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are thereby more effectually divided than ever: whereas the ministers of France had before that time assured the ministers of her Majesty, "That to accept of the expedient proposed on her Majesty's behalf, would be to build on a sandy foundation; and that the renunciation would be null and void by the fundamental laws of France; and that they would deceive themselves, who accepted it as an expedient to prevent the union of the two crowns." And not only in the particulars before mentioned, but in many others, contained in the said several speeches and messages made and sent to her Parliament, even while the said negotiations of peace with France were depending, the most essential points relating to peace and commerce, and which concerned the interests as well of the allies as of Great Britain, were grossly misrepresented by all which wicked, treacherous, and unexampled evil counsels, he the said Robert Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer did most basely, ungratefully, and scandalously abuse the favour of his royal mistress, and, by means of her authority, did mislead her Parliament into groundless and fatal resolutions; and thereby not only prevented the just advice of the Parliament to her Majesty in that critical juncture, but obtained the approbation of Parliament to his mysterious and dangerous practices; and did not only deprive her Majesty of the confidence and affection of her allies, but exposed her Majesty and her people to the contempt of the common enemy.
That whereas the said Robert Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer, having on all occasions used his utmost endeavours to subvert the ancient established constitution of parliaments, the great and only security of the prerogative of the crown, and of the rights, liberties, and properties of the people, and being most wickedly determined, at one fatal blow, as far as in him lay, to destroy the freedom and independency of the House of Lords, the great armament and near
est support of the imperial crown of these realms; and falsely intending to disguise his mischievous purposes under a pretended zeal for the prerogative of the crown, he the said Robert Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer, on or about the months of December or January 1711, whilst the House of Lords were under an adjournment, and had reason to expect that on their next meeting matters of the highest importance would be communicated to them from the throne, they having some few days before given their humble opinion and advice to her Majesty, "That no peace could be safe or honourable to Great Britain or Europe, if Spain and the West Indies were to be allotted to any branch of the House of Bourbon," being then Lord High Treasurer of Great Britain and one of her Majesty's Privy Council, and assuming to himself an arbitrary direction and control in her Majesty's councils, contrary to his duty and his oath, and in violation of the great trust reposed in him, and with an immediate purpose to render ineffectual the many earnest representations of her Majesty's allies against the said negotiations of peace, as well as to prevent the good effects of the said advice of the House of Lords, and in order to obtain such future resolutions of that House of Parliament on the important subject of the negotiations of peace as might shelter and promote his secret and unwarrantable proceedings, together with other false and evil counsellors, did advise her Majesty to make and create twelve peers of this realm and lords of parliament; and, pursuant to his destructive counsels, letters patent did forthwith pass, and writs issued, whereby twelve peers were made and created; and did likewise advise her Majesty immediately to call and summon them to parliament; which being done accordingly, they took their seats in the House of Lords on or about the 2nd of January 1711, to which day the House then stood adjourned: whereby the said Robert Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer did most highly abuse the influence he then had with her Majesty, and prevailed on her to exercise in the most unprecedented and dangerous manner that valuable and undoubted prerogative, which the wisdom of the laws and constitution of this kingdom hath entrusted with the crown
for the rewarding signal virtue and distinguished merit; by which desperate advice he did not only, as far as in him lay, deprive her Majesty of the continuance of those seasonable and wholesome counsels in that critical juncture, but wickedly perverted the true and only end of that great and useful prerogative, to the dishonour of the crown, and the irreparable mischief to the constitution of parliaments. All which crimes and misdemeanours were committed and done by him the said Earl against our late sovereign lady the Queen, her crown and dignity, the peace and interest of this kingdom, and in breach of the several trusts reposed in him the said Earl; and he the said Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer was Lord High Treasurer of Great Britain and one of her Majesty's Privy Council during the time that all and every the crimes before set forth were done and committed. For which matters and things, the knights, citizens, and burgesses of the House of Commons, in parliament assembled, do, in the name of themselves and of all the commons of Great Britain, impeach the said Robert Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer of high treason, and other high crimes and misdemeanours in the said articles contained.
And the said Commons, by protestation, saving to themselves the liberty of exhibiting at any time hereafter, any other accusations or impeachments against the said Earl, and also of replying to the answers which the said Robert Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer shall make to the premises, or any of them, or to any impeachment or accusation that shall be by them exhibited according to the course and proceedings of parliament; do pray, that the said Robert Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer be put to answer all and every the premises; and that such proceedings, examinations, trials, and judgments may be upon them, and every of them, had and used, as shall be agreeable to law and justice and they do further pray and demand, that the said Robert Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer may be sequestered from parliament, and forthwith committed to safe custody.
THE EARL OF Oxford's SPEECH IN HIS OWN DEFENCE.
My Lords: It is a very great misfortune for any man to fall under the displeasure of so great and powerful a body as the Commons of Great Britain: and this misfortune is the heavier upon me, because I had the honour to be placed at the head of the late ministry, and must now, it seems, be made accountable for all the measures that were then pursued. But, on the other hand, it is a very great comfort to me under this misfortune, that I have the honour to be a member of this august assembly: an assembly which always squares their proceedings and judgments by the rules of honour, justice, and equity; and is not to be biassed by a spirit of party.
My Lords: I could say a great deal to clear myself of the charge which is brought against me: but as I now labour under an indisposition of body, besides the fatigue of this long sitting, I shall contract what I have to say in a narrow compass. This whole accusation may, it seems, be reduced to the negotiation and conclusion of the peace. That the nation wanted a peace, nobody will deny; and, I hope, it will be as easily made out, that the conditions of this peace are as good as could be expected, considering the circumstances wherein it was made, and the backwardness and reluctancy which some of the allies showed to come into the Queen's This is certain, that this peace, as bad as it is now represented, was approved by two successive parliaments. It is, indeed, suggested against this peace, that it was a separate one: but I hope, my Lords, it will be made appear, that it was general; and that it was France, and not Great Britain, that made the first steps towards a negotiation. And, iny Lords, I will be bold to say, that during my whole administration, the sovereign upon the throne was loved at home, and feared abroad.
As to the business of Tournay, which is made a capital charge, I can safely aver, that I had no manner of share in it; and that the same was wholly transacted by that unfortunate nobleman who
thought fit to step aside: but I dare say in his behalf, that if this charge could be proved, it would not amount to treason. For my own part, as I always acted by the immediate directions and commands of the late Queen, and never offended against any known law, I am justified in my own conscience, and unconcerned for the life of an insignificant old man. But I cannot, without the highest ingratitude, be unconcerned for the best of Queens: a Queen who heaped upon me honours and preferments, though I never asked for them; and therefore I think myself under an obligation to vindicate her memory, and the measures she pursued, with my dying breath.
My Lords: If ministers of state, acting by the immediate commands of their sovereign, are afterwards to be made accountable for their proceedings, it may, one day or other, be the case of all the members of this august assembly; I do not doubt, therefore, that out of regard to yourselves, your Lordships will give me an equitable hearing; and I hope that, in the prosecution of this inquiry, it will appear, that I have merited not only the indulgence, but likewise the favour of the government.
My Lords: I am now to take my leave of your Lordships, and of this honourable House, perhaps for ever! I shall lay down my life with pleasure, in a cause favoured by my late dear royal misAnd when I consider that I am to be judged by the justice, honour, and virtue of my peers, I shall acquiesce, and retire with great content; and, my Lords, God's will be done!
FURTHER ARTICLES OF IMPEACHMENT OF HIGH CRIME AND AGAINST ROBERT EARL OF OXFORD AND
That whereas, in or about the month of January in the year 1710-11, a dangerous and destructive expedition had been projected and set on foot, under the pretence of making a conquest on the