Hamilton's Vindication

Pages 140-142

Historical Collections of Private Passages of State: Volume 3, 1639-40. Originally published by D Browne, London, 1721.

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Hamilton's Vindication, Anno. 1638.

It will, no doubt, seem strange to see my Name in Print, standing so near these Men who are Interloculars in the succeeding Pages, their Profession and mine being of such different Natures: But I shall intreat the ingenious Reader to take Notice of the Necessity of this my doing.

I am by the three Answerers to these Demands wronged, and that by an injury of an high Nature, challeng'd in Writing to have done that, which God doth know never entred into my Thoughts; and for any thing the Answerers did, or do know, never came into my Mind. And tho' by the Law of Challenges they have challenged me, I may chuse the Weapons (which certainly should have been in another kind, had the Challengers been of another Profession) yet being Men of so holy a Function, I have thought good to make Choice of their own Weapons; and by my Pen to do out that Blot, which they by their Pen have laid upon me. And I have thought it fit to do it in a Schedule annexed to this Book (which for that Cause only I have caused to be here Reprinted) that where Mens Minds perhaps may be poysoned by swallowing an Untruth in their Answers, so deeply wounding my Honour and Loyalty; this Antidote might be ready at Hand to cure them, before they should be fully tainted with it: As likewise supposing that if they should be Printed severally, many might meet with their Answers alone, which might leave in them a bad Impression of me; if they should not be attended with this just and true Expression of mine.

The Injuries wherewith I am violated by the three Answerers, are of two Sorts: One of them strikes me alone, as his Sacred Majesty's High Commissioner. The other wounds me as his Majesty's Counsellor; and with me all of that Honourable Board. The former is this,

They deliver affirmatively, That the Declaration which they tendered me of their late Covenant, was such as I accepted, and was well pleased with. And this they set down twice for failing: In their answer to the first Demand towards the end, and in their Answer to the third Demand a little before the middle of it: And that with such confidence, as truly I cannot with any Justice, blame the Reader of believing of it, when it fell from the Pens of these Men, whose Profession is the teaching of Truth.

But I shall desire the Readers to suffer themselves (notwithstanding the Prejudice of these Mens Persons) to be undeceived by a plain Averment of Truth.

I am confident none of these three Answerers ever heard me say so, nor will they say they did. If they but heard it from others (which I do verily believe they did not, and shall do so still, till they avouch their Authors) sure no Man can chuse but miss in them that civil Prudence, which will not allow any discreet Man to affirm that of any other; much less of a Person of my Quality, and at this time in my Place; the Foundation whereof shall be so trail and slippery, as Report, which is always uncertain, and most times false.

For clearing the Truth, I do aver upon my Honour that I never said so, I never thought so, And thought that that Declaration was much bettered by the industry of some well-affected (from what was first intended) yet it gave me not Satisfaction: And I dare boldly affirm, I never said it would give my Master the King's Majesty any. My Justifiers in this shall be these Noblemen, Gentlemen, and others to whom I ever spoke, either publickly, or in private. I was indeed content to catch at any thing I could, when I could not obtain what I would. As being willing to do my Country-men that respect, as to the utmost of my Power to recommend to my gracious Master, with all favourable Construction, even that which I then thought, and did know fell short of just and home Satisfaction. (fn. 1) And here, I do confess, I cannot charge it for a faulty Mistake upon the Readers of these Asseverations of the three Answerers, if they should before this my Declaration, conceive that his Majesty were in all probability like to rest satisfied with that Declaration of the Covenant; having it delivered to them from Men whom they have in all this Business believed as much as themselves, that his Majesty's Commissioner, who in all likelihood did know his Majesty's Mind best, did rest satisfied with it.

But his Majesty hath just Reason to charge me, if these Asservations were true; as I have good Reason to vindicate my self, they being not true. The truth is, if these Asservations be true I do profess to the whole World that his Majesty hath a most just Cause to discharge himself of me, and my Service, and to discharge me of all Trust in this or any other Negotiation. For I prosess, that I knowing his Majesty's constant mislike of the said Covenant, it must bewray in me, either breach of Trust, of want of Judgment; If I should go about to make either my self, or the World believe, that my Master could receive Satisfaction by such an explanation.

And here I cannot dissemble, but most ask leave to vent my self thus far. Had these Wrongs been put upon me by the Pens of other Men, and not of those whose Professions I am forward and willing to believe (because I would have it so) will not suffer them to embrace wilful and malicious Designs, I should justly have doubted, that there had been some Men in this Kingdom, who being afraid of a settling and peaceable Conclusion of this Business, had gone about to raise in my Royal and Gracious Master a jealousy of my slackness in my King and Country's Service, that so I might be called back, re infecta.

If any such Enemies there be to the Peace of this miserable distracted Church and State, I beseech God in time to discover them, and that all may end in covering them with Shame and Confusion. The Sum of all I will say of this personal Wrong offered to my self is this: If these reverend and learned Gentlemen, the Answerers, in these untrue Aspersions intended any harm to me, I shall only now requite them with a cast of their own Calling, I pray God forgive them. If they intended me no harm, then I do expect that they will give my self and the World Satisfaction in clearing me that I gave them no Ground for these their Asseverations. And so being confident of his Majesty's Goodness to all his Ministers; among the rest, to the meanest of them, my self, especially in this particular, that he will never be shaken in the Opinion of my loyal and constant Service, upon such slight, light, and groundless Reports, I will say no more of that first Point.

For that which concerneth my self as a Counsellor, and the rest of that Honourable Board, averred by the three Answerers in their Answers to the third and fourteenth Demand, I do here protest before Almighty God, that none of the Allegations alleged by the three Answerers, or any Petition given me by the Supplicants, moved me to give way that the Order of the Council Table should not pass into an Act: For I did then and do now avow, that I then was, now am, fully satisfied with his Majesty's most gracious Declaration; and that in my Opinion all ought to have thought themselves sufficiently freed from Fears of Innovations. But the true Reason was this, I was so tenderly affectioned towards the Peace of my Country, that I gave way to that, which many of honourable Quality assured me, if it were not done, a present rupture might follow, and so consequently the ruine of this Kingdom; which I was resolved to keep off so long as possibly I could retaining my sidelity to my Master. Which care of mine I find but slenderly requited, when it is made an argument to perswade his Majesty's good Subjects to do that which is so displeasing to him, and so unsafe for them. And yet even in this passage, it would have been expected from Men of that Profession, that nothing should have passed but undoubted Truth. In which point too they have failed either as I hope by a Mistaking of or a Mis-informing. For the Missive once thought fit to be sent to his Majesty was never rent, but remaineth yet as it was: And we did not send it, because we did not think, thanks to his Majesty would be seasonable in the name of the whole Kingdom, when we knew his Majesty, by the last proceedings of many, and Protestations made against his Royal Declaration (pretended in the Name of the whole Country) could not receive Satisfaction.

To Conclude, notwithstanding this Personal wrong offered to me his Majesty's High Commissioner, I will carefully, chearfully, and constantly go on with this great business, wherewith he hath intrusted me. Which as I pray God it may prosper under my hands, so I praise God that he hath given me so chearful and willing a heart to go on in it: That if my Life could procure the Peace of this Torn Church and Kingdom to the contentment of my Royal Master, and comfort of his Distracted Subjects; he who knoweth all things, knoweth likewise this truth: It is the sacrifice of the World, in which I would most glory, and which I would most sincerely offer up to God, my King and Country.


  • 1. Nor is there any ground fro their opinion of my acceptation of that declaration, unless they call receiving, accepting; and that was not in my power to refuse it being conceived in formal words of a supplication and so tendered to me, who by my Royal Master his instructions was commanded to receive the Petitions of all his good and loyal subjects.