Diary of Thomas Burton Esq: Volume 3, January - March 1659. Originally published by H Colburn, London, 1828.
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Tuesday, February 15, 1658–9.
I came late, and found a great many citizens at the bar, opening their great Petition, by Samuel Moyer. (fn. 1) I suppose most of them were Anabaptists.
After Moyer had spoken almost an hour, a great deal of cant language, the petitioners withdrew, and the petition was read. (fn. 2) It was very bulky in respect of the number of hands, principally levelling at the two great stakes, the militia and negative voice; and that no officer be removed, but by a Council of War.
Sir Arthur Haslerigge, Mr. Neville, Mr. Knightley and others, moved that the petitioners have thanks. But see the sequel. The table was turned; for they got neither thanks nor good affection. Such honour have all such factious petitioners.
1. It puts all power in a court-martial, without taking you in. (fn. 3)
2. I take notice of the agreement of the people. (fn. 4)
3. A declaration of an army, a Parliament sitting. Where a petition has a clog, with pamphlets— (fn. 5)
I never had office, nor seek office. I find in it a strong inducement for turning men out of office. This goes a great way. It argues more of self. Those that first engaged, did not seek themselves. They have their reward.
Sir Henry Vane. The name of single person you have settled. None will speak against it; but if you mean by that, the thing, I hope it will not be agreed. They desire nothing but what you have voted, and is for common right. It is not of particular grievances they complain, but of the discouragement of those that will act for their interest. If you could find out a way to discourage us, others will vote what the single person pleases. I would have a public spirit, if not a Commonwealth encouraged; and would express your receiving their desires with a great deal of courtesy.
Mr. Swinfen. I would have this caution along with your return to the petitioners, that the coming up in the name of boundless liberty may not destroy liberty; that unlimited liberty has been the source of all mischief. If we agree but the thing liberty, we shall not fall out about names. I would have general discourses laid aside. There is as much tyranny in liberty as otherwise. I would not stir up that liberty that leaves you no liberty here.
In regard it is the first petition, (fn. 6) your answer ought to be wary, lest you set petition against petition, and petitioner against petitioner. Only take notice of their soberness in acquiescing in your determinations. For their affections in that, give them thanks.
The known way to throw out officers, is only by a council of war, and it agrees very well with the liberty of the subject. If there be but one good thing in it, take notice of it, and say that you will take it into consideration, and acquaint them, that they may go home to their houses and mind their callings.
Mr. Trevor. I am glad those votes please the gentlemen so well, that were not so pleased with them before. I would give such an answer as may neither flatter nor discourage. I would have a grave answer. Let them know you have read the petition, and those things that concern the liberties of the people, you will have under consideration in due time.
Sir George Booth. I have been as much for the rights and liberties of the people as any man. I doubt there is not such peaceable intentions in this petition. He that would plunge my country into blood, I must fly in his face. (fn. 7) A gentleman heard one of them say great things to this purpose. It is Colonel Grosvenor. This intimates that it comes with no such peaceable intentions as it seems to hold forth.
It seems Colonel Grovenor said, he heard one Colonel White say, that rather than part with a Commonwealth, he would wade to the neck in English blood. He said it in the lobby, but knows not whether he was a petitioner or no.
It was carried in the negative almost by one hundred votes; (fn. 8) and the petitioners were dismissed with this only; that the House would, in due time, take into consideration such parts of the petition as were fit for them to consider of. (fn. 9)
The House rose at one. (fn. 10)
The Committee of Privileges sat in the House till nine at night, upon the business of Malton. (fn. 11) They did not determine it; but it is clear for Mr. Howard against Robinson.