House of Commons Journal Volume 9: 5 February 1673

Pages 245-248

Journal of the House of Commons: Volume 9, 1667-1687. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1802.

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Mercurii, 5 die Februarii, 1672.

Post Meridiem.

Message to attend the King.

MR. Speaker Elect, and the House, being met; A Message was sent from his Majesty to the House, by Sir Edward Carteret Usher of the Black Rod: viz.

Gentlemen of the House of Commons,

The King commands this honourable House to attend him forthwith in the House of Lords.

Mr. Speaker approved of.

And accordingly Mr. Speaker Elect, with the Members, went up to attend his Majesty.

And Mr. Speaker being presented to, and approved by, his Majesty; returned, with the Mace carried before him:

Which being placed on the Table; and Mr. Speaker settled in the Chair.

His Majesty having been pleased to deliver his Speech, in Writing, to Mr. Speaker; which he having read to the House; and the Speech also of the Lord Chancellor being delivered in Writing, and read by the Clerk: And his Majesty having, after his Speech, further declared, that he had given Order to the Lord Chancellor to send out Writs, for the better Supply of the House, having seen Precedents for it; but, if any Scruple or Question did arise about it, he left it to the House to debate, as soon as they would-

Most Gracious Sovereign,

THE Knights, Citizens, and Burgesses of the House of Commons, in Obedience to Your Royal Command, have proceeded to the Choice of a Speaker. They have among them many worthy Persons, eminently qualified for so great a Trust; yet, with too favourable an Eye, have castit upon me; who am really conscious to myself of many Infirmities, rendering me much unfit for so great an Employment: And although my Endeavours of excusing myself before them have not been successful, yet they have been so indulgent as to permit me to continue my Endeavours therein before Your Majesty's most piercing and discerning Judgment.

The Veneration due to Majesty, which lodgeth in every loyal Breast, makes it not an easy matter to speak before Your Majesty at any Time, or in any Capacity: But to speak before Your Majesty in Your Exaltation, thus gloriously supported and attended, and That as Speaker of Your House of Commons, requires greater Abilities than I can pretend to own. I am not also without Fear, that the publick Affairs, wherein Your Majesty, and Your Kingdom, in this Juncture of Time, are so highly concerned, may receive Detriment through my Weakness.

I therefore, with a plain, humble Heart, prostrate at Your Royal Feet, beseech, that You will command them to review what they have done; and to proceed to another Election.

Mr. Serjeant Charleton,

THE King hath very attentively heard your discreet and handsome Discourse, whereby you endeavour to excuse and disable yourself for the Place of Speaker. In Answer whereof, His Majesty hath commanded me to say to you, That He doth, in no sort, admit of the same; for His Majesty hath had long Experience of your Abilities and good Affection, Integrity and Resolution, in several Employments of great Trust and Weight: He knows you have been long a Parliament Man; and therefore every way fitted and qualified for the Employment: Besides, he cannot disapprove the Election of this House of Commons, especially where they have expressed so much Duty in chusing one worthy and acceptable to him: And therefore the King doth allow of the Election, and admits you for Speaker.

Great Sir,

SINCE it is Your gracious Pleasure not to accept of my humble Excuse, but by Your Royal Approbation to fix me under this great, though honourable Weight, and to think me fit to be invested with a Trust of so high a Nature as This is:

I take it, in the first Place, to be incumbent upon me, that I render your Majesty all possible Thanks, which I now humbly do, with a Heart full of all Duty, and affected with a deeper Sense of Gratitude, than I can find Words to express.

Next, from your royal Determination in this Affair, whereby you have imprinted a new Character, upon me, I take Courage against my own Diffidence, and chearfully bend myself with such Strength and Abilities, as God shall give to the Service so graciously designed me; no way doubting, that Your Majesty will please to pardon my Frailties, to accept of my faithful Endeavours, and always to look favourably on the Work of Your own Hands.

And now, Sir, my first Entrance upon this Service obliges me to make a few necessary but humble Petitions on the Behalf of your most loyal and dutiful House of Commons.

1st, That, for our better Attendance on the publick Service, We and our Servants may be free in our Persons and Estates, from Arrests and other Disturbances.

2dly, That, in our Debates, Liberty and Freedom of Speech be allowed us.

3dly, That, as Occasion shall require, Your Majesty, upon our humble Suit, and at such Times as your Majesty shall judge seasonable, will vouchsafe us Access to your Royal Person.

4thly, That all our Proceedings may receive a favourable Construction. That God who hath brought You back to the Throne of Your Fathers, and with you all our Comforts, grant you a long and a prosperous Reign; and send you Victory over all Your Enemies: And every good Man's Heart will say, Amen.

Mr. Speaker,

THE King's Majesty hath heard and well weighed your short and eloquent Oration: And in the first place, much approves, that you have with so much Advantage introduced a shorter Way of speaking upon this Occasion. His Majesty doth well accept of all those dutiful and affectionate Expressions in which you have delivered your Submission to his Royal Pleasure; and looks upon it as a good Omen to his Affairs, and as an Evidence, that the House of Commons have still the same Heart that have chosen such a Mouth, the Conjuncture of Time, and the King and Kingdom's Affairs require: Such a House of Commons; Such a Speaker! For with Reverence to the Holy Scripture, upon this Occasion, the King may say, He that is not with Me, is against Me: For he that doth not now put his Hand and Heart to support the King in the common Cause of this Kingdom, can hardly ever hope for such another Opportunity, or find a Time to make Satisfaction for the Omission of this.

Next, I am commanded by his Majesty, to answer your Four Petitions: Whereof the First, being the Freedom of you and your Servants, in your Persons and Estates, without Arrest or other Disturbance, the King is graciously pleased to grant it as full as to any of your Predecessors: The Second, for Liberty and Freedom of Speech; The Third, for Access to his Royal Person; and the Fourth, that your Proceedings may receive a favourable Construction; are all freely and fully granted by his Majesty.

My Lords and Gentlemen,

The King's Speech.

I AM glad to see you here this Day: I would have called you together sooner, but that I am willing to ease you and the Country, till there were an absolute Necessity. Since you were last here, I have been forced to a most important, necessary, and expensive War; and I make no Doubt but you will give Me suitable and effectual Assistance to go thorough with it. I refer you to my Declaration for the Causes, and indeed the Necessity, of this War; and shall now only tell you, That I might have digested the Indignities to my own Person, rather than have brought it to this Extremity, if the Interest as well as the Honour of the whole Kingdom had not been at Stake: And if I had omitted this Conjuncture, perhaps I had not again ever met with the like Advantage.

You will find, that the last Supply you gave me; did not answer Expectation for the Ends you gave it; the Payment of our Debts: Therefore, I must, in the next Place, recommend them again to your special Care.

Some few Days before I declared the War, I put forth my Declaration for Indulgence to Dissenters: And have hitherto found a good Effect of it, by securing Peace at Home, when I had War abroad. There is one Part of it, that hath been subject to Misconstruction; which is That concerning the Papists, as if more Liberty were granted them than to the other Recusants, when it is plain there is less: For the others have publick Places allowed them; and I never intended that They should have any, but only have the Freedom of their Religion in their own Houses, without any Concern of others: And I could not grant them less than this, when I had extended so much more Grace to others, most of them having been loyal, and in the Service of Me, and of the King my Father: And in the whole Course of this Indulgence, I do not intend, that it shall any way prejudice the Church; but I will support its Rights and It, in its full Power. Having said this, I shall take it very, very ill, to receive Contradiction in what I have done: And I will deal plainly with you, I am resolved to stick to my Declaration.

There is one Jealousy more, that is maliciously spread abroad, and yet so weak and frivolous, that I once thought it not of Moment enough to mention; but it may have gotten some Ground with some well-minded People; and that is, That the Forces I have raised in this War, were designed to controul Law and Property. I wish I had had more Forces the last Summer; the Want of them then, convinces me I must raise more against this next Spring; and I do not doubt, but you will consider the Charge of them in your Supplies. I will conclude, with this Assurance to you, that I will preserve the true Reformed Protestant Religion and the Church, as it is now established in this Kingdom; and that no Man's Property or Liberty shall ever be invaded.

I leave the rest to the Chancellor.

My Lords, and you the Knights, Citizens, and Burgesses of the House of Commons;

The Chancellor's Speech.

THE King hath spoken so fully, so excellently well, and so like Himself, that you are not to expect much from me. There is not a Word in His Speech, that hath not its full Weight; and I dare with Assurance say, will have its Effect with you. His Majesty had called you sooner; and his Affairs required it; but that He was resolved to give you all the Ease and Vacancy to your own private Concerns, and the People as much Respite from Payments and Taxes, as the Necessity of his Business, or their Preservation, would permit: And yet, which I cannot but here mention to you, by the Insinuations of some ill-affected Persons, there have been spread strange and desperate Rumours, which your Meeting together this Day, hath sufficiently proved both malicious and false.

His Majesty hath told you, that he is now engaged in an important, very excessive, and indeed a War absolutely necessary and unavoidable: He hath referred you to his Declaration, where you will find the personal Indignities, by Pictures and Medals, and other publick Affronts, His Majesty hath received from the States: Their Breach of Treaties, both in the Serinham and East India Business: And at last they came to that Height of Insolence, as to deny the Honour and Right of the Flag, though an undoubted Jewel of this Crown, never to be parted with; and by them particularly owned in the late Treaty of Breda, and never contested in any Age: And whilst the King first long expected, and then solemnly demanded, Satisfaction, they disputed his Title to it, in all the Courts of Christendome; and made great Offers to the French King, if he would stand by them against us. But the Most Christian King too well remembered what they did at Munster, contrary to so many Treaties and solemn Engagements; and how dangerous a Neighbour they were to all Crowned Heads.

The King and his Ministers had here a hard Time, and lay every Day under new Obloquies: Some time they were represented as selling all to France for Money, to make this War: Portsmouth, Plymouth, and Hull, were to be given into the French Hands, for Caution: The next Day News came, that France and Holland were agreed. Then the Obloquy was turned from Treachery to Folly: The Ministers were now Fools, that some Days before were Villains: And indeed the Coffee-houses were not to be blamed for their last Apprehensions; since, if that Conjunction had taken Effect, then England had been in a far worse Case than now it is; and the War had been turned upon us. But both Kings knowing their Interests, resolved to join against them who were the common Enemy to all Monarchies, and I may say, especially to ours, their only Competitor for Trade and Power at Sea; and who only stand in their Way to an universal Empire, as great as Rome. This the States understood so well, and had swallowed so deep, that, under all their present Distress and Danger, they are so intoxicated with that vast Ambition, that they slight a Treaty, and refuse a Cessation.

All this, you and the whole Nation saw before the last War; but it could not then be so well timed, or our Alliances so well made: But you judged aright, that at any Rate, Delenda est Carthago, That Government is to be brought down: And therefore the King may well say to you, It is Your War: He took his Measures from You; and they were just and right ones: And He expects a suitable Assistance to so necessary and expensive an Action, which he has hitherto maintained at his own Charges; and was unwilling either to trouble you, or burden the Country, until it came to an evitable Necessity. And his Majesty commands me to tell you, that unless it be a certain Sum, and speedily raised, it can never answer the Occasion.

My Lords and Gentlemen,

Reputation is the greatest Support of War or Peace. This War had never begun, nor had the States ever slighted the King, or ever refused Him Satisfaction; neither had this War continued to this Day, or subsisted now; but that the States were deceived in their Measures, and apprehended His Majesty in that great Want of Money, that He must sit down under any Affronts, and was not able to begin or carry on a War: Nay, at this Day, the States support themselves amongst their People by this only Falshood, that they are assured of the Temper of England, and of the Parliament; and that you will not supply the King in this War; and that, if they can hold out until your Meeting, they will have new Life, and will take new Measures. There are lately taken Two of their principal Agents, with their Credentials and Instructions, to this Purpose; who are now in the Tower, and shall be proceeded against according to the Law of Nations. But the King is sufficiently assured of His People; knows You better, and can never doubt His Parliament. This had not been mentioned, but to shew you of what Importance the Frankness and Seasonableness of this Supply is, as well as the Fulness of it.

Let me say, the King has brought the States to that Condition, that your hearty Conjunction at this Time, in supplying His Majesty, will make them never more formidable to Kings, or dangerous to England: And if after this you suffer them to get up, let this be remembered, The States of Holland are England's eternal Enemy, both by Interest and Inclination.

Lord Chancellor's Speech.

In the next Place to the Supply for the carrying on of the War; His Majesty recommends to you the taking Care of His Debts. What you gave the last Session, did not near answer your own Expectation: Besides, another considerable Aid you designed His Majesty, was unfortunately lost in the Birth; so that the King was forced, for the carrying on of his Affairs, much against his Will to put a Stop to the Payments out of the Exchequer. He saw the Pressures upon Himself growing, and Inconveniences to His People, by great Interest, and the Difference through all His Business, between ready Money and Orders. This gave the King the Necessisy of that Proceeding to make use of His own Revenue; which hath been of so great Effect in this War. But though He hath put a Stop to the Trade and Gain of the Bankers, yet He would be unwilling to ruin them, and oppress so many Families as are concerned in those Debts. Besides, it was too disproportionable a Burden upon many of His good Subjects: But neither the Bankers nor They have Reason to complain, if you now take them into your Care, and they have paid them what was due to them when the Stop was made, and Six Pounds per Cent. Interest from that Time. The King is very much concerned, both in Honour and Interest, to see this done: And yet He desires you not to mis-time it, but that it may only have the Second Place; and that you will first settle what you intend about the Supply.

His Majesty has so fully vindicated His Declaration, from that Calumny concerning the Papists, that no reasonable Scruple can be made by any good Man. He has sufficiently satisfied it by the Time it was published in, and the Effects it hath had from it; and might have done it more, from the Agreeableness of it to His own natural Disposition, which no good Englishman can wish other than it is. He loves not Blood, nor rigorous Severities; but where mild or gentle Ways may be used by a wise Prince, He is certain to chuse them. The Church of England, and all good Protestants, have Reason to rejoice in such a Head, and such a Defender. His Majesty doth declare His Care and Concerns for the Church, and will maintain them in all their Rights and Privileges, equal, if not beyond, any of his Predecessors: He was born and bred up in it: It was That His Father died for. We all know, how great Temptations and Offers He resisted abroad, when He was in his lowest Condition: And thinks it the Honour of His Reign, that He hath been the Restorer of the Church. Tis That He will ever maintain; and hopes to leave to Posterity, in greater Lustre, and upon surer Grounds, than our Ancestors ever saw it. But His Majesty is not convinced, that violent Ways are the Interest of Religion, or the Church.

There is one Thing more that I am commanded to speak to you of; which is, the Jealousy which hath been foolishly spread abroad of the Forces the King hath raised in this War; wherein the King hath opened himself freely to you, and confessed the Fault, on the other hand: For if this last Summer had not proved a Miracle of Storms and Tempests; such as secured their East India Fleet, and protected their Sea Coasts from a Descent, nothing but the true Reason, Want of Money, could have justified the Defect in the Number of our Forces. Tis That His Majesty is providing for against the next Spring; having given out Orders for the raising Seven or Eight Regiments more of Foot, under the Command of Persons of the greatest Fortunes and Quality: And I am earnestly to recommend unto you, that in your Supply you will take into your Consideration this necessary Addition of Charge.

And, after His Majesty's Conclusion of His Speech, let me conclude; nay, let us All conclude, with blessing God and the King: Let us bless God, that he hath given us Such a King, to be the Repairer of our Breaches, both in Church and State, and the Restorer of our Paths to dwell in: That in the Midst of War and Misery, which rages in our neighbour Countries, our Garners are full, and there is no Complaining in our Streets; and a Man can hardly know there is a War. Let us bless God, that hath given This King signally the Hearts of His People; and most particularly of This Parliament, who, in their Affection and Loyalty to their Prince, have exceeded all their Predecessors: A Parliament, with whom the King hath many Years lived, with all the Caresses of a happy Marriage. Has the King had a Concern? You have wedded it: Has His Majesty wanted Supplies ? You have readily, chearfully, and fully provided for them: You have relied upon the Wisdom and Conduct of His Majesty, in all His Affairs. So that you have never attempted to exceed Your Bounds, or to impose upon Him: Whilst the King, on the other hand, hath made Your Councils the Foundations of all His Proceedings; and hath been so tender of you, that He hath, upon his own Revenue and Credit, endeavoured to support even foreign Wars, that He might be least uneasy to you, or burdensome to His People. And let me say, that though this Marriage be according to Moses's Law, where the Husband can give a Bill of Divorce, put her away, and take another; yet I can assure you, it is as impossible for the King to part with This Parliament, as it is for you to depart with your Loyalty, Affection, and dutiful Behaviour you have hitherto shewed towards Him.

Let us bless the King, for taking away all our Fears, and leaving no Room for Jealousies; for those Assurances and Promises He hath made us. Let us bless God and the King, That our Religion is safe, That the Church of England is the Care of our Prince, That Parliaments are safe, That our Properties and Liberties are safe. What more hath a good Englishman to ask, but that This King may long reign; and that this Triple Alliance of King, Parliament, and People, may never be dissolved?

Abuses in Elections.

A Bill for punishing Disorders committed in Elections to Parliament, was read the First time.

Irregular Writs issued and Returns made in Recess.

Resolved, &c. That the Matter concerning the Electing and Returning of Persons to serve in Parliament, since the last Session, be taken into Consideration, the first Business To-morrow Morning, at Nine of the Clock: And that the Persons so returned do forbear Sitting, till this Matter be determined: And that no other Business intervene.

Thanks for Speech.

Ordered, That such Members of this House as are of his Majesty's Privy Council, be desired to return the humble and hearty Thanks of this House, to his Majesty for his gracious Speech: And to acquaint his Majesty, That this House will take the Matter of his Majesty's Speech into further Consideration, on Friday Morning next.

And then the House adjourned till To-morrow Morning, Nine of the Clock.