Journal of the House of Lords: Volume 2, 1578-1614. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1767-1830.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
DIE Saturni, videlicet, 9 die Novembris:
DOMINUS Cancellarius continuavit præsens Parliamentum usque in horam secundam post meridiem.
Præsens R E X.
Ld. Chancellor's Speech.
THIS Day, His Majesty being sat in His Seat of State, the Lord Chancellor began his Speech with a brief Rehearsal of that which past by the Commissioners of England and Scotland, at their late Assembly and Meeting, to treat of such Things as might tend to the Weal of both Kingdoms, according to the Act made in that Behalf in the last Session; and thereupon he did present to His Majesty and the House one of the Tripartire Writings, which Writing was delivered there openly to the Clerk of the Parliament, to be kept in his Custody, till further Proceeding might be had therein. This being done, he continued his said Speech, with a Relalation of the most wicked and horrible Treason that ever was heard of, intended against His Majesty and the whole State; which was purposed as upon Tuesday last, the First Day of this Session of Parliament, holden by Prorogation, to have been put in Execution; but, by God's Providence, prevented and discovered.
After his Lordship's Speech ended, and Delivery of the said Writing, for the receiving whereof His Majesty had formerly resolved to come to the Parliament (though, as he said, the like had not been usual for any his Predecessors to repair to the said House at the beginning of any Session of Parliament holden by Prorogation), His Majesty made an ample Declaration concerning the said most horrible Treason, as may appear by his own Speech, following: (fn. 1)
Dominus Cancellarius, ex Mandato Domini nostri Regis, continuavit præsens Parliamentum usque in diem Martis, videlicet, 21m Januarii proxime sequentem.
"My Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and you the Knights and Burgesses of this Parliament, It was far from My Thoughts, till very lately before My Coming to this Place, that this Subject should have been ministred unto Me, whereupon I am now to speak; but now it so falleth out, that whereas, in the preceding Session of this Parliament, the principal Occasion of My Speech was to thank and congratulate all you of this House, and in you, all the whole Common-wealth (as being the Representative Body of the State), for your so willing and loving receiving and embracing of Me in that Place, which God, and Nature by Descent of Blood, had, in His own Time, provided for me; so now My Subject is to speak of a far greater Thanksgiving than before I gave to you, being to a far greater Person, which is to God, for the great and miraculous Delivery He hath, at this Time, granted to Me, and to you all; consequently to the whole Body of this Estate.
"I must therefore begin with this old and most approved Sentence of Divinity, Misericordia Dei supra omnie opera ejus; for Almighty God did not furnish so great Matter to His Glory by the Creation of this Great World, as He did by the Redemption of the same; neither did His Generation of the Little World, in our old and first Adam, so much set forth the Praises of God in His Justice and Mercy, as did our Regeneration in the last and second Adam.
"And now I must crave a little Pardon of you, that, since Kings are, in the Word of God itself, called Gods, as being His Lieutenants and Vicegerents on Earth, and so adorned and furnished with some Sparkles of the Divinity; to compare some of the Works of God the Great King towards the whole and general World to some of His Works towards Me, and this little World of My Dominions, compassed and severed by the Sea from the rest of the Earth: For as God, for the just Punishment of the first great Sins in the original World, when the Sons of God went in to the Daughters of Men, and the Cup of their Iniquities of all Sorts was filled and heaped up to the full, did, by a general Deluge and Overflowing of Waters, baptize the World to a general Destruction, and not to a general Purgation (only excepted Noah and his Family, who did repent and believe the Threatening of God's Judgment); so now, when the World shall wax old as a Garment, and that all the Impieties and Sins that can be devised, against both the First and Second Table, have and shall be committed to the full Measure; God is to punish the World the Second Time by Fire, to the General Destruction, and not Purgation: Although, as was done in the former to Noah and his Family by the Waters, so shall all we that believe be likewise purged, and not destroyed by the Fire. In the like Sort, I say, I may justly compare these Two great and fearful Domesdays, wherewith God threatened to destroy Me, and all you of this little World that have Interest in Me: For, although, I confess, as all Mankind, so chiefly Kings, as being in the higher Places, like the high Trees, or stayedst Mountains, and steepest Rocks, are most subject to the daily Tempests of innumerable Dangers, and I amongst all other Kings have ever been subject unto them, not only ever since My Birth, but even, as I may justly say, before My Birth, and while I was yet in My Mother's Belly; yet have I been exposed to Two more special and greater Dangers than all the rest.
"The first of them in the Kingdom where I was born, and passed the first Part of my Life; and the last of them here, which is the greatest: In the former, I should have been baptised in Blood, and in My Destruction not only the Kingdom wherein I then was, but ye also, by your future Interest, should have rasted of My Ruin; yet it pleased God to deliver Me, as it were from the very Brink of Death, from the Point of the Dagger, and so to purge Me, by My thankful Acknowledgment of so great a Benefit. But in this which did so lately fall out, and which was a Destruction prepared not for Me alone, but for you all that are here present, and wherein no Rank, Age, nor Sex, should have been spared; this was not a crying Sin of Blood as the former; but it may well be called a roaring, nay, a thundering Sin of Fire and Brimstone, from the which God hath so miraculously delivered us all. What I can speak of this, I know not; nay, rather what can I not speak of it; and therefore I must for Horror say with the Poet, Vox faucibus bæret.
"In this great and horrible Attempt, whereof the like was never heard or read, I observe Three wonderful or rather miraculous Events.
"First, in the Cruelty of the Plot itself, wherein cannot be enough admired the horrible and fearful Cruelty of their Device, which was not only for the Destruction of My Person, nor of My Wife and Posterity only, but of the whole Body of the State in general; wherein should neither have been spared, or Distinction made, of Young nor of Old, of great nor of small, of Man nor of Woman. The whole Nobility, the whole Reverend Clergy, Bishops, and most Part of the good Preachers, the most Part of the Knights and Gentry; yea, and if that any in this Society were Favourers of their Prosession, they should all have gone one Way; the whole Judges of the Land, with the most of the Lawyers, and the whole Clerks; and as the Wretch himself, which is in The Tower, doth confess, it was purposely devised by them, and concluded to be done in this House; That where the cruel Laws (as they say) were made against their Religion, both Place and Persons should all be destroyed and blown up at once. And then consider therewithall the cruel Form of that Practice; for by Three different Sorts in General may Mankind be put to Death.
"The First, by other Men, and reasonable Creatures, which is least cruel; for then both Defence of Men against Men may be expected; and likewise who knoweth what Pity God may stir up in the Hearts of the Actors, at the very Instant; besides the many Ways and Means whereby Men may escape in such a present Fury.
"And the Second Way, more cruel than that, is by animal and unreasonable Creatures; for as they have less Pity than Men, so it is a greater Horror, and more unnatural, for Men to deal with them; but yet with them both, Resistance may avail, and also some Pity may be had, as was in the Lions, in whose Den Daniell was thrown, or that thankful Lion that had the Roman in his Mercy.
"But the Third, which is most cruel and unmerciful of all, is the Destruction by insensible and inanimate Things; and, amongst them all, the most cruel are the Two Elements of Water and Fire; and of those Two the Fire most raging and merciless.
"Secondly, how wonderful it is, when you shall think upon the small or rather no Ground, whereupon the Practisers were inticed to invent this Tragedy; for, if these Conspirators had only been Bankrupt Persons, or discontented upon Occasion of any Disgrace done unto them, this might have seemed to have been but a Work of Revenge. But, for My own Part, as I scarcely ever knew any of them, so cannot they allege so much as a pretended Cause of Grief; and the Wretch himself in Hands doth confess, that there was no Cause moving him or them, but merely and only Religion; and specially that Christian Men, at least so called, Englishmen, born within the Country, and one of the Specials of them my sworn Servant, in an Honourable Place, should practise the Destruction of their King, His Posterity, their Country and all; wherein their following Obstinacy is so joined to their former Malice, as the Fellow himself that is in Hand cannot be moved to discover any Signs or Notes of Repentance, except only that he doth not yet stand to avow that he repents for not being able to perform his Intent.
"Thirdly, the Discovery hereof is not a little wonderful; which would be thought the more miraculous by you all, if you were as well acquainted with My natural Disposition as those are who be near about Me. For, as I ever did hold Suspicion to be the Sickness of a Tyrant, so was I so far upon the other Extremity, as I rather contemned all Advertisements or Apprehensions of Practices; and yet now, at this Time, was I so far contrary to Myself, as, when the Letter was shewed to me by My Secretary, wherein a general obscure Advertisement was given of some dangerous Blow at this Time, I did upon the Instant interpret and apprehend some dark Phrases therein, contrary to the ordinary Grammar Construction of them (and in another Sort than, I am sure, any Divine or Lawyer in any University would have taken them), to be meant by this horrible Form of Blowing us up all by Powder; and thereupon ordered that Search to be made, whereby the Matter was discovered, and the Man apprehended; whereas, if I had apprehended or interpreted it to any other Sort of Danger, no worldly Provision, or Prevention, could have made us escape our utter Destruction.
"And in that also was there a wonderful Providence of God, that when the Party himself was taken, he was but new come out of his House from Working, having his Firework for kindling ready in his Pocket; wherewith, as he confesseth, if he had been taken but immediately before, when he was in the House, he was resolved to have blown up himself with his Takers.
"One Thing, for My own Part, have I cause to thank God in; that, if God, for our Sins, had suffered their wicked Intents to have prevailed, it should never have been spoken nor written, in Ages succeeding, that I had died ingloriously in an Alehouse, a Stew, or such vile Place; but Mine End should have been with the most honourable and best Company, and in that most honourable and fittest Place for a King to be in, for doing the Turns most proper to His Office; and the more have we all Cause to thank and magnify God for this His merciful Delivery, and specially I for My Part, that He hath given Me yet once Leave, whatsoever should come of Me hereafter, to assemble you in this Honourable Place, and here, in this Place, where our general Destruction should have been, to magnify and praise Him for our general Delivery: That I may justly now say of Mine Enemies and yours, as David doth often say in the Psalms, Inciderunt in soveam quam fecerunt; and, since Scipio, an Ethnick, led only by the Light of Nature, that Day when he was accused by the Tribunes of the People of Rome, for mispending and wasting in his Punick Wars the City's Treasure, even upon the sudden brake out with that Diversion of them from that Matter, calling them to Remembrance how that Day was the Day of the Year wherein God had given them so great a Victory against Hanniball; and therefore it was fitter for them all, leaving other Matters, to run to the Temple, to praise God for that so great Delivery; which the People did all follow with one Applause: How much more Cause have we, that are Christians, to bestow this Time, in this Place, for Thanksgiving to God, for His great Mercy, though we had had no other Errand of assembling here at this Time? Wherein if I have spoken more like a Divine than would seem to belong to this Place, the Matter itself must plead for Mine Excuse."