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The Crisis. No. VIII




MY LORDS: You have a peculiar claim to an Address from the Authors of the Crisis, and it shall be our business in this Paper to preserve, if possible, the perishable infamy of your names.

The motion made by Lord Radnor, on Monday, the 27th of Februaryt concerning No˙ III, of the Crisis, was unjust and villanous. The Paper contains nothing but the most sacred truths, and therefore could not be a false or scandalous libel. The amendment of the epithet, treasonable, proposed and supported by the Lords Pomfret, Suffolk, Apsley and Sandwich, was infamous, and of a piece with every other proceeding of the present reign and present Ministry. It showed, in a particular manner, the bloody-minded dispositions of prostituted Court Lords, the instruments of murder and publick ruin. The immaculate Lord Sandwich insisted that the word treasonable should stand part of the motion, as a proper foundation for bringing the Authors to exemplary and condign punishment. Suppose, my Lords, this infamous amendment to the Radnor motion had been carried, and it had stood a false, scandalous, and treasonable libel, could the mere ipse dixit of a few venal Lords make that treason which, in the literal or constructive sense of the word, was not so.

The Author of No˙ III, is perfectly well acquainted with the Statute of Treasons, passed in the reign of Edward the Third, and likewise with the various expositions and interpretations of it. He well knew the Paper was written upon the true principles of the Revolution, and that it could be justified by the laws of the land. He well knew (though there is hardly any villany but what Court sycophants may do with ease) that it was not in the power of Lord Mansfield, with all his chicanery, with all his artifice, with all his abuse of the law, with all his perversion of justice, with all the aid of false construction and forced inuendoes, to bring it within the meaning of that Statute. He well knew the disposition of the Sovereign and his minions, and that nothing would or can satiate Royal, Scotch, or Ministerial revenge, but the blood of those who oppose the present most horridly cruel, and most infamously wicked, measures of Government. And, my Lords, he well knew the shocking prostitution of hereditary peerage, and the barefaced treachery and villany of a purchased majority in the House of Commons.

Has there not, my Lords, been innocent blood enough shed in this reign, that your Lordships should still thirst for more. Why should your Lordships be so desirous of stopping every channel of publick information? The infamy of your actions are sufficiently known, and will be handed down to the latest ages of time, while your names will stink in the nostrils of posterity.

The Statute of Treasons, my Lords, passed in the twenty-fifth, year of the reign of Edward the Third, was an act of vast importance to the publick weal, for till then there was hardly a word spoke, or a paper written, but what was deemed treason; and the Parliament which passed it were called Benedictum Parliamentum — the Blessed Parliament.

The substance of this Statute is branched out by my Lord Coke into six heads, which we shall here give, with some observations of our own, to show your Lordships and the world, that No˙ III, of the Crisis, is not within the meaning of either of these heads, and that by your amended motion you designed to lay the ground-work of a prosecution the most cruel and infamous ever carried on in this Country, worse than those which, without proof or the colour of guilt, took away the lives of the great Lord Russel and Algernon Sidney.

The first head is concerning death, by compassing or imagining the death of the King, Queen, or Prince, and declaring the same by some overt deed; by killing or murdering the Chancellor, Treasurer, Justice of either Bench,


Justice in Eyre, Justices of Assize, Justices of Over and Terminer, in their places during their offices.

The second is, to violate, that is, to know carnally, the Queen, the King' s eldest daughter unmarried, the Prince' s wife.

The third is, levying war against the King.

The fourth is, adhering to the King' s enemies, within the Realm or without, and declaring the same by some overt act.

The fifth is, counterfeiting the great, the privy-seal, or the King' s coin.

The sixth and last, by bringing into this Realm counterfeit money, to the likeness of the King' s coin.

First. To compass and imagine, is to contrive, design, or intend the death of the King; but this must be declared by some overt act; declaring by an open act a design to depose or imprison the King, is an overt act; to manifest the compassing his death. I believe, my Lords, the Author of Number III of the Crisis, is not under the predicament of this exposition.

Second. By the word King, is intended, 1˙ A King before his coronation, as soon as ever the Crown descends upon him; for the coronation is but a ceremony. 2˙ A King de facto, and not de jure, is a King within this Act; and treason against him is punishable, though the right heir get the Crown.

Third, NOTE. It is very strange, but in the printed Statute Book, it is there said, probably attainted, which is a gross errour; for the words of the Record are, et de ceux provablements soit attaint; and shall be thereof probably attaint; and it is amazing to me, that so gross a mistake should be suffered, since my Lord Coke has so expressly observed the difference in these words following. 3˙ Inst˙ fol˙ 12. In this branch, saith he, four things are to be observed: 1˙ This word (provablement) provably, that is, upon direct and manifest proof, not upon conjectural presumptions or inferences, or strains of wit, but upon good and sufficient proof; and herein, the adverb (provablement) provably hath great force, and signifieth a direct and plain proof; and, therefore, the offender must provably be attainted, which words are as forcible, as upon direct and manifest proof. Note. The word is not probably, for then commune argumentum might have served, but the word is provably be attainted. 2˙ The word attaint necessarily implieth, that lie be proceeded with, and attainted, according to the due course of law, and proceedings of law, and not by absolute power, or by other means, as in former times had been used; and, therefore, if a man doth adhere to the enemies of the King, or be slain in open war against the King, or otherwise die before the attainder of treason, he forfeiteth nothing, because (as the Act saith) he is not attainted; wherein this Act hath altered that, which, before this Act, in case of treason, was taken for law. And the Statute of 34 Ed˙ III˙, saves nothing to the King, but that which was in esse, and pertaining to the King at the making of that Act. And this appeareth by a judgment in Parliament, in ann˙ 29 H˙ VI˙, that Jack Cade, being slain in open rebellion, could no ways be punished, or forfeit any thing, and, therefore, was attainted by that Act of high treason. 3˙ Of open deed, per opertum factum; these words strengthen the former exposition of provablement; an overt act must be alleged in every indictment upon this Act, and proved; compassing, by bare words, is not an overt act, as appears by many temporary Statutes against it. But there must be some open act, which must be manifestly proved. As if divers do conspire the death of the King, and the manner how, and thereupon provide weapons — powder, poison, harness, send letters and the like, for the execution of the conspiracy. If a subject conspire with a foreign Prince to invade the Realm by open hostility, and prepare for the same by some overt act, this is a sufficient overt act for the death of the King. 4thly, A conspiracy is had to levy war; this is no treason by this act, until it be levied; therefore it is no overt act, or manifest proof of the compassing the death of the King within this act, for the words are, deceo, &c˙, thereof, that is, of the compassing of the death. The wisdom of the makers of this Law would not make bare words to be treason, seeing such variance commonly among the witnesses, about the same, as few of them agree together.

In the preamble of the Statute of 1 Mar˙ (concerning


the repeal of certain treasons declared after this Statute of 25 Edw˙ III˙ and before that time, and bringing all things to the measures of this Statute) it was agreed by the whole Parliament, that Laws justly made for the preservation of the Commonwealth, without extreme punishment, are more often obeyed and kept, than Laws and Statutes made with great and extreme punishments; and in special such Laws and Statutes so made, whereby not only the ignorant and rude unlearned people, but also learned and expert people, minding honesty, are oftentimes trapped and snared, yea, many times for words only, without other fact or deed done or perpetrated. Therefore this Act of the 25th Ed˙ III˙ doth provide that there must be an overt act. 5thly. As to treason, by levying war against the King, we must note, that though conspiring or compassing to levy war, without a war de facto, be no treason, yet it may conspire a war, and only some few actually levy it, all are guilty of the treason. Raising a force to burn or throw down a particular enclosure, is only a riot; but if it had been to have gone from Town to Town, to throw down all enclosures, or to change Religion, or the like, it were levying of war, because the intended mischief is publick. Holding a Fort or Castle against the King' s force, is levying war. 6th. Counterfeiting the great or privy-seal, is treason, but it must be an actual counterfeiting thereof; compassing to do it is no treason; affixing the great seal by the Chancellor, without warrant, is no treason; fixing a new great seal to another patent is misprision, but no treason, being not counterfeiting within this Act. But aiders and consenters are within this Act. 7th. Treason concerning coin, is counterfeiting the King' s coin; and this was treason at common law, and judgment only as of petty treason; but clipping, &c˙, being made treason by other Statutes, the judgment is, to be drawn, hanged, and quartered. Money, here, extends only to the proper money of this Realm. 8th. As this Statute leaves all other doubtful matters to be declared treason in Parliament, but not to be punished as such till so declared, so in succeeding Kings' reigns abundance of other matters were declared treason, which being found very grievous and dangerous, by this Statute, 1 Mar˙, it is enacted that thenceforth no act, deed, or offence, being by Act of Parliament or Statute made treason, petty treason, or misprision of treason, by words, writing, cyphering, deeds, or otherwise however, shall be taken, had, deemed or adjudged to be high treason, petty treason, or misprision of treason, but only such as be declared and expressed to be treason, petty treason, or misprision of treason, by this Statute of 25 Edw˙ III.

Here we rest the matter, my Lords, convinced that the author of Number III, is not within the meaning of this Statute, nor any exposition of it, and that the design of your Lordships in adding the epithet treasonable, was wicked, base, and infamous, and will be sure to secure to you the contempt and detestation of every honest man.