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Thomas Gordon, A Discourse of Standing Armies; shewing the Folly, Uselessness, and Danger of Standing Armies in Great Britain 
A Discourse of Standing Armies; shewing the Folly, Uselessness, and Danger of Standing Armies in Great Britain, 3rd edition (London: T. Warner, 1722).
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A DISCOURSE OF Standing Armies, &c.
WHEN, in King William’s Reign, the Question was in Debate, Whether England should be rul’d by Standing Armies? the Argument commonly us’d by some who had the Presumption to call themselves Whigs, and own’d in the Ballancing Letter, suppos’d to be written by one who gave the Word to all the rest, was, That all Governments must have their Periods one Time or other, and when that Time came, all Endeavours to preserve Liberty were fruitless; and shrewd Hints were given in that Letter, that England was reduced to such a Condition; that our Corruptions were so great, and the Dissatisfaction of the People was so general, that the publick Safety could not be preserved, but by encreasing the Power of the Crown: And this Argument was us’d by those shameless Men, who had caus’d all that Corruption, and all that Dissatisfaction.
But that Gentleman and his Followers were soon taught to speak other Language: They were remov’d from the Capacity of perplexing publick Affairs any more: The Nation shew’d a Spirit that would not submit to Slavery; and their unhappy and betray’d Master, from being the most popular Prince who ever sat upon the English Throne, became, through the Treachery of his Servants, suspected by many of his best Subjects, and was render’d unable, by their Jealousies, to defend himself and them; and so considerable a Faction was form’d against his Administration, that no good Man can reflect without Concern and Horror, on the Difficulties which that Great and Good King was reduced to grapple with, during the Remainder of his troublesome Reign.
I have lately met with some Creatures and Tools of Power, who speak the same Language now: They tell us, that Matters are come to that Pass, that we must either receive the Pretender, or keep him out with Bribes and Standing Armies: That the Nation is so corrupt, that there is no governing it by any other Means: And, in short, that we must submit to this great Evil, to prevent a greater; as if any Mischief could be more terrible than the highest and most terrible of all Mischiefs, universal Corruption, and a military Government. It is indeed impossible for the Subtilty of Traitors, the Malice of Devils, or for the Cunning and Cruelty of our most implacable Enemies, to suggest stronger Motives for the undermining and Overthrow of our excellent Establishment, which is built upon the Destruction of Tyranny, and can stand upon no other Bottom. It is Madness in Extremity, to hope that a Government founded upon Liberty, and the free Choice of the Assertors of it, can be supported by other Principles; and whoever would maintain it by contrary ones, intends to blow it up, let him alledge what he will. This gives me every Day new Reasons to believe what I have long suspected; for, if ever a Question should arise, Whether a Nation shall submit to certain Ruin, or struggle for a Remedy? these Gentlemen well know which Side they will chuse, and certainly intend that which they must chuse.
I am willing to think, that these impotent Babblers speak not the Sense of their Superiors, but would make servile Court to them from Topicks which they abhor. Their Superiors must know, that it is Raving and Phrenzy to affirm, that a free People can be long govern’d by impotent Terrors; that Millions will consent to be ruin’d by the Corruptions of a few; or that those few will join in their Ruine any longer than the Corruption lasts: That every Day new and greater Demands will rise upon the Corruptors; that no Revenue, how great soever, will feed the Voraciousness of the Corrupted; and that every Disappointment will make them turn upon the Oppressors of their Country, and fall into its true Interest and their own: That there is no Way in Nature to preserve a Revolution in Government, but by making the People easy under it, and shewing them their Interest in it; and that Corruption, Bribery, and Terrors, will make no lasting Friends, but infinite and implacable Enemies; and that the best Security of a Prince amongst a free People, is the Affections of his People, which he can always gain by making their Interest his own, and by shewing that all his Views tend to their Good. They will then, as they love themselves, love him, and defend him who defends them. Upon this faithful Basis, his Safety will be better established, than upon the ambitious and variable Leaders of a few Legions, who may be corrupted, disoblig’d, or surpriz’d, and often have been so; and hence great Revolutions have been brought about, and great Nations undone, only by the Revolt of single Regiments.
Shew a Nation their Interest, and they will certainly fall into it: A whole People can have no Ambition but to be govern’d justly; and when they are so, the Intrigues and Dissatisfactions of Particulars will fall upon their own Heads. What has any of our former Courts ever got by Corruption, but to disaffect the People, and weaken themselves? Let us now think of other Methods, if it is only for the Sake of the Experiment. The Ways of Corruption have been tried long enough in past Administrations: Let us try in this what publick Honesty will do; and not condemn it, before we have fully prov’d it, and found it ineffectual; and it will be Time enough to try other Methods, when this fails.
That we must either receive the Pretender, or keep up great Armies to keep him out, is frightful and unnatural Language to English Ears: It is an odd Way of dealing with us, that of offering us, or forcing upon us, an Alternative, where the Side which they would recommend, is full as formidable as the Side from which they would terrify us. If we are to be govern’d by Armies, it is all one to us, whether they be Protestant or Popish Armies; the Distinction is ridiculous, like that between a good and a bad Tyranny: We see, in Effect, that it is the Power and Arms of a Country, that forms and directs the Religion of a Country; and I have before shewn, that true Religion cannot subsist, where true Liberty does not. It was chiefly, if not wholly King James’s usurp’d Power, and his many Forces, and not his being a Papist, that render’d him dreadful to his People. Military Governments are all alike; nor does the Liberty and Property of the Subject fare a bit the better or the worse, for the Faith and Opinion of the Soldiery. Nor does an Arbitary Protestant Prince use his People better than an Arbitrary Popish Prince; and we have seen both Sorts of them changing the Religion of their Country, according to their Lust.
They are therefore stupid Politicians, who would derive Advantages from a Distinction which is manifestly without a Difference: It is like, however, that they may improve in their Subtilties, and come, in time, to distinguish between corrupt Corruption, and uncorrupt Corruption, between a good ill Administration, and an ill good Administration, between oppressive Oppression, and unoppressive Oppression, and between French Dragooning and English Dragooning; for there is scarce any other new Pitch of Nonsense and Contradiction left to such Men in their Reasonings upon Publick Affairs, and in the Part they act in them.
Of a Piece with the rest, is the stupid Cunning of some Sort of Statesmen, and practis’d by most Foreign Courts, to blame the poor People for the Misery they bring upon them. They say they are extremely corrupt, and so keep them starving and enslav’d by Way of Protection. They corrupt them by all manner of Ways and Inventions, and then reproach them for being corrupt. A whole Nation cannot be bribed, and if its Representatives are, it is not the Fault, but the Misfortune of the Nation: And if the Corrupt save themselves by corrupting others; the People who suffer by the Corruptions of both, are to be pittied, and not abus’d. Nothing can be more shameless and provoking, than to bring a Nation by execrable Frauds and Extortions, against its daily Protestations and Remonstrances, into a miserable pass, and then father all those Villanies upon the People who would have gladly hang’d the Authors of them. At Rome, the whole People could be entertain’d, feasted, and bribed; but it is not so elsewhere, where the People are too numerous, and too far spread, to be debauch’d, cajol’d, and purchas’d; and if any of their Leaders are, it is without the People’s Consent.
There is scarce such a Thing under the Sun as a corrupt People, where the Government is uncorrupt: It is that, and that alone, which makes them so; and to calumniate them for what they do not seek, but suffer by, is as great Impudence as it would be, to knock a Man down, and then rail at him for hurting himself. In what Instances do the People of any Country in the World throw away their Money by Millions, unless by trusting it to those who do so? Where do the People send great Fleets, at a great Charge, to be frozen up in one Climate, or to be eaten out by Worms in another, unless for their Trade and Advantage? Where do the People enter into mad Wars against their Interest, or, after victorious ones, make Peace, without stipulating for one new Advantage for themselves; but, on the contrary, pay the Enemy for having beaten them? Where do the People plant Colonies or purchase Provinces, at a vast Expence, without reaping, or expecting to reap, one Farthing from them, and yet still defend them at a further Expence? Where do the People make distracted Bargains, to get imaginary Millions, and after having lost by such Bargains almost all the real Millions they had, yet give more Millions to get rid of them? What wise or dutiful People consents to be without the Influence of the Presence of their Prince, and of his Vertues, or of those of his Family, who are to come after him? No—these Things are never done by any People; but, wherever they are done, they are done without their Consent; and yet all these Things have been done in former Ages, and in neighbouring Kingdoms.
For such guilty and corrupt Men, therefore, to charge the People with Corruption, whom either they have corrupted, or cannot corrupt, and, having brought great Misery upon them, to threaten them with more; is, in effect, to tell them plainly, “Gentlemen, we have us’d you very ill, for which you who are innocent of it, are to blame; we therefore find it necessary, for your Good, to use you no better, or rather worse: And if you will not accept of this our Kindness, which, however, we will force upon you, if we can, we will give you up into the terrible Hands of raw Head and bloody Bones; who, being your Enemy, may do you as much Mischief as we who are your Friends, have done you.” I appeal to common Sense, Whether this be not the Sum of such Threats and Reasonings in their native Colours.
The Partizans of Oliver Cromwell, when he was meditating Tyranny over the Three Nations, gave out, that it was the only Expedient to ballance Factions, and to keep out Charles Stuart; and so they did worse Things to keep him out, than he could have done if they had let him in. And, after that King’s Restoration, when there was an Attempt made to make him absolute, by enabling him to raise Money without Parliament; an Attempt which every Courtier, except Lord Clarendon, came into; it was alledg’d to be the only Expedient to keep the Nation from falling back into a Commonwealth; as if any Commonwealth upon Earth, was not better than any Absolute Monarchy. His Courtiers foresaw, that by their mad and extravagant Measures, they should make the Nation mad, and were willing to save themselves by the final Destruction of the Nation; they therefore employ’d their Creatures to whisper abroad stupid and villanous Reasons why People should be content to be finally undone, lest something not near so bad, should befall them.
Those who have, by abusing a Nation, forfeited its Affections, will never be for trusting a People, who, they know, do justly detest them; but having procur’d their Aversion and Enmity, will be for fortifying themselves against it by all proper Ways; and the Ways of Corruption, Depredation, and Force, being the only proper ones, they will not fail to be practis’d; and those who practise them, when they can no longer deny them, will be finding Reasons to justify them; and, because they dare not avow the true Reasons, they must find such false ones as are most likely to amuse and terrify: And hence so much Nonsense and Improbability utter’d in that Reign, and sometimes since, to vindicate guilty Men, and vilify an innocent People, who were so extravagantly fond of that Prince, that their Liberties were almost gone, before they would believe them in Danger.
It is as certain, that King James II, wanted no Army to help him to preserve the Constitution, nor to reconcile the People to their own Interest: But, as he intended to invade and destroy both, nothing but Corruption and a Standing Army could enable him to do it; and, thank God, even his Army fail’d him, when he brought in Irish Troops to help them. This therefore was his true Design; but his Pretences were very different: He pleaded the Necessity of his Affairs, nay, of publick Affairs, and of keeping up a good Standing Force to preserve his Kingdoms forsooth from Insults at home and from abroad. This was the Bait; but his People, who had no longer any Faith in him, and to whom the Hook appear’d threatening and bare, would not believe him, nor swallow it; and if they were jealous of him, restless under him, and ready to rise against him, he gave them sufficient Cause. He was under no Hardship nor Necessity but what he created to himself, nor did his People withdraw their Affections from him, till he had withdrawn his Right to those Affections. Those who have us’d you ill, will never forgive you; and it is no new Thing wantonly to make an Enemy, and then to calumniate and destroy him for being so.
When People, through continual ill Usage, grow weary of their present ill Condition, they will be so far from being frighten’d with a Change, that they will wish for one; and instead of terrifying them, by threatning them with one, you do but please them, even in Instances where they have no Reason to be pleas’d. Make them happy, and they will dread any Change; but while they are ill us’d, they will not fear the worst. The Authors of publick Misery and Plunder, may seek their only Safety in general Desolation; but, to the People, nothing can be worse than Ruin, from what Hand soever it comes: A Protestant Musket kills as sure as a Popish one; and an Oppressor is an Oppressor, to whatever Church he belongs: The Sword and the Gun are of every Church, and so are the Instruments of Oppression. The late Directors were all stanch Protestants; and Cromwell had a violent Aversion to Popery.
We are, doubtless, under great Necessities in our present Circumstances; but to increase them, in order to cure them, would be a preposterous Remedy, worthy only of them who brought them upon us; and who, if they had common Shame in them, would conceal, as far as they could, under Silence, the heavy Evils, which, tho’ they lie upon every Man’s Shoulders, yet lie only at the Doors of a few. The Plea of Necessity, if it can be taken, will justify any Mischief, and the worst Mischiefs. Private Necessity makes Men Thieves and Robbers; but publick Necessity requires that Robbers of all Sizes should be hang’d. Publick Necessity therefore, and the Necessity of such pedant Politicians, are different and opposite Things. There is no Doubt, but Men guilty of great Crimes, would be glad of an enormous Power to protect them in the greatest; and then tell us there is a Necessity for it. Those against whom Justice is arm’d, will ever talk thus, and ever think it necessary to disarm her. But whatever sincere Services they may mean to themselves by it, they can mean none to his Majesty, who would be undone with his Subjects, by such treacherous and ruinous Services: And therefore it is fit that Mankind should know, and they themselves should know, that his Majesty can and will be defended against them and their Pretender, without Standing Armies, which wou’d make him formidable only to his People, and contemptible to his Foes, who take justly the Measure of his Power from his Credit with his Subjects.
But I shall consider what present Occasion there is of keeping up more Troops than the usual Guards and Garrisons, and shall a little further animadvert upon the Arts and frivolous Pretences made Use of, in former Reigns, to reduce this Government to the Condition and Model of the pretended jure Divino-Monarchies, where Millions must be miserable and undone, to make one and a few of his Creatures lawless, rampant, and unsafe.
It is certain, that Liberty is never so much in danger, as upon a Deliverance from Slavery. The remaining Dread of the Mischiefs escaped, generally drives, or decoys Men into the same or greater; for then the Passions and Expectations of some, run high; and the Fears of others make them submit to any Misfortunes to avoid an Evil that is over; and both Sorts conour in giving to a Deliverer all that they are delivered from: In the Transports of a Restoration, or Victory, or upon a Plot discover’d, or a Rebellion quell’d, nothing is thought too much for the Benefactor, nor any Power too great to be left to his Discretion, tho’ there can never be less Reason for giving it to him than at those Times; because, for the most part, the Danger is past, his Enemies are defeated and intimidated, and consequently that is a proper Juncture for the People to settle themselves, and secure their Liberties, since no one is likely to disturb them in doing so.
However, I confess, that Custom, from Time immemorial, is against me, and the same Custom has made most of Mankind Slaves: Agathocles saved the Syracusians, and afterwards destroy’d them. Pisistratus pretending to be wounded for protecting the People, prevail’d with them to allow him a Guard for the Defence of his Person, and by the Help of that Guard usurp’d the Sovereignty: Cæsar and Marius deliver’d the Commons of Rome from the Tyranny of the Nobles, and made themselves Masters of both Commons and Nobles: Sylla deliver’d the Senate from the Insolence of the People, and did them more Mischief than the Rabble could have done in a Thousand Years: Gustavus Ericson delivered the Swedes from the Oppression of the Danes, and made large Steps towards enslaving them himself: The Antwerpians call’d in the Duke of Allençon, to defend them against the Spaniards; but he was no sooner got, as he thought, in full Possession of their Town, but he fell upon them himself with the Forces which he brought for their Defence. But the Townsmen happen’d to be too many for him, and drove these their new Protectors home again: Which Disappointment, and just Disgrace, broke that good Duke’s Heart. Oliver Cromwell headed an Army which pretended to fight for Liberty, and by that Army became a bloody Tyrant; as I once saw a Hawk very generously rescue a Turtle Dove from the Persecution of two Crows, and then eat him up himself.
Almost all Men desire Power, and few lose any Opportunity to get it, and all who are like to suffer under it, ought to be strictly upon their Guard in such Conjunctures as are most likely to encrease, and make it uncontroulable. There are but two Ways in Nature to enslave a People, and continue that Slavery over them; the first is Superstition, and the last is Force: By the one, we are perswaded that it is our Duty to be undone; and the other undoes us whether we will or no. I take it, that we are pretty much out of Danger of the first, at present; and, I think, we cannot be too much upon our guard against the other; for, tho’ we have nothing to fear from the best Prince in the World, yet we have every thing to fear from those who would give him a Power inconsistent with Liberty, and with a Constitution which has lasted almost a Thousand Years without such a Power, which will never be ask’d with an Intention to make no Use of it.
The Nation was so mad, upon the Restoration of King Charles II. that they gave to him all that he ask’d, and more than he ask’d: They complemented him with a vast Revenue for Life, and almost with our Liberties and Religion too; and if unforeseen Accidents had not happen’d to prevent it, without doubt we had lost both; and if his Successor could have had a little Patience, and had used no Rogues but his old Rogues, he might have accomplished the Business, and Popery and Arbitrary Power had been Jure Divino at this Day; but he made too much haste to be at the End of his Journey; and his Priests were in too much haste to be on Horseback too, and so the Beast grew skittish, and overthrew them both.
Then a new Set of Deliverers arose, who had saved us from King James’s Army, and would have given us a bigger in the Room of it, and some of them Foreigners; and told us that the King longed for them, and it was a Pity that so good a Prince should lose his Longing, and miscarry; but he did lose it, and miscarried no otherwise than by losing a great Part of the Confidence which many of his best Subjects before had in his Moderation; which Loss, made the Remainder of his Reign uneasy to him, and to every good Man who saw it: I remember, all Men then declared against a Standing Army, and the Courtiers amongst the rest, who were only for a Land-Force, to be kept up no longer than till the King of France disbanded his, and till the Kingdom was setled, and the People better satisfy’d with the Administration; and then there was nothing left to do, in order to perpetuate them, but to take care that the People should never be satisfy’d: An Art often practis’d with an amazing Success.
The Reasons then given for keeping up an Army were, the great Number of Jacobites, the Disaffection of the Clergy and Universities, the Power and Enmity of France, and the Necessity of preserving so excellent a Body of Troops to maintain the Treaty of Partition, which they had newly and wisely made: But notwithstanding the Army was disbanded; no Plot, Conspiracy, or Rebellion, happen’d by their disbanding: The Partition Treaty was broke; a new Army was rais’d, which won Ten times as many Victories as the former, and Europe, at last, is settled upon a much better Foot than it would have been by the Partition Treaty. The Emperor is as strong as he ought to be. The Dutch have a good Barrier. Another Power is rais’d in Europe to keep the Ballance even, which neither can nor will be formidable to us without our own Fault; France is undone, and the Regent must be our Friend, and have Dependance upon our Protection; so that some few of these Reasons are to do now, what altogether could not do then, tho’ we are not the tenth Part so well able to maintain them as we were then.
I should be glad to know in what Situation of our Affairs it can be safe, to reduce our Troops to the usual Guards and Garrisons, if it cannot be done now: There is no Power in Europe considerable enough to threaten us, who can have any Motives to do so, if we pursue the old Maxims and natural Interest of Great Britain; which is, To meddle no farther with Foreign Squabbles,than to keep the Ballance even between France and Spain: And this is less necessary too for us to do now, than formerly; because the Emperor and Holland are able to do it, and must and will do it without us, or at least with but little of our Assistance; but if we unnecessarily engage against the Interests of either, we must thank ourselves, if they endeavour to prevent the Effects of it, by finding us Work at Home.
When the Army was disbanded in King William’s Reign, a Prince was in Being who was personally known to many of his former Subjects, and had obliged great Numbers of them; who was supported by one of the most powerful Monarchs in the World, that had won numerous Victories, and had almost always defeated his Enemies, and who still preserved his Power and his Animosity: His pretended Son was then an Infant, and for any Thing that then appear’d, might have proved an active and a dangerous Enemy, and it was to be fear’d, that his Tutors might have educated him a half Protestant, or at least have taught him to have disguis’d his true Religion: At that Time, the Revolution, and Revolution-Principles, were in their Infancy; and most of the Bishops and dignify’d Clergy, as well as many others in Employment, owed their Preferments and Principles to the abdicated Family, and the Reverse of this, is our Case now.
France has been torn to Pieces by numerous Defeats, its People and Manufactures destroy’d by War, Famine, the Plague, and their Missisippi Company; and they are so divided at Home, that they will find enough to do to save themselves without troubling their Neighbours, and especially a Neighbour from whom the governing Powers there, hope for Protection. The Prince who pretended to the Thrones of these Kingdoms is dead, and he who calls himself his Heir is a bigotted Papist; and has given but little Cause to fear any Thing from his Abilities or his Prowess. The Principles of Liberty are now well understood, and few People in this Age, are Romantick enough to venture their Lives and Estates for the personal Interests of one they know nothing of, or nothing to his Advantage; and we ought to take Care that they shall not find their own Interest in doing it; and, I conceive, nothing is necessary to effect this, but to resolve upon it. Almost all the dignified Clergy, and all the Civil and Military Officers in the Kingdom, owe their Preferments to the Revolution, and are as loyal to his Majesty as he himself can wish. A very great Part of the Property of the Kingdom stands upon the same Bottom with the Revolution. Every Day’s Experience, shews us how devoted the Nobility are to gratify their King’s just Desires and Inclinations; and nothing can be more certain, than that the present House of Commons, are most dutifully and affectionately inclin’d to the true Interest of the Crown, and to the Principles to which his Majesty owes it. And besides all this Security, a new Conspiracy has been discovered and defeated; which gives full Occasion and Opportunity to prevent any such Attempts for the future; which can never be done, but by punishing the present Conspirators, and giving no Provocation to new ones; in both which, I hope, we shall have the hearty Concurrence of those who have the Honour to be employ’d by his Majesty; by which they will shew, that they are as zealous to prevent the Necessity of Standing Armies, as I doubt not but the Parliament will be.
I presume, no Man will be audacious enough to propose, that we should make a Standing Army Part of our Constitution; and, if not, When can we reduce them to a competent Number better than at this Time? Shall we wait till France has recover’d its present Difficulties; till it’s King is grown to full Age and Ripeness of Judgment; till he has dissipated all Factions and Discontents at Home, and is fallen into the natural Interests of his Kingdom, or perhaps aspires to Empire again? Or shall we wait till the Emperor, and King of Spain, have divided the Bear’s Skin, and possibly become good Friends, as their Predecessors have been for the greatest Part of Two Centuries, and perhaps cement that Friendship, by uniting for the common Interests of their Religion? Or till Madam Sobiesky’s Heir is of Age, who may have Wit enough to think, that the Popish Religion is dearly bought at the Price of Three Kingdoms? Or are we never to Disband, till Europe is settled according to some modern Schemes? Or till there are no Malecontents in England, and no People out of Employments who desire to be in them.
’Tis certain, that all Parts of Europe which are enslaved, have been enslaved by Armies, and ’tis absolutely impossible, that any Nation which keeps them amongst themselves, can long preserve their Liberties; nor can any Nation perfectly lose their Liberties, who are without such Guests: And yet, though all Men see this, and at Times confess it, yet all have join’d, in their Turns, to bring this heavy Evil upon themselves and their Country. Charles the Second formed his Guards into a little Army, and his Successor encreased them to three or four Times their Number; and without doubt these Kingdoms had been enslaved, if known Events had not prevented it. We had no sooner escaped these Dangers, but King William’s Ministry form’d Designs for an Army again, and neglected Ireland (which might have been reduced by a Message) till the Enemy was so strong, that a great Army was necessary to recover it; and when all was done abroad, that an Army was wanted for, they thought it convenient to find some Employment for them at Home. However, the Nation happened not to be of their Mind, and disbanded the greatest Part of them, without finding any of these Dangers they were threatned with from their Disbanding. A new Army was raised again, when it became necessary, and disbanded again, when there was no more Need of them; and his present Majesty came peaceably to his Crowns, by the Laws alone, notwithstanding all the Endeavours to keep him out, by long Measures concerted to that Purpose.
It could not be expected from the Nature of human Affairs, that those who had formed a Design for restoring the Pretender, had taken such large Steps towards it, and were sure to be supported in it by so powerful an Assistance as France was then capable of giving, should immediately lose Sight of so agreeable a Prospect of Wealth and Power, as they had before enjoyed in Imagination; yet it seems very plain to me, that all the Disturbance which afterwards happen’d, might have been prevented by a few timely Remedies; and when at last it was defeated with a vast Charge and Hazard, we had the Means in our Hands of rooting out all Seeds of Faction and future Rebellions, without doing any thing to provoke them; and ’tis certain, his Majesty was ready to do every thing on his Part to that Purpose, which others over and over promised us; and what they have done, besides obliging the Nation with a Septennial Parliament, encreasing the publick Debts a great many Millions, and by the South-Sea Project paying them off, I leave to themselves to declare.
However, I confess, an Army at last became necessary, and an Army was raised time enough to beat all who opposed it: Some of them have been knock’d on Head, many carried in Triumph, some hang’d, and others confiscated, as they well deserved; and, I presume, the Nation would scarce have been in the Humour to have kept up an Army to fight their Ghosts, if a terrible Invasion had not threatned us from Sweden, which however, was at last frightned into a Fleet of Colliers, or naval Stores, indeed I have forgot which. This Danger being over, another succeeded, and had like to have stole upon us from Cales, notwithstanding all the Intelligence we could possibly get from Gibraltar, which lyes just by it; and this shews, by the way, the little Use of that Place: But we have miraculously escaped that Danger too; the greatest Part of their Fleet was dispersed in a Storm, and our Troops have actually defeated in the Highlands some Hundreds of the Enemy, before many People would believe they were there. Since this, we have been in great Fear of the Czar; and last Year, one Reason given by many for continuing the Army was, to preserve us against the Plague.
But now the King of Sweden is dead, the Czar is gone a Sophi-hunting, the Plague is ceased, and the King of Spain’s best Troops have taken up their Quarters in Italy, where if I guess right, they will have Employment enough, and what are we to keep up the Army now to do, unless to keep out the Small Pox? Oh! but there is a better Reason than that, namely, a Plot is discovered, and we can’t find out yet all who are concerned in it, but we have pretty good Assurance, that all the Jacobites are for the Pretender, and therefore we ought to keep in Readiness a great Number of Troops (who are to sleep on Horseback, or lye in their Jack-Boots) which may be sufficient to beat them all together, if they had a Twelvemonth’s Time given them to beat up for Volunteers, to buy Horses and Arms, to form themselves into Regiments, and exercise them; lest, instead of lurking in Corners, and prating in Taverns, and at Cock-Matches, they should surprize Ten or Twelve Thousand armed Men in their Quarters: I dare appeal to any unprejudiced Person, whether this is not the Sum of some Mens Reasonings upon this Subject?
But I desire to know of these sagacious Gentlemen, in what Respect shall we be in a worse State of Defence than we are now, if the Army was reduced to the same Number as in King William’s Time, and in the latter End of the Queen’s Reign, and that it consisted of the same Proportion of Horse and Foot, that every Regiment had its compleat Number of Troops and Companies, and every Troop and Company had its Complement of private Men? ’Tis certain, upon any sudden Exigency, his Majesty would have as many Men at command as he has now, and, I presume, more common Soldiers, who are most difficulty to be got upon such Occasions; for Officers will never be wanting, and all that are now regimented will be in Half-pay, and ready at Call to beat up and raise new Regiments, as fast as the others could be filled up, and they may change any of the old Men into them, which reduces it to the same Thing: By this we shall save the Charge of double or treble Officering our Troops, and the Terror of keeping up the Corpse of Thirty or Forty Thousand Men, though they are called only Thirteen or Fourteen; and sure it is high Time to save all which can be saved, and, by removing all Causes of Jealousy, to unite all, who for the Cause of Liberty, are zealous for the present Establishment, in order to oppose effectually those who would destroy it.
I will suppose, for once, what I will not grant, that those call’d Whiggs are the only Men amongst us who are heartily attached to his Majesty’s Interest; for I believe the greatest Part of the Tories, and the Clergy too; would tremble at the Thought of Popery and Arbitrary Power; which must come in with the Pretender: But taking it to be otherwise, ’tis certain that the Body of the Whiggs, and indeed I may say almost all except the Possessors and Candidates for Employments or Pensions, have as terrible Apprehensions of a Standing Army, as the Tories themselves; and dare any Man lay his Hand upon his Heart and say, that his Majesty will find greater Security in a few Thousand more Men already regimented, than in the Steady Affections of so many Hundred Thousands who will be always ready to be regimented: When the People are easy and satisfy’d, the whole Kingdom is his Army; and King James found what Dependance there was upon his Troops, when his People deserted him. Would not any wise and honest Minister desire, during his Administration, that the Publick Affairs should run glibly, and find the hearty Concurrence of the States of the Kingdom, rather than to carry their Measures by perpetual Struggles and Entrigues, to waste the Civil List by constant and needless Pensions and Gratuities, be always asking for new Supplies, and rend’ring themselves, and all who assist them, odious to their Country-Men?
In short, there can be but two Ways in Nature to govern a Nation, one is by their own Consent, and the other by Force: One gains their Hearts, and the other holds their Hands: The first is always chosen by those who design to govern the People for the People’s Interest, and the other by those who design to oppress them for their own; for whoever desires only to protect them, will covet no useless Power to injure them: There is no fear of a People’s acting against their own Interest, when they know what it is, and when, through ill Conduct or unfortunate Accidents, they become dissatisfied with their present Condition, the only effectual Way to avoid the threatning Evil, is to remove their Grievances.
When Charles Duke of Burgundy, with most of the Princes of France, at the Head of an Hundred Thousand Men, took up Arms against Lewis the Eleventh, that Prince sent an Embassy to Sforza Duke of Milan, desiring that he would lend him some of his Veteran Troops; and the Duke returned him for Answer, That he could not be content to have them cut to Pieces, (as they would assuredly have been) but told him at the same time, That he would send him some Advice which would be worth Ten times as many Troops as he had; namely, that he should give Satisfaction to the Princes, and then they would disperse of Course; and the King improv’d so well upon the Advice, that he diverted the Storm, by giving but little Satisfaction to the Princes, and none at all to those who follow’d them: The Body of the People in all Countries are so desirous to live in quiet, that a few good Words, and a little good Usage from their Governors, will at any Time pacific them, and make them very often turn upon those Benefactors, who by their Pains, Expence, and Hazard, have obtained those Advantages for them; and indeed, when they are not outragiously oppress’d and starved, are almost as ready to part with their Liberties, as others are to ask for them.
By what I have before said, I would not be understood, to declare absolutely against continuing our present Forces, or increasing them, if the Importance of the Occasion requires either; and the Evils threaten’d, are not yet dissipated: But I could wish that, if such an Occasion appears, those who think them at this Time necessary, would declare effectually, and in the fullest Manner, that they design to keep them no longer than during the present Emergency; and that, when it is over, they will be as ready to break them, as I believe the Nation will be to give them, when just Reasons offer themselves for doing so.[Back to Table of Contents]
A LIST Of the Present Standing Forces.
In all 40 Regiments.
N. B. The above List is imperfect, there being more Forces upon the British Establishment than are here specify’d.