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Parliament and the Succession - Joyce Lee Malcom, The Struggle for Sovereignty: Seventeenth-Century English Political Tracts, vol. 2 
The Struggle for Sovereignty: Seventeenth-Century English Political Tracts, 2 vols, ed. Joyce Lee Malcolm (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1999). Vol. 2.
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Parliament and the Succession
Elkanah Settle, The Character of a Popish Successour
[Elkanah Settle, 1648-1724]
From Such a One.
Humbly offered to the Consideration of
Appointed to meet at
On the One and twentieth of March, 1680/1.
Printed for T. Davies. MDCLXXXI.
This anonymous tract, with its arguments that no Catholic could inherit the English throne, was part of the Whig party’s vigorous campaign to exclude James, Duke of York, from succeeding his brother. It has been attributed to the temperamental and vacillating Restoration poet and playwright Elkanah Settle.
Settle left Oxford in 1666 without taking a degree, but found quick success in London when he was just eighteen with his play, “Cambyses, King of Persia; a Tragedy.” Other plays followed, and for a time he was a favorite of the Court. He became a competitor and later enemy of Dryden, with whom he traded barbs in a series of pamphlets. When the Court wearied of Settle, he approached the Whigs. His strong Protestantism was evident in his next play, “The Female Prelate, being the History of the Life and Death of Pope Joan,” produced in 1680 and dedicated to the Earl of Shaftesbury. The following year, allegedly at Shaftesbury’s behest, he wrote the political tract reprinted here, “The Character of a Popish Successour.”
This timely and provocative tract aroused great excitement, provokeda flurry of replies, and went into two editions. Settle followed it with a revised, and yet more adamant, version later the same year. By 1683 with the king’s crackdown on Whigs in full swing, Settle turned against them in a tract that exposed the popish plot of 1678 as a fraud and heaped abuse on Shaftesbury and his party. His newfound hostility to the Whigs was so intense that Settle even published hostile tracts on the dying speeches of William Lord Russell and Algernon Sidney. By the time of James II’s accession Settle was a staunch Tory, publishing a poem in honor of the new king’s coronation and even enlisting as a soldier in James’s army. After the Glorious Revolution he continued to publish but was understandably shunned by both political parties. He did manage to obtain the post of city poet for London, however, and settled down to produce pageants and plays.
“The Character of a Popish Successour,” however flighty the politics of its author, is of constitutional value as it musters the full Whig political and constitutional arsenal upon which the exclusion movement rested.
The Character of a Popish Successour, and What England May Expect from Such a One.
It has been my Fortune to be a Subject and a Native of that part of the World, where almost three years last past I have scarce heard anything, but the continual Noise of Popery and Plots, with all the clamourous Fears of a jealous Kingdom, about my Ears. And truly, I must plainly confess, I am not so ill a Commonwealthsman, but that I am glad to see my Country-men disturbed in a Cause, where Religion, Liberty, and Property are at stake. If their Jealousies are just, and their Fears prophetick, in God’s Name let them talk. Every good Man ought to be so far from silencing any Reasonable Murmurs, that ’tis rather his Duty to bear a Part in a Choir so Universal. And if we see the Great and Wise Men of our Nation, like true English Patriots, strugling and toiling to prevent our threatening Calamities, let us take delight to behold them restless and uneasie, rolling about our troubled Sea, like Porpoises against a Tempest, to forewarn us of an approaching Destruction.
But amidst our evident Danger, we see another sort of People daily flattering and deluding us into a false and fatal Security. And sure none are so little our Friends, or indeed so void even of Humanity itself, as those who would lull us asleep when Ruine is in view. But since Zeal and Hypocrisy, naked Truth and artificial Falshood, have oftentimes alike Faces, I cannot but think it the Duty both of a Christian and an English man, to unravel the Treachery of those false Arguments which they raise to destroy us.
As first, they say, Why should we stand in fear of Popery, when in the present Temper of England ’tis impossible for any Successour whatever to introduce it?
And next, amidst our groundless Fears (say they) Let us consider what the Prince is that appears so dreadful a Gorgon to England. A Prince that on all accounts has so signally ventured his Life forhis King and Country: A Heroe of that faithful and matchless Courage and Loyalty: A Prince of that unshaken Honour and Resolution, that his Word has ever been known to be his Oracle, and his Friendship a Bulwark wherever he vouchsafes to place it; with such an infinite Mass of all the Bravery and Gallantry that can adorn a Prince. Why, must the change of his Religion destroy his Humanity, or the advance to a Crown render his Word or Honour less Sacred, or make him a Tyrant to that very People whom he has so often and so chearfully defended? Why, may there not be a Popish King with all these Accomplishments, that whatever his own private Devotions shall be, yet shall publickly maintain the Protestant Worship, with all the present Constitution of Government, unaltered?
Yes, now I say something! If this Rara avis in terris1 can be found, then England were in a happy condition. But, alas! What signifie all the great past Actions of a Prince’s Life, when Popery at last has got the Ascendant? All Vertues must truckle to Religion; and how little an Impression will all his recorded Glories leave behind them, when Rome has once stampt him her Proselyte?
But since unlikely things may come to pass, let us seriously examine how far the Notion of such a Popish Successour consists with Reason, or indeed has the least shadow of possibility.
If to maintain and defend our Religion be any more than a Name, it is impossible for any Man to act the true Defensive Part, without the Offensive too: And he that would effectually uphold the Protestant Worship, Peace, and Interest, is bound to suppress all those potent and dangerous Enemies that would destroy them; for all other Defence is but Disguise and Counterfeit.
If then the Wisdom of several Successive Monarchs, with a whole Nation’s unanimous Prudence, and indefatigable Care for the Protestant Preservation, has determined, That those Popish Priests who have sworn Fealty to the See of Rome, and taken Orders in Foreign Seminaries, are the greatest Seducers of the King’s Liege People, and the most notorious Incendiaries and Subverters of the Protestant Christianity and Loyalty; and for that cause their several Laws declare them Traitors; by consequence these are the potent and dangerous Enemies which, in defence of the Protestant Case, this Popish King is obliged to suppress and punish, and these the very Laws he is bound to execute.
And though, perhaps, till the Discovery of the late Plot, for several Ages we have not seen that Severity inflicted on Popish Priests, as the Laws against them require; and why? Because the flourishing Tranquillity of the English Church under this King and His Father’s Reign, rendered them so inconsiderable an Adversary, that the natural tenderness of the Protestant People of England not delighting in Blood, did not think it worth their while either to detect or prosecute them, and therefore has not made them the common Mark of Justice.
But under the Reign of an English Papist, when the Fraternity of their Religion shall encourage the Pope to make his working Emissaries ten times more numerous; when, if not the hope of Publick Patronage, yet at least their confidence of Private Indulgence, Connivance, and Mercy, emboldens the Missive Obedience of his Jesuitical Instruments, whilst the very Name of a Popish Monarch has the Influence of the Sun in Egypt, and daily warms our Mud into Monsters, till they are become our most threatening and most formidable Enemies. And if ever the Protestant Religion wanted a Defender, ’tis then. If the Word, Honour, or Coronation-Oath of a King be more than a Name, ’tis then or never he is obliged to uphold the Protestant Interest, and actually suppress its most apparent and most notorious Enemies.
Well then, for Argument’s sake, by the vertue of a strong Faith, (a Faith so strong as may remove Mountains) let us suppose we may have such a Roman Catholick King, as shall discountenance Pope and Popery, cherish Protestantism, and effectually deter and punish all those that shall endeavour to undermine and supplant it: and then let us examine what this King, thus qualified, must do.
First then, in continuing the Ecclesiastick Jurisdiction, Honours, and Preferments in the Hands of the Protestant Clergy, he must confer his Favours and Smiles on those very Men, whom (by the Fundamentals of his own uncharitable Persuasion, which dooms all that die out of the Bosom of the Romish Church to a certain state of Damnation) he cordially believes do preach and teach, and lead his Subjects in the direct way to Hell: And next, at the same time he must not only punish and persecute, but perhaps imprison and hang those very only Righteous Men, whom from the bottom of his Soul he believes can only open them the Gates of Paradise: whilst in so doing he cannot but accuse himself of copying the old Jewish Cruelty. Nay, in one respect he out goes their Crime; for he acts that knowingly, which they comitted ignorantly. For, by the Dictates of his Religion he must be convinced, that in effect he does little less than save a Barabbas, and crucify a Jesus.
A very pretty Chimaera! Which is as much as to make this Popish King the greatest Barbarian in the Creation; a Barbarian that shall cherish and maintain the Dissenters from Truth, and punish and condemn the Pillars of Christianity, and Proselytes of Heaven: Which is no other than to speak him the basest of Men, and little less than a Monster. Besides, at the same time that we suppose that King that dares not uphold nor encourage his own Religion, we render him the most deplorable of Cowards; a Coward so abject, that he dares not be a Champion even for his God. And how consistent this is with the Glory of a Crowned Head, and what hope England has of such a Successour, I leave all Men of Sense to judge.
Besides, What mismatched incongruous Ingredients must go to make up this Composition of a King! His Hand and Heart must be of no Kin to one another. He must be so inhuman to those very darling Jesuits that like Mahomet’s Pidgeon infused and whispered all his Heavenly Dreams into his Ears, that he must not only clip their Wings, but fairly Cage them too, even for the charming Oracles they breathed him. And at the same minute he must leave the wide and open Air to those very Ravens that daily croak Abhorrence and Confusion to them, and all their holy Dreams, and their false Oracles. Thus whilst he acts quite contrary to all his Inclinations, against the whole bent of his Soul, what does he but publickly put in force those Laws for the Protestant Service, till in fine, for his Nation’s Peace, he ruines his own, and is a whole Scene of War within himself? Whilst his Conscience accusing his Sloth on one side, the Pope on the other, Rome’s continual Bulls bellowing against him, as an undutiful unactive Son of Holy Mother Church, a Scandal to her Glory, a Traitor to her Interest, and a Deserter of her Cause; one day accusing the Lukewarmness of his Religion, another the Pusilanimity of his Nature; all Roman Catholick Princes deriding the feebleness of his Spirit, and the tameness of his Arm: till at long run, to spare a Faggot in Smithfield,2 he does little less than walk on hot Irons himself. Thus all the Pleasure he relishes on a Throne, is but a kind of Good-Friday Entertainment. Instead of a Royal Festival, his riotting in all the Luxury of his Heart, to see Rome’s Dagon worshipped, Rome’s Altars smoak, Rome’s Standard set up, Rome’s Enemies defeated, and his victorious Mother Church triumphant; his abject and poor-spirited Submission denies himself the only thing he thirsts for. And whilst the Principles he sucks from Rome do in effect in the Prophet’s words bid him, Rise, slay and eat, his Fear, his unkingly, nay unmanly Fear, makes him fast and starve.
However, if there be such a King in Nature, as will not defend his own Religion, because he dares not; but sneaks upon a Throne, and in obedience to his Fear shrinks from the Dictates of his Conscience, and the Service of his God: If, like Jupiter’s Log, such a King can be, and Fate has ordained us for a Popish Prince, pray Heaven shrowd the Imperial Lion in this innocent Lambsskin. But I am afraid we shall scarce be so happy; and I shrewdly suspect, that all those cunning Catholick Trumpetters who in all Companies sound the Innocence of a Popish Successour, and flatter us with such a hopeful, harmless, peaceful Prince in a Papist, have a little of the Romish Mental Reservation in the Promises they make us, and no small Jesuitical Equivocation in the Airy Castles they build us.
But I have heard some say, Why, may there not be a zealous Prince of any Religion, who still out of the meer Principles of Morality, shall have that tenderness and sense of his People’s Peace, as to trouble himself about Religion no farther than concerns his own Salvation; and therefore continue the Administration of Laws and Devotion in the same Channel he found them?
And all this his meer Morality shall do! Alas! alas! If he’s a Bigot in Religion, all his Morals are Slaves to his Zeal. Nay, grant him to be the most absolute Master of all the Cardinal Vertues, there’s not one of them that shall not be a particular Instrument for our Destruction. As for Example, allow him Fortitude, suppose him a Prince of matchless Courage. So much the worse; what does that but make him the more daring, and more adventurous, in pushing on the Cause of Rome, and with a more undaunted and manly patience bear all the Oppositions he meets in the way. If he be a Man of Justice, that still makes for Rome: for whilst he believes the Pope to be Christ’s Lawful Vicar, and that that Office includes the Ecclesiastical Supremacy, no doubt but he’ll think it as much the Duty of his Christianity to give the Pope his Right, as to take his own. And in Christ’s own Words, that give unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God those things that are God’s, he’ll certainly judge the Pope’s Restoration as great a piece of Justice, as his own Coronation. Then if he be a Master of Temperance, in the properest sense of this Moral Vertue, viz. a Man that can govern his Passions, that’s still as bad: For he that has the most bridled Passions, has always the firmest and steadiest Resolutions. Who so renowned for Constancy, so fixt in his Resolves, and so unalterable in his determined Purposes, as that Philip of Spain, who was never heard to rage, or scarce seen to frown? Nay, History gives this Character of him, That after the discovery of his Queen’s Adultery with his own Son, at the same minute that he ordered her a Bowl of Poison, he did not so much as change his Look or Voice, either to his treacherous Son, or his incestuous Wife. And what so fit a Pillar for Popery, as such Constancy in a King?
But if we take Temperance in its larger signification, viz. the self-denial of a Man’s Worldly Appetites; still worse and worse: For a Riotous Luxurious Monarch bounds his Ambition wholly in the Pleasures of a Crown, resigns his Reins to his Charioteers, and leaves the Toil of Power to his Subordinate Magistrates, like the Work of Fate to Second Causes; whilst his Intemperance so slackens his Zeal, that it unbends those very Nerves, which otherwise might be more strenuously wound up for our Destruction.
And lastly, if he has Prudence, that’s worst of all. That’s his only winning Card; the only leading Vertue that manages his Policies and Conduct with that Care and Art, till he effects the Business of Rome, and ripens that mighty Work to a perfection, which otherwise an overforward fool-hardy Zeal, by ill management, might destroy.
Thus his very Cardinal Vertues are the absolute Hinges that open the Gates to Rome. Alas! Where Superstition rules the day, all Moral Vertues are but those lesser Lights that take their Illumination from that greater Orb above them. And thus, what boots it in a Popish Heir, to say he’s the truest Friend, the greatest of Heroes, the best of Masters, the justest Judge, or the honestest of Men? All meer treacherous Quicksands for a People to repose the least glimpse of Safety in, or build the least Hopes upon.
But I have heard a great many say, It cannot enter into their thoughts, that a Popish Successour will ever take such an inhuman and so unnatural a Course to establish Popery, it being so absolutely against the English Constitution, that it can never be introduced with less than a Deluge of Blood. Surely his very Glory should withhold him from so much Cruelty, considering how much more it would be for his Immortal Honour, to have the universal Prayers than the Curses of a Nation. And one would think a King would so much more endeavour to win the Hearts, than the Hatred of his People, that certainly in all probability this excentrick Motion, this disjointing the whole Harmony of a World, should be so ungrateful to him, that no Religion whatever should put such a thought into his Head.
And all this his Glory shall do? His Glory! The Glory of a Papist! A pretty Airy Notion. How shall we ever expect that Glory shall steer the Actions of a Popish Successour, when there is not that thing so abject that he shall refuse to do, or that Shape or Hypocrisie so scandalous he shall not assume, when Rome or Rome’s Interest shall command; nay, when his own petulant Stubbornness shall but sway him? As for example; For one fit he shall come to the Protestant Church, and be a Member of their Communion, notwithstanding at the same time his Face belies his Heart, and in his Soul he is a Romanist. Nay, he shall vary his Disguises as often as an Algerian his Colours, and change his Flag to conceale the Pirate. As for instance; Another fit, for whole Years together, he shall come neither to one Church nor the other, and participate of neither Communion, till ignobly he plays the unprincely, nay the unmanly Hypocrite, so long, that he shelters himself under the Face of an Atheist, to shrowd a Papist. A Vizor more fit for a Banditto, than a Prince. And this methinks is so wretched and so despicable a Disguise, that it looks like being ashamed of his God.
Besides, If Glory could have any Ascendant over a Popish Successour, one would think the Word of a King, and the Solemn Protestations of Majesty, ought to be Sacred and Inviolable. But how many Precedents have we in Popish Princes to convince us, their strongest Engagements and Promises are lighter than the very Breath that utters them. As for Example’s sake; How did their Saint Mary of England3 promise the Norfolk and Suffolk Inhabitants the unmolested continuation of the Protestant Worship, calling her God (that God that saw the falseness of her Heart) to witness, That though her own Persuasion was of the Romish Faith, yet she would content herself with the private Exercise of her own Devotion, and preserve the then Protestant Government, with all her Subjects’ Rights and Privileges, uninjured. Upon which those poor, credulous, honest, deluded Believers, on the security of such prevalent Conjurations, led by the mistaken Reverence they paid to a protesting Majesty, laid their Lives at her Feet, and were the very Men that in that Contest of the Succession placed her on a Throne. But immediately, when her Sovereign Power was securely established, and his pious Holiness had bid her safely pull the Vizor off, no sooner did Smithfield glow with Piles of blazing Hereticks, but Chronicles more particularly observe, that no People in her whole Kingdom felt so signal Marks of her Vengeance, as those very Men that raised her to a Throne. Her Princely Gratitude for their Crowning her with a Diadem, Crowned them with their Martyrdoms.
But since we have mentioned her Princely Gratitude, ’twill not be amiss to recollect one Instance more of so exemplary a Vertue. In the Dispute betwixt hers, and the Lady Jane Grey’s Title to the Crown, it was remarkable, that all the Judges of England gave their unanimous Opinions for the Lady Jane’s Succession, except one of them only, that asserted the Right of Mary:4 But it so fell out, that this Man proving a Protestant, (notwithstanding of all the whole Scarlet Robe he had been her only Champion) was so barbarously persecuted by her, that being first degraded, then imprisoned and tortured for his Religion, the cruelty of his Tormentors was so savage, that with his own hand he made himself away to escape them. And well might the violence of his Despair sufficiently testify his Sufferings were intolerable, when he fled to so sad a Refuge as Self-murder for a Deliverance.
But here says another Objection, Suppose that the Conservation of a Nation’s Peace, the Dictates of a Prince’s Glory, and all the Bonds of Morality, cannot have any influence over a Popish Successour; yet why may there not be that Prince, who in veneration of his Coronation-Oath, shall defend the Protestant Religion, notwithstanding all his private regret; and inclinations to the contrary? When rather than incur the infamous brand of Perjury, he shall tie himself to the performance of that, which not the force of Religion itself shall violate? And then, how can there be that Infidel of a Subject, after so solemn an Oath, that shall not believe him?
Why, truly I am afraid there are a great many of those Infidels, and some that will give smart Reasons for their Infidelity: For, if he keeps his Oath, we must allow, that the only Motive that prompts him to keep it, is some Obligation that he believes is in an Oath. But considering he is of a Religion that can absolve Subjects from their Allegiance to an Heretical Excommunicated Prince, nay depose him, and take his very Crown away; why may it not much more release a King from his Faith to an Excommunicated Heretical People, by so much as the Ties of Vassals to Monarchs, are greater than those of Monarchs to Vassals?
But ’twill not be amiss, for strengthening this Argument, to give the World an Instance of the power of an Oath with a Roman Catholick King.
There is a famous Gentleman on the other side the Water,5 whom we all very well know, (pray Heaven we live not to be better acquainted with him than we desire) that once took the strongest of Oaths, the Sacrament, That he would never invade nor make war upon Flanders. But whether or no his Confessour found some Jesuitical Loophole from that Sacrament, or that the Body and Blood of Christ could not hold him, we see that Flanders of late years has not lived so merrily, nor so peaceably, as so Royal a Voucher (one would have thought) might have assured them they should.
And now let us a little balance the difference between the Breach of his Oath, and that of a Popish Princess in England. All the Motives that could provoke him to the breach of his Oath, was only his Ambition, a Lust of being Great. And at the same time that he is an Invader of his Neighbouring Princes, his Conscience must tell him his Conquests are at best but so many glorious Robberies, and all his Trophies but shining Rapines. Was it not the sense of this that made Charles the Fifth, who may be also called Great, after all his Victories, retire from a Throne into a Cloister, out of meer remorse for all the Streams of Blood he had shed, to make the last part of his Life an Attonement for the Faults of the first?
And then if a Roman Catholick can break an Oath only for the pleasure of Conquering, which he knows is doing ill; shall not a Popish Prince in England have ten times more inclination to break an Oath for the propagation of his own Faith, which his Conscience tells him is Meritorious? For, besides the specious flattery, That Kings can do no ill; and That all Crimes are cancelled in a Crown, he has Religion to drive the Royal Jehu on; Religion, that from the beginning of the World, through all Ages, has set all Nations in a Flame, yet never confesses itself in the wrong. Besides, how can a Popish Prince, in attempting to establish his own Religion, believe he does his Subjects an Injustice in that very thing in which he does God Justice; or think he injures them, when he does their Souls right? Alas! no: When Rome by her insinuating Witchcrafts has lifted the full Bowl of her Inchantments to his Lips, what will his holy enthusiastick Rage do less than the hot-brained drunken Alexander? All his best Friends, and every honest Clytus that dares but thwart his Frenzy, is presently his Frenzy’s Sacrifice: only with this difference; the frantick Alexander, after his drunken Fit was over, in his milder and more sensible Intervals, with all the compunctions of penitence, could mourn and groan for what his blinder Rage had murdered. But Religious Frenzy leaves that eternal Intoxication behind it, that where it commits all the Cruelties in the World, ’tis never sober after to be sorry for it. Thus whilst a Popish King sets his whole Kingdom in a combustion, how little does he think he plays a second Nero? Good consciencious Man, not he. Alas! he does not tune his Joys to the Tyrannick Nero’s Harp, but to David’s milder and more sacred Lyre; whilst in the height of his pious Ecstasy he sings Te Deum at the Conflagration. Thus with an arbitrary unbounded Power, what does his licencious holy thirst of Blood do less, than make his Kingdom a larger Slaughter-house, and his Smithfield an Original Shambles? Thus the old Moloch once again revives, to feast and riot on his dear Human Sacrifice. And whilst his fiery Iron Hands crush the poor burning Victim dead, the propagation of Religion, and the Glory of God, as he calls it, are the very Trumpets that deafen all the feeble Cries of Blood, and drown the dying Groans of what he murders.
Thus whilst the Bonds of Faith, Vows, Oaths, and Sacraments can’t hold a Popish Successour, what is that in an Imperial Head, but what in a private Man we punish with a Gaol and Pillory; whilst the perjured Wretch stands the universal Mark of Infamy, and then is driven from all Conversation, and like a Monster hooted from Light and Day. But the Pope and a Royal Hand may do anything; there’s a Crown in the case to gild the Deeds his Royal Engins act.
They are still that adorable Sovereign Greatness we must kneel to, and obey. What if a little perjured Villain has sworn a poor Neighbour out of a Cow or a Cottage! Hang him, inconsiderable Rogue, his Ears deserve a Pillory. But to Vow and Covenant, and forswear three Kingdoms out of their Liberties and Lives, that’s Illustrious and Heroick. There’s Glory in great Atchievements, and Vertue in Success. Alas! a vast Imperial Nimrod hunts for Nobler Spoils, flies at a whole Nation’s Property and Inheritance. A Game worthy a Son of Rome, and Heir of Paradise. And to lay the mighty Scene of Ruine secure, he makes his Coronation Oath, and all his Royal Protestations, (those splendid Baits of premeditated Perjury) the Cover and Skreen to the hidden fatal Toil laid to insnare a Nation.
But now to their main Objection: Some People will tell us, That ’tis wholly impossible for any Popish Successor, by all his Arts or Endeavours whatever, to introduce Popery into England.
To this I answer, If he’s a Papist that says so, he knows he belies his Conscience; for our late Hellish Plot7 is a plain Demonstration, that their whole Party believed it possible. For did not the late Secretary St. Coleman’s Records8 tell us, That the pestilent NorthernHeresy was to be rooted out, and that now they had as much hopes of accomplishing that Sacred Work of Rome, as they had in Queen Mary’s days? Could anything be plainer, than that the subtle Jesuits had formed a Design to effect it? For it is contrary to Reason, and even Nature itself, (as bloody as their Principles are) to think they aimed at the Life of their King, and would play the Regicides only to commit the blackest of Murders, for meerly Murder’s sake. No: They had the assurance under a presumptive Popish Heir, of making a National Conversion; and how little privy soever he might possibly be to their principal and hellish Blow, yet they had that perfect insight into the very Soul of a Papist, that they were satisfied that under that Notion it was impossible for him to be otherwise than a Man of Rome’s right stamp, and their Heart’s own liking. And if under such a Successour, their hopes of a Nation’s Conversion were equal to those in Queen Mary’s time, no doubt the converting Means must have been as Bloody or Bloodier than hers. For if after the short Infancy of seven years’ Reformation, under the Protestant Edward the Sixth’s Reign, there wanted Fire and Faggot to restore the Pope; how much more will he want them for his Restoration, after an Exclusion of almost Sevenscore years together, with all the necessary Difficulties of regaining his Empire, where his Throne has been so long demolished? Nay, in Edward’s Days the only detestation of the Fopperies, Idolatries, and Superstitions of Rome, was all that went to make a Protestant Reformation. Alas! the Beast was then but young: But his Horns are since grown stronger, and his Teeth and Tallons sharper: For, since that, we have had the notorious Paris and Irish Massacres,9 when at one riotous Festival above 100,000 bleeding Protestant Hearts were all gorged by the devouring Monster in a Night. Add to these, the successive Villanies of Gunpowder-Treasons, Fired Cities, with Plots against Kings and Kingdoms, which serve to heighten the Protestant Abhorrency. And if after all this we must still be converted, most certainly his Holiness must follow Nebuchadnezzar’s Example, and heat his Fiery Furnace seven times hotter than formerly.
Thus far we are convinced that the Jesuits believed it possible; and they are too cunning and politick a sort of People, to be deceived with Shadows, or make Mountains of Mole-hills. And that it may not be objected, That their Zeal has blinded their Reason, let us but rightly consider, how far the first Foundations of Popery, (viz. Arbitrary Power) may be laid in England. First, then, if a Papist Reign, we very well understand that the Judges, Sheriffs, Justices of the Peace, and all the Judiciary Officers, are of the King’s Creation: And as such, how far may the Influence of Preferment on baser Constitutions, culled out for his purpose, prevail even to deprave the very Throne of Justice herself, and make our Judges use even our Protestant Laws themselves to open the first Gate to Slavery. Alas! the Laws, in corrupted Judges’ hands, have been too often used as barbarously as the Guests of Procrustes, who had a Bed for all Travellers; but then he either cut them shorter, or stretched them longer, to fit them to it. Well, but if the Publick Ministers of Justice betray the Liberty of the Subject, the Subject may petition for a Parliament to punish them for it. But what if he will neither hear one, nor call the other? Who shall compel him? The intailed Revenues of the Crown are much larger than his Popish Predecessors ever enjoyed, notwithstanding all the Branches of it that terminate with the Life of this present King. Besides, if this will not do, there’s no doubt but he’ll find sufficient Assistance from the Pope, English Papists, and Foreign Princes. And then having but a prudent Eye, and a tenacious Hand, to manage his Exchequer, we shall find he’ll never call that People he shall never have need of. And then where are our Parliaments, and a Redress for all the Grievances and Oppressions in the World? But all this while the Pope is not Absolute, there wants a Standing Army to crown the Work. And he shall have it; for who shall hinder him? Nay, all his Commanders shall be qualified, even by our present Protestant Test, for the Employment. He shall have enough Men of the Blade out of one half of the Gaming-houses in Town, to Officer twice as many Forces as he shall want. ’Tis true, they shall be Men of no Estates nor Principles; but they shall fight as well as those that have both: For People are ever as valiant that have their Fortunes to raise, as those that have them to defend: nay, of the two they shall be more faithful to him; for they have no Property to be concerned for, and will more zealously serve him, by reason their whole Interest and Estates lie in him? And that this Army may be more quietly raised, how many Honourable Pretences may be found? Perhaps the greatest and most importunate Preservation of his Kingdom shall call for it; and then, upon second thoughts, instead of defeating some Foreign Enemy, they are opportunely ready to cut our Throats at home, if we do not submit, and give all that this King shall ask. And then I hope none will deny, but his Revenue may be as great as he and his Popish Counsellors shall think fit to make it.
Thus far we have given the Pourtracture of a Popish King. And now let us take a Draught of his Features in his Minority; that is, whilst he is only a Popish Heir Apparent.
Imagine then a long and prosperous Reign of a Protestant Prince, a Prince so excellently qualified, that true Original of Clemency, Goodness, Honour, all the most dazling Beams of Majesty: That with all his Sacred Princely Endowments he renders himself so true a Viceregent of Heaven in his Three Kingdoms, so near an Image of God in the moderation of his Temper, and the dispensation of his Laws, that even the nearness of his affinity to Heaven should entitle him to the dearest Care of it. And to prove him the dearest Care of Heaven, imagine likewise that Heaven has given him a People of those loyal and grateful Principles, looking up with that thankful Allegiance, and kneeling with that humble Veneration to the best of Kings, the Authour of their Prosperity, and the Founder of his Kingdom’s Glory, that they have made it the greatest study of their Obedience to deserve so good a King. Witness in all Exigences their cordial tendering their Lives to serve him, and so far endeavouring to strengthen his Scepter and his Sword, till perhaps they have added those Gems to his Crown, that all his Princely Ancestors could never boast of: Being so truly strenuous in rendering their Purses and Fortunes his absolute Votaries, till they have made his Revenue more than trebbly exceed all his Royal Predecessors: And not stopping here, but upon all occassions continuing their generous and unwearied Bounty. Nay, that too, not always where his People’s safety, and his Kingdom’s Glory, but where his private Satisfaction called for it; as if they were resolved to yield their Hands and Hearts so entire a Sacrifice to Majesty, that they would gratify even his softest Wishes, studying to sweeten his Fatigue of Empire with all the Pleasures of a Throne.
Now let us suppose, after a long Tranquillity of this matchless Monarch’s Reign, That the immediate Heir to his Crown and a part of his Blood, by the Sorceries of Rome is cankered into a Papist. And to pursue this Landschape, we see this once happy flourishing Kingdom so far (as in all Duty and Reason bound) concerned for themselves, their Heirs, and their whole Country’s safety, till with an honest, cautious, prudent Fear they begin to inspect a Kingdom’s universal Health; till weighing all the Symptoms of its State, they plainly descry those Pestilential Vapours fermenting, that may one day infect their Air, and sicken their World; and see that rising Eastern Storm engendering, that will once bring in those more than Egyptian Locusts, that will not only fill their Houses and their Temples, but devour their Labours, their Harvests, and their Vintages. Thus they so long survey their threatened Country’s Danger, till with a more than Prophetick horrour, they manifestly discover all the inseparable Concomitants of a Popish Successour; and, like true Patriots, anticipate their Woes, with a present sense of the future Miseries they foresee.
With these just Resentments of their dangerous State, ’tis easie to conclude what follows. What is this Popish Heir in the Eye of England, but perhaps the greatest and only Grievance of the Nation, the universal Object of their Hate and Fear, and the Subject of their Clamours and Curses? At whose Door lie their Discontents and Murmurs; But ’tis Murmurs so violent, that they thrust in amongst their very Prayers, and become almost a part of their Devotions: Murmurs so bold, that they dare approach the very Palace, nay Throne and Ear of Majesty. And whenever the People of England reflect on this Heir as their King in Reversion, they have reason to look upon him as no better than Jupiter’s Stork amongst the Frogs. Yes, notwithstanding all his former Glories and Conquests, his whole Stock of Fame is so lost and buried in his Apostacy from the Religion, and consequently the Interest of these Protestant Kingdoms, that all his Services are cancelled, and his whole Mass of Glory corrupted.
Suppose likewise this Popish Heir for many years so blest in the Tenderness and Friendship of the best of Kings, that there is not that Favour or Honour within the reach or wish of Majesty, that he has not made it the Study of his whole Reign to confer upon him; whilst his Greatness and Lustre have been so much his dearest darling Care, as if the promoting his Interest had been the Support of his own; till in short he has had so large a share in the Bosom of this Royal Pylades, this kindest and most gracious of Princes, as if one Soul had animated them both.
On this Foundation, as great Affections are not easily removed, and Sympathy is that Bond which Human Power can never dissolve, suppose moreover, that this inseparable Tie continues so long, notwithstanding all the Changes of Principles and Religion, a Biass so heavy that it almost overturns a Kingdom. Yet still the force of Nature and Friendship surmounts them all, and stands that zealous unshaken Bulwark, for the protection and safety of this dearest part of himself; till at length he does little less than act so over-fond a Pelican, that he exhausts even his own Vitals to cherish him.
Thus whilst the long and lawful Fears of a drooping Nation have fully and justly satisfied them, that the kindest and most favourable Aspect of a Majesty that smiles on England, through the defence and Interest of a Popish Heir, shines but like the Sun through a Burningglass, whose gentlest morning Vernal Beams, through that fatal Medium, do but burn and consume what otherwise they would warm and cherish; what can the Consequence of this unhappy Friendship be, but that the very Souls and Loyalties of almost a whole Kingdom are staggered at this fatal Conjunction; till I am afraid there are too many, who in detestation of that one gangrened Branch of Royalty, can scarce forbear (how undutifully soever) to murmur and revile even at that Imperial Root that cherishes it? Insomuch that those very Knees that but now would have bowed into their very Graves to serve him, grown daily and hourly so far from bending (as they ought) to a Crowned Head, till they are almost as stubborn as their Petitions and Prayers have been ineffectual.
Thus whilst a Popish Heir’s extravagant Zeal for Rome makes him shake the very Throne that upholds him, by working and incroaching on the Affections of Majesty for that Protection and Indulgence that gives Birth and Life to the Heart-burnings of a Nation; what does he otherwise, than in a manner stab his King, his Patron, and his Friend, in his tenderest part, his Loyal Subjects’ Hearts? Which certainly is little less than to play the more lingering sort of Parricide; a part so strangely unnatural, that even Savages would blush at; yet this Religion, incorrigible remorseless Religion, never shrinks at.
Thus whilst the Universal Nerves of a whole strugling Nation bend their united force against the Invasion of Pope and Popery, in studying to prevent Tyranny, they grow jealous of Monarchy. And fearing lest their Loyal Aid to the Father of their Countrey should unhappily contribute to the strengthening of the Subverters of their peace and liberty, instead of that Tributary-gold which once they so cheerfully showered at their Dread Soveraign’s feet, now on the contrary the protection of a Popish Successor makes them so far from supplying the real and most pressing Necessities of Majesty, that they are rather well pleased and triumph in his greatest wants, and that perhaps when his Glory, nay possibly when his nearest Safety calls for their Assistance.
Thus what does this Popish Heir in tying up the hands of a whole Nation from their just devotion to their King, but only this, In return for the accumulated honours heaped upon him, he most inhumanly starves the very hand that fed him. An Ingratitude that even an Infidel would be ashamed of. But this Religion, incorrigible remorseless Religion, never blushes at.
Besides, if there can be a Son of that Royal Martyr Charles the First, a Prince so truly pious, that his very Enemies dare not asperse his Memory or Life with the least blemish of Irreligion; a Prince that sealed the Protestant Faith with his blood; who in his deplorable Fate and ignominious Death, bore so near a resemblance to that of the Saviours of the World, that his Sufferings can do no less than seat him at the right hand of Heaven. If, I say, there can be a Son of that Royal Protestant, of that uncharitable Popish Faith, who by the very Tenets of his Religion dooms all that die without the bosome of their Church, irreparably damned; then consequently he must barbarously tear up his Father’s sacred Monument, brand his blessed memory with the name of Heretick; and to compleat the horrid Anathema, he most impiously execrates the very Majesty that gave him being.
Then in fine, provided and granted that we have an Heir to the Imperial Crown of England perverted to the Romish Faith, and consequently of that depraved constitution and principles, that he has neither charity for the Stock from whence he sprang, concern or care for the safety, peace, glory or prosperity of the best of Patrons, Friends and Kings; nor lastly, any remorse for all the groans of an afflicted Kingdom. What promises can we give ourselves of his future Reign, when we have all these fatal prognosticks before hand? Ex pede Hercules.10 Or is it likely, he will have greater care and tenderness for a Nation’s peace, when he shall be seated on a Throne, and have more power to take it from them?
But says a Critick to all this, Suppose this Popish Heir undoubtedly believes (as a Papist must do) that there’s no way to Heaven but his own; should he so far comply with the glory or interest of his King, though a Father or a Brother, on the one side, and the quiet and safety of a Nation on the other, as to renounce his principles of Christianity, and conform to theirs? What were that, but to purchase their peace with his own damnation; and to sacrifice his own Soul, for their worldly interests? And certainly neither Duty, nor Allegiance, nor any tie whatever, ought to extort that from him. And then, if all the grievances of a Kingdom lie at his door, alas, the worst can be said of him is, that if he be any occasion of it, ’tis his unhappiness, and not his fault. More especially, provided he is only passive, and that we plainly see that during his being this Popish Heir, he acts nothing that may encourage or favour Popery in the least.
Pray, by the way, How must it follow that if we do not plainly see him act, that therefore he must not act? Does no man act, but he that publickly treads the Stage? Does no man sit at the Helm, but he that visibly holds the Rudder? Does no wind stir the troubled Sea into a Tempest, but what the poor Mariners both hear and feel? No Storm, but that which lightens in their Eyes, and thunders in their Ears, to warn them ’tis coming? Alas, alas, the greatest Hurricanes are only made by subterranean Winds. A secret, silent, underground working Mine of ruine, which never bursts out till it destroys, and which no man hears or sees till he is lost.
But to return to the objection, The grievance of a Nation may be his unhappiness, and not his fault, &c. That is, in short, he cannot help it. Very right. And so when this Popish Heir comes to the Crown, and promotes the Romish Interest with all the Severity, Injustice, and Tyranny, that Religious Cruelty can invent, his answer will be, he cannot help it, or at least cannot withstand those irresistible motives that prompt him to their execution, which is the same thing. The injunctions of his conscience make him as active now in the ruining a Kingdom’s peace, as he was passive in it before. For who can be so void of common sense, as not to know that the same impulse of conscience that makes a man a Roman Catholick, will make him act like one when opportunity serves? And what greater opportunity to establish Popery, than for a Papist to wear a Crown? And though perhaps the stubborn English Genius will not easily bend to the Superstition of Rome, yet since his Almighty Friend the Pope, the undisputed Keeper of the Keys of Paradice, will no doubt assign him no common Diadem in Heaven for so glorious a Task as a Nation’s conversion, who then will not make that sacred Work the study of years, which cannot be accomplisht in a day, for such a Reward? Especially when he has these two infallible arguments to spur him on in so godly a Cause: First then, he is of a Religion that makes human Merit the path to salvation. Merit, the Roman Catholick Exchequer, Rome’s bottomless Golden Mine. Merit, that makes the frighted dying sinner starve his own blood, and pawn his Estate to redeem his soul. Merit, that drains the Wealth of Nations into the priestly Coffers, and makes the Luxury of a World the pampered riotous Church-man’s Inheritance. Merit, that can make a Loretto Chappel vie with a Venetian Arsenal; and Rome’s Altars, Cloisters, and Convents, rise so high, so rich, so numerous, and so magnificent, though the impoverisht Widow’s groans, and the naked Orphan’s cries do little less towards the building than a second Amphion. Nay Merit, that can consecrate Daggers, and kill Kings. Thus whilst he has the Wonder-working Merit for his Tutor, what greater and more Meritorious act to canonize him a Saint of the first magnitude, than the converting of an Apostatized Heretical Kingdom?
And then next, he is of Religion that does not go altogether in the old fashion Apostolical way of preaching and praying & teaching all Nations, &c. but scourging, and wracking, and broiling them into the fear of God. A Religion that for its own propagation will at any time authorize its Champions to divest themselves of their humanity, and act worse than Devils, to be Saints. And thus whilst neither the cries of blood can deter him on the one side, and so no Tyranny comes amiss to him; and next, that he has the undeniable assurance of the greatest blessings of Eternity to encourage him on the other; With these advantages, who would not be as active as a second Romulus, and with all his utmost vigour and pride, build up his Rome’s new Walls, though he made his nearest, nay the Nation’s dearest blood their Cement.
And thus what is a Popish Heir, but the most terrible and the most dangerous of England’s Enemies, and of all our Foes has the most inflexible invincible Enmity. Nay, the very outrages of Thefts, Murders, Adulteries, and Rebellions, are nothing to the pious Barbarities of a Popish King. The Murderer and Adulterer may in time be reclaimed by the precepts of Morality, and the terrors of conscience. The thief by the dread of a Gallows may become honest. Nay, the greatest Traitor, either by the fear of death, or the apprehensions of Hell, may at last repent. But a Papist on a Throne has an unconfutable vindication for all his proceedings, challenges a Commission even from Heaven for all his Cruelty dares act. And when the Inchantments of Rome have toucht his tongue with a cole from her Altars, what do his Enthusiasms make him believe, but that the most savage and most hellish Dooms his blinded zeal can pronounce, are the immediate Oracles of God? and all the apology a poor Nation can expect from him, is, He cannot help it.
I, but, (says the wisest Criticks we have met with yet) if these be the dangers of a Popish King, why have we not such strong, such potent Laws made before this popish Heir come to the crown, that it shall be impossible for him ever to set up Popery, though he should never so much endeavour it?
To this I answer; To endeavour to set up Popery by Law, even with the Laws that we have already against it, is impossible, and therefore the very supposition of the projection that way is nonsense. And on the other side, to conclude he’ll endeavour to do it against Law, and so to make new Laws on purpose for him to break them with their fellows, is worse nonsense than the other. Besides, Who shall call this King to question for breaking these Laws, if he has the power and will to do it? I fancy that the only nearest illustration I can make upon this point in creating new Laws against Popery in case of a Popish Successor, is as politick a piece of work in the kind, as building the Hedge to fence in the Cuckow. ’Tis true, I will not deny, but a Popish King may be totally restrained from all power of introducing Popery, by the force of such Laws that may be made to tie up his hands; but then they must be such as must ruine his Prerogative, and put the executive power of the Laws into the hands of the people. If a King of England were no more than a Stadt-holder in Holland, or a Duke of Venice, no doubt Popery would have little hopes of creeping into England; which is in short, he that is no King, can be no Tyrant. But what Monarch will be so unnatural to his own blood, so ill a Defender, and so weak a Champion for the Royal Dignity he wears, as to sign and ratify such Laws as shall entail that effemenacy and that servility on a Crown, as shall render the Imperial Majesty of England but a Pageant, a meer Puppet upon a Wire? If then no King will assent to make Laws to do it this way, and no Laws can do it the other, all laws against Popery, in case of a Popish Successour, are as I told you before, but building the Hedge, &c. For indeed, how can the force of Laws made by a Protestant Predecessour, and a Protestant Parliament, in any sort bind a Popish Successour, when the very first advance of the Pope’s Supremacy introduces that higher power, those Canonick Ecclesiastick Laws, which no Secular, or any Temporal Court can or may controul? Laws that shall declare, not only all the Statutes and Acts of Parliament made against the Dignity of Mother Church, void and null, but the very Lawmakers themselves as Hereticks, wholly uncapable of ever having any right of making such Laws. No doubt then, but that fire that burns those Heretick Lawmakers, shall give their Laws the same Martyrdom.
With this certain prospect, both of the Ruin of their Estates, Lives, and Liberties, where lies the sin in the Commons of England to stand upon their guard against a Popish Successor? Ay, a God’s name let them stand upon their guards, and use all expedients to keep out Popery and Tyranny, provided still that we preserve the sacred Succession in its right line; for that we are told both King and people are obliged in conscience to defend and uphold.
I think I need not insist further in multiplying arguments to prove how far ’tis impossible to do one without the other; but on the other side let us examine how the defending and establishing a Popish Successor, is an obligation on our Duties or Consciences.
First then, let us fancy we see this Popish Heir on his Throne, and by all the most illegal and arbitrary means, contrary to the whole frame and hinges of the English government, introducing Popery with that zeal and vigour, till his infatuated conscience has perverted the King into a Tyrant. And not to stop here, If the Constitution of the English Majesty makes a King supreme Moderator and Governour both Ecclesiastick and Civil; What does this Popish King by admitting the Pope’s Church-supremacy, but divest himself of half his Royalty, whilst like the junior King of Brainford in the play, he resigns and alienates the right and power of Majesty to an Invader and Usurper? And whilst we are thus enslaved by a Medley-Government betwixt Tyranny and Usurpation, by establishing a Papist on a Throne, we are so far from preserving the Crown, that is, the Imperial Dignity, in a right line of Succession, that we do not preserve it at all, but on the contrary extirpate and destroy it, whilst by enthroning a Papist we totally subvert and depose the very Monarchy itself. And can it be the duty of either English men or Christians, to have that zeal for a corrupted leprous Branch of Royalty, that we must ruine both Religion, Government, and Majesty itself, to support him? How much more consistent would it be with the honest, prudent, and lawful means of a Nation’s preservation, to take out one link out of the whole Chain of Succession, than by preserving that, to break the whole to pieces? Next let us see, who ’tis the Commons of England would render uncapable of inheriting the Imperial Crown; a Prince of the Royal Blood, nurst and bred up in the Protestant Allegiance and Faith, and afterwards seduced and perverted to the Romish principles and Superstition. And what’s that, but a Prince whom the unanimous Voice both of King and People (for such are the Laws of England) have declared guilty of High-Treason, as we find it in the first Statute in the 23d of Elizabeth.
Be it declared and enacted by the Authority of this present parliament, That all persons whatever, which have, or shall have, or pretend to have power, or shall by any way or means put in practice to absolve, perswade, or withdraw any the Queen’s Majestie’s Subjects, or any within her Highness’s Realms and Dominions, from their natural Obedience to her Majesty; or withdraw them for that intent from the Religion now by her Highness’s Authority establisht within her Highness’s Dominions, to the Romish Religion, or to make them, or any of them, to promise any Obedience to any pretended Authority of the See of Rome, or any other Prince, State, or Potentate, to be had or used within her Dominions; or shall do any Overt Act to that intent or purpose; and every of them, shall be to all intents adjudged to be Traitors; and being thereof Lawfully convicted, shall have Judgment to suffer and forfeit as in case of High-Treason.
And if any person, shall after the end of this Sessions of Parliament, by any means be willingly Absolved, or withdrawn as aforesaid, or willingly reconciled, or shall promise any such obedience to any such pretended Authority, Prince, State, or Potentate, as is aforesaid; then every such person, their Procureres and Councellors thereunto, being thereof lawfully Convicted, shall be tried and judged, and shall suffer and forfeit as in cases of High-Treason.
Nor was this Act any more than a Confirmation and Explanation of an Act made before in the 13th year of her Reign; Where ’tis likewise declared, That if any person, or persons, shall willingly receive or take any Absolutions, or Reconciliations from the See of Rome, that they and their Seducers shall be equally guilty of High Treason. Nay, we have an Act even in Henry the 8th’s Reign, in which is declared, That any man that shall refuse the Oath of Henry’s Supremacy in renunciation of the Pope, shall be guilty of High Treason.
If then we have a Popish Heir presumptive of the same brand that these Laws have markt him out, I would ask what crime ’tis in the people of England to endeavour to disable a Traitor from wearing a Crown? Besides, they consider they are under a regulated and bounded Government, a Government where no man stands or falls but by his own act and decree; whilst the whole dispensation of Meum and Tuum are made by every man’s self, or his Representatives. Since then the people of England as the Lawmakers are an essential part of the Government, and are fully assured in the Reign of a Papist, that Right will be destroyed, why should not they be as active and vigorous for their own Royal Inheritance, and Sacred Succession of Power, as a King for his? Nay they ought to be the more vigorous of the two. For the King in defending a Popish Heir, protects but that Successor, whose Tyranny he shall never live to see (since it commences but from his Grave), but the people of England in Asserting their Rights and Liberties, and defending themselves and their Heirs, do oppose that Tyranny which they both live to see and feel. And that they may assure themselves they shall feel it, if ever a Papist mounts this Throne, then all their Murmurs, their Petitions, Protestings and Association Votes will be remembered to the purpose. He that has gone a long and tiresome Journey, through Brakes and Briars to a splendid Palace, when once in possession, will send out to Root up all those Thorns, and weed those Thistles that gored him in the way. Alas! too sure he’ll make good that old promise of God to the seed of the woman, He’ll crush their Heads, that bruised his heels. And would it not be hard, that the folly and fall of one man, should renew our old Adam’s misfortune, and entail a Curse on our whole English Generation? If the policy of Rome, like the old Serpent’s subtilty, has puft him up into an ambition and lust of being equal to God’s; may he have Adam’s success too, whilest the Protestant hearts and hands of England, stand like the Angel’s Flaming Sword to expel him from that once hereditary Paradice, which now his Apostacy has justly forfeited and lost.
Besides, that the disinheriting of an Heir to the Crown of England may not appear a thing so illegal, or indeed so monstrous as some people would make it, I would only refer those vehement assertors of the inviolable right of succession, to our own Chronicles for their confutation. For they’ll find not only the succession was scarce ever kept for Three Kings’ Reigns together, in a direct line of descent, since the Conquest; but that the Crown and Succession were frequently disposed and setled by Acts of Parliament. I shall need instance but in some few particulars; In the 25. of Henry the 8th. we find the Parliament ordering the Succession, and enacting, That the Imperial Crown of this Realm shall be to King Henry the 8th, and to the Heirs of his body lawfully begotten on Queen Ann, and the Heirs of the bodies of such several sons respectively, according to the course of inheritance; and for default of such Issue, then to the sons of his body in like manner; and upon failure of such issue, then to the Lady Elizabeth, &c. By the same Statute is every subject at full age obliged by an Oath to defend the contents of this, and the refusal made misprision of Treason. In the 28th year of his Reign, was that Act repealed, and the Parliament entailed the Crown on the Heirs of his Body by Queen Jane, the Lady Mary and the Lady Elizabeth being both declared illegitimate, the first as the Daughter of Katherine, formerly his Brother’s Wife, and divorced; and the last as the Daughter of Anne Boleign, attainted of High Treason. And in case he died without issue, then the Parliament empowered him by the same Act to dispose of the Succession by his own Letters patents, or his last Will. In the 35th year of his Reign the Parliament granted the Succession to Edward, and for want of heirs of his body, to the Lady Mary, and the heirs of her body; and for want of such heirs, to the Lady Elizabeth; but both subject to such conditions as the King should limit by his Letters patents, or by his last Will signed by his hand; and if the King left no such conditions by his Will, or under his Letters patents, then either of them should enjoy the Imperial Crown with the limitations only made in that Act. By these Acts we may plainly see that the succession of the English Crown was wholly subjected to the disposal, determinations, and limitations of Parliament. And that we may be well assured that that right lay in them, Henry the 8th was a Prince of that wisdom and prudence, and so far from submitting to Parliaments, that we may be very well assured, that he would never have complimented them with a power that was not their due. If he had thought in the least that he could have disposed of the Succession himself, no doubt but he would have challenged the prerogative, had he had it to challenge. And as in every one of these three Acts they declared that their zeal for setling the Succession was for prevention of those mischiefs, and that bloodshed that might possibly be occasioned by future disputes; Here ’tis observed, that whilst they thus bandied the Succession so many various ways, by three several Acts in one King’s Reign, they did not so much respect the preservation of the Right Heir, as the Kingdom’s safety. For had they been so passionately tender for the next of blood in that age, as some would have us be in this, they would never have excluded the Lady Mary and Elizabeth from the Crown in one Act, or never have readmitted them again in another. Besides one thing is remarkable in these Acts of Parliament, viz. the last Act of Parliament gives the Succession to those very Ladies whom the King and Parliament had before declared and recorded illegitimate. Nay, they had proceeded so far, as to make it Treason for any man by writing or printing to say or declare that either the Lady Mary or the Lady Elizabeth were legitimate; and yet afterwards these were no impediments to debar them from a Throne. And England was never more blest, than under the long and glorious Reign of that excellent Princess Elizabeth, how illegitimate soever she had been rendered. I shall only cite one Act more, and that is the 13. of Elizabeth, where ’tis made Treason to affirm the Right of succession of the Crown to be in any other than the Queen; or to affirm that the Laws and Statutes made in Parliament, do not bind the Right of the Crown, and the descent, limitation, inheritance, and governance thereof. If after so plain and evident proofs of the undeniable power of Parliaments, we meet so many snarlers against the proceedings of the last, I know no excuse they can make for themselves, but by owning their ignorance to be as great as their impudence.
If then (which no man in his right wits can deny) our Religion, Lives, and Liberties are only held by a Protestant Tenure, and the Majesty of England not only by the force of his Coronation Oath, but by all the ties whatever ought to be the pillar and bulwark of the Protestant Faith, and at the same time granting that we have a Popish Prince to inherit the Imperial Crown of England, he ought certainly in all Justice as little to ascend this Throne, as Nebuchadnezzar ought to have kept his when the immediate blast of Heaven had made him so uncapable of ruling as a King, that he was only a companion fit for brutes and savages. And if he had no injustice done him when he was thrust out into his proper Element, to feed and herd with the Beasts of the field; a Papist Heir of England with that persuasion and principles so destructive to the British State, has as little wrong done him in being debared from the Succession, as a fitter Guest for a Cloister than a Throne. I remember story tells us, That the Mother of Paris, the Son of King Priam, dreaming before his birth she had brought forth a firebrand that should one day set their Troy in flames, immediately upon this the afflicted King as a true Father of his Countrey, notwithstanding all the compunctions of Nature, and ties of blood, was so far from cherishing even his own Race, and a Branch of himself, that he ordered the Infant to be bred up amongst Swains, as the Son of a Shepherd, where divested of all his Princely Fortunes, and ignorant of his own high blood, he should end his days in ignoble obscurity. And all this out of the prophetick horror but of a dream, that seemed to threaten the peace and safety of his Kingdom. And how much more reason has the present Power of England, for effectually opposing Popery by disinheriting a Popish Successor, when under a Popish Monarch, our Troynovant has the undeniable assurance of being put into a flame; when Priam’s fear was but a Dream? How fabulous soever this Story may appear, yet I am certain we have too much reason to esteem the moral of it Oraculous. And surely our present greatest Sticklers for an unbroken Succession of the Crown, must of all mankind set but a very little price upon their Countrey, and conclude our England the most inconsiderable part of Christendom, when the interest of one man shall outweigh that of Three Kingdoms, with the whole safety of Religion itself, and the Glory of God to fill up the Ballance. But indeed they are resolved to be positive: and be the next of Blood a Papist or a Mahumetan, yet if he be born to it, let him Govern us; And truly I cannot forbear to repeat one of their commonest Arguments, and as they think strongest; which is, If the Son of a private Gentleman, though a Papist, shall inherit and quietly possess his hereditary Estate; is it not hard, nay barbarous injustice, That the Son of a King, and the Heir of a Crown, should lose his Patrimony of Three Kingdoms for being a Papist?
Though this Argument, as Argumentum a Fortiori, has mighty sound in it, yet how feeble will it appear, when the Analogy shall be examined!
That Papist Gentleman that’s born to an Estate, may peaceably inherit it, yes, and with some reason for it: For he’s a Subject of a Protestant Kingdom, and as such has Protestant Laws to rule him. He can neither force his Neighbour or his Tenant to Mass, or imprison or burn them for Heriticks, nor seize their Estates as forfeited to Rome, whilst he is a Papist. His Religion is only to himself, and if he takes any violent or unlawful course to propagate his own persuasion, he’s not so big but he may be brought into Westminster-Hall to answer for it. Nay, possibly the Papist Subject under a Protestant Government, may sometimes behave himself as a more harmless and quiet Commonwealth’s-man, than a Protestant himself, if for no other than his own preservation, as not daring to awaken that Justice that may inflict the penal statutes against him for his Recusancy.
But how directly contrary to all this is the influence of a Romish Heir, when there is not one of all these destructive qualities (of which a private man can ne’re be guilty) that he on the other side shall not vigorously and undoubtedly put in execution, when once the acquisition of a Crown has Enabled him for it, as we have at large discoursed before? And if the Princely Popish Heir be disinherited, when a private Gentleman escapes, ’tis not for his Religion, for that may be alike in both; but for his uncontroulable power of establishing that Religion, which a Royal station will inevitably give him.
Alas, the Protestant strength is above the fear of any little Popish Beasts of prey: It only behoves their safety, to hunt the Imperial Lion down.
If then the English Blood boils so high, and the access of a Papist to a Throne must necessarily meet a passage so difficult, with all these solid Bars between; if his Religion were as Honourable as ’tis invincible, what deathless Fame, and what eternal Trophies might a Popish Heir atchieve, if the welfare of a King and Kingdoms could so far influence him, as freely of himself to make the union of King and people a work of his own creation, by slacking the fatal strength of a too generous Brother’s over-violent Friendship; and so rendering our universal peace his inclination, and not necessity?
I remember in the old Roman History, when a long Plague had reigned in Rome, and an Earthquake had opened a prodigious Gulph in the middle of the Forum, their Consulteo Oracle told them, that neither the Plague should be stopt, nor the breach closed, till the most noble Victime in Rome had appeased their angry Deity. When Curtius, a Noble Youth of Rome, of the best and highest Roman quality, most Princely adorned, and most gallantly mounted on Horseback, with a look so gay and so cheerful, more like that of a Bridegroom than a Sacrifice, amidst a Thousand wondering tender eyes around him; rode headlong into the yawning Pit. Thus falling, unterrified at so dreadful a precipice for his Country’s deliverance, he extorted the promise of the Oracle; for the Pestilence ceased, and the closing Earth sealed up his Grave.
The voluntary resignation of a Popish Heir, would be no less signal National service in the present exigance of England, than that of Curtius in Rome; only ’tis attended with milder circumstances. Our State, as dangerous as it is, does not require any sanguinary sacrifice. The Cure he might make to all our plagues, would be only the easier oblation of quitting the doubtful prospect of a remote and Craggy Throne; and that too, to refix a shaking Crown, to regain the hearts of a whole Nation, and build himself that Pyramid of Honour, which would outshine the wearing a Diadem.
Besides, let Plotting but once end, and the Pendant Sword, which like that of Damocles hangs but by a Hair over our Sovereign’s Head, be safely sheathed, and give Nature fair play, the little disparity of their years considered, the resigning of a Crown in all human probability, would not appear at so much distance, and such uncertainty, altogether so extravagant an offering, especially when ’tis made for a King and Brother’s safety and glory, a Kingdom’s peace and prosperity, nay indeed the whole repose of Christendom, when the concordance of the King and Parliament is the greatest means for strengthening those foreign Alliances, that may give check to the fatal growth of France.
Nay, above all this, what immortal glory would it bring even to the Romish Religion itself, when a Prince so immediately allied to a Crown, shall voluntary lay aside the hopes and pretensions to a temporal Diadem, for an immortal one? And how many more, at least more hearty Converts would so transcendent an example of piety make, beyond the utmost severer influence of a Throne? Nay, I may even without flattery say, the deed would make him so adorable, that for losing a Crown, he would almost raise himself an Altar.
But Rome (Heaven knows) has other work in hand, she’ll have no proselites of that kind of creation; her mode of conversion, I assure you, lies quite another way. Besides, her Champions are not made of so pure and so refined an Ore, their Minerals are more coarse, and more alloyed. Her Saints, in spight of all their heavenly contemplations, have still so much of Earth about them, that like the feet of Daniel’s Image, they are a mixture between Iron and Clay.
But to sum up all; If no reason must or shall prevail, and that right or wrong a Papist must succeed, when all the inseparable cruelties of Pope and Popery shall surround us; suppose the worst that may be, that the dreadful approach of certain slavery, so opposite to the freeborn genius of England, has exasperated them into a spirit of Rebellion; What is it but the pestilential Air of reigning Popery, that bloats and swells them into that Contagion? And if the Popish King summons all his Thunder to punish them for it, What can the greatest favourer of Rome make more on it, than that he warps them crooked, and then breaks them to pieces because they are not straight? And what’s the whole sum of a revolting Nation under a Popish Tyrant, but using a violent cure, to expel an universal poison?
But here will some pretended pious objectors say, How shall we dare to revolt? Remember we are Christians, and we must obey, or at least yield a passive obedience to our King; be his Religion, Principles, or Government never so Tyrannick, he is still the Lord’s Anointed, and our native Soveraign.
I would ask what this Lord’s Anointed is? And who ’tis our Native Soveraign, when instead of being free Subjects, Pope and Tyranny shall rule over us, and we are made Slaves and Papists? We are bound indeed by our Oaths of Allegiance, to a constant Loyalty to the King and his Lawful Successours. Very right; by that Oath we are bound to be his lawful Successour’s Loyal Subjects; but why his Loyal Slaves? Or how is an arbitrary absolute Popish Tyrant, any longer a Lawful Successour to a Protestant establisht and bounded Government, when lawfully succeeding to this limitted Monarchy, he afterwards violently, unlawfully, and tyrannically over-runs the due bounds of power, dissolves the whole Royal constitution of the Three Free States of England, and the Subjects’ Petition of Right? Whilst wholly abandoning those Reins of Government which were his lawful birthright, and making new ones of his own illegal creation, he makes us neither those freeborn Subjects we were when we took that Oath, nor himself that King we swore to be Loyal to. But alas! that Bugbear passive obedience is a notion crept into the world, and most zealously, and perhaps as ignorantly defended. There never wanted the authority even of Holy Writ itself on all occasions to vindicate everything; and there’s scarce a precedent in the oldest Historick part of the Bible, that shall not by an extorted Application, be appropriated even to the duty and necessity of all ages, places and constitutions of the world. For example, They’ll tell you that the Prophet Samuel makes this answer to the Jews that desired a King, That he would make their Sons and Daughters Slaves, and give their Fields, their Vineyards, and their Olive-yards, &c. to his Servants, and all this and much more they must expect from a King, &c. And ye shall cry out in that day, because of your King that you have chosen, and the Lord will not hear you in that day. Which was as much, as if the Prophet had said, If a King shall, as he may do this, you have no redress but to your Prayers for his conversion, and they perhaps too shall not be heard. He does not tell them they might revolt or rebel to redress themselves; no, Heaven forbid he should. For what was the King they desired, but like those of the Nations about them? And what were those Kings but Absolute? In their own breath lay the voice of the Laws, and Sic volo sic Jubeo11 was a Decree or Statute; and if they voluntarily submitted, and vowed allegiance to a King so absolute, and so arbitrary, as such they ought to obey him. And as they freely would run all risks of whatever might follow, it was their own choice, and Volenti non fit Injuria.12 Here indeed a passive obedience was due; But what’s this to a King of England? ’Tis not here, Sic volo sic Jubeo, here ’tis first sic vult populus, and then comes sic jubet Rex.13 Here all our Laws and Decrees by which we are governed, are of the people’s choice; first made by the Subject, and then confirmed by the King. Here a King cannot take our Sons and Daughters, or our Fields and Vineyards away, unless we please to give him them.
If the Three States of England, which we suppose the whole Body of England lawfully convened in Parliament, shall submit to such an arbitrary Majesty, to have their Magna Charta abolisht, their Religion and Liberties destroyed, and to have Popery and Arbitrary power set up, and yield to have the Right of Lords and Commons extirpated, and all devolve into the King, so that like the old Kings of Israel, he may set up Idols and molten Calves, and make us bow down and worship them; if they will do all this, then indeed we are his lawful Slaves, and as such, ’tis our duty to pay him an entire, undisputed obedience.
I would only beg the world seriously to consider how Monarchy itself is acquired and founded, and then the duty of Subjects will be more easily discerned.
Monarchy can be acquired but Two ways.
First, by the choice of the people, who frequently in the beginning of the world, out of the natural desire of safety, for the securing a peaceful Community and Conversation, chose a single person to be their Head, as a proper supream Moderator in all differences that might arise to disquiet that Community. Thus were Kings made for the people, and not the people for the King.
The other acquisition of Monarchy, was by Conquest. The glory and pleasure of Reigning grew so tempting, that (especially in later Ages) they spured on ambitious minds to obtain that by force, which in the infancy of Time, and the first original of Nations, appears to be generally the people’s choice, and not compulsion.
However, whether choice or compulsion, yet after possesion, and the people’s submission, the Right of Kings is sacred.
Now Conquest is twofold.
The first sort is, where the Conqueror wholly over-runs a Nation, or People, and like those that take Towns by storm, destroys and depopulates, kills or enslaves; and then establishes Religion, Rights and Laws, solely at the will of the Conqueror.
The other kind is, when the vanquisht come to capitulate before they yield, and only surrender upon terms.
Such was our last Norman Conquest, when the Inhabitants of Kent, and the Bishops of London upon a parley, prevailed with him (as our Records attest) to confirm their Customs and Rights establisht and granted them by Edward the Confessour, whilst the Lenity of the Conquerour, contenting himself with no larger a Prerogative than their last Saxon King had possest before him; submitted to make their own native common Laws of England, the Standard of his Justice, and the continuation of their Ancient Priviledges the cement of their new Allegiance.
In this mild Channel ran the English Monarchy, till in the Reign of Henry the 3d, the Magna Charta was confirmed; which indeed was but a monumental Register of the Liberties and Immunities of English men, enjoyed before (though not so fixt) in their pious Edward’s Reign. In this state has the Majesty of England, the Dignity of Parliaments, and the Liberty of the people (bating their former servility to Rome) continued ever since. And if now at last, Popery must and shall come in (as by Law it cannot) and consequently must be restored by Arbitrary power: If a new Monarchy, then a new Conquest; and if a Conquest, Heaven forbid we should be subdued like less than English men; or be debared the Common Right of all Nations, which is, to resist and repel an Invader if we can.
But to sum up all this, I must say, the most vehement Disputants against the people’s Right of defending themselves, must at least acknowledg thus much, that whenever a Popish King shall by Tyranny establish the Pope’s Jurisdiction in England, undoubtedly in the Eye of God he is guilty of a greater sin, than that people can be, that with open Arms oppose that Tyranny. For by introducing Popery by Tyranny, by one unjust power he establishes another as unjust; and by one ill, defends a worse: whereas the people of England, in taking Arms against that Tyranny, defend a just Right, viz. their Religion, Lives and Liberties.
Thus when a Popish Monarch shall subvert all Right, and violate all Laws, till oppressing a wretched Nation, more like a Lupus Agri14 than Pater Patriae, he so wholly perverts the Duty of his great Office, and defaces in himself the nearest Image of a Deity, by so falsly representing his Viceregent; Imagine on the other side, a persecuted deplorable People, even abandoned by God, and so exasperated by injustice till they struggle against the Yoke, and the Horrour of this Gorgon in spight of all their Native Duty, has hardened them into disobedience, and then what can a poor Nation expect but vengeance and destruction? If this be our Rod of Iron, this the King ordained to rule over us, What signifies all our long pudder about a Plot, give the Papists that point, and allow them all they dare ask, that there neither is nor has been any Popish Plot: That the Evidence are perjured, and that Coleman’s Letters, Godfrey’s Murder, and Bedlow’s dying Attestations, &c. are nothing to the purpose. Grant this and twice as much more: yet allowing at the same time, that Providence has decreed us a Papist and a Bigot for a King; no matter then for Plotters, Jesuits, or Ruffians; The very essence of a Popish successor is the greatest Plot upon England since the Creation. A Plot of God himself to scourge a Nation, and make Three Kingdoms misarable. As for the other Plot, what was it but a secret Confederacy between a handful of feeble Villains, the Limbs of the Roman Hydra? But, alas! with all their designs they were but men, and as such we have seen them both detected and defeated. But if we are predestined for a Romish Government, that’s a Plot indeed, a design formed by the irresistable decrees of Heaven either for our sins, or what cause to itself best known, to lay a groaning Country in ruine. Nay the ruin is so universal, we must give it no bounds. For upon the supposition of a Popish Heir, we must not conclude that ’tis only the poor distressed Protestants that shall feel the smart, and stand the mark of slavery and Martyrdom. A Popish King has that pestilential influence, that he blasts even the very party he smiles upon, and entails a Curse upon his dearest darling Favourites. As for instance, if after this King’s Reign, steps up a Protestant Prince (for surely the whole Royal Blood must not all follow his Apostacy, and degenerate in secula seculorum) then what becomes of the Popish Interest in the next Generation, and all that flourishing party, whom either the Witchcrafts of Rome, or the Contagion of Regis ad exemplum15 has nurst up for ruine? ’Tis the greatest toil of the next King’s Reign, to make those severer Statutes for future Ages, to suppress the insolencies and follies of the past; whilest those very Idols that were Saints but yesterday, are now crusht and dasht to pieces.
Thus a Popish King undoes at once, the Heretick party in his own Reign, and the Roman Catholick in the next. And then who is it, that he either does or can make happy? Why nothing but an Atheist, he that believes there is no God, and so makes the name of the most fashionable Religion, the Bawd to his pleasures and preferments; or at best that Latitudinarian Believer, that can kneel to a Crucifix today, and burn it tomorrow. This and this only Principle, can be safe under a Papist; and these are the only men that in their right wits ought to be unconcerned at the danger of a Popish Successour.
William Cavendish, Reasons for His Majesties Passing the Bill of Exclusion
[William Cavendish, Duke of Devonshire, 1640-1707]
His Majesties Passing
To a FRIEND.
Printed for J. W. and sold by Langly Curtis, 1681.
William Cavendish, dashing nobleman, ardent Whig, and leading member of Parliament, is considered the author of this exclusionist tract.
In the limelight from the start of the Restoration, Cavendish was one of four young noblemen chosen to bear Charles II’s train at his coronation in April 1661. He was elected to Parliament for Derby that same year and was a leading member of Parliament for the next twenty years. His service was characterized by his anxiety to protect both the Protestant faith and the role and dignity of Parliament. These aims eventually brought him into league with the Whig opposition. When Parliament met in 1676 after a prorogation of fifteen months, it was Cavendish who moved that the overlong recess meant Parliament was, in fact, dissolved. He was later an urgent inquirer into the details of the supposed popish plot of 1678.
Cavendish’s concern for the Protestant faith made him fear the accession of Charles’s brother, the Catholic Duke of York, to the throne. In 1679 he was among the battery of Whigs Charles brought into the Privy Council in hopes of forming a coalition. With the others Cavendish supported suggestions to protect their religion without disturbing the succession. Unfortunately this government coalition broke down the following year, and he resigned from the Council. By 1681, when the short pamphlet reprinted below was written, he had come to the conclusion that there could be no compromise: James must be excluded. The tract assesses the position of the king within the government and the role of religion within a state, then calls upon Charlesto deny his brother the throne for the public good. Cavendish had been influenced by the philosophy of Thomas Hobbes but, as this tract demonstrates, rejected it arguing that the king should bow to the will of the people. This work makes a compelling, and reasoned, plea. Only a single edition was published.
With the collapse of the exclusion campaign Cavendish prudently avoided discussions and subsequent plots against the Duke of York. Nevertheless he remained loyal to his more impulsive friends. He appeared as a witness for William Lord Russell at the latter’s trial, even, apparently, offering to change clothes with him in prison so Russell might escape.
On James’s accession Cavendish kept his distance from the rebellion of Charles’s Protestant son, the illegitimate James Duke of Monmouth. After Monmouth’s defeat, however, Cavendish retired from Court and devoted himself primarily to the building of Chatsworth. At home he abandoned at last the caution that had kept him safe and joined in attempts to bring William of Orange to England. When William finally landed Cavendish worked hard for his triumph. The duke sat in the Convention Parliament where he argued for the deposition of James and the elevation of a new king rather than a regent. He was later sworn to William’s Privy Council. At the coronation of William and Mary he was given the signal honor of bearing the crown. A faithful friend, he also worked to reverse the attainders of Lord Russell, Algernon Sidney, and other Whigs.
Reasons for His Majesties Passing the Bill of Exclusion.
I Am not ignorant that you have lately heard Reports to my disadvantage, concerning some matters relating to the Publick: and though I flatter myself (much more I confess from your Partiality to me, than any Merit I can pretend to) that you do not think the worse of me for them; yet because one cannot be too sure of what one values so highly, as I do your Esteem, I take the liberty to give you some account of my Thoughts of the present posture of Affairs, that if I am not so happy as to continue still in the good opinion you have formerly had of my firmness to the Publick Interest, I may learn at least in what particular you conceive I have varied from it. Which last, though perhaps less welcome than the first, will yet be owned as a very great mark of your Friendship, since I assure myself, you have too much Charity for me to impute my Errours in this kinde to any worse cause than want of Understanding.
I must confess, I have had no great Veneration of late for some Men, who though extreme zealous in appearance for things of Publick Concern, and particularly for the Bill for Excluding the Duke of York from the Succession to the Crown, have yet taken such Methods for the obtaining that Bill, as (with respect to their Popularity) looked to me, as if they had rather wished it should be denied, than granted.
I mean a sort of men that pass with the Vulgar for very publick Spirits, yet are no otherwise for the Publick Good, than as they think it may conduce to their own private Designs. If matters be not disposed for them to leap into a great Place, or to be restored to some Office they have formerly enjoyed, and in which they have discovered Principles far different from what they now profess: if every one they have a prejudice to be not immediately removed, or perhaps if they fancy themselves the most likely to head the Rabble, should things fall into confusion; they will be sure with great appearance of Zeal to press things of less moment, and which they think will be denied, lest anything that really tends to Settlement should be granted. And they are for the most part gainers by this, for their Vehemence, which proceeds from dark and hidden causes, seldom fails of being mistaken by the Vulgar for a true and hearty Love of their Country. I believe His Majesty will finde these men harder, I am sure less necessary to be satisfied, than the Nation. And therefore I hope you will not wonder if I, who care not much for a great Office if the Bill of Exclusion do pass, or to be popular with the Rabble if it do not, cannot heartily concur with all that seems to be aimed at by that sort of people.
I suppose you have heard which way I have declared my Opinion concerning that Bill, when I thought it to any purpose. But give me leave (with as little reflection upon the Causes of the breach of the last Parliament, as the subject will permit) to tell you, what in my poor judgment may most conduce to the passing it in the Parliament which is to meet at Oxford. I cannot imagine how popular Speeches in either House, or angry Votes that are not always backt with the strongest Reason, much less the Pamphlets that fly about in the Intervals of Parliament, can signifie much to the obtaining this Bill; for to what purpose are Arguments to the People to prove the necessity of that, which they are so fully convinced of already?
I should rather think it worthy the Wisdom of the next Parliament, to consider what Arguments are most likely to prevail with the King himself in this matter; and instead of such Addresses as carry the least shew of Menace in them, which cannot but be offensive, since to suppose a King capable of Fear, is the worst Complement can be made him; instead of angry Votes which may alienate the Hearts of the people yet farther from His Majesty, and make him more averse from granting their reasonable Desires, and consequently from consenting to this Bill, to lay before him such Reasons for it, as may convince him that it is his own particular Interest to pass it.
I do not mention the House of Lords, being too well assured of the Loyalty of that Noble Assembly, to doubt of their passing anything for which His Majesty shews the least Inclination. Taking it then for granted that this Bill only sticks with His Majesty, no Arguments are of moment to obtain it, but such as ought to be of weight with Him; and those I conceive to be of this Nature.
One Objection must first be removed: for since Kings, of all Men living, ought to have the greatest regard to Justice, we must not suppose that His Majesty can ever consent to this Bill, till he be satisfied of the Justice of it. I shall therefore endeavour to prove, not only that it is just, but agreeable to the very intention and design of Government.
It seems to me to be an undeniable Position, that Government is intended for the safety and protection of those that are Governed; and that where the Supreme power is lodged in a single Person, he is Invested with that power, not for his own greatness or pleasure, but for the good of the People. The Tyrannies in Aristotle’s time, and those that continue to this day in the Eastern parts, must certainly have degenerated from a better kind of Government by some accident or other; since what people can be supposed to have been so void of sense, and so servilely inclined, as to give up their Lives and Liberties to the unbounded disposal of one man, without imposing the least condition upon him? For admit, according to Mr. Hobbes, that Monarchical Government is formed by an Agreement of a Society of Men, to devolve all their power and interest upon one Man, and to make him Judge of all Differences that shall arise among them; ’tis plain, that this can be for no other end, than the Security and protection of those that enter into such a Contract; otherwise, you must suppose them Mad-men, voluntarily to strip themselves of all means of Defence, against the fury and violence of one of their number, rather than continue in a state of War, where at the worst, they are as free to Rob, as they are subject to be Robbed. ’Tis hard therefore to conceive, that Absolute Monarchy could ever have been constituted by consent of any Society of Men, (besides that we see those that live under them, would be glad to shake off their Yoke if they could) but ’tis probable they may have been raised by the Ambition and Valour of some Prince, or Succession of Princes, or by the people’s supineness in suffering themselves to be enslaved by degrees, and so being at last forced to submit, when ’twas too late to oppose.
I have insisted the longer upon this Argument, because another depends upon it, which comes nearer the present Question; for if no Reason of Government can be assigned, but the Safety and Protection of the People, it follows naturally, that the Succession of Princes in Hereditary Monarchies, cannot be binding, nor ought to be admitted, where it proves manifestly inconsistent with those ends. I need not instance in all the cases that incapacitate a Prince to perform the Office of a Chief Governour; but I can think of no disability so strong or so undeniable, as his being of a different Religion from that which is generally owned by the People.
Religion, considered only in a Politick Sense, is one of the chief Supports of Civil Government; for the fear of corporal Punishments, nay of Death itself, would often prove insufficient to deter men from refusing Obedience to their Superiours, or from breaking their Laws, without those stronger ties of Hope of Reward, and Fear of Punishment in another Life. The Romans, of a fierce and rude people, were made tractable by Numa, and submitted to such Laws and Customs as he thought fit to introduce, not so much by their being convinced of the reasonableness of those Laws, as by the finding a way to perswade them, that all his new Constitutions were the Dictates of a Divinity, with whom he pretended daily to converse. This sense of Religion raised that People afterwards to that incredible exactness of Order and Discipline; and the belief they had the Gods on their side, made them run so intrepidly upon Dangers, that Cicero observes, that though some Nations excelled them in Learning and Arts, others equalled if not exceeded them in Valour and Strength, ’twas to Religion, and their respect to Divine Mysteries, that they owed their Conquest of the World. But this very Religion, that is the Bond of Union between a Prince and his People, when both profess the same, must of necessity produce the contrary Effects, and be the seed of the most fatal Disorders, nay of the Dissolution of Governments, where they differ. The same Conscience that ties the People’s Affections fastest to the Prince in the first case, dissolves all manner of Trust, all bonds of Obedience, in the second.
It is impossible that a Prince should signifie anything towards the support of the People’s Religion, being himself of another; nor would it ever be believed, if he could. And how can that Government subsist, where the People are unanimously possest with a belief that the Prince is incapable of protecting them in that which for the most part the value above all other considerations? I know no instance can be given in this Northern part of the World, even in those Kingdoms that have varied from their Original Constitution and are become Absolute, that a Prince of a different Religion from the People, was ever admitted to the Crown. Queen Mary here in England met with some opposition; yet she could not be said to be of a different Religion from the People: for Popery was so far from being extirpated in her days, that she found a Parliament that joined with her in the restoring of that Religion. But in France, when the King of Navarre, a Protestant,1 was presumptive Heir to the Crown, the States assembled at Blois (as all Historians of that Time agree) had certainly Excluded him, and the rest of that Branch that were Protestants from the Succession, if they had not parted abruptly, upon the Death of the Duke of Guise and his Brother. Nay some affirm, that the King himself, though of the Established Religion, was not out of danger of being Deposed, upon a Suspicion of his favouring too much the Protestant Faction, in opposition to the League. After the King’s Death the Hereditary Right was without Dispute in the King of Navarre; but he found none to assist him in the making good his Title, but the Protestant Party, of whom he was the Head, and some Creatures of his Predecessour, that took his part more out of Hatred to the League, than Affection to him. This Prince was at last indeed admitted to the Crown, upon his Conversion to the Church of Rome. But that would not have sufficed, nor would the Generality of the People, who were extremely zealous for their Religion, ever have trusted one that had been of another, had he not happened to be a Prince of incomparable Courage and Conduct, who through Seas of Blood, and after many Victories, forcing his Entrance into the Capital City, made his way to the Throne by Conquest, rather than by a voluntary Admission of the People. It is observable by the way, that the Bishops and Clergy of France were so far from setting up a Divine Right of Succession above the Religion established, that most of them opposed him even after his Conversion, all of them before; and the Pulpits rung with such bitter Invectives against him, (only upon the account of Religion) as perhaps no Age can parallel. This I should think might serve for Instruction to some Bishops, that I could name, who by maintaining that nothing ought to overrule the Hereditary Right of Succession, must either confess, that their Religion deserves not so much to be defended as the Romish doth, or that they themselves are not so zealous in the defence of it as they ought to be. Let these Assertors of Divine Right tell me, if in France, at this day the most Absolute Monarchy in Europe, and where the Succession is held most Sacred, a Protestant Prince would be admitted to the Crown.
And here in England, besides the consideration of Religion, that of Property is not to be neglected, since what security can be given that Abbey-Lands, in which most Landed men in the Kingdom have a share, would not be restored to the Church under the Reign of a Popish Prince? The Objection that a Prince may be of the Church of Rome, and yet not change the Establisht Religion, is frivolous. For though there may be a possibility of his not attempting it, deterred perhaps by the people’s universal detestation of Popery, or discouraged by the ill success of former Attempts; this amounts to no more, than that he will not bring Popery in, because he cannot. But is this all that a King of England is obliged to do, by the Oath which he takes at his Coronation? An Oath not only a Crime for him to take, (if he be a Papist) but impossible for him to keep. For can a Papist defend that Religion to the utmost of his power, which cannot be fully secured but by the suppression of his own? Can he be a fit Head of the Protestant Interest abroad, who (while he continues of the Church of Rome) must wish there were never a Protestant left in the world? If he be incapable of doing this, that is, if the ends of Government cannot be obtained in the ordinary course of Succession, the State must of necessity fall into Confusion, if there be not an extraordinary power lodged somewhere, to provide for its preservation.
That Power here in England, is in a Parliament, and has often been made use of; but I conceive, for the Reasons above mentioned, never more justly than upon this occasion.
And though the Justice of this Bill be very clear, I think the next thing yet easier to prove, which is, That it is His Majesty’s real Interest to pass it. For if this Government be so constituted, that the King having the Hearts of his People, is one of the most considerable Princes in Europe, but without them signifies but little, either at home or abroad, as I doubt that is the case; and if nothing can contribute more to the alienating the people’s Affections from him, than his denying this Bill, one would think there needed no other Motives to induce His Majesty to pass it. But besides, I should not think this unworthy of His Majesty’s Consideration, if there are some persons to whom he may have a just prejudice; and who if they cannot bring to pass what-ever they propose to themselves, will still be endeavouring to make the Breach wider; whether the denial of this Bill may not furnish them with too plausible Arguments with the People, to refuse such necessary demands as His Majesty may make for the Safety of the Kingdom, or the support of his Alliances; and whether on the contrary, the passing it may not very much disappoint those Counterfeit Patriots, by taking from them the best pretence they have of stirring up the People to Sedition.
Nay, who knows but the refusal of this Bill may exasperate the Nation to that degree, that a Title may be set up on pretence of a former Marriage,2 by the help of false Witnesses, which though as ridiculous in itself, as injurious to His Majesty’s Reputation, may yet put the whole Kingdom into a flame?
The Expedient of taking away all Regal Power from a Popish Successor, and leaving him only the Name of a King, can be no satisfactory security to the Nation, unless such a Form of Government were setled during the Life of his Predecessor. For otherwise the Successor, (having a right to the Crown, which without an Act to exclude him he will have) may not only pretend that the Predecessor cannot give away his Prerogative, but probably may succeed in opposing it, by the difficulty that is always found in the introducing of New Constitutions. Now whether this Expedient (being put in practice during the Life of the present King) be not as good for the people, as the Bill, I shall not now dispute; but as to the King himself, I think ’tis clear, that nothing can be less for his Honour or Interest, than to admit of such an Expedient.
The Objection that this Bill may Disunite Scotland from England, seems not very weighty. For first, we know not but a Free Parliament there, may pass a Bill to the same effect; but if they do not, the Disunion cannot happen, unless the Duke outlive the King; and in that case, will continue but during his Survivance, for the next Successor will unite the Kingdoms again. This inconvenience therefore, if it be at all, will be of so short continuance, as cannot be of weight to ballance with those present and visible Mischiefs that may fall upon the Nation for want of this Bill.
Some have fancied, and I hope ’tis but a fancy, that the King has made a Solemn promise to his Brother, never to pass it. I will suppose the worst. If His Majesty have made such a promise, I conceive, with submission, it is void in itself. For if he have taken an Oath at his Coronation to maintain the Establisht Religion, and in order to that, it be necessary to pass this Bill, I doubt no subsequent promise can absolve him from the performance of that Oath. In the next place, all promises are understood to be for the advantage of him that makes them, or of him they are made to, or both. But the performing this would not only be ruinous to His Majesty, but of no advantage to his Royal Highness: for how great soever his Merit and Vertues are acknowledged to be, he lies under a circumstance that makes it impossible for him to come to the Crown (though this Bill never pass) but by Conquest; and that way he may have it, notwithstanding all the Acts that can be made to oppose him.
I shall add no more to the trouble I have given you upon this Subject, but that I am for this Bill, because I think it just and necessary, not because it is contended for by a Party: for I hold myself as free to differ with that Party, when I think them in the wrong, as to agree with them when they have reason of their side. This may be an Errour, at least may be subject to mis-construction, in a time that most things are so; but I hope you that have known me long, will judge more charitably of