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“r-but all that is near and dear to us. ‘And, “‘ therefore, I humbly move that we may resolve
. “ to take into consideration, in the first place,
“ how to suppress Popery, and to prevent a Popish ‘-‘ successor; without which all our endeavours “ about other matters‘ will not signify any thing, ‘-‘ and therefore this justly challengeth the pre‘-‘ cedency.”
The motion was seconded by Sir H. Capel, .
and supported by Sir F. Winnington and Mr. Montague, after which it was resolved nem. con. “ That it is the opinion of this House that they “ ought to proceed efi‘ectually to suppress “ Popery, and prevent :a Popish successor.”‘ The next day Sir G. Gerrard brought before the House the subject of the petitions, and the proclamation which had been issued to discourage ‘them. Mr. Sacheverel moved a vote to assert the right of the subject to petition, to which Sir F. Winnington added another, to declare, “ That “ it is and ever hath been the undoubted right “ of the subjects of England to petition the
“ this kingdom, and introducing arbitrarypower. " 3d. That a committee be appointed to enquire “ after all such persons that have offended “ against the right of the subject.”
These votes were unanimously agreed to, and three days afterwards Sir F. Withins was expelled for promoting and presenting an address, expressing an abhorrence of the act of petitioning His Majesty for the calling and sitting of parliaments. ‘ ‘
This vote appears at first sight arbitrary and unjust; but if we consider that the tendency of these addresses was to deprive the subject of parliaments, which is not only one of our most valuable rights, but the guardian of all the rest, and that their direct consequence would have been to abrogate a positive law of the realm, we shall rather conclude that the severity shown by the House of Commons is at least excusable.
- Yet it is not to be denied, that the rage of the Commons against those who had obstructed their meeting, carried them to‘ unjust and arbitrary proceedings. Not contented with punishing their own members, they sent their serjeant to take into custody persons even in Northumberland and Yorkshire, suspected of promoting the addresses. This practice became so oppressive, that the people began to turn their suspicions of an arbitrary King into fears of an arbitrary Par.
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* Roger Coke mentions a person of thelname of-Herring, who having absconded, the House threatened to proceed’against him by bill, ten days after the vote mentioned in the text. But it would seem by the Journals, (14th Dec. 1680,) . that his offence was of a different nature.
accusation against him was not found to be suf-
’It may naturally excite some surprise to find \ Lord Russell proposing so violent a measure as the exclusion of the legal successor to the throne. He was loyal in his disposition, and zealously at- ‘ tached to hereditary‘ monarchy. He was‘ of a 4 temper which inclined to moderate measures, and had on a former occasion supportedthe plan i of limitations. The difiiculty of carrying the 1
Bill of Exclusion must have forcibly struck him
for the Peers were known to be favourable to the
Court, whilst the Clergy were, as usual, engaged
on the side of prerogative and legitimacy: and I‘
if, as it was afterwards loudly proclaimed in Par
liament, there was a loyal party, determined, in
spite ofall laws, to assert the right of James, a|
wise patriot, it may be said, would never concur- 1
in the formation of an act which entailed resist
ance, and made a provision for civil war. These i
considerations might have had some weight in" ‘ ' ‘
Lord Russell’s mind, and probably restrained i
from joining Lord Shaftesbury when ha
1513; Promoted the Exclusion Bill‘. 1' On the other- ‘ ' P 3 ‘ ‘ ’.