Diary of Thomas Burton Esq: Volume 3, January - March 1659. Originally published by H Colburn, London, 1828.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
Monday, February 7, 1658–9.
Lord Falkland was called in upon the report from the Committee of Privileges. (fn. 1)
William King was released this morning upon his petition. (fn. 2) He has not sat so long in prison as he did in the House.
Sir Walter Earle. You drowned an eel when you sent him to the Tower, where he has a house and good accommodation. He has been but a little while imprisoned. He is in orders. I hope you will not think him capable of being a member; so that his reason ceaseth. (fn. 3)
Mr. Goodrick. I move to have him bound to good behaviour, as usual in dealing with offenders of this kind. (fn. 4)
Mr. Weaver, Mr. Walter Young, and Mr. Neville. The mace cannot go without an order, because the Judges and Commissioners of the Seal are removed to another House. It cannot be presumed but that your members should attend.
Mr. Weaver. By the orders of the House, a business of this nature was never taken up. till ten 0'clock. (fn. 5) The House being full, I question the reason.
The Act intitled, "An Act of Recognition of his Highness's right, and title to be Protector and Chief Magistrate of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland, and the dominions and territories thereunto belonging," was read the second time. (fn. 6)
Sir Arthur Haslerigge. I wonder not at this silence in a business of this weight. I have much weakness upon me. (fn. 7)
The business that we are about, is the setting up a power over this nation. It will be necessary, for method's sake, to consider what we have been; what we are, and what we shall be I must beg patience to look far back. Time was, this nation had seven kings, and no doubt but the strongest put down the weakest, against the will of the rest. I never knew any single person to have power, willing to lay it down. After it was in one single person, then came in the Conqueror. The Kentishmen stood up for their liberties, and in some sort, preserved liberty to all the rest. (fn. 8)
Succeeding Kings, sons and others, began to grow very oppressive to the people's liberties. Then rose up the noble Barons who struggled so long, till with their swords, they obtained our Magna Charta. (fn. 9) That our Barons were men of great power, appears by what they compelled the King to grant; the whole estate being in them and the Bishops, Abbots, and King. They were so great, and sensible of their greatness.
The Government was then in King and Parliament, Lords and Commons sitting altogether. (fn. 10) They withdrew and went into another House, to make a distinct jurisdiction. Thus the Lords had all but the power of the purse, which, to this day, preserved the liberties of the nation. Then the Government was enlarged into three estates, King, Lords, and Commons, and continued thus above three hundred years. (fn. 11)
As all governments have their beginning from time, so time puts an end to them. The government, continuing so long, it had contracted rust. The people groaned under great oppression, both as men and Christians.
The Council Table bit like a serpent; the Star Chamber like scorpions. Two or three gentlemen could not stir out, for fear of being committed for a riot. Our souls and consciences were put on the rack by the Archbishop. We might not speak of Scripture, or repeat a sermon at our tables. Many godly ministers were sent to find their bed in the wilderness. (fn. 12) The oppression was little less in the lower courts and in the special courts.
Altars were set up, and bowing to them enjoined. Pictures were placed in Church-windows, and images set up at Durham, and elsewhere (fn. 13); with many other exorbitances introduced, both in Church and State. The Archbishop would not only impose on England, but on Scotland, to bring in the Book of Common-Prayer upon them. They liked it not, and, as luck would have it, they would not bear it. (fn. 14) He prevailed with the King to raise an army to suppress them. The King prevailed with his nobles to conquer them into it. He went to their country, and finding himself not able to conquer them, came back.
He called a Parliament, which was named the Little, or Broken Parliament, disbanded not his army, but propounded that we should give him a great sum to maintain the war against Scotland. We debated it, but the consequence of our debate made him fear we would not grant it. We had, if he had suffered us to sit. Then did Strafford and his Council advise him to break us and to rule arbitrarily, and that he had an army in Ireland to make it good. For this Strafford lost his head. (fn. 15) The King suddenly broke that Parliament. (fn. 16) I rejoice in my soul it was so. He raised the gallantest army that ever was, the flower of the gentry and nobility. The Scots raised too, and sent their declaration into England, that by the law of God and nature they might rise up for their own preservation; and thus they came into England. At Newburn the armies met. We were worsted. God was pleased to disperse our army, and give them the day. The Scots passed Newburn, and advanced to Newcastle. (fn. 17)
Then some of our nobles, Say, Essex, and Scroop, humbly petitioned his Majesty for a Parliament. He, seeing danger, called a Parliament. This was the Long Parliament. The first proposition was to raise money for the Scots. We gave them a brotherly assistance of 300,000l. They showed themselves brethren and honest men, and peaceably returned. Then money was pressed for our own army. The House, considering how former Parliaments had been dealt with, was unwilling to raise money till the Act was passed (fn. 18) not to dissolve the Parliament but by their own consent. It passed freely by King, Lords, and Commons. This was wonderful; the very hand of God that brought it to pass; for no man could then foresee the good that Act produced.
The King then practised with the Scots, then with his army, to assist him against this Parliament, and to make them sure to his particular interest. Sir John Conyers discovered it, to his everlasting fame. Mr. Pym acquainted the House. Divers officers of the army, Lord Goring, Ashburn. ham, Pollard, and others, were examined here. (fn. 19) They all absented. The House desired of the King, that they might be brought to justice; but the King sent them away beyond sea.
The King demanded five members, by his Attorney-General. He then came personally to the House, with five hundred (fn. 20) men at his heels, and sat in your chair. (fn. 21) It pleased God to hide those members. I shall never forget the kindness of that great Lady, the Lady Carlisle, that gave timely notice. Yet some of them were in the House, after the notice came. It was questioned if, for the safety of the House, they should be gone; but the debate was shortened, and it was thought fit for them, in discretion, to withdraw. Mr. Hampden and myself being then in the House, withdrew. Away we went. The King immediately came in, and was in the House before we got to the water.
The Queen, on the King's return, raged and gave him an unhandsome name, "poltroon," (fn. 22) for that he did not take others out; and certainly if he had, they would have been killed at the door.
Next day the King went to the City. They owned the members. (fn. 23) Thereupon he left the Parliament, and went from step to step, till he came to York, and set up his standard at Nottingham, and declared the militia was in him.
The House of Lords then sent down to declare that the King had broken his trust. The word of the King, seduced by evil counsel, lost us forty lords. The House declared the militia to be in them. (fn. 24) That was then a great question. Commissioners were then sent out in the name of the King and Parliament. Then was there the King against the Parliament, and Parliament against him. (fn. 25) There was at this time, no thought to alter Government. We met at Edgehill. The King went to Oxford, and gave thanks for the victory, and we at London gave thanks for the victory: (fn. 26) and so it was in many other battles. Thus the English pushed on both sides, and much precious English blood was spilt on the ground. Several propositions, at length, were tendered; but God hardened his heart. He would not accept. Then we came to make a new model, and a Self-denying Ordinance. Thereupon this noble Lord (fn. 27) was chosen the Parliament's General. The Commission as to him, was from the Parliament only; the name "King" was left out. I appeal to all the world for the undeniable, the unquestionable victories after that. We had not one doubtful battle. The King after that never gave thanks. In process of time, there were propositions, again and again, seven, eight, or nine times,—at least seven times,— sent to the King, desiring, for ourselves, our ancient liberties with our ancient Government, but his heart was still hardened. Next we shall find him in the Isle of Wight, where the last propositions were tendered to him. (fn. 28) He would not consent, though his sword was broken, and he was in the lowest condition. He denied. Many gentleman in this House, of great worth, foreseeing our troubles, apprehended there was enough in the King's condescensions for a well-grounded peace. But the officers of the army were otherwise opinioned. Finding the King not sufficiently humbled, they thought the good cause would be betrayed. The officers seized several members. (fn. 29) Those that stayed within, asked for them, but could not have them.
They seized upon the King, demanded justice, and brought him to judgment. He would not answer, not owning our authority, because he was accountable only to God; whereas, God never made such a creature, to govern men, and not to be accountable to men. Yet he received his judgment, and submitted his head quietly to the block. The edge of justice struck it off. See the wonderful hand of God! The King dead, some members of the House, the late General, and Commissary-general Ireton, they would have it determined, (which the wisdom of the House thought meet) that not only this line, nocent and innocent, but that kingship should be abolished, as dangerous useless and burthensome. (fn. 30) Then there was an end of one of the three estates. The Lords, most of. them being gone, the remainder, amazed and troubled at this, adjourned their House; but never came again unto it. As they had their beginning from themselves, so they had their end from themselves. The Commons approved the Lords' adjournment, and did by them as they had done by the King: and there was an end of that estate. Two of the three estates were thus gone. Then, for the third estate, that, God knows! had been much shattered and broken. Force was much upon us. What should we do ? We turned ourselves into the Commonwealth. By advice of the soldiers among us, a declaration to that purpose went out from the Army. We continued four years, before we were put an end to. In which time, I appeal to all, if the nation, that had been blasted and torn, began not exceedingly to flourish. At the end of the four years, scarce a sight to be seen that we had had a war. Trade flourished; the City of London grew rich; we were the most potent by sea that ever was known in England. Our Navy and Armies were never better.
Yet, after these estates were ended, we found a new trouble. The wars were not then ended. Waters broke out. A strong remnant got into Colchester. Our brethren of Scotland were not so firm upon that great shaking of kingship. We sent an army into Scotland, to Colchester, to Wales. This noble Lord (fn. 31) went to the gates of Colchester and conquered, and put an end to all the English war. Then a general was sent into Scotland. Our late Protector that died was then general of all our forces. You know the great mercy. There we obtained that memorable victory at Dunbar. What care did the Parliament then take to furnish their army from London with all necessaries, by land and in ships; all provided with the greatest diligence. None but a numerous company of good and honest-hearted men could have done the like. The King of Scots came in with a great army. Twenty thousand men came suddenly and freely to Worcester. The people voluntarily rise and assist, in the greatest numbers that were ever read. The Scotch Army returned, not three in a company. Man by man they returned in rags. This battle, the 3d of September, 1651, put an end to all the miseries of war in England and Scotland. Our wars in Ireland were then not considerable.
This done, it is true here was only remaining a little part of that triple cord, and you know what became of them. I heard, being seventy miles off, that it was propounded that we should dissolve our trust, and dissolve it into a few hands. I came up and found it so; that it was resolved in a junto at the Cockpit. I trembled at it, and was, after, there and bore my testimony against it. I told them the work they went about was accursed. I told them it was impossible to devolve this trust. Next day, we were labouring here in the House on an act to put an end to that Parliament and to call another. I desired the passing of it with all my soul. The question was putting for it, when our General stood up, and stopped the question, and called in his Lieutenant, with two files of musqueteers, with their hats on their heads, and their guns loaden with bullets. Our General told us we should sit no longer to cheat the people. The Speaker, a stout man, was not willing to go. He was so noble, that he frowned and said he would not out of the chair, till he was plucked out; which was quickly done, without much compliment, by two soldiers, and the mace taken: and there was an end of the third estate also. (fn. 32) I rejoiced then, from the soul, that the question was not put. But I would have passed the severest sentence upon those that did this horrid business, that ever was passed upon men, and would have been from my heart the executioner of it. But I forgive them now, both the dead and the living. There was no possibility to dissolve this Parliament, the remaining part of the three estates, but by our own officer. He only had power. Our enemies had none.
Surely all the English blood was not spilled in vain ? It was a glorious work of our Saviour to die on the cross for our spirituals. This is as glorious a work for our civils, to put an end to the King and Lords. The right is, originally, without all doubt, in the people. Undeniably and most undoubtedly it reverts to the people: the power being taken away. Like the gordian knot, it asked but Hercules's (fn. 33) sword to cut this knot. This done, our General, in 1653, looked on himself as having all power devolved upon himself: a huge mistake ! The power was then in the people. If by conquest he had come in, he might have had something to say. It was, undoubtedly in the people. It was a mistake in him; you shall see it. (fn. 34)
He was pleased to select a number of gentlemen, good, honest men, (fn. 35) hither brought. He gave them power. They came into this House, and voted themselves a Parliament. They acted high in some things, and soon cracked. Some of them ran to Whitehall, and returned their power. (fn. 36) Whence it came, thither it went. Judge whether power could pass thus, either to or from him.
This not serving the turn, then there was contrived an Instrument of Government, (fn. 37) with our General at the head of it. This was first delivered to him in Westminster Hall. The Judges, most that were in town, and the Mayor and Aldermen of the City of London, were summoned, few knowing what it was for. There was an oath in this Instrument, which he took; and after that took upon him the name of Protector.
After that, a Parliament was called to confirm this. I was chosen one of those that the people sent up. Something was put in the writ, concerning our owning of this government in that Parliament; but, come hither, some gentlemen were pleased to say, being in the dark. I remember one learned gentleman, very well read in Scripture, said openly, that "other foundation than that could no man lay," (the latter words left out) Others said that the Parliament and Protector were twins, but the Parliament was the elder brother.
I then said no one Parliament could limit or impose upon me in any other. This doctrine was not well liked by the Protector. We were all turned out Such a thing as never was done ! An oath was made without doors, to be taken by us, and was set at the door. Those that would take it came in. Those that would not, were kept out by pikes. (fn. 38) Knowing the privilege, that no power without doors could make an oath, I went away, and divers more gentlemen.
Then came the last Parliament, in 1656. I was again chosen, but not for any particular place; but for the whole county. When we came I found pikes again; one set to my breast. I could not pass without a ticket from the Council. I found in the hall above fifty of us. We joined in a letter to the Speaker; (fn. 39) declaring our willingness to serve, and that we were kept out. After two or three days attendance we were sent to the Council for a ticket. I durst do no such thing. I had lifted up my hands to God for the privilege of Parliament. I could not do it. Two hundred were kept out. Upon this, divers that had been admitted left the House.
Then the government fell dangerously sick, and it died. Another foundation was laid; a Petition and Advice; and this must be the law and the foundation of all! And these must be the fruits, all we must enjoy, after the spilling of so much blood and so much treasure ! Pardon me, if I thus make bare my mind to you.
This was a forced Parliament, because some of us were forced out; an imperfect Parliament, a lame Parliament, so much dismembered. We are here the freest, and clearest, and most undoubted representatives that ever were since the desolation of the three estates, King, Lords, and Commons. I know not one member kept out: if I did, I would on my knees beg his admittance. I hope God will direct us how to get out of this great darkness, as the minister told us that we have been in since this great desolation. What was done in the last Parliament is not a sufficient foundation to bring peace and settlement to this nation. The people of England were never more knowing and sensible of their privileges and liberties, nor better prepared to have a settlement from this free representative. We can do here whatsoever is for the good of the people. We have power over their purses and persons; can take away whole laws, or part of them, or make new ones. (fn. 40) I will tell you what we cannot do. We cannot set up any power equal to the people; either in one person, or another House. We are trusted with no such power.
God is the King of this great island, as Mr. Calamy told us. I hope he is King of our hearts. God has done this work. King, Lords, and Commons: it was not in our thoughts at first. Let not us set up what God has pulled down; not plant what God has rooted up, lest we be said to build against God.
We see what a confusion we are in. We have not prospered. Our army at Jamaica prospered not. (fn. 41) The trade and glory of the nation are much diminished. The council have been exceedingly bewildered. The government you see twice set up, presently pulled down. The strange oppression by making Acts of Parliament without a Parliament; (fn. 42) raising monies; denying habeas corpus; sending learned long robe gentlemen to the Tower, for asserting Magna Charta, such as all the Kings of England never did; (fn. 43) all this because we knew not the good mind of God. We were in darkness. It is God's mercy that we are here to declare ourselves in this place.
I shall now come to speak to the bill, whether to be committed or not. I confess, I do love the person of the Lord Protector. I never saw nor heard either fraud or guile in him. I wish only continuance of wealth, health, and safety to his family. I wish the greatest of honour and wealth of any man in this nation to him and his posterity; but this bill to recognize is a hard word. I never heard of such a bill but in King James's case; which was to declare him of the undoubted line to the crown, and so having a right to succeed. We must here take for granted the government, the Petition and Advice, which was not done in a free Parliament. It may be skinned over for a time, but will break out. The people are not pleased. What foundation soever is built, let it rise from us, that are the clear representatives. For the authority itself, it appears by that Petition that the Protectorate was for his life; but it appears hot how he appointed his successor; we must not take that upon trust, but be fully satisfied. I would not have this committed at present; but let it lie here. Never begin with the person first, but agree what trust he shall have. I forget not the great cause of our mischiefs, the influence of the kings over the judges. To make the King judge of necessity; that cut all our purses, that brought all our evil upon us. I would have us seriously advise and consider what we may do, as the people's representatives. The way of wisdom is everlasting peace. There is no danger to the nation, so long as this representative sits here. They are the supreme power. The way to prevent fire is to do our duties. We shall be preserved from the fire of hell and the fire of men. Let us let this rest, and consider of foundation stones. If a single person be thought best, to be accountable to the people for mal-administration, I shall submit to the majority.
Mr. Bulkeley. The gentleman has done the House a great deal of right in the narrative; yet he has something omitted whereby those gentlemen that were then at school, whereof I am one, may be misled. I shall collect his omissions of part of the history.
Self-defence, undoubtedly, is in this House. The King protected delinquents against justice. This was one of the causes of war. Exorbitancy, in the Church Government; toleration of popery; many causes of the war.
You engaged in a war. God was pleased to give an answerable success. We held forth the grounds of our war, and appealed to God, angels, and men, that success should not mislead us. We engaged the whole body on this score: all with confidence that we should all hold to the case as then stated. True, in the latter part; you were more successful; but your army was less exorbitant at first. You were engaged upon a solemn league and covenant, (fn. 44) as highly and solemnly as could be to engage men's hearts. This was a link to the three nations. This was thrown behind your door as an almanack out of date. (It was said so here.) We sent away our brethren with frowns. After Colchester surrendered, (fn. 45) proposals went to the King, and personal addresses. I was one sent, so can give the better account. They were persons, generally, of as great ability and integrity as the nation had We brought a good return; but, we being not then ripe for the mercy of peace, it was blasted. This deserved a debate, a solemn debate. There were near three hundred; a great House in those days. It was taken up on Monday morning, and continued all that night till next morning. I cannot say it was without interruptions, for we had papers of terrors from the army sent in to us. There was a story of the long sword, (fn. 46) by that gentleman. I wish I had never heard it. We came to a question, and it was carried with a vote, (no question then of the Government) sixty against it. Many votes of aged persons were lost, and interruptions, else there had been two to one. The House adjourned.
The next morning (fn. 47) I found Colonel Pryde at the door, and heard one by him tell him, "This is the person." I came through pikes and muskets. I was arrested by that gentleman. He asked my name. I would not tell him. I said I was a member. He said, "You have a mark upon you. You are a noted man." I asked for my charge. When he saw I would not go quietly, two ushered me up into Surrey Court, where I found thirty, and fifteen came after. We were kept in hold that night; then ushered to Whitehall; and kept there till next day two o'clock, without food or conveniency. We were carried to the King's Head, and other inns, with great reproach. To prison we had coaches, because it was dirty weather. It is said, it was not done in this House. I could say it was contrived here; and somewhat else too. Five members were appointed to examine every member upon the point of that vote, what his judgment was.
A government was brought in; a Commonwealth, I was going to say; a monster was introduced, and that was dis solved, without either coroner or inquest upon it. (fn. 48) This brought another change. It is new to me that ever it was moved to resign up their power to a single person. If that gentleman refused, I shall honour him for it. It is said the Commonwealth flourished.
After this we had an Instrument of Government, which had much of good in it, but in the bowels of it took away your rights. That liberty was not left you which is your due: not that I would set the crown upon the head of the people. I gave my attendance to that Parliament that was called by it. Never Parliament gave out their spirits and labours, to make a happy government and foundation for posterity as they did. That unhappily fell from the gentleman, "other foundation," (fn. 49) &c.; that might have been spared. But at length it was submitted to our debate; and if that had gone on, it had provided well to circumscribe the single person: only it had not another House in it.
I am engaged, in my place and calling, to promote a House of Lords. Those Lords that were faithful, it were the greatest dishonour that ever were to kick them out. You have it materially before you. I hope it is the purpose of this House that the Government be submitted to them. It was hastily done. Holding fast the head: that is to say, a single person and another House, you may debate the parts. It is improperly moved to reject it, and not to proceed upon it.
Unless the chief magistrate have this approbation, every rascal may affront the chief magistrate. He may be arrested, which a member of this House has a privilege against. I would have that about the other House laid aside, and take the recognition singly. Let that about the other House come singly, as to qualifying them; to prevent returning to that government, which that worthy gentleman in his motion aims at. To acquiesce in that which they see against the sense of the nation, were madness.
Mr. Scot. It was moved that you first digest a government, and then fit the person. The last motion does antici pate your resolution. We may have liberty to propound any government to the people. Salus populi will warrant it. I am not fond of any child of my own. I shall say as Hushai said, (fn. 50) "What God and this people do, I shall acquiesce in."
If bound by the Covenant, (fn. 51) you must restore the House of Lords as it was, and the like by the King. His last expression is a felo de se. I shall mind you of one hiatus, the first rape committed on this House, by the apprentices that came here (fn. 52) and told us we must vote the King here in safely. After the scabbard was thrown away, we must call home our irreconcileable enemy, to be at his pleasure. If the House had held to it, it had been too hot for you. We denied it. There was discourse at the door, too much countenanced. They said our guts should be about our ears if we did not vote it. The attack oh the Train Bands was countenanced and abetted by the profane Cavaliers. Still God bore witness against that family; that cursed family! I may call it so yet. None adheres to it but he carries mischief with him. Many of us were forced to go to the army for safety; while others sat safely here and made laws. All these things were done flagrante bello, interruptions on both sides. I confess I was one of that Parliament that sat. As to the privilege of Parliament, it has been sufficiently told you. The Covenant was not called an Almanack. (fn. 53) By virtue of that Covenant I took myself obliged to all I did.
This was hammered in Scotland, (fn. 54) — and agreed to destroy the King's person, if he will not carry it so as to preserve religion and liberty. (fn. 55) I must then stand and fall by the judgment of those gentlemen, whether we had cause to fear that the King would break all these liberties and privileges. It is impossible any man should delight in a man of so much blood as the King was. The King was not the supreme power. He was seven or eight times sent to with propositions, (fn. 56) and would not yield. Had he been quiet after he was delivered up to us by the Scots, (fn. 57) knowing him to be our King— (fn. 58) So long as he was above-ground, in view, there were daily revoltings among the army, and risings in all places; creating us all mischief, more than a thousand Kings could do us good. It was impossible to continue him alive. I wish all had heard the grounds of our resolutions in that particular. I would have had all our consultings in foro, as any thing else was. It was resorted unto as the last refuge. The representative, in their aggregate body, have power to alter or change any government, being thus conducted by Providence. The question was, whose was that blood that was shed ? It could not be ours. Was it not the King's, by keeping delinquents from punishment, and raising armies?
The vindictive justice must have his sacrifice somewhere. The King was called to a bar below, to answer for that blood. (fn. 59) We did not assassinate, or do it in a corner. We did it in the face of God, and of all men. (fn. 60) If this be not a precept, the good of the whole, I know not what is; to pre serve the good cause, a defence to religion and tender consciences. I will not patronize or justify all proceedings that then were.
We sat four or five years in the posture of a Commonwealth, and fought more in that time than ever before; Scotland and Ireland all lost; Dublin and Derry only left. I remember the cadency of the words, infallible evidence, that the Scots would endeavour to restore the King to his patrimonial rights. To prevent them from making England the seat of war, we went to their own doors. The General sent out a declaration, calling God to witness that he intended nothing of domination, but only to assert the interest of the English nation.
The Dutch war came on. If it had pleased God and his Highness to have let that little power of a Parliament sit a little longer,—when Hannibal is ad portas, something must be done extra leges—we intended to have gone off with a good savour, and provided for a succession of Parliaments; (fn. 61) but we stayed to end the Dutch war. We might have brought them to oneness with us. Their Ambassadors did desire a coalition. This we might have done in four or five months. We never bid fairer for being masters of the whole world. Not that I desire to extend our own bounds. We are well, if we can preserve peace at home. If you be fain to fight Holland over again, it is vain to conceal it.
That gentleman says the Parliament went out, and no complaining in the streets, nor enquiry after them. (fn. 62) That is according to the company men keep. Men suit the letter to their lips. It is as men converse. I never met a zealous assertor of that cause, but lamented it, to see faith broken, and somewhat else. I will say no more. It was as much bewailed, at the Instrument of Government. A petition, the day after the Parliament was dissolved, from forty of the chief officers, the Aldermen of the city of London, and many godly divines, (except the rigid Presbyters, too well-wishers to Mr. Love's treason, (fn. 63) ) besought to have that Parliament restored. But the Protector, being resolved to carry on his work, threatened, terrified, and displaced them; and who would, for such a shattered thing, venture their all ? You have had five changes. This is the fifth, and yet the people have not rest. It may be the people may think of returning to that again, or it may be to another government.
The Romans continued Consuls one hundred years. There were endeavours to bring in kingship, and many lost their heads for it. Brutus's own sons died under the axe, rather than their father would suffer kingship. Then came the Decemviri, to collect the best laws in all nations, still jussu populi, to make peace and war; to make laws; to make magistrates; to frame twelve tables to be standing laws.
I would not hazard a hair of his present Highness's head. Yet I would trust no man with more power than what is good for him and for the people. I had rather have 100l. per annum, clear, than 200l. accountable. He is yet at the door. If you think of a single person, I would have him sooner than any man alive. Make your body, and then fit your head, if you please; one head; else we must debate all the limbs over again, either in a Grand Committee, or by twenty or thirty gentlemen. In the mean time lay this Bill aside. (fn. 64)
Those stupendous providences may he observed by other men. They draw this conclusion, that the state of a Commonwealth is best for the grandeur and splendour of a nation; that the opposite to a single person is the best government, and that no Government can be but what has its power from this House.
When that woful discrimination was made between the good people of this nation, and the engagement pressed, it was a sad and lamentable time with the best of men, and reached the bowels of your best friends. The worthy patriarch that preached (Dr. Reynolds) felt it. (fn. 65) They were not such halycon days, but they brought tears from the eyes of the best men. If ever a godly ministry were browbeaten and put under deck, it was at that time. A Petition was put up to this House on behalf of the godly ministers by two worthy persons, one serves for Worcestershire. I shall ever honour them for owning that cause at that time. All errors, opinions, and blasphemies, got root in that time; levelling principles, (fn. 66) agreement of the people, (fn. 67) nothing monstrous but that time produced. When we make the comparison, we may bless God we are on this side the waves and surges that those times produced.
I am for the commitment of the bill. I see nothing in it to cause delay. It is too late to say that all the power is in this House. See your constitution. Not but that much in that Petition and Advice may admit debate, so it touch not the fundamentals. The Boaz and Jachin of Solomon's Temple, (fn. 68) you cannot alter. That is not in the people. It is disputable to me that all power is in the people. If so, the people in Parliament represented, have power. Then the last had the power. If any thing be urged as to force, it makes all that was formerly done as inefficacious. This is as valid as any act formerly done. I know not how they will deliver themselves from this dilemma. I wished there had been no bar. Yet, I bless God for it, a great good produced out of a great evil. To dispute him here, is to question foundations. It nulls the obligation without doors. Either we swear to him, as our Supreme Magistrate, or else to a nonentity. We are met to declare a supreme magistrate; not to make a Chief Magistrate, as is said. This bill was only brought in to obviate what was working without doors, to alter your Government. All the world will think he had a good title, and now we are so sceptical as to question it. You will contract a greater trouble than you are aware of. My motion is, that you refer it to a Committee.
Mr. Nathaniel Bacon. Repetitions do but breed trouble. I would neither have it laid aside, nor committed. Will you refer it to a Committee, either grand or priyate ? Let it be debated in the House, beginning with, "Be it enacted."
Mr. Slarkey. Through the various changes of good and evil, we are arrived at the present posture we are in. These worthy gentlemen (fn. 69) need not say any thing to justify them selves, nor to look back at what is past.
The main objection is, that it appears not that his Highness was declared. I believe some here can satisfy you. But, cui bono, the people have manifested their satisfaction already, both by addresses, and by sending us hither. They have sent us hither to represent them, by his Highness's call. We have owned him in our assembling, in taking pur oaths at the door, and there is a greater acknowledgment in that. Cui bono is not all, but cui non malum.
The right of call is as essential a part of a Parliament as any. This very act has acknowledged him to be Chief Magistrate. I would not have us put the nation in that danger, as to ask the question. I find nothing in this Bill, of the Lords' House. I would as cheerfully and readily conclude this business, which will be of great consideration to the quiet and settlement of the nation.
Mr. Knightley. We have no cause to dislike one another's nest. I would have it committed. I would have the word "declare." Take your rise, not from addresses from the counties, but from the judges' and sheriffs' proclamation of it, and your being called hither by it. I would have it debated in a Grand Committee.
The Government of this nation is not the administration, but the laws. For proof of this, have recourse to former precedents of kings' oaths, of the present oath of his Highness. One king pulled down another, and they declared one another tyrant; the judges were the same; the laws the same. The judges were never touched for execution of the law. You have heard of several changes of Government; yet the learned judges have not doubted to take commission from all those powers, upon that supreme law, salus populi, the law fundamental.
The law is a dead letter only, the difference is in the Administration. I suppose the Government intended by this Bill, is this fundamental law. This was in the late King, by way of trust, which he forfeited. The root of all former miseries was about the Militia. This proved a bloody quarrel.
I would have you settle this fundamental and other fundamentals, before you settle any single person; else you will leave them to danger and uncertainty. I hope you will so leave it, that it may neither be danger to the Government, nor snare to the governed. It is dangerous to swerve from the fundamentals. Witness Major-Generals.
I doubt wringing of the nose will bring blood. I doubt, if we look back, we shall find much dissatisfaction; if forward, we may do much for satisfaction; at least, the satisfaction of the people. You will not feast your eyes with any Government that has been since 48.
I observe characters of great designation upon his Highness, I am sure without flattery. Set upon the pinnacle by Providence, I cannot but conclude there is the hand of God in it. I never saw his person in my life.
I would have it committed to a Committee of the whole House, that may bring you in a Bill or Bills to settle these things as well for the Government as the Administration. If I have said any thing amiss, it is not out of design, but duty.
There is no better foundation for your proceeding than the Petition and Advice. It is a great honour that this Bill came first into this House. The question, I hope, is merely as to the expression of it. Here is evidentia rei. There needs no affidavit.
Serjeant Maynard. I move that nothing intervene: for the gentleman's speech may prove as long as the speech we had to-day, (fn. 70) which lasted from nine to twelve. If you go on at this rate, to have one speech a day, the Dutch will give you 2,000l. a day to do so.
The Grand Committee for Religion sat the first time; Mr. Bacon in the chair. A Sub-Committee was appointed to inquire how Biddle came to be released, being imprisoned for blasphemy. (fn. 71)
Another Committee was appointed to bring in a Bill to remedy the inconvenience touching the approbation of ministers; the same Committee to bring in a Bill for Commissioners for ejecting of scandalous ministers. T. B. (fn. 72) unus.