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may conclude, that there will always be plots and con trivances in this kingdom against the person in possession of the throne; and while there is a pretender, he may have, without all doubt, his agents in the army, as well as he has every where else: under such circumstances it is not to be doubted, but that some of the officers may, at some time or other, be drawn away from their duty to their king and country; some of them may happen to be misled, and drawn into engagements against his majesty's person and government; and while his majesty is in such danger, shall we put it out of his power to remove those officers from their commands in the army, though he has certain information of their being in a plot to overthrow his government, perhaps even to take away his life?
This, my lords, his majesty may have most certain information of; the officers concerned in such engagements may be made known to him, beyond all doubt or contradiction, and yet the proofs may be such as would not prevail upon a court-martial to condemn their brother officer to death, or even to be broke; or they may be such as could not properly, at least at that time, be laid before a court martial; because, if they were laid before any such court, the informers, and all the other methods by which the plot was at first discovered, and the whole progress of it traced, must then become publicly known, by which all further discovery would be effectually prevented; and if the bill now presented should pass into a law, his majesty would be under a necessity of laying all these proofs immediately before a court martial, or of allowing such treacherous officers, perhaps even one of his chief generals, to continue in command, by which they might probably be enabled to render their conspiracies successful. For which reason I hope, that none of your lordships will approve of this bill, when you consider how dangerous it may prove to be for our present happy establishment, and how much it may weaken the hands of the government against any
attempts that may hereafter be made in favour of the pretender.
Besides this, my lords, there are many other cases which might be mentioned, wherein his majesty might have very good reason to remove an officer, though it would not be at all proper to make that reason so public as to lay it before a court martial. There are likewise many little crimes which an officer may be guilty of, and for which he might highly deserve to be removed, and yet these crimes may be such as could not well come under the cognizance of a court martial; at least it would not be possible to obtain a sentence of a court martial for the removing of such an officer: for when gentlemen sit in judgment upon a brother officer, in order to determine whether he ought to be broke or not, it is to be supposed that they will not pass judgment against him, unless some very enormous crimes be fully proved before them; which would make it impossible to keep up that strict discipline and regular subordination, that must be observed in all regular armies, or indeed in any army fit for service, or that may be depended on for the defence of a country.
I must indeed say, my lords, that if any attempts had ever been made towards modelling the army, and making it fit for any bad purpose, there might then have been some occasion for proposing such a bill as this now before us; but as no such attempts have ever been made, as no such attempts can be so much as apprehended from his present majesty, I am therefore surprised to hear such a bill so much as proposed in this house, at present. I am sure the passing of such a bill, at present, would be a subjecting of the nation to many great and certain dangers and inconveniences, for the sake of avoiding an inconvenience that has never been felt by. any, but in imagination; and for this reason I must be against giving the bill a second reading.
EARL OF ANGLESEA.
His Speech on the Motion for the Removal of the Duke of Bolton and Lord Cobham from their Regiments.
I VOTED for the bill, which your lordships have been pleased to reject; and I voted for it, because I heard what I thought very strong and convincing arguments offered for it, and not the least shew of argument against it. What the noble duke was pleased to take notice of, was a very good argument for offering an amendment to the bill, but it was no argument against the bill itself, and much less against the second reading of it. It is certain, that men are sometimes guided by their hopes, as well as by their fears; but, surely when the hopes of preferment, and the fears of starving, are put together in the scale against virtue and conscience, they will jointly weigh more heavily, than either of them would do separately. I cannot allow, that every man, who may be governed and directed in his way of acting and speaking, by the fear of starving, will likewise be directed by the hopes of preferment, or the hopes of a more lucrative post or employment; for he must have a small share of virtue, and a very great share of ambi tion or covetousness, who is directed to act against his conscience, by the single hopes of preferment, or the hopes of a more lucrative post or employment. And it must be granted, that there are many men, who have so little ambition qr covetousness, that if they are but made
sure of a moderate support for life, the hopes of preferment, or the hopes of adding to their yearly income, will have so little effect upon them, that, with even but a small share of virtue, they may hold out against the most alluring hopes: but it must be allowed, that the man who stands his ground against the fears of being reduced to a starving condition, as well as against the hopes of preferment, and adding to his yearly income, must have a very great share of virtue; a greater share, I am afraid, than most men can brag of in this degenerate age. As for those who are quite abandoutd, and governed entirely by their own selfish ends, I believe it is not possible to make them honest or virtuous; but surely there are degrees both of vice and virtue. All men are not equally vicious; and if we could, by the bill's being passed into a law, but have preserved the virtue of some, it would certainly have been worth our while; we could afterwards have amended it, if we had found, that what was done was not sufficient.
As to the address now proposed, I connot see, my lords, how it is possible that an humble address from either house of parliament can be deemed an attack upon the prerogative of the crown. His majesty, or any of his successors, may make what use they please of any of the prerogatives of the crown; but it is certain, that if ever any bad use is made of those prerogatives, the parliament has a right, nay, it is their duty, to inquire into it, and to desire his majesty to acquaint them who it was that advised him to take such a step. This has always been the practice of parliament, as to every prerogative that was ever claimed by the crown. This is the very case now before us: his majesty has made use of his prerogative in removing two noble lords from their commands in the army. These removals have occasioned a most universal complaint through the whole nation, because it is generally believed, that there were no sufficient or good reasons for removing them; and as it is the duty of this house to take care, that his majesty VOL. I.
shall not by any step he may be advised to take, incur the general censure of the people; therefore this general complaint that has been raised, is a most sufficient foundation for the address now proposed. His majesty's conduct is no way concerned in the question, it is only the conduct of those who advised him; if they advised him well, they will be justified by what is now proposed; if they advised him ill, they certainly deserve at least the censure of this house: but to tell us that his majesty's conduct is, or can be concerned, in any such question, is directly to tell us, that the parliament of Great Britain shall never inquire into any thing, that their king shall be pleased, by the advice of his ministers, to do.
As to the number of those who have been removed, it is of no signification in the present question; the cause of removal is what your lordships are to inquire into for if those two noble lords were removed only as an example to others, one example may serve to keep hundreds in awe; and if that example was made, only to serve a ministerial end, it may be of the most fatal consequence to our constitution. For this reason I shall be for the address moved for. The motion may perhaps be rejected by a majority of this house; but if it be rejected, the whole world will be convinced, that those two noble lords were removed from their commands in the army, for no cause; at least, for no cause that can well be publicly avowed.