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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Debates in the House of Commons, From the Year 1667 to the Year 1694.
Thursday, March 6, 1678 (fn. 1),
This Parliament began; when his Majesty delivered himself to both Houses, to the following effect:
"That he met them with the most earnest desire that man could have, to unite the minds of all his subjects both to him and to one another: That he resolved it should be their faults, if the success was not suitable to his desires: That he had already done many great things to that end; as the exclusion of the Popish Lords from their seat in Parliament, and the execution of several men, both for the Plot and Godfrey's murder: That it was apparent that he had not been idle in prosecuting the discovery of both: That he had disbanded as much of the Army as he could get Money to do: That he was ready to disband the rest as soon as they would reimburse him the Money they had cost, and would enable him to pay off the remainder: That above all, he had commanded his brother to absent himself (fn. 2), because he would not leave malicious men room to say, he had not removed all causes which could be pretended to influence him towards Popish Counsels: By which last great step, he proposed to discern whether the Protestant Religion and the Peace of the Kingdom were as truly intended by others as they were aimed at by him: "For if they be," continued his Majesty, "you will employ your time upon the great concerns of the Nation, and not be drawn to promote private animosities under pretence of the Public; your proceedings will be calm and peaceable, in order to those good ends I have recommended to you; and you will curb the motions of any unruly spirits, which would endeavour to disturb them." His Majesty then signified a hope, "that there were none such among them, since every man must see the fatal effects of such animosities at that time, both abroad and at home;" engaged not to give over his endeavours to find out what more of the Plot and murder he could; desired the assistance of both Houses in that work, said, "He had not been wanting to put all the present Laws in force against Papists, and declared his readiness to join in the making such farther Laws as might be necessary for securing the Kingdom against Popery; desired also their assistance in the Sup lies to disband the Army, as likewise to pay that part of the Flect, which had been provided for by Parliament, but till the 5th of the preceding June, and the debt (fn. 3) for stores, which was occasioned by the Poll-Bill's falling short of the sum which the Parliament gave credit for;" adding, "I must necessarily recommend to you likewise the discharging of those Anticipations which are upon my Revenue, and which I have commanded to be laid before you; and I hope I shall have just cause to desire such an increase of the Revenue itself, as might make it equal to my necessary expences; but by reason of those other Supplies, which are absolutely necessary at this time, I am contented to struggle with that difficulty a while longer, expecting, for the present, only to have those additional duties on the Customs and Excise to be prolonged to me; and that you will some other way make up the loss I sustain by the prohibition of French wines and brandy, which turns only to my prejudice, and to the great advantage of the French." His Majesty concluded with recommending to them, "That such an establishment ought to be made to the Navy as might render the Kingdom not only safe but formidable," and with signifying, "it was his earnest desire this should be an healing Parliament. That he would with his life desend both the Protestant Religion and the Laws; and that he did expect from them to be defended from the calumny, as well as danger, of those worst of men, who endeavoured to render him and his Government odious to his people." What more was thought necessary to be said was left to the Lord Chancellor.
After most of the Members had taken the Oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy before the Lords Commissioners, in the inward Court of Wards, they chose Mr Edward Seymour (fn. 4) Speaker, with little or no contest, and he was led to the Chair by Sir Thomas Lee and Mr Hampden. (He hung back, and acted his unwillingness very well.) He then spoke to the House to this effect:
"No satisfaction could be greater to me than the honour thus freely and unanimously to be called to the Chair. And as you have been so obliging to me, so I will be careful that your favour tend not to the prejudice of your service. My errors are so many arguments to excuse me from this employment, because I see so many persons judgments fall into such mistakes as lead them into errors, by too favourable an opinion of me. I have been master of much better health than now I enjoy, so that I cannot attend your service as I ought. These considerations, I hope, will induce you to proceed to another choice, that your service may be better performed. Dangers threaten Religion and the State by the horrid Plot. Do not gratify your enemies by stumbling at the threshold, in your choice of me. But since you are pleased to sequester your judgments, in this choice, give me leave to present my excuse to the King, and I hope the King will have no cause to disagree with you in any thing but your choice of me."