Grey's Debates of the House of Commons: Volume 9. Originally published by T. Becket and P. A. De Hondt, London, 1769.
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[Wednesday, February 13.
The Lords and Commons agreed "That the Prince and Princess of Orange should be proclaimed King and Queen of England, France and Ireland, &c. to hold the Crown, &c. during their Lives, and the Life of the Survivor; the Regal Power to be exercised by the Prince; and after their Decease, the Crown to devolve to the Heirs of the Body of the Princess; in Default of such Issue, to the Princcss Anne, and the Heirs of her Lody; and for Default of such Issue, to the Heirs of the Body of the said Prince of Orange." And they were accordingly proclaimed King and Queen the day after (the 14th) with great solemnity, both Houses of Parliament attending in the Procession.
Friday, February 15.
The Speaker reported, That what his Majesty was pleased to speak on Wednesday last to both Houses, (when they presented to the King and Queen their Declaration of Right (fn. 1) ) was to the effect and in the words following: "This is certainly the greatest proof of the Trust you have in us that can be given; which is the thing which makes us value it the more; and we thankfully accept what you have offered to us.
"And as I had no other Intention in coming hither than to preserve your Religion, Laws, and Liberties, so you may be sure that I shall endeavour to support them; and shall be willing to concur in any thing that shall be for the good of the Kingdom, and to do all that is in my Power to advance the Welfare and Glory of the Nation."
Monday, February 18.
His Majesty acquainted both Houses in a Speech, reported by the Speaker, "That the Condition of his Allies abroad, and particularly that of Holland, was such, that without some speedy Care they would run great Hazard. That the Posture of Affairs here required also their serious Consideration; and that a good settlement at home was necessary, not only for their own Peace, but for the support of the Protestant Interest both here and abroad: That, particularly, the state of Ireland was such, that the Dangers were grown too great to be obviated by any slow Methods. The most effectual ways to prevent these Inconveniences, and the forms to bring these things to pass, must be left to them."
Tuesday, February 19.
Mr Medlycott.] To prepare ourselves against any foreign Invasion, or intestine Troubles at home, there will be a necessity of raising Money, which must be done in a parliamentary way. And if we stay to call a new Parliament, it will be too late; therefore I move to turn this Convention into a Parliament. This being not convened in the Royal Name, I hope formalities will not be insisted upon to lose the substance. Resolving such an Assembly into a Parliament is not without Reason nor Precedent, both formerly and lately. After the Death of William the Conqueror, Robert being in Normandy, William Rufus, the second brother, was declared King, by a mutual stipulation betwixt the King and People, in the nature of Magna Charta. In the 12th of King Charles II, a Convention was called at that King's instance when beyond sea: 'Twas called by desire of the King, when at Breda, and after 'twas convened several Acts passed; some were confirmed by the subsequent Parliament, and some not; and those not confirmed were thought valid by the Judges. I infer from thence that the Subjects may upon emergencies meet as well as if called formally by Writ, when forms cannot be had; and move to have an Act to declare this a Parliament to all intents and purposes.
Sir Robert Sawyer.] We are to consider the King's Speech, &c. for a speedy Settlement of the Nation; and the only way to come at this is a free Parliament; and Money being the great matter to consider of, it cannot be raised without a Parliament. There are some Precedents spoken of, which, if they would at all come up to our case, I should agree to. What is mentioned of William Rufus is mistaken as to the case of a Convention. There was no Parliament seven days after he was elected: Lanfranc, Archbishop of Canterbury, and the rest of the Bishops and Clergy, were especially concerned in it, and by them he was declared King. As for the Precedent spoken of, of the Convention in Charles II's time, that Convention was originally a Parliament, and by the seal of that time called to meet in Parliament, and had all the formality of the consent of the People; nay every Act of Confirmation, in the subsequent Parliament, styles them a Parliament at their first meeting; they were called by the Government in esse at that time, and were returned as such; and to this Parliament, before they did any thing, the King signified his Approbation of their meeting; and when the King came into England, he called them a Parliament. There was then a King de Facto, and a Government de Facto, and by his consent 'tis a Parliament, and that gives it the virtue of a Parliament. The calling it one way or other alters not the case; but the single thing I insist upon is the People's consent. We represent the People to this special purpose; that now, upon King James's withdrawing, we are called hither to supply that defect; and we can proceed no farther, till a free Parliament with the People's consent be called. If this body may continue to act as a Parliament, without breach of Elections of the People, I should be for it. It cannot be done unless we break our Trust. Therefore as that of Charles II. was a Parliament by the King's consent, therefore I move that the King may be advised to issue out new Writs to call a Parliament.
Mr Boscawen.] I appeal to the House whether Sawyer be mistaken, or no, in several things he has said. I will say farther, that the People, who sent us hither, do not only assert the Goverment, but would have us prevent running back from whence we came; and now that we are got to the Top of the Hill not to let all fall! I have not contributed to invade the Liberties of the People, and am as far from it as that Gentleman. But that Convention which brought in Charles II. was not so much a Parliament as this Convention. A Parliament is nothing but parler le ment. That Parliament was called by some Members included, and some excluded, the Long Parliament, by the Seal from the Keepers of the Liberties of England; and then with such Limitations, that such and such were only to be returned, as if they were taking Tests; none that had been engaged in the King's party during the War, nor the sons of them, unless they had given Testimony of their Affections to the Government; which renders that Parliament as far from freedom of choice, as white is from black. And in the Bill for Triennial Parliaments, the Chancellor was of course to issue out Writs, and for defect of his issuing them out, the Officers of the Country were to do it by themselves; from whence I gather that their is no such essential thing as a Writ for chusing Members. If you take the Advice of the learned Gentletleman (Sawyer) to call another Parliament, and dissolve this, Ireland may be lost; and the King of France would give 100,000l. to accomplish it. I am jealous there is a Snake hid in the Grass, and that there is something more in this, than we see. Consider, if this be no Parliament, then you may suppose that the Throne never was vacant, and that 'tis now full; and how will you get a Parliament? And some look on the other side the Water. Upon the whole, I would consider the relief of Ireland, and to assist Holland, which has helped to preserve us, and take up this Debate for the present. No other design can be in this, but to put us all to stand upon our guard again, and fight out our way, and be upon no bottom: If we retract, and go so far as is moved, we shall be all ruined, and go back again to our misfortunes.
Sir Thomas Clarges.] I am not of Boscawen's mind. I hope I may say I never did any thing to infringe the liberties of the People; and though the wind has been in my face, Gentlemen that were never in the Parliament before know, whither this matter may be carried. In the two last reigns, there was making distinctions of Persons here; we were reproached that we voted against the King, when we gave our Votes freely according to our Judgments, and that, by these Practices, we represented but part of the People, and not the whole Nation. I meant no otherwise than that the King should govern well. I brought in the Habeas Corpus Bill, and what I say now is with my conscience and mind. As to what is now in Debate, I hope we may have a free-chosen Parliament in twenty five days, the formality of forty days from the Test of the Writ to the Election not being necessary. In the Assembly at London before this Convention, the proposition was, how the Prince of Orange might come to a free Parliament. 'Twas advised, that Letters should be sent from the Prince into the Counties and Boroughs, &c. in order to the Choice of a free Parliament; and I gave my Voice for it preparatory to that: And since it has been voted here, that the Throne was vacant, I am satisfied, though I was then against it. I question whether, upon this change, our Alliances do subsist against that great Monster the French King, who invades the Hollanders—I hope the Revenue, which is 2,200,000l. may support Ireland—When you met the 22d of January, and proposed that the Prince should have the Administration of the Government, you omitted one great thing; viz. to advise him to possess himself of the Revenue. I propose now that all the Revenue of James II. may be used by the King, and there will be no fear of running back from whence we came, as you have been told; but by not calling a Parliament, we put all to hazard, and that the Money we shall raise will not be paid; and will the Judges in Westminster-Hall declare this to be a Parliament? I sat in the Parliament of 1660, which had Qualifications from the Members, but they were not observed. 'Twas summoned in March to meet the 25th of April— Here was then a King de Jure kept out by wilful means—The Convention, in 1660, had Letters from the King, who recognized them a Parliament, and it was never called a Convention by the King, nor by any Act of Parliament; and the Acts afterwards ran "Whereas by Act of Parliament, &c." Lord Chief Justice Hale, who sat in that Parliament, was of opinion, it was a Parliament, and that they were under the trust of the People, and the Writs that called us, were not called "no Writs;" and if you make this a Parliament, you elude the Prince's Declaration, which says, "No Money to be raised but by Parliament." Can it have any other meaning than that Writs shall be issued out to chuse a Parliament; and shall we give occasion to say that the King enters into the Government by Prerogative, and our parting with our Privileges? It has been said, "How can we have a free Parliament chosen in time? The necessity of affairs cannot bear it." I can consent to an Ordinance, or any declaratory Instrument, that the Oaths and Test ought to be taken by Members, before admitted: And when a free Parliament shall meet, I doubt not but they will ratify what we shall do; and now, that there is a Revenue for the present necessity of affairs, and a new Great Seal now made to issue out Writs of Summons, who would put this upon a mere point, whether this be a Parliament, or not?
Mr Hampden.] I hope this Bill will tend to your Settlement. I observe, the Lords make it more frequent to read Bills twice in a day than here. The House of Commons are always strict to their Order; and I would not be thrust on by the Lords to hasten the reading this Bill. I move, that it may be read again to-morrow morning. [Which was ordered.]
Sir Edward Seymour.] I see Gentlemen speak here under great disadvantages. If they are not free in this Convention, what shall we do in Parliament? When Gentlemen speak with Reflections, and cry, "Hear him, hear him," they cannot speak with freedom. I speak not this to the Chair (the Speaker) who keeps Order well, but to what passed at the Committee. Shall you put it into the power of the Lords to lay aside any of your Debates, by sending you a Bill down? I would not remove Land-marks to Posterity. If you are-satisfied that this is not a pretended necessity, but really; not in name, as the Ship-money was made, of necessity, which disturbed all your Laws, I would have you leave the Chair, and go into a Grand Committee, for freedom of Debate, to establish our security upon a good foundation. 'Tis not four or five hundred Votes can do it; but to arrive at the knowlege of this matter, I desire to go into a Grand Committee.
Sir Henry Capel.] The Chair has taken care of Order; and I have seen no disorder to-day. When Seymour was in the Chair, I have heard "Hear him, hear him," often said in the House. Seymour says, "He would not have us tied up by the Lords to what they do." I take it, the Lords and Commons are to take care of the Government, and we ought to agree with the Lords as soon as we can. Had the Committee begun upon Heads, we might have gone on; but by degrees we are gone into the matter of the Lords Bill. Seymour told you, "That it was necessity that first brought on the Ship-money:" But it was the practice of ill Ministers and Lawyers, who turned old Rolls to ill Interpretation against the Liberties of the People. If ever there was a necessity to warrant making us a Parliament, there is one now. Are we in Peace? Is the state of Christendom in so good a case as we can boast of? Seymour tells you of "the Great Man of War." If you sit not here as a Parliament, the King of France will give Millions to make a Separation in the Nation.
Sir Thomas Clarges.] I am called up by what fell from Capel about Peace, &c. I hear no War declared yet, but I would put nothing to hazard: You may have a Parliament in three weeks; and we are better justified in that than any other method. The Revenue for the present will supply Ireland. We have forces already in pay, besides those the King brought in. I am glad to see so many worthy persons promoted to Dignities; and I believe they will preserve our Privileges—But as to the method lately taken, to make distinctions, and to be pointed at in Westminster-Hall, as one of the hundred and fifty against the Throne vacant; to have printed papers of men of one side and the other; yea, the Peers,—I hope the Gentlemen of the Council will prevent these distinctions.
Mr Hampden.] We are collaterally launching into what is not resolved on by the House; to talk of the Formality of calling a Parliament in less than forty days—But pray keep your own Formalities. The Motion to adjourn the Debate must properly be put; or put any thing regularly, and I will serve you to an And and an I. If you debate this, you would all day long debate what you resolve not, viz. Whether you will debate it, or not.
Sir Robert Howard.] You have already resolved to read the Lords Bill to-morrow, and then the proper Debate will arise that you are upon to-day. I have heard no arguments to-day to discourage the Debate. We are obliged to read the Lords Bill a second time. Put the Question for Adjournment.
Sir Richard Temple.] I hope we may arrive at all the ends that any Gentleman can desire. To-morrow, at the Grand Committee, you will have all the freedom of Debate you can desire; and I would not anticipate the Debate till it be regularly before you. But it is a strange thing I hear from Sawyer, "That we cannot speak for the Bill at the first reading," which you may throw out. Is it not a hard thing to speak against it, and not for it?
Sir Christopher Musgrave.] Gentlemen tell you, that the Question is, Whether adjourn, or not: But with great submission, I affirm, Reasons may be given why you should not adjourn. You are told, "When you read the Bill to-morrow, you have the same liberty as now;" but then your Bill is to be committed by a Question, and that is gaining the point. The point then is only agreeing with the Committee; but when it comes to the House, you may throw it out, or not. 'Tis a matter of the greatest consideration, that there should be freedom in Debate. Some men can declare their thoughts at one time; others are not so happy, but must speak oftener. If then it be necessary to speak twice, God forbid but a Gentleman should do it! But if not, no man here can believe you are inclined to make this a free Parliament. I would proceed to the consideration of the King's Speech.
Wednesday, February 20.
Lord Falkland.] The last part of the King's Speech ought to be considered first, as I take it. If we have not the power of a Parliament, we can go upon nothing. There are Precedents to justify the Lords Bill that they have sent us. We have great works upon our hands; as that of the Relief of Ireland, and to assist our Allies, &c. and the Nation is in an unsettled condition. The Lords Bill is a foundation for us to build upon; and I move, that we may follow the Lords example.
Mr Howe.] We have had learned discourses upon this subject yesterday, and Precedents were brought us. If the matter arise upon what is Law, I shall not speak to that part, nor what has been done formerly, but to what is fit now. I respect our Ancestors, who always followed the necessity of affairs. 'Tis unreasonable in a sick man not to take any physic but what has been prescribed him formerly. We are come out of the greatest tide; and, to prevent the danger, let us throw a good defence against it; but if we cannot make a perfect one, it is our malicious enemies that throw it down. The French King was so formerly, and our own late King, a Papist, now in France. There is a certain sort of Loyalty, called "Passive Obedience," preached by some of our Clergy, who would pick holes in our bank to keep out the tide. They say, "Necessity has no Law;" let us make one for it, and agree to the Lords Bill.
Serjeant Maynard.] I do not wonder that men are silent in a matter of so great consequence. On the consequence of this Debate to-day will not only be the safety of the Nation, but the Protestant Religion abroad. We make not a step, but we are told of errors in the method, still to put a stop to it. Here has been a great ado about words, "the Crown vacant," and "Abdication." And we have been told what the People were, and "that we must look to our safety" (by Sawyer;) but you are past all these; and now you are moved to make this Convention a Parliament; but I think we are one already. What is a Parliament, but King, Lords, and Commons? Pray read the 1 Chap. of 12 Charles II. When the King came in, that Convention, (or call it what you will) Resolved, "That, without a Writ from the King, they are a Parliament," notwithstanding they had no Writ from the King. 'Tis grounded upon the greatest Law in the World, the Law of the twelve Tables of the Romans: Salus populi suprema lex esto. All Laws must give place to that Law: 'Tis the great Law of all Self-preservation. Now read that Statute of the 25th of April. [The Statute was read.] When the King came in, the 20th of May, the Parliament had no Writ to call them. We sat here, before this King was declared, and we are so far like that Parliament. I shall hearken to the Debate, and give my opinion.
Sir Thomas Lee.] I would not trouble you, but that I find you entirely at leisure. Says Maynard, "You cannot make this a Parliament, because you are one already from the beginning." If nobody be against it, pray let the Speaker take the Chair.
Sir Edward Seymour.] If I were satisfied this was a Parliament, I would not go about to offer reasons against it. If I am put on that stress, to say my opinion, I will not justly move to exceptions. If I do not fully come up to their sense, I hope they will give me their pardon, as I shall do to them. If you concluded "the Vacancy of the Throne," I am concluded by it. For the preservation of the Protestant Religion, those ways are most prudent that are most legal and lasting. This Bill from the Lords began there; on Monday it was twice read, and came down here on Tuesday: 'Tis a great rarity, and much done in little time; and I never saw a Bill of so different a nature. It makes every man in as high a nature criminal as the Law can make it. You declare yourselves a Parliament, and the Law says, you are not a Parliament; and so we are all liable to the Statute of the Tests, and all incapacitated to sit here: And then those who were for dispensing with the Penal Laws, and joined in those things, you bring yourselves under the same capacity. I would have the Gentlemen of the Long Robe tell you, whether, if you declare yourselves a Parliament, you are not liable to the Statute. When it is neither legal nor prudential to do it, whether then is it necessary? That Statute, which Maynard mentioned, could not make that a Parliament which was none before. That Parliament had the consent of the King de Facto and de Jure; there wanted only the King's Writ of Summons. If they say, you were no Parliament before, what Record will make you a Parliament now, is no where to be found. The Law requires, that the Sheriff return the Jury of Nisi Prius, and the Criminal, &c. who are not always the best men of the county. Suppose the Bench impannel the best men in it, there is the Substance, the Judge, and the Bench, but there is not the form. Necessity is a great commander, but an ill companion, and a worse counsellor. And this House must expect, in other cases, never to want that argument. Some Precedents have been spoken of, to induce this method; one of William Rufus, (which is of no authority to govern you) how the Nobles did assist him against his brother Robert, who claimed the Crown; but that was no Parliament, nor had the power of a Parliament. The only Precedents mentioned are those of William Rufus, and the 12th of Charles II. They made not themselves a Parliament, but in relation to the Long Parliament that dissolved itself, and that done with a ne trahatur in exempium. When the people are called together, by such Writ as this, I am bold to say, there are no Precedents—It has been said, out of doors, this is by the Precedent of Edward III. I find that matter totally mistaken: Edward II. was driven out of the Kingdom by his son and his mother: He absconded, and by a wind was driven into Wales, and her son was Custos Regni. And the first Act of Edward III. does declare, "That, whereas the late Lord Edward II. by the general advice and assent of his Earls and Barons, had voluntarily removed himself out of the Realm, they declare Ed. III. Regent of the Realm." I would not, as other Gentlemen say, stick at Precedents, and think that you are as well qualified to make Precedents as to follow others. Yet there is no necessity to remove ancient Land-marks, and to let our purses run out at the back-door. Our condition is attended with many difficulties; Ireland is in ill condition, and we hear nothing from Scotland but uncertainty. The King of France has been the Devil and walking Ghost in every Parliament. What could you expect from Ireland? They will own no obedience to the Prince of Orange, but when he is crowned. They are so far from coming to you, that they are driven from you. The person (Hamilton (fn. 2) ) was so far from bringing them over to obedience, that he makes it his endeavour to keep them from you. I speak with good intention to the Protestant Religion in Ireland, which is in danger to be gone with him. Through all the course of my life, I had rather have unkindness than carry an ill thing about me. A great many Preliminaries ought to be thought of; you will not think fit that England should be at all the Charge to reduce Ireland: You know formerly there were Adventurers, and you may raise a great deal of money that way. There are two ways to reduce Ireland; present supply of Arms, and Money; but, if not, such as will preserve you, and master them: They will be masters of whatever you send, if you attempt, and fail in the attempt; and it will be hard to reduce it after. I speak this, not thinking there is a necessity for Money to carry it on. The present Revenue will go a great way towards it, together with the public security; and no doubt but loyal London will supply their Prince upon this exigency, and will supply fully, rather than let the work stand still. We are called as a Council, and may so continue; for we have no declared enemy, and are in a condition of Peace till War be declared; and there is none, and we have no League—Can we quire any thing to be done, before the King be civilly dead, and parties not in being? I speak not this to reflect on him that has done so much for us. I would not only have him paid the charge he has been at, but have England's bounty too to go along with him. England has done formerly for Holland, as Holland has done now for England. But I should be glad to see us a legal Parliament, that we may have the People's hearts along with us; and then we shall be sure of their Money. As a Council, we may sit, and represent to the King, that we are not impowered by those that sent us, and desire him to issue out Writs to chuse a Parliament. The Revenue last year was 2,100,000 and odd pounds; the expences 1,800,000l; a large proportion of it to the Fleet; many Pensions, and for Secret Service; I hope we shall hear no more of that: Besides the Privy Purse 150,000l. You have sufficient for all your difficulties, and need not turn yourselves into a Parliament for that. In the Palatinate War, you had a Committee to manage it—And you may have time to digest all for Ireland, and Writs may go out. In the mean time we may sit as a Council and this will bring us into no difficulties. I have delivered my opinion, and now do what you please.
Serjeant Maynard.] If Seymour speaks confusedly, I must answer him confusedly. He seems to speak with great reason at first sight; but, looked into, 'tis just nothing. I will answer him to what is material as well as my old memory will run along with him. "When we cannot have a legal Parliament, how shall we possess that which is legal?" He spoke of the Statute, &c. and Tests: The objection is true; no Parliament can sit here, till they have taken the Oaths and Tests: But, under favour, that will not come to our case; that Oath was to the late King, and now, what Oath can we take to a King out of the Throne? You remember what he did, and your Vote upon it. Can we swear still? I hold it impossible to take that. Oath, and that Act does cease of itself. I do not say we make ourselves a Parliament. But if this be declared a Parliament by a Parliament of the whole Nation, who dares say against it? 'Tis impossible to take the Oath of Allegiance, without being perjured ipso facto. I would have Seymour answer me, as I do him. Shall I swear to an impossibility? A man in a wilderness, and out of his way, asks, Where is the high-way? That Gentleman cries, Where is the Law? When we cannot find it, we must have recourse to the Law of Nations. Salus Populi suprema Lex esto. Says Seymour, "There is no necessity to make this a Parliament; there is no King, nor any declared enemy beyond sea:" But he that would destroy his own People for Religion, I am sure, is no friend of ours. Is he not an enemy that receives all that go from us in discontent? I would not have you entangled with a fine Speech; I hope we shall not farther dispute upon words, as we have done some weeks, but necessity puts us upon the best way we can take. All the event of this will be to make a difference betwixt the Lords and us. I will not say it is Seymour's intent, but what greater difference can there be than when the Lords say we are a Parliament, and we shall say, we are not a Parliament? There is a great danger in sending out Writs at this time, if you consider what a ferment the Nation is in; and I think the Clergy are out of their wits; and, I believe, if the Clergy should have their wills, few or none of us should be here again; and never any Popish Prince but would not only be the destruction of the Protestant Religion, but the Protestants must go to pot; as in France, Bohemia, and Hungary; and all by the instigation of the Clergy. What is a Parliament then? The Convention was not called by the King's Writs legally, yet were declared a Parliament; and you will not declare yourselves no Parliament, unless you are out of your wits.
Mr Eyre.] The matter you are upon is of great consequence; therefore I hope you will pursue those counsels which tend most to peace. The way to those ends is full of difficulties. I shall not meddle with politic considerations (with Seymour) but the proper matter now before you. The objections against the Lords Bill return upon them that made them. If we are not constituted a Parliament under these circumstances now, we may never have one in England more—— 13 Charles II, "No Members are to sit till they have taken the Oaths by the Statute 5 Elizabeth; and the Oaths not taken voids the Election:" Then all those Elections were void; unless those Acts are repealed, how will you ever come by it? Must not the next Parliament make themselves one by a Law? But if a false step must be made, why should it not be by us, whilst our wounds yet bleed, and not leave it to another body of men to heal, six weeks hence, and the wound past remedy? Being to build as of old, with weapons in our hands, as the Jews did, I would not lay them down till we have built in security. We are in an infant Government, if I may so style it; it must be preserved by the hand that brought it up. Are we sure our successors will be of our mind? Nay, the present ferment of the Nation, which time may quiet, may be so hot as to give up their own security. The present necessity is great, as great as the support of our Honour, Religion, and Countrv—Necessity abrogates all Laws. The Precedents of this, that are demanded, are not to be expected: 'Tis not in every King's reign that he abdicates the Government. As to the Precedents of Edward II, and Richard II, none of these come to our case immediately: Necessity-gave them a sanction; and where there is the same Necessity, there is the same reason. We are as full a Representative as can be had; by the call of the Prince's Letters, we have the best Representative of the People that could be had. Is the difference of a Writ and a Letter put into the scale with the safety of the Protestant Religion? We may pay tythe of mint, anise and cummin, and neglect the greater matters of the Law. Tares may be sown whilst we are absent; which to prevent, and bring forth Peace, so luckily brough to the Birth, I would have the Lords Bill read a second time.
Sir Robert Sawyer.] As to what Maynard said with reflection on the Clergy, I desire to take off that reflection. They have as great a submission to your Vote as can be. I speak of the Clergy of Cambridge. I had a Letter from Cambridge yesterday, (the place I serve for) which gives me notice, that they are very well satisfied with what you have done; and if they had time, they would have petitioned for a Parliament to be chosen; and I have authority from them to let you know they are to give Money to support the Government; and I know how to give my Vote. The Oaths must be taken, or else all we have done is void; therefore whether you will do it now like those in authority.
Sir Thomas Clarges.] I stand up with great trouble. As I am now advised, if this Convention be turned into a Parliament, 'tis the greatest disservice you can to the King. I would preserve both his Honour and Safety. If any thing be wanting in the Revenue, nothing can supply it but a Parliament. You may have a Parliament in twenty five days; 1,200,000l. may be raised for Ireland and Holland, all the charge of the Government, and for Provision for the Royal Family. We may spare a Million, if such a Sum be requisite, to assist us for the present, and for other things they may keep cold for a month. If this be so, we are not in such Danger as to fly out of the Window. Some things necessity has drawn us into; those are of the least necessity; but to raise Money is the greatest thing. I hope 'tis that the King expects from us, and that we are not trusted to do by those that fent us. If the Revenue for a month be employed, though War with France, an enemy to all Religion and Goodness— In the reign of Charles II, the Parliament did settle a Revenue on the King's two Brothers; the Officers of the Revenue told us, that it was not 200,000l. a year. A great man told a story, that a sum of Money was paid, and wanted a Crown; the party would have told their Money, but the other would not let him. They would not let the Committee then examine it, for certainly they would have found it more. Where there is a necessity to give, I will give as plentifully as any body, but let us do it fairly, and by full Authority. As we are, we shall have no credit upon it; when we come again we may be a lawful Parliament; and I believe the people will send you again.—A merry man said once in this House, "Some can stop and turn managed horses." As for the Clergy of London, they are as learned as any since the time of the Apostles. The Church of England brought us in Charles II, and stood constant in these last Tryals—I ever thought those laws too hard to press mens consciences—They stood like Apostles in Magdalen College case, which is remarkable— I hope the vacant Bishoprick of Salisbury (fn. 3) will be filled with one of that College. Salus Populi is suprema Lex, you are told, but if ever you break down the hedges of the Government—And properly we cannot agree with the Lords.
Serjeant Maynard.] There is only one Question to be insisted on, whether we are a Parliament, and what we shall do when we are a Parliament. Clarges speaks honestly, as I believe he thinks. As for the Clergy, I have much honour for high and low of them, but I must say they are in a ferment, there are Pluralists among them, and when they should preach the Gospel, they preach against the Parliament, and the Law of England—I did not speak against the Clergy in general. I hear no man that seconds Clarges's Motion; therefore put the Question for reading the Lords Bill.
Col. Birch.] I have heard a Debate of this nature forty years ago, and I stand amazed at it: I will not bring the Precedents of Edward II, and Henry IV, to justify our proceedings, but what I remember of my Knowledge. I hope we shall not fall under this Debate now, and not forty years ago, when we were under much harder circumstances, when any little words dropt then, about the validity of that Parliament, they were smiled at, and not worth an answer. When Oliver was proposed to be made a King here, that was laughed at then; and I believe this Debate will be so now. I intreat a little of your Patience; that of 1660 Parliament was not so clearly called as this. Cavaliers were excluded by those that had power to do it, and they did it. 'Twas called by Writ from the Keepers of the Liberties of England, that brought us hither. Then all the learned Gentlemen here, Sir Mathew Hale and the rest, were of opinion, 'twas a Parliament to all intents and purposes, and nothing of a Convention was spoken of; and to work they went, and very vigorously, and not one Question was made of the legality of that Writ, and that Parliament gave two Assessments of 60,000l. per mensem, before that Act came in to declare it a Parliament; but there was a great deal more done before the King came in, all the Acts that could be done that were necessary, and if one word was spoken against it, 'twas smiled at. That objection about the Oaths has some weight; but in that Parliament of 1660 not an Oath was taken: About six weeks after, the Duke of Ormond gave the Oaths to the Members, which was far from any Regularity; and at the opening that Parliament, there were not above eight or nine Lords in the House. There was a Fast ordered, and a Thanksgiving, and Conferences with the Lords, and not one word of questioning the validity of that Parliament; and now that God has done this for us, to make difficulties when really there is none, I cannot see them, from what has been practised. Now to show you the Consequence; for Money should you stay for another Parliament, if you get one in three weeks, a Plot may be upon you, in the interim, and then you will have difficulties still, and perhaps more than are on you now. And will you, by throwing away this opportunity, void all the blessings God has given you? You have, by God's providence, a King that denies you nothing, and now we would be scrambling again for Religion. I see a wheel within a wheel in these things. I would look on the wheel within my eye. But suppose another Parliament go on where we leave off, another Parliament (it seems) must have the thanks for what has been done, and not you; they must be the white boys. You have it before you, go on, make your Prince love you; but it seems you shall not do it, and a succeeding Parliament must make a fine hand of this work for you. When once May comes, it will not be pleasant sitting here. Many worthy Gentlemen formerly have lost their lives by it. Great Revolutions may be in one year—And you are lost for your Allies, Religion, and all you have. This over-runs all; think on this seriously, and go forward with heart and hand: God has done it all; let us not throw it down again. From the best of Precedents, that of 1660, you are a Parliament; you make not yourselves a Parliament. Pray go on and read the Lords Bill.
Sir Thomas Lee.] I think we are a much better Parliament than that of 1660. I would know where the Writ was then that called the Lords? Parliaments are not the same things they were from the beginning; they have had variations. Was not the Prince of Orange invested with legal Authority by you? And the returns of us hither recorded? If you are not a Parliament, how can you represent the People in a parliamentary manner, and then what becomes of your Instrument of Government, and what else you have done? The Laws against Popery, and the Test, were made when you had no prospect of King James's Abdication; and where were the Oaths of Allegiance, &c. when these Gentlemen went in to the Prince? I believe the People like you so well, they will either send you again or better. Clarges has told you, you cannot raise Money, and, at the same time, tells you, the Revenue may be raised for present use. We are told of relief of Ireland; and what next must be told? You are no Parliament, and you raise the King's Revenue. The King may search for his Revenue, and will find it no more legal than now, and no Oaths taken—I say that you are and were a Parliament, from the beginning.
Sir Richard Temple.] I shall offer something not yet touched upon. Has any man said yet we are not a full and free Representative? Formalities are wanting, you are told, but they are such as could not be had; your Elections were as sree as ever. No Precedent was ever of a sreer. In the Parliament of 1660, there were Qualifications for the Members, and the Lords were not called by Writ, and (a greater thing,) a Commonwealth called it, which was quite another Government. There was a time when Parliaments met without Writs, and King John's was the first called by Letters, as now, and nobody having showed any thing against the Authority that called you, I will not labour it. In Henry IV's time, the same Parliament was called again, and they raised Money. When the Assembly of Lords and Commons met, the Prince said "he would advise with them of the best manner to call a free Parliament;" and they advised him to send his Letters, Have not you done the greatest thing, and now stumble at the less? How you can justify all you have done, if you are not a Parliament called in as good a manner as could be, admits no Answer.
Sir William Williams.] 'Tis strange we should be here a month, and now question whether we are a Parliament. If we are called by all the power of England a Parliament, then certainly we are so. Taking it for granted that you could not have such a Writ as is usual, can you be better called? I am sorry there should now be such a Debate. If you say you are no Parliament, you immediately pass Judgment against yourselves; you make yourselves the greatest fools, and something else, and act like children; you have acted without call, and all you have done is void. It will be a strange Question upon your books.
Sir Henry Capel.] I would encourage and assist this King that desires to live with Parliaments. Leave him not alone six Weeks, but let it not be upon your Books that there is any Question upon this matter.
Sir Christopher Musgrave.] I think you cannot put the Question for the Chair. If you consult the Order, 'tis about nothing of the Bill from the Lords, but only "to consider the King's Speech." That is all I have to say at present.
Mr Boscawen.] I agree, we can take no notice of the Lords Bill at the Committee; you are only to consider the King's Speech, and I desire to-morrow you will go upon it. And when the Speaker is in the Chair, you may call for the Lords Bill.
Sir George Treby.] I am fully satisfied that you are a Parliament. For the honour of the House, declare you are a Parliament; though not for the honour of those that opposed it, yet for yours. If you consider the Prince's Advice, in his Letter, he described a Parliament; whoever denies us to be a Parliament, denies there is either King, or Lords, and Commons. Declare yourselves one, and you will do yourselves right, and defeat the designs of your Enemies.
Mr Godolphin.] I am sorry to differ from several in this great Assembly. I have heard it said, "If this be not a Parliament originally, we cannot make ourselves one." I believe those who sent me hither, have given me no such Authority. I believe we are well chosen, but only for a particular purpose; which purpose we have accomplished. I am afraid, if Gentlemen look into the Returns by which they sit, they will find they have no such form as the old Returns, [and reads his own Return] which is thus, "according to the annexed Order and Letter," which is in order to call a free and legal Parliament. If the Gentlemen of the Robe will give it under their hands that this is a Parliament, I will agree; (the Crown, I believe, is worthily placed) but if I am not satisfied in my Conscience and Judgment that this is a Parliament, I must be excused for my Negative. To have every body well satisfied, your best way is to fasten the King by a legal Parliament. Before you leave the Chair, put a Question to establish the Revenue; and that the King may have power to charge it for present Emergency, sit and prepare Matters for another Parliament.
Sir George Treby.] The main thing that sticks with this Gentleman, Godolphin, is the Authority of his Borough, and Sawyer had his Authority by last night's post (fn. 4). If Godolphin will let me read that part of his Return he has not, if it imports he is a Member of Parliament, he is one, though possibly, he was not so sensible of it before. [He reads the Words in English, translated, in the Return] Here is the plainest Authority to chuse the Member by the Letter, and all Authority contained in the Return that can be, and I hope this Gentleman will now concur.
Sir Robert Howard.] One thing has been omitted; we are all for a Parliament, and yet speak against it. All would have us be doing with Money. And if Godolphin's Borough sent him to treat about Money, and we are not a Parliament, he has the largest Commission I ever heard of.