Grey's Debates of the House of Commons: Volume 10. Originally published by T. Becket and P. A. De Hondt, London, 1769.
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Wednesday, November 23.
In a Grand Committee. On Advice to the King. Sir Francis Winnington in the Chair.
Mr Foley.] The Admiralty and Navy, points of the greatest concernment, we should have begun with. The King calls for your Advice, and we are in an unhappy condition. When we entered into the War, all agreed that the Enemy was very powerful, to enslave his neighbours, and had gone a good way in it; and that made the States of Holland entrust a Stadtholder with Power. That which encouraged us to enter into the War was, that our neighbours were unanimous to suppress this Power: If all had been unanimous to attack him, in four years time we might have brought him to our terms. As to point of Trade, the French King has broken that stratagem. All, except ourselves, trade with him. We have had notice of this, and those ships that have been taken trading, have been discharged. What have your Allies done for you? Have not the French taken Towns in sight of them?—At Sea, the last year, and not to come at him! This year you had a Fight, and he attacked you with half his Ships; you beat him; and what fruit had you of this Victory? His Forts are strong, and there is no way but a Descent upon him in his own Country; and how that has been managed you have heard reported. After all, the Allies can do nothing for you, and trade with the French. What I am most afraid of is, that, instead of a Descent upon him, he will threaten a Descent upon you. Whatever Fleet is at Sea, or Forces aboard, they will do you no good; and the Sea, whatever Army you have there, must follow the fate of the Land; and there must be something to encourage the French King to make a Descent. One is, the differences at home, and the methods by which we manage our business. We are unhappy to continue in Parties, without being upon one bottom. I hope we may find some way to secure ourselves. 'Tis said, "The Ministers serve you with the best of their skill." You are the best Judges of that; but as to Treachery, no man is perfectly good, nor perfectly wicked. No man is so wicked as to bring in the French King; but your Orders may be delayed, and Intelligence sent him. None doubts but that he is designing a Descent, and you are in the dark, and can judge of nothing but by the event: But the French King can take his measures; he knows who are treacherous to you. The last year, you were like to have had a great loss by the Smyrna Fleet being ordered to come to Ireland (fn. 1); but, I observe, the French Fleet never came to Sea till those Orders went out. They sent word, "that the French Fleet was laid up, and therefore ours must be so"—We kept out, and lost many—Though the Fleet, in pursuit, was not Windbound, it was Order-bound. I know not why they were not at liberty to pursue their Victory. From unavoidable Evidence, the hands you are in are not safe hands—That is, that the French King should draw so great an Army on his Coasts, and have Transport-ships ready for his men, and we should have no notice, and not half Forces enough left for our security; I desire you to consider, whether those who have suffered you to be so surprized, will not do it again. 'Tis strange, that we should not know the strength of the French Fleet, till we had fought them. We know that, from all parts of England, discontented persons flocked to London, with Arms and Horses seized, and not one man was discovered of the Conspirators. Though we had very few Forces left, yet there were great complaints of free-quarter, this summer, on Members of yours, and no man punished for invading of property. They seize shipping to a great value, and no one man has had satisfaction. Another thing I shall mention; men discharged from imprisonment in Westminster-Hall, and afterwards Guards put upon them. A great many instances might be given more, and I might fly higher to take off heads—But I move you to come to this Resolution, "That the great Affairs of the Government, for the time past, have been unsuccessfully managed; and that the King be moved, for the future, to employ men of known integrity and fidelity."
Sir William Strickland.] I cannot tell where it is we are wounded. I would not have the management in such hands for the future; but this cannot be while we have a Cabinet-Council.
Mr Waller.] "Cabinet-Council" is not a word to be found in our Law-books. We knew it not before; we look it for a nick-name. Nothing can fall out more unhappily than to have a distinction made of the "Cabinet" and "Privy-Council." It has had this effect in the Country, and must have; that, in the Country, the Justices of the Peace, and DeputyLieutenants, will be afraid to act: They will say, "They cannot go on;" and why? Because several of them have been misrepresented, and are not willing to act; they know not who will stand by them; and are loth to make discoveries, unless seconded. If some of the Privy-Council must be trusted, and some not, to whom must any Gentleman apply? Must he ask, "Who is a Cabinet-Counsellor?" This creates mistrust in the People. I am sure, these distinctions of some being more trusted than others, have given great dissatisfaction. This is what I have met with this Summer; and therefore I second the Motion.
Sir Richard Temple.] All Governments reduce their Council to a few: Holland does; and the French King to three.
Mr Waller.] We have reduced our Secretaries from two to one. The Question proposed was, "That the King be advised, that all matters of State be advised on in the Privy-Council; and that the management of them by a Cabal is dangerous."
Sir John Lowther.] I would willingly sit down, if I did not think the Honour of the House, and our Safety, concerned in the Question. What will Foreigners say to this? I have heard foreign Ministers say, "That 'tis better for their Affairs in England than any where else, because once a year the Parliament sits; and, without the charge of intelligence, they know all Affairs." If you act by measures of no Country, nor your own, [what will ensue?] Had you not a secret Committee in the Examination of Sir Edmundbury Godfrey's Murder? Of this Committee of Council I am one. I had rather be at home. Consider your own Honour, and do what you please.
Mr Clarke.] I doubt whether this Advice is practicable, in the way it is laid down. It appears who had the management chiefly in the Descent, and Transportation of it from Ireland to the Thames, and all for that great undertaking.
Mr Waller.] If the Government be betrayed, I doubt not but Gentlemen will be so bold as to declare the Persons that have done it. Impeachments have been in Parliament against Persons, for taking too much upon them. Two things plainly have been faulty; Want of Intelligence, and Orders, to that which is our great safety, the Fleet. The unsuccessfulness of the Fleet, last year, came from uncertainty of Orders. We took our Orders in a French ship, before we had them from our own (fn. 2). All has come from delay of Orders, as if our Descent should come to nothing. I am of this Opinion, that the unsuccessfulness of the Descent was for want of Intelligence from the Secretary, and those who issued out those Orders.
Sir Christopher Musgrave.] In due time, this may come before you. This Debate is not properly before you now; for, after it was reported, it was not referred to your consideration; but properly in its place it may come before you. I shall only observe, that, as the Question stands on your paper, nobody can give an Affirmative or a Negative to it.
Mr Goodwin Wharton.] Some, by the ill Advices they gave King James, were a means to change his Government; and the management of this Government makes me think the same thing is doing now. The day the King made his Speech, before he spoke it, there was a Speech went about, that did burlesque it, Head by Head. You were told, by Foley, "That he could not enumerate all,—for they were numerous." I know it well, that the Gazette of the 10th of May told us, "That the French were seen on our Coast, but they stood off for France." I did myself acquaint the Queen, on the 14th of May, "That the French were not gone out of the Channel." I believe the Cabinet-Council were called, and ordered the Fleet to fail. All was in confusion as to the Descent. The Enemy was upon you, before you knew of it. I saw a Messenger, at the Secretary's Office, sit grumbling with another Messenger, "That 'tis your turn to go, and I'll not go till I am paid for what I have done before." This being so, how can your affairs go on with vigour? Things are to be done by proper judges of them. In King James I's time, there was a Council of War in the Palatinate business, and a Council of War in the Isle of Rhe Descent. Is it credible that men, brought up to Books only, should understand Armies and Fleets? 'Tis impossible that they should conduct what they understand not. The method of this Cabinet is not the method nor the practice of England. As for private Councils, all Kings have their Favourites; and I wish the King had such a Secretary as Mazarine, to secure the interest of the Nation, and not himself. The method is this; things are concerted in the Cabinet, and then brought to the Council; such a thing resolved in the Cabinet, and brought and put upon them, for their Assent, without showing any of the Reasons. That has not been the method of Eugland. I am credibly informed, that it has been complained of in Council, and not much backed there. If this method be, you will never know who gives advice. If you think it convenient, I shall be of your mind; but I think this method is not for the service of the Nation.
Mr Foley.] I would have every Counsellor set his hand to his Assent, or Dissent, to be distinguished.
Resolved, That it is the Opinion of this Committee, that, many of the great Affairs of the Government having been for the time past, unsuccessfully managed by those that have had the direction thereof, under their Majesties, their Majesties be humbly addressed to prevent the like mischief for the future, by employing men of known integrity and ability (fn. 3).
[November 24, Omitted.]
Friday, November 25.
[Lord Falkland, by his Majesty's Command, presented to the House an Estimate of the Navy, for the year 1693, amounting to 33,010 men, and 2,077,216l. 10s. Charge. And the Earl of Ranelagh delivered a List of the Land-Forces, amounting to 8,130 Horse, 2,480 Dragoons, and 43,592 Foot; in all 54,562 men; and their annual Pay to 1,448,732l. 6s. 7d.]
Sir Christopher Musgrave.] I find the numbers of Men, and Charges, infinitely increased since the last year (fn. 4). I think it not fit that Copies should go to Coffee-houses (as is said;) but let us go immediately into a Committee, to consider of it. Tis not possible for Country-Gentlemen to give an Opinion till they have considered: Pray let us have them lie upon the Table, to understand them by short Notes, and that we may have liberty to have recourse to the Papers, to consider of them.
Mr Montagu.] I understand not why the Papers should lie upon the Table till Tuesday: You will not have opportunity to redress the inconvenience that so long a day will produce; you cannot be better informed than you are; therefore let the Committee sit to-day.
Lord Eland.] If we must give as much Money as we gave the last year, I hope Gentlemen will not take it ill that we proceed in the same steps.
Col. Cornwall.] Here are Troops put into the Estimate that were not last year in the World; therefore I move for Tuesday.
Earl of Ranelagh.] That an Imposition may not be made upon the House, I must tell you, it is the Estimate the King thinks fit for the next year. The King intends to augment Lord Oxford's regiment, by adding more Troops and more Men.
Mr Palmes.] The Question you are going to put is, to go on with the Supply; and on Tuesday to consider the Papers—But 'till we are well informed of the Estimate in the Papers, we cannot go on with the Supply. I believe every Gentleman is hasty to go on with the Supply. I remember that, the last Session, a great Sum more came upon us after the Estimate was given in; therefore I move for Tuesday, &c.
Mr Foley.] It could not be expected that the State of the War, brought in but just now, could be considered so soon. The Sum is greater than ever was asked in this House. You ought to allow Gentlemen time to recollect what Debates were last year, to make just exceptions against what is demanded; it will expedite your business the better.
Sir Christopher Musgrave.] Are we reduced to such a condition, that two or three days time for consideration will ruin the Nation? Why were not these Papers brought in sooner? Is it possible that we can be informed now? Would a man do this in his own private affairs?
Sir Stephen Fox.] We have nothing to live on in the Treasury, but the borrowing Clause. We cannot borrow 1000l. more. We expected 200,000l. from the Chamber of London, and we have not received 60,000l. We have not subsistence for the Army, not for one day more; and, for the Army, it requires the utmost expedition. When the House will make some chearful Vote, we may for [some weeks more go on. This day may go a great way towards the Navy.
[The consideration of the Estimate and List was referred to a Grand Committee.]
Saturday, November 26.
On Colonel Churchill's Complaint of Breach of Privilege.
Colonel Churchill.] I received a Summons to attend the Board of Admiralty last night. When I was called in, the Lords examined me of what I said here, "That some Persons in the Fleet were Cowards (fn. 5)." I know not that I am to answer any where, for what I say here, but to the House. One of these Members said, "He wondered I should trifle with them; they had power to give me an Oath." I said, "I would not take it, till I had the direction of the House;" and desired a Member then present to take notice of it.
Colonel Austen.] I was desired by your Member to take notice, &c. I will tell you what it was. When Churchill appeared at the Admiralty, it was asked, on behalf of one Bremstcad, "Whether he knew he was a Coward?" He said, "He would not give an account out of the House, for what he had said in the House." But the Question was, "Whether he had not said it in other places?" It was said, "It was in the power of the Board to give him an Oath;" but it was not insisted on at the Board. The case was this: The King was petitioned for a man's life, condemned to be shot to death for a Coward. It was referred by the King to the Board. The end of enquiring of Churchill was, whether this man was sit to be pardoned; but there was not any Question, as to what was said here.
Colonel Churchill.] I think that Question was pressed upon Oath—And that Question was asked me, after I had refused, and I would not take an Oath, till I had the direction of the House.
Sir Edward Seymour.] I hardly understand the Accusation. They desire to know the reason; why, for their information, he accused this man for being a Coward. I am as tender of Privilege as any man, but I do not take this as a design to subvert your Privilege.
Mr Foley.] As this is complained of, 'tis a great Breach of the Privilege of the House. Many Members are Officers, and if they must be called to account in another place, for what is done here, there is an end of Privilege. They ask him of what was said in this House, and when he spoke of the Privilege of the House, they told him of tendering an Oath, and afterwards told him, he spoke it in another place; but not till he spoke of the Privilege of the House.
Mr Hampden.] I do not see that your Member was questioned for what he said in the House; but here was a Person condemned for a Coward, and application was made to the King for mercy to be showed him, and they would inform themselves of the man. Evidence is desired from the greatest man of the Kingdom, if it fall out to be a Member—I do not see how Privilege is concerned at all. I do not understand how this is a Breach of Privilege. Here is no Subpæna, but desire of Appearance.
Sir Christopher Musgrave.] I speak to the method of proceeding. You have had an Information from your Member; I suppose it is upon your Paper; pray read it, and when it is stated, every Gentleman may apply himself to it.
Colonel Churchill.] I take it, I was examined as a Member of Parliament. I said, "I was not obliged to answer, being words spoken in the House of Commons, without their leave." Sir John Lowther told me, "They had power to give me an Oath, if I trifled with them;" but I would not answer without leave of the House.
Sir John Lowther, a Commissioner of the Admiralty.] The matter of fact, and the words, are entirely denied. There was not a word of the House of Commons, but of words said without doors; and he was not interrogated to any thing said in the House.
Mr Goodwin Wharton.] The matter is stated truly and rightly. As the Information is made, the next thing is to consider, whether it be a Breach of Privilege; which you cannot do till the Parties withdraw. If they had sent for him, a Commander in the Fleet, either for matters said in or out of the House, they could not, without leave of the House. This concerns the Privilege of the House, and Liberty of Speech.
Lord Falkland.] Here is a Complaint; and, if you can, have indifferent persons to inform you the right state of the thing.
Sir Christopher Musgrave.] I think, no man ought to be interrogated of matters said in this House. 'Tis said, the matter is not agreed. You having it upon your Paper, can tell how far the matter is not agreed.
Sir John Lowther.] If the words be admitted, whither shall this Privilege extend? Here is no suit, nor answering without doors what has been said within; where is the hurt of all this? 'Tis only to be informed of a Person.
Mr Clarke.] I hear some call for the Order of the Day, but I think this matter is not to be so dismissed. I will conclude all to be true, if the objections are not answered.
Col. Churchill.] I do declare, that, if the House please to pass it by, I do.
Col. Austen.] From the beginning, I told him, "He was not sent for, for words said in the House." I do not say the word "trifling" was not said, but I must affirm I heard nothing of it; he will do me that right. I was a by-stander, and said nothing.
Col. Churchill.] The telling of the man's life condemned, &c. was the latter end of the Discourse, not the beginning. Till after my refusal of the Oath, they spoke nothing; I said "I would have nothing to do with the blood of the man."
Sir Robert Rich.] We had no scruple to ask him what was said out of the House. 'Tis true, he said the words in the House, but having said the words out of the House, we thought we might interrogate him of them. We have traced the Office, and out of the Office, and can find nothing of him. There was hardly any Ship had more men killed and wounded in it than his Ship; but if it could be proved that he was a Coward, he must die; and I hope the House will permit us to search into this, to inform the King of it.
Sir Christopher Musgrave.] I think you should declare, "That no Member be examined for what he has said here." Neither must it go for doctrine that a man may declare without doors what has been said here, and the intention of the thing must not alter the thing.
Col. Titus.] Do you think that this is a new Privilege? This is calling that in question, that was ever out of question.
The Speaker.] It had been a civil thing, and a reasonable thing, for the Admiralty to have told Churchill, "They had no intent to interrogate him as to any thing said in the House."
This matter passed over without any Vote (fn. 6).
[November 26, Omitted.]
Monday, November 28.
In a Grand Committee. On the Bill for regulating Tryals in cases of Treason.
Sir Thomas Clarges.] This is a necessary Bill for preservation of the Government, and the King's Person. The hardships the Nation endured in constructive Treason was one of the greatest motives and inducements to the late change; and, amongst other things, the regulation of Tryals for Treason was one of the Heads presented to the King to be redressed. At Henry IV's coming to the Crown, there was a Revolution as strange and extraordinay as this. The first he made was reducing the Tryals for Treason to the 25th of Edward III. Why? To let the people see, they were secure in their Lives and Estates. Since the King came to the Government, it has been set out in several Acts how Judgment of Treason was perverted. Our public faith to the Nation was engaged in such a Bill as this. That is the way to reconcile all People. This is only as much as to say; corruptions were in the Judges, and you will not remedy that: Before the 25th of Edward III, Common-Law Treasons were so numerous, that nobody could tell what to do; and that of the 25th of Edward III was made, because there were so many constructions then, and now so lately—I know not how much wiser we are now than we were the last Session, when this passed here, and the Lords put a clog upon it. This is the means to quiet mens spirits.
Sir Edward Hussey.] To fill up the Blank, "That the Bill shall not commence till the end of the French War," is, nobody knows when. We have heard lately of a Plot †, but whether a Plot, or no Plot, we know not. I would fill up the Blank, "for the Bill to commence in January 1693, or 1694." If by that time the Government be not settled, it will not be at all.
Sir Henry Goodrick.] I have heard it said, and without contradiction, "That King James's friends are plotting"—If this King had not extraordinarily stopped his hands, he had made many examples—No doubt there was a Plot; many Horse-Officers came to town—Your safety is already shaken, and I hope you will consider the King's safety so far as not to let this Bill commence before the end of the French War.
Mr Sollicitor Trevor.] I offer, that the filling up of the Blank may be, "From the end of the French War;" and what moves me to it is, that from thence the danger of the Government proceeds; and to prevent the great danger, and not go upon an imaginary danger. Whether is the greater danger, from your Enemies, or an imaginary one of injustice from Westminster-Hall? 'Tis said by Clarges, "He wonders we are grown wiser this Session than the last"—Nobody thinks the French made that attempt, but from encouragement here. I hope, by what we have learned since last Session, we shall be more considerate now. The danger from Westminster-Hall is, when Parliaments are not frequent; it is impossible, in these circumstances of War we are in, that Parliaments should not meet. This is enough to satisfy me, that the danger is not from hence; and I move, "That this Bill may commence from the time the French War shall be ended."
Mr Harley.] I suppose it out of doubt, that we are in danger of our Enemies; will putting off this Bill secure you? The best way to secure the Government is to set men at ease. Possibly the King, in his Speech, may have particularly pointed out this Bill, because the only public Bill that slipped the last Session. I join in the Motion, "That it commence in January next."
Mr Finch.] You have been moved to fill up the Blank "To commence from and after the expiration of the French War." When I consider the Motion, I admire: 'Tis a good reason, why the Bill should never take place. We are told of Plots and Conspiracies, and that the Bill should not pass now, because of them. The meaning of that must be supposed, that it is very difficult to bring a guilty man to punishment. If so, I would not have the Bill commence after the War, but never. Therefore, I cannot but wonder, that, because of Plots, the Bill should not commence till after the War, therefore pray let it never commence at all! But this begs the Question, Whether this Bill brings difficulty upon the Government? Consider, it has once passed the House, been examined, and laid open, and then it was thought requisite. But you are told, "There is no danger of misconstruction of Treason whilst Parliaments are sitting, and so they will be during the War." I have heard in this House of misconstruction of Treason, judged by the very present Judges. If such misconstructions have been, they are very ancient, and still used. The matter of this Bill provides no more, than that an innocent man may have opportunity to make his innocence appear. How often has it been said, that denial of a Copy of the Indictment to the prisoner is against Law, and Records showed to verify that? All the Judges before denied copies of Indictments; so they do still. That was one thing laid as a hardship upon criminal proceedings before. Is this a hindrance of Justice? I do solemnly protest, that, if any man will show that one part of the Bill acquits a guilty man, I will be against that part, but till then I must not take it for granted, that it is a Bill to cover Criminals. Therefore I concur with the Motion "To commence January 25."
Sir Christopher Musgrave.] As this Clause is arraigned, I think every man should declare it not to be a protection to guilty men. In the beginning of the Convention, this was thought necessary; but now 'tis thought to hinder bringing Criminals to Justice. You are told by the Sollicitor-General, "There are no apprehensions of the Judges, because of the frequency of Parliaments." But if the matter desired be reasonable, we ought to keep it out of the power of the Judges—I have known Judges make Juries go out three times upon Ignoramus. We find very forward Witnesses of late; one now in Newgate, Parson Young (fn. 8), who accused the Bishop of Rochester of Treason: is it not prudent to prevent such practices? If he had succeeded, the Persons must have died. I cannot imagine why the Government should be weakened, because a Copy of the Indictment must be given the prisoners. At the free Conference, the last Session, I heard a great man say, "This Bill was not a new Law, but a declarative Law, and not enacting a new Law." Why should we not rectify that which the Judges say is no Law? Therefore I move, "That this may commence January the 25th next."
Sir John Lowther.] It has been said, "That a great many have been committed for Treason, and not prosecuted." For that very reason, I am against that part of the Bill— They are not only Enemies, by their own confession, and we cannot prosecute them now, and yet we must have this Bill to make prosecution more difficult. Were you a settled Government, this Bill would be more proper than now. If they think this Bill will be a protection, though but imaginary, and not real, it will be an encouragement to designs against the Government. There may be a reason for this Bill, but now this looks like lessening the Prerogative, as is said, but properly it lessens your strength of Government. If Liberty go beyond its bounds, 'tis no more so, but Licence. As the Law now stands, it cannot touch such offenders, therefore I would not weaken it more by this Bill.
Sir Thomas Clarges.] This Bill must be passed, in the result, by the King, and nobody else. I am afraid the King is informed that this Bill is prejudicial to his security; but it was the Advice of the last Parliament, that, for the security of the King, such a Bill was necessary; and as the Law stands now, Witnesses for the Prisoners are on their Words, and not their Oaths; this Bill is, that they should not extravagantly say what they will. I think this Bill therefore is for the King's safety.
Mr Comptroller Wharton.] I am one of those that have always been for such a Bill, and shall ever be. I cannot think people too easy upon their Tryals. I am of opinion that those Gentlemen would not alter the Law during the War, nor the practice of it. There are such jealousies and such cases, that I fear it impossible to answer, when people own not the Government; and one is, that the King has no right to the Crown, and therefore we cannot alter the Law: But unless something be done to this purpose, when our eyes are open, and in a little more security—not to commence till the end of the War; then you may have this Law to Posterity. We shall have Peace, or else not be a Nation. Let it be as easy to hang a great man, as it was to hang Lord Russel. I would pass the Bill for Posterity, and fill up the blank, "Not to commence till the end of the War."
Col. Granville.] I shall never countenance any thing against the Government. I came into the change as early as any body to the Government, and will be the last that shall go out of it. I wonder that Gentlemen of the Privy-Council should complain of men riding armed, and that they are not laid by the heels; but to tell you, that such a Bill should pass, and no certain time limited when it should commence, is a contradiction. But the best time to have this Bill, is when we can get it. Now we have a good Prince on the Throne, and no more seasonable time than now. The Judges tell you, "One Witness, with Circumstances, is sufficient to convict a man of Treason;" but to let men come out of prison, after having been long detained, and nothing against them; and since there have been practices of forging hands, as in the Bishop of Rochester's case, it is very seasonable to have such a Bill.
Sir John Lowther.] Without a special Commission of Oyer and Terminer, it is impossible to bring these men to Tryal.
Mr Finch.] You have been told who are for and who against this Bill without doors; those I would regard. 'Tis said, "Those who have not taken the Oaths to the Government, are for this Bill." I did, and am for it. The objection against it is; "Make not prosecution of Treason more difficult now, than in former reigns," A great man was named: (I can easily guess why) Was that great man prosecuted illegally, and therefore pray continue it so? These very Judges have resolved the same point of Law. That which makes truth appear, (which is the design of this Bill) makes it impossible that a guilty man should escape. I find eyes were upon me, when the things were stirred, urging a point of Law, in Lord Delamere's Tryal, "That one Witness with Circumstances, and violent Circumstances, was sufficient." I say so now—If there be any fault in it, it is what all Nations concur in. 'Tis said "that men ride armed, and declare the King has no right to the Crown, and are for King James"—I attended the answer, and it was said, "There was no good proof"—If proof, why are not these men punished? 'Tis said, "That men can point out, who are for, and who against the Government." 'Tis a hard circumstance for men to be pointed out, to be slandered by the Fye, and to expose them to the sury of the Rabble. If Circumstances be strong against a man, he ought to be brought to Tryal. The Judges have judged, "That one Witness, with pregnant Circumstances, is proof against a man;" and they having so judged, it is time for the Parliament to declare what are pregnant Circumstances. I think this is no hardship upon the Government, and therefore I am for it. I think no Englishman can be safe, if the King be not safe upon the Throne; and the establishment of him there is the security of every Englishman, and this Bill does do it, and it is no hardship upon the Government—only without it it is impossible for an innocent man to make his innocence appear.
Mr Comptroller Wharton.] I think that the PrivyCouncil are not in fault—I have an ill opinion of some, but no proof against them.
[The Report was ordered to be made on Thursday.]
At the Debates which follow the Compiler was not present, but they were sent him down by Friends into the Country.
In a Letter from Mr Wilmot, [the other Member for Derby,] dated December 20 (fn. 9).
This is to acquaint you, that the Lords this day desired a Conference, when they delivered over to us an abstract of all Letters and Orders betwixt the Queen and Lord Nottingham to Admiral Russel, and those from him to them, the abbreviation made by the Lords, but the Letters, or Copies, to justify and vouch the same, were also delivered. The abbreviation was made, Mr Russel taking Notes all the while, after which he answered, and explained all things very well, in my Judgment, and would have been so, I believe, in yours. Indeed resolved enemies could not but acquit him, as hereafter followed. I was near, and attentive, and did not find any more considerable than what was in the Papers delivered to us by Mr Russel himself. The abbreviation only was read, and not the vouchers at large, but Mr Russel's friends thought the House was ripe for Judgment by the abbreviation being read first.
Mr Comptroller Wharton made some speech in commendation of the Admiral and his services, but more large in reflection on Lord Nottingham, and concluded with a Motion "to address the King to remove him."This was seconded by a Motion only from Sir John Morton. Then
Mr Smith.] The Admiral having been thanked by the House for his services, and having been reflected on, or endeavoured to be so, in the House of Lords, and all the papers transmitted to us, my Motion is, "That it is for the purpose, to have our Judgments thereon, and that we should declare, that he has, in the last summer's expedition at Sea, behaved himself with Courage, Conduct, and Fidelity." This was seconded by
Mr Palmes, Sir Robert Howard, and Mr Sollicitor-General Trevor.
Sir John Lowther.] I acknowlege as much the service of the Admiral as any, and prosess myself ready to join in any Vote, either to be clear or grateful to the Admiral, but withall, I can no way yield to the Motion of the Comptroller; for, of my knowlege, no man, with greater zeal, pains, or fidelity, I believe, can serve the Government than Lord Nottingham. I move therefore, "Not to be jealous of one another, but to let the papers lie upon the Table."
But he was not seconded therein. Many spoke to the Motion of Mr Smith, and more against it; till the Question being about to be put.
Sir Christopher Musgrave said,] It is improper yet to make any Judgment, the vouchers not being read.
This was seconded by Mr Bickerstasse, Mr Pcregrine Bertie, and Mr Dalton, and, I think, none else. At last the Question moved by Smith being put, passed Nem con. not much against the grain. I should have told you, that Mr Finch, with all respect and acknowlegement first paid to the Admiral, reflected what he could, in his fine way, upon him; but it was the Letters of Mr Russel that made reflection upon him, if any were; and in answer to the Sollicitor's Speech, who said, "He was by fly insinuation reflected on," concluded with Musgrave's Motion. After the Question carried Nem.con. Mr Russel stood up, and said, "I am happy in having such a Judge and Jury as the House of Commons, and will never desire any other, but will therto submit all my actions."
Afterwards said, "It has been very difficult and uneasy to me to serve in these two Summers Expeditions, where, besides the great charge of my Place, I was obliged not to tread awry, for fear of the Ministers, which was to me a great Discouragement, and would be to any man who shall command in my Post, which I expected not to do."
He then reflected more on the Earl of Nottingham; full enough. But the House took no farther notice at this time; but the Order was "To make Report of the first Conference."
[And it was Resolved, "That Admirall Russel, in his Command of the Fleet during the last Summer's Expedition, has behaved himself with Fidelity, Courage, and Conduct. This Vote was ordered to be delivered to the Lords at a Conference.