The Convention Parliament: First session - begins 25/4/1660

Pages 2-25

The History and Proceedings of the House of Commons: Volume 1, 1660-1680. Originally published by Chandler, London, 1742.

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In this section

The King's Letter from Breda to the House of Common.


Trusty, and Well-beloved, We greet you well: In these great and insupportable Afflictions and Calamities under which the poor Nation hath been so long exercis'd, and by which it is so near exhausted, We cannot think of a more near and proper Remedy, than to resort to those for Counsel and Advice, who have seen, and observ'd the first Beginning of our Miseries, the Progress from bad to worse, and the Mistakes and Misunderstandings which have been produc'd, and contributed to Inconveniences which were not intended; and, after so many Revolutions, and the Observation of what hath attended them, are now trusted by our good Subjects to repair the Breaches which are made, and to provide proper Remedies for those Evils, and for the lasting Peace, Happiness, and Security of the Kingdom.

'We do assure you, upon our Royal Word, that none of our Predecessors have had a greater Esteem of Parliaments, than we have in our Judgment, as well as from our Obligation: We do believe them to be so vital a Part of the Constitution of the Kingdom, and so necessary for the Government of it, that We well know neither Prince nor People can be in any tolerable Degree happy without them; and therefore you may be confident, That we shall always look upon their Counsels, as the best we can receive; and shall be as tender of their Privileges, and as careful to preserve and protect them, as of that which is most dear to Ourself, and most necessary for our own Preservation. And as this is our Opinion of Parliaments; so We are most confident, That you believe and find, that the Preservation of the King's Authority is as necessary for the Preservation of Parliaments; and that it is not the Name, but the right Constitution of them, which can prepare and apply proper Remedies for those Evils which are grievous to the People, and can thereby establish their Peace and Security. And therefore we have not the least Doubt, but that you will be tender in, and as jealous of, any Thing that may infringe our Honour, or impair our Authority, as of your own Liberty and Property; which is best preserv'd by preserving the other.

'How far we have trusted you in this great Affair, and how much it is in your Power to restore the Nation to all that it hath lost, and to redeem it from any Infamy it hath undergone, and to make the King and People as happy as they ought to be, you will find by our inclos'd Declaration; a Copy of which we have likewise sent to the House of Peers: And you will easily believe, that we would not voluntarily, and of Ourself, have reposed so great a Trust in you, but upon an entire Confidence that you will not abuse it, and that you will proceed in such a Manner, and in such a due Consideration of Us, who have trusted you, that we shall not be ashamed of declining other Assistance, (which we have Assurance of) and repairing to you for more natural and proper. Remedies for the Evils we would be freed from; nor sorry, that we have bound up our own Interests so entirely with that of our Subjects, as that we refer it to the same Powers to take care of us, who are trusted to provide for them.

'We look upon you as wise, dispassionate Men, and good Patriots, who will raise up those Banks and Fences which have been cast down, and who will most reasonably hope, That the same Prosperity will again spring from those Roots, from which it hath heretofore and always grown; nor can we apprehend that you will propose any Thing to Us, or expect any Thing from Us, but what We are as ready to give, as You to receive.

'If you desire the Advancement and Propagation of the Protestant Religion, we have, by our constant Profession, and Practice of it, given sufficient Testimony to the World, that neither the Unkindness of those of the same Faith towards Us, nor the Civilities and Obligations from those of a contrary Profession, (of both which we have had an abundant Evidence) could, in the least Degree, startle us; or make us swerve from it: and nothing can be propos'd to manifest our Zeal and Affection for it, to which we will not readily consent. And we hope, in due Time, to propose somewhat to you for the Propagation of it, that will satisfy the World that we have always made it both our Care and Study, and have enough observ'd what is most likely to bring Disadvantage to it.

'If you desire Security for Those who, in these calamitous Times, either wilfully or weakly have transgress'd those Bounds which were prescribed, and have invaded each others Rights, We have left to you to provide for their Security and Indemnity, and in such a Way, as you shall think just and reasonable; and by a just Computation of what Men have done and suffer'd, as near as is possible, to take care that all Men be satisfy'd.

'If there be any crying Sin, for which the Nation may be involv'd in the Infamy that attends it, We cannot doubt but that you will be as solicitous to redeem it, and vindicate the Nation from the Guilt and Infamy, as We can. If you desire that Reverence and Obedience may be paid to the fundamental Laws of the Land, and that Justice may be equally and impartially administer'd to all Men, it is that which We desire to be sworn to Ourself; and that all Persons in Power and Authority should be so too. In a word, there is Nothing that you can propose that may make the Kingdom happy, which we will not contend with you to compass; and, upon this Confidence and Assurance, We have thought fit to send you this Declaration, that you may, as much as is possible at this Distance, see our Heart, which, when God shall bring us nearer together (as we hope he will do shortly) will appear to you very agreeable to what we have profess'd; and we hope that we have made that right Christian Use of our Afflictions, and that the Observation and Experiene, we have had in other Countries have been such, as that we, and we hope all our Subjects, shall be the better for what we have seen and suffer'd.

'We shall add no more but our Prayers to Almighty God that he will bless your Counsels, and direct your Endeavours, that his Glory and Worship may be provided for, and the Peace, Honour and Happiness of the Nation may be establish'd on those Foundations which can best support it. And so we bid you farewel.'

The King's Declaration.

His Majesty's Declaration from Breda.

If the general Distraction and Confusion, which is spread over the whole Kingdom, doth not awaken all Men to a Desire, and Longing, that those Wounds, which have so many Years together been kept bleeding, may be bound up, all We can say will be to no Purpose. However, after this long Silence, We have thought it our Duty to declare how much We desire to contribute thereunto: And That, as we can never give over the Hope, in good Time, to obtain the Possession of that Right, which God and Nature hath made our Due; so We make it our daily Suit to the Divine Providence, that He will, in Compassion to Us and our Subjects, after so long Misery and Sufferings, remit, and put Us into a quiet and peaceable Possession of that our Right, with as little Blood and Damage to our People as is possible; nor do we desire more to enjoy what is Ours, than that all our Subjects may enjoy what by Law is Theirs, by a full and entire Administration of Justice throughout the Land, and by extending our Mercy where it is wanted and deserv'd. And to the end that Fear of Punishment may not engage any, conscious to themselves of what is past, to a Perseverance in Guilt for the future, by opposing the Quiet and Happiness of their Country, in the Restoration both of King, and Peers, and People to their just, ancient and fundamental Rights; We do by these Presents declare, That We do grant a free and general Pardon, which We are ready upon Demand, to pass under our Great Seal of England, to all our Subjects of what Degree or Quality soever, who within Forty Days after the Publishing hereof, shall lay hold upon this our Grace and Favour, and shall by any publick Act declare their doing so, and that they return to the Loyalty and Obedience of good Subjects, excepting only such Persons as shall hereafter be excepted by Parliament. Those only excepted, let all our Subjects, how faulty soever, rely upon the Word of a King, solemnly given by this present Declaration, That no Crime whatsoever committed against Us, or our Royal Family, before the Publication of this, shall ever rise in Judgment, or be brought in Question, against any of them, to the least Indamagement of them, either in their Lives, Liberties, or Estates, or (as far forth as lies in our Power) so much as to the Prejudice of their Reputations, by any Reproach or Terms of Distinction from the rest of our best Subjects; We desiring and ordaining, That, henceforward, all Notes of Discord, Separation, and Difference of Parties, be utterly abolish'd among all our Subjects; whom We invite and conjure to a perfect Union among Themselves, under our Protection, for the Resettlement of Our just Rights, and Theirs, in a Free Parliament; by which, upon the Word of a King, We will be advised. And because the Passion and Uncharitableness of the Times have produced several Opinions in RELIGION, by which Men are engag'd in Parties and Animosities against each other; which, when they shall hereafter unite in a Freedom of Conversation, will be composed, or better understood; We do declare a Liberty to tender Consciences; and that no Man shall be disquieted, or called in question for Differences of Opinion in Matters of Religion, which do not disturb the Peace of the Kingdom; and that We shall be ready to consent to such an Act of Parliament, as, upon mature Deliberation, shall be offer'd unto Us, for the full granting that Indulgence. And because, in the continu'd Distractions of so many Years, and so many and great Revolutions, many Grants and Purchases of Estates have been made to and by many Officers, Soldiers, and others, who are now possessed of the same, and who may be liable to Actions at Law, upon several Titles; We are likewise willing, That all such Differences, and all Things relating to such Grants, Sales, and Purchases, shall be determined in Parliament; which can best provide for the just Satisfaction of all Men who are concern'd. And we do further declare, That We will be ready to consent to any Act or Acts of Parliament to the Purposes aforesaid, and for the full Satisfaction of all Arrears due to the Officers and Soldiers of the Army under the Command of General Monk; and that they shall be receiv'd into Our Service upon as good Pay and Conditions as they now enjoy.'

The next Day after the Receipt of this Letter and Declaration the Commons proceeded to prepare an Answer to both; on which Occasion some of the Members had Spirit and Prudence enough to propose certain Articles on the Model of those sign'd at Killingworth by Henry III. which the King should be oblig'd to swear to, as the Conditions of his Restoration: But the Spring-Tide of Zeal and Loyalty, both within doors and without, running too fiercely to be withstood, and the popular Cry being, That they had proceeded too far already in their Vote upon the Receipt of the Letter to fall back again, and offend the King with colder Expressions of their Duty; these wholesome Precautions were, after two Days Debate, given up, and the Result was the following unreserved and courtly Letter:

The Commons Reply.

Most Royal Sovereign,

'We your Majesty's most loyal Subjects the Commons of England, assembled in Parliament, do, with all Humbleness, present unto your Majesty the unfeigned Thankfulness of our Hearts for those gracious Expressions of Piety and Goodness, and Love to us and the Nations under your Dominions, which your Majesty's Letter of the 14th of April, dated from Breda, together with the Declaration inclosed in it, of the same Date, do so evidently contain. For which we do, in the first Place, look up to the great King of Kings, and bless his Name who hath put these Things into the Heart of our King, to make him glorious in the Eyes of his People: As those great Deliverances which that divine Majesty hath afforded unto your Royal Person from many Dangers, and the Support which he hath given to your heroic and princely Mind under various Tryals, make it appear to all the World that you are precious in his Sight. And give us Leave to say, that as your Majesty is pleased to declare your Confidence in Parliaments, your Esteem of them, and this your Judgment and Character of them, that they are so necessary for the Government of the Kingdom, that neither Prince nor People can be in any tolerable Degree happy without them, and therefore say that you will hearken to their Councils, be tender of their Privileges, and careful to preserve and protect them; so we trust, and, with all Humility, be bold to affirm, that your Majesty will not be deceived in us, and that we will never depart from that Fidelity which we owe unto your Majesty, that Zeal which we bear unto your Service, and a constant Endeavour to advance your Honour and Greatness.

'And we beseech your Majesty we may add this farther for the Vindication of Parliaments, and even of the last Parliament, convened under your Royal Father of happy Memory, when, as your Majesty well observes, through Mistakes and Misunderstandings, many Inconveniencies were produc'd which were not intended, that those very Inconveniencies could not have been brought upon us by those Persons who had design'd them without violating the Parliament. For they well knew it was not possible to do a Violence to that sacred Person whilst the Parliament' which had vow'd and covenanted for the Defence and Safety of that Person, remain'd entire. Surely, Sir, as the Persons of our Kings have ever been dear unto Parliaments, so we cannot think of that horrid Act committed against the precious Life of our late Sovereign but with such a Detestation and Abhorrency as we want Words to express it; and, next to wishing it had never been, we wish it may never be remember'd by your Majesty, to be unto you as an Occasion of Sorrow, as it will never be remembered by us but with that Grief and Trouble of Mind which it deserves, being the greatest Reproach that ever was incurr'd by any of the English Nation, an Offence to all the Protestant Churches abroad, and a Scandal to the Profession of the Truth of Religion here at home; though both Profession and true Professors, and the Nation itself, as well as the Parliament, were most innocent of it, it having been only the Contrivance and Act of some few ambitious and bloody Persons, and such others as by their Influence were misled. And as we hope and pray that God will not impute the Guilt of it, nor of all the evil Consequences thereof, unto the Land, whose divine Justice never involves the Guiltless with the Guilty, so we cannot but give due Praise to your Majesty's Goodness, who are pleased to entertain such reconcil'd and reconciling Thoughts, and with them not only meet, but as it were prevent your Parliament and People, proposing yourself in a great measure, and inviting the Parliament to consider farther and advise your Majesty what may be necessary to restore the Nation to what it hath lost, raise up again the Banks and Fences of it, and make the Kingdom happy by the Advancement of Religion, the Security of our Laws, Liberties, and Estates, and the removing all Jealousies and Animosities which may render our Peace less certain and durable Wherein your Majesty gives a large Evidence of your great Wisdom; judging aright, that, after so high a Distemper, and such an universal Shaking of the very Foundations, great Care must be had to repair the Breaches, and much Circumspection and Industry used to provide Things necessary for the strengthning those Repairs, and preventing whatever may disturb or weaken them.

'We shall immediately apply ourselves to the preparing of these Things; and, in a very short Time, we hope to be able to present them to your Majesty; and, for the present, do, with all humble Thankfulness, acknowledge your Grace and Favour, in assuring us of your Royal Concurrence with us, and saying, that we shall not expect any Thing from you but what you will be as ready to give as we to receive; and we cannot doubt of your Majesty's effectual Performance, since your own princely Judgment hath prompted unto you the Necessity of doing such Things, and your Piety and Goodness hath carried you to a free Tender of them to your faithful Parliament. You speak as a gracious King, and we will do what befits dutiful, loving and loyal Subjects, who are yet more engaged to honour and highly esteem your Majesty for your declining, as you are pleased to say, all foreign Assistance, and rather trusting to your People, who, we do assure your Majesty, will and do open their Arms and their Hearts to receive you, and will spare neither their Estates nor their Lives when your Service shall require it of them.

'And we have yet more Cause to enlarge our Praise and our Prayers to God for your Majesty, that you have continued unshaken in your Faith, that neither the Temptation of Allurements, Persuasions and Promises from seducing Papists on the one hand, nor the Persecution and hard Usage of some seduc'd and misguided Professors of the Protestant Religion on the other hand, could at all prevail on your Majesty to make you forsake the Rock of Israel, the God of your Fathers, and the true Protestant Religion in which your Majesty hath been bred, but have still been as a Rock to yourself, firm to your and our God, even now expressing your Zeal and Affection for the Protestant Religion, and your Care and Study for the Propagation thereof. This hath been a Rejoicing of Heart to all the Faithful of the Land, and an Assurance to them that God would not forsake you; but, after many Trials, which should but make you more precious, as Gold out of the Fire, would restore your Majesty to your Patrimony, and People with more Splendor and Dignity, and make you the Glory of Kings and the Joy of your Subjects; which is and ever shall be the Prayer of your Majesty's most loyal Subjects the Commons of England, assembled in Parliament.

Sign'd, Harbottle Grimstone, Speaker.

Thanks given to Sir John Greenvil.

The Letter being engross'd and sign'd, Sir John Greenvil was appointed to attend the House; and being conducted to the Bar, the Speaker stood up, and thus address'd himself to him: I need not tell you with what grateful Hearts the Commons have received his Majesty's gracious Letter; you yourself being an Ear and Eye-Witness of it: Our Bells and our Bonfires have already began the Proclamation of his Majesty's Goodness, and of our Joys: We have told the People, That our King, the Glory of England, is coming home again, and they have resounded it back in our Ears, That they are ready, and that their Hearts are ready to receive Him: Both Parliament and People have cry'd aloud to the King of Kings in their Prayers Long live King Charles the Second! I am likewise to tell you, That the House do not think fit that you return back to our Royal Sovereign without some Testimony of our Respects to yourself; and therefore have ordered that Five Hundred Pounds shou'd be deliver'd to you to buy you a Jewel, as a Badge of that Honour which is due to a Person whom the King has honour'd with so gracious a Message: And I am commanded in the Name of the House to return you their very hearty Thanks.

The next great Affair that took up the Attention of the House was, in conjunction with the Lords, to proclaim the King, which was done in the following Form, as agreed upon in a Conference between the Two Houses.

The Proclamation.

'Altho' it can no way be doubted but that his Majesty's Right and Title to his Crown and Kingdoms, is, and was every way compleated by the Death of his most Royal Father of glorious Memory, without the Ceremony or Solemnity of a Proclamation; yet, since Proclamations in such Cases have been always used, to the End that all good Subjects might upon this Occasion testify their Duty and Respect; and since the armed Violence, and other the Calamities of many Years last past, have hitherto deprived us of any such Opportunity, whereby we might express our Loyalty and Allegiance to his Majesty: We therefore the Lords and Commons now assembled in Parliament, together with the Lord-Mayor, Aldermen, and Commons of the City of London, and other Free Men of this Kingdom now present, do, according to our Duty and Allegiance, heartily, joyfully, and unanimously proclaim, That immediately upon the Decease of our late Sovereign Lord King Charles, the Imperial Crown of the Realm of England, and of all the Kingdoms, Dominions, and Rights belonging to the same, did, by Inherent Birth-Right and Lawful Undoubted Succession, descend and come to his most Excellent Majesty Charles the Second, as being Lineally, Justly, and Lawfully next Heir of the Blood Royal of this Realm; and that by the Goodness and Providence of Almighty God, He is, of England, Scotland, and Ireland, the most Potent, Mighty, and Undoubted King; and thereunto We most humbly and faithfully submit, and oblige our Selves, Our Heirs, and Posterity for ever. God save the King.

Soon after this the two Houses sent over a Deputation to the King to invite him home, which, on the Side of the Commons, was accompany'd with large (fn. 1) Presents in Money, both to his Majesty and his two Brothers, the Dukes of York and Gloucester. The Instructions given to the Commissioners on this unprecedented Occasion are as follow:

Instructions to the Committee.

Instructions for Aubrey Earl of Oxford, Charles Earl of Warwick, Lyonel Earl of Middlesex, Leicester Viscount Hereford, George Lord Berkeley, Robert Lord Brooke, the Lord Herbert, the Lord Mandevile, the Lord Bruce, the Lord Castleston, the Lord Falkland, the Lord Fairfax, (fn. 2) Denzill Holles Esq; Sir Horatio Townsend, Sir John Holland, (fn. 3) Sir Anthony Ashley-Cooper, Sir George Booth, and Sir Henry Cholmley.

|| 18 May, 1660.

You are to begin your Journey towards his Majesty on || Friday next, and make a speedy Repair to such Place where his Majesty shall be, and humbly to present the Letters wherewith you are respectively intrusted by both Houses of Parliament.

You are to acquaint his Majesty with what great Joy and Acclamation he was proclaimed, in and about the Cities of London and Westminster, upon the Eighth Day of May instant, and present the Proclamation itself to his Majesty; and to acquaint him with the Orders of both Houses to have the same proclaimed throughout the Kingdoms of England and Ireland, Dominion of Wales, and the Town of Berwick upon Tweed; and that both Houses have ordered, That all and every the Ministers throughout the Kingdoms of England and Ireland be enjoined in their public Prayers to pray for his most Excellent Majesty, and for the most Illustrious Prince James Duke of York, and the rest of the Royal Progeny. And also that they have ordered, That the assumed Arms of the late pretended Commonwealth, wherever they are standing, be taken down, and that his Majesty's Arms be set up in stead thereof: And you are to communicate to his Majesty the Resolutions of both Houses relating to this Instruction.

You are to acquaint his Majesty with the earnest Desire of both Houses, That his Majesty will be pleased to make a speedy Return to his Parliament, and to the Exercise of his Kingly Office, and that in order thereunto both Houses have given Directions to General Montague, one of the Generals at Sea, and other Officers of the Fleet, to observe such Commands as his Majesty shall please to give him or them for disposal of the Fleet, in order to his Majesty's Return: and you are to communicate to his Majesty the Resolutions of both Houses relating to this Instruction.

That the Committee from both Houses do beseech his Majesty that they may know where he purposeth to take Shipping, and to land at his coming over, that Preparation may be made for his Reception; and which of his Majesty's Houses he intendeth to make use of at his first coming to London, and whether he will come all the Way by Land after he comes on Shore, or whether he will please to come by Water from Gravesend to London; and that his Majesty will declare in what Manner he is pleased to be receiv'd.

Will. Jessop, Cl. of the Commons House of Parliament.

Mr. Denzill Holles to the King at Breda.

The Speech (fn. 3) made thereupon by the Honourable Denzill Holles Esq; one of the Commissioners.

Dread Sovereign,

Your faithful Subjects the Commons of England, assembled in Parliament, have sent us hither, Twelve of their Number, to wait upon your Majesty, and, by their Commands, we are here prostrate at your Royal Feet, where themselves are all of them present with us in the sincere and most loyal Affections and Desires of their Hearts, and would have been in their Persons, if your Majesty's Service, and the Trust reposed in them by all the several Parts of the Kingdom did not necessarily require their Attendance and Continuance in the Place where they now are, and where all their Thoughts and Endeavours are wholly taken up and employed in those two great and main Works, which are the proper and genuine Ends of all Parliaments, the Advancement of their King's Service, and the Discharge of their Country's Trust.

And certainly, Sir, we can speak it with a great deal of Joy, and with no less of Truth, that never Parliament made greater Demonstrations of Zeal, Affection and Loyalty to any of the Kings of England than this Parliament hath done, and doth, and we hope, and doubt not, nay we know it, that it ever will do unto your Majesty, our Liege Lord and King. Their Hearts are filled with a Veneration of you, Longings for you, Confidence in you, and Desires to see and serve you; and their Tongues do, upon all Occasions, express it, and in so doing they are (according to the Nature of Parliaments) the true Representative of the whole Nation; for they but do that in a more contracted and regular Way, which the Generality of the People of the Land, from one End of it to the other, do in a more confused and disorderly Manner, yet as heartily and as affectionately, all Degrees, and Ages, and Sexes, high and low, rich and poor (as I may say) Men, Women, and Children, join in sending up this Prayer to Heaven, God bless King Charles! long live King Charles! So as our English Air is not susceptible of any other Sound, and echoes out nothing else; our Bells, Bonfires, Peals of Ordnance, Vollies of Shot, the Shouts and Acclamations of the People, bear no other Moral, have no other Signification but to triumph, in the Triumphs of our King in the Hearts of his People.

Your Majesty cannot imagine nor can any Man conceive it but he who was present to see and hear it, with what Joy, what Chearfulness, what lettings out of the Soul, what Expressions of transported Minds, a stupendous Concourse of People, attended the Proclaiming of your Majesty, in your Cities of London and Westminster, to be our most potent, mighty, and undoubted King: The oldest Man living never saw the like before, nor is it probable, scarce possible, that he who hath longest to live will ever see the like again, especially (and God forbid he should) upon such an Occasion, for we wish and heartily pray that your Majesty may be the last of Men of the Generation now in being, who shall leave his Place to a Successor.

We have here the Proclamation itself to present unto your Majesty and the Order of the two Houses enjoining it to be proclaimed throughout England, Ireland, and your Dominions of Wales; and, likewise, their Orders for all Ministers in their public Prayers to pray for your Majesty, and for the Illustrious Prince the Duke of York your Majesty's Brother, and for the rest of the Royal Progeny; and another Order of theirs for taking down every where the assumed Arms of the late pretended Commonwealth, and setting up the Arms of your Majesty in their stead.

[Here he tendred the Proclamation and the several Orders unto his Majesty, offered to read them, but then said, he thought that his Majesty had already received them from the Lords, and that, therefore, it would be but a Trouble to his Majesty to hear them again. To which his Majesty answering, that he had received them, was pleased further to enlarge himself in some Discourse to this effect; expressing his Sense of the Miseries which his People had suffered under those unlawful Governors which had ruled over them, and of his Gladness for their returning unto him, with those good Affections, which they now shewed towards him; adding, that he had always made it his Study, and ever would, to make them as happy as himself; which was the Sum and Substance of what his Majesty said.]

To which was reply'd, with humble Thanks for those gracious Expressions, That his Majesty would ever find both Parliament and People to be full of Loyalty and Obedience unto his Majesty; as his Majesty was of Grace and Goodness towards them. And then he went on with his Speech, relating to those Orders and Proceedings of Parliament; and said,]

These are some Testimonies of their Love and Affection unto your Majesty, such as can as yet be expressed by them, which are but as a Picture in little, of a great and large Body, which far exceeds in its true and natural Dimensions, the whole Compass of a small Piece of Cloth, on which, notwithstanding, it is drawn and represented to the Life.

And may it please your Majesty to give us leave to say, that as the Affection, so your Subjects Expectations of you are high, and their Longings after you great and vehement. And both Expectations and Longings have increased by the long Time that your Majesty hath been kept from them. Hope deferred makes the Heart sick; and the Sickness still augments till the Thing hoped for be obtained.

You who are the Light of their Eyes, and the Breath of their Nostrils, their Delight and all their Hope, to have been so long banished from them into a strange Land, it is no wonder that the News of your Return should put a new Life into them: What then will it be when their Eyes shall be blessed with the Sight of your Royal Person? And, therefore, are we commanded humbly to acquaint your Majesty with the earnest Desires of both Houses for your speedy Return unto your Parliament, and the Exercise of your Kingly Office; and that, in order to it, they have given Directions to General Montague one of the Generals at Sea, and to the other Officers at Sea, to observe such Commands, as your Majesty shall please to give them for the Disposal of the Fleet: And we have it in our Instructions further to beseech your Majesty to let your Parliament know when, and where, your Majesty purposeth to take shipping, and where to land; and after your coming on shore, whether to come all the way to London by Land, or by Water from Gravesend; and which of your Houses your Majesty intends to make use of at your coming to London; that, accordingly, Provision may be made for your Majesty's Reception: For then, and, not till then, will be the Compleating of your Subjects Rejoycing.

True it is (as your Majesty was pleased just now to touch upon it) that, in your Absence, other Lords have had Dominion over them, have reigned and ruled over their Bodies, and Estates; but their better Part, their Hearts and Minds and Souls were free, and did abhor such Rulers, and still continued faithful and loyal to your Majesty, their rightful Lord and Sovereign; and with you, and under you, they now expect to re-enter into the Possession of their antient Rights, and Privileges, to enjoy again their Laws, and Liberties: and, which is above all, their Religion in Purity, and Truth; of all which those Lords (who called themselves so, and made themselves so, that is, to be so called, but in truth were not so, for they were nothing less) those kind of Lords, I say, had so long deprived them. This is our Expectation from your Majesty and we are more than confident, we shall not be deceived in it, but that your Majesty will answer and go beyond all that can be expected from you: A King of so many Vows, and of so many Prayers, cannot but crown the Desires of his People.

Sir, to tell you what Men think, and say, and wish, and even are assured of in relation to your Majesty and the Happiness which your Government will produce, would seem a Description of the Golden Age, that Poets fancy.

Truly we dare not undertake it, in your Majesty's Presence, lest we should be thought to flatter, and should offend the sacred Modesty of your Ears, and of your princely Mind. Though it would all be but a real Truth; yet looking like that, which you do not like, we fear you would dislike it for the Look's sake; Great Princes will not be flattered, but really, and truly served, and we desire to serve your Majesty in your own Way.

Your Majesty hath been pleased to declare your Royal Intentions unto your Parliament, in your gracious Letters to either House, and the two Houses have severally given unto your Majesty a faithful Account of that grateful Sense, wherewith they have received them, and of their humble Submission unto and Compliance with, all your Majesty's Desires, which by their Letters, in answer unto your Majesty's, they make bold to signify. That from the House of Peers hath been already presented, and we who are before your Majesty, are intrusted by the House of Commons with the Delivery of theirs; an Honour not more conferred upon us beyond our Deservings, than embraced and received by us, with an Excess of Joy, and with all due Respect, which is the Errand upon which we are now come. That Letter and the Proclamation and the several Orders, together with Ourselves, our Lives and Fortunes, and the Vows and Services of those who sent us, we do with all Humbleness lay at your Majesty's Feet, lifting up our Hearts and Hands to the God of Heaven, for your Majesty's long and happy Reign over us, and speedy Return unto us.

16 May, 1660.

The Proceedings of the Parliament, with Respect to a general Pardon.

While the King was yet upon his Return, the Commons proceeded in preparing a Bill for a general Pardon, with Exception nevertheless to all the surviving Regicides, as likewise the dead Bodies of Bradshaw, Cromwell, Ireton, and Pride: Notwithstanding which, Mr. Lenthall, (perhaps he that was Speaker to the great Parliament) giving so far into the new-rais'd Spirit of Loyalty, as to say in the House, He that first drew his Sword against the late King, committed as great an Offence as he that cut off his Head; it kindled such a Flame of Resentment, that he was immediately order'd into Custody of the Serjeant at Arms, and by Order of the House, received at the Bar, the following Reprimand from the Speaker:

Mr. Lenthall reprimanded by the Speaker.

Sir, the House has taken very great Offence at some Words you have let fall upon the Debate of this Bill of Indemnity; which, in the Judgment of the House, contain as high a Reflection on the Justice and Proceedings of the Lords and Commons of the last Parliament, in their Actings before 1648, as cou'd be express'd. They apprehend there is much of Poison in the said Words; and that they were spoken out of design to inflame, and to render them, who drew the Sword to bring Delinquents to Punishment, and to vindicate their just Liberties, into Balance with them who cut off the King's Head: Of which Act they express their Abhorrence and Detestation; appealing to God, and their Consciences bearing them witness, That they had no Thoughts against his Person, much less against his Life. Therefore I am commanded to let you know, that had these Words fallen out at any other Time in this Parliament, but when they had Considerations of Mercy, Pardon and Indemnity, you might have expected a sharper and severer Sentence than I am now to pronounce. But the Disposition of his Majesty is to Mercy; he hath invited his People to accept of it; and it is the Disposition of the Body of this House to be Healers of Breaches, and to hold forth Mercy to Men of all Conditions, so far as may stand with Justice and Justification of themselves before God and Man. I am therefore commanded to let you know, That that being their Disposition, and the present Subject of this Day's Debate being Mercy, you shall therefore taste of Mercy. Yet I am, according to Command, to give you a sharp Reprehension, and I do as sharply and severely as I can, reprehend you for it.

Lord Chancellor Hyde's Speech to both Houses.

Within two Days after his Arrival, the King made his Appearance for the first time in the House of Lords, and the Commons, with their Speaker, likewise, attending, his Majesty made a short Speech, signifying the Cause of his Coming, viz. To pass the Bills prepared for him, which were of great Importance; as first, An Act for constituting the then Convention to be a Parliament. 2dly, Another to continue the Tax of 70,000 l. per Mensem, for three Months longer. And a third for Continuance of Process and all Judicial Proceedings. Which being pass'd, the Lord-Chancellor in a handsome Speech told both Houses, 'With how much Readiness his Majesty had pass'd these important Acts, and how willing they should at all times hereafter find him, to pass any other that might tend to the Advantage and Benefit of the People; in a particular Manner desiring, in his Majesty's Behalf, That the Bill of Oblivion, in which they had made so good a Progress, might be expedited: That the People might see and know his Majesty's extraordinary gracious Care to case and free them from their Doubts and Fears; and that he had not forgotten his gracious Declaration made at Breda, but that he wou'd in all Points make good the same.'

What next employ'd the House was the Act of Indemnity, the Disbanding the Army, and the settling the Public Revenues: In the first of which they thought proper to include themselves; making a Resolution in Form, 'That the House doth declare, that they do, in the Name of themselves and all the Commons of England, lay hold on his Majesty's gracious Pardon mention'd in his Declaration, with reference to the excepting of such as shall be excepted in an Act of Pardon! Which Resolution of theirs was presented to his Majesty, at the Banqueting-House in the Name of the House, by the Hand of Mr. Denzil Holles.

The King's Message, relating to the general Pardon.

Such Difficulties however occurr'd in the Act of Oblivion, and such Advantages were taken of the Delay in several Pamphlets publish'd at that Time, which insinuated, that the King's Promises at Breda, were not to be depended upon; that his Majesty thought himself obliged to quicken their Resolutions by a Message to the House, which was delivered by Secretary Morrice, to the following Effect: 'He, the King, had too ample a Manifestation of their Affections and Duty towards him, to make the least Doubt of the Continuauce and Improvement thereof, or in the least degree to dislike what they had done, or to complain of what they had left undone. He knew well the Weight of those Affairs which depended upon their Counsels, and the Time that must unavoidably be spent, where there must be naturally Difference of Opinions and Judgments amongst those, whose Desires of the Public Peace and Safety were the same. And that neither He nor They must be overmuch troubled, if they found the good Intentions and unwearied Pains, taken to reduce those good Intentions into real Acts, for the Quiet and Security of the Nation, misrepresented, and mis-interpreted, by those who are in truth much afflicted to see the public Distractions, by God's Blessing, so near an end; and by others upon whose Weakness, Fears and Jealousies, the Activity and Cunning of those ill Men hath had too great an Influence. That how wonderful and miraculous soever the great Harmony of Affections between him and his Subjects is; yet it is not to be thought that God Almighty had wrought that Miracle to that degree, that a Nation so miserably divided for so many Years, wou'd be so soon and entirely united in their Affections and Endeavours, as were to be wished; but that the evil Consciences of many continu'd so awake for Mischief, that they would not be willing to take Rest themselves, or suffer others to take it: That they all had too sad Experience of the unhappy Effects of Fears and Jealousies, how groundless and unreasonable soever, not to think it very necessary to apply all timely and proper Remedies to those Distempers, and to prevent the Inconveniences and Mischiefs which so naturally flow from thence: That he well foresaw, that the great Violation, which the Laws of the Land had for so many Years sustain'd, had fill'd the Hearts of the People with terrible Apprehensions of Insecurity to themselves, if all they had said and done shou'd be liable to be examin'd and punish'd by those Laws which had been so violated. And that nothing cou'd establish the Security of King and People, but a full Provision, that the returning to the Reverence and Obedience of the Law, which is good for All, shou'd not turn to the Ruin of any who were willing and fit to receive that Protection hereafter from the Law, and to pay that Subjection to it, which were just and necessary. And therefore he made a free Offer of a general Pardon, in such a manner as was express'd in his Declaration; and how ready and desirous he was to make good the same, appear'd by his Proclamation issu'd out upon and according to their Desire. However, it was evident, That all he had offer'd or did offer, did not enough compose the Minds of the People; nor in their Opinions could their Security be provided for, till the Act of Indemnity and Oblivion was pass'd. He told them, 'He had found great Industry used to persuade his good Subjects, that he had no mind to make good his Promises, which he desired to perform for his own sake as well as theirs. Therefore he did very earnestly recommend it to them, That all Expedition might he used in the passing that most necessary Act, whereby his good Subjects generally wou'd be satisfy'd, that their Security was in their own Hands, and depended upon their future Actions, and that they were free for all past; and so the Endeavours of ill Men wou'd be disappointed, who wou'd persuade them not to do well now, because they had done amiss heretofore. And that he was the more engag'd to this Recommendation, because upon the Reflection of their eminent Zeal and Affection for his Service, and hearty Concurrence with him in all things desired from them, Men were apt to persuade others, tho' not believing it themselves. That the passing this Act was therefore not desired, because he did not enough press the Dispatch of it; which he did desire from his Heart, and was confident they would the sooner do it, upon his earnest Recommendation.

A second Message, releasing all Arrears to the Crown.

To this succeeded a second Message to both Houses, which, as it appears, took its rise from some insinuating Advices given to his Majesty from the House of Peers, which will be best explain'd by the King's own Words, viz. His Majesty is well-inform'd of the Value of those Concessions, which are to pass in the Act of Indemnity, which relate entirely to his Majesty's Profits, and which have little or no Relation to the War: He knows well that the Arrears of the Wars, the Alienations with License, Purveyance, Respite of Homage, the Arrears of the Rents still in the hands of the Tenants, and the other Particulars; amount to a vast great Sum; all which are releas'd and discharg'd by this Act. But his Majesty is so well satisfy'd of the good Affection of the House of Commons, and of their Intentions and Resolutions to settle such a Revenue upon his Majesty, as may preserve the Crown from Want, and from being undervalu'd by its Neighbours; that he is resolv'd not to insist upon any Particular, which the House of Commons desir'd his Majesty shou'd release: and therefore as his Majesty thanks the House of Peers for the Information they have given him, and for the Care they have express'd for his Majesty's Profit, so he is well contented that that Clause shall pass in such a manner as the House of Commons have set down; and continues his earnest Desires, that all Expedition be used in passing the said Act in the manner he hath formerly express'd.'

His Majesty had not only the Thanks of the House for this obliging Message, but they immediately order'd, That Ways and Means should be consider'd for the settling such a Revenue on his Majesty, as may maintain the Splendor and Grandeur of the King's Office, &c.

After several Conferences between the two Houses, the Bill of Indemnity being at length prepar'd, as likewise certain others; as. That, for a Confirmation of judicial Proceedings; Another to pay the Arrears of the Fleet and Army, by a Poll Tax; a third to restrain Usury; and a fourth for a perpetual Thanksgiving on the 29th of May, to commemorate the Restoration; his Majesty came to the House of Peers, and from the Throne, deliver'd the following artful Speech.

The King's Speech.

'My Lords, and Gentlemen of the House of Commons,

I Have been here sometimes before with you, but never with more Willingness, than I am at this time. And there are few Men in the Kingdom have longed more im patiently to have those Bills pass'd, than I have done to pass them; and I hope they will be the Foundation of Peace and Security to us all I do very willingly pardon all that are pardon'd by this Act of Indemnity, to that Time which is mention'd in the Bill: Nay, I will tell you, That, from that Time to this Day, I will not use great Severity, except in such Cases where the Malice is notorious, and the Public Peace exceedingly concern'd. But for the Time to come, the same Diseretion and Conscience, which dispos'd me to the Clemency I have express'd (which is most agreeable to my Nature) will oblige me to all Rigour and Severity, how contrary soever it be to my Nature, towards those who shall not now acquiesee, but continue to manifest their Sedition and Dislike of the Government, either in Actions or Words. And I must conjure you all, my Lords and Gentlemen, to concur with me in this just and necessary Severity; and that you will, in your several Stations, be so jealous of the Public Peace and of my particular Honour, that you will cause exemplary Justice upon those who are guilty of seditious Speeches or Writings, as well as those who break out into sedirious Actions: And that you will believe those who delight in reproaching and traducing my Person, not to be well-affected to you and the public Peace. Never King valu'd himself more upon the Affections of his People than I do; Nor do I know a better Way to make myself sure of your Affections, than by being just and kind to you all: And, whilst I am so, I pray let the World see, that I am possess'd of your Affections. For your Poll-Bill, I thank you as much as if the Money were to come into my own Coffers; and wish with all my Heart that it may amount to as great a Sum as you reckon upon.—I pray you very earnestly, as fast as Money comes in, to discharge that great Burden of the Navy, and disband the Army as fast as you can; and till you can disband the rest, make a Provision for their Supply. I do conjure you, as you love me, let me not hear the Noise of Free Quarter, which will be imputed to my want of Care and Government, how innocent soever I am. I am so confident of your Affections, that I will not move you in any thing that immediately relates to myself: And yet I must tell you, That I am not richer, that is, I have not so much Money in my Purse, as when I came to you. The truth is, I have liv'd principally ever since upon what I brought with me, which was indeed your Money; you sent it to me, and I thank you for it. The weekly Expence of the Navy ears up all you have given me by the Bill of Tonnage and Poundage: Nor have I been able to give my Brothers one Shilling since I came into England, nor to keep any Table in my House but where I eat myself. And that which troubles me most, is, to see many of you come to me at Whitehall, and to think you must go somewhere else to seek a Dinner. I do not mention this to you, as any thing that troubles me: Do but take care of the Publick, and for what is necessary for the Peace and Quiet of the Kingdom, and take your own Time for my own Particular, which I am sure you will provide for with as much Affection and Frankness as I can desire.'

Part of the Speaker's Speech on passing the general Pardon.

At the same time the Speaker, Sir Harbottle Grimstone, haranguid his Majesty with a Speech, which, above all others, displays the new Turn that the Times had taken, as may be gather'd from the ensuing Passage, which may be call'd a Master-piece of Court-Rhetoric. 'There is another Bill intitled, an Act of Free and General Pardon, Indemnity; and Oblivion: It may well be called a free Pardon, for your Majesty was pleased to offer it before we had Confidence enough to ask it, and at a Time when your People had most need of it; and it may as truly be called a general Pardon in respect of the Extensiveness of it. But, looking over a long, black, prodigious, dismal Roll and Catalogue of Malefactors, we there met not with Men, but with Monsters, guilty of Blood, precious Blood, precious Royal Blood, never to be remember'd without Tears; incomparable in all kinds of Villanies that ever were acted by the worst of Miscreants, Perverters of Religion, Subverters of the Government, False to God, Disloyal to the best of Kings, and perfidious to their Country. And therefore we find an absolute and indispensible Necessity incumbent on us to except and set some apart for an Antidote to expel the Poison of Sin and Rebellion out of others, and that they may be made Sacrifices to appease God's Wrath, and satisfy Divine Vengeance.'

The Speaker's Speech to the King.

After this the House, having received Intimation from his Majesty, that they were to have a speedy Recess, resolved to make good Use of the Time, taking first into Consideration the disbanding the still-formidable Army, and then the settling the Revenues of the Crown; on which last Head, wisely concluding that the Misfortunes of the late King were originally owing to Want of Money, (his whole Revenue, communibus Annis, from the Year 1637 to 1641, amounting but to 895,819 l. and the present Revenue, together with the Composition for the Court of Wards, amounting to no more than 819,389 l.) they resolved to make a very considerable Addition; but, before they had brought this grand Affair to an Issue, seven or eight other Bills being ready for the Royal Assent, his Majesty came again to the House, and, on presenting the said Bills, was harangu'd by the Speaker as follows: 'Sir, your Royal Favour and Fatherly Kindness unto your People hath naturaliz'd their Affections to your Person, and their Obedience to your Precepts: And as it is their Duty, so it is their Desire to manifest and evidence the Truth and Reality thereof, by supporting and upholding that Grandeur and Splendor which is due to the Majesty of so meritorious a Prince as yourself; and therefore they have resolved, uno Flatu, and Nemine Contradicente, to make up your Majesty's constant and ordinary Revenue twelve hundred thousand Pounds per Annum. But finding, as to some Part of the Settlement of that Revenue, there will be a Necessity of making use of the Legislative Power; and that the Bills brought into the House for that purpose cannot possibly be made ready for your Royal Assent until the next Meeting of your Houses again, therefore they have taken your Majesty's present Supply into their Consideration; and first how to raise it in the most expeditious Way to answer your present Occasions. They have wrapt up their Affections to your Majesty, and the Trust reposed in them by the People, in one of these Bills here in my Hand, entitled, An Act for the speedy raising of a hundred thousand Pounds for a present Supply, to be levy'd by way of Land-Tax within the Space of one Month.— Sir, they have likewise passed another Bill with Rules and Instructions how to empower and direct your Commissioners in what manner to disband your Army and Garrisons, and to pay off some Part of your Fleet, and to begin with the Ships now in Harbour. But not knowing for certain whether the Monies upon the Poll-Bill, which is designed for that Purpose, will be sufficient to defray that Charge, and being unwilling that any Thing should be wanting on their Parts to perfect so good a Work, so acceptable to your Majesty, and so grateful to all your People, they have passed another Act for raising a hundred and forty thousand Pounds, at seventy thousand Pounds per Mensem, to begin the first of November. — Sir, there are other Bills likewise which wait and attend for your Royal Assent; one entitled, An Act for regulating the Bay Trade, which is the only Way to keep up the Credit of that which is now in some Danger to be lost: When the Credit of Trade begins to decline, the Trade itself decays with it, and is never long-liv'd after it.— Sir, there is another Bill entitled, An Act for encouraging and encreasing Shipping and Navigation; which will enable your Majesty to give Laws to foreign Princes abroad, as your Royal Predecessors have done before you—Sir, there is another Bill, entitled, An Act for restoring some Ministers to their Places, out of which they have been long and injuriously ejected and exposed, and for confirming others in vacant Places. Crazy Titles need your Majesty's Help, as much as crazy Bodies need the Help of a Physician: And what your Majesty hath already done in that kind to this Parliament, and what you are now about to do, and what you have ever express'd your Readiness in, if we could be as ready as your Majesty is to give, we hope to banish all Fears and Jealousies out of Mens Minds for the future, and teach them with much Confidence and Contentedness to rest, and wholly rely upon your Majesty's Grace and Goodness, for what may be thought further necessary to be done hereafter, when a sitting Opportunity shall be offered at the next Meeting of your Houses of Parliament.

His Majesty having then given the Royal Assent to the Bills presented to him, he thus declared himself:

The King's Speech.

'My Lords and Gentlemen,

If my Presence here had not been requisite for the passing these many Bills, I did always intend to see you together before your Adjournment, that I may again thank you for the many good Things you have done for me and the Kingdom: And in truth, I do thank you more for what you have done for the Public than what you have done for my own Particular; and yet I do thank you for that with all my heart. But I confess to you, I do thank you more for the Provision you have made to prevent Free Quarter, during the Time the Army shall be disbanding, which I take to be given for my Satisfaction, than I do for the Present you have made me for my own particular Occasions. And I do promise you, which is the best Way I can take to gratify you, I will not apply one Penny of that Money to my own particular Occasions, what Shift soever I make, 'till it is evident to me that the Public will not stand in need of it; and if it do, every Penny of it shall be disburs'd that way, and I dare say I shall not be the poorer for it. I cannot but take Notice of one particular Bill I have passed, which may seem of an extraordinary Nature [An Act for restoring the Marquess of Hertford to the Dukedom of Somerset.] But you all know it is for an extraordinary Person, who hath merited so much of the King my Father and myself as a Subject can do: And I am none of those who think, that Subjects, by performing their Duties in an extraordinary Manner, do not oblige their Princes to reward them in an extraordinary Manner. There can be no Danger from such a Precedent, and I hope no Man will envy him, because I have done what a good Master should do to such a Servant. My Lords and Gentlemen, I will not deny to you, That I had some Inclination, when I consented to your Desire for your necess, to have made a Session, which I thought most agreeable to the ancient Order of Parliaments; and I hope you will join with me in reducing of Parliaments to their ancient Rules and Orders, the Deviation from which hath done us no Good. And I think there were never so many Bills passed as I have this Day, without a Session: But upon the Desire, and Reasons given by the House of Commons, for an Adjournment, without a Session, I do very willingly part from that Inclination, and do as willingly give you Leave, and direct you to adjourn your selves to the Sixth of November, when I hope you will meet again. And in the mean time that you will be welcome to your Countries, and do much Service.'

The Substance of the Chancellor's Speech at the Adjournment.

After which his Majesty referr'd to the Lord Chancellor to speak of many other Things which he had to recommend to them, who displayed his Eloquence in a long Speech, consisting of Variety of Subjects, principally tending to the composing and healing of all former Differences. As to the Army, he told them, 'That his Majesty cou'd not take it unkindly at their hands who thought he wou'd not disband them: It was a sober and rational Jealousy; since no other Prince in Europe cou'd be willing to disband such an Army, every way so valuable, &c.' But what he alledg'd, as the greatest Felicity to a distracted Nation, was the Act of Indemnity; in which he particularly insisted upon that most charitable Clause, 'That made it penal to any Persons who within three Years should maliciously call, or object against others any Name or Words of Reproach, any ways tending to revive the Memory of the late Differences Nay farther, he let them know, 'That even evil and envious Looks, murmuring and discontented Hearts, were directly against the Equity of the Statute, and, as far as they were discover'd, shou'd be so esteemed by his Majesty.' Therefore he conjured them from the King, 'to join with him in restoring the whole Nation to its primitive Temper and Integrity, to its old Good Manners, to its old Good Humour, and to its old Good Nature: Good Nature, a Virtue so peculiar to them, so appropriated by God Almighty to this Nation, that it can be translated into no other Language, hardly practis'd by any other People.' After this he put them in mind of the necessary Severity that ought to be used towards such as shall still continue to widen the Breaches; but added, That too much Ill con'd not befall those who did the best they cou'd to corrupt his Majesty's Nature, and to extinguish his Mercy.' The whole consisted of great Variety, and was fill'd with such generous and healing Sentences, as were agreeable to the best of Kings, and best of Ministers; and concluded in these Words, 'Be but pleas'd your selves, and persuade others to be so; contrive all the Ways imaginable for your own Happiness, and you will make his Majesty the best pleased and the most happy Prince in the World.'

The Parliament adjourn'd for near two Months.

Upon finishing this Speech the King retired, and both Houses of Parliament adjourn'd themselves to the sixth Day of November, after they had sat four Months and eighteen Days, from their first Meeting, and three Months and fourteen Days from the King's Arrival; in which Time they compleated as much Business as cou'd possibly be expected in this great Exigency of Affairs.


  • 1. 50,000 l. to the King; 10,000 l. to the Duke of York; and 5000 l. to the Duke of Gloucester.
  • 2. Afterwards made Lord Holles in the same Reign, and sent Ambassador to France.
  • 3. Afterwards Earl of Shaftsbury and Lord Chancellor.
  • 4. Ladlow, and after him Oldmixen, give us to understand that Mr. Holks was interrupted in the Delivery of this Speech by Mr. H. Howard, Brother to the Earl of Arundel, who insisted that the Honour of being Spokesman belonged to another of the Commissioners; but Mr. Holles had the Spirit to proceed notwithstanding.