Page images


(Lord Delamere, and afterwards created Earl of Warrington,)

Was member for Cheshire in the time of Charles II. and a great opposer of the court, and popery. He was committed to the Tower for high-treason, by James II. but was acquitted. He died 1694. There is a collection of his speeches in one volume octavo. That which I have given is not, perhaps, the best; but there is an air of homely interest in it, a mixture of local and personal feeling, which makes it the most amusing. The independent country gentleman, the justice of the peace, the custos rotulorum (to which latter office he appears to have been as much attached as justice Shallow himself could be,) his own personal disinterestedness, his political zeal, and his great friendship for sir Thomas Manwaring, who seems to have been a man of much importance in his time, though now totally forgotten, are all brought together in a way that I like exceedingly; and I can assure the reader, that if I do not present him with a good collection, by following my own inclination in taking those speeches which I like myself, and merely because I like them, I should, however, make a much worse in any other way.

His Speech on putting certain Justices out of Commission.


WAS in hopes that some gentlemen would have prevented me in what I have to say; for I fear the house is under a great mistake, as to those gentlemen of the house who are put out of the commission of the peace; for it is to speak to that I chiefly stand up. I acknowledge that it is an unanswerable thing, that other gentlemen were put out; but no doubt it was upon very weighty and warrantable grounds, that the gentlemen of the house were put out.

For without doubt his majesty, or whoever he be that advised him to it, did think it reasonable, and was sensible, that we who attend the service of our country in this place, do spend our time and money, and neglect

our own affairs; and therefore, when we come home it's fit that we have a time of rest, and that we be eased both in our bodies and purses, and be at leisure to settle our own concerns; and not that we should be tossed from one chargeable and troublesome employment to another; so that we have great cause to be thankful for the care that is taken of us.

Besides there is a further regard had to us: for this is a dangerous time to put the laws in execution against the papists, because there are examples where magis trates (some) have been murthered, others attempted to be assassinated, for putting the laws in execution against the papists; and because we appeared to be zealous in it, therefore this care is taken of us. I sup pose that might be the chief reason why I was put out, because I have helped to convict about five thousand papists in Lancashire.

And furthermore, it was necessary to know how we stand in the thoughts of our countrymen; whether they have a good opinion of us now we are turned out of office, because it looked like a designed disgrace; for my part it has gained me ground; and I believe every gentleman else finds his countrymen not to esteem the worse of him: I rather think better. Therefore, seeing our counties believe us to be honest men, there's no great question but we shall be in great esteem at White. hall, now they have had this trial of us; for Whitehall is very apt to incline to the opinion of the country; and that cart is not well upon the wheels, when it is other


Therefore, for my part, I am very thankful that I am put out. I will assure you I find my purse the fuller for it, and I find my country to pay me altogether as much respect, if not more, than formerly. There is but one thing that I grudged to part with, and that was the office of custos rotulorum, which had been in my family for several generations; and for that I hoped a particu lar reason might have been assigned why they took it

from me: but from that day to this, I cannot learn what was the cause. It is gone, and farewell it; and that's all the loss I had, by being put out of the commission of the peace. I have done with ourselves; and now give me leave to speak a little concerning other gentle. men who are put out, and no reason given for it.

When any gentlemen is made a justice of peace, it is out of respect to him, and for the good of the country, because he is supposed to be honest and able; and, without dispute, no man ought to be put out, but either that he is unfaithful, unwilling to do his part, or else that he does not understand it; and it is a great injustice to any gentleman to put him out without hearing him : for to judge a man unheard, is not allowed by the law: and what is it, but to judge a man's reputation, a thing most dear to every honest man; for in any age but this, it would be a great reflection upon a gentleman to be turned out of the commission of the peace; but God be thanked, the nation sees very plainly, who and what sort of persons rule the roast. By all the enquiry I can make, I do not find that any man is put out, but such as were very active against the papists, such as are against arbitrary power, and such as approved of the bill against the duke. I wish they would give the reason why one gentlemen was put out in my county; for, besides myself, there are but two put out; the one was newly put in, and had not acted; the other is an ancient justice of peace, and a man that cannot be reprehended in relation to the discharge of his trust: without reflection or diminution to any man, I think he knows the work of a justice of peace as well as any man in England; I except no man; and for his integrity, he may set all men at defiance to accuse him of the least partiality in the discharge of his trust; and I do know that no man made it more his business than he did, that he might ease and serve the country for as his ability was not inferior to that of any other man, so did he most duly put the laws in execution, especially those against the papists: and

therefore, sir, on the behalf of my country, I must complain and demand to know, the reason why he was put out. We are greatly hurt, we are deprived of a great assistance and relief, and we cannot be quiet till we are satisfied in that particular. And my lord chancellor or the privy council (whichsoever of them it is that put him out,) will they not tell us why? Are they ashamed to own the cause? What, will it not bear water? I hate this as I do arbitrary power and popery. Brave world! that we must be debared of the benefit of our laws for if they are not executed they signify nothing. It is that which gives life to our laws, and they that do execute them are put out of office: this is a fair step to arbitrary power, to deprive us of the benefit of law. It is the same thing not to have laws, as to have laws and not executed. I say no more, least I may seem to speak in my own case; for I do not desire to have any thing done as to my own particular, but as to the gentleman whose character I have given you, and his name I will acquaint you with, it is sir Thomas Manwaring, you must give me leave to be importunate, and press it again and again, that he may be again put into the commission of the peace.


Was born 1652, and died 1710. He was member for Worcester in the convention parliament, where he was appointed to manage the conference with the lords, on the abdication of king James, and in 1697 was made lord chancellor. He was one of the principal persons employed in bringing about the revolution. From this and the following speeches two things appear to me tolerably clear, in opposition to the theories both of Mr. Burke and Dr. Price on the subject; that the great constitutional leaders who were concerned in producing this event, believed first, that the hereditary right to the crown was not absolute, but conditional; or that there was an original fundamental compact between the king and people, the terms of which the former was bound to fulfil to make good his title; secondly, that so long as these conditions were complied

with, the people were bound to maintain their allegiance to the lawful successor, and not left at liberty to choose whom they pleased, having no other law to govern them in their choice than their own will, or fancy, or sense of convenience. There was indeed an estate of inheritance, but then this was tied down and limited by certain conditions, which, if not adhered to the estate became lapsed and forfeited. There was no question as the case stood, either of sovereign absolute power, or of natural rights: the rights and duties of both parties were defined and circumscribed by a constitution and order of things already established, and which could not be infringed on either side with impunity; that is, they were exactly in the state of all contracting parties, neither of them independent, but each having a check or control over the other: the one had no right to enforce his claim if he did not perform what was in the agreement, and the other party, so long as this was done, could not be off their bargain. The king could not therefore be said to hold his crown" in contempt of the people," for both were equally responsible and bound to one another, and both stood equally in awe of one another, or of the law. But in case of any difference on this head, the right to decide must of course belong to those who had the power; for by the very nature of the thing there is nothing to restrain those who have power in their hands from exercising it, but the sense of right and wrong; and where they think they have a right to act, what is there to hinder them from acting in vindication of what they conceive to be their right? I am not here entering into the abstract question of government, nor do I pretend to say that this is the true law and constitution of England; I am only stating what was understood to be so by the prime movers and abettors of the revolution of 1688.

Lord Somers's Speech on the Abdication of King James.

My Lords,

WHAT is appointed me to speak to, is your lordships' first amendment, by which the word abdicated in the commons' vote is changed into the word deserted; and I am to acquaint your lordships what some of the grounds are that induced the commons to insist upon the word abdicated, and not to agree to your lordships' amendment.

[blocks in formation]
« PreviousContinue »