Historical Collections of Private Passages of State: Volume 1, 1618-29. Originally published by D Browne, London, 1721.
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A Proposition for his Majesty's Service, to bridle the Impertinency of Parliaments: Afterwards questioned in the Star-chamber.
The Proposition for your Majesty's Service, containeth two Parts: The One to secure your State, and to bridle the Impertinency of Parliaments: The Other, to increase your Majesty's Revenue, much more then it is. Touching the First, having considered divers Means, I find none so important to strengthen your Majesty's regal Authority, against all Oppositions and Practises of troublesome Spirits, and to bridle them, than to fortify your Kingdom, by having a Fortress in every chief Town, and important Place thereof, furnished with Ordnance, Munition, and faithful Men, as they ought to be, with all other Circumstances fit for to be digested in a Business of this Nature; ordering withal, the Trained Soldiers of the Country to be united in one Dependency with the said Fort, as well to secure their Beginning, as to succour them in any Occasion of Suspect; and also to retain and keep their Arms for more Security, whereby the Countries are no less to be brought in Subjection, than the Cities themselves, and consequently the whole Kingdom your Majesty having by this Course the Power thereof in your own Hands. The Reasons of the Suggests are these. 1. That in Policy, there is a greater Tie of the People by Force and Necessity, than meerly by Love and Affection; for by the One, the Government resteth always secure; but by the Other, no longer than the People are contented. 2. It forceth obstinate Subjects to be no more presumptuous, then it pleaseth your Majesty to permit them. 3. That to leave a State unfurnished, is, to give the Bridle thereof to the Subjects; when, by the contrary, it resteth only in the Prince's Hands. 4. That modern Fortresses take long Time in winning, with such Charge and Difficulty, as no Subjects in these Times have Means probable to attempt them. 5. That it is a sure Remedy against Rebellion, and popular Mutinies, or against foreign Powers, because they cannot well succeed, when by this Course the apparent Means is taken away, to force the King and Subject upon a doubtful Fortune of a set Battle, as was the Cause, that moved the pretended Invasion against the Land, attempted by the King of Spain in the Year 1588. 6. That your Majesty's Government is the more secure, by the People's more Subjection; and by their Subjection, your Parliament must be forced consequently to alter their Style, and to be conformable to your Will and Pleasure; for their Words and Opposition import nothing, where the Power is in your Majesty's own Hands, to do with them what you please; being indeed the chief Purpose of this Discourse, and the secret Intent thereof, fit to be concealed from any English at all, either Counsellors of State, or other.
Secondly, To cause Highways to be made through such Towns; Thirdly, To choose the Soldiers of such Fortresses, no Inhabitants of the Place; Fourthly, To let none pass through such Places without a Ticket; Fifthly, To have the Names of all Lodgers taken by all Inn-keepers.
For these, and divers other weighty Reasons, it may be considered in this Place, to make your Majesty more powerful and strong, some Orders be observed, that are used in fortified Countries, the Government whereof imports as much as the States themselves, I mean, in Times of Doubt or Suspect, which are these. Imprimis, That none wear Arms or Weapons at all, either in City or Country, but such as your Majesty may think fit to priviledge, and they to be enrolled. 2. That as many High ways as conveniently may be done, be made passable through those Cities and Towns fortified, to constrain the Passengers to travel through them. 3. That the Soldiers of Fortresses be sometimes chosen of another Nation, if subject to the same Prince; but howsoever, not to be born in the same Province, or within forty or fifty Miles of the Fortress, and not to have Friends or Correspondency near it. 4. That at all the Gates of each walled Town be appointed Officers, not to suffer any unknown Passengers to pass, without a Ticket, shewing from whence he came, and whether to go. And that the Gates of each City be shut all Night, and Keys kept by the Mayor or Governour, 5. Also Inn-keepers to deliver the Names of all unknown Passengers that lodge in their Houses; and if they stay suspiciously at any Time, to present them to the Governour: whereby dangerous Persons seeing these strict Courses, will be more wary of their Actions, and thereby mischievous Attempts will be prevented. All which being referred to your Majesty's wise Consideration, it is meet for me withal to give you some Satisfaction, of the Charge and Time to perform what is purposed, that you may not be discouraged in the Difficulty of the One, or Prolongation of the Other; both which Doubts are resolved in one and the same Reason, in respect that, in England, each chief Town commonly hath a ruinated Castle, well seated for Strength, whose Foundation and Stones remaining, may be both quickly repaired for this Use, and with little Charge and Industry made strong enough, I hope, for this Purpose, within the Space of one Year; by adding withal Bulwarks and Rampiers for the Ordnance, according to the Rules of Fortification. The Ordnance for these Forts may be of Iron, not to disfurnish your Majesty's Navy, or be at a greater Charge than is needful.
To maintain Yearly the Fort, I make account an ordinary Pay, three thousand Men will be sufficient, and will require Forty thousand Pound Charge per Annum, or thereabouts, being an Expence that inferior Princes undergo, for their necessary Safety. All which prevention, added to the invincible Sea-force your Majesty hath already, and may have, will make you the most powerful and obeyed King of the World: Which I could likewise confirm by many Examples, but I omit them for brevity, and not to confuse your Majesty with too much Matter. Your Majesty may find by the Scope of this Discourse, the Means shewed in general to bridle your Subjects, that may be either discontent or obstinate. So likewise am I to conclude the same Intent particularly, against the Perverseness of your Parliament, as well to suppress that pernicious Humour, as to avoid their Oppositions against your Profit, being the second Part to be discoursed on: And therefore have first thought fit, for better prevention thereof, to make known to your Majesty the Purpose of a general Oath your Subjects may take, for sure avoiding of all Rubs, that may hinder the Conclusion of these Businesses. It is further meant, That no Subject, upon Pain of High Treason, may refuse the same Oath, containing only Matter of Allegiance, and not Scruples in Points of Conscience, that may give Pretence not to be denied. The Effect of the Oath is this, That all your Majesty's Subjects do acknowledge you, to be as absolute a King and Monarch within your Dominions, as is among the Christian Princes; and your Prerogative as great; Whereby you may and shall of your self, by your Majesty's Proclamation, as well as other sovereign Princes doing the like, either make Laws, or reverse any made, with any other Act, so great a Monarch as your self may do, and that without further consent of a Parliament, or need to call them at all in such Cases; considering, that the Parliament in all Matters, excepting Causes to be sentenced at the highest Court, ought to be subject unto your Majesty's Will, to give the negative or affirmative Conclusion, and not be constrained by their Impertinencies to any Inconvenience, appertaining to your Majesty's regal Authority; and this, notwithstanding any bad Pretence or Custom to the contrary in Practise, which indeed were sitter to be offered a Prince elected, without other Right, than to your Majesty, born successively King of England, Scotland, and Ireland, and your Heirs for ever; and so received, not only of your Subjects, but also of the whole World. How necessary the dangerous Supremacy of Parliament's Usurpation is to be prevented, the Example of Lewis the Eleventh King of France, doth manifest, who found the like Opposition as your Majesty doth, and by his Wisdom suppressed it. And, to the Purpose here intended, which is not to put down altogether Parliaments and their Authority, being in many Cases very necessary and fit; but to abridge them so far, as they seek to derogate from your Majesty's regal authority, and Advancement of your Greatness. The Caution in offering the aforesaid Oath, may require some Policy, for the easier Passage at first, either by singular or particular Tractaction; and that so near about one Time over the Land, as one Government may not know what the other intendeth; so it may pass the Easier, by having no Time of combination or Opposition. There is another Means also more certain than this, to bring to pass the Oath more easily, as also your Profit, and what else pretended; which here I omit for brevity, requiring a long Discourse by it self, and have set it down in particular Instructions to inform your Majesty.
2. The second Part of this Discourse is, touching your Majesty's Profit, after your State is secured: Wherein I should observe both some reasonable Content to the People, as also consider the great Expences that Princes have now a-days, more than in Times past, to maintain their Greatness, and Safety of their Subjects, who, if they have not Wit or Will to consider their own Interest so much indifferently, your Majesty's Wisdom must repair their Defects, and force them to it by compulsion; but I hope there shall be no such Cause, in Points so reasonable, to increase your Majesty's Revenue, wherein I set down divers Means for your gracious Self to make choice of, either All or Part at your Pleasure, and to put it in execution by such Degrees and Cautions, as your great Wisdom shall think fit in a Business of this Nature.
Means to encrease the King's Revenues; 1. To demand Decima of Men's Estates; 2. To buy out all leaves up on the Crown Lands; 3. To take the Salt into his Majesty's own Hands; 4. To demand a Rate for Sealing for Weights every Year; 5. To demand an Import for Wools; 6. To put a Tax upon every Lawyer's Fee; 7. To put a Tax upon Inns and Victualling houses for a License; 8. To put a Tax upon all Cattel, Flesh, and Horses fold in the Market; 9. To put a Tax upon all Lands alienated; 10. To demand a Rate upon all Offices in his Majesty's Grant; 11. To reduce his Majesty's Household to Board-wages; 12. To demand a Rate for License to eat Lacticinia; 13. To take an Imposition upon the Catholicks Lands; At the Prince his Marriage to make Earls in Principi, and to pay for it; And Barons to be made Earls; To make two hundred rich Men Titulate, and they to pay for the Titles; To make Gentlemen of low Quality, and rich Farmers, Esquires.
Imprimis, The first Means or Course intended to increase your Majesty's Revenues or Profits withal, is of greatest Consequence, and I call it a Decimation, being so termed in Italy, where in some Part it is in Use, importing the Tenth of all Subjects Estates, to be paid as a yearly Rent to their Prince, and as well Monied-men in Towns, as Landed-men in the Countries, their Value and Estates esteemed justly as it is to the true Value, though with Reason; and this paid yearly in Money: Which Course applied in England for your Majesty's Service, may serve instead of Subsidies, Fifteens, and such like, which in this Case are fit to be released, for the Subjects Benefit and Content, in recompence of the said Decima, which will yield your Majesty more in Certainty, than they do casually, by Five hundred thousand Pounds per Annum at the least. Item, That when your Majesty hath gotten Money into your Hands by some Courses to be set down, it would be a profitable Course to encrease your Entrada, to buy out all Estates and Leases upon your own Lands, in such Sort, as they be made no Losers; whereby having your Lands free, and renting it out to the true Value, as it is most in Use, and not employed as heretofore, at an old Rent, and small Fines, you may then rent it out for at least four or five Times more Money, then the old Rent comes unto. So as if your Majesty's Lands be already but Sixty thousand Pounds per Ann. by this Course it will be augmented at the least Two hundred thousand Pounds per Annum; and to buy out the Tenants Estates will come to a small Matter by the Course, to make them no Losers, considering the Gain they have already made upon the Land: And this is the rather to be done, and the present Course changed, because it hath been a Custom used meerly to cousen the King. item, Whereas most Princes do receive the Benefit of Salt in their own Hands, as a Matter of great Profit, because they receive it at the lowest Price possible, and vent it at double Gain yearly; the same Course used by your Majesty, were worth at least One hundred and fifty thousand Pounds per Annum. It is likewise in other Parts, that all Weights and Measures of the Land, either in private Houses, Shops, or publick Markets, should be viewed to be just, and sealed once a Year, paying to the Prince for it; which in England, applied to your Majesty, with Order to pay Six-pence for the Sealing of each said Weight or Measure, would yield near Sixty thousand Pounds per Annum. item, Tho' all Countries pay a Gabella for Transportation of Cloth, and so likewise in England; yet, in Spain, there is Impost upon the Wools, which in England is so great a Wealth and Benefit to the Sheep masters, as they may well pay you five Pounds per Cent. of the true Value at the Shearing, which I conceive may be worth One hundred and forty thousand Pounds per Annum. Item, Whereas the Lawyers Fees and Gains in England be excessive, to your Subjects Prejudice; it were better for your Majesty to make Use thereof, and impose on all Causes sentenced with the Party, to pay five Pounds per Cent. of the true Value that the Cause hath gained him; and for recompence thereof, to limit all Lawyers Fees and Gettings, whereby the Subject shall save more in Fees and Charges, then he giveth to your Majesty in the Gabella, which I believe may be worth, one Year with another, Fifty thousand Pounds. Item, Whereas the Inns and Victualling houses in England are more chargeable to the Travellers, then in other Countries, it were good for your Majesty to limit them to certain Ordinaries, and raise besides a large Imposition, as is used in Tuscany, and other Parts; that is, a Prohibiting all Inns and Victualling-houses, but such as shall pay it; and to impose upon the chief Inns and Taverns, to pay ten Pounds a Year to your Majesty, and the Worst five Pounds per Annum, and all Ale-houses twenty Shillings per Annum, more or less, as they are in Custom. Of all Sorts there are so many in England, that this Impost may well yield One hundred thousand Pounds per Annum to your Majesty. Item, In Tuscany, and other Parts, there is a Gabella of all Cattel, or Flesh, and Horses sold in Markets, paying three or four per Cent. of what they are sold for, which by conjecture, may be worth in England, two hundred thousand Pounds per Annum; using the like Custom upon Fish, and other Victuals, (Bread excepted) and for this Cause, Flesh, and Fish, and Victuals in the Markets, to be prised and sold by Weight, whereby the Subject saveth more in not being cousened, than the Imposition impaireth them Item, In Tuscany is used a Taxation of seven per Cent. upon all Alienation of Lands to the true Value. As also seven per Cent. upon all Dowries, or Marriage-monies. The like, if it be justly used in England, were worth at least One hundred thousand Pounds per Annum; with many other Taxations upon Meal, and upon all Merchandises in all Towns, as well as Port-Towns, which here I omit, with divers others, as not so fit for England. And in Satisfaction of the Subject for these Taxes, your Majesty may be pleased to release them of Wardships, and to enjoy all their Estates at eighteen Years Old; and in the mean Time, their Profits to be preserved for their own Benefit. And also in Forfeitures of Estate by condemnation, your Majesty may release the Subject, as not to take the Forfeiture of their Lands, but their Goods, High Treason only excepted; and to allow the Counsel of Lawyers in Case of Life and Death; as also not to be condemned without two Witnesses, with such like Benefit, which importeth much more their Good, then all the Taxations named can prejudice them. Item, Some of the former Taxations, used in Ireland and in Scotland, as may easily be brought about by the first Example thereof used in England, may very well be made to increase your Revenue there, more then it is, by Two hundred thousand Pounds per Annum. Item, All Offices in the Land great and small, in your Majesty's Grant, may be granted, with Condition, to pay you a Part Yearly, according to the Value: This, in Time, may be worth (as I conceive) One hundred thousand Pounds per Annum: Adding also Notaries, Attornies, and such like, to pay some Proportion Yearly towards it, for being allowed by your Majesty to practise, and prohibiting else any to practise in such Places. Item, To reduce your Majesty's Houshold to Board-wages, as most other Princes do, reserving some few Tables; this will save your Majesty Sixty thousand Pounds per Annum, and ease greatly the Subject besides, both in Carriages and Provision, which is a good Reason, that your Majesty in Honour might do it. Item, I know an assured Course in your Majesty's Navy, which may save at least Forty thousand Pounds per Annum, which requiring a whole Discourse by it self, I omit; only promise you to do it, whensoever you command. Item, Whereas your Majesty's Laws do command the strict keeping of Fasting days, you may also prohibit on those Days to eat Eggs, Cheese, and White meats, but only such as are contented to pay Eighteen Pence a Year for the Liberty to eat them, and the better Sort Ten Shillings. The Employment of this may be for the Defence of the Land, in maintaining the Navy, Garrisons, and such like, much after the Fashion of a Crusado in Spain, as your Majesty knoweth, being first begun there under the Pretence to defend the Land against the Moors. And the same used in England, as aforesaid, may very well yield, one Year with another, One hundred thousand Pounds, without any disgust to any, because it is at every One's Choice to give it or no. Lastly, I have a Course upon the Catholicks, and very safe for your Majesty, being with their good-liking, as it may be wrought, to yield you presently at least Two hundred thousand Pounds per Annum, by raising a certain Value upon their Lands, and some other Impositions; which requiring a long Discourse by it self, I will omit it here, setting it down in my Instructions; it will save your Majesty at least One hundred thousand Pounds per Annum, to make it Pain of Death, and Consiscation of Goods and Lands, for any of the Officers to cousen you, which now is much to be feared they do, or else they could not be so rich; and herein to allow a fourth Part Benefit to them that shall find out the Cousenage. Here is not meant Officers of State, as the Lord Treasurer, &c. being Officers of the Crown. The Sum of all this Account amounteth unto two Millions, or Twenty hundred thousand Pounds per Annum: Suppose it to be but One Million and an half, as assuredly your Majesty may make by these Courses set down, yet it is much more than I promised in my Letter for your Majesty's Service. Besides, some Sums of Money in present, by the Courses following: Imprimis, By the Prince's Marriage, to make all the Earls in England Grandees of Spain, and Principi, with such like Priviledges, and to pay Twenty thousand Pounds a piece for it. 2. As also, if you make them Foeditaries of the Towns belonging to their Earldoms, if they will pay for it besides, as they do to the King of Spain in the Kingdom of Naples. And so likewise Barons, to be made Earls and Peers, to pay Nineteen thousand Pounds a piece, I think might yield Five hundred thousand Pounds, and oblige them more sure to his Majesty. 3. To make Choice of Two hundred of the richest Men of England in Estate, that be not Noblemen, and make them Titulate, as is used in Naples, and paying for it; that is, a Duke Thirty thousand Pounds, a Marquess Fifteen thousand Pounds, an Earl Ten thousand Pounds, and a Baron or Viscount Five thousand Pounds. It is to be understood that the antient Nobility of Barons made Earls, are to precede these as Peers, tho' these be made Marquesses or Dukes; this may raise a Million of Pounds and more unto your Majesty. To make Gentlemen of low Quality, and Francklins, and rich Farmers, Esquires, to precede them, would yield your Majesty also a great Sum of Money in present. I know another Course to yield your Majesty at least Three hundred thousand Pounds in Money, which as yet the Time serveth not to discover, until your Majesty be resolved to proceed in some of the former Courses, which till then I omit. Other Courses also, that may make present Money, I shall study for your Majesty's Service, and, as I find them out, acquaint you withal. Lastly, To conclude all these Discourses, by the Application of this Course used for your Profit, That it is not only the Means to make you the richest King that ever England had, but also the Safety augmented thereby to be most secure, besides what was shewed in the first Part of this Discourse; I mean, by the Occasion of this Taxation, and raising of Monies, your Majesty shall have Cause and Means to imploy in all Places of the Land so many Officers and Ministers, to be obliged to you for their own Good and Interest, as nothing can be attempted against your Person, or royal State, over Land, but some of them shall, in all probability, have Means to find it out, and hinder it. Besides, this Course will detect many Disorders and Abuses in the publick Government, which were hard to be discovered by Men indifferent. To prohibit gorgeous and costly Apparel to be worn, but by Persons of good Quality, shall save the Gentry of the Kingdom much more Money, than they shall be taxed to pay unto your Majesty. Thus withal I take my Leave, and kiss your gracious Hands, desiring Pardon for my Error I may commit herein.