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phor, he could not have fucceeded better in the choice of an example.
As to his language, if it is not always fo correct as might be expected from the pen of Dr. Smollet; it is not more inaccurate than fuch hafty productions unavoidably must be. We have obferved a few glaring improprieties of expreffion, which we forbear to enumerate, as the Author is able to correct his work, fhould it ever come to a fecond edition.
Nor can we always fubfcribe to the propriety and truth of his reflections. Speaking of the act for executing criminals convicted of murder, he fays it is-" an expedient which, however ineffectual it may appear in theory, hath been found in practice, productive of very falutary confequences." Here we differ from him totally we are of opinion, that it was rather fpecious in theory, but in point of practice it is notorious, that murders have been as frequent fince the act as before.
Upon the whole, however, thefe volumes afford many proofs of the Writer's merit in hiftorical compofition; and, as his acknowleged abilities did not deter us from pointing out the defects in the former volumes, neither do thofe imperfections prejudice us fo far, as to make us blind to the improvements in this Continuation.
[To be continued in our next.]
Debates of the House of Commons, from the Year 1667 to the Year 1694. Collected by the Hon. Anchitel Grey, Efq; who was thirty Years Member for the Town of Derby; Chairman of feveral Committees; and decyphered Coleman's Letters, for the Ufe of the Houfe. In ten Volumes. 8vo. Henry, &c. Vols. V. and VI. See our laft Month's Review.
( Article continued.)
HE farther we proceed in thefe volumes, the more curious and interefting the Debates become, and the greater reason we have to regret that the Editors did not apply themselves to polifh thefe rude materials. We have already taken notice, that the work in many places is uncouth and abrupt; and we find throughout fo little attention paid to fupply the defects, and rectify the inaccuracies of the Compiler, that in fome inftances it is foarce intelligible. To modifh Readers, therefore, who are frangers to ftudy, who read folely with a view to entertainment, and are delighted with a jingle of words forming a well turned
period, this is forbidden matter. But to men who read, in order to think and reflect; who are curious to pry into the grand Arcana of State, and would learn how the bufinels of the world is tranfacted, thefe Debates abound with a choice ftore of information and improvement. They appear, however, to be little more than imperfect notes or outlines, which the Compiler probably intended to digeft and fill up at his leifure. But, imperfect as they are, they open many fecret fprings of action, and explain the progrefs of many private intrigues, which lead us to a more perfect acquaintance with the hiftory of thofe times, than is to be acquired from any other writings now extant.
In the volumes now before us, the thread of minifterial iniquity begins to unravel; and what fome fagacious Patriots had long fufpected, was at length confirmed by unquestionable evidence. The King, by his refidence in France during his exile, became not only fond of French manners, but in love with French government: and if his violent propenfity to luxury and diffipation, had not prevailed over his application to bufinefs, his thirst for arbitrary dominion, might either have renewed the horrors of civil war, or have filently undermined the liberties of the kingdom. Indeed, when we confider how many points of prerogative his unhappy father was willing to refign, when his propofitions were, in vain, voted a good ground for peace, we cannot. but exprefs our amazement, that the nation fhould, neverthelefs, without any limitations or restrictions whatever, reftore the fon; who inherited all his father's arbitrary principles, without being heir to any of his virtues. For want of having the boundaries of prerogative more properly afcertained, the King and his Minifters ufed all their endeavours to reduce the government of this kingdom to the ftandard they fo much admired abroad. Hence the violent contests about prerogative and privilege: hence lixewife, in fome measure, arofe the frequent difputes between the Lords and Commons; for the former having in the laft reign been degraded, and voted useless by the latter, they now became ftrenuous Champions for prerogative; and feemed rather willing to rifk a fplendid slavery under the Crown, than to run the hazard of being once more levelled with the people.
Our Readers may remember, that in our laft article we gave an account of the jealoufy which prevailed, that the money raifed to carry on a war against France, was not seriously intended for that purpofe; and thefe fufpicions were not groundlefs for the fupply was fcarce granted, but a peace was concluded with that kingdom. Nevertheless, to amufe the people, an alliance was fet on foot, and, in feeming compliance with the Commons address, a league offenfive and defenfive was concluded
cluded with Holland: and the Court, without acquainting the Houfe with the terms of the treaty, made this a pretence for de-' firing a farther fupply, which occafioned the following speech.
Mr. Williams.] "If you proceed without farther light into treaties, in doing this you establish the Prerogative by the Commons of England. The queftion is, how far our addreffes have been purfued? We would not be driven into money, but by fair day light. We defire to be fatisfied in this matter of the league offenfive and defenfive, &c. I wish the Gentlemen that know, would declare, whether really we fhall have a war, or no, categorically; and then you may declare your mind. For my part, I cannot believe this to be a war. The repeated counfels we have given, are the fafe counfels of the nation. The King, in his fpeech, is of the fame opinion with us, and ftill here are the fame counfels continued about him. Are we the great Council of England? Have we advifed the lowering of France, and a war with him? And have preparations been made pursuant thereunto? And now, when we defire to fee what is done, we are anfwered; You must not fee, nor hear the treaties, nor what is done.' That is, we have eyes and ears, and must not use them. No doubt, but we have been in fome confederacy, and have been Mediators. In reafon we ought, and may have fatisfaction in these things; and till that be done, I am not for fupply. My jealoufy is, that fhewing the treaty here, will be only for our money; and my fear is, that by giving our money, we fhall have arbitrary power fet up, By comparing things with things, in this very time, I fear it. For when we made thefe addreffes, we had no effectual answer.
-You were of opinion, that you ought to have fatisfaction in the ends of thefe leagues. By law of Parliament, this paper* we are debating, is not a meffage, it is but a writing, from the King; and fuch writings are not obligatory, and perfuading; they are not binding. And God forbid they fhould! If a meffage fhould fway us, merely by being a meffage, the King (by that confequence) muft bear the blame of all the council that advifes him to it. In fhort, whenfoever Kings have called for fupply to fupport treaties, they have always communicated thofer treaties. The prerogative to be impofed upon in fhewing
them,' is not the punctilio, but the fear of fhewing them. If that be established upon us, I fear that more than the money. I would plainly know, whether it must be war or peace. Till then, I can give no vote for money."
*The paper was an answer to the Commons address, prefented to the Houfe by the Secretary of State.
Though we cannot applaud the elegance of this fpeech, yet it fpeaks the language of freedom and good fenfe. Certainly nothing could be more abfurd, than to make the merit of having concluded a treaty, a ground for a fupply, and yet at the fame time with-hold the particulars of that treaty. Nay, we might fay farther, if the Parliament is the great Council of England, they ought to have been previously advised with, about the terms of the treaty; for, as advice can only be given concerning fome act to be hereafter executed, it is an abfolute contradiction in terms, to lay an inftrument before them, as the great Council, which has been already executed. This is one of thofe State forms which fhock common fenfe.
Nevertheless, the Courtiers, who at all times are ready to juftify any meafures, oppofed the fhewing of this treaty, by the following fervile and inconclufive arguments.
Sir George Downing.] - "Here is a jealoufy, as if the King had pawned the nation to the Hollanders, and a treaty that England is bound to make it good. It is a great thing infifted on, to fhew the treaty.-Let any man fhew what right the Commons have to demand a fight of it from the King. The Commons have been fhewed treaties, and have advised the King upon them; but not at their demand, as a right from the Commons. If it be their right, I will give no money till that is done. Is it then convenient to be fhewed us? He that says it is convenient, must have seen the treaty, and no man can fay fo. I must think it not convenient, when the King does not fhew it us. The King is our life, and the breath of our nof trils. I can never expect unanimity in the nation, when the Houfe of Commons are not unanimous, now, when the prayers and tears of the nation are for it.-But I will give money blindfold to the King on this occafion, wherein lies his trust, and we have not a right to demand a fight of these treaties. Suppofe the King fhould grant you a fight of them, and have all his councils difcovered-I think the King has gone fairly and overtly with us.-But will you give no money without the Sine qua non ?"
It is to be wifhed, that all fuch bafe and abject Adulators, were really in the ftate which this Sycophant has describedThat is, that they held their lives, and drew the breath of their noftrils, fubject to the will and pleafure of a capricious and arbitrary mortal: for fuch wretches do not deferve the care of heaven!
The jealoufies which the Commons very justly entertained against the Administration, rose to such a violent degree, that
they broke out upon every trivial occafion, as may appear from the fubject of the enfuing debate.
Sir John Coventry.] "Complains that his Footman's head was broke by one of Sir Charles Wheeler's Captains. He added, I fpeak for the privilege of all the Commons of England; and, for ought I know, thefe men are raised for an imaginary war. These red coats may fight against Magna Charta."
Mr. Mallet.] "This Gentleman was once affaulted in his perfon, and now he is in his fervant. I would have it enquired into."
Sir Edmond Wyndham, Knight Marfhal.] "Takes exception at Coventry's words, of an imaginary war,' and would have them explained."
Sir Nicholas Carew.] "We have Soldiers in England now, and they were raised to be fent abroad, and they are kept here: there is an explanation for you."
Mr. Williams.] "Drums ought not to beat here, and red coats to be about the Parliament, in terrorem populi."
Sir Robert Carr.] "Thefe Soldiers were raifed by your advice, and I hope you will give them leave to march upon their duties, and come to Westminster-Hall, to take the tefts appointed by act of parliament."
Sir Thomas, Clarges.] "It is the ancient law of Parliament, that armed men fhould not be about, nor near the Parliament, in terrorem populi, to disturb your Members in their attendance; and I move to have the matter inquired into, and that you would justify your privileges."
Mr. Williams.] "Marshall law has no place but when Westminster-Hall is fhut up, and the King's writs cannot have their free courfe."
Sir William Coventry.] Since the Captain on one fide is of a good family, and the information is of a Member's fervant, on the other, being beaten, I would have the matter examined."
Sir John Coventry.] "My fervant is at the door to juftify the thing; and if you will have fuch Captains in employment, you may.
Sir Philip Harcourt.] "Your Member's affirmation is fufficient it is conviction enough. Coventry faid, He was going to do his duty in Parliament, and therefore the Captain broke his man's head.' I wonder the Speaker is fo flow in doing his duty. I would have Coventry's man called in."