« PreviousContinue »
the reasons why my lords did chiefly insist upon the alteration of the word abdicated was, because they did apprehend, that it being a word not known to our laws, there might be other inferences drawn from it than they do apprehend our laws will warrant from the case, as it is stated in the fact of this vote, and as they conceive is done in the concluding of the throne's being vacant.
Therefore I think it would shorten the present debate if we did settle that point first: and as we frequently in parliamentary proceedings postpone this and that paragraph in a bill, till some others that may be thought fit to be determined first be agreed to; so we should postpone the debate about the word abdicate, till the vacancy of the throne be settled; for if we were sure that the throne were or were not vacant, we should easily light upon what word were proper to be used in this case.
I should therefore propose that we might debate that first; because if there be an English word of known signification in our law, which should signify no more than renouncing for a man's self, and which would not amount to so much as setting aside the right of others, that word may be used; and if no other, the word renouncing itself may be taken, which would be best agreed to.
Acting against a man's trust, (says Mr. Serjeant Holt,) is a renunciation of that trust. I agree it is a violation of his trust to act contrary to it, and he is accountable for that violation to answer what the trust suffers out of his own estate ; but I deny it to be presently a renunciation of the trust, and that such a ore is no longer a trustee,
I beg his pardon if I differ from him in opinion whom I acknowledge to have much more learning in his profession than I can pretend unto. But if the law be as he says in a private case, then I must beg leave to forbear giving my opinion in a case of this public nature. that is now before us, till I know what such a trust is, and what the law says in such a case.
If indeed you do pretend that the throne is vacant, and both houses agree in that conclusion I think it will be no matter what word is used about it. But if we do not agree to that conclusion, I think it will be afterwards easy to shew which is the fittest word to be stood upon, or to agree upon some other.
I pray, therefore, (to shorten the debate,) that you, gentlemen, would speak to this point first ; and when that is resolved, I hope we shall easily come to an agree. ment about the other.
SIR GEORGE : TREBY.
His Speech on the same Subject.
My Lords, THE
A e particular manner of doing it is, I take it, not the matter in debate just now before us, till it be settled whether a king can abdicate at all, or renounce his kingship at all. This then being granted, that a king may renounce, may resign, may part with his office, as well as the exercise of it, then the question, indeed, is, whether this king hath done so or no?
That he may do it, I take it for granted, it being an act of the will. Then let us now enquire into the facts, as set out in the vote, whether this will of his be manifest. For that, you have heard, may be discovered several ways: the discovery may be by writing, it may be by words, it may be by facts. Grotius himself, and all the authors that treat of this matter, and the nature of it, do agree, That if there be any word or action, that doth sufficiently manifest the intention of the mind and will, to part with his office, that will amount to an abdication or renouncing.
Now, my lords, I beg leave to put this case : That had king James II. come here into the assembly of the lords and commons, and expressed himself in writing or words to this purpose: I was born an heir to the crown of England, which is a government limited by laws, made in full parliament, by king, nobles, and commonalty ; and, upon the death of my last predecessor, I am in possession of the throne ; and now I find I cannot make laws, without the consent of the lords and representa. tives of the commons in parliament. I cannot suspend laws that have been so made, without the consent of my people : this, indeed, is the title of kingship, I hold by original contract, and the fundamental constitutions of the government : and my succession to, and possession of the crown, on these terms, is part of that contract. This part of the contract I am weary of, I do renounce it; I will not be obliged to observe it; nay, I am under an invincible obligation not to comply with it ; I will not execute the laws that have been made, nor suffer others to be made, as my people shall desire, for their security in religion, liberty, and property ; which are the two main parts of the kingly office in this nation. I say, suppose he had so expressed himself, doubtless this had been a plain renouncing of that legal, regular title, which came to him by descent. If then, he, by particular acts, such as are enumerated in the vote, has declared as much or more than these words can amount to, then he thereby declared his will to renounce the government. He hath, by these acts mentioned, manifestly declared, that he will not govern according to the laws made ; nay, he cannot so do, for he is under a strict obligation, (yea the strictest, and superior to that of the original compact between the king and people) to act contrary to the laws, or to suspend them.
By the law he is to administer justice, and to execute his office, according to the tenor of those laws; and the coronation oath obligeth him, likewise, to consent to such laws as the people shall choose. But, on the contrary, VOL. 1.
by that unfortunate persuasion (in point of religion) that he liath embraced, he is obliged to suspend the laws that defend the established religion, and to treat it, as it has been called, as the northern heresy, and under pain of damnation to extirpate it. And, in order to it, did sap and repeal all the legal fences of it, without consent of parliament. What the endeavours and practices of that kind have been in the last reign, I suppose we are not now to be told of, or instructed in; and if (as is very plain) this doth amount to a manifest declaration of his will, no longer to retain the exercise of his kingly office, thus limited, thus restrained, then in common sense, as well as the legal acceptation, he has sufficiently declared
renouncing of the very office. As for his departure out of the kingdom, 'tis not material whether it was voluntary or involuntary; but it is sufficient that his acting declares, quo animo he went away; he could no longer pursue what he designed, and the contrary of which he was so strongly obliged unto, by the duty of his office and relation, and the obligation of the original contract, as likewise his own coronation oath; and then he desires no longer to be here.
So that taking both these things together, that he will not, nay, he cannot (as thus persuaded in point of religion) govern according to law, and thereupon hath withdrawn himself out of the kingdom ; it is a manifest declaration of his express renouncing and parting with his kingly office. And therefore I cannot depart from insisting upon this word abdicated; which doth so well correspond to the fact in case, and so well express the true meaning of the commons in their vote. Nor can we consent to the postponing this point, till the other, about the vacancy of the throne be determined; for this is the very foundation upon which we are to proceed, for establishing the superstructure of the other conclusion.
SIR ROBERT HOWARD,
( Who is known as a Political and Dramatic Writer,)
Was the son of the earl of Berkshire, knighted at the restoration.
He died about 1700.
Sir Robert Howard's Speech on the same Subject.
My Lords, THE
HÉ proceeding and expressions of the house of commons in this vote, are fully warranted by the precedent that hath been cited, and are such, wherein there has been no interruption of the government, according to the constitution.
The late king hath, by your lordships' concession, done all those things which amount to an abdication of the government, and the throne's being thereby vacant ; and had your lordships concurred with us, the kingdom had long ere this been settled, and every body had peaceably followed their own business. Nay, had your lordships been pleased to express yourselves clearly, and not had a mind to speak ambiguously of it, we had saved all this trouble, and been at an end of disputing.
Truly, my lords, this record that hath been men. tioned of Henry IV. I will not say is not a precedent of election, for the archbishop stood up, and looked round on all sides, and asked the lords and coinmons, whether they would have him to be king ? and they asserted, (as the words of the roll are,) that he should reign over them : and so it is done at every coronation.
As to his claim, they did not so much mind that ; for they knew that he claimed by descent and inheritance when there was a known person that had a title before him.
For that which a noble lord spoke of, touching the