The History and Proceedings of the House of Commons: Volume 1, 1660-1680. Originally published by Chandler, London, 1742.
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The fourth Parliament, 1679. ; Prorogu'd.
October 17, 1679, the new Parliament met and took the Oaths before certain Lords deputed by the Duke of Ormond Lord-Steward of the Houshold, for that purpose; after which the Parliament were prorogued till January 26.
At which time they met again, and his Majesty vouchsafed to attend, and express himself from the Throne, to the following purpose:
The King's Speech.
'That, when he declar'd in Council, his Intention of putting off the Parliament to a time so remote as November, it was not without mature Consideration; that he could not be persuaded from any thing that had happened since, in reference to Affairs within the Kingdom, to alter or repent of that Resolution; that, notwithstanding, considering the present Danger which threatned some of our Neighbours and Allies, he thought fit to appoint a Day for their meeting again in April; yet the Distractions and Jealousies at home were of such a nature, and so heightened and improved by the Malice and Industry of ill Men, that he was unalterably of opinion, That a longer Interval of Parliament would be absolutely necessary for composing and quieting of Men's Minds: In order to which, he was afraid the most proper Remedies would prove ineffectual, without the Assistance of some farther time. He resolved, therefore, that, on the said Meeting in April, there should be a farther Prorogation, unless the Condition of our Allies abroad did then require our immediate Assistance.'
The Parliament prorogu'd six times. ; Meets again, 1680.
The Lord Chancellor, by his Majesty's Command, prorogu'd the Parliament to the 15th of April; from which Day it was again prorogu'd five times more; but on the 22d of October, met for the Dispatch of Business, when his Majesty was pleased to make the following Speech:
The King's Speech to both Houses.
'My Lords, and Gentlemen,
The several Prorogations I have made, have been very advantageous to our Neighbours, and very useful to me; for I have employed that time in making and perfecting an Alliance with the Crown of Spain, suitable to that which I had before with the States of the United Provinces, and they also had with Spain, consisting of mutual Obligations of Succour and Defence. I have all the reason in the world to believe, that what was so much desired by former Parliaments, must needs be very grateful to you now: For though some, perhaps, may wish these Measures had been taken sooner; yet no Man can with reason think that it is now too late; for they who desire to make these Alliances, and they who desire to break them, shew themselves to be of another opinion. And as these are the best Measures that could be taken for the Safety of England, and Repose of Christendom, so they cannot fail to attain their End, and to spread and improve themselves farther, if our Divisions at home, do not render our Friendship less considerable abroad.
'To prevent those as much as may be, I think fit to renew to you, all the Assurances which can be desired, that nothing shall be wanting on my part to give you the fullest Satisfaction your Hearts can wish. for the Security of the Protestant Religion; which I am fully resolved to maintain against all the Conspiracies of our Enemies, and to concur with you in any new Remedies, which shall be proposed, that may consist with the preserving the Succession of the Crown in its due and legal course of Descent. And, in order to this, I do recommend it to you, to pursue the further Examination of the Plot, with a strict and an impartial Enquiry. I do not think myself safe, nor you neither, till that Matter be gone through with, and therefore it will be necessary that the Lords in the Tower be brought to their speedy Trial, that Justice may be done.
'I need not tell you what danger the City of Tangier is in, nor of what Importance it is to us to preserve it. I have, with a mighty Charge and Expence, sent a considerable Relief thither; but constantly to maintain so great a Force as that War will require, and to make such new Works and Fortifications, without which the Place will not be long tenable, amounts to so vast a Sum, that without your Support, it will be impossible for me to undergo it: Therefore I lay the Matter plainly before you, and do desire your Advice and Assistance.
'But that which I value above all the Treasure in the World, and which I am sure will give me greater Strength and Reputation both at home and abroad, than any Treasure can do, is, a perfect Union among ourselves. Nothing but this can restore the Kingdom to that Strength and Vigour which it seems to have lost, and raise us again to that Consideration which England hath usually had.
'All Europe have their Eyes upon this Assembly, and think their own Happiness or Misery, as well as ours, will depend upon it. If we should be so unhappy, as to fall into such a Misunderstanding among ourselves, as would render our Friendship unsafe to trust to, it will not be to be wondered at, if our Neighbours should begin to take new Resolutions, and perhaps such as may be fatal to us.
'Let us therefore take care that we do not gratify our Enemies, and discourage our Friends by any unreasonable Disputes. If any such do happen, the World will see it was no Fault of mine; for I have done all that was possible for me to do, to keep you in Peace while I live, and to leave you so when I die. But from so great Prudence and good Affection of yours, I can fear nothing of this kind, but do rely upon you all, that you will use your best Endeavours to bring this Parliament to a good and happy Conclusion.'
After this Speech, the Lord Chancellor, by his Majesty's Command, directed the Commons to return to their House, and to proceed to the Choice of a Speaker, when William Williams Esq; was unanimously elected; and was approved the next Day by his Majesty.
The first Debate began October 26, five Days after the Meeting of the Parliament, which the Lord Russel opened with the following Speech:
'Mr. Speaker, Sir, seeing by God's Providence, and his Majesty's Favour, we are here assembled, to consult and advise about the great Affairs of the Kingdom, I humbly conceive it will become us to begin first with that which is of most consequence to our King and Country, and to take into consideration how to save the main, before we spend any time about Particulars. Sir, I am of opinion, that the Life of our King, the Safety of our Country and Protestant Religion, are in great danger from Popery; and that either this Parliament must suppress the Power and Growth of Popery, or else that Popery will soon destroy, not only Parliaments, but all that is near and dear to us. And therefore I humbly move, that we may resolve to take into our consideration in the first Place, how to suppress Popery, and to prevent a Popish Successor; without which all our Endeavours about other Matters will not signify any thing, and therefore this justly challengeth the Precedency.'
Sir Henry Capel.
'Mr. Speaker, Sir, I stand up to second that Motion, and to give some Reasons, with your Permission, why I agree in it; not doubting but other Persons will be of the same opinion, if they have the same Sentiments of what Influence the Popish Party have had in the Management of most of our Affairs both at home and abroad, for many Years last past; and how that Party hath increased, and been encouraged. Sir, I remember, that, after his Majesty's happy Restoration, it was thought convenient that an Act of Uniformity should pass, as the best Law that could be invented, to secure the Church from the Danger of Popery and Fanaticism, and accordingly it did pass in the Year 1662; but in the Year 1663, some, that then managed the great Affairs of State, or at least had great Interest with his Majesty, were of another opinion: For they had prevailed with him to grant a Toleration and Indulgence, and to make a Declaration to that purpose. The Parliament assembling soon after, thought it very strange, that in one Year an Act of Uniformity should be the best way to preserve the Church, and that in the next Year, a Toleration and Indulgence: therefore, after a serious Debateabout it, in February 1663, they made an Address to his Majesty, humbly representing how it would reflect upon the Wisdom of that Parliament, to have such an Alteration made so soon; and that such Proceedings, for aught they could foresee, would end in Popery. Upon which his Majesty, out of his great Goodness, stopped the issuing out of the said Toleration, hearkening rather to the Advice of his Parliament, than to any private Counsellors. Sir, I cannot inform you who it was that gave that Advice to his Majesty, nor certainly affirm they were popishly affected; but, if I may take the liberty to judge of a Tree by its Fruit, I have some reason to think so; because I find by Coleman's Letters, and other Discoveries, that a Toleration and Indulgence should be one of the great Engines they intended to use for the establishing of Popery in this Nation. But the Project thus failing at this time, they were forced to wait with Patience until they could have another opportunity; employing in the mean time their diabolical Counsels, in weakening the Protestant Interest, (in order to a general Destruction of it) by engaging us in a War with Holland. In which the French acted the same Part in the Behalf of the Dutch, as they did afterwards in our Behalf against them, 1672; very fairly looking on both times, while we poor Protestants with great Fury destroyed one the other. But this was not so strange, nor so plain as the dividing of our Fleet under the Command of Prince Rupert and General Monk, and the Design of destroying them as well as their Ships, and the rest of our Navy Royal at Chatham. And as they thus acted their part at Sea, so they did not forget to do their best ashore; in April 1666, some Persons that were then hanged, fairly confessed they had been treated with, and had treated with others, to burn the City of London in September following, of which Confession we then took as little notice, as we have of other Discoveries against Papists since; however, accordingly in September, thirteen thousand Houses of the City of London were burnt; and those that were taken in carrying on that Work, generously discharged without any Trial; and one Papist, that confess'd that himself and others did set the City on fire, was in great haste hanged, and so the Business was hushed up as completely as the late great Plot is like to be now, branding Hubert, that then made that Confession, with Madness; as now these last Witnesses with Perjury, Sodomy, and what not. However, these Businesses were not so carried, but his Majesty discerned some of the Intrigues of them, which made him alter his Councils, and, contrary to the Endeavours of that Party, enter into new Alliances, by making up that excellent League, usually called the Triple League; which put a stop to these Mens Designs as to Affairs abroad, but not to their Designs here at home. For having obtained the Oxford Act, and some others against the Dissenters, great Endeavours were used to have them executed severely, in expectation that the Dissenters would soon be made weary of living quietly under them, and in the end be glad of a Toleration; but the Dissenters deceived them, and submitted to the Laws; insomuch that in 1670 to 1671, there was hardly a Conventicle to be heard of in England: And might never have been more, if that Party had not been afraid of a great Disappointment thereby; wherefore to revive our Divisions, and to bring in (as they hoped) their own Religion, they employed all their Force again to get a Toleration. I say they did it; because it cannot be imagined it could be from any Protestant Interest; both Church-men and Dissenters publickly declaring their Detestation of it. And in 1672, it was obtained, printed, and published. After we had, in order to the carrying it on, broke that never to be forgotten triple League, sacrificed our Honour to the French, not only by making a strong Alliance with them, but by seizing the Dutch Smyrna Fleet, and then afterwards proclaiming War with them. Which War continued in order to ruin us both; for the French proved but Lookers-on at Sea, (as they had done when engaged with the Dutch in 1665,) though great Conquerors at Land, especially of the Protestants in Germany and Holland. And as this Toleration was accompanied with these great Alterations in Affairs abroad, so it was backed, 1. With a great Minister of State at the Helm at home, who was so confident of the refixing Popery here, that he could not forbear to declare himself to be of that Religion; I mean my Lord Treasurer Clifford: as also, 2. With a great Army at Blackheath, ready upon all occasions: and, 3. With the greatest Violation on the Property of the Subject, that ever happened in this Nation, the seizing of one Million and an half, or thereabout, in the Exchequer. All which indeed made our Condition desperate, and, as many thought, past Retrieve. But Mr. Speaker, here again the Goodness and Wisdom of his Majesty saved us, refusing to follow such pernicious Counsels; upon which Clifford not only lost his Place, but his Life too, breaking his Heart (as is by most believed) to see himself so disappointed in this great Design. And here, as we can never too much detest my Lord Clifford, and such others, who contrived our Ruin; so we can never sufficiently admire his Majesty's Royal Care, in working out our Security, by refusing to follow any Advice that tended to those Ends. And therefore, to the great Disappointment of that Party, at the Request of the House of Commons at their next Meeting, he recalled the said Toleration, disbanded the Army, and in convenient time made a Peace with Holland. But though this Party were thus defeated of their Design, yet not so discouraged as to give it over. They changed their Measures, but not their Principles; and although they desisted from farther aiming at a Toleration, yet they no ways neglected pursuing a Reformation; but in order thereto, prosecuted a Correspondence formerly began for that purpose with the French King, and, by promising him considerable Supplies, to carry on the War he was then engaged in, secured themselves, as they thought, of his Assistance for the settling of Popery here. Accordingly, it is not unknown, what a Party of Men, and what Quantity of Ammunition, and other Necessaries for War, were sent to the French King, during the War he was then engaged in; and how it was done contrary to the Advice of the Parliament, and the Solicitations of most of the Princes in Europe, and true Interest of England, to the Astonishment of all good Men; especially because it was contrary to his Majesty's own Proclamation, and when the French had declared they made that War for Religion, endeavouring to force the Dutch to allow of Popish Churches. However such was the Strength of this Party, that this Assistance was continued until the French King was willing to make a Peace, and then who more instrumental than our Ministers to effect it? Several Embassadors, and Plenipotentiaries too, being sent as well to the Court of Spain, as Germany and Holland, for that purpose. And at last, the Dutch being weary, and consumed with the War, they were persuaded to be willing for a Peace, and accordingly the 10th of January 1676, entred into a Treaty with us for a general Peace, to be accomplish'd by such ways and means as are therein prescribed. Which League was kept private for some time, and instead of any Discovery thereof, about the end of February following, (the Parliament being then soon after to assemble) a great noise was made of entring into a War with France, it being concluded, that nothing like that would incline the Parliament to give Money, nor the People freely to part with it, because it was the only way to extinguish those Fears they lay under, by reason of the growing Greatness of France. At the Meeting of the Parliament, the Project was set on foot with all the Art and Industry imaginable; and so far were the major Part of the Members persuaded of the Reality thereof, that they were inclinable to give a great Sum of Money for the carrying on of the War; but while they were in consultation about it, the League formerly mentioned, agreed at the Hague, was unluckily made (in some measure) public, and occasioned a great Jealousy of the Reality of the pretended War. And the greater, because upon an Enquiry, they could not find there were any Alliances made to that purpose. And yet notwithstanding this, and the great Endeavours of some worthy Members of that Parliament, (now of this;) an Army of thirty thousand Men were raised, and a Tax of above 1,200,000 Pounds was given. And then, instead of a War, a general Peace, according to that Treaty agreed with Holland, was presently made. By which that Party thought they had secured, not only the Power of France, but the Men and Money here raised at home, to be made serviceable for their ends; there wanting nothing but a Popish King to perfect all these Designs. For which we have great reason to believe they had made all necessary Preparation, as well by employing Men and Money, to find out wicked Instruments to take away the King's Life, as by providing one (fn. 1) Cleypole to be a Sacrifice, to make an atonement for the Act, and to cast the Wickedness thereof on the Fanatics. To which purpose the said Cleypole was really imprisoned some time before in the Tower, upon the Evidence of two Witnesses, that he should say, that he and two hundred more had engaged to kill the King, the next time he went to NewMarket. For which, in all probability, he had as really been hanged, if the breaking out of the Plot had not prevented their Designs. Then was Cleypole, the next Term after, publickly cleared at the King's-Bench Bar, the Witnesses appearing no more against him. Thus were we again reduced to a miserable condition; but it pleased God, by the Discovery of the Plot by Dr. Oates, once more to save us; whose Evidence (he being but one Witness) they thought at first to have out-braved; but some of them being so infatuated as to kill Justice Godfrey, and Coleman so unfortunate as to leave some of his important Papers in his House, notwithstanding the time he had to convey them away, it wrought so great a Fermentation in the People, as that there was no Remedy, but that the farther Pursuit of the Plot must be again laid aside, and a fair Face put upon things. And so accordingly there was for a few Months; but how, after Wakeman's Trial, Things turned again, what Endeavours have been since used to ridicule the Plot, to disparage the old Witnesses, to discourage new ones, to set up Presbyterian Plots, and to increase our Divisions, I suppose must be fresh in every Man's Memory here, and therefore I shall not offer to trouble you therewith.
'But, Sir, I cannot conclude without begging your Patience, while I observe how things have been carried on in Scotland and Ireland, answerable to what was done here.
'In Ireland, the Papists are at least five to one in Number to the Protestants, and may probably derive from their Cradle an Inclination to massacre them again: at least the Protestants have no Security, but by having the Militia, Arms, and the Command of Towns and Forts in their hands. But about the same time, or a little before that the Toleration came out here, in 1672, an Order went from hence, which, after a long Preamble of the Loyalty and Affection of the Papists to his Majesty, required the Lord Lieutenant and Council to dispense with the Papists wearing of Arms, and living in Corporations, and a great many other things in their favour; of which they have made such use, as that the Plot there was in as good readiness as that here: but how carried on, and how Endeavours were there also used to stifle it, will appear when your Leisure may permit you to examine those Witnesses.
'In Scotland, the Government is quite altered, the Use of Parliaments in a manner abolished, and the Power of that Government lodged in a Commissioner and Council, a standing Army of twenty two thousand Men settled, all Endeavours used to divide the Protestant Interest, and to encourage the Papists By which we may conclude, that the same Interest hath had a great hand in the Management of Affairs there also.
'And, Sir, may we not as well believe, that the World was at first made of Atoms, or by chance, without the Help of an omnipotent Hand, as that these Affairs in our little World have been thus carried on, so many Years together, so contrary to our true Interest, without some great original Cause, by which the Popish Interest hath so far got the Ascendant of the Protestant Interest, that, notwithstanding, all his Majesty's Endeavours, Things have been strangely overruled in favour of that Party; how and which way, his Majesty's Declaration made in April 1679, is to me a great Manifestation.
'Sir, I hope the Weight of the Matter I have discoursed on, will plead my Pardon with the House for having troubled you so long: I submit what I have said to your Judgment, humbly desiring a favourable Construction; and although I have said some things that are verystrange, and other things grounded only on Conjectures, yet I believe that no Man will have just reason to doubt the Probability of the Truth, if they will but consider what a potent Friend the Papists have had of James Duke of York, and how emboldened by the hopes of having him for King. And as it is not to be doubted but that they have had his Assistance, so they have had the French Embassador's too; who, by his frequency at the Palace, had seemed rather one of the Family and King's Houshold, than a Foreign Embassador; and by his Egress and Regress to and from his Majesty, rather a Prime Minister of State of this Kingdom, than a Counsellor to another Prince. And the Truth of all hath been so confirmed by Coleman's Letters, making the Duke's Interest, the French Interest, and the Papists Interest so much one, and by the many Witnesses that have come in about the Plot, that I think we may rather be at a loss for our Remedy, than in doubt of our Disease. And therefore, though I know the difficulties I may bring myself under, by having thus laid open some Men's Designs; yet seeing my King and Country have called me to this Service, I am resolved, that as my Father lost his Life for King Charles I. so I will not be afraid to adventure mine for King Charles II. and that makes me expose myself in his Service in this place.
'Sir, I think (seeing things are thus) without neglecting our Duty to our King and Country, nay to our God too, we cannot defer endeavouring the securing the King's Person, and Protestant Religion, by all lawful means whatsoever; and therefore I second the Motion that was made, that we may, in the first place, take into our consideration, how to suppress Popery, and prevent a Popish Successor; that so we may never return again to Superstition, Idolatry and Slavery, but may always preserve that pure Religion, to be the Religion of this Nation, for which so many of our Fore-fathers have suffered Martyrdom, I mean the Protestant Religion, as long as the Sun and Moon endures.'
Sir Francis Winnington.
'Mr. Speaker, Sir, the Popish Party have not only had a great influence on the Management of our Affairs, both foreign and domestic, while they could do it under a Disguise; but notwithstanding the Discovery of their whole Plot, have ever since gone on triumphant, as if they were not afraid of any Opposition that can be made against them. Although the most part of Dr. Oates's Discovery was no news to most Men; and the great Correspondence which Coleman had held with foreign Parts, had been generally observed for some Years: yet what Difficulties were there raised against believing of Oates's Testimony, and against apprehending of Coleman's Person, and seizing of his Papers; by which he had opportunity to carry away the most part, and by that means prevented a great deal of Evidence, which we should otherways have had against that Party; though by chance he left enough to hang himself. And as their Power, or the Réspect which was borne them, appeared in this; so their great Confidence in the never-to-be-forgotten Death of Sir Edmund-bury Godfrey, which doubtless they accomplished, (as to conceal Evidence, so to intimidate Justices and others from doing their Duty,) with great assurance, that those who did it should never have been brought to Justice. And I must confess, we took a strange unheard-of way, either to do that, or prevent the going on of the Plot: For in October, after the Plot broke out, no less than fifty-seven Commissions were discovered for raising of Soldiers, granted to several Popish Recusants, with Warrants to muster without taking the Oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy, or Test; counter-signed by the then Secretary of State. Of which the Parliament taking notice, they were soon after dissolved, in the midst of the Examination of the Plot. And the next that was called, though composed of true English Gentlemen, as soon as they fell severe upon Popery, had no better success; certainly, Sir, not by the Prevalency or Advice of any true English Protestants; and who then may be presumed to have given such Advice, I leave to your Judgment. These two Parliaments being thus dissolved, a third was summoned, but was not permitted to sit, but, on the contrary, put off by several Prorogations. At which the People being discontented, their Fears and Jealousies arising from the Papists increasing, from which they knew they could not be effectually secured but by a Parliament; several Counties and Cities joined in petitioning his Majesty for a Parliament. But it being foreseen that every thing that tended to make way for the Meeting of Parliaments, was dangerous, such was the Influence of that Party, as that they obtained a Proclamation, penned I think by Coleman himself, or by somebody that had no more love for the Protestant Religion than he, forbidding petitioning as seditious and tumultuous. And that nothing should be wanting to shew their Power, at length, by the Endeavours of some great Men, some credulous and ambitious Men were drawn in to be Abhorrers. Good God! Where were these Men's Senses, that in a time when the Nation was in such imminent danger, there should be any good Protestant that should abhor petitioning for a Parliament? But I hope this House will have a time to speak with those Gentlemen, and mark them with the Brand they deserve. And now that it was found, that there were a good, easy sort of credulous People that might be wrought upon, it was thought high time to have a Counter-Plot, that might swallow up that of the Papists, and restore them to their former Credit. How far this was carried on by good Men and bad, I am loth to particularize; but I cannot but observe, that Dangerfield had more Money and Encouragement given, while he was carrying on of that Plot, than I could ever hear he hath had since the Discovery of it. But though it be not strange, that the Papists should be so wicked, as to contrive such a Design, for the casting of the Plot upon the Protestants, though with the Loss of so many honest Mens Lives, as was intended; yet it is strange to see how willing many Protestants, especially of those who have reason to think themselves of the best fort, were to believe it; and how little pleased with Dangerfield, for the great service he did in discovering that wicked Plot. So powerful and so lucky are the Popish Party, in infusing of Animosities amongst us, tending to divide us, and so willing are we to entertain them to our Destruction. And as the Popish Party have been very industrious in the contriving of Reports and Plots, to remove the ill Reports they lie under, and have had a great influence in managing of Parliamentary Affairs; so we may presume they have had in the dispensing of Justice, as may appear by considering what hath been done by our Judges of late.
'At Wakeman's Trial, those Persons who at former Trials had been treated with that respect that is due to the King's Evidence, and whose Credit and Reputation had stood clear without Exception in all other Trials, were now not only brow-beaten, but their Evidence presented to the Jury as doubtful, and not to be depended on; and so at all other Trials of Papists from that time forward. By which many of the greatest Offenders were quitted and cleared as to the Plot, and those that were brought for defaming the King's Evidence, and suborning Witnesses in order thereto, very kindly treated, and discharged with easy Sentences, especially if Papists; but if Protestants, though only for printing or vending some unlicensed Book, were imprisoned and largely fined. But I beg leave to particularize in the Case of one Carr, who was indicted for printing a weekly Intelligence, called, The Packet of Advice from Rome; or, the History of Popery. This Man had a strange knack of writing extraordinary well upon that Subject, and the Paper was by most Persons thought not only very ingenious, but also very useful at this time, for the Information of the People, because it laid open very intelligibly the Errors and Cheats of that Church. However, upon an Information given to the Court of King's-Bench against this Carr, this Rule was made:
Ordinatum est, quod liber intitulat' The Weekly Packet, &c. non ulterius imprimatur, vel publicetur, per aliquam personam quamcunque. Per. Cur.
'I think it amounts to little less than a total Prohibition of printing any thing against Popery.
'The true English Protestants being thus prevented of having Parliaments to redress their Grievances, and to secure them against the Fears of Popery, as also from petitioning for Parliaments, or writing for the Protestant Religion, they had Recourse to their old Way of presenting Grievances by Juriès. But Advice being given, that some great Papists were concerned in the Presentment, particularly the Duke of York, the Jury was dismissed in an extrajudicial Manner, and so no Remedy in the World allowed for poor Protestants. What an unhappy Star were we born under, that Things should be thus carried against us, in the whole Course of our Government, whilst we have a wise Protestant King over us? What may not be expected under a Popish King, if it should be our Misfortune to have any? And therefore, I think, Sir, we ought to endeavour to prevent it, by consulting in the first place how to suppress Popery, and prevent a popish Successor, which is my humble Motion.'
Mr. Speaker, Sir, you have heard what an influence the Popish Party hath had in the Management of all our Affairs of greatest Importance, almost ever since his Majesty's happy Restoration; how the making of Peace, or War, or foreign Alliances, hath been over-ruled by that Party, to the great danger of the Nation, and Protestant Religion both at home and abroad: Insomuch as it may be justly feared, that there is a general Design to root out that Religion from the face of the Earth; which may not be difficult to be done, if by establishing Popery here, Assistance to the Protestants abroad may be prevented; or by destroying the Protestants abroad (which are so many Bulwarks to us) we should be left to resust alone. You have also heard how that Party hath influenc'd the Resolutions made touching Parliaments and Affairs here at home. The truth is, Sir, that Interest is crept into our Court, and hath a great power in our Councils; it is crept into our Courts of Justice, and hath a great Command in our Army, our Navy, our Forts, and our Castles, and into all Places upon which our Security depends. And it is impossible it should be otherwise, as long as we have a Popish Successor, and that Party the Hopes of a Popish King. And I humbly conceive that it is very obvious, that as long as that Party hath such a power, not only our Religion, but the Life of his Majesty, and the whole Government, is in danger. And therefore I think we cannot better comply with our Duty to our King and Country, than in resolving to use our utmost Endeavours to extirpate Popery, and prevent a Popish Successor; and therefore I would desire you would be pleased to put the Question.'
Resolved, nem. con. That it is the opinion of this House, that they ought in the first place to proceed effectually to suppress Popery, and prevent a Popish Successor.
The 27th of October, 1680.
Hugh Boscawen Esq; ; Moves for an Address to promise a Supply.
'Mr. Speaker, Sir, yesterday you made a Resolve, declaring what you intended to do in reference to Popery; by which you may conclude, you have made many Enemies at Court, or of such as usually frequent it. And it may justly be expected, that they will rather use their Endeavours to destroy you, than permit you to destroy them. And if we may take our Measures from the Power they have discovered, in the Dissolution of the last Parliaments, and many Prorogations of this, in a time when there was never more need of the sitting of Parliaments, because of the great danger that did arise from that Party, we may conclude, it may be possible for them to do the like again. Therefore, that we may not be wanting in doing what we can, in order to create in his Majesty a good Opinion of this House; let us make an humble Address to his Majesty, to assure him of our Loyalty, and Readiness to stand by him with our Lives and Fortunes. And, that, when his Majesty shall be pleased to grant us such Bills, as are absolutely necessary for the Security of the Protestant Religion, we will be ready to supply him, with what Money his Occasions may require for the support of his Government, and the Protestant Religion both at home and abroad.
'Sir, I do not move this without some Reason: I am jealous that those which are for the Popish Interest, do endeavour to represent this Parliament to his Majesty as fanatical and seditious; that we will do nothing but arraign his Government, wound his Ministers, destroy his Brother, and endanger his Royal Person; and that no Supplies can be expected from us. Which false Suggestions of that wicked Party, we may do well to prevent. And therefore, I humbly move you, that a Committee may be appointed to draw up some such Address upon the Debate of the House.'
It is oppos'd.
To which several Persons made Opposition, alledging that in the late long Parliament, they had often been drawn in, to give Money by such Addresses; and that, in that Parliament no such Addresses were ever made, but it ended in Money; because the Word of a House of Commons pledged to the King, is always to be understood, as may best preserve the Reputation of the House, which ought to be kept inviolable.
It was answered, That it was not strange that it was so in the long Parliament, being composed of so many Pensioncrs, who were to have a Share of what they gave; but the case being now altered, and the Parliament composed of Persons that disdained such wicked Practices, and the House being Masters of their own Votes, there could be no Danger of making such an Address in that House.
Resolved, That an Address be made to his Majesty, declaring the Resolution of this House, to preserve and support the King's Person and Government, and the Protestant Religion at home and abroad.
Sir Gilbert Gerrard.
'Mr. Speaker, I crave leave to mind you of a great Infringement which hath been made of the Liberty of the Subject, since the last Session of Parliament. Sir, many good Protestants thinking it very strange, that two Parliaments should be dissolved, without doing any thing material against Popery, and a third so often prorogued in a Time of such imminent Danger; and foreseeing the Ruin such Delays might bring upon them, resolved to petition his Majesty: and accordingly in several Counties and Corporations, Petitions, humbly praying his Majesty to let the Parliament sit, were drawn up, and signed by many thousands of his Majesty's good Subjects, in a peaceable and quiet Way, and delivered to his Majesty by no greater Number of Persons than is allowed. But although this was conformable to Law, and the Duty of good Subjects, considering what Danger his Majesty's Person and the Protestant Religion was in, yet it was traduced to his Majesty as seditious and tumultuous, and forbidden by a Proclamation, and great Affronts and Discouragements given to such, as either promoted or delivered the said Petitions; and at last several Persons in many Places were set up to declare at the Assizes, and other public Places, an Abhorrency and Detestation of such Petitioning.
'Sir, I humbly conceive the Subjects of England have an undoubted Right, to petition his Majesty for the sitting of Parliaments, and redressing of Grievances; and, that considering the Circumstances we are under, we have no Reason to lose it. If it should be our Unhappiness to have a popish. King, may he not be surrounded with Popish Counsellors, so as that poor Protestant Subjects may be debarred of all other Ways whatsoever of making known our Complaints to him; and must we lose this too? Sir, I think it is so necessary, and material a Privilege to the Subject, as that we ought, without loss of time, to assert our Rights to it: and therefore I humbly move you to make some Vote to that Purpose.'
Sir Francis Winnington.
'Mr. Speaker, Sir, I am not only of Opinion with that worthy Member that spoke last, as to making a Vote for asserting the Right of the Subject to petition their Prince, but also for chaftizing of those who have been so wicked and abominable, as to traduce it and abhor it. And to that purpose, I think, Sir, it will be convenient that we find out who advised or drew that Proclamation against it, and examine how a Petition that was made in Berkshire, was ordered to be taken off the File at a Quarter-Sessions, if worthy to be so called, there being but four Justices of the Peace, and two of them such obscure Persons as I cannot get their Names. And also make some Inspection into those Addresses that have been made against Petitioning, and by whom contrived, signed, or delivered. But this must be a Work of time; for the present, I humbly move you to pass one Vote to assert the Right of the Subject to petition the King, another of Censure on those Persons that have traduced it, and to appoint a Committee for your farther proceeding herein.'
Petitioning the King, voted to be the Right of the Subject.
Resolved, That it is, and ever hath been, the undoubted Right of the Subjects of England to petition the King, for the Calling and Sitting of Parliaments, and redressing of Grievances.
Resolved, That to traduce such Petitioning as a Violation of Duty, and to represent it to his Majesty as tumultuous or seditious, is to betray the Liberty of the Subject, and contributes to the Design of subverting the antient legal Constitution of this Kingdom, and introducing arbitrary Power.
'Resolved, That a Committee be appointed to enquire after all such Persons, that have offended against the Right of the Subject.
'Mr. Speaker, Sir, I am very glad these Votes have past so unanimously; for Popery and Arbitrary Government can never be set up in this Nation, if we could be sure of frequent Parliaments. And therefore the asserting of the Right of the Subject in any thing which tends to that, may be of great use to this Nation. But, Sir, seeing you have taken this Business into your Consideration, I think we may do well to go a little farther with it, even at this time. I am informed some Members of the House are guilty of having acted contrary to those Votes; and I am of Opinion, that as they were not willing that we should sit here; so that we should be as willing not to have them sit amongst us. For, if it were a great Crime in others, much more in those that were chosen to assert the Rights and Liberties of the People. It is very unlikely that Men of such Principles should make good Parliament-Men; and I think it will very well consist with the Justice of the House, to begin with a Reformation amongst ourselves; and therefore I humbly move we may first proceed against such.'
Being commanded to name such Members, he named Sir Francis Withins, who not being in the House, was ordered to attend the next day.
An Address for Pardon, to such as should make ; Discoveries of the Plot.
The same day, the House agreed, nem. con to the following Address: 'May it please your Majesty, We your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal Subjects, the Commons in Parliament assembled, being highly zealous for the Preservation of the Protestant Religion, your Majesty's Person and Government; and, resolving to pursue with a strict and impartial Enquiry into the execrable Popish Plot, which was detected in the two last Parliaments, and has been supported and carry'd on by potent and restless Practices, and Machi nations, especially during the late Recesses of Parliament, whereby several Persons have been terrify'd and discouraged from declaring their Knowledge thereof; do most humbly beseech your Majesty, That, for the Security of such Persons who shall be willing to give Evidence, or make farther satisfactory Discovery concerning the same, to this House, your Majesty would be pleas'd to issue out your Royal Proelamation, assuring all the said Persons of your gracious Pardon, if they shall give such Evidence within two Months after the date of such Proclamation.'
His Majesty's Answer.
To this Address his Majesty was pleas'd to reply, 'That he did intend to direct such a Proclamation, and was resolv'd not only to prosecute the Plot, but Popery also: And to take care of the Protestant Religion establish'd by Law: And, that if the House join'd with him, and went calmly on in their Debates, without Heats, he did not doubt, but to beat down Popery, and all that belong'd to it.'
Sir Robert Can expell'd.
The 28th, It having been prov'd, That Sir Robert Can, a Member, had publicly declar'd, That there was no PopishPlot, but, a Presbyterian Plot; and having, in his Defence, utter'd several reflecting Words against Sir J. Knight, another Member, who confirm'd the Evidence against him, the said Sir Robert Can was first order'd to the Tower, and then expell'd the House.
A second Address.
The 29th, The House agreed, nem. con. upon the following Address to his Majesty: 'May it please your most excellent Majesty: We your Majesty's most dutiful, &c. do with thankful Hearts acknowledge not only your Majesty's many former Royal Declarations of your Adherence to the Protestant Religion, in the Preservation and Protection thereof, but your farther Manifestation of the same, in your most gracious Speech to both Houses, at the Opening of this present Parliament, in which your Majesty is pleas'd to command us, strictly, and impartially, to prosecute the horrid Popish Plot; without which, we do fully assent to your Majesty's great Judgment, that neither your Majesty's Person, nor Government can be safe, nor your Protestant Subjects; it being Part of the Religion of Popery, whereever it can obtain, to extirpate all Protestants both Prince and People, which have caus'd in the Times of your Royal Ancestors, since the Reformation, that great Care to oblige their Subjects, against their Return to the Papal Yoke, in the very same Oaths, wherein they swear Allegiance to the Prince: And, as now the Eyes of all Protestant Kingdoms and States abroad, are upon us, and looking upon your Majesty, as the Royal Head of so many Protestant Countries, cannot but hope (upon a happy and solid Security in our Religion at home) that your Majesty will be the greatest Protection to them, from whom we may expect a mutual Assistance, as being involv'd in the same common Danger: As, we do humbly assure your Majesty, That we shall be always ready to preserve your Majesty's Person and Government; and to support the Protestant Religion, both at home and abroad; and, do humbly beseech your Majesty to esteem all Persons whatsoever, who shall otherwise represent us to your Majesty, as those who design to divide the Union between the King and his People, and defeat the Meeting and Sitting of Parliaments, that those Popish Designs may succeed, which they know cannot otherwise prosper; and, this they have made most undeniably evident in the Interval of Parliament, by contriving with unparallel'd Insolence, and mòst damnable and wicked Designs, to transfer their own Crimes upon so many of your Majesty's Subjects, loyal Protestant Nobility and Gentry, hoping thereby to destroy those who with the greatest Zeal and Integrity, endeavour to discover and prosecute them.'
To this Address, the King was pleas'd to answer as follows:
The King's Answer.
'I thank you very kindly, for your great Zeal for the Protestant Religion: And I do assure you, there shall be nothing wanting on my Part, abroad, or at home, to preserve it.'
The same day, the House Resolved, as follows:
That Sir Francis Withins, by promoting and presenting to his Majesty an Address, expressing an Abhorrence to petition his Majesty for the Calling and Sitting of Parliaments, hath betray'd the undoubted Rights of the Subjects of England.
Sir Francis Withins expell'd.
They then Ordered, That the said Sir Francis Withins be expell'd the House, for this high Crime. And, that he do receive his Sentence at the Bar of this House, upon his Knees, from Mr. Speaker, which was done accordingly.
Votes first order'd to be printed.
The 30th, The House Resolved, for the first time, That their Votes should be printed, being first perus'd and sign'd by the Speaker: And, That the Speaker nominate and appoint Persons to print the same.
Nov. 1. Mr. Trenchard acquainted the House, from the Committee, appointed to enquire after such Persons, as have offended against the Right of the Subject, to petition the King, for the calling and sitting of Parliaments, That Information was given to the said Committee, that the Lord Paston, Sir Robert Malverer, Sir Bryan Stapleton, Mr. Taylor and Mr. Turner, Members of the House, had discourag'd petitioning to his Majesty, for the calling and sitting of this Parliament; and had made Addresses to his Majesty, declaring their Dislike of such Petitions; and desired the Directions of the House how they should proceed therein.
Order to proceed against Members, who had address'd the King, against Parliaments.
Ordered, That the said Committee do receive such Informations as shall come before them against the said several Members, and all other the Members of this House, that have offended therein, and make Report hereof to the House.
Sir Francis Winnington.
The 2d, Sir Francis Winnington made a Report of what was found in the Lords Journal relating to the horrid Popish Plot.
Mr. Treby reports what by order of the secret Committee he reported to the last Parliament relating to the Popish Plot.
Votes against the Duke of York.
After some Debates thereupon, Resolved, 'That the Duke of York's being a Papist, and the Hopes of his coming such to the Crown, hath given the greatest Countenance and Encouragement to the present Designs and Conspiracies against the King and Protestant Religion.'
Resolved, 'That, in Defence of the King's Person and Government, and Protestant Religion, this House doth declare they will stand by his Majesty with their Lives and Fortunes; and that if his Majesty should come to any violent Death, which God forbid, they will revenge it to the utmost on the Papists.'
'Mr. Speaker, Sir, I have observed from the Reports that have been read, and all the Evidence that I have heard about the Popish Plot, that it hath its Original, as you have voted, from James Duke of York; and it is not probable, in my Opinion, that the Popish Interest can ever decline, as long as there is a Popish Successor, and they have such Hopes of his coming to the Crown; and therefore I humbly move you, that a Committee be appointed to draw up a Bill to disable James Duke of York from inheriting the imperial Crown of this Realm.'
'Mr. Speaker, Sir, if we consider the Train of ill Consequences, that attend the having of a Popish Successor, and the certain Miseries that must fall on this Nation, if ever we should have a Popish King; and how impossible the one, or improbable that the other can be prevented, but by disinheriting the Duke of York: I think that as we cannot disagree, as to the sadness of our Condition, so it will be hard to find out any other Way to secure us; and therefore I second the Motion that was made by that worthy Member, that a Committee be appointed to bring in a Bill to disinherit James Duke of York.'
'Mr. Speaker, Sir, we shall do ill to be mealy-mouthed, when our Throats are in such danger; therefore I will not be afraid to speak out, when speaking plain English is necessary to save our King and Country. Have we not heard, and is it not apparently true, that Peace and War, foreign Alliances, Meetings, Dissolutions, and Prorogations of Parliaments, Trials at Westminster-Hall, Resolutions in Council, and other Things of Importance, have been influenced by a Popish Party, or Interest? And can we, Sir, imagine that these great Things should be done by a less Man than James Duke of York? Hath not the Examination of the Plot, in which the King's Life and all our Safeties is so much concerned, been kept off to Admiration, and the Witnesses discouraged even to Despair? Have not Counter-plots been set up, and carried on with a strong Hand, and false Witnesses in abundance, to destroy the true ones? From what Cause can such strange, unheard-of Effects proceed, but from the Power and Influence of a Popish Successor? And we have no great reason to admire it, if we consider how usual it is for Politicians to be given to Flattery, and to be led by Ambition, and how natural it is for Courtiers and great Ministers of State to worship the rising Sun. And, Sir, is it not easy to foresee what great Miseries may come to this Kingdom by such kind of Managements? Can any Man imagine, that, as long as there is a Popish Successor, there will not be a Popish Interest, and that by his Assistance it shall not be strong enough to contest with the Protestant Interest? Or rather, have we not seen it for many Years already? And how can it be otherways, as long as no Office, small or great, is disposed of without his Approbation; no, not so much as Preferment in our Protestant Church? And I think, unless you can destroy that in which the Interest centers, you will never destroy the Interest itself.
'Sir, I have no Ill-will for the Duke's Person, but rather a great Veneration, as he is descended from our past, and as Brother to our present King. But I think it ought not to stand in competition with my Duty to my King and Country, which can never be safe as long as this Interest is so predominate. And I think there is no other Way to suppress it, but by going to the Roots first: and therefore I agree in the Motion that hath been made, for appointing a Committee to bring in a Bill to disinherit James Duke of York.'
'Mr. Speaker, Sir, I agree with those worthy Members, that have spoke to this present Business, that Popery hath for a long Time had a great Influence in the Management of our Affairs; and that the Protestant Religion and Government of the Nation is much in Danger thereby. But I hope that the Prudence of this House may find out some Expedient to secure the Nation, more likely to be brought to Perfection, than this of the Exclusion Bill. We all know, that his Majesty in his Speech at the opening of the Session, and formerly, hath declared, that he will consent to any thing you shall offer for the Security of the Protestant Religion; provided it consist with preserving the Succession in the due legal Course of Descent. As his Majesty is gracious to us, so I know we are all willing to carry ourselves with all Respect and Duty to him; he offers you to consent to all other Ways you can propose, but seems resolved not to consent to this Way you are now upon. For my part, Sir, I am more afraid of an Army without a General, than of a General without an Army; and therefore I think, that if, instead of ordering a Committee to bring in a Bill for disinheriting of the Duke, you bring in a Bill for banishing all the Papists out of the Nation, and other Bills for the having of frequent Parliaments, and to secure good Judges and Justices, that so the Laws you have already, as well as what more you may make, may be duly executed, it may do as well, and be more likely to have good Success. And therefore I would humbly move you, that we may try these other Ways, and not offer to put this Hardship upon his Majesty, seeing he hath declared against this Bill, lest, by displeasing his Majesty, we should interrupt all other Affairs, which at this Time may be very unfortunate to this Nation, and our Neighbours too. The Eyes of Christendom are upon the Success of this Meeting, and the Peace, Quietness, and Honour of the Nation much depends thereon; and therefore, if the going on with this Bill should occasion a Breach, (which for several Reasons I am much afraid of) it may prove one of the greatest Misfortunes that could befal us. Sir, Moderation in all Things will always become this House, but especially in a Business of so high a Nature. The Duke hath not yet been either heard or found guilty, how can we then answer the passing of so severe a Sentence? We ought to be very careful in a Business of this Nature, that we do nothing but what we may be able to answer to the whole World. And therefore, Sir. I think that seeing his Majesty hath declared, that he will not agree with us in this Bill, and other Bills may be as effectual; I would humbly move you to think of some other Way, and for that Purpose to appoint a Day to have it debated in a Committee of the whole House.'
Sir Henry Capel.
'Mr. Speaker, Sir, I cannot agree with that worthy Member that spoke last, and yet I have formerly given some Proof that I have been for Moderation, and God willing shall always be for it, when it may do good. In the two last Parliaments I did so argue for Moderation, that many of my Friends told me, that I had deserted the true Interest of my King and Country; but as the Loyalty which I pretend to derive from my Birth, made me slight such Surmises, so it shall always preponderate with me in all my Actions. Sir, I am of Opinion that this is a Case, in which there is no room for Moderation, if by Moderation be meant the making of any other Law for the Security of our Religion. Because, according to the best Judgment I can make, upon a full Consideration of the Matter, all other Bills that can be desired without this Bill, will not prove effectual; but will leave us in that unhappy Condition, of contesting with the Influence of a Popish Successor, during the King's Life, and the Power of a Popish King hereafter. Of what Danger this may be to his Majesty's Person at present, and the Protestant Religion for the future, I leave to every one to judge. It hath been said, that take away the Army, and you need not fear the General; but I say, that a General that hath the Power of a King, will never want an Army. And our Condition is so bad, that I am afraid we shall not be safe, without being free of the General and Army too; which I think, Sir, as the Case stands, we ought in Prudence to do, or else I am afraid we shall give but a bad Account to our Country, of having done any thing to the Purpose for the securing of our Religion. And therefore I am of Opinion you are under a Necessity of having this Bill brought in.'
'Mr. Speaker, Sir, I observe that the Arguments that have been offered against the bringing in of this Bill, are founded on his Majesty's Speech, and on a Supposition that other Bills may be as sufficient for our Security, and more facilly obtained, seeing his Majesty hath so often declared, that he will not consent to the altering the Succession from its legal Course of descent. Sir, the King calleth his Parliament to give him Advice, and they cannot therein be restrained, but may give any Advice which they think may be necessary for the Security of his Person and Government. And it hath oftentimes happened, that Parliaments before now have many times offered such Advice to the Kings of this Nation, as hath not been grateful to them at first, and yet, after mature Deliberation, hath been well-received, and found absolutely necessary. When Clifford, or who else it was, had persuaded his Majesty to grant a Toleration in 1672, and to tell the Parliament in his Speech then made to them, that he would stand by it, and make it good; yet that House of Commons finding it of dangerous Consequence, and humbly offering such their Advice to his Majesty, he was pleased, notwithstanding the said Speech, to cancel the said Toleration. And if he had not, as we are in a bad Case now, so we might have been in a worse then. For aught I know, if that House of Commons had been so great Courtiers, as not to have concerned themselves in that Toleration, because of his Majesty's Speech, the Nation might have been ruined by Papists before this. And I think we are now under as great Danger, and I hope we shall not be less couragious, nor true-hearted. If a Man were sick of a Pleurisy, and nothing could save his Life but bleeding, would it not be strange if his Physician, after having pretended that he is hearty for his Cure, should allow him all other Remedies but bleeding? Nothing like this can be presumed of his Majesty, of whose Wisdom and Goodness we have had so great Experience. And as to the second Branch of the Supposition, that other Laws may secure us as well, I have not heard any Arguments offered to make it good, and I must confess I cannot apprehend there can be any. I am sure the Experience of former Times shews us the contrary. It is plain from them, that Popish Princes have not thought themselves bound by any Laws against the Interest of the Church; and our Fore-fathers have found to their forrow; that the Strength of our Laws were not sufficient to defend them against Popish Tyrannies. For no Prince of that Religion ever yet thought himself bound to keep faith with Heretics. After Queen Mary had seriously pledged her royal Word to the Suffolk-Men, to allow them their Religion, by which they became the greatest Instruments of putting the Crown on her Head; did she not in return put the Crown of Martyrdom on theirs? All other Laws that you can propose in this Case, must be grounded on some Trust or Fidelity that must be reposed in that Party, for which no Argument can be given, but that they never kept any faith with Heretics, and therefore that we may do well to try what they will do. This I might prove by a sad, melancholy Account of the Massacres at Piedmont, Paris, and Ireland; but I suppose the History of them is well known to every one here, and therefore I will not trouble you therewith.
'We are advised to be moderate, and I think we ought to be so; but I do not take Moderation to be a prudent Virtue in all Cases that may happen. If I were fighting to save my Life, and the Lives of my Wife and Children, should I do it moderately? If I were riding on a Road to save my Throat from Thieves, and I should be advised to ride moderately, lest I spoiled my Horse, would not such Advice seem strange at such a Time? And so certainly would it be, if I were in a Ship, (which may well be compared to a Commonwealth,) and it were sinking, would not the Advice to pump moderately, for fear of a Fever, seem strange? But, Sir, I admire, seeing Moderation is so much talked of, of late, and so much recommended, Why there cannot be other Objects found out, on whom to place it, as well as on the Papists. I know not why it should not be as agreeable to Christian Charity, and more for the Protestant Interest at this time, because it may tend to Union, to place it on the Protestant Dissenters, seeing we agree with most of them in Points of Faith, and only differ about a few Ceremonies. The moderatest and meekest Man that ever was, seeing an Egyptian struggling with an Israelite, slew the Egyptian; but at another time seeing an Israelite struggling with an Israelite, it is recorded in Holy Writ, he parted them, saying they were Brethren. Of late many are at work to persuade us, that the Church hath no Weapons but Prayers and Tears; this is a Notion come up amongst us since the breaking out of the Plot, and, as far as I can observe, is only to hold good against Popery, for against Protestant Dissenters we have always had, and can still find, other Weapons Sir, I will not trouble you farther, but conclude with my Motion for bringing in of the Bill.'
H. made a Speech reflecting on the Duke and Lord Clarendon, for making up the match for the King, as if they did it because they foresaw that the Queen would have no Children, and particularly on the Duke, for the Loss of my Lord Sandwich, for clearing of Persons taken in the Fire of London, the Death of Sir Edmundbury Godfrey, &c.
'Mr. Speaker, Sir, I am sorry to see a Matter of so great Importance managed in this House with so much Bitterness on the one Hand, and with so much Jesting and Mirth on the other; I think it is a serious Thing we are about, and that more Gravity would very well become, not only this House, but the Subject of the Debate also. It is to me very unpleasant, to hear a Prince, that hath so well deserved of this Nation, by fighting our Battles, and so often appearing for us in War, so upbraided. I am apt to think he was far from being of opinion, the Queen would have no Children, and that he scorned any of those other Actions that have been laid to his Charge; and therefore to hear such Things said, is a great Provocation. But, being I know where I am, I will lay my Hand upon my Mouth. But I hope you will pardon me, if, to comply with the Obligation of Nature, I declare myself much concerned to see the Ashes of my dear Father thus raked out of the Dust, and to hear his Memory blasted by an Affirmation which cannot be proved: Because I am confident he was not guilty. He and his Family suffered enough by his Misfortunes, occasioned by dark Interests and Intrigues of State. Many think he was severely chastised while living; I am sorry to see that some others cannot spare him though dead. But, for my comfort, I have heard that he was a good Protestant, a good Chancellor, and that we have had worse Ministers of State since. But I will not trouble you farther, but apply myself to the Business under Debate. Sir, I am of Opinion, that the bringing in of this Bill will be a great Hindrance to the Business of the Nation, and not attain your End. And also, I am concerned for the Justice of the House; for though the Duke deserve great Mortifications, because he hath given so great a Suspicion of his being inclined to that Religion, and I believe doth not expect to come now to the Crown, on such Terms as formerly, but with such Limitations as may secure the Protestant Religion; yet I think it very hard for this House, to offer at so great a Condemnation without hearing the Person concerned, or having had any preceding Process. For my own part, I make it a great Question, whether it would be binding to him, or a great many other loyal Persons of this Nation; and if not, it may occasion hereafter a civil War. And without any just Fear, or Cause; for the King may very well out live the Duke, and then all that we are about would be unnecessary; and why should we, to prevent that which may never happen, attempt to do that which we can never answer, either to our King or Country? I cannot apprehend that our Case is so desperate, but that we may secure ourselves some other way, without overturning Foundations. I cannot fear a General without an Army. By ridding ourselves of all other Papists, we may be safe, making such other Laws to bind the Duke, as may be necessary, by the Name of James Duke of York; which, and the small Revenues which belong to the Crown, without the Assistance of Parliaments, with such other Laws as may be contrived, I humbly conceive may be sufficient for our Security; and therefore it ought to be considered in a Committee of the whole House, that such as are for these Expedients, may have more freedom of Debate.'
'Mr. Speaker, Sir, I must beg your Leave to speak again, according to the Orders of the House, being reflected on. I can assure you, Sir, that what I have said upon this Subject, is so far from proceeding from a merry, jolly Humour, that it is rather from as great Sorrow as ever my Heart endured; being very sensible what Dangers we have undergone, and what Miseries we may hereafter suffer, by means of the Duke's being of this Religion. I hope, Sir, that Offences that proceed from natural Infirmities, will always find a favourable Construction in this House. If that honourable Member that spoke last, had but considered, that all Men have not that good Fortune to be born, with such a grave, majestic, sober Aspect as that (let them say what they will, it looks serious and weighty) he would not have been offended at my Discourse; but, Sir, for the Satisfaction of the House, that I am not in jest in this Business, I do declare, that I should be very sorry to be thus jested with myself.'
Sir L. Jenkins.
'Mr. Speaker, Sir, the Question that ariseth from this Debate is, whether we had best proceed by an Extremity, or by Expedients. For I look on this Bill to be of the highest Nature that ever was proposed in the House of Commons, and the greatest Extremity imaginable, which I humbly conceive we ought not to proceed to, until we have made some trial of Expedients, which will be very useful. For it will give a great Satisfaction, not only to his Majesty, but to all other Persons in general that are against this Bill, by which the World will see that we were very cautious, how we offered at such an Extremity, and that we did not do it, until we had found all other Ways and Means whatsoever insufficient. I must confess, Sir, I think such a Bill would be against Law and Conscience, and that nothing less than an Army will be necessary to support it; and therefore I humbly move you, that we may debate this Business in a Committee.'
'Mr. Speaker, Sir, I admire to hear that honourable Member make a Doubt as to the legality of this Bill; certainly, Sir, our legislative Power is unbounded, and we may offer to the Lords, and so to his Majesty, what Bills we think good. And it can as little be doubted, that the legislative Power of the Nation, KING, LORDS, and COMMONS, should want a Law to make Laws; or that any Laws should be against what Laws they make; otherways they cannot be legally opposed. And as I think it cannot be against Law, so neither against Conscience, unless it could be made out, that we ought in conscience to bring in Popery. I should be very glad to hear any Arguments to make good what hath been offered about Expedients; but I am afraid, when they come to be examined to the Bottom, they will be found very insufficient, and that we may as well think of catching a Lion with a Mouse-trap, as to secure ourselves against Popery by any Laws without the Exclusion Bill. Have we not to do with a sort of People, that cannot be bound by any Law or Contract whatsoever? Much less can their Words or Promises be depended on. Are they not under all the Obligations that can be offered, from the Temptations of this Life, as of that to come, not to keep faith with Heretics, but to break it when it may tend to the promoting of the Catholic Cause? And if Laws cannot bind other Persons, much less will it Princes that are of the Catholic Religion? Did they ever keep any League or Contract that was made with Protestants, longer than was necessary, in order to cut their Throats? What Use did the Papists make in Ireland of the Favours granted them by King Charles I? Did they not make use of it to the Destruction of the Protestants, by rising up in Rebellion, and massacring 100,000? Sir, I see Things go hard against Popery, I know not what to say to it, but I am afraid that if we should be so infatuated, as to let it creep on more and more upon us, and at last let it ascend the Throne again, that we shall soon have the same miserable Fortune our Fore-Fathers had in Queen Mary's Days, and he burnt in Smithfield for our Indiscretion.'
'Sir, we are upon a Business of as great Importance as ever was debated within these Walls; for either we must suppress Popery, or be suppress'd by it. For although that Interest do not look so big, as that of the Protestants, yet I plainly see, that it hath wrought like a Mole under ground for a long time, and that it hath eaten into our Bowels, and will soon come to the vital Parts of the Protestant Religion, and destroy it too, if great care be not taken, and that speedily. I hear some say, that our Cares are needless at this time, because the King may outlive the Duke; which is as much as to say, there is no need of Laws against Popery, until we see whether we shall have occasion to make use of them, or no. But they do not tell us how we should be sure then to obtain them. I must confess such Arguments are so far from weighing with me, as that they increase my Fears, because it discovers a strange, easy, careless, indifferent Humour among us Protestants. Must our Lives, Liberties, and Religion depend upon may-be's? I hope it is not come to that yet: I am sure it will not consist with the Prudence of this Assembly to leave it so, but rather to endeavour to settle this Matter upon such a Foundation, as may (with as much probability as human things are capable of) secure us. I am of opinion, that such an Engine may be contrived, as should give such a whirle to the Popish Interest, as that it should never rise up against us again; I know of no Difficulty but the same which happened to Archimedes, where to fix it. And I am not altogether at a loss for that neither; for so long as we have a good King, I will not despair. And, Sir, I cannot fear any of those things that are objected against this Bill, that it is against Law, and therefore will occasion a civil War: For my part I never will fear a civil War in favour of Idolatry, especially when we have gotten a Law on our side to defend our Religion. Therefore I move you that the Bill may be brought in.'
Sir Thomas Player.
'Mr. Speaker, Sir, I have read in Scripture of one Man dying for a Nation, but never of three Nations dying for one Man; which is like to be our case. There hath been already so much said on this matter, and the Reasons that have been given for the bringing in of the Bill are so plain, that I should not have troubled you to have said any thing about it, but that I knew not how to have answered it to that great City for which I serve, not to have appeared in this Business, in which the Protestant Religion is so much concerned. But, Sir, being I am up, I will beg leave to acquaint you, that I have been lately in company with a great many Persons, where I have heard the Duke cried up, and the King so slighted, that I must confess they made me afraid, they had thoughts of acting over here what was lately done in Portugal. Believe it, Sir, many are very industrious to make an interest for the Duke; if we should not use our endeavours to keep up the King's Interest, and that of the Protestant Religion, I am afraid they will be encouraged to embroil us in Blood before we are aware of it. I have no patience to think of sitting still, while my Throat is cutting; and therefore I pray, Sir, let us endeavour to have Laws that may enable us to defend ourselves. And I know not how we can have any that are like to prove effectual, without this for excluding James Duke of York; and therefore I humbly move it may be brought in.
'Mr. Speaker, Sir, I have by many Years Experience observed, that it is very agreeable to the Custom, Prudence, and Justice of this House, to debate all things very well before a Question is put, but especially of great Importance. It hath formerly been thought a great thing, and hard to be born by some Princes, that any thing relating to the Prerogative of the Crown should be debated any where but in the Privy Council; and I have observed, that former Parliaments have done it with a great deal of Tenderness. And if so, well may a Bill that tends to the Alteration of the Succession, pretend to the Right of having a full and fair Debate, which I hope this solemn Assembly will not deny; many being to take their Resolutions from it in as great a Point as ever was debated in a House of Commons, for which we shall be answerable to our own Consciences, as well as to our King and Country. It is these great Considerations make me trouble you at this time, otherwise I might haply have been silent, because I am one of those that have been shot at by Wind-guns, which have prejudiced my Reputation; and therefore, until I should have had an opportunity to vindicate myself, and to shew that I am an Enemy both to Popery and arbitrary Government, I was more inclined to have been silent, and should not have troubled you, if the Nature of this Business had not laid on me a more than ordinary Compulsion. I do not doubt but every one that sits here is willing to take notice of what Arguments may be offered pro and con, it being the only way to pass a right Judgment in this matter, which is very necessary, because what Resolution you may take upon this Debate, will be examined not only within his Majesty's Dominions, but by most Princes and Politicians in Europe. And therefore that you ground your Resolution on such solid Reason, that may endure the Test of a plenary Examination, will be very necessary for the securing the Credit of this House, of which I know you are very tender.'
'Sir, I must confess I am very much against the bringing in of this Bill; for I think it a very unfortunate thing, that, whereas his Majesty hath prohibited but one thing only, we should so soon fall upon it. I do not see there is any cause, why we should fear Popery so much, as to make us run into such an extreme. We are assured there can be no danger during his Majesty's Life, so, upon an impartial Examination, we shall find there can be no great reason to fear it after his Death, though the Duke should outlive and succeed him, and be of that Religion. Have we not had great experience of his Love for this Nation? Hath he not always squared his Actions by the exactest Rules of Justice and Moderation? Is there not a possibility of being of the Church, and not of the Court of Rome? Hath he not bred up his Children in the Protestant Religion; and shewed a great respect for all Persons of that Profession? Would it not be a dangerous thing for him (I mean in point of Interest) to offer at any such Alteration of the Religion established by Law? Can any Man imagine that it can be attempted, without great hazard of utterly destroying both himself and his Family? And can so indiscreet an Attempt be expected from a Prince, so abounding in Prudence and Wisdom? But though we should resolve to have no Moderation in our Proceedings against Papists, yet I hope we shall have some for our selves. It cannot be imagined, that such a Law will bind all here in England, or any in Scotland; and it is disputed whether it will be binding in Ireland: so that in all probability it will not only divide us amongst ourselves, but the three Kingdoms one from the other, and occasion a miserable civil War. For it cannot be imagined, that the Duke will submit to it. And to disinherit him for his Religion, is not only to act according to the Popish Principles, but to give cause for a War with all the Catholic Princes in Europe; and that must occasion a standing Army, from whom there will be more danger of Popery and arbitrary Government, than from a Popish Successor, or a Popish King. Sir, it is very agreeable to the Weight of the Matter, and the usual Proceedings of this House, that this Business should be fully debated; and therefore I humbly move you it may be in a Committee.'
Sir Richard Graham made a long Discourse, shewing the Dangers and Miseries of a civil War, by a large Account of those between York and Lancaster. That this Bill, if it should pass, would lay a Foundation for such another. That it would not be binding either to Scotland or Ireland, and so consequently occasion a Division between the three Kingdoms, which had formerly been the occasion of Wars and Miseries, as well as our own Divisions amongst ourselves. Then gave an historical Account, to make out how fatal Divisions had proved to other Nations, and instanced in Theodosius, and others. That he thought it absolutely necessary, (if this Bill must be brought in,) to prevent a civil War, that the Successor should be named; which would need a great deal of Consideration; and if to debate Business of smaller Importance, it is usual for the House to resolve itself into a Committee, how could it be answered, that it should not be done in a Business of so great Importance, that so Expedients might be offered and debated, with more Freedom and Satisfaction than it was possible they could be in the House.
Sir William Pulteney.
'Mr. Speaker, Sir, I am of opinion, that Expedients in Politics are like Mountebank-tricks in Physic; as the one does seldom good to Bodies natural, so not the other to Bodies politic. Government is a weighty thing, and cannot be supported nor preserved but by such Pillars as have neither Flaws nor Cracks, and placed on a sure Foundation. And I am afraid, that all Expedients will be found to have far different Qualifications. I cannot foresee how the excluding of one Person, who hath a right to the Succession depending upon Contingencies upon such an account as this, should occasion a civil War; but rather do think there is a great deal more danger, not only of a civil War, but of our Religion and Liberty too, if we should not do it, and so have a Popish King. For I do believe, that such a King would soon have a Popish Council. For if there be eleven to seven now for the Interest of a Popish Successor, what may you not expect when you have a Popish King? And should you not then soon have Popish Judges, Justices, Deputy-Lieutenants, Commanders at Sea and Land; nay, and Popish Bishops too. For if there be none put into those Places now, that are for acting against a Popish Successor, well may we expect that none shall be put in then, but what are for a Popish King. And therefore I am astonished to hear any Man, that pretends to be a Protestant, argue, that in such a case we need not fear Popery; for it is indeed to argue for Popery, and must proceed from an Opinion that the Protestant Interest is very low, and not able to bear up any longer against Popery, or else that Protestants are very credulous and inconsiderate, and may be brought to destroy themselves with their own Hands. Must our Religion and Liberty have no Security but what depends on the Virtues and Goodness of a Prince, who will be in subjection to the Pope, and probably influenced by none but Jesuits and such Creatures? Will it seem strange that such a Prince should compose his Privy Council of Persons inclined to that Religion; or that he should employ none others as Judges, Justices, Sheriffs, or Commanders in any Place of Trust either at Land or Sea? And can we think that by the many Endeavours which will be used, that the common People will not be debauched, and either be mis-led, or made indifferent in a little while? Is it not in the power of the King to nominate his Counsellors, Judges, Sheriffs, Commanders at Sea and Land? And can it be imagined, that he will not take care to nominate such as shall be for his turn? Certainly, Sir, no Man can imagine that the Protestant Religion can long be preserved under such a King, but such as cannot or will not see at a distance, what a Change such a Scheme of Government will soon produce, and how likely it is that it will be set up and practised, if ever we should have a Popish King. And as I do think that our Religion never can be secured without this Bill, so I do not fear that it will occasion any civil War, or any Division between this Kingdom, Scotland or Ireland; but rather, I believe it will be a means to reconcile the Protestant Interest, and to settle the Government upon such a bottom as will prove invincible. In Scotland the major Part of the People hate Popery as well as we, and so do the Protestants in Ireland; and therefore certainly it will be their interest to join with us against a common Enemy, and not to divide. And whereas it hath been suggested, that this Bill will engage us in a War against all Catholic Princes, I look upon it as a Bugbear, and do believe that we shall gain many Friends by being settled, as we may by having this Bill; because then we may be formidable to our Enemies, and serviceable to our Allies; but never without it. And, Sir, this is not to disinher it a Man for his Religion, but because he hath rendered himself uncapable to govern us, according to our Laws, which, whether it proceed from his Religion, or any thing else, is all one to us. His being uncapable, is the ground for our Proceedings, having no other way to preserve ourselves. Upon the whole matter, I do conclude, that a Popish King and a Protestant Religion are irreconcilable, and have no reason to fear a civil War, so long as we have a Law for our Defence, and a Protestant King to head us; which we cannot expect without passing some such Bill as this under Debate. And therefore I humbly move you it may be brought in.'
'Mr. Speaker, Sir, the Business you are debating is of so high a nature, that I cannot tell how to speak to it, without Fear and Trembling. To go about to alter the Succession of the Crown, must be of great concernment to all Englishmen, and therefore ought to be considered with a great deal of Deliberation, for which the Justice, Prudence and Usage of this House calls aloud, there never having been any Business debated in this House, in which so much Care was required. Sir, I am unsatisfied with myself, how we can in Justice pass any such Bill as is proposed; for I never heard of any Law, which made an Opinion in Religion a Cause to be dispossess'd of Right: in former times it was not so, though there were Princes and Emperors that were Apostates. And Queen Elizabeth would not allow of putting any such thing in practice, but rather chose to proceed against Mary Queen of Scots, according to the settled Laws of the Nation. This Nation hath been so unfortunate as to cut off one King already, let us have a care how we cut off the Right of another. There is a possibility that the Duke may return to the Protestant Religion, let us not exclude him from such Temptations as may be convenient to reduce him. But, whatever should be your Resolution at last, I humbly conceive there can be no reason given, why a Business of this Weight should not be debated in a Committee, before you vote the bringing in of the Bill, that so the Validity of such other Expedients as may be proposed, may be examined, and the Reasons for and against this Bill be digested as they ought to be. How shall we otherwise answer it to his Majesty, who hath offered you every thing but this? If there were a Motion made for a Bill to give Money, would it not probably be debated in a Committee? By this Bill we are going to give away the Right of a Crown, which I take to be more than Money; and therefore, I humbly move you that it may be farther debated in a Committee.
'Mr. Speaker, Have not the Papists always proceeded against the Protestants with a Barbarity surmounting the worst of Heathens? And must we be so mighty careful how we proceed to hinder them from ruling over us, as that we must stumble at every Straw, and be afraid of every Bush? A Man that is in an House that is on fire, will leap out at a Window, rather than be burnt. I do admire how any Person, that doth know with what Treachery and Inhumanity the Papists behaved themselves in the Massacres of Piedmont, Paris, and Ireland; their Cruelties in Queen Mary's days, lately on Sir Edmundbury Godfrey, and what they had design'd against the King, and all of us, can offer any thing to delay, much more to hinder what is so precisely necessary for the Good of the King and Kingdom; especially seeing in this we shall do nothing, but what may be justified by many Laws and Precedents. And if there were none, of which I know there are a great many that are liable to no Objection; yet I take it, That the Law of Nature and Self-preservation would afford us sufficient Arguments. I think the Sun is not more visible at Noon-day, than that the Papists have a Design to extirpate our Religion; and that they have done great Things in order thereto, even now while we live under the Government of a Protestant King, by some invisible Power that hath strangely acted its Part in favour of that Interest, in all our Councils and Resolutions in Affairs of greatest Importance; and it is as plain that this is so, because there is a Popish Successor; and that their Interest will never decline as long as there is such a Successor, and the Hope of a Popish King. And now, that by the watchful Providence of God, these Things have been made so plain to us; is it not strange, that any Man should go about to persuade us to be so neglectful and inconsiderate, as to sit still and look on, while the Papists are putting their Chains about our Arms, and Ropes about our Necks? Which must be the Consequence of permitting a Popish King to ascend the Throne; against which there can be no Law to secure us but this. In Edward the sixth's, and Queen Mary's, and Queen Elizabeth's days, was not the Religion of the Prince, the Religion of the Nation? Did not most of the Privy-Counsellors, and great Ministers of State, and some Bishops too, change with the Times? Is it not customary for great Men to infinuate and flatter their Princes, by being of their Religion? On what must we ground our hopes of Security, in such a Case? On nothing, Sir, but on a Civil War, which such a Prince must certainly occasion. But I do not fear it from this Bill, but rather think it the only Way to prevent it; not doubting but that there will be People enough that will give Obedience to it, sufficient to execute the Law on such as may be refractory, if any, which can only be Papists, and such as may be Popishly affected; The Objections as to a Civil War, and Disobedience to this Law, may as well be made against any other severe Law that we may attempt to make against Papists; and must we therefore let them all alone? I hope we shall not be so inconsiderate; but as we have discovered that their Weapons are near our Throats, so we shall not acquiesce in any thing less than what may secure us; that so, if possible, we may not fall into the Hands of such a bloody, merciless People; which must infallibly be the Consequence of having a Popish King.
'And, Sir, as we have much to say for the having of this Bill; so we have as much for not having our time lost by going into a Committee at this time about it. When the Bill is brought in, there will be time enough to hear of other Expedients, if any Member will then offer any; of which they will now have time to consider, that so they may be offered particularly, and not only in general. For it doth not consist with the Gravity of the House, that they should be put out of the Method they are most inclined to, without good Cause. I am afraid there can be no Expedients offered in this Case, that can be sufficient; 'unless such as may shake the Throne as to all future Kings. And I hope we shall be cautious how we enter into any such Debate; for if you should, you may be sure your Enemies will take Advantage thereof. And therefore I am rather for the Bill.'
'Mr. Speaker, have not Popish Kings, as well in other Countries as here, always brought in a Popish Religion? And have we any Reason to suppose the like will not happen here, if ever we should have a King of that Religion? Have we not undeniable Proof, that the great Thing designed, by endeavouring at a Popish King, is the rooting Heresy out of these three Nations? And are not Rome and France ingaged to give their Assistance therein, as well as the great Parties at home, not only of prosess'd Papists, but of some who prosess themselves Protestants, but are so but in Masquerade? And do they not say, that they have so clenched and riveted their Interest, as that God nor Man cannot prevent their accomplishing their Design? And shall we be so indiscreet as to let it creep on thus upon us, and not endeavour to remedy ourselves? Let it never be said of this House of Commons, that they were so stupified or negligent of their Duty to their Country; or so indifferent in their Religion, or Preservation of their Liberties, as to forget so great a Concern. If, when we have done what we can, we should be conquered by Force, or deceived by such little Arts and Tricks as may be used, a patient Submission to God's Providence must follow. But to be the Occasion of our own Destruction, by being supine and inconsiderate, will never be answered to Posterity.'
He then justify'd the Legality of the Bill, by a long Catalogue of Precedents; making out, that the Succession of the Crown had been oftentimes altered by Act of Parliament upon less Occasions than this; and concluded with a Motion for bringing in of the Bill.
Resolved, That a Bill be brought in, to disable the Duke of York to inherit the imperial Crown of the Realm.