Journal of the House of Lords: Volume 13, 1675-1681. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1767-1830.
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DIE Lunæ, 29 die Aprilis.
|His Royal Highness the Duke of Yorke.|
Epus. Bath & Wells.
Epus. St. David's.
Ds. Thesaurarius Angliæ.
Ds. Custos Privati Sigilli.
L. Great Chamberlain.
Comes St. Albans.
Ds. North et Grey.
Ds. Arundell Ward.
Ds. Grey de Wark.
Ds. Gerard Brand.
Ds. Arundell T.
Ds. Butler de (fn. 1) West.
His Majesty sitting in His Royal Throne, adorned with His Crown and Regal Ornaments (the Peers being likewise in their Robes); the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod was commanded by His Majesty to give Notice to the House of Commons, "That they presently attend His Majesty, with their Speaker."
L. Chancellor's Speech.
"His Majesty, having made a League Offensive and Defensive with Holland, and endeavoured to improve that League by entering into further and more general Alliances for the Prosecution of the War, hath nevertheless thought fit, before He make His last Step, to take the further Advice of both His Houses of Parliament, and resolves to govern Himself by it.
"And to the End His Parliament may be able to give a clear and certain Judgement in this Matter, His Majesty hath commanded that the present State and Condition of Affairs should be fully and plainly opened to you.
"The First Address to His Majesty from both Houses was upon the Sixteenth of March, 1676, wherein the dangerous Growth of the French Monarchy being observed, and the Conquests made in Flanders, together with the ill Consequences arising from thence, His Majesty is desired to strengthen Himself by such stricter Alliances as may secure His own Kingdoms and preserve The Spanish Netherlands.
"But this Address did neither desire, nor seem to intend, that His Majesty should so suddenly and so abruptly depart from His Figure of Mediator, as immediately to become a Party in the War, before any such Alliances were made.
"For this Address was followed with several other Addresses from the Commons, in the Months of March, April, and May following; all of them pressing His Majesty to hasten this entering into such Alliances; and One of them particularly pointing at a League Offensive and Defensive with The States Generall.
"And in Truth, as no Alliances could well be made till we had consulted with Holland, so no Entry could be made upon any Alliance with Holland until the Mind of the Prince of Orange were perfectly known; for upon him would depend much of that Certainty and Secrecy, which was absolutely necessary to bring such a Treaty to Perfection: But the Prince was in so great a Hurry of Business, and such a Heat of Action, that no Time could possibly be found all that Summer to enter upon this Treaty.
"And yet, that no Time might be lost, His Majesty did all He could at Home, to fit and prepare Himself for such an Alliance when the Time should come: He repairs His old Fleet, buys in necessary Stores for the Navy and Ordnance; and in this and other Provisions for better securing His Foreign Plantations and Islands nearer Home, expended a great deal more than the Two Hundred Thousand Pounds which He was enabled to borrow upon the Excise; and if He could have then prevailed to have had the Six Hundred Thousand Pounds compleated as He desired, the Expence of that in other Stores and Provisions, both for Land and Sea, would by this Time have given an universal Content and Satisfaction.
"Nor did His Majesty rest here; but He continued still, during all the rest of that Summer, to make all the Steps He could towards an Alliance with Holland: To this End He did, in the Month of June, send for His Ambassador Sir Wm. Temple to come to Him from Nimeguen, in order to his being employed to negotiate with the Prince of Orange, touching those Measures which were necessary to be taken for the common Safety; but the Prince's continual Action caused it to be deferred: And yet, in August following, the King appoints His Ambassador Mr. Hide to wait upon the Prince, and to know of him what Course he thought best to be taken as Things then stood; and to desire him, that he would either write his own Mind, or send some Person hither instructed with it, or come himself. The Prince was pleased to chuse the latter.
"By that Conversation with his Highness, His Majesty quickly understood to what a low Estate the Affairs of Holland were reduced, and in what great Disorder the rest of the Confederates were; they in Flanders totally desponding, and the People in Holland being violent for a Peace; so that there seemed to be no other Remedy or Expedient lest, but for His Majesty to try whether a Peace could be obtained upon reasonable Conditions.
"This being the main and principal Point to which the King had all that Year been earnestly solicited by The States, that is to say, in the Months of January, May, and September last, just before the Prince came over; and His Majesty had Reason to believe that such Endeavors would be grateful to The States, and took thereby an Opportunity to engage The States, that, in case of Refusal, they should enter into such an Alliance with His Majesty, as might enable Him to obtain His Desires by Force of Arms; for His Majesty did well perceive, that The States of Holland, whom He had so long found weary of the War, would never enter into any Alliance with His Majesty for the Prosecution of this War without a Prospect of a Peace.
"And, to convince the World that His Majesty was resolved to espouse the Interests of The States Generall to the uttermost, His Majesty (who could not but see that the Happiness and Prosperity of the Prince did very much depend upon the Quiet and Repose of those Countries) did, in the Time of their most pressing Dangers, give His own Niece in Marriage to the Prince; which Act alone was enough to extinguish the Fears of all at Home, and raise the Hopes of all that were Abroad.
"And now, to the End it might be known whether His Most Christian Majesty would consent to such Conditions of Peace as might be grateful to The States, and that such Measures might be taken as were sit, in case of Refusal, Conditions were prepared, and sent to Paris by the Earl of Feversham in November last; and in December following, the Earl of Feversham returns with an Answer very dissatisfactory.
"This ill Answer being returned, the King His Majesty hastened the Meeting of the Parliament, and proceeded to close up the Treaty with The States Generall for obtaining of those Conditions by Force of Arms, which could not be obtained by fair Means. And this is the League Offensive and Defensive made with Holland, and concluded in the Beginning of January last, which His Majesty is graciously pleased may be communicated to the Parliament, if they shall desire to see it.
"And His Majesty, at the same Time, and for the fuller Satisfaction of His Parliament, and the better securing of His Kingdoms in all Events, did further take Care to conclude another perpetual Defensive Treaty with The States Generall.
"In Execution of the Offensive and Defensive League, His Majesty sent to The States, to have the Number "of Forces by Sea and Land adjusted, and did agree what His own Quota by Sea should be, and sent over some Forces into Flanders; and had sent more, but some Difficulties were made on that Side, which His Majesty for the Friendship's Sake which He hath with them does not think fit to remember.
"The next Thing absolutely necessary to be done was, to have One common Alliance for all Parties to enter into, for the carrying on of the War, by disposing the several Stations of the joint Forces, by the general Prohibition of Commerce, and by providing against all Possibilities of any separate Peace.
"For which Causes, His Majesty appoints His own Commissioners to meet and treat with the Foreign Ministers: But, to the King's great Disappointment, it appeared that the Dutch Ambassador had no Power to treat, which made the other Ministers refuse to enter upon any Discourse: And therefore, to obtain these Powers to be sent, His Majesty, besides the repeated and pressing Instances of His own Ambassador in Holland, was pleased to write Himself to The States very earnestly in this Matter.
"At last, Powers come; but then the Ambassador wants Instructions, so that nothing at all could be concluded touching those Points which were most essential and necessary to be settled between us, and which the King hath never ceased to press for to this very Day. But hitherto the King finds, what He always feared, that the Dutch are making Haste to get out of the War; and are so far from disposing themselves to enter into any new Alliance for the more vigorous Prosecution of it, that whether they will persevere in the League Offensive and Defensive which they have made with the King, or to what Degree they will act if they should persevere, depends upon very many and very great Uncertainties: For they are at this very Time entered upon Considerations of accepting such a Peace as the Most Christian King hath thought sit to offer lately at Nimegen, though it be without His Majesty's Consent or Privity, and contrary to that League by which they stand obliged to Him to prosecute the War, till a much better Peace can be obtained.
"To prevent this, the King hath sent an Express, on purpose to know what they intend by this Manner of Proceeding, and to dissuade them from it, by letting them see that this will be as ill a Peace for themselves and the rest of Christendom as their Enemies could wish.
"But the King as yet can receive no other Account from them, but Complaints of their great Poverty, and utter Inability to be at any further Charge in carrying on the War. And the King is informed, by His Ambassador, that they intend to send over an Envoy Extraordinary to His Majesty, to beg His Majesty to accept of these Propositions, to excuse themselves for this, upon the general Impatience of their People.
"This is the State of the Case; and thus it stands at this Day between us and Holland, from whom we have little Hopes now, that they should ever so far enter into this new and common Alliance as to make it Quadrupartite.
"And now, upon the whole Matter, the King demands your Advice, what may be fit for Him to do in this difficult Conjuncture; and resolves to pursue it: And therefore desires you to take this Matter into your most speedy and most serious Considerations."
King to be moved to lay the Treaties before this House, and Lords to have Copies of the Speech.
ORDERED, That this House will take the whole Matter of this Speech into Consideration To-morrow Morning; and no other Business to intervene, until this House hath given some Resolution in this Matter.
And further it is ORDERED, That the Lord Chancellor do humbly move His Majesty, from this House, That He would be pleased to communicate to this House the whole Treaties of the Leagues mentioned in the Speech; and Copies of the Speech to be written out, for the Use of all the Lords.