The Diary of Thomas Burton: 12 May 1657

Page 117

Diary of Thomas Burton Esq: Volume 2, April 1657 - February 1658. Originally published by H Colburn, London, 1828.

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Tuesday, May 12, 1657.

Mr. Speaker, according to former order, reported his Highness's speech on Friday last to the House at Whitehall, upon the humble Petition and Advice presented to him by the Parliament. (fn. 1)


  • 1. At the close of this speech, with which "Monarchy Asserted" concludes, and which is preserved verbatim in the printed Journals, the Protector says, "I cannot undertake this government with the title of a king." See Appendix, No. 4. Dr. Welwood, as a proof that Cromwell "aimed to be king," asserts (though he gives no authority) that "a crown was actually made, and brought to Whitehall for that purpose." Memoirs (1700) p. 116. The following passages from the letter of Sir F. Russel, which I lately lately quoted (supra, p. 115.) will sufficiently discover what had been the wishes and expectations of the Protector's family on this subject, and at the same time, the inadequate information which had been procured, even at Whitehall, so late as April 27th:— "My Lord, I do in this (I think) desire to take leave of your lordship, for my next is likely to be to the Duke of York. Your father begins to come out of the clouds, and it appears to us that he will take the kingly power upon him. That great noise which was made about this business not long since, is almost over, and I cannot think there will be the least combustion about it. This day I have had some discourse with your father about this great business. He is very cheerful, and his troubled thoughts seem to be over. I was told the other day, by Colonel Pride, that I was for a king, because I hoped that the next would be Henry's turn." Lansdowne MSS, 823, No. 418. "The Protector," says Whitlock, "was satisfied in his private judgment, that it was fit for him to take upon him the title of king, and matters were prepared in order thereunto; but afterwards, by solicitation of the Commonwealth's men, and fearing a mutiny and defection of a great part of the army in case he should assume that title and office, his mind changed: and many of the officers of the army gave out high threatenings against him, in case he should do it. "The Protector," adds Whitlock, "often advised about this and other great businesses, with the Lord Broghill, Pierpoint, myself, Sir Charles Wolseley, and Thurloe, and would be shut up three or four hours together, and none were permitted to come into him. He would, sometimes, be very cheerful with us, and laying aside his greatness, he would be exceeding familiar with us, and, by way of diversion, would make verses with us, and every one must try his fancy. He commonly called for tobacco, pipes, and a candle, and would, now and then, take tobacco himself. Then he would fall again to his serious and great business, and advise with us in those affairs." Memorials (1732) p. 656.