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public acts that have been done since the king left us, I may very well say, we think them legally done ; and we do not doubt, but that power which brought in another line then upon the vacancy of the throne by the le. sion of Richard II. is still, according to the constitution, residing in the lords and commons; and is legally sufficient to supply the vacancy that now is.
That noble lord, indeed, said, that your lordships might not only with the commons, advise the prince of Orange to take upon him the administration, and join with us in the other things ; but that you might have done it of yourselves, as being, in the absence of the king, the great council of the nation.
My lords, I shall not say much to that point ; your lordships' honours and privileges are great, and your councils very worthy of all reverence and respect.
But I would ask this question of my noble lord that is here, Whether, had their been an heir, to whom the crown had quietly descended in the line of succession, and this heir certainly known, your lordships would have assembled without his calling, or would have either administered the government yourselves, or advised the prince of Orange to have taken it upon him? I doubt you have been (pardon me for saying it) all guilty of high treason, by the laws of England, if a known suc. cessor were in possession of the throne ; as he must be if the throne were not vacant,
From thence, my lords, your lordships see where the difficulty lies in this matter, and whence it ariseth ; because you would not agree the throne to be vacant, when we know of none that possess it.
We know some such thing hath been pretended to, as an heir male, of which there are different opinions; and in the mean time, we are without a government; and must we stay till the truth of the matter be found out ? What shall we do to preserve our constitution, while we are without a safe or legal authority to act under the same, according to that constitution ; and in a little time it will
perhaps, through the distraction of the times, be utterly irremediable ?
I do not deny but your lordships have very great hardships to conflict with in such a case, but what is the occasion of them?
We all do know the monarchy is hereditary ; but how, or what shall we do to find out the successor in the right line?
You think it will be a difficult thing to go upon the examination who is heir; perhaps it will be more difficult to resolve in this case, than it might be in another. For though heretofore there have been abdications and vacancies, it has been where the king has been of the same religion, of the established worship of the nation; and amongst those that pretended to the succession, the several claimers have been persons, born and bred up in that religion that was established by law; or it may be, there hath been a child in the womb, at the time of the vacancy.
But then, my lords, there would not be much difficul: ty to examine, who should inherit, or what where fit to be done; I confess, I say, there are difficulties on all sides, or else your lordships sure would have spoke out before now; and, if you had been clear in it yourselves, you would have let the commons and the world have known it. But it not being clear, must we always remain thus? Use what words you will, fill up, nominate, or elect, it is the thing we are to take care of, and it is high time it were done.
My lords, there is no such consequence to be drawn from this vote, as an intention, or likelihood, of alter. ing the course of the government, so as to make it elective. The throne hath all along descended in an hereditary succession; the main constitution hath been preserved.
The precedent of Henry IV. is not like that of elections in other countries; and I am sorry there should be an occasion for what is necessary to be done now.
But when such difficulties are upon the nation, as we cannot extricate ourselves out of, by fixing who is the lineal successor ; your lordships, I hope, will give us leave to remember, Salus populi est suprema Lex.
And if neither you nor we can do any thing in this case, then we, who are not under the notion of an assembly, or convention of the states, have met to no purpose : for, after we have voted ourselves to be without a government, (which looks as if something were really intended as for a settlement, all presently sinks, and we are as much in the dark as we were before. And, my lords, I pray give me leave to say one thing
I more: Your lordships say, you will never make a pre.
edent of election, or take upon you to alter the succes. sion.
With your lordship's favour, the settlement of the constitution is the main thing we are to look after. If you provide for the supply of the defect there, that point of the succession will, without all question, in the same me. thod, and at the same time, be surely provided for.
But, my lords, you will do well to consider, Have not you yourselves already limited the very succession, and cut off some that might have a lineal right? Have you not concurred with us in our vote, That it is inconsist. ent with our religion and our laws, to have a papist to reign over us? Must we not come then to an election, if the next heir be a papist ? Nay, suppose there were no protestant heir at all to be found, would not your lord. ships then break the line? But your lordships' vote is inconsistent; you do
suppose a case of the greatest consequence that can be, may happen ; and, if that should happen to be our case, that the whole protestant line should fall, would not that necessitate an election ? or else we must submit to that which were inconsistent with our religion and laws.
If your lordships, then, in such a case, must break through the succession, I think the nation has reason to
expect you should take care to supply the present defect, where the succession is uncertain.
My lords, if this should not be agreed unto, what will be the consequence? We that used, and justly, to boast of living under the best of governments, must be left without any one; for your lordships, it seems, cannot agree with us to supply and fill up this gap in it, or tell us who is the successor; and we must not do it ourselves by elections, which is the only way left us to provide for our settlement.
Truly, my lords, upon the whole, I cannot tell what condition we shall be in, or what we can do farther: but we must even part and break up in confusion, and so leave the nation to extricate itself as well as it can, out of this distraction : but then, at whose door that will lie, I must leave to your lordships' own thoughts.
(Prince of Orange)
Was born at the Hague in 1650. He was the son of William, prince
of Orange, and Henrietta, daughter of king Charles I. He married the daughter of James II. and in consequence of the arbitrary conduct of that monarch, was invited over in 1688, to take possession of the crown in his stead. He died 1702, by a fall from his borse. He was a man of great abilities, both as a statesman and general.
The King's Speech to Parliament.
My Lords and Gentlemen, I am resolved to leave nothing unattempted on my part which may contribute to the peace and prosperity of this nation; and finding my presence in Ireland will be absolutely necessary for the more speedy reducing of that kingdom, I continue my resolution of going thi. ther as soon as may be; and I have now called you together for your assistance to enable me to prosecute the war with speed and vigour; in which I assure myself of your cheerful concurrence, being a work so necessary for your own safeties.
In order to this, I desire you will forthwith make a settlement of the revenue; and I cannot doubt but you will therein have as much regard for the honour and dignity of the monarchy in my hands, as has been lately shewed to others; and I have so great a confidence in you, that if no quicker or more convenient way can be found, for the raising of ready money, (without which the service cannot be performed,) I shall be very well content for the present, to have it made such a fund of credit as may be useful to yourselves, as well as to me, in this conjuncture ; not having the least apprehensions, but that you will provide for the taking off all such anticipa. tions as it shall happen to fall under.
It is sufficiently known how earnestly I have endeavoured to extinguish (or at least compose) all differences amongst my subjects; and to that end how often I have recommended an act of indemnity to the last parliament; but since that part of it which related to the preventing of private suits is already enacted, and be. cause debates of that nature must take up more of your time than can now be spared from the dispatch of those other things which are absolutely necessary for our common safety, I intend to send you an'act of grace, such exceptions of some few persons only, as may sufficient to shew my great dislike of their crimes, and, at the same time, my readiness to extend protection to all my other subjects; who will thereby see that they can recommend themselves to me by no other methods than what the laws prescribe, which shall always be the only rule of my government.
A farther reason which induces me to send you this act at this time, is, because I am desirous to leave no