Debates in 1678: May (23rd-27th)

Pages 1-26

Grey's Debates of the House of Commons: Volume 6. Originally published by T. Becket and P. A. De Hondt, London, 1769.

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In this section

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

Thursday, May 23, 1678.

THE House met according to Prorogation, when the King was pleased to speak to both Houses to this effect:

"That there was great appearance of Peace abroad, but, notwithstanding that, he thought it reasonable to keep his land and maritime force on foot, till it was agreed whether it should be Peace or no; but yet submitted that to them, whether they thought it best to continue or disband the army, recommending it to them to consider how to provide in either case; that men of quality and bravery, who had offered themselves and fortunes so freely for their country's service, should not be discouraged.

"He told them of a branch of his revenue (meaning the Duty on Wine) which was expiring, and of more he was like to lose by a clause in the Poll Bill;" (which was the prohibition of French commodities.) He desired "they would not drive him into extremities, as that would end ill both for them, and him, and the whole nation." And at last he told them, "That he would never hereafter pass any Bill, be it of ever so great importance, that had several matters tacked together in it." The rest he left to the Lord Chancellor (fn. 1).

[The House being returned, after the Speech had been read by the Speaker]

Sir Winston Churchill.] Complained that we cannot follow the Speaker to the Lords House without hazard of our lives, the disorder is so great, by reason of crowding.—You, Mr Speaker, tell us many great things, declared from my Lord Chancellor in his Speech. I desire he would give you the copy of what he spoke to us.

Mr Powle.] I am one of those that ventured myself amongst the crowd. I am amazed at my Lord Chancellor's Speech. I take it to be an invective against what we have done. The highest censures that I ever heard of! If we are guilty of it, let us lay ourselves at the King's feet; if not, let us vindicate ourselves from the reflection. I think he says, "The King commanded him to tell you &c." I think more than once, the thing is of great moment, and till we see the Chancellor's Speech, we cannot proceed.

Sir Thomas Meres.] In a new Session, I would not lose old Order. Anciently the King's Speech was not read in this House, nor the Chancellor's. But if they be here, I would have them read. If that Speech of the Chancellor's be not ready to be had, you may read a Bill, and appoint Committees. I would have no more of that of the Chancellor's Speech debated upon, left we have it not at all. I would read a Bill, till the Chancellor's Speech comes.

Mr Secretary Coventry.] The House has no power to send for the Chancellor's Speech. But if the Chancellor would impart it, it would give great light to the House; and, in the mean time, I would read a Bill.

Mr Sacheverell.] There is not one Speech of two hundred years but the substance of it is entered in the Lords Journal. And if the Chancellor be not so kind as to impart it to you, you may have it in the Lords Books. And if the Chancellor deny it you, I would send thither for it.

Mr. Mallet.] 'Till you have the Chancellor's Speech, you would do well, I think, to read a Bill to regulate his Court and his Conscience.

A Bill for preventing abuses in collecting [the duty of] Hearth money was read the first time.

A Committee was ordered to inspect the Lords Journal, and see what Entry is there made of the Lord Chancellor's Speech, and to report the matter to the House to-morrow morning.

Friday, May 24.

It was moved to take into consideration the King's Speech and the Chancellor's Speech, but no Order for it.

Sir Thomas Lee.] I hear there's an Order for printing them, though they are not yet upon record in the Lords Book.

Sir Thomas Littleton.] Till we have that Speech of the Chancellor's, we have nothing to go upon. I would adjourn now, and I care not how soon we go upon it.

The Bill of Popery of the last Session was called for.

The Speaker.] The Clerk is not answerable for any copies of Bills of the last Prorogation.

Sir Robert Thomas.] It seems, we must not touch upon Popery; that must not be meddled with.

Colonel Birch.] Moves for leave to bring in a Bill for securing the Protestant Religion against the growth of Popery.

[Which was ordered accordingly.]

Saturday, May 25.

A Motion was made for an Address to the King, to know whether we shall have Peace, or War.

Sir Thomas Littleton.] I am for seconding the Motion for an Address, &c. to know whether we shall have Peace, or War. The Army is called "our Army," and it may be called "our Peace," too. The common news is, that Spain has made Peace with the French; I know not whether it be owned by the Ministers of Spain; I know not whether the Emperor or the Princes of Germany are come into the Peace yet. If it be a Peace, and they comply with it, I look upon it as the most dismal thing that ever was to our nation. If the Confederacy be dissolved, there's an end of England, and how much more, if the Dutch go off from us! As for the guarantee of the Peace, I value it not, for I know no Alliance England has to depend upon for its security; and I would have a League with Germany rather than not at all. The Spaniards may come back again to us. This, and nothing else, will make them think us in earnest. If a Barrier be left for Holland, &c. why do not the French take it in? The Dutch are as forward as they for Peace, and if the French take in that Barrier betwixt Flanders and Holland, possibly they will be as forward for War as they are now for Peace, and may knock their Governors on the head, if they will not make War. But if this Alliance be not made, you'll have no support from them at all. If a War goes on, and we are allied with the Emperor, though Holland look on for a time, yet they will run into the Alliance at last, when they see it hopeful. It is a mistake that the Prince of Orange is so low as is said. He is Stadtholder, and in good power among them; and I hope in six months they will be convinced of their error with the Prince. And though for a time they may stand neuters in the Alliance, &c. yet they will come in. In a general Peace Holland will run away with general Trade; but in time of War they can have little Trade. If it be Peace, we shall be wormed out of our Trade. They will grow rich, and France will support them. Pardon my rude meditations and indigested thoughts in this matter, which deserved more consideration, &c. being a matter of great weight. I would have this business easy to the King, and would take away all occasions of picking quarrels. You were told, "the best way to support the Confederacy was auxiliaries." I propose to put a greater body of men into the Duke of Lorrain's hands. I look upon him not as a soldier of fortune, but as one that fights for his own country, and may do honourably by them. I would not have this brave body of men dispersed, but kept up by subsidies from Germany. But it is objected, "How shall we come at this body of the Confederates?" I take it for granted that this little slip of a country that's left, may be a passage for our men by the way of Embden, from thence to Munster by land, and so to Cologn. No man thinks the French King can pass below Cologn, for the Germans will have him upon the lock there. He has no towns on the Rbine that way. If they under the Duke of Lorrain be not paid, the fault will lie upon the House, if we continue not the Subsidies. If this be done by land, no man will doubt but we are superior to the French at sea, and our management, I hope, will be better, and we are not so mean as to think the French can vye with us at sea. They have not so many men as we, and our coast is' a great help to us; for in the unfortunate Chatham summer, had it not been for that unlucky counsel of setting out no fleet (what we suffered was by that;) our very coast makes war against any nation. Therefore I would apply to the King to make War with France, with what Confederates he can get together, and we'll stand by him in it.

Mr Secretary Coventry.] I am as much for War with the French as any body—You have had as much said as can be in the matter; but I doubt that some things are not thoroughly thought of. The Duke of Lorrain is a generous Prince, and a great soldier. But you go upon one supposition, that the French King will not conquer all Flanders, before you can join, &c. If you resolve upon a War with him, he will have all Flanders before you can have your army over, and join forces with the Duke, and that way spoken of will be stopped. The Germans have as brave men as the King of France, but the Confederacy disagreeing on their quotas, they have already been in disorder. Brandenburg, Denmark, Holland, and Spain have failed them, and now will you go about to supply all this defect? I would have it well computed what sum must do all this. Holland, when he treats with you, tells you of several quotas for the Indies and the Mediterranean. But when you consider our Plantations, rich in stock, though not in money, how can they be preserved? And if you leave out Holland, how will you support this? These are things of great consideration, and I hope you will consider before you resolve.

Sir Thomas Littleton.] The Question, as I proposed it, was thus: "If the King would enter into a War with the French, with such Confederates as he could get to support him, this House will support him: But if the King, in his judgment, think fit to have Peace, we are content. But if he enter into War, we will assist him."—But for Peace, I shall not think it arises from the House of Commons till I see it. But I would leave all these considerations to the King and Council. Leave it there, and in two days it may be done, and leave it entirely to him.

Colonel Birch.] I would very willingly hear from the honourable Gentlemen the inconvenience of this motion, before I give my consent. Though this army was raised in the dark, I would not part with them but in the light. This House has, for several years, as by spirit of prophecy, foreseen these things, and been of the same mind as now it is, and so am I. The danger of the Army, &c. has been mentioned; yet when I look them in the face, I would never give consent that they should be disbanded without doing something. But if any man can propose (who stands on higher ground than I) and can tell me that we shall be in a better condition by Peace than by War, I'll be of his mind. The fatalness of this Peace is no new thing, but how it has been driven on by our Ministers, you know. But what shall we do when this Peace is made, and the Confederacy at an end? What shall we be secured from? The great man (the French King) who keeps his word with no man, except our King ?—But when this Peace is made, let the Commons of England know what's next. And if this Peace be more chargeable than this War, certainly it is reasonable to address the King to know in what condition we are in, as to Peace or War.

Sir George Downing.] Every porter that walks the streets can tell our condition. But the part of generous men is not to lament over the misfortune, but to go about to remedy it. Every post brings us new things. Spain is treating with the French King, but the question is, what shall we do ? He that can tell you is an Oracle. If Peace be, I look upon the Kingdom as undone, and Holland ruined. God can remedy it, and can say to the proud waves, Stand still at the bank. Then what shall we do ? We are moved to make another Address to the King. I am never forward in Addresses, as improper. The variety of the thing is not opened, and we are in the dark, and it is not proper for us to meddle with Peace and War, and I am sure money is only proper for us, and no man but, ourselves can put his hand into our pockets. I know not how to speak to this. Though Holland and Spain go not out, this may prompt them to go out; unless you supply what support they are deficient in, in Germany and Spain, &c. Now what would you do, in this matter, proper and honourable for the nation ? Let all jealousies be laid aside, and let common safety be looked upon only. Our house is on fire, let us quench it. This will recall the Hollander to the War, and encourage Spain and Germany, when they see we are upon the common business of France. That, and that, and nothing else. The King says not, part with these forces till it be Peace or War with France. The not disbanding these forces you have raised will make them think you are in earnest, if provision be made for paying and keeping them.

Mr Garroway.] In this Debate we must consider our condition. We are required by the King to give our advice in the Chancellor's Speech. I submit Peace and War to the King; but when we are called to give our advice, I would know to what. The King of France has fourteen millions sterling revenue; and leave him in Peace, what will become of us ? Pray let us not give advice upon nothing. We are told of Peace making with Holland and Spain by the French, but not a word of the Confederates. What hand have we had in the Peace, is a sad reflection. I will not go back—But address the King, that we may have light to give advice upon.

Sir John Ernly.] As to Spain's making Peace, I fear it is not in our power to make it better, or worse. Spain has been offered supply from England and Holland, and has not accepted it, which makes me stumble at it, and what France parts with to Spain, he will have again, first or last. But I would gladly know how the King can tell you, whether it will be Peace, or War; for I cannot tell you. The King tells you, "he had rather have War," and so would I. If the Spaniards deliver up to the French this great town, then our men are lost, and I fear we shall give them opportunity to break the League, for they (Holland) will say, "France can protect us, and you cannot." And that will be a Commonwealth's principle, to take him that can best protect them. In my reading, when the King has asked advice of this House, they have referred it to the King and his Council; but now the King asks it, with expectation of an answer. Therefore I conceive now, that the King has War and Peace in his power, and so have the States, &c. and I think it not adviseable to do any thing to put the Dutch upon going out of the league; and as we desire to be farther enlightened, so must the King, before he can give you an answer.

Mr Vaughan.] It seems, sparing to over-run the remainder of Flanders is merely a compliment from the French King; if so, it had been well that we had not been deluded. Now you are trusted, because you are supposed to be the collective Wisdom of the nation. You have passed a Bill, upon the sense of the nation, for a War with the French King, and a confluence of people in arms thereupon shows you the sense of the nation. When we go home into the country, we shall be asked, "Is the Army disbanded? why had we not a War? and why gave you our Money?" In Henry VIIIth's time it was considered, upon the dissolution of the monasteries, that the ends of their foundation were piety, abstinence, continence, &c. Those who would dissolve them found out the contrary, luxury, impiety, and incontinence. If you make yourselves unfit to sit here now, you'll make yourselves unfit ever to sit here, or any other Parliament more. What good Bills have we done since we met? They have been all stifled by a Prorogation. Next we have given the people's money, and they expected some good laws. I speak this, that you may leave yourselves under some good character, to be acceptable to the nation. Rather than have this baffle put upon the nation, I would go to War upon myself, if I could prevent it.

Sir Robert Sawyer.] I think the House will never go back from their opinion of a War with the French; but if such a Confederacy may be made to bring France to its bounds, I am for it; but if such a one as must leave England to shift for itself, it is the most dismal thing that ever was done. Unless there be a perfect unanimity in this Vote, as it were with one soul, it will be the most unhappy thing imaginable. There are many jealousies in the management of affairs, and I hope very false—The King, in his Speech, offers something towards what you are upon; and I know not what better method you can take. It will be a difficult point to give advice, till you know whether it will be Peace, to provide for keeping up these forces—Unless the Confederates be taken in, if we resolve on War, or such a Peace as England may be safe from France—In order to that, I would consider the King's Speech.

Sir Thomas Lee.] You are told of "fears, and jealousies of a Peace, and the ruin of the kingdom;" and all this is, England cannot be safe without a War, and with a Peace with France. Sawyer tells you, "not to disband the Army till there be Peace;" and so England is to keep an Army here, and ship the Parliament out of town, and make a Peace. I see not how we can do that, nor make any provision for the Army, till we know what's to be done with the Army. I would have them employed now, lest, when there is occasion for them another time, no men will come in. There's great danger to baffle them. This is not an ordinary proceeding. You voted the King money, at the King's desire, for a War, and did appropriate it for an actual War with France; and if there be no War, there's a perfect breach of both your words. And how will the kingdom trust either of you hereafter? But there's another difficulty sticks with me. At the beginning of the Session all was War: At the latter end of the Session, when we should only declare War, and when a prohibition of French commodities was made, and an appropriation of the money to a French War, which angered the French King, then we were prorogued. If this had been before, the Lords might justly have said, "we are not ready to enter into it." This might have been told you, before passing that Bill, that we are standing in this condition; that the War could not be proclaimed, and the Dutch would not stand to it, only the Germans. And now we are come to it, the Spaniards are going out of it: And if you vote another sum for the Confederates, I know not whose turn it is to go out of it next. We have not seen the Alliances, and I wish that those have that should have seen them. I see no harm therefore in this Address moved for, to the intent we should pay this Army. I would gladly know what the King's pleasure is (that we may not invade his royal Power) how he stands in this matter of Alliance with the Empire alone, whether it is the King's pleasure to enter into the War alone? I think, is a seasonable question. But how wise and how safe to do it, lies in the King and the Council. And when once 'tis told you that it is a War, there will be as few fears and jealousies as ever; but if it be Peace, I know not how you can smother them. Such an Address moved for may be for your service; and such a one I am for.

Mr Secretary Williamson.] The States have agreed on a deputation to the French King at Ghent, from Nimeguen. The errand is only to ask a Cessation of Arms for six weeks, to consult their allies, not to treat a word of Peace. If that be granted, Peace or War will still be uncertain. If you make your application upon that point, I see not how the King can give you any farther answer. If the King should say "yes, he's for the War, &c." that's the high way for Holland to go out of it, against his obligation. In either case, if you go to the King with that question, you can have no other account of it, but that 'tis uncertain in the whole. Now since you are in a strait and difficulty what to advise the King, you may think of some support for these men that have been raised, in the interim. They are still on this side the water, because there is not money to send them over, and Spain has said, "whatever Holland shall propose, they will consent to."

Sir Thomas Meres.] It is difficult to form this Question, therefore bold in me to offer a Question. But I will propose that which was firsted and seconded, and is now become a Question, viz. "That an humble Address be made to his Majesty, to know from his Majesty the state of affairs as to Peace and War; and that if his Majesty will enter into a War with the French King, with the assistance of the Emperor, and such other of the States and Confederates as his Majesty shall think fit, this House will support him in it: But that if his Majesty shall not think fit to enter into a War with the French King, that his Majesty would be pleased to disband the Army."

Mr Sacheverell.] It is a sad thing to me to consider, that, after a Parliament has done all they can, and so often invited the King to support him in this War, all negotiations are contrary to it; but what sticks most with me is, that the King should pass a Bill for money for an actual War, and yet treat for Peace. Those persons hindered a Declaration of War that put us upon a Cessation, and would have you keep up your Army without end, and pay them. I would have them paid to the full; and I believe them to be too much Gentlemen to desire to stand in the nation, without employment. But for a Cessation of Arms only for Spain, and Holland, and not the Empire, it seems to me to be prepared in this House, that the King can give you no answer. And yet you must give money to support this Army, who have oppressed the nation. Shall we be kept six or eight weeks longer together in suspense? What effect can we have of it? and hope that the Parliament will put up that now from the Ministers which, the last Session, they would have scorned? Let it not be forgotten that they have exposed this House, who have given money even in the dark. Therefore I am for putting it upon the truth, to know whether we shall have Peace, or War. We invade not the King's Prerogative when we desire to know it, for the good of him, and his people. And I desire to know how we stand, as to Peace, and War. Before that, we can give no advice.

Sir Thomas Littleton.] If the Address run, "That the King should take such Confederates as he can get, and we stand by him, &c." it will be said, "Let him (it may be) with what petty Princes of Germany he can get." But the word "Empire" I look not well upon. If with Bavaria, Holstein, and Gottorp, &c. this the Empire is not in. "The Emperor" is a good word "and such other Confederates as can be got." Allow fitting liberty to those that are to form the Address, and they may consider it.

Mr Swynfin.] It may be my ignorance, but I confess I have but a dark understanding of the Question proposed; for I confess I understand no effect of it, whether you'll disband, or not disband, the Army. If you cannot make a War, you must go into Peace, but 'tis none of your Peace. And I would not have it of your making, as I fear you'll do by this Question. Why should you desire to know what this Peace is? Therefore I would let the point of Peace alone, and ask no Question about it, for fear of making it your Peace. But I fear we overlook what the King has told us in his Speech. Lay that, and what he has formerly said, together. He opened to you a League offensive and defensive with the States General, but nothing towards War in it. You are told, "that since, the Dutch are gone upon other terms, and that Spain is come into them." And on Tuesday you were told by the King "they are violently going into Peace." What can be more plain to you than Peace? I would never else have you disband this Army. That's plainly before you, and I believe you will be told no farther of Peace, or War. We know sufficient, unless you will run yourselves into farther snares. You cannot expect an answer from those States and Princes till some time, and till then the Army must be in being. Our Addresses have brought this Army upon us. But what most reflects on the honour of this House is, that these men were raised for an actual War with France by us, and here is no War, and we sit still. Upon the whole, going to the King will entangle us yet more about Alliances with the Confederates. Disbanding the Army presses us, though raised contrary to our desires. All the rise you gave it was for an actual War; but now 'tis raised, you sit still, and make no step forward towards War with the French. Unless you will make yourselves a party, are you not obliged to consider the disbanding them? If not, you make them yours. You must either give money to pay them, or disband them. I move therefore to adjourn the Debate till Monday next, and then consider whether you'll disband, or keep them up.

Mr Sacheverell.] I fear we shall have no War effectual, and therefore I would have no obligatory thing in the Question.

Sir Thomas Littleton.] I would never go into any advice to the King, but oblige ourselves to support him in it. If the thing be of that nature as to send to Vienna for it, I am against it. But all agree that the Ambassadors here have full power to treat, and a few-hours will tell us of it. And it is pernicious to disband the Army till that be known.

Sir William Coventry.] I should have been glad if the House would have inclined to adjourn the Debate. No man knows how much light a day would give, when every post from Spain, Holland, Germany, and France, may give new lights to this matter. I confess, I cannot come up now to matter of War, though formerly I was as much for it as any man. My lights, that I go by, are these: Holland is going out of the War, and Spain is so much towards it, that he has sent his resignation to Holland. Germany remains only in the War; and shall we rely upon a people of so dull a temper, whom we see doing nothing towards a Peace for themselves? I acknowlege the truth, that the Emperor's Ministers here may have power to treat, &c. but it is not what his Ministers do here, must make a League. It must be ratified by the Emperor. Is it reasonable to think that the Emperor will go out? He has resolved to go into Peace. Now all his Allies have left him, shall not we, by joining with him, help him to make his conditions more speedily? I am afraid that the other supports the Emperor had, have left him, as Holland, Spain, &c. and he believes us not so steady as to be willing to take us by the hand. These things induce me to believe, that we are not fit for such a War. When the thing was plain, then we were, without doubt, ready for advice; but in the darkness we are in, we must be wholly led by the King. To have an Army here, when of no use for what it was designed, creates such jealousy, that it is a means to rob the King of the hearts of his people; and may make him lose that support, when really there is occasion for it. The King may see lights for a War, which we see not. Therefore I would address the King, "That, if he see no cause to pursue the War against the French, he may please to disband the Army."

Mr Boscawen.] I am one of those that dislike the Peace, but yet I would not take it upon our backs, because our backs are broader than others. I take not the Spaniards nor Hollanders to bemad men to make Peace without us. I am not for putting it off for a day longer. I would make an end of the thing now. If it be Peace, we shall see it, and the Army may be disbanded, and we sent home, after a chargeable attendance here.

Mr William Harbord.] When I reflect upon what this House has done to prevent the greatness of the French King, and yet that he has almost over-run Flanders, and almost overcome Sicily, I admire how we can engage this kingdom in a War with France. As for the Army, I would use them like Gentlemen, and would use them honourably; you may soon enough have occasion to use them again against France. But I do not expect it, as long as these Gentlemen are at the helm. Spain did offer prohibition of French commodities, and so has Holland. And if War could not then be made, I expect it not now. Therefore, I would add the words to the Question, of "disbanding the Army."

Mr Secretary Williamson.] You are told of a Memorial, "That the Hollanders and the Spaniards would join with us in a prohibition of French commodities." Every tree in St James's Park has echoed it. 'Tis certain, that for months and years the Dutch Ministers have preached up the poverty of their nation. I came to them to wash my hands of the success; as a private person I told him, "I was amazed to find his masters so changed in their opinions, and his masters must pardon me if I spoke it, that for years together they have spoken of prohibition of the French trade, and now they make a difficulty to enter into it."

Colonel Birch.] I would show that this very money you have given has been used towards Peace. I would let the world see that you are unchangeable; and would therefore have that addition to the Question.

[The Question for adjourning the Debate was carried in the affirmative, 195 to 176.]

Monday, May 27.

Mr Secretary Coventry.] A Gentleman (Mr Mallet) has told you "that I should say "I had rather be guilty of forty murders, than that the War should not go on." (See vol. v. p. 9.) I said no such thing. I am of the same opinion still that I was of then, that it is the happiest thing, and most necessary for the nation, that the War should go on with France, that can be. I look upon it as the direct interest of our country; only this I did say, "I had rather be guilty of an hundred murders, than be guilty of not entering into the War." And I conceived myself guilty of all the murders of Alsace, rather than that I would not willingly enter into the War, without being fortified with Alliances. We cannot tell you whether it will be Peace, or War; but the French King has accepted a Cessation of Arms, but not such a one as Holland would have. The French would not accept of six weeks Cessation; but only from the middle of July to the beginning of August, and they are likely to agree. But hitherto, or whatever is done underhand, I know not. You have been told, "that the Duke of Villa Hermosa will not sever from Holland." The Envoy of Spain hath given in a Memorial this morning, which I have in my pocket, desiring us not to disband the troops of England, for his Master is utterly undone if we do. This is all we know; but the Allies have not imparted to the Public Ministers any resolution to accept of a Cessation. The King of Spain has accepted so many English forces; now whether you will have him part with them, when the honour and reputation of the nation will be exposed in doing it, I leave it to you.

Colonel Birch.] I am almost afraid to speak, when I see the House in such a silence. I am one of those that earnestly pressed, on Saturday, not to adjourn the Debate. Now what has fallen from Coventry makes a far greater necessity for the Question; now the matter is abundantly clearer. He told you of "a Memorial from the Spanish Envoy not to disband, &c." It would not else be sense, if the Confederates do not continue the War. The Spaniard has given up the Treaty to the Dutch, and the Dutch will do nothing without their Allies; and I do not hear of this cessation by the Emperor. If the Dutch agree to it, and Spain consents to it, I do not see how England is secured all this while by guarantee, from being attacked by the French, when they have made their Peace, and see us not provided for. I would have nothing to do with the Peace; but I would engage with the Emperor rather than sit down with Peace. Therefore now is a seasonable time, and consistent with our duty, to make an humble Address to the King (for this is a new Parliament by Prorogation) "to join with the Emperor against France." That we may do it like persons that did with reason before, and with the same reason still we pursue it. I intend only this, "That the King may be humbly addressed unto, to signify to us the state of affairs as to War, and whether he will enter into confederacy with the Emperor, &c. which if the King see not fit to do, to desire him to disband the Army;" knowing how foul a life it is, for any man to command a regiment in time of Peace. Had France been stopped in its greatness four years since, according to our advice, these bitter papers had never been pinned upon us. Therefore I move "for an Address, &c."

Mr Powle.] We have little time for this Session. Our own affairs, at this time of the year, will call us home, and 'tis like to be a short Session; but we are still in the dark. You are told of "a Cessation of Arms, desired by the Dutch, for ten weeks, last Christmas." But by all this, I know of neither War nor Peace; Cessation, or none. And I believe no man would desire an Army, and no War; no, not the Gentlemen that command. Therefore I would have the King's Speech read, that we may consider what to do.

Mr Secretary Williamson.] You are well put in mind to save time, and husband it. And I would to God we could bring this matter to some issue speedily! I'll speak to the most material point, what to do with these troops you have raised, to remove all jealousies; and Gentlemen are not clear to judge, because the matter is not certain. The difficulty of the choice is this; if we have no War, why should we keep up these men? If we have War, then to prosecute it. All the Confederates will still continue in a mind, not to make Peace without consent of their Allies. The terms of "six weeks Cessation, &c." are not accepted, yet another term, from the 21st of July, our style, to the 27th of July, for Cessation. There is by this, as between a state of War, but an assurance that the French King shall not act, &c. I speak this by way of information, as I have it by way of news; but it looks oddly that the King of France should voluntarily give a still stand to all his forces; and though none of the Allies accept it, Holland shall. It appears not yet that Holland has accepted it, but 'tis much to be suspected they will. It may be justly suspected that they have some ground from Holland for proposing it. I am persuaded, that both the affairs of Holland are such, and of France likewise, that they have but a narrow time to give a resolution in. The King of France is gone back to Paris, which looks as if matters were pretty sure. So that the disposing of the Army seems to be the matter of your Debate; and I shall never wish it to be kept one moment longer than you shall think fit. The disbanding it must cost some time. My meaning is only this, not to make any offer to you, the matter being very nice.

Mr Secretary Coventry.] This hour of Peace is more critically observed by England than any time of the War; for we knew in War, &c. what the French King's great Armies were upon, but now they have nothing to do. But I believe the French money does not boil so high in their coffers as to keep up all these men; therefore I would consider of it, &c.

Sir Thomas Lee.] I remember that, the winter before he began action, the French King was a long time disciplining his army, which makes me fear we shall be doing so. This day's Debate has stirred in my thoughts that something more lies in the way to be done. For my part, I am very unwilling to take any share of the Peace upon me. I remember that, when we met in January, when all these forces were raised, we spoke of reducing things to the Pyrenean Treaty, because that was such a Peace as might do Holland's business, but not England's. But this Peace looks to me, as if this great charge of raising an Army had been to get Holland a Peace, and not England. Those Gentlemen that sometimes give you what little light they please, have not told you of any Alliances made with the Emperor. If the King tells you that it is fit to disband the Army, I am willing to pay for it; but if it be to do Holland's business, &c. it looks to me plainly and really, that there's nobody in the Cessation but Holland. It seems to me to be truly as Williamson said, "a still stand." This is mighty news, and I am sorry to know that these things "stand still" till we proceed. I must needs return to this, that I know not what condition we are in, if it be Peace, still to make us barriers, and have no Alliance with the Emperor! And then when a Peace is made, what will the French King do with his army? And we must keep up our Army so long as he keeps his. Still you may have this advantage, that whilst this "still stand" must be, we may not have our Army at a "still stand," and eat us up.

Mr Secretary Williamson.] Upon occasion, several times, the King has endeavoured to enlarge that Treaty for the Confederates. Some Gentlemen seemed to ask, "Whether any other of the Allies were concerned in the Cessation, &c.?" I answer, that some of the Allies are forward, as Holland; and the King's ministers inform you, that Spain is expressly, and the Imperialists allowed the proposition for six weeks; so that the Emperor is in some degree of a mind with the States. The Lunenburg and Brandenburg ministers must hear farther from their masters, and therefore sat, as it were, silent. And this is the truth.

Sir John Ernly.] What to do with our men, is the Question. I have not seen such an appearance of brave men, and I would not discourage them. I would make some provision for their disbanding.

Lord Cavendish.] I hope, that, by applying to the King, we shall have a clear answer, whether Peace or War, which is more than we have had from the Gentlemen at the Bar; and till we have some answer of that kind, I know not what to say. Therefore I would make application to the King.

Mr Secretary Coventry.] The King has not yet had any Memorials of those things, nor any counsel upon it. I would willingly know from Lee, from what Ambassador, &c. he has had his knowledge?

Sir Thomas Lee.] I find that accidents do help us. We should not have known else that the Emperor was in the case.

Mr Vaughan.] I wonder that we should know nothing, after so many applications of foreign Ministers. I am loth to differ, &c. but I am for the Address. We stand still because we have no light. If we have War, 'tis a madness to disband the Army, and if we have none, as much to keep them. The Lord Chancellor's Speech tells you "of a Cessation, &c. like to be;" and "that they are towards Peace." But I cannot but take notice there is a fault somewhere. Spain will give Holland no supply of men and money. Why could not we supply Spain's place?

Mr Secretary Coventry.] If these things you ask were things the King could resolve, you might have some light; but they are in another man's power.

Lord Cavendish.] I will make it good, if required, that applications have been made to the King by the Confederates, to enter into alliance with them.

Sir Trevor Williams.] I am informed, from very good hands, that Count Wallestein gave in a Memorial, this morning, to desire the King to enter into the alliance with the Confederates.

Mr Secretary Williamson.] I know of no Memorial he has given in, nor any power he has to enter into any such thing; and the Emperor has agreed to the Cessation. And how his Ministers should be furnished with such a power here, I leave it to you to consider.

Sir Thomas Littleton.] As for the Memorial, I cannot make it good, but Coventry says, "That the Memorial for a Cessation of Arms was from the Spanish Ambassadors." There is no great weight or stress to be laid upon their (the Secretaries) words, for nothing is done, but by consent, amongst the Ambassadors of the Confederates.

Mr Swynfin.] To dispose of the Army is the matter before us. All information given us without doors, or any others, tend principally to that. I would ask any body here, whether we have actual War with France, or any thing like it? I have heard nothing of it these two months. Every day informs us of something still of Peace, and take but that one thing, that the Dutch have gone towards it and the Cessation, that they and the Emperor would agree to, for most part of this summer, can any man believe a probability of any thing of a War this summer? This Cessation is in the very heart of action; and no history does mention but that such a Cessation tends towards a final Peace. And I am afraid we shall find more difficulty to resolve to-morrow than to-day. Therefore I would consider what the King has offered you in his Speech. Plainly, 'tis not needful to ask the premises, when you are plainly told the conclusion. 'Tis not such a War as we advised, plainly. If it be a War, the King leaves it to you; which plainly convinces me, there is no want of this Army, to be employed. The King offers you to disband the Army; when that is, 'tis when there is an universal Peace, or towards it. I would close with the King in it, in taking into consideration the disbanding this whole Army. If you disband them against winter, it will be hard with the common soldiers; there is employment for them, now in summer; and I move that the Army, both horse and foot, may be forthwith disbanded.

Mr Powle.] I would not make more Addresses to the King, till things are in a better temper. I would not address in this, nor give any advice in this. We have already backed our advice with support, but they have forgotten the conditions upon which we promised our Supply, viz. "for an actual War with France." And now we are going into a Peace, and are called upon to support the Army. This makes me not fond of Addresses. I fear, that, notwithstanding all our Addresses for War, we shall have Peace, and those persons that intended a Peace, brought the Dutch out of the Confederacy. Our League offensive and defensive with the Dutch was to loosen them from all other Confederacy. And next we must make a show for War, and be asked such conditions from the Dutch, as we cannot perform, and that gave them opportunity to do this Cessation; and now, we must disband this Army, and sue for such a peace as, with all this expence we have been at, we might have had for asking. And do not these men that have brought us into this posture deserve the panegyric I have given them? The Chancellor, in his Speech, charges you so as malice itself could not have said more, viz. "That we were the occasion of the loss of Flanders." I would vindicate ourselves from this. I see the Army must be disbanded, but I would not have that laid upon us, and we have the reproach of that from so many gallant men. Therefore I move that we may presently address the King, &c.

Mr Secretary Coventry.] The King has offered, that, if the States will come in, he would carry it to the Emperor to join in a league to reduce things as far as the Pyrenean Treaty, &c. They made answer again, "That the King of Spain had broken with them his promises over and over again, and Spain had laid the fault on the Dutch, and the Dutch on Spain, and the Emperor on both, and they all upon the King and Parliament."

Mr Vaughan.] Many of us here are ill represented abroad. (I speak to Order.) And as long as persons can fully their King's robes with their own stains, they think all well enough. The King can do no wrong, and I would have the blame laid where it ought to be. The Parliament starts not miscarriages on the King, to reflect them there, but on his Ministers, where they ought to be.

Mr Secretary Coventry.] Call it what you will, have not the Treaties the King's sign, &c.? And they are ratified in Holland, &c. In all places, 'tis the King's act. His Ministers make no body of men, for 'tis the King's Treaty, and none of his Council's. If there be a fault, and if Holland suffers, it is upon the King, and not his Ministers. (One said privately, "That's doctrine abroad, not here.") For your dissatisfaction in matters of religion, your fears of Popery, and your disbanding the Army, as 'tis a jealousy to you it should be a standing Army, so it is to the Council. Sure you'll have an indifferent answer from the King, about the Army, untill he have a certainty, &c. Cromwell, though he had a standing army, had enough to do to keep you quiet.

Sir Thomas Lee.] When the Duke of Buckingham was disobliged in Spain, by the Conde Olivares, then the Spanish match was broken, and the Ministers were then of a mind with the Parliament; it may be so now.

Sir Thomas Clarges.] Faults there are amongst themselves, but the principal fault was, our advice was not followed. I would not have those things we are told of, mislead and blind us. I move, "That an Address be made to the King, that he would let us know the state of Peace, and War; that if there be no War, the Army may be disbanded."

The Speaker.] The Debate this day has been rather for information than resolution; but not in that form that I could collect a Question out of it. But it seems to tend to this: "That in consideration of the charge and burden of the Army to the nation, his Majesty would please to employ them in a War against the French King, and you will support him in it; if not, that the House will proceed to the disbanding of the Army, &c."

Sir Thomas Littleton.] You are told by the Privy Counsellors, they have not power sufficient shown them to give an answer to our meaning. I would have the word "immediate" added to the Question; that if the King think it not fit and convenient to be done, we may then go to other thoughts.

Mr Secretary Coventry.] As it is a Question whether the word shall be added, so it is a Question whereabout it shall be placed. The Cessation is actually, and the Spaniards are comprehended in it. And would you have the word "immediately" refer to that?

Colonel Birch.] Lord Cavendish has put the word in the right place, "that if this be so, to "immediately" ally with the Emperor."

Sir John Ernly.] I do not know whether it will be well taken by the King, that you put him upon it "immediately," or whether the thing can be done; therefore I would adjourn it till to-morrow.

Mr Secretary Coventry.] A Memorial was given in today, in Spanish, and is not yet translated. And will the House have the King to enter into a Treaty, without any obligation whatsoever on the other part?

Sir Thomas Lee.] You are not going to ask the King to go into a more immediate War, nor going into Debate about disbanding the Army; but you are going to ask the King to enter into an immediate Alliance. For War against the French King, if the King is fit, or not fit for it, you may resolve accordingly. If it be a Cessation, &c, you may send your men; but if you stay till the Cessation be ended, it will perhaps be too late. This is a desire, not an advice.

Mr Secretary Williamson.] If the King answers, "he can, or cannot," you have your desire. But suppose the King answers, "he cannot, till he knows from his Ministers beyond sea, give any answer," then your Forces must be kept up. Since Saturday the King has enquired into the Imperial Minister's power. When we have seen the Nimeguen Ministers go into the business of Cessation, I cannot see how the Ministers here can go upon such a contradictory foot, as to enter into a Negotiation of War. I see not what issue there can be of it.

Mr Garroway.] Now that it is a doubt whether the foreign Ministers have power, &c. what have they been for here, all this while, and done nothing? If they have no power, let us look to ourselves, without them. And pray let us put in the word "immediately," &c. And if they give no answer to you, you know what you have to do.

Sir John Trevor.] I think you are not ripe for the word "immediately." I will give my reason for it, and then I hope I shall be excused. I take it not to be a parliamentary word. It takes away freedom of Debate here, the essence of Parliament, and I would not take it away in another place. The Ministers tell you, "the King cannot do it immediately." Why should you force the King, since it cannot bring you that end you desire? And it being not parliamentary, I am against it.

Mr Powle.] This is the only word that can give you light into this matter. If the King does it not "immediately," I conclude the King cannot do it at all.

Sir Robert Sawyer.] I would not divide the House upon the word "immediately." It will imply as much as not to assist the King, if he does it not "immediately." 'Tis not tanti. Unanimity is worth a thousand "immediatelies."

Mr Williams.] "As soon as may be." That's the meaning of the word "immediately." Every thing must have the sense of the reasonable understanding of the word, with all the circumstances of the word; 'tis not to be understood eo instante, &c.

The Question was stated by the Speaker thus:

Resolved, That the House, in consideration of his Majesty's affairs, and the great charge and burden of the Army upon the nation, are humbly of opinion, that if his Majesty pleases to employ them in a War against the French King, this House will support him in it: If not, that this House will proceed immediately to disbanding the Army.

It was moved that the Debate might be adjourned to Thursday; to which

Sir William Coventry said,] I cannot sit still and hear it called "an irregular Motion." 'Tis not whether it be a good, or a bad Motion, regular, or irregular; but whether we are free to make Motions, or no. Otherwise we are wholly in the power of the Chair, to dispose of us as he pleases.

The Speaker.] This is a new Motion, and you go against a standing Order of the House.

Sir Thomas Clarges.] The Speaker ought not to debate and discuss things. It has been debated an hour; but to be confined as the Chair directs, is such an imposition and confinement as is not to be endured.

The Speaker.] I speak nothing but to point of Order, and what I say is Order, and must stand till the House orders otherwise. What is an extraordinary Motion is a new one, and is out of Order.

Sir Thomas Lee.] As the Chair has a right to declare Order, so it has a right to be convicted of a mistake. Both the hour and day must arise from a Motion.

The Speaker taking notice of Col. Birch's changing his seat to another side of the House,

Colonel Birch said,] I wonder the Speaker should take notice of my changing sides, when I never took notice of the Speaker's changing the Chair. (Alluding to Mr Seymour's pretending to be sick, whereas the Court, being displeased at him, put Sir Robert Sawyer in the Chair. (See Vol. V.)

The Question was carried for adjournment till to-morrow.

The Vote, as it was sent to the King by the Members of the Privy Council, was as follows:

Resolved, That this House, taking into consideration the state of his Majesty's affairs, and the great charge and burden that his Majesty and the nation lies under by the Army now in being, are humbly of opinion, that if his Majesty pleases to enter into a War against the French King, this House is, and always will be, ready to support and assist him in that War: But if otherwise, then they will proceed to the consideration of providing for [the speedy] disbanding of the Army.


  • 1. The most remarkable passages in the Lord Chancellor's Speech, (which, according to custom, tended to excuse the King's measures,) may be found in the Notes on June 7, when it was taken into consideration by the Commons.