« VorigeDoorgaan »
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.” 11.1911. 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 des
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.
It is worthy of notice, however, that, while every Solicitude for
the Church of 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
“ Church of England as it now is by law established, “ against Popery or any other different or dissenting “ opinions, is not intended, and shall not be inter“ preted, or construed to be any offence within the * words or meaning of this act."* It cannot escape the reader, that only such attacks upon Popery as
ere made in favour of the doctrine and discipline of the church of England, and no other, were protected do by this proviso, and consequently that, if there were
any real occasion for such a guard, all Protestant dissenters who should write or speak against the Roman superstition, were wholly unprotected by it, and remained exposed to the danger, whatever it might be, from which the church was so anxious to exempt her supporters.
ho gobie This Bill passed the House of Commons, and was sent
up to the House of Lords on the 30th of June. It was read a first time on that day, but the adjournment of both houses taking place on the 2d of July, it could not make any further progress at that time; and when the parliament met afterwards in autumn, there was no longer that passionate affection for the monarch, nor consequently that ardent zeal for servitude, which were necessary to make a law with such clauses and provisos, palatable or even endurable.d
ROTO * Vide Bill for the Preservation, &c. Appendix.
- It is not to be considered as an exception to the general complaisance of Parliament, that the Speaker, when he presented the Revenue Bill, made use of some strong expressions, declaring the attachment of the Commons to the national religion.* Such sentiments could not be supposed to be displeasing to James, after the assurances he had given of his regard for the church of England. Upon this occasion his Majesty made the following speech :
· MY LORDS AND GENTLEMEN,
ing the Revenue
“ I thank you very heartily for the bill you have pre- Speech on pass“ sented me this day; and I assure you, the readiness Bill.
and cheerfulness that has attended the dispatch of it, “ is as acceptable to me as the bill itself.
“ After so happy a beginning, you may believe I “ would not call upon you unnecessarily for an extra
ordinary supply: but when I tell you, that the stores “ of the navy and ordinance are extremely exhausted ; “ that the anticipations upon several branches of the
* “ The Commons of England have here presented your Majesty with “ the Bill of Tonnage and Poundage, with all readiness and cheerfulness; " and that without any security for their religion, though it be dearer to “ them than their lives, relying wholly on your royal word for the secu
rity of it; and humbly beseech your Majesty to accept this their offer," &c. Kennet, II. 427.