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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Tuesday, April 1.
Mr Garroway.] I would have you declare them disbanded, and they are disbanded, and then see who dares head them. Till then, and till you have better security for their disbanding than you had before, I would have no thoughts of Money.
Sir Thomas Meres.] Whatever the intention was, the continuance of the Army was a great disadvantage to the Nation, and why they would not accept of the Money, the last Parliament, for disbanding them, I know not. I move that we may be rid of them now, whatever the former intentions were.
Mr Garroway.] I would declare that this Army is disbanded, but kept up to the oppression of the people. They have exhausted the Country, contrary to Law, and I hope you will enquire how the poor people have been abused by this Army, and show your detestation of an Army. Pass a Vote, therefore, to have this Army discharged, which has been kept up contrary to the Laws of the Nation.
Mr Powle.] The last Parliament, I opposed the raising and continuing the Army as far as my ability went, but as to enquiring into the miscarriage of the Army, I would not do it yet. I would not put them upon extremity. I think, if we had had no Army, we should have had no Plot, and the last Parliament thought it the prudentest course to dismiss them, and let them go home quietly; and then we were for punishing the authors of the counsel that raised them. There is great mercy to the Earl of Danby in that Bill now sent up to the Lords—And more persons may be come at easily. If that Bill pass not, I shall not in my heart go along with any thing else. For accounts of the Treasury, the Committee will give you a true report. Mighty sums have been struck tally for, since the Lord Treasurer went out of his place. Two or three days time will illuminate our eyes how things have gone, and it may be reported on Friday morning.
Sir Robert Howard.] I am for no Votes in this matter, and for saying nothing. One sort of people should have no reflection upon them, and that is, the common soldiers, who went willingly against France. Those ill counsels, that the Nation was never the better for 1,200,000l. expence; that thing, and nothing of a War, I would refer to a Committee, to bring it fairly before you.
Colonel Birch.] I am of the same mind I was the last Parliament. I would give no encouragement to keep up an Army contrary to an Act of Parliament. This will so far fright the people, that they who raise an Army, when there is no need, will scarce raise any when there is need. With all the fair words imaginable, I would part with these men. If the Plot had taken effect, the Army must have fallen to the next person upon the Throne, and he would have made use of them with a witness. It is moved, "that this should be referred to a Committee," but I know not what to refer. You are told, here are so many regiments undisbanded; this is no more than to take his word that brought the account in. When I was employed in these things, they were more particular. (The King's business is generally so done.) Money is given in a lump to the Officers to pay the soldiers. No man can say what is due to them, when the Country is paid, and that is well, and the Officer to have the rest. I was, am, and shall be, for using all the kindness to persons concerned. This Army was disbanded by Act, &c. in July last; now the Question is, whether you intend those that were added since then. Were they taken in when the King said they should disband? I would know the use of these men, whether all these men have been taken in since the Act for disbanding? Let them be recruited as much as they will, and they will bring it to you to pay. I would know to what day you will pay them? And then, whether you will pay their arrears to those taken into service since the disbanding Act?
Mr Vaughan.] The last Parliament was sufficiently sensible of the danger of the French, &c. and made Addresses to the King for War, &c. and all were rejected, and the Parliament prorogued; and with the same scandal next Session the French had got almost all Flanders, and then we raised an Army too easily, which now stands a terror to all our properties. Then we gave Money to disband them, and now the Army stands still. Let that objection be answered of the Act for disbanding, and what security we shall have, if we give our Money for the future, &c. It is said, "that now those counsels are rejected;" but you have a Precedent upon you, that a Law has done no good to disband them. But it is said, "we must not provoke those Gentlemen, &c." but you must declare, that there was a Law made for disbanding the Army to justify yourselves.
Mr Paul Foley (fn. 1).] If you refer it to a Committee, it is not fit for us to vote who are paid, or who not paid, but let the Committee enquire into it.
Sir Thomas Lee.] I would not rise so barely, without putting some mark upon this Army. If you do, you will never want an Army, for occasion to give Money. In the case of the Petition of Right, when the Nation was under great oppression, one complaint was, of quartering soldiers upon inhabitants of this Kingdom, and compelling them to sojourn, though they paid for their own provision. I really believe, that scarce an Officer or soldier, that were not Members of Parliament, but were possessed with an opinion, that they had absolute right to be at Inns and Ale-houses, and to pay what they pleased for their quarters, and that the inhabitants were bound to find them fire and lodging, &c. This arose from the misfortune of those times in which Cromwell governed by an Army; then they did it, and this Army thinks so too; here they are, and there is an Act to disband them, and they are not disbanded. I think the Petition of Right is invaded, and I think the least you can say, is to put some censure upon it, as you did formerly, &c. that the keeping up a standing force is a Grievance to the Nation, and to pray the King, that hereafter it may not be. Where an Army is a number of men, by what name or title scever you distinguish them, and the Law cannot govern them, it is necessary you take some general resolution, that the continuance of these Land forces is a Grievance to the Nation.
Sir Francis Winnington.] Take care of this now, and nobody will dare to advise such counsels for the future. But out of commiseration to the soldiers, I hope you will find some way to pay them; they are not so much offenders, as they who advised the King to continue them after an Act was made to disband them. Ignorance begets commiseration, from the severity of the Law. After an Act passed for disbanding, &c. it was a dangerous thing to keep them up, without new Commissions. As for billeting of them, since the Petition of Right, 1642, the late King declared that none of his subjects should have soldiers imposed upon them by quartering of soldiers, but upon reasonable prices, and the Inn-keeper is bound to receive them, but not to sojourn with them, half a year together. They are to be in hospitio only, not to dwell with them, whether they will or no. Now whether, will you refer it generally to the Committee, or give instructions? I think it better to give instructions. And, though not with reflections upon the Army, yet to consider, that after an Act of Parliament they filled up their companies, and did it voluntarily. You should be a little stiff in that point. I am for an indemnity, for many of that Army were troubled in their minds about it. Therefore I move you to give your Committee instructions, to divide such newraised from the first raised. The Army being to be twice paid, let us be as good husbands for the people as we can. I would have a distinct account of the first, and the new-raised, and put a mark of distinction upon them that durst presume to list themselves after the Act, &c.
Mr Papillon.] In the last Parliament we found but four dead, of all that were sent into Flanders, in the Muster-master's rolls, and to the common soldiers there was no more due, than to their landlords.
Sir John Talbot.] As to the men taken in since the Act, &c. I thought that to be a great fault. To put in new recruits, I thought that not reasonable. The Act said, "they were to be disbanded by the first of July," and instead of that, ordered August—And till the latter end of September my men lay by the water-side to be transported for Flanders, and should I not keep my troops full, I could not have answered for part of a troop; not with design to cheat—Would you have the man lose it, or the Officer pay it?—It is impossible to have an Army without some complaint, especially when there is no martial Law. (At which many laughed.)
Sir William Coventry.] I think you are about a good work in disbanding this Army, a thing long wished for, and has been long obtaining. When the Nation had no use of this Army, nor saw any, every man was for disbanding and paying them off. I think the Law has been broken by keeping them up, but I would not give an alarm to those who have arms in their hands. Be rid of them first. Here is a Law broken indeed, but not by the soldiers, nor the Officers; they act according to directions given them by the King, and there are Laws for hanging those who desert their Colours. I know not how they could get away, and seeing they had no directions, I think neither the soldiers nor the Officers to blame. Many have been utterly undone by them, and both Officers and soldiers bewail it. Now before you consider of the uttermost of what the pay will come to, the sense of the last Parliament was, that they should be paid in their quarters; but that they be discharged in the first place—And that was a prudent way. The soldiers could not help their being together; the blame must be in some other place; therefore I move as before.
Mr Sacheverell.] I see the sense of the House is, that the Army should be paid off, and therefore I shall not speak against it. You were told, the last Session, "that so long as the House would pay for the continuance of a grievance, they will never want one." But I cannot but observe, that a House of Commons is now got in fear of an Army, whenever that comes to pass—And now you are afraid of telling them it is illegal that they were kept together. The last Parliament were not afraid to say so; and shall this brave and noble Parliament? When the Blackheath Army was raised, the use of that was showed you here, and shall not this come under the same circumstances with that? That Army was not raised by Act of Parliament, but raised for the astistance of the French. Even at that very time, that Parliament saw the Articles of War, how that Army should be governed, and sworn even to what else should be. It was then said in defence, "that those Articles were applicable to the forces only which were to go beyond sea;" but they were for the guards here. One Article was, "they should burn no stacks of corn or hay without command from their Officers." Another, "Whosoever should violate safe conduct, the Officer should be subject to a Court-Martial to answer it." That tender House of Commons voted the continuance of that Army illegal, &c. and if you dare not say now, "that it is illegal, and a Grievance, to keep up any forces, but such as are established by Law," farewell all your rights!
Thursday, April 3.
Sir Henry Capel informed the House, That the Committee of Secrecy have been informed of a person, who keeps correspondence with the Lords in the Tower; the Committee thought it their duty not to name the person, till he be secured. I suppose it is in the power of the House, if the name of the person be given privately, to secure him by their Order, and then we shall name him.
Mr Sacheverell.] I am one of the Committee, and perhaps you may have another occasion for such an Order, and as for that Gentleman you are moved about, you may have him. The Serjeant is gone up to secure the passage; you may make the Warrant, and secure him immediately.
Mr Treby (fn. 2) reports, [from the Committee of Secrecy,] the Articles against the five Lords in the Tower. That the Committee of Secrecy had sat daily, and had made some progress in your com mands. There has been no more deliberation used, than what is for your service—And so reads the Articles of Impeachment—For which see the Report.
Mr Garroway.] The Motion is, "That there may be no writing, &c." It may be, a man has not strength of memory to recollect the Report; but for shortening the matter, till the resolution of the House be known in it, I know not what to say. If what is read of the Report be entered into your Books, and you deny a Member to write, it will be strange. If so, then it must not be read at the Table.
Sir Nicholas Carew moved, That Sir George Wakeman (fn. 3) might be added to the Impeachment.
Mr Garroway.] I would not prescribe the Committee whom they should accuse, nor put names into a list, before they know of matter against persons, and have it before them to accuse. Here is matter before you now, and will you not consult those Gentlemen, whether they are ready with their Evidence, or will require farther time? If you send it up to the Lords now ingrossed, it may be the Lords in the Tower will call for tryal, and you not be ready.
Serjeant Ellis.] The Committee did not think of Wakeman. He may be added to the Impeachment, if you please, but he comes in, in the words, "Divers others, &c." We have some Witnesses to send for, but we know not how they will come secure—But we shall from day to day go on; and you may cause the Impeachment to be in grossed, and the Committee will take all care to prepare the Evidence, and that it be ready; of which a great deal is ready; but if others are to come a hundred miles off, take your own way. I have no Order from the Committee to say this; but I thought fit to tell you what they have done.
Mr Hampden.] After the Articles are carried up to the Lord, the persons impeached must have time given them to answer. You may cause them to be ingrossed against Monday; and, I must say, it is as strongly framed as ever I saw. In the mean time, let the world have the satisfaction to see what we have done.
Mr Boscawen.] Those persons you impeach, do bring in other persons they have combined with (simul cum.) I would not have you order the Articles to be ingrossed, till you hear from your Committee, who are withdrawn above, and are examining Mr Redding.
Mr Treby.] If the House does command me to inform them of any transactions of the Committee, then I am discharged of secrecy. Persons named in the Impeachment are not there, for names sake; but for that, several kinds of men, of all professions, Cardinals not excepted, had a hand in the Plot. There is but one competent number of men named for general appearance, what they are. As for Wakeman, you may put him in if you please.
Sir Thomas Player.] You were told that but one Cardinal (fn. 4) was engaged in the Plot, but this is another; Ireland; [treated at Rome, by way of his Eminence, and treated upon the knee; and may all Cardinals engaged in this Plot come to that end he did! This I say for your diversion only.
Friday, April 4.
Sir Thomas Meres.] I am afraid that this good spirit of the Lords against Popery should recur, if you reject this Bill. It is objected, "That this Bill will hinder former Laws against Popery," but it does not; it is only, "For more speedy conviction of Recusants." We have new heavens now and new earth. We are not upon the same principles as in the last Parliament, when our hands were slippery. Here are better hands now. Popery for ten years together was a trade; it cost us at once 600,000l. It was said by a witty Gentleman, (Waller) the last Parliament, "That Popery was the King's meadow. We must not plough it up, but we may cut the grass from time to time." This Plot has changed that principle. This Parliament will have good Bills.
Sir Thomas Clarges.] I hope the Lords and we may lay our hands together for this great work. But this Bill of the Lords, &c. is only for subscribing a Test, &c. which any libertine Papist will take, and a conscientious Papist will scruple to take an Oath upon the Holy Evangelists. In my time, I remember that the former King sent not an Ambassador abroad, without a Chaplain. Nay, in most places, the very Consuls of Trade had Chaplains. And now Ambassadors have none to give the Sacrament, to the great dishonour of our Religion. Dissenters of late have been convicted as Papists, by that Statute only for Papists, and so very few Papists have been convicted.
The Speaker.] I must inform the House, that the other day, when you caused the doors of the House to be shut, &c. a servant of mine saw a letter thrown out of the window, into the Lobby, by a Member of the House, and the letter was taken up and carried away.
Mr Hampden.] The Printer has printed several examinations taken before the High Court of Parliament, and the Lords may take it from you, to apply the offence to yourselves. The Printer is in the hands of Justice, and that changes the case.
Mr Sacheverell.] I must acquaint you that the secret Committee are defective in some things. They have had papers from the Lords, but they are informed of a very considerable and material Letter of Lord Stafford's. One they have, but not that which the Committee has proof of. One of these Mr Justice Lane sent out of the country.
Sir Robert Southwell.] I was in waiting, when Justice Lane and Congreve sent up Letters, which were found at Lord Aston's, and I aver, that I never saw any of Lord Stafford's in those packets, but a short one of the 8th of October, and I know of no more.
Mr Sacheverell.] I did hear of such a Letter, and I acquainted Southwell with it, and he helped us to a copy of it. Since that time, I have written down to Justice Lane, and I have an account of another Letter of Lord Stafford's, which Lane has a receipt for, and will prove it.
Mr Swynfin.] Being in some discourse of this Letter in the country, an understanding Gentleman told me, "That in a Letter to Lord Aston from Lord Stafford was this expression: "The Plot is discovered, all is done, and I am going to give notice that persons may have a care of themselves." I believe that Justice Lane and Congreve will concur in this importance of the Letter. I have heard in some of the news-letters, that those very words were in it.
Sir William Coventry.] One end of this Bill is detection of Papists. The next is their conviction. The Bill has a very good title, a good name, and a good aim. I would give no grounds to the Lords to say we slight what comes from them, conducible to the same end we aim at. It is objected, "that this Bill is in favour of the Papists." It is true, it is to some particular men, (as Mr Huddleston, and those who were instrumental in preserving the King after Worcester fight,) the same as in another Act, &c. Their number and quality not being a prejudice to the Peace, I would not have it thought, that those men, who had the good fortune to preserve the King's person, should have less estimation in this, than in the last House of Commons. I would not have it thought, that we are so set, and so keen upon Papists, as not to think it possible that some should do such service—Possibly they abhor none of their designs so far as to discover them; but if the discovery be ever so advantageous, and we shall not dispense with these persons, for ought I know, it is as much as to stop their mouths from any farther discoveries of the Plot—New severities—though they discover, they are ruined here, and ruined beyond sea—I would not have that discouragement put upon them.
Mr Powle.] Whilst we are driving all the Papists into a net, let us take heed they do not all get out. As the Bill is penned, a single Justice may convict a Papist, and a single Justice may discharge him; this is one thing of great moment. The way to suppress Popery is to let it stand as single as you can, and not bring in others. Protestant Dissenters are not liable to the Law of Recusancy, to catch them only. The connivance of Papists has come from mingling; and Papists have been spared, and they punished. I move, therefore, that they may have a separate Conviction, as the best way to suppress Popery.
Sir George Downing.] It has lain long upon my spirits: Since the King's marriage, one part of Whitehall has gone one way in religion, and another, another. I remember, when it was proposed in the last Parliament for the King to marry a Protestant, it was rhetorically answered, "Can it be believed that the Defender of the Faith will marry one that is an Enemy to the Faith?" In the late Act of Parliament for the Test, &c. there was an exemption for nine of the Queen's servants, &c. and now it is justified by Act of Parliament. It will never be well, till you settle the minds of the People by a Clause, "that no Treaty of Marriage shall be for the future with a Papist," and so you will give no countenance to Priests to be at Whitehall, &c.
Mr Bennet.] The last Bill for giving the Test, &c. to the Lords and Commons, &c. was spoiled by the Clause to exempt the Duke of York from it, &c. But it is very well that the Duke is gone; and I hope he will keep himself out of England.
The Lords, at a Conference, delivered back to the House the Bill of Attainder of the Earl of Danby, &c. with some Amendments, for which see the Journal, together with the Commons reasons, why they could not agree to some of the said Amendments.
Colonel Titus.] This Earl of Danby is like a malevolent Comet, that does its mischief after it disappears. Therefore I would humbly address, for a Proclamation to seize him, for I hear he is about Whitehall.
Saturday, April 5.
Sir William Coventry.] When once judgments are passed, they must be obeyed; but we must make a difference between a judgment of Westminster-Hall, and a judgment of the House of Commons. If our judgments must be always Precedents, they must be the Laws of Medes and Persians, not to be altered.
Mr Powle.] A Recovery of Land, obtained by Writ of Right, is final, and can never be brought to a review and rehearing. Trespass and Ejectment may be brought about by another Trespass and Ejectment. This Court judges ex æquo et bono, and is not tied to forms, but substance of the thing.
Mr Sacheverell reports, from the Committee of Secrecy, Mr Reading's (fn. 5) examination, together with Bedlow's and Dugdale's Evidence.
Sir Henry Capel.] You have had an exact account of the matter from the Reporter, &c. It is now before you, what resolution you will take. There was great care and gentleness used to Reading, and the Committee gave him fair opportunities to declare the whole matter, and all reasonable arguments were used to prevail upon him. They confronted him with the Witnesses. It is under your consideration not to let the matter rest: A Conspiracy against the King, and another grafted upon that, to destroy the King's Evidence. The Committee offer you no opinion what to do, but believe that you, in your wisdom, will take some speedy consideration of it. I humbly move, that, there being so good Witnesses against Reading, he ought to be brought to Tryal speedily, and that all justice may be done to him, that the Nation may not be under this terror any longer; and that you will address the King for a Commission to try him forthwith; and I hope he will have judgment before the Lords Tryal.
Sir Francis Winnington.] I stand up to second that Motion. Since the House rose, I sent for a person, one Dr Salmon, who says, "That Reading, lying at his house for a month after Christmas, came late home at night from the Lords in the Tower, and would frequently say, he thought them innocent persons;" but there happening a difference betwixt the Doctor and him, he heard no more of it. This being a matter of so general a Conspiracy, and Reading endeavouring to subvert the King's Evidence, I desire he may be brought to justice, especially since he has written a Letter to the Speaker, "That he has matters of importance to acquaint the House with," and will say nothing of it to the Committee of Secrecy. I desire that his Majesty may be moved for a Commission of Oyer and Terminer to try him.
Sir Thomas Clarges.] I expected from the Long Robe, that they would tell us, what this fact of Reading's is in Law. I believe it is Treason in Lord Danby's case, trinketing with Bedlow. In assisting and abetting Treason, all are principals—By this means all your Proceedings are blasted, and they will go off. There is Treason against the Kingdom, as well as against the King, as I have heard some Lawyers say.
Sir Thomas Lee.] Clarges is mistaken. The Committee have made no proposition. What is moved, is only a private Motion from Capel. If it be thought fit, that a Commission of Oyer and Terminer issue out to try Reading, then it must be by prosecution of the Attorney General, according to the nature of the Evidence. He said, "he could come out of the Tower at eight, ten, or twelve o'clock at night, and none of the guards dare stop him." And he said, "Sir John Robinson knows me, as well as I know myself." I doubt not but Robinson knows why he had this liberty, or will call his Officers to account for it. Reading's discourses are all towards truth, and he said, "he would not have been the Counsel for the Lords, but that their innocence might come out." And I hope that, upon Tryal, Reading's will come out too.
Mr Powle.] I offer to your consideration, whether this Address, &c. is not too early. Reading is at present in no other legal commitment than to your Serjeant, for your Privileges only. And for you to desire a Commission, &c. to try one not legally committed—I offer to you, therefore, whether some of the Justices of Peace of the House may not commit him to a legal prison. And then make your Address to the King.
Mr Garroway.] Looking into the nicety of the matter, I think you may yet detain this Prisoner. I am afraid that all this trinketing of Reading is to get out of your custody. He has (it seems) friends in the Tower, and out of the Tower; but, till you can think a little farther of it, I would not have you part with him out of your hands. His great design is to advise the Lords, &c. and convey it to them when he is out of your hands. He cannot do it in your hands.
Sir William Pulteney.] It matters not, whether Reading be committed, or not, by a Justice of the Peace. The Commission of Oyer and Terminer may be issued out, and direction may be given to the Attorney General to prosecute him, whether presently, or till the Lords be tryed; as he has broken Privilege of Parliament. He is in your custody, and the Serjeant may take care there be no tampering with him.
Mr Vaughan.] Commitment is no punishment, but security in order to future Tryal. If he was at large, the Commission, &c. may go out—The legal custody he is in may secure him, till the Commission be issued out.
Sir Francis Winnington.] As to the having him remain in your custody, if you will proceed by way of Impeachment, then it is proper to be in your hands. Let him be where he will, if he be safe kept, we have undeniable Witness to prove the fact upon him. It does not depend upon his examination, but we have Witnesses. Let it be Treason, or Misdemeanor, the Attorney General is so worthy, as not to bate him one tittle. Whether it be one way of Tryal, or another, it is for the service both of King and Kingdom to have it expeditious. Therefore I move, to have you address the King for a Commission of Oyer and Terminer, &c.
Resolved, That an humble Address be made to his Majesty, to desire his Majesty to give Order, that a special Commission of Oyer and Terminer may be forth with issued out, for the trying of Mr Nathaniel Reading.