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A.D. 1679.] EXPEDIENTS PROPOSED BY THE KING.
of protestantism had not abandoned their flagitious designs, though so many of their agents had been
convicted and executed ; that the life of the king was daily in the most imminent danger; and that his fall would be inevitably followed by the conflagration of the city, the massacre of the orthodox inhabitants, and the ascendency of popery and arbitrary power. At the same time information was conveyed to the committee of secrecy, that several bodies of French troops had been ordered to march to the coast, to be placed under the command of the duke of York, for the purpose of making a descent in England; and, when the minds of the members were sufficiently excited by these reports and harangues, votes were moved and carried to provide means for the security of the royal person and of the protestant religion ; to address the king for the revocation of all licenses granted to papists to reside in the capital; to order for execution Pickering, who had obtained a respite, and all priests who had been convicted of having exercised their functions within the realm; to send by the lord Russell April to the house of lords for their concurrence a resolution 27. that “the duke of York's being a papist and the hope of “ his coming to the crown had given the greatest coun
tenance and encouragement to the conspiracies and designs of the papists;" and to prepare for the information of the house an abstract of all the evidence which tended in any manner to affect that prince*. Charles, aware of the real object of these votes, thought it time to interfere, and to moderate by concession the violence of the party. He proposed in the council to enact that, in the event of a catholic succeeding to the throne, all presentations to church livings should be taken from him and vested in protestant
trustees ; that the parliament in existence at the time of the last king's demise should continue to sit, or, if none were then sitting, the
*James, i. 546. Com. Journ. App. 26, 27. Parl. Hist. iv. 1125. Alg. Sydney's Letters, 36.
latest parliament that sat should re-assemble; and that no judges, no members of the council, no lord-lieutenants or their deputies, and no officers of the navy should be appointed or displaced but by authority of parliament. Shaftesbury declared against such expedients; they were an attempt to bind Samson with withes; they were
shackles from which any king might disengage himself April without difficulty. But the majority of his colleagues 30.
expressed their approbation, and the chancellor in the presence of the king laid the plan before the two houses *. The lords returned an address of thanks; the commons passed to the order of the day, and attended
to the report of the committee, appointed to search for May evidence against the duke. It stated on the authority 11. of Coleman's letters that he had corresponded with the
pope ; that his first communication was lost on the way; that the second drew tears of joy from the pontiff; and that in the third he excused the consent which he had given to the marriage of his daughter with the protestant prince of Orange. This report provoked an order to prepare a bill for his exclusion from the English throne, and a vote that the members would stand by his majesty with their lives and fortunes, and “if he should come by a violent death, would revenge his death to the
utmost upon the papists 4." 15.
The bill of exclusion provided that, "whereas the emissaries, priests, and agents of the pope had seduced James duke of York to the communion of the church of Rome, and prevailed on him to enter into negotiations with the pope and his nuncios, and to advance the power and greatness of the French king, to the end that by the descent of the crown upon a papist, and by foreign alliances, they might be able to succeed in their wicked designs, the said James should be incapable of A.D. 1679.]
• Temple, ii. 501. James (Memoirs), 548. L. Journ. 547. C. Journ. App. 30. Temple joined Shaftesbury in the council, but on a different ground: that, if such restraints were imposed on a catholic king, they would never be shaken off by his protestant successors. Temple, 502.
C. Journ. May 11. Reresby, 89. Sydney's
ers, 65. 68.
BILL OF EXCLUSION.
inheriting the crowns of England and Ireland ; that, on the demise of his majesty without heirs of his body, his dominions should devolve, as if the duke of York were also dead, on that person next in succession, who had always professed the protestant religion established by law; that if the duke of York, who was then in foreign parts, should ever return into these dominions, he should be, and was thereby attainted of high treason; and that if any one, during the king's life or afterwards, should aid or counsel the said duke, or should correspond with him either within or without the realm, or endeavour his return, or pronounce him the lawful heir, every such person so offending should be adjudged guilty of high treason *.
In support of this measure it was argued, 1. that the Legislative power residing in the parliament was entire and supreme, extending to all matters of policy, and uncontrollable by former enactments : whence it followed that the present parliament was as capable of revising, modifying, repealing laws, and consequently of regulating the succession to the crown, as any preceding parliament by which that succession had been established ; 2. that the great end of government was the common welfare, and that it was therefore the duty of parliament to exclude the duke of York, if it could be shown that such exclusion was necessary to the safety of the nation; 3. that the great inducement to the papists to attempt the assassination of the king, the conflagration of the capital, and the destruction of the protestant religion, was the knowledge that the duke was the next heir to the crown; which inducement, and with it the dangers which it threatened, would by that bill be taken away; 4. that the preservation of the protestant religion, required the exclusion of a prince who would deem himself bound in conscience to labour for its subversion; 5. that he had in fact disabled himself; for the king by law was
• Narrative of divers remarkable Proceedings in the last Sessions, p. 20, London, 1679.
head of the church; and the duke could not take upon himself to be that head, because he professed to believe that the supremacy resided in the pope.
The duke's advocates replied, 1. that there were certain fundamental laws, such as the law of Magna Charta, and the law of succession, which no parliament was competent to alter: 2. that the houses had no right to commit injustice : the crown was the inheritance of the duke; it belonged to him as truly as the inheritance of an entailed estate belonged to the next in the entail ; that to deprive him of it was to punish; and to punish without charge or trial was contrary to justice : 3. that the dangers to the protestant religion, anticipated from the government of the duke, were not necessarily connected with the succession, because they might be obviated by the adoption of the expedients which the king had suggested : 4. that the exclusion itself presented dangers of a very formidable nature: the Scottish would not submit to the dictation of the English parliament : James would still succeed to the crown of Scotland; he was a brave and persevering prince; he would undoubtedly claim his right by force of arms; he would find a strong party within the realm, and powerful aid from without; and, if he were to obtain the crown by conquest, the protestant religion would be exposed to greater danger, than if he should succeed in
the proper course, and under the limitations which had May been recommended from the throne*. The great strug. 21. gle between the parties was reserved for the second
reading, preparatory to which the committee of secrecy made its report. Out of the immense mass of papers seized in consequence of the plot, sixty-four letters had been selected : extracts from these, or the substance of
C. Journ. May 15, 21. Burnet, ii. 203. Reresby, 90, 91. Parl. Hist. 1131. 1136. “Two days after the committal of the bill,” says Reresby, "I was at the king's couchée, and wondered to see him quite cheerful “ amidst such an intricacy of troubles. but it was not in his nature to “think or perplex himself much about anything." 95.
RIGHT OF BISHOPS TO VOTE.
193 certain passages in them, were collected under separate heads; and this collection was read to the house as satisfactory proof of the dangerous designs attributed to the duke. A division followed, and the bill was passed by a majority of seventy-nine.*
This result cast a deep gloom over the cause of the duke of York; but his adversaries forfeited by their imprudence the benefit of their victory. They pursued too many objects at once; they were embarrassed and retarded by the necessity of dividing their attention, which was incessantly called from the bill of exclusivn to the impeachment of Danby and the catholic lords, and to the angry disputes which speedily grew out of those impeachments. 1. The commons, with the speaker May at their head, proceeded in a body to the house of lords, 5. and demanded judgment against the earl of Danby; but 6. the lords, on his petition, assigned to him a day to show with the aid of counsel the validity of his pardon, and the commons, in a moment of irritation, passed a vote,
9. that if any commoner, without the permission of their house, should speak in support of that pardon, he should be accounted a betrayer of the liberties of Englishmen. 2. It was observed that, in all questions connected with the impeachment of Danby, the crown, with the aid of the prelates, could rely on a majority in the house of lords; and to deprive it of that majority, the new doctrine was set forth, that the bishops had no right to sit and vote on the trials of peers in capital cases. Its advocates maintained that the prelates, though lords of parliament, were not the peers or equals of the temporal lords, for the following reasons: 1. they sate in parliament only as the actual possessors of certain ecclesiastical
* A copy was sent to the lords, and afterwards the collection was published for the information of the people, under the title of “The Popish “Damnable plot against our Religion and Liberties fairly laid open and “ discovered in the Breviats of Threescore and Four Letters, &c., 1680.” To ac impartial reader these breviats will not offer a shadow of proof, though men whose passions were already inflamed saw in them with the aid of the accompanying comment, much that wore such an appearance. The numbers on the division were 207 and 128. Journals, May 21.