy-Governor and Directors of the South-Sea Company and their Officers, Aiders and Abettors, were guilty of a notorious Breach of Trust, and have thereby occasion'd great Loss and Detriment to the Company, and others his Majesty's Subjects; which has been one great Cause of the sinking of the publick Credit, and bringing upon the Nation the Distress it at present labours under, for which they ought to make Satisfaction out of their own Estates. The House likewise order'd a Bill to be brought in for the Relief of the unhappy Sufferers in the South-Sea Company.
The Report from the Secret Committee relating to Mr Aislable and Mr Charles Stanhope presented.
Feb. 25. Mr Broderick acquainted the Commons, that the Committee of Secrecy were ready to lay a farther Report before the House, at such Time as the House should appoint to receive the same. Hereupon it was order'd, that the Report be now receiv'd. Mr Broderick accordingly read the said Report, which was order'd to lie on the Table. This Report related chiefly to great Quantities of Stock and Subscriptions which appear'd to have been taken in for John Aislable, Esq; (fn. 12) Member for Ripon, and Charles Stanhope, Esq; (fn. 13) Member for Milbourne-Port, who thereupon insisted on their Innocence, and press'd, 'That a short Day might be appointed to examine that Matter; that they might have an Opportunity to clear themselves. Mr Broderick represented thereupon, ' That tho' the Secret Committee had a great deal of Evidence to support the Charge against those two Gentlemen, yet they wanted a material Witness, viz. Mr Knight, late Treasurer of the South-Sea Company, who was in safe Custody, and, in all Probability, would soon be brought over; and therefore the Committee hoped that the House would not hurry an Affair of so great Importance.' Mr Stanhope urging how heavy an Imputation of so heinous a Nature lies upon a Man who knows himself to be entirely innocent, which, he said, was his Case; and renewing his Instances for examining into it; the 28th of February was appointed for that Purpose.
The House take into Consideration that Part which related to Mr Cha. Stanhope.
Feb. 28. The Commons resum'd the farther Consideration of the Report from the Committee of Secrecy, some Parts of which relating to Mr Charles Stanhope, were read; after which, the Examination of Sir John Blunt, Mr Holditch, Mr Jacob Sawbridge, sen. Mr Henry Blunt, and others, before the Committee of Secrecy, were severally read, and they were severally call'd in and examin'd, as were also Mr Elias Turner, and others. The Charge against Mr Stanhope consisted of two Articles, I. That 10,000 l. South-Sea Stock was taken in for his Benefit, by Mr Knight, without any valuable Consideration; and that the Difference arising by the advanc'd Price thereof was paid him out of the Cash of the South-Sea. Company. II. That Turner and Company had bought 50,000 l. Stock at a low Price of the South-Sea Company, in the Name and for the Benefit of Mr Stanhope, the Difference of the advanc'd Price whereof, amounting to 250,000 l. had been paid to the said Mr Stanhope, by Sir George Caswall and Company. To prove these Articles, the Secret Committee caus'd the Examinations before-mention'd, and the Persons above-nam'd, to be examin'd; but some of the latter rather weaken'd than corroborated their former Depositions; Sir John Blunt, in particular, own'd, as to the first Article, that Mr Knight had shew'd him a Letter, which he told him was sign'd by Mr Stanhope, desiring him to take 10,000£. Stock for him; but that he did not know whether that Letter was genuine, nor what was become of it: And as for the 50,000£. Stock transferr'd to the Sword-Blade Company in Mr Stanhope's Name, Mr Sawbridge and Mr Turner had the Modesty and Good-Nature to take the whole Charge upon themselves, and own'd that they had made Use of Mr Stanhope's Name, without his Privity or Consent. These Examinations, together with the Animadversions of the Members of the Secret Committee thereupon, lasted 'till eight in the Evening, after which Mr Stanhope was heard in his Place. As to the first Article, he said, 'That for some Years past he had lodg'd all the Money he was Master of in Mr Knight's Hands, and whatever Stock Mr Knight had taken in for him, he had paid a valuable Consideration for it: And as to the second, that he could not answer for what had been done without his Consent.' When he was withdrawn, a Motion being made, and the Question being put, that it appears to this House, that during the Time that the Proposal made by the SouthSea Company, and the Bill relating thereto, were depending in this House, 10,000 l. Stock was taken in, or held by Mr Knight, late Cashier of the said Company, for the Benefit of Charles Stanhope, Esq; a Member of this House, without any valuable Consideration paid, or Security given for the Acceptance of, or Payment for the said Stock; and that the Difference arising by the advanc'd Price thereof was paid to the said Charles Stanhope, Esq; out of the Cash of the South-Sea Company, it was carry'd in the Negative by a Majority only of three Voices, viz. 180 against 177.
The House consider the Secret Committee's Report relating to Mr Aislable. ; Mr Aistable expell'd the House, and committed Prisoner to the Tower.
March 8. The House resum'd the Consideration of the Report from the Secret Committee, and that Part of the said Report which related to Mr Aislabie, Member for Ripon, was read; the Reading whereof, and the Examination of proper Evidences lasted till nine in the Evening: After which Mr Aislabie made a Speech in his own Defence. But what was deposed against him by Mr Hawes, one of the Directors, viz. 'That he had caused the Book of Accounts between them to be burnt, and given him a Discharge for the Balance amounting to about 842,000£. appear'd so strong, and so home a Proof, that after he was withdrawn, the House came to twelve several Resolutions against him, the Particulars of which may be found in the VOTES as above. It may nevertheless be proper to recite two of them, viz. I. That the said John Aislabie, Esq; has encourag'd and promoted the dangerous and destructive Execution of the late South-Sea Scheme, with a View to his own exorbitant Profit; and has combin'd with the late Directors of the South-Sea Company in their pernicious Practices, to the Detriment of great Numbers of his Majesty's Subjects, and the Ruin of the publick Credit and the Trade of this Kingdom. And, II. That he be for his said Offences expell'd the House. Then it was order'd, that the said John Aislabie, Esq; be committed Prisoner to his Majesty's Tower of London; and that Mr Speaker do issue his Warrant accordingly.
The farther Proceedings against Mr Aislabie in this Affair, will appear in the Sequel.
Sir George Caswall expell'd the House, and committed Prisoner to the Tower, on Account of his being concern'd in the S. S. Scheme.
March 10. The House took into Consideration the Case of Sir George Caswall, in the Affair of the South-Sea Company; after the Examination of which they made several Resolutions against him; the Substance of which was, 'That he had been guilty of corrupt, infamous, and dangerous Practices, highly reflecting on the Honour and Justice of Parliament, and destructive to the Interest of his Majesty's Government;' That he be, for his said Offence, expell'd the House; And be committed Prisoner to his Majesty's Tower of London; and that Mr Speaker do issue his Warrant accordingly.
The Commons consider that Part of the Report of the Secret Committee which related to the Earl of Sunderland.
March 15. The Commons proceeded in the adjourn'd Consideration of that Part of the Report from the Committee of Secrecy which related to the Earl of Sunderland; and the several Examinations of Sir John Blunt, Mr Edward Gibbon, Mr Charles Joye, James Craggs, Esq; Mr Richard Holditch, Mr John Webster, Mr Robert Surman, Sir Lambert Blackwell, Mr Francis Hawes, Mr William Astel, Sir John Fellows, and Sir Theodore Janssen, taken before the said Committee, were read; and afterwards, Mr Joye, Mr Gibbon, Mr Chester, Mr Holditch, and Mr Surman, were severally call'd in, and examin'd.
Then a Motion was made, that it appears to the House, that, after the Proposals of the South-Sea Company were accepted by the House, and a Bill order'd to be brought in thereupon; and before such Bill pass'd, 50,000£. of the Capital Stock of the South-Sea Company was taken in by Robert Knight, late Cashier of the said Company, for the Use and upon the Account of Charles Earl of Sunderland, a Lord of Parliament, and first Commissioner of the Treasury, without any valuable Consideration paid, or sufficient Security given, for Payment for, or Acceptance of the same.
This Motion occasion'd a warm Debate, that lasted till near eight at Night, but the Question being put thereupon, it was carry'd in the Negative, by a Majority of 233 Votes against 172: Which, however, occasion'd various Reflections.
Mr Hutcheson moves for an Address to the King to know what Informations his Majesty had receiv'd relating to Mr Knight.
March 17. The Order of the Day being read, for the House to take into farther Consideration the Report from the Committee of Secrecy, Mr Hutcheson represented, 'That it was impossible to proceed in so important an Affair, without exposing the Justice of Parliament to be baffled, as it had been in some late Instances, so long as they wanted so material a Witness as Mr Knight:' And therefore he mov'd, and, being seconded, it was resolv'd, Nem. Con. that an Address be presented to his Majesty, to desire that he would be pleas'd to impart to this House, the Advices his Majesty has receiv'd, or shall receive, from Abroad, concerning his Endeavours to bring over Robert Knight, late Cashier of the South-Sea Company, to answer to the Justice of the Kingdom: Which Address was order'd to be presented by such Members of the House as were of the Privy-Council.
It was by many conjectur'd, that the Remora that hindred Mr Knight's coming over, was rather in London than at Vienna or Brussels.
Mr Methuen by the King's Command lays before the House several Letters relating to that Affair.
March 20. Mr Methuen acquainted the House, that their Address, relating to Mr Knight, having been presented to the King, his Majesty had commanded him to lay before the House, several Letters and Papers containing Advices from Flanders concerning him, and, at the same Time, to acquaint the House, that his Majesty had not received any Advice of Colonel Churchill's being got to Vienna, nor any Letter from thence relating to Mr Knight; that as soon as any should come to his Majesty, they should be laid before the House: Hereupon several Letters from Mr Leathes, his Majesty's Resident at Brussels, to the Secretary of State, were read, importing in Substance. ' That pursuant to his Orders he had made the most pressing Instances with the Marquess de Prie, for the delivering up of Mr Knight: But had been answer'd that the said Marquess had not receiv'd any Instructions from Vienna about that Matter; that, in the mean Time, he was apprehensive that the same would meet with great Difficulties. That the Greffier, or Secretary, of the States of Brabant, had been twice with the said Marquess, to represent to him, that according to one of the Articles of the Joyful Entry of Brabant, which was granted them by the Emperor Charles V. and has been sworn to by all his Successors, and which they look upon as their Magna Charta, no Person charg'd with, or apprehended for any Crime, can be remov'd to be try'd out of their Province; and that the Deputies of the States insisted upon that Article, of which the Resident had enclos'd a Copy in French, which was also read in the House.
Lord Molesworth's Observations on the Difficulties started against delivering up Mr Knight.
Most of the Members appear'd surpriz'd at the unexpected Difficulties about the delivering up of Mr Knight, which was started, in the Name of the States of Brabant; and Lord Molesworth said thereupon: ' That 'twas to be hop'd, they should have a more satisfactory Answer from Vienna, than they had from Brussels: But if they had not, it would, in his Opinion, be proper to call for the Treaties lately enter'd into with the House of Austria, to know upon what Motives we have been at so great an Expence of Blood and Treasure, and have sent our Men of War to rot and be worm-eaten in the Mediterranean, to conquer Kingdoms for the Emperor?' Adding, ' That if that pretended Privilege of the States of Brabant, should be insisted upon, they might remove that Obstacle, by addressing his Majesty to grant his Pardon to Mr Knight, in Order to have him brought over: But that it was proper not to make any farther Step in that Affair, till they were acquainted with the Success of Colonel Churchill's Negotiation at Vienna.'
March 22. Mr Methuen acquainted the House, That his Majesty having, the Day before, receiv'd a Letter from Colonel Churchill, directed to the Lord Viscount Townshend, dated Vienna the 4th of March, 1720-21, had commanded him, pursuant to the Address of the House, to lay a Copy thereof before the House; which he presented to the House accordingly. The Copy of that Letter was thereupon read, importing in Substance, that he was just arriv'd at Vienna, and would not lose one Moment, in making the most pressing Instances to the Imperial Court, for the delivering up Mr Knight; and that he did not doubt Success, unless the Privileges of the States of Brabant interfer'd: Several smart Reflections were made by Lord Molesworth, upon the frivolous Pretence that was made use of, to baffle his Majesty's Endeavours to bring over Mr Knight: But the House did not think fit to come to any Resolution thereupon. The same Evening Colonel Churchill arriv'd from Vienna, which occasion'd an universal Surprize.
The Royal Assent given to the Ingrafting Bill, &c.
The Commons having attended the King in the House of Lords, his Majesty gave the Royal Assent to an Act, To enable the South-Sea Company to ingraft Part of their Capital Stock and Fund into the Stock and Fund of the Bank of England, and another Part thereof into the Stock and Fund of the EastIndia Company, and for giving farther Time for Payment to be made by the South-Sea Company to the Use of the Publick.
The Stock-jobbing Bill engross'd.
March 24. The Bill, For preventing the infamous Practice of Stock-jobbing, was order'd to be engross'd.
Colonel Churchill being come into the House, it was expected that an Account of his Negotiations would, this Day, have been laid before the Commons: But they were only given to understand, that as soon as the Dispatches he brought from Vienna could be translated, they should be laid before the House, who thereupon adjourn'd 'till the 27th.
Farther Debate on Mr Knight's not being delivered up.
March 27. Mr Methuen acquainted the House, that his Majesty had commanded him to lay before them Copies of several Letters and Papers relating to Mr Knight, which he presented to the House accordingly, with a Schedule of them. The Copies of the said Letters were read, and among them a Letter from the Emperor to the King of Great Britain, expressing his Imperial Majesty's Inclination and Readiness to comply with his Britannick Majesty's Desires, as to the delivering up Mr Knight; but that the States of Brabant having and claiming particular Privileges, which his Imperial Majesty was engag'd to maintain, it would be necessary to make Application to the said States; and his Imperial Majesty, on his Part, would not fail to support such Instances as should be made. To which Effect Prince Eugene wrote a Letter to the Marquiss de Prie, which was also read. Several smart Reflections were made, by Lord Molesworth, on the former of those two Letters: But this Affair being equally nice and important, it was resolv'd to take into Consideration the several Letters and Papers relating to Mr Knight, which his Majesty had communicated to the House, in a grand Committee on the 29th.
Mr Lechmere moves for another Address relating to the Delivering up Mr Knight;
March 29. The Commons in a grand Committee, took into Consideration the several Letters and Papers, laid before them, relating to Mr Knight. After the reading of some of those Papers, Mr Hutcheson open'd the Debate, representing, 'How much, on the one Hand, the Publick was concern'd, in having the Authors of the present Distress fully discover'd and brought to condign Punishment; and how impracticable it was, on the other Hand, to proceed in this important Inquiry, so long as the principal Agent of the late SouthSea Directors, and their Accomplices, was kept out of the Way; that in the mean Time, the publick Calamity encreasing every Day, the Nation call'd aloud for Justice: And therefore, if the Means already us'd for bringing over Mr Knight, prov'd abortive, it were advisable to have Recourse to more speedy and effectual Methods.' Sir Joseph Jekyll, and the Lord Molesworth, strongly supported Mr Hutcheson, and in particular, shew'd, 'That it was incumbent on some Persons in the Administration to have Mr Knight brought over in order fully to clear their own Innocence; otherwise, tho' acquitted, they would still be look'd upon as criminal.' Urging, 'That it was matter of Wonder, that so frivolous a Pretence, as the Privileges of the States of Brabant, should be made Use of to put a Stop to so important an Inquiry, especially considering how little those Privileges had been regarded in more material Points; and what Obligations the House of Austria lay under to the British Nation.' Sir Richard Steele offer'd something against obliging Mr Knight to be an Evidence, whether he would or no: But no great Stress was laid upon it. On the other Hand, Mr Lechmere represented, 'That in all Probability the Court of Vienna had not, at first, fully consider'd the Importance of the Instances that were made to them in his Majesty's Name, and at the Desire of the Commons of Great Britain: But that it was to be presum'd that when so wise a Prince, as the present Emperor, should be appriz'd, that the Welfare and Safety of England, to whom his Imperial Majesty has so great Obligations, depended, in some Measure, on the delivering up of Mr Knight, he would readily comply with their Desires:' Hereupon Mr Lechmere mov'd, 'That an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, returning the Thanks of this House for the Instances he has been pleas'd to make, by a Letter under his Royal Hand to his Imperial Majesty, for obtaining the delivering up of Mr Knight, pursuant to the Address of this House; and for communicating to this House, the Steps which have been taken relating thereto: And to represent to his Majesty; the Dissatisfaction which his Commons have at the Obstacles which they find have been rais'd, under the Pretence of the Privileges of the States of Brabant, against a Compliance with his gracious Endeavours: And also to represent, that this House is every Day more and more convinc'd of the high Importance it is to the Justice due to his Majesty's People, that effectual Measures be speedily taken for bringing over Mr Knight: And earnestly to beseech his Majesty, to imploy his most pressing Endeavours, in such Manner, as in his great Wisdom shall be thought proper, for attaining the just Desire of his Commons.'
No Body offer'd to oppose this Motion, which, after Mr Speaker had resum'd the Chair, Mr Broderick reported to the House; and the same being agreed to Nem. Con. it was resolv'd, That the said Resolution be laid before his Majesty by the whole House.
Which is agreed to, and presented.
March 30. The Commons, to the Number of above three hundred, with their Speaker, went to St James's, and presented the said Resolution to the King; to which his Majesty return'd the following Answer.
The King's Answer to that Address.
"I Am very well pleas'd, that the Instances which I have made for obtaining the delivering up of Mr Knight, have given you Satisfaction; I shall continue to imploy my utmost Endeavours for obtaining what you desire, and hope they will prove effectual.
The S. S. Sufferers Bill read a second Time.
April 19. The Bill for the Relief of the unhappy Sufferers in the South-Sea Company, was read a second Time and committed to a Committee of the whole House.
Mr Shippen moves for inquiring what Publick Money had been imploy'd by any Receiver, &c. of publick Money, in buying Stock in the Funds.
April 29. Mr Shippen stood up, and took Notice, 'That the House had sate a long while, and nothing had yet been done towards the restoring of Publick Credit: That, indeed, a Member of great Parts and Abilities had, at first, proposed a Scheme for that Purpose; but that, instead of proving an effectual Remedy, it appear'd at last to be a meer Palliative, which had rather inflam'd than alleviated the Distemper. That by this Time, a whole injur'd Nation call'd aloud for Vengeance; and if they neglected to hear the Voice of the People, it would look as if they had a Mind to provoke them to do themselves Justice. That it was ever his Opinion, that the only effectual Means to restore Credit, was to call those to a strict Account, who had ruin'd it; and, in particular, all such as had apply'd any Part of the Publick Money, intrusted in their Hands, in Stock-jobbing, and had rais'd vast Fortunes by robbing the Publick.' And so he mov'd, That it be an Instruction to the Committee of Secrecy, that they inquire what publick Money had been employ'd by any Treasurer, Cashier, Collector, Receiver, or other Officer concern'd in the Receipt or Payment of the publick Money, or of any other Part of his Majesty's Revenue, or by any in Trust for them, or by their Order, in buying Stock or Subscriptions in the South-Sea, or any other Company, or in Annuities, or other Parliamentary Securities, or otherwise making Use of or imploying the same, to their private Advantage since the first Day of December, 1719.
Sir W. Wyndham moves for an Account of the Warrants, on which the Commissioners of Debts due to the Army have issued Certificates.
Sir William Wyndham seconded this Motion; adding withal, 'That there was Reason to apprehend, that the Publick Money had not been administred with due Oeconomy, particularly in Relation to some Foreign Troops, that were in the Pay of England and Holland during the last War, to whom great Sums had of late been allowed, on Account of pretended Arrears, after they had separated from the English General: And therefore he mov'd, ' That the late Commissioners appointed to examine, state, and determine the Debts due to the Army, and to examine and state the Demands of several Foreign Princes and States, for Subsidies during the late War, be order'd to lay before the House Copies of the several Warrants and Sign-Manuals, by Virtue of which they issued any Certificates.
Debate on the above Motions.
Hereupon Mr R. Walpole (fn. 14) said, 'That he wonder'd to hear of such a Motion, when a little after the King's coming to the Crown, an Act of Parliament had been made for Payment of those Arrears; and that the Commissioners of Accounts had, undoubtedly, acted according to the Intent and Meaning of that Act.' To this Mr Lechmere replied, 'That he was not against the Motion that Sir William Wyndham had made, neither on the other Hand, was he about to justify it: But he would freely tell the Gentleman [meaning Mr R. Walpole] who oppos'd it, 'That while the Nation was under the Pressure of heavy Debts, he must expect that many such Motions would be made, in order to find out Methods to ease the Publick Burden. That as that Gentleman was now in a higher Post than formerly, so a great deal more was expected from him; the rather because the Scheme which he had propos'd at the Beginning of this Session for the raising the Stocks, and restoring publick Credit, had not had the desired Effect.' Mr R. Walpole replied, 'That it was known to every Body, that he ever was against the South-Sea Scheme, and had done all that in his Power lay, to hinder its taking Place; But now the Mischief was done, and Things were brought to such Extremities, he thought it his Duty, and therefore was willing to try the best Method he could think of, to extricate the Nation out of the Difficulties into which they were plung'd: That he did not pretend to work Miracles; but only to use his utmost Endeavours towards retrieving the late Misfortunes: That with this honest Intention he had promoted a Scheme which had been laid before him, and appear'd the most plausible of any then propos'd, for restoring publick, Credit: That it could not be deny'd, that while that Scheme was pursu'd, it had done some Good, and kept up the Price of Stocks; and that they fell since it had been laid aside: That, however, he never intended to raise Stocks above the intrinsick Value, for that would bring us again into the same unhappy Circumstances which the raising of them had before occasion'd.' He afterwards lamented the ill Disposition of some Persons, who, instead of concurring with others in remedying the present Distempers, us'd all possible Means to irritate and exasperate the Minds of the People: And concluded with a Motion, ' That a Day be appointed to consider of the State of the Publick Credit of the Kingdom.' This Motion was unanimously agreed to, and that Day Seven-Night appointed for that Purpose; after two Orders had been made according to the two before-mentioned Motions of Mr Shippen and Sir William Wyndham.
The Commons consider the Secret Committee's Report relating to Mr Craggs, Ten. ; Debate thereon.
April 30. The Commons proceeded to take into Consideration those Parts of the Reports of the Committee of Secrecy as related to James Craggs, Esq; deceas'd, late Post-Master-General, which having been read, Mr Broderick, Member for Stockbridge, mov'd, 'That the said Mr Craggs having taken 40,000 £. South-Sea Stock without paying for it, or giving sufficient Security for the Payment of the same, his Estate might be made liable to the same Forfeitures with those of the late Directors.' Hereupon Mr Grey Neville desir'd, 'That the Gentlemen concern'd in this Affair, two of whom were Members of the House, might first be heard by their Counsel, and produce what Witnesses they had, before the House came to any Resolution in this Matter.' Mr Robert Walpole seconded him, and, in particular, said, 'He hoped the House would not break their known Rules, which were, not to condemn any one without first hearing them; and sure they would not deny this Piece of Justice to their own Members.' Mr Hora tio Walpole (fn. 15) spoke to the same Purpose; and then Mr Trefusis, Member for Penryn, stood up, and said, 'That neither he nor Mr Newsham were at all prepar'd, not expecting that this Affair would have come on this Day, because there was another Part in the Report before it, and therefore he desir'd the House would give them Time to get their Witnesses:' He added, 'He had never been used to speak in the House, or but very rarely, and his Brother-in-Law, Mr Newsham, Member for Lestwithiel, not at all, which he hoped the House would take into Consideration, and allow them Counsel to speak for them: That by Mr Craggs's Death, his Estate was devolv'd to them and Mr Elliot, in Right of their Wives, the Deceased's three Daughters: That there was no Manner of Crime laid to their Charge; and since Mr Craggs was dead, and could not answer for himself, he hoped the House would allow them Time and Counsel.' This was oppos'd by Sir Joseph Jekyll; but Mr Robert Walpole said, 'That since the two Gentlemen concern'd had not been us'd to speak in the House, and therefore were not likely to make so good a Defence as otherwise they might, he thought it reasonable to allow them Counsel, and give them Time to prepare.' To this Mr Lechmere reply'd, 'That it might, indeed, seem somewhat hard to deny Counsel to Gentlemen who were not us'd to speak in the House; but he doubted not but that good-natur'd Gentleman that spoke last, who had so good a Capacity, and was so able to advise them, would sit by them, and by his Assistance be as useful to them, as if they had Counsel, as he had been to several others in the like Case.' No Return was made to this Reply, upon which the Motion for allowing Counsel was dropt.
The Commons resolve, that the Estate of Mr Craggs sen. be applied to the Relief of the Sufferers by the South-Sea.
May 1. The Order of the Day for taking into Consideration those Parts of the Reports from the Committee of Secrecy, which related to Mr James Craggs, deceas'd, late PostmasterGeneral, being read, and several Evidences being examined, the House, among other Resolutions relating thereto, came to the following, viz. I. That the said James Craggs was a notorious Accomplice and Confederate with Robert Knight and some of the late Directors of the South-Sea Company, in carrying on their corrupt and scandalous Practices; and did, by his wicked Influence, and for his own exorbitant Gain, promote and encourage the pernicious Execution of the late SouthSea Scheme. And II. That all the Estate real and personal, of which the said James Craggs was seiz'd or possess'd from and after the 1st Day of December, 1719, (over and above what he stood seiz'd or possess'd of on the said 1st Day of De cember) be apply'd for and towards the Relief of the unhappy Sufferers in the South-Sea Company.
Mr Methuen lays before the House several Letters, &c. relating to Mr Knight. ; Debate thereon. ; Motion in favour of Mr Aislable rejected.
May 6. Mr Methuen, by the King's Command, said before the House Copies of several Letters and Papers relating to Mr Knight, which were read; particularly, a Letter from Mr Leathes, the British Resident at Brussels, containing an Account of the Excuses and Pretences made use of to elude his Instances for the delivering up of the said Mr Knight. Those Excuses were thought so frivolous, that a Motion was made for prohibiting the Importation of all Commodities of the Growth and Manufacture of the Austrian Netherlands, particularly Lace and Lawn, till such time as Mr Knight had been deliver'd up and sent over: But it was thought more proper, that a Committee be appointed to consider of the State of the Trade between this Kingdom and the Austrian Netherlands, and to report the same, as it should appear to them, to the House; which Committee was appointed. Then a Motion was made, that it might be an Instruction to the grand Committee on the Bill, For the Relief of the unhappy Sufferers, &c. that they should receive a Clause, that the paternal Estate of Mr Aislabie might not be liable to the same Forfeitures with the other Part of his Estate; but tho' this Motion was strongly supported by three Members, yet it was rejected with general Indignation.
Mr Tho. Vernon expell'd the House for a corrupt Application to Gen. Ross, in favour of Mr Aislable.
May 8. General Ross acquainted the House, That that Morning, while he was at the Secret Committee, he receiv'd a Note, that a Gentleman was at the Door to speak with him, and he went out, and found there Mr Vernon, Member for Whitchurch, who acquainted him, that he had something to say to him, which he desir'd might go no farther; whereupon General Ross told him, he hoped he had nothing to say to him which might be improper for him to hear; after which, Mr Vernon told him, there was a Dispofition in the House to be favourable to Mr Aislable, in the Bill upon which the House was to be in a. Committee that Day, and that it was in his Power to do him Service, and for the same, Mr Aislabie would make him any Acknowledgment, in any Manner he should think fit; upon which General Ross, from what he first said, concluding it was upon some corrupt Matter, left him in a Passion, and thought it his Duty to acquaint the Committee of Secrecy therewith, and the said Committee thought it was proper to have the Matter laid before the House. To this Mr Vernon was heard in his Place, and own'd the said Words and Circumstances; withal declaring, that he did not mention or intend any thing of Money, or any other corrupt Matter, and begg'd the Pardon of the Gentleman, and of the House, if he had committed any Offence, he saying the Words without any corrupt Intention, and only on account of Friendship, being nearly related to Mr Aislable: And then Mr Vernon withdrew. Hereupon it was resolv'd, That it appears to this House, that Thomas Vernon, Esq; hath made a corrupt Application to General Ross, and that he be expell'd this House. It was also order'd, That the Thanks of this House be given to General Ross, for the Justice he had done to this House and to his Country, in laying the Application made to him by Thomas Vernon, Esq; before this House. And Mr Speaker gave him the Thanks of the House accordingly. After this, the Commons, in a grand Committee, made some Progress in the Bill, For Relief of the unhappy Sufferers in the South-Sea Company, &c. and added Mr Aislabie's Name and Estate.
Motion for an Address to the King, to remove Mr Elliot from being one of the Commissioners of Excise, on account of his interfering in Elections.
May 11. A Petition of the Burgesses of the Borough of Boralston, in the County of Devon, was presented to the House and read; complaining of an undue Election and Return for the said Borough, which was order'd to be heard at the Bar of the House on the 6th of June.
The Honourable Mr St John Broderick, Son of the Lord Viscount Middleton, standing Candidate for Boralston, in the room of Mr Carteret, lately made one of the Post-Masters General, Captain Philip Cavendish (fn. 16) was set up against him, and tho' Mr Broderick poll'd most of the old Legal Voters, yet the Portreeve, who was Mr Elliot, one of the Commissioners of the Excise admitted to poll several Persons who had no Right at all; and by that Means got a Majority for, and return'd Captain Cavendish. The Petition above-mention'd having set forth the whole Matter, General Ross and Mr Sloper represented, 'That if the Commissioners of the Excise were suffered to make Parliament-Men, they had as good let them fit in the House. That it was Matter of Wonder, that when by an Act of Parliament, the meanest Officer in the Excise is not suffer'd to meddle in Elections, one of the Commissioners should dare to do it in so notorious a Manner.' Hereupon it was mov'd to address his Majesty to remove Mr Elliot, but it was thought proper to defer that Motion 'till after hearing the Merits of that Election.
A Clause order'd to disable the Sub Governor, Directors, &c. of the S. S. Company; as also Mr Aislable, to enjoy any Place, or fit in Parliament.
May 18. It was order'd, that the grand Committee on the Bill, For the Relief of the unhappy Sufferers, &c. have Power to receive a Clause for disabling the late Sub-Governor, Deputy-Governor, Directors, Cashier, Deputy-Cashier, and Accomptant of the South-Sea Company, and also John Aissabie, Esq; to hold or enjoy any Office, or Place of Trust or Profit under his Majesty, or to fit or vote in either House of Parliament.
Debate concerning the Allowances to be given to the S.S. Directors, &c. out of their Estates.
May. 23. In a grand Committee, a farther Progress was made in the Bill, For the Relief of the unhappy Sufferers in the South-Sea Company; and the chief Matter in Debate was, what Allowance should be given to the late Directors out of their Estates? Mr Loundes propos'd an eighth Part; to which it was objected, That it would be too much for some who had the most bulky Estates, and consequently had been deepest in the Guilt; and too little for others that had but small Estates, and were only passively criminal, by not entering their Dissent to the fraudulent Management of the rest.
Debate concerning Sir J. Fellows. ; Mr Joye's Allowance.
May 25. The Commons, in a grand Committee on the South-Sea Sufferers Bill, resum'd the Consideration of the Petitions of the late Directors of the South-Sea Company. The Debate began with Sir John Fellows, the Sub-Governor, in whose Behalf Mr. Sloper mov'd, that since it did not appear that he had been so active in the late vile and pernicious Practices as some others had, he might be allow'd 20,000£. out of his Estate. Mr Hungerford reduc'd it to 15,000 l. others to 12,000 l. and Mr Robert Walpole having at last propos'd 10,000 l. the same was agreed to without any Division. Mr Joye, the Deputy-Governor appearing to have been deeply; concern'd in the Guilt, it was agreed to allow him only 5000 l.
Mr Astell's Allowance.
Then the Committee proceeded alphabetically to the Directors, and it was unanimously agreed to allow Mr. Aftell 5000 l.
Debate concerning Sir Lambert Blackwell.
A Debate arising, whether to allow Sir Lambert Blackwell 5000 l. or 10,000 l. and he having many Friends in the House, it was, upon a Division, carry'd for 10,000 l. by 112. Votes against 108.
Debate concerning Sir John Blunt.
After this, there was a long Debate about Sir John Blunt: Mr Laurence Carter mov'd to allow him only one Shilling; Lord James Cavendish 1000£. and Mr Plummer 5000£. Sir Joseph Jeykll mov'd for 10,000£. and was seconded by General Ross, Lord Molesworth, Mr Jefferies, and Mr Windsor; who all spoke very warmly on his Behalf; alledging, that he had been more ingenuous in his Examination before the Secret Committee, than any of the late Directors; and had let them into a great many Secrets, which otherwise they could not have known. To this it was answer'd, by Mr Sloper, Mr Milner, Mr John Smith, and Mr Horatio Walpole, 'That he had been the chief Contriver and Promoter of all the Mischief, and therefore ought to be most severely punish'd.' Mr Sloper added, ' That he was grown to that Height of Pride and Insolence last Summer, that he could not give a civil Answer to Persons far above him. And thereupon instanc'd in his Behaviour one Day at the Treasury, of which he was himself Witness, when a Relation of a great Man asking Sir John for a Subscription, the Upstart Knight, with a great deal of Contempt, bid him go to his Cousin Walpole, and desire him to sell his Stock in the Bank, and by that Means he might be supply'd.' Hereu, on Mr. Robert Walpole shew'd, 'That Sir John Blunt was a Projector of many Years standing; and had been the Author of several fallacious Schemes, by which unwary People had been drawn in to their utter Ruin.' And to this Purpose, instanc'd a Project for a Linen Manufactury; but Mr Horatio Walpole said thereupon, 'That was not his first: For there was a Gentleman that sat next to him, [meaning Mr Jessop,] whom Sir John had drawn into a Project for bringing Water to London from a great Distance, which was to out-do the New-River Water, by which the Subscribers lost all their Money, tho' Sir John himself got some Thousands by it.' This was confirm'd by Mr Jessop himself; nevertheless, the Lord Hinchingbroke mov'd for allowing Sir John Blunt 10,000£. urging, 'That the Secret Committee had promis'd him Favour for his Openness in his Examination:' Upon which General Ross desir'd, 'That the noble Member who spoke last might explain himself, since he seem'd to intimate, as if the Secret Committee had us'd underhand Dealings. Adding, that for his Part he knew of no Promise ever made to Sir John Blunt upon that Account; that he was sure he never made any; and he believ'd he could answer for all the Rest, that there never was any such Thing intimated to Sir John.' The Lord Hinchingbroke reply'd, that if that honourable Member would repeat his Words as he spoke them, he would explain himself: Upon which the Matter dropp'd. Then the Question being put for allowing Sir John Blunt 1000 £. it was carry'd in the Affirmative, by 138 Votes against 94.
Debate concerning Sir R. Chaplin. ; Mr Eyles's Allowance. ; Debate concerning Mr Edmondson. ; Debate concerning Mr Gibbon, Mr Gore, and Sir W. Hammond. ; Debate concerning Mr Mawes. ; Debate concerning Mr Horsey. ; Debate concerning Mr Holditch.
June 1. In a grand Committee of the South-Sea Sufferers Bill, the Commons resum'd the Consideration of what Allowances should be given to the late Directors out of their Estates; and, continuing in the alphabetical Order, began with Sir Robert Chaplin. Lord Molesworth, and Sir John Eyles, Member for Chippenham, having spoke in his Favour, it was agreed, without dividing, to allow him 10,000£. and the same Allowance was given to Sir William Chapman, Mr Chester, and Mr Child. A Motion being made to give Mr. De la Porte the like Sum, the Lord Molesworth was for reducing it to 7000 l. but upon the Question, whether to allow him 10,000 l. or 7000 l. it was carry'd for 10,000 l. by 150 Votes against 69. Mr Eyles's Case appearing in a favourable Light, he was allow'd 20,000 £. without dividing; and Mr Edmondson's Estate amounting to little more than 5000 l. it was mov'd to allow him the whole, and to leave him out of the Bill; but after some Debate, it was agreed to al low him only 3000£. Then the Question was put, whether to allow Mr Gibbon 15,000£. or 10,000£. and it was resolv'd for the latter without dividing. It appearing that Mr Gore and Sir William Hammond had little or no Share in the fraudulent Contrivances of the leading Directors, the first was allow'd 20,000£. the other 10,000£. It was propos'd to give Mr Hawes 1000£. But Sir Nathaniel Gould having observ'd, that he was very active in the late vile Practices, and had occasion'd the Ruin of many People, particularly of some Gentlemen he had been under in the Navy-Office, Mr Docminicque mov'd thereupon, and it was agreed, without dividing, to allow him only 31 l. being the odd Money of the Particulars of his Estate. Lord Hinchingbroke and Sir Robert Rich spoke in Favour of Mr Horsey, and mov'd for allowing him 10,000 £. which was carry'd, without dividing; after which it was debated, whether to allow Mr Holditch 500 £. 1000 £. or 5000 £. the Voices were equally divided, viz. 86 and 86, upon which Mr Clayton, the Chairman, gave the casting Vote for 5000£.
Debate concerning Sir T. Janssen.
June 2. The Commons, in a grand Committee, proceeded on the same Affair, and began with Sir Theodore Janssen: Mr Horatio Walpole and Sir Richard Steele having spoke in his Favour, they were answer'd by General Ross and Sir Joseph Jekyll; but Mr Trenchard moving for allowing him 50,000 l. and the Question being put thereupon, it was carry'd in the Affirmative, by a Majority of 134 Votes against 118.
Debate concerning Sir J. Jacobson.
Sir Jacob Jacobson being one of those who had the least Share in the Management of the fraudulent Scheme, Mr Hungerford mov'd to allow him 11,000 £. which was all his Estate, except 481 l. 4s. which was agreed to without a Negative.
Debate concerning Mr Ingram.
Mr Ingram's Case being much the like, Mr Pulteney mov'd for allowing him 12,000 l. near three fourths of his Estate, and being seconded by Lord Hinchingbroke, it was carry'd without dividing.
Debate concerning Sir J. Lambert.
The next was Sir John Lambert: Some Members were inclin'd to believe him innccent, as to the first Projection of the villainous Scheme, and thereupon a Motion was made to give him 20,000 l. some would have reduc'd it to 10,000 l. some to 5000 £. and some to 3000 l. But at last the Question being put for 5000 l. it was carry'd without dividing.
Debate concerning Sir Har. Master and Mr Morley.
Then it was mov'd, and carry'd without Opposition, to allow Sir Harcourt Master 5000 l. and in the same Manner Mr Morley had 1800 £. allow'd him.
Debate concerning Mr Page.
A Member having mov'd to allow Mr Page 10,000 l. another would have reduc'd it to 5000 l. but the Question being put, which of the two Sums should be given him, it was carry'd for 10,000 l. without a Division.
Debate concerning Col. Raymond.
Col. Raymond was next; and his Case appearing favourable Mr Heysham mov'd for allowing him 30,000 £. and being seconded by Mr Tuffnel, Sir Robert Raymond, and Mr Hungerford, no Opposition was made to Mr Heysham's Motion.
Debate concerning Mr Read.
After this, Mr Sloper mov'd for allowing Mr Read 10,000 l. and, being back'd by Sir John Ward and Mr Docminicque, the same was carry'd without any Debate.
In the like Manner the Sum of 14,000 l. was allow'd to Mr Reynolds.
Debate concerning Mr Sawbridge. ; Debate concerning Mr Tillard and Mr Turner.
June 3. Mr Hungerford having mov'd for allowing Mr Sawbridge 10,000 l. he was oppos'd by Mr Lowndes, Lord Molesworth, Sir Adolphus Oughton, and Mr Horatio Walpole: But at last, a Member moving for 5000 l. it was agreed to without dividing. In the same Manner the Sum of 15,000 l. was allow'd to Mr Tillard, and 800 l. to Mr Turner, which was near his whole Estate.
Debate on Mr Surman.
Having gone through with the Directors, the Committee proceeded to Mr Surman, the Deputy Cashier, whose Case occasion'd a Debate of about an Hour and a half. Mr Grey Neville, who spoke most in his Behalf, represented, ' That in the Course of the whole Affair he had only acted as a Servant, and by the Command either of Mr Knight, or of the Directors, and therefore strenuously insisted, that he might be left out of the Bill.' Mr Arthur Moore spoke likewise in his Favour, and mov'd to allow him 30,000 £. Mr Hungerford would have reduc'd it to 20,000 l. Mr Lechmere to 12,000 l. another Member to 10,000 £. and another to 5000 l. All these were oppos'd by Sir Joseph Jekyll, Serjeant Pengelly, and Mr Horatio Walpole, who would not have allow'd him above 20 £. or 30 l. At last, the Question being put for allowing him 5000 l. it was agreed to without dividing.
June 6. Upon hearing the Merits of the controverted Election of Boralston in Devonshire, [See Page 246.] it was resolv'd, that Mr Broderick was duly elected.
Debate concerning Mr Grigsby.
June 10. The Commons, in a Committee of the whole House, consider'd farther of the South-Sea Sufferers Bill, particularly with Relation to the Allowances to be given to Mr Grigsby. Mr Arthur Moore mov'd to allow him 10,000 l. but another Member said, 'That since that Upstart was once so prodigally vain as to bid his Coachman feed his Horses with Gold, no doubt but he could feed on it himself; and therefore he mov'd, that he might be allow'd as much Gold as he could eat, and that the rest of his Estate might go towards the Relief of the Sufferers.' After this a Motion being made for allowing him 2000£. it was carried without a Division.
Debate concerning Mr Aislabie.
Mr Aislabie's Case came next under Consideration. Mr Robert Walpole mov'd, that so much of his Estate might be allow'd him, as he was possess'd of towards the End of the Year 1719, before the South-Sea Bill was brought in, and this Motion was back'd by Mr Erle, Sir Charles Hotham, Mr Lowndes, Mr Lechmere, Mr Ward, and Mr Palmer. On the other hand, Mr Freeman mov'd, that all he had got since the Year 1714, might be confiscated and apply'd to the Use of the Publick; and he was supported by Sir Joseph Jekyll, who urg'd 'That it was in the Power of the Lords of the Treasury to have prevented the Mischief that had been done by the Directors.' Mr Broderick, Mr Sloper, Sir William Wyndham, and some others, spoke on the same Side, and the Question being put, that all the Estate which Mr Aislabie was possess'd of in the Year 1719, be left for him and his Family; the same, upon a Division, was carry'd in the Negative by a Majority of 18 Votes. Then another Motion was made, and the Question put, for allowing him and his Family all the Estate he was possess'd of on the 20th of October 1718, which was carry'd in the Affirmative by a Majority of 113 Voices against 95.
The following is the Balance of the Estates of the late Sub-Governor, Deputy-Governor, Directors, Deputy-Cashier, and Accomptant, of the South-Sea Company, as deliver'd upon Oath to the Barons of the Exchequer; together with the Allowance made, by the Committee, to each Person out of their respective Estates.
June 16. Mr Methuen deliver'd to the House the following Message from his Majesty, viz.
King's Message for a Subsidy to Sweden, and for satisfying the Owners of two Ships burnt on account of the Plague.
HIS Majesty having taken the first Opportunity upon the Death of the late King of Sweden, to renew the ancient Alliances between this Kingdom and Sweden, and having stipulated by a Treaty to pay a Subsidy to that Crown, hath order'd that Treaty to be laid before the House of Commons, and hopes, from their known Zeal and Affection for the Protestant Religion, and the true Interest of their Country, that they will enable him to make good the Engagements he has enter'd into upon this Occasion.
"His Majesty being inform'd that two Ships call'd The Bristol Merchant and Turkey Merchant, now lying under Quarentine, did arrive from Cyprus, and other Parts of Turky, infected with the Plague, and have Cotton, Wool, and other Goods on Board which are dangerous to spread the Infection; and conceiving it necessary, for the Preservation of the Health of his Subjects, that the said Ships and their Ladings be burnt and destroy'd, and that a reasonable Satisfaction be given to the Owners, hath, by Advice of his Privy-Council, caus'd the Value thereof to be computed by his Majesty's Officers, and order'd those Computations to be laid before the House of Commons, that Provision may be made for satisfying the same.
Most of the Members, who expected a Message of another Nature, and that they were to be acquainted with the near Prospect of a Peace in the North, were not a little surpriz'd at this Demand of a Subsidy for Sweden: Hereupon the Consideration of the said Message was put off to the next Day; and Mr Methuen having, with the said Message, deliver'd the several Papers, with a Schedule of them, the same was read, and it was order'd, That the said Papers do lie on the Table, to be perus'd by the Members of the House.
June 17. The House proceeded to consider the King's Message of the Day before, which was again read by Mr Speaker. The Copy of the Treaty between Great Britain and Sweden, January 21, 1719-20, and of its separate Articles, were also read: And a Motion being made, 'That a Supply be granted to his Majesty, to make good the Engagements he had enter'd into with the Crown of Sweden; and to give a reasonable Satisfaction to the Owners of the Ships call'd, The Bristol Merchant, and The Turkey Merchant, in case it were found necessary for the Preservation of the Health of his Majesty's Subjects, that the said Ships and their Ladings should be burnt and destroyed.' This Motion occasion'd a long Debate. Mr Shippen, Sir William Wyndham, Sir Joseph Jekyll, Lord Molesworth, and Mr Butler, Member for Sussex, who were against the Motion, desir'd to know, 'Whether we were to give 72,000£. to Sweden, besides the maintaining a great Fleet with 6000 Seamen in the Baltick, which they thought a sufficient Charge to the Nation, without paying so great a Subsidy? Urging, 'That before this last Treaty with Sweden, there had been a Rupture between the two Nations; and Hostilities and great Depredations committed by the Swedish Privateers on our Merchants; so that before any Subsidy be given to that Crown, Accounts ought first to be stated and settled, and it might appear upon the Balance, that Sweden is indebted to us.' To this it was answer'd, by Mr Robert Walpole, Mr Horatio Walpole, Mr Lechmere, Lord Barrington, and other Courtiers, 'That the Subsidy allowed to Sweden by this last Treaty, and the Squadron sent to their Assistance, was no more than had been stipulated by former Engagements; but that the said Subsidy was not like to be demanded any more, the Preliminaries of the Peace between the Czar of Muscovy and the Crown of Sweden, being in a manner settled. Neither did the King desire any new Tax for it, the Land and Malt-Tax being sufficient to answer all this Year's Expences.' Mr R. Walpole added, 'That he was extremely glad, he could at the same Time acquaint the House, that his Majesty's Endeavours to procure a general Peace had been so successful, that an advantageous Treaty with Spain was actually agreed on and sign'd.' Hereupon the Motion for a Supply being carried without a Division, the next Question was, that the House go into a Committee to consider of that Motion: The Country Party would fain have put it off to a long Day; but the Courtiers having mov'd for the 19th, it was carried without dividing.
June 19. The Commons went into a Committee of the whole House to consider of the Motion for a Supply; and at the same Time took into Consideration both his Majesty's Message, and the late Treaty with Sweden, upon which there arose a very warm Debate. Sir William Wyndham declar'd himself against the Subsidy to Sweden, as an unnecessary Charge; and Lord Molesworth went to the Bottom of, and laid open, the whole Affair of the Northern War. His Lordship said, 'That he would go as far as any Man to maintain and support the Honour and Dignity of the Crown of Great Britain; but that, on the other Hand, he was not for squandring away unnecessarily the small Remainder of the Wealth of the Nation. That by our late Conduct we are become the Allies of the whole World, and the Bubbles of all our Allies: But when we have Occasion for our Allies, we are oblig'd to pay them well; and to that Purpose his Lordship instanc'd in the Dutch Troops, that came over to our Assistance in the late Rebellion.' He added, 'That as to our Alliances with Sweden, it was a Matter of great Intricacy and Nicety; because the Treaties which England has, in divers Times, made with Sweden, are partly contradictory;' and thereupon his Lordship entred into a Detail of the Treaties of Roschild and Travendall, made in the Reigns of King Charles II. and William III. 'That the Engagements lately entred into with the Crown of Sweden were likewise, in some Measure, contrary to the Treaties subsisting with Denmark; particularly as to the securing to the Duke of Holstein the Dutchy of Sleswick; and directly opposite to the Measures formerly concerted with the Czar of Muscovy, in order to engage him to check the Fierceness and Ambition of the late King of Sweden. That, after all, it seem'd unreasonable to expect that the Czar should restore his Conquests, whilst other Princes kept the Spoils of Sweden: And therefore in order to engage the Czar to yield what he had gain'd, it were but just that the King of Prussia should give up Stetin, and the Elector of Hanover, Bremen; and Werden. His Lordship own'd, that the distress'd Condition to which the Swedes had been reduc'd, was really worthy of Compassion: But that, on the other Hand, it must be consider'd, that they had been, in great measure, the Authors of their own Misfortunes, by their tame Submission to a despotick, tyrannical Prince, and by Sacrificing their whole Substance to enable him to carry on his unjust, rash, and ambitious Designs; and that any Nation who follow'd their Example deserv'd the same Fate. To this Purpose, his Lordship took Notice of the hard Usage of the Subjects of Mecklenburgh from their Prince, which by the way, he shrewdly insinuated to have been one of the Causes of the late Rupture with the Czar; but that after all, England ought not to intermeddle with the Affairs of the Empire, that the getting Naval Stores for our Shipping was the main Advantage we reap'd from our Trade in the Baltick: And he own'd that Hemp was a very necessary Commodity, particularly at this Juncture, [At this Expression there was a general Laugh] but that, in his Lordship's Opinion, if due Encouragement were given to some of our Plantations in America, we might be supply'd from thence, at a much cheaper Rate than from Sweden or Norway.' Mr Robert Walpole, and Mr H. Walpole answer'd Lord Molesworth; who being supported by Sir Joseph Jekyll, Mr Lechmere reply'd to the latter; and the Question being put, That a Supply be granted to his Majesty to enable him to make good the Engagements he has entred into with the Crown of Sweden? It was carry'd in the Affirmative, by 197 Voices against 136. Then another Question being put, That a Supply be granted to his Majesty, to be apply'd to the Satisfaction of the Masters, Owners, and Freighters of the Ships Bristol Merchant, and Turkey Merchant, which are intended to be burnt and destroy'd for Preservation of his Majesty's Subjects against the Plague; It was carry'd without Opposition.
June 20. Mr. Farrer reported the two Resolutions beforerecited for granting a Supply to his Majesty, for the Purposes therein mention'd, which were agreed to.
72,000£. granted for a Subsidy to Sweden, and 23,935£. for the two Ships burnt on account of the Plague.
June 21. The Commons, in a grand Committee, consider'd of the Supply, and resolv'd to grant to his Majesty, I. A Sum not exceeding 72,000£. to enable him to make good the Engagements he had entred into with the Crown of Sweden. II. A Sum not exceeding 23,935£. to be apply'd to the Satisfaction of the Owners of the two Ships, which were to be burnt and destroy'd, for the Preservation of his Majesty's Subjects against the Plague.
The York-Buildings Company impower'd to dispose of Part of the Forfeited Estates, which they had purchas'd, by Way of Lottery.
June 22. Mr Farrer reported the two foregoing Resolutions, which being agreed to, Mr Loundes made a Motion for adding a Clause to the Malt-Bill, for enabling the Company of York Buildings to dispose of Part of the forfeited Estates by them purchased, by selling Annuities by Way of Lottery: This was oppos'd by Mr Arthur Moore, and some other Members; but Mr Hutcheson and Mr Lechmere having back'd Mr Loundes's Motion, the same upon a Division was carry'd by a Majority of 90 Voices against 66, and afterwards pass'd into a Law.
The House agree with the Committee in their Allowances to the S. S. Directors, except Mr Astell, Sir Lambert Blackwell, Sir John Blunt, and Mr Hawes.
June 28. The House went through all the Schedules of the Estates of the late Sub-Governor, Deputy-Governor, Directors, &c. of the South-Sea Company, and agreed with the Committee, as to the Allowances given them, [See p. 251.] except Mr Astell's, to whom they gave 10,000£. Sir Lambert Blackwell, who had 15,000£. Sir John Blunt, who got 5000£. and Mr Hawes 5000£. It was mov'd to reduce Sir Theodore Janssen's Allowance to 30,000£. but upon a Division, it was carry'd in the Negative by a great Majority.
A Clause in favour of Mr Alsabie.
Then a Clause was offer'd by Colonel Earle, to be added to the Bill, in favour of Mr Aislabie, viz. for excepting from the Forfeiture, his Country House, Gardens, and Park, as also his Lady's Jewels and Houshold Goods; which was brought up and read, and a Debate arising thereupon, the same was adjourn'd to the next Day, when, it was agreed to without any Division.
Debate concerning the forfeited Estates of the S.S. Directors.
This being over, the Remainder of the Sitting was spent in a Debate of near three Hours upon the Question, whether as the Bill stood, to vest the forfeited Estates in Trustees, or to mulct the late Directors and others, at a certain Sum? A Clause for the Mulct was offer'd by Mr Hutcheson, who propos'd a Million and Half Sterling, Sir Thomas Cross mov'd for 1,400,000£. but not agreeing upon the Sum, the Debate was adjourn'd to the third of July.
Debate concerning Mr Craggs's Estate.
July 3. The House resum'd the adjourn'd Debate upon the Clause offer'd to be added to the Sufferers Bill, viz. That the Estate of which the late Mr Craggs, senior, was possess'd in October 1719, be vested in the Hands of the Trustees appointed by this Bill to dispose of the Estates of the late Directors; which being strenuously oppos'd by the Court Party, was, upon a Division, carry'd in the Negative, by 104 Voices against 90.
Debate on the Proposal for laying a Mulct on the S.S. Directors.
Then Sir John Eyles, Bart. (fn. 17), Member for Chippenham, propos'd, That a Clause for vesting the Estates of the forfeiting Persons in themselves, and only laying a Mulct up on them, might be read, which being done accordingly, Sir Thomas Cross, Member for Westminster, spoke to it, and suggested, 'That it were more advantageous to the Publick, either to mulct the Directors, or to allow them 15 per Cent. out of their Estates for prompt Payment:' But this being warmly oppos'd by Mr Jessop (fn. 18), Member for Aldbrough, Mr Milner, Sir Nathaniel Gould, and Lord Molesworth, the Motion for reading the said Clause a second Time was rejected without a Division.
The S. S. Sufferers Bill read the third Time, and pass'd.
July 6. The engrossed Sufferers Bill was read a third Time with a new Title, viz. A Bill, For raising Money upon the Estates of the late Sub-Governor, Deputy-Governor, Directors, &c. which, with other Amendments, was pass'd and sent up to the Lords by Mr Clayton. It is observable, that after the third Reading over of the whole Bill, which took up above two Hours, Mr Milner propos'd a Rider to be added to it, importing, That the Houshold Goods, Plate, Linen, &c. of the Directors, might be excepted out of the Bill; but this Motion was rejected with Disdain.
July 11. Mr Methuen acquainted the House, That he had a Message sign'd by his Majesty, which was read by Mr Speaker as follows:
The King's Message relating to the Civil List Debts.
HIS Majesty finds it necessary to acquaint his loyal House of Commons with the Difficulties he labours under, by Reason of Debts contracted in his Civil Government, which being computed to Lady-Day last, do amount to more than five hundred and fifty thousand Pounds.
"If the Provision, made by an Act of the last Session of Parliament, for discharging this Debt, had not hitherto prov'd in a very great Degree ineffectual, his Majesty had not been under a Necessity of applying again to Parliament upon this Occasion; but being resolv'd to cause a Retrenchment to be made of his Civil List Expences for the future, and finding that such a Retrenchment cannot well be effected, without discharging the present Arrears, has order'd the Accounts thereof to be laid before the House, and hopes he may be impower'd to raise ready Money for that Purpose, on the Civil List Revenues; which, to avoid the laying any new Burden on his People, his Majesty proposes shall be replac'd to the Civil List, and reimburs'd, by a Deduction to be made out of the Salaries and Wages of all Offices, and the Pensions, and other Payments, from the Crown."
Mr Shippen's Speech thereon.
After the reading of this Message, Mr Shippen stood up, and took Notice of this new and unusual Method of asking for Money, not from the Throne, and, at the Beginning of a Session, as it had always been the Custom in former Reigns; but now, by a Message, towards the End of the Session, when most of the Members were gone Home: 'Look round about the House, Gentlemen, said he, and see how few Members are present, when a Business of this Consequence is to be debated.' But besides the Unseasonabieness of the Time, Mr Shippen observ'd, 'That this Message was no less extraordinary as to another Circumstance: For whereas the Ways and Means of raising Supplies were always left to the Commons; here, not only the Sum, but the Way of raising it, was pointed out to them, which was making the House a perfect Parliament of Paris. That if Things were brought to that Pass, it might be easy for any King, whenever he thought fit, to make himself arbitrary, and absolute Master of our Liberties and Properties: Concluding, he was sure, that the Gentleman, who had advis'd the asking for such a Sum, in that Manner, [meaning Mr Robert Walpole] would have been of a quite contrary Mind four Years ago; [See p. 138.] but that it was usual for Men's Judgments to alter as their Interests lead them.' But Mr Shippen not being seconded, it was resolv'd to take the King's Message into Consideration the next Day, in a Committee of the whole House.
The House in a Grand Committee take into Consideration the King's Message. ; Debate thereon. ; A Motion for laying a Tax on all the Civil List Funds. ; Debate thereon.
July 12. The Commons, in a Grand Committee, took the said Account and Message into Consideration; and Mr Shippen having spoke much to the same Purpose, as he did the Day before, was answer'd by Mr Robert Walpole, who shew'd the Occasion, and Reasonableness of the King's Message, the Tenderness and Regard his Majesty express'd in it for the Ease of his Subjects, and the Necessity of complying with his Majesty's gracious Desires and Intentions. He was seconded by Mr Lowndes, who said, 'That Six-pence in the Pound on all the Civil List Funds, would answer the Purpose;' but Mr Pulteney, and Sir Joseph Jekyll, were of Opinion that it would not do, and therefore they mov'd for One Shilling in the Pound; adding, 'That if this were too much for the present Occasion, the Overplus might go towards the Discharge of the Publick Debts.' Mr Sloper upon this last Consideration, mov'd for One Shilling and Six-pence in the Pound, and that the Tax might extend to all Military Officers, whose Pay was above Ten Shillings a Day. This being oppos'd by Mr R. Walpole, Mr Sloper answer'd him, and Mr Lowndes reply'd to Mr Sloper, whose Motion was back'd by Mr Arthur Moore (fn. 19), Member for Grimsby, and Mr Herne; but Mr Walpole, and Mr Lowndes, having again replied, Mr Sloper's Motion was dropt. Then the Question was put, whether one Shilling, or Six-Pence in the Pound, be laid on all Payments out of the Civil List; and it was carried for one Shilling, by one Voice only, viz. 111 Votes against 110. After this, the main Question was put, 'That one Shilling in the Pound be given on all Payments out of the Civil List, towards a Fund for paying the Interest of 500,000£. and for finking Part of the National Debts, which was carried by 153 Voices against 63.
Mr. Lowndes moves for disagreeing with the Committee. ; Debate thereon. ; The House resolve that only 6d. in the Pound be laid on the Civil List Fund.
July 14. Mr. Farrer reported the Resolution of the said Committee, for a Tax of One Shilling in the Pound on all Payments out of the Civil List: Upon which Mr. Lowndes moved, That the House do not agree with the Committee in the said Resolution, and that the said Tax be alter'd to Sixpence in the Pound. Hereupon Mr. Hungerford took Notice, 'That this Tax was inconsistent with the Resolution taken this Session for a Land-Tax, importing, That Three Shillings in the Pound, and no more, be laid on all Lands, Salaries, Pensions, &c. That there was, indeed, an Instance of such a Tax in the late Queen's Reign, when 500,000£. were raised much in the same Manner, for the Civil List; but that this was then called Robinism, [the Earl of Oxford's Name, who was then Prime Minister, being Robert] and he fear'd this would bear the same Name.' Mr. Treby (fn. 20) answer'd Mr. Hungerford, as Mr. Clayton, Member for Woodstock did Mr. Treby, who was answer'd by Mr. Henry Pelham (fn. 21), and the latter, by the Lord Stanhope (fn. 22), Hereupon Mr. Robert Walpole answer'd most of the Objections that had been offer'd on the opposing Side. But Mr. Pulteney observ'd, ' That he had not always been of the Opinion he now seem'd to be of; that his Mind alter'd as he was in, or out of Place; and as he might be out in a Twelve-month's Time, so he might then be of another Opinion.' To this Mr. R. Walpole reply'd, 'That it was possible, indeed, he might be out again: But whenever that happen'd, he should be glad to resign to a Person of so much Merit as Mr. Pulteney.' The latter return'd the Compliment; after which, Sir Joseph Jekyll spoke for the Motion of One Shilling in the Pound; but the Question being put thereupon, it was carry'd in the Negative, by a Majority of 132 Voices against 83. And then it was resolv'd, without dividing, That His Majesty be enabled to raise any Sum not exceeding 500,000£. to discharge the Arrears and Debts upon the Civil List, by causing a Deduction, not exceeding Six-pence in the Pound, to be made out of Salaries, Wages, Pensions or other Payments from the Crown: And a Bill was order'd to be brought in accordingly.
July 21. The Bill for the said Tax was read the third Time, pass'd, and sent up to the Lords.
The House present to the King an Address representing the State of the Publick Credit.
July 26. The House presented to the King an Address, representing the State of the publick Credit, and their Resolutions thereto relating, the Particulars of which may be found in the VOTES of this Session; and also to request the King, That as the establish'd Rules of Parliament made it impracticable for them to prepare Bills for the Royal Assent during this Session, for some of the Purposes contain'd in those Resolutions, his Majesty would be pleased, as soon as the publick and private Bills depending were dispatch'd, to give them an early Opportunity of perfecting that great and necessary Work.
July 29. The King came to the House of Peers, and the Commons attending, the Speaker, upon presenting the Civil List Bill to his Majesty, made the following Speech.
The Speakers Speech to the King on presenting the Civil List Bill.
Most Gracious Sovereign,
'Your Majesty's most Dutiful and Loyal Subjects, the Commons of Great Britain in Parliament assembled, being sensible of the great Debt upon the Civil List, occasion'd by the Calamity of the Times, which has disabled the two Companies of Assurance to make good the Money which they had stipulated to pay to the Crown, which, if it had been insisted on, would have occasion'd the Ruin of many Families, and would consequently have been a great Obstruction to Trade; And your Majesty having always had so much Goodness, as rather to wave your own Right, than to exact it, to the Prejudice of your faithful Subjects; We have therefore, to make good that Loss, given your Majesty, and we humbly pray, that your Majesty would be graciously pleased to accept of, Six-pence in the Pound, to be paid out of the Civil List, from your Faithful Commons, who will be always ready to support your Majesty and your Government.'
After which the Royal Assent was given to an Act, For raising Money upon the Estates of the late Sub-Governor, Deputy-Governor, Directors, Cashier, Deputy-Cashier, and Accomptant of the South-Sea Company, and of John Aislabie, Esq; and likewise of James Craggs, Senior, Esq; deceas'd, towards making Good the great Loss and Damage sustain'd by the said Company; and for disabling such of the said Persons as are living, to hold any Office or Place of Trust under the Crown, or to sit or vote in Parliament for the future; and for other Purposes in the said Act express'd: And to five other Bills.
And then the Lord Chancellor prorogued the Parliament to the 31st.
July 31. The King came to the House of Peers and made the following Speech.
The King's Speech in Answer to the Address of the House relating to the State of the publick Credit.
My Lords and Gentlemen,
"THE Occasion of my calling you together again so suddenly, is to give you an Opportunity of resuming the Consideration of the State of Publick Credit.
Gentlemen of the House of Commons,
"The Progress that you made in this Affair during the last Session; laid such a Foundation of this necessary Work, that the World is fully appriz'd of what is reasonably to be hoped for at this present Conjuncture.
My Lords and Gentlemen,
"I must recommend to you all possible Dispatch, and am perswaded that at this Season of the Year, your Deliberation will be confin'd to what is absolutely necessary upon this extraordinary Occasion."
The Commons being return'd to their House, resolv'd themselves into a Grand Committee on his Majesty's Speech, and came to several Resolutions thereupon for the re-establishing publick Credit, which afterwards past into a Law.
August 10. The King came to the House of Peers, with the usual State and Solemnities, and the Commons being sent for up, and attending, the Lord High Chancellor, by his Majesty's Command, read the following Speech to both Houses.
The King's Speech at putting an End to the Sixth Session.
My Lords and Gentlemen,
"I Am glad that the Business of this and the former Session is at length brought to such a Period, that I have now an Opportunity of giving you some Recess, after the great Pains you have taken in the Service of the Publick.
"The Common Calamity, occasion'd by the wicked Execution of the South-Sea Scheme, was become so very great before your Meeting, that the providing proper Remedies for it was very difficult: But it is a great Comfort to me, to observe, that Publick Credit now begins to recover; which gives me the greatest Hopes that it will be entirely restor'd, when all the Provisions you have made for that End, shall be duly put in Execution.
"I have great Compassion for the Sufferings of the Innocent, and a just Indignation against the Guilty; and have readily given my Assent to such Bills as you have presented to me, for punishing the Authors of our late Misfortunes, and for obtaining the Restitution and Satisfaction due to those who have been injur'd by them, in such Manner as you judg'd proper. I was, at the same Time, willing and desirous, by my Free and General Pardon, to give Ease and Quiet to the rest of my Subjects, many of whom may, in such a general Infatuation, have been unwarily drawn in to transgress the Laws.
Gentlemen of the House of Commons,
"I return you my hearty Thanks for the Supplies you have granted for the current Service of this Year; and particularly for your enabling me to discharge the Debts and Arrears on the Civil List, and to make Good the Engagements I was under for procuring Peace in the North, which, in all Probability, will now very soon be concluded. These Instances of your faithful Endeavours to support the Honour and Dignity of the Crown, at Home and Abroad, are fresh Marks of your Zeal and Affection to my Person and Government.
My Lords and Gentlemen,
"I take this Opportunity of acquainting you, that we have renew'd all our Treaties of Commerce with Spain, upon the same Foot as they were settled before the late War; which must necessarily prove an immediate and valuable Advantage to the Trade and Manufactures of this Kingdom.
"I earnestly recommend to you all, in your several Stations, to suppress Profaneness and Immorality, and to preserve the Peace and Quiet of the Kingdom.
"You are all sensible, that the Discontents occasion'd by the great Losses that many of my Subjects have sustain'd, have been industriously rais'd and inflam'd by malicious and seditious Libels; but I make no doubt, but that, by your prudent Conduct in your several Countries, all the Enemies of my Government, who flatter'd themselves they should be able to take Advantage from our Misfortunes, and blow up the Sufferings of my people into Popular Discontent and Disaffection, will be disappointed in their wicked Designs and Expectations.
And then the Lord Chancellor prorogued the Parliament to the 19th Day of October.