Grey's Debates of the House of Commons: Volume 5. Originally published by T. Becket and P. A. De Hondt, London, 1769.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
Saturday, March 16.
On Quakers convicted as Popish Recusants.
Sir Thomas Lee.] I met with some people in the Hall, who put this List into my hands. It seems, it is a List of those sort of people convicted as Romish Recusants.
Mr Sollicitor Winnington.] The severities of that Law, against the Papists, were never intended to mean the Quakers, that they should be under the penalties of the Statute of Recusancy, of Q. Eliz. The Judges in their Circuits were directed by my Lord Chancellor to put the Laws in execution against Recusants; on consideration whereof the Judges consulted, whether the Quakers came within that Law. In the Circuits the Quakers were severely prosecuted, and their estates were seized accordingly. They have made application about it, and 'tis thought severe upon them. If these Laws against Recusants, [made] when no such persons were known in the world, be applied to them, and the severity of the Laws now in being against them likewise, 'tis a great severity, and worthy your counsel.
Sir Edward Dering.] This matter seems to be of great consequence, and not fit for sudden thoughts. I have had it in my thoughts to do something in it. But I hope, by this means, care will be taken that the Papists slip not out of those Laws. I had rather that the Quakers suffer them. The Quaker's conscience is not to pay the dues of the Church, and to keep men out of their own. I think the thing is worthy of your serious consideration.
Sir Philip Warwick.] Our eyes are upon Popish Recusants, and 'tis reasonable they should be on the Quakers also. The Quakers say "they must go when God calls them;" and no man knows the end of that. Our Acts, as to these punishments, have had, as a religious prospect, so a politic; and to show that we have not had good success in them, I am as willing to go to a Committee to consider them as any body.
Mr Secretary Coventry.] To make a distinction between Quakers and Papists, is the way to make Papists turn seemingly Quakers. But notwithstanding these rigours they complain of, Conventicles are as frequent as ever, and if they have indulgence given to them, who acknowledge no Sacraments, you will punish them that do—The Quakers hold themselves absolved from all ties of Government. It looks to that effect every day. I would have a Committee take these things into consideration.
Sir Humphry Winch.] The Motion from Lee is not for an indulgence towards the Quakers; 'tis only to distinguish Laws against Quakers and Papists. It seems that the same sort of persons are subject to the Popish Laws, and the least penalty they undergo, under the notion of levying the two thirds of their estates by the Statute, is, in some, more than their whole Revenue. It seems to me very untoward. I look upon it, that your intention, in the main, is that a Committee shall examine matter of fact, of the seizure of the two thirds by virtue of that Statute of Recusancy, whether it be true, or not.
Sir John Birkenhead.] Make what Laws you will, and the former Laws too, the Quakers will come under them. They acknowlege not the Government; they will not swear at all; and there can be no Government without Oaths, no Court, no Jury. The fifth Monarchy-men are under the notion of Quakers; they are for King Jesus, and not King Charles. The Quaker says, "He is not for Arms." But one I saw preaching by Aldersgate lately, upon St John's making plain the paths, &c. was beaten by the people. But he watching his opportunity, beat four of the people soundly, with a Crab-tree Cudgel. What need you be doubtful in distinguishing them, for the Jesuits do lead them? A Captain in Lord Fairfax's Army thought a godly man was a Jesuit. The Quaker will not protest against the Pope, though he says he is a Protestant. But yet I move that the Committee may see what may be done to distinguish them.
Col. Titus.] I wonder that Birkenhead, who has always expressed so great a zeal against Conventicles, should be present at them, but I believe it, because he says it. I hate them as much as he, but the Question is, whether they are justly, or unjustly, used in their punishment. That those that do not acknowlege the Pope should be punished, and Papists that do acknowlege him should not be punished, is strange to me. I do not know any instance of that, and hardly of any punishment given to a Papist. King James's Laws did punish Papists Recusants, and your Laws Protestant Recusants, and Presbyterians, (though they think the Pope Antichrist,) and the Anabaptists and Independents. Where is the prudence of it to make all these people as one, and [where is] the Justice in this manner of prosecution? And when there is neither, I hope you will remedy it.
Sir Thomas Meres.] You are upon a tender and curious point. In Lincolnshire none have been convicted but Popish Recusants. I would refer it to a Committee, to know where, and who they are, that have convicted them. I believe they that would confound those Laws, favour Popery. If these people that have petitioned, tell you a lye, they deserve to be punished. It is impossible to pen a Law of this nature, but it may reach Quaker and Papist. But if you invalidate and take away all the energy of these Popish Laws, which may reach Quakers, you spoil all. But before I say any thing farther, I would examine the truth of matter of fact. The Papist and Dissenter may easily be distinguished in the prosecution; and let every tub stand upon its own bottom.
Col. Birch.] I would refer their paper to a Committee, to enquire whether any but Papists have had two thirds of their estate seized.
Mr Swynfin.] I would have a Committee impowered to enquire whether those Laws have been executed upon any, but Popish Recusants.
Mr Waller.] I know not what well to say to this, of convicting the Quakers, as Papists. But I will speak, before you put the Question. It was never the meaning of the House that it should be so. If they meant it, they would never have made a more severe tryal and penalty upon these men than the Papists. For the Papists are not punished without conviction. They may traverse the Indictment. But these have no tryal per pares, only a single Justice of the Peace, &c. and Magna Charta says, "no man shall be tried but per pares." The Papist convict forfeits two thirds of his estate, and those more than they are worth, and the Laws extend to even death itself. No man is more against these men, than I am. No reason will satisfy them; they are not good at that, but they are best at suffering that ever people were. In the times of Usurpation, the Quakers were kindly used. They were so little supported by reason, that the apprentices knocked them [down,] and abused them. But as soon as we made these Laws against them, and put them severely in execution, the people took their part so much, that they have increased. By this increase of sufferings, they have increased their opinions, "that our religion came in by suffering, Sanguis Martyrum, &c." is not only a divine saying, but a moral. I would have a Committee to inspect these things, and remedy them, that the Laws against Papists may not be inflicted upon those that are not.
Sir John Bramstone.] As the Law stands, they must plead their conformity. If you take that away, you destroy all your Laws.
Sir Nicholas Carew] When these Quakers were returned into the Exchequer, they were looked upon as Papists, and the World did think them so. I move, "that there may be a distinction made between Protestant Dissenters and Papists."
Col. Birch.] I would have the Committee instructed, "That they make a difference between Papists and other Protestant Dissenters."
Sir Charles Wheeler.] I would not have the word "other," because it will imply the Quakers to be Protestants.
Sir Gilbert Gerrard.] Never was a more needful time than now to unite them, and I would have the word "other."
Mr Love.] To have them all in the same Clause—I am against it. They may come under the notion of Papists, to have the better quarter I have had some Quakers that would renounce according to the Test, &c. and there are thousands that will. I would not have them be encouraged to seek better quarters, by being under the notion of Romanists.
Col. Titus.] If they are not Popish Dissenters, they are Protestant or Mahometan Dissenters. If the Committee have power to repeal a Law, then there was some danger in it. But that your door may not be too wide, commit the thing upon the whole matter of the Debate.
Mr Secretary Williamson.] This seems to imply that the Quakers will pass as Romish Dissenters; but they are so different, so abominable, that they are not Christians—Inconsistent with the fundamentals of Christianity. The Committee is to enquire into a thing not doubted. Diametrically opposite to Religion—So notorious, 'tis not worth your trouble—If the Law be this, you cannot warrant the execution of it upon the Quakers, in the Magistrates. I would enquire if the Law against Recusants was designedly executed against these people, and not let the door be opened to those [for whom] you never intended it.
Lord Obrien.] That the Papists may not run away without discrimination is your design.
Mr Secretary Coventry.] This is the building or falling of your Church, and of the State. I would see only whether this is faulty in the Magistrate, or faulty in the Law, and mend that.
Mr Boscawen.] All that is proposed is to know a Protestant from a Papist; and if Gentlemen would not have that, I would know what they would have. I would have the Committee "to consider to make a difference betwixt Popish Recusants, and other Dissenters from the Church of England;" and consider some way of distinguishing the one from the other.
Resolved, That it be referred to a Committee to enquire, Whether the persons called Quakers, or any dissenting Protestants, have been convicted as Popish Recusants, and two thirds of their estates levied; and whether that, on the persons that are Popish Recusants, and have been convicted, the penalties have not been levied; and that the Committee do consider to make a distinction of Popish Recusants from other Dissenters from the Church of England.
Lord Russel.] 'Tis plain that as to Popish Recusants, favour has been shown to them. We see how active they are, both in town and country, and the Lords have made little progress in our Bill. I move therefore, "That we may have a day to consider the danger of our Religion, and of the growth and progress of Popery."
Tuesday next was ordered for it.
Monday, March 18.
On the Poll-Bill, &c. (fn. 1).
Mr Secretary Coventry.] This is a Bill the King knows not what to make of; to last for three years, and no estimate made of it. This will leave the King in all the dissatisfaction in the world. When you have made an estimate of this, and the Poll-Bill, you may go on to the rest, and then 'tis time to remind the King of passing the Poll-Bill, which is a declaring War against the French King.
Mr Vaughan.] This looks like a contrivance to delay that Bill, that the King may have the Money; and then in plain English we shall have no War with the French King.
Mr Secretary Williamson.] This Bill is for a War, &c. and not a farthing of it can be employed but in a War, or to a War. This engages the King to a War, and you know this Bill will not go through with it, and we put the King in mind that the Bill is ready; and, at the same time, put ourselves in mind that the Money the Bill raises is for a War, and engage the King in it, and you cannot expect but that old particulars of the Poll will be now, and they came short then. In this, you will put the King upon a great difficulty. I move you therefore, that other things may go on so now that the King may see the rest of the Money. Bills are coming on as fast as methods of Parliament will permit. 'Tis but fit this should be thought of.
Sir John Hotham.] If you intend to go this way, I move, by way of Order (the thing being novel and unusual to see Money refused from that Corner (fn. 2), and that I should move for Money,) that the King may be acquainted that we fear, if this Bill be not passed speedily, the other Money Bills will be taken, and this left, and so we shall have no prohibition of French Commodities, and may be invaded by the French.
Sir John Ernly.] I doubt not of the going on of the other Bills. But Williamson meant, that such a Progress might be made, that the King may see you intend other Money-Bills as well as this
Mr Powle.] If it should happen that the Bill should not be passed in time, to the dates of the prohibiting Clause, the Bill will not fall to the ground, for both Houses, upon Conference, may mend the time. There are several instances of it.
The Speaker.] It will be hard for men to be punished, before they have committed the fact.
[Resolved, That such Members as are of his Majesty's Privy Council, do acquaint his Majesty, that there is a Bill of Aid passed both Houses, and ready for his Royal Assent.]
Tuesday, March 19.
Mr Secretary Coventry delivered to the House the following Answer from his Majesty:
"His Majesty hath received the notice sent him by this House, that the Poll-Bill was now ready for the Royal Assent; which his Majesty was well pleased to hear, and resolves to pass it to-morrow. His Majesty desires this House to dispatch the rest of the Supply promised him, with all expedition. The Sea and Land preparations run great danger of being disappointed, if these Supplies be retarded: And it would be a satisfaction to his Majesty to hear from this House, that no more time should be lost in a work so necessary for the safety and reputation of the Nation, as the finishing those Supplies."
The Lords made these following Amendments in the last Address, which they sent down by the two Chief Justices (fn. 3) :
That the paragraph beginning, "And because your Majesty's endeavours, &c." and ending with these words, "Your Majesty may enter into the War," be left out: And instead of the word "immediately," be put in these words, "with all expedition that can possibly consist with the safety of your Majesty's affairs." And instead of these words, "to no other end," towards the end, they say, "to the end."
Sir Tho. Clarges.] The Lords have taken a long time to consider of our Address, and have male great altera tions in it. They have put out the word "immediately," which makes the Declaration of the War uncertain. We have been told, "that we are in a War already with France, and that forces are sent to Ostend." The Lords have taken time to inform themselves of the state of affairs, and we are in the dark. I therefore move that we may consider of their amendments to-morrow.
Sir Thomas Littleton.] I expected that the Lords would have delivered these Amendments to us at a Conference: I thought that would have been so. The Lords have given us no reason why they leave out this word "immediately," in the Address; and because the Lords have given us no reasons, and I hear no body else gives any neither, I would not agree to their Amendments.
Mr Mallet.] I think it a blemish to our actions, to catch at any little phrase that may give a remora to the thing you desire. I would give my consent to agree, &c.
Mr Powle.] For satisfaction of the Consederates, this is done, &c. and as the Lords have amended it, 'tis to declare War, God knows when. We have been told, "we are in War;" and there is no way but to go into War as soon as we can; and I would adhere to our Address.
Lord Cavendish.] I would know, who are to be judges of the expedition of declaring this War? Those who have suffered the French King to come up to the greatness he is in at present? I would adhere.
Mr Secretary Coventry.] If the King declares War before the fleet be out, we have no reason but to expect that the King of France will be master of two or four millions of our ships and loading, and Merchants effects in France; and that will be more discouragement to the Confederates, than we can keep them up by our declaring War. I think it, from the bottom of my Heart, that 'tis the first time War was ever declared before you were ready for it, and provided.
Sir Nicholas Carew.] I am sorry we are so unprovided, when we have had so long a time to think of it. We are satisfied in the Country that we shall declare War, God knows when—When the French Ambassador is gone, we give so much Money for an actual War, and now we are afraid to declare it. I would adhere.
Mr Hampden.] It looks like suspicion of your advice to enter into a War, if you are afraid to declare it. If the King of France thought you in earnest, he would seize two or four Millions. This makes me believe that he thinks you not so. We were told "that we invaded Prerogative, in the Address;" and the Chancellor at the opening the Session, said, "That Alliances were made necessary to put you into a War." We were told here, "that we were in an actual War, and had raised an Army;" and you will not quiet the King's Subjects till these men are employed in the War; and for these reasons, I cannot agree with the Lords.
Mr Secretary Coventry.] The reasons that the King does not declare War, are, that Declaration of War makes all your Merchants lie open to be seized, which the King of France will not do till you declare it.
Sir William Hickman.] I wish I had memory to repeat the reasons those honourable Gentlemen have given you for this War. I would adhere.
Mr Secretary Coventry.] I never said "there was a War," but that "there might be a War."
Sir Tho. Lee.] You are sent to by the Lords to come to a Conference, immediately. I shall say nothing now to the matter, but would go to the Conference, and then Gentlemen may go on where they left off.
Sir Tho. Meres.] In the Paper, the Lords do not agree immediately: In the Message, they do agree immediately; and therefore I would go to the Conference.
They went, &c.
Sir Robert Sawyer.] All "immediatelies" are, "as soon as possibly may consist with the safety of the Kingdom." If we have a War declared, our forces in France are to have forty days to return home, by Articles; and for that great reason I would disagree.
Mr Secretary Williamson.] If I were assured that the word "immediately" would not be understood otherwise than "the State of the affairs of the King may suffer it," if that be the sense of the word, I would agree with that sense, but not with a word of a double sense. I agree with Sawyer in his sense of the word "immediately"—Not till we are able by supplying the King, and plainly till the King has that, 'tis impossible he should do it. And you appropriate all the Money, and 'tis impossible for the King's Ministers to touch a farthing of that Money, for any other use. If there was no other objection, but that of the Merchants, 'tis but a mean consideration. The Merchants have attended your advice to the King so long, that I think the proclaiming War will fall as easily upon them, as any thing ever did. The Dutch War broke out in fact first, before any Proclamation, and the King laid an embargo upon their Ships, and so they did upon us. But all those Ships, and all those goods, went away, and no accident upon them; but this sticks with me. There must be preparations. Of your 600,000 l. there is laid out 500,000 l, already, and yet the King is in no condition to declare War, and by such a War the French King may break in upon us justly. When the King shall declare War, how do you know but that the French King's Admiral, in the Indies, has a Commission in his pocket to fall upon you there? And, notwithstanding all the zeal you have here for this War, the first successes do great things. Our Ships, out at Sea, are not enough, nor men on the other side of the water. For these, and a hundred such considerations as these, 'tis impossible for you to go into the War with safety, and with prudence, unless you know all other circumstances; which as it is not your duty to know, so 'tis very inconvenient you should, and 'tis impossible to declare War without knowing all. That 'tis morally impossible the King should do it—This Amendment of the Lords puts the thing as far as possibly you can put it to—The King will go on to suit his affairs, that "immediately" as soon as you enable him, he may go on to declare War.
Mr Vaughan.] I was one of those against this word, because I saw the fate of it. It is said here, "that our Merchants will be in danger, &c. but from what, from whom is it? From the French? They tell us, "the War is actually made;" if so, 'tis then in effect declared. I looked upon it as such, if I gave credit to Williamson. He has said, "you should never put the King upon a War, without preparation." I never heard that we had let the King of France grow so great without preparation, and all these things foreseen. If the Proclamation be to-morrow, 'twill be too late; and I would adhere.
Mr Pepys.] This Debate concludes in the word "immediately." I speak but to have by paraphrases what you would have in one word. From this time twelve-month, I provoke any man to show me the like done in any History of the Navy. Things have been carried on as far as the King has had Money to carry them on. The King has strained his credit as far as he can. If you call me to it, I can tell you Ship by Ship; and when all is done, this is not the Fleet you have declared necessary for this War. What less can you be in to-morrow than an actual War ? And you have declared for a Million of Money, but for entering into it. I move therefore you would agree.
Sir Thomas Lee.] Pepys has told you his knowledge of the perfection of the Fleet. If it be not so, when he sees you next, I will tell you that I wish some body else had as much knowledge in the Fleet as he. This tenderness of an "immediate" Declaration of War, &c. looks as if we were afraid, and did it unwillingly, that we are so long about it. We were running into a War with Holland, without any preparation. And for this Poll-Bill, be it but 300,000l. 'tis more than Pepys asked for the present occasion of the Fleet, in his paper that he gave in of particulars; and no Parliament was called, because there was no need of Money for the Dutch War; and this sum is not sufficient for you to enter into a War. You are told now, "that you are in a War, and this Money is for nothing else," and yet you must not declare it. The strongest reason I can give myself for it is, that we do not recall these forces from France. If there be a reason for this jealousy, 'tis because we are still hurried on to Money. We shall have your Money, and an Army, but there is great fear of this Army. I am loth to tell you what fears the people have of an Army, and what reason the people have for it. 'Tis necessary for the Peace of the Kingdom that you raise this Money for their safety, to protect them, and not to hurt them. There is no doubt but the King will follow your advice, or give you some satisfactory answer and reason for it.
Mr Pepys.] I remember my promise, and I may and would part with my head, if what I have told you of the Fleet be not true; if Lee will part with his head, if it be true. But Lee loves his head so well, that I believe he would not bargain with me.
Sir John Ernly.] I have spoken with several Merchants, that say, whether there be Peace, or War, with France, they shall gain by it. I find that we shall go prepared to the War, but I do not think that expedition, as the affair will bear it, will be consistent with the word "immediately." I would be in the War as soon as any man. I would therefore agree with the Lords, and leave the King to be judge as far as his affairs will bear the Declaration of War.
Col. Birch.] You are told how little difference there is between the Lords Amendment, and your word "immediately." I will speak to the danger, to a present or immediate Declaration of War. To the Merchants, there was none in that Treaty, Williamson was at, in six months time. The King of France may, it seems, seize upon our Ships, and Merchants, if he will, and we stand only upon his good nature; and he is a goodnatured man. As for the Plantations, he might have had them before now, if he would too. For the Money intended for the fleet, one fourth will be enough for it, and you may set out 100,000l. If upon landing, &c. you may in a few days draw 20 or 30,000 men of the Militia, better men than you have of your new raised men—With all expedition, I would "immediately" declare War, &c. If not to-day, to-morrow. Pray see how one part of this Address agrees with the other. Your Address had but three things in it; "recalling Ambassadors," "coming out of the state of Mediation," and "immediately declaring War." That of "Mediation" is totally left out by the Lords, and think you the Confederates will do any thing while we pursue the Mediation ? I would withdraw the French Ambassador, if it were possible. Is the reason of this House any more than it was the other day, when we did the same thing ?— Break the Confederates once, and you will never unite them. They will be disanimated for ever. But I understand not that sending men into Flanders is entering into War with the French. This may be done, and yet no War. They do but breathe yonder in Flanders, to see what we shall do—We that were beginning to awake, and see our interest—Can you imagine that the very thing sent to agree should meet with as full a remora and stop to what you intend, as can be? This looks like a disanimation—Your forces are not yet come home out of France, and you enervate the Confederacy. I would therefore not agree.
Sir Gilbert Gerrard.] I believe that Holland, and the Confederates, are not able to support themselves, without you. The French are a warlike Nation, and if Spain cannot defend Flanders, he cannot defend himself, and then all is gone. I believe the Confederates have all their encouragement from you, and I hope the forces you have, you will quickly dispatch over; and that you will open your purses. This House will never forsake the King, if he will "immediately" declare War. A Gentleman spoke of "false constructions, and misrepresentations, &c." I speak from my heart and conscience, I believe we are in great danger else, and therefore I would not agree with the Lords.
Mr Waller.] I have not yet heard a true reason why we should agree with the Lords. One was that "concerning the Merchants" That we have not done our parts last year, as to the growing greatness of the French, I will not believe; and now we give a Million towards this War—Unless we imagine Alliances, I dare not give my consent to agree.
Sir Thomas Meres.] The word we would have in the Address is "immediately." The sense we have of it is "without any interposing:" I believe the Lords understood the word as some Gentlemen have said. I think it was their sense three or four weeks since, but certainly their sense is not ours, else they would not have explained our words so. Keeping back the Money-Bill lost us four, five, or six days. I think this Address pushes on Money in that word "immediately." The Kingdom is at a loss what is aimed at. About four months ago, many men doubted and reasoned, and did think themselves in great danger, what would become of us. Thinking men thought we should not meet, and we should have no Alliances; but I said, "we should have Alliance, or something like it, because we had some obligation of Money upon us." I am still of the same opinion, that we shall have a War; but I think it will be just such a War, as there is an Alliance, a seeming Alliance, and a seeming War; not much to hurt solidly. But our case is this; we would either not part with our Money, or have a War. I ever was for the word "immediately," not to be in the dark; and if you like not the word, "immediately," I am confident it will be but a seeming War. I am sure 400,000l. will set out an imaginary War. We see hats, and feathers, and scarves, about the streets, but I would have a War really to mischief France, and to make good our prohibition of their commodities, and effectually to go on with it; then all as one man we shall do it: Else but half will go against France. This word may draw on a Peace; I am for it, for that reason also. If we must have this Peace, I would have it known by August. I would not stay till October, not so long, for then we shall give Money for it. Be it War, or Peace, I am for this word "immediately;" and I would not agree with the Lords.
The Question being put to agree with this Amendment, it passed in the Negative, 155 to 112. And the rest of the Amendments were also rejected.
Sir Thomas Lee.] I suppose we intend to effect this, but I hope for none, unless we have a Conference with the Lords, and prepare our Reasons for not agreeing.
Ordered, That the same Persons who drew the Address, do draw the Reasons for not agreeing [to the said Amendments.]
Wednesday, March 20.
[In a Grand Committee on the Bill for the late King's Interment.
Mr Waller.] 'Tis said that the late King chose the place of his Interment to be where his Ancestors were interred. The other day I was at Windsor, and an old Sexton showed me the place where the late King was buried, in St George's Chapel. A King's Will is a sacred thing, and 'tis a blessing, in the Bible, " to be buried with his fathers." Does any body know it was the King's Will to be buried at Westminster? King James his father, was buried there. Henry VII. built the Chappel, and his Monument is there; and, the late King deserves a better Monument. Though Henry VII. was a great Prince, who united the two Roses, this King was a great Martyr for the Church and Laws. If there be any thing of his Will in it, 'tis the sacredest thing in the World, and I would have it left to the King.
[The Speaker resumed the Chair, and Sir Thomas Meres reports, That the Committee had sa, and being informed, that the Black Rod was at the door, the Committee had ordered him to leave the Chair.
On a Message from the King, the House went up to attend his Majesty, in the House of Lords; where he gave his Assent to the Poll-Bill, &c. and made the following Speech, which was reported by the Speaker:
"My Lords, and Gentlemen,
"I am so zealous for the good of the Nation, that it shall be your fault, and not mine, if all be not done as should be, for the honour and safety of it: And I must tell you, there must be no time lost."]
[March 21. Omitted.]
Friday, March 22.
The Commons delivered the following Reasons, at a Conference with the Lords, for their not agreeing with the Lords in their Amendments of the Commons Address, &c.
"I. That his Majesty having declared to us, since this Meeting, "That he had made a League offensive and defensive with Holland against the growth and power of the French King, and for the Preservation of the Spanish Netherlands," we cannot but suppose, that his Majesty hath disposed of his affairs already in order thereunto, and is therefore now so far engaged that an "immediate" Declaration of War against the French King cannot be either prejudicial or dangerous to his Majesty's affairs.
II. That by declaring a War "immediately," his Majesty may begin the War against France at this time, upon equal terms; whereas, if things continue in this doubtful state, the French King may begin upon us, when he sees his best advantage, and surprize his Majesty's Subjects, while they go on securely in their trades, in confidence of a seeming Peace: And if we should agree to the Amendments your Lordships propose, the provocation to the French King will be equal to an "immediate" Declaration of War; and will equally justify him in such a manner of proceeding, and yet, at the same time, leave ourselves and the Confederates in great uncertainty.
III. That the Arms of the French King have been of late so prosperous and successful, that it may be doubted, that, if his Majesty does not "immediately" declare War, the Confederates, or some of the principal of them, may be constrained to make a Peace upon such terms, as the French King will grant; whereby we may be left to defend ourselves alone, or upon much greater disadvantages than we may do at present.
IV. That by the words your Lordships have put in, the time would be left indefinite; and so must be subject to the exposition of those, who have prevailed with his Majesty to defer the entering into the War too long already.
V. That by declaring a War "immediately," the forces his Majesty hath raised must presently be sent abroad, and employed beyond sea; whereas, otherwise, they may be kept up in this Kingdom; than which nothing can be more dangerous to his Majesty, and more destructive to the laws, liberties, and properties of the Subjects of this Kingdom; the fear of which hath already possessed their minds.
VI. That by such a Declaration, his Majesty's Subjects, now in the French service, will be recalled, and brought thence; and, by that means, the Arms of France will be deprived of their assistance, and his Majesty and the Confederates strengthened by the addition of so many sorces, who may otherwise suddenly be employed in fighting against those whom we desire to support.
VII. That the charge of maintaining the Land-forces will be very great; and we can no way satisfy those we represent; chearfully to bear such taxes as are necessary, unless the immediate employment of them abroad be plain and visible.
VIII. That if his Majesty make himself a party in the War, it will be inconsistent with the continuance of a Mediation.
IX. That the continuance of the English Ambassadors at Nimeguen, as Mediators, may raise a doubt in the Confederates, that his Majesty had not [quite] laid aside all endeavours of Peace, by way of Mediation, and would therefore prosecute the War with less vigour (fn. 4); and may also cause apprehensions that the forces sent to Flanders are rather intended to enforce a Peace, than for the defence of those Countries against the French.
X. That in the powerful condition the French King is in at present, it cannot reasonably be expected he will condescend to any Peace, whereby his Majesty's Kingdoms may be sufficiently secure.
XI. That the continuance of a French Ambassador here, after declaring the War, may be very prejudicial, in respect of intelligence, and private correspondences: And, as to the English Ambassador in France, we conceive it better for his Majesty to recall his own Ambassador from thence than to have him sent away (fn. 5)."
Whereunto the Lords made this Reply at a Conference:
"That this House being of the same mind with the Commons, in our earnest desire to have a War prosecuted against France, we think it highly necessary, at a time when we should be unanimous in our Counsels, that nothing should appear of difference between the two Houses in their Reasons, upon a matter of so high importance to the Kingdom: And where, in our Answer to the Commons, it may perhaps be necessary to say things which might afford matter of fresh disputes, instead of arriving to that end we all aim at, we do therefore chuse to give this only Answer to the whole, that, understanding these Treaties are not yet perfected with the Allies, which are so absolutely necessary to the vigorous prosecuting of the said War against France, and the obliging the Allies not to leave us alone in it, we cannot agree to the Address of desiring his Majesty to declare a War, untill the Alliances with the Emperor, Spain, and Holland, at least, shall be completed: In the dispatch whereof, we are confident his Majesty will not be wanting, on his behalf (fn. 6).
[March 23. Omitted. Adjourned to Tuesday.]
[Tuesday, March 26, 1678.
The House addressed the King for a short Recess; to which his Majesty agreed, and appointed them to adjourn to April 11, the next day.
Wednesday, March 27.
The House, according to Order, took into consideration the danger the Church of England is in by the growth of Popery, and being informed, that Mass is publickly said in many places in the County of Monmouth, and one Mr Arnold being called in, and asked divers Questions touching the matters contained in a Paper delivered in, viz. "An Information of several Popish Priests, and Jesuits, and of the persons that countenance and support them;" and one Captain Scudamore being also called in, and asked several Questions concerning one Elliot, a Popish Priest, formerly committed to jail by the said Captain Scudamore;
Ordered, That the Thanks of this House be given to Mr Arnold and Captain Scudamore, for their Informations, &c.]