Grey's Debates of the House of Commons: Volume 7. Originally published by T. Becket and P. A. De Hondt, London, 1769.
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Sunday, May 11.
The business of this day was, to take into consideration that part of the King's and the Lord Chancellor's Speech which relates to "the best ways and means of preserving the life of his Sacred Majesty, and of securing the Protestant Religion, both in the Reign of his Majesty and his Successors."
The first was from one Mr Mekennis, who pretended himself to be a Northamptonshire man, his Parents of that County, both dead, and himself lives in Northamptonshire. He was habited soldier-like. The Speaker asked him, "What he had to say in relation to any discovery of the Plot, or against the Lords in the Tower?" He then spoke to this effect: (As near as the Compiler could collect, being remote from him, and be spoke not very loud.)
"I have nothing to say relating to the Plot, nor the Lords in the Tower; but I have something to say of importance, as I intimated in my Letter to the Speaker; and I shall be very short in what I have to say. God alone knows how well I wish my Country and Mankind, and for that I am come hither. I come not in my own name, but in the name of Almighty God. It has pleased God to raise up a great Prophet in Germany, who has foretold of the great work of God to be performed in this age, and at this time. God has sent to destroy the House of Austria, and all their accomplices in idolatry. The Prophet was sent to those Princes, (and they are but men) to destroy idolatry. They would not go on in that work, so they have been slain and destroyed without mercy, and their Countries overcome—The next thing I come to is, how well the Papists, all the world over, have deserved this Judgment, who have behaved themselves rather like wild beasts, than men"—Here the Speaker interrupted his impertinence, and suffered him not to go on, and he was taken away by the Serjeant, who was directed to let him go for a mad-man.
Mr Blunt, a Member, who brought the Letter from the said Mekennis, and who brought him to the House in his coach, desired the House "not to impute this impertinent interruption to him, protesting he knew nothing of the man, nor what he had to say; but when a Letter to the Speaker was delivered him, with a sober introduction, of "matters of import, &c."he thought it his duty to deliver it to the Speaker, especially when the person he had it from was ready to appear at the Bar (fn. 1)."
This interruption thus past over, another came from the Lords to desire a Conference, "in matters relating to the Tryals of the Lords in the Tower;" which could not parliamentarily be denied, though it was foreseen, that this Conference would produce a free Conference, and so consume most part of the day thereby; which, in the end, it did; so that about three of the clock in the afternoon, (all things for that time with the Lords being over) with great impatience the business of the day was called for, which the better to introduce, a Report was called for, from Mr Treby, relating to the Duke of York's correspondences with the Pope, Cardinals, and other Romish Ministers, at Rome; particularly with one Father Gifford, and Father Sheldon, which mostly consisted of "his zeal for the promotion of the Catholic Religion, and carrying on the great work." But some Letters seeming to doubt of the Duke's resolution a faire le coup, (to give the stroke, or do the deed,) which, by the coherence and subsequence, could have no other meaning but upon the King, and doubting that his good nature would be prevalent upon him, the Earl of Peterborough was to be made use of, with such arguments as should be prepared to induce the Duke to it. The Letters were generally full of desperate touches relating to the King's Person, the Ministers of State, who, and who not, for the design; of dissolving the last Parliament, calling a new one, and a model of corrupting Members.
Mr Bennet.] Mr Speaker, we have trifled away too much time to-day; pray, let us improve the rest, and do our duty. Seeing that the Duke of York is gone out of the Kingdom, that he may not bring Popery with him to be established at his return, I will make you a short Motion, viz. "To make an Address to the King, that the Duke may not come over again, without the consent of the King and the two Houses of Parliament; and that we will stick to the King with our lives and fortunes against him, or any of the Popish party that shall attack us."
Sir John Knight.] It is impossible that the Protestant Religion should be preserved under a Popish Prince; as inconsistent as light and darkness. The King's Coronation Oath is to maintain Religion, and that is the Protestant Religion. The King's subjects are bound by Law to take the Oaths of Supremacy and Allegiance— Rex nunquam moritur. We are under all these obligations to a succeeding King, and how can this be reconciled to the King's gracious offers in his Speech? How impatient are the Papists till the King be out of the way, that the Protestants may be destroyed! And then the Papists are the only true subjects, as Coleman's Letters tell you. How is it possible that the Kingdom should be satisfied under these oppositions so contrary? O Lord, what will the people say to us, if we do nothing? If the Pope gets his great toe into England, all his body will follow. Something must be done, but I dare not venture to propose what.
Mr Dubois.] The King offers us many gracious things in his Speech, &c. and somewhat more, viz. "To secure the Protestant Religion." The King's life will be so much the more in danger, by how much the Papists think their case desperate. There is no way to defeat their execution of this Plot, like taking away their hopes; and unless, by some Vote, you determine the Succession, you will never put the Papists out of hopes of accomplishing their design.
Sir Nicholas Carew.] I should be glad to be shown any bonds and fetters, that a Prince, when he comes to the Crown, shall not easily break. I think you are well moved to address the King, "That the Duke may not return into England, without the consent of King, Lords, and Commons."
Mr Williams.] I am against proposing to the King to do what he cannot without Law. That may recoil upon us on other occasions. In what the King can legally do, I will go along with you; but this Address moved for, does plainly import banishing the Duke. Any other subject may be banished by such an Address against him. Go on therefore legally and regularly, and I will go with you, to banish the Duke by way of a Bill.
Sir Geo. Hungerford.] I know no Law that can bind in this case, unless we can tell who shall be Prince of Wales. If you do any thing, you must appoint a person to succeed the King; and I can never think that the Protestant Princes will join with us in defence of our Religion, unless a third person be named to succeed to the Crown— Then the German and French Protestants will join with you, and there is a million of them in France. We ought to do something materially to secure our Religion, and it must be, either that the King may have an Heir to succeed him, or a third person must be named. As long as the Duke is Heir to the Crown, the Kingdom is unsafe; and I believe that the Queen will never be capable of children; for when she came into England she had something given her, to be always a red-lettered woman. But something must be done.
Sir Robert Markham.] Surely there is something the Duke of York affects, more than the Crown of England; and you can do nothing more favourable to him, than by a Bill, "That he should not return into England, without the consent of the King, Lords, and Commons.
Sir Thomas Player.] I join with the Motion that has been made for a Bill for an eternal Banishment of the Duke of York out of England; but yet, that it might go farther, I would pursue the great end of our sitting today, "To consult the safety of the King's Person." This Bill will not set the King safe; therefore, besides the Duke's Banishment, I desire, "That he may be excluded from the Crown of England, and all Papists whatsoever (as I am sure they may be) by Law." It is most visible, by the Report of the Letters you have heard today, what danger the King's Person is exposed to, and from whence all the dangers the King has been in (from which he has miraculously escaped) do come; which is, from the prospect of a Popish Successor. I will give you an instance in the Crown of Sweden: They could find no better way to preserve their Religion from the attempts of Papists there. When Queen Christina of Sweden changed her Religion, she parted with her Crown. Though she would have kept both, yet she surrendered her Crown, because else they would have taken it from her by Law. And you may make your Laws strong enough to exclude a Popish Successor. One thing I cannot understand yet; why, by Letters from all parts of the World, persons are invited to make haste out of England, "for before the latter end of June last great things would be done." Till the Tryal of the Lords, nothing will be substantially secure to the King and Kingdom. The offers made to you by the King, in the Chancellor's Speech, are but fine things; they will not do this great work. I propose, therefore, "A Bill for excluding the Duke of York by name, and all Papists whatsoever, from the Crown of England."
Sir Edmund Jennings.] You have the greatest thing upon your hands that ever was in Parliament. It has been moved, "for a Bill to exclude the Duke of York from the Crown." All the Laws you are making cannot attain your end. I said, in the last Parliament, "That the Duke being a Papist, you could have no security for the Protestant Religion." But banishing the Duke will not do your business. If you have any Papists in England, you will never be secure; therefore I propose a Bill, "That all Papists that will not conform to the Church of England, may have liberty to sell their estates and be gone, never to return more." I take it for granted, that as long as any Papists are in England, Religion can never be secure; they will be always practising amongst all Dissenters, and factious Priests and Jesuits will be at the head of them. If there be no Papists left in England, what danger could there be, if we had a Popish Prince? This may be objected to, as a hardship and severity upon them. I answer, that, as of the two evils the least is to be chosen, so of two hardships the least is to be chosen. The Papists, by this Plot, would have banished thirty or forty times as many Protestants out of the world. How can this be a hardship? They may go where they will, and live where they will. Two thirds of their estates are forfeited to the King already, and their persons are subject to imprisonments already, by refusing the Oaths, &c. As to fears of depopulating the Nation by it, it would be much more depopulated by their bloody massacres, which they are continually contriving. But say some, "Who would buy their estates if they must be gone?" It is answered, their estates may be settled in the Crown, by purchase, by Act of Parliament, and by this way you may keep Popery from coming in again, and you may be sure the Crown will never part with such a Revenue. But how shall the King have Money to purchase these lands? The Hearth-money may be sold, and that will gratify the people; and if that will not reach it, the Nation, I believe, will willingly supply the King for so good a purpose. Some will say, "This will take away all the Money out of the Nation;" but we know that the greatest part of the Papists Money goes already out of the Nation, to maintain their Monasteries, and designs, and education of their children, and so, in effect, it goes to the Pope already—He was taken down to Order by
Sir Thomas Meres, who said,] There is another Question now on foot, and the Gentleman's discourse is not directed to the Debate of the matter. This Gentleman has talked to me above a year ago of this, and this might have been proper enough at the opening of the Debate.
Colonel Birch.] It had been well if I could be showed how our Religion and Property might have been secured, without this Bill proposed—If so, I might alter my opinion of that Bill, and what must bear it company. If we can have no safety by a Popish Prince, it is your duty to take some resolution. Whilst the Law of the Militia is in being, which obliges a declaration, &c. we cannot fight against any commissioned by a Popish Successor. When it is their interest to do a thing, the desperate Papists will do it, and till you change the Papists interest to keep the King alive, you do nothing. Take quick Resolutions, pray, for the safety of the King, this, or any other way.
Mr Secretary Coventry.] How will that word "secure" be interpreted? If Birch means "out of danger," I know not how the Government can be "secure" under either a Protestant or Popish Prince. I think, the King's Person is to be considered how to be preserved, which is the proper consideration of the day, as well as the rest that has been moved, and to show the Papists, that it is not their interest to take the King away by violence; and what better way to do it than that proposal in the Chancellor's Speech, That the Papists may be in ten times a worse condition by doing it than they were before? If the Catholics be under a Popish Prince that cannot pardon them, they are in a worse condition than under a Prince that can pardon them. The propositions I have heard moved to-day are the most ruinous to Law and the property of the subject imaginable. Will any man give the Duke of York less Law than the worst Felons have, to banish and disinherit him without so much as hearing him? The Precedent will be the greatest inconvenience to ourselves in the world. Consider, the King is vigorous, in very good health, and but a year or two older than the Duke; the King is not of such an age but that he may have children, and the Duke is not so settled and grafted into the Romish Religion, but that he may return to our Religion again. Acts of Parliament, we know, have not keps Succession out of the right Line, but brought in blood and sword. Has our King the Prerogative of the Conqueror, pretermit his son Robert, and place the Succession in William Rusus and Hen. I.? Show me one man excluded the inheritance of the Crown by Act of Parliament, that had Right of descent, but has come in again. Must you banish a young Prince, and a young Princess? He is now abroad, and may procure help to contend his Title to the Crown, to the end of the World; and no Prince that ever came to the Crown, by a wrong Title, but must maintain it by a standing Army. Queen Elizabeth went through so many great things, only because Mary Queen of Scots laid some Title to the Crown, that nothing but her life would satisfy Queen Elizabeth. In Hen. VII's time, what terrors did a Perkin Warbeck put him in, and shook the very Kingdom! Think, by putting the Duke of York by, in the Succession, what you will intail upon your posterity! You will put him upon desperate and irrecoverable Counsels. The King has not yet told you what he will grant more than he has declared in his Speech, nor what he will not grant more—But pray run not upon these extremities before you have well considered of it.
Mr Hampden.] For us to go about to tie a Popish Successor with Laws for preservation of the Protestant Religion, is binding Sampson with withes; he will break them when he is awake. The Duke of York is the presumptive Heir of the Crown, indeed; but if a man be likely to ruin the estate he may be heir to, we disinherit every day. But I find it a principle amongst a great many, "That if the Prince be great, it is no matter how low the People are, if his greatness be kept up." I think that a Prince is made for the good of the people, and where there is a Popish Prince that may succeed, I think we ought to secure ourselves against that Succession. There is great inconvenience that may be assigned in every proposal I have heard to-day, but there is the least inconvenience in "a Bill to exclude the Duke of York by name from the Crown of England," and therefore I move for it.
Sir Hugh Cholmondeley.] Those who think, that, by Law, we cannot bind a Popish Successor from introducing Popery think too meanly of the Laws of England. Without delay, I would make Laws to defend ourselves and Religion, in case a Popish Prince should attempt it, and to put us in arms against a Popish King too. We shall have sufficient on our sides. But what could the King have reasonably offered more than in his Speech? Put the Duke by the Succession, and where shall it go? Cannot we make Laws to hamper a Popish Successor? We shall lose all, if we grasp at more than we can hold. I move, therefore, "That we may prepare an Act of Parliament, made upon the offers of the King in his Speech, without delay or loss of time."
Major Beake.] In this great point our very souls are concerned. Now the Question is, "What method or course you will take to prevent a Popish Successor to the Crown." Many Motions have been made, but I will inform you of a thing in fact before you. Royal Authority, put in the scales of Parliamentary Authority, I find, has ever overbalanced it. Hen. VIII. framed the six Articles, which he got confirmed by Parliament. E. VI. made several Propositions concerning Religion; the Parliament did concur; so here are Doctrines and Rituals of the Church, and all antecedent to Parliament. King Edward was laid low; then came in Queen Mary, and she brought in Popery, though under an interdiction by Law; and she so precipitated the business, that before a Parliament was called, or any directions given, came in Cardinal Pole, Legate from the Pope. Queen Elizabeth went quite backwards, and caused the Epistles and Gospels to be translated into English, and set forth Injunctions, but still with this inference, antecedent to Parliament. So that, if we have no better security for our Religion than Paper Laws, I doubt not but a Popish Successor will reseind them. But is our Religion of no older date than Edw. VI? It is as old as the Christian Religion, and it is that we are now contending for; not a Statute-Religion, but a Common-Law-Religion, a history of Propriety in the Common Law of England. Now consider, if you name a Successor, what title he has to the Crown—By the ancient Records and Monuments, such and such a Line ought to inherit. If we have as good authority for our Religion as a Successor has for his Crown, we have a better title; we are in possession of our Religion, he is not of the Crown yet. It is not mine or this man's Religion that is the case, it is the Religion of the Nation, and we must answer to God for it. If Religion then be so dear to us, how can the mediums tendered to us by the King effect the security of it? Should the King die (Kings are subject to diseases) then are we subject, not only to the Pope, but to a company of Atheists. Have you power over the Arms of the Nation? Could I see Laws and Force together, that would be something towards our security; but that still might induce an alteration of the Government. I see no safety in what is here proposed, and therefore I will abide by your farther Debate of this great affair.
Mr Powle.] This Debate cannot be new to any man here; this has been often deliberated; and I shall not much differ from what I have formerly delivered. I think that we are somewhat too forward in this Debate. Men that are sick, must first have their distempers cured: When that is done, it is time then to think how to preserve them in health afterwards. The Plot against the King and Government is not at an end. Yet we are going on to something future, as if all was well and quiet. Much may be said against what the Chancellor has proposed in his Speech. It would be insignificant to bind Princes, &c. and I agree that it is a most difficult thing; but I will turn my eye a little on the other side. Can you bind a Prince, as to the Succession, in present or in future? The Motion does not exclude the Line, but the next Successor, if he be a Papist. Hen. VII, when Earl of Richmond, was attainted by Act of Parliament, and all the Judges of England were of opinion, "That he could not sit in Parliament till his Attainder was reversed." But when he came to the Crown, that abolished all the Attainder. Then what will you do with a King in Attainder? Hen. VI. was incapacitated to be King, by Act of Parliament, and when Edw. IV. got the Crown, it was not decided by moot cases in Law, but by the sword and blood. Now how little security have we that this Exclusion of the Duke, (the next Heir to the Crown) which we are about, shall not end in a Civil War? Robert Duke of Normandy was contemptible, and in disgrace with his father and every body. Hen. I. was admitted to the Crown, because he was a brave Prince, by all the Nobility, but Robert offered him battle, and gave him disturbance. Maud the Empress had the true title to the Crown, but King Stephen got it. She came over, and waged War with Stephen for twenty years, and got the Crown at last for her son Hen. II.—Rich. II. was deposed by Hen. IV. and he came to the Crown by Parliament; he was a great Prince, and reigned some time. Then came Hen. V. a brave Prince; he died, and left the Crown to Hen. VI. a Minor, under the guardianship of his two Uncles, the Dukes of Bedsord and Gloucester, &c. who was deposed and Rich. It's title revived, and for forty years there was nothing but battles, tumblings and tossings, &c. How little secure then can the people be (whose quiet must be thought of in what we do) by any such Act of Parliament as is proposed, from disturbances of the like nature from the Duke of York! In Hen. VIII's time, the Crown was intailed on Queen Elizabeth, by his last Will and Testament, by authority of Parliament, after Edw. VI. and Queen Mery; though by a former Act, she was pretermitted, the people inclined to her, and a Protestant Nobility and Gentry, which made her Crown easily balanced. The making Protestants all of a piece is worthy the consideration of this House, the Papists still making advantages of what we do; and if the Protestants will take themselves to be equally concerned, it will case you of a great deal of pains. Many Princes have extended their Power by Prerogative, yet by your Laws you have preserved your liberties to this day; and I hope you will transmit them to posterity. Therefore I would not run any more hazards, as I fear what is proposed may put us upon. I hope there will be the less need of this course, when it is considered that the King may have posterity, or outlive the Duke of York. And another great disadvantage the Papists will have, should a Popish Prince come to the Crown; there is a Revenue, which, upon the death of the King, sinks into the hands of the people, viz. the Customs; and the Successor must either come to it by Parliament, or acts of violence. If an Act of Parliament be made, for securing a Parliament sitting at the death of the King, and for Officers of State, Bishops, and Judges to be left in Office, I would trust to that. If the Successor should be a Papist, sufficient to the day is the evil thereof. If a Prince would secure himself, he must do it by ways and means acceptable to the people, if he consults his own tranquillity. But as for this Debate, I would adjourn it for some few days farther, to consider of it, it is of so great weight and moment.
Lord Cavendish.] In all this Debate, I see nothing certain but our danger; the remedies moved for are uncertain. A Bill of Banishment has been moved for the Duke of York, but no man at this time will think it convenient for the Duke to come into England, for he may come and you cannot deny him to be heard by his Counsel before such a Bill pass. If you pass it, it may put him upon getting assistance from some foreign Prince, and make a party here, or in Ireland, and you ought to consult therefore the safest remedy, before the desperate. If you say, "A Popish Prince cannot be limited," you may as well say, "No Law can keep the Duke out." I would therefore know first, whether what is proposed in the King's and Chancellor's Speech may not go a great way in what you aim at. Consider therefore the safest ways, and if they will not do, then go the desperate.
Sir William Hickman.] Pray let us come to something, else our enemies will say we are afraid of the thing we are about. But pray consider that Scotland is a distinct Kingdom from England, and if you incapacitate the Duke from succeeding in England, he may go into Scotland, and succeed there to that Crown; and I believe that Ireland will go along with Scotland, in the condition Ireland now is, and so you will intail a War for ever upon England.
Mr Swynfin.] I take this case we are upon to be either the preservation or ruin of the Kingdom. In one short word, I take the danger we may be in, by this Bill, &c. not of Title, and Title to the Crown futurely, but the danger is of the loss of a Protestant King, and a Protestant Kingdom under Protestant Laws, in danger of a Popish Successor. The danger, in short, lies here. A Prince subjects himself to the Laws of that Religion that utterly extirpates heretics, and that Prince undertakes their extirpation, when he undertakes the Romish Religion; and by that I would describe the danger we are in. The difficulties to secure you from this are likewise amazing, because they are so insuperable as to be beyond remedy. But I think they are not so insuperable in the Government as we are told. If so, it is a strange Government that has struggled so long for itself against Popish Successors, and been preserved. With the Duke's Title to the Crown, as it stands now, I do not see so much as a probability to secure you, by the Laws that should secure you, because they can never come to be executed. We have a kind of prospect and representation of what the Laws can do already. One would have thought that our Laws had been strong enough against all things relating to Popery. We see what has been done already. We have Laws that made it Treason to make reconciliation to the Church of Rome; Treason for a Priest or Jesuit to be here, and to labour to seduce any of his Majesty's subjects to the Roman Church; and some say, we have a greater number of Jesuits in England, than they dare permit in France. The Papists have Dioceses here, and General Councils, and correspond with Rome for Orders and Directions. All this is highly treasonable, and all under a Protestant King. Now what has furthered this? Nothing, but the hopes of the Papists, of a Popish King, hereafter, by prospect, and the remotest prospect: Yet we are looked upon here, by foreigners, to be more Popish than Protestant. Our Alliances and Counsels are all that way; and this is to me void of all hope, that Laws can do us any good against a Popish King. May this King live out his days! If that prospect be taken away, I see it scarce possible to remove the other. I take it for granted, that we have no good Protestant Alliance made, for no man will trust us. I take it for granted, that, in case of a Popish Successor, all that are considerable Persons, will either go out of the Kingdom, and those that remain about the King, will adore the rising Sun, and no man knows when that Sun will set. Those that look more after their temporal interest than their souls will go that way. Here is the danger of that Law of Exclusion, &c. proposed. We have not only the King to grapple with, and his Regality, but foreign power too, to assist him; so that the King, if he would, cannot protect his Protestant subjects. The Pope's Legates and Officers will judge the King a Heretic, and divest him of the Crown, if he does not destroy you. Consider what a new-converted King will do. He will throw away all his Power and Treasure into the Pope's Arms, who governs him; and can you think that those Laws will do you any good against a Popish Successor, when he comes to the Crown? I make no question that we have had so great transactions with France and Rome (whose dangers are equal,) that they will weaken and languish you to nothing, if they do not openly invade you. You are less in danger, when the whole body is united against that danger, and I think against all dangers; and when the people are united upon their common interest, and common preservation, it will both strengthen you abroad, and you will be united at home, and your dangers will be a thousand times less than to go any other way.
Sir Francis Winnington.] I shall say a few words to this Debate, though I must confess, I am the unfittest man to meddle in it, considering the relation I have had to this great Prince, the Duke of York. But when I consider, that the greatest thing in the world is at stake, I must argue to defend it. You have been told of doubts and fears from several hands, but have had no resolute Motions. As they have been of different natures, so, if the House divide upon this great thing, you give the greatest blow to the Protestant Religion imaginable; therefore, whatever we do, let it be with unanimity, as Protestants, and I hope all here are so. Therefore I propose, that, in giving our opinions, all Gentlemen that are not pleased to speak to the business, may have as visible actions as they that do. I think we are not ready for the main Question, but I propose that we may consider the danger of the Nation. It is easy to argue, that we are inevitably ruined if there be a Popish Successor, but it is hard to say what will save us. The prospect of the Duke's being a Papist has brought upon our hands enough to overwhelm us. The disease seems desperate. The five Popish Lords are in the Tower, on account of the Plot, and another Lord is there, though not under that name, yet centered on that bottom, and has made his greatness upon it. The Lords in the Tower, if we divide upon this great thing, will think themselves saved; and now within a few days they are to be tryed. If what I shall say be not acceptable to the House, I protest I speak it not out of favour to the Duke, but for the preservation of the Protestant Cause. Now that this thing is brought on, let us do like honest men, and Protestants. If we divide upon the Question, the Papists will have more encouragement than the Duke ever gave them. Now we are steady, I would not lose one mite of advantage; therefore I would have the Debate adjourned, and no Question now put upon it, and go on upon it, as soon as the Lords in the Tower are tryed, and no business whatsoever to be interposed; and when we are once come again to this Debate, whoever is here may personally say, he owns or disowns the Resolution, and not leave it to a few Gentlemen to debate and argue, and the rest to slip away, but that every man may have his share in it; and if we part with this Debate, we do not wisely. If the Judges see the Commons faint and tender in this matter, the Judges will be so too in judging this Law, and the Lords will shrink and be tender too. As this Bill will be hard for the Duke, so it is hard for us to be deprived of our Civil Liberties, which will be at the power of a Prince that governs as the Pope shall give his determination. When Popery is introduced, but for one Prince's Reign, the Pope will dispose of the Royal Family as well as us; therefore when I speak against Popery, I speak for the Royal Family; and in speaking this, I speak for all good and virtuous men. If it be Exclusion, or Banishment, of the Duke, let the Resolution be what it will, it is for our security. Those Gentlemen who have spoken, have told us melancholy histories of former ages, but have given us no help: It is security we look for only. I will therefore determine nothing on the King's Speech, but that no reflection be made, or lessening our interest, let us make no determination relating to the Duke till the Lords Tryals be over.
Mr Vaughan.] Nothing can justify this day's sitting but the hopes of securing our Religion for the future. So ill was the example of Banishment, the party unheard, that it has been a just cause of reversal by Act of Parliament in several instances. It is proposed for a remedy of what we fear, "That a Parliament may be sitting at the death of the King." And what kind of Parliament you may have, God knows! I hope nobody here desires to outlive the King. Next, it is proposed, "That the Parliament shall have the choice of the Civil and Ecclesiastical Officers, &c." If you provide thus against the Duke of York, you take away all Royal Power, and make the Government a Commonwealth, and the Crown will embrace a Cloud for a Juno. The King must give consent to what Laws you make, and this is tying the bell about the cat's neck by the mice. All that will signify nothing, when, in effect, the Crown is upon the Pope's head. As for secluding the Duke of York from the Succession, whether that be lawful or not, I conclude it may be done by Act of Parliament by the authority of fair Precedents. If the King, Lords, and Commons cannot do it, you are supreme, and not supreme; that authority must have a greater property in what we have, than we ourselves. Upon deposing of Rich. II. in 8 Hen. IV, the Crown was settled by Act of Parliament upon the Heirs of Hen. IV, Females were excluded. An Attainder excluded the Duke of Clarence and the Children of Edw. IV, and set the Crown upon the head of Rich. III. Then Hen. VII. came in, if by any Title, by Act of Parliament. But we have a Statute of the 13th of Queen Elizabeth, "That the Crown may be disposed of, for the good of the Nation," and it was Treason in her life-time, to affirm the contrary, and Præmunire for ever after. And she had good reason to pass such a Law, on her part, because she challenged the Crown, not by Succession, but by Act of Parliament. But the subject-matter of our Debate to-day is not only the preservation of our Prince, but our Religion too. Now consider in what state we stand The Duke of York has all the obligations of gratitude upon him to the King and Kingdom, if you make no use of the power you have to omit him in the Succession; but at this time to proceed to this Vote will make the Duke discard all his loyalty, and love to his country, and proceed to nothing but vengeance. I have told you my opinion, and given you my Reason for adjourning this Debate.
Sir Henry Capel.] I do agree, that Laws made to declare the Succession, are to be obeyed, when made; but they are not yet made. I will not say of what divine right Government is, but I will say, that obligation to obey the Government is as long as it can give me security to protect me, and I ought to defend that Government and Governors; and I will not take away Right, where Right is established. There has been a great burden, as Protestant, laid upon us. We are reproached with cutting off the King's Head, and with the late rebellion. The safest way to preserve us is, not to take away the Duke's Right to the Crown: Should you take it away, do you not put all the Protestant Princes upon it to preserve his Right? If he hath his Right, they can have no pretence in his behalf: But, parliamentarily, this day's consideration is to take care of the life of the King; therefore I move not to close the Debate, but appoint a Bill to be drawn, "That there may be a Parliament every three years, and a Parliament in being, at the demise of the King." A few days will pass it, and bind us in all the security imaginable against the consequences we apprehend.
Sir Thomas Littleton.] I will promise you, that, as near as I can, I will not trouble you with the repetition of any thing that has been said to-day. I should have been glad that the Debate might have been adjourned for some time. If it will not undergo the test of some few days consideration, it will abide nothing. Here was a Motion made, "To banish the Duke of York temporarly;" and that is against Justice, he not being heard. And yet the House seems unanimous for a total Exclusion of him from the Crown. To do the greater things so currently, and boggle at the lesser, is strange! Now whether you will go by way of Bill to exclude the Duke, &c. is the Question. To put a Test upon the Duke, before he be admitted to the Crown, is the most impracticable thing imaginable; but I shall not be afraid to speak my mind in this great affair, though seemingly I may go against the stream. There are instances, that Acts of Parliament have been broken in cases of Religion: In Edw. VI, and Queen Elizabeth's time, (and I take it they were times that came close on the heels of one another; and may you not expect the same thing?) I take notice, that there was then a general fermentation of Religion, all the World over; and these things go by tides and times. But now is there any such fermentation in the World, as for Princes to change Religion? It is not in the power of the King of France to change the Religion in France, nor of the great Turk in Turkey. I distinguish between "fluctuation" and "ferment." Now people are setttled upon their lees in Religion, and that rotation ceases; they are settled upon what they are settled. Now as to the legality of binding a Successor, it is said, "We cannot fetter and bind a Prince." The Act of Parliament of Hen. VIII. gave the disposition of the Crown to Hen. VIII, under the Great Seal, &c. or by his last Will and Testament, as he pleased; and he disposed of the Succession accordingly, and this Will was exemplified above an hundred times, and dispersed all the World over in all Princes Courts. But the natural Right took place in the Succession, not the King's last Will and Testament. By that Will, the Title of Grey Duke of Suffolk remained in the Duke of Somerset by marriage. Now King James came in upon the Title of the daughter of Hen. VII; and can any man say, that the Title of the Somerset family is considerable to pretend to the Crown? It is nugatory, and yet the Somerset family had a Title by Act of Parliament, and it is now such a trifle that no man so much as entertains his thoughts with it; so that Laws, we see, can do nothing to exclude the right Heirs in the Succession. Besides, it is disagreeable to the opinons of all the reformed Churches beyond the sea; they profess obedience to Princes though of a different Religion, and to clear themselves to Popish Princes, they declare it. The case of the Holy League in France for exclusion of the Princes of the House of Bourbon comes near this— The last Estates of that Kingdom were held at 'Blois, where they all agreed and concurred to exclude the King of Navarre (fn. 2), by name, from the Succession of the Crown; but the King refused it, and denied to give his consent. It may be, this Bill that you are about may have the same fate; you have little prospect in the unanimity of the King and the Lords. All the Protestant Divines of England exclaimed against the Church of Rome for excluding Hen. IV from his Right to the Crown of France, and our own arguments may justly be returned upon us, and so we shall cast dirt upon the Protestant Religion. This Doctrine of excluding the right Heir, &c. is more papistical and jesuitical than Jesuitism or Popery itself. As for Scotland, they had more fears of Popery than we now have. After Mary Queen of Scots was excluded, did they not call her home? Did they not limit her to her chapel, and no more? and limit her to twelve persons only about her, of her Religion? But when she grew weary of it, and would be tampering about the Romish Religion, they imprisoned her in Loch-Leven Castle, which she was soon weary of, and made her escape. They are in Scotland not so much for secluding their Princes from the Crown, as for ordering their Princes to do what they list. We need less to fear, if we take this example of Scotland along with us. In King James's time, the Scots were all drawn here with gifts, &c. and when a Prince is newly come to a Kingdom, it is a fine jolly time; but I am sure it was a miserable time with them in King Charles Ist's time, as they were wholly excluded the Court; and lately, by their aceession to England, they have lost the glory of their Kingdom with foreign Princes. They neither send nor receive foreign Ambassadors, nor make any Treaties. What is done here, they must be contented with. They were supported in Qu. Elizabeth's time with Pensions from hence, K. James being the rising Sun; but now it is a reproach in the Court of England to be a Scotchman. Should we do what we are about in the Succession, they may take occasion, from these discontents, to disunite themselves from England. Therefore I am not ashamed to conclude my Motion, "That we proceed upon my Lord Chancellor's Speech, and ground a Bill upon that."
Mr Paul Foley.] I hear it said, "That it is not in our power to exclude the Duke of York from the Succession of the Crown." The case of Hen. VII. is, that he was attainted, and by Act of Parliament, but the descent of the Crown upon him did purge away that Attainder; and that is good Law; but it is in the power of King, Lords, and Commons, to exclude any man from the Crown. It was agreed to be Law by those Judges in Parliament, when the Statute of Queen Elizabeth made it Præmunire for any man to maintain the contrary. What a man is duly attainted of, he forfeits to the Crown; and notwithstanding the forfeiture, he may be pardoned by the King; yet, his blood being corrupted, he cannot inherit an estate from his Ancestors, because all is forfeited to the Crown. But that is nothing to the case before you, that such a particular person shall not come to the Crown. The Question is now, Whether there be any other way to secure Religion, than what is proposed. I have observed what has been proposed another way, and had I received any satisfaction in matter of Religion, I might possibly have closed with it; but till then, I shall rather exclude the Duke of York from the Succession, than lose the Protestant Religion. If the Duke be excluded by Act of Parliament, that can be no legal Parliament that is called by him; else, he may call what Parliament he pleases; and I am the more confirmed in it, since the case of Sir Samuel Barnardiston. Do what you can, all may come to blood; but you will secure the Protestant Religion by making the Duke incapable of the Succession, by Act of Parliament.
Mr Booth.] I think that we shall not exasperate the Duke more, by this Bill to incapacitate him the Succession, than we have done already. I would have the Vote for a Bill to pass now, that it may not be put off, but remain upon your Books, to your honour, that you have done what your Country sent you hither for. Capel has told you, "That it was a reproach to the Nation, the cutting off the King's head!" But we shall be reproached abroad and at home too, if we preserve not our Religion. Shall we support a man, whose principle it is to destroy the Religion and Gentry of England? Therefore I move for the Question.
Sir William Coventry.] I hope the whole carriage of my life will make me need no apology for myself, as to my sincerity for the Protestant Religion. When the late King was in Prison in the Isle of Wight, some propositions were made by his Majesty, towards an accommodation betwixt him and the Parliament. Many of that Body were of opinion, that they were a good ground for Peace, but another Party rejected them; and after the Nation had for some years been embroiled in blood, the Crown was restored to the right Heir, without any limitations, which the late King, his Father, would have been contented with. Whenever the King dies, and it shall be our ill fortune to have a Popish Successor, he will venture a push for it, rather than have the Crown manacled with what the King has given you leave to do, in his Speech. The Precedents mentioned were of Kings and Queens not manacled, but wholly in possession of their Royal Power. Consider the inconveniences the other way. The matter of Scotland was touched upon. I will only touch upon matter of fact. When Royal Authority was banished in Scotland, and Argyle's Party, called "the violent Party," opposed Duke Hamilton, yet they fought it out to the stumps, till they had got the King into Scotland. Whenever it comes to pass that the Duke shall be disinherited, and they in Scotland set him up for King whom you acknowlege not, they will set up such a thorn in your sides, by the help of France, that you will never be able to get it out; and how France has formerly played that game, we all know. By avoiding this danger, you anticipate it. As long as the King lives, you have an awe upon the Duke; and the Princes of Christendom, to whom the Duke would appeal, will say, "They cannot intermeddle protento but prototo." They will probably not meddle with any La s you shall make for your safety, so that they appear not a disinherison of the Duke. All the Crowns of Christendem are hereditary, except that of Poland; it will concern them not to let subjects be meddling in electing Kings in hereditar, Kingdoms. That danger, which you will immediately draw upon yourselves, may be prevented in time. Should the Duke die, or the King of France die, or any thing happen in Christendom, that may help us. Let us not throw another strength into the King of France's hand. y making the Duke desperate. The latitude given you in the King's Speech is sufficient security against your fears. If you let alone this matter of the Succession, till the Tryal of the Lords be over, you will have it unanimous. I would lay my hand upon my heart, as to this Bill of Exclusion, &c. (which as yet no Gentleman hath openly said) that we may gain advantage by time. You may then consider whether you dare sufficiently rely upon the conduct of the King's Ministers; else you will precipitate your danger, and your defence will be weaker than before you do the thing. I would therefore adjourn the Debate.
Mr Boscawen.] I do not take this matter we are upon, but with all the circumstances that attend it, and then I take it for granted, that if there be any more probable means to preserve the Protestant Religion amongst us, than what have been proposed, I shall not differ at all. But if you consider the horrible Plot which has made the Papists an irreconcileable Party, and that a Protestant King is in danger of his life, much more will Religion be in danger when a Papist comes to the Crown. By being willows, and not oaks, men have kept their places at Court; which makes me expect little effect from what has been proposed in relation to the King's and Chancellor's Speeches. No confession of faith binds a man to any Allegiance to a Prince secluded the Crown by Law. As for Hen. IV, there was no Law to seclude him from the Crown, and he was but a private person, and the people ought not to have taken up arms against him. But where there is a Law for it, they are betrayers of the Protestant Religion, if they do it not when in their power. We ought to consider the Chancellor's first Speech, and not that last Speech. Now you have an opportunity to secure the Protestant Religion, do it; else, posterity will curse you in your graves. The whole Protestant Religion in Europe is struck at, in a Popish Succession in England. If the Protestant Religion keeps not up its head now, under a Protestant King, it must be drowned under a Popish. Suppose the succeeding Prince should be a Lunatic, as the King of Portugal was, and they had no way of securing the Government, but by pretermitting him—Much more in our case, if the security of an Act of Parliament be as good as any security for the Right of the Crown. Queen Elizabeth had no Right to the Crowns but by Act of Parliament, and she made it Præmunire, by Law, for any man to hold the contrary, &c. and yet some Gentlemen say, "It is against Law." We must have a Law to secure this Law, else you will be infamous. If the King consents not to such an Act, &c. you are not to blame, you are but in your private capacity, as Commoners. But I presume, an Act, in this case, will pass Royal Assent. It is for the King's security, ours, and Scotland's, that it should pass. But I intend to go no farther in it, but to have a Protestant Prince. If I am satisfied that the Duke of York is a Protestant, I am not against him. Upon the whole, I am clearly of opinion, that till we go against Popery, beyond retreat, we shall have no happy days; and then, I hope, we may see happy days. But Popery and French Government are almost check-mate (fn. 3) with us. There is no probability of security the other way proposed. Would you have Parliaments make Laws without a Prince? Or would you have the Government in Conservators hands, such as we may conside in? That would look like a Commonwealth, and I know no such great men that we can trust upon such an account; besides, they have no power, and will be insignificant. Making Clergymen and Justices of the Peace will signify nothing. A troop of horse, and a file of musketeers, will easily turn us all out of doors. Let us know what we have to trust to. But the several proposals made to secure the King's Person, and the Protestant Religion (except this Bill proposed) look like gold, but are but leaf-gold when you touch them. Whatever becomes of us, let us preserve the Protestant Religion, and pray put the Question for the Bill (fn. 4).
Sir Nicholas Carew.] When the King saw that his Brother had so many friends in the last Parliament, as to agree to a Proviso for exempting him from the Test against Popery, and the Oath to be taken in the Lords House, &c. it was time for him to dissolve that Parliament. I hope it will not be so in this.
[Resolved, Nèmine contradicente, That in defence of the King's Person, and the Protestant Religion, this House doth declare, That they will stand by his Majesty with their lives and fortunes; and that, if his Majesty shall come by any violent death (which God forbid!) that they will revenge it to the utmost upon the Papists (fn. 5).