Page images

for a share of the plunder, should annually pass his accounts without examination, or at least without objection; would that be a reason for saying that it would be unjust to the infant, when he came of age, to call his steward to account? Especially if that steward had built and furnished sumptuous palaces, living during the whole time, at a much greater expense than his visible income warranted and yet amassing great riches ? The public, Sir, is always in a state of infancy ; therefore no prescription can be pleaded against it—not even a general release, if there is the least cause for supposing that it was surreptitiously obtained. Public vouchers ought always. to remain on record ; nor ought any public expense to be incurred without a voucher. Therefore the case of the public is still stronger than that of an infant. Thus, Sir, the honourable gentleman who made use of this objection must see how little it avails in the case before us; and therefore I trust we shall have his concurrence in the question.

Speech in Support of Lord Limerick's Second Motion. 1742 1

As the honourable gentleman who spoke last against the motion has not been long in the House, it is but charitable to believe him sincere in professing that he is ready to agree to a Parliamentary enquiry when he thinks the occasion requires it. But if he knew how often such professions are made by those who, upon all occasions, oppose enquiry, he would now avoid them because they are generally believed to be insincere. He may, it is true, have nothing to dread on his own account from enquiry, but when a gentleman has contracted, or any of his near relations have contracted, a friendship with one who may be brought into danger, it is very natural to suppose that such a gentleman's opposition to an enquiry does not entirely proceed from public motives; and if that gentleman follows the advice of some of his friends I very much question whether he will ever think the occasion requires an enquiry into the conduct of our public affairs.

As a Parliamentary enquiry must always be founded on suspicions, as well as upon facts or manifest crimes, reasons may always be found for alleging those suspicions to be without

1 This speech was made in favour of inquiring into the alleged corruption of Wal pole's Government.

foundation; and upon the principle a Parliamentary enquiry
must necessarily lay open the secrets of government, no time
can ever be proper or convenient for such enquiry, because it
is impossible to suppose a time when the government has no
secrets to disclose. This, Sir, would be a most convenient
doctrine for ministers, because it would put an end to all
Parliamentary enquiries into the conduct of our public affairs ;
and therefore when I hear it urged, and so much insisted on
by a certain set of gentlemen in this House, I must suppose
their hopes to be very extensive. I must suppose them to
expect that they are.
Speech on Sir W. Yonge's Motion Respecting the Hanoverian

Troops. 17421

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

If the honourable gentleman determines to abandon his present sentiments as soon as any better measures are proposed, the ministry will quickly be deprived of one of their ablest defenders : for I consider the measures hitherto pursued so weak and so pernicious, that scarcely any alteration can be proposed that will not be for the advantage of the nation. The honourable gentleman has already been informed that no necessity existed for hiring auxiliary troops. It does not appear that either justice or policy required us to engage in the quarrel 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 points, I think it may justly be concluded that the measures of our ministry have been ill concerted because it is undoubtedly wrong to squander the public money without effect : to pay armies, only to be a show to our friends and a scorn to our enemies.

The troops of Hanover, whom we are now expected to pay, marched into the low countries, Sir, where they still remain. They marched to the place most distant from the enemy, least in danger of an attack, and most strongly fortified, had an attack been designed. They have, therefore, no other claim to be paid, than that they left their own country for a place of greater security. It is always reasonable to judge of the

1 This speech was directed against the employment of Hanoverian troops by Great Britain.

future by the past, and therefore it is probable that next year the services of these troops will not be of equal importance with those for which they are now to be paid. I shall not, therefore, be surprised, if, after such another glorious campaign, the opponents of the ministry be challenged to propose better men and 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 ; 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 instead of assisting the Queen of Hungary, we have withdrawn from her a part of the allies, and have burthened the nation with troops from which no service can reasonably be expected.

The advocates of the Ministry have, on this occasion, affected to speak of the balance of power, the Pragmatic Sanction, and the preservation of the Queen of Hungary, not only as if they were to be the chief care of Great Britain which (although easily controvertible) might, in compliance with long prejudices be possibly admitted ; but as if they were the care of Great Britain alone. These advocates, Sir, have spoken as if the power of France were formidable to no other people than ourselves; as if no other part of the world would be injured by becoming a prey to an universal monarchy, and subject to the arbitrary government of a French, by being drained of its inhabitants only to extend the conquests of its masters, and to make other nations equally wretched ; 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 public faith, and the necessity of an exact observation of treaties, as if the Pragmatic sanction had been signed by no other potentate than the King of Great Britain ; as if the Public Faith were to be obligatory upon ourselves alone.

That we should inviolably observe our Treaties—observe them although every other nation should disregard them; that we should show an example of fidelity to mankind and stand firm in the practice of virtue, though we should stand

alone, I readily allow. I am, therefore, far from advising that we should recede from our stipulations whatever we may suffer in the fulfilment ; or that we should neglect the support of the Pragmatic Sanction, however we may be at present embarrassed, or however disadvantageous may be its assertion.

But surely, Sir, for the same reason that we observe our stipulations, we ought to excite other powers also to observe their own ; at the least, Sir, we ought not to assist in preventing them from doing so. But how is our present conduct agreeable to these principles ? The Pragmatic Sanction was guaranteed not only by the King of Great Britain, but by the Elector of Hanover also, who (if treaties constitute obligation) is thereby equally obliged to defend the House of Austria against the attacks of any foreign power, and to send his proportion of troops for the Queen of Hungary's support.

Whether these troops have been sent, those whose province obliges them to possess some knowledge of foreign affairs, are better able to inform the House than myself; but since we have not heard them mentioned in this debate, and since we know by experience that none of the merits of that electorate are passed over in silence, it may, I think, be concluded that the distresses of the Queen of Hungary have yet received no alleviation from her alliance with Hanover ; that her complaints have excited no compassion at that court and that the justice of her cause has obtained no attention.

To what can be attributed this negligence of Treaties, this disregard of justice, this defect of compassion, but to the pernicious counsels of those who have advised Her Majesty to hire and to send elsewhere those troops which should have been employed for the Queen of Hungary's assistance? It is not to be imagined, Sir, that his Majesty has more or less regard to justice as King of Great Britain than as Elector of Hanover, or that he would not have sent his proportion of troops to the Austrian Army, had not the temptation of greater profit been laid industriously before him. But this is not all that may be urged against such conduct. For, can we imagine that the power, that the designs of France, are less formidable to Hanover than Great Britain ? Is it less necessary for the security of Hanover than of ourselves that the House of Austria should be re-established in its former splendour and influence, and able to support the liberties of

Europe against the enormous attempts at universal monarchy by France ?

If, therefore, our assistance be an act of honesty, and granted in consequence of Treaties, why may it not equally be required of Hanover ? If it be an act of generosity, why should this nation alone be obliged to sacrifice her own interests for those of others ? or why should the Elector of Hanover exert his liberality at the expense of Great Britain alone ?

It is now too apparent, Sir, that this powerful, this great, this mighty nation, is considered only a province to a despicable Electorate, and, that in consequence of a plan formed long ago, and invariably pursued, these troops are here only to drain us of our money. That they have hitherto been of no use to Great Britain or to Austria, is evident beyond a doubt ; 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 absurd, ungrateful and perfidious partiality it is not necessary to declare. I doubt not that most of those who sit in this House can recollect a great number of instances in point, from the purchase of part of the Swedish dominions, to the contract which we are now called upon

to ratify. Few, I think, can have forgotten the memorable stipulation for the Hessian troops : for the forces of the Duke of Wolfenbutch which were scarcely to march beyond the verge of their own country; or the ever memorable treaty, the tendency of which is discovered in the name. A treaty by which we disunited ourselves from Austria, destroyed that building which we now endeavour, perhaps in vain, to raise again ; and weaken the only power to which it was our interest to give strength.

To dwell upon all the instances of partiality which have been shewn, and the yearly visits which have been paid to that delightful country; to reckon up all the sums that have been spent to

to aggrandise and enrich it would be an irksome and invidious task-invidious to those who are afraid to be told the truth, and irksome to those who are unwilling to hear of the dishonour and injuries of their country. I shall dwell no longer on this unpleasing subject than to express my hope that we shall no longer suffer ourselves to be deceived or oppressed; that we

« PreviousContinue »