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455. Proceedings against ROBERT Earl of OXFORD), * before the

House of Lords, upon an Impeachment for High Treason,
and other High Crimes and Misdemeanors : 3 GEORGE I.
A. D. 1717.
June 24, 1717.

the House of Lords, setting forth bis long con

finement, submitting his case to their lordships' THE Earl of Oxford having been impeached consideration, and praying that his imprisonby the House of Commons, and being con ment might not be indefinite. fined near two years in the Tower, without Upon this Petition some of the Lords urged, being brought to a trial, presented a Petition to that the Impeachment was ipso facto destroyed

* Swift, in his Catalogue of those who have quainted with his character; for, in the sense made great figures in some particular action they take the word, and as it is usually underor circumstance of their lives,' inserts - Robert stood, I know no man to whom that mean talent Harley, earl of Oxford, at bis Trial.' In his could be with less justice applied, as the con. History of the Four Last Years of the Queen, duct of affairs, while be has been at the helm, he has pourtrayed the character of Oxford does clearly demonstrate, very contrary to the

nature and principles of cunning, which is al“ This person had been chosen Speaker suc. ways employed in serving little turns, proposing cessively to three parliaments, was afterwards little ends, and supplying daily exigencies, by secretary of state, and always in great esteem little shifts and expedients. But to rescue a with the queen for his wisdom and fidelity.prince out of the hands of insolent subjects, The late ministry, about two years before their bent upon such designs as must probably end fall, had prevailed with her majesty, much in the ruin of the government; to find out against ber inclination, to dismiss him from means for paying such exorbitant debts as this her service; for wbich they cannot be justly nation hath been involved in, and reduce it to blamed, since he had endeavoured the same | a better management; to make a potent enemy thing against them, and very narrowly failed; offer advantageous terms of peace, and deliver which makes it the more extraordinary, that up the most important fortress of his kingdom be should succeed in a second attempt, against as a security; and this against all the opposi. those very adversaries, who had such fair tion mutually raised and inflamed by parties warning by the first. He is firm and steady in and allies : such performances can only be his resolutions, not easily diverted from them called cunning by those, whose want of underafter be bas once possessed himself of an opi- standing, or of candour, puts them upon finding pion that they are right; nor very communi ill names for great qualities of the mind, which cative where he can act by himself, being themselves do neither possess, nor can form targbt by experience, “ That a secret is sel any just conception of." However, it must be dom safe in more than one breast.” That allowed, that an obstinate love of secrecy in which occurs to other men after mature de- this minister, seems, at distance, to have some liberation, offers to him as his first thoughts; resemblance of cunning; for he is not only so that he decides immediately what is best to very retentive of secrets, but appears to be so be done, and therefore is seldom at a loss upon too; which I number among his defects. He sudden exigencies. He thinks it a more easy has been blamed by his friends, for refusing to and safe rule in politics, to watch incidents as discover bis intentions, even in those points they come, and then turn them to the advantage where the wisest man may have need of advice of what he pursues, than to pretend to foresee and assistance; and some bave censured him them at a great distance. Fear, cruelty, ava. upon that account, as if he were jealous of rice, and pride, are wbolly strangers to bis na- | power: but he has been heard to answer, ture; but he is not without ambition. There That be seldom did otherwise, without cause is one thing peculiar in his temper, which I to repent." altogether disapprove, and do not remember to “However, so undistinguished a caution have heard or met with in any other man's cannot, in my opinion, he justified, by which character: I mean an easiness and indifference the owner loses many advantages, and whereof ander any imputation, although be be ever so all men wbo deserve to be confided in, may, innocent, and although the strongest probabi- with some reason, complain. His love of prolities and appearances are against him; so tbat crastination (wherein doubtless nature has her I have known him often suspected by his share) may probably be increased by the same Dearest friends, for some months, in points of means; but this is an imputation laid upon the bighest importance, to a degree that they many other great ministers, who, like men were ready to break with him, and only un- under too heavy a load, let fall that wbich is of deceived by time and accident. His detractors, the least consequence, and go back to fetch it who cbarge him with cunning, are but ill ac- when their shoulders are free ; for, time in and determined, since he was not brought to earl's trial, which after some debates was fixed trial the same session in which he was im- | for the 13th of June, and afterwards at the peacbed, and that the prorogation was an actual desire of the House of Commods was deferred Supersedeas to the whole proceedings; bow till Monday the 24th, on which day the Lords ever, the vote of the House passed to the con caine from their House at 12 o'clock in their trary, and the earl of Nottingham, who bad in | robes, and went into the Court in Westminstersisted strenuously upon it, entered his protesta - | hall, in their usual order. tion against it.

The Lords being seated in their places, (and This being over-roled, the duke of Buck the Commons in a committee of the whole ingham moved to appoint a short day for the House being in their seats, and the Managers often gained, as well as lost, by delay, wbich, 1 given in the Letter to sir William Wyndham by at worst, is a fault on the securer side. Neither | Swift's friend Bolingbroke : probably is this minister answerable for balt! " Wbilst this was doing, Oxford looked 00, the clamour raised against him upon that ar- as if he had not been a party to all wbich had ticle : his endeavours are wholly turned upon passed; broke now and then a jest, which sethe general welfare of his country, but perhaps voured of the inns of court and the bad comwith too little regard to that of particular per pany in which he had been bred : and on those sons; which renders him less amiable, tban be

occasions, where bis station obliged him to would otherwise bave been, from the goodness speak of business, was absolutely unintelligi. of his humour, and agreeable conversation in a ble. Whether this man erer bad any deterprivate capacity, and with few dependers. Yet mined view, besides that of raising bis family, some allowance may perhaps be given to this is, I believe, a problematical question in the failing, wbich is one of the greatest he bas; , world. My opinion is, that be never had aby since he cannot be more careless of other men's

other.fortunes, than he is of his own. He is master of a very great and faithful memory ; wbich

Bolingbroke, in a letter written to Swift bimis of mighty use in the management of public

self in tbe year 1734, speaks very contempaffairs: and I believe there are few examples

tuously of Harley. The inconsistencies of to be produced, in any age, of a person who

Swift's own expressions at different times conbas passed through so many employments in

cerping Harley are the natural consequence of the state, endowed with a greater sbare both of

Swift's political tergiversation. divine and buman learning

Harley had been created earl of Oxford " I ain persuaded that foreigners, as well as on the 11th of May 1711. Of this advance. those at home who live too remote from the ment Burnet writes as follows: “ The minisscene of business to be rightly ipformed, will ters now found, how hard it was to restore not be displeased with this account of a person,

credit, and by consequence to carry on the who, in the space of two years, has been so

war; Mr. Harley's wound gave the queen highly instrumental in changing the face of the occasion, which she seemed to be waiting affairs in Europe, and has deserved so well of | for; upon bis recovery sbe had created bin his own prince and country.”

an earl, by a double title, of Oxford and More

timer. Preambles to Patents of Honour usoAnd in the True Narrative* of wbat passed ally carry in them a short account of the at the examination of the marquis de Guiscard,' | dignity of the family, and of the services of among other praises of Harley, is the follow the person advanced; but his preamble was ing: - France records her Richelieu, Mazarin,

very pompous, and set him out in the most and Louvois. We talk with veneration of

extravagant characters that flatterers could the Cecils. But posterity shall boast of Harley

shall boast of Harley invent; in particular it said, that he had reas a prodigy, in whom the spring is pure as deemed the nation from robbery, bad restored the stream ; not troubled by ingratitude or credit, and bad rendered the public great seravarice, nor its beauty deformed by the feature vice in a course of many years; all this was of any vice. The coming age will envy ours

set out in too fulsome rhetoric, and being prea minister of such accumulated worth."

pared by his own direction, pleased him so A very different representation of Oxford is much, that wbereas all other patents had been

only read in the House of Lords, this was * Of this “ True Narrative," Swift informs printed. He was at the same time made for Stella, that he had not time to do it himself. I treasurer, and became the chief, if not sole and that he was afraid of disobliging Mr. Harley | minister, for every thing was directed by him. or Mr. St. John in one critical point about it,

It soon appeared that his strength lay in maand so would not do it himself. The Narrative, naging parties, and in engaging weak people it appears, was composed by Swift's orders, | by rewards and promises, to depend upon him; and from bis materials, by one of his ' under | but that he neither thorougbly understood the spur-leathers' (as I think he denominates his | business of the treasury, nor the conduct of humbler fellow-labourers in the vineyard of foreign affairs. But he trusted to bis interest Tory pamphleteering) Mrs. Manley, who wrote in the queen and in the favourite." the Atalantis,'no very creditable associate, or | The Preamble to Harley's Patent was com: yery honourable panegyrist.

posed, (1 conjecture in Latin and in Eoglish) for the House being also in places appointed to the table, proclamation was again made for for them ;) the House was resumed.

keeping silence. Then Proclamation was made as follows: L. 7. Steward. (William lord Cow per.) My Serjeant at Arms. O Yes, O Yes, 0 Yes !

lords, bis majesty's commission is about to be

read; your lordships are desired to attend to it Our sovereign lord the king doth strictly charge

in the usual manner, and all others are likewise and command all manner of persons to keep

to stand up uncovered while the commission is silence on pain of imprisonment.

reading. Then the commission for appointing a Lord Then the said commission was read (all the High-Steward was (after three reverences made Lords and others standing uy uncovered) as in coming up froin the clerk's table) presented follows : to the Lord High-Steward sitting upon the “ GEORGIUS R. woul-sack, by the clerk of the crown in Chan « Georgius, Dei Gratia, Magnæ Britanniæ, cery on bis knee; and the same being brought Franciæ et Hiberniæ Rex, Fidei Defensor, &c.

by Swift. It is published in English in Swift's task being performed ; after some respite, he Works, vol. 4, p. 223. (Nichols's 12mo edi. bore the weight of our exchequer as chancellor, tion), as follows:

and thereby prevented the farther plundering

of the nation; and also provided for the “ PREAMBLE TO MR. HARLEY's PATENT, settling of a new trade to the South Seas; The Reasons which induced her Majesty to

and (by rescuing public credit) so opportunely

relieved the languisbing condition of the treacreate the Right Honourable Robert Harley a Peer of Great Britain; being a

sury, as to deserve thanks from the parliament,

blessings from the citizens, and from us (who translation of the preamble to his Patent, dated May 11, 1711.*

never separate our own interests from the

public) no small approbation. Therefore we « Whatever favour may be merited from a decree to the man that has so eminently dejust prince, by a mau born of an illustrious and served of us and of all our subjects, those bover y ancient family, t fitted by nature for all nours which were so long since due to bim great things, and by all sorts of learning qua- and his family ; being induced thereto by our lified for greater ; constantly employed in the own good pleasure, and the suffrage of all study of state affairs, and with the greatest Great Britain : for we take it as an admonipraise, and no small danger, exercising variety tion, that he should not in vaiu be preserved, of offices in the government; so much does whom the states of our realı have testified to our well-beloved and very faithful counsellor | be obnoxious to the hatred of wicked men, Robert Harley, I deserve at our hands : he, upon account of his most faithful services to who in three successive parliaments was una- us, and whom they have congratulated upon nimously chosen speaker; and, at the same his escape from the rage of a flagitious parritime that he filled the chair, was our principal cide. We gladly indulge their wishes, that secretary of state : in no wise unequal to either he, who comes thus recoinmended to us by so province. Places, so seemingly disagreeing honourable a vote of both Houses of Parlia were easily reconciled by one, who knew bowment, should have bis seat among the peers, with equal weight and address to moderate to many of whom his family has been long and govern the minds of men: one who could allied; and that be, who is himself learned, preserve the rights of the people, without in and a patron of learning, should bappily take fringing the prerogative of the crown ; and bis title from that city, where letters so glo. who thoroughly understood how well govern- riously flourish. Now know ye,” &c. ment could consist with liberty. This double! The censure of pompous extravagant flat

tery and fulsome rhetoric wbich as we bave *“ First printed in 4to. in Latin and Eng seen had been passed on this preamble by lish, by Morphew, in 1711.

Burnet, (possibly he knew not by whom it was f " This noble family is descended from

composed) would not fail to exasperate the the ancient house of the de Harlais in France.

political animosity of Swift, wbo accordingly Their common ancestors were probably a

| in return bas persecuted the loose and careless family of that name resident in Shropshire long

style of the bishop with a ludicrous childish before tbe Conquest.

minuteness of unrelenting vigilance and iove“ Robert Harley, esq. eldest son of sir

terate malignity. Edward Harley, was born in London, Dec. 5,

| Mr. Park, in his edition of lord Orford's 1661. He was educated at Sbilton, a private scbool in Oxfordsbire, remarkable for pro

Catalogue of Royal and Noble Authors, men

tions that there is in the British Museum a ducing, at the same time, a lord high treasurer (the earl of Oxford), a lord high chan

tract entitled, An Account of the Conduct of cellor (lord Harcourt), a lord chief justice of

Robert Earl of Oxford, 1715, 880. by whoin the common pleas (lord Trevor) and ten mem

Mr. Park supposes it to have been composed. bers of the House of Commons, who were all 1 See more concerning lord Oxford in Gregg's contemporaries as well at school as in parlia- Case, vol. 14, p. 1371. See, too, the preceding ment.

Cases of Bolingbroke, Ormond, and Strafford.

Prædilecto et fideli consiliario nostro Willielmo / L. H. Steward. Your lordship may rise. Domino Cowper, Cancellario nostro Magnæ Then the earl of Oxford rose up. Britanniæ, Salutem. Cum Robertus Comes de Serj. at Arms. O Yes, &c. (as before.) Oxon’ et Comes Mortimer, coram nobis in par L. H. Steward. Clerk, read the Articles of liamento per milites, cives et burgenses in par- | Impeachment, liamento nostro assemblat de alta Proditione et aliis atrocissimis Criminibus et Offensis per

The Clerk read the Articles, as followetb: ipsum Robertum Comitem Oxon’ et Comitem Mortimer commiss' et perpetrat in nomine ip Articles of IMPEACHMENT OF High TREAsorum militum, civium et burgensiuni et nomine SON, AND OTHER High CRIMES AND communium regni nostri Magnæ Britanniæ impetit et accusat' existit. Nos considerantes

MisdeMEANORS, AGAINST ROBERT quod justitia est virtus excellens et altissimo EARL OF OXFORD AND Earl Mozcomplacens, volentesq; quod prædictus Ro.

TIMER. bertus Comes de Oxon' et Comes Mortimer de et pro proditione et aliis criminibus et offensis Whereas many solemon treaties and allunde ipse ut præfertur impetitus et accusatus ances have been formerly entered into between existit coram nobis in præsenti Parliamento the crown of England, and orber princes and nostro, secundum legem et consuetudinem | potentates of Europe, for their mutual safety, hujus regoi nostri Magnæ Britanniæ, et secun and from the considerations of the commen dum consuetud. Parliamenti audiatur, exami danger, which threatened all Christendom, netur, sententietur et adjudicetur, cæteraq; from the immoderate growth of the power of omnia quæ in hac parte pertinent debito modo | France. And whereas the preventing the mo. exerceantur et exequantur ; ac pro eo quod narchy of Spain from coming into tbe hands proceres et magnates in præsenti parliamento of the House of Bourbon, has for many years nostro assenblat nobis bumilime supplica- | been a fundamental principle and maxim of verunt ut Senescallum Magnae Britanniæ pro | union among the allies, in order to preserre a hac vice constituere dignaremur: Nos de fide just balance of power in Europe: And to that litate, prudentia, providâ circumspectione et ip end, as the designs of France on the monarchy dustriâ vestris plurimum confidentes, ordinavi- of Spain have from time to time appeared, mus et constituimus vos ex hac causa Senescal. | new treaties and express stipulations have been lum Magnæ Britanniæ ad officium illud, cumom-| entered into amongst the allies, to strengthea nibus eidem officio in bac parte debit' et pertinen' | themselves against that approacbing danger: hac vice gerend' occupand' et exercend' et ideo And, on this foundation, a trealy for an invobis mandamus quod circa præmissa diligentur tended partition, whereby a small part only of intendatis et omnia quæ in hac parte ad officium the dominions of the crown of Spaid was alSenescalli Magnæ Britanniæ pertinent et re lotted to the House of Bourbon, was cooquiruntur hac vice faciatis, exerceatis et exe- demned by the wisdom of parliament, as being quamini cum effectu. In cujus rei testimo- | bighly prejudicial, and fatal in its consequences nium has literas nostras fieri fecimus patentes. to England, and the peace of Europe: Aod Teste meipso apud West' vicesimo quarto die, whereas the duke of Anjou, grandson to Junii, anno regni nostri tertio.

king of France, on the demise of Charles the “ Per ipsum Regem propriâ manu sigoat' second, king of Spain, took possession, of the

“ WRIGHTE." | entire monarchy of Spain, whoreby the baThen the herald and Black-Rod, making lance of power, the Protestant religion, and three reverences as they came up, presented, the liberties of Europe were threatened with koeeling, the staff to the Lord High-Steward; immediate danger; whereupon Leopold, then who thereupon standing up, made a reverence emperor of Germany, his late majesty king to the Lords; and then, being attended by the William the third, of ever glorious memory, herald, Black-Rud, and purse-bearer carry. and the States General of the United Provinces, ing the purse, proceeded to the chair placed on finding at tbat most critical juncture, that a the second step of the throne.

strict conjunction and alliance between themWho having again made a reverence to the selves was become necessary, for repelling the Lords, he seated bimself in the said chair, greatness of the commou danger, from so grea and gave the staff to the Black-Rod on his an accession of power to the then common eneright-band, and the purse-bearer standing on bis my, did, in the year of our Lord 1701, make,

form, and conclude a new treaty apd alliance, Serj at Arms. O Yes, &c. (as before.) wbereby it was agreed, that there shall be add

L. H. Steward. Make proclamation for the continue between the said confederates, his lieutenant of the Tower of London to bring the sacred imperial majesty, his sacred royal maprisoner to the bar.

jesty of Great Britain, and the lords the States Serj. at Arms. ( Yes, 0 Yes, 0 Yes! | General of the United Provinces, a constant, Lieutenant of the Tower of London, bring forth perpetual, and inviolable friendship and coryour prisoner to the bar, according to the order respondence, and that each party shall be obliof the House of Lords to you directed.

ged to promote the advantages of the otber, Then the earl of Oxford came to the bar, and and prevent all inconveniencies and dangers kneeled for some time,

that might happen to them, as far as lies in

left.

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their power: That the said allies, desiring | count of traffic, directly or indirectly, or any nothing more earnestly than the peace and ge- pretence whatsoever : And lastly, unless fuil neral quiet of all Europe, have adjudged that liberty be granted unto the subjects of the king nothing can be more effectual for the establish- of Great Britain, and the States General, to ment thereof, than the procuring an equitable exercise and enjoy all the same privileges, and reasonable satisfaction to bis imperial ma rights, immunities, and franchises of comjesty for his pretension to the Spanish suc- merce by sea and land in Spain, the Meditercession, and that the king of Great Britain and ranean, and all lands and places wbich the the States General may obtain a particular king of Spain last deceased did possess at the and sufficient security for their kingdoms, pro- time of his death, as well in Europe as elsevinces and dominions, and for the navigation where, which they used and enjoyed, or which and commerce of their subjects: That the said the subjects of both, or either of tbem, by confederates therefore shall, in the first place, any right acquired by treaties, agreements, endeavour by amicable means, to obtain the customs, or any other way whatsoever, might.. said satisfaction ; but it, contrary to their ex- bave used and enjoyed before the death of the pectation and wishes, the same is not had, the late king of Spain : That at the said time that said confederates do engage and promise to one the said agreement or peace shall be made, the another, that they will assist each other with confederates shall agree amongst themselves all their forces according to a specification to about all the things that they shall think nebe agreed upon in a peculiar convention for cessary for maintaining the navigation and that purpose: That the confederates in order | commerce of the subjects of his majesty of to the procaring the satisfaction and security Great Britain, and the States General, in the aforesaid, sball, amongst other things, use their lands and dominions they may acquire, ar utmost endeavours to recover the provinces of that were possessed by the late deceased king the Spanish Low Countries, that they may be of Spain, and also in what manner the States a fence and rampart, commonly called a barrier, General may be secured by the aforesaid fence separating and dividing France from the United or barrier. And whereas his said late majesty Provinces, for the security of the States Ge- | king William, and the States General, serious. neral, as they have served in all times, till of ly considering that France was then become Jate that the most Christian king bas seized so formidable from the accession of Spain to them by his forces; as likewise the dutchy of the duke of Anjou, that, in the opinion of all Milan, with its dependencies, as a fief of the the world, Europe was in danger of losing her empire, and contributing to the security of his liberty, and undergoing the heavy yoke of uniimperial majesty's hereditary dominions; be-versal monarchy, and that the surest means sides the kingdoms of Naples and Sicily, and of effecting that design, were to divide the the lands and islands upon the coast of Tus- | king of Great Britain from the States General cany, in the Mediterranean, that belonged to for which purpose all imaginable efforts would the Spanish dominions, and may serve to the be made; they therefore thought it necessary same purpose, and will also be of advantage to unite in the strictest manner that was posto the navigation and commerce of the subjects sible, and to that end a defensive Treaty and of the king of Great Britain, and of the United Alliance was concluded and entered into beProvinces : That in case the confederates shall tween them, in or about the month of No. be forced to enter into a war, for obtaining the vember, 1701, wherein it was, among other satisfaction aforesaid for his imperial majesty, things, agreed, That in case the said bigh and the security of his majesty of Great Bri- allies should be jointly engaged in war, by reatain, and the States General, they shall com- , son of this defensive alliance before mentioned municate their designs to one apother, as well in the 5th Article, or on any other account, in relation to the actions of the war, as all otber there shall be an offensive, and defensive, and things wherein the common cause is concern- perpetual alliance between them, against those ed: That it shall not be permitted to either with whom the war shall be, and all their forces party, when the war is once begun, to treat of shall be employed by sea and land, and they peace with the enemy, unless jointly, and shall act in conjunction or separately, as it by a coinmunication of counsels; and no shall be agreed between them. That since, peace shall be made, unless an equitable and in the alliance with the emperor made in Sepreasonable satisfaction for his imperial ma. | tember last, particular care was taken of the jesty and the particular security of the king. recovery of the Spanish Low-Countries, out of doms, provinces, dominions, navigations and the hands of the most Christian king, the said commerce for his majesty of Great Britain, confederates expressly engage to aid one ano. and tbe States General, be first obtained; and ther with all their forces for the recovery of unless care be taken, by fitting security, that the same. And in regard the principal interest the kingdoms of France and Spain shall never of the said confederates consists in the preser. come and be united under the same govern vation of the liberties of Europe, the before. ment, por that one and the same person shall mentioned Treaty with the emperor shall be be king of both kingdoms; and particolarly faithfully and sincerely executed, and both that the French shall never get into the pos sides shall guaranty the same, and use their session of the Spanish Indies, neither shall endeavours to confirm and render it more strong they be permitted to sail thither on the ac. | from time to time: That in making peace, par

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