Imagens da página
[ocr errors]

it begets many inconveniencies, two of which are the impoverishing the People, and the increase of Taxes.

And here give me leave to fay, Sir, that no country can give more melancholy instances of the effects of a military force than England can. The very army which was raised by the Parliament in defence of the subjects, against some encroachments made by Charles the 1st upon their liberties, afterwards gave law to the Parliament itself, turned its Members out of doors, razed our Constitution to the foundation, and brought that unhappy Prince to the block. This catastrophe, Sir, was not owing to the People; for of them, nine parts in ten were well affected to the person and cause of the King; but to their Army, which, like other wild beasts, turned upon and destroyed their keepers. After the Restoration of the Royal Family, the Prince then upon the Throne raised a few guards, which never fweljed to above 5890; and yet so jealous was the nation even of that small, number, that he never could get his Parliament, prostitute as it was, to pass over one Session without taking notice of them, This, Sir, was the more extraordinary, as the Parliament was never asked for any money for their support; and the money which was then raised for the support of the Government, was nothing when compared with the sums that have been granted since. The next Parliament proved as uneasy to him on this head as the former had been; and were so distrustsul of his intentions, that they appointed Commissioners of their own, for applying the money granted for disbanding them, and it was paid into the Chamber of London. Nay, Sir, as a farther proof of the apprehensions the Nation was under from a standing Army, they came to a Resolution, ' That the continuance of standing Forces in this < Kingdom, other than the Militia, is illegal, and a great 'grievance and vexation to the People.' I have mentioned this period of our history, Sir, to shew, that notwithstanding the venality of that very Reign, the Parliament never could be brought to concur with what might oae day overthrow both

K 3 tbeir their own and the People's Liberties. If the nation was then so jealous of an inconsiderable number, which did not cost it a (hilling, ought we consent to keep on foot so formidable a number as eighteen thoufand? Sir, it is in vain for any Gentleman to fay, that the Army is under the direction of a wise and a just Sovereign, who will never harbour a thought inconsistent with the good of his subjects. I am as thoroughly persuaded of his Majesty's personal virtues as any Gentleman; tut an Army, when it once finds its own power, may very probably resuse to take laws, even from that very Sovereign under whose immediate direction they are. The Parliament's Army, Sir, was as absolutely uuder the direction of the Parliament in the time of Charles the 1st, as any Army is now under the direction of his Majesty; and yet it is well known, they obeyed orders no longer than they, found it convenient for themselves.

The period, Sir, from which we are to date the rife of our standing Army in Britain, is the ninth year of the late King William, when the Parliament granted an Army of ten thoufand men for the service of the current year. This was done, in consideration of the powersul faction at that time subsisting in the kingdom in favour of King James. And if ever a standing Army can be of use at any time, it is at such a juncture.' But nothing, Sir, can make so palpable an infraction of the subjects rights, as established at the Revolution, go down. Though this nation was then blessed with a Prince that had hazarded every thing to free us from oppression and tyranny, and therefore could never be supposed to have any designs upon our Constitution; yet many Gentlemen, who were friends of the Revolution upon principles of liberty, with one consent remonstrated against a standing Army, though but kept' up from year to year, as subversive of the People's Rights, and of the Revolution principles.

Some I know, Sir, who appeared early for the Revolution, were so much delighted with the sunshine of a Court, that

they they joined in all its measures, though some of them were found to be directly opposite to the principles upon which the Revolution was founded: but we sind that they, who ever were acknowledged to be the sincere well-wishers of that cause, forsook them, and could never be brought to concur with them in any one measure. On this account, Sir, these Gentlemen were branded by some, who then fat in the House, with the [ name of Jacobites and Republicans, two denominations of men equally enemies to the present establishment. But, Sir, there was this difference betwixt their antagonists and them, that the former never resused to concur with any measure proposed by the Court, and the latter never voted for any step tha|^ was disliked by their country.

Their late deliverance from a Prince, who, by means of iais Army, aimed at arbitrary Power, made them look back with so much horror upon the precipice they had just escaped, that there was an express Proviso against standing Armies in times of peace, inserted in the Claim of Right, which we may in some measure call the last great Charter of our Liberty. I own that it gives me great concern to fee Gentlemen, who have always valued themselves upon treading in the footsteps of those who brought about the Revolution, act a part so inconsistent with the principles of their ancestors, by voting for this Question. I know a set of men under a different denomination, who have always been more moderate in their pretences, but more steady in their adherence to those principles. I am not at all inclined to revive any party distinction; but I will venture to fay, Sir, that let any man cempare the conduct of some Gentlemen who have affected to pass for Whigs, with that of Gentlemen who have always been looked on as Tories, he shall sind the latter acting a part most consistent with the Revolution Principles. He will sind them opposing' the Crown in every encroachment upon the People, and in every infringe*ment of the Claim of Right. He never will sind them complimenting the Crown at the expence of the People when in

K 4 Post,

Post, nor distre/fing it by opposing any reasonable Measure when out. Can some Gentlemen, Sir, who now affect to call themselves Whigs, boast of such an uniformity of conduct? Can they fay that times and circumstances never influenced the Measures they pursued? Or that when they were in Office, they always acted in consequence of the Principles they professed when they were out? Sir, I believe I have fat long enough in this House to convince Gentlemen, if there were occasion, of very great inconsistencies in certain characters. But, Sir, I forbear it, because the eyes of some of these Gentlemen seem to be now open, and I hope these distinctions *re in a great measure either entirely abolished or better understood.

»As no Question, Sir, is of greater importance, so none has, 'been so frequently debated in this House as the present. Yet I never heard any Gentleman make a doubt, that a standing Army in time of peace was a grievance to the People of GreatBritain. But, Sir, the Tories always opposed this Grievance. When his late Majesty, upon the Rebellion against him being suppressed, for the ease of his subjects, ordered ten thoufand of his troops to be disbanded, I remember a particular friend of mine, who always passed for a Tory, proposed that? it should be inserted in our Address to his Majesty on that occasion, That nothing could more endear his Maje/iy to all his fubjeSls, than his reducing the Land Forces to the old ejlablijhnient of guards and garrisons, as his Majcjly found it at his Accession to the Throne. This, Sir, happened in the fourth year of his late Majesty's Reign * and had'his Majesty thought sit to have made the proposed reduction, or, rather, had he been advised by his Ministers to have done it, and had the Military Establishment continued on that footing till now, we should have discharged upwards of twelve millions of our national debt, and yet have «nabled his Majesty to have made good such engagements with his allies, as tended to secure the public tranquillity.


'As to what the Honourable Gentleman, who spoke lasts mentioned with regard to restraining the Liberty of the Press, and concerning the general depravity that obtains among the People, I shall leave him to be answered by other Gentlemen,, who can do it much better than I can. But I agree with the Honourable Gentleman so far as to own, that the People are at present very much dissatisfied; and, as I think that ferment ought to subside gradually, I am willing to give my vote for a larger number of forces this Session, than perhaps I may think necessary to be kept up the next. I therefore move, That the number of Land Forces for the service of the current year may be twelve thoufand men.

Mr. Shipper., Jan. 28, 1738.

The keeping up of a numerous standing Army in time of peace, is absolutely inconsistent with the liberties of this country. Gentlemen talk of an army of eighteen thoufand men, as always necessary to be kept up in this Island. This, Sir, is the true secret of this day's Motion: these Gentlemen know, that when peace is restored, the nation will insist upon a reduction being made; therefore, think they, let us now increase the army, that when peace is restored we may stop the mouths of the difaffected, (as they call them) by making a reduction of the troops we are now to add ; and thus, Sir, we shall have a standing Army of eighteen thoufand men saddled upon us for ever. As I am of opinion, that an army of eighteen thoufand men is at least ten thoufand more than we ought to have in time of peace; as I am of opinion, that such a numerous army can be necessary for no end, but that of enabling a Minister to trample upon the liberties of his country, I think the Motion ought to be rejected with disdain;

As for Ministers, they must not expect regard and esteem from their equipage, but from the wisdom and address of their negotiations: for a Minister with a blundering head, or one that is sent upon ridiculous errands, will make as sorry a figure

« AnteriorContinuar »