Diary of Thomas Burton Esq: Volume 3, January - March 1659. Originally published by H Colburn, London, 1828.
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Tuesday, February 8, 1658–9.
Mr. St. Nicholas. (fn. 1) I find two objections to lie in my way, in speaking against the Recognition.
1. That we ought not to speak against foundations; as if that liberty had been taken away by the oath which we took at the door. But, in answer to that, I hope we are not spreading of nets, or laying of snares for one another. I have sworn to be faithful, and I hope in discharging of that faith I may have liberty to speak; especially finding the faith I have sworn to the Protector twisted with the liberty of the people.
2. The Petition and Advice hath laid a foundation already, and it is too late to deny that now. But, Sir, that is little above a year old, and can yet scarce speak English for itself. I conceive it is but a sandy foundation, and that you will not build upon it. Besides, I pray, observe the manner of obtaining that law; when above two hundred members of the House duly elected were kept out by force, and many that voted there, I mean the Irish and Scottish members, there being then no law in force for them, had no more right to vote than the vintner at the bar. And, farther, it was carried but by three, and in a precipitant and unparliamentary way.
It is said we cannot untie the knots. But I would not have it said that any knot cannot be untied in this place, and I. think that that law called the Petition and Advice, is the most destructive to the nation of any that ever passed within these walls, because the militia and negative voice are placed in the single person, with another negative, and charged upon us.
King James was wont to say that Kings were made for Commonwealths, and not Commonwealths for Kings. If you find that a single person so qualified be not for the good of the people, and the Commonwealth, I hope you will alter it in that particular. But if you will confirm as this makes him, you will put as great power into his hands as ever King had. I profess, with sobriety and in the singleness of my spirit, that I know not what the messengers of the people shall then answer at their return, to such as shall ask what we have done for their liberties, but only ruina Angliæ.
Now God hath put a power into our Hands; considering what exceptions have been taken to former endeavours of settlement, let us lay such foundations as shall be free from such exceptions. So you may well be called a healing Parliament.
But, briefly, as to the Bill. What I shall propound has been propounded already; that we should proceed to recognize and acknowledge his Highness to be Protector of England, &c. upon good foundations, and in doing so we shall be true and faithful. Draw it into an Act. But we have another trust from the people to discharge, for our country. We cannot proceed so far as to establish the House of Lords now sitting. It would not consist with the fundamental constitution of the nation. If so, then it is against the law; against the oath, the greatest tie. But it will be said;
But we must not alter old laws. A law that took away the Star Chamber, provided that if any one do an act against the law of the nation, he shall lie under a great guilt, and be unable to dispose of any thing that is his own. This law is in force, but this House of Lords would not consist with the House, in oath. We must in that be very tender.
Temp. i. Edw. III. A Judge did rule against the oath of the Supreme Magistrate. This was urged by John Pym in the beginning of the Long Parliament. What was thought of this Judge ? He was by the next Parliament condemned to die, because it was not only done contrary to his own oath, but the oath of the Supreme Magistrate. (fn. 2)
If we proceed to recognize his Highness, we shall be true and faithful to him, and build upon a true foundation. It will preserve him and us, to build upon a good foundation, and prove a blessing from God to posterity.
Mr. Mitford. That which calls me up is the concern of my own spirit, and of the public good, and the oath I have taken. As two hundred men went up with Absalom, (fn. 3) I came in with the integrity of my conscience, and an oath upon me religiously done. Every oath carries in the bowels of it a curse. In the original it signifies a curse. God do so to me, and more also.
2d. Of more public concernment. The present safety and good of this nation. Yesterdaynight, I had intelligence that the Hollanders were working day and night, preparing a very formidable fleet. I am afraid this debate will be long, and it may retard the proceedings of the Navy. I would have you put a speedy end to it.
Mr. Drake. I know not how long the debate we are upon may last. There may be a long interregnum, and many inconveniences may happen to this nation. Yet I am for the commuting of the Bill. But I would have it, in the meantime, asserted, that the present Lord Protector is the undoubted Chief Magistrate or Governor of the three nations of England, Scotland, and Ireland, &c.
His Highness is admitted by your call and the people's acknowledgment. His authority is materia substrata. The ascertaining of his power is very necessary. It will avoid the hindrance of home and foreign intercourse. Justices will otherwise be slack in performing their offices.
If we should come to a Commonwealth, there would be twenty kings in a Committee; which would be a greater oppression than the Seven Kings. (fn. 4)
To prevent inconveniences, I would have the single person to be declared, and to be regulated and bounded as soon as may be, that he may not impose upon us. We have suffered in our laws, liberties, and properties; and we may unravel this Government so far as to bring us where we were.
We cannot be so disingenuous as not to admit the other House to be part of the Constitution. If a better Government had been presented, I should probably have been of their opinion. I think it but cynical and fanciful. I had rather have a cottage here, than a glorious palace in the air. I would have his Highness made as great as ever was King in England, that he may defend the Protestant religion.
Mr. Nathaniel Bacon. It was well moved that 2,000l. a day would be given by the Hollander, for you to spend time in these long speeches. (fn. 5)
It is our undoubted constitution to be governed by a single person and a Parliament. There never was any other Government, neither in England nor Scotland. There have been three hundred sessions of Parliament in England since the Conquest (per Sir Edward Coke.)
The Long Parliament, at first, never dreamt of any other Government. A change of Government was never moved in Parliament till by the late Lord Protector, yesterday ten years. A single person was voted useless, and you yourselves voted useless also.
I could tell you current stories of the tyranny of a Commonwealth. Look into Carthage; Athens. See Sir Walter Raleigh. (fn. 6) Every man had liberty to find out the richest to destroy for himself.
Sir Arthur Haslerigge. It is against the orders of the House, to move us by arguments of fear, or any other arguments without doors. They ought not to be made use of within this House, so as to pass great things over on that account. We should be above it. We came to serve God and our country, and not to make business of greatest concernment to be huddled over in haste. Let us lay foundations for posterity.
The Long Parliament had good things in it: de mortuis nil nisi bonum. They had a good constitution. Other Parliaments had not so good a constitution. By our oath we are not so bound up, but we may dispute it.
One side would have no Lords at all; others, none of those, consilium magnatum, very ancient, if my book fail not. But in the country whence I come, the people are much discontented that the ancient nobility should be neglected and set aside. I speak not for those that have forfeited. Ubi culpa, ibi pœna. The laws are great protectors of their privileges. I am no Leveller. It is as much justice to give a man honour as any pecuniary debt. No, I am for a House of Lords, upon this ground; because ancient. The elder ought to have priority over the younger. I am a younger brother myself, and I honour my elder. I would not have oaths to be the foundation of your declaration.
Peace and justice are the pillars of a Commonwealth. The Temple was not built in time of war. (44 Psalm.) An equal distribution of justice, hence came all powers. The Lord Protector has printed it to the eyes, that it is his principle to be advised by Parliament. I am much taken with it. He agrees that the purse is yours. I should thence think that he admits you also a property in the sword. I have no way to know his heart, but from his mouth. I never saw the Lord Protector but twice, and he did publish the same things that I speak of. The sweetness of his voice, and language so sweet, that he has won my heart. I never had the least favour from him, and hope I shall never deserve his frown. I find the people well satisfied with his Government.
Mr. Trevor. This Bill ought to be committed. Yet there is much fit to be resolved beforehand, which is too big for a Committee. First, to declare his Highness to be the lawful Chief Magistrate. This will not admit of delay. The rest of things may bear their time.
I see gentlemen not willing to take that. Yet we have either sworn to a thing not in being, or else he is lawful Chief Magistrate. If it be said the acknowledgment is but a form, it is such a form as never Parliament sat without it. When we are gone hence, those that come after us will dispute our authority. It is the wisdom of all Parliaments to provide for peace. The peace of the people should be the main consideration of a Parliament. This is a full free Parliament (some few exceptions against the form, but few, or none, against members) but if we dispute away their right of these things, we shall be neither full nor free.
The worst of princes never wanted recognition. It is at the people's charge, that all Governments are obtained and settled. There was never more need of a prudent and patient Parliament, to fix our peace upon a civil interest. None except against the person. We are content to declare he shall be so; let us declare that he is so. To defer this, is at once to leave the people loose from all authority. The people were lately delivered from this fear oh the death of his late Highness.
I find most that discourse of Parliament, say of it, that this is such a crisis of time as never was; and that on this depend the happiness and glory of the nation. I hope the prudence will be such that we shall oblige the generations to come.
We have had to combat together about the privileges of our country. I cannot see how the rights of the people or their liberties are endangered or injured by a single person; while the laws give every man what is his own. It is my opinion (what! should I speak of my opinion, when in such a majesty and wisdom ?), the wisest men's opinion was for that monarchy, where all innocent men were safe, and nocent punished. Commines, (fn. 7) that French statesman, knew all Governments, and agreed the monarchy of England to be the most perfect.
By princes St. George's cross was planted upon the walls of Jerusalem. By princes were all great achievements. (fn. 8)
After sixteen hundred years experience of this government by a single person, shall we now go to change ? Your great ally, the French, is threatened on every hand. The King of Spain, once on his knees, is now on horseback, by the Austrian family being possessed of the empire. (fn. 9) Let fus settle this at home, and we shall carry on our business in Flanders.
Mr. Chaloner. When I came first to the door of this House, I made no more doubt that my Lord Protector was the supreme magistrate, than that you sit here; but by what I have heard since I came, that which was clear to me then, is now a doubt. I hear an interregnum much spoken of. What doth an interregnum signify, but that we are without a government at present, and therefore you are not now to recognize, but to elect; not to declare a Chief Magistrate, but to make one.
As to the Bill, it is but short. It is not a speech. (fn. 10) It is a Bill. Debate it in parts. I shall address myself to the principal verb, and that is, recognition. It must be handled. It must be touched. There can be no recognition, before a cognition. From whence was that ?
1. It is said, from the people, and so testified by the Bill. Where did these people meet? In their collective body, or by representatives? Not in their collective. I know no House, no field, that could contain them. (fn. 11) I value not the addresses, because I know how they were procured. If you should set up a Committee of addresses, as there is of privileges, there would be as many complaints for fasle addresses, as for false elections. The people are only in their representative. I am sure there hath been no recognition yet, by you, who are here the representative body.
It is easy to make it appear, that a Parliament called by one that had no authority to call them, yet, being come together, they are a lawful Parliament, and what they do is lawful. Richard III., Henry IV., V., and VI., were all usurpers, and yet their laws were good and unquestionable.
Let no man say, that his Highness is not Lord Protector. I never thought the contrary. I believe he is, and that it may be made out; but it is not yet made out to us, and it is not fit for the representatives of the people to contest they know not what.
Besides, the Bill is not well penned, not in a Parliamentary state. Every secretary must know his master. If I be a secretary to a Lord; to a Lord temporal I ought to write not as to a Lord spiritual. Every secretary ought to write what is to pass a Parliament, not as he writes his mysteries. The style of a Parliament ought to be plain and perspicuous, grave, majestic, and commanding.
The form of the Bill ought to have been thus: "Whereas, by the humble Petition and Advice," and so recite the whole Act, as to the nomination of a successor. Then it should have followed, that "in pursuance of the said Act, the late Lord Protector did nominate and appoint," &c., reciting the manner of his Highness's declaration, naming in whose presence, and that it was under the great seal. This would have been more plain, parliamentary, and full of satisfaction. Let all these things be examined at a Committee. (fn. 12)
Mr. Skipwith. Let it be examined by what authority the ancient constitution was taken away by a handful of the House of Commons. (fn. 13) I would, in the first place, acknowledge his Highness, as is moved. He, we, are called by the law, and chosen so. I know no law to take away the House of Lords.
Either we have an old government lawfully established, or a new government. The authority that set it up was as lawful as that which took it away. If not lawfully taken away, your debate is at an end. A great many reflections yesterday might have been spared.
I am bound to defend the acts of the last Parliament. I know no force. The interest of the nation never will be stood to so much as they did. I was scandalized at keeping out your members, and absented myself two or three months. You had lost your purse and balance, those you have restored to you by them.
A perpetual law was established by the old Government. Not only now determined as to time, three years; but contracted to half by the quantity, 25,000l. (fn. 14) You have now bounded his Highness by the laws of the nation, that he cannot, without violation of the laws and his oath, break in upon your property.
A greàt weight is in your oath. He is owned by all the people of England. We have all, or the most of us, recognized his Highness in that capacity. We have done it as the people's representatives. If another man authorize me to do an act, it is his act. The single question is, whether we shall all do, what we have severally done. Malice itself cannot fasten on our Supreme Magistrate, and this is something, to me of a divine suffrage.
Mr. Attorney-General. I would have all things past, to pass away. You are now to make laws to settle. Faults have been in all times, and are easily found. If we stand to strict formalities, we must look further back than is meant. The people, I believe, are willing to forgive and forget all. We are now to go on to settlement. The Parliament did still kick off some of the prerogatives which were exorbitant. No man is so unwise, but he will circumscribe the Chief Magistrate. I hope we shall have a concurrence. I have served here many years. I find no man give just exception against the man. Without guile or gall, (fn. 15) was a good expression. I hear of none to remove him, nor in competition with him. Why should not we willingly own him, and cheerfully, against whom there are no exceptions? There has been debate enough. While we stand doubting here, I doubt we shall breed greater doubts in the minds of the nation. Then why should not we declare this as is moved ? Else it will breed doubts abroad.
I am for a single person, a senate, and a popular assembly; but not in that juggling way. King, Lords, and Commons I cannot like. This man is, at least, actually, if not legally, settled the Chief Magistrate.
It was not the civil war that altered our Government, but tendencies to the alteration of Government that caused the civil war. It is in. your power, as the sovereign power of the nation. Impenum fundatur in dominatione, that is an infallible maxim. The people are not like a young heir that hath squeezed wax, (fn. 16) by which being once bound, it is too late after for him to repent. If one have power to do any thing, he may and will do it.
The Barons got a great share, and having a considerable part of the land, and no part in the Government, they began to stir and ruffle with the King; and in fine got authority, and gave laws both to King and Commons, until King Henry VII.'s time. He designed to weaken the hands of the nobility and their power. But Henry VIII. did more by dissolving many of the abbeys, and distributing their lands among the Commons.
The Commons, till Henry VII., never exercised a negative voice. All depended on the Lords. In that time it would have been hard to have found in this house so many gentlemen of estates. The gentry do not now depend upon the peerage. The balance is in the gentry. They have all the lands. (fn. 17) Now Lords, old or new, must be supported by the people. There is the same reason why the Lords should not have a negative voice, as that the King should not have a negative; to keep up a sovereignty against nature. The people of England will not suffer a negative voice to be in those who have not a natural power over them. And for the Militia, that power which was to be employed for the preserving of laws, that was employed against them. No power will acquiesce in the taking away their own power. When we are naturally free, why should we make ourselves slaves artificially ?
Let us not return to the Government of the Long Parliament. It was an oligarchy, (fn. 18) detested by all men that love a Commonwealth: so that whosoever lays that upon us, it was not the Government contended for. We that are for a Commonwealth, are for a single person, senate, and popular assembly; (fn. 19) I mean not King, Lords, and Commons. I hope that will never be admitted here. I shall speak to it afterwards.
The Petition and Advice settled power in a prince to have kingly authority over a people. Never think that settling such powers as are not consistent with a free people, can do your business. There will be hauling and pulling, and irregular proceedings: witness many late exorbitances in the Government, of which I will not say you ought to call them to a severe account that have been instrumental; but this I will say, that either you ought to call them to account, or to mend the constitution, so as there may be no danger for the future. It will be in vain to recognize any body, till you have provided for the liberty of the people.
I shall move that this Bill be laid aside, and to declare the Protector to be Chief Magistrate. He is the fittest person of any man in England. I would have him so; but leave it not to Westminster-hall to interpret what is meant by the Chief Magistrate. I could wish he were a magistrate, as supreme as the nation will bear at this day; but I know not what misrepresentations may be made of it.
Your David, that had shed a great deal of blood, was as safe as any man, while you were settling the Government. There is no danger of this pious person. I would have you declare this man to be Chief Magistrate, under such rules and limitations as you shall agree upon. And let this be debated in a Grand Committee.
Mr. Bodurda. I shall not be long at this time of day. I can inform the gentleman that there was an Act of Recognition of his Highness in the former Parliament. The House thought fit to postpone it in that case, but the reason is not so in this case. There are two heads.
By what law were all public lands sold ? Was the Parliament free, or the major part turned out for wranglers, though by the majority of the nation, thought to be as fair gamesters as those within ? The Army were sent to, and the Parliament agreed to the reason they gave for keeping them out. I could speak of private Acts, Acts of Oblivion, and divers acts of consequence which will fall by it, if now we go into a Commonwealth. Consider you will find a great part of the lands of the balance in those lands at Goldsmiths'-hall.
The Petition and Advice was made as freely as any law since the beginning of the Long Parliament. Never was property settled better than in that. The 1,300,000l. (fn. 20) was the hardest article that ever was. It was there asserted to be the undoubted right of the people, that no tax be laid but by their representative.
His Highness may dissolve you, if he please, within this hour. If so, then they that come next may do all this. If ever there was an opportunity to settle the nation, certainly now. If there be a breach or rupture now, it will be found that some friends will support the cause. Major-generals may return with a breach in the city and in the country. Consider the consequence of the fact. I got no fish when the waters were troubled. (fn. 21) I have no more privilege but as any commoner by this Government.
Let us clear this business. Some would have it in a Grand Committee. Some would lay it aside. I have heard it said, every man may speak as often and as long as he will. How then shall we in a Committee find out the constitution of Government. If it come to that, I shall speak while I have breath against a Republic.
Mr. Solicitor-General. I shall not trouble you with a long speech. The history of the past times is very sad. I hope we shall now look forward. I do agree with those gentlemen (fn. 22) that would have it better worded.
The question lies narrow, whether those words, shall stand in the Bill, that his Highness is Lord Protector, &c. that your Committee may build upon that. I am not of their opinion that would have it laid aside. Foreign nations will say, you are debating whether his Highness be Chief Magistrate. What will all people that have owned the Govern ment say ? I doubt judges and justices of peace will all be at a stand. I hope we shall not part, till this be resolved, if those words shall stand. I hope there will be no negative.
Colonel Terrill. We do but beat the air. It is granted by all that his Highness is Protector, and should be owned as Chief Magistrate. I shall neither defend nor maintain any of the actions done. I shall not depend on the Petition and Advice. We shall do him greater honour to declare him by this House, which will be a most firm foundation. We find him in the place. Let us acknowledge him in the power.
We cannot recognize, without looking back, which I would not do; cognize we may, which looks forward: but whether by the Bill before you, or by any other way, I am indifferent. The question will be, whether we shall take the Bill up at a rebound. I would agree that it might be taken for granted; that the Bill may be committed, granting his Highness to be Protector for life, with some limitation. I am sorry to see that his Highness cannot pass without something else. I am for declaring him Chief Magistrate, but not with what goes along with it, (fn. 23) and which is intended to be received with it, and keep him company.
I would have something put in to bound it. Monarchy unbounded is but supreme tyranny. If nothing go along with it, I am afraid we shall give away all our liberties. Therefore, I would have the Bill committed, with power given to your Committee to add, amend, and expunge.
All the time of the war there was no questioning of the foundation. I take it to be a man's mind, what he speaks. First and last it was always declared to maintain the rights of the people to three estates. How we came to lose it, the foundation: it was an irresistible necessity. Two parts were turned out of the House; it was a truth. It arose from a thing called an Agreement (fn. 24) and Proposals. When the Jesuits had fought in the field against you, then they got in here. Some were in your Army, dippers and creepers; when that army, once out of the way, went further out of the way. The enemies of our religion brought all this upon us. See what congregations we had in 43, and what now. It is questioned whether we have a Church in England; (fn. 25) questioned, I doubt, whether Scripture or rule of life is in England. I hope I shall be able to answer God and good men, and bad men if they ask me, that what I move is just. We are now resorting to old foundations. Will not those enemies bring us in still new devices ? It has been said that Parliament men have desired some time, to kuow the minds of those that sent us. It would give no satisfaction to tell them we have spent so much time in debating whether we shall have a single person. When I was in the Army, some said, "Let us not go this way, lest the war be ended too soon."I am afraid this is the aim of some here. If you set up hungry bellies, the nation will be starved, before their bellies be filled.
Some offer, that the Chief Magistrate intended is another than in the Petition and Advice. I cannot tell what power he has (I know not his person), or how consistent it is with our liberties. If we are about to do a thing contrary to our understandings, it will not be improper to stay you from the question, till we are better informed. I suppose it is the same we are sworn to at the door.
When I hear such interpretations and glosses upon the oath and the Covenant, which I never expected, I doubt such an interpretation will be put upon this, if we easily pass it. It is meet there should be a recognition singly; but I hope we may stay awhile, and commit it so as to have liberty to debate the parts. That which came first to your hands, let it go first off your hands.
Mr. Raleigh. I scarce see one man against the question of a single person; but we resolve not of the person that must accept these conditions. I second what was moved, that we resolve here to recognize a single person to rule over us.
Mr. Hungerford. I thought in the morning to have found a long speech. I would have the Bill committed with laying, as a foundation, this proviso, "That his Highness is the lawful and Chief Magistrate, and Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England."
Mr. Swlnfen. What I shall speak, shall only be to ripen the question. This was raised in order to give directions to your Committee, and is matter of great consequence. The subject, his Highness; the act, Recognition. That which we give freely, is quickly done, when freely done by a general assembly, as here. I would not have the question perplexed. The nearer our oath, the nearer the thing. There is nothing in the oath requiring us to inquire into that Act; nor more in this question, but that the House, by a previous vote, make it part of the Bill to recognize his Highness to be the undoubted rightful Lord Protector and Chief Magistrate. Let the oath be reconciled to your question, and it will pass with unanimity. Now that the question is moved, we cannot go off, without declaring him Protector. I hope you will not include any monies, or other powers.
Mr. Freeman. You have here the bodies of three nations before you. All offer to you the diseases, none offer the cures. I cannot add more than what is said of his Highness. We are but to light our candles to the sun. The late Protector was declared Protector without a Parliament. His Highness might have forced us to do what we ought to do; but so much sweetness and goodness. He might have brought an army to your bar, to have forced this.
Mr. Attorney-General. I cannot justify the word. I am sorry it should fall from one of the long robe; but he should be heard out. I may speak a word, and, if you take me at half, you may take me at the worst.
Mr. Freeman explained. Such force has been formerly. I would not justify what is illegal. I desire we may be governed by the laws. I would have his Highness recognized with all the honours; and with this design, that Commons may not kick down crowns, nor crowns Commons. I conclude with Colonel Birch's motion. (It was against the orders of the House to name him.)
Sir Arthur Haslerigge. I hope it shall never be in our thoughts, by a previous vote, to declare this person to be rightful, undoubted Protector, &c., and thus determine the question about the rights of the people. If this pass, you may sit to-day and be dissolved to-morrow. Yet the undoubted right of the people is, for the Parliament not to be dissolved till all their grievances be heard; though the practice has been otherwise.
We must labour to behold the will of God. The Protectorship was granted to the late Protector for life, with power to declare a successor. Shall not we examine this ? Now if this was not done, if no successor was declared, if God prevented it, do we think that it becomes us to set up one? It is a setting up what God has pulled down, and planting what God has plucked up. You put us to petition for our liberties.
Were ever such things done in 500 years, as in these last five years, to take the people's monies and liberties by a power without doors ? Let us not pass a question that the wisdom of the nation shall say we had not thought on. I perceive the generality is for a single person. I am not satisfied. If the wisdom of the House settle it so, I shall submit. If of God, it will stand; if not, it will wither. I would have the things for the people go hand in hand, that the Chief Magistrate still be accountable.
I have delivered my opinion to you in his fear, God's fear, that we may have a settlement, not to shatter, but to establish; that this little world may give laws to the great world. We arc got free. We may make ourselves slaves if we please. We are going one step to it, by this vote. There is no danger while we sit here. I move now to rise. It is one o'clock.
Mr. Weaver. The question called for, ought not to be the question in your hands. The proper question is for commitment of the Bill. A business of greater consequence than every man here is aware of. The question comes not in singly. There is much complicating in it. I am against the Bill wholly, not because it came from a private hand. Yet it had been more honourable if it had moved first from the House. All liberty and power are fundamental in the people.
In 54, the first block then laid in your way was the Recognition at the doors, (fn. 26) and you know what followed. It was then six days contended. Give me leave to offer Judge Hale's (fn. 27) expedient, after debating six days together, that the single person in possession shall be the single person that shall exercise the supreme magistracy of these nations, with such powers, limitations, and qualifications as the Parliament afterwards shall declare. This was proposed, as what would be satisfactory, both within doors and abroad.
Mr. Godfrey. I rise, not to take up your time, but to second that motion, which will draw into consent most of our minds and judgments, and because it had good success when offered by Judge Hales, I hope that expedient will have the same effect now as then; but to pass it generally, leaves fears with me. If passed in the bare terms of the oath, it concludes us. I doubt, you will be bound up to the interpretation of your oath, in the largest sense.
I hope it will not give reason and ground of jealousy, that you pass not this so hastily as is moved you. What is represented to the judgments of this House under care and caution, will not be called jealousy, but your duty and prudence. And there is great reason to cautionate any prejudice that can be upon our rights and liberties, by a general question. There have been great sufferings by the after constructions upon general terms, whether in subscriptions, votes, or oaths. You will, uno statu, give all that is granted in the Petition and Advice. That has been urged to you, on the construction of the oath: One constituent power in that oath, the single person, made that use of it. It may, nay, it must, be so construed.
If you shall pass the general question, that he is Supreme Magistrate, and do no more, and rise after your vote, and then be dissolved, all the Judges in Westminster Hall would be bound by that vote. They would judge according to the law in being, the Petition and Advice, for that, de facto, is the law. Their work is not to question the power that made it. Therefore I desire that expedient may be added. I aim not at all to divert your question, but to make you more safe. We are not secure, as some move the question, unless something go along with it.
I think your appearance by his writ and call, owns him to be the single person: so that it is not the question, single person, or not single person. That is all at an end. Take caution against all the mischiefs that may follow, if it pass barely, and I shall freely concur with the question. It will put out all jealousies from men's minds, and at the same time, it will put you into a way of settling all things that are for the good of the people.
Mr. Gott. I shall not go back to times past, nor look forward to Oceana's (fn. 30) Platonical Commonwealth; things that are not, and that never shall be. We go about to grasp more, and lose that which we would have. I would have it plainly stated. We have a copy to write by, the oath we have taken. I would not have a debate about saying what we have sworn. His Highness's oath to us is also considerable. These are fundamentals. The last Parliament, though I was excluded, (fn. 31) did pen this with a great deal of care and caution. I would have us do so: neither add nor diminish from the oath. I would have the words of the recognition penned in the words of the oath. As Pilate said, "What I have written, I have written;" so what I have sworn, I have sworn. Our oath has bounded us and him too, to rule according to lex et consuetude Angliœ.
Mr.—. (fn. 32) If you should absolutely make him Lord Protector, you unbend him from that oath, unless you add, that he shall govern according to law.
The great quarrel between the King and us, was the Militia. Either he or we were guilty. I look on myself as guiltless of that blood. My conscience went along with the Parliament, after the King was brought to justice.
When the interest of the nation was suitable to government by Kings, (but that was when the constitution was another thing than now it is,) the people might live peaeeably and be happy under kings. This House of Lords must be a council of war.
I honour his Highness as much as any man that speaks here. It will not appear that they are his best friends that wish this for him. If we take the people's liberties from them, they will scratch them back again. I doubt those gentlemen that contend for the covenant, (fn. 33) are for King, Lords, and Commons. I doubt they would see this man dragged at a horse's tail, and King Charles set up.
I would have things settled for the Protector's honour and safety. (fn. 34) Such as shall desire to settle that upon him, which is not for the interest of the nation, will be injurious to the nation and to him.
All is gone when you give this vote, that is comprised in the Petition and Advice. Those powers are so great, that I had rather vote him in as King, upon the terms of former Kings, than give him this that is moved. We are between Scylla and Charybdis. I would not have too little power given, nor too great. This does actually give and put a royal construction upon whatever you have, contained in the Petition and Advice. He may deny it. He may die, which I fear more. I would trust him more than any man; but we must not trust that. I would have those gentlemen that think of another government, lay it aside, and only look to the fitting the Government to this single person, making it neither too wide nor too narrow. If it be not a present investiture of him actually with whatever is granted by the Petition and Advice, I wish I could learn it otherwise from the gentlemen of the long robe, if that vote does not add nor comprehend.
Colonel Matthews. I hope here is no driving of parties in this House. I am confident it is not his Highness's aim to grasp power, to the swallowing up the people's liberties. I am for what is offered. I would not substract any thing that is just for the Lord Protector to have, that he may see our desire to set him upon a clear foundation.
Captain Baynes. I wonder what is the necessity for this previous vote. We are returned to the law of nature. It is said in the Bill the people have all acknowledged him. I thought the people had been only here. Either he is so, or he is not so. If so, there is no necessity for this House declaring him so. If not, there is need of some consideration.
The Bill makes it hereditary. Where it speaks of successor, it mentions nothing of the Petition and Advice. It is fit you should be satisfied whether he be so. It should be made out. It makes him Supreme Magistrate, and gives him as great a power as ever King of England had. I would know what the words mean, if it give him not the executive and legislative power as fully as any King. Consider whether you do not put yourselves out of a capacity of recalling your liberties, by this step. First, you settle a monarch; one estate before the other two.
I hope the gentlemen in the Other House, that have fought against the negative voice, and for the militia, and got their estates by it, will not now turn contrary. I said, indeed, (fn. 35) four of them would not balance two knights. I. will explain this. There are forty knights in this House, that represent more than the property of all the Other House. The House of Lords, heretofore, could draw to the field half the nation. They had great dependencies. They had a foundation, a propriety, which was sufficient to support a third estate. The old Lords did stand in balance by their propriety.
We are not at the root and bottom of our business, The first thing is, to see the materials. All government is built upon propriety, else the poor must rule it. All nations are so. Let us therefore consider things before persons. (fn. 36) It was said, Moses was a king. You will find he was not so. The Jewish commonwealth was founded in propriety; and for fear of swallowing it up, and lest that Commonwealth should turn to a change, the year of Jubilee was appointed, that all lands should be restored, to balance proprieties. The Lacedæmonian Government was founded on propriety.
When the Lords were not able to maintain themselves, some of them truckled under the King, some under the Parliament, as they could shift; and by late experience, what a screen and complete balance were the Lords between the King and the people ? Do all that they could, the King, and themselves to boot, were most of them broken in pieces under the Commons.
The people were too hard for the King in property; and then in arms too hard for him. We must either lay the foundation in property, or else it will not stand. Property, generally, is now with the people; the government, therefore, must be there.
If you make a single person, he must be a servant, and not a lord; major singulis, minor omnibus. If you can find a House of Lords to balance property, do it. Else, let a senate be chosen by the election of the people, (fn. 37) on the same account. There must be a balance. (fn. 38)
Sir Henry Vane. (fn. 39) I rise not to trouble you at this time. Either adjourn for an hour, or till to-morrow. The more you see into it, the more you will see, when you come to embowel it. I hope you will take care Dot to be surprized.
Mr. Reynolds. I believe, if that honourable gentleman (fn. 40) that brought in the Bill, were here, he would move for the additional words; but for the honour of your House, I would have you not to pop off the question; but do it unanimously, and in a full House.
I would have no surprize to any, but would have it worded according to every man's conscience. I would have the question divided; for, if put generally, you will conclude some men's votes. I am against the adding those words in this question. It does imply a negative, quoad nos. You engage yourselves by a vote. The Bill has no life nor being till all be agreed on. It signifies nothing, till the Bill be passed. I would think of judges very ill, that should judge laws in fact. I would have you divide the question.
Colonel Terrill. I would have no man suspected to speak, the things over again, that have been spoken. It is against the orders of the House, to limit us to a question. Let us spend to-morrow, and then limit us to the question.
Mr. Barton. To a business of this nature, I come as rawly as ever. You are not come so near a question. I do not know but I may speak to it, and many gentlemen that want strength. Let us not suppose that disingenuity, that any man will speak over again. It is against a fundamental order that any man should have his liberty of speech taken from him.
Serjeant Maynard. If that gentleman had spoken this in another place, he should have been called to another place; for it is no such thing as a fundamental order of the House. There is nothing so usual, as to tie men up from speaking the same things over again.
The House rose at four of the clock, without agreeing upon any question to be taken up to-morrow; only adjourned the debate till to-morrow, and nothing to intervene. (fn. 41)
The Committee for ministers in Wales sat in the Exchequer Chamber, Serjeant Seys in the chair. Our Sub-Committee for approving and ejecting ministers met there, and adjourned to the Speaker's Chamber, and thence, till tomorrow afternoon, for want of a Committee.