His Highness's answer to the Petition and Advice

Pages 509-510

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

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No. V. (Supra, p. 125.)

His Highness's Speech, giving his consent unto the Petition and Advice.

Mr. Speaker,

I desire to offer a word or two unto you, which shall be but a word.

I did well bethink myself, before I came hither this day, that I came not as to a triumph; but, with the most serious thoughts that ever I had in all my life, to undertake one of the greatest tasks that ever was laid upon the back of a human creature. And I make no question but you will, and so will all men, readily agree with me, that without the support of the Almighty, I shall necessarily sink under the burden of it; not only with shame and reproach to myself, but (with that that is more a thousand times, and in comparison of which, I and my family are not worthy to be mentioned,) with the loss and prejudice of these three nations.

And that being so, I must ask your help, and the help of all those that fear God; that, by their prayers, I may receive assistance from the hand of God. His presence going along, will enable me to the discharge of so great a duty and trust as this is, and nothing else can.

Howbeit, I have some other things to desire of you, I mean of the Parliament, that seeing this is but, as it were, an introduction to the carrying on of the government of these nations; and forasmuch as there are many things which cannot be supplied, for enabling me to the carrying on of this work, without your help and assistance, I think it my duty to ask your help in them. Not that I doubted; for I believe the same spirit that hath led you to this, will easily suggest the rest to you.

The truth is, and I can say in the presence of God, that nothing would have induced me to have undertaken this insupportable burden to flesh and blood, had it not been, that I have seen in this Parliament all along, a care of doing all those things that might truly and really answer the ends that we have been engaged for. You have satisfied me of your forwardness and readiness therein fully already.

I thought it my duty, when your Committee, which you were pleased to send to me, to give the grounds and reasons of your proceedings, to help to inform my conscience and judgment; I was then bold to offer to them several considerations, which were received by them, and have been presented to you. In answer to which the Committee did bring me several resolves of yours, which I have by me. I think these are not yet made so authentic and authoritative, as was desired. And, therefore, though I cannot doubt it, yet I thought it my duty to ask it of you, that there may be a perfecting of those things.

Indeed, as I said before, I have my witness in the sight of God, that nothing would have been an argument to me, (howsoever desirable great places seem to be to other men; I say, nothing would have been an argument to me) to have undertaken this; but, as I said before, I saw such things determined by you, as make clearly for the liberties of the nations, and for the liberty and interest and preservation of all such as fear God; of all that fear God under various forms; and, if God make not these nations thankful to you for your care therein, it will fall as fire on their heads. And, therefore, I say, that hath been one main encouragement.

I confess, there are other things that tend to reformation, to the discountenancing of vice, to the encouragement of good men and virtue, and the completing of those things, also, concerning some of which you have not yet resolved any thing; save to let me know, by your Committee, that you would not be wanting in any thing for the good of these nations. Nor do I speak it, as in the least doubting it; but I do earnestly and heartily desire, to the end God may crown your work, and bless you and this government, that, in your own time, and with what speed you judge fit, these things may be provided for. (fn. 1)


  • 1. Journals; Parl. Hist. (1760,) xxi. 142–144. During this month of May, an envoy had been sent from the Queen of Sweden. Some of the Council suggested, that this messenger being an Italian, (who were skilful in the art of poisoning,) might bring poison with his letters to the danger of his Highness. " I said," adds Whitlock, "that if I were by, when the gentleman delivered his letter, I would first receive the letter, and hazard the danger of being poisoned by it." At which the Protector laughed, and appointed a day for the gentleman's audience. Memorials, (1732,) p. 656.