The Diary of Thomas Burton: 14 January 1656-7

Pages 346-350

Diary of Thomas Burton Esq: Volume 1, July 1653 - April 1657. Originally published by H Colburn, London, 1828.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.


In this section

Wednesday, January 14, 1656–7.

The Grand Committee, according to former order, sat upon the Bill for uniting of Scotland into a commonwealth with England. They passed a great part of it, and upon long debate, the clause for confirmation of the privileges of boroughs there passed. (fn. 1)

The clause, that the people of Scotland should have no taxes nor public impositions whatsoever laid upon them, but by common consent in Parliament, held us in debate from eleven till one. The objection against it was, that it put the people of Scotland into a better condition than those of England, and we ought to be their elder brother.

Mr. Robinson, Mr. Downing, and Major-General Howard. That clause and the other clause will but clog the Bill, and hinder his Highness's consent, and put a negatve in his mouth.

Lord Fiennes. The clause has no coherence with the Bill of union, so need not be part of the Bill.

Mr. Attorney of the Duchy, Sir John Hobart, and Mr. Vincent said, that it was a good clause, and fit to be in every Bill. They desired that, to answer the former objection, England and Ireland might be added, it being a fundamental right of the people of both nations, that no tax ought to be laid, but by consent in Parliament.

Sir William Strickland. If any act should pass this House, to restrain the people in that point, it would be a void act; for every man was born with a negative in his mouth as to that, and no Parliament can part with such a fundamental right of the people.

Some were sorry the clause was in the Bill, but, seeing it was there, they were much divided in their opinions. To reject such a clause, though but collateral to the union, might sound ill abroad. That a Parliament should discourage such a clause, was a tacit consent that taxes might be laid, out of Parliament. If it stand, then we tacitly take the tax from Scotland, and lay it upon ourselves, and so make a disunion instead of an union. Some were for passing it over, or laying it aside: others, that we might take an occasion hereby to make claim, continual claim, to our liberties, especially in disposing of property, and that it were good such a Bill were provided for the whole nation.

Captain Baynes. I hope that you will provide for securing the peace of the nation, if you lay no tax but in Parliament: for it is no pleasure to his Highness to continue assessments, but of necessity; and by the thirty-ninth article of the Instrument of Government, he may raise 90,000l per mensem. (fn. 2)

The debate brought forth no question, so we rose in confusion.

In the middle room sat a Committee of Scotch members, but they rose presently; another Committee, private, in the duchy chamber.

In the lobby of the Lords' House, sat a Committee for Bibles. Judge-Advocate Whalley in the chair.

There was a long paper of errata, amounting to two thousand, brought in by the Company of Stationers, against a Bible of Hill's, now in the press. Most of the faults were but slight, viz. in commas, points, italics, and slip of a letter, and the like.

There was one Robinson, a Scotchman, corrector of his Highness's press, a very busy person, and swelling in his own opinion, and skill in the tongues, who openly arraigned, not only the Cambridge translation of the Church Bibles, but all other bibles whatsoever now in England, as faulty, both in printing and difference from the original.

Mr. Tymbes took an occasion to say, that a Jesuit could do no more but arraign our bibles.

Lord Strickland and I were of the same opinion, and that it was of dangerous consequence to grant that, by a vote of a Committee. It would hear ill abroad.

Robinson was so nettled at it, that he questioned Mr. Tymbes, for comparing him to a Jesuit.

The Committee ordered that Robinson should be reproved sharply, which was done.

Ordered, that Mr. Hill do, within fourteen days, bring in a note to this Committee, of his amendments, and another note of what he has not amended, to the end the Committee may consider, whether the impression may be so amended, by putting in new sheets, &c. as that the same may be published.

Resolved, that this Committee will take cognizance of no impressions of bibles, but such as have been printed within these two years; and that they will take care to suppress all bibles printed beyond seas, that the same may not be sold, and other books.

This Robinson presented Hobbes's Leviathan (fn. 3) to the Committee, as a most poisonous piece of atheism.

Another, of a Jesuit's, called The Touchstone of the Reformed Gospel, a little book in 8vo.

There was a report from the ministers (fn. 4) who were appointed to consider which version of psalms was fittest to be publicly used. Their return was, that Mr. Rous's (fn. 5) version was the best, both as to agreeing with the original and better metre; and that Mr. —'s (fn. 6) version was a good one too. They desired he might be recompensed for his pains.

We sat till seven. Adjourned to Monday.

Major-General Bridge is very zealous in this business of the psalms.

(Whitehall, January 14.)

It hath been ordered by his Highness and the Council, that Mr. Rogers, who was committed to the Isle of Wight, (fn. 7) and Mr. David Jenkins, commonly known by the name of Judge Jenkins, (fn. 8) be set at liberty.


  • 1. See supra, p. 12.
  • 2. The thirty-ninth Article is on the sale of the royal and episcopal lands. The thirtieth Article, to which alone this speaker could refer, authorizes no specific sum. It directs that, "until the meeting of the first Parliament, the Lord Protector, with the consent of the major part of the Council, for preventing the disorders and dangers which might otherwise fall out, both by sea and land, shall have power to raise money."—See Part. Hist. xx. 259.
  • 3. "Or the Matter, Form and Power, of a Commonwealth, Ecclesiastical and Civil, published at London, in 1651, in folio." See Brit. Biog. (1769) v. 7. Lord Clarendon wrote, during his exile at Moulins, in 1673, "A Brief View and Survey of the Dangerous and Pernicious Errors to Church and State in Mr. Hobbes's Book, entitled Leviathan," in which (pp. 7, 8.) are some curious particulars respecting that publication. Hobbes, in his Latin Autobiography, describes the odium he incurred from the divines who attended Charles's court at Paris, though he is silent respecting this complaint to the Parliament, which, probably, led to no farther proceedings. The author, referring to the opposite characters given to his Leviathan, by some admired, as insolitum miraculum, by others abhorred, as monstrum horrendum informe, thus fairly determines. "Fruatur quisque suo per me sensu licet; mihi nec alienum philosophandi libertatem circumscribere, neque propriam prodere, animus est." (Let every one enjoy his own opinion, I would neither restrain another man's liberty of philosophizing, nor surrender my own.) See "Thomse Hobbes.Angli Malmsburiensis Philosophi Vita. Carolopoli. apud Eleutherium Anglicum, sub signo veritatis," (1681) p. 81.
  • 4. I find in Whitlock, "1649, September 20. Resolved, that the Singing Psalms, be not, for the future, printed with the Bible." Till this time, probably, or, at least, till the war between Charles and the Parliament, the version of Sternhold and Hopkins, which was partially superseded, in 1696, by that of Tate and Brady, had been universally adopted, on royal authority. Wood, in his article Thomas Sternhold, (who died in 1549) thus describes the origin of English protestant psalmody. Sternhold "being a most zealous reformer, and a very strict liver, he became so scandalized at the amorous and obscene songs used in the court, (of Edward VI.) that he, forsooth, turned into English metre fifty-one of David's psalms, and caused musical notes to he set to them; thinking thereby that the courtiers would sing them, instead of their sonnets, but did not, only some few excepted. However, the poetry and music being admirable, and the best that was made and composed in those tunes, they were thought fit to be sung in all parochial churches." Athen. Oxon., (1691) i. 62.
  • 5. Francis Rous, M. P. for Cornwall, and Provost of Eton College. He had published in 1646, by order of the Parliament, "The Psalms of David translated into English metre." Athen. Oxon., (1692) ii. 149.
  • 6. Probably William Barton's. See Ibid.
  • 7. Mercurius Politicus, No. 344. From the following, it appears that this prisoner had excited some public interest:—" Mr. Rogers, preacher, being released by order of his Highness and the Council, from the Isle of Wight, came this Wednesday, Jan. 21, about three of the clock in the afternoon, into London." Ibid. No. 345. Whitlock reports "October, 1655. Orders for accommodation of Mr. Feake, and Mr: Rogers, prisoners." Wood, (at the close of his article Harrington) has a large account of John Rogers, whom he describes as "a notorious fifth-monarchy man and anabaptist, with Christopher Feake, the Coryphaei of their party." He was imprisoned in 1654. Athen. Oxon. (1692.) ii. 442.
  • 8. One of the Welsh Judges, who, according to Wood, became obnoxious to the Parliament for his conduct on the circuit. Taken prisoner at Hereford in 1645, he was first committed to the Tower, then to Newgate, from thence "translated to Wallingford Castle," and now released from Windsor Castle. Wood, a bitter foe of Lord Clarendon, says "he might have been one of the Judges in Westminster Hall, after the Restoration, would he have given money to the then Lord Chancellor." Judge Jenkins died in 1663, aged more than 81. Athen. Oxon., ii. 212.