Front Page Titles (by Subject) XIII - Selected Discourses and Speeches
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
XIII - Andrew Fletcher, Selected Discourses and Speeches 
Selected Discourses and Speeches: A Discourse of Government with Relation to Militias (Edinburgh, 1698); Two Discourses concerning the Affairs of Scotland (Edinburgh, 1698); Speeches by a Member of the Parlaiment (Edinburgh, 1703); A Conversation concerning a Right Regulation of Government (Edinburgh, 1704).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
My Lord Chancellor
I have waited long and with great patience for the result of this session, to see if I could discover a real and sincere intention in the members of this house to restore the freedom of our country in this great and perhaps only opportunity. I know there are many different views among us, and all men pretend the good of the nation. But every man here is obliged carefully to examine the things before us, and to act according to his knowledge and conscience, without regard to the views of other men, whatever charity he may have for them: I say, every man in this place is obliged by the oath he has taken to give such advice as he thinks most expedient for the good of his country. The principal business of this session has been the forming of an act for the security of the kingdom, upon the expiration of the present entail of the crown. And though one would have thought that the most essential thing which could have entered into such an act, had been to ascertain the conditions on which the nation would receive a successor, yet this has been entirely waived and over-ruled by the house. Only there is a caution inserted in the act, that the successor shall not be the same person who is to succeed in England, unless such conditions of government be first enacted as may secure the freedom of this nation. But this is a general and indefinite clause, and liable to the dangerous inconveniency of being declared to be fulfilled by giving us two or three inconsiderable laws. So that this session of parliament, in which we have had so great an opportunity of making ourselves for ever a free people, is like to terminate without any real security for our liberties, or any essential amendment of our constitution. And now, when we ought to come to particulars, and enact such limitations as may fully satisfy the general clause, we must amuse ourselves with things of little significancy, and hardly mention any limitation of moment or consequence. But instead of this, acts are brought in for regulations to take place during the life of the Queen, which we are not to expect, and quite draw us off from the business we should attend. By these methods divers well-meaning then have been deluded, whilst others have proposed a present nomination of a successor under limitations. But I fear the far greater part have designed to make their court either to her Majesty, the house of Hanover, or those of St. Germains, by maintaining the prerogative in Scotland as high as ever, to the perpetual enslaving of this nation to the ministers of England. Therefore I, who have never made court to any prince, and I hope never shall, at the rate of the least prejudice to my country, think myself obliged in discharge of my conscience, and the duty of my oath in parliament, to offer such limitations as may answer the general clause in the act for the security of the kingdom. And this I do in two draughts, the one containing the limitations by themselves; the other with the same limitations, and a blank for inserting the name of a successor. If the house shall think fit to take into consideration that draught which has no blank, and enact the limitations, I shall rest satisfied, being as little fond of naming a successor as any man. Otherwise, I offer the draught with a blank; to the end that every man may make his court to the person he most affects; and hope by this means to please all parties: the court in offering them an opportunity to name the successor of England, a thing so acceptable to her Majesty and that nation: those who may favour the court of St. Germains, by giving them a chance for their pretensions; and every true Scotsman, in vindicating the liberty of this nation, whoever be the successor.
Our sovereign Lady, with advice and consent of the estates of parliament, statutes and ordains, that after the decease of the Majesty (whom God long preserve) and failing heirs of her body, no one shall succeed to the crown of this realm that is likewise successor to the crown of England, but under the limitations following, which, together with the oath of coronation and claim of right, they shall swear to observe. That all places and offices, both civil and military, and all pensions formerly conferred by our kings, shall ever after be given by parliament.—That a new parliament shall be chosen every Michaelmas head-court, to sit the first of November thereafter, and adjourn themselves from time to time till next Michaelmas; and that they choose their own president.—That a committee of thirty-six members, chosen by and out of the whole parliament, without distinction of estates, shall, during the intervals of parliament, under the king, have the administration of the government, be his council, and accountable to parliament; with power, in extraordinary occasions, to call the parliament together.
Our sovereign Lady, with advice and consent of the estates of parliament, statutes and ordains, that after the decease of her Majesty (whom God long preserve) and heirs of her body failing, shall succeed to the crown of this realm. But that in case the said successor be likewise the successor to the crown of England, the said successor shall be under the limitations following, &c.
No man can be an enemy to these limitations, in case we have the same king with England, except he who is so shameless a partisan either of the court of St. Germains, or the house of Hanover, that he would rather see Scotland continue to depend upon an English ministry, than that their prerogative should be any way lessened in this kingdom. As for those who have St. Germains in their view, and are accounted the highest of all the prerogative-men, I would ask them, if we should assist them in advancing their Prince to the throne of Great Britain, are we, for our reward, to continue still in our former dependence on the English court? These limitations are the only test to discover a lover of his country from a courtier either to her Majesty, Hanover, or St. Germains. For prerogative-men who are for enslaving this nation to the directions of another court, are courtiers to any successor; and let them pretend what they will, if their principles lead necessarily to subject this nation to another, are enemies to the nation. These men are so absurd as to provoke England, and yet resolve to continue slaves of that court. This country must be made a field of blood, in order to advance a papist to the throne of Britain. If we fail, we shall be slaves by right of conquest; if we prevail, have the happiness to continue in our former slavish dependence. And though to break this yoke all good men would venture their all, yet I believe few will be willing to lie at the mercy of France and popery, and at the same time draw upon themselves the indignation and power of England, for the sake only of measuring our strength with a much more powerful nation; and to be sure to continue still under our former dependence, though we should happen to prevail. Now of those who are for the same successor with England, I would ask, if in that case we are not also to continue in our former dependence; which will not fail always to grow from bad to worse, and at length become more intolerable to all honest men than death itself. For my own part I think, that even the most zealous protestant in the nation, if he have a true regard for his country, ought rather to wish (were it consistent with our claim of right) that a papist should succeed to the throne of Great Britain under such limitations as would render this nation free and independent, than the most protestant and best prince, without any. If we may live free, I little value who is king: it is indifferent to me, provided the limitations be enacted, to name or not name; Hanover, St. Germains, or whom you will.