rose to make his promised motion for the repeal of the Additional Force bill. He said, that with respect to the topic which their ldps. would more particularly have to discuss, it would not be necessary to occupy much of their time. He conceived, that on that head, to call their ldp.'s attention to certain effects of the measure, would alone be requisite. In viewing the subject before them, it would be necessary to advert to the situation of the country at the commencement of the war; a period at which the necessity of strong and energetic measures was universally acknowledged, and the measures which were then resorted to, were submitted to' without murmuring. The administration which succeeded the last, to a certain extent thought a change in the military system of the country expedient; and their prominent measure, in endeavouring to effect this, was the bill then under consideration. These ministers, in that respect, notwithstanding the magnificence and extent of their promises, and the strong and eloquent language in which one of them in particular reprobated the measures of their predecessors as weak, futile, and inefficient, had in their remedial provisions entirely, but above all, in 481 the measure under inspection, disappointed the expectations of an anxious and confident public. Their professions and promises were magnificent and gigantic, their performance diminutive. The present act emphatically illustrated this position; and when their ldps. considered what was said when it was first ushered into parliamentary notice, and compared its effects as they appeared in the documents before the house, the language of the poet might well be applied to it: "Parturiunt monies, et nascitur ridiculus mus."—His ldp. proceeded to state various instances in which the measure under consideration had completely failed. In one particular county, where the numbers expected and prescribed to be raised by the act were 1097, no more than 14 men were obtained. There were other cases in which the inefficacy of the bill was manifested nearly as much. What was expected of the parish officers, events had proved, was beyond their power to perform. He contended, that the sense of the country was against the bill, as a practical measure, and adverted to the great number of the representatives of this part of the United Kingdom, who opposed it in the first instance. A great stress was laid upon the support the measure would receive from the influence and personal exertions of individuals in different quarters. This expectation had been miserably disappointed. In proof of which, his ldp. Referred to the case of the Cinque Ports, in which there was raised by the parish officers, but a single man. Let their ldps. but consider the circumstances of this case; who the lord warden of the Cinque Ports was, the exertions which should be expected from him, in support of the measure, and his power and influence in that particular quarter; and, if, under such circumstances, in a place where so many men were expected to be raised, only one man was to be found, it was a most unfavourable symptom as to the general efficacy of the measure. Where then have vanished all his boasted promises? Were promises nothing? And here the noble lord thought he might be indulged in a few observations upon the language then held out by the present ministers, in declaiming on the incapacity, and reprobating the measures of their predecessors. And who are the persons who compose the present administration, that have so successfully substituted vigour for weakness, talents for incapacity? Does not the majority of the present 482 administration consist of those very persons who, when in place, were branded with imbecility? The nature of the change which formed what is called the present administration, afforded much disappointment and regret to him; much surprise and disappointment to the country at large. But what must now be the astonishment of every man, when we behold at the head; of his maj.'s council, that very person whom his present vigorous and enlighten* ed colleagues then held out to the world as the very child and champion of incapacity itself. The measure, however, which that child of incapacity produced, was vigour and efficacy itself, when compared more especially with the measure now under discussion, of which so much had been so boastfully promised, and of which so little had been reduced to effect. In the course of eight months, by certain parts of the accounts, it appeared that no more than 1295 men were raised, and of these, the number applicable to general service was only 343. In fact, not above the twentieth part of the expected number had been procured. It would be a misuse of their ldp.'s time to argue for the inefficiency of such a measure. And this was the only proof they had had of the vigour and energy of that administration, so high in their vaunts, and so gigantic in their promises. In saying this, he meant nothing personal to his maj.'s present ministers, for many1 of whom he had the highest respect. But he held it to be his duty, as a peer of parliament, and an hereditary counsellor of his sovereign, to speak the sincere conviction of his mind, as to their public measures. These, however, were such, as when he not only considered them in their effects and consequences, but, when viewing what bad passed and what had been said upon-the subject, he considered of what materials the present administration was composed, he felt it his duty, upon public grounds, generally and systematically to oppose them. He condemned many of, their hostile and offensive operations, particularly the catamaran expedition. He thought it would be sufficient to rest the merits of what be should propose upon the documents which were then before the house; the consideration of these would be sufficient to convince the house of the inefficacy of the measure, and induce them to repeal it. With respect to Ireland, its inefficacy and objectionable tendency was not less apparent. Upon the whole, from what he saw of the effects of 483 the bill, and from his conviction of what should be expected from it, he could with confidence propose to the house to expunge it from the statute book; and, under such impression, he should conclude by moving for the repeal of the said act.
§ Earl Camden
rose, fie observed he had listened with attention to the speech of the noble earl, and to him it appeared to be intended rather as an attack upon his maj.'s present govt. than as applicable to the measure in question; this he was the more induced to think, when he considered the allusions made to what had passed the last session of parliament, and the line of observation in which his noble friend indulged himself throughout. Will respect to the bill itself, he was rather obliged to his noble friend for bringing it under consideration. In considering the bill, the peculiar and extraordinary circumstances that preceded it, and which, to a certain extent still continued to operate, should be fairly considered. He was aware that, to a certain extent, endeavours had been made to counteract the operations of the bill; and these views would be rather forwarded, than otherwise, by the holding forth the idea that the measure was not likely to be persisted in. He differed widely from his noble friend in his opinion of the measure, as he knew that it was not only an efficient, but, he believed, it was likely to prove a very beneficial measure; at the same time he admitted, that the numbers at first expected were not raised under the bill. —But when all the circumstances under which it was to be carried into activity, were kept in view, this was less a matter of surprise, as time was necessary to give it a fair chance of success. He had thought the army of reserve act a good measure for giving a large and speedy augmentation to the regular army. But it was not denied, that the army of reserve act was accompanied by many inconveniencies, which it was very desirable to remove. It had been particularly the means of introducing high and unprecedented bounties. Government perceived the necessity of destroying this evil if it could possibly be effected, and the expedient which they had fallen on to accomplish this object was the very bill which the noble lord proposed to repeal. The numbers which had enlisted from the army of reserve into the regulars was a conclusive proof of the general principle on 484 which the bill was founded. But the bill held out, not only encouragements connected with the Army of Reserve Act, but others peculiar to itself. It was founded on the aid of local influence and strong public zeal, and he was confident that, if both these were properly applied they could not fail of producing the most important effects. If these were at any time, or in any district, totally dormant, the penalties which the bill inflicted, where the quota was not furnished, would furnish powerful means of recruiting for general service. The manner in which the bill was drawn offered strong inducement for the exercise of patriotism, and when properly understood, he had no doubt of its answering every object for which it was originally framed. If the bill were now repealed, the consequence must be that recourse must be again had to those high bounties to which the army of reserve had given rise, and to that system of balloting which it was allowed on all hands should be abolished as equally impolitic and oppressive. He was sorry that the merits of the bill were so much confounded with the character and merits of the administration. The noble lord who opened the business had described the measure as. a decisive evidence of the inefficiency of that administration which had held out such mighty promises to the country. He had, at the same time, argued, that such an administration as that now presiding over the national councils, was not such as the people required, or the state of the empire demanded. It was painful to him to dwell on a subject so personal, but he felt it to be due to himself and his colleagues in office to state, that if all the circumstances attending their acceptance of office were developed, much of the obloquy heaped on them would be spared. They had obeyed the call of their sovereign, from a sense of duty; they had not sought office from an inordinate thirst for power; they had not been hostile to that extended administration which the noble lord had declared to be, what the country expected; but they could not, consistently with their public feelings, refuse their services at a moment when they were called for by the sovereign at a difficult and trying crisis. The noble lord might lament the absence of an extended administration, but he had no right to arraign his maj.'s ministers for the arrangement, such as is now existed. But returning to the immediate question 485 before the house, he conjured their lordships hot to listen to a proposition for repealing the bill, at the time that it was beginning to produce the effects to be expected from it. Noble lords when they talked of the state of our military force, did-not seem to be aware how much had been added to it in the course of the last year. This number was no less than 28,000, of which number there were no less than 18,000 for unlimited service. When noble lords objected to the small numbers raised by this bill, they ought to bear in mind, that at this moment there were nearly 800,000 men in arms. It was not, therefore, at all a matter of surprize that men were raised with difficulty, and he was sure that the amount of the men raised last year was no sort of proof of want of activity on the part of the executive government. An impulse had been given to the recruiting service which, if suffered to go on, would, no doubt, be productive of the best effects. To repeal the bill would be to interfere with this impulse, and under this conviction he felt it his duty to resist the noble lord's motion.
The Earl of Suffolk
declared, that he could not discover from the documents on the table, where that large increase to our military force alluded to by the noble lord was stated. He saw only a statement of a few thousand men raised by the bill in the different parts of the United Kingdom. To talk, as the noble lord had done, of the effects of zeal and personal influence in insuring the success of the bill, was quite nugatory. The experiment of the effect of these had been tried, and bad been found inefficient in producing the end in view. In proof of this, the noble earl stated, that in that district in which the personal influence of the right hon. author of the measure chiefly lay, only one out of the quota of five hundred men had been obtained. It was quite clear from the past, that nothing had been effected by the bill, and there was very little hope of much good resulting from it in future. Being a bill totally useless in the attainment of its object, and being attended with many oppressive circumstances, he should certainly vote for its repeal, Before he sat down, he only begged leave to say, that if our force was really so much increased as had been described, the merit of this augmentation belonged to the late administration, and not to his maj.'s present ministers, It was not therefore either fair 486 or just to claim the merit-of services in which others were solely interested.
was anxious to know on what grounds ministers were desirous of resting the merits of the bill. He wished to understand whether they meant it as; a bill for recruiting our army, or a bill for raising money. If they meant it as a bill for raising men, it was clear, from the returns on the table, that it had completely failed. Ministers then, by opposing its repeal, certainly now meant it to be considered as a bill for raising money. But it had been said by a noble lord opposite, that if the bill was repealed it would be necessary again to have recourse to the ballot. He, for his part, professed himself no friend to the ballot, but in proposing the repeal he was convinced that his noble friend merely meant to pave the way for a complete review and amendment of our whole military system, and the adoption of such arrangements as would necessarily preclude the appearance of the ballot for ever. The noble lord next wished to know whether the idea of enlisting men for a limited period was to be acted upon, and contended, that the experience derived from the army of-reserve act was a sufficient proof of the inadequacy of such a measure. This inference he could not for a moment admit. Because men were trepanned, as it were, from one service to another, this, was no proof that the system of enlisting for a limited period would not, if well arranged, be of infinite advantage. His lordship complained, that the failure of the bill in producing the quotas required must be felt highly oppressive in many parts of the country. In the county of Surry the fines for deficiencies amounted to upwards of 21,000l. On a calculation 25,000l. would amount to 1s. 6d. in the pound, imposing a burden on the landed interest greater than that which arose from the property tax. The right hon. author of the measure had, previous to his coming into power, talked of nothing but increasing the disposable force of the country. Not a moment was to be lost in gaining the object, and surely it was not asking too much from him to require that in his hands this object should be constantly and steadily pursued. Not a month was to elapse before the army was to be placed on that footing which the circumstances of the country required. But what had, ministers done since their accession to Office to effect this great object? They had literally 487 done nothing. Instead of the recruiting of the regular army, their whole attention had been occupied with catamarans, or other equally futile experiments. While the concentration of the national force was totally neglected, the attention of ministers was engrossed by ridiculous projects, and all this from men who were to exalt the amount and character of our disposable force, to a point of unprecedented glory. With all their boasting, they had done nothing, and those ministers whom they had traduced as the weakest and most inefficient of rulers, had now obtained as complete a triumph over their accusers as if they had actually returned to power. Yet after such decisive evidence of the inadequacy of the measure, he was astonished to find the noble lord declaring that it was the intention of ministers to persevere in it. But the house was told that the differences which formerly stood in the way of the bill were now done away, and that henceforth local influence and personal zeal would produce astonishing effect. Their lordships certainly had no reason to be very sanguine, from the experience of these circumstances, on which the whole efficacy of the bill was grounded. It was not a little remarkable that in Kent, where the influence of the noble lord (Camden) might be supposed lo be powerful, only 11 men out of the quota required had been procured. In the North Riding pf Yorkshire, with which another noble lord (Mulgrave) was peculiarly connected, not even one individual had been procured under the provisions of the bill. Was it not pretty conclusive evidence of what was to be expected from the continuance of this nugatory and oppressive measure? It was, however, on such grounds as these, that their lordships were called on to resist the repeal. Even previous to experience, a majority of the representatives for this part of the kingdom had voted against it, as wholly inadequate to the object which it professed to have in view. It would be unaccountable indeed, if they should now alter that vote, after the grounds of it had been so completely established by experience. Viewing the bill in this light, he most cordially acquiesced in the motion of his noble friend, and hoped that a majority of their lordships would see reason to vote for the repeal.
The Duke of Cumberland
begged the attention of the house for one moment. Some (expressions had fallen from the noble lord 488 who spoke last, which he, consistently with the rank he had the honour to hold in the army, could not silently pass over. He must protest against the idea of any man whatever being trepanned into his maj.'s service; if he thought the bill had such an effect, he should be one of the last to support it.
The Earl of Westmoreland
said, that no correct opinion could be formed of the bill, of which so much complaint had been made, without attending to the state of the country at the commencement of the war, and to its immediate situation when the bill was passed. Prior to that event, the military forces were very considerably reduced, and the extraordinary means that tere employed to restore the army to its former establishment, on the spur of the occasion, suddenly dried up those sources from which abundant supply might have been expected. That they must have been exhausted was obvious, when noble lords adverted to the prodigious number of men raised in a very short interval. The army of reserve bill raised of the militia alone 50,000. In addition to these, 46,000 were raised for more permanant duty; and, in the whole, in the short space of 15 months, 200,000 individuals were united to the national force. The unavoidable result of this sudden accession, was those excessive bounties, the inevitable consequence of which had been truly stated. It became absolutely necessary to discontinue the expedient of the ballot; it would neither procure the men, nor could the country bear the weight of this species of exaction. Such, then, was the state of the country, and such were the impediments to former plans, at the time when the present bill was, proposed: in fact, the anterior project was no longer operative, and some new; scheme must be adopted. Then this measure was proposed under the following recommendations: 1st, it was to suspend all balloting; 2dly, it was to relieve the parishes and individuals under an insupportable burden; 3dly, it was to raise a body of men, better disciplined, and in greater number, than under the former expedient. It was by these tests the bill ought to be examined. If it had answered any, much more if it had fulfilled all these purposes, ministers would be entitled to credit for having proposed this mode for the benefit of the service, He could by no means agree with a noble lord (King) who represented this bill as opposed to the sentiments of the coun- 489 try; he trusted it had given much, satisfaction; at least of this he was confident, that the former bill, however effectual for a time, had, from its increasing oppressive tendency, excited general discontent. The bill now under consideration had some times been opposed on constitutional grounds. He well knew the language of the bill of rights, that there should be no army without the consent of parliament. Such, he contended, were the forces raised under this bill; because they were subjected to the mutiny act, and were thus periodically subject to the control of parliament. The objection, therefore, on this ground, must be acknowledged to be unfounded. While he would admit the application of every constitutional principle, he must likewise attend to the. public security, as it would be affected by the reduction of tire public force at the present time; and lie would frankly and boldly declare the crown was not sate on the head of the sovereign, if the force were not provided which it was the object of this bill to acquire. If the country had been exposed to danger, it was because this beneficial plan bad not been earlier resorted to, and it was most unreasonable to expect its immediate operation in all its extent. Time must be allowed to dissipate the effect of the former exorbitant bounties, and to admit the country to recover from the drains by which its resources had been exhausted. But this interval was not to be unemployed. The reduced militia was to supply the regular army, and a further source was to be acquired from the army of reserve. Then time must be granted for the meetings of the commissioners of the parishes; yet, before it was possible that all the multifarious parts of tins scheme could be organized, it seemed to be expected that the whole operation should be discovered. Under these circumstances, the fairest way to estimate the progressive importance of this bill would be to consider the 2 last weeks as a specimen of its efficiency. The number raised within this short interval was 600 men, which would amount, in the course of the year, to 35,000, if the future weeks were equally productive. It was frequently the disadvantage of a measure, in itself conducive to the public good, that it so far interfered with others, that the advantage derived from it was counter-balanced by this interference. Such an objection could not apply to the present bill; it had been found to obstruct no other service, but rather 490 to co-operate and assist, than to interrupt and oppose.—Adverting to what fell from noble lords, at the other side, expressive of their present opinion of part of the existing administration, he observed, it was not very long since some of them, at least, held a very different language. With them the talents and eloquence of the present chancellor of the exchequer, the vigour and energy of his character, if brought again into administration, would restore the tarnished honour of the country, and revive its drooping spirit. They waited but for his return to office, to effect all this. His powers, in that respect, seemed to be regarded by them, as not inferior to those attributed to Jupiter in the Heathen Mythology. Did he once appear, new life and vigour would be infused into every branch of the military service, and every department of the state: but, by some unfortunate and then unforeseen accident, like the ephemeral properties of a meteor, these admirable qualities seem all eclipsed, in the eyes of those whom he alluded to. Let the noble lords explain the causes of these apparent alterations, if they can. The interruptions which they were pleased occasionally to offer, should not perplex him, or draw him from the chain of his argument. He contended that the measure in question, so far from prejudicing or interfering with the other branches of the recruiting service, would contribute to give them additional efficacy. The noble earl observed, that the charge of coalition proceeded with an extraordinary ill grace indeed, from some noble lords opposite to him. Political men, without hazard of very severe censure, might coalesce, who had only differed respecting this or some former bill; but it would require all the ingenuity of the noble lords opposite to give a satisfactory and convincing reason, why those should coalesce and unite who had pointedly differed upon every topic and upon every principle which had come under consideration, ever since their political existence.—Recurring again to the subject under consideration, he contended that the effects of the bill, as far as it had, had a fair opportunity of operating, were beneficial; that from recent circumstances, and by what they had to look to prospectively, there was every right to assume it would be still more so; that, as the military force at present stood, the troops were equally fit, in point of preparation, for limited or general service; and that there was 491 every prospect of their being able, chiefly through the medium of this bill, to get a very large disposable force. The measure of repealing the bill would, under the present military system, be hazardous in the extreme; the frame of the existing military establishments would be shaken by it: were they prepared to repeal the present militia acts, the army of reserve, or to restore the former practice of ballotting? All these important queries should be satisfactorily answered, before they should think of repealing the measure under consideration. There was another objection, namely, that by repealing the present bill, one part of the united kingdom would be placed under a different military system from the other; and the evils which might possibly result from such a consideration, were too obvious to be pointed out. On these, and other grounds, which he should not take up their lordships' time by reciting, he was induced to give the noble earl's motion a decided negative.
§ Earl Spencer
rose. He began by assuring their lordships, that he never since his first entrance into parliament rose with more real satisfaction to give his support to any motion, than that which had this night been made by his noble friend for the repeal of this act. He felt himself particularly easy in saying this, because he was certain it must be in the recollection of every noble lord who was present, when he delivered his sentiments on this bill in its passage through the house in the course Of the last session, that the arguments he had used against the bill then, had since been, every one of them, found to be verified. No bill had ever been introduced into either house of parliament with a more pompous and magnificent display of the benefits to be derived from it, and the energies it was to put in force. It was brought forward on the spur of what was said to be a most important occasion, when the country was allowed to be in the most immediate and imminent danger of an invasion, and, indeed, so much so, that a month, a day, or even an hour was not to be lost in adopting measures for the most speedy and effectual means of increasing the army of the country, and that part of it in particular, which is called the dispose able force. At that moment, his lordship said, he and other noble friends of his, with whom he acted, saw on the first fair and mature consideration of its provisions, that so far from answering the important purposes for 492 which it was intended, it would have the direct contrary effect, and would be infinitely more injurious to the military service of the country than those measures which were proposed for that end by his maj.'s then ministers, whom it was a principal and primary means of driving from their official situations. Seeing it clearly in that light, his ldp. said he felt it to be his duty to his country, as a lord of parliament, to give it his most decided opposition, and that too in even stage; and, he appealed to their ldps. to say, whether the reasons he had then adduced against it, but which he would not now trespass on their ldps. time by repeating, had not been since proved to be but too true? He remembered though, that one objection, which he had very pointedly urged against it was, that it went to overturn the system of the army of reserve, which had, to a certain degree, been successful, and which, therefore, their ldps. should not agree to risk losing the benefit of, unless by some mea-sure that gave at least a prospect of proving effectual, which he then insisted this bill did not. He was therefore the more surprised, when he heard what had fallen from the noble earl who spoke last, in support of this bill, which altogether over? threw the army of reserve, and all the other military measures, which had been the greatest favourites of that administration, of which the noble earl formed a part. The bill, however, had soon been found to verify all that had been said of it, and to have entirely failed in effecting an increase of the army. In the course of the first two months, without using any particular curiosity on the subject, there was not, he believed, one of their ldps. who did not know its unfortunate fate, at least in the county in which he resided; and no one person in the whole kingdom had an opportunity of knowing it more pointedly and forcibly than the right hon. gent, who was the father of it, from the astonishing deficit which took place in the very district over which he presided. He had hitherto, however, confined himself to the objection? he had to it, as a bill intended to increase the military force of the country, by raising men for its service, There were, however, much stronger arguments urged against it, and the principal of these was, that, under the pretence of raising men, it went rather to the purpose of raising money upon the country. This had been strenuously denied to be the case by 493 those who supported it; but it had actually turned out to be the fact, and now formed one of the strongest arguments that could be used in favour of the motion made by his noble friend neat him for its repeal. As a bill for raising men, no one could deny that it had totally failed of its purpose; and if it was a bill for raising money, nothing could be more clear, than that it was deserving the highest reprehension, for it was infinitely partial and unequal, and fell, with an unexampled degree of weight and severity on the landed proprietors of the country. He insisted that another noble friend near him (lord King) was perfectly right in styling it a measure of taxation, which fell not upon property equally and generally, but on the ratio of population; and the instances which that noble lord had produced, ill support and illustration of his arguments, were conclusive and unanswerable.—His ldp. then adverted to the very defective and unjust mode resorted to by the bill of recruiting for the army in the several parishes, through the medium, and by means of parish officers. Those regular officers who were appointed to that service by the army, were generally gent, who well understood that particular duty, and, by attention and experience, were enabled to form a pretty good judgment—which was a good man, and such as might be trusted, and which was likely to prove shy and take the first opportunity to desert, He was also personally interested in taking particular care in these respects; but the parish officer was very differently situated, and might be liable, through partiality or prejudice, to return those who were likely to desert, and thus the parishes would become doubly burdened. The noble earl who spoke second, had acknowledged that the bill had not been so successful as could be wished, and yet contended that it ought to be persisted in, because, though it had been in force nearly twelve months, it was now only just beginning to operate. As yet he had heard no arguments which could, in the smallest degree, tend to convince him that the bill ought to be persisted in. Perhaps, said his ldp. before we rise, we may hear from some noble lords, who saw this measure in a different light last year, why they have changed those opinions which they then maintained so strenuously. He confessed he could not help being curious to hear what would be their arguments in favour of the continuance of a measure 494 which at once overthrew all those which they had so industriously endeavoured to promote. He wished to see how the new coalition on the other side, would conform themselves on the present occasion. He had, he said, made use of that expression, which had been so often used and misused of late years, in consequence of the noble earl who spoke last having applied the word coalition to him and his noble friends who acted with him. He insisted, that any man might have differed in opinion with one or more on the first and most important of political questions, and yet might afterwards perfectly and cordially, and with the utmost degree of consistency, coincide and act with them on a question, or questions, in which they all formed the same unanimous and decided opinion, as on any point of dispute, which might arise in a subsequent period of time. It was absurd to suppose that men thus circumstanced as he had described, should, because they bad acted on contrary opinions for any length of time, never agree or net together when they might think exactly alike. Every parliamentary character was bound in questions of a public nature, to act and co-operate with those who, in his mind, were most forward in support of the interests of his country, and he should ever think himself justified in acting on that principle; but when he should be found to abandon measures which he had once supported, and to join with those who differed from him on those very measures, then he should be contented to be charged with inconsistency, and to be said to have formed a coalition, or any other term which might be chosen to designate a real dereliction of principle—His ldp. hoped the house would pardon him for having so far indulged in this digression from the subject immediately before their ldps, to which he again reverted, and said, that he was, from every argument he had heard that night, more firmly fixed in his opinion, that the motion made by his noble friend ought to pass, and the act to which it alluded be immediately repealed. One argument urged against it was, if you repeal, this measure, you will re-enact the Army of Reserve Act, the ballot, and all those measures which have been formerly considered as detrimental to the public service. Allowing that to be the case, he would still support the motion of his noble friend; but it was not to be supposed, he 495 Said, that the matter was to rest there. Other measures would be brought forward, without doubt, and his noble friend had delayed, for a considerable time, to give notice of his present motion, or to take any steps whatever in the business, from a confidence he had in his own mind, that, as the bill was found to be so totally inefficient as that it had not answered one single purpose for which it was enacted, but had altogether failed, that therefore his maj's. ministers would be eager to seize the earliest opportunity of bringing forward either a bill to repeal it, or a bill to alter and amend it, in such a manner that the military defence of the country might receive every immediate support and improvement that time and circumstances would allow. Seeing that no such measures had been brought forward, nor intimation whatever given of an intention so to do, his noble friend felt it to be his duty to act as he had done, and he thought him entitled to the warmest thanks of the house and of the country. He knew, however, that his noble friend was willing, and he heartily concurred with him in the sentiment, to let his maj's. ministers off on as easy terms as they please. If they will promise to bring forward any measure to explain and amend the bill, or in any way to alter it so that it may become efficacious and serviceable to the country, they would be satisfied; but bethought the argument in favour of its being persisted in, because it was now only beginning to operate, was futile in the extreme, and be should, therefore, if no other more forcible one should be offered, be anxious for its being-dropped, as it could not be denied that it was a measure attended with a grievous expence, and with the most oppressive consequences to many parts of the country. He should, therefore, after thanking their ldps. for their obliging attention, conclude, by giving his vote for the motion made by his noble friend.
rose, not, he said, to gratify the curiosity of the noble lord who had just sat down; but to discharge a public duty, by delivering his sentiments on the present question. Before he should state the grounds of his opinion, he begged to repeat some of the reasons and sentiments that had been advanced by the noble Earl near him. If he had abandoned any sentiments advanced" on any public measure, then the anticipated charge of the noble earl who had just sat down might apply. But as he bad ever, regulated his public conduct by 496 the dictates of his conscience, and he owed it to the approving sense of conscious integrity that he always acted steadily, He begged leave to advert to the circumstance* under which this bill had been introduced into the other house. At that period a bill for suspending the operation of the Army of Reserve Act had arrived at its last stage in its progress through that house. A change of administration then took place, when the present measure was submitted to parliament, coupled with other military measures, which had been opened by his right hon. friend the then secretary of state. As to the opinion he then entertained of the efficiency of the measure, it remained still unaltered; and all that had occurred during its operation, only strengthened him in that opinion. He had been of opinion, that there was a better mode of attaining the military object which the bill professed; but if that military object could be attained by other modes, the necessity of raising the force would do away every objection. He was confident of its not being disputed, that no step ought to be taken to repeal this measure before it should be ascertained whether it would be successful or not. Here again he had no hesitation in declaring his expectation not so sanguine as that of his noble friend. He was sorry that parliament, by agreeing to the measure, had placed itself in such a situation. The bill he had originally disapproved of, and he disapproved of it still. But could it be said, that the experience of its operation was such as to warrant a conclusion that it had failed? The number proposed had not been raised; but the question now was, whether it had failed to such a degree as would justify parliament in repealing it? He was sorry parliament had agreed to that part of it which imposed an onorous penalty; but without some compulsory power there would be no efficiency. If the penalty should be incurred, and the man should be produced before it was levied, three-fourth* of the penalty would be remitted. No judgment could therefore be formed of the bill until the penalties should come to belevied. It had, last session, been deemed expedient to remit the penalties for the army of reserve. If this bill should fail, and he was not very sanguine as to its success, he was sure that the framers of the bill and parliament would not continue it by raising a heavy tax for recruiting. Measures of importance had been taken 497 for carrying the bill into effect, and much expence incurred for officers for receiving recruits. He agreed with his noble friend, that the support of this measure would come with a very ill grace from those who supported the late army of reserve act, if they had not brought forward a measure, whilst members of administration, for the suspension of that army of reserve act. A very considerable reduction had taken place in the militia under the operation of this measure. He was one of those who objected to any reduction of the militia. He was one of those who, upon constitutional grounds, thought that the militia should bear a large proportion to the regular army. But he now found there was a better reason for the reduction, the militia establishment having a deficiency of 500 officers, notwithstanding the measure that had been resorted to for allowing half-pay officers to be appointed to militia commissions. That circumstance alone pointed out the necessity of the reduction of the militia. He felt perfect relief and satisfaction at this reduction, though he wished the military to be kept up in the volunteer force of the country. He did not wish the volunteers to be kept up at the expence of the other descriptions of force; our security lay in the diversity of our military means. The volunteer force was the tribute of a free people in support of a free constitution. He did not see any grounds for the motion, until experience should prove that the bill could not succeed: but, though it should succeed to the extent of his noble friend's expectation, even then he should think it would require revision and alteration. It had been stated, early in the debate, that he had characterised it as inefficient. He had always thought the army of reserve bill a necessary measure; and when this measure was opened, the ballot was induced in its provisions, which being afterwards given up, he had stated that rigour had been abandoned for inefficiency. But it had been said, that it was not the intention of the noble earl who moved for the repeal of this act, to repeal it without proposing something more effectual in its stead. He should have been glad to hear what this something was. Was it the restoration of the ballot? That was a measure which had been universally reprobated. Was it by a draught from the militia? That also was a subject which would require consideration. Was it by service for a period to be limited? That would, not answer any good 498 end. By that very system had the high bounties been created, and to procure men in that way, similar temptations must again be resorted to. The present bill, however, he was happy to think, whatever it had done, it had done without interfering with the other measures which had formerly been pursued, and which he himself in a great measure had recommended. The German legion had been increased to the extent he had proposed; black corps had been established; regiments for rank had been raised. He saw nothing improper in the practice; he objected to it if pushed to the extent that it had formerly been, where persons were put out of civil life, and placed, in the course of a short time, at the head of the army. But he could see no reasonable objection to giving a military officer a step in rank, as in the present mode, and of allowing a meritorious individual an opportunity of finding men with advantage to his country, instead of paying money for a commission.— During the time that he sat in another house, he was not unused to the charges of incapacity, inefficiency, and other illiberal epithets of the same nature, which had been with more profusion than decency applied to him, and to the measures which he bad proposed. Whatever his talents might have been, whatever portion of judgment and vigour of intellect he possessed, they had always been applied honestly and assiduously to promote the advantage and security of the country. Having nothing nearer his heart than the glory, the happiness, and the prosperity of his country, he might, perhaps, lament that he did not possess greater talents than those with which he had endeavoured to promote those great objects. But as to neglecting to provide for the defence and security of the state, that was a charge he could never acquiesce under, and which he found himself called upon peremptorily to the repel. He would refute that charge from whatever quarter it came, by referring to monumental records before parliament From those it would appear, that in 6 months after the commencement of the war, the country had 800,000 men in arms, and was in a progressive stale of discipline. There was in tins country a greater force than that in any preceding period; the regular force for the defence of Ireland was twice as great; and in the month of January, 1804, there was in the united kingdom as great a force, within 14,000 men, 499 as at any period of the late war. If the fencible regiments which had been disbanded at the peace, were excluded, the regular force oh foot, within 6 months after the commencement of hostilities, exceeded by 10,000 men that of any period during the preceding war. He thought it necessary to say so much in defence of himself. He had that night, for the first time since he had had the honour of a scat in that house, heard what he had been too much accustomed to hear in another place, but what made' little impression on him, namely of the inefficiency of his maj's. late ministers. Every thing necessary for the security of the country they had done; every measure which could conduce to ensure its safety, and uphold its honour and character, they had resorted to. He claimed no merit on that account; what he had done was only in the prosecution of his duty; be would have betrayed his trust to the public if he had acted differently; the charge of neglect and inefficiency was one which neither did or could attach to him, or to those with whom he acted, and he would, whenever it should be urged against him, repel it with all the contempt and indignation which lie felt it deserved. With respect to the bill, he was persuaded this was not the moment to repeal it, and he should therefore give his negative to the motion of the noble lord.
§ The Duke of Clarence,
expressed his satisfaction that the noble viscount had addressed their ldps. before him. In many of the sentiments which had been delivered by the noble viscount, he was happy to express his concurrence, as they corresponded perfectly with his own. Whatever he should say in that house, he wished to be considered as coming from a peer of parliament, for in no other respect would lie enter that house. He was extremely anxious to hear what the noble viscount had to say on this bill, a bill which had been so unequivocally condemned by many noble lords who had acted with him, and from one of whom (the chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster) he had heard a most eloquent speech in exposure of it. Indeed, all the late govt. were unanimous in exposing it. He heartily coincided with the noble viscount in the encomiums he had pronounced upon that patriotic spirit which produced the volunteer force. He was himself a volunteer officer, and he would admit that a very great force had been raised. There was an obvious inconsistency in the administration; a great 500 part of the present had charged the last with being imbecile and incapable of carrying on the govt. Well, the govt. was changed, and what did their successors do? Why, as the consummation of all their mighty promises, they produced the present bill, which hid answered no one of the objects which it proposed to effect. With respect to the volunteer system, he was a friend to it, if it were managed as it might and should be. But, in order to derive the full advantages which that system was capable of, it must undergo much alteration. The first charge by which an impression was made against the late administration, was, that they had neglected the volunteer system. A great volunteer colonel, the present chancellor of the exchequer, had undertaken to remedy it, but his R. H. could not find that it had been much improved under his superintending care. The volunteer force, compared with what it had been, was absolutely gone by; and if the attention of govt. were not immediately directed to it, it would shortly disappear. It was, therefore, the more requisite to attend to the military part of our defence; the regular army. In order to do this properly, it would be necessary to divide it into its several integral parts, such as militia, cavalry, British and foreign, and infantry of the like descriptions. He thought he could prove to their ldps. satisfaction, that the army, thus constituted and divided, was, in all its parts, very greatly and alarmingly deficient in the numbers at which it was stated. He then adverted to the artillery, which he contended, was also defective; but not to so great a degree as the other branches of our regular army. His R. H. stated from the estimates, that the Cavalry ought to amount to 26,196 men; but, he said, they were deficient considerably upwards of 8000.; that the infantry were 865 less than during the last year, though there had not been a single shot tired in anger between them and any of the enemies of this country, from the 1st Jan. 1804 to the 1st Jan. 1805; that the deaths in the infantry since August were upwards of 2000, and the recruits only so much above that number, as to make the increase no more than 110; so that the total deficit in the infantry was not less than 86,363 men; a number which would constitute an immense army. What, he asked, could ministers say to this, and what must the country think of so alarming a deficiency, at the very mo- 501 ment when those ministers have brought us into a new war? A war which they, had commenced by disgracing the annals of our naval glory, and making the first efforts of our fleet "to consist of an act of piracy. They talked of a disposable force when they were conscious they bad no such thing; though they were engaged with an enemy, who possessed immense forces, and resources, from the mouth of the Elbe to Malta. If this were true, which he insisted it was, how, he asked, would it be possible, that, with such a deficiency, ministers would dare to send a single man out of the country? If they contented themselves with barely resting on their arms, without being able to attack the enemy, he contended it must prove the inevitable ruin of the country; and, as he looked on this bill to be the principal cause of this glaring and dangerous deficiency, he would certainly vote for its immediate repeal.
§ Lord Mulgrave
said, he should abstain from entering at large, or into any detail, in the observations which he meant to submit to their lordships. He had in no degree changed his sentiments since last year; he was still of the same opinion as then. He knew of but three modes of attaining a military force; 1st, by the exercise of absolute compulsion or conscription, for enforcing personal service; 2nd, by the ballot allowing a substitution for personal service; 3d, by ordinary recruiting. The first mode was unconstitutional and inconsistent with the habits, the manners, and the feelings of a free people, and therefore could not be attempted in this country. The second had been resorted to with considerable effect in the Army of Reserve Act. This was no doubt a measure of rigour, but not of idle or tyrannical rigour, for it left the party affected by the ballot, at liberty to provide a substitute by a pecuniary sacrifice. When this measure had produced all that could be expected from it, an act for suspending it in its progress passed the house, when the change took place in the administration. Another bill was then brought in for raising men and money, but on a more equitable principle. By the provisions of the Army of Reserve Act, if the individual would not serve personally, the tax fell upon him, and it was impossible to argue against the penalty, unless a compulsory power was resorted, to, to procure personal service. The present 502 measure was intended to obtain the men by the personal influence of the principal inhabitants, and if that influence should fail, the penalty was, and ought to fall, not on the individual, but on the persons having that influence, He knew of no measure more likely to succeed than this. His noble friend had said, that if ineffectual to its military purpose, it was objectionable on the score of its pecuniary operation. But he was one of those who thought the penalties should not be remitted under the existing circumstances, unless some other mode should be pointed out more likely to produce the men. His lordship said, after much professional experience, and after reflection on the various modes of recruiting the army, he thought that the present plan deserved a longer trial than that which had marked its origin and progress. If, however, after that fair trial which he now so earnestly solicited, it should still appear inefficient, no man would be unwise enough to persist in its continuance. As to noble lords affirming that it was a tax on the country, and that instead of men, it raised money, he could not deny but that every bill of this kind operated in some degree as a tax, although originally never intended to do so. If, as in some instances, money was paid as a legal equivalent for men, in places where' men were not easily obtained, it was, by this forced distinction called a sort of money bill, raising money by a mode which the legislature never meant, because it was well known that in this particular instance men were far more acceptable to govt. than money, as the very design of the bill was for the raising of men, and not for money. Those who attempted to poison the minds of the people by calling it a money bill, and thus to produce an odium against it throughout the country, certainly acted very unfairly, because by this false construction they endeavoured to obstruct the efforts of govt. in the public service. But he never heard of any measure, particularly that for the recruiting of the army, which could not be objected to. Every plan which had been proposed, for that purpose had been distinguished by its advocates and opponents; and he knew of no system which had ever been adopted that reconciled all difference of opinion. If some parishes or districts chose to compromise for men by the payment of money, that was no fault of those who introduced the bill, because it was 503 necessary that govt. should be supported, either in men or money; and if the latter instead of the former, then such contributions were applicable to the services of the state, by being expended for the raising of men. If the plan were bad, as some noble lords maintained, but which he denied, even then it was expedient to adopt it, till we found some better system to act upon. He therefore hoped t hat their lordships would agree with him in opinion that it ought to be continued at least till it had had a fair trial.—The noble lord then, in allusion to some extraneous remarks on the part of noble peer, who had wandered out of his way to revive jealousies and suspicions, and to inflame party differences and temporary animosities, challenged the noble peer to produce one instance in which he could prove that either he or his colleagues in office had altered their principles. He denied any dereliction of principle whatever. There were some changes of an extraordinary nature indeed. Some of those with whom he and his colleagues had formerly the satisfaction and happiness of acting, had abandoned their principles, at least they had united with men who had uniformly avowed principles of a different nature from those that had been entertained and acted upon by them. He thought that the noble earl should have been more careful in the style which he had adopted. It was a dangerous expedient to censure others, and to sacrifice principle, for an ill-timed spleen or caprice. The noble lord said, that he had also always maintained, that the late administration was weak and inefficient, and he had no hesitation in still maintaining the same declaration. He had discharged his duty by the part which he had acted; and he was fully persuaded, that his illustrious friend, the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, had also acted upon the best and most honourable principles. These observations, he said, were extorted from him by the improper charges against himself, against his right honourable friend, and against those with whom he had the honour of co-operating for the good of the country. No men were free from faults. He and his colleagues in office had, at this time, been unfairly dealt with; they had been wantonly attacked and bitterly aspersed by those who were under the influence of wrong or mistaken motives. As there was not any argument urged against the present act which might not have been 504 with equal propriety advanced against any-other measure for the military defence of the country; and, as there had not been sufficient experience of the extent of the operation of the bill to authorise him conscientiously to say that it had not had the effect intended by the framers of that bill, he felt it a duty incumbent on him to support the law as it now stood, and vote against the motion of the noble lord who had opened the debate.
§ Lord Grenville
observed, that the contradictory language and conduct of a noble viscount (Sidmouth) and his noble friend who had just sat down, had already been most perspicuously pointed out by a noble friend of his in the course of the debate, if that were material to shew the inconsistent grounds upon which those noble lords thought proper to resist the motion before the house. But for himself, he declined to dwell upon such inconsistencies. He never was fond to argue public measures upon references to the character or motives of any individuals who might oppose or second such measures. With respect to the motives of his noble friend (Mulgrave), he had no doubt that he was satisfied of the rectitude of the motives which actuated his conduct, and so no doubt was the noble viscount (Sidmouth) also, although the ground he stated for the vote he announced his intention of giving upon this question was rather singular, and one of which he never could persuade himself to approve. He could not say with the noble viscount, that although he, always disapproved of the bill, he should still agree to let it go on, and for what purpose? Why, that if ft failed of its military object, the penalties should be enforced, which penalties, notwithstanding, the noble viscount professed to dislike. There was another reason also which the noble viscount mentioned to justify his resistance to the motion, which struck his mind to be still more singular than the former; namely, that although he considered the bill originally inefficient, and still retained the same opinion, yet that as parliament had acceded to it, it would not be respectful to parliament to repeal it so soon after its enactment, without affording it a farther trial. Now, instead of its being very respectful to parliament, to continue such a measure, so unproductive in men, and so unjust, if productive, in money, he should feel it to be quite the contrary, and a glaring mark of indifference to public security at this dan- 505 gerous crisis, to decline putting an end at once to that mischievous tampering with our military system, of which the bill under consideration formed a part. When this bill was originally introduced, it met the strongest opposition from some noble lords, who recommended a different plan, which, upon comparison, they contended to be infinitely superior. But what had become of that opinion now? How came those noble lords to shut their mouths? Why not come forward and submit their plan at present? Did the change of situation produce a change of sentiment among those noble lords? Certainly, if they thought a few months ago that the plan they supported was likely to be more productive of men than the measure to which the motion before the house referred, nothing had since occurred that could fairly account for their departure from that opinion. Their experience should rather serve to strengthen the preference they before appeared to give to their own plan. For although the bill to which they on the present occasion professed to feel so much indulgence, had had 8 months to operate, the important consequences that its authors and advocates promised, it was still confessedly unproductive. This confession the house had heard from the highest authority, and the fact to which that confession referred, the house must recollect to have been foretold by him, and several of the friends of the noble viscount, at the time the bill was proposed. They said that it would not be productive, and its advocates asserted the contrary, and very confidently too; but yet they came forward this evening with a statement that gave a direct negative to these confident assertions. They admitted that the project which was to produce several battalions, as a nursery for the regular army, had in point of fact afforded comparatively nothing; and yet when the repeal of such an act was proposed, the noble viscount said, "no, retain it." This surely was rather strange. He did not, however, mean to charge the noble viscount with a desertion of principle. He hoped the noble viscount acted upon principle, as he trusted it would not be denied that be himself did in calling for the repeal of a bill, the original passing of which he had used his utmost endeavours to prevent, upon grounds that now turned out to be completely justified. Upon the same grounds he would, on the present 506 occasion, press upon the good sense of the house the justice and necessity of relieving the country from this burdensome, troublesome, and odious measure. "But no," said the noble viscount, "the bill has not a fair experiment until the penalties are enforced;" and yet, added the noble viscount, I do much disapprove of such penalties. In what a dilemma, then, did the noble viscount place himself. According to his opinion, the penalties ought not to be enforced. This opinion then held out an encouragement or premium to such parishes as should not raise their quotas, and of course tended to prevent the execution of the bill. On the other hand, he observed, that if the penalties should be collected, the bill would succeed as a pecuniary, if it failed, as a military project. —Into a comparison of the-merits of the plan said to be in the contemplation of the noble viscount and his colleagues last year, with that now under discussion, he did not think, it necessary to enter; nor if it were necessary, was he competent to it, as he was not acquainted with the entire nature of the noble viscount's plan, as stated in the other house of parliament. One part of it, which he understood to be an augmentation of our black corps, he most cordially approved of, and should thank the noble viscount for carrying it into effect—But there was another part from which he begged leave to express his decided dissent, namely, the raising men for rank; this was a system which he would ever deprecate, and one of which ho could not speak but with the most painful sensations, because experience had convinced him of that which he felt it his duty to acknowledge, that in the share which he bore when in his majesty's councils, in advising the adoption of that measure, he acted extremely wrong. He therefore conjured his noble friend (Mulgrave), to reflect upon the nature of that experience, and not allow himself to be led away from any consideration of local interest, or the prospect of local or temporary benefit, again to have recourse to that mischievous system. Feeling as he did with respect to such a system, he could not see without serious, regret from the papers on the table, that some men had been lately raised under it. He had heard some months since, that such a thing was intended, but he had hoped that the change of ministers would have put a stop to it, particularly as his noble friend always appeared to concur 507 with him as to the consequences likely to arise, or rather inseparable from that mode of recruiting. In defending the measure under debate, he observed, that his noble friend seemed to think that he had drawn a most satisfactory conclusion in favour of this plan, because he had succeeded in exposing the efficacy of the quota bill and the army of reserve bill towards the farther supply of the regular army; but in this he conceived his noble friend to be begging the question, for he denied the bill under consideration to have any tendency to raise men. On the contrary it appeared to him to be merely a bill to raise money. He therefore objected to it, and regretted to observe the resolution of ministers to press its continuance, still more as they seemed to shew no disposition to bring forward any proposition for the efficient increase of our regular army. There was a plan to which he took occasion to allude in the course of the last session, he meant the recruiting of men for general service for a limited term. To this plan ministers did not then declare any objection, but merely required time to consider of it; of this time they had since had enough, and yet no intention was manifested on their part to bring the plan before parliament; but rather from what had been said to-night, it was clear that impediments would be thrown in its way, if it was submitted to the house; and noble lords had said, that this plan had been tried already, and found to be unsuccessfull; but he contended that it never had a fair experiment in the case alluded to. It must become the general, settled understanding among the public, that this is to be the condition of enlistment before it can have such fair opportunity of operation as to form a judgment upon it. There had been so much confusion and perplexity in consequence of the frequent and rapid succession of changes that had of late years taken place in our military system, that a great degree of jealousy, distrust, and uncertainty had prevailed among that class of men who generally entered into the army. Until that class should feel that the mode of enlistment he referred to would be established as a general principle, he did not think the efficiency of the plan could be fully and fairly judged of. Whether, or not it should become necessary in the course of the session to call for higher measures for our military defence, he hoped that a plan, recommended by so 508 many men of great military experience, and by the obvious principles of human nature, would be brought under consideration. Such a plan, operating in conjunction with the old and simple mode of recruiting, would, it was his firm conviction, he much more effective than all the complicated machinery introduced by the bill under discussion; a bill, the repeal of which would not, as was pretended, involve the necessity of resorting again to the Army of Reserve Act. This was a bugbear which some noble lords bad conjured up in their fancy. If this bill were repealed, surely the house would not abrogate its legislative functions; and if an additional force were found to be necessary, the house would be free to enter into the subject, and it would be hard indeed if, without much exertion of mind, it should not devise a more efficient project for raising such a force than this bill presented. The question, upon the whole, for the consideration of the house at present, he thought to be shortly this: was an additional force necessary, or was it not? If it was, this bill was useless towards obtaining it; and, if it was not necessary, to allow this bill to continue was pregnant with mischief and danger. Upon this he would rest the whole argument. With these impressions before me, said the noble lord, I have thought it unnecessary as well as improper to argue this measure on personal grounds. I have ever cautiously avoided that mode of treating any public question. It has always appeared to me the more regular, becoming mode, to argue the principle and merits of the measure without any reference to the motives, feelings, or character of the persons by whom such measure is supported or opposed. Such is the line of conduct I have pursued on this occasion. I should be sorry to say that any individuals are influenced in their public conduct by unworthy considerations, and least of all, should I say that which my thoughts would not warrant respecting the individual to whom my noble friend (Mulgrave) has particularly alluded in the course of his observations. My noble friend, feeling hurt by some personal remarks, which he conceived addressed to himself, has thought proper to make my personal conduct the subject of discussion I am accused, if I understand the accusation, of having passed a great part of my life in terms of intimate friendship, with a person of great weight, 509 and high rank (Mr. Pitt,) and having acted for many years in concurrence with him against an opposition, comprehending persons of great ability and consideration in the country. To this accusation I plead guilty. I have lived from early years in habits of the warmest friendship with the right hon. gent, alluded to, and I do not think there is any thing in the present situation of affairs that is likely, either on his part or on mine, to dissolve that friendship. This opinion is founded upon a conviction of the integrity of my right hon. friend's character and views, and that he holds a similar sentiment with respect to the character and views of any man whom he deems worthy to be his friend. I cannot suffer myself to suppose that he can entertain such an injurious and insulting opinion of his friends, that they should sacrifice their conscience, and abandon their principles, to follow any line of public conduct that lie may think proper to pursue. As to that part of my noble friend's accusation which refers to my present concurrence with persons from whom I formerly differed upon some points, which are now no more; is there any one so little acquainted with human affairs, and with the parliamentary history of this country in particular, as to suppose it a fair subject of censure, in a man to avail himself of the co-operation of any person from whom he can derive honourable support in the attainment of great and desirable public objects? If this principle required illustration, to whom should look with more confidence than to the example of the man to whom my noble friend alluded. It was the fate of that person to act in opposition for many years to several noble persons with whom, on the arrival of that crisis, the commencement of the last French war, he did not hesitate to form a coalition, and one of those noble persons retains to this hour a seat in his majesty's cabinet. Nay more, has not my right hon. friend sought to establish a co-operation in the govt. of the country with that very party, or rather that individual (Mr. Fox) upon my present Connexion with whom my noble friend has taken occasion to congratulate me this evening? When the country had been brought to the brink of ruin, by that weak, incapable, and inefficient administration, which my noble friend and my right hon. friend also so strongly and so justly reprobated, it was the wish of all good men, that an administration should 510 be formed, comprehending all the talent, ability, and influence which the country furnished, in order to save the stale in the great crisis that menaced it, and which, in my judgment, is still far from being removed. Upon this subject there seemed to be a perfect concurrence among all honest and independent men in parliament, and it was notoriously the expectation and desire of nine-tenths of the people. No. one more cordially embraced the, opinion than my right hon. friend, and if I am accused of an intimate connexion with the hon. person alluded to, what is to be thought of my right hon. friend, who did all in his power, we are told, to introduce the same person into his majesty's cabinet? Is it dishonourable in me to act with this hon. person on points in which we completely agree, while it is deemed honourable in my right hon. friend to have gone into his majesty's closet to advise his sovereign to appoint the same person to one of the highest offices in the state? Can it then be seriously considered inconsistent, or any thing like dishonourable in> me now to act with that illustrious person? No, impossible. Let not my noble friend indulge the idle hope that such a delusion can ever be practised upon parliament or the country. If it were practicable it is extremely impolitic, and something more, at present to attempt it. The crisis which so imperiously called for a vigorous and cordial union is not yet gone by. No man should, under such circumstances particularly, endeavour to promote discord. Rather to conciliate unanimity, than to inflame differences; rather to bury than to revive the recollection of former animosities, is at present peculiarly the duty of every honest man. What, then, should be thought of any man who would attempt to introduce the bane of discord into the councils of his majesty, in order to thwart the wishes of the country—in order to form a cabinet upon the principle of personal exclusion? This is a principle, my lords, of which I never can approve, be cause independently of its operation to prevent parliament and the people from enjoying the administration they desired, and which it was their particular interest. to have, it tends to establish a dangerous precedent, that would afford too much opportunity for the operation of private pique against the public interest. I for one, therefore, refused to connect myself with any arrangement that should sanction that 511 principle, and in my opinion, every man who accepted any office in that administration, is, according to the letter and spirit of the constitution, responsible for its character and construction, and the principle upon which it is founded. Having said so much as to the manner in which the present administration has been formed, I again repeat, that it is my wish to treat the question before the house rather on public than personal grounds. I do not mean to condemn any man, or arraign the motives which actuate his conduct. The few observations which I have thought it necessary to submit in justification of my own conduct, I hope the house will feel, were called for by the pointed manner in which I have been alluded to in the course of the discussion.
said, that what he had to submit to their lordships should certainly be comprehended within a very narrow compass, for one expression of his noble friend who had lately sat down comprehended all he had to say. The noble lord spoke with great propriety when he said the military service of the country called for a-clear and decisive system of policy: that was his opinion also. It was extremely true that the exigency of the country was more than the former force of it was equal to, and this made govt. proceed on a larger scale, than they had formerly done with regard to its military strength; but he was of opinion it would be better to adhere to one system until it had been fairly tried, rather than abolish it for the sake of making an experiment upon another. We had tried a large supplemental militia, and that was attended with the most salutary consequences; but the important part of it was that of establishing a great defensive force, and then the measure was wise, upon consideration of the apprehension of invasion, and that we had no continental application for our military force; we wanted only security at home, for which purpose we had thus a powerful army, and the beneficial effects of it were felt. Next to this came the Army of Reserve Act, for which he took no merit, for he was not in his majesty's councils when it was brought forward, but without exception the Army of Reserve Act appeared to him to be one of the best means that could have been devised, and it proved the truth of the proposition, that men once introduced into military habits, either from the love of glory or 512 other motives, once become accustomed to military exertions might soon be brought forward to almost any extent to an unlimited service out of a limited one. Such was the effect of the army of reserve; for out of 37,000 men raised under the army of reserve, which was a. limited service, no less than 18,000 men were produced, whose services might be extended now to any part of the world. It was thought right, but he should not discuss whether right or wrong, to suspend that act, though he did not approve of that suspension. This other measure was brought forward, whether worse or better than the Army of Reserve Act, he should not discuss; but this he would say, that he would not give up this bill without having some more light before him, or without assurances of some better measure being immediately adopted in its stead. It was a bill which noble lords said, had produced no effect, although they said we had had S months experience of it. We had not in truth had three mouths experience of it, either in Scotland or Ireland. He asked their lordships, whether upon so slight a trial they would part with a bill founded on the principle of the army of reserve bill, which had been so beneficial, until experience should justify them in so doing? He apprehended they would not. The truth was, that this bill was produced when there was a great division of sentiment upon the subject in parliament, and that division necessarily pervaded different parts of the country, and from that cause the bill had been prevented from having a fair trial. Men's opinions, passions, and prejudices, had had, a great effect in thwarting the object of the bill in different places where it had been endeavoured to be carried into execution. It was said that we must have recourse to recruiting of the army instead of that system; but that had been already tried, and it was found not to answer the purpose, in point of dispatch, so well as this or some such measure; and he knew the great understanding of his noble friend better than to think-that he would forego a measure of this kind without affording it a fair trial. He therefore hoped that, instead of repealing this bill, parliament would have recourse to some alterations and improvements of it. All he asked was a fair trial of the merits of the bill. He dissuaded their lordships from too harshly adopting a system of recruiting, for it would be very 513 difficult to suppress the inconveniences that Would follow it. But there was another point on which a considerable flow of language had been employed, which might have been well enough adverted to by an argumentative speech without ornament, neither was there any necessity for the acrimony which appeared in the speech of the noble lord to whom he alluded. It would be absurd to say, that difference of political sentiment was a thing that made men unfit for each others' friendship, or that men could not be allowed to be acting for the good of their country, because they differed from others who were allowed to have that good at heart. It was one of the excellencies of our constitution, that men were naturally led to a difference of opinion in public; it was the fruit of freedom of parliamentary debate; this freedom necessarily produced divisions and acrimonious observations, and personal allusions, which generated a considerable degree of heat; but, to say that those who thus may accidentally differ, can never act together for the benefit of their country, was going much too far in his opinion. Men might, from various causes, oppose each other for a long time; might censure each other, speak of each other acrimoniously, but they might nevertheless, unite in one way of thinking, and act together; but if it should happen that those who had been from their earliest years in habits of intimacy and cordial affection, acting together in public life, should have a suspension of their friendships and predilections from an accident, he thought such a circumstance ought not to be made the subject of acrimonious observations, such as had been indulged in by a noble earl in this debate. He, on the other hand, had rather observe, that those who had long and frequently been in the habit of differing in opinion, had expressed their sentiments with considerable heat and animosity, perhaps, sometimes, towards each other, could nevertheless find a principle which called upon them to bury their animosity for ever, and to unite their efforts in the service of their country, and then treat each other with that warmth of heart and real kindness which is chiefly to be found in domestic affection, but which he did not think ought to be banished from public life. He had observed these things a little longer, as he was an older man, than most of the noble lords he-now had the honour of 514 addressing; he had observed that notwithstanding a good deal of apparent rancour, reconciliations of this kind sometimes, took place; if any thing of that kind could take place on this occasion, a good deal of public advantage might be derived, from this digression. It was worth while for persons distinguished in public life, to consider what the public thought of these acrimonious observations, and how easy it was to doubt the sincerity of them, and to conclude that public men were not really interested in what they said, when, they appeared to forget it so soon. These exhibitions of anger and rage on the parliamentary theatre, in which the whole public was the audience or spectators, had" not the happiest effect in producing the best opinion of those who made these exhibitions in that house. He therefore thought they might treat one another like gentlemen and cease to abuse one another. When men acted together fairly, the world never found fault with them, and gave them credit for good intentions, but parliamentary rancour was a thing the public disliked. As to warmth of debate, nothing was better; but that was not the same thing as rancour, which had always a bad effect on the spectators, who put a bad construction upon the practice of indulging it. He thus endeavoured, as well as he could, to smooth the combatants in these matters, a practice in which he had had some experience. He had only to repeat, that he should always wish every parliamentary debate to be animated, but not rancorous; that men might speak against each other with as much heat as they pleased, but still that they should treat each other like gentlemen. There should be ho such asperities and personalities between men who might expect, that from political changes or events, they would be called on to act with those very persons against whom their asperities had been directed—a thing which might lead to their never being cordial. He was an old man, and had had much experience. He hoped noble lords would think of this principle, for they were all young enough to benefit by his advice.
The Earl of Fife
said a few words in support of the motion, but in so low a tone of voice, that we could not distinctly hear his lordship.
§ Lord Hawkesbury
said, that even those who saw objections to the act which it was now proposed to repeal, in the first in- 515 stance, and compared it with some other system, might now with the most perfect consistency vote in favour of that which was established. He thought, therefore, that the charges on that head against his noble friend (lord Sidmouth) and others were totally groundless. The measure had been adopted by parliament, it had laid the basis of a system for the recruiting of the army, and being adopted, it ought to be persevered in, unless something manifestly much more advantageous could be substituted in its place. Nay, though it could rank only as second or third in comparison of another plan, it was better it should be retained than that uncertainty and fluctuation, on a matter so important, should prevail. Besides, the act had not had a fair trial. It had been passed amidst much heat of party. It was not till Nov. that it began to be acted upon, and even under all these disadvantages it had produced a considerable number of men, and if it went on as it had for the last two weeks, the number raised during which was 300 each, it would in a twelvemonth produce 13,000, and that without at all interfering with the other mode of recruiting. He was of opinion that our whole force was equal to the necessity of our situation, and that nothing, was wanting in it, but that the proportion of disposable force should be increased. He approved of the reduction of the militia to the old number of 40,000, on this account, that it would facilitate the enlargement of our disposable force. The army of reserve act had been of the utmost utility, by supplying, in a short time, a greater number of men than any other measure could have done. Experience, too, had shewn that the best means of speedily augmenting the general regular force was to enlist the men, first for limited service, and to this system the government ought to adhere. As to the enlisting men for a limited time, he said, that differences of opinion prevailed among the most intelligent officers. The question had been attentively and impartially weighed by ministers; and no such satisfactory reasons to rely upon its utility had appeared as to justify them in resorting to it. For his own part, he was convinced that it would not be attended with the advantages expected from it. Upon the whole, he thought that the act now in being should be continued; and he trusted, too, that the penalties it imposed for not raising the 516 men would be exacted; for if it were imagined that they would not, or that the bill would be altogether repealed, no exertions would be made to carry its provisions into effect. And from this cause, perhaps, it had not hitherto been so successful as it would have been, though the experience they had of it should induce the parliament to persevere in it.—His lordship then adverted to the remarks of a more personal nature, which the allusions of the noble mover had introduced. He admitted, that in a government like this, differences of opinion must exist, and that such differences though naturally accompanied with occasional warmth or hostility, ought, not to be any bar to men concurring and acting together for the public good. The merits of such unions, however, must be decided by the circumstances under which they arose, and the motives by which they, were prompted. It was not easy to lay down any general grounds on which they could be judged. He would say, however, that if men who had long been in the habits of friendship, confidence, and concurrence in sentiment, on public affairs, and on fundamental points of the constitution, did happen to disagree, their re-union was at least as natural as their separation, and could not afford any ground of suspicion of their integrity and consistency. On the other hand, if those who had been in constant hostility and opposition to each other on all public questions, who had differed on the most essential principles of the constitution, who had opposed each other with no common acrimony in questions supposed to be connected with the very salvation of the state, did happen to form a political coalition, he confessed lie thought such a coalition would be more liable to suspicions than a re-union of those who hardly ever had thought differently, and' hardly at all on fundamental points. When he saw a union formed of those who thus had never agreed in constitutional doctrines, who had entertained such opposite sentiments on questions of peace or war, that the one had declared that peace on any reasonable or honourable terms was the policy to he adopted, and the other maintained that war was the system till a peace was obtained, which no man could have seriously believed to be, in the state of Europe which then existed, attainable; when those who had formed the coalition, too, equally disagreed in their views of 517 domestic as well as of foreign policy, the one considering as deadly attacks on the liberties of the country those precautions which the other had supported as essential to the preservation of the country—such a coalition, he thought, marked it the object of universal astonishment, if not of indignation.—Much had been said of widening the basis of the administration; but he confessed, that in looking at the circumstances he had just mentioned, he could not form any expectation that such an arrangement could be permanent or useful. Neither could he consider coalitions with a view to form such administrations as at all compatible with the principles of the constitution. The beauty of our government consisted in the just distribution of the power and influence of king, lords, and commons; but a confederacy of powerful men to dictate the administration, would, in effect, annihilate king, lords and commons, and constitute an aristocratic usurpation, destructive to the balance of the constitution. Such, at least, had been the sentiments once entertained of a celebrated coalition by the noble baron on the other side, and those sentiments, having learned them from him and others, he still retained. His lordship concluded by saying, that he should give his decided negative to the motion proposed by the noble earl.
§ The Earl of Buckinghamshire
said, he was free to confess that he never had expected the present measure to be very efficient, nor did he think it had turned out so; notwithstanding that opinion, he would never bring himself to vote for its repeal, until it had had a fair trial, and unless something that appeared better was proposed to be substituted in its place. He did not think this measure could ever be said to have had a fair trial, until the penalties incurred by the parishes had been actually levied. It was not that he wanted to commute for penalties the service required, nor to raise an additional tax upon that pretence, but he thought that parliament was bound to uphold the measure, by the strict enforcement of the penalties, before the effect of it could be calculated, It was not improbable that there had been a great deal of indifference and neglect, from the supposition that these penalties would not be levied. Even when the measure should have had its fair trial, and supposing it should not be found as efficient as was expected, he 518 would not then vote for the repeal of it, unless something else should be recommended at the same time which promised to be more efficient.
The Lord Chancellor
left the Woolsack, and took a view of the question. He compared the present act with that by which the army of reserve had been raised, and he contended, that the former followed up the spirit of the latter, moderating its operation because it was no longer necessary to apply it with so much energy. The principle of the army of reserve act was to raise men by imposing pecuniary penalties on parishes; the present bill did the same in a much less degree, because the army of reserve act had done all that could be desired from it. Indeed, a more useful measure, he was satisfied, never had obtained his concurrence; and happy he was to reflect, that all the military measures of the incapable and imbecile ministry, as it was called, had his most cordial and conscientious approbation. If the present act was repealed, it would only have the effect indeed, to repeal the only new military measure of the present cabinet, and to revive the army of reserve act, that reprobated measure of the incapable administration. He contended that the bill had not had a fair trial, for how could it be expected, that after bounties had been so high as 60l. and 701. men would all at once be found for 12l.? nor could they be found, if it was understood that the present act was to be repealed, and new measures, or the old, under which bounties had been so high, were again to be resorted to. He begged it to be understood, that he entirely concurred in thinking, that the pecuniary penalties should be inforced, if not, that would be an argument with him for repealing the act. As to other topics that had been dwelt upon that night, he thought it did not become him to say any thing. Every noble lord was the only judge of the him of conduct it appeared to him right to pursue; but still if there appeared any great inconsistency or change in the sentiments and opinions of any one member of that house, it was equally competent to any other noble lord to advert upon this inconsistency, and oppose the authority of the same noble lord, in his conduct at another time, to the authority of the opinion which he now expressed.
made a short reply, in which he denied any intention of exciting 519 personal animosities between any noble lords, but insisted that he had an undoubted right to observe generally on the composition the govt. All coalitions on his side of the house were treated with the greatest asperity, and he thought he had at least an equal right to animadvert upon those coalitions which were made on the other side, apparently in dereliction of all principle, with no other view but dividing among them places of profit and emoluments of office. He considered it a fair and proper subject of remark, that so great a change had recently taken place in his majesty's govt. as that the leading member in the late incapable administration, had now so conspicuous a station and so great an influence in the present, and that the majority of the cabinet should now be Composed of those very men who had composed that incapable ministry, which the present minority in that cabinet had so lately contributed to overthrow. He did not think the noble lord (Melville) had any right to dictate to him or his friends. It reminded him of a celebrated dramatic performance, in which a great northern character, sir Pertinax Mac Sycophant, is perpetually giving lectures on the morality of bowing, and the virtues of political consistency. He could by no means agree with the statement of a noble lord (Hawkesbury) that 200 men a week had been raised by this bill since it began to operate. He considered the present system wholly inefficient and radically bad, and wished that the act should be expunged from the journals of parliament. The house then divided, when there appeared,
For Earl Darnley's motion 45 Against it 113 Majority against the motion, 68
|List of the Minority.|
|Duke of Clarence||Earl Darnley|
|Duke of Norfolk||Earl St. Vincent|
|Duke of Bedford||Earl of Cassilis|
|Marquis of Buckingham||Earl Stair|
|Marquis of Bute||Earl of Fife|
|Maiquis of Lansdowne||Viscount Maynard|
|Marquis of Headfort||Lord De Clifford|
|Earl of Derby||Lord St. John of Kelsoe|
|Earl of Carlisle||Lord Say and Sele|
|Earl Fitzwilliam||Lord Bessborough|
|Earl of Suffolk||Lord King|
|Earl of Berkeley||Lord Montfort|
|Earl of Thanet||Lord Foley|
|Earl of Leicester||Lord Stawell|
|Earl of Albemarle||Lord Grantley|
|Earl Spencer||Lord Rawdon|
|Earl of Peterborough||Lord Grenville|
|Earl Cholmondeley||Lord Dundas|
|Earl of Guilford||Lord Yarborough|
|Barf Cowper||Lord Kenyon|
|Earl of Tankerville||Lord Carysfort|
|Earl of Carnarvon||Lord Hutchinson|