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the manner, than in the substance of the im* peachment. •
So fell Lord Danby. His talents, as a speaker in the House of Commons, had raised him to the high office of Lord Treasurer. His conduct in that great post was as little creditable to his wisdom and skill as to his honesty and patriotism. He gave way to the King, as far as was necessary to preserve his place, but not sufficiently to acquire the royal favour. He concurred in measures which endangered both our religion and government, and yet lost the friendship of the Duke of York. He extended the system of corrupting members of Parliament, increasing the sum allowed for that service, from 12,0001. to 20,0001. *; and yet he was impeached by the same House of Commons he had endeavoured to buy; and he sent for the letters and acquittances, the day after he had declared in his defence before the Lords, that there had not been one farthing granted by the Commons, which had not been strictly applied by him as the acts had directed. This assertion rested upon the miserable quibble, that the money which he had used to corrupt the Parliament was unappropriated.
* Report from Comm. of Surrey, May 24. 1679. It was paid -by the commicsioners of Excise. ■
The proceedings relating to Lord Danby have contributed to settle three points concerning parliamentary impeachments. First, that impeachments laid by the Commons in one session, or one Parliament, continue in force to the next; secondly, that a peer impeached by the Commons is ordered to withdraw; thirdly, that the King's pardon cannot be pleaded in bar of an impeachment. Every one of these questions, but especially the last, is of high importance to the constitution.
It was at this time that Sir William Temple, thinking that the ministry, and finally the succession, would fall into the power of Monmouth, proposed a new privy council. It was to consist of 30 members. Some of the most violent Whigs, Russell, Cavendish, Capel, and Powle, were 'admitted. According to the present theory of our constitution, there is no part of it more perfect than that which regards the appointment of the ministers of the crown. As the power of refusing supplies has brought all pubhc business within the sphere of the House of Commons, it follows, as a necessary consequence, even though the House should offer no advice on the subject, that ministers must be capable of bearing their scrutiny, and acquiring their coa* tidenee. Hence the choice of men distinguished as members of Parliament, before they are trusted as servants of the crown. The monarchy itself derives great advantage from this restraint to the personal will of the sovereign. Not only is the King less liable than other sovereigns to errors, which even the best intentioned are exposed to, by the arts of specious impostors and dishonest flatterers, but he has this security fqr the conduct of the most violent parliamentary leaders, that ambition can hardly lead them to wish the total destruction of that monarchy, of which they may hope at a future time to exercise the powers.
But such ideas were far from being understood before the Revolution. During the reign of Charles the First, indeed, an attempt seems to have been made to conciliate the great parliamentary leaders, by entrusting them with offices of the crown. The Earl of Bedford, as we have seen in the early part of this work, was amongst those who were thus favoured. But the King was soon disgusted with them, and Lord Clarendon thinks he has sufficiently justified this dislike, when he tells us, that they always advised the King to comply with the wishes of his Parliament.
Nor was the measure now proposed by Temple likely to be attended with the success which he expected from it. Had he begun by asking the dismissal of all the obnoxious ministers, and the formation of a new council, by the union of the great Whig leaders, with Secretary Coventry and others, who had experience of office without the ambition of being chief ministers, a firm administration would have been formed, and the necessity of a revolution might have been prevented. But Temple had only in view to add to the strength of the old court. Fifteen of the thirty members of whom the new council was to be composed, were to be officers of the crown, on whom it was supposed the King might rely. It was thought that fewer concessions would be required, when the leaders of the Commons were members of the council, and that the King, with such assistance, might safely dissolve the parliament should it persist in unreasonable demands. It was considered as a most favourable circumstance, should affairs come to an extremity, that the property of the new council amounted to 300,0001. a year, whilst that of the members of the House of Commons seldom exceeded 400,0001.
It is obvious, that such a council was formed rather to be a rival to the Parliament than dependant on it, and the Whig leaders, to obtain at most half the confidence of the King, were to give up all the confidence of the people. "For the bare being preferred," says Secretary Coventry, "maketh some of them suspected, though not criminal." * The public were not yet able to conceive that men could be at the same time counsellors of the King and friends of the people; and it was only by a complete change of councils, that they could have been convinced of its integrity. It is not surprising then, that the King's speech, announcing the new council, was received coldly by the House of Commons, and that little more than a fortnight after, they should present an address, praying the removal of the Duke of Lauderdale from all offices and employments, and from His Majesty's presence for ever.
The president of the new council, much against the opinion of Temple, was Lord Shaftesbury. But the cabinet council, which digested all affairs before they were brought forward, consisted of Essex, who was the new Lord Treasurer, in place of Danby, Sunderland, Secretary of State, Halifax, aud Temple. SiX; days after the appointment of the new council, in a debate on the succession, Colonel Birch said, " It m|ist not be the addition off four or
* MSS. at Lengleat. See aho Sidney's Letters to Saville, April 21. and IVJay 12.