Page images

never can be supposed capable of joining in any mca. sures of enslaving a country, where they have so great an interest, and where their ancestors have so often signalized themselves in the cause of liberty. It is not therefore to be imagined, that ever such an army can be of any dangerous consequence to our liberties, were they much more numerous than they are proposed to be.

It is certain, that every state in Europe now measures the strength of their neighbours by the number of regular troops they can bring into the field: the number, or even the bravery of any militia, is not now much regarded, and therefore the influence and the credit that every state in Europe has, or can expect in the public negotiations thereof, depends entirely upon the number of regular troops they can command upon any emergency. We must therefore conclude, that if we reduce the number of our forces, our influence abroad will decrease ; our enemies will begin to imagine that they may catch great advantages of us, or at least of our allies, before

we can be in a condition to afford any considerable assistance to our friends, or do any great injury to them: upon which account I cannot think it prudent to make any great reduction of our army, before the treaties we have made for establishing the tranquil. lity of Europe are fully and absolutely secured, by such alliances as make the execution of what we have stipulated and agreed upon certain and indisputable.

But even as to our security at home, I do not think, sir, that it can bear any reduction at present; we do not know what sudden and unexpected attempts may be made upon us. Notwithstanding the great army we have, as is pretended, at present, it is certain that we could not in several weeks time bring 5000 men of regular forces together in any part of the island, for opposing any invasion that may happen to be made upon us, without stripping our capital and leaving it without any defence against its open or secret enemies. Those who tell us, that there were no more than 7000 men in England Vol. I.


[ocr errors]

during the course of the late war, forget that we had at that time 4000 or 5000 men in Scotland, and had all along a great army abroad at our command, which we could bring over when we pleased, and did actually bring over 10,000 men from Flanders, immediately upon the first certain accounts we had that the French de. signed an invasion in Scotland; which made the number of regular forces then in the island above 20,000; and shews that we were very far from relying upon the 7000 men we then had in England, for our sole defence in the time of danger. Besides, we ought to consider that the king of France was then wholly taken up in defer:ding his own territories, and settling his son in the possession of the Spanish monarchy; he had not time to think of the Pretender, nor could he spare any troops for making an invasion upon us.

Whereas, should that nation or any other begin now to have a quarrel with us, the first thing they would probably do, would be to endeavour to steal in the Pretender upon us with a good body of regular troops : which attempt they will always be the more ready to make, the fewer regular forces we have at home to oppose them. We have now no army abroad at our com. mand; gur allies might perhaps have no more than were absolutely necessary for the defence of their own territories; and though they had, we know what a tedious affair it is, before they can be brought over to our assistance: we cannot, therefore, properly put our trust in any but those which we have within the island ; and the number proposed is the smallest we can trust to, till the affairs of Europe be so settled, as that we can be in no danger of an attack.

I must take notice, sir, that all those who are profess. ed enemies to our constitution and to the protestant succession, exclaim loudly against a standing army: there is not, I believe, a jacobite in the land, but what appears strenuously against the keeping up so great a number of regular forces. I must, sir, upon this occasion, acquaint you with a story that happened to me the other day. Some bills having been lately sent over from Ireland for his majesty's approbation, and among them one against the papists of that kingdom; counsel were admitted to be heard for and against the bill. In arguing of this matter, it happened that the counsel for the papists had occasion to refer to the articles of Limerick, and therefore wanted them to be read; but there being no copy of them then at the council board, their solici. tor, who was a papist, pulled a little book out of his pocket, and from thence read the articles. I supposed that this little book was his vade mecum, and therefore I desired to look upon it, and found that it contained those articles of Limerick; the French king's declaration against the states of Holland in the year 1701, and three arguments against a standing army : from whence I concluded, that this solicitor was a notable holder forth in coffee houses against the pernicious consequences of a standing army; and I do not doubt, but that if he were a member of this house, he would be one of the keenest among us against the present question : for which reason, sir, I shall glory in being one of those that are for it.


( Afterwards Earl of Bath, )

Was born 1682, and died 1764. He was the bitterest opponent Sit

Robert Walpole ever had, (which is said to have arisen from some difference between them at the outset of their political career) and he at length succeeded in driving him from his situation. He was member for Heydon, in Yorkshire. He lost all the popularity he had gained by his long opposition to the ministerial party, when he was made a peer, and sunk into obscurity and contempt. I think the following is the best of his speeches. He was, however, in general, a very able speaker. The stile of his speeches is particularly good, and exactly fitted to produce an effect on a mixed audience. His sentences are short, direct, pointed; yet full and explicit, abounding in repetitions of the same leading phrase or idea, whenever this had a tendency to rivet the impression more strongly in the mind of the hearer, or to prevent the slightest obscurity or doubt. He also knew perfectly well how to avail himself of the resources contained in the stately significance, and gross familiarity of the dialect of the house of commons. To talk in the character of a great parliamentary leader, to assume the sense of the house, to effect the extensive views and disinter. ested feelings that belong to a great permanent body, and to descend in a moment to all the pertness and scurrility, the conceit and self-importance of a factious bully, are among the great arts of parliamentary speaking. Doginatical assumptions, consequently airs, and big worels, are what convince and overawe the generality of hearers, who always judge of others by their pretensions, and feel the greatest confidence in those who have the least doubt about themselves. There is also in this gentleman's speeches, a character, which indeed they had in common with most of the speeches of the time ; that is, they discover a general knowledge of the affairs of Europe, and of the intrigues, interests, and engagements of the different courts on the continent; they shew the statesman, and the man of business, as well as the orator. These minute details render the speeches of this period long and uninteresting, which prevented me from giving so many of them as the ability displayed in them would otherwise have required. This diplomatic cloquence seems to have been gaining ground from the time of the revolution. We may sce from Lord Boling. broke's writings how much the study of such subjects was in fashion in bis time.

Mr. Pulteney's Reply.


We have heard a great deal about parliamentary armies, and about an army continued from year to year. I have always been, sir, and shall be, against a standing arıny of any kind. To me it is a terrible thing, whe. ther under that of parliament, or any other designation; a standing army is still a standing army, whatever name it be called by; they are a body of men distinct from the body of the people'; they are governed by different laws: blind obedience, and an entire submission to the orders of their commanding officer, is their only principle. The nations around us are already enslaved, and have been enslaved by those very means: by means of their standing armies, they have every one lost their li. berties. It is, indeed, impossible that the liberties of the people can be preserved in any country where a numerous standing army is kept up. Shall we then take any of our measures from the examples of our neighbours ? No, sir, upon the contrary, from their misfortunes we ought to learn to avoid those rocks upon which they have split.

It signifies nothing to tell me that our army is commanded by such gentlemen as cannot be supposed to join in any measures for enslaving their country; it may be so, I hope it is so; I have a very good opinion of many gentlemen now in the army; I believe they would not join in any such measures; but their lives are uncertain, nor can we be sure how long they may be continued in command; that they may not be all dismissed in a moment, and proper tools of power put in their room. Besides, sir, we know the passions of men; we know how dangerous it is to trust the best of men with too much power. Where was there a braver army than that under Julius Cæsar? where was there ever an army that had served their country more faithfully? That army was commanded generally by the best citi. zens of Rome; by men of great fortune and figure in

« PreviousContinue »