The Diary of Thomas Burton: 27 January 1658-9

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Diary of Thomas Burton Esq: Volume 3, January - March 1659. Originally published by H Colburn, London, 1828.

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Thursday, January 27, 1658–9.

The Parliament began at Westminster.

Dr. Thomas Goodwin (fn. 1) preached at the Abbey, where his Highness and the Lords sat together, and the House of Commons, sparsim. (fn. 2) His text, Psalm lxxxv. 10; (fn. 3) his scope, heal ing, inciting to unity, and to mix mercy and truth, righteousness and peace together: to give liberty for erroneous consciences; but not so much encouragement as to true professors, &c.

A Quaker got near the pulpit and spoke a deal of nonsense (the sermon done), and his Highness paused a little till he had done.

The sermon ended about one o'clock. His Highness went to the Lords' House, where the Lords being all placed; and a great many Commons, sparsim, at the bar amongst strangers; the Lord Chamberlain, Lord Comptroller, and Black Rod and Heralds, cleared the room; save only for some known Members that stayed, and some that would not go out by their command; as Colonel Matthews, &c.

They say there were about 150 Members sitting in the House, while his Highness was speaking in the other House, and that the Black Rod went for them, but they came not. Mr. Scobell (fn. 4) said we should have come there, as a House of Parliament.

His Highness made a very handsome speech, (fn. 5) in order to his father's memory, his esteem of Parliaments, his own being settled by God's providence and the law. He called the army the best army in the world, from their patience in not mutinying for their pay: (fn. 6) invited us to unity, and referred the business of money, particularly, to the House of Commons. He would spend his life for and with the Parliament as that wherein his and the nation's principal safety consisted, and they should see his readiness to attend to any thing that they should offer as advice to him. He left the rest to be said by Lord-keeper Fiennes.

Lord Fiennes said, (fn. 7) what can he say but the same thing, that is, to speak after a King; so I, after his Highness, can only echo it over.

His speech was longer, but much to the same purpose; only run more upon the triple cord, and inviting to unity, and not to meddle with foundations. (fn. 8)

This done, the members then present went to the House of Commons, where, about one o'clock, the House was very full, at least four hundred.

Sir Walter Earle. We do not come here to sit still and say nothing. A speaker must be chosen; you will think that fit. I believe there is in the House a very worthy person, and fit for your service.

The House called, Name him, name him; then, he named him, viz. Mr. Chute.

Then divers called out, nemine contradicente. Mr. Chute to the chair.

Mr. Chute. I need not make a speech to excuse my unfitness to serve you. I carry a natural infirmity about me. I have it in my foot; so much disability, that I was scarce able to crawl hither to do my duty here. Another infirmity I have, which you all know, and will every day more. I have no manner of experience in the way of that employment, and the greatest part of what I know, is the least part of what I ought to know. For these and other reasons I could offer, I move to make choice of another. (fn. 9)

All called out Mr. Chute to the chair.

Sir Walter Earle and — (fn. 10) led him to the chair.

Sir Arthur Haslerigge was about to second the motion, but it needed not.

Mr. Speaker, (fn. 11) being in the chair, moved; Gentlemen, I am bound to obey your commands; and paused till the mace came, which was called for. Then he proceeded to make another apology.

As the form is, gentlemen, you called me to this place for directions, so that I must not give ill examples by troubling you with a long speech. I never knew much said in long speeches. I never loved them. I desire that you would think of me as the motto on the sun-dial is, auspice me; ut te auspiciam. The best adage is, self do, self have; volenti non sit injuria. You have placed me here, and you must bear the burthen of my infirmities, &c.

Mr. Speaker being thus placed, four Aldermen of the City of London came together into the House in scarlet gowns, and took their places. (fn. 12)

Mr. Speaker moved that he would not hinder the business of settlement; but supposed the course to be, first, to read a bill. (fn. 13) He had a bill touching the non-exportation of fish. He moved it might be read, and it was read. He presented it, as a bill which was of the last Parliament.

Mr. Knightley. I move for a day for the second reading of it.

Sir Walter Earle. It is not proper to recommend a bill, let it recommend itself; but if one will speak to the rejecting of it they may; otherwise, no one may speak to it upon the first reading.

Mr. Speaker. I move to adjourn for two or three days.

Mr. Weaver. Adjourn now, and call the House, for fear of intruders.

Mr. Hungerford. It is too soon to call the House, till all returned come in.

Colonel Thompson. You have two laws a-foot. You spoil the game if you run not one out first. Put this question off your hands, and I shall not be against adjourning.

Mr. Hungerford, Captain Hatsell, Captain Baines, and Mr. Chaloner, moved the like.

Mr. Knightley. Formerly all bills were read a second time between ten and eleven.

Mr. Speaker. Formerly, no time was set down for the second reading; but the Speaker took a convenient time for it.

Sir Walter Earle. I move to call the House, in case of intruders. The commissioners for swearing the members (fn. 14) have informed me that one borough, which had a right to choose but one burgess, had returned two, and that by an escape both were sworn and sat. I would have all those things examined.

Colonel Mildmay. I move to choose your clerk. The person in place may be deserving, and haply none will be against him; but own your privilege in choosing; and the like, for all your officers.

Mr. Onslow. Put your question upon the form. He served in the last Parliament; and, I suppose, is so deserving that none will be against it.

The clerk, viz. Mr. Smythe, being commanded to withdraw, the question was put, and passed, nemine contradicente.

Mr. Speaker moved the question, that the clerk be continued.

Sir Arthur Haslerigge liked not the word continued; so it was changed, that he shall be clerk, &c.

Sir Thomas Barnardiston and Mr. Weaver moved the like for the other officers, viz. Darnall, Clerk Assistant, and Serjeant Birkhead, and all resolved, nemine contradicente.

Colonel Mildmay. I would have the clerk cautioned for sitting without leave, before he was chosen by the House. The like may be imposed upon you hereafter. Fart not with any of your privileges, &c.

He was not seconded.

Sir Arthur Haslerigge. I move that care be taken to make your House as full as you can; that, in case of double returns, by reason of the false dealings of Sheriffs and Mayors, these may be speedily considered. I would ever in all places, especially in this House, observe this rule,—do as I would be done by.

A gentleman cried No.

Sir Arthur took exceptions. If that gentleman that cries No, were without doors, and kept out as divers of your members are, he would not cry No. I move that, to-morrow, you appoint your Committee for privileges.

Colonel Matthews, the like.

Mr. Weaver. It is not proper to meddle with privileges till your House be called, to see if all that sit are members.

Some said, name the Committee first, and some, have the House called first, and both said it was according to the orders of the House.

Mr. Speaker. Well may I be ignorant of your orders, when I see both sides so confident, in different orders.

Mr. James Ashe. I move for a Committee of privileges.

Mr. Trenchard. I never knew a Speaker and a Committee appointed both in one day.

Major Burton moved for a day of humiliation; but nobody seconded the motion.

The House adjourned itself till eight next morning; but no question was put, for it need not, unless there was a day intervening. The house rose at four. (fn. 15)

The Speech of his Highness the Lord Protector.

My Lords and Gentlemen;

I believe there are scarce any of you here, who expected some months since to have seen this great Assembly at this time, in this place, in peace; considering the great and unexpected change which it hath pleased the all-disposing hand of God to make in the midst of us. I can assure you, that if things had been according to your own fears, and the hopes of our enemies, it had not been thus with us: and, therefore, it will become both you and me, in the first place, as to reverence and adore the great God, possessor of heaven and earth, in whose hands our breath is, and whose are all our ways, because of his judgments; so to acknowledge him in his goodness to these lands, in that he hath not added sorrow to sorrow, and made the period of his late Highness's life, and that of the nation's peace, to have been in one day.

Peace was one of the blessings of my Father's government; a mercy, after so long a civil war, and in the midst of so great division which that war bred, is not usually afforded by God unto a people in so great a measure.

The cause of God, and these nations, which he was engaged in, met in all the parts of it, as you well know, with many enemies, and great opposition. The Archers, privily and openly, sorely grieved him, and shot at him, yet his bow abode in strength; and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob.

As to himself, he died full of days, spent in great and sore travail; yet his eyes were not waxed dim, neither was his natural strength abated, as it was said of Moses. He was serviceable even to the last.

As to these nations, he left them in great honour abroad, and in full peace at home; all England, Scotland and Ireland, dwelling safely, every man under his vine, and under his fig-tree, from Dan even to Beersheba.

He is gone to rest, and we are entered into his labours; and if the Lord hath still a blessing for these lands (as I trust he hath), as our peace hath been lengthened out to this day, so shall we go on to reap the fruit, and gather the harvest of what his late Highness hath sown, and laid the foundation of.

For my own part, being by the providence of God, and the disposition of the law, my Father's successor, and bearing that place in the government that I do, I thought it for the public good to call a parliament of the three nations, now united and conjoined together into one commonwealth, under one Government.

It is agreeable, not only to my trust, but to my principles, to govern these, nations by the advice of my two Houses of Parliament I find it asserted in the humble Petition and Advice (which is the corner-stone of this building, and that which I shall adhere to), "that Parliaments are the great Council of the chief Magistrate, in whose advice both he and these nations may be most safe and happy." I can assure you I have that esteem of them: and, as I have made it the first act of my government to call you together, so I shall further let you see the value I have of you, by the answers that I shall return to the advice that shall be given me by you, for the good of these nations.

You are come up from your several countries, as the heads of your tribes, and with hearts (I persuade myself) to consult together for their good. I can say I meet you with the same desires, having nothing in my design but the maintenance of the peace, laws, and liberties, both civil and Christian, of these nations; which I shall always make the measure and rule of my government, and be ready to spend my life for.

We have summoned you up at this time, to let you know the state of our affairs, and to have your advice in them: and I believe a Parliament was never summoned upon a more important occasion.

It is true, as I have told you, we are, through the goodness of God, at this time in peace; but it is not thus with us, because we have no enemies. There are enough both within us and without us, who would soon put an end to our peace, were it in their power, or should it at any time come into their power.

It will be becoming your wisdom, to consider of the securing of our peace against those, who, we all know, are, and ever will be, our implacable enemies. What the means of doing this are, I shall refer unto you.

This I can assure you, that the armies of England, Scotland, and Ireland, are true and faithful to the peace and good interest of these nations, and it will be found so, and that they are a consisting body, and useful for any good ends; and, if they were not the best army in the world, you would have heard of inconveniencies, by reason of the great arrear of pay which is now due unto them, whereby some of them are reduced to great necessities: but you shall have a particular account of their arrears, and I doubt not but consideration will be had thereupon, in some speedy and effectual way. And this being matter of money, I recommend it particularly to the House of Commons.

You have, you know, a war with Spain, carried on by the advice of Parliament. He is an old enemy, and a potent one, and therefore it will be necessary, both for the honour and safety of these nations, that that war be vigorously prosecuted.

Farthermore, the constitution of affairs in all our neighbour countries, and round about us (as well friends as enemies) is very considerable, and calls upon us to be upon our guard both at land and sea, and to be in a posture able to maintain and conserve our own state and interest.

Great and powerful fleets are preparing to be sent forth into these seas, and considerable armies of several nations and kings are now disputing for the mastery of the Sound, with the adjacent islands and countries; among which is the Roman Emperor, with other Popish states. I need not tell you of what consequence these things are to this state.

We have already interposed in these affairs, in such manner as we found it necessary for the interest of England; and matters are yet in such a condition in those parts, that this state may, with the assistance of God, provide that their differences may not prejudice us.

The other things that are to be said, I shall refer to my Lord Keeper Fiennes, and close up what I have to say, with only adding two or three particulars to what I have already said.

And first, I recommend to your care the people of God in these nations, with their concernments. The more they are divided among themselves, the greater prudence should be used to cement them.

Secondly, the good and necessary work of reformation, both in manners and in the administration of justice, that profaneness may be discountenanced and suppressed, and that righteousness and justice may be executed in the land.

Thirdly, I recommend unto you the Protestant cause abroad, which seems at this time to be in some danger, having great and powerful enemies, and very few friends; and I hope and believe, that the old English zeal to that cause is still among us.

Lastly, my Lords, and you Gentlemen of the House of Commons, that you will in all your debates maintain and conserve love and unity among yourselves, that therein you may be the pattern of the nation, who have sent you up in peace, and with their prayers, that the spirit of wisdom and peace may be among you: and this shall also be my prayer for you: and to this let us all add our utmost endeavours for the making this a happy Parliament. (fn. 16)


  • 1. A celebrated Independent, whose works occupy five folios. In the Assembly of Divines he took an active part, and preserved their transactions, in several volumes. Dr. Goodwin was of Cambridge University, and a Fellow of Eton College, but became "one of the favourites of Oliver Cromwell, who made him President of Magdalen College, Oxford." He, of course, lost every thing at the Restoration, but his religion and learning, preferments which kings can neither give nor take away; and which, under the imperfect discipline of a princely education, they have been, too seldom, qualified to appreciate. Dr. Goodwin died in 1679, in his 80th year. He was buried in Bunhill Fields, where is a long Latin inscription on his tomb: yet, such was the vengeance on the dead, indulged by the adherents of restored royalty, that several lines, not in the least political, but describing the judgment of the deceased, as to the scriptural form of Christian societies, and his ability and success as a Christian Minister, "were not suffered to be engraved on the stone." See Dr. Calamy's Account (1713), p. 60. Continuation (1727), 1, 91. According to Wood, Dr. Goodwin "is said, in the common Register of the University, to be in scriptis in re theologicâ quamplurimis orbi notus." See Athen. Oxon. (1692,) ii. 783.
  • 2. Here and there.
  • 3. On the late Protector's use of this Psalm, see Vol. ii..p. 325.
  • 4. On the appointment of the "Other House" he had become their Clerk. See vol. ii. pp. 350.
  • 5. See infra pp. 7, 11, notes *.
  • 6. See their destitute condition, Vol. ii. p. 366.
  • 7. See his speech, at length, Parl. Hist. xxi. 269–281.
  • 8. The Lord Commissioner recommends, "That all parliaments for the future shall be parliaments of the three nations; and so, at length, a strong treble cord twisted together, which cannot be easily broken; I say," he adds, "which cannot be easily broken while it remains twisted together. But if untwisted, it may not only be soon and easily broken itself; but afterwards each part will serve and help to break the other." Ibid. 271. For other specimens of the learned Lord Commissioner's parliamentary eloquence, see vol. ii. p. 330, 409, notes.
  • 9. This desire of another choice, like the noli episcopari, attributed to the prelacy, is still affected at the commencement of every Parliament. "The Speaker's excuse," says Mr. Elsynge, "is formal, and out of modesty; for he first excuseth himself to the Commons, when they elect him, and afterwards to the King when he is presented. The Lord Chancellor confers with the King, and then telleth him, that his Majesty doth approve of the Commons' choice, and will not allow of his excuse." See "Manner of holding Parliaments," (1768,) pp. 165, 167. It does not appear that the Protector had any controul over the Commons, in their choice of a Speaker.
  • 10. Thus blank in the MS., but in the Journals "Mr. Charles Rich, brother to the Earl of Warwick." See vol. ii. pp. 315, ad fin.
  • 11. "Mr. Chaloner Chute," says Whitlock, "was chosen Speaker of this Parliament, an excellent orator, a man of great parts and generosity, whom many doubted that he would not join with the Protector's party, but he did heartily." Memorials (1732), p. 676.
  • 12. This custom is still observed, on the meeting of every new Parliament, though the four members, as at present, are not, necessarily, Aldermen. Any liveryman is eligible.
  • 13. Such is the modern practice, before the consideration of the King's speech, as if to assert for the Commons their independence of the crown.
  • 14. See infra, p. 11, note †.
  • 15. The following is the commencement of the journal of this Parliament, kept by Mr. Guibon Goddard, Recorder of Lynn, and Member for Castle Rising, whose manuscript volume I have described in the preface. "Tuesday, 25th Jan, 1658–9. I set forward in a great storm of wind from Lynn for Westminster, in order to serve the Parliament, where, on Thursday morning, about nine of the clock, I arrived, and presently shifted myself, and got down to Westminster that day (being the first day of the sitting of the Parliament) before the sermon was done, that being preached by Dr. Thomas Goodwin, upon the text of mercy and truth having met together, righteousness and peace having kissed each other. "Being at Westminster, I was informed I must take an oath, in the lobby before the Parliament door, where being, and demanding of the oath, I was told by Mr. Smythe, that there being a double return, I could not sit before the opinion of the House was therein agreed, and so I did forbear, at present, to go into the House, but I went into the Painted Chamber, and so to the other House. "Not long after, the sermon being ended, my Lord Protector came into the other House, where he first made a very sober and full discourse of the occasion of the calling of this Parliament. After whom, my Lord Fiennes, one of the keepers of the seal, enlarged upon the heads of the Protector's discourse; after which the Commons departed to their own House, and chose for their Speaker, Mr. Chaloner Chute, and appointed their officers, and read a Bill, according to their course, and ordered the next day to call over the House, and to appoint a Committee then of privileges, which being ended, they adjourned until next morning at eight of the clock." Goddard MS.
  • 16. See "A Compleat Collection of Remarkable Speeches," (1707) pp. 76–80; Parl. Hist. xxi. 265–269; Harleian Miscellany (1808), i. 25–28. Mr. Slingsby Bethel, member for Knaresborough, in this Parliament, says, the Protector "made, beyond expectation, a very handsome speech exceeding that which followed by his Keeper of the Great Seal." See "A Brief Narrative of the Parliament called by Richard Cromwell," annexed to "The Interests of the Princes and States of Europe." (1694) pp. 334.