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1751. Proceedings of the PolitiCAL CLUB, &'c. 13 our doors in a manner open, yet have a little more regard to their every one knows, that in both houses, character for honour as well as courthe doors are shut, and regularly age, than is necessary in common every stranger excluded, when we life ; and when the character of an come to argue and determine the informer is tackd to perjury, they case or point among ourselves. muit have a very great regard to the
Now, Sir, with regard to the A oath they have taken. This will be mischiefs that may be in a great the case with regard to the oath now measure avoided by the oath of se- under consideration : If any officer crecy proposed, I muft first observe, should notwithstanding his oath, that in human affairs it is impossible disclose to the commander in chief to avoid every inconvenience, every the vote or opinion of any other èvil: All that human wisdom can officer upon a court-martial, he do, is to chuse the least evil, and B would be looked on not only as a not to expose ourselves to a great perjured wretch, but also as an ininconvenience for the sake of pre. former : No gentleman would then venting a small one. After having keep him company : No officer premised this, I shall without hesita- would roll with him ; by which tion agree,
that the judges of every means he must necessarily be drove court ought to be made as indepen- out of the army. Therefore it is dent as possible. With regard to C evident, that officers not only may, our common-law judges, we have, but will depend upon their vote or fince the happy revolution, effected opinion being kept secret from the this as much, I believe, as the na- commander in chief, as well as ture of things will admit. But with every one else, and consequently regard to the judges upon a court- will not be so much under his influ. martial, it is imposible, it would be ence, with regard to any vote or absolutely inconlistent with the very Dopinion they may give in a courtnature of military service, to render martial, as they were before this rethem independent of the commander gulation was introduced. in chief ; therefore we have realon As to the other mischief proposed to apprehend, that the vote or opi. to be prevented by this oath, which nion of gentlemen in a court-mar- is that of the heart burnings and anitial may be directed by the influence mofities raised among officers, when of the commander in chief, when E their way of voting at courts-martial he resolves to make use of his in- is known, the Hon. gentleman milfluence for that purpose. How is took, or forgot to mention the worst this to be prevented ? No way I can consequence of these heart-burnings think of, but by preventing its be- and animofities. It is not, Sir, the ing known how every particular personal danger to which officers may meinber voted ; and ( with any be thereby exposed, but it is the gentleman could suggest a more ef. F prejudice it may be of to the service ; tectual method than that of an oath for when there is not a cordial friendof secrecy.
fhip among the officers employed in I am not at all surprized, Sir, the fame expedition, or upon the that gentlemen converfant in the same command, it often occafions a law should be of opinion, that man. miscarriage or defeat.
But even kind in general are regardless of an that of the personal danger which bath. The luggestion is too true, IG officers are exposed to, deserves believe, in all trials at common- our consideration, and ought to be law, and all disputes about private prevented as far as possible. The property ; but it is not so with the cale of officers giving their opinion in afcers of the army. They mult a court-martial, and that of a judge
14 PROCEEDINGS of the POLITICAL CLUB, &c. Jan. delivering his opinion from the bench, that case, is not the other house to is widely different. The latter may be deemed a court of justice ? Can never, probably, converse, or be in we then think, that any officer would company with any man he has of. be bound by this oath, as it now fended by that opinion : He fel. stands, not to discover the vote or
but in a court of justice, opinion of any member of that court. or amongst his intimate friends ; and A martial ? The case is to me so clear, consequently cannot be much ex- that I wonder any one should doubt posed to the resentment of the man of it ; and therefore I was surprised he has offended; but an officer to hear fuch an amendment proposed may happen the very next day by a gentleman, who was not only to be in company, perhaps fent bred to the law, but has a very ex. upon the same command, with the
tenlive knowledge of it. man against whom he voted at a B As to that of a breach of privilege, court martial ; and tho' such man Sir, I do not know how any court. may not seem to shew any resert- martial can be guilty of it ; for as ment against him on that account, they have nothing to do with prohe may pick a quarrel with him up- perty: As they take no cognisance of on some other account, and may any thing but crimes, and of no put an end to his life in a duel, with- crimes but such as are of a military out its being possible even for a court. C nature, their jurisdiction can never, martial to determine, that the duel I think, interfere with any known proceeded from a secret resentment privilege of parliament ; for I do of what the deceased had done at not know that we ever claimed any a court-martial; from whence we privilege with regard to crimes ; and fee, that it is impollible to prevent therefore any of our common-law the fatal consequences of such heart- courts, nay, even a single juttice of burnings and animosities among peace, may commit a member to ficers, any other way than by pre- prison, if he has committed a murventing a discovery of the vote or der, or been guilty of a riot; and this opinion of any officer upon a court- he may do without the least danger martial ; and for this purpose the of being deemed guilty of a breach oath row propoled, if it stands as it of privilege. For the same reason, now does, will, I hope, be effectaal. if a member of this house be an of
But now, Sir, with regard to the a. E ficer in the army, his general may mendment which the Hon. gentleman put him under arrest, or may order has been pleased to propole, I must him to be tried by a court-martial, think it quite unnecessary, because, without being guilty of any breach in my opinion, it is comprehended in of privilege ; for if it were otherthe amendment made by the com- wise, I am sure, it would not be mittee. Is not the high court of par- proper that any officer in the army liament a court of justice ? Surely, F hould ever be chosen a member of it is the highest court in this king- this house, or any member of this dom; and I hope, it will always be house preferred to be an officer in a court of justice. Suppose then that we should think it necessary to in- With regard to a breach of privi. quire into the conduct of a court- lege therefore, Sir, I think it is hardly martial, and should be of opinion, poflible for one to suggest a case of that they had been guilty of fome G that kind, where it might become high misdemeanor, for which they necessary for us to inquire into the ought to be punished : Our method vote or opinion of any particular of proceeding must be by impeach- member of a court martial ; and if ment before the other house ; and in any such extraordinary cafe thould
A spoke vall, endeavoured to thew
1751. PROCEEDINGS of the POLITICAL CLUB, &c. ever occur, we should then be acting sequently more impartial. If there in our judicative capicity, as much were any truth in this pretence, it as any court of justice is, when it in- would be a sort of impeachment of quires into and punishes a contempt the wisdom or uprightness of the of court; consequently, no officer two generals I have named ; and would by this oath be bound up from for this reason, if there were none disclosing to us the vote or opinion A other, I should be apt to doubt the of every member of a court-martial, truth of it ; but from many reasons that had by their sentence commit. I am convinced, that it will render ted a breach of the privileges of this our courts-martial more dependent house.
and more partial than they ever were heretofore.
I fhall readily C. Numifius food up next, and spoke in grant, that the officers of our army Subfiance tbus :
B have always hitherto had a very
great regard for their character both Mr. Presiden,
as to honour and courage, and while SIR,
they continue to have this regard, Hon. gentleman they will be independent and impar
tial in all their proceedings upon the necessity, or at least the utility, courts-martial, as long as those proof this modern oath of secrecy ; C ceedings are open and publickly and as I think it not only unneces- known ; becaule a man mutt forfeit fary and useless, but dangerous, I his character if he concurs in the hope I shall be indulged a few condemnation of an innocent man, words in justification of my opinion. or the acquittal of a rogue, at the As to the necessity of this oath, we the inftigation of a commander in have an experience of above fixty chief; but when such proceedings years for convincing us, that no such D are carried on in secret, and no man thing can be necessary for any good dare tell whether he concurred or purpose. I hope, I may fay, with- no, in such an unjust sentence, as no out derogating from the charac- one can preserve his character by opter of any of our present generals, posing it, every one will endeavour that king William, and the duke of to recommend himself to his general Marlborough, knew as well as any by joining in it, and to others every of them, what was necessary for the E one will pretend, or at least insinuate, good government of an army ; yet that he opposed the sentence. neither of them ever thought of in- I say, Sir, that when there is no troducing such an oath, and both of character to be got by oppofing, and them governed our armies as well, the infamy is and must be shared by and triumphed, at lealt, as often over every member of the court, all of our enemies, as any general of this them, or at least the majority, will age ever did. From the example, F always be ready to concur in any therefore, of thele two great gene- unjust sentence their general may sals, I think, I have some reason to please to require ; for there is noconclude, that no such oath ever thing more vain than to imagine, was, or ever can be necessary for that you can, by any oath, prevent the good government of the army. the general's coming at the know
But, Sir, I cannot but admire the ledge how every man vored in a ingenuity of the gentlemen, who G court-Inartial, which usually conhsts firit introduced, and now support of a large number of members, this oath, under the specious pre- when he lays himself out for obtainience, that it will render our courts. ing such a knowledge. He will al. martial more independent, and con- ways, in such a number, find an inN- ---, Efq;
16 PROCEEDINGS of the POLITICAL CLUB, &c. Jan.
to proceeding; and though there is
1751. PROCEEDINGS of the POLITICAL CLUB, &c. '17 it publickly known, that such an a&t comprehended both house of parliawas the effect of his influence. The ment, if the Hon. gentleman who other is, by rendering it impossible spoke laft intends that they should be that a man's way of voting thould to understood, why does he oppole be known to any one but himself ; adding the words proposed ? Does and as this is so often practised in abundance of the law break the this house, I cannot comprehend A law? Is it not necessary to add those how the Hon. gentleman came rot words, in order to prevent a doubt to think of it. When I say this, which might arise in the mind of an every gentleman muft suppose I officer, who is brought to be exmean, that all voting in courts-mar- amined before us? I shall not talk of tial should be by balloting. This an officer's tenderness of conscience ; would effectually conceal a man's way but, I hope, I may talk of his tenof voting from the general as well B derness of honour ; and a man who as the publick : But by the method is tender of his honour, will put his proposed you will conceal it from own sense on the words of every the publick, to whom it ought to be oath he takes, and will die rather known, and you will at the same than do or say any thing he in his time reveal it to the general, to own mind thinks contrary to that whom it ought never to be known. sense. Suppose then, that an officer
These, I say, Sir, are the only C hould tell us, that as he never fuptwo possible inethods for preventing poied this house to be a court of the too great influence of a general justice, he thought himself bound upon the judgment of a court-mar- by his oath not to disclose to us how tial. Which of these two is the any man voted at a court-martial of beft, I confess, I am at a loss to de. which he was a member. Could we termine ; for with Pliny I may ask, with any justice punith such an offQuotocuique eadem honestatis cura D cer for contumacy? And if all the fecretò, quæ palam , And I am officers of that court martial were of pretty apt to join in opinion with the same opinion, which they would him, that Multi famam, conscien- probably be, could we proceed in tiam pauci verentur. By the method any tuch inquiry ? At least we could we have chosen, we divest men of not distinguish who had voted for or all concern for their reputation, and against that unjust sentence ; and an we put it in the power of a tyranni- f inflamed house of commons might cal general, or minifter, to divest thus, very probably, be provoked to them of conscience. What in this pass a bill of pains and penalties, case can be expected from any against every officer who had the court-martial, but such a sentence as misfortune of being a member of they may privately be directed to that court-martial. Therefore, to give by their commanding officer ? prevent any future inquiries being inAnd what is still worse, we are go- E terrupted by such a scruple, or to ing to put it out of our power, prevent our being provoked, and I when a sentence flagrantly unjust may say, compelled to punish the and opprefiive is passed, to discrimi- innocent equally with the guilty, it nate the innocent from the guilty ; is absolutely necessary to add the for tho' the parliament may, and, I words now moved for. hope, always will act juftly, yet in For our own fakes, Sir, and forthe common way of speaking, nei-G the preservation of our privileges, ther house is ever called a court of we ought to add these words. I justice.
was indeed surprised to find the But fuppose, Sir, that in a law imagination of the honourable gensense the words, court of justice, tleman who spoke last to unfruitful, January, 1751