A new Parliament met the 30th of December, when the
King came to the House of Peers, and sending for the Commons, the Lord-Keeper signified his Majesty's Pleasure,
that they should forthwith proceed to the Choice of a Speaker,
and present him next Morning: The Competition was between Mr. Harley and Sir Thomas Littleton, to which latter
the King and Court inclined; but the former was elected by
a Majority of fourteen Votes; who being the next Day presented and approved, his Majesty made this memorable
Speech to both Houses.
The King's last Speech in Parliament.
'My Lords and Gentlemen,
I Promise myself you are met together full of the just Sense
of the common Danger of Europe, and that Resentment of the late Proceeding of the French King, which has
been so fully and universally exprest in the loyal and seasonable Addresses of my People.
The owning and setting up the pretended Prince of
Wales for King of England, is not only the highest Indignity offered to me and the whole Nation, but does so
nearly concern every Man, who has a regard for the Protestant Religion, or the present and future Quiet and Happiness of your Country, that I need not press you to lay it
seriously to heart, and to consider what further effectual
means may be used, for securing the Succession of the
Crown in the Protestant Line, and extinguishing the Hopes
of all Pretenders, and their open or secret Abettors.
'By the French King's placing his Grandson on the Throne
of Spain, he is in a Condition to oppress the rest of Europe,
unless speedy and effectual measures be taken. Under this
Pretence he is become the real Master of the whole Spanish
Monarchy; he has made it to be entirely depending on
France, and disposes of it as of his own Dominions;
and by that means he has surrounded his Neighbours in
such a manner, that though the Name of Peace may be
said to continue, yet they are put to the Expence and Inconveniencies of War. This must affect England in the
nearest and most sensible manner, in respect to our Trade,
which will soon become precarious in all the valuable Branches of it; in respect to our Peace and Safety at home,
which we cannot hope should long continue; and in respect
to that part which England ought to take, in the Preservation of the Liberty of Europe.
'In order to obviate the general Calamity, with which
the rest of Christendom is threatned by this exorbitant
Power of France, I have concluded several Alliances, according to the encouragement given me by both Houses
of Parliament; which I will direct shall be laid before
you, and which I do not doubt you will enable me to
'There are some other Treaties still depending, that
shall be likewise communicated to you as soon as they are
'It is fit I should tell you, the Eyes of all Europe are
upon this Parliament, all matters are at a stand till your
Resolutions are known, and therefore no time ought to
'You have yet an Opportunity by God's Blessing, to secure to you and your Posterity the quiet Enjoyment of
your Religion and Liberties, if you are not wanting to
yourselves, but will exert the ancient Vigour of the English Nation: But I tell you plainly my Opinion is, if you
do not lay hold on this Occasion, you have no reason to
hope for another.
'In order to do your part, it will be necessary to have
a great Strength at Sea, and to provide for the Security of
our Ships in Harbour; and also, that there be such a Force
at Land as is expected in proportion to the Forces of our
Gentlemen of the House of Commons, I do recommend
these Matters to you with that concern and earnestness,
which their Importance requires: At the same time I cannot but press you to take care of the Public Credit, which
cannot be preserved but by keeping sacred that Maxim,
that they shall never be Losers, who trust to a Parliamentary Security.
'It is always with regret when I do ask Aids of my People;
but you will observe, that I desire nothing which relates to
any personal expence of mine; I am only pressing you to
do all you can for your own Safety and Honour, at so critical and dangerous a time; and am willing that what is
given shall be wholly appropriated to the purposes for
which it is intended.
'And since I am speaking on this Head, I think it proper
to put you in mind, that, during the late War, I ordered
the Accounts to be laid Yearly before the Parliament, and
also gave my Assent to several Bills for taking the Public
Accounts, that my Subjects might have Satisfaction how
the Money given for the War was applied: And I am willing that Matter may be put in any farther Way of Examination; that it may appear whether there were any misapplications and mismanagements, or whether the Debt
that remains upon us, has really arisen from the shortness
of the Supplies, or the Deficiency of the Funds.
'I have already told you how necessary Dispatch will be,
for carrying on that great Public Business, whereon our
Safety, and all that is valuable to us depends. I hope,
what time can be spared, will be employed about those
other very desirable things, which I have so often recommended from the Throne; I mean, the forming some good
Bills for employing the Poor, for encouraging Trade, and
the farther suppressing of Vice.
'My Lords and Gentlemen, I hope you are come together, determined to avoid all manner of Disputes and Differences, and resolved to act with a general and hearty
Concurrence, for promoting the common Cause; which
alone can make this a happy Session.
'I should think it as great a Blessing as could besal England, if I could observe you as much inclined to lay aside
those unhappy, fatal Animosities, which divide and weaken
you, as I am disposed to make all my Subjects safe and easy,
as to any, even the highest, Offences committed against
'Let me conjure you to disappoint the only Hopes of our
Enemies, by your Unanimity. I have shewn, and will
always shew, how desirous I am to be the common Father
of all my People: Do you in like manner lay aside all
Parties and Divisions; let there be no other Distinction
heard of among us for the future, but of those who are for
the Protestant Religion, and the present Establishment,
and of those who mean a Popish Prince and a French Government.
'I will only add this, if you do in good earnest desire to
see England hold the Balance of Europe, and to be indeed
at the head of the Protestant Interest, it will appear by your
right improving the present Opportunity.'
On the 5th of January the Commons presented their Address as follows.
Address of the Commons.
'Most gracious Sovereign, We your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal Subjects, the Commons of England in Parliament assembled, do return our most humble and hearty Thanks
to your Majesty, for your most gracious Speech from the
Throne; and humbly crave leave to assure your Majesty,
that this House will support and defend your Majesty's lawful and rightful Title to the Crown of these Realms, against
the pretended Prince of Wales, and all his open and secret
Abettors and Adherents, and all other your Majesty's Enemies whatsoever. And we will enable your Majesty, to
shew your just Resentment of the Affront and Indignity offered to your Majesty and this Nation, by the French King,
in taking upon him to declare the pretended Prince of Wales
King of England, Scotland and Ireland: And we are firmly and unanimously resolved to maintain and support the Succession to the Imperial Crown of this Realm, and the Dominions and Territories thereunto belonging, in the Protestant Line, as the same is settled by an Act declaring the
Rights and Liberties of the Subject, and settling the Succession of the Crown; and farther provided for, by an Act
of the last Parliament, entitled, An Act for the farther Limitation of the Crown, and better securing the Rights and Liberties
of the Subject. And for the better effecting the same, we
will, to the utmost of our power, enable your Majesty to
make good all those Alliances your Majesty has made, or
shall make, pursuant to the Addresses and Advice of your
most dutiful and loyal Commons of the last Parliament, for
the preserving the Liberties of Europe, and reducing the
exorbitant Power of France.
To which his Majesty gave this Answer:
'Gentlemen, I give you my hearty Thanks for this Address, which I look upon as a good Omen for the Session.
The Unanimity with which it passed, adds greatly to the
Satisfaction I receive from it; so good a step at your first
entrance upon Business, cannot but raise the hopes of all who
wish well to England and to the common Cause I can
desire no more of you than to proceed as you have begun;
and I depend upon it: For when I consider how chearfully
and universally you concurred in this Address, I cannot
doubt but every one of you will sincerely endeavour, to
make it effectual in all the Parts of it.'
Treaties laid before the House. ; Vote of Supply. ; Further Resolutions with regard to the Protestant Succession. ; Votes for the Land and Sea Service.
In the mean time, Mr. Secretary Vernon, by Command,
laid before the House Copies of the Treaties of the Grand
Alliance: 1. A Treaty between the King of Denmark and
the States-General, 15 June 1701. 2. Secret Articles of
Treaty with Denmark, 15 June 1701. 3. Treaty between
the Emperor, his Majesty, and the States-General, 7 Sept.
1701. 4. A Convention between the King of England, the
King of Sweden and the States-General, 26 April 1701.
5. A Treaty between the King of England and the StatesGeneral. All which were so well approv'd, that the House
immediately resolv'd, on the 7th of January, That a Supply
be granted to his Majesty. And that whosoever shall advance or lend unto his Majesty's Exchequer, the Sum of
600,000£. for the Service of the Fleet, shall be repaid the
same with Interest at 6 per Cent. out of the first Aids to be
granted this Session. There was 50,000£. added to this Vote
for Guards and Garrisons. They order'd an Account of the
Debts of the Nation unprovided for to be laid before them,
and on Jan. 9, Resolv'd Nemine Contradicente, 'That leave
be given to bring in a Bill for the farther Security of his
Majesty's Person, and the Succession of the Crown in the
Protestant Line, and extinguishing the Hopes of the pretended Prince of Wales, and all other Pretenders, and
their open and secret Abettors.' And on the next Day they
farther resolv'd, 'That an humble Address be presented to
His Majesty, that he will be graciously pleas'd to take care
that it be an Article in the several Treaties of Alliance with
his Majesty and other Potentates, That no Peace shall be
made with France, until his Majesty and the Nation have
Reparation for the great Indignity offered by the French
King, in owning and declaring the pretended Prince of
Wales, King of England, Scotland and Ireland. To
which the King gave a chearful Answer, 'I will take care
of what you desire.' The House agreed at the same time,
That the Proportion of Land-Forces to act in conjunction
with the Forces of the Allies for making good the Alliances,
be forty Thousand Men, and forty Thousand more for SeaService. They proceeded to a Bill for the Attainder of the
pretended Prince of Wales. The Lords were intent upon the
same Measures, and passed a Bill for the Security of his Majesty's Person and Government, and for maintaining the Succession
of the Crown, according to the two late Acts of Parliament, which
they sent down to the Commons, who, after twice reading,
let it lie upon their Table, as thinking their own depending
Bills more effectual; yet the chief of these Bills, that for Security of his Majesty's Person, &c. was likely to have miscarry'd
by an Instruction to the Committee, that they take care that
the Oath in the said Bill mention'd be voluntary. But this
Offer being put to the Question, it pass'd in the Negative.
And on the 22d of January, they gave a much better Instruction to the same Committee, 'That they do take care
to make it equally penal to compass or imagine the Death of
her Royal Highness the Princess Anne of Denmark, as it is
to compass or imagine the Death of the King's eldest Son and
Heir, by the Statute of 25 Edward III.' They also order'd
a Bill to be brought in for continuing the Quaker's Bill, by
which their solemn Affirmation and Declaration should be
accepted instead of an Oath.
On the 3d of February, the House resolved that 350,000£.
be granted to his Majesty for Guards, and Garrisons, and
Half-Pay Officers; as also that an humble Address be presented to his Majesty that he will be pleas'd to interpose with
his Allies, that they may increase their Quota's of LandForces to be put on board the Fleet. His Majesty's Answer
was, ' I will do it.' And upon their Address to employ the
Half-Pay Officers in the new Levies, he was pleas'd to say,
'It was always my Intention.'
The Commons assert their Privileges.
In the controverted Election at Maidston, between Thomas Blisse and Thomas Colepepper, Esqrs; the House of
Commons resolved, 'That the latter had been guilty of corrupt, scandalous and indirect Practices, in endeavouring to
procure himself to be elected a Burgess; and being one of
the Instruments in promoting and presenting the scandalous,
insolent and seditious Petition, commonly called the Kentish
Petition, to the last House of Commons, was guilty of promoting a scandalous, villanous and groundless Reflection
upon the said House of Commons, by aspersing the Members
with receiving French Money, or being in the Interest of
France; for which Offence he should be committed to
Newgate, and his Majesty's Attorney-General should prosecute him for the said Crimes.'
Under this Indignation, they resolved, on February the
26th, That, agreeable to the Opinions of a Committee appointed to consider of the Rights, Liberties and Privileges
of the House of Commons, to assert that the House of Commons is not the only Representative of the Commons of
England, tends to the Subversion of the Rights and Privileges of the House of Commons, and the fundamental Constitution of the Government of this Kingdom. 2d, That to
assert that the House of Commons have no Power of Commitment, but of their own Members, tends to the Subversion
of the Constitution of the House of Commons. 3d, That to
print or publish any Books or Libels reflecting upon the
Proceedings of the House of Commons, or any Member
thereof, for, or relating to his Service therein, is a high
Violation of the Rights and Privileges of the House of
Commons. 4th, That it is the undoubted Right of the People of England, to petition to address to the King for the
calling, sitting or dissolving of Parliaments, and for the redressing of Grievances. 5th, That it the undoubted Right of
every Subject of England, under any Accusation, either by
Impeachment or otherwise, to be brought to a speedy Trial,
in order to be acquitted or condemned.
The 28th, the King sent the following Message to the
King's Message to the Commons for an Union with Scotland.
'His Majesty being hinder'd by an unhappy (fn. 1) Accident
from coming in Person to his Parliament, is pleased to
signify to the House of Commons, by Message, what he designed to have spoken to both Houses from the Throne. His
Majesty, in the first Year of his Reign, did acquaint the
Parliament, that Commissioners were authoris'd in Scotland
to treat with such Commissioners as should be appointed in
England, of proper Terms for uniting the two Kingdoms,
and at the same time express'd his great Desire of such an
Union. His Majesty is fully satisfy'd, that nothing can
more contribute to the present and future Happiness of
England and Scotland, than a firm and entire Union between them, and he cannot but hope that upon a due Consideration of our present Circumstances, there will be found
a general Disposition to this Union. His Majesty would,
esteem it a peculiar Felicity, if, during his Reign, some
happy Expedient for making both Kingdoms one, might
take place; and is therefore extremely desirous that a
Treaty for that Purpose might be set on foot, and does in
the most earnest Manner recommend this Affair to the Consideration of the House.'
The Commons appointed first one, and then another Day, to
consider of this Message, but the Shortness of his Majesty's
Life prevented their coming to any Resolution.
The King seem'd in a fair way of doing well, till on
Sunday the first of March a Defluxion fell upon his Knee,
which was a great Pain and Weakness to him, and taken for
a very ill Symptom: he thought it so himself, and took it
for a Warning for Dispatch of Public Affairs. Therefore
the next Morning this Message was sent from the House of
Peers to the House of Commons.
Message from the Lords.
Mr. Speaker, The King has granted a Commission under
the Great-Seal for passing the Royal Assent to those Bills,
which have been agreed to by both Houses of Parliament,
and the Lords commission'd by the King do desire that
this House would presently come up with their Speaker,
to be present at the passing thereof.
Acts pass'd by Commission. ; The Pretender attainted.
Then the Speaker with the House went up, and the LordKeeper acquainted both Houses, That his Majesty by an unhappy Accident had been prevented from coming in Person,
and had granted a Commission to several Peers for passing the
Bills therein mentioned. The Lords so commission'd were
Sir Nathan Wright Lord-Keeper, the Earl of Pembroke
Lord High-Admiral, the Duke of Devonshire, the Earl of
Carlisle, and the Earl of Jersey, who, March the second,
the Commons being at the Lords-Bar, gave the Royal-Assent
to An Act for Attainting the Pretended Prince of Wales: An Act
for punishing Mutiny and Desertion: An Act for the solemn Affirmation of the People called Quakers, and to some private Acts.
On the 7th of March, the Lord-Keeper went to Kensington
with a Commission to be sign'd by his Majesty for the passing
of the Abjuration-Bill, the Malt-Tax Bill, and what other Bills
were ready for the Royal Assent. Which was done accordingly; being one of the last public Acts of his Majesty's Life.