The History and Proceedings of the House of Commons: Volume 1, 1660-1680. Originally published by Chandler, London, 1742.
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The sixteenth Session of the second Parliament.
Feb. 15, 1676-7. The Parliament met according to Prorogation, after an Interval of almost fifteen Months, when the King thus address'd himself to both Houses:
The King's Speech to both Houses.
'My Lords and Gentlemen,
I Have called you together again after a long Prorogation, that you might have an Opportunity to repair the Misfortunes of the last Session, and to recover and restore the right Use of Parliaments. The Time I have given you to recollect yourselves in, and to consider whither those Differences tend, which have been so unhappily manag'd and improv'd between you, is enough to leave you without all Excuse, if ever you fall into the like again. I am now resolv'd to let the World see, That it shall not be my Fault, if they be not made happy by your Confultations in Parliament. For I declare myself very plainly to you, that I am prepared to give you all the Satisfaction and Security in the great Concerns of the Protestant Religion, as it is establish'd in the Church of England, that shall reasonably be ask'd, or can consist with Christian Prudence; and I declare myself as freely, that I am ready to gratify you in a further Security of your Liberty and Property (if you can think you want it) by as many good Laws as you shall propose, and as can consist with the Safety of the Government, without which there will neither be Liberty nor Property left to any Man.
'Having thus plainly told you what I am ready to do for you, I shall deal as plainly with you again, and tell you what it is I do expect from you. First, I do expect and require from you, that all Occasions of Differences between the two Houses be carefully avoided; for else they, who have no Hopes to prevent your good Resolutions, will hope by this Reserve to hinder them from taking any Effect. And let all Men judge who is most for arbitrary Government, they that foment such Differences as tend to dissolve all Parliaments; or I, that wou'd preserve this and all Parliaments from being made useless by such Dissensions. In the next place, I desire you to consider the Necessity of building more Ships, and how much all our Safeties are concern'd in it. And since the additional Revenue of Excise will shortly expire, you that know me to be under a great Burden of Debts, and how hard a Shift I am making to pay them off as fast as I can, I hope will never deny me the Continuance of this Revenue, and some reasonable Supply to make my Condition more easy. And that you may be satisfy'd how impossible it is (whatsoever some Men think) to support the Government with less than the present Revenue, you may at any time see the yearly establish'd Charge; by which it will appear, that the constant and unavoidable Charge being paid, there will remain no Overplustowards the discharging those Contingencies which may happen in all Kingdoms, and which have been a considerable Charge to me this last Year. To conclude, I do recommend to you the Peace of the Kingdom, in the careful Prevention of all Differences; the Safety of the Kingdom, in providing some greater Strength at Sea; and the Prosperity of the Kingdom, in assisting the necessary Charge and Support of the Government. And if any of these good Ends shou'd happen to be disappointed, I call God and Man to witness this Day, that the Misfortune of that Disappointment shall not lie at my Door. The rest I refer to the Chancellor.' Who delivered himself in effect as follows:
The Lord Chancellor's Speech.
'My Lords, &c. By the most gracious Pleasure of the King, you are here again assembled to hold another Session of this Parliament; wherein the King expects your Advice and your Assistance; your Advice in the Matters of the highest Deliberation, your Assistance in Matters of extreme and pressing Difficulty. Your Deliberations will chiefly be exercis'd about those Things which belong to your Peace, the Peace of the Church, and the Peace of the State; two Considerations of so close a Connexion between themselves, that in the very original Writ of Summons, by virtue of which you still sit here, they are jointly recommended to your Council and Care. The Peace of the Church is harder to preserve than the Peace of the State; for they, who desire Innovations in the State, most commonly begin the Attempt upon the Church. And by this means it comes to pass, that the Peace of the Church is so often disturb'd, not only by those poor mistaken Souls, who deserve to be pity'd, but by malicious and designing Men, who deserve to be punish'd: And while Things continue in this Estate, it cannot be avoided but that the Laws which are necessary to restrain the Malicious, must and will sometimes disquiet and wound those that are weak. What Remedies are fit for this Discase, whether the Fault be in the Laws, or the Men, in the Men that should obey, or in the Men that should execute; whether the Cure be a Work of Time and Patience, or of Zeal and Diligence; or whether any new Expedient can be found to secure the Ship from that Storm which the swelling of two contrary Tides seems to threaten, is wholly left to your Advice: The King hath call'd you for that End, and doubts not but your Councils will be such as shall tend to Safety and to Establishment.'
'The Peace of the State requires as much of your Care and Vigilance too: Our Peace at Home, and our Peace Abroad. As for that Abroad, we are at this time, blessed be God for his Mercy to us, and the King for his Care of us, in perfect Peace with all the Nations upon Earth: Such a Peace as makes us the Envy of the Christian World, and hath enabled us to do ourselves Right against the Insidels: Such a Peace as brings with it all the Fruits of Peace, and deserves not only our Prayers for the continuance of it, but our best and most watchful Care that nothing may be done on our Part to give it an Interruption. But then we must consider again, that our Peace abroad will not subsist any longer than while we maintain our Peace at home: For without this, no Kingdom can be able to act in its full Strength; and without that, the Friendship and Enmity of any Nation ceases to be considerable to its Neighbours. Now 'tis a great and dangerous Mistake in those, who think the Peace at Home is well enough preserv'd, so long as the Sword is not drawn; whereas in truth nothing deserves the Name of Peace, but Unity: Such an Unity as flows from an unshaken Trust and Confidence between the King and his People, from a due Reverence and Obedience to the Laws, and to his Government, from a religious and awful Care, not to remove the ancient Land-marks, not to disturb those Constitutions which Time and the public Convenience have settled, from a Zeal to preserve the whole Frame and Order of the Government upon the old Foundations, and from a perfect Detestation and Abhorrency of all such as are given to change: Whatever falls short of this, falls short of Peace too. If therefore there be any Endeavours to renew, nay if there be not all possible Endeavours to extinguish the Memory of all former Provocations and Offences, and the Occasions of the like for the future; if there be such Divisions as beget great Thoughts of Heart; shall we call this Peace, because it is not War, or because Men do not yet take the Field ? As well we may call it Health, when there is a dangerous Fermentation in the Blood and Spirits, because the Patient hath not yet taken his Bed.'
Then, laying open the Difficulties with relation to the Weakness of the Fleet and King's particular Debts, he proceeded thus: 'One Difficulty more there is, without which all the rest were none, and that is the strange Diffidence and Distrust, which, like a general Infection, begins to spread itself through all the Corners of the Land. Much of this rises from the Artifice of ill Men, who create and nourish all the Suspicions they can devise; but the Cure of it lies perfectly in your Hands, for all will presently vanish as soon as Men shall see your Acquiescence, and the Fruits of it in a chearful Concurrence with his Majesty to all these good and public Ends which he hath now so earnestly recommended to you. It wou'd be somewhat strange, and without all Example in Story, that a Nation shou'd be twice ruin'd, twice undone, by the self-same Ways and Means, the same Fears and Jealousies. Will any Man that but gives himself leave to think, refuse to enjoy and take comfort in the Blessings that are present, only for fear of future Changes and Alterations? Surely it is enough for any Kingdom, and more than most Kingdoms of the World can boast of, to have their Affairs brought into such Condition, that they may, in all human Probability, and unless by their own Default, continue a long time safe and happy. Future Contingencies are not capable of any certain Prospect: A Security beyond that of human Probability, no Nation ever did or ever shall attain to. If a Kingdom be guarded by Nature against all Dangers from without, and then will rely too much upon what Nature hath done for them; If a Kingdom be warn'd and caution'd against all Dangers from within, by former Experiences, and then will either forget, or make no use of those Experiences; If a Kingdom be powerful in Shipping and Navigation, and then see their Neighbours endeavouring to overpower them that way, without being solicitous to augment and reinforce their own naval Strength; If a Kingdom be happy in the frequent Assemblies of their great Councils, where all that is grievous may be redress'd, and all that is wanting may be enacted, and then will render those Councils useless and impracticable, by continuing endless Distractions; who can wonder if their Affairs shou'd begin to be less prosperous, when otherwise, humanly speaking, and in all common Probability, their Condition wou'd have been out of the Reach of Fortune, and their Security in a manner impregnable.
'My Lords and Gentlemen, If the presaging Malice of our Enemies shou'd portend any such Fate as this to befal us, the Wisdom and Magnanimity of this great Council will quickly be too hard for all their Auguries: The Honour and Loyalty of this august and venerable Assembly will leave no kind of room for such Divinations. You, that have the Happiness to live under so excellent a Monarchy, so admirable a Constitution and Temper of Government; You, that remember what the Want of this Government cost us, and the miserable Desolations which attended it, have all the Motives, and are under all possible Obligations to secure and advance the Interest of it. The King, on his part, meets you with so open and so full a Heart, and so absolutely resolved to do his utmost to glad the Hearts of his People, that it must be the strangest Infelicity in the World, if either he or his Subjects shou'd meet with any Disappointments here. For the King hath no Desires but what are public, no Ends or Aims which terminate in himself; all his Endeavours are so entirely bent upon the Welfare of his whole Dominions, that he doth not think any Man a good Subject who doth not heartily love his Country: And therefore let no Man pass for a good Patrior, who doth not heartily love and serve his Prince. Private Men indeed are subject to be misled by private Interests, and may entertain some vain and slender Hopes of surviving the Public; but a Prince is sure to fall with it, and therefore can never have any Interests divided from it. To live and die with the King is the highest Profession a Subject can make, and sometimes tis a Profession only and no more; but in a King 'tis an absolute Necessity, 'tis a Fate inevitable, that he must live and die with his People. Away then with all the vain Imaginations of those who infuse a Misbelief of the Government: Away with all those ill-meant Distinctions between the Court and the Country, between the natural and the politic Capacity; and let us all who go about to persuade others that there are several Interests, have a care of that Precipice to which such Principles may lead them: For the first Men that ever began to distinguish of their Duty, never left off till they had quite distinguish'd themselves out of their Allegiance. Let no Contention then come near this Place, but that of a noble Emulation who shall serve his Country best, by well serving of the King; Let no Passion enter here, but that of a pious Zeal to lay hold upon all Opportunities of promoting the Honour and Service of the Crown, till our Enemies despair of ever profiting by any Disorders amongst us. And let all who pray for the long Life and Prosperity of the King, add their Endeavours to their Prayers, and study to prolong this sacred Life, by giving him all the Joys of Heart which can arise from the Demonstrations of the lively and the warm Affections of his People.'
584,000 l. voted. ; The additional Excise upon Beer and Ale granted for three Years longer. ; Three Bills from the Lords rejected. ; An Address to the King on the Growth of the Power of France. ; The King's Answer.
As soon as the House proceeded to Business, a Motion was made for a Supply, which, after some little Debate, was granted; that is to say, 584,000 l. was voted for the building and furnishing Thirty Men of War, and without appropriating any Part of the Customs. And whereas the additional Excise upon Beer and Ale, which had been granted upon the Triple Alliance, was now of course to expire on the 24th of June this Year, a Bill for continuing of it three Years longer likewise pass'd without any difficulty. Yet they refus'd three Bills sent down from the Lords, one entitled, An Act for securing the Protestant Religion, by educating the Children of the Royal Family, and providing for the Maintenance of the Protestant Clergy. Another, For the more effectual Conviction and Prosecution of Popish Recusants. A third, For the Regulation of the Press, with a Clause to break open a House on Suspicion of any Pamphlets. The two first they rejected, as not answering the Ends of their Titles; and the last was too severe, at a Time when they thought the People under some Necessity of declaring their Minds, especially against the growing Power of France. This last seem'd their great Concern; and the general Disposition of the House was either for declaring War, or making stricter Alliances for preventing the Progress of the French Conquests in Flanders, and on the Rhine, which now began to appear more formidable than ever. Accordingly they made this following Address to the King: 'We your Majesty's most loyal Subjects, &c. do most humbly offer to your Majesty's Consideration, that the Minds of your People are much disquieted with the manifest Dangers arising to your Majesty by the Growth and Power of the French King; especially by the Acquisitions already made, and the farther Progress like to be made by him, in the Spanish Netherlands, in the Preservation and Security whereof, we humbly conceive the Interest of your Majesty, and the Safety of your People are highly concern'd; and therefore we humbly beseech your Majesty to take the same into your Royal Care, and to strengthen yourself with such stricter Alliances, as may secure your Majesty's Kingdoms, and secure and preserve the said Spanish Netherlands, and thereby quiet the Minds of your Majesty's People.' To which the King shortly after gave this following Answer; 'That his Majesty was of the Opinion of his two Houses of Parliament; that the Preservation of Flanders was of great Consequence; and that he wou'd use all Means in his power for the Safety of his Kingdom.'
A second Address concerning Alliances.
Shortly after, on the 26th of March, they drew up a second Address, as follows: 'We your Majesty's most loyal Subjects, &c. do with unspeakable Joy, and Comfort, present our humble Thanks to your Majesty, for your Majesty's gracious Acceptance of our late Address, and that your Majesty was pleas'd in your Princely Wisdom to express your Concurrence and Opinion with your two Houses in reference to the Preservation of the Spanish Netherlands. And we do with most earnest and repeated Desires implore your Majesty, that you would be pleas'd to take timely Care to prevent those Dangers that may arise to these Kingdoms by the great Power of the French King, and the Progress he daily makes in those Netherlands and other Places. And therefore that your Majesty wou'd not defer the entering into such Alliances as may obtain those Ends; and in Case it shall happen that, in pursuance of such Alliances, your Majesty shou'd be engag'd in a War with the French King, we do hold our selves oblig'd, and do with all Humility and Chearfulness assure your Majesty, that we your most loyal Subjects shall always be ready, upon Signification thereof in Parliament, fully, and from Time to Time, to assist your Majesty with such Aids and Supplies, as, by the divine Assistance, may enable your Majesty to prosecute the same with success. All which we do most humbly offer to your Majesty as the unanimous Sense and Desire of the whole Kingdom.'
Debates upon it. Arguments against the Address.
Upon a solemn Debate in the House, those against the Address argu'd and alledg'd (fn. 1), 'That to press the King to make farther Alliances with the Confederates against the French King, was in effect to press him to a War, that being the direct and unavoidable Consequence thereof: That the Consideration of War was most proper for the King, who had full Intelligence of Foreign Affairs, and knew the Arcana Imperii. That it was a dangerous thing, hastily, to incite the King to a War; since our Merchant-Ships and Effects would immediately be seiz'd by the French King, who would thereby probably acquire the Value of near a Million to enable him to maintain the War against us: That he would fall upon our Plantations, and take, plunder, and annoy them; That he would send out abundance of Privateers, and take, and disturb our Trading Ships in these Seas, and in the Mediterranean. It was further alledg'd, 'That, at present, we had not so many Ships of War as he, and those Thirty which were to be built with the six hundred thousand Pounds now given, could not be finish'd in two Years; That we had not Naval Stores and Ammunition, &c. sufficient for such a purpose; and if we had, yet the Season of the Year was too far advanc'd to set out a considerable Fleet, and we could not now lay in Beef, Pork, &c. That when we were engaged in a War, the Dutch would probably leave us in it, and so gain to themselves the singular Advantage of sole Trading in Peace, a Privilege we now enjoy, and should not be weary of. That it was next to impossible, to make Alliances with the several Parties as might be expected, such and so various were the Interests and Cross-Biasses, of and amongst the Emperor, the Spaniard, the Dane, the Dutch, the Brandenburger, and the several lesser Princes of Germany, and others. That we may easily enter into a War, but it would be hard to find the way out of it, and a long War would be destructive to us; for the Emperor, the French, Spaniard, &c. use to maintain War for many Years; yet a trading Nation, such as England, could not endure a tedious War.
Those for it.
In answer to these Allegations, on the other side it was insisted on, 'That they did not address for making War, but making Leagues, which might be a means to prevent a War That the best way to preserve Peace, was to be in a prepa ration for War: That admitting a War should ensue thereupon, as was not unlikely, yet in conclusion that would tend to our Peace and Safety; for it could not be deny'd, That, if the Power of France were not reduc'd, and brought to a more equal Balance, we must, first or last, fight or submit. That it was commonly the Fate of those who kept themselves neutral, when their Neighbours were at War, to become a Prey to the Conqueror. That now or never was the Season to make war with France, while we may have such Auxiliaries; and if it were a formidable thing to engage him now, how much more when this opportunity was lost, the Confederacy dissolv'd, and we left to withstand him alone? That as to his seizing our Merchants Effects, the Case is the same now as it would be three Years hence, or whenever the War shall commence: And as to our Plantations and Traders, we must look upon the French as powerful, but not omnipotent; and we may as well defend them as the Dutch do theirs by Convoys, &c. and chiesly when the French shall have so many Enemies, and we so many Friends, as no other time is like to afford. They were sorry, indeed, to hear we wanted Ships, Stores, &c. but hoped it would appear to be otherwise. That the Season was not so far spent, but that a competent Fleet might be set out this Summer; and that, however defective we might be in this kind, the Dutch were ready to make an effectual Supplement in that behalf. That, however ill and false some Men might esteem the Dutch, yet Interest will not lie; and it is so much their Interest to confine and reduce the French, that it is not to be imagin'd, but that they will steadily adhere to every Friend, and every Alliance they shall join with for that purpose. That however various the several Confederates and their Interests were, yet a common Alliance might be made with them against the French, and the present Alliance may be extended to England. That a numerous and vigorous Conjunction against the French King is the way to shorten the Work; whereas, if he should hereafter attack us singly, he would continue the War on as long as he pleas'd, till he made an end of it and us together by our final Destruction.' In conclusion they urg'd, 'That the present was the best time for the purpose, and that it would give Reputation to the Confederates, and immediate Comfort and Courage to our best Friends, and Safety to our selves in futurity against the old perpetual Enemy of England.'
The Address carry'd. ; The King's Message to them.
The Arguments on this side prevail'd; and the second Address was presented to his Majesty on the 30th of March, but they receiv'd no Answer till 12 Days after. In the mean time they vigorously proceeded in the finishing of several good Bills, as one for taking away the Writ de Hæretico Comburendo, a Law that made many People very uneasy, especially now when the Fears of Popery were increasing. Another against the Profanation of the Lord's-Day: A third for the Augmentation of small Vicarages. Another remarkable one against Fraud and Perjuries, with some others. While they were thus busily employ'd, on the 11th of April, they receiv'd this Message from the King: 'His Majesty, having consider'd your last Address, and finding some late Alterations in Affairs abroad, thinks it necessary to put you in mind that the only way to prevent the Dangers which may arise in these Kingdoms, must be by putting his Majesty timely in a condition to make such fitting Preparations as may enable him to do what may be most for the Security of them. And if, for this Reason, you shall desire to sit any longer time, his Majesty is content you may adjourn now before Easter [this Year the 15th of April,] and meet again suddenly after, to ripen this matter, and to perfect some of the most necessary Bills now depending.
Debates upon it.
Upon this Message it was mov'd, that the House should adjourn till after Easter, with a Resolution to enable the King to make such Preparations as should be thought necessary, and also pass some necessary Bills for the Kingdom; 'Which if they did not, the blame of the Neglect must rest upon themselves, and it would be observ'd, they had not sate to any Effect this four Years; and that now they had a Session, and given a Million, they took little care to redress Grievances, or pass good Laws for the People; and that they should not be able to give any Account of themselves to their Neighbours in the Country, unless they should face them down, that there was no Grievance or Mischief in the Nation to be redress'd, and that the King had stopp'd their Mouths by offering them to sit longer.' Others said, 'They should perfect two Money-Bills, and give the King Ease, and take another Time to consider further of Religion, Liberty and Property, especially seeing all Bills now depending would be kept on foot; the intended Recess being design'd only for an Adjournment: That they had very good Laws already, and would give their Shares in any new ones they were making, to be in the Country at the present Time; that it was necessary for them to be there the 10th of May, to execute the Money Bill, and some time was to be allow'd for their Journeys, and Rest after it; that the passing some necessary Bills, came in the End of the King's Message, and by the by; for his Majesty faith, 'That if for this Reason, that is, for making of Preparations, &c. they should desire to sit longer;' and if so, then also take Opportunity of passing such Bills. So the Sense and Inclinotion of the House was to rise before Easter, as had been before intimated and expected. Then they fell upon the main Consideration of the Message, and to make a present Answer.
The Sense of the Ministers.
The Secretary, and other Ministers of State said, That the Alteration of Affairs which his Majesty took notice of, was the Success of the French against the Prince of Orange in the late Battle, and their Proceedings to take Cambray, and St. Omers. Thus, by Inches, or rather great Measures, they were taking in Flanders, which was reckon'd the Out-work of England as well as Holland. And they said plainly, that nothing could put his Majesty in a Condition to make fitting Preparations to preserve the Kingdom, but ready Money.
The Sense of the Patriots.
To this it was answer'd, That it was not proper nor usual to ask Money at the End of a Session, and it was fit that Alliances should first be made, and that they should adjourn rather till that were done: For they ought not to give Money till they knew for what; and, it was clearly spoken and made out by them, that, if there was no Summer's War, there was Money enough given already.
The Ministers Reply.
It was reply'd, That they had not Direction from his Majesty, as to what he had resolved; and it might be inconvenient to discover and publish such Things: But they would offer their Guess and Aim at such Things. If there were any Approaches towards a War, tho' they ought to consider like him in the Gospel, Whether with such a Force they could encounter a King that came against them with such a Force, they should think of providing a Guard for the Isle of Wight, Jersey, Guernsey, and Ireland, and secure our Coasts, and lie in a defensive Posture. We might be attack'd in the Night. Also, there would be a Necessity of an extraordinary Summer-Guard at Sea: His Majesty did use to apply 400,000 l. yearly out of the Customs, upon his Fleets. (The very Harbour-Expence in Anchorage, Mooring, Docks and Repairs, amounting to 110,000 l. per Annum.) And he was now setting forth forty Ships for the Summer-Guard: But, if there was a Disposition towards War, there must be more Ships, or at least, those must be more fully mann'd, and more strongly appointed, and furnish'd the more: especially if the Breach was sudden; for, otherwise, our trading Ships at Sea, as well as those Ships Goods in the French Ports would be expos'd. Now it is reasonable that the Remainder, which was above and beyond the King's ordinary Allowance, should be supply'd by the Parliament, and the extraordinary Preparations of this kind for the present, could not amount to less than 200,000 l.
Answered by the Patriots.
It was answer'd, That it was a melancholy thing to think, that Jersey, &c. were not well enough secur'd; at least as well as in the Year 1665; when we alone had War with the French and Dutch too; and yet the King's Revenue was less than now. That the Revenue of Ireland was (fn. 2) 500,000 l. per Annum beyond the Establishments, (that is, the Civil, Military, and all Payments of the Government.) Which, if not sent over hither, but dispos'd there, would serve to desend that Kingdom. And they remember that, about a Month ago, they were told by some of these Gentlemen, that the French King would not take more Towns in Flanders, if he could have them, but was drawing off to meet the Germans; who would be in the Field in May; and, therefore, it was strange he should be represented now, as ready to invade us, and that we must have an Army rais'd and kept on our Islands and Land. But a Fleet would protect all. Ships are the Defence of an Island, and thereby we may hope to keep him at a Distance, and not apprehend, or prepare to meet him at our Doors. He learns by Sicily, what it is to invade an Island. He is not like to attempt an Invasion of us, till he hath some Mastery at Sea, which is impossible for him to have, so long as he is diverted and employ'd at Land, in the Mediterranean, and in the WestIndies, as he is. And as to our Merchant-Ships and Goods, they are in no more Danger now, than they were in any War whatever. Nay, there was more Expectation of this, than there was of the last War; for the first Notice we, or the Dutch had of that Breach, was their Attempt on their Smyrna Fleet. Also it is observ'd, that what was said a Fortnight ago (tho' the Season was too far advanced to lay in Beef, and it would stink) was admitted to be a Mistake, for that now it was urg'd, that a greater and better appointed Fleet must be furnish'd out. It was still insisted on, likewise, that we were in the Dark; his Majesty did not speak out, that he would make the desir'd Alliances against the Growth of France; and resolve with his Parliament to maintain them. That, so long as there was any Coldness or Reservedness of this kind, they had no clear Grounds to grant Money for Preparations. His Majesty was a Prince of that Goodness and Love towards his People, that none did distrust him, but there was a Distrust of some of his Ministers, and a Jealousy that they were under French Influences; and Complaints and Addresses had been made against them. And, upon the Discourse of providing for the Safety of the Nation, it being said, we might be secur'd by the Guaranty of the general Peace, it was reflected on as a thing most pernicious to us: and that our Money and Endeavours could not be worse apply'd than to procure that Peace. All that they desir'd was, that his Majesty, and his People unanimously, truly, sincerely and thoroughly declare and engage in this Business, with a mutual Confidence, speaking as on both sides; and this, and nothing but this, would discharge and extinguish all Jealousies.
Objections of the Ministers.
But it was objected, That it was not convenient to discover his Majesty's secret Purposes in a public Assembly: It might be too soon known abroad; and there was no reason to distrust his Majesty; but that, being enabled, he would prepare and do all Things expedient for the Kingdom.
It was answer'd that it was usual for foreign Ministers to get Notice of the Councils of Princes, as the Earl of Bristol Embassador in Spain, in the last part of King James's Reign, procured Copies and often the Sight of the original Dispatches, and Cabinet-Papers of the King of Spain. But, acknowledging that his Majesty's Councils are impenetrable, yet the Things would in a short time discover themselves. Beside, they said, they did not much desire Secrecy. For let the King take a great Resolution and put himself at the Head of his Parliament and People in this weighty and worthy Cause of England, and let a flying Post carry the News to Paris, and let the French King do his worst.
His Majesty never had, nor will have cause to distrust his People. In 1667, in Confidence of our Aid, he made a League without Advice of Parliament (commonly call'd the Triple League) which was for the Interest of England, and whereby his Majesty became the Arbiter of Christendom; and in the Name, and upon the Account of that, the Parliament gave him several Supplies. In 1672, he made War without Advice of Parliament, which War the Parliament thought not for the Interest of England to continue; yet therein they would not leave him, but gave him 1,200,000 l. to carry himself in and out of it. How much more then are they concern'd and oblig'd to supply and assist him in these Alliances and War, (if it ensue) which are so much for the Interest of England, and enter'd into by the pressing Advice of Parliament? We hope his Majesty will declare himself in Earnest, and we are in Earnest, having his Majesty's Heart with us. Let his Hand not off, that is not stretched out for this Affair! We will not stick at this or that Sum, or Thing, but we will go with his Majesty to all Extremities. We are not afraid of the French King because he has great Force, and extraordinary thinking Men about him, who manage his Affairs to a wonder: But, we trust his Majesty will have his Business manag'd by thinking Men, that will be provident and careful of his Interest, and not suffer him to pay Cent. per Cent. more than Things are worth, that are taken up and used: And, if the Work be enter'd upon in this Manner, we hope England will have English Success with France: As it is in bowling, if your Bowl be well set out (or directed) you may wink and it will go to the Mark. Were the Things clear and thoroughly undertaken, there would be less reason to dispute of Time; there never was a Council but would sit on Sunday; or any Day for such a Work. In fine, they said, the Business must lie at one Door, and they would not, for any thing, it should flat in their Hands. And altho' they should hope his Majesty, in an Exigence, would lend to his People, who had given so much to him; yet they said, they could not leave him without providing him a Sum of Money, as much as he could use between this and some convenient Time after Easter, when he might, if he pleas'd, command their full Attendance by some public Notification.
200,000 l. offer'd as an immediate Aid.
The Sum mention'd was 200,000 l. and the Expedient to raise it a borrowing Clause to be added to the Bill for levying almost 600,000 l; the Effect of which was to enable his Majesty presently to take up the said Sum of 200,000 l. on the Credit of this Bill at 7 per Cent. Interest.
Some Discourse ensu'd of letting loose part of the 600,000 l. just mentioned; but then it was reflected that this Sum was appropriated for the building of Ships, and that they would not have this Appropriation unhing'd by any Means, and therefore resolv'd to annex the borrowing Clause to the Bill for continuing the additional Duty of Excise for three Years, which was not yet pass'd: Against which it was objected, that it was given for other Purposes, viz. To ease the King, to pay Interest for his Debts, &c. On the contrary, it was answer'd, that the Preamble speaks not of his Debts, but his extraordinary Occasions. But that besides, they did not intend to withdraw so much of that Gift, but did resolve to re-imburse his Majesty towards the 200,000 l. so much of it as he should lay out in extraordinary Preparations.
It was again objected, That this would be a kind of denouncing of War; and that 200,000 l. was a miserable, mean, and incompetent Sum to defend us against those whom we should provoke.
To which was reply'd, That it was but an Earnest of what they intended, and that they were willing to meet again, and give farther Supplies. Beside, the French King was not formidable for any great Hurt he could do us during the Confederacy. That there were several Princes of Germany at war with him, who, tho' much more weak and inconsiderable than we, were safe; being defended not by their own Strength, but the whole Confederacy.
An Answer to the King's Message. ; Another Message from the King.
The Debate concluded in voting the following Answer, which was presented to the King by the Speaker and the whole House on the 13th of April: 'We your Majesty's most loyal Subjects, &c. do, with great Satisfaction of Mind, observe the Regard your Majesty is pleas'd to express to our former Addresses, by intimating to us the late Alteration of Affairs abroad, and do return our most humble Thanks for your Majesty's most gracious Offer made to us thereupon in your late Message: And, having taken a serious Deliberation of the same, and of the Preparations your Majesty hath therein intimated to us were fitting to be made, in order to those public Ends, we have at present provided a Security in a Bill for the additional Duty of Excise, upon which your Majesty may raise the Sum of two hundred thousand Pounds. And if your Majesty shall think fit to call us together again for this Purpose in some short time after Easter, by any public Signification of your Pleasure, commanding our Attendance; we shall, at our next meeting, not only be ready to reimburse your Majesty what Sums of Money shall be expended on such extraordinary Preparations as shall be in pursuance of our former Addresses; but shall likewise with thankful Hearts proceed then, and at all other times, to furnish your Majesty with so large a Proportion of Assistance and Supplies upon this Occasion, as may give your Majesty and the whole World, an ample Testimony of our Loyalty and Affection to your Majesty's Service; and as may enable your Majesty, by the help of Almighty God, to maintain such stricter Alliances as you shall have enter'd into, against all Opposition whatsoever.' Hereupon his Majesty, within two Days, sent this second Message to the House: 'His Majesty, having consider'd the Answer of this House to the last Message about enabling him to make fitting Preparations for the Security of these Kingdoms, finds, by it, that they have only enabled him to borrow two hundred thousand Pounds, upon a Fund given him for other Uses; his Majesty desires therefore this House shou'd know, and he hopes they will always believe of him, that not only that Fund, but any other within his Power shall be engag'd to the utmost for the Preservation of his Kingdom: But as his Majesty's Condition is, (which he doubts not but is as well known to this House as himself) he must tell them plainly, That without the Sum of six hundred thousand Pounds, or Credit for such a Sum, upon new Funds, it will not be possible for him to speak or act those Things which shou'd answer the Ends of their several Addresses, without exposing the Kingdom to much greater Danger. His Majesty doth further acquaint you, that having done his Part, and laid the true State of Things before you, he will not be wanting to use the best Means for the Safety of his People, which at present he is capable of.'
Another Address from the Commons.
The House fell into an immediate Consideration of an Answer, and, after a short Debate, they drew up the following Address: 'We your Majesty's most loyal Subjects, &c. having consider'd your Majesty's last Message, and the gracious Expressions therein contain'd, for employing your Majesty's whole Revenue at any time, to raise Money for the Preservation of your Majesty's Kingdoms, do find great Cause to return our most humble Thanks to your Majesty for the same, and to desire your Majesty to rest assur'd, that you shall find as much Duty and Affection in us, as can be expected from a most loyal People, to their most gracious Sovereign: And whereas your Majesty is pleas'd to signify to us, that the Sum of two hundred thousand Pounds is not sufficient without a further Supply, to enable your Majesty to speak or act those Things desir'd by your People, we humbly take leave to acquaint your Majesty, that many of our Members being (upon an Expectation of an Adjournment before Easter) gone into their several Countries, we cannot think it parliamentary, in their Absence, to take upon us the granting of Money; but do therefore desire your Majesty to be pleas'd that this House may adjourn itself for such a short time, before the said two hundred thousand Pounds be expended, as your Majesty shall think fit, and by your royal Proclamation to command the Attendance of all our Members at the Day of Meeting. By which Time we hope your Majesty may have so form'd your Affairs, and fix'd your Alliances, in pursuance of our former Addresses, that your Majesty may be graciously pleas'd to impart them to us in Parliament; and we no ways doubt, but, at our next assembling, your Majesty will not only meet with a Compliance in the Supply your Majesty desires; but withal, such farther Assistance as the Posture of your Majesty's Affairs shou'd require. In confidence whereof, we hope your Majesty will be encourag'd in the mean time to speak and act such things as you shall judge necessary for attaining those great Ends, as we have formerly represented to your Majesty.'
The King passes several Bills. ; The Parliament adjourn'd.
The King had no sooner receiv'd this Address, but, finding the Money Bills ready, the same Evening, April the 16th, he came suddenly to the House of Peers, and, being seated on his Throne with the usual Solemnity, he sent for the House of Commons, and gave his Royal Assent to the several Bills presented to him, viz. 1. An Act for raising the Sum of five hundred eighty four thousand Pounds, &c. for the speedy building thirty Ships of War. 2. An Act for an additional Excise upon Beer, Ale, and other Liquors for three Years. 3. An Act for the better Observation of the Lord's Day. 4. An Act for Prevention of Frauds and Perjuries. 5. An Act for taking Affidavits in the Country, to be used in the Courts of WestminsterHall. 6. An Act for confirming and perpetuating Augmentations made by Ecclesiastical Persons, on Small Vicarages and Curacies. 7. An Act for taking away the Writ De Hæretico Comburendo. 8. An Act for Naturalization of Children of his Majesty's English Subjects born in foreign Countries during the late Troubles. 9. An Act for erecting a Judicature to determine Differences touching Houses burnt by the late dreadful Fire in Southwark. 10. An Act for the better repairing and maintaining the Peer of Great Yarmouth. After the passing these Acts, the Lord Chancellor, by his Majesty's Command, acquainted the two Houses, that they had leave to adjourn themselves till the 21st of May next.
The Continuation of the Sixteenth Session of Parliament. ; Debates on the Necessity of Alliances. ; Mr. Secretary Williamson, &c. ; The House adjourns for two Days.
On the 21st of May, the Parliament met according to Adjournment, after a Recess of near five Weeks. On which Occasion a verbal Message from his Majesty to the House of Commons, was deliver'd by Mr. Secretary Coventry, by which His Majesty acquainted the House, that having, according to their Desire in their Answer to his late Message, April, 16. directed their Adjournment to this Time; because they did alledge it to be unparliamentary to grant Supplies when the House was so thin, in expectation of a speedy Adjournment; and having also issu'd out his Proclamation of Summons, to the end there might be a full House, he did now expect they would forthwith enter upon the Consideration of his last Message, and the rather, because he intended there should be a Recess very quickly.' Upon this it was mov'd, that the King's last Message of April 16, and the Answer to it should be read: Which being done, after a long Silence, a Debate began about their Expectation, and the Necessity of Alliances; and particularly it was intimated, 'That an Alliance with Holland was most expedient, for that we shou'd deceive our selves if we thought we cou'd be defended otherwise; we alone cou'd not withstand the French, his Purse and Power was too great; nor could the Dutch withstand him, but both together might.' The general Argument was, 'That they came with an Expectation to have Alliances declared, and, if they were not made so as to be imparted, they were not call'd or come to that Purpose they desired, and hoped to meet upon; and if some few Days might ripen them, they wou'd be content to adjourn for the mean time.' The Secretary and others said, 'These Alliances were Things of great Weight and Difficulty, and the Time had been short; but if they were finish'd, yet it was not convenient to publish them, 'till the King was in a Readiness and Posture to prosecute and maintain them; 'till when his Majesty cou'd not so much as speak out, i. e. without first receiving fix hundred thousand Pounds, according to the Words of his Message.' By others it was observed and said, 'That they met now upon a public Notice by Proclamation, which Proclamation was in pursuance of their last Address, in which Address they desire the King, they may adjourn for such Time, as within which, they hoped, Alliances might be fix'd, so as to be imparted. They mentioned not any particular Day; if his Majesty had not thought this time long enough for the Purpose, he might have appointed the Adjournment for a longer Time; or he might have given Notice by Proclamation, that, upon this Account, they should re-adjourn to a yet longer Time.' In this State of Uncertainty, the House adjourn'd for two Days, having first ordered the Committee for the Bill for recalling his Majesty's Subjects out of the Service of the French King, to sit in the Afternoon, when they went through the Bill.
The Commons being met at the Time appointed, his Majesty sent a Message for the House to attend him immediately at the Banqueting-House in White-hall, where he made the following Speech to them:
The King's Speech to them.
I Have sent for you hither, that I might prevent those Mistakes and Distrusts which I find some are ready to make, as if I had called you together only to get Money from you, for other Uses than you would have it employ'd. I do assure you, on the Word of a King, that you shall not repent any Trust you repose in Me, for the Safety of my Kingdoms; and I desire you to believe I would not break my Credit with you; but as I have already told you, That it will not be possible for me to speak or act those Things which should answer the Ends of your several Addresses, without exposing my Kingdoms to so much greater Dangers, so I declare to you again, I will neither hazard my own Safety, nor yours, until I be in a better Condition than I am able to put myself, both to defend my Subjects, and offend my Enemies. I do further assure you, I have not lost one Day, since your last Meeting, in doing all I could for your Defence; and I tell you plainly, it shall be your Fault and not mine, if your Security be not sufficiently provided for.'
Debates upon it. ; Mr. Secretary Williamson.
The Commons returning to their House, resolv'd to consider of the Speech in a full and regular Debate: In which the Secretary and others propounded the fix hundred thousand Pounds Supply, but said, 'They did not press the House, but they might do as they pleas'd: But if they expected Alliances to be made, and made known, 'that Sum must be first granted: The King had the same Power of making War and Leagues, as this House had in giving Money; He could not have Money without them, nor they Alliances without him. He had consider'd the Matter, and found that he ought by such a Sum to be enabled to maintain and prosecute his Alliances, before they could or should be declar'd; and truly otherwise our Nakedness and Weakness would be expos'd. 'Tis true, as has been objected, The ask ing and giving of Money for this Purpose, would alarm, as declaring the Alliance, but then it would defend too. A Whip will alarm a wild Beast, but will not defend the Man; a Sword will alarm the Beast, but will also defend the Man. We know the King would strip himself to his Shirt, rather than hazard the Nation. He has done much already; he has set out, and made ready to set out 44 Ships: But they must be distributed to several Places for Convoys, &c. There would need, it may be, 40 more in a Body. And it is difficult to get Seamen; many are gone into the Service of the French, Dutch, &c. The King is fain to press now.
The King has not had any Fruit of the 200,000 l. Credit provided him upon the three Year's Lease; he has try'd the City to borrow Money of them thereupon, and my LordMayor return'd Answer, That he had endeavour'd, but could not encourage his Majesty to depend upon the City for it.'
Answered by other Members.
Several others spoke to this Effect: 'We should consider in this Case, as in the Case of the King's Letters-Patent, Proclamations, &c. If any Thing in them be against Law and Reason, Lawyers and Courtiers judge it void, and reckon it not to be done, or said by the King. For the King can do no Wrong, tho' his Council may. So we must look upon the King's Speeches, and Messages, as the Product of Council; and, therefore, if any Mistake be therein, it must be imputed to the Error of his Council, and it must be taken that the King never said it. Now to apply, certainly the treating and concluding of Alliances, requires not a previous Sum of Money, however the King's Council may misinform. They may be propounded and accepted by the means of the foreign Ministers, even without an Embassy to be sent from hence: And yet, if that were necessary, it were no extraordinary Charge. Alliances may be made forthwith, and then, Money would be granted forthwith. If they were declar'd to-day, the 600,000 l. should be granted to-morrow, and as Occasion should require: And there is no fear, but Money would be found for this purpose. Our own Extravagancies would maintain a War. The Money which has been provided the King already this Session, is sufficient for all the Preparations that can be possibly made, before these Alliances can be made. Forty Ships of ours, with the Help of the Dutch, are a good Defence against the French at Sea, now he is so entangled with Sicily, the West-Indies, &c. In the Triple League it was stipulated that 40 of our Ships, and 40 of the Dutch should be provided, and they were thought sufficient for the Purpose. If it were required that 40 more should be sent out, 600,000 l. is enough to maintain and pay a whole Year clear for the Carpenters Work, and such like; and as to what should be presently requir'd for the sitting them to go out, a little Money would serve. And surely, this is the only Preparation that can be meant: For if it should be meant, that we should fortify the Land with Forts, Garrisons, Walled-Towns, &c. it is not six Millions will do it: But our Strength, Force, and Defence is our Ships. For the Debate of this Day, it is as great, and weighty as ever was any in England; it concerns our very Being, and includes our Religion, Liberty, and Property: The Door towards France must be shut and guarded; so long as it is open, our Treasure and our Trade will creep out, and their Religion will creep in. And this Time is our Season. Some Mischief will be done us; and so there will at any time when the War is begun; but now the least: The French are not very dangerous to us, nor much to be fear'd by us at this present. But we ought to advise and act so now, as we may not fear or despair hereafter, when the French shall make Peace beyond Sea; and, likely, will make Alliances with those People with whom we defer to make them. How ripe and great will be our Misery then? The Power and Policy of the French are extraordinary: And their Money influences round about them.
We are glad to observe, by what is said by, and of the King, that his Majesty agrees with us in the End, and we hope he will be convinced of the Reasonableness of the Means, which is, to make and follow these Alliances; without which, plainly, we can give no Account to ourselves, or those we represent, of giving Money.
We have made several Addresses about the King's Ministers, their Management, &c. of which we have seen little Fruit. There have continually, almost to this Hour, gone out of England, Succours to France, of Men, Powder, Ammunition, Ordnance, &c. Not to rake into the matter, how far the Ministers have been active or passive in this; not to mention any other Particulars, we must say, that, unless the Ministers, or their Minds are alter'd, we have no Reason to trust Money in their Hands, tho' we declare we have no Purpose to arraign, or attempt upon them, but would rather propose them an easy Way how they might have Oblivion; nay, and the Thanks of the People, viz. That they should endeavour and contend, who could do most to dispose the King to comply with this Advice of his Parliament. We think the prosecuting these Alliances, the only good Use for which our Money can be employ'd; and, therefore, before we give, we should be secure it shall be apply'd to this Purpose, and not by Mis-Councils, be diverted to others. This is the mature Council of Parliament: And no cross, or other Council is to be trusted, for attaining these great Purposes, which the King and Parliament are agreed upon.
To part with Money, before Alliances are made, is needless and to no purpose; at least, it would be the Way to spend that Money before issu'd, in vain: which we shall need hereafter, when we shall be forc'd to enter into this Defence against France. It would be like an Error committed in the late King's Time, and which looks as if Men had given Counsel on purpose to destroy that good King. He had, by the Care and Faithfulness of Bishop Juxon and others, collected and preserv'd a good Sum of Money before the Scotish Rebellion in 1639; upon that Rebellion he was advis'd to raise an Army at Land, which, indeed, was necessary: But he was, likewise, advis'd to set out several of his Great-Rate Ships. This appear'd in the Papers of Sir Robert Long's Office, and may there be seen still, if the Papers are not scatter'd. A Man cannot tell for what End this Advice was given, unless to spend the King's Money: For the Admiralty of Scotland is not now, and much less then, was so considerable as to require any such Force against it. And if the Design was to hinder their Commerce and Succours by Sea, the Charge of one of those great Ships, might have been divided, and apply'd to the setting out five or six less Ships, each of which was capable of doing as much for that Service, as such a great one, and could keep out at Sea longer.
It is a plain Case, unless the Power of France be lower'd, we cannot be safe: Without Conjunction with Confederates, this cannot be done. The Question is then, Whether this be a proper Time for the Work. Certainly it is. There is already a happy Confederation against the French, which we cannot so well hope to have continued, without our coming into it: Much less can we hope to recover, or recruit it, if once broken. The very Season of the Year favours the Business. It is proper and safe to begin with the French in the Summer; now they are engag'd, and not at leisure: Whereas in Winter, when the Armies are drawn out of the Field, he will be able to apply himself to us.
As to the Citizens not advancing Money upon the late Credit, we are inform'd they were never regularly or effectually ask'd. My Lord-Mayor, indeed, was spoken to, and, perhaps, some of the Aldermen; but, all they, are not the City. He sent about curiously to some of the Citizens, to know if they would lend; of which they took little or no Notice, it not being agreeable to their Way and Usage. For the Custom, in such Cases, has always been, that some Lord of the Council did go down to the Common-Council, which is the Representative-Body of the City, and there propound the Matter. Beside, in this particular Case, the Citizens generally ask'd the same Question we do, Are the Alliances made? And said, if they were made, they would lend Money; but if not, they saw no Cause for it.
Philip the Second of Spain made an Observation in his Will, or some last Memorial, and 'tis since publish'd in Print, by Monsieur . . . He observes the Vanity of any Prince's aspiring to Universal Monarchy: for that it naturally made the rest of the World jointly his Enemies. But Ambition blinds Men, suffers them not to look back on such Experiences. But, this Observation shews what is natural to do in such a Case. And that the Way to repel and break such a Design, is by their universal Confederation. Philip the Second was most capable of making this Observation: For, in his hands, perish'd the Spanish Design of the Universal Monarchy; and that chiefly, by reason of the Conjunction of the English and Dutch against him. In the Process of this Debate, Gentlemen did more particularly explain themselves, and propound to address their Design to the King, for a League Offensive and Defensive with the Dutch, against the French Power. To which a specious Objection was made; That the Dutch were already treating with the French, and 'twas like they would slip Collar, make a separate Peace for themselves, and leave us engag'd in a War with France. To which was answer'd, That the Dutch were interested in repressing the Power of France, as well as we, and that they knew their Interest. It was reasonable for them to say, if England, which is as much concern'd in this Danger, will not assist us, we will make the best Terms we can for ourselves: There is yet a Seam of Land between the French and us; we may trade by, or under them, &c. But if England will join the Dutch, they cannot find one Syllable of Reason to desert the Common Cause. They have observ'd a Propensity in the People of England to help them, but not in the Court of England. If they can find that the Court does heartily join, it will, above all things, oblige and confirm them. In 1667, when the Dutch were in Peace and Plenty, when Flanders was a greater Bulwark to them, for the French had not pierc'd so far into it, and when the Direction of their Affairs was in the hand of John de Witt, an inveterate Enemy to the Crown of England; yet then, their Interest did so far govern him, and them, as to enter into the Triple League against the Growth and Power of France, and keep it more stedfastly than we. And most certainly, therefore, now they are exhausted and weaken'd by a War, and stand in need of our Help, now the French have approach'd nearer the Brink of their Country, and are increas'd in Naval Force, to the Danger of their Trade and Navigation, and now their Affairs are chiefly directed by a Kinsman of the Crown of England the Prince of Orange, they cannot deflect or start from a League they make with us against our common Enemy.'
Motion for a League with Spain and Holland. ; Spain dropt. ; Reasons for it.
It was mov'd, That there might be a League offensive and defensive with Spain and the Dutch, and other convenient Alliances, with the rest of the Confederates. But the Particular concerning Spain was retracted and laid aside, by the general Discourse of the Members to this purpose. 'We do covet an Alliance with Spain above others, for that they are Owners of the Netherlands, for whose Preservation we have address'd. That it is with Spain we have the most, if not the only profitable Trade, and the Spaniards are good, gallant and sure Friends; but they are remote, and we know not whether there are full Powers here or at Brussels for this matter; and to wait for that coming from Madrid, would be Church-work; whereas we need the swiftest Expedition.'
An Address to the King, declining a farther Supply till his Majesty's Alliances are made known.
On the Conclusion of the Debate, which was long, they agreed to draw up an Address to his Majesty, to the following Effect: 'We your Majesty's most loyal and dutiful Subjects, &c. having taken into our serious Consideration your Majesty's most gracious Speech, do beseech your Majesty to believe it is a great Affliction to us, to find our selves oblig'd, at present, to declare against the granting your Majesty the Supply you are pleas'd to demand; conceiving it not agreeable to the Usage of Parliaments, to grant Supplies for Maintenance of Wars and Alliances, before they are signify'd in Parliament; for which Usage, if we might depart, the Precedent might be of dangerous Consequence in future Times, tho' your Majesty's Goodness gives us great Security during your Reign, which we beseech God long to continue. This Consideration prompted us, in our last Address, humbly to mention to your Majesty our Hopes, that before our meeting again, your Majesty's Alliances might be so fix'd, as that you might be graciously pleas'd to impart them to us in Parliament, that so our earnest Desires of supplying your Majesty might meet with no Impediment or Obstruction; being highly sensible of the Necessity of supporting, as well as making the aforemention'd Alliances, and which we still conceive so important to the Safety of your Majesty and your Kingdoms, that we cannot omit, upon all Occasions, humbly to beseech your Majesty, as we do now, to enter into a League, offensive and defensive, with the States General of the United Provinces against the Growth and Power of the French King, and for the Preservation of the Spanish Netherlands; and to make such other Alliances with other such of the Confederates, as your Majesty shall think fit and useful to that End: In doing which (that no Time may be lost) we humbly offer to your Majesty these Reasons for the expediting of it. 1. That if the entering into such Alliances shou'd draw on a War with the French King, it would be least detrimental to your Subjects at this Time of the Year, they having now fewest Effects within the Dominion of that King. 2. That tho' we have great Reason to believe the Power of the French King to be dangerous to your Majesty and your Kingdoms, when he shall be at more leisure to molest us; yet we conceive the many Enemies he has to deal withal at present, together with the Situation of your Majesty's Kingdoms, the Unanimity of the People in the Cause, the Care your Majesty hath been pleas'd to take of your ordinary Guards of the Sea, together with the Credit provided by the late Act for an additional Excise for three Years, make the entering into, and declaring Alliances very safe, until we may in a regular Way give your Majesty such further Supplies, as may enable you to support your Alliances and defend your Kingdoms. 3. And because of the great Danger and Charge which must necessarily fall upon your Majesty's Kingdoms, if, through want of that timely Encouragement and Assistance, which your joining with the States-General of the United Provinces, and other Confederates, wou'd give them, the said States, or any other considerable Part of the Confederates, shou'd the next Winter, or sooner, make a Peace, or a Truce with the French King —Having thus discharg'd our Duty, in laying before your Majesty the Danger threatning your Majesty and your Kingdoms, and the only Remedies we can think of, for the securing and quieting the Minds of your Majesty's People, with some few of those Reasons which have mov'd us to this, and our former Addresses on these Subjects; We most humbly beseech your Majesty, to take the Matter into your serious Consideration, and to take such Resolutions, as may not leave it in the Power of any neighbouring Prince, to rob your People of that Happiness which they enjoy under your Majesty's gracious Government; beseeching your Majesty to rest confident and assured, that when your Majesty shall be pleas'd to declare such Alliances in Parliament, we shall hold our selves oblig'd, not only by our Promises and Assurances given, and now with great Unanimity reviv'd in a full House; but by the Zeal and Desires of those whom we represent, and by the Interest of all our Safeties, most chearfully to give your Majesty from time to time such speedy Supplies and Assistances, as may fully and plentifully answer the Occasions, and by God's Blessing preserve your Majesty's Honour and the Safety of the People. All which is most humbly submitted to your Majesty's great Wisdom.'
An Exception made to it.
After the reading of this Address in the House, it was observ'd and objected, 'That there was but one Reason given in it for declining the granting Money, and that was that it was unprecedented, about which they were not satisfy'd.' On the other side it was said, 'There might be other Reasons assign'd against giving of Money before the Alliances, but they rather desired to spare them;' only in general they said, 'Twas not reasonable to grant Money before there was a Change (they wou'd not say of Counsellors, but) of Counsels; and a hearty undertaking these Alliances, wou'd be the best Demonstration of that Change: For the swerving from this Interest and Part, was the Step by which we went awry, and the returning thereto wou'd restore us to our right Place and Way.'
A Gentleman, likewise produc'd and read the King's Speech of Feb. 10, 1667. which shews the proper Course and Practice, that Kings first communicate their Alliances made before they demand Supplies upon the Account of them.
And let fall.
Upon this the Exception was let fall.
But the grand Objection manag'd against it was upon the main Point of the Address, wherein they desired his Majesty to make a League offensive and defensive with the Dutch, &c.
Those who were against this Particular, (or particularizing) in the Address, spoke to this Effect.
This is an Invasion upon his Majesty's Prerogative of making Peace, War and Leagues, and it is the worse for the Distinction that is used, in respect of the Dutch and the rest, by which you give express Directions as to the Dutch, and referring to his Directions as to the others, it looks and gives an Umbrage, as if what he was to do was by our Leave.
The ancient Land-Marks, the Boundaries between King and People must not be remov'd: This Power, is one of the few Things entirely reserv'd to the Crown. Parliaments are summon'd to treat de Arduis: But, de quibusdam Arduis is unprecedented.
The Marriages of the Royal Family is such a peculiar Thing reserv'd to the King, and the Matter of Lady Arabella is an Instance. Queen Elizabeth resented it highly that the Parliament should propound her marrying; and she said, however it was well they did not name the Person: If they had nam'd the Person it had been intolerable. Now here you name the Persons, you would have the King ally.
If you come so far, you may come to draw a Treaty, and propose to the King to sign it. By this, you would put a great Indecorum on the King: He is now concern'd as a Mediator at Nimeguen, and it would be an indecent Thing for him, at the same Time, to declare himself a Party. It is believed the House of Austria (tho' they sent full Powers to Nimeguen for the Purpose) never intended to conclude a Peace. But it was an absurd Thing for them to declare so in public: There must be public Decorum.
This is the way for the King to have the worse Bargain with the Confederates; for they, observing how he is importun'd, and as it were, driven to these Alliances, will slacken and lessen those advantageous Offers, which, otherwise, they would be forc'd to make.
And again, and again, they said his Majesty did agree with the House in the end, and they did not doubt but he would prosecute it by the same means as was desired. But his Prerogative was not to be encroach'd upon. This manner of proceeding would never obtain with the King; nay it would make the Address miscarry with him.
On the other Side, several spoke to this Effect:
'We ought to consider, we are upon the Question of agreeing to an Address drawn by our Committee, by an Order; it they have not, in matter and manner, corresponded with our Direction or Intention, we have cause to disagree: But here the Exception taken, and cause press'd why we should not agree with them, is because they have observ'd the very Words and Substance of our Order, which exactly joins with this Draught.
This pass'd on Wednesday, upon a full Debate, in a very full House, two only contradicting, and not one speaking, or thinking the King's Prerogative was touch'd, and therefore, it is strange it should be made the great Objection and Question of this Day.
But the Prerogative is not at all intrench'd upon: We do not pretend to treat, or make Alliances; We only offer our Advice about them, and leave it with the King. He may do as he pleases; either make, or not make them. It is no more than other Persons may do to the King; for, doubtless, the Privy-Council may advise him in this Particular, and why not his great Council? This Rate of Discourse would make the King's Prerogative consist merely in not being advis'd by his Parliament, of all People.
[Rush. Coll. 41, 42, 45, 46.
There have been manifold Precedents for such Advices. Leagues have been made by Advice of Parliament, and have been ratified in Parliament. In Edw. 3. Rich. 2. and especially in Henry the 5th's time, with Sigismund the Emperor and King of the Romans; and Henry the 5th was a magnanimous Prince, and not to be impos'd upon. 18. Jac the Parliament advis'd the King about making and managing a War. And we may well remember our own advising the first Dutch War, and making Leagues is less than War.
But, if there were no Precedent in this particular Law, it would be no Objection; for Matter of Advice is not to be circumscrib'd by Precedent, if there be a new Law that a Prince should join in a War, together with another Prince, when that Prince was too patent before; and that when this was discern'd and a Peace made, yet Succours should continually go out of the first Prince's Dominions to the Service of the other Prince, and that notwithstanding several Addresses and Advices to the contrary.
Tis true, as objected, that the Commons have sometimes declin'd advising in this Matter of War, so propos'd to them. But that shews not their want of Right to meddle therewith, but rather the contrary. The very truth is, it has been the Desire and Endeavour of Kings in all Ages to engage the Parliaments in advising War, &c. that so they might be oblig'd to supply the King to the utmost for, and through it. But they, out of a prudent caution, have sometimes wav'd the matter, left they should engage farther or deeper than they were aware, or willing.
Since his Majesty is treating as Mediator at Nimiguen about the general Peace, it is a great Reason why he should specify the Alliances desired, as we have done, that we might make it known; we are far from desiring such Alliances as might be made by, and with a general Peace; but, on the contrary, coveting such as might prevent and secure us against that dangerous and formidable Peace.
Doubtless, the Confederates will offer honourable and worthy Terms; their Necessity is too great to boggle or take Advantages: Nor will they think the League less worthy, because we advise it; but rather value it the more, because it is done unanimously by the King, with the Advice and Applause of his People in Parliament.
[Rush. Collect. 171, 172, 177, 178.]
We cannot suppose that our proceeding thus to his Majesty, will prejudice our Address, or endanger its Miscarriage, since it is for his Majesty's Advantage; in that it obliges us to supply him to all Degrees thro' this Affair: And the more particular it is, the more still it is for the King's Advantage. For, if it had been more general, and the King had thereupon made Alliances, whatever they were, they might have thought and said they were not the Alliances intended; and it might be us'd as an Excuse or Reason for the not giving Money to supply his Majesty hereafter; but this, as it is now, doth most expressly, strictly and particularly bind us up.
We reflect that a great deal of time, and precious time, has been spent since, and in our Address on this Subject; and finding no effectual Fruit, especially of our last Address, we have cause to apprehend we are not clearly understood in what we meant. Now it is the ordinary way in pursuing Discourse in such case, and 'tis proper and natural for us to speak out, more explicitly and particularly, and tell his Majesty, that what we have meant is a League offensive and defensive: And to persuade us again to address on, in more general terms, as before, is to persuade us that, as we have done nothing these ten Weeks, so we shall do nothing still.
And since his Majesty, in his late Message and last Speech, has been pleased to demand 600,000 l. for answering the Purpose of our Addresses, and assures us, that the Money shall not be employ'd to other Uses, than we would have it employ'd; it is most seasonable for us to declare plainly the Use and Purpose we intend, that so it may be concerted and clearly understood on all hands. And, therefore it is well done, to mention to his Majesty those express Alliances; we thinking no other Alliances worth the said Sums; and we, withal, promising and undertaking that his Majesty shall have this and more for these Ends.
Nor have we any cause to apprehend, that his Majesty shall take amiss our advising Leagues in this manner: We have presented more than one Address for Alliances against the Growth and Power of the French King; and his Majesty hath received, admitted and answered them, without any Exception; and if we may address for Alliances against a particular Prince or State; why not for Alliances with a particular Prince or State? It cannot be less regular, or parliamentary than the former.
And moreover, tho' we know that punctual Precedents are on our sides, besides our Commissions by our Writs, to treat de Arduis & Argentibus Regem, Statum, & Defensionem Regni & Ecclesiæ Anglicanæ concernentibus; and beside the King's general Intimations in his printed Speech; yet, if it be said to be a decent and proper thing to have his Majesty's Leave and Consent before we proceed on such a matter, in such a manner as we now do, we say that that, in effect, is with us too: For, consider all our former Addresses, and his Majesty's Answers and Messages thereupon; and it will appear that his Majesty has engag'd and encourag'd us too upon that Subject; and that which he expects and would have, is not to limit or check our Advice, but to open and enlarge our Gifts. His Majesty appears content to be thoroughly advised, provided he be proportionably furnished and enabled with Money; which we being now ready to do, we clearly and conducively present him our Advice for the Application of it, to prevent those Mistakes and Distrusts, which his Majesty says he finds some are so ready to make, as if he had call'd us together only to get Money from us, or for other Uses than we would have it employ'd.
And, truly, the advising those Alliances, together with assuring his Majesty thereupon to assist and supply him presently and plentifully to prosecute the same, is our only way of complying and corresponding with his last Speech. For, these Leagues, follow'd and supported by these Supplies, are the only means and methods to put his Majesty in the best condition, both to defend his Subjects, and offend his Enemies; and so there will be no fault in his Majesty, nor us; but his and our Security will be sufficiently provided for.
Beside it will be worse, it will be a very bad thing indeed, not to make the Address for this particular League, now, since we have resolv'd it already. Our Intention being to have the Dutch, &c. comforted, encourag'd and assur'd. We did order this on Wednesday; and there is public notice taken of it abroad and beyond Sea. If, therefore, we should now, upon solemn Debates, set the same aside, it would beget a great Doubt, Discomfort and Discouragement to them. It is one thing never to have order'd it; another to retract it.
1. Also it was said, that this was necessary; but not all that was necessary. For suppose, which was not credible, that France should be prevailed with to deliver up all Lorrain, Flanders, Alsace, and other conquer'd Places, are we safe? No, he has too many Hands, too much Money; and this Money is in great measure (a Million Sterling at least) supply'd from hence. We must depress him by Force, as far as may be. But farther, we must have Leagues and Laws to impoverish him: We must destroy the French Trade. This would quiet, and secure us; this would make our Lands rise; and this would enable us to set the King at case.
Upon the Conclusion, after a long Debate, the House (fn. 3) divided, whether this Particular of a League offensive and defensive with the Dutch should be left out of the Address, and it was carry'd in the Negative, Yeas 142, Noes 182.
The next day, May 26. The House had Notice, the King would receive their Address, and several Bills being mov'd to be read, it was generally agreed to proceed on nothing, but the French and Popery. After which, waiting upon his Majesty with their Address, He was pleas'd to Answer; that it was long, and of great Importance, that he would consider of it, and give them an Answer, as soon as he could.
Accordingly, on Monday the 28th, they were summoned to the Bauqueting-House, where his Majesty was pleas'd to shew his Resentment in this following Speech:
The King's resenting Speech upon it.
Could I have been silent, I would rather have chosen to be so, than to call to mind Things so unfit for you to meddle with, as are contain'd in some Parts of your last Address, wherein you have entrench'd upon so undoubted a Right of the Crown, that I am confident it will appear in no Age (when the Sword was not drawn) that the Prerogative of making Peace and War hath been so dangerously invaded. You do not content yourselves with desiring Me to enter into such Leagues, as may be for the Safety of the Kingdom, but you tell me what fort of Leagues they must be, and with whom; and, as your Address is worded, it is more liable to be understood to be by your Leave, than at your Request, that I should make such other Alliances, as I please, with other of the Confederates. Should I suffer this Fundamental Power of making War and Peace to be so far invaded (tho' but once) as to have the Manner and Circumstances of Leagues prescrib'd to Me by Parliament, 'tis plain that no Prince or State would any longer believe that the Sovereignty of England rests in the Crown; nor could I think myself to signify any more to foreign Princes, than the empty Sound of a King, Wherefore you may rest assured, That no Condition shall make me depart from, or lessen, so essential a Part of the Monarchy; And I am willing to believe so well of the House of Commons, that I am confident these ill Consequences are not intended by you. These are in short the Reasons why I can by no means approve of your Address; and yet, tho' you have declin'd to grant me that Supply which is necessary to the Ends of it, I do again declare to you, That as I have done all that lay in my Power since your last Meeting, so I will still apply myself, by all the Means I can, to let the World see my Care for the Security and Satisfaction of my People, altho' it may not be with those Advantages to them, which by your Assistance I might have procured.'
At the Conclusion of this Speech, his Majesty was pleas'd farther to declare his Pleasure to them, That the House be Adjourn'd till the 16th of July next; telling them, he would give them notice by his Proclamation when he intended they should sit again; which his Majesty was pleas'd to add would not be till the Winter, unless there should happen some extraordinary Occasion of calling them sooner.
Strange Behaviour of the Speaker.
The Members, after this Rebuke, return'd to the House, as it was said, greatly appall'd: Where several of them offering modestly to give vent to their present Thoughts, they were continually prevented by the Speaker; who affirm'd that, after the King's Pleasure was signify'd for an Adjournment, there was no Liberty of Speech. Nevertheless, many Persons insisting to be heard; He, without any Question put; of his own Motion, pronounc'd the House adjourn'd, and hastily quitted the Chair; to the no small Astonishment of the Members.
Meets again. ; The King's Message.
On the 15th Day of January both Houses of Parliament met according to Adjournment, after a Recess or Interval of a little above seven Months. But before they began any Business, the King sent them this following Message: 'That his Majesty had Matters of very great Importance to communicate to both Houses, in order to the Satisfaction of the late Addresses for the Preservation of Flanders. But it so happening, that Matters are not yet so ripe as within a few Days they will be; therefore his Majesty's Pleasure was, that they should be immediately adjourn'd till Monday the 28th of this Instant January.' On that Day his Majesty came to the House of Peers, and sending for the Commons, he made this remarkable Speech to both Houses:
And Speech to both Houses.
'My Lords, and Gentlemen,
When we parted last, I told you, That before we met again I would do that which should be to your Satisfaction; I have accordingly made such Alliances with Holland as are for the Preservation of Flanders, and which cannot fail of that End, unless prevented either by the Want of due Assistances to support those Alliances, or by the small Regard the Spaniards themselves must have to their own Preservation. The first of these I cannot suspect, by Reason of your repeated Engagements to maintain them; and I know you are so wise as to consider, That a War, which must be the necessary Consequence of them, ought neither to be prosecuted by Halves, nor to want such Assurances of Perseverance as may give me Encouragement to pursue it: Besides, it will not be less necessary to let our Enemies have such a Prospect of our Resolutions, as may let them see certainly, That we shall not be weary of our Arms, till Christendom be restored to such a Peace, as shall not be in the Power of any Prince alone to disturb.
'I do acknowledge to you, that I have used all Means possible, by a Mediation, to have procured an honourable and safe Peace for Christendom; knowing how preferable such a Peace would have been to any War, and especially to this Kingdom, which must necessarily own the vast Benefits it has receiv'd by Peace, while its Neighbours only have yet smarted by the War: But, finding it no longer to be hoped for by fair Means, it shall not be my Fault if that be not obtain'd by Force, which cannot be had any other Ways. For this Reason I have recall'd my Troops from France, and have consider'd, that, altho' the Dutch shall do their Parts, we cannot have less on ours than ninety Sail of Capital Ships constantly maintain'd, nor less than thirty or forty thousand Land-Men (with the Dependencies) to be employ'd upon our Fleets and elsewhere. And; because there shall be no fear of misemploying what you shall give to these Uses, I am contented that such Money be appropriated to those Ends as strictly as you can desire. I have given Testimony enough of my Care in that Kind, by the Progress I have made in Building the new Ships; wherein, for the making them more useful, I have directed such larger Dimensions, as will cost me above one hundred thousand Pounds more than the Acts allow. I have gone as far as I could in Repairing the Old-Fleet, and in Buying necessary Stores for the Navy and Ordnance; and in this and other Provisions, for better securing both my foreign Plantations and the Islands nearer home, I have expended a great deal more than the two hundred thousand Pounds you enabled me to borrow upon the Excise, altho' I have not found such Credit as I expected upon that Security. I have born the Charge both of a Rebellion in Virginia, and a new War with Algiers: I stand engag'd with the Prince of Orange for my Niece's Portion; and I shall not be able to maintain my constant necessary. Establishments, unless the new Impost upon Wines, &c. be continu'd to me, which wou'd otherwise turn only to their Profit to whom we least intend it.
'I hope these Things will need little Recommendation to you, when you consider your Promises in some, and the Necessity of the rest; and to let you see that I have not only employ'd my Time and Treasure for your Safety, but done all I could to remove all forts of Jealousies: I have marry'd my Niece to the Prince of Orange, by which I hope I have given full Assurances that I shall never suffer his Interests to be ruin'd, if I can be assisted as I ought to be, to preserve them. Having done all this, I expect from you a plentiful Supply suitable to such great Occasions; whereon depends not only the Honour, but, for aught I know, the Being of the English Nation, which will not be sav'd by finding Faults afterwards, but may be prevented by avoiding the chief Fault of doing weakly and by halves, what can only be hoped from a vigorous and thorough Prosecution of what we undertake. These Considerations are of the greatest Importance that ever concern'd this Kingdom, and therefore I would have you enter immediately upon them, without suffering any other Business whatsoever to divert you from bringing them to good Resolutions.'
Lord O-Brian's Motion for a solemn Funeral and a Monument to the Memory of the late King. 70,000 l. voted for that End.
The Session open'd with an unexpected Strain of (fn. 4) Loyalty, for before the House had consider'd any Part of his Majesty's Speech, having sat on part of the 30th of January, the Anniversary Fast, upon the Motion of the Lord (fn. 5) OBrian, whose Son had lately married the Lord-Treasurer's Daughter, they voted, 'The Sum of seventy thousand Pounds for a solemn Funeral of his late Majesty King Charles the First, and to erect a Monument for the said Prince of glorious Memory; the said Sum to be rais'd by a two Months Tax, to begin at the Expiration of the present Tax for building Ships.'
An Address to the King.
The next Day the House took the King's Speech into Consideration, and in return presented an Address to his Majesty at Whitehall, declaring their 'Thanks for his Care expressed for the Preservation and Encouragement of the Protestant Religion, in concluding a Marriage between his Niece and the Prince of Orange; beseeching him not to admit any Treaty of Peace, whereby the French King should be left in Possession of any greater Dominion or Power, than was left him by the Pyrenean Treaty: That both on our Parts, and the Parts of the Confederates, no Ship nor Vessel may be admitted to come out of any Port of France, but that the Ships and Men be seiz'd, and the Goods destroy'd: That he would please to provide that none of the Parties who should join in this Alliance and Confederacy against France, depart from the said Alliance, till the said King be reduced to the said Treaty: That neither we nor the Confederates admit any Trade with France, or suffer any Goods to be imported from thence on pain of Forfeiture: That his Majesty in making such Confederacies as necessary for attaining these Ends, shall never doubt of the Affections of his People. Lastly, they renew'd their former Protestations and Engagements to persevere in the Prosecution of the said War; and when he should be pleas'd to impart such Alliances and Confederacies to them in Parliament, they would give such ready Assistances, upon all Occasions, as might bring the War to a happy Conclusion.
The King's Answer.
To this Address the King return'd the following Answer in Writing, which was read in the House of Commons the 4th of February: 'That he was not a little surpris'd to find so much inserted in their Address of what should not be, and so little of what should: That his Speech was to both Houses jointly, and the Return ought to be from both: That in their Address of the 20th of May last, they did invite him to a League Offensive and Defensive with Holland against the French King, and for preserving the Spanish Netherlands; and upon his Declaration of such Alliances, assur'd such speedy Assistances as might fully answer the Occasion: That he hath made such Alliances, yet finds no Return but the old Promises upon new Conditions; and so he may be used to Eternity, should he seem satisfy'd with such Proceedings: That on the 28th of May last he told them, how highly he was offended at the great Invasion of his Prerogative; yet they took no notice of it, but added to their former ill Conduct new Invasions. They desir'd him to oblige his Confederates never to consent to a Peace till the most Christian King be reduc'd to the Pyrenean Treaty; a Determination fitting only for God Almighty, since none but he can tell the Terms of Peace who knows the Event of War: They desire him not to suffer a Ship of theirs to come from France under Pain of Confiscation, not excepting Allies, Prince, or Ambassadors (if any among them:) That he did not believe any Assembly of Men ever gave so great and public a Provocation to the whole World, without so much as considering to provide one Ship, Regiment, or Penny towards justifying it: That, however, if by their Assistance he might be put into Arms sufficient for such a Work, he would not be weary till Christendom be restor'd to such a Peace, that it should not be in the power of one Prince to disturb it: That the Rights of making and managing War and Peace were in his Majesty; and if they thought he would depart from any Part of that Right, they were mistaken: the Reins of Government were in his Hands, and he had the same Care to preserve them there, as to preserve his own Person. He kept both his People's Protection and Safety; and that if the House of Commons would encourage his Majesty to go further in /?/, they must consider of raising speedy Supplies; for from the Consideration of those he must take his Measures.'
Shortly after the Commons resolv'd upon a Supply, but with some strict Limitations. At the same time they undertook to regulate such Grievances as arose from their own Privileges; and took off all written Protections which had been granted by several Members to such as were not really their Servants, to an incredible Number; and particularly voted, 'That no Protection should be allow'd to any but their menial Servants, actually in Service, and that not without a written Certificate.'
An Address voted, that his Majesty would declare War against France. ; Sent up to the Lords, where it stops. ; The King comes to the House. ; A short Recess.
The next thing the House did, was to hasten the Poll-Bill for raising of Money; and on the 14th of March they express'd their Impatiency for a War in these Terms: 'Upon several Motions made for considering the deplorable Condition of the Nation, resolv'd in a Committee of the whole House, That it is their Opinion, that an Address be presented to the King, humbly to advise his Majesty, that his Majesty, to quiet the Minds of his loyal Subjects, and to encourage the Princes and States, Confederates against the French King, would be graciously pleased to proclaim and enter into an actual War with the French King; and to give his Majesty Assurances, That this House will constantly stand by and aid his Majesty, in the Prosecution thereof, with necessary and plentiful Supplies and Assistances; and that his Majesty would presently dismiss the French Ambassador, and recal his from France and Nimeguen.' Which Address was the next Day drawn up accordingly, and sent to the Lords for their Concurrence, but never proceeded further. For the King made haste to secure the Money-Bill, and on the 20th of March came to the House of Peers, and passed that and another, entitled, An Act for Continuance of two former Acts, for preventing of Theft and Rapine upon the Northern Borders of England. In the Poll-Bill there was one strict appropriating Clause for the Money so levied, to be apply'd to no use but the intended French War; and also another Clause prohibiting the Importation of any French Commodities for three Years. Upon passing these Bills, by the King's Order, the Parliament was adjourn'd till the 11th of April, when both Houses met, and adjourn'd to the Monday following.
On the King's particular Appointment, (Mr. Edward Seymour the former Speaker being ill) the Commons chose a new one, Sir Robert Sawyer, one of the King's Council; and then adjourn'd to Monday the 29th of April. But in a few days Sir Robert Sawyer excus'd his Attendance in a Letter, that he could not follow the Service by reason of a violent Fit of the Stone, occasion'd by his long sitting one Day in the House; whereupon the old Speaker, Mr. Edward Seymour, was again chosen, and reinstated in the Chair.
Lord Chancellor Finch demands the Advice of both Houses, in his Majesty's Name. ; The Commons Vote thereon. ; The King's Reply.
Both Houses being met on Monday the 29th of April, and the King upon the Throne; the Lord-Chancellor Finch, in a long Speech, 'recited all the Addresses that had been made in relation to a War with France; what the King had already done in pursuance of the same, and joining in an effectual League with the Confederates to that End, and how ready the King was to pursue their Desires; but that now his Majesty had discover'd, that the Dutch were entering upon a Treaty of Peace with the French King, and that without his Consent or Privity; therefore his Majesty demands the Advices of his two Houses how to proceed.' Upon Consideration of this, on the 4th of May; the Commons directly voted, 'to give their humble Advice to his Majesty, that he would forthwith enter into the present Alliance with the Confederates, and an actual War with France, &c.' Besides this Advice, it was voted by a Majority of sixteen Voices, 'That the late Leagues, made with the States-General of the United Provinces, are not pursuant to the Addresses of this House, nor consistent with the Good and Safety of the Kingdom.' Upon which, two Days after, the King being disoblig'd, return'd this Answer, (by Mr. Secretary Williamson:) 'His Majesty having been acquainted with the Votes of the 4th Instant, is very much surpriz'd both with the Matter and Form of them; but if his Majesty had had Exceptions to neither, yet his Majesty, having ask'd the Advice of both the Houses, doth not think fit to give an Answer to any thing of that Nature, till he hath the concurrent Advice of both Houses.'
An Address voted to remove certain Counsellors. ; Read by Sir Tho. Clarges. ; And again by Mr. Powle.
The next Day, May the 7th, the House resolved, That an Address should be presented to his Majesty, for a speedy Answer to their Address of May 4. After which the Question being put, that an Address be presented to his Majesty, to remove those Counsellors who advis'd the Answers to the Addresses of May 26, and January 31 last, or either of them, it pass'd in the Affirmative: Yeas 154, Noes 139. A Debate likewise arising on the said Address, a Motion was made to adjourn, but was over-rul'd: Noes 144, Yeas 103. The Question was then put, that an Address be presented to remove the Duke of Lauderdale from his Majesty's Council and Presence, which pass'd in the Affirmative: Noes 92, Yeas 137. May the 8th, the Address was read for the first time by Sir Thomas Clarges, but several, Debates arising thereon, the House adjourned. May 10, Mr. Powle read the Address for the second Time, and the Question being put whether the House should proceed on the said Address, it pass'd in the Affirmative: Noes 174. Yeas 176. The House divided on the fourth and sixth Paragraphs, the first of which was carry'd by six, and the last by three Voices.
The Address was as follows:
(An Abstract of which only has hitherto been published.)
'We your Majesty's most humble and loyal Subjects, the Commons in this present Parliament assembled, do in all Duty and Thankfulness humbly acknowledge your Majesty's Grace and Favour, in demanding our Advice upon the State of your Affairs, in the present Juncture, wherein your Majesty's Honour, and the Safety of this Kingdom are so nearly concern'd. According to which Command of your Majesty, we did immediately enter upon Consideration of what was imparted to us by your Majesty's Order, and, after serious Examination, and weighing of the Matter, we did resolve upon an Advice; which, because of the Urgency of Affairs, and the Expedition they did require, we did present in that Form, as was not usual in a Matter of so great Importance, and which we then directed to excuse to your Majesty, upon that Consideration, and because we apprehended the Dangers were so imminent, that the Delay of the least Time might be a great Prejudice to your Majesty's Service, and the Safety of your Kingdom. After so much Time already lost, we thought it necessary to apply immediately to your Majesty by ourselves; which, in Matters of this nature, is wholly in the choice of this House, and hath been frequently practised by us; and, because these Occasions are so pressing upon your Majesty, and the whole Kingdom so deeply sensible thereof, we most humbly beseech your Majesty, to communicate to us the Resolutions your Majesty hath taken upon our said Advice, that thereby, these imminent Dangers may be timely prevented.
'And whereas the Commons conceive that the present Inconveniencies and Dangers under which the Kingdom now lies, might either totally, or in a great measure have been prevented, if your Majesty had accepted of that Notice which in all Humility and Faithfulness we presented to your Majesty on the 26th of May last, and which we reiterated to your Majesty on the 31st of January ensuing, the refusing of which Advice, and dismissing the Parliament in May last, was the Occassion of those ill Consequences which have since succeeded both at Home and Abroad; all which have arisen from those Misrepresentations of our Proceedings, which have been suggested to your Majesty by some particular Persons in a clandestine Way, without the Participation and Advice, as we conceive, of your Council-Board, as tho' we had invaded your Majesty's Prerogative of making Peace and War: Whereas, we did only offer our humble Advice in Matters wherein the Safety of the Kingdom was concern'd, which is a Right was never yet question'd in the Times of your Royal Predecessors; and, without which your Majesty can never be safe: Upon which Ground your Majesty was induc'd to give us such Answers to those two Addresses; rejecting our Advice, as thereby your Majesty's good Subjects have been infinitely discourag'd, and the State of your Majesty's Affairs reduc'd to a most deplorable Condition: We do therefore most humbly desire that, for the Good and Safety of this Kingdom, and the Satisfaction of your Subjects, your Majesty would be graciously pleased to remove those Counsellors who advis'd the Answers to our Addresses of the 26th of May, and 31st of January last, or either of them.
And we do, farther, most humbly desire your Majesty favourably to accept this our humble Petition and Address, as proceeding from Hearts truly devoted to your Majesty's Service; and that, as we have never yet sail'd of giving Testimony of our Affection and Loyalty, to your Majesty's Person and Government, so your Majesty may rest confidently assur'd, that we shall never be wanting to support your Majesty's Greatness and Interest, while your Majesty relies on our Councils; which can have no other End, than what sincerely tends thereto, notwithstanding any sinister or self-interested Endeavours to make Impressions on your Majesty to the contrary.'
After this Address had been read, a Motion was made to adjourn the House, but over-rul'd on a Division: Yeas, 150; Noes, 158. A Motion being then made, that the Address relating to the Duke of Lauderdale, might be added to this, the following Paragraph was added:
The Duke of Lauderdale expresly nam'd in it.
'And farther we humbly beseech your Majesty, that the Duke of Lauderdale may be remov'd from your Presence and Councils.'
Mr. Secretary Williamson.
The next Day, Mr. Secretary Williamson, giving the House to understand that his Majesty would receive their Address that Afternoon; added by Command: That his Majesty expected they would dispatch the Supply, or he should be oblig'd to lay up several of the great Ships already provided, and to disband many of the Forces newly rais'd. This gave rise to a Debate; and an Adjournment being propos'd, it pass'd in the Negative: Yeas 177, Noes 178.
The next Day his Majesty prorogu'd both Houses to the 23d Instant, having first answer'd the Address extempore, (according to Mr. Echard, tho' the Parliament Journals make no such mention) to this purpose, 'That he was much surpriz'd at the Extravagancy of their Address, and unwilling at present to give it such an Answer as it deserv'd.'