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We have now, Sir, entered into a debate about a measure, the event of which must, in some degree, influence posterity in the judgement that they shall form of the wisdom of the British Government during His present Majesty's reign. The wrongs we have received from Spain have been great, and the present age expects, that the satisfaction we are to receive, or the revenge we are to take for these wrongs, will be great also. Future ages, Sir, in case the present is disappointed in this expectation, will look upon us as a dispirited, mean, and corrupted people ; in short, they will look upon us in the same light in which fome gentlemen take the liberty to represent the Ministry. But, Sir, if on this occasion His Majesty's Ministers have obtained more than ever on like occasions was known to be obtained; and they reconciled the peace of their country to her true interest; if this peace, Sir, is attended with all the advantage that the most successful arms could have procured, as I hope to make appear, I will be bold to say, that future ages, always impartial in their censure or praise, will consider this as the most glorious period of our history, and to do that justice to the counsels which have produced this happy event, which every gene tleman who divests himself of passion and prejudice is ready to do, and which I have great reason to believe the present age, when rightly informed, will not refuse.
This House, and Parliament, Sir, is His Majesty's greatest, safest, and best council. A feat in this House is equal to any dignity derived from pofts or titles, and the approbation of this House is preferable to all that power, or even Majesty itself, can bestow: therefore, when I speak here as a Minister, I speak as poffefsing my powers from His Majesty, but as being answerable to this House for the exercise of those powers, I have often, Sir, on other occasions, professed my readiness to subinit to the justice of my country, and shall chearfully acquiesce in the judgement this
House shall form of our negotiations; because, while I do that, I am sure to suffer no wrong. But, as the best, and most equitable intentions may be perverted by misrepresentations of facts, and as the most impartial mind is susceptible of prejudice when artfully inftilled, I hope it will be looked upon as a proper piece of justice done to myself, if I shall endeavour, by stating one or two facts, to set this affair in a light that may remove all objections. '
The chief consideration, Sir, that arises from the present question is, whether, as Great Britain is now circumstanced, it had been more proper for the Government to have entered into a bloody and uncertain war, or to lay such a foundation for a peace, as no gentleman can regularly pronounce is not a safe and honourable foundation. In order to consider this question rightly, we must take a view of the advantages we could propose to ourselves, in case of a war with Spain, and in case that war was even to be successful. :
I know that gentlemen, who are otherwise very candid upon this point, are apt to imagine, from the military glory of this nation, that our arms are invincible: and I own, Sir, that this is a most prevailing argument, especially in a popular assembly. There is somewhat in it, that flatters the ambition which people generally entertain of acquiring fame and riches by the means that raised their ancestors. In the history of our wars with Spain, we see great na. vies defeated, great treasures, and still greater gains, acquired by our soldiers and sailors. But, in the mean-while, we never reflect that the situation of affairs betwixt Britain and Spain is entirely different from what it was then, Spain, at that time, was the dread, was the envy of Europe ; as the had then powerful armaments, which excited the courage of the brave, and immense treasures, all her own, that prompted the service of the rich. She had not one ally in the world, who bore her with good will enough
to assist her with any zeal; and her views were so dangers ous, that her enemies borrowed courage from despair.
At present, Sir, if I may advance a paradox, her greatest security lies in her visible weakness. The preservation of the Spanish monarchy, entire and undismembered, has, for almost an age paft, seemed to be the general inclination of all the powers in Europe, because, were the riches that flow into Spain, to fall into the hands of any other people, the rest of Europe must soon be drained of all its treasure. Whereas, at present, there is scarcely any nation in Eu. rope, who has not a larger property in her plate-fhips and galleons than she herself has. It is true, all that treasue is brought to home in Spanish names, and the King of Spain generally im.'; poses a large indulto upon it; but Spain itself is no more than the canal through which these treasures are conveyed all over the rest of Europe. Should we therefore pretend to seize those treasures, we could not fail to meet with a -powerful opposition. Even our best allies, Sir, I am afraid, would look with an indifferent eye upon such a step, and be the first that would enter their complaints against it.
Sir Robert Walpole, Feb, 1, 1739. My Lords, as I neither speak from pamphlets nor papers, I cannot precisely tell your Lordships how long I shall trou. ble you on this occafion; it is an affair of as great impor. tance, I will venture to say, as ever came before this House. I have, my Lords, employed a great deal of my time in endeavouring to form a right judgement of it. I have examined it without prejudice, I have endeavoured to find something in it that might be justified, I have viewed it, my Lords, in all the best lights it was capable of; but still, my Lords, the more I consider, the more I view it, the more disgraceful, the more deformed, does this conven. tion appear.
I have known, my Lords, I have read of measures of this kind, that were indeed generally disliked by the people,
and were disadvantageous to the nation ; but still, my Lords the Ministers who carried on and concluded fuch mea a fures, had something to say in their justification. The weakness of the nation, the conveniency of trade, the strength of our neighbours, or some confideration of that kind, was always pleaded as an excuse. And sometimes, though a treaty was, in the main, disagreeable or dishonourable to the nation, yet there were certain particular claufes, some advantages ftipulated, which, if they did not balance, served at least to excuse the rest. But, my Lords, this convention is not only disagreeable to every body without doors, but it does not contain one article that can be wrested to have so much as a favourable aspect for this nation. To what, my Lords, can this be owing? Is it owing to the weakness of the nation? Not at all; this nation is not weak, she has strength fufficient to crush that power that crushes her. If she is poor, my Lords, the Government feels none of it'; for our Ministers are as largely supplied with treasure as these Ministers were under whom this nation made the power that now infults us, to humble. Our troops, my Lords, áre more numerous, better clothed than those troops were, who once conquered this infolent neighbour; and filled her throne with a monarch of our own making. I see many Lords here, who, I am sure, remember those glorious times ; and if, my Lords, at that time any one hadi ventured to foretel that this nation would foon be reduced to the necessity of negotiating, for the space of eighteen of twenty years, to obtain such a treaty as this is, was there a man in the whole nation that would have believed hiin!
Have our Ministers, my Lords, ought to plead in favour of this measure, because it is for the convenience of trade? My Lord, every body, who underftarid what trade is, knows, that if this convention is approved of by Parliament, our trade must be irretrievably ruined. O 3
Can it be pleaded, my Lords, that our enemies are fo Atrong that we ought, in policy, to yield a little to their ru. mours? No, our enemies are weak, they are strong only in our fears. We, my Lords, are masters of that element whereon the cause must be decided, and let all our enemies, either professed or secret; nay, let all the neutral powers in Europe unite their naval force, we have a fleet now at sea that is able to beat them all. But, my Lords, do we behave as if we had any such superiority ? Have we so much as asserted the honour of the British flag? Have we not taniely given it up, given it up without the least reason, so far as appears to the world? What the reasons of our Mi. nisters may be, my Lords, for this pufillanimity, I am entirely ignorant; and as I am ignorant, I am innocent; for, my Lords, though I am a privy counsellor, I ani as unacquainted with the secrets of the Government as any private gentleman who hears me.
Duke of Argyle, Feb. 23, 1739.
Having before expressed my entire satisfaction with the terms of the peace, and already given to the House my ideas upon that subject, it were unnecessary for me again to trouble your Lordships upon the same occasion, and the more especially so, as I have been made to find, that that which, in preliminary articles, was matter of condemnation and censure to some of your Lordships, now meets, in definitive treaties, by the veil of a profligate and abandoned faction being thrown aside, the unanimous suffrage and confent of all. Nor, my Lords, should I have risen on this day, had it not been for a speech which, not being present at the time it was spoken, I have seen and read in the public papers ; a speech, my Lords, which whilst it would approve the peace, would attempt to villify and calumniate the author of it ; but which, in my opinion, proving, by its own invective, and the mode of reasoning adopted there