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sir Harry Vane so punctually remembered, (as you shall find at the earl's trial,) and besides that it was matter of horror to the counsellors, to find that they might be arraigned for every rash, every inconsiderate, every imperious expression or word they had used there; and so made them more engaged to servile applications; it banished for ever all future freedom from that board, and those persons, whence his majesty was to expect advice in his greatest straits; all men satisfying themselves, “ that they were no more obliged to deliver “ their opinions there freely, when they might be “ impeached in another place for so doing ;” and the evincing this so useful doctrine was without doubt more the design of those grand managers, than any hope they had, of receiving further information thereby, than they had before.
And for my part, I must ask leave of those noble lords, who after the king's consent gave themselves leave to be examined, to say, that if they had well considered the oath they had taken when they were admitted to that society, which was, To keep secret all matters committed and revealed to them, or [that] should be treated of secretly in council, they would not have believed, that the king himself could have dispensed with that part of their oath. It is true, there is another clause in their oath, that allows them with the king's consent to reveal a matter of council : but that is, only what shall touch another counsellor; which they are not to do without the leave of the king or the council.
It was now time to intend themselves, as well as the public, and to repair, as well as to pull down; and therefore, as the principal reason (as was said before) for the accusing those two great persons of high treason (that is, of the general consent to it before any evidence was required) was, that they might be removed from the king's presence and his counsels, without which they conceived theirs would have no power with him ; so that being compassed, care was taken to infuse into the king by marquis Hamilton, (who you heard before was licensed to take care of himself ; and was now of great intimacy with the governing and undertaking party,) “ that his majesty having “ declared to his people, that he really intended a “ reformation of all those extravagancies which - former necessities, or occasions, or mistakes, had “ brought into the government of church or state : “ he could not give a more lively and demonstrable “ evidence, and a more gracious instance of such “ his intention, than by calling such persons to his “ council, whom the people generally thought most “ inclined to, and intent upon, such reformation : “ besides, that this would be a good means to pre« serve the dignity and just power of that board, “ which might otherwise for the late excess be “ more subject to violation, at least to some incon" venient attempts.”
Hereupon in one day were sworn privy-counsellors, much to the public joy, the earl of Hertford, (whom the king shortly after made marquis,) the earl of Bedford, the earl of Essex, the earl of Bristol, the lord Say, the lord Savile, and the lord Kimbolton; and within two or three days after, the earl of Warwick : being all persons at that time very gracious to the people, or to the Scots, by whose election and discretion the people chose ; and had been all in some umbrage at court, and most of them in visible disfavour there. This act the king did very cheerfully ; heartily inclined to some of them, as he had reason; and not apprehending any inconvenience by that act from the other, whom he thought this light of his grace would reform, or at least restrain.
But the calling and admitting men to that board is not a work that can be indifferent; the reputation, if not the government, of the state so much depending on it. And though, it may be, there hath been too much curiosity heretofore used to discover men's particular opinions in particular points, before they have received that honour; whereas possibly such differences were rather to have been desired than avoided ; yet there are certain opinions, certain propositions, and general principles, that whosoever does not hold, does not believe, is not, without great danger, to be accepted for a privy-counsellor. As, whosoever is not fixed to monarchical grounds, the preservation and upholding whereof is the chief end of such a council : whosoever does not believe that, in order to that great end, there is a dignity, a freedom, a jurisdiction most essential to be preserved in and to that place; and takes not the preservation thereof to heart; ought never to be received there. What in prudence is to be done towards that end, admits a latitude that honest and wise men may safely and profitably differ [in]; and those differences (which I said before there was too much unskilful care to prevent) usually produce great advantages in knowledge and wisdom : but the end itself, that which the logicians call the terminus ad quem, ought always to be a postulatum, which whosoever doubts, destroys : and princes cannot be too strict, too tender, in this consideration, in the constituting the body of their privy-council; upon the prudent doing whereof much of their safety, more of their honour and reputation (which is the life itself of princes) both at home and abroad, necessarily depends; and the inadvertencies in this point have been, mediately or immediately, the root and the spring of all the calamities that have ensued.
Two reasons have been frequently given by princes for oversights, or for wilful breaches, in this important dispensation of their favours. The first, “ that such a man can do no harm ;" when, God knows, few men have done more harm than those who have been thought to be able to do least; and there cannot be a greater error, than to believe, a man whom we see qualified with too mean parts to do good, to be therefore incapable of doing hurt : there is a supply of malice, of pride, of industry, and even of folly, in the weakest, when he sets his heart upon it, that makes a strange progress in mischief. The second, “ when persons “ of ordinary faculties, either upon importunity, or “ other collateral respects, have been introduced “ thither, that it is but a place of honour, and a “ general testimony of the king's affection ;” and so it hath been as it were reserved as a preferment for those, who were fit for no other preferment. As amongst the Jesuits they have a rule, that they who are unapt for greater studies, shall study cases of conscience. By this means the number hath been increased, which in itself breeds great inconveniences; since a less number are fitter both
for counsel and despatch, in matters of the greatest moment, that depend upon a quick execution, than a greater number of men equally honest and wise : and for that, and other reasons of unaptness and incompetency, committees of dexterous men have been appointed out of the table to do the business of the table; and so men have been no sooner exalted with the reverent title, and pleased with the obligation of being made privy-counsellors, than they have checked that delight with discerning that they were not fully trusted ; and so been more incensed with the reproachful distinction at, than obliged with the honourable admission to, that board, where they do not find all persons equally members. And by this kind of resentment, many sad inconveniences have befallen to the king, and to those men who have had the honour and misfortune of those secret trusts.
The truth is, the sinking and near desperate condition of monarchy in this kingdom can never be buoyed up, but by a prudent and steady council attending upon the virtue and vivacity of the king; nor be preserved and improved when it is up, but by cherishing and preserving the wisdom, integrity, dignity, and reputation of that council : the lustre whereof always reflects upon the king himself ; who is not thought a great monarch when he follows the reins of his own reason and appetite ; but when, for the informing his reason, and guiding his actions, he uses the service, industry, and faculties of the wisest men. And though it hath been, and will be, always necessary to admit to those counsels some men of great power, who will not take the pains to have great parts; yet the