Debates in 1675: April 13th-19th

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Grey's Debates of the House of Commons: Volume 3. Originally published by T. Becket and P. A. De Hondt, London, 1769.

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In this section

DEBATES IN THE House of Commons, From the Year 1667 to the Year 1694.

Tuesday, April 13, 1675.

The House met [ (fn. 1) When the King in his speech declared, "That he would leave nothing undone that might show the world his zeal for the Protestant religion, as established in the Church of England, from which he would never depart, recommended to them the condition of the fleet, and, above all, such a temper and moderation, as might disappoint the expectaions of those, who could hope only by violent and irregular motions to prevent the bringing the session to a happy conclusion (fn. 2)."

Resolved, Nem. Con. That the humble and hearty thanks of this House be returned to his Majesty, for his gracious promises and assurances expressed in his speech, to preserve and maintain us in the established religion, and our properties according to law; and for his calling us together at this time for that purpose.

The House sat April 14, 15, 16, and 17, but no Debate is taken notice of till]

Monday, April 19.

The Habeas Corpus Bill was read the first time, [being] the same that was brought in the preceding session.

Another Bill was read against levying any tax, subsidy, or impost, without an act of parliament for so doing; and not to be levied in any other manner under a penalty of high treason. (fn. 3) The same was brought in the preceding session.

SIR Robert Howard.] The thing aimed at in this bill, is rather shaken than reformed; here is in it encouragement to resist the levying of money, perhaps in the government of a parish on necessary occasions, and such as raise money so, may be within the penalties of the bill, as it is penned.

Mr Sacheverell.] Rises up upon Howard's expression of "encouragement to resist." There is no such clause in the bill. This is no new thing, it has its precedent out of six laws now in being. In 5 Eliz. "It being lawful to withstand" 20 Hen. VI. ch. 8. "Purveyors may be resisted taking above such a value" Magna Charta—5 Edw. III. ch. 7.—23 Hen. VI. ch. 2. "the king's purveyor doing contrary to that statute, all the towns thereabouts may resist the purveyor."

Sir William Lewis.] To Order—The second reading of the bill is proper for these Debates, but now only whether to read or not read the bill a second time.

Mr Sawyer (fn. 3).] Good caution has been given not to undermine the government; the house was always cautious of it. It was noised the last session that these bills were the cause of our prorogation—It creates ill jealousies—When we come to debate the particulars of the bill, the inconsistencies of the Bill with the government, it will be considered maturely—But he finds little in the bill, either impracticable, or inconsistent with the government; it only puts penalties upon known laws.

Mr Sec. Coventry.] Numbers of people being concerned in levying of taxes, the bill should be maturely considered, and gentlemen prepare themselves to speak to it, and have time to consider.

[The Bill was ordered to be read a second time.]

Sir Thomas Clarges.] [Occasionally] Hears of a Thesis printed and published at Leyden, in Holland, and he that maintained it in that university, and printed it, has 700l. given him here for doing it, his name is Hamilton, a Scotchman. [More of this hereafter.]

Sir Thomas Littleton.] Moves in behalf of the kingdom, and the whole Christian world, (France excepted) for re-calling the English forces in that King's service; that the French may be no farther encouraged to ruin us, and the rest of their neighbours. 'Tis expected they will invade Flanders—Watching the proceedings of the House in this critical time. Would not by this motion endanger a prorogation, has not that in his thoughts, hopes it may be a good session, declares it, and therefore if any thing concerning the fleet may be enquired into, would come to it fairly without surprize, and not be upon a rock at the latter end of a session—Would not surprize nor be surprized.—Moves not as to the Dutch so much as in relation to ourselves; sees nothing in them but encroachments upon public treaties.—He sees the Dutch ambassador great with our ministers, and with the French ambassador.—We have run into the error manifestly of assisting the French, and would avoid it. In the Palatinate business Spain then stood in the room of France, and was then as formidable as the French are now, ready to swallow up the world. Addresses were then made to K. James about it, but were denied, till he, in one of his speeches, saw his error, and redressed it. In Cromwell's time, something of this was done, as if it were the fate of England under all governments. He does not design a breach of peace with France,—the Dutch except against our sending forces into France, and so does Spain. This lies as a bait and allurement for more to go over. This summer there will be 10000 of the King's subjects, English, Scotch, and Irish, in a body, in the French army. This is so far from a breach, that it preserves peace. Though there be no article against sending men into Holland, yet men are deterred from it, and none go over. Grotius tells us "That if a Prince be in a formidable posture of war, ready to devour his neighbours, no Prince is obliged to stand the blow." The request of re-calling these men is modest and moderate. If the English and Dutch say the word, no man can come upon our coasts. Moves only for recall of these forces, and doubts not but the dutiful advice of the Parliament will be preferred before any council about the King.

Lord Cavendish.] The danger of Flanders falling into the French hands, is what he most apprehends. If one Prince has been able to manage a war against Christendom with such success, we may justly apprehend it. 'Tis our interest to support the Protestant interest, which France totally destroys. Seconds the motion.

Mr Sec. Coventry.] Desires leave to make a small deduction how the affair stands—Would not put the King upon the inconvenience of re-calling them all, but such as the King lent, to be recalled; they are the K. of England's subjects, but the K. of France's soldiers. Are they of a number to break their way home? All law of armies will hang them if they should attempt it. Fears that men go over, and complaint is made of it, but still asks where are they forbidden? In Ireland, and all places, ambassadors apply to the King's Ministers, and wishes they would apply no where else. But to come on this instant upon this—Will not you alarm the King of France? And yet you shall not have a man come over. The King in the Gospel considered whether with his 1000 men, he could meet the other with 10000. The King of France may make a peace with the States before you have passed these Bills before you.—That now you will take these men away levied with leave. Will you do this before you have money or men? Let us take our own beam out of our own eye, then shall we see the better our brother's moat in his—but till you are well, and the king confide in you, and you trust him, you are not to talk of the King of France.

Sir Thomas Meres.] Acknowledges himself altogether unable to enter the lists with Coventry. This address to the King "for re-calling these men out of France" concerns the very being of England, and now is a fit time to do it. The next session will be too late. These walls will witness against us, and the ghosts of our ancestors will rise against us if we do it not. 'Tis said "Why should you not assist the French with those that are now here, his soldiers?" It seems then that the people of England are his subjects. You may discharge those that are there, and prevent more going over; by doing so, other nations will not think us asleep, dull, and phlegmatic. He conceives this vote will not conclude a sudden peace, betwixt the French and the Hollanders, but hopes the confederates falling flat, this vote will encourage them. 'Tis touched as if we were governed blindfold, and that 6 or 7 men must govern all. He is glad to enquire as country gentlemen used to do. Formerly this House did understand foreign affairs as well as any council. The suffering these men to be in France is not for the interest of religion. That has been our interest at all times since the reformation. 'Tis the King's glory to defend the Protestant religion, and his greatest interest. The King of France is now the great patron of the Popish interest. In their treaties with us, when we joined with them against Holland, one of the articles was "that in all towns surrendered them, half the churches should be Popish." Whoever will support the Protestant religion, must not support the French interest, and he lays that down for a principle. The edict of Nants [has been] violated upon 100,000 Protestants. We all know what became of them in Piedmont. In France, Protestants are hindered from all manner of offices of value. They are not to marry Papists, and after having become Papists, 'tis death to turn Protestants again. They are governed there by citadels, and by military power. This is against your trade—by the French correspondency you have lost the Spanish, the most advantageous trade we have. The French are industrious in it. The Spanish more heavy, and not so apt. Ten thousand of our men are in France—Would we had them in England! Though this town has too many, yet we want men all over England. We are their neighbours, and it is extremely dangerous they should get Flanders, which would help them to the trade of the whole world. Their fleet is now 100 men of war, and fears that our fleet is not so great by a third part. The King of France is setting up for the Western empire. Observe how the French have broke all treaties, and at last ours, both by sea and land. But imagine them faithful and kind, 'tis as dangerous to our interest. They have destroyed their three estates, an ill example to us in government. 'Twas always the opinion of our ancestors to keep the balance equal betwixt France and Spain.—To which we ought to have a deference. The permitting these forces to be in the French service, must be ill taken by our allies. The French already scorn us in some of their books; let us not make them greater than they are by permitting these forces to be in their service. But seconds the motion for "Address to the King for their recall."

Mr Sec. Coventry.] Meres desires "that he should not support France nor the Romish religion." He said no such thing, nor made one motion to support France. Pray tell him what he said amiss.

Sir Thomas Meres.] Intended it not to that Gentleman then, but to all advisers of such things in general.

Sir Thomas Littleton.] Every body knows of these mens going over, as much as they that ought to know it, and want of taking notice of it by them that ought to look to it, is the cause of it.

Mr Wood, a ship wright.] Desires that a passage in my Lord Keeper's speech may be remembered "that Joseph, in time of plenty, provided for famine," and though we are in peace, would think of building ships.

Col. Strangways.] Is glad to see we begin to come to our wits again. Should you advise the King of France not to agree with Holland, you engage our King in a war. It concerns us to look to ourselves, lest we should be engaged in a war with Holland, and therefore would petition the King to put a stop to any more of his subjects going over to the French service.—The scale now is turned from former times.—France is grown more powerful than Spain.—If the French should take Antwerp, and be masters of the Scheld, they will be formidable.—Is sure that a great many of our men are gone over into France, and few the other way into Holland. But is glad to see the House awake in it. Would have trade considered; for silk, wine, and linnen, that we have out of France, outbalance all your trade together, with brandy, which carries away not only your money, but your senses with it.

Mr Sec. Williamson (fn. 4).] As to "recalling our forces al"ready there" we cannot do it, and as to "stopping any more going over" it was the last night's business. If there is any countenancing their going over, it is on the other side to Holland—Would do equal to both. Every man has his opinion, and he has his. He fears we ought to have an eye upon some others of our neighbours as well as the French. Our fears are on the other side, (the Hollanders) and 'tis the opinion of the council already. This cannot be a war of religion; though the Swedes have declared themselves for France, yet their Ambassador has cast in a memorial to the Emperor for the Protestants of Hungary.

Sir William Coventry.] Is glad the Swede takes such care of the Protestants of Hungary—Should have more believed his care of the Protestant interest, had it been as well for the Protestants of France, as those of Hungary. What he does is only his interest. The Secretaries object, "that it is a thing not to be done." He will not oppose what Privy counsellors affirm, but 'tis an odd thing for our King's subjects to sell their allegiance to another King. Though they should be naturalized by the King of France, and the Parliament of Paris, that does not absolve their allegiance here, and he thinks that the King's Ministers ought to have taken care of their return upon the interest of their Prince concerned. If that has not been done, 'tis selling these men to slavery. 'Tis safer to recall them while the King of France has an enemy;—our safety better while he has work on his hands, than when he has none. If France refuse to let them come home, he gives cause of offence to England, and this is not safe for him to do. The opinion abroad is, that there is such a misapprehension of our interest, that there is not an indifference kept between the French and Dutch. If our men are under such an unlucky propensity that they will go into the French service against their King's will, would move for an Act to make it highly criminal to go under a foreign Prince's service without allowance from the King.

Mr Garroway.] Our fears of ruin from the French are in every body's mouth. The question before you is "for the recall of these men from the French service." For soldiers to go over and have leave to fight against Protestants, is a corrupt school to teach them to despise religion and property. If they are sent by public authority, hopes such a provision, as is fitting, is made for their return. If they go privately, they ought, at the sea side, to take the oath of allegiance and supremacy, or they are felons if they return. Knows not what condition they are in. What compliment has the King of France made with Liege or Flanders? Whatever is before him he will take if he can, and if he makes peace with his enemies, we may be the next. Would have the address made to the King with all respect. They are gone over either by authority, or not. If by authority, hopes their return provided for; if not, they ought at their perils to come home. The French have remittance out of Spain, by bills of exchange, though now in war with them, 400,000 per ann. out of Germany, Spain, England, and Holland itself. People grounded on such a bottom dangerous to let be great. Would have a committee to draw the state of our condition in reference to France, and in the mean time would address the King for removing those forces.

[Resolved,] That an humble address be [presented to his Majesty] for the speedy re-calling of all his subjects [home out of the French King's] service, and for hindering any more from going over, into that service [for the future.]

Mr Powle.] More men may be transported into France before the prohibition comes from the King; therefore would proceed with this presently to be presented, fearing that the influence of the French council is too great.


  • 1. " In April, 1675, a session of parliament was held, as preparatory to one that was designed next winter, in which money was to be asked: But none was now asked; it being only called to heal all breaches, and to beget a good understanding between the king and his people."—Burnet.
  • 2. "Plain as this text was, the Lord Keeper was ordered to add his comment, which was so copious, that it takes up no less than 16 folio pages, every one of which is garnished with the flowers of rhetoric, and withall so void of matter, as scarce to afford pretence or excuse for an extract." Ralph.
  • . This is called in the Journal, "A Bill to prevent illegal exaction of money from the subject."
  • 3. Afterwards Attorney General.
  • 4. The Earl of Arlington, after his impeachment, having the King's leave to sell his place, he offered it to Sir William Temple for 6000l. and on his refusal, bargained for that employment with Sir Joseph Williamson. See the Life of Sir William Temple.