Diary of Thomas Burton Esq: Volume 3, January - March 1659. Originally published by H Colburn, London, 1828.
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Wednesday, February 23, 1658–9.
I came in late, and the Duke of Buckingham had been at the bar according to order of the House. (fn. 1) In the Journals thus:
Mr. Speaker acquainted the Duke, that a Petition having been delivered from him to this House on Monday last, by a person of honour, one of the members thereof, and nearly related to him; the House had taken into a due consideration the Duke's demerits, which had been very great to this Commonwealth; but had overbalanced them with the high merit of his relations; and of their goodness had ordered, that, upon his own engagement, upon his honour, and of the Lord Fairfax in twenty thousand pounds, that he should not abet any, the enemies of this Commonwealth, either at home or abroad, he should have his enlargement; which engagement they now expected from him.
The Duke, standing at the bar, said, he accounted it his great happiness to come before this assembly; and that, in pursuance, and, according to the order of this House, he did here now engage himself to this House, upon his honour, to demean himself peaceably and quietly, and not to join with, or abet, or have any correspondence with, any the enemies of this Commonwealth, either at home or abroad, for the future.
Resolved, &c. That George Duke of Buckingham, upon this his engagement upon his honour, made to this House this day at the bar, be forthwith freed and discharged from the imprisonment and restraint he is now under. (fn. 2)
Major-general Packer. As I was going home on Saturday night, a gentleman, being drunk, switched my horse and then myself. I was content to pass on the road with the abuse, till I came to a town and called for a constable.
A rude ranting Cavalier swore "God damn him," often. He was one of the King's knights. He and his complices have boasted much of this. I chose rather to show my valour in another way. The person is Mr: Henry, alias Sir Henry Wroth (fn. 3).
I would have the worthy member have a reprehension for concealing this information from you: for it seems, if he had but held his tongue when he was sober, he had never troubled him. I would have no member to keep any thing in his pocket, not an hour, of this nature.
Mr. Topham, (Alderman of York). I lived in the eastern parts thirty years. There are many oppressions upon our merchants. The Spaniards were always plotting to grasp the trade, and the Spanish commanders rule all there.
Sir Thomas Roe (fn. 4) demanded of us the merchants, which might be the best way for the good of our own nation. The King of Denmark hath dealt treacherously with England. He hath been always plotting against us, and ever our enemy. We pay more taxes than any other nation. He kept up our 100th penny, then doubled it, then took four times as much. In wars between us and the King, (fn. 5) he seized all our ships, pretending order from the King.
Two masters of Hull were at the Baltic, in October last, being laden with corn. One of them carried a packet from the King of Sweden, and brought one back again. He affirmed that the King offered, if his Highness of England would but lend him twenty frigates, he would deposit in our hands Elsinore (fn. 6) Castle, for his security, and I believe we might have our own terms. Nothing under heaven concerns the English so much as that channel. Let us plant our ships in time there, and we have advantage enough of the Hollander.
Captain Whalley. I hope this House will think it necessary to send a fleet to cover our interest in the Sound. I shall not speak of the difference between the princes; but we are the fittest umpires. The Hollander will use harder arguments.
I am jealous of that neighbour of ours, because he is a rival at our trade. His sending 4000 soldiers (fn. 7) is very commendable. The preparation of the Dutch seems to tell you what you are to do. It will be necessary that you be included in the treaty. If there be a war, will it not be necessary that you have a fleet to secure your interest there and guard your merchants?
My motion is, that you recommend the care of this to his Highness and the Council, and make what salvo you please for the militia; lest we suffer by a public enemy, while we are over eagerly jealous over one another about our interests at home.
Mr. ——. (fn. 8) We are not upon a business of war, as I apprehend it. The object of this design has a great deal of glory, and honour, and bounty in it, and it is but just when the ball of contention is thrown, that we see for a share of it. If this be not well looked to, it will diminish all trade.
The wisdom of prevention is always best, at the latter end. I apprehend it not that it concludes the business of your militia. I would have it, to prevent delay, recommended to his Highness; it being, in itself, both just, honourable, and profitable.
Let us consider well how we engage between these two Protestant princes; unless to make peace. I would have us well satisfied of the state of the quarrel. The justice of the war is first to be considered and made out. I move to endeavour a reconciliation between the two Protestant princes.
Major-general Kelsey. Time will not admit of debate, to examine the grounds of the quarrel, for, before we can be certified of the state of affairs, as to the justness of the quarrel, the point will be determined, and no place left for debate. It is of greater consequence than we are aware of, to the sale of our commodities and the increase of our navigation.
If we take not this opportunity, we destroy our trade. Our wool and cloth are vented this way, and we have a return of cordage, &c. If that trade be taken from us, we cannot subsist. All our trade to all other parts of the world will decay. Our rivals will be, inevitably, our masters. They not long since would have sent us white paper to write what we pleased. To them we must now send white paper to write what they please upon. Two kingdoms and the Commonwealth of Holland are very much concerned in this quarrel. Thus there is a combination of several enemies against the King of Sweden, and he hath none to stand by him, in this exigency and strait. Unless we assist him he is undone. It will either force him to a mean compliance or else utterly destroy him.
If we had to do only with the Dane and Swede, the thing were not very considerable, but the Dutch are most in our eye, and we most in theirs. The Dane is in that condition, that all his confederates can do him no good, without the assistance of the Dutch. If so, it need not be much insisted on, what the inference will be. It matters not whether the Swede or Dane have it.
As to the objection of a war with Holland. There is no other way under heaven to prevent that war, than by sending this fleet into the Sound. They have experience of your strength at sea. But if they get the Sound into their hands, you must not expect any freedom, but what you make with the sword.
We may by this make peace between the two princes that it may be in the hands of neither of them wholly. We should have our eye upon our own present interest. If it should please God to divert the councils in this great business, the consequence may be dangerous.
Sir William D'Oyley. I came with some prejudice to this debate, upon the principle of good husbandry; but the debate has made me your convert. I would have this business sent back to his Highness, and twenty frigates sent out presently; and let the Commissioners of Admiralty prepare farther assistances.
Sir Henry Vane. I shall only speak to the manner of your proceeding, and to save time. The end of Mr. Secretary's report was to have a powerful navy at sea this summer. That, I think, is every man's sense, and with expedition too.
I believe we all agree that this year we should have a powerful well-manned fleet at sea; but I would not have such a general vote, lest more may be carried than is intended, and we grant what we know not.
1. Here is the expenditure of a million of money presented to you, and you draw that debt upon you. I hope your Committee, touching the accounts, will find out a way that your revenue already settled, being well managed, will defray this charge; and not involve us further, before we see what our affairs are. It is propounded that you have a very considerable navy at sea, 15,000 men. I hope you will have money before you, to furnish them.
2. By this very vote you grant away your approbation, if not disposal of your chief commanders at sea, which I suppose is your right. It is very fit you should know who they are and approve of them, which was never denied you. You, also, give up the right of the militia. If you consent to give away that which is in your disposal, you do not do prudentially.
I would have you first resolve that for the safety of trade of this nation, &c. You will have 15,000 men raised, and appoint a Committee to consult with the Commissioners of the Navy and Admiralty, how this may be put in a way with the least charge; and to report the state of this expedition to the House.
Mr. Trevor. That the militia should not be disposed of without your consent is a right, I suppose, you will never part with. His Highness does not seem to demand it of you, by his submitting this to you. He that asks authority, assents that he of whom it is demanded, hath it. I doubt the present juncture of affairs will not admit of a delay. The opportunities may be lost in a few days. All considerations of officers of Navy and council, and militia, are all reserved entire unto you. Your men and officers are all ready to go out. They are now all aboard, or very near it. I would have all things left clear, and that you make this reference to his Highness and council.
Sir Arthur Haslerigge. I am sorry to hear this pressing upon you of the word necessity. It caused shipmoney., Oh ! woful, lamentable necessity. Oh, Sir, why is so much put upon us ? I love not to see you overwitted. You are not to be overwitted. Why were we not called five months since? Why was not this matter brought in before the Bill of Recognition ? You are owning the single person, and his council by this means. Must we own the council, too, before we know them. Have you limited his council ?
The gentleman in the corner gave me light. I hope we shall have a navy, as great as we can bear at this time, and with all expedition. He tells me that may be done, and there is money too to be had; he is quick-sighted, I know it very well. When our affairs, as to the Navy, were such as we could not turn ourselves unto them, did we not turn our eyes upon that gentleman, by whose providence it was so excellently managed. (fn. 9) We turned out all our army by a self-denying ordinance. (fn. 10) Oh, Sir, I would to God we had a self-denying vote now. I think we should give better advice than we now do.
Bound your single person, and my soul shall go along with you. Let us not be put to fight it over again and to make acts to bound the council table. I know not this council, nor what are their names, and shall never give my consent to their stipends. I would have as potent a fleet forthwith set out, but would have this referred to the Commissioners of the Navy, and to have inspection into our treasures by your Committee of Accounts. Search your treasures. This is weak but faithful council. For my part I shall get nought by confusion. I would not have it. I apprehend it not prudent to reflect upon those that you are in amity with. I would have a very great fleet.
I neither think it prudence you should tell what you mean to do with the fleet, neither would I have you give it out of your hands at once, to you do not know where. Sir, we have enough here within ourselves to carry on this work. We have done it, when we were not so wise as we now are.
If your officers should be called back again, that happily have received your imprest money, that will give you new imprest money. I am afraid there is much of that kind of reason in this debate, as if we were in time of peace.
It ought to be our greatest consideration to keep out that family and line. (fn. 11) We had better be at the bottom of the sea; nay, they that would bring them in, had better be at the bottom of the sea.
The late king had not so faithful an ally as Denmark. Holland the nursery of arms, was at that time against you. They are, at this time, confederates with the house of Austria, your great and potent enemy.
Let us be ingenuous in this business and hearken to nought that may be matter of delay. Refer it to his Highness and the Council, to make a vigorous prosecution of sending a fleet to cover your just interest in the Sound.
I move that a very considerable navy be forthwith provided and put to sea, for the safety of this Commonwealth and the preservation of the trade and commerce thereof. (fn. 12)
Sir William Wheeler. I move that the care of this be referred to his Highness and the Council. (fn. 13) I have always observed, that these jealousies have been easily passed over.
I would have this vote made effectual. Therefore refer it to your Committe of Accounts, to examine, if the fleet already provided, or the money already taxed, will answer this business; and I hope you will have the officers before you, at least, to approve of them.
Lord Lambert. I move to appoint a Committee to prepare this business, that the world may see the Parliament of England are concerned in it. Let your Committee be declared, in number, five or six, not exceeding seven, that may wait upon his Highness, to consider of a way how to carry on this business.
Mr. Knightley. I second that motion, that a Committee of seven may wait upon his Highness and advise with him, to carry on this business, and to join with those of the council that he shall appoint to be employed in this service; and I would be as free as any, if there be a necessity.
You have resolved a very considerable navy, but what you will do with it, non constat. Fifteen thousand men were desired by his late Highness, and a fleet considerable, either for the affairs of France, or for any other service. Besides this fleet, you have other considerable navies, to guard your seas, and the trade in the straits. I therefore desire you would resolve something more in particular, of this affair.
Your neighbours, the Dutch, are not ashamed to publish, that they are preparing to send a fleet for assistance of the King of Denmark. Why should we fear to declare that we are preparing a fleet for preservation of our interest in the Baltic seas.
I am sorry this business has not been made known to the House before now. It is now before you, and your navy is already in great forwardness. I pray you, for the concernments of England, that you would declare that you will send a considerable fleet to secure your interest in the Baltic seas. If you lose opportunities, they will never be recovered; for if you should put all the vigour upon it that this House could, I fear it would not answer your expectation of the affair.
Sir Henry Vane. So far as I was able to calculate, I told you I thought that the excise and customs already settled, would bear this charge without any other tax. I did not tell you that any money was ready.
Mr. Solicitor-general. It is not for your service at present to interpose with his Highness, now when the navy is ready for action. I would have some of this House appointed to attend his Highness with this vote, and that you desire his care in managing the business. There is another House in the constitution.
Sir Henry Vane. It concerns you exceedingly to look about you. The question will inevitably involve you in the business of the militia, and negative voice, and the other House. This House by silence cannot suffer; by a vote they may.
I suppose his Highness and Council (though you be silent in it) will go on with the business. There is nought to hinder but this fleet shall be at sea. But to send a Committee to his Highness, or to the Lords, you will put entanglements upon you. It is intended, I suppose, to go on, though you say nought; and the less you say the better. (fn. 14)
Mr. Trevor. I desire this expedition may go on. Therefore make no reference that may retard it. A Committee will retard it, and the opportunity is lost. If I had thought the business would go on without you, I should not have troubled you. It is now before you to give order how this fleet shall go on. I would therefore have it referred to his Highness, barely, without the Council.
The House rose at two o'clock, and adjourned the debate till to-morrow, (fn. 15) eight o'clock, nothing to intervene.
The Committee of Grievances sat upon the business of Major Portman (fn. 16).
Major Portman was brought to the bar, and Sir John Barkstead (fn. 17) sent in the warrant for his imprisonment by a member; but the Committee would not be satisfied till Sir John Barkstead came himself to the bar. Colonel Terrill would not call him Lord Barkstead. It was said that it was not fit for a Lord of the other House to be a gaoler.
He produced a warrant from his Highness for Portman's commitment, and also a letter all writ with his Highness's own hand, to him directed, desiring him to seize Major-general Harrison, (fn. 18) Mr. Feak, Rogers, Portman, Carew, and another (fn. 19) named in the letter; and said further, "and other eminent Fifth Monarchy men." The latter words were highly excepted against by thé Committee, and the general sense was that it was a high breach of the liberties of the subject, and,
Resolved, that the imprisonment of Mr. Portman was unjust and illegal. (fn. 20)
Resolved, that the debate touching the bounds and powers of another House, appointed, to be taken up to-morrow morning, by the order made yesterday, be further adjourned until Friday morning, next; and then proceeded in according to the former order.
Mr. Secretary Thurloe being chosen to serve as a member of this present Parliament for the University of Cambridge, for Wisbeach, and for Huntingdon, declared that he made choice to serve for the University of Cambridge.