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Loud Russell Leaves The Council. Black Box
Election Of Sheriffs.— Duke Of York Indicted
As A Recusant. He Goes To Scotland. Mon
Mouth's Progress. — Meeting Of Parliament.— Violence Against Those Who Had Promoted The
Abhorring Addresses Lord Russell Seconds A
Motion For Bringing In The Exclusion Bill.
Reasons In Favour Of It. Debates In The ComMons.— The Bill Passes Through A Committee.
Message From The Crown. Exclusion Bill
Passed By The House Of Commons, And Carried Up By Lord Russell To The House Of Lords.— It Is Thrown Out. Observations Of Mr. Fox.
The King had agreed, upon the pressing instances of the Duke, that he would recall him from Scotland as soon as Parliament was prorogued; and the 26th January was no sooner passed, than he declared his resolution Jan. 28. m Council. Three days afterwards, 1680. Lord Russell, Lord Cavendish, Mr. Powle, and Mr. Lyttleton, " distasted at the late prorogation," says Sir W. Temple, " as well as at the manner, of it, and pretending to despair of being able to serve the King any longer, in a conduct of affairs so disagreeable to the
general humour of the people," asked His Majesty's permission to leave the Council. The King replied, "With all my heart."
A rumour was spread with great industry at this time, which probably owed its origin to Lord Shaftesbury. It was said that a black box was in the possession of Sir Gilbert Gerrard, containing a contract of marriage between the King and Lucy Walters, mother of the Duke of Monmouth. Sir Gilbert Gerrard, when examined before the council, denied any knowledge of such a box, and the King soon after published a declaration that he never was married to Mrs. Barlow, alias Walters, nor to any other woman but the Queen.
A great contest, attended with much confusion, took place on the election of the sheriffs. Bethel, a presbyterian and republican, who has been severely lashed by the pen of Dryden, and Cornish, a warm friend of liberty, were elected by a great majority. These sheriffs have been accused by North of perverting the course of justice, by making out the lists of juries themselves, instead of leaving that business to the under-sheriff, as before; and by using this power to make juries consist entirely of their own friends. This charge, I fear, cannot be disproved.
The Whig party seems now to have been determined to break with the Duke of York beyond the possibility of return. On the 16th of June, Lord Shaftesbury came to the grand jury at Westminister, accompanied by several Lords and Commoners, and indicted the Duke as a popish recusant. The bill was attested by himself', Lord Huntingdon, Lord Russell, Lord Cavendish, Lord Grey, Lord Brandon Gerrard, and many Commoners, amongst whom occur the . names of John Trenchard, and Thomas Thynne, Esqrs. The chief justice fearing the consequences of this step, dismissed the grand jury before they had finished their presentments. But though the proceeding went no further in Westminister Hall, it had a very general effect on the minds of the the people.* It seems also to have produced great impression upon those whose support was most essential to the Duke. Not only Lord Essex, and Lord Halifax, but Lord Sunderland, and Mr. Godolphin, convinced that a party which could take so bold a step must have a deep foundation in the country, advised that James should go out of England. What made the Duke's absence especially necessary at this period, was the approaching meeting of Parliament. For the treaty with France, before men
tioned, having been broken off' upon the refusal of Hyde and Sunderland to agree to the unjust conditions proposed by the French * ambassador, the want of money obliged the King to meet his Parliament. Previous to their assembling, he called a Council, in which his brother's absence was proposed. The debate was violent, and the majority of the Council appeared to be in favour of the Duke; but the King, supported by Halifax, Essex, Sunderland and Godolphin, decided the question against him. Mr. Seymour said at the Council Board, that those who voted so readily for the Duke's going away, would vote as readily for the King's leaving the kingdom, if the people wished it. Mr. Godolphin replied, "If the Duke does not go now, he must go in a fortnight, and the King with him." Charles appears on this occasion to have been quite convinced of the necessity of his brother's absence. In this extremity, the Duke saw himself utterly abandoned. He in vain ondeavoured to persuade the King to rely upon his troops, and establish his authority by force of arms.t He could only complain to the King that the Crown had not been made independent of Parliament at the Restoration, and that the precedent of the
impeachment of Lord Clarendon had made ministers more anxious to court an interest in the House of Commons than to pursue that of their princes.* He told Barillon, that some of the Lords in the Tower had been in the secret of all that had been designed, and he did not understand how his brother should wish to drive all the Catholics to despair. t
Before he went he asked for a pardon, that he might be secure from impeachment. But this also was refused, and all he could obtain was a promise from the King that he would dissolve the Parliament should they proceed to extremities
* The following sentences form a part of his remonstrance to the King, as he himself records it.
"Had that opportunity been prudently managed which the restoration afforded, the Crown might have had such a revenue settled upon it, as would have answered all its expenses, and so cut the ground from under the Republicans' feet, who have (had) no other to stand on when they
invaded the throne. But the most fatal blow the King
gave himself, was when he sought aid from the Commons to destroy the Earl of Clarendon; by that he put that House again (in possession) of their impeaching privilege,'which had been wrested out of their hands by the Restoration; and when ministers found they were like to be left to the censure of the Parliament, it made them have a greater attention to court an interest there, than to pursue that of their princes, from whom they hoped not for so sure a support.'' Life of James, vol. ii. p. 492.
f Dal. 270.