Thursday, December 19.
Sir John Ernly, Chancellor of the Exchequer, acquainted the
House, That he was commanded by the King to deliver this
Message to them, viz.
"That his Majesty having received Information, that his
late Ambassador in France, Mr Montagu (fn. 1) , a Member of this
House, had held several private Conferences with the Pope's
Nuncio there, has, to the end that he may discover the truth of
the matter, given order for the seizing Mr Montagu's Papers (fn. 2) ."
Serjeant Maynard.] I wish the like proceedings had
been in other cases. Coleman had time to sort his Papers,
and this diligence would have prevented it. I would let
this matter alone awhile. The charge against Mr Montagu, of corresponding with the Pope's Nuncio, borders
upon Treason very near; at least looks that way. (Quicquid necessitas cogit, defendit.) Correspondence of this
nature sometimes may be justifiable.
Sir Thomas Lee.] This is a high charge against your
Member. I would hear your Member in his place. Because he is a Member of the House, he is not exempt
from crimes. I would have Montagu heard what he can
say, in his place.
Mr Vaughan.] His charge is "Correspondence with
the Pope's Nuncio." That may have several interpretations. Possibly he may have had it for the good of the
nation, and possibly to destroy the kingdom. You cannot
do your Member less right, than to hear him. It may be,
he will tell you who else has done it, if he has not.
Sir John Ernly.] I said, "the King was informed that
Montagu had private Conferences with the Pope's
Mr Powle.] No man can defend an Ambassador's
having Correspondences, or Conferences, with the Pope's
Nuncio. Montagu is a Member of Parliament; and it is
an old rule, that, in Treason, no private man, nor Member's person, can be seized, before the accusation be given
in upon oath: If not, any Member may be taken from
Parliament. I would know, whether any legal Information has been given against your Member. This was a
fatal case in the last King's time, of seizing Members and
their Papers. I hope never to see the like again. If a great
Minister has a quarrel against a Gentleman, and one go
and tell the King a story of him to his prejudice, and his
Papers thereupon must be seized, I know not whither
that will go. In the first place, I would be instructed from
Ernly, who brought the Message from the King, &c.
whether there be any legal Information against your
Member? And, if there be not, then you may consider
what to do.
Mr Hampden.] I would have the notice from the King,
by the Honourable Person, written down, as the very
words delivered by him, by the Clerk.
Sir John Ernly.] I know not whether I was fully
heard; but I said, "The King had commanded me to
let you know, that he having received Information from
abroad, that Mr Montagu, his late Ambassador, contrary
to his instructions, had held private Conferences with the
Pope's Nuncio, he had caused his Papers to be seized, to
the end that he may discover the matter."
Sir Thomas Clarges.] I am glad to hear that the Ambassador had instructions not to correspond with the Pope's
Nuncio. I am very glad to hear it indeed. (Jeering.)
Sir William Godolphin, the Spanish Ambassador, is accused
of High Treason by Mr Oates, and yet we hear nothing
of him. Montagu's instructions will appear in the Secretary's minutes. I would have Ernly answer, whether this
Information be upon oath?
Sir John Ernly.] I have told you what the King has
commanded me; but I cannot be free to say farther,
without leave. I do not say "contrary to any instructions,"
but "without any instructions," from his Majesty.
Sir William Coventry.] The whole business will turn
upon this hinge. The Devil is as bad as the broth he is
boiled in, the proverb is. Some of us, it may be, have
sons at Rome, and they have kissed the Pope's toe, and
may be guilty of Treason for that. I would have that
Sir John Ernly.] I have told you the Message, as I received it. The first time, I said, "without instructions,
&c. Montagu had Conference, &c. I say now, "without
any instructions from his Majesty."
Colonel Titus.] If it be "without instructions, &c."
we that have been abroad may be in the danger of Sir
Richard Berling, who went to the Pope for a Cardinal's
cap for the Cardinal of Norfolk, one of the King's subjects. He may be guilty of High Treason, and so may we
all, at this rate, that have been abroad.
Mr Powle.] Correspondence with the Pope's Nuncio,
or his Internuncio, as Coleman had at Brussels, is as much
Treason. I shall acquaint you from Mr Montagu, that
he will deliver all his own Papers himself; else Papers for
his own private defence may be embezzled. He will resign them to any hand this House shall appoint.
Mr Bennet.] If his Papers are seized, Papers may be
put into his Cabinet, as well as taken out, to his great
Mr Powle.] Five or six Gentlemen, from Whitehall,
have seized all the passages to Mr Montagu's house, and
his Lady has sent him a letter of it.
Colonel Birch.] This is a mighty mystery, and the
greatest business I have heard here. I should be very
loth to make a wrong step in it here. I have always
taken it for granted, that no Member's Papers can be
seized. I know not what haste they are in, in this matter, nor where it will end. Forty more Members Papers may be seized, at this rate, and the House garbled;
and then the game is up. You have Information from
Ernly of the thing, &c. and you may have as good Information as this, against another Member. The Kingdom of France is in Secretary Coventry's province; and I
would have Members go to his Office, to search the Minutes for Ambassador Montagu's Instructions, when he
was sent into France.
Sir Thomas Lee.] I would, in this matter, make tender steps. I see there is no harm in making an Address
to the King about it, "That he may let the House
know whether there is any Information upon oath against
Mr Montagu." If there be such Information as the
Law warrants, I would sit down under it; if not, I
would look to our Privileges. I would presently make
application to the King, without delay.
Colonel Titus.] I second the Motion "to address the
King, to know whether the Information against Montagu be upon oath; and next, if it be upon oath, whether that Conference was beyond the sea." If there be
no Information upon oath, then it is a Breach of Privilege.
Sir William Coventry.] If we address the King, to
know whether the Information be upon oath, it will so
turn the thing upon us, that we shall know it. I agree
with Birkenhead, that it is a great fault in an Ambassador, an omission to give the King an account of public
transactions that have passed through his hands. It may
be through forgetfulness; but unpardonable, if the King
calls for it, and the person does not give it. I have
been abroad myself in Popish countries, and may have
conversed with Nuncios. I have had the King's Pardon, and my share in the last Act of Indemnity. An
Ambassador has nothing for his justification, but his Papers; and his neck may go for it, if he has not his Papers to justify himself. I should be loth to have my
Papers seized, though but for matter of reputation. I
had rather have my shirt, than my Papers, taken from
me. Montagu desires only sorting of his Papers, and
that he may mark them, and he will deliver them to
such as you shall approve of, and that he may mark
them, and set them in order, to make his defence the
better. Otherwise any Minister, employed in foreign
Negotiations, is in a desperate condition.
Mr Powle.] I would not do the second thing before
the first. I would not have his Papers tumbled and
tossed about, before you know whether the Information
against him be upon oath. The Ministers heretofore answered for ill actions in the Government, but now they
put them all upon the King. I pursue the first Motion, "to send to the King, to know whether the Information be upon oath, &c." And when you have this
answer, then to consider whether the Papers shall be
seized. Else you give up your rights to fatal consequence.
Mr Vaughan.] If Papers are seized at this rate, a
great many of your Members Papers may be seized, because some men are guilty of High Treason.
The Speaker.] The thing is of great moment, and
the King has told you why he has caused the Papers to
be seized; and Montagu has told you, "He has received
a letter from his Lady, that his house is guarded, &c."
but they are not to be seized till Montagu comes to his
house to sort the Papers. You concern not yourselves
in matters of State, but matters of Privilege. Till you
know that his charge is not upon oath, you ought to
believe that the matter is upon oath. It is a nice thing,
and I know the stress and consequence of it. It may be,
I know the thing and matter of it. And if no-body is
more capable to advise than myself, I would have you
expect the issue.
Mr Powle.] What I moved is, because the thing yet
is in possibility of recall. It is plain that his Papers are
sent to be seized. The Rights and Privileges of Parliament are the greatest strength and security of the King
and the nation. I think it a very dutiful way to know
what the thing is. Therefore you cannot go a better
than to send to the King, &c. before we rise.
Mr Williams.] If you adjourn, you submit your Privilege to the King's pleasure. I cannot give my opinion,
whether it is a breach of Privilege, or not, till you have
the thing entirely before you. I would know what this
Information is against your Member. I know, by the
Law of England, there is no distinction of State-Treason,
Felony, or Breach of the Peace, against which there is no
Privilege. It is not every Breach of the Peace that a
Member may be seized upon, &c. where there is no
more required than security, &c.—And he ought to have
the Privilege of an Englishman. He that will be ridden
shall be ridden. Therefore I would address, &c.
Sir Robert Howard.] The Pope's Nuncio is no other
than Ambassador. It is the same thing with Legate a
latere. Suppose you go to the King, and say, "What is it
you know of Montagu?" That is too early, and yet your
Member has his house seized—In this there is difficulty
every way. It seems, a reference is made by Montagu to
see whether the charge be true in his Papers. Shall your
Member forbear, and give up his Papers? That you
will not do. Your Member has offered to give up his
Papers, and to mark them, that they may be no injury
to him. Therefore I would have some of your Members
accompany Montagu, that he may sort his Papers.
Colonel Titus.] If the Information be upon oath, and
it be neither Felony, Treason, nor Breach of the Peace,
your Privilege is violated. With this Message moved
for, I would have another, viz. "Of what nature this
Conference with the Pope's Nuncio was."
Sir John Knight.] Conferences have been held at Whitehall with Father Patrick, and Father Howard, and other
Priests. I would have that enquired into likewise.
Sir Thomas Meres.] Whoever has had private Conference with the Pope's Nuncio, now in the Tower, I
would seize all their Papers, one and all—of whom I will
tell you to-morrow; some of their Papers, upon what I
say, will be laid aside. Let it go where it will; let the
subject-matter against Montagu be seen, if proved true;
that this may not be a Precedent upon this House for
the future. I would therefore beseech the King to suspend any farther proceeding upon Montagu, till this
House be satisfied whether the Information be given upon
oath; and whether the subject of that Conference was
Sir William Coventry.] I am against the whole thing;
either sending to the King to know what the crimes are,
or whether upon oath. I believe there are persons that
put the King upon this (as I believe it done by advice)
and I believe it is not Treason he is charged with, because
they have not seized Mr Montagu's Person, as well as
his Papers, which was the properest thing to be done.
He may be guilty, he may be innocent; possibly the
thing will be put farther. But to take away his armour
that must defend him, a little thrust will destroy him.
The very Law gives him his Papers for his defence, to
justify himself by, not only for his Commissions but Omissions. His Papers to be delivered out of his hands
clearly away, is a very dangerous thing. I would be
glad to hear something from the Gentleman (Montagu)
himself. It has been proposed, "that some of the Members may go with him to sort his Papers." If there be
any Papers relating to the Pope's Nuncio, they may be
copied out, and Montagu may keep the originals and the
rest of the Papers.
Sir John Ernly.] The Gentleman (Montagu) knows
something of the nature. In all these cases there are
warrants of the same nature. You may send for the
warrant, and you will find these Papers are to be seized
before reasonable Evidence, and that the Papers be so
scheduled, as that the Gentleman may have no prejudice.
Sir Thomas Lee.] The Papers being seized by the
King's warrant, may be looked upon as in the King's actual possession. By the King's Order so much appears,
that persons are at Montagu's house, &c. This is your
tenderness to them that have advised the King to this,
or some others, that may hereafter, that you may avoid all
occasion of offence. You are told of a Conference with
the Pope's Nuncio, that he has had. Therefore the Papers
were ordered to be seized, to know the truth of the matter Then it seems, those Papers are seized to see whether
those Informations are Treason, or no; therefore in this
you go the most moderate way. The consequence will
be, you will see your Member tryed, and sit still till it be
done; and no matter how soon you see Montagu guilty or
not guilty. And so there will be nothing upon your
Books to hurt Parliaments in eternal consequence. Therefore I would have this Message sent to the King, to prevent declaring what your Privileges are in this matter.
Mr Powle.] You are past that consideration. Now
the Question is, whether you will go with this second
part—It is not so decent to go often to the King. You
are not yet ripe to desire the King to desist proceeding,
for you know not what the thing is yet, and that may be
quickly done, when you know.
Mr Harbord was sent to Mr Montagu's house to inform the
House of the Proceedings, &c. who gave this account: "That,
by Order of Council, Montagu's Cabinets were seized, but
were not to be opened till Montagu was present. And that they
were taken away, and set in a chamber near the Councilchamber."
Mr Montagu.] I believe, that the seizing my Cabinets
and Papers was to get into their hands some Letters of
great consequence, that I have to produce, of the designs
of a Great Minister of State (fn. 3) .
Mr Harbord.] This has been intended three or four
days, but, I believe, they have missed of their aims; and
I would not for 40,000l. they had those Papers. And,
freely, this was my great inducement to stir so much to
make Mr Montagu a Member of this House (fn. 4) . In due
time you will see what those Papers are. They will open
your eyes, and though too late to cure the evil, yet they
will tell you who to proceed against, as the authors of
our misfortunes. I desire that some persons of honour
and worth may be present at the opening these Cabinets,
lest some of these Letters should be there. For they are
of the greatest consequence that ever you saw.
Mr Bennet.] The sum the Gentleman speaks of,
40,000l. is a great deal of money. But pray let these
Papers be forth-coming for your use. As for the Breach
of our Privileges, &c. this thing was thrown in to blind
us. I know my share of transactions too, and you shall
in time know of it.
Sir Gilbert Gerrard.] This business is of great consequence, and I hope may save us. I would address the
King, "That these Cabinets may not be opened, but
may be produced here to-morrow, that we may proceed
Colonel Titus.] To seize Papers thus is very illegal.
Any man's may be seized at this rate. I look upon this as
one of the wisest actions the Ministers have done. Were
I one of them, right or wrong I would have seized Montagu's Papers. I second the Motion, "That the Papers,
&c. may be produced here to-morrow." And then I
believe you will see why those Papers were seized at
Sir Nicholas Carew.] I would sit on, and let the Papers in Montagu's hands be brought now, and if they
concern any man, under his Majesty himself, I would
prosecute the thing now. I know not whether we shall
be here to-morrow morning, or no. It may be, we shall
be all clapped up by to-morrow. Let Montagu therefore
be commanded to bring in his Papers now, before you
Sir John Lowther
(fn. 5) .] For ought I know, Montagu may
be served as Sir Edmundbury Godfrey was; therefore I
would not have him go out of the House for the Papers.
He knows by what practices these negotiations with
France have been done. I am of opinion that we shall not
sit here to-morrow. I move therefore "to have the Papers sent for now."
Sir Henry Capel.] I second that Motion. We know
what practices have been in the late times, &c. how
Papers of Members have been seized. The King has
power on his subjects, but it is according to Law. I
wondered at the proceeding of the Sheriff of Northamptonshire at this Gentleman (Montagu's) Election (fn. 6) ; but
now it is all out; we know the reason of it—He may
give us much light into transactions. Lowther has awakened you with the case of Godfrey, which is of great
importance. I know not what may become of us tomorrow; therefore I would have Montagu's Papers
Lord Cavendish.] I believe, it will appear by those
Papers, that the War with France was pretended, for the
sake of an Army, and that a great man carried on the interest of an Army and Popery; and Montagu gives you
the convenience of this discovery. I move therefore,
"That he bring the Papers in as soon as can be."
Colonel Titus.] I suppose Montagu has those Papers
in his custody; else neither he nor his friends would have
informed you of them. I would therefore have some
Members go with him to fetch them.
Lord Russel.] Montagu has imparted some of the contents of those Papers to me; and I was required by him
not to impart them to any body; but now it is no secret.
Montagu cannot come at the originals, for the present,
but he has a copy of them.
Mr Harbord and some others were ordered (Mr Montagu
having acquainted the House that he had [in his custody] some
Papers which concern the Peace of the Government) to receive
directions from Mr Montagu where to find those Papers.
The House sat till the Gentlemen returned with Mr Montagu's
Mr Harbord reported, That they had repaired to the place
where Mr Montagu directed them, and had brought the Box of
Papers which Mr Montagu mentioned; but that the key is carried
to Whitehall, locked up in the Cabinets; and that they have sent
for a smith to break it open.
Mr Montagu went up to sort the Papers.
Mr Montagu] I am sorry that so great a Minister has
brought this guilt upon himself. It was my intention
(making reflections upon your apprehension of a standing Army) to have acquainted Mr Secretary Coventry
with the Papers. I will now only tell you, that the King
has been as much deluded as the Dutch or Spain; and
you have been deluded too by this great Minister. This
I should not have done, out of duty and respect to the
King, but by command of the House.
[The Box being ordered to be opened,] Mr Montagu [selected
and] presented to the House two Letters (fn. 7) , which were read [by
the Speaker,] the one dated [January 16, 1677–8; the other,]
March 25, 1678. The principal matter therein is contained in
these words: "In case the conditions of Peace shall be accepted,
the King expects to have six millions of livres [300,000l.]
yearly, for three years, from the time that this agreement
shall be signed between his Majesty and the King of France;
because it will be two or three years before he can hope to
find his Parliament in humour to give him supplies, after your
having made any Peace with France, &c."
"To the Secretary you must not mention one syllable of the
money (fn. 7) ."
[At the bottom of this Letter were these words: "This
Letter is writ by my Order. C. R."]
Mr Bennet.] I wonder the House sits so silent when
they see themselves sold for six millions of livres to the
French. Some things come home to Treason in construction. I would have the Lawyers tell you, whether this
you have heard be not worthy impeaching the Treasurer
of Treason. Now we see who has played all this game;
who has repeated all the sharp Answers to our Addresses,
and raised an Army for no War. You know now who
passes by the Secretaries of State. I would impeach the
Treasurer of High Treason.
Mr Williams.] Will any Member aver this to be the
Mr Montagu.] I conceive it to be the Treasurer's hand.
I have had several Letters from him of the same hand.
Mr Williams.] If this be his Letter, there cannot be a
more constructive Treason than is contained in it. You
have heard of Religion and Property apprehended in danger, in several speeches. But when your Laws are contemned by a Great Minister, and they miscarry and are
laid dead—(A great cry of the House, "Name him, name
him.") The Letters name the person sufficiently. Nothing ought to be imputed to the King—But this man,
unless he clears himself upon some body else, must take
this crime upon him. This project of Peace is what you
have prophesied all along. This agrees with Coleman's
Letters, this great engine Money. Now when this great
person is on this point to make Parliaments useless, it is
Treason. And the Parliament may declare a Treason,
without making any. For any Minister to destroy a confederacy, and to make the King a Pensioner to France,
I would impeach him of Treason.
Mr Harbord.] I hope now Gentlemens eyes are open,
by the design on foot to destroy the Government and our
Liberties. I believe, if the House will command Mr
Montagu, he will tell you more now. But I would not
press it now upon him, because poisoning and stabbing
are in use. Therefore I would not examine him farther
now, but let him reserve himself till the matter comes to
Tryal before the Lords. As to the danger of the King's
person, there is something much more extraordinary. But
I will not name him yet—The thing has taken wind—
A witness has been taken off with 300l. and denies his
hand. I protest, I am afraid that the King will be murdered every night. A Peer, and an intimate of this
Earl's, said, "There would be a change in the Government in a year." He has poisons both liquid and in
powders—But I would ask Montagu no more questions
now, but have an Impeachment drawn up, and I doubt
not but this great man will have condign punishment,
when the matter comes before the Lords.
Sir Henry Goodrick.] We now come upon Impeachment of a noble Peer, who deserves well of the nation,
and, I assure you, has promoted the Protestant Religion,
and has honour for the Government. I put Harbord upon
it, that all the Evidence against him may be produced,
and make it out who converses with this Nobleman,
that has "the poisons" he mentions. For the King's security, I would have the persons named.
Mr Bennet.] I accuse my Lord Treasurer of High
Treason, and I will bring other matters against him.
Sir John Hanmer.] The King's life is concerned, and I
cannot sit still when I hear "poison" spoken of. I would
find "this poisoner" out; else he betrays the nation and
Mr Harbord.] If you please, I will tell Mr Secretary
Coventry who it is; but I assure you, it is told the King
Sir John Knight.] This Army was raised for a French
War, and so many hundred thousand pounds given for
that purpose, and yet we had no War! Money given to
disband the Army, and that not done! The Popish Plot
discovered at that time! And all runs parallel. Take
such evil Counsellors from the King, that have done
these things, and he, and his posterity, and we all shall
flourish; else we shall be destroyed. I move for Impeachment, &c.
Sir Thomas Higgins.] So great a Minister of the King's
to be impeached!—I desire to see better reasons than yet
have been offered, before he be impeached. One thing
is objected against him, "His treating of Peace with
the King of France." It seems, by the Letter, that the
conditions were for an honourable Peace, and why should
any man be ashamed of it? For it is a very ordinary
thing for Kings to get money from one another, as in
E. IV's and H. VII's time, and there is no ground of
this accusation of Treason against this Lord. Another
thing that concerns the safety of the King's Person—"A
friend of this Lord's that has poisons." This concerns us all. Let us not go out of the House till this person be known.
Sir John Birkenhead.] If this be Treason, this Letter
has been concealed since March, and that is Misprision of
Treason. I tremble that the person should be concealed.
I would have this Lord named.
(fn. 9) .] I am not so much for naming him
now, for the Gentleman tells you, "The King has had
notice of it, and he has been named to the King."
Lord Cavendish.] Will you publish this, when so many
friends of my Lord Treasurer's are present that may discover it? For the sake of the King I would not, but I
move, that the Secret Committee may enquire into it.
Mr Powle.] What my opinion is of this great Lord
is no news to you, so that what I shall say is not out of
malice or revenge. I am no accuser of him, but I desire
that what he is accused of may be fairly debated, and not
diverted by what is moved about "revealing the poisoning, &c." One crime against this Lord is, encroaching
upon Royal Power. When one, two, or three Counsellors
undertake the management of all affairs, without communicating them to the rest of the Lords of the Council,
it was the Treason of the Spencers, and the Duke of Ireland, in R. II's time. And then in the Parliament of
those times it was so adjudged. Now whether this person who forbids Montagu to reveal this, and concealing
it from the Secretaries, and by consequence from the
Lords of the Council; now whether these private advices are not the cause of your ruin, that you have been
so near and are still in danger of, [is the Question.] Now
there is a Treaty with a foreign Prince for Peace, whilst
the Parliament was giving Money for an actual War with
that Prince; and a Treaty, for which he makes a bargain for six millions of livres yearly. Now consider
whether that could be for our advantage, and the French
King pay so dear for it, and concludes, that this Money
was, "That the King might not meet the Parliament in
two or three years." Now they must desert this War;
and pray consider what use this Money must be for. I
would have the Long Robe tell you what they think of
it. I know what I think of it.
Sir Edmund Jennings.] As to the matter in the Lord
Treasurer's Letter, thus I will state the Question: "Whether there be matter in that Letter to ground an Impeachment against this Lord." As to the other thing, "of
poisoning," the King's Person is so nearly concerned, that
I would have the person known for the King's sake, and
all our own sakes. If not, then let us adjourn.
Mr Harbord.] If I was not well satisfied that the King
had known of it, I would have found means to acquaint
the King. But the design of moving this is to divert the
Question. The design I had, in not naming the person,
was, that it might be impossible for the person to avoid
being taken off, since the King knows it already, and
a Member knows the thing, and I have seen the things.
But the party fell off from his Evidence. The King
knows it, and if you will know him too, I am not afraid
to name him. He had the poison, and tryed it upon
dogs with good success. The first thing I said was,
"Does the King know of it?" He told me "he did, and
he had been offered a sum of money to conceal it." There
has been 200,000l. in thirteen months paid out of the
Exchequer, for secret service; and vast sums of money
diverted out of the course of payment in the Exchequer.
Lord Cavendish.] This can be no secret. The Treasurer having so many friends here—Interrupted by Goodrick.
Colonel Titus] I find it a hard matter, and very dangerous, to accuse a Treasurer. The righteous or unrighteous Mammon makes friends. There has been
197,000l. issued out of the 200,000l. we gave, by
one person that is a Member. This Lord had once an
Impeachment against him upon an illegal Patent (fn. 10) .
First, we could get no Witnesses, &c. And all we got
by it; was to vote, "That this Patent was not illegal."
Never any thing prospered in his Ministry. There is
not a penny of Money in the Exchequer, and I am sure
he is Treasurer. Now whether this Lord, with the interest of France; has not carried on his own? When the
King of Spain was in the circumstances the King of
France now is, if Walsingham and Burleigh, instead of
supporting H. IV. of France, had supported the League,
and made the King of Spain greater than he was, (who
was ten times too great for us,) had not they been good
Counsellors for Philip II. and ill Counsellors for Queen
Elizabeth? It was said by Philip de Comines, "That all
King Lewis of France's Ministers did ride upon one horse."
Now we were told of "a War," and "an actual War
with France," an Army was raised for it, and a shameful
Peace made up with France. And the Lord Treasurer
thinks he deserves six millions of livres for doing it; and
so no occasion for the Parliament to meet in three years.
The Lord Treasurer, it seems, was of one opinion; the
Parliament and the Law of another. His crime is great,
and tends to the subversion of the nation, and so it is,
when the King shall have no Parliaments. Some fear
the Treasurer, and some love him; I do neither, and
would impeach him.
Sir John Ernly.] Titus tells you, "That nothing has
prospered under the Lord Treasurer's Ministry." He has
paid, I am sure, a great part of the debt of two millions
upon the Exchequer. As for his Ministry, pray God
send we have no worse French Counsellors! And if we
had had War then, God knows what would have become
of us. If this Lord has hatched these Counsels, France is
hot for him. But I am the most mistaken, if he has not
been opposite to France. Now for the Letter that speaks
of the Money; if it had been ten times as much, I could
have wished it with France. As for the Peace, it was
made by the Confederates, and not the King. The Confederates have, all along, importuned the King not to lay
aside the Army, for all Flanders would be lost. I am as
little for an Army as any man; and am for having it
disbanded, if the King had Money to pay them off.
Does not this Letter come by way of recrimination?
It is necessary to see Mr Montagu's Answer to this Letter. I would have the Lawyers debate it, before you
come to this matter as a charge against this Lord, barely
given you by recrimination. The King's safety is concerned—And I desire, that the person that should have
poisoned him, may be named. You cannot absolve yourselves from it.
Mr Charles Bertie
*.] I affirm that my Lord Treasurer
paid 600,000l. of old arrears out of the Exchequer.
And I appeal to the Speaker's Office in the Navy. So in
this he has not squandered the Treasury in secret service.
Mr Montagu.] My Lord Treasurer has my Answer to
his Letter. And let him, if he please, produce a copy of
that Letter, and you will find, that if my advice had
been followed, the Army had not been raised, and a better
Peace made. And I aver, that the French King offered our
King some money, and more towns, than when we were
in conjunction with France. "I find my Lord Treasurer
has so much the sweet of being Treasurer of England,
that he would be Treasurer of France too." This the
King of France said, and so would treat no longer. I
was for Peace, because I saw no intention of our Ministers for War, and so would have had no Army. I
brought the conditions so far as that the French should
deliver Valenciennes and Conde to the Spaniards; far better
conditions than now they have; but after the Army was
raised, they were for Peace. If I have done ill in this,
impeach me for it.
In the other Letter which was read, subscribed "Danby,"
were the following passages.
"Your intelligence concerning Mons. Rouvigny has not been
the least of your favours.—For my part, I will contribute to the
friendship of the two Kings. We depend upon an Adjournment
of thirteen days, to see if there can be any expedient for the
Peace in that time. And the effect of that Adjournment has
been, that every body apprehended Peace, &c."
Youngest brother to the Earl of Lindsey.
(fn. 11) .] Montagu, in his discourse in France,
has given the nation great discommendations. I have
heard him say, "the House of Commons had a company
of logger-heads and boobies in it"—For what my father
is accused of, if proved, I would not spare him nor pardon him more than the greatest rascal that had done me
the most injury.
Mr Peregrine Bertie.] Put the Question first, about
"poisoning the King."
Sir Henry Capel.] I have no Article against any man,
but only from my observations of the Government. We
have sat here all seasons of the year to no purpose. I
have something to say, let it fall where it will; and I
will serve no man here, but my King and my country.
We that are of common understanding, know not foreign
notions, nor mysteries of State at home. If Religion, the
Government, and Property be safe, we sit down and enjoy what we have, and thank God for it. If foreign negotiations have been prosperous, let it be spoken of.
Has the Protestant Religion gone forward? I would
gladly know, whether the Exchequer is in so good order
as we have been told. I know what sums we have given;
but if it be not in such order, are we to sit still? Does not
France increase upon us? We were no sooner got out of
the War with Holland, but assistances of men were sent
into France to greaten the French King—We can get no
Bills of Popery passed. These last four or five years, we
have had nothing but Prorogations and Adjournments of
the Parliament, without doing any thing to purpose. If
we had lived well with this great man, and not made the
Vote the last Session, "That till the Tax, &c. be expired, and the Protestant Religion secured, and ill Ministers,
&c. removed, we could give no more Money, &c." But
the King has been persuaded that a Prince must depend
upon a party, and he is told that we proceed as in 1641
and 1642. If this Gentleman (Danby) would then have
relieved us, I said, save him, the last Session; but I cannot trust this Gentleman, though I would supply the
King. Is any thing more clear than the concurrence of
the Letters, that have been produced you (by Montagu)
with Coleman's Papers? This Minister has let the French
King grow upon us, and let our King take Money from
him, to lay aside his people; this has been Danby's
advice. If the Gentlemen of the Long Robe will say this
is Treason, I say so too, and shall think this a ground
to impeach him.
Mr Sollicitor Winnington.] Before I meddle with the
Treasurer's Letters, I will speak to the point of declaratory Treason. I have a wife and children, and some
estate, and loyalty to my Prince, and I hope to leave it
to my posterity. In this matter I shall deliver my opinion,
and I fear no man alive, let it fall where it will. By 25
E. III. declaratory Treason is only in Parliament, where
those things shall be declared Treason, for the Judges to
proceed upon, and no other. I will put you a familiar example—The killing of John Imperial, the Genoa Ambassador, was declared Treason. It was Treason at Common Law before, but after that Statute they had recourse
to Parliament for the same crime, and they declared it
so. It has been the wisdom of Parliament to keep the
power of declaring Treason in themselves, to bridle great
men, who, by friendship and authority, may avoid Justice. Since I came into this House, which is about three
years since, I have been present at several Addresses, &c.
and I would not show unkindness, in the post I am in, to
my superior Officer. If a Member does undertake to
prove an Article, &c. though it be but probable, it is a
ground for a Grand Jury to find the Bill, (and in Impeachments you are of that nature,) but the judgment is
still in the Lords." If any subject impeach any man, it is
our duty to receive it, as a Grand Jury. But Gentlemen
put a hard thing on the Long kebe, in this case. The
Treasurer, in his Letters to Mr Montagu, says, "He must
not communicate it to the Secretary of State. He must
not know of the six millions of livres yearly, &c. that so
there may be no need of a Parliament." If this be given as
a case to a Lawyer, and if this be to destroy Parliament,
and the fundamental Laws of the Kingdom; if there be
concomitant Evidence that the thing was done ed intentione; if you have power of declaratory Treason, and
do not declare this to be Treason, you will declare nothing.
I have heard Montagu say he has more Letters to produce.
Suppose you should vote not to impeach the Treasurer
upon these Letters; the common people will say, "Have
not the House impeached him?" How can any Member look the world in the face? sinding that this is in
order to Tryal, and in order to Impeachment. The
Lord Treasurer is my superior, but if you pass by this,
you may have more such Letters and such practices.
There have been other matters alleged against this Lord,
as diverting the Money, &c. from the usual course of
payment in the Exchequer, &c. This is but a small matter in comparison of Treason; but such as have done these
things, the Parliament has either broken their backs, or
they have ran for it. As for giving Money to Members,
to vote in this House, he will have the shame of it, and
I hope it will be seen by the Vote this night, that no man
has received any Money. Certainly these things are not
so mean as to be put off. Without probable Evidence,
you have no ground of accusation. As for conviction,
that is to be done in another place. And I am for impeaching him.
Mr Sacheverell.] I have observed the Debate; and I
take notice that no fault is found out that it is too forward. No man denies these Letters to be the Treasurer's,
and yet Gentlemen say, "There is no matter of charge
in them against him." I have not been a man much for
shifting hands in the Ministry: I see all that come after
are as bad as those that went before. By way of defence
of the Treasurer, it is said, "That he found much debt
upon the Crown, and has paid off a great deal." It is
true—But there was 1,250,000l. granted to the King,
&c. before he came in to be Treasurer, but he received
a great share of it. I would not now charge him singly
upon these Letters, but upon the whole pursuance of
the thing; he shows you, that, as the rest of the Ministers
have done great kindnesses to France, he will do nothing
to break that friendship. When we had given a great
sum of Money for a War with France, then he takes
Coleman's way. And it was a great sum of Money for
England to pay. I told you a story of H. VII, &c. the
last Session, &c. Give Money hastily and no War, and
there will be no need of a Parliament.—This is the only
difference; Pensions are not now matter of Record. It
seems by the Treasurer's Letter, that it is the King's ease
to have no Parliament. Hereafter let us keep our purses,
and we shall have good Ministers in time. And let us
remember we shall not then have Ministers to prorogue
us at their pleasure, at the same time that the King was
told that War was necessary; and that he might have
had a better Peace, and an Army was raised, to the great
charge of the nation. Let Gentlemen give their No to
the Impeachment, I will give my Aye to it.
Mr Vaughan.] I envy no man's greatness nor fortune that lessens not his Prince's, &c. From the grounds
of this Letter of the Treasurer on "the 20th of March,"
the King passed an Act for a War with France, and
an Army was raised accordingly. This Letter is dated
"the 25th of March," to stipulate Peace with the French
—And is this matter of recrimination by Montagu, as is
said? You give Money for an actual War, and the Treasurer stipulates for a Peace, and the Ministers make
Peace. The Papists would have a Dissolution of the
Parliament, and these men make it useless—I know very
little difference in it. King John's Ministers made him
a Pensioner to the Pope, and it is as great a crime to
make our King Pensioner to the French King. I am
therefore for impeaching the Treasurer.
The Question being put, That there is matter sufficient in
these Letters, &c. to impeach Thomas Earl of Danby; the previous Question was put and carried, 179 to 116.
The main Question was then carried in the Affirmative, [and
a Committee was appointed to prepare and draw up Articles of
Resolved, That Mr Speaker shall not, at any time, adjourn the
House, without a Question first put, if it be insisted upon. And
that this be entered in the Journal, as a standing Order of the
House. See Vol. V. p. 5, and 122.
Friday, December 20.
Two Letters were produced by Mr Charles Bertie from Mr
Montagu to the Lord Treasurer. One was signed, but the other
not. He said, "he be believed them to his hand and seal (fn. 12) ."
Mr Powle.] You ought to consider that the case of
your Member may be every man's case. The one is
subscribed, and the other not—Under this kind of method, I know not where this may end. To put Montagu upon declaring whether they be his hand, or no, is
to accuse himself. Till you are clear in that Letter not
subscribed, I would not read it.
Sir Edmund Jennings.] If you will observe your own
Precedent, you will read it without a hand to it—You
read one sent out of Cornwall.
The subscribed Letter was read, dated "Paris, Jan. 11 (fn. 13) .
Mr Montagu.] No man doubts but that I have a respect to Lord Russel. But at the same time I wrote
this Letter to the Treasurer, another was written by my
wife to Lady Vaughan to admonish her that Rouvigny
brought no inconvenience upon her husband, Lord Russel.
Sir Henry Capel.] There was no great harm in trusting
Lord Russel with matters relating to France. He may well
be trusted in that.
Sir Thomas Lee.] This Letter is much for your service.
It shows you plainly, that Montagu did you service last
night; for by these Letters produced to-day, Montagu
has done his duty to give the King an account. And
this has fallen out fortunately for this noble Lord.
Lord Russel.] I defy any man alive to charge me with
any dealing with the French. My actions here have
given sufficient testimony to the contrary.
Sir William Hickman.] I cannot agree to entering these
Letters into the Journal, because Lord Russel's name is
used in them; unless, at the same time, you enter his justification.
Sir Robert Howard.] In some Letters we are called,
"The scum of the House;" and in these, "Malecontents."
Mr Bennet.] I hope that Montagu will give the Treasurer thanks for producing this Letter; the greatest
kindness he could do him!
Sir Robert Sawyer.] I would read the Letter; people
may suspect else that it is worse than the other. It is
objected, "That it is not signed." You have read all the
Letters of the Plot unsubscribed; you have allowed that
it is your Member's hand—If you read it not, he may lie
under a great suspicion.
Mr Montagu.] I desire the Letter may be read without a Question.
The Letter was read, viz. "Rouvigny hopes the King so firm
for Peace, that the Treasurer will not lead him into a War with
France—Barillon's business is to get the market as low as he
Sir William Coventry.] I collect by the Letter, that
Montagu informs the Treasurer, "That Rouvigny's journey
was to gain upon Lord Russel, and other Malecontents of
the Court." We are all witnesses for this noble Lord,
of his deportment to the French interest.
Mr Montagu.] An Ambassador's business is to send intelligence, and I sent what I could get.
Sir Thomas Clarges.] The Ambassador was so abused
by that great man, who acted for the French at the Cabal, and spoke against them at his table, that we find the
effects; for at the beginning of March the Secret Council
was held at Lord St Albans's chamber. There goes
a story, that a young fellow, who turns Gipsey, cannot
come before their King unless he speaks their gibberish—
He must cant, else there is no being for him at Court.
Montagu has served the King well, and I would have the
Thanks of the House given him for his great care of the
Sir Charles Wheeler.] It is plain in that Paper, that
the Treasurer did what he could to advance War with
France. Pray read the words of the Letter.
Mr Montagu.] All that Ambassadors write for news,
is not Gospel. I give not these Letters in, as certificates
of the Lord Treasurer's, for other Letters will show the
Sir Richard Temple.] In the latter part of the Letter,
you will find that Montagu is very ready to get you
Money for a Peace.
Mr Powle.] The Treasurer spoke against France at his
table, for his own ostentation. All I can say is, you may
observe who has been the sole manager of affairs—Neither Secretaries of State, nor Lords of the Council. And
reflect, whether they have been well managed by the
Treasurer, whether a real War with France was intended,
and all things to your satisfaction. Then you may know
whether to thank the Treasurer, or impeach him.
Mr Montagu.] I neither desire nor deserve the Thanks
of the House for what I have done, for all was but my
Colonel Titus.] I am very well content that Montagu's
Letters should be printed, as well as those of the Treasurer, and see which will sell best. The King of France
did never deserve such a character from the Treasurer as
he gives him. The King of France did misapprehend
the Treasurer—But what Evidence could he give greater
in this Plot? If the King of France be angry, or think
himself ill used by the Treasurer, he is as ungrateful a
man as ever lived.
Mr Peregrine Bertie.] Titus told me, this morning,
"That what made him so against the Treasurer was, because he paid him not his 4000l. that the King owed
Colonel Titus.] It is true what Bertie has said. And
it is a great instance of the Treasurer's impartiality, that
he serves all men alike. But I do not say he has served
all "women" so. I was a Bed-chamber-man, and of the
Council of the Plantations; and I had 500l. per annum
for each—And on the Treasurer's single authority he
paid me not a farthing.
Sir Thomas Clarges.] Here was Money given for a
War with France, and here is a Peace made, and six millions of livres yearly to be given for it, to prevent the
meeting of the Parliament. This is plainly.
Lord Cavendish.] I was not afraid of the Treasurer for
a War, but to raise an Army to fright the French to give
us a greater sum of Money for a Peace. These Letters,
that the Treasurer has produced, are either to recriminate
upon Montagu, or to justify himself. What Montagu
says in his Letter was intelligence only, what Rouvigny
came into England about. As to that, whether the
Treasurer be a friend to France—We ought rather to go
upon what is under the Treasurer's own hand, than Rouvigny's negotiation, which Montagu gives as intelligence
Colonel Stroud.] I would have Montagu give you an
account of the whole thing, and then he can tell you
who broke the Triple League—He transacted the whole
Sir William Coventry.] It is manifest that the Treasurer relies not upon these Letters for his defence, nor
for any man to make a charge against your Member
upon these Letters. I see it is to no purpose for you to
sit with these Letters in your hands; therefore take so
much consideration of your health, as to adjourn.
Mr Sollicitor Winnington.] We are beholden to the
Lord Treasurer for sending us these Letters, to fortify
you in what you did last night. I know not any
farther use of those Letters, unless you would ask the
Treasurer any questions.
Serjeant Maynard.] The business of the Impeachments
of the Lords in the Tower is now impending. And your
Committee will be streightened in time, and Christmas is
coming on, and then the Term—And whilst you hunt
this one hare, you will lose five.
Mr Powle.] That which gives a tenderness to enter
the Letters into the Journal is, that there is mention
made in Montagu's Letter of Lord Russel to be tampered
with by the Ambassador Rouvigny; so at the same time, if
you enter Lord Russel's justification, we shall all be for
entering the Letters, viz. "That he has had no undue
practice or dealing with Rouvigny, nor any indirect practice
against the King or Kingdom."
Mr Montagu.] My wife and family at Paris were
laughing at Rouvigny's project, of doing France any service by his relation to that noble Lord.
Sir Robert Howard.] To enter a dark paraphrase upon
this noble Lord's actions into the Journal, I am not for
it. The world will talk otherwise of him. I would
Sir William Coventry.] It is pressed that these Letters of
Montagu's should be entered into the Journal. Yesterday the Treasurer's were entered, because we voted an
Impeachment upon it. We are all convinced that Lord
Russel is most remarkable in his affections to the good of
the Nation; and I would now adjourn. But if not, pray
put the Question, "Whether in those Letters that the
Treasurer has produced, there is matter of Impeachment
Mr Swynfin.] The Treasurer, in his Letter to the
Speaker, says, "He has some other Letters to make his
defence;" but only sends you these Letters, and no
manner of intimation that he will send them; but rather
an implication that he will not produce them in his defence. You are not showed what use Gentlemen will
make of these Letters, nor the Lord Treasurer neither.
The best vindication you can make the noble Lord (Russel,) is, slightly to return the Letters from whence they
Sir Robert Sawyer.] By this Letter, you see the French
were in pain for the sitting of the Parliament. This
came from France, and that is my main reason for entering it, that the world may see how the whole series of
affairs has been carried on. Whether you enter them or
not, these Letters will be seen without doors. Therefore,
I would order them to be entered, and adjourn.
Colonel Titus.] These Letters were, doubtless, brought
in, with some design against your Member, (Russel.) It
is plain, that in January last, the Lord Treasurer was
the French King's enemy, and in March he was his friend.
All we here very well understand Lord Russel's character.
—But how after ages may understand it, I know not.
There fore I am against entering the Letters in the
They were not entered.