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Debate Granting Pay For Sixteen Thousand Hanoverian Troops Post by :15547 Category :Nonfictions Author :Samuel Johnson Date :September 2011 Read :2472

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Debate Granting Pay For Sixteen Thousand Hanoverian Troops


(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 empire.

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 produced.

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 assistance.

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 liberties.

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 him.

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 forces.

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 government.

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 afraid.

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 Britain.

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 insinuations.

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 end)
Samuel Johnson's Writings: Debate granting pay for sixteen thousand Hanoverian troops

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