Diary of Thomas Burton Esq: Volume 2, April 1657 - February 1658. Originally published by H Colburn, London, 1828.
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Saturday, June 20, 1657.
Mr. Speaker declared for the Yeas; nobody excepted. The man was gone to the door and the bar laid down; yet the mace was called back again, and the House went on with other business without any question: an express breach of the orders. (fn. 1)
The proviso for Sir John Barkstead (fn. 2) was read the first and second time, and passed without any debate.
The debate held till one, and the provisos and the Bill being put, the question passed, &c. (fn. 3)
Colonel Jones and Mr. Secretary. You should in this time, apply yourselves to public business; to wit, that of assessments, and in relation to the Petition and Advice. All the members should be enjoined, in the mean time, to attend, under a penalty.
Lord Whitlock. Penalties have been very frequent, as in the Long Parliament; sometimes 40l., sometimes 20l; and it is no dishonour to you. I doubt, unless you put a penalty, you will hardly have so full a House as the necessity of the business requires. I am sorry to see the neglect of some members in being so long from their trust.
Providentially, it was resolved; (fn. 4) and the House adjourned till four o'clock.
Colonel Gorges stood up, and reported accordingly. Every article thereof was agreed. (fn. 5)
Major-General Kelsey, the Master of the Rolls, Sir William Strickland, and Major Burton cried him down to the orders of the House, and moved, that the ingrossed Bill for the Lord's Day might be read; and the same was read accordingly.
It was moved, to alter the time of prosecution from six months to one month; which was done accordingly at the table. (fn. 6)
Colonel Holland. We have but too many penal laws, and one hundred clauses of that kind may well be repealed. These laws are always turned upon the most godly. This is very strict, as to that of unnecessary walking (fn. 7) and coming into men's houses. The last Bill for the Lord's Day, I remember, was passed on a Saturday, and carried on with great zeal. (fn. 8). Then I told them they had tied men from coming to church by water or coach. Next day, I, coming to Somerset House to sermon, had my boat and waterman laid hold on for the penalty.
I heard you, the other day, deliver a doctrine, that a man might speak to any part of an ingrossed Bill to be amended. I have known it once, and a Bill cut in pieces at the table to be amended. The Bill cannot be amended; so I would have it laid aside.
Lord Chief-Justice Glynn. I move against the clause for entering into men's houses. (fn. 9) It may be a snare to all the nation; and knaves, in the night-time, may enter and rob men's houses under this pretence. When an Act of Parliament gives a liberty of entry, then a man may break open doors.
Mr. Godfrey moved a proviso, to limit the officers' entry only to taverns, inns, ale-houses, tobacco-shops, victuallinghouses, or tippling-houses; wherewith the Lord Chief-Justice was satisfied. (fn. 10)
Mr. Vincent and Colonel Chadwick were not satisfied with the proviso. It was too short; for, now a-days, the greatest disorders were in private houses, by sending thither for drink: drinking in ale-houses being both more penal and suspicious.
Lord Whitlock. I am against all liberty of this kind, to enter men's houses. The law has been always tender of men's houses. I would not have the people of England enslaved. I know not what, the consequence may be. I would have these words added, " or demand entry."
Mr. Grove. If you admit this proviso, you give liberty to private houses to be as profane as they please. I hope you intend zealously for God in this thing. You give liberty of entry for every petty felony which concerns man. Why should you not be as zealous for God and his day ?
Mr. West. I except against the words in the Bill, " idle sitting, openly, at gates or doors, or elsewhere;" and " walking in church-yards, &c." Let a man be in what posture he will, your penalty finds him.
Lord Whitlock was against these words, and said— (fn. 11)
Mr. Godfrey. I move to leave out the words " profane and idle sitting;" for this joins issue between the officer and the party, and puts a plea in the party's mouth which is not triable. He will say, he is talking or meditating about good things. I would have the word "elsewhere" left out, for I know not how far this may reach.
Major-General Whalley. God requires not these things of us. We must take heed to adding to the commandment of God. If you put this clause, you deprive men of the very livelihood they have by the air; as at Nottingham, many people that have houses in the rock, and have no air, live most part of their time without doors.
Mr. Bodurda. This clause is too short of what is intended by those that would have it. Some persons have not conveniency to sit at doors; so I would have you add more to it, viz. " leaning or standing at doors."
Mr. Vincent. Though the law seems a little strict in this clause, yet this clause is not to be derided. I cannot think such sitting at doors, as is usual, can be a sanctification of the Lord's day. I would have the question divided. First put it upon, working, and then upon sitting at doors.
The Master of the Rolls. This has been debated in Parliament before now, and it has not been found convenient to have such a clause. In some parts of this city, unless people have liberty to sit at doors, you deprive them of most of the air they have all the week, and destroy their children.
Lord Chief-Justice. (Quatenus ipsum.) It is most certain that there is no unlawfulness or guilt in single sitting at doors. It must be the same as within doors. It is but intended for example's sake. May not a godly man that lives in a rock, as that worthy commoner tells you, yet be well employed. You put a negative pregnant upon a man, to say that sitting at the door is more profane than standing; so there is no such derision in that. It may cause discord, and prying amongst neighbours, into the actions of one another. And this is still left in the judgment of constables and headboroughs, who are generally bad, all the nation over. If there be any defect in this Act, another Parliament may mend it. You have reformed some things which other Parliaments fall short in.
Colonel Briscoe. As much as is required by man, is not to every punctilio, as God's law is. Man's law must not be too severe, but rational; that men may be convinced of the reason of it. I would not have laws too rigid.
Major-General Disbrowe. There are other exceptions to the Bill, and scarce a consistency in sense. I would have it laid aside, at present, lest, whilst providing against profaning the Lord's day, we put ourselves in a capacity to profane it ourselves.
Sir William Strickland. If you leave this unsupported, this may be. I doubt it will not be done this sessions. Respecting that you have but four days time, and so much business. I would have this done cum grano salis, that it may bide the test of those that are profaners of the day, or that dispute about the day.
Major-General Disbrowe. To satisfy you that I have scruples, I shall tell you the first, as to the time. It is not yet determined whether the sabbath-day begins at twelve o'clock on Saturday night. (fn. 12)
Colonel Holland. I am not satisfied in the time. Divers godly precious people are unsatisfied about the institution of the day. (fn. 13) And as to time, it is likewise scrupled by many godly men, who think that only twelve hours is the sabbathday. It is rejoicing of the heart in observing a day to the Lord. It is better than one thousand days, to be pinned up in a place. I was once when I would have gone to six or seven sermons on a day. I am not so now. I do not make so much conscience of it now, but do think that I may serve God as well at home with godly servants and other people. I am for the observation of a day as much as any man; and though there were no precept for it, every man by nature is tied to it. I would have it adjourned.
Colonel Winthorpe. I move to adjourn the debate. We were well warned by the abortiveness of another Bill as good; I shall not make comparisons, for want, haply, of a little time or patience to hear all members speak. I have heard no answer to the objections offered.
The debate held so late that a candle was called in; (fn. 14) and, after a while, the Bill was agreed to pass, and ordered to be ingrossed.