The measures of the prevailing party in the House of Commons, in these times, appear (with the exception of their dreadful proceedings in the business of the pretended plot, and of their violence towards those who petitioned and addressed against parliament) to have been, in general, highly laudable and meritorious; and yet I am afraid it may be justly suspected that it was precisely to that part of their conduct which related to the plot, and which is most reprehensible, that they were indebted for their power to make the noble, and, in some instances, successful struggles for liberty, which do so much honour to their memory. The danger to be apprehended from military force being always, in the view of wise men, the most urgent, they first voted the disbanding of the army, and the two houses passed a bill for that purpose, to which the king found himself obliged to consent. But to the bill which followed, for establishing the regular assembling of the militia, and for providing for their being in arms six weeks in the year, he opposed his royal negative; thus making his stand upon the same point on which his father had done; a circumstance which, if events had taken a turn against him, would not have failed of being much noticed by historians. Civil securities for freedom came to be afterwards considered; and it is to be remarked, that to these times of heat and passion, and to one of those parliaments which so disgraced themselves and the nation by the countenance given to Oates and Bedloe, and by the persecution of so many innocent victims, we are indebted for the Habeas Corpus act, the most important barrier against tyranny, and best framed protection for the liberty of individuals, that has ever existed in any ancient or modern commonwealth.
But the inefficacy of mere laws in favour of the subjects, in the case of the administration of them falling into the hands of persons hostile to the spirit in which they had been provided, had been so fatally evinced by the general history of England, ever since the grant of the Great Charter, and more especially by the transactions of the preceding reign, that the parliament justly deemed their work incomplete unless the Duke of York were excluded from the succession to the crown. A bill, therefore, for the purpose of excluding that prince was prepared, and passed the House of Commons; but being vigorously resisted by the court, by the church, and by the Tories, was lost in the House of Lords. The restrictions offered by the king to be put upon a popish successor are supposed to have been among the most powerful of those means to which he was indebted for his success.