« PreviousContinue »
the reasons given, in the said protestation, did reflect upon the honour of the house, and were of dangerous consequence." And I cannot here forbear to mention the worth and honour of that noble lord Holles, suitable to all his former life; that whilst the debate was at the height, and the protesting lords in danger of the Tower, he begged the house to give him leave to put his name to that protest, and take his fortune with those lords, because his sickness had forced him out of the house the day before; so that, not being at the question, he could not, by the rules of the house, sign it. This vote against those twelve lords begat the next day the following protestation, signed by one and twenty:
“ Whereas it is the undoubted privilege of each peer in parliament, when a question is past contrary to his vote and judgment, to enter his protestation against it; and that, in pursuance thereof, the bill, entitled • An act to prevent the dangers which may arise from persons disaffected to the government,' being conceived by some lords to be of so dangerous a nature, as that it was not fit to receive the countenance of a commitment; those lords did protest against the commitment of the said bill; and, the house having taken exceptions at some expressions in their protestation, those lords, who were present at the debate, did all of them severally and voluntarily declare, that they had no intention to reflect upon any member, much less upon the whole house; which, as is humbly conceived, was more than in strictness did consist with that absolute freedom of protesting, which is inseparable from every member of this house, and was done by them merely out of their great respect to the house, and their earnest desire to give all satisfaction concerning themselves, and the clearness of their intentions; yet the house, not satisfied with this their declaration, but proceeding to a vote, “That the reasons given in the said protestation do reflect upon the honour of the house, and are of dangerous consequence;' which is, in our humble opinion, a great discountenancing of the very liberty of protesting : wę, whose names are underwritten, conceive qurselves
and the whole house of peers extremely concerned that this great wound should be given (as we humbly apprehend) to so essential a privilege of the whole peerage of this realm, as their liberty of protesting; do now (according to our unquestionable right) make use of the same liberty to enter this our dissent from, and protestation against, the said yote :
• “ BUCKS
• After this bill being committed to a committee of -the whole house, the first thing insisted upon by the lords, against the bill, was, that there ought to be passed some previous votes to secure the rights of peerage, and privilege of parliament, before they entered upon the debate or amendments of such a bill as this. And at last two previous votes were obtained, which I need not here set down, because the next protestation hath them both in terminis : • “ Whereas upon the debate on the bill, entitled, • An act to prevent the dangers which may arise from persons disaffected to the government,' it was ordered by the house of peers, the 30th of April last, that no “ oath should be imposed, by any bill, or otherwise, upon the peers, with a penalty, in case of refusal, to lose their places, or votes in parliament, or liberty to debate therein: and whereas also, upon debate of the same, it was ordered, the third of this instant May, that there shall be nothing in this bill, which shall extend to deprive either of the houses of parliament, or any of their members, of their just, ancient freedom and privilege of debating any matter or business, which shall be propounded or debated in either of the said houses, or at any conference or committee of both, or either of the said houses of parliament; or touching the repeal, or alteration of any old, or preparing any new laws; or the redressing any public grievance; but that the said members of either of the said houses, and the assistants of the house of peers, and every of them, shall have the same freedom of speech, and all other privileges whatsoever, as they had before the making of this act; both which orders were passed as previous directions unto the committee of the whole house, to whom the said bill was committed, to the end that nothing should remain in the said bill, which might any ways tend towards the depriving of either of the houses of parliament, or any of their members, of their ancient freedom of debates, or votes, or other privileges whatsoever; yet the house being pleased, upon the report from the committee, to pass a vote, That all persons who have, or shall have right to sit and vote in either house of parliament, should be added to the first enacted clause in the said bill, whereby an oath is to be imposed upon them as members of either house; which vote, we whose names are underwritten, being peers of the realm, do humbly conceive, is not agreeable to the said two previous orders; and it having been humbly offered and insisted upon by divers of us, that the proviso in the late act, intitled, “ An act for preventing dangers that may happen from popish recusants,' might be added to the bill depending, whereby the peerage of every peer of this realm, and all their privileges, might be preserved in this bill, as fully as in the said late act; yet the house not pleasing to admit of the said proviso, but proceeding to the passing of the said vote; we do humbly, upon the grounds aforesaid, and according to our undoubted right, enter this our dissent from, and protestation against the same :
This was their last protestation; for, after this, they altered their method, and reported not the votes of the committee, and parts of the bill to the house, as they passed them; but took the same order as is observed in other bills, not to report unto the house, until they had gone through with the bill, and so report all the amendments together. This they thought a way of more despatch, and which did prevent all protestations, until it came to the house ; for the votes of a commit. tee, though of the whole house, are not thought of that weight, as that there should be allowed the entering a dissent of them, or protestation against them.
The bill being read over at the committee, the lord keeper objected against the form of it, and desired that he might put it in another method; which was easily allowed him, that being not the dispute. But it was observable the hand of God was upon them in this whole affair; their chariot-wheels were taken off, they drew heavily; a bill so long designed, prepared, and of that moment to all their affairs, had hardly a sensible composure.
The first part of the bill that was fallen upon, was, “ whether there should be an oath at all in the bill;" and this was the only part the court-party defended with reason. For, the whole bill being to enjoin an oath, the house might reject it, but the committee was not to destroy it. Yet the lord Hallifax did with that quickness, learning, and elegance, which are inseparable from all his discourses, make appear, that as there really was no security to any state by oaths; so also no private person, much less statesman, would ever order his affairs as relying on it: no man would ever sleep with open doors, or unlocked-up treasure or plate, should all the town be sworn not to rob; so that the use of multiplying oaths had been most commonly to exclude or disturb some honest conscientious men, who would never have prejudiced the government. It was also insisted on by that lord and others, that the oath, imposed by the bill, contained three clauses; the two former assertory, and the last promissory; and that it was worthy the consideration of the bishops, whether assertory oaths, which were properly appointed to give testimony of a matter of fact, whereof a man is capable to be fully assured by the evidence of his senses, be lawful to be made use of to confirm or invalidate doctrinal propositions; and whether that legislative power, which imposes such an oath, does not necessarily assume to itself an infallibility? And, as for promissory oaths, it was desired that those learned prelates would consider the opinion of Grotius, “ De jure belli et pacis," who seems to make it plain, that those kind of oaths are forbidden by our Saviour Christ, Matt. v. 34, 37*; and whether it would not become the fathers of the church, when they have well weighed that and other places of the New Testament, to be more tender in multiplying oaths, than hitherto the great men of the church have been ? But the bishops carried the point, and an oath was ordered by the major vote.
The next thing in consideration, was about the persons that should be enjoined to take this oath ; and
* Notandum hic est obiter, quod in Christi præceptis, et apud Jacobum de non jurando dicitur, proprie non ad assertorium juramentum, cujus apud Paulum apostolum exempla extant aliquot, sed ad promissorium futuri incerti pertinere. Ostendit hoc evidenter oppositio illa in verbis Christi: “ Audistis dictum antiquis, non pejerabis, sed reddes Domino juramentum. Ego vero dico vobis, ne jurate omnino." Et ratio quam Jacobus adjicit: ur, als UTÓxgirly włonie, id est “ne fallaces invenianini." Nam eum sensum vox UTÓXFirews apud Hellenistas habet ...... Idem evincit illud in Christi verbis έςω δε λόγος υμων, ναι ναι, ου, ού, quod sic Jacobus explicat, 77W dè upcov tò vai yai, xal, TÒ OU OU, ...... Nam prius vai et ou promissum significat, posterius ejus implementum, &c. De jure belli et pacis, lib. II. cap. xiii. 9.21.