Journal of the House of Lords: Volume 12, 1666-1675. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1767-1830.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
DIE Martis, 3 die Decembris.
Message to H. C. with Sir C. Stanley's Bill.
Report concerning Trade between England and Scotland.
Message from H. C. with a Bill.
A Message was brought from the House of Commons, by Sir John Brampston Knight and others; who brought up an Act, intituled, "An Act for settling the Lands therein mentioned upon Sir Richard Wiseman and John Plott and their Heirs, to enable them the better to perform a Trust;" to which their Lordships Concurrence is desired.
E. of Clarendon's Address and Petitions.
"I cannot express the insupportable Trouble and Grief of Mind I sustain, under the Apprehension of being misrepresented to your Lordships, and when I hear how much of your Lordships Time hath been spent upon the Mention of me, as it is attended with more public Consequences, and of the Differences in Opinion which have already, or may probably arise, between your Lordships and the Honourable House of Commons, whereby the great and weighty Affairs of the Kingdom may be obstructed in a Time of so general a Dissatisfaction. I am very unfortunate to find myself to suffer so much under Two very disadvantageous Reflections, which are in no Degree applicable to me:
"The First, from the Greatness of my Estate and Fortune, collected and made in so few Years; which, if it be proportionable to what is reported, may very reasonably cause my Integrity to be suspected.
"The Second, That I have been the sole Manager, and chief Minister, in all the Transactions of State, since the King's Return into England, to August last; and therefore that all Miscarriages and Misfortunes ought to be imputed to me, and to my Counsels.
"Concerning my Estate, your Lordships will not believe that, after Malice and Envy hath been so inquisitive and so sharp-sighted, I will offer any Thing to your Lordships but what is exactly true. And I do assure your Lordships, in the First Place, that, excepting from the King's Bounty, I have never received or taken One Penny, but what was generally understood to be the just and lawful Perquisites of my Office, by the constant Practice of the best Times, which I did in my own Judgement conceive to be that of my Lord Coventry, and my Lord Elsmere; the Practice of which I constantly observed, although the Office in both their Times was lawfully worth Double to what it was to me, and I believe now is: That all the Courtesies and Favours which I have been able to obtain from the King for other Persons, in Church or State, or in Westminster Hall, have never been worth me Five Pounds; so that, your Lordships may be confident, I am as innocent from Corruption as from any disloyal Thought, which, after near Thirty Years Service of the Crown in some Difficulties and Distresses, I did never suspect would have been objected to me in my Age. And I do assure your Lordships, and shall make it very manifest, that the several Sums of Money, and some Parcels of Land, which His Majesty hath bountifully bestowed upon me since His Return into England, are worth more than all I have amounts to, so far I am from advancing my Estate by any indirect Means. And though this Bounty of His Majesty hath very far exceeded my Merit, or my Expectation; yet some others have been as fortunate at least in the same Bounty, who had as small Pretences to it, and have no great Reason to envy my Condition.
"Concerning the other Imputation, of the Credit and Power of being Chief Minister, and so causing all to be done that I had a Mind to; I have no more to say, than that I had the good Fortune to serve a Master of a very great Judgement and Understanding, and to be always joined with Persons of great Ability and Experience, without whose Advice and Concurrence never any Thing hath been done.
"Before His Majesty's coming into England, He was constantly attended by the then Marquis of Ormond, the late Lord Culpepper, and Mr. Secretary Nicholas, who were equally trusted with myself; and without whose joint Advice and Concurrence, when they were all present (as some of them always were), I never gave any Counsel.
"As soon as it pleased God to bring His Majesty into England, He established His Privy Council; and shortly, out of them, a Number of Honourable Persons of great Reputation, who for the most Part are still alive, as a Committee for Foreign Affairs, and Consideration of such Things as in the Nature of them required much Secrecy; and with these Persons He vouchsased to join me: And I am confident this Committee never transacted any Thing of Moment, His Majesty being always present, without presenting the same first to the Council Board; and I must appeal to them concerning my Carriage, and whether we were not all of One Mind in all Matters of Importance.
"For more than Two Years, I never knew any Difference in the Councils, or that there were any Complaints in the Kingdom, which I wholly impute to His Majesty's great Wisdom, and the entire Concurrence of His Counsellors, without the Vanity of assuming any Thing to myself; and therefore I hope I shall not be singly charged with any Thing that hath since fallen out amiss. But, from the Time that Mr. Secretary Nicholas was removed from his Place, there were great Alterations; and whosoever knows any Thing of the Court, or Councils, know well how much my Credit hath since that Time been diminished, though His Majesty graciously vouchsased still to hear my Advice in most of His Affairs: Nor hath there been, from that Time to this, above One or Two Persons brought to the Council, or preferred to any considerable Office in the Court, who have been of my intimate Acquaintance, or suspected to have any Kindness for me, and most of them notoriously known to have been very long my Enemies, and of different Judgements and Principles from me both in Church and State, and who have taken all Opportunities to lessen my Credit with the King, and with all other Persons, by misrepresenting and misreporting all that I said or did, and persuading Men that I had done them some Prejudice with His Majesty, or crossed them in some of their Pretensions, though His Majesty's Goodness and Justice was such, that it made little Impression upon Him.
"In my humble Opinion, the great Misfortunes of the Kingdom have proceeded from the War, to which it is notoriously known that I was always most averse; and may without Vanity say, I did not only foresee, but did declare, the Mischiefs we should run into by entering into a War, before any Alliances made with the Neighbour Princes. And, that it may not be imputed to His Majesty's Want of Care, or the Negligence of His Counsellors, that no such Alliances were entered into, I must take the Boldness to say, that His Majesty left nothing unattempted in order thereunto; and knowing very well that France resolved to begin a War upon Spaine as soon as His Catholic Majesty should depart this World, which being much sooner expected by them, they had in the Two Winters before been at great Charge in providing plentiful Magazines of all Provisions upon the Frontiers, that they might be ready for the War; His Majesty used all possible Means to prepare and dispose the Spanyard to that Apprehension, offering His Friendship to that Degree as might be for the Security and Benefit of both Crowns: But Spayne, flattering itself with an Opinion that France would not break with them, at least that they would not give them any Cause by administering Matter of Jealousy to them, never made any real Approach towards a Friendship with His Majesty; but, both by their Ambassadors here, and to His Majesty's Ambassador at Madrid, always insisted as Preliminaries upon the giving up of Dunkirque, Tangier, and Jamaica.
"Though France had an Ambassador here, to whom a Project for a Treaty was offered, and the Lord Holles, His Majesty's Ambassador at Paris, used all Endeavours to pursue and prosecute the said Treaty; yet it was quickly discerned, that the principal Design of France was, to draw His Majesty into such a nearer Alliance as might advance their Designs, without which they had no Mind to enter into the Treaty proposed. And this was the State of Affairs when the War was entered into with the Dutch; from which Time, neither Crown much considered the making of an Alliance with England.
"As I did from my Soul abhor the entering into this War, so I never presumed to give any Advice or Counsel for the Way of managing it, but by opposing many Propositions which seemed to the late Lord Treasurer and myself to be unreasonable; as the Payment of the Seamen by Tickets, and many other Particulars which added to the Expence.
"My Enemies took all Occasions to inveigh against me, and making Friendship with others, out of the Council, of more licentious Principles, and who knew well enough how much I disliked and complained of the Liberty they took to themselves, of reviling all Councils and Counsellors, and turning all Things serious and sacred into Ridicule. They took all Ways imaginable to render me ingrateful to all Sorts of Men (whom I shall be compelled to name in my Defence); persuading those who miscarried in any of their Designs, that it was the Chancellor's Doing, whereof I never knew any Thing: However, they could not withdraw the King's Favour from me, who was still pleased to use my Service with others; nor was there ever any Thing done, but upon the joint Advice of at least the major Part of those who were consulted with. And as His Majesty commanded my Service in the late Treaties, so I never gave the least Advice in private; nor wrote One Letter to any Person, in either of those Negotiations, but upon the Advice of the Council, and after it was read in Council, or at least by the King Himself, and some other. And if I prepared any Instructions or Memorials, it was by the King's Command, and the Request of the Secretaries, who desired my Assistance; nor was it any Wish of my own, that any Ambassador should give me an Account of the Transactions, but to the Secretaries, with whom I was always ready to advise: Nor am I conscious to myself of having ever given Advice that hath proved mischievous or inconvenient to His Majesty; and I have been so far from being the sole Manager of Affairs, that I have not in the whole last Year been above Twice with His Majesty in any Room alone, and very seldom in the Two or Three Years preceding; and since the Parliament at Oxford, it hath been very visible that my Credit hath been very little, and that very few Things have been hearkened to which have been proposed by me, but contradicted eo Nomine because proposed by me.
"I most humbly beseech your Lordships to remember the Office and Trust I had for Seven Years; in which, in Discharge of my Duty, I was obliged to stop and obstruct many Mens Pretences, and to refuse to set the Seal to many Pardons, and other Grants, which would have been profitable to those who procured them; and many whereof, upon my Representation to His Majesty, were for ever stopped, which naturally have raised many Enemies to me: And my frequent concurring, upon the Desires of the late Lord Treasurer, with whom I had the Honour to have a long and fast Friendship to his Death, in representing several Excesses and Exorbitancies, the Yearly Issues so far exceeding the Revenue, provoked many Persons concerned, of great Power and Credit, to do me all the ill Offices they could: And yet I may faithfully say, That I never meddled with any Part of the Revenue, or the Administration of it, but when I was desired by the late Lord Treasurer to give him my Assistance and Advice (having had the Honour formerly to serve the Crown as Chancellor of the Exchequer), which was for the most Part in His Majesty's Presence; nor have I ever been in the least Degree concerned in Point of Profit in the letting any Part of His Majesty's Revenue, nor have ever treated or debated it but in His Majesty's Presence, in which my Opinion concurred always with the major Part of the Counsellors who were present.
"All which, upon Examination, will be made manifest to your Lordships; how much soever my Integrity is blasted by the Malice of those who, I am confident, do not believe themselves. Nor have I in my Life, upon all the Treaties, or otherwise, received the Value of One Shilling from all the Kings and Princes in the World (except the Books of the Louvre Print sent me by the Chancellor of France by that King's Direction) but from my own Master, to whose entire Service, and to the Good and Welfare of my Country, no Man's Heart was ever more devoted.
"This being my present Condition, I do most humbly beseech your Lordships to retain a favourable Opinion of me; and to believe me to be innocent from those soul Aspersions, until the contrary shall be proved; which, I am sure, can never be by any Men worthy to be believed. And, since the Distempers of the Time, and the Differences between the Two Houses in the present Debate, with the Power and Malice of my Enemies (who give out that they shall prevail with His Majesty to prorogue or dissolve His Parliament in Displeasure, and threaten to expose me to the Rage and Fury of the People), may make me be looked upon as the Cause which obstructs the King's Service, and the Unity and Peace of the Kingdom, I most humbly beseech your Lordships, That I may not forfeit your Lordships Favour and Protection, by withdrawing myself from so powerful a Persecution, in Hope that I may be able, by such Withdrawing, hereafter to appear and make my Defence, when His Majesty's Justice (to which I shall always submit) may not be obstructed or controlled by the Power and Malice of those who have sworn my Destruction.