The Diary of Thomas Burton: 4 April 1656-7

Pages 416-421

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

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Saturday, April 4, 1657.

Colonel Gorges reported from the Committee, to whom Mr. Bastwick's petition was referred, (fn. 1) the opinion and resolves of the said Committee.

Resolved, that this House doth agree with the Committee. (fn. 2)

The Lord Commissioner Whitlock reported from the. Committee appointed yesterday, to attend his Highness the Lord Protector, that the said Committee, did yesterday attend his Highness according to the order of the House, and that his Highness did express himself to the Committee to this effect: (fn. 3)

My Lords,

I am heartily sorry that I did not make the desire of mine known to the Parliament before this time, which was that I acquainted them with, by letter, this day. The reason was because some infirmity of body hath seized upon me these two last days, yesterday and Wednesday. I have, as well as I could, taken consideration of the things contained in the paper, which was presented to me By the Parliament in the Banquetting House, on Tuesday last, and sought of God, that I might return such an answer as might become me, and be worthy of the Parliament. I must needs bear this testimony to them, that they have been zealous of the two greatest concernments that God hath in the world. The one is, that of religion, and of the preservation of the professors of it, to give them all due and just liberty; and to assert the truth of God, which you have done in part in this paper, and do refer them to be done more fully by yourselves and me; and as to the liberty of men professing godliness, under variety of forms amongst us, you have done that which was never done before; and I pray it may not fall upon the people of God as a fault in them, or any sort of them, if they do not put such a value upon what is done, as never was put on anything since Christ's time, for such a Catholic interest of the people of God.

The other thing cared for, is the civil liberty and interest of the nation, which, though it is, and indeed I think ought to be, subordinate to a more peculiar interest of God, yet it is the next best God hath given men in the world; and if well cared for, it is better than any rock to fence men, in their other interests. Then, if any whosoever think the interest of Christians, and the interest of the nation inconsistent, I wish my soul may never enter into their secrets. These are things I must acknowledge Christian and honourable, and are provided for by you like Christian men, and even men of honour, and, like yourselves, Englishmen. And to this I must and shall bear my testimony, while I live, against all gainsayers whatsoever. And upon these two interests, if God shall account me worthy, I shall live and die. And I must say, if I were to give an account before a greater tribunal than any earthly one, and if I were asked why I have engaged all along in the late war, I could give no answer but it would be a wicked one, if it did not comprehend these two ends. Only give me leave to say, and to say it seriously (the issue will prove it so) that you have one or two considerations that do stick with me. The one is, you have named me by another title than I now bear. You do necessitate my answer to be categorical; and you have made me without a liberty of choice, save as to all. I question not your wisdom in doing of it; but I think myself obliged to acquiesce in your determination, knowing you are men of wisdom, and considering the trust you are under. It is a duty not to question the reason of any thing you have done. I should be very brutish should I not acknowledge the exceeding high honour and respect you have had for me in this paper. Truly according to what the world calls good, it hath all good in it, according to worldly approbation of sovereign power; you have testified your value and affection, as to my person, as high as you could; for more you could not do. I hope I shall always keep a grateful memory of this in my heart, and by you I return the Parliament this my grateful acknowledgment. Whatever other men's thoughts may be, I shall not own ingratitude, but I must needs say, that that may be fit for you to do, which may not be fit for me to undertake. As I should reckon it a very great presumption, should I ask of you the reason of your doing any one thing in this paper, (except some very few things), the instrument bears testimony to itself; so you will not take it unkindly if I ask of you this addition of the Parliament's favour, love, and indulgence, unto me, if it be taken in tender part, if I give such an answer as I find in my heart to give in this business, without urging many reasons for it, save such as are most obvious, and most for my advantage in answering (to wit) that I am not able for such a trust and charge. And if the answer of the tongue, as well as the preparation of the heart be from God, I must say my heart and thoughts, ever since I heard the Parliament were upon this business, though I could not take notice of your proceedings therein without breach of your privileges, yet, as a common person, I confess I heard of it as in common with others. I must say, I have been able to attain no further than this, that seeing the way is hedged up to, as it is to me, that I cannot accept the things offered, unless I accept all, (fn. 4) I have not been able to find it my duty to God and you to undertake this charge under that title. (fn. 5) The most I said in commendation of the Instrument may be returned upon me, as thus: are there such good things provided for, why cannot you accept them because of such an ingredient ? Nothing must make a man's conscience a servant. And, really and sincerely, it is my conscience that guides me to this answer; and if the Parliament be so resolved, it will not be fit for me to use any inducement to you to alter their resolution.

This is all I have to say. I desire it may, and do not doubt but it will, be with candour and ingenuity represented unto them by you.

The question being propounded, that this House doth adhere to their humble Petition and Advice, presented to his Highness, the Lord Protector.

And the question being put, that that question be now put;

The House was divided. The Noes went forth.

Noes 65. Major-General Whalley and Colonel Talbot. Tellers.

Yeas 77. Major-General Howard, (fn. 6) and Major-General Jephson. Tellers.

So it passed in the affirmative.

And the main question being put;

The House was again divided. The Noes went forth.

Noes 65. Major-General Disbrowe and Colonel Hewson, Tellers.

Yeas 78. General Montagu and Sir John Hobart, Tellers.

So it was resolved that this House doth adhere to their humble Petition and. Advice, presented to his Highness, the Lord Protector.


  • 1. See supra, p. 373.
  • 2. To continue to Mrs. Bastwick "during her life, the pension of forty shillings by die week." Also, to appropriate "forfeited lands, to the yearly value of 200l. in the county of Dublin, in Ireland," to be divided in five parts, between Mrs.Bastwick and her children.
  • 3. Here the Journals break off abruptly, as before (supra, p. 397) marking the hiatus by asterisks. The authors of Parl.Hist. (xxi. 61.) regret that they could not "supply the defieiencies from any contemporary authorities." It is, however, supplied in their Appendix, (1763) xxiii. 161. Whitlock says, "I spake to him upon the point of the title of King, giving reasons why he should accept of that title: the Protector urged his reasons against it, and I replied." Memorials, (1732) p. 655. I have here copied this speech from the MSS., described supra, p. 370, note †. It is thus entitled (p. 314), "The substance of the Lord Protector's Answer (after, deliberation had) to the offer of kingship, &c.: given in Whitehall, 3 Aprilis, 1667, Friday; the tender of the proposal being on Tuesday before, the 31st March."
  • 4. See supra, p. 39.5, 396.
  • 5. Whatever difficulties the conscientious Protector encountered in discovering his duty, his physician, Dr. Bates, a near observer, thus describes the jarring applications which forbad him easily to ascertain how far his interest might consist with his inclination in pursuing this last object of his ambition:— "Leguleorum plerique, Commissarii, sive Delegati Magni Sigilli, Judices, Militúmque Præfecti quidam,—orant, instant, importunè atque ardenter efflagitant, ut Regio nomine in se recipiendo consentiat. Ex altera parte, Catabaptistæ, Sectarii, Democraticique, scriptis literis, colloquiis, petitionibus monitoriis aures obturidere, fatigare. Ille verò, dum hæc fierent, incertos sequè omnes ac dubios animi dimittit." Elenchus, (1676) pp. 312, 313. (Many lawyers, the Commissioners of the Great Seal, the Judges, and some officers of the army, intreat, urge, arid earnestly importune him to assume the royal title. On the other hand, the Anabaptists, Sectaries, and Democrats, weary him with letters, conferences, and monitory petitions. He dismisses them all, alike dubious and ignorant of his real intention.)
  • 6. This member appears now, generally, to be called Lord Howard.