The Diary of Thomas Burton: 30 January 1657-8

Pages 394-404

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

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Saturday, January 30, 1657–8.

When I came in, I found

Sir Arthur Haslerigge, moving about the business of fishing.

It was moved that the mace might be sent into the Hall for the members.

Captain Hatsell. I move that you require the judges to sit at seven and rise at ten; so that all your members may attend.

Mr. Bond. You will make yourselves very cheap, to send your mace every day out for your members. I would rather have you to require your judges to sit at seven and rise at ten, that all may attend; and if you take away the counsel wholly, you will undo many a poor man, who has retained them, from the beginning, in their causes.

Mr. Weaver. I move that you will not put the judges to harder tasks than ourselves that are younger constitutions, to sit at seven. I would rather have you require the counsel to attend here, or stick wholly to their practice, and let others come in their places that will attend. We have little of their help, either here or below, (at Committees, I mean,) though they are very useful, I confess, if they would apply themselves to it.

Sir Lislebone Long. I move that you will not put a harder task upon those of the long robe, than dn other professions who do their own business and yours too. I have never observed, in my experience, but they have been.always ready to assist, both here and at Committees, in matters of difficulty.

The order of the day was read, and then stood up

Captain Whitgrave. The long oration made yesterday, I heard most of it, in 54, directed against the supreme magistrate, (fn. 1) now against the House of Lords. It wholly tends, to a Commonwealth, so I hope it will need no answer. It is an English proverb, " The burnt child dreads the fire." We have sad experience of what treasure it cost us when we were a Commonwealth; more than in five hundred years before. (fn. 2) Let us consider the condition we are in: Scotland scarce recovered; Ireland wants but swords, to return again to be our enemy. His Highness has called the other House a House of Lords, and my motion is, that you would address your answer to them by that title.

Mr. Hungerford. I move that you would not wade into the merit of a government wherein you are settled; but keep to the question in hand. Whether you will begin the other title, (fn. 3) or retain this, (fn. 4) I shall leave it to you; but let your debate have a method, and it will sooner be ended.

Mr. Bond. I do not like to hear reflections of any kind upon the Long Parliament, to whose pains and success this nation owes its peace and safety. The gentleman is pleased to say they were expensive. I am not of his opinion.

Sir Arthur Haslerigge. I move that all reflections be spared; and, for my part, I can pass by all that the young gentleman has said. (fn. 5) I desire not to spend time in such de bates; but to endeavour to satisfy one another, with all tenderness and calmness of spirit and Christian moderation, as becomes a senate.

Mr. Waller. I thought that your Petition and Advice had put this debate to an end and determination. At the same time you breathed into it (fn. 6) the breath of life, you gave it a power co-ordinate with you in the legislature. (fn. 7) I never heard of another 'House with another power. (He made a little pause.)

I shall answer the objections.

1. You intended not that they should be a House of Lords, because you did not call them so.

Let your debates be examined, and it will be found you intended a restitution of the second Estate of Parliament. And you have the interpretation of it, that made it.

1. In Art. 5. there is an exception; so surely there must be a rule, else the exception were to no purpose.

2. The name of distinction to this House, " The House of Commons," proves that there is meant and intended another power co-ordinate. (All this wind shakes no corn.)

A constitution (save for the interposition of wicked men) that our ancestors lived very well under; our neighbour nations happy in it: a government which you have been pleased to draw, wants only your ultimatum manum to make it happy and satisfactory to the people.

If we will not consider things, let us consider times, the ruin that your enemies intend you. I need not use, I hope, any arguments to induce a correspondence between the two Houses but the necessity. No supplies can be granted. Judgments will necessarily fall upon us.

They are not fetters for our feet, but a just curb in our mouths. Though they be but a swarm from us, as is said, let them grow with us, in gathering of honey, that the nation and they and we together, may taste the sweets of it. My motion is, that you explain your Petition and Advice, that this shall be a restitution of the second Estate of Parliament.

Colonel Matthews. In regard there is an Act of Parliament against a House of Lords, before you debate it, you should ask leave to speak against it.

Colonel Shapcott. I move to the order of your proceedings. You resolve to return an answer to the message. That argument (fn. 8) lies also against a single person. Your order is, that you will take up the message, and consider what answer you will return to it.

Mr. Weaver. There is a law, declaring that that House of Lords was useless; (fn. 9) and that for good grounds, which I shall not speak to now. But, certainly, leave must be given to speak against that Act ere you proceed.

Sir Arthur Haslerigge. We are not yet gone so far. Our business is, only to debate what answer to return to the other House. When you come to speak of Lords, then must leave be given to speak against the Act of Parliament.

Mr. Bodurda. That gentleman has most reason, to know whence tha message came. He has privilege to sit in that House. Yet, if any know the message better than those that brought it, it is strange.

Mr. Scot. I move that thanks be given to that honourable person that vouchsafes to sit among the Commons, notwithstanding his call to another place: that he thinks it his honour to sit amongst the Commons of England, before any society of men whatsoever.

Mr. Trevor. It does not appear, by your books, whether they are called the other House or no.

Major Burton and Mr. Moody. It appears by your books that you call them the other House. (But the books being resorted to, it appeared, otherwise.)

Mr. Fleetwood. The person that blew this disturbance into this House, was pleased to move thanks to be given to a member for sitting here. I desire likewise that thanks be given for his long speech.

Sir Arthur Hasterigge. I move to know whether, regularly, they ought to send a messenger to you or you to them. Naturally, in my opinion, it ought to proceed from this House.

Mr. Bodurda. This silence makes me stand up. I am none of those that triumph upon your order. That it is another House I do not deny: but that excludes them not from being Lords. My motion is that you put the question, to appoint a number of your own to attend the House of Lords with an answer to their message.

Mr. Ashe. They be another House of Parliament; as so you have acknowledged them. They are persons fit to make addresses to you. It is not now to determine of titles. My motion is, that you send to the other House that you intend to join with them in this Address to his Highness, for a day of public humiliation. In my opinion, the title comes not now at all in question, nor need.

Colonel Carter. I move that you determine the question upon the title before you leave it; otherwise you will be at a loss upon every message, upon what terms, and under what title, you will treat with them. In my opinion, there is nothing so necessary to come to a conclusion in as this.

Baron Thorp. I observe, upon reading your orders, that you have a message from the Lords, and your return is that you will take into consideration the message from the other House. If so, what can you then do but return a message to the other House ? There is nothing else before you. You have neither done nor said any thing to give them another title.

By your concurrence with the other House, it may prevent the dangers that some gentlemen do move that we are under. When such a question comes before you, as to own them under that title, you may then determine upon the Act, and what title you think fit to give them; and you may safely return such an answer to them, by the name of the other House, for you have not yet called them by another name. The message is good, honest, and religious.

Mr. Nanfan. I conceive it is the great matter in debate, to know by what title you will treat with them. The title "other House," signifies nothing. It is absurd and repugnant; for when you come to these doors, then you are the other House to them.

Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper. I apprehend nobody speaks of that notion which I have in my head. Your order is very nice. You have a message from the Lords, brought by the judges from the Lords.

Unusual causes produce unusual effects; and nothing so ordinary to philosophers as to meet with such.

I would have things proceed by natural steps. When once you have made a return to the message from the Lords, the logic I have, which is but little, informs me that your return acknowledges them to be a House of Lords. I would rather have us consider from whom that message is, and we can better tell what answer to return.

Mr. Hoskins. Considering the weight of the business before you, I thought silence was the best service I could do you. I see you are at a loss what question you will go upon. It is clear from whom you received the message. Some answer must be returned.

The proper question is what answer you will return to the Lords? The Petition has a further sanction, now his Highness consents. It is obvious to every one that has read, that the calling of them to sit there by writ, is making them Lords. Whether it be that House of Peers you mean, or some other, it is fit you should come to some concurrence; but especially in this business. Go upon which you will take up first. I leave it to you; but, if you please, let that be your first question, whether you will call them Lords, that some progress may be made.

Alderman Gibbes. It is true we have received a message, and it is as true that we have engaged to return an answer; the question is, to whom, and under what title ? The great difficulty of this debate is, because it does not appear whether it is from what is old, or from what is new.

Look into your Petition, and see if you have created such a power as to have a co-ordination with you; or to send a message to you. It imports either a co-ordination, or a supremacy above you. See what power you have given them, and what further power you will give them.

The clause was read relating to calling of the other House. (fn. 10)

Colonel Shapcott. I do now find the unhappiness that all your members were not here at your debates. (fn. 11) The business that you were advised about was, what was best for the people; and it was first thought not fit that laws should suddenly pass upon the people. So it was clearly your sense to settle three estates. If this be not taken for a foundation, then ought leave to be asked to speak against what was moved to you.

It is clear, nothing clearer, that they are a House of Parliament; and if so, it was never known that two Houses of Commons were in England.

Consider what his Highness told you. He was sworn to maintain the privileges of the two Houses; one under the title of Lords; and I believe he did not take that oath without good advice and counsel.

If we dispute grounds and foundations, we shall soon dispute ourselves out of doors. (fn. 12) If they be not a House of Parliament, it may be said the same of us; and nothing so natural as for them to send to us, and we to them, for passing laws.

You cannot own them to be a House of Parliament unless you call them a House of Lords. You know what they are, where they sit, what they arc doing.

My motion is, that you would consider what to return to the Lords.

Sir Arthur Haslerigge. There is nothing so clear. They have the title pf the other House of Parliament. I am loth to come upon so great a question. They are another House, and that is enough. I speak not but to maintain what you have passed. It is good, if you can let it alone. Englishmen cannot bear when it is well. I think it is very well.

If his Highness will make you dukes, earls, he may do what he will. Grant once Lords, then you will find tenderness, of course, to maintain the privileges of that House as Lords. The Commons of England will quake to hear that they are returning to Egypt, to the garlick and onions of (he called by a slip) a kingdom. I crave your pardon for that mistake. We are yet a Commonwealth, and I hope I shall many years humbly ask your pardon for that mistake.

It is moved you that laws slipped, therefore need of some to superintend or supervise, I should say, your slips and mistakes. My motion is to consider what answer you will return to "the other House."

Mr. Trevor. I move that you agree first about the appellation of those persons, to whom this answer shall be made.

It was a great while to stumble upon a question; at last

Mr. Speaker. Two questions are before you; first, to the substance of the message; second, to the appellation of the persons to whom you will address it.

It was agreed upon the question, nemine contradicente, to debate upon the latter, viz. about the appellation.

Sir Arthur Haslerigge. I move that you adjourn the debate till Wednesday, because of the call of the House.

Colonel Carter moved to take it up in the afternoon.

Alderman Gibbes moved that it be taken up at ten o'clock on Monday next, after the calling of the House; and it was so

Resolved accordingly. The House rose at one.

In the afternoon the Committee about the Records and Writings to be delivered to Mr. Smyth, sat in the Speaker's Chamber, where Mr. Scobell, by his servant Mr. Simons, had sent an inventory of all the Records and Writings belonging to the House. The Committee being not satisfied therewith, went to Mr. Scobell's house themselves, viz. Francis Darley, Bodurda, Bond, Matthews, Pedley, Scot, Stone, Lucy, and I, and demanded all the Records, and said those that he had inventoried were not all, for there were none of the Bills nor Acts that had passed. He insisted, that all Acts of Parliament, after they were passed, were no more the Records of the one or the other House, but the public Records of the nation; whereunto every one might resort: and being specially charged with the custody of them, he could not safely deliver them up on an implicit order, unless the order had said Act, Acts, or Bills passed, &c.; and further, he said, that there was not one Bill in his custody that did lastly pass in the House of Commons, for they were again always sent up to the House of Lords, after the Commons had concurred.

The Committee were satisfied for the present, and intend to move the House.


  • 1. In the Parliament which met September 4, 1654, Mr. Scot was member for Chipping Wycombe. Of his uncourtly deportment and his political associates, at the first meeting of this Parliament, Ludlow has given the following account:— "Whereas the court-party would have obliged them to approve at once the whole Instrument of Government which they had framed, the assembly took it in pieces, and referred the consideration of it to a Committee, where the first question fallen upon, was 'Whether the supreme legislative power of the nation shall be in a single person and the Parliament.' In this debate Sir Arthur Haslerigge, Mr. Scot, and many others, especially the Lord President Bradshaw, were very instrumental in opening the eyes of many young members, who had never before heard their interest so clearly stated and asserted; so that the Commonwealth party increased daily, and that of the sword lost ground." Memoirs, (1698), ii. 499, 500. See Parl. Hist. xx. 334, 348. For the Protector's expedient of a recognition, and the manner of exacting it, see vol. i. p. 273, note †.
  • 2. For this bold assertion belief could scarcely have been expected. The republican economy has, I think, been generally admitted, and Milton's remark justified, that "the trappings of a monarchy will set up a commonwealth." Have the United States of America disappointed the expectation?
  • 3. House of Lords.
  • 4. Other House.
  • 5. The reputation of the Protector's government, especially as to his assumption of it, so much depended on depreciating the disinterested and patriotic character of the Long Parliament, that his courtiers, of whom probably was this " young gentleman," would be disposed to forget or disregard the maxim, de mortuis nil nisvperum. Yet Guthrie, an anti-republican, admits that the vast expense of the Parliament's wars, was not " drained from the sweat of the people," who, on the contrary," scarce felt their burdens." See Macaulay's History, (1772) v. 103. Mr.Trenchard, in his "History of Standing Armies," says that during the " five years," of their government, they " managed the public expenses with so much frugality, that no estates were gained by private men upon the public miseries." See " Tracts by Trenchard and Gordon," (1751) i. 70. The conduct of Sir Henry Vane cannot here be unnoticed. He was "sole Treasurer of the Navy," by a patent for life. "The fees were four pence in the pound, which amounted it is said," during the Dutch war, " to little less than 30,000l. a year. Sir Henry, of his own accord, gave up his patent to the Parliament, desiring but 2000l. a year, for an agent bred up to the business, and the remainder to go to the public." Brit. Biog. (1770) vi. 92, 93. Mrs. Macaulay, as might be expected, warmly eulogises this " generous instance of disinterested virtue, not to be met with in the history of monarchy, from the time of the Conquest to this day." I know not whether the remark be correct, or if the half century which has elapsed since the historian wrote it, have supplied the instance of a disinterested royalist, to match the patriotic republican. Well might Cromwell, on his last and ever-memorable appearance as a member of Parliament, be heard, as Ludlow has related, (Mem. ii. 457.) " crying out with a loud voice, oh, Sir Henry Vane, Sir Henry Vane, the Lord deliver me from Sir Henry Vane," whose generous adherence to the public cause, must have been insufferable, as too powerfully illustrating by contrast the selfish character of his own ambition. "The following instance, worthily imitated by a later Lord Deputy, (see supra, pp. 197–200,224), occurred in the Protector's family, during the flourishing days of the republic. "They ordered," says Ludlow, (1651), "an Act to be brought in for settling 2000l. per annum, on the Lord Deputy Ireton, the news of which being brought over, was so unacceptable to him that he said, ' they had many just debts, which he desired they would pay before they made. any such presents; that he had no need of their land, and therefore would not have it; and that he should be more contented to see them doing the service of the nation, than so liberal in disposing of the public treasure.' And truly," adds Ludlow, "I believe he was in earnest; for as he was always careful to husband those things that belonged to the state, to the best advantage, so was he most liberal in employing his own purse and person in the public service." Memoirs, (1698), i. 371. The Lord Deputy survived this transaction only a few weeks, from having " so totally neglected himself during the siege of Limerick." He was " solemnly interred at Westminster in a magnificent monument, at the public charge;" (demolished in 1661, to grace the return of royal regular government;) " having erected for himself a more glorious monument in the hearts of good men, by his affection to his country, his abilities of mind, his impartial justice, his diligence in the public service, and his other virtues, which were a far greater honour to his memory, than a dormitory amongst the ashes of kings." Ibid. p. 384. I had occasion to remark in another place, how closely Pope appears to have imitated this sentence, in the concluding lines of his epitaph on Gay. Perhaps Ludlow had a reference to Crashaw, or to the Latin verses on the death of Prince Henry. Pope, too, might have seen both. See Monthly Repository, (1810) iv. 68, 69.
  • 6. The other House.
  • 7. Compare the opinions of " Mr. Godfrey and Mr. Lechmere," supra, pp. 120,121; arid see supra, pp. 298, 301, notes.
  • 8. From the " Act against a House of Lords."
  • 9. See supra, p. 388, note *.
  • 10. See vol. i. pp. 381, 387.
  • 11. See vol. i. p. 262, note ‡.
  • 12. This speaker was, probably, in the secrets of the cabinet.