Diary of Thomas Burton Esq: Volume 1, July 1653 - April 1657. Originally published by H Colburn, London, 1828.
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Saturday, September 2. Being returned a burgess for the Parliament, together with Major-general Skippon, for the borough of King's Lynn, and the Parliament being to begin the 3d of September, (fn. 1) which fell out to be the Sabbath-day, I came up to London upon that service the day before, being Saturday, the 2d of September; and in order to the service I came about, I was informed that I was to receive a ticket from the Clerk of the Commonwealth in Chancery, certifying the approbation of my election, which, accordingly, I received upon that day.
Sunday 3. We met in the House, according to our sum mons, and there was an appearance of above three hundred members. But we met not there until after evening sermon, which was preached in St. Margarett's, Westminster, by Mr. Marshall.
About four or five of the clock, when the House grew pretty full, some discourse was moved (not concerning the lawfulness of our meeting on that day,) but how far it might be lawful (being met) to sit upon that day, by the word of God: and some, through pretence of conscience, other some, through impatience, would presently have risen and adjourned; (as if the very adjournment had not been as sinful an accommodation, as any they could do,) but General Lambert coming into the House, and acquainting them, that his Highness the Lord Protector was in the Fainted Chamber, and expected us there, to speak with us, it broke off those little discourses, and the House, (though some cried " sit still,") went to attend his Highness's pleasure.
Where being come, and his Highness standing bare upon a state raised for that purpose, he only told us, that we were summoned to meet as the Parliament of the three nations, upon that day: but, in regard of the day there was little of business that could be then done. (fn. 2) He therefore desired that the next day, being Monday, we would meet him, first, at a sermon in the Abbey Church, and after that, in the same Painted Chamber, where he would then communicate such things as he had in his thoughts to communicate to us, and so dismissed us.
After which, we returned to the House, and without more doing, adjourned till the next morning. (fn. 3)
Monday 4. We met at the Abbey Church, the Lord Protector being attended with three maces, and the sword of state, which was carried by General Lambert. (fn. 4)
Mr. Thomas Goodwin, (fn. 5) a native of Lynn, preached the sermon. After sermon we met, according to former appointment, in the Fainted Chamber, where the Lord Protector, in a full discourse, (fn. 6) set forth the condition of the nation, both in civil and ecclesiastical concernments, before this last change of the Government; what had been done and effected since, and what more may be desired to be done, in order to a firm and settled foundation of future establishment, which, he plainly intimated, could not be expected or hoped for, either from the Levellers, (fn. 7) who would introduce a party in civils, nor from the Sectaries, who would cry down all order and government in spirituals; (fn. 8) and concluded with some gracious expressions, which gave satisfaction and applause, in general.
This being done, he gave a freedom to choose a Speaker. (fn. 9) Whereupon, we returned to the House, and set first upon that work. But Mr. Scobell, who had received a patent from the old Parliament, to be Clerk during his life, and the Serjeant at the Mace, being then both in the House, it was thought fit that they should first be ordered to withdraw the House, and not to come in upon any pretence of tide, until they were chosen and commanded by the House.
They being withdrawn accordingly, the House applied themselves to the choice of the Speaker. The first man named, was Mr. Lenthall, the same that had served the Parliament so long before, in the same employment. (fn. 10) Something was said to excuse him, by reason of his former services, and something objected, as if he had served so long, that he had been outworn. But, in fine, in regard of his great experience and knowledge of the order of that House, and dexterity in the guidance of it, he was unanimously called to the Chair, and two members were desired to attend him to it.
That being done, the House made choice of their Clerk and Serjeant, which were the same that were ordered before to withdraw, and an admonition given to the Clerk for his former presumption, to intrude into that place before he was chosen, (fn. 11) the House generally disallowing of all patent officers in that House.
The next thing done was to appoint a fast, which was ordered accordingly, at the Church, the place of public worship, some being of a different judgment. (fn. 12)
That being settled, (fn. 13) and an Act read, (according to ancient Order, (fn. 14) whereby the House stood possessed,) which Act was against the election of officers taking place upon the Sabbath day, and against fairs and markets kept, or published upon that day, the House adjourned until the next day, at eight of the dock.
After that, they fell, according to order, to make their Committees; the first of which, was that of Privileges, which being made, and their names read, some occasion was taken by some members to tell us that, until that time, they had not so much as heard the name of my Lord Protector within those walls, and intimating, as if there had been some reflections upon the Government, which, although it were an occasion not so well taken, nor so seasonable at that time, yet, being a matter conceived necessary in order to a right understanding at first, especially in that which they conceived to be a foundation, and not to be denied; they therefore, (from Court, especially, and from the soldiery and lawyers,) pressed hard, that the Government, or Instrument of Government, might be speedily taken into consideration, and some return made to my Lord Protector, of thankfulness for his late speech.
The debate concerning those things held until three of the clock, the other part affirming the motion was out of order, in regard by the ancient orders, Committees, especially their general Committees of Privileges, which concern the being, and of religion, grievances, and courts of justice, which concern the well-being of the Parliament, ought, in the first place, to have been settled. And, in truth, it was thought a little too precipitate, in regard it was in the infancy of the Parliament, before the House was full, or the members come up, to propose a thing of that weight, which, probably, was the greatest which could fall before us in judgment. And, besides, it was to anticipate the fast, and in a manner to mock God, that having appointed that solemnity on purpose to seek God's direction and council in these weighty affairs of the nation, which should come before us, especially in the establishment of them upon sure foundations, we should first lay the main foundation without him, and then ask his counsel. Notwithstanding it was voted in the affirmative, both that the question should be put for putting of the question; and that the Government should be the first business should be taken into consideration the next morning. (fn. 15)
The same day, in the afternoon, I attended the Committee of Privileges, of which myself was one, (fn. 16) where, according to former orders, double returns and indentures were first called upon, and the indentures ordered to be brought in by the Clerk of the Chancery, the next day, and some petitions were read.
Wednesday 6. The House being met, and the order for taking the Government into consideration being first read, it was moved by some, that there was something that lay in the way which might hinder the freedom of that debate, namely, an Ordinance, so called, made by the Lord Protector and his council, (fn. 17) whereby it was made High Treason for any man to speak against the present Government. (fn. 18)
Which occasioned many discourses concerning the freedom of speech in Parliament, it being alleged, that that was the first-born privilege of Parliament, and the very heart-strings of it. In fine, it was so allowed on all sides, and that no law or power from without could impeach any member, for any syllable spoke within those walls, and that those precedents of Queen Elizabeth's, King James's, and the late King's times, were all illegal, and not to be drawn into a law.
But if any thing be spoken amiss, it must be questioned by the House, and in the House only, and that, presently, before any other debate intervene; yet not before such member hath fully concluded his speech; because, probably, what one shall speak in one part of a speech, he may either qualify or interpret, in another part.
But yet it was moved, for some men's securities, and to satisfy their jealousies and fears who received any umbrage from that Ordinance, that it might be declared by the House, that, notwithstanding that Ordinance, the House was free to debate the Government. But it was objected, that to question their freedom would be to lose it or to weaken it, and to question that which was never doubted, but attested by the known law and privilege of Parliament, and therefore, could not be strengthened by such a declaration as was desired. Which, if in truth any would offer to impeach, by violence from without, it could receive no sanctuary nor advantage at all from such a declaration. Therefore, after many hours' debate, that being put to the question, whether such a Declaration should be made by the House, it was carried in the negative by the major vote. The House being divided, above one hundred and eighty were for the negative, and about one hundred and thirty for the affirmative. (fn. 19)
That being settled, the House would have fallen upon putting the main point of the Government to the question, but that was overruled, in regard it had not received its full debate. Then it was pressed, that the debate might presently be entered into, but, in regard it was then three of the clock, (fn. 20) the House were of opinion to enter no further into the debate of it that day, but only so far as to possess the House, that so, when it should come on the next day, by adjournment, nothing might interpose to interrupt it. Which being agreed unto, and the question stated, namely, whether the Government by a single person and a Parliament, should be approved of, the House, for that day, adjourned. (fn. 21)
Thursday 7. This day, the House being met, it was propounded, that for the freer debate of the great question, stated the day before, the House might be turned into a Committee of the House, which was strongly opposed, and being put to the question, it was carried in the affirmative. (fn. 22)
The debate of the main question was taken up and continued from eight or nine o'clock in the morning until about seven of the clock the same night, and adjourned over, until the next morning. The Long Parliament, an Iron (fn. 23) Parliament, a Trading (fn. 23) Parliament.
Much debate was about the word " approving" in the question, as if it were not Parliamentary, nor for the honour of the House, to approve of any thing which takes not its foundation and rise from themselves.
It was pressed, likewise, that there might be a transposition of some few words. Instead of " a single person and a Parliament," they would have " the Parliament" preferred, and the words stand, " that the Government should be in the Parliament of the people of England, &c.; and a single person, qualified with such instructions as the Parliament should think fit." Which last words were exceedingly pressed to be added; and plainly, the generality of voices and sense of the House seemed to incline that way. (fn. 24)
Friday 8. The House this morning, with great difficulty (fn. 25), adjourned itself into a Grand Committee, about the debate of the former question, Mr. Bacon being again called to the Chair. The arguments were high and hot; and plainly there was a receding from former principles on all hands.
Those who argued for the Parliament alone, and the freedom and privileges of Parliament, had been the greatest and highest infringers of the freedom and privileges of the Great and Long Parliament of any; (fn. 26) and those who argued highest for the single person, and the Parliament, were such, and almost only such, as had fought and aided the greatest things that ever were acted in this nation under the contrary principle; namely, under the power of the Parliament alone; and that not only when there was a king in being, and without his consent, but expressly contrary unto it.
But the differences seemed so wide, the contest so hot, and the struggling so violent on both sides, as there seemed hitherto no hope of any fair agreement. And, indeed, the soldiery and courtiers, by whom the single person's interest was chiefly carried on, did not forbear to speak it out; that there was a necessity for it; it must be so; and that though many fair words were given my Lord Protector, yet it could not be expected that he would lay down his sword, and subject himself to the will of a Parliament, wherein he should be denied equal power and co-ordination, or to that effect.
This debate having continued until seven of the clock in the evening, with an adjournment for an hour at noon to refresh ourselves, was then broke up; and the House adjourned until next morning, at eight of the clock.
Saturday 9. The House being met, with some dispute it was adjourned again into a Grand Committee; the Court party persisting hard to keep it in the House. (fn. 27)
It now began to be visible, that the interest of the single person did plainly lose ground; for not only the word "approved" was disrelished on all hands, but they began to break the question, and to distinguish the word " Government" into the legislative power and the executive power. The first was generally thought, with all the reason in the world, to be the right of the Parliament alone, without communicating the least part of it to any single person in the world. This they conceived was the ancient right and fundamental privilege of the people. (fn. 28) But, as to the executive part of it, that was conceived communicable; and indeed, not exercisable by the Parliament.
Therefore, there seemed to be a general intimation, to invest that single person with that, and with such amplifications of honour and other qualifications, (though not without restrictions in that too,) as might render him very conspicuous to the world, and testify the great obligations which the English nation had to his virtues.
These words were extremely catching to the generality of the House, and seemed to have so much of reason with them, as could not rationally be gainsayed. Only, for the prevention of some few mischiefs, as perpetuating of Parliaments, and the present disposing of the militia, the Court party did conceive in these respects, it might be necessary to have a check, as they called it, upon a Parliament; and that some single person should be admitted into co-ordination, at least, in things with the Parliament, which seemed not then to be much opposed. So as the House, after having sat until eight of the clock at night, with an hour's refreshing at noon, adjourned, with some hopes and expectations of an agreement, until Monday morning. But then, it did appear, that to yield in any case gives advantage and heart to the adverse party.
Sunday 10. The parsons generally prayed for the Parliament to strengthen their hands and enlarge their hearts; to send them that had wisdom, zeal; and them that had zeal, wisdom; but not much concerning the. single person; as was observed.
Monday 11. The House being met, and opportunity taken about something that fell from the parson that prayed this morning, (fn. 29) it was moved that something should be done as to matter of religion. And, in order thereunto, it was resolved, that the several members of each county, should present the name of one godly and able minister of the Gospel for each county, to be approved of by the House, who should meet together, and present their advice to the Parliament, in such points only as the Parliament should propose to them; (fn. 30) the names to be presented upon Friday next.
The fast, which was appointed to be kept, as upon Wedhes day next, both for the House, and the cities of London and Westminster, &c. and a Declaration ordered for that purpose, which had been prepared many days ago, and often tendered unto the House; but in regard of the great debate it could not be received, so as formal notice thereof could not be given abroad, as might be expected, was resolved to be kept by the House upon the same day. But liberty was left unto the city and all others, to do as they saw cause.
These things being settled, the House, not without some opposition, was resolved again into a Grand Committee to debate the former question; wherein the House did proceed with a great deal of ingenuity, modesty, and candour; and this cannot be denied, but fit to be remembered to all ages. It was agreed on all hands, even by the soldiers, courtiers, judges, Commissioners of the Seal, and generally, by all the Long Robe; (fn. 31) that in the consideration of this question, two things were to be considered of, verum, et bonum.
The verum, that is, the truth of it was, that the legislative power was in the House of Commons, in Parliament alone, and so was acknowledged and settled. But for the bonum of it, whether it were now convenient or expedient, per hic et nunc. That was very advisable. The arguments on both sides, were rationally and prudentially urged.
They who were for the joining of a single person, in co-ordination with the Parliament, did it chiefly upon this ground of reason, that, if the supreme legislative power should rest only in the Parliament, they might have opportunities to perpetuate themselves as the old Parliament did; (fn. 32) upon which account, and for other things, much dirt and unsavoury speech was cast upon it. (fn. 33) Besides, the Parliament, which judges all others, if it should offend, must be the only judge of its own offences. For those reasons, they thought it fit that there should be a check upon the Parliament; something to control it, which must be the negative voice of some single person, as it is in the Instrument of Government, which negative voice was said to be not a positive negative. for there were only twenty days respite, (fn. 34) (as to most things,) which was only a time for deliberation and advice. Only as to the co-ordination of the single person, that was indeed absolute, as they said it ought to be, in regard it was the very foundation, and foundations were not to be altered or removed. That this was the natural constitution, and most suitable to the governing of the nation, and " other foundation could no man lay ." (fn. 35)
And lastly, a necessity; wherein they did not forbear to tell us plainly, that it must be so; that my Lord Protector must not be thought, that ever he would part with that power which he conceived was so fully in him. At least, it was extremely convenient, that we should in this comply with his Highness, it being a foundation he had laid, and now not to be disputed.
2. That to join any thing in co-ordination with it, would be to set up two supremes, that would always check one the other, and have several interests, and several affections, and ends, and, by consequence, would never be at peace.
5. That the experience of the inconvenience of that government had caused the nation to alter it, and to settle it in the Parliament; and that they have been in possession of this government by a Parliament, in the way of a Commonwealth, for some years last past.
6. That the providences of God are like a two-edged sword, which may be used both ways; and God in his providence, doth often permit of that which he doth not approve; and a thief may make as good a title to every purse which he takes by the highways.
8. That the addresses and approbation of the country were not in reference to the present government, as formerly established, in a single person and a Parliament, but to congratulate the present deliverance out of those extremities and confusions, which the little convention or assembly (fn. 36) were putting upon us, as being sensible that any government for the present were better, until it shall please God, in his due time, to bring us through many shakings to a steady foundation: wherein, they looked upon him (fn. 37) generally, as a great instrument; but not as the root or fountain of a steady and fixed government.
9. For the indenture, that was calculated at Court; and if it had not been sent down, it had never been sent up. Besides, the clause itself was void, no restrictions being to be laid upon the supreme government, which was supposed to be in the Parliament; and the people, when they had conferred their trust, could not limit their trustees, because they represented them; whereby, both as to number and power, and whatsoever they jointly or singly might do, those trustees, who represented them, might do the same.
Besides, the legislative power was supposed to be a right so inherent in the people as they could not give it away, much less could their representatives. And an indenture can estopp only such as are parties, and where an interest is also conferred; but here was no interest conferred by the indentures, only a deputation or a bure authority. And it was considerable, that those who did seal to the indenture, they were not, perhaps, the thythe of those persons who were the electors, and therefore could bind no other but the parties to the indentures.
Besides, those who did choose and had voice in the elections, and had right of voice were not considerable, in proportion to those who had no voice nor right in elections; as women, children, persons unqualified, who yet are bound up by what the representatives shall do, and have a common right and interest in the liberty and freedom of the people; and therefore, cannot be concluded by what the electors shall do, in binding or restraining those who are the trustees and intrusted, as well for them that did not and could not elect, as for those other that did.
10. Lastly. That the necessity was not apparent, but that it was an easy matter to pretend a necessity, and then to make use of it. For the conveniency of compliance, it was agreed on all hands, to comply, as far as the just interests of the people would permit; and the giving of him the sole executive power, and making of him the supreme single person in the nation, would be a fair testimony of those respects and compliance with him.
That the foundation of the government of this nation was laid long since, and asserted in the late Parliament, by which so many things were built and destroyed, as it would not find an easy faith in another age; and if that foundation were not good, the Parliament, and all that acted with it, since the time that the King first left it, were the greatest and most infamous regicides and murtherers, and villains in the world. That no man that sat there that had acted in any capacity, especially the soldiery, (who were most violent for the contrary opinion,) could be justified upon any other account.
Much more was said on both sides, as to the conveniences and inconveniences of either government, and it was disputed as if they had been in the schools, where each man had liberty to propose his own Utopia, and to frame commonwealths according to his own fancy, as if we had been in republica constituenda and not in republica constituta.
At length, the more moderate sort on both sides were willing to propound expedients; and, accordingly, it was propounded by them who were for the co-ordination of a single person, that there might be a check, as they called it, upon the Parliament, as to the legislative power in some few things.
As to all other things, they were contented to leave the legislative power entire to the Parliament, so as the executive power might be wholly in the sole person; with such qualifications, restrictions, and instructions, as it should receive from the Parliament.
Those who were for the Parliament alone, would have the Parliament at least to have the precedency, that is, that the Government should be in the Parliament and a single person, limited and restrained as the Parliament should think fit. Which was proposed, in effect, by Mr. Justice Hale, (fn. 38) and the sense and opinion of the House, ran generally that way. After debating of it that day, until eight of the clock at night, the House adjourned, with a reasonable good understanding one of another, as appeared by outward construction. The adjournment being made until eight of the clock next morning, and most men's thoughts were much satisfied with hopes and expectations of good success.
Tuesday 12. This morning news was brought to the Herald's Office, where I lay, with my brother Bish, (fn. 39) that the Parliament House was dissolved, and that, for certain, the Council of State and Council of War, had sat together all the Sabbath-day before, and had then contrived this dissolution. Notwithstanding, I was resolved to go to Westminster, to satisfy myself of the truth, and to take my share of what I should see or learn there.
Going by water to Westminster, I was told that the Parliament doors were locked up and guarded with soldiers, and the barges were to attend the Protector to the Painted Chamber. As I went, I saw two barges at the Privy Stairs. Being come to the Hall, I was confirmed in what I had heard. Nevertheless, I did purpose not to take things merely upon trust, but would receive an actual repulse, to confirm my faith.
Accordingly, I attempted up the Parliament-stairs, but there was a guard of soldiers, who told me there was no passage that way; that the House was locked up, and command given to give no admittance to any. That, if I were a member, I might go into the Painted Chamber, where the Protector would presently be.
The mace was taken away by Commissary-general Whalley. The Speaker and all the members were walking up and down the Hall, the Court of Bequests, and the Painted Chamber, expecting the Protector's coming; the passages there, being likewise guarded with soldiers.
The Protector coming about ten of the clock, attended with his officers, life-guard, and halberds, he took his place upon the scaffold, where it was before, and made a speech of about an hour and a-half long. (fn. 40) Wherein he did not forbear to tell us, that he did expect and hope for better fruit and effect of our last meeting in that place than he had yet found; that he perceived there was a necessity upon him to magnify, as he called it, his office. He told us a large series of the providences of God and the suffrages of the people, which were so many witnesses, evidences, and seals, of his calling to the government, and which did cause him to put a greater value upon his title so derived, than upon the broken hereditary title of any prince whatsover. (fn. 41) That having received his office from God and from the people, he was resolved never to part with it, until God and the people should take it from him.
That it could not be expected, when he told us before, that we were a free Parliament, that he meant it otherwise free than as it should act under that government. That those pitiful forwardnesses and peevishnesses, which were abroad, he valued no more than the motes in the sun. But that the Parliament should now dispute his office under whose authority we were then met, was a great astonishment to him.
He told us, he had ordered the Parliament doors to be locked up and guarded, and had appointed an officer to take subscriptions to a recognition of his authority; which being done might give us an entrance. (fn. 42) Which being said, we were dismissed about eleven o'clock.
His party, that is, courtiers and officers of the army, and some others, presently subscribed. Before they adjourned, which was about twelve of the clock, there were about one hundred subscriptions; which being entered, they sent for the Speaker, who came, subscribed, entered, and adjourned until two of the clock.
In the mean time, the rest of the members consulted one another's judgments. 1 went to see what it was that we were to subscribe unto. It was written in a long piece of parchment in these words, or to that effect, viz:—
"I do hereby freely promise and engage, that I will be true and faithful to the Lord Protector and the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland, and that according to the tenor of the indentures whereby I am returned to serve in this present Parliament, I will not propose, or consent to alter the government as it is settled in a sole person and the Parliament." (fn. 43)
Our Norfolk members (fn. 44) did not presently subscribe, saving only Mr. Frere, who instantly subscribed it. The rest of our members did most of us dine together, purposely to consult what was fittest to be done in so great an exigent, in order to the discharge of our trust. And, truly, the subscription was, in effect, no more than what we were restrained unto by our Indentures, and the thing would be done with, out us, and we had fairly contended for it: we had not given the question, but it was forced from us, and we were told that plainly it must be so. For these and several other considerations and reasons, which we thought ought to prevail with men preferring the peace of our countries and the safety of our people immediately concerned in this affair, before passions and humours, we thought fit rather to give way to the present necessity, and to comply with it by submitting than refusing. Accordingly we did subscribe, all except Mr. Woodhouse, Mr. Hobart, and Mr. Church. And although we condemn the breach of privilege as much as any, yet we doubt not but to acquit ourselves to God, and to our country, in so doing, rather than to put the nation into another combustion and confusion.
After we had subscribed, we went into the House, and after some expressions of tenderness and respects to our fellow members without, we adjourned until Thursday morning; the next day, Wednesday, being the Fast.
Wednesday 13. The Fast was kept at St. Margaret's. There most of all our members met. Mr. Marshall, (fn. 45) Mr. Goodwyn, (fn. 46) and Dr. Cheynell, (fn. 47) preached; and after sermon the members met and consulted one another, to give and receive satisfaction.
Major General Harrison was secured the day before, out of some prudential jealousies of heading, as I conceive, any discontented party. (fn. 48)
Thursday 14. This day the House met. Ordered thanks to be returned to the preachers, but the sermons were not ordered (upon debate) to be printed, in regard of some inconveniences that had been found in it.
A Committee (fn. 49) was ordered forthwith to draw up a Declaration, for the satisfaction of our fellow members that were not yet come in: namely, that it was not intended by any thing in our former subscription, to preclude or restrain ourselves from the examining or altering of any of the articles in the Instrument of Government, saving only that of the first article of settling the government in a sole person and the Parliament.
Which being done accordingly, and voted, (fn. 50) the House adjourned until next morning at eight of the clock.
Friday 15. This day, the House being met, something was debated about the bringing in of the names of some ministers for advising in matters of religion, (fn. 51) but in regard the House was not yet filled, and they did daily expect the return of those members, the consideration of that was put off until another day.
Then they fell into consideration of those absent members, and of doing something for their satisfaction. Many expedients were propounded, but after much debate it was thought most advisable to do nothing more than what had already been done in it, it being thought fit that they should all come in, upon the foot of the same account that we did who were already come in. But much respect and tenderness was shown unto them, and it was not yet thought fit to impose anything upon them, or to limit them to any time.
Thereupon, the House, having before ordered the Instrument of Government to be brought into the House, it was now ordered to be read, that so the House might be possessed of it, and the further consideration thereof to be put off until Monday morning.
It was then moved by the Lord Commissioner Whitlock, that in regard of the many exorbitances, both in the powers and the proceedings of the judges at Salter's Hall, that Act concerning the relief of creditors (fn. 52) might be referred unto a Committee, with power to send for persons, papers, and records. It was moved, that in the mean time they might be suspended from any further proceedings, but that last was not thought so parliamentary, to suspend the proceedings of any judges, upon a bare motion or complaint, until something should appear upon due proof.
It was also desired that the act concerning marriages (fn. 53) might be taken into consideration, in regard of many inconveniences which might hereafter happen, in matter of bastardy, by reason of the many circumstances required by the Act to the validity of a lawful marriage, which in future ages may prove very uncertain and difficult to prove.
Both these before-mentioned acts were referred to a Committee, (fn. 54) to consider of them and to report to the House their opinions of them, and then the House to give further respite and time of consideration to the absent members, adjourned until Monday next.
Saturday 16. This day I went to Boys, with my brother Green, (fn. 55) intending to stay there two or three days. It was Wednesday the 20th before I returned.
Thursday 21. I found that the House had, before then, resolved the first article of the government, namely, that the legislative authority should be in a single person and the Parliament, (fn. 56) with some proviso of putting checks upon both, as should be afterwards advised.
Now, this day, it was resolved that Parliaments should be triennial, and not be dissolved in six months, without their own consent; that, in case of any emergent necessity to continue the Parliament any longer, that should be done by Act of Parliament, the time of such continuance not to exceed three months, in which Act the Lord Protector should have his negative voice. And that accidental Parliaments should not continue above three months, without a like Act of Parliament, when the Protector was also to have his negative voice.
Friday 22. The fourth article of the Government, concerning the militia, was taken into consideration, and it was resolved that the present Lord Protector, during his life, the Parliament sitting, with the consent of Parliament, and not otherwise, shall dispose and employ the forces both by sea and land for the peace and good of the three nations. Accordingly, a letter was presented to the Speaker, from the Lord Protector, wherein he did acquaint the House that there was an opportunity offered for the employment of some of the forces, especially by sea, for the advantage of the Commonwealth, the design whereof was well known to some of our members (meaning those of the Council,) and if we so pleased, it should be communicated to us. But it being moved that such designs, if they should be discovered, were more than half prevented, thereupon it was thought fit, and so resolved, that that design should be wholly left to the management of the Lord Protector, to be carried on by him for the good of the Commonwealth.
Saturday 23. The second part of the fourth article, should, according to order, have been taken into debate. But in regard it had reference to a Council, and no Council was yet settled, it was therefore thought fit to leave that debate and to fall upon the second article, which concerns the Council. Which was done, and accordingly resolved:—
It was afterwards moved, that the Ordinance concerning the ejecting of scandalous and ignorant ministers be taken into consideration, in regard that some of the powers were thought unreasonable, and the Commissioners named, very incompetent. Accordingly it was referred to a Committee, to consider of it, and to report to the House their sense and opinion of it.
Afterwards, the Speaker left the chair, and the House resolved itself into a Grand Committee, upon the debate of the Articles of Government, and fell upon that part of it which concerns the Council where they left on Saturday, and voted that the number of the Council shall not exceed twenty-one, of which number nine shall make a Council to act anything as a Council.
Tuesday 26. The Speaker presently left the chair, and the House resolved itself into a Grand Committee upon the former debate, and fell in pursuance of the former debates concerning the Council, to debate the continuance of the Council, and resolved accordingly that no person to be chosen of the Council shall continue longer than forty days after the meeting of each succeeding Parliament, without a new approbation by the Parliament.
Having thus far settled the Council, it was thought fit to resume the debate upon the fourth article, concerning the settling of the standing forces in the intervals of Parliament, and did forthwith resolve that the present Lord Protector, during his life, with consent and advice of the Council, and not otherwise, shall dispose and employ the forces of this Commonwealth for the good of the same in the intervals of Parliament.
Which being done, some would have resorted back again to the business of the Council, and put a full period to that. Others conceived that that debate was at first taken up only in order to the settling of the standing forces in the intervals of Parliament, which being done, they desired to fall upon the other negatives, which was proposed to be, next, in matters of religion. But the standing forces having been in part settled, and it being alleged that in point of good husbandry it would be fit for us to take the consideration of the present forces into debate, in regard it was apprehended that many of them might possibly be abated, and so the taxes, in some proportion, at least eased. This sounded so plausibly in every man's ear, as it was soon embraced, and consequently they fell upon the thirtieth article, and resolved that the standing forces of this Commonwealth shall be such and no more than shall be agreed upon, from time to time, by the present Lord Protector and the Parliament. And for the better satisfaction of the House, both as to the number and manner of the pay, a Committee was ordered to consider of this business, and to attend the Lord Protector in it, and to report to the House: of which Committee Sir John Hobart had the chair.
Wednesday 27. The Speaker being sat, the Bill for subscribing the Recognition was brought in, with the amendments. These were read, and the Bill re-committed. After, the House resolved into a Grand Committee concerning the government, and began the debate with the second article.
Resolved, that the exercise of the Chief Magistracy, over the countries of England, Scotland, and Ireland, and the dominions, &c. shall be in the Lord Protector, assisted with a Council, according to the laws, and such limitations as should be agreed upon in Parliament.
Thursday, 28. This day, the House proceeded, in a Grand Committee, with the debate upon the third article of the Government, and resolved that all writs and process, &c. should run in the name and style of the Lord Protector of England, Scotland, and Ireland, &c. and that all such honours as should hereafter be conferred, should be derived from the Lord Protector, (fn. 57) but that no titles of honour hereafter to be so conferred, should be hereditary, without consent of Parliament; and that he should not have power to pardon murther.
That the benefit of all forfeitures, or confiscations, not already granted or lawfully vested, or disposed to any other person or persons, bodies politic or corporate, shall belong to my Lord Protector, according to the laws, and as shall be agreed upon in Parliament.
This day, the Lord Protector escaped a great danger, from his coach-box. (fn. 58)
Saturday 30. Resolved, that the Lord Protector, with the advice and consent of the major part of the Council, shall have power in all things to hold and keep correspondences with foreign kings, princes, and states.
The House now fell upon debate, whether the Lord Protector, with the Council, should not have power to make war and peace. The debate being long, and the House divided in opinion, it was adjourned until Monday morning. (fn. 59)