Grey's Debates of the House of Commons: Volume 5. Originally published by T. Becket and P. A. De Hondt, London, 1769.
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Saturday, May 4.
Debate on the Treaties resumed.
Mr Secretary Williamson.] I told you yesterday "that the matter of the Alliances rested in what the Dutch Ambassadors would resolve;" and last night they met with the Lords, &c. and there discoursed. At the first Conference ended the proposition of Nimeguen, that the time might be prolonged. The Lords made answer, "That the King would not hearken to these propositions, nor to a longer time." The Lords (because the thing was of great weight) would put the thing in writing; but to that the Dutch Ambassadors answered plainly, "They had no orders to give any thing in writing, and they would not." This is the Answer to what they asked. Next it was proposed, "What is it that Holland can do towards a War, any thing more or less? And by what means they would be enabled to do any thing?" They answered, "Nettement, clearly, we are not able to speak to this point. With your Questions we shall acquaint our Masters. The Lords then gave them in writing, viz. "What they could do towards a War, and then for the prohibition of trade, & that they would give an account to their Masters of the Alliances proposed." The Ambassadors could not then well excuse themselves from writing their Answer. But as for the Conference this morning, I have not yet had an account of it.
Col. Birch.] The matter is now, what is to be done upon the Debate adjourned yesterday; and from the report of the honourable person of the Conference with the Dutch Ambassadors, I know not what to say. Though I am not the youngest in years here, I am in experience, and therefore I shall begin to speak my mind. The matter and the causes were taken ill to be complicated, but I cannot well see how to separate the matter from the causes of it. I rather begin so, because of an accident that happened yesterday—(Goring) I am willing to pass it by, because the person has not sat so long here as most of us; else I believe the words would not have fallen from him. Examine, pray, whether this matter we are upon, is not cut out by the same thread as former things have been. Few Gentlemen, I believe, but think we are out of the way; so that the most natural Question is, when were we in the way? I answer, it was then when the Triple League was made, and a sum of Money was given for it; and not long after 'twas broken, and so broken as perhaps neither this age nor the former can parallel. This was broken, but whether well or ill done, I leave you to judge. I'll bring this down to what I would say; what then followed upon this? We fell presently to a conjunction with the French King. First, at sea, we taught them to fight, and the use of our ports, and to build ships; and sent them our men to assist them; and 'tis no new thing to tell you what the cries of this House were then against it. Whether this was done amiss, or no, I must leave to you to judge—When this was done, away go the French with running all over before them, and when the French King thought himself sure of us, he went to the bottom, and set up Popery in all his Protestant conquests: And one of our Articles with him was, "That that of Popery must be fulfilled in all points." If I am out in this, I would be told of it; and as the Text speaks of Sennacherib, God put a hook in his nose, and led him back by the way by which be came (fn. 1). These Confederates were more alarmed for their civil interest, than for Religion. They entered into a Confederacy, but such a one as needed not to invite England into it. I never yet read but that all the points of our interest were contrary to France. But yet we made ourselves parties; and Forces were sent over to the assistance of France. And this is no jesting matter. If this had been only to give France some encouragement against such a great Confederacy, it might have been something. But for us to send conquering Forces, amazes me; and now the King cries to the House, and the House to him. We have had Patience with a witness. The King sent his Proclamation to recall those men out of France, and what did they do? Did they come? No such matter. They came not, and, for a reward of their disobedience, those very officers did raise more men in Scotland and Ireland. This being thus over, first, we touched the thing gently; and I will tell you we had a kind of reprimand for it, we spoke so mincingly. But when we did speak home, there was never such a thing said to the Commons of England; and we were sent home with the Speech, you remember, pinned to our backs. And had the people had no better opinion of us than those that sent us home, we had been so whipped as we were never in our lives before. The Prince of Orange was then sent for over to be treated with. I think, we are much beholden to the penners of this Speech [the King's] that let us know so clearly every step that has been made. When they penned the project for France, 'twas intended we should see it; which has made a perfect breach almost betwixt the States and us. Now this is over, I will speak my mind, as if I was to answer it at the Great Tribunal. I never yet spoke as if I had a fear that that little I have should be taken away from me, or that I desire to get more. Did not we declare that the Nation could not be safe, unless we either took the French Fleet, or they gave it us to burn? Can this be upheld under 100,000 men? And can we sit safe thus? Whatever Peace we have, it will be infinitely worse than a War—Then I pressed it hard to enter into the Confederacy, and they gave us leave to come in, if we would. So that when the House stumbled upon the Pyrenean Treaty, it seems, we were in the dark, and came nearer the matter. A project was sent from France, and now we are in the light—And see! in the dark we were near the matter. We pressed to see the League, and the King's Quota, and the King is to set out 90 Ships, and the Dutch 30. A concert it was indeed, but it was with one string only. The burden lay upon us. Upon these accounts, we have raised arms and money; and noble persons in the Houses took commissions; and we would trust all in their hands. But all this while, who must we fight with? Fears and Jealousies arose in the Dutch from these preparations, & dealings with the Prince of Orange, and I wish from my soul, we have not the worst of it. Now for what must we fight? Against Brandenbourg, because he will not make Peace with the Swede; and Spain, because he will not give up all to the French or the Germans, &c? This very Peace, that little we see of it, is worth millions in behalf of the French King; and rather than I would give one shilling for it, I would give 500l. against it. Now the Question is concerning this Alliance, offensive and defensive, into which we would have the Dutch enter. When a beggar has got a tone, he can scarce leave it— The Dutch tell us, their poverty is the case—I would never say what we would not do, but what we would do. If, by reason of their poverty, they cannot come in with 60 Ships, I would take them with 20; and take them upon the old League. I am amazed that we make all this beating and bushing when we might have come into the Confederacy if we would. Whether this new Treaty be a better, or a worse, than that of Nimeguen, I know not; but we were told by him that made the King's Speech, "that we were come into Alliances." I protest I am glad the French King cannot, and will not accept what we proposed to him by Lord Feversham; for should he, the next day we are ruined. Suppose the French King had accepted the propositions, what had been the consequence?—A chain of Alliances broken, and perhaps the wisest Prince in Christendom would not be able to piece it again. But now we have it, I would keep it upon any Terms. After all this I have said, the Question is, whether this League before you be pursuant to the Addresses of this House? We were told so, and I, like other good-natured men, believed it; and now we find not a word of it so. Therefore, I am for voting presently, "That this League offensive and defensive, &c. is not agreeable to the Addresses of this House, nor the safety of the Nation."
Sir Philip Monckon.] Seconds the Motion.
Sir John Hotham.] I like Birch's Motion so well, and it has been backed with so good reason, that I move we may vote "That these Leagues are not pursuant to our Addresses, and are not for the good of the Nation." And then I am sure we shall not be obliged to give money to maintain them.
Mr Booth (fn. 2).] Yesterday we adjourned, in hopes of some satisfactory account of the Conference with the Ambassadors last night, and I hoped that Lord Feversham and Mr Churchill's Answers, &c. might have been imparted to us to-day, and the rather I hoped it, because it was told us, "That whatever we desired should be communicated to us." But seeing this only is before us, I look upon it as a device to bring us into a Vote for that black design they have been hatching these ten years, and they want nothing but a Vote of this House to accomplish it. I hope we shall take warning by former evils, and not be too hasty in what we do. I cannot understand that arcanum of Prerogative, "That we may not see more, &c." It was told you, "That you must not see them." I do suspect that, because we may not see them, there is some pernicious matter in them—And it is sad, that great men are not called to an account, and when the safety of some particular men is preferred before the good of the Nation. I have the heart of an Englishman, and courage to declare it. I cannot say this is for the interest of the Nation. We are told, "It is better to have this Peace than none." I am for a War, if it be but for employing these new-raised men any where. It is strange there should be such haste to raise these men, and now we have nothing but towards Peace; the matter before us is not what advice we are to give the King, but what we shall declare upon these Treaties. We are either to like or disapprove them. No man can have the confidence to say he likes them. If we be silent, that seems to give consent; and therefore, as I would declare these Leagues are not agreeable to the Nation, nor the interest of the Kingdom, so I think I did not serve the King and Kingdom if I did not.
Mr Secretary Williamson.] I beg leave to think, that is not, and should not, be the Question before you. If the business before you be recommended by the King, 'tis for matter of your Advice, and not matter of Probation, or Reprobation only. I will bring you back, if you please, to that which should be your Question, and I shall speak plain; that this is not your proper Question before you, and a very great disservice to you. I will not undertake to know more than others know; but I will tell you Holland's impatience to be in any Peace. But yet any one they can get is infortunate to England, if we are left alone, and stand as we do now, and nothing will put them sooner upon it than that Vote you are moved to. The King has called them "Treaties for the Preservation of the Spanish Netherlands, offensive and defensive," and whether you will supply the King, or not supply him, is in your judgment, but I hope the House will not undertake to judge what is good and necessary in Treaties, for the good of England. I confess, the Treaties are not what I could wish, but when this is the only Treaty you can get from Holland, and the best you can ever bring them up to again, though they be not what we wish, yet [they are] in pursuance of what we wish—He that follows at a mile's distance, follows. One Gentleman wishes for "the Triple Alliance," and that is quite on another foot, and another kind. By that Treaty, Holland would have been very ill put to it, and other places; Aids must come to them a great way, and at great expence; but now, whether out of necessity, or humour, Holland will not come up to any War, but what must conduce to a sudden Peace. Now, what is best for you to do? I will considently say, not that Vote you are going to pass. Their impatience for Peace is so great, that by all we can hear from any hands, they are near the extravagance of 1672. Something from this House, to prevent that, would be very natural.
Sir Thomas Clarges.] I move that you would state the Question, having been so many times firsted, seconded, and thirded.
Sir William Coventry.] The light Williamson has brought us in is not all we have reason to hope for. But 'tis not so dark, but it has given us some light; 'tis plain, that if they were going out of the Confederacy, they would not make any Proposition; some Towns are lost, and our Army going—That they should be unprepared for Propositions; no man shall make me believe it. It is plain they are going out of the Confederacy—Though I would not give them any provocation to go out, yet I would take my Measures as if they were. 'Tis my tenderness in this matter. If they are not going out, at this time of the year, I see no hopes the Dutch will continue. If they go out, thus stands the case: There is a Confederacy of all the German Princes (except the Duke of Bavaria) Spain and Brandenbourg all in Alliance against France. If this Alliance be dissolved, are you securer? Can any hand we have in this Peace be a permanent security to us? After the French King has made a War, because of the diminution de sa gloire, with whomsoever withstands his taking his neighbours Countries, the States shall have all their Country again, but he could swallow his neighbour's Country. So I look upon it that as soon as the Confederacy is dissolved, France has you at his Mercy. Let no man think the Confederacy can be raised again when once dissolved. It would be the most joyful thing to all the Princes of the Continent, for the King of France to employ his Arms upon an attempt against England. They then may breathe awhile. The danger is so near us, and so irresistible, because we have so few friends. I could wish we had clearer lights in this matter, but yet we had better go into a War, than be swallowed up by a Peace. Therefore I would address the King "to go into a War, till the safety of the Nation may be better provided for."
Mr Vaughan.] When that was said, "that we should have all the Treaties before us to advise the King upon," and now that we are told, "we cannot judge them," I cannot reconcile that. We have had Laws repealed by the King's Declaration; and we have made Addresses to the King for stopping the Growth of France, which was confessed inconsistent with our safety; and Forces were sent into France from hence; and yet no body is to blame. We joined with the French Ships to cut our own throats. And as there were no Articles that the French Ships should fight, so I fear there is none to have your men again. If you agree to this, you legitimate all the crimes that have been done. From hence, safety should come out of our doors, but by this Advice proposed ruin will come to the Nation. Dare you not call this Treaty what is proposed? If you do not, you legitimate the League. This is the Question, and pray put it.
Lord Cavendish.] The honourable person, (Williamson) yesterday made a long discourse in his own vindication, &c. I have a respect for him, but I believe him never the more innocent for that. The project of a Treaty, as it is, goes on dangerously for the liberty of the Nation. As he has justified himself, so I would have others. If he would tell us who penned the King's Answers to our Addresses, and made these Treaties, that would purge him. I would express our sense of this League, and then I hope the Confederates will come readily in to us.
Sir Edward Dering.] To say, "that these Leagues are in pursuance to our Addresses," that expression would be harsh, and "prejudicial to the good of the Nation and the people" is so too. You may advise the King to enter into an Alliance with the Emperor, and the King of Spain, and so use endeavours to bring the Dutch to a farther Alliance with us, for suppressing the Growth of the French. But for the present, these are the best Leagues that could be got.
Mr Boscawen.] You are moved "for making Alliances with, &c." and you are told "these are the best that could be got, &c." It seems not so to me. Holland has the greatest reason to hold to the Emperor and the King of Spain, because they assisted her in her distress. It is a strange thing they should be as free in the Treaty with us, who were in effect enemies as to them. They have no assurances from us, but these Treaties, and no man has the confidence to say that these Treaties were in pursuance of your Addresses. Therefore I propose the Question moved for.
Mr Powle.] I lay it down as fundamental, that nothing is more desirable to the King of France than this Treaty. He is willing to part with some Towns, to have a legal Title to the rest, and is willing to go back to rest him, to be able to take another step. 'Twas opened yesterday (by Downing) how prejudicial it was to us the parting with Dunkirk. This Treaty is as bad for Holland. They are not at all secured by it from the French King, who restored them little or nothing. Sweden was to have more restored him than the French King had to restore the Spaniard in Flanders; that is, Pomerania. I would be answered temperately, from whence this Article came of "our compelling totis viribus?" In case of a failure on the part of Spain," we must fall on Spain totis viribus. That Article came not out of Holland; out of England, surely. We are, when this Peace is made, Guarantees for it; and always force must be kept on foot. And this will be a colour to keep up a standing Army in England. No man can deny this Peace to be infinitely prejudicial to England. But 'tis said, "we must not condemn it, for fear of Holland, who desires Peace." I fear Holland is going out of the Alliance, but I justly imagine they are so, England making their own bargain for some time towards Peace; and if there must be a Peace, they will not let England have the advantage of making it. Say we, "Let us have the making of it." "I will not meddle with you," say they, "till you are off from the Peace with France by your secret Negotiations now on foot. When this is done, we will enter into Debates what is fit to be done, that there be no clashing amongst the Confederates." The Council makes the King's Speech, and we ought to show the King how he is abused; and till you show the World, that you will not build on so rotten a foundation, they will not join with you, till you condemn it with dislike.
Mr Waller.] A Question was stated to you for condemnation of this Treaty, and giving the King more salubrious counsel. The Dutch were in this very Project of Treaty with France, &c. and wanted excuses for it; and now we shall furnish them with excuses, a lesson they are willing to learn! You yourselves start from it. We have thirty Ambassadors and Ministers from crowned heads in London, who observe our actions. I have sat in Parliament a great while; and shall I begin now with finding fault? What will these Ambassadors say? "The Parliament have sat a week upon these Treaties, and what have they produced? They have found great fault, but have advised nothing." Let us have union. Our Advice drained Holland, when under water, and got them their Towns again. By your Advice of breaking trade with France, their interest in Sicily was lost. That was the result of your union. I would have the King given affirmative Advice. Any thing rather than this of finding fault.
Mr Garroway.] You have been told "you have many foreign Ministers here." I am glad of it, that they may see how sensible the Commons of England are of this Treaty. I would throw away this project that has been a tool in some mens hands. New bottles for new wine, to be on the old hanks no more. You will be prevented in this, if you prevent not prevention itself. You, by it, unite all here; you encourage all the World; you will make the Confederacy as strong with you, as Holland. Where is your fear, to hanker thus on this Project? I would condemn this Project, and vote it out, and then advise the King, &c. and for that reason I would vote it out.
Sir George Downing.] As to that Article, in the Project, concerning Sweden having all they lost in Pomerania restored, and that the French shall retain what they have in Sicily, by way of pledge and caution for it, till the Articles are concluded from Sweden, and whatever else may be reasonably proposed for Flanders, there is a place called Fribourg, and all the Dutchy of Lorrain— What do I know, but by this Treaty we are engaged to break with the Emperor? Can an Englishman have a thought to any thing of this kind? This may run us into a War with Holland, the Emperor, and all the World. As to the Treaty, you have my opinion. But for your present proceeding, what is to be done? Plainly, if the Dutch come up to this Project, I would brand it, before I go out of the House; but they are far from that. But for you to do an act where no immediate necessity obliges you, but where the honour of the King is at stake, and know not yet the result of another Treaty with the Ambassadors—It is always in your power to damn this Treaty when you please. I would let this be as a tie upon the Hollander. I would not go too forward, nor backward, in resolving, &c. What hurt is there in it, to move the King for farther light?
Sir Thomas Littleton.] An appignoration is not reasonable, unless it be a sufficient pledge for what is engaged for extra Belgium. The nature of the thing is such, that if it be agreed that the King of France is in so terrible a posture, the nature of the thing will require keeping up a standing Army, besides the usual caution; and by this Treaty we shall be naturally obliged to it. We need no farther testimony of the thing, for the Treaty itself is felo de se; and I would put the Question proposed.
Mr Papillon.] I would not hold the Dutch in this Treaty one hour longer. You are told that the French have refused it, so the King is disengaged as to them, and likewise to the Dutch. It is for the King's honour now to take new measures; and he is ready for your Advice. Therefore since the House does not like this Treaty, now is your time to do it. And I would, without an hour's delay.
Sir Thomas Clarges.] If you stay till Monday, it will be too late to give your opinion upon this Treaty. A secret Council has been held, which the King knows not of, at Lord St Albans's Chamber; Monsieur Rouvigny, Mr Barillon, and a great Minister of the King's, held it, and Rouvigny is gone into France with the result of that Council. And I believe the King knows nothing of it, because you are not acquainted with it. Rouvigny may be quickly with the French King: And it may be too late to do any thing on Monday. I would therefore have the Question put, "That the League offensive and defensive with the Dutch, and the Articles relating thereunto, are not pursuant to our Addresses, nor consistent with the good and safety of the Kingdom.
On a division of the House, the previous Question was carried in the affirmative, 166 to 150, and it was then Resolved, That the League offensive and defensive with the States General of the United Provinces, with the Articles relating thereunto, are not pursuant to the Addresses of this House, nor consistent with the good and safety of the Kingdom.
Sir Henry Capel.] I think the Debate to-day has been a concurrent Debate. I will take the liberty therefore to offer a Question, viz. "That the humble Advice of this House be offered to the King, that he will be graciously pleased to enter into the general Confederacy against the French King, and that the King be humbly desired not to make any separate League with France."
Sir Thomas Lee.] I would have it expressed as to a League you would have made, as many of them as you can get to surround Holland; that it may be done seemingly to know what we do is sufficient for saving of Flanders; and we must talk not only of saving, but recovering it.
Sir Thomas Littleton.] This was a fatal mistake of sending Lord Feversham—Upon recollection, the States were presented with the Project from France; and this is in dimunition of that faith of the Hollanders. But 'tis well they repent of it, though too late. The error was not in making the first, but in the second. It is a common observation, that if a man have any spark of grace left, he will grow religious in his distress. Let us not tempt other men to break their faith; let us go upon the common fate of the Confederacy; let us be a party, and do justly and honestly, and resume that honest opinion we were of formerly.
Mr Garroway.] I am for the thing, but I find difficulty in the thing. Therefore be careful to word it. Possibly we are a little too hasty to word it, before we know how to word it, if we word it to-night. But because we may not hazard by delay, I would have an Order made, for Monday Morning, "to debate the thing of entering into a League for the good and safety of the Kingdom, and support of the Confederates."
Sir William Coventry.] I would have no delay in this matter. If the Confederates see that we are in earnest, to join with them, &c. and believe what we believe; if so principal a Member of the Confederacy, as Holland is, be going out, and that not supplied by something as considerable, every man, as fast as he can, will cry quarter from France, and get as good conditions as he can. The French, perhaps, will not be backward to tell the Confederates, "That this League is disliked, but you have put nothing in the place of it, and you expose yourselves to this League; the Parliament of England has voted down what you have done, and advised the King nothing." And I know not what effect this may have in England also. But be pleased to come to this, "That 'tis your advice that the King enter into the Confederacy to suppress the French greatness;" and order a Committee to form an Address to the King to that effect.
[The House adjourned for a quarter of an Hour, and] according to the Debate, a Committee withdrew, and worded this Address, reported by Sir Thomas Meres: "That it is the Opinion of this House, that his Majesty be humbly advised, and desired forthwith to enter into the present Alliances and Confederations with the Emperor, [and the] King of Spain, and [the] States General of the United Provinces, for the vigorous carrying on of the [present] War against the French [King] and for the good and safety of his Majesty's Kingdoms; [and] particularly, that [effectual] endeavours be used for continuing the States General in the present Confederation; and that it be agreed by all the parties confederate to prohibit all trade between their Subjects and Countries, and [France, and all other] the Dominions of the French King [And] that no Commodities of France, or [any of the] Dominions of the French King, be imported into their Countries, from any place whatsoever: And also, that all endeavours be used to invite all other Princes and States into the said Confederation: And that no Truce, or Peace, be made with the French King, by his Majesty, or any of the Confederates, without general consent first had therein."
Sir Thomas Clarges.] In this Address, I would not exclude Denmark and Brandenbourg. Restrain it to those in the present Confederacy, without any complication.
Mr Sacheverell.] The Emperor, Spain, and Holland, are the three material parties, that you aim at, doubtless; the rest will come in, if you leave them a latitude. No man but is sensible that Counsels have been guided by persons that wish you not well; therefore I would add to this Address, "That if any of the Ministers, or any other of your Majesty's subjects, shall advise you to the contrary, they may be judged as enemies to your Majesty and People."
Sir Eliab Harvey.] I like the words so well, that I would have them added to the Question; and I second the Motion.
Sir Nicholas Carew.] I move, "That if his Majesty has any Advice to the contrary, that you would desire the King to be pleased to let you know who they are, that do so advise him."
Mr Garroway.] The King has sent to you for your Advice, and those you represent must bear the burden of it; some body has been the cause that your Advice has not been taken, and will not you give the Advice, you are moved to? You would not stay this Address till Monday, lest evil Counsel should interpose, and therefore I would add these words moved.
Sir John Hotham.] I am positively of opinion, though I cannot point at particular persons, (but if I see footsteps, I believe men have been there) that Money must be given; and how shall we hope things will be well managed, if by persons that have already so miscarried? I know not who they are; but you need not scruple this addition to the Address, moved for, since all we have is at stake. I third the Motion for that addition to the Address; and I will not be tender in this point.
Sir Thomas Littleton.] I would not have those words in, "all other Princes." How do you know that all the Confederate Princes Agents here have instructions? Many of the Princes concerned have no Ambassadors here at all. And this is the primary and principal part of your Address. And you put the King upon a quarter of a year's work to fulfill your desires. The three Confederates, Spain, Holland, and the Emperor, have all their Ambassadors here, and in two or three days the King may know their resolution—Else, you hang the thing on a hedge, and leave it loose, and your ends are in no way accomplished.
Sir Thomas Meres.] The reason in short is, that you may have some effect of your Army this summer—The words of "The King of Denmark, and the Duke of Brandenbourg," may be added. Their Ambassadors are here. As for the Allies, they are present in the Emperor.
Mr Powle.] I can never expect that all we aim at can be done at a time. The three Princes will be a good step for the first. You may else be engaged in a quarrel with Brandenbourg and Denmark. Therefore I cannot agree to those words of "Confederation."
Mr Secretary Williamson.] I desire to ask, whether the Prohibition of Trade with France does answer your expectation, as to the Consumption of the Commodities? Else you will not answer your ends.
Sir Thomas Lee.] Now you are upon the Prohibition of Trade, I would read the Address, paragraph by paragraph. Something I would have for the farther assurance of the Dutch. You do this as a Land-mark, I conceive; that they may not have the Trade of the whole World from you. Therefore I would have it general; not only to France but his Allies. The same time Holland makes a Peace with France, he is an Ally, and then you are in new trouble.
The Address passed as above.
Sir Thomas Clarges] I move, that, because great Counsels are in agitation, we may make all the haste that can be, and that some of the Members of the Privy Council present your former Vote to the King with this Address of Advice.
Sir Thomas Lee.] I think it better to present it by the whole House, and 'tis more for your honour to take that way, and it will have more weight in it.
Sir Thomas Littleton] If we go to the King in a body, this will not be effected till Tuesday, or Wednesday, and many things may intervene.
Mr Powle.] I would not have the Committee draw up the Address; it is needless; for if the Speaker present it to the King, he may speak it in the manner of an Address.
Mr Saville.] The King desires your speedy Advice, and in things speedy they cannot have the Ceremony as in other things. Therefore I would have the Privy Council this night present your Address to the King.
Mr Hampden.] If this Address has not all the form and solemnity that things of this nature usually have, you may regularly communicate this Vote to the King, by the Members of the Privy Council, who may acquaint the King, "That we hope that his Majesty will excuse that want of form usual in things of this nature; by reason of the emergency of the affair, and the exigency of time."
Which was ordered accordingly.
Monday, May 6.
Sir Robert Sawyer, Speaker, excused himself, by Letter, from farther Attendance on that Service, by reason of indisposition, and Mr Edward Seymour, the former Speaker, [having recovered his health] was chosen in his stead, [and approved of by his Majesty.]
Mr Secretary Williamson.] In obedience to the command of the House, the Privy Counsellors attended the King with the Vote and Address, and desired his Majesty's excuse, "That it was not done with that Form and Solemnity usual, and the House humbly begged his pardon, &c." The King commanded me to present the House his Answer to the Address. It being under the King's own hand, I beg leave to present it at the Table:
"His Majesty having been acquainted with the Votes of this House of the fourth instant, was very much surprized, both with the Matter and Form of them. But if his Majesty had had exception to neither, yet his Majesty, having asked the Advice of both Houses, does not think fit to give any Answer to any thing of that nature, till he hath a concurrent Advice of both Houses. Given at the Court at Whitehall the 6th day of May, 1678."
Sir Thomas Meres.] In a matter of this great weight, I know not what to propound. It was laid down as a principal Matter of great haste; and therefore the Address was not sent his Majesty with the usual solemnity. I know not how to hasten the Lords Advice, and the King knows how to call upon them. This is a new Matter; and since the safety of Christendom depends on the safety of the Nation, I would consider how to hasten the Lords Opinion, &c.
Mr Mallett.] There is no need of any Apology for the Form of the Address, by reason of the haste, &c. I think we gave faithful and cordial Advice from hence, and in the regular way.
Sir Edmund Jennings.] On Saturday last, it was my Opinion, that it was proper for us to go by the way of the Lords Concurrence, and it is the usual manner of such Addresses, because the King's Speech was directed to both Houses, and the most regular way is joint Advice. And now you have sent your Vote to the King, I know not whether it be proper to draw it again, by way of Address, and desire the Lords Concurrence.
Sir Thomas Lee.] You must not wonder if I say, I look upon this poor Kingdom as in a condition you cannot help, and I know not who will. It looks like the rest of the Advices, when you were sent home, and told, "That care should be taken of the Kingdom." It looks as if those persons who made the Peace, would take this occasion to rivet it. I look upon ourselves as in a most miserable condition, and as if the same hands that brought us into this misery would continue us in it.
Sir Nicholas Carew.] I move to have my Lord Chancellor's last Speech reported and answered.
Sir John Hotham.] The Reporter from the Committee of Privileges has several Reports to make, and that of Religion is of main concern. I would have that reported.
Col. Birch.] I would be satisfied whether we have done all that is to be done in this business before us. The King is desirous that the Advice of both Houses may be had, before he makes Answer, &c. I am a man for plain dealing, and I would get what light I can into this, &c. 'Tis talked that the States have made a separate Peace with France, but, in truth, their part of it only; but it is hinted to you, that, if their principles agree not, they will not conclude it. Their principal thing that puts them into this Peace is the jealousy told you on Saturday. As for their Government, they are fond of that, and have apprehensions of the Prince of Orange. Nothing can be so fatal to us as delay in this great affair. As soon as we come to a bare resolution we may expect effect. But if the King will have farther Advice from the Lords, I would have ours put into a better form. I know the worst of it, and there's nothing so pernicious to this Nation as the French Project, and no War so bad as this Peace. Therefore it is fit for us to know the bottom of it. And I would advise the King to send over into Holland to let them know that what jealousies remain, &c. That all the Confederates will be Guarantees for it. Now the Question is, whether the States will continue the War—If so, under what Quota? If 90 Ships, which we cannot believe, and the men, either of these will do your business, and I would have the Lords Concurrence.
Sir Christopher Musgrave.] The necessity of the affair is unusual. To advise the King, in an Address, to try if he can keep Holland in the Confederacy, is well moved, and if they cannot come up to their Quota, to make it up ourselves; and to desire the Concurrence of the Lords.
Mr Sacheverell.] I cannot agree with those Gentlemen in this Motion, at this instant of time, but when 'tis seasonable, I shall concur with them. We cannot lay a stricter tie upon the Dutch than the Vote on Saturday about Trade with France Now, I would know whether this Motion is not to undo what was done on Saturday? And the King tells you, "He was surprized, &c." I would know what has surprized the King, before we go any farther? Now, if the King expects the Lords and Commons Concurrence in Advice, I would know how far we concur. Perhaps we differ, so the staying one day for this may prevent entanglement betwixt the Lords and us, which may last twenty days, which staying a little while may prevent.
Sir Thomas Lee.] I would have the Order for the Report read for this day, from the Committee of Privileges.
[It was read accordingly.]