Journal of the House of Lords: Volume 17, 1701-1705. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1767-1830.
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DIE Mercurii, 31 Decembris.
Domini tam Spirituales quam Temporales præsentes fuerunt:
Lords take the Oaths.
The Lords following took the Oaths, and made and subscribed the Declaration, pursuant to the Statute:
Comes Jersey, Camerarius.
Then the House was adjourned during Pleasure, to Robe.
The House was resumed.
His Majesty, being seated on His Royal Throne, adorned with His Crown and Regal Ornaments (the Peers being also in their Robes); commanded the Deputy Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod to go to the House of Commons, and let them know, "It is His Majesty's Pleasure, that they attend Him presently."
Mr. Harley Speaker, H. C. presented:
Who being come; they presented Robert Harley Esquire, whom they had chosen to be their Speaker, for His Majesty's Royal Approbation.
And, after a short Speech made by him to His Majesty, expressing his hearty Affection and Duty to His Majesty and His Government:
The Lord Keeper, by His Majesty's Command, acquainted the House of Commons, "That His Majesty was pleased to approve of the Choice they had made; and did allow of Mr. Harley to be their Speaker."
Then Mr. Speaker returned His Majesty Thanks, for His Gracious Approbation of the Choice and Acceptance of His Service; and humbly prayed, in the Name of the Commons,
"That His Majesty would be graciously pleased to allow and confirm all their ancient Rights and Privileges; particularly, That they might have Liberty and Freedom of Speech in all their Debates.
"That their Persons, Estates, and Servants, be free from Arrests and Troubles.
"That they may have Access to His Royal Person, as Occasion shall require.
"That His Majesty would have a gracious Opinion of all their Actions; and that, if himself at any Time should mistake, he might have His Majesty's favourable Interpretation and gracious Pardon."
Then the Lord Keeper, by His Majesty's further Command, said,
"His Majesty is pleased to say, That He is fully assured of the Prudence and Discretion, as well as of the Affections of His House of Commons; and as to the Suit which you have made in their Name, His Majesty does most willingly grant to them all their Privileges, in as full a Manner as they were ever granted by any of His Royal Predecessors: As to what you have prayed in relation to yourself, the King will put the best and most favourable Construction upon your Endeavours; being satisfied that you have a Heart, full of Loyalty to him, and of Zeal for the Good of your Country."
Then His Majesty spake as followeth:
"My Lords and Gentlemen,
"I promise Myself you are met together full of that just Sense of the common Danger of Europe, and that Resentment of the late Proceedings of the French King, which has been so fully and universally exprest, in the loyal and seasonable Addresses of My People.
"The owning and setting up the pretended Prince of Wales for King of England, is not only the highest Indignity offered to Me, and the Nation; but do so nearly concern every Man, who has a Regard for the Protestant Religion, or the present and future Quiet and Happiness of his Country, that I need not press you to lay it seriously to Heart, and to consider, what further effectual Means may be used, for securing the Succession of the Crown in the Protestant Line, and extinguishing the Hopes of all Pretenders, and their open and secret Abettors.
"By the French King's placing His Grandson on the Throne of Spain, He is in a Condition to oppress the rest of Europe, unless speedy and effectual Measures be taken.
"Under this Pretence, He is become the real Master of the whole Spanish Monarchy; He has made it to be entirely depending on France, and disposes of it as of His own Dominions; and, by that Means, He has surrounded His Neighbours in such a Manner, that, though the Name of Peace may be said to continue, yet they are put to the Expence and Inconveniencies of a War.
"This must affect England in the nearest and most sensible Manner; in respect to our Trade, which will soon become precarious in all the valuable Branches of it; in respect to our Peace and Safety at Home, which we cannot hope should long continue; and in respect to that Part which England ought to take in the Preservation of the Liberty of Europe.
"In order to obviate the general Calamity with which the rest of Christendom is threatened by this exorbitant Power of France, I have concluded several Alliances, according to the Encouragement given Me by both Houses of Parliament; which I will direct shall be laid before you, and which, I doubt not, you will enable Me to make good.
"There are some other Treaties still depending, that shall be likewise communicated to you as soon as they are perfected.
"It is sit I should tell you, the Eyes of all Europe are upon this Parliament; all Matters are at a Stand till your Resolutions are known; and therefore no Time ought to be lost.
"You have yet an Opportunity, by GOD's Blessing, to secure to you, and your Posterity, the quiet Enjoyment of your Religion and Liberties, if you are not wanting to yourselves, but will exert the ancient Vigour of the English Nation: But I tell you plainly, My Opinion is, if you do not lay Hold on this Occasion, you have no Reason to hope for another.
"In order to do your Part, it will be necessary to have a great Strength at Sea, and to provide for the Security of our Ships in Harbour; and also, that there be such a Force at Land, as is expected in Proportion to the Forces of our Allies.
"Gentlemen of the House of Commons,
"I do recommend these Matters to you with that Concern and Earnestness which their Importance requires: At the same Time, I cannot but press you to take Care of the public Credit; which cannot be preserved but by keeping sacred that Maxim, That they shall never be Losers, who trust to a Parliamentary Security.
"It is always with Regret, when I do ask Aids of My People; but you will observe, that I desire nothing which relates to any Personal Expence of Mine: I am only pressing to you to do all you can for your own Safety and Honour, at so critical and dangerous a Time; and am willing, that what is given should be wholly appropriated to the Purposes for which it is intended.
"And, since I am speaking on this Head, I think it proper to put you in Mind, that, during the late War, I ordered the Accompts to be laid Yearly before the Parliament; and also gave My Assent to several Bills for taking the public Accompts, that My Subjects might have Satisfaction how the Money given for the War was applied: And I am willing that Matter may be put in any further Way of Examination, that it may appear, whether there were any Misapplications and Mismanagements, or whether the Debt that remains upon us has really arisen from the Shortness of the Supplies, or the Deficiency of the Funds.
"I have already told you, how necessary Dispatch will be, for carrying on that great public Business, whereon our Safety, and all that is valuable to us, depends: I hope, what Time can be spared will be employed about those other very desirable Things, which I have so often recommended from the Throne; I mean, the forming some good Bills, for employing the Poor, for encouraging Trade, and the further suppressing of Vice.
"My Lords and Gentlemen,
"I hope you are come together determined to avoid all Manner of Disputes and Differences, and resolved to act with a general and hearty Concurrence for promoting the common Cause; which alone can make this a happy Session.
"I should think it as great a Blessing as could befall England, if I could observe you as much inclined to lay aside those unhappy fatal Animosities, which divide and weaken you, as I am disposed to make all My Subjects safe and easy as to any, even the highest, Offences committed against Me.
"Let Me conjure you to disappoint the only Hopes of our Enemies, by your Unanimity: I have shewn, and will always shew, how desirous I am to be the common Father of all My People: Do you, in like Manner, lay aside Parties and Divisions: Let there be no other Distinction heard of among us, for the future, but of those who are for the Protestant Religion and the present Establishment; and of those who mean a Popish Prince, and a French Government.
"I will only add this: If you do in good Earnest desire to see England hold the Balance of Europe, and to be indeed at the Head of the Protestant Interest, it will appear by your right improving the present Opportunity."
Then His Majesty was pleased to withdraw; and the Commons went to their House.
His Majesty's Speech was read by the Lord Keeper.
Committee to draw an Address.
Lords Committees were appointed, to draw an Address, to be presented to His Majesty, upon that Part of His Majesty's most Gracious Speech which takes Notice of the great Indignity offered to His Majesty and this Nation, by the French King's owning and setting up the pretended Prince of Wales, for King of England; and to give His Majesty the Assurances of this House, in supporting His Majesty's Government, and the Succession of the Crown, according to the Acts of Parliament limiting the same in the Protestant Line; and report to this House.
Their Lordships, or any Five of them; to meet To-morrow, at Ten of the Clock in the Forenoon, in the Prince's Lodgings near the House of Peers.
Dominus Custos Magni Sigilli declaravit præsens Parliamentum continuandum esse usque ad et in diem Jovis, primum diem Januarii jam prox. sequen. hora duodecima, Dominis sic decernentibus.