Page images

Rec. Oct. 16, 1878



FEBRUARY 3, 1741. The augmentation of the forces which had been agreed to in the Commons, and in the form which had been given to it by the Administration came before the Lords on the 3rd of February. It was met by an address, moved—it appears from the Secker MSS.-by the Earl of Chesterfield, who urged with great emphasis that the object of creating these eleven new regiments, with 362 commissions, was bribery at the ensuing election. The motion was as follows, “That an humble address be presented to his Majesty, humbly representing to his Majesty, that this House cannot conceive the intended augmentation of land forces to be necessary, either from the present situation of affairs in Europe, or from any lights they have received ; such as have always been thought necessary by our ancestors, to justify the laying any extraordinary burthens on the subject. And most humbly to beseech his Majesty, that if he should however think so great an augmentation absolutely necessary, he will, at least, be graciously pleased, as well for the present, as for the future ease of his subjects, to order it to be made in the most frugal manner, by such an addition of private men to the present regiments, as his Majesty, from his own wisdom and knowledge of the practice of most other countries, may judge to be most proper for military service, and least dangerous to this constitution.' Lord Bathurst, in supporting the address, asserted that Jacobite principles were totally eradicated. It appears, however, from the Stuart papers that the Pretender was in communication with several members of both Houses at the time. In the course of the debate, the Earl of Ilay said the expression 'we cannot conceive, &c.' was the most indecent and disrespectful that was ever offered to the Crown, and bade the Lords remember that they are Peers, but not forget that they are subjects. The motion was lost by 67 to 49.

It produced the following long protest.

ist, Because we conceive that nothing less than an evident and absolute necessity should prevail with us, to consent to any augmentation of our land forces, which in our opinions are, at present, fully sufficient for any good purposes, either abroad, or at home; being very near equal to the highest establishment,



during the whole course of the last general war. The national troops now subsisting (exclusive of those in Ireland) amount to 51,515 effective men; whereas our greatest number of national troops, in the last war, was but 67,000 men, including the noneffectives; which, reduced to the foot of the present establishment, makes but 57,000 effective men; and the present intended augmentation of 10,325 men, is such an exceeding as can only be authorized by the like public dangers ; which dangers not appearing to us, either from the debate, or from any information we have obtained, we are unwilling to trust more force in the hand of an Administration, which, as far as we are able to recollect, have not hitherto employed any they have been so trusted with to the honour and advantage of the nation. Extraordinary trust and confidence ought, as we apprehend, only to be placed in such, who, by the experience of their past conduct, have justly established their credit, and entitled themselves to be so trusted. But when we look back upon the several augmentations within these last twenty years, demanded and granted upon causes more strongly asserted, than clearly proved, but visibly without any good end ever attained ; and particularly when we reflect that by a most unaccountable fluctuation and contrariety of measures, a very great augmentation was made in the year 1727, to act in conjunction with France against the House of Austria, for whose defence the present augmentation is said to be principally intended; we thought it our duty to endeavour to prevent any unnecessary increase of our land forces; not being influenced either by the pretended apprehensions or real fears of an administration, the boldest in domestic, but, as we apprehend, the most pusillanimous in foreign transactions.

2ndly, Because we conceive, that dangers alleged from disaffection at home, are, in a great measure, groundless; no symptoms of such disaffection having appeared for many years, and the principles upon which it was formerly grounded, being almost universally worn out and exploded. And we think it highly necessary to distinguish between disaffection arising only from the conduct of the Administration, and disaffection to his Majesty and his royal family, though some may desire to blend them. For had the present general dissatisfaction at the inglorious, though burthensome measures of the Administration, been, in

truth, disaffection to his Majesty, as hath been often falsely suggested by those who desire to confound his cause with their own, twice the number of troops now proposed would not be sufficient to secure the peace of the Kingdom; but, on the contrary, we are persuaded, that the duty and loyalty of the nation to his Majesty and his royal family, and their hopes from his virtues, have checked and kept the dissatisfaction against the Administration within the due bounds of concern and lamentation.

3rdly, Because, considering the advantage of our situation as an island, and our superiority at sea, it is impossible for us to think ourselves in any danger of an invasion from Spain, even if those fleets were now in their ports, which we suffered them to send to America. Nor can we conceive, that about 28,000 effective men, not actually in this Kingdom, with all the advantages of horse and artillery, is not force sufficient to secure us from any body of foot, that any other power could possibly land on our coasts by surprise. And as for any great embarkation, it can neither be made on a sudden, nor in secret; we must have timely notice to provide superior fleets (which, in such a case, we presume, would be allowed to act) to strengthen our own corps, and render such an attempt wholly impracticable. In which opinion we are the more confirmed, because that in the most glorious year of the last war, when the Duke of Marlborough and his army were in the middle of Germany, out of the reach of giving us any assistance at home, it was not thought necessary, by the wise Administration of that time, to keep above 9000 men in this island, for our defence against France, then irritated by our successes; and surely, three times that number must be now abundantly sufficient, unless more are wanted for purposes not thought of by former Administrations, nor yet openly avowed by this.

4thly, Because, whatever demands may be made upon us by our allies on the continent, we conceive may be answered by the foreign troops now in our pay; and should any further assistance to them be necessary, it will not only be cheaper and safer to us, but more advantageous and agreeable to those Powers themselves, that we should furnish our quotas in money, with which they may raise a greater number of men than we are obliged to supply.

5thly, Because it has been undeniably proved, that this method of augmentation by new corps, is by one-third more expensive than that of adding private men to companies; the expense of raising those 5705 men, amounting to £ 116,322 148. 2d., whereas 5780, raised by additional men to companies, with a second lieutenant to each company, would have amounted but to 286,992 158., which would be not only a present saving of

$ 29,329, but a future saving of £10,134 per annum, upon the half-pay of the officers of those seven regiments, the few officers taken out of the half-pay only excepted. And we think, that at a time when the public expense is so very considerable, the strictest economy is requisite, the better to enable a burdened and indebted nation to continue those expenses, that may be more necessary to be borne, than easy to be supplied. And, as to the advantage of the service, the facts plainly proved in the debate, together with the practice of most other nations in Europe, and, in particular, of his Majesty's electoral dominions, convince us, that if this augmentation was made by additional men to companies, with a proper increase of sergeants and corporals, the military service, at least, for which alone it ought to be intended, would be better carried on than by the method now to be pursued.

6thly, Because arguments drawn from the usage of France, we conceive, do not hold with relation to us, it being well known, that the expense of 150,000 French troops do not amount to more than 50,000 English; that their Government, though once limited, is now absolute and military; that the poverty of their numerous nobility forces them into the army, where the court is glad to engage and keep them in dependence; and that no danger can arise to that constitution from the civil influence, which may attend such an establishment, their Parliament being only nominated by the Crown, and long since reduced, by ministerial arts, from their original power and dignity, to be no more than courts of justice and revenue.

7thly, Because we apprehend, that this method of augmentation by new corps, may be attended with consequences fatal in time of our Constitution, by increasing the number of commissions which may be disposed of with regard to parliamentary influence only. And when we look back upon the conduct of our Ad

« PreviousContinue »