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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Thursday, February 13.
Mr Vaughan.] Anciently, deserting the House was punished with loss of wages; but now it is no punishment, wages not being taken (fn. 1)—Deserting the House for an hour or a day is of the same nature.
Friday, February 14.
[Sir Robert Brooke reports from the Committee, appointed to enquire into the miscarriages of the war, the state of the case as far as they had proceeded, contained in several papers in writing. The first paper related to the want of intelligence; which was read.]
Mr Marvell, reflecting on Lord Arlington, somewhat transportedly said] We have had Bristols and Cecils Secretaries, and by them knew the King of Spain's Junto, and letters of the Pope's cabinet; and now such a strange account of things! The money allowed for intelligence so small, the intelligence was accordingly— A libidinous desire in men, for places, makes them think themselves fit for them—The place of Secretary ill gotten, when bought with 10,000l. and a Barony—He was called to explain himself; but said, The thing was so plain, it needed it not.
Mr Vaughan.] Matters as little what the one (Marvell) says by way of exception against him, as the other (Birkenhead) by way of defence of him—Any man that understands English, knows what mis-event is, and the distinction is plain to any man that has conception.
Mr Coventry.] Intelligence is like health; we seldom or never have it perfect—Cromwell had intelligence of some gentlemen that were to surprize Plymouth; some were to be officers, and some to find money—The pretended informer gave him an account so exactly of the speeches of Lord Wilmot, the Chancellor, and Lord Ormond, that he could believe the intelligence no other than true—The person was catched and examined by Lord Ormond, confessed he was paid for his intelligence by reward in some sums of money, according to the merit of his intelligence, and so cozened Cromwell.
Saturday, February 15.
[The defence of Lord Brunkard, and the Commissioners of the Navy (fn. 2).]
Charge.] Why the Commissioners of the Navy did not pursue the Duke of York's order in payment of seamen by tickets? Lord Brunkard discharged the seamen by tickets, put out many, and discharged them as run away, not observing their own rules in payment.
Answer.] Death of seamen makes tickets necessary, having no other way left; the war multiplying many, together with wounded men, and the sickness in the year 1665—The complaints of men not the same, and with sickness tickets increased, with death, preferment, and removal of officers—He had no other way of payment, his presence being not upon the same place—Pressing of men, an occasion of tickets—At their first taking up, they must have a ticket; and being most of them landmen, of all trades, they are at last made seamen by custom, and when they have an opportunity, they discharge these men for better. All this while the seaman's family must be maintained, which his wife cannot do without tickets—Removal of a commander of a third rate makes room for a fourth rate, and so on with their own retinue, and invite many seamen along with them, especially men of worth—Removal of men for manning of prizes—The great ships not being able to move from port to port—These indispensible occasions make the use of tickets—They wrong not the King—It contains the man in all capacities, and the reasons of his discharge—So far from being injurious to the seamen, that in the particulars mentioned they are great advantages: As likewise for men lost out of ships, or retaken.
For, for 3000 men; in all sea-books they shall find 90000 men—A purser shall charge 7000 men in his book, for but really 700 men—By changes, removes, and sickness, so many names as are above the complement, so many tickets are made, which the Commissioners cannot remedy; as in the Royal Charles, and many other ships—The consequence of this is tickets, whose number relates to none of these gentlemen—Compare the discharges these men have made with what others have done—The numbers discharged are fifty-five ships in the year 1665; the numbers of men upon all these ships did not exceed 5000— Double the number has been discharged by ticket, by the Admiral and the Commanders, which tickets they must allow of.
Answer.] The Lord High Admiral allots a method to every payment, and to that of tickets it was not to be digested by any rule, because of the variety of cases, and so left them unlimitable, as the Commissioners should think fit—It was never thought in any war that the officers should be restrained to method in payments by tickets—In the Admiral's paper to them a latitude is left, viz. if they think fit, to pay twice a week by tickets—No order for tickets is designed by the Admiral, and the Commissioners left at liberty to be present or not present at the payment.
Answer.] Payment by tickets must be some way or other prejudicial to some men, as ships of the shortest times to be paid off first, by reason it will be done with less money, and of one ticket of 30 l. to make three tickets of 10l. by the Duke's order—Nay, sometimes they were constrained to buy their safeties from outrages.
Answer.] If proved, they think their lives, estates, and reputations, not a sufficient expiation for the offence— In discharging whole ships companies, the Treasurer is to pay them: The Surveyor is to view the stores: The Boatswain is to give an account of the expence of the stores, and to attend the victualler, and so cause the remains, after the voyage, to be set on shore; and to shut up all his cabbins, and deliver the keys to the masters of attendance; and it is to be presumed the Treasurer, and the rest did their duties, as the Commissioners did theirs—They did issue orders to the victualler to recruit the ship, merely to keep the poor seamen together when they could not pay them—To discharge these men without pay, would be dishonourable to the King, and expose themselves to clamour; they did it with aversion, like persons that lay under a great grief for it, that the seamen might not be alienated from the King's service.
[The Debate concerning Miscarriages, resumed. And the question was put, That the not timely recalling the order for the division of the fleet, after the intelligence of the Dutch fleet coming out, was a miscarriage.]
Mr Waller.] A ship at sea foundered: Who is to blame for this? No-body—In Parliament we make Laws, and accuse people for breaking them—As to counsel the King to try a man without his Peers—To give the King malicious counsel, or cowardly to abase him, the Civil Law calls grossly ignorant—The King has his part and we ours. He manages them, and makes war and peace—I am against the question.
Mr Coventry.] An offence is against some-body— Find out such a man as has countermanded an order from the King to his General—Till we find a man that has that power, or, de facto, did send such countermand, then ripe for the question.
Sir Thomas Clifford.] Moves to fall upon Ministers that have failed in matters of action, not of advice—We may by this encourage men to sedition, when we intend none—The temper of our nation is quite altered in these last seven years.
Sir Robert Brooke.] It is not probable, that the King should be better advised by the Council, that has so illadvised him already—He cannot [be] better advised than by us, of whom he cannot have the least suspicion of sedition or disloyalty.
Sir Robert Atkins.] That "the King can do no ill," is a fundamental truth—In the same steps, the long Parliament began only to remove evil Counsellors from the King, till they brought him to the block.
Sir C. Harbord.] The Counsels were either weak or treacherous—If false, no man is able to bear it—The King is radically weak, and if we declare them so, he will know how to lay them aside, and not use them for the future.
Mr Seymour.] Unless a remove of Counsels and Counsellors, we shall continue in our misfortunes—Because evil men have abused good things, shall not we meddle with what is good?—The long Parliament did it, there is no danger we should.
Sir Walter Yonge.] Sees no difference in this case, but that Lord Clarendon was out of the King's favour, and these persons near the King—The same arguments else would serve—Passing this Vote will produce a contrary effect than is expected, in giving the people occasion of discourse—This will make them pay their duties chearfully by these examples.
Mr Vaughan.] Thinks this case, and the Earl of Clarendon's, not so like—There then was a person named, and those crimes the highest that could be named on this side treason—Such counsellors have been the subjects of this House—It reflects upon the King—No counsellors appear to have had a hand in it, but the King and Duke of York—Nothing appears eminently and apparently in this counsel-giving, but them two—It is finding fault with counsel in one particular thing—Counsel is drawing a lottery—No infallibility in it—Either the King is to put out all this council or not; he must be a King or not, without a council—Obj. The Law lays all miscarriages upon his ministers; no illegal Grant is imputed to the King, and the King does nothing, and speaks nothing but by matter of record—His orders in council are not matter of record—This must reflect upon the King, and be a precedent for any future action of the Kings.
Mr Prynne (fn. 3).] General Councils may err, Parliaments may err, much more particular counsellors; shall we therefore have none?
[On Sir Baynam Throgmorton's complaint of wasting the Forest of Deanc, it was voted that his Majesty should be desired to stop the sale of his woods, and to stop those already sold; and that the woodwards be sent for, and the verdurers, to give an account of the present waste, notwithstanding any Patent or Grant.]
Sir Robert Brooke reports] Seldom above ten workmen were employed about Sheerness Fort, when more might have been had. The opinion of the Committee, That this was the main reason of losing the Fort. To the buying of Tickets.—In May, 1665, was the first discharge by Tickets, by order of the Commissioners; his Royal Highness approved not of it. Lord Brunkard (one of the Commissioners) discharged the ships by Tickets. Sir Frechville Holles advised him of the danger: he answered, "He knew what he had to do. "—Tickets were always in use in some cases, as in the discharging a particular man, in case of remove, or for widows. His Royal Highness ordered first Tickets to be first paid, but the Commissioners observed it not.—Tickets, when at five, six, or seven shillings in the pound loss, very speedily paid.—One Haines, a Clerk in the Office, would counterfeit Tickets, and dealt for four, five, six shillings in the pound loss. From Michaelmas 1664, to Michaelmas. 1667, there was not 3,000,000 l. brought into the Navy Treasury. To the want of Intelligence.—The Duke of Beaufort, the French Admiral, was in the Mediterranean, when he was said to be at Rochelle. The Prince, upon that, divided from the Duke of Albemarle.—No Intelligence of the Dutch coming out till nine days after, and that had at Portsmouth, by sending a boat thither, but none had by letters. That the Admiral's quitting the fleet, in October 1665, was one of the Miscarriages of the late war.
Sir William Coventry.] Desires that, by reason he is named in the Miscarriage with Sir George Carteret (fn. 4), that he may not be included by any such Vote, untill he has perused his papers.
Mr Vaughan.] A difference betwixt a miscarriage and a mis-event—A miscarriage must have some person guilty, mis-event may be from many accidents—There are fortuita in intelligence, and no man can perform what he would perform by it—It is sometimes impossible to have it, and always by treachery when 'tis had. —Enemies may prevent or delude intelligence—We are industrious to prevent it, so are they—We must have then what we can get—Intelligence is what a man can have, not what he would have—If you say, a man did not his duty, or contrived intelligence, or brought none when he might, 'tis a miscarriage—The Hollanders might work better than we for intelligence, and not set out their fleet when we had information they would—Who can be guilty in this? No man can—We were unfortunate in our intelligence; and no man can be charged with the ill event of it.
Sir Tho. Clifford.] The intelligence was so far from being defective, that it was very good—The Committee has not viewed the Council's papers, nor the Ambassador's—The ship Vendome was then at Belle-Isle, and many more ships in those parts—Intelligence cannot be expected from a fleet at sea.
Sir Robert Howard.] Though he would not agree with the Committee, yet he would not disagree—'Tis the way to have no intelligence at all, when it is so severely enquired into—If the intelligence was weak or false, it is a miscarriage—The state of the question does not lie in the miscarriage—He would have the business postponed.
Sir William Lewis.] This was unfortunate intelligence in that juncture—Had there been no more chance than care, the Prince and the Duke of Albemarle might have been destroyed—The intelligence sent by an ordinary messenger, and met by chance at Portsmouth.
Col. Birch.] The scout-master general at land is punishable for intelligence, and so it may be at sea—Quære, Whether intelligence was sufficiently performed with none but Spragge's man ?—Intelligence was much better managed once by worse hands.
Sir Thomas Clarges.] Cromwell by chance, in one of his letters, let fall something that he had been informed of by one of the Cardinal's Secretaries, which put all that council in an uproar—None but the Chancellor, Cardinal, Mr Lyon, and the Queen-mother knew it—If the intelligence was good, it was faulty in the sending— That the French should be at Belle-Isle, the cause of dividing the fleet.
Sir Thomas Littleton.] Lisbon intelligence is always uncertain—He is blame-worthy that is deficient in the case—The night they were divided, the King received the intelligence that the Dutch were come forth.
Sir C. Harbord.] The design was well laid to destroy the General first (the Dutch being come forth) and the Prince next—The fleet divided the 29th of May, the letters were received the 25th of May, time sufficient to have given advertisement—All might have been lost— The wind that carried the Dutch out, carried the Prince farther off.
Sir Robert Atkins.] Failing in one thing may be fortuitous, but to fail in all, and in things so great, that to fail in one was to fail in all!—Two intelligences— They would come forth, and they would not come forth. —We take in both the French and the Dutch— Would not have the faults of all miscarriages laid upon the scape-goat, Lord Clarendon, as Sir Robert Carr would have it.
[Resolved, That the not timely recalling the order for the division of the fleet, after the intelligence was given (fn. 5) of the Dutch steet coming out, was a miscarriage, 122 to 99.]
Monday, February 17.
[Information was given that Sir Henry Vaughan, elected for the county of Carmarthen, was outlawed after Judgment for a debt due on a bond of one thousand pounds. The question was, Whether he could regularly be continued a Member.]
Mr Vaughan.] An out-lawed person not to be suspended his sittin because of it, being returned by his country, the record of the outlawry after judgment not being produced—But this generally; whoever is returned, must be legalis homo.
Sir William Coventry.] In a letter of Mr Hayes which he read—"We shall call at Portsmouth, where the Prince does expect to hear from you;" from whence he inferred the Prince's call not accidental—He sent to advise with the King about the Dutch coming out, and the King sent for as many of the Council as could be found to advise with, and his Royal Highness signed the King's directions in his bed—Three letters were dispatched several ways; the 1st, that to Plymouth; the next, that to Weymouth, and sent back by the Mayor, the Prince being gone; that to Portsmouth took effect.
May 31, Sir Philip Honywood received the letter of the 29th; he dispatched it by the Master of the Ketch, who ran his Ketch on shore—The other letter he received was sixteen hours coming, but forthwith dispatched.
[The House, finding no cause to pass any farther Vote on this paper, proceeded to the Debate of the second, which related to the Miscarriage at Sheerness.—The opinion of the Committee was, that the neglect of fortifying Sheerness occasioned the loss of the ships at Chatham.]
Sir Richard Temple.] The channel of Sheerness casts the ships under the fort—Ships do consider how to go out as well as to come in, which the fort might have prevented, if finished—Would have it enquired, whether the orders were obeyed or not.
Mr Musgrave.] Valentine Pine had no order then for the laying of the planks for the Ordnance after the earth was cast up—They had from Easter to raise a battery— The business was left loose, Pine had not the power of commanding one man.
Sir Robert Howard.] It was a Miscarriage, because foolishly done—Nothing that should be had was wanting— Shall we say there was no Miscarriage, because you cannot fix it upon any individual?—We must make the King a throne of the people's hearts, that they may hope to see them better, by presenting them to his Majesty.
Sir Robert Carr.] There is a (fn. 6) person found that was faulty.
Mr Boscawen (fn. 7).] Finds, that not a man employed did his duty.
Mr Vaughan.] Though the fort could not have been built in two years, yet after the General came, a battery was soon raised—Forts battered us at Bergen and at Algiers; and it might have been so at Sheerness.
Col. Birch.] It cannot be said, that the fort was wholly useless, because not perfected—With earth and faggots it might have done the enemy mischief—But here is nothing done—All in a huddle, therefore he would not have the faults only laid upon the not building Sheerness.
Tuesday, February 18.
Sir Hugh Wyndham.] This Bill is brought in, I had almost said with impudence: (which expression was taken ill by many, and some said, " that his words were impudently brought in:" But his words being asserted, no farther Debate arose about them, and he explained not.)
Mr Steward.] This Bill reproaches the very fundamental Laws of England; for without the King's consent, it gives the Lord Chancellor a power greater than the King; viz. That if in three years the King calls not a Parliament, the Chancellor for the time being, for such default, has power to issue out writs without him.
Sir Richard Temple.] The King has established all Courts by Law, which formerly followed his own Court wherever it removed; but that was found inconvenient —This Bill is no more for the highest Court—He said he had forgot his breviate, which the Speaker should have had with the Bill.
The Speaker excepted against it, as likewise that the Bill was blotched and interlined, which ought not to be when first presented—With much difficulty a first reading was obtained: But from that time the Gentleman that brought it in did not increase his interest in the House.
Sir John Birkenhead.] This Bill bottoms itself upon the statute of Edward III. for annual Parliaments; but there was never any annual Parliament—There have been two in a year, and may be one or more in a year, if need be—The question is, if the Bill be not felo de se, of itself. The plague may alter the time, it being limited to so long time, and no longer impossible to be performed.
Sir Thomas Littleton.] By prorogations the effect of the triennial Law is not eluded; which, by the former Bill, might be—He knows not a more modest way of compelling the King by Law—Some said "Thing by Law," in excuse of him, for great exception was taken at the expression; but what he said was plainly and organically "King."
Mr Milward.] This Bill assures the calling of future Parliaments; and an oath to the Lord Keeper, to issue out the writs—Let us trust the King with this, as we have done his predecessors—This Bill does not—So the trust is here transferred, which is upon oath—That makes a difference.
Sir Tho. Clifford, Comptroller.] This is a Bill of ill consequence, breeding jealousy betwixt the King and his people—All persons are indicted in the King's name; but this writ the Lord Keeper is to issue out, quite puts it out—A Lion put into an iron cage never leaves roaring—This Bill is contrary to Monarchy—Corruption of manners causes Laws—Is this proper for this House, who has repealed that Act? Is it proper for the King, who has declared so much affection to the Parliament?—In another country, (Sweden) there is a calling of a Parliament by officers; but it is only in the minority of the King.
Sir Lan. Lake.] This Bill necessitates the Lord Keeper to be a traytor—If he does issue out his writ he is a traytor, and if he does not he is a traytor—This will make him, as in times of usurpation, a keeper of the liberties of England.
Mr Sollicitor Finch.] Would have the Bill withdrawn, only because not orderly brought in—This is a Bill to bring in a Bill of repeal without leave—No Bill, of good manners, is to be brought in, tho' of money, without leave—That the King may have no negative—Would have it withdrawn till leave be obtained of the House.
Wednesday, February 19.
Sir Ch. Wheeler.] Begins at the latter end of the King's speech, and discourses of the visitations of the Bishops, Arch-Deacons, oaths of church wardens, and excommunication, to have them regulated—He proposes for money, granting the King's customs some time after his life, that money may be advanced upon it— would have 12 per cent. advanced, and this to be managed by Members of the House, as a fund to raise money upon—He was interrupted, being called to order.
Mr Seymour.] We may date our misery from our bounty—If the league is good that is made, why not to be shown (as we were told;) if ill, it may be mended —Why should we support it to make a few great by making many miserable?
Mr Sollicitor Finch.] The putting off Friday or Monday for the King's business is putting the question, whether we have haste or not—All the supply we can give cannot expiate the delay—Some say, let us see the league; will you ask that, that never was?—We make ourselves from the Great Council the Privy Council—If we will see the league before we give an actum est, farewell all royal Prerogative and Power of making war or peace without Parliament—Abroad they will look upon it as a change of government—This point was in Debate in Parliament-roll.
In Henry IIId's time declared in Parliament, that there is no necessity of the precedency of redress of Grievances —Let us not reproach our old rule with a new one— We have all this parliament granted so.
Mr Vaughan.] In lending money a man's strength and ability must be consulted before he promises any— Grievances have, in many cases, proceded when an aid was barely granted, and so proprieties of Parliament enough preserved—Would have the Debate on Friday, because if we enter upon Grievances, we have no end of them; and we must give the King a speedy answer, whether we will supply him or not, that he may otherwise take care of himself; therefore for the sooner day.