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sembly will leave no kind of room for such divinations. You that have the happiness to live under so excellent a monarchy, so admirable a constitution and temper of government; you that remember what the want of this government cost us, and the miserable desolations which attended it, have all the motives, and are under all possible obligations, to secure and advance the interest of it. The king, on his part, meets you with so open and so full a heart, and so absolutely resolved to do his utmost to glad the hearts of his people, that it must be the strangest infelicity in the world, if either he or his subjects should meet with any disappointments here; for the king hath no desires but what are public, no ends or aims which terminate in himself; all his endeavours are so entirely bent upon the welfare of his whole dominions, that he doth not think any man a good subject, who doth not heartily love his country : and therefore let no man pass for a good patriot, who doth not heartily love and serve his prince. Private men, indeed, are subject to be misled by private interests, and may entertain some vain and slender hopes of surviving the public; but a prince is sure to fall with it, and therefore can never have any interests divided from it. To live and die with the king is the highest profession a subject can make, and sometimes ’tis a profession only, and no more; but in a king 'tis an absolute necessity; 'tis a fate inevitable that he must live and die with his people. Away then with all the vain imaginations of those who infuse a misbelief of the government. Away with all those ill meant distinctions between the court and the country, between the natural and the politic capacity, and let us all who go about to persuade others that there are several interests, have a care of that precipice to which such principles may lead them ; for the first men that ever began to distinguish of their duty, never left off till they had quite distinguished themselves out of their allegiance. Let no conention then come near this place, but that of a noble
emulation who shall serve his country best, by well sery. ing of the king : let no passion enter here, but that of a pious zeal to lay hold upon all opportunities of promoting the honour and service of the crown, till our enemies despair of ever profiting by any disorders amongst us; and let all who pray for the long life and prosperity of the king add their endeavours to their prayers, and study to prolong his sacred life, by giving him all the joys of heart which can arise from the demonstrations of the lively and the warm affections of his people.
DUKE OF BUCKINGHAM,
His Speech on the Dissolution of Parliament.
My Lords, I HAVE often troubled your lordships with my discourse in this house ; but I confess I never did it with more trouble to myself than I do at this time, for I scarce know where I should begin, or what I have to say to your lordships : on the one side, I am afraid of being thought an unquiet and pragmatical man; for in this age, every man that cannot bear every thing, is called unquiet; and he that does ask questions, for which we ought to be concerned, is looked upon as pragmatical. On the other side, I am still more afraid of being thought a dishonest man; and of all men, I am most afraid of being thought so by myself, for every one is the best judge of the integrity of his own intentions ; and though it does not always follow that he is pragma- . tical whom others take to be so, yet this never fails to be true,--that he is most certainly a knave who takes himself to be so. Nobody is answerable for more understanding than God Almighty has given him; and therefore, though I should be in the wrong if I tell
your lordships truly and plainly what I am really convinced of, I shall behave myself like an honest man; for it is my duty, so long as I have the honour to sit in this house, to hide nothing from your lordships, which I think may concern his majesty's service, your lordships' interest, or the good and quiet of the people of England.
The question, in my opinion, which now lies before your lordships, is not what we are to do, but whether at this time we can do any thing as a parliament; it being very clear to me that the parliament is dis. solved : and if, in this opinion, I have the misfortune to be mistaken, I have another misfortune joined to it, for I desire to maintain the argument with all the judges and lawyers in England, and leave it afterwards to your lordships to decide whether I am in the right or RO. This, my lords, I speak not out of arrogance, but in my own justification, because if I were not thoroughly convinced that what I have now to urge is grounded upon the fundamental laws of England, and that the not pressing it this time might prove to be of a most dangerous consequence both to his majesty and the whole nation, I should have been loth to start a notion which, perhaps, may not be very agreeable to some people; and yet, my lords, when I consider where I am, whom I now speak to, and what was spoken in this place about the time of the prorogation, I can hardly believe what I have to say will be distasteful to your lordships.
I remember very well how your lordships were then displeased with the house of commons; and I remember too as well what reasons they gave you to be so. It is not so long since, but that I suppose your lordships may call to mind that, after several odd passages between us, your lordships were so incensed, that a motion was made here for an address to his majesty about the dissolution of this parliament; and though it failed of being carried in the affirmative by two or three voices, yet this in the debate was remarkable, that it prevailed with Vol. I.
much the major part of your lordships that were here present, and was only overpowered by the proxies of those lords who never heard the arguments. What change there has been since, either in their behaviour or in the state of our affairs, that should make your lordships change your opinions, I have not yet heard ; and therefore, if I can make it appear, (as I presume I shall) that by law the parliament is dissolved, I presume your lordships ought not to be offended at me for it.
I have often wondered how it should come to pass, that this house of commons, in which there are so many honest and so many worthy gentlemen, should yet be less respectful to your lordships, as certainly they have been, than any house of commons that were ever chosen in England: and yet, if the matter be a little enquired into, the reason of it will plainly appear : for, my lords, the very nature of the house of commons is changed; they do not think now that they are an assembly that are to return to their own homes, and become private men again, (as by the laws of the land, and the ancient constitution of parliaments, they ought to be,) but they look upon themselves as a standing senate, and as a number of men picked out to be legislators for the rest of their lives; and if that be the case, my lords, they have reason to believe themselves our equals ; but, my lords, it is a dangerous thing to try new experiments in a govern
Men do not foresee the ill consequences that must happen, when they go about to alter those essential parts of it upon which the whole frame depends, as now, in our case, the customs and constitutions of par. liament ; for all governments are artificial things, and every part of them has a dependance one upon another, and with them, as with clocks and watches, if you should put great wheels in the place of little ones, and little ones in the place of great ones, all the movements would stand still; so that we cannot alter any one part of a government, without prejudicing the motions of the whole.
If this, my lords, were well considered, people would be more cautious how they went out of the old honest English way and method of proceeding. But it is not my business to find fault; and therefore, if your lordships will give me leave, I shall go on to shew you why, in my opinion, we are at this time no parliament. The ground of this opinion of mine, is taken from the ancient and unquestionable statutes of rhis rem ; and give me leave to tell your lordships, by the way, that statutes are not like women, for they are not one jot the worse for being old. The first statute that I shall take notice of is that in the 4th year of Edward III. chap. 14, thus set down in the printed book: Item. It is accord. ed, that a parliament shall be holden every year once ; and more often if it need be. Now, though these words are as plain as a pike-staff, and no man living that is not a scholar, could possibly mistake the meaning of them, yet the grammarians of those days did make a shift to explain, that the words “if need be," did relate as well to the words every year once, as to the words more often ; and so by this grammatical whímsey of theirs, have made this statute to signify just nothing at all. For this reason, my lords, in the 36th year of the same king's reign, a new act of parliament was made, in which those unfortunate words "if need be," are left out; and that act of parliament relating to magna charta, and other statutes made for the public good. Item, For maintenance of these articles and statutes, and the redress of divers mischiefs and grievances which daily happen, a parliament shall be holden every year, as at other times was ordained by another statute. Here now, my lords, there is not left the least colour or shadow for mistake ; for it is plainly declared, that the kings of England must call a parliament once within a year; and the reasons why they are bound to do so, are as plainly set down; namely, for the maintenance of magna charta, and other statutes of the same importance ; and for preventing the mischiefs and grievances which daily happen.