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Mr. Hartley' s motions on the Expenses of the War



Monday, April 1, 1776.

Before the Order of the Day was read, Mr˙ Hartley spoke as follows:

The noble Lord who presides in the Department of the Revenue, having announced to the House that he intends to lay the state of the nation before us, on the first day of business after the recess, I hope that it will not appear foreign to that purpose if I suggest to them the necessity of some proper materials being laid upon the table, by the help of which we may be better prepared to enter upon so important a discussion. The state of the national revenue and expenditure, together with the sufficiency or insufficiency of the national powers, are very properly termed by the very noble Lord to be the state of the nation. It is a subject of such infinite importance, that I need make no apology to the House, in the present state of things, for recommending a prudent forecast of the ruinous consequences which must inevitably attend the civil war with our Colonies, into which this nation is so blindly and precipitately driven by its Ministers. The enormity of the expense, which I shall endeavour to explain to you under the several branches this day, is but the least part of the evil. Even what Administration would call success would be more irrecoverable ruin, by destroying the very source of wealth and strength to this country, than almost any anticipation of the revenue in the first instance.

These are matters of such importance that I should think myself highly criminal, and a deserter of the trust reposed in me as a member of Parliament, if I did not offer to the House, with great deference, such materials and information as have fallen in my own way, in the course of my best endeavours to obtain information for myself, on the subject of the publick revenue. Reposing myself upon that candour of the House which I have so often experienced, I will endeavour to state a few plain facts and plain consequences, without partiality or bias, without respect of persons, and without fear or favour.

It is so much the more necessary that we should come to some explicit understanding of these matters, as the most profound secrecy and concealment have been practised to keep alarming truths from the publick eye, and false pretences have been thrown out to amuse the credulous confidence of this House. It is not many months ago, (no longer than the last session,) that any member who got up to warn you of the serious and fatal consequences of the war then recommended against America, was laughed at in his place; the very suggestion was treated as being so ridiculous, that the Minister proposed to you to begin by disarming — by voting four thousand seamen less than you had kept the year before; and not many days after the meeting of the new Parliament, a vote of three shillings land tax was proposed, with a view to sooth the landed men into a confidential compliance with the measures of Administration, and into the adoption of this fatal war. That this step was


taken with no other view than to quiet and to prevent the alarms of the landed interest, is past dispute; because the vote for the three-shillings land tax was passed before Christmas, though the bill was not brought in till after the holidays; the vote, therefore, was studiously thrown out beforehand, to prevent the discontents that might happen, and to mislead the publick into a fallacious dependance, that a few superficial and unimportant discontents in America, as they were then represented to be, would soon be subdued. Under this deception, the landed gentlemen in this House have been trepanned by every artifice, and the publick out of doors have been waylaid by every insidious practice, to induce them to acquiescence in the dependance that Ministry would guaranty their country against the evils only suggested by groundless fear. Where are we now? Have not our forebodings been more than realized? Has it been arrant folly in Administration to plunge us into our present situation? or has it been downright treachery aforethought, to lead their unsuspecting country, step by step, into an irreconcilable civil war, to dip Great Britain and America in blood, and to cut off the retreat to peace and safety?

Whichever be the case, the Administration have now, at least, forfeited all claim to the confidence of this House and of the publick. We are now told with great composure, by those very men who, but a few months ago, laughed to scorn every foreboding word of prudence, that the whole power of this country is unequal to the undertaking: and that however reasonable it might have been last year to have foreseen the immensity of the war, yet that Parliament, in the last session, would not have been disposed to grant more expensive aids, and therefore that no more were then applied for; but that we are now dipped in, and must wade through. If an army of fifty thousand men, and one hundred ships of force, are now found necessary, the word to Parliament is, You must go through: there is no retreat; it must be done. Every corner of the three kingdoms is to be ransacked for recruits; every Power in Europe is to be solicited for mercenary aid; every trading vessel heretofore employed in the American commerce is now destined to transport the means of destroying the commercial wealth of Great Britain, and all the sources of its naval empire. The noble Lord has announced to us that he will, upon the 19th of this month, lay before us the most speedy and effectual way of accomplishing these important objects; and that is what, I presume, he calls laying before us the state of the nation.

As I wish the publick may no longer be deceived, but that they may be put into possession of the real state of the facts, and of the probable expectation of consequences, I shall offer to the House some motions for the proper materials to be prepared and laid before us, to be our guide and assistance in forming our judgment and decision. The three great branches of national expense are, the Navy, the Army, and the Ordnance; and each of these branches is divided into two parts, viz: expenses which are voted upon specifick estimates, and extraordinary expenses which are incurred every year in the three services, partly at the discretion of the respective commanders, and partly at the discretion of the Ministry in their several departments. These extraordinaries, in former times, were kept within narrow bounds; but of late years they are grown to an enormous amount, almost equal to the expenses voted in each service upon estimate; which latitude, thus negligently and tacitly allowed to Ministers in dispensing the publick purse, has been, and I fear will continue to be, the cause of a most ruinous waste of the publick revenue. As to the present year, the House have before them all the expenses of the American war, which have been formed into specifick estimates; but the unmeasurable part of the expense will be in the secret and hidden class of extraordinaries, left to the unrestrained discretion of Ministers, Commanders, Commissaries, and Contractors. The House and the publick are amused with nominal estimates, while this bottomless gulf is opened behind us, and not to be satiated but with the last farthing. If experience can teach us wisdom, it is high time that we were possessed of it. This chaos of extraordinaries may, doubtless, be reduced to some reasonable shape of computation. Ministers will hardly tell this House seriously, that they have not the least measure of what they recommend or undertake; nor, I think, would it be very decent for them to come in, the next session,


with a boundless demand of debts incurred upon the confidence which we are now desired to repose in them, and to tell us then, We foresaw all these expenses, but we concealed them carefully from you, that we might lead you insensibly on.

Then let us forecast the account now. I shall begin with the Navy. The motion which I shall make upon the subject of the Navy is copied, word for word, out of the Journals upon a former occasion; and a very accurate estimate was made in return, of the probable expense of the Navy, article by article: therefore I am sure the Minister can give us this information if he will.

My motion is, "That there be laid before this House an estiinate of the probable expense of his Majesty' s Navy for the present year, distinguishing under proper heads upon the services voted by this House; showing, also, how far the said expense may probably exceed or fall short of the sums already voted for those services; and also, an estimate of the probable expense of transports and victualling during the present year."

My second and third motions, respecting the extraordinaries of the Army, and Ordnance for land service, are nearly to the same effect, viz:

"That an estimate of the probable amount of the extraordinary services likely to be incurred by his Majesty' s Land Forces in one year, from March 9, 1776, be prepared and laid before this House."

"That an estimate of the probable expense of the Office of Ordnance for land service, during the present year, over and above the provision already made in this session of Parliament, be prepared and laid before this House."

These are the materials which, as it seems to me, are necessary for us to form our judgment upon. Many of them may be estimated with great accuracy; and, from the experience and assistance of the official lights which the noble Lord has access to, he may give us a general view of the whole probable expense of the year. This is what I should call laying the state of the nation before us. By this time of the year (which is the month of April) you ought to have formed your plans. You cannot be ignorant of the number of ships which are destined for sea service for this year. You know the complement of men for each rate; therefore you may know by how many they will exceed the number of seamen voted by Parliament. In the forming such an estimate, the Board of Admiralty can give you a list of the seamen to be employed; the Paymaster of the marines can send you the number of marines. The value of stores contracted for and to be purchased for ships, and building-yards, and rope-yards, ought to be minutely known, or else how is the Navy to be provided? I will read you three or four principal heads of expense in the estiinate of the Navy, which was returned to this House on the 2d of May, 1772, and which is printed in the Journals, upon the very identical motion that I offer to you now. Take them as a specimen, that the estimates that I now ask for may be very methodically made out, unless you are determined to withhold every requisite information from this House:

Value of stores and materials contracted for and to be purchased for his Majesty' s ships and yards;

Wages to inferior officers and workmen in his Majesty' s several dock-yards, &c˙;

Value of stores and materials for the use of the several rope-yards;

Wages to seamen, calculated upon the list received from the Admiralty, of ships to be employed at sea in the course of the year;

Value of provisions to be purchased, &c˙, &c.

These are enough for a specimen; the further distribution of the heads of Naval estimates may be seen in the original paper itself in your Journals. Let us know what we are doing. What is it that you cannot compute? Have you not made provision for stores and materials necessary to careen, repair, and refit your fleet at Halifax? Or, if that place should fall into the hands of the Provincials, have you made no supplemental provision for the safety of the Navy, at the distance of three thousand miles? Let us have the option, whether we will seek our safety (more frugally at least) by a timely reconciliation with the once hospitable shore of America, or upon the dependance of some wild estimates of Administration, made for commissaries and contractors; or, which is most probable, must we patiently stand


by the consequences of their total neglect of every prudent and necessary precaution?

As for the extraordinaries of the land service, some estimate may likewise be made of them, as well as of the naval extraordinaries, or how are they to be provided for? What else is to guide Administration in the execution of their own plan? Does not General Howe inform the Administration, from time to time, what necessaries he may stand in need of? His general letters of requisition, during the last campaign, are now lying upon the table; and the noble Lord has told us that the Ministry do, from time to time, receive letters of more explanatory detail, according as he foresees such or such necessary services. Look at the bill of extras for the last year; are they not classed methodically into heads: of supply to the forces at Boston, at Montreal, Quebeck, &c˙; clothing and accoutrements, forage, live stock, vegetables, beer, &c˙, &c˙? Have you calculated any of these, to reduce them within some estimable compass? Or do you merely hold out your measures to the ruinous profusion of commissaries, and the merciless avidity of contractors?

The last estimate of extraordinaries that I apply for is from the Board of Ordnance. Will you tell us that they are still at a loss for their computation? Is their powder not yet shipped? Are their guns not yet cast? Are their scaling-ladders not yet made? Are their baggage-wagons not yet built? Give us the best account you have, if it be but an estimate of the wagons which were reviewed the other day by the Master-General of the Ordnance, in Portman-Square.

You may give plain and direct answers to these inquiries, if you mean well. It is not a captious or perplexing estimate that I ask for, to an ounce of powder, or a gun-lock, or a handspike; I speak upon the scale of millions. You either cannot give these estimates, or you will not. If you will not, speak out, that we may know what we have to depend upon. If you acknowledge that you cannot, then will you dare to undertake the conduct of that war of which you confess your own inability to form even an idea or an estimate? Will this House, will the publick at large, commit a proposed armament of thirty, forty, or fifty thousand men, with a hundred ships of force, at the distance of three thousand miles, and upon a line of action of fifteen hundred, with the national honour at stake, to the hands of those men who profess their inability to form any estimate but for the emolument of commissaries and contractors?

If the Minister will condescend to lay the true state of the nation fully before Parliament, the question will then be fairly before this House and the publick, whether they will, with their eyes open, enter into a civil war, which in any event must feed upon, and exhaust every vital source of this country, at the certain expense of ten or twelve millions for this year? Whether they will double that expense in the next campaign? And whether they will, in a third year, commit themselves, helpless, exhausted, and defenceless, to the mercy of France or Spain, and of every Power in Europe that can build its future prosperity upon our ruin? Have we forgot that it was the discontent of taxes and anticipations in the last war that brought us down, when in the full career of victory over the hereditary enemies of this country, to become the humble suitors of a timid peace? That it was this want of forecast in the day of our then prosperity, which has entailed upon us that load of millions which both then and since have severely served to quicken the sense of humiliating restitutions, and the regret of victories wantonly thrown away? Then let us be wiser now. The estimates that I call for are not only in the highest degree necessary, but perfectly practicable. To tell us, that the precedent from which I take my example, of the naval estimates delivered in 1772, was in the time of peace, is only saying that it was less necessary then than it is now. My only reason for making this motion now is, because we are not at peace. Nor can the wisest of us all foresee the day, if you proceed a single step farther in these fatal measures, when this country may return to peace again.

I have now explained to the House the substance and view of my motions for estimates, which I fear will not be complied with, as I see no token of consent, or of any disposition on the other side of the House, to depart from their customary secrecy and silence. If the noble Lord, with his better lights and superior abilities, will lay before us the proper estimates and information, my end will be answered.


If not, I can only offer to the House (what I could not offer to them as an object of any attention but at a dead lift) my poor services to hunt out these matters of inquiry, upon such lights as are not confined within the pale of official departments.

The whole extent of my proposition is this: either that the noble Lord would lay before this House the best evidence and information upon the case, by authentick estimates; or that he will allow me to offer my conjectural estimates, as a ground for the House to come to some safe opinion upon; or that he will give himself the trouble to point out in what parts he may think them materially erroneous.

Having no wish to misrepresent, and hardly room to exaggerate, I commit myself freely to the candour of the House, in the investigation of those necessary points of information, in which we are not likely to receive any assistance from more authentick estimates. I will endeavour to be as distinct and methodical as I can, at the same time trusting that the noble Lord will not cavil with me for little matters. Points of minute accuracy may be reserved for some other day. A few thousands more or less make no difference in my argument; I speak upon the scale of millions.

To bring the whole question into one point of view, we should state the following particulars:

1st˙ The sums already voted upon estimate for the present year, £6,157,000
2dly˙ The sum remaining to vote upon estimate, computed at 750,000
3dly˙ The probable excess of the expenses of the Navy, Army, and Ordnance, over and above the provisions already made, computed at 5,300,000
These three sums will make the total of the expense of 1776, 12,207,000
To which we must add: —
4thly˙ The amount of the present outstanding debts, viz:
Navy debt on 31st Dec˙ 1775, £2,698,000 
Exchequer bills, 1,250,000 
Civil list debt, as stated by Lord Stair,800,000 
Making a gross total of 16,955,000
Deducting from this total —
5thly˙ One year' s produce of the ordinary revenue, computed at4,950,000
The remainder unprovided for will then be £12,005,000

If the expense of the extraordinaries should exceed the proportion above stated, of which I can have no doubt, if this armament goes on according to its present train, just in the same proportion will this last unprovided sum of twelve millions five thousand pounds be increased. To avoid the least imputation of aggravating matters, I have stated the extras of the three services at no more than five millions three hundred thousand pounds; and I desire that it maybe remembered that this was my reason: We may compute the least possible sum, but the greatest possible amount is incomputable. I will not venture to say what that may be. This is the true state of the question in one view, without aggravation or colouring. Upon the balance of this year there will remain unprovided for, the sum of twelve millions, or perhaps a great deal more.

I will now enter, as shortly as I can, into the detail, to justify the estimates of the several articles as I offer them to the House; always remembering, as I said before, that I speak upon the scale of millions. The twelve millions, which I state as remaining unprovided for, may be fifteen millions; or, if it should possibly prove no more than ten millions, though the latitude seems very great, yet, in my opinion, the argument is not altered; for I hope that neither this House, nor the publick at large, being apprized, and in their sober senses, would be reconciled to saddle themselves at the end of this year with an unprovided sum of ten millions, for a mere possible pittance of revenue from America, to be balanced by the certain destruction of national commerce, and even that poor possible pittance requiring to be collected and maintained by a perpetual standing force and civil war.


But to return to the articles of my estimate.

The first article is the amount of the sums already voted, being merely a summation of the articles as standing upon the votes, — £6,157,000
The second article of estimates remaining to vote, stated at 750,000

I explain thus —
Militia to be embodied, — £500,000
Sundry services, — 250,000
Total, — 750,000

As for the estimate of the Militia, I have taken it from your Journals during the late war. I do not know that it will be voted at all this year; but that it seems reasonable to suppose that the Ministry will not leave us unguarded at home, and because a special act has been passed this season to enable the King to do it. It is not to be expected that I should know whether the whole is likely to be called out, or only part, or what part or proportion; for I verily believe the Ministry do not know themselves. As to the two hundred and fifty thousand pounds for sundry services, I include some estimates already lying upon the table unprovided for: the deficiency of the funds of 1758 — possibly some deficiency of the grants of last year — possibly some coinage expenses — the re-building of Somerset House, &c˙, &c.

So much for the first and second articles; the third is that which requires the most discussion.

The total of the third article, being £ 5,300,000
I divide thus —
Naval extras, — £ 2,500,000
Army extras, — 2,500,000
Ordnance extras, — 300,000
Total, — 5,300,000

As for the Naval extras, the single article of transport-service and victualling will go deep into two millions five hundred thousand pounds. There is an estimate which I have seen in print, drawn up by an experienced and able hand, of all the necessary attendances upon an army of thirty thousand men; in that estimate the necessary transports are stated at two hundred thousand tons. Then compute two hundred thousand tons at eleven shillings per ton per month or more, and add the victualling estimates — that is enough for the first article towards the two millions five hundred thousand pounds. The next article is beyond my power to specify; but I think I may venture to assume, that the present armament of one hundred ships of force in America cannot possibly be manned without ten or fifteen thousand men more than the number of men as yet voted. Your seamen, exclusive of marines, which are chiefly used as land forces, and many of them now shut up in Boston, amount to but little more than eighteen thousand. Your American armament singly would require that number. Your foreign stations cannot be stripped. The East-Indies, the West Indies, the Mediterranean, Newfoundland, your home guard, many convoys that will soon be applied for, (I have myself applied for one convoy already,) ought to be supplied with as many more. Calculate the seamen, with their bounty-money or press-money, and their ordinary rate of expense; then add, stores consumed and destroyed, provisions for ships in sea-service, interest running on upon navy bills, old arrears coming to light, with an endless catalogue of never-failing items, and I think I shall have outgone my stint of two millions five hundred thousand pounds.

Comparing these considerations with the amount of the total naval expense of the early years of the late war, (1757 and 1758,) the result is to the same conclusion; therefore I shall pass on to the second sum of two millions five hundred thousand pounds, calculated for Army extras. If I could form any guess of the price of a bushel of wheat, or of a sack of oats, transported by force of arms from Bear-Key to Ticonderoga or Crown-Point, I might hope to make some impression upon this estimate. It must put to scorn all estimates from German extraordinaries; and yet the extraordinaries for several years of the late war, for forage and provisions, amounted to four or five millions per annum. The petty extraordinaries of a few men, circumscribed within the peninsula of Boston for a few months, has amounted by the accounts of the last year, to an enormous sum; then, what estimate shall we form for a twelvemonth' s provision and forage for an army of thirty or forty thousand


men, at the distance of three thousand miles from home, besieging and besieged, spread, or at least expecting to be spread, over that immense continent, but without one hospitable acre to afford them sustenance! It is out of my bounds to undertake the calculation. If I have not overrated the total, it is enough for my argument; and I fear, when the bill comes to be paid, it will be more than enough for us all. As to the office of Ordnance, one word will settle that account. Their usual stint, during the last war, for extras, was three hundred thousand pounds a year. In the year 1775, they got up to two hundred and twenty-three thousand pounds for extras; and I dare believe that their industry will not be backwark to support the good old custom of a round sum for unaccounted extras.

Having, as I hope, verified my estimate for the extras, and clearly having not overrated them, I am returned to my first total of the expenses of 1776, as stated above at, — £ 12,207,000
The amount of the present outstanding debt as already explained, — 4,748,000
The total of the supply of 1776, added to the debts outstanding/amounts, as before stated, to, — 16,955,000

As for the amount of the ordinary revenue, there cannot be much dispute.

A four shilling land-tax, and the malt duty, yield net, — 2,250,000
The sinking fund, upon an average of five years, somewhat less, — 2,700,000
Total, — 4,950,000

The remainder, therefore, unprovided for, will be, as I stated it before, — £12,005,000

But that I may not seem to exaggerate, I do not state that it is indispensable to provide for the whole of the twelve millions, because I know it has been customary, though not commendable, to suffer an outstanding debt of two or three millions. And to be perfectly explicit, I wish to state the precise sum which will be necessary before the end of this very year, to place us in the same condition as we were before the American war. I think it very fair to take my line, from the noble Lord' s own conduct respecting the outstanding debt. In his administration, the Navy debt has been reduced as low as one million eighty-two thousand pounds, and the Exchequer bills to one million. I shall therefore on this head throw in another million, and strike off three millions from my last total of twelve millions. The noble Lord' s own conduct marks what even a Minister thinks to be the reasonable line of indulgence, and justifies me in saying, that the least sum to be raised, which can be sufficient to restore this country to that degree of ease and affluence (such as it was) which we enjoyed before this American war, must be nine millions. I make no demands of impracticable austerity, with any view to aggravate; but I state the simple and certain difference, such as it will be at the end of this campaign, with the situation in which a commendable attention of the noble Lord in the early parts of his Ministry had once placed us. I call it the certain difference of nine millions, because there can be no doubt that the extras, as estimated at five millions three hundred thousand pounds, must be much below the mark; if so, the result of the whole is this, that the nation must be prepared to support the burden of ten or twelve millions at the end of this year for the American war.

I have often stated these matters to the noble Lord in this House, without any correction from him as having overrated them. I told the country gentlemen, both last year and this year, that they must take their leave of a three shillings land-tax; the fourth is mortgaged in perpetuity. If you are already ten or twelve millions deep, where will you be in the next year, and the next? And what taxes or funds are you provided with, or can you find? A noble person [the Earl of Stair] has given us a very accurate state of the publick revenue, and has shown that the annual surplus, even of a four shillings establishment, is but about five hundred thousand pounds a year: how is this pittance to clear off a debt often millions? or, if you go on with these destructive measures, perhaps twenty or thirty millions? Take off the fourth shilling, and you will find the remainder barely equal to your peace establishment; therefore the fourth shilling upon land is all that you have left to clear your debts, or provide for


future contingencies, till the landed gentlemen shall consent to give six shillings in the pound.

I have endeavoured to draw up my motions, argumentatively dependant upon each other, in the manner and order that I have opened them, viz: The services of 1776; the debts outstanding; the ordinary ways and means; and the deficiency unprovided for; that they may stand upon your Journals as a caveat, at least, entered before these fatal measures are irretrievable. But as I do not mean to throw out any false colouring, cither to the House or to the publick, by the means of your votes, and as one of my resolutions contains a recital of the total Navy debt, lest, therefore, it should appear that I made a demand for the payment of the whole, I shall offer to the House a subsequent resolution, explaining what proportion of the Navy debt I do think it necessary to have discharged for the better security of publick credit, viz: The Navy bills outstanding, or at least such part as now carry interest at four per cent., amounting to about one million six hundred thousand pounds, (exclusive of interest,) as appears by a paper laid this day upon your table at my request. The paper is intituled "An Account of Navy, Victualling and Transport Bills outstanding on the 29th of February, 1776."

The reasons which induce me to offer this measure to the House are, in my poor opinion, of some importance. If you look at your Navy debt, or upon the paper just now presented, you will see that there are more bills of credit now outstanding than in any year for the first five years of the late war, when we had the greatest Powers in Europe to contend with. What description of mine, or even what possible exaggeration, could paint the present state of this country in more alarming colours! At the very outset of this war we are driven to the same shifts, which we were not driven to in the late war till we had attained every object of it, and till, by the vigorous exertion of a great Minister, we had girt the globe with conquest. When every nerve had been so long strained, and so successfully, something might then have been said for slackening the springs, and eking out with expedients; but to begin with secret shifts and hazardous expedients, what is that but confessing to a certainty that you foresee the enormity of the expense; that you take every means of concealing it from the publick eye; that you know and feel the inability of your country to support a civil war, which will destroy every source of its strength and power; but that you are secretly and treacherously meditating to lead us on, confiding, as we are, uninformed and unsuspecting as you would have us to be, step by step, to ruin?

The publick have been alarmed, and perhaps not without reason, upon some supposed measures of the Bank with respect to Navy bills. Whenever there are mysteries in matters of importance, suspicion is justifiable. Immediately after the Navy debt was moved for in Parliament, it was announced that the Bank had stopped their hands in buying up Navy bills, and they fell to a double discount. It was the calling for the Navy debt that first brought to light the total amount of the outstanding bills, which, on the 31st of December, 1775, was greater than in any of the first five years of the late war. The publick concluded very naturally that there was some secret understanding between the Ministry and the Bank upon this subject. Doubtless buying up the Navy bills by the Bank was a voluntary act of their own, even if it were concerted with the Ministry; but still the circumstances, taken altogether, appear suspicious. Why should the Bank have prevented themselves, as they seem to have done, from purchasing Navy bills at the double discount? For the moment they left off buying, the discount became double. Why should they even seem to be assisting to Government in their system of contracting debts secretly and underhand? This is tender ground. It was not originally any suspicion of mine; but I confess I took it from a paper circulated, and which I believe was sent to most members of this House, stating that the Bank had advanced above eight millions to the Treasury, upon distant funds, out of the reach of circulation, to the great risk of publick credit. If that be so, I still think, as I did when it was first suggested to me, that it is a most dangerous system. Its tendency is to convert the Bank of England into a Ministerial engine of State; and the danger nothing less than making the executive power independent on the knowledge and consent of Parliament for money. May not twenty-four directors, in some future time,


be prevailed upon materially to sacrifice the interest of the proprietors at large to serve a Minister? Even in the case just mentioned, it was a fortunate incident for the Ministry that, just at a time when it was their object to get what advance of money they could in secret, the Bank should seem studious to take up their Navy bills at half the discount to which they fell upon the very day on which they ceased to purchase. I repeat it again, this is tender ground; more so than is generally imagined.

I believe no one can doubt the responsibility of the Bank of England; but any bank, whether publick or private, may be broken, notwithstanding a very certain final responsibility of paying twenty shillings in the pound, and even a great surplus remaining. It is a ready responsibility that must support any bank at a pinch; distant funds, out of reach, will not give support against a sudden alarm and run. Any indiscretion of the bank in advancing large sums upon very distant funds maybe extremely hazardous to themselves, and to every shop which, by habit and gradual custom, considers bank notes to be as good as coin. They are all upon one bottom, I have not all the alarms about paper credit that some gentlemen have, particularly not about bank paper; but still I think it a point of material prudence that the Bank should not be too free in advancing millions upon very remote funds. This is a very important point. I hope I have touched it tenderly. I think I need say no more in support of my last motion, for making a satisfactory provision for the outstanding Navy bills.

I will now state my motions as they follow each other, argumentatively, in order: —

That it appears to this House, That the Supplies already voted in this session amount (exclusive of several other services as yet unprovided for,) to the sum (or thereabouts) of — £6,157,000

That it is the opinion of this House, That the expense of the Navy for the year 1776 may probably exceed the provisions hitherto made by Parliament, to the amount of — 2,500,000

That it is the opinion of this House, That the Extraordinaries of the Land Forces for one year from March 9, 1776, may probably amount to the sum of — 2,500,000

That it is the opinion of this House, That the expenses of the Office of Ordnance for land service for 1776 may probably exceed the provisions hitherto made in this session, by the sum of — 300,000

That it appears to this House, That there are Exchequer Bills outstanding, charged upon the first aids of this session, to the amount, in principal money, of — 1,250,000

That it appears to this House, That the Navy Debt, on the 31st of December last, amounted to the sum (or thereabouts) of — 2,698,000

That it is the opinion of this House, That, for the better security of publick credit, it would be proper to provide for the Navy, Victualling, and Transport Hills, outstanding on the 29th of February, 1776, amounting to the principal sum of £2,308,000, or thereabouts, (exclusive of interest already due,) or at least for such part of the said Bills as do at present carry interest at four per cent.

I have now stated all that I have to offer on the subject of the present state of the nation, and its revenue, which I address specially to the noble Lord who is Chancellor of the Exchequer. It is not the first time that I have addressed him upon that subject, and to this very effect. I have done it many times in this session, both before and since Christmas; but he has always confined himself to general terms. No repeated applications have been able to extort anything explicit from him. How can the noble Lord justify such secrecy and silence, and backwardness to communicate information to this House at this important crisis? It is the duty of his office to be active and vigilant, and forward to apprize this House in time, of every important circumstance, and not to leave the burden upon private and uninformed members of dragging every unwilling estimate into day-light. Why will he not cultivate the confidence of the House by fair and open dealing? What interest can the noble Lord have in keeping us in a state of deception? Is he afraid,


that if the whole truth were laid before us, this House and the publick would be less sanguine in the prosecution of the American war? I remember the day when the noble Lord told us, that others were more sanguine and impatient than himself. What are we to think of this inconsistence, that he should suffer himself to be driven to every sanguinary measure, contrary to his own better judgment? He professes the most earnest desire for peace, but submits to and supports every measure and principle of the most sanguinary kind. In the very beginning of this session he exclaimed with the most apparent earnestness and sincerity, would to God that all things were as they were in 1763! He expressly declared his readiness to dispense with taxation; he has even proposed terms with America, (such as they are,) which at least proves that he does not maintain the doctrine of unconditional submission; the next day, perhaps, he is taken to task, and insulted publickly before us all, for his indolence and inactivity; then again he resumes his taxation and compulsory revenue. He submits to be the mere instrument of carrying through this House every merciless and vindictive act that is suggested to him; and very placidly acquiesces with the noble Lord lately advanced to the head of the American Department, who declares, in the most peremptory tone, that he will reduce America to unconditional submission with fire and sword.

The place of First Lord of the Treasury has usually been considered as the post of Minister; but whether it be from indolence or indisposition to the service, we know not; certain, however, it is, that the present noble Lord in that office suffers himself to be controlled and superseded, at least in American measures. A Secretary of State for the American Department is introduced to give vigour to sanguinary measures, to counteract the more pacifick disposition of the apparent Minister, lest the House should catch the relenting mood, which in truth they appear very well disposed to, whenever the noble Lord at the head of the Treasury gives the least opening. These are the dispositions which all his friends (and I myself am not without my partialities to him) wish to see confirmed into steady and persevering principles of action. Why will he not justify the favourable opinion of his friends, by a manly adherence to the line of lenient justice? If these principles are not merely transitory and complexional in him, let him confirm them by his actions. If he will take a decided part now, according to his professions, and not suffer himself to be overruled by some secret and destructive influence, he may give peace to his country and to America. It is an important moment, that does not fall to every man' s lot. A manly steadiness, and exertion of that influence which he possesses, may rescue his country from all the horrours of a civil war; and when I have said thus much to him, his own reflection will suggest to him, that the man who has so much in his power, and neglects the exertion, either through indolence or any private or personal views, will have a very heavy load of guilt lying at his door.

However, sir, for the present, and with respect to the materials which I have now offered to the House, I shall confine my address to the noble Lord as Chancellor of the Exchequer, distinct from the efficient and responsible Minister of the American war; a distinction which perhaps he may not be displeased with at present, and which he may find it very material to be able hereafter to justify.

I now submit myself to the noble Lord' s comment and correction, if I have fallen into any material error in my calculations; if not, I will, under favour of the House, reserve myself for a few words upon the general subject of the American civil war, which it is the sole and ultimate object of all my prayers and labours to avert.

Lord North said, the honourable gentleman looked for impossibilities; he could not divine what the expense of the campaign would amount to. It was impossible to tell, till the expense was incurred; and in some instances not till long after. Such accounts as were brought into the respective offices, were regularly laid before the House and that was all that could be done. He was against the motion, because it could not be complied with; the sums might be right, but the House had no documents before them to come to such a vote.

Hon˙ James Luttrell supported Mr˙ Hartley' s motion; but many of his arguments went to prove, that the information required by Mr˙ Hartley would be very insufficient, if Parliament were to be imposed upon by such mutilated and


garbled estimates as were then laid upon the table, tending to mislead, rather than inform the House; that though they were so very artfully and intricately drawn up that it would be found difficult to decypher them, it was indeed unnecessary to attempt it; for he would undertake to prove that they were replete with fraud and imposition, the money not having appeared to be applied to the several purposes for which Parliament had granted it; that the practice was to raise money upon false pretences; that Parliament had voted sixty thousand pounds for the express purposes of repairing two seventy-four-gun ships and one frigate, not a shilling of which money had been so expended, the two large ships being decayed for want of repair, and the frigate broken up as soon as the money was asked for. He then proved several other impositions not less gross; but contended, that the large supplies granted annually by Parliament were sufficient, with good management, to answer all the necessary expenses of the Navy. He showed that, either by ignorance or fraud, a great and heavy debt was incurred; but said he was sure that the House was not before acquainted with the means by which that debt was contracted, and was persuaded Government could only trust to the indolence of Parliament, and the insufficiency of the estimates, to shelter themselves from that resentment such impositions on the publick and insult on the Commons merited. He then stated that more than half a million of money had been voted for naval stores since 1771, exclusive of half the four pounds per man for each month, which is a very great supply towards the wear and tear; that several articles in the ordinary estimates have increased nearly double in the space of a few years; that naval stores supplied by America before the war, had of late years fallen one-third in their price; that harbour moorings now stand Government in £50,000 a year, which a few years ago did not exceed £20,000, though they are not so frequently shifted, nor attended with the same expense as formerly; that £400,000 had been granted annually towards the repairs of our fleet, which is more than double the sum voted the year after the war, though new ships had replaced many of the old ones; and the service our Navy had been employed in during the peace could not occasion the necessity of frequent repairs. He then stated many more supplies, such as £264,795 for improving the £400,000 towards paying off the Navy debt, &c˙; but which way all these sums had really been applied, he contended, could not be traced cut by means of the estimates, or other accounts laid before Parliament; certain it was, however, that the Navy debt (reckoning the £400,000 granted by Parliament) from the 31st of December, 1771, to the 31st of December, 1775, had increased from £1,179,375 12s˙ 11 1/2d˙ to £3,098,579 0s˙ 3/4d. He then took many exceptions to several articles in the Navy estimate laid before Parliament, such as the number of seamen charged more than had been voted, a mutilated account of £20,096 12s˙ 2d˙, as the whole expense that appeared for building King' s ships in contractors' yards, when £17,574 granted, for the same purpose, had been smuggled into another estimate the same year; that no less than £91,524 9s˙ 10d˙ was not to be accounted for by the ingenuity of office, but by a supposition of the Navy Boards, that there might be more provisions on board the ships than last year, and that the price was higher. He concluded by insisting, that the charge of £96,291 5s˙ 5d˙ for victualling land forces, ought not to have been included in the Navy debt; and in support of this assertion, as well as to point out the necessity of a strict Parliamentary inquiry into the many impositions he had alluded to, and the remedy necessary to be applied, he desired that the Clerk might read an Address from the Commons to the Crown, on Thursday, May 31, 1711, in which they set forth, that it is their privilege to adjust the proportion of the money they grant, or are, for the sake of publick credit, bound to pay; that when the sums are slated and granted, those through whose hands the disposition of them passes, are not to be allowed in any shape to alter or enlarge them; that when uses are found out, such as were neither voted nor addressed for, it is a misapplication of the publick money; the Commons set forth the abuse of diverting several sums issued for one service, and transferring them to other purposes, for which they were not intended; and that such practices amount to attempts, which differ very little from levying money without the consent of Parliament at all.


That the sum of £660,806 7s˙ 7d˙, charged to the Navy debt, has been paid for victualling land forces sent to the garrisons of Gibraltar, &c˙, for which no deduction appears to be made from the pay of those forces, nor any part of that sum reassigned to the victualling; which is a breach of several acts of Parliament. And the Address, setting forth exact similar abuses to those now practised towards the Navy, prays that, for the sake of her Majesty' s honour and for the publick good, she will be pleased to remove those persons from office and publick trust, who have been found guilty of such frauds, and that they may be prosecuted by law for their offences.

Lord John Cavendish seconded Mr˙ Hartley' s motion. He desired to know what money would be wanted, that the House might he enabled to judge fairly of the expediency of the undertaking; and entreated that Administration would desist from their shameful, disingenuous conduct of bringing in their accounts by piece-meal, recommending to them to speak out like men, who had nothing to fear or conceal, and were ready to submit the measure at large, with all its consequences, to the eye of Parliament.

Mr˙ Hartley. Interested, as I am, not to incur the displeasure or slight opinion of the House, which must have been my punishment if I had presumed to make myself so much the object of their attention, as I have done this day, upon frivolous, crude, unwarranted, or undigested materials; I now address them with more confidence, as the noble Lord has neither denied, nor even contested, any material fact or probable calculation which I have offered to you. He has not entered much into detail; but he has told us in general terms, that the expense must be enormous; that no estimate could be made that could give any satisfaction to Parliament, (which is but poor encouragement to proceed;) that it has not been usual to forecast, or to provide for the actual expenses of each year within the year, but that it may be proper to provide for a few Navy bills; and though he has not consented to have authentick estimates laid before the House, yet he has given a full confirmation to mine, as not being exaggerated, but probably much underrated.

Upon this warrant from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I will now apply myself to another noble Lord, lately advanced to the head of the American Department, and who is therefore to be considered as standing in the place of efficient and responsible Minister for the present civil war. As to the First Lord of the Treasury, his measures have been vilified; his plans have been ridiculed; he has been publickly reproached in this House with indolence. The other noble Lord, who is not of a disposition to be dictated to, is now brought forward to restore firmness to our counsels. He will turn over a new leaf. He will inspire new vigour in this civil war. His principles and conduct have always been consistent. He declares uniformly and repeatedly, in the most peremptory tone, that he will never consent to any treaty with the Colonies whatsoever, previous to unconditional submission. Let this noble Lord now look at the work that he has undertaken, and the support that he is likely to receive from his colleagues in office. Will he sit patiently in his place, and hear the Chancellor of the Exchequer admit the enormity of the financial provisions necessary, yet openly declaring in the House that he will not make those necessary provisions?

I appeal to the House, if the noble Lord who is Chancellor of the Exchequer did not admit my estimates of the probable expense of this year to be underrated, at the same time declaring that he would not make provision for them in this year' s account, but leave them to time and chance; concluding with telling us that it might be proper to provide for a few Navy bills.

Would the great Minister of the late war have patiently submitted to such an undisguised declaration? No; nor would he, under those conditions, have stood responsible. I do not mean to instigate the war — no one will suspect me of that; but I apply to the discretion of those men who have undertaken. Granted that they can still think it may be within the limits of possibility to make a conquest of America, (which I think madness;) yet without concert, without union, without seamen; your levies not raised, your transports not hired, your embarkations already two months after their time, and still not in forwardness; your Chancellor of the Exchequer starving the service; one of your Commanders declaring in his place in this House, for himself


and his colleagues, that the service was unsought; will not Ministers pause for a moment? Is the prospect so encouraging, or do they not begin to suspect that they have undertaken more than they can accomplish, at least in the disunion and distraction of their present counsels? It is now avowed, that we are too late to expect the conquest of America in this campaign; that point has slipped already; set down ten or twelve millions more for that sleepy fit. I apply to the prudence of Ministers whether, in the present circumstances at least, they may not think it advisable to relax from the peremptory terms of unconditional submission.

The whole of my object in applying to you this day, is to submit to the consideration of the House, and of the publick, whether, for the sake of justice, and upon a review of the state of the nation, and of all the consequences which must attend this fatal war, they will not think it reasonable and expedient (if this armament must proceed) to send, at the same time, a solemn, clear, distinct, and unambiguous specification of just and honourable terms to be offered to your Colonies, previous to any further acts of hostility. I think that Parliament owe to their own dignity, and to the honour of the kingdom which they represent, to set up the standard of national justice upon that ground. I do not take it as a simple proposition, either of concession or accommodation, but of indispensable justice, as connected with these armaments of vengeance which you are preparing. Let it be avowed, openly and unequivocally, to every member of the Constitution, that the British Government knows no other foundation, and acknowledges no other principle for its title and demands, but the compact of rational obedience and conditional submission. I take my line from the Address and Petition of the Corporation of the City of London, lately presented to the Throne. That Address will remain to the latest times a perpetual testimony and memorial of their prudence and diligence to direct, as far as their influence can extend, the movements of Government by justice and reason, and of their earnestness and zeal for the support of good order and just obedience, as long as Government will abide by their part of the compact. No people can be bound to surrender their rights and liberties in return for protection. When any Government make such demands, the compact is void. These are bold and manly principles. They are the pillars of our own Constitution. That great and respectable Corporation, the City of London, have taken a decided part worthy of themselves. They earnestly implore his Majesty, through the means of Parliament, to assure the Colonies that they shall be protected in their rights and liberties, and upon that ground to demand, in return, rational and contented obedience. Let the justice of the Legislature stand vindicated in the contest, and they offer their hands and hearts to support you. In a confederate State, where there are dependencies and subordinations, the term of a supreme legislature has a very intelligible import; but an arbitrary legislature is as totally repugnant to every principle of sound and just government, as an arbitrary Monarch. Reason is the law to legislatures, and the measure of obedience to subjects.

Whatever be the event of this unhappy civil contest, the City of London, as a very important member of the state, have discharged their duty with prudence and firmness. They have not presumed to dictate the terms; but, upon the most liberal principles, they have suggested that the fundamentals of this Government, which are taxation by Representatives, and security of Charters, ought, in the spirit of justice, to be confirmed to all parts of the British dominions. I think that it now remains with us, in conjunction with the other branches of the legislature, to fulfil our parts. If we neglect this step of justice now, the future national reproach will lie at our door. The answer which the City of London have received, too plainly imports unconditional submission, or no peace. Whoever has advised that answer, and still takes upon himself to persist inflexibly in these principles, has, in my opinion, taken a very desperate responsibility upon himself.

If Ministers have no regard for the honour and justice of their country, let them at least pause for one moment; and before they cut off all retreat, let them reflect upon their present enterprise and future responsibility. And first, I apply myself to the wisdom of the House upon the arguments of prudence, which the present state of the nation, as


I have endeavoured to lay it before you, seems to me irresistibly to suggest; I then address myself to the noble Lord at the head of the American Department, to remind him of his own responsibility, and I make my tender to him of the proposition of conditional terms, as arising out of the Address of the City of London to the King. I have drawn up the sentiments of that Address, in the form of an Address from the House to the King, which I confess appears to me most indispensable, and which, with great deference, but most earnestly, I recommend to the consideration of the House. The substance of the proposition is, to put the American Colonies upon the same footing of taxation that Ireland is, and always has been; and to give them security for Charters. If you do not meditate to introduce the same innovations into the mode of taxation in Ireland, which you have attempted in America, then put them both upon the same ground, and let them be mutually a security to each other. The example of Ireland is entirely pertinent to the case of the Colonies; your Provinces in America have always hitherto been upon the same footing in taxation as Ireland. Let them be simply replaced as they were, and then the principles and uniformity of your Provincial Governments in all your dependencies will be maintained. Your Colonies, in their late humble and dutiful Petition to the King, have implicitly submitted themselves to his wisdom and gracious interposition, to prescribe the terms of peace. Then let these terms precede your acts of vengeance. Assure to them the security of their rights and liberties, and then make your demand of submission.

One word, sir, of apology for myself. My situation is at present distressing to me. I have so often troubled you upon the subject of America, which I confess engrosses all my thoughts, that I do not know how to trespass upon your patience any further, especially at the conclusion of an intricate debate upon the state of the nation. But having set before you on the one side the very alarming though real state of things, if I do not, on the other hand, offer to you the alternative by which you may avert the calamities impending upon this country, my work will be incomplete, and the ultimate object of it will be frustrated. Let me entreat you to open the door to reconciliation and peace, and not to drive them from you while they are yet within your reach. With the permission of the House, I will read to you an Address to the King, for specifick terms of peace to be offered to the Colonies. I will importune you no farther, but to recommend it to the serious consideration of the House — I wish I might add to their adoption — that it might receive the weight of their sanction and authority before it be too late. It is as follows:

"That an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, setting forth, that the House, having taken into their serious consideration the very alarming state of the present disturbances in America, and the ruinous prospect thence arising to the commerce and publick credit of these kingdoms, and to the safety of all his Majesty' s dominions, together with the enormous debt, deficiencies, and boundless expense which every day and hour accumulate out of measure, in this destructive and exhausting civil war; and that his Majesty' s faithful Commons, being most anxious to provide for the peace, prosperity, and security of all his Majesty' s dominions, and to save the effusion of blood; and thinking the most probable means of restoring peace to his Majesty' s subjects in America, and of securing their constitutional dependance on Great Britain, would be to empower his Commissioner or Commissioners to offer to them some specifick line of rational obedience instead of unconditional submission, and to give them assurance of redress to all their reasonable complaints of grievances, together with a full security of all their constitutional rights, — beg leave to recommend to his Majesty to give instruction to his Commissioner or Commissioners to issue a Proclamation in his Majesty' s name, declaring that his Majesty' s Colonies in America shall be put upon the same footing of giving and granting their own money by their own Representatives, as his Majesty' s subjects in Ireland are, and always have been; and that all Charters which have at any time been granted to any of the said Colonies by his Majesty, or any of his predecessors, shall be confirmed and secured to them; and to assure his Majesty that this House will give his Majesty every possible assistance to put such assurances into full effect and execution."


A negative was put upon all the motions, except the last, (distinguished by Italicks in page 350,) upon which Lord North put the previous question. There was no division.