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causes and consequences to each of those reductions ; instead of assuring us, that to their own private knowledge, the officers of the army had frequently, on extraordinary occasions, assisted the civil magistrates in the execution of their duty ; instead of reviving the old exploded argument of disaffection and jacobitism, I wish, instead of rambling so widely from the point in debate, they would have dealt more candidly with their audience, and told us plainly, whether they think a standing land force will always be necessary to preserve and secure our present happy settlement: or whether they think the civil constitution of this kingdom so weakly and so imperfectly framed, as to want something of the military power to strengthen and sustain it. If they entertain the first of these notions, they must give me leave to take notice, that such an insinuation is unjust, and the argument odious; since it is a very gross reflection on our present happy settlement, which is founded on the principles of liberty : and which you know, sir, was intended to rectify all the errors and to reform all the abuses of preceding reigns. I say, it is a gross reflection on our present settlement to suppose, that his majesty cannot wear his crown with safety, but by burchening the nation with the constant charge of maintain. ing near eighteen thousand men, but by establishing a force which will perpetually interfere with the liberty of his subjests, and consequently, shake the foundation of his throne. For, however ehangeable the counsels and actions of ministers may be, the nature of things is permanent: and it is impossible that what has been the constant, the certain cause of destruction to other governments, should by any new schemes, by any refinements in politics, be made the sole, or at least the chief, security of his majesty's crown. 'Tis true, indeed, that the parliament has of late years consented to keep up an extraordinary number of troops in time of peace, for reasons better known to those who gave their consent, than to me who opposed them when they did so. But
it has neither yielded up, or renounced that fundamental maxim, viz. That a land force in England ought to be considered as the creature of necessity, which should not be allowed to subsist one moment longer than the cxigencies of the state require.
If they entertain the second notion, they are equally mistaken in that, as in the first : for it is a notion highly injurious to our constitution, which was so happily compounded in its original formation, that it can receive no addition or alteration without prejudice. There is so close, so just a connection betwixt all the parts of it, that if any one should be made independent of the rest, it would destroy that symmetry, which is essential to the whole, and which distinguishes it from all other constitutions. The crown, though limited, is armed with prerogative and power, sufficient as well to defend itself as to protect its subjects. The people are possessed of rights and privileges in as extensive a degree as is consistent with the nature of monarchy, and those rights and privileges are secured to them by the strongest and most sacred obligations. Nay, this notion is not only injurious, but impracticable: for what I have frequently advanced here must be universally allowed that the civil and military power cannot subsist long together; and it is easy to foretel which will at last prevail, which will at last assume the sole dominion. We see the fatal effects of such a conjunction in those kingdoms where armies tyrannize, and where senates servilely obey.
Now, God forbid that the delightful view, the glo. rious prospect which his majesty has opened to his subjects, of their present envied condition, and of their future unspeakable felicities, should terminate in confusion and calamity. God forbid that any compliance, any resolution of ours, should endanger or alter the best constitnted, the best balanced government in Europe. For as it is the glory of our ancestors that they have maintained it in opposition to all the attempts of innovation
and that they have transmitted it entire to their posterity, so it will be a mark of eternal infamy to that generation, in whose time it shall happen, either by the ambition of the prince, or by the treachery of the ministry, or by the slavishness of the people, to be surrendered or de stroyed.
But I forbear running into general arguments. I forbear, too, answering the distinctions which have been made betwixt parliament armies and crown armies. For by what epithets soever distinguished, or by what authority soever raised or allowed, armies are in their nature the same, and the danger of continuing them the same: as I have formerly endeavoured to prove, when the mi. nistry required for many sessions an extraordinary number of land forces, only because they had by their ne. gligence, or by their insufficiency, so incumbered and embarrassed the public affairs, that they wanted a strong. er guard, a more effectual support to secure their administration, than their own wisdom and conduct.
But the case is altered, and his majesty has extricated us out of all the difficulties, out of the long unsettled state of affairs, in which his ministers had involved us. I therefore rest the whole debate on the circumstances we are said to be in at this day; and in that view I take it to be impossible for any one, who is a well wisher to the true and ancient constitution of this kingdom, to vote for the question as it now stands. I submit indeed to the amendment made by a noble lord, (Lord Morpeth) for a smaller number of forces than was at first proposed; I mean for twelve thousand rather than near eighteen thousand men, only as it is the minus malum, and not because I think that number now necessary for our pre. servation, nor because I think any number ought ever to be admitted into our establishment, or considered as a part of our constitution, on any pretence whatsoever.
SIR ROBERT WALPOLE.
His Speech on the same.
Sir, I FIND the gentlemen who oppose the motion made by my honourable friend, have all along argued, as if the number of forces now proposed were to be kept up against law, or continue for ever : whereas the very design of the motion made to this house is, in order to have a law for keeping them up ; and all that the gentleman wants by his motion is, that they shall be continued for this year only. The case then before us is, whether it will be more proper, and more for the benefit of the nation, to keep up the number proposed for one year, or by an ill-timed frugality to reduce some part of them and thereby expose the nation to be contemned and despised by our neighbours round us, and that at a time when the public tranquillity is but just settled, and be. fore we can know whether some of our neighbouring powers are satisfied or not. Nations, as well as private men, must accommodate their measures to the times they live in. The circumstances of Europe are now much altered from what they were in former days; but a very few ages ago there was no such thing in Europe as what we now call a standing army ; there was nothing but the militia in any country, and therefore it was no way necessary for us to have any thing else. If we quarrelled with any of our neighbours, we were sure they had nothing but militia to bring against us; our militia was, and I hope still is, as good as theirs; but I do not believe that any man will say, that the militia of any country can be made fully as good as regular troops, bred up to discipline, and accustomed to command for many years: the thing is impossible ; and it is so looked on by all the powers of Europe. There is not now a sove. reign state in Europe but keeps a body of regular troops in their pay: there are none of our neighbours but what keep a much greater number than we do, and therefore it is become in a manner absolutely necessary for us to keep some. We must have some regular troops to oppose to those that may upon a sudden emergency be brought against us, and to obstruct and oppose their passage
till we have time to raise more. The only ques. tion is, how great a number we ought to keep, and in what manner they are to be kept up, and so as not to be dangerous to our constitution.
As to preventing of any danger arising from the regular forces kept up, I do not think there can be a better method proposed, than that of keeping them up only by authority of parliament, and continuing them only from year to year; by this method, sir, they must always be dependent upon, and subservient to the parliament or people, and consequently can never be made use of for any thing but for the preservation and safety of the people against all attempts, foreign and domestic; and while they are kept up in this manner, they will always be a terror to our enemies, without subjecting us to any of those misfortunes which other countries have fallen into. A standing army, I find, is represented by some gentlemen who have spoke upon the other side of the question, as not to be depended on even by the king, whose service they are in. I grant that an army of British subjects, whatever way kept up or modelled, is not to be trusted to by a king who makes any attempts upon the liberties of the people; but if such an army, raised and maintained without consent of parliament, was, we find, not to be trusted to by a king who had such designs, how much less can any man depend for the execution of such designs upon an army such as we have at present ? an army raised, kept up, and maintained by the people ; an army that may be dismissed by them when they please, and an arniy that is commanded by gentlemen of some of the best estates and families amongst us, who