Historical Collections of Private Passages of State: Volume 1, 1618-29. Originally published by D Browne, London, 1721.
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Saturday 12. of April.
Mr. Secretary Cook delivered another Message from the King, (viz.) 'His Majesty having given timely notice to this House, as well of the pressure of the time, as of the necessity of Supply, hath long since expected some fruit of that which was so happily begun; but finding a stop beyond all expectation after so good beginning, he hath commanded me to tell you, That without any further or unnecessary delay, he would have you to proceed in this business; for however he hath been willing and consenting, his affairs and ours should concur and proceed together; yet his meaning was not, that the one should give interruption to the other, nor the time to be spun out upon any pretence, upon which the common cause of Christendom doth so much depend: He bids us therefore take heed, that we force not him to make an unpleasing end of that which was so well begun.
'I will discharge my duty, I shall humbly desire this Honourable House not to undervalue or overstrain this Message; if we conceive any thing in it to tend, as if his Majesty threatned to dissolve this Parliament, we are deceived; his Majesty intends the contrary, and to put us in such a way, that our business may have speedy success. His Majesty takes notice of a peremptory order, whereby he conceived, that his business was excluded, at least for a time; that which doth most press his Majesty is time, believe that the affairs now in hand press his Majesty's heart more than us. Let us remove delays that are more than necessary, let us a waken our selves, he intends a speedy dispatch. I must with some grief tell you, that notice is taken, as if this House pressed not upon the abuses of Power, but only upon Power it self; this toucheth the King and us, who are supported by that Power: Let the King hear of any abuses of Power, he will willingly hear us, and let us not bend ourselves against the extention of his Royal Power, but contain our selves within those bounds, that we meddle only with pressures and abuses of Power, and we shall have the best satisfaction that ever King gave. I beseech you all concur this way, and use that moderation we have had the honour yet to gain.
'Others proposed to find out a way, by God's providence, to make this Message happy to King and People, it concerns the King's Honour abroad, and our safety at home, that this Parliament be happy, let us prevent (say they) these mischiefs, which by frequent Messages thus obstruct us: let those Gentlemen near the Chair see, that we have endeavoured to apply our selves to his Majesty's service, notwithstanding this Message. In 12 Jac. a Message of this nature produced no good; nothing so endangers us with his Majesty, as that opinion that we are An timonarchically affected, whereas such is, and ever hath been our Loyalty, if we were to chuse a Government, we would chuse this Monarchy of England above all Governments in the World.
About two days after, Mr. Secretary Cook again did quicken the business of Supply, alledging, 'That all Negotiations of Ambassadors are at a stop while the House sits, and that this stop is as a frost upon the Earth, that hinders the sweet vapours between his Majesty and his Subjects; and that as matters stand, the Soldiers can neither be disbanded, nor put in Service.
Sir Humphrey May added, 'That sweetness, trust, and confidence are the only Weapons for us to deal with our King; and that coldness, inforcement, and constraint will never work our ends: If we compass all we desire, and have not his Majesty's heart, what will a Law or any thing else do us good?
Hereupon it was ordered, 'That a special Committee of eight persons shall presently withdraw themselves, and consult together upon some Heads, and upon the substance of a fair representation to his Majesty, which the Speaker shall deliver in his Speech to his Majesty, on Monday next, (if the King please to give access) and at the same time to deliver the Petition against Billeting of Soldiers.
Master Speaker's Speech to the King on Easter-Monday.
Most Gracious and Dread Sovereign,
'Your dutiful and loyal Commons here assembled, were lately humble Suitors to his Majesty for access to your Royal presence; the occasion that moved their desires herein, was a particular of importance, worthy your Princely consideration; which as it well deserves, should have been the only Subject of my Speech at this time.
'But since your gracious Answer for this Access, obtained by a Message from your Majesty, they have had some cause to doubt that your Majesty is not so well satisfied with the manner of their proceedings, as their hearty desire is you should be, especially in that part which concerns your Majesty's present Supply, as if in the prosecution thereof, they had of late used some slackness or delay.
'And because no unhappiness of theirs can parallel with that which may proceed from a misunderstanding in your Majesty of their clear and loyal intentions, they have commanded me to attend your Majesty with an humble and summary Declaration of their proceedings since this short time of their sitting, which they hope will give your Majesty abundant satisfaction, that never people did more truly desire to be endeared in the favour and gracious opinion of their Sovereign; and withall to let you see, that as you can have no where more faithful Counsel, so your great designs and occasions can no way be so speedily or heartily supported, as in this old and antient way of Parliament.
'For this purpose they humbly beseech your Majesty to take into your Royal Consideration, that although by antient Right of Parliament, the matters there debated are to be disposed in their true method and order, and that their constant custom hath been to take into their considerations the common Grievances of the Kingdom, before they enter upon the matter of Supply; yet to make a full expression of that zeal and affection which they bear to your Royal Majesty, equalling at least, if not exceeding the best affections of their Predecessors, to the best of your Progenitors; they have in this Assembly, contrary to the ordinary proceedings of Parliament, given your Majesty's Supply precedence before the common Grievance of the Subject, how pressing soever, joyning with it only those fundamental and vital Liberties of the Kingdom, which give subsistence and ability to your Subjects.
'This was their original order and resolution, and was grounded upon a true discerning, that these two considerations could not be severed, but did both of them entirely concern your Majesty's Service, consisting no less in enabling and encouraging the Subject, than in proportioning a Present suiting to your Majesty's occasions and their abilities; nay, so far have they been from using any unnecessary delays, as though, of the two, that of Supply were the later Proposition amongst them, the Grand Committee to which both were referred, hath made that of your Majesty's Supply first ready for conclusion.
'And to be sure your Majesty's supply might receive no interruption by the other, differing from usage and custom (in cases in this nature) sent up of those that concern the Subjects by parcels, some to your Majesty, and some to the Lords, to the end your Majesty might receive such speedy content, as suited with the largest and best extent of their first order.
'Sir, you are the breath of our nostrils, and the light of our eyes, and besides those many comforts, which under you and your Royal Progenitors, in this frame of Government, this Nation hath enjoyed, the Religion we profess hath taught us whose Image you are; and we do all most humbly beseech your Majesty to believe, that nothing is or can be more dear unto us than the sacred Rights and Prerogatives of your Crown: no person or Council can be greater lovers of you, nor be more truly careful to maintain them; and the preserving of those fundamental Liberties which concern the freedom of our persons, and propriety of Goods and Estates, is an essential means to establish the true glory of a Monarchy.
'For rich and free Subjects, as they are best governed, so they are most able to do your Majesty service, either in Peace or War, which next under God hath been the cause of the happy and famous Victories of this Nation, beyond other Kingdoms of larger Territories and greater number of People.
'What information soever contrary to this shall be brought unto your Majesty, can come from no other than such as for their own ends under colour of advancing the Prerogative, do indeed undermine and weaken Royal Power by impoverishing the Subjects, render this Monarchy less glorious, and the People less able to serve your Majesty.
'Having (by this that hath been said) cleared our hearts and proceedings to your Majesty, our trust is, that in your Royal Judgment we shall be free from the least opinion of giving any necessary stop to our proceedings in the matter of your supply, and that your Majesty will be pleased to entertain belief of our alacrity and chearfulness in your service, and that hereafter no such misfortune shall befal us to be misunderstood by your Majesty in any thing.
'We all most humbly beseech your Majesty to receive no information in this or any other business from private relations, but to weigh and judge of our proceedings by those resolutions of the House that shall be represented from our selves.
'This rightly and graciously understood, we are confident from the knowledge of your goodness and our own hearts, that the ending of this Parliament shall be much more happy than the beginning, and be to all Ages styled the Blessed Parliament, for making perfect union between the best King and the best People, that your Majesty may ever delight in calling us together, and we in the comforts of your gracious favour towards us.
'In thy hope I return to my first Errand, which will best appear by that which I shall humbly desire you to hear, and being an humble Petition for the House of Commons for redressing of those many inconveniencies and distractions that have befallen your Subjects by the billeting of Soldiers in private mens houses against their wills.
'Your Royal Progenitors have ever held your Subjects hearts the best Garrison of this Kingdom, and our humble suit to your Majesty is, that our faith and loyalty may have such place in your Royal thoughts, as to rest assured that all your Subjects will be ready to lay down their lives for the defence of your sacred Person and this Kingdom.
'Not going our selves into our Countries this Easter, we should think it a great happiness to us, as we know it would be a singular comfort and encouragement to them that sent us hither, if we might but send them the news of a gracious Answer from your Majesty in this particular, which the reasons of the Petition we hope will move your most excellent Majesty graciously to vouchsafe us.
The Petition concerning the billeting of Soldiers presented to the King's most excellent Majesty.
In all humility complaining, sheweth unto pour most excellent Majesty your loyal and dutiful Commons now in Parliament assembled, That whereas by the fundamental Laws of this Realm every Freeman bath, and of right ought to have, a full and absolute priority in his Goods and Estate, and that therefore the billeting and placing the Soldiers in the house of any such Freeman against his will, is directly contrary to the sold laws under which we and our Ancestors have been so long and happily governed; yet in apparent biolation of the said antient and undoubted right of all pour Majesty's Lkoyal Subjects of this pour Kingdom in general, and to the grievous and insupportable veration and detriment of many Counties and persons in particular, a new and almost unheard of way hath been invented and put in practice, to lkay Soldiers upon them, scattered in companies here and there, even in the heart and vowels of this Kingdom; and to compel many of your Majesty's Subjects to receive and lodge themin their own houses, and both themselves and others to contribute toward the maintenance of them, to the exceeding great differvice of your Majesty, the general terror of all, and utter undoing of many of pour People; insomuch as we cannot sufficiently recount, nor in any way proportionable to the lively sence that we have of our Diferies herein are we able to represent unto your Majesty the innumerous Mischiefs and most grievous verations, that by this means alone we do now suffer, mwhere of we will not presume to troublke your sacred ears with particular instances, only most gracious Sovereign, we beg leave to offer to pour most gracious view a compationate consideration of a view of them in particular.
- 1. The service of Almighty God is hereby greatly hindred, the people in many places not daring to repair to the Church, last in the mean time the Soldiers should rifle their houses.
- 2. The antient and good government of the Country is hereby neglected, and almost contemned.
- 3. Pour Oifficers of Justice in performance of their duties have been resisted and endangered.
- 4. The Rents and Revenues of your Gentry greatly and generally diminished; Farmers to secure themselves from the Soldiers insolence being by the Clamor of Solicitation of their fearful and injured Wives and Children,m enforced to give up their wanted dwellings, and to retire themselves into places of more secure habitation.
- 5. Husbandmen, that are as it were the hands at the Country, corrupted by ill cramble of the Soldiers, and encouraged to idle life, /???/ over work, and rather seek to live idicly at another mans charges, than by their own labours.
- 6. Trades-men and Artificers almost discouraged, and being inforced to leave their Trades, and to imploy their time in preserving themselves and their families from cruelty.
- 7. Darkers unfrequented, and our ways grown so dangerous, that the people dare not pais to and fro upontheir usual occasions.
- 8. Frequent Robberies, Affaults, Batteries, Burglaries, Rapes, Rapines, Durders, Barbarous Cruelties, and other most abominable bices and outrages are generally complained of from all paris where these Companies have been and had their /????/, few of which insolencies have been so much as questioned, and sewer according in their demerit punished.
These and many other lamentable effects (most dread end deat Sovereign) have by the billetting of Soldiers already fallen upon us pour loyal Subjects, tending no less to the differvice of pour Majesty, than to their impoverishing and destruction, so \???\ thereby they are exceedingly disabled to yield to pour Majesty those \???\ your urgent occasions, which they heartily desire, and \???\ they are further perplered with apprehension of more ap\???\ danger, one in regard of your Subjects at home, the other of enemies from abroad; in both which tespeas it seems to threaten so small Cal may to the meaner sort of pour People, being exceeding p\???\, whereof in many places are great Dustitudes, and therefore in times of more setled and most constant administration of Justice not easily ruled, are most apt upon this occasion to cast off the reins of Government, and by joyning themselves with those disordered Soldiers are very like to fall into Dutiny and Rebellion; which in faithful discharge of our duties we cannot forbear most humbly to present to pour high and excellent Wisdom, being pressed with probable fears that some such mischief will shortly ensue, if an effectual and speedy course be not taken to remove out of the Land, or otherwise to disband those unruly Companies.
For the second, we do most humbly beseech your Majesty to take into your Princely consideration, that many of those Companies, besides their bissolute dispositions and carriages, are such as do openly profess themselves Papists, and therefore to be suspected, that it occasion serve, they will rather adhere to a foreign Enemy of that Religion, than to your Majesty, their liege Lord and Sovereign, especially some of their Captains and Commanders, being as Popishly affected as themselves, and having served in the Wars on the part of the king of Spain, and Arch-Dutchels against your Majesty's Allies; which of what pernicious consequence it may probe, and how prejudical to the safety of pour kingdom, we leave to pour Majesty's high and Princely wisdom.
And now upon these, and many more which might be alledged, most weighty and important Reasons grounded on the maintenance of the Worship and Service of Almighty God, the continuance and advancement of your Majesty's high honour and profit, the preservation of the ancient and undoubted Liberties of pour People, and therein of Justice, Industty, Dalour, which nerely concern the glory and happiness of your Majesty, and all your Subjects, and the preventing of calamity and turn both of Church and Common-wealth.
We pour Majesty's most humbel and loyal Subjects, the knights, Citizens and Burgesses of your house of Commons, in the name of all the Commonaity of your Kingdom, who are upon this occasion most miserably bisconsolate and afficted, prostrate at the Throne of your Grace and Justice do most ardenly beg a present remove of this insupportable Burden, and that your Majesty would be graciously pleased to secure us from the like pressure in the time to come.
To the Speaker's Speech and this Petition his Majesty made this Reply.
'Mr. Speaker and Gentlemen, when I sent you my last Message, I did not expect a Reply, for I intended it to hasten you; I told you at your first Meeting this time was not to be spent in words, and I am sure it is less fit for disputes, which if I had a desire to entertain, Mr. Speaker's Preamble might have given me ground enough: The question is not now, what Liberty you have in disposing of matters handled in your House, but rather at this time what is fit to be done.
'Wherefore I hope you will follow my example, in eschewing Disputations, and fall to your important business. You make a Protestation of your affection and Zeal to my Prerogative, grounded upon such good and just Reasons, that I must believe you: But I look that you use me with the like charity, to believe what I have declared more than once since your meeting with us, that I am as forward as you for the necessary preservation of your true Liberties. Let us not spend so much time in this that may hazard both my Prerogative and your Liberties to our Enemies.
'To be short, go on speedily with your business without any more Apologies, for time calls fast on you, which will neither stay for you nor me: Wherefore it is my duty to hasten, as knowing the necessity of it, and yours to give credit to what I say, as to him that sits at the Helm.
From this time to the 25 of the same Month, the House, in a Grand Committee spent most of their time in debate about Martial Law, and part thereof in giving the Lords a Meeting at two Conferences, concerning some Resolves, in order to a Petition of Right transmitted by the Commons to their Lordships; at which time Sir Robert Heath and Serjeant Ashley in his discourse said, The Propositions made by the Commons tended rather to an Anarchy than a Monarchy: 2. That if they be yielded unto, it is to put a Sword into the King's hand with one hand, and to take it out with the other. 3. That they must allow the King to govern by Acts of State, otherwise he is a King without a Council, or a Council without a Power. 4. That the question is too high to be determined by Law, where the Conqueror or Conquered will suffer irreparable loss. For which expressions the Lords called the Serjeant to an account, and committed him to custody, and afterwards he recanted what he said.
Friday 25. of April, The Lords had a Conference with the Commons, where the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury spake as followeth.
Gentlemen of the House of Commons,
'The service of the King, and safety of the Kingdom, do call on my Lords to give all speedy expedition, to dispatch some of these great and weighty Businesses before us. For the better effecting whereof my Lords have thought fit to let you know, that they do in general agree with you, and doubt not but you will agree with us, to the best of your powers, to maintain and support the fundamental Laws of the Kingdom, and the fundamental Liberties of the Subject: For the particulars which may hereafter fall into debate, they have given me in charge to let you know, That what hath been presented by you unto their Lordships, they have laid nothing of it by, they are not out of love with any thing that you have tendred unto them; They have Voted nothing, neither are they in love with any thing proceeding from themselves: For that which we shall say and propose, is out of an intendment to invite you to a mutual and free Conference, that you with a confidence may come to us, and we with confidence may speak with you; so that we may come to a conclusion of those things which we both unanimously desire.
'My Lords have thought of some Propositions, which they have ordered to be read here, and then left with you in Writing, That if it seem good to you, we may uniformly concur for the substance; and if you differ, that you would be pleased to put out, add, alter, or diminish, as you shall think fit, that so we may come the better to the end, that we do both so desirously embrace.
That his Majesty would be pleased graciously to Declare, That the good old Law called Magna Charta, and the six Statutes conceived to be Declarations and Explanations of that Law, do still stand in force to all intents and purposes.
- 2. That his Majesty would be pleased graciously to Declare, That according to Magna Charta, and the Statutes afore-named, as also according to the most antient Customs and Laws of this Land, every free Subject of this Realm, hath a fundamental Propriety in his Goods, and a fundamental Liberty of his Person.
- 3. That his Majesty would be graciously pleased to Declare, That it is his Royal pleasure to ratify and confirm unto all and every his Loyal and faithful Subjects, all their antient, several, just Liberties, Privileges, and Rights, in as ample beneficial manner to all intents and purposes, as their Ancestors did enjoy the same under the best of his most noble Progenitors.
- 4. That his Majesty would be further pleased graciously to Declare, for the good content of his Loyal Subjects, and for the securing them from future fear, That in all Cases within the Cognizances of the Common Law concerning the Liberties of the Subject, his Majesty would proceed according to the Common Law of this Land, and according to the Laws established in the Kingdom, and in no other manner or wise.
- 5. As touching his Majesty's Royal Prerogative, intrinsical to his Sovereignty, and betrusted him withal from God, ad communem totius populi salutem, & non ad destructionem, That his Majesty would resolve not to use or divert the same, to the prejudice of any his loyal People in the propriety of their Goods, or liberty of their Persons: And in case, for the security of his Majesty's Royal Person, the common safety of his People, or the peaceable Government of this Kingdom, his Majesty shall find just cause for reason of State to imprison or restrain any man's Person, his Majesty would graciously Declare, That within a convenient time he shall, and will express the cause of the Commitment or restraint, either General or Special; and upon a cause so expressed, will leave him immediately to be tried according to the common Justice of the Kingdom.
'My Lords, it hath pleased God many ways to bless the Knights, Citizens, and Burgesses now assembled in Parliament, with great comfort and strong hopes, that this will prove as happy a Parliament as ever was in England. And in their consultations for the service of his Majesty, and the safety of this Kingdom, our special comforts and strong hopes have risen from the continued good respect, which your Lordships so nobly from time to time have been pleased to shew unto them, particularly at this present in your so honourable profession to agree with them in general, and desiring to maintain and support the fundamental Laws and Liberties of England.
'The Commons have commanded me in like sort to assure your Lordships they have been, are and will be as ready to propugn the just Prerogatives of his Majesty, of which in all their Arguments, searches of Records, and Resolutions they have been most careful according to that which formerly was, and now again is protested by them.
'Another noble argument of your honourable disposition towards them is expressed in this, That you are pleased to expect no present Answer from them, who are (as your Lordships in your great wisdoms, they doubt not have considered) a great body that must advise upon all new Propositions, and resolve upon them before they can give answer, according to the antient Order of their House. But it is manifest in general (God be thanked for it) there is a great concurrence of affection to the same end in both Houses, and such good Harmony, that I intreat your Lordships leave to borrow a Comparison from Nature, or natural Philosophy: As two Lutes well strung and tuned brought together, if one be play'd on, little straws and sticks will stir upon the other, though it lye still; so though we have no power to reply, yet these things said and propounded cannot but work in our hearts, and we will faithfully report these Passages to our House, from whence in due time (we hope) your Lordships shall receive a contentful Answer.