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given the trouble of assembling unneces- to bring forward any point in that House sarily, he would cheerfully acquiesce upon which was not clearly understood; and, that ground.
| therefore, the hon. baronet did him no The question of adjournment was then more than justice, when he gave him creput, and carried.
dit for not having any intention, by any
equivocal resolution, to entrap that House Dec. 19. Mr. Alderman Watson ap- | and fetter its future proceedings. In respeared at the bar with the Report of the pect to the information which the hon. Committee on the State of the Nation. baronet wished to receive, it would be reThe question being put, “ That the Re- collected, that he had, in his general port be brought up,"
opening of the resolutions, explained the Sir John Sinclair said, that he could | whole of their object. With regard to most sincerely affirm, that, with regard to the means of providing for the defect in the first resolution, there was no indivi- the exercise of the royal authority, in dual in that House who felt more the ca- consequence of his Majesty's unhappy inlamity which bad befallen the King and capacity, he had stated that, as in consithe country, than himself. In respect to deration of law, his Majesty's political cathe rights of the two Houses to provide pacity was entire, their first proceeding the means for supplying the deficiency in must be by the royal authority, which was the exercise of the royal authority, he must by a bill, sanctioned by the concurrence still be of opinion, that it was not neces- 1 of the King and the two Houses of Parliasary for that House to make a declaration ment. Now, though the necessity of the of its rights, on the slight ground of the case did not oblige them to act without expression of a doubt of the right of the the royal authority, it did oblige them to Prince of Wales, stated in the speech of one provide the means of supplying the defect of its members. If the right hon. gentle arising from his Majesty's indisposition, man who first expressed his doubts of the by issuing a commission under the great right of that House, instead of doing so, seal, áppointing commissioners to open the. had brought forward a motion, declaring parliament, in the name of his Majesty, in the Prince of Wales's right, wo man would the usual form, and state the reasons for have more firmly resisted such a motion calling them together. This he conceived than himself. In the third resolution, to be the only mode of proceeding that there was something dark and mysterious; could be adopted consistently with the prin. and whatever ideas he had of the charac- ciples of the constitution. ter and abilities of the right hon. gentle- Sir John Sinclair could not avoid ex. man, who had called upon the House to pressing his utmost astonishment, that the declare their right, by the second resolu- right hon. gentleman should call the sys. tion, which appeared to him to be unne- tem of measures which he had explained cessary, the mystery in the third resolution to the House, a system consistent with the demanded explanation. He gave the principles of the constitution, when it was right hon. gentleman credit for too much contrary to law. Every gentleman con. manliness of mind, to suppose that he versant, with the statute law, knew that would endeavour to entrap that House, and it was, by the 13th Charles 2, declared ilfetter its future conduct, by any equivocal legal for the two Houses to legislate for resolution, but, previously to bringing up themselves, or make laws without the of the report, he must beg to know what King; and, by the same statute, the dehis reasons were for the wording of the claration that they had any such power, third resolution, and also desire an expla- was pronounced high treason in the person nation of what was meant by the Bill to making it, and he was liable to all the be passed by the Houses of Parliament. pains and penalties of a premunire. Sir He was afraid the two Houses were in- John added, that the mode to be adopted tended to be called upon to exceed their appeared to him to be highly objectionconstitutional powers, and this was a time able. The proper and simple mode of of too critical a nature, for any part of so procedure was, for the two Houses to advery important a proceeding to be suffered dress the only individual that all mens to remain in the dark, or be subject to any eyes were fixed on, as the fit person to kind of doubt. Every step in such a pro- undertake the administration of governceeding should be clearly understood, and ment, in like mavner as our ancestors had maturely considered.
addressed the Prince of Orange, at the Mr. Pilt answered, that he wished not memorable æra of the revolution.
Mr. Powys said, that his anxiety on the and the very special circumstances of the present alarming occasion was equal to case, they perhaps might be justified in that of the hon. baronet; although he be- making such order. They met again on lieved the stating on what that anxiety the 4th of December, and were informed turned, was premature in that stage of the by the minister, that the same cause unbusiness, he would venture to intimate, 1 happily continued to prevent the servants that wben the report should be brought of the crown from taking the King's pleaup, he believed he might undertake to sure, touching any act to be done, either prove that the right hon. gentleman's for the farther proroguing parliament, or system was not founded either in prece- for issuing the summons for its meeting dent or law.
for the dispatch of business; and they The report having been brought up, were then informed, that there was a neand the first resolution read and agreed to, cessity for their immediately proceeding the second was read, when
to supply the defect in the exercise of the • Sir Grey Cooper rose, and desired to be functions of the royal authority. Since permitted to state, with great submission, that measure had been recommended by a doubt which had occurred to him, whe- the minister, and adopted by the House, ther the House, in its present limited they bad, in all the steps which they have and imperfect capacity, could, with pro- hitherto taken, acted under the authority, priety, and consistent with the order and and moved by the mere impulse of that regularity of their proceedings, agree necessity ; and if any part of their proto the resolution now under deliberation, ceedings transgressed the clear limits of He requested the members to consider that necessity, and the direct course which and advert to the very peculiar and un. it points out to us, it was, in bis humble precedented circumstances under which opioion, an act of self-constituted power, they were assembled, and now sitting and of very dangerous tendency and conThey were one of the estates of the king- | sequence dom, assembled at Westminster, but not | The point in question therefore was, assembled in parliament; they were maim- whether the second Resolution now reed and mutilated in their legislative func-ported was, or was not, an act of neces tions by the present unfortunate incapacity sity, for the purpose of supplying the of the King to exercise the royal authority. defect in the legislature, by the King's They had met on the 20th of November incapacity. He contended, that the resolast, at the expiration of a period to which lution declaring the right and duty of the they had been duly prorogued by the House, was not necessary, because there commission from the King. On that day, appeared to him no real impediment or no commission came to prorogue them to obstacle to their progress, which it was a farther time. The Speaker had arranged requisite to remove and clear away before the proceeding on that occasion in the they could act in their deliberative capa. best possible manner. When he had city. That there was no claim of right, taken the chair, by the desire of the mem- po denial of their authority, no matter of bers present, the minister opened to the which the House could, consistently with the House the deplorable cause which pre- gravity and order of its proceedings, take vented his Majesty's servants from taking parliamentary notice or cognizance. At his pleasure with respect to a farther pro- the Revolution, the Convention Parliament rogation. The House paused, and hesi. | did not, in the famous Committee on the tated in what they ought to do in such an State of the Nation, declare what it was exigency. By the ancient rules and prin their right or their duty to do. It appears ciples of parliamentary proceedings, it was, that Finch and sir Edward Seymour, and as he conceived, irregular for them, in the some other leading men at that time, desituation in which they then stood, to do livered and maintained opinions, directly any business, or to make any order, other contrary to the principles on which the than for adjourning from day to day. first resolution of tbe 28th of January, But, upon reading a precedent of the 9th 1689, was grounded. But the grand of September 1690, which bore consider. committee proposed no resolution, to vinable analogy to their proceeding in their dicate or establish their right against such present situation, the House assumed assertions. They exercised their right; energy enough to adjourn for fourteen and did the noble work they were about; days, and to order a call of the House; and they thought, that the doing the and upon the ground of this precedent, deed, comprehended in it, and incon. (VOL. XXVII.]
testibly proved both their right and their , and the unpopularity of his predecessor. duty to do it.
The Duke of York, trusting to the advanHaving submitted to the House these tage which that unpopularity and the observations on the order of their pro- weakness of the government gave him, ceedings, he requested the indulgence of raised an army in the year 1452, and their attention to some remarks upon the marched with 10,000 men from Wales to precedents on which the right hon. gen. the gates of the city of London, for the tleman had laid the foundation of his purpose, as he gave out, of a reformation resolutions, and particularly on the pre- in the government, and the removal of cedent of the 32nd and 33rd of Henry the the Duke of Somerset from all his power 6th, which, being the only one touching and authority. The manner in which he the supply of the defect in the royal autho- was foiled in this bold enterprise, of his rity from sickness, bore with the most being the dupe of his confidence in the force on the present state of things and promises of the court, and of his escape persons. The precedent had been much from the power of his enemies, are facts relied on; it had been proposed as a pat. well known to all those who have ever tern for their proceeding in the great and looked into the history of this eventful arduous affair which a most deplorable period. He lived in retirement at his necessity imposed upon them. They had castle on the borders of Wales till the been called upon by the great law autho. latter end of the year 1453. The Prince rities in that House to follow the example of Wales was born in October 1453: and, of their ancestors, and not to leave them about this time, the king fell into a disin the lurch, by departing from the prin order in his mind, which rendered him ciples on which they acted. But, before unfit even to maintain the appearance of they determined to follow the example royalty. The queen and Somerset found of their ancestors, it seemed to him that themselves obliged by this exigency to they should consider what sort of persons yield, for a time, to the high power and those same ancestors were. He would connexions of the Duke of York. Soventure to undertake to prove, by the merset was actually sent to the Tower on irrefragable evidence of records, and the the 13th of February, 1454. Richard authentic history of the times, that, during was appointed, or, more properly speaking, the course of all the proceedings which appointed himself Lieutenant to the King, collectively form that precedent, both for holding the parliament, which having Houses of Parliament were in the most been first assembled at Reading, was, abject and humiliated state of dependence after several prorogations and adjournon the power and will of Richard Duke of ments, assembled at Westminster on York, and the potent and formidable fac- the 14th of February. About this time, tion of the noble families who adhered the famous earl of Warwick, the earls to him and followed the projects of his of Salisbury and Westmoreland, and ambition : and that every step they took many others of the Duke's followers, every declaration they made, and every were admitted into the council, in the act they did or passed, were taken and place of the former administration, and done under the impression of immediate had the whole government in their force, and irresistible influence. He de hands. By their command and influence sired to be permitted to state some the Committee of Lords was sent on the facts anterior to the year 1454, in which 23rd of March to the King, who lay sick that precedent principally arose, in order at Windsor, to take his pleasure upon to introduce, with more regularity and certain questions stated in their commisclearness, the documents and evidence by sion. On the 25th of March, the Bishop which he intended to support his proposi- of Carlisle, one of the deputed Lords, tion. After the assassination of the vir- | reported to the House, that they found tuous Duke of Gloucester, the King's the King in a state of perfect lethargy uncle, Richard Duke of York, became and insensibility. Then followed, on the first Prince of the Blood, and presumptive 27th of March, the famous transaction of heir to the crown. The impeachment of the nomination and election of the Duke the great minister and favourite, the Duke of York to his first Protectorate, by the of Suffolk, and his banishment and death, Peers spiritual and temporal in Parliasoon followed. Edmund Beaufort, duke ment assembled without any participation of Somerset, succeeded to the favour of or even consent of the Commons. Sir the Queen, the powers of administration, Grey observed, that he did not consider
their appointment of the Duke of York to capital, and was, at the very moment, the first Protectorate, as in any respect known to be contesting the King's title proceeding from the free deliberation or to the crown. choice of the House of Lords; but that it Sir Grey said, he would next show, by was dictated and compelled by the con- a record of unquestionable authority, that trolling and overbearing power of the the House of Commons was, at the very Duke and his adherents. This conclusion same time, in an humble, helpless, and was not founded on conjecture, or the disgraceful state of dependance on the mere authority of any historian or annalist; / same power. He said, that he had cited but, on the evidence of a record in the the Roll of Parliament, touching the fifth volume of the Rolls of Parliament, p. Lords, with some regret; but the case he 349.
was now about to lay before the House, In march 1454, Courtney, earl of De- “ Animus meminisse horret, luctuque revonshire, had been tried for treason in fugit.” This was the famous case of levying war against the king in 1452. Thorpe, the Speaker, which, by a singular He had been acquitted by the Peers. On coincidence of circumstances, happened the 15th of April following the Protector just at the time of the duke of York's came to the House of Lords, and com- being appointed lieutenant of the King to plained, that by this indictment the truth hold the Parliament, and soon afterwards of his allegiance was emblemished and protector of the kingdom, and when the disteigned ; and in the presence of all the House of Lords had made their unanimous Lords, he made a solemn declaration, declaration of the duke's loyalty and fidethat the matter which touched his honour lity to the king. The Parliament, which in the said indictment was false and bad been summoned to sit at Reading, untrue; for, that he was, and all the days was prorogued on the 2d of July 1453, to of his life had been, and to the end thereof the 7th of November following, and on should be, a true and bumble liegeman to that day it was adjourned to the 11th of the King; and that he never privily nor February 1454, and then prorogued to openly thought or meant to the contrary, meet at Westminster on the 14th of that as he called to witness God and all the month. When the House of Commons Saints; and that the same to prove he met, their Speaker was in prison. It aphath been always, and now is ready, as a peared that the duke of York, immeknight, against any person of proper rank, diately after the first adjournment, sued who shall presume to say to the contrary. Thorpe in the Exchequer by bill, and proseHe appealed to all the Lords present, and cuted him so close, though Speaker, and a demanded that his declaration should be baron of the Exchequer, in his own court, recorded. This certainly was the boldest that between the 23d of October and the falsehood that ever was declared to a 11th of February, he got a verdict against House of Parliament; but the Protector him by a jury of Middlesex for 1,0001. knew the persons to whom he spoke. | damages, and 101. cost of suit, and like. “ Post cujus quidem declarationem fac- wise a judgment, and took and detained tum et auditum, præfati Domini tam spi- him in the Fleet thereon, between this rituales quam temporales una voce. aie. adjournment and the parliament's meetrunt," " We knew never, nor at any ing, some few days before their re-assemtime could conceive but that ye be, and bling. He said, he had in his hands a have been, true and faithful liegeman to book of the highest authority, which, tothe king, as it belongeth to your estate to gether with the other writings of his learnbemand so we now take, accept, repute, ed and respectable friend, Mr. Hatsell, he hold, and declare you.” This record will begged leave, as an old member, earnestly serve to prove to demonstration, without to recommend to the diligent study of the any comment or observation, in what a rising generation. His remarks on this wretched state of submission and prostra- case of privilege, are made with his usual tion the whole House of Peers lay at the knowledge, precision, and temper. “ Infeet of the Protector. For the man whom deed the method of proceeding, as well as they, with one voice, declared to be, and the expedition that was used throughout to have been, a faithful and loyal subject the whole of this case, appear at first sight to the King, had, not two years before very extraordinary. First, that the Comthey made this dishonourable declaration, mons should apply to the Lords, as well levied open war against the King, and as to the King, for redress, in a matter in marched with an army to the gates of his which their own privileges were essentially
concerned. Secondly, that notwithstand-, according to their understanding, unless ing the opinion of the Judges most for- l it be said, that their understandings almally declared, “ That persons arrested ways led them to side with the strongest. for any other cause than for treason, fe- Upon the reading of these records and lony, or surety of the peace, or for a con observations, as the strongest and most demnation, had before their parliament, searching evidence against this most inought to be released," the Lords should auspicious precedent, might he not venadjudge that Thorpe, who came within ture to ask the House, whether some feelnone of these descriptions, should, accord- ings of resentment and indignation did not ing to the law, remain still in prison : and rise in their breasts against those who thirdly, That the Commons should so have proposed this precedent as a pattern easily acquiesce in this decision, and im- for their conduct, in one of the most momediately proceed to the election of ano- mentous emergencies that ever presented ther Speaker, and the whole of this trans itself to Parliament, and in which all the action was but the business of three days, great energies of government, all the the 14th, 15th, and 16th of February. / rights of the highest and most illustrious But when we compare the uncommon ex. persons, and the first principles of the pedition with which this very important constitution are concerned ; and at a time affair was hurried over, the judgment of too, when, from the surprise and suddenthe Lords, so directly contrary to the ness of the calamity, the Houses of Parconclusion which ought to have been liament were “ inopes consilii.” In the drawn from the opinion delivered by the beginning of 1455, the King was somechief justice; the command of the bishop what recovered from his indisposition, and of Ely to elect another speaker, signified the Queen moved him to resume his auimmediately subsequent on the judgment, thority, and to release Somerset from the and, as far as appears, without any com- | Tower. The duke of York was forced to munication with the king, and the obe- retire. He raised another army. He dient submission of the Commons; I say, complained in his manifesto of the King's all these circumstances, compared with ministers, and demanded a change of gothe very high situation in which the plain-vernment. The battle of St. Alban's was tiff, Richard Duke of York, then stood, fought in the month of May, 1555. This being, as appears from the Parliamentary was a summary way of changing adminisHistory, thal very day, the 14th of Fe. tration ; for, they were all killed in the bruary, appointed president in the said battle, and the King was taken prisoner. parliament, and himself present, and It is not necessary to state, that, after this taking a part in the hearing of his cause, great event, the unfortunate King was may be thought full to justify the opinion restored to the appearance and forms of of sir N. Rich, who, when this precedent royalty ; that the duke of York and all his was cited in a debate on the 8th of March, adherents were declared innocent of any 1620, says, “It is a case begotten by the treason against the King; that he was iniquity of the times, when the duke of reinstated in the Protectorate, at the York might have an overgrown power in instance of the very Commons whose it, and therefore wish it may not be med. Speaker he had imprisoned; and that upon dled with.”” Would to God that this a reverse of fortune, he was, as it was whole precedent, of which the case of the called, exonerated of the office, and of all Speaker makes a deplorable part, had his power. These were all parts of solemn never again been meddled with, but had state farces exhibited to the people at that been buried in the Rolls of Parliament, time. It was not necessary to state, that and consigned to everlasting contempt from the period of the battle at St. Alban's, and oblivion. Indeed, what our excellent the whole kingdom , was deluged with historian Rapin remarks on this parlia- | blood, and involved in confusion, by a ment, and the other parliaments about most cruel and ferocious civil war, for the this time, is perfectly just, and well course of thirty years. From the very founded. He says, that the contrary re- threshold of this disastrous period, the solutions of those assemblies, clearly show precedent, on which he had been so long that they acted not with freedom, but | troubling the House, was taken, and raised were swayed by the events which hap- from the dead, for the purpose of doing pened before their deliberations. Their what the House of Peers, who elected the determinations are properly of no force, | duke of York, declared they would not do. since they had not the liberty to judge prejudice my lord the prince. The pre