Diary of Thomas Burton Esq: Volume 1, July 1653 - April 1657. Originally published by H Colburn, London, 1828.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
December 1653 and commentary
Thursday, December 1. Mr. Lawrence reported from the Council of State, letters of safeguard, to the Prince Frederic, Heir of Norway, Duke of Sletia, Holstein, &c. which were now read in Latin and English, and agreed; and Mr. Speaker ordered to sign the same, and that it be sealed with the seal of the Parliament.
Ordered, that Sir William Roberts, and Mr. Squib, examine the person who stood at the door with a naked knife.
Friday 2. Mr. Speaker acquainted the House, that he had received a letter from the Proconsul and Consuls of the city of Dantzic. Read, and referred to the Council of State.
Monday 12. It being moved in the House this day, that the sitting of this Parliament any longer, as now constituted, will not be for the good of the Commonwealth, and that therefore it was requisite to deliver up unto the Lord General Cromwell, the powers which they received from him; and that motion being seconded by several other members, the House rose.
And the Speaker, with many members of the House, departed out of the House to Whitehall, where they, being the greater number of the members sitting in Parliament, did, by a writing under their hands, resign unto his Excellency their said powers; and Mr. Speaker, attended with the members, did present the same unto his Excellency, accordingly. (fn. 1)
This surrender of the Parliament's authority, by whatever management it had been produced, the Lord General accepted with becoming expressions of surprise and regret; even at that time, probably, not ill understood. For this unexpected event, he was so fully prepared, that four days after, a complete and comprehensive Instrument of Government, (fn. 2) indebted, no doubt, to his skill and contrivance, was ready for his acceptance. Amidst a grand ceremonial, the Lord General was inaugurated Lord Protector of England, Scotland, and Ireland; and thus proclaimed, by sound of trumpet, in the metropolis, and throughout England. (fn. 3)
Addresses to " the powers that be," were now abundant; and the Corporation of London, ever ready to improve their vicinity to a Court, flattered and feasted the Sovereign Protector; (fn. 4) as if again blessed with the presence of royalty.
A more powerful aid to his reputation, was the conclusion of a peace which the Dutch had solicited. (fn. 5) This event, which naturally tended to conciliate the people, while reviving the energies of the merchant and the artizan, was recorded by the medallists of Holland, (fn. 6) and celebrated by Oxford's learned sons. (fn. 7)
The Protector had now ruled for several months, by a Council, which emanated from his will, and was little more than a register of his edicts. He next prepared to call a Parliament, as directed by the Instrument; thus submitting to the discussions of a representative assembly, the authority and the administration of the new Government.