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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Tuesday, March 1.
Mr Garroway.] Would know whether the Distillers can make such a liquor of our native grain, as shall carry good to our southerly plantations; and how to make up the King's revenue, which arises out of foreign Brandy. If we can make such a liquor, we may spend our growth of corn that we know not what to do with.
Sir John Knight.] If we do prohibit foreign Brandy here, yet the French will carry it near to our plantations, and steal it ashore. If you prohibit it, yet much may come in notwithstanding, by connivance of searchers, and stealing it ashore. If it destroys mens bodies, then prohibit the use of it totally, both foreign and home made.
Mr Jones, Member for London.] Suppose the Distillers cannot make so good Brandy, and you prohibit foreign, and lessen the King's revenue for the private gains of the Distillers. The shipping, seamen, and trade, are concerned in it; the plantations have good by it; and it is hard to change the fantasies in the plantations after long habitude. If you prohibit it not Ireland, still you will not vend your corn, for the plantations will be supplied besides from France; so that the Distillers cannot make out what they suggest. Great profit will cause mens fantasies to be supplied, and licences may be obtained, by favour, to bring it in—Would have these people satisfy you that there are reasons that may balance your thoughts against all these considerations. He is bound to serve that great body he sits here for, London, and none of them apart, and thinks it worthy the deepest consideration.
Colonel Birch.] It seems to him as reasonable for the Distillers to desire the banishing foreign Brandy, as for the Clothiers to prohibit foreign Cloth; yet he believes, though not of grounds of beer, yet we may make as good of our own decayed Wines and Lees, and so save our money. The use of foreign Brandy, in any few years, cannot be hindered; he knows not what time may do.—Thinks his Majesty's revenue may be supplied.— Ships go already to Ireland for victuals and wool, and if they get the trade of Brandy, they will out-trade us. Their cattle now go to other parts, and all trade from us along with them. Keep a thing out by prohibitions, and it will come in as much. They place a middle cask in the vessel, and pierce the outer vessel where you will, you shall discover, it may be, Vinegar, or Beer, but no Brandy—100,000 l. debt to the King upon these cheats of the Merchant, who must not swear against himself; and the Merchant pays not, unless it comes safe into his cellar.
Sir Robert Howard.] Vend your own corn, and beef will sell, and all other things. The business of the Irish cattle, he appeals to all men, has plainly mended us. As for Brandy, we have death along with it; it burns us up. Our hot waters are sent to the Indies, good; and suppose we had no Brandy in the world, cannot we live without it? How have we ever done before? If Brandy fail, we are not undone; if rents do, we are. In Holland they forbid it, as finding their spirits lessened after drinking it. If it be stolen in, in the midst of barrels, it may be made a nusance, or the ship forfeited, and the Brandy be given to the poor of the parish. It will destroy foreign Brandy.
Mr Garroway.] If the Dutch have banished Brandy, and can go to market without it, he knows not why we should not be as industrious to make liquor of our own. No danger that it will hurt Ireland; they can shift as well as we. If care be taken that decayed wines be looked after at the Custom-house, before entered, we shall have materials; and if the Dutch can do it, why should not we?
Sir William Thompson.] The Dutch do make a certain liquor, called Rum, which is not so good. The compensation for the King will not be done with 4000 l. Though logwood be forbidden, yet it is brought in— Would have a considerable imposition laid at the Customhouse, that it may be as cheap made here as brought in, and you may have your ends answered.
Sir Richard Temple.] We may satisfy the plantations with Brandy made of Wine here, as well as from France, as has been said—Would have the Distillers heard at the Bar—Would not have it thought that there are not ways to hinder a commodity coming into England; for if we can make something like it, or near to it, it is easily done—Would not have it pass for doctrine, that because we make a thing a nusance, we distrust the King; but that the poor might the more easily wage Law against a combination of Merchants in Ireland—By the Act of Plantations, they are to take all things from hence, and bring all things hither, unless with their neighbouring islands. God has trusted the King, the nation has trusted him, and so must we. Imposition upon Brandy at home may compensate the King's revenue.
Sir George Downing.] Half the Excise is for ever, and half for the King's life. Birch's objection "of keeping the commodity out," is not easily answered. He would have a duty at the Custom-house, as well as forfeiture of the commodity; by this means all the officers will be employed, and it will be reached somewhere, and there will be no connivance in the case—The strongest string to your bow will be in the Custom-house, which will take away all dispensation and composition in the Exchequer—Plantations will require Brandy; they will have it over the belly of all Laws and Prohibitions. But how shall a man in judgment give his vote in this case? Distillers speak in their own case, and know not plantations —If a ship come thither without Brandy, it cannot vent its commodities. French plantations are within a night's sail of us; and here our troops of horse, upon the shore, cannot hinder the shallops in the night from trading with us by stealth. No Law you can make, can hinder Ireland from trading thither with Brandy—Trade will be turned into New England, and that trade we would not have enlarged.
Sir Thomas Gower.] Waters of his own making have passed the Line four times, made of cyder; likewise of honey. Irish Usquebaugh has been carried to Alexandria, and back again, good; and from Muscovy the same; it abides both heat and cold. If we cannot do it so well as the Hollanders, we surely have more knaves and fools than they. The King's revenue may be supplied by what is spent of our own making, and the revenue be the better, he believes.
Sir Thomas Littleton.] Is informed, that the Dutch have not prohibited Brandy; it proceeded no farther than a discourse. The plantations labour so under four per cent. that the Dutch are rivals to us in their trade: should you add this farther weight upon them to this they groan under, they will never bear the load—Would have it prohibited at home, and, for the Plantations, if exported, the Custom restored again. By that means, you may see whether ours may do as well as foreign, and not suffer in the intermission.
Mr Love.] Strong waters, made of barley, are ropy before they come to the Plantations. Prohibitions rather increase the commodity. They sell it cheaper, in effect, considering the duty, than it costs. As Brandy may come to the Plantations by stealth, so may Sugars, or any thing.
Sir Richard Ford.] Has bought several parcels of strong waters in Holland, but made of wheat, which has endured eighteen months, and passed the Tropies; but till gentlemen can tell certainly the way of making this Brandy, desires that Brandy may not be prohibited.
Sir Thomas Lee.] Has heard say, that Brandy is made of other ingredients than wine. As that made of wheat, it is not said but that of barley may do as well for present use; the other for longer voyages.
Wednesday, March 2.
Mr Waller.] This Bill looks more like a levying of money than a punishing; if one be poor, another must pay it. It may be of great scandal and hindrance to the Church, to make it more penal than that of the Papists. Here is a general distrust of the whole nation, in effect; jealousy upon every officer, from the highest to the lowest. The people have a kindness for persecuted people, ever since Henry VIII. and Queen Mary. These people are like childrens tops; whip them, and they stand up, let them alone, and they fall (fn. 1). The Lords would not trust tryal per pares with the Judges. In this Bill one Justice of Peace weighs down all. This is a strange requital for the trust the people have put in us. Should the people be to trust again, it is not likely it should be us, they being not tryed by themselves as the Papists are. The people naturally have a distrust of those that distrust them. The people of Rome, in their best times, would not be confined to chuse Patricians, but would chuse Plebeians, if they pleased, for officers. When Clodius saw it conduce to his ends to get the Tribuneship (of which he was incapable, because a Patrician) he suffered himself to be adopted. But against this adoption, two exceptions were found; one that he was adopted by a man of a lower rank, a Plebeian, which was unnatural, and by a younger man than himself, which took away the reputation of a father. But the people never did chuse any; no more he believes the people will ever quit any of these men. When people are trusted, they chuse well; when not, it is ever ill; therefore let these men have the same tryal the Papists have.
Sir John Birkenhead.] Anciently Juries never had any thing to do with Conventicles; but the ecclesiastical power is so enervated, that it can do nothing without the secular power. Edward I. put out five Proclamations against such Conventicles as are with us now.
Mr Henry Coventry.] The rules of our Law are drawn from the Civil Law, as the more ancient. A man in a riot, and one killed, all are principals. In the Militia, men are punished without jury; he could wish that Boscawen had made the comparison to our own, and not the Usurper's Laws—Challenges any man to show what Government ever gave leave to all meetings. In effect, it is a Government without Religion at all. More men leave their houses because they are falling, than because they have not a (fn. 2) porté-cochére, which answers "the making things wider." If these men pretend an appointment from God, they may do the same in all things. In Spain, they are content to live without a godly book, or exercise of Religion; and if they can live there under the Inquisition, they may better live under our Laws, if they have any conscience. There they can live for their gain.
Sir Richard Temple.] This promiscuous toleration is more hurtful to the Church than a general one. The French King has reduced his from a mountain to a molehill, by allowing them set and limited places for the exercise of Religion—He would not have this people thought so great as this Bill makes them.
Colonel Birch.] Would have it considered whether it be your interest, or not, to pass this Bill. A man that has no preaching near him, will take it where he can. You want only this Bill to make you more miserable than you are, in wanting people. Is it reasonable to punish men when they must go four or five miles for a sermon? This driving it into corners, looks more like toleration, than publickly allowing them Churches. The trading part of England is as the soul to the body. To whip them, and not to be able to tell them why you do so, is unreasonable, they having no Churches in many places to go to.
Sir Robert Howard.] He would have a party of people taken in, and banish all the rest, if he can make these people so considerable, that they are more than all the rest in point of interest. No man can contend for this, but he must make an ill prospect in Government. A general toleration is a spot in any Government. Queen Elizabeth's greatest power was her indulgence; though the Protestants broke faith with her at Newhaven, yet she kept up all by indulgence. All do conclude that the King of Spain's decay was the expulsion of the Moors by the Inquisition, and the Duke of Alva in Flanders. The French and Dutch Churches, here, are Conventicles by the King's power; and is it not strange that the King should have this power over strangers, and not on his own subjects? We have made a good bargain for our moneys, in getting our liberties unsought for by us [by the King's causing the business of Skinner to be erazed] to him, never to be forgotten—Therefore would have a short Act to punish them that the King does not indulge, according to his own wisdom. He thinks the King uses every thing well, and would have him given this.
Sir Robert Atkins.] Moves for a Clause in the Act "for the Magistrates to be under the same punishment in neglecting to put the Laws in execution against Papists." In that the Act is desicient. It is redundant as to the Peers, who have great Privileges already—Would have the same Law for Commons and Peers, for Papists and Nonconformists.
Sir John Bramston, who drew up the Bill.] Justices of Peace have the same power in many things as in this Act; as Swearing, Drunkenness, Alehouses, and in repair of Highways; where, though the neglect of one officer, all the Parish or Township is fined.
Thursday, March 3.
Friday, March 4.
Complaint [was] made to the House, of notice given by Mr Henry Slingsby [not a summons] to Mr Hale, Member for Hertfordshire, that a writ of Error is brought against him, by the said Slingsby, into the House of Lords.
Colonel Birch.] He has heard it yielded by the whole House, that an appeal lies to the Lords from the Courts of Westminster against any person; so then it includes Members of this House, we being in the same condition with all his Majesty's subjects.
Mr Henry Coventry.] Supposes that in all Laws a man may renunciare privilegium.—Would have the Member asked the question—Would have us expect what the Lords will do it, and not send them a Message for conference.
Sir William Lewis.] It is not in any man's power to renounce his Privilege without leave. There is danger in not taking notice of it; for if the Lords do proceed, you are in a worse condition than you were before.
Sir William Coventry.] The paper is not an order, it not being signed by the Clerk. He has heard it said, that Privilege cannot be taken away by any order or record—Would not have an unnecessary contest with the Lords, and yet the Privilege of the House preserved— If the Paper do take notice that he is a Member, and the Lords will not recall their order, and so new heats arise between us—(Answers Charlton) That in many cases the Lords have more Privilege than we; but now that Parliaments are long, we have in some cases more than they. You may obtain your ends, without reading the order, by sending up to the Lords, "that a Member of yours being served with an order, their Lordships would be pleased to take notice of it, and preserve our Privileges."
Sir Robert Atkins.] If a decree in Chancery be made against a Lord, there is no danger, by an appeal to the Lords, of taking away his Privilege, because he is present in the House of Lords, and so it is different from our Privilege—Would have the Lords applied to by way of Message. The Lords cannot be presumed to take notice of our Member; several persons may be of the same name. If your Member sues in Chancery, and gets a decree, to the undoing of the Defendant, you may justly dispense with your Member's Privilege, if an appeal be against him to the Lords.
Sir John Talbot.] In 1641, in the case of Sir Robert Pye, a Member had an extent above the value of the person's land who appealed, and the appeal was granted, and no Privilege insisted upon—Would have the Lords records searched for precedents.
Resolved, That a Message be sent to the Lords, that a Member of ours being summoned to appear before them, we desire them to be tender of (fn. 3) our Privileges.
Saturday, March 5.
Alderman Bucknall, [Alderman Forth,] and Dr Williams, [were] called in, to give an account, whether strong waters may be made, as good as Brandy, of our own grain, and will carry and keep beyond the line.
Dr Williams.] Knows that as durable and as wholesome may be made of our own grain, as that beyond the sea. The ordinary distillations here are from ill materials, and then it is not so well rectified as Brandy, and then it is adulterated besides with water, which makes it neither abide in hot nor cold countries. It will consume at least 200,000 quarters of corn.
Alderman Bucknall.] He has showed some of the spirits made of our corn, and it has not been to be known from Brandy; but the mixing it with water makes it ropy. That which we carry to Guinea is two or three times distilled. Wheat will make the best, but barley and rye may do. It may be afforded for 3s. per gallon very well, besides the duty—Has heard that there is a tax in Barbadoes upon all Brandy, the better to consume their own manufacture made of sugar.
Alderman Forth.] He has practised the trade twenty two or twenty three years, and makes as strong spirits as Brandy, of our grain, mixed with water and sugar, to make it more pleasant for women; but it is ropy upon voyages. In three months time they can make to supply the world. One quarter of malt will make 16 gallons of Brandy; one quarter of wheat will make 24 gallons of Brandy, though of the worst smutty wheat.
Mr Garroway.] Though he serves for a corporation, yet he will be tender of trade; would have the powers of Companies contracted, that they may not impose apprentices and journeymen upon such as set up the trade.
Monday, March 7.
Sir Robert Atkins.] Some copyholders were infranchising—The Counsel advised them not to make themselves freeholds, but to take leases of 2000 years, without impeachment of waste, which would take them off from Juries at Assize and Sessions, and from London Juries.
Mr Boscawen.] It is the interest both of the King and that country, to have this let for lives, that it may be improved, reserving the old rents—Desires that the Lords of the Treasury may take care that the Lands be not taken over their heads, and so both tenants and lands impoverithed, and the houses ruined.
Tuesday, March 8.
[Thanks were returned to the King, for ordering Conventicles to be prosecuted, and that his Majesty would consider the danger of them in and near London and Westminster, and would give order to put the Laws in execution against Popish Recusants.]
Wednesday, March 9.
Mr Waller.] (Occasionally) Ambiguity of Laws makes them arbitrary. In Venice they keep their Laws ambiguous, and by that means their Government is wholly arbitrary—The Judges generally lay the corruption of the Laws upon Attorneys and Sollicitors. The Clerks of Assize buying their offices of the Judges, are connived at by them; which might be helped, by making those offices saleable by the King, as in France, which would augment the revenue, and prevent the connivance of the Judges.
Mr Henry Coventry.] There is nothing in this Bill but what is as arbitrary in the Irish cattle Bill. He undervalues the Fanatics much, that thinks them not better worth than an Irish cow. If there be not power in the Ecclesiastics, it is fit it should be in the Law; therefore, never was there a more merciful Bill, that punishes, neither with blood nor banishment, a people that has punished us with both these.
Serjeant Maynard.] More power by this Bill in one Justice of Peace, than in all the Judges. In many things the Justices are trusted much, but will you so trust them, that they shall not be accountable? The party shut up for ever, if the Justice will maliciously make a record, and punish whom he will? It will be more disgrace to the party, than the sum will damage him. Though the man be ever so innocent, no remedy in the case. It was said, the Law was so in many things, which possibly we may have been too easy in; and to make this Law perpetual, it is without precedent.
Colonel Birch.] By this Bill, as you have formerly sent trade into Ireland, you will now send your people after it, unless the same Bill pass in Ireland also. Things over zealously pressed, betwixt 1620 and 1640, were the ground of all our troubles. This Bill will twist all the Sectaries into one; 13 Eliz. reconciled us all. When men are lost in the bushes, they endeavour to find the way out. There is a piece of honour in the case upon you.
Sir Richard Temple.] You ought to make all your Acts as cheap to be obeyed as disobeyed. You have taken away all means from these people of getting their livings by their professions, as Ministers or Schoolmasters, and what they do is for bread. He had a Proviso in his hand ready, that these Dissenters should not be prosecuted in the ecclesiastical Courts, who, though they come not to Church, and yet live peaceably at home, shall not be prosecuted, without special order from the King.
Mr Love, tenders a Proviso, in substance this,] That the Teachers, taking the oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy, and subscribing the 39 Articles, may, by the allowance of a Justice of Peace, teach, the doors being open, and at the time of divine service.
[The Bill passed 138 to 78, and was entitled, An Act to suppress seditious Conventicles (fn. 4).]
Thursday, March 10.
Sir Richard Temple.] Generally all Acts of Parliament did leave Commissioners to put the Act in execution, to the King's naming; and, before the Taxes, we find nothing of our naming. That is, of a new edition—Fears that the difficulty will lie on the Scots parts; but that we may not be behind-hand with the Scots, would agree with the Lords.
Sir John Duncombe, on a Motion of Sir Humphry Winch's, to give leave to Sir Robert Atkins to bring in a Bill, to remit some things imposed since the King came in.] As to comprehension, it is an incomprehensible thing, and the Motion, by the Debate, grew from a cloud as big as a hand to cover the whole hemisphere.
Mr Henry Coventry.] Take heed that it be your Church you increase; you may take enemies into your garrison. To give leave to men to bring in a Bill against all Acts of Parliament you have made, and disgrace your late Bill with this; is a power was never yet given to a Committee.
Mr Garroway.] If we can get this in one day, say the Nonconformists, what shall we do in a month? The world will say, we are given to change, and hold to nothing. Though he was not fond of the Bill yesterday, yet he now will remove his opinion since the Bill is passed, and would not have Laws that we can never serve you in the execution of.
Saturday, March 12.
Mr Sollicitor Finch.] Put the case that these Lessees (for it was moved that they should be liable to be Jurors) give a false verdict, you consent that you that are the reversioners, shall have your houses pulled down, your meadows ploughed, your woods wasted, your copyhold destroyed, which must be upon an attaint; consider then, how dangerous it will be to bring Copyholders and Leaseholders within this Bill. If they should be Jurors, it is reasonable they should have voices in chusing Knights and Burgesses of Parliament; and what an intolerable charge will that be, when the number shall be so multiplied?
Sir William Coventry.] This tends to an alteration of Government; a thing dangerous in State to create so many Freeholders, and such a Jury will always favour their own tenures against their landlords. Besides, a gentleman, by his influence upon them, may put them upon unjust things.
Sir Robert Atkins.] As the Law now stands, a 40s. man may be a Juror; and consider the mischief of the smallness of the number of 20 l. and 30 l. men; it will light heavy upon them. There will be the same inconvenience against the one as the other. The Judges fine and imprison, but none has been attainted this hundred years, by reason the Jurors will not find an attaint upon one another—Would have a provision made for a number, as well as for able men. Not one cause in Gloucestershire, but two-thirds were talesmen; sometimes eight in twelve; therefore would have it 20 l.
Sir Courtney Poole.] Would have the knavery of Bailiffs, who take money, or corn, from the Freeholders, to excuse them, be taken into consideration; and especially the Clerks of the Peace and Assize, to be punished, for their connivance upon Returns.
Mr Crouch.] Would have the Committee take care that juries be not fined for non-attendance, when they are returned at both Courts. When he ought to have marked the pannel "Aliter juratus," which he seldom does.
Monday, March 14.
Mr Henry Coventry.] No degrees in lawfull, any more than there are in truth; things are all equally lawfull and equally true. (Speaking occasionally to the Patent for the excise on Coal.) The King's power, in legally letting such a grant, is like a private gentleman's, in leasing his lands.
Sir George Downing.] Luke land (fn. 5), and Scotch coal, will serve the world.
Sir Richard Ford.] Knows not where coals are transported to any part of the world, but to the Plantations. In Holland, Hamburgh, and France, they have more commodious fuel, and cheaper and wholsomer. In Holland, coals are forbidden, unless to smiths, &c.
Colonel Birch.] Nature has, as it were, surrounded us with coals, if we had but the ingenuity of transportation. In many parts, it is three yards thick, as in Lancashire and Wales. His majesty's revenue may have compensation, if it suffer. Some say 50,000 tun is exported from Scotland; what an advantage would that be to us?
Sir William Coventry.] The increase of the Scottish importation. They having laid an impost of 80 per cent. upon ribbons, and such wares of our commodities, so that the Dutch and French bringing them these things, rather than go back empty, will load with coals, so that our trade will be wholly prevented—Would not have this complicated with the Bill of exportation of cattle and corn, for fear that good Bill should suffer by it; but would have the two Bills take their fate together.
Mr Henry Coventry.] If the farmer of this Custom cannot have his bargain made good, he may sue the King in the Exchequer; it is but a sad remedy. You cannot dispose of the King's revenue, and will you take the farm away from a person of that quality and merit, without hearing him? The French and Hollanders, rather than return empty, will give double rate for their coals. Lord Townshend's duty is but four shillings per chaldron; the half is granted to another person.