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His motive, no doubt, was, as Mr*. Fox has remarked, to prevent the Crown from assuming the power of remitting the whole, as well as a part of the punishment.
The blood of Lord Stafford was nearly the last that was shed on account of the Popish Plot. The Court, and their instruments, the judges, had begun to discountenance the witnesses some time before. The Commons were entirely engaged in the dangers of the succession, and had received, as we have seen, a reproach from the Throne on their remissness, before they turned from that subject to the trial of the Lords in the Tower: and the people themselves, moved by the age and infirmities of Stafford, were awakened from their fears by the spectacle of his execution, to the feelings of pity, and a more correct use of their judgment.
Dec is ^n t'le 15t^ -^ecemDer, tne King made a speech to the Houses, putting
them in mind of his alliances, and the state of
Tangier, and asking what it was they desired
The House, instead of immediately proceeding to the consideration of the King's speech, appointed the ensuing Saturday for that business, and then resolved itself into a grand committee, to secure the kingdom against Popery and arbitrary government. Lord Cavendish moved for a Bill, for the association of the King's Protestant subjects. This measure was ably opposed by Mr. Harbord, who remarked, that ever since the trial of Wakeman, the clergy had preached up the danger of fanatics to be greater than that of Papists, and that to disinherit the. Duke was against the law of God. He, therefore, feared that the present Bill might serve to show the divisions among the Protestants, and be at. last evaded. The Bill itself was an imitation of one of Queen Elizabeth, to prevent a Popish successor *; but, as Sir Willam Jones observed, all the privy counsellors were then for the interest of the Queen; whereas they were all now for that of the successor. This, and the other objections before mentioned, probably determined the promoters of the Bill not to press it with great eagerness.
On the 17th, the House made further resolulutions for bringing in several Bills. One for more effectually securing the meeting and sitting of parliaments; another, enacting, that the judges should be appointed during good behaviour; and another, to make illegal exaction of money upon the people high treason.
On the 18th, the day appointed for taking the King's speech into consideration, Mr. Hampden,
* See this Bill at length, in the Harleian Miscellany, vol. vii. after a long speech, moved for an address, to assure the King, that when he should be pleased to grant such laws as were necessary for the security of our religion, they would be ready to give him what money his occasions might require.
He was followed by Lord Russell, who said, — "Sir, seeing it so apparent that all our fears of "Popery arise from and centre in the Duke, and "that it is impossible the affairs of this nation "should ever settle on a good Protestant bottom "as long as there is a Popish successor, which "cannot be prevented but by the Succession "Bill; that there may be no ill construction "made of our desires, I would humbly move "you to offer to supply the King with what "money he may jieed for the support of "Tangier and alliances, upon his granting of "the Succession Bill only; that so His Majesty "may have no reason to be diffident of us; not "doubting but that if we can once lay a fbun"dation for a good correspondence, that His "Majesty will take so much content in it, "beyond what he doth now enjoy, that, to pre«» serve it, he will afterwards grant us what more "Bills may be further necessary for the security ** of the Protestant religion. And, therefore, I u am not for clogging this address with any re"quest for any thing more than that one Bill."
This speech shows, that, however unwilling Lord Russell may have been to engage in the Exclusion Bill, he was fully sensible, that when' once in forwardness, it ought to be pursued with firm and Undeviating constancy.
He was supported by Sir W. Jones, who said, with profound judgment, " Without the Exclu"sion Bill, there can be no expedient but what ** will leave us in that miserable condition "of having, first or last, a contest with our "legal King; and there can be no such «* thing as setting up a power to oppose him, "but by putting a kind of supreme authority in "the Parliament, with a power to oppose, as "well by making war, as laws, which might «« prove the destruction of the monarchical"government.*'
The House, however, misled by Mr. Garroway, was in favour of representing all grievances at once; and in the address which was voted on the 30th, we find, besides a petition to the King that he will give his assent to the Exclu-N sion Bill, when tendered to him in a parliamentary way, other requests concerning the judges, the lord lieutenants and deputy lieutenants, justices of the peace, and officers of the army and navy. •"
A Bill was next brought in to exempt Protestant dissenters from the penalties to which they, as well as Papists, were liable by the 35th of Elizabeth. This Bill passed both Houses; but when the King prorogued the Parliament, he privately ordered the clerk not to present it to him.
One of the most important labours of this session, was an enquiry into the conduct of the judges. The most obnoxious of these was the Lord Chief Justice Scroggs. Lord Russell introduced, at the Bar of the House of Commons several witnesses who proved that a grand jury of Middlesex had been dismissed in an irregular manner, when they were about to present the Duke of York as a Popish recusant, and to deliver a petition for the speedy meeting of Parliament. In the debate which followed, Mr. Sydney mentioned that there had been a consultation of the judges about printing; and that they gave their opinion that there was no way to prevent printing by law, as the act concerning it had expired. Upon which, some of the judges were put out, and new ones put in; and a fresh opinion was given, subscribed by all the judges, "That to print or publish "any news-books, or pamphlets of news what"ever, is illegal; that it is a manifest intent "to the breach of the peace, and the offenders "may be proceeded against by law for an U
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