Diary of Thomas Burton Esq: Volume 4, March - April 1659. Originally published by H Colburn, London, 1828.
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Monday, April 18, 1659.
I came late, and found the debate, that there should be no general councils without doors, without license, (fn. 1) and the ge neral sense of the House that way inclined. Sir Robert Pye had moved it; and it was ordered before that none should go out. (fn. 2)
Lord Falkland. You have been a long time talking of three estates. There is a fourth which, if not well looked to, will turn us all out of doors. They have not only made resolutions, but have had the impudence to print them. (fn. 3) I am against their meetings, and would have them suppressed.
Captain Baynes. It is not, judicially, before us that there is an army. Your army is a main ingredient in your government. Lose that, and you lose all. Which one estate soever have that, destroys the other two. I would have it examined, by whose authority this general council came together. I doubt it was by some that, seeing they cannot serve their turns, cry out against them. It is fit we should have our share.
Sir Arthur Haslerigge cried, Well moved. I was in the army, an officer, fourteen years. Now, I am none. I know the grounds of this motion, and go not precipitately to this vote. The late Protector was general for life. I question, if any officer have a legal commission. It may be, the two other estates are courting them. I would have you also to court them, by providing them pay. Before you pass any vote, that implies to make his Highness general, consider whether you will have one general, or several persons. Go upon that which will draw the affections of the army after you.
Mr. Swinfen. The scope of what that gentleman discourses is, that he is against the Protector's being general. His argument is also against your being general. I perceive, by him, the army are divided about who shall be general, before you have determined any thing about it. For that very reason I am against these general meetings. I hope there will be no negative upon this, that no council, while you sit, shall sit without your leave.
They are no military council. This is a council directly contrary from a council of war. It is not known to the laws of war, nor to the laws of the nation. The title of the council runs to meet the title of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland. This will rather be a dishonour to your votes. I see no need of it. The danger is a great deal. It fills the people with fear. People talk, what will become of the Parliament ? It weakens the reputation of the Parliament. After the meeting of the officers, the next may be that of the common soldiers. (fn. 4) Every member has his proper office in political as well as natural bodies. They meet to serve one or other. It is fit you should know them. They are both unnecessary and dangerous.
Mr. Reynolds. I never had any hand in councils without doors. I never went along with them. I abhor the thought of it. I am also against all other councils and meetings, such as were to constitute a Parliament. I would have the grounds of this general council examined. You are upon a tender point, and it must be well handled. When your army was at Saffron Waldon, drawing up hither, I was for tenderness then, and to qualify them with six weeks' pay. They wanted that pay, and you know how your vote was disobeyed. Take heed you take not the thorn out of another's foot, and put it in your own wholly. Let us not disoblige. You dismissed the Quakers (fn. 5) not pleased.
In matters of this danger or difficulty, I hope you will not go alone, but take in the other House. Appoint a Committee to carry on a conference with the other House. If it had been so dangerous as is represented, surely we should have heard from the other House; they being persons of integrity, and chosen to that purpose.
If you pass it, so as to look too fully upon the army, and not at other meetings too, I doubt I shall give my negative to this. If you pass this vote, pass it as generally as you can, and let the other House either begin, or follow you.
Mr. Serjeant MaynÀrd. I am sorry to see wise men so tender in this point. You must not do so much as a mouse. I would have plain English spoken. You give no cause of jealousy. As to the point of pay, you go as fast on as such councils can. I shall not make any inference from those remonstrances. Pluck the wicked out of their places. It comes at last to you. Lord have mercy upon us, if we cannot speak to our army, to go to their stations and their charges, but we must discontent and disoblige them !
If your army be an "ingredient in your government," I hope he (fn. 6) meant better than he spoke; for, if so, they sit among us. It was told you there were but seven officers, I was there when there were eleven, and Mr. Peters (fn. 7) to boot. What work were they doing ? Surely something ? Why should not they go into the country to look to the Cavaliers ? It is said there is a council among us. I cannot believe it, that we do go along with this council without doors.
Mr. Hungerford. You ought not to suffer any without doors to make a descant upon your resolutions. I am for your declaration, and withal to vote that all the persons of the other House that were at that general council, shall be disabled from sitting in the other House this Parliament. I wish you had always done so. Much of your mischief had been prevented, that has come upon you. I wondered to see this remonstrance abroad. (fn. 8)
Mr. Scot. Either there is nothing in it, or more in it than we know: otherwise the gentleman that would have given us an account of their debate would not have been taken down. It is no secret, no new thing, the meeting of the officers.
It can never be policy to distrust those you are obliged to trust. I profess I was no more knowing of what was done to the House in 48. It is a paracelsian (fn. 9) remedy, that may kill as well as cure, I was never at Wallingford House (fn. 10) nor Whitehall since you sat, and why shall I go ?
A Declaration was passed to make the army traitors. Some few of us were against it, and moved how will you bring them to justice unless you will raise another army. You were fain to eat that vote next day.
Confidence is better, in that case, than jealousy. It was Alexander's case. A potion was offered to him, and a letter. He durst not refuse the potion, but gave the physician the letter. (fn. 11) So was his confidence better than his jealousy. There was another instance of a troop that charged without their regiment. They were bid not to be too hasty.
The Protector did not complain of any danger in the petition, when he sent the letter and the remonstrance. The printed paper (fn. 12) says, he read it with all candour.
There is a "good old cause." (fn. 13) If their meetings be, to manage that, I shall not be against them; while their counsels are in subordination to you.
Mr. Steward. I hope it will not be to your prejudice, to prevent their meeting, but for your and their service. Now they have represented their grievances, it must be considered what they meet for. It will concern you.
3. For your service. That they may be better in their stations. Some of these are a hundred miles off. They may be more serviceable in suppressing the enemy in their own countries. I would have you transact with the other House in this; but not by way of a Committee. Pass this Declaration, and send it there for their concurrence.
Mr. Chaloner. The Protector is to govern by your advice. We have heard nothing of it. I hear commissions are granted. There is no such danger. It was said, when Colonel Bennet went out, (fn. 14) he went to fetch in the army.
Sir Arthur Haslerigge. When I have spoken my mind, I care not what becomes of me. This question is not for your service at this time. I doubt here is more in the bottom of it than appearances. I wish it may tend to the peace of the nation.
I am sorry to see the spirit of this House so freward, as not to have patience to hear men speak. God will not bless it. There is great struggling without doors where the militia shall be. We hear there are endeavours to grant new commissions. How comes it, that you hear not of it ? We go in the dark, and if we go suddenly about it, it may be a bloody vote. I will manifest it to the world, that I have no thing but the public good in my eye. If you be forewarned of it, and do not prevent it, I am discharged.
Let us take in the other House in this great business, lest you pass a vote that may destroy posterity. If ill consequences come, upon a sudden vote, let it not solely proceed from you, lest you bear the blame of all. I abhor all cabals without doors. I am not, nor ever was, of them. Let us have a conference with the other House, and some members of the army, to understand the bottom of this. I hear this general. Council was called by his Highness.
Colonel Terrill. I have looked upon all transactions since 48, as upon a military power. I am as much against the imposing upon you, as any man; but I fear the like consequences as former votes of this kind have had. What power have we to enforce our votes ? Be very wary of proceeding suddenly. Many of the other House are concerned, that know more than we. It does not appear that the army are under any command. I commend their submission. It is a loose army. They cannot be called to any account, as soldiers; but only as private persons. The great end of their meeting is but to choose their masters. I have no such fears as is moved. Therefore the Protector had power to name his successor, but not to name the general. I would have a consultation with the other House by a Committee. Your army is a loose army.
Colonel Birch. All the arguments against it make me for it. I would not have it a bloody vote, and therefore would have it pass. You hear what their discourse is; who shall be their general, or whether they be under any command ? Ill consequences will follow, if unobviated. They cannot but be bloody. That of the army's arrears; I wonder, when I moved it two or three times on Saturday, that the arrears might be included in your vote, those that were so much against it then, are now for it.
Such a paper I have in my hand as never was known. A paper signed by the foot soldiers of Pride's regiment, above three hundred. (fn. 15) Their meeting will be next.
I desire that you would put it to the question. The paper was a printed petition directed to his Excellency the Lord Fleetwood, and signed by all the foot soldiers, &c. It was never done before: a very ill precedent. If officers begin, soldiers follow.
Mr. Annesley. There is no resentment in his Highness's letter, of the remonstrance, nor of their meeting. If they had not been called by him, why did not he take notice of it ? This should receive our tenderness. Also, I Would have your vote pass by authority. Let nothing go single. Have the concurrence of the three estates in it.
If you restrain public meetings, you must also private, wherein were more danger. If you send them into the country, before you settle where the chief command shall be, this may inflame them in the country, and infuse those principles that are sown abroad.
Let us not part with our share of the militia. The militia is going after the purse. (fn. 16) Refer it to a Committee presently to prepare a question that may save your share in the militia; that your claim may appear, and no implication be, that you intend to give it to another.
The question was put in the affirmative, that during the sitting of the Parliament, there shall be no general council or meeting of the officers of the army, without the direction, leave, and authority of his Highness the Lord Protector, and both Houses of Parliament.
Mr. Lobb standing up, he gave him way. He made a great deal of stuff against the question, and compared sending them to their stations with sending the Quakers home. It was an ill answer to their petition.
Colonel Allured. I will name them, if you command me. (fn. 17)
Colonel Eyre and Mr. Trevor moved not to interfere at this time with the debate, but, according to the ancient orders of the House, to put it off till this debate was over, and let the expression be entered, and that gentleman will be concerned to name them in a fitter season. So it was waved.
Lieutenant-general Ludlow. I move, not to enrage your friends, and encourage your enemies. Many of the officers are solicitous about that purchase of the forests for their arrears. (fn. 18)
Sir Henry Vane. Those that know the danger better than I, haply may have more reason to press on this vote. This, it may be, is considered on before. I know nothing of it, and therefore must take measure by what is before me.
I am as much against councils without doors as any man. This council has been owned by his Highness. It is said, abroad, his Highness called them. If this general council had raised the single person to be their general, it had been, I doubt, too late for you to debate it here. Before you have determined any thing of the militia, for you to engage in such a vote, I know not what may be the consequence.
If the truth of the matter-of-fact were as represented, you would not be so forward in this vote. I heard it abroad, and from one in the Council Chamber, I am not able to name the person, that the occasion of calling together this council, was by his Highness, on purpose to try the officers if they would take commissions from him, exclusive of the Parliament.
Mr. Solicitor-general. It is confessed there is danger if they had agreed who should be general. Certainly he (fn. 19) would not have told you this news, unless on good grounds. He says his Highness called them. I hear they were not called by him.
What can be the end of these meetings ? If you suffer this, none knows what may come of it. You know what adjutators (fn. 20) came to. They were hard to be suppressed. We know not what may be at the bottom of these councils.
I do not imagine but that they will obey. It is the greatest jealousy and reflection that may lie upon them. I cannot believe it. Such meetings as those have not been these eleven years. Surely such an extraordinary meeting must have an extraordinary end.
Tumultuous meetings and petitioning I am against. They are but colourable confusions at best. I hope this is not come to that height. When you have passed this vote, you can neither, in honour nor safety to yourself and the nation, recede from it.
I fear, in the consequence, it will prove an allowance of such meetings for the future. To obviate the mischief that may come upon Parliament hereafter, either adjourn the debate till to-morrow, or appoint a Committee.
Mr. — (fn. 21) declared for the Noes.
The main question was put and resolved. (fn. 22)
Colonel Clark. You have no reason for this jealousy. That is the rage of a man. This diffidence of your friends ought to be avoided. Jealousy stirs up jealousy. I had rather have you suspect the Cavaliers. You must lean upon your army for the great part of your safety. A little spark may kindle a great flame. We have known what has become of small beginnings. Leave out the word "Navies."
Mr. Chaloner. I move against the word "Navies." They are at sea and seldom come to land, but with sticks. Make your vote also, that they shall not obey the Chief Magistrate in giving any disturbances.
Resolved, that no person shall have or continue in any command or trust, in any of the armies or navies of England, Scotland, or Ireland, or any of the dominions or territories thereto belonging, who shall refuse to subscribe, that he will not disturb nor interrupt the free meetings in Parliament, of any of the members of either House of Parliament, or their freedom in their debates and councils.
Mr. Trevor. I move that his Highness be advised and desired to acquaint the officers with your vote, and that they would repair to their commands. (fn. 25)
Lord Falkland. I move that Colonel Allured name the persons, &c. (fn. 26)
Resolved, that the concurrence of the other House be desired to these votes; and that Mr. John Stephens do carry the same to the other House for their concurrence. (fn. 27)
It is time to put a stop to the Cavaliers. Sir John Carter, was shot in the shoulder last night by a crew of them. (fn. 28) This is like kissing one's mouth, and biting off the nose.
Resolved, that it be referred to a Committee, to propose some effectual way how his Highness, the Parliament, and the nation, may be secured against any attempt from them. viz. Colonel Birch and twenty-eight more, (fn. 29) or any three of them, to meet this afternoon in the Speaker's Chamber, at six.
Resolved, that it be referred to Mr. Serjeant Maynard, Mr. Attorney-general, and Mr. Solicitor-general, to prepare and bring in a Bill for the indemnifying of such persons as have served the Commonwealth.