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pendant upon the persons who might harbour such designs ; that it was already rumoured that the Test, and Habeas Corpus Acts, the two bulwarks of our religion and liberties, were to be repealed ; that what he stated was so notorious as to need no proof. Having descanted with force and ability upon these, and other topicks of a similar tendency, he urged his conclusion, that the question of royal revenue ought not to be the first business of the parliament.* Whether, as Burnet thinks, because he was too proud to make any previous communication of his intentions, or that the strain of his
argument was judged to be too bold for the times, this speech, whatever secret approbation it might excite, did not receive from any quarter either applause or support. Under those circumstances it was not thought necessary to answer him, and the grant was voted unanimously, without further discussion.
As Barillon, in the relation of parliamentary proceedings, transmitted by him to his Court, in which he appears at this time to have been very exact, gives the same description of Seymour's speech and its effects, with Burnet, there can be little doubt but their account is correct. It will be found as well in this, as in many other instances, that an unfortunate inattention, on the part of the reverend historian, to forms, has made
* Barillon's Dispatches, June 2d, aod 4th, Appendix. Burnet, II. 322.
his veracity unjustly called in question. He speaks of Seymour's speech as if it had been a motion in the technical sense of the word, for enquiring into the elections, which had no effect. Now no traces remaining of such a motion, and, on the other hand, the elections having been at a subsequent period inquired into, Ralph alrnost pronounces the whole account to be erroneous ; whereas the only mistake consists in giving the name of motion to a suggestion, upon the question of a grant. It is whimsical enough, that it should be from the account of the French ambassadour, that we are enabled to reconcile to the records, and to the forms of the English House of Commons, a relation made by a distinguished member of the English House of Lords. Sir John Reresby does indeed say,
among tlemen of the House of Commons whom he accidently met, they in general seemed willing to settle a handsome revenue upon the King, and to give him money ; but whether their grant should be permanent, or only temporary, and to be renewed from time to time by parliament, that the nation might be often consulted, was the question.* But besides the looseness of the expression, which may only mean that the point was questionable, it is to be observed, that he does not relate any of the arguments which were brought forward, even in
Reresby's Memoirs, 192.
according to their bounden duty and allegiance, in CHAPTER “ defence of the reformed Church of England, as it is
now by law established ; and that an humble address “ be presented to his Majesty, to desire him to issue “ forth his Royal Proclamation, to cause the penal laws “ to be put in execution against all dissenters from the “ Church of England whatsoever.” But upon the report of the House, the question of agreeing with the committee was evaded by a previous question, and the House, with equal unanimity, resolved, “ That this “ House doth acquiesce, and entirely rely, and rest
wholly satisfied, on his Majesty's gracious word, and repeated declaration to support and defend the reli
gion of the Church of England, as it is now by law “ established, which is dearer to us than our lives.” Mr. Echard and Bishop Kennet, two writers of different principles, but both churchmen, assign, as the motive of this 'vote, the unwillingness of the party then prevalent in parliament, to adopt severe measures against the Protestant dissenters; but in this notion they are by no means supported by the account, imperfect as it is, which Sir John Reresby gives of the debate; for he makes no mention of tenderness towards dissenters, but states, as the chief argument against agreeing with the committee, that it might excite a jealousy of the King ;* and Barillon expressly says, that the first vote gave
* Echard. Kennet, 441. Reresby, 198.
great offence to the King, still more to the Queen, and that orders were, in consequence, issued to the court members of the House of Commons, to devise some means to get rid of it.* Indeed, the general circumstances of the times are decisive against the hypothesis of the two reverend historians; nor is it, as far as I know, adopted by any other historians. The probability seems to be, that the motion in the committee had been originally suggested by some Whig member, who could not, with prudence, speak his real sentiments openly, and who thought to embarrass the government, by touching upon a matter, where the union between the church party and the King, would be put to the severest test. The zeal of the Tories for persecution, made them at first give into the snare; but when, upon reflection, it occurred, that the involving of the Catholicks in one common danger with the Protestant dissenters, must be displeasing to the King, they drew back without delay, and passed the most comprehensive vote of confidence, which James could desire.*:
* Vide Barillon's letter, Appendix.
† A most curious instance of the circuitous mode, and deep devices to which the Whigs, if they wished at this time to oppose the court, were obliged to resort, is a scheme which seems to have been seriously entertained by them, of moving to disqualify from office all persons who had voted for the exclusion. Disqualification from offices, which they had no means of obtaining, was to them of no importance, and by obliging the King to remove Godolphin, and more especially Sunderland, they might put the court to considerable difficulties. Vide Appendix.