Address to King James II at Oxford, September 1687

At the beginning of September 1687, King James II visited Oxford University. Edward Hales, a student of University College gave the following address. Hales was the eldest son of Sir Edward Hales, Baronet, (later Earl of Tenterden), who is most famous as the defendant in the case Godden v. Hales. On July 1, 1690 the younger Edward Hales was killed fighting for King James at the Battle of the Boyne.

A printed version of the text can be found in A Speeche Spoken by Mr Hayles, a Student of University Colledge of Oxford, and son to the Honourable Sir Edward Hayles, printed at London for A.M, 1687 (Wing, 2nd ed., H266B).

Most Dread Sovereign,

We, Your Majesty's humblest subjects of this house, have the greatest reason to rejoice in this Your Majesty's presence, in as much as this being the most ancient college and mother of all the rest in your dominions has been chosen out to begin the restitution of the religion which was first planted and watered by so many eminent, devout and learned persons, of whom four are accounted saints in our English calendar. And we hope that as Providence has reserved a reformation to Your Majesty after so long and deplorable a breach, so you will be pleased to protect and encourage this tender beginning amongst us. For the winds and the storms threaten us, yet being founded upon a double rock the one of perpetuity of the Church, the other of Your Majesty's protection, we rest fearless, and resolve till it shall please our good Lord to settle it in that peace and liberty which we confidently hope for in Your Majesty's life and government. Next, we with the rest of the nation acknowledge Your Majesty's great goodness for that absolute liberty granted to all your subjects, restraining nothing but what is eternally contrary to the preservation of peace and justice.

You have only hindered confessed wickedness and violence to one another, which could not have been committed without the breach of all laws, and utter confusion.

And though you leave the duty towards God, to every conscience, yet you have herby taken off the vizard of rebellion, and manifested to all the world, that whosoever henceforth takes up arms against your power, must not pretend either reformation or religion, or injustice of the government, as an indulgence.

This, wherein Your Majesty and your co-partners have the least portion, it is, great prince, an excessive kindness to your people that yourself accepts sparingly what upon others you so bountifully bestow; as if your own interest were the least of your car. And were the nation united, your own self could be content to be neglected. It is a long time since that the wounds of this nation have been still widened by intressed persons applying only corrosives.

Your Majesty has by powering in oil and balm, begun an unction and coalition of the parts, an union at least in the concerns of the nation, though not (as we desire) an unity in religion. Yet so much of religion too, as to be at peace with one another.

And Your Majesty is now, by Your Majesty's giving warmth and vigour to these desires, making the whole nation witnesses of the sincerity of your proceedings, as well as that of your piety, prudence, and most wonderful example in all virtue becoming either a prince or even a private person. We hope your subjects will be made more cautious when they see so much of an excellent and divine spirit seconded with the power and piety of a prince.

Nor will they pretend conscience for disobedience, when they perceive him who demands to have better conscience than themselves.

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