Journal of the House of Commons: Volume 7, 1651-1660. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1802.
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Tuesday, the 12th of May, 1657.
Protector's Speech declining title of King.
Mr. Speaker, according to former Order, reports his Highness' Speech on Friday last, to the House at Whitehall, upon the humble Petition and Advice presented unto him by the Parliament: Which Speech was in these Words; viz.
I COME hither to answer That that was in your last Paper to your Committee, you sent to me; which was in relation to the Desires which were offered to me by the House, in That they called their Petition.
I have, the best I can, revolved the whole Business in my Thoughts; and I have said so much already in Testimony to the Whole, that, I think, I shall not need to repeat any thing that I have said: I think it is a Government that, in the Aims of it, seeks the settling the Nation on a good Foot, in relation to Civil Rights and Liberties, which are the Rights of the Nation: And, I hope, I shall never be found to be one of them that shall go about to rob the Nation of those Rights; but to serve them, what I can, to the Attaining of them.
It is also exceeding well provided there for the Safety and Security of honest Men, in that great, natural, and religious Liberty, which is Liberty of Conscience. These are the great Fundamentals; and I must bear my Testimony to them, as I have, and shall do still, so long as God lets me live in this World; that the Intentions and the Things are very honourable and honest, and the Product worthy of a Parliament: I have only had the Unhappiness both in my Conferences with your Committees, and in the best Thoughts I could take to myself, not to be convinced of the Necessity of That Thing that hath been so often insisted on by you; to wit, the Title of King, as in itself so necessary, as it seems to be apprehended by yourself.
And yet I do, with all Honour and Respect to the Judgment of a Parliament, testify that (cæteris paribus) no private Judgment is to lie in the Balance with the Judgment of Parliament; but, in Things that respect particular Persons, every Man that is to give an Account to God of his Actions, he must, in some measure, be able to prove his own Work, and to have an Approbation in his own Conscience of That that he is to do, or to forbear: And, whilst you are granting others Liberties, surely you will not deny me This; it being not only a Liberty, but a Duty (and such a Duty as I cannot, without sinning, forbear) to examine my own Heart, and Thoughts, and Judgment, in every Work which I am to set my Hand to, or to appear in, or for.
I must confess therefore, that though I do acknowlege all the other, yet I must be a little confident in This, that, what with the Circumstances that accompany human Actions, whether they be Circumstances of Time or Persons, whether Circumstances, that relate to the Whole, or private or particular Circumstances, that compass any Person that is to render an Account of his own Actions; I have truly thought, and do still think, that if I should (at the best) do any thing, on this account, to answer your Expectation, at the best, I should do it doubtingly; and certainly, what is so, is not of Faith; and whatsoever is not so, whatsoever is not of Faith, is Sin to him that doth it, whether it be with relation to the Substance of the Action about which that Consideration is conversant, or whether to Circumstances about it, which makes all indifferent Actions good or evil: I say Circumstances; and truly I mean good or evil to him that doth it.
I, lying under this Consideration, think it my Duty; only I could have wished I had done it sooner, for the Sake of the House, who hath laid so infinite Obligations on me; I wish I had done it sooner, for your Sake, and for saving Time and Trouble: And, indeed, for the Committee's Sake, to whom I must acknowlege publickly, I have been unreasonably troublesome: I say, I could have wished I had given it sooner: But, truly, this is my Answer; That (although I think the Government doth consist of very excellent Parts, in all but in that one Thing, the Title, as to me) I should not be an honest Man, if I should not tell you that I cannot accept of the Government, nor undertake the Trouble and Charge of it; which I have a little more experimented than every body, what Troubles and Difficulties do befall Men under such Trusts, and in such Undertakings: I say, I am persuaded to return this Answer to you; That I cannot undertake this Government, with that Title of King: And that is mine Answer to this great and weighty Business.
|General Disbrow,||Tellers for the Yeas:||77.|
|Mr. Holland,||With the Yeas,|
|General Montagu,||Tellers for the Noes:||65.|
|Mr. Stapeley,||With the Noes,|