[Tuesday, January 16.
The Lords having desired a Conference in the PaintedChamber, to communicate to this House Matters of Importance relating to the last Summer's Expedition at Sea;
Col. Granville reported, That the Duke of Bolton managed
the same for the Lords, and acquainted the Managers, "That
the Lords having had laid before them, by the Earl of Nottingham, an Extract of a Letter, dated from Paris, June 1, N. S.
received May 30, O. S. 1693, as follows: "There are sixtyeight Ships, in which there are 30,118 Men, and 4876 Guns.
"We have news since, that this Fleet is sailed, and out of
"And it not appearing clearly, whether the Intelligence
therein contained was communicated, or not, to the Admirals
of the Fleet, their Lordships do desire of this House, That they
will enquire, by the most proper methods, of the Members of
this House that are of the Privy-Council, "Whether this Intelligence of the French Fleet's being failed out of Brest was
communicated to the Admirals of the Fleet; and when it was
Friday, January 19.
Resolved, That an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, that his Majesty will be pleased to command, that a Copy
of a Letter, dated from Paris, June 1, N. S. and received May
30, O.S. 1693, by the Earl of Nottingham, may be laid before
this House: And also, That his Majesty will be pleased to give
permission to the Privy-Counsellors of this House, to acquaint
this House what Intelligence was received of the French Fleet's
being sailed out of Brest; and whether the same was communicated to the Admirals of the Fleet; and when the same was
communicated (fn. 1) .]
Friday, January 26.
[In a Grand Committee. On the State of the Kingdom.]
On the King's rejecting the Bill for frequent Parliaments.
(Sent to the Compiler by Mr Wilmot.)
Sir Thomas Clarges.] I am sorry for the occasion of the
Committee. I will not say any thing concerning his Majesty,
only of the evil Counsellors that presumed so to advise the King.
Former practice hath been to have the Bills to be passed, read,
and debated, in Council; neither ought a Parliament to be called
without a Council. Formerly, just Bills and Grievances
were first passed; and after that, the Money given. Now, in
great respect to his Majesty, the order is inverted, and our
Grievances denied redress. I cannot think the King to blame,
since his Declaration hath been to concur with us in any thing
to make us happy. I should have been glad if the Counsel
lors, or some of them, would have given some reason for the
Rejection of this Bill. I believe, the People that sent us up
will hate us for doing nothing but giving away their Money,
in effect, one to another, as in the Rump, which was their
ruin and may be ours. I conclude with a Motion, "That
the Advisers of the Rejection of this Bill are Enemies to the
King and Kingdom."
Mr Brewer.] All agree, that the King hath a Negative
Voice to Bills: Nobody hath a greater reverence to Parliaments
than myself; but the Bill rejected was liable to exceptions. I
gave my Vote to make the Prince of Orange King, but will
never give my Vote to unking him. I think it proper, in this
case, for the King to exercise his Negative Voice.
Sir John Thompson.] When I gave my Voice to make the
Prince of Orange King, I thought to have seen better times
than these. If this matter go, and nothing be done, I expect
nothing but that we shall be underlings to Courtiers. It is
fit to consider the State of the Nation in all parts of it; as in
your Quota's; so if you consider your Fleet, your Convoys:
Look upon all Miscarriages, and you may hunt them to the Cabinet; but there we must leave it, for we cannot find the hand
that does the mischief. King Charles the Ist was the first that
set up the Cabinet, but he was taken down for it; so was
King James, his son, and made a vagabond. All Debates
should be in Council; now all things are huddled up. Our
Affairs are secret, but our Miscarriages open. The Admiralty
told us where the Miscarriage lay: I hope that, by an Address,
that will be laid open with the rest; and I conclude with the
same Motion that Clarges made.
Mr Bromley.] I shall be careful not to speak about the
Negative Voice. I would have Gentlemen consider the confidence the House put in his Majesty, and the vast Sums given,
and yet this Bill rejected. The Preamble of the Bill declared
former Corruptions, and suspicion of the like now: The Bill
offers Remedy, but we are denied it; which speaks this language, "That the King will have us still corrupt." We
have done well for Religion, but all in vain, if we enjoy not
Mr Hutchinson.] Neither our zeal for the King, nor the
Sums given, can oblige so much as the false Counsellors, who
are worse than Jacobites—They may now object, "That we
have only changed our Prince, but not for the better, at so
many Millions expence."—I will not dispute the Negative
Voice—The nature of the Bill was to take off Scandal, to
show the World that we give our Votes, and do not sell them.
Our own actions have given occasion hereto, by carrying on
the Bill in former Sessions with fondness of it, but in this we
were very cool: It may give the King occasion to think that
we know not what to do; that the Members of this House are
so made, for their ingenuity and skill to manage us, rather
than their Offices, which they either mind not, or know
Sir John Lowther.] I find it difficult to say any thing, in
my Post. I know myself to be an honest man, and I am an
Englishman too. I neither have gotten by the Court, nor ever
will—I believe there may be evil Counsellors, but who they
are will be a dispute for ever. We are ever unfortunate, because of different Parties, two at least, so that one dares not
trust the other, nor speak plain; and what can be done by
the King, when one side informs him evil of the other? Now,
cure you but this, and all will be well; all will speak plain. I
would propose to you, to contrive some way that the King
may have a Council that both you and he may confide in.
Mr Peregrine Bertie, jun. (fn. 2) ] What was proposed by the
Member before, makes me think the Question first moved most
necessary; since the matter is so amongst the Counsellors.
Mr Harley.] I think Lowther has told you the true state of
the case. I think the greatness of his estate and mind makes
him too great to be suspected in this matter. I hope that, in
due time, something may be done therein. At the first Revolution, if care had been taken, Parties might have been prevented, and we should have had but one, and that for the good
of England; but industry was used by some to the contrary.
I conclude, that we can do no less than put a mark on some,
by our Resolution on the Question.
The Question passed, (with only two or three "Noes" to
the contrary,) [as follows:
Resolved, That it is the Opinion of this Committee, that
whoever advised the King not to give the Royal Assent to the
Act touching free and impartial Proceedings in Parliament,
which was to redress a Grievance, and take off a Scandal upon
the Proceedings of the Commons in Parliament, is an Enemy
to their Majesties and the Kingdom:
Which was agreed to by the House.]
Mr Jeffreys.] If the Council be so divided, it may be presumed that one Party is in the right, and the other in the wrong.
I would have the House address the King, That he would please
to discover by what Advice the Bill was rejected."
But there was a general "No" thereto.
Mr Harley.] The House has been pleased to give their
Opinion in the former Question, but you ought also to take
some care of yourselves. You are disappointed of Remedy against
Corruption. The King, indeed, hath a Negative Voice; so
have you in Money; and when the People give, their minds
should be free, that they are in condition to give. We ought,
therefore, to make some Representation to his Majesty, "That,
whereas we lay under great imputation of Bribery, we were
endeavouring to clear ourselves of it, by the Bill rejected."
I move, therefore, "That we humbly represent to his Majesty
how rare the instances are, in former times, of Bills being rejected; more especially where Money has been plentifully
Sir Francis Winnington.] The last Gentleman calls me up.
I am for the Negative Voice, and Prerogative; but if the Negative Voice shall extend to all good Bills, it is very much misused. We have been always busy in giving Money, and have
always come up to that which has been required—I think very
well of many Gentlemen that have Offices; but I believe they
would not have had Offices, if they had not been Members of
Parliament. This Bill, and the Triennial Bill, tend immediately to keep ourselves uncorrupt; and if the King shall
make use of his Negative Voice, in such a case, it is very
hard. I humbly propose, "That we may address, that such
Rejection may be a means to alienate the hearts of the People."
—I would not have farther proceeding in Money yet; now
we have given two Millions for present occasion, we may have
Mr Paul Foley.] I believe the King hath a Negative Voice,
and 'tis necessary it should be so; but if this be made use of
to turn by all Bills, and things the Court likes not, it is misused; for such a Prerogative is committed to him for the good
of us all. It hath been a great Scandal to us, and this Bill was
for clearing us in some measure, and yet divided in so small
an instance! I conclude with the Motion that Harley made,
"To represent how few the instances have been to deny
Assent, when so much Money has been given."
Mr Howe.] I believe our mischief arises from what an honourable Member (Lowther) observed, from Parties in Council, who thereby raise themselves upon one another. I have
never changed Party. If others have left me, let them answer for it. Why should we meet here, if what we do for
the good of our Country be to no purpose? I was for deposing King James, and for setting up King William: But
we have committed a great villainy, if we settle not our Liberties on a true foundation; but if we do that, we have done a
glorious work. A Bill in Richard's time was presented; the
Bishops protested against it, but the King passed it, "Because,
(he said) he was bound by his Coronation-Oath." A Petition
in Parliament was presented in Henry IV's time, wherein it was
said "That what was desired was not against the Prerogative,
because for the good of the Commons"—I hope we say nothing
here amiss, since we have so lately asserted the Divine Right of
this House. I say, it was no news anciently to oblige the King
to call a Parliament, and to force Kings to call them, and to
swear to them after; and so Magna Charta, and Charta de Foresta,
were given. In the reign of ***** (fn. 3) the Archbishop of
Canterbury (for then the Bishops were for the People's good)
advised the King to pass the Bills tendered. I conclude with
Harley's Motion, and others, "That an humble Representation be made to his Majesty, &c."
Sir Walter Yonge.] I would have Gentlemen consider whether
this is the only Bill rejected for our good—I would not have the
Triennial Bill named in the Question, but I desire the words
"other public Bills," in general, may be in the Question.
Mr Clarke.] I second the same.
Sir Henry Goodrick.] To agree so solemnly, in such an Address, is so severe upon the King, that I cannot agree to it. His
Majesty being so much abroad for our service, venturing his
life almost ever since his coming to the Crown, hath made him
not so acquainted with Methods of Parliament. I would humbly move therefore, "That an Address be made upon the first
Mr Charles Montagu.] I shall always be for the Liberties
of the People, and for the Prerogative of the Crown. If the
Crown hath a Negative Voice, then why not exercised on this
Bill, as well as on any other? It was formerly only, and that
in the highest times, and by the highest men, that the King
cannot deny us Bills of right and justice. But this is for altering
your Constitution, not to allow the King a Negative Voice.
None spoke in the Debate, but those before, only Sir
Charles Sedley, who was not heard—But almost all before,
and many others also, spoke to the stating the Questions, about
which there was very much Debate. The Questions at last
were agreed to, the first as above, the second as follows. Some
Debate also was, "That it should be an humble Address," which
was taken to be of a softer nature than "a Representation,"
though this was not so hard a word as "a Remonstrance."
[Resolved, That a Representation be made to his Majesty,
humbly to lay before him, how few the Instances have been, in
former Reigns, of denying the Royal Assent to Bills for Redress of Grievances; and the great Grief of the Commons for
his not having given the Royal Assent to several public Bills;
and particularly to the Bill touching free and impartial Proceedings in Parliament, which tended so much to the clearing
the Reputation of this House; after their having so freely voted
to supply the public Occasions: Which was agreed to by the
House, and a Committee was appointed to draw it up.]
Saturday, January 27.
Col. Granville reports the following humble Representation to
his Majesty, &c.
"We your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal Subjects, the Commons in Parliament assembled, think ourselves bound in duty to
your Majesty, humbly to represent, that the usage of Parliament
in all times hath been, that what Bills have been agreed by both
Houses for the redress of Grievances, or other public good, have,
when tendered to the Throne, obtained the Royal Assent; and
that there are very few instances, in former reigns, where such
Assent, in such cases, has not been given; and those attended with
great inconveniences to the Crown of England; especially where
the same has been withheld by insinuations of particular Persons,
without the Advice of the Privy-Council, thereby creating great
Dissatisfactions and Jealousies in the minds of the People.
"Your Commons therefore, out of their sincere desire of the
welfare of your Majesty and your Government, and that you
may always reign in prosperity and happiness in the affection of
your Subjects, cannot, without great grief of heart, reflect, that,
since your Majesty's Accession to the Crown, several public
Bills, made by Advice of both Houses of Parliament, have not
obtained the Royal Assent; and, in particular, a Bill entituled, "An
Act touching free and impartial Proceedings in Parliament,"
which was made to redress a Grievance, and take off a Scandal
relating to the proceedings of your Commons in Parliament,
after they had freely voted great supplies for the public occasions;
which they can impute to no other cause than [your Majesty's
being unacquainted with the Constitutions of Parliament, and]
the insinuations of particular persons, who take upon them, for
their own particular ends, to advise your Majesty contrary to
the Advice of Parliament; and therefore cannot look upon
them but as Enemies to your Majesty and your Government.
"Upon these considerations, we humbly beseech your Majesty
to believe, that none can have so great a concern and interest in
the prosperity and happiness of your Majesty, and your Government, as your two Houses of Parliament; and do therefore
humbly pray, that, for the future, you will be graciously pleased
to hearken to the Advice of your Parliament, and not to the
secret Advice of particular persons, who may have private interests of their own, separate from the true interest of your Majesty, and your People (fn. 4) ."
[Monday, January 29.
On the Articles against Lord Coningsby and Sir Charles Porter,
the House Resolved, on the first Article, That the imposing the
Oath mentioned in this Article was illegal; but that, considering the State of Affairs in Ireland at that Time, this House doth
not think fit to ground an Impeachment upon it. On the second
and third Articles, no ground of Impecahment appeared. On the
fourth, Resolved, That the Order for the Execution of Gafney,
without Tryal, was arbitrary and illegal; but, for the same reason as before, they declined to impeach Lord Coningsby upon it.
On the fifth, sixth, and seventh, no ground of Impeachment
appeared. And Lord Coningsby, and Sir Charles Porter were
allowed to take their Places in the House.
The Speaker, and the whole House, attended the King with
their Representation; which, his Majesty said, he would consider
of, and give them an Answer on Wednesday.]
Wednesday, January 31.
The Speaker reported, That his Majesty had been pleased
to give the following Answer to the Representation:
" I am [very] sensible of the good Affections you have expressed to me, upon many Occasions, and of the Zeal you have
shown for our common Interest: I shall make use of this Opportunity to tell you, that no Prince ever had a higher esteem
for the Constitution of the English Government than myself;
and that I shall ever have a great regard to the Advice of Parliaments. I am persuaded that nothing can so much conduce
to the happiness and welfare of this Kingdom, as an entire confidence between the King and People; which I shall, by all means,
endeavour to preserve: And I assure you, I shall look upon
such Persons to be my Enemies, who shall advise any thing
that may lessen it."