Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

ld by se onably

[ocr errors]

have great ambition, but, before he dares attempt to put it in execution, he must have some hopes of success. The ambition of our neighbours, Sir, is what we cannot prevent, but we may, by proper precautions seafonably taken, deprive them of all hopes of success; and by so doing we shall always prevent . their attempting to put their design in execution. From this maxim we may fee the wisdom of the measures taken last year; His Majesty did not find himself obliged to take any share in the war, but as the ambition of either of the parties engaged might at last involve this nation in the war; therefore he offered to interpose his good offices for bringing about an accommodation, whatever might have been the views of the parties engaged at the beginning of the war: yet upon feeing this nation put itself in such posture of defence, they all thought proper to drop any ambitious views they might then entertain, by accepting of the good offices His Majesty has offered. Their ready compliance in this respect can be attributed to nothing but the preparations we made last year, and the powers that were granted the last session of Parliament to His Majesty; by these we deprived them of all liopes of succeeding in their ambitious views. It was this, Sir, that produced an acceptance of the good offices His Majesty had offered; and if we should Nacken in our measures, if we should discontinue our preparations, it would render us defpicable in the eyes of all the parties engaged in war, and would consequently disappoint the good effects we have reason to expect from that acceptation. At the beginning of Jaft feffion, it was very well known that the French were fitting out a large squadron at Brest, and were providing transports and a land army to be sent along with that squadron, under pretence of relieving Dantzick. In such a situation, Sir, I should have thought those who had the honour to advise the King very imprudent, or very unfaithful Counsellors, if they had not advised hiin to put the nation immediately into a state of defence; for though it was probable that neither the French nor any other power would attack us

while we continue neutral; yet it is certain it was then, and always will be, very much the French interest to have this nation on its fide; and if they had then seen, or should upon any such occasion fee, that it would be easy to overturn our Government, by our not being sufficiently provided for defence, and could, by overturning our Government, get numbers of this nation to join with thein, it would then have been, and always will be, worth their while to make the attempt; therefore, in order to preserve the peace and quiet of the nation, we ought always to be upon our guard, and ought to make some additional provision for our defence, when any of our neighbours are fitting out large squadrons, which may possibly be made use of to attack or invade this nation. This, Sir, was the reason for His Majesty's defiring 20,000 men the last session of Parliament for fea service; but from what has since happened, the reason feems to have gathered a little more weight; for though there was no particular reason to fufpect that the French squa. dron was designed againft us, yet there was no other place in the world for which it would be designed, except Dantzick; and whether it was designed for Dantzick or not, it is certain it did not go to Dantzick, for we all know it continued at Breit the whole Summer.

After the last session of Parliament had agreed to the 20,000 'feamen desired by His Majesty, he had an account, that besides the squadron fitting out at Brest, both the French and the Spaniards had given orders for fitting out all the ships of war, lying in any of their ports, from Toulon round to Brest; from whence His Majesty, with great reason, thought it absolutely necessary to make a farther addition to his naval force; for which purpose he applied to his Parliament for a power to do fo; and in pursuance of the powers granted him upon that application, he has since made an addition of 7,000 men to the fea service; so that our present naval establifhment consists of 27,000 men; 7,000 of which must be reduced, if we should agree to grant but 20,000 seamen for the ensuing year.

Y 3

Having Having thus, Sir, laid the present state of our naval force before you, let us consider the present state of the affairs of Europe, the circumstances our neighbours are in, and the cire cumstances we are in ourselves. As to the affairs of Europe, it is certain they seem to be in no less dangerous state than they were last year; His Majesty's good offices are, indeed, accepted of; but that acceptation has not as yet produced the wished-for effect, nor can it be expected it should, if His Majesty should appear to be less powerful when he comes to offer terms of peace, than he was when he made the offer of his good offices : we cannot therefore, from the present state of the affairs of Europe, draw any argument for diminishing our naval force. Then as to the crcumstances of our neighbours, it is very certain, that not only all the ships of war, fitted out either by the French or Spaniards, are continued in commission, but both these nations are with the utmost application rebuilding and repairing every ship of force they have in their dominions, and are besides building new ships of war as fast as they can; froin whence I think it is evident, that instead of making any reduction of the naval force we had last year, we ought to inake some addition, and the addition proposed, which is properly 3,000 men, is, in my opinion, the least that can be thought of.

This, Sir, must be thought still more reasonable, if we consider our own particular circumstances, and the difficulty there is of getting our seamen together after they are once'dispersed. In countries where absolute and arbitrary government prevails, all their seamen are registered, and they always know where they may find them when they have occasion for them. Their seamen, as well as all their other subjects, are under a sort of military discipline; they cannot absent themselves without a furlough, and they must remain absent no longer than their furlough gives them leave; by which means the Government always know what number they may depend on upon any emergency. But in this happy country, where every private man enjoys his full liberty, we cannot command our feamen to stay at home, nor can we call them home when we have a mind; for, notwithstanding the difficulties which every one knows we found last Summer to man the fleet then fitted out, yet it was computed there were at least 11,000 British failors employed all last Summer on board of British ships in the service of foreigners, either as transports, or as trading ships. In this country we have no method of providing failors employed upon any sudden emergency, but by pressing those seamen we find by chance at home, or upon our own coasts; and this method is always attended with so many inconveniences, is accompanied with circumstances so galling to the feelings of British seamen, and so distressing to the families and relatives of these brave men, that in order to prevent our being at any time reduced to that neceffity, every man who has a due regard to the liberty and the happiness of the subject must agree, that we ought, upon every occasion, to begin early to provide against any danger we think we have reason to apprehend.

man,

Io all the measures we have hitherto taken relating to the present war, our ancient and natural allies, the Dutch, have cordially joined with us in every thing: they joined heartily with His Majesty in offering their good offices for composing the present unhappy differences in Europe; and they have likewife joined with His Majesty in concerting a proper plan for a pacification. It may, perhaps, be insinuated, that they have put themselves to no expence on account of the present war; but this is neither a just nor a true infinuation; for it is very well known, that before the war broke out they had resolved to have made a very considerable reduction of their land forces. Every one knows, that soon after the peace of Utrecht they reduced their army to 32,000 men, and for several years after they kept it at that number; but upon a change which happened in the affairs of Europe, they augmented it again to $2,000 men; and at that time we likewise found it necessary

1 3

wai

to increase our army to 26,000 men. The war with which Europe was then threatened was happily prevented; and as foon as it was, we immediately began to reduce our army; we reduced it at firft 5,000, and soon after 3,000, of the number we had increased it to: but the Dutch made at that time no reduction; they never thought of making any reduction till the very year before the present war broke out; then indeed å resolution was actually taken in some of the provinces to reduce 10,000, and that was soon to have been followed by the reduction of another 10,000, in order to have brought their army to its former standard of 32,000 men ; and both these reductions have been put off, merely on account of the present war; so that, to speak properly, they have put themselves to the expence of maintaining 20,000 men ever since the war began; and therefore it is not to be wondered if they made no addition to their fleet, especially if we consider that they are in no danger of being attacked by sea; and the bad condition their navy happens to be in at present, which is occasioned by the vast expence they were put to during the war, in which they were obliged to maintain a much greater number of land forces than we maintained, and were farther obliged to be at the expence of all the fieges that were undertaken during the war.

The Durch, 'tis true, Sir, concluded a treaty of neutrality with France, with regard to the Austrian Netherlands; but it is not from thence to be concluded, that they are engaged in any intereft feparate from us. They were no way concerned in the affair of Poland, no more than we; if their barrier was secured, and the balance of power not brought in any danger, they had good reason to think themselves no way concerned in the war; the first they provided for by their neutrality, and the last would be in no danger, as long as the parties engaged jn wąr confined their views to what they then publicly declared; but if either of them should begin to extend their views, and thereby bring the balance of power into danger, the

Dutch

« AnteriorContinuar »