Diary of Thomas Burton Esq: Volume 4, March - April 1659. Originally published by H Colburn, London, 1828.
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Tuesday, April 5, 1659.
Mr. Annesley reported from the Committee appointed to go to his Highness, the Lord Protector, from this House, to communicate the vote of this House to him, for the payment of five hundred pounds to Mr. Vassall in part of his debt.
That the Committee did go unto his Highness from this House, and did communicate to him the said vote, accordingly; that his Highness's answer thereunto was, that what this House had ordered should be speedily done; and that his Highness immediately sent for one of the clerks of the signet, and gave him express order, forthwith, to prepare a Bill for his Highness's signature, to be passed under his Privy Seal, for the payment of five hundred pounds, forthwith, out of the receipt of the Exchequer, to Mr. Vassall, in part of his debt, accordingly.
Sir Arthur Haslerigge. It is an impossible thing to take the other House into your legislature. It will make your laws disputable. You may give them what power you please, but a legislative authority you cannot give them. After-ages will tell us so. It is One thing to restore, another to create. The old Lords came in upon prescription. The other came in de novo. I am confident none of the Long Robe will deny this.
This way tends not to settlement. First, this should have been a Declaration, now it must be an Act. It does not please all abroad. I never knew any thing come in upon design, that did thrive here. I am not against transacting. Now you are upon the title, there wants in the Bill taking notice of the plague breaking out, which I hear is in Martin's Lane. (fn. 1)
We have not fully acknowledged his Highness's right. It will distaste the members of Scotland and the north of Ireland, who are on the same footing. It may haply be thought fit first to call an assembly of the three nations.
The speaking against the title, is against the whole Bill; for so, indeed, I would do. I had rather have it desired of his Highness, to set forth a proclamation, declaring the grounds. The last that was set out by the single person, did work very effectually. That was better kept for a long time, and did more good than this will do. It is so unfavourably penned, it will not please.
Opinions are not so rife, as eight or ten years ago. I hope they will every day be fewer. I except against that of decrying the light within them; and also that of the Chief Magistrate's care of the two tables.
It is said, this is to try them, the Lords' House, the other House, call them what you will. I would not have you try them with this. One reason of setting them up, was to prevent imposing upon consciences by the Commons. It is but a temporary law. It only is a law as it requires the minister to read it. It is but only as a trial. It will look more like imposing in expression, than you intend the Act. I appeal to every one that hears me, if this be for settlement. Will it not give a general distaste ? If they grant it not, then we transact no more with them. That is against our vote. If they grant it, they settle themselves. I hope they will never do it. It shows they are a check, as they were set up for.
I hope this House will not impose. A moderate Presbytery, will, I hope, not be disliked. Consider what a snake lies under this fair Declaration, to make a law for a fast, whereas, never was a law made for a fast; to yield up all by this Bill, before you have settled or bounded his Highness, or that other House. I pray to lay this wholly aside, and send some of your members to desire his Highness to put forth a proclamation for a fast on" the 18th of May next.
Mr. Stephens. I concur with this gentleman in part of his motion; but of his grounds, that which he excepts against, is an undoubted truth, viz. "setting, up the light in the hearts of sinful men as a guide of their actions, instead of the Scriptures." The Quakers deny the Scriptures to be the word of God, and say that Christ in them is their guide. (fn. 2)
Many Quakers are made Justices. There is one in my county that could lead out three or four hundred with him at any time. The Judges have complained, but could not get him out. I know not what hinders.
I do, indeed, except against the title going to the other House; It will but retard business. It will pass better from the knights, citizens, and burgesses, and his Highness, than to take in the other House, till you have agreed on the manner and sort of transaction, &c. It will not at all intrench upon their power. As to the length of time, the Declaration has a great way to get.
Colonel White. When you have passed this vote, you have done all that you have to do. In the Bill for Recognition you have promised to secure rights, liberties, and privileges. After this, there will be no salvo. I would have the Long Robe declare ingenuously with their brethren. When you have passed this, you leave the people to take what conditions the Chief Magistrate will give them. It is a full acknowledgment of him.
Mr. Annesley. I rise up to vindicate the Committee. You appointed them, not to bring in a Declaration of this House, but a Declaration of the Parliament. If the legislative be said to be in this House, it may be answered, by what law had ever this House alone a legislative power ?
It is not an Act. There is not an enacting word in it, only a Declaration. It is rightly moved, that you should not vary the title from the body of the Declaration. You can give it no other title than "of his Highness and of this Parliament." The particulars excepted against were spoken to.
As to that of transacting, I see not how you can now speak against it. It is already resolved, after fourteen days' debate about it, and carried by almost eighty votes. (fn. 3) I must say they are lords, being called by the old writ.
Captain Baynes. I wish all were of one mind in matters of religion. Divers will not join with you in the fast Your brethren, in Scotland, probably, will not. Probably, if it come by way of desire, it will take better than by command; and it would come better if you should wave the other House in it.
Serjeant Wylde. We ought to be as careful in form, as in any thing: it has great authority. If I demur not to the jurisdiction of a court, I admit it. So does this pass it, by way of a conclusion or admittance, (as we say that have read the law,) to be a court. By this you will own them, as much as if you gave them a charter of manumission. You do it, actually, which is more than by Act of Parliament. A negative voice you give them, and what not.
You admit a power both in them and the Chief Magistrate, which is yet but in you, and under a possessory right. You give them, by this, as much power as is in you to give. No bounds are given to this other House. You admit that office of Chief Magistrate. As much as in you lies, you leave the Chief Magistrate boundless. You admit the exercise of that power as fully as you can.
If the two of the three estates agree, they may act without you. Where you will be, if this pass now, prudent and wise men, they will consider. Thereby you put all out of your hands. It may very well be, that some gentlemen know there will be such condescending as that will answer all. We that know it not, must needs ponder these things. In every step you have yet gone, you give away all. Do something that may make you appear to be trustees indeed; and not in one moment give away all that you Have fought for.
As to your going to his Highness alone, it is calling yourselves the Parliament, against your constitution. You have voted two Houses. It is fit you should transact in this with them. It is a law. As to bounding them, the same objection will lie against transacting with them, in bounding them, in regard you cannot bound them, without them.
To go to his Highness alone, is an imposing on his Highness, and against your constitution; and because it is agreeable to the body of the Declaration, I pray that this may be your title: "A Declaration of his Highness and both Houses of Parliament," &c.
Mr. Young. I would have the title agree with the body, and have it in the same words of Parliament, as Declarations and Acts have passed formerly, when three estates existed, nay, King, Lords Spiritual and Temporal.
I have had sad thoughts since I heard it, that this will exclude your bounding the Chief Magistrate. I was against transacting, and should be so again, if I had one hundred votes. I gave my affirmative for the word "Parliament," because I thought, if we must transact, we might as well transact upon this; but if all this be in it that it threatens, I desire my vote again, and shall not transact.
Mr. Boscawen. I am as much for the body of the Declaration as any man. The title is not much, whether "two Houses of Parliament," "or Lords and Commons." You have given them a good boon, in voting to transact with them, and it is fit you should have something in lieu of it. I find a gentleman that was for, transacting does somewhat scruple this.
This led into a debate, whether the question should be "both Houses of Parliament," or "present Parliament." The sense of the House inclined for preventing future debate; and, seeing it was stirred to have it, both "Houses of Parliament."
Resolved, that the title of the Declaration, be "A declaration of the Lord Protector and both Houses of Parliament, for a day of solemn fasting and humiliation, to be observed in all places, within the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland, upon the 18th day of May, 1659."
Mr. Stephens. Gloucester gaol is very full. From danger of infection, and because the time of sending a commission of Oyer and Terminer is past, I would have a letter sent from this House to the justices, to deliver the gaol of as many as they may deliver by law.
Mr. Scot. I move against the Declaration itself. In it is complicated the whole quarrel, in point of imposition on conscience. There is a parenthesis, like writing the Lord's prayer on the breadth of a three-pence. (His speech was not so.)
I am glad that it is acknowledged that you will not transact with them if they deny this. It seems some think it yet in their power. I suppose they will not agree to it, because of the imposing clause.
Colonel Terrill offered it, to the purpose that Colonel Briscoe had offered. (fn. 4) It was thrown out, by 123 to 73.
Sir Henry Vane spoke against the Declaration, principally because of the clause touching toleration. (fn. 5) He spoke very high, as was usual; and said it was not so much sin in the Chief Magistrate to omit this, as for us to insert it.
Mr. Jenkinson. That clause is the fly in the ointment. The assertion is disputable, and by holding out this you covenant with God never to do the like again, and to vindicate it, and punish all those that are against it. In the third paragraph of the twenty-third article of the Assembly of Divines you find this very clause. No text of the New Testament is there cited at all. If any thing could have been found, it would have passed. (fn. 6)
The gospel holds forth another method, viz. excommunication and church censures. You put a great snare into the Chief Magistrate's hand. There is a time when a man rules to his own ruin. He may be surely fighting against God while he thinks he is doing his duty. I am unwilling to speak to reject it, but only to amend it.
Mr. Trevor. I would not raise heats, but I hope that gentleman has no privilege more than others to speak harder language than the House can bear. The intent of those provisos offered, is to put it in the power only of this one estate, to put what bounds they please upon the other two estates, without their consents. It is not ingenuous to offer such things by way of surprise. I would have things come in barefaced.
Mr.— (fn. 7) 1 move that this may not pass. It will re fleet on bis Highness that is gone, It will be against the minds of a whole nation, and many in this nation. It will not be honourable to pass it when such an inconsiderable number are in the House.
Sir Walter Earle. I will not speak all my thoughts in this business. There are increasing endeavours of some to break us. I have known when a great seal has come to this House to adjourn it. They have laid it aside, and adjourned themselves. These words ought not to be used in Parliament.
Mr. Hobart. I looked on this declaration, when it first came in, as a message from heaven to reconcile us to God; but I found it rather a laying a yoke, than taking it off. The first day many tender souls abroad were for it, who are haply now praying against it. The second day you lost a whole nation. (fn. 8) It is sadly thought abroad that you will return back again to episcopacy. I will assure you it lies sadly on many men's hearts.
Sir Walter Earle and Major Beake took exception at the expression, and wished he might explain how the Speaker comes to be the greatest man in England; as we are all as one in this House, and moved to know if he charged it as a crime.
Sir Arthur Haslerigge. I charge it not as a crime, as to that of your being the greatest man in England. Next to the Speaker of the House of Lords, you always took place of all Peers. You represent all the Commons. I desire this may raise no Heat. Only make use of this. All the House ought to attend you, when you go.
Mr. Swinfen. That gentleman has been at dinner. Haply he has heard this report there. This is a baiting you with questions, which is not for the honour of this House, to cast reproach upon you by those questions. I would have you give no answer. I have never been at Court myself. I know not the Protector; but I know that you might go to Court, without breach of privilege.
Mr. — (fn. 9). I move that there be a vote thereon, justifying that you have discharged your duty with fidelity and integrity.
Sir Walter Earle. It has been usual for Speakers to go to Court. So long as there is no design in it, — (fn. 9). In the Parliament of the 12 Caroli, a part of the members, about twelve, went up the back stairs, and told the King, if he would do so and so, they would undertake that the House would do well; but they were well checked, and called to the bar for it. (fn. 10)
Mr. Neville. I blush for that my grandfather was one of those. There were eighty of them; and it was to good purpose. They were men of the best estates. Sir John Widrington questioned them, but could fasten nothing on them, that they went to the Court.
Sir Henry Vane. First declare whether one may go to Court in that manner, without breach of privilege. You have, the notes of what men said, and of their names. He that went to Court formerly, made his opinion and advice less, always, in this House.
The Speaker, in 54, was at Court oftener than once I fear those that go least to Court would be oftener there, if the gates were open. Strangeness breeds enmity. I came to bring Court and country together. When you have fully recognised his Highness, I hope you will send Committees to him, to create a better understanding.
Mr. Trevor. I know not to what purpose you appoint a Committee, to prepare your manner of transacting; unless it be to peruse the books, as to former precedents. They are a co-ordinate power with us; and if there have been formerly any difference, in point of ceremony, the inequality may be waved. I would have us all upon one footing as to that.
The Committee of Privileges sat, and heard three witnesses in Mr. Streete's business. (fn. 13) The business of Newcastle was called, and. counsel at the bar; but they were presently ordered to withdraw, and to attend on Thursday.
It was moved that the counsel on both sides, would agree of an issue, but they would not consent; so the Committee left them at large, to prepare on both sides, and to shorten the business against Thursday.