Infomotions, Inc.The Works of Samuel Johnson, Volume 11. Parlimentary Debates II. / Johnson, Samuel, 1709-1784

Author: Johnson, Samuel, 1709-1784
Title: The Works of Samuel Johnson, Volume 11. Parlimentary Debates II.
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Title: The Works of Samuel Johnson, Vol. 11.
       Parlimentary Debates II.

Author: Samuel Johnson

Release Date: December 1, 2003 [EBook #10352]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII


Produced by Jonathan Ingram, Tom Allen and the Online Distributed
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Debate on an address to the king.

Debate on a motion for inquiring into the conduct of publick affairs.

Debate on a motion for indemnifying evidence relating to the conduct of
the earl of Orford.

Debate on the security and protection of trade and navigation.

Debate on an address to the king.

Debate granting pay for sixteen thousand Hanoverian troops.

Debate on the army.

Debate on spirituous liquors.


  Argyle, Duke of,
  Aylesford, Lord,
  Bath, Lord,
  Bathurst, Lord,
  Bedford, Duke of,
  Bladen, Mr.
  Carteret, Lord,
  Chesterfield, Lord,
  Cholmondeley, Lord,
  Cholmondeley, Col.
  Cornwall, Mr.
  Delaware, Lord,
  Fowkes, Mr.
  Fox, Mr.
  Grenville, Mr.
  Gybbon, Mr.
  Hardwicke, Lord,
  Herbert, Mr. H.A.
  Hervey, Lord,
  Islay, Lord,
  Limerick, Lord,
  Littleton, Mr.
  Lonsdale, Lord,
  Montfort, Lord,
  Mordaunt, Col.
  Newcastle, Duke of,
  Nugent, Mr.
  Orford, Earl of,
  Orford, Bishop of,
  Pelham, Mr.
  Percival, Lord,
  Phillips, Mr.
  Pitt, Mr.
  Powlett, Lord,
  Pulteney, Mr.
  Quarendon, Lord,
  Raymond, Lord,
  Sandwich, Lord,
  Sarum, Bishop of,
  St. Aubin, Sir John,
  Shippen, Mr.
  Somerset, Lord Noel,
  Speaker, the,
  Stanhope, Earl of,
  Talbot, Lord,
  Trevor, Mr.
  Tweedale, Marquis of,
  Walpole, Sir Robert,
  Walpole, Mr.
  Westmoreland, Lord,
  Winchelsea, Earl of,
  Yonge, Sir Wm.




The commons who attended in the house of lords, having heard his
majesty's speech to both houses, returned to their own house, where a
copy of it being this day read to them by the speaker, Mr. H.A. HERBERT
moved for an address, in words to this effect:

Sir, to address the throne on the present occasion, is a custom which,
as it is founded on reason and decency, has always been observed by the
commons of Britain; nor do I suspect this house of any intention to omit
those forms of respect to his majesty, which our ancestors always
preserved even under princes whose conduct and designs gave them no
claim to reverence or gratitude.

To continue, therefore, sir, a practice which the nature of government
itself makes necessary, and which cannot but be acknowledged to be, in a
peculiar degree, proper under a prince whose personal virtues are so
generally known, I hope for the indulgence of this house in the liberty
which I shall take of proposing an address to this effect:

That we should beg leave to congratulate his majesty, upon his safe and
happy return to these his kingdoms, and to return our sincere thanks for
his most gracious speech from the throne; and assure him at the same
time, that with hearts full of duty and gratitude, we cannot but
acknowledge his majesty's regard and attention to the honour and
interest of this nation. To observe that the great and impending dangers
that threaten Europe, under the present critical and perplexed situation
of affairs, have been represented by his majesty to his parliament, for
their advice and assistance, with such paternal concern, and such
affection to his people, such confidence in his faithful commons, and
such anxiety for the general good of Europe, as cannot fail to excite in
us a due sense of his majesty's goodness and condescension; and,
therefore, to assure his majesty in the strongest manner, that this
house will, as often as these momentous affairs shall come under our
consideration, give his majesty such advice as becomes dutiful and
faithful subjects, and such assistance and support as shall be most
conducive to the honour and true interest of his crown and kingdoms.

That we thank his majesty for his royal care in prosecuting the war with
Spain; and that in order to answer these necessary purposes, we will
grant such effectual supplies, as shall enable his majesty, not only to
be in a readiness to support his friends and allies, at such times and
in such manner as the exigency and circumstances of affairs shall
require, but to oppose and defeat any attempts that shall be made
against his majesty, his crown and kingdoms, or against those, who being
equally engaged with his majesty by the faith of treaties, or united by
common interest and common danger, shall be willing to concert such
measures as shall be found necessary and expedient for maintaining the
balance of Europe.

This address, which in my opinion, will contain both a proper answer to
his majesty's speech, and a decent declaration of our gratitude and
duty, will not, I hope, be opposed. For surely it cannot be charged with
asserting any thing that is either false or mean, with bestowing any
unnecessary panegyrick, or with maintaining any fact that is not
generally allowed.

Mr. TREVOR seconded him in the manner following:--Sir, as the necessity
of an address to his majesty cannot be disputed, the only question on
this occasion must be, whether the address now proposed be such as it
may become this house to offer in the present conjuncture of affairs.

In an address, sir, it is necessary to preserve at once the respect due
to our sovereign, and the dignity which may justly be assumed by the
representatives of the people of Britain, a people whose birthright
gives them a claim to approach their sovereign, not, indeed, without the
utmost respect, but with language, which absolute monarchs never hear
from the slaves by whom they are surrounded.

This respect and dignity appear to me to be very happily united in the
address now proposed, in which we join with our professions of duty, our
offers of advice, and assert our claim to the direction of the national
expenses by our promise to grant the necessary supplies.

As there cannot, therefore, in my opinion, sir, be any thing added to
the address now offered, and there appears to me no necessity of any
alteration or omission, I second the motion.

Lord Noel SOMERSET spoke next, to this effect:--Sir, though I am far
from intending to repress, by sophistical cavils, or trifling
objections, the zeal which the honourable gentleman who proposed the
address has shown for promoting the publick business, yet, as it is very
inconsistent with the duty of a senator to prefer civility to truth, and
to sacrifice to ceremony or complaisance the interest of his country, I
think it necessary to declare my opinion, that though the address
proposed may admit of many amendments, which I leave to other gentlemen
to make, I think the addition of one clause absolutely necessary; that
his majesty may be desired not to engage this nation in a war for the
preservation of his foreign dominions; dominions which, as they are in
themselves independent on the crown of Britain, and governed by
different laws, and a different right, have been separated by an express
clause from these kingdoms, in the act to which his majesty owes his
title to the throne.

This request, sir, is at this time particularly expedient, when the
continent is in confusion, and the territories of Hanover are endangered
by the approach of the French forces. Besides, as nothing is more fatal
than groundless expectations of assistance, it may contribute to the
safety of that people, to show them that they are to depend upon their
own strength, to call their forces together, to fortify their towns, and
guard their avenues; and that, if they sit indolent and careless, in
confidence that the power of Britain will be employed in their defence,
they will only give their enemies an easy conquest, and enslave
themselves and their posterity to a foreign power: I move, therefore,
that his majesty be petitioned in our address, not to engage these
kingdoms in a war for the preservation of his foreign dominions.

Mr. SHIPPEN rose and spoke thus:--Sir, I know not with what success I
may assert, in this senate, positions, for which I have formerly been
censured, and which few other members have hitherto maintained; but I
rise with confidence that I shall be at least acknowledged to act
consistently with myself in seconding the noble person who spoke last;
and I am convinced, that many of those who differ from me in opinion,
would gladly be able to boast of resembling me in congruity of
principles, and steadiness of conduct.

But steadiness, sir, is the effect only of integrity, and congruity the
consequence of conviction: he that speaks always what he thinks, and
endeavours by diligent inquiry to think aright before he ventures to
declare his sentiments; he that follows, in his searches, no leader but
reason, nor expects any reward from them but the advantage of
discovering truth, and the pleasure of communicating it, will not easily
change his opinion, because it will seldom be easy to show that he who
has honestly inquired after truth, has failed to attain it.

For my part, I am not ashamed nor afraid to affirm, that thirty years
have made no change in any of my political opinions; I am now grown old
in this house, but that experience which is the consequence of age, has
only confirmed the principles with which I entered it many years ago;
time has verified the predictions which I formerly uttered, and I have
seen my conjectures ripened into knowledge.

I should be, therefore, without excuse, if either terrour could
affright, or the hope of advantage allure me from the declaration of my
opinions; opinions which I was not deterred from asserting, when the
prospect of a longer life than I can now expect might have added to the
temptations of ambition, or aggravated the terrours of poverty and
disgrace; opinions for which I would willingly have suffered the
severest censures, even when I had espoused them only in compliance with
reason, without the infallible certainty of experience.

Of truth it has been always observed, sir, that every day adds to its
establishment, and that falsehoods, however specious, however supported
by power, or established by confederacies, are unable to stand before
the stroke of time. Against the inconveniencies and vexations of long
life, may be set the pleasure of discovering truth, perhaps the only
pleasure that age affords. Nor is it a slight satisfaction to a man not
utterly infatuated or depraved, to find opportunities of rectifying his
notions, and regulating his conduct by new lights.

But much greater is the happiness of that man to whom every day brings a
new proof of the reasonableness of his former determinations, and who
finds, by the most unerring test, that his life has been spent in
promotion of doctrines beneficial to mankind. This, sir, is the
happiness which I now enjoy, and for which those who never shall attain
it, must look for an equivalent in lucrative employments, honorary
titles, pompous equipages, and splendid palaces.

These, sir, are the advantages which are to be gained by a seasonable
variation of principles, and by a ready compliance with the prevailing
fashion of opinions; advantages which I, indeed, cannot envy when they
are purchased at so high a price, but of which age and observation has
too frequently shown me the unbounded influence; and to which I cannot
deny that I have always ascribed the instability of conduct, and
inconsistency of assertions, which I have discovered in many men, whose
abilities I have no reason to depreciate, and of whom I cannot but
believe they would easily distinguish truth, were not falsehood
recommended to them by the ornaments of wealth.

If there are in this new senate any men devoted to their private
interest, any who prefer the gratification of their passions to the
safety and happiness of their country, who can riot without remorse in
the plunder of their constituents, who can forget the anguish of guilt
in the noise of a feast, the pomp of a drawing-room, or the arms of a
strumpet, and think expensive wickedness and the gaieties of folly
equivalent to the fair fame of fidelity and the peace of virtue, to them
I shall speak to no purpose; for I am far from imagining any power in my
language to gain those to truth who have resigned their hearts to
avarice or ambition, or to prevail upon men to change opinions, which
they have indeed never believed, though they are hired to assert them.
There is a degree of wickedness which reproof or argument cannot
reclaim, as there is a degree of stupidity which instruction cannot

If my country, sir, has been so unfortunate as, once more, to commit her
interest to those who propose to themselves no advantage from their
trust, but that of selling it, I may perhaps fall, once more, under
censure for declaring my opinion, and be, once more, treated as a
criminal for asserting what they who punish me cannot deny; for
maintaining the inconsistency of Hanover maxims with the happiness of
this nation, and for preserving the caution which was so strongly
inculcated by the patriots that drew up the act of settlement, and gave
the present imperial family their title to the throne.

These men, sir, whose wisdom cannot be disputed, and whose zeal for his
majesty's family was equal to their knowledge, thought it requisite to
provide some security against the prejudices of birth and education.
They were far from imagining, that they were calling to the throne a
race of beings exalted above the frailties of humanity, or exempted by
any peculiar privileges from errour or from ignorance.

They knew that every man was habitually, if not naturally, fond of his
own nation, and that he was inclined to enrich it and defend it at the
expense of another, even, perhaps, of that to which he is indebted, for
much higher degrees of greatness, wealth and power; for every thing
which makes one state of life preferable to another; and which,
therefore, if reason could prevail over prejudice, and every action were
regulated by strict justice, might claim more regard than that corner of
the earth in which he only happened to be born.

They knew, sir, that confidence was not always returned, that we most
willingly trust those whom we have longest known, and caress those with
most fondness, whose inclinations we find by experience to correspond
with our own, without regard to particular circumstances which may
entitle others to greater regard, or higher degrees of credit, or of

Against these prejudices, which their sagacity enabled them to foresee,
their integrity incited them to secure us, by provisions which every man
then thought equitable and wise, because no man was then hired to
espouse a contrary opinion.

To obviate the disposition which a foreign race of princes might have to
trust their original subjects, it was enacted that none of them should
be capable of any place of trust or profit in these kingdoms. And to
hinder our monarchs from transferring the revenues of Britain to
Hanover, and enriching it with the commerce of our traders, and the
labours of our husbandmen; from raising taxes to augment the splendour
of a petty court, and increasing the garrisons of their mountains by
misapplying that money which this nation should raise for its own
defence, it was provided that the emperour of Britain should never
return to his native dominions, but reside always in this kingdom,
without any other care than that of gaining the affections of his
British subjects, preserving their rights, and increasing their power.

It was imagined by that senate, that the electorate of Hanover, a
subordinate dignity, held by custom of homage to a greater power, ought
to be thought below the regard of the emperor of Britain, and that the
sovereign of a nation like this ought to remember a lower state only to
heighten his gratitude to the people by whom he was exalted. They were
far from imagining that Britain and Hanover would in time be considered
as of equal importance, and that their sovereign would divide his years
between one country and the other, and please himself with exhibiting in
Hanover the annual show of the pomp and dignity of a British emperor.

This clause, sir, however, a later senate readily repealed; upon what
motives I am not able to declare, having never heard the arguments which
prevailed upon their predecessors to enact it, confuted or invalidated;
nor have I found that the event has produced any justification of their
conduct, or that the nation has received any remarkable advantage from
the travels of our emperours.

There is another clause in that important act which yet the senate has
not adventured to repeal, by which it is provided, that this nation
shall not be engaged in war for the defence of the Hanoverian dominions;
dominions of which we can have no interest in the protection or
preservation; dominions, perhaps, of no great value, into whatever hands
chance and negligence may throw them, which their situation has made
entirely useless to a naval power; but which, though they cannot
benefit, may injure us, by diverting the attention of our sovereign, or
withholding his affections.

Whether this clause, sir, has not sometimes been eluded, whether the six
thousand Hessians, which we once supported, were of use to any of the
British dominions, and whether a double number of the same nation, now
paid with our money for the defence of the queen of Hungary, have not
been stationed only where they might defend Hanover, without the least
advantage to our confederates; whether the nation has not been condemned
to double expenses in the support of this alliance, by raising, for the
queen's service, troops, which were only employed in the protection of
Hanover, and then in succouring her with pecuniary supplies, it is,
perhaps, at present unnecessary, though, I hope, not yet too late, to

It is at present unnecessary, because the clause which is proposed
cannot be denied to be equally proper, whether the act of settlement has
been hitherto observed or violated; for the violation of it ought to
engage us in some measures that may secure us for the future from the
like injury; and the observation of it is a manifest proof how much it
is approved by all parties, since, in so many deviations from this
settlement, and an inconstancy of conduct of which an example is
scarcely to be found, this law has been esteemed sacred, the bulwark of
our rights, and the boundary which the sovereign power has not dared to

As his majesty, sir, has, in a very solemn manner, called upon us for
our advice and assistance, what can be more proper than to lay before
him our opinion on this important question? War is, next to slavery, one
of the greatest calamities; and an unnecessary war, therefore, the
greatest error of government, an error which cannot be too cautiously
obviated, or too speedily reformed.

If we consider, sir, the present state of the continent, there is
nothing more probable than that the subjects of the elector of Hanover
may solicit the assistance of the emperor of Britain, and, therefore, it
is necessary to inform them, that their solicitations will be vain. If
we inquire into the suspicions of our fellow-subjects, we shall find
them generally disturbed with fears that they shall be sacrificed to the
security of foreign dominions, and, therefore, it is necessary to recall
their affection to his majesty where it is impaired, and confirm their
confidence where it has been hitherto preserved, by showing, in the most
publick manner, how vainly they have been disquieted, and how grossly
they have been mistaken.

It is certainly our duty, sir, to give such advice as may most truly
inform his majesty of the sentiments of his people, and most effectually
establish in the people an adherence to his majesty; as it is certain
that no advice will be seconded by greater numbers than that which is
proposed, nor can his majesty, by any act of goodness, so much endear
his government, as by a ready promise to this nation of an exemption
from any war in defence of Hanover.

I hope, sir, it will not be objected, that by such request a suspicion
will be insinuated of designs detrimental to the British nation, and
repugnant to the conditions on which his majesty ascended the throne,
because an objection of equal force may rise against any advice whatever
that shall be offered by the senate.

It may be always urged, sir, that to recommend any measures, is to
suppose that they would not have been suggested to his majesty by his
own wisdom, and, by consequence, that he is defective either in
knowledge or in goodness, that he either mistakes or neglects the
interest of his people.

Thus, sir, may the most laudable conduct be charged with sedition, and
the most awful regard be accused of disrespect, by forced consequences,
and exaggerated language; thus may senates become useless, lest they
should appear to be wiser than their sovereign, and the sovereign be
condemned to act only by the information of servile ministers, because
no publick advice can safely be given him.

That kings must act upon the information of others, that they can see
little with their own eyes through the mists which flattery is
continually employed in raising before them, and that they are,
therefore, most happy who have, by the constitution of the country which
they govern, an opportunity of knowing the opinions of their people
without disguise, has yet never been denied by any who do not separate
the interest of the king from that of the people, and leave mankind no
political distinction but that of tyrants and slaves.

This, sir, is the happiness of the emperour of Britain beyond other
monarchs, an advantage by which he may be always enabled to contemplate
the happy and flourishing state of his subjects, and to receive the
blessings and acclamations of millions, that owe to his care their
wealth and their security.

Of this advantage he cannot be deprived, but by the cowardice or the
treachery of those men who are delegated by the people, as the guardians
of their liberties; and surely it requires no uncommon penetration to
discover, that no act of treason can be equal in malignity to that
perfidy which deprives the king of the affections of his subjects, by
concealing from him their sentiments and petitions. He that makes his
monarch hated, must, undoubtedly, make him unhappy; and he that destroys
his happiness, might more innocently take away his life.

To exempt myself, therefore, from such guilt, to discharge the trust
conferred on me by my country, and to perform the duty which I owe to my
king, I stand up to second this motion.

Mr. GYBBON spoke next, to the following purpose:--Sir, as it is not easy
to remember all the parts of an address by only once hearing it, and
hearing it in a form different from that in which it is to be presented,
I think it necessary to a more accurate consideration of it, that it
should be read distinctly to the house. We may otherwise waste our time
in debates, to which only our own forgetfulness gives occasion; we may
raise objections without reason, and propose amendments where there is
no defect. [The address was accordingly read, and Mr. GYBBON proceeded.]

Having now heard the address, I find by experience the propriety of my
proposal; having remarked a clause, which, in my opinion, is necessary
to be amended, and which I had not observed when it was repeated before.

It is well known, that the speeches from the throne, though pronounced
by the king, are always considered as the compositions of the ministry,
upon whom any false assertions would be charged, as the informers and
counsellors of the crown.

It is well known, likewise, that whenever this house returns thanks to
the king for any measures that have been pursued, those measures are
supposed to be approved by them; and that approbation may be pleaded by
the minister in his defence, whenever he shall be required to answer for
the event of his counsels.

It is, therefore, in my opinion, extremely unreasonable to propose, that
_thanks should be returned to his majesty for his royal care in
prosecuting the war against Spain_; for what has been the consequence of
that care, for which our thanks are to be, with so much solemnity,
returned, but defeats, disgrace, and losses, the ruin of our merchants,
the imprisonment of our sailors, idle shows of armaments, and useless

What are the events which are to be recorded in an impartial account of
this war; a war provoked by so long a train of insults and injuries, and
carried on with so apparent an inequality of forces? Have we destroyed
the fleets of our enemies, fired their towns, and laid their fortresses
in ruins? Have we conquered their colonies, and plundered their cities,
and reduced them to a necessity of receding from their unjust claims,
and repaying the plunder of our merchants? Are their ambassadors now
soliciting peace at the court of Britain, or applying to the
neighbouring princes to moderate the resentment of their victorious

I am afraid that the effects of our preparations, however formidable,
are very different; they have only raised discontent among our
countrymen, and contempt among our enemies. We have shown that we are
strong indeed, but that our force is made ineffectual by our cowardice;
that when we threaten most loudly, we perform nothing; that we draw our
swords but to brandish them, and only wait an opportunity to sheath them
in such a manner, as not plainly to confess that we dare not strike.

If we consider, therefore, what effect our thanks for conduct like this
must naturally produce, it will appear that they can only encourage our
enemies, and dispirit our fellow-subjects. It will be imagined that the
Spaniards are a powerful nation, which it was the highest degree of
temerity to attack; a nation by whom it is honour sufficient not to be
overcome, and from whom we cannot be defended without the most vigilant
caution, and the most extensive knowledge both of politicks and war.

It will readily be perceived by the proud Spaniards, that it is only
necessary to prosecute their views a little longer, to intimidate us
with new demands, and amuse us with new preparations; and that we, who
are always satisfied with our success, shall soon be weary of a war from
which it is plain that we never expected any advantage, and therefore
shall, in a short time, willingly receive such terms as our conquerors
will grant us.

It is always to be remembered, how much all human affairs depend upon
opinion, how often reputation supplies the want of real power, by making
those afraid who cannot be hurt, and by producing confidence where there
is no superiority. The opinion of which the senate ought to endeavour
the promotion, is confidence in their steadiness, honesty, and wisdom.
Confidence which will not be much advanced by an address of thanks for
the conduct of the war against Spain.

How justly may it be asked, when this address is spread over the world,
what were the views with which the senate of Britain petitioned their
sovereign to declare war against Spain?

If their design was, as they then asserted, to procure security for the
commerce of America, and reparation for the injuries which their
merchants had received, by what fluctuation of counsels, by what
prevalence of new opinions, have they now abandoned it? For that they
have no longer the same intentions, that they now no more either propose
security, or demand recompense, is evident; since though they have
obtained neither, yet are they thankful for the conduct of the war.

To what can this apparent instability be imputed, but to the want either
of wisdom to balance their own power with that of their enemies, and
discern the true interest of their country, or to a mean compliance with
the clamours of the people, to whom they durst not refuse the appearance
of a war, though they had no expectation of honour or success?

But in far other terms, sir, will the Spaniards speak of the address
which is now proposed. "Behold, say our boasting enemies, the spirit and
wisdom of that assembly, whose counsels hold the continent in suspense,
and whose determinations change the fate of kingdoms; whose vote
transfers sovereignty, covers the ocean with fleets, prescribes the
operation of distant wars, and fixes the balance of the world. Behold
them amused with idle preparations, levying money for mockeries of war,
and returning thanks for the pleasure of the show. Behold them looking
with wonderful tranquillity on the loss of a great number of their
ships, which have been seized upon their own coasts by our privateers,
and congratulating themselves and their monarch that any have been
preserved. How great would have been the exultation, and how loud the
applauses, had they succeeded in any of their designs; had they
obstructed the departure of our fleets, or hindered our descent upon the
dominions of the queen of Hungary; had they confined our privateers in
our harbours, defeated any of our troops, or overrun any of our
colonies! In what terms would they have expressed their gratitude for
victory, who are thus thankful for disappointments and disgrace?"

Such, sir, must be the remarks of our enemies upon an address like that
which is now proposed; remarks which we and our allies must be condemned
to hear, without attempting a reply. For what can be urged to extenuate
the ridicule of returning thanks where we ought either to express
resentment, offer consolations, and propose the means of better success,
or cover our grief and shame with perpetual silence?

When it shall be told in foreign nations, that the senate of Britain had
returned thanks for the escape of the Spaniards from Ferrol, their
uninterrupted expedition to Italy, the embarrassment of their own trade,
the captivity of their sailors, and the destruction of their troops,
what can they conclude, but that the senate of Britain is a collection
of madmen, whom madmen have deputed to transact the publick affairs? And
what must be the influence of such a people, and such a senate, will be
easily conceived.

If I have given way, sir, in these observations, to any wanton
hyperbole, or exaggerated assertions, they will, I hope, be pardoned by
those who shall reflect upon the real absurdity of the proposal, which I
am endeavouring to show in its true state, and by all who shall
consider, that to return thanks for the management of the war, is to
return thanks for the carnage of Carthagena, for the ruin of our
merchants, for the loss of our reputation, and for the exaltation of the
family of Bourbon.

I hope no man will be so unjust, or can be so ignorant, as to insinuate
or believe, that I impute any part of our miscarriages to the personal
conduct of his majesty, or that I think his majesty's concern for the
prosperity of his people unworthy of the warmest and sincerest
gratitude. If the address were confined to the inspection of our
sovereign alone, I should be very far from censuring or ridiculing it;
for his majesty has not the event of war in his power, nor can confer
upon his ministers or generals that knowledge which they have neglected
to acquire, or that capacity which nature has denied them. He may
perform more than we have a right to expect, and yet be unsuccessful; he
may deserve the utmost gratitude, even when, by the misconduct of his
servants, the nation is distressed.

But, sir, in drawing up an address, we should remember that we are
declaring our sentiments not only to his majesty, but to all Europe; to
our allies, our enemies, and our posterity; that this address will be
understood, like all others; that thanks offered in this manner, by
custom, signify approbation; and that, therefore, we must at present
repress our gratitude, because it can only bring into contempt our
sovereign and ourselves.

Sir Robert WALPOLE spoke next, to this effect:--Sir, I am very far from
thinking that the war against Spain has been so unsuccessful as some
gentlemen have represented it; that the losses which we have suffered
have been more frequent than we had reason to expect from the situation
of our enemies, and the course of our trade; or our defeats, such as the
common chance of war does not often produce, even when the inequality of
the contending powers is incontestable, and the ultimate event as near
to certainty, as the nature of human affairs ever can admit.

Nor am I convinced, sir, even though it should be allowed that no
exaggeration had been made of our miscarriages, that the impropriety of
an address of thanks to his majesty for his regal care in the management
of the war, is gross or flagrant. For if it be allowed that his majesty
may be innocent of all the misconduct that has produced our defeats,
that he may have formed schemes wisely, which were unskilfully
prosecuted; that even valour and knowledge concurring, will not always
obtain success; and that, therefore, some losses may be suffered, and
some defeats received, though not only his majesty gave the wisest
direction, but his officers executed them with the utmost diligence and
fidelity; how will it appear from our ill success, that our sovereign
does not deserve our gratitude? And if it shall appear to us that our
thanks are merited, who shall restrain us from offering them in the most
publick and solemn manner?

For my part, I think no consideration worthy of regard in competition
with truth and justice, and, therefore, shall never forbear any
expression of duty to my sovereign, for fear of the ridicule of our
secret, or the reproaches of our publick enemies.

With regard to the address under our consideration, if it be allowed
either that we have not been unsuccessful in any opprobrious degree, or
that ill success does not necessarily imply any defect in the conduct of
his majesty, or debar us from the right of acknowledging his goodness
and his wisdom, I think, sir, no objection can be made to the form of
expression now proposed, in which all sounding and pompous language, all
declamatory exaggeration, and studied figures of speech, all appearance
of exultation, and all the farce of rhetorick are carefully avoided, and
nothing inserted that may disgust the most delicate, or raise scruples
in the most sincere.

Yet, sir, that we may not waste our time upon trivial disputes, when the
nation expects relief from our counsels, that we may not suspend the
prosecution of the war by complaints of past defeats, or retard that
assistance and advice which our sovereign demands, by inquiring whether
it may be more proper to thank, or to counsel him, I am willing, for the
sake of unanimity, that this clause should be omitted; and hope that no
other part of the address can give any opportunity for criticism, or for

Sir, it is no wonder that the right honourable gentleman willingly
consents to the omission of this clause, which could be inserted for no
other purpose than that he might sacrifice it to the resentment which it
must naturally produce, and by an appearance of modesty and compliance,
pass easily through the first day and obviate any severe inquiries that
might be designed.

He is too well acquainted with the opinion of many whom the nation has
chosen to represent them, and with the universal clamours of the people,
too accurately informed of the state of our enemies, and too conscious
how much his secret machinations have hindered our success, to expect or
hope that we should meet here to return thanks for the management of the
war; of a war in which nothing has been attempted by his direction that
was likely to succeed, and in which no advantage has been gained, but by
acting without orders, and against his hopes.

That I do not charge him, sir, without reason, or invent accusations
only to obstruct his measures, or to gratify my own resentment; that I
do not eagerly catch flying calumnies, prolong the date of casual
reproaches, encourage the malignity of the envious, or adopt the
suspicions of the melancholy; that I do not impose upon myself by a warm
imagination, and endeavour to communicate to others impressions which I
have only received myself from prejudice and malignity, will be proved
from the review of his conduct since the beginning of our dispute with
Spain, in which it will be found that he has been guilty, not of single
errours, but of deliberate treachery; that he has always cooperated with
our enemies, and sacrificed to his private interest the happiness and
the honour of the British nation.

How long our merchants were plundered, our sailors enslaved, and our
colonies intimidated without resentment; how long the Spaniards usurped
the dominion of the seas, searched our ships at pleasure, confiscated
the cargoes without control, and tortured our fellow-subjects with
impunity, cannot but be remembered. Not only every gentleman in this
house, but every man in the nation, however indolent, ignorant, or
obscure, can tell what barbarities were exercised, what ravages were
committed, what complaints were made, and how they were received. It is
universally known that this gentleman, and those whom he has seduced by
pensions and employments, treated the lamentations of ruined families,
and the outcries of tortured Britons, as the clamours of sedition, and
the murmurs of malignity suborned to inflame the people, and embarrass
the government.

It is known, sir, that our losses were at one time ridiculed as below
the consideration of the legislature, and the distress of the most
useful and honest part of mankind was made the subject of merriment and
laughter; the awkward wit of all the hirelings of the town was exerted
to divert the attention of the publick, and all their art was employed
to introduce other subjects into conversation, or to still the
complaints which they heard with a timely jest.

But their wit was not more successful on this, than on other occasions;
their imaginations were soon exhausted, and they found, as at other
times, that they must have recourse to new expedients. The first
artifice of shallow courtiers is to elude with promises those complaints
which they cannot confute, a practice that requires no understanding or
knowledge, and therefore has been generally followed by the
administration. This artifice they quickly made use of, when they found
that neither the merchants nor the nation were to be silenced by an
affectation of negligence, or the sallies of mirth; that it was no
longer safe to jest upon the miseries of their countrymen, the
destruction of our trade, and the violation of our rights, they
condescended, therefore, to some appearances of compassion, and promised
to exert all their influence to procure redress and security.

That they might not appear, sir, to have made this promise only to free
themselves from present importunity, they set negotiations on foot,
despatched memorials, remonstrances, propositions, and computations, and
with an air of gravity and importance, assembled at proper times to
peruse the intelligence which they received, and to concert new
instructions for their ministers.

While this farce was acted, sir, innumerable artifices were made use of
to reconcile the nation to suspense and delay. Sometimes the distance of
the Spanish dominions in America retarded the decision of our claims.
Sometimes the dilatory disposition of the Spaniards, and the established
methods of their courts, made it impossible to procure a more speedy
determination. Sometimes orders were despatched to America in favour of
our trade, and sometimes those orders were neglected by the captains of
the Spanish ships, and the governours of their provinces; and when it
was inquired why those captains and governours were not punished or
recalled, we were treated with contempt, for not knowing what had been
so lately told us of the dilatory proceedings of the Spanish courts.

In the mean time our merchants were plundered, and our sailors thrown
into dungeons; our flag was insulted, and our navigation restrained, by
men acting under the commission of the king of Spain; we perceived no
effect of our negotiations but the expense, and our enemies not only
insisted on their former claims, but prosecuted them with the utmost
rigour, insolence, and cruelty.

It must, indeed, sir, be urged in favour of our minister, that he did
not refuse any act of submission, or omit any method of supplication by
which he might hope to soften the Spaniards; he solicited their favour
at their own court, he sent commissaries into their country, he assisted
them in taking possession of dominions, to which neither we nor they
have proved a right; and he employed the navies of Britain to transport
into Italy the prince on whom the new-erected kingdom was to be

Well might he expect that the Spaniards would be softened by so much
kindness and forbearance, and that gratitude would at length induce them
to spare those whom no injuries or contempt had been able to alienate
from them, and to allow those a free course through the seas of America,
to whom they had been indebted for an uninterrupted passage to the
possession of a kingdom.

He might likewise urge, sir, that when he was obliged to make war upon
them, he was so tender of their interest, that the British admiral was
sent out with orders rather to destroy his own fleet than the galleons,
which, in appearance, he was sent to take, and to perish by the
inclemency of the climate, rather than enter the Spanish ports, terrify
their colonies, or plunder their towns.

But to little purpose, sir, did our minister implore the compassion of
the Spaniards, and represent the benefits by which we might claim it;
for his compliance was by the subtle Spaniards attributed, not to
kindness, but to fear; and it was therefore determined to reduce him to
absolute slavery, by the same practices which had already sunk him to so
abject a state.

They therefore treated our remonstrances with contempt, continued their
insolence and their oppressions, and while our agent was cringing at
their court with fresh instructions in his hand, while he was hurrying
with busy looks from one grandee to another, and, perhaps, dismissed
without an audience one day, and sent back in the midst of his harangue
on another, the guardships of the Spaniards continued their havock, our
merchants were ruined, and our sailors tortured.

At length, sir, the nation was too much inflamed to be any longer amused
with idle negotiations, or trifling expedients; the streets echoed with
the clamours of the populace, and this house was crowded with petitions
from the merchants. The honourable person, with all his art, found
himself unable any longer to elude a determination of this affair. Those
whom he had hitherto persuaded that he had failed merely for want of
abilities, began now to suspect that he had no desire of better success;
and those who had hitherto cheerfully merited their pensions by an
unshaken adherence to all his measures, who had extolled his wisdom and
his integrity with all the confidence of security, began now to be
shaken by the universality of the censures which the open support of
perfidy brought upon them. They were afraid any longer to assert what
they neither believed themselves, nor could persuade others to admit.
The most indolent were alarmed, the most obstinate convinced, and the
most profligate ashamed.

What could now be done, sir, to gain a few months, to secure a short
interval of quiet, in which his agents might be employed to disseminate
some new falsehood, bribe to his party some new vindicators, or lull the
people with the opiate of another expedient, with an account of
concessions from the court of Spain, or a congress to compute the
losses, and adjust the claims of our merchants?

Something was necessarily to be attempted, and orders were therefore
despatched by our minister, to his slave at the court of Spain, to
procure some stipulations that might have at least the appearance of a
step towards the conclusion of the debate. His agent obeyed him with his
usual alacrity and address, and in time sent him, for the satisfaction
of the British people, the celebrated convention.

The convention, sir, has been so lately discussed, is so particularly
remembered, and so universally condemned, that it would be an
unjustifiable prodigality of time to expatiate upon it. There were but
few in the last senate, and I hope there are none in this, who did not
see the meanness of suffering incontestable claims to be disputed by
commissaries, the injustice of the demand which was made upon the
South-sea company, and the contemptuous insolence of amusing us with the
shadow of a stipulation, which was to vanish into nothing, unless we
purchased a ratification of it, by paying what we did not owe.

The convention, therefore, sir, was so far from pacifying, that it only
exasperated the nation, and took from our minister the power of acting
any longer openly in favour of the Spaniards; of whom it must be
confessed, that their wisdom was overpowered by their pride, and that,
for the sake of showing to all the powers of Europe the dependence in
which they held the court of Britain, they took from their friends the
power of serving them any longer, and made it unsafe for them to pay
that submission to which they were inclined.

The Spaniards did not sufficiently distinguish between the nation and
the ministry of Britain, nor suspected that their interests,
inclinations, and opinions were directly opposite; and that those who
were caressed, feared, and reverenced by the ministry, were by the
people hated, despised, and ridiculed.

By enslaving our ministry, they weakly imagined that they had conquered
our nation; nor, perhaps, sir, would they quickly have discovered their
mistake, had they used their victory with greater moderation,
condescended to govern their new province with less rigour, and sent us
laws in any other form than that of the convention.

But the security which success excites, produced in them the same
effects as it has often done in others, and destroyed, in some degree,
the advantages of the conquest by which it was inspired. The last proof
of their contempt of our sovereign and our nation, was too flagrant to
be palliated, and too publick not to be resented. The cries of the
nation were redoubled, the solicitations of the merchants renewed, the
absurdity of our past conduct exposed, the meanness of our forbearance
reproached, and the necessity of more vigorous measures evidently

The friends of Spain discovered, sir, at length, that war was
necessarily to be proclaimed, and that it would be no longer their
interest to act in open opposition to justice and reason, to the policy
of all ages, and remonstrances of the whole nation.

The minister, therefore, after long delays, after having run round the
circle of all his artifices, and endeavouring to intimidate the nation
by false representations of the power of our enemies, and the danger of
an invasion from them, at length suffered war to be proclaimed, though
not till he had taken all precautions that might disappoint us of

He knew that the state of the Spanish dominions exposed them in a
particular manner to sudden incursions by small parties, and that in
former wars against them, our chief advantage had been gained by the
boldness and subtilty of private adventurers, who by hovering over their
coasts in small vessels, without raising the alarms which the sight of a
royal navy necessarily produces, had discovered opportunities of landing
unexpectedly, and entering their towns by surprise, of plundering their
wealthy ships, or enriching themselves by ransoms and compositions; he
knew what inconsiderable bodies of men, incited by private advantage,
selected with care for particular expeditions, instructed by secret
intelligence, and concealed by the smallness of their numbers, had found
means to march up into the country, through ways which would never have
been attempted by regular forces, and have brought upon the Spaniards
more terrour and distress than could have been produced by a powerful
army, however carefully disciplined or however skilfuly commanded.

It was, therefore, sir, his first care to secure his darling Spaniards
from the pernicious designs of private adventurers; he knew not but some
of Elizabeth's heroes might unfortunately revive, and terrify, with an
unexpected invasion, the remotest corners of the Spanish colonies, or
appear before their ports with his nimble sloops, and bid defiance to
their navies and their garrisons. When, therefore, a bill was introduced
into this house, by which encouragement was given to the subjects of
this kingdom to fit out privateers, and by which those who should
conquer any of the colonies of the Spaniards, were confirmed in the
possession of them for ever, it cannot be forgotten with what zeal he
opposed, and with what steadiness he rejected it, though it is not
possible to assign any disadvantage which could have been produced by
passing it, and the utmost that could be urged against it was, that it
was unnecessary and useless.

Having thus discouraged that method of war which was most to be dreaded
by our enemies, and left them little to fear but from national forces
and publick preparations, his next care was to secure them from any
destructive blow, by giving them time to equip their fleets, collect
their forces, repair their fortifications, garrison their towns, and
regulate their trade; for this purpose he delayed, as long as it was
possible, the despatch of our navies, embarrassed our levies of sailors
by the violence of impresses; violence, which proper encouragement and
regulations might have made unnecessary; and suffered the privateers of
the enemy to plunder our merchants without control, under pretence that
ships of war could not be stationed, nor convoys provided for their

At length several fleets were fitted out, Vernon was sent to America,
and Haddock into the Mediterranean, with what coqsequences it is well
known; nor should I mention them at this time, had I not been awakened
to the remembrance of them by a proposal of thanks for the conduct of
the war.

The behaviour of the two admirals was very different; though it has not
yet appeared but that their orders were the same. Vernon with six ships
destroyed those fortifications, before which Hosier formerly perished,
in obedience to the commands of our ministry. How this success was
received by the minister and his adherents, how much they were offended
at the exultations of the populace, how evidently they appeared to
consider it as a breach of their scheme, and a deviation from their
directions, the whole nation can relate.

Nor is it to be forgotten, sir, how invidiously the minister himself
endeavoured to extenuate the honour of that action, by attempting to
procure in the address, which was on that occasion presented to his
majesty, a suppression of the number of the ships with which he
performed it.

In the mean time, sir, the nation expected accounts of the same kind
from the Mediterranean, where Haddock was stationed with a very
considerable force; but instead of relations of ports bombarded, and
towns plundered, of navies destroyed, and villages laid in ashes, we
were daily informed of the losses of our merchants, whose ships were
taken almost within sight of our squadrons.

We had, indeed, once the satisfaction of hearing that the fleet of Spain
was confined in the port of Cadiz, unprovided with provisions, and it
was rashly reported that means would either be found of destroying them
in the harbour, or that they would be shut up in that unfruitful part of
the country, till they should be obliged to disband their crews.

We, therefore, sir, bore with patience the daily havock of our trade, in
expectation of the entire destruction of the royal navy of Spain, which
would reduce them to despair of resistance, and compel them to implore
peace. But while we were flattering ourselves with those pleasing
dreams, we were wakened on a sudden with an astonishing account that the
Spaniards had left Cadiz, and, without any interruption from the
Britons, were taking in provisions at Ferrol.

This disappointment of our expectations did, indeed, discourage us, but
not deprive us of hope; we knew that the most politick are sometimes
deceived, and that the most vigilant may sometimes relax their
attention; we did not expect in our commanders any exemption from human
errours, and required only that they should endeavour to repair their
failures, and correct their mistakes; and, therefore, waited without
clamour, in expectation that what was omitted at Cadiz would be
performed at Ferrol.

But no sooner, sir, had the Spaniards stored their fleet, than we were
surprised with a revolution of affairs yet more wonderful. Haddock,
instead of remaining before Ferrol, was drawn off by some chimerical
alarm to protect Minorca, and the Spaniards in the mean time sailed away
to America, in conjunction with the French squadron that had been for
some time ready for the voyage.

If we consider the absurdity of this conduct, it cannot but be imagined
that our minister must send Haddock false intelligence and treacherous
directions, on purpose that the Spanish fleet might escape without
interruption. For how can it be conceived that the Spaniards could have
formed any real design of besieging port Mahon? Was it probable that
they would have sent an army, in defenceless transports, into the jaws
of the British fleet? and it was well known that they had no ships of
war to protect them. It was not very agreeable to common policy to land
an army upon an island, an island wholly destitute of provisions for
their support, while an hostile navy was in possession of the sea, by
which the fortress which their troops were destined to besiege might be
daily supplied with necessaries, and the garrison augmented with new
forces, while their army would be itself besieged in a barren island,
without provisions, without recruits, without hope of succour, or
possibility of success.

But such was the solicitude of our admiral for the preservation of
Minorca, that he abandoned his station, and suffered the Spaniards to
join their confederates of France, and prosecute their voyage to America
without hinderance or pursuit.

In America they remained for some time masters of the sea, and confined
Vernon to the ports; but want of provisions obliging the French to
return, no invasion of our colonies was attempted, nor any of those
destructive measures pursued which we had reason to fear, and of which
our minister, notwithstanding his wonderful sagacity, could not have
foretold that they would have been defeated by an unexpected scarcity of

The Spaniards, however, gained, by this expedient, time to repair their
fortifications, strengthen their garrisons, and dispose their forces in
the most advantageous manner; and therefore, though they were not
enabled to attack our dominions, had at least an opportunity of securing
their own.

At length, sir, lest it should be indisputably evident that our minister
was in confederacy with the Spaniards, it was determined, that their
American territories should be invaded; but care was taken to disappoint
the success of the expedition by employing new-raised troops, and
officers without experience, and to make it burdensome to the nation by
a double number of officers, of which no use could be discovered, but
that of increasing the influence, and multiplying the dependants of the

It was not thought sufficient, sir, to favour the designs of the
Spaniards by the delay which the levy of new troops necessarily
produced, and to encourage them by the probability of an easy resistance
against raw forces; nor was the nation, in the opinion of the minister,
punished for its rebellion against him with adequate severity, by being
condemned to support a double number of troops. Some other methods were
to be used for embarrassing our preparations and protracting the war.

The troops, therefore, sir, being, by the accident of a hard winter,
more speedily raised than it was reasonable to expect, were detained in
this island for several months, upon trivial pretences; and were at
length suffered to embark at a time when it was well known that they
would have much more formidable enemies than the Spaniards to encounter;
when the unhealthy season of the American climate must necessarily
destroy them by thousands; when the air itself was poison, and to be
wounded certainly death.

These were the hardships to which part of our fellow-subjects have been
exposed by the tyranny of the minister; hardships which caution could
not obviate, nor bravery surmount; they were sent to combat with nature,
to encounter with the blasts of disease, and to make war against the
elements. They were sent to feed the vultures of America, and to gratify
the Spaniards with an easy conquest.

In the passage the general died, and the command devolved upon a man who
had never seen an enemy, and was, therefore, only a speculative
warriour; an accident, which, as it was not unlikely to happen, would
have been provided against by any minister who wished for success. The
melancholy event of this expedition I need not mention, it was such as
might be reasonably expected; when our troops were sent out without
discipline, without commanders, into a country where even the dews are
fatal, against enemies informed of their approach, secured by
fortifications, inured to the climate, well provided, and skilfully

In the mean time, sir, it is not to be forgotten what depredations were
made upon our trading vessels, with what insolence ships of very little
force approached our coasts, and seized our merchants in sight of our
fortifications; it is not to be forgotten that the conduct of some of
those who owed their revenues and power to the minister, gave yet
stronger proofs of a combination.

It is not to be forgotten with what effrontery the losses of our
merchants were ridiculed, with what contemptuous triumph of revenge they
were charged with the guilt of this fatal war, and how publickly they
were condemned to suffer for their folly.

For this reason, sir, they were either denied the security of convoys,
or forsaken in the most dangerous parts of the sea, by those to whose
protection they were, in appearance, committed. For this reason, they
were either hindered from engaging in their voyage by the loss of those
men who were detained unactive in the ships of war, or deprived of their
crews upon the high seas, or suffered to proceed only to become a prey
to the Spaniards.

But it was not, sir, a sufficient gratification of our implacable
minister, that the merchants were distressed for alarming the nation; it
was thought, likewise, necessary to punish the people for believing too
easily the reports of the merchants, and to warn them for ever against
daring to imagine themselves able to discern their own interest, or to
prescribe other measures to the ministers, than they should be
themselves inclined to pursue; our minister was resolved to show them,
by a master-stroke, that it was in his power to disappoint their
desires, by seeming to comply, and to destroy their commerce and their
happiness, by the very means by which they hoped to secure them.

For this purpose, sir, did this great man summon all his politicks
together, and call to council all his confidants and all his dependants;
and it was, at length, after mature deliberation, determined, by their
united wisdom, to put more ships into commission, to aggravate the
terrours of the impress by new violence and severity, to draw the
sailors by the promise of large rewards from the service of the
merchants, to collect a mighty fleet, and to despatch it on a _secret

A secret expedition, sir, is a new term of ministerial art, a term which
may have been, perhaps, formerly made use of by soldiers, for a design
to be executed without giving the enemy an opportunity of providing for
their defence; but is now used for a design with which the enemy is
better acquainted than those to whom the execution of it is committed. A
secret expedition is now an expedition of which every one knows the
design, but those at whose expense it is undertaken. It is a kind of
naval review, which excels those of the park in magnificence and
expense, but is equally useless, and equally ridiculous.

Upon these secret expeditions, however, were fixed for a long time the
expectations of the people; they saw all the appearances of preparation
for real war; they were informed, that the workmen in the docks were
retained by uncommon wages to do double duty; they saw the most specious
encouragement offered to the sailors; they saw naval stores accumulated
with the utmost industry, heard of nothing but the proof of new cannon,
and new contracts for provision; and how much reason soever they had to
question the sincerity of the great man who had so long engrossed the
management of all affairs, they did not imagine that he was yet so
abandoned to levy forces only to exhaust their money, and equip fleets
only to expose them to ridicule.

When, therefore, sir, after the usual delays, the papers had informed
the people that the great fleet was sailed, they no longer doubted that
the Spaniards were to be reduced to our own terms; they expected to be
told, in a few days, of the destruction of fleets, the demolition of
castles, and the plunder of cities; and everyone envied the fortune of
those who, by being admitted into their formidable fleet, were entitled
to the treasures of such wealthy enemies.

When they had for some time indulged these expectations, an account was
brought, that the fleet was returned without the least action, or the
least attempt, and that new provisions were to be taken in, that they
might set out upon another _secret expedition_.

But, sir, this wonder-working term had now lost its efficacy, and it was
discovered, that _secret expeditions_, like all other _secret services_,
were only expedients to drain the money of the people, and to conceal
the ignorance or villany of the minister.

Such has been the conduct for which we are desired to return thanks in
an humble and dutiful address, such are the transactions which we are to
recommend to the approbation of our constituents, and such the triumphs
upon which we must congratulate our sovereign.

For my part, sir, I cannot but think that silence is a censure too
gentle of that wickedness which no language can exaggerate, and for
which, as it has, perhaps, no example, human kind have not yet provided
a name. Murder, parricide, and treason, are modest appellations when
referred to that conduct by which a king is betrayed, and a nation
ruined, under pretence of promoting its interest, by a man trusted with
the administration of publick affairs.

Let us, therefore, sir, if it be thought not proper to lay before his
majesty the sentiments of his people in their full extent, at least not
endeavour to conceal them from him; let us, at least, address him in
such a manner as may give him some occasion to inquire into the late
transactions, which have for many years been such, that to inquire into
them is to condemn them.

Sir Robert WALPOLE rose again, and spoke to this effect:--Sir, though I
am far from being either confounded or intimidated by this atrocious
charge; though I am confident, that all the measures which have been so
clamorously censured, will admit of a very easy vindication, and that
whenever they are explained they will be approved; yet as an accusation
so complicated cannot be confuted without a long recapitulation of past
events, and a deduction of many particular circumstances, some of which
may require evidence, and some a very minute and prolix explication, I
cannot think this a proper day for engaging in the controversy, because
it is my interest that it may be accurately discussed.

At present, sir, I shall content myself with bare assertions, like those
of him by whom I am accused, and hope they will not be heard with less
attention, or received with less belief. For surely it was never denied
to any man to defend himself with the same weapons with which he is

I shall, therefore, sir, make no scruple to assert, that the treasure of
the publick has been employed with the utmost frugality, to promote the
purposes for which it was granted; that our foreign affairs have been
transacted with the utmost fidelity, in pursuance of long consultations;
and shall venture to add, that our success has not been such as ought to
produce any suspicion of negligence or treachery.

That our design against Carthagena was defeated, cannot be denied; but
what war has been one continued series of success? In the late war with
France, of which the conduct has been so lavishly celebrated, did no
designs miscarry? If we conquered at Ramillies, were we not in our turn
beaten at Almanza? If we destroyed the French ships, was it not always
with some loss of our own? And since the sufferings of our merchants
have been mentioned with so much acrimony, do not the lists of the ships
taken in that war, prove that the depredations of privateers cannot be
entirely prevented?

The disappointment, sir, of the publick expectation by the return of the
fleets, has been charged upon the administration, as a crime too
enormous to be mentioned without horrour and detestation. That the
ministry have not the elements in their power, that they do not
prescribe the course of the wind, is a sufficient proof of their
negligence and weakness: with as much justice is it charged upon them,
that the expectations of the populace, which they did not raise, and to
which, perhaps, the conquest of a kingdom had not been equal, failed of
being gratified.

I am very far from hoping or desiring that the house should be satisfied
with a defence like this; I know, by observing the practice of the
opponents of the ministry, what fallacy may be concealed in general
assertions, and am so far from wishing to evade a more exact inquiry,
that if the gentleman who has thus publickly and confidently accused the
ministry, will name a day for examining the state of the nation, I will
second his motion.

[The address was at length agreed to, without a division.]

Mr. PULTENEY then moved, that the state of the nation should be
considered six weeks hence; sir Robert WALPOLE seconded the motion, and
it was unanimously agreed, that this house will, on the 21st of next
month, resolve itself into a committee of the whole house, to consider
of the state of the nation. But when that day came, sir Robert WALPOLE
having been able to defeat a motion which was to refer some papers to a
secret committee, the consideration of the state of the nation was put
off for a fortnight; but on the eve of that day, both houses adjourned
for fourteen days, during which, sir Robert WALPOLE resigned his
employments of first lord of the treasury, and chancellor and under
treasurer of his majesty's exchequer; and was created a peer, by the
title of lord WALPOLE, and earl of ORFORD.



Lord LIMERICK rose, and spoke in the following manner:--Sir, as I am
about to offer to the house a motion of the highest importance to the
honour and happiness of our country, to the preservation of our
privileges, and the continuance of our constitution, I make no doubt of
a candid attention from this assembly, and hope for such a determination
as shall be the result not of external influence, but of real

I cannot but congratulate myself and all lovers of their country, that
we are arrived at a time, in which such hopes may be rationally
indulged, that we shall soon see the triumph of liberty, and the
renovation of senatorial freedom. It is not without the highest
satisfaction, that I find my life protracted to that happy day, in which
the yoke of dependence has been shaken off, and the shackles of
oppression have been broken; in which truth and justice have once more
raised up their heads, and obtained that regard which had so long been
paid to splendid wickedness and successful rapine.

The time is now past, in which it was meritorious to harden the heart
against pity, and the forehead against shame; to plunder the people by
needless taxes, and insult them by displaying their spoils before their
eyes, in luxurious riot, and boundless magnificence; when the certain
method of obtaining what the greatest part, even of good men, cannot but
sometimes wish to acquire, interest, affluence, and honour, was an
implicit resignation to authority, a desertion of all principles,
defiance of all censure, and an open declaration against any other
motives of action, than the sole pleasure of an arbitrary minister.

It is now, sir, no longer considered as an instance of disaffection to
the government, to represent the miseries and declare the opinions of
the people; to propose their interest as the great basis of government,
the general end of society, and the parent of law. It is now no longer
criminal to affirm, that they have a right to complain when they are, in
their own opinion, injured, and to be heard when they complain. It may
now be with safety asserted, that those who swell with the pride of
office, and glitter with the magnificence of a court, however they may
display their affluence, or boast their titles; with whatever contempt
they may have learned of late to look upon their fellow-subjects, who
have no possessions but what they have obtained by their industry, nor
any honours but what are voluntarily paid to their understanding and
their virtue; with whatever authority they may dictate to their
dependants, or whatever reverence they may exact from a long
subordination of hirelings, are, amidst all their pomp and influence,
only the servants of the people, intrusted by them with the
administration of their affairs, and accountable to them for the abuse
of trust.

That trusts of the highest importance have been long abused, that the
servants of the people, having long thought themselves out of the reach
of justice, and above examination, have very ill discharged the offices
in which they have been engaged, that the publick advantage has been
wholly disregarded, that treaties have been concluded without any regard
to the interest of Britain, and that our foreign and domestick affairs
have been managed with equal ignorance, negligence, or wickedness, the
present state of Europe, and the calamities of this country, will
sufficiently inform us.

If we survey the condition of foreign nations, we shall find, that the
power and dominions of the family of Bourbon, a family which has never
had any other designs than the extirpation of true religion, and the
universal slavery of mankind, have been daily increased. We shall find
that they have increased by the declension of the house of Austria,
which treaties and our interest engage us to support.

But had their acquisitions been made only by the force of arms, had they
grown stronger only by victories, and more wealthy only by plunder, our
ministers might, with some appearance of reason, have imputed their
success to accident, and informed us, that we gained, in the mean time,
a sufficient counterbalance to those advantages, by an uninterrupted
commerce, and by the felicity of peace; peace, which, in every nation,
has been found to produce affluence, and of which the wisest men have
thought that it could scarcely be too dearly purchased.

But peace has, in this nation, by the wonderful artifices of our
ministers, been the parent of poverty and misery; we have been so far
from finding our commerce extended by it, that we have enjoyed it only
by a contemptible patience of the most open depredations, by a long
connivance at piracy, and by a continued submission to insults, which no
other nation would have borne.

We have been so far from seeing any part of our taxes remitted, that we
have been loaded with more rigorous exactions to support the expenses of
peace, than were found necessary to defray the charges of a war against
those, whose opulence and power had incited them to aspire to the
dominion of the world.

How these taxes have been employed, and why our trade has been
neglected, why our allies have been betrayed, and why the ancient
enemies of our country have been suffered to grow powerful by our
connivances, it is now time to examine; and therefore I move, that a
committee be appointed to inquire into the conduct of affairs at home
and abroad during the last twenty years.

Sir John ST. AUBIN then spoke as follows:--Sir, I rise up to second this
motion; and, as the noble lord has opened it in so full and proper a
manner, and as I do not doubt but that other gentlemen are ready to
support it, more practised in speaking, of greater abilities and
authority than myself, I am the less anxious about the injury it may
receive from the part I bear in it. I think the proposition is so
evident, that it wants no enforcement; it comes to you from the voice of
the nation, which, thank God, has at last found admittance within these

Innocence is of so delicate a nature, that it cannot bear suspicion, and
therefore will desire inquiry; because it will always be justified by
it. Guilt, from its own consciousness, will use subterfuges, and fly to
concealment; and the more righteous and authoritative the inquiry, the
more it will be avoided; because the greater will be the dread of

In private life, I am contented with men's virtues only, without seeking
for opportunities of blame. In a publick character, when national
grievances cry aloud for inquiry and justice, it is our duty to pursue
all the footsteps of guilt; and the loud, the pathetick appeal of my
constituents, is more forcibly persuasive than any motive of private
tenderness. This appeal is not the clamour of faction, artfully raised
to disturb the operation of government, violent for a while, and soon to
be appeased. It is the complaint of long and patient sufferings, a
complaint not to be silenced; and which all endeavours to suppress it,
would only make more importunate and clamorous. It is the solemn appeal
of the whole people, of the united body of our constituents, in this
time of national calamity, earnestly beseeching you, in a legal
parliamentary way, to redress their grievances, to revive your ancient
right of inquiry, to explore the most remote and hidden sources of
iniquity, to detect the bold authors of their distress, that they may be
made examples of national justice.

It is to you they appeal, the true, the genuine representatives of the
people. Not like former parliaments, an instrument of state, the
property of a minister, purchased by the missionaries of corruption, who
have been dispersed through the kingdom, and furnished with the publick
money to invade all natural interest, by poisoning the morals of the
people. Upon this rotten foundation has been erected a towering fabrick
of corruption: a most dangerous conspiracy has been carried on against
the very essence of our constitution, a formidable system of ministerial
power has been formed, fallaciously assuming, under constitutional
appearances, the name of legal government.

In this system we have seen the several offices of administration meanly
resolving themselves under the direction and control of one man: while
this scheme was pursued, the nation has been ingloriously patient of
foreign indignities; our trade has been most shamefully neglected, or
basely betrayed; a war with an impotent enemy, most amply provided for,
unsuccessfully carried on; the faith of treaties broke; our natural
allies deserted, and weakened even by that power, which we now dread for
want of their assistance.

It is not the bare removal from office that will satisfy the nation,
especially if such removal is dignified with the highest marks of royal
favour. This only gives mankind a reasonable fear that his majesty has
rather condescended to the importunities, than adopted the opinion of
his people. It is, indeed, a most gracious condescension, a very high
instance of his majesty's just intentions to remove any of his servants
upon national suspicion; but it will give his majesty a most
unfavourable opinion of his people, if he is not satisfied that this
suspicion was just. It is the unfortunate situation of arbitrary kings,
that they know the sentiments of their people only from whisperers in
their closet. Our monarchy has securer establishments. Our sovereign is
always sure of knowing the true sense of his people, because he may see
it through the proper, the constitutional medium: but then this medium
must be pure, it must transmit every object in its real form and its
natural colours. This is all that is now contended for. You are called
to the exercise of your just right of inquiry, that his majesty may see
what reason there is for this general inquietude.

This motion is of a general nature; whom it may more particularly
affect, I shall not determine. But there is a great person, lately at
the head of the administration, who stands foremost, the principal
object of national suspicion. He surely will not decline this inquiry,
it is his own proposition; he has frequently, in the name of the whole
administration, thrown down his gauntlet here; has desired your
inquiries, and has rested his fate on your justice. The nation accepts
the challenge, they join issue with him, they are now desirous to bring
this great cause in judgment before you.

It must be imputed to the long intermission of this right of inquiry,
that the people have now this cause of complaint; had the administration
of this great person been submitted to the constitutional controls, had
his conduct undergone strict and frequent inquiries, he had parts and
abilities to have done great honour and service to this country. But the
will, uncontrouled, for ever must and will produce security and
wantonness; nor can moderation and despotick power subsist long

In vain do we admire the outlines of our constitution, in vain do we
boast of those wise and salutary restraints, which our ancestors, at the
expense of their blood and treasure, have wisely imposed upon monarchy
itself, if it is to be a constitution in theory only, if this evasive
doctrine is to be admitted, that a fellow-subject of our own, perhaps of
the lowest rank among us, may be delegated by the crown to exercise the
administration of government, with absolute, uncontroulable dominion
over us; which must be the case, if ministerial conduct is not liable to
parliamentary inquiries.

If I did not think this motion agreeable to the rules and proceedings of
the senate; if I thought it was meant to introduce any procedure which
was not strictly consonant to the laws and constitution of my country, I
do most solemnly protest I would be against, it. But as I apprehend it
to arise from the nature and spirit of our constitution, as it will
defend the innocent, and can be detrimental only to the guilty, I do
most heartily second the motion.

The hon. Henry PELHAM opposed the motion to the following effect:--Sir,
if it was not daily to be observed, how much the minds of the wisest and
most moderate men are elated with success, and how often those, who have
been able to surmount the strongest obstacles with unwearied diligence,
and to preserve their fortitude unshaken amidst hourly disappointments,
have been betrayed by slight advantages into indecent exultations,
unreasonable confidence, and chimerical hopes; had I not long remarked
the infatuation of prosperity, and the pride of triumph, I should not
have heard the motion which has been now made without, astonishment.

It has been long the business or the amusement of the gentlemen, who,
having for some time conferred upon themselves the venerable titles of
patriots, advocates for the people, and defenders of the constitution,
have at length persuaded part of the nation to dignify them with the
same appellation, to display in the most pathetick language, and
aggravate with the most hyperbolical exaggerations, the wantonness with
which the late ministry exercised their power, the exorbitance of their
demands, and the violence of their measures. They have indulged their
imaginations, which have always been sufficiently fruitful in satire and
invective, by representing them as men in whom all regard to decency or
reputation was extinguished, men who no longer submitted to wear the
mask of hypocrisy, or thought the esteem of mankind worth their care;
who had ceased to profess any regard to the welfare of their country, or
any desire of advancing the publick happiness; and who no longer desired
any other effects of their power, than the security of themselves and
the conquest of their opponents.

Such, sir, has been the character of the ministry, which, by the
incessant endeavours of these disinterested patriots, has been carried
to the remotest corners of the empire, and disseminated through all the
degrees of the people. Every man, whom they could enlist among their
pupils, whom they could persuade to see with their eyes, rather than his
own, and who was not so stubborn as to require proofs of their
assertions, and reasons of their conduct; every man who, having no
sentiments of his own, hoped to become important by echoing those of his
instructors, was taught to think and to say, that the court was filled
with open corruption; that the greatest and the wisest men of the
kingdom set themselves publickly to sale, and held an open traffick for
votes and places; that whoever engaged in the party of the minister,
declared himself ready to support his cause against truth, and reason,
and conviction, and was no longer under the restraint of shame or

These assertions, hardy as they were, they endeavoured to support by
instances of measures, which they described as having no other tendency,
than to advance the court to absolute authority, to enslave the nation,
or to betray it: and more happily would they have propagated their
system, and much sooner would they have obtained a general declaration
of the people in their favour, had they been able to have produced a
motion like this.

Should the influence of these men increase, should they grow secure in
the possession of their power, by any new methods of deluding the
people, what wonderful expedients, what unheard-of methods of government
may not be expected from them? What degrees of violence may they not be
supposed to practise, who have flushed their new authority by a motion
which was never projected since the first existence of our government,
or offered by the most arbitrary minister in all the confidence of an
established majority.

It may, perhaps, be imagined by many of those who are unacquainted with
senatorial affairs, as many of the members of this house may without any
reproach be supposed to be, that I have made use of those arts against
the patriots which they have so long practised against the court; that I
have exaggerated the enormity of the motion by unjust comparisons, or
rhetorical flights; and that there will be neither danger nor
inconvenience in complying with it to any but those who have betrayed
their trust, or neglected their duty.

I doubt not, but many of those with whom this motion has been concerted,
have approved it without seeing all its consequences; and have been
betrayed into that approbation by a laudable zeal for their country, and
an honest indignation against corruption and treachery, by a virtuous
desire of detecting wickedness, and of securing our constitution from
any future dangers or attacks.

For the sake, therefore, of these gentlemen, whom I cannot but suppose
willing to follow the dictates of their own consciences, and to act upon
just motives, I shall endeavour to lay open the nature of this
extraordinary motion, and doubt not but that when they find it, as it
will unquestionably appear, unreasonable in itself, and dangerous to
posterity, they will change their opinion for the same reasons as they
embraced it, and prefer the happiness of their country to the prosperity
of their party.

Against an inquiry into the conduct of all foreign and domestick affairs
for _twenty_ years past, it is no weak argument that it is without
precedent; that neither the zeal of patriotism, nor the rage of faction,
ever produced such a motion in any former age. It cannot be doubted by
those who have read our histories, that formerly our country has
produced men equally desirous of detecting wickedness, and securing
liberty, with those who are now congratulating their constituents on the
success of their labours; and that faction has swelled in former times
to a height, at which it may reasonably be hoped it will never arrive
again, is too evident to be controverted.

What then can we suppose was the reason, that neither indignation, nor
integrity, nor resentment, ever before directed a motion like this? Was
it not, because it neither will serve the purposes of honesty, nor
wickedness; that it would have defeated the designs of good, and
betrayed those of bad men; that it would have given patriotism an
appearance of faction, rather than have vested faction with the disguise
of patriotism.

It cannot be supposed, that the sagacity of these gentlemen, however
great, has enabled them to discover a method of proceeding which escaped
the penetration of our ancestors, so long celebrated for the strength of
their understanding, and the extent of their knowledge. For it is
evident, that without any uncommon effort of the intellectual faculties,
he that proposes an inquiry for a year past, might have made the same
proposal with regard to a longer time; and it is therefore probable,
that the limitation of the term is the effect of his knowledge, rather
than of his ignorance.

And, indeed, the absurdity of an universal inquiry for twenty years past
is such, that no man, whose station has given him opportunities of being
acquainted with publick business, could have proposed it, had he not
been misled by the vehemence of resentment, or biassed by the secret
operation of some motives different from publick good; for it is no less
than a proposal for an attempt impossible to be executed, and of which
the execution, if it could be effected would be detrimental to the

Were our nation, sir, like some of the inland kingdoms of the continent,
or the barbarous empire of Japan, without commerce, without alliances,
without taxes, and without competition with other nations; did we depend
only on the product of our own soil to support us, and the strength of
our own arms to defend us, without any intercourse with distant empire,
or any solicitude about foreign affairs, were the same measures
uniformly pursued, the government supported by the same revenues, and
administered with the same views, it might not be impracticable to
examine the conduct of affairs, both foreign and domestick, for twenty
years; because every year would afford only a transcript of the accounts
of the last.

But how different is the state of Britain, a nation whose traffick is
extended over the earth, whose revenues are every year different, or
differently applied, which is daily engaging in new treaties of
alliance, or forming new regulations of trade with almost every nation,
however distant, which has undertaken the arduous and intricate
employments of superintending the interests of all foreign empires, and
maintaining the equipoise of the French powers, which receives
ambassadors from all the neighbouring princes, and extends its regard to
the limits of the world.

In such a nation, every year produces negotiations of peace, or
preparations for war, new schemes and different measures, by which
expenses are sometimes increased, and sometimes retrenched. In such a
nation, every thing is in a state of perpetual vicissitude; because its
measures are seldom the effects of choice, but of necessity, arising
from the change of conduct in other powers.

Nor is the multiplicity and intricacy of our domestick affairs less
remarkable or particular. It is too well known that our debts are great,
and our taxes numerous; that our funds, appropriated to particular
purposes, are at some times deficient, and at others redundant; and that
therefore the money arising from the same imposts, is differently
applied in different years. To assert that this fluctuation produces
intricacy, may be imagined a censure of those to whose care our accounts
are committed; but surely it must be owned, that our accounts are made
necessarily less uniform and regular, and such as must require a longer
time for a complete examination.

Whoever shall set his foot in our offices, and observe the number of
papers with which the transactions of the last twenty years have filled
them, will not need any arguments against this motion. When he sees the
number of writings which such an inquiry will make necessary to be
perused, compared, and extracted, the accounts which must be examined
and opposed to others, the intelligence from foreign courts which must
be considered, and the estimates of domestick expenses which must be
discussed; he will own, that whoever is doomed to the task of this
inquiry, would be happy in exchanging his condition with that of the
miners of America; and that the most resolute industry, however excited
by ambition, or animated by patriotism, must sink under the weight of
endless labour.

If it be considered how many are employed in the publick offices, it
must be confessed, either that the national treasure is squandered in
salaries upon men who have no employment, or that twenty years may be
reasonably supposed to produce more papers than a committee can examine;
and, indeed, if the committee of inquiry be not more numerous than has
ever been appointed, it may be asserted, without exaggeration, that the
inquiry into our affairs for twenty years past, will not be accurately
performed in less than twenty years to come; in which time those whose
conduct is now supposed to have given the chief occasion to this motion,
may be expected to be removed for ever from the malice of calumny, and
the rage of persecution.

But if it should be imagined by those who, having never been engaged in
publick affairs, cannot properly judge of their intricacy and extent,
that such an inquiry is in reality so far from being impossible, that it
is only the work of a few months, and that the labour of it will be
amply recompensed by the discoveries which it will produce, let them but
so long suspend the gratification of their curiosity, as to consider the
nature of that demand by which they are about to satisfy it. A demand,
by which nothing less is required than that all the secrets of our
government should be made publick.

It is known in general to every man, whose employment or amusement it
has been to consider the state of the French kingdoms, that the last
twenty years have been a time not of war, but of negotiations; a period
crowned with projects, and machinations often more dangerous than
violence and invasions; and that these projects have been counteracted
by opposite schemes, that treaties have been defeated by treaties, and
one alliance overbalanced by another.

Such a train of transactions, in which almost every court of France has
been engaged, must have given occasion to many private conferences, and
secret negotiations; many designs must have been discovered by informers
who gave their intelligence at the hazard of their lives, and been
defeated, sometimes by secret stipulations, and sometimes by a judicious
distribution of money to those who presided in senates or councils.

Every man must immediately be convinced, that by the inquiry now
proposed, all these secrets will be brought to light; that one prince
will be informed of the treachery of his servants, and another see his
own cowardice or venality exposed to the world. It is plain, that the
channels of intelligence will be for ever stopped, and that no prince
will enter into private treaties with a monarch who is denied by the
constitution of his empire, the privilege of concealing his own
measures. It is evident, that our enemies may hereafter plot our ruin in
full security, and that our allies will no longer treat us with

Since, therefore, the inquiry now demanded is impossible, the motion
ought to be rejected, as it can have no other tendency than to expose
the senate and the nation to ridicule; and since, if it could be
performed, it would produce consequences fatal to our government, as it
would expose our most secret measures to our enemies, and weaken the
confidence of our allies. I hope every man who regards either his own
reputation, or that of the senate, or professes any solicitude for the
publick good, will oppose the motion.

Lord QUARENDON spoke to this effect:--Sir, I am always inclined to
suspect a man who endeavours rather to terrify than persuade.
Exaggerations and hyperboles are seldom made use of by him who has any
real arguments to produce. The reasonableness of this motion (of which I
was convinced when I first heard it, and of which, I believe, no man can
doubt who is not afraid of the inquiry proposed by it) is now, in my
opinion, evinced by, the weak opposition which has been made by the
honourable gentleman, to whose abilities I cannot deny this attestation,
that the cause which he cannot defend, has very little to hope from any
other advocate.

And surely he cannot, even by those who, whenever he speaks, stand
prepared to applaud him, be thought to have produced any formidable
argument against the inquiry, who has advanced little more than that it
is impossible to be performed.

Impossibility is a formidable sound to ignorance and cowardice; but
experience has often discovered, that it is only a sound uttered by
those who have nothing else to say; and courage readily surmounts those
obstacles that sink the lazy and timorous into despair.

That there are, indeed, impossibilities in nature, cannot be denied.
There may be schemes formed which no wise man will attempt to execute,
because he will know that they cannot succeed; but, surely, the
examination of arithmetical deductions, or the consideration of treaties
and conferences, cannot be admitted into the number of impossible
designs; unless, as it may sometimes happen, the treaties and
calculations are unintelligible.

The only difficulty that can arise, must be produced by the confusion
and perplexity of our publick transactions, the inconsistency of our
treaties, and the fallaciousness of our estimates; but I hope no man
will urge these as arguments against the motion. An inquiry ought to be
promoted, that confusion may be reduced to order, and that the
distribution of the publick money may be regulated. If the examination
be difficult, it ought to be speedily performed, because those
difficulties are daily increasing; if it be impossible, it ought to be
attempted, that those methods of forming calculations may be changed,
which make them impossible to be examined.

Mr. FOWKES replied in the manner following:--Sir, to treat with contempt
those arguments which cannot readily be answered, is the common practice
of disputants; but as it is contrary to that candour and ingenuity which
is inseparable from zeal for justice and love of truth, it always raises
a suspicion of private views, and of designs, which, however they may be
concealed by specious appearances, and vehement professions of integrity
and sincerity, tend in reality to the promotion of some secret interest,
or the gratification of some darling passion. It is reasonable to
imagine, that he, who in the examination of publick questions, calls in
the assistance of artifice and sophistry, is actuated rather by the rage
of persecution, than the ardour of patriotism; that he is pursuing an
enemy, rather than detecting a criminal; and that he declaims against
the abuse of power in another, only that he may more easily obtain it

In senatorial debates, I have often known this method of easy
confutation practised, sometimes with more success, and sometimes with
less. I have often known ridicule of use, when reason has been baffled,
and seen those affect to despise their opponents, who have been able to
produce nothing against them but artful allusions to past debates,
satirical insinuations of dependence, or hardy assertions unsupported by
proofs. By these arts I have known the young and unexperienced kept in
suspense; I have seen the cautious and diffident taught to doubt of the
plainest truths; and the bold and sanguine persuaded to join in the cry,
and hunt down reason, after the example of their leaders.

But a bolder attempt to disarm argument of its force, and to perplex the
understanding, has not often been made, than this which I am now
endeavouring to oppose. A motion has been made and seconded for an
inquiry, to which it is objected, not that it is illegal, not that it is
inconvenient, not that it is unnecessary, but that it is _impossible_.
An objection more formidable cannot, in my opinion, easily be made; nor
can it be imagined that those men would think any other worthy of an
attentive examination, who can pass over this as below their regard; yet
even this has produced no answer, but contemptuous raillery, and violent

What arguments these gentlemen require, it is not easy to conjecture; or
how those who disapprove their measures, may with any hope of success
dispute against them. Those impetuous spirits that break so easily
through the bars of impossibility, will scarcely suffer their career to
be stopped by any other restraint; and it may be reasonably feared, that
arguments from justice, or law, or policy, will have little force upon
these daring minds, who in the transports of their newly acquired
victory, trample impossibility under their feet, and imagine that to
those who have vanquished the ministry, every thing is practicable.

That this inquiry would be the work of years; that it will employ
greater numbers than were ever deputed by this house on such an occasion
before; that it would deprive the nation of the counsels of the wisest
and most experienced members of this house, (for such only ought to be
chosen,) at a time when all Europe is in arms, when our allies are
threatened not only with subjection, but annihilation; when the French
are reviving their ancient schemes, and projecting the conquest of the
continent; and that it will, therefore, interrupt our attention to more
important affairs, and disable us from rescuing our confederates, is
incontestably evident; nor can the wisest or the most experienced
determine how far its consequences may extend, or inform us, whether it
may not expose our commerce to be destroyed by the Spaniards, and the
liberties of all the nations round us to be infringed by the French;
whether it may not terminate in the loss of our independence, and the
destruction of our religion.

Such are the effects which may be expected from an attempt to make the
inquiry proposed; effects, to which no proportionate advantages can be
expected from it, since it has been already shown, that it can never be
completed; and to which, though the indefatigable industry of curiosity
or malice should at length break through all obstacles, and lay all the
transactions of twenty years open to the world, no discoveries would be

That any real discoveries of misconduct would be made, that the interest
of our country would be found ever to have been lazily neglected, or
treacherously betrayed, that any of our rights have been either yielded
by cowardice, or sold by avarice, or that our enemies have gained any
advantage over us by the connivance or ignorance of our ministers, I am
indeed very far from believing; but as I am now endeavouring to convince
those of the impropriety of this motion, who have long declared
themselves of a different opinion, it may not be improper to ask, what
advantage they propose by detecting errours of twenty years, which are
now irretrievable; of inquiring into fraudulent practices, of which the
authors and the agents are now probably in their graves; and exposing
measures, of which all the inconveniencies have been already felt, and
which have now ceased to affect us.

If it be wise to neglect our present interest for the sake of inquiring
into past miscarriages, and the inquiry now proposed be in itself
possible, I have no objections to the present motion; but as I think the
confused state of Europe demands our utmost attention, and the
prosecution of the war against Spain is in itself of far more importance
than the examination of all past transactions, I cannot but think, that
the duty which I owe to my country requires that I should declare myself
unwilling to concur in any proposal, that may unnecessarily divert our
thoughts or distract our councils.

Lord PERCIVAL then rose and spoke to the following purpose:--Sir, to
discourage good designs by representations of the danger of attempting,
and the difficulty of executing them, has been, at all times, the
practice of those whose interest has been threatened by them. A pirate
never fails to intimidate his pursuers by exaggerating the number and
resolution of his crew, the strength of his vessels, and the security of
his retreats. A cheat discourages a prosecution by dwelling upon his
knowledge of all the arts and subterfuges of the law, the steadiness of
his witnesses, and the experience of his agents.

To raise false terrours by artful appearances is part of the art of war,
nor can the general be denied praise, who by an artful disposition of a
small body, discourages those enemies from attacking him by whom he
would certainly be overcome; but then, surely the appearance ought to be
such as may reasonably be expected to deceive; for a stratagem too gross
only produces contempt and confidence, and adds the vexation of being
ridiculous to the calamity of being defeated.

Whether this will be the fate of the advocates for the ministry, I am
not able to determine; but surely they have forgot the resolution with
which their enemies bore up for many years against their superiority,
and the conduct by which at last they defeated the united influence of
power and money; if they hope to discourage them from an attack, by
representing the bulk and strength of their paper fortifications. They
have lost all memory of the excise and the convention, who can believe
their eloquence sufficiently powerful to evince, that the inquiry now
proposed ought to be numbered among impossibilities.

Whoever, sir, is acquainted with their methods of negotiation, will,
indeed, easily believe the papers sufficiently numerous, and the task of
examining them such as no man would willingly undertake; for it does not
appear for what end the immense sums which late senates have granted,
were expended, except for the payment of secretaries, and ministers, and
couriers. But whatever care has been employed to perplex every
transaction with useless circumstances, and to crowd every office with
needless papers, it will be long before they convince us, that it is
impossible to examine them. They may, doubtless, be in time perused,
though, perhaps, they can never be understood.

The utmost inconvenience, sir, that can be feared, is the necessity of
engaging a greater number of hands than on former occasions; and it will
be no disagreeable method to the publick, if we employ some of the
clerks which have been retained only for the sake of gratifying the
leaders of boroughs, or advancing the distant relations of the defenders
of the ministry, in unravelling those proceedings which they have been
hitherto hired only to embarrass, and in detecting some of those abuses
to which the will of their masters has made them instrumental; that they
may at last deserve, in some degree, the salaries which they have
enjoyed, may requite the publick for their part of its spoils, by
contributing to the punishment of the principal plunderers, and leave
their offices, of which I hope the number will be quickly diminished,
with the satisfaction of having deserved at last the thanks of their

By this expedient, sir, the inquiry will be made at least possible, and
I hope, though it should still remain difficult, those who have so long
struggled for the preservation of their country, and who have at last
seen their labours rewarded with success, will not be discouraged from
pursuing it.

The necessity of such an inquiry will grow every day more urgent;
because wicked men will be hardened in confidence of impunity, and the
difficulty, such as it is, will be increased by every delay; for what
now makes an inquiry difficult, or in the style of these mighty
politicians impossible, but the length of time that has elapsed since
the last exertion of this right of the senate, and the multitude of
transactions which are necessarily to be examined?

What is this year an irksome and tedious task, will in another year
require still more patience and labour; and though I cannot believe that
it will ever become impossible, it will undoubtedly in time be
sufficient to weary the most active industry, and to discourage the most
ardent zeal.

The chief argument, therefore, that has been hitherto employed to
discourage us from an inquiry, ought rather, in my opinion, to incite us
to it. We ought to remember, that while the enemies of our country are
fortifying themselves behind an endless multiplicity of negotiations and
accounts, every day adds new strength to their intrenchments, and that
we ought to force them while they are yet unable to resist or escape us.

Sir William YONGE then spoke to the following effect:--Sir, however I
may be convinced in my own opinion of the impracticability of the
inquiry now proposed, whatever confidence I may repose in the extensive
knowledge and long experience of those, by whom it has been openly
pronounced not only difficult but impossible, I think there are
arguments against the motion, which though, perhaps, not stronger in
themselves, (for what objection can be stronger than impossibility,)
ought at least more powerfully to incite us to oppose it.

Of the impossibility of executing this inquiry, those who have proposed
it well deserve to be convinced, not by arguments but experience; they
deserve not to be diverted by persuasions from engaging in a task, which
they have voluntarily determined to undergo; a task, which neither
honour, nor virtue, nor necessity has imposed upon them, and to which it
may justly be suspected, that they would not have submitted upon any
other motives, than those by which their conduct has hitherto been
generally directed, ambition and resentment.

Men who, upon such principles, condemn themselves to labours which they
cannot support, surely deserve to perish in the execution of their own
projects, to be overwhelmed by the burdens which they have laid upon
themselves, and to suffer the disgrace which always attends the
undertakers of impossibilities; and from which the powers of raillery
and ridicule, which they have so successfully displayed on this
occasion, will not be sufficient to defend them.

They have, indeed, sir, with great copiousness of language, and great
fertility of imagination, shown the weakness of supposing this inquiry
impossible; they have proposed a method of performing it, which they
hope will at once confute and irritate their opponents; but all their
raillery and all their arguments have in reality been thrown away upon
an attempt to confute what never was advanced. They have first mistaken
the assertion which they oppose, and then exposed its absurdity; they
have introduced a bugbear, and then attempted to signalize their courage
and their abilities, by showing that it cannot fright them.

The honourable gentleman, sir, who first mentioned to you the
impossibility of this inquiry, spoke only according to the common
acceptation of words, and was far from intending to imply natural and
philosophical impossibility. He was far from intending to insinuate,
that to examine any series of transactions, or peruse any number of
papers, implied an absurdity, or contrariety to the established order of
nature; he did not intend to rank this design with those of building in
the air, or pumping out the ocean; he intended only to assert a moral or
popular impossibility, to show that the scheme was not practicable but
by greater numbers than could be conveniently employed upon it, or in a
longer space of time than it was rational to assign to it; as we say it
is impossible to raise groves upon rocks, or build cities in deserts; by
which we mean only to imply, that there is no proportion between the
importance of the effect, and the force of the causes which must operate
to produce it; that the toil will be great, and the advantage little.

In this sense, sir, and nothing but malice or perverseness could have
discovered any other, the motion may be truly said to be impossible; but
its impossibility ought to be rather the care of those who make, than of
those that oppose it; and, therefore, I shall lay before the house other
reasons, which, unless they can be answered, will determine me to vote
against it.

It cannot be doubted, but the papers which must on this occasion be
examined, contain a great number of private transactions, which the
interest of the nation, and the honour of our sovereign require to be
concealed. The system of policy which the French have, within the last
century, introduced into the world, has made negotiation more necessary
than in any preceding time. What was formerly performed by fleets and
armies, by invasions, sieges, and battles, has been of late accomplished
by more silent methods. Empires have been enlarged without bloodshed,
and nations reduced to distress without the ravages of hostile armies,
by the diminution of their commerce, and the alienation of their allies.

For this reason, sir, it has been necessary frequently to engage in
private treaties, to obviate designs sometimes justly, and at other
times, perhaps, unreasonably suspected. It has been proper to act upon
remote suppositions, and to conclude alliances which were only to be
publickly owned, in consequence of measures taken by some other powers,
which measures were sometimes laid aside, and the treaty, therefore, was
without effect. In some of these provisionary contracts, it is easy to
conceive, that designs were formed not to the advantage of some powers,
whom yet we do not treat as enemies, which were only to be made publick
by the execution of them: in others, perhaps, some concessions were made
to us, in consideration of the assistance that we promised, by which the
weakness of our allies may be discovered, and which we cannot disclose
without making their enemies more insolent, and increasing that danger
from which they apply to us for security and protection.

If to this representation of the nature of the papers, with which our
offices have been filled by the negotiations of the last twenty years,
any thing were necessary to be added, it may be farther alleged, that it
has long been the practice of every nation on this side of the globe, to
procure private intelligence of the designs and expectations of the
neighbouring powers, to penetrate into the councils of princes and the
closets of ministers, to discover the instructions of ambassadours, and
the orders of generals, to learn the intention of fleets before they are
equipped, and of armies before they are levied, and to provide not only
against immediate and visible hostilities, but to obviate remote and
probable dangers.

It need not be declared in this assembly, that this cannot always be
done without employing men who abuse the confidence reposed in them, a
practice on which I shall not at this time trouble the house with my
opinion, nor interrupt the present debate, by any attempt to justify or
condemn it. This, I think, may be very reasonably alleged; that whether
the employment of such persons be defensible by the reciprocal practice
of nations, or not, it becomes at least those that corrupt them and pay
them for their treachery, not to expose them to vengeance, to torture,
or to ruin; not to betray those crimes which they have hired them to
commit, or give them up to punishment, to which they have made
themselves liable only by their instigation, and for their advantage.

That private compacts between nations and sovereigns ought to be kept
inviolably secret, cannot be doubted by any man who considers, that
secrecy is one of the conditions of those treaties, without which they
had not been concluded; and, therefore, that to discover them is to
violate them, to break down the securities of human society, to destroy
mutual trust, and introduce into the world universal confusion. For
nothing less can be produced by a disregard of those ties which link
nations in confederacies, and produce confidence and security, and which
enable the weak, by union, to resist the attacks of powerful ambition.

How much it would injure the honour of our sovereign to be charged with
the dissolution of concord, and the subversion of the general bulwarks
of publick faith, it is superfluous to explain. To know the condition to
which a compliance with this motion would reduce the British nation, we
need only turn our eyes downwards upon the hourly scenes of common life;
we need only attend to the occurrences which crowd perpetually upon our
view, and consider the calamitous state of that man, of whom it is
generally known that he cannot be trusted, and that secrets communicated
to him are in reality scattered among mankind.

Every one knows that such a man can expect none of the advantages or
pleasures of friendship, that he cannot transact affairs with others
upon terms of equality, that he must purchase the favours of those that
are more powerful than himself, and frighten those into compliance with
his designs who have any thing to fear from him; that he must give
uncommon security for the performance of his covenants, that he can have
no influence but that of money, which will probably become every day
less, that his success will multiply his enemies, and that in
misfortunes he will be without refuge.

The condition of nations collectively considered is not different from
that of private men, their prosperity is produced by the same conduct,
and their calamities drawn upon them by the same errours, negligences,
or crimes; and therefore, since he that betrays secrets in private life,
indisputably forfeits his claim to trust, and since he that can be no
longer trusted is on the brink of ruin, I cannot but conclude that, as
by this motion all the secrets of our government must be inevitably
betrayed, my duty to his majesty, my love of my country, and my
obligations to discharge with fidelity the trust which my constituents
have conferred upon me, oblige me to oppose it.

Mr. LITTLETON then rose, and spoke to this effect:--Sir, it always
portends well to those who dispute on the side of truth and reason, when
their opponents appear not wholly to be hardened against the force of
argument, when they seem desirous to gain the victory, not by
superiority of numbers but of reason, and attempt rather to convince,
than to terrify or bribe. For though men are not in quest of truth
themselves, nor desirous to point it out to others; yet, while they are
obliged to speak with an appearance of sincerity, they must necessarily
afford the unprejudiced and attentive an opportunity of discovering the
right. While they think themselves under a necessity of reasoning, they
cannot but show the force of a just argument, by the unsuccessfulness of
their endeavours to confute it, and the propriety of an useful and
salutary motion, by the slight objections which they raise against it.
They cannot but find themselves sometimes forced to discover what they
can never be expected to acknowledge, the weakness of their own reasons,
by deserting them when they are pressed with contrary assertions, and
seeking a subterfuge in new arguments equally inconclusive and
contemptible. They show the superiority of their opponents, like other
troops, by retreating before them, and forming one fortification behind
another, in hopes of wearying those whom they cannot hope to repulse.

Of this conduct we have had already an instance in the present debate; a
debate managed with such vigour, order, and resolution, as sufficiently
shows the advantage of regular discipline long continued, and proves,
that troops may retain their skill and spirit, even when they are
deprived of that leader, to whose instructions and example they were
indebted for them. When first this motion was offered, it seems to have
been their chief hope to divert us from it by outcries of impossibility,
by representing it as the demand of men unacquainted with the state of
our offices, or the multiplicity of transactions, in which the
indefatigable industry of our ministers has been employed; and they have
therefore endeavoured to persuade us, that they are only discouraging us
from an insuperable labour, and advising us to desist from measures
which we cannot live to accomplish.

But when they found, sir, that their exaggerations produced merriment
instead of terrour, that their opponents were determined to try their
strength against impossibility, that they were resolved to launch out
into this boundless ocean of inquiry; an ocean of which they have been
boldly told, that it has neither shore nor bottom, and that whoever
ventures into it must be tost about for life; when they discovered that
this was not able to shake our resolution, or move us to any other
disposition, they thought it proper to explain away their assertion of
impossibility, by making a kind of distinction between things
impossible, and things which cannot be performed; and finding it
necessary to enlarge their plea, they have now asserted, that this
inquiry is both impossible and inexpedient.

Its impossibility, sir, has been already sufficiently discussed, and
shown to mean only a difficulty which the unskilfulness of our ministers
has produced; for transactions can only produce difficulties to the
inquirer, when they are confused; and confusion can only be the effect
of ignorance or neglect.

Artifice is, indeed, one more source of perplexity: it is the interest
of that man whose cause is bad to speak unintelligibly in the defence of
it, and of him whose actions cannot bear to be examined, to hide them in
disorder, to engage his pursuers in a labyrinth, that they may not trace
his steps and discover his retreat; and what intricacies may be produced
by fraud cooperating with subtilty, it is not possible to tell.

I do not, however, believe, that all the art of wickedness can elude the
inquiries of a British senate, quickened by zeal for the publick
happiness. The sagacity of our predecessors has often detected crimes
concealed with more policy than can be ascribed to those whose conduct
is now to be examined, and dragged the authors of national calamities to
punishment from their darkest retreats. The expediency, therefore, of
this motion, is now to be considered, and surely it will not require
long reflection to prove that it is proper, when the nation is oppressed
with calamities, to inquire by what misconduct they were brought upon
it; when immense sums have been raised by the most oppressive methods of
exaction, to ask why they were demanded, and how they were expended;
when penal laws have been partially executed, to examine by what
authority they were suspended, and by what they were enforced; and when
the senate has for twenty years implicitly obeyed the direction of one
man, when it has been known throughout the nation, before any question
was proposed, how it would be decided, to search out the motive of that
regular compliance, and to examine whether the minister was reverenced
for his wisdom and virtue, or feared for his power, or courted for the
publick money; whether he owed his prevalence to the confidence or
corruption of his followers?

It cannot surely be thought inexpedient, to inquire into the reasons for
which our merchants were for many years suffered to be plundered, or for
which a war, solicited by the general voice of the whole nation, was
delayed; into the reasons for which our fleets were fitted out only to
coast upon the ocean, and connive at the departure of squadrons and the
transportation of armies, to suffer our allies to be invaded, and our
traders ruined and enslaved.

It is, in my opinion, convenient to examine with the utmost rigour, why
time was granted to our enemies to fortify themselves against us, while
a standing army preyed upon our people? Why forces unacquainted with the
use of arms were sent against them, under the command of leaders equally
ignorant? And why we have suffered their privateers in the mean time to
rove at large over the ocean, and insult us upon our own coasts? Why we
did not rescue our sailors from captivity, when opportunities of
exchange were in our power? And why we robbed our merchants of their
crews by rigorous impresses, without employing them either to guard our
trade, or subdue our enemies?

If the senate is not to be suffered to inquire into affairs like these,
it is no longer any security to the people, that they have the right of
electing representatives; and unless they may carry their inquiries back
as far as they shall think it necessary, the most acute sagacity may be
easily eluded; causes may be very remote from their consequences, the
original motives of a long train of wicked measures may lie hid in some
private transaction of former years, and those advantages which our
enemies have been of late suffered to obtain, were perhaps sold them at
some forgotten congress by some secret article.

Such are, probably, the private transactions which the honourable
gentleman is so much afraid of exposing to the light; transactions in
which the interest of this nation has been meanly yielded up by
cowardice, or sold by treachery; in which Britain has been considered as
a province subordinate to some other country, or in which the minister
has enriched himself by the sacrifice of the publick rights.

It has been, indeed, alleged with some degree of candour, that many of
our treaties were provisions against invasions which perhaps were never
intended, and calculated to defeat measures which only our own cowardice
disposed us to fear. That such treaties have, indeed, been made, Hanover
is a sufficient witness; but however frequently they may occur, they may
surely be discovered with very little disadvantage to the nation; they
will prove only the weakness of those that made them, who were at one
time intimidated by chimerical terrours, and at another, lulled into
confidence by airy security.

The concessions from foreign powers, which have been likewise mentioned,
ought surely not to be produced as arguments against the motion; for
what could more excite the curiosity of the nation, if, indeed, this
motion were in reality produced by malevolence or resentment; if none
were expected to concur in it but those who envied the abilities, or had
felt the power of the late minister, it might be, perhaps, defeated by
such insinuations; for nothing could more certainly regain his
reputation, or exalt him to more absolute authority, than proofs that he
had obtained for us any concessions from foreign powers.

If any advantageous terms have been granted us, he must be confessed to
have so far discharged his trust to his allies, that he has kept them
with the utmost caution from the knowledge of the people, who have
heard, during all his administration, of nothing but subsidies,
submission, and compliances paid to almost every prince on the continent
who has had the confidence to demand them; and if by this inquiry any
discovery to the disadvantage of our allies should be struck out, he may
with great sincerity allege, that it was made without his consent.

Another objection to this inquiry is, that the spies which are retained
in foreign courts may be detected by it, that the canals of our
intelligence will be for ever stopped, and that we shall henceforth have
no knowledge of the designs of foreign powers, but what may be honestly
attained by penetration and experience. Spies are, indeed, a generation
for whose security I have not much regard, but for whom I am on this
occasion less solicitous, as I believe very few of them will be affected
by this motion.

The conduct of our ministers has never discovered such an acquaintance
with the designs of neighbouring princes, as could be suspected to be
obtained by any uncommon methods, or they have very little improved the
opportunities which early information put into their power; for they
have always been baffled and deceived. Either they have employed no
spies, or their spies have been directed to elude them by false
intelligence, or true intelligence has been of no use; and if any of
these assertions be true, the publick will not suffer by the motion.

It was justly observed, by the honourable gentleman, that a parallel may
be properly drawn between a nation and a private man, and, by
consequence, between a trading nation and a trader. Let us, therefore,
consider what must be the state of that trader who shall never inspect
or state his accounts, who shall suffer his servants to traffick in the
dark with his stock, and on his credit, and who shall permit them to
transact bargains in his name, without inquiring whether they are
advantageous, or whether they are performed.

Every man immediately marks out a trader thus infatuated, as on the
brink of bankruptcy and ruin; every one will easily foresee, that his
servants will take advantage of his credulity, and proceed hourly to
grosser frauds; that they will grow rich by betraying his interest, that
they will neglect his affairs to promote their own, that they will
plunder him till he has nothing left, and seek then for employment among
those to whom they have recommended themselves by selling their trust.
His neighbours, who easily foresee his approaching misery, retire from
him by degrees, disunite their business from his, and leave him to fall,
without involving others in his ruin.

Such must be the fate of a trader whom idleness, or a blind confidence
in the integrity of others, hinders from attending to his own affairs,
unless he rouses from his slumber, and recovers from his infatuation.
And what is to be done by the man who, having for more than twenty years
neglected so necessary an employment, finds, what must necessarily be
found in much less time, his accounts perplexed, his credit depressed,
and his affairs disordered? What remains, but that he suffer that
disorder to proceed no farther, that he resolutely examine all the
transactions which he has hitherto overlooked, that he repair those
errours which are yet retrievable, and reduce his trade into method;
that he doom those servants, by whom he has been robbed or deceived, to
the punishment which they deserve, and recover from them that wealth
which they have accumulated by rapacity and fraud.

By this method only can the credit of the trader or the nation be
repaired, and this is the method which the motion recommends; a motion
with which, therefore, every man may be expected to comply, who desires
that his country should once more recover its influence and power, who
wishes to see Britain again courted and feared, and her monarch
considered as the arbiter of the world, the protector of the true
religion, and the defender of the liberties of mankind.

Mr. PHILLIPS spoke in substance as follows:--Sir, I am so far from
believing that there is danger of exposing the spies of the government
to the resentment of foreign princes, by complying with this motion,
that I suspect the opposition to be produced chiefly from a
consciousness, that no spies will be discovered to have been employed,
and that the secret service for which such large sums have been
required, will appear to have been rather for the service of domestick
than of foreign traitors, and to have been performed rather in this
house than in foreign courts.

Secret service has been long a term of great use to the ministers of
this nation; a term of art to which such uncommon efficacy has been
hitherto annexed, that the people have been influenced by it to pay
taxes, without expecting to be informed how they were applied, having
been content with being told, when they inquired after their properties,
that they were exhausted and dissipated in secret service.

Secret service I conceive to have originally implied transactions, of
which the agents were secret, though the effects were visible. When
MARLBOROUGH defeated the French, when he counteracted all their
stratagems, obviated all their designs, and deceived all their
expectations, he charged the nation with large sums for secret service,
which were, indeed, cheerfully allowed, because the importance and
reality of the service were apparent from its effects. But what
advantages can our ministers boast of having obtained in twenty years by
the means of their intelligence? Or by whom have they, within that
period, not been deceived by false appearances? When we purchase secret
service at so dear a rate, let it appear that we really obtain what we
pay for, though the means by which it is obtained are kept impenetrably
secret. Wherever the usefulness of the intelligence is not discoverable,
it is surely just to inquire, whether our money is not demanded for
other purposes, whether we are not in reality hiring with our own money
armies to enslave, or senators to betray us; or enriching an avaricious
minister, while we imagine ourselves contributing to the publick

Colonel CHOLMONDELEY replied to the following effect:--Sir, it has been
in all foregoing ages the custom for men to speak of the government with
reverence, even when they opposed its measures, or projected its
dissolution; nor has it been thought, in any time before our own, decent
or senatorial, to give way to satire or invective, or indulge a petulant
imagination, to endeavour to level all orders by contemptuous
reflections, or to court the populace, by echoing their language, or
adopting their sentiments.

This method of gaining the reputation of patriotism, has been unknown
till the present age, and reserved for the present leaders of the
people, who will have the honour to stand recorded as the original
authors of anarchy, the great subverters of order, and the first men who
dared to pronounce, that all the secrets of government ought to be made

It has been hitherto understood in all nations, that those who were
intrusted with authority, had likewise a claim to respect and
confidence; that they were chosen for the superiority of their
abilities, or the reputation of their virtue; and that, therefore, it
was reasonable to consign to their management, the direction of such
affairs as by their own nature require secrecy.

But this ancient doctrine, by which subordination has been so long
preserved, is now to be set aside for new principles, which may flatter
the pride, and incite the passions of the people; we are now to be told,
that affairs are only kept secret, because they will not bear
examination; that men conceal not those transactions in which they have
succeeded, but those in which they have failed; that they are only
inclined to hide their follies or their crimes, and that to examine
their conduct in the most open manner, is only to secure the interest of
the publick.

Thus has the nation been taught to expect, that the counsels of the
cabinet should be dispersed in the publick papers; that their governours
should declare the motives of their measures, and discover the demands
of our allies, and the scheme of our policy; and that the people should
be consulted upon every emergence, and enjoy the right of instructing
not only their own representatives, but the ministers of the crown.

In this debate, the mention of secret treaties has been received with
contempt and ridicule; the ministers have been upbraided with chimerical
fears, and unnecessary provisions against attacks which never were
designed; they have been alleged to have no other interest in view than
their own, when they endeavour to mislead inquirers, and to have in
reality nothing to keep from publick view but their own ignorance or

It cannot surely be seriously asserted by men of knowledge and
experience, that there are no designs formed by wise governments, of
which the success depends upon secrecy; nor can it be asserted, that the
inquiry now proposed will betray nothing from which our enemies may
receive advantage.

If we should suppose, that all our schemes are either fully
accomplished, or irretrievably defeated, it will not even then be
prudent to discover them, since they will enable our enemies to form
conjectures of the future from the past, and to obviate, hereafter, the
same designs, when it shall be thought necessary to resume them.

But, in reality, nothing is more irrational than to suppose this a safer
time than any other for such general discoveries; for why should it be
imagined, that our engagements are not still depending, and our treaties
yet in force? And what can be more dishonourable or imprudent, than to
destroy at once the whole scheme of foreign policy, to dissolve our
alliances, and destroy the effects of such long and such expensive
negotiations, without first examining whether they will be beneficial or
detrimental to us?

Nor is it only with respect to foreign affairs that secrecy is
necessary; there are, undoubtedly, many domestick transactions which it
is not proper to communicate to the whole nation. There is still a
faction among us, which openly desires the subversion of our present
establishment; a faction, indeed, not powerful, and which grows, I hope,
every day weaker, but which is favoured, or at least imagines itself
favoured, by those who have so long distinguished themselves by opposing
the measures of the government. Against these men, whose hopes are
revived by every commotion, who studiously heighten every subject of
discontent, and add their outcries to every clamour, it is not doubted
but measures are formed, by which their designs are discovered, and
their measures broken; nor can it be supposed, that this is done without
the assistance of some who are received with confidence amongst them,
and who probably pass for the most zealous of their party.

Many other domestick occasions of expense might be mentioned; of expense
which operates in private, and produces benefits which are only not
acknowledged, because they are not known, but which could no longer be
applied to the same useful purposes, if the channels through which it
passes were laid open. I cannot, therefore, forbear to offer my opinion,
that this motion, by which all the secrets of our government will be
discovered, will tend to the confusion of the present system of Europe,
to the absolute ruin of our interest in foreign courts, and to the
embarrassment of our domestick affairs. I cannot, therefore, conceive
how any advantages can be expected by the most eager persecutors of the
late ministry, which can, even in their opinion, deserve to be purchased
at so dear a rate.

Mr. PITT then spoke to the following purpose:--Sir, I know not by what
fatality the adversaries of the motion are impelled to assist their
adversaries, and contribute to their own overthrow, by suggesting,
whenever they attempt to oppose it, new arguments against themselves.

It has been long observed, that when men are drawing near to
destruction, they are apparently deprived of their understanding, and
contribute by their own folly to those calamities with which they are
threatened, but which might, by a different conduct, be sometimes
delayed. This has surely now happened to the veteran advocates for an
absolute and unaccountable ministry, who have discovered on this
occasion, by the weakness of their resistance, that their abilities are
declining; and I cannot but hope, that the omen will be fulfilled, and
that their infatuation will be quickly followed by their ruin.

To touch in this debate on our domestick affairs, to mention the
distribution of the publick money, and to discover their fears, lest the
ways in which it has been disbursed, should by this inquiry be
discovered; to recall to the minds of their opponents the immense sums
which have been annually demanded, and of which no account has been yet
given, is surely the lowest degree of weakness and imprudence.

I am so far from being convinced that any danger can arise from this
inquiry, that I believe the nation can only be injured by a long neglect
of such examinations; and that a minister is easily formidable, when he
has exempted himself by a kind of prescription from exposing his
accounts, and has long had an opportunity of employing the publick money
in multiplying his dependants, enriching his hirelings, enslaving
boroughs, and corrupting senates.

That those have been, in reality, the purposes for which the taxes of
many years have been squandered, is sufficiently apparent without an
inquiry. We have wasted sums with which the French, in pursuance of
their new scheme of increasing their influence, would have been able to
purchase the submission of half the nations of the earth, and with which
the monarchs of Europe might have been held dependant on a nod; these
they have wasted only to sink our country into disgrace, to heighten the
spirit of impotent enemies, to destroy our commerce, and distress our
colonies. We have patiently suffered, during a peace of twenty years,
those taxes to be extorted from us, by which a war might have been
supported against the most powerful nation, and have seen them ingulfed
in the boundless expenses of the government, without being able to
discover any other effect from them than the establishment of
ministerial tyranny.

There has, indeed, been among the followers of the court a regular
subordination, and exact obedience; nor has any man been found hardy
enough to reject the dictates of the grand vizier. Every man who has
received his pay, has with great cheerfulness complied with his
commands; and every man who has held any post or office under the crown,
has evidently considered himself as enlisted by the minister.

But the visible influence of places, however destructive to the
constitution, is not the chief motive of an inquiry; an inquiry implies
something secret, and is intended to discover the private methods of
extending dependence, and propagating corruption; the methods by which
the people have been influenced to choose those men for representatives
whose principles they detest, and whose conduct they condemn; and by
which those whom their country has chosen for the guardians of its
liberties, have been induced to support, in this house, measures, which
in every other place they have made no scruple to censure.

When we shall examine the distribution of the publick treasure, when we
shall inquire by what conduct we have been debarred from the honours of
war, and at the same time deprived of the blessings of peace, to what
causes it is to be imputed, that our debts have continued during the
long-continued tranquillity of Europe, nearly in the state to which they
were raised by fighting, at our own expense, the general quarrel of
mankind; and why the sinking fund, a kind of inviolable deposit
appropriated to the payment of our creditors, and the mitigation of our
taxes, has been from year to year diverted to very different uses; we
shall find that our treasure has been exhausted, not to humble foreign
enemies, or obviate domestick insurrections; not to support our allies,
or suppress our factions; but for ends which no man, who feels the love
of his country yet unextinguished, can name without horrour, the
purchase of alliances, and the hire of votes, the corruption of the
people, and the exaltation of France.

Such are the discoveries which I am not afraid to declare that I expect
from the inquiry, and therefore, I cannot but think it necessary. If
those to whom the administration of affairs has been for twenty years
committed, have betrayed their trust, if they have invaded the publick
rights with the publick treasure, and made use of the dignities which
their country has conferred upon them, only to enslave it, who will not
confess, that they ought to be delivered up to speedy justice? That they
ought to be set as landmarks to posterity, to warn those who shall
hereafter launch out on the ocean of affluence and power, not to be too
confident of a prosperous gale, but to remember, that there are rocks on
which whoever rushes must inevitably perish? If they are innocent, and
far be it from me to declare them guilty without examination, whom will
this inquiry injure? Or what effects will it produce, but that which
every man appears to desire, the reestablishment of the publick
tranquillity, a firm confidence in the justice and wisdom of the
government, and a general reconciliation of the people to the ministers.

Colonel MORDAUNT spoke then, in substance as follows:--Sir,
notwithstanding the zeal with which the honourable gentleman has urged
the necessity of this inquiry, a zeal of which, I think, it may at least
be said, that it is too vehement and acrimonious to be the mere result
of publick spirit, unmixed with interest or resentment; he has yet been
so far unsuccessful in his reasoning, that he has not produced in me any
conviction, or weakened any of the impressions which the arguments of
those whom he opposes had made upon me.

He has contented himself with recapitulating some of the benefits which
may be hoped for from the inquiry; he has represented in the strongest
terms, the supposed misconduct of the ministry; he has aggravated all
the appearances of wickedness or negligence, and then has inferred the
usefulness of a general inquiry for the punishment of past offences, and
the prevention of the like practices in future times.

That he has discovered great qualifications for invective, and that his
declamation was well calculated to inflame those who have already
determined their opinion, and who are, therefore, only restrained from
such measures as are now recommended by natural caution and sedateness,
I do not deny; but, surely he does not expect to gain proselytes by
assertions without proof, or to produce any alteration of sentiments,
without attempting to answer the arguments which have been offered
against his opinion.

It has been urged with great appearance of reason, that an inquiry, such
as is now proposed, with whatever prospects of vengeance, of justice, or
of advantage, it may flatter us at a distance, will be in reality
detrimental to the publick; because it will discover all the secrets of
our government, lay all our negotiations open to the world, will show
what powers we most fear, or most trust, and furnish our enemies with
means of defeating all our schemes, and counteracting all our measures.

This appears to me, sir, the chief argument against the motion, an
argument of which the force cannot but be discovered by those whose
interest it is to confute it, and of which, therefore, by appearing to
neglect it, they seem to confess that it is unanswerable; and therefore,
since I cannot find the motion justified otherwise than by loud
declarations of its propriety, and violent invectives against the
ministry, I hope that I shall escape at least the censure of the calm
and impartial, though I venture to declare, that I cannot approve it;
and with regard to the clamorous and the turbulent, I have long learned
to despise their menaces, because I have hitherto found them only the
boasts of impotence.

Mr. CORNWALL made answer to the following purport:--Sir, if to obtain
the important approbation of the gentleman that spoke last, it be
necessary only to answer the argument on which he has insisted, and
nothing be necessary to produce an inquiry but his approbation, I shall
not despair that this debate may be concluded according to the wishes of
the nation, that secret wickedness may be detected, and that our
posterity may be secured from any invasion of their liberty, by examples
of the vengeance of an injured people.

[The house divided.--The yeas went forth.--For the question, 242;
against it, 244: so that it passed in the negative, by a majority of


Debate On A Motion For Indemnifying Evidence Relating To The Conduct Of
The Earl Of ORFORD.

The following debate having been produced by an occasion very uncommon
and important, it is necessary to give an account of such transactions
as may contribute to illustrate it.

The prime minister being driven out of the house of commons, by the
prevalence of those who, from their opposition to the measures of the
court, were termed the country party, it was proposed that a committee
should be appointed, "to inquire into the conduct of publick affairs, at
home and abroad, during the last twenty years;" but the motion was

It was afterwards moved, "that a committee should be appointed to
inquire into the conduct of Robert, earl of ORFORD, during the last ten
years in which he was first commissioner of the treasury, and chancellor
and under treasurer of the exchequer," which was carried by 252 to 245.

A committee of one-and-twenty being chosen by ballot, and entering upon
the inquiry, called before them Mr. Gibbon, who declared himself agent
to J. Botteler, and said, that Botteler, being a candidate for Wendover,
and finding that no success was to be expected without five hundred
pounds, sent a friend to N. Paxton, with a letter, and that he saw him
return with a great number of papers, in which he said were bills for
five hundred pounds.

Botteler and his friend being examined, confirmed the testimony of
Gibbon; and Botteler added, that he sent to Paxton as an officer of the
treasury, acquainted with those who had the disposal of money; that his
claim to the favour which he asked arose from a disappointment in a
former election; that he never gave for the money any security or
acknowledgment, nor considered himself indebted for it to Paxton or any
other person.

Paxton being then examined, refused to return any answer to the question
of the committee, because the answer might tend to accuse himself. Which
reason was alleged by others for a like refusal.

The committee finding their inquiries eluded, by this plea for secrecy,
which the laws of Britain allow to be valid, reported to the commons the
obstacles that they met with; for the removal of which a bill was
brought in like that of indemnity; which, having passed the commons,
produced, in the house of lords, a debate, in which the greatest men of
each party exerted the utmost force of their reason and eloquence.

The bill being read a second time, and a motion made for its being
referred to a committee.

Lord CARTERET spoke to this effect:--My lords, as the question now
before us is of the highest importance both to the present age and to
posterity, as it may direct the proceedings of the courts of justice,
prescribe the course of publick inquiries, and, by consequence, affect
the property or life of every lord in this assembly; I hope it will be
debated amongst us without the acrimony which arises from the prejudice
of party, or the violence which is produced by the desire of victory,
and that the controversy will be animated by no other passion than zeal
for justice, and love of truth.

For my part, my lords, I have reason to believe, that many professions
of my sincerity will not be necessary on this occasion, because I shall
not be easily suspected of any partiality in favour of the noble lord to
whom this bill immediately relates. It is well known to your lordships
how freely I have censured his conduct, and how invariably I have
opposed those measures by which the nation has been so far exasperated,
that the bill, now under our consideration, has been thought necessary
by the commons, to pacify the general discontent, to restore the publick
tranquillity, and to recover that confidence in the government, without
which no happiness is to be expected, without which the best measures
will always be obstructed by the people, and the justest remonstrances
disregarded by the court.

But however laudable may be the end proposed by the commons, I cannot,
my lords, be so far dazzled by the prospect of obtaining it, as not to
examine the means to which we are invited to concur, and inquire with
that attention which the honour of sitting in this house has made my
duty, whether they are such as have been practised by our ancestors,
such as are prescribed by the law, or warranted by prudence.

The caution, my lords, with which our ancestors have always proceeded in
inquiries by which life or death, property or reputation, was
endangered; the certainty, or at least the high degree of probability,
which they required in evidence, to make it a sufficient ground of
conviction, is universally known; nor is it necessary to show their
opinion by particular examples, because, being no less solicitous for
the welfare of their posterity than for their own, they were careful to
record their sentiments in laws and statutes, and to prescribe, with the
strongest sanctions, to succeeding governments, what they had discovered
by their own reflections, or been taught by their predecessors.

They considered, my lords, not only how great was the hardship of being
unjustly condemned, but likewise how much a man might suffer by being
falsely accused; how much he might be harassed by a prosecution, and how
sensibly he might feel the disgrace of a trial. They knew that to be
charged with guilt implied some degree of reproach, and that it gave
room, at least, for an inference that the known conduct of the person
accused was such as made it probable that he was still more wicked than
he appeared; they knew that the credulity of some might admit the charge
upon evidence that was rejected by the court, and that difference of
party, or private quarrels, might provoke others to propagate reports
once published, even when in their own opinion they were sufficiently
confuted; and that, therefore, an innocent man might languish in infamy
by a groundless charge, though he should escape any legal penalty.

It has, therefore, my lords, been immemorially established in this
nation, that no man can be apprehended, or called into question for any
crime till there shall be proof.

First, that there is a _corpus delicti_, a crime really and visibly
committed; thus before a process can be issued out for inquiring after a
murderer, it must be apparent that a murder has been perpetrated, the
dead body must be exposed to a jury, and it must appear to them that he
died by violence. It is not sufficient that a man is lost, and that it
is probable that he is murdered, because no other reason of his absence
can be assigned; he must be found with the marks of force upon him, or
some circumstances that may make it credible, that he did not perish by
accident, or his own hand.

It is required, secondly, my lords, that he who apprehends any person as
guilty of the fact thus apparently committed, must suspect him to be the
criminal; for he is not to take an opportunity, afforded him by the
commission of an illegal act, to gratify any secret malice, or wanton
curiosity; or to drag to a solemn examination, those against whom he
cannot support an accusation.

And, my lords, that suspicion may not ravage the reputation of Britons
without control; that men may not give way to the mere suggestions of
malevolence, and load the characters of those with atrocious wickedness,
whom, perhaps, they have no real reason to believe more depraved than
the bulk of mankind, and whose failings may have been exaggerated in
their eyes by contrariety of opinion, or accidental competition, it is
required in the third place, my lords, that whoever apprehends or
molests another on suspicion of a crime, shall be able to give the
reasons of his suspicion, and to prove them by competent evidence.

These, my lords, are three essentials which the wisdom of our ancestors
has made indispensable previous to the arrest or imprisonment of the
meanest Briton; it must appear, that there is a crime committed, that
the person to be seized is suspected of having committed it, and that
the suspicion is founded upon probability. Requisites so reasonable in
their own nature, so necessary to the protection of every man's quiet
and reputation, and, by consequence, so useful to the security and
happiness of society, that, I suppose, they will need no support or
vindication. Every man is interested in the continuance of this method
of proceeding, because no man is secure from suffering by the
interruption or abolition of it.

Such, my lords, is the care and caution which the law directs in the
first part of any criminal process, the detainment of the person
supposed guilty; nor is the method of trial prescribed with less regard
to the security of innocence.

It is an established maxim, that no man can be obliged to accuse
himself, or to answer any questions which may have any tendency to
discover what the nature of his defence requires to be concealed. His
guilt must appear either by a voluntary and unconstrained confession,
which the terrours of conscience have sometimes extorted, and the
notoriety of the crime has at other times produced, or by the deposition
of such witnesses as the jury shall think worthy of belief.

To the credibility of any witness it is always requisite that he be
disinterested, that his own cause be not involved in that of the person
who stands at the bar, that he has no prospect of advancing his fortune,
clearing his reputation, or securing his life. For it is made too plain
by daily examples, that interest will prevail over the virtue of most
men, and that it is not safe to believe those who are strongly tempted
to deceive.

There are cases, my lords, where the interest of the person offering his
evidence is so apparent, that he is not even admitted to be heard; and
any benefit which may possibly be proposed, is admitted as an objection
to evidence, and weakens it in a measure proportionate to the distance
of the prospect and the degree of profit.

Such are the rules hitherto followed in criminal proceedings, the
violation of which has been always censured as cruelty and oppression,
and perhaps always been repented even by those who proposed and defended
it, when the commotions of party have subsided, and the heat of
opposition and resentment has given way to unprejudiced reflection.

Of these rules, my lords, it is not necessary to produce any defence
from the practice of distant nations, because it is sufficient in the
present case, that they are established by the constitution of this
country, to which every Briton has a right to appeal; for how can any
man defend his conduct, if having acted under one law, he is to be tried
by another?

Let us, therefore, my lords, apply these rules to the present bill, and
inquire what regard appears to have been paid to them by the commons,
and how well we shall observe them by concurring in their design.

With respect to the first, by which it is required, that there be a
known and manifest crime, it does not appear to have engaged the least
attention in the other house; for no fact is specified in the bill, upon
which a prosecution can be founded, and, therefore, to inquire after
evidence is somewhat preposterous; it is nothing less than to invite men
to give their opinion without a subject, and to answer without a

It may be urged, indeed, that there is a universal discontent over the
whole nation; that the clamour against the person mentioned in the bill,
has been continued for many years; that the influence of the nation is
impaired in foreign countries; that our treasury is exhausted; that our
liberties have been attacked, our properties invaded, and our morals
corrupted; but these are yet only rumours, without proof, and without
legal certainty; which may, indeed, with great propriety give occasion
to an inquiry, and, perhaps, by that inquiry some facts may be
ascertained which may afford sufficient reasons for farther procedure.

But such, my lords, is the form of the bill now before us, that if it
should pass into a statute, it would, in my opinion, put a stop to all
future inquiry, by making those incapable of giving evidence, who have
had most opportunities of knowing those transactions, which have given
the chief occasion of suspicion, and from whom, therefore, the most
important information must naturally be expected.

The first requisite qualification of a witness, whether we consult
natural equity and reason, or the common law of our own country, is
disinterestedness; an indifference, with regard to all outward
circumstances, about the event of the trial at which his testimony is
required. For he that is called as a witness where he is interested, is
in reality giving evidence in his own cause.

But this qualification, my lords, the bill now before us manifestly
takes away; for every man who shall appear against the person into whose
conduct the commons are inquiring, evidently promotes, in the highest
degree, his own interest by his evidence, as he may preclude all
examination of his own behaviour, and secure the possession of that
wealth which he has accumulated by fraud and oppression, or, perhaps,
preserve that life which the justice of the nation might take away.

Nothing, my lords, is more obvious, than that this offer of indemnity
may produce perjury and false accusation; nothing is more probable, than
that he who is conscious of any atrocious villanies, which he cannot
certainly secure from discovery, will snatch this opportunity of
committing one crime more, to set himself free from the dread of
punishment, and blot out his own guilt for ever, by charging lord ORFORD
as one of his accomplices.

It may be urged, my lords, that he who shall give false evidence,
forfeits the indemnity to which the honest witness is entitled; but let
us consider why this should be now, rather than in any former time,
accounted a sufficient security against falsehood and perjury. It is at
all times criminal, and at all times punishable, to commit perjury; and
yet it has been hitherto thought necessary, not only to deter it by
subsequent penalties, but to take away all previous temptations; no
man's oath will be admitted in his own cause, though offered at the
hazard of the punishment inflicted upon perjury. To offer indemnity to
invite evidence, and to deter them from false accusations by the
forfeiture of it, even though we should allow to the penal clause all
the efficacy which can be expected by those who proposed it, is only to
set one part of the bill at variance with the other, to erect and
demolish at the same time.

But it may be proved, my lords, that the reward will have more influence
than the penalty; and that every man who can reason upon the condition
in which he is placed by this bill, will be more incited to accuse lord
ORFORD, however unjustly, by the prospect of security, than intimidated
by the forfeiture incurred by perjury.

For, let us suppose, my lords, a man whose conduct exposes him to
punishment, and who knows that he shall not long be able to conceal it;
what can be more apparently his interest, than to contrive such an
accusation as may complicate his own wickedness with some transactions
of the person to whom this bill relates? He may, indeed, be possibly
confuted, and lose the benefit offered by the state; but the loss of it
will not place him in a condition more dangerous than that which he was
in before; he has already deserved all the severity to which perjury
will expose him, and by forging a bold and well-connected calumny, he
has at least a chance of escaping.

Let us suppose, my lords, that the bill now under our consideration,
assigned a pecuniary reward to any man who should appear against this
person, with a clause by which he that should accuse him falsely should
be dismissed without his pay; would not this appear a method of
prosecution contrary to law, and reason, and justice? Would not every
man immediately discover, that the witnesses were bribed, and therefore
they would deserve no credit? And what is the difference between the
advantage now offered and any other consideration, except that scarcely
any other reward can be offered so great, and consequently so likely to

It is to be remembered, that the patrons of this bill evidently call for
testimony from the abandoned and the profligate, from men whom they
suppose necessarily to confess their own crimes in their depositions;
and surely wretches like these ought not to be solicited to perjury by
the offer of a reward.

How cruel must all impartial spectators of the publick transactions
account a prosecution like this? What would be your lordships' judgment,
should you read, that in any distant age, or remote country, a man was
condemned upon the evidence of persons publickly hired to accuse him,
and who, by their own confession, were traitors to their country?

That wickedness, my lords, should be extirpated by severity, and justice
rigorously exercised upon publick offenders, is the uncontroverted
interest of every country; and therefore it is not to be doubted, that
in all ages the reflections of the wisest men have been employed upon
the most proper methods of detecting offences; and since the scheme now
proposed has never been practised, or never but by the most oppressive
tyrants, in the most flagitious times, it is evident, that it has been
thought inconsistent with equity, and of a tendency contrary to publick

I am very far, my lords, from desiring that any breach of national trust
should escape detection, or that a publick office should afford security
to bribery, extortion, or corruption. I am far from intending to
patronise the conduct of the person mentioned in the present bill. Let
the commons proceed with the utmost severity, but let them not deviate
from justice. If he has forfeited his fortune, his honours, or his life,
let them by a legal process be taken from him; but let it always be
considered, that he, like every other man, is to be allowed the common
methods of self-defence; that he is to stand or fall by the laws of his
country, and to retain the privileges of a Briton, till it shall appear
that he has forfeited them by his crimes.

To censure guilt, my lords, is undoubtedly necessary, and to inquire
into the conduct of men in power, incontestably just; but by the laws
both of heaven and earth, the means as well as the end are prescribed,
_rectum recte, legitimum legitime faciendum_; we must not only propose a
good end in our conduct, but must attain it by that method which equity
directs, and the law prescribes.

How well, my lords, the law has been observed hitherto, on this
occasion, I cannot but propose that your lordships should consider. It
is well known, that the commons cannot claim a right to administer an
oath, and therefore can only examine witnesses by simple
interrogatories. That they cannot confer upon a committee the power
which they have not themselves, is indubitably certain; and therefore it
is evident, that they have exceeded their privileges, and proceeded in
their inquiry by methods which the laws of this nation will not support.

That they cannot, my lords, in their own right administer an oath, they
apparently confess, by the practice of calling in, on that occasion, a
justice of the peace, who, as soon as he has performed his office, is
expected to retire. This, my lords, is an evident elusion; for it is
always intended, that he who gives an oath, gives it in consequence of
his right to take the examination; but in this case the witness takes an
oath, _coram non judice_, before a magistrate that has no power to
interrogate him, and is interrogated by those who have no right to
require his oath.

Such, my lords, is my opinion of the conduct of the committee of the
house of commons, of whom I cannot but conclude that they have assumed a
right which the constitution of our government confers only on your
lordships, as a house of senate, a court of judicature; and therefore
cannot think it prudent to confirm their proceedings by an approbation
of this bill.

The commons may indeed imagine that the present state of affairs makes
it necessary to proceed by extraordinary methods; they may believe that
the nation will not be satisfied without a discovery of those frauds
which have been so long practised, and the punishment of those men by
whom they have so long thought themselves betrayed and oppressed; but
let us consider, that clamour is not evidence, and that we ought not
either to recede from justice, or from our own rights, to satisfy the
expectations of the people.

To remonstrate against this invasion of our privileges, my lords, might
be at this juncture improper; the dispute might, in this time of
commotion and vicissitude, distract the attention of those to whom the
publick affairs are committed, retard the business of the nation, and
give our enemies those advantages which they can never hope from their
own courage, or policy, or strength. It may, therefore, be prudent on
this occasion, only not to admit the right which they have assumed, to
satisfy ourselves with retaining our privileges, without requiring any
farther confirmation of them, and only defeat the invasion of them by
rejecting the bill, which is, indeed, of such a kind, as cannot be
confirmed without hazarding not only our own rights, but those of every

For here is a species of testimony invited, which is hitherto unknown to
our law, and from which it may be difficult to tell who can be secure;
the witnesses are required to disclose all matters relating to the
conduct of _lord ORFORD, according to the best of their knowledge,
remembrance, or belief!_ A form of deposition, my lords, of great
latitude; a man's belief may be influenced by the report of others who
may deceive him, by his observation of circumstances, either remote in
themselves, or imperfectly discovered, or by his own reasonings, which
must be just or fallacious according to his abilities; but which must
yet have the same effect upon his belief, which they will influence, not
in proportion to their real strength, but to the confidence placed in
them by himself.

There is only one case, my lords, in which, by the common course of
proceedings, any regard is had to mere belief; and this evidence is only
accepted on that occasion, because no other can possibly be obtained.
When any claim is to be determined by written evidences, of which, in
order to prove their validity, it is necessary to inquire by whom they
were drawn or signed; those who are acquainted with the writing of a
dead person, are admitted to deliver, upon oath, their _belief_ that the
writing ascribed to him, was or was not his; but such secondary
witnesses are never called, when the person can be produced whose hand
is to be proved.

There is yet another reason for which it is improper to admit such
evidence as this bill has a tendency to promote. It is well known, that
in all the courts of common law, the person accused is in some degree
secured from the danger of being overborne by false accusations, by the
penalty which may be inflicted upon witnesses discovered to be perjured;
but in the method of examination now proposed, a method unknown to the
constitution, no such security can be obtained, for there is no
provision made by the laws for the punishment of a man who shall give
false evidence before a committee of the house of commons.

It may likewise be observed, that this bill wants one of the most
essential properties of a law, perspicuity and determinate meaning; here
is an indemnity promised to those who shall discover _all_ that they
_know, remember, or believe_. A very extensive demand, and which may,
therefore, be liable to more fallacies and evasions than can be
immediately enumerated or detected. For how can any one prove that he
has a claim to the indemnity? He may, indeed, make some discoveries, but
whether he does not conceal something, who can determine? May not such
reserves be suspected, when his answers shall not satisfy the
expectations of his interrogators? And may not that suspicion deprive
him of the benefit of the act? May not a man, from want of memory, or
presence of mind, omit something at his examination which he may appear
afterwards to have known? And since no human being has the power of
distinguishing exactly between faults and frailties, may not the defect
of his memory be charged on him as a criminal suppression of a known
fact? And may not he be left to suffer the consequences of his own
confession? Will not the bill give an apparent opportunity for
partiality? And will not life and death, liberty and imprisonment, be
placed in the hands of a committee of the commons? May they not be
easily satisfied with informations of one man, and incessantly press
another to farther discoveries? May they not call some men, notoriously
criminal, to examination, only to secure them from punishment, and set
them out of the reach of justice; and extort from others such answers as
may best promote their views, by declaring themselves unsatisfied with
the extent of their testimony? And will not this be an extortion of
evidence equivalent to the methods practised in the most despotick
governments, and the most barbarous nations?

It has always been the praise of this house to pay an equal regard to
justice and to mercy, and to follow, without partiality, the direction
of reason, and the light of truth; and how consistently with this
character, which it ought to be our highest ambition to maintain, we can
ratify the present bill, your lordships are this day to consider. It is
to be inquired, whether to suppose a man guilty, only because some guilt
is suspected, be agreeable to justice; and whether it be rational before
there is any proof of a crime, to point out the criminal.

We are to consider, my lords, whether it is not unjust to hear, against
any man, an evidence who is hired to accuse him, and hired with a reward
which he cannot receive without confessing himself a man unworthy of
belief. It is to be inquired, whether the evidence of a man who declares
only what he _believes_, ought to be admitted, when the nature of the
crimes allows stronger proof; and whether any man ought to be examined
where he cannot be punished if he be found perjured.

A natural and just regard to our own rights, on the preservation of
which the continuance of the constitution must depend, ought to, alarm
us at the appearance of any attempt to invade them; and the necessity of
known forms of justice, ought to incite us to the prevention of any
innovation in the methods of prosecuting offenders.

For my own part, my lords, I cannot approve either the principles or
form of the bill. I think it necessary to proceed by known precedents,
when there is no immediate danger that requires extraordinary measures,
of which I am far from being convinced that they are necessary on the
present occasion. I think that the certainty of a crime ought to precede
the prosecution of a criminal, and I see that there is, in the present
case, no crime attempted to be proved. The commons have, in my opinion,
already exceeded their privileges, and I would not willingly confirm
their new claims. For these reasons, my lords, I openly declare, that I
cannot agree to the bill's being read a second time.

Lord TALBOT spoke next, to this effect:--My lords, so high is my
veneration for this great assembly, that it is never without the utmost
efforts of resolution that I can prevail upon myself to give my
sentiments upon any question that is the subject of debate, however
strong may be my conviction, or however ardent my zeal.

But in a very particular degree do I distrust my own abilities, when I
find my opinion contrary to that of the noble lord who has now spoken;
and it is no common perplexity to be reduced to the difficult choice of
either suppressing my thoughts, or exposing them to so disadvantageous a

Yet, since such is my present state, that I cannot avoid a declaration
of my thoughts on this question, without being condemned in my own
breast as a deserter of my country, nor utter them without the danger of
becoming contemptible in the eyes of your lordships; I will, however,
follow my conscience, rather than my interest; and though I should lose
any part of my little reputation, I shall find an ample recompense from
the consciousness that I lost it in the discharge of my duty, on an
occasion which requires from every good man the hazard of his life.

The arguments of the noble lord have had upon me an effect which they
never, perhaps, produced on any part of his audience before; they have
confirmed me in the contrary opinion to that which he has endeavoured to
maintain. It has been remarked, that in some encounters, not to be put
to flight is to obtain the victory; and, in a controversy with the noble
lord, not to be convinced by him, is to receive a sufficient proof that
the cause in which he is engaged is not to be defended by wit,
eloquence, or learning.

On the present question, my lords, as on all others, he has produced all
that can be urged, either from the knowledge of past ages, or experience
of the present; all that the scholar or the statesman can supply has
been accumulated, one argument has been added to another, and all the
powers of a great capacity have been employed, only to show that right
and wrong cannot be confounded, and that fallacy can never strike with
the force of truth.

When I survey the arguments of the noble lord, disrobed of those
ornaments which his imagination has so liberally bestowed upon them, I
am surprised at the momentary effect which they had upon my mind, and
which they could not have produced had they been clothed in the language
of any other person.

For when I recollect, singly, the particular positions upon which his
opinion seems to be founded, I do not find them by any means
uncontrovertible; some of them seem at best uncertain, and some
evidently mistaken.

That there is no apparent crime committed, and that, therefore, no legal
inquiry can be made after the criminal, I cannot hear without
astonishment. Is our commerce ruined, are our troops destroyed, are the
morals of the people vitiated, is the senate crowded with dependants,
are our fleets disarmed, our allies betrayed, and our enemies supported
without a crime? Was there no certainty of any crime committed, when it
was moved to petition his majesty to dismiss this person from his
councils for ever.

It has been observed, my lords, that nothing but a sight of the dead
body can warrant a pursuit after the murderer; but this is a concession
sufficient for the present purpose; for if, upon the sight of a murdered
person, the murderer may lawfully be inquired after, and those who are
reasonably suspected detained and examined; with equal reason, my lords,
may the survey of a ruined nation, a nation oppressed with burdensome
taxes, devoured by the caterpillars of a standing army, sunk into
contempt in every foreign court, and repining at the daily decay of its
commerce, and the daily multiplication of its oppressors, incite us to
an inquiry after the author of its miseries.

It is asserted, that no man ought to be called into question for any
crime, who is not suspected of having committed it. This, my lords, is a
rule not only reasonable in itself, but so naturally observed, that I
believe it was never yet broken; and am certain, no man will be charged
with the violation of it, for accusing this person as an enemy to his

But he that declares his suspicion, may be called upon to discover upon
what facts it is founded; nor will this part of the law produce any
difficulty in the present case; for as every man in the nation suspects
this person of the most enormous crimes, every man can produce
sufficient arguments to justify his opinion.

On all other occasions, my lords, publick fame is allowed some weight:
that any man is universally accounted wicked, will add strength to the
testimony brought against him for any particular offence; and it is at
least a sufficient reason for calling any man to examination, that a
crime is committed, and he is generally reported to be the author of it.

That this is the state of the person into whose conduct the commons are
now inquiring; that he is censured by every man in the kingdom, whose
sentiments are not repressed by visible influence; that he has no
friends but those who have sold their integrity for the plunder of the
publick; and that all who are not enemies to their country, have, for
many years, incessantly struggled to drag him down from the pinnacle of
power, and expose him to that punishment which he has so long deserved,
and so long defied, is evident beyond contradiction.

Let it not, therefore, be urged, my lords, that there is no certainty of
a crime which is proved to the conviction of every honest mind; let it
not be said that it is unreasonable to suspect this man, whom the voice
of the people, a voice always to be reverenced, has so long condemned.

The method of procuring evidence against him by an act of indemnity has
been represented by the noble lord as not agreeable to justice or to
law: in the knowledge of the law I am far from imagining myself able to
contend with him; but I think it may not be improper to observe, that a
person of the highest eminence in that profession, whose long study and
great abilities give his decisions an uncommon claim to authority and
veneration, and who was always considered in this house with the highest
regard, appears to have entertained a very different opinion.

It was declared by him, without the least restriction, that all means
were lawful which tended to the discovery of truth; and, therefore, the
publick may justly expect that extraordinary methods should be used upon
occasions of uncommon importance.

Nor does this expedient appear to me very remote from the daily practice
of promising pardon to thieves, on condition that they will make
discoveries by which their confederates may be brought to justice.

If we examine only the equity of this procedure, without regard to the
examples of former times, it appears to me easily defensible; for what
can be more rational than to break a confederacy of wretches combined
for the destruction of the happiness of mankind, by dividing their
interest, and making use, for the publick good, of that regard for their
own safety, which has swallowed up every other principle of action?

It is admitted that wickedness ought to be punished, and it is
universally known that punishment must be preceded by detection; any
method, therefore, that promotes the discovery of crimes may be
considered as advantageous to the publick.

As there is no wickedness of which the pernicious consequences are more
extensive, there is none which ought more diligently to be prevented, or
more severely punished, than that of those men who have dared to abuse
the power which their country has put into their hands; but how they can
be convicted by any other means than those which are now proposed, I
confess myself unable to discover; for by a very small degree of
artifice, a man invested with power may make every witness a partner of
his guilt, and no man will be able to accuse him, without betraying
himself. In the present case it is evident, that the person of whose
actions the bill now before us is designed to produce a more perfect
discovery, has been combined with others in illegal measures, in
measures which their own security obliges them to conceal, and which,
therefore, the interest of the publick demands to be divulged.

That Paxton has distributed large sums for purposes which he dares not
discover, we are informed by the reports of the secret committee; and I
suppose every body suspects that they were distributed as rewards for
services which the nation thinks not very meritorious, and I believe no
man will ask what reason can be alleged for such suspicions.

But since it may be possibly suggested that Paxton expended these sums
contrary to his master's direction, or without his knowledge, it may be
demanded, whether such an assertion would not be an apparent proof of a
very criminal degree of negligence in a man intrusted with the care of
the publick treasure?

Thus, my lords, it appears in my opinion evident, that either he has
concurred in measures which his servile agent, the mercenary tool of
wickedness, is afraid to confess, or that he has stood by, negligent of
his trust, and suffered the treasure of the nation to be squandered by
the meanest wretches without account.

That the latter part of the accusation is undoubtedly just, the report
of the commons cannot but convince us. It appears that for near eight
years, Paxton was so high in confidence, that no account was demanded
from him; he bestowed pensions at pleasure; he was surrounded, like his
master, by his idolaters; and after the fatigue of cringing in one
place, had an opportunity of purchasing the taxes of the nation, the
gratification of tyranny in another.

I presume, my lords, that no man dares assert such a flagrant neglect of
so important an office, to be not criminal in a very high degree; to
steal in private houses that which is received in trust, is felony by
the statutes of our country; and surely the wealth of the publick ought
not to be less secured than that of individuals, nor ought he that
connives at robbery to be treated with more lenity than the robber.

Therefore, my lords, as I cannot but approve of the bill, I move that it
may be read a second time; and I hope the reasons which I have offered,
when joined with others, which I expect to hear from lords of a greater
experience, knowledge, and capacity, will induce your lordships to be of
the same opinion.

Lord HERVEY spoke next, to this effect:--My lords, as the bill now
before us is of a new kind, upon an occasion no less new, I have
endeavoured to bestow upon it a proportionate degree of attention, and
have considered it in all the lights in which I could place it; I have,
in my imagination, connected with it all the circumstances with which it
is accompanied, and all the consequences that it may produce either to
the present age, or to futurity; but the longer I reflect upon it, the
more firmly am I determined to oppose it; nor has deliberation any other
effect, than to crowd my thoughts with new arguments against it, and to
heighten dislike to detestation.

It must, my lords, immediately occur to every man, at the first mention
of the method of proceeding now proposed, that it is such as nothing but
extreme necessity can vindicate; that the noble person against whom it
is contrived, must be a monster burdensome to the world; that his crimes
must be at once publick and enormous, and that he has been already
condemned by all maxims of justice, though he has had the subtilty to
escape by some unforeseen defect in the forms of law. It might be
imagined, my lords, that there were the most evident marks of guilt in
the conduct of the man thus censured, that he fled from the justice of
his country, that he had openly suborned witnesses in his favour, or
had, by some artifice certainly known, obstructed the evidence that was
to have been brought against him. It might at least be reasonably
conceived, that his crimes were of such a kind as might in their own
nature easily be concealed, and that, therefore, some extraordinary
measures were necessary for the discovery of wickedness which lay out of
the reach of common inquiry.

But, my lords, none of these circumstances can be now alleged; for there
is no certainty of any crime committed, nor any appearance of
consciousness or fear in the person accused, who sets his enemies at
defiance in full security, and declines no legal trial of his past
actions; of which it ought to be observed, that they have, by the nature
of his employments, been so publick, that they may easily be examined
without recourse to a new law to facilitate discoveries.

The bill, therefore, is, my lords, at least unnecessary, and an
innovation not necessary ought always to be rejected, because no man can
foresee all the consequences of new measures, or can know what evils
they may create, or what subsequent changes they may introduce. The
alteration of one part of a system naturally requires the alteration of

But, my lords, that there is no necessity for this law now proposed, is
not the strongest argument that may be brought against it, for there is
in reality a necessity that it should be rejected. Justice and humanity
are necessarily to be supported, without which no society can subsist,
nor the life or property of any man be enjoyed with security: and
neither justice nor humanity can truly be said to reside, where a law
like this has met with approbation.

My lords, to prosecute any man by such methods, is to overbear him by
the violence of power, to take from him all the securities of innocence,
and divest him of all the means of self-defence. It is to hire against
him those whose testimonies ought not to be admitted, if they were
voluntarily produced, and of which, surely, nothing will be farther
necessary to annihilate the validity, than to observe that they are the
depositions of men who are villains by their own confession, and of whom
the nation sees, that they may save their lives by a bold accusation,
whether true or false.

That the bill will, indeed, be effectual to the purposes designed, that
it will crowd the courts of justice with evidence, and open scenes of
wickedness never discovered before, I can readily believe; for I cannot
imagine that any man who has exposed his life by any flagrant crime,
will miss so fair an opportunity of saving it by another. I shall
expect, my lords, that villains of all denominations, who are now
skulking in private retreats, who are eluding the officers of justice,
or flying before the publick pursuit of the country, will secure
themselves by this easy expedient; and that housebreakers, highwaymen,
and pickpockets, will come up in crowds to the bar, charge the earl of
ORFORD as their accomplice, and plead this bill as a security against
all inquiry.

That this supposition, however wild and exaggerated it may seem, may not
be thought altogether chimerical; that it may appear with how little
consideration this bill has been drawn, and how easily it may be
perverted to the patronage of wickedness, I will lay before your
lordships such a plea as may probably be produced by it.

A man whom the consciousness of murder has for some time kept in
continual terrours, may clear himself for ever, by alleging, that he was
commissioned by the earl of ORFORD to engage, with any certain sum, the
vote or interest of the murdered person; that he took the opportunity of
a solitary place to offer him the bribe, and prevail upon him to comply
with his proposals; but that finding him obstinate and perverse, filled
with prejudices against a wise and just administration, and inclined to
obstruct the measures of the government, he for some time expostulated
with him; and being provoked by his contumelious representations of the
state of affairs, he could no longer restrain the ardour of his loyalty,
but thought it proper to remove from the world a man so much inclined to
spread sedition among the people; and that, therefore, finding the place
convenient, he suddenly rushed upon him and cut his throat.

Thus, my lords, might the murderer represent his case, perhaps, without
any possibility of a legal confutation; thus might the most atrocious
villanies escape censure, by the assistance of impudence and cunning.

A bill like this, my lords, is nothing less than a proscription; the
head of a citizen is apparently set to sale, and evidence is hired, by
which the innocent and the guilty may be destroyed with equal facility.

It is apparent, my lords, that they by whom this bill is proposed, act
upon the supposition that the noble person mentioned in it, is guilty of
all those crimes of which he is suspected; a supposition, my lords,
which it is unjust to make, and to which neither reason, nor the laws of
our country, will give countenance or support.

I, my lords, will much more equitably suppose him innocent; I will
suppose that he has, throughout all the years of his administration,
steadily prosecuted the best ends, by the best means; that if he has
sometimes been mistaken or disappointed, it has been neither by his
negligence nor ignorance, but by false intelligence, or accidents not to
be foreseen; and that he has never either sacrificed his country to
private interest, or procured, by any illegal methods, the assistance
and support of the legislature; and I will ask your lordships, whether,
if this character be just, the bill ought to be passed, and doubt not
but every man's conscience will inform him, that it ought to be rejected
with the utmost indignation.

The reason, my lords, for which it ought to be rejected, is evidently
this, that it may bring innocence into danger. But, my lords, every man
before his trial is to be supposed innocent, and, therefore, no man
ought to be exposed to the hazards of a trial, by which virtue and
wickedness are reduced to a level. A bill like this ought to be marked
out as the utmost effort of malice, as a species of cruelty never known
before, and as a method of prosecution which this house has censured.

I did not, indeed, expect from those who have so long clamoured with
incessant vehemence against the measures of the ministry, such an open
confession of their own weakness. Nothing, my lords, was so frequently
urged, or so warmly exaggerated, as the impossibility of procuring
evidence against a man in power; nothing was more confidently asserted,
than that his guilt would be easily proved when his authority was at an
end; and that even his own agents would readily detect him, when they
were no longer dependant upon his favour.

The time, my lords, so long expected, and so ardently desired, is at
length come; this noble person whom they have so long pursued with
declamations, invectives, and general reproaches, has at length resigned
those offices which set him above punishment or trial; he is now without
any other security than that by which every other man is sheltered from
oppression, the publick protection of the laws of his country; but he is
yet found impregnable, he is yet able to set his enemies at defiance;
and they have, therefore, now, with great sagacity, contrived a method
by which he may be divested of the common privileges of a social being,
and may be hunted like a wild beast, without defence, and without pity.

Where, my lords, can it be expected that malice like this will find an
end? Is it not reasonable to imagine that if they should be gratified in
this demand, and should find even this expedient baffled by the
abilities which they have so often encountered without success, they
would proceed to measures yet more atrocious, and punish him without
evidence, whom they call to a trial without a crime.

It has been observed by the noble lord who spoke last, that there are
crimes mentioned in the report of the secret committee of the house of
commons, or that at least such facts are asserted in it, that an
accusation may, by easy deductions, be formed from them. The report of
that committee, my lords, with whatever veneration it may be mentioned,
by those whose purposes it happens to favour, or of whatever importance
it may be in the other house, is here nothing but a pamphlet, not to be
regarded as an evidence, or quoted as a writing of authority. It is only
an account of facts of which we know not how they were collected, and
which every one may admit or reject at his own choice, till they are
ascertained by proper evidence at our own bar, and which, therefore,
ought not to influence our opinion in the present debate.

Nor is the bill, my lords, only founded upon principles inconsistent
with the constitution of this nation, apparently tending to the
introduction of a new species of oppression, but is in itself such as
cannot be ratified without injury to the honour of this great assembly.

In examining the bill, my lords, I think it not necessary to dwell upon
the more minute and trivial defects of the orthography and expression,
though they are such as might justly give occasion for suspecting that
they by whom it was written, were no less strangers to our language than
to our constitution. There are errours or falsehoods which it more
nearly concerns us to detect, and to which we cannot give any sanction,
without an evident diminution of our own authority.

It declares, my lords, that there is now an inquiry depending before the
senate, an assertion evidently false, for the inquiry is only before the
commons. Whether this was inserted by mistake or design, whether it was
intended to insinuate that the whole senatorial power was comprised in
the house of commons, or to persuade the nation that your lordships
concurred with them in this inquiry, it is not possible to determine;
but since it is false in either sense, it ought not to receive our

If we should pass the bill in its present state, we should not only
declare our approbation of the measures hitherto pursued by the commons,
by which it has been already proved, by the noble and learned lord who
spoke first against the bill, that they have not only violated the law,
but invaded the privileges of this house. We should not only establish
for ever in a committee of the house of commons, the power of examining
upon oath, by an elusive and equivocatory expedient, but we should in
effect vote away our own existence, give up at once all authority in the
government, and grant them an unlimited power, by acknowledging them the
senate, an acknowledgment which might, in a very short time, be quoted
against us, and from which it would not be easy for us to extricate

It has, indeed, been remarked, that there is a large sum of money
disbursed without account, and the publick is represented as apparently
injured, either by fraud or negligence; but it is not remembered that
none but his majesty has a right to inquire into the distribution of the
revenue appropriated to the support of his family and dignity, and the
payment of his servants, and which, therefore, cannot, in any degree, be
called publick money, or fall under the cognizance of those whom it
concerns to inspect the national accounts. Either the civil list must be
exempt from inquiries, or his majesty must be reduced to a state below
that of the meanest of his subjects; he can enjoy neither freedom nor
property, and must be debarred for ever from those blessings which he is
incessantly labouring to secure to others.

There is, likewise, another consideration, which my regard for the
honour of this assembly suggested to me, and of which I doubt not but
that all your lordships will allow the importance. The noble person who
is pointed out in this bill as a publick criminal, and whom all the
villains of the kingdom are invited to accuse, is invested with the same
honours as ourselves, and has a son who has for many years possessed a
seat amongst us; let us not, therefore, concur with the commons to load
our own house with infamy, and to propagate reproach, which will at last
fix upon ourselves.

Innumerable are the objections, my lords, which might yet be urged, and
urged without any possibility of reply; but as I have already been heard
with so much patience, I think what has been already mentioned
sufficient to determine the question: and as I doubt not but the other
defects and absurdities will be observed, if it be necessary, by some
other lords, I shall presume only to add, that as the bill appears to me
contrary to the laws of this nation, to the common justice of society,
and to the general reason of mankind, as it must naturally establish a
precedent of oppression, and confirm a species of authority in the other
house which was either never claimed before, or always denied; as I
think the most notorious and publick criminal ought not to be deprived
of that method of defence which the established customs of our country
allow him, and believe the person mentioned in this bill to deserve
rather applauses and rewards, than censures and punishments, I think
myself obliged to oppose it, and hope to find your lordships unanimous
in the same opinion.

Then the duke of ARGYLE answered, in substance as follows:--My lords,
whatever may be the fate of this question, I have little hope that it
will be unanimously decided, because I have reason to fear that some
lords have conceived prejudices against the bill, which hinder them from
discovering either its reasonableness or its necessity; and am convinced
that others who approve the bill, can support their opinion by arguments
from which, as they cannot be confuted, they never will recede.

Those arguments which have influenced my opinion, I will lay before your
lordships, and doubt not of showing that I am very far from giving way
to personal malice, or the prejudices of opposition; and that I regard
only the voice of reason, and the call of the nation.

Calmness and impartiality, my lords, have been, with great propriety,
recommended to us by the noble lord who spoke first in this debate; and
I hope he will discover by the moderation with which I shall deliver my
sentiments on this occasion, how much I reverence his precepts, and how
willingly I yield to his authority.

I am at least certain, that I have hitherto listened to the arguments
that have been offered on either side with an attention void of
prejudice; I have repressed no motions of conviction, nor abstracted my
mind from any difficulty, to avoid the labour of solving it: I have been
solicitous to survey every position in its whole extent, and trace it to
its remotest consequences; I have assisted the arguments against the
bill by favourable suppositions, and imaginary circumstances, and have
endeavoured to divest my own opinion of some appendant and accidental
advantages, that I might view it in a state less likely to attract
regard; and yet I cannot find any reason by which I could justify myself
to my country or my conscience, if I should concur in rejecting this
bill, or should not endeavour to promote it. I am not unacquainted, my
lords, with the difficulties that obstruct the knowledge of our own
hearts, and cannot deny that inclination may be sometimes mistaken for
conviction; and men even wise and honest, may imagine themselves to
believe what, in reality, they only wish: but this, my lords, can only
happen for want of attention, or on sudden emergencies, when it is
necessary to determine with little consideration, while the passions
have not yet time to subside, and reason is yet struggling with the
emotions of desire.

In other circumstances, my lords, I am convinced that no man imposes on
himself without conniving at the fraud, without consciousness that he
admits an opinion which he has not well examined, and without consulting
indolence rather than reason; and, therefore, my lords, I can with
confidence affirm, that I now declare my real opinion, and that if I
err, I err only for want of abilities to discover the truth; and hope it
will appear to your lordships, that I have been misled at least by
specious arguments, and deceived by fallacious appearances, which it is
no reproach not to have been able to detect.

It will, my lords, be granted, I suppose, without hesitation, that the
law is consistent with itself; that it never at the same time commands
and prohibits the same action; that it cannot be at once violated and
observed. From thence it will inevitably follow, that where the
circumstances of any transaction are such, that the principles of that
law by which it is cognizable are opposite to each other, some
expedients may be found by which these circumstances may be altered.
Otherwise a subtle or powerful delinquent will always find shelter in
ambiguities, and the law will remain inactive, like a balance loaded
equally on each side.

On the present occasion, my lords, I pronounce with the utmost
confidence, as a maxim of indubitable certainty, _that the publick has a
claim to every man's evidence_, and that no man can plead exemption from
this duty to his country. But those whom false gratitude, or contracted
notions of their own interest, or fear of being entangled in the snares
of examination, prompt to disappoint the justice of the publick, urge
with equal vehemence, and, indeed, with equal truth, that _no man is
obliged to accuse himself_, and that the constitution of Britain allows
no man's evidence to be extorted from him to his own destruction.

Thus, my lords, two of the first principles of the British law, though
maxims equally important, equally certain, and equally to be preserved
from the least appearance of violation, are contradictory to each other,
and neither can be obeyed, because neither can be infringed.

How then, my lords, is this contradiction to be reconciled, and the
necessity avoided of breaking the law on one side or the other, but by
the method now proposed, of setting those whose evidence is required,
free from the danger which they may incur by giving it.

The end of the law is the redress of wrong, the protection of right, and
the preservation of happiness; and the law is so far imperfect as it
fails to produce the end for which it is instituted; and where any
imperfection is discovered, it is the province of the legislature to
supply it.

By the experience, my lords, of one generation after another, by the
continued application of successive ages, was our law brought to its
present accuracy. As new combinations of circumstances, or unforeseen
artifices of evasion, discovered to our ancestors the insufficiency of
former provisions, new expedients were invented; and as wickedness
improved its subtilty, the law multiplied its powers and extended its

If I should, therefore, allow, what has been urged, that there is no
precedent of a bill like this, what can be inferred from it, but that
wickedness has found a shelter that was never discovered before, and
which must be forced by a new method of attack? And what then are we
required to do more than has been always done by our ancestors, on a
thousand occasions of far less importance?

I know not, my lords, whether it be possible to imagine an emergence
that can more evidently require the interposition of the legislative
power, than this which is now proposed to your consideration. The nation
has been betrayed in peace, and disgraced in war; the constitution has
been openly invaded, the votes of the commons set publickly to sale, the
treasures of the publick have been squandered to purchase security to
those by whom it was oppressed, the people are exasperated to madness,
the commons have begun the inquiry that has been for more than twenty
years demanded and eluded, and justice is on a sudden insuperably
retarded by the deficiency of the law.

Surely, my lords, this is an occasion that may justify the exertion of
unusual powers, and yet nothing either new or unusual is required; for
the bill now proposed may be supported both by precedents of occasional
laws, and parallel statutes of lasting obligation.

When frauds have been committed by the agents of trading companies,
bills of indemnity to those by whom any discoveries should be made, have
been proposed and passed without any of those dreadful consequences
which some noble lords have foreseen in this. I have never heard that
any man was so stupid as to mistake such a bill for a general act of
grace, or that the confession of any crimes was procured by it, except
of those which it was intended to detect; I have never been informed,
that any murderer was blessed with the acuteness of the noble lord, or
thought of flying to such an act as to a common shelter for villany.
Such suppositions, my lords, can be intended only to prolong a
controversy and weary an opponent; nor can such trifling exaggerations
contribute to any other end, than of discovering the fertility of
imagination, and the exuberance of eloquence.

For my part, my lords, I think passion and negligence equally culpable
in a debate like this; and cannot forbear to recommend seriousness and
attention, with the same zeal with which moderation and impartiality
have already been inculcated. He that entirely disregards the question
in debate, who thinks it too trivial for a serious discussion, and
speaks upon it with the same superficial gaiety with which he would
relate the change of a fashion, or the incidents of a ball, is not very
likely, either to discover or propagate the truth; and is less to be
pardoned, than he who is betrayed by passion into absurdities, as it is
less criminal to injure our country by zeal than by contempt.

That bills, without any essential difference from that which is now
before us, have been passed in favour of private companies, is
indisputably certain; it is certain that they never produced any other
effect, than such as were expected from them by those who promoted them.
It is evident, that the welfare of the nation is more worthy of our
regard than any separate company; that the whole, of more importance
than a part; and therefore, the same measures may be now used with far
greater justice, and with equal probability of success.

The necessity of the law now proposed, my lords, cannot more plainly
appear, than by reflecting on the absurdity of the pleas made use of for
refusing it, which, considered in the whole, contain only this
assertion, that the security of one man is to be preferred to justice,
to truth, to publick felicity; that a precedent is rather to be
established, which will for ever shelter every future minister from the
laws of our country; and that all our miseries are rather to be borne in
silence, or lamented in impotence, than the man, whom the whole nation
agrees to accuse as the author of them, should be exposed to the hazard
of a trial, even before those whom every tie of interest and
long-continued affection has united to him.

It is, indeed, objected, that by passing this bill, we shall transfer
the authority of trying him to the other house; that we shall give up
our privileges for ever, erect a new court of judicature, and overturn
the constitution.

I have long observed, my lords, how vain it is to argue against those
whose resolutions are determined by extrinsick motives, and have been
long acquainted with the art of disguising obstinacy, by an appearance
of reasons that have no weight, even in the opinion of him by whom they
are offered, and of raising clouds of objections, which, by the first
reply, will certainly be dissipated, but which, at least, fill the mouth
for a time, and preserve the disputant from the reproach of adhering to
an opinion, in vindication of which he had nothing to say.

Of this kind is the objection which I am now to remove, though I remove
it only to make way for another, for those can never be silenced who can
satisfy themselves with arguments like this; however, those that offer
it expect it should be answered, and if it should be passed over in the
debate, will boast of its irrefragability, and imagine that they have
gained the victory by the superiority of their abilities, rather than of
their numbers.

That we shall, by passing this bill, give the commons a power which they
want at present, is unquestionably evident; but we shall only retrieve
that which they were never known to want before, the power of producing
evidence; evidence which we, my lords, must hear, and of whose
testimonies we shall reserve the judgment to ourselves. The commons will
only act as prosecutors, a character in which they were never conceived
to encroach upon our right. The man whose conduct is the subject of
inquiry, must stand his trial at our bar; nor has the bill any other
tendency, than to enable the commons to bring him to it.

What can be alleged against this design I know not; because I can
discover no objections which do not imply guilt, and guilt we are not
yet at liberty to suppose. I am so far from pressing this bill from any
motives of personal malevolence, that I am only doing, in the case of
the minister, what I should ardently desire to be done in my own, and
what no man would wish to obstruct, who was supported by a consciousness
of integrity, and stimulated by that honest sense of reputation which I
have always found the concomitant of innocence.

I hope I shall be readily believed by your lordships, when I assert,
once more, that I should not only forbear all opposition to a bill
intended to produce a scrutiny into my conduct, but that I should
promote it with all my interest, and solicit all my friends to expedite
and support it; for there was once a time, my lords, in which my
behaviour was brought to the test, a time when no expedient was
forgotten by which I might be oppressed, nor any method untried to
procure accusations against me.

Whether the present case in every circumstance will stand exactly
parallel to mine, I am very far from presuming to determine. I had
served my country with industry, fidelity, and success, and had received
the illustrious testimony of my conduct, the publick thanks of this
house. I was conscious of no crime, nor had gratified, in my services,
any other passion than my zeal for the publick. I saw myself
ignominiously discarded, and attacked by every method of calumny and
reproach. Nor was the malice of my enemies satisfied with destroying my
reputation without impairing my fortune: for this purpose a prosecution
was projected, a wretch was found out who engaged to accuse me, and
received his pardon for no other purpose; nor did I make any opposition
to it in this house, though I knew the intent with which it was
procured, and was informed that part of my estate was allotted him to
harden his heart, and strengthen his assertions.

This, my lords, is surely a precedent which I have a right to quote, and
which will vindicate me to your lordships from the imputation of
partiality and malignity; since it is apparent, that I do only in the
case of another, what I willingly submitted to, when an inquiry was
making into my conduct.

But, my lords, this is far from being the only precedent which may be
pleaded in favour of this bill; a bill which, in reality, concurs with
the general and regular practice of the established law, as will appear
to every one that compares it with the eighth section of the act for
preventing bribery; in which it is established as a perpetual law, that
he who, having taken a bribe, shall, within twelve months, inform
against him that gave it, shall be received as an evidence, and be
indemnified from all the consequences of his discovery.

To these arguments of reason and precedent, I will add one of a more
prevalent kind, drawn from motives of interest, which surely would
direct our ministers to favour the inquiry, and promote every expedient
that might produce a complete discussion of the publick affairs; since
they would show, that they are not afraid of the most rigorous scrutiny,
and are above any fears that the precedent which they are now
establishing may revolve upon themselves.

To elude the ratification of this bill, it was at first urged that there
was no proof of any crime; and when it was shown, that there was an
apparent misapplication of the publick money, it became necessary to
determine upon a more hardy assertion, and to silence malicious
reasoners, by showing them how little their arguments would be regarded.
It then was denied, with a spirit worthy of the cause in which it was
exerted, that the civil list was publick money.

Disputants like these, my lords, are not born to be confuted; it would
be to little purpose that any man should ask, whether the money allotted
for the civil list was not granted by the publick, and whether publick
grants did not produce publick money; it would be without any effect,
that the uses for which that grant is made should be enumerated, and the
misapplication of it openly proved; a distinction, or at least a
negative, would be always at hand, and obstinacy and interest would turn
argument aside.

Upon what principles, my lords, we can now call out for a proof of
crimes, and proceed in the debate as if no just reason of suspicion had
appeared, I am not able to conjecture; here is, in my opinion, if not
demonstrative proof, yet the strongest presumption of one of the
greatest crimes of which any man can be guilty, the propagation of
wickedness, of the most atrocious breach of trust which can be charged
upon a British minister, a deliberate traffick for the liberties of his

Of these enormous villanies, however difficult it may now seem to
disengage him from them, I hope we shall see reason to acquit him at the
bar of this house, at which, if he be innocent, he ought to be desirous
of appearing; nor do his friends consult his honour, by endeavouring to
withhold him from it; if they, indeed, believe him guilty, they may then
easily justify their conduct to him, but the world will, perhaps,
require a more publick vindication.

These, my lords, are the arguments which have influenced me hitherto to
approve the bill now before us, and which will continue their
prevalence, till I shall hear them confuted; and, surely, if they are
not altogether unanswerable, they are surely of so much importance, that
the bill for which they have been produced, must be allowed to deserve,
at least, a deliberate examination, and may very justly be referred to a
committee, in which ambiguities may be removed, and inadvertencies

Lord CHOLMONDELEY spoke next, to the following purpose:--My lords, this
bill is, in my opinion, so far from deserving approbation, that I am in
doubt whether I should retard the determination of the house, by laying
before you the reasons which influence me in this debate; nor, indeed,
could I prevail upon myself to enter into a formal discussion of a
question, on which I should have imagined that all mankind would have
been of one opinion, did not my reverence of the abilities of those
noble lords who have spoken in defence of the bill, incline me, even
against the conviction of my own reason, to suspect that arguments may
be offered in its favour, which I have not yet been able to discover;
and that those which have been produced, however inconclusive they have
seemed, will operate more powerfully when they are more fully displayed,
and better understood.

For this reason I shall lay before your lordships the objections which
arose in my mind when the bill was first laid before us, and which have
rather been strengthened than invalidated by the subsequent debate.

It appears, my lords, evident to me, that every man has a right to be
tried by the known laws of his country; that no man can be justly
punished by a law made after the commission of a fact, because he then
suffers by a law, against which he never transgressed; nor is any man to
be prosecuted by methods invented only to facilitate his condemnation,
because he ought to be acquitted, however guilty he may be supposed,
whom the established rules of justice cannot convict. The law, my lords,
is the measure of political, as conscience of moral right; and he that
breaks no law, may indeed be criminal, but is not punishable. The law
likewise prescribes the method of prosecuting guilt; and as we, by
omitting any crime in our laws, disable ourselves from punishing it,
however publick or flagrant, so by regulating the process in our courts
of justice, we give security to that guilt, which by that process cannot
be detected.

The truth of this assertion, my lords, however paradoxical it may
perhaps appear, will become evident, if we suppose a man brought to the
bar whose guilt was unquestionable, though it could not be legally
proved, because all those were dead who might have appeared against him.
It is certain that his good fortune would give him no claim to pardon,
and yet he could not be convicted, unless we suppose him weak enough to
accuse himself. In this case, my lords, it is not impossible, that some
might be prompted by their zeal to propose, that the foreign methods of
justice might be introduced, and the rack employed to extort, from his
own mouth, a confession of those crimes of which every one believed him

With what horrour, my lords, such a proposal would be heard, how loudly
it would be censured, and how universally rejected, I need not say; but
must observe, that, in my opinion, the detestation would arise
principally from a sense of the injustice of exposing any man to
peculiar hardships, and distinguishing him to his disadvantage from the
rest of the community.

It will, my lords, not be easy to prove, that it is less agreeable to
justice to oblige a man to accuse himself, than to make use of
extraordinary methods of procuring evidence against him; because the
barriers of security which the law has fixed are equally broken in
either case, and the accused is exposed to dangers, from which he had
reason to believe himself sheltered by the constitution of his country.

This argument, my lords, I have mentioned, without endeavouring to
evince the innocence of the person whom this bill immediately regards;
because the intent of it is to show, that no man is to be deprived of
the common benefits of the constitution, and that the guilty have a
right to all the advantages which the law allows them. For guilt is
never to be supposed till it is proved, and it is therefore never to be
proved by new methods, merely because it is supposed.

That the method of procuring evidence now proposed, is new, my lords, I
think it no temerity to conclude; because the noble lords who have
endeavoured to defend it, have produced no instance of a parallel
practice, and their knowledge and acuteness is such, that they can only
have failed to discover them, because they are indeed nowhere to be

In the case of bribery, my lords, the person accused has the privilege,
if he be innocent, of prosecuting his accuser for perjury, and is
therefore in less danger of being harassed by a false indictment. But,
my lords, this is not the only difference between the two cases; for he
that discovers a bribe received by himself, has no motives of interest
to prompt his evidence; he is only secured from suffering by his own
discovery, and might have been equally safe by silence and secrecy;
since the law supposes the crime out of the reach of detection,
otherwise than by the confession of the criminal.

But far different, my lords, are the circumstances of those who are now
invited to throng the courts of justice, and stun us with depositions
and discoveries. They are men supposed criminal by the indemnity which
is offered them; and by the nature of their crimes it is made at least
probable, that they are in daily hazard of discovery and punishment;
from which they are summoned to set themselves free for ever, by
accusing a man of whom it has not been yet proved that he can legally be
called to a trial.

Thus, my lords, in the law which the noble duke has mentioned as a
precedent for this bill, the accuser is only placed in a kind of
equilibrium, equally secure from punishment, by silence or by
information, in hope that the love of truth and justice will turn the
balance; in the bill now before us the witness is in continual danger by
withholding his evidence, and is restored to perfect safety by becoming
an accuser, and from making discoveries, whether true or false, has
every thing to hope and nothing to fear.

The necessity of punishing wickedness has been urged with great
strength; it has been unanswerably shown, by the advocates for this
bill, that vindictive justice is of the highest importance to the
happiness of the publick, and that those who may be injured with
impunity, are, in reality, denied the benefits of society, and can be
said to live in the state of uncivilized nature, in which the strong
must prey upon the weak.

This, my lords, has been urged with all the appearance of conviction and
sincerity, and yet has been urged by those who are providing a shelter
for the most enormous villanies, and enabling men who have violated
every precept of law and virtue, to bid defiance to justice, and to sit
at ease in the enjoyment of their acquisitions.

And what, my lords, is the condition, upon which wickedness is to be set
free from terrour, upon which national justice is to be disarmed, and
the betrayers of publick counsels, or the plunderers of publick
treasure, qualified for new trusts, and set on a level with untainted
fidelity? A condition, my lords, which wretches like these will very
readily accept, the easy terms of information and of perjury. They are
required only to give evidence against a man marked out for destruction,
and the guilt of partaking in his crimes is to be effaced by the merit
of concurring in his ruin.

It has, indeed, been a method of detection, frequently employed against
housebreakers and highwaymen, to proclaim a pardon for him that shall
convict his accomplices; but surely, my lords, this practice will not,
in the present question, be mentioned as a precedent. Surely it will not
be thought equitable to level with felons, and with thieves, a person
distinguished by his rank, his employments, his abilities, and his
services; a person, whose loyalty to his sovereign has never been called
in question, and whose fidelity to his country has at least never been

These are measures, my lords, which I hope your lordships will never
concur to promote; measures not supported either by law or justice, or
enforced by any exigence of affairs, but dictated by persecution,
malice, and revenge; measures by which the guilty and the innocent may
be destroyed with equal facility, and which must, therefore, tend to
encourage wickedness as they destroy the security of virtue.

Lord CARTERET then rose, and spoke to the following effect:--My lords, I
have so long honoured the abilities, and so often concurred with the
opinion of the noble lord who began the debate, that I cannot, without
unusual concern, rise up now to speak in opposition to him; nor could
any other principle support me under the apparent disadvantage of a
contest so unequal, but the consciousness of upright intentions, and the
concurrence of the whole nation.

I cannot but consider myself, on this occasion, my lords, as the
advocate of the people of Britain, who, after continued oppressions,
losses, and indignities, after having been plundered and ridiculed,
harassed and insulted for complaining, have at length flattered
themselves that they should have an opportunity of appealing to our bar
for justice, and of securing themselves from future injuries, by the
punishment of those that had so long triumphed in their guilt,
proclaimed their defiance of justice, and declared that the laws were
made only for their security.

The expectations of the people have been frustrated by the unexpected
obstinacy of the agents of wickedness, by a plea that was never made use
of for the same purpose before, against which the known laws of the
nation have provided no remedy, and which your lordships are, therefore,
now called upon to overthrow.

That the nation calls loudly for an inquiry, that the misapplication of
the publick treasure is universally suspected, and that the person
mentioned in the bill is believed to be the chief author of that
misapplication; that at least those who have squandered it, have acted
by his authority, and been admitted to trust by his recommendation, and
that he is, therefore, accountable to the publick for their conduct, I
shall suppose, cannot be denied.

The nation, my lords, has a right to be gratified in their demands of an
inquiry, whatever be the foundation of their suspicions; since it is
manifest that it can produce no other effects than those of giving new
lustre to innocence, and quieting the clamours of the people, if it
should be found that the government has been administered with honesty
and ability; and it is not less evident that, if the general opinion is
well grounded, if our interest has been betrayed, and that money
employed only to corrupt the nation which was raised for the defence of
it, the severest punishment ought to be inflicted, that all future
ministers may be deterred from the same crimes by exemplary vengeance.

Thus, my lords, an inquiry appears, upon every supposition, useful and
necessary; but I cannot comprehend how it can be prosecuted by any other
method, than that of proposing an indemnity to those who shall make
discoveries. Every wicked measure, my lords, must involve in guilt all
who are engaged in it; and how easily it may be concealed from every
other person, may be shown by an example of a crime, which no man will
deny to have sometimes existed, and which, in the opinion of most, is
not very uncommon in this age.

It will be allowed, at least, that on some occasions, when a favourite
begins to totter, when strong objections are raised against the
continuance of a standing army, when a convention requires the
ratification of the legislature, or some fatal address is proposed to be
presented to the crown, a pecuniary reward may sometimes be offered, and
though that, indeed, be a supposition more difficult to be admitted,
sometimes, however rarely, accepted.

In this case, my lords, none but he that gives, and he that receives the
bribe can be conscious of it; at most, we can only suppose an
intervening agent to have any knowledge of it; and if even he is
admitted to the secret, so as to be able to make a legal discovery,
there must be some defect of cunning in the principals. Let us consider
from which of these any discovery can be probably expected, or what
reason can be alleged, for which either should expose himself to
punishment for the sake of ruining his associates.

It is, therefore, my lords, plain, from this instance, that without the
confession of some guilty person, no discovery can be made of those
crimes which are most detrimental to our happiness, and most dangerous
to our liberties. It is apparent that no man will discover his own
guilt; while there remains any danger of suffering by his confession, it
is certain that such crimes will be committed, if they are not
discouraged by the fear of punishment, and it cannot, therefore, be
denied that a proclamation of indemnity is necessary to their detection.

This, my lords, is not, as it has been alleged, a method unknown to our
constitution, as every man that reads the common papers will easily
discover. I doubt if there has been, for many years, a single month in
which some reward, as well as indemnity, has not been promised to any
man, who, having been engaged in a robbery, would discover his
confederates; and surely a method that is daily practised for the
security of private property, may be very rationally and justly adopted
by the legislature for the preservation of the happiness and the
property of the publick.

The punishment of wickedness, my lords, is undoubtedly one of the
essential parts of good government, and, in reality, the chief purpose
for which society is instituted; for how will that society in which any
individual may be plundered, enslaved, and murdered, without redress and
without punishment, differ from the state of corrupt nature, in which
the strongest must be absolute, and right and power always the same?

That constitution, therefore, which has not provided for the punishment,
and previously for the discovery of guilt, is so far in a state of
imperfection, and requires to be strengthened by new provisions. This,
my lords, is far from being our state, for we have in our hands a method
of detecting the most powerful criminals, a method in itself agreeable
to reason, recommended by the practice of our predecessors, and now
approved, once more, by the sanction of one of the branches of the

The objections which have, on this occasion, been made against it, are
such as no law can escape, and which, therefore, can have no weight; and
it is no small confirmation of the expediency of it, that they by whom
it has been opposed have not been able to attack it with stronger
reasons, from which, if we consider their abilities, we shall be
convinced, that nothing has secured it but the power of truth.

It is inquired, by the noble lord, how we shall distinguish true from
false evidence; to which it may be very readily answered, that we shall
distinguish them by the same means as on any other occasion, by
comparing the allegations, and considering how every witness agrees with
others and with himself, how far his assertions are in themselves
probable, how they are confirmed or weakened by known circumstances, and
how far they are invalidated by the contrary evidence.

We shall, my lords, if we add our sanction to this bill, discover when
any man's accusation is prompted by his interest, as we might know
whether it was dictated by his malice.

It has been asked also, how any man can ascertain his claim to the
indemnity? To which it may be easily replied, that by giving his
evidence he acquires a right, till that evidence shall be proved to be

The noble lord who spoke some time ago, and whose abilities and
qualities are such, that I cannot but esteem and admire him, even when
conviction obliges me to oppose him, has proposed a case in which he
seems to imagine that a murderer might secure himself from punishment,
by connecting his crime with some transaction in which the earl of
ORFORD should be interested. This case, my lords, is sufficiently
improbable, nor is it easy to mention any method of trial in which some
inconvenience may not be produced, in the indefinite complications of
circumstances, and unforeseen relations of events. It is known to have
happened once, and cannot be known not to have happened often, that a
person accused of murder, was tried by a jury of which the real murderer
was one. Will not this then be an argument against the great privilege
of the natives of this empire, _a trial by their equals?_

But, my lords, I am of opinion that the murderer would not be
indemnified by this bill, since he did not commit the crime by the
direction of the person whom he is supposed to accuse; nor would it have
any necessary connexion with his conduct, but might be suppressed in the
accusation, without any diminution of the force of the evidence. A man
will not be suffered to introduce his accusation with an account of all
the villanies of his whole life, but will be required to confine his
testimony to the affair upon which he is examined.

The committee, my lords, will distinguish between the crimes perpetrated
by the direction of the earl of ORFORD, and those of another kind. And
should an enormous criminal give such evidence, as the noble lord was
pleased to suppose, he may be indemnified for the bribery, but will be
hanged for the murder, notwithstanding any thing in this bill to the

It has been insisted on by the noble lords, who have spoke against the
bill, that no crime is proved, and, therefore, there is no foundation
for it. But, my lords, I have always thought that the profusion of the
publick money was a crime, and there is evidently a very large sum
expended, of which no account has been given; and, what more nearly
relates to the present question, of which no account has ever been

On this occasion, my lords, an assertion has been alleged, which no
personal regard shall ever prevail upon me to hear without disputing it,
since I think it is of the most dangerous tendency, and unsupported by
reason or by law. It is alleged, my lords, that the civil list is not to
be considered as publick money, and that the nation has, therefore, no
claim to inquire how it is distributed; that it is given to support the
dignity of the crown, and that only his majesty can ask the reason of
any failures in the accounts of it.

I have, on the contrary, my lords, hitherto understood, that all was
publick money which was given by the publick. The present condition of
the crown is very different from that of our ancient monarchs, who
supported their dignity by their own estates. I admit, my lords, that
they might at pleasure contract or enlarge their expenses, mortgage or
alienate their lands, or bestow presents and pensions without control.

It is, indeed, expressed in the act, that the grants of the civil list
are without account, by which I have hitherto understood only that the
sum total is exempt from account; not that the ministers have a right to
employ the civil list to such purposes as they shall think most
conducive to their private views. For if it should be granted, not only
that the nation has no right to know how the _whole_ is expended, which
is the utmost that can be allowed, or to direct the application of any
part of it, which is very disputable, yet it certainly has a claim to
direct in what manner it shall _not_ be applied, and to provide that
boroughs are not corrupted under pretence of promoting the dignity of
the crown.

The corruption of boroughs, my lords, is one of the greatest crimes of
which any man under our constitution is capable; it is to corrupt, at
once, the fountain and the stream of government, to poison the whole
nation at once, and to make the people wicked, that they may infect the
house of commons with wicked representatives.

Such, my lords, are the crimes, the suspicion of which incited the
commons to a publick inquiry, in which they have been able to proceed so
far, as to prove that the publick discontent was not without cause, and
that such arts had been practised, as it is absolutely necessary, to the
publick security, to detect and punish.

They, therefore, pursued their examination with a degree of ardour
proportioned to the importance of the danger in which every man is
involved by the violation of the fundamental laws of the constitution;
but, they found themselves obstructed by the subtilty of some who
confessed only that they were guilty, and determined to be faithful to
their accomplices and themselves.

A farther inquiry, my lords, was, by this unforeseen evasion, made
impossible; the ultimate and principal agent is sheltered from the law
by his guard of mercenaries, wretches who are contented to be infamous,
if they can continue to be rich, and value themselves on their adherence
to their master, while they are conspiring to ruin their country.

The nation, my lords, in the mean time, justly applies for redress to
the power of the legislature, and to its wisdom for methods of procuring
it by law. The commons have complied with their importunities, and
propose to your lordships the bill before you, a bill for making a
publick inquiry possible, and for bringing a minister within reach of
the law.

On this occasion, my lords, we are upbraided with our own declarations,
that the person mentioned in this bill would quickly find accusers, when
he should be divested of his authority. Behold him now, say his
advocates, reduced from his envied eminence, and placed on a level with
his fellow-subjects! Behold him no longer the distributer of
employments, or the disburser of the publick treasure! see him divested
of all security, but that of innocence, and yet no accusations are

This, my lords, is a topick so fruitful of panegyrick, and so happily
adapted to the imagination of a person long used to celebrate the wisdom
and integrity of ministers, that, were not the present question of too
great importance to admit of false concessions, I should suffer it to
remain without controversy.

But, my lords, this is no time for criminal indulgence; and, therefore,
I shall annihilate this short-lived triumph by observing, that to be out
of place, is not necessarily to be out of power; a minister may retain
his influence, who has resigned his employment; he may still retain the
favour of his prince, and possess him with a false opinion, that he can
only secure his authority by protecting him; or, what there is equal
reason to suspect, his successours may be afraid of concurring in a law
which may hereafter be revived against themselves.

It may be urged farther, my lords, that he cannot with great propriety
be said to have no power, who sees the legislature crowded with men that
are indebted to his favour for their rank and their fortunes.

Such a man may bid defiance to inquiry, with confidence produced by
security very different from that of innocence; he may depend upon the
secrecy of those whom he has, perhaps, chosen for no other virtue; he
may know that common danger will unite them to him, and that they cannot
abandon him without exposing themselves to the same censures.

These securities, my lords, the fortifications of the last retreat of
wickedness, remain now to be broken, and the nation expects its fate
from our determinations, which will either secure the liberties of our
posterity from violation, by showing that no degree of power can shelter
those who shall invade them, or that our constitution is arrived at this
period, and that all struggles for its continuance will be vain.

Let us not, my lords, combine with the publick enemies, let us not give
the nation reason to believe that this house is infected with the
contagion of venality, that our honour is become an empty name, and that
the examples of our ancestors have no other effect upon us than to raise
the price of perfidy, and enable us to sell our country at a higher

Let us remember, my lords, that power is supported by opinion, and that
the reverence of the publick cannot be preserved but by rigid justice
and active beneficence.

For this reason, I am far from granting that we ought to be cautious of
charging those with crimes who have the honour of a seat amongst us. In
my opinion, my lords, we ought to be watchful against the least
suspicion of wickedness in our own body, we ought to eject pollution
from our walls, and preserve that power for which some appear so
anxious, by keeping our reputation pure and untainted.

It is, therefore, to little purpose objected, that there is no _corpus
delicti;_ for even, though it were true, yet while there is a _corpus
suspicionis,_ then inquiry ought to be made for our own honour, nor can
either law or reason be pleaded against it.

I cannot, therefore, doubt, that your lordships will endeavour to do
justice; that you will facilitate the production of oral evidence, lest
all written proofs should be destroyed; that you will not despise the
united petition of the whole people, of which I dread the consequence;
nor reject the only expedient by which their fears may be dissipated,
and their happiness secured.

Lord HARDWICKE spoke next, in the following manner:--My lords, after
having, with an intention uninterrupted by any foreign considerations,
and a mind intent only on the discovery of truth, examined every
argument which has been urged on either side, I think it my duty to
declare, that I have yet discovered no reason, which, in my opinion,
ought to prevail upon us to ratify the bill that is now before us.

The noble lords who have defended it, appear to reason more upon maxims
of policy, than rules of law, or principles of justice; and seem to
imagine, that if they can prove it to be expedient, it is not necessary
to show that it is equitable.

How far, my lords, they have succeeded in that argument which they have
most laboured, I think it not necessary to examine, because I have
hitherto accounted it an incontestable maxim, that whenever interest and
virtue are in competition, virtue is always to be preferred.

The noble lord who spoke first in this debate, has proved the
unreasonableness and illegality of the methods proposed in this bill,
beyond the possibility of confutation; he has shown that they are
inconsistent with the law, and-that the law is founded upon reason: he
has proved, that the bill supposes a criminal previous to the crime,
summons the man to a trial, and then inquires for what offence.

Nor has he, my lords, confined himself to a detection of the original
defect, the uncertainty of any crime committed, but has proceeded to
prove, that upon whatever supposition we proceed, the bill is
unequitable, and of no other tendency than to multiply grievances, and
establish a precedent of oppression.

For this purpose he has shown, that no evidence can be procured by this
till, because all those who shall, upon the encouragement proposed in
it, offer information, must be considered as hired witnesses, to whom no
credit can be given, and who, therefore, ought not to be heard.

His lordship also proved, that we cannot pass this bill without
diminishing our right, bestowing new powers upon the commons, confirming
some of their claims which are most dubious, nor, by consequence,
without violating the constitution.

To all these arguments, arguments drawn from the most important
considerations, enforced by the strongest reasoning, and explained with
the utmost perspicuity, what has been replied? How have any of his
assertions been invalidated, or any of his reasons eluded? How has it
been shown that there is any foundation for a criminal charge, that
witnesses thus procured ought to be heard, or that our rights would not
be made disputable by confirming the proceedings of the commons?

It has been answered by a noble lord, that though there is not _corpus
delicti_, there is _corpus suspicionis_. What may be the force of this
argument, I cannot say, because I am not ashamed to own, that I do not
understand the meaning of the words. I very well understand what is
meant by _corpus delicti,_ and so does every other lord; it is
universally known to mean the _body of an offence;_ but as to the words
_corpus suspicionis,_ I do not comprehend what they mean: it is an
expression, indeed, which I never before heard, and can signify, in my
apprehension, nothing more than the _body of a shadow,_ the substance of
something which is itself nothing.

Such, my lords, is the principle of this bill, by the confession of its
warmest and ablest advocates; it is a bill for summoning a person to a
trial, against whom no crime is alleged, and against whom no witness
will appear without a bribe.

For that those who should appear in consequence of this bill to offer
their evidence, ought to be considered as bribed, will, surely, need no
proof to those who consider, that bribes are not confined to money, and
that every man who promotes his own interest by his deposition, is
swearing, not for truth and justice, but for himself.

It may be urged, and it is, in my opinion, all that the most fruitful
imagination can suggest in favour of this bill, that they are not
required to accuse the earl of ORFORD, but to give in their evidence
concerning his conduct, whether in his favour, or against him.

But this argument, my lords, however specious it may seem, will vanish
of itself, if the bill be diligently considered, which is only to confer
indemnity on those, who in the course of their evidence shall discover
any of their own crimes; on those whose testimony shall tend to fix some
charge of wickedness on the earl of ORFORD; for it cannot easily be
imagined how those who appear in his favour, should be under a necessity
of revealing any actions that require an indemnity.

Thus, my lords, it appears that the bill can produce no other effect
than that of multiplying accusations, since it offers rewards only to
those who are supposed to have been engaged in unjustifiable practices;
and to procure witnesses by this method, is equally unjust as to propose
a publick prize to be obtained by swearing against any of your

If witnesses are to be purchased, we ought, at least, to offer an equal
price on each side, that though they may be induced by the reward to
offer their depositions, they may not be tempted to accuse rather than
to justify.

Should any private man, my lords, offer a reward to any that would give
evidence against another, without specifying the crime of which he is
accused, doubtless he would be considered by the laws of this nation, as
a violator of the rights of society, an open slanderer, and a disturber
of mankind; and would immediately, by an indictment or information, be
obliged to make satisfaction to the community which he had offended, or
to the person whom he had injured.

It has, my lords, I own, been asserted by the noble duke, that the
publick has a right to every man's evidence, a maxim which in its proper
sense cannot be denied. For it is undoubtedly true, that the publick has
a right to all the assistance of every individual; but it is, my lords,
upon such terms as have been established for the general advantage of
all; on such terms as the majority of each society has prescribed. But,
my lords, the majority of a society, which is the true definition of the
_publick,_ are equally obliged with the smaller number, or with
individuals, to the observation of justice, and cannot, therefore,
prescribe to different individuals different conditions. They cannot
decree that treatment to be just with regard to one which they allow to
be cruel with respect to another. The claims of the publick are founded,
first upon right, which is invariable; and next upon the law, which,
though mutable in its own nature, is, however, to be so far fixed, as
that every man may know his own condition, his own property, and his own
privileges, or it ceases in effect to be law, it ceases to be the rule
of government, or the measure of conduct.

In the present case, my lords, the publick has not a right to hire
evidence, because the publick has hitherto subsisted upon this
condition, among others, that no man shall swear in his own cause. The
publick has not a right to require from any man that he should betray
himself, because every man may plead that he is exempted from that
demand by the publick faith.

Thus, my lords, the right of the publick is only that right which the
publick has established by law, and confirmed by continual claims; nor
is the claim of the publick from individuals to be extended beyond its
known bounds, except in times of general distress, where a few must
necessarily suffer for the preservation of the rest.

This necessity is, indeed, now urged; but surely it ought to be shown,
that the present circumstances of affairs differ from those of any
former age, before it can with any propriety he asserted, that measures
are now necessary, which no other distresses, however urgent, or
provocations, however flagrant, have hitherto produced. It ought to be
proved, that wickedness had discovered some new shelter from justice,
before new engines are invented to force it from its retreat, and new
powers applied to drag it out to punishment.

The nation has subsisted, my lords, so many centuries; has often
recovered from the lingering disease of inward corruption, and repelled
the shocks of outward violence; it has often been endangered by corrupt
counsels, and wicked machinations, and surmounted them by the force of
its established laws, without the assistance of temporary expedients; at
least without expedients like this, which neither law nor justice can
support, and which would in itself be a more atrocious grievance than
those, if they were real, which it is intended to punish, and might
produce far greater evils than those which are imputed to him, against
whom it is projected.

It has, indeed, my lords, been mentioned by a noble lord, in much softer
language, as a method only of making an inquiry possible. The
possibility of an inquiry, my lords, is a very remote and inoffensive
idea; but names will not change the nature of the things to which they
are applied. The bill is, in my opinion, calculated to make a defence
impossible, to deprive innocence of its guard, and to let loose
oppression and perjury upon the world. It is a bill to dazzle the wicked
with a prospect of security, and to incite them to purchase an indemnity
for one crime, by the perpetration of another. It is a bill to confound
the notions of right and wrong, to violate the essence of our
constitution, and to leave us without any certain security for our
properties, or rule for our actions.

Nor are the particular parts less defective than the general foundation;
for it is full of ambiguous promises, vague ideas, and indeterminate
expressions, of which some have been already particularized by the noble
lords that have spoken on this occasion, whose observations I shall not
repeat, nor endeavour to improve; but cannot forbear proposing to the
advocates for the bill one sentence, that it may be explained by them,
and that at least we may not pass what we do not understand.

In the inquiry into the conduct of the earl of ORFORD, every man, as we
have already seen, is invited to bring his evidence, and to procure an
indemnity, by answering such questions as shall be asked, _touching or
concerning the said inquiry, or relative thereto_. What is to be
understood by this last sentence, I would willingly be informed; I would
hear how far the _relation_ to the inquiry is designed to be extended,
with what other _inquiries_ it is to be complicated, and where the chain
of interrogatories is to have an end.

When an evidence appears before the committee, how can he be certain
that the questions asked are _relative to the inquiry?_ How can he be
certain that they are such as he may procure an indemnity by resolving?
Or whether they are not unconnected with the principal question, and
therefore insidious and dangerous? And to what power must he appeal, if
he should be prosecuted afterwards upon his own confession, on pretence
that it was not _relative to the inquiry?_

Expressions like these, my lords, if they are not the effects of
malicious hurry, and negligent animosity, must be intended to vest the
committee with absolute authority, with the award of life and death, by
leaving to them the liberty to explain the statute at their own
pleasure, to contract or enlarge the relation to the controversy, to
inquire without bounds, and judge without control.

Thus, my lords, I have laid before you my opinion of this bill without
any partial regard, without exaggerating the ill consequences that may
be feared from it, or endeavouring to elude any reasoning by which it
has been defended. I have endeavoured to pursue the arguments of the
noble lord who spoke first, and to show that it is founded upon false
notions of criminal justice, that it proposes irrational and illegal
methods of trial, that it will produce consequences fatal to our
constitution, and establish a precedent of oppression.

I have endeavoured, in examining the arguments by which the bill has
been defended, to show that the rights of the publick are ascertained,
and that the power of the majority is to be limited by moral
considerations; and to prove, in discussing its particular parts, that
it is inaccurate, indeterminate, and unintelligible.

What effects my inquiry may have had upon your lordships, yourselves
only can tell; for my part, the necessity of dwelling so long upon the
question, has added new strength to my conviction; and so clearly do I
now see the danger and injustice of a law like this, that though I do
not imagine myself indued with any peculiar degree of heroism, I
believe, that if I were condemned to a choice so disagreeable, I should
more willingly suffer by such a bill passed in my own case, than consent
to pass it in that of another.

The duke of ARGYLE replied to the following effect:--My lords, I am not
yet able to discover that the bill now before us is either illegal or
absurd, that its interpretation is doubtful, or its probable
consequences dangerous.

The indisputable maxim, that _the publick has a right to every man's
evidence,_ has been explained away with much labour, and with more art
than a good cause can often require. We have been told of publick
contracts, of the rights of society with regard to individuals, and the
privileges of individuals with respect to society; we have had one term
opposed to another, only to amuse our attention; and law, reason, and
sophistry have been mingled, till common sense was lost in the

But, my lords, it is easy to disentangle all this perplexity of ideas,
and to set truth free from the shackles of sophistry, by observing that
it is, in all civilized nations of the world, one of the first
principles of the constitution, that the publick has a right, always
reserved, of having recourse to extraordinary methods of proceeding,
when the happiness of the community appears not sufficiently secured by
the known laws.

Laws may, by those who have made the study and explanation of them the
employment of their lives, be esteemed as the great standard of right;
they may be habitually reverenced, and considered as sacred in their own
nature, without regard to the end which they are designed to produce.

But others, my lords, whose minds operate without any impediment from
education, will easily discover, that laws are to be regarded only for
their use; that the power which made them only for the publick advantage
ought to alter or annul them, when they are no longer serviceable, or
when they obstruct those effects which they were intended to promote.

I will, therefore, my lords, still assert, that _the publick has a right
to every man's evidence;_ and that to reject any bill which can have no
other consequence than that of enabling the nation to assert its claim,
to reconcile one principle of law with another, and to deprive villany
of an evasion which may always be used, is to deny justice to an
oppressed people, and to concur in the ruin of our country.

And farther, my lords, I confidently affirm it has not been proved, that
this bill can endanger any but the guilty; nor has it been shown that it
is drawn up for any other purpose than that which the noble lord
mentioned, of hindering _an inquiry from being impossible;_ it may,
therefore, justly be required from those who affect, on this occasion,
so much tenderness for liberty, so many suspicions of remote designs,
and so much zeal for our constitution, to demonstrate, that either an
inquiry may be carried on by other means, or that an inquiry is itself
superfluous or improper.

Though none of those who have spoken against the bill have been willing
to expose themselves to universal indignation, by declaring that they
would gladly obstruct the progress of the inquiry; that they designed to
throw a mist over the publick affairs, and to conceal from the people
the causes of their misery; and though I have no right to charge those
who differ from me in opinion, with intentions, which, as they do not
avow them, cannot be proved; this, however, I will not fear to affirm,
that those who are for rejecting this method of inquiry, would consult
their honour by proposing some other equally efficacious; lest it should
be thought; by such as have not any opportunities of knowing their
superiority to temptations, that they are influenced by some motives
which they are not willing to own, and that they are, in secret, enemies
to the inquiry, though, in publick, they only condemn the method of
pursuing it.

The duke of NEWCASTLE next rose, and spoke to this effect:--My lords,
the arguments which have been produced in defence of the bill before us,
however those who offer them may be influenced by them, have made,
hitherto, very little impression upon me; my opinion of the impropriety
and illegality of this new method of prosecution, still continues the
same; nor can it be expected that I should alter it, till those reasons
have been answered which have been offered by the noble lord who spoke
first in the debate.

The advocates for the bill seem, indeed, conscious of the insufficiency
of their arguments, and have, therefore, added motives of another kind;
they have informed us, that our power subsists upon our reputation, and
that our reputation can only be preserved by concurring in the measures
recommended by the commons; they have insinuated to us, that he who
obstructs this bill, will be thought desirous to obstruct the inquiry,
to conspire the ruin of his country, and to act in confederacy with
publick robbers.

But, my lords, whether the nation is really exasperated to such a degree
as is represented, whether it is the general opinion of mankind that the
publick affairs have been unfaithfully administered, and whether this
bill has been dictated by a desire of publick justice, or of private
revenge, I have not thought it necessary to inquire; having long learned
to act in consequence of my own conviction, not of the opinions of
others, at least, not of those who determine upon questions which they
cannot understand, and judge without having ever obtained an opportunity
of examining.

Such, my lords, must be the opinions of the people upon questions of
policy, opinions not formed by reflection, but adopted from those whom
they sometimes, with very little reason, imagine nearer spectators of
the government than themselves, and in whom they place an implicit
confidence, on account of some casual act of popularity.

I shall not, therefore, think the demands of the people a rule of
conduct, nor shall ever fear to incur their resentment in the
prosecution of their interest. I shall never flatter their passions to
obtain their favour, or gratify their revenge for fear of their
contempt. The inconstancy, my lords, of publick applause, all of us have
observed, and many of us have experienced; and we know that it is very
far from being always the reward of merit. We know that the brightest
character may be easily darkened by calumny; that those who are
labouring for the welfare of the publick, may be easily represented as
traitors and oppressors; and that the people may quickly be persuaded to
join in the accusation.

That the people, however deceived, have a right to accuse whomsoever
they suspect, and that their accusation ought to be heard, I do not
deny; but surely, my lords, the opinion of the people is not such a
proof of guilt as will justify a method of prosecution never known
before, or give us a right to throw down the barriers of liberty, and
punish by power those whom we cannot convict by law.

Let any of your lordships suppose himself by some accident exposed to
the temporary malice of the populace, let him imagine his enemies
inflaming them to a demand of a prosecution, and then proposing that he
should be deprived of the common methods of defence, and that evidence
should be hired against him, lest the publick should be disappointed,
and he will quickly discover the unreasonableness of this bill.

I suppose no man will deny, that methods of prosecution introduced on
one occasion, may be practised on another; and that in the natural
rotations of power, the same means may be used for very different ends.
Nothing is more probable, my lords, if a bill of this kind should be
ever passed, in compliance with the clamours of the people, to punish
ministers, and to awe the court, than that it may in time, if a wicked
minister should arise, be made a precedent for measures by which the
court may intimidate the champions of the people; by which those may be
pursued to destruction, who have been guilty of no other crime than that
of serving their country in a manner which those who are ignorant of the
circumstances of affairs, happen to disapprove.

The measures now proposed, my lords, are, therefore, to be rejected,
because it is evident that they will establish a precedent, by which
virtue may at any time be oppressed, but which can be very seldom
necessary for the detection of wickedness; since there is no probability
that it will often happen, that a man really guilty of enormous crimes
can secure himself from discovery, or connect others with him in such a
manner, that they cannot impeach him without betraying themselves.

But, my lords, whenever virtue is to be persecuted, whenever false
accusations are to be promoted, this method is incontestably useful; for
no reward can so efficaciously prevail upon men who languish in daily
fear of publick justice, as a grant of impunity.

It may be urged, my lords, I own, that all inquiries into futurity are
idle speculations; that the expedient proposed is proper on the present
occasion, and that no methods of justice are to be allowed, if the
possibility of applying them to bad purposes, is a sufficient reason for
rejecting them.

But to this, my lords, it may be answered with equal reason, that every
process of law is likewise, in some degree, defective; that the
complications of circumstances are variable without end, and, therefore,
cannot be comprised in any certain rule; and that we must have no
established method of justice, if we cannot be content with such as may
possibly be sometimes eluded.

And, my lords, it may be observed farther, that scarcely any practice
can be conceived, however generally unreasonable and unjust, which may
not be sometimes equitable and proper; and that if we are to lay aside
all regard to futurity, and act merely with regard to the present
exigence, it may be often proper to violate every part of our
constitution. This house may sometimes have rejected bills beneficial to
the nation; and if this reasoning be allowed, it might have been wise
and just in the commons and the emperour to have suspended our authority
by force, to have voted us useless on that occasion, and have passed the
law without our concurrence.

With regard to the establishment of criminal prosecutions, as well as to
our civil rights, we are, my lords, to consider what is, upon the whole,
most for the advantage of the publick; we are not to admit practices
which may be sometimes useful, but may be often pernicious, and which
suppose men better or wiser than they are. We do not grant absolute
power to a wise and moderate prince, because his successours may inherit
his power without his virtues; we are not to trust or allow new methods
of prosecution upon an occasion on which they may seem useful, because
they may be employed to purposes very different from those for which
they were introduced.

Thus, my lords, I have shown the impropriety of the bill now before us,
upon the most favourable supposition that can possibly be made; a
supposition of the guilt of the noble person against whom it is
contrived. And surely, my lords, what cannot even in that case be
approved, must, if we suppose him innocent, be detested.

That he is really innocent, my lords, that he is only blackened by
calumny, and pursued by resentment, cannot be more strongly proved than
by the necessity to which his enemies are reduced, of using expedients
never heard of in this nation before, to procure accusations against
him; expedients which they cannot show to have been at any time
necessary for the punishment of a man really wicked, and which, by
bringing guilt and innocence into the same danger, leave us at liberty
to imagine, that he is clear from the crimes imputed to him, even in the
opinion of those who pursue him with the fiercest resentment, and the
loudest clamours.

It may well be imagined, my lords, that those whom he has so long
defeated by his abilities, see themselves now baffled by his innocence;
and that they only now persecute his character, to hide the true reason
for which they formerly attacked his power.

I hope, my lords, I shall be easily forgiven for observing, that this is
a testimony of uncorrupted greatness, more illustrious than any former
minister has ever obtained; for when was it known, my lords, that after
a continuance of power for twenty years, any man, when his conduct
became the subject of publick examination, was without accusers?

I cannot, for my part, but congratulate the noble person upon his
triumph over malice; malice assisted by subtilty and experience, by
wealth and power, which is at length obliged to confess its impotence,
to call upon us to assist it with new laws, to enable it to offer a
reward for evidence against him, and throw down the boundaries of
natural justice, that he may be harassed, censured, and oppressed, upon
whom it cannot be proved that he ever deviated from the law, or employed
his power for any other end than the promotion of the publick happiness.

Had the officers of the crown, my lords, when his influence was
represented so great, and his dominion so absolute, projected any such
measures for his defence; had they proposed to silence his opponents by
calling them to a trial, and offered a stated price for accusations
against them, how loudly would they have been charged with the most
flagrant violation of the laws, and the most open disregard of the
rights of nature; with how much vehemence would it have been urged, that
they were intoxicated with their success, and that in the full security
of power they thought themselves entitled to neglect the great
distinctions of right and wrong, and determined to employ the law for
the completion of those purposes, in which justice would give them no

I doubt not that your lordships will easily perceive, that this censure
is equally just in either case; that you will not allow any man to be
prosecuted by methods which he ought not to have used in his own case;
that you will not expose any man to hardships, from which every other
member of the community is exempt; that you will not suffer any man to
be tried by hired evidence; and that you will not condemn him whom the
law acquits.

Lord BATHURST spoke next, in substance as follows:--My lords, the
question under our consideration has been so long and so accurately
debated, that little can be added to the arguments on either side; and
therefore, though I think it necessary on so important an occasion, to
make a solemn declaration of my opinion, I shall endeavour to support
it, not so much by any arguments of my own, as by a recapitulation and
comparison of those which have been already heard by your lordships.

It has not been denied, that the punishment of crimes is absolutely
necessary to the publick security; and as it is evident, that crimes
cannot be punished unless they are detected, it must be allowed, that
the discovery of wicked measures ought to be, in a very great degree,
the care of those who are intrusted with the government of the nation;
nor can they better discharge their trust, than by defeating the
artifices of intrigue, and blocking up the retreats of guilt.

This, likewise, my lords, is admitted with such restrictions as seem
intended to preclude any advantage that might be drawn from the
appearance of a concession; for it is urged, that guilt is not to be
detected by any methods which are not just, and that no methods are just
which are not usual.

The first position, my lords, I have no intention to controvert; as it
is not to violate justice, but to preserve it from violation, that this
bill has been projected or defended. But, my lords, it is to be
observed, that they who so warmly recommend the strictest adherence to
justice, seem not fully to understand the duty which they urge. To do
justice, my lords, is to act with impartiality, to banish from the mind
all regard to personal motives, and to consider every question in its
whole extent, without suffering the attention to be restrained to
particular circumstances, or the judgment to be obstructed by partial

This rule, my lords, seems not to have been very carefully observed, by
the most vehement advocates for justice in the case before us; for they
appear not to be solicitous that any should receive justice, but the
person mentioned in the bill; they do not remember, that the publick has
cried out for justice more than twenty years; for justice, which has not
yet been obtained, and which can be obtained only by the method now

It is necessary, my lords, for those who are so watchful against the
breach of justice, to prove that any means can be unjust which have no
other tendency than the detection of wickedness, of wickedness too
artful or too powerful to be punished by the common rules of law.

The introduction of new methods of prosecution, is the natural
consequence of new schemes of villany, or new arts of evasion; nor is it
necessary that precedents should be produced, when the wisdom of the
legislature concurs in acknowledging the necessity of extraordinary
measures. Though our constitution is in the highest degree excellent, I
never yet heard that it was perfect, and whatever is not perfect may be
improved. Our laws, however wise, are yet the contrivance of human
policy; and why should we despair of adding somewhat to that which we
inherit from our ancestors? Why should we imagine, that they anticipated
every contingency, and left nothing for succeeding ages?

I think, my lords, with the highest regard both of our laws, and those
by whom they were enacted, but I look with no less veneration on this
illustrious assembly; I believe your lordships equal to your progenitors
in abilities; and therefore, since you cannot but outgo them in
experience, am confident that you may make improvements in the fabrick
which they have erected; that you may adorn it with new beauties, or
strengthen it with new supports.

It cannot, at least, be denied, that your lordships have all the power
of your ancestors; and since every law was once new, it is certain they
were far from imagining that there was always a necessity of inquiring
after precedents. If the argument drawn from the want of precedents be
now of any force, let it be proved that its force was less in any former
reign; and let it be considered how our government could have attained
its present excellence, had this house, instead of applying to every
grievance its proper remedy, been amused with turning over journals, and
looking upon every new emergence for precedents, of which it is certain
that there must have been a time in which they were not to be found.

In all regulations established by the legislature, it is sufficient that
they do not produce confusion by being inconsistent with former laws,
that they unite easily with our constitution, and do not tend to the
embarrassment of the machine of government. This consideration, my
lords, has been in a very remarkable manner regarded by those who drew
up the bill before us; a bill of which the noble duke has proved, that
it will be so far from perplexing our judicial proceedings, that it will
reconcile the law to itself, and free us from the necessity of obeying
one precept by the neglect of another.

The arguments of the noble duke are such as, in my opinion, cannot be
answered, or heard impartially without conviction. The maxims quoted by
him are each of them incontestably true; they are, on this occasion,
incompatible; and this is the only method by which they can be

Nor has he only shown the propriety of the bill by irrefragable reasons,
but has proved, likewise, that it is consistent, not only with the
constitution of our government, but with the practice of our ancestors;
he has shown, that it may be supported not only by reason, but by bills
of the same kind, enacted on occasions of far less importance.

He has proved, my lords, all that the most scrupulous inquirer can wish;
he has made it evident, that the bill would be proper, though it were
unprecedented; he has produced many precedents in support of it, and has
thereby evinced, that the only present question is, whether it is just?
To the precedents alleged by him, it has been objected, that they differ
in some particulars. But when, my lords, did any two actions, however
common, agree in every circumstance? Relations may be complicated
without end, and every new complication produces new appearances, which,
however, are always to be disregarded, while the constituent principles
remain unvaried.

If we consider the difficulties in which the opponents of the bill have
involved themselves, it will not be easy to think well of a cause, which
gives birth to such wild assertions, and extravagant opinions. They have
first, by requiring precedents, determined, that our constitution must
be henceforward for ever at a stand; and then, by declaring that no
precedents are of any weight, in which every circumstance is not
parallel to the case in debate, have debarred us from the repetition of
any occasional law; they have declared, almost in plain terms,
themselves useless, and destroyed that authority at once, which they
seem so much afraid of communicating to the commons.

But, by none of their arts of subtle distinction, my lords, have they
been able to evade the argument which arises from the conformity of this
bill to the common practice of our courts; an argument, which has
produced no other answer than loud declamations; against the indecency
of comparing with pickpockets and highwaymen, a noble person, a minister
of acknowledged merit, long graced with the favour of his sovereign, and
long invested with the highest trust.

I, my lords, am very far from pleasing myself with licentious or
indecent language; I am far from envying any man that exaltation which
he obtains either by good or by bad actions; and have no inclination of
levelling the person, whose conduct I desire to see examined, with the
profligate or infamous. Yet I cannot forbear to observe, that high rank
is an aggravation of villany; that to have enjoyed the favour of his
sovereign, is no defence of him that has abused it; and that high trust
is an honour only to that man, who, when he lays down his office, dares
stand an inquiry.

Had there been no precedent in our judicial proceedings, my lords, which
bore any resemblance to this bill, there would not from thence have
arisen any just objection. Common proceedings are established for common
occasions; and it seems to have been the principle of our ancestors,
that it is better to give ten guilty persons an opportunity of escaping
justice, than to punish one innocent person by an unjust sentence. A
principle which, perhaps, might not be erroneous in common cases, in
which only one individual was injured by another, or when the trial was,
by the law, committed to a common jury, who might easily be misled.

They might likewise imagine, my lords, that a criminal, encouraged by a
fortunate escape to a repetition of his guilt, would undoubtedly some
time fall into the hands of the law, though not extended on purpose to
seize him; and, therefore, they constituted their proceedings in such a
manner, that innocence might at least not be entrapped, though guilt
should sometimes gain a reprieve.

But in the present case, my lords, every circumstance requires a
different conduct. By the crimes which this bill is intended to detect,
not single persons, or private families, but whole nations, and all
orders of men have long been injured and oppressed; and oppressed with
such success, that the criminal has no temptation to renew his
practices; nor is there any danger of an erroneous sentence, because the
trial will be heard by this house, by persons whose integrity sets them
above corruption, and whose wisdom will not be deceived by false

This consideration, my lords, affords an unanswerable reply to those who
represent the bill as ill-concerted, because the evidence to be procured
by it, is the testimony of men, partners, by their own confession, in
the crimes which they reveal.

Every court, my lords, examines the credibility of a witness; and the
known corruption of these men may be properly pleaded at the trial,
where your lordships will balance every circumstance with your known
impartiality, and examine how far every assertion is invalidated by the
character of the witness, and how far it is confirmed by a corroboratory
concurrence of known events, or supported by other testimonies not
liable to the same exception.

Thus, my lords, it may be observed how quickly the clouds are dispersed
with which interest or perverseness have endeavoured to obscure the
truth, and how easily the strongest objections which the greatest
abilities could raise against this bill are confuted, or how apparently,
when they are closely examined, they confute themselves.

One of the objections that requires no answer is that which has been
raised with regard to the extent of the indemnity offered in the bill,
which, in the opinion of those that opposed it, ought to be restrained
to particular persons. But that it is chiefly, if not solely, intended
to be applied to those who have refused to answer the questions of the
committee, I believe every lord in this house is fully convinced; it
was, however, necessary to draw it up in general terms, lest other
artifices might have been employed, and lest, by pointing out particular
persons, opportunity might have been given to deprive the publick of
their evidence, by prevailing upon them to withdraw.

The bill was justly styled, by a noble lord, a bill to prevent _an
inquiry from being impossible_. The difficulty of inquiries for the
publick is well known; and the difficulty arises chiefly from the
inability of the people to reward their advocates, or their evidence.
The state of the court, my lords, is very different; the crown can not
only pardon, but advance those that have, on any occasion, promoted its
interest; and I hope it will not be too much power to be for once
granted to the people, if they are empowered to throw a simple
indemnification into the balance, and try whether with the slight
addition of truth, and reason, and justice, it will be able to weigh
down titles, and wealth, and power.

It has been urged, that there is danger lest this bill should become a
precedent. I hope, my lords, the same occasion will not often happen;
and whenever it shall hereafter occur, the precedent of passing the bill
will be much less dangerous than that of rejecting it.

I hope it is not necessary to say more on this occasion; yet I cannot
forbear to remind some lords of the fatal consequences which at critical
conjunctures they have often dreaded, or appeared to dread, from a
disagreement of this house with the commons. At this time, in which the
nation is engaged in war, when the whole continent is one general scene
of discord and confusion; when the wisest counsels, the firmest
unanimity, and the most vigorous measures are apparently necessary, it
might not be improper to reflect, how unseasonably we shall irritate the
commons by rejecting this bill, and how justly we shall exasperate the
people, by showing them that their complaints and remonstrances are of
no weight; that they must expect the redress of their grievances from
some other power; and that we prefer the impunity of one man to the
happiness and safety of the publick.

Lord ISLAY spoke next to the following purpose:--My lords, as there has
in this debate been very frequent mention of extraordinary cases, of new
modes of wickedness, which require new forms of procedure, and new arts
of eluding justice, which make new methods of prosecution necessary, I
cannot forbear to lay before your lordships my sentiments on this
question; sentiments not so much formed by reflection as impressed by
experience, and which I owe not to any superiour degree of penetration
into future events, but to subsequent discoveries of my own errours.

I have observed, my lords, that in every collision of parties, that
occasion on which their passions are inflamed, is always termed an
extraordinary conjuncture, an important crisis of affairs, either
because men affect to talk in strong terms of the business in which they
are engaged, for the sake of aggrandizing themselves in their own
opinion and that of the world, or because the present object appears
greatest to their sight by intercepting others, and that is imagined by
them to be really most important in itself, by which their own pleasure
is most affected.

On these extraordinary occasions, my lords, the victorious have always
endeavoured to secure their conquest, and to gratify their passions by
new laws, by laws, even in the opinion of those by whom they are
promoted, only justifiable by the present exigence. And no sooner has a
new rotation of affairs given the superiority to another party, than
another law, equally unreasonable and equally new, is found equally
necessary for a contrary purpose. Thus is our constitution violated by
both, under the pretence of securing it from the attack of each other,
and lasting evils have been admitted for the sake of averting a
temporary danger.

I have been too long acquainted with mankind to charge any party with
insincerity in their conduct, or to accuse them of affecting to
represent their disputes as more momentous than they appeared to their
own eyes. I know, my lords, how highly every man learns to value that
which he has long contended for, and how easily every man prevails upon
himself to believe the security of the publick complicated with his own.
I have no other intention in these remarks, than to show how men are
betrayed into a concurrence in measures, of which, when the ardour of
opposition has subsided, and the imaginary danger is past, they have
very seldom failed to repent.

I do not remember, my lords, any deviation from the established order of
our constitution, which has not afterwards produced remorse in those
that advised it. I have known many endeavour to obviate the evils that
might be produced by the precedents which they have contributed to
establish, by publick declarations of their repentance, and
acknowledgments of their errour; and, for my part, I take this
opportunity of declaring, that though I have more than once promoted
extraordinary bills, I do not recollect one which I would not now
oppose, nor one of which experience has not shown me, that the danger is
greater than the benefit.

I have learned, at length, my lords, that our constitution has been so
formed by the wisdom of our ancestors, that it is able to protect itself
by its own powers, without any assistance from temporary expedients,
which, like some kinds of medicines in the human body, may give it the
appearance of uncommon vigour, but which, in secret, prey upon its
noblest parts, and hurry it to a sudden decay.

But none of all the measures into which I have seen parties precipitated
by acrimony and impetuosity, have I known parallel to the bill which is
now defended in this house; a bill which I hope we shall have reason to
term the wildest effort of misguided zeal, and the most absurd project
that the enthusiasm of faction ever produced.

The particular clauses of this bill have been already examined with
great acuteness and penetration, and have all been shown to be absurd or
useless. I shall, therefore, only add this observation, that the
indemnification, however liberally offered, will be wholly, at the
disposal of those who shall receive the examinations, by whom, when such
discoveries are not made as they may happen to expect, the witnesses may
be charged with reserve and insincerity, and be prosecuted for those
crimes which could never have been known but by their own confession.

It is not impossible, but that if the bait of indemnification shall be
found insufficient to produce testimonies against the noble person, a
bill of pains and penalties may be attempted, to terrify those who are
too wise to be ensnared by specious promises; for what may not be
expected from those who have already sent their fellow-subjects to
prison, only for refusing to accuse themselves?

Nor can I discover, my lords, how the most abandoned villains will be
hindered from procuring indemnity by perjury, or what shall exclude a
conspirator against the life and government of his majesty from pardon,
if he swears, that in a plot for setting the pretender on the throne, he
was assisted by the counsels of the earl of ORFORD.

It has, indeed, been in some degree granted, that the bill requires some
amendment, by proposing that the necessary alterations may be made to
such parts of it as shall appear defective to the committee, which
would, indeed, be highly expedient, if only some particular clauses were
exceptionable; but, my lords, the intention of the bill is cruel and
oppressive; the measures by which that intention is promoted are
contrary to law, and without precedent; and the original principle is
false, as it supposes a criminal previous to the crime.

It is urged as the most pressing argument by the advocates for the bill,
that it ought to be passed to gratify the people. I know not, my lords,
upon what principles those who plead so earnestly for rigid justice, can
endeavour to influence our decisions by any other motives; or why they
think it more equitable to sacrifice any man to the resentment of the
people, than to the malice of any single person; nor can conceive why it
should be thought less criminal to sell our voices for popularity than
for preferment.

As this is, therefore, my lords, a bill contrary to all former laws, and
inconsistent with itself; as it only tends to produce a bad end by bad
means, and violates the constitution not to relieve, but to oppress; as
the parts, singly considered, are defective, and the whole grounded upon
a false principle; it neither requires any longer debate, nor deserves
any farther consideration; it is rather to be detested than criticised,
and to be rejected without any superfluous attempt for its amendment.

[The aforementioned lords were all who spoke in this debate. The
question being then put, Whether the bill should be committed? It passed
in the negative.

  Content 47, Proxies 10.--57.
  Not content 92, Proxies 17.--109.

But a protest was entered on this occasion, signed by twenty-eight
lords; the former part of it was drawn from the speech of the duke of
ARGYLE, and the latter part of it from that of lord CARTERET.]



The same day that the lords read a first time the indemnification bill,
they read also, for the first time, a bill sent from the commons,
entitled, _An Act for the better protecting and securing the trade and
navigation of this kingdom in time of war_. As this bill had a
remarkable rise, passed the commons without a division, and the end
proposed by it was so commendable, it may be proper to give some account
of it before we proceed to the debate thereon in the house of lords.

It may be remembered, that we have mentioned great cause of complaint on
account of the losses sustained by the British merchants from the
enemy's privateers, who were not sufficiently checked. The merchants and
traders of London, Bristol, and other cities, having applied to the
administration in vain, presented petitions to both houses, setting
forth, among other things, "that notwithstanding the growing insolence
of the Spanish privateers, the applications of the suffering merchants
for protection and redress, had been neglected; that numbers of his
majesty's most useful subjects have been reduced to want and
imprisonment, or, compelled by inhuman treatment, and despairing of a
cartel for the exchange of prisoners, had enlisted in the service of
Spain; that there had been various neglects and delays in the
appointment of convoys, and some of the commanders of the few that had
been granted, deserted the ships under their care at sea, and left them
as a prey to the enemy," etc.

One petition farther says, "That the want of ships of force properly
stationed, encouraged the enemy to increase the number of their

Another, "That most of the captures were almost on our coast, in the
Channel and soundings, at a time when the naval force of Britain was
greater than ever was known, a few ships of which might have ruined the
enemy's privateers."

One set of the petitioners apprehend, "that most of the captures might
have been prevented, had a few ships been properly stationed on this
side cape Finisterre, and the commanders kept to the strictest duty."

Other petitioners "are not a little alarmed, not only at the increase
and number of the Spanish privateers lately equipped, but at the
unexpected great strength the enemy have lately shown in the
Mediterranean, by which their trade must become more precarious than

The last petition delivered in was from the mayor, aldermen, and commons
of the city of London, setting forth, "that they had seen a powerful and
well-provided fleet remain inactive in our own ports, or more
ingloriously putting to sea, without the appearance of any enterprise in
view; while our trading vessels were daily exposed to the privateers of
an inconsiderable port, and a feeble enemy holds our naval power in
derision, to the ruin of trade, the enriching the enemy, and the
disgrace of the British name."

Their general request is, "that they may have regular convoys, and that
the commanders be ordered not to desert their charge when in danger,
that cruisers be properly stationed, subject to such inspection as shall
best answer the end designed."

They all concluded with praying, "that the house would make such
provision for the future security of the navigation and commerce of
these kingdoms as they shall think fit."

The petitions were severally referred to the consideration of a
committee of the whole house, and the following orders made for
necessary papers to be laid before the house.

1. An account of his majesty's ships of war which have been employed
since the beginning of last year, as cruisers for the protection of the
trade of this kingdom on this side cape Finisterre, the stations of such
ships, and how long ordered to continue thereupon, with the times of
their going to sea, and their returning into port; when such ships were
cleared, and which of them tallowed, and when respectively.

2. The journals of the commanders of such of his majesty's ships of war
as have been employed since the commencement of the present war, as
cruisers for the protection of trade on this side cape Finisterre.

3. An account of the ships of war built in any of his majesty's yards,
which have been launched since July, 1739, the times when launched, when
first put to sea, and on what services employed.

4. An account of the ships of war built in private yards for his
majesty's service, in the said time; distinguishing the times when
contracted for, when launched, when first put to sea, and on what
services employed.

5. An account of the ships and vessels purchased for his majesty's
service since the said time, distinguishing when purchased, when first
put to sea, and what services employed in.

6. An account of the ships of war appointed as convoys to the trade of
this kingdom to foreign parts, since the commencement of the present
war, distinguishing the ships appointed, and the particular services,
together with the notices given to the traders of the time prefixed for
their sailing, and the times they sailed respectively.

7. That his majesty be addressed for the report of the commissioners for
executing the office of lord high admiral to his majesty in council,
upon the petition of the merchants, relating to their losses during the
war, to be laid before the house.

8. That the schoolmaster and a mariner on board his majesty's ship, the
Duke, do attend the said committee.

Six days after these orders passed, the said accounts and report were
presented to the house by the secretary of the admiralty.

There were also laid before them copies of above one hundred letters,
from and to the secretary of state, admirals, ambassadours, consuls,
commanders of his majesty's ships, and trading vessels; from the
commissioners of the sick and hurt seamen, with heads of a cartel for
exchange of prisoners; and memorials and representations from merchants.

Also a list of ships taken since the commencement of the war, and of the
prisoners made by the enemy, also letters from several of them relating
to their treatment, and from the captain-general of the province where
the said seamen were imprisoned, relating to an exchange; several
certificates and depositions, and a proposal by the lords of the
admiralty for a general exchange of prisoners; also copies of the orders
of the commissioners of admiralty to captains and commanders on the
enemy's coast.

Petitions from the wives of seamen taken prisoners; letters to and from
the principal officers of the enemy, prisoners in Britain, relating to
the exchange.

Certificates of the discharge of several prisoners, by the enemy, on
promise that a like number of the prisoners in Britain should be

The secretary of the Admiralty also laid before the house a book of the
regulations and instructions relating to the sea-service, established by
his majesty in council.

These requisites being laid before the house of commons, they went into
a committee on the twenty-third day of their sitting, heard one of the
petitioners, several witnesses, and desired to sit again.

In the mean time were presented to the house seventeen other letters
concerning sea affairs, and an account when the East India company first
applied, since the war began, for a convoy to St. Helena, and when they
sailed, and what number of ships came under the said convoy, and on the
twenty-fifth day of sitting the committee heard more witnesses.

Next day they proceeded, when an account was brought in of the Spanish
prisoners released, by what orders, and on what conditions; also an
account of the number of seamen employed the last year, distinguishing
how many at home, and how many abroad, also of the number of ships and
vessels of war, distinguishing the rates.

The secretary of the admiralty also presented a list of the names of the
merchant ships, and the masters, as have behaved so negligently as to
delay the convoys from whom they had taken sailing orders, or that have
abandoned the same, or that have been any ways disobedient to the
instructions established for good government, with the narration of the
facts since the beginning of the war.

Also copies of the reasons given, in writing, by such commanders of his
majesty's ships as have been appointed in this war as cruisers on this
side cape Finisterre, for leaving their stations, or for coming into
port, before the time required by their orders, which papers were
sixty-one in number.

All which were referred to the said committee, and then they heard some
other evidence, and after farther proceeding desired leave to sit again.

Next day the secretary of the admiralty presented copies of all
applications for convoys for ships and cruisers, and what was done
thereon, which papers were above forty, of which eight were petitions to
get convoys for single ships.

All which papers and accounts were referred to the said committee, which
was to proceed again on the twenty-eighth day, but the houses were
desired to adjourn for fifteen days.

When the house met again, the said secretary presented copies of all
complaints made since the war began, to the commissioners of the
admiralty, against, or relating to commanders leaving the trade under
their convoy, or their stations, or for impressing seamen out of
outward-bound ships after clearance, or homeward-bound before they
reached their port, or for other misbehaviour, or injury done by them to
trade, with an account of what has been done thereupon.

These papers, including the complaints and the orders given thereupon,
which are much the greater part, with justifications from the
commanders, were in number forty; but we ought not to omit that amongst
them there is a representation of the Portugal merchants in favour of
one commander, captain Ambrose, who had taken several of the enemy's

On the thirty-third day of sitting were presented, from the office for
the sick and wounded seamen, copies of the returns from such persons as
have been empowered to pay his majesty's bounty to the British subjects,
prisoners in the ports of Spain, distinguishing the number of men paid
each month, and what ships they belonged to, and when taken.

Also an account of the number of men who have been put sick on shore
from his majesty's ships, into the hospitals last year, distinguishing
how many died, and how many were returned to the ships, or run away, or
were otherwise disposed of.

Which papers were referred to the said committee, and the house went
into it, heard farther evidence, and the chairman desired leave to sit

Accordingly they proceeded on this affair the thirty-fifth day, and
heard farther evidence.

On the thirty-seventh day more papers were laid before the house, being
three several orders issued by the admiralty to the commanders of his
majesty's ships in the ports of Portugal, or such as shall have occasion
to put into the said ports; also an estimate of the debt of the navy;
which were referred to the said committee, and the house went into it,
and came to several resolutions, which were reported the next day, and
are as follow.

The first resolution was, that it appeared to the committee, that
notwithstanding the repeated applications of the merchants for cruisers
to be properly stationed for the protection of the trade of this nation
from the privateers of Spain, the due and necessary care has not been
taken to keep a proper number of his majesty's ships employed in that
service, more especially in and near the Channel and soundings; for want
of which, many ships had been taken by the enemy, some of them of
considerable value, to the great loss of many of his majesty's subjects,
the great advantage and encouragement of the enemy, and the dishonour of
this nation. II. That the detention of the ships bound to Portugal for
near twelve months, by the refusal of protections for some time, and the
delay of convoys afterwards, gave our rivals in trade an opportunity of
introducing new species of their woollen manufactures into Portugal, to
the great detriment of this kingdom.

Upon this foundation, the house ordered that a bill be brought in for
the better protecting and securing the trade and navigation of this
kingdom in times of war; and that the lord mayor of London (since
deceased) and sir John BARNARD, do prepare and bring in the same.

On the first day of April, being the fifty-ninth of their sitting, the
lord mayor of London presented, according to order, a bill for the
better protecting and securing the trade and navigation of this kingdom
in time of war; and the same was received and read a first time, and
ordered to be read a second time, and to be printed.

By reason of some omission, we do not find when the bill was read a
second time; but, on the seventy-second sitting, a day was appointed to
go into a committee on the seventy-ninth, when they did, and made
several amendments, which were reported on the eighty-second day, and
with amendments to one of them, were agreed to, and ordered to be
engrossed. At their eighty-seventh sitting the bill was read a third
time and passed, and the lord mayor of London was ordered to carry the
bill to the lords, and desire their concurrence. And three days after it
was read by their lordships a first time, and is as follows; the words
within these marks [ ] showing how the blanks were filled up, and the
amendments made in its progress through the house of commons, with notes
of the words left out.

_An Act for the better protecting and securing of the trade and
navigation of this kingdom in times of war._

"Whereas it is necessary, in times of war, that a sufficient number of
ships should be appointed, and kept constantly employed, as cruisers, in
proper stations, for the protection and security of the trade and
navigation of this kingdom; be it enacted by the king's most excellent
majesty, by and with the advice and consent of both houses of the senate
in this present council assembled, and by the authority of the same,
that when and as often as this kingdom shall be engaged in war with any
kingdom or state in Europe, (over and above the ships of war for the
line of battle, and for convoys to remote parts,) such a number of ships
of war as shall be sufficient for the protection and security of the
merchant-ships, in their going out and returning home, shall be
constantly employed as cruisers, or for convoys, in and near the British
Channel and soundings, and in such other stations on this side cape
Finisterre, as shall by the lord high admiral, or commissioners for
executing the office of lord high admiral of Great Britain for the time
being, be judged most proper for that purpose; the aforesaid ships of
war to be careened at least [three] times in the year, or oftener, if
there be occasion; and that the seamen on board any such cruisers shall
not be turned over into any other ship or ships, but such only as shall
be appointed for cruising, or home convoys, according to the tenour of
this act.

(2.) "Provided always, and be it enacted by the authority aforesaid,
that nothing herein contained shall restrain, or be construed to
restrain, the lord high admiral or commissioners for executing the
office of lord high admiral for the time being, from directing any of
the ships which shall be appointed to be cruisers in pursuance of this
act, to be employed in the line of battle, (in case of great necessity,)
on this side cape Finisterre, without whose immediate direction, the
said ships shall be always cruising, or employed as home convoys, except
when they are careening or refitting.

(3.) "And be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, that the lord high
admiral, or commissioners for executing the office of lord high admiral
for the time being, shall, on or before the [first day of July next]
authorize and appoint a commissioner of the navy, or some one or more
person or persons, who shall constantly reside at such place or places
as his majesty shall direct; by virtue of which appointment, such person
or persons, in the place or places for which he or they shall be
appointed, shall superintend or oversee every thing relating to the
aforesaid cruisers; and shall take care that every thing necessary be
immediately provided for all and every the aforesaid cruising ships of
war, that shall come into any port by stress of weather, or to careen or
refit; and as soon as they or any of them are refitted, shall order all
or any of the said ships of war to put to sea again as soon as possible.

(4.) "And be it farther enacted by the authority aforesaid, that from
and after the said [first day of July] if any captain, or other officer
on board any of his majesty's ships of war, shall wilfully spring, carry
away, or lose any mast or masts of any such ship [Footnote: Left out,
_or ships_.], or shall make any false pretence or excuse for leaving the
station on which such ship or ships shall be appointed to cruise, or
shall return into port before the expiration of the term appointed for
his cruise, without just and sufficient reason for so doing, every
captain or officer offending in any of the aforesaid cases, [shall be
punished by fine, imprisonment, or otherwise, as the offence by a
court-martial shall be adjudged to deserve.]

(5.) "And to the intent that it may be the more easily known what
service the aforesaid cruisers shall every year perform, be it enacted
by the authority aforesaid, that the commissioner of the navy in each of
the outports, or such person or persons as shall, for that purpose, be
appointed by the lord high admiral, or commissioners for executing the
office of lord high admiral for the time being, shall transmit to him or
them, every [three months] a distinct and separate account digested into
proper columns, of the time when any of the ships appointed to be
cruisers, sailed out of port, when such ship came in, together with the
number of days, cast up, that such ship was out upon duty, and the
reasons of her putting into port, and the time and reasons of her stay
there; with an account how often, and the times when each of the said
ships have been careened every year; and that the lord high admiral, or
commissioners for executing the office of lord high admiral, for the
time being, shall cause copies of the said accounts to be laid before
both houses of the senate within [eight days] after their meeting.

(6.) "And be it farther enacted by the authority aforesaid, that the
lord high admiral, or commissioners for executing the office of lord
high admiral, for the time being, shall, on or before the said [first
day of July] nominate and appoint such a number of the ships of war, as
shall be sufficient for the purposes aforementioned, to be cruisers or
convoys on this side cape Finisterre for the current year; and shall
afterwards yearly, and every year, during the present or any future war,
between the [first day of November] and the [first day of December]
nominate and appoint a sufficient number of ships of war to be cruisers
or convoys on this side cape Finisterre for the year ensuing; and as
often as any of them shall happen to be taken or lost, shall, as soon as
may be, appoint others in the room of every ship so taken or lost.

(7.) "And whereas it is of the utmost importance to the trade of this
nation, that the captains or commanders of his majesty's ships of war
appointed for convoys to and from remote parts, should take due care of
the merchant ships committed to their charge; be it, therefore, enacted
by the authority aforesaid, that every captain or commander of any of
his majesty's ships of war, who, on or after the bill shall commence,
shall be appointed convoy or guard to any merchant ships or vessels, or
who shall have any merchant ships or vessels under his charge, do and
shall diligently attend upon such charge without delay, and in and
during the course of the voyage take the utmost care of such merchant
ships and vessels, and do and shall every evening see that the whole
number of the said merchant ships and vessels under his convoy be in
company with him; and in case he shall be obliged in the night time to
Jack, or alter his course, or lie-to, that he do and shall make the
proper signals, to give the merchant ships and vessels, under his
convoy, notice thereof; and if in the morning he shall find any of the
said merchant ships and vessels to be missing, he shall use his utmost
endeavours to rejoin them, and shall not willingly or negligently sail
away from, leave, or forsake such merchant ships or vessels, until he
has seen them safe, so far as he shall be directed to convoy them; and
in case any of the said merchant ships or vessels shall be in distress,
he shall give them all proper and necessary relief and assistance, as
far as he is able; and in case any such captain or commanding officer
shall refuse or neglect to do all or any of the matters aforesaid, every
such captain or commanding officer shall [be condemned to make
reparation of the damage to the merchants, owners, and others, as the
court of admiralty shall adjudge; and also be punished according to the
quality of his offence, as shall be adjudged fit by a court-martial.]

(8.) "And whereas it is of the utmost importance to our settlements in
America, and the trade thereof [Footnote: Left out, "in time of war."],
that the commanders of the ships stationed there, should use their best
endeavours for the protection and security of such trade, [and the
colonies there;] be it farther enacted by the authority aforesaid, that
[Footnote: Left out, "during the continuance of any such war."] none of
his majesty's ships, which shall be stationed at any of the said
settlements, shall quit or leave their stations under pretence of going
to careen or refit, or under any other pretence whatsoever, without an
especial order from the lord high admiral, or commissioners for
executing the office of lord high admiral, (or the commander in chief of
his majesty's ships of war in those seas, or in America, [Footnote:
These words were added.]) for the time being. [Footnote: Left out, "or
unless the commander or commanders of such ship or ships shall be
ordered off their station, to be employed in the line of battle in the
American seas, which shall not be done, but in cases of the greatest

(9.) "And to the end that it may appear what service the ships so
stationed shall perform, be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, that
the captain or commanding officer on board every such ship or vessel,
shall keep a distinct and separate account, digested into proper
columns, of the times when the said ship or vessel sailed out of port,
when such ship or vessel came in, the service she was upon, together
with the number of days cast up, that such ship or vessel was out upon
such duty, and shall cause the same to be fairly entered in one or more
book or books, to be kept for that purpose; such entries to be digested
in proper columns, and to be [every six months] transmitted [Footnote:
Left out, "together with the duplicates thereof."] to the captain or
commanding officer of every such station ship, to the lord high admiral,
or commissioners for executing the office of lord high admiral for the
time being, and shall also send duplicates of the said accounts at the
first opportunity.

(10.) [Footnote: This clause was added in the committee.] "And be it
farther enacted by the authority aforesaid, that the commanders of his
majesty's ships of war, on their arrival at any of the said settlements,
shall deliver a copy of the orders they shall have received from the
lord high admiral, or commissioners for executing the office of lord
high admiral of Britain for the time being, so far as they relate to the
protection of the said colonies, and of the trade of the said colonies,
to the governour and council of the respective colony or plantation
where they shall be stationed; which orders shall be entered into the
council books of such colony or plantation respectively; and the said
governour and council are hereby authorized and empowered to give such
directions in writing to the captains and commanders of such stationed
ships, as they shall think will be most for the protection and security
of their trade: and the said captains and commanders are hereby required
to conform to, and observe the same, provided the same do not contradict
the instructions they shall have received from the said lord high
admiral, or commissioners for executing the office of lord high admiral
for the time being."


The bill for the security and protection of trade and navigation being
this day read a second time in the house of lords, the earl of
WINCHELSEA, who had lately accepted the chair at the admiralty board,
rose and spoke as follows:

My lords, I know not by what accident the numerous defects and general
impropriety of this bill have escaped the attention of the other house;
nor is there any necessity for examining the motives upon which it
passed, or of inquiring whether its reception was facilitated by the
popularity of the title, the influence and authority of those by whom it
was proposed, or the imaginary defects of our present regulations, which
have been on some occasions represented to be such as it is scarcely
possible to change but for the better.

The knowledge and experience of those who concurred in sending this bill
for your lordships' approbation, cannot but produce some degree of
prepossession in its favour; for how can it be imagined, my lords, that
men of great abilities and continual opportunities of observation,
should not be well versed in questions relating chiefly to their private
interest, and discover the nearest way to their own success!

And yet, my lords, it will be found that their sagacity has, perhaps,
never so apparently forsaken them as on this occasion, that no
proposition was ever laid before this house, in which more contracted
motives were discovered, and that the bill is such as might rather have
been expected from petty traders, unacquainted with the situation of
kingdoms, the interests of princes, the arts of policy, the laws of
their own country, and the conduct of former wars; than by merchants of
extensive traffick, general correspondence, and great attainments.

Before I proceed, my lords, to confirm the character of the bill by a
distinct consideration of the particular paragraphs, and an enumeration
of the several improprieties and defects which may be found in it, I
think it not superfluous or unseasonable to remark one general errour,
common to this with all other laws of the same kind, the errour of
prescribing rules to military operations, of attempting to fix what is,
in its own nature, variable, as it must depend upon external causes to
which the British legislature has yet found no means of extending its

To direct, upon remote conjectures and uncertain prospects, the conduct
of a commander, is, in my opinion, my lords, not more rational than to
trace upon a chart the course of a ship, and pronounce it criminal to
deviate from it. The one supposes a foreknowledge of the motions of the
wind, and the other of the counsels of our enemies; nor can any thing be
expected from such regulations, but overthrow and disgrace. I believe,
my lords, that in running over the histories of the world, and examining
the originals of the mightiest empires, and the sudden revolutions which
have been produced by the overpowering torrents of war, which, at
different periods of time, have swept the powers of the earth before
them, it will be found that all rapid conquests, and sudden extensions
of empire, have been effected by sovereign princes at the head of armies
which acted only by immediate command, that few memorable actions have
been performed by delegated commanders, and that of those few whose
names have descended to posterity, those have generally been most
successful who were invested with the largest powers, who acted without
control, and were at liberty to snatch every opportunity, and improve
every favourable conjuncture, without any necessity of communicating
their schemes, of waiting for the result of tedious deliberations, or of
soliciting a relaxation of former orders.

But, my lords, though, perhaps, all positive prescriptions of the
conduct of military undertakings have a tendency rather to obstruct than
promote success, yet as they may be drawn up with different degrees of
wisdom and sagacity, they may have a greater or less appearance of
usefulness and reason. Such as have been well concerted may afford
useful hints, though they ought not to be enacted with indispensable
obligations. And to consider even those in which less proofs of skill
and foresight can be discovered, may have, at least, this advantage,
that the proposals may not be speedily repeated, nor our counsels
embarrassed with absurd expedients. I shall, therefore, lay before your
lordships my opinion of every paragraph, and show what are the
objections which may be raised, both to the whole bill in general, and
to its particular clauses.

To the bill in general, it must be objected, that it is filled with
vague expressions, and ideas so indeterminate, that no man can tell when
he has obeyed it. Here are many rules ordered to be observed, when
_there shall be no just and sufficient reason_ for neglecting them, and
some operations to be performed as often _as there shall be occasion,_
and ships are to cruise in a certain latitude, unless _there is a
necessity of employing them elsewhere._

Did not the title of this bill, my lords, give it some claim to a
serious consideration; and did not the integrity and capacity of those
by whom it was drawn up, exempt them from contempt and ridicule, I
should be inclined to treat a law like this with some degree of levity;
for who, my lords, can be serious when his consent is desired to a bill,
by which it is enacted, that men shall act on certain occasions, as they
shall think most expedient?

Nor is this, my lords, the only instance of precipitancy and want of
consideration, for many of the injunctions are without any penal
sanction; so that though we should pass this bill with the greatest
unanimity, we should only declare our opinion, or offer our advice, but
should make no law, or what, with regard to the purposes of government,
is the same, a law which may be broken without danger.

But general objections, my lords, will naturally produce general
evasions; and a debate may be prolonged without producing any clear view
of the subject, or any satisfactory decision of a single question: I
shall, therefore, endeavour to range my objections in order, and, by
examining singly every paragraph of the bill, show the weakness of some
expedients, the superfluity of others, and the general unfitness of the
whole to produce the protection and security intended by it.

In the first clause alone may be found instances of all the
improprieties which I have mentioned to your lordships. It is proposed
that in a time of war between this empire and any other state, such a
number of ships shall be employed as cruisers or convoys in the Channel,
as the admiralty shall judge most proper for that purpose. What is this,
my lords, but to continue to the admiralty the power which has been
always executed? What is it but to enact that the ships shall be
stationed in time of war as the commissioners of the admiralty shall
determine and direct?

Of these ships, it is farther enacted, that they shall be careened three
times a-year, or oftener if there shall be occasion; but it is not
declared who shall judge of the necessity of careening, or who shall be
punished for the neglect of it when it is requisite, or for the
permission or command of it when it is superfluous.

There is yet another regulation, my lords, in this clause, which ought
not to be passed without remark. It is provided, that the sailors
employed in the cruisers and convoys in the Channel, shall not be turned
over but to other cruisers and convoys; by which, I suppose, it was
intended, that our outguards should be prevented from being weakened,
and that our merchants should never be destitute of protection; an end
truly laudable, and which deserves to be promoted by some establishment
better concerted. The expedient now proposed, seems to have been
contrived upon the supposition that the admiralty may not always be very
solicitous for the safety of the merchants, and that, therefore, it is
necessary to secure them by a law from the danger of being deprived of
protection; for, upon the present establishment, the removal of men from
one ship to another must be made by the permission of the admiralty; and
when the right of such permission shall by this law be taken away, what
new security will the merchants obtain? The admiralty will still have
the power, though not of turning over the men, yet of recalling the
ships, and commerce suffer equally in either case.

By the second clause, my lords, there is still a power reserved to the
admiralty, of dismissing these guardians of commerce from their
stations, and employing them _in case of great necessity_ in the line of
battle, on this side cape Finisterre. Not to cavil, my lords, at the
term of _great necessity,_ of which it is apparent that the
commissioners of the admiralty are to judge, I would desire to be
informed what measures are to be taken, if a royal navy should unluckily
rove beyond this cape, which is marked out as the utmost bound of the
power of the admiralty, and should there be reduced to the necessity of
engaging desperately with a superiour force, or retiring ignominiously
before it. Are not our ships to pass a single league beyond their
limits, in the honour or preservation of their country? Are they to lie
unactive within the sound of the battle, and wait for their enemies on
this side the cape?

The third clause, my lords, is, if not absurd like the former, yet so
imperfectly drawn up, that it can produce no advantage; for of what use
will it be to station an officer _where his majesty shall think fit?_ At
all the royal docks there are officers already stationed, and in any
other place what can an officer, deputed by his majesty, do more than
hire workmen, who will as cheerfully and as diligently serve any other
person? And why may not the captain of the vessel procure necessaries
for money, without the assistance of a commissioner?

In the fourth clause, my lords, nothing is proposed but what is every
day practised, nor any authority conferred upon the court of admiralty,
than that which it always possessed, of punishing those who disobey
their orders. The provision against the crime of wilfully springing a
mast, is at least useless; for when did any man admit that he sprung his
mast by design? Or why should it be imagined that such an act of
wickedness, such flagrant breach of trust, and apparent desertion of
duty, would in the present state of the navy escape the severest
punishment? Would not all the officers and mariners on board the ship
see that such a thing was wilfully done? Would not they cry out--"You
are springing the mast," and prevent it, or discover the crime, and
demand punishment?

The fifth clause, my lords, is without any penal sanction, and,
therefore, cannot be compulsive; nor is any thing of importance proposed
in it, which is not already in the power of the senate. Either house may
now demand an account of the stations and employments of the ships of
war; nor does the senate now omit to examine the conduct of our naval
affairs, but because our attention is diverted by more important
employments, which will not by this bill be contracted or facilitated.

The use of the provision in the sixth clause, my lords, I am not able to
conceive; for to what purpose, my lords, should the ships appointed for
any particular service be nominated at any stated time? What consequence
can such declarations of our designs produce, but that of informing our
enemies what force they ought to provide against us? In war, my lords,
that commander has generally been esteemed most prudent, who keeps his
designs most secret, and assaults the enemy in an unguarded quarter,
with superiour and unexpected strength.

In the seventh clause, many regulations are prescribed to the commanders
of those ships which are appointed to convoy the trading vessels. These
regulations, my lords, are not all equally unreasonable, but some of
them are such as it may, on many occasions, be impossible for the
commanders of his majesty's ships to observe in such a manner as that
the masters of merchant ships may not imagine themselves neglected or
forsaken. The captain of the convoy may be, therefore, harassed by them
with prosecutions, in which it may be difficult to make his innocence
appear. The convoy may be sometimes accused of deserting the traders,
when the traders in reality have forsaken the convoy, in confidence that
they should either arrive safe at the port without protection, or be
able, if they should happen to fall into the enemy's hands, to charge
their misfortune upon the negligence of their protector.

The eighth clause, my lords, is so far from being such as might be
expected from merchants, that it seems rather to have been drawn up by
men who never saw the sea, nor heard of the violence of a storm. For who
that had the slightest idea of the uncertainty and hazard of a sailor's
condition, who that had been ever told of a shipwreck, or but looked on
the pictures of naval distress, would propose that no ship should retire
to a harbour, or quit the station to which it was assigned, _on any
pretence whatsoever_ without permission, which sometimes could not be
obtained in many months, and which never could be received soon enough
to allow of a remedy for sudden disasters, or pressing calamities. It
might with equal reason be enacted, that no man should extinguish a fire
without an act of the senate, or repel a thief from his window, without
a commission of array.

It is happy, my lords, that this clause is not enforced by a penalty,
and, therefore, can never have the obligatory sanction of a law; but
since it may reasonably be supposed, that the authors of it intended
that the observation should be by some means or other enjoined, let us
examine how much security it would add to our navigation, and how much
strength to our naval power, if the breach of it had been made capital,
which is in itself by no means unreasonable; for what punishment less
than death can secure the observation of a law, which, without the
hazard of life, cannot be obeyed?

Let us, therefore, my lords, suppose a crew of gallant sailors surprised
in their cruise by such a hurricane as is frequent in the American seas,
which the highest perfection of skill, and the utmost exertion of
industry has scarcely enabled them to escape; let us consider them now
with their masts broken, their ship shattered, and their artillery
thrown into the sea, unable any longer either to oppose an enemy, or to
resist the waves, and yet forbidden to approach the land, and cut off
from all possibility of relief, till they have represented their
distress to some distant power, and received a gracious permission to
save their lives.

Misery like this, my lords, admits no exaggeration, nor need I dwell
long on the absurdity of establishing regulations which cannot be
observed, and which if they were enforced by any sanctions,
proportioned, as all penal sanctions ought to be, to the temptations of
violating them, must drive all our sailors into foreign service, or urge
them, upon the first distress, to defiance of law, and fill America with
pirates, and with rebels.

By the ninth clause, my lords, nothing is proposed but a relaxation of
the present discipline. It requires, that the commanders of ships of war
shall send only once in six months those accounts of their conduct and
their service, which they are at present obliged to transmit by every
ship that returns from America; so that by passing this bill, we shall
only be disabled from receiving regular and seasonable informations of
the transactions of our distant squadrons and colonies, shall be
disturbed with groundless suspicions, and tortured with unnecessary

I have arrived at length at the last clause, a clause, my lords, worthy
to be the concluding paragraph of a bill like this; a clause in which
the power of the admiralty is communicated to the governours of our
colonies; men, my lords, not hitherto much celebrated for their
superiour wisdom, moderation, or integrity; of whom, at least, it is no
reproach to assert, that they are known to be, for the most part, wholly
unacquainted with maritime affairs, and very little famed for military
knowledge; and of whom it is above all to be considered, that they
generally commence merchants at their arrival in America, and may more
probably direct ships sent to guard the colonies, to stations in which
they may preserve their own vessels, than to those where they may
contribute most to the general security of trade.

Thus my lords, I have examined without prejudice every paragraph of this
bill, and believe, that from the objections which I have made, it
appears now plainly to your lordships, that all the regulations which
are of any use, are such as are already established by long custom, or
by former statutes; and such, therefore, as it is unnecessary to mention
in a new law; and that whatever is here to be found new, is absurd,
unintelligible, or pernicious.

This bill, my lords, is said to be founded on the act made for the same
purpose, in the wars of the queen Anne; but I cannot forbear to observe,
that the original law, though not one of those to which much of the
success of that war is to be ascribed, was drawn up with more
discernment than the bill before us. It was, at least, intelligible; the
number of cruisers was limited, and it was, therefore, possible to know
when it was obeyed; but of this bill I can confidently assert, that as
no man can understand, so no man can observe it.

I have spoken more largely, my lords, on this occasion, because this
bill relates particularly to my present employment, in which, as I
desire to do my duty, I desire to know it; and, surely, I cannot be
condemned by your lordships for opposing a bill, of which the only
tendency is to make my province difficult, to render one part of my
office inconsistent with another, and engage me in the task of
superintending the execution of impracticable measures.

What influence my arguments will have upon your lordships, I cannot
foresee. As every man flatters himself that his own opinions are right,
I hope to find this house concurring in my sentiments; but whatever may
be the determination of your lordships, I am so fully convinced of the
pernicious tendency of this bill, and the embarrassments which must be
produced by an attempt to execute it, that if it be not rejected by this
house, I shall willingly resign my office to others of more courage, or
of greater abilities; for I can have no hopes of performing my duty
under these restrictions, either to my own honour, or to the advantage
of my country.

The duke of BEDFORD spoke next, to the following effect:--My lords,
though the noble lord has produced very specious arguments against every
paragraph of the bill before us, and though many of his observations are
just, and some of his objections not easily to be answered, yet I cannot
admit that it will produce those fatal consequences which he seems to
foresee, nor am yet convinced that it will be either pernicious or

It has always, my lords, been the practice of this house, to attend to
every proposal for the publick advantage, to consider it without any
regard to the character of those by whom it is offered, and to approve
or reject it upon no other motives than those of justice and reason.

The same equity and prudence has always influenced your lordships to
distinguish between the several parts of the same bill; to reject those
expedients, of which, however plausible, either experience or reason may
discover the impropriety, and to retain those from which any real
benefit can reasonably be expected. We should never throw away gold
because it is mingled with dross, or refuse to promote the happiness of
the nation, because the expedients which were offered for that end
happened to be conjoined with some others of a disputable nature.

By the prosecution of this method, a method, my lords, too rational and
just to be neglected or forgotten, I doubt not but this bill, which, as
I shall readily admit, is not yet perfect, may be improved into a law,
from which the nation will receive great advantages, by which our trade
will be extended, and our riches increased.

Many of the clauses, my lords, may, in my opinion, admit of an easy
vindication, others may be amended by very slight alterations, and very
few are either wholly useless, or manifestly improper.

The chief defect of the first clause is such, that the noble lord has,
by declaring his disapprobation of it, given a very uncommon proof of
his integrity, disinterestedness, and moderation; for it is imperfect
only by placing too much confidence in the admiralty, which is left in
full power to determine the number of cruisers in or near the Channel
and soundings.

The noble lord has remarked, that the act of queen Anne, on which the
present bill is founded, exacted a determinate number of ships to be
employed in this particular service, and that it was, therefore, more
prudently drawn up than the present bill. But I cannot see the wisdom of
diminishing the authority of the lord high admiral; for had that act
been extended in the same manner to other services, it would have left
him only the name and shadow of an office, without power and without

This clause, my lords, rightly understood, is only a declaration of
confidence in his majesty's officers, an evident confession of their
abilities to discern the interest of the publick, and of their zeal for
the prosecution of it.

With as little reason, my lords, can it be objected, that the ships are
required to be careened three times a-year. The necessity of careening
frequently those ships, of which the chief use arises from their
celerity, every sailor can declare to your lordships; nor will any man
whom his employments or his amusements have made acquainted with
navigation, allege that any thing is proposed in the bill, which it
would not be detrimental to the publick service to neglect.

It has been objected by the noble lord, that they are directed to be
careened _oftener, if there be occasion_; terms by which a discretionary
power is implied, of which yet it does not appear in whose hands it is
lodged. Let us consider, my lords, what inconvenience can arise from the
clause as it now stands, and what corruption or negligence can be
encouraged by it.

The discretionary right of bringing the ship into the ports to be
careened oftener than thrice a-year, must be, without controversy,
placed in the captain; for none but those that are in the ship can
discover the necessity of careening it, or know the inconveniencies that
are produced by the adhesion of extraneous substances to its sides and

I own, my lords, it may be objected, that every captain will, by this
clause, be furnished with an excuse for deserting his station at
pleasure; that under pretence of uncommon ardour to pursue the enemy, he
may waste his time in endless preparations for expedition; that he may
loiter in the port to careen his ship; that before it is foul he may
bring it back again, and employ the crew in the same operation; and that
our merchants may be taken at the mouth of the harbours in which our
ships of war lie to be careened.

But, my lords, it is to be remembered, that in the third clause a
commissioner is appointed, by whom accounts are regularly to be
transmitted to the admiralty, of the arrival and departure of every
ship, and by whom the conduct of every captain is to be inspected; and
that he may easily detect such truant commanders, as shall careen their
ships only for the sake of deserting their stations.

Nor can the merchants suffer by any negligence or corruption of the
captains, because it is intended that the place of every ship returning
into port shall be supplied by another; and that the same number shall
be always in the same station, unless more important service makes them
more necessary in another place.

This proviso, my lords, a proviso undoubtedly reasonable, is established
in the second clause, but has not had the good fortune to escape the
censure of the noble lord, who has inquired, what must be the conduct of
the commanders of cruising vessels, if a seafight should happen beyond
the cape, which they are in this clause forbidden to pass?

That the clause may admit of expressions not only more proper, but more
agreeable to the intention of those by whom it was drawn up, I cannot
deny; for I suppose it very far from their design to limit the
operations of our navy to any part of the ocean, and am confident that
they meant only that the cruisers should not be despatched to such a
distance from their stations, as that our coasts should be left long
unguarded, or the enemy have time to collect his forces, and pour his
navies or his privateers upon our defenceless traders.

If by the commissioners mentioned in the third clause be intended a new
swarm of officers, the proposition is such as I confess myself very far
from approving; for it will be to little purpose that we protect the
trade, if we invent new commissioners to devour its profits; nor can we
hope for any other consequence from additional wealth, if it be procured
by increasing the influence of the crown, but that we should become a
more tempting prey to the harpies of a court.

But, my lords, to accomplish all that is intended by this clause, there
is not any need of new officers; for there are not many ports in which
ships of war can be commodiously careened, and perhaps there is not one
which can be used for this purpose, in which there is not already some
officer of the crown, whose employment allows him leisure sufficient for
the execution of a new charge, and whose present salary will afford an
ample recompense for some casual addition of employment.

The fourth clause, in which is provided that no commander shall wilfully
spring his mast, or desert his station, is such as I should be willing,
with the noble lord, to think unnecessary; but must appeal to your
lordships, whether the late conduct of the convoys has not too evidently
shown the defect of our present establishment.

The injuries, my lords, which the publick may suffer by the negligence
of the commanders of the ships of war, are such as it is worthy of the
legislature to obviate with the utmost caution; and, therefore, it is by
no means improper to enact a punishment for those who shall, upon any
false pretences, leave their station; for though such neglect of duty
is, in the present state of our naval establishment, considered as
disreputable and irregular, yet it does not appear that it has been
censured with the detestation which it deserves, or punished with the
severity necessary to its prevention.

It is observed, my lords, with relation to the following paragraph, that
either house may, at present, require accounts of the conduct of the
captains of the navy, and that, therefore, it is unnecessary to provide,
by any new law, that they shall be laid before them; but if it be
considered, my lords, how many inquiries, which we have a right to make,
are year after year constantly omitted, and how many may be excited by
curiosity to read accounts which lie before them, who yet will not move
the house to demand the accounts, or engage in the debate which such a
motion may produce, it will not be thought unnecessary to provide, that
they shall be subject to examination without the formality of a regular

As to the sixth clause, my lords, which regards the nomination of
convoys at a certain time, I can discover no reasonable objection to
such a provision, or none that can preponderate against the advantages
which may arise from it. By the certain establishment of convoys, the
value of insurance may be nearly fixed; merchants will know what
confidence is to be reposed in the force of the ships, and, what they
have, perhaps, had of late equal reason to examine, how much trust can
be placed in the fidelity of the commanders.

The nomination of convoys, my lords, is, in my opinion, more likely to
affright our enemies, and to deter their attempts, than to encourage
them by the information which it will afford them; for nothing but our
own negligence can conceal from us the naval strength of any power on
earth; and we may always, while we are careful to preserve our maritime
superiority, protect our merchants so powerfully, that none of our
enemies shall be incited to attack them by the knowledge of the number
and force of the ships appointed for their defence.

I come now, my lords, to the seventh clause; and surely to ascertain the
duties of the captains to whose protection our trading vessels are
intrusted, cannot appear superfluous to any of your lordships, who have
read the lists of our losses, heard the complaints of our merchants, or
made any inquiry into the conduct of our sea captains. There is, I fear,
too much reason to believe, that some of them have, with premeditated
design, deserted the traders in places where they have known them most
exposed to the incursions of the enemy; and it is to the last degree
evident, that others have manifested such contempt of the merchants, and
such a disregard of their interest, as may most justly expose them to
the suspicion of very criminal negligence, of negligence which no
community can be too watchful against, or too severely punish.

It has been affirmed by the noble lord, that it is not equitable to
subject the commanders of convoys to penalties for the loss of the
trading vessels, which may, perhaps, either rashly or negligently quit
their protection. That it is not reasonable to subject them to
penalties, is undoubtedly true; but, my lords, it is far from being
equally certain, that it is not just to expose them to a trial, in a
case in which it must be almost impossible to determine falsely; in a
case where the crews of, perhaps, twenty ships may be called as
witnesses of their conduct, and where none, but those whose ship is
lost, can be under the least temptation to offer a false testimony
against them.

On this occasion, my lords, it may not be improper to obviate the
objection produced by the seeming omission of penal sanctions, which is
only another proof of implicit confidence in the officers of the
admiralty, who have already the power, allowed to military courts, of
proceeding against those who shall deviate from their orders. This
power, which is in a great degree discretionary, it was thought improper
to limit, by ascertaining the punishment of crimes, which so many
circumstances may aggravate or diminish; and, therefore, in my opinion,
this clause is far from being so defective as the noble lord represented

The last three clauses, by which the ships in America are prohibited to
leave their station, by which it is required that accounts should be
once in six months transmitted to the admiralty, and by which the
captains are subjected to the command of the governours of our colonies,
are, in my opinion, justly to be censured. The first is impossible to be
observed, the second is unnecessary, and the third will probably produce
more inconveniencies than benefits.

Thus, my lords, I have endeavoured to show, that this bill, though not
perfect, is yet such as, with some emendations, may produce great
advantages to the traders of this empire. For, though it is undoubtedly
a just observation, that the success of military attempts cannot be
promoted by rigid restrictions and minute regulations, yet it is equally
certain that no nation has yet been so fortunate as to be served by men
of integrity superiour to laws, or of wisdom superiour to instructions;
and every government has found it necessary to direct the conduct of its
officers by general rules, though they have been allowed to comply with
particular circumstances, and to give way to sudden accidents.

I think it, therefore, my lords, necessary to propose, that this bill
shall be more particularly examined in a committee, that, after having
received the necessary explanations and amendments, it may be referred
again to the other house.

Lord DELAWARE rose next, and spoke to the purpose following:--My lords,
the noble duke has, by his arguments in favour of this bill, given a
very eminent proof of great abilities; he has shown every clause in that
light which may least expose to view its improprieties and defects; but
has at length only shown, that it is not impossible to make a useful
law, for the purposes mentioned in the title of this bill; not that any
of the expedients, now proposed, will afford the desired advantage to
the publick, or obviate any of the inconveniencies of which the traders
have been so long and so importunately complaining.

This bill, my lords, is, indeed, founded upon a law made in a reign
celebrated for the wisdom of our conduct and the success of our arms;
but it will not, I suppose, be asserted, that nothing was, even in that
period, ill conducted; nor will it be an argument, sufficient for the
justification of an expedient, that it was practised in the victorious
reign of queen Anne.

If we inquire into the consequences of that law, we shall find no
inducement to revive it on this or any future occasion. For it had no
other effect than that of exposing us to our enemies by dividing our
forces; a disadvantage of which we soon found the effects, by the loss
of two large ships of seventy guns, and of a multitude of trading
vessels, which, by that diminution of our naval armament, necessarily
fell into the hands of privateers and small cruisers, that ravaged the
ocean without fear or molestation.

If we examine the present establishment of our navy, my lords, it will
be discovered, that nothing is proposed in this bill, which is not more
efficaciously performed by the methods now in use, and more judiciously
established by laws, of which long experience has shown the usefulness.
This, my lords, will easily appear from the perusal of the orders which
every commander of a convoy regularly receives, and of the printed
rules, established by his majesty in council, for the royal navy.

In these, my lords, much more is comprehended than can properly be
inferred in a law not occasionally variable; nor do I think any thing
omitted, which an experienced and candid inquirer will think useful to
the increase of our naval strength, or necessary to the protection of
our commerce.

In considering this bill, I shall not trouble your lordships with a
minute consideration of every single paragraph, though every paragraph
might furnish opportunity for animadversions; but shall content myself
with endeavouring to evince the reasonableness of some of the objections
made by the noble lord who spoke first, and enforcing his opinion with
such arguments as have occurred to me, though, indeed, it requires no
uncommon sagacity to discover, or superiour skill in ratiocination to
prove, that where this bill will produce any alteration in our present
scheme, it will manifestly change it for the worse.

For surely, my lords, it will not be necessary to show, by any elaborate
and refined reasoning, the absurdity of confining cruisers to particular
stations, with an absolute prohibition to depart from them, whatever may
be the certainty of destruction, or prospect of advantage.

If the intention of cruising ships is to annoy the enemies of the
nation, ought they to be deprived of the liberty of pursuing them? If
they are designed for the protection of our merchants, must they not be
allowed to attend them till they are out of danger.

Every one, my lords, has had opportunities of observing, that there are
men who are wholly engrossed by the present moment, and who, if they can
procure immoderate profit, or escape any impending danger, are without
the least solicitude with regard to futurity, and who, therefore, live
only by the hour, without any general scheme of conduct, or solid
foundation of lasting happiness, and who, consequently, are for ever
obliged to vary their measures, and obviate every new accident by some
new contrivance.

By men of this disposition, my lords, a temper by which they are
certainly very little qualified for legislators, the bill now before us
seems to have been drawn up; for their attention is evidently so engaged
by the present occurrences, that there is no place left for any regard
to distant contingencies. The conclusion of this war is to them the
period of human existence, the end of all discord and all policy. They
consider Spain as the only enemy with whom we can ever be at variance,
and have, therefore, drawn up a law, a law without any limitation of
time, to enable us to oppose her. They have with great industry and long
searches discovered, that cruisers on this side cape Finisterre, may be
of use against the Spaniards, and propose, therefore, that in all times
of war they are to be despatched to that individual station, though we
should be engaged in disputes with the northern crowns, or fit out
fleets to make conquests in the East Indies.

In all our wars, my lords, however judiciously concerted, and however
happily concluded, the pleasures of success have been abated by the
mortification of losses, and some complaints have been at all times
mingled with the shouts of triumph. How much soever the glory of the
nation has been elevated, the fortunes of particular persons have been
impaired, and those have never thought themselves recompensed by the
general advantages of the publick, who have suffered by the acquisition
of them; they have always imagined themselves marked out for ruin by
malevolence and resentment, and have concluded that those disasters
which fell upon them only by the common chance of war, were brought on
them by negligence or design.

The losses of our merchants in the present war must be acknowledged to
have been more than common, but if we examine accurately into the causes
that may be assigned for so great a number of captures, we shall find
them such as this law will have no tendency to remove, such as might be
easily imagined before the commencement of hostilities, and such as it
will be extremely difficult on any future occasion of the same kind, to
hinder from producing the same effects.

The first and greatest cause, my lords, of the number of our losses, is
the number of our ships, which cannot all be sufficiently protected. The
extent, therefore, of our commerce, in proportion to that of our
enemies, exposes us to double disadvantage; we necessarily lie open in
more parts to the depredations of privateers, and have no encouragement
to attempt reprisals, because they have few ships of value to be seized.
The profit of our commerce naturally withholds our sailors from our
ships of war, and makes part of our navy an idle show; the certainty of
plunder incites them to turn their merchant ships into cruisers, and to
suspend their trade for more profitable employment. Thus they at once
increase the number of plunderers, and take away from us the opportunity
of repairing our losses by the same practice.

And, my lords, if the losses of our merchants have been greater than in
former wars, our trade is more extensive, and our ships far more
numerous. Nor is it to be forgotten that a very important part of our
commerce is carried on before the eyes of the Spaniards, so that they
may issue out upon our merchants from their own coasts, and retire
immediately beyond danger of pursuit.

But, my lords, neither the situation of Spain, nor the extent of our
commerce, would have made this war so destructive, had not our merchants
sometimes facilitated the attempts of our enemies by their own
negligence or avarice.

I have been informed, my lords, that as the masters of trading vessels
complain of having been deserted by their convoys, the captains of the
ships of war have, in their turn, exhibited such representations of the
conduct of the trading masters, as may prove that their caution is not
proportioned to their clamour, and that in however melancholy terms they
may recount the miseries of captivity, the calamities of ruined
families, and the interruption of the trade of Britain, they will not
endeavour to escape their enemies at the expense of much circumspection,
and that the prospect of no large profit will be sufficient to
overbalance the danger of those evils which they so pathetically lament.

It is not uncommon, my lords, when the fleet has entered the open seas,
for the traders to take different courses both from the convoy and from
each other, and to disperse themselves beyond the possibility of
receiving assistance in danger or distress; and what wonder is it if
part of them be lost, since only part of them can be protected?

It may be imagined, my lords, that this is only an excuse forged by the
commanders to cover their own negligence or treachery. It may be asked,
what motives could induce the merchants to expose themselves to
unnecessary dangers, or what proofs they have ever given of such wild
negligence of their own interest or safety, as that they should be
suspected of rushing precipitately into the jaws of rapine?

This, my lords, is an objection specious in itself, and such as those
who have not inquired into the present state of our traffick will not
very readily discover to be fallacious; but it may easily be removed, by
showing that the danger of being taken by the enemy is generally not so
great to those who have the direction of the ship as it is commonly

By the present custom of insurance, my lords, the merchant exempts
himself from the hazard of great losses, and if he insures so much of
the value of the ship and cargo, that the chance of arriving first at
market is equivalent to the remaining part, what shall hinder him from
pressing forward at all events, and directing his course intrepidly
through seas crowded with enemies?

It is well known, my lords, that there is, in a great part of mankind, a
secret malignity, which makes one unwilling to contribute to the
advantage of another, even when his own interest will suffer no
diminution; nor is it to be imagined, that this disposition is less
predominant in traders than in the other classes of the community,
though it is exerted on different occasions. The envy of one part of
mankind is excited by reputation, or interest, or dignity, or power. The
trader, for the most part, envies nothing but money, in which he has
been taught from his infancy that every human excellence is
comprehended, and contributes to the increase of the riches of another,
with the same unwillingness with which a soldier would concur in the
advancement of an inferiour officer to a post of higher rank and
authority than his own.

For this reason, my lords, there is generally a malevolence in the
merchant against the insurer, whom he considers as an idle caterpillar,
living without industry upon the labours of others, and, therefore, when
he lays down the sum stipulated for security, he is almost in suspense,
whether he should not prefer the loss of the remaining part of the value
of his vessel to the mortification of seeing the insurer enjoy that
money, which fear and caution have influenced him to pay.

This disposition, undoubtedly, inclines him to proceed with less regard
to his own security, and betrays him into dangers which it was, at
least, possible to avoid; for to what purpose, says he, have I insured
my ship if I am not to be set free from the necessity of anxiety and
caution? If I arrive safely at the port, I shall dispose of my
commodities with uncommon advantage; if I miscarry, the insurer will at
least suffer with me, and be deservedly punished for his suspicions and

I doubt not but some of your lordships will imagine, that I am now
indulging chimerical speculations, that I am ascribing great force to
weak motives, and supposing men to act upon principles which, in
reality, never operated in the human breast. When I think
disadvantageously of others, my lords, I am, indeed, always desirous to
find myself mistaken, and shall be pleased to hear on this occasion from
any of your lordships, who have conversed at large among mankind, that
it is not common for one man to neglect his own interest for fear of
promoting that of another. In the present question, my lords, I have
only supposed that envy may be one motive among many, and wish its
influence were so small, as that it might have been less proper to
mention it.

The practice of insurance, my lords, whether it contributes or not to
the number of the captures, undoubtedly increases the clamour which they
occasion; for as the loss is extended, the complaint is multiplied, and
both the merchant and insurer take the liberty of censuring the conduct
of the naval officers, and of condemning the measures of the government.
The ministry is charged with neglecting the protection of commerce, with
oppressing the merchants, and with conniving at the enemy's
preparations; that they who most eagerly solicited the war, may be the
first that shall repent it.

Another cause of the frequency of our losses in the present war, is the
general circulation of intelligence throughout Europe, by which it is
made impossible to conceal from our enemies the state of our armies, our
navies, or our trade. Every regiment that is raised, every ship that is
built, every fleet of trading vessels that lies waiting for the wind, is
minutely registered in the papers of the week, and accounts of it
transmitted to every nation of the world, where curiosity or interest
will pay for information. The Spaniards, therefore, need only regulate
their schemes according to their instructions from Britain, and watch
those fleets which are frequently sent out, for they may be confident
that some masters will wander from their protectors, enticed by avarice,
negligence, or temerity, and that they shall have opportunities of
enriching themselves without the necessity of engaging the convoy.

To protect ships which are to be steered each at the will of the master,
is no less impossible, my lords, than to conduct an army of which every
private man is at liberty to march according to his own caprice, to form
and pursue his own plan of operation, and to dispute and neglect the
orders of his leader. Nor is it more reasonable to subject the captains
of the ships of war to penalties for the loss of a vessel, over which
they have no authority, than to require from an officer in the army an
account of the lives of men, who perished by disobeying his commands.

In my opinion, my lords, we might, with far greater probability of
success, revive a precedent that may be found in the reign of king
William, in which it was appointed by an order of council, that the name
of every ship which went out with a convoy should be registered, and
that the owners should give security to provide a sufficient number of
arms and a proper quantity of ammunition to assist the imperial ships in
annoying or repelling the enemy; with one injunction more of the utmost
importance to the efficacious protection of our commerce, and which,
therefore, in every war ought to be repeated and enforced; an injunction
by which the masters of the ships of trade were required to obey the
directions of the commander of the convoy.

That some measures ought to be concerted for the preservation of our
trade I am very far from denying, and shall willingly concur in such as
shall to me appear likely to promote the end proposed by them. Our
losses, my lords, are undoubtedly great, though I believe far less than
they are reported by discontent and malevolence; for if a ship be
delayed by an accidental hinderance, or kept back by contrary winds for
a few days, there are men so watchful to snatch every opportunity of
reproaching the measures of the government, that a clamour is
immediately raised, the ship is taken, the merchants are sacrificed, and
the nation betrayed.

While this report is conveyed from one to another, and, like other
falsehoods, increasing in its progress; while every man adds some
circumstance of exaggeration, or some new proof of the treachery of the
ministry, the ship enters the port, and puts an end, indeed, to the
anxiety of the owners and insurers, but by no means pacifies the people,
or removes their prejudices against the conduct of their governours; for
as no man acknowledges himself the first author of the report, no man
thinks himself under any obligation to retract or confute it, and the
passions of the multitude, being once in commotion, cannot be calmed
before another opportunity of the same kind may be offered for agitating
them afresh.

To the expectations of the people, my lords, it is always proper to have
some regard, nor is there any valuable use of power but that of
promoting happiness, and preventing or removing calamities; but we are
not to endeavour to pacify them by the appearance of redress, which, in
reality, will only increase those evils of which they complain, nor to
depress the reputation of this assembly by passing laws which the
experience of a single month will prove to be of no use.

Of this kind, my lords, the bill now before us has been shown by the
noble lord that spoke first on this occasion; by whom every clause has
been discovered to be either defective or unnecessary, and who has
evinced, beyond all possibility of reply, that the regulations here
proposed can be divided only into two kinds, of which one is already
established either by law or prescription, and the other cannot be
admitted without apparent injury both to our navy and our trade.

Part of the clauses the noble duke has, indeed, attempted to defend, but
has been obliged by his regard to reason and to truth, to make such
concessions, as are, in my opinion, sufficient arguments for the
rejection of the bill. He has admitted of almost every clause that it is
imperfect, that it may be amended by farther consideration, and that,
though not wholly to be neglected, it yet requires some farther
improvements to become effectual to the advantage of our merchants.

The last three clauses, his natural abilities and just discernment
immediately showed him to be indefensible; and he has too much regard to
the interest of his country to attempt the vindication of a bill, which
could not be passed without weakening it by impairing its naval force,
and, yet more sensibly, by diminishing the reputation of its

I hope, therefore, my lords, that I shall not undergo the common censure
of disregard to our commercial interest, or be ranked amongst the
enemies of the merchants, though I declare, that in my opinion, this
bill ought to be rejected as unnecessary and injudicious, and that we
should only, by considering in a committee what no consideration can
amend, waste that time in a fruitless attempt, which may be spent much
more usefully upon other subjects.

Lord CARTERET spoke next, to the following purpose:--My lords, though I
do not approve equally of every part of the bill now before us, though I
think some of the provisions unnecessary, others unlikely to produce any
beneficial effects, and some already established by former acts of the
senate, or rules of the admiralty, yet I cannot agree with the noble
lord that it is unworthy of farther consideration.

In my opinion, my lords, it is necessary, for many reasons, to amend
this bill rather than reject it; and I hope, that when I shall have laid
before you the result of those inquiries and those reflections which I
have made on this occasion, your lordships will judge it not improper to
refer it to a committee.

Nothing, my lords, is more necessary to the legislature than the
affection and esteem of the people; all government consists in the
authority of the _few_ over the _many_, and authority, therefore, can be
founded only on opinion, and must always fall to the ground, when that
which supports it is taken away.

For this reason, my lords, it is worthy of this most august and awful
assembly, to endeavour to convince the people of our solicitude for
their happiness, and our compassion for their sufferings; lest we should
seem elevated by the casual advantages of birth and fortune above regard
to the lower classes of mankind; lest we should seem exalted above
others only to neglect them, and invested with power only to exert it in
acts of wanton oppression; lest high rank should in time produce hatred
rather than reverence, and superiority of fortune only tempt rapine and
excite rebellion.

The bill now under our consideration, my lords, cannot be rejected
without danger of exasperating the nation, without affording to the
discontented and malevolent an opportunity of representing this house as
regardless of the publick miseries, and deaf to the cries of our
fellow-subjects languishing in captivity, and mourning in poverty. The
melancholy and dejected will naturally conceive us inebriated with
affluence, and elated with dignity, endeavouring to remove from our eyes
every spectacle of misery, and to turn aside from those lamentations
which may interrupt the enjoyment of our felicity.

Nor, indeed, can it be justly said, that such representations are
without grounds, when we consider the important occasion on which this
bill is drawn up, the bitterness of those calamities which it is
intended to redress, and the authority by which it is recommended to us.

It may naturally be expected, my lords, that the title of a bill for the
protection and security of trade, should raise an uncommon degree of
ardour and attention; it might be conceived that every lord in this
house would be ambitious of signalizing his zeal for the interest of his
country, by proposing, on this occasion, every expedient which
experience or information had suggested to him; and that instead of
setting ourselves free from the labour of inquiry and the anxiety of
deliberation, by raising objections to the bill and rejecting it, we
should labour with unanimous endeavours, and incessant assiduity, to
supply its defects, and correct its improprieties; to show that a design
so beneficial can never be proposed to us without effect, and that
whenever we find honest zeal, we shall be ready to assist it with
judgment and experience.

Compassion might likewise concur to invigorate our endeavours on this
occasion. For who, my lords, can reflect on families one day flourishing
in affluence, and contributing to the general prosperity of their
country, and on a sudden, without the crime of extravagance or
negligence, reduced to penury and distress, harassed by creditors, and
plundered by the vultures of the law, without wishing that such
misfortunes might by some expedient be averted? But this, my lords, is
not the only nor the greatest calamity, which this bill is intended to
prevent. The loss of wealth, however grievous, is yet less to be dreaded
than that of liberty, and indigence added to captivity is the highest
degree of human misery. Yet even this, however dreadful, is now the lot
of multitudes of our fellow-subjects, who are languishing with want in
the prisons of Spain.

Surely, my lords, every proposal must be well received that intends the
prevention or relief of calamities like these. Surely the ruin of its
merchants must alarm every trading nation, nor can a British senate sit
unconcerned at the captivity of those men by whom liberty is chiefly

Of the importance of the merchants, by whom this bill is recommended to
our consideration, and by whose influence it has already passed the
other house, it is not necessary to remind your lordships, who know,
that to this class of men our nation is indebted for all the advantages
that it possesses above those which we behold with compassion or
contempt, for its wealth and power, and perhaps for its liberty and
civility. To the merchants, my lords, we owe that our name is known
beyond our own coasts, and that our influence is not confined to the
narrow limits of a single island.

Let us not, therefore, my lords, reject with contempt what is proposed
and solicited by men of this class; men whose experience and knowledge
cannot but have enabled them to offer something useful and important,
though, perhaps, for want of acquaintance with former laws, they may
have imagined those provisions now first suggested, which have only been
forgotten, and petitioned for the enaction of a new law, when they
needed only an enforcement of former statutes.

That our naval force has, in the present war, been misapplied; that our
commerce has been exposed to petty spoilers, in a degree never known
before; that our convoys have been far from adding security to our
traders; and that with the most powerful fleet in the world, we have
suffered all that can fall upon the most defenceless nation, cannot be

Nor is it any degree of temerity, my lords, to affirm, that these
misfortunes have been brought upon us by either negligence or treachery;
for, besides that no other cause can be assigned for the losses which a
powerful people suffer from an enemy of inferiour force, there is the
strongest authority for asserting, that our maritime affairs have been
ill conducted, and that, therefore, the regulation of them is very
seasonably and properly solicited by the merchants.

For this assertion, my lords, we may produce the authority of the other
house, by which a remonstrance was drawn up against the conduct of the
commissioners of the admiralty. This alone ought to influence us to an
accurate discussion of this affair. But when an authority yet more
venerable is produced, when it appears that his majesty, by the
dismission of the commissioners from their employments, admitted the
justice of the representation of the commons, it surely can be of no use
to evince, by arguments, the necessity of new regulations.

It is, indeed, certain, that men of integrity and prudence, men of
ability to discern their duty, and of resolution to execute it, can
receive very little assistance from rules and prescriptions; nor can I
deny what the noble lord has affirmed, that they may be sometimes
embarrassed in their measures, and hindered from snatching opportunities
of success, and complying with emergent occasions; but, my lords, we are
to consider mankind, not as we wish them, but as we find them,
frequently corrupt, and always fallible.

If men were all honest and wise, laws of all kinds would be superfluous,
a legislature would become useless, and our authority must cease for
want of objects to employ it; but we find, my lords, that there are men
whom nothing but laws and penalties can make supportable to society;
that there are men, who, if they are not told their duty, will never
know it, and who will, at last, only perform what they shall be punished
for neglecting.

Were all men, like the noble lord whom I am now attempting to answer,
vigilant to discover, sagacious to distinguish, and industrious to
prosecute the interest of the publick, I should be very far from
proposing that they should be constrained by rules, or required to
follow any guide but their own reason; I should resign my own
prosperity, and that of my country, implicitly into their hands, and
rest in full security that nothing would be omitted that human wisdom
could dictate for our advantage.

I am not persuading your lordships to lay restraints upon virtue and
prudence, but to consider how seldom virtue and authority are found
together, how often prudence degenerates into selfishness, and all
generous regard for the publick is contracted into narrow views of
private interest. I am endeavouring to show, that since laws must be
equally obligatory to all, it is the interest of the few good men to
submit to restraints, which, though they may sometimes obstruct the
influence of their virtue, will abundantly recompense them, by securing
them from the mischiefs that wickedness, reigning almost without limits,
and operating without opposition, might bring upon them.

It may not be improper to add, my lords, that no degree of human wisdom
is exempt from errour; that he who claims the privilege of acting at
discretion, subjects himself likewise to the necessity of answering for
the consequences of his conduct, and that ill success will at least
subject him to reproach and suspicion, from which, he whose conduct is
regulated by established rules, may always have an opportunity of
setting himself free.

Fixed and certain regulations are, therefore, my lords, useful to the
wisest and best men; and to those whose abilities are less conspicuous,
and whose integrity is at best doubtful, I suppose it will not be
doubted that they are indispensably necessary.

Some of the expedients mentioned in this bill, I shall readily concur
with the noble lord in censuring and rejecting; I am very far from
thinking it expedient to invest the governours of our colonies with any
new degree of power, or to subject the captains of our ships of war to
their command. I have lived, my lords, to see many successions of those
petty monarchs, and have known few whom I would willingly trust with the
exercise of great authority. It is not uncommon, my lords, for those to
be made cruel and capricious by power, who were moderate and prudent in
lower stations; and if the effects of exaltation are to be feared even
in good men, what may not be expected from it in those, whom nothing but
a distant employment could secure from the laws, and who, if they had
not been sent to America to govern, must probably have gone thither on a
different occasion?

The noble duke, who has vindicated the bill with arguments to which very
little can be added, and to which I believe nothing can be replied, has
expressed his unwillingness to concur in any measures for the execution
of which new officers must be appointed. An increase of officers, my
lords, is, indeed, a dreadful sound, a sound that cannot but forebode
the ruin of our country; the number of officers already established is
abundantly sufficient for all useful purposes, nor can any addition be
made but to the ruin of our constitution.

I am, therefore, of opinion, that no new officer was intended by those
that drew up the bill, and that they proposed only to furnish those that
loiter in our ports, at the expense of the publick, with an opportunity
of earning their salaries by some useful employment.

I know not, indeed, my lords, whether any good effects can be reasonably
hoped from this provision; whether men accustomed to connivance and
negligence in affairs of less importance, ought to be trusted with the
care of our naval preparations, and engaged in service, on which the
prosperity of the publick may depend; and cannot conceal my
apprehensions, that such men, if commissioned to superintend others, may
themselves require a superintendent.

But, my lords, this and every other clause may, in a committee, be
carefully examined and deliberately corrected; and since it appears
evident to me, that some law is necessary for the security of our
commerce, I think this bill ought not to be rejected without farther

Lord WINCHELSEA rose again, and spoke thus:--My lords, as the known
sincerity of that noble lord allows no room for suspecting, that he
would bestow any praises where he did not believe there was some desert,
and as his penetration and acuteness secure him from being deceived by
any false appearances of merit, I cannot but applaud myself for having
obtained his esteem, which I hope will not be forfeited by my future

Having happily gained the regard of so exact a judge of mankind, I am
the less solicitous what opinion may be conceived of my abilities or
intentions by those whose censures I less fear, and whose praises I less
value, and shall, therefore, cheerfully hazard any degree of popularity,
which I may have hitherto possessed, by continuing my opposition to this
bill, of which I am still convinced that it will produce nothing but
embarrassment, losses, and disgrace.

The necessity of gaining and preserving the esteem of the people I very
willingly allow, but am of opinion that though it may sometimes be
gained by flattering their passions and complying with their
importunities, by false appearances of relief, and momentary
alleviations of their grievances, it is only to be preserved by real and
permanent benefits, by a steady attention to the great ends of
government, and a vigorous prosecution of the means by which they may be
obtained, without regard to present prejudices or temporary clamours.

I believe, my lords, it will always be found that it is dangerous to
gratify the people at their own expense, and to sacrifice their interest
to their caprices; for I have so high a veneration of their wisdom, as
to pronounce without scruple, that however they may, for a time, be
deceived by artful misrepresentations, they will, at length, learn to
esteem those most, who have the resolution to promote their happiness in
opposition to their prejudices.

I am, therefore, confident, my lords, of regaining the popularity which
I may lose by declaring, once more, that this bill ought to be rejected,
since no endeavours shall be wanting to show how little it is necessary,
by an effectual protection of every part of our trade, and a diligent
provision for the naval service.

The duke of BEDFORD rose, and spoke to this effect:--My lords, I am
convinced that this bill is very far from being either absurd or
useless, nor can imagine that they by whom it was drawn up could fail of
producing some expedients that may deserve consideration.

It is probable, that a farther inquiry may show the propriety of some
clauses, which at present appear most liable to censure; and that, if we
reject this bill thus precipitately, we shall condemn what we do not
fully comprehend. No clause appeared to me more unworthy of the judgment
and penetration of the merchants than the last, nor was there any which
I should have rejected at the first perusal with less regret; yet,
having taken this opportunity of considering it a second time, I find it
by no means indefensible, for the direction of ships stationed for the
defence of our American territories, is not committed to the governours
alone. The council of each province is joined with them in authority, by
whom any private regards may be overborne, and who cannot be supposed to
concur in any directions which will not promote the general interest of
the colony.

I doubt not, my lords, but other clauses have been equally mistaken,
and, therefore, think it necessary to consider them in a committee,
where every lord may declare his sentiments, without the restraint of a
formal debate, and where the bill may be deliberately revised, and
accommodated more exactly to the present exigencies of the nation.

Lord WINCHELSEA spoke again, in substance as follows:--My lords, the
only reason which has been urged for considering this bill in a
committee, is the necessity of gratifying the merchants, and of showing
our concern for the prosperity of commerce. If therefore it shall
appear, that the merchants are indifferent with regard to its success, I
hope it will be rejected without opposition.

I was this morning, my lords, informed by a merchant, who has many
opportunities of acquainting himself with the opinions of the trading
part of the nation, that they were fully convinced of the impossibility
of adapting fixed rules to variable exigencies, or of establishing any
certain method of obviating the chances of war, and defeating enemies
who were every day altering their schemes; and declared that they had no
hopes of security but from the vigilance of a board of admiralty,
solicitous for the welfare of the merchants, and the honour of the

Lord CHOLMONDELEY rose and spoke to the following purpose:--My lords, as
three clauses of this bill have been universally given up, and almost
all the rest plainly proved by the noble lord to be either absurd or
superfluous, I cannot see why it should not be rejected without the
solemnity of farther consideration, to which, indeed, nothing but the
title can give it any claim.

The title, my lords, is, indeed, specious, and well fitted to the design
of gaining attention and promoting popularity; but with this title there
is nothing that corresponds, nor is any thing to be found but confusion
and contradictions, which grow more numerous upon farther search.

That the whole bill, my lords, is unnecessary, cannot be denied, if it
be considered that nothing is proposed in it which is not already in the
power of your lordships, who may call at pleasure for the lists of the
navy, the accounts of the cruisers, the duties of their commissions, and
the journals of their commanders, (as you did in the sixth of queen
Anne,) and detect every act of negligence or treachery, and every
instance of desertion, or of cowardice.

Nothing is necessary to the regulation of our naval force, but that your
lordships vigilantly exert that power which is conferred upon you by the
constitution, and examine the conduct of every officer with attention
and impartiality; no man then will dare to neglect his duty, because no
man can hope to escape punishment.

Of this bill, therefore, since it is thus useless and inconsistent, I
cannot but suspect, my lords, that it was concerted for purposes very
different from those mentioned in the title, which it has, indeed, no
tendency to promote. I believe, my lords, the projectors of it intended
not so much to advance the interest of the merchants, as to depress the
reputation of those whom they have long taken every opportunity of
loading with reproaches, whom they have censured as the enemies of
trade, the corrupters of the nation, and the confederates of Spain.

To confirm these general calumnies, it was necessary to fix on some
particular accusation which might raise the resentment of the people,
and exasperate them beyond reflection or inquiry. For this purpose
nothing was more proper than to charge them with betraying our merchants
to the enemy.

As no accusation could be more efficacious to inflame the people, so
none, my lords, could with more difficulty be confuted. Some losses must
be suffered in every war, and every one will necessarily produce
complaints and discontent; every man is willing to blame some other
person for his misfortunes, and it was, therefore, easy to turn the
clamours of those whose vessels fell into the hands of the Spaniards,
against the ministers and commanders of the ships of war.

These cries were naturally heard with the regard always paid to
misfortune and distress, and propagated with zeal, because they were
heard with pity. Thus in time, what was at first only the outcry of
impatience, was by malicious artifices improved into settled opinion,
that opinion was diligently diffused, and all the losses of the
merchants were imputed, not to the chance of war, but the treachery of
the ministry.

But, my lords, the folly of this opinion, however general, and the
falsehood of this accusation, however vehement, will become sufficiently
apparent, if you examine that bulky collection of papers which are now
laid before you, from which you will discover the number of our fleets,
the frequency of our convoys, the stations of our ships of war, and the
times of their departure and return; you will find that no provision for
war, no expedient likely to promote success has been neglected; that we
have now more ships equipped than in the late war with France, that
nothing can be added to the exactness with which our maritime force is
regulated, and that there is not the least reason to doubt of the
fidelity with which it has been employed.

In every war, my lords, it is to be expected that losses will be
suffered by private persons on each side, nor even in a successful war
can the publick always hope to be enriched; because the advantage may
arise, not immediately from captures, but, consequently, from the
treaties or conditions in which a prosperous war may be supposed to

What concessions we shall in this war extort from the Spaniards, what
security will be procured for our merchants, what recompense will be
yielded for our losses, or what extent will be added to our commerce, it
cannot yet be expected that any man should be able to declare; nor will
his majesty's counsellors be required to give an account of futurity. It
is a sufficient vindication of their conduct, and an evident proof of
the wisdom with which the war has been conducted, that we have hitherto
gained more than we have lost.

This, my lords, will appear from a diligent and minute comparison of the
captures on each side, and an exact computation of the value of our
losses and our prizes. It will be found that if the Spaniards have
taken, as it is not improbable, a greater number of ships, those which
they have lost have been far more wealthy.

The merchants, indeed, seem to have distrusted the strength of the
evidence which they produced in support of their allegations, by
bringing it only before the other house, where, as an oath could not be
administered, every man delivered what he believed as what he knew, and
indulged himself without scruple in venting his resentment, or declaring
his suspicions; a method of allegation very proper to scatter reproaches
and gratify malevolence, but of very little use for the discovery of

Had they come before your lordships, every circumstance had been
minutely examined, every assertion compared with other evidence, all
exaggerations repressed, and all foreign considerations rejected; each
part would have been impartially heard, and it would have plainly been
known to whom every loss was to be imputed. The negligence or treachery
of the commanders of the convoys, wherever it had been found, would have
been punished, but they would not have charged them with those
miscarriages which were produced only by the obstinacy or inattention of
the masters of the trading vessels.

Such inquiries, my lords, they appear to have thought it their interest
to decline, and, therefore, did not proceed on their petition to this
house; and if they did in reality avoid a rigorous examination, what can
be inferred, but that they intended rather to offer insinuations than
proofs, and rather to scatter infamy than obtain justice.

And, that nothing was indeed omitted that could secure our own commerce,
or distress our enemies, may reasonably be collected from the number and
great strength of our fleet, to which no empire in the world can oppose
an equal force. If it has not been supplied with sailors without some
delays, and if these delays have given our enemies an opportunity of
adding to their securities, of fortifying their ports, and supplying
their magazines, it must be ascribed to the nature of our constitution,
that forbids all compulsory methods of augmenting our forces, which must
be considered as, perhaps, the only inconvenience to be thrown into the
balance against the blessings of liberty.

The difficulty of manning our ships of war, is, indeed, extremely
perplexing. Men are naturally very little inclined to subject themselves
to absolute command, or to engage in any service without a time limited
for their dismission. Men cannot willingly rush into danger without the
prospect of a large advantage; they have generally some fondness for
their present state of life, and do not quit it without reluctance. All
these reasons, my lords, concur to withhold the sailors from the navy,
in which they are necessarily governed with higher authority than in
trading vessels, in which they are subjected to punishments, and
confined by strict regulations, without any certain term of their
bondage; for such they, who know not the necessity of subordination, nor
discover the advantages of discipline, cannot but account subjection to
the will and orders of another.

By serving the merchants, they not only secure to themselves the liberty
of changing their masters at pleasure, but enjoy the prospect of a near
and certain advantage; they have not, indeed, any expectations of being
suddenly enriched by a plate ship, and of gaining by one engagement such
wealth as will enable them to spend the rest of their lives in ease and
affluence; but they are sure of a speedy payment of their wages,
perhaps, of some profits from petty commerce, and of an opportunity of
squandering them at land in jollity and diversions; their labour is
cheerful, because they know it will be short, and they readily enter
into an employment which they can quit when it shall no longer please

These considerations, my lords, have no influence upon the preparations
of France and Spain, where no man is master of his own fortune, or time,
or life, and where the officers of the state can drive multitudes into
the service of the crown, without regard to their private views,
inclinations, or engagements. To man a fleet, nothing is necessary but
to lay an embargo on the trading vessels, and suspend their commerce for
a short time; therefore no man dares refuse to enter into the publick
service when he is summoned; nor, if he should fly, as our sailors, from
an impress, would any man venture to shelter or conceal him.

Absolute monarchs have, therefore, this advantage over us, that they can
be sooner prepared for war, and to this must be ascribed all the success
which the Spaniards have obtained. This, my lords, will not be obviated
by the bill now before us, nor will it, indeed, procure any other
benefit to the trade, or any addition to the power of the nation.

Of the ten clauses comprised in the bill, the greatest part is
universally allowed to be injudiciously and erroneously proposed; and
those few, which were thought of more importance, have been shown to
contain no new expedients, nor to add any thing to the present

I cannot, therefore, discover any reason, my lords, that should induce
us to refer to a committee this bill, of which part is confessedly to be
rejected, and the rest is apparently superfluous.

[Then the question being put, whether the bill should be referred to a
committee; it passed in the negative. Content, 25. Not content, 59.

On the rejection of this bill by the lords, a bill which related to an
affair of no less importance than the security of trade and navigation,
and which had been unanimously passed by the commons, it was satirically
remarked, that the upper house understood trade and navigation _better_
than the lower. However, the circumstances that attended it, made the
publication of the bill, with the amendments and the reasons offered by
the lords on both sides, expected with the more impatience.]


Parliament having met, according to the royal summons, on this day,
his majesty made a speech from the throne, which being afterwards read
by the president, lord TWEEDALE rose, and spoke as follows:

My lords, it is not without the highest satisfaction, that every lover
of mankind must look upon the alterations that have lately been
produced in the state of Europe; nor can any Briton forbear to express
an immediate and particular pleasure to observe his country rising
again into its former dignity, to see his own nation shake off
dependence, and rouse from inactivity, cover the ocean with her
fleets, and awe the continent with her armies; bid, once more,
defiance to the rapacious invaders of neighbouring kingdoms, and the
daring projectors of universal dominion; once more exert her influence
in foreign courts, and summon the monarchs of the west to another
confederacy against the power of France.

The queen of Hungary, who was lately obliged to retire at the approach
of her enemies, to leave her capital in danger of a siege, and seek
shelter in the remotest corner of her dominions, who was lately so
harassed with invasions, and so encircled with dangers, that she could
scarcely fly from one ravager, without the hazard of falling into the
hands of another, is now able to give laws to her persecutors, to
return the violence which she has suffered, and instead of imploring
mercy from those who had no regard but to their own interest, and were
determined to annihilate her family and divide her dominions, now sits
in full security on her throne, directs the march of distant armies,
and dictates the terms on which those who have entered her dominions
shall be suffered to escape.

Such, my lords, is the present state of the German empire; nor have
the affairs of the rest of Europe been less changed; the power of the
house of Bourbon has been diminished on every side, its alliance has
been rejected, and its influence disregarded.

The king of Sardinia has openly engaged to hinder the Spaniards from
erecting a new kingdom in Italy; and though he has hitherto been
somewhat embarrassed in his measures, and oppressed by the superiority
of his enemies, has at least, by preventing the conjunction of the
Spanish armies, preserved the Austrians from being overwhelmed. Nor can
the situation of his dominions, and the number of his forces, suffer us
to doubt, that in a short time he will be able entirely to secure Italy,
since he has already recovered his country, and drove back the Spaniards
into the bosom of France.

The condition of the other Spanish army is such, as no enemy can wish
to be aggravated by new calamities. They are shut up in a country
without provisions, or of which the inhabitants are unwilling to
supply them: on one side are neutral states, to which the law of
nations bars their entrance; on another the Mediterranean sea, which
can afford them only the melancholy prospect of hostile armaments, or
sometimes of their own ships falling into the hands of the Britons;
behind them are the troops of Austria ready to embarrass their march,
intercept their convoys, and receive those whom famine and despair
incite to change their masters, and to seek among foreign nations that
ease and safety, of which the tyranny of their own government, and the
madness of their own leaders, has deprived them. Such is their
distress, and so great their diminution, that a few months must
complete their ruin, they must be destroyed without the honour of a
battle, they must sink under the fatigue of hungry marches, by which
no enemy is overtaken or escaped, and be at length devoured, by those
diseases, which toil and penury will inevitably produce.

That the diminution of the influence of the house of Bourbon is not an
empty opinion, which we easily receive, because we wish it to be true;
that other nations, likewise, see the same events with the same
sentiments, and prognosticate the decline of that power which has so
long intimidated the universe, appears from the declaration now made
by his majesty of the conduct of the Swedish court.

That nation which was lately governed by the counsels, and glutted
with the bounties of France, which watched the nod of her mighty
patroness, and made war at her command against the Russian empire, now
begins to discover, that there are other powers more worthy of
confidence and respect, more careful to observe their engagements, or
more able to fulfil them. She, therefore, requests the British monarch
to extricate her from those difficulties, in which she is entangled by
a blind compliance with French dictates, to restore to her the
dismembered provinces, and recall that enemy which now impends over
her capital, and whom the French have neither interest to appease, nor
strength to resist.

Such, my lords, is the present prospect which offers itself to him who
surveys Europe with a political view, and examines the present
interest and dispositions of neighbouring potentates; such is the
order which has been produced from general confusion, and such the
reestablishment of equal power, which has succeeded these concussions
of the world.

It is no small addition to the pleasure which this change must afford
every man, who has either wisdom to discover his own happiness, or
benevolence to rejoice in that of others, that it has been the effect
not of chance but of conduct; that it is not an unforeseen event,
produced by the secret operation of causes fortuitously concurring,
but the result of a political and just design, well concerted and
steadily pursued; that every advantage which has been gained, is the
consequence of measures laid to obtain it; that our happiness has been
procured by prudence, and that our counsels have not been lucky but

If we reflect, my lords, upon the causes which have contributed to the
rescue of Europe from impending slavery, which have reestablished the
queen of Hungary in her dominions, enabled her to lay waste the
territories of her invaders, confirmed her friends in their fidelity,
and intimidated those whom rival interests inclined to wish her fall,
or the hope of sharing in the plunder, had incited to form designs
against her. If we inquire to what it is to be ascribed, that she is
able to form new alliances, and defend her dominions with confederate
armies, we shall find it easy to trace all these revolutions to one
cause, the steady and prudent conduct of the king of Britain.

Our sovereign, my lords, has looked on the troubles of Europe with
that concern which publick virtue inspires; he has seen the sufferings
of this illustrious princess with that compassion which is always due
to magnanimity oppressed, and formed resolutions for her assistance
with that ardour, which courage naturally kindles; but with that
caution, likewise, and secrecy, which experience dictates. But he
remembered, my lords, that, though he was the friend of the queen of
Hungary, he was to consider himself as the father of the people of
Britain; that he was not to exhaust the forces of this nation in
romantick expeditions, or exhaust its treasures in giving assistance
which was not needed.

He therefore waited to observe the event of the war, and to discover
whether the incessant struggles of the Austrians would be able to
throw off the load with which they were oppressed; but he found that
their spirit, however ardent, could not supply the want of strength;
he found, that they were fainting under insuperable labours, and that,
though they were in no danger of being conquered by the valour of
their enemies, they must, in a short time, be wearied with their

His majesty then knew, my lords, that, by sending them speedy
assistance, he at once promoted the interest of his people, and
gratified his own inclinations; he therefore supplied the queen with
such sums as enabled her to levy new forces, and drive her enemies
before her. By procuring a reconciliation with the king of Prussia, he
freed her from the nearest and most formidable danger, and gave her an
opportunity to secure herself against the menaces of other powers.

But though she was set free from domestick dangers, though invasion
was driven from her capital, though captivity no longer pursued her
flight, nor usurpation hovered over her throne, her more distant
dominions were still a prey to her enemies. The Spaniards had already
landed one army in Italy, with which another was hastening to join.
The success of this enterprise, which would have gained the greatest
part of Italy, could only be hindered by the king of Sardinia, who
was, therefore, solicited by the Spaniards and French to favour their
design, with the strongest protestations, and the most magnificent
promises. But these were overbalanced by the influence of the king of
Britain, whose name was of sufficient importance to make the weaker
part most eligible, and to counterbalance the force of immediate

Thus was the passage into Italy barred against the Spaniards, by
obstacles which they can never surmount, while the other army is
besieged by our fleet, and by the Austrians; and reduced, instead of
conquering kingdoms, to change their camp, and regulate their marches,
with no other view than to avoid famine. While that prince, whose
dominions might most commodiously afford them succour, and whom all
the ties of nature and of interest oblige to assist them, is awed by
the British ships of war, which lie at anchor before his metropolis,
and of which the commanders, upon the least suspicion of hostilities
against the queen of Hungary, threaten to batter his palaces, and
destroy his city.

In this manner, my lords, has the king of Britain assisted the house
of Austria with his treasures, his influence, and his navy; thus does
he subdue some enemies, and restrain others; thus does he hold the
balance of the war, and thus does he add the weight of power to the
scale of justice.

But to secure the success that has been already obtained, and to take
from the enemies of liberty all hopes of recovering the advantages
which they have lost, he has now no longer confined his assistance to
negotiations and pecuniary supplies. He knows that alliances are
always best observed, when they confer security, or produce manifest
advantages; and that money will not be always equivalent to armies. He
has, therefore, now acted openly in defence of his ally, has filled
Flanders, once more, with British troops, and garrisoned the frontier
towns with the forces of that nation by which they were gained. The
veteran now sees, once more, the plains over which he formerly pursued
the squadrons of France, points the place where he seized the
standards, or broke the lines, where he trampled the oppressors of
mankind, with that spirit which is enkindled by liberty and justice.
His heart now beats, once more, at the sight of those walls which he
formerly stormed, and he shows the wounds which he received in the
mine, or on the breach. The French now discover, that they are not yet
lords of the continent; and that Britain has other armies ready to
force, once more, the passes of Schellembourg, or break down the
intrenchments of Blenheim; to wrest from them the sceptre of universal
monarchy, and confine them again to their own dominions.

To the British regiments, his majesty has joined a large body of the
forces of his own electorate, without regard to the danger which may
threaten his dominions in the absence of his troops, having no other
view than to secure the publick tranquillity at whatever hazard of his
own, and being convinced that private interest is most effectually
secured by a steady attention to general good.

These measures, my lords, undoubtedly demand our gratitude and
applause. Gratitude is always due to favourable intentions, and
diligent endeavours, even when those intentions are frustrated, and
those endeavours defeated; and applause is often paid to success, when
it has been merely the effect of chance, and been produced by measures
ill adapted to the end which was intended by them. But, surely, when
just designs have been happily executed, when wise measures are
blessed with success, neither envy nor hatred will dare to refuse
their acclamations; surely, those will at least congratulate, whom the
corruption of their hearts hinders from rejoicing, and those who
cannot love, will at least commend.

Here, my lords, I suspect no inclination to depreciate the happiness
that we enjoy, or to calumniate that virtue by which it has been
obtained; and therefore doubt not but your lordships will readily
concur in the reasonable, motion which I have now to offer:--

"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 declare our just sense of his majesty's great care and vigilance
for the support of the house of Austria, and for restoring and
securing the balance of power.

"To acknowledge his majesty's great wisdom and attention to the
publick welfare, in sending so considerable a body of his forces into
the Low Countries, and in strengthening them with his electoral
troops, and the Hessians in the British pay; and thereby forming such
an army as may defend and encourage those powers who are well
intentioned, and give a real assistance to the queen of Hungary, and
to assure his majesty of the concurrence and support of this house, in
this necessary measure.

"To express our satisfaction in the good effects which the vigour
exerted by Great Britain in assisting its ancient allies, and
maintaining the liberties of Europe, hath already had on the affairs
of the queen of Hungary, and on the conduct of several powers; and our
hopes that a steady perseverance in the same measures, will inspire
the like spirit and resolution in other powers, equally engaged by
treaties and common interest to take the like part.

"To give his majesty the strongest assurances, that this house has the
honour and safety of his majesty, the true interest and prosperity of
his kingdoms, the security and advancement of their commerce, the
success of the war against Spain, and the reestablishment of the
balance and tranquillity of Europe entirely at heart. That these shall
be the great and constant objects of our proceedings and resolutions,
this house being determined to support his majesty in all just and
necessary measures for attaining those great and desirable ends, and
to stand by and defend his majesty against all his enemies."

Lord MONTFORT spoke next to the following effect:--My lords, the
motion offered by the noble lord, is, in my opinion, so proper and
just, so suitable to the dignity of this assembly, and so expressive
of the gratitude which the vigilance of his majesty for the publick
good, ought to kindle in every heart not chilled by ungenerous
indolence, or hardened by inveterate disaffection, that I cannot
discover any reason for which it can be opposed, and therefore hope
that every lord will concur in it with no less alacrity and zeal than
I now rise up to second it.

It may, indeed, naturally be hoped from this house, that his majesty's
measures will be readily approved, since they are such as even malice
and faction will not dare to censure or oppose, such as calumny will
not venture to defame, and such as those who will not praise them can
never mention. If it be allowed, that the interest of France is
opposite to that of Britain, that the equipoise of power on the
continent is to be preserved; if any of the counsels of our ancestors
deserve our attention, if our victories at Cressy or at Ramillies are
justly celebrated by our historians, the wisdom of our sovereign's
conduct cannot be denied.

The French, my lords, whom our armies in the reign of Anne saw flying
before them; who, from dividing kingdoms, and prescribing laws to
mankind, were reduced to the defence of their own country; who were
driven from intrenchment to intrenchment, and from one fortification
to another, now grown insolent with the pleasures of peace, and the
affluence of commerce, Have forgotten the power by which their schemes
were baffled, and their arrogance repressed; by which their fabrick of
universal monarchy was shattered, and themselves almost buried in the

Infatuated with the contemplation of their own force, elated with the
number of their troops, the magnificence of their cities, and the
opulence of their treasury, they have once more imagined themselves
superiour to resistance, and again aspire to the command of the
universe; they have now for some time assumed the haughty style of the
legislators of mankind; and have expected, that princes should appeal
to them as to the highest human tribunal, and that nations should
submit their claims to their arbitration; they have already assumed
the distribution of dominions, and expect that neither peace shall be
concluded, nor war proclaimed, but by their permission or advice.

By this gradation of exorbitant claims and oppressive measures, have
they at length arrived, my lords, at the summit of insolence; by these
steps have they ascended once more the towering throne of universal
monarchy; nor was any thing wanting to complete their plan, but that
their ancient rival, the German empire, should be reduced to
acknowledge their sovereignty, and that the supreme dignity of Europe
should be the gift of the French bounty.

The death of the late emperour, without sons, furnished them with an
opportunity of executing their design, too favourable to be neglected.
They now imagined it in their power, not only to dispose of the
imperial dignity, but to divide the dominions of the house of Austria
into many petty sovereignties, incapable singly of opposing them, and
unlikely to unite in any common cause, or to preserve a confederacy
unbroken, if they should by accident agree to form it.

They, therefore, sent their armies into Germany, to superintend the
approaching election, and by hovering over the territories of princes
unable to resist them, extorted voices in favour of their ally; a
prince, whose dominions must, by their situation, always oblige him to
compliance with the demands, and to concurrence in the schemes of his
protectors, and who will rather act as the substitute of France, than
the emperour of Germany.

But it was to no purpose that they had graced their dependant with
titular honours and ensigns of sovereignty, if the house of Austria
still retained its hereditary dominions, and preserved its strength
when it had lost its dignity. They well knew that armies were equally
formidable, whether commanded by an emperour or an inferiour
sovereign; and that a mere alteration of names, though it might afford
a slight and transient gratification to vanity, would produce no real
increase or diminution of power.

They, therefore, thought it necessary to improve the present time of
confusion, and excite all the princes of the empire to revive their
ancient claims upon the Austrian territories; claims, which how long
soever they had been forgotten, howsoever abrogated by long
prescription, or annulled by subsequent treaties, were now again to
become valid, and to be decided by the arbitration of France.

But this project being defeated by the heroick constancy of the queen
of Hungary, whose wisdom and resolution, which will equal her name in
future histories with those of the most successful conquerors,
rejected their mediation, and refused to own her right doubtful, by
submitting it to be tried; they were obliged no longer to dissemble
their designs, or make farther pretences to respect or tenderness. Her
fall was necessary to their own exaltation; they, therefore, kindled a
general conflagration of war, they excited all the princes to take
arms against her, and found it, indeed, no difficult task to persuade
them to attack a princess, whom they thought unable to form an army,
whom they believed they should rather pursue than engage, and whose
dominions might be overrun without bloodshed, and whom they should
conquer only by marching against.

Such a combination as this, a combination of monarchs, of which each
appeared able singly to have carried on a war against her, nothing but
the highest degree of magnanimity could have formed a design of
resisting; nor could that resistance have procured the least
advantages, or retarded for a single day the calamities that were
threatened, had it not been regulated by every martial virtue, had not
policy united with courage, and caution with activity.

Thus did the intrepidity of this princess, my lords, support her
against the storms that shook her kingdom on every side; thus did
those, whom her virtues gained over to her service, and whom her
example animated with contempt of superiour numbers, defend her
against the forces of all the surrounding nations, led on by monarchs,
and elated with the prospect of an easy conquest.

But the utmost that could be hoped from the most refined stratagems,
or the most exalted courage, was only that her fate might be deferred,
that she would not fall wholly unrevenged, that her enemies would
suffer with her, and that victory would not be gained without a
battle. It was evident, that bravery must in time give way to
strength, that vigour must be wearied, and policy exhausted, that by a
constant succession of new forces, the most resolute troops must be
overwhelmed; and that the house of Austria could only gain by the war,
the fatal honour of being gloriously extinguished.

This his majesty's wisdom easily enabled him to discover, and his
goodness incited him to prevent; he called upon all the powers, who
had promised to preserve the Pragmatick sanction, to have regard to
the faith of nations, and by fulfilling their engagements, to preserve
the liberties of Europe; but the success of his remonstrances only
afforded a new instance of the weakness of justice, when opposed to
interest or fear. All the potentates of the continent were restrained
by the threats, or gained by the promises of France; and the disposal
of the possessions of the Austrian house, seemed, by the general
consent of Europe, to be resigned to the family of Bourbon.

But our sovereign was not yet discouraged from asserting the rights
which he had promised to maintain, nor did he think the neglect or
treachery of others a sufficient reason for refusing that assistance,
which justice and policy equally required. He knew the power of his
own empire, and though he did not omit to cultivate alliances, he was
conscious of his ability to proceed without them; and therefore
showed, by sending his troops into the Austrian territories, that the
measures of the sovereign of Britain were not to be regulated by
either his enemies or his confederates; that this nation is yet able
to support its own claims, and protect those of its allies; and that
while we attack one of the kingdoms of the house of Bourbon, we are
not afraid to set the other at defiance.

The effects of this conduct, my lords, were immediately apparent; the
king of Sardinia engaged to oppose the entrance of the Spaniards into
Italy; the king of Prussia not only made a peace with the queen of
Hungary, by whom he was more to be dreaded than any other enemy, but
entered into an alliance with his majesty, who has made no small
addition to his influence, by another treaty with the most powerful
nations of the north.

Thus, my lords, are the dreadful arms of France, which are never
employed but in the detestable and horrid plan of extending slavery,
and supporting oppression, stopped in the full career of success. Thus
is the scheme of universal monarchy once more blasted, and the world
taught, that the preservation of the rights of mankind, the security
of religion, and the establishment of peace, are not impracticable,
that the power of Britain is yet undiminished, and that her spirit is
not yet depressed.

By his majesty's conduct, my lords, the reputation of our country is
now raised to its utmost height; we are now considered as the arbiters
of empire, the protectors of right, the patrons of distress, and the
sustainers of the balance of the world. I cannot, therefore, but
conclude, that no man in this illustrious assembly will be unwilling
to acknowledge that wisdom and firmness, which not only this nation,
but the greatest part of the universe, will remember with gratitude in
the remotest ages, and that the motion, which I now second, will be
universally approved.

The speaker then read the motion, and asked in the usual form, whether
it was their lordships' pleasure that the question should be put; upon
which lord CHESTERFIELD rose up, and spoke to the following
purpose:--My lords, though the motion has been, by the noble lord who
made it, introduced with all the art of rhetorick, and enforced by him
that seconded it, with the utmost ardour of zeal, and the highest
raptures of satisfaction and gratitude; though all the late measures
have been recommended to our applause, as proofs of the strictest
fidelity, and the most sagacious policy; and though I am very far from
intending to charge them with weakness or injustice, or from
pretending to have discovered in them a secret tendency to advance any
interest in opposition to that of Britain, I am yet not able to
prevail upon myself to suppress those scruples which hinder me from
concurring with them, and from approving the address which is now

I am less inclined, my lords, to favour the present motion, because I
have long been desirous of seeing the ancient method of general
addresses revived by this house; a method of address by which our
princes were reverenced without flattery, and which left us at liberty
to honour the crown, without descending to idolize the ministry.

I know not, my lords, what advantages have been procured by an annual
repetition of the speeches from the throne, however gracious or
excellent. For ourselves, we have certainly obtained no new confidence
from the crown, nor any higher degree of honour among the people. The
incense, which from our censers has so long perfumed the palace, has
inclined the nation to suspect, that we are long enough inured to
idolatry, to offer up their properties for a sacrifice, whenever they
shall be required; and I cannot dissemble my suspicions, that a long
continuance of this custom may give some ambitious or oppressive
prince in some distant age, when, perhaps, this beneficent and
illustrious family may be extinct, the confidence to demand it.

I cannot but be of opinion, and hope your lordships will be convinced
upon very short reflection, that there is a style of servility, which
it becomes not this house to use even to our monarchs: we are to
remember, indeed, that reverence which is always due from subjects,
but to preserve likewise that dignity which is inseparable from
independence and legislative authority.

That we ought not to descend to the meanest of flattery, that we ought
to preserve the privilege of speaking, without exaggerated praises, or
affected acknowledgments, our regard not only to ourselves, but to our
sovereign ought to remind us. For nothing is more evident, my lords,
than that no monarch can be happy while his people are miserable; that
the throne can be secure only by being guarded by the affections of
the people; and the prince can only gain and preserve their
affections, by promoting their interest, and supporting their

But how, my lords, shall that monarch distinguish the interest of his
people, whom none shall dare to approach with information? How shall
their privileges be supported, if when they are infringed, no man will
complain? And who shall dare to lay any publick grievances, or private
wrongs before the king of Britain, if the highest assembly of the
nation shall never address him but in terms of flattery?

The necessity of putting an end to this corrupt custom, becomes every
day more and more urgent; the affairs of Europe are hastening to a
crisis, in which all our prudence, and all our influence will be
required; and we ought, therefore, to take care not to perplex our
resolutions by voluntary ignorance, or destroy our credit by a publick
approbation of measures, which we are well known not to understand.

I suppose, none of your lordships, who are not engaged in the
administration of affairs, will think it derogatory from the
reputation of your abilities and experience, to confess, that you do
not yet see all the circumstances or consequences of the measures
which you are desired to applaud; measures which have been too lately
taken to discover their own tendency, and with relation to which no
papers have been laid before us. We are told of armies joined, and
treaties concluded, and, therefore, called upon to praise the wisdom
of our negotiations, and the usefulness and vigour of our military
preparations; though we are neither acquainted on what terms our
alliances are formed, nor on what conditions our auxiliaries assist

This, my lords, is surely such treatment as no liberal mind can very
patiently support; it is little less than to require that we should
follow our guides with our eyes shut; that we should place implicit
confidence in the wisdom of our ministers, and having first suffered
them to blind ourselves, assist them afterwards to blind the people.

The longer I dwell upon the consideration of this motion, the more
arguments arise to persuade me, that we ought not hastily to agree to
it. My lords, the address proposed, like the speech itself, is of a
very complicated and intricate kind, and comprises in a few words many
transactions of great importance, crowded together with an artful
brevity, that the mind may be hindered by the multitude of images,
from a distinct and deliberate consideration of particulars. Here are
acts of negotiation confounded with operations of war, one treaty
entangled with another, and the union of the Hanoverians with our
troops, mentioned almost in the same sentence with the Spanish war.
This crowd of transactions, so different in their nature, so various
in their consequences, who can venture to approve in the gross? or
who can distinguish without long examination.

I hope, my lords, that I shall not be charged with want of candour, in
supposing the motion not to be an extemporaneous composition, but to
be drawn up with art and deliberation. It is well known, that the
address is often concerted at the same time that the speech is
composed; and that it is not uncommon to take advantage of the
superiority which long acquaintance with the question gives those who
defend the motion, above those who oppose it.

We are indeed told, that the visible effects of his majesty's measures
prove their expediency, and that we may safely applaud that conduct of
which we receive the benefits. But, my lords, the advantages must be
seen or felt before they can be properly acknowledged; and it has not
been shown, that we have yet either intimidated the enemies of the
queen of Hungary, whose interest we have been lately taught to believe
inseparable from our own, or encouraged any new allies to declare in
her favour.

The Dutch, my lords, are not yet roused from their slumber of
neutrality; and how loudly soever we may assert our zeal, or with
whatever pomp we may display our strength, they still seem to doubt
either our integrity or force; and are afraid of engaging in the
quarrel, lest they should be either conquered or betrayed. Nor has the
approach of our army, however they may be delighted with the show,
inspired them with more courage, though they are enforced by the
troops of Hanover.

The addition of these forces to the British army, has been mentioned
as an instance of uncommon attention to the great cause of universal
liberty, as a proof that no regard has been paid to private interest,
and that all considerations are sacrificed to publick good. But since
no service can be so great but it may be overpaid, it is necessary
that we may judge of the benefit, to inform us on what terms it has
been obtained, and how well the act of succession has been observed on
this occasion.

Though I am too well acquainted, my lords, with the maxims which
prevail in the present age, and have had too much experience of the
motives, by which the decisions of the senate are influenced, to offer
any motion of my own, yet these reasons will withhold me from
concurring with this. I cannot but be of opinion, that the question
ought to be postponed to another day, in which the house may be
fuller, our deliberations be assisted by the wisdom and experience of
more than thirty lords, who are now absent, and the subjects of
inquiry, of which many are new and unexpected, may be more accurately
considered; nor can I prevail upon myself to return to general
declarations any other than general answers.

Lord CARTERET answered in substance as follows:--My lords, as there
has arisen no new question, as his majesty in assisting the queen of
Hungary, has only followed the advice of the senate; I am far from
being able to discover, why any long deliberation should be necessary
to a concurrence with the motion now before us, or whence any doubt
can arise with regard to the effects of his majesty's measures;
effects which no man will deny, who will believe either his own eyes,
or the testimony of others; effects, which every man who surveys the
state of Europe must perceive, and which our friends and our enemies
will equally confess.

To these measures, which we are now to consider, it must be ascribed,
that the French are no longer lords of Germany; that they no longer
hold the princes of the empire in subjection, lay provinces waste at
pleasure, and sell their friendship on their own terms. By these
measures have the Dutch been delivered from their terrours, and
encouraged to deliberate freely upon the state of Europe, and prepare
for the support of the Pragmatick sanction. But the common cause has
been most evidently advanced by gaining the king of Prussia, by whose
defection the balance of the war was turned, and at least thirty
thousand men taken away from the scale of France.

This, my lords, was a change only to be effected by a patient
expectation of opportunities, and a politick improvement of casual
advantages, and by contriving methods of reconciling the interest of
Prussia with the friendship of the queen of Hungary; for princes, like
other men, are inclined to prefer their own interest to all other
motives, and to follow that scheme which shall promise most gain.

That all this, my lords, has been effected, cannot be denied; nor can
it be said to have been effected by any other causes than the conduct
of Britain: had this nation looked either with cowardly despair, or
negligent inactivity, on the rising power of France and the troubles
of the continent; had the distribution of empire been left to chance,
our thoughts confined wholly to commerce, and our prospects not
extended beyond our own island, the liberties of Europe had been at an
end, the French had established themselves in the secure possession of
universal monarchy, would henceforth have set mankind at defiance, and
wantoned without fear in oppression and insolence.

These, my lords, are consequences of the measures pursued by his
majesty, of which neither the reality nor the importance can be
questioned, and, therefore, they may doubtless be approved without
hesitation. For surely, my lords, the addition of the Hanoverian
troops to the forces of our own nation can raise no scruples, nor be
represented as any violation of the act of settlement.

Of the meaning of that memorable act, I believe, I do not need any
information. I know it is provided, that this nation shall not be
engaged in war in the quarrel of Hanover; but I see no traces of a
reciprocal obligation, nor can discover any clause, by which we are
forbidden to make use in our own cause of the alliance of Hanover, or
by which the Hanoverians are forbidden to assist us.

I hope, my lords, this representation of the state of our transactions
with Hanover, will not be charged with artifice or sophistry. I know
how invidious a task is undertaken by him who attempts to show any
connexion between interests so generally thought opposite, and am
supported in this apology only by the consciousness of integrity, and
the intrepidity of truth.

The assistance of Hanover, my lords, was, at this time, apparently
necessary. Our own troops, joined with the Hessians, composed a body
too small to make any efficacious opposition to the designs of France;
but by the addition of sixteen thousand men, became sufficiently
formidable to oblige her to employ those troops for the security of
her frontiers, with which she intended to have overwhelmed Italy, and
to have exalted another Spanish prince to a new kingdom. The
Spaniards, deprived of this assistance, harassed by the Austrians with
perpetual alarms, and debarred by our fleet from the supplies which
are provided for them in their own country, must languish with penury
and hardships, being equally cut off from succour and from flight.

Thus, my lords, it is evident, that the true and everlasting interest
of Britain has been steadily pursued; that the measures formed to
promote it have been not only prudent, but successful. We did not
engage sooner in the quarrel, because we were not able to form an army
sufficiently powerful. An advantageous peace is only to be obtained by
vigorous preparations for war; nor is it to be expected that our
enemies should court our friendship, till they see that our opposition
is really formidable. Such, my lords, is our present state; we may
reasonably hope that the French will desist from their designs,
because they will have a confederacy to oppose, more powerful than
that by which their immortal monarch was lately humbled; and I hope
that conduct will always be applauded in this house, which enables us
to repress the arrogance of France.

Lord WESTMORELAND then spoke to the following purport:--My lords,
though the warmth with which the noble lord has defended the motion,
and the confidence with which he asserts the propriety and efficacy of
the measures to which it relates, are such proofs of the strength of
his conviction as leave no room to doubt his sincerity; yet as the
same arguments do not operate upon different minds with the same
force, I hope I shall not be thought less sincere, or less studious of
the publick happiness, or the honour of the crown, though I presume to
differ from him.

In the motion now before us, I cannot concur, because, though it
should be allowed to contain a just representation of foreign affairs,
yet it appears to me to omit those considerations which I think it the
duty of this house to offer to his majesty. This nation is, in my
opinion, exposed to enemies more formidable than the French; nor do I
think that we are at leisure to defend the liberties of Europe, till
we have made some provisions for the security of our own; or to
regulate the balance of power, till we have restored our constitution
to its ancient equilibrium.

That there are flagrant proofs of the most enormous corruption
throughout the whole subordination of publick offices; that our
publick funds are only nurseries of fraud, and that trust of every
kind is only considered as an opportunity of plundering, appears
evidently from the universal prevalence of luxury and extravagance,
from the sudden affluence of private men, from the wanton riot of
their tables, the regal splendour of their equipages, and the
ostentatious magnificence of their buildings.

It is evident, likewise, that corruption is not confined to publick
offices; that those who have lost their own integrity, have
endeavoured to destroy the virtue of others; that attempts have been
made to subject the whole nation to the influence of corruption, and
to spread the contagion of bribery from the highest to the lowest
classes of the people.

It is therefore necessary, before we engage in the consideration of
foreign affairs, to prosecute the inquiry which was begun in the last
session, to trace wickedness to its source, and drag the authors of
our miseries into the light.

These, my lords, are the inquiries which the general voice of the
people importunately demands; these are the petitions which ought
never to be rejected; all parties are now united, and all animosities
extinguished; nor is there any other clamour than for inquiries and

The other house, my lords, has been engaged in the laudable attempt to
detect those who have betrayed, or plundered, or corrupted their
country; and surely we ought to have so much regard to our own honour,
as not to suffer them to toil alone in a design so popular, so just,
and so necessary, while we amuse ourselves with applauding the
sagacity of our ministers, who, whatever they may hope themselves, or
promise others, have not yet prevailed on any foreign power to concur
with them, or to interpose in the affairs of the continent. And,
therefore, I cannot conceal my suspicion, that instead of furnishing
any subject for panegyricks on our policy and caution, we are now
wasting our treasures and our strength in a romantick expedition.

Since, therefore, my lords, our domestick evils seem to me most
dangerous, I move, that in order to their speedy remedy, and that the
people may see we do not forget their immediate interest, this
addition be made to the motion now before us:

"And humbly to assure his majesty, that we will apply our constant and
persevering endeavours to calm and heal animosities and divisions,
unseasonable as they are at all times, and most pernicious in the
present juncture, which the true fatherly tenderness of his majesty,
out of the abundance of his constant care for the rights and liberties
of his people, has so affectionately at the close of last session
recommended from the throne, by searching thoroughly and effectually
into the grounds, which are or may be assigned for publick discontent,
agreeably to the ancient rules and methods of parliament."

This additional clause being delivered in writing to the speaker, he
read it to the house, but said that the noble lord spoke so low, that
he could not tell where he proposed to have it inserted. Lord
WESTMORELAND then directed him to read the motion, which done, he
desired that his clause might be added at the end.

Upon this lord RAYMOND spoke as follows:--My lords, the addition which
the noble lord has offered to the address proposed, cannot, in my
opinion, be properly admitted, as it has no relation to the preceding
clauses, but is rather inconsistent with them.

Nor do I think it only improper with regard to the other part of the
motion, but unnecessary in itself; since it has no reference to his
majesty's speech, now under our consideration; since it will
facilitate none of our inquiries, which may be carried on with equal
vigour without any such unseasonable declaration of our design.

If, therefore, the motion for the amendment be not withdrawn, I shall
move, that the first question be first put.

[The question was then put with regard to the first motion, and it
passed in the affirmative, without any division.]


Motion in the committee of supplies, for granting pay for sixteen
thousand Hanoverian troops for the four months last past.

Sir William YONGE opened the debate, and spoke in substance as
follows:--Sir, though the general state of the kingdoms of Europe
cannot be supposed to be wholly unknown in this assembly, yet since
the decision of the question now before us, must depend upon the
conceptions which every man has formed with regard to the affairs on
the continent, it will be necessary to exhibit them to view in a
narrow compass, that nothing which may contribute to our information
may be overlooked or forgotten.

The late emperour, for some time before his death, finding that there
remained little hopes of male issue, and that his family would be
consequently in danger of losing part of the honours and dignities
which it had so long enjoyed, turned his thoughts to the security of
his hereditary dominions, which he entailed upon his eldest daughter,
to preserve them from being broken into fragments, and divided among
the numerous pretenders to them; and that this settlement might be
preserved from violation, employed all the opportunities which any
extraordinary conjunctures presented to him of obtaining the
concurrence and ratification of the neighbouring states.

As it was always the interest of this nation to support the house of
Austria, as a counterbalance to the power of France, it was easy to
procure from us a solemn accession to this important settlement; and
we, therefore, promised to support it, whenever it should be attacked.
This was, in reality, only a promise to be watchful for our own
advantage, and to hinder that increase of the French influence, which
must, at length, be fatal to ourselves.

The like engagements were proposed to many other powers, which
proposals were by most of them accepted, and among others by France,
upon consideration of a very large increase of her dominions; and it
was hoped, that whatever might be determined by the electors with
respect to the imperial dignity, the hereditary dominions to the house
of Austria would remain in the same family, and that France would be
hindered by her own engagements from disturbing the peace of the

But no sooner did the death of the emperour give the enemies of the
house of Austria hopes of gratifying without danger their resentment
and ambition, than almost all the neighbouring princes began to revive
their pretensions, and appeared resolved to recover by force, what
they alleged to have been only by force withheld from them. Armies
were raised on all sides, invasions either attempted or threatened
from every quarter, and the whole world looked upon the daughter of
Austria either with pity or with joy, as unable to make any stand
against the general confederacy, and under a necessity of yielding to
the most oppressive terms, and purchasing peace from her enemies at
their own price.

It cannot be mentioned, without indignation, that this universal
combination was formed and conducted by the influence of the French,
who, after having agreed to the Pragmatick sanction, omitted no
endeavours to promote the violation of it; and not only incited the
neighbouring princes to assert their claim by promises of assistance,
but poured numerous armies into the empire, not only to procure by
force, and without the least regard to equity, an election in favour
of the duke of Bavaria, but to assist him in the invasion of the
Austrian dominions, of which the settlement had been ratified by their
concurrence, purchased at a price which might justly have been thought
too great, even though they had observed their stipulations.

The pleas which they advanced in vindication of their conduct, it is
not necessary to relate; since, however artfully they may be formed,
the common sense of mankind must perceive them to be false. It is to
no purpose, that they declare themselves not to have receded from
their promise, because they enter the empire only as auxiliaries, and
their troops act under the command of the elector of Bavaria; since he
that furnishes troops for the invasion of those territories which he
is obliged to protect, may very justly be considered as an invader; as
he who assists a thief, partakes the guilt of theft.

All contracts, sir, whether between states or private persons, are to
be understood according to the known intention of the two parties; and
I suppose it will not be pretended, by the most hardened advocate for
the conduct of the French, that the late emperour would have
purchased, at so dear a rate, their accession to the Pragmatick
sanction, if he had supposed, that they still thought themselves at
liberty to employ all their treasure and their force in assisting
others to violate it.

It is well known, that an unsuccessful war, which the French are
likewise suspected of assisting, had, a short time before the death of
the emperour, weakened his forces, and exhausted his revenues; and
that, therefore, when he was surprised by death, he left his family
impoverished and defenceless; so that his daughter being without money
or armies, and pressed by enemies on every side of her dominions, was
immediately reduced to such distress as, perhaps, she only was able to
support, and such difficulties as no other would have entertained the
least hope of being able to surmount.

In the first crush of her calamities, when she was driven by the
torrent of invasion from fortress to fortress, and from kingdom to
kingdom, it is not to be denied, that most of the guarantees of the
Pragmatick sanction stood at gaze, without attempting that relief
which she incessantly called upon them to afford her; and which,
indeed, they could deny upon no other pretence, than that they were
convinced it would be ineffectual, that her ruin was not to be
prevented, and that she must be swallowed up by the deluge of war,
which it appeared impossible to resist or to divert.

The queen, however, determined to assert her rights, and to defend her
dominions; and, therefore, assembled her forces, and made such
opposition, that some of her enemies finding the war, to which they
were encouraged only by a belief of the certainty of success, likely
to become more hazardous than they expected, soon desisted from their
claims, and consented to peace upon moderate conditions; and the most
formidable of her enemies, being alienated from the French by
experience of their treachery, and, perhaps, intimidated by the
bravery of his enemies, was at last willing to become neutral, and to
be satisfied with the recovery of his own claims, without assisting
the elector of Bavaria.

Thus far has this illustrious princess struggled in the tempest of the
continent with very little assistance from her confederates; but it
cannot be supposed, that these violent efforts have not exhausted her
strength, or that she must not be, at length, overpowered by the
armies which the French, enraged at the disappointment of their
schemes, are sending against her. She has an incontestable claim to
our assistance, promised by the most solemn stipulations, and,
therefore, not to be withheld upon any views of present advantage. The
prudence and magnanimity which she has discovered, prove, that she
deserves to be supported upon the common principles of generosity,
which would not suffer a brave man to look idly upon a heroine
struggling with multitudes; and the opposition which she has been able
to make alone, shows that assistance will not be vain.

These considerations, though, since the senate has determined to
assist her, they are not immediately necessary in a question which
relates only to the manner in which that assistance shall be given,
are yet not entirely useless; since they may contribute to overbalance
any prejudices that may obstruct the schemes which have been formed,
and quicken the endeavours of men who might be inclined to reject
those counsels to which any specious objections shall be raised, or to
lose that time in deliberation, which ought to be employed in action.

As the assistance of this distressed princess has been already voted
by the senate, it is now no longer to be inquired, what advantages can
be gained to this nation by protecting her, or whether the benefits of
victory will be equivalent to the hazards of war? These questions are
already determined. It has already appeared necessary to this house,
to restore the balance of power by preserving the house of Austria;
and the only question, therefore, that remains is, by what means we
shall endeavour to preserve it? and whether the means that have
already been used, deserve our approbation?

Among the several schemes that were proposed for this end, it appeared
most proper to the ministry to form an army in the low countries,
whence they might be ready to march wherever their presence might be
required, and where they might be easily supplied with necessaries.
This army was to be raised with expedition; the affairs of the queen
of Hungary could admit of no delay; auxiliary troops were, therefore,
to be hired, and it appeared to them more proper to hire the troops of
Hanover than of any other nation.

That the affairs of the queen of Hungary would admit of no delay, and
that, therefore, the army in the low countries was very speedily to be
formed, cannot be doubted by any one that compares her power with that
of the nation against which she was contending; a nation incited by a
long train of success to aspire to universal monarchy; a nation which
has long been assembling armies, and accumulating treasures, in order
to give law to the rest of the world; which had for many years stood
against the united force of all the bordering powers, and to which the
house of Austria is not equal in its full strength, much less when its
treasures had been exhausted, and its troops destroyed in an
unfortunate war before the death of the emperour; and when almost
every part of its dominions was threatened by a particular power, and
the troops of each province were employed in the defence of their own
towns; so that no great armies could be collected, because no place
could be left without defenders.

Such was the state of the Austrian dominions, when the troops of
France broke in upon them; and in this state it must readily be
acknowledged, that neither courage nor prudence could procure success;
that no stratagems could long divert, nor any resistance repel such
superiority of power, and that, therefore, relief must be speedy, to
be efficacious.

That to bring the relief which we had promised, with expedition
sufficient to procure any advantages to our ally, to preserve her
provinces from being laid waste, her towns from being stormed, and her
armies from being ruined; to repress the confidence of the French, and
recall them from conquests to the defence of their own territories, it
was apparently necessary to hire foreign troops; for to have sent over
all our own forces, had been to have tempted the French to change
their design of invading the Austrian dominions, into that of
attacking Britain, and attempting to add this kingdom to their other
conquests; to have raised new troops with expedition equal to the
necessity that demanded them, was either absolutely impossible, or at
least, very difficult; and when raised, they would have been only new
troops, who, whatever might be their courage, would have been without
skill in war, and would, therefore, have been distrusted by those whom
they assisted, and despised by those whom they opposed.

Nothing, therefore, remained, but that auxiliaries should be tried,
and the only question then to be decided, was, what nation should be
solicited to supply us? Nor was this so difficult to be answered as in
former times, since there was not the usual liberty of choice; many of
the princes who send their troops to fight for other powers, were at
that time either influenced by the promises, or bribed by the money,
or intimidated by the forces of France; some of them were engaged in
schemes for enlarging their own dominions, and therefore were
unwilling to supply others with those troops for which they were
themselves projecting employment; and, perhaps, of some others it
might reasonably be doubted, whether they would not betray the cause
which they should be retained to support, and whether they would not
in secret wish the depression of the queen of Hungary, by means of
those invaders whom they promised to resist.

Sir, amidst all these considerations, which there was not time
completely to adjust, it was necessary to turn their eyes upon some
power to which none of these objections could be made; and, therefore,
they immediately fixed upon the electorate of Hanover, as subject to
the same monarch, and of which, therefore, the troops might be
properly considered as our national allies, whose interest and
inclinations must be the same with our own, and whose fidelity might
be warranted by our own sovereign.

It was no small advantage that the contract for these troops could be
made without the delay of tedious negotiations; that they were ready
to march upon the first notice, and that they had been long learned in
the exactest discipline.

The concurrence of all these circumstances easily determined our
ministers in their choice, and the troops were ordered to join the
Britons in the Low Countries; a step which so much alarmed the French,
that they no longer endeavoured to push forward their conquests, nor
appeared to entertain any other design than that of defending
themselves, and returning in safety to their own country.

Such was the conduct of our ministry, such were their motives, and
such has been their success; nor do I doubt but this house will, upon
the most rigorous examination, find reason to approve both their
integrity and prudence. Of their integrity they could give no greater
proof, than their confidence of the agreement of this house to
measures which, though conformable in general to our resolutions, were
not particularly communicated to us; because, indeed, it could not be
done without loss of time, which it was necessary to improve with the
utmost diligence, and a discovery of those designs, which ought only
to be known by the enemy after they were executed. Of their prudence,
their success is a sufficient evidence; and, therefore, I cannot doubt
but gentlemen will give a sanction to their conduct, by providing,
according to the estimates before the committee, for the support of
troops, which have been found of so great use.

Lord POWLETT rose up next, and spoke to the effect following:--Sir,
the honourable gentleman has with so much clearness and elegance
displayed the state of Europe, explained the necessity of hiring
foreign troops, and showed, the reasons for which the troops of
Hanover were preferred to those of any other nation, that I believe it
not to be of any use to urge other arguments than those which he has

As, therefore, it is indisputably necessary to hire troops, and none
can be hired which can be so safely trusted as those of Hanover, I
cannot but agree with the right honourable gentleman, that this
measure of his majesty ought to be supported.

Sir JOHN ST. AUBYN then spoke as follows:--Sir, it is with the
greatest difficulties that I rise up to give you this trouble, and
particularly after the honourable gentleman with whom I am so very
unequal to contend. But when my assent is required to a proposition,
so big with mischiefs, of so alarming a nature to this country, and
which I think, notwithstanding what the honourable gentleman has most
ingeniously said, must determine from this very day, who deserves the
character and appellation of a Briton, I hope you will forgive me, if
I take this last opportunity which perhaps I may ever have of speaking
with the freedom of a Briton in this assembly.

I am not able to follow the honourable gentleman in any refinements of
reason upon our foreign affairs; I have not subtilty enough to do it,
nor is it in my way as a private country gentleman. But though country
gentlemen have not that sagacity in business, and, for want of proper
lights being afforded us, the penetration of ministers into publick
affairs; yet give me leave to say, they have one kind of sense which
ministers of state seldom have, and at this time it is of so acute a
nature, that it must, overthrow the arguments of the most refined
administration; this is the sense of feeling the universal distresses
of their country, the utter incapacity it now lies under of sustaining
the heavy burdens that are imposing upon it.

This I take to be the first, the great object of this day's debate.
Consider well your strength at home, before you entangle yourselves
abroad; for if you proceed without a sufficient degree of that, your
retreat will be certain and shameful, and may in the end prove
dangerous. Without this first, this necessary principle, whatever may
be the machinations, the visionary schemes of ministers, whatever
colourings they may heighten them with, to mislead our imaginations,
they will prove in the end for no other purpose, but to precipitate
this nation, by empty captivating sounds, into the private views and
intrigues of some men, so low, perhaps, in reputation and authority,
as to be abandoned to the desperate necessity of founding their ill
possessed precarious power upon the ruins of this country.

Next to the consideration of our inward domestick strength, what
foreign assistances have we to justify this measure? Are we sure of
one positive active ally in the world? Nay, are not we morally certain
that our nearest, most natural ally, disavows the proceeding, and
refuses to cooperate with us? One need not be deep read in politicks
to understand, that when one state separates itself from another, to
which it is naturally allied, it must be for this plain reason, that
the interest is deserted which is in common to them both. And it is an
invariable rule in this country, a rule never to be departed from,
that there can no cause exist in which we ought to engage on the
continent, without the aid and assistance of that neighbouring state.
This is the test, the certain mark, by which I shall judge, that the
interest of this country is not at present the object in pursuit.

Is any man then wild enough to imagine, that the accession of sixteen
thousand Hanoverian mercenaries will compensate for the loss of this
natural ally? No; but it is said that this indicates such a firmness
and resolution within ourselves, that it will induce them to come in.
Sir, if they had any real proofs of our firmness and resolution, that
the interest of this country was to be pursued, I dare say they would
not long hesitate. But they look with a jealous eye upon this measure,
they consider it as an argument of your weakness, because it is
contrary to the genius and spirit of this country, and may, therefore,
lessen his majesty in the affections of his people.

They have for some years past looked upon a British parliament as the
corrupt engine of administration, to exhaust the riches, and impair
the strength of this country. They have heard it talk loudly, indeed,
of the house of Austria, when it was in your power to have raised her
to that state, in which she was properly to be considered as the
support of the balance of Europe, if timid neutralities had not
intervened, and our naval strength had properly interposed to her

They have lately looked upon this parliament, and with the joy of a
natural ally they have done it, resenting your injuries, bravely
withstanding the power, that you might restore the authority of your
government, demanding constitutional securities, appointing a
parliamentary committee for inquiry and justice. Sir, they now see
that inquiry suppressed, and justice disappointed. In this situation,
what expectations can we form of their accession to us; talking bigly,
indeed, of vindicating foreign rights, but so weak and impotent at
home, as not to be able to recover our own privileges?

But this measure is said to be undertaken in consequence of the advice
of parliament. There has been great stress laid upon this. It has been
loudly proclaimed from the throne, echoed back again from hence, and
the whole nation is to be amused with an opinion, that upon this
measure, the fate of the house of Austria, the balance and liberties
of Europe, the salvation of this country, depend.

But was this fatal measure the recommendation of parliament, or was it
the offspring of some bold enterprising minister, hatched in the
interval of parliament, under the wings of prerogative; daring to
presume upon the corruption of this house, as the necessary means of
his administration? The object, indeed, might be recommended, but if
any wrong measure is undertaken to attain it, that measure surely
should be dropt; for it is equally culpable to pursue a good end by
bad measures, as it is a bad end by those that are honest.

But as to the address, I wish gentlemen would a little consider the
occasion which produced it. Sir, it proceeded from the warmth of
expectation, the exultation of our hearts, immediately after, and with
the same breath that you established your committee of inquiry; and it
is no forced construction to say, that it carries this testimony along
with it, that national securities and granting supplies were
reciprocal terms.

But, sir, I must own for my part, was the occasion never so cogent,
Hanoverian auxiliaries are the last that I would vote into British
pay; not upon the consideration only, that we ought otherwise to
expect their assistance, and that we should rather make sure of others
that might be engaged against us; but from this melancholy
apprehension, that administrations will for ever have sagacity enough
to find out such pretences, that we may find it difficult to get rid
of them again.

Besides, the elector of Hanover, as elector of Hanover, is an
arbitrary prince; his electoral army is the instrument of that power;
as king of Great Britain he is a restrained monarch. And though I
don't suspect his majesty, and I dare say the hearts of the British
soldiery are as yet free and untainted, yet I fear that too long an
intercourse may beget a dangerous familiarity, and they may hereafter
become a joint instrument, under a less gracious prince, to invade our

His majesty, if he was rightly informed, I dare say would soon
perceive the danger of the proposition which is now before you. But,
as he has every other virtue, he has, undoubtedly, a most passionate
love for his native country, a passion which a man of any sensation
can hardly divest himself of; and, sir, it is a passion the more
easily to be flattered, because it arises from virtue. I wish that
those who have the honour to be of his councils, would imitate his
royal example, and show a passion for their native country too; that
they would faithfully stand forth and say, that, as king of this
country, whatever interests may interfere with it, this country is to
be his first, his principal care; that in the act of settlement this
is an express condition. But what sluggish sensations, what foul
hearts must those men have, who, instead of conducting his majesty's
right principles, address themselves to his passions, and misguide his
prejudices? making a voluntary overture of the rights and privileges
of their country, to obtain favour, and secure themselves in power;
misconstruing that as a secondary consideration, which in their own
hearts they know to be the first.

Sir, we have already lost many of those benefits and restrictions
which were obtained for us by the revolution, and the act of
settlement. For God's sake, let us proceed no farther. But if we are
thus to go on, and if, to procure the grace and favour of the crown,
this is to become the flattering measure of every successive
administration,--this country is undone!

Mr. BLADEN then rose up, and spoke to the following purport:--Sir, if
zeal were any security against errour, I should not willingly oppose
the honourable gentleman who has now declared his sentiments; and
declared them with such ardour, as can hardly be produced but by
sincerity; and of whom, therefore, it cannot be doubted, that he has
delivered his real opinion; that he fears from the measures which he
censures, very great calamities; that he thinks the publick
tranquillity in danger; and believes that his duty to his country
obliged him to speak on this occasion with unusual vehemence.

But I am too well acquainted with his candour to imagine, that he
expects his assertions to be any farther regarded than they convince;
or that he desires to debar others from the same freedom of reason
which he has himself used. I shall therefore proceed to examine his
opinion, and to show the reasons by which I am induced to differ from

The arguments upon which he has chiefly insisted, are the danger of
hiring the troops of Hanover in any circumstances, and the impropriety
of hiring them now without the previous approbation of the senate.

The danger of taking into our pay the forces of Hanover, the
contrariety of this conduct to the act of settlement, and the
infraction of our natural privileges, and the violation of our
liberties which is threatened by it, have been asserted in very strong
terms, but I think not proved with proportionate force; for we have
heard no regular deduction of consequences by which this danger might
be shown, nor have been informed, how the engagement of sixteen
thousand Hanoverians to serve us against France for the ensuing year,
can be considered as more destructive to our liberties than any other

It is, indeed, insinuated, that this conduct will furnish a dangerous
precedent of preference granted to Hanover above other nations; and
that this preference may gradually be advanced, till in time Hanover
may, by a servile ministry, be preferred to Britain itself, and that,
therefore, all such partiality ought to be crushed in the beginning,
and its authors pursued with indignation and abhorrence.

That to prefer the interest of Hanover to that of Britain would be in
a very high degree criminal in a British ministry, I believe no man in
this house will go about to deny; but if no better proof can be
produced, that such preference is intended than the contract which we
are now desired to ratify, it may be with reason hoped, that such
atrocious treachery is yet at a great distance; for how does the hire
of Hanoverian troops show any preference of Hanover to Britain?

The troops of Hanover are not hired by the ministry as braver or more
skilful than those of our own country; they are not hired to command
or to instruct, but to assist us; nor can I discover, supposing it
possible to have raised with equal expedition the same number of
forces in our own country, how the ministry can be charged with
preferring the Hanoverians by exposing them to danger and fatigue.

But if it be confessed, that such numbers would not possibly be
raised, or, at least, not possibly disciplined with the expedition
that the queen of Hungary required, it will be found, that the
Hanoverians were at most not preferred to our own nation, but to other
foreigners, and for such preference reasons have been already given
which I shall esteem conclusive, till I hear them confuted.

The other objection on which the honourable gentleman thought it
proper to insist, was the neglect of demanding from the senate a
previous approbation of the contract which is now before us; a
neglect, in his opinion, so criminal, that the ministry cannot be
acquitted of arbitrary government, of squandering the publick money by
their own caprice, and of assuming to themselves the whole power of

But the proof of this enormous usurpation has not yet been produced;
for it does not yet appear, that there was time to communicate their
designs to the senate, or that they would not have been defeated by
communication; and, therefore, it is yet not evident, but that when
they are censured for not having laid their scheme before the senate,
they are condemned for omitting what was not possibly to be done, or
what could not have been done, without betraying their trust, and
injuring their country.

It is allowed, that the senate had resolved to assist the queen of
Hungary; and, therefore, nothing remained for the ministers but to
execute with their utmost address the resolution that had been formed;
if for the prosecution of this design they should be found to have
erred in their choice of means, their mistakes, unless some ill
designs may justly be suspected, are to be imputed to the frailty of
human nature, and rather to be pitied, and relieved as misfortunes,
than punished as crimes.

But I doubt not, that in the course of our deliberations, we shall
find reason for concluding that they have acted not only with fidelity
but prudence; that they have chosen the means by which the great end
which the senate proposed, the succour of the queen of Hungary, and
consequently the reestablishment of the balance of power, will be most
easily attained; and that they have taken into the pay of this nation
those troops which may be trusted with the greatest security, as they
have the same prince, and the same interest.

But the honourable gentleman appears inclined to advance a new
doctrine, and to insinuate, that when any vote is passed by the
senate, the ministers are to suppose some conditions which are to be
observed, though they were never mentioned, and without which the
voice of the senate is an empty sound. In pursuance of this
supposition, he calls upon us to recollect the time and circumstances
in which this vote was passed; he reminds us, that the concession was
made in a sudden exultation of our hearts, in the raptures of triumph,
and amidst the shouts of conquest, when every man was forming
expectations which have never been gratified, and planning schemes
which could never be perfected.

He seems therefore to think, that our ministers insidiously took
advantage of our intoxication, and betrayed us in a fit of thoughtless
jollity to a promise, which when made, we hardly understood, and which
we may, therefore, now retract. He concludes, that the concession
which might then escape us ought not to have been snatched by our
ministers, and made the foundation of their conduct, because they knew
it was made upon false suppositions, and in prospect of a recompense
that never would be granted.

I hope there is no necessity for declaring, that this reasoning cannot
safely be admitted, since, if the vote of the senate be not a
sufficient warrant for any measure, no man can undertake the
administration of our affairs, and that government which no man will
venture to serve must be quickly at an end.

For my part, I know not how the nation or the senate has been
disappointed of any just expectations, nor can I conceive that any
such disappointments vacate their votes or annul their resolutions,
and therefore I cannot but think the ministry sufficiently justified,
if they can show that they have not deviated from them.

Lord QUARENDON spoke next to the effect following:--Sir, I am so far
from thinking that the past conduct or the present proposals of the
ministry deserve approbation, that, in my opinion, all the arguments
which have been produced in their favour are apparently fallacious,
and even the positions on which they are founded, and which are laid
down as uncontrovertible, are generally false.

It is first asserted, that we are indispensably obliged to assist the
queen of Hungary against France, and to support her in the possession
of the hereditary dominions of the Austrian house, and from thence is
precipitately inferred the necessity of assembling armies, and hiring
mercenaries, of exhausting our treasure, and heaping new burdens upon
the publick.

That we concurred with other powers in promising to support the
Pragmatick sanction is not to be denied, nor do I intend to insinuate,
that the faith of treaties ought not strictly to be kept; but we are
not obliged to perform more than we promised, or take upon ourselves
the burden which was to be supported by the united strength of many
potentates, and of which we only engaged to bear a certain part. We
ought, undoubtedly, to furnish the troops which we promised, and ought
to have sent them when they were first demanded; but there is no
necessity that we should supply the deficiencies of every other power,
and that we should determine to stand alone in defence of the
Pragmatick sanction; that we should, by romantick generosity,
impoverish our country, and entail upon remotest posterity poverty and
taxes. We ought to be honest at all events; we are at liberty,
likewise, to be generous at our own expense, but I think we have
hardly a right to boast of our liberality, when we contract debts for
the advantage of the house of Austria, and leave them to be paid by
the industry or frugality of succeeding ages.

It is, therefore, at least, dubious, whether we ought to hazard more
than we promised in defence of the house of Austria; and,
consequently, the first proposition of those who have undertaken the
defence of the ministry requires to be better established, before it
becomes the basis of an argument.

But though it be allowed, that we ought to exceed our stipulations,
and engage more deeply in this cause than we have promised, I cannot
yet discover upon what principles it can be proved, that sixteen
thousand Hanoverians ought to be hired. Why were not our troops sent
which have been so long maintained at home only for oppression and
show? Why have they not at last been shown the use of those weapons
which they have so long carried, and the advantages of that exercise
which they have been taught to perform with so much address? Why have
they not, at length, been shown for what they had so long received
their pay, and informed, that the duty of a soldier is not wholly
performed by strutting at a review?

If it be urged, that so great a number could not be sent out of the
kingdom without exposing it to insults and irruptions, let it be
remembered how small a force was found sufficient for the defence of
the kingdom in the late war, when the French were masters of a fleet
which disputed, for many years, the empire of the sea; and it will
appear, whether it ought to be imputed to prudence or to cowardice,
that our ministers cannot now think the nation safe without thrice the
number, though our fleets cover the ocean, and steer from one coast to
another without an enemy.

But to show more fully the insufficiency of the vindication which has
been attempted, and prove, that no concession will enable the ministry
to defend their schemes, even this assertion shall be admitted. We
will allow for the present, that it is necessary to garrison an island
with numerous forces against an enemy that has no fleet. I will grant,
that invaders may be conveyed through the air, and that the
formidable, the detestable pretender may, by some subterraneous
passage, enter this kingdom, and start on a sudden into the throne.
Yet will not all this liberality avail our ministers, since it may be
objected, that new forces might easily have been raised, and our own
island have been, at once, defended, and the queen of Hungary assisted
by our native troops.

Since the necessity of expedition is urged, it may reasonably be
inquired, what it was that appeared so immediately necessary, or what
has been brought to pass by this wonderful expedition? Was it
necessary to form an army to do nothing? Could not an expedition in
which nothing was performed, in which nothing was attempted, have been
delayed for a short time, and might not the queen of Hungary have been
preserved equally, whether the troops of her allies slept and fattened
in her country or their own?

Nothing, surely, can be more ridiculous than to expatiate upon the
necessity of raising with expedition an useless body of forces, which
has only been a burden to the country in which it has been stationed,
and for which pay is now demanded, though they have neither seen a
siege nor a battle; though they have made no attempt themselves, nor
hindered any that might have been made by the enemy.

To make this plea yet more contemptible, we are informed, that if we
had raised an army of our countrymen, they would have been
unacquainted with arms and discipline, and, therefore, they could not
have done what has been done by these far-famed Hanoverians. This,
indeed, I cannot understand, having never found, that the Britons
needed any documents or rules to enable them to eat and drink at the
expense of others, to bask in the sun, or to loiter in the street, or
perform any of the wonders that may be ascribed to our new
auxiliaries; and, therefore, I cannot but think, that all the actions
of the four months for which those forces expect to be paid, might
have been brought to pass by new-raised Britons, who might in the mean
time have learned their exercise, and have been made equal to any
other soldiers that had never seen a battle.

But if foreign troops were necessary, I am still at a loss to find out
why those of Hanover were chosen, since it appears to me, that by
hiring out his troops to Britain, our monarch only weakens one hand to
strengthen the other. It might be expected, that he should have
employed these troops against France without hire, since he is not
less obliged, either by treaty or policy, to protect the house of
Austria as elector of Hanover, than as king of Britain.

Since, therefore, the troops of Hanover were hired, without the
consent of the senate, they have hitherto performed nothing; and since
it is reasonable to expect, that without being paid by Britain they
will be employed against the French, I think it expedient to discharge
them from our service, and to delay the pay which is required for the
last four months, till it shall appear how they have deserved it.

Mr. FOX then rose, and spoke to the following purport:--Sir, though
the observations of the right honourable gentleman must be allowed to
be ingenious, and though the eloquence with which he has delivered
them, naturally excites attention and regard, yet I am obliged to
declare, that I have received rather pleasure than conviction from his
oratory; and that while I applaud his imagination and his diction, I
cannot but conclude, that they have been employed in bestowing
ornaments upon errour.

I shall not, indeed, attempt to confute every assertion which I think
false, or detect the fallacy of every argument which appears to me
sophistical, but shall leave to others the province of showing the
necessity of engaging in the war on the continent, of employing a
large force for the preservation of the house of Austria, and of
forming that army with the utmost expedition, and of taking
auxiliaries into our pay, and confine myself to this single question,
whether, supposing auxiliaries necessary, it was not prudent to hire
the troops of Hanover?

Nothing can be, in my opinion, more apparent, than that if the
necessity of hiring troops be allowed, which surely cannot be
questioned, the troops of Hanover are to be chosen before any other,
and that the ministry consulted in their resolutions the real interest
of their country, as well as that of our ally.

The great argument which has in all ages been used against mercenary
troops, is the suspicion which may justly be entertained of their
fidelity. Mercenaries, it is observed, fight only for pay, without any
affection for the master whom they serve, without any zeal for the
cause which they espouse, and without any prospect of advantage from
success, more than empty praises, or the plunder of the field, and,
therefore, have no motives to incite them against danger, nor any
hopes to support them in fatigues; that they can lose nothing by
flight, but plunder, nor by treachery, but honour; and that,
therefore, they have nothing to throw into the balance against the
love of life, or the temptations of a bribe, and will never be able to
stand against men that fight for their native country under the
command of generals whom they esteem and love, and whom they cannot
desert or disobey, without exposing themselves to perpetual exile, or
to capital punishment.

These arguments have always been of great force, and, therefore, that
nation whose defence has been intrusted to foreigners, has always been
thought in danger of ruin. Yet there have been conjunctures in which
almost every state has been obliged to rely upon mercenaries, and in
compliance with immediate necessity, to depend upon the fidelity of
those who had no particular interest in supporting them. But with much
greater reason may we trust the success of the present war, in some
degree, to the troops of Hanover, as they are, perhaps, the only
foreign forces against which the arguments already recited are of no
force. They are foreigners, indeed, as they are born in another
country, and governed by laws different from ours; but they are the
subjects of the same prince, and, therefore, naturally fight under the
same command; they have the same interest with ourselves in the
present contest, they have the same hopes and the same fears, they
recommend themselves equally to their sovereign by their bravery, and
can neither discover cowardice nor treachery, without suffering all
the punishment that can be feared by our native troops, since their
conduct must be censured by the same prince of whose approbation they
are equally ambitious, and of whose displeasure they are equally

As to the troops which any neutral prince might furnish, there would
be reason to fear, that either for larger pay, or upon any casual
dispute that might arise, they might be withdrawn from our service
when they were most needed, or transferred to the enemy at a time when
his distress might compel him to offer high terms, and when,
therefore, there was a near prospect of an advantageous peace. But of
the troops of Hanover no such suspicion can be formed, since they
cannot engage against us without rebelling against their prince; for
it cannot be imagined, that his majesty will fight on one side as
elector of Hanover, and on the other as king of Britain; or that he
will obstruct the success of his own arms, by furnishing the troops of
Hanover to the enemies of this kingdom.

It, therefore, appears very evident, that we have more to hope and
less to fear from the troops of Hanover, than from any other; since
they have the same reason with ourselves to desire the success of the
queen of Hungary, and to dread the increasing greatness of the French;
and that they can be suspected neither of treachery nor desertion. It
is not very consistent with that candour with which every man ought to
dispute on publick affairs, to censure those measures which have been
proposed, without proposing others that are more eligible; for it is
the duty of every man to promote the business of the publick; nor do I
know why he that employs his sagacity only to obstruct it, should
imagine, that he is of any use in the national council.

I doubt not but I shall hear many objections against the use of these
troops, and that upon this question, virulence and ridicule will be
equally employed. But for my part, I shall be little affected either
with the laughter that may be raised by some, or the indignation that
may be expressed by others, but shall vote for the continuance of
these measures till better shall be proposed; and shall think, that
these troops ought to be retained, unless it can be shown, that any
others may be had, who may be less dangerous, or of greater use.

Mr. PITT then rose up, and spoke, in substance as follows:--Sir, if
the honourable gentleman determines to abandon his present sentiments
as soon as any better measures are proposed, I cannot but believe,
that the ministry will very quickly be deprived of one of their ablest
defenders; for I think the measures which have hitherto been pursued
so weak and pernicious, that scarcely any alteration can be proposed
that will not be for the advantage of the nation.

He has already been informed, that there was no necessity of hiring
auxiliary troops, since it does not yet appear, that either justice or
policy required us to engage in the quarrels of the continent, that
there was any need of forming an army in the Low Countries, or that,
in order to form an army, auxiliaries were necessary.

But not to dwell upon disputable questions, I think it may be justly
concluded, that the measures of our ministry have been ill concerted,
because it is undoubtedly wrong to squander the publick money without
effect, and to pay armies only to be a show to our friends, and a jest
to our enemies.

The troops of Hanover, whom we are now expected to pay, marched into
the Low Countries, indeed, and still remain in the same place; they
marched to the place most distant from enemies, least in danger of an
attack, and most strongly fortified, if any attack had been designed;
nor have any claim to be paid, but that they left their own country
for a place of greater security.

It is always reasonable to judge of the future by the past; and,
therefore, it is reasonable to conclude, that the services of these
troops will not, next year, be of equal importance with that for which
they are now to be paid; and I shall not be surprised, though the
opponents of the ministry should be challenged, after such another
glorious campaign, to propose better men, and should be told, that the
money of this nation cannot be more properly employed than in hiring
Hanoverians to eat and sleep.

But to prove yet more particularly, that better measures may be taken,
and that more useful troops may be retained, and that, therefore, the
honourable gentleman may be expected to quit those to whom he now
adheres, I shall show, that in hiring the forces of Hanover, we have
obstructed our own designs; that we have, instead of assisting the
queen of Hungary, withdrawn part of her allies from her; and that we
have burdened the nation with troops, from whom no service can be
reasonably expected.

The advocates for the ministry have, on this occasion, affected to
speak of the balance of power, the Pragmatick sanction, and the
preservation of the queen of Hungary, not only as if they were to be
the chief care of Britain, which, though easily controvertible, might,
perhaps, in compliance with long prejudices, be admitted, but as if
they were to be the care of Britain alone; as if the power of France
were formidable to no other people, as if no other part of the world
would be injured by becoming a province to an universal monarchy, and
being subjected to an arbitrary government of a French deputy, by
being drained of its inhabitants, only to extend the conquests of its
masters, and to make other nations equally miserable, and by being
oppressed with exorbitant taxes, levied by military executions, and
employed only in supporting the state of its oppressors. They dwell
upon the importance of publick faith, and the necessity of an exact
observation of treaties; as if the Pragmatick sanction had been signed
by no other potentate than the king of Britain, or as if the publick
faith were to be obligatory to us only.

That we should inviolably observe our treaties, and observe them
though every other nation should disregard them; that we should show
an example of fidelity to mankind, and stand firm, though we should
stand alone in the practice of virtue, I shall readily allow; and,
therefore, I am far from advising that we should recede from our
stipulations, whatever we may suffer by performing them, or neglect
the support of the Pragmatick sanction, however we may be at present
embarrassed, or however inconvenient it may be to assert it.

But surely for the same reason that we observe our own stipulations,
we ought to incite other powers, likewise, to the observation of
theirs; at least not contribute to hinder it. But how is our present
conduct agreeable to these principles? The Pragmatick sanction was
confirmed not only by the king of Britain, but by the elector,
likewise, of Hanover, who is, therefore, equally obliged, if treaties
constitute obligation, to defend the house of Austria against the
attacks of any foreign power, and to send in his proportion of troops
to the support of the queen of Hungary.

Whether these troops have been sent, those whose provinces oblige them
to some knowledge of foreign affairs, can inform the house with more
certainty than I; but since we have not heard them mentioned in this
debate, and have found, by experience, that none of the merits of that
electorate are passed over in silence, it may, I think, fairly be
concluded, that the distresses of the illustrious queen of Hungary
have yet received no alleviation from her alliance with Hanover, that
her complaints have moved no compassion at that court, nor the justice
of her cause obtained any regard.

To what can we impute this negligence of treaties, this disregard of
justice, this defect of compassion, but to the pernicious counsels of
those men who have advised his majesty to hire to Britain those troops
which he should have employed in the assistance of the queen of
Hungary; for it is not to be imagined, that his majesty has more or
less regard to justice as king of Britain, than as elector of Hanover;
or that he would not have sent his proportion of troops to the
Austrian army, had not the temptations of greater profit been
industriously laid before him.

But this is not all that may be urged against this conduct; for can we
imagine, that the power of France is less, or that her designs are
less formidable to Hanover than to Britain? nor is it less necessary
for the security of Hanover, that the house of Austria should be
reestablished in its former grandeur, and enabled to support the
liberties of Europe against the bold attempts for universal monarchy.

If, therefore, our assistance be an act of honesty, and granted in
consequence of treaties, why may it not equally be required of
Hanover? And if it be an act of generosity, why should this nation
alone be obliged to sacrifice her own interest to that of others? Or
why should the elector of Hanover exert his liberality at the expense
of Britain?

It is now too apparent, that this great, this powerful, this
formidable kingdom, is considered only as a province to a despicable
electorate; and that, in consequence of a scheme formed long ago, and
invariably pursued, these troops are hired only to drain this unhappy
nation of its money. That they have hitherto been of no use to
Britain, or to Austria, is evident beyond controversy; and, therefore,
it is plain, that they are retained only for the purposes of Hanover.

How much reason the transactions of almost every year have given for
suspecting this ridiculous, ungrateful, and perfidious partiality, it
is not necessary to mention. I doubt not but most of those who sit in
this house can recollect a great number of instances, from the
purchase of part of the Swedish dominions, to the contract which we
are now called upon to ratify. I hope few have forgotten the memorable
stipulation for the Hessian troops, for the forces of the duke of
Wolfenbuttel, which we were scarcely to march beyond the verge of
their own country, or the ever memorable treaty, of which the tendency
is discovered in the name; the treaty by which we disunited ourselves
from Austria, destroyed that building which we may, perhaps, now
endeavour, without success, to raise again, and weakened the only
power which it was our interest to strengthen.

To dwell upon all the instances of partiality which have been shown,
to remark the yearly visits that have been made to that delightful
country, to reckon up all the sums that have been spent to aggrandize
and enrich it, would be at once invidious and tiresome; tiresome to
those who are afraid to hear the truth, and to those who are unwilling
to mention facts dishonourable or injurious to their country; nor
shall I dwell any longer on this unpleasing subject than to express my
hopes, that we shall not any longer suffer ourselves to be deceived
and oppressed; that we shall at length perform the duty of the
representatives of the people, and by refusing to ratify this
contract, show, that however the interest of Hanover has been
preferred by the ministers, the senate pays no regard but to that of

Mr. Horace WALPOLE then spoke to the following purpose:--Sir, though I
have long considered the mercenary scribblers of disaffection as the
disgrace of the kingdom and the pest of society, yet I was never so
fully sensible of their pernicious influence.

I have hitherto imagined, that the weekly journalists and the
occasional pamphleteers were the oracles only of the lowest of the
people; and that all those whom their birth or fortune has exalted
above the crowd, and introduced to a more extensive conversation, had
considered them as wretches compelled to write by want, and obliged,
therefore, to write what will most engage attention, by flattering the
envy or the malignity of mankind; and who, therefore, propagate
falsehoods themselves, not because they believe them, and disseminate
faction, not because they are of any party, but because they are
either obliged to gratify those that employ them, or to amuse the
publick with novelties, or disturb it with alarms, that their works
may not pass unregarded, and their labour be spent in vain.

This is my opinion of the party writers, and this I imagined the
opinion of the rest of mankind, who had the same opportunities of
information with myself: nor should I readily have believed, that any
of their performances could have produced greater effects than those
of inflaming the lowest classes of the people, and inciting drunkards
to insult their superiours, had I not perceived, that the honourable
gentleman who spoke last, owed his opinions of the partiality shown to
the dominions of Hanover, to a late treatise which has, on occasion of
this contract, been very industriously dispersed among the people.

Of this detestable pamphlet, I know not the author, nor think he
deserves that any inquiry should be made after him, except by a
proclamation that may set a price upon his head, and offer the same
reward for discovering him, as is given for the conviction of wretches
less criminal: nor can I think the lenity of the government easily to
be distinguished from supineness and negligence, while libels like
this are dispersed openly in the streets, and sold in shops without
fear and without danger; while sedition is professedly promoted, and
treason, or sentiments very nearly bordering upon treason, propagated
without disguise.

The scribbler of this wicked treatise has endeavoured to corrupt the
principles of his majesty's faithful subjects, not only by vilifying
the memory of the late king, whose justice, humanity, and integrity,
are generally reverenced, but by insinuating, likewise, that our
present most gracious sovereign has adopted the same schemes, and
endeavours to aggrandize Hanover at the expense of Britain; that all
the measures that have been taken with regard to the affairs of the
continent, have been contrived with no other view than that of
advancing the interest, enlarging the bounds, and increasing the
riches of the Hanoverian territories; he declares, that Britain has
been steered by the rudder of Hanover, and that the nation will soon
be divided into two more opposite and irreconcilable parties than ever
yet disturbed the publick peace, Britons and Hanoverians.

That he himself, whoever he be, longs for those times of division and
confusion, may be easily believed, and the number of those who have
the same wishes with himself, is, I fear, too great; but I believe
their hopes will not be encouraged, nor their designs promoted in this
house; and that none of those who are intrusted to represent their
country, will suffer themselves to be misled by such wicked

Mr. NUGENT then spoke to this effect:--Sir, I know not for what reason
the honourable gentleman has thought it convenient, to retard the
deliberations of this house, by expatiating upon the falsehood and
malignity of a pamphlet, of which the author is unknown, of which no
man has attempted the vindication, and which, however diligently
dispersed, or however generally credited, appears to have had no great
influence upon the nation, nor to have produced any effects that might
give just occasion to so tragical an outcry, to censures as vehement
and bitter, as if the trumpet of rebellion had been sounded, as if
half the people had taken arms against their governours, as if the
commonwealth was on the brink of dissolution, and armies were in full
march against the metropolis.

This pamphlet, with the rest of the people, I have read; and though I
am far from thinking, that the censure of that honourable gentleman
can make a defence necessary, since, indeed, be has contented himself
with invective instead of argument, and, whatever he may disapprove,
has confuted nothing: and though I have no particular reason for
exposing myself as the champion for this author, whoever he may be,
yet I cannot forbear to affirm, that I read some passages with
conviction, and that, in my opinion, they require a different answer
from those which have been yet offered; and that the impressions which
have been made upon the people, will not be effaced by clamour and
rage, and turbulence and menaces, which can affect only the person of
the writer, but must leave his reasons in their full force, and even
with regard to his person, will have very little effect; for though
some men in power may be offended, it will not be easy to quote any
law that has been broken by him.

On this occasion I cannot but animadvert, I hope with the same pardon
from the house, as has been obtained by the honourable gentleman whom
I am now following, upon an expression in frequent use among the
followers of a court, whenever their measures are censured with spirit
and with justice. The papers which they cannot confute, and which they
have not yet been able to obtain the power of suppressing, are
asserted to _border_ upon treason; and the authors are threatened with
punishments, when they have nothing to fear from a reply.

Treason is happily denned by our laws, and, therefore, every man may
know when he is about to commit it, and avoid the danger of
punishment, by avoiding the act which will expose him to it; but with
regard to the _borders_ of treason, I believe no man will yet pretend
to say how far they extend, or how soon, or with how little intention
he may tread upon them. Unhappy would be the man who should be
punished for _bordering_ upon guilt, of which those fatal _borders_
are to be dilated at pleasure by his judges. The law has hitherto
supposed every man, who is not _guilty_, to be _innocent_; but now we
find that there is a kind of medium, in which a man may be in danger
without guilt, and that in order to security, a new degree of caution
is become necessary; for not only crimes, but the borders of crimes
are to be avoided.

What improvements may be made upon this new system, how far the
borders of treason may reach, or what pains and penalties are designed
for the _borderers_, no degree of human sagacity can enable us to
foresee. Perhaps the borders of royalty may become sacred, as well as
the borders of treason criminal; and as every placeman, pensioner, and
minister, may be said to border on the court, a kind of sanctity may
be communicated to his character, and he that lampoons or opposes him,
may border upon treason.

To dismiss this expression with the contempt which it deserves, yet
not without the reflections which it naturally excites, I shall only
observe, that all extension of the power of the crown must be
dangerous to us; and that whoever endeavours to find out new modes of
guilt, is to be looked on, not as a good subject, but a bad citizen.

Having thus shown, that the censure produced against this pamphlet is
unintelligible and indeterminate, I shall venture to mention some of
the assertions which have heated the gentleman into so much fury.
Assertions which I cannot be supposed to favour, since I wish they
might be false, and which I only produce in this place to give some,
whom their stations make acquainted with publick affairs, an
opportunity of confuting them.

It is asserted, that the French appear to have treated all our
armaments with contempt, and to have pursued all their schemes with
the same confidence as if they had no other enemy to fear than the
forces of Austria; this is, indeed, no pleasing observation, nor can
it be supposed to give satisfaction to any Briton, to find the
reputation of our councils and of our arms so much diminished, to find
the nation which lately gave laws to Europe, scarcely admitted to
friendship, or thought worthy of opposition in enmity, to hear that
those troops, which, in the days of our former monarchs, shook the
thrones of the continent, are passed by, without fear, and without
regard, by armies marching against their allies, those allies in whose
cause they formerly fought in the field. But the truth of the
assertion is too plain to all the nations of the world; and those
whose interest it may be to conceal from their countrymen what is
known to all the continent, may rage, indeed, and threaten, but they
cannot deny it; for what enterprise have we hitherto either prevented
or retarded? What could we have done on one side, or suffered on the
other, if we had been struck out from existence, which has not been
suffered, or not done, though our armies have been reviewed on the
continent, and, to make yet a better show, lengthened out by a line of
sixteen thousand of the troops of Hanover.

It is asserted in the same treatise, that the troops of Hanover cannot
act against the king, and that, therefore, they are an useless burden
to the state; that they compose an army of which no other effect will
be found but that they eat, and eat at the expense of Britain. This
assertion is, indeed, somewhat more contestable than the former, but
is at least credible; since, if we may be permitted on this, as on
other occasions, to judge of the future from the past, we may
conclude, that those who have let pass such opportunities as their
enemies have in the height of contempt and security presented to them,
will hardly ever repair the effects of their conduct, by their bravery
or activity in another campaign; but that they will take the pay of
Britain, and, while they fatten in plenty, and unaccustomed affluence,
look with great tranquillity upon the distresses of Austria, and, in
their indolence of gluttony, stand idle spectators of that deluge, by
which, if it be suffered to roll on without opposition, their own
halcyon territories must at last be swallowed up.

The last assertion which I shall extract from this formidable
pamphlet, is more worthy of attention than the former, but, perhaps,
may be suspected to border more nearly upon treason: I shall, however,
venture to quote, and, what is still more dangerous, to defend it.

It is proposed that, instead of squandering, in this time of danger,
the expenses of the publick upon troops of which it is at best
doubtful, whether they will be of any use to the queen of Hungary,
whether they can legally engage against the king, and whether they
would be of any great use, though they were set free from any other
restraints than regard to their own safety; instead of amusing our
ally with an empty show of assistance, of mocking her calamities with
unefficacious friendship, and of exposing ourselves to the ridicule of
our enemies, by idle armaments without hostility, by armies only to be
reviewed, and fleets only to be victualled, we should remit the sums
required for the payment of the Hanoverians to the queen of Hungary,
by whom we know that it will be applied to the great purposes for
which the senate granted it, the establishment of the liberties of
Europe, and the repression of the house of Bourbon.

This proposal, however contrary to the opinion of the ministers, I
take the liberty of recommending to the consideration of the house,
as, in my opinion, the most effectual method of preserving the remains
of the greatness of the house of Austria. It is well known, that these
troops are hired at a rate which they never expected before, that
levy-money is paid for forces levied before the commencement of the
bargain, that they are paid for acting a long time before they began
to march, and that, since they appeared to consider themselves as
engaged in the quarrel, their march has been their whole performance,
a march not against the enemy, but from him; a march, in which there
was nothing to fear, nor any thing to encounter; and, therefore, I
think it cannot be denied, that the publick treasure might have been
better employed.

The same sum remitted to the queen of Hungary, will enable her to hire
a much greater number of troops out of her own dominions, troops of
whose courage she can have no doubt, and whose fidelity will be
strengthened by common interest and natural affection; troops that
will fight like men, defending their wives and their children, and who
will, therefore, bear fatigue with patience, and face danger with
resolution; who will oppose the French as their natural enemies, and
think death more eligible than defeat.

Thus shall we assert the rights of mankind, and support the faith of
treaties, oppose the oppressors of the world, and restore our ancient
allies to their former greatness, without exhausting our own country;
for it is not impossible, that by the proper use of this sum, the
queen may obtain such advantages in one campaign, as may incline the
French to desert the king, and content themselves with the peaceable
possession of their own territories; for it is to be remembered, that
they are now fighting only for a remote interest, and that they will
not hazard much; a firm resistance will easily incline them to wait
for some more favourable opportunity, and there will be then leisure
for forming our measures in such a manner, that another opportunity
may never be offered them.

But of the present scheme, what effect can be expected but ignominy
and shame, disgrace abroad, and beggary at home? to this expense what
limits can be set? when is there to be an end of paying troops who are
not to march against our enemies? as they will at all times be of
equal use, there will be at all times the same reason for employing
them, nor can there ever be imagined less need of idle troops, than in
a time of war.

I am, therefore, afraid, that in a short time the Hanoverians may
consider Britain as a tributary province, upon which they have a right
to impose the maintenance of sixteen thousand men, who are to be
employed only for the defence of their own country, though supported
at the expense of this. I am afraid that we shall be taught to
imagine, that the appearance of the Hanoverians is necessary in our
own country, perhaps to check the insolence of the sons of freedom,
who, without fear, border upon treason. I am afraid, that his majesty
or his successour may be advised by sycophants and slaves to trust the
guard of his person to the trusty Hanoverians, and advised to place no
confidence in the natives of Britain.

For my part, I think it a very wise precept by which we are directed
to obviate evils in the beginning; and therefore, since, in my
opinion, the influence of Hanover must be destructive to the royal
family, and detrimental to those kingdoms, I shall endeavour to
obviate it by voting against any provision for these useless
mercenaries, and declaring that I shall more willingly grant the
publick money to any troops than those of Hanover.

Lord PERCIVAL spoke next as follows:--Sir, I look upon the question
now under your consideration, to vary very little in reality from that
which was debated here the first day of this session. The principal
point in the debate of that day, was the same with that which is more
regularly the debate of this, _whether the_ Hanoverian _forces should
be taken into_ British _pay_?

Sir, I should then have offered my sentiments upon this question, if
so many other gentlemen had not delivered my sense in so much a better
manner than I thought myself able to do, that it would have appeared a
great presumption in me, and would have given the house an unnecessary
trouble. The same reason had induced me to have been silent also upon
this occasion, if the temper of the times, the little indulgence shown
by gentlemen to one another, when they happen to differ in political
opinions, and the popular circumstance in which I stand, did not in
some sort oblige me to protect the vote I then gave, and that which I
now intend to give, by the reasons that induce me to give it.

Sir, there are three principal considerations in this question; first,
whether we are to assist the house of Austria and balance of power at
all, aye or no? then, whether we ought to do it with our whole force?
and lastly, whether the Hanoverian troops should be made a part of
that force?

As to the first consideration, a new doctrine has been taught and
inculcated for some months past, that it is of no importance to this
nation what may happen on the continent; that this country being an
island intrenched within its own natural boundaries, it may stand
secure and unconcerned in all the storms of the rest of the world.
This doctrine, inconsistent as it is with all sense and reason,
contrary as it is to the universal principles of policy by which this
nation hath been governed from the conquest to this hour, is yet
openly professed and avowed by many without these walls; and though no
man has yet ventured to own this opinion publickly and directly in
this house, yet some gentlemen even here, in effect maintain it, when
they argue, that in no case this nation ought to assist or support the
balance of power without the concurrence of the Dutch. This tends
inevitably to produce the same fatal effect; it reduces this country
to depend upon Holland, to be a province to Holland; and France would
then have no more to do to become mistress of all Europe, than to gain
over one single town of the United Provinces, or to corrupt a few
members of the States; it is, therefore, a doctrine of the greatest
danger. The only solid maxim is, that whoever becomes master of the
continent, must in the end obtain the dominion of the sea. To confirm
this, I may venture to cite an old example, nor can I be accused of
pedantry in doing of it, since it is an instance drawn from the last
universal monarchy to which the world submitted. The Romans had no
sooner divided, broken and subdued those powers upon the continent of
Europe, who had given a diversion in the great attempt they had long
intended, than they attacked the Carthaginians, a maritime power,
potent in arms, immensely opulent, possessed of the trade of the whole
world, and unrivalled mistress of the sea. Yet these people, who
enjoyed no wealth, pursued no commerce, and at the commencement of
their quarrel were not masters of a single ship, at length prevailed
against this enemy upon their proper element, beat and destroyed their
fleets, invaded their dominions, and subdued their empire. From
whence, sir, I must conclude, that we cannot wholly rely upon our
situation, or depend solely on our naval power; and I may venture to
reason upon this axiom, _that this nation must contribute to support
the house of Austria and the balance of power in some degree_.

The next question that occurs, is, in what degree we ought to do it,
and whether we should do it with our whole force? Taking, therefore,
our footing here upon this axiom, that we must contribute to it in
some degree, and taking farther to our aid the reasoning of those
gentlemen, who think it a work of such extreme danger, and almost
desperate, the natural and evident conclusion can be only this, that
as we must do it, so we must do it _with the utmost vigour, and with
our whole force_.

We come now to consider, whether the Hanoverian troops should be made
part of that force? There are several considerations previous to the
decision of this question. First, whether they are _as cheap_ as any
other forces we can hire? Then, whether they are _as good_? Next,
whether they are as properly _situated_? And whether they are _as much
to be depended upon_? If, as to every one of these particulars, the
answer must be made in the affirmative, I think it will go very far to
determine the question now before you.

As to the first, _that they are as cheap_, nay, upon the whole, much
cheaper, the estimates now upon your table, notwithstanding any cavil,
do sufficiently demonstrate.

_That they are as good_, what man can doubt, who knows the character
of the German nation? What man can doubt, who knows the attention of
his majesty to military discipline? Those gentlemen can least pretend
to doubt it, who sometimes do not spare reflections upon that
attention which they insinuate to be too great.

That these troops are not properly _situated_, will be hardly asserted
at this time, when they are actually now in Flanders, and now acting
in conjunction with our troops. Let any man consider the map of
Europe, let him observe the seat of the war, and he must evidently
see, that whether their service may be required in Flanders, whether
upon the Rhine, or in the heart of Germany, in every one of these
cases, the Hanoverian forces are _as properly circumstanced and
situated as any troops in Europe_.

It remains in the last place to examine, _whether any other troops can
be better depended upon_; and sure nothing can be more obvious than
that we may rely with more security on these than any other. They are
subjects of the same prince, and of a prince indulgent to all his
subjects, and accused by those who differ in other points from me, of
being partial against the interest of his German dominions. Unless,
therefore, we arraign the first principle upon which a free government
can be supported, and without which every exercise of arbitrary power
would be warranted, we must allow that such a people will be faithful
to such a prince, will defend him with a strict fidelity, and support
his quarrel with the utmost zeal; with a zeal which can never be
expected from the mercenary troops of any other foreign power.

This naturally leads us to inquire what other troops we can depend
upon; the answer to this inquiry is short and positive; that as
affairs now stand abroad, we can depend upon none but these; let us
carry this consideration with us in a survey of all Europe; _shall we
take into our pay sixteen thousand of the Dutch?_ Would this be the
means of bringing Holland into alliance with us? Would they act at
their own expense, would they exert their own proper force? Would they
pay their own troops in aid of the common cause, when they found this
nation ready to do it for them? They would act like madmen if they
did. _Shall we hire_ Danes? Is there a gentleman in this house, who is
not convinced that this power has been warped, for some time past,
towards the interest of France? When we hired these troops in the last
instance, did they not deceive us? Did they not even refuse to march?
nay, farther, are they not in all appearance now upon the point of
being employed in a quarrel of their own? a quarrel in which they will
have need of all their force. _Shall we then hire_ Saxons? An
honourable gentleman seemed to think that there may be some
possibility of this, and perhaps there may hereafter, when the king of
Prussia's views are known, and the part he shall resolve to act; but
Saxony is certainly now too much exposed to, and cannot fail to be
alarmed at his growing power; at the great augmentation of his armies,
and the secret and vast designs which he seems to meditate. This
measure, therefore, is not practicable in the present conjuncture;
that electorate cannot hazard its own security in these precarious
circumstances, by lending out so great a body of its troops. Would
gentlemen advise the hire of Prussian troops to serve us in this
conjuncture? They who do advise it, must forget strangely the part so
lately acted by that prince, and the variety of his conduct with
regard to his different allies within the space of the two last years.
I shall guard myself in my expressions, and maintain a proper respect
in discoursing of so great a character; but I must say thus much, that
the ministry would act with great imprudence, to put the safety of the
British troops, and to risk the fate of this army, upon the event of
such a measure. I need not say more; for it is not yet proved to us,
that this prince would (I wish there was no reason to believe he would
not) lend us this body of his men, though we should be disposed to
take them into pay. _The Swiss cantons, therefore, now alone remain_;
and indeed from them we probably might procure a greater number; but I
leave it to the judgment of any man of sense and candour, whether any
minister of this nation could warrant the employment of sixteen
thousand Swiss in this service? For when we reflect upon the situation
of these provinces, and compare it with that of our British troops who
are now in Flanders, it is visible that they must pass four hundred
miles upon the borders of the Rhine, flanked by the strong places of
France, during their whole march, exposed to the garrisons and armies
upon that frontier, by whom it can never be supposed that they would
be suffered to pass unmolested, when France must so well know the
intention of their march to be for no other end, but to make a
conjunction with other troops in the British pay, in order afterwards
to invade, or at least to interrupt the views of that kingdom with
their united force.

These reasons, sir, prove invincibly to me, that if we are to assist
the house of Austria by an army, we must, of prudence, nay, of
necessity, in part, compose that army of the Hanoverian troops.

But yet there is another state of this question, an alternative of
which some gentlemen seem very fond, _whether it would not be better
to assist the queen of Hungary with money only?_

This opinion at first sight is extremely plausible; if the queen of
Hungary has been able to do so much with an aid of 500,000 _l_. what
might she not be able to do with a million more? Sir, a million more
would by no means answer in the same proportion. When a sum is given
her, which with the best economy can suffice barely to put her troops
in motion, when the enemy is at her very gates, her all at an
immediate stake, there can be no room for a misapplication of it. But
a sum so immense as that of a million and a half, would dazzle the
eyes of a court so little used to see such sums; and as an honourable
gentleman, [Mr. Horace WALPOLE,] long versed in foreign affairs, and
well acquainted with these matters, told you in a former debate, would
be much of it squandered among the Austrian ministers and favourites.
I make no scruple to add to this, that some small part might fall to
the share of ministers elsewhere. But there is another danger which
gentlemen who contend for this measure do not consider: can they who
profess a distrust of all ministers, and particularly those who are
now employed at home; they who have ever argued against all votes of
credit, upon this principle, that it affords an opportunity to
ministers of defrauding the service, and of putting large sums into
the purse of the crown, or into their private pockets; can they now
argue for this measure, which I may be bold to say, would be in effect
the most enormous vote of credit that was ever given in the world?
Gentlemen insinuate, that the taking the Hanoverian forces into
British pay, is a criminal complaisance, calculated only to confirm an
infant and a tottering administration. But how much greater means for
such a purpose, would an alternative like this afford? Suppose a
minister, unfirm in his new-acquired power, to ingratiate himself with
his prince, should propose a scheme to replenish the coffers of an
exhausted civil list, squandered in such vile purposes, that no man
could have the hardiness to come to parliament, or dare to hope a
supply for it by any regular application to this house? What method
could be devised by such a minister himself, to do the job more
excellent than this? For who can doubt that (guard it how you will)
the queen of Hungary might be induced, in the condition in which she
now stands, to accept a million, and to give a receipt in full for the
whole sum? How could you prevent an understanding of this kind between
two courts? and how easy, therefore, might it be to sink 500,000 _l_.
out of so vast a grant? Sir, I will suspect no minister, but I will
trust none in this degree; and I wonder other gentlemen do not
suspect, if I do not. From hence, therefore, I consider this as a
proposition both fallacious and unsafe; for though it be a fact, that
the same sum of money might maintain in Austria double the number of
troops; yet, if no more than half that money should be applied (as I
have shown great reason to believe that it would not) to the uses of
the war, it is evident that you would deceive yourselves, and would
have but an equal number of raw, irregular, undisciplined, and much
worse troops for it.

But, sir, there is yet a stronger argument against the supply in money
only. What are our views in supporting the queen of Hungary? Our views
are _general_ and _particular_; _general_, to save the house of
Austria, and to preserve a balance of power; _particular_, to prevent
the French from making any farther acquisitions on this side of
Flanders. The first might possibly be answered in a good degree, by
giving that princess an equivalent in money; but the second cannot be
securely provided against, without an army on this side of Europe in
the British pay. Sir, is it not natural for every one of us to guard
our vital parts, rather than our more remote members? Would not the
queen of Hungary (stipulate and condition with her as you please)
apply the greatest part of these subsidies in defence of her dominions
in the heart of Germany? Might it not even induce her to enlarge her
views, and to think of conquests and equivalents for what she has
already lost, which it might be vain and ruinous for us to support her
in? Would she not leave Flanders to shift for itself, or still to be
taken care of by the Dutch and Britain? In such a case, if France
should find it no longer possible to make any impression on her
territories on the German side, what must we expect to be the
consequence? I think it very visible she would on a sudden quit her
expensive and destructive projects on that quarter, and there only
carry on a defensive war, while she fell with the greater part of her
force at once upon the Low Countries, which would by this measure be
wholly unprovided; and she might there acquire in one campaign, before
any possibility of making head against her, (which the Dutch would
hardly attempt, and could certainly not alone be able to effect,) all
that she has been endeavouring for the last century to obtain, and
what no union of powers could be ever capable of regaining from her.
All this will be effectually prevented by an army paid by us on this
side of Europe; an army ready to march to the borders of her country,
and to intercept her succours and supplies for the German war; an
army, ready to protect the petty states, whose interest and
inclination it apparently must be to declare for us, and to join their
forces with us, when they no longer fear the power of France; an army,
which may possibly give courage and spirit to greater powers, who may
still doubt, without these vigorous measures, (after what they have
formerly experienced,) whether they could even yet depend upon us; an
army, (if the posture of affairs should make it necessary,) able to
cause a powerful diversion to the French forces, by an attack upon
Lorrain and Champagne, and still within distance to return upon its
stops in time, to prevent the French from carrying any point of
consequence in Flanders, should they then attempt it.

One argument more, I beg leave to mention, and it is of great weight.
Admit that the sums raised upon the subject might be greater in the
one case than the other, the sums remitted out of the kingdom would be
infinitely less. Whatever is remitted to the queen of Hungary, is
buried in the remotest parts of Germany, and can never return to us;
whereas in a war carried on by troops in our own pay on this side, by
much the greater part of the expense returns to us again, in part by
the pay of officers, by the supply of provisions and necessaries in a
country exhausted by armies, ammunition, ordnance, horses, clothing,
accoutrements, and a multitude of other articles, which I need not
enumerate, because experience, which is the soundest reasoner, fully
proved it in the example of the last war, at the conclusion of which,
notwithstanding the prodigious sums expended in it, this nation felt
no sensible effect, from a diminution of its current specie.

Sir, I was prepared to have spoken much more largely to this subject,
but my discourse has already been drawn to a greater length than I
imagined, in treating upon the argument thus far. I shall, therefore,
avoid troubling you any farther upon it at this time; I shall only
observe, that in my humble opinion, it is sufficiently proved, first,
that we must assist the house of Austria, and that we must do it with
all our force; next, that we cannot do it with money only, but in part
with a land army, and that this land army cannot be conveniently (I
may say possibly) composed, at this time, without the Hanoverian
troops. This question, therefore, can, I think, be no longer debated,
but upon the foot of popular prejudices and insinuations of an
improper connexion of Hanoverian and British interests; but as I could
not enter into this subject without concern and indignation, and as it
is a very delicate point for me in particular to debate upon, I shall
leave this part of the question to other gentlemen, who can engage in
it both with less inconvenience, and with more ability, than it is
possible for me to do.

To which Mr. George GRENVILLE replied in substance:--Sir, though I am
far from thinking myself able to produce, without study or
premeditation, a complete answer to the elaborate and artful harangue
which you have now heard, yet as I cannot be convinced of the
reasonableness of the measures which have been defended with so much
subtilty, I shall at least endeavour to show, that my disapprobation
is not merely the effect of obstinacy, and that I have at least
considered the proposals of the ministry, before I have ventured to
condemn them.

Whether we ought to think ourselves indispensably obliged to maintain,
at all events, the balance of power on the continent, to maintain it
without allies, to maintain it against a combination of almost all
Europe, I shall not now inquire; I will suppose it, for once, our duty
to struggle with impossibility, and not only to support the house of
Austria when it is attacked, but to raise it when it is fallen; fallen
by our own negligence, and oppressed with the weight of all the
surrounding powers; and shall, therefore, at present, only inquire by
what means we may afford that assistance with most benefit to our
allies, and least danger to ourselves.

With regard to our ally, that assistance will be apparently most
advantageous to her, by which her strength will be most increased, and
therefore it may, perhaps, be more useful to her to find her money
than troops; but if we must supply her with troops, I doubt not but it
will readily appear, that we may easily find troops which may be of
more use and less expense than those of Hanover.

It has been observed, with regard to the convenient situation of those
troops, that it cannot now be denied, since they are acting in
Flanders in conjunction with the British forces. This is an assertion
to which, though it was uttered with an air of victorious confidence,
though it was produced as an insuperable argument, by which all those
who intended opposition were to be reduced to silence and despair,
many objections may be made, which it will require another harangue
equally elaborate to remove.

That the troops of Hanover are now acting in conjunction with the
Britons, I know not how any man can affirm, unless he has received
intelligence by some airy messengers, or has some sympathetick
communication with them, not indulged to the rest of mankind. None of
the accounts which have been brought hither of the affairs of the
continent have yet informed us of any action, or tendency to action;
the Hanoverians have, indeed, been reviewed in conjunction with our
forces, but have, hitherto, not acted; nor have the armies yet
cemented the alliance by any common danger, or shown yet that they are
friends otherwise than by sleeping and eating together, by eating at
the expense of the same nation.

Nor am I at present inclined to grant, that either army is situated
where it may be of most use to the queen of Hungary; for they now
loiter in a country which no enemy threatens, and in which nothing,
therefore, can be feared; a country very remote from the seat of war,
and which will probably be last attacked. If the assistance of the
queen of Hungary had been designed, there appears no reason why the
Hanoverians should have marched thither, or why this important
conjunction should have been formed, since they might, in much less
time, and with less expense, have joined the Austrians, and, perhaps,
have enabled them to defeat the designs of the French, and cut off the
retreat of the army which was sent to the relief of Prague. But this
march, though it would have been less tedious, would have been more
dangerous, and would not have been very consistent with the designs of
those who are more desirous of receiving wages than of deserving them;
nor is it likely, that those who required levy-money for troops
already levied, and who demanded that they should be paid a long time
before they began to march, would hurry them to action, or endeavour
to put a period to so gainful a trade as that of hiring troops which
are not to be exposed.

This conduct, however visibly absurd, I am very far from imputing
either to cowardice or ignorance; for there is reason to suspect, that
they marched into Flanders only because they could not appear in any
other place as the allies of the queen of Hungary, without exposing
their sovereign to the imperial interdict.

It is, therefore, not only certain, that these troops, these boasted
and important troops, have not yet been of any use; but probable, that
no use is intended for them, and that the sole view of those who have
introduced them into our service, is to pay their court by enriching
Hanover with the spoils of Britain.

That this is in reality their intention, appears from the estimates to
which an appeal has been so confidently made, but which, if they are
compared with a contract made for the troops of the same nation in the
last war, will show how much their price has risen since their
sovereign was exalted to this throne; though I cannot find any proof
that their reputation has increased, nor can discover, from their
_actions_ in Flanders, any reason to believe that their services will
be greater.

It is now to little purpose to inquire, whether there are any other
troops that could have been more properly employed, since it is
certain, that whatever may be the general character, or the late
conduct of other nations, it is the interest of Britain to employ
rather any troops than these, as any evil is rather to be chosen than
animosities between our sovereign and our fellow-subjects; and such
animosities must inevitably arise from this detestable preference of
the troops of Hanover.

[The question was carried by 67, the Ayes being 260; Noes 193. This
affair was again debated with vehemence upon the report on Monday,
December 13, 1742, upon a question, whether the levy-money should
stand part of the general question, which was carried by 53; Ayes 230,
Noes 177.]


The order of the day for taking into consideration the several
estimates of the charge of the forces in the pay of Great Britain was
read, upon which lord STANHOPE rose up, and spoke in substance as

My lords, I have always understood, that the peculiar happiness of the
British nation consists in this, that nothing of importance can be
undertaken by the government, without the consent of the people as
represented by the other house, and that of your lordships, whose
large possessions, and the merits either of your ancestors or
yourselves, have given you the privilege of voting in your own right
in national consultations.

The advantages of this constitution, the security which it confers
upon the nation, and the restraint which it lays upon corrupt
ministers, or ambitious princes, are in themselves too obvious to
admit of explanation, and too well known in this great assembly, by
whose ancestors they were originally obtained, and preserved at the
frequent hazard of life and fortune, for me to imagine, that I can
make them either more esteemed or better understood.

My intention, my lords, is not to teach others the regard which the
constitution of our government, or the happiness of the nation demands
from them, but to show how much I regard them myself, by endeavouring
to preserve and defend them at a time when I think them invaded and

Upon the examination of the estimates now before us, I cannot but
think it necessary, my lords, that every man who values liberty,
should exert that spirit by which it was first established; that every
man should rouse from his security, and awaken all his vigilance and
all his zeal, lest the bold attempt that has been now made should, if
it be not vigorously repressed, be an encouragement to the more
dangerous encroachments; and lest that fabrick of power should be
destroyed, which has been erected at such expense and with such
labour; at which one generation has toiled after another, and of which
the wisdom of the most experienced and penetrating statesmen have been
employed to perfect its symmetry, and the industry of the most
virtuous patriots to repair its decays.

The first object which the estimates force upon our observation is a
numerous body of foreign troops, for the levy and payment of which a
very large sum is demanded; and demanded at a time when the nation is
to the last degree embarrassed and oppressed, when it is engaged in a
war with a powerful empire, and almost overwhelmed with the debts that
were contracted in former confederacies; when it is engaged in a war,
not for the recovery of forgotten claims, or for the gratification of
restless ambition, not for the consumption of exuberant wealth, or for
the discharge of superfluous inhabitants; but a war, in which the most
important interests are set to hazard, and by which the freedom of
navigation must be either established or lost; a war which must
determine the sovereignty of the ocean, the rights of commerce, and
the state of our colonies; a war, in which we may, indeed, be
victorious without any increase of our reputation; but in which we
cannot be defeated without losing all our influence upon foreign
powers, and becoming subject to the insolence of petty princes.

When foreign troops are hired, at a time like this, it is natural to
expect that they have been procured by contracts uncommonly frugal;
because no nation can be supposed to be lavish in a time of distress.
It is natural, my lords, to expect that they should be employed in
expeditions of the utmost importance; because no trifling advantage
ought to incite a people overburdened with taxes, to oppress
themselves with any new expense; and it may be justly supposed, that
these troops were hired by the advice of the senate; because no
minister can be supposed so hardened in defiance of his country, in
contempt of the laws, and in disregard of the publick happiness, as to
dare to introduce foreigners into the publick service, in prosecution
of his own private schemes, or to rob the nation which he professes to
serve, that he may increase the wealth of another.

But upon consideration of this estimate, my lords, all these
expectations, however reasonable in themselves, however consistent
with the declarations of the wisest statesmen, and the practice of
former times, will be disappointed; for it will be found that the
troops, of which we are now to ratify the provisions for their
payment, are raised at an expense never known on the like occasion
before, when the nation was far more able to support it; that they
have yet been employed in no expedition, that they have neither fought
a battle, nor besieged a town, nor undertaken any design, nor hindered
any that has been formed by those against whom they are pretended to
have been raised; that they have not yet drawn a sword but at a
review, nor heard the report of fire-arms but upon a festival; that
they have not yet seen an enemy, and that they are posted where no
enemy is likely to approach them.

But this, my lords, is not the circumstance which ought, in my
opinion, most strongly to affect us; troops may be raised without
being employed, and money expended without effect; but such measures,
though they ought to be censured and rectified, may be borne without
any extraordinary degree of indignation. While our constitution
remains unviolated, temporary losses may be easily repaired, and
accidental misconduct speedily retrieved; but when the publick rights
are infringed, when the ministry assume the power of giving away the
properties of the people, it is then necessary to exert an uncommon
degree of vigour and resentment; it is as necessary to stop, the
encroachments of lawless power, as to oppose the torrent of a deluge;
which may be, perhaps, resisted at first, but from which, the country
that is once overwhelmed by it, cannot be recovered.

To raise this ardour, my lords, to excite this laudable resentment, I
believe it will be only necessary to observe, that those troops were
raised without the advice or the consent of the senate; that this new
burden has been laid upon the nation by the despotick will of the
ministers, and that the demands made for their support may be said to
be a tax laid upon the people, not by the senate, but by the court.

The motives upon which the ministry have acted on this occasion are,
so far as they can be discovered, and, indeed, there appears very
little care to conceal them, such as no subject of this crown ever
dared to proceed upon before; they are such as the act of settlement,
that act to which our sovereign owes his title to this throne, ought
for ever to have excluded from British councils.

I should proceed, my lords, to explain this new method of
impoverishing our country, and endeavour to show the principles from
which it arises, and the end which it must promote. But some sudden
indisposition obliges me to contract my plan, and conclude much sooner
than I intended, with moving, "that an humble address be presented to
his majesty, to beseech and advise his majesty, that considering the
excessive and grievous expenses, incurred by the great number of
foreign troops now in the pay of Great Britain, (expenses so increased
by the extraordinary manner, as we apprehend, of making the estimates
relating thereunto, and which do not appear to us conducive to the end
proposed,) his majesty will be graciously pleased, in compassion to
his people, loaded already with such numerous and heavy taxes, such
large and growing debts, and greater annual expenses than this nation,
at any time, ever before sustained, to exonerate his subjects of the
charge and burden of those mercenaries who were taken into our service
last year, without the advice or consent of parliament."

Lord SANDWICH spoke next in support of the motion to the following
effect:--My lords, though I heard the noble lord with so much
pleasure, that I could not but wish he had been able to deliver his
sentiments more fully upon this important affair; yet I think the
motion so reasonable and just, that though he might have set it yet
more beyond the danger of opposition, though he might have produced
many arguments in defence of it, which, perhaps, will not occur to any
other lords; yet I shall be able to justify it in such a manner, as
may secure the approbation of the unprejudiced and disinterested; and,
therefore, I rise up to second it with that confidence, which always
arises from a consciousness of honest intentions, and of an impartial
inquiry after truth.

The measures, my lords, which have given occasion to this motion, have
been for some time the subject of my reflections; I have endeavoured
to examine them in their full extent, to recollect the previous
occurrences by which the ministry might have been influenced to engage
in them, and to discover the certain and the probable consequences
which they may either immediately, or more remotely produce; I have
laboured to collect from those who are supposed to be most acquainted
with the state of Europe, and the scheme of British policy which is at
present pursued, the arguments which can be offered in favour of these
new engagements; and have compared them with the conduct of former
ages upon the like occasions; but the result of all my searches into
history, all my conversation with politicians of every party, and all
my private meditations, has been only, that I am every hour confirmed,
by some new evidence, in the opinion which I had first formed; and now
imagined myself to know what I at first believed, that we are
entangled in a labyrinth of which no end is to be seen, and in which
no certain path has yet been discovered; that we are pursuing schemes
which are in no degree necessary to the prosperity of our country, by
means which are apparently contrary to law, to policy, and to justice;
and that we are involved in a foreign quarrel only to waste that
blood, and exhaust that treasure, which might be employed in
recovering the rights of commerce, and regaining the dominion of the

To prosecute the war against Spain with that vigour which interest and
resentment might be expected to produce, to repress that insolence by
which our navigation has been confined, and to punish that rapacity by
which our merchants have been plundered, and that cruelty by which our
fellow-subjects have been enslaved, tortured, and murdered, had been
an attempt in which every honest man would readily have concurred, and
to which all those who had sense to discern their own interest, or
virtue to promote the publick happiness, would cheerfully have
contributed, however loaded with taxes, oppressed with a standing
army, and plundered by the vultures of a court: nor is the ancient
spirit of the British nation so much depressed, but that when Spain
had been subdued, when our rights had been publickly acknowledged, our
losses repaired, and our colonies secured; when our ships had again
sailed in security, and our flag awed the ocean of America, we might
then have extended our views to foreign countries, might have assumed,
once more, the guardianship of the liberties of Europe, have given law
to the powers of the continent, and superintended the happiness of
mankind. But in the present situation of our affairs, when we have
made war for years without advantage, while our most important rights
are yet subject to the chance of battle, why we should engage in the
defence of other princes more than our stipulations require, I am not
able to discover; nor can I conceive what motive can incite us, after
having suffered so much from a weak enemy to irritate a stronger.

To the measures which are now pursued, were there no other arguments
to be alleged against them, I should think it, my lords, a sufficient
objection that they are unnecessary, and that this is not a time for
political experiments, or for wanton expenses. I should think, that
the present distresses of the publick ought to restrain your lordships
from approving any steps by which our burdens may be made more heavy,
burdens under which we are already sinking, and which a peace of more
than twenty years has not contributed to lighten.

But that they are unnecessary, my lords, is the weakest allegation
that can be offered; for they are such as tend not only to obstruct
the advancement of more advantageous designs, but to bring upon us the
heaviest calamities; they will not only hinder us from increasing our
strength, but will sink us to the greatest degree of weakness; they
will not only impoverish us for the present, which may be sometimes
the effect of useful and beneficial designs, but may depress us below
a possibility of recovery, and reduce us to receive laws from some
foreign power.

This is, indeed, a dreadful prospect; but what other can arise to us
from a war with France, with the most wealthy empire of the universe,
of which we were sufficiently shown the strength in the late war, by
the resistance which all the surrounding nations found it able to make
against their united efforts, and which the debts that they then
contracted, and the towns that were then destroyed, will not easily
suffer them to forget. Of this empire, my lords, thus powerful, thus
formidable, neither the dominions are contracted, nor the trade
impaired, nor the inhabitants diminished. The French armies are no
less numerous than under their late mighty monarch, their territories
are increased by new acquisitions, their trade has long been promoted
by the destruction of ours, and their wealth has been, by consequence,
increased. They have not, my lords, like this unhappy nation, been
exhausted by temporary expedients and useless armaments; they have not
harassed their merchants to aggrandize the court, nor thrown away the
opportunities which this interval of quiet has afforded them, in the
struggles of faction; they have not been multiplying officers to
betray the people, and taxing the people to support their oppressors;
but have with equal policy, diligence, and success, recovered the
losses which they then sustained, and enabled themselves to make
another stand against a general confederacy.

Against this empire, my lords, are we now to be engaged in a war,
without trade, and without money, loaded with debts, and harassed with
exactions; for what consequences can be expected from sending our
troops into the frontier towns, but that the French will charge us
with beginning hostilities, and declare war against us, or attack us
without a declaration; and that we shall be obliged to stand alone
against the whole power of the house of Bourbon, while all our ancient
allies stand at a distance spiritless and intimidated, or, perhaps,
secretly incite our enemies against us, in hopes of sharing our
plunder, or of rising on our ruin.

I know it has been alleged, and alleged with such a degree of
confidence, as it is reasonable to hope nothing could produce but a
consciousness of truth, that the Dutch have already consented to
assist us; nor is it without regret, that I find myself obliged to
declare, that this assertion is nothing more than one of those
transient visions with which it has been for a long time the custom of
British ministers to delude the people, to pacify their clamours, and
lull them in security; one of those artifices from which nothing more
is expected, than that it shall operate upon the nation, till the
circumstances of our affairs furnish out another, which is likewise,
in a short time, to be exploded only to make way for new falsehoods in
a perpetual succession.

Such, my lords, is the art of government discovered by the wonderful
sagacity of modern statesmen; who have found out, that it is easier to
palliate than to cure; and that the people maybe quieted by political
soporificks, while diseases are preying upon them, while their
strength decays, and their vitals are consumed.

That these falsehoods prevail upon mankind, and that after the
discovery of one cheat, another equally gross is patiently borne,
cannot but raise the wonder of a man who views the world at a
distance, and who has not opportunities of inquiring into the various
motives of action or belief. Such an one would be inclined to think us
a nation of fools, that must be stilled with rattles, or amused with
baubles; and would readily conclude, that our ministers were obliged
to practise such fallacies, because they could not prevail upon us by
motives adapted to reasonable beings.

But if we reflect, my lords, upon the different principles upon which
reports like these are propagated and opposed, it will easily be
discovered that their success is not to be imputed either to superiour
art on one side, or uncommon weakness on the other. It is well known
that they are promoted by men hired for that purpose with large
salaries, or beneficial employments, and that they can be opposed only
from a desire of detecting falsehood, and advancing the publick
happiness: it is apparent that those who invent, those who circulate,
and, perhaps, part of those who counterfeit belief of them, are
incited by the prospect of private advantage, and immediate profit;
and that those who stop them in their career by contradiction and
objections, can propose no other benefit to themselves, than that
which they shall receive in common with every other member of the
community; and, therefore, whoever has sufficiently observed mankind,
to discover the reason for which self-interest has in almost all ages
prevailed over publick spirit, will be able to see why reports like
these are not always suppressed by seasonable detections.

A minister ought not to flatter himself that he has always deceived
those who appear to credit his representations; their silence is not
so often the effect of credulity, as of cowardice or indolence. Many
are overborne by the pomp of great offices, and others who distinguish
more clearly, and judge with greater freedom, are contented to enjoy
their own reflections, without reproving those whom they despair to

This report of the engagement of the Dutch in our measures, shall,
however, furnish our ministers with no opportunity of boasting their
address, nor shall it pass any longer without contradiction; for I
shall, without any scruple, affirm in the presence of this august
assembly, that the Dutch have hitherto appeared absolutely neutral;
that they have not shown any approbation of our measures, nor any
inclination to assist us in them. I know, my lords, how disagreeable
this assertion may be to those, whose interest it is that mankind
should believe them of no less importance in the eyes of foreign
powers than in their own, and should imagine that the remotest nations
of the world are influenced by their motions, and directed by their
counsels; but however they may resent this declaration, I defy them to
confute it, and now call upon them to show that the Dutch have engaged
in any measure for the support of the queen of Hungary.

The late augmentation of twenty thousand men, which may possibly be
mentioned as a proof of their intention, shows nothing but that they
pursue their own interest with their usual prudence and attention, and
with such as it is to be wished that our ministers would condescend to
learn from them; and that they are too wise to suffer the towns from
which the Austrians have, by our persuasions, withdrawn their troops
to fall into the hands of the French. They have, therefore,
substituted new garrisons, but seem to have no regard to the interest
of the queen of Hungary, nor any other view than that of providing for
their own security, waiting the event of the war, and laying hold of
any advantage that may accidentally be offered them.

It may be urged farther by those who are desirous to deceive others,
or willing to be deceived themselves, that the province of Holland has
passed a vote for assisting the queen of Hungary with twenty thousand
men; but if it be remembered, my lords, that this must be the general
act of the United States, and that every province has its own
particular views to gratify, and its own interest to reconcile with
the general good, it may be very reasonably suspected, that this
assistance is yet rather the object of hope than expectation; it may
justly be feared, that before so many various dispositions will unite,
and such different schemes will be made consistent, the house of
Austria may be extinguished, that our forces may be destroyed, and
Germany enslaved by the French. Then, my lords, what will remain, but
that we shall curse that folly that involved us in distant quarrels,
and that temerity which sent us out to oppose a power which we could
not withstand; and which incited us to waste that treasure in foreign
countries, which we may quickly want for the defence of our own?

It must be, indeed, confessed, that if an estimate is to be made of
our condition, from the conduct of our ministers, the fear of
exhausting our treasure must be merely panick, and the precepts of
frugality which other states have grown great by observing, are to be
absolutely unnecessary. It may reasonably be imagined that we have
some secret mine, or hidden repository of gold, which no degree of
extravagance can drain, and which may for ever supply the most lavish
expenses without diminution.

For upon what other supposition, my lords, can any man attempt a
defence of the contract, by which we have obtained for one campaign
the service of the troops of Hanover? What but the confidence of
funds that can never be deficient, could influence them to conclude a
stipulation, by which levy-money is to be paid for troops of which not
a single regiment was raised for our service, or on the present
occasion; which were established for the security of the electorate of
Hanover, and would have been maintained, though we had not engaged in
the affairs of the continent.

What were the reasons which induced our ministry to employ the forces
of Hanover, it is, perhaps, not necessary to inquire. The only motive
that ought to have influenced them, was the prospect of obtaining them
upon cheap terms; for, my lords, if the troops of Hanover cannot be
obtained, but at the same expense with those of Britain, I am not able
to discover why they should be preferred. I have never heard, my
lords, any uncommon instances of Hanoverian courage, that should
incline us to trust the cause of Europe rather to that nation than to
our own; and am inclined to believe, that Britain is able to produce
men equal in all military virtues to any native of that happy country;
a country which, though it was thought worthy to be secured by a
neutrality, when all the neighbouring provinces were exposed to the
ravages of war, I have never heard celebrated for any peculiar
excellencies; and of which I cannot but observe, that it was indebted
for its security rather to the precaution of its prince, than the
bravery of its inhabitants.

This demand of levy-money shocks every Briton yet more strongly, on
considering by whom it is required; required by that family whom we
have raised from a petty dominion, for which homage was paid to a
superiour power; and which was, perhaps, only suffered to retain the
appearance of a separate sovereignty, because it was not worth the
labour and expense of an invasion; because it would neither increase
riches nor titles, nor gratify either avarice or ambition; by a family
whom, from want and weakness, we have exalted to a throne, from
whence, with virtue equal to their power, they may issue their
mandates to the remotest parts of the earth, may prescribe the course
of war in distant empires, and dictate terms of peace to half the
monarchs of the globe.

I should imagine, my lords, that when a king of the house of Hanover
surveys his navies, reviews his troops, or examines his revenue,
beholds the splendour of his court, or contemplates the extent of his
dominions, he cannot but sometimes, however unwillingly, compare his
present state with that of his ancestors; and that when he gives
audience to the ambassadours of princes, who, perhaps, never heard of
Hanover, and directs the payment of sums, by the smallest of which all
his ancient inheritance would be dearly purchased; and reflects, as
surely he sometimes will, that all these honours and riches, this
reverence from foreign powers, and his domestick splendour, are the
gratuitous and voluntary gifts of the mighty people of Britain, he
should find his heart overflowing with unlimited gratitude, and should
be ready to sacrifice to the happiness of his benefactors, not only
every petty interest, or accidental inclination, but even his repose,
his safety, or his life; that he should be ready to ease them of every
burden before they complained, and to aid them with all his power
before they requested his assistance; that he should consider his
little territories as only a contemptible province to his British
empire, a kind of nursery for troops to be employed without harassing
his more valuable subjects.

It might be at least hoped, my lords, that the princes of the house of
Hanover might have the same regard to this nation as to kings from
whom they never received any benefit, and whom they ought in reality
always to have considered as enemies, yet even from such levy-money
was not always required; or if required, was not always received.

There was once a time, my lords, before any of this race wore the
crown of Britain; when the great French monarch, Lewis the fourteenth,
being under a necessity of hiring auxiliary troops, applied to the
duke of Hanover, as a prince whose necessities would naturally incline
him to set the lives of his subjects at a cheap rate. The duke,
pleased with an opportunity of trafficking with so wealthy a monarch,
readily promised a supply of troops; and demanded levy-money to be
paid him, that he might be enabled to raise them. But Hanoverian
reputation was not then raised so high, as that the French king should
trust him with his money. Lewis suspected, and made no scruple of
declaring his suspicion, that the demand of levy-money was only a
pretence to obtain a sum which would never afterwards be repaid, and
for which no troops would be obtained; and therefore, with his usual
prudence insisted, that the troops should first march, and then be
paid. Thus for some time the treaty was at a stand; but the king being
equally in want of men, as the duke of money, and perceiving, perhaps,
that it was really impracticable for so indigent a prince to raise
troops without some pecuniary assistance, offered him at length a
small sum, which was gladly accepted, though much below the original
demand. The troops were engaged in the service of France; and the duke
of Hanover thought himself happy in being able to amuse himself at his
leisure with the rattle of money.

Such, my lords, were the conditions on which the troops of Hanover
were furnished in former times; and surely what could then be produced
by the love of money, or the awe of a superiour power, might now be
expected as the effect of gratitude and kindness.

But not to dwell any longer, my lords, upon particular circumstances
of measures, of which the whole scheme is contrary to the apparent
interest of this empire, I shall not inquire farther, why auxiliaries
are employed on this occasion rather than Britons, rather than those
whose bravery is celebrated to the most distant corners of the earth;
why, if mercenaries are necessary, those of Hanover are preferred to
others: or why, if they are, indeed, preferable, they are now to be
hired at a higher rate than at any former time? It appears to me of
far more importance to undermine the foundation, than to batter the
superstructure of our present system of politicks; and of greater use
to inquire, why we have engaged in a war on the continent, than why we
carry it on with ridiculous profusion.

It appears to me, my lords, that there are many reasons which, with
the same circumstances, would have withheld any nation but this from
such a dangerous interposition. The Dutch, we see, are content to look
on without action, though they are more interested in the event, and
less embarrassed on any other side. We are already engaged in a war,
of which no man can foresee the conclusion; but which cannot be ended
unsuccessfully, without the utmost danger to our most important
interests; and which yet has hitherto produced only losses and
disgrace, has impoverished our merchants, and intimidated our
soldiers. Whether these losses are the effects of weakness or
treachery, is a question which I am not ambitious of endeavouring to
decide, and of which the decision is, indeed, by no means necessary in
the present debate; since if we are too weak to struggle with Spain,
unassisted as she is, and embarrassed with different views, I need not
say what will be our condition, when the whole house of Bourbon shall
be combined against us; when that nation which stood alone for so many
years against the united efforts of Europe, shall attack us, exhausted
with taxes, enervated with corruption, and disunited from all allies.
Whether the troops of Hanover will assist us at that time, I cannot
determine. Perhaps, in the destruction of the British dominions, it
may be thought expedient to secure a more valuable and important
country by a timely neutrality; but if we have any auxiliaries from
thence, we must then necessarily obtain them upon cheaper terms.

If our inactivity in the European seas, and our ill success in those
of America be, as it is generally suspected, the consequence of
perfidious counsels, and private machinations; if our fleets are sent
out with orders to make no attempt against our enemies, or our
admirals commanded to retreat before them; surely no higher degree of
madness can be imagined, than that of provoking new enemies before we
have experienced a change of counsels, and found reason to place in
our ministers and statesmen that confidence which war absolutely

This is the conduct, my lords, which I should think most rational,
even though we were attacked in some of our real rights, and though
the quarrel about which we were debating was our own; I should think
the nearest danger the greatest, and should advise patience under
foreign insults, till we had redressed our domestick grievances; till
we had driven treachery from the court, and corruption from the
senate. But much more proper do I think this conduct, when we are
invited only to engage in distant war, in a dispute about the dominion
of princes, in the bowels of the continent; of princes, of whom it is
not certain, that we shall receive either advantage or security from
their greatness, or that we should suffer any loss or injury by their

But, my lords, I know it will be answered, that the queen of Hungary
has a right by treaty to our assistance; and that in becoming
guarantees of the Pragmatick sanction, we engaged to support her in
the dominions of her ancestors. This, my lords, is an answer of which
I do not deny the justness, and of which I will not attempt to
invalidate the strength. I allow that such a stipulation was made, and
that treaties ought to be observed, at whatever hazard, with
unviolated faith. It has been, indeed, objected, that many nations
engaged with us in the same treaty, whom interest or cowardice have
inclined to neglect it; and that we ought not to become the standing
garrison of Europe, or to defend alone those territories, to the
preservation of which so many states are obliged to contribute equally
with ourselves. But this, my lords, appears to me an argument of which
the ill consequences can never be fully discovered; an argument which
dissolves all the obligations of contracts, destroys the foundation of
moral justice, and lays society open to all the mischiefs of perfidy,
by making the validity of oaths and contracts dependant upon chance,
and regulating the duties of one man by the conduct of another. I
pretend not, my lords, to long experience, and, therefore, in
discussing intricate questions, may be easily mistaken. But as, in my
opinion, my lords, morality is seldom difficult, but when it is
clouded with an intention to deceive others or ourselves, I shall
venture to declare with more confidence, that in proportion as one man
neglects his duty, another is more strictly obliged to practise his
own, that his example may not help forward the general corruption, and
that those who are injured by the perfidy of others, may from his
sincerity have a prospect of relief.

I believe all politicks that are not founded on morality will be found
fallacious and destructive, if not immediately, to those who practise
them; yet, consequentially, by their general tendency to disturb
society, and weaken those obligations which maintain the order of the
world. I shall, therefore, allow, that what justice requires from a
private man, becomes, in parallel circumstances, the duty of a nation;
and shall, therefore, never advise the violation of a solemn treaty.
The stipulations in which we engaged, when we became guarantees of the
Pragmatick sanction, are, doubtless, to be observed; and it is,
therefore, one of the strongest objections against the measures which
we are now pursuing, that we shall be perfidious at a greater expense
than fidelity would have required, and shall exhaust the treasure of
the nation without assisting the queen of Hungary.

To explain this assertion, my lords, it is necessary to take a view of
the constitution of the German body, which consists of a great number
of separate governments independent on each other, but subject, in
some degree, to the emperour as the general head. The subjects of each
state are governed by their prince, and owe no allegiance to any other
sovereign; but the prince performs homage to the emperour, and having
thereby acknowledged himself his feudatory, or dependant, may be
punished for rebellion against him. The title of the emperour, and
consequently his claim to this allegiance, and the right of issuing
the ban against those who shall refuse it, is confirmed by many solemn
acknowledgments of the diet, and, amongst others, by the grant of a
pecuniary aid; this the present emperour has indisputably received, an
aid having been already granted him in the diet, of a subsidy for
eighteen months; and, therefore, none of the troops of Germany can now
be employed against him, without subjecting the prince to whom they
belong to the censure of the ban, a kind of civil excommunication.

To what purpose, then, my lords, are we to hire, at a rate never paid,
or perhaps demanded before, troops which cannot serve us without
subjecting their prince to the charge of rebellion? Or how shall we
assist the queen of Hungary, by collecting forces which dare not act
against the only enemy which she has now to fear? Or in what new
difficulties shall we be engaged, should the inestimable dominions of
Hanover be subjected to the imperial interdiction.

These, my lords, are questions to which, I hope, we shall hear a more
satisfactory answer than I am able to conceive; for, indeed, I do not
see what remains, but to confess, that these troops are hired only for
a military show, to amuse this nation with a false appearance of zeal
for the preservation of Europe, and to increase the treasures of
Hanover at the expense of Britain.

These are designs, my lords, which no man will avow, and yet these are
the only designs which I can yet discover; and, therefore, I shall
oppose all the measures that tend to their execution. If the heat of
indignation, or the asperity of resentment, or the wantonness of
contempt, have betrayed me into any expressions unworthy of the
dignity of this house, I hope they will be forgiven by your lordships;
for any other degree of freedom I shall make no apology, having, as a
peer, a right to deliver my opinion, and as a Briton, to assert the
independence of my native country, when I see, or imagine myself to
see, that it is ignominiously and illegally subjected to the promotion
of the petty interest of the province of Hanover.

Lord CARTERET then rose, and made answer to the following effect:--My
lords, as I doubt not but I shall be able to justify the measures
which are now pursued, in such a manner as may entitle them to the
approbation of your lordships, I proposed to hear all the objections
that should be made, before I attempted a vindication, that the debate
might be shortened, and that the arguments on both sides might be
considered as placed in the full strength of opposition; and that it
might be discerned how objections, however specious in themselves,
would vanish before the light of reason and truth.

But the noble lord has made it necessary for me to alter my design, by
a speech which I will not applaud, because it has, in my opinion, an
ill tendency; nor censure, because it wanted neither the splendour of
eloquence, nor the arts of reasoning; and had no other defect than
that which must always be produced by a bad cause, fallacy in the
arguments, and errours in the assertions.

This speech I am obliged to answer, because his lordship has been
pleased to call out for any lord who will assert, that the Dutch have
agreed to concur with us in assisting the queen of Hungary. That all
the provinces of that republick have agreed to assist us, is indeed
not true; nor do I know, my lords, by whom or upon what authority it
was asserted; but the concurrence of the province of Holland, the most
important of all, and whose example the rest seldom delay to follow,
has been obtained, which is sufficient to encourage us to vigorous
resolutions, by which the rest may be animated to a speedy compliance.

The concurrence of this province has been already the consequence of
the measures which have been lately pursued; measures from which,
though just and successful, the ministry cannot claim much applause;
because all choice was denied, and they were obliged either to remain
passive spectators of the ruin of Europe, and, by consequence, of
Britain, or to do what they have done. And surely, my lords, that
necessity which deprives them of all claim to panegyrick, will be,
likewise, a sufficient security from censure. There is, indeed, no
reason to fear censure from judges so candid and experienced as your
lordships, to whom it may without difficulty be proved, that the
balance of Europe has already changed its position, and the house of
Bourbon is now not able to preponderate against the other powers.

By entering into an alliance with Sardinia, we have taken from the
crown of Spain all the weight of the territories of Italy, of which
the Austrian forces are now in possession, without fear or danger of
being interrupted; while the passes of the ocean are shut by the
fleets of Britain, and those of the mountains by the troops of

Those unhappy forces which were transported by the Spanish fleet, are
not only lost to their native country, but exposed without provision,
without ammunition, without retreat, and without hope: nor can any
human prospect discover how they can escape destruction, either by the
fatigue of marches, or the want of necessaries, or the superiour force
of an army well supplied and elated with success.

This, my lords, is an embarrassment from which the Spaniards would
gladly be freed at any expense, from which they would bribe us to
relieve them, by permitting the demolition of new fortresses, or
restoring the army which we lost at Carthagena.

Of this alliance the queen of Hungary already finds the advantage, as
it preserves countries in her possession, which, if once lost, it
might be impossible to recover; and sets her free from the necessity
of dividing her army for the protection of distant territories.

Thus, my lords, the Spaniards are obstructed and distrusted; of their
armies, one is condemned to waste away at the feet of impassable
mountains, only to hear of the destruction of their countrymen whom
they are endeavouring to relieve, and the establishment of peace in
these regions of which they had projected the conquest; and the other,
yet more unfortunate, has been successfully transported, only to see
that fleet which permitted their passage preclude their supplies, and
hinder their retreat.

Nor do we, my lords, after having thus efficaciously opposed one of
the princes of the house of Bourbon, fear or shun the resentment of
the other; we doubt not to show, that Britain is still able to retard
the arms of the haughty French, and to drive them back from the
invasion of other kingdoms to the defence of their own. The time is at
hand, my lords, in which it will appear, that however the power of
France has been exaggerated, with whatever servility her protection
has been courted, and with whatever meanness her insolence has been
borne, this nation has not yet lost its influence or its strength,
that it is yet able to fill the continent with armies, to afford
protection to its allies, and strike terrour into those who have
hitherto trampled under foot the faith of treaties and rights of
sovereigns, and ranged over the dominions of the neighbouring princes,
with the security of lawful possessors, and the pride of conquerors.

It has been objected by the noble lord, that this change is not to be
expected from an army composed of auxiliary troops from any of the
provinces of the German empire, because they cannot act against the
general head. I can easily, my lords, solve this difficulty, from my
long acquaintance with the constitution of the empire, which I
understood before the noble lord, who has entertained you with a
discourse upon it, was in being; but I will not engross your time, or
retard your determination by a superfluous disquisition, which may be
now safely omitted; since I am allowed by his majesty to assure your
lordships, that the Hessian and Hanoverian troops shall be employed in
assisting the queen of Hungary, and that they have already received
orders to make the preparations necessary for marching into the

After this declaration, my lords, the most formidable objection
against the present measures will, I hope, be no more heard in this
debate; for it will be by no means proper for any lord to renew it by
inquiring, whether his majesty's resolution is not a breach of the
imperial constitution, or whether it will not expose his electoral
dominions to danger. For it is not our province to judge of the laws
of other nations, to examine when they are violated, or to enforce the
observation of them; nor is it necessary, since the interests of
Britain and Hanover are irreconcilably opposite, to endeavour the
preservation of dominions which their own sovereign is inclined to

Thus, my lords, I hope it appears, that the common interest of Britain
and Europe is steadily pursued; that the Spaniards feel the effects of
a war with Britain by their distress and embarrassment; that the queen
of Hungary discovers, that the ancient allies of her family have not
deserted her; and that France, amidst her boasts and her projects,
perceives the determined opposers of her grandeur again setting her at

The duke of BEDFORD spoke to the following effect:--My lords, the
assurance which the noble lord who spoke last declares himself to have
conceived of being able to demonstrate the propriety of the present
measures, must surely arise from some intelligence which has been
hitherto suppressed, or some knowledge of future events peculiar to
himself; for I cannot discover any force in the arguments which he has
been pleased to use, that could produce in him such confidence of
success, nor any circumstances in the present appearance of Europe,
that do not seem to demand a different conduct.

The reasonableness of our measures at this time, as at all others,
must be evinced by arguments drawn from an attentive review of the
state of our own country, compared with that of the neighbouring
nations; for no man will deny, that those methods of proceeding which
are at one time useful, may at another be pernicious; and that either
a gradual rotation of power, or a casual variation of interest, may
very properly produce changes in the counsels of the most steady and
vigorous administration.

It is therefore proper, in the examination of this question, to
consider what is the state of our own nation, and what is to be hoped
or feared from the condition of those kingdoms, which are most enabled
by their situation to benefit or to hurt us: and in inquiry, my lords,
an inquiry that can give little pleasure to an honest and benevolent
mind, it immediately occurs, that we are a nation exhausted by a long
war, and impoverished by the diminution of our commerce; and the
result, therefore, of this first consideration is, that those measures
are most eligible which are most frugal; and that to waste the publick
treasure in unnecessary expenses, or to load the people with new taxes
only to display a mockery of war on the continent, or to amuse
ourselves, our allies, or our enemies, with the idle ostentation of
unnecessary numbers, is to drain from the nation the last remains of
its ancient vigour, instead of assisting its recovery from its present

But money, however valuable, however necessary, has sometimes been
imprudently and unseasonably spared; and an ill-timed parsimony has
been known to hasten calamities, by which those have been deprived of
all who would not endeavour to preserve it by the loss of part. It is
therefore to be considered, whether measures less expensive would not
have been more dangerous; and whether we have not, by hiring foreign
troops, though at a very high rate, at a rate which would have been
demanded from no other nation, purchased an exemption from distresses,
insults, and invasions.

The only nations, my lords, whom we have any reason to suspect of a
design to invade us, or that have power to put any such design in
execution, are well known to be the French and Spaniards; from these,
indeed, it may justly be expected, that they will omit no opportunity
of gratifying that hatred which difference of religion and contrariety
of interest cannot fail to continue from age to age; and therefore we
ought never to imagine ourselves safe, while it is in their power to
endanger us. But of these two nations, my lords, the one is already
disarmed by the navies of Britain, which confine her fleets to their
harbours, and, as we have been just now informed, preclude her armies
from supplies: the other is without a fleet able to transport an army,
her troops are dispersed in different countries, and her treasures
exhausted by expeditions or negotiations equally expensive.

There is, therefore, my lords, no danger of an invasion, even though
we had no forces by which it could be opposed; but much less is it to
be feared, when it is remembered, that the sea is covered with our
ships of war, and that all the coasts of Europe are awed and alarmed
by the navies of Britain.

This then, my lords, is surely the time, when we ought not to have
sacrificed any immediate and apparent interest to the fear of attempts
from Spain or France; when we might without danger have assisted our
allies with our national troops, and have spared that money which we
have so lavishly bestowed upon auxiliaries; when we might securely
have shown the powers of the continent how much the British valour is
yet to be feared, and how little our late losses or disgraces are to
be imputed to the decline of our courage or our strength.

I suppose, my lords, no man will confess, that foreign troops have
been hired as more to be trusted for their skill or bravery than our
own. To dispute the palm of courage with any nation would be a
reproach to the British name; and if our soldiers are not at least
equally disciplined with those of other countries, it must be owned,
that taxes have been long paid to little purpose, that the glitter of
reviews has been justly ridiculed as an empty show, and that we have
long been flattered by our ministers and generals with false security.

But though I am far from believing, that the army has been supported
only for the defence of our country; and though I know, that their
officers are frequently engaged in employments more important in the
opinion of their directors, than that of regulating the discipline of
their regiments, and teaching the use of arms and the science of war;
yet, as I believe the courage of Britons such as may often supply the
want of skill, I cannot but conclude, that they are at least as
formidable as the troops of other countries, especially when I
remember, that they enter the field incited and supported by the
reputation of their country.

Why then, my lords, is the nation condemned to support, at once, a
double burden; to pay at home an army which can be of no use, and to
hire auxiliaries, perhaps, equally unactive; to make war, if any war
be intended, at an unnecessary expense, and to pay, at once, a fleet
which only floats upon the ocean, an army which only awes the villages
from which it is supported, and a body of mercenaries, of which no man
can yet conjecture with what design they have been retained.

That they are intended for the support of the queen of Hungary has
been, indeed, asserted; and this contract has been produced as an
instance of the zeal of our ministers for the assertion of the
Pragmatick sanction, the preservation of the liberties of Europe, and
the suppression of the ambitious enterprises of the house of Bourbon;
but surely, my lords, had the assistance of that illustrious princess
been their sole or principal intention, had they in reality dedicated
the sum which is to be received by the troops of Hanover, to the
sacred cause of publick faith and universal liberty, they might have
found methods of promoting it much more efficaciously at no greater
expense. Had they remitted that money to the queen, she would have
been enabled to call nations to her standard, to fill the plains of
Germany with the hardy inhabitants of the mountains and the deserts,
and have deluged the empire of France with multitudes equally daring
and rapacious, who would have descended upon a fruitful country like
vultures on their prey, and have laid those provinces in ruin which
now smile at the devastation of neighbouring countries, secure in the
protection of their mighty monarch.

By this method of carrying on the war, we might have secured our ally
from danger which I cannot but think imminent and formidable, though
it seems, at present, not to be feared. By so large an addition to her
troops, she would have been enabled to frustrate those designs, which
her success may incline the king of Prussia to form against her; for
with whatever tranquillity he may now seem to look upon this general
commotion, his conduct gives us no reason to imagine, that he has
changed his maxims, that he is now forgetful or negligent of his own
interest, or that he will not snatch the first opportunity of
aggrandizing himself by new pretensions to the queen of Hungary's

At least, my lords, it may without scruple be asserted, that the hopes
which some either form or affect of engaging him in a confederacy for
the support of the Pragmatick sanction, are merely chimerical. He who
has hitherto considered no interest but his own, he who has perhaps
endangered himself by attempting to weaken the only power to which he,
as well as the other princes of the empire, can have recourse for
protection from the ambition of France, and has, therefore, broken the
rules of policy only to gratify a favourite passion, will scarcely
concur in the exaltation of that family which he has so lately
endeavoured to depress, and which he has so much exasperated against
him. If he is at length, my lords, alarmed at the ambition of the
house of Bourbon, and has learned not to facilitate those designs
which are in reality formed against himself, it cannot be doubted,
that he looks with equal fear on the house of Austria, that he knows
his safety to consist only in the weakness of both, and that in any
contest between them, the utmost that can be hoped from him is

But, my lords, he whose security depends only on a supposition that
men will not deviate from right reason or true policy, is in a state
which can afford him very little tranquillity or confidence: whatever
is necessarily to be preserved, ought to be defended, not only from
certain and constant danger, but from casual and possible injuries;
and amongst the rest, from those which may proceed from the mutability
of will, or the depravation of understanding; nor shall we
sufficiently establish the house of Austria, if we leave it liable to
be shaken whenever the king of Prussia shall feel his ambition
rekindled, or his malevolence excited; we must not leave it dependant
on the friendship or policy of the neighbouring powers, but must
enable it once more to awe the empire, and set at defiance the malice
of its enemies.

This, my lords, might have been done by a liberal subsidy, by which
armies might have been levied, garrisons established, and cities
fortified; and why any other method was pursued, what reason can be
assigned? what, but an inclination to aggrandize and enrich a
contemptible province, and to deck with the plunder of Britain the
electorate of Hanover?

It has been suspected, my lords, (nor has the suspicion been without
foundation,) that our measures have long been regulated by the
interest of his majesty's electoral territories; these have been long
considered as a gulf into which the treasures of this nation have been
thrown; and it has been observed, that the state of the country has,
since the accession of its princes to this throne, been changed
without any visible cause; affluence has begun to wanton in their
towns, and gold to glitter in their cottages, without the discovery of
mines, or the increase of their trade; and new dominions have been
purchased, of which it can scarcely be imagined, that the value was
paid out of the revenues of Hanover.

This, my lords, is unpopular, illegal, and unjust; yet this might be
borne, in consideration of great advantages, of the protection of our
trade, and the support of our honour. But there are men who dare to
whisper, and who, perhaps, if their suspicions receive new
confirmation, will publickly declare, that for the preservation of
Hanover, our commerce has been neglected, and our honour impaired;
that to secure Hanover from invasion, the house of Bourbon has been
courted, and the family of Austria embarrassed and depressed. These
men assert, without hesitation, that when we entered into a league
with France against the emperour and the Spaniards, in the reign of
the late emperour, no part of the British dominions were in danger;
and that the alarm which was raised to reconcile the nation to
measures so contrary to those which former ages had pursued, was a
fictitious detestable artifice of wicked policy, by which Britain was
engaged in the defence of dominions to which we owe no regard, as we
can receive no real advantage from them.

It were to be wished, that no late instance could be produced of
conduct regulated by the same principles; and that this shameful, this
pernicious partiality had been universally allowed to have ceased with
the late reign; but it has never yet been shown, that the late
neutrality, by which Hanover was preserved, did not restrain the arms
of Britain; nor when it has been asked, why the Spanish army was, when
within reach of the cannon of the British navy, peaceably transported
to Italy, has any other reason been assigned, than that the transports
could not be destroyed without a breach of the neutrality of Hanover?

This, my lords, is a subject on which I could have only been induced
to dwell, by my zeal for the present establishment, and my personal
affection for his majesty. It is universally allowed, that not only
the honour and prosperity, but the safety of a British monarch,
depends upon the affections of his subjects; and that neither splendid
levees, nor large revenues, nor standing armies, can secure his
happiness or his power any longer than the people are convinced of his
tenderness and regard, of his attention to their complaints, and his
zeal for their interest. If, therefore, it should ever be generally
believed, that our king considers this nation only as appendent to his
electoral dominions, that he promotes the interest of his former
subjects at the expense of those by whom he has been exalted to this
awful throne, and that our commerce, our treasures, and our lives, are
sacrificed to the safety, or to the enlargement of distant
territories, what can be expected? what but murmurs, disaffection, and
distrust, and their natural consequences, insurrection and rebellion;
rebellion, of which no man can foresee the event, and by which that
man may perhaps be placed upon the throne, whom we have so wisely
excluded and so solemnly abjured.

Of this unreasonable regard to the interest of Hanover, the contract
which we are now considering exhibits, if not a proof too apparent to
be denied, yet such an appearance as we ought for our own sakes and
that of his majesty to obviate; and therefore I think the, address
which is now proposed in the highest degree reasonable; and am
convinced, that by complying with our request, his majesty will regain
the affections of many of his subjects, whom a long train of
pernicious measures have filled with discontent; and preserve the
loyalty of many others, who, by artful representations of the motives
and consequences of this contract, may be alienated and perverted.

Lord BATHURST replied to the following purport:--My lords, as I have
no reason to doubt of the noble duke's affection to the present royal
family, I am convinced, that the ardour of his expressions is the
effect of his zeal, and that the force of his representations proceeds
only from the strength of his conviction; and, therefore, I am far
from intending to censure any accidental negligence of language, or
any seeming asperity of sentiment. I know, that the openness and
dignity of mind which has incited him to declare his opinion with so
much freedom, will induce him likewise to retract it, when he shall be
convinced, that he has been deceived by false representations, or that
he has formed his conclusions too hastily, without an attentive
examination of the question in its whole extent.

I shall, therefore, endeavour to explain the motives upon which all
these measures have been formed which we have heard so warmly
censured; and show, that they were the consequences not of haste and
negligence, but of vigilance and circumspection; that they were formed
upon a deliberate survey of the complicated interests of the European
powers, and dictated not by a partiality to Hanover, but a faithful
attention to the interest of Britain.

It has been already observed by a noble lord, that there was no choice
allowed us; that the state of Europe required that we should not sit
unactive; and that yet there was no other method of acting, by which
we could benefit our allies, or injure our enemies; and that,
therefore, though our interposition had not produced all the effects
which our zeal might incline us to wish, yet our conduct ought not to
be condemned; because, though we did not press forward through the
nearest path to the great object of our pursuit, we exerted our utmost
speed in the only way that was left open. This, my lords, is, in my
opinion, a very just apology; nor do I see, that this vindication can
be confuted or invalidated, otherwise than by showing, that some
different measures, measures equally reasonable, were equally in our

But because the plea of necessity may, perhaps, be evaded; and because
it is, at least, pleasing to discover, that what was necessary was
likewise convenient, I shall endeavour to show, that our measures have
produced already such effects as have sufficiently rewarded our
expenses; and that we may yet reasonably hope, that greater advantages
will arise from them.

There are, indeed, some whom it will not be easy to satisfy, some who
declare not against the manner in which the war is prosecuted, but
against the war itself; who think the power of France too formidable
to be opposed, and the British people too much exhausted or enervated
to hold any longer the balance of the continent.

I have, indeed, my lords, always declared myself of a different
opinion, and have frequently endeavoured to rouse others from a kind
of indolent despair and tame acquiescence in the attempts of the
French, by representations of the wealth and force, the influence and
alliances of our own nation. I have often asserted, that I did not
doubt but her conquests might be stopped by vigorous opposition, and
that the current of her power, which had by artificial machines of
policy been raised higher than its source, would subside and stagnate,
when its course was no longer assisted by cowardice, and its way
levelled by submission.

These, my lords, were my sentiments, and this was my language, at a
time when all the powers of Europe conspired to flatter the pride of
France by falling at her feet, when her nod was solicitously watched
by all the princes of the empire, when there was no safety but by her
protection, nor any enterprise but by her permission; when her wealth
influenced the councils of nations, when war was declared at her
command in the remotest corners of Europe, and every contest was
submitted to her arbitration.

Even at this time, my lords, was I sufficiently confident of the power
of my own country, to set at defiance, in my own mind, this gigantick
state. I considered all additions to its greatness rather as the
tumour of disease than the shootings of vigour, and thought that its
nerves grew weaker as its corpulence increased. Of my own nation I
saw, that neither its numbers nor its courage were diminished; I had
no reason to believe our soldiers or our sailors less brave than their
fathers; and, therefore, imagined that whenever they should be led out
against the same enemies, they would fight with the same superiority
and the same success.

But for these hopes, my lords, I was sometimes pitied by those who
thought themselves better acquainted with the state of Europe than
myself, and sometimes ridiculed by those who had been long accustomed
to depress their own country, and to represent Britain as only the
shadow of what it once was; to deride our armies and our fleets, and
describe us impoverished and corrupted, sunk into cowardice, and
delighted with slavery.

That my opinion is now likely to be justified, and that those who have
hitherto so confidently opposed me, will soon be obliged to
acknowledge their mistake, is of very small importance; nor is my
self-love so predominant as to incline me to reckon the confirmation
of my predictions, or the vindication of my sagacity among the
benefits which we are now about to receive. We are now soon to be
convinced that France is not irresistible, nor irresistible to
Britain. We are now to see the embroilers of the universe entangled in
their own schemes, and the depopulators of kingdoms destroyed in those
fields which they have so wantonly laid waste. We shall see justice
triumphant over oppression, and insolence trampled by those whom she
has despised. We shall see the powers of Europe once more equally
balanced, and the balance placed again in the hands of Britain.

If it be required upon what events these expectations are founded; and
if it be alleged, that we have no such resolutions to hope from the
measures that have been hitherto pursued; it has been affirmed by a
noble lord, that our armies in Flanders are useless, and that our
motions have given neither courage nor strength to any other powers;
that the queen of Hungary is yet equally distressed, and that the
French still pursue their schemes without any interruption from us or
our allies, I shall hope by an impartial account of the present state
of the continent to show, that his assertions are groundless, and his
opinion erroneous.

The inactivity of our army in Flanders has, indeed, furnished a
popular topick of declamation and ridicule. It is well known how
little the bulk of mankind are acquainted, either with arts of policy,
or of war; how imperfectly they must always understand the conduct of
ministers or generals, and with what partiality they always determine
in favour of their own nation. Ignorance, my lords, conjoined with
partiality, must always produce expectations which no address nor
courage can gratify; and it is scarcely, therefore, to be hoped, that
the people will be satisfied with any account of the conduct of our
generals, which does not inform them of sieges and battles, slaughter
and devastation. They expect that a British army should overrun the
continent in a summer, that towns should surrender at their summons,
and legions retire at their shout; that they should drive nations
before them, and conquer empires by marching over them.

Such, my lords, are the effects which the people of Britain expect;
and as they have hitherto been disappointed, their disappointment
inclines them to complain. They think an army useless which gains no
victories, and ask to what purpose the sword is drawn, if the blood of
their enemies is not to be shed? But these are not the sentiments of
your lordships, whose acquaintance with publick affairs informs you,
that victories are often gained where no standards are taken, nor
newspapers filled with lists of the slain; and that by drawing the
sword opportunely, the necessity of striking is often prevented. You
know, that the army which hovers over a country, and draws the forces
which defend it to one part, may destroy it without invading it, by
exposing it to the invasion of another; and that he who withholds an
army from action, is not less useful to his ally than he that defeats

This, my lords, is the present use of our troops in Flanders; the
French are kept in continual terrour, and are obliged to detach to
that frontier those troops which, had they not been thus diverted,
would have been employed in the empire; and, surely, an army is not
unactive which withholds a double number from prosecuting their

That our motions have not encouraged other powers to fulfil their
engagements, or to unite in the defence of the general liberty of
Europe, cannot truly be asserted. The Dutch apparently waken from
their slumber; whether it was real or affected, they at least discover
less fear of the French, and have already given such proofs of their
inclination to join with us, as may encourage us to expect, that they
will, in a short time, form with us another confederacy, and employ
their utmost efforts in the common cause.

What they have already offered will at least enable us to assist the
queen of Hungary with greater numbers, and her to employ her troops
where she is most pressed; for they have engaged to garrison the towns
of Flanders, which, since they cannot be evacuated, is in effect an
offer of auxiliary troops; since, if those forces had been added to
the Austrian army, an equal number of Austrians must have been
subducted to garrison the frontier.

It is, therefore, without reason, that narrow-minded censurers charge
us with becoming the slaves of the Dutch, with fighting their battles
and defending their barrier, while they pursue their commerce in
tranquillity, enjoy peace at the expense of British blood, and grow
rich by the profusion of British treasure. It appears, that they
concur in the preservation of themselves and of Europe, though with
delays and caution; since, though they do not send forces into the
field, they supply the place of those which are sent, and enable
others to destroy those whom they are not yet persuaded to attack

The constitution of that republick is, indeed, such as makes its
alliance not valuable, on sudden emergencies, in proportion to its
wealth and power. The determinations of large assemblies are always
slow; because there are many opinions to be examined, many proposals
to be balanced, and many objections to be answered. But with much more
difficulty must any important resolution be formed, where it must be
the joint act of the whole assembly, where every individual has a
negative voice, and unanimity alone can make a decision obligatory.
Wherever this is the form of government, the state lies at the mercy
of every man who has a vote in its councils; and the corruption or
folly or obstinacy of one may retard or defeat the most important
designs, lay his country open to the inroads of an enemy, dissolve the
most solemn alliances, and involve a nation in misery.

This, my lords, I need not observe to be the Dutch constitution, nor
need I tell this assembly, that we are not always to judge of the
general inclination of that people by the procedure of their deputies,
since particular men may be influenced by private views, or corrupted
by secret promises or bribes; and those designs may be retarded by
their artifices which the honest and impartial universally approve.
This is, perhaps, the true reason of the present delays which have
furnished occasion to such loud complaints, complaints of which we may
hope quickly to have an end; since it can hardly be doubted, but the
general voice of the people will there, as in other places, at last
prevail, and the prejudices or passions of private men give way to the
interest of the publick.

That the queen of Hungary is now equally distressed, and that she has
received no advantage from the assistance, which we have, at so great
an expense, appeared to give her, is, likewise, very far from being
true. Let any man compare her present condition with that in which she
was before Britain engaged in her cause, and it will easily be
perceived how much she owes to the alliance of this nation. She was
then flying before her enemies, and reduced to seek for shelter in the
remotest part of her dominions, while her capital was fortified in
expectation of a siege. Those who then were distributing her
provinces, and who almost hovered over her only remaining kingdom, are
now retiring before her troops. The army by which it was intended that
her territories in Italy should be taken from her, is now starving in
the countries which it presumed to invade; and the troops which were
sent to its assistance are languishing at the feet of mountains which
they will never pass.

These are the effects, my lords, of those measures, which, for want of
being completely understood, or attentively considered, have been so
vehemently censured. These measures, my lords, however injudicious,
however unseasonable, have embarrassed the designs of France, and
given relief to the queen of Hungary; they have animated the Dutch to
action, and kindled in all the powers of Europe, who were intimidated
by the French armies, new hopes and new resolutions; they have,
indeed, made a general change in the state of Europe, and given a new
inclination to the balance of power. Not many months have elapsed,
since every man appeared to consider the sovereign of France as the
universal monarch, whose will was not to be opposed, and whose force
was not to be resisted. We now see his menaces despised and his
propositions rejected; every one now appears to hope rather than to
fear, though lately a general panick was spread over this part of the
globe, and fear had so engrossed mankind, that scarcely any man
presumed to hope.

But it is objected, my lords, that though our measures should be
allowed not to have been wholly ineffectual, and our money appear not
to have been squandered only to pay the troops of Hanover, yet our
conduct is very far from meriting either applause or approbation;
since much greater advantages might have been purchased at much less
expense, and by methods much less invidious and dangerous.

The queen of Hungary might, in the opinion of these censurers, have
raised an hundred thousand men with the money which we must expend in
hiring only sixteen thousand, and might have destroyed those enemies
whom we have hitherto not dared to attack.

Those who make this supposition the foundation of their censures,
appear not to remember, that the queen of Hungary's dominions, like
those of other princes, may, by war, be in time exhausted; that the
loss of inhabitants is not repaired in any country but by slow
degrees; and that there is no place yet discovered where money will
procure soldiers without end, or where new harvests of men rise up
annually, ready to fight those quarrels in which their predecessors
were swept away. If the money had, instead of being employed in hiring
auxiliaries, been remitted to the queen, it is not probable that she
could, at any rate, have brought a new army together. But it is
certain, that her new troops must have been without arms and without
discipline. It might have been found, perhaps, in this general
disturbance of the world, not easy to have supplied them with weapons;
and it is well known how long time is required to teach raw forces the
art of war, and enable them to stand before a veteran enemy.

It was, therefore, necessary to assist her rather with troops than
money; and since troops were necessarily to be hired, why should we
employ the forces of Hanover less willingly than those of any other
nation? To assert that they have more or less courage than others is
chimerical, nor can any man suppose them either more brave or timorous
than those of the neighbouring countries, without discovering the
meanest prejudices, and the narrowest conceptions; without showing
that he is wholly unacquainted with human nature, and that he is
influenced by the tales of nurses, and the boasts of children.

There was, therefore, no objection against the troops of Hanover, that
was not of equal strength against all foreign troops; and there was at
least one argument in their favour, that they were subjects of the
same prince; and that, therefore, we could have no reason to fear
their defection, or to suspect their fidelity.

The electorate of Hanover, with whatever contempt or indignation some
persons may affect to mention it, is to be considered, at least, as a
state in alliance with Britain, and to receive from us that support
which the terms of that alliance may demand.

Any other regard, my lords, indeed, it is not necessary to contend
for; since it cannot be proved, that in this transaction we have acted
otherwise than as with allies, or hired the troops on conditions which
those of any other nation would not have obtained, or on any which
they will not deserve; since your lordships have received assurances,
that they are ready to enter the field, and to march into Germany
against the common enemy. That we might have raised new troops in our
own nation, and have augmented our army with an equal number of men,
cannot be denied; nor do I doubt, my lords, but our countrymen would
be equally formidable with any other forces; but it must be
remembered, that an army is not to be levied in an instant, and that
our natives, however warlike, are not born with the knowledge of the
use of arms; and who knows, whether Europe might not have been
enslaved before a British army could have been raised and disciplined
for its deliverance?

Whether this account of our measures will satisfy those who have
hitherto condemned them, I am not able to foretel. There are, indeed,
some reasons for suspecting, that they blame not, because they
disapprove, but because they think it necessary either to the
character of discernment, or of probity, to censure the ministry,
whatever maxims are pursued. Of this disposition it is no slight
proof, that contrary measures have been sometimes condemned by the
same men with the same vehemence; and that even compliance with their
demands has not stilled their outcries. When the ministry appeared
unwilling to engage in the war of Germany, without the concurrence of
the other powers who had engaged to support the Pragmatick sanction,
they were hourly reproached with being the slaves of France, with
betraying the general cause of Europe, and with repressing that
generous ardour, by which our ancestors have been incited to stand
forth as the asserters of universal liberty, and to fight the quarrel
of mankind. They were marked out as either cowards or traitors, and
doomed to infamy as the accomplices of tyranny, engaged in a
conspiracy against their allies, their country, and their posterity.

At length the Britons have roused again, and again declared themselves
the supporters of right, whenever injured; they have again raised
their standards in the continent, and prepared to march again through
those regions where their victories are yet celebrated, and their
bravery yet reverenced. The hills of Germany will again sound with the
shouts of that people who once marched to her deliverance through all
the obstructions that art or power could form against them, and which
broke through the pass of Schellembourg, to rout the armies that were
ranged behind it.

Now it might be expected, my lords, that, at least, those who were
before dissatisfied, should declare their approbation; for surely
where peace or neutrality is improper, there is nothing left but war.
Yet experience shows us, that men resolved to blame will never want
pretences for venting their malignity; and where nothing but malignity
is the consequence of opposite measures, we must necessarily conclude,
that there is a fixed resolution to blame, and that all vindications
will be ineffectual.

Some have, indeed, found out a middle course between censure and
approbation, and declare, that they think these measures now
justifiable, because we have proceeded too far to retreat with honour;
and that though at first a better scheme might have been formed, yet
this, which has hitherto been pursued, ought not now to be changed.

I, my lords, though it is not of very great importance to confute an
opinion by which the measures of the government will not be
obstructed, cannot forbear to declare myself of different sentiments,
and to assert, in opposition to artful calumnies and violent
invectives, that the present measures were originally right, that they
were such as prudence would dictate, and experience approve, and such
as we ought again to take, if we have again the power of choice.

I am, indeed, far from doubting, but these measures will, in a short
time, be justified by success; a criterion by which, however unjustly,
the greatest part of mankind will always judge of the conduct of their
governours; for it is apparent, my lords, that howsoever the French
power, commerce, and wealth, have been exaggerated by those that
either love or fear them, they will not long be able to stand against
us; their funds will in a short time fail them, and their armies must
be disbanded, when they can no longer be paid, lest, instead of
protecting their country, they should be inclined to plunder it.

The abundance of our wealth, my lords, and the profit of our commerce,
are sufficiently apparent from the price of our stocks, which were
never before supported at the same height for so long a time; and of
the fall of which neither an actual war with Spain, nor the danger
which has been suggested of another with France, with France in the
full possession of all its boasted advantages, has yet been able to
produce any token. Another proof of the exuberance of our riches, and
the prosperity of our commerce, by which they are acquired, is the
facility with which the government can raise in an instant the
greatest sums, and the low interest at which they are obtained. If we
compare our state in this respect with that of France, the insuperable
difficulties under which they must contend with us, will sufficiently
discover themselves. It is well known, my lords, that we have lately
raised the money which the service of each year required, at the
interest of three for a hundred; nor is it likely that there will be
any necessity of larger interest, though our annual demands were to be
equal to those of the last war. But the French are well known to raise
the sums which their exigencies require on very different terms, and
to have paid ten for a hundred for all the money which their late
projects have required; projects which they cannot pursue long at such
enormous expense, and by which their country must in a short time be
ruined, even without opposition.

While we can, therefore, raise three millions for less than the French
can obtain one, and, by consequence, support three regiments at the
same expense as one is supported in their service, we have surely no
reason to dread the superiority of their numbers, or to fear that they
will conquer by exhausting us.

Thus, my lords, I have delivered my opinion with freedom and
impartiality; and shall patiently hearken to any objections that shall
arise against it, supported by the consciousness, that a confutation
will only show me that I have been mistaken; but will not deprive me
of the satisfaction of reflecting, that I have not been wanting to my
country; and that if I have approved or defended improper measures, I
at least consulted no other interest than that of Britain.

Lord HERVEY spoke next, to the following effect:--My lords, it is not
without that concern which every man ought to feel at the apparent
approach of publick calamities, that I have heard the measures which
are now the subject of our inquiry so weakly defended, when their
vindication is endeavoured with so much ardour, and laboured with so
much address.

The objections which press upon the mind, at the first and slightest
view of our proceedings, are such as require the closest attention,
such as cannot but alarm every man who has studied the interest of his
country, and who sincerely endeavours to promote it; and therefore it
might be hoped, that those who appear to have thought them
insufficient, are able to produce, in opposition to them, the
strongest arguments, and the clearest deductions.

When we attempt the consideration of our present condition, and
inquire by what means our prosperity may be secured, the first
reflection that occurs, is, that we are traders, that all our power is
the consequence of our wealth, and our wealth the product of our
trade. It is well known, that trade can only be pursued under the
security of peace; that a nation which has a larger commerce, must
make war on disadvantageous terms against one that has less; as of two
contiguous countries, the more fruitful has most to fear from an
invasion by its neighbour.

It is visible, likewise, to any man who considers the situation of
Britain, that there is no nation by which our trade can in time of war
be so much obstructed as by France, of which the coasts are opposite
to ours, and which can send out small vessels, and seize our merchants
in the mouths of our harbours, or in the Channel of which we boast the
sovereignty: and all those who have heard or read of the last war, in
which we gained so much honour, and so little advantage, know that the
privateers of France injured us more than its navies or its armies;
and that a thousand victories on the continent, where we were only
contending for the rights of others, were a very small recompense for
the obstruction of our commerce; nor can he feel much tenderness for
mankind, who would purchase by the ruin and distress of a thousand
families, industrious and innocent, the momentary festivity of a
triumph, or the idle glare of an illumination.

Yet, my lords, this nation, however zealous for its commerce, is about
to engage in a war, in a war with the only state by which our commerce
can be impaired; it is about to support new armies on the continent
without allies, and without treasure.

That we are without treasure, and that our trade, by which only our
funds can be supplied, has lately been very much diminished, is too
easy to prove in opposition to the specious display which the noble
lord, who spoke last, has been pleased to make of the exuberance of
our wealth.

If the abundance of our riches be such as it has been represented, why
are no measures formed for the payment of the publick debts? of which
no man will say, that they are not in themselves a calamity, and the
source of many calamities yet greater; of which it cannot be denied,
that they multiply dependence by which our constitution may sometimes
be endangered. Why are those debts not only unpaid, but increased by
annual additions to such a height, that the payment of them must soon
become desperate, and the publick sink under the burden?

That our trade, my lords, and by consequence our wealth, is of late
diminished, may be proved beyond controversy, even to those whose
interest it is not to believe it, and upon whom, therefore, it cannot
be expected, that arguments will have a great effect. The produce of
the customs was the last year less by half a million than the mean
revenue; and as our customs must always bear a certain proportion to
trade, we may form an indisputable estimate from them of its increase
or its decline.

The rise of our stocks, my lords, is such a proof of riches, as
dropsical tumours are of health; it shows not the circulation, but the
stagnation of our money; and though it may flatter us with a false
appearance of plenty for a time, will soon prove, that it is both the
effect and cause of poverty, and will end in weakness and destruction.

When commerce flourishes, when its profit is certain and secure, men
will employ their money in the exchange of commodities, by which
greater advantage may be gained, than by putting it into the hands of
brokers; but when every ship is in danger of being intercepted by
privateers, and the insurer divides the profit of every voyage with
the merchant, it is natural to choose a safer, though a less
profitable traffick; and rather to treasure money in the funds, than
expose it on the ocean.

But, my lords, the ministers themselves have sufficiently declared
their opinion of the state of the national wealth, by the method which
they have taken to raise those supplies of which they boast with how
great facility they are raised.

When they found that new expenses required new taxes, it was necessary
to examine what could be taxed, or upon which part of the nation any
other burdens could be laid without immediate ruin. They turned over
the catalogue of all our manufactures, and found, that scarcely any of
the conveniencies, or even the necessaries of life, were without an
impost. They examined all the classes of our traders, and readily
discovered, that the greatest number of those who endeavoured to
support themselves by honest industry, were struggling with poverty,
and scarcely able to provide to-day what would be necessary to-morrow.
They saw our prisons crowded with debtors, and our papers filled with
the names of bankrupts, of whom many may be supposed to have
miscarried without idleness, extravagance, or folly.

They saw, therefore, my lords, that industry must sink under any
addition to its load, a consideration which could afford no proof of
the abundance of our wealth. They saw that our commodities would be no
longer manufactured, if their taxes were increased; and, therefore, it
was necessary to raise money by some other method, since all those
which have been hitherto practised were precluded.

This, my lords, was no easy task; but however difficult, it has been
accomplished; and to those great politicians must posterity be
indebted for a new scheme of supplying the expenses of a war.

In the time of the late ministry it had been observed, that
drunkenness was become a vice almost universal among the common
people; and that as the liquor which they generally drank was such
that they could destroy their reason by a small quantity, and at a
small expense, the consequence of general drunkenness was general
idleness; since no man would work any longer than was necessary to lay
him asleep for the remaining part of the day. They remarked, likewise,
that the liquor which they generally drank was to the last degree
pernicious to health, and destructive of that corporeal vigour by
which the business of life is to be carried on; and a law was
therefore made, by which it was intended that this species of
debauchery, so peculiarly fatal, should be prevented.

Against the end of this law no man has hitherto made the least
objection; no one has dared to signalize himself as an open advocate
for vice, or attempted to prove that drunkenness was not injurious to
society, and contrary to the true ends of human being. The
encouragement of wickedness of this shameful kind, wickedness equally
contemptible and hateful, was reserved for the present ministry, who
are now about to supply those funds which they have exhausted by idle
projects and romantick expeditions, at the expense of health and
virtue; who have discovered a method of recruiting armies by the
destruction of their fellow-subjects; and while they boast themselves
the assertors of liberty, are endeavouring to enslave us by the
introduction of those vices, which in all countries, and in every age,
have made way for despotick power.

Even this expedient, my lords, must in a short time fail them; the
products of vice as well as of commerce must in time be exhausted; and
what will then remain? The honest and industrious must feel the weight
of some new imposition, which the sagacity of experienced oppression
may find means to lay upon them; they will then first find the benefit
of this new law, since they may, by the use of those liquors which are
indulged them, put a speedy end to that life which they made unable to

The means by which the expenses of our present designs are to be
supported, such means, my lords, as were never yet practised by any
state, however exhausted, or however endangered, means which a wise
nation would scarcely use to repel an invader from the capital, or to
raise works to keep off a general inundation, raise yet stronger
motions of indignation, when it is considered for what designs these
expenses are required.

We are now, my lords, raising armies, and hiring auxiliaries, for an
expedition of which no necessity can be discovered, and from which
neither honour nor advantage can be expected; we are about to force
from the people the last remains of their property, and to harass with
exactions those who are already languishing with poverty; not for the
preservation of our liberty, or the defence of our country, but for
the support of the Pragmatick sanction, for the execution of a very
unjust scheme formed by the late king, to which he purchased at
different times, on different emergencies, the concurrence of other
powers; but to which he failed to put the last seal of confirmation,
perhaps in hopes of a male heir, and left the design, which he had so
long and so industriously laboured, to be at last completed by the
kindness of his allies; having, by an unsuccessful war against the
Turks, exhausted his treasure, and weakened his troops.

Whether we shall now engage in this design; whether we shall, for the
defence of the Pragmatick sanction, begin another war on the
continent, of which the duration cannot be determined, the expense
estimated, or the event foreseen; whether we shall contend at once
with all the princes of the house of Bourbon, and entangle ourselves
in a labyrinth of different schemes; whether we shall provoke France
to interrupt our commerce, and invade our colonies, and stand without
the assistance of a single ally, against those powers that lately set
almost all Europe at defiance, is now to be determined by your

It can scarcely be expected, that the French will treat us only as
auxiliaries, and satisfy themselves with attacking us only where they
find themselves opposed by us: they will undoubtedly, my lords,
consider us as principals, since they can suffer little more by
declaring war against us.

These, my lords, are the dangers to be feared from the measures which
we are now persuaded to pursue; but persuaded by arguments which, in
my opinion, ought to have very little influence upon us, and which
have not yet been able, however artfully or zealously enforced, to
prevail upon the Dutch to unite with us.

It has, indeed, been asserted, that the Dutch appear inclined to
assist us: but of that inclination stronger proofs ought surely to be
produced, before we take auxiliaries into pay, and transport troops
into another country, which has been so often represented to have been
raised for the defence of their own, or collect money from the publick
by the propagation of wickedness.

Of this favourable inclination in the Dutch I am the more doubtful,
because it is contrary to the expectations of all mankind, and to the
maxims by which they have generally regulated their conduct. There
have been many late instances of their patient submission to the
invasion of privileges to which they have thought themselves entitled,
and of their preference of peace, though sometimes purchased with the
loss of honour; or, what may be supposed to touch a Dutchman much more
nearly, of profit, to the devastation and expense and hazards of war;
and it can hardly be supposed by any who know their character, that
they will be more zealous for the rights of others than for their own;
or that they will, for the support of the queen of Hungary, sacrifice
that security and tranquillity which they have preferred at the
expense of their commerce at one time, and by passive submission to
insults at another.

That a nation like this, my lords, will in the quarrel of another
engage in any but moderate measures, is not to be expected: it is not
improbable, that they may endeavour by embassies and negotiations to
adjust the present disputes, or offer their mediation to the
contending powers; but I am very far from imagining, that they will
find in themselves any disposition to raise armies, or equip fleets,
that they will endanger the barrier which has been so dearly
purchased, or expose themselves to the hazards and terrours of a
French war; and am, therefore, inclined to believe, that if any
tendency towards such measures now appears, it is only the effect of
the present heat of some vehement declaimers, or the secret
machination of some artful projectors among them, who have formed
chimerical plans of a new system of Europe, and have, in their
imaginations, regulated the distribution of dominion and power, or
who, perhaps, have diminished their patrimonies by negligence and
extravagance, and hope to repair them in times of confusion, and to
glean part of that harvest of treasure which the publick must be
obliged to yield in time of war. I am still inclined to believe, that
the true interest of the republick will be consulted, that policy will
prevail over intrigue, and that only moderate measures will be pursued
by the general council of the states.

Moderate measures, my lords, if not always the most honourable in the
opinion of minds vitiated by false notions of grandeur, are, at least,
always the most safe; and are, therefore, eligible at least, till the
scene of affairs begins to open, and the success of a more vigorous
conduct may with some degree of certainty be foreknown; and it must at
least be thought imprudent for those to hazard much who can gain
nothing, and therefore it will not be easy to assign any reason that
may justify our conduct on the present occasion.

It is not improbable, my lords, that those who have now obtained the
direction of our affairs, may be influenced by the general
disapprobation which the British people showed of the pacifick conduct
of the late ministry, and may have resolved to endeavour after
applause, by showing more spirit and activity. But, my lords, of two
opposite schemes it is not impossible that both may be wrong, and that
the middle way only may be safe; nor is it uncommon for those who are
precipitately flying from one extreme, to rush blindly upon another.

But our ministry, my lords, have found out a method of complicating
errours which none of their predecessors, however stigmatized for
ignorance and absurdity, have hitherto been able to attain; they have
been able to reconcile the extremes of folly, and to endanger the
publick interest at the same time, by inactivity and romantick

No accusation against the late ministry was more general, more
atrocious, or more adapted to incense the people, than that of
neglecting the war against Spain: this was the subject of all the
invectives which were vented against them in the senate, or dispersed
among the people; for this they were charged with a secret confederacy
against their country, with disregard of its commerce and its arms,
and with a design to ruin the nation for no other end than to punish
the merchants.

To this accusation, my lords, diligently propagated, willingly
received, and, to confess the truth, confirmed by some appearances, do
those owe their power, who now preside over the affairs of the nation;
and it might, therefore, have been hoped, that by their promotion, one
of our grievances would have been taken away, and that at least the
war against Spain would have been vigorously prosecuted.

But this ministry, my lords, have only furnished a new instance of the
credulity of mankind, of the delusion of outward appearances, and of
the folly of hoping with too great ardour for any event, and of
trusting any man with too great confidence. No sooner were they
possessed of the power to which their ambition had so long aspired,
and of the salaries which had with so much eagerness been coveted by
their avarice, than they forgot the complaints of the merchants, the
value of commerce, the honour of the British flag, the danger of our
American territories, and the great importance of the war with Spain,
and contented themselves with ordering convoys for our merchants,
instead of destroying the enemy by whom they are molested.

The fleets which are floating from one coast to another in the
Mediterranean, and which sometimes strike terrour into the harmless
inhabitants of an open coast, or threaten, but only threaten,
destruction to an unfortified town, I am very far from considering as
armaments fitted out against the Spaniards, who neither feel nor fear
any great injury from them: their trade may be, indeed, somewhat
impeded; but that inconvenience is amply compensated by their
depredations upon our merchants: their navies may be confined to their
own ports, or to those of France; but these navies are not very
necessary to them, since they are not sufficiently powerful to oppose
us on the ocean; and therefore they who are thus confined, suffer less
than those who confine them. We have, indeed, the empty pleasure of
seeing ourselves lords of the sea, and of shaking the coasts with
volleys of our cannon; but we purchase the triumph at a very high
price, and shall find ourselves in time weakened by a useless
ostentation of superiority.

The only parts of the Spanish dominions in which they can receive any
hurt from our forces, are those countries which they possess in
America, and from which they receive the gold and silver which inflame
their pride, and incite them to insult nations more powerful than
themselves. By seizing any part of those wealthy regions, we shall
stop the fountain of their treasure, reduce them to immediate penury,
and compel them to solicit peace upon any conditions that we shall
condescend to offer them.

The necessity of invading these countries, my lords, was perfectly
understood, and very distinctly explained, when the forces destined
for that expedition were delayed, and when the attempt at Carthagena
miscarried; nothing was more pathetical than the complaints of the
patriots, who spared no labour to inform either the senate or the
nation of the advantages which success would have procured. But what
measures have been taken to repair our losses, or to regain our
honour; or what new schemes have been formed for making an attack more
forcible upon some weaker part?

Every one can remember, that the miscarriage of that enterprise was
imputed, not to its difficulty, nor to the courage of the Spaniards,
nor to the strength of their works, but to the unskilfulness of our
officers, and the impropriety of the season; and it was, therefore,
without doubt thought not impossible to attack the Spanish colonies
with success; but why then, my lords, have they hitherto suffered the
Spaniards to discipline their troops, and strengthen their works at.
leisure, that at length they may securely set us at defiance, and
plunder our merchants without fear of vengeance?

Thus, my lords, has our real interest been neglected in pursuit not of
any other scheme of equal advantage, but of the empty title of the
arbiters of Europe; we have suffered our trade to be destroyed, and
our country impoverished for the sake of holding the _balance of
power_; that variable balance, in which folly and ambition are
perpetually changing the weights, and which neither policy nor
strength could yet preserve steady for a single year.

In the prosecution of this idle scheme, we are about to violate all
the maxims of wisdom, and perhaps of justice; we are about to destroy
the end by the means which we make use of to promote it, to endanger
our country more by attempting to hinder the changes which are
projected in Europe, than their accomplishment will endanger it, and
to deliver up ourselves to France before she makes any demand of
submission from us.

If any excuse could be made for expeditions so likely to end in ruin,
it must be that justice required them; and that if we suffer, we at
least suffer in support of right, and in an honest endeavour to
promote the execution of the great laws of moral equity; that if we
fail of success, we shall always have the consolation of having meant
well, and of having deserved those victories which we could not gain.

But, upon an impartial survey of the cause in which we are going to
engage, and on which we are about to hazard our own happiness, and
that of our posterity, I can discover no such apparent justice on the
side of the queen of Hungary, as ought to incite distant nations to
espouse her quarrel, to raise armies in her favour, to consider her
cause as that of human nature, and to prosecute those that invade her
territories, as the enemies of general society.

The Pragmatick sanction, my lords, by which she claims all the
hereditary dominions of her family, cannot change the nature of right
and wrong, nor invalidate any claim before subsisting, unless by the
consent of the prince by whom it was made. The elector of Bavaria may,
therefore, urge in his own defence, that by the elder sister he has a
clear and indisputable right, a right from which he never receded, as
he never concurred in the Pragmatiok sanction; he may, therefore,
charge this illustrious princess, for whom so many troops are raised,
and for whom so much blood is about to be shed, with usurpation, with
detention of the dominions of other potentates, and with an obstinate
assertion of a false title.

That the Pragmatick sanction is generally understood to be unjust,
appears sufficiently from the conduct of those powers who, though
engaged by solemn stipulations to support it, yet look unconcerned on
the violation of it, and appear convinced, that the princes who are
now dividing among themselves the Austrian dominions, produce claims
which cannot be opposed without a manifest disregard of justice.

The pretensions of these princes ought, indeed, to have been more
attentively considered, when this guaranty was first demanded; for it
is evident, that either no such compact ought to have been made, or
that it ought now to be observed; and that those who now justify the
neglect of it, by urging its injustice, ought to have refused
accession to it for the same reason. But it is probable, that they
will urge in their defence, what cannot easily be confuted, that their
consent was obtained by misrepresentations; and that he who has
promised to do any thing on the supposition that it is right, is not
bound by that promise, when he has discovered it to be wrong.

But though justice may, my lords, be pretended, I am far from doubting
that policy has, in reality, supplied the motives upon which these
powers proceed. Since the world is evidently governed more by interest
than virtue, I think it not unreasonable to imagine, that they form
their measures according to their own expectations of advantage; and
as I do not believe our countrymen distinguished from the rest of
mankind by any peculiar disregard of themselves, it may not be
improper to examine, even in this place, whether by restoring the
house of Austria to its ancient greatness, we shall promote our own
happiness, or that of the empire, or of the rest of Europe.

To ourselves, my lords, I do not see what assistance can be given in
time of danger by this house, however powerful, or however friendly;
for, I suppose, we shall never suffer it to grow powerful by sea as
well as by land, and by sea only can we receive benefits or injuries.
What advantages the rest of Europe may promise themselves from the
restoration of the Austrian power, may be learned, my lords, from the
history of the great emperour, Charles the fifth, who for many years
kept the world in continual alarms, ranged from nation to nation with
incessant and insatiable ambition, made war only for the extinction of
the protestant religion, and employed his power and his abilities in
harassing the neighbouring princes, and disturbing the tranquillity of

Nor did his successours, my lords, though weakened by the division of
his dominions, enjoy their power with greater moderation, or exert it
to better purposes. It is well known, that they endeavoured the
subversion of both the liberties and religion of the subordinate
states of the empire, and that the great king of Sweden was called
into Germany, as well for the preservation of the protestant religion,
as of the rights of the electors.

This, my lords, is so generally known and confessed, that Puffendorf,
the best writer on the German constitution, has declared it
disadvantageous to the empire to place at its head a prince too
powerful by his hereditary dominions, since they will always furnish
him with force to oppress the weaker princes; and it is not often
found, that he who has the power to oppress, is restrained by
principles of justice.

It appears, therefore, to me, my lords, that the late election of an
emperour was made with sufficient regard to the general good; and
that, therefore, neither policy nor equity oblige us to act in a
manner different from the other powers who are joined in the same
engagements, of whom I do not learn, by any of the common channels of
intelligence, that any of them intend the support of the Pragmatick
sanction; for no newspaper or pamphlet has yet informed us, that any
of the other powers are hiring auxiliaries, or regulating the march of
their troops, or making any uncommon preparations, which may foretoken
an expedition against the emperour or his allies.

Yet, my lords, they are not restrained from attacking the emperour, by
so strong objections as may be made to the present design; for they
owe him no obedience as their sovereign, nor have contributed to the
acquisition of his honours; they have not, like his majesty, given
their votes for his exaltation to the imperial seat, nor have
acknowledged his right by granting him an aid. They might, therefore,
without charge of disloyalty or inconsistency, endeavour to dethrone
him; but how his majesty can engage in any such design, after having
zealously promoted his advancement, and confirmed his election by the
usual acknowledgment, I am not able to understand. It is evident, that
the king of Prussia believes himself restrained by his own acts, and
thinks it absurd to fight against an emperour, who obtained the throne
by his choice; he, therefore, has, with his usual wisdom, refused to
engage in the confederacy, nor have either promises or concessions
been able to obtain more from him than a bare neutrality.

Whether, indeed, any more than a neutrality be intended, even by this
pompous armament, for which we are now required to provide, I maybe
allowed to doubt; since the troops that are hired at so high a rate,
are such as cannot act against the enemies of the queen of Hungary,
without breach of the imperial constitutions.

It has been already justly observed in this debate, that when the
emperour has obtained from the diet an aid of fifty months, that act
is considered as an authentick recognition of his title; nor can any
of the German princes afterwards make war against him, without
subjecting his dominions to the imperial interdict, and losing the
privileges of his sovereignty.

That the present emperour has already received this acknowledgment,
and been confessed by his majesty, as elector of Hanover, to be
legally invested with the imperial dignity, is well known; and,
therefore, I cannot by any method of reasoning discover, nor have yet
found any man able to inform me, why the troops of Hanover are chosen
before those of any other nation, for a design which they cannot
execute, without ruining their sovereign if they fail; and infringing
the constitution of the empire, if they should happen to succeed?

I should, therefore, have imagined, that the assistance of the queen
of Hungary was only pretended, and that the forces were only designed
to breathe the air of the continent, and to display their scarlet at
the expense of Britain, had not the noble lord who spoke third in this
debate informed us, that they will in reality march into Germany; a
design, my lords, so romantick, unseasonable, and dangerous, that
though I cannot doubt it after such assurances, I should not have
believed it on any other; a design which I hope every man, who regards
the welfare of this kingdom, will indefatigably oppose, and which
every Briton must wish that some lucky accident may frustrate.

To send an army into Germany, my lords, is to hazard our native
country without necessity, without temptation, without prospect or
possibility of advantage; it is to engage in a quarrel which has no
relation to our dominions, or rights, or commerce; a quarrel from
which, however it be decided, we can neither hope for any increase of
our wealth, our force, or our influence; but which may involve us in a
war without end, in which it will be difficult to obtain the victory,
and in which we must yet either conquer or be undone.

Surely, my lords, an expedition like this was never undertaken before,
without consulting the senate, and declaring the motives on which it
was designed; surely never was any supply of this nature demanded,
without some previous discoveries to this house of the importance of
the service for which they were required to provide. On this occasion,
my lords, all the councils of the government are covered by a cloud of
affected secrecy, nor is any knowledge of our affairs to be gained,
but from papers which are not to be regarded here, the printed votes
of the other house.

I am always, my lords, inclined to suspect unusual secrecy, and to
imagine, that men either conceal their measures, because they cannot
defend them, or affect an appearance of concealing them, when in
reality they have yet projected nothing, and draw the veil with
uncommon care, only lest it should be discovered that there is nothing
behind it; as when palaces are shown, those apartments which are
empty, are carefully locked up.

To confess my opinion without reserve, I am not so much inclined to
believe, that our ministers' designs are bad, as that they design
nothing; and suspect that this mighty army, so lavishly paid, and
collected from such distant parts, is to regulate its motions by
accident, and to wait without action, till some change in the state of
Europe shall make it more easy for our ministers to form their scheme.

I hope, my lords, that by some accident more favourable than we have
at present reason to expect, our German expedition will be retarded,
till our ministers shall awaken from their present dream of delivering
Europe from the French ambition, and of restoring the ancient
greatness of the house of Austria. I hope every day, as it adds to
their experience, will diminish that ardour which is generally the
effect of imperfect views, which is commonly raised by partial
considerations, and ends in inconsiderate undertakings. I hope they
will in time think it no advantage to their fellow-subjects to be
doomed to fight the battles of other nations, and to be called out
into every field, where they shall happen to hear that blood is to be
shed. I hope they will be taught, that the only business of Britain is
commerce; and that while our ships pass unmolested, we may sit at
ease, whatever be the designs or actions of the potentates on the
continent; that none but naval power can endanger our safety, and that
it is not necessary for us to inquire, how foreign territories are
distributed, what family approaches to its extinction, or where a
successour will be found to any other crown than that of Britain.

If these maxims were once generally understood, from how much
perplexity would our councils be set free? how many thousands of our
fellow-subjects would be preserved from slaughter? and how much would
our wealth be increased, by saving those sums which are yearly
squandered in idle expeditions, or in negotiations equally useless,
and, perhaps, equally expensive? Had these principles been received by
our forefathers, we might now have given laws to the world, and,
perhaps, our posterity will, with equal reason, say, How happy, how
great and formidable they should have been, had not we attempted to
fix and to hold the balance of power, and neglected the interest of
our country for the preservation of the house of Austria!

Thus, my lords, I have endeavoured to explain and enforce my opinion
of the measures in which our ministers have engaged the nation; and
hope that I shall not be accused of being influenced in my
determinations by personal prejudices, nor of having changed my
opinions with regard to publick affairs, in consequence of any change
of the persons by whom they are conducted. For if my sentiments have
ever been thought important enough to be retained in memory, I can,
with the utmost confidence, appeal to all those who can recollect what
I have formerly said, when the reestablishment of the house of Austria
was the subject of our consultations; and defy the most rigorous and
attentive examiner of my conduct, to prove, that there ever was a time
in which I thought it necessary or expedient for the British nation to
be entangled in disputes on the continent, or to employ her arms in
regulating the pretensions of contending powers.

I was always of opinion, my lords, that peace is the most eligible
state, and that the ease of security is to be preferred to the honour
of victory. I always thought peace particularly necessary to a trading
people; and as I have yet found no reason to alter my sentiments, and
as auxiliaries cannot be of any use but in time of war, I shall
endeavour to promote peace by joining in the motion.

Lord CHOLMONDELEY spoke to this effect:--My lords, notwithstanding the
atrocious charges which have been urged with so much vehemence against
the ministry; notwithstanding the folly and absurdity which some lords
have imagined themselves to have discovered in the present measures, I
cannot yet prevail upon myself, whatever may be my veneration for
their integrity, or my confidence in their abilities, to approve the
motion for which they so earnestly contend.

To comply with this motion, my lords, would be, in my opinion, to
betray the general cause of mankind, to interrupt the success of the
assertors of liberty, to give up all the continent, at once, to the
house of Bourbon, to defeat all the measures of our ancestors and
ourselves, and to invite the oppressors of mankind to extend their
claims of universal dominion to the island of Britain.

Of the measures which we are now to consider, I think the defence at
once obvious and unanswerable; and should advise, that instead of
exerting an useless sagacity in uncertain conjectures on future
events, or displaying unseasonable knowledge by the citation of
authorities, or the recollection of ancient facts, every lord should
attentively compare the state into which Europe was reduced soon after
the death of the late emperour, with that in which it now appears; and
inquire to what causes such sudden and important changes are to be
ascribed. He will then easily discover the efficacy of the British
measures; and be convinced, that nothing has been omitted which the
interest of this nation required.

When I hear it asked by the noble lords, what effects have been
produced by our armaments and expenses? For what end auxiliaries are
hired, and why our armies are transported into Flanders? I cannot but
suspect, my lords, that this affectation of ignorance is only intended
to irritate their opponents; that they suppress facts with which they
are well acquainted, only that they may have an opportunity of giving
vent to their passions, of displaying their imagination in artful
reproaches, and exercising their eloquence in splendid declamations. I
believe they hide what they know where to find, only to oblige others
to the labour of producing it; and ask questions, not because they
want or desire information, but because they hope to weary those whose
stations condemn them to the task of answering them.

The effects, my lords, which the assistance given by us to the queen
of Hungary have already produced, are the recovery of one kingdom, and
the safety of the rest; the exclusion of the Spaniards from Italy on
the one part, and on the other the confinement of them in it, without
either the supplies for war, or the necessaries of life.

These, my lords, are surely great advantages; but these are not the
greatest which we have reason to hope. Our vigour and resolution have
at last animated the Dutch to suspend for a time their attention to
trade and money, and to consider what they seldom much regard, the
state of other nations; the most rich and powerful of their provinces
have already determined to concur in the reestablishment of the house
of Austria; and if the approbation of the rest be necessary, it is
likely to be obtained by the same method of proceeding.

Thus, my lords, we have a prospect of doing that which the ministers
of queen Anne, whose fidelity, wisdom, and address, have been so often
and so invidiously commended, thought their greatest honour, and the
strongest proof of their abilities. We may soon form another
confederacy against the house of Bourbon, at a time when Louis the
fourteenth is not at its head, at a time when it is exhausted by
expensive projects; and when, therefore, it cannot make the same
resistance as when it was before attacked.

By pursuing the scheme which is now formed, with steadiness and
ardour, we may, perhaps, reinstate all those nations in their
liberties, whom cowardice, or negligence, or credulity have, during
the last century, delivered up to the ambition of France; we may
confine that swelling monarchy, which has from year to year torn down
the boundaries of its neighbours, within its ancient limits, and
disable it for ages from giving any new alarms to mankind, and from
making any other efforts for the acquisition of universal dominion; we
may reestablish the house of Austria as the great barrier of the
world, by which it is preserved on one part from being laid waste by
the barbarity of the Turks, and on the other from being enslaved by
politer tyrants, and overrun by the ambition of France.

Elevated with such success, and encouraged by such prospects, we ought
surely, my lords, to press forward in a path, where we have hitherto
found no difficulties, and which leads directly to solid peace and
happiness, which no dangers or terrours can hereafter interrupt: we
ought, instead of relaxing, to redouble our efforts; and to remember,
that by exerting all our strength and all our influence for a short
time, we shall not only secure ourselves and our posterity from
insolence and oppression, but shall establish the tranquillity of the
world, and promote the general felicity of the human species.

For these great purposes, my lords, are those auxiliaries retained, of
which some lords now require the dismission; and those armies
transported, which part of the nation is by false reports inclined to
recall; but I hope that such unreasonable demands will not be
gratified, and that the faith of treaties, the ties of friendship, the
call of justice, and the expectations of our allies, will easily
prevail upon your lordships to despise the murmurs of prejudice, and
the outcries of faction.

Lord BATH replied to the following effect:--My lords, as I am far from
thinking, that my advice or opinion can be of any use in this
illustrious assembly, I should have listened in silence to this
debate, important as it is, had I not thought it my duty to defend
here what I approved in the council; and considered it as an act of
cowardice and meanness to fall passively down the stream of
popularity, and to suffer my reason and my integrity to be overborne
by the noise of vulgar clamours, which have been raised against the
measures of the government by the low arts of exaggeration, fallacious
reasonings, and partial representations. It is not without concern, my
lords, that even in this house I observe some inclination to gratify
the prejudices of the people, and to confirm them in their contempt of
the foreign troops, by the poor artifice of contemptuous language. To
dispute about words, is, indeed, seldom useful; and when questions so
weighty as these are before us, may be justly censured as improper. I
shall, therefore, only observe that the term mercenaries, which is in
the motion applied to the forces of Hanover, seems designed rather to
affect the passions than influence the reason, and intended only to
express a partiality which cannot be justified.

But it is far more necessary, my lords, to consider upon what motives
the troops of Hanover were hired, than by what denomination they may
most properly be called; and therefore I shall endeavour to explain
the reasons which induced the ministry to retain them, and which, I
suppose, have prevailed upon the commons to provide for their support.

It has been asked, why the troops of Hanover were preferred to those
of any other nation? And it has been insinuated, that our
determination was influenced by motives very different from that
regard which every Briton owes to the interest of his native country.
But to this imputation, however specious, and however popular, it may
be with great security replied, that there was no preference, because
there was no choice; that there was a necessity for hiring troops, and
that no other troops were to be obtained; and whoever shall endeavour
to invalidate this defence, must engage in an undertaking of which I
can boldly affirm, that he will find it very difficult. He must show
what power would have been able or willing to have furnished us with
troops on this occasion; and I am confident, that whoever shall, with
this design, take a deliberate survey of the several kingdoms and
states of Europe, will find, that there is no other prince to whom we
could have applied on this occasion, without greater inconveniencies
than can reasonably be feared from the present stipulation with

The reasons, indeed, for which this stipulation was made, appeared so
strong, when it was considered in the council, that it was unanimously
determined necessary; nor was the conclusion hastily made in an
assembly of particular persons, who might be suspected of favouring it
from private views, and of being convened on purpose to put it in
execution: it was debated by a great number with great solemnity; nor
can any man say, that he only yielded to what he found it in vain to
oppose; for the consent given was not a tacit acquiescence, but a
verbal approbation. So far was this part of our measures from being
the advice of any single man, or transacted with that solicitous
secrecy which is the usual refuge of bad designs.

It has been asserted, likewise, my lords, and with much greater
appearance of justice, that this whole design has been formed and
conducted without the concurrence or approbation of the senate; and
that, therefore, it can be considered only as a private scheme to be
executed at the publick expense, as a plan formed by the ministry to
aggrandize or ingratiate themselves at the hazard of the nation.

But even this, my lords, is a misrepresentation, though a
misrepresentation more artful, and more difficult to defeat; because,
in order to the justification of our measures, it is necessary to take
a review of past transactions, and to consider what was necessarily
implied by former determinations of the senate.

The period, my lords, to which this consideration will necessarily
carry us back, is the time at which, after the late tedious war, a
peace was, on whatever terms, concluded with France. It is well known,
that the confederates demanded, among other advantages, a cession of
that part of Flanders, which had been for many years in the possession
of Spain, and which opened a way by which the ambition of the house of
Bourbon might make inroads at pleasure into the dominions of either
the Austrians or Dutch. This they were immediately interested in
preventing; and as we knew the necessity of preserving the equipoise
of power, we likewise were remotely engaged to promote any measures by
which it might be secured. In this demand, therefore, all the
confederate powers naturally united, and by their united influence
enforced compliance. But though it was easy, with no great profundity
of political knowledge, to discover from whom these provinces should
be taken away, to whom they should be given, was a question of more
difficulty; since they might add to the power that had opportunities
of improving them, such an increase of commerce and wealth as might
defeat the end for which they were demanded, and destroy the balance
of power, by transferring too much weight into another scale. And
mankind has learned, my lords, by experience, that exorbitant power
will always produce exorbitant pride; that very few, when they can
oppress with security, will be contained within the bounds of equity
by the restraints of morality or of religion; and that, therefore, the
only method of establishing a lasting peace is to divide power so
equally, that no party may have any certain prospect of advantage by
making war upon another.

For this reason, my lords, it was apparently contrary to our interest
to grant those provinces to those to whom, by their situation, they
might have been most useful. Such countries, and such manufactures in
the hands of a people versed, perhaps, beyond all others, both in the
science and the stratagems of trade, and always watchful to improve
every opportunity of increasing their riches, would have enabled them
in a short time to purchase an interest in the councils of all the
monarchs of the world, to have maintained fleets that might have
covered the ocean, and to have obtained that universal dominion to
which the French have so long aspired, and which it is, perhaps, more
for the interest of mankind, that if slavery cannot be prevented, they
should obtain, as they would, perhaps, use their power with more

The same reason, my lords, naturally made the Dutch unwilling to put
these provinces in the hands of Britain; for we, likewise, make a
profession of trade, though we do not pursue it with the same ardour,
or, to confess the truth, with the same success: it was not, however,
to be imagined, that there would not be found among us some men of
sagacity to discern, and of industry to improve the opportunities
which the new dominions would have put into our hands of vending our
manufactures in parts where, at present, they are very little known.
Nor was this the only danger to be feared from such an increase of
dominion: the Dutch have not yet forgotten, that though we at first
rescued them from slavery, patronised the infancy of their state, and
continued our guardianship till it was grown up to maturity, and
enabled to support itself by its own strength, yet we afterwards made
very vigorous attempts to reduce it to its original weakness, and to
sink it into pupillage again; that we attempted to invade the most
essential part of its rights, and to prescribe the number of ships
that it should maintain. They know, likewise, my lords, that by the
natural rotation of human affairs, the same counsels may in some
future reign be again pursued, or that some unavoidable conflict of
interest may produce a contest that can be decided only by the sword;
and then it may easily be perceived how much they would be endangered,
by the neighbourhood of British garrisons, and of countries, where we
might maintain numerous armies at a very small expense. It is,
therefore, no subject of wonder, that a nation much less subtile than
the Dutch should find out how much it was their interest, that we
should be confined within the limits of our own island; and that we
should not have it in our power to attack them with armies as well as
fleets, and at once to obstruct their commerce and invade their

There remained, therefore, my lords, no power but the emperour to whom
these provinces could be consigned; and to him, therefore, they were
given, but given only in trust for the joint advantage of the whole
confederacy; he, indeed, enjoys their revenues on condition that he
shall support the garrisons necessary to their defence; but he cannot
transfer them to any other power, or alienate them to the detriment of
those nations who concurred in acquiring them.

It may not be improper, my lords, to observe, that on this contract
depends the justice of our conduct with regard to the company
established at Ostend for carrying on a trade to the East Indies.
These provinces were granted to the confederate powers, and consigned
to the emperour to be enjoyed by him for the common benefit: it was,
therefore, plainly intended by this contract, that he should use none
of the advantages which these new dominions afforded him, to the
detriment of those powers by whose gift he enjoyed them; nor could it
be supposed that the Dutch and Britons debarred each other from those
opportunities of trade only to enable the emperour to rival them both.

The towns, therefore, my lords, were at this time determined by the
senate to be the general property of all the confederate powers,
acquired by their united arms, and to be preserved for their common
advantage, as the pledge of peace, and the palladium of Europe. If,
therefore, it should at any time happen, that they should be
endangered either by the weakness or neglect of any one of those
powers, the rest are to exert their right, and endeavour their
preservation and security; nor is there any new stipulation or law
necessary for this; since, with respect to the confederates, it is
implied in the original stipulation, and with regard to the senate of
Britain, in the approbation which was bestowed upon that contract,
when it was made.

The time, my lords, in which this common right is to be exerted, is
now arrived; the queen of Hungary, invaded in her hereditary
dominions, and pressed on every side by a general combination of
almost all the surrounding princes, declares herself no longer able to
support the garrisons of the barrier, and informs us, that she intends
to recall her troops for the defence of their own country. What, then,
is more apparent, my lords, than that either these towns must fall
again into the hands of the French, and that we shall be obliged to
recover them, if they can ever be recovered, at the expense of another
ten years' war, or that either we or the Dutch must send troops to
supply the place of those which the necessities of their sovereign
oblige her to withdraw.

That the towns of Flanders should be resigned gratuitously to France,
that the enemies of mankind should be put in possession of the
strongest bulwarks in the world, surrounded by fields and pastures
able to maintain their garrisons without expense, will not be proposed
by any of this assembly. But it may easily and naturally be objected,
that the Dutch ought to garrison these towns, as more nearly
interested in their preservation, and more commodiously situated for
their defence; nor can it be, indeed, denied, that the Dutch may be
justly censured for their neglect, as they appear to leave the common
cause to our protection, and to prefer their commerce and their ease
to their own safety and the happiness of the world.

This, my lords, has been very warmly asserted in their own assemblies,
nor have there been wanting men of spirit and integrity amongst them
who have despised the gold and promises, and detected the artifices of
France; who have endeavoured by all the arts of argument and
persuasion to rouse their countrymen to remembrance of their former
danger, and to an inquiry into their real interest; who have advised
the levy of new forces, and the establishment of a new confederacy;
who have called upon the state to face danger while it is yet distant,
and to secure their own country by pouring their garrisons into the
towns and citadels by which their frontiers are protected. If their
arguments, however just, have not yet attained their end, it is to be
imputed to the constitution, embarrassed by the combination of
different interests, which must be reconciled, before any resolution
can be formed. A single town, my lords, can, by refusing its consent,
put a stand to the most necessary designs, and it is easily to be
imagined, that by a monarch equally crafty and rich, a single town may
sometimes be bribed into measures contrary to the publick interest.

But, my lords, the negligence of the Dutch is a motive which ought to
incite us to vigour and despatch; since it is not for the sake of the
Dutch but ourselves, that we desire the suppression of France. If the
Dutch are at length convinced of the ease of slavery, and think
liberty no longer worth the labour of preserving it,--if they are
tired with the task of labouring for the happiness of others, and have
forsaken the stand on which they were placed, as the general watch of
the world, to indulge themselves in tranquillity and slumber,--let not
us, my lords, give way to the same infatuation; let not us look with
neglect on the deluge that rolls towards us till it has advanced too
far to be resisted. Let us remember, that we are to owe our
preservation only to ourselves, and redouble our efforts in proportion
as others neglect their duty. Let us show mankind, that we are neither
afraid to stand up alone in defence of justice and of freedom, nor
unable to maintain the cause that we have undertaken to assert.

But if it should be thought by any of this noble assembly, that the
concurrence of the Dutch is absolutely necessary to a prospect of
success, it may be reasonably answered, that by engaging in measures
which can leave no doubt of either our power or our sincerity, the
concurrence of the Dutch is most likely to be obtained. By this method
of proceeding, my lords, was formed the last mighty confederacy by
which the house of Bourbon was almost shaken into ruins. The Dutch
then, as now, were slow in their determinations, and perhaps equally
diffident of their own strength and our firmness; nor did they agree
to declare war against France, till we had transported ten thousand
men into Flanders, and convinced them that we were not inviting them
to a mock alliance; but that we really intended the reduction of that
empire which had so long extended itself without interruption, and
threatened in a short time to swallow up all the western nations.

Thus, my lords, it appears, that the measures which have been pursued
are just, politick, and legal; that they have been prescribed by the
decrees of former senates, and therefore cannot be censured as
arbitrary; and that they have a tendency to the preservation of those
territories which it was once thought so much honour to acquire: and
it may be yet farther urged, that though they are to be considered
only as the first tendencies to secure greater designs, they have
already produced effects apparently to the advantage of the common
cause, and have obliged the French to desist from their pursuit of the
queen of Hungary, and rather to inquire how they shall return home
than how they shall proceed to farther conquests.

In condemnation of these measures, my lords, it has indeed been urged,
that a moderate conduct is always eligible; and that nothing but ruin
and confusion can be expected from precipitation and temerity.
Moderation, my lords, is a very captivating sound; but I hope it will
have now no influence on this assembly; because on this occasion it
cannot properly be employed. I have always been taught, that
moderation is only useful in forming determinations or designs, but
that when once conviction is attained, zeal is to take place; and when
a design is planned, it ought to be executed with vigour.

The question is not now, my lords, whether we shall support the queen
of Hungary, but in what manner she shall be supported; and, therefore,
it cannot be doubted, but that such support should be granted her as
may be effectual; and I believe it will not be thought, that we can
assist her without exerting an uncommon degree of vigour, and showing,
that we consider ourselves as engaged in a cause which cannot be
abandoned without disgrace and ruin.

If the noble lord had, before he entered upon his encomium on
moderation, considered what effects could be promised from his
favourite virtue, he would have had no inclination to display his
eloquence upon it. By moderation, my lords, uninterrupted moderation
of more than twenty years, have we become the scorn of mankind, and
exposed ourselves to the insults of almost every nation in the world.
By moderation have we betrayed our allies, and suffered our friendship
to lose all its value; by moderation have we given up commerce to the
rapacity of an enemy, formidable only for his perseverance, and
suffered our merchants to be ruined, and our sailors to be enslaved.
By moderation have we permitted the French to grasp again at general
dominion, to overrun Germany with their armies, and to endanger again
the liberties of mankind; and by continuing, for a very few years, the
same laudable moderation, we shall probably encourage them to shut up
our ships in our harbour, and demand a tribute for the use of the

I need not observe to your lordships, that all the great actions that
have, in all ages, been achieved, have been the effects of resolution,
diligence, and daring activity, virtues wholly opposite to the
calmness of moderation. I need not observe, that the advantages
enjoyed at present by the French are the consequences of that vigour
and expedition, by which they are distinguished, and which the form of
their government enables them to exert. Had they, my lords, instead of
pouring armies into the Austrian dominions, and procuring, by the
terrour of their troops, the election of an emperour, pursued these
measures of moderation which have been so pathetically recommended,
how easily had their designs been defeated?

Had they lost time in persuading the queen of Hungary by a solemn
embassy to resign her dominions, or attempted to influence the diet by
amicable negotiations, armies had been levied, and the passes of
Germany had been shut against them; they had been opposed on the
frontiers of their own dominions, by troops equally numerous and
warlike with their own, and instead of imposing a sovereign on the
empire, had been, perhaps, pursued into their own country.

But, my lords, whether moderation was not recommended to them by such
powerful oratory as your lordships have heard, or whether its
advocates met with an audience not easily to be convinced, it is plain
that they seem to have acted upon very different principles, and I
wish their policy had not been so strongly justified by its success.
By sending an army into Germany, my lords, when there were no forces
ready to oppose them, they reduced all the petty princes to immediate
submission, and obliged those to welcome them as friends, who would
gladly have united against them as the inveterate enemies of the whole
German body; and who, had they been firmly joined by their neighbours,
under a general sense of their common danger, would have easily raised
an army able to have repelled them.

This, my lords, was the effect of vigour, an effect very different
from that which we had an opportunity of experiencing as the
consequence of moderation; it was to no purpose that we endeavoured to
alarm mankind by remonstrances, and to procure assistance by
entreaties and solicitations; the universal panick was not to be
removed by advice and exhortations, and the queen of Hungary must have
sunk under the weight of a general combination against her, had we not
at last risen up in her defence, and with our swords in our hands, set
an example to the nations of Europe, of courage and generosity.

It then quickly appeared, my lords, how little is to be expected from
cold persuasion, and how necessary it is, that he who would engage
others in a task of difficulty, should show himself willing to partake
the labour which he recommends. No sooner had we declared our
resolution to fulfil our stipulations, and ordered our troops to march
for the relief of the queen of Hungary, than other princes discovered
that they had the same dispositions, though they had hitherto thought
it prudent to conceal them; that they, equally with ourselves, hated
and feared the French; that they were desirous to repress their
insolence and oppose their conquests, and only waited for the motions
of some power who might stand at the head of the confederacy, and lead
them forwards against the common enemy. The liberal promises of
dominion made by the French, by which the sovereigns of Germany had
been tempted to concur in a design which they thought themselves
unable to oppose, were now no longer regarded; they were considered
only as the boasts of imaginary greatness, which would at last vanish
into air; and every one knew, that the ultimate design of Europe was
to oppress equally her enemies and friends; they wisely despised her
offers, and either desisted from the designs to which they had been
incited by her, or declared themselves ready to unite against her.

This, my lords, has been the consequence of assembling the army,
which, by the motion now under our consideration, some of your
lordships seem desirous to disband, an inclination of which I cannot
discover from whence it can arise.

For what, my lords, must be the consequence, if this motion should be
complied with? what but the total destruction of the whole system of
power which has been so laboriously formed and so strongly compacted?
what but the immediate ruin of the house of Austria, by which the
French ambition has been so long restrained? what but the subversion
of the liberties of Germany, and the erection of an universal empire,
to which all the nations of the earth must become vassals?

Should the auxiliary troops be disbanded, the queen of Hungary would
find what benefit she has received from them by the calamities which
the loss of them would immediately bring upon her. All the claims of
all the neighbouring princes, who are now awed into peace and silence,
would be revived, and every one would again believe, that nothing was
to be hoped or feared but from France. The French would again rush
forward to new invasions, and spread desolation over other countries,
and the house of Austria would be more weakened than by the loss of
many battles in its present state.

The support of the house of Austria appears not, indeed, much to
engage the attention of those by whom this motion is supported. It has
been represented as a house equally ambitious and perfidious with that
of Bourbon, and equally an enemy both to liberty and to true religion;
and a very celebrated author has been quoted to prove, that it is the
interest of the Germans themselves to see a prince at their head,
whose hereditary dominions may not incite him to exert the imperial
power to the disadvantage of the inferiour sovereigns.

In order to the consideration of these objections, it is necessary to
observe, my lords, that national alliances are not like leagues of
friendship, the consequences of an agreement of disposition, opinions,
and affections, but like associations of commerce, formed and
continued by no similitude of any thing but interest. It is not,
therefore, necessary to inquire what the house of Austria has deserved
from us or from mankind; because interest, not gratitude, engages us
to support it. It is useless to urge, that it is equally faithless and
cruel with the house of Bourbon, because the question is not whether
both shall be destroyed, but whether one should rage without control.
It is sufficient for us that their interest is opposite, and that
religion and liberty may be preserved by their mutual jealousy. And I
confess, my lords, that were the Austrians about to attain unlimited
power by the conquest or inheritance of France and Spain, it would be
no less proper to form confederacies against them.

The testimony which has been produced of the convenience of a weak
emperour, is to be considered, my lords, as the opinion of an author
whose birth and employment had tainted him with an inveterate hatred
of the house of Austria, and filled his imagination with an habitual
dread of the imperial power. He was born, my lords, in Sweden, a
country which had suffered much by a long war against the emperour; he
was a minister to the electors of Brandenburgh, who naturally looked
with envy on the superiority of Austria, and could not but wish to see
a weaker prince upon the imperial throne, that their own influence
might be greater; nor can we wonder, that a man thus born and thus
supported should adopt an opinion by which the pride of his master
would be flattered, and perhaps the interest of his own country

It is likewise, my lords, to be remarked, that there was then no such
necessity for a powerful prince to stand at the head of the Germans,
and to defend them with his own forces till they could unite for their
own preservation. The power of France had not then arrived at its
present height, nor had their monarchs openly threatened to enslave
all the nations of Europe. The princes of the empire had then no
oppression to fear, but from the emperour; and it was no wonder, that
when he was their only enemy, they wished that his power was reduced.

How much the state of the continent is now changed, is not necessary
to mention, nor what alteration that change has introduced into the
politicks of all nations; those who formerly dreaded to be overwhelmed
by the imperial greatness, can now only hope to be secured by it from
the torrent of the power of France; and even those nations who have
formerly endeavoured the destruction of Austria, may now rejoice, that
they are sheltered by its interposition from tyrants more active and
more oppressive.

But, my lords, though it should be granted that the house of Austria
ought not to be supported, it will not, in my opinion, follow, that
this motion deserves our approbation; because it will reduce us to a
state of imbecility, and condemn us to stand as passive spectators of
the disturbances of the world, without power and without influence,
ready to admit the tyrant to whom chance shall allot us, and receive
those laws which the prevailing power shall vouchsafe to transmit.

Whether we ought to support the house of Austria, to prevent its utter
subversion, or restore it to its former greatness, whatever may be my
private opinion, I think it not on this occasion necessary to assert;
it is sufficient to induce us to reject this motion, that we ought to
be at least in a condition that may enable us to improve those
opportunities that may be offered, and to hinder the execution of any
design that may threaten immediate danger to our commerce or our

Another popular topick, my lords, which has been echoed on the present
occasion, is the happiness of peace, and the blessing of uninterrupted
commerce and undisturbed security. We are perpetually told of the
hazards of war, whatever may be the superiority of our skill or
courage; of the certainty of the expenses, the bloodshed, and the
hardships, and doubtfulness of the advantages which we may hope from
them; and it is daily urged with great vehemence, that peace upon the
hardest conditions is preferable to the honour of conquests, and the
festivity of triumphs.

These maxims, my lords, which are generally true in the sense which
their authors intended, may be very properly urged against the wild
designs of ambition, and the romantick undertakings of wanton
greatness; but have no place in the present inquiry, which relates to
a war not made by caprice, but forced upon us by necessity; a war to
which all the encomiums on peace, must in reality incite, because
peace alone is the end intended to be obtained by it.

Of the necessity of peace to a trading nation it is not possible, my
lords, to be ignorant; and therefore no man can be imagined to propose
a state of war as eligible in itself. War, my lords, is, in my
opinion, only to be chosen, when peace can be no longer enjoyed, and
to be continued only till a peace secure and equitable can be
attained. In the present state of the world, my lords, we fight not
for laurels, nor conquests, but for existence. Should the arms of
France prevail, and prevail they must, unless we oppose them, the
Britons may, in a short time, no longer be a nation, our liberties
will be taken away, our constitution destroyed, our religion
persecuted, and perhaps our name abolished.

For the prevention of calamities like these, not for the preservation
of the house of Austria, it is necessary, my lords, to collect an
army; for by an army only can our liberties be preserved, and such a
peace obtained, as may be enjoyed without the imputation of supineness
and stupidity.

Of this the other house appears to be sufficiently convinced, and has
therefore granted money for the support of the auxiliary troops; nor
do I doubt but your lordships will concur with them, when you shall
fully consider the motives upon which they may be supposed to have
proceeded, and reflect, that by dismissing these troops, we shall
sacrifice to the ambition of the French, the house of Austria, the
liberties of Europe, our own happiness, and that of our posterity; and
that, by resolving to exert our forces for a short time, we may place
the happiness of mankind beyond the reach of attacks and violation.

Lord CARTERET replied to the following effect:--My lords, the
considerations which were laid before you by the noble lords who made
and seconded the motion, are so important in themselves, and have been
urged with so much force and judgment, that I shall not endeavour to
add any new arguments; since, where those fail which have been already
offered, it is not likely that any will be effectual: but I shall
endeavour to preserve them in their full force by removing the
objections which have been made to them.

The first consideration that claims our attention is the reverence due
to the senate, to the great council of the nation, which ought always
to be consulted when any important design is formed, or any new
measures adopted; especially if they are such as cannot be defeated by
being made publick, and such as an uncommon degree of expense is
necessary to support.

These principles, my lords, which I suppose no man will contest, have
been so little regarded by the ministry on the present occasion, that
they seem to have endeavoured to discover, by a bold experiment, to
what degree of servility senates may be reduced, and what insults they
will be taught to bear without resentment; for they have, without the
least previous hint of their design, made a contract for a very
numerous body of mercenaries, nor did they condescend to inform the
senate, till they asked for money to pay them.

To execute measures first, and then to require the approbation of the
senate, instead of advice, is surely such a degree of contempt as has
not often been shown in the most arbitrary reigns, and such as would
once have provoked such indignation in the other house, that there
would have been no need in this of a motion like the present.

But, my lords, in proportion as the other house seems inclined to pay
an implicit submission to the dictates of the ministry, it is our duty
to increase our vigilance, and to convince our fellow-subjects, by a
steady opposition to all encroachments, that we are not, as we have
been sometimes styled, an useless assembly, but the last resort of
liberty, and the chief support of the constitution.

The present design of those, who have thus dared to trample upon our
privileges, appears to be nothing less than that of reducing the
senates of Britain to the same abject slavery with those of France; to
show the people that we are to be considered only as their agents, to
raise the supplies which they shall be pleased, under whatever
pretences, to demand, and to register such determinations as they
shall condescend to lay before us.

This invasion of our rights, my lords, is too flagrant to be borne,
though were the measures which we are thus tyrannically, required to
support, really conducive in themselves to the interest of Britain,
which, indeed, might reasonably have been expected; for what head can
be imagined so ill formed for politicks as not to know, that the first
acts of arbitrary power ought to be in themselves popular, that the
advantage of the effect may be a balance to the means by which it is

But these wonderful politicians, my lords, have heaped one blunder
upon another; they have disgusted the nation both by the means and the
end; and have insulted the senate with no other view than that of
plundering the people. They have ventured, without the consent of the
senate, to pursue measures, of which it is obvious that they were
only kept secret because they easily foresaw that they would not be

For that the hire of mercenaries from Hanover, my lords, would have
been rejected with general indignation; that the proposal would have
produced hisses rather than censures; and that the arguments which
have been hitherto used to support it, would, if personal regards did
not make them of some importance, produce laughter oftener than
replies, cannot surely be doubted.

It has been said in vindication of this wise scheme, that no other
troops could be obtained but those of Hanover; an assertion which I
hope I may be allowed to examine, because it is yet a bare assertion
without argument, and against probability; since it is generally
known, how willingly the princes of Germany have on all former
occasions sent out their subjects to destruction, that they might fill
their coffers with their pay; nor do I doubt, but that there is now in
the same country the usual superabundance of men, and the usual
scarcity of money. I make no question, my lords, that many a German
prince would gladly furnish us with men as a very cheap commodity, and
think himself sufficiently rewarded by a small subsidy. There could be
no objection to these troops from the constitution of the empire,
which is not of equal force against the forces of Hanover; nor do I
know why they should not rather have been employed, if they could have
been obtained at a cheaper price.

The absurdity of paying levy-money for troops regularly kept up, and
of hiring them at a higher rate than was ever paid for auxiliaries
before, has been so strongly urged, and so fully explained, that no
reply has been attempted by those who have hitherto opposed the
motion; having rather endeavoured to divert our attention to foreign
considerations, than to vindicate this part of the contract, which is,
indeed, too shameful to be palliated, and too gross to be overlooked.

It is, however, proper to repeat, my lords, that though it cannot be
confuted, it may be forgotten in the multitude of other objects, that
this nation, after having exalted the elector of Hanover from a state
of obscurity to the crown, is condemned to hire the troops of Hanover
to fight their own cause, to hire them at a rate which was never
demanded for them before, and to pay levy-money for them, though it is
known to all Europe, that they were not raised on this occasion.

Nor is this the only hardship or folly of this contract; for we are to
pay them a month before they march into our service; we are to pay
those for doing nothing, of whom it might have been, without any
unreasonable expectations, hoped, that they would have exerted their
utmost force without pay.

For it is apparent, my lords, that if the designs of France be such as
the noble lords who oppose the motion represent them, Hanover is much
nearer to danger than Britain; and, therefore, they only fight for
their own preservation; since, though they have for a single year been
blessed with a neutrality, it cannot be imagined, that the same favour
will be always granted them, or that the French, when they have
overrun all the rest of Germany, will not annex Hanover to their other

Besides, my lords, it is well known, that Hanover is equally engaged
by treaty with Britain to maintain the Pragmatick sanction, and that a
certain proportion of troops are to be furnished. But, my lords, as to
the march of that body of forces, I have yet heard no account. Will
any lord say that they have marched? I, therefore, suppose, that the
wisdom and justice of our ministers has comprehended them in the
sixteen thousand who are to fatten upon British pay, and that Hanover
will support the Pragmatick sanction at the cost of this inexhaustible

The service which those troops have already done to the common cause,
has been urged with great pomp of exaggeration, of which what effect
it may have had upon others, I am not able to say; for my part, I am
convinced, that the great happiness of this kingdom is the security of
the established succession; and am, therefore, always of opinion, that
no measures can serve the common cause, the cause of liberty, or of
religion, or of general happiness, by which the royal family loses the
affections of the people. And I can with great confidence affirm, that
no attempt for many years has raised a greater heat of resentment, or
excited louder clamours of indignation, than the hire of Hanoverian
troops; nor is this discontent raised only by artful misrepresentations,
formed to inflame the passions, and perplex the understanding; it is a
settled and rational dislike, which every day contributes to confirm,
which will make all the measures of the government suspected, and may
in time, if not obviated, break out in sedition.

A jealousy of Hanover has, indeed, for a long time prevailed in the
nation. The frequent visits of our kings to their electoral dominions,
contrary to the original terms on which this crown was conferred upon
them, have inclined the people of Britain to suspect, that they have
only the second place in the affection of their sovereign; nor has
this suspicion been made less by the large accessions made to those
dominions by purchases, which the electors never appeared able to make
before their exaltation to the throne of Britain, and by some measures
which have been apparently taken only to aggrandize Hanover at the
expense of Britain.

These measures, my lords, I am very far from imputing to our sovereign
or his father; the wisdom of both is so well known, that they cannot
be imagined to have incurred, either by contempt or negligence, the
disaffection of their subjects. Those, my lords, are only to be
blamed, who concealed from them the sentiments of the nation, and for
the sake of promoting their own interest, betrayed them, by the most
detestable and pernicious flattery, into measures which could produce
no other effect than that of making their reign unquiet, and of
exasperating those who had concurred with the warmest zeal in
supporting them on the throne.

It is not without an uncommon degree of grief, that I hear it urged in
defence of this contract, that it was approved by a very numerous
council; for what can produce more sorrow in an honest and a loyal
breast, than to find that our sovereign is surrounded by counsellors,
who either do not know the desires and opinions of the people, or do
not regard them; who are either so negligent as not to examine how the
affections of the nation may be best preserved, or so rash as to
pursue those schemes by which they hope to gratify the king at
whatever hazard, and who for the sake of flattering him for a day,
will risk the safety of his government, and the repose of his life.

It has, with regard to these troops, been asked by the noble lord who
spoke last, what is the intent of this motion but to disband them?
What else, indeed, can be intended by it, and what intention can be
more worthy of this august assembly? By a steady pursuit of this
intention, my lords, we shall regain the esteem of the nation, which
this daring invasion of our privileges may be easily supposed to have
impaired. We shall give our sovereign an opportunity, by a gracious
condescension to our desires, to recover those affections of which the
pernicious advice of flatterers has deprived him; we shall obviate a
precedent which threatens destruction to our liberties, and shall set
the nation free from an universal alarm. Nor in our present state is
it to be mentioned as a trifling consideration, that we shall hinder
the wealth of the nation from being ravished from our merchants, our
farmers, and our manufacturers, to be squandered upon foreigners, and
foreigners from whom we can hope for no advantage.

But it may be asked, my lords, how the great cause of liberty is to be
supported, how the house of Austria is to be preserved from ruin, and
how the ambition of France is to be repressed? How all this is to be
effected, my lords, I am very far from conceiving myself qualified to
determine; but surely it will be very little hindered by the
dismission of troops, whose allegiance obliges them not to fight
against the emperour, and of whom, therefore, it does not easily
appear how they can be very useful allies to the queen of Hungary.

But whatever service is expected from them, it may surely, my lords,
be performed by the same number of British troops; and that number may
be sent to supply their place, without either delay or difficulty; I
will venture to say, without any hazard. If it be objected, as it has
often been, that by sending out our troops, we shall leave our country
naked to invasion, I hope I may be allowed to ask, who will invade us?
The French are well known to be the only people whom we can suspect of
any such design. They have no fleet on this side of their kingdom, and
their ships in the Mediterranean are blocked up in the harbour by the
navies of Britain. We shall still have at home a body of seven
thousand men, which was thought a sufficient security in the late war,
when the French had a fleet equal to our own. Why we should now be in
more danger from without, I cannot discover; and with regard to
intestine commotions, they will be prevented by compliance with the
present motion. For nothing can incite the people of Britain to oppose
those who have openly dismissed the troops of Hanover.

But, my lords, I am not yet at all convinced, that the end for which
those troops are said to be hired, ought to be pursued, or can be
attained by us; and if the end be in itself improper or impossible, it
certainly follows, that the means ought to be laid aside.

If we consider the present state of the continent, we shall find no
prospect by which we can be encouraged to hazard our forces or our
money. The king of Sardinia has, indeed, declared for us, and opposed
the passage of the Spaniards; but he appears either to be deficient in
courage, or in prudence, or in force; for instead of giving battle on
his frontiers, he has suffered them, with very little resistance, to
invade his territories, to plunder and insult his subjects, and to
live at his expense; and it may be suspected, that if he cannot drive
them out of his country, he will in time be content to purchase their
departure, by granting them a passage through it, and rather give up
the dominions of his ally to be ravaged, than preserve them at the
expense of his own.

If we turn our eyes towards the Dutch, we shall not be more encouraged
to engage in the wars on the continent; for whatever has been asserted
of their readiness to proceed in conjunction with us, they appear
hitherto to behold, with the most supine tranquillity, the subversion
of the German system, and to be satisfied with an undisturbed
enjoyment of their riches and their trade. Nor is there any
appearance, my lords, that their concurrence is withheld only by a
single town, as has been insinuated; for the vote of any single town,
except Amsterdam, may be overruled, and the resolution has passed the
necessary form, when it is opposed by only one voice.

If we take a view, my lords, of their late conduct, without suffering
our desires to mislead our understandings, we shall find no reason for
imagining, that they propose any sudden alteration of their conduct,
which has been hitherto consistent and steady, and appears to arise
from established principles, which nothing has lately happened to
incline them to forsake.

When they were solicited to become, like us, the guarantees of
Hanover, they made no scruple of returning, with whatever
unpoliteness, an absolute refusal; nor could they be prevailed upon to
grant, what we appear to think that we were honoured in being admitted
to bestow. When they were called upon to fulfil their stipulation, and
support the Pragmatick sanction, they evaded their own contract, till
all assistance would have been too late, had not a lucky discovery of
the French perfidy separated the king of Prussia from them; and what
reason, my lords, can be given, why they should now do what they
refused, when it might have been much more safely and more easily
effected? Did they suffer the queen of Hungary to be oppressed, only
to show their own power and affluence by relieving her? or can it be
imagined, that pity has prevailed over policy or cowardice? They, who
in contempt of their own treaties refused to engage in a cause while
it was yet doubtful, will certainly think themselves justified in
abandoning it when it is lost, and will urge, that no treaty can
oblige them to act like madmen, or to undertake impossibilities.

I am, therefore, convinced, my lords, that they will not enter into an
offensive treaty, and that they have only engaged to do what their own
interest required from them, without any new stipulation, to preserve
their own country from invasion by sending garrisons into the frontier
towns, which they may do without any offence to France, or any
interruption of their own tranquillity.

Many other treaties have been mentioned, my lords, and mentioned with
great ostentation, as the effects of consummate policy, which will, I
suspect, appear to be at least only defensive treaties, by which the
contracting powers promise little more than to take care of

In this state of the world, my lords, when all the powers of the
continent appear benumbed by a lethargy, or shackled by a panick, to
what purpose should we lavish, in hiring and transporting troops, that
wealth which contests of nearer importance immediately require?

It is well known to our merchants, whose ships are every day seized by
privateers, that we are at war with Spain, and that our commerce is
every day impaired by the depredations of an enemy, whom only our own
negligence enables to resist us; but I doubt, my lords, whether it is
known in Spain, that their monarch is at war with Britain, otherwise
than by the riches of our nation, which are distributed among their
privateers, and the prisoners who in the towns on the coast are
wandering in the streets. For I know no inconvenience which they can
be supposed to feel from our hostilities, nor in what part of the
world the war against them is carried on. Before the war was declared,
it is well remembered by whom, and with how great vehemence, it was
every day repeated, that to end the war with honour we ought to _take
and hold_. What, my lords, do we _hold_, or what have we _taken_? What
has the war produced in its whole course from one year to another, but
defeats, losses, and ignominy? And how shall we regain our honour, or
retrieve our wealth, by engaging in another war more dangerous but
less necessary? We ought surely to humble Spain, before we presume to
attack France; and we may attack France with better prospects of
success, when we have no other enemy to divert our attention, or
divide our forces.

That we ought, indeed, to make any attempt upon France, I am far from
being convinced, because I do not now discover, that any of the
motives subsist which engaged us in the last confederacy. The house of
Austria, though overborne and distressed, was then powerful in itself,
and possessed of the imperial crown. It is now reduced almost below
the hopes of recovery, and we are therefore now to restore what we
were then only to support. But what, my lords, is in my opinion much
more to be considered, the nation was then unanimous in one general
resolution to repress the insolence of France; no hardships were
insupportable that conduced to this great end, nor any taxes grievous
that were applied to the support of the war. The account of a victory
was esteemed as an equivalent to excises and to publick debts; and the
possessions of us and our posterity were cheerfully mortgaged to
purchase a triumph over the common enemy. But, my lords, the
disposition of the nation with regard to the present war is very
different. They discover no danger threatening them, they are neither
invaded in their possessions by the armies, nor interrupted in their
commerce by the fleets of France; and therefore they are not able to
find out why they must be sacrificed to an enemy, by whom they have
been long pursued with the most implacable hatred, for the sake of
attacking a power from which they have hitherto felt no injury, and
which they believe cannot be provoked without danger, nor opposed
without such a profusion of expense as the publick is at present not
able to bear.

It is not to be supposed, my lords, that the bulk of the British
people are affected with the distresses, or inflamed by the
magnanimity of the queen of Hungary. This illustrious daughter of
Austria, whose name has been so often echoed in these walls, and of
whom I am far from denying, that she deserves our admiration, our
compassion, and all the assistance which can be given her,
consistently with the regard due to the safety of our own country, is
to the greatest part of the people an imaginary princess, whose
sufferings or whose virtues make no other impression upon them, than
those which are recorded in fictitious narratives; nor can they easily
be persuaded to give up for her relief the produce of their lands, or
the profits of their commerce.

Some, indeed, there are, my lords, whose views are more extensive, and
whose sentiments are more exalted; for it is not to be supposed, that
either knowledge or generosity are confined to the senate or the
court: but these, my lords, though they perhaps may more readily
approve the end which the ministry pretends to pursue, are less
satisfied with the means by which they endeavour to attain it. By
these men it is easily discovered, that the hopes which some so
confidently express of prevailing upon the Dutch to unite with us for
the support of the Pragmatick sanction, are without foundation; they
see that their consent to place garrisons in the frontier towns,
however it may furnish a subject of exultation to those whose interest
it is to represent them as ready to concur with us, is only a new
proof of what was never doubted, their unvariable attention to their
own interest, since they must for their own security preserve their
own barrier from being seized by France. By this act they incur no new
expense, they provoke no enemies, nor give any assistance to the queen
of Hungary, by which they can raise either resentment in one part, or
gratitude in the other; and therefore it is not hard to perceive that,
whatever is pretended, the Dutch hitherto observe the most exact laws
of neutrality; and it is too evident, that if they refuse their
assistance, we have very little to hope from a war with France.

Nor is this the only objection against the present measures; for it is
generally, and not without sufficient reason suspected, that the real
assistance of the queen of Hungary is not intended, since the troops
which have been hired under that pretence, are such as cannot march
against the emperour. It is known, that the Hessians have absolutely
refused to infringe the constitution of the German body, by attacking
him who is by a legal grant acknowledged its head; nor is it easy to
conceive, why there should be a different law for Hanover than for the
other electorates.

The long stay of the troops in Flanders, a place where there is no
enemy to encounter, nor ally to assist, is a sufficient proof that
there is nothing more designed than that the troops of Hanover shall
loiter on the verge of war, and receive their pay for feasting in
their quarters, and showing their arms at a review; and that they in
reality design nothing but to return home with full pockets, and enjoy
the spoils of Britain.

There may, indeed, be another reason, my lords, which hinders the
progress of the united forces, and by which the Britons and
Hanoverians may be both affected, though not both in the same degree.
It is by no means unlikely, that the king of Prussia has forbidden
them to advance, and declared, that the king who was chosen by his
suffrage shall be supported by his arms; if this be his resolution, he
is well known to want neither spirit nor strength to avow and support
it; and there are reasons sufficient to convince us, that he has
declared it, and that our troops are now patiently waiting the event
of a negotiation by which we are endeavouring to persuade him to alter
his design, if, indeed, it be desired that he should alter it; for it
is not certain, that the elector of Hanover can desire the restoration
of the house of Austria to an hereditary enjoyment of the imperial
dignity; nor can it easily be shown why the politicks of one house,
should differ from those of all the other princes of the German

The other princes, my lords, have long wished for a king with whom
they might treat upon the level; a king who might owe his dignity only
to their votes, and who, therefore, would be willing to favour them in
gratitude for the benefit. They know, that the princes of the house of
Austria considered their advancement to the empire as the consequence
of their numerous forces and large dominions, and made use of their
exaltation only to tyrannise under the appearance of legal right, and
to oppress those as sovereigns, whom they would otherwise have
harassed as conquerors.

Before we can, therefore, hope for the concurrence of the princes of
the empire, we must inform them of our design, if any design has been
yet laid out. Is it your intention to restore the house of Austria to
the full enjoyment of its former greatness? This will certainly be
openly opposed by all those powers who are strong enough to make head
against it, and secretly obstructed by those, whose weakness makes
them afraid of publick declarations. Do you intend to support the
Pragmatick sanction? This can only be done by defeating the whole
power of France; and for this you must necessarily provide troops who
shall dare to act against the present king. So that it appears, my
lords, that we are attempting nothing, or attempting impossibilities;
that either we have no end in view, or that we have made use of an
absurd choice of means by which it cannot be attained.

Whatever be our design with regard to Germany, the war against Spain
is evidently neglected; and, indeed, one part of our conduct proves at
once, that we intend neither to assist the Austrians, nor to punish
the Spaniards; since we have in a great measure disabled ourselves
from either by the neutrality which captain Martin is said to have
granted, and by which we have allowed an asylum both to the troops of
Spain, which shall fly before the Austrians, and the privateers which
shall be chased by our ships in the Mediterranean.

I am, therefore, convinced, my lords, that our designs are not such as
they are represented, or that they will not be accomplished by the
measures taken. I am convinced in a particular manner, that the troops
of Hanover can be of no use, and that they will raise the resentment
of the nation, already overwhelmed with unnecessary burdens. I know,
likewise, that they have been taken into pay without the consent of
the senate, and am convinced, that if no other objection could be
raised, we ought not to ratify a treaty which the crown has made,
without laying it before us in the usual manner. I need not,
therefore, inform your lordships, that I think the motion now under
your consideration necessary and just; and that I hope, upon an
attentive examination of the reasons which have been offered, your
lordships will concur in it with that unanimity which evidence ought
to enforce, and that zeal which ought to be excited by publick danger.

To which the duke of NEWCASTLE made answer to the following
purport:--My lords, I know not by what imaginary appearances of
publick danger the noble lord is so much alarmed, nor what fears they
are which he endeavours with so much art and zeal to communicate to
this assembly. For my part, I can upon the most attentive survey of
our affairs, discover nothing to be feared but calumnies and
misrepresentations; and these I shall henceforward think more
formidable, since they have been able to impose upon an understanding
so penetrating as that of his lordship, and have prevailed upon him to
believe what is not only false, but without the appearance of truth,
and to believe it so firmly, as to assert it to your lordships.

One of the facts which he has thus implicitly received, and thus
publickly mentioned, is the neutrality supposed to have been granted
to the king of Sicily, from which he has amused himself and your
lordships with deducing very destructive consequences, that perhaps
need not to be allowed him, even upon supposition of the neutrality;
but which need not now be disputed, because no neutrality has been
granted. Captain Martin, when he treated with the king, very
cautiously declined any declarations of the intentions of the British
court on that particular, and confined himself to the subject of his
message, without giving any reason for hope, or despair of a
neutrality. So that if it shall be thought necessary, we are this hour
at liberty to declare war against the king of Sicily, and may pursue
the Spaniards with the same freedom on his coasts as on those of any
other power, and prohibit any assistance from being given by him to
their armies in Italy.

His lordship's notion of the interposition of the king of Prussia in
the king's favour, is another phantom raised by calumny to terrify
credulity; a phantom which will, I hope, be entirely dissipated, when
I have informed the house, that the whole suspicion is without
foundation, and that the king of Prussia has made no declaration of
any design to support the king, or of opposing us in the performance
of our treaties. This prince, my lords, however powerful, active, or
ambitious, appears to be satisfied with his acquisitions, and willing
to rest in an inoffensive neutrality.

Such, my lords, and so remote from truth are the representations which
the enemies of the government have with great zeal and industry
scattered over the nation, and by which they have endeavoured to
obviate those schemes which they would seem to favour; for by sinking
the nation to a despair of attaining those ends which they declare at
the same time necessary not only to our happiness, but to our
preservation, what do they less than tell us, that we must be content
to look unactive on the calamities that approach us, and prepare to be
crushed by that ruin which we cannot prevent?

From this cold dejection, my lords, arises that despair which so many
lords have expressed, of prevailing upon the Dutch to unite with us.
The determinations of that people are, indeed, always slow, and the
reason of their slowness has been already given; but I am informed,
that the general spirit which now reigns among them, is likely soon to
overrule the particular interests of single provinces, and can produce
letters by which it will appear, that had only one town opposed those
measures to which their concurrence is now solicited, it had been long
since overruled; for there want not among them men equally enamoured
of the magnanimity and firmness of the queen of Hungary, equally
zealous for the general good of mankind, equally zealous for the
liberties of Europe, and equally convinced of the perfidy, the
ambition, and the insolence of France, with any lord in this assembly.

These men, my lords, have long endeavoured to rouse their country from
the sloth of avarice, and the slumber of tranquillity, to a generous
and extensive regard for the universal happiness of mankind; and are
now labouring in the general assembly to communicate that ardour with
which they are themselves inflamed, and to excite that zeal for
publick faith, of which their superiour knowledge shows them the

It has been, indeed, insinuated, that all their consultations tend
only to place garrisons in those towns from which the queen of Hungary
has withdrawn her forces; but this supposition, my lords, as it is
without any support from facts, is, likewise, without probability. For
to garrison the barrier towns requires no previous debates nor
deliberations; since it never was opposed even by those by whom the
assistance of the queen of Hungary has been most retarded. Nor have
even the deputies of Dort, whose obstinacy has been most remarkable,
denied the necessity of securing the confines of their country, by
possessing with their own troops those places which the Austrians are
obliged to forsake. Their present disputes, my lords, must be,
therefore, on some other question; and what question can be now before
them which can produce any difficulties, but that which regards the
support of the Pragmatick sanction?

If these deliberations should be so far influenced by the arrival of
the army in the pay of Britain, as to end in a resolution to send a
sufficient number of forces into Germany, it will not be denied, that
the troops which give occasion for this debate, have really been
useful to the common cause; nor will his majesty lose the affections
of any of his subjects, by the false accounts which have been spread
of an invidious preference given to the troops of Hanover.

That every government ought to endeavour to gain the esteem and
confidence of the people, I suppose we are all equally convinced; but
I, for my part, am very far from thinking that measures ought only to
be pursued or rejected, as they are immediately favoured or disliked
by the populace. For as they cannot know either the causes or the end
of publick transactions, they can judge only from fallacious
appearances, or the information of those whose interest it may perhaps
be to lead them away from the truth. That monarch will be most
certainly and most permanently popular, who steadily pursues the good
of his people, even in opposition to their own prejudices and
clamours; who disregards calumnies, which, though they may prevail for
a day, time will sufficiently confute, and slights objections which he
knows may be answered, and answered beyond reply.

Such, my lords, are the objections which have been hitherto raised
against the troops of Hanover, of which many arise from ignorance, and
many from prejudice; and some may be supposed to be made only for the
sake of giving way to invectives, and indulging a petulant inclination
of speaking contemptuously of Hanover.

With this view, my lords, it has been asked, why the Hanoverians are
preferred to all other nations? why they have been selected from all
other troops, to fight, against France, the cause of Europe? They were
chosen, my lords, because they were most easily to be procured. Of the
other nations from whom forces have usually been hired, some were
engaged in the care of protecting, or the design of extending their
own dominions, and others had no troops levied, nor could, therefore,
furnish them with speed enough for the exigence that demanded them.

It has been asked with an air of triumph, as a question to which no
answer could be given, why an equal number of Britons was not sent,
since their valour might be esteemed at least equal to that of
Hanoverians? I am far, my lords, from intending to diminish the
reputation of the British courage, or detract from that praise which
has been gained by such gallant enterprises, and preserved by a long
succession of dangers, and of victories; nor do I expect that any
nation will ever form a just claim to superiority. The reason,
therefore, my lords, for which the troops of Hanover were hired, was
not that the bravery of our countrymen was doubted, but that the
transportation of such numbers might leave us naked to the insults of
an enemy. For though the noble lord has declared, that after having
sent sixteen thousand into Flanders, we should still have reserved for
our defence a body of seven thousand, equal to that to which the
protection of this kingdom was intrusted in the late war, his opinion
will upon examination be found to have arisen only from the
enumeration of the names of our regiments, many of which are far from
being complete, and some almost merely nominal; so that, perhaps, if a
body of sixteen thousand more had been sent, there would not have
remained a single regiment to have repelled the crew of any daring
privateer that should have landed to burn our villages, and ravage the
defenceless country.

It was desired, my lords, by the queen of Hungary, that a British army
might appear on the continent in her favour, for she knew the
reputation and terrour of our arms; and as her demand was equitable in
itself, and honourable to the nation, it was complied with; and as
many of our native troops were sent, as it was thought convenient to
spare, the rest were necessarily to be hired; and it is the business
of those lords who defend the motion, to show from whence they could
be called more properly than from Hanover.

It has been urged with great warmth, that the contract made for these
troops has not been laid before the senate, a charge which the noble
lord who spoke last but one, has shown to be ill grounded; because the
former determinations of the senate enabled the crown to garrison the
frontier towns without any new deliberations, but which may be,
perhaps, more satisfactorily confuted by showing, that it is an
accusation of neglecting that which was in reality not possible to be
performed, or which at least could not be performed without subjecting
the government to imputations yet more dangerous than those which it
now suffers.

The accounts, my lords, by which the ministry were determined to send
the army into Flanders, arrived only fifteen days before the recess of
the senate; nor was the resolution formed, as it may easily be
imagined, till several days after; so that there was very little time
for senatorial deliberations, nor was it, perhaps, convenient to
publish at that time the whole scheme of our designs.

But let us suppose, my lords, that the senate had, a few days before
they rose, been consulted, and that a vote of credit had been required
to enable the crown to hire forces during the interval of the
sessions, what would those by whom this motion is supported have urged
against it? Would they not with great appearance of reason have
alleged the impropriety of such an application to the thin remains of
a senate, from which almost all those had retired, whom their
employments did not retain in the neighbourhood of the court? Would it
not have been echoed from one corner of these kingdoms to another,
that the ministry had betrayed their country by a contract which they
durst not lay before a full senate, and of which they would trust the
examination only to those whom they had hired to approve it. Would not
this have been generally asserted, and generally believed? Would not
those who distinguished themselves as the opponents of the court, have
urged, that the king ought to exert his prerogative, and trust the
equity of the senate for the approbation of his measures, and the
payment of the troops which he had retained for the support of the
common cause, the cause for which so much zeal had been expressed, and
for which it could not with justice be suspected, that any reasonable
demands would be denied? Would not the solicitation of a grant of
power without limits, to be exerted wholly at the discretion of the
ministry, be censured as a precedent of the utmost danger, which it
was the business of every man to oppose, who had not lost all regard
to the constitution of his country?

These insinuations, my lords, were foreseen and allowed by the
ministry to be specious, and, therefore, they determined to avoid them
by pursuing their schemes at their own hazard, without any other
security than the consciousness of the rectitude of their own designs;
and to trust to the equity of the senate when they should be laid
before them, at a time when part of their effects might be discovered,
and when, therefore, no false representations could be used to mislead
their judgment. They knew the zeal of the commons for the great cause
of universal liberty; they knew that their measures had no other
tendency than the promotion of that cause, and, therefore, they
confidently formed those expectations which have not deceived them,
that the pay of the troops would be readily granted, and ordered them,
therefore, to march; though if the commons had disapproved their plan,
they must have returned into their own country, or have been supported
at the expense of the electorate.

The objections raised against these troops, have apparently had no
influence in the other house, because supplies have been granted for
their pay; and I believe they will, upon examination, be found by your
lordships not to deserve much regard.

It is asserted, that they cannot act against the emperour, established
and acknowledged by the diet, without subjecting their country to an
interdict; and it was, therefore, suspected, that they would in
reality be of no use. This suspicion, my lords, I suppose, it is now
not necessary to censure, since you have heard from his majesty, that
they are preparing to march; and as the consequences of their conduct
can only affect the electorate, its propriety or legality with regard
to the constitution of the empire, falls not properly under our

How his majesty's measures may be defended, even in this view, I
suppose I need not inform any of this assembly. It is well known, that
the emperour was chosen not by the free consent of the diet, in which
every elector voted according to his own sense, but by a diet in which
one vote of the empire was suspended without any regard to law or
justice, and in which the rest were extorted by a French army, which
threatened immediate ruin to him who should refuse his consent. The
emperour thus chosen, was likewise afterwards recognised by the same
powers, upon the same motives, and the aid was granted as the votes
were given by the influence of the armies of France.

For this reason, my lords, the queen of Hungary still refuses to give
the elector of Bavaria the style and honours which belong to the
imperial dignity; she considers the throne as still vacant, and
requires that it should be filled by an uninfluenced election.

It has been observed, my lords, that his majesty gave his vote to the
elector of Bavaria; and it has been, therefore, represented as an
inconsistency in his conduct, that he should make war against him.
But, my lords, it will by no means follow, that because he voted for
him he thinks him lawfully elected, nor that it is unjust to
dispossess him; though it is to be observed, that we are not making
war to dethrone the emperour, however elected, but to support the
Pragmatick sanction.

This observation, though somewhat foreign from the present debate, I
have thought it not improper to lay before your lordships, that no
scruples might remain in the most delicate and scrupulous, and to show
that the measures of his majesty cannot be justly charged with

But this, my lords, is not the only, nor the greatest benefit which
the queen of Hungary has received from these troops; for it is highly
probable, that the states will be induced to concur in the common
cause, when they find that they are not incited to a mock confederacy,
when they perceive that we really intend to act vigorously, that we
decline neither expense nor danger, and that a compliance with our
demands will not expose them to stand alone and unassisted against the
power of France, elated by success, and exasperated by opposition.

If this, my lords, should be the consequence of our measures, and this
consequence is, perhaps, not far distant, it will no longer be, I
hope, asserted, that these mercenaries are an useless burden to the
nation, that they are of no advantage to the common cause, or that the
people have been betrayed by the ministry into expenses, merely that
Hanover might be enriched. When the grand _confederacy_ is once
revived, and revived by any universal conviction of the destructive
measures, the insatiable ambition, and the outrageous cruelty of the
French, what may not the friends of liberty presume to expect? May
they not hope, my lords, that those haughty troops which have been so
long employed in conquests and invasions, that have laid waste the
neighbouring countries with slaughters and devastations, will be soon
compelled to retire to their own frontiers, and be content to guard
the verge of their native provinces? May we not hope, that they will
soon be driven from their posts; that they will be forced to retreat
to a more defensible station, and admit the armies of their enemies
into their dominions; and that they will be pursued from fortress to
fortress, and from one intrenchment to another, till they shall be
reduced to petition for peace, and purchase it by the alienation of
part of their territories.

I hope, my lords, it may be yet safely asserted that the French,
however powerful, are not invincible; that their armies may be
destroyed, and their treasures exhausted; that they may, therefore, be
reduced to narrow limits, and disabled from being any longer the
disturbers of the peace of the universe.

It is well known, my lords, that their wealth is not the product of
their own country; that gold is not dug out of their mountains, or
rolled down their rivers; but that it is gained by an extensive and
successful commerce, carried on in many parts of the world, to the
diminution of our own. It is known, likewise, that trade cannot be
continued in war, without the protection of naval armaments; and that
our fleet is at present superiour in strength to those of the greatest
part of the universe united. It is, therefore, reasonably to be hoped,
that though by assisting the house of Austria we should provoke the
French to declare war against us, their hostilities would produce none
of those calamities which seem to be dreaded by part of this assembly;
and that such a confederacy might be formed as would be able to retort
all the machinations of France upon herself, as would tear her
provinces from her, and annex them to other sovereignties.

It has been urged, that no such success can be expected from the
conduct which we have lately pursued; that we, who are thus daring the
resentment of the most formidable power in the universe, have long
suffered ourselves to be insulted by an enemy of far inferiour force;
that we have been defeated in all our enterprises, and have at present
appeared to desist from any design of hostilities; that the Spaniards
scarcely perceive that they have an enemy, or feel, any of the
calamities or inconveniencies of war; and that they are every day
enriched with the plunder of Britain, without danger, and without

That the war against Spain has not hitherto been remarkably
successful, must be confessed; and though the Spaniards cannot boast
of any other advantages than the defence of their own dominions, yet
they may, perhaps, be somewhat elated, as they have been able to hold
out against an enemy superiour to themselves. But, my lords, I am far
from believing, that they consider the war against us as an advantage,
or that they do not lament it as one of the heaviest calamities that
could fall upon them. If it be asked, in what part of their dominions
they feel any effects of our hostility, I shall answer with great
confidence, that they feel them in every part which is exposed to the
evils of a naval war; that they are in pain wherever they are
sensible; that they are wounded wherever they are not sheltered from
our blows, by the interposition of the nations of the continent.

If we examine, my lords, the influence of our European armaments, we
shall find that their ships of war are shut up in the harbour of
France, and that the fleets of both nations are happily blocked up
together, so that they can neither extricate each other by concerted
motions, in which our attention might be distracted, and our force
divided, nor by their united force break through the bars by which
they are shut up from the use of the ocean.

But this, my lords, however important with respect to us, is perhaps
the smallest inconvenience which the Spaniards feel from our naval
superiority. They have an army, my lords, in Italy, exposed to all the
miseries of famine, while our fleet prohibits the transportation of
those provisions which have been stored in vessels for their supply,
and which must be probably soon made defenceless by the want of
ammunition, and fall into the hands of their enemies without the
honour of a battle.

But what to the pride of a Spaniard must be yet a more severe
affliction, they have on the same continent a natural confederate, who
is yet so intimidated by the British fleets, that he dares neither
afford them refuge in his dominions, nor send his troops to their
assistance. The queen, amidst all the schemes which her unbounded
ambition forms for the exaltation of her family, finds her own son,
after having received a kingdom from her kindness, restrained from
supporting her, and reduced to preserve those territories which she
has bestowed upon him, by abandoning her from whom he received them.

These, my lords, are the inconveniencies which the Spaniards feel from
our fleets in the Mediterranean; and even these, however embarrassing,
however depressing, are lighter than those which our American navy
produces. It is apparent, that money is equivalent to strength, a
proposition of which, if it could be doubted, the Spanish monarchy
would afford sufficient proof, as it has been for a long time
supported only by the power of riches. It is, therefore, impossible to
weaken Spain more speedily or more certainly, than by intercepting or
obstructing the annual supplies of gold and silver which she receives
from her American provinces, by which she was once enabled to threaten
slavery to all the neighbouring nations, and incited to begin, with
the subjection of this island, her mighty scheme of universal
monarchy, and by which she has still continued to exalt herself to an
equality with the most powerful nations, to erect new kingdoms, and
set at defiance the Austrian power.

These supplies, my lords, are now, if not wholly, yet in a great
measure, withheld; and by all the efforts which the Spaniards now
make, they are exhausting their vitals, and wasting the natural
strength of their native country. While they made war with
adventitious treasures, and only squandered one year what another
would repay them, it was not easy to foresee how long their pride
would incline them to hold out against superiour strength. While they
were only engaged in a naval war, they might have persisted for a long
time in a kind of passive obstinacy; and while they were engaged in no
foreign enterprises, might have supported that trade with each other
which is necessary for the support of life, upon the credit of those
treasures which are annually heaped up in their storehouses, though
they are not received; and by which, upon the termination of the war,
all their debts might at once be paid, and all their funds be

But at present, my lords, their condition is far different; they have
been tempted by the prospect of enlarging their dominions to raise
armies for distant expeditions, which must be supported in a foreign
country, and can be supported only by regular remittances of treasure,
and have formed these projects at a time when the means of pursuing
them are cut off. They have by one war increased their expenses, when
their receipts are obstructed by another.

In this state, my lords, I am certain the Spaniards are very far from
thinking the hostility of Britain merely nominal, and from inquiring
in what part of the world their enemies are to be found. The troops in
Italy see them sailing in triumph over the Mediterranean, intercepting
their provisions, and prohibiting those succours which they expected
from their confederate of Sicily. In Spain their taxes and their
poverty, poverty which every day increases, inform them that the seas
of America are possessed by the fleets of Britain, by whom their mines
are made useless, and their wealthy dominions reduced to an empty
sound. They may, indeed, comfort themselves in their distresses with
the advantages which their troops have gained over the king of
Sardinia, and with the entrance which they have forced into his
dominions; but this can afford them no long satisfaction, since they
will, probably, never be able to break through the passes at which
they have arrived, or to force their way into Italy; and must perish
at the feet of inaccessible rocks, where they are now supported at
such an expense that they are more burdensome to their own master than
to the king of Sardinia.

Of this prince, I know not why, it has been asserted that he will
probably violate his engagements to Britain and Austria; that he will
purchase peace by perfidy, and grant a passage to the army of Spain.
His conduct has certainly given, hitherto, no reason for such an
imputation; he has opposed them with fortitude, and vigour, and
address; nor has he failed in any of the duties required of a general
or an ally; he has exposed his person to the most urgent dangers, and
his dominions to the ravages of war; he has rejected all the
solicitations of France, and set her menaces at defiance; and surely,
my lords, if no private man ought to be censured without just reason,
even in familiar discourse, we ought still to be more cautious of
injuring the reputation of princes by publick reproaches in the solemn
debates of national assemblies.

The same licentiousness of speech has not, indeed, been extended to
all the princes mentioned in this debate. The emperour has been
treated with remarkable decency as the lawful sovereign of Germany, as
one who cannot be opposed without rebellion, and against whom we,
therefore, cannot expect that the troops of Hanover should presume to
act, since they must expose their country to the severities of the
imperial interdict.

The noble lords who have thus ardently asserted the rights of the
emperour, who have represented in such strong language the crime of
violating the German constitutions, and have commended the neutrality
of the king of Prussia, as proper to be imitated by all the rest of
the princes 'of the empire, have forgotten, or hoped that others Would
forget, the injustice and violence by which he exalted himself to the
throne, from which they appear to think it a sacrilegious attempt to
endeavour to thrust him down. They forget that one of the votes was
illegally suspended, and that the rest were extorted by the terrour of
an army. They forget that he invited the French into the empire, and
that he is guilty of all the ravages which have been committed and all
the blood that has been shed, since the death of the emperour, in the
defence of the Pragmatick sanction which he invaded, though ratified
by the solemn consent of the imperial diet.

In defence of the Pragmatick sanction, my lords, which all the princes
of the empire, except his majesty, saw violated without concern, are
we now required to exert our force; we are required only to perform
what we promised by the most solemn treaties, which, though they have
been broken by the cowardice or ambition of other powers, it will be
our greatest honour to observe with exemplary fidelity.

With this view, as your lordships have already been informed, the
Hanoverian troops will march into the empire; nor has their march been
hitherto delayed, either because there was yet no regular scheme
projected, or because they were obliged to wait for the permission of
the king of Prussia, or because they intended only to amuse Europe
with an empty show: they were detained, my lords, in Flanders, because
it was believed that they were more useful there than they would be in
any other place, because they at once encouraged the states, alarmed
the French, defended the Low Countries, and kept the communication
open between the queen's dominions and those of her allies. Nor were
these advantages, my lords, chimerical, and such as are only suggested
by a warm imagination; for it is evident that by keeping their station
in those countries they have changed the state of the war, that they
have protected the queen of Hungary from being oppressed by a new army
of French, and given her an opportunity of establishing herself in the
possession of Bavaria; that the French forces, instead of being sent
either to the assistance of the king of Spain against the king of
Sardinia, or of the emperour, for the recovery of those dominions
which he has lost by an implicit confidence in their alliance, have
been necessarily drawn down to the opposite extremity of their
dominions, where they are of no use either to their own country, or to
their confederates. The united troops of Britain and Hanover,
therefore, carried on the war, by living at ease in their quarters in
Flanders, more efficaciously than if they had marched immediately into
Bavaria or Bohemia.

Thus, my lords, I have endeavoured to show the justice of our designs,
and the usefulness of the measures by which we have endeavoured to
execute them; and doubt not but your lordships will, upon considering
the arguments which have been urged on either side, and those which
your own reflections will suggest, allow that it was not only just but
necessary to take into our pay the troops of Hanover, for the support
of the Pragmatick sanction, and the preservation of the house of
Austria; and that since the same reasons which induced the government
to hire them, still make it necessary to retain them, you will prefer
the general happiness of Europe, the observation of publick faith, and
the security of our own liberties and those of our posterity, to a
small alleviation of our present expenses, and unanimously reject a
motion, which has no other tendency than to resign the world into the
hands of the French, and purchase a short and dependant tranquillity
by the loss of all those blessings which make life desirable.

Lord LONSDALE spoke next to the following effect:--My lords,
notwithstanding the confidence with which the late measures of the
government have been defended by their authors, I am not yet set free
from the scruples which my own observations had raised, and which have
been strengthened by the assertions of those noble lords, who have
spoken in vindication of the motion.

Many of the objections which have been raised and enforced with all
the power of argument, have yet remained unanswered, or those answers
which have been offered are such as leave the argument in its full
strength. Many of the assertions which have been produced seem the
effects of hope rather than conviction, and we are rather told what we
are to hope from future measures, than what advantages we have
received from the past.

I am, indeed, one of those whom it will be difficult to convince of
the propriety of engaging in a new war, when we are unsuccessful in
that which we have already undertaken, and of provoking a more
powerful enemy, when all our attempts are baffled by a weaker; and
cannot yet set myself free from the apprehension of new defeats and
new disgraces from the arms of France, after having long seen how
little we are able to punish the insolence of Spain. I cannot but fear
that by an ill-timed and useless opposition to schemes which, however
destructive or unjust, we cannot obviate, we shall subject ourselves
to numberless calamities, that the ocean will be covered with new
fleets of privateers, that our commerce will be interrupted in every
part of the world, and that we shall only provoke France to seize what
she would at least have spared some time longer.

But, my lords, if it be granted, that the Pragmatick sanction is
obligatory to us, though it is violated by every other power; that we
should labour to reduce the powers of Europe to an equipoise, whenever
accident or folly produces any alteration of the balance; and that we
are now not to preserve the house of Austria from falling, but raise
it from the dust, and restore it to its ancient splendour, even at the
hazard of a war with that power which now gives laws to all the
western nations; yet it will not surely be asserted, that we ought to
be without limits, that we ought to preserve the house of Austria, not
only by the danger of our own country, but by its certain ruin, and
endeavour to avert the possibility of slavery, by subjecting ourselves
to miseries more severe than the utmost arrogance of conquest, or the
most cruel wantonness of tyranny, would inflict upon us.

I have observed, that many lords have expressed in this debate an
uncommon ardour for the support of the queen of Hungary; nor is it
without pleasure, that I see the most laudable of all motives, justice
and compassion, operate in this great assembly with so much force. May
your lordships always continue to stand the great advocates for
publick faith, and the patrons of true greatness in distress; may
magnanimity always gain your regard, and calamity find shelter under
your protection.

I, likewise, my lords, desire to be remembered among those who
reverence the virtues and pity the miseries of this illustrious
princess, who look with detestation on those who have invaded the
dominions which they had obliged themselves by solemn treaties to
defend, and who have taken advantage of the general confederacy
against her, to enrich themselves with her spoils, who have insulted
her distress and aggravated her misfortunes.

But, my lords, while I feel all these sentiments of compassion for the
queen of Hungary, I have not yet been able to forget, that my own
country claims a nearer regard; that I am obliged both by interest and
duty to preserve myself and my posterity, and my fellow-subjects, from
those miseries which I lament; when they happen to others, however
distant, I cannot but remember, that I am not to save another from
destruction by destroying myself, nor to rescue Austria by the ruin of

Though I am, therefore, my lords, not unwilling to assist the queen of
Hungary, I think it necessary to fix the limits of our regard, to
inquire how far we may proceed with safety, and what expenses the
nation can bear, and how those expenses may be best employed. The
danger of the queen of Hungary ought not to have an effect which would
be reproachful, even if the danger was our own. It ought not so far to
engross our faculties as to hinder us from attending to every other
object. The man who runs into a greater evil to avoid a less,
evidently shows that he is defective either in prudence or in courage;
that either he wants the natural power of distinguishing, or that his
dread of an approaching, or his impatience of a present evil, has
taken it away.

Let us, therefore, examine, my lords, the measures with which those
who are intrusted with the administration of publick affairs, would
persuade us to concur, and inquire whether they are such as can be
approved by us without danger to our country. Let us consider, my
lords, yet more nearly, whether they are not such as we ourselves
could not be prevailed upon even to regard as the object of
deliberation, were we not dazzled on one part by glaring prospects of
triumphs and honours, of the reduction of France, and the rescue of
the world; of the propagation of liberty, and the defence of religion;
and intimidated on the other by the view of approaching calamities,
the cruelties of persecution, and the hardships of slavery.

All the arts of exaggeration, my lords, have been practised to
reconcile us to the measures which are now proposed, and, indeed, all
are necessary; for the expenses to which we are about to condemn this
nation, are such as it is not able to bear, and to which no lord in
this house would consent, were he calm enough to number the sums.

To prove the truth of this assertion, one question is necessary. Is
any lord in this assembly willing to assist the queen of Hungary at
the expense of sixteen hundred thousand a year? I think the universal
silence of this assembly is a sufficient proof, that no one is
willing; I will, however, repeat my question. Is any lord in this
assembly willing that this nation should assist the queen of Hungary
at the annual expense of sixteen hundred thousand pounds? The house
is, as I expected, still silent, and, therefore, I may now safely
proceed upon the supposition of an unanimous negative. Nor does any
thing remain in order to evince the impropriety of the measures which
we are about to pursue, but that every lord may reckon up the sum
required for the support of those troops. Let him take a view of our
military estimates, and he will quickly be convinced, how much we are
condemned to suffer in this cause. He will find, that we are about not
only to remit yearly into a foreign country more than a million and a
half of money, but to hazard the lives of multitudes of our
fellow-subjects, in a quarrel which at most affects us but remotely;
that we are about to incur as auxiliaries an expense greater than that
which the principals sustain.

The sum which I have mentioned, my lords, enormous as it may appear,
is by no means exaggerated beyond the truth. Whoever shall examine the
common military estimates, will easily be convinced, that the forces
which we now maintain upon the continent cannot be supported at less
expense; and that we are, therefore, about to exhaust our country in a
distant quarrel, and to lavish our blood and treasure with useless

This profusion, my lords, is useless, at least useless to any other
end, than an ostentatious display of our forces, and our riches; not
because the balance of power is irrecoverably destroyed, not because
it is contrary to the natural interest of an island to engage in wars
on the continent, nor because we shall lose more by the diminution of
our commerce, than we shall gain by an annual victory. It is useless,
not because the power of France has by long negligence been suffered
to swell beyond all opposition, nor because the queen of Hungary ought
not to be assisted at the hazard of this kingdom, though all these
reasons are of importance enough to claim our consideration. It is
useless, my lords, because the queen of Hungary may be assisted more
powerfully, at less charge; because a third part of this sum will
enable her to raise, and to maintain, a greater body of men than have
now been sent her.

Nor will the troops which she may be thus enabled to raise, my lords,
be only more numerous, but more likely to prosecute the war with
ardour; and to conclude it, therefore, with success. They will fight
for the preservation of their own country, they will draw their swords
to defend their houses and their estates, their wives and their
children from the rage of tyrants and invaders; they will enter the
field as men who cannot leave it to their enemies, without resigning
all that makes life valuable; and who will, therefore, more willingly
die than turn their backs.

It may reasonably be imagined, my lords, that the queen will place
more confidence in such forces, than in troops which are to fight only
for honour or for pay; and that she will expect from the affection of
her own subjects, a degree of zeal and constancy which she cannot hope
to excite in foreigners; and that she will think herself more secure
in the protection of those whose fidelity she may secure by the
solemnity of an oath, than those who have no particular regard for her
person, nor any obligations to support her government.

It is no inconsiderable motive to this method of assisting our ally,
that we shall entirely take away from France all pretences of
hostilities or resentment, since we shall not attack her troops or
invade her frontiers, but only furnish the queen of Hungary with
money, without directing her how to apply it. I am far, my lords, from
being so much intimidated by the late increase of the French
greatness, as to imagine, that no limits can be set to their ambition.
I am far from despairing, that the queen of Hungary alone, supported
by us with pecuniary assistance, may be able to reduce them to
solicitations for peace by driving them out of her dominions, and
pursuing them into their own. But as the chance of war is always
uncertain, it is surely most prudent to choose such a conduct as may
exempt us from danger in all events; and since we are not certain of
conquering the French, it is, in my opinion, most eligible not to
provoke them, because we cannot be conquered without ruin.

This method is yet eligible on another account; by proceeding with
frugality, we shall gain time to observe the progress of the war, and
watch the appearance of any favourable opportunity, without exhausting
ourselves so far as to be made unable to improve them.

The time, my lords, at which we shall be thus exhausted, at which we
shall be reduced to an absolute inability to raise an army or equip a
fleet, is not at a great distance. If our late profusion be for a
short time continued, we shall quickly have drained the last remains
of the wealth of our country. We have long gone on from year to year,
raising taxes and contracting debts; and unless the riches of Britain
are absolutely unlimited, must in a short time reduce them to nothing.
Our expenses are not all, indeed, equally destructive; some, though
the method of raising them be vexatious and oppressive, do not much
impoverish the nation, because they are refunded by the extravagance
and luxury of those who are retained in the pay of the court; but
foreign wars threaten immediate destruction, since the money that is
spent in distant countries can never fall back into its former
channels, but is dissipated on the continent, and irrecoverably lost.

When this consideration is present to my mind, and, on this occasion,
no man who has any regard for himself or his posterity can omit it, I
cannot but think with horrour on a vote by which such prodigious sums
are wafted into another region: I cannot but tremble at the sound of a
tax for the support of a foreign war, and think a French army landed
on our coasts not much more to be dreaded than the annual payment to
which we appear now to be condemned, and from which nothing can
preserve us but the address which is now proposed.

By what arguments the commons were persuaded, or by what motives
incited to vote a supply for the support of this mercenary force, I
have not yet heard; nor, as a member of this house, my lords, was it
necessary for me to inquire. Their authority, though mentioned with so
much solemnity on this occasion, is to have no influence on our
determinations. If they are mistaken, it is more necessary for us to
inquire with uncommon caution. If they are corrupt, it is more
necessary for us to preserve our integrity. If we are to comply
blindly with their decisions, our knowledge and experience are of no
benefit to our country, we only waste time in useless solemnities, and
may be once more declared useless to the publick.

The commons, my lords, do not imagine themselves, nor are imagined by
the nation, to constitute the legislature. The people, when any
uncommon heat prevails in the other house, disturbs their debates, and
overrules their determinations, have been long accustomed to expect
redress and security from our calmer counsels; and have considered
this house as the place where reason and justice may be heard, when,
by clamour and uproar, they are driven from the other. On this
occasion, my lords, every Briton fixes his eye upon us, and every man
who has sagacity enough to discover the dismal approach of publick
poverty, now supplicates your lordships, by agreeing to this address,
to preserve him from it.

Then the SPEAKER spoke to the following purport:--My lords, having
very attentively observed the whole progress of this important debate,
and considered with the utmost impartiality the arguments which have
been made use of on each side, I cannot think the question before us
doubtful or difficult; and hope that I may promote a speedy decision
of it by recapitulating what has been already urged, that the debate
may be considered at one view, and by adding some observations which
have arisen to my own thoughts on this occasion.

At the first view of the question before us, in its present state, no
man can find any reasons for prejudice in favour of the address
proposed. This house is, indeed, yet divided, and many lords have
spoken on each side with great force and with great address; but the
authority of the other house, added to the numbers which have already
declared in this for the support of the foreign troops, is sufficient
to turn the balance, in the opinion of any man who contents himself to
judge by the first appearance of things; and must incline him to
imagine that position at least more probable, which is ratified by the
determination of one house, and yet undecided by the other.

I know, my lords, what may be objected to these observations on the
other house, and readily agree with the noble lord, that our
determinations ought not to be influenced by theirs. But on this
occasion, I introduce their decision not as the decrees of
legislators, but as the result of the consideration of wise men; and
in this sense it may be no less reasonable to quote the determination
of the commons, than to introduce the opinion of any private man whose
knowledge or experience give his opinion a claim to our regard.

Nor do I mention the weight of authority on one side as sufficient to
influence the private determination of any in this great assembly. It
is the privilege and the duty of every man, who possesses a seat in
the highest council of his country, to make use of his own eyes and
his own understanding, to reject those arguments of which he cannot
find the force, whatever effect they may have upon others, and to
discharge the great trust conferred upon him by consulting no
conscience but his own.

Yet, though we are by no means to suffer the determinations of other
men to repress our inquiries, we may certainly make use of them to
assist them; we may very properly, therefore, inquire the reasons that
induced the other house to approve those bills which are brought
before them, since it is not likely that their consent was obtained
without arguments, at least probable, though they are not to be by us
considered as conclusive upon their authority. The chief advantage
which the publick receives from a legislature formed of several
distinct powers, is, that all laws must pass through many
deliberations of assemblies independent on each other, of which, if
the one be agitated by faction or distracted by divisions, it may be
hoped that the other will be calm and united, and of which it can
hardly be feared that they can at any time concur in measures
apparently destructive to the commonwealth.

But these inquiries, my lords, however proper or necessary, are to be
made by us not in solemn assemblies but in our private characters; and
therefore I shall not now lay before your lordships what I have heard
from those whom I have consulted for the sake of obtaining information
on this important question, or shall at least not offer it as the
opinion of the commons, or pretend to add to it any influence
different from that of reason and truth.

The arguments which have been offered in this debate for the motion,
are, indeed, such as do not make any uncommon expedients necessary;
they will not drive the advocates for the late measures to seek a
refuge in authority instead of reason. They require, in my opinion,
only to be considered with a calm attention, and their force will
immediately be at an end.

The most plausible objection, my lords, is, that the measures to which
your approbation is now desired, were concerted and executed without
the concurrence of the senate; and it is, therefore, urged, that they
cannot now deserve our approbation, because it was not asked at the
proper time.

In order to answer this objection, my lords, it is necessary to
consider it more distinctly than those who made it appear to have
done, that we may not suffer ourselves to confound questions real and
personal, to mistake one object for another, or to be confounded by
different views.

That the consent of the senate was not asked, my lords, supposing it a
neglect, and a neglect of a criminal kind, of a tendency to weaken our
authority, and shake the foundations of our constitution, which is the
utmost that the most ardent imagination, or the most hyperbolical
rhetorick can utter or suggest, may be, indeed, a just reason for
invective against the ministers, but is of no force if urged against
the measures. To take auxiliaries into our pay may be right, though it
might be wrong to hire them without applying to the senate; as it is
proper to throw water upon a fire, though it was conveyed to the place
without the leave of those from whose well it was drawn, or over whose
ground it was carried.

If the liberties of Europe be really in danger, if our treaties oblige
us to assist the queen of Hungary against the invaders of her
dominions, if the ambition of France requires to be repressed, and the
powers of Germany to be animated against her by the certain prospect
of a vigorous support, I cannot discover the propriety of this motion,
even supposing that we have not found from the ministers all the
respect that we have a right to demand. As a lawful authority may do
wrong, so right may be sometimes done by an unlawful power; and
surely, though usurpation ought to be punished, the benefits which
have been procured by it, are not to be thrown away. We may retain the
troops that have been hired, if they are useful, though we should
censure the ministry for taking them into pay.

But the motion to which our concurrence is now required, is a motion
by which we are to punish ourselves for the crime of the ministers, by
which we are about to leave ourselves defenceless, because we have
been armed without our consent, and to resign up all our rights and
privileges to France, because we suspect that they have not been
sufficiently regarded on this occasion by our ministers.

Those noble lords who have dwelt with the greatest ardour on this
omission, have made no proposition for censuring those whom they
condemn as the authors of it, though this objection must terminate in
an inquiry into their conduct, and has no real relation to the true
question now before us, which is, whether the auxiliaries be of any
use? If they are useless, they ought to be discharged without any
other reason; if they are necessary, they ought to be retained,
whatever censure may fall upon the ministry.

I am, indeed, far from thinking, that when your lordships have
sufficiently examined the affair, you will think your privileges
invaded, or the publick trepanned by artifice into expensive measures;
since it will appear that the ministry in reality preferred the most
honest to the safest methods of proceeding, and chose rather to hazard
themselves, than to practice or appear to practice any fraud upon
their country.

When it was resolved in council to take the troops of Hanover into the
pay of Britain, a resolution which, as your lordships have already
been informed, was made only a few days before the senate rose, it was
natural to consider, whether the consent of the senate should not be
demanded; but when it appeared upon reflection, that to bring an
affair of so great importance before the last remnant of a house of
commons, after far the greater part had retired to the care of their
own affairs, would be suspected as fraudulent, and might give the
nation reason to fear, that such measures were intended as the
ministers were afraid of laying before a full senate. It was thought
more proper to defer the application to the next session, and to
venture upon the measures that were formed, upon a full conviction of
their necessity.

This conduct, my lords, was exactly conformable to the demands of
those by whom the court has hitherto been opposed, and who have
signalized themselves as the most watchful guardians of liberty. Among
these men, votes of credit have never been mentioned but with
detestation, as acts of implicit confidence, by which the riches of
the nation are thrown down at the feet of the ministry to be
squandered at pleasure. When it has been urged, that emergencies may
arise, during the recess of the senate, which may produce a necessity
of expenses, and that, therefore, some credit ought to be given which
may enable the crown to provide against accidents, it has been
answered, that the expenses which are incurred during the recess of
the senate, will be either necessary or not; that if they are
necessary, the ministry have no reason to distrust the approbation of
the senate, but if they are useless, they ought not to expect it. And
that, instead of desiring to be exempted from any subsequent censures,
and to be secured in exactions or prodigality by a previous vote, they
ought willingly to administer the publick affairs at their own hazard,
and await the judgment of the senate, when the time shall come, in
which their proceedings are laid before it.

Such have hitherto been the sentiments of the most zealous advocates
for the rights of the people; nor did I expect from any man who
desired to appear under that character, that he would censure the
ministry for having thrown themselves upon the judgment of the senate,
and neglected to secure themselves by any previous applications, for
having trusted in their own integrity, and exposed their conduct to an
open examination without subterfuges and without precautions. I did
not imagine, my lords, that a senate, upon whose decision all the
measures which have been taken, so apparently depend, would have been
styled a senate convened only to register the determinations of the
ministry; or that any of your lordships would think his privileges
diminished, because money was not demanded before the use of it was
fully known. If we lay aside, my lords, all inquiries into precedents,
and, without regard to any political considerations, examine this
affair only by the light of reason, it will surely appear that the
ministry could not, by any other method of proceeding, have shown
equal regard to the senate, or equal confidence in their justice and
their wisdom. Had they desired a vote of credit, it might have been
justly objected that they required to be trusted with the publick
money, without declaring, or being able to declare, how it was to be
employed; that either they questioned the wisdom or honesty of the
senate; and, therefore, durst undertake nothing till they were secure
of the supplies necessary for the execution of it. Had they informed
both houses of their whole scheme, they might have been still charged,
and charged with great appearance of justice, with having preferred
their own safety to that of the publick, and having rather discovered
their designs to the enemy, than trusted to the judgment of the
senate; nor could any excuse have been made for a conduct so contrary
to all the rules of war, but such as must have dis-honoured either the
ministers or the senate, such as must have implied either that the
measures intended were unworthy of approbation, or that they were by
no means certain, that even the best conduct would not be censured.

These objections they foresaw, and allowed to be valid; and,
therefore, generously determined to pursue the end which every man was
supposed to approve, by the best means which they could discover, and
to refer their conduct to a full senate, in which they did not doubt
but their integrity, and, perhaps, their success, would find them
vindicators. Instead of applying, therefore, to the remains of the
commons, a few days before the general recess; instead of assembling
their friends by private intimations, at a time when most of those
from whom they might have dreaded opposition, had retired, they
determined to attempt, at their own hazard, whatever they judged
necessary for the promotion of the common cause, and to refer their
measures to the senate, when it should be again assembled.

The manner in which one of the noble lords, who have spoken in support
of the address, has thought it necessary that they should have applied
to us, is, indeed, somewhat extraordinary, such as is certainly
without precedent, and such as is not very consistent with the
constituent rights of the different powers of the legislature. His
lordship has been pleased to remark, that the crown has entered into a
treaty, and to ask why that treaty was not previously laid before the
senate for its approbation.

I know not, my lords, with what propriety this contract for the troops
of Hanover can be termed a treaty. It is well known that no power in
this kingdom can enter into a treaty with a foreign state, except the
king; and it is equally certain, that, with regard to Hanover, the
same right is limited to the elector. This treaty, therefore, my
lords, is a treaty of the same person with himself, a treaty of which
the two counterparts are to receive their ratification from being
signed with the same hand. This, surely, is a treaty of a new kind,
such as no national assembly has yet considered. Had any other power
of Britain than its king, or in Hanover any other than the elector,
the right of entering into publick engagements, a treaty might have
been made; but as the constitution of both nations is formed, the
treaty is merely chimerical and absolutely impossible.

Had such a treaty, as is thus vainly imagined, been really made, it
would yet be as inconsistent with the fundamental establishment of the
empire, to require that before it was ratified it should have been
laid before the senate. To make treaties, as to make war, is the
acknowledged and established prerogative of the crown. When war is
declared, the senate is, indeed, to consider whether it ought to be
carried on at the expense of the nation; and if treaties require any
supplies to put them in execution, they likewise fall properly, at
that time, under senatorial cognizance: but to require that treaties
shall not be transacted without our previous concurrence, is almost to
annihilate the power of the crown, and to expose all our designs to
the opposition of our enemies, before they can be completed.

If, therefore, the troops of Hanover can be of use for the performance
of our stipulations, if they can contribute to the support of the
house of Austria, the ministry cannot, in my opinion, be censured for
having taken them into British pay; nor can we refuse our concurrence
with the commons in providing for their support, unless it shall
appear that the design for which all our preparations have been made
is such as cannot be executed, or such as ought not to be pursued.

Several arguments have been offered to prove both these positions; one
noble lord has asserted, that it is by no means for the advantage
either of ourselves or any other nation, to restore the house of
Austria to its ancient elevation; another, that it is, by the imperial
constitutions, unlawful for any of the princes of Germany to make war
upon the emperour solemnly acknowledged by the diet. They have
endeavoured to intimidate us, by turning our view to the difficulties
by which our attempts are obstructed; difficulties which they affect
to represent as insuperable, at least to this nation in its present
state. With this design, my lords, has the greatness of the French
power been exaggerated, the faith of the king of Sardinia questioned,
and the king of Prussia represented as determined to support the
pretensions of the emperour; with this view has our natural strength
been depreciated, and all our measures and hopes have been ridiculed,
with wantonness, not very consistent with the character of a British

Most of these arguments, my lords, have been already answered, and
answered in such a manner as has, I believe, not failed of convincing
every lord of their insufficiency, unless, perhaps, those are to be
excepted ty whom they were offered. It has with great propriety been
observed, that the inconsistency imputed to his majesty in opposing
the emperour for whom he voted, is merely imaginary; since it is not a
necessary consequence, that he for whom he voted is, therefore,
lawfully elected; and because his majesty does not engage in this war
for the sake of dethroning the emperour, but of supporting the
Pragmatick sanction; nor does he oppose him as the head of the German
body, but as the invader of the dominions of Austria.

With regard to the propriety of maintaining the Austrian family in its
present possessions, and of raising it, if our arms should be
prosperous, to its ancient greatness, it has been shown, that no other
power is able to defend Europe either against the Turks on one part,
or the French on the other; two powers equally professing the
destructive intention of extending their dominions without limits, and
of trampling upon the privileges and liberties of all the rest of

It has been shown, that the general scheme of policy uniformly pursued
by our ancestors in every period of time, since the increase of the
French greatness, has been to preserve an equipoise of power, by which
all the smaller states are preserved in security. It is apparent, that
by this scheme alone can the happiness of mankind be preserved, and
that no other family but that of Austria is able to balance the house
of Bourbon.

This equipoise of power has by some lords been imagined an airy
scheme, a pleasing speculation which, however it may amuse the
imagination, can never be reduced to practice. It has been asserted,
that the state of nations is always variable, that dominion is every
day transferred by ambition or by casualties, that inheritances fall
by want of heirs into other hands, and that kingdoms are by one
accident divided at one time, and at other times consolidated by a
different event; that to be the guardians of all those whose credulity
or folly may betray them to concur with the ambition of an artful
neighbour, and to promote the oppression of themselves, is an endless
task; and that to obviate all the accidents by which provinces may
change their masters, is an undertaking to which no human foresight is
equal; that we have not a right to hinder the course of succession for
our own interest, nor to obstruct those contracts which independent
princes are persuaded to make, however contrary to their own interest,
or to the general advantage of mankind. And it has been concluded by
those reasoners, that we should show the highest degree of wisdom, and
the truest, though not the most refined policy, by attending steadily
to our own interest, by improving the dissensions of our neighbours to
our own advantage, by extending our commerce, and increasing our
riches, without any regard to the happiness or misery, freedom or
slavery of the rest of mankind.

I believe I need not very laboriously collect arguments to prove to
your lordships that this scheme of selfish negligence, of supine
tranquillity, is equally imprudent and ungenerous; since, if we
examine the history of the last century, we shall easily discover,
that if this nation had not interposed, the French had now been
masters of more than half Europe; and it cannot be imagined that they
would have suffered us to set them at defiance in the midst of their
greatness, that they would have spared us out of tenderness, or
forborne to attack us out of fear. What the Spaniards attempted,
though unsuccessfully, from a more distant part of the world, in the
pride of their American affluence, would certainly have been once more
endeavoured by France, with far greater advantages, and as it may be
imagined, with a different event.

That it would have been endeavoured, cannot be doubted, because the
endeavour would not have been hazardous; by once defeating our fleet,
they might land their forces, which might be wafted over in a very
short time, and by a single victory they might conquer all the island,
or that part of it, at least, which is most worth the labour of
conquest; and though they should be unsuccessful, they could suffer
nothing but the mortification of their pride, and would be in a short
time enabled to make a new attempt.

Thus, my lords, if we could preserve our liberty in the general
subjection of the western part of the world, we should do it only by
turning our island into a garrison, by laying aside all other
employment than the study of war, and by making it our only care to
watch our coasts: a state which surely ought to be avoided at almost
any expense and at any hazard.

To think that we could extend our trade or increase our riches in this
state of the continent, is to forget the effects of universal empire.
The French, my lords, would then be in possession of all the trade of
those provinces which they had conquered, they would be masters of all
their ports and of all their shipping; and your lordships may easily
conceive with what security we should venture upon the ocean, in a
state of war, when all the harbours of the continent afforded shelter
to our enemies. If the French privateers from a few obscure creeks,
unsupported by a fleet of war, or at least not supported by a navy
equal to our own, could make such devastations in our trade as enabled
their country to hold out against the confederacy of almost all the
neighbouring powers; what, my lords, might not be dreaded by us, when
every ship upon the ocean should be an enemy; when we should be at
once overborne by the wealth and the numbers of our adversaries; when
the trade of the world should be in their hands, and their navies no
less numerous than their troops.

I have made this digression, my lords, I hope not wholly without
necessity, to show that the advantages of preserving the equipoise of
Europe are not, as they have been sometimes conceived, empty sounds,
or idle notions; but that by the balance of one nation against
another, both the safety of other countries and of our own is
preserved; and that, therefore, it requires all our vigilance and all
our resolution to establish and maintain it.

That there may come a time in which this scheme will be no longer
practicable, when a coalition of dominions may be inevitable, and when
one power will be necessarily exalted above the rest, is, indeed, not
absolutely impossible, and, therefore, not to be peremptorily denied.
But it is not to be inferred, that our care is vain at present,
because, perhaps, it may some time be vain hereafter; or that we ought
now to sink into slavery without a struggle, because the time may
come, when our strongest efforts will be ineffectual.

It has, indeed, been almost asserted, that the fatal hour is now
arrived, and that it is to no purpose that we endeavour to raise any
farther opposition to the universal monarchy projected by France. We
are told, that the nation is exhausted and dispirited; that we have
neither influence, nor riches, nor courage remaining; that we shall be
left to stand alone against the united house of Bourbon; that the
Austrians cannot, and that the Dutch will not, assist us; that the
king of Sardinia will desert his alliance; that the king of Prussia
has declared against us; and, therefore, that by engaging in the
support of the Pragmatick sanction, we are about to draw upon
ourselves that ruin which every other power has foreseen and shunned.

I am far from denying, my lords, that the power of France is great and
dangerous; but can draw no consequence from that position, but that
this force is to be opposed before it is still greater, and this
danger to be obviated while it is yet surmountable, and surmountable I
still believe it by unanimity and courage.

If our wealth, my lords, is diminished, it is time to confine the
commerce of that nation by which we have been driven out of the
markets of the continent, by destroying their shipping, and
intercepting their merchants. If our courage is depressed, it is
depressed not by any change in the nature of the inhabitants of this
island, but by a long course of inglorious compliance with the
demands, and of mean submission to the insults, of other nations, to
which it is necessary to put an end by vigorous resolutions.

If our allies are timorous and wavering, it is necessary to encourage
them by vigorous measures; for as fear, so courage, is produced by
example: the bravery of a single man may withhold an army from flight,
and other nations will be ashamed to discover any dread of that power
which France along sets at defiance. They will be less afraid to
declare their intentions, when they are convinced that we intend to
support them; and if there be, in reality, any prince who does not
favour our design, he will be at least less inclined to obstruct it,
as he finds the opposition, which he must encounter, more formidable.

For this reason, my lords, I am far from discovering the justness of
the opinion which has prevailed very much in the nation, on this
occasion, that we are not to act without allies, because allies are
most easily to be procured by acting, and because it is reasonable and
necessary for us to perform our part, however other powers may neglect

The advice which the senate has often repeated to his majesty, has
been to oppose the progress of France; and though it should be
allowed, that he has been advised to proceed in concert _with his
allies_, yet it must be understood to suppose such allies as may be
found to have courage and honesty enough to concur with him. It cannot
be intended, that he should delay his assistance till corruption is
reclaimed, or till cowardice is animated; for to promise the queen of
Hungary assistance on such terms, would be to insult her calamities,
and to withhold our succours till she was irrecoverably ruined. The
senate could not insist that we should stand neuter, till all those,
who were engaged by treaty to support the Pragmatick sanction, should
appear willing to fulfil their stipulations; for even France is to be
numbered among those who have promised to support the house of Austria
in its possessions, however she may now endeavour to take them away.

Even with regard to that power from which most assistance may be
reasonably expected, nothing would be more imprudent than to declare
that we determine not to act without them; for what then would be
necessary, but that the French influence one town in their provinces,
or one deputy in their assemblies, and ruin the house of Austria in
security and at leisure, without any other expense than that of a

It was, therefore, necessary to transport our troops into Flanders, to
show the world that we were no longer inclined to stand idle
spectators of the troubles of Europe; that we no longer intended to
amuse ourselves, or our confederates, with negotiations which might
produce no treaties, or with treaties which might be broken whenever
the violation of them afforded any prospect of that advantage; we were
now resolved to sacrifice the pleasures of neutrality, and the profits
of peaceful traffick, to the security of the liberties of Europe, and
the observation of publick faith.

This necessity was so generally allowed, that when the first body of
troops was sent over, no objection was made by those who found
themselves inclined to censure the conduct of our affairs, but that
they were not sufficiently numerous to defend themselves, and would be
taken prisoners by a French detachment; the ministry were therefore
asked, why they did not send a larger force, why they engaged in
hostilities, which could only raise the laughter of our enemies, and
why, if they intended war, they did not raise an army sufficient to
prosecute it?

An army, my lords, an army truly formidable, is now raised, and
assembled on the frontiers of France, ready to assist our ally, and to
put a stop to the violence of invasions. We now see ourselves once
again united with the house of Austria, and may hope once more to
drive the oppressors of mankind before us. But now, my lords, a
clamour is propagated through the nation, that these measures, which
have been so long desired, are pernicious and treacherous; that we are
armed, not against France, but against ourselves; that our armies are
sent over either not to fight, or to fight in a quarrel in which we
have no concern; to gain victories from which this nation will receive
no advantage, or to bring new dishonour upon their country by a
shameful inactivity.

This clamour, which if it had been confined to the vulgar, had been,
perhaps, of no great importance, nor could have promoted any of the
designs of those by whom it was raised, has been mentioned in this
house as an argument in favour of the motion which is now under the
consideration of your lordships; and it has been urged that these
measures cannot be proper, because all measures, by which his
majesty's government is made unpopular, must in the end be destructive
to the nation.

On this occasion, my lords, it is necessary to consider the nature of
popularity, and to inquire how far it is to be considered in the
administration of publick affairs. If by popularity is meant only a
sudden shout of applause, obtained by a compliance with the present
inclination of the people, however excited, or of whatsoever tendency,
I shall without scruple declare, that popularity is to be despised; it
is to be despised, my lords, because it cannot be preserved without
abandoning much more valuable considerations. The inclinations of the
people have, in all ages, been too variable for regard. But if by
popularity be meant that settled confidence and lasting esteem, which
a good government may justly claim from the subject, I am far from
denying that it is truly desirable; and that no wise man ever
disregarded it. But this popularity, my lords, is very consistent with
contempt of riotous clamours, and of mistaken complaints; and is often
only to be obtained by an opposition, to the reigning opinions, and a
neglect of temporary discontents; opinions which may be inculcated
without difficulty by favourite orators, and discontents which the
eloquence of seditious writers may easily produce on ignorance and

How easily the opinions of the vulgar may be regulated by those who
have obtained, by whatever methods, their esteem, the debate of this
day, my lords, may inform us; since, if the measures against which
this motion is intended, be really unpopular, as they have been
represented, it is evident that there has been lately a very
remarkable change in the sentiments of the nation; for it is yet a
very little time since the repression of the insolence of France, and
the relief of the queen of Hungary was so generally wished, and so
importunately demanded, that had measures like these been then formed,
it is not improbable that they might have reconciled the publick to
that man whom the united voice of the nation has long laboured to

It is, indeed, urged with a degree of confidence, which ought, in my
opinion, to proceed from stronger proof than has yet been produced,
that no hostilities are intended; that our armaments on the continent
are an idle show, an inoffensive ostentation, and that the troops of
Hanover have been hired only to enrich the electorate, under the
appearance of assisting the queen of Hungary, whom in reality they
cannot succour without drawing upon their country the imperial

It has been alleged, my lords,-that these measures have been concerted
wholly/or the advantage of Hanover; that this kingdom is to be
sacrificed to the electorate, and that we are in reality intended to
be made tributaries to a petty power.

In confirmation of these suggestions, advantage has been taken from
every circumstance that could admit of misrepresentation. The
constitution of the empire has been falsely quoted, to prove that they
cannot act against the emperour, and their inactivity in Flanders has
been produced as a proof, that they do not intend to enter Germany.

Whoever shall consult the constituent and fundamental pact by which
the German form of government is established, will find, my lords,
that it is not in the power of the emperour alone to lay any of the
states of Germany under the ban; and that the electors are independent
in their own dominions, so far as that they may enter into alliances
with foreign powers, and make war upon each other.

It appears, therefore, my lords, that no law prohibits the elector of
Hanover to send his troops to the assistance of the queen of Hungary;
he may, in consequence of treaties, march into Germany, and attack the
confederates of the emperour, or what is not now intended, even the
emperour himself, without any dread of the severities of the ban.

Nor does the continuance of the forces in Flanders show any
unwillingness to begin hostilities, or any dread of the power of
either Prussia, whose prohibition is merely imaginary, or of France,
who is not less perplexed by the neighbourhood of our army than by any
other method that could have been taken of attacking her; for being
obliged to have an equal force always in readiness to observe their
motions, she has not been able to send a new army against the
Austrians, but has been obliged to leave the emperour at their mercy,
and suffer them to recover Bohemia without bloodshed, and establish
themselves at leisure in Bavaria.

Nor is this, my lords, the only advantage which has been gained by
their residence in Flanders; for the United Provinces have been
animated to a concurrence in the common cause, and have consented so
far to depart from their darling neutrality, as to send twenty
thousand of their forces to garrison the barrier. Of which no man, I
suppose, will say that it is not of great importance to the queen of
Hungary, since it sets her free from the necessity of distracting her
views, and dividing her forces for the defence of the most distant
parts of her dominions at once; nor will it be affirmed, that this
advantage could have probably been gained, without convincing our
allies of our sincerity, by sending an army into the continent.

If it be asked, what is farther to be expected from these troops? it
ought to be remembered, my lords, with how little propriety our
ministers can be required to make publick a scheme of hostile
operations, and how much we should expose ourselves to our enemies,
should a precedent be established by which our generals would be
incapacitated to form any private designs, and an end would be for
ever put to military secrecy.

What necessity there can be for proposing arguments like these, I am
not, indeed, able to discover, since the objections which have been
made seem to proceed rather from obstinacy than conviction; and the
reflections that have been vented seem rather the product of wit
irritated by malevolence, than of reason enlightened by calm
consideration. The ministers have been reproached with Hanoverian
measures, without any proof that Hanover is to receive the least
advantage; and have been charged with betraying their country by those
who cannot show how their country is injured, nor can prove either
that interest or faith would allow us to sit inactive in the present
disturbance of Europe, or that we could have acted in any other manner
with equal efficacy.

It is so far from being either evident or true, my lords, that Britain
is sacrificed to Hanover, that Hanover is evidently hazarded by her
union with Britain. Had this electorate now any other sovereign than
the king of Great Britain, it might have been secure by a neutrality,
and have looked upon the miseries of the neighbouring provinces
without any diminution of its people, or disturbance of its
tranquillity; nor could any danger be dreaded, or any inconvenience be
felt, but from an open declaration in favour of the Pragmatick

Why the hire of the troops of any particular country should be
considered as an act of submission to it, or of dependency upon it, I
cannot discover; nor can I conceive for what reason the troops of
Hanover should be more dangerous, or less popular, at this than at any
former time, or why the employment of them should be considered as any
particular regard. If any addition of dominion had been to be
purchased for the electorate by the united arms of the confederate
army, I should, perhaps, be inclined to censure the scheme, as
contrary to the interest of my native country; nor shall any lord more
warmly oppose designs that may tend to aggrandize another nation at
the expense of this. But to hire foreigners, of whatever country, only
to save the blood of Britons, is, in my opinion, an instance of
preference which ought to produce rather acknowledgments of gratitude
than sallies of indignation.

Upon the most exact survey of this debate, I will boldly affirm, that
I never heard in this house a question so untenable in itself, so
obstinately or so warmly debated; but hope that the sophistries which
have been used, however artful, and the declamations which have been
pronounced, however pathetick, will have no effect upon your
lordships. I hope, that as the other house has already agreed to
support the auxiliaries which have been retained, and which have been
proved in this debate to be retained for the strongest reasons, and
the most important purposes, your lordships will show, by rejecting
this motion, that you are not less willing to concur in the support of
publick faith, and that you will not suffer posterity to charge you
with the exaltation of France, and the ruin of Europe.

[The question was then put, and determined in the negative, by 90
against 35.]

After the conclusion of this long debate, the ministry did not yet
think their victory in repelling this censure sufficiently apparent,
unless a motion was admitted, which might imply a full and unlimited
approbation of their measures; and therefore the earl of SCARBOROUGH
rose, and spoke to the following effect:--My lords, it has been justly
observed in the debate of this day, that the opinions of the people of
Britain are regulated in a great measure by the determinations of this
house; that they consider this as the place where truth and reason
obtain a candid audience; as a place sacred to justice and to honour;
into which, passion, partiality, and faction have been very rarely
known to intrude; and that they, therefore, watch our decisions as the
great rules of policy, and standing maxims of right, and readily
believe these measures necessary in which we concur, and that conduct
unblameable which has gained our approbation.

This reputation, my lords, we ought diligently to preserve, by an
unwearied vigilance for the happiness of our fellow-subjects; and
while we possess it, we ought likewise to employ its influence to
beneficial purposes, that the cause and the effect may reciprocally
produce each other; that the people, when the prosperity which they
enjoy by our care, inclines them to repose in us an implicit
confidence, may find that confidence a new source of felicity; that
they may reverence us, because they are secure and happy; and be
secure and happy, because they reverence us.

This great end, my lords, it will not be very difficult to attain; the
foundation of this exalted authority may easily be laid, and the
superstructure raised in a short time; the one may be laid too deep to
be undermined, and the other built too firmly to be shaken; at least
they can be impaired only by ourselves, and may set all external
violence at defiance.

To preserve the confidence of the people, and, consequently, to govern
them without force, and without opposition, it is only necessary that
we never willingly deceive them; that we expose the publick affairs to
their view, so far as they ought to be made publick in their true
state; that we never suffer false reports to circulate under the
sanction of our authority, nor give the nation reason to think we are
satisfied, when we are, in reality, suspicious of illegal designs, or
that we suspect those measures of latent mischiefs with which we are,
in reality, completely satisfied.

But it is not sufficient, my lords, that we publish ourselves no
fallacious representations of our counsels; it is necessary, likewise,
that we do not permit them to be published, that we obviate every
falsehood in its rise, and propagate truth with our utmost diligence.
For if we suffer the nation to be deceived, we are not much less
criminal than those who deceive it; at least we must be confessed no
longer to act as the guardians of the publick happiness, if we suffer
it to be interrupted by the dispersion of reports which we know to be
at once false and pernicious.

Of these principles, which I suppose will not be contested, an easy
application may be made to the business of the present day. A question
has been debated with great address, great ardour, and great
obstinacy, which is in itself, though not doubtful, yet very much
diffused; complicated with a great number of circumstances, and
extended to a multitude of relations; and is, therefore, a subject
upon which sophistry may very safely practise her arts, and which may
be shown in very different views to those whose intellectual light is
too much contracted to receive the whole object at once. It may easily
be asserted, by those who have long been accustomed to affirm, without
scruple, whatever they desire to obtain belief, that the arguments in
favour of the motion, which has now been rejected by your lordships,
were unanswerable; and it will be no hard task to lay before their
audience such reasons as, though they have been easily confuted by the
penetration and experience of your lordships, may, to men unacquainted
with politicks, and remote from the sources of intelligence, appear
very formidable.

It is, therefore, not sufficient that your lordships have rejected the
former motion, and shown that you do not absolutely disapprove the
measures of the government, since it may be asserted, and with some
appearance of reason, that barely not to admit a motion by which all
the measures of the last year would have been at once over-turned and
annihilated, is no proof that they have been fully justified, and
warmly confirmed, since many of the transactions might have been at
least doubtful, and yet this motion not have been proper.

In an affair of so great importance, my lords, an affair in which the
interest of all the western world is engaged, it is necessary to take
away all suspicions, when the nation is about to be involved in a war
for the security of ourselves and our posterity; in a war which,
however prosperous, must be at least expensive, and which is to be
carried on against an enemy who, though not invincible, is, in a very
high degree, powerful. It is surely proper to show, in the most
publick manner, our conviction, that neither prudence nor frugality
has been wanting; that the inconveniencies which will be always felt
in such contentions, are not brought upon us by wantonness or
negligence; and that no care is omitted by which they are alleviated,
and that they may be borne more patiently, because they cannot be

This attestation, my lords, we can only give by a solemn address to
his majesty of a tendency contrary to that of the motion now rejected;
and by such an attestation only can we hope to revive the courage of
the nation, to unite those in the common cause of liberty whom false
reports have alienated or shaken, and to restore to his majesty that
confidence which all the subtilties of faction have been employed to
impair. I, therefore, move, that an humble address be presented to his
majesty, importing, "That in the unsettled and dangerous situation of
affairs in Europe, the sending a considerable body of British forces
into the Austrian Netherlands, and augmenting the same with sixteen
thousand of his majesty's electoral troops, and the Hessians in the
British pay, and thereby, in conjunction with the queen of Hungary's
troops in the Low Countries, forming a great army for the service of
the common cause, was a wise, useful, and necessary measure,
manifestly tending to the support and encouragement of his majesty's
allies, and the real and effectual assistance of the queen of Hungary,
and the restoring and maintaining the balance of power, and has
already produced very advantageous consequences."

The earl of OXFORD spoke next, to the following effect:--My lords, the
necessity of supporting our reputation, and of preserving the
confidence of the publick, I am by no means inclined to dispute, being
convinced, that from the instant in which we shall lose the credit
which our ancestors have delivered down to us, we shall be no longer
considered as a part of the legislature, but be treated by the people
only as an assembly of hirelings and dependants, convened at the
pleasure of the court to ratify its decisions without examination, to
extort taxes, promote slavery, and to share with the ministry the
crime and the infamy of cruelty and oppression.

For this reason, it is undoubtedly proper, that we avoid not only the
crime, but the appearance of dependence; and that every doubtful
question should be freely debated, and every pernicious position
publickly condemned; and that when our decisions are not agreeable to
the opinion or expectations of the people, we should at least show
them that they are not the effects of blind compliance with the
demands of the ministry, or of an implicit resignation to the
direction of a party. We ought to show, that we are unprejudiced, and
ready to hear truth; that our determinations are not dictated by any
foreign influence, and that it will not be vain to inform us, or
useless to petition us.

In these principles I agree with the noble lord who has made the
motion; but in the consequences which are on this occasion to be drawn
from them, I cannot but differ very widely from him; for, in my
opinion, nothing can so much impair our reputation, as an address like
that which is proposed; an address not founded either upon facts or
arguments, and from which the nation can collect only, that the
protection of this house is withdrawn from them, that they are given
up to ruin, and that they are to perish as a sacrifice to the interest
of Hanover.

Let us consider what we are now invited to assert, and it will easily
appear how well this motion is calculated to preserve and to advance
the reputation of this house. We are to assert, my lords, the
propriety of a new war against the most formidable power of the
universe, at a time when we have been defeated and disgraced in our
conquests with a kingdom of inferiour force. We are to declare our
readiness to pay and to raise new taxes, since no war can be carried
on without them, at a time when our commerce, the great source of
riches, is obstructed; when the interest of debts contracted during a
long war, and a peace almost equally expensive, is preying upon our
estates; when the profits of the trade of future ages, and the rents
of the inheritances of our latest descendants, are mortgaged; and what
ought yet more to affect us, at a time when the outcry of distress is
universal, when the miseries of hopeless poverty have sunk the nation
into despair, when industry scarcely retains spirit sufficient to
continue her labours, and all the lower ranks of mankind are
overwhelmed with the general calamity.

There may, perhaps, be some among your lordships who may think this
representation of the state of the publick exaggerated beyond the
truth. There are many in this house who see no other scenes than the
magnificence of feasts, the gaieties of balls, and the splendour of a
court; and it is not much to be wondered at, if they do not easily
believe what it is often their interest to doubt, that this luxury is
supported by the distress of millions, and that this magnificence
exposes multitudes to nakedness and famine. It is my custom, when the
business of the senate is over, to retire to my estate in the country,
where I live without noise, and without riot, and take a calm and
deliberate survey of the condition of those that inhabit the towns and
villages about me. I mingle in their conversation, and hear their
complaints; I enter their houses, and find by their condition that
their complaints are just; I discover that they are daily
impoverished, and that they are not able to struggle under the
enormous burdens of publick payments, of which I am convinced that
they cannot be levied another year without exhausting the people, and
spreading universal beggary over the nation.

What can be the opinion of the publick, when they see an address of
this house, by which new expenses are recommended? Will they not
think that their state is desperate, and that they are sold to
slavery, from which nothing but insurrections and bloodshed can
release them? If they retain any hopes of relief from this house, they
must soon be extinguished, when they find in the next clause, that we
are sunk to such a degree of servility, as to acknowledge benefits
which were never received, and to praise the invisible service of our
army in Flanders.

If it be necessary, my lords, to impose upon the publick, let us at
least endeavour to do it less grossly; let us not attempt to persuade
them that those forces have gained victories who have never seen an
enemy, or that we are benefited by the transportation of our money
into another country. If it be necessary to censure those noble lords
who have supported the former motion, and to punish them for daring to
use arguments which could not be confuted; for this is the apparent
tendency of the present motion; let us not lose all consideration of
ourselves, nor sacrifice the honour of the house to the resentment of
the ministry.

For my part, my lords, I shall continue to avow my opinion in defiance
of censures, motions and addresses; and as I struggled against the
former ministry, not because I envied or hated them, but because I
disapproved their conduct; I shall continue to oppose measures equally
destructive with equal zeal, by whomsoever they are projected, or by
whomsoever patronised.

Lord CARTERET spoke next, to the following purpose:--My lords, after
so full a defence of the former motion as the late debate has
produced, it is rather with indignation than surprise, that I hear
that which is now offered. It has been for a long time the practice of
those who are supported only by their numbers, to treat their
opponents with contempt, and when they cannot answer to insult them;
and motions have been made, not because they were thought right by
those who offered them, but because they would certainly be carried,
and would, by being carried, mortify their opponents.

This, my lords, is the only intent of the present motion which can
promote no useful purpose, and which, though it may flatter the court,
must be considered by the people as an insult; and therefore, though I
believe all opposition fruitless, I declare that I never will agree to

And to show, my lords, that I do not oppose the ministry for the sake
of obstructing the publick counsels, or of irritating those whom I
despair to defeat; and that I am not afraid of trusting my conduct to
the impartial examination of posterity, I shall beg leave to enter,
with my protest, the reasons which have influenced me in this day's
deliberation, that they be considered when this question shall no
longer be a point of interest, and our present jealousies and
animosities are forgotten.

[It was carried in the affirmative, by 78 against 35.]



The bill for altering the duties on spirituous liquors, and permitting
them again to be sold with less restraint, which was sent up by the
commons to the house of lords, produced there very long and serious
deliberations, to which the lords had every day each a particular
summons, as in cases of the highest concern.

The bill was entitled, An act for repealing certain duties on
spirituous liquors, and on licenses for retailing the same, and for
laying other duties on spirituous liquors, and on licenses for
retailing the said liquors.

The duties which were proposed to be repealed, were those laid by the
act 9 Geo. II. which permitted no person to sell spirituous liquors in
less quantity than two gallons without a license, for which fifty
pounds were to be paid. Whereas by the new bill a small duty per
gallon was laid on at the still-head, and the license was to cost but
twenty shillings, which was to be granted only to such as had licenses
for selling ale. On the credit of this act, as soon as it was passed
by the commons, the ministry borrowed a large sum at three per cent,
but it was understood that the sinking fund was pledged as a
collateral security to pay any deficiency.

In about a fortnight this bill passed all the forms in the house of
commons, almost without opposition; and with little or no alteration
from the scheme brought into the committee on ways and means for
raising the supply for the current year, by Mr. SANDYS, then
chancellor of the exchequer.

It was immediately carried up to the house of lords, where it was read
for the first time on the 17th of February; and ordered a second
reading on the twenty-second. On that day the commissioners of excise,
according to an order of the house, brought an account of the sums
arising by the last act, and a yearly account for several years past;
and attending were interrogated concerning the execution of the last

The bishop of ORFORD particularly inquired, whether it had been
effectually put in force, and questions of the same kind were asked by
lord LONSDALE and others; to which the commissioners answered, that it
had been diligently and vigorously executed, so far as they or their
officers had power to enforce it; but that the justices had not always
been equally zealous in seconding their endeavours; and that it was
impossible to discover all the petty dealers by whom it was infringed,
spirituous liquors still continuing to be sold in small obscure shops,
and at the corners of the streets.

A motion was also made, that three of the physicians of most note for
their learning and experience, should be summoned to attend the house,
to declare their opinion with regard to the effects of spirituous
liquors upon the human body. But this was rejected by 33 against 17.

The bill was read the second time on the day appointed, when the
question being put, whether it should be committed, lord HERVEY rose,
and spoke to the following effect:--

My lords, though I doubt not but the bill now before us will be
promoted in this house, by the same influence by which it has been
conducted through the other; yet I hope its success will be very
different, and that those arts by which its consequences, however
formidable, have been hitherto concealed, or by which those whose
business it was to have detected and exposed them, have been induced
to turn their eyes aside, will not be practised here with the same
efficacy, though they should happen to be attempted with the same
confidence. I hope that zeal for the promotion of virtue, and that
regard to publick happiness, which has on all occasions distinguished
this illustrious assembly, will operate now with uncommon energy, and
prevent the approbation of a bill, by which vice is to be made legal,
by which the fences of subordination are to be thrown down, and all
the order of society, and decency of regular establishments be
obliterated by universal licentiousness, and lost in the wild
confusions of debauchery; of debauchery encouraged by law, and
promoted for the support of measures expensive, ridiculous, and

A law of so pernicious a tendency shall, at least, not pass through
this house without opposition; nor shall drunkenness be established
among us without the endeavour of one voice, at least, to withhold its
progress; for I now declare that I oppose the commitment of this bill,
and that I am determined to continue my opposition to it in all the
steps by which the forms of our house make it necessary that it should
pass before it can become a law.

Nor do I speak, my lords, on this occasion, with that distrust and
mental hesitation which are both natural and decent, when questions
are dubious, when probability seems to be almost equally divided, when
truth appears to hover between two parties, and by turns to favour
every speaker; when specious arguments are urged on both sides, and
the number of circumstances to be collected, and of relations to be
adjusted, is so great, that an exact and indubitable decision is
scarcely to be attained by human reason. I do not, my lords, now speak
with the diffidence of inquiry, or the uncertainty of conjecture, nor
imagine that I am now examining a political expedient, of which the
success can only be perfectly known by experience, and of which,
therefore, no man can absolutely determine, whether it will be useful
or pernicious, or a metaphysical difficulty, which may be discussed
for ever without being decided.

In considering this bill, my lords, I proceed upon stated and
invariable principles. I have no facts to examine but such as, to the
last degree, are notorious, such as have been experienced every hour,
since the existence of society; and shall appeal, not to transitory
opinions, or casual assertions, but to the laws of all civilized
nations, and to the determinations of every man whose wisdom or virtue
have given him a claim to regard.

All the decrees of all the legislators of the earth, or the
declarations of wise men, all the observations which nature furnishes,
and all the examples which history affords, concur in condemning this
bill before us, as a bill injurious to society, destructive of private
virtue, and, by consequence, of publick happiness, detrimental to the
human species, and, therefore, such as ought to be rejected in that
assembly to which the care of the nation is committed; that assembly
which ought to meet only for the benefit of mankind, and of which the
resolutions ought to have no other end, than the suppression of those
vices by which the happiness of life is obstructed or impaired.

The bill now before you, my lords, is fundamentally wrong, as it is
formed upon a hateful project of increasing the consumption of
spirituous liquors, and, consequently, of promoting drunkenness among
a people reproached already for it throughout the whole world. It
contains such a concatenation of enormities, teems with so vast a
number of mischiefs, and therefore produces, in those minds that
attend to its nature, and pursue its consequences, such endless
variety of arguments against it, that the memory is perplexed, the
imagination crowded, and utterance overburdened. Before any one of its
pernicious effects is fully dilated a thousand others appear; the
hydra still shoots out new heads, and every head vomits out new poison
to infect society, and lay the nation desolate.

I am, therefore, at a loss, my lords, not how to raise arguments
against this bill, which cannot be read or mentioned without,
furnishing them by thousands; but how to methodise those that occur to
me, and under what heads to range my thoughts, that I may pursue my
design without confusion, that I may understand myself, and be
understood by your lordships.

A multitude of considerations are obvious, all of importance
sufficient to claim attention, and to outweigh the advantages proposed
by this hateful bill, but which cannot all be mentioned, or at least
not with that exactness which they deserve; I shall, therefore,
confine myself at present to three considerations, and shall entreat
the attention of your lordships, while I examine the bill now before
us, with regard to its influence on the health and morals of the
people, the arguments by which it has been hitherto supported, and the
effects which it will have on the sinking fund.

The first head, my lords, is so copious, that I find myself very
little relieved by the division which I have made. The moral
arguments, though separated from those which are either political or
temporary, are sufficient to overpower the strongest reason, and
overflow the most extensive comprehension.

It is not necessary, I suppose, to show that health of body is a
blessing, that the duties of life in which the greatest part of the
world is employed, require vigour and activity, and that to want
strength of limbs, and to want the necessary supports of nature, are
to the lower classes of mankind the same. I need not observe to your
lordships, whose legislative character obliges you to consider the
general concatenation of society, that all the advantages which high
stations or large possessions can confer, are derived from the labours
of the poor; that to the plough and the anvil, the loom and the
quarry, pride is indebted for its magnificence, luxury for its
dainties, and delicacy for its ease. A very little consideration will
be sufficient to show, that the lowest orders of mankind supply
commerce with manufacturers, navigation with mariners, and war with
soldiers; that they constitute the strength and riches of every
nation; and that, though they generally move only by superiour
direction, they are the immediate support of the community; and that
without their concurrence, policy would project in vain, wisdom would
end in idle speculation, and the determinations of this assembly would
be empty sounds.

It is, therefore, my lords, of the utmost importance, that all
practices should be suppressed by which the lower orders of the people
are enfeebled and enervated; for if they should be no longer able to
bear fatigues or hardships, if any epidemical weakness of body should
be diffused among them, our power must be at an end, our mines would
be an useless treasure, and would no longer afford us either the
weapons of war, or the ornaments of domestick elegance; we should no
longer give law to mankind by our naval power, nor send out armies to
fight for the liberty of distant nations; we should no longer supply
the markets of the continent with our commodities, or share in all the
advantages which nature has bestowed upon distant countries, for all
these, my lords, are the effects of indigent industry, and mechanick

All these blessings or conveniencies are procured by that strength of
body, which nature has bestowed upon the natives of this country, who
have hitherto been remarkably robust and hardy, able to support long
fatigues, and to contend with the inclemency of rigorous climates, the
violence of storms, and the turbulence of waves, and who have,
therefore, extended their conquests with uncommon success, and been
equally adapted to the toils of trade and of war, and have excelled
those who endeavoured to rival them either in the praise of
workmanship or of valour.

But, my lords, if the use of spirituous liquors be encouraged, their
diligence, which can only be supported by health, will quickly
languish; every day will diminish the numbers of the manufacturers,
and, by consequence, augment the price of labour; those who continue
to follow their employments, will be partly enervated by corruption,
and partly made wanton by the plenty which the advancement of their
wages will afford them, and partly by the knowledge that no degree of
negligence will deprive them of that employment in which there will be
none to succeed them. All our commodities, therefore, will be wrought
with less care and at a higher price, and therefore, will be rejected
at foreign markets in favour of those which other nations will exhibit
of more value, and yet at a lower rate.

No sooner, my lords, will this bill make drunkenness unexpensive and
commodious, no sooner will shops be opened in every corner of the
streets, in every petty village, and in every obscure cellar for the
retail of these liquors, than the workrooms will be forsaken, when the
artificer has, by the labour of a small part of the day, procured what
will be sufficient to intoxicate him for the remaining hours; for he
will hold it ridiculous to waste any part of his life in superfluous
diligence, and will readily assign to merriment and frolicks that time
which he now spends in useful occupations.

But such is the quality of these liquors, that he will not long be
able to divide his life between labour and debauchery, he will soon
find himself disabled by his excesses from the prosecution of his
work, and those shops which were before abandoned for the sake of
pleasure, will soon be made desolate by sickness; those who were
before idle, will become diseased, and either perish by untimely
deaths, or languish in misery and want, an useless burden to the

Nor, my lords, will the nation only suffer by the deduction of such
numbers from useful employments, but by the addition of great
multitudes to those who must be supported by the charity of the
publick. The manufacturer, who by the use of spirituous liquors
weakens his limbs or destroys his health, at once, takes from the
community to which he belongs, a member by which the common stock was
increased, and by leaving a helpless family behind him, increases the
burden which the common stock must necessarily support. And the trader
or husbandman is obliged to pay more towards the maintenance of the
poor, by the same accident which diminishes his trade or his harvest,
which takes away part of the assistance which he received, and raises
the price of the rest.

That these liquors, my lords, liquors of which the strength is
heightened by distillation, have a natural tendency to inflame the
blood, to consume the vital juices, destroy the force of the vessels,
contract the nerves, and weaken the sinews, that they not only
disorder the mind for a time, but by a frequent use precipitate old
age, exasperate diseases, and multiply and increase all the
infirmities to which the body of man is liable, is generally known to
all whose regard to their own health, or study to preserve that of
others, has at any time engaged them in such inquiries, and would have
been more clearly explained to your lordships, had the learned
physicians been suffered to have given their opinions on this subject,
as was yesterday proposed.

Why that proposal was rejected, my lords; for what reason, in the
discussion of so important a question, any kind of evidence was
refused, posterity will find it difficult to explain, without imputing
to your lordships such motives as, I hope, will never operate in this
assembly. It will be, perhaps, thought that the danger was generally
known, though not acknowledged; and that those who resolved to pass
the bill, had no other care than to obstruct such information as might
prove to mankind, that they were incited by other designs than that of
promoting the publick good.

It is not, however, necessary that any very curious inquiries should
be made for the discovery of that which, indeed, cannot be concealed,
and which every man has an opportunity of remarking that passes
through the streets.

So publick, so enormous, and so pernicious has been this dreadful
method of debauchery, that it has excited and baffled the diligence of
the magistrates, who have endeavoured to stop its progress or hinder
its effects. They found their efforts ineffectual, and their diligence
not only not useful to the publick, but dangerous to themselves. They
quickly experienced, my lords, the folly of those laws which punish
crimes instead of preventing them; they found that legal authority had
little influence, when opposed to the madness of multitudes
intoxicated with spirits, and that the voice of justice was but very
little heard amidst the clamours of riot and drunkenness.

We live, my lords, in a nation where the effects of strong liquors
have been for a long time too well known; we know that they produce,
in almost every one, a high opinion of his own merit; that they blow
the latent sparks of pride into flame, and, therefore, destroy all
voluntary submission; they put an end to subordination, and raise
every man to an equality with his master, or his governour. They
repress all that awe by which men are restrained within the limits of
their proper spheres, and incite every man to press upon him that
stands before him, that stands in the place of which that sudden
elevation of heart, which drunkenness bestows, makes him think himself
more worthy.

Pride, my lords, is the parent, and intrepidity the fosterer of
resentment; for this reason, men are almost always inclined, in their
debauches, to quarrels and to bloodshed; they think more highly of
their own merit, and, therefore, more readily conclude themselves
injured; they are wholly divested of fear, insensible of present
danger, superiour to all authority, and, therefore, thoughtless of
future punishment; and what then can hinder them from expressing their
resentment with the most offensive freedom, or pursuing their revenge
with the most daring violence.

Thus, my lords, are forgotten disputes often revived, and after having
been long reconciled, are at last terminated by blows; thus are lives
destroyed upon the most trifling occasions, upon provocations often
imaginary, upon chimerical points of honour, where he who gave the
offence, perhaps without design, supports it only because he has given
it; and he who resents it, pursues his resentment only because he will
not acknowledge his mistake.

Thus are lives lost, my lords, at a time when those who set them to
hazard, are without consciousness of their value, without sense of the
laws which they violate, and without regard to any motives but the
immediate influence of rage and malice.

When we consider, my lords, these effects of drunkenness, it can be no
subject of wonder, that the magistrate finds himself overborne by a
multitude united against him, and united by general debauchery.
Government, my lords, subsists upon reverence, and what reverence can
be paid to the laws, by a crowd, of which every man is exalted by the
enchantment of those intoxicating spirits, to the independence of a
monarch, the wisdom of a legislator, and the intrepidity of a hero?
when every man thinks those laws oppressive that oppose the execution
of his present intentions, and considers every magistrate as his
persecutor and enemy?

Laws, my lords, suppose reason; for who ever attempted to restrain
beasts but by force; and, therefore, those that propose the promotion
of publick happiness, which can be produced only by an exact
conformity to good laws, ought to endeavour to preserve what may
properly be called the publick reason; they ought to prevent a general
depravation of the faculties of those whose benefit is intended, and
whose obedience is required; they ought to take care that the laws may
be known, for how else can they be observed? and how can they be
known, or at least, how can they be remembered in the heats of

That the laws are universally neglected and defied among the lower
class of mankind, among those whose want of the lights of knowledge
and instruction, makes positive and compulsory directions more
necessary for the regulation of their conduct, is apparent from the
representation of the magistrates, in which the general disorders of
this great city, the open wickedness, the daring insolence, and
unbounded licentiousness of the common people, is very justly

Their wickedness and insolence, my lords, is, indeed, such, that order
is almost at an end, rank no longer confers respect, nor does dignity
afford security. The same confidence produces insults and robberies,
and that insensibility with which debauchery arms the mind equally
against fear and pity, frequently aggravates the guilt of robbery with
greater crimes; those who are so unhappy as to fall into the hands of
thieves, heated by spirits into madmen, seldom escape without
suffering greater cruelties than the loss of money.

That the use of these poisonous draughts quickly debilitates the
limbs, and destroys the strength of the body; however this quality may
impair our manufactures, weaken our armies, and diminish our commerce;
however it may reduce our fleets to an empty show, and enable our
enemies to triumph in the field, or our rivals to supplant us in the
market, can scarcely, my lords, come under consideration, when we
reflect how debauchery operates upon the morals.

It is happy, my lords, that those who are inclined to mischief, are
disabled in a short time from executing their intentions, by the same
causes which excite them; that they are obliged to stop in the career
of their crimes, that they are preserved from the hand of the
executioner by the liquor which exposes them to it, and that palsies
either disable them from pursuing their villanies, or fevers put an
end to their lives.

It is happy, my lords, that what is thus violent, cannot be lasting;
that those lives which are employed in mischief, are generally short;
and that since it is the quality of this malignant liquor to corrupt
the mind, it likewise destroys the body.

But this effect, my lords, is not constant or regular; men sometimes
continue for many years, to supply the, expenses of drunkenness by
rapine, and to exasperate the fury of rapine by drunkenness. And,
therefore, though there could be any one so regardless of the
happiness of mankind, as to look without concern upon them who hurry
themselves to the grave with poison, he may yet be incited by his own
interest to prevent the progress of this practice, a practice which
tends to the subversion of all order, and the destruction of all

It is well known, my lords, that publick happiness must be on a stated
proportion to publick virtue; that mutual trust is the cement of
society, and that no man can be trusted but as he is reputed honest.
To promote trust, my lords, is the apparent tendency of all laws. When
the ties of morality are enforced by penal sanctions, men are more
afraid to violate them, and, therefore, are trusted with less danger;
but when they no longer fear the law, they are to be restrained only
by their consciences; and if neither law nor conscience has any
influence upon their conduct, they are only a herd of wild beasts, let
loose to prey upon each other, and every man will inflict or suffer
pain, as he meets with one stronger or weaker than himself. Thus, my
lords, will all authority cease, property will become dangerous to him
that possesses it, and confusion will overspread the whole community;
nor can it be easily conceived, by the most extensive comprehension
how far the mischiefs may spread, or where the chain of destructive
consequences will end.

If we consider our fleet or our army, my lords, it is apparent, that
neither obedience nor fidelity can be expected from men upon whom all
the ties of morality, and all the sanctions of law have lost their
influence; they will mutiny without fear, and desert without scruple,
and like wild beasts, will, upon the least provocation, turn upon
those by whom they ought to be governed.

But drunkenness, my lords, not only corrupts men, by taking away the
sense of those restraints by which they are generally kept in awe, and
withheld from the perpetration of villanies, but by superadding the
temptations of poverty, temptations not easily to be resisted, even by
those whose eyes are open to the consequences of their actions, and
which, therefore, will certainly prevail over those whose
apprehensions are laid asleep, and who never extend their views beyond
the gratification of the present moment.

Drunkenness, my lords, is the parent of idleness; for no man can apply
himself to the business of his trade, either while he is drinking, or
when he is drunk. Part of his time is spent in jollity, and part in
imbecility; when he is amidst his companions he is too gay to think of
the consequences of neglecting his employment; and when he has
overburdened himself with liquor, he is too feeble and too stupid to
follow it.

Poverty, my lords, is the offspring of idleness, as idleness of
drunkenness; the drunkard's work is little and his expenses are great;
and, therefore, he must soon see his family distressed, and his
substance reduced to nothing: and surely, my lords, it needs not much
sagacity to discover what will be the consequence of poverty produced
by vice.

It is not to be expected, my lords, that a man thus corrupted will be
warned by the approach of misery, that he will recollect his
understanding, and awaken his attention; that he will apply himself to
his business with new diligence, endeavour to recover, by an increase
of application, what he has lost by inattention, and make the
remembrance of his former vices, and the difficulties and diseases
which they brought upon him, an incitement to his industry, a
confirmation of his resolution, and a support to his virtue.

That this is, indeed, possible, I do not intend to deny; but the bare
possibility of an event so desirable, is the utmost that can be
admitted; for it can scarcely be expected, that any man should be able
to break through all the obstacles that will obstruct his return to
honesty and wisdom; his companions will endeavour to continue the
infatuating amusements which have so long deluded him; his appetite
will assist their solicitations; the desire of present ease by which
all mankind are sometimes led aside from virtue, will operate with
unusual strength; since, to retrieve his misconduct, he must not only
deny himself the pleasure which he has so long indulged, but must bear
the full view of his distress from which he will naturally turn aside
his eyes. The general difficulty of reformation will incline him to
seek for ease by any other means, and to delay that amendment which he
knows to be necessary, from hour to hour, and from day to day, till
his resolutions are too much weakened to prove of any effect, and his
habits confirmed beyond opposition.

At length, necessity, immediate necessity, presses upon him; his
family is made clamorous by want, and his calls of nature and of
luxury are equally importunate; he has now lost his credit in the
world, and none will employ him, because none will trust him, or
employment cannot immediately be, perhaps, obtained; because his place
has for a long time been supplied by others. And, even if he could
obtain a readmission to his former business, his wants are now too
great and too pressing to be supplied by the slow methods of regular
industry; he must repair his losses by more efficacious expedients,
and must find some methods of acquisition, by which the importunity of
his creditors may be satisfied.

Industry is now, by long habits of idleness, become almost
impracticable; his attention having been long amused by pleasing
objects, and dissipated by jollity and merriment, is not readily
recalled to a task which is unpleasing, because it is enjoined; and
his limbs, enervated by hot and strong liquors, liquors of the most
pernicious kind, cannot support the fatigues necessary in the practice
of his trade; what was once wholesome exercise is now insupportable
fatigue; and he has not now time to habituate himself, by degrees, to
that application which he has intermitted, that labour which he has
disused, or those arts which he has forgotten.

In this state, my lords, he easily persuades himself that his
condition is desperate, that no legal methods will relieve him; and
that, therefore, he has nothing to hope but from the efforts of
despair. These thoughts are quickly confirmed by his companions, whom
the same misconduct has reduced to the same distress, and who have
already tried the pleasures of being supported by the labour of
others. They do not fail to explain to him the possibility of sudden
affluence, and, at worst, to celebrate the satisfaction of short-lived
merriment. He, therefore, engages with them in their nocturnal
expeditions, an association of wickedness is formed, and that man, who
before he tasted this infatuating liquor, contributed every day, by
honest labour, to the happiness or convenience of life, who supported
his family in decent plenty, and was himself at ease, becomes at once
miserable and wicked; is detested as a nuisance by the community, and
hunted by the officers of justice; nor has mankind any thing now to
wish or hope with regard to him, but that by his speedy destruction,
the security of the roads may be restored, and the tranquillity of the
night be set free from the alarms of robbery and murder.

These, my lords, are the consequences which necessarily ensue from the
use of those pernicious, those infatuating spirits, which have justly
alarmed every man whom pleasure or sloth has not wholly engrossed, and
who has ever looked upon the various scenes of life with that
attention which their importance demands.

Among these, my lords, the clergy have distinguished themselves by a
zealous opposition to this growing evil, and have warned their hearers
with the warmest concern against the misery and wickedness which must
always be the attendants or the followers of drunkenness. One among
them [Footnote: Bishop of SARUM.], whose merit has raised him to a
seat in this august, assembly, and whose instructions are enforced by
the sanctity of his life, has, in a very cogent and pathetical manner,
displayed the enormity of this detestable sin, the universality of its
prevalence, and the malignity of its effects; and in his discourse on
the infirmary of this city, has observed with too much justness, that
the lowest of the people are infected with this vice, and that _even
necessity is become luxurious_.

Many other authorities [Footnote: He read the preamble to a former
bill, the opinion of the college of physicians.] might be produced,
and some others I have now in my hand; but the recital of them would
waste the day to no purpose: for surely it is not necessary to show,
by a long deduction of authorities, the guilt of drunkenness, or to
prove that it weakens the body, or that it depraves the mind, that it
makes mankind too feeble for labour, too indolent for application, too
stupid for ingenuity, and too daring for the peace of society.

This, surely, my lords, is, therefore, a vice which ought, with the
utmost care, to be discouraged by those whose birth or station has
conferred upon them the province of watching over the publick
happiness; and which, surely, no prospect of present advantage, no
arguments of political convenience, will prevail upon this house to

That the natural and evident tendency of this bill is the propagation
of drunkenness, cannot be denied, when it is considered that it will
increase the temptations to it by making that liquor, which is the
favourite of the common people, more common, by multiplying the places
at which it is sold, so that none can want an opportunity of yielding
to any sudden impulse of his appetite, which will solicit him more
powerfully and more incessantly as they are more frequently and more
easily gratified.

In defence of a bill like this, my lords, it might be expected, that
at least many specious arguments should be offered. It may be justly
hoped that no man will rise up in opposition to all laws of heaven and
earth, to the wisdom of all legislators, and the experience of every
human being, without having formed such a train of arguments as will
not easily be disconcerted, or having formed at least such a chain of
sophistry as cannot be broken but with difficulty.

And yet, my lords, when I consider what has been offered by all who
have hitherto appeared either in publick assemblies, or in private
conversation, as advocates for this bill, I can scarcely believe, that
they perceive themselves any force in their own arguments; and am
inclined to conclude, that they speak only to avoid the imputation of
being able to say nothing in defence of their own scheme; that their
hope is not to convince by their reasons, but to overpower by their
numbers; that they are themselves influenced, not by reason, but by
necessity; and that they only encourage luxury, because money is to be
raised for the execution of their schemes: and they imagine, that the
people will pay more cheerfully for liberty to indulge their
appetites, than for any other enjoyment.

The arguments which have been offered, my lords, in vindication of
this bill, or at least which I have hitherto heard, are only two, and
those two so unhappily associated, that they destroy each other;
whatever shall be urged to enforce the second, must in the same
proportion invalidate the first; and whoever shall assert, that the
first is true, must admit that the second is false.

These positions, my lords, the unlucky positions which are laid down
by the defenders of this pernicious bill, are, that it will supply the
necessities of the government with a very large standing revenue, on
the credit of which, strengthened by the additional security of the
sinking fund, a sum will be advanced sufficient to support the
expenses of a foreign war; and that at the same time it will lessen
the consumption of the liquors from whence this duty is to arise.

By what arts of political ratiocination these propositions are to be
reconciled, I am not able to discover. It appears evident, my lords,
that large revenues can only be raised by the sale of large
quantities; and that larger quantities will in reality be sold, as the
price is little or nothing raised, and the venders are greatly

If this will not be the effect, my lords, and if this effect is not
expected, why is this bill proposed as sufficient to raise the immense
sums which our present exigencies require? Can duties be paid without
consumption of the commodity on which they are laid? and is there any
other use of spirituous liquors than that of drinking them?

Surely, my lords, it is not expected, that any arguments should be
admitted in this house without examination; and yet it might be justly
imagined, that this assertion could only be offered in full confidence
of an implicit reception, and this tenet be proposed only to those who
had resigned their understandings to the dictates of the ministry; for
it is implied in this position, that the plenty of a commodity
diminishes the demand for it; and that the more freely it is sold, the
less it will be bought. It implies, that men will lay voluntary
restraints upon themselves, in proportion as they are indulged by
their governours; and that all prohibitory laws tend to the promotion
of the practices which they condemn; it implies, that a stop can only
be put to fornication by increasing the number of prostitutes, and
that theft is only to be restrained by leaving your doors open.

I am, for my part, convinced, that drunkards, as well as thieves, are
made by opportunity; and that no man will deny himself what he
desires, merely because it is allowed him by the laws of his country.

This, my lords, is so evident, that I shall no longer dwell upon the
assertion, that the unbounded liberty of retailing spirits will make
spirits less used in the nation; but shall examine the second
argument, and consider how far it is possible or proper to raise
supplies by a tax upon drunkenness.

That large sums will be raised by the bill to which the consent of
your lordships is now required, I can readily admit, because the
consumption of spirits will certainly be greater, and the licenses
taken for retailing them so numerous, that a much lower duty than is
proposed will amount yearly to a very large sum; for if the felicity
of drunkenness can be more cheaply obtained by buying spirits than
ale, when both are to be found at the same place, it is easy to see
which will be preferred; this argument, therefore, is irrefragable,
and may be urged in favour of the bill without danger of confutation.

But, my lords, it is the business of governours not so much to drain
the purses, as to regulate the morals of the people; not only to raise
taxes, but to levy them in such a manner as may be least burdensome,
and to apply them to purposes which may be most useful; not to raise
money by corrupting the nation, that it may be spent in enslaving it.

It has been mentioned by a very celebrated writer, as a rational
practice in the exercise of government, to tax such commodities as
were abused to the increase of vice, that vice may be discouraged by
being made more expensive; and therefore the community in time be set
free from it: but the tax which is now proposed, my lords, is of a
different kind; it is a tax laid upon vice, indeed, but it is to arise
from the licenses granted to wickedness, and its consequences must be
the increase of debauchery, not the restraint. It is a tax which will
be readily paid, because it will be little felt; and because it will
be little felt, it is hoped that multitudes will subject themselves to

The act which is now to be repealed, was, indeed, of a very different
nature, though perhaps not free from very just objections. It had this
advantage at least, that so far as it was put in execution, it
obstructed drunkenness; nor has the examination of the officers of
excise discovered any imperfection in the law; for it has only failed,
because it was timorously or negligently executed. Why it was not
vigorously and diligently enforced, I have never yet been able to
discover. If the magistrates were threatened by the populace, the
necessity of such laws was more plainly proved; for what justifies the
severity of coercion but the prevalence of the crime? and what may not
be feared from crowds intoxicated with spirits, whose insolence and
fury is already such, that they dare to threaten the government by
which they are debarred from the use of them?

This, my lords, is a reflection that ought not to be passed slightly
over. The nature of our constitution, happy as it is, must be
acknowledged to produce this inconvenience, that it inclines the
common people to turbulence and sedition; the nature of spirituous
liquors is such, that they inflame these dispositions, already too
much predominant; and yet the turbulence of the people is made a
reason for licensing drunkenness, and allowing, without limitation,
the sale of those spirits by which that turbulence must be certainly

It may be, perhaps, urged, (for indeed I know not what else can be
decently alleged,) that there is a necessity of raising money, that no
other method can be invented, and that, therefore, this ought not to
be opposed.

I know, my lords, that ministers generally consider, as the test of
each man's loyalty, the readiness with which he concurs with them in
their schemes for raising money; and that they think all opposition to
these schemes, which are calculated for the support of the government,
the effect of a criminal disaffection; that they always think it a
sufficient vindication of any law, that it will bring in very large
sums; and that they think no measures pernicious, nor laws dangerous,
by which the revenue is not impaired.

If government was instituted only to raise money, these ministerial
schemes of policy would be without exception; nor could it be denied,
that the present ministers show themselves, by this expedient,
uncommon masters of their profession. But the end of government is
only to promote virtue, of which happiness is the consequence; and,
therefore, to support government by propagating vice, is to support it
by means which destroy the end for which it was originally
established, and for which its continuance is to be desired.

If money, therefore, cannot be raised but by this bill, if the
expenses of the government cannot be defrayed but by corrupting the
morals of the people, I shall without scruple declare, that money
ought not to be raised, nor the designs of the government supported,
because the people can suffer nothing from the failure of publick
measures, or even from the dissolution of the government itself, which
will be equally to be dreaded or avoided with an universal depravity
of morals, and a general decay of corporeal vigour. Even the insolence
of a foreign conqueror can inflict nothing more severe than the
diseases which debauchery produces; nor can any thing be feared from
the disorders of anarchy more dangerous or more calamitous, than the
madness of sedition, or the miseries which must ensue to each
individual from universal wickedness.

Such, my lords, is the expedient by which we are now about to raise
the supplies for the present year; and such is the new method of
taxation which the sagacity of our ministers has luckily discovered. A
foreign war is to be supported by the destruction of our people at
home, and the revenue of the government to be improved by the decay of
our manufactures. We are to owe henceforward our power to epidemical
diseases, our wealth to the declension of our commerce, and our
security to riot and to tumult.

There is yet another consideration, my lords, which ought well to be
regarded, before we suffer this bill to pass. Many laws are merely
experimental, and have been made, not because the legislature thought
them indisputably proper, but because no better could at that time be
struck out, and because the arguments in their favour appeared
stronger than those against them, or because the questions to which
they related were so dark and intricate that nothing was to be
determined with certainty, and no other method could therefore be
followed, but that of making the first attempts at hazard, and
correcting these errours, or supplying these defects which might
hereafter be discovered by those lights which time should afford.

Though I am far from thinking, my lords, that the question relating to
the effects of this law is either doubtful or obscure; though I am
certain that the means of reforming the vice which its advocates
pretend it is designed to prevent, are obvious and easy; yet I should
have hoped, that the projectors of such a scheme would have allowed at
least the uncertainty of the salutary effects expected from it, and
would, therefore, have made some provision for the repeal of it when
it should be found to fail.

But, my lords, our ministers appear to have thought it sufficient to
endear them to their country, and immortalize their names, that they
have invented a new method of raising money, and seem to have very
little regard to any part of the art of government; they will, at
least in their own opinion, have deserved applause, if they leave the
publick revenue greater, by whatever diminution of the publick virtue.

They have, therefore, my lords, wisely contrived a necessity of
continuing this law, whatever may be its consequences, and how fatal
soever its abuses; for they not only mortgage the duties upon spirits
for the present supply, but substitute them in the place of another
security given to the bank by the pot act; and, therefore, since it
will not be easy to form another tax of equal produce, we can have
very little hope that this will be remitted.

There will be, indeed, only one method of setting the nation free from
the calamities which this law will bring upon it; and as I doubt not
but that method will at last be followed, it will certainly deserve
the attention of your lordships, as the third consideration to which,
in our debates on this bill, particular regard ought to be paid.

That the license of drunkenness, and the unlimited consumption of
spirituous liquors, will fill the whole kingdom with idleness,
diseases, riots, and confusion, cannot be doubted; nor can it be
questioned, but that in a very short time the senate will be crowded
with petitions from all the trading bodies in the kingdom, for the
regulation of the workmen and servants, for the extinction of
turbulence and riot, and for the removal of irresistible temptations
to idleness and fraud. These representations may be for a time
neglected, but must soon or late be heard; the ministers will be
obliged to repeal this law, for the same reason that induced them to
propose it. Idleness and sickness will impair our manufactures, and
the diminution of our trade will lessen the revenue.

They will then, my lords, find that their scheme, with whatever
prospects of profit it may now flatter them, was formed with no
extensive views; and that it was only the expedient of political
avarice, which sacrificed a greater distant advantage to the immediate
satisfaction of present gain. They will find, that they have corrupted
the people without obtaining any advantage by their crime, and that
they must have recourse to some new contrivance by which their own
errours may be retrieved.

In this distress, my lords, they can only do what indeed they now seem
to design; they can only repeal this act by charging the debt, which
it has enabled them to contract, upon the sinking fund, upon that
sacred deposit which was for a time supposed unalienable, and from
which arose all the hopes that were sometimes formed by the nation, of
being delivered from that load of imposts, which it cannot much longer
support. They can only give security for this new debt, by disabling
us for ever from paying the former.

The bill now before us, my lords, will, therefore, be equally
pernicious in its immediate and remoter consequences; it will first
corrupt the people, and destroy our trade, and afterwards intercept
that fund which is appropriated to the most useful and desirable of
all political purposes, the gradual alleviation of the publick debt.

I hope, my lords, that a bill of this portentous kind, a bill big with
innumerable mischiefs, and without one beneficial tendency, will be
rejected by this house, without the form of commitment; that it will
not be the subject of a debate amongst us, whether we shall consent to
poison the nation; and that instead of inquiring, whether the measures
which are now pursued by the ministry ought to be supported at the
expense of virtue, tranquillity, and trade, we should examine, whether
they are not such as ought to be opposed for their own sake, even
without the consideration of the immense sums which they apparently

I am, indeed, of opinion, that the success of the present schemes will
not be of any benefit to the nation, and believe, likewise, that there
is very little prospect of success. I am, at least, convinced, that no
advantage can countervail the mischiefs of this detestable bill;
which, therefore, I shall steadily oppose, though I have already dwelt
upon this subject perhaps too long; yet as I speak only from an
unprejudiced regard to the publick, I hope, if any new arguments shall
be attempted, that I shall be allowed the liberty of making a reply.

Lord BATHURST replied to the following purport:--My lords, I doubt not
but the noble lord has delivered, on this occasion, his real
sentiments, and that, in his opinion, the happiness of our country,
the regard which ought always to be paid to the promotion of virtue,
require that this bill should be rejected. I am far from suspecting,
that such an appearance of zeal can conceal any private views, or that
such pathetick exclamations can proceed but from a mind really
affected with honest anxiety.

This anxiety, my lords, I shall endeavour to dissipate before it has
been communicated to others; for I think it no less the duty of every
man who approves the publick measures, to vindicate them from
misrepresentation, than of him to whom they appear pernicious or
dangerous, to warn his fellow-subjects of that danger.

I, my lords, am one of those who are convinced that the bill now
before us, which has been censured as fundamentally wrong, is in
reality fundamentally right; that the end which is proposed by it is
just, and the means which are prescribed in it will accomplish the
purpose for which they were contrived.

The end of this bill, my lords, is to diminish the consumption of
distilled spirits, to restrain the populace of these kingdoms from a
liquor which, when used in excess, has a malignity to the last degree
dangerous, which at once inebriates and poisons, impairs the force of
the understanding, and destroys the vigour of the body; and to attain
this, I think it absolutely right to lay a tax upon these liquors.

Of the vice of drunkenness, my lords, no man has a stronger abhorrence
than myself; of the pernicious consequences of these liquors, which
are now chiefly used by the common people, no man is more fully
convinced, and therefore, none can more zealously wish that
drunkenness may be suppressed, and distilled spirits withheld from the

The disorders mentioned by the noble lord, are undoubtedly the
consequences of the present use of these liquors, but these are not
its worst effects. The offenders against the law, may by the law be
sometimes reclaimed, and at other times cutoff; nor can these
practices, however injurious to particular persons, in any great
degree impair the general happiness. The worst effects, therefore, of
the use of spirits, are that idleness and extravagance which it has
introduced among the common people, by which our commerce must be
obstructed, and our present riches and plenty every day diminished.

This pernicious practice, my lords, is disseminated farther than could
be reasonably believed by those whose interest has not incited, or
curiosity induced them to inquire into the practice of the different
classes of men. It is well known, that the farmers have been hitherto
distinguished by the virtues of frugality, temperance, and industry;
that they laboured hard, and spent little; and were, therefore, justly
considered as an innocent and useful part of the community, whose
employment and parsimony preserved them in a great measure from the
general infection of vice which spread its influence among the traders
and men of estates.

But even this abstemious class of men, my lords, have of late relaxed
their frugality, and suffered themselves to be tempted by this
infatuating liquor; nor is any thing now more common than to find it
in those houses in which ale, a few years ago, was the highest pitch
of luxury to which they aspired, and to see those hours wasted in
intoxicating entertainments, which were formerly dedicated wholly to
the care of their farms, and the improvement of their fortunes.

Thus, my lords, it appears, that the corruption is become universal,
and, therefore, that some remedy ought to be attempted; nor can I
conceive any measures more consistent with justice, or more likely to
produce the end intended by them, than those which are now offered to
your consideration, by which the liquor will be made dearer, too dear
to be lavishly drank by those who are in most danger of using it to
excess; and the number of those who retail it will be diminished by
the necessity of taking a license, and of renewing them every year at
the same expense.

The inefficacy, my lords, of violent methods, and the impossibility of
a total deprivation of any enjoyment which the people have by custom
made familiar and dear to them, sufficiently appears from the event of
the law which is now to be repealed. It is well known, that by that
law the use of spirituous liquors was prohibited to the common people;
that retailers were deterred from vending them by the utmost
encouragement that could be given to informers; and that discoveries
were incited by every art that could be practised, and offenders
punished with the utmost rigour.

Yet what was the effect, my lords, of all this diligence and vigour? A
general panick suppressed, for a few weeks, the practice of selling
the prohibited liquors; but, in a very short time, necessity forced
some, who had nothing to lose, to return to their former trade; these
were suffered sometimes to escape, because nothing was to be gained by
informing against them, and others were encouraged by their example to
imitate them, though with more secrecy and caution; of those, indeed,
many were punished, but many more escaped, and such as were fined
often found the profit greater than the loss.

The prospect of raising money by detecting their practices, incited
many to turn information into a trade; and the facility with which the
crime was to be proved, encouraged some to gratify their malice by
perjury, and others their avarice; so that the multitude of
informations became a publick grievance, and the magistrates
themselves complained that the law was not to be executed.

The perjuries of informers were now so flagrant and common, that the
people thought all informations malicious; or, at least, thinking
themselves oppressed by the law, they looked upon every man that
promoted its execution, as their enemy; and, therefore, now began to
declare war against informers, many of whom they treated with great
cruelty, and some they murdered in the streets.

By their obstinacy they at last wearied the magistrates, and by their
violence they intimidated those who might be inclined to make
discoveries; so that the law, however just might be the intention with
which it was enacted, or however seasonable the methods prescribed by
it, has been now for some years totally disused; nor has any one been
punished for the violation of it, because no man has dared to offer
informations. Even the vigilance of the magistrates has been obliged
to connive at these offences, nor has any man been found willing to
engage in a task, at once odious and endless, or to punish offences
which every day multiplied, and of which the whole body of the common
people, a body very formidable when united, was universally engaged.

The practice, therefore, of vending and of drinking distilled spirits,
has prevailed for some time without opposition; nor can any man enter
a tavern or an alehouse, in which they will be denied him, or walk
along the streets without being incited to drink them at every corner;
they have been sold for several years, with no less openness and
security than any other commodity; and whoever walks in this great
city, will find his way very frequently obstructed by those who are
selling these pernicious liquors to the greedy populace, or by those
who have drank them till they are unable to move.

But the strongest proof of the inefficacy of the late law, and
consequently of the necessity of another, which may not be so easily
eluded or so violently resisted, is given by the papers which lie upon
the table. From these it appears that the quantity of spirits
distilled has increased from year to year to the present time; and,
therefore, that drunkenness is become more prevalent, and the reasons
for repressing it more urgent than ever before.

Let us, therefore, calmly consider, my lords, what can in this
exigence be done; that the people should be allowed to poison
themselves and their posterity without restraint, is certainly not the
intent of any good man; and therefore we are now to consider how it
may be prevented. That the people are infected with the vice of
drunkenness, that they debauch themselves chiefly with spirituous
liquors, and that those liquors are in a high degree pernicious, is
confessed both by those who oppose the bill, and those who defend it;
but with this advantage on the part of those that defend it, that they
only propose a probable method of reforming the abuses which they
deplore. I know that the warm resentment which some lords have on
former occasions expressed against the disorders which distilled
liquors are supposed to produce, may naturally incline them to wish
that they were totally prohibited, and that this _liquid fire_, as it
has been termed, were to be extinguished for ever.

Whether such wishes are not more ardent than rational; whether their
zeal against the abuse of things, indifferent in themselves, has not,
as has often happened in other cases, hurried them into an indiscreet
censure of the lawful use, I shall not now inquire; because it is
superfluous to dispute about the propriety of measures, of which the
possibility may be justly questioned.

This last act, my lords, was of this kind; the duties established by
it were so high that they wholly debarred the lower classes of the,
people from the liquor on which they were laid; and, therefore, it was
found by a very short experience, that it was impossible to preserve
it from violation; that there would be no end of punishing those who
offended against it; and that severity produced rather compassion than
terrour. Those who have suffered the penalties were considered as
persons under unjust persecution, whom every one was obliged by the
ties of humanity to encourage, reward, and protect; and those who
informed against them, or encouraged informations, were detested, as
the oppressors of the people. The law had, indeed, this effect, that
it debarred, at least for a short time, all those from retailing
spirits who lived in reputation; and, therefore, encouraged others to
vend them in private places, where they were more likely to be drank
to excess.

Having, therefore, made trial of violent and severe methods, and had
an opportunity of obtaining a full conviction of their inefficacy, it
is surely proper to profit by our experience, by that experience which
shows us that the use of distilled liquors, under its present
discouragements, has every year increased; and, therefore, proves at
once the unprofitableness of the law now in force, and the necessity
of some other by which the same purposes may be more certainly

The reformation of a vice so prevalent must be slow and gradual; for
it is not to be hoped, that the whole bulk of the people will at once
be divested of their habits; and, therefore, it will be rational to
endeavour, not wholly to debar them from any thing in which, however
absurdly, they place their happiness, but to make the attainment of it
more and more difficult, that they may insensibly remit their ardour,
and cease from their pursuit.

This, my lords, is proposed in the present bill, which, by the duties
which are to be laid upon distilled spirits, will raise the price a
third part, and as it is reasonable to expect, hinder a third part of
the consumption; for it is observed, that those who drink them set no
limits to their excesses, but indulge their appetites to the utmost of
their power; if he, therefore, who used to spend threepence a-day in
spirits, can now have no more than could formerly be bought for
twopence, he must necessarily content himself with only two thirds of
the quantity which he has hitherto drank; and, therefore, must by
force, though, perhaps, not by inclination, be less intemperate.

It is not to be doubted, my lords, but that spirits will, by this
additional duty, be made one third part dearer; for it has been
hitherto observed, that retailers levy upon the buyer twice the duty
that is paid to the government, as is every day apparent in other
commodities; so that the yearly quantity of spirits which is usually
distilled will cost five hundred thousand pounds more than before, a
tax which, I suppose, those who are charged with this kind of
debauchery will not be supposed able to pay, and which yet must be
paid by them, unless they will be content with a less quantity.

That spirits will now be sold in every publick-house, of whatever
denomination, has been, I believe, justly asserted; but the assertion
has not been properly urged as an argument against the bill. One of
the circumstances which has contributed to the enormous abuse of these
liquors, has been the practice of retailing them in obscure places, by
persons without character and without money; who, therefore, neither
feared penalties nor infamy, and offended against law and decency with
equal security. But when the cheapness of licenses shall make it
convenient for every man that pleases to retail spirits in a publick
manner, they will be generally drank in houses visited by publick
officers, observed by the neighbouring inhabitants, and frequented by
persons of morals and civility, who will always endeavour to restrain
all enormous excesses, and oblige the masters of the houses to pay
some regard to the laws. Those whose appetites are too importunate to
be restrained, may now gratify them without being tempted to enter
into houses of infamy, or mingling with beggars, or thieves, or
'profligates; and, therefore, though the use of spirits should
continue the same, its consequences will be less fatal, since they may
be had without the necessity of associating with wickedness.

But, my lords, it is not improbable, that by this bill the number of
retailers, at least in this city, where they are most pernicious, may
be lessened. It is well known, that the reason for which they are sold
in cellars, and in the streets, is the danger of retailing them in
other places; and that if they were generally sold by those who could
procure the best of each sort, these petty traders would be
immediately undone; for it is reasonable to imagine, my lords, that
they buy the cheapest liquors, and sell them at the dearest rate.

When, therefore, reputable houses shall be opened for the sale of
these liquors, decency will restrain some, and prudence will hinder
others from endangering their health by purchasing those liquors which
are offered in the street, and from hazarding their morals, or perhaps
their lives, by drinking to excess in obscure places.

It is likewise to be remembered, my lords, that many of those who now
poison their countrymen with petty shops of debauchery, are not able
to purchase a license, even at the cheap rate at which it is now
proposed, and that therefore they will be restrained from their trade
by a legal inability; for it is not, my lords, to be imagined, that
they will be defended with equal zeal by the populace, when the
liquors may be had without their assistance, nor will information be
equally infamous, when it is not the act only of profligates, who
pursue the practice of it as a trade, but of the proper officers of
every place, incited by the lawful venders of the same commodities, or
of the venders themselves, who will now be numerous enough to protect
each other, and whom their common interest will incite against
clandestine dealers.

The price of licenses, therefore, appears to me very happily adjusted:
had it been greater there would not have been a sufficient number of
lawful retailers to put a stop to clandestine sellers; and if it was
lower, every petty dealer in this commodity might, by pretending to
keep an alehouse, continue the practice of affording an harbour to
thieves, and of propagating debauchery.

Thus, my lords, it appears to me that the bill will lessen the
consumption of these destructive spirits, certainly in a great degree,
by raising the price, and probably by transferring the trade of
selling them into more reputable hands. What more can be done by human
care or industry I do not conceive. To prohibit the use of them is
impossible, to raise the price of them to the same height with that of
foreign spirits, is, indeed, practicable, but surely at this time no
eligible method; for so general is this kind of debauchery, that no
degree of expense would entirely suppress it; and as foreign spirits,
if they were to be sold at the same price, would always be preferred
to our own, we should only send into other nations that money which
now circulates among ourselves, and impoverish the people without
reforming them.

The regulation provided by the bill before us is, therefore, in my
opinion, the most likely method for recovering the ancient industry
and sobriety of the common people; and, my lords, I shall approve it,
till experience has shown it to be defective. I shall approve it, not
with a view of obtaining or securing the favour of any of those who
may be thought to interest themselves in its success, but because I
find some new law for this purpose indispensably necessary, and
believe that no better can be contrived. We are now, my lords, to
contend with the passions of all the common people. We are
endeavouring to reform a vice almost universal; a vice which, however
destructive, is now no longer reproachful. We have tried the force of
violent methods and found them unsuccessful; we are now, therefore, to
treat the vulgar as children, with a kind of artful indulgence, and to
take from them secretly, and by degrees, what cannot be wholly denied
them, without exasperating them almost to rebellion. This is the first
attempt, and by this, if one third of the consumption be diminished,
we may next year double the duty, and, by a new augmentation of the
price, take away another third, and what will then be drank, will,
perhaps, by the strictest moralists, be allowed to be rather
beneficial than hurtful. By this gradual procedure, we shall give
those, who have accustomed themselves to this liquor, time to reclaim
their appetites, and those that live by distilling, opportunities of
engaging in some other employment; we shall remove the distemper of
the publick, without any painful remedies, and shall reform the people
insensibly, without exasperating or persecuting them.

The bishop of OXFORD spoke to the following purport:--My lords, as I
am not yet convinced of the expedience of the bill now before us, nor
can discover any reason for believing that the advantages will
countervail the mischiefs which it will produce, I think it my duty to
declare, that I shall oppose it, as destructive to virtue, and
contrary to the inviolable rules of religion.

It appears to me, my lords, that the liberty of selling liquors, which
are allowed to be equally injurious to health and virtue, will by this
law become general and boundless; and I can discover no reason for
doubting that the purchasers will be multiplied by increasing the
numbers of the venders, and the increase of the sale of distilled
spirits, and the propagation of all kinds of wickedness are the same;
I must conclude that bill to be destructive to the publick by which
the sale of spirits will be increased.

It has been urged that other more vigorous methods have been tried,
and that they are now to be laid aside, because experience has shown
them to be ineffectual, because the people unanimously asserted the
privilege of debauchery, opposed the execution of justice, and pursued
those with the utmost malice that offered informations.

I should think, my lords, that government approaching to its
dissolution, that was reduced to submit its decrees to their judgment
who are chiefly accused of the abuse of these liquors; for surely,
when the lowest, the most corrupt part of the people, have obtained
such a degree of influence as to dictate to the legislature those laws
by which they expect to be governed, all subordination is at an end.

This, my lords, I hope I shall never see the state of my own country:
I hope I shall never see the government without authority to enforce
obedience to the laws, nor have I, indeed, seen any such weakness on
this occasion: the opposition that was made, and the discontent that
was excited, were no greater than might be reasonably expected, when
the vice which was to be reformed was so enormously predominant; nor
was the effect of the law less than any one who foresaw such
opposition might reasonably have conceived.

In this city alone there were, before the commencement of that law,
fifteen hundred large shops, in which no other trade was carried on
than that of retailing these pernicious liquors; in which no
temptation to debauchery was forgotten; and, what cannot be mentioned
without horrour, back rooms and secret places were contrived for
receptacles of those who had drank till they had lost their reason and
their limbs; there they were crowded together till they recovered
strength sufficient to go away or drink more.

These pestilential shops, these storehouses of mischief, will, upon
the encouragement which this law will give them, be set open again;
new invitations will be hung out to catch the eyes of passengers, who
will again be enticed with promises of being made drunk for a penny,
and that universal debauchery and astonishing licentiousness which
gave occasion to the former act will return upon us.

It is to little purpose, my lords, that the licenses for selling
distilled spirits are to be granted only to those who profess to keep
houses for the sale of other liquors, since nothing will be more easy
than to elude this part of the law. Whoever is inclined to open a shop
for the retail of spirits, may take a license for selling ale; and the
sale of one barrel of more innocent liquors in a year will entitle to
dispense poison with impunity, and to contribute without control to
the corruption of mankind.

It is confessed, that since this law was made, these liquors, have
been sold only at corners of the streets in petty shops, and in
private cellars; and, therefore, it must be allowed, that if the
consumption has increased, it, has, at least, increased less than if
the free and open sale had been permitted; for the necessity of
secrecy is always a restraint, and every restraint must in some degree
obstruct any practice, since those that follow it under restraint
would pursue it more vigorously, if that restraint were taken away;
and those that are now totally hindered, would, at least, be more
strongly tempted by greater liberty; and where the temptation is more
powerful, more will probably be overcome by it.

But, my lords, however the law may in this crowded city have been
eluded and defied, however drunkenness may here have been protected by
the insolence which it produces, and crimes have been sheltered by the
multitudes of offenders, I am informed, that in parts less populous,
the efficacy of the late act never was denied; and that it has in many
parts rescued the people from the miseries of debauchery, and only
failed in others by the negligence of those to whom the execution of
it was committed.

Negligently and faintly as it was executed, it did in effect hinder
many from pursuing this destructive kind of trade; and even in the
metropolis itself, almost a total stop was for a time put to the use
of spirits; and had the magistrates performed their duty with
steadiness and resolution, it is probable, that no plea would have
arisen in favour of this bill from the inefficacy of the last.

I cannot, indeed, deny, that the multitude of false informers
furnished the magistrates with a very specious pretence for relaxing
their vigilance; but it was only, my lords, a specious pretence, not a
warrantable reason; for the same diligence should have been used to
punish false informers as clandestine retailers; the traders in poison
and in perjury should have been both pursued with incessant vigour,
the sword of justice should have been drawn against them, nor should
it have been laid aside, till either species of wickedness had been

In the execution of this, as of other penal laws, my lords, it will be
always possible for the judge to be misled by false testimonies; and,
therefore, the argument which false informations furnish may be used
against every other law, where information is encouraged. Yet, my
lords, it has been long the practice of this nation to incite
criminals to detect each other; and when any enormous crime is
committed, to proclaim at once pardon and rewards to him that shall
discover his accomplices. This, my lords, is an apparent temptation to
perjury; and yet no inconvenieucies have arisen from it, that can
reasonably induce us to lay it aside.

Perjury may in the execution of this law be detected by the same means
as on other occasions; and whenever it is detected, ought to be
rigorously punished; and I doubt not but in a short time the
_difficulties_ and _inconveniencies_ which are asserted in the
preamble of this bill to have _attended the putting the late act in
execution_, would speedily have vanished; the number of delinquents
would have been every day lessened, and the virtue and industry of the
nation would have been restored.

It is not, indeed, asserted, that the execution of the late act was
impossible, but that it was attended with difficulties; and when, my
lords, was any design of great importance effected without
difficulties? It is difficult, without doubt, to restrain a nation
from vice; and to reform a nation already corrupted, is still more
difficult. But as both, however difficult, are necessary, it is the
duty of government to endeavour them, till it shall appear that no
endeavours can succeed.

For my part, my lords, I am not easily persuaded to believe that
remissness will succeed, where assiduity has failed; and, therefore,
if it be true, as is supposed in the preamble, that the former act was
ineffectual by any defects in itself, I cannot conceive that this will
operate with greater force. I cannot imagine that appetites will be
weakened by lessening the danger of gratifying them, or that men who
will break down the fences of the law to possess themselves of what
long habits have, in their opinion, made necessary to them, will
neglect it, merely because it is laid in their way.

With regard to this act, my lords, it is to be inquired, whether it is
likely to be executed with more diligence than the former, and whether
the same obstacles may not equally obstruct the execution of both.

The great difficulty of the former method, a method certainly in
itself reasonable and efficacious, arose from the necessity of
receiving informations from the meanest and most profligate of the
people, who were often tempted to lay hold of the opportunities which
that law put into their hands, of relieving their wants, or gratifying
their resentment; and very frequently intimidated the innocent by
threats of accusations, which were not easily to be confuted. They
were, therefore, equally dangerous to those that obeyed the act, and
to those that disregarded it; for they sometimes put their threats in
execution, and raised prosecutions against those who had committed no
other crime than that of refusing to bribe them to silence.

An abuse so notorious, my lords, produced a general detestation of all
informers, or, at least, concurred with other causes to produce it;
and that detestation became so prevalent in the minds of the populace,
that at last it became to the highest degree dangerous to attempt the
conviction of those, who, in the most open and contemptuous manner,
every day violated the laws of their country; and in time the
retailers trusting to the protection of the people, laid aside all
cautions, at least in this great city, and prosecuted their former
practice with the utmost security.

This, my lords, was the chief difficulty and inconvenience hitherto
discovered in the law which is now to be repealed. Thus was its
execution obstructed, and the provisions enacted by it made
ineffectual. This defect, therefore, ought to be chiefly regarded in
any new regulations. But what securities, my lords, are provided
against the same evil in the bill before us? Or why should we imagine
that this law will be executed with less opposition than the last?
The informers will undoubtedly be of the same class as before; they
are still to be incited by a reward; and, therefore, it may be
reasonably feared, that they will act upon the same motives, and be
persecuted with the same fury.

To obviate this inconvenience appears to me very easy, by converting
the duty upon licenses to a large duty upon the liquors to be paid by
the distiller; the payment of which will be carefully exacted by
proper officers, who, though their employment is not very reputable,
pursue it at least without any personal danger; and who inform their
superiours of any attempts to defraud the revenue, without being
censured as officious or revengeful, and, therefore, are without any
terrours to hinder them from their duty.

It has been asserted, indeed, that the price of a license is now so
small, that none who are inclined to deal in spirits will neglect to
secure themselves from punishment and vexation by procuring it; and
that no man will subject himself to the malice of a profligate, by
carrying on an illicit trade, which the annual expense of twenty
shillings will make legal.

If this argument be just, my lords, and to the greatest part of this
assembly I believe it will appear very plausible, how will this law
lessen the consumption of distilled liquors? It is confessed that it
will hinder nobody from selling them; and it has been found, by
experience, that nothing can restrain the people from buying them, but
such laws as hinder them from being sold.

This plea, therefore, by removing an objection to a particular clause,
will strengthen the great argument against the tenour of the bill,
that instead of lessening, it will increase the consumption of those
liquors which are allowed to be destructive to the people, to enfeeble
the body, and to vitiate the mind, and, consequently, to impair the
strength and commerce of the nation, and to destroy the happiness and
security of life.

That the cheapness of licenses will induce multitudes to buy them, may
be expected; but it cannot be hoped that every one will cease to sell
spirits without a license; for they, are, as I am informed, offered
every hour in the streets by those to whom twenty shillings make a
very large sum, and who, therefore, will not, or cannot purchase a
license. These ought, undoubtedly, to be detected and punished; but
there is no provision made for discovering them, but what has been
found already to be ineffectual.

It appears, therefore, my lords, that this bill will increase the
number of lawful retailers, without diminishing that of private
dealers; so that the opportunities of debauchery will be multiplied,
in proportion to the numbers who shall take licenses.

There is another fallacy by which the duties upon distilled liquors
have been hitherto avoided, and which will still make this bill
equally useless as the former, for the ends which are to be promoted
by it.

It is expected, my lords, by those who purchase spirits from the
distillers, that they should be of a certain degree of strength, which
they call proof: if they are of a lower degree, their price is
diminished; and if of a higher, it is raised proportionally; because
if the spirits exceed the degree of strength required, they may be
mixed with other liquors of little value, and still be sold to the
drinker at the common price.

It is, therefore, the practice of the distillers to give their spirits
thrice the degree of strength required, by which contrivance, though
they pay only the duty of one pint, they sell their liquors at the
price of three; because it may be increased to thrice the quantity
distilled, and yet retain sufficient strength to promote the purposes
of wickedness.

This practice, my lords, should be likewise obviated; for while one
gallon, after having paid the present low duty which is laid upon it,
may be multiplied to three, the additional price will, in the small
quantities which are usually demanded, become imperceptible.

But to show yet farther the inefficacy of this bill, let us suppose,
what will not be found by experience, that a halfpenny is added to the
price of every pint, it will yet be very practicable to revel in
drunkenness for a penny, since a very small quantity of these hateful
liquors is sufficient to intoxicate those who have not been habituated
to the use of them; who though their reformation is, undoubtedly, to
be desired, do not so much demand the care of the legislature, as
those who are yet untainted with this pernicious practice, and who
may, perhaps, by the frequency of temptation, and the prevalence of
example, be induced in time to taste these execrable liquors, and
perish in their first essays of debauchery. For such is the quality of
these spirits, that they are sometimes fatal to those who indiscreetly
venture upon them without caution, and whose stomachs have not been
prepared for large draughts, by proper gradations of intemperance; a
single spoonful has been found sufficient to hurry two children to the

It is, therefore, my opinion, that those whose stations and
employments make it their duty to superintend the conduct of their
fellow-subjects, ought to contrive some other law on this occasion;
ought to endeavour to rescue the common people from the infatuation
which is become general amongst them, and to withhold from them the
means of wickedness. That instead of complying with their prejudices,
and flattering their appetites, they should exert that authority with
which they are intrusted in a steady and resolute opposition to
predominant vices; and without having recourse to gentle arts, and
temporizing expedients, snatch out of their hands at once those
instruments which are only of use for criminal purposes, and take from
their mouths that draught with which, however delicious it may seem,
they poison at once themselves and their posterity.

The only argument which can be offered in defence of this bill, is the
necessity of supporting the expenses of the war, and the difficulty of
raising money by any other method. The necessity of the war, my lords,
I am not about to call in question, nor is it very consistent with my
character to examine the method in which it has been carried on; but
this I can boldly assert, that however just, however necessary,
however prudently prosecuted, and however successfully concluded, it
can produce no advantages equivalent to the national sobriety and
industry, and am certain that no publick advantage ought to be
purchased at the expense of publick virtue.

But, my lords, I hope we are not yet reduced to the unhappy choice
either of corrupting our people, or submitting to our enemies; nor do
I doubt but that supplies may be obtained by methods less pernicious
to the publick, and that funds sufficient for the present occasion may
be established without a legal establishment of drunkenness.

I hope, my lords, we shall not suffer our endeavours to be baffled by
the obstinacy of drunkards; and that we shall not desist from
endeavouring the recovery of the nation from this hateful vice,
because our first attempt has failed, since it failed only by the
negligence or the cowardice of those whose duty required them to
promote the execution of a just law.

Against the bill now before us I have thought it my duty to declare,
as it appears to me opposite to every principle of virtue, and every
just purpose of government; and therefore, though I have engrossed so
much of your time in speaking on a subject with which it cannot
reasonably be expected that I should be well acquainted, I hope I
shall easily be pardoned by your lordships, since I have no private
views either of interest or resentment to promote, and have spoken
only what my conscience dictates, and my duty requires.

Lord TALBOT then rose up, and spoke to the following purport:--My
lords, I am ashamed that there should be any necessity of opposing in
this assembly a bill like that which is now before us; a bill crowded
with absurdities, which no strength of eloquence can exaggerate, nor
any force of reason make more evident.

This bill, my lords, is, however, the first proof that our new
ministers have given of their capacity for the task which they have
undertaken; this is a specimen of their sagacity, and is designed by
them as an instance of the gentle methods by which the expenses of the
government are hereafter to be levied upon the people. The nation
shall no longer see its manufactures subjected to imposts, nor the
fruits of industry taken from the laborious artificer; but drunkenness
shall hereafter supply what has hitherto been paid by diligence and
traffick; the restraints of vice shall be taken away, the barriers of
virtue and religion broken, and an universal licentiousness shall
overspread the land, that the schemes of the ministry may be executed.

What are the projects, my lords, that are to be pursued by such means,
it is not my present purpose to inquire: it is not necessary to add
any aggravations to the present charge, or to examine what has been
the former conduct, or what will be the future actions of men who lie
open by their present proposal to the most atrocious accusations; who
are publickly endeavouring the propagation of the most pernicious of
all vices, who are laying poison in the way of their countrymen,
poison by which not only the body, but the mind is contaminated; who
are attempting to establish by a law a practice productive of all the
miseries to which human nature is incident; a practice which will at
once disperse diseases and sedition, and promote beggary and

This, my lords, is the expedient by which the acuteness of our
ministry proposes to raise the supplies of the present year, and by
this they hope to convince the nation that they are qualified for the
high trusts to which they are advanced; and that they owe their
exaltation only to the superiority of their abilities, the extent of
their knowledge, and the maturity of their experience: by this
masterstroke of policy they hope to lay for their authority a firm and
durable foundation, and to possess themselves, by this happy
contrivance, at once of the confidence of the crown, and the
affections of the people.

But, my lords, I am so little convinced of their abilities, that
amidst all the exultation which this new scheme produces, I will
venture to predict the decline of their influence, and to fix the
period of their greatness; for I am persuaded, that notwithstanding
the readiness with which they have hitherto sacrificed the interest of
their country, notwithstanding the desperate precipitation with which
they have blindly engaged in the most dangerous measures, they will
not be able to continue a year in their present stations.

The bill now under our consideration, my lords, will undoubtedly make
all those their enemies whom it does not corrupt; for what can be
expected from it, but universal disorder and boundless wickedness?
wickedness made insolent by the protection of the law, and disorder
promoted by all those whose wealth is increased by the increase of the
revenues of the government.

Had it been urged, my lords, in defence of this bill, that it was
necessary to raise money, and that money could only be raised by
increasing the consumption of distilled spirits, it would have been
apparent that it was well calculated to promote the purposes intended;
but, surely, to assert that it will obstruct the use of these liquors,
is to discover a degree either of ignorance, of effrontery, or of
folly, by which few statesmen have been, hitherto, distinguished.

If we receive, without examination, the estimates which have been laid
down, and allow the duty to rise as high as those by whom it is
projected have ventured to assert, the price of these liquors can be
raised but a halfpenny a pint; and there are few, even among the
lowest of those who indulge themselves in this fatal luxury, whom the
want of a single halfpenny can often debar from it.

And though these accurate calculators should insist that men may
sometimes be compelled to sobriety by this addition to the expense of
being drunk, yet how far will this restraint be found from being
equivalent to the new temptation, which will be thrown into the way of
thousands, yet uncorrupted by the multitude of new shops that will be
opened for the distribution of poison, 'and the security which
debauchery will obtain from the countenance of the legislature.

What will be the consequences of any encouragement given to a vice
already almost irresistibly prevalent, I cannot determine; but surely
nothing is too dismal to be expected from universal drunkenness, from
a general depravity of all the most useful part of mankind, from an
epidemical fury of debauchery, and an unbounded exemption from

How little any encouragement is wanting to promote the consumption of
those execrable liquors, how much it concerns every man who has been
informed of their quality, and who has seen their consequences, to
oppose the use of them with his utmost influence, appears from the
enormous quantity which the stills of this nation annually produce.

The number of gallons which appears from the accounts on the table to
have been consumed last year, is seven millions; 'a quantity
sufficient to-destroy the health, interrupt the labour, and deprave
the morals of a very great part of the nation; a quantity which, if it
be suffered to continue undiminished, will, even without any legal
encouragement of its use, in a short time destroy the happiness of the
publick; and by impairing the strength, and lessening the number of
manufacturers and labourers, introduce poverty and famine.

Instead, therefore, of promoting a practice so evidently detrimental
to society, let us oppose it with the most vigorous efforts; let us
begin our opposition by rejecting this bill, and then consider whether
the execution of the former law shall be--enforced, or whether another
more efficacious can be formed.

Lord CHOLMONDELEY then spoke to the following effect:--My lords,
though it is undoubtedly the right of every person in this assembly to
utter his sentiments with freedom, yet surely decency ought to
restrain us from virulent, and justice from undeserved reproaches; we
ought not to censure any conduct with more severity than it deserves,
nor condemn any man for practices of which he is innocent.

This rule, which will not, I suppose, be controverted, has not, in my
opinion, been very carefully observed in this debate; for surely
nothing is more unjust than to assert or insinuate that the government
has looked idly upon the advances of debauchery, or has suffered
drunkenness to prevail without opposition.

Of the care with which this licentiousness has been opposed, no other
proof can be required, than the laws which have, in the present reign,
been made against it. Soon after the succession of his majesty, the
use of compound spirits was prohibited; but this law being eluded by
substituting liquors, so drawn as not to be included in the statutes,
it was soon after repealed; and the people were, for a time, indeed,
suffered to drink distilled liquors without restraint, because a
proper method of restraining them was not easily to be found.

How-difficult it was to contrive means by which this vice might
safely be prevented, appeared more plainly soon afterwards, when the
outrageous licentiousness of the populace made it necessary to
contrive some new law by which the use of that liquor might be
prohibited, to which so much insolence, idleness, and dissoluteness
were imputed.

The law which it is now proposed to repeal, was then zealously
promoted by those who were then most distinguished for their virtue
and their prudence. Every man who had any regard for the happiness of
the publick, was alarmed at the inundation of licentiousness that
overflowed this city, and began to spread itself to the remoter parts
of the kingdom; and it was determined that nothing but a total.
prohibition of distilled liquors could preserve the peace, and restore
the virtue of the nation.

A law was therefore made, which prohibited the retail of distilled
spirits; and it was expected that the people would immediately return
to the use of more innocent and healthful liquors, and that the new
art of sudden intoxication would be wholly suppressed; but with how
little knowledge of the dispositions of the nation this hope was
formed, the event quickly discovered; for no sooner was the darling
liquor withheld, than a general murmur was raised over all parts of
this great city; and all the lower orders of the people testified
their discontent in the most open manner. Multitudes were immediately
tempted by the prospect of uncommon gain, to retail the prohibited
liquors; of these many were detected, and many punished; and the trade
of information was so lucrative, and so closely followed, that there
was no doubt but the law would produce the effect expected from it,
and that the most obstinate retailers would, by repeated prosecutions,
be discouraged from the practice.

But no sooner did the people find their favourite gratification in
real danger, than they unanimously engaged in its defence; they
discovered that without informers, the new law was without operation;
and the informers were, therefore, persecuted by them without mercy,
and without remission, till at last no man would venture to provoke
the resentment of the populace for the reward to which information
entitled him.

Thus, my lords, one law has been eluded by artifice, and another
defeated by violence; the practice of drinking spirits, however
pernicious, still continued to prevail; the magistrates could not
punish a crime of which they were not informed, and they could obtain
no information of a practice vindicated by the populace.

It is not, indeed, to be allowed that the custom of drinking distilled
liquors, however prevalent, has yet arisen to the height at which the
noble lord, who spoke last, seems to imagine it arrived; for though it
is undoubtedly true that seven millions of gallons are annually
distilled, it is not to be imagined that the whole quantity is wasted
in debauchery! some is, exhausted by the necessities, and some by the
conveniencies of life; a great part is exported to other countries,
and the distillery promotes many other purposes than those of riot and

That too much, however, is used by the common people, and that
intemperance has for some time prevailed in a degree unknown to any
former age, cannot be denied; and, therefore, some means of reclaiming
them ought to be tried. What then, my lords, is to be done? The first
law was eluded, the second is defied: the first was executed, but
produced no restraint; the second produces a restraint so violent,
that it cannot be executed.

That the present law is ineffectual, cannot be doubted by those who
assert, that the quantity of spirits distilled has every year
increased; and there seems to remain, therefore, no other choice than
that of suffering this increase to proceed, or to endeavour to prevent
it by new regulations. The present law ought to be repealed, because
it is useless; but surely some other ought to supply its place, which
may be more easily enforced, and less violently opposed.

The bill now before us, my lords, will, in my opinion, answer all the
purposes of the last, without noise, and without disturbance. By
lessening the price of licenses, it will put a stop to clandestine
retail; and by raising that of the liquors, it will hinder the common
people from drinking them in their usual excess. Those who have
hitherto lost their reason and limbs twice a-day by their drunkenness,
will not be able, under the intended regulations, to commit the same
crime twice in a week; and as the temptation of cheapness will be
taken away, it may be hoped that the next generation will not fall
into the same vice.

Since, therefore, my lords, the arguments in favour of this bill are
at least plausible and specious; since the design appears to be worthy
of this assembly, and the method proposed such as may be hoped to
produce the effects which the projectors of the bill desire; and since
the opinions of this house are at least divided, and the other has
passed it almost without opposition, we ought at least, in my opinion,
not to reject it with precipitation, but to refer it to a committee,
that it may be fully considered; and those objections which cannot be
answered, removed by proper alterations.

Lord CARTERET spoke to the following purport:--My lords, the bill now
under our consideration appears to me to deserve a much more close
regard than seems to have been paid to it in the other house, through
which it was hurried with the utmost precipitation, and where it was
passed, almost without the formality of a debate; nor can I think that
earnestness with which some lords seem inclined to press it forward
here, consistent with the importance of the consequences which may be
with great reason expected from it,

It has been urged, that where so great a number have formed
expectations of a national benefit from any bill, so much deference,
at least, is due to their judgment, as that the bill should be
considered in a committee. This, my lords, I admit to be in other
cases a just and reasonable demand, and will readily allow that the
proposal not only of a considerable number, but even of any single
lord, ought to be fully examined, and regularly debated, according to
the usual forms of this assembly. But in the present case, my lords,
and in all cases like the present, this demand is improper, because it
is useless; and it is useless, because we can do now all that we can
do hereafter in a committee. For the bill before us is a money bill,
which, according to the present opinion of the commons, we have no
right to amend; and which, therefore, we have no need of considering
in a committee, since the event of all our deliberations must be, that
we are either to reject or pass it in its present state. For I suppose
no lord will think this a proper time to enter into a controversy with
the commons for the revival of those privileges to which I believe we
have a right, and such a controversy the least attempt to amend a
money bill will certainly produce.

To desire, therefore, my lords, that this bill may be considered in a
committee, is only to desire that it may gain one step without
opposition; that it may proceed through the forms of the house by
stealth, and that the consideration of it maybe delayed till the
exigencies of the government shall be so great as not to allow time
for raising the supplies by any other method.

By this artifice, gross as it is, the patrons of this wonderful bill
hope to obstruct a plain and open detection of its tendency. They
hope, my lords, that the bill shall operate in the same manner with
the liquor which it is intended to bring into more general use; and
that as those that drink spirits are drunk before they are well aware
that they are drinking, the effects of this law shall be perceived
before we know that we have made it. Their intent is to give us a dram
of policy, which is to be swallowed before it is tasted, and which,
when once it is swallowed, will turn our heads.

But, my lords, I hope we shall be so cautious as to examine the
draught which these state empirics have thought proper to offer us;
and I am confident that a very little examination will convince us of
the pernicious qualities of their new preparation, and show that it
can have no other effect than that of poisoning the publick.

The law before us, my lords, seems to be the effect of that practice,
of which it is intended likewise to be the cause, and to be dictated
by the liquor of which it so effectually promotes the use; for surely
it never before was conceived, by any man intrusted with the
administration of publick affairs, to raise taxes by the destruction
of the people.

Nothing, my lords, but the destruction of all the most laborious and
useful part of the nation can be expected, from the license which is
now proposed to be given not only to drunkenness, but to drunkenness
of the most detestable and dangerous kind, to the abuse not only of
intoxicating, but of poisonous liquors.

Nothing, my lords, is more absurd than to assert, that the use of
spirits will be hindered by the bill now before us, or indeed that it
will not be in a very great degree promoted by it. For what produces
all kind of wickedness, but the prospect of impunity on one part, or
the solicitation of opportunity on the other; either of these has too
frequently been sufficient to overpower the sense of morality, and
even of religion; and what is not to be feared from them, when they
shall unite their force, and operate together; when temptations shall
be increased, and terrour taken away?

It is allowed by those who have hitherto disputed on either side of
this question, that the people appear obstinately enamoured of this
new liquor; it is allowed on both parts, that this liquor corrupts the
mind, enervates the body, and destroys vigour and virtue at the same
time; that it makes those who drink it too idle and too feeble for
work; and, while it impoverishes them by the present expense, disables
them from retrieving its ill consequences by subsequent industry.

It might be imagined, my lords, that those who had thus far agreed
would not easily find any occasion of dispute; nor would any man,
unacquainted with the motives by which senatorial debates are too
often influenced, suspect, that after the pernicious qualities of this
liquor, and the general inclination among the people to the immoderate
use of it, had been generally admitted, it could be afterwards
inquired, whether it ought to be made more common, whether this
universal thirst for poison ought to be encouraged by the legislature,
and whether a new statute ought to be made to secure drunkards in the
gratification, of their appetites.

To pretend, my lords, that the design of this bill is to prevent or
diminish the use of spirits, is to trample upon common sense, and to
violate the rules of decency as well as of reason. For when did any
man hear, that a commodity was prohibited by licensing its sale? or
that to offer and refuse is the same action?

It is, indeed, pleaded, that it will be made dearer by the tax which
is proposed, and that the increase of the price will diminish the
numbers of the purchasers; but it is at the same time expected, that
this tax shall supply the expense of a war on the continent: it is
asserted, therefore, that the consumption of spirits will be hindered,
and yet that it will be such as may be expected to furnish, from a
very small tax, a revenue sufficient for the support of armies, for
the reestablishment of the Austrian family, and the repression of the
attempts of France.

Surely, my lords, these expectations are not very consistent, nor can
it be imagined that they are both formed in the same head, though they
may be expressed by the same mouth. It is, however, some
recommendation of a statesman, when of his assertions one can be found
reasonable or true; and this praise cannot be denied to our present
ministers; for though it is undoubtedly false, that this tax will
lessen the consumption of spirits, it is certainly true, that it will
produce a very large revenue, a revenue that will not fail but with
the people from whose debaucheries it arises.

Our ministers will, therefore, have the same honour with their
predecessors, of having given rise to a new fund, not indeed for the
payment of our debts, but for much more valuable purposes, for the
exaltation of our hearts under oppression, for the elevation of our
spirits amidst miscarriages and disappointments, and for the cheerful
support of those debts which we have lost hopes of paying. They are
resolved, my lords, that the nation, which nothing can make wise,
shall, while they are at its head, at least be merry; and since
publick happiness is the end of government, they seem to imagine that
they shall deserve applause by an expedient, which will enable every
man to lay his cares asleep, to drown sorrow, and lose in the delights
of drunkenness both the publick miseries and his own.

Surely, my lords, men of this unbounded benevolence, and this exalted
genius, deserve such honours as were never paid before; they deserve
to bestride a butt upon every signpost in the metropolis, or to have
their countenances exhibited as tokens where this liquor is to be
sold by the license which they have procured. They must be at least
remembered to future ages, as the happy politicians who, after all
expedients for raising taxes had been employed, discovered a new
method of draining the last relicks of the publick wealth, and added a
new revenue to the government; nor will those, who shall hereafter
enumerate the several funds now established among us, forget, among
the benefactors to their country, the illustrious authors of the
_drinking fund_.

May I be allowed, my lords, to congratulate my countrymen and
fellow-subjects upon the happy times which are now approaching, in
which no man will be disqualified for the privilege of being drunk,
when all discontent and disloyalty shall be forgotten, and the people,
though now considered by the ministry as their enemies, shall
acknowledge the lenity of that government, under which all restraints
are taken away.

But to a bill for such desirable purposes, it would be proper, my
lords, to prefix a preamble, in which the kindness of our intentions
should be more fully explained, that the nation may not mistake our
indulgence for cruelty, nor consider their benefactors as their
persecutors. If, therefore, this bill be considered and amended, (for
why else should it be considered?) in a committee, I shall humbly
propose, that it shall be introduced in this manner: "Whereas the
designs of the present ministry, whatever they are, cannot be executed
without a great number of mercenaries, which mercenaries cannot be
hired without money; and whereas the present disposition of this
nation to drunkenness inclines us to believe, that they will pay more
cheerfully for the undisturbed enjoyment of distilled liquors, than
for any other concession that can be made by the government, be it
enacted, by the king's most excellent majesty, that no man shall
hereafter be denied the right of being drunk, on the following

This, my lords, to trifle no longer, is the proper preamble to this
bill, which contains only the conditions on which the people of this
kingdom are to be allowed henceforward to riot in debauchery, in
debauchery licensed by law, and countenanced by the magistrates; for
there is no doubt but those on whom the inventors of this tax shall
confer authority, will be directed to assist their masters in their
design to encourage the consumption of that liquor from which such
large revenues are expected, and to multiply, without end, those
licenses which are to pay a yearly tribute to the crown.

By this unbounded license, my lords, that price will be lessened, from
the increase of which the expectations of the efficacy of this law are
pretended; for the number of retailers will lessen the value as in all
other cases, and lessen it more than this tax will increase it.
Besides, it is to be considered, that at present the retailer expects
to be paid for the danger which he incurs by an unlawful trade, and
will not trust his reputation or his purse to the mercy of his
customer, without a profit proportioned to the hazard; but when once
the restraint shall be taken away, he will sell for common gain; and
it can hardly be imagined, that at present he subjects himself to
informations and penalties for less than sixpence a gallon.

The specious pretence on which this bill is founded, and, indeed, the
only pretence that deserves to be termed specious, is the propriety of
taxing vice; but this maxim of government has, on this occasion, been
either mistaken or perverted. Vice, my lords, is not properly to be
taxed, but suppressed; and heavy taxes are sometimes the only means by
which that suppression can be attained. Luxury, my lords, or the
excess of that which is pernicious only by its excess, may very
properly be taxed, that such excess, though not strictly unlawful, may
be made more difficult. But the use of those things which are simply
hurtful, hurtful in their own nature, and in every degree, is to be
prohibited. None, my lords, ever heard in any nation of a tax upon
theft or adultery, because a tax implies a license granted for the use
of that which is taxed, to all who shall be willing to pay it.

Drunkenness, my lords, is universally and in all circumstances an
evil, and, therefore, ought not to be taxed, but punished; and the
means of it not to be made easy by a slight impost, which none can
feel, but to be removed out of the reach of the people, and secured by
the heaviest taxes, levied with the utmost rigour. I hope those to
whose care the religion of the nation is particularly consigned, will
unanimously join with me in maintaining the necessity, not of taxing
vice, but suppressing it; and unite for the rejection of a bill, by
which the future as well as present happiness of thousands must be

Lord LONSDALE spoke as follows:--My lords, the bill now before us,
has, from its first appearance in the other house, seemed to me of
such importance as to deserve the greatest attention, and to demand
the most diligent inquiry; and I have, therefore, considered it with
uncommon care, and pursued all those inquiries from which I could
expect any assistance for discovering its tendency and its
consequences, with the nicest and most anxious vigilance.

That my attention and diligence may not wholly terminate in the
gratification of idle and useless curiosity, it is proper to inform
your lordships of their result; by which I hope to convince you, as I
am myself convinced, that this bill cannot become a law, without
endangering the lives of thousands, without dispersing diseases over
the nation, or without multiplying crimes beyond the possibility of
restraint or punishment; that it will fill the land with confusion for
a time, by infatuating the people, and afterwards lay it desolate by
destroying them.

All my inquiries, my lords, have had one constant and uniform Effect.
On what side soever I have turned my speculations, I have found new
arguments against this bill, and have discovered new mischiefs
comprised in it; mischiefs which, however some may endeavour to
overlook them, and others to despise them, will be found in a short
time too general to be concealed, and too formidable to be neglected.

The first consideration, in which the necessity of deliberating on
this bill engaged me, related to the quality of the liquors which are
mentioned in it. With regard to this question, my lords, there was no
possibility of long suspense; for the pernicious effects of spirits
were confessed equally by all those who countenanced and opposed this
new project; nor could any man take a survey of this city without
meeting in his way such objects as might make all farther inquiry
superfluous. The idleness, the insolence, the debauchery of the common
people, and their natural and certain consequences, poverty, diseases,
misery, and wickedness, are to be observed without any intention of
indulging such disagreeable speculations; in every part of this great
metropolis, whoever shall pass along the streets, will find wretches
stretched upon the pavement, insensible and motionless, and only
removed by the charity of passengers from the danger of being crushed
by carriages, or trampled by horses, or strangled with filth in the
common sewers; and others, less helpless perhaps, but more dangerous,
who have drank too much to fear punishment, but not enough to hinder
them from provoking it; who think themselves, in the elevation of
drunkenness, entitled to treat all those with contempt whom their
dress distinguishes from them, and to resent every injury which, in
the heat of their imagination, they suppose themselves to suffer, with
the utmost rage of resentment, violence of rudeness, and scurrility of

No man can pass a single hour in publick places without meeting such
objects, or hearing such expressions as disgrace human nature; such as
cannot be looked upon without horrour, or heard without indignation,
and which there is, however, no possibility of removing or preventing,
whilst this hateful liquor is publickly sold. But the visible and
obvious effects of these pernicious draughts, however offensive or
inconvenient, are yet much less to be dreaded than their more slow and
secret operations. That excess of distilled spirits inflames the poor
to insolence and fury; that it exposes them either to hurt, by making
them insensible of danger, or to punishment, by making them fearless
of authority, is not to be reckoned the most fatal consequence of
their use; for these effects, though their frequency makes it
necessary to suppress them, with regard to each individual are of no
long duration; the understanding is in a short time recovered after a
single debauch, and the drunkard may return to his employment.

But though the pleasures of drunkenness are quickly at an end, its
pains are of longer continuance. These liquors not only infatuate the
mind, but poison the body; nor do they produce only momentary fury,
but incurable debility and lingering diseases; they not only fill our
streets with madmen, and our prisons with criminals, but our hospitals
with cripples. Those who have for a time infested the publick walks
with their insults, quickly disturb them with their lamentations, and
are soon reduced from bullies to beggars, and obliged to solicit alms
from those they used to threaten and insult.

Nor does the use of spirits, my lords, only impoverish the publick, by
lessening the number of useful and laborious hands, but by cutting off
those recruits by which its natural and inevitable losses are to be
supplied. The use of distilled liquors impairs the fecundity of the
human race, and hinders that increase which providence has ordained
for the support of the world. Those women who riot in this poisonous
debauchery are quickly disabled from bearing children, by bringing on
themselves, in a short time, all the infirmities and weaknesses of
age; or, what is yet more destructive to general happiness, produce
children diseased from their birth by the vices of their parents,
children whose blood is tainted with inveterate and accumulated
maladies, for which no cure can be expected;'and who, therefore, are
an additional burden to the community, and must be supported through a
miserable life by that labour which they cannot share, and must be
protected by that community of which they cannot contribute to the

Thus, my lords, is the great source of power and wealth dried up, the
numbers of the people are every day diminished, and, by consequence,
our armies must be weakened, our trade abandoned, and our lands
uncultivated. To diminish the people of any nation is the most
atrocious political crime that it is possible to commit; for it tends
not to enslave or impoverish, but to annihilate; not to make a nation
miserable, but to make it no longer a nation.

Such, my lords, are the effects of distilled liquors; effects of which
I would not have shocked you with the enumeration, had it not been
with a design of preventing them; and surely no man will be charged
with so trivial an offence as negligence of delicacy, when he is
pleading, not for the honour or the life of a single man, but for the
peace of the present age, the health of posterity, and the existence
of the British people.

After having examined the nature of these liquors, it is natural to
inquire, how much they are in use; whether mankind appear to know
their quality, and avoid and detest them like other poisons; or
whether they are considered as inoffensive, and drank, like other
liquors, to raise the spirits, or to gladden the heart; whether they
make part of social entertainments, and whether they are handed round
at publick tables, without any suspicion of their fatal consequences.

It is well known, my lords, that these liquors have not been long in
use among the common people. Spirits were at first only imported from
foreign countries, and were, by consequence, too dear for the luxuries
of the vulgar. In time it was discovered, that it was practicable to
draw from grain, and other products of our own soil, such liquors as,
though not equally pleasing to elegant palates with those of other
nations, resembled them, at least in their inebriating quality, and
might be afforded at an easy rate, and consequently generally

This discovery, my lords, gave rise to the new trade of distilling,
which has been now for many years carried on in this nation, and of
the progress of which, since the duties were laid upon its produce, an
exact account may be easily obtained, which I thought so necessary in
our deliberations on this bill, that I have procured it to be drawn

From this account, my lords, it will be discovered, what cannot be
related without the utmost grief, that there has prevailed, for many
years, a kind of contagious infatuation among the common people, by
which they have been incited to poison themselves and their children
with distilled spirits; they have forsaken those liquors which in
former times enlivened their conversation and exalted their merriment,
and, instead of ale and beer, rioted of late in distilled spirits.

The amazing increase of the consumption of spirits for the last ten
years, is a proof too evident of the prevalence of this destructive
species of drunkenness; and I shall, therefore, without troubling your
lordships with earlier accounts, only mention in round numbers, the
vast quantities for which the duty has been paid for a few years in
that period. In the year 1733, the number of gallons distilled was
three millions and nine hundred thousand, which in 1735 was increased
to five millions and three hundred thousand; soon afterwards the law
was made which we are now persuaded to repeal, by the execution of
which, however feeble and irresolute, the number was reduced in the
first year afterwards to three millions, and might, perhaps, by steady
perseverance have been every year lessened; but in a short time the
people prevailed in the contest with the legislators, they intimidated
information, and wearied prosecution; and were at length allowed to
indulge themselves in the enjoyment of their favourite vice without
any farther molestation.

The effects of this indulgence, my lords, have been very remarkable;
nor can it be denied, that the government betrayed great weakness in
suffering the laws to be overruled by drunkenness, and the meanest and
most profligate of the people to set the statutes at defiance; for the
vice which had been so feebly opposed spread wider and wider, and
every year added regularly another million of gallons to the quantity
of spirits distilled, till in the last year they rose to seven
millions and one hundred thousand gallons.

Such, my lords, is at present the state of the nation; twelve millions
of gallons of these poisonous liquors are every year swallowed by the
inhabitants of this kingdom; and this quantity, enormous as it is,
will probably every year increase, till the number of the people shall
be sensibly diminished by the diseases which it must produce; nor
shall we find any decay of this pernicious trade, but by the general
mortality that will overspread the kingdom.

At least, if this vice should be suppressed, it must be suppressed by
some supernatural interposition of providence; for nothing is more
absurd, than to imagine, that the bill now before us can produce any
such effect. For what, my lords, encourages any man to a crime but
security from punishment, or what tempts him to the commission of it
but frequent opportunity? We are, however, about to reform the
practice of drinking spirits, by making spirits more easy to be
procured; we are about to hinder them from being bought, by exempting
the vender from all fear of punishment.

It has, indeed, been asserted, that the tax now to be laid upon these
liquors will have such wonderful effects, that those who are at
present drunk twice a-day, will not be henceforward able to commit the
same crime twice a-week; an assertion which I could not hear without
wondering at the new discoveries which ministerial sagacity can
sometimes make. In deliberations on a subject of such importance, my
lords, no man ought to content himself with conjecture, where
certainty may, at whatsoever expense of labour, be attained; nor ought
any man to neglect a careful and attentive examination of his notions,
before he offers them in publick consultations; for if they were
erroneous, and no man can he certain that he is in the right, who has
never brought his own opinions to the test of inquiry, he exposes
himself to be detected in ignorance or temerity, and to that contempt
which such detection naturally and justly produces; or if his audience
submit their reason to his authority, and neglect to examine his
assertions, in confidence that he has sufficiently examined them
himself, he may suffer what to an honest mind must be far more painful
than any personal ignominy, he may languish under the consciousness of
having influenced the publick counsels by false declarations, and
having by his negligence betrayed his country to calamities which a
closer attention might have enabled him to have foreseen.

Whether the noble lord, who alleged the certainty of reformation which
this bill will produce, ever examined his own opinion, I know not; but
think it necessary at least to consider it more particularly, to
supply that proof of it which, if it be true, he neglected to produce,
or to show, if it be found false, how little confident assertions are
to be regarded.

Between twice a-day and twice a-week, the noble lord will not deny the
proportion to be as seven to one; and, therefore, to prevent
drunkenness in the degree which he persuades us to expect, the price
of the liquor must be raised in the same proportion; but the duty laid
upon the gallon will not increase the price a fifth part, even though
it should not be eluded by distilling liquors of an extraordinary
strength; one fifth part of the price is, therefore, in his lordship's
estimate, equal to the whole price seven times multiplied. Such are
the arguments which have been produced in favour of this bill; and
such is the diligence with which the publick happiness is promoted by
those who have hopes of being enriched by publick calamities.

As the tax will not make a fifth part of the price, and even that may
be in some measure evaded, the duty paid for licenses scarcely
deserves consideration; for it is not intended to hinder retailers,
but to make them useful in some degree to the ministry, by paying a
yearly tax for the license of poisoning.

It is, therefore, apparent, upon the noble lord's supposition, that
the price of the liquor will be raised in consequence of this tax,
that no man can be hindered from more than a fifth part of his usual
debauchery, which, however, would be some advantage to the publick;
but even this small advantage cannot be expected from the bill,
because one part will obstruct the benefits that might be hoped from

The duty upon liquors, however inconsiderable, will be necessarily an
augmentation of the price to the first buyer, but probably that
augmentation will be very little felt by the consumer. For, my lords,
it must be considered, that many circumstances concur to constitute
the price of any commodity; the price of what is in itself cheap, may
be raised by the art or the condition of those that sell it; what is
engrossed by a few hands, is sold dearer than when the same quantity
is dispersed in many; and what is sold in security, and under the
protection of the law, is cheaper than that which exposes the vender
to prosecutions and penalties.

At present, my lords, distilled spirits are sold in opposition to the
laws of the kingdom; and, therefore, it is reasonable, as has been
before observed, to believe that an extraordinary profit is expected,
because no man will incur danger without advantage. It is at present
retailed, for the greatest part, by indigent persons, who cannot be
supposed to buy it in large quantities, and, consequently, not at the
cheapest rate; and who must, of necessity, gain a large profit,
because they are to subsist upon a very small stock.

These causes concurring, may be easily imagined to raise the price
more than a fifth part above the profit which is expected in other
traffick; but when this bill shall become a law, the necessity of
large profit will no longer subsist; for there will then be no danger
in retailing spirits, and they will be chiefly sold in houses by
persons who can afford to purchase them in great quantities, who can
be trusted by the distiller, for the usual time allowed in other
trades; and who, therefore, may sell them without any exorbitant

Besides, my lords, it is reasonable to imagine, that the present
profit to the retailer is very great, since, like that which arises
from the clandestine exportation of wool, it is sufficient to tempt
multitudes to a breach of the law, a contempt of penalties, and a
defiance of the magistrates; and it may be therefore imagined, that
there is room for a considerable abatement of the price, which may
subtract much more than is added by this new duty.

This deduction from the price, my lords, will probably be soon
produced by the emulation of retailers, who, when the trade becomes
safe and publick, will endeavour to attract buyers by low rates; for
what the noble lord, whose ingenious assertion I am now opposing, has
declared with respect to traders, that for a tax of a penny upon any
commodity, they oblige the consumers to advance twopence, is not
universally true; and I believe it is as likely, that the people will
insist upon having the same liquor at the usual price, without regard
to the tax, as that the venders will be able to raise their price in
an unreasonable proportion. The obstinacy of the people with regard to
this liquor, my lords, has already appeared; and I am inclined to
believe, that they who have confessedly conquered the legislature,
will not suffer themselves to be overcome in the same cause by the
avarice of alehouse keepers.

I am, therefore, confident, my lords, that this bill will produce no
beneficial effects, even in this city; and that in the country, where
the sale of spirits was hindered by the late law, or where, at least,
it might have been hindered in a great measure, it will propagate
wickedness and debauchery in a degree never yet known; the torrent of
licentiousness will break at once upon it, and a sudden freedom from
restraint will produce a wanton enjoyment of privileges which had
never been thought so valuable, had they never been taken away. Thus,
while the crowds of the capital are every day thinned by the licensed
distributors of poison, the country, which is to be considered as the
nursery in which the human species is chiefly propagated, will be made
barren; and that race of men will be intercepted, which is to defend
the liberty of the neighbouring nations in the next age, which is to
extend our commerce to other kingdoms, or repel the encroachments of
future usurpation.

The bill, my lords, will, therefore, produce none of the advantages
which those who promote it have had the confidence to promise the
publick. But let us now examine whether they have not been more
sagacious in securing the benefits which they expect from it

That one of the intentions of it is to raise a sum to supply the
present exigencies of the government is not denied; that this is the
only intention is generally believed, and believed upon the strongest
reasons; for it is the only effect which it can possibly produce; and
to this end it is calculated with all the skill of men long versed in
the laudable art of contriving taxes and of raising money.

I have already shown to your lordships, that seven millions of gallons
of spirits are annually distilled in this kingdom; this consumption,
at the small duty of sixpence a gallon, now to be imposed, will
produce a yearly revenue of L175,000. and the tax upon licenses may be
rated at a very large sum; so that there is a fund sufficient, I hope,
for the expenses which a land war is to bring upon us.

But we are not to forget, my lords, that this is only the produce of
the first year, and that the tax is likely to afford every year a
larger revenue. As the consumption of those liquors, under its late
discouragements, has advanced a million of gallons every year, it may
be reasonably imagined, that by the countenance of the legislature,
and the protection of authority, it will increase in a double
proportion; and that in ten years more, twenty millions will be
distilled every year for the destruction of the people.

Thus far, my lords, the scheme of the ministry appears prosperous; but
all prosperity, at least all the prosperity of dishonesty, must in
time have an end. The practice of drinking cannot be for ever
continued, because it will hurry the present generation to the grave,
and prevent the production of another; the revenue must cease with the
consumption, and the consumption must be at an end when the consumers
are destroyed.

But this, my lords, cannot speedily happen, nor have our ministers any
dread of miseries which are only to fall in distant times upon another
generation. It is sufficient for them, if their expedient can supply
those exigencies which their counsels have brought upon the publick;
if they pay their court to the crown with success, at whatever
disadvantage to the people, and continue in power till they have
enlarged their fortunes, and then without punishment retire to enjoy

But I hope, my lords, that we shall act upon very different
principles; that we shall examine the most distant consequences of our
resolutions, and consider ourselves, not as the agents of the crown to
levy taxes, but as the guardians of the people to promote the publick
happiness; that we shall always remember that happiness can be
produced only by virtue; and that since this bill can tend only to the
increase of debauchery, we shall, without the formality of a
commitment, unanimously reject it with indignation and abhorrence.

Lord CARTERET spoke to the following effect:--My lords, the bill now
before us has been examined with the utmost acuteness, and opposed
with all the arts of eloquence and argumentation; nor has any topick
been forgotten that could speciously be employed against it. It has
been represented by some as contrary to policy, and by others as
opposite to religion; its consequences have been displayed with all
the confidence of prediction, and the motives upon which it has been
formed, declared to be such as I hope every man abhors who projected
or defends it.

It has been asserted, that this bill owes its existence only to the
necessity of raising taxes for the support of unnecessary troops, to
be employed in useless and dangerous expeditions; and that those who
defend it have no regard to the happiness or virtue of the people, nor
any other design than to raise supplies, and gratify the ministry.

In pursuance of this scheme of argument, the consequences of this bill
have been very artfully deduced, and very copiously explained; and it
has been asserted that by passing it, we shall show ourselves the
patrons of vice, the defenders of debauchery, and the promoters of

It has been declared, that in consequence of this law, by which the
use of distilled liquors is intended to be restrained, the retailers
of them will be multiplied, and multiplied without end; till the
corruption, which is already too extensive, is become general, and the
nation is transformed into a herd of drunkards.

With regard to the uses to which the money which shall arise from this
tax is to be applied, though it has been more than once mentioned in
this debate, I shall pass it over, as without any connexion with the
question before us. To confound different topicks may be useful to
those whose design is to impose upon the inattention or weakness of
their opponents, as they may be enabled by it to alter sometimes the
state of the controversy, and to hide their fallacies in perplexity
and confusion; but always to be avoided by those who endeavour to
discover and to establish truth, who dispute not to confound but to
convince, and who intend not to disturb the publick deliberations, but
assist them.

I shall, therefore, my lords, only endeavour to show that the
consequence, of which some lords express, and I believe with
sincerity, such dreadful apprehensions, is not in reality to be feared
from this bill; that it will probably promote the purpose for which it
is declared to be calculated, and that it will by no means produce
that havock in the human species which seems to be suspected, or
diffuse that corruption through the people which has been confidently

The present state of this vice, my lords, has been fully explained, as
well by those who oppose the bill as by those who defend it. The use
of distilled liquors is now prohibited by a penal law, but the
execution of this law, as of all others of the same kind, necessarily
supposes a regular information of the breach of it to be laid before
the magistrate. The people consider this law, however just or
necessary, as an act of the most tyrannical cruelty, which ought to be
opposed with the utmost steadiness and vigour, as an insupportable
hardship from which they ought at any rate to set themselves free.

They have determined, therefore, not to be governed by this law, and
have, consequently, endeavoured to hinder its execution; and so
vigorous have been their efforts, that they have at last prevailed. At
first they only opposed it by their perseverance and obstinacy, they
resolved to persist in the practice of retailing liquors without
regard to the penalties which they might incur by it; and, therefore,
as one was put to prison, his place was immediately supplied by
another; and so frequent were the informations and so fruitless the
penalties, that the chief magistrate of the metropolis lamented
publickly in the other house, the unpleasing necessity to which he was
subjected by that law, of fining and imprisoning without end, and
without hopes of procuring the reformation that was intended. Thus
they proceeded for some time, and appeared to hope that the
magistrates would after a while connive at a practice, which they
should find no degree of severity sufficient to suppress; that they
would sink under the fatigue of punishing to no purpose, that they
would by degrees relax their vigilance, and leave the people in quiet
possession of that felicity which they appeared to rate at so high a

At length, my lords, instead of wearying the magistrates, they grew
weary themselves, and determined no longer to bear persecution for
their enjoyments, but to resist that law which they could not evade,
and to which they would not submit. They, therefore, determined to
mark out all those who by their informations promoted its execution,
as publick enemies, as wretches who, for the sake of a reward, carried
on a trade of perjury and persecution, and who harassed their innocent
neighbours only for carrying on a lawful employment for supplying the
wants of the poor, relieving the weariness of the labourer,
administering solace to the dejected, and cordials to the sick.

The word was, therefore, given that no informer should be spared; and
when an offender was summoned by the civil officers, crowds watched at
the door of the magistrate to rescue the prisoner, and to discover and
seize the witness upon whose testimony he was convicted; and
unfortunate was the wretch who, with the imputation of this crime upon
him, fell into their hands; it is well remembered by every man who at
that time was conversant in this city, with what outcries of vengeance
an informer was pursued in the publick streets, and in the open day;
with what exclamations of triumph he was seized, and with what rage of
cruelty he was tormented.

One instance of their fury I very particularly remember: as a man was
passing along the streets, the alarm was given that he was an informer
against the retailers of spirituous liquors, the populace were
immediately gathered as in a time of common danger, and united in the
pursuit as of a beast of prey, which it was criminal not to destroy;
the man discovered, either by consciousness or intelligence, his
danger, and fled for his life with the utmost precipitation; but no
housekeeper durst afford him shelter, the cry increased upon him on
all hands, and the populace rolled on after him with a torrent not to
be resisted; and he was upon the point of being overtaken, and like
some others destroyed, when one of the greatest persons in the nation,
hearing the tumult, and inquiring the reason, opened his doors to the
distressed fugitive, and sheltered him from a cruel death.

Soon afterwards there was a stop put to all information; no man dared
afterwards, for the sake of a reward, expose himself to the fury of
the people, and the use of these destructive liquors was no longer
obstructed. How much the practice of this kind of debauchery
prevailed, after this short restraint, and how much the consumption of
these destructive liquors has increased, the noble lord who spoke last
has very accurately informed us, nor can any argument be offered for
the present bill more strong than that which his computations have
already furnished.

For if it appears, my lords, and it cannot be doubted after such
authentick testimonies, that seven millions of gallons of spirits are
every year consumed in this kingdom, and that of these far the
greatest quantity is wasted in the most flagitious and destructive
debauchery; it is surely at length necessary to consider by what means
this consumption, which cannot be stopped, may be lessened, and this
vice obstructed, which cannot be reformed.

By opening a sufficient number of licensed shops, the number of
unlicensed retailers will be necessarily lessened, and by raising the
price of the liquor, the quantity which the poor drink must, with
equal certainty, be diminished; and as it cannot be imagined that the
number of those who will pay annually for licenses, can be equal to
that of the petty traders, who now dispose of spirits in cellars and
in the streets; it is reasonable to believe that since there will be
fewer sellers, less will be sold.

Some lords have, indeed, declared their suspicion, that the number of
licensed shops will be such as will endanger the health of the people,
and the peace of the commonwealth; and one has so far indulged his
imagination, as to declare that he expects fifteen hundred shops to be
set open for the sale of spirits, in a short time after the
publication of this law.

If it be answered, that no spirits can be sold but by those who keep a
house of publick entertainment by a license from the justices of the
peace, the opponents of the bill have a reply ready, that the justices
will take all opportunities to promote the increase of the revenue,
and will always grant a license when it is demanded, without regard to
the mischiefs that may arise from the increase of the retreats of
idleness and receptacles of vice; and that, therefore, to allow
justices to grant licenses for the retail of any commodity upon which
a tax is laid, is to permit the sale of it without limits.

But, my lords, this argument will vanish, when it is considered that
those justices to whom the law commits the superintendency of
publick-houses, are superintended themselves by men who derive their
authority from a higher power, and whose censures are more formidable
than judicial penalties. The conduct of the justices, my lords, as of
every other person, lies open to the observation of the reverend
clergy, by whose counsels it is to be regulated, and by whose
admonitions it ought to be reformed; admonitions which cannot be
supposed to be without force from men to whom the great province of
preaching virtue and truth is committed, and whose profession is so
much reverenced, that reputation and infamy are generally in their

Should the justices, my lords, abuse their authority, either for the
increase of the revenue, or any other purpose, what could they expect
but to be marked out on the next day of publick worship for reproach
and derision? What could they hope but that their crimes should be
displayed in the most odious view to their neighbours, their children,
and their dependants; and that all those from whom nature or interest
teaches them to desire friendship, reverence, or esteem, will be
taught to consider them as the slaves of power and the agents of
villany, as the propagators of debauchery, and the enemies of mankind?

There is, therefore, my lords, reason to hope that the bill may be
useful, because it will be hindered from being detrimental; and as
there is an absolute necessity of doing something, and no better
method can at present be proposed, I think this ought not to be
rejected. We have found by experience that the publick is not to be
reformed at once, and that the progress from corruption to reformation
must be gradual; and as this bill enforces some degrees of amendment,
it is at least more eligible than the present law, which is wholly
without effect, because no man will dare to put it in execution.

Every man must be convinced, by his own experience, of the difficulty
with-which long habits are surmounted. I myself suffer some indulgence
which yet I cannot prevail upon myself to forbear; this indulgence is
the use of too much snuff, to which it is well known that many persons
of rank are not less addicted; and, therefore, I do not wonder that
the law is ineffectual, which is to encounter with the habits and
appetites of the whole mass of the common people.

For this reason, my lords, I cannot approve what has been recommended
in this debate, any new law that may put the enjoyment of this liquor
yet farther from them, by facilitating prosecutions, or enforcing
penalties, as I am convinced that the natural force of the people is
superiour to the law, and that their natural force will be exerted for
the defence of their darling spirits, and the whole nation be shaken
with universal sedition.

It has been objected by the noble lord, that the tax now proposed is
such as never was raised in any government, because, though luxury may
confessedly be taxed, vice ought to be constantly suppressed; and
this, in his lordship's opinion, is a tax upon vice.

His lordship's distinction between luxury and vice, between the use of
things unlawful, and the excess of things lawful, is undoubtedly just,
but by no means applicable on this occasion; nor, indeed, has the
noble lord, with all his art, been able to apply it; for he was
obliged to change the terms in his argument; and, instead of calling
this tax, a tax upon strong liquors, to stigmatize it with the odious
appellation of a tax upon drunkenness.

To call any thing what it really is not, and then to censure it, is
very easy; too easy, my lords, to be done with success. To confute the
argument it is only necessary to observe, that this tax is not a tax
upon drunkenness, but a tax laid upon strong liquors for the
prevention of drunkenness; and, by consequence, such as falls within
the compass of his own definition.

That it is not a tax upon luxury cannot be inferred from the indigence
of those whom it is intended to reform; for luxury is, my lords, _ad
modum possidentis_, of different kinds, in proportion to different
conditions of life, and one man may very decently enjoy those
delicacies or pleasures to which it would be foolish and criminal in
another to aspire. Whoever spends upon superfluities what he must want
for the necessities of life, is luxurious; and excess, therefore, of
distilled spirits may be termed, with the utmost propriety, the luxury
of the poor.

This, my lords, appeared to be the opinion of the noble lord who spoke
so copiously on this question at the beginning of the debate; of this
opinion was the reverend prelate when he observed, that _necessity
itself was become luxurious_, and of this opinion must every man be
who advises such a duty to be laid upon these liquors as may at once
debar the poor from the use of them; for such a proposal evidently
supposes them unnecessary, and all enjoyment of things not necessary
is a degree of luxury.

To tax this luxury, which is, perhaps, the most pernicious of all
others, is now proposed; but it is proposed to tax it only to suppress
it, to suppress it by such slow degrees as may be borne by the people;
and I hope a law so salutary will not be opposed only because it may
afford the government a present supply.

The duke of NEWCASTLE then rose up, and spoke to the following
effect:--My lords, I am of opinion that this debate would have been
much shorter, had not the noble lords who have spoken in it suffered
themselves to be led away, either by their own zeal, or the zeal of
their opponents, from the true state of the question, to which I shall
take the liberty of recalling their attention, that this important
controversy may have at length an end.

The point, the only point that is, in my opinion, now to be
considered, is this: the people of this nation have for some time
practised a most pernicious and hateful kind of debauchery; against
which several laws have been already made, which experience has shown
to be so far without effect, that the disorder has every year
increased among them; [while the duke was speaking, the bishop of
ORFORD said, without intention to be overheard, "Yes, that is the true
state of the case," upon which the duke stopped, and asked whether his
lordship had any objection to make, who answered that he had no design
of interrupting him; and he, therefore, proceeded.] A new law,
therefore, is proposed, less severe, indeed, than the former, but
which it is hoped will be for that reason more efficacious; this law
having passed through the other house, is now, in the common course of
our procedure, to be considered by us in a committee.

We are now, my lords, therefore, to resolve, whether a bill for the
reformation of this flagrant vice deserves any farther deliberation,
whether we shall join with the other house in their endeavours to
restore the ancient sobriety and virtue of the British people, or, by
an open disapprobation of their attempt, discourage them from
prosecuting their design, and debar them from using the opportunities
that succeeding years may afford, and the new lights which experience
may supply for improving this essay, however imperfect, to a salutary
and unexceptionable law.

The prelates whose laudable zeal for the promotion of virtue has
prompted them to distinguish themselves on this occasion by an
uncommon warmth of opposition, ought, as they appear fully sensible of
the calamities which intemperance brings upon mankind, to consider
likewise the consequences of refusing to examine, in a committee, a
bill professedly drawn up to restrain intemperance. They ought to
remember, that by rejecting this bill without a particular examination
of the several clauses which it contains, and without those particular
objections which such examinations necessarily produce, we shall
discover a contempt of the wisdom or virtue of the other house, which
may incline them in their turn to obstruct the measures of the
government, or at least to neglect that evil, however great, for the
redress of which they have no reason to expect our concurrence.

Those whose particular province it is to inspect the lives of the
people, to recal them from vice, and strengthen them in virtue, should
certainly reflect on this occasion, that the safest method ought to be
chosen; and, therefore, that this bill ought to be promoted; because,
not to affirm too much, it is possible that it may produce some degree
of reformation; and the worst that can be feared is, that, like the
present law, it will be ineffectual; for the corruption and
licentiousness of the people are already such, that nothing can
increase them.

The bishop of SARUM then spoke to the following purpose:--My lords, I
am so far from being convinced by the arguments of the noble duke,
that the bill now before us ought to be committed without farther
opposition, that, in my opinion, nothing can be more unworthy of the
honour of this house, or more unsuitable to the character which those
who sit on this bench ought to desire, than to agree to any vote which
may have the most distant appearance of approbation.

That a bill drawn up for the reformation of manners, for the restraint
of a predominant and destructive vice, for the promotion of virtue,
and the enforcement of religion, ought, at least, to be calmly and
particularly considered; that the laudable endeavours of the commons
ought not to be discouraged by a precipitate and contemptuous
rejection of the measures which they have formed for the attainment of
a purpose so important, is, indeed, a specious and plausible method of
persuasion; but, my lords, it can affect only those who come to
deliberate upon this bill without having read it.

A very slight and cursory perusal of the bill, my lords, will
dissipate all the mists which eloquence can raise; it will show that
the law now proposed can neither be useful nor ineffectual, but that
it must operate very powerfully, though in a manner by no means
agreeable to its title.

To prevent the excessive use of any thing, by allowing it to be sold
without restraint, is an expedient which the wisdom of no former age
ever discovered; it is, indeed, a fallacy too gross to be admitted,
even by the most inconsiderate negligence, or the most contemptuous
stupidity; nor am I at all inclined to believe, that the commons will
impute the rejection of this bill to our disregard of virtue, or think
that we have defeated any endeavours for the suppression of

It has been affirmed, that though by the bill the sale is permitted,
it is permitted only because it cannot be hindered; and that the price
is raised so high, that, though the lawful venders may be multiplied,
the number of the purchasers must be diminished. But even this
argument, like all others that have yet been advanced, is confuted by
the bill itself, from which the tax now proposed appears to be such
as, when subdivided by the small measures in which retailers sell
these liquors, will scarcely be perceived, and which, though it may
enrich the government, will not impoverish the people, except by
destroying their health, and enervating their limbs.

The tax, my lords, even supposing it paid without any method of
evasion, is so low, that in a quarter of a pint, the quantity which
the lower people usually demand at once, it does not amount to any
denomination of money; and so small an addition will be easily
overbalanced by the sale of a larger quantity than formerly; for it
cannot be doubted but the practice which prevailed in opposition to
the law, will grow yet more predominant by its encouragement; and
that, therefore, the advantage of a large and quick sale, will lessen
the price more than so slight a tax can possibly increase it.

The noble duke has endeavoured to reduce us to difficulties, by
urging, that since the corruption of the people cannot be greater, we
ought willingly to agree to any law, of which the title declares that
it is intended to produce a reformation, because the worst that can be
feared is, that it may be without effect.

But, my lords, such is the enormous absurdity of this bill, that no
plea can be offered for it with the least appearance of reason; and
the greatest abilities, when they are exerted in its defence, are able
only to show, by fruitless efforts, that it cannot be vindicated. If
the state of the nation be really such as has been supposed, if the
most detestable and odious vice has overspread the kingdom to its
utmost limits, if the people are universally abandoned to drunkenness,
sloth, and villany, what can be more absurd than to trifle with
doubtful experiments, and to make laws which must be suspected of
inefficacy? In the diseases of the state, as in those of the body, the
force of the remedy ought to be proportioned to the strength and
danger of the disease; and surely no political malady can be more
formidable than the prevalence of wickedness, nor can any time require
more firmness, vigilance, and activity, in the legislative power.

That the law, therefore, may be without effect, is, in the present
state of corruption, if it has been truly represented, a sufficient
reason for rejecting it, without allowing it to be committed; because
there is now no time for indulgence, or for delays; a nation
universally corrupt, must be speedily reformed, or speedily ruined.
Those habits which have been confessed to be already too powerful for
the laws now in being, may in a short time be absolutely irresistible;
and that licentiousness which intimidates the officers of justice, may
in another year insult the legislature.

But, my lords, I am yet willing to hope that the noble duke's account
of the wickedness of the people, was rather a rhetorical exaggeration,
uttered in the ardour of dispute, than a strict assertion of facts;
and am of opinion that, though vice has, indeed, of late spread its
contagion with great rapidity, there are yet great numbers uninfected,
and cannot believe that our condition is such as that nothing can make
it more miserable.

In many parts of the country, my lords, these liquors have not yet
been much used, nor is it likely that those who have never sold them,
when the law allowed them, will begin an unnecessary trade, when it
will expose them to penalties. But a new law in favour of spirits will
produce a general inclination, and a kind of emulation will incite
every one to take a license for the retail of this new liquor; and so
every part of the kingdom will be equally debauched, and no place will
be without a vender of statutable poison. The luxury of the vulgar,
for luxury, in my opinion, it may very properly be called, will still
increase, and vices and diseases will increase with it.

There is at least one part of the nation yet untainted, a part which
deserves the utmost care of the legislature, and which must be
endangered by a law like this before us. The children, my lords, to
whom the affairs of the present generation must be transferred, and by
whom the nation must be continued, are surely no ignoble part of the
publick. They are yet innocent, and it is our province to take care
that they may in time be virtuous; we ought, therefore, to remove from
before them those examples that may infect, and those temptations that
may corrupt them. We ought to reform their parents, lest they should
imitate them; and to destroy those provocatives to vice, by which the
present generation has been intoxicated, lest they should with equal
force operate upon the next.

There is, therefore, no occasion, my lords, for any farther
deliberation upon this bill; which, if the nation be yet in any part
untainted, will infect it; and if it be universally corrupted, will
have no tendency to amend it; and which we ought, for these reasons to
reject, that our abhorrence of vice may be publickly known, and that
no part of the calamities which wickedness must produce, may be
imputed to us.

Lord DELAWARE then spoke to the following effect:--My lords, as I am
entirely of opinion that a more accurate examination of this bill will
evince its usefulness and propriety to many of the lords who are now
most ardent in opposing it, I cannot but think it necessary to
consider it in a committee.

It is to be remembered, my lords, that this bill is intended for two
purposes of very great importance to the publick; it is designed that
the liberties of mankind shall be secured by the same provisions by
which the vices of our own people are to be reclaimed, and supplies
for carrying on the war shall be raised by a reformation of the
manners of the people.

This, my lords, is surely a great and generous design; this is a
complication of publick benefits, worthy the most exalted virtue, and
the most refined policy; and though a bill in which views so distant
are to be reconciled, should appear not to be absolutely perfect, it
must yet be allowed to deserve regard; nor ought we to reject, without
very cautious deliberation, any probable method of reforming the
nation, or any easy way of raising supplies.

The encroachment of usurpation without, and the prevalence of vice
within, is a conjunction of circumstances very dangerous; and to
remove both by the same means, is an undertaking that surely cannot
deserve either censure or contempt: if it succeeds, it may demand the
loudest acclamations; and if it fails, must be at least approved.

The use, my lords, of spirituous liquors, though in the excess now so
frequently to be observed, undoubtedly detrimental to multitudes, is
not, in a proper degree, either criminal or unwholesome; and,
therefore, ought not to be prohibited by a tax so heavy as has been
proposed by a noble lord, who, if he pursues his reasoning, must
propose to tax in the same proportion every other liquor that can
administer to vice.

It is, however, certain, that too much is wasted in riot and
debauchery; and that, therefore, some addition to the price of this
liquor ought to be made, that, though the use of it may be continued,
the excess may be restrained.

What will be the effects of this bill, and whether either of these
benefits are to be expected from it, can be known only by an impartial
examination; and therefore it ought to be discussed with that accuracy
which is peculiar to a committee.

Lord LONSDALE here got up again, and spoke to this purpose:--My lords,
that a bill which shall restrain the excess of drinking distilled
liquors without hindering their moderate use, will deserve the
applause of every lover of his country, I cannot deny; but that any
such bill can be contrived, may very justly be doubted; for in
proportion to their price they will always be used, and nothing can
hinder excess but a high tax, such as I have already proposed.

The bill now before us, my lords, will, indeed, by no means obstruct
the moderate use, because it will give an unbounded license to the
most luxurious excess; if, therefore, nothing more be intended in the
committee, than to consider how far this bill will promote the
reformation of the people, it is surely not necessary to engage in any
farther inquiries.

It has appeared already, to those who do not obstinately shut their
eyes, that there is in it no provision for the prevention of that
abuse of spirits which universally prevails. It has appeared, that the
cheapness of licenses will not hinder the present retailers from
carrying on an illegal trade; that information will not now be more
safe or more frequent than before, and that the duty, if not in part
evaded, may yet be probably abated from the present profits of the

It has appeared, my lords, that no effect can be produced by this bill
but the promotion of debauchery, the increase of drunkenness, the
subversion of order, and the decay of industry; the miseries of
disease, and the rage of want.

But that this bill will not produce, at least for some time, a large
addition to the publick revenues, has not yet been proved; and while
it is allowed that it will raise money, I do not wonder to hear it
steadily defended, because nothing more is expected from it. But as I
have not yet conversed enough with statesmen to persuade myself that
the government ought to be supported by means contrary to the end for
which government is instituted, I am still convinced that this bill
ought to be rejected with contempt, because it will lessen the wealth
of the nation without any equivalent advantage, and will at once
impoverish the people, and corrupt them.

Lord ISLAY then spoke to this effect:--My lords, I cannot but be of
opinion that this debate has been carried on with a vehemence by no
means necessary, and that the question has been perplexed by a
mistaken zeal, that the effects of this bill have been exaggerated,
perhaps, on both sides, and that the opinions which have been formed
with relation to it, are not really so opposite as they appear.

Those who oppose the bill, think the duty upon spirits not so high as
to hinder that debauchery which so much prevails among us; and those
that vindicate it, declare that more violent restraints will not be
borne. Both parties have reason, and the vindicators of the bill have,
likewise, experience on their side.

But, my lords, though severe restraints suddenly opposed to the habits
and inclinations of the people, operating in their full force, may be
broken through by restless struggles and obstinate resistance, yet a
diminution of those gratifications will be borne which cannot wholly
be taken away, and the same laws, introduced by proper degrees, will
be patiently obeyed; this, therefore, may be very properly considered
as the first tax necessary to be laid, which, though it may produce no
great effects in itself, may at least make way for a second that shall
be more sensibly felt, till at length these fatal spirits shall be
raised to a price at which few will be able, and none willing, to
purchase one pleasure of drunkenness.

But it is not impossible that even this tax, with the other provisions
in the bill, may produce the reformation which is unanimously desired;
and as violence should never be used till gentle methods have been
tried, this bill ought, in my opinion, to be passed, and, therefore,
to be referred to a committee without farther debate; for it will be
thought, both by our allies and our enemies, that a great part of this
assembly is very indifferent about the success of the war, if we delay
the supplies, by disputing in what manner they shall be raised.

[The question being then put, whether the bill shall be committed, it
was carried in the affirmative. And the lords DELAWARE and HERVEY
being appointed tellers, the numbers were, Contents 59, Proxies
23--82. Not contents 38, Proxies 16--54.

It was remarked on this occasion, that there being ten prelates in the
house, they all divided against the question; upon which the earl of
CHESTERFIELD seeing them come towards him, said, he doubted if he had
not mistaken the side, not having had the honour of their company for
many years.

Two days after, the same bill was considered by the house of lords in
a committee to which all of them were summoned, and occasioned another
very important and curious debate.]

FEBRUARY 23, 1742-3.

The title of the bill on spirituous liquors being read, was postponed:
then the preamble was read, importing, "that whereas great
difficulties and inconveniencies had attended the putting the act 9
Geo. II. in execution, and the same had not been found effectual to
answer the purposes intended," the commons being desirous to raise the
necessary supplies in the easiest manner, do grant the rates on
spirituous liquors, hereafter mentioned, and repeal the present rates.

Lord HERVEY spoke to the effect following:--My lords, notwithstanding
the specious arguments which were used to influence the house to
permit this bill to escape the censure it deserved, and be admitted to
a farther examination in a committee, I am still confident that
nothing can justly be offered in its defence; and am not afraid to
declare my opinion, that it is not approved even by those who
vindicate it; of whom I cannot but believe, from long experience of
their judgment and their knowledge, that they consider it only as an
_easy manner_ of raising money, as an expedient rather necessary than
eligible, and such as only the exigencies of the government could have
prevailed upon them to propose; for nothing is more evident, than that
it cannot answer the purposes of the former bill.

This, however harsh it may appear, and however inconsistent with that
delicacy with which the debates of this august assembly have generally
been carried on, must surely be pardoned on this occasion, if for no
other reason, at least for this, that it is not easy to forbear it, it
is impossible wholly to suppress it in the mind; and to forbear to
speak what cannot but be thought, is no part of the duty of a publick

The conduct of those whose station subjects them to the resentment of
the ministry, or who may be reasonably imagined to expect favours from
them, has, throughout all our deliberations on this bill, been such as
evidently discovers their only care to be the imposition of a new tax,
and the establishment of a new fund. They do not seem to urge
seriously any other argument than the necessity of raising money, or
to oppose the objections that have been offered, for any other reason,
than because they have a tendency to obstruct the supplies.

No other argument can, indeed, be urged in vindication of a bill which
every principle of policy or justice must incite us to condemn; a bill
by which the sense of morality and religion will be extinguished, and
the restraints, of law made ineffectual; by which the labourer and
manufacturer will be at once debilitated and corrupted, and by which
the roads will be filled with thieves, and the streets with beggars.

It appears, my lords, from the papers on the table, that seven
millions of gallons are every year distilled; and experience shows us,
that the quality of the liquor is such, that a quarter of a pint is
sufficient to intoxicate the brain. Upon this computation, my lords,
it is reasonable to believe, that a twentieth part of the labouring
hands of this nation are detained from their proper occupations by
this kind of drunkenness; and, consequently, that a twentieth part of
the trade is every year lost, or, perhaps, a twentieth part of our
people every year hurried to the grave, or disabled from contributing
to the publick good.

These, my lords, are no doubtful facts, or conjectural calculations,
they are confirmed by the most incontestable evidence, and established
by all the demonstration of arithmetick; and therefore your lordships
are in no danger of errour from either ignorance or uncertainty, but
must determine, if you approve this bill, in opposition to all the
powers of conviction, and must set aside testimony and reason at the
same time.

These facts, my lords, are so plain, that the warmest advocates for
the bill have tacitly acknowledged them, by proposing that, if it be
found ineffectual, it shall be amended in the next session. What
effect this proposal may have upon others, I know not; but for my
part, I shall never think it allowable to sport with the prosperity of
the publick, or to try experiments by which, if they fail, the lives
of thousands must be destroyed.

Such a scheme, my lords, very ill becomes those to whom their
ancestors have transmitted the illustrious character of guardians of
the people; for surely such cruelty was never practised by the utmost
wantonness of tyranny, or the most savage rage of invasion. No man
ever before conceived the design of scattering poison for a certain
period of time among the people, only to try what havock it would

What will be the effects of unrestrained and licensed debauchery may
be known, without the guilt of so dreadful an experiment, only by
observing the present conduct of the people, even while they are
hindered from the full enjoyment of their pleasures, by the terrours
of a penal law. Whoever shall be so far touched with the interest of
the publick, as to extend his inquiries to the lowest classes of the
people, will find some diseased, and others vitiated; he will find
some imprisoned by their creditors, and others starving their
children; and if he traces all these calamities and crimes to their
original cause, will find them all to proceed from the love of
distilled liquors.

I know, my lords, that in answer to all these expostulations, and a
thousand more, it will be urged by the ministers and their friends,
that there is no other method to be found of raising the supplies, and
that the demands of the government must be satisfied at whatever rate,
and by whatever means.

Though I am very far from approving this assertion, I do not wonder at
its prevalence among those who are enriched by every tax, and whose
only claim to the preferments which they enjoy arises from their
readiness to concur in every scheme for increasing the burdens of the
publick; and, therefore, shall never expect their approbation of any
proposal, by which a new tax may be retarded. Yet I cannot but declare
that, in my opinion, we ought to suspend our proceedings, that the
commons may discover what danger their negligence, precipitation, or
blind compliance, has brought upon the nation; and that the people
may, by so signal a proof of our disapprobation, be alarmed against
any attempt of the same kind under any future administration.

This, my lords, will be considered, not only by posterity, but by all
the wise and honest men of the present time, as a proof of our regard
for virtue, and our attention to the publick welfare. This conduct
will be secretly approved, even by those who may think themselves
obliged to oppose it in publick; and, as it will be moderate and
decent, may probably preserve the nation without irritating the other

I therefore move, my lords, that instead of proceeding in the
superfluous forms of a committee, we should resume the house, and
endeavour to obtain farther information.

After a short silence, lord CHOLMONDELEY spoke to this effect:--My
lords, the observations which, though sufficiently explained and
enforced in the late debate, the noble lord has been pleased to repeat
on this occasion, are in themselves, indeed, sufficiently pertinent,
and have been urged by his lordship with uncommon spirit and elegance;
but he ought to have reflected, that general declamations are improper
in a committee, where the particular clauses of the bill are to be
separately considered.

I propose, therefore, that instead of wasting that time, of which the
exigencies of the publick now require an uncommon frugality, in
useless rhetorick, and untimely vehemence, we should proceed to
examine in order the distinct paragraphs of this bill, by which it may
more easily appear, whether it ought to be rejected or approved.

It cannot, indeed, be proposed, that any of the clauses shall be
amended in this committee; for the claims of the commons, and the
obstinacy with which they have always adhered to them, on whatever
they are founded, is well known. I am old enough to remember the
animosities which have arisen between the two houses, from attempts to
adjust this part of their pretensions; animosities which at this time
may be not only dangerous to ourselves, but fatal to a great part of
mankind, and which it ought, therefore, to be our utmost care not to

Lord AYLESFORD:--My lords, though the consideration of the distinct
paragraphs of the bill be, as the noble lord has very justly observed,
the proper business of the committee; yet since, as he has likewise
observed, the present state of our affairs requires unusual
expedition, I think we may very properly spare ourselves the trouble
of considering paragraphs which we cannot amend; and which are in
themselves so clear and so obvious, that they may be understood in
their full extent upon a cursory perusal.

But, my lords, though I think it not proper to follow our usual method
of considering the paragraphs distinctly, which can only drive the
bill forward towards the third reading, as it has already been forced
into the committee; yet I think it not necessary to irritate the other
house, alarm our allies, or encourage our enemies, by rejecting that
bill by which it is intended that the supplies shall be raised. There
is an easy and moderate method, by which the same end may be attained
without any disturbance of the publick, any impediment of the schemes
of the government, or any just offence to the commons.

Instead of passing or rejecting this bill, of which the first is
absolutely criminal, and the second perhaps improper, let us only
delay it, by which we shall give the commons time to reflect upon it,
to reexamine it, and discover, what they, perhaps, have not hitherto
suspected, its destructive tendency. Nor can it be doubted, but the
observations which will arise from the necessity of inquiring into the
reasons of our conduct, will soon induce them to form another bill,
not liable to the same objections; I, therefore, second the noble
lord's motion to resume the house.

Lord ISLAY:--My lords, if we consider the pretensions of the commons,
and the stubbornness with which they have hitherto adhered to them, we
shall easily find the impropriety of the noble lord's motion, and
foresee the inefficacy of the methods which he so warmly recommends.

The alarm which he supposes us to give the commons by postponing the
bill before us, the observations which they will make upon our
conduct, the new informations which they will receive, and the new
bill which they will send, are merely imaginary. They will not
consider themselves as concerned in the delay or expedition of our
procedure, but will suppose us to act upon our own reasons, which it
is not necessary for them to examine, and will by no means send
another bill for supplies, till they are informed that this is

Thus, my lords, we shall only retard the supplies, without altering,
or being able to alter, the method of raising them; and at last pass
that bill, without examination, which we now neglect to examine, lest
we should pass it; or, perhaps, irritate the commons by the novelty of
our conduct, which, if they should resolve to consider it, they will
probably consider only to censure.

Lord AYLESPORD:--My lords, I am no stranger to the claims of the
commons to the sole and independent right of forming money bills, nor
to the heat with which that claim has been asserted, or the firmness
with which it has always been maintained in late senates. Nor am I
ignorant, that by contesting this claim, we have sometimes excited
disputes, which nothing but a prorogation of the senate could appease.

I know, my lords, and allow, that by acting in any unusual manner with
regard to bills of this kind, we may excite the resentment of the
commons, and that some interruption of the publick business may, for
want of candour and moderation, possibly ensue.

But, my lords, I cannot think the possibility of an ill consequence an
argument sufficient to show the unreasonableness of my proposal; for
the inconveniencies that may arise from postponing the bill, are only
possible, but the calamities that we shall bring upon our country by
passing it are certain.

But we are likewise to consider, my lords, that these events, of which
it can only be said that they may happen, may also not happen. When I
reflect that the house of commons is an assembly of reasonable beings,
that it is filled by the representatives of the British people, by men
who will share the calamities of the publick, and whose interest it
is, equally with ours, to prevent the destruction of our commerce, the
decay of our manufactures, the corruption of the present age, and the
ruin of posterity, I cannot but hope that they will apply themselves
to a candid review of the bill which they have sent, and without heat,
jealousy, or disputes, explain it as they may do by another, which
will be no deviation from the rules which they have established for
themselves, and by which they may secure the happiness of their
country without receding from their own pretensions.

The duke of BEDFORD:--My lords, the proposal made by the noble lord
appears to me so prudent and equitable, so moderate and so seasonable,
and, in my opinion, suggests so easy a method of reconciling the
pretensions of the commons with the necessity of amending the bill,
that I cannot but think it worthy of the unanimous approbation of your

I am very far from conceiving the commons to be an assembly of men
deaf to reason, or imagining them so void of all regard for the
happiness of the publick, as that they will sacrifice it to an
obstinate adherence to claims which they cannot but know to be in
themselves disputable, and of which they must at least allow that they
are only so far just as they contribute to the great end of
government, the general good.

But lest they should, by any perverse and unseasonable obstinacy,
attend more to the preservation of their own power than to the
promotion of the happiness of their constituents, a method is now
proposed, by which the errours of this bill may be corrected, without
any concession of either house. The commons may easily be informed of
the dangers which are justly dreaded from this bill; and may,
therefore, prepare another, by which a tax of the same kind may be
laid, without a general license of drunkenness; or if a method of
laying a duty upon these liquors, which may at once hinder their
excessive use, and increase the revenue of the government, cannot be
discovered, they may raise the supplies for the year by some other

Lord CARTERET:--My lords, as the expedient proposed by these noble
lords, however it may be recommended, as being at once moderate and
efficacious, has, in reality, no other tendency than to procure an
absolute rejection of this bill, it is proper to consider the
consequences which may be reasonably expected from the measures which
they have hitherto proposed.

In order to the effectual restraint of the common people from the use
of these pernicious liquors, they assert the necessity of imposing a
very large duty to be paid by the distiller, which might, indeed,
produce, in some degree, the effect which they expect from it, but
would produce it by giving rise to innumerable frauds and

The immediate consequence of a heavy duty would be the ruin of our
distillery, which is now a very extensive and profitable trade, in
which great multitudes are employed, who must instantly, upon the
cessation of it, sink into poverty. Our stills, my lords, not only
supply our natives with liquors, which they used formerly to purchase
from foreign countries, and therefore increase, or at least preserve
the wealth of our country; but they likewise furnish large quantities
for exportation to Guernsey, Jersey, and other places. But no sooner
will the duty proposed to be laid upon this liquor take place, than
all this trade will be at an end, and those who now follow it will be
reduced to support themselves by other employments; and those
countries in which our spirits are now drank will be soon supplied
from other nations with liquors at once cheaper and more pleasant.

It may be proposed, as an expedient for the preservation of our
foreign trade, that the duty shall be repaid upon exportation; but the
event of this provision, my lords, will be, that great quantities will
be sent to sea for the sake of obtaining a repayment of the duty,
which, instead of being sold to foreigners, will be privately landed
again upon our own coasts.

Thus, my lords, will the duty be collected, and afterwards repaid; and
the government will suffer the odium of imposing a severe tax, and
incur the expense of employing a great number of officers, without any
advantage to the publick. Spirits will, in many parts of the kingdom,
be very little dearer than at present, and drunkenness and debauchery
will still prevail.

That these arts, and a thousand others, will be practised by the
people to obtain this infatuating liquor, cannot be doubted. It cannot
be imagined that they will forbear frauds, who have had recourse to
violence, or that those will not endeavour to elude the government,
who have already defied it.

Every rigorous law will be either secretly evaded, or openly violated;
every severe restraint will be shaken off, either by artifice or vice;
nor can this vice, however dangerous or prevalent, be corrected but by
slow degrees, by straitening the reins of government imperceptibly,
and by superadding a second slight restraint, after the nation has
been for some time habituated to the first.

That the government proceeds by these easy and gentle methods of
reformation, ought not to be imputed to negligence, but necessity; for
so far has the government been from any connivance at this vice, that
an armed force was necessary to support the laws which were made to
restrain it, and secure the chief persons of the state from the
insults of the populace, whom they had only provoked by denying them
this pernicious liquor.

Since, therefore, my lords, all opposition to this predominant
inclination has appeared without effect, since the government
evidently wants power to conquer the united and incessant struggles
for the liberty of drunkenness, what remains but that this vice should
produce some advantage to the publick, in return for the innumerable
evils which arise from it, and that the government should snatch the
first opportunity of taxing that vice which cannot be reformed?

This duty arises, indeed, from a concurrence of different causes, of
just designs in the government, and of bad inclinations in the people.
The tax is just, and well meant; but it can be made sufficient to
support the expenses to which it is appropriated, only by the
resolution of the populace to continue, in some degree, their usual

I am far, my lords, from thinking this method of raising money
eligible for its own sake, or justifiable by any other plea than that
of necessity. If it were possible at once to extinguish the thirst of
spirits, no man who had any regard for virtue, or for happiness, would
propose to augment the revenue by a tax upon them.

But, my lords, rigour has been already tried, and found to be vain; it
has been found equally fruitless to forbid the people to use spirits,
as to forbid a man in a dropsy to drink. The force of appetite long
indulged, and by indulgence made superiour to the control of reason,
is not to be overcome at once; it cannot be subdued by a single
effort, but may be weakened; new habits of a more innocent kind may in
time be superinduced, and one desire may counterbalance another.

We must endeavour, my lords, by just degrees, to withdraw their
affections from this pernicious enjoyment, by making the attainment of
it every year somewhat more difficult: but we must not quicken their
wishes, and exasperate their resentment, by depriving them at once of
their whole felicity. By this method, my lords, I doubt not but we
shall obtain what we have hitherto endeavoured with so little success;
and I believe that though, in open defiance of a severe law, spirits
are now sold in every street of this city, a gentle restraint will, in
a short time, divert the minds of the people to other entertainments,
and the vice of drinking spirits will be forgotten among us.

Lord HERVEY then rose up again, and spoke to the effect following:--My
lords, though I have always considered this bill as at once wicked and
absurd, I imagined till now that the projectors of it would have been
able to have argued, at least, speciously, though not solidly, in
defence of it; nor did I imagine it to have been wholly indefensible,
till I discovered how little the extensive knowledge, the long
experience, and the penetrating foresight of the noble lord who spoke
last, enabled him to produce in vindication of it.

His lordship's argument is reducible to this single assertion, that
the drinking distilled liquors cannot be prevented; and from thence he
drew this inference, that since it is a point of wisdom to turn
misfortunes to advantage, we ought to contrive methods by which the
debauchery of the people may enrich the government.

Though we should suppose the assertion true in any sense below that of
absolute physical impossibility, the inference is by no means just;
since it is the duty of governours to struggle against vice, and
promote virtue with incessant assiduity, notwithstanding the
difficulties that may for a time hinder the wisest and most rigorous
measures from success. That governour who desists from his endeavours
of reformation, because they have been once baffled, in reality
abandons his station and deserts his charge, nor deserves any other
character than that of laziness, negligence, or cowardice.

The preservation of virtue where it subsists, and the recovery of it
where it is lost, are the only valuable purposes of government. Laws
which do not promote these ends are useless, and those that obviate
them are pernicious. The government that takes advantage of wicked
inclinations, by accident predominant in the people, and, for any
temporary convenience, instead of leading them back to virtue, plunges
them deeper into vice, is no longer a sacred institution, because it
is no longer a benefit to society. It is from that time a system of
wickedness, in which bad ends are promoted by bad means, and one crime
operates in subordination to another.

But, my lords, it is not necessary to show the unreasonableness of the
inference, because the assertion from which it is deduced cannot be
proved. That the excessive use of distilled liquors cannot be
prevented, is a very daring paradox, not only contrary to the
experience of all past times, but of the present; for the law which is
now to be repealed, did in a great degree produce the effects desired
from it, till the execution of it was suspended, not by the inability
of the magistrates, or obstinacy of the people, but by the artifice of
ministers, who promoted the sale of spirits secretly, for the same
reason which incites our present more daring politicians to establish
the use of them by a law.

The defects of this law, for that it was defective cannot be denied,
were in the manner of levying the duty; for had half the duty that was
demanded from the unlicensed retailers, been required from the
distiller, there had been no need of informations; nor had we been
stunned with the dismal accounts of the rage and cruelty of the
people, or the violent deaths of those who endeavoured to grow rich by
commencing prosecutions. The duty had been regularly paid, the liquors
had been made too dear for common use, and the name of spirits had
been in a short time forgotten amongst us.

From this defect, my lords, arose all the difficulties and
inconveniencies that have impeded the execution of the law, and
prevented the effects that were expected from it, and by one amendment
they might be all removed.

But instead of endeavouring to improve the efficacy of the remedy
which was before proposed for this universal malady, we are now told,
that it was too forcible to take effect, and that it only failed by
the vigour of its operation. We are informed, that the work of
reformation ought not to be despatched with too much expedition, that
mankind cannot possibly be made virtuous at once, and that they must
be drawn off from their habits by just degrees, without the violence
of a sudden change.

What degrees the noble lord proposes to recommend, or what advantage
he expects from allowing the people a longer time to confirm their
habits, I am not able to discover. He appears to me rather to propose
an experiment than a law, and rather to intend the improvement of
policy, than the safety of the people.

This experiment is, indeed, of a very daring kind, in which not only
the money but the lives of the people are hazarded: their money has,
indeed, in all ages been subject to the caprices of statesmen, but
their lives ought to be exempt from such dangerous practices, because,
when once lost, they can never be recovered. By this bill, however, it
is contrived to lay poison in the way of the people, poison which we
know will be eagerly devoured by a fourth part of the nation, and will
prove fatal to a great number of those that taste it; nor of this
project is any defence made, but, that since the people love to
swallow poison, it may be of advantage to the government to sell it.

It might not be improper, my lords, to publish to the people, by a
formal proclamation, the benevolent intentions of their governours;
and inform them, that licensed murderers are to be appointed, at whose
shops they may infallibly be destroyed, without any danger of legal
censures, provided they take care to use the poison prescribed by the
government, and increase, by their death, the publick revenue.

That money only is desired from this bill, is not only obvious from
the first perusal of it, but confessed even by those who defend it;
but not one has continued to assert, that it will produce a
reformation of manners, or recommended it otherwise than as an

For this reason, my lords, I still think my motion for postponing the
bill very reasonable, nor do I make any scruple to confess that I
propose, by postponing, only a more gentle and inoffensive method of
dropping it, that some other way of raising the supplies may be
attempted, or that the duty may be raised to three shillings a gallon;
the lowest tax that can be laid with a design of reformation.

This method, my lords, or any other by which another bill may be
procured, should be pursued; for whatever schemes the commons may
substitute, the nation can suffer nothing by the change, they cannot
raise money in any other manner, but with less injury to the publick;
since the greatest calamity which wrong measures can possibly produce,
is the propagation of wickedness, and the establishment of debauchery.

Lord BATH then spoke, in substance as follows:--My lords, that this
bill is, with great propriety, called an experiment, I am ready to
allow, but do not think the justness of that expression any forcible
argument against it; because I know not any law that can be proposed
for the same end, without equally deserving the same appellation.

All the schemes of government, my lords, have been perfected by slow
degrees, and the defects of every regulation supplied by the wisdom of
successive generations. No man has yet been found, whose discernment,
however penetrating, has enabled him to discover all the consequences
of a new law, nor to perceive all the fallacies that it includes, or
all the inconveniencies that it may produce; the first essay of a new
regulation is, therefore, only an experiment made, in some degree, at
random, and to be rectified by subsequent observations; in making
which, the most prudent conduct is only to take care that it may
produce no ill consequences of great importance, before there may be
an opportunity of reviewing it.

This maxim, my lords, is, in my opinion, strictly regarded in the
present attempt, which in itself is an affair of very great
perplexity. The health and virtue of the people are to be regarded on
one part, and the continuance of a very gainful and extensive
manufacture on the other; a manufacture by which only, or chiefly, the
produce of our own nation is employed; and on which, therefore, the
value of lands must very much depend.

Manufactures of this kind, my lords, ought never to be violently or
suddenly suppressed. If they are pernicious to the nation in general,
they are, at least, useful to a very great part, and to some, who have
no other employment, necessary; and in the design of putting a stop to
any detrimental trade, care is always to be taken that the
inconvenience exceed not the benefit, and time be allowed for those
that are engaged in it to withdraw to some other business, and for the
commodities that are consumed by it, to be introduced at some other
market, or directed to some other use.

These cautions are in this bill very judiciously observed. The trade,
which all allow to administer supplies to debauchery, and fuel to
diseases, will, by the provisions in this bill, sink away by degrees,
and the health and virtue of the people will be preserved or restored
without murmurs or commotions.

We must consider, likewise, my lords, the necessity of raising
supplies, and the success with which they have hitherto been raised
upon the scheme which is now under your consideration.

In examining the necessity of procuring supplies, I shall not
expatiate upon the present danger of the liberties of all this part of
the world; upon the distress of the house of Austria, the necessity of
preserving the balance of power, or the apparent designs of the
ancient and incessant disturbers of mankind, topicks which have been
on former occasions sufficiently explained.

It is now only necessary to observe, that the state of our affairs
requires expedition, and that a happy peace can only be expected from
a successful war, and that war can only be made successful by vigour
and despatch.

If by liberal grants of money, and ready concurrence in all necessary
measures, we enable his majesty to raise a powerful army, there is no
reason to doubt that a single campaign may procure peace, that it may
establish the liberties of Europe, and raise our allies, who were so
lately distressed, to their former greatness.

These supplies, my lords, which are so evidently necessary, may, by
the method now proposed, be easily, speedily, and cheaply raised. Upon
the security which this act will afford, large sums are already
offered to the government at the low interest of three for a hundred,
by those who, if the conditions of the loan are changed, will,
perhaps, demand four in a few days, or raise money by a combination to
the rate of five or six for a hundred; of which I would not remark how
much it will embarrass the publick measures, or how much it will
encourage our enemies to an obstinate resistance.

Such, my lords, are the inconveniencies to be feared from rejecting
this bill, or from postponing it; by which is plainly intended only a
more gentle and tender manner of rejecting it, by hinting to the
commons your disapprobation of it, and the necessity of sending up
another, which you cannot do without hazarding the peace of the nation
and the fate of the war.

The commons, who are not obliged to inquire what reception their bills
find here, may perhaps not immediately prepare another, but suffer
time to elapse, till necessity shall oblige us to comply with those
measures which we cannot approve.

They may, likewise, by a kind of senatorial craft, elude all our
precautions, and make the rejection of the bill ineffectual, as was
once done, when a bill for a tax upon leather was rejected: the
commons, determining not to be directed in the methods of raising
money, sent up the same bill with only a small alteration of the
title, to lay a duty upon tanned hides, which the lords were, for want
of time, obliged to pass.

But, my lords, should the other house discover in this single
instance, any uncommon degree of flexibility and complaisance, should
they patiently endure the rejection of the bill, admit the validity of
the reasons upon which your lordships have proceeded, and willingly
engage in drawing up a new scheme for raising supplies; even upon this
supposition, which is more favourable than can reasonably be formed,
the business of the year will be very much perplexed, and the new bill
hurried into a law without sufficient caution or deliberation.

The session is now, my lords, so far advanced, that many of the
commons have retired into the country, whose advice and assistance may
be necessary in the projection of a new money bill, so that the new
bill must be formed in a short time, and by a thin house; and, indeed,
the multiplicity of considerations necessary to another bill of this
kind, is such, that I cannot think it prudent to advise or undertake

The committee on ways and means must strike out another scheme for a
considerable impost, which, in the present state of the nation, is in
itself no easy task. This scheme must be so adjusted as to be
consistent with all the other taxes, which will require long
consultations and accurate inquiries. It must then struggle, perhaps,
through an obstinate and artful opposition, before it can pass through
the forms of the other house; and, when it comes before your
lordships, may be again opposed with no less zeal than the bill before
us, and perhaps, likewise, with equal reason.

All these dangers and difficulties will be avoided by trying, for a
single year, the experiment which is now proposed; and which, if that
should fail, may be better adjusted in the time of leisure, which the
beginning of the next session will undoubtedly afford; before which
time I am afraid no amendment can possibly be made.

It has been proposed, indeed, by the noble lord, that three shillings
should be laid upon every gallon of distilled liquors, which would
undoubtedly lessen the consumption, but would at the same time destroy
the trade; a trade from which large profits may be in time gained;
since our distillers have now acquired such skill, that the most
delicate palate cannot distinguish their liquors from those which
foreigners import.

If the duty be raised to the height proposed, it must be allowed to be
repaid for all that shall be exported; otherwise foreign nations will
deprive us of this part of our trade; and it has been already shown,
that by mock exportations the duty may be frequently evaded.

Thus, my lords, there will be difficulties on either hand; if a duty
so high be paid, the manufacturer will be ruined; if it be evaded, the
consumption will be lessened.

One inconvenience will easily be discovered to be the necessary
consequence of any considerable advance of the price. We may be
certain that an act of the senate will not moderate the passions, or
alter the appetites of the people; and that they will not be less
desirous of their usual gratifications, because they are denied them.
The poor may, indeed, yield to necessity, unless they find themselves
able to resist the law, or to evade it; but those who can afford to
please their taste, or exalt their spirits at a greater expense, will
still riot as before, but with this difference, that their excesses
will produce no advantage to the publick.

If an additional duty of three shillings be laid upon every gallon of
distilled liquors, the product of our own distillery will be dearer
than those liquors which are imported from foreign parts; and,
therefore, it cannot but be expected that the money which now
circulates amongst us, will in a short time be clandestinely carried
into other countries.

Such, my lords, will be the effect of those taxes which are so
strongly recommended; and, therefore, they ought not to be imposed
till all other methods of proceeding have been found ineffectual.

It is possible, indeed, that the regulation specified in this bill may
not produce any beneficial effect, and that the present practice of
debauchery may still continue among the people; but it is likewise
possible that this tax may, by increasing the price, augment the
revenue at the same time that it lessens the consumption.

This proposal has, by some lords, been treated as a paradox; but they
certainly suspected it of falsehood, only for want of patience to form
the calculations necessary in such disquisitions. The tax of the last
year amounted to one hundred and seventy thousand pounds; this tax is
now doubled, so that the same quantity will produce three hundred and
forty thousand; but if one third less should be consumed, the present
tax will amount to no more than two hundred and twenty thousand
pounds; and when fifty thousand licenses are added, the revenue will
gain an hundred thousand pounds, though one third part of the
consumption should be hindered.

But, my lords, supposing no part of the consumption hindered, I cannot
think that bill should be rejected, which, in a time of danger like
the present, shall add to the publick revenue an annual income of more
than two hundred thousand pounds, without lessening any manufacture,
without burdening any useful or virtuous part of the nation, and
without giving the least occasion to any murmurs among the people.

It is to be remembered, my lords, that whatever corruption shall
prevail amongst us, it cannot be imputed to this bill, which did not
make, but find the nation vitiated, and only turned their vices to
publick advantage; so that if it produces any diminution of the sale
of spirits, it is indisputably to be applauded as promoting virtue. If
the sale of spirits still continues the same, it will deserve some
degree of commendation, as it will, at least, not contribute to the
increase of vice, and as it will augment the revenue without injuring
the people; for how, my lords, can we be censured for only suffering
the nation to continue in its former state?

Lord TALBOT then spoke in substance as follows:--My lords, if we
consider the tendency of the argument used by the noble lord, the only
argument on which he appears to lay any stress, it will prove, if it
proves any thing, what cannot be admitted by your lordships, without
bidding farewell to independency, and acknowledging that you are only
the substitutes of a higher power.

It appears by the tenor of his reasoning, that he considers this house
as only obliged, in questions relating to supplies, to ratify the
determinations of the other; to submit implicitly to their dictates,
and receive their sovereign commands, without daring either to refuse
compliance, or delay it.

If we conjoin the reasoning of the noble lord who spoke last, with
that of one who spoke before in favour of the bill, we shall be able
to discover the full extent of our power on these occasions; the first
was pleased to inform us, that though we were at liberty to examine
the paragraphs of this bill, we had no right, at least no power to
amend them; because in money bills, the commons left us no other
choice than that of passing or rejecting them.

This, my lords, might have been thought a sufficient contraction of
those privileges which your ancestors transmitted to you, and the
commons needed to have desired no farther concessions from this
assembly, since this was a publick confession of a subordinate state,
and admitted either that part of our ancient rights had been given up,
or that we were at present too much depressed to dare to assert them.

We might, however, still comfort ourselves with the peaceful and
uncontested possession of the alternative; we might still believe that
what we could not approve we might reject, without irritating the
formidable commons. But now, my lords, a new doctrine has been vented
among us; we are told not only that we must not amend a money bill,
but that it will be to no purpose to reject it; for that the other
house will send it again without altering any thing but the title, and
force it upon us, when there is no time for any other expedient.

If this, my lords, should be done, I know not how the bill might, at
its second appearance, be received by other lords; for my part, I
should vote immediately for rejecting it, without any alleviating or
mollifying expedients. I should reject it, my lords, even on the last
day of the session, without any regard to the pretended necessity of
raising supplies, and without suffering myself to be terrified into
compliance by the danger of the house of Austria; for though I think
the balance of power on the continent necessary to be preserved at the
hazard of a fleet or an army, I cannot think it of equal importance to
us with the equipoise of our own government; nor can I conceive it my
duty to enslave myself to secure the freedom of another.

The danger, therefore, of disgusting the commons, at this or any other
juncture, shall never influence me to a tame resignation of the
privileges of our own house; nor shall I willingly allow any force to
arguments which are intended only to operate upon our fear; and,
therefore, unless there shall appear some better plea in favour of
this bill, I shall think it my duty to oppose it.

The other plea is the difficulty, or, in the style of the noble lord
who spoke last, the impossibility of raising supplies by any other
method. That it is not easy to raise supplies by any new tax, in a
nation where almost all the necessaries of life are loaded with
imposts, must be readily allowed; but that it is impossible, the folly
of the people, which is at least equal to their poverty, will not
suffer me to grant.

One other expedient, at least, has been already discovered by the
wonderful sagacity of our new ministers; an expedient which they
cannot, indeed, claim the honour of inventing, but which appears so
conformable to the rest of their conduct, and so agreeable to their
principles, that I doubt not but they will very often practise it, if
the continuance of their power be long enough to admit of a full
display of their abilities.

Amidst their tenderness for our manufactures, and their regard for
commerce, they have established a lottery for eight hundred thousand
pounds, by which they not only take advantage of an inclination too
predominant, an inclination to grow rich rather by a lucky hazard,
than successful industry; but give up the people a prey to
stockjobbers, usurers, and brokers of tickets, who will plunder them
without mercy, by the encouragement of those by whom it might be hoped
that they would be protected from plunderers.

All lotteries, my lords, are games, which are not more honest or more
useful for being legal; and the objection which has been made to all
other games, and which has never yet been answered, will be found
equally valid when applied to them. They engross that attention which
might be employed in improving or extending our manufactures; they
swallow that money which might circulate in useful trade; they give
the idle and the diligent an equal prospect of riches; and by
conferring unexpected wealth upon those who never deserved it, and
know not how to use it, they promote extravagance and luxury,
insolence and dissoluteness.

But these consequences, my lords, and a thousand others equally
important, equally formidable, may be objected without effect, against
any scheme by which money will be raised; money! the only end at which
our ministers have aimed for almost half a century; money! by which
only they have preserved the favour of the court, and the obedience of
the senate; money! which has supplied the place of wisdom at one time,
and of courage at another.

To gain money, my lords, they have injured trade by establishing a
lottery; and they are now about to sacrifice the health and virtue of
the people, to the preservation of a trade by which money may be
furnished to the government. This, my lords, is their only design,
however they may act, or whatever they may profess; if they endeavour
to protect either the trade or lives of people, it is only because
they expect a continuance of taxes from them; and when more desperate
measures are necessary for the same purposes, they ruin their trade by
one project, and destroy their lives by another.

Lord LONSDALE next spoke, to this effect:--My lords, it is not without
the utmost grief and indignation, that I find this house considered by
some who have spoken in vindication of this bill, as obliged to comply
with any proposals sent up by the commons for raising money, however
destructive to the publick, or however contrary to the dictates of our
conscience, or convictions of our reason.

What is this, my lords, but once more to vote ourselves useless? What
but to be the first that shall destroy the constitution of the
government, and give up that liberty which our ancestors established?

That this is really the design of any of the noble lords, who have
spoken in vindication of the bill, and have asserted the necessity of
passing it, without any attempts to amend it, I am very far from
affirming; but certainly, my lords, this, and this only, is the
consequence of their positions, with whatever intention they may have
advanced them; for how, my lords, can we call ourselves independent,
if we are to receive the commands of the other house? or with what
propriety can we assume the title of legislators, if we are to pass a
bill like this without examination?

The bill now before us, my lords, is of the utmost importance to the
happiness of that nation whose welfare we have hitherto been imagined
to superintend. In this bill are involved not only the trade and
riches, but the lives and morals of the British people; nor can we
suffer it to pass unexamined, without betraying the nation to
wickedness and destruction.

Should we, on this occasion, suffer ourselves to be degraded from
legislators to messengers from the commons to the throne; should we be
content only to transmit the laws which we ought to amend, and resign
ourselves up implicitly to the wisdom of those whom we have formerly
considered as our inferiours, I know not for what purpose we sit here.
It would be my counsel that we should no longer attempt to preserve
the appearance of power, when we have lost the substance, or submit to
share the drudgery of government, without partaking of the authority.

The time of such desperation is, indeed, not yet arrived; but every
act of servile compliance will bring it nearer; and, therefore, my
lords, for the sake of ourselves, as well as of the people, I join the
noble lord's motion for resuming the house, that farther information
may be obtained both by ourselves, by the commons, and by the nation.

The duke of NEWCASTLE then rose, and spoke to the effect
following:--My lords, I believe no lord in this assembly is more
zealous for the advantage of the publick than myself, or more desirous
to preserve the lives, or amend the morals of the people; but I cannot
think that this character can justly imply any dislike of the bill now
before us.

If I should admit what the noble lord has asserted, that the lives and
morals of the people are affected by this bill, I cannot yet see that
his inference is just, or that our compliance with the motion is,
therefore, necessary.

That under the present regulation, the miseries of the nation are
every day increased; that corruption spreads every day wider, and
debauchery makes greater havock, is confessed on all sides; and,
therefore, I can discover no reason for continuing the laws in their
present state, nor can think that we ought to decline any experiment
by which that disorder, which cannot be increased, may possibly be

It is confessed by the noble lords, who declare their approbation of
the motion for postponing the consideration of this bill, that they
intend nothing less than a gentle and tacit manner of dropping it, by
showing the commons that though to avoid offence they do not
absolutely reject it, yet they cannot approve it, and will not pass
it; and that, therefore, the necessity of raising supplies, requires
that another bill should be formed, not liable to the same objections.

The consequence of this procedure, my lords, can only be, that either
the commons will form another bill for raising money, or that they
will send up this again with a new title, and such slight alterations
as not the happiness of the nation, but the forms of the senate

If, in return for our endeavours to reform a bill, of which they think
themselves the only constitutional judges, they should send it again
with only another title; what, my lords, shall we procure by the
delay, but a new occasion of murmurs and discontent, a new
confirmation of the power of the commons, and an establishment of
senatorial chicanery, at once pernicious to the publick, and
ignominious to ourselves.

That the commons, in sending back a bill that has been rejected in
this house, with only a change in the title, act contrary to the end
of senatorial consultations, though consistently with their external
forms, cannot be denied: but as each house is without any dependence
on the other, such deviations from the principles of our constitution,
however injurious to our authority, or however detrimental to the
nation, cannot be punished, nor otherwise prevented, than by caution
and prudence.

If, therefore, the commons, as they have formerly done, should return
the bill without alteration, we shall only have impaired our own
authority, and shaken the foundations of our government by a fruitless
opposition. Nor shall we gain any advantage, though they should comply
with our expectations, and employ the little time that remains in
contriving a new tax; for corruption must then proceed without
opposition, the people must grow every day more vitious, and
debauchery will, in a short time, grow too general to be suppressed.

With regard to the bill before us, the only question that is necessary
or proper, is, whether it will promote or hinder the consumption of
distilled liquors? for as to the effects of those liquors, those that
vindicate, and that oppose this bill, are of the same opinion; and all
will readily allow, that if the law now proposed shall be found to
increase the consumption which it was intended to diminish, it ought
immediately to be repealed, as destructive to the people, and contrary
to the end for which it was designed; but if the additional duties
shall produce any degree of restraint, if they shall hinder the
consumption even of a very small part, I think it must be allowed that
the provisions are just and useful; since it has already appeared,
that this vice is too deeply rooted to be torn up at once; and that,
therefore, it is to be pruned away by imperceptible diminution.

Whether the provisions now offered in the bill might not admit of
improvements; whether some other more efficacious expedients might not
be discovered; and whether the duties might not be raised yet higher,
with more advantage to the publick, may undoubtedly admit of long
disputes and deep inquiries; but for these inquiries and disputes, my
lords, there is at present no time: the affairs of the continent
require our immediate interposition, the general oppressors of the
western world are now endeavouring to extend their dominions, and
exalt their power beyond the possibility of future opposition; and our
allies, who were straggling against them, can no longer continue their
efforts without assistance.

At a time like this, my lords, it is not proper to delay the supplies
by needless controversies; or, indeed, by any disputes which may,
without great inconvenience, be delayed to a time of tranquillity, a
time when all our inquiries may be prosecuted at leisure, when every
argument may be considered in its full extent, and when the
improvement of our laws ought, indeed, to be our principal care. At
present it appears to me, that every method of raising money, without
manifest injury to the morals of the people, deserves our approbation;
and, therefore, that we ought to pass this bill, though it should not
much hinder the consumption of spirituous liquors, if it shall barely
appear that it will not increase it.

It is at least proper, that, at this pressing exigence, those that
oppose the bills by which supplies are to be raised, should, by
offering other expedients, show that their opposition proceeds not
from any private malevolence to the ministry, or any prepossession
against the publick measures, but from a steady adherence to just
principles, and an impartial regard for the publick good; for it may
be suspected, that he who only busies himself in pulling down, without
any attempts to repair the breaches that he has made, with more fit or
durable materials, has no real design of strengthening the

It has been proposed, indeed, by one of the noble lords, that a tax of
three shillings a gallon should be laid upon all distilled spirits,
and collected by the laws of excise at the still-head, which would
doubtless secure a great part of the people from the temptations to
which they are at present exposed, but would at the same time produce
another effect not equally to be desired.

I have been informed, my lords, upon mentioning this proposal in
conversation, that such duties will raise the price of the liquors
distilled among us above that of foreign countries; and that,
therefore, not only all our foreign trade of this kind would be
immediately destroyed, but that many of those who now drink our own
spirits, only because they are cheaper, will then purchase those of
foreign countries, which are generally allowed to be more pleasant.

That this is really the state of the affair, I do not affirm; for I
now relate only what I have heard from others; but surely the
imposition of so heavy a duty requires a long consideration; nor can
it be improper to mention any objections, the discussion of which may
contribute to our information.

But any other regulations than those now offered, will require so many
inquiries, and so long consultation, that the senate will expect to be
dismissed from their attendance, before any resolutions are formed;
and when once the supplies are provided, we shall find ourselves
obliged to leave the law relating to spirituous liquors in its present

Then, my lords, will the enemies of the government imagine that they
have a new opportunity of gratifying their malignity, by censuring us
as wholly negligent of the publick happiness, and charge us with
looking without concern upon the debauchery, the diseases, and the
poverty of the people, without any compassion of their wants, or care
of their reformation.

That to continue the present law any longer, will be only to amuse
ourselves with ineffectual provisions, is universally allowed; nor is
there any difference of opinion with regard to the present state of
the vice which we are now endeavouring to hinder. The last law was
well intended, but was dictated by anger, and ratified by zeal; and
therefore was too violent to be executed, and, instead of reforming,
exasperated the nation.

No sooner, therefore, did the magistrates discover the inflexible
resolution of the people, their furious persecution of informers, and
their declared hatred of all those who concurred in depriving them of
this dangerous pleasure, than they were induced, by regard to their
own safety, to relax that severity which was enjoined, and were
contented to purchase safety by gratifying, or, at least, by not
opposing those passions of the multitude, which they could not hope to
control; the practice of drinking spirits continued, and the
consumption was every year greater than the former.

This, my lords, is the present state of the nation; a state
sufficiently deplorable, and which all the laws of humanity and
justice command us to alter. This is the universal declaration. We all
agree, that the people grow every day more corrupt, and that this
corruption ought to be stopped; but by what means is yet undecided.

Violent methods and extremity of rigour have been already tried, and
totally defeated; it is, therefore, proposed to try more easy and
gentle regulations, that shall produce, by slow degrees, the
reformation which cannot be effected by open force; these new
regulations appear to many lords not sufficiently coercive, and are
imagined still less likely to reform a vice so inveterate, and so
firmly established.

These opinions I cannot flatter myself with the hope of reconciling;
but must yet observe, that the consumption of these liquors, as of all
other commodities, can only be lessened by proper duties, and that
every additional imposition has a tendency to lessen them; and since,
so far as it extends, it can produce no ill effects, deserves the
approbation of those who sincerely desire to suppress this odious vice
that has so much prevailed, and been so widely diffused.

It is, indeed, possible, that the duties now proposed may be found not
sufficient; but for this defect there is an easy remedy. The duty, if
it be found, by the experience of a single year, to be too small, may,
in the next, be easily augmented, and swelled, by annual increases,
even to the height which is now proposed, if no remedy more easy can
be found.

It may be objected, that this fund will be mortgaged for the payment
of the sums employed in the service of the war; and that, therefore,
the state of the duty cannot afterwards be altered without injustice
to the publick creditors, and a manifest violation of the faith of the
senate; but, my lords, though in the hurry of providing for a pressing
and important war, the commons could not find any other method so easy
of raising money, it cannot be doubted but that when they consider the
state of the nation at leisure, they will easily redeem this tax, if
it shall appear inconvenient, and substitute some other, less
injurious to the happiness of the publick.

It was not impossible for them to have done this in the beginning of
this session; nor can it be supposed, that men so long versed in
publick affairs, could not easily have proposed many other imposts;
but it may be imagined, that they chose this out of many, without
suspecting that it would be opposed; and believed, that they were at
once raising supplies, and protecting the virtue of the people.

Nor, indeed, my lords, does it yet appear that they have been
mistaken; for though the arguments of the noble lords who oppose the
bill are acute and plausible, yet since they agree that the
consumption of these liquors is, at last, to be hindered by raising
their price, it is reasonable to conceive, that every augmentation of
the price must produce a proportionate diminution of the consumption;
and that, therefore, this duty will contribute, in some degree, to the
reformation of the people. It seems, at least, in the highest degree
probable, that it cannot increase the evil which it is intended to
remedy; and that, therefore, we may reasonably concur in it, as it
will furnish the government with supplies, without any inconvenience
to those that pay them.

The bishop of OXFORD next spoke to this effect:--My lords, this
subject has already been so acutely considered, and so copiously
discussed, that I rise up in despair of proposing any thing new, of
explaining any argument more clearly, or urging it more forcibly, of
starting any other subject of consideration, or pointing out any
circumstance yet untouched in those that have been proposed.

Yet, my lords, though I cannot hope to add any thing to the knowledge
which your lordships have already obtained of the subject in debate, I
think it my duty to add one voice to the truth, and to declare, that
in the balance of my understanding, the arguments against the bill
very much outweigh those that have been offered in its favour.

It is always presumed by those who vindicate it, that every
augmentation of the price will necessarily produce a proportionate
decrease of the consumption. This, my lords, is the chief, if not the
only argument that has been advanced, except that which is drawn from
the necessity of raising supplies, and the danger of disgusting the
other house. But this argument, my lords, is evidently fallacious; and
therefore the bill, if it passes, must pass without a single reason,
except immediate convenience.

Let us examine, my lords, this potent argument, which has been
successively urged by all who have endeavoured to vindicate the bill,
and echoed from one to another with all the confidence of
irrefragability; let us consider on what suppositions it is founded,
and we shall soon find how easily it will be dissipated.

It is supposed, by this argument, that every drinker of these liquors
spends as much as he can possibly procure; and that therefore the
least additional price must place part of his pleasure beyond his
reach. This, my lords, cannot be generally true; it is perhaps
generally, if not universally false. It cannot be doubted, but that
many of those who corrupt their minds and bodies with these pernicious
draughts, are above the necessity of constraining their appetites to
escape so small an expense as that which is now to be imposed upon
them; and even of those whose poverty can sink no lower, who are in
reality exhausted by every day's debauch, it is at least as likely
that they will insist upon more pay for their work, or that they will
steal with more rapacity, as that they will suffer themselves to be
debarred from the pleasures of drunkenness.

It is not certain that this duty will make these liquors dearer to
those who drink them; since the distiller will more willingly deduct
from his present profit the small tax that is now proposed, than
suffer the trade to sink; and even if that tax should be, as is usual,
levied upon the retailer, it has been already observed, that, in the
quantities necessary to drunkenness, it will not be perceptible.

But, my lords, though this argument appears thus weak upon the first
and slightest consideration, the chief fallacy is still behind. Those,
who have already initiated themselves in debauchery, deserve not the
chief consideration of this assembly; they are, for the greatest part,
hopeless and abandoned, and can only be withheld by force from
complying with those desires to which they are habitually enslaved.
They may, indeed, be sometimes punished, and at other times
restrained, but cannot often be reformed.

Those, my lords, who are yet uncorrupted, ought first to engage our
care; virtue is easily preserved, but difficultly regained. But for
those what regard has hitherto been shown? What effect can be expected
from this bill, but that of exposing them to temptations, by placing
unlawful pleasures in their view? pleasures, which, however unworthy
of human nature, are seldom forsaken after they have once been tasted.

In the consideration of the present question, it is to be remembered,
that multitudes are already corrupted, and the contagion grows more
dangerous in proportion as greater numbers are infected.

To stop the progress of this pestilence, my lords, ought to be the
governing passion of our minds; to this point ought all our aims to be
directed, and for this end ought all our projects to be calculated.

But how, my lords, is this purpose promoted by a law which gives a
license, an unlimited and cheap license, for the sale of that liquor,
to which, even those who support the bill impute the present
corruption of the people? This surely is no rational scheme of
reformation, nor can it be imagined, that a favourite and inveterate
vice is to be extirpated by such gentle methods.

Let us consider, my lords, more nearly the effects of this
new-invented regulation, and we shall see how we may expect from them
the recovery of publick virtue. A law is now to be repealed, by which
the use of distilled liquors is prohibited, but which has not been for
some time put in execution, or not with vigour sufficient to surmount
the difficulties and inconveniencies by which its operation was
obstructed. The law is, however, yet in force, and whoever sells
spirits must now sell them at the hazard of prosecution and penalties,
and with an implicit confidence in the kindness and fidelity of the

It cannot be supposed, my lords, but that a law like this must have
some effect. It cannot be doubted that some are honest and others
timorous; and that among the wretches who are most to be suspected of
this kind of debauchery, there are some in whom it is not safe to
confide; they, therefore, must sometimes be hindered from destroying
their reason by other restraints than want of money; and, when they
are trusted with the secret of an illegal trade, must pay a dearer
rate for the danger that is incurred.

But when this law is repealed, and every street and alley has a shop
licensed to distribute this delicious poison, what can we expect? The
most sanguine advocate for the bill cannot surely hope, that any of
those who now drink spirits will refrain from them, only because they
are sold without danger; and though what cannot be proved, or even
hoped, should be admitted, that some must content themselves with a
smaller quantity on account of the advanced price, yet while they take
all opportunities of debauchery, while they spend, in this destructive
liquor, all that either honest labour or daring theft will supply,
they must always be examples of intemperance; such examples as, from
the experience of late years, we have reason to believe will find many
imitators; and therefore will promote at once the consumption of
spirits, and the corruption of the people.

There is always to be found in wickedness a detestable ambition of
gaining proselytes: every man who has suffered himself to be
corrupted, is desirous to hide himself from infamy in crowds as
vitious as himself, or desires companions in wickedness from the same
natural inclination to society, which prompts almost every man to
avoid singularity on other occasions.

Whatever be the reason, it may be every day observed, that the great
pleasure of the vitious is to vitiate others; nor is it possible to
squander an hour in the assemblies of debauchees of any rank, without
observing with what importunity innocence is attacked, and how many
arts of sophistry and ridicule are used to weaken the influence of
virtue, and suppress the struggles of conscience.

The fatal art by which virtue is most commonly overborne is the
frequent repetition of temptations, which, though often rejected, will
at some unhappy moment generally prevail, and, therefore, ought to be
removed; but which this bill is intended to place always in sight.

To what purpose will it be, my lords, to deprive nine hardened
profligates of a tenth part of the liquor which they now drink, which
is the utmost that this duty will effect? If they have an opportunity
of corrupting one by their solicitation and example, the difference
between nine and ten acts of debauchery is of very small importance to
mankind, or even to the persons who are thus restrained, since their
forbearance of the utmost excesses is only the effect of their
poverty, not of their virtue.

How far is such restraint from being equivalent to the corruption of
one mind, yet pure and undebauched! to the seduction of one heart from
virtue, and a new addition to the interest and prevalence of
wickedness! If it be necessary that the supplies should be raised for
the government by the use of this pernicious liquor, it is desirable
that it should be confined to few, and that it should rather be
swallowed in large quantities by hopeless drunkards, than offered
everywhere to the taste of innocence and youth, in licensed houses of

The consumption will, for a time, be the same in both cases, but with
this important difference, that wickedness would only be continued,
not promoted; and as the poison would rid the land by degrees of the
present race of profligates, it might be hoped, that our posterity
would be uninfected.

But under the present scheme of regulations, my lords, vice will be
propagated under the countenance of the legislature; and that kind of
wickedness by which the nation is so infatuated that it has increased
yearly, in opposition to a penal law, will now not only be suffered,
but encouraged, and enjoy not impunity only, but protection.

Thus, if we pass the bill, we shall not even be able to boast the
petty merit of leaving the nation in its present state; we shall take
away the present restraints of vice, without substituting any in their
place; we shall, perhaps, deprive a few hardened drunkards of a small
part of the liquor which they now swallow, but shall open, according
to the expectation of the noble lord, fifty thousand houses of
licensed debauchery for the ruin of millions yet untainted.

To leave the nation in its present state, which is allowed on all
hands to be a state of corruption, seems to be the utmost ambition of
one of the noble lords, who has pleaded with the greatest warmth for
this bill; for he concluded, with an air of triumph, by asking, how we
can be censured for only suffering the nation to continue in its
former state?

We may be, in my opinion, my lords, censured as traitors to our trust,
and enemies to our country, if we permit any vice to prevail, when it
is in our power to suppress it. We may be cursed, with justice, by
posterity, as the abettors of that debauchery by which poverty and
disease shall be entailed upon them, contemned in the present as the
flatterers of those appetites which we ought to regulate, and insulted
by that populace whom we dare not oppose.

Had none of our predecessors endeavoured the reformation of the
people, had they contented themselves always to leave the nation as
they found it, there had been long ago an end of all the order and
security of society; for the natural depravity of human nature has
always a tendency from less to greater evil; and the same causes which
had made us thus wicked, will, if not obviated, make us worse.

Since the noble lord thinks it not necessary to attempt the
reformation of the people, he might have spared the elaborate
calculation by which he has proved, that a large sum wilt be gained by
the government, though one third part of the consumption be prevented;
for it is of very little importance to discuss the consequences of an
event which will never happen. He should first have proved, that a
third part of the consumption will in reality be prevented, and then
he might very properly have consoled the ministry, by showing how much
they would gain from the residue.

That this bill, as it now stands, will produce a large revenue to the
government, but no reformation in the people, is asserted by those
that oppose, and undoubtedly believed by those that defend it; but as
this is not the purpose which I am most desirous of promoting, I
cannot but think it my duty to agree to the proposal of the noble
lord, that by postponing the consideration of the bill, more exact
information may be obtained by us, and the commons may be alarmed at
the danger into which the nation has been brought by their

Lord BATH then rose again, and spoke to the following effect:--My
lords, as the noble lord who has just spoken appears to have
misapprehended some of my assertions, I think it necessary to rise
again, that I may explain with sufficient clearness what, perhaps, I
before expressed obscurely, amidst the number of different
considerations that crowded my imagination.

With regard to the diminution that might be expected from this law, I
did not absolutely assert, at least, I did not intend to assert, that
a third part would be taken off; but only advanced that supposition as
the basis of a calculation, by which I might prove what many lords
appeared to doubt, that the consumption might possibly be diminished,
and yet the revenue increased.

Upon this supposition, which must be allowed to be reasonable, both
the purposes of the bill will be answered, and the publick supplies
will be raised by the suppression of vice.

The diminution of the consumption may be greater or less than I have
supposed. If it be greater, the revenue will be, indeed, less
augmented; but the purposes which, in the opinion of the noble lords
who oppose the bill, are more to be regarded, will be better promoted,
and all their arguments against it will be, at least, defeated; nor
will the ministry, I hope, regret the failure of a tax which is
deficient only by the sobriety of the nation.

If the diminution be less than I have supposed, yet if there be any
diminution, it cannot be said that the bill has been wholly without
effect, or that the ministry have not proceeded either with more
judgment or better fortune than their predecessors, or that they have
not, at least, taken advantage of the errours that have been
committed. It must be owned, that they have either reformed the
nation, or at least pointed out the way by which the reformation that
has been so long desired, may be effected.

That this tax will in some degree hinder drunkenness, it is reasonable
to expect, because it can only be hindered by taxing the liquors which
are used in excess; but there yet remain, concerning the weight of the
tax that ought to be laid upon them, doubts which nothing but
experience can, I believe, remove.

By experience, my lords, we have been already taught, that taxes may
be so heavy as to be without effect; that restraint may be so violent
as to produce impatience; and, therefore, it is proper in the next
essay to proceed by slow degrees and gentle methods, and produce that
effect imperceptibly which we find ourselves unable to accomplish at

I cannot therefore think, that the duty of three shillings a gallon
can be imposed without defeating our own design, and compelling the
people to find out some method of eluding the law like that which was
practised after the act, by which in the second year of his present
majesty, five shillings were imposed upon every gallon of compound
waters; after which it is well known, that the distillers sold a
simple spirit under the contemptuous title of _senatorial brandy_, and
the law being universally evaded, was soon after repealed as useless.

Such, my lords, or worse, will be the consequence of the tax which the
noble lord has proposed; for if it cannot be evaded, spirits will be
brought from nations that have been wiser than to burden their own
commodities with such insupportable impost, and the empire will soon
be impoverished by the exportation of its money.

Lord HERVEY answered, in substance as follows:--My lords, I am very
far from thinking the arguments of the noble lord such as can
influence men desirous to promote the real and durable happiness of
their country; for he is solicitous only about the prosperity of the
British manufactures, and the preservation of the British trade, but
has shown very little regard to British virtue.

That part of his argument is, therefore, not necessary to be answered,
if the suggestion upon which it is founded were true, since it will be
sufficient to compare the advantage of the two schemes. And with
regard to his insinuation, that senatorial brandy may be revived by a
high duty, I believe, first, that, no such evasion can be contrived,
and in the next place am confident, that it may be defeated by
burdening the new-invented liquor, whatever it be, if it be equally
pernicious, with an equal tax. The path of our duty, my lords, is
plain and easy, and only represented difficult by those who are
inclined to deviate from it.

Lord BATHURST spoke next, to the effect following:--My lords, whatever
measures may be practised by the people for eluding the purposes of
the bill now before us, with whatever industry they may invent new
kinds of senatorial brandy, or by whatever artifices they may escape
the diligence of the officers employed to collect a duty levied upon
their vices and their pleasures, there is, at least, no danger that
they will purchase from the continent those liquors which we are
endeavouring to withhold from them, or that this bill will impoverish
our country by promoting a trade contrary to its interest.

What would be the consequence of the duty of three shillings a gallon,
proposed by the noble lord, it is easy to judge. What, my lords, can
be expected from it, but that it will either oblige or encourage the
venders of spirits to procure from other places what they can no
longer buy for reasonable prices at home? and that those drunkards who
cannot or will not suddenly change their customs, will purchase from
abroad the pleasures which we withhold from them, and the wealth of
the nation be daily diminished, but the virtue little increased?

Thus, my lords, shall we at once destroy our own manufacture and
promote that of our neighbours. Thus shall we enrich other governments
by distressing our own, and instead of increasing sobriety, only
encourage a more expensive and pernicious kind of debauchery.

In the bill now under our consideration, a middle way is proposed, by
which reformation may be introduced by those gradations which have
always been found necessary when inveterate vices are to be
encountered. In this bill every necessary consideration appears to
have been regarded, the health of the people will be preserved, and
their virtue recovered, without destroying their trade or starving
their manufacturers.

The efficacy of this bill seems, indeed, to be allowed by some of the
lords who oppose it, since their chief objection has arisen from their
doubts whether it can be executed. If a law be useless in itself, it
is of no importance whether it is executed or not; and, therefore, I
think it may safely be inferred, that they who are solicitous how it
may be enforced, are convinced of its usefulness.

If this, my lords, be the chief objection now remaining, a little