Grey's Debates of the House of Commons: Volume 1. Originally published by T. Becket and P. A. De Hondt, London, 1769.
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Wednesday, November 6.
[Sir Thomas Littleton reported from the Committee, appointed to draw up the Heads of the Accusations against the Earl of Clarendon, several particulars brought in by several Members, amounting in the whole to seventeen.]
Mr Edward Seymour.] After having charged the Lord Chancellor, in general, thus expressed himself: He makes the earth groan by his building (fn. 1) (the monument of his greatness) as we have done under his oppression—and speaking of the King's being a Papist, said, As if the ills he had done must be supported by greater (fn. 2).
Sir Thomas Littleton.] (On presenting the Articles.) If he did not the crimes alleged, he is able to clear it upon others—He whined after a peace—At the beginning of the war we had no preparations—The wind was wonderfully in a corner, that the Dutch could not come out— He gave perpetual assurance that the French would not come out—He made plots, and a Committee of Lords and Commons appointed to enquire; but all came to no effect; nothing discovered. He made those plots as a ground to raise an army.
The Commons do of course send to the Lords—Lord Mordaunt's business from an accusation of a particular person; this from the Commons of England—The course is, that the Lords do desire him to be secured.
Mr Henry Coventry (fn. 3).] The things urged against Lord Clarendon, if proved, make him past excuse.
Lord Cornbury (fn. 4).] If any one article in this charge be proved, Lord Clarendon will submit to the rest.
[Another particular touching the dividing the fleet, being delivered in, was added to the rest; and the heads again read at the table (fn. 5); on which a debate arose, whether the heads of the accusations brought in against the Earl of Clarendon should be referred to a Committee to take the proofs.]
Sir Robert Howard.] Suppose the Earl of Clarendon be committed, 'tis no more than what a great man, the Duke of Buckingham, lately has been (fn. 6)—The only injury, though clear, is imprisonment—Suppose proof comes to the Committee, you have no witnesses upon oath, and so the Committee can make no more report than they have done.—His inconvenience, to be imprisoned only for a few days; Ours, to let a person go free with such a charge—No crime left out in the charge, bating insulting the King.—If the charge be not true, every member that delivered the charge exposed to ruin.
Col. Birch (fn. 7).] Said, that Sir William Pennyman, an evidence against Lord Strafford, was checked for not offering to give his evidence.
Sir Robert Howard.] It may seem rational for a Committee to examine, but never known in proceedings in law—If witnesses were known, they would be visited; they could say words, but not oaths; and might fly from what they said, and so no evidence.
Mr Vaughan.] The weightiest charge he ever had seen or read of.—The King is concerned to have his subjects hearts alienated from him—That this House, the ultimate refuge for complaints against great offenders, may be so.
In Parliament, the Lords, in matter of their privilege and jurisdiction ancient—About Hen. VI.'s time—Before that time witnesses never swore before the Lords— Refer, to a Committee of Grievances, proceedings, where a thing is but handed to the Parliament by way of suggestion.
Hen. VI. §. 28. Michael de la Pole was charged, that ballads were made that he was not faithful to the King— Upon his confession of such a fame, the Commons desired he might be committed; but the Lords thought it not fit, till the Commons had exhibited a charge, which was not sufficient upon common fame; but nothing to be found how the Commons proceeded—Refers to later precedents.
Accusing is in the nature of a plaintiff:—That the evidence of the plaintiff should be heard, and not the defendant's, is against reason—Some witnesses not to be had; (in the Lords House)—We have not power to bring a witness directly before us. A man is safe that delivers himself upon oath; but if not upon oath, subject to Scandalum magnatum.—Voluntary evidence and compelled are two different things.
We would have all things done to us as a grand jury. Witnesses ought to be private.—The evidence comes not out of fairy land, where there is no access.—Where witnesses come not in voluntarily, we must proceed without evidence.
Sir John Holland.] No man impeached in the House of Commons, but blasted for ever after; therefore we should be wary how we proceed—If any person will undertake to make it good, as Sir Henry Vane did Lord Strafford's impeachment, he is for an impeachment.
Mr Seymour.] Speaking of precedents, said, That precedents in the church by the fathers are rather to facilitate assent, than impose belief—fitter for lower courts than a Parliament.—As soon as their own matter is accorded, treason is done away, as in the late precedents. One argument of Lord Clarendon's guilt is, that he has not put himself upon his tryal all this while—We are now disputing whether we shall ever impeach any person.—Of his own knowledge, many persons have been menaced in case they give evidence. Serpens qui serpentem devorat sit draco. Lord Clarendon has reserved to himself the monopoly of bribes. He says, he has a moral assurance of the proof of all his charge.
Sir Thomas Gower.] 15 Edw. III. Lord Latimer, accused of crimes within and without the kingdom, saved to himself the right of a Peer, and he would answer any particular person.—Lord Neville demurred; the impeachment was put in; and two Knights were present when the evidence was examined before the Lords.—De la Pole, Duke of Suffolk, impeached for high treason; the Lords came to the Commons to confer—The Speaker put in the impeachment—no witnesses examined, for the fact was notorious.
Sir Robert Howard.] If we proceed only by the common law, we may be censured at some of the bars below; we must do it to satisfy, and then not satisfy by doing it.—Though common law has its proper sphere, 'tis not in this place—we are in a higher sphere. If impeachments of this nature be not allowed, we have no way left of impeaching a great person. Michael de la Pole so charged, and Lord Chancellor, who then governed all, and probably in the fault then.
Sir Henry North.] Says, the amends he can make for any impertinency is not to hold them long. Understands the charge upon common fame only. Being without evidence, moves to have the articles argued head by head, what they amount unto.
Sir Robert Atkins.] We have things at the third hand; persons without doors say they know it by information— Urges the shame of accusing an innocent person; and credulous persons will retain some of the accusations, though false.
Sir William Lowther (fn. 8).] In Parliament 1 Caroli, out of Rushworth, common same a good ground of proceeding in any accusation from the House of Commons —Resolved then upon the question in Dr Turner's case against the Duke of Buckingham.
Mr Waller.] The door was locked in the Debate of Lord Strafford's and the Archbishop of Canterbury's case— The reason, because of the greatness of the men—The King might dissolve the Parliament before the impeachment.
Sir John Holland.] In Lord Strafford's case information was to the Committee of Grievances by Sir John Clotworthy—He moves for particular charge before impeached—Torches a-far off make greater show than near at band. From Lord Bacon.
Sir Charles Wheeler (fn. 9).] Charges him with countenancing the Nonconformists—He charges the Clergy with drunkenness in the proclamation, forgetting gluttony, himself so guilty of—He made many a poor gentleman believe at Paris, that he came from his Embassy in Spain, full of money—He sent Prince Rupert into Germany—Engrosses all money and counsels—Corresponds with Cromwell, and had money from him—Oppressed the Duke of York, till his alliance with his daughter.
[The question being put, that the heads of the accusation brought in against the Earl of Clarendon be referred to a Committee to take the proofs, and report; it passed in the negative 194 to 128. The House then proceeded on the heads of the Accusation.]
Thursday, November 7.
Sir Thomas Osborne (fn. 10).] The King ready to change his religion!—No money remaining—No person in employment, but who can buy it—We are upon our last legs— No one man ever had more employments— Threatens any man that gave advice—No vessel to swim without his hand at the rudder—No money issued out of the treasury without his approbation—Sir William Coventry brought orders out of the Chancellor's closet, when the King was with him—If any other men had the thoughts, they had not the power—He has no pique against him, but as he is one of the four hundred (fn. 11) (of the House of Commons) thought by the Chancellor useless and inconsiderable.
[Chatham Business intcrposed (fn. 12).]
Sir John Duncombe.] The business of the fortifications was not in the commission of the ordnance, but in a commission by itself; the Commissioners of the Ordnance would not meddle, being a thing they were not versed in.
'T was said by Sir John Duncombe (fn. 13), that what orders were given by his Majesty were only verbal; that they had done their best, and nothing lay upon them but directions, which, they say, were performed.
Sir Thomas Littleton.] No precedent, modern or ancient, where witnesses were examined when the complaint arose within doors—If the words charged were spoken at the Privy Council, no way to prove them but an address by the body of the House to the King to give leave to those Lords to attend a Committee of the Commons to give evidence.
Mr. Waller.] Burleigh plodded fifty years for a fortune, and the Chancellor got more in five—Burleigh's not by counselling Queen Elizabeth to raise a standing army. She had four subsidies, and beat her enemies with two, and gave two back again—The lawyers were against Lord Strafford; he was unhappy he was not bred a lawyer—Strange! that the General set us right by an army—And a Chancellor advise to govern by one —He is Sampson among the Philistines; Lord Clarendon carries the gates and walls away upon his back— This man accused so to carry our walls, the shipping— Those walls destroyed to build his.
Mr Henry Coventry (fn. 14).] Abhors the author, as he does the crimes, if proved—The arguments are not convenience, or inconvenience; just, or not just. Impeachment is as fair a condemnation as we can give him—Lord Latimer's estate and blood restored, because illegally attainted—The King spoke at his death about Lord Strafford.
Sir Richard Temple.] A fact done, somebody must be presented, and who but the most probable person— King's party ill rewarded—King's credit lost, and trade —He knows some of the charge to be true—Michael de la Pole's case, only rumours that he would sell the kingdom to the French.
Friday, November 8.
Saturday, November 9.
Mr Steward.] If ever any offence was treason by the Common Law, this offence comes the nearest. The judges had once a power of declaring treason, as they have now of felony—Sir John Talbot, in Edw. III. convicted upon declarative treason—'Till Lord Strafford's time no declarative treason since the statute of 25 Edw. III.
Mr Waller.] Looks upon the first article as a new form of government, like Sir Thomas More's Utopia, Plato, and Oceana—Government by Bashaws—Our late rebellion had Commons, but in this government not so much as a Rump left—It outgoes the 5th of November. Both Houses blown up, and slavery by this upon posterity—This we may reasonably think, but the measure of tryal must be law.
Sir Francis Goodrick.] John Imperial's case, the Genoa Ambassador, declared treason by Act of Parliament, but was felony at law before. In cases not capital before, the Parliament declares no treason.
Mr Vaughan.] Was this treason at any time? Though it may be taken away, yet by the nature of this we shall know the nature and weight of these offences. That statute speaking of petty treasons, if it come in question for the future, it shall be declared by Parliament.
25 Edw. III. the King's eldest daughter violated; either it must be treason, adultery, or fornication—Not felony before; no misprision, because revealed to the King in council—To advise his Prince in his necessities must not be with violating the laws—Glanville's Seductio Domini Regis.
To render the King as a person that hath broken his oath, and advised by a person that knows the laws, and at once advises to subvert them all—The King in no danger of the law, but in danger of a defection of his subjects—He asserts all this not in my Lord Chancellor, but the article.
In Talbot's case, the King and Lords declared it treason; but it was not, the Commons not joining. The declaratory power in the Lords is gone, but the declaratory power in the Parliament not. By enacting (speculatively as a lawyer) not, but by Bill without doubt.
Sir Richard Temple.] This article is treason in 25 Edward III. In the insurrection of the Villains to abolish the law against villanage, but to obey all other laws— Bradshaw and Barnard in Oxfordshire—To throw down inclosures declared levying war against the King and against the government; for those commissioned by him—Story devised, though he did not actually levy, war, and was executed.—Story's case.
Sir Thomas Clarges (fn. 15).] Hugh Pine's case, that the King was unfit to govern, and would be led away like a child with an apple—As unfit to govern as his shepherd—Lord Strafford said, he has known that words may make a man a heretic, but not a traitor.
[The question being put, That the Earl of Clarendon, upon the first head of Accusation, be impeached of treason, it passed in the negative, 172 to 103, and the consideration of the rest of the heads was adjourned to the 11th (fn. 16).]
Monday, November 11.
Sir Robert Howard.] Moves to have the charge read head by head, voted; and presumes such evidence may be given as to insure the House to pass them—He has evidence that assures him of the article of the standing army.
Sir Thomas Littleton.] The matter of fact easily made out. The Chief Justice's place of the Common Pleas always in competition for the profits with the Chancellor's place—His purchases beyond any Keeper's place.
Sir Robert Howard.] Thinks it was treason to sell the guards, if an enemy was in being. 'Tis the way to confirm somebody else in the sale of Tangier too—A great man has said, if it could not be kept, it might be sold—He has heard the King of France should say, he hoped his next purchase should be London.
Mr Vaughan.] Dunkirk was an acquisition by arms; and therefore not alienable—Tangier, a portion with his wife, and therefore he might dispose of it—Dunkirk as much the King's dominion as Scotland or Ireland, and to sell it is treason by the Law.—Once, but now repealed. The ultimate power of deciding a doubt in law was in the House of Peers, which was the King in Parliament.
Sir Edward Harley (fn. 17).] The King, apprehending that the Spanish ambassador might importune him for it, bid him prepare an Act for annexing it to the Crown of England— The Act of 1,500,000l. does, he conceives, declare it to be part of the King's dominions. He left there, in ready money, as appears, 9640l. according to the settlement of 600l. a week.—A place of extraordinary relief to us.
Mr Dowdswell let slip a word, viz. violent stream against the Chancellor; called to the bar by many; at last put to explain himself—he professed no reflective intention, and humbly craved the pardon of the House.
Mr Hampden (fn. 18).] Spoke to that part of the Act of Indemnity, wherein the person grieved should have his treble damages in any court.
Sir Thomas Littleton.] Deluding his Majesty in all foreign treaties relating to the late war. Setting out no navy, in expectation of peace, and his undertaking that the French would not engage against us, this last summer, when we expected a peace in April, and had it not till August.
Mr Waller.] He might hold correspondence with the King's enemies, and not betray him to his enemies (fn. 19).
Lord Vaughan.] Desires that "betraying his secret counsels" may be put into the article; it will be made out by a person of honour, that he would have discovered his secret counsels to his enemies. He spoke thrice to this.
Lord Vaughan.] Tied upon his honour not to discover the persons—At last, after some time, brings this answer in writing to the table, "That Lord Clarendon hath deluded his Majesty and the nation in foreign treaties and negotiations relating to the late war, and discovered his Majesty's secret counsels to his enemies."
[The question being propounded, that it may be declared, by the Members that gave the inducement for this head, whether they received information from a foreigner, or not; and the question being put, that the question be put, it passed in the negative.
The 16th article being then read, as amended, "That he hath deluded and betrayed his Majesty and the nation in foreign treaties and negociations relating to the war; and discovered and betrayed his secret counse lsto his enemies:" The question being put, that the Earl of Clarendon, upon this head, be impeached of treason, it passed in the affirmtive 161 to 89.
Sir Thomas Littleton.] Reminded the house, which he said he would prove, that Sir Edw. Spragge took his orders from Sir William Coventry, after the King had had some consultation with the Earl of Clarendon.
Tuesday, November 12.
Mr Vaughan reports] 1. That the substance of the information, 5 Car. I. in the King's Bench, against Sir John Elliot, Knight, Denzill Holles (fn. 20), and Benjamin Valentine, Esquires, and the proceedings and judgment thereupon, be reported to the House. 2. That the Resolves of the House of Commons upon the question in the year 1641, concerning the unlawfulness of the said proceedings and judgment, and other unlawful proceedings against the said Elliot, Holles, and Valentine, and other Members of Parliament, 3 Car. I. be reported to the House. 3. That a petition of both Houses to the King, in the year 1641, concerning Privileges of Parliament, be reported to the House. 4. That the case published in the printed reports of Sir George Crooke, Knight, concerning the said judgment of 5 Car. I. and the causes of giving the same, as is published in the said reports, be reported to the House. 5. That the Act of Parliament, 4 Hen. VIII, commonly intituled, An Act concerning Richard Stroude, and the consequence of the said judgment, 5 Car. I. with relation to the said Act, be reported to the House. 6. That the said Act, 4 Hen. VIII. commonly intituled, An Act concerning Richard Stroude, is a general law, extending to indemnify all and every the Members of both Houses of Parliament, in all Parliaments, for and touch ing any Bill, speaking, reasoning, or declaring of any matter or matters in or concerning the Parliament, to be communicated and treated of; and is a declaratory law of the ancient and necessary rights and privileges of Parliament.
[Then the House proceeded to the business concerning the Earl of Clarendon, when a motion was made, that the House should carry up the impeachment (fn. 21) of treason to the Lords.]
[Mr Edward Seymour was ordered to carry it up to the Lords (fn. 22).]
Wednesday, November 13.
Sir Thomas Clifford.] What we lose upon France we gain upon Scotland.—The customs raised from 14,000l. to almost 60,000l.—We get their tallow, and send them candles; their hides, and send them boots and shoes.— Manufactures they have few, because their people run most in clans, and the rest are slaves.—He would have trade continued with Scotland, lest they find other ways to vend their commodities.—Scotland is our Indies, as Colbert calls England the King of France's Indies.—Give them ease, and keep up our own manufactures.
Sir George Downing (fn. 23).] Contra. If the business of trade with them be not determined here, the business will go before the Council, where are some Scots, and so go upon unequal terms, we having no English Members of ours in the Council of Scotland.
[A report was made, by Sir Robert Brooke, from the Committee of Miscarriages, in reference to Commissioner Pett (fn. 24), and it was resolved, that the matter should be recommitted to the Committee to hear witnesses.]
Thursday, November 14.
Mr Vaughan.] Witnesses are examined in things we properly have cognizance of, as in private Bills.—As to Pett, we have no jurisdiction of the fault to punish it.— We cannot acquit him.—If the witnesses recede, the Lords may punish them, but we cannot absolve him upon witnesses clearing him. Notice has been sent to the person impeached, as to Lord Middlesex.—Witnesses were never examined to hinder indictments.
Sir Thomas Littleton.] Not to impeach Pett solely upon general information, who is a party, and a superior Officer; for, upon the same reason, Pett may impeach an Officer inferior to him, and would have other grounds than barely the General's narrative.—The reporter (who was Sir Robert Brooke) is not to report his judgment only, but the fact, unless ordered by the Committee.
Friday, November 15.
[A Petition concerning his Majesty's Plantations in America was read. Upon this business, Mr Garroway in private discourse, occasionally said, The Spanish Plantations drain the kingdom of Spain low of people.—In Mexico, and the Plantations, there are more Spaniards than in Spain; though in Mexico there are many forts of Spaniards, besides Natives, viz. Those of Spanish families born in the Indies, and who, for many generations, have inhabited there; others of half Indians and half Spaniards.— There are, from credible persons, said to be above fifteen thousand coaches in Mexico.
In Virginia there are not twenty thousand Blacks.—The English at their first arrival lose a third part at least.—Those who have lived long in those Plantations are superannuated people, and not spawners, so that they increase little in comparison of the consumption of people.—They have a constant supply out of England, which in time will drain us of people, as now Spain is, and will endanger our ruin, as now the Indies do Spain. Jamaica is so remote, that if it should be full peopled and planted they might set up for themselves, and command trade where they please, and so be of no use to us.
Sir Christopher Mimms, with 800 men, stormed a fort in Jamaica, with 4 or 5000 men in it. They asked him, Who he was? he answered, "A Shoemaker's son of Wapping; and should Oliver the Protector but send a Gentleman against the King of Spain, he would conquer all his Indies."