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Benjamin Thorogood, His Opinion of the Point of 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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Benjamin Thorogood, His Opinion of the Point of Succession
B. T. [Sir Benjamin Thorogood, d. 1694]
His Opinion of the Point of
To a Brother of the Blade in
This intriguing tract was one of nearly two hundred titles that appeared during the campaign to exclude James, Duke of York, from the throne. Its Tory author vigorously mustered his party’s objections to any alteration in the succession, taking care to refute every Whig argument. What is especially remarkable about the piece is Thorogood’s readiness to rebut Whig elevation of Parliament by vehemently attacking that institution’s claim to represent the English people.
Both Whig and Tory agreed that European Protestantism was in peril. But while the Whigs saw this as a reason why the Catholic James must not become king, Thorogood finds it the reason he must. James has martial skills, and tampering with the succession would so weaken England that it could not rescue Europe from Louis XIV’s ambitions for a universal monarchy. Where the Whigs claim to preserve monarchy by removing a disastrous heir, Thorogood claims a change in the succession would fundamentally alter the government and make monarchy elective. And whereas Whigs defend Parliament’s right to make such a change, Thorogood denies that power.Only God or man can change the constitution. God shows no sign of wanting it changed and as for man, Parliament cannot speak for the people because it does not represent most of them. Thorogood then produces a stunning assault on anomalies in the English electoral system.
The tract, which ends abruptly in midsentence, was written in the form of a letter to a friend and appeared in a single edition. It is signed with the initials B. T., presumably B. Thorogood. The most likely author is Sir Benjamin Thorogood, a London Tory. If Thorogood did indeed write it, he was among those Anglican Tories to feel the sting of winning the battle but losing the war. The man who advanced James’s claims to the throne, even questioning the basic authority of the king in Parliament, was one of six London aldermen dismissed by then King James in October 1687 for their unwillingness to support his religious policy. A year later, when the fear of an invasion by William of Orange provoked James to reverse his policies, he restored the old London charter and reinstated Thorogood and some other ousted aldermen. Many other aldermen refused to resume their posts. Sir Benjamin lived to see the Glorious Revolution.
AS I covet nothing so much as to see the Exorbitant Power of France reduced to its ancient bounds; so I am sensible no Nation upon Earth can stop the rapid Course of their Victories but Ours, whose Valour still fills their hearts with no less fear than their late Successes have done with ambition. But I confess the consideration of Our present unhappy differences makes me dread losing the opportunity of rescuing enslaved Christendom from their Tyranny, and Our own Glory from the stains of Infamy, contracted by the over-long repose of our Arms. This fear I look upon to be well-grounded, since no less a thing is said to be in agitation than a change in the very Fundamentals of our Government, which like a distemper that seizes the noble Parts, must (after the long struglings and conflicts of the contending parties), extremely weaken, if not absolutely destroy it, as is evident by the no less impious than doleful examples of all Ages; And if that should once happen, (which God in his Mercy prevent), who would be able to resist the mighty Force of France? Or what could England (which alone, if, united, is capable to prevent it), expect but with the rest of Europe, (and upon harder conditions than any other Nation) be swallowed up in the Universal Monarchy?1 To prevent which, since nothing can more effectually contribute than a firm and lasting Union among Ourselves, which is morally impossible to be attained, if once the ancient and fundamental form of Government, under which this Nation has (to its Immortal Renown, and its Enemies’ Terror), flourished so many Generations, be now abolished. I thought fit in a Soldierly manner, and en Cavalier, to shew you that the just exclusion of His Royal Highness2 from the Imperial Crown of this Realm, (in case the King should die without Issue) is absolutely impossible; and this I do on no other account, but because I believe it may do my Country good, whose Interest, as well as Glory, it will be, to have a Prince of Martial Spirit Reign over Us, by whose Valour Our almost withered Lawrels may once more be planted in French-ground, moistened and made fat with the Bloud of our implacable Enemies, and nourished and reared up to that Strength and Vigour they formerly enjoyed by the Courage and Conduct of our Ancestors.
You know it is the common Theme of the Town-Scriblers, that Monarchy is a meer Human institution, alterable in Part; or in the Whole, as often as the Governour and Governed shall think it necessary for their common Safety. That the King for the time being3 is the Supreme Governour, and the whole Aggregate of People the Governed. That these being not otherwise easily to be assembled, are some personally, and the rest by their Representatives in Parliament. That whatever Law or Sanction, the King, with the advice and consent of his People so convened does Enact, binds the whole Nation; and that consequently it is in their Power to exclude His R. H. the Succession, or, which is the same thing, to turn the Hereditary Monarchy into an Elective.
This Position, (how injurious soever to a Successor), is more dangerous to a Prince Regnant, who if weak, easy, or inconsiderate, may, through hope, or fear, be prevailed upon to yield to his own dethroning, and exchange his actual Royalty for an Annuity or yearly Pension; whereas, the other loses only a possibility of a Crown, with this further advantage, That most Men will think him worthy of wearing it, because not the want of Courage and Magnanimity, but of Interest and Power creates his Misfortune. Whatever then shall be said to shew the impracticableness of this Position here in England, is as much intended to secure the Possession of His most Sacred Majesty, or any other that shall lawfully fill the Throne, as the possibility which His R. H. now has, or any other Heir Apparent may have in after Ages. It is indeed a Royal Cause, and as such to be maintained by the Swords and Pens of all good Subjects, of which number I profess myself to be one, and in evidence of my Loyalty say,
1. That since England is de facto a Hereditary Kingdom, and every King for the time being, with the help of his Parliaments entrusted with the Government of it as such; it follows, that as he cannot alien or subject it to another Crown or Person, because the alienation of a Kingdom is so far from being comprehended in the Government of it, by him (to whom first committed) and his Heirs, that it is directly repugnant and inconsistent with it, so he cannot alter the course and order of Succession, which is a kind of alienation, because it transfers the Title to one who (without such an Act) would have none; and consequently any Monarch attempting the Destruction of the very Form and Essence of such a Government, may be thought rather to frustrate in some measure part of the Trust reposed in him, and stray from his Duty, than vitiate his Successor’s Title to the Kingdom.
2. If both Houses of Parliament should be allowed to have a share in the Government in a coordinate manner with the King, then the King and they (having the Supreme Power of Governing a Hereditary Monarchy committed to their Charge, and nothing else), have no authority to alter or destroy it; because a Power to support and maintain a Government, and change and dissolve it, is absolutely inconsistent with itself.
3. This great trust was reposed in them either by God or Man; if by God, then ’tis certain it cannot warrantably be altered without his positive command infallibly known as such; If by Man, we are under the disability until his express Will and Pleasure be made known to us, in a plain, evident and indisputable way.
God has not yet revealed us his Will or Desire to change our Government, nor are we to look for such extraordinary Injunctions at this time, when the light of the Gospel has sufficiently cleared all the Errors and Doubts that might hinder our Duty; And it is an act of equal Folly and Impiety to attempt an Innovation upon the supposition of being able to know certainly and unquestionably the Will of Man, since that knowledge will (to any that seriously considers the Constitution of this Kingdom) appear absolutely impossible. For if by Man we understand (as we must) the whole Complex of the People, or the Governed, we cannot possibly be satisfied of their being after a full and mature deliberation, desirous of a Change, because we have, or at least will use no other way of knowing their minds, but by their Representatives in Parliament; and these whom we commonly call Representatives are either not so at all; or if they be, do not derive their Power from a third part of the Nation, and consequently cannot impart a knowledge to us, which they themselves never had, or execute an Authority which was never given them, according to the old Maxim, nemo dat quod non habet;4 The reason why they may be thought to be no Representatives at all, is, because if the ultimate and last result of Power, such as is doubtless the disposing of the Crown, be in the King and Parliament only, it cannot rationally be said, That the Parliament is the People which is always to be the party Governed; it being as impossible that they should at one and the same time, and in the same respect, be both Governours and Governed, as it is for me to be Master and Servant, in regard to myself singly and alone. But to waive this, which may possibly be looked upon as a subtilty or strained Notion; I say that the Parliament as now usually Elected, is not at all the Representative of the People; I mean so as to have such an actual or virtual Deputation or Commission from every individual person, as may enable them to exercise all the Acts relating to Government, as arbitrarily, and without controll; as if all the People were personally present, and consenting to such Acts. For none have Votes in Elections, but Free-holders of at least forty Shillings a Year, and Citizens and Burgesses, and consequently all Lessees for Years, Grantees of Annuities for Years: Men that live upon the Interest, and Product of their Money: The greatest part of the Clergy, all Soldiers, and Seamen in general, most of the young Nobility and Gentry, who besides their possibilities of Remainders, seldom have anything for their maintenance but their Parents’ allowances; And in fine, the whole number of Labourers, Servants, Artificers, and Tradesmen, not residing in, or at least free of Cities and Boroughs, are totally excluded, and consequently no more represented by the Parliament, than the Attorney you authorized to appear for you this Term in a Suit at Westminster, is warranted by the Authority you gave him, to appear likewise for me without my knowledge or privity; And what can be more unequal, not to say unjust, than that a numerous and upon due computation the far greatest part of the nation, that are Passengers in the great Ship of the Commonwealth, as well as the rest, should be debarred their right of choosing a Master or Pilot, to whose Skill and Care they commit their common safety? Have they not their Liberty, their Property, their Religion; and in a word, the present enjoyments of this, and in some measure the hopes of a future Life to be secured or hazarded by the good or ill Conduct of their Governour? And must this, all this be left to the Arbitrary Power and Discretion of such, as by chance, perhaps more than merit, have acquired the Possession of some Land, or are free of Boroughs and Cities? If a Freehold of forty Shillings per annum, entitles one to as great a share of the Legislative Power, as that of five thousand Pounds does another, what shew of Reason can there be, why one whose Goods and Chattels amount to ten times the value of such a Freehold, and has peradventure a Stock of Reputation, Honesty and Wisdom as many degrees beyond him, should not be equally concerned in the Government?
But allowing Free-holders, Citizens and Burgesses, some Mysterious and Sacred Right, exclusively of all others, of delegating the Representatives, and irrevocable Attorneys of the whole Kingdom; yet surely there should be such a proportion and equality between them, as would render this mighty Power vested in them, agreeable to Right Reason, and the very nature of Government. But we see no such thing for the meanest Borough; For Example, Old Sarum deputes as many men to serve in Parliament, as the greatest County in England, with equal Authority, not only of consulting and debating, but likewise of giving their determinative and decisive Voices in all matters and things whatsoever.
Cornwall which is the two and fiftieth part of the Kingdom, makes above an eleventh part of the House of Commons; and yet London, Southwark, and Westminster, which in the Power of Men and Riches, is judged to be a sixth of the whole Nation, is in the Representative but the sixty-fourth part. And this Solecism alone in the very constitution of the Government will make it forever impossible to have the People Represented in any just and rational manner; unless perhaps such course might be taken, as is practiced in Holland, where each Province sends as many Deputies as it pleases, with power of proposing and debating, but not of resolving by the Votes of the Persons, but of the Provinces.
It may be here objected that our present Constitution has appointed no other way for choosing Representatives; and that therefore we ought to acquiesce. To this I Answer, that it may very well fall out, that nothing may be a clearer and greater hinderance to our having a true and evident knowledge of the People’s Desires and Inclinations by their Representatives, than our very Laws; For example, at present the Oaths of Allegiance, Supremacy, and the Test, are to be taken by all the Members of both Houses of Parliament. But if in this, or any after-age, almost the whole, or the far greater part of the Nation, should become true Presbyterians, who abhor our Royal as much as the Papal Supremacy, or Quakers that indeed scruple all Oaths, or Papists that cannot well be supposed willing to renounce the whole substance of their Religion; could the few, (who by taking such Oaths, would then be rendered capable of sitting in Parliament), be properly accounted the Representatives of a Nation, that could not otherwise look upon them, than as men wicked, irreligious, and perjured, and consequently move forward to heighten than heal their Miseries; To which end no man can be rationally supposed to depute another? No sure, and therefore when Laws which are made for the People, (and not the People for the Laws) do cross and thwart the Right and Interest of the major part of the Society, they then not being able to effect what they were designed for, become useless, and die.
A further Objection will be, that the constant opinion of all Ages has put it beyond doubt, that the Parliament is the Representative of the People; and that all the Acts they pass, do virtually include the consent and agreement of every individual person in the Kingdom. To this I would very readily agree provided it would be allowed me on the other hand, (as appears by all our Law Books), that Monarchy is Jure natura, and unalterable without apparent Violence by any Human Power whatsoever; But if the arrogance or malice of some will carry them so far as to trample upon all the Positive and Fundamental Laws of the Land, and publish daily in Print, to the manifest hazard of the State, that all Forms or kinds of Government, are changable at the Will and Pleasure of the People, into that Species which shall by them be thought the most agreeable, to their Natures and Inclinations; I hope it will not be looked upon as a Crime in me, if following the way they chalked out for me, and waiving the common received opinion, I likewise speculatively pry, into the very Constitution and Frame of parliaments, thereby to shew the impossibility of altering the Succession. But to clear all Objections as far as possible, I say, That the supposition, of the Parliament’s representing the People, is a fiction of Law, well devised by the Wisdom of our Ancestors, for quieting and appeasing the minds of all particular men, who could not have a stronger Motive of Submission, or of not believing themselves injured than their being accounted parties and privy to all Acts of Parliament; But this fiction of Law cannot reach the Actual Legislators, as such, since they cannot be supposed to wrong themselves, though they might those by whom commissioned. The Parliament, then when it alters or repeals Laws, lops off the exuberancies and excrescencies, which by the design or heedlesness of the Managers, grow up in the Government, curbs the Pride, Avarice and encroachments of great Persons bounds and limits reciprocally the Prince’s Prerogative and Subject’s Liberty; and in fine lends its healing hand towards the removing anything that is dangerous or noxious to the Body Politick as first constituted, then, I say, it may well enough for its greater Strength and Authority, be allowed the Representative of the whole Body of the People. But if instead of applying fit remedies for its preservation and continuance, they should go about to annihilate or dissolve it, which must inevitably be attended with violent concussions and universal calamities, it cannot, as I said before, be accounted their Representative; because the consequence of such an Act must immediately influence every individual Member of the Society; and ’tis but reason that the common concernment of the ruine or happiness of all; should be left, not by fiction of Law, but in reality, to be weighed by their own Judgment. For if (as some would have it) the Power of Dominion was originally in the People, and by them transferred on one, few or many of themselves, ’tis evident that as every one was actually aiding by his choice and agreement in erecting such a Dominion, so it’s necessary he should by the same means concur to its change and destruction.
If it should be said that our Government was first established not by the Votes of Individuals, but by Representatives in the Nature of Parliaments, as now constituted; I Answer, that it could not be, because of the inequality of the choice, which is certain was not in the beginning; (for until the 8th. year of Henry the 6th. as is plain by the Statute then made, the Electors of Knights of the Shire were not under a necessity of having forty Shillings per annum to expend) or if it was, let our Adversaries prove when and where it first began; if they cannot, but confidently and positively affirm it was so, and we as confidently and positively deny it, then ’tis evident, we being in possession, that the advantage will be on our side, for in aquali jure melior est conditio possidentis.5
4. Having thus far endeavoured to prove that the Parliament is not the Representative of the People. I further say, That allowing them to be so, yet ’tis certain they assemble not of themselves, but by the King’s Writ, which sets forth the occasion of their being called viz. To advise and consult, &c. De arduis & urgentibus negotiis Regni, of the great and pressing Affairs of the Kingdom. Now the Kingdom being Hereditary at the time of issuing forth the Writ, and they summoned to appear and give their advice concerning the good Estate and Defence of it as such, ’tis plain they cannot change, alter or destroy it, no more than a Physician sent for, to remove the Pains and Oppressions of Sickness, can lawfully stab or poison his Patient, who through rage or folly may yield his assent to his own destruction. ’Tis ridiculous and foolish to think that even the very Country would not with high Indignation resent such an attempt, since they know full well that the Election of Members to constitute the Body Politick of a Parliament, was never intended to destroy the Head and most essential part of it, I mean the Hereditary Kingship, which abstractedly from this or that man, who may give an ill Precedent, and therefore is not intrusted with an absolute disposal of it, is the very Life and Soul of the Government, and without which it must infallibly crumble into pieces.
5. We all know that a Body Politick, which is the Work and Creature of Man, has many resemblances with the Body Natural, which is the Creature of God; for as this aims always at its ease, happiness and long preceptions of the pleasures of this Life, and consequently dreads and abhors Death or Dissolution which puts an end to all, so the other is constant and unwearied in the pursuit of the like ends to that degree, that by its very constitution and essential form we attribute to it a kind of Immortality, whence comes the known Maxim received into our Laws, That the King never dies, that is, that Kingship, not the Persons to whom it is inherent or annexed for this, or that time, is beyond the reach of Fate and Time that puts an end to all things. This then being so, we cannot rationally conclude that our present Sovereign has Will or Power to destroy himself, that is, Hereditary Kingship, which made him what he is, and is as essential to the Politick Capacity he is in, as Supreme Governour, as the rational Soul is to his natural Capacity, as man. To say or judge otherwise, would be no less, than to put him to break all the sacred ties of Love which bind him so strongly to himself, and suppose him capable to be in some measure his own Executioner, and a Felo de se of Monarchy, than which there can be no greater Indignity offered to the Majesty of a Prince whom we all know to be Just, Merciful and Generous to others; and who therefore must so much the more signally practice those Vertues towards himself, by how much self-respect exceeds that due to another.
6. And lastly, ’Tis evident by several Statutes, that all Knights of the Shires, and their Electors are to be Inhabitants and Residents in the respective Counties the day of the Writ, and that likewise the Citizens and Burgesses are to be men resident, dwelling and free in the Cities and Boroughs for which they are to be chosen; And right reason teaches us that none ought by sinister and unjust means to step into Authority, if therefore anyone be previously disabled and uncapable to exercise Power by a positive Law, or openly by deceits, calumnies or corruption thrust himself into the Seat of Justice, ’tis certain all his Proceedings and Sanctions do carry a nullity and insufficiency in themselves, and affect none, besides the Maker, who by endeavouring to exercise a Legislative Power against Law and Reason, makes his violation of them so much the more manifest. This often happens in choosing of Parliament-men in our days, when those that live in the North are chosen for the South, and men that never saw the Cities or Boroughs before the time of Election made their Representatives, with this further addition of disability, that they gain Votes by Bribes, Threats, and many unlawful Artifices, as by loading their Competitors with the most odious calumny of being Courtiers, Pensioners, Papists, Atheists, and what not, though they know them to have more love for their Country and their Religion than themselves. I know nothing that can more effectually frustrate the Decrees and Resolves of Law-makers than this, and therefore leave it to impartial and indifferent men to judge whether such a practice, if it should intervene, would not exclude any Society of Men from excluding another from his Right.
Upon the whole matter then the present Monarchy is so founded, that neither the King nor the Parliament can possibly alter the true and essential form of it; and consequently his R. H. cannot be barred his Right of Reigning over us, if he survive his Brother, whose Life he values beyond the Crowns and Kingdoms he can leave him, whom God long preserve in Peace and Plenty, and the unfeigned affection of his People.
As for the Examples which are alledged to evince the contrary, and urged so confidently by the Gentleman that is the Author of the Word without Doors6 they do not at all scare me, for the Question is not whether de facto, but whether without violation of Justice and the Principles of right Reason, our Monarchy may be changed? For no man ever doubted but Power, Rebellion and Faction with the concurrence of timorous and easy Princes did often turn things into Tragical Confusions, and unhinge the whole frame of Governments, but far be it from us to ground the lawfulness of our Actions upon so weak a Topick as that of Example, since we know that no Crime can be perpetrated, no Usurpation introduced, no Violation offered even to Heaven itself, but will be all warrantable, if their being subsequent to a like practice of former Ages frees them from Guilt. Rebellion is as ancient as the Creation, it first divided the Court of Heaven, and deprived Lucifer and his Accomplices of their Glory, and then threw Man out of the Garden of Eden, and the state of Innocence into a rough tract of the Earth, and yet rougher anguishes and perplexities of Sin. An obedience to God’s Command to encrease and multiply was not long paid, when of the few Inhabitants of the World, one, and he the most harmless too, fell a Sacrifice to his Brother’s envy and maker’s affection. Idolatry (the Jews only excepted) was the common Worship of Mankind, and whatever Species of Christianity was first planted in this Island, ’tis certain that Popery not many Years since was the legal and known Religion universally embraced by the People; yet God forbid we should now pretend Rebellion, Murder, Idolatry and Popery to be all lawful because we find ancient times memorable for such impieties. ’Tis no plea in Divinity to alledge the prescription which sin has gained upon us, as an excuse.
The alterations successively made in the Jewish Commonwealth are nothing pertinent to the matter for whose proof they were brought, for they were either by a previous command or subsequent approbation of God manifested to his Prophets introduced and continued for their respective portions of time, and when we have such visible dispensations of the divine Will imparted to us, we will then be as active in our Obedience and Submission to God as the Authors of such Pamphlets are in their Malice and Disloyalty to their King; but till then we hope no man will expect that, because God who is the Sovereign Author of all Governments, and knows the ways and methods that are most suitable to their happiness, has often changed the form he prescribed to the Jews; Therefore we Men that are possessed with Interest, Passion, and Ambition may do the like upon Motives no ways certain or evident.
His Example of Don Sancho, who by the approbation of the three Estates took the Crown which was the right of his Nephews, is no less impertinent to his purpose, for he himself allows in the 4th. page of his Pamphlet, that in Spain the next Heir cannot succeed but by the approbation of the Nobility, Bishops and States of the Realm. If so, is not that Kingdom in a manner Elective? And what parity is there between it and ours, where the next Heir is actual King without the Ceremonies of Coronation or the consent, choice or agreement of any? He is yet more unfortunate in the Case of Hugo Capetus, who by the choice (as he says) of the States of France invaded the Throne, to the prejudice of Charles Duke of Lorrain the next Heir; For whereas his Position was in the beginning, That any Government was alterable or ammendable by the mutual consent of the Governours and Governed, he now very learnedly proves this, by saying that the States alone did exclude Charles of Lorrain; which surely are not the absolute Governours, at least without the lawful King at the head of them, in any Hereditary Government in the World. If they be, an actual Prince may be deposed with as much Justice as an Heir can be excluded the Succession, and so (for ought we know) his R. H. being once removed out of their way, the next attempt will be against His Majesty.
His Story of William Rufus and his Brother Henrie’s successively enjoying the Crown is to as little purpose as his Foreign Examples; for as it is certain that neither of them had any right whilst Robert Duke of Normandy was living, so their being admitted Kings by the consent of the Realm (that is, I suppose, of a Parliament) gave them no Title at all, by this Gentleman’s supposition, who says that in such Cases the Will of the Governours and Governed must concur. The same Answer serves to defeat the pretended Legality of all his other examples, and therefore I leave him to bemoan his Ignorance, or plead Drunkenness (for his Discourse was delivered in a Tavern) as an excuse of his impertinencies. And I hope none of us will be so Unchristian or Impolitick as to think, that because by the Treasons and Conspiracies of ambitious, disloyal and designing Persons, the Crown was now and then transferred from one Family to another we now must do the like, when the occasions of such innovations are perfectly taken away, not only by the conjunction of the White and Red Roses, but likewise by the meeting of the Bloud Royal of the three Kingdoms in the Person of our present Monarch. To attempt this, were to bring all the evils upon the People to which the unsteddy course of Human Affairs can possibly subject them, For where a gap is once opened to Ambition and snatchings one from another, the most bloudy Commotions imaginable succeed, in which necessity obliging the parties to the practice of promiscuous Violences, Depredations and Slaughters, the People at last wearied with the Cruelties and Calamities of War, and to purchase quiet at any rate, often give up their Liberty to the Conquerour, and make the publick Desolations of their Country its Grave; so terrible an Example of which we had in the late Troubles,7 that surely none, but such as are Betrayers of the English Liberty, or destined for Slavery, will venture the like Transgression the second time.
It will be said, that his R. H. has embraced the Papal Religion, which will be as destructive to the Temporal and Eternal Well-fare of the whole Kingdom, in case he should come to the Crown, as it is to his own Soul, and therefore, to prevent so universal a mischief, it is necessary his particular Interest should be sacrificed to the publick. To this I Answer,
1. No man ever yet gave any particular convincing instance of his being a Papist, besides his not conforming to the Religion now established by Law, or not taking such Oaths as would make him capable of enjoying all the great Offices of the Kingdom, to which his Birth and Merit without them might justly entitle him; But this Nonconformity is agreeable not only to all the Classes and Subdivisions of Protestantism, but to all the other Forms and Modes of Worship in the World, and his unwillingness to swear, proceeds, for ought we know, rather from a belief that all Oaths are unlawful, as not only many of old Christians, our present Quakers, but the most refined and ingeniously learned of all Modern Sects the Socinians, maintain, than that he thinks the matter of those the Law now requires to be Damnable or Heretical, and therefore we may as well say that he is a Presbyterian, Independent, or Quaker, or Socinian; or, which is yet worse, a Turk or Jew, as that he is a Papist: and to speak Truth our too much curiosity, and strict scrutiny into this matter, is far less warrantable than his concealing his opinion; for Who art thou that judgest another Man’s Servant? To his own Master he standeth or falleth; yea he shall be holden up, for God is able to make him stand.
Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of Darkness, and will make manifest the Counsels of the hearts.
2. If he be a papist now, who can tell but the powerful operations of the Holy Spirit may by changing his Sentiments concerning Sacred things remove those jealousies and fears with which we are now so strongly possest, and add to his future happiness the temporal blessings we so much dread to lose? Faith is the Gift of God, and he being most just and merciful, will we hope bestow it where it may have the kindest reception, and bring forth its Fruits in greatest Plenty, that is on a Prince whose natural Endowments and moral Vertues are so eminent as, (if enlivened by true Faith as we hope they are) to enable him when a King to conquer the Atheism, Irreligion, Debauchery and other swarms of Evils, with which the Age abounds, by his Example, as well as the Enemies of the Crown by his Valour. ’Tis our Duty then to wait the leisure of Providence, and not by a rash, not to say a wicked attempt, endeavour to deprive him of his right, and ourselves of the happiness his enjoying the Religion, as well as the Kingdom, of his Ancestors, may possibly secure unto us; nor do I see any satisfactory reason, why he should be so severely used, allowing no hopes of his Conversion or Return to the Church of England, for our Religion is sufficiently guarded by several Acts of Parliament, which he can never repeal. And besides, His present Majesty is (thank God) Strong, Active, and Vigorous, and likely enough either to outlive his R. H. or leave him so old and crazy as to want briskness answerable to his zeal, to attempt any notable change or innovation in the Government.
3. Popery in the single Person of the Prince, whatever is said to the contrary, is consistent enough with the Welfare of the Subjects, though of another Perswasion, as appears in Germany, where in many Places the Body of the People are of the Reformed, and the Prince of the Romish Religion, without diffidence or fear, or the narrow Spirit of Persecution of either side.
4. By the Principles of the Church of England, no Prince can be deposed, or forfeit his Right to the Sovereignty, purely upon the score of Religion; and as long as that Church is in being, and the rule and managment, next after the King, of all things as well Spiritual as Temporal, is by the Laws of the Land in its hands, and the hands of such as are Members of it, and obedient Children to the Practice and Discipline of so pious and charitable a Mother, ’tis evident that none else can be proper Judges, or have cognizance of the point now in debate, but they; and therefore his R. H. appeals to them, and is not at all concerned at what others can do, who doubtless have as great a desire to dethrone the King as to bar the Succession, could it be done with as much security and safety; For as he who intentionally and deliberately would destroy an Infant in the Mother’s Womb, by causing an abortion, would never scruple the bringing of him to an untimely end after his coming into the World, did not the Law appoint Death for the Punishment of this, though not of the other. So he, that on the account of Religion, would exclude another from the possibility he has to a Crown, would make no conscience of discharging an actual Prince, from his Royal Function, upon the same or other motives, were not his possession fenced and guarded by the Law, which makes all such attempts High-Treason, and so exposes him to all the evils attending so great a Crime.
But after all, why so much rancor, hatred and aversion against his R. H.: who of all men living is the most passionate Lover of his Country, and under whom, if ever it should be his lot to wear the Imperial Crown, it would undoubtedly be as happy as under any that swayed the English Scepter since the Conquest; having so many Princely Qualities, though now clouded and kept concealed from the eyes of the Nation, by the artifice of his Adversaries, as would fill the hearts of all true English-men with Love and Respect, and those of his Enemies, whether Domestick or Foreign, with Fear and Confusion; For he is a Prince of a Noble Presence and affable Behaviour, with a mixture of pleasantness in his Words and Actions, that wins powerfully the affections of all that approach him. His discourses are always pertinent and solid, free from Flourishes and a vain and empty Ostentation of Wit, which sorts better with the levity of mimical Heroes, upon a Theatre, than the true Grandeur of real Princes in a Court.
He is of a most high Spirit, and invincible Courage, of mature Wisdom, and singular Industry and Application to business, wary in Council and quick in Execution; He hates above all things a perpetual fluctuation and unsteddiness in the Measures and Politicks of Government, because it makes it a Riddle to itself as well as to all other Nations, and forces it to wander and stray from the proposed Ends, having no clue of reason to guide it through so many Labyrinths of Confusions, and therefore is constant and inflexible in his Resolutions, whilst suitable to the true Interest of the Nation, which often created him great and dangerous Enemies, every one hoping in the uncertainty and variety of Councils to be able to get the Ministry into his own hands, and therefore looking upon him with an Eye of Envy, as the hinderance and main obstacle of their ambitious purposes.
He is true and firm to his Friends and Servants, whom not chance or fortune, but parts and merit, with a long and unstained reputation of Honesty, places in his Favour; and as his love is not to the Persons, but their Vertues, so his hatred extends only to their Vices, and ends as soon as they begin to give any visible signs of their Repentance; and whatever is said to the contrary by some of his Enemies, who would scare the rest, and harden them in their wickedness, by putting them into a despair of forgiveness, he is not of a vindictive Spirit, for none ever yet fell otherwise than gently by his means, or smarted any longer under his indignation, than they continued obstinate and willful in the pursuit of his and the Country’s disquiet, as might be proved by a thousand instances too tedious to be here recounted. In short, he is of a Martial and Souldierly Temper, patient of cold, heart, hunger, thirst and all the toils and fatigues naturally incident to War either by Sea or Land; his Valour is sprightly, but not rash; his Conduct wary and secure, and the events of his Battels and Engagements8 still Fortunate and Succesful, all which would certainly make the English Nation (for whose Genius Providence has fitted him) readier to shed their Bloud to acquire him new Crowns, than deprive him of those Nature has already entitled him to, after the Death of his Brother, had not the inveterate malice of some restless and Factious Spirits possessed them with an opinion of his having designed for so many years to involve them in Bloud and Slaughter; the falshood of which will easily appear, to any that consider his actions all along since his and the King’s Return from their Exile, to which such Practices as are now afoot drove them.
As it is doubtful whether he renounced the Religion, wherein he was Educated, and embraced Popery more than Socinianism, or any other form of Christianity distinct from the National Worship; so it is certain, that he always adhered to the True Interest of England: I mean the Glory and Preservation of the Monarchy, which His Royal Father consigned to his Posterity, Sealed with his Blood, shed by Men outdoing in Practice (though not in Principles) the Modern Reformers.
He hath made it his Business to free his Majesty’s Subjects from their Fatal Longings after a Commonwealth, to which the Contagion of the late Times had Enslaved them; And by his Addresses, Sollicitations, and Preferments, with which he was able (when in Power) to Reward such brave Souls as signalized their Loyalty to his Father or Brother in the Disorder of their Affairs; He hath brought that Virtue in fashion again, and made more Converts to the Royal Authority, than all the Orthodox Clergy with their Preachings and Arguments, (how Learnedly and Industriously soever handled), were able to do.
Quis enim Virtutem amplectitur ipsam, Praemia si tollas?9 —The Truth of this will appear easily to any, that will take the trouble to consider, how notably the Reverence due to Majesty is impaired, and how Universally the Anti-monarchical Principles are spread within these Seven or Eight Years, since upon the misconceived Jealousies of the People, He declined the Influence He had upon the State, by his Great Imployments.
Through the Power, which his Fidelity and Ability gave him over the King, He hath procured the chiefest Places of Strength in the Nation; And most of the great Trusts, as well Civil and Religious, as Military, to be confered upon known Royalists, and sworn Enemies to such, as under the specious pretence of securing our Liberties, would again involve Us in the same Calamities, from which, Providence hath so lately Delivered Us.
He hath been by his Advice and Influence over the great Ministers the Principal Opposer of all the French Agents, who in subservience to Their Interest, were often tampering for promoting of an Arbitrary Government, and of making the King’s Interest both distinct from, and opposite to that of his People. And this He hath done in Obedience to the Fundamental Laws, for which he always testified a great Veneration, and to prevent the ill Effects constantly attending such Pernicious Councels: For He well knew from the History of some of his Progenitors, that an Attempt to remove the Antient Boundaries and Land-marks of Government, never misses opening a way of Discord and Confusion; Of which, Ambitious Men taking Advantage, by their wheedling Practices, often perswade the People that are Heady, Valiant, and Jealous of their Liberty, to run into Rebellion; which as it generally terminates in the Ruine of the Prince, or Subject, so it often Enslaves both to the Power of a Foreign Enemy; For which ReasonHe always held the Constitution of the Kingdom as Sacred and Inviolable, in reference to the People, as He now does in regard of his own Right.
It was This Active and Vigilant Prince, that (possessed with Flames of Love towards the City of LONDON, as violent as those that reduced it to Ashes),10 exposed his person to a Thousand Dangers, to Rescue it from Destruction. He busied those Hands (destined for Managing of Scepters) in Breaking open Pipes and Conduits for Water, reached Buckets as nimbly as any of the Common People; cleared the Streets from the Throngs and Crouds, that hindered the carrying away of their Goods, Appointed his Servants and Guards to Conduct them to secure places: And in fine, for several Nights and Days, (without Sleep, or rest from Labour), was seen in all parts, giving the necessary Orders for preventing the further spreading of the Conflagration, as if Love (which usually works Miracles), had Multiplied him, or rather given him a kind of Ubiquity. And this He did, partly to shew his Gratitude to his Beloved Londoners, whose Minion He was, but chiefly to save the Magazine of the Strength and Treasure of the Kingdom from Desolation and Ruine.
Whatever is said of his Inclination to Popery, or the Humour of the French Nation, ’tis Evident, He understands, and pursues the Interest of England so well, that to check the Torrent of their Victories, by creating them work at home, he forwarded (as much as possibly he could) an Alliance, which Monsieur Rohux, a French Gentleman proposed to His Majesty for the Securing of Foreign Protestants; And it had in all probability come to a very happy Issue, had not Monsieur Rovigny Leiger, Embassador from France at this Court, prevented it, by corrupting one Monsieur de Verax, That after the Insurrection in the Vivarets, fled hither, and rid some time in the Guards; who (through Necessity, or Frailty), made Sale of the whole Secret, (and with It, of the Safety of his Friend, and the Protestant Religion in France), for Two Hundred Pistols. Upon notice of which Treachery, Monsieur Rohux retired into Switzerland, where being Seized by a Party of French Horse, he was conveyed to the Bastile; and after some time’s Imprisonment, broken upon the Wheel at the place of Execution.
It was against his Will that the first and last Dutch Wars were commenced, yet the resolution being taken, by those, whose Will is a Law, in sheathing, or unsheathing the Sword of the Subjects, he valiantly, and for the Glory of the English Nation, in the First, with many Thousands of their Souldiers and Seamen, sunk a great part of their Fleet, blew up their Admiral, and with him the very Reputation of their Naval Power, thought before Invincible,11 and by Sacking of Scheveling made proud Amsterdam tremble, for which great Services, as England shall ever be indebted, so the Parliament, then sitting, was pleased to vote him £.100,000 as a small acknowledgment of his Merit, and their Affections; and London, and all other Places, entertained him with Acclamations of Joy. Thus you see the vicissitude of Human Affairs, and how Fortune, which then opened the Hearts and Cities of the Kingdom, for his Reception, now shuts them, and all the Avenues to the Crown against him, which may serve as an Example to Perkin Warbeck,12 who never did anything to recommend him, besides the effect of Chance, his being a Protestant, how little reason he has to rely upon the Affections of a Multitude, that so easily forgets the real worth of their Darling Prince.——Nor did he less deserve the hatred of his Enemy, and love of his Country in the last War, in which, though with the many notable Disadvantages of the Wind and Tide, being at Anchor when set upon, and the succeeding Mist, he yet behaved himself with that Gallantry, as made De Ruiter own us to be Invincible, and more than men, and particularly, that His R. H. exceeded all the Admirals in Christendom, as much by his Bravery, as he did by his Birth having, in the heat of the Engagement, (when Refitting, would lose the Benefit of his Orders, and Action), changed Ships oftener than Great Generals at Land, have done their Horses.
It was this Zealous Prince, for the Honour and Safety of England, that advised the forming of the Triple League, which was the wisest Conjunction, and most for the Glory of the King’s Reign, and the Preservation of His Dominions, that ever he entered into. And this he did, not only to curb France, whose Power he saw was already overgrown, but to save all the weaker Parts of Christendom from the Attempts of the stronger; For he knew that while that League continued firm, the King of Sweden, and the States of Holland, would have construed all Designs upon us in England as done against those of the same Interest with themselves, and in favour of whose Security, they had entered into that Alliance.
He was so great a Stranger to the breaking of the Triple League, and seizing the Dutch Smyrna Fleet, that Sir Edward Sprag,13 who was known to be his Creature, was not thought fit to be entrusted with the Secret, which occasioned the Miscarriage of the Design, and the Eternal Glory of his Highness.
He hath not only maintained Correspondence with Foreign Princes, by His Majesty’s approbation, for securing the well-fare of the Nation, but likewise endeavoured to draw them into an Alliance with us, to oppose the French particularly, or any other Foreign Enemy, that by Counsel, or Action, would endeavour the overthrow of our Legal Government. And besides many evidences of this, which are needless to mention at present, the secret Counsel, which, by His Majesty’s Consent, he gave to our several Ambassadors abroad, and are yet to be seen, together with the many Letters he wrote to the same purpose, do uncontrollably demonstrate it.
It was He, that when the late Expedition into Flanders, was thought really Designed against the French, put all his Equipage into a readiness, and vowed to retrieve the Reputation of England, by Death or Conquest. But a Great Man, then at the Helm,14 (now for his many Villanies confined to the Hold), thought fit by his Advice to make a Mock-General, for a Mock-Army, not daring to put such a great Indignity upon any, that had Sense to understand, or Courage to revenge it, which occasioned that Imposition of Peace, under which all the States of Christendom do, more or less, feel the heavy pressures of the French Insolence, whereas, had not that Mercenary Lord put a stop to the Parliament’s Proceedings, and the Duke’s Resolutions, Europe had in a few years been restored to its Tranquility.
He was so far from consenting to, or cooperating in any part of the Popish Plot, that Oats and Bedlow,15 (the two Poles on which the whole Frame of it has its motion and circumgyration) did solemnly clear him, as appears by their several Depositions, and the Journals of both Houses of Parliament.
It was the Duke, who, when Father Bedingfield16 brought him the Treasonable Letters concerning the PLOT, immediately shewed them to the King, that so the Conspirators and their Papers might be seized, and the Truth sifted to the Bottom.
It is he, who this Summer, at Windsor, facilitated the Treaty of Alliance, made between This and The Crown of Spain, for the Common Security of both Nations, against all Enemies whatsoever, and to the unspeakable Advantage of our Merchants in that Country, and all other parts of the Spanish Dominions.
The incredible Expences of the Crown having drained His Majesty’s Exchequer, to that degree, that he wanted Money for defraying the Vast Charges, of Maintaining and Defending Tangier, his R. H. rather than so Important a Place, for the Trade of the Streights, should fall into the hands of the Moors, and, perhaps, by them be delivered up to worse Enemies, generously disbursed a very considerable Sum of Money, for its Preservation; and by that Action shewed how sollicitous he is about the Well-fare of England, even at the very time, when it contrives his Destruction, which is an infallible Evidence of his being in his Nature and Principles very averse from Animosity and Revenge. To which his Enemies have reported him so addicted, that in the opinion of many, he is accounted irreconcilable; whereas he is so much of a contrary temper, that as he equals Caesar in his Greatness of Mind, and firmness of Resolution; so he out-does him in the particular Character of Remembering all things but Injuries. Christianity has made him so unalterable in this Point; that as Thousands of Examples do manifest his Sincerity in it, so his common and constant saying, viz. that as he never forgets good turns, so he can easily forgive bad ones, is an invincible proof of his Inclination. He needs no Cicero to plead the Cause of the Guilty, or heap upon him extravagant Praises for his Mercy to his Enemies in Distress; His own Genius leads him to the practice of that Gallantry, without the Intercession or Flattery of others. Marcus Marcellus was not with more readiness and affection received into Caesar’s Favours, than all Adversaries may be into his, upon quitting those Crimes, for which he is now Vogued inexorable; And, were it his Fortune to have the full knowledge of this particular Virtue spread as far as the Effects have reached, I am confident it would be impossible for the Malice of a few, to impose upon others, so, as to make them continue their violent Actions against him, and think that their Security, (which is really their Hazard) instead of Repenting, to go on to greater Ills upon so groundless and malicious a supposition.
Lastly, as he believes that none deserves to have Obedience paid to him, when a King, that is Unruly and Refractory to his Prince’s Command when a Subject, so he is submissive to his Majesty’s Pleasure, even beyond the Prescript of Law, having now the third time, with the manifest hazard of his Person, besides the difficulties and inconveniencies of travelling, quitted his Native County, upon the first notice of his Commands.
Thus you see what a Prince England is weary of, and that as a weak and diseased Stomack, nauseates even the best Restorative, so our Nation in the Confusions and Distractions the fear of losing its Liberty has put it into, dreads none so much as him, who of all men living, if a King, would be the most able and willing to Defend them. But I hope Scotland understands his Merit, and its own Interest better,17 and will secure him that Ancient Throne, whose Splendor is much abated, since that Kingdom is, by the Absence of their Kings, in a manner become a Province; if he fills it once with an exclusion from ours, it will soon regain its first Lustre, and your name will be as glorious, as ours will be detestable to Posterity. But however, as I would not have the happy Union of the two Kingdoms dissolved, so I hope that either our Repentance will recall him, or that, Alexander like, his own victorious Sword, will in time cut this Gordian Knot of the Succession, and Establish him in his Right. To which, as I doubt not but you will be assisting, so you need not question the help of all Loyal men here, and particularly of
Jan. 3. 1679.