Grey's Debates of the House of Commons: Volume 7. Originally published by T. Becket and P. A. De Hondt, London, 1769.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
Tuesday, November 9.
"His Majesty desires this House, as well for the satisfaction of his people as of himself, to expedite such matters as are depending before them, relating to Popery and the Plot; and would have them rest assured, that all remedies they can tender to his Majesty, conducing to those ends, shall be very acceptable to him, provided they be such as may consist with preserving the Succession of the Crown in its due and legal course of descent."]
Sir Edward Dering.] A Motion relating to Privilege has the preference usually of other things. In so many years that I have served in Parliament, I never did make any complaint of Breach of Privilege upon myself. I find a Book that has made a reflection upon me, and that so venomous, that it affects the most sensible part of my heart, my Religion and my Loyalty; which Book is commonly sold about. The Author of it does not name me (but by description) neither here nor in the Country, but may plainly be apprehended. (And so be reads the passage in the Book.) What follows describes me: The compliment he gives me, of "wise and learned," is like poison boiled in wine, to operate the more violently. A great deal more follows, but this is enough to show I do not complain unnecessarily. How innocent I am of the reflections, I appeal both to you, and to my Country; that in word or deed I never swerved from my Prince nor the Church. In this Libel, I am accused plainly of no less than Popery, and of the worst of crimes, of being "an active and seditious Papist, a Correspondent of the Pope and the Nuntio, and at this time." This is my case to-day, it may be any man's to-morrow. All I move for is, that you will please to examine this, and view those Letters he mentions of Coleman, and see if there be the least shadow of what I am scandalized with, and then, if you please, send for the Printer of the Pamphlet.
Sir John Knight.] I must give my testimony to Dering's zeal for the prosecution of the Plot. He translated those Letters faithfully, he stands now accused of having received from the Internuntio, &c. There is not one word in those Letters that Dering had the least hand in correspondence, as the Libel mentions. I move, that the Printer may be sent for."
Mr Treby.] Every one that reads the Book may think that I was either active or passive in the printing it. The Book aims at a Report I made the last Parliament; it is broken and imperfect, and nonsense in many places. A share of this calumny is upon me, though I am not named. In the last Parliament, I reported who translated the Letters, as Sir Edward Dering and other Gentlemen, signed by them, but in the printed Book they set his name to it, as if he held the correspondence. I have been importuned to communicate those Letters by several Members, but as they have been committed to me in secret, so I have secretly and sacredly kept it, and shall. The Letter translated by Sir Edward Dering is a serviceable part, and it is represented in this Book as an obnoxious part. I move, that you will enquire into it.
Sir George Treby.] I summoned Janeway the Bookseller, who put on a miserable wretched habit, and said "he was very poor." I told him, he must take it for a favour if he had his liberty, and must trace out the original Author. He answered for the present, "He had it from Captain Yarrington." I bad him, at his peril, pursue it farther.
Sir Francis Winnington.] I hope this House and the Nation will reap benefit by the King's Proclamation of Pardon for such as should make discovery of the Plot, &c. The danger is, that, in these long intermissions of Parliament, the Evidence should expire. Mr Bedlow is gone, and I fear it is the endeavour of some men to importune the King to break us, but I hope we shall do something to break them. I would send for Mr Turberville, and order him to give in his Information in writing.
Mr Garroway.] All your Witnesses come in with the greatest hazard imaginable. I would get him his Pardon, and recommend him to the King for some allowance; and have a course taken for his security. If you do not your utmost, you will be deserted, and the Plot defeated.
Mr Colt.] One, formerly the King's servant, had a sword drawn upon him: He that drew it, said, "Damn me, we are mistaken; this is not Dugdale." Dangerfield had a sham Pardon, and when you break up, he may be hanged. Hear him first, and then consider them all together.
Mr Dangerfield, being called in, then acquainted the House, That he was advised that the Pardon now granted to him by his Majesty is, in some particulars, defective; and humbly desired the House to represent the same to his Majesty.
Mr Trenchard.] I will open this matter of Dangerfield's Pardon. After Dangerfield had discovered the sham Presbyterian Plot, the King ordered the Attorney General to draw his Pardon, who left out the word "Felonies," which was the Outlawry. Mrs Cellier, at her Tryal in the King's-Bench, moved for a Copy of his Pardon, which was ordered her, and the word "Felony" being left out, my Lord Chief Justice Scroggs committed Dangerfield upon the Outlawry. He fears he shall be taken upon the same disadvantage again; and therefore humbly desires, "That he may have a Pardon for all Felonies, Outlawries, &c."
Sir Henry Capel.] It is high time for you to do something in this matter. When men reflect upon your Evidence, it is fit they should be printed. Whatever of Evidence is read here, ought to be entered into the Journal, to guide the Judges.
Mr Hampden.] You have one living Witness gone, Mr Bedlow, and now you are called upon by the King to expedite the prosecution of the Plot. Pray let it be seen, though you have been dissolved or prorogued, and have had an unhappy effect of Proclamations for Evidence to come in, and though this is still called a sham Plot, let the Evidence be entered into the Journal. It will however have this effect, that the Nation will not lie under an imputation of Injustice, whatever come of it.
Sir Nicholas Carew.] I would have the Evidence printed. Since we have had so many Prorogations and Dissolutions, let them find no fruit of such things, and I move to have an Act to make Mr Bedlow's Testimony as good as if he were alive.
Sir Robert Howard.] I would graft something of your sense, by what has been moved. The best way for the security of the Witnesses is what you have entered. Time will kill them as sure as sword or poison. If you will avoid the reproach of hearing little things, as of Trade, Wool, and News; when you see your Witnesses attempted in every corner, some by time, some by assassination, I would prevent these Prorogations. Though Paper-Evidence be not good in Law, yet I would be the more hasty to come to Tryal, when the Evidence goes thus off: I move, therefore, that this Paper-Evidence may be made good, by Act of Parliament. The method of it I have not mature, but would be glad to have it improved, that if they destroy the man, they may not destroy the Evidence; that so, neither time nor force may make you want Evidence. I am almost weary of the Evidence, and would have no Question put, Whether Sir Edmundbury Godfrey be dead, or no. Make such an Act, and I hope you will do a great work for the King and the Protestant Religion, and it may prove the greatest Triple Alliance betwixt the King and the two Houses that can be. However, it will teach, not to render Tryals, and legal Tryals ineffectual (that they desire Tryals to come on) when the Evidence of the dead will be as good as of the living; and then let them do what they can.
Serjeant Maynard.] Every day Evidence will come in; and as we love the honour and safety of the Nation, let us not talk of the Plot, but prosecute the Plot. Either it is Evidence, or not. Can an Act of Parliament make it otherwise? Let us go on and prosecute, and let us have a day to consider how to prosecute effectually, and go on, now the King, Lords, and Commons have declared it a Plot—They will put in circumstances else that you dare not prosecute them. Therefore I move, that you would go on.
Sir Thomas Meres.] If you make an Act that PaperEvidence shall be good, it will be, as in Chancery, in perpetuam rei memoriam. It makes not the Evidence good, but what is said remains whilst that Bill is going on and considering. Let a Committee prepare the Evidence, if they have not already. The scaffolds and state have stood in Westminster-Hall, to the shame of us.
Sir Francis Winnington.] I will give you an account how things stand. By reason of the shortness of the time, the Committee could not make the Evidence complete, but I hope in a day or two they will perfect it. I expect we shall be soon ready as to the Impeachments; the rest of the Informations are very large, and the Clerks write all night to perfect them. I desire that Mr Treby's Report may be ready too, and then we shall not only talk, but do.
[Ordered, That an humble Application be made from this House to his Majesty, desiring his Majesty to grant to Mr Dangerfield a full and general Pardon of all Treasons, Misprisions of Treason, Felonies, and other Crimes and Misdemeanors by him commitred, to the time of his last discovery made to this House, of the Popish Plot.
Ordered, That the Committee appointed to inspect the Journals of the two last Parliaments, and to make a Report of their Proceedings, as well relating to the Popish Plot as of the Impeachment against the Lords in the Tower, do present their Reports on Thursday morning next; and that Mr Treby do, at the same time, present, in writing, his Information.]
Wednesday, November 10.
Mr Boscawen.] I am sorry to see so great a silence in the House. I will take leave to give you my thoughts of it. One part of the Message, I find, is, "That you would prosecute the Plot." To which the best Answer you can return his Majesty, to show you are in earnest to do it, is to begin with that Lord (Lord Stafford) named in the Evidence you have heard at the Bar (Turberville's;) the people else will think, there is nothing against the Lords, because you have not, in all this time, proceeded against any of them. But the true reason of that is, because you have been prorogued and dissolved; and Prorogations have been kept on till this time. This may be an Answer to one part of the King's Message, "That you will proceed to the Tryal of Lord Stafford." The Answer to the other part of the Message I leave to other Gentlemen.
Mr Harbord.] You have read the King's Message; it consists of many parts. I cannot, without trouble of mind, see that you are put upon necessity. There is a passage in the Bible which tells us, "That the children of Israel were put to make brick without straw, by Pharach's Task-masters." The King's Message is, "That you would prosecute the Plot." And withall he repeats his consent in his Speech at the opening of the Parliament to do any thing conducing to that end, &c. "provided it consist with preserving the Succession in the due and legal course of descent." I am sorry I was forced to make use of that comparison, but when all is at stake, no consideration can tye up any man's mouth in this place. I confess, I am naturally warm, and I cannot but speak warmly in this matter. I appeal to you, if there has been any examination taken relating to the Plot, but that his Royal Highness has been at the bottom of it? I will ask another Question; Whether it is possible to think the King can be safe in a Popish Successor? I will put the Papists upon it to show, that whenever it appeared that the Successor was not of the Religion of the people, whether they have not gone a severer way about than we are doing? Philip II. of Spain disposed of his son Prince Charles, apprehending him inclined to the Protestant Religion. And now in Spain, should they fear a Protestant Successor, I know what would become of him. This is done merely out of necessity of the Kingdom. Some, it may be, had rather sit still in this matter than show themselves; but I cannot but think that the Inquisition will be the reward of all that assert their Religion. And that our enemies may not prevail with the King, let the fault lie at their doors, if Dissolution; the Nation will see that the stop is theirs, and not ours, if it be a Prorogation. I cannot but lament our condition, but I will say nothing indecent or unmannerly of the King's Message. I move, therefore, "That you will appoint a Committee to pen an Answer to the King's Message, as to the first part, "That, in obedience to his command, you are labouring about the prosecution of the Plot, and the Tryal of the Lords in the Tower." The eyes of the Nation are upon us, and when you proceed, the Nation will be of opinion that you have done your duty, and it is not your fault that the prosecution of the Lords was not sooner. In order to that, I would bring the Lords to Tryal, to the end the King may see the Nation has reason to say this is a Plot; and that the Nation may see you are in earnest, after they have heard your plain and honest Evidence, which will not only prove the Plot against the King's Person, but that Ladies do endeavour to subvert the Government. (If women have had a hand in it, sure it was near execution.) The first part of the Message I would have answered in such language as becomes you, that the World may see you are preserving the King's Person and the Protestant Religion. If you move in these steps, it will be impossible to break you.
Mr Hampden.] That you may have a good conclusion of this matter, it is necessary that you go in some method. I am for the Motion of proceeding to the Tryal of Lord Stafford first; but I think it not seasonable to postpone that Vote to the consideration of the Message, and that Vote comes in as a confirmation to what you will say in the Address. But it seems strange to me, that the King should call upon you to expedite the Prosecution of the Plot, repeated upon a fortnight or three weeks ago. This imputation must be upon you, that you are slack in prosecuting Popery and the Plot. I know not why it has been neglected by Prorogations and Dissolutions; it must be by some advice, though not of ill consequence (as it happens) yet by ill men. But in the interim there was corrupting of Witnesses to destroy the Prosecution of the Plot. It seems strange that any such about the King should give this advice of the Message. You have followed this Plot since you sat; you have been, and are still about it. There needs no other Answer to the King's Message, but to inform his Majesty, "That it is your great interest, as well as duty, to prosecute the Plot." And after this, I would say something of the Prorogations and Dissolutions that have hindered you, as part of the Answer, and "That your endeavour is to confirm the King on his Throne with honour and safety, and that he shall have no cause to repent of his considence in the Parliament but in those who represent the Government odious to the people." And I move, that you will proceed to the Tryal of Lord Stafford.
Colonel Birch.] I am as much for what is moved as any man, with the will, mind, and heart of the House to show the King, on all occasions, your intentions to serve him. When the King presses the Prosecution of the Plot again and again, then give the King all satisfaction in what you do. I fear that those about the King get advantage against you. An Address from you in the main will be satisfaction in that point. I would give an account of your Reasons so far as parliamentarily you may. You have made already as great steps as you can; but consider, that one of your main Evidences [Bedlow] by the long Prorogation, is dead. I would have it appear, that you have in your heart what the King desires, and the Kingdom earnestly presses. You have had it in great care, and great Debates have been to try if it could be made out any way, to satisfy the World of their safety, without this Bill of Exclusion. You were necessitated, when the first and second way would not do, to have recourse to the third. You have not made it the Papists interest that the King should not be taken away by those blood-sucking people, till you pass this Bill of Exclusion; till then, you are never the better, and I would have this in the Address to the King.
Colonel Titus.] His Majesty, in his Message, desires "that we should expedite the prosecution of the Plot, &c." I cannot imagine but that both the King and the People are in great impatience till it be done. The King's Person is in danger, and the People under apprehensions. The King may wonder at this delay, and here is a tacit reprehension from him, as if we were wanting on our part. But I think we are wanting to ourselves if we do not give Reasons in our own justification. We all know the hinderers of the prosecution of the Plot, and those about the King have advised these Prorogations and Dissolutions. Were not all the Witnesses ready the last parliament, and the Members of the Committee for managing the Tryals assigned their several parts? And when it was so, the same Counsels, that have prevailed so long, dissolved that and the last Parliament, when the prosecution of the Plot was at the height. And what have they done since? They have prorogued the Parliament, but to be rid of the Witnesses. The House should take notice, that whoever hindered the sitting of the Parliament, were promoters of the Plot; and that brand, I hope, will be put upon them (by such a Vote) that durst do it, whilst the Kingdom is in this fermentation; and I hope you will put a brand upon any that shall give such Advice for the future. I have taken leave to tell you my thoughts of the King's Message. It has been regularly moved to begin somewhere, and you cannot do better than in trying Lord Stafford. And after you have returned Answer to the King, pass such a Vote, "That you will forthwith proceed to the Tryal of Lord Stafford." And I wish the Message had done it too. But the last Clause of the Message was brought in like a Proviso, to make all the rest void. The King, through his goodness and excellent nature, is unwilling that you should proceed to exclude his Brother; but I hope, by your Reasons, you will give the King satisfaction, and that without delay you will try the Lords in the Tower, and begin with Lord Stafford.
Sir Francis Winnington.] I would have you well weigh and consider what we are about, lest we run into inconvenience. All honest men, that are not in the Plot, think it fit to prosecute the Plot. What is proposed is rational and parliamentary. But if you consider, if you address, how is it to be made? Something has been said of the King's Message, as if it reproached us that we had not gone so far in the prosecution of the Plot as the King's good inclinations led him. I am glad to see the King is rival with the Parliament, now he sees the necessity of it as well as his subjects. Those who advised the King to search into the Plot, advised not the Prorogations of the Parliament. They are more for foreign Counsels than the Protestant Religion. The King's Letter from Breda, before his happy Restoration, told us of the necessity of his governing by Parliaments, and to unite all Protestants, though those Resolutions have been interrupted by violent attacks. It is a thing deplorable to Protestants abroad, when the Plot is not prosecuted; when the Great Council, those that must secure the Nation, are set off for a year and a half. This is not done by honest, good men, but diabolical Counsels, that cut the throat of a Magistrate: And that part of the Message advising us "to prosecute the Plot," comes from those Counsels that prorogued the Parliament so long. When we have a Message from the King, it requires an Answer; and as to the reproach, why we are not so quick as the King expects, we may acquaint the King, "That we see the King will support the old Government and Parliaments, and we have great cause to rejoice at the King's vigorous inclination." Next, we may take notice of the retarding of the Plot, "That it is not from the Parliament, but from ill Counsels." The retarding cannot be from the Parliament, when it is looked upon by the eye of reason. Let us excuse ourselves, and not give countenance to those that have hindered it. No man will make a question of the Plot: But when we are for no Popery, and no arbitrary Government, that sticks in some mens teeth. When we come to particulars, I would not stick upon emergencies, but as the King advises the prosecution of the Plot, I would then show the neglect of the Council, that has been guilty of the Prorogation and Dissolution of the Parliament, and show what we have done about the Plot, and not spend any more precious time on "the East India Company," and "Irish Cattle," whole mornings, and let the Nation see that the Parliament goes upon their business, and not small things. I am comforted with the King's Message, that it coheres and agrees with his Speech, and the Proclamation, &c. I would put one thing in, that where the matter is of so great importance, I would have the Address drawn upon the Debate of the House. When this is done, I am not against proceeding upon Lord Stafford's Tryal. Gentlemen, who consider Methods of Business, remember that when we carried up the Impeachment, the last Parliament, some Letters were missing, and witnesses were an hundred and twenty miles off—But I know not who drove it on, but some formalities hindered our proceeding. It may be said, "That all the Lords were impeached together;" but they are in five Indictments, and in Law are distinct. Now you have fresh Evidence, name no day, only make a general Vote, "That you will proceed," for fear of surprize. Order an Address to the King upon the Debate of the House, and then your proceeding to Lord Stafford's Tryal.
Thursday, November 11.
[Sir William Jones (fn. 1) reports, from the Committee, the following Address to his Majesty, in Answer to his Message, which was read, and agreed to by the House:
"We your Majesty's most loyal and obedient Subjects, the Commons in this present Parliament assembled, having taken into our most serious consideration your Majesty's gracious Message, brought unto us the ninth day of this instant November by Mr Secretary Jenkins, do, with all thankfulness, acknowlege your Majesty's care and goodness in inviting us to expedite such matters as are depending before us, relating to Popery and the Plot; and we do, in all humility, represent it to your Majesty, that we are fully convinced that it is highly incumbent upon us, in discharge both of our duty to your Majesty, as of that great trust reposed in us by those whom we represent, to endeavour, by the most speedy and effectual ways, the suppression of Popery within this your Kingdom, and the bringing to public Justice all such as shall be found guilty of the horrid and damnable Popish Plot: And though the time of our sitting (abating what must necessarily be spent in the chusing and presenting a Speaker, appointing Grand Committees, and in taking the Oaths and Tests enjoined by Act of Parliament) hath not much exceeded a fortnight, yet we have, in this time, not only made a considerable progress in some things, which to us seem, and, when presented to your Majesty in a Parliamentary way, will, we trust, appear to your Majesty to be absolutely necessary for the safety of your Majesty's Person, the effectual suppression of Popery, and the security of the Religion, Lives, and Estates of your Majesty's Protestant Subjects, but even in relation to the Tryals of the five Lords, impeached in Parliament, for the execrable Popish Plot, we have so far proceeded, as, we doubt not, but in a short time, we shall be ready for the same: But we cannot, without being unfaithful to your Majesty, and to our Countries, by whom we are intrusted, omit, upon this occasion, humbly to inform your Majesty, that our difficulties, even as to these Tryals, are much increased by the evil and destructive Counsels. of those persons who advised your Majesty, first to the Prorogation, and then to the Dissolution of the last Parliament, at a time when the Commons had taken great pains about, and were prepared for those Tryals; and by the like pernicious Counsels of those who advised the many and long Prorogations of the present Parliament, before the same was permitted to sit; whereby some of the Evidence, which was prepared in the last Parliament, may possibly, during so long an interval, be forgotten, or lost; and some persons, who might probably have come in as Witnesses, are either dead, have been taken off, or may have been discouraged from giving their Evidence: But of one mischievous consequence of those dangerous and unhappy Counsels we are certainly and sadly sensible; namely, that the Testimony of a material Witness against every one of those five Lords, and who could probably have discovered and brought in much other Evidence about the Plot in general, and those Lords in particular, cannot now be given vivâ voce, forasmuch as that Witness is unfortunately dead, between the calling and the sitting of this Parliament.
"To prevent the like or greater inconveniences for the future, we make it our most humble request to your excellent Majesty, that, as you tender the Safety of your Royal Person, the Security of your loyal Subjects, and the Preservation of the true Protestant Religion, you will not suffer yourself to be prevailed upon by the like Counsels, to do any thing which may occasion, in consequence (though we are assured, never with your Majesty's intention) either the deferring of a full and perfect Discovery and Examination of this most wicked and detestable Plot; or the preventing the Conspirators therein from being brought to speedy and exemplary justice and punishment: And we humbly beseech your Majesty to rest assured, notwithstanding any suggestions which may be made by persons, who, for their own wicked purposes, contrive to create a distrust in your Majesty of your People, that nothing is more in the desires, and shall be more the endeavours, of us your faithful and loyal Commons, than the promoting and advancing of your Majesty's true Happiness and Greatness."]
Sir Leoline Jenkins.] This Bill is of the greatest consequence that can come into Parliament, and withall, you are about to do an act of injustice, great and severe, upon the offender. But by the way I will offer something of the prudential consideration of it, but crave leave to enter my dissent to the justice of it, and the Oath of Allegiance I have taken to his Majesty. I will not offer to your consideration, that this Prince you are about to disable to succeed, &c. is the son of a King, a glorious Martyr, a Prince that has fought your battles, and no crime against him in your eye, but his being perverted to Popery from the Protestant Religion. But the difficulty I struggle against is, so great a desire in the House to pass this Bill. But I cannot satisfy myself in the Justice of this way of proceeding. What is essential Justice to a man in his Place? It is always essential Justice to hear a person before you condemn him. God, though he knew the heart and crimes of Adam, did not condemn him before he had heard him. It seems hard to me, that this Law against the Duke should come ex post facto, which is not only Banishment, but Disinherison; a thing strange in our Books of Law, that there should be two punishments for one crime. I observe next, that, by the fundamentals of the Government, how can you make a King by Parliaments? I have always taken it, that the Government had it's original, not from the People, but from God. Religion vests that veneration in us for the Government, that it will be much less, when we see it from the people, and not from God immediately. Several settlements have been made by Act of Parliament, of entail of the Crown, which still do assert the Successor; but no Precedent can be found, where a Prince in proximity of Blood to the Crown has been set aside. I do not know how to reconcile this to the Oath of Allegiance I have taken to the King, and so often repeated, which is always taken in the sense of the Lawgiver and Imposer. The Person is next in Blood to succeed to the Crown, and when I swear Allegiance, it is not only to the King, but "his Heirs and Successeis," and there can be no Interregnum in our Government. When one King is dead, the other next in Blood must succeed; and who can dispense with my Oath of Allegiance? All the Members of the House make profession of being of the Church of England. I am afraid the Church of England will receive a great blow by this Bill. The reason of one of the great beauties of the Church of England is, that it is safe and secure in the matter of Allegiance to all—Government must be either active or passive. If we are to defend a King made by Act of Parliament, as this Bill imports, that Law will receive a blemish, for we are not to do evil that good may come of it, if there be any good in the Bill ! But I know of none, and therefore I move to throw it out.
Sir Robert Markham.] If I could answer my own objections, I would not stand up. Suppose the Duke of York should survive the King, and have a son, is it reason that the Duke's daughter should have the Crown? And suppose the Duke should come back again to the Church of England—This gives me the boldness to stand up and make my objections.
Mr Goodwin Wharton (fn. 2).] I have not yet troubled you since I had the honour to be here, and should not at all upon any other matter. I know my own inabilities, in comparison of many abler and wiser men than myself, but I cannot be silent when I hear the Justice of the House questioned. If those things be true which are suggested in the Bill, the Duke has forfeited his life upon it. Passing this Bill is in order to our security only, and therefore it is just. The Duke has done his utmost endeavour to ruin this Nation, and to destroy us all. It is said, "that the Duke has fought our battles;" but I think he did not when he fell asleep (fn. 3). It was not fair in the Duke to let our ships fight with the Dutch, and to suffer the French to stand still. At the great fire, when London was burnt, certain men were taken, actually firing houses, and delivered to the Guards, who let them escape, and the Officer that set them at liberty was afterwards one of his greatest favourites. It was a sign of a very ill principle in the Duke, that, when the Duke of Monmouth was sent into Scotland to suppress that Rebellion, it was thought amiss by the Duke, that they were not all destroyed. I do not think that you will chuse a Prince that will not speak truth, to inherit the Crown. When Bedlow gave in his Information of the murder of Sir Edmundbury Godfrey, and accused one Le Phaire to have been one of the murderers, and one of the Queen's servants, I heard the Duke say to those about him, "There was no such man in the World, nor about the Queen." And within three or four days after, there was a Bond found, under his hand. A Prince not to speak truth ! I cannot express what to call it. This is plain, that the Duke did hinder the Discovery of the Plot. I do not pretend, upon my memory, to say more particulars; but is such a Prince sit to succeed? Never were worse things done, nor a worse man in betraying the French Protestants, by placing the French Ambassador behind the hanging when he made some overtures—
Mr Wharton went on.] It is not my business to make a Speech, but what I know, and think to be real truth, ought to be taken notice of. But since these things are so odious, I will not touch any more upon them now. As for the prudential part of the Bill, an Honourable Person near me (Jenkins) told you, "he would not speak to it," and he has kept his word very exactly. And whereas another Member before him objected, "That it was possible the Duke might turn Protestant," I will only answer, that I do not think it possible, that any Person that has been bred up in the Protestant Religion, and hath been weak enough (for so I must call it) to turn Papist, should ever after (in that respect) be wise enough to turn Protestant. And therefore, upon the whole matter, my Motion is, "That the Bill may pass."
Mr Hyde.] I am charmed very much by the Gentleman's reasons that moved first for reading this Bill (Vernon) as if he were not Protestant, nor loyal, that was against it. I take myself to be both, but am against it. I offered formerly Expedients instead of the Bill, which I thought might be more conducible to your end. It is not proper to offer any now, but to the whole Bill, why it should not pass. But I shall take notice of a Proviso offered, "That this Bill should extend only to the Duke, &c." I appeal to you, whether that Proviso be clear? If it be not clear, why is it not made clear? If the Duke outlive the King, and the King have Heirs of his Body, whether should it not be expressed, "The Heirs of his Body, lawfully begotten?" If you think it well enough expressed so, or if it be better as I say, I submit it to you. Another thing offered you was the words "Presumptive Heir of the Crown." (In the other Bill the last Parliament.) I would know whether the Duke be so, or not? I would be glad to be answered, If the Duke is not, who is? Sure never such a Bill passed before. There were several quarrels betwixt the Houses of York and Lancaster; but where there was an unquestionable Title, as this of the Duke's is, there cannot be found a Precedent of such a Bill. I take this Bill to be extremely unjust, let the fact the Duke is charged with be what it will. When the King was restored, it was notoriously known, who were the murderers of the late King his Father; they had all their Tryals for it, and were heard. This is said to be a merciful Bill, but it is not a just Bill; but for the satisfaction of my conscience, I had rather go the just, than the merciful way. You may take his head off, upon Tryal, if he be guilty of what he is accused of. I will not dispute the power of King, Lords, and Commons. The Act was made for the Perpetuity of the Parliament —Yet they were dissolved, and gave not their consents to it, Notwithstanding this Bill, Persons of Loyalty will adhere to the Duke if he outlive the King. If this Bill pass, it will be such an Act as the perpetual Parliament, and many a loyal Person, out of that principle of Loyalty and Honesty, will stick to the Duke. These are my Reasons. (I am, I must confess, a little out.) The Bill in itself is unjust, and may yet be of so much the worse consequence than without the Bill. Therefore I am against it.
Sir William Jones (fn. 4).] I am unfit to speak upon this great matter. I am a Member but of yesterday, and know nothing; but I cannot forbear, upon this occasion, to say something. As the Bill is opened, it is of great importance. I have as much respect for the Duke as any Person, but I must have respect to Religion above all things. This, of respect to the Duke, I will pass over now But the Question is, Whether a Popish Prince can inherit the Crown of England without the loss of all our Laws? It is happy for the Duke, that we go no farther then this Bill. It may be, we might take notice of our insecurity under him, and some other accidents that belong to him, since you proceeded in this Bill. It is absolutely necessary that you pass this Bill; it is far from my nature to inflict any severe punishment; but this Bill is not a punishment without hearing the Duke (as has been alleged.) We do not punish the Duke as a Criminal, but we are preventing the Evil that is likely to befall us from that Religion he professes. Jenkins made an Argument against this Bill from the Oath of Allegiance, as if we were perjured in maintaining this Bill. It is the first time I ever heard that those Oaths were to bring in Popery, but to secure us from Popery; and he urges much the point of "lawful Successor to the Crown." But is any man the King's lawful Successor till the King is dead? Nemo est Hæres viventis is a maxim in Jenkins's own Law (the Civil.) But when I take the Oath of Allegiance, that Oath did never bind to above one Person at a time. I am not obliged to any Allegiance till that Successor comes to act. Therefore I am not at all afraid that this Bill is against the Oath of Allegiance. As to Hyde's objection to the form of the Bill, "That it is strange," and that after "the King and Heirs of his Body," there want the words "lawfully begotten," he must know, that, in Law, "the Heirs of his Body," and "the lawful Heirs," are the same thing. But there might be an objection against the words, if they were in. It might be objected, "That the King might have Heirs of his Body, and not lawful;" nothing more plain. As to that of "Presumptive Heir, &c." I never in all my life, in Books, met with such an expression. Sometimes there is mention made of "Heir Apparent," and I wonder any man should call the Duke so, when it may be but a name; but the word "Presumptive" as Heir, it is the first time I ever found it. And as to the other objection, "That this Bill may fall to the ground, because it is like the Act of Perpetuity of the late Long Parliament," there is no reason for that consequence. There is no need of executing this Bill in the King's lifetime. Then only this Law is in force, after the King's decease. One thing farther is objected, "That if this Bill pass the Parliament, there will be a sort of "loyal men," who will not obey this Law:" I have a wrong notion of this word "loyal," if that be so. He is loyal to the King that obeys his Laws; and he is otherwise that does not. This is a thing that may terrify a man that understands not the nature of it. The other objection is not to be answered, because not weighty. It is for the benefit of the King and Protestant Religion that this Bill pass, and I am for it.
Sir Francis Winnington.] I find here is an imputation of Injustice upon us, if this Bill pass. This Argument should not come from an Englishman, unless from one bred in foreign Countries, where Popery and arbitrary Government are exercised. I would ask any man that does pretend to know History, or the Law of England, whether, from the Conquest, the best security for any Prince's Title has not been by Act of Parliament? You are told, "That the King's Title to the Crown is Jure divino." It is not Law, nor Reason. When there was but one King in the World, what became of the King of England? From the time of the Conqueror, William Rufus, King Stephen, and before the questions about the Title of York and Lancaster, we have several instances of settling the Succession of the Crown by Act of Parliament; and, in Cotton's Records, that the Crown has passed, not by Descent, according to lineal Descent, but has been settled as emergencies have required. It has been argued, "That this Act will want Power to be executed:" But will any man assert, that the Parliament has not Power to order, or dispose of the Government? Sometimes they have pared the Prerogative; but the Government is still the same; and I hope our children after us will enjoy it, notwithstanding this unhappy occasion of Exclusion of the Duke. The Marriage of Queen Mary with King Philip was settled thus by Parliament, That the eldest son of them should be King of Spain, the second son such, and the third son such; and in that Statute it was ordered, that King Philip should not be King of England for life, but during the Queen's life only: And why so? Because this Nation would not be governed by an arbitrary Prince, by merum Imperium, which was servitude and slavery; and this Act was still to keep our Liberties, and enacted, that the eldest son was to inherit. That was a great and a wise Parliament, that made it Treason, during Queen Elizabeth's life, for any one to say, "That the Parliament cannot set up the Succession, and alter it," and Præmunire for ever after. But as to the Injustice of this Bill, should that objection pass silently, it would sound ill abroad if that was not cleared. We are not punishing the Duke for an offence committed. This Bill is not to do a present wrong to the Duke, but to prevent future mischief. If an ancient family might possibly be ruined by the eldest son, it is not unjust to disinherit him. The Parliament does see, that, if a Popish Prince comes to the Crown, the Kingdom will be ruined; and if the Parliament have not Power to prevent it, it is strange. This is but preventing a mischief. The Duke is but a Subject, though in proximity of Blood to the Crown. If you proceed by way of Impeachment against the Duke, it is not just, unless all things against him are proved. But I would know, whether, as a Grand Jury, we may not pass this Bill, in our own conscience believing, that, else, Religion and the Government will be destroyed. As to what has been said of "the Act of Perpetuity of the Long Parliament," those Acts which are not practicable come to nothing. The King and Parliament is a Civil Marriage, and there cannot be a son without a father. I remember that great case of Sir Henry Vane, where he alleged, "That the King could not dissolve the Parliament without their consent." But if the King demise, it is dissolved of itself. As to that point objected, of "the Heirs of the King's Body only lawfully begotten, &c." in Law it is as plain as can be expressed. No man is Heir but the lawful Heir. "Heir Presumptive" is not to be found in Law-Books. The King's eldest son is Prince of Wales and Duke of Cornwall. "Presumptive" may be Heir, or not Heir; it is not near the Crown. As for the Justice of the Bill; we should not do our duty to our Country, nor Posterity, nor Religion, if we take not care of all these by this Bill, which is much more than the remote Right of any Person to the Crown. Gentlemen that have no children, may not possibly have that warmth in these considerations. It is terrible to me to think they shall be made Slaves and Papists. Let every man lay his hand on his heart, and consider it. If Popery come in, all will be lost. I have respect for the Duke, but there are degrees in things. I hope this Bill will pass as unanimously without doors as here.
Colonel Legge.] I humbly crave the liberty that other Members have had, to be heard. Though I am talked of abroad to be a Papist, yet, I thank God, I am none. And for an instance that I am not any, I will not pay that respect to Peter's Chair, as to deny my Master (fn. 5). I am sorry to hear the unmannerly Speeches of the Duke from a Gentleman (Wharton.) Many Laws have been made about the Succession of the Crown, but none without blood and misery. My father was twice condemned to die for asserting the Right of the Crown, and I hope I shall never forsake it. There has been a talk in the world of another Successor than the Duke, in a black Box (fn. 6) but if Pandora's Box must be opened, I would have it in my time, not in my childrens, that I may draw my sword to defend the right Heir. Has any happiness ever come to Princes, who came to the Crown, and the lawful Heir thus put by? After Edward VI, Jane Grey was proclaimed, but it proved unfortunate to her. If my Master the Duke be Popish, God's curse be on him that was the cause of it! I hope you will take a course, that misery may not fall on posterity. I have Church-Lands, and reason to apprehend Popery coming in as other men—I cannot recollect what I had farther to say; but this Bill will set us all together by the ears.
Sir Henry Capel.] No objection to this Bill has yet been made, but what has been fully answered formerly: But this is a new Parliament, and so the matter ought to be fully opened. Two objections, now started, remain. The one, " That the Duke has fought the Battles of the Nation." Let the Duke be what he will, he is under misfortunes, to be the Son of a King that hath maintained the Protestant Religion. There has been an acknowlegement for fighting our Battles. The Parliament at Oxford did an extraordinary thing; there was Money given to the King, but it was for the Duke, in acknowlegement of his service at sea. Legge tells you of "Blood and Confusion that may follow this Bill;" but I conceive that this Bill is intended to prevent Blood. What has been may be again. There has been no occasion, since the Protestant Reformation, of this kind. But in France Hen. III. did but declare the King of Navarre rightful Heir to the Crown; yet, because a Protestant King might be in a Popish Country, that Kingdom was not able to bear it, and there was, in the life of the King, a Rebellion, though the King of Navarre was able to raise a great Army. You see we have been patient. The Law of the Test against Popery was directed to the Duke, and he laid aside all his Commissions upon it, and, in 1678, you put all the Popish Lords out of that House, for refusing that Test, when it was enjoined them, and this was directed to the Duke. But what are twenty one Lords to be removed out of their House? There is still a majority to pass the Proviso to exempt the Duke from the Test in that House. This shows you, that the Duke is a Papist, and all this is done with peace and quietness; not as in France, when the Nation fell into a Civil War upon Hen. IV. being declared Successor. At a Court of Justice out of Parliament, the Grand Jury was dismissed, when Evidence was prossered as to the Duke's being a Papist (fn. 7), when great matters were presented them, when all our safeties were at stake. If Judges may do these things, neither the Laws we make, nor can make, will protect us. If the Duke, now a Subject, have so great an influence in the Courts of Justice, what will he do when he comes to be King! And yet all is quiet; but in France it was not so; there was a Rebellion, and Hen. III. was killed; and Hen. IV, as he was a Protestant, had no quiet; yet his Character was great as to War, great as King of Navarre, had great interest in Germany, and with Queen Elizabeth in England, yet made no shock with that Nation to keep him out. No Protestant can be King in a Popish Country. The English are of a quiet nature; but should we be so unfortunate as to have a Popish King, it would bring us all into Confusion and Blood. If this Bill pass not, all the Nation will be in Blood. Therefore pray pass the Bill.
Mr Finch.] I am against the Bill, and much more since I heard the explanation of a difficulty. When it was objected, "That this Bill was a punishment to the Duke without hearing him," it was answered, "Not so, because it was in order to the prevention of it." I would know, whether any Gentleman that had an Estate settled upon him would not call this a punishment? To a Prince, this is to him as a Civil Death, and to a man of Honour, and of the Duke's spirit, it is worse than Death. That Act of Henry VIII. was as obligatory as any other, and with limitation to another—And yet to affirm, "That a Parliament can be bound up in declaring the Succession," is on the borders of High Treason. When Edw. IV. came to the Crown, the several Acts of Hen. IV, Hen. V, and Hen. VI, were made void. That Parliament of Edw. IV. looked upon what the other Kings had done in Parliament as invalid; so little Right had those Kings. Henry VII, who had no Right to the Crown, and was of the House of Lancaster, was attainted, yet he perfectly refused an Act to reverse his Attainder, so little did he think that sit, who had no Act for his Title. The main thing that I object to, is the last Clause in the Bill. I will not dispute the words of "Presumptive Heir," but there might be other words in the Bill to make it clear, that nothing should prejudice the Heirs of the Duke—It is not said, after "Issue begotten," "Such a day," then it is clear for the Duke's children. This does not necesfarily suppose pretensions, but if there be any such setting up a new Title, not to make matters clear, is not becoming the wisdom of Parliament. The Princess of Orange is next Heir, if the Duke have no sons. Suppose the Duke survive the King, and this Bill disables the Duke to inherit the Crown, and the Duke have a son, and the Princess of Orange be in possession of the Crown five or six years; this son ought to inherit the Crown. Will you give the Princess of Orange such an actual possession of the Crown, and yet a defeisible one too? So that between the Right Line, it may be the cause of infinite confusion. I was in Parliament (though not of the last) when first it was moved to remove the Duke from the King, and then there was no thought to prejudice his Right to the Succession. In the last Parliament, the Duke was called "Presumptive Heir to the Crown" in the Bill of Exclusion, which did denominate him the King's immediate Successor. But in this you do not only exclude the Duke the Succession, but you leave it doubtful to his children. Lay your hands upon your hearts, and I am afraid, that, instead of securing ourselves, we shall gratify our enemies. All Acts mention our King, " King of France," in Ceremony; and I am afraid we shall gratify him more yet by our confusion, and putting the Nation into disorder by this Bill. It is the interest of the Papists to divide Protestants, that always some of the Protestants may be in their interest, as the Declaration for Liberty of Conscience proved to do; and the Papist and Protestant were punished by the same Law; and we are going about, by this Bill, to divide Protestants, which will gratify the Papists: Now that we have a Bill depending to unite them, I would not raise scruples, nor magnify them, but from what I have said, I would throw out the Bill.
Mr Trenchard.] I am unwilling to trouble you, after so many learned Gentlemen. I shall speak a few words to the Injustice objected, of "laying the Duke aside in the Succession before he be cited to be heard." There is a great difference betwixt putting a man barely out of his Right, and where there is danger that he will involve the Nation in misery. There is no more Injustice in excluding the Duke from the Crown, than in excluding the Popish Lords from the Parliament, and in forfeiting two thirds of their Estates to the King. But when a thing is pro bono publico, we ever step over private Rights. The King's Right to the Crown is by Common and Statute Law, and the House of Lancaster had three Descents by Act of Parliament; and as for Henry VII, notwithstanding he married the Heir of the House of York, yet he had an Act of Parliament for a special Entail of the Crown. Henry VIII. had an Act of Parliament to impower him to dispose of the Crown by his last Will and Testament; which he did, with several restrictions and limitations; and there was an objection to void the Will, because he signed it not with his hand. This Bill will be a security to the King's Person, and a terror to his enemies. There is one instance of a collateral Heir, (39 Hen. VI,) who was made Heir Apparent by Act of Parliament, for pacifying the Wars. Edw. IV. was declared as Heir Apparent, and the Great Lords swore to him six [times] after Henry VI. was deposed. It is neither safe for the King nor Kingdom to do otherwise than this Bill; and if you do not nominate a Successor, he may come to the Crown without Blood. And so may the Bill have an easy passage.
[The Bill passed, and Lord Russel was sent up with it to the Lords (fn. 8).]