The second parliament of Charles II: Twelfth session - begins 27/10/1673

Pages 179-186

The History and Proceedings of the House of Commons: Volume 1, 1660-1680. Originally published by Chandler, London, 1742.

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Twelfth Session of the second Parliament.

On the said 20th Day of October, the Parliament met according to their Adjournment, when the Commons shewed their Disgust against several Proceedings, and presently voted, 'That an Address be made to his Majesty, to acquaint his Majesty, that it is the humble Desire of this House, that the intended Marriage of his Royal Highness with the Dutchess of Modena, be not consummated; and that he may not be marry'd to any Person but of the Protestant Religion. Upon which, the King immediately prorogu'd the Parliament to the 27th of the same Month. When his Majesty, without shewing any particular Displeasure, from the Throne made this following Speech:

The King's Speech to both Houses.

'My Lords and Gentlemen,

I Thought this Day to have welcomed you with an ho nourable Peace: My Preparations for the War, and Condescensions at the Treaty, gave me great Reason to believe so; but the Dutch have disappointed me in that Expectation, and have treated my Ambassadors at Cologne with the Contempt of Conquerors, and not as might be expected from Men in their Condition. They have other Thoughts than Peace. This obligeth me to move you again for a Supply; the Safety and Honour of the Nation necessarily requiring it. It must be one proportionable to the Occasion; and I must tell you besides, that, if I have it not speedily, the Mischief will be irreparable in my Preparations for the next Spring. The great Experience I have had of you, Gentlemen of the House of Commons, will not suffer me to believe, that the Artifices of our Enemies can possibly divert you from giving me this Supply, or that you can fall of adjusting the Proportion of it. I hope I need not use many Words to persuade you, that I am steady in maintaining all the Professions and Promises I have made you concerning Religion and Property: And I shall be very ready to give you fresh Instances of my Zeal, for preserving the establish'd Religion and Laws, as often as any Occasion shall require. In the last place, I am highly concern'd to commend to your Consideration and Care, the Debt I owe the Goldsmiths, in which very many other of my good Subjects are involv'd: I heartily recommend their Condition to you, and desire your Assistance for their Relief. There is more that I wou'd have you inform'd of, which I leave to the Chancellor.'

The Lord Chancellor Shaftesbury's Speech.

'Accordingly, the Chancellor made the following Speech, 'My Lords, and you the Knights, Citizens and Burgesses of the House of Commons, His Majesty had reason to expect that he shou'd have met you with the Olive Branch of Peace: His Naval Preparations, greater than in any former Years, together with his Land-Forces he had ready for any Occasion, gave him Assurance to obtain it before this Time: And the rather, because his Aims were not Conquest, unless by Obstinacy enforc'd: but his Condescensions at the Treaty have been so great, that the very Mediators have declared they were not reasonably to be refus'd. He cou'd not be King of Great Britain without securing the Dominion and Property of his own Seas; the first by an Article clear, and not clusory of the Flag; the other, by an Article that preserv'd the Right of the Fishing, but gave the Dutch Permission, as Tenants, under a small Rent, to enjoy, and continue that Gainful Trade upon the Coasts. The King was oblig'd, for the Security of a lasting Peace, as also by the Laws of Gratitude and Relation, to see the House of Orange settled, and the Lovestein, that Carthaginian Party, brought down. Neither in this did the King insist beyond what was moderate, and agreeable to their Government, and what the Prince's Ancestors enjoy'd amongst them. Besides these, it was necessary to the Trade of England, that there shou'd be a fair Adjustment of Commerce in the East-Indies; where the King's Demands were reasonable, and according to the Law of Nations; and their Practice of late Years hath been Exorbitant and Oppressive, suitable only to their Power and Interest, and destructive, if continu'd, to our East-India Company. These were all, of any Moment, the King insisted on; as judging right, that that Peace that was Reasonable, Just and Fair to both Parties, wou'd be sacred and durable. And that by this Means, he shou'd depress the Interest and Reputation of that Lovestein Party amongst them, who suck'd in with their Milk an Inveterate Hatred to England, and transmit it to their Posterity, as a distinguishing Character wherein they place their Loyalty to their Country.

'In return to this candid, and fair Proceeding on the King's part, his Majesty assures you, he hath receiv'd nothing but the most scornful and contemptuous Treatment imaginable; Papers deliver'd in to the Mediators, own'd by them to be stuff'd with so unhandsome Language, that they were asham'd, and refus'd to shew them; never agreeing to any Article about the Flag, that was clear or plain; refusing any Article of the Fishing, but such a one, as might sell them the Right of Inheritance, for an inconsiderable Sum of Money, tho' it be a Royalty so inherent to the Crown of England, that I may say (with his Majesty's Pardon for the Expression) he cannot sell it. The Article of the Prince of Orange, and the Adjustment of the East-India Trade, had neither of them any better Success: And, to make all of a piece, they have, this last Week, sent a Trumpeter with an Address to his Majesty, being a Deduction of their several Offers of Peace, as they call them, and their Desires for it now; but it is, both in the penning and the timing of it, plainly an Appeal to his Majesty's People against himself: And the King hath commanded me to tell you, He is resolv'd to join Issue with them, and print both their Address, and his Answer, that his People and the World may see how notorious Falshoods and Slights they endeavour to put upon Him. In a word, in England, and all other Places, and to all other Persons in the World, they declare they offer all things to obtain a Peace from the King of England: but to himself, his Ministers, the Mediators, or his Plenipotentiaries, it may with Confidence and Truth be affirm'd, that, to this day, nay even in this last Address, they have offer'd nothing. They desire the King's Subjects would believe they beg for Peace, while their true Request is, only to be permitted to be Masters of the Seas; which they hope, if they can subsist at Land, length of Time may give them; and, if once got, is never to be lost; nor can it be bought by any State or Empire at too great a Rate. And what Security their Agreement with us in Religion will afford, when they shall have the Power, former Instances may give Demonstration of. Joint Interests have often secured the Peace of differing Religions, but agreeing Professions have hardly an Example of preserving the Peace of different Interests.

'This being the true and natural State of Things, his Majesty doth with great Assurance throw himself into the Arms of you his Parliament, for a Supply suitable to this great Affair he is engag'd in. When you consider we are an Island, 'tis not Riches nor Greatness we contend for; yet those must attend the Success; but it is our very Beings are in question: We fight pro Aris & Focis in this War. We are no longer Free-Men, being Islanders, and Neighbours, if they master us at Sea. There is not so lawful or commendable Jealousy in the World, as an English-Man's, of the growing Greatness of any Prince or State at Sea. If you permit the Sea, our British Wife, to be ravish'd, an eternal Mark of Infamy will stick upon us: Therefore I am commanded earnestly to recommend to you, not only the Proportion, but the Time of the Supply. For unless you think of it early, it will not be serviceable to the chief End of setting out a Fleet betimes the next Spring. As for the next Part of the King's Speech, I can add nothing to what his Majesty hath said. For as to Religion and Property, his Heart is with your Heart, perfectly with your Heart. He hath not yet learned to deny you any thing; and he believes your Wisdom and Moderation is such, he never shall. He asks of you to be at peace in Him, as he is in You, and he shall never deceive you.

'There is one Word more, I am commanded to say concerning the Debt owing to the Goldsmiths: The King holds himself in Honour and Conscience oblig'd to see them satisfy'd. Besides, you all know how many Widows, Orphans and particular Persons, this public Calamity hath overtaken; and how hard it is, That so disproportionable a Burden shou'd fall upon them, even to their utter Ruin. The whole Case is so well and generally known, that I need say no more. Your Great Wisdom hath not done it at the first, peradventure that the Trade of the Bankers might be suppressed; which End is now attained: So that now your Great Goodness may restore to those poor People, and the many innocent ones that are concern'd with them, some Life and Assurance of Payment in a competent Time My Lords and Gentlemen, I have no more in Command, and therefore I shall conclude with my own hearty Prayers, that this Session may equal, nay exceed the Honour of the last; That it may perfect what the last begun for the Safety of this King and Kingdom; That it may be for ever famous for having establish'd, upon a durable Foundation, our Religion, Laws and Properties; That we may not be toss'd with boisterous Winds, nor overtaken by a sudden, dead Calm: But that a gentle, fair Gale may carry you in a steady, even, and resolv'd Way into the Ports of Wisdom and Security.

A Message from the King to the Commons. ; A general Test Voted.

The Speech ended, and the Commons return'd to their House, they were so affected with the Thoughts of Popery, that the first thing they resolv'd was a more than ordinary Solemnization of the Fifth of November, and that Dr. Stillingfleet be the Preacher. Then, appointing a Grand Committee for Religion, Grievances, Trade, and Courts of Justice, they adjourn'd themselves till the 30th Instant. On which Day, Mr. Secretary Coventry brought from his Majesty the following Answer to their Address concerning the Duke of York, and his intended Marriage: 'C.R. His Majesty having receiv'd an Address from the House of Commons, presenting their humble Desire that the intended Marriage betwixt his Royal Highness and the Princess of Modena may not be confummated, commanded this Answer to be return'd, That he perceiv'd the House of Commons have wanted a full Information of this Matter, the Marriage not being barely intended, but compleated according to the Forms used amongst Princes, and by his Royal Consent and Authority: Nor cou'd lie in the least suppose it disagreeable to this House of Commons, his Royal Highness having been in the View of the World for several Months engag'd in a Treaty of Marriage with another Catholic Princess, and yet a Parliament held during the Time, and not the least Exception taken at it.' They were not satisfied with this Answer: And, therefore immediately voted to draw up another Address, with particular Reasons against the Marriage; and the same Day voted, 'That a Bill shou'd be prepar'd for a General Test betwixt Protestants and Papists, and those that refus'd to take it, shou'd be incapable of bearing any Office Military or Civil, or to fit in Parliament, or to come within five Miles of the Court.' They likewise went on with a Bill for Repair of Churches, and for the better recovery of small Tythes.

Their grand Resolve.

Upon Friday the 31st of October the House of Commons first took into their Consideration his Majesty's Speech, and after a long and serious Debate in a grand Committee, they finally Resolv'd, 'That the House, considering the present Condition of the Nation, will not take into any further Debate the Consideration of any Aid or Supply, or Charge upon the Subject, before the Time of Payment of the eighteen Months Assessment, granted by a late Act of Parliament, entitled, An Act for raising the Sum of twelve hundred thirty eight thousand seven hundred and fifty Pounds, be expired; except it shall appear that the Obstinacy of the Dutch shall render it necessary; nor before this Kingdom be effectually secured from Popery and Popish Counsellors, and the other present Grievances be redressed.' At the same time they order'd an Address to be presented to his Majesty, for a general Fast to be observed throughout the Nation.

Their particular Address against the Duke's Marriage.

The Address against the Duke's Marriage, was as follows: 'We your Majesty's most humble and loyal Subjects, the Commons in this present Parliament assembled, being full of Assurance of your Majesty's gracious Intentions to provide for the Establishment of Religion, and the Preservation of your People in Peace and Security; and foreseeing the dangerous Consequences which may follow the Marriage of his Royal Highness the Duke of York with the Princess of Modena, or any other of the Popish Religion; do hold ourselves bound in Conscience and Duty to represent the same to your Sacred Majesty, not doubting but those constant Testimonies which we have given your Majesty of our true and loyal Affections to your sacred Person, will easily gain a Belief that these our humble Desires proceed from Hearts still full of the same Affections towards your Sacred Majesty, and with Intentions to establish your royal Government upon those true Supports of the Protestant Religion, and the Hearts of your People; with all Humility desiring your Majesty to take the same into your Princely Consideration, and to relieve your Subjects from those Fears and Apprehensions which at present they lie under, from the Progress that hath been made in that Treaty. We do therefore humbly beseech your Majesty to consider, 1. That if this Match do proceed, it will be a Means to disquiet the Minds of your Protestant Subjects at home, and to fill them with endless Jealousies and Discontents; and will bring your Majesty into such Alliances abroad, as will prove highly prejudicial, if not destructive, to the Interest of the very Protestant Religion itself. 2. We find by sad Experience, that such Marriages have increas'd and encourag'd Popery in this Kingdom, and given Opportunity to Priests and Jesuits to propagate their Opinions, and seduce great Numbers of your Majesty's Subjects. 3. We do already observe how much the Party is animated with the Hopes of this Match, which were lately discourag'd by your gracious Concessions in the last Meeting of this Parliament. 4. We greatly fear this may be an Occasion to lessen the Affections of the People to his Royal Highness, who is so nearly related to the Crown, and whose Honour and Esteem we desire may always be entirely preserv'd. 5. That for another Age more, at least, this Kingdom will be under the continual Apprehensions of the Growth of Popery, and the Danger of the Protestant Religion. Lastly, We consider that this Princess, having so near a Relation and Kindred to many eminent Persons of the Court of Rome, may give them great Opportunities to promote their Designs, and carry on their Practices amongst us, and by the same Means penetrate into your Majesty's most secret Counsels, and more easily discover the State of the whole Kingdom. And finding by the Opinions of very Learned Men, it is generally admitted, That such Treaties and Contracts by Proxy are dissolvable, of which there are several Instances to be produc'd; We do in all Humility beseech your Majesty to put a stop to the Consummation of this intended Marriage. And this we do the more importunately desire, because we have not as yet the Happiness to see any Issue of your Majesty that may succeed in the Government of these Kingdoms; which Blessing we most heartily pray Almighty God in his due Time to bestow upon your Majesty and these Kingdoms, to the unspeakable Joy and Comfort of all your Majesty's Loyal Subjects, who desire nothing more than to continue under the Reigns of your Majesty, and your Royal Posterity for ever.

The King's Answer. ; The standing Army voted a Grievance. ; Other Grievances.

To which Address his Majesty return'd this Answer, That it was a Matter he would take into his present Consideration, and would speedily return an Answer.' After which the Commons proceeded further, and voted the standing Army a Grievance; and accordingly they prepar'd an Address to be made to his Majesty, shewing, 'That the standing Army was a Grievance, and a Burden to the Nation.' Having prepared this on the 4th of November, and designing that Day to wait upon his Majesty with it, the King, unexpectedly, and of a sudden, appear'd at the House of Peers with his Robes and Crown. The Lords made all haste to attend him, while the Usher of the Black-Rod was sent to the Commons, to command the Speaker and that House immediately to come up to his Majesty. But it happen'd that the Speaker and the Usher met both at the Door of the House of Commons; and the Speaker being got within the House, some of the Members suddenly shut the Door, and cry'd out, To the Chair, to the Chair! While others cry'd, The Black-Rod is at the Door! The Speaker was immediately hurry'd to the Chair, and then it was mov'd, 1. That our Alliance with France was a Grievance. 2. That the evil Counsellors about the King were a Grievance; and, 3. That the Duke of Lauderdale was a Grievance, and not fit to be trusted or employ'd in any Office or Place of Trust. To which there was a general Cry, To the Question, to the Question! But the Black-Rod knocking earnestly at the Door, the Speaker leapt out of the Chair, and the House rose in great Confusion.

The King prorogues the Parliament with a Speech.

Being come into the House of Peers, the King from the Throne made this following Speech to both Houses:

My Lords and Gentlemen,

'I Need not tell you how unwillingly I call you hither at this Time, being enough sensible what Advantages my Enemies both abroad and at home will reap by the least Appearance of a Difference betwixt Me and my Parliament; nay, being assured they expect more Success from such a Breach (could they procure it) than from their Arms. This, I say, shall, while I live, be my chief Endeavour to prevent; and for that Reason I think it necessary to make a short Recess, that all good Men may recollect themselves against the next Meeting, and consider, Whether the present Posture of Affairs will not rather require their Application to Matters of Religion, and Support against our only Competitors at Sea, than to Things of less Importance: and, in the mean time, I will not be wanting to let all my Subjects see, That no Care can be greater than my own, in the effectual Suppressing of Popery: And it shall be your Faults, if in your several Countries the Laws be not effectually executed against the Growth of it. I will not be idle neither in some Things which may add to your Satisfaction; and then I shall expect a suitable Return from you.'

Having spoke thus, he prorogu'd the Parliament to the 7th Day of January following: