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PARLIAMENT SUMMONED TO OXFORD. KING'S SFEECH.—
FITZHARRIs's PLOT. — EXCLUSION BILL. — DISSOLUTION.
KING'S DECLARATION. ANSWER OF THE WHIGS.
PRINCE OF ORANGE COMES TO ENGLAND. EXECUTION OF
The contest between the King and the House of Commons could not continue much longer. Both parties foresaw, and desired a crisis. * The King, on his part, prepared for it by summoning the Parliament to Oxford, where his party was strong, and where he would have nothing to fear from the resentment of the inhabitants. He went there himself eight days before the meeting. He dismissed from his council, Shaftesbury, Sunderland, Essex, and Temple. On the other hand, a general alarm prevailed amongst the Whig party that some violence was intended. There was a rumour at one time that the Parliament was to be blown up by a new gunpowder plot; but the general idea was, that the King would cause the persons of those obnoxious to him to be seized, under pretence of a conspiracy
* Temple. VOL. I. S
against his person and government. The Earl of Essex, accompanied by the Duke of Monmouth, and fourteen other peers, presented a petition to the King, that the Parliament might be held in London. Charles frowned, and gave no answer.
Lord Grey pretends, that, after this repulse, a design was entertained of refusing to attend the Parliament at Oxford; but, however this may be, the members of Opposition, in both Houses, finally determined to appear in their places. But several of them took the precaution of being attended by many of their servants and retainers; and the members for London, in particular, entered Oxford with a large body of men on horseback, having blue ribbands on their hats, with the motto, " No Popery! No Slavery!" — an ominous appearance in such critical times.
The 21st of March being come, the King opened the Parliament with the following remarkable speech, which is certainly drawn up with great art and judgment.
"My Lords and Gentlemen : — The unwar"rantable proceedings of the last House of Com"mons were the occasion of my parting with "the last Parliament; for I, who will never use "arbitrary government myself, am resolved not "to surfer it in others. I am unwilling to men"tion particulars, because I am desirous to "forget faults; but whosoever shall calmly "consider what offers I have formerly made, "and what assurances I renewed to the last Par"liament; how I recommended nothing so "much to them, as the alliances I had made for «« the preservation of the general peace in Christ"endom, and the further examination of the "Popish plot; and how I desired their advice "and assistance concerning the preservation of "Tangier; andshall then reflect upon the strange "unsuitable returns made to such propositions ¥ by men that were called together to consult, *« perhaps may wonder more that I had patience "so long, than that at last I grew weary of "their proceedings. I have thought it neces"sary to say thus much to you, that I may not ** have any new occasion given me to remember "more of the late miscarriages: it is as much ¥ my interest, and shall be as much my care, as "yours, to preserve the liberty of the subject; "because the crown can never be safe when ** that is in danger; and I would have you like"wise be convinced, that neither your liberties *« nor properties can subsist long, when the *« just rights and prerogatives of the crown <* are invaded, or the honour of the government "brought low, and into disreputation. I let "you see, by my calling this Parliament so «* soon, that no irregularities in Parliament shall «« make me out of love with them; and by this "means offer you another opportunity of pro"viding for our security here, by giving that "countenance and protection to our neighbours ** and allies, which, you cannot but know, they expect from us, and extremely stand in need "of, at this instant; and at the same time give "- one evidence more, that I have not neglected "my part to give that general satisfaction and "security which, by the blessing of God, may "be attained, if you on your parts bring suit"able dispositions towards it; and that the just "care you ought to have of religion be not so ** managed and improved into unnecessary fears, "as may be made a pretence for changing the ". foundation of the government. I hope the "example of the ill success of former heats "will dispose you to a better temper, and not "so much to inveigh against what is past, as "to consider what is best to be done in the pre"sent conjuncture. The farther prosecution of "the plot, the trial of the Lords in the Tower, "the providing a more speedy conviction of "recusants, and, if it be practicable, the ridding "ourselves quite of that party that have any 4« considerable authority or interest amongst "them, are things, though of the highest im«« portance, that hardly need to be recommended "to you, they are so obvious to every man's "consideration, and so necessary for our "security. But I must needs desire you not to "lay so much weight upon any one expedient "against Popery, as to determine that all others "are ineffectual; and, among all your cares "for religion, remember, that without the safety "and dignity of the monarchy, neither religion "nor property can be preserved. What I have "formerly and so often declared touching the "succession, I cannot depart from. But to «* remove all reasonable fears that may arise "from the possibility of a Popish successor's "coming to the crown, if means can be found "that, in such a case, the administration of the "government may remain in Protestant hands, "I shall be ready to hearken to any such ex"pedient by which the religion might be pre"served, and the monarchy not destroyed. I "must, therefore, earnestly recommend to you "to provide for the religion and government "together, with regard to one another, because "they support each other: and let us be united "at home, that we may recover the esteem and "consideration we used to have abroad. — I "conclude with this one advice to you, that the "rules and measures of all your votes may be "the known and established laws of the land, "which neither can nor ought to be departed "from or changed, but by act of parliament; "and I may the more reasonably require, that