Historical Collections of Private Passages of State: Volume 1, 1618-29. Originally published by D Browne, London, 1721.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
His Majesty's Declaration to all his loving Subjects, of the Causes which moved him to dissolve the last Parliament, March 10, 1628.
The King's Declaration of the Causes which moved him to dissolve the last Parliament.
Howsoever Princes are not bound to give Account of their Actions, but to God alone; yet, for the Satisfaction of the Minds and Affections of our loving Subjects, we have thought good to set down thus much by Way of Declaration, that we may appear to the World in the Truth and Sincerity of our Actions, and not in those Colours, in which we know some turbulent and ill-affected Spirits (to masque and disguise their wicked Intentions, dangerous to the State) would represent us to the publick View.
We assembled our Parliament the 17th Day of March, in the third Year of our Reign, for the Safety of Religion, for securing our Kingdoms and Subjects at home, and our Friends and Allies abroad. And therefore at the first sitting-down of it, we declared the miserable afflicted Estate of those of the reformed Religion in Germany, France, and other Parts of Christendome; the distressed Extremities of our dearest Unkle the King of Denmark, chased out of a great Part of his Dominions; the Strength of that Party which was united against us: That (besides the Pope, and the House of Austria, and their antient Confederates) the French King professed the Rooting out of the Protestant Religion; That, of the Princes and States on our Party, some were over run, others diverted, and some disabled to give Assistance. For which, and other important Motives, we propounded a speedy Supply of Treasure, answerable to the Necessity of the Cause.
These Things in the Beginning were well resented by the House of Commons, and with much Alacrity and Readiness, they agreed to grant a liberal Aid: But before it was brought to any Perfection, they were diverted by a Multitude of Questions, raised among them, touching their Liberties and Priviledges, and by other long Disputes, that the Bill did not pass in a long Time; and by that Delay, our Affairs were put into a far worse Case than at the First; our foreign Actions then in Hand, being thereby disgraced and ruined, for want of timely Help.
In this, as we are not willing to derogate from the Merit and good Intentions of those wise and moderate Men of that House, (to whose Forwardness we attribute it, that it was propounded and resolved so soon;) so we must needs say, That the Delay of passing it when it was resolved, occasioned by causeless Jealousies, stirred up by Men of another Temper, did much lessen both the Reputation and Reality of that Supply: And their Spirit, infused into many of the Commissioners and Assessors in the Country, hath returned up the Subsidies in such a scanty Proportion, as is infinitely short, not only of our great Occasions, but of the Precedents of former Subsidies, and of the Intentions of all well-affected Men in that House.
In those large Disputes, as we permitted many of our high Prerogatives to be debated, which in the best Times of our Predecessors had never been questioned, without Punishment or sharp Reproof; so we did endeavour to have shortned those Debates, for winning of Time, which would have much advantaged our great Affairs, both at home and abroad. And therefore, both by Speeches and Messages, we did often declare our gracious and clear Resolution, to maintain, not only the Parliament, but all our People, in their antient and just Liberties, without either Violation or Diminution; and, in the End, for their full Satisfaction and Security, did, by an Answer, framed in the Form by themselves desired, to their parliamentary Petition, confirm their antient and just Liberties and Rights, which we resolve, with all Constancy and Justice, to maintain.
This Parliament, howsoever, besides the Settling our necessary Supply, and their own Liberties, they wasted much Time in such Proceedings, (blasting our Government, as we are unwilling to remember) yet we suffered them to sit, until themselves desired us to appoint a Time for their Recess, not naming either Adjournment or Prorogation.
Whereupon, by Advice of our Council, we resolved to Prorogue and make a Session; and to that End prefixed a Day, by which they might (as was meet in so long a Sitting) finish some profitable and good Laws; and withal, gave Order for a gracious Pardon to all our Subjects: which, according to the Use of former Parliaments, passed the higher House, and was sent down to the Commons. All which being graciously intended by us, was ill entertained by some disaffected Persons of that House, who by their Artifices, in a short Time raised so much Heat and Distemper in the House, for no other visible Cause, but because we had declared our Resolution to Prorogue, as our Council advised, and not to Adjourn, as some of that House (after our Resolution declared, and not before) did manifest themselves to affect; that seldom hath greater Passion been seen in that House, upon the greatest Occasions. And some Glances in the House, but upon open Rumours abroad, were spread, That by the Answer to the Petition, we had given away, not only our Impositions upon Goods exported and imported, but the Tonnage and Poundage, (whereas in the Debate and Hammering of that Petition, there was no Speech or Mention in either House concerning those Impositions, but concerning Taxes and other Charges within the Land; much less was there any Thought thereby to debar us of Tonnage and Poundage, which, both before and after the Answer to that Petition, the House of Commons, in all their Speeches and Treaties, did profess they were willing to grant.) And at the same Time, many other Misrepresentations were raised of that Petition and Answer, by Men, not well distinguishing between well-ordered Liberty, and Licentiousness; as if by our Answer to that Petition, we had let loose the Reins of our Government. And in this Distemper, the House of Commons, laying aside the Pardon, (a Thing never done in any former Parliament) and other Business, fit to have been concluded in that Session, some of them went about to frame and contrive a Remonstrance against our receiving of Tonnage and Poundage, which was so far proceeded in, the Night before the prefixed Time for concluding the Session, and so hastened by the Contrivers thereof, that they meant to have put it to the Vote of the House the next Morning, before we should prorogue that Session. And therefore finding our gracious Favours in the Session, afforded to our People, so ill requited, and such sinister Strains made upon our Answer to that Petition, to the Diminution of our Profit, and (which was more) to the Danger of our Government: We resolved to prevent the Finishing of that Remonstrance, and other dangerous Intentions of some ill-affected Persons, by ending the Session the next Morning, some few Hours sooner than was expected; and by our own Mouth, to declare to both Houses the Cause thereof; and for hindring the Spreading of those sinister Interpretations of that Petition and Answer, to give some necessary Directions for settling and quieting our Government, until another Meeting; which we performed accordingly, the Six and twentieth of June last.
The Session thus ended, and the Parliament risen, That intended Remonstrance gave us occasion to look into the Business of Tonnage and Poundage. And therefore, tho' our Necessities pleaded strongly for us, yet we were not apt to strain that Point too far, but resolved to guide our self by the Practice of former Ages, and Examples of our most noble Predecessors; thinking those Counsels best warranted, which the Wisdom of former Ages, concurring with the present Occasions, did approve; and therefore gave Order for a diligent Search of Records: Upon which it was found, That although in the Parliament holden in the first Year of the Reign of King Edward the Fourth, the Subsidy of Tonnage and Poundage was not granted unto that King, but was first granted unto him by Parliament in the third Year of his Reign; yet the same was accounted and answered to that King, from the first Day of his Reign, all the first and second Years of his Reign, and until it was granted by Parliament. And that in the succeeding Times of King Richard the Third, King Henry the Seventh, King Henry the Eighth, King Edward the Sixth, Queen Mary, and Queen Elizabeth, the Subsidy of Tonnage and Poundage was not only enjoyed by every of those Kings and Queens, from the Death of each of them deceasing, until it was granted by Parliament unto the Successor; but in all those Times, (being for the most Part peaceable, and not burdened with like Charges and Necessities, as these modern Times) the Parliament did most readily and cheerfully, in the Beginning of every of those Reigns, grant the same, as a Thing most necessary for the Guarding of the Seas, Safety and Defence of the Realm, and Supportation of the royal Dignity. And in the Time of our royal Father, of blessed Memory, he enjoyed the same a full Year, wanting very few Days, before his Parliament began; and above a Year before the Act of Parliament for the Grant of it was passed; and yet, when the Parliament was assembled, it was granted without difficulty. And in our own Time, we quietly received the same three Years and more, expecting. with Patience, in several Parliaments, the like Grant thereof, as had been made to so many of our Predecessors; the House of Commons still professing, That Multitude of other Businesses, and not Want of Willingness on their Part, had caused the Settling thereof to be so long deferred. And therefore, finding so much Reason and Necessity for the receiving of the ordinary Duties in the Custom-house, to concur with the Practice of such a Succession of Kings and Queens, famous for Wisdom, Justice, and Government, and nothing to the contrary, but that intended Remonstrance, hatched out of the passionate Brains of a few particular Persons; we thought it was so far from the Wisdom and Duty of a House of Parliament, as we could not think, that any moderate and discreet Man, (upon composed Thoughts, setting aside Passion and Distemper) could be against receiving of Tonnage and Poundage; especially since we do, and still must, pursue those Ends, and undergo that Charge, for which it was first granted to the Crown: It having been so long and constantly continued to our Predecessors, as that in four several Acts of Parliament for the Granting thereof to King Edward the Sixth, Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth, and our blessed Father, it is in express Terms mentioned, to have been had and enjoyed by the several Kings, named in those Acts. Time out of Mind, by Authority of Parliament. And therefore, upon these Reasons, we held it agreeable to our kingly Honour, and necessary for the Safety and Good of our Kingdom, to continue the Receipt thereof, as so many of our Predecessors had done. Wherefore, when a few Merchants (being at first but one or two) somented, as it is well known, by those evil Spirits that would have hatched that undutiful Remonstrance, began to oppose the Payment of our accustomed Duties in the Custom-house; we gave Order to the Officers of our Customs to go on, notwithstanding that Opposition, in the Receiving of the usual Duties; and caused those that refused, to be warned to attend at the Council-board, that by the Wisdom and Authority of our Council, they might be reduced to Obedience and Duty; where some of them, without reverence or respect to the Honour and Dignity of that Presence, behaved themselves with such Boldness and Insolency of Speech, as was not to be endured by a far meaner Assembly, much less to be countenanced by a House of Parliament, against the Body of our Privy Council.
And, as in this we did what in Reason and Honour was fit for the present, so our Thoughts were daily intentive upon the Re-assembling of our Parliament, with full Intention, on our Part, to take away all Ill-understanding between us and our People; whose Loves, as we desired to continue and preserve, so we used our best Endeavours to prepare and facilitate the Way to it. And to this End, having taken a strict and exact Survey of our Government, both in the Church and Common-wealth, and what Things were most fit and necessary to be reformed: We found, in the first Place, that much Exception had been taken at a Book, Entituled, Appello Cœsarem, or, An Appeal to Cæsar; and published in the Year 1625, by Richard Montague, then Batchelor of Divinity, and now Bishop of Chichester; and because it did open the Way to those Schisms and Divisions, which have since ensued in the Church, we did, for Remedy and Redress thereof, and for the Satisfaction of the Consciences of our good People, not only by our publick Proclamation, call in that Book, which ministred Matter of Offence; but to prevent the like Danger for hereafter, re-printed the Articles of Religion established in the Time of Queen Elizabeth of famous Memory; and by a Declaration before those Articles, we did tie and restrain all Opinions to the Sense of those Articles, that nothing might be left for private Fancies and Innovations. For, we call God to record, before whom we stand, that it is, and always hath been, our Heart's Desire, to be found worthy of that Title, which we account the most glorious in all our Crown, Desender of the Faith. Neither shall we ever give Way to the Authorising of any Thing, whereby any Innovation may steal or creep into the Church; but to preserve that Unity of Doctrine and Discipline, established in the Time of Queen Elizabeth, whereby the Church of England hath stood and flourished ever since.
And as we were careful to make up all Breaches and Rents in Religion at home, so did we, by our Proclamation and Commandment, for the Execution of Laws against Priests, and popish Recusants, fortisy all Ways and Approaches against that foreign Enemy; which if it have not succeeded according to our Intention, we must lay the Fault where it is, in the subordinate Officers, and Ministers in the Country, by whose Remisness, Jesuits and Priests escape without Apprehension; and Recusants, from those Convictions and Penalties which the Law and our Commandment would have inflicted on them. For we do profess, That as it is our Duty, so it shall be our Care to command and direct well; but it is the Part of others to perform the ministerial Office. And when we have done our Office, we shall account our self, and all charitable Men will account us innocent both to God and Men. And those that are negligent, we will esteem as culpable both to God and us; and therefore will expect, that hereafter they give us a better Account.
And, as we have been careful for the Settling of Religion, and Quieting the Church; so were we not unmindful of the Preservation of the just and antient Liberties of our Subjects, which we secured to them by our gracious Answer to the Petition in Parliament, having not, since that Time, done any Act whereby to infringe them. But our Care is, and hereafter shall be, to keep them intire and inviolable, as we would do our own Right and Sovereignty, having for that Purpose enrolled the Petition and Answer in our Courts of Justice.
Next to the Care of Religion, and of our Subjects Rights, we did our Best for the Provident and well-ordering of that Aid and Supply, which was granted us the last Session, whereof no Part hath been wastefully spent, nor put to any other Use than those for which it was desired and granted; as, upon Payment of our Fleet and Army: wherein our Care hath been such, as we chose rather to discontent our dearest Friends and Allies, and our nearest Servants, than to leave our Soldiers and Mariners unsatisfied, whereby any Vexation or Disquiet might arise to our People. We have also, with Part of those Monies, begun to supply our Magazines, and Stores of Munition, and to put our Navy into a constant Form and Order. Our Fleet likewise is fitting, and almost in a Readiness, whereby the narrow Seas may be guarded, Commerce maintained, and our Kingdom secured from all foreign Attempts. These Acts of ours might have made this Impression in all good Minds, that we were careful to direct our Counsels, and dispose our Actions, as might most conduce to the Maintenance of Religion, Honour of our Government, and Safety of our People. But with mischievous Men, once ill-affected, seu bene seu male facta premunt; and whatsoever once seemed amiss, is ever remembered; but good Endeavours are never regarded.
Now all these Things that were the chief Complaints the last Session, being by our princely Care so seriously reformed, the Parliament re-assembled the 20th of January last. We expected, according to the Candour and Sincerity of our own Thoughts, that Men would have framed themselves for the Effecting of a right Understanding between us and our People. But some few malevolent Persons, like Empericks and lewd Artists, did strive to make new Work, and to have some Disease on Foot, to keep themselves in request, and to be employed and entertained in the Cure. And yet to manifest how much Offences have been diminished, the Committees for Grievances, Committees for Courts of Justice, and Committees for Trade, have, since the Sitting-down of the Parliament, received few Complaints, and those such, as they themselves have not thought to be of that Moment or Importance, with which our Ears should be acquainted.
No sooner therefore was the Parliament set down, but these ill-affected Men began to sow and disperse their Jealousies, by casting out some Glances and doubtful Speeches, as if the Subjects had not been so clearly and well dealt with, touching their Liberties, and touching the Petition answered the last Parliament. This being a plausible Theme, thought on for an ill Purpose, easily took hold on the Minds of many, that knew not the Practise: And thereupon the second Day of the Parliament, a Committee was appointed to search, whether the Petition and our Answer thereunto were enrolled in the Parliament-Roll, and in the Courts at Westminster, and in what Manner the same was done. And a Day also was then appointed, on which, the House being resolved into a Committee, should take into Consideration those Things, wherein the Liberty of the Subject had been invaded, against the Petition of Right. This, tho' it produced no other Effect of Moment or Importance, yet was sufficient to raise a Jealousy against our Proceedings, in such as were not well acquainted with the Sincerity and Clearness of them. There followed another of no less Skill: For although our Proceeding, before the Parliament, about Matters of Religion, might have satisfied any moderate Men of our zealous Care thereof, (as we are sure it did the most) yet, as bad Stomachs turn the best Things into their own Nature, for Want of good Digestion; so, those distemper'd Persons have done the like of our good Intents, by a bad and sinister Interpretation: For, when they did observe, that many honest and religious Minds in that House, did complain of those Dangers that did threaten the Church; they likewise took the same Word in their Mouth, and their Cry likewise was, Templum Domini, Templum Domini, when the true Care of the Church never came into their Hearts: And what the One did out of Zeal unto Religion, the Other took up as a plausible Theme, to deprave our Government, as if We, our Clergy, and Council, were either senseless or careless of Religion. And this wicked Practise hath been, to make us seem to walk before our People, as if we halted before God.
Having, by these Artifices, made a jealous Impression in the Hearts of many; and a Day being appointed to treat of the Grant of Tonnage and Poundage, at the Time prefixed, all express great Willingness to grant it. But a new Strain is found out, that it could not be done, without great Peril to the Right of the Subject, unless we should disclaim any Right therein, but by Grant in Parliament; and should cause all those Goods to be restored, which, upon commandment from us, or our Council, were stayed by our Officers, until those Duties were paid, and consequently should put our selves out of the Possession of the Tonnage and Poundage, before they were granted; for else, it was pretended, the Subject stood not in fit Case to grant it: A Fancy and Cavil raised of purpose to trouble the Business: it being evident, that all the Kings before named did receive that Duty, and were in actual Possession of it, before, and at the very Time, when it was granted to them by Parliament. And altho' we, to remove all Difficulties, did, from our own Mouth, in those clear and open Terms, that might have satisfied any moderate and well-disposed Minds, declare, That it was our Meaning, by the Gist of our People, to enjoy it, and that we did not challenge it of Right, but took it de bene esse, shewing thereby, not the Right, but the Necessity, by which we were to take it, (wherein we descended, for their Satisfaction, so far beneath our self, as we are confident, never any of our Predecessors did the like, nor was the like ever required or expected from them.) Yet for all this, the Bill of Tonnage and Poundage was laid aside, upon Pretence, they must first clear the Right of the Subject therein; under Colour whereof, they entertain the Complaints, not only of John Rolles, a Member of their House, but also of Richard Chambers, John Foukes, and Bartholomew Gilman, against the Officers of our Customs, for detaining their Goods, upon refusal to pay the ordinary Duty, accustomed to be paid for the same. And upon these Complaints, they send for the Officers of the Customs, enforcing them to attend, Day after Day, by the Space of a Month together; they cause them to produce their Letters Patents under our great Seal, and the Warrants made by our Privy Council, for levying of those Duties. They examine the Officers upon what Questions they please, thereby to entrap them for doing our Service and Commandment. In these and other their Proceedings, because we would not give the least Shew of Interruption, we endured long, with much Patience, both these, and sundry other strange and exorbitant Incroachments and Usurpations, such as were never before attempted in that House.
We are not ignorant, how much that House hath of late Years endeavoured to extend their Priviledges, by setting up general Committees for Religion, for Courts of Justice, for Trade, and the like; a Course never heard of until of late: So as, where in former Times the Knights and Burgesses were wont to communicate to the House, such Business as they brought from their Countries; now there are so many Chairs erected, to make Enquiry upon all Sorts of Men, where Complaints of all Sorts are entertained, to the unsufferable Disturbance and Scandal of Justice and Government, which having been tolerated a While by our Father, and our Self, hath daily grown to more and more Height; insomuch, that young Lawyers sitting there, take upon them to decry the Opinions of the Judges; and some have not doubted to maintain, That the Resolutions of that House must bind the Judges, a Thing never heard of in Ages past. But, in this last Assembly of Parliament, they have taken on them much more then ever before.
They sent Messengers to examine our Attorney General (who is an Officer of Trust and Secrecy) touching the Execution of some Commandments of ours, of which, without our Leave first obtained, he was not to give Account to any but our Self. They sent a captious and directory Message to the Lord Treasurer, Chancellor, and Barons of the Exchequer, touching some judicial Proceedings of theirs in our Court of Exchequer.
They sent Messengers to examine upon sundry Questions, our two Chief Justices, and three other of our Judges, touching their judicial Proceedings at the Goal-delivery at Newgate, of which, they are not accountable to the House of Commons.
And whereas Suits were commenced in our Court of Star-chamber, against Richard Chambers, John Foukes, Bartholomew Gilman, and Richard Phillips, by our Attorney General, for great Misdemeanours; they resolved, that they were to have Priviledge of Parliament against us for their Persons, for no other Cause, but because they had Petitions depending in that House; and (which is more strange) they resolved, That a Signification should be made from that House, by a Letter, to issue under the Hand of their Speaker, unto the Lord Keeper of our Great Seal, that no Attachments should be granted out against the said Chambers, Foukes, Gilman, or Phillips, during their said Priviledge of Parliament. Whereas it is far above the Power of that House, to give Direction to any of our Courts at Westminster, to stop Attachments against any Man, tho' never so strongly priviledged; the Breach of Priviledge being not in the Court that grants, but in the Party or Minister that puts in execution such Attachments. And therefore, if any such Letter had come to the Lord Keeper, as it did not, he should have highly offended us if he had obeyed it. Nay, they went so far, as they spared not the Honour of our Council-board, but examined their Proceedings in the Case of our Customers, interrogating what this or that Man of our Council said, in Direction of them in the Business committed to their Charge. And when one of the Members of that House, speaking of our Counsellors, said, We had wicked Counsel; and another said, That the Council and Judges sought to trample under Feet the Liberty of the Subject; and a Third traduced our Court of Star-Chamber, for the Sentence given against Savage, they passed without Check or Censure by the House. By which may appear, how far the Members of that House have of late swollen beyond the Rules of Moderation, and the Modesty of former Times; and this under Pretence of Priviledge and Freedom of Speech, whereby they take Liberty to declare against all Authority of Council and Courts at their Pleasure.
They sent for our Sheriff of London to examine him in a Cause, whereof they had no Jurisdiction; their true and antient Jurisdiction extending only to their own Members, and to the Conservation of their Priviledges, and not to the Censure of foreign Persons and Causes, which have no Relation to their Priviledges, the same being but a late Innovation. And yet upon an enforced Strain of a Contempt, for not answering to their Satisfaction, they commit him to the Tower of London, using that outward Pretext for a Cause of committing him, the true and inward Cause being, for that he had shewed himself dutiful to Us and our Commandments, in the Matter concerning our Customs.
In these Innovations (which we will never permit again) they pretended indeed our Service; but their Drist was, to break, by this Means, through all Respects and Ligaments of Government, and to erect an universal over-swaying Power to themselves, which belongs only to us, and not to them.
Lastly, In their Proceedings against our Customers, they went about to censure them as Delinquents, and to punish them, for staying some Goods of some factious Merchants, in our Store-house, for not paying those Duties which themselves had formerly paid, and which the Customers, without Interruption, had received of all other Merchants, many Years before, and to which they were authorised, both by our Great Seal, and by several Directions and Commandments from us and our Privy Council.
To give some Colour to their Proceedings herein, they went about to create a new Priviledge (which we will never admit) That a Parliament-man hath Priviledge for his Goods against the King; the Consequence whereof would be, That he may not be constrained to pay any Duties to the King, during the Time of Priviledge of Parliament. It is true, they would have this Case to have been between the Merchants, and our Farmers of our Customs, and have severed them from our Interest and Commandment, thereby the rather to make them liable to the Censure and Punishment of that House. But on the other Side, we holding it both unjust and dishonourable, to withdraw our self from our Officers, in any Thing they did by our commandment, or to disavow any Thing that we had enjoyned to be done; upon Monday the 23d of February, sent a Message unto them by Secretary Cook, thanking them for the Respect they had shewed, in severing the Interest of our Farmers from our own Interest and Commandment. Nevertheless we were bound in Honour to acknowledge a Truth, that, what was done by them, was done by our express Commandment and Direction; and if for doing thereof our farmers should suffer, it would highly concern us in Honour. Which Message was no sooner delivered unto them, but in a tumultuous and discontented Manner, they called, Adjourn, Adjourn; and thereupon, without any Cause given on our Part, in a very unusual Manner, adjourned until the Wednesday following.
On which Day, by the uniform Wisdom of our Privy Council, we caused both Houses to be adjourned until the second Day of March; hoping, that in the mean Time, a better and more right Understanding might be begotten between us, and the Members of that House, whereby the Parliament might come to an happy Issue.
But understanding by good Advertisement, that their Discontent did not in that Time digest, and pass away; we resolved to make a second Adjournment, until the 10th of March; which was done, as well to take Time to our self, to think of some Means to accommodate those Difficulties, as to give them Time to advise better; and accordingly, we gave commandment for a second Adjournment in both Houses, and for Cessation of all Business till the Day appointed; which was very dutifully obeyed in the higher House, no Man contradicting or questioning it. But when the same Commandment was delivered in the House of Commons by their Speaker, it was straightways contradicted; and although the Speaker declared unto them, it was an absolute Right and Power in us to adjourn, as well as to prorogue or dissolve; and declared and read unto them divers Precedents of that House, to warrant the same; yet, our Commandment was most contemptuously disobeyed; and some rising up to speak, said, They had Business to do before the House should be adjourned. (fn. 1)
Whilst the Duke of Buckingham lived, he was intituled to all the Distempers and ill Events of former Parliaments; and therefore much Endeavour was used to demolish him, as the only Wall of Separation between us and our People. But now he is dead, no Alteration was found among those envenomed Spirits, which troubled then the blessed Harmony between us and our Subjects, and continue still to trouble it. For now, under the Pretence of publick Care of the Commonwealth, they suggest new and causeless Fears, which in their own Hearts they know to be false; and devise new Engines of Mischief, so to cast a Blindness upon the good Affections of our People, that they may not see the Truth, and Largeness of our Heart towards them. So that now it is manifest, the Duke was not alone the Mark these Men shot at, but was only as a near Minister of ours, taken up, on the Bye, and in their Passage to their more secret Designs; which were only to cast our Affairs into a desperate Condition, to abate the Powers of our Crown, and to bring our Government into obloquy; that, in the End, all Things may be overwhelmed with Anarchy and Confusion.
We do not impute these Disasters to the whole House of Commons, knowing that there were among them many religious, grave, and well-minded Men; but the sincerer and better Part of the House was over-born, by the Practises and Clamours of the Other, who, careless of their Duties, and taking advantage of the Times, and our Necessities, have enforced us to break off this Meeting; which, had it been answered with like Duty on their Parts, as it was invited and begun with Love on ours, might have proved happy and glorious, both to us and this whole Nation.
We have thus declared the manifold Causes we had, to dissolve this Parliament, whereby all the World may see, how much they have forgotten their former Engagements at the Entry into the War, themselves being perswaders to it; promising to make us feared by our Enemies, and esteemed by our Friends. And how they turned the Necessities grown by that War, to enforce us to yield to Conditions incompatible with Monarchy.
And now that our People may discern, that these Provocations of evil Men (whose Punishments we reserve to a due Time) have not changed our good Intentions to our Subjects, we do here profess to maintain the true Religion and Doctrine, established in the Church of England, without admitting or conniving at any back-sliding, either to Popery or Schism. We do also declare, That we will maintain the antient and just Rights and Liberties of our Subjects, with so much Constancy and Justice, that they shall have Cause to acknowledge, That under our Government and gracious Protection, they live in a more happy and free Estate, than any Subjects in the Christian World. Yet, let no Man hereby take the Boldness to abuse that Liberty, turning it to Licentiousness; nor misinterpret the Petition, by perverting it to a lawless Liberty, wantonly or srowardly, under that or any other Colour, to resist lawful and necessary Authority. For as we will maintain our Subjects in their just Liberties, so we do and will expect, that they yield as much Submission and Duty to our royal Prerogatives, and as ready Obedience to our Authority and Commandments, as hath been performed to the greatest of our Predecesssors.
And for our Ministers, we will not that they be terrified by those harsh Proceedings, that have been strained against some of them. For, as we will not command any Thing unjust or dishonourable, but shall use our Authority and Prerogatives for the Good of our People; so we will expect, that our Ministers obey us, and they shall assure themselves, we will protect them.
As for our Merchants, we let them know, we shall always endeavour to cherish and enlarge the Trade of such as be dutiful, without burthening them beyond what is fitting: But the Duty of Five in the Hundred, for guarding of the Seas, and defence of the Realm, to which we hold our selves still obliged, (and which Duty hath continued without Interruption, so many Successions of Ages) we hold no good or dutiful Subject will deny it, being so necessary for the Good of the whole Kingdom. And if any factious Merchant will affront us, in a Thing so reasonable, and wherein we require no more, nor in no other Manner, than so many of our Predecessors have done, and have been dutifully obey'd: Let them not deceive themselves, but be assured, that we shall find honourable and just Means to support our Estate, vindicate our Sovereignty, and preserve the Authority which God hath put into our Hands.
And now having laid down the Truth and Clearness of our Proceedings, all wise and discreet Men may easily judge of those Rumours, and jealous Fears, that are maliciously and wickedly bruited abroad; and may discern, by Examination of their own Hearts, whether (in respect of the free Passage of the Gospel, indifferent and equal Administration of Justice, Freedom from Oppression, and the great Peace and Quietness which every Man enjoyeth under his own Vine and Fig-tree) the Happiness of this Nation can be parallel'd, by any of our Neighbour-Countries; and if not, then to acknowledge their own Blessedness, and for the same be thankful to God, the Author of all Goodness.