THE DECLARATION OF THE HAGUE (1688)

 

[William of Orange issued this declaration just days before embarking for England; upon landing some 60,000 copies were distributed to the people of England.]

 

The Declaration of His Highness, William Henry, by the Grace of God, Prince of Orange, etc, of the reasons inducing him to appear in arms in the Kingdom of England, for preserving of the Protes­tant Religion, and for restoring of the laws and liberties of Eng­land, Scotland, and Ireland

 

I. It is both certain and evident to all men, that the publick peace and happiness of any state or kingdom cannot be preserved where the laws, liberties, and customs established by the lawful authority in it are openly transgressed and annulled: More especially where the alteration of religion is endeavoured, and that a religion, which is contrary to law, is endeavoured to be introduced: Upon which those who are most immediately concerned in it are indispensably bound to endeavour to maintain and preserve the established laws, liberties, and customs, and above all the religion and worship of God, that is established among them; and to take such an effectual care that the inhabitants of the said state or kingdom may neither be deprived of their religion nor of their civil rights; which is so much the more necessary, because the greatness and security both of kings, royal families, and of all such as are in authority, as well as the happiness of their subjects and people, depend, in a most especial manner, upon the exact observation and maintenance of these their laws, liberties, and customs.

 

II. Upon these grounds it is that we can't any longer forbear to declare, that, to our great regret, we see that those counsellors, who have now the chief credit with the King, have overturned the religion, laws, and liberties of these realms, and subjected them, in all things relating to their consciences, liberties, and properties, to arbitrary government, and that not only by secret and indirect ways, but in an open and undisguised manner....

 

XII. They have also, by putting the administration of civil jus­tice in the hands of Papists, brought all the matters of civil justice into great uncertainties; with how much exactness and justice soever these sentences may have been given. For since the laws of the land do not only exclude Papists from all places of judicature, but have put them under an incapacity, none are bound to ac-knowledge or to obey their judgments; and all sentences given by them are null and void of themselves: So that all persons who have been cast in trials before such Popish judges, may justly look on their pretended sentences as having no more force than the sen­tences of any private and unauthorized person whatsoever….

 

[The King's evil counsellors] have not only armed the Papists, but have likewise raised them up to the greatest military trust, both by the sea and land, and that strangers as well as natives, and Irish as well as English, that so by those means, having rendered themselves masters both of the affairs of the church, of the government of the nation, and of the courts of justice, and subjected them all to a despotick and arbitrary power, they might be in a capacity to maintain and execute their wicked designs, by the assistance of the army, and thereby to enslave the nation.

XIII. The dismal effects of this subversion of the established religion, laws, and liberties in England appear more evidently to us, by what we see done in Ireland; where the whole government is put in the hands of Papists, and where all the Protestant inhabitants are under the daily fears of what may be justly apprehended from the arbitrary power which is set up there; which has made great numbers of them leave that kingdom, and abandon their estates in it, remembering well that cruel and bloody massacre which fell out in that island in the year 1641.

 

XIV. Those evil counsellors have also prevailed with the King to declare in Scotland, that he is clothed with absolute power, and that all the subjects are bound to obey him without reserve: Upon which he assumed an arbitrary power both over the religion and laws of the kingdom; from all of which it's apparent what is to be looked for in England as soon as matters are duly prepared for it.

 

XV. Those great and insufferable oppressions, and the open contempt of all law, together with the apprehensions of the sad consequences that must certainly follow upon it, have put the subjects under great and just fears; and have made them look after such lawful remedies as are allow’d of in all nations; yet all has been without effect….

 

XX. And since our dearest and most entirely beloved consort the Princess, and likewise we ourselves, have so great an interest in this matter, and such a right as all the world knows to the succes­sion of the Crown: Since all the English did, in the year 1672, when the States General of the United Provinces were invaded with a most unjust war, use their utmost endeavours to put an end to that war, and that in opposition to those who were then in the government; and by their so doing, they run the hazard of losing both the favour of the court and their employments: And since the English nation has ever testified a most particular affection and esteem both to our dearest consort the Princess, and to ourselves, we cannot excuse ourselves from espousing their interest in a matter of such high consequence: And for contributing all that lies in us for the maintaining both of the Protestant religion, and of the laws and liberties of those kingdoms, and for the securing to them the continual enjoyment of a1 their just rights. To the doings of which, we are most earnestly solicited by a great many lords, both spiritual and temporal, and by many gentlemen, and other subjects of all ranks.

 

XXI. Therefore it is, that we have thought fit to go over to England, and to carry over with us a force sufficient by the bless­ing of God, to defend us from the violence of those evil counsel­lors. And we, being desirous that our intention in this might be rightly understood, have for this end prepared this declaration, in which, as we have hitherto given a true account of the reasons inducing us to it, so we now think fit to declare, that this our expedition is intended for no other design, but to have a free and lawful Parliament assembled, as soon as possible, and that the mem­bers shall meet and sit in full freedom....

 

XXV. We do in the last place invite and require all persons whatsoever, all the peers of the realm, both spiritual and temporal, all lords-lieutenants, deputy-lieutenants, and all gentlemen, citizens, and other commons of all ranks, to come and assist us, in order to the executing of this our design against all such as shall endeavour to oppose us; that so we may prevent all those miseries, which must needs follow upon the nations being kept under arbitrary govern­ment and slavery: And that all the violence and disorders which have overturned the whole constitution of the English government may be fully redressed in a free and legal Parliament....

 

XXVI. And we will endeavour, by all possible means, to pro-cure such an establishment in all the three kingdoms that they may all live in a happy union and correspondence together; and that the Protestant religion, and the peace, honour, and happiness of those nations may be established upon lasting foundations.

 

Given under our hand and seal at our court in the Hague, the 10th day of October, in the year of our Lord 1688

 

William Henry, Prince of Orange

By His Highness's special command