Oliver Cromwell.

Oliver Cromwell's letters and speeches : with elucidations (Volume 5) online

. (page 6 of 26)
Online LibraryOliver CromwellOliver Cromwell's letters and speeches : with elucidations (Volume 5) → online text (page 6 of 26)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

God or Good Manners ; 58 and they return with all the licen-
tiousness of that Nation. Neither care taken to educate
them before they go, nor to keep them in good order when
they come home ! Indeed, this makes the Nation not only
commit those abominable things, most inhuman things, but
hardens men to justify those things; as the Apostle saith,
" Not only to do wickedly themselves, but to take pleasure
" in them that do so." And truly, if something be not done
in this kind, ' in the way of reforming public morals,' with-
out sparing that condition of men, without sparing men's
sons, though they be Noblemen's sons ! [Sentence breaks
down\ Let them be who they may that are deboist, it is
for the glory of God that nothing of outward consideration
should save them in their debauchery from a just punish-

57 The course taken with them, the quantity of coercion they needed, and of com-
plaint made thereupon, are all loosely included in this "It."
f8 Morals.

i6 5 7. SPEECH XIII. 59

ment and reformation ! And truly I must needs say it, I
would much bless God to see something done in that matter
heartily, not only as to those persons mentioned, but to all
the Nation; that some course might be taken for Reforma-
tion ; that there might be some stop put to such a current of
wickedness and evil as this is ! And truly, to do it heartily,
and nobly and worthily! The Nobility of this Nation, they
especially, and the Gentry, would have cause to bless you.
And likewise that some care might be taken that those good
Laws already made for punishing of vice might be put in

This I must needs say of our Major-Generals who did
that service: I think it was an excellent good thing; I
profess I do! [ Yes ; though there were great outcries about //.]
And I hope you will not think it unworthy of you ' to con-
sider,' that though we may have good Laws against the
common Country disorders that are everywhere, yet Who is
to execute them 'now, the Major-Generals being off'? Really
a Justice of the Peace, he shall by the most be wondered
at as an owl, if he go but one step out of the ordinary
course of his fellow Justices in the reformation of these
things ! [ Cannot do it; not hel\ And therefore I hope I may
represent this to you as a thing worthy your consideration,
that something may be found out to repress such evils. I
am persuaded you would glorify God by this as much as by
any one thing you could do. And therefore I hope you will
pardon me.

[His Highness looks to the Paper again, after this Digres-
sion. Article Fifteenth in his Highness's copy of the Paper, as
we understand, must have provided, ' That no part of the Pub-
lic Revenue be alienated except by consent of Parliament :' but
his Highness having thus remonstrated against it, the Article
is suppressed, expunged ; and we only gather by this passage
that such a thing had ever been,]


I cannot tell, in this Article that I am now to speak
unto, whether I speak to anything or nothing! There is a
desire that 'no part of "the Public Revenue be alienated
except by consent of Parliament." I doubt "Public Re-
venue" is like " Custodes Libertatis Anglice;"" a notion only;
and not to be found that I know of! \Jt is all alienated;
Crown Lands &=c. are all gone, long ago. A beautiful dream
of our youth, as the "Keepers of the LIBERTY of England" were
a thing you could nowhere lay hands on, that I know of!\
But if there be any, and if God bless us in our Settlement,
there will be Public Revenue accruing, the point is, Whe-
ther you will subject this to any alienation without consent
of Parliament ?

[We withdraw the question altogether, your Highness : when
once the chickens are hatched, we will speak of selling them !
Let us now read Article Sixteenth :

'Article Sixteenth,' in his Highness's copy of the Paper,
' provides that no Act or Ordinance already extant, which is
' not contraiy to this Petition and Advice, shall be in the least
' made void hereby.' His Highness, as we shall see, considers
this as too indefinite, too indistinct ; a somewhat vague founda-
tion for Church-Land Estates (for example), which men pur-
chased with money, but hold only in virtue of Writs and Ordin-
ances issued by the Long Parliament. A new Article is ac-
cordingly added, in our Perfect-copy ; specifying, at due breadth,
with some hundreds of Law - vocables, that all is and shall
be safe, according to the common sense of mankind, in that

Truly this thing that I have now farther to offer you,
it is the last in this Paper; it is the thing mentioned in the
Sixteenth Article: That you would have those Acts and
Ordinances which have been made since the late Troubles,
and during the time of them, 'kept unabrogated;' that they
should, if they be not contrary to this Advice, 59 that they
should remain in force, in such manner as if this Advice had

59 Petition and Advice ; but we politely suppress the former part of the name;

i6 57 . SPEECH XIII. 61

wot been given. Why, what is doubted is, Whether or no
this will be sufficient to keep things in a settled condition? 60
Because it is but an implication 'that you here make;' it is
not determined. You do pass-by the thing, without such a
foundation as will keep those people, who are now in pos-
session of Estates upon this account, that their titles be not
questioned or shaken, if the matter be not explained. Truly
I believe you intend very fully in regard to this ' of keeping
men safe who have purchased on that footing.' If the words
already 'used' do not suffice That I submit to your own

But there is in this another very great consideration.
There have been, since the present Government 'began,'
several Acts and Ordinances, which have been made by the
exercise of that Legislative Power that was exercised since
we undertook this Government \Very cumbrous phraseology,
your Highness; for indeed the subject is somewhat cumbrous.
Questionable, to some, whether one CAN make Acts and Ordi-
nances by a mere Council and Protector /]: And I think your
Instrument speaks a little more faintly 'as' to these, and
dubiously, than to the other! And truly, I will not make an
apology for anything : but surely two persons, two sorts of
them, ' very extensive sorts,' will be merely concerned upon
this account : They who exercised that authority, and they
who were objects of its exercise ! This wholly dissettles
them; wholly, if you be not clear in your expressions. It
will dissettle us very much to think that the Parliament doth
not approve well of what hath been done 'by us' upon a
true ground of necessity, in so far as the same hath saved
this Nation from running into total arbitrariness. ' Nay, if
not,' why subject the Nation to a sort of men who perhaps
would do so? 61 We think we have in that thing deserved

60 It was long debated : see Burton.

61 Why subject the Nation to us, who perhaps would drive it into arbitrariness,
as your non-approval of us seems to insinuate ?


well of the State. \Do not " dissettle" his Highness.' He has,
" in that thing" of assuming the Government and passing what
Ordinances &>c. were indispensable, "deserved well." Com-
mittee of Ninety-nine agree to what is reasonable^

If any man will ask me, " But ah, Sir, what have you
done sincef Why, ah, as I will confess my fault where I
am guilty, so I think, taking things as they ' then' were, I
think we have done the Commonwealth service ! We have
therein made great settlements, that have we. We have
settled almost all the whole affairs in Ireland; the rights and
interests of the Soldiers there, and of the Planters and Ad-
venturers. And truly we have settled very much of the
business of the Ministry [" Triers^ diligent here, " Expur-
gators" diligent everywhere; much good work completed^; and
I wish that be not an aggravation of our fault ; 62 I wish it
be not ! But I must needs say, If I have anything to re-
joice in before the Lord in this world, as having done any
good or service, ' it is this.' I can say it from my heart ;
and I know I say the truth, let any man say what he will to
the contrary, he will give me leave to enjoy my own opinion
in it, and my own conscience and heart ; and ' to' dare bear
my testimony to it : There hath not been such a service to
England since the Christian Religion was perfect in Eng-
land ! I dare be bold to say it ; however there may have,
here and there, been passion and mistakes. And the
Ministers themselves, take the generality of them [" are-
" unexceptionable, nay exemplary as Triers and as Expurga-
" tors:" but his Highness, blazing up at touch of this tender
topic, wants to utter three or four things at once, and his
''elements of rhetoric" jiy into the ELEMENTAL state! We per-
ceive he has got much blame for his Two Church Commis-
sions; and feds that he has deserved far the reverse.'} They

63 ' bo not to secure the grave men' (Scott's Sowers, p, 399) is unadulterated non*
cnaa : for grave men road gravamen, and wo have dubiously a sense a* abovo ; "w
frVMWfl of our fault with such objector*."

i6 S7 . SPEECH XIII. 63

will tell ' you,' it is beside their instructions, ' if they have
' fallen into " passion and mistakes," if they have meddled
* with civil matters, in their operations as Triers !' And we
did adopt the thing upon that account ; we did not trust
upon doing what we did virtute Instituti, as if ' these Triers
were' jure divino, but as a civil good. But \Checks himself ~\
So we end in this : We ' knew not and' know not better
how to keep the Ministry good, and to augment it in good-
ness, than by putting such men to be Triers. Men of known
integrity and piety ; orthodox men and faithful. We knew
not how better to answer our duty to God and the Nation
and the People of God, in that respect, than by doing what
we did.

And, I dare say, if the grounds upon which we went will
not justify us, the issue and event of it doth abundantly
justify us; God having had exceeding glory by it, in the
generality of it, I am confident, forty-fold ! For as hereto-
fore the men that were admitted into the Ministry in times
of Episcopacy alas what pitiful Certificates served to make
a man a Minister! [Forty -fold better nowl\ If any man
could understand Latin and Greek, he was sure to be ad-
mitted ; as if he spake Welsh ; which in those days went
for Hebrew with a good many ! [Satirical. " They studied
" Pan, Bacchus, and the Longs a 'id Shorts, rather than tJieir
" Hebrew Bible and the Truths oj 'the Living Jehovah /"] Cer-
tainly the poorest thing in the world would serve a turn ;
and a man was admitted upon such an account [As this of
mere Latin and Greek, with a suspicion of Welsh-Hebrew] ;
ay, and upon a less. I am sure the admission granted to
such places since has been under this character as the rule :
That they must not admit a man unless they were able to
discern something of the Grace of God in him. \RcaIly it is
the grand primary essential, your Highness, Without which,
i Bacchus, Welsh-Hebreu^ nay Hebreu* itse^ must go for


nothing, nay for less, if zve consider well. In some points of
ineiv, it is horrible.''] ' Grace of God :' which was to be so
inquired for, as not foolishly nor senselessly, but so far as
men could judge according to the rules of Charity. Such
and such a man, of whose good life and conversation they
could have a very good testimony from four or five of the
neighbouring Ministers who knew him, he could not yet
be admitted unless he could give a very good testimony of
the Grace of God in him. And to this I say, I must speak
my conscience in it, 63 though a great many are angry at it,
nay if all are angry at it, for how shall you please every-

Then say some, None must be admitted except, per-
haps, he will be baptised 'again.' That is their opinion.
[Anabaptists.'] They will not admit a man into a Congrega-
tion to be Minister, except he commence by being so much
less. The Presbyterians 'again,' they will not admit him
unless he be "ordained." Generally they will not go to the
Independents : truly I think, if I be not partial, I think if
there be a freedom of judgment, it is there. [ With the In-
dependents: that is your Highness* s opinion^ Here are Three
sorts of Godly Men whom you are to take care for 5 whom
you have provided for in your Settlement. And how could
you put the selection upon the Presbyterians without, by
possibility, excluding all those Anabaptists, all those Inde-
pendents ! And so now you have put it into this way, That
though a man be of any of those three judgments, if he have
the root of the matter in him, he may be admitted. [ Very
good, your Highness !\ This hath been our care and work ;
both by some Ordinances of ours, laying the foundations of
it, and by many hundreds of Ministers being 'admitted' in
upon it. And if this be a " time of Settlement," then I hope
it is not a time of shaking ; and therefore I hope you will

63 " I do approve it" is modestly left out.


be pleased to settle this business too : and that you will
neither " shake" the Persons [ Us] who have been poorly in-
strumental in calling you to this opportunity of settling this
Nation, and of doing good to it ; nor shake those honeet
men's interests who have been thus settled. And so I have
done with the offers to you, ' with these my suggestions to

[His Highness looks now on the Paper again ; looks a:
Article Seventh there, ' That the Revenue shall be i,3OO,ooo/.;'
and also at a Note by himself of the Current Expenses ;
much wondering at the contrast of the two ; not having Arith-
metic enough to reconcile them !]

But here is somewhat that is indeed exceedingly past my
understanding ; for I have as little skill in Arithmetic as I
have in Law ! These are great sums ; it is well if I can
count them to you. [Looking on his Notel\ The present
charge of the Forces both by Sea and Land will be
2,426,9897. The whole present revenue in England, Scot-
land and Ireland, is about i,9oo,ooo/. ; I think this was
reckoned the most, as the Revenue now stands. Why, now,
towards this you settle, by your Instrument, 1,300,0007. for
the Government ; and out of that " to maintain the Force
by Sea and Land," and " without Land-tax," I think : and
this is short of the Revenue which now can be raised by the
' present Act of Government 6oo,ooo/. ! [A grave discrep-
ancy 7] Because, you see, the present Government has
i,9oo,ooo/. ; and the whole sum which can be raised comes
'short' of the present charge by 542,6897., [So his High-
ness says; but, by the above data, must be'mistaken or mis-
reported: 526,9897. is what "Arithmetic" gives.] And al-
though an end should be put to the Spanish War, yet there
will be a necessity, for preserving the peace of the Three
Nations, to keep up the present established Army in Eng-
land, Scotland and Ireland; also a considerable Fleet for

VOL. v. F


some good time, until it shall please God to quiet and com-
pose men's minds, and bring the Nation to some better con-
sistency. So that, considering the Pay of the Army, which
comes to upwards of i,ioo,ooo/. per annum, and the "Sup-
port of the Government" 300,0007., it will be necessary for
some convenient time, seeing you find things as you do,
and it is not good to think a wound healed before it be,
that there be raised, over and above the 1,300,0007., the
sum of 600, ooo/. per annum; which makes up the sum of
i,9oo,ooo/. And likewise that the Parliament declare, How
far they will carry on the Spanish War, and for what time;
and what farther sum they will raise for carrying on the
same, and for what time. [Explicit, and undeniable /] And if
these things be not ascertained, as one saith " Money is the
Cause," and certainly whatever the Cause is, if Money be
wanting, the business will fall to the ground, all our labour
will be lost. And therefore I hope you will have a care of
our undertakings ! \Most practical paragraph^

And having received expressions from you which we
may believe, we need not offer these things to you ; ' we
need not doubt' but these things will be cared for. Those
things have ' already in Parliament' been made overture of
to you; and are before you: and so has likewise the con-
sideration of the Debts, which truly I think are apparent.

And so I have done with what I had to offer you, I
think I have, truly, for my part. ^Nothing of the Kingship,
your Highness ?" Committee of Ninety-nine looks expectani\ -
And when I shall understand where it lies on me to do
farther; and when I shall understand your pleasure in these
things a little farther ; we have answered the Order of Par-
liament in considering and debating of those things that
were the subjecUuatter of debate and consideration ;~^-and
when you will be pleased to Jet me .hear farther of your
thoughts in theitt things, tkw I suppose | shall b$ in 4 con..

i6 S7 . SPEECH XIII. 67

dition to discharge myself [ Throws no additional light on the
Kingship at #///], as God shall put in my mind. And I
speak not this to evade ; but I speak in the fear and rever-
ence of God. And I shall plainly and clearly, I say, when
you shall have been pleased among yourselves to take con-
sideration of these things, that I may hear what your
thoughts are of them, I do not say that as a condition to
anything but I shall then be free and honest and plain to
discharge myself of what, in the whole and upon the whole,
may reasonably be expected from me, and ' what' God shall
set me free to answer you in.*

Exeunt the Ninety-nine, much disappointed ; the Moderns
too look very weary. Courage, my friends, I now see land !

This Speech forms by far the ugliest job of biickwashing (as
Voltaire calls it) that his Highness has yet given us. As printed
in the last edition of Somers, it is perhaps the most unadulter-
ated piece of coagulated nonsense that was ever put into types
by human kind. Yet, in order to educe some sense out of it
as above, singularly few alterations, except in the punctuation,
have been required ; no change that we could detect has been
made in the style of dialect, which is physiognomic and ought
to be preserved ; in the meaning, as before, all change was
rigorously forbidden. In only one or two places, duly indicated,
did his Highness's sense, on earnest repeated reading, continue
dubious. And now the horrid buckbasket is reduced in some
measure to clean linen or huckaback: thanks be to Heaven!

For the next ten days there is nothing heard from his High-
ness ; much as must have been thought by him in that space.
The Parliament is occupied incessantly considering how it may
as far as possible fulfil the suggestions offered in this Speech
of his Highness ; assiduously perfecting and new-polishing the
Petition and Advice according to the same. Getting Bills ready
for ' Reformation of Manners," with an eye on the ' idle fellows
about Piccadilly,' who go bowling and gambling, with much
tippling too, about ' Piccadilly House' and its green spaces. 6 *

* Somers Tracts, v'\. 399-400.

w Dryasdust knows a little piece of Archaeology: How 'piccadillie' (finist
Spanish pfcadiliis, or little-sins, a kind of notched linen-tippet) used to \>c sold i*
* certain shop there ; whence &c. &c.


Scheming out how the Revenue can be raised : ' Land-tax,'
alas, in spite of former protest on that subject ; ' tax on new
buildings' (Lincoln's Inn Fields for one place), which gives
the public some trouble afterwards. Doing somewhat also in
regard to ' Triers for the Ministry ;' to ' Penalties' for taking
Office when disqualified by Law ; and very much debating and
scrupling as to what Acts and Ordinances (of his Highness and
Council) are to be confirmed.

Finally, however, on Friday ist of May, the Petition and
Advice is again all ready ; and the Committee of Ninety-nine
wait upon his Highness with it, 65 who answers briefly, ' speak-
ing very low,' That the things are weighty, and will require
meditation ; that he cannot just at present say On what day he
will meet them to give his final answer, but will so soon as
possible appoint a day.

So that the Kingship remains yet a great mystery ! ' By
the generality' it is understood that he will accept it. But to
the generality, and to us, the interior consultations and slow-
formed resolutions of his Highness remain and must remain
entirely obscure. We can well believe with Ludlow, sulkily
breathing the air in Essex, who is incorrect as to various de-
tails, That in general a portion of the Army were found averse
to the Title ; a more considerable portion than the Title was
worth. Whereupon, 'for the present,' as Bulstrode indicates,
1 his Highness did decide to' in fact speak as follows :


BANQUETING-HOUSE, Whitehall, Friday forenoon 8th May
1657, the Parliament in a body once more attends his High-
ness ; receives at length a final Answer as to this immense
matter of the Kingship. Which the reader shall now hear, and
so have done with it.

The Whitlocke Committee of Ninety-nine had, by appoint-
ment, waited on his Highness yesterday, Thursday May 7th ;
gave him ' a Paper/ some farther last-touches added to their
ultimate painfully-revised edition of the Petition and Advice,
wherein all his Highness's suggestions are now, as much as

65 Burton, ii. 101.

i6 37 . SPEECH XIV. 69

possible, fulfilled ; and were in hopes to get some intimation
of his Highness's final Answer then. Highness, " sorry to have
" kept them so long," requested they would come back next
morning. Next morning, Friday morning : " We have been
" there ; his Highness will see you all in the Banqueting-House
" even now." 66 Let us shoulder our Mace, then, and go.
' Petition of certain Officers,' that Petition which Ludlow 67 in
a vague erroneous manner represents to have been the turning-
point of the business, is just ' at the door :' we receive it, leave
it on the table, and go. And now hear his Highness.


I come hither to answer That that
was in your last Paper to your Committee you sent to me
* yesterday ;' which was in relation to the Desires that were
offered me by the House in That they called their Petition.

I confess, that Business hath put the House, the Parlia-
ment, to a great deal of trouble, and spent much time. 68 I
am very sorry for that. It hath cost me some ' too,' and
some thoughts : and because I have been the unhappy occa-
sion of the expense of so much time, I shall spend little oi
it now.

I have, the best I can, revolved the whole Business in
my thoughts : and I have said so much already in testimony
to the whole, I think I shall not need to repeat what I have
said. I think it is an ' Act of Government which, in the
aims of it, seeks the Settling of the Nation on a good foot,
in relation to Civil Rights and Liberties, which are the
Rights of the Nation. And I hope I shall never be found
one of them that go about to rob the Nation of those
Rights; but 'always' to serve it what I can to the attaining
of them. It has also been exceedingly well provided there
for the safety and security of honest men in that great

66 Report by Whitlocke and Committee: in Commons "Journals (8th May 1657),
viii. 531.

67 iL 588, &c., the vague passage always cited on this occasion.
M a^d Feb. 8th May: ten weeks and more.


natural and religious liberty, which is Liberty of Conscience.
These are the great Fundamentals ; and I must bear my
testimony to them ; as I have done, and shall do still, so
long as God lets me live in this world : That the intentions
and the things are very honourable and honest, and the
product worthy of a Parliament.

I have only had the unhappiness, both in my Conferences
with your Committees, and in the best thoughts I could
take to myself, not to be convinced of the necessity of that
thing which hath been so often insisted on by you, to wit,
the Title of King, as in itself so necessary as it seems to
be apprehended by you. And yet I do, with all honour
and respect, testify that, ctzteris parities, no private judg-
ment is to be in the balance with the judgment of Parlia-
ment. But in things that respect particular persons, every
man who is to give an account to God of his actions, he
must in some measure be able to prove his own work, and
to have an approbation in his own conscience of that which
he is to do or to forbear. And whilst you are granting others

Online LibraryOliver CromwellOliver Cromwell's letters and speeches : with elucidations (Volume 5) → online text (page 6 of 26)