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according to their bounden duty and allegiance, in “ 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 religion 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 comunittee, 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 bis 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.ti
* 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.
Servation of the
Further to, manifest their servility to the King, as well as their bostility to every principle, that could by implication be supposed to be connected with Bill for the PreMonmouth or his cause, the House of Commons pass- King's Person. ed a Bill for the Preservation of his Majesty's Person, in which, after enacting that a written or verbal declaration of a treasonable intention, should be tantamount to a treasonable act, they inserted two remarkable clauses, by one of which, to assert the legitimacy of Monmouth's birth-by the other, to propose in parliament any alteration in the succession of the crown, were made likewise high treason. We learn from Burnet,* that the first part of this bill was strenuously and
* Ralph unjustly accuses Burnet' of inaccuracy on this occasion, and asserts, “ That unfortunately for us, or this Right Reverend author, “ there is not the least trace of any such bill to be found in any of the “ accounts of this parliament extant; and therefore we are under a ne
cessity to suppose, that if any such clause was offered, it was by way “ of supplement to the bill for the preservation of bis Majesty's person " and government, which, no doubt, was strict enough, and which passed “ the House of Commons while Monmouth was in arms, just before the
adjournment, but never reached the Lords.” II.911. Now the enactment to which the Bishop alludes, was not, as Ralph supposes, a supploment to the bill for the preservation of his Majesty's person, but made part of the very first clause of it; and the only inaccuracy, if indeed it deserves that name, of which Burnet is guilty, is that of calling the bill what it really was, a bill for Declaring Treasons, and not giving it its formal title of a Bill for the Preservation of his Majesty's Person, &ć.
CHAPTER warmly debated, and that it was chiefly opposed by
Sergeant Maynard, whose arguments made some impression even at that time ; but whether the Sergeant was supported in his opposition, as the word chiefly would lead us to imagine, or if supported, by whom, that historian does not mention ; and unfortunately, neither of Maynard's speech itself, nor indeed of any opposition whatever to the bill, is there any other trace to be found. The crying injustice of the clause, which subjected a man to the pains of treason, merely for delivering his opinion upon a controverted fact, though he should do no act in consequence of such opinion, was not, as far as we are informed, objected to, or at all noticed, unless indeed the speech above alluded to, in which the speaker is said to have descanted upon the general danger of making words treasonable, be supposed to have been applied to this clause, as well as to the former part of the bill. That the other clause should have passed without opposition,
The bill is fortunately preserved among the papers of the House of Commons, and as it is not, as far as I know, any where in print, I have subjoined it in my Appendix. Perhaps some persons might think it more discreet, to leave such a production in obscurity, lest it should ever be made use of as a precedent; but whoever peruses with attention some of our modern statutes, will perceive, that though not adduced as a precedent, on account, perhaps, of the inauspicious reign in which it made its appearance, it has but too often been used as a model.
or even observation, must appear still more extraordi- CHAPTER nary, when we advert, not only to the nature of the clause itself, but to the circumstances of there being actually in the House, no inconsiderable number of members who had, in the former reign, repeatedly voted for the Exclusion Bill.
the Church of
It is worthy of notice, however, that, while every Solicitude for principle of criminal jurisprudence, and every re- England, gard to the fundamental rights of the deliberative assemblies, which make part of the legislature of the nation, were thus shamelessly sacrificed to the
eagerness which, at this disgraceful period, so generally prevailed, of manifesting loyalty, or rather abject servility to the Sovereign, there still remained no small degree of tenderness for the interests and safety of the Church of England, and a sentiment approaching to jealousy, upon any matter which might endanger, even . by the most remote consequences, or put any restriction upon her ministers. With this view, as one part of the bill did not relate to treasons only, but imposed new penalties upon such as should by writing, printing, preaching, or other speaking, attempt to bring the King or his government into hatred or contempt, there was a special proviso added, “ that “ the asserting, and maintaining by any writing, print
ing, preaching, or any other speaking, the doctrine, discipline, divine worship, or government of the