John Locke.

The works of John Locke (Volume 9) online

. (page 18 of 51)
Online LibraryJohn LockeThe works of John Locke (Volume 9) → online text (page 18 of 51)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

pi the ad of uniformity, and did take and fubfcribe the following oath :
** I A. B. do fvvear, that it is not lawful upon any pretence whatfocver
** to take arms againft the king : and that 1 do abhor that trairor-
** ous pofition of taking arms by his authority againft his perfon,
♦* or againft thofe that are commifTioned by him, in purfuance of
'* fuch commilFions; and that I will not at any time endeavour
** any alteration of government, either in church or uate.'*

± Anthony Afhley-Cooper, afterwards carl of Shaftflury.

-04 ^ Letter from a T erf on of ^lality.

fed that oath on the whole nation. And the previa
dencc, by which it was thrown out, was very remark-
able ; for Mr. Pcrej^rine Bertie, being newly choftn,
was that morninp; introduced into the houfc by his bro-
ther the now tarl of Lindfey, and lir Thomas Ofborn*,
now lord trcafurcr, who all three gave their votes
againft that bill ; and the numbers were fo even upon
the divifion, that their three votes carried the queflion
againfl it. But we owe that ri^ht to the earl of Lindfey,
and the lord trcafurcr, as to acknowledge that they have
fincc made ample fatisfadion for whatever offence they
gave either the church or court in that vote.

Thus our church became triumphant, and continued'
fo for divers years; the dilfenting proteftant being the
only enemy, and therefore only perfecutcd ,• whilft the
papifts remrtincd undiflurbcd, being by the court thought
loyal, and by our great bilhops not dangerous ; they
differing only in doctrine and fundamentals; but, as to
the government of the church, that was, in their reli-
gion, in its higheft exaltation.

This dominion continued unto them, until the lord
Clifford, a man of a daring and ambitious fpirit, made
his way to the chief minilUy of affairs by other and far
different meafurcs ; and took the opportunity of the
war with Holland, the king was then engaged in, to
propofe the declaration of indulgcncet, that the dif-
lenters of all forts, as well proteftants as papiffs, might
be at reff, and fo a vaft number of people not be
made dcfperate at home, while the king was engaged
w ith fo potent an enemy abroad. This was no fooner
propofcd, but the earl of Shaftfl^ury, a man as daring,
but more able, (though of principles and intereft dia-
tnctrically oppofitc to the other) prefently clofed with
it; a'ld perhaps the opportunity I have had, by my
converfation with them both ; who were men of di^
vcrfion, and of free and open difcourfcs where they

• Sir Thomns 0(T)om, created afterwards lioron of Kivcton ami vif-
count I nrimcr. in 1673; f^Jtl f>f I^anhy, in 1674; marquis of Cacr-
aunhcn, in i6Kq; .ind duke of I cctls, in 1604.

i I hat declaration bcrc diiic, March 17, 16; 1-2.

9 had

A tetter from a Per/on of ^ialiiy. ^05

had a Confidence; may give you more light into both
their defigns, and fo by confequence the aims of their
parties, than you will have from any other hand.

My lord Clifford did in exprcfs terms tell me one
day in private difcourfc: '' That the king, if he would
^^ be firm to himfelf, might fettle what religion he
*' pleafed, and carry the government to what height he
*' would. For if men were alFured in the liberty of
*' their confcience, and undifturbed in their properties,
*^ able and upright judges made in Weftminder-hall,
^' to judge the caufes of meum and ruum ; and if, on the
** other hand, the fort of Tilbury was finifhed to bridle
*' the city; the fort of Plymouth to fecure the weft ;
'' and arms for 20,000 in each of thefe ; and in Hull,
*^ for the northern parts ; with fome addition, which
** might be eafily and undifcernably made to the forces
** now on foot ; there were none that would have
*' either will, opportunity, or power to refifl:." But
he added withal, '' he was fo iincere in the main-
*' tenance of property and liberty of confcience, that
'' if he had his will, though he fhould introduce a
" bifliop of Durham (which was the inftance he then
*^ made, that fee being then vacant) of another religion;
*' yet he would not difcurb any of the church befide,
*'3ut fuffer them to die away, and not let his change
'^ (how hafty foever he was in it) overthrow either of
*^ thofe principles, and therefore defired he might be
'^ thought an honeft man as to his part of the decla-
*' ration, for he meant it really.'*

The lord Shaftibury (with whom I had more freedom)
I with great allurance afked, '' What he meant by the de-
*^ claration? for it feemed to me (as I then told him) that
'* it aHlimed a power to repeal and fufpend all our laws,
" to deftroy the church, to overthrow t\i(i proteftant
" religion, and to tolerate popery.** He replied, all
angry, *' that he wondered at my objedlion, there being
*' not one of thcfc in the cafe. For the king airumed
*' no power of repealing laws, or fufpending them,
*' contrary to the will of his parliament or people ;
" and not to argue with me at that time the power
** of the king's fupremacy, w hich was of another na-

20G A Letter from a Per/on of ^lalitp

•* turcthan that he had in civils, and had been exercifcd
♦* without exception in this very cafe by his father,
•* grandfather, and queen Kiizaheth, under the great
*' fcal to foreign proteilants, become fubjects of Ln-
** ghmd ; not to inflance in the fufpending the execu-
•* tion of the two aCls of navigation and trade, during
•* both this, and the la(l dutch . war, in the fame
«* words, and upon the fame nccefHty, and as yet
" without chimour, that ever we heard ; but to pafs
«' by all that, this was certain, a government could not
«* be fup[)ofed, whether monarchical, or of any other
«* fort, without a Handing fupreme, executive power,
•* fully enabled to mitigate, or wholly to fufpend, the
•' execution of any penal law, in the intervals of the
•' legiflative power ; which when aflembled, there was
•* no doubt but, wherever there lies a negative in paf-
•' ling of a law, there the addrefs or {(tni^ known of
*' either of them to the contrary (as for inflance of
•^ either of our two houfes of parliament in England)
*' ought to determine that indulgence, and reflore the
•* law to its full execution. For without this, the laws
" were to no purpofe made, if the prince could annul
" them at plcafure ; and lb on the other hand, w ith-
•' out a power always in being, of difpeniing upon
•' occalion, was to fuppofe a conlhtunon extremely
*' imperfecl and impracticable ; and to cure thofe w ith
•' a legiflative power always in being, is, when con-
•* fidered, no other than a pcrfecl tyranny.

** As to the church, he conceived the declaration
*' was extremely their interefl ; for the narrow bottom
•* they had placed themfelves upon, and the meafures
•' they had proceeded by, *io contrary to the properties
•* and liberties of the nation, mull: needs, in a Iborc
time, prove fatal to them ; whereas this led them into
another way, to live peaceably with the dilfentin;.^
and dirtering proteltants, both at home and abroad,
and fo by neceliary and unavoidable confequcnces, tt)
bccon^.c the head of liiem all. For that place is due
to the church of England, being in favour, and of
nearcH approach to the mofl powerful prince of that
religion, and fo always hud it in lluir hands t() be

•' the

A Leiler from a P erf on of ^laUty. 207

the intcrceirors and procurers of the greateft good
and protection that parry, throughout all chrilkn-
dom, can receive. And thus the archbifliop of Can-
terbury might become, not only '* altcrius orbis,**
but '* alcerius regionis papa;" and all this addition
of honour and power attained without the leafl: lofs,
or diminution of the church ; it not being intended
that one living, dignity, or preferment, lliould
be given to any but thofe that were IfriiStly conform-

** As to the proteftant religion, he told me plainir,
it was for the preferving of that, and that only,
that he heartily joined in the declaration ; for, be-
lides that, he thought it his duty to have care, in his
place and ftation, of thofe he was convinced were
the people of God, and feared him ; though of dif-
ferent pcrfuafioi:s. He alfo knew nothing elfe but
liberty and indulgence, that could poflibly (as our
cafe riood) fecure the proteftant religion in England;
and he begged me to confider, if the church of En-
gland fliould attain to a rigid, blind, and undif-
puted conformity, and that power of our church
fliould come into the hands of a popifh prince;
which was not a thing fo impofTible, or remote, as
not to be apprehended ; whether in fuch a cafe,
would not all the arms and arti.liery of the govern-
ment of the church be turned againfl: the prefeiK
religion of it? And fhould not all good proteftants
tremble to think what bifhops fuch a prince was
like to make, and whom thofe bifliops would con-
demn for heretics, and that prince might burn.
Whereas if this, which is now but a declaration,
might ever, by the experience of it, gain the advan-
tage of becoming an eftablillied law ; the true pro-
teflant religion would flill be kept up amongfl the
cities, towns, and trading places, and the worthieft
and fobereft (if not the greatcil) part of the nobility,
and gentry, and people.

As for the toleration of popery,, he faid, '' It was a
plcafant objection, lince he could confidently fiiy,
that the papilts had no advantage ia the leall, by

508 A Letter /rem a Per/on of ^tality,

•* this declaration, that they did not as fully enjoy, and
" with lefs noifc, by the favour of all the bifhops. It
*' was the vanity of the lord-keeper, that they were
•* named at all; for the whole advantage was to the
*' dilTentinp; proteflants, ^hich were the only men dif-
*' turbed before. And yet he confefled to me, that it
was his opinion, and always had been, that the papifls
ought to have no other prelfure laid upon them, but
to be made incapable of office, court, or arms, and
to pay fo much as might bring them at leall to a
*' balance with the proteitants, for thofe chargeable
" offices they are liable unto."

And concluded with this, ** That he dcfircd me feri-
** oufly to weigh, whether liberty and property were
** likely to be maintained long, in a country like ours^
'* where trade is fo abfolutely nccelTary to the very
" being, as well as profperity of it, and in this age of
** the world ; if articles of faith, and matters of reli-
•' gion, lliould become the only accelTiblc ways to our
** civil rights.'*

Thus, Sir, you have perhaps a better account of the
declaration, than you can receive from any other hand ;
and 1 could have wiflicd it a longer continuance, and
better reception than it had ; for the bilhops took fo
great otTcnce at it, that they gave the alarm of popery
through the whole nation, and by their emilfaries the
clergy, (who, by the contexture and fubordination
of their government, and their being polled in every
pariili, have the advantage of a quick difperfmg their
orders, and a fudden and univerfal inlinuation of what -
ever they pleafed) raifcd fucli a cry, that rhofe good
and fober men, who had really long feared the increafc
and countenance popery had hitherto received, began
to believe the biOiops were in earned ; rheir eyes opened,
though late, and therefore joined in heartily with them ;
fo that, at the next meeting of parliament*, the protef-
tanis mtereil was run iu high, as an aOl came up from
ihc coininons to the houfe ot" lords in favour of the dif-

* February 4^ 1672-5*


A Lei fer front a P erf on of ^lallty, 2O9

fcntlng protcflants, and had palTcd the lords, but for
want of time. Befides, another excellent adl paffed the
royal aiTent for the excluding all papifts from office* ;
in the oppofition to which, the lord trcafurer Clifford
fell, and yet, to prevent his ruin, this felfion had the
fpeedier end. Notvvithflanding, the bifnops attained their
ends fully; the declaration being cancelled, and the
great feal being broken off from it ; the parliament
having pafled no adt in favour of the diffentcrs, and yet
the fcnfe of both houfes fufficicntly declared againlt all
indulgence, but by acfl of parliament. Having got
this point, they ufed it at firit with feeming modera-
tion. There were no general diredlions given for per-
fecuting the non-conformifls ; but here and there fome
of the mod confiding juftices were made ufe of, to t:y
how they could revive the old perfecution. For as yet,
the zeal raifed agamil the papifts was fo great, that the
worthieft, and fobereft, of the epifcopal party, thought
it necelTary to unite with the difTcnting proteftants,
and not to divide their party, when all their forces were
little enough. In this pollure the felfion of parliament*
that began Odlober 27, 1673, found matters; which
being fuddenly broken up, did nothing.

The next felTion, which began January 7, following t,
the bifhops continued their zeal againft the papifls, and
feemed to carry on, in joining with the country lords,
many excellent votes, in order to a bill, as in particular,
that the princes of the blood-royal fliould all marry
proteftants, and many others ; but their favour to dii^-
fcnting proteftants was gone, and they attempted a
bargain with the country lords, with whom they then
joined, not to promote any thing of that iiaturc, except

* By the *' k^ for preventing Dangers, which may happen from Po-
pifh Recufants," paffed March 29, 1673, all perfons having any office, of
place of truft, under his majeity, ^x. were obliged to take the oath of
allegiance and fupremacy, &c. and to receive the facrair.cnt according to
the ufage of the church of England, &c. From that time no ad was
paffed till the 13th of Oftobcr 1675.

+ 1673-4.

Vol. IX. P the

2IO A Letter from a Per/on of .Quality.

the bill for taking away afllnt and confcnt, and re-
nouncing the covenant*.

This fcHion was no fooner ended, without doing any
thing, but ihc whole clergy were indruded to declare,
that there was now no more danrrcr of the papifts. The
fanatic (for fo they call the dilfenting protedantj is
again become the only dangerous enemy ; and the
bilhops had found a fcotch lord, and two new mi-
niflcrs, or rather great officers of England, who were
dcfpcrate and rafli enough to put their maflcr's bufi-
Tiels upon fo narrow and weak a bottom ; and the old
covenanter, l.audcrdalet, is become the patron of the
church, and has his coach and table filled with billiops.
The keeperj, and the trcafurer, are of aju(l fizc to
this affair; for it is a certain rule with the churchmen,
to endure (as feldom as they can) in bufmcfs, men abler
than thcmfelves. But his grace of Scotland was Icaft
to be cxcufed, of the three ; for having fallen from
prcl"bytery, protcftant religion, and all principles of
public good, and private friend (liip ; and become
the flave of Clifford, to carry on the ruin of all that he
had profefTed to fupport ; does now alfo quit even Clif-
ford's generous principles, and betake himfclf to a fort
of men that never forgive any man the having once
been in the right ; and fuch men, who would do the
worft of things by the worft of means, enllave their
country, and betray them, under the malk of religion,
which they have the public pay for, and the charge of;
fo feething the kid in the mother's milk. Our liatef-
men and hilliops being now as well agreed, as in old
Laud's time, on the fanK principles, with the fame
paflion to attain their end ; they, in the firlt place, give
orders to the judges, in all their circuits, to quicken
the execution of the laws againfl difienters ; a new

• See Dr. Ctlani) 's " Abridgment of Mr. Baxter's Hiftory ot his
Life and Times, &c." Vol. I. p. 340. of the 2d edit. London, 1713,
in 8vo.

+ John Maitland, duke of Lauderdale. He was created baron of Pe-
lerfham, nnd carl of Guilford, in England, in the year 1674.

^ Sir Ilcncagc Finch, afterwaids ear) of Nottingham.


A Letter from a Per/on of ^lality. . 2 11

declaration is publirtied diredlly contrary to the former ;
moft in words againfl: the papifts, but in the fenfe,
and in the clofe, did fully ferve againft both; and, in
the execution, it was plain who were meant. A com-
miifion, belides, comes down, direded to the principal
gentlemen of each county, to feize the edates of both
papifts and fanatics, mentioned in a lift annexed ;
^vherein, by great misfortune, or fkill, the names of
papifts of belt quality and fortune (and fo beft known)
were miflaken, and the commiflicn rendered ineffedlual
as to them.

Belides this, the great minifters of (late did, in
their common public talk, alTure the party, that all
the places of profit, command, and truft, fhould
only be given to the old cavaliers ; no man that had
ferved, or been of the contrary party, fliould be left
in any of them. And a direction is ifTued to the
great minifters before mentioned, and lix or fevcn of
the bifhops, to meet at Lambeth-houfe, who were, like
the lords of the articles in Scotland, to prepare their
complete model for the enfuing fefilon of parliament.

And now comes this memorable feflion of April 13,
1675, ^^^^ which never any came with more expev.^a-
tion of the court, or dread and apprehenfion of the
people. The officers, court-lords, and bifhops, were
clearly the major vote in the lords houfe ; and they allured
themfelves to have the commons as m.uch at their dif-
pofe, when they reckoned the number of the courtiers,
officers, penlioners, incrcafed by the addition of the
church and cavalier party ; befides the addrefs they had
made to men of the beft quality there, by hopes of
honour, great employment, and fuch things as would
take. In a word, the french king's minifters, who
are the great chapmen of the world, did not out-do
ours, at this time, and, yet the over-ruling hand of
God has blown upon their politics, and the nation
is efcaped this feffion, like a bird out of the fnarc of
the fowler.

In this feffion, the bifliops wholly laid afide their zeal
againfl popery. The comm/-tee of the whole houfe for
religion, which the country lords had Ciiufed to be fet

P 2 up

i I 2 A Letter from a Per/on of Quality:

up again by the example of the former feiTions, could
hardly get, at any time, a day appointed for their fit-
ting ; and the main thing dcligned for a bill voted in
the former feffion, viz. the marrying our princes to
none but protclhints, was rejected, and carried in the
negative, by the unanimous votes of the bifliops bench ;
for I mufl: acquaint you, that our great prelates were fo
near an infallibility, that they were always found in
this fcfllon of one mind in the lords houfe ; yet the lay
lords, not underlfanding from how excellent q principle
this proceeded, commonly called them, for that reafon,
the dead weight. And they really proved To, in the
following bufmefs ; for the third day of this fcffions,
this bill of the tell was brought into the lords houfe by
the earl of Lindfcy, lord high-chamberlain, a pcrfon
of great quality, but in this impofed upon ; and re-
ceived its firft reading, and appointment for the fe-
cond, w ithout much oppofition ; the country lords
being defirous to obferve what weight they put upon it,
or how they defigned to manage it.

At the fccond reading, the lord-keeper, and fomc
other of the court-lords, recommended the bill to the
houfe in fet and elaborate fpecches, the keeper calling
it a moderate fccurity to the church and crown ; and
that no honed man could refufe it; and whofoever did,
gave great fufpicion of dangerous and anti-monarchical
principles. 7'he other lords declaimed very much upon
the rebellion of the late times ; the great number of
fanatics ; the dangerous principles of rebellion Itill re-
maining ; carr)ing the difcourfe on, as if they meant
to trample down the ad of oblivion, and all thole
w hofe fecurities depended on it. But the earl of Shaftf-
bury, and fome other of the country lords, earneftly
prell that the bill might be laid afide, and that they
might nor be engaged in the debate of it ; or clfe that
that freedom they lliould be forced to ufe in the necef-
fary defence of their opinion, and the preferving of their
laws, rights, and liberties, which this bill would over-
throw, might not be mifconllrued. For there are many
things that mul\ be fpoken upon the debate, both con-
rcrning « I;urch and llate, that it was well known thcv


A Letter from a P erf on of ^ality. 213

had no mind to hear. Notwithflanding this, the great
ofticers and bidiops called out for the qucltion of re-
ferring the bill to a committee ; but the earl of Shaftf-
bury, a man of great abilities and knowledge in affairs,
and one that, in all this variety of changes of this lall
age, was never known to be either bought or frighted
out of his public principles, at large opened the mif-
chievous and ill deligns, and coafequences of the bill;,
which, as it was brought in, required all officers of
church and ftate, and all members of both houfes of
parliament, to take this oath following.

'' I A. B. do declare, that it is not lawful, upon any
'' pretence whatfoever, to take up arms againft the
*^ king ; and that I do abhor that traiterous po-
*' lition of taking arms by his authority, againll
*^ his perfon, or againft thofe that are commillion-
'* ed by him in purfuance of fuch commiiHon ; and
*' I do fwear, that I will not at any time endea-
" vour the alteration of the government, either in.
^' church or (late. So help me God.'*

The earl of Shaftfbury, and other lords, fpake with
fuch convincing reafon, that all the lords, who were at
liberty from court engagements, refolved to oppofe, to
the uttermoil, a bill of fo dangerous confequence ; and
the debate lailed live feveral days before it was com-
mitted to a committee of the whole houfe; which
hardly ever happened to any bill before. All this, and
the following debates, were managed chiefly by the
lords, whofe names you will find to the following pro-
teftations ; the firlt whereof was as follow cth :

" We, whofe names are under-written, being peers
'' of this realm, do, according to our rights, and the
*' ancient ufage of parliaments, declare, that the quef-
*' tion having been put whether the bill, entitled, ** An
*' acft to prevent the dangers which may arife from per-
fons Jifalied:ed< to the government," doth fo far in-
trench upon the privileges of this houfe, that it ought
therefore, to be call out ; it being refolved in the ne-

P 3 *' gativc


A Letter from a Per/on of ^laJity

gntive, wc do huniblv conceive, that any bill, which
iinpofcth an oath upon the peers with a penalty, as
this doth, that upon the rchiral of that oath, they
fhall be made incapable of fitting and voting in this
houfc; as it is a thing unprecedented in former times,
fo is it, in our humble opinion, the highelt invafion
of the liberties and privileges of the peerage, that
polUhly may be, and moH: dcilru:Hve of the freedom
which they ought to enjoy as members of parliament ;
becaufc the privilege of fitting and voting in parlia-
ment is an honour they have by birth, and a right fo
inherent in them, and infcparable from them, as that
nothing can take it away, but what by the law of the
land nuifl withal take away their lives, and corrupt
their blood ; upon which ground we do here enter our
diflcnc from that vote, and our proteflation againft



S\Y and SEAL

The next proteflation was againR the vote of com-
mitting the bill, in the words lojlowing:

'' The queftion being put, whether the bill, entitled,
'* An act: to prevent the dangers which may arife from
" perfons difaifecled to the government," ihould be
'* committed ; it being carried in the aJhrmativc, and
'* we, after feveral days debate, being in no meafurc
" fatisfied, but Hill apprehending that this bill doth
^' not only fubvcrt the privileges and birth-right of the
'' peers, by impofingan oath upon them with the pe^

'* naity

A Letter from a Per/on of ^aJity, 21c

^^ nalty of lofing their places in parliament, but alfo,
*' as we humbly conceive, ftrike at the very root of
*' government; it being neceflary to all government
" to have freedom of votes and debates in thofe who
" have power to alter and make laws ; and befides, the
*' exprcfs words of this bill obliging every man to ab-

Online LibraryJohn LockeThe works of John Locke (Volume 9) → online text (page 18 of 51)