Grey's Debates of the House of Commons: Volume 8. Originally published by T. Becket and P. A. De Hondt, London, 1769.
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Monday, March 28.
The Bill for excluding the Duke of York, &c. was read the first time.
Sir Leoline Jenkins.] This Bill before you is very extraordinary. There was never the like before in Parliament. No Bill was ever offered in Parliament so much against the Justice of the Nation. Here is a great Prince condemned before he is heard. Next, it is ex post facto, very extraordinary, and against the Justice of the Nation; and not only so, but against the Wisdom of the Nation too; for it will introduce a change in the Government. If the Duke should try to cut this Law with his sword, and he should overcome, the same Power that can set aside this Law will set aside all Laws both of our Religion and Property; the Power will be in the hands of a Conqueror, and he will certainly change the Government. This is against the Religion of the Nation. We ought to pay obedience to our Governors, whether good or bad, be they ever so faulty or criminal. Heathen Princes were obeyed by Christians in licitis et honestis. And we are not to do evil that good may come of it, or for any prospect of good. One word more: This Bill is against the Oaths of the Nation, the Oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy. We are bound by those Oaths, in the eye of the Law, to the Duke, and I am consequentially sworn to him. Every Oath is to be taken in the sense of the Lawgiver; and if this Bill pass into a Law, who can dispense with me from that Oath to the King? Possibly I am too tedious, and not willingly heard. This Bill is against our Religion, against the Government and Wisdom of the Nation; and I hope you will throw it out. (Jenkins's Argument being the same with that of the last Parliament, which was then fully answered, passed off without notice.)
Mr Bennet.] Jenkins moved to throw out this Bill, and that he might be heard patiently. Nobody, it seems, seconds him; therefore pray let him go on.
The Bill was ordered to be read a second time [next day, in a full House.]
Sir William Jones.] As to the Votes you passed on Saturday, upon occasion of the Lords rejecting your Impeachment against Fitzharris, because there has been discourse of them in the Town, and I believe will be, in time, in the Nation, though what has been done will be made good, let us give all men satisfaction that we are in the right. Amongst our other misfortunes, in this Place we are far from Records and Books, and so it will not be easy to prepare ourselves to argue this. But according to the little I have looked into this matter, I find that it is the undeniable Right of the Commons to bring Impeachments in Parliament not only against Lords but Commoners; and Magna Charta says not only that Subjects shall be tryed per Judicium Parium Suorum, but per Legem Terræ. And Tryal in Parliament is Lex Terræ. I have heard of a Record of 4 Edward III, where when a Lord, the Earl of March——
The Black-Rod knocked at the Door, and gave notice that the King commanded the attendance of the House immediately in the House of Lords,
The House went up accordingly; where his Majesty dissolved this Parliament (fn. 1).