« PreviousContinue »
JOURNAL of the Proceedings and Debates in the POLITICAL CLUB, continued from p. 20.
the overthrow of our constitution, The laft Speech I fall give you in the I hould, as a member of this house,
Debate begun in your laft, was that make no scruple to vote every ofmade by M. Ogulnius, the Purport ficer, who had concurred in that senof which was as follows, viz. tence, guilty of high treason; and
as the existence of such a case is far Mr. President,
A from being impossible, I shall never SIR,
give my consent to a law that would AM surprised to see such an render ic imposible for this house to opposition made to the amend- discover who had or had not con
ment proposed, since every gen- curred in such a sentence, which, I tleman that has spoke against it in. think, would be the consequence of fists, that the words as they now this oath without the amendment stand will include both houses of par- B proposed. liament. I cannot, Sir, suspect such I fhall be cautious, Sir, of saying honourable gentlemen of infincerity; any thing that may give rise to a but if they are really sincere in the conteit between the two houses of opinion they profess, complaisance parliament: Every gentleman ought, alone to a brother member should I think, to be extremely cautious in induce them to agree to what he this respect ; but then we ought to has proposed. Nay, I will go far. Cbe equally cautious of faying any ther; I will say, that, to avoid the thing inconsistent with the dignity of
, imputation of being actuated by a this house, or that may be interfpirit of persecution, they should preted as a surrender of the priviagree to this amendment ; for if an
leges of the commons of Great Briofficer, upon being called before you tain. Did we ever yet acknowledge to be examined, should answer, that the other house as a court of justice? he could not with a safe conscience, D The high court of parliament is a or consistently with his own honour, court of justice, and the highest call it which you will, declare how court of justice in the kingdom ; but he or any other member of a court- the parliament consists of two houses, martial had voted, because of the and neither house has hitherto acoath he had taken, it would be down- knowledged the other as a court of right persecution to presume such justice. Therefore, to prevent a a man guilty, because of such re. E future contest between the two houses fusal, and to punish him as one ho of parliament, we should agree to had concurred in an oppressive, per- the amendment proposed ; for withhaps a treasonable sentence. I say out this amendment, such a contest treasonable, Sir ; for according to may very probably be the coníe. the law of parliament, there may quence of the oath now under conbe treason against the constitution as fideration. Suppose the other house well as against the crown ; and F hould think fit to inquire into the if an officer should, by the sen- proceedings of some future court. tence of a court-martial, be con- martial, and should commit a memdemned to be shot for refusing to obey ber of that court-martial for not deorders not only unlawful, but such claring before them as a couse of jus. as 'evidently and directly tended to tice, how he and the rest voted in Go
that court martial, I believe, this February, 1751.
house would take notice of such a and liberties of this country, may be commitment, and would determine deeply affected by the behaviour and it to be an incroachment upon the proceedings of such courts, either by privileges of the commons. And, on sea or land. If the members of the other hand, if we should com- . those courts should once come to be mit a member of a court-martial for -- more afraid of the resentment of not declaring to this house as a court A their general or admiral, than of the of justice, how he and the other resentment of this house, they may members voted in that court-martial, manage it so as in a few years to set the other house would probably take that general or that admiral above notice of it, and might find a me- the resentment of either or both thod for bringing the case before houses of parliament. But how fall them, which would certainly occa- we make our resentment terrible, if fion not only a contest, but a breach, B we part with that power which alone between the two houses.
makes it terrible? What is it that Thus, Sir, any gen:leman, with- makes the resentment of this house out being a conjurer, may foresee, terrible to evil-doers? It is our that the oath, as it now stands, may being the grand inquest of the naprobably be attended with most fatal tion. Can we perform that function, consequences; therefore, if this oath if men are tied up by oath from of secrecy be to stand part of this C making any discovery ? bill, I hope, the amendment pro- I fall grant, Sir, that, notwithposed will be agreed to. But I ftanding this oath, we may have a confess, I am against the oath itself; proof of the sentence, and of some for I think the proceedings of all part of the proceedings, because courts of justice ought to be in the we may order them to be laid before most open and publick manner, that us; and from these we may be conthe impartial world may have an D vinced, that every interlocutory reopportunity to judge of them, and solution as well as the final sentence that the judges may meet with that were most unjuft and oppressive, general applause or censure they may or of the most dangerous consedeserve, which the publick, when quence to our liberties : We may fully informed, will always justly even vote them so, with a nemine bestow. A good and an upright judge contradicente prefixed to our resoluwill never desire to make a secret E tion ; but this would serve only to of any part of his proceedings; but a bring us into contempt with the wicked one certainly will ; for from people, as well as the army ; for the highest authority we know, who we could proceed no further : We they are that love darkness rather could neither impeach nor order in than light ; and no man, I think, a bill of pains and penalties, withthat has a due regard for that autho- out some proof as to the particular rity, can ever be for indulging them F men who concurred in that sentence, in their choice.
or in those resolutions, and this we For this reason, Sir, I am against fall effectually debar ourselves of, this oath of secrecy in general; but if we reject the amendment proif it passes without this amendment, posed; for by the sentence and rewe shall, in my opinion, shut the doors solutions all would appear to have of this house against that information concurred, and consequently to be which we ought carefully to seek G equally guilty; and such a court-marafter, and closely attend to : I mean tial would certainly take care, that, the behaviour and proceedings of when they came to vote, there should courts martial; for not only the be no by-standers nor liftners. publick service, but the conllitusion
1751. PROCEEDINGS of the PolITICAL CLUB, &c. 59
Thus, Sir, with respect to the tent with the service; and I likewise army at least, we shall render it im- know, that whilft courts-martial poffible for us to perform that office, preserve their integrity, a man's liwhich has always hitherto made this berty and property is as safe under house a check upon the ambition of their jurisdiction, as under the juriswicked men ; and whether this be diction of common law. He knows consistent with our duty, or with A the laws, he knows the methods by the security of our liberties, I hope, which he is to be tried ; and by a gentlemen will seriously consider, careful observance of his dury, he before they give a negative to this may prevent his being ever in danger question.
of suffering by their fentence. What
I mean, Sir, is a man's being subjectI shall next give you a Debate we ed to the arbitrary will and pleasure had in our Club upon this Question : B of his commanding officer, and unWhether a Clause ought not to be avoidably exposed to the danger of added to the Mutiny-Bill
, for pre- suffering in his person or property, venting any Non-commission Of- by the whimsical and anmerited reficer's being broke, or reduced in- fentment of such officer ; for a man to the Ranks, or any Officer or in these circumstances may truly be Soldier's being punished, but by said to be a slave, and very often the Sentence of a Court-Mar. C suffers for what he ought to be retial * : Which Question was intro
warded. duced by C. Trebonius in a Speech
When I talk of the properties of to the following Effect:
foldiers, gentlemen may perhaps,
Sir, make themselves merry with Mr. President,
what I say ; for I shall allow, that SIR,
very few of them can ever arrive at Believe every gentleman will ad-D any property ; but I hope, it will
mit, that one of the great ends be granted, that every officer, comof our fitting here is, to take care not missioned or non commiffioned, has only of the liberties and properties of fome property. His office or rank the people in general, but of every is his property, as well as the pay man and every set of men in particu. which belongs to it ; and it is a lar ; and there is no set of men property, which we are to supin the kingdom whose liberties and E pose, he has purchased by his ferproperties we ought to be more care: vice. I shall admit that this is not ful of, than those of our soldiers and always the purchase ; for in the arfailors, both on account of their my as well as in other departments, distinguished merit, and on account men are sometimes preferred for of the danger accruing from their be- what they ought to be cashiered; ing once brought into a state of Na- and some, I believe, especially of very ; for if this should ever happen, F the non-commissioned officers, are they will probably, and may ealily, raised (as one officer wittily said to enable fome future ambitious prince another, who had a handsome wife) or prime minister to bring the rest of not by the sword but the scabbard. their countrymen into the same con- But in general, I hope, we may supdition with themselves. When I pose, that no officer, not even a cortalk of the liberty and property of poral, obtains his preferment but by foldiers and failors, I do not mean, G the merit of his service, and that I that they should be exempted from must reckon a much more valuable military law, or a military jurisdic- confideration, at leaft with regard tion ; for that, I know, is inconfil. to the publick, than if he had bought GT.
ic . See our Magazinc for laf year, p. 313, col. 2.
it at the highest price with his mo- Now, Sir, this is really granting ney. An officer's rank in the army, to the colonel a more arbitrary and let it be what it will, I muft there- greater power over the staff-officers fore look on as his property; and in his regiment, than his majesty has this house ought to take care,
that over the commillioned officers in his no man should be stript of his pro- army ; for tho' his majesty may perty, unless he has been guilty of A cashier such an officer by his fole some very great crime, or some hei. authority, he cannot reduce him to nous neglect of duty.
a private centinel. If any such offiBut, Sir, with regard to the staff- cer be cashiered, he is abiolutely dil. officers, I do not know how a cur. missed the service, and may betake tom has prevailed in the army, that himself to some other employment, they are at the absolute disposal of or go into foreign service ; but if a the colonel of the regiment, and B colonel takes a difike, however that he may, whenever he pleases, whimsical, however unjust, to any degrade them of the preferment staff officer in his regiment, he may they have thus purchased, and re- reduce him to a private centinel, duce them into the ranks, that is, and oblige him to serve, perhaps reduce them again to the state and during the rest of his days, as a condition of a common foldier.
common foldier, in that very regiWhen this custom was first intro- C ment where he once had a com. duced I cannot determine ; but I mand; which is certainly a more think it was never established by a. severe punishment than that of disny article of war, before the year charging him from the service. And 1747, when our usual articles of
tho' a serjeant or corporal of foot war underwent many and great al- be commonly reckoned but a mean terations, most of which were un- employment, I must observe, that necessary even for the frictest disci- D a quarter-master of dragoons is but pline, and could serve no purpose a itaff officer, and yet it is a post but that of vesting an absolute and that I have know sold for 400 guidesporick power in the chief com- neas, and a post that no gentleman, mander of our army.
In that re- pot otherwise provided for, would markable year, indeed, this power disdain to accept of. of a colonel's reducing a non-com- From hence we may fee, Sir, millioned officer to a private centi. E what a dependent Navish state all nel, by his sole and absolute autho- the non-commissioned officers of our rity, was nipt into our articles of army are in : Is it proper that any , war, and now stands, I think, in British subject, especially those of the 16th article of the 15th section, our army, should be continued in selating to the administration of juf- such a flavish state ? Is it necessary tice ; which provides, that no com- for the service? If any non-commillioned officer shall be cashiered, F millioned officer should really be or dismissed the service, except by guilty of any crime, any neglect of his majesty's order, or by the sen- duty, or any disrespect towards his tence of a general court-martial, colonel, can we suppose, that a reapproved by him, or the command- gimental court-martial would not er in chief appointed by him ; but punish him as severely as he deserthat non-commissioned officers may ved ? Why then leave in the colobe discharged as private soldiers, Gnel of a regiment, such an absolute and may, by the order of the colonel and arbitrary power over that proof the regiment, or by the sentence perty, which men have purchased by of a regimental court-martial, be their merit in the service of their reduced to private centinels.
country? But, Sir, it is not only
1751. ProceEDINGS of the POLITICAL CLUB, &c.
61 the property of such officers, but especially that of reducing a staff-oftheir persons, and the person of every ficer to a centinel, but by the senfoldier in the army, that by custom tence of a court-marcial. are in some measure under the ar. Let us consider, Sir, that the sucbitrary power of the commanding cess of our armies in time of war, officer, or at least of the commander depends as much upon the bravery in chief of an army. I do not say, A of our common soldiers, as upon that the commander in chief can by the bravery and conduct of our of custom order a staff officer or soldier
ficers ; and that it is this alone to be put to death, or dismembered, which makes our troops superior to without the sentence of a court- any equal number of those of France; martial; but without any such sen- for without being accused of disre. tence they have sometimes been very spect, I believe, I may fay, that the severely punished ; and this is a B French officers are equal to our own power which ought not to be trufted,
both in conduct and courage.
For I think, with any man whatsoever, this reason we should take care not especially as the offender may be to depreciate that which is the chief immediately confined, and very incitement to bravery in our comquickly brought before a court-mar- mon men. What is this incitement ? tial.
An halbert, Sir, is almost the only What is the end of punishment, Sir? Creward, the highest preferment that Not merely resentment or revenge,
a common soldier can expect. While hope : Is it not, ought it not always this continues dependent upon the to be inflicted as an example and a mere whim of a colonel, can it be terror, for preventing others from such an incitement as it would be, being guilty of the like offence? How
were a man insured of holding it can it answer this end, when the during life, unless justly deprived of offence is not publickly and certainly Dit by a fair trial before a court-mar
D known ? Is not this always the case, tial, for some heinous crime or neg. when it is inflicted by the sole ar- lect of duty ? bitrary authority of the colonel, or
Besides, Sir, I think, that for the commander in chief? He may pub- safety of the commissioned officers lish his reason for punishing, and he in our army, this power which the may assign a justifiable reason ; but
colonel has over the staff-officers of mankind generally and rightly em- his regiment ought to be abridged. 'brace the maxim, that every man Suppose a colonel should conceive a ought to be presumed innocent till he
pique against some captain in his reis proved guilty. The army will giment, and Mould bring him to be therefore reason thus with them.
tried by a court-martial for some selves : If this was the true reason, pretended military crime, which why was not the man tried by a court- might affect his honour, if not his martial? Why was not the fact there life: The witnefles against him would proved against him? They will chere. probably be two or three serjeants or fore conclade, that the reason as.
corporals of the same regiment; and figned was not the true reason; and when they know that they must they will probably suppose a reason either swear against the captain acnot much to the honour of him who cused, or be reduced to private cenordered the punishment to be in
tinels, and obliged to serve for ever flicted. Thus, Sir, a colonel or after as common soldiers in the regia commanding officer should, for the ment, could fuch a captain depend fake of his own character, as well upon his innocence ? could he expect as for the sake of example, never that the crime would nos be fully order any punishment to be inflicted, proved against him?