Debates in 1678: November (1st-5th)

Pages 128-149

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

Friday, November 1.

Sir John Knight reports, [from the Committee,] the several Letters, Declarations, and other Papers, found at Mr Coleman's house, [which were read by the Speaker to the House.]

Sir Robert Sawyer reports the Conference [agreed to by the Committee] upon the subject-matter of the Vote of yesterday, &c. to consider of some remedies for the preservation of the King's Person, Religion and Government against the Popish Conspiracy—"The Commons have thought fit [after examination of several persons and papers, and deliberate consideration had thereupon,] to offer to your Lordships this Vote, to which they desire your concurrence; [For the Vote at large, see p. 126.] The House of Commons, being very sensible of the imminent danger of the King and kingdom, do think it their duty to acquaint your Lordships therewith; and do pray your Lordships to take it into your consideration to prevent the dangers, &c. And they doubt not of your Lordships concurrence in such remedies as have or shall be by them proposed to your Lordships for the effecting of this great end."

Mr Sacheverell.] I object to this manner of delivering the Vote. It is necessary that there be a good correspondence between the two Houses, and that all true Protestants have union amongst themselves. By Popish contrivances they would throw a bone betwixt the two Houses. Though I like the words in the Paper well, I offer to you whether it would not be much better to show, instead of by way of "intreaty to think of remedies, &c." that "you do not doubt it, and you look upon it as undoubted that the Lords will do it." The Houses thereby will be joined by that Committee, and so come to your end the sooner.

Sir Thomas Meres.] These are not new difficulties, and this of a Committee of Lords and Commons has been talked of without doors; but these Committees seldom agree. In this Message I see no probability of disunion of the Lords and Commons. The Protestant Lords are well united, and I approve very well of Sacheverell's Motion—The Vote has been carefully penned—In this whole Conference there is no great matter to be objected; the words are very easy—Whosoever starts a controversy in this matter, I shall think him popishly inclined—Pray add these words, and let it go.

Mr Sollicitor Winnington.] The House are all of an opinion. I would have no difference with the Lords, because all our substance is at stake—This Vote has put another face upon things; which is very full.

Mr Waller.] The Vote is not ours only, but every body's opinion—To my great grief, I have seen the House divided several times in a day. Nothing but communis metus makes us all agree, and I doubt not but we shall now.

The Conference was thus agreed:

"The House of Commons is very sensible of the danger both the King and Kingdom are in, and they think it their duty to acquaint your Lordships therewith; and do pray your Lordships will be pleased to take it into your serious and speedy consideration, what remedies are fit and suitable to be applied for preserving the King's person, and preventing the alteration of Religion and Government: To which the Commons shall readily concur; as they doubt not of your Lordships concurrence to such remedies as have or shall be by them proposed to your Lordships for the effecting of this great end."

In the afternoon Sir Thomas Meres reports the Lords Answer, delivered at a Conference, as follows:

"The Lords have considered the Vote of the House of Commons, communicated to them at the Conference, and have most readily and unanimously concurred with them in it, Nemine contradicente; and their Lordships are very glad to see the zeal which the Commons have showed upon this occasion, and do fully concur with them, that the most speedy and serious consideration of both Houses are necessary, for the prevention of the imminent dangers: In order whereunto, their Lordships have resolved to sit de die in diem, forenoon and afternoon; and desire that the House of Commons would do so too; and when their Lordships shall have considered of fit and proper remedies for these dangers, they will be ready to communicate them to the House of Commons, and will also take in good part whatever shall be communicated to them by the House of Commons; and will suffer nothing to be wanting, on their parts, which may preserve a good correspondence between both Houses, which is absolutely necessary to the safety both of King and Kingdom."

[Resolved, That this House will sit de die in diem, forenoon and afternoon.

Ordered, That a Committee be appointed to prepare and draw up Articles of Impeachment against Lord Arundel of Wardour (fn. 1).]

Saturday, November 2.

Mr Secretary Williamson.] Seeing you are about to name persons in the Proclamation that you desire the King to issue out, why will you not name Conyers, as well as Symonds and Bedingfield, to render himself, &c.? He is In the front of them; the arch-conspirator. He had the impudence to write a letter to me, and therein are his inducements to go to Brussels, (I received it in another letter that was found,) and that he is ready to render himself, he has such a confidence in his innocence.

Mr Bennet.] I wonder that the Lords of the Council did not issue this Proclamation out sooner.

Sir Thomas Littleton.] We shall have occasion often to trouble the King with Messages, and that will lose a day if we deliver them in a body; therefore I would have this Message sent by the Members of the Privy Council.

[An Address was ordered to be presented to his Majesty, desiring a Proclamation for the apprehending Conyers, Symonds, Bedingfield, and Cattaway, &c.]

The Lords, at a Conference, acquainted the House of Commons, "That [this morning] they had received information, upon oath, [from the Surveyor of his Majesty's works,] that the roof of the House of Commons was so ruinous that any great storm endangers the fall of it; [and that the Lords had resolved to address his Majesty to give orders that the Court of Requests may be fitted up for this House to sit in, whilst the roof was repaired.]

Resolved, That an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, [representing the ruinous state of the roof, &c. and desiring] that he would appoint them some other convenient place to fit in.

Sir Thomas Littleton.] The whole mass of the House is corrupted, (which occasioned some mirth,) so that any storm may endanger it. One in the street told me of a design to blow it up, coolly (fn. 2), before any fears of the Plot, and when things went well.

On a Motion for the Speaker's going to Newgate, to examine Mr Coleman, &c.

Colonel Birch.] I think that such an application to Coleman will now miscarry, you having not yet perused all the Papers that may give you farther light into the Conspiracy.

Sir Adam Brown.] I believe Coleman is so divided between the fears of assassination from his friends, of his party, as well as from the hand of justice, that, without some assurance against poison, by removal of him to another place, as well as by assurance of his pardon, he will say little else than he has said already.

Mr Sollicitor Winnington.] When you have the whole Letters decyphered, you may then have the better light, and may finally do what you intend.

Sir Richard Temple.] This is the last effort you will make. After the Speaker goes, nobody, to be sure, will go after him. Therefore I would have you defer your going till Thursday morning.

Mr Sacheverell.] If Coleman hath not your intercession, he may possibly have it elsewhere; therefore I would give him some assurance of your intercession.

The Speaker.] All will avail you nothing, unless you dispose his mind to make confession of particular circumstances of the Plot; it will not else avail a tittle—and that he have no hopes of pardon but by your intercession.

[Ordered, That Mr Speaker be desired to repair to Newgate, and examine Mr Coleman.]

Ordered, That Mr Speaker do address to his Majesty from this House, and humbly desire his Majesty's pardon for Mr Coleman, in case he shall make such a full discovery of the Plot, now under examination, as shall be satisfactory; and [to desire his Majesty,] that in case he shall not make such a full and satisfactory discovery, that no pardon or reprieve may be granted to him.

Monday, November 4.

The Speaker informed the House, that he had, according to Order, been at Newgate, [accompanied with Sir Henry Capel, Mr Hampden, &c.] and had told Coleman as directed.

Coleman said, "he thought himself very unfortunate that the House had knowledge of enough to condemn him, and that he could say no more to save himself---He would be glad the House would put him upon any test, or oath, to what he could say more —He was full of the politics, which were the reasons he did what he did—He had no intention to subvert the Government, or to destroy the King's person, which he averred to be truth upon his damnation—As for the continuance of his Correspondence, (he did it indeed with the Duke's knowledge, at first) he carried it on without the knowledge of any particular person, but as to particular circumstances, not one man knew of it."

The Speaker then showed him a letter, supposed to be written when our Forces went into Flanders, wherein it was said, "that security was given for renewing their Correspondence; there were new circumstances and considerations, so there must be a new cypher:" To which Coleman said, "there were two keys, an old and a new; under the old there was a dash;" he did confess several parts of the cypher. He said, "for carrying on this service he had 4 or 5000l. last Session of Parliament, and a promise of 2500l. from the French Ambassador; and a promise of 2500l. more, could he keep off the War with France."

Mr Hampden.] He said, "he had received several sums, as 300l. and 300l. whilst the Parliament was sitting, and with it he intended to confirm some, and convert others of the Parliament-men.

Sir Henry Capel.] As to the assembly of the Jesuits, he confessed "there was an assembly, and no more than what was used to be upon chusing officers amongst them."

The Speaker.] He knew nothing of the Jesuits, &c. but by hearsay, "that there was a chapter of the Jesuits, which he was not acquainted with, but supposes it was in order to letting their land, and regulating their colleges."

Mr Secretary Coventry.] There was a summons of the Jesuits to come up, &c. and the thing to be kept secret, and they were not to appear much about town, &c. which implies something more than an ordinary chapter.

The Speaker.] Upon recollection, I shall acquaint you with one passage more. I asked Coleman, "when his wife was with him?" He said, "Not this week; when she was here, she sat by him, and the Keeper betwixt them, and his wife was with the King, for leave to make him another visit. The King said, she should not, unless he would confess what he knew, &c. She said, he could confess nothing more."

Lord Russel.] Moved to address the King, that the Duke of York might be removed (fn. 3) from the King's presence and councils.

Mr Booth.] Seconded the Motion.

Mr Secretary Coventry.] We ought to have no consideration of persons, when the King and the Government are concerned, though the thing ought to be done with all the decency that is possible. It might move some Gentlemen, methinks, as it has done me, that his Royal Highness has desired the King that he may remove from his councils; therefore I hope you will not press that farther. Consider the consequence; when one House addresses the King for one thing, and the Lords for another, and they neither are of the opinion of the King—An Address is a temporary declaration, and for the present, and I think this Address not good for the present—The King has sent his Proclamation for Catholics to go out of town; why will you talk of sending the Duke to them, when they are sent from him? You ought to use a decorum, for fear precedents may be made use of upon light occasions—The letters of Coleman's penning tell you of "providing a place for him in France, &c." Consider what it will be to send the Heir of the Crown to the King of France. I go along with Lord Russel, that the King is not safe, and we ought by all ways and means to secure the King's person. Your advice is good for the King's guards to be near him; but shall he have them every step he takes, to be weary of them? As long as it is the Catholics interest to plot the King's death, the Jesuits will make it their conscience. Make a Law to secure the King's person, and that will cease. This is not the first Proclamation that has been made to send Catholics out of town, and yet they stay; there must be a Law to make that Proclamation good; if you come to make it penal upon the magistrates in the country that connive, &c. that Law may do good. The number of Justices and Deputy Lieutenants are of good fortunes. (Several cried out, "No; a great many of them are turned out.") If there be a Law to make them finable for not doing their duty, Gentlemen will think it a greater disgrace to be finable upon Record, than to be turned out of Commission. I would make a Law to secure the person of the King for the present, that all the King's successors may see they cannot have establishment in Popery. When you have thus proceeded, they will see that no successor can be of another religion—This will do what you intend, the Duke having made the Motion you have heard of in the Lords House.

Mr Bennet.] I like that Law Coventry mentions; but till such a Law be made, I am for the Motion of removing the Duke, &c. because, before that Law may pass, the influence of the Duke, being near the King, may hinder it. Do you think then that all the correspondence Coleman had was not by the influence of greater persons? Therefore I move, "That the Duke of York may be removed from the King's presence and councils."

Mr Secretary Williamson.] What Lord Russel and Bennet have moved, has given me reasons why those Laws are not likely to pass. I know that nothing can lie in the balance with the Government, Religion, and the King's person; yet this must bear proportionable respect to him who has exposed his person for the honour of the nation. I confess, if nothing but removing the Duke would do, were he yet nearer the King, were he his son, I should be for it—His mixing in the King's affairs with the King may give presumption of jealousy and suspcion. The Duke, as we have been told, has prevented our asking his being removed out of the King's Councils. The other part is, Whether his personal absence will be the cure, and the only cure of our fears. It is impossible to put them any where, but there may be a communication by letters of secondary hands. To have no influence where there is tenderness of nature and affection, betwixt the two brothers!—This will not remedy the thing—I think nothing will provoke the Duke to a resentment in his own person; but this is a cutting of him from the stock—This Plot, when represented to posterity!—Such a villainous design to precipitate and hasten nature, to bring the Duke to the Crown, by murdering the King!—This is a villainy never to be forgotten— There is a time in nature when the Duke has his time to be upon the Throne, (pray God make it safe!)—The fears are these; if possible, by any kind of foresight, that when that comes, the Heir of the Crown may not disturb Religion, or the Government; the other, to keep off violent hands that would hasten the King's death— Now it is apprehended that the removal of the Duke leaves you at full ease and security, that you may act for the safety of Religion and the King's person. But how far is this from helping you! I see it rather endangers a desperation of that party. Though the whole party be in such a despair, they would seek Hell to bring about their designs—Where should the Duke be removed? Is not the King in less danger by having the Duke in his eye, when he sees all company and addresses that are made to him? The Duke would not be suffered to attempt the least hair of the King's head. No countries are to be trusted with the Duke, in this case, and it cuts off no possibility of a degree of the Duke's influence upon the King, if at a distance, as when he is in the same room. I have sat here, with trouble for Popery, several Sessions, but I never suspected this horrible Plot, &c. and what was done at every meeting, principally aims at it— And I agree with Lord Russel's Motion. Humanly what you can do may come too late—But these will be violences that are needless, and let every man lay his hand upon his heart, and God direct us all!

Colonel Birch.] I agree, that if this Session will not establish the Protestant Religion, and secure the King's Person, it will never be to any purpose to do more. Williamson tells us, "that, by reason of the rising Sun, Popery comes on;" and, it may be, you may have a majority here; and, by what I heard from the two Secretaries, I think what is moved is absolutely necessary. Observe Coleman's papers, and let every man answer to God, and his own conscience, whether this Motion is not necessary. If I was one near his Highness, I honour him so much, that I would advise him to retire, &c. till the nation was secured in their fears—As for the Laws that Secretary Coventry moved, we may all stand still, and have our throats cut whilst they are making; but till Laws are made to begin in the next King's time, that, whoever he is, he may not be able to destroy the Protestant Religion, nor our Property, we can never be safe. Now whether are those Laws easier or quicker to be done, the Duke at the King's Councils, or absent? I would advise the Duke, were I near him, to absent himself for some time, that the nation might not say, he hinders the making these Laws.

Mr Sollicitor Winnington.] I think we are in as great difficulty in this Debate, as ever we or our forefathers were. I stand obliged to the Duke above all persons, though I have declared myself for the Protestant Religion; so that I am to do two things, not to show ingratitude to the Duke, and yet to show myself for the Protestant Religion. I find that all Gentlemen that speak in this case are of one mind for the Protestant Religion; not one division, nor opposition: We differ in mediums, but are unanimous in the end. But I confess the thing you are upon has not that import to do you good, as it has to do you prejudice—As to what has been moved to-day by the Honourable Lord Russel; I believe, had he known what he did of the Duke in the Lords House, the Motion had not been made; but seeing it is for the Protestant Religion, I would not have it receive a baffle. After the happy conjunction with the Lords in all things relating to the Plot, the House then began to think of the obstructions the Duke might make to their proceedings. I will not say that the Duke is a Papist, but I believe it. The Lords thought, if the Duke was removed things would go on—The Duke has complied and satisfied the Lords —I say, such an Address as this may occasion a dissimulation, I mean a dissention, between the two Houses, and it may divide us; which if so, I look upon the Protestant Religion to be gone—You make an Address different from the sense of the Lords House: The Commons would, by this Address, banish the Duke, one of the House of Peers. It is a judgment in Law against him, and shall the King's brother be in a worse capacity than the meanest subject? Is it imaginable that the King will do it, when he has the authority of the House of Lords to back him? And would you have the King put so severe a punishment on the Duke as the Law allows not? You cannot expect that the King will comply with it— The position is certainly true, if there be no Law to secure you provisionally—If that be the thing we all aim at, to put it out of the power of the Papists to hurt Religion hereafter: But if it falls out that such a Bill be stopped, then it is matter of fact to guide my conscience to make this Address, &c. Days and weeks may tell you, if that Bill be obstructed, though you know not by whom, yet you may justly say the Duke obstructs it, and then you may proceed with your Address, and I shall change my mind.

Sir Thomas Meres.] This last discourse weighs with me; the Sollicitor and I shall find these Bills, &c. obstructed, and then we shall be both of a mind, that the King may be addressed to, to remove the Duke, &c. Have not all our Bills hitherto been obstructed? It will be objected (he tells you) "That to take a Lord from Parliament will be a hard thing;" but if you do not a great and difficult thing, you will never save yourselves—As to indifference, methinks if there be a God and Salvation among us— the Papists take Scripture from us; they take sense from us in Transubstantiation, and Communion in both kinds; Popery sets up another government, Imperium in Imperio; it is against the interest of the nation; and as it is, it carries away our coin out of the Kingdom, and if it be once settled, much more. If the thing be tolerable, let us hear why; if intolerable, pray let us do this. We changed Religion pretty well in Hen. VIII's time, and Edw. VI. and in Queen Mary's time all the Clergy turned Popish except about an hundred and sixty. About forty years ago the Church was in its height; and then we had changes in the late times of rebellion, and now we have a Church of England again if we can keep it—We are a mutable people, and the Papists number is great—We see an Army of 20,000 men listed in the Plot; I am really afraid then, when such a day comes, that two-thirds of the nation will stand neuters, and so but one third part will engage for the Protestant Religion. They will save their stakes—After all, I end where I began. Let any Gentleman show me that there will be no sollicitations to hinder the passing of our Laws, and that there will not be a Proviso put in, that the execution of it will not be worth a halfpenny; let any man show me, that unless you do something that is substantial and difficult, you do nothing —We know not what the Lords have done as to the Duke, and we cannot take notice of it—We are satisfied, both Lords and Commons, that there is a Plot; let us do our part. If this be not done, farewell any attempts to preserve the Protestant Religion!

Mr Finch.] I fear the unanimity of the Lords with us will be interrupted by this Address, and I cannot be for the removal of the Duke. Meres has told you the great truth and interest of the Protestant Religion; but those topics were useless, for we all believe it, we only come to support what we know—I hope and expect Gentlemen will not think my opinion is for partiality, and my reasons are, that nothing is to be done to impeach the succession; and if the Motion tends to that end, every man will be afraid of those means. One unkindness begets another, and if we think this Prince not fit to be near the throne, &c. this being so fatal a consequence, let us avoid this first step—It is pretended, "that the removal of the Duke, &c. is the only means to facilitate the passing the Laws we shall make," but if by his presence he can obstruct those Laws, how much more can he obstruct the Address! Meres says, "that not one good Law has passed, &c. by the Duke's influence upon the King;" but I will tell you one; the Test upon all that bear Office, &c. I believe the designs of the Papists, &c. and I believe they leave nothing unattempted to destroy the Protestant Religion—If the Duke's interest be so great, why should you press the thing you may reasonably think you cannot accomplish? Therefore I move to lay aside the Motion—If we can prevail with the King to pass those Laws for securing Religion, we shall be much more able to remove the Duke then, than now; but I hope that one grace from the King will never put us upon extorting more. One reason more alleged is, "the great danger of some immediate accident upon the King." There were more attempts upon Queen Elizabeth's person, when Mary Queen of Scots was in prison, than in all Queen Elizabeth's time besides. Mendoza, the Spanish Ambassador, set up Sir Anthony Babington, and when the Queen of Scots was taken away, all the world was against her at once—The Papists were in desperation, and it was with them "Now or never." I fear therefore that this may hasten some ill accident which may befall the King. If the Duke be a Papist, it is the fault of our predecessors in 1641, who banished him abroad, where he got that Religion. There was a Motion made at the Parliament at Oxford, that the Duke might not go to war again, and it was then thought a prejudice to his honour, and passed not—Some other reasons have been spoken of, as "that Coleman's Letters, &c. of Correspondence, were not his alone, but influenced from some higher power." If such persons as Coleman were not about the Duke, you had never had these suspicions; therefore I am for a Law that no Papist should so much as speak to the Duke, nor be near him.

Mr Laurence Hyde.] It is objected, "that the Laws now passing may not pass, by the Duke's influence." I think I have ground to say, that any Laws now in agitation, or others, that may be prepared for the security of the Protestant Religion, will not be opposed by the Duke. And I think that Gentlemen may have so much patience as to see whether they will be, or not—There has been a presumption that the Duke has been a friend to French Counsels. In Coleman's Letters, for some time, the Duke has been thought no friend to them. The two sons of the martyred King, the only surviving sons, now to be torn from one another by such a Parliament as this! I speak for the King, and not for the Duke. Now I move against the Address.

Sir Thomas Meres.] Secretary Coventry told you, "the Duke would not come to the Privy Council, the Parliament, nor the Admiralty." If there be a Law that Papists shall not sit in the Lords House, then there is no need of that promise.

Mr Secretary Coventry.] The Duke sits not in the Admiralty, as Admiral of England, but of Scotland, Ireland, and the Plantations.

Lord Cavendish.] I fully agree that we provide for the safety of the King, Religion, and our Liberties, by good Laws. But it sticks with me. I know not whether those Laws will pass, till the obstruction be removed. The same reason I had before, that the Duke is the obstruction, &c. will make me think so still, and take away all encouragements from our enemies, and therefore I am against the continuance of a standing Army; for it is easier with it, than without it, to change the Government. I have an extreme veneration for the Duke, for I think the Duke had not the least hand in the Plot. I think his loyalty to his brother is without example; but his being next of Blood to the succession of the Crown, and what encouragement that may give the Papists, to take away the King. I have heard the word "decorum" mentioned in this Debate. I have heard no crime mentioned against the Duke: What is before us, is, in prudence, what we shall do in this case. If I had the honour to be near the Duke, I would advise him to withdraw—It has been said, "that the Duke has declared, in the Lords House, that he will do it." But we cannot take notice of what is said in the Lords House. Since we have been making Laws against Popery, the Duke has still been in the Councils. It is said, "the Duke may still influence the King by letters;" but surely not so easily as by his presence. I think we cannot answer our duty to the King, nor our country, if we do not address, "That the Duke may be removed from the King." As to the place and distance, I leave it to those that can better propose.

Sir Robert Carr.] I would take time to consider this great matter. The great argument for removal of the Duke, is your apprehension that he may prevent Laws against Popery in the Lords House, and your Bill you have lately sent up, which Bill shows you cannot remove the Duke but by Law, and I fear this will weaken your Address, &c. Gentlemen, therefore, I am sure, will be much better satisfied to do it by Law, which we are about, than by Address.

Sir Robert Sawyer.] For the Duke to depart from that Religion his Father signed with his blood!—I can assign no other cause for this dismal attempt that has been discovered, but the hopes the Papists have of the Duke's Religion—The preservation of the present Prince, and the establishment of the Government, is the great consideration; and I never knew it denied by the supreme Council; but certainly we are to deal with a great Prince, and therefore we are to make as wise steps, as may be, in it. The effect of my Motion is this; the encouragement the Recusants have taken, from his Royal Highness's change of his Religion, has been the cause of these hellish attempts against the King, the Government, and Religion. When that is destroyed, you will see another kind of Government. I would therefore have an Address to the King, to acquaint him, "That, his Royal Brother being a Papist, is the cause of all this confidence in the Papists, and that the King be humbly desired to prevail with his Brother to declare, in open Parliament, whether he be a Papist, or not." If the Duke be a real Protestant, he will declare himself by the Bill you have sent up, for preventing Popish Lords to sit in that House, and for those Laws you shall send up for suppression of Popery—The great thing we are to do, is to secure the King, Religion, and Government.

Sir Nicholas Carew.] I fully concur with Sawyer, at the beginning of his speech, "That the opinion the Papists have of his Royal Highness coming to the Crown, is the cause of all their insolencies;" and that is the reason why I would have this Address, &c. made now, that his Royal Highness, by his presence, may not hinder the Laws against Popery, you are about now; for hereafter, all the Laws you can make will be to little purpose. When the Papists see they have such advocates for them, what will they not attempt? Sink under this Address, and farewell all; the safety of the King's Person, our Religion, and Government!

Mr Waller.] I think Gentlemen speak their hearts in this Debate. I think him a Papist in his heart, that gives an Aye, or a No, in this matter, that has not the thoughts in him of preservation of the King's Person, Religion, and Government. The Duke not only was abroad in the Protestant Religion, but his Father was of it too. I have studied the Protestant Religion, and I believe that Christ founded the Religion we profess, at his first coming into the world; and I hope Christ will find it here at his second coming—Coleman, in one of his letters about calling a new Parliament, says, "then the Law will be on our side, &c." Are we not all sworn to the King's Supremacy? In Queen Mary's time, the people were not sworn to the King's Supremacy; and it was then as much the fault of the people as of the Queen. I hope there is no such inclination in the people to Popery now, as she found then. The King giving away his Supremacy, is a kind of deposing himself. (I will not dispute with the Lawyers about the King's power in deposing himself.) [The Emperor] Charles the fifth did it. To think the King can bring in a Supreme above himself, though the Crown is Patrimonium, yet there is no such power of alienation in the King. It cannot be that our Supremacy can be given to another. The King has no such patrimonial right; he cannot buy, and sell, and give away his subjects; but God forbid that we should have a hand in deposing the King! and he cannot depose himself. But to the thing in hand, "Whether an Address shall be made to the King, to remove the Duke from his Councils." There is a great line of love between the two Brothers; if the Duke go away, love will go afar off. The Queen of Scots was near of kin to Queen Elizabeth; she was not suffered to come to Court, and it had been impossible that so many Plots could have been against the Queen, if she had been at Court. Amongst the Romans, Galba, Vitellius, and Vespasian came in from abroad—I would let this Debate alone—There may be more danger in removing the Duke, than in letting him alone—Some of the Brothers of France went away in discontent to Brussels, and they said then, "that Brussels did breed the children of France;" but they were all glad in France when they came back again. Absalom asked his father leave to go out of his Court, and you know what followed. At Court the Duke will keep none but good company, abroad Catholics—I would pause upon this Motion. I am not satisfied whether to give my Aye, or No, to this Question, yet; therefore I move that you would consider of it.

Mr Harwood.] He that moves to defer this Question one minute longer, I believe him to be an enemy to his King and Country.

The Speaker interrupted him, and said,] Such conclusions as these are uncharitable, and wonderfully unparliamentary.

Mr Harwood goes on.] The weight of the thing has so transported me, that I hope Gentlemen, not of my opinion, will pardon me. I respect the Duke as Duke; but as he is a Papist, let every man lay his hand upon his heart, whether his being a Papist has not given encouragement to the Plot, &c. The Duke has houses in the country, and loves fox-hunting; I would have him retire to some of them, to be out of the influence of these damned Jesuits. I am his friend, and out of good intention I would have him out of occasion of doing ill; and pray put the Question for the Address, &c.

Sir Thomas Clarges.] I take this to be the greatest Debate that ever was in Parliament. Here is on the one side our Religion and Liberties concerned; and the Duke on the other. But I believe this had never been, if the Duke had not been a Papist. He is a good, wise, and virtuous Prince, but that which grieves me is, that his goodness is made use of by the Papists, &c. When that unhappy stroke is struck, that the Papists intended, he is King; and are not we all concerned to prevent that stroke? We see that the Protestant Religion has been attempted for some years. Address upon Address has been made against Popery and the French interest; and the Duke had engaged for the French interest against Holland and the Netherlands; one the bulwark of our Religion, the other of our safety from the French greatness; and it is but eight months ago (as appears by Coleman's letters) that the Duke's eyes have been opened; but the Duke's locks are cut by the Papists. One great Plot has taken; the Duke is turned Papist. The King is King, and the Duke is but a subject, and I would have the Duke stay his time to come to the Succession. Act after Act has been made to secure Religion, and this Act, now sent up to the Lords, the Duke may hinder—The two Brothers have parted formerly; one was at York, the other at Salisbury, in the plague-time; and, God be thanked! they came together again—I am told of five or six and thirty Papists, the other night, in the Withdrawing-room; and this still will be more if not prevented—I see several of the House that eat the King's bread, that are his servants; I hope they will be for the preservation of the King's Person; for so long as the Duke is about the Court, Papists will flock thither; therefore pray put the Question for the Address.

Sir John Ernly.] As Coleman's Papers tell you of the Duke's complyance to dissolve the Parliament, so they tell you of money that has been given for that purpose. I would know to whom this money has been paid? I hope all Coleman's Papers are not evidence, though Mr Oates is, who cleared the Duke in the matter of the Plot. As to liberty of Conscience, you know who are for that. He that is above water will hold him down that is under. The Duke's hand and seal have been counterfeited. Consider what you do. If you turn the Duke thus away, you put him at the head of 20,000 men, and then it will be much more in his power to do you hurt—The Address may be granted, or refused; if granted, yet there may be correspondence betwixt such relations; and, if not granted, possibly you will be discontented. Therefore you know not what this day's Debate may produce in the Duke, by a voluntary removal of himself from the King. Therefore I would consider longer of the matter.

Sir George Downing.] You begin with punishment, before examination. Do not do that to the King's Brother, which you would not have done to another. We once named a great person here, to be removed from the King, &c. and no crime was assigned against him— Another time there was a crime named, and no person, and you had effect accordingly in those Addresses—These wicked men in the Plot will expose themselves to your justice, and you may meet with them; but, at this time, lay by this Address, that will touch the Lords too near.

Serjeant Maynard.] Two things are propounded; sequestration of the Duke from the King's Council, and sequestration of him from the King's Person. He has of himself abstained from being Admiral of England, and exercises that office as to the Plantations only; and he has promised in the Lords House to absent himself from the King's Councils. I should be loth, after such a concurrence amongst ourselves and the Lords, to give any occasion of discord betwixt the Lords and us. Suppose you vote to sequester the Duke from the King's Person; this Address, as it is no Law, works nothing. You make no confinement of him by sequestration from the King's Person. But I would not lose all this Debate. The Duke has promised he will retire, &c. He may dispense with that promise; the Vote of sequestration, &c. may do you hurt—The Address, &c. is not punishment for a crime—The Address is a prudent caution, and, I fear, if made, and not granted, this will discourage people abroad in this way of proceeding. I think verily, the great encouragement of the Papists is from the Duke. The Council of Lateran, and four or five Councils agree, "that killing of Kings that are heretics, is meritorious." I will not go far into that matter; but in case there should be a division between the two Houses upon this, it will put a great discouragement upon people as to the prosecution of the Plot, and in their fears of Popery. But as for sequestration from the Council, the Duke has done that; and for the other, of sequestering him from the King's presence, I would put that off to Thursday. In the civil wars of France there was the Dutchess of Montpensier and the Queen-mother; two sorts of Papists; one bigots, whom nothing would serve but killing the King. The Queen-mother joined with the Duke of Guise only as to the massacre of the Protestants, but not as to the killing of the King. The Queenmother joined in that of assassinating the Protestants, but never apprehended that killing the King would be the end —I leave you to make the observation from it.

Sir Philip Warwick.] I believe Popery is a confederacy against God, and against the kingdom. It has been mentioned again and again. Then, when Appeals shall be made to Rome, in ecclesiastical matters, from England, the King of England will be no more King—It is so plain a way for this House to keep the power of your Religion so in your power, that the Duke shall see the tenderness you have to him, by the principles of your Religion, in your proceedings and manner of dealing, that, in some measure, this may divert him from his—You have a double aspect in this—I believe, if this horrid Plot had come to effect, it might have converted the Duke to our Religion. He is our King in presumptive succession, and let us use him like such a one—I hope our opinion in it will be for the honour of the House.

Sir Henry Capel.] The Duke has made the advance to the Parliament by his behaviour, in informing the Lords he will retire, &c. Let us not cast him out of our arms. It is entirely necessary that we be unanimous. If we once divide, we give him all the advantage against us imaginable. I have great respect for his person. His father, with my father (fn. 4), suffered in the Rebellion; but if I cannot separate my interest from his person, I must divide from him. We all agree as to making such Laws, that, should the Duke be King, it might not be in his power to prejudice the Protestant Religion. I move, therefore, not to lose the fruit of this Debate; and as you have been told, he has removed himself from the King's Councils, you may agree to that; and as for removing him from the King's Person, adjourn that Debate to another time.

Colonel Titus.] There are ways to make things look tragical. We are told of "tearing the Duke from the King;" but that is not the Question, but "Whether the Duke shall withdraw from the King's Person, for some time, till some Laws are passed, which we fear he may obstruct." If I suspected that my father would set my house on fire, I would take the brand out of his hand, but I would not cut his throat; and if he, that is at the helm, would run the ship upon a rock, I would take him from it. But he that thinks there is no reason for this Debate, apprehends no danger of Popery. I would not have the House divided upon this Question. I see no extraordinary reason to pass the Question now. You may see, in a few days, what effect the King's Proclamation will have, for banishing Papists out of town, and you may adjourn the Debate for some time.

Mr Sacheverell.] In the first place I lay it down, that it was no way in my thoughts to go upon this Motion now; but seeing it is started, I will say something to it. If this be so tender a matter, I wonder, now the safety of the kingdom is in danger, we should put it off for two or three days—I have read a little in the Law, but I would have the Gentlemen of the Long Robe tell me, whether any degree or quality whatsoever, of any subject, can patronize any correspondence with the King's enemies? or whether the King and the Parliament may not dispose of the Succession of the Crown? and whether it be not Præmunire to say the contrary? Let them resolve this question, Whether there has not been a malemanagement? If not in the King's ministers for some years past, let them name the persons who have had the influence over affairs. But as to the point of the Address, I am not satisfied whether it be our interest; but if it be, I will go higher and higher. All I hear to-day, has been arguments of kindred and relation; but if any man can say, that neither the Duke, nor any of the Ministers, have hindered all our Proceedings against Popery, &c. and tell us who it is, I shall be satisfied without making this Address.

Mr Pepys, of Cambridge.] You have Religion, the Government, and the Life of the King, on the one side; and a Compliment to a great Person on the other. I should be loth to be in the black catalogue of them that are fearful they shall not enter into the kingdom of Heaven. (Then he tells the fable of the mice putting the bell about the cat's neck.) Wherefore is a prize put into the hands of fools, when they know not how to use it?— Will you have it said abroad, that the House of Commons is afraid to put this Address to the Question, which if you carry not, you will hazard our Prince's life and safety, and all you have? Therefore put the Question, as it was first moved this morning; and I doubt not but all good Protestants, and good Christians, will be for it.

The Debate was adjourned to Friday.

[Nov. 5. Gunpowder-treason. The Dean of Canterbury, Dr Tillotson, preached before the House.]


  • 1. It appears by the Journal, that a Committee was this day appointed to enquire into the causes of some noises of knocking that had been heard in the night, in the Old Palace Yard, or thereabout, and to search the houses near the two Houses of Parliament, and in the Old Palace Yard; and to examine and return in the names of such Papists as inhabit near the two Houses of Parliament.
  • 2. See p. 115. Note.
  • 3. In the Journal "withdraw himself."
  • 4. Lord Capel.