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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Monday, November 8, 1669.
[Consideration of the Report of the Commissioners of Accounts resumed. (fn. 1)]
Sir Robert Howard.] Judgment of the Commissioners of Accounts ought to be universally taken—Money charged in 1663, and not put to account till 1665— Money paid to ships twice; flat condemnations as can be—15 Edward III. Buying of the King's debts then was a crime—Some now bought for ten or twelve shillings in the pound—If we let these things go, we shall add another miscarriage to all the rest, that is, of this House—If the person accused [Sir George Carteret] can object any thing against the Commissioners, we ought to hear him, otherwise to proceed to judgment—It is our misfortune that we are still lost in the bud.
Sir George Carteret.] That when Tickets were sold, he had 400,000l. in cash, it is said; but that was all upon tallies, and not cash—The Commissioners have had all his books ever since he came before, them—Desires that book [the cash-book] may be sent for.
Mr Vaughan (fn. 2).] Pardons may stop judgment; therefore moves to proceed to judgment.
Sir Robert Atkins.] Presumes, that if the Commissioners were called in, they would tell you, these observations they have given are not judgments. If they intended them judgments, they would not have called them observations—Moves to have the paper read— Supposes he will have a rebuke, if his paper be by way of traverse or reflection on the Commissioners.
Sir Richard Temple.] We have as much from the Commissioners as ever we can have—They have obeyed your commands by giving it in writing, which is all you can expect—Thinks it unparliamentary to deliver what a man would say, in writing.
Mr Waller.] The Commissioners have showed great integrity, and another virtue also, great moderation— Their observations seem to him in the nature of a special verdict; they know not whether to condemn or clear him—The Judge then ends it not, but consults the rest of his brethren in the Exchequer Chamber—For us to resolve in an hour that which they would not do in a year, is strange—The proper thing now is to consider the observations, whether they be rules of judgment, or not —Doing unjustly is worse than losing time; and let rumour rule and reign in the streets, not here, though there may be reason sufficient for it—Would have the Commissioners called in.
Mr Garroway.] They have returned six judgments into the Exchequer—They had not come to us, but that we sent for them—They are not ready for the rest till they have the Earl of Anglesea's accounts—Moves to judge them misdemeanors.
Wednesday, November 10.
[Resolved, That no Member of the House, of the Long Robe, do, during this Session, plead in any cause, as Counsel, at the House of Lords, without leave of the House asked, and granted after ten of the clock.]
Mr Waller.] When the Apostles met, the Emperors had a Law against Conventicles—Would have oyl rather than vinegar poured into the wound—An argument from the genius of the nation is not always ill—Says, He has asked the people in London why they did not build their Churches? They say, they are afraid to be whipped into them—Would rather have the Conventicles regular than irregular.
Sir Thomas Littleton.] We have had them in King James's and King Charles's time, but not considerable; they increased then by the change in the Churchmen— If the Churchmen then changed, and Doctrine too, why might not they? The persecution then, instead of working out, increased many more—Would have any man tell him, when ever any rebellious meeting came out of a Conventicle that was tolerated by Law—Would have the Bill committed, but the numbers the Bill is consined unto enlarged.
Sir Philip Warwick.] Many (of Littleton's) arguments tend rather to a toleration than a destroying the Bill— When King Charles I. came to speak with the Pope's Legate (then in England) and when an address was desired by him to Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury; he said, "he did not think Popery more easy to be established in England than he found it;" and we, having reason on our sides, take the Papists up to throw them down— For the season of this Bill, it is best when the House thinks it seasonable, and not what any private man thinks —Would have the Clause of transportation left out, and the number to be twelve at the least.
Mr Henry Coventry.] If King James's and Queen Elizabeth's times were Popish, the tables in the Chapels stood Altar-wise—Was told by one at Rome, that "if ever Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury, outlives the Puritan faction, he will be worse to the Church of Rome than Luther or Calvin, for he will unite Parties to Conformity."—When he was young, being abroad, a gentleman told him this.
Sir John Birkenhead.] Three gentlemen, yet alive, that can testify that bonfires were made at Rome for Laud's death —For the Star-chamber order about setting tables Altarwise, people might do it, or not do it; it was only recommended—Those in the emperors time fought for the Emperor, but show me such as have fought for the King —What Laud did in his time was by the Attorney General's and Sollicitor General's approbation, and who those were you know.
Mr Edward Seymour.] Would not have us Antipodes to all nations, to make people labour under oppressions. The inquisition of Spain is a cause of the decay of that Monarchy—The King's Proclamation, and this Bill, very different—This Law will punish none but such as are truly conscientious, which we would avoid in discourse—Would have no farther proceeding in the business.
Sir Winston Churchill. (fn. 3)] St Paul, reputed the Great Fanatic of his time, had done nothing against the Law nor against Cæsar—If these men were such, he should be for them; but such as we have asked our lives and fortunes of being the ringleaders, he has reason to fear his life and fortune—These are people that use double arts of making false representations to the King, that they are good and rich people, and great—They disperse rumours in saying, the King has been at Conventicles, and that such as are the King's Privy-Council are theirs—Thinks us bound by our allegiance to give the King faithful counsel in this business—Let us tell the King this day, what is the sense of this nation.
Sir Richard Temple.] Would have the Committee allow the number so many as may not be inconsistent with the peace of the nation—Would have the King do as the King of France has done, to regulate his Clergy, as well as expell the Protestants.
Mr Love.] Being at Rome amongst the Jesuits, they told him, he might be free in discourse of Religion; and amongst other things they said, "Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury, is our great enemy; for what we bring about in an age, he would do in a year or two." Replied upon Birkenhead and Coventry.
Mr Sollicitor Finch.] No man more tender of consciences than he is—He finds that our Religion, called by our enemies the States Religion, because established by Law, is the persecution, and finds occasion is taken to rip up former miscarriages in the Church, and a scandal laid upon Bishop Laud, whose legacy can never be forgotten; "You that kill me, Ne veniant Romani"— Popery can never come into England, but upon the shoulders of a Puritan—He cannot bear a reproof from himself, if silent in this matter—We have a greater security for the Church than any nation has—If we suffer this question, what Church are you of?—If it be here and there, it is no where—Generally mankind will be for the Religion established by Law; when that coertion ceases, where will you find your Church?—There was never any time that a peaceable man was persecuted for his religion. He that thinks it necessary to worship God in Conventicles, will call it a persecution to be denied it; and therefore will use all means to rid himself of it— The men in rebellion were wise men in their generations, and have taught us what to do in suppression of these meetings.
Thursday, November 11.
First Observation against Sir George Carteret.] All moneys received by him out of his Majesty's Exchequer, are by the Privy-seals assigned for the particular services; but no such thing is observed or specified in his payments, whereby he has assumed to himself a liberty to make use of the King's treasure for other uses than is directed.
Commissioners of Accounts, Lord Brereton.] All Carteret's Ledgers will prove it; he has in effect confessed it, because not practicable—Each sum, what, and why, by the instructions of the Navy, are to be specified once every year, to assert, under his hand, to the Lord Admiral, the state of the Treasury, which they conceive the whole office of the Navy ought to observe.
Colonel Thompson, a Commissioner.] 2,027,000l. was assigned for victuals, wages 900,000l. and but 613,000l. paid; which, if all had been applied, would have prevented much discontent amongst the seamen—160,600l. lying in his hands of the King's money—No warrant from any person in authority to issue out moneys for the use not designed for—Accounts in time of war and peace kept equal, but not so in the office of Ordnance—32,800l. paid in tickets—Five and six months the Navy unpaid, when money in sufficient. N. B. By observation, the Commissioners mean partly judgments, and partly inquisitions into frauds, neglects, and miscarriages; and Lord Brereton thinks the observations belong to all, or some of them.
Mr Sollicitor Finch.] Embezzlements of public treasure cannot be prosecuted with too much concern—In an offence in the House to the House, the person has withdrawn—Some gentlemen, in effect, say, if he will have Counsel, after he has confessed, he may; if they will proceed to Judicature, then all that it amounts to is no more than transmitting the debt into the Exchequer—Out of the Exchequer, upon accusation that forfeits offices, they are heard by Counsel—Some say, if to proceed by way of Bill, then hear him—Answers, Possibly Counsel may convince you, if there was no ground of accusation, and so you retract the impeachment.
When the ablest man shall be speechless in the House of Commons, will you put this gentleman to answer for himself, with all his troubles about him? They may say that for him, which he cannot but brokenly and interruptedly say for himself.
Sir Robert Atkins.] The Commissioners say that this is not a judgment, but an inquisition—His agents have been very negligent in their duty, and possibly they may shift it off to their superior—Concludes it is but reasonable he should be heard by his Counsel.
Sir Richard Temple.] In point of Bastardy the Bishop certisies the Court, and they proceed upon it without any farther hearing of Counsel—This Commission of Accounts is of the same nature—Counsel, in Michael de la Pole's case, was for matter of fact denied in Judicature.
Friday, November 12.
Mr Ayliffe, a Counsel for Sir George Carteret.] Acknowledges divers moneys not applied to the uses intended, his Letters Patents authorising him to pay according to order, from three Commissioners of the Navy; if he has order from three, he is justified, and the Duke of of York has a plenipotentiary power—Hopes it a full justification—Hopes the Lord Treasurer's order is a justification; and lastly the King himself, by his command —All which orders he has to show; if in these he has done disservice, it would have been a far greater to have disobeyed.
Sir Robert Atkins.] The Counsel has offered no matter of fact, but only matter of record, as the Patent and the book of Articles of the Navy, in the nature of a record, and therefore consistent with the order of the House.
Mr Coleman.] Say the Counsel, "It is no inference the Commissioners draw from the premises, "they confess all" —But the premises do not warrant the conclusion"—If the Commissioners were present, they would have cleared the doubt.
Sir Robert Howard.] If the Counsel say they have not showed matter of law to the Commissioners, and will not show it you, desires you will hear of any thing, but what the Commissioners have heard of already.
Mr Milward.] Does not apprehend the Commissioners of Accounts to be Judges, and we only Executioners— They have proceeded in this business not as final determination, and that the person is criminal; but it is left for you to judge, therefore would have proceedings as in other cases.
Sir Thomas Meres.] He may possibly say, "that proofs are come in lately, which he had not ready at his hearing before the Commissioners"—Then the work is endless —The Commissioners offering it for a truth, he must not call it an inference.
Sir Humphry Winch.] The Counsel say, he had a superior order to the Privy-seals, and therefore no crime— He suspects, that under the notion of matter of fact, he shall not be heard at all, which made him yesterday for his hearing by Counsel—He must be heard to matter of fact, or not at all; his Patent is matter of fact, &c. —The Commissioners apprehended not themselves as Judges, and proceeded not as such; if you take theirs for a judgment, put it then to the Question.
Mr Henry Coventry.] It was said that the Commissioners should not be here with the Council on an equal foot—Carteret told you he had no custody of his books; you give him leave to have a sword to defend himself, will you now make him keep it in his scabbard? Believes no Court in Westminster will admit those observations for judgments—The Lords have as much before them as you have, and if you have no more, no impeachment can be grounded upon it.
Mr Montagu, Attorney to the Queen.] "Final," in the Act, is a return of the judgment into the Exchequer, under hand and seal of the Commissioners—No man but shall have execution suspended, if he can make his cause better.
Sir Robert Howard.] Challenges any learned man to show him a precedent that ever any man was impeached upon greater matter than this against Carteret, by the Commissioners—Desires that Mr H. Coventry might speak again—Believes that Birkenhead would scarce overtake him.
Sir Charles Wheeler, taking an expression from Sir Nicholas Carew as a reflection, which was, "That he believed the Commissioners had as much Logic as that gentleman (Wheeler) for they quoted Aristotle," said,] I desire you will keep that man to order; if you will not, I will; directing his speech to the Speaker.
Sir Robert Howard.] This gentleman would be more useful to us than you, Mr Speaker, in fighting for the orders of the House [after mentioning his former services to the King]—Would have him ask pardon of the House at the Bar.
Sir Robert Carr.] Starts Mr Brunkard's case with Sir John Morton, and would enquire into the reason of stopping the information in the King's Bench, by Sir John Morton against Mr Brunkard, about the sending the said Sir John a Challenge.
Sir Robert Howard.] Sorry to see one great confusion thrown out with another—Moves to have the Commissioners of Accounts again called in [which being agreed to] the Commissioners of Accounts explain the word "Observation."
Lord Brereton.] In some cases we look upon ourselves as final Judges, but in some only so far as to state matter of fact; in other cases, where judgment of misdemeanor is, to be in the nature of inquisitors, and to leave judgment to you—They have heard him by his Counsel, and in the Paper, No. 8, and No. 9, Sir George Carteret protested he has nothing farther to say—They have always allowed of any warrant that directed the payment either from the King or Lord Treasurer.
Saturday, November 13.
Sir John Morton.] Coming to the Crown-Office, the Attorney-General told him, he need not put himself to farther trouble—He was informed there was a letter sent to him by Mr Secretary Trevor [to stop proceedings.]
Mr Vaughan.] All Courts proceed to judgment, if the party will not cross examine—Some Courts examine by Commissioners, as the Star-chamber, &c. If we take proofs the Commissioners have not had, we make void the Law, and by quitting the person, clap perjury upon all the evidences the Commissioners have received, which makes them conclude Guilty.
Sir Thomas Osborne.] As to new evidence, doubts whether we have power to receive it; if the gentleman has any new evidence, he would not have the House hear it, but return it to the Commissioners that they may give us their judgment upon it, and adds he would have it done in a limited time.
Sir Robert Howard.] He either knew it, or not knew it; if he knew it, he has neglected you; if not, himself; the thing does not deserve such a long day—No security for future times, unless the carriage of the present time be redressed—Under the specious pretence of private humanity, we lose all humanity to the nation.
Wednesday, November 17.
Commissioners of Accounts.] On Monday last Sir George Carteret brought from the Officers of the Exchequer the original order from his Majesty; the Commissioners took Mr Burgess's oath upon it. Observation, The warrant was the 20th of November, 1665. Order for the sum to the Lord Treasurer, and the Privy-seal subsequent to that warrant—Many Privy-seals, but not one penny to the Victualler, though to many other uses.
Sir George Carteret.] When the King came in, he was placed Treasurer of the Navy, which was formerly given him by his Majesty. He has attended the Commissioners, to give them all satisfaction, which, it seems, he has not, and they have made observations on his proceedings. He protests he has not paid one penny, without sufficient vouchers, for the use of the war—It seems, they say, he has done nothing well, after all his pains and hazard of his person and fortune in the Plague: He came then, and with his credit kept the fleet abroad, and borrowed upon his own credit, without security, 280,000l. and has done all that possibly he could; but he will not talk of what he has done farther, though he knows many can justify it. They cannot say he ever took bribe, but has kept his Majesty's fleet abroad, when it must else have come home. He humbly submits himself to this House, He never had a discontented word from a scaman. He got above 2000 seamen, and presently raised a fort at Woolwich, with little reward but bread and cheese; one seaman only said, "he hoped for his pay when the work was done," but the rest reproved him for it.
Mr Vaughan.] Moves he may not condemn himself, before condemned; he would have him have Counsel— He says, he has proceeded according to Law; the Commissioners say, he has not—Moves he may have Counsel.
Mr Edward Seymour.] He finds the self-same persons who used arguments to hinder the Bill of Accounts, use the same now; but it is not a Question now whether it be a hard Law, or not, but whether it be a Law, or not —The Exchequer, upon judgment given, proceed to execution—When the person has been heard two years by the Commissioners, will you do the same thing over again? Would have you proceed to judgment upon this observation, whether it be a misdemeanor or not.
Sir Richard Temple.] As to his charge, "That divers sums of money have been diverted from their proper uses by the Privy-seals." He admits the thing, but tells you, by divers arguments, why he did so. The High Treasurer, when a Privy-seal is directed, to refuse it, though a far greater officer, cannot answer it. Were it but an error, it might be borne with; but the result of all our mischiefs came from our own mismanagements, and the course he took to pay where he would, occasioned that no man would trust—The thing has scarce the face of an account—By this means it lay in his power to gratify whom he listed—He that would be tied to no rule, looks as if he would be tied to no account—He directed divers sums of money, without any warrant at all. Nothing can divest a Privy-seal but a Privy-seal, or the Great Seal— Officers are not answerable for their servants, but for what is done in their office, especially he being no sworn officer—This 50,000l. lent by Deering, were moneys of the King's, to carry on a private trade. Fenn, before he was Sir George Carteret's Cashier, was not able to drive a trade of 500l. It is worth your enquiry how this single person's credit must support the nation, after we have given so much money; former merit does not annull a crime; in due time it may mitigate the punishment.
Sir John Duncombe.] Payment of Privy-seals, in their order as they come, would have hindered any man from dealing, but it was more equality to pay several people three shares, as far as it would go. He that does not this, will never keep an office in credit.
Sir Robert Howard.] Are Privy-seals delivered upon no prudent ground?—He did not ask for this latitude, but did make use of it without; the latitude he took, gave his servants occasion to do what they did.
Sir Philip Warwick.] Has taken pains in the Treasury, but has neither sown nor mown in it. It was ever left to the discretion of the Treasurer to distribute where there was most necessity—The nature of the war quite altered from what it was; formerly fighting at distance, but now broad side to broad side.
Mr Sollicitor Finch.] Legally he may be guilty of a misdemeanor, and equitably not—To equity he will speak —To the instructions, whether he has paid it to the King's prejudice? If it appears he has paid it to things less necessary, the charge is good, and not to the best of the King's service; he singly being the judge, the Commissioners of the Navy could not judge—That he paid it to Fenn is clear—'Till he find these things clear, he must not find him guilty of misdemeanor.
Mr Henry Coventry.] Would have the accusation of matter of fact determined in a particular fact specified, and so from the substance of that matter of fact determined. If it does not appear that the servant was faulty, you have not heard him yet; so if you will proceed to the equity, without hearing all persons, it is a hard way of trying.
Sir Robert Atkins.] The Act saying, "the Commissioners must give it under their hands and seals," if it be a judgment by observation, it is then a general and an uncertain judgment—It is plain that but 250,000l. has been otherwise employed than upon seamens wages; but this observation does not import any misemployment; but no observation of any particular instance, they being but in the nature of objections against his accounts. The observations were drawn up before Sir George Carteret's answer to them. The only direction in his Patent is, that he is not to issue out moneys but by the warrant of at least three Commissioners of the Navy; his Patent is a greater authority than the Privy-seal, being under the Great Seal—Without reflection upon the Commissioners, it is possible they may not be versed in matters of Law so as to give judgment; affidavit is never admitted for evidence in any Court; this, you know, they presented you with—Mr Deering denies any sharing with Mr Fenn.
Thursday, November 18.
[Sir John Birkenhead reports from the Committee, to whom the Bill for suppressing seditious Conventicles was reserred, that they were informed of divers Conventicles, and other seditious Meetings in Westminster, near the Parliament, which they conceived to be not only an affront to the Government, but also of imminent danger to both Houses of Parliament, and the peace of the Kingdom (fn. 4).]
Mr Henry Coventry.] You have made a Law to inspect accounts, and to examine upon oath; he would have Commissioners with power to enquire into the designs of persons, who would alter the Government, and persuade dissolving of Parliaments; for he takes treason to be as great a crime as cozening the King of his money.
Mr Edward Seymour.] Hopes the zeal for the quiet of the nation will not be so darkened, as to reproach the Government—Knows not the reason of Coventry's motion, unless the persons should, with folded arms, sigh out their grievances, if common same must bring people under trouble.
Sir Winston Churchill.] Observes seditious people whispering with many of the House, to give themselves reputation, and to the great scandal of our Members. Meaning Henry Nevile, Major Salloway, and such.
It was moved, and afterwards resolved, That the House should, with their lives and fortunes (fn. 5), stand by his Majesty, in maintenance of the Government, both in Church and State. To which
Sir Robert Howard said,] He wonders any man should press such a question; for his part, he thinks, that if any man should ask it him without doors, that either he wanted loyalty, or the person that asked it wanted judgment—We have taken the oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy, and other oaths, and think that the evidence of the action is greater testimony than we can give by any vote here.
Sir Fretchv. Holles.] Complains of Mr Offley, a Lawyer, for saying "That he did basely and unworthily in speaking against Lady (fn. 6) Lee's Bill."
Mr Waller.] The first thing we ask of the King is freedom of speech, which is a Petition of Right, not Grace—The King of France has worn out duels that would have worn him out. This gentleman has taken that course, and, though a man of gallantry, takes the true remedy, which is, complaint to you.
Friday, November 19.
Sir Thomas Clifford.] The fleet lies at 1500l. charge a day, and it is better for the King to take up money at interest, than to buy commodities for the Navy at double rates upon credit—The Swedes are a "mercenary" people, and the Tripartite League (fn. 7) cannot go forward without them, which is our great concern, and untill that be done, we shall remain uneasy in our affairs.
Sir Robert Howard.] We had given the King two things, Money, and the good management of it, if we had taken care for the bestowing it before we give it. When the world shall see under what fatalities we govern affairs, will they give us reputation abroad? especially when the Commissioners tell us that mismanagement has been the ruin of our affairs—If we give money, what assurance have we that the same mismanagement shall not be now as was before? That by our Vote the King and Kingdom may stand together, we must be careful of the distribution of the money. The League will not believe we can give them better assistance than formerly, when we go slowly on for redress of grievances—Hopes that by the adjournment of the Debate we may have our liberties, that they may not be shut up when we have done the money-business.
Mr Henry Coventry.] If the Swedes should know you approve here for current the word "mercenary," it would take their alliance from you—When it lies not with the convenience of a Prince to furnish men or ships, must they that take money be called "mercenary?" Hopes that word will not pass for current here, for it may divert their good intentions to us in this League.
Mr Secretary Trevor.] It is said, in a week we may hear from the Lords; but what we do to-day will not have any influence either upon the Lords, or Accounts, being but preparatory. What we do here is well known abroad, and they make their fruit of it; by the steps of England, all the world will follow. Hopes there is no precipitation in the thing by considering of it.
Sir Robert Carr.] The last Session little was effected but the Supply; instead of an adjournment we had a prorogation, and expects no less this Session, and mentions the Message out of the Journal, sent by the King last Session.
Mr Milward.] If the Lords will not do us right, are not the King and Commons able to do it? Therefore let not the Lords be a hindrance to us in our proceeding in the King's business. The King has never denied us right; what offender has he ever kept from justice?