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conceived, might be obtained upon the condition of being treated as British soldiers, without any treaty having been in existence. With regard to the exception also of the Hessian troops from being liable to be called into service any where but in Great Britain and Ireland, unless in Germany and the Low countries, he thought it an unfortunate exception; because under the construction of the treaty, he conceived that Hessian troops could not be applicable to service in the West Indies, or in Gibraltar. If the exception had been the other way, he should have thought it better; because, in all probability, Hessian troops would never be required to serve in Great Britain and Ireland; but might be of use in Gibraltar, in America, and in the West Indies. It was not very likely that a future war would commence in the manner that the late war had done; but it was not impossible, and it was to be remembered, that Hessian troops were then employed at Gibraltar and in America. A great deal depended in forming a judgment of the treaty under consideration, upon a knowledge of the negociations then pending with other foreign powers. He had, on the first day of the session, observed, that he meant not to press for an improper communication, nor was it his wish, at that moment, although without such a knowledge it was impossible to decide upon the merits of the treaty in question; but he hoped, that voting for the sum then moved for, would by no means pledge the House, or preclude him or any other gentleman, from examining into, or objecting to, any future measure that might be proposed to: parliament, as a consequence of the treaty.
The motion was agreed to nem. con.
AUGMENTATION OF THE LAND FORCES.
December 1o. THIS day an augmentation of the land forces was proposed by
1 the secretary at war, for the purpose recommended in the king's speech at the opening of the session, namely, that of maintaining our distant possessions in an adequate posture of defence. The proposed augmentation was to be effected by re-establishing the third and fourth battalions of the sixtieth regiment, and ine creasing the number of men in the regiments on the West India service; the augmentation amounting in the whole to 3,064 men. At the same time the secretary at war informed the House, that
his majesty had been graciously pleased to declare, that, as his household troops were not, in proportion to their expences, so materially conducive to the strength and security of the kingdom as the other forces; and, as the augmentation proposed would be the cause of laying additional burthens upon his subjects ; he was willing to contribute his share, by sacrificing ornament to service, in such a reduction of his household troops as should be deemed necessary and proper. These propositions gave rise to a long and interesting debate.
Mr. Fox expressed his astonishment at not discovering some better and more satisfactory reason assigned for the proposed increase of the establishment for the plantations, than the two words mentioned, that ministers had found the West Indies, upon investigating their situation during the late transactions on the continent, to be rather subjects of " anxiety" than of " comfort”. These words were fortified only by the opinions of the officers and commanders on the West. India islands, as to the force they severally thought requisite for the defence of the islands they commanded. For a committee of the House of Commons to vote away the money of their constituents, upon such grounds as those, would be one of the most singular instances of blind confidence in a minister that ever had been imagined possible, and could be justified only by an universal confession of that House, that such was their personal regard for the minister, such their implicit, unlimited, and extraordinary confidence, that they were ready to trust him generally with the whole management and execution of the various offices of government, to give up their parliamentary functions, to resign all pretensions to investigation, check, and controul, and readily to vote whatever he should be pleased to desire, without hearing a single reason stated for the innovations that he might choose, one after another, to introduce. Instances might occur in which it would prove both wise and necessary to place a full confidence in ministers, and to give them credit for the just application of the confidence so placed in them. For example, the minister had charged 80,oool. secret service money expended during the late affair in Holland. That was an occasion of the sort to which he was referring. He had there given the minister his confidence freely and readily. And why? Because the event of the transaction sufficiently proved that a wise use had been made of the money, and that it had been well laid out. So again in other cases of a single and temporary nature. Even . now, if the minister had come and proposed an augmentation of the army abroad for a single year, he might have been in
duced to have given him his confidence, upon his saying, *356 I have a reason for this augmentation, sufficiently cogent to
be the mstently win the" But wht
warrant it, but I cannot explain it to the House at present.” That would have been a fit occasion for confidence, and the executive government must have been given credit to for the validity of the reason, though it was not explained. But when a measure was meant to be permanent, as in the present instance, the House could not, consistently with their duty to their constituents, blindly give the minister credit for the propriety of his suggestion. They were bound to call for the reasons upon which it was grounded, to examine those reasons seriously and accurately, and to reject or approve the proposition, according as it should appear to their judgment to merit rejection or approbation.
With regard to the peace establishment of the army, Mr. Fox said, he had been one of those ministers who proposed it, and when he came down to the House for that purpose, his expectation was, that it would have been thought too large, not too small. That expectation had been fulfilled, and it had been argued at the time, that the peace establishment of the army, considering the diminished state of the empire, ought to have been still more reduced. In order to shew upon what principles he had settled the plantation peace establishment in 1783, Mr. Fox took a view of the different state of our colonies at the conclusion of the peace of Aix la Chapelle in 1749, and at the conclusion of the peace of 1762. By some, he said, it had been brought forward as an argument, that with all America in our possession, our peace establishment ought to be larger than without it, and upon that proposition it was that the plantation peace establishment of the year 1763, when the whole of America was in our hands, was greater than that of 1749, when great part of Louisiana, all Canada, and the other provinces of America, were in the hands of the French. At present, we had less of America than at either of those periods; we had lost thirteen entire colonies, and the island of Minorca. His peace establishment for the plantations had therefore taken a medium, and being nearly the same with that of 1749, was not so large as that of 1763.
Upon the comparison, allowing the argument respecting the possession of all America to be well founded, his establishment might be liable to censure for its large extent and expence; but it surely could not be questioned as too limited and too narrow. Why was it, then, now to be altered ? Did : the accounts we had of late years received from the United States of America give us any reason for apprehension from that quarter? Surely not. Their situation could not be cause of alarm. To what reason, then, was he to ascribe the present proposed augmentation ? Was it solely because ministers saw
. [Dec. 100 more cause of anxiety than comfort, when they turned their attention to our distant possessions ? Had no other consideration excited their anxiety ? For instance, had the state of the navy been regarded by them without anxiety ? He had on a former day declared that he joined freely in applauding the late attempts to regain some continental connections. Why was he an advocate for such connections? Because, by creating a diversion for France nearer home, we weakened her powers of hostile attack abroad. Because the effect of such a circumstance enabled that House to save the money of their constituents, and to lessen their peace establishment. It was now rather a time to disarm and reduce the army, than a time for its increase. Of whom were we afraid? Of our new friends ? If apprehensions on their account, and the necessity for taking the last shilling out of the pockets of their constituents, arose from continental connections and our late alliances, greatly as he had professed himself the advocate and admirer of such connections and alliances, he would abjure all such doctrines as heretical and false, and abandon them for ever.
A worthy baronet behind him (Sir Joseph Mawbey) had created a smile when he mentioned the increase of the army as necessary to keep pace with the increasing army of France, since we had agreed to disarm our navy and reduce it. He verily believed that this was the true reason of the present proposed augmentation of the military establishment in the plantations ; for what else could account for so extraordinary a condition respecting our navy in the counter declaration of France ? If so, France had reason to triumph in the event of the late transactions, and not we, for France had obtained a rational and a great object. At no time had France been unwilling that we should increase our army. She was wiser, and knew it was the increase of our navy and not our military that she had to dread.
Mr. Fox alluded to Lord Chatham's famous expression that 56 America had been conquered in Germany," which, though bold and figurative, was not, he said, untrue. In like manner the converse of the proposition was founded, and, last war, America had been lost for want of a continental war in Germany. Mr. Fox reasoned upon the policy of economy, and contended that it was by a judicious saving of our resources alone, that we could enable ourselves to meet a war and its difficulties when a war should arise. He reminded the committee of the speech of Cicero, before the Roman senate, when he had, in one of his orations, in substance said, that “the example of Julius Cæsar was more forcible than any argument which he could urge.” France was, in the present case,
to us, what Julius Cæsar was to Rome. France had an army of 160,000 men, a powerful marine, and her frontier towns, such as Lisle, and others, were in complete repair. What, then, could have induced France to incur the disgrace resulting from her late conduct ? Nothing, but her inability to go to war in consequence of the miserably exhausted state of her finances; exhausted by the impolitic extent of her military preparations. Were we, then, so unwise as to follow the steps that had led France to ruin, and to take up a system of ex. pensive preparations that had been abandoned by all Europe? Mr. Fox took notice of what had fallen from his honourable friend (Colonel Fitzpatrick) respecting a commander in chief, declaring, that he was more than ever convinced of the necessity of there being a commander in chief of the army, a war minister or ministers who would take upon themselves the responsibility for military measures. In the present case, the secretary at war who opened the estimate had mentioned the opinion of the officers and commanders in the West Indies, as those who had been consulted as to the quantum of force necessary for each island. Such persons would have been the last authority he should have resorted to, and their opinions those which he should have been the least anxious to obtain ; because nothing could be more obvious than that each commander of an island would demand as large a force as he thought equal to his responsibility, and would govern himself in his requisition merely by a regard to his own particular situation; whereas, in judging of a proper peace establishment for the whole possessions of Great Britain, much depended on a general and comprehensive view of all its parts, and their exigencies, relatively compared; a matter to which a commander in chief, or a war minister, could alone be competent.
From the attempt of that day to increase the permanent peace establishment of the army, it was evident that he was the only minister that had ever been chargeable with having refused to take the money out of the pockets of the people when he ought to have done so, or to have established too small a standing army in time of peace.. With regard to patronage, also, which had been charged against him as the object of his pursuit when in office, respecting the army at least, he had that day been fully acquitted by the secretary at war, since the right honourable baronet had explicitly declared, that for the five last years not a single promotion had been made but by purchase, and had stated the want of patronage as a serious inconvenience resulting from the plan of seconding the officers of the reduced regiments. Mr. Fox reminded the committee, that in the year 1780, a vote had
ishment at had ever of the lo have es with regeneras