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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Anno 31 Caroli Secundi.
DIE Jovis, sexto die Martii, 167 8/9, Anno Regni Serenissimi Domini Nostri Caroli Secundi, Dei Gratia, Angliæ, Scociæ, Franciæ, et Hiberniæ, Regis, Fidei Defensoris, &c. Tricesimo primo; quo die inchoat. hoc præsens Parliamentum.
"I meet you here with the most earnest Desire that Man can have to unite the Minds of all My Subjects, both to Me, and to one another. And I resolve it shall be your Faults, if the Success be not suitable to my Desires. I have done many great Things already in order to that End; as, the Exclusion of the Popish Lords from their Seats in Parliament; the Execution of several Men, both upon the Score of the Plot, and of the Murder of Sir Edmond-berry Godfrey: And it is apparent that I have not been idle in prosecuting the Discovery of both, as much further as hath been possible in so short a Time.
"I have disbanded as much of the Army as I could get Money to do; and I am ready to disband the rest, so soon as you shall reimburse what they have cost Me, and will enable Me to pay off the Remainder: And, above all, I have commanded My Brother to absent himself from Me, because I would not leave the most Malicious Men Room to say, I had not removed all Causes which could be pretended to influence Me towards Popish Counsels.
"Besides that End of Union which I aim at (and which I wish could be extended to Protestants abroad, as well as at Home), I propose, by this last great Step I have made, to discern whether Protestant Religion and the Peace of the Kingdom be as truly aimed at by others, as they are really intended by Me; for, if they be, you will employ your Time upon the great Concerns of the Nation, and not be drawn to promote private Animosities, under Pretences of the Public; your Proceedings will be calm and peaceable, in order to those good Ends I have recommended to you; and you will curb the Motions of any unruly Spirits, which would endeavour to disturb them. I hope there will be none such amongst you; because there can be no Man, that must not see how fatal Differences amongst ourselves are like to be at this Time, both at Home and Abroad.
"I have not been wanting to give Orders for putting all the present Laws in Execution against Papists; and I am ready to join in the making such further Laws as may be necessary for securing of the Kingdom against Popery.
"I must desire your Assistance also in Supplies, both for disbanding the Army (as I have already told you) and for paying that Part of the Fleet which hath been provided for by Parliament but till the Fifth of June last; as also that Debt for Stores which was occasioned by the Poll Bill's falling short of the Sum which that Act gave Credit for.
"I must necessarily recommend to you likewise the discharging of those Anticipations which are upon My Revenue, and which I have commanded to be laid before you; and I have just Cause to desire such an Increase of the Revenue itself, as might make it equal to My necessary Expenses: But, by reason of those other Supplies which are absolutely necessary at this Time, I am contented to struggle with that Difficulty a while longer; expecting for the present, only to have the additional Duties upon Customs and Excise to be prolonged to Me; and that you will some Way make up the Loss I sustain by the Prohibition of French Wines and Brandy, which turns only to My Prejudice, and to the great Advantage of the French.
"I must needs put you in Mind, how necessary it will be to have a good Strength at Sea this Summer, since our Neighbours are making Naval Preparations; and, notwithstanding the great Difficulties I labour under, I have taken such Care as will prevent any Danger which can threaten us, if your Parts be performed in Time. And I do heartily recommend to you, that such a constant Establishment might be made for the Navy as might make this Kingdom not only safe, but formidable; which can never be whilst there remains not enough besides to pay the necessary Charges of the Crown.
"I will conclude, as I begun, with My earnest Desires to have this an healing Parliament; and I do give you this Assurance, that I will with My Life defend, both the Protestant Religion and the Laws of this Kingdom; and I do expect from you, to be defended from the Calumny, as well as Danger, of those worst of Men, who endeavour to render Me and My Government odious to My People.
L. Chancellor's Speech.
"You are here assembled, by virtue of His Majesty's most Gracious Writs of Summons, to hold a Parliament; the great, the wife, and the powerful Council of this Kingdom. From the Wisdom of this Council, the King is sure, He shall receive the best Advice; from the Duty and Loyalty of this Assembly, He can never want a chearful Assistance: And the King resolves to meet you all with so much Grace and Goodness, that He hopes this Parliament shall End in no Disappointment of any, but our Enemies.
"It may seem strange perhaps to some, that His Majesty, who had so long and large an Experience of the Duty of the last Parliament, should now, and in this present Conjuncture, think fit to call a new one. But the King hath so equal a Confidence in the Affections of all His good Subjects, that He intends to be acquainted with them all, and to have many and frequent Consultations with them; and hopes by this Means to attain, first, a true and right Understanding of the Desires of His People; and, next to that, to be rightly understood by them.
"The Considerations which are now to be laid before you, are as urgent and as weighty as ever were yet offered to any Parliament, or indeed ever can be: So great and so surprising have been our Dangers at Home, so formidable are the Appearances of Danger from Abroad, that the most united Councils, the most sedate and the calmest Temper, together with the most dutiful and zealous Affections that a Parliament can shew, are all become absolutely and indispensably necessary for our Preservation.
"At Home we had need look about us; for His Majesty's Royal Person hath been in Danger, by a Conspiracy against His Sacred Life, maliciously contrived, and industriously carried on, by those Seminary Priests and Jesuits, and their Adherents, who think themselves under some Obligation of Conscience to effect it; and, having vowed the Subversion of the true Religion amongst us, find no Way so likely to compass it, as to wound us in the Head, and to kill the Defender of the Faith.
"His Majesty wanted not sufficient Evidence of His Zeal for our Religion, without this Testimony from His Enemies, who were about to sacrifice Him for it: But it hath ever been the Practice of those Votaries, first, to murder the Fame of Princes, and then their Persons; first, to slander them to their People, as if they favoured Papists, and then to assassinate them for being too zealous Protestants. And thus, by all the Ways and Means which our Law calls Treason, and their Divinity calls Merit and Martyrdom, they are trying to set up the Dominion and the Supremacy of the Pope, as if the Dignity of His Triple Crown could never be sufficiently advanced, unless these Three Kingdoms were added unto Him, and all brought back again under that Yoke, which neither we nor our Fore-fathers were able to bear.
"The Inquiry into this Conspiracy hath been closely pursued, and the Lords of the Council have been careful to prosecute the Discovery, ever since the Rising of the last Parliament; and the King doth now recommend it to you to perfect: More Evidence hath been already found out, and more Malefactors discovered, some in Hold, some fled: Justices of Peace have been quickened in the Execution of their Duty, the Negligent have been reproved and punished, the Diligent encouraged, and assisted in doubtful Cases by the Opinions of the Judges; active and faithful Messengers have been sent into all the Corners of the Kingdom where there was any Hope of Service to be done. The very Prisons have been searched, to see whether any had fled thither to hide themselves there, and under Pretence of Debt to escape the Pursuit: And if any have desired Leave to go beyond Sea, they have first given Security not to go to Rome, nor send their Children to be bred in any Foreign Seminaries, and then they have been obliged to give in a List of all their menial Servants, and those Servants too have been examined upon Oath; and Order is given that they be again examined at the Ports, and make Oath they are the same Persons were examined above: So that all possible Care hath been taken that no Malefactors might escape us in Disguise.
"And though the Priests themselves do not keep the Confessions of their Proselytes more secret than these keep the Injunctions of their Priests, yet enough hath appeared to bring some capital Offenders to public Justice, and to convict them of the Crime: Some of the Traitors have been executed; several Priests have been arrested and imprisoned; all are hiding themselves, and lurking in secret Corners like the Sons of Darkness. The Murderers of Sir Edmond-berry Godfrey have been condemned, and suffered Death; some Papists have banished themselves out of the Kingdom; others are imprisoned for not taking the Oaths; all are prosecuted towards Conviction; and the very Shame and Reproach which attends such abominable Practices hath covered so many Faces with new and strange Confusions, that it hath proved a powerful Argument for their Conversion; nor is it to be wondered at that they could no longer believe all that to be Gospel which their Priests taught them, when they saw the Way and Means of introducing it was so far from being Evangelical.
"In a Word, so universal is that Despair to which the Papists are now reduced, that they have no other Hopes left but this, that we may chance to overdo our own Business; and, by being too far transported with the Fears of Popery, neglect the Opportunities we now have of making sober and lasting Provisions against it.
"And 'tis not to be doubted, but that it would infinitely gratify the Papists in the Revenge they wish for this Discovery, if they could see us distracted with Jealousies incurable, and distrusting the Government to such a Degree as should weaken all that Reverence by which it stands: For then the Plot would not be altogether without Effect; but those whom they could not destroy by their Conspiracy, they should have the Satisfaction to see ruining themselves after the Discovery; so that, though we had escaped that Desolation which they intended to have brought upon us, nothing could save us from that Destruction which we should bring upon ourselves.
"But their Expectations of this are as vain, as their other Designs were wicked; for His Majesty hath already begun to let them see with what Severity He intends to proceed against them. He hath passed a Law to disable all the Nobility and Gentry of that Faction ever to sit in Parliament; and, not content with that, He did offer to the last Parliament, and does again renew the same Offer to this Parliament, to pass any further Laws against Popery which shall be desired, so as the same extend not to the Diminution of His own Prerogative, not to alter the Descent of the Crown in the right Line, not to defeat the Succession. He hath refused the Petition of the Lords, who, during the Interval of Parliament, desired to be brought to their Trial; and, after so long an Imprisonment, might reasonably enough have expected it: But His Majesty thought it fitter to reserve them to a more public and conspicuous Trial in Parliament; for which Cause, their Trial ought now to be hastened, for it is high Time there should be some Period put to the Imprisonment of the Lords.
"But that which the King hath been pleased to mention to you this Morning surpasses all the rest, and is sufficient of itself alone to discharge all those Fears of Popish Influences which many good Men had too far entertained: For now, you see, His Majesty of His own Accord hath done that which would have been very difficult for you to ask, and hath deprived Himself of the Conversation of His Royal and only Brother, by commanding Him to depart the Kingdom; to which Command His Royal Highness hath paid a most humble and most entire Submission and Obedience. This Separation was attended with a more than ordinary Sorrow on both Sides. But He that for your Sakes could part with such a Brother and such a Friend, you may be sure, hath now no Favourite but His People. Since, therefore, His Majesty hath shewn so much Readiness to concur with, and in a Manner to prevent, the Desires of His Parliament, it is a miserable Refuge our Enemies trust to, when they hope to see our Zeal outrun our Discretion, and that we ourselves should become the unhappy Occasion of making our own Councils abortive.
"Not only the Care of the State, but the Care we ought to have of the Church too, will preserve us from all Errors of this Kind: For, as there neither is; nor hath been these Fifteen Hundred Years, a purer Church than ours, so 'tis for the Sake of this (fn. 1) poor Church alone that the State hath been so much disturbed: It is her Truth and Peace, her Decency and Order, which they labour to undermine, and pursue with so restless a Malice; and, since they do so, it will be necessary for us to distinguish between Popish and other Recusants, between them that would destroy the whole Flock, and them that only wander from it: And amongst the many good Laws you shall think fit to provide, it may not be amiss to think of some better Remedy for regulating the Press, from whence there daily steal forth Popish Catechisms; Psalters, and Books of Controversy. And it may be another good Fruit of such a Law, to hinder schismatical and seditious Libels too; for certainly it were much better for us to make such Laws as will prevent Offences, rather than such as serve only to punish the Offenders.
"From the Dangers which we know at Home, and have already in a great Measure overcome, be pleased to carry your Considerations Abroad, and weigh the Dangers which may come from thence. We all see and know the Posture of our Neighbours; and that, the general Peace of Europe being once made, there must needs be great Fleets and Armies unemployed, and ready for an Occasion. And 'tis as visible that some of our Neighbours are so wasted by the War, that they are unable to give us any Help, if we should stand in Need of it. And when we consider withal the afflicted Condition of the Protestants Abroad, we may be sure that every Calamity they suffer is in some Measure a Weakening of the Protestant Interest, and looks as if it were intended to make Way for a general Extirpation.
"These Dangers would not be so considerable as they are, if the present Wants of the Crown were not too well known. The King doth not intend to press you at this Time with the full Consideration of them all for, as the King cannot hope in any One Session to do all that may be good for His People, so neither doth He expect from them all that may be necessary for Himself; but hopes the good Understanding between Him and His People shall be for ever maintained, by a perpetual Reciprocation of Grace and Favour on His Part, and Duty and Affection on yours.
"That which doth most press the King at present is, the Want of that Treasure which He hath exhausted by going as far as He could in the Disbanding of His Army; which is very much, but not fully done. The Charge of a great Fleet at Sea, now ready to be paid off after a long Service, and the Necessity of setting out another this Summer; the Defects of the Poll Bill, which fell short of that Sum which was allowed to be borrowed upon it, and by that Means hath deceived those who did furnish Stores upon the Credit of that Act, unless you relieve them; together with the Continuation of some additional Duties of Custom and Excise; and it were much to be wished, that, since the Revenue at the best was always short of the necessary Charge of the Government, a Way may be found to take off those Debts and Anticipations, and to supply that Diminution of the Customs which makes it much narrower than it was.
"There are so many Things to do, and so little Time to do them in, that there ought not to be One Minute lost. The Season of the Year is not yet so far advanced, as to make it too late to set out a Fleet this Summer; for most of the Preparations are ready, if we go about it with that Diligence which is requisite: And therefore it doth infinitely import us all to husband Time.
"The best Way of doing this will be, to avoid all long and tedious Consultations, which sometimes do as much Harm as ill Resolutions; and, above all, to take Heed of such Questions and Debates as tend to raise Heat, or may create any Kind of Disturbance; nor does any Thing in the World so much contribute to Dispatch, as a quiet and orderly Proceeding; for they who are in Haste and attempt to do all their Business at once most commonly hinder themselves from bringing any Thing to Perfection.
"You have now an Opportunity of doing great Things for the King and Kingdom, and it deserves your utmost Care to make a right Use of it; for /?/tis not in the Power of a Parliament to recover a lost Opportunity, or to restore themselves again to the same Circumstances, or the same Condition, which they had once a Power to have improved.
"The present Face of Things, and the State wherein we now are, is so well known and understood Abroad, that the whole World is in great Expectation of those Resolutions which shall be taken here. The Results of this Council seem to be decisive of the Fate of these Kingdoms for many Ages; and are like to determine us either to Happiness or Misery of a very long Duration.
"We use to say, and say truly, That the King, when seated in Parliament, is then in the Fulness of His Majesty and Power, and shines forth with the brightest Lustre: Let no Exhalations from beneath darken or obscure it.
"Foreign Nations say, and say truly, That a King of England, in Conjunction with His Parliament, is as great and dreadful a Prince as any in Europe. Shew them the Sight they are afraid of: And, since they have laid it down for a Maxim in their Politics, That England can never be destroyed but by itself, and that 'tis in vain to make any Attempt upon this Nation, until they be in some great Disorder and Confusion among themselves; make the Ambitious despair betimes; and establish so perfect an Intelligence between all the Parts of this great Body, that there may be but One Heart and One Soul among us.
"And let us all pray, That He who hath once more miraculously delivered the King, the Church, and the State, would be pleased still to continue His Divine Protection, and give us thankful and obedient Hearts. And when we have offered up those Hearts to God, let us in the next Place offer them again to the King, and lay them down at the Footstool of His Throne; that so the King may see Himself safe in your Councils, rich in your Affections, victorious by your Arms, and raised to such a Height by your Loyalty and Courage, that you may have the Honour of making Him the greatest King, and He the Glory of making you the happiest People.
Commons directed to choose a Speaker.
"I have but One Thing more in Command; and that is to the Gentlemen of the House of Commons: That they proceed immediately to the Choice of a Speaker; whom His Majesty will expect to be presented to Him here at Three of the Clock To-morrow in the Afternoon."
Lords take the Oaths.
These Lords following took the Oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy, and made and subscribed the Declaration, in Pursuance of the Act for the more effectual preserving the King's Person and Government, by disabling Papists from Sitting in either House of Parliament:
Address of Thanks for King's Speech.
ORDERED, by the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in Parliament assembled, That the Lords with the White Staves do attend His Majesty, to give Him the humble Thanks of this House, for His most Gracious Speech made in this House this Day; and also to desire that His Majesty will be pleased to give Order that His said Speech, as also the Lord Chancellor's Speech made by His Majesty's Direction pursuant thereunto, may be printed and published.