Lieutenant-General Cromwell: That the meeting was for public businesses; those that had anything to say concerning the public business, they might have liberty to speak.(The answer of the Agitators read. -- Followed by blank in manuscript. The substance of the answer is probably contained in Two Letters from the Agents of the Five Regiments of Horse (28th October) and in the letters appended to the Agreement of the People (3rd November.)
Mr. Edward Sexby: Mr. Allen, Mr. Lockyer, and myself are three. They have sent two soldiers, one of your own regiment and one of Colonel Whalley's, with two other gentlemen, Mr. Wildman and Mr. Petty.
Commissary-General Ireton said: That he had not the paper of what was done upon all of the matters discussed. It was referred to the committee, that they should consider of the paper that was printed, The Case of the Army Stated (The committee referred to is one appointed at a meeting of the General Council of the Army on 22nd Oct.), and to examine the particulars in it, and to represent and offer something to this Council about it. They are likewise appointed to send for those persons concerned in the paper. The committee met, according to appointment, that night. It was only then resolved on, that there should be some sent in a friendly way (not by command or summons) to invite some of those gentlemen to come in with us, I think.
Sexby: I was desired by the Lieutenant-General to know the bottom of their desires. They gave us this answer, that they would willingly draw them up and represent them unto you. They are come at this time to tender them to your considerations, with their resolutions to maintain them.
We have been by Providence put upon strange things, such as the ancientest here doth scarce remember. The Army acting to these ends, Providence hath been with us, and yet we have found little fruit of our endeavours. The kingdom and Army calls for expedition. And really I think all here, both great and small, both officers and soldiers, we may say we have leaned on, and gone to Egypt for help. The kingdom's cause requires expedition, and truly our miseries (with our fellow soldiers') cry out for present help. I think, at this time, this is your business, and I think it is in all your hearts to relieve the one and satisfy the other. You resolved if anything reasonable should be pro- pounded to you, you would join and go along with us.
The cause of our misery is upon two things. We sought to satisfy all men, and it was well; but in going about to do it we have dissatisfied all men. We have laboured to please a king and I think, except we go about to cut all our throats, we shall not please him; and we have gone to support an house which will prove rotten studs -- I mean the Parliament, which consists of a company of rotten members.
And therefore we beseech you that you will take these things into your consideration.
I shall speak to the Lieutenant-General and Commissary-General concerning one thing. Your credits and reputation have been much blasted, upon these two considerations. The one is for seeking to settle this kingdom in such a way wherein we thought to have satisfied all men, and we have dissatisfied them -- I mean in relation to the King. The other is in reference to a Parliamentary authority, which most here would lose their lives for -- to see those powers to which we will subject ourselves, loyally called. These two things are, as I think conscientiously, the cause of all those blemishes that have been cast upon either the one or the other. You are convinced God will have you to act on. But only consider how you shall act, and take those ways that will secure you and the whole kingdom. I desire you will consider those things that shall be offered to you; and, if you see anything of reason, you will join with us, that the kingdom. may be eased and our fellow soldiers may be quieted in spirit. These things I have represented as my thoughts. I desire your pardon.
Cromwell: I think it is good for us to proceed to our business in some order, and that will be if we consider some things that are lately past. There hath been a book printed, called The Case of the Army Stated, and that hath been taken into consideration and there hath been somewhat drawn up by way of exception to things contained in that book. And I suppose there was an answer brought to that which was taken by way of exception, and yesterday the gentleman that brought the answer, he was dealing honestly and plainly withal, and he was told that there were new designs adriving, and nothing would be a clearer discovery of the sincerity of their intentions than their willingness, that were active, to bring what they had to say to be judged of by the General Officers and by this General Council, that we might discern what the intentions were. Now it seems there be divers that are come hither to manifest those intentions, according to what was offered yesterday; and truly I think that the best way of our proceeding will be to receive what they have to offer. Only this, Mr. Sexby, you were speaking to us two -- I know not why, except you think that we have done somewhat, or acted somewhat, different from the sense and resolution of the General Council. Truly, that that you speak to, was the things that related to the King and things that related to the Parliament; and if there be a fault, I may say it (and I dare say), it hath been the fault of the General Council, and that which you do speak you speak to the General Council, I hope, though you name us two, both in relation to the one and to the other. Therefore truly I think it sufficient for us to say, and 'tis that we say -- I can speak for myself, let others speak for themselves -- I dare maintain it and I dare avow I have acted nothing but what I have done with the public consent and approbation and allowance of the General Council. That I dare say for myself, both in relation to the one and to the other. What I have acted in Parliament in the name of the Council or of the Army, I have had my warrant for it from hence. What I have spoken in another capacity, as a member of the House, that was free for me to do; and I am confident that I have not used the name of the Army, or interest of the Army to anything but what I have had allowance from the General Council for, and what they thought it fit to move the House in. I do the rather give you this account, because I hear there are some slanderous reports going up and down upon somewhat that hath been offered to the House of Commons by me as being the sense and opinion of this Army, and in the name of this Army, which (I dare be confident to speak it) hath been as false and slanderous a report as could be raised of a man. And that was this: that I should say to the Parliament, and deliver it as the desire of this Army, and the sense of this Army, that there should be a second address to the King by way of propositions. I dare be confident to speak it. What I delivered there I delivered as my own sense, and what I delivered as my own sense I am not ashamed of. What I delivered as your sense, I never delivered but what I had as your sense.
Colonel Thomas Rainborough: For this the Lieutenant-General was pleased to speak of last, it was moved that day the propositions were brought in. That day it was carried for making a second address to the King, it was when both the Lieutenant-General and myself were last here; and when we broke off here, and when we came upon the bill, it was told us that the House had carried it for a second address. And therefore the Lieutenant-General must needs be clear of it. But it was urged in the House that it was the sense of the Army that it should be so.
Ireton: I desire not to speak of these things, but only to put things into an orderly way, which would lead to what the occasion is that hath brought these gentlemen hither that are now called in. Yet I cannot but speak a word to that that was last touched upon. If I had told any man so (which I know I did not), if I did, I did tell him what I thought. And if I thought otherwise of the Army, I protest I should have been ashamed of the Army and detested it; that is, if I had thought the Army had been of that mind that they would let those propositions sent from both kingdoms be the things which should be final whether for peace or no, without any further offers; and when I do find it, I shall be ashamed on 't, and detest any days' condescension with it. And yet for that which, Mr. Sexby tells us, hath been one of the great businesses cast upon the Lieutenant-General and myself, I do detest and defy the thought of that thing, of any endeavour or design or purpose or desire to set up the King; and I think I have demonstrated it, and I hope I shall do still, that it is the interest of the kingdom that I have suffered for. And as for the Parliament, too, I think those that know the beginnings of these principles that we set forth in our declarations of late for clearing and vindicating the liberties of the people, even in relation to Parliament, will have reason to acquit me. And whoever do know how we were led to the declaring of that point, as we have done, as one fundamental, will be able to acquit me that I have been far from a design of setting up the persons of these men, or of any men whatsoever, to be our law-makers. And so likewise for the King: though I am clear, as from the other, from setting up the person of one or other, yet I shall declare it again that I do not seek, or would not seek, nor will join with them that do seek, the destruction either of Parliament or King. Neither will I consent with those, or concur with them, who will not attempt all the ways that are possible to preserve both, and to make good use, and the best use that can be, of both for the kingdom. And I did not hear anything from that gentle- man (Mr. Sexbv) that could induce or incline me to abandon that resolution. To that point I stand clear, as I have expressed. But I shall not speak any more concerning myself.
'The committee met at my lodgings as soon as they parted from hence. And the first thing they resolved was this . On hearing there was a meeting of the Agitators, though it was thought fit by the General Council here that they should be sent for to the regiments, yet it was thought fit by the committee to let them know what the General Council had done, and to go on in a way that might tend to unity; and this being resolved on, we were desired by one of those gentlemen that were desired to go, that lest they should mistake the matter they went about, it might be drawn in writing, and this is it:
That the General Council, &c.
This is the substance of what was delivered. Mr. Allen, Mr. Lockyer, and Mr. Sexby were sent with it, and I think it is fit that the Council should be acquainted with the answer.
Mr. William Allen: As to the answer, it was short -- truly I shall give it as short. We gave them the paper, and read it amongst them, and to my best remembrance they then told us that they were not all come together whom it did concern, and so were not in a capacity at the present to return us an answer, but that they would take it into consideration, and would send it as speedily as might be. I think it was near their sense.
Ireton: Whereas it was appointed by the Council, and we of the committee did accordingly desire, that these gentlemen, being members of the Army and engaged with the Army, might have come to communicate with the General Council of the Army and those that were appointed by them for a mutual satisfaction: by this paper they seem to be of a fixed resolution -- setting themselves to be a divided party or distinct council from the General Council of the Army -- that there was nothing to be done as single persons to declare their dissatisfaction, or the grounds for informing themselves better or us better, but that they would speak as all the rest should concur, so that they seemed to hold together as a formed and settled party, distinct and divided from others; and withal they seemed to set down these resolutions as things to which they expect the compliance of others, rather than their compliance with others to give satisfaction.(The answer of the Agitators, the second time read. No blank follows in manuscript. This suggests that the answer read was the same as that read before, for which a blank was left. But the course of the debate suggests that what was here read was not an apology, but a set of proposals, probably those printed on 3rd and 4th November, as An Agreement of the People).
But it seems, upon something that the Lieutenant-General and some others of that committee did think fit to offer, the gentlemen that brought that paper have been since induced to descend a little from the height, and to send some of them to come as agents particularly, or messengers from that meeting or from that council, to hear what we have to say to them, or to offer something to us relating to the matters in that paper. I believe there are gentlemen sent with them, that (though perhaps the persons of them that are members of the Army may give the passages in) they may be better able to observe them. And, therefore, if you please, I move that they may proceed.
Buff-Coat: (A trooper whose name was at this point unknown to Clarke (the amanuensis), but was later discovered to be Everard; i.e. Robert Everard, Agent of Cromwell's Regiment). May it please your Honour: I desired to give you satisfaction in that there was such a willingness that we might have a conference. Whereupon I did engage that interest that was in me that I would procure some to come hither, both of the soldiers and of others for assistance. And in order thereunto, here are two soldiers sent from the Agents, and two of our friends also, to present this to your considerations, and . desire your advice. According to my expectations and your engagements you are resolved every one to purchase our inheritances which have been lost, and free this nation from the tyranny that lies upon us. I question not but that it is all your desires. And for that purpose we desire to do nothing but what we present to your consideration. And if you conceive that it must be for us to be instruments, (that we might shelter ourselves like wise men before the storm comes) we desire that all carping upon words might be laid aside, and that you may fall directly upon the matter presented to you.
We have here met on purpose, according to my engagement, that whatsoever may be thought to be necessary for our satisfaction, for the right understanding one of another, might be done, that we might go on together. For, though our ends and aims be the same, if one thinks this way, another another way that way which is the best for the subject is that they both may be hearkened unto.
Buff Coat: For the privileges here demanded, I think it will be strange that we that are soldiers cannot have them for our- selves, if not for the whole kingdom; and therefore we beseech you consider of it.
Cromwell: These things that you have now offered, they are new to us: they are things that we have not at all (at least in this method and thus circumstantially) had any opportunity to consider of, because they came to us but thus, as you see; this is the first time we had a view of them.
Truly this paper does contain in it very great alterations of the very government of the kingdom, alterations from that government that it hath been under, I believe I may almost say, since it was a nation -- I say, I think I may almost say so. And what the consequences of such an alteration as this would be, if there were nothing else to be considered, wise men and godly men ought to consider. I say, if there were nothing else to be considered but the very weight and nature of the things contained in this paper. Therefore, although the pretensions in it, and the expressions in it, are very plausible, and if we could leap out of one condition into another that had so specious things in it as this hath, I suppose there would not be much dispute -- though perhaps some of these things may be very well disputed. How do we know if, whilst we are disputing these things, another company of men shall not gather together, and put out a paper as plausible perhaps as this? I do not know why it might not be done by that time you have agreed upon this, or got hands to it if that be the way. And not only another, and another, but many of this kind. And if so, what do you think the consequence of that would be? Would it not be confusion? Would it not be utter confusion? Would it not make England like the Switzerland country, one canton of the Swiss against another, and one county against another? I ask you whether it be not fit for every honest man seriously to lay that upon his heart? And if so what would that produce but an absolute desolation -- an absolute desolation to the nation-and we in the meantime tell the nation: "It is for your liberty; 'tis for your privilege; 'tis for your good." (Pray God it prove, so whatsoever course we run.) But truly, I think we are not only to consider what the consequences are if there were nothing else but this paper, but we are to consider the probability of the ways and means to accomplish the thing proposed: that is to say-, whether, according to reason and judgment, the spirits and temper of the people of this nation are prepared to receive and to go on along with it, and whether those great difficulties that lie in our way are in a likelihood to be either overcome or removed. Truly, to anything that 's good, there 's no doubt on it, objections may be made and framed; but let every honest man consider whether or no there be not very real objections to this in point of difficulty. I know a man may answer all difficulties with faith, and faith will answer all difficulties really where it is, but we are very apt, all of us, to call that faith, that perhaps may be but carnal imagination, and carnal reasonings. Give me leave to say this. There will be very great mountains in the way of this, if this were the thing in present consideration; and, therefore, we ought to consider the con- sequences, and God hath given us our reason that we may do this. It is not enough to propose things that are good in the end, but suppose this model were an excellent model, and fit for England and the kingdom to receive, it is our duty as Christians and men to consider consequences, and to consider the way.
But really I shall speak to nothing but that that, as before the Lord I am persuaded in my heart, tends to uniting of us in one, and to that that God will manifest to us to be the thing that he would have us prosecute. And he that meets not here with that heart, and dares not say he will stand to that, I think he is a deceiver. I say it to you again, and I profess unto you, I shall offer nothing to you but that I think in my heart and conscience tends to the uniting of us, and to the begetting a right understanding among us; and therefore this is that I would insist upon, and have it cleared among us.
It is not enough for us to insist upon good things. That every one would do. There is not one in forty of us but could prescribe many things exceeding plausible-and hardly anything worse than our present condition, take it with all the troubles that are upon us. It is not enough for us to propose good things, but it behoves honest men and Christians (that really will approve themselves so before God and men) to see whether or no they be in a condition -- whether, taking all things into consideration, they may honestly endeavour and attempt that that is fairly and plausibly proposed. For my own part I know nothing that we are to consider first but that, before we would come to debate the evil or good of this paper, or to add to it or subtract from it. And if we should come to any such thing, I am confident (if your hearts be upright as ours are -- and God will be judge between you and us) you do not bring this paper with peremptoriness of mind, but to receive amendments, to have anything taken from it that may be made apparent by clear reason to be inconvenient or unhonest.
But first of all there is the question what obligations lie upon us and how far we are engaged . This ought to be our con- sideration and yours, saving that in this you have the advantage of us -- you that are the soldiers you have not, but you that are not soldiers -- you reckon yourselves at a loose and at a liberty, as men that have no obligation upon you. Perhaps we conceive we have; and therefore this is that I may say --both to those that come with you, and to my fellow officers and all others that hear me: that it concerns us as we would approve ourselves before God, and before men that are able to judge of us, if we do not make good our engagements, if we do not make good that that the world expects we should make good. I do not speak to determine what that is; but if I be not much mistaken, we have in the time of our danger issued out declarations; we have been required by the Parliament, because our declarations were general, to declare particularly what we meant. And (having done that) how far that obliges or not obliges us, that is by us to be con- sidered-if we mean honestly and sincerely and to approve ourselves to God as honest men. And therefore, having heard this paper read, this remains to us: that we again review what we have engaged in, and what we have that lies upon us. He that departs from that that is a real engagement and a real tie upon him, I think he transgresses without faith; for faith will bear up men in every honest obligation, and God does expect from men the performance of every honest obligation. And therefore I have no more to say but this: we having received your paper, we shall amongst ourselves consider what to do; and before we take this into consideration, it is fit for us to consider how far we are obliged, and how far we are free; and I hope we shall prove ourselves honest men where we are free to tender anything to the good of the public. And this is that I thought good to offer to you upon this paper.
Mr. John Wildman: Being yesterday at a meeting where divers country gentlemen and soldiers and others were, and amongst the rest the Agents of the five regiments, and having weighed their papers, I must freely confess I did declare my agreement with them. Upon that, they were pleased to declare their sense in most particulars of their proceedings, to me, and desired me that I would be their mouth, and in their names represent their sense unto you. And upon that ground I shall speak something in answer to that which your Honour last spake.
I shall not reply anything at present, till it come to be further debated, either concerning the consequences of what is propounded, or the contents of this paper; but I conceive the chief weight of your Honour's speech lay in this, that you were first to consider what obligations lay upon you, and how far you were engaged, before you could consider what was just in this paper now propounded; adding that God would protect men in keeping honest promises. To that I must only offer this. That, according to the best knowledge I have of their apprehensions, they do apprehend that whatever obligation is past must afterwards be considered when it is urged whether the engagement were honest and just or no; and if it were not just it doth not oblige the persons, if it be an oath itself. But if, while there is not so clear a light, any person passes an engagement, it is judged by them (and I so judge it) to be an act of honesty for that man to recede from his former judgment, and to abhor it. And therefore I conceive the first thing is to consider the honesty of what is offered; otherwise it cannot be considered of any obligation that doth prepossess. By the consideration of the justice of what is offered, that obligation shall appear whether it was just or no. If it were not just, I cannot but be confident of the searings of your consciences. And I conceive this to be their sense; and upon this account, upon a more serious review of all declarations past, they see no obligations which are just, that they contradict by proceeding in this way.
Ireton: Sure this gentleman hath not been acquainted with our engagements. For he that will cry out of breach of engagement in slight and trivial things and things necessitated to -- I can hardly think that man that is so tender of an engagement as to frame, or at least concur with, this book in their insisting upon every punctilio of the Engagement, (Solemn Engagement of the Army; see Case of the Army Truly Stated ) can be of that principle that no engagement is binding further than that he thinks it just or no. For he hints that, if he that makes an engagement (be it what it will be) have further light that this engagement was not good or honest, then he is free from it. Truly, if the sense were put thus, that a man finds he hath entered into an engagement and thinks that it was not a just engagement, I confess something might be said that such a man might declare himself for his part ready to suffer some penalty upon his person or upon his party. The question is, whether it be an engagement to another party. Now if a man venture into an engagement from himself to another, and find that engagement not just and honest, he must apply himself to the other party and say: 'I cannot actively perform it; I will make you amends as near as I can.' Upon the same ground men are not obliged to be obedient to any authority that is set up, though it were this authority that is proposed here -- I am not engaged to be so actively to that authority. Yet if I have engaged that they shall bind me by law, though afterwards I find they do require me to a thing that is not just or honest I am bound so far to my engagement that I must submit and suffer, though I cannot act and do that which their laws do impose upon me. If that caution were put in where a performance of an engagement might be expected from another, and he could not do it because he thought it was not honest to be performed -- if such a thing were put into the case, it is possible there might be some reason for it. But to take it as it is delivered in general, that we are free to break, if it subsequently appear unjust, whatever engagement we have entered into, though it be a promise of something to another party, wherein that other party is concerned, wherein he hath a benefit if we make it good, wherein he hath a prejudice if we make it not good: this is a principle that will take away all commonwealths, and will take away the fruit of this very engagement if it were entered into; and men of this principle would think themselves as little as may be obliged by any law if in their apprehensions it be not a good law. I think they would think themselves as little obliged to think of standing to that authority that is proposed in this paper .
Truly, sir, I have little to say at the present to that matter of the paper that is tendered to us. I confess, there are plausible things in it, and there are things really good in it. There are those things that I do with my heart desire; and there are those things, for the most part of it, that-- I shall be so free as to say -- if these gentlemen (and other gentlemen that will join with them) can obtain, I would not oppose, I should rejoice to see obtained. There are those things in it, divers of them. And if we were, as hath been urged now, free; if we were first free from consideration of all the dangers and miseries that we may bring upon this people, the danger that when we go to cry out for the liberty of it we may not leave a being in it, free from all those engagements that do lie upon us, and that were honest when they were entered into: I should concur with this paper further than, as the case doth stand, I can. But truly I do account we are under engagements; and I suppose that whatsoever this gentleman that spoke last doth seem to deliver to us, holding himself absolved from all engagements if he thinks it, yet those men that came with him (that are in the case of the Army) hold themselves more obliged; and therefore that they will not persuade us to lay aside all our former engagements and declarations; if there be anything in them, and to concur in this, if there be anything in it that is contrary to those engagements which they call upon us to confirm. Therefore I do wish that we may have a consideration of our former engagements, of things which are generally the engagements of the Army. Those we are to take notice of; and sure we are not to recede from them till we are convinced that they are unjust. And when we are convinced of them, that they are unjust, truly yet I must not fully concur with that gentleman's principle, that presently we are, as he says, absolved from them, that we are not bound to them, or we are not bound to make them good. Yet I should think, at least, if the breach of that engagement be to the prejudice of another whom we have persuaded to believe by our declaring such things, so that we led them to a confidence of it, to a dependence upon it, to a disadvantage to themselves or the losing of advantages to them; I say, I think then that though we were convinced they were unjust, and satisfied in this gentleman's principle, and free and disengaged from them, yet we who made that engagement should not make it our act to break it. Though we were convinced that we are not bound to perform it, yet we should not make it our act to break it . And so I speak to enforce this upon the whole matter. As for the particulars of this Agreement, there are other questions: whether they have that goodness that they hold forth in show, or whether there are not some defects in them which are not seen, so that, if we should rest in this Agreement without something more, they would deceive us; and whether there be not some considerations that would tend more to union. But withal I wish that we who are the Army and are engaged with its public declarations, may consider how far those public declarations, which we then thought to be just, do oblige, that we may either resolve to make them good if we can in honest ways, or at least not make it our work to break them. And for this purpose I wish -- unless the Council please to meet from time to time, from day to day, and to consider it themselves, to go over our papers and declarations and take the heads of them -- I wish there may be some specially appointed for it; and I shall be very glad if it may be so that I myself may be none of them.
Rainborough: I shall crave your pardon if I may speak something freely; and I think it will be the last time I shall speak here, (Rainborough refers to his having been transferred to naval service) and from such a way that I never looked for. The consideration that I had in this Armv and amongst honest men -- not that it is an addition of honour and profit to me, but rather a detriment in both -- is the reason that I speak something by way of apology first. This paper I saw by chance, and had no resolution to have been at this Council, nor any other since I took this employment upon me, but to do my duty. I met with a letter (which truly was so strange to me that I have been a little troubled, and truly I have so many sparks of honour and honesty in me) to let me know that my regiment should be immediately disposed from me. I hope that none in the Army will say but that I have performed my duty, and that with some success, as well as others. I am loath to leave the Army, with whom I will live and die, insomuch that rather than I will lose this regiment of mine the Parliament shall exclude me the House, or imprison me; for truly while I am employed abroad I will not be undone at home. This was it that called me hither, and. not anything of this paper. But now I shall speak something of it.
I shall speak my mind, that, whoever he be that hath done this, he hath done it with much respect to the good of his country. It is said, there are many plausible things in it. Truly, many things have engaged me, which, if I had not known they should have been nothing but good, I would not have engaged in. It hath been said, that if a man be engaged he must perform his engagements. I am wholly confident that every honest man is bound in duty to God and his conscience, let him be engaged in what he will, to decline it when he sees it to be evil: he is engaged, and as clearly convinced, to discharge his duty to God as ever he was for it. And that I shall make good out of the scripture, and clear it by that, if that be anything. There are two further objections are made against it.
The one is division. Truly I think we are utterly undone if we divide, but I hope that honest things have carried us on thus long, and will keep us together, and I hope that we shall not divide. Another thing is difficulties. Oh, unhappy men are we that ever began this war! If ever we had looked upon difficulties, I do not know that ever we should have looked an enemy in the face. Truly, I think the Parliament were very indiscreet to contest with the King if they did not consider first that they should go through difficulties; and I think there was no man that entered into this war, that did not engage to go through difficulties. And I shall humbly offer unto you -- it may be the last time I shall offer, it may be so, but I shall discharge my conscience in it -- it is this. That truly I think, let the difficulties be round about you -- have you death before you, the sea on each side of you and behind you -- and are you convinced that the thing is just, I think you are bound in conscience to carry it on; and I think at the last day it can never be answered to God, that you did not do it. For I think it is a poor service to God and the kingdom, to take their pay and to decline the work. I hear it said that it's a huge alteration, it's a bringing in of new laws, and that this kingdom hath been under this government ever since it was a kingdom. If writings be true there have been many scufflings between the honest men of England and those that have tyrannized over them; and if it be true what I have read, there is none of those just and equitable laws that the people of England are born to, but are entrenchments on the once enjoyed privileges of their rulers altogether. But even if they were those which the people have been always under, if the people find that they are not suitable to freemen as they are, I know no reason that should deter me, either in what I must answer before God or the world, from endeavouring by all means to gain anything that might be of more advantage to them than the government under which they live. I do not press that you should go on with this thing, for I think that every man that would speak to it will be less able till he hath some time to consider it. I do make it my motion: That two or three days' time may be set for every man to consider, and that all that is to be considered is the justness of the thing -- and if that be considered then all things areso that there may be nothing to deter us from it, but that we may do that which is just to the people.
Cromwell: Truly I am very glad that this gentleman that spoke last is here, and not sorry for the occasion that brought him hither, because it argues we shall enjoy his company longer than I thought we should have done --
Rainborough: If I should not be kicked out --
Cromwell: And truly then, I think, it shall not be long enough. But truly I do not know what the meaning of that expression is, nor what the meaning of any hateful word is here. For we are all here with the same integrity to the public; and perhaps we have all of us done our parts, not affrighted with difficulties, one as well as another, and, I hope, have all purposes henceforward -- through the grace of God, not resolving in our own strength -- to do so still. And therefore truly I think all the consideration is that. Amongst us we are almost all soldiers; all considerations of not fearing difficulties, or words of that kind, do wonderfully please us; all words of courage animate us to carry on our business, to do God's business, that which is the will of God. And I say it again, I do not think that any man here wants courage to do that which becomes an honest man and an Englishman to do. But all speak as men that desire to have the fear of God before our eyes and men that may not resolve in the power of a fleshly strength to do that which we do, but to lay this as the foundation of all our actions, to do that which is the will of God. And if any man have a false conceit on the one hand, deceitfulness, pretending that which he doth not intend, or a persuasion, on the other hand, to rely on fleshly strength -- I think he will not prosper.
But to that which was moved by Colonel Rainborough, of the objections of difficulty and danger and of the consequences: they are proposed not to any other end, but as things fitting consideration, not forged to deter from the consideration of the business. In the consideration of the thing that is new to us, and of everything that shall be new, that is of such importance as this is, I think that he that wishes the most serious advice to be taken of such a change as this is -- so evident and clear a change -- whoever offers that there may be most serious consideration, I think he does not speak impertinently. And truly it was offered to no other end than what I speak. I shall say no more to that.
But to the other, concerning engagements and breaking of them: I do not think that it was at all offered by anybody, that though an engagement were never so unrighteous it ought to be kept. No man offered a syllable or tittle to that purpose. For certainly it's an act of duty to break an unrighteous engagement; he that keeps it does a double sin, in that he made an unrighteous engagement, and in that he goes about to keep it. But this was only offered, that before we can consider of this paper (and I know not what can be more fitly offered) we labour to know where we are, and where we stand. Perhaps we are upon engagements that we cannot with honesty break. But let me tell you this; that he that speaks to you of engagements here, is as free from engagements to the King as any man in all the world. I know it, and if it were otherwise, I believe my future actions would provoke some to declare it. But, I thank God, I stand upon the bottom of my own innocence in this particular; through the grace of God I fear not the face of any man, I do not. I say, we are to consider what engagements we have made; and if our engagements have been unrighteous, why should we not make it our endeavours to break them? Yet if they be unrighteous engagements it is not wise to hasten a present breach of them unless there be a consideration of circumstances. Circumstances may be such as I may not now break an unrighteous engagement, or else I may do that which I do scandalously, even if the thing itself be good. But if that be true concerning the breaking of an unrighteous engagement, it is much more verified concerning engagements disputable whether they be righteous or unrighteous. If so, I am sure it is fit we should dispute them, and if, when we have disputed them, we see the goodness of God enlightening us to see our liberties, I think we are to do what we can to give satisfaction to men. If it were so, it ought to appear that as we made an engagement in judgment and knowledge, so we go off from it in judgment and knowledge. But there may be just engagements upon us, such as perhaps it will be our duty to keep; and if so, it is fit we should consider. And all that I said was that we should consider our engagements, and there is nothing else offered, and therefore what need that anybody be angry or offended? Perhaps we have made such engagements as may in the matter of them not bind us; yet in some circumstances they may. Our engagements are public engagements. They are to the kingdom, and to every one in the kingdom that could look upon what we did publicly declare, could read or hear it read. They are to the Parliament. And it is a very fitting thing that we do seriously consider of the things. And this is what I shall shortly offer. That because the kingdom is in the danger it is in, because the kingdom is in that condition it is in, and time may be ill spent in debates; and it is necessary for things to be put to an issue (if ever it was necessary in the world it is now), I should desire this may be done. That this General Council may be appointed to meet against a very short time, two days -- Thursday -- if you would against Saturday, or at furthest against Monday; that there might be a committee out of this Council appointed to debate and consider with those two gentlemen, and with any others that are not of the Army, that they shall bring, and with the Agitators of those five regiments; that so there may be a liberal and free debate had amongst us, that we may under- stand really, as before God, the bottom of our desires, and that we may seek God together, and see if God will give us an uniting spirit.
And give me leave to tell it you again, I am confident there sits not a man in this place that cannot so freely act with you that, if he sees that God hath shut up his way that he cannot do any service in that way as may be good for the kingdom, he will be glad to withdraw himself, and wish you all prosperity. And if this heart be in us, as is known to God that searches our hearts and trieth the reins, God will discover whether our hearts be not clear in this business. And therefore I shall move that we may have a committee amongst ourselves to consider of the engagements, and this committee to dispute things with others, and a short day to be appointed for the General Council. And I doubt not but, if in sincerity we are willing to submit to that light that God shall cast in among us, God will unite us, and make us of one heart and one mind. Do the plausiblest things you can do, do that which hath the most appearance of reason in it, that tends to change: at this conjuncture of time you will find difficulties. But if God satisfy our spirits this will be a ground of confidence to every good man; and he that goes upon other grounds, he shall fall like a beast. I shall desire this: that you, or any other of the Agitators or gentlemen that can be here, will be here, that we may have free discourses amongst ourselves of things, and you will be able to satisfy each other. And really, rather than I would have this kingdom break in pieces before some company of men be united together to a settlement, I will withdraw myself from the Army tomorrow, and lay down my commission. I will perish before I hinder it.
Bedfordshire Man: (Perhaps the Agent from Whalley's Regiment). May it please your Honour: I was desired by some of the Agents to accompany this paper, having manifested my approbation of it after I had heard it read several times. And they desired that it might be offered to this Council, for the concurrence of the Council if it might be. I find that the engagements of the Army are at present the things which is insisted to be considered. I confess my ignorance in those engagements; but I apprehend, at least I hope, that those engagements have given away nothing from the people that is the people's right. It may be they have promised the King his right, or any other persons their right, but no more. If they have promised more than their right to any person or persons, and have given away anything from the people that is their right, then I conceive they are unjust. And if they are unjust they should be broken, though I confess for my own part I am very tender of breaking an engagement when it concerns a particular person -- I think that a particular person ought rather to set down and lose than to break an engagement. But if any men have given away anything from another whose right it was to one or more whose right it was not, I conceive these men may break that engagement -- at least many of them think themselves bound not only to break this engagement, but to replace it with another to give every one his due. I conceive that for the substance of the paper, it is the people's due. And for the change of the government, which is so dangerous, I apprehend that there may be many dangers in it, and truly I apprehend there may be more dangers without it. For I conceive, if you keep the government as it is and bring in the King, there may be more dangers than in changing the government. But however, because (from those things that I heard of the Agents) they conceive that this conjuncture of time may almost destroy them, they have taken upon them a liberty of acting to higher things, as they hope, for the freedom of the nation, than yet this General Council have acted to. And therefore, as their sense is, I must make this motion. That all those that upon a due consideration of the thing do find it to be just and honest, and do find that if they have engaged anything to the contrary of this it is unjust and giving away the people's rights, I desire that they may, and all others may, have a free liberty of acting to anything in this nature, or any other nature, that may be for the people's good, by petitioning or otherwise; whereby the fundamentals for a well-ordered government and for the people's rights may be established. And I shall desire that those that conceive themselves bound up would desist, and satisfy themselves in that, and be no hindrances in that to hinder the people in a more perfect way than hath been yet endeavoured.
Captain Lewis Audley: I suppose you have not thought fit that there should be a dispute concerning things at this time. I desire that other things may be taken into consideration, delays and debates. Delays have undone us, and it must be a great expedition that must further us; and therefore I desire that there may be a committee appointed.
Lieutenant-Colonel William Goffe: I shall but humbly take the boldness to put you in mind of one thing which you moved enow. The motion is, that there might be a seeking of God in the things that now lie before us.
I shall humbly desire that that motion may not die. It may be that there are some particular opinions among us concerning the use of ordinances and of public seeking of God. No doubt forms have been rested upon too much; but yet since there are so many of us that have had so many and so large experiences of an extraordinary manifestation of God's presence when we have been in such extraordinary ways met together, I shall desire that those who are that way moved will take the present opportunity to do it. For certainly those things that are now presented are well accepted by most of us, though I am not prepared to say anything either consenting or dissenting to the paper, as not thinking it wisdom to answer a matter before I have considered: Yet I am troubled when I do consider how much ground there is to conceive there hath been a withdrawing of the presence of God from us that have met in this place -- I do not say a total withdrawing; I hope God is with us and amongst us. It hath been our trouble night and day, that God hath not been with us as formerly, as many within us, so without us, have told us, men that were sent from God in an extraordinary manner to us. I mean that though the ministers may take too much upon them, yet there have been those that have preached to us in this place, in several places, we know very well that they spake to our hearts and consciences, and told us of our wanderings from God, and told us in the name of the Lord that God wou1d be with us no longer than we were with him. We have in some things wandered from God, and as we have heard this from them in this place, so have we had it very frequently pressed upon our spirits elsewhere, pressed upon us in the City and the country. I speak this to this end, that our hearts may be deeply and thoroughly affected with this matter. For if God be departed from us, he is somewhere else. If we have not the will of God in these counsels, God may be found among some other counsels. Therefore, I say, let us show the spirit of Christians, and let us not be ashamed to declare to all the world that our counsels and our wisdom and our ways, they are not altogether such as the world hath walked in; but that we have had a dependency upon God, and that our desires are to follow God, though never so much to our disadvantage in the world if God may have the glory by it.
And, I pray, let us consider this: God does seem evidently to be throwing down the glory of all flesh. The greatest powers in the kingdom have been shaken. God hath thrown down the glory of the King and that party; he hath thrown down a party in the City. I do not say that God will throw us down -- I hope better things -- but he will have the glory. Let us not stand upon our glory and reputation in the world. If we have done some things through ignorance or fear or unbelief, in the day of our straits, and could not give God that glory by believing as we ought to have done, I hope God hath a way for to humble us for that, and to keep us as instruments in his hand still. There are two ways that God doth take upon those that walk obstinately against him: if they be obstinate and continue obstinate, he breaks them in pieces with a rod of iron; if they be his people and wander from him, he takes that glory from them and takes it to himself. (I speak it, I hope, from a divine impression.) If we would continue to be instruments in his hand, let us seriously set ourselves before the Lord, and seek to him and wait upon him for conviction of spirits. It is not enough for us to say,' If we have offended we will leave the world, we will go and confess to the Lord what we have done amiss, but we will do no more so.' Aaron went up to Hor and died; and Moses was favoured to see the land of Canaan -- he did not voluntarily lay himself aside. I hope our strayings from God are not so great but that a conversion and true humiliation may recover us again; and I desire that we may be serious in this, and not despise any other instruments that God will use. God will have his work done; it may be, we think we are the only instruments that God hath in his hands. I shall only add these two things. First that we should be wary how we let forth anything against his people, and that which is for the whole kingdom and nation. I would move that we may not let our spirits act too freely against them till we have thoroughly weighed the matter, and considered our own ways too. The second is, to draw us up to a serious consideration of the weightiness of the work that lies before us, and seriously to set ourselves to seek the Lord; and I wish it might be considered of a way and manner that it should be con- veniently done, and I think tomorrow will be the best day.
Cromwell: I know not what hour Lieutenant-Colonel Goffe means for tomorrow, for the time of seeking God. I think it will be requisite that we do it speedily, and do it the first thing, and that we do it as unitedly as we can, as many of us as well may meet together. I think it would be good that tomorrow morning may be spent in prayer, and the afternoon might be the time of our business. I do not know whether these gentlemen do assent to it, that tomorrow in the afternoon might be the time? For my part I shall lay aside all business for this business, either to convince or be convinced as God shall please.
Goffe: I think we have a great deal of business to do, and we have been doing of it these ten weeks: I say, go about what you will, for my part I shall not think anything can prosper unless God be first publicly sought. It is an ordinance that God hath blessed to this end.
Cromwell: If that be approved of, that tomorrow morning shall be a time of seeking the Lord, and that the afternoon shall be the time of business, if that doth agree with your opinion and the general sense, let that be first ordered.
Ireton: That which Lieutenant-Colonel Goffe offered hath made a very great impression upon me; and indeed I must acknowledge to God, and to him, that as he hath several times spoke in this place (and elsewhere) to this purpose, he hath never spoke but he hath touched my heart; and that especially in the point of that one thing that he hints. In the time of our straits and difficulties, I think we none of us -- I fear we none of us -- I am sure I have not -- walked so closely with God, and kept so close with him, as to trust wholly upon him, as not to be led too much with considerations of danger and difficulty, and from that consideration to waive some things, and perhaps to do some things that otherwise I should not have thought fit to have done. Every one hath a spirit within him -- especially he who has that communion indeed with that Spirit that is the. only searcher of hearts -- that can best search out and discover to him the errors of his own ways and of the workings of his own heart. And though I think that public actings are necessary in relation to public departings from God, which are the fruits of unbelief and distrust, and not honouring God by sanctifying him in our ways, and though, if there be any such thing in the Army, that is to be looked upon with a public eye in relation to the Army; yet they do more publicly engage God to vindicate his honour by a departing from them, that do so. But I think the main thing is for every one to wait upon God, for the errors, deceits, and weaknesses of his own heart; and I pray God to be present with us in that. But withal I would not have that seasonable and good motion that hath come from Lieutenant-Colonel Goffe to be neglected, of a public seeking of God, and seeking to God, as for other things so especially for the discovery of any public deserting of God, or dishonouring of him, or declining from him, that does lie as the fault and blemish upon the Army. Therefore I wish his motion may be pursued, that the thing may be done, and for point of time as was moved by him. Only this to the way. I confess I think the best way is this, that it may be only taken notice of as a thing by the agreement of this Council resolved on, that tomorrow in the morning, the forenoon we do set apart, we do give up from other business, for every man to give himself up that way in private by himself if he so chooses -- though not in public, I cannot say. For the public meeting at the church, it were not amiss that it may be thus taken notice of as a time given from other employments for that purpose, and every one as God shall incline their hearts, some in one place, and some another, to employ themselves that way.
(From this point to the next long speech (by Cromwell) the report is fragmentary. Some arguments, presumably springing from the Puritan distrust of outward forms, resulted in removing the projected prayer-meeting from the church to the Quartermaster-General's lodgings. Probably also there were expressions of fear lest the officers should use the gathering to insinuate their own opinions in others. Cromwell protests against the spirit of antagonism, and later seems to reply to a specific charge.)
Cromwell urged: That they should not meet as two contrary parties, but as some desirous to satisfy or convince each other.
Mr. Maximilian Petty: For my own part, I have done as to this business what was desired by the Agents that sent me hither. As for any further meeting tomorrow, or any other time, I cannot meet upon the same ground, to meet as for their sense, but only to give my own reason why I do assent to it.
Ireton: I should be sorry that they should be so sudden to stand upon themselves.
Petty:To procure three, four, or five (more or less) to meet, for my own part I am utterly unconcerned in the business.
Buff Coat: I have hereat this day answered the expectations which I engaged to your Honours; which was, that if we would give a meeting you should take that as a symptom, or a remarkable testimony, of our fidelity. I have discharged that trust reposed in me. I could not absolutely engage for them. I shall go on still in that method: I shall engage my deepest interest, for any reasonable desires, to engage them to come to this.
Cromwell: I hope we know God better than to make appearances of religious meetings covers for designs or for insinuation amongst you. I desire that God, that hath given us some sincerity, will own us according to his own goodness and that sincerity that he hath given us. I dare be confident to speak it, that design that hath been amongst us hitherto is to seek the guidance of God, and to recover that presence of God that seems to withdraw from us. And to accomplish that work which may be for the good of the kingdom is our end. But it seems as much to us in this as anything, we are not all of a mind. And for our parts we do not desire or offer you to be with us in our seeking of God further than your own satisfactions lead you, but only that against tomorrow in the afternoon (which will be designed for the consideration of these businesses with you) you will do what you may to have so many as you shall think fit, to see what God will direct you to say to us, that whilst we are going one way, and you another, we be not both destroyed. This requires guidance from the Spirit. It may be too soon to say it, yet 'tis my present apprehension: I had rather we should devolve our strength to you than that the kingdom for our division should suffer loss. For that's in all our hearts, to profess above anything that's worldly, the public good of the people; and if that be in our hearts truly and nakedly, I am confident it is a principle that will stand. Perhaps God may unite us and carry us both one way. And therefore I do desire you, that against to- morrow in the afternoon, if you judge it meet, you will come to us to the Quartermaster-General's quarters -- where you will find us at prayer if you will come timely to join with us; at your liberty, if afterwards to speak with us. There you will find us.
Wildman: I desire to return a little to the business in hand, that was the occasion of these other motions. I could not but take some notice of something that did reflect upon the Agents of the five regiments, in which I could not but give a little satisfaction as to them; and I shall desire to prosecute a motion or two that hath been already made. I observed that it was said, that these gentlemen do insist upon engagements in The Case of the Army, and therefore it was said to be contrary to the principles of the Agents, that an engagement which was unjust could lawfully be broken. I shall only observe this: that though an unjust engagement, when it appears unjust, may be broken; yet when two parties engage each that the other party may have satisfaction, because they are mutually engaged each to other one party that apprehends they are broken is justified to complain of them; and so it may be their case, with which, I confess, I made my concurrence.
The other thing I would mention is a principle much spreading, and much to my trouble, and that is this: that when persons once be engaged, though the engagement appear to be unjust, yet the person must sit down and suffer under it; and that therefore, in case a Parliament, as a true Parliament, doth anything unjustly, if we be engaged to submit to the laws that they shall make, though they make an unjust law, though they make an unrighteous law, yet we must swear obedience. I confess, to me this principle is very dangerous, and I speak it the rather because I see it spreading abroad in the Army again -- whereas it is contrary to what the Army first declared: that they stood upon such principles of right and freedom, and the Laws of Nature and Nations, whereby men were to preserve themselves though the persons to whom authority belonged should fail in it; and they urged the example of the Scots, and argued that the general that would destroy the army, they might hold his hands; and therefore if anything tends to the destruction of a people, because the thing is absolutely unjust that tends to their destruction they may preserve themselves by opposing it.(Wildman is paraphrasing the Representation of the Army (14th June 1647) I could not but speak a word to that.
The motion that I should make upon that account is this. That whereas it is said there must be a meeting to examine differences and promote union, I could not find but that they were desirous to give all satisfaction, and they desire nothing but the union of the Army. Thus far it is their sense. But they apprehend that the necessity of the kingdom is such for present actings, that two or three days may lose the kingdom. I desire in the sight of God to speak -- I mean plainly: there may be an agreement between the King and the Parliament by propositions, with a power to hinder the making of any laws that are good, and the tendering of any good laws. And therefore, because none of the people's grievances are redressed, they do apprehend that thus a few days may be the loss of the kingdom. I know it is their sense: that they desire to be excused, that it might not be thought any arrogancy in them, but they are clearly satisfied that the way they proceed in is just, and they desire to be excused if they go on in it; and yet, notwithstanding, they will give all satisfaction. And whereas it is desired that engagements may be considered, I shall desire that only the justice of the thing that is proposed may be considered. I would know whether the chief thing in the Agreement, (By this title, a favourite with the Levellers, Wildman designates the proposals submitted in the name of the Agents). the intent of it, be not this, to secure the rights of the people in their Parliaments, which was declared by this Army, in the declaration of the fourteenth of June, to be absolutely insisted on. I shall make that motion to be the thing considered: Whether the thing be just, or the people's due? And then there can be no engagement to bind from it.
Ireton: Truly, sir, by what Lieutenant-Colonel Goffe moved, I confess, I was so taken off from all other thoughts in this business that I did not think of speaking anything more. But what this gentleman hath last said hath renewed the occasion, and indeed if I did think all that he hath delivered to be truth and innocence -- nay, if I did not think that it hath venom and poison in it. I would not speak it.
First, I cannot but speak something unto the two particulars that he holds forth as dangerous things -- indeed he hath clearly yoked them together, when before I was sensible of those principles and how far they would run together; that is that principle of not being obliged, by not regarding what engagements men have entered into, if in their future apprehensions the things they engaged to are unjust; and that principle, on the other hand, of not submitting passively to that authority we have engaged to for peace' sake. For he does hold forth his opinion in those two points to clear their way; and I must crave leave on my part to declare that my opinion of that distinction doth lie on the other way. I am far from holding that if a man have engaged himself to a thing that is not just -- to a thing that is evil, that is sin if he do it -- that that man is still bound to perform what he hath promised; I am far from apprehending that. But when we talk of just, it is not so much of what is sinful before God (which, depends upon many circumstances of indignation to that man and the like), but it intends of that which is just according to the foundation of justice between man and man. And for my part I account that the great foundation of justice, that we should keep covenant one with another; without which I know nothing of justice betwixt man and man -- in particular matters I mean, nothing in particular things that can come under human engagement one way or other. There is no other foundation of right I know, of right to any one thing from another man, no foundation of that particular justice or that particular righteousness, but this general justice, and this general ground of righteousness, that we should keep covenant one with another. Covenants freely made, freely entered into, must be kept one with another. Take away that, I do not know what ground there is of anything you can call any man's right. I would very fain know what you gentlemen, or any other, do account the right you have to anything in England -- anything of estate, land or goods, that you have, what ground, what right you have to it. What right hath any man to anything if you lay not down that principle, that we are to keep covenant? If you will resort only to the Law of Nature by the Law of Nature you have no more right to this land, or anything else, than I have. I have as much right to take hold of anything that is for my sustenance, to take hold of anything that I have a desire to for my satisfaction, as you. But here comes the foundation of all right that I understand to be betwixt men as to the enjoying of one thing or not enjoying of it: we are under a contract, we are under an agreement, and that agreement is what a man has for matter of land that he hath received by a traduction from his ancestors, which according to the law does fall upon him to be his right. That agreement is that he shall enjoy, he shall have the property of, the use of, the disposing of the land , with submission to that general authority which is agreed upon amongst us for the preserving of peace, and for the supporting of this law. This I take to be the foundation of all right for matter of land. For matter of goods, that which does fence me from that right which another man may claim by the Law of Nature, of taking my goods, that which makes it mine really and civilly, is the law. That which makes it unlawful originally and radically is only this: because that man is in covenant with me to live together in peace one with another, and not to meddle with that which another is possessed of, but that each of us should enjoy, and make use of, and dispose of, that which by the course of law is in his possession, and another shall not by violence take it away from him. This is the foundation of all the right any man has to anything but to his own person. This is the general thing: that we must keep covenant one with another when we have contracted one with another. And if any difference arise among us, it shall be thus and thus: that I shall not go with violence to prejudice another, but with submission to this way. And therefore when I hear men speak of laying aside all engagements to consider only that wild or vast notion of what in every man's conception is just or unjust, I am afraid and do tremble at the boundless and endless consequences of it. What are the principles you apply to this paper? You say, 'If these things in this paper, in this engagement, be just, then' -- say you -- 'never talk of any prior engagement, for if anything in that engagement be against this, your engagement was unlawful; consider singly this paper, whether it be just.' In what sense do you think this is just? There is a great deal of equivocation as to what is just and unjust.
Wildman: I suppose you take away the substance of the question. Our sense was, that an unjust engagement is rather to be broken than kept. The Agents think that to delay is to dispose their enemy into such a capacity as he may destroy them. I make a question whether any engagement can be binding to an unjust thing. If a man may promise to do that which is never so much unjust, a man may promise to break all engagements and duties. But I say this: we must lay aside the consideration of engagements, so as not to take in that as one ground of what is just or unjust amongst men in this case. I do apply this to the case in hand: that it might be considered whether it be unjust to bring in the King in such a way as he may be in a capacity to destroy the people. This paper may be applied to the solution of it.
Ireton: You come to it more particularly than that paper leads. There is a great deal of equivocation and that I am bound to declare in the point of justice.
Audley: Mr. Wildman says, if we tarry long, if we stay but three days before you satisfy one another, the King will come and say who will be hanged first.
Ireton: Sir, I was saying this: we shall much deceive ourselves, and be apt to deceive others, if we do not consider that there are two parts of justice. There may be a thing just that is negatively so, it is not unjust, not unlawful -- that which is not unlawful, that's just to me to do if I be free. Again, there is another sense of just when we account such a thing to be a duty -- not only a thing lawful, 'we may do it,' but it's a duty, 'you ought to do it.' And there is a great deal of mistake if you confound these two. If I engage myself to a thing that was in this sense just, that's a thing lawful for me to do supposing me free, then I account my engagement stands good to this. On the other hand, if I engage myself against a thing which was a duty for me to do, which I was bound to do, or if I engaged myself to a thing which was not lawful for me to do, which I was bound not to do: in this sense I do account this engagement unjust. If I do engage myself to what was unlawful for me to engage to, I think I am not then to make good actively this engagement. But though this be true, yet the general end and equity of engagements I must regard, and that is the preserving right betwixt men, the not doing of wrong or hurt by men; one to another. And therefore if in that which I engage to, though the thing be unlawful for me to do, yet another man be prejudiced by my not doing it, I may not merely renounce my engagement. Though it be a thing which was not lawful for me to do, yet I did freely engage to do it, and I did engage upon a consideration to me; and that man did believe me, and he suffered a prejudice by believing in case I did not perform it: then, though I be not bound by my engagement to perform it, yet I am bound to regard that justice that lies in the matter of engagement, so as to repair that man by some just way as far as I can. And he that doth not hold this, I doubt whether he hath any principle of justice, or doing right to any, at all in him. That is: if he that did not think it lawful hath made another man believe it to his possible prejudice and hurt; and another man be actually prejudiced and hurt by that, he that does not hold that he is in this case to repair it to that man, and free him from the prejudice of it, I conceive there is no justice in him. And therefore I wish we may take notice of this distinction when we talk of being bound to make good our engagements, or not.
This I think I can make good in a larger dispute by reason. If the things engaged to were lawful to be done, or lawful for me to engage to, then I by my engagement am bound to perform it. On the other hand, if the thing were not lawful for me to engage, or if it were a duty for me to have done to the contrary then I am not bound positively and actively to perform it. Nay, I am bound not to perform it, because it was unlawful and unjust by another engagement. But when I engage to another man, and he hath a prejudice by believing, I not performing it, I am bound to repair that man as much as may be, and let the prejudice fall upon myself and not upon any other. This I desire we may take notice of, on that part, to avoid fallacy. For there is an extremity to say, on the one hand, that if a man engage what is not just he may act against it so as to regard no relation or pre- judice; as there's an extremity for a man to say, on the other hand, that whatsoever you engage, though it be never so unjust, you are to stand to it.
One word more to the other part which Mr. Wildman doth hold out as a dangerous principle acting amongst us, that we must be bound to active obedience to any power acting amongst men --
Wildman: (interrupting) You repeat not the principle right - 'To think that we are bound so absolutely to personal obedience to any magistrates or personal authority, that if they work to our destruction we may not oppose them.'
Ireton: That we may not deceive ourselves again by arguments that are fallacious in that kind, I am a little affected to speak in this, because I see that, in those things the Army hath declared, the abuse and misapplication of them hath led many men into a great and dangerous error and destructive to all human society. Because the Army hath declared, in those cases where the foundation of all that right and liberty of the people is if they have any, that in these cases they will insist upon that right, and that they will not suffer that original and fundamental right to be taken away, and because the Army, when there hath been a command of that supreme authority, the Parliament, have not obeyed it, but stood upon it to have this fundamental right settled first, and have required a rectification of the supreme authority of the kingdom -- therefore, for a man to infer that upon any particular issue you may dispute that authority by what is commanded, whether it is just or unjust, this would be the end of all government. If in your apprehension it is unjust, you are not to obey (and so far it is well); and if it tend to your loss, it is no doubt unjust, and you are to oppose it!
Wildman interrupting: If it tend to my destruction -- that was the word I spoke.
Ireton: Let us take heed that we do not maintain this principle till it leads to destruction. If the case were so visible as those cases the Army speaks of, of a general's turning the cannon against the army, the bulk and body of the army, or of a pilot that sees a rock and does by the advantage of the stern (i.e., by his position there, to command and steer the ship) put the ship upon't; if you could propose cases as evident as these are, there is no man but would agree with you. (By citing Ireton's own arguments from the Representation of the Army, Wildman has forced him to agree to the general validity of what he says). But when men will first put in those terms of destruction, they will imagine anything a destruction if there could be anything better for them; and so it is very easy and demonstrable that things are counted so abhorred and destructive, when at the utmost a man should make it out by reason, that men would be in a better condition if it be not done, than if it be done. And though I cannot but subscribe to it, that in such a visible way I may hold the hands of those that are in authority as I may the hands of a madman; yet that no man shall think himself bound to acquiesce particularly, and to suffer for quietness' sake, rather than to make a disturbance (or to raise a power, if he can, to make a disturbance) in the state -- I do apprehend and appeal to all men whether there be not more folly or destructiveness in the spring of that principle than there can be in that other principle of holding passive obedience. Now whatsoever we have declared in the Army declarations, it is no more but this. The Parliament hath commanded us to do this; we have said, no. First we have insisted upon the fundamental rights of the people. We have said, we desire first to have the constitution of the supreme authority of this kingdom reduced to that constitution which is due to the people of this kingdom, and, reducing the authority to this, we will submit to it, we will acquiesce, we will cast our share into this common bottom; and if it go ill with us at one time, it will go well at another. The reducing of the supreme authority to that constitution, by successive election, as near as may be, we have insisted upon as an essential right of the kingdom; and no man can accuse the Army of disobedience, or holding forth a principle of disobedience, upon any other ground.
Cromwell: Let me speak a word to this business. We are now upon that business which we spake of consulting with God about, and therefore for us to dispute the merit of those things, I judge it altogether unseasonable unless you will make it the subject of debate before you consider it among yourselves. The business of the Engagement lies upon us. They claim that they are free in a double respect: they made none; and if they did, then the way out is now, and it is a way which all the members of the Army, except they be sensible of it, may take, and, at one jump, jump out of all engagements. And it is a very great jump, I will assure you. As we profess we intend to seek the Lord in the thing, the less we speak in it now the better, and the more we cast ourselves upon God the better.
I shall only speak two things to Mr. Wildman in order to our meeting. Methought he said, if there be delay he fears this business will be determined, the propositions will be sent from the Parliament, and the Parliament and King agree, and so those gentlemen that were in that mind to go on in their way, will be cut off in point of time to their own disadvantage. And the other thing he said was that these gentlemen who have chosen Mr. Wildman, and that other gentleman, (Maximilian Petty) to be their mouth at this meeting to deliver their minds, they are, upon the matter, engaged by what they have resolved upon, and they come as engaged men upon their own resolution. If that be so, I think there neither needs consideration of the former nor the latter. For you will not be anticipated. If that be so, you can work accord- ingly. And though you meet us, yet, having that resolution in your way, you cannot be prevented by any proposition, or any such thing; even though we should have come hither with propositions and we should not meet tomorrow as a company of men that really would be guided by God.
But if any come to us tomorrow only to instruct us and teach us, I refer to every sober-spirited man to think of and determine how far that will consist with the liberty of a free deliberation or an end of satisfaction. I think it is such a pre- engagement that there is no need of talk of the thing. And I see then, if that be so, things are in such an irrevocable way -- I will not call it desperate -- as there is no hope of accommodation or union, except we receive the counsels -- I will not call it the commands -- of them that come to us. I desire that we may rightly understand this thing. If this be so, I do not understand what the end of the meeting. will be. If this be not so, we will not draw any men from their engagements further than the light of God shall draw them from their engagements; and I think, according to your own principle, if you be upon any engagement you are liable to be convinced -- unless you be infallible. If we may come to an honest and single debate, how we may all agree in one common way far public good; if we may meet so, we shall meet with a great deal the more comfort, and hopes of a good and happy issue, and understanding of the business. But if otherwise, I despair of the meeting; or at least I would have the meeting to be of another notion, a meeting that did represent the Agitators of five regiments to give rules to the Council of War. If it signify this, for my own part I shall be glad to submit to it under this notion. If it be a free debate what may be fit for us all to do, with clearness and openness before the Lord, and in that sincerity, let us understand it, that we may come and meet so. Otherwise, I do verily believe, we shall meet with prejudice, and we shall meet to prejudice -- really to the prejudice of the kingdom, and of the whole Army if we be thus absolutely resolved upon our way and engaged beforehand. The kingdom will see it is such a real actual division as admits of no reconciliation, and all those that are enemies to us, and friends to our enemies, will have the clearer advantage upon us to put us into inconveniency. And I desire if there be any fear of God among us, I desire that we may declare ourselves freely, that we do meet upon these terms.
Rainborough: I wish that the motion of Lieutenant- Colonel Goffe might have taken effect, not only to the time and place for meeting, but without further preliminary as he desired. But, sir, since it is gone thus far, and since I hear much of fallacy talked of, I fear it as much on the one side as the other It is made a wonder of, that some gentlemen without should have principles to break engagements, yet no wonder of, that some gentlemen within should so much insist upon engagements. I do not consider myself as jumping, but yet I hope when I leap I shall take so much of God with me, and so much of just and right with me, as I shall jump sure. But I am more unsatisfied against another of those things that have been said, and that is as to another engagement. For all that hath been said hath been as to engagements between party and party: if two men should make an agreement and the like, and there were no living one with another if those engagements were not made good. Yet I think under favour that some engagements may be broke. No . man takes a wife but there is an engagement, and I think that a man ought to keep it; yet if another man that had married her before claims her, he ought to let him have her and so break the engagement. But whereas it is told us that this engagement is of another nature, that the party to whom we make the engagement relied upon it, and becomes thereby prejudiced, and so we ought to take it rather upon ourselves than to leave it upon them -- this may serve in a particular case: if any men here will suffer they may. But if we will make ourselves a third party, and engage between King and Parliament, it is not a particular case, and I am of that gentleman's mind that spoke: the King's party would have been about our ears if we had not made some concessions as concerning them. Here is the consideration now: do we not engage for the Parliament and for the liberties of the people of England, and do we not engage against the King's party ? We have got the better of them in the field, but they shall be masters of our houses. Never were engagements broken more than as we do break them. We did take up arms with all that took part with the Parliament, and we engaged with them; but now we are to be engaged to bring the King in. For my part, it may be thought that I am against the King; I am against him or any power that would destroy God's people, and I will never be destroyed till I cannot help myself. Is it not an argument, if a pilot run his ship upon a rock, or if a general mount his cannon against his army, he is to be resisted? I think that this is as clearly the very case as anything in the world. For clearly the King and his party could not have come in upon those terms that he is to come in on, if this very Army did not engage for him; and I verily think that the House had not made another address, if it had not been said that it was the desire of the Army and the Army were engaged to it. Therefore, I say, I hope men will have charitable opinions of other men. For my part, I think I shall never do anything against conscience, and I shall have those hopes of others. That which is dear unto me is my freedom. It is that I would enjoy, and I will enjoy if I can. For my own part, I hope there is no such distance betwixt these gentlemen and you as is imagined, but they will hear reason that may convince them out of it. I do verily believe they are so far from a disunion that they will be advised by this Council in general, or by any honest man of this Council in particular. I have not the same apprehensions that two or three days will undo us, but I think a very little delay will undo us; and therefore I should only desire -- it may be because I have spoken some other may answer me -- -- the less we speak, it may be the better. And as this Agitator, whom I never saw before, says that he will use his interest, I hope that God will do something in that for our next meeting to-morrow, that when we do meet we shall have a very happy union.
Buff Coat said : That he could break engagements in case they were proved unjust, and that it might so appear to his conscience. Whatsoever hopes or obligations I should be bound unto, if afterwards God should reveal himself, I would break it speedily, if it were an hundred a day ; and in that sense we delivered our sense.
Wildman amending : Provided that what is done tends to destruction, either to self-destruction or to the destruction of my neighbour especially. Unlawful engagements are engage- ments against duty, and an engagement to any person to bring him in in such a way as he may be enabled to engage us to his further designs, it is that which may tend to destruction.
Cromwell : I think you were understood to put it upon an issue where there is clearly a case of destruction, public destruction and ruin. And I think this will bring it into consideration whether or no our engagements have really in them that that hath public destruction and ruin necessarily following ; or whether or no we may not give too much way to our own doubts and fears. And whether it be lawful to break a covenant upon our own doubts and fears, will be the issue. And I think it best if we agree to defer the debate, and to nominate a committee.
Rainborough : One word. I am of another opinion. Not that the engagements of the Army are looked upon as destructive, but the not-performance of the engagements of the Army is that which is destructive.
Ireton : I think Mr. Wildman's conclusion is, that they are destructive because they are destructive to our neighbours.
Wildman : That if such an engagement were, it does not bind.
Ireton : Then if such a meeting were for a compliance, or at least not for a law to us but for free debate, it might tend to mutual satisfaction. But whereas the only ground on which the thing seems to me to be represented is that these gentlemen think that their own Agreement is so clear, so infallibly just and right, that whosoever goes about to take it from them, or whoever does not agree to it, is about a thing unlawful, I do think those gentlemen have not so much ground of confidence to each part of that Agreement as it lies there. But something may be seen in that if you come -- in the debating of it. And there- fore in that relation, and not merely to enforce your own prin- ciples, I desire that you would admit of so much conference as to question it.
Mr. Nicholas Lockyer : I have gathered from two men's mouths, that destruction is something near, and the cause of the destruction, as they understand, is the going of the proposals to the King. I think it were very necessary that, if it be true as is supposed, the proposals may be brought hither when they do go, that we may see what they are.
Cromwell : The question is whether the propositions will save us, or whether they will not destroy us. This discourse con- cludes nothing.
Captain John Merriman : One party fears that the King will rise by the proposals, another that he will lose. But I think that most men's eyes are open to see that they are like to prove a broken reed, and that your chariot wheels do move heavily, and that this Agreement, which is the ground of most of your dis- course, in the fundamental business of it, is the desire of most of this Council. You both desire a succession of Parliaments, to have this Parliament that it might not be perpetuated. And I think that when this Oedipus riddle is un-opened, and this Gordian knot untied, and the enemies of the same unmasked, it will be found that the dictates of the Spirit of God are the same in both, and the principles of both are the same. You have both promised to free the people, which you may do by taking off tithes and other Antichristian yokes from upon them, and to give content to the soldiers. And I hope that when you meet together it will be for good, and not for evil.
Buff Coat : Whereas this gentleman that we have requested to come along with us hath declared some part of our resolutions with them, and we are resolved that we will have the peace of the kingdom if we can ; yet, notwithstanding, if a further guidance for the manner of procuring of it is what God shall direct unto us, I would not have you judge that we will deny that light, till that you know what we will do. No man can judge so of any man. A man cannot be called to be of a peremptory will, or self-willed, and be judged to come resolved nolens volens, till you know what he will do . We desire that better thoughts may be of us .
Lieutenant Edmund Chillenden: I hope that these gentlemen of the five regiments, their ends are good, and I hope their hearts do tend to peace ; and I shall move this : that they would willingly come to-morrow, and join with us in our counsels together. And also I shall humbly move : that, after we have sought God in the business, God will make it out to us, to see wherein we have failed, and that their being with us will conduce to that and to our vigorous proceeding in it, and that these gentlemen of the five regiments, they will manifest this same spirit by a sweet compliance in communicating counsels.
Cromwell: That which this gentleman (Everard/Buff- Coat) hath moved I like exceeding well ; he hath fully declared himself concerning the freedom of their spirit as to principles. In general they aim at peace and safety, and really I am persuaded in my conscience it is their aim to act as may be most for the good of the people ; for really if that be not the supreme good to us under God (the good of the people), our principles fall. Now if that be in your spirits and our spirits, it remains only that God show us the way, and lead us in the way ; which I hope he will. And give me leave to add that there may be some prejudices upon some of your spirits, and upon such men that do affect your way, that they may have some jealousies and apprehensions that we are wedded and glued to forms of government ; so that, whatsoever we may pretend, it is in vain for you to speak to us, or to hope for any agreement from us to you. And I believe some entertain such apprehensions as that we are engaged to secure some part of the legislative power of the kingdom where it may rest besides in the Commons of the kingdom. You will find that we are far from being so particularly engaged to anything to the prejudice of this -- further than the notorious engagements that the world takes notice of -- that we should not concur with you that the foundation and supremacy is in the people, radically in them, and to be set down by them in their representations. And if we do so concur, we may also concur how we may run to that end that we all aim at, or that that does remain within our power, and therefore let us only name the committee.
Goffe: You were pleased to say that there was something that gave you another occasion of the meeting (if it were only designed to lie upon you, I would not protest) : that which should be offered by these gentlemen. I hope that you did not conceive that any such ground did lie in my breast. (1 Goffe 's purpose is to clear himself of the suspicion of having sug- gested the prayer-meeting with any ulterior object). But I would speak this word to the quickening of us to a good hope : I am verily persuaded if God carry us out to meet sincerely, as with free spirits to open ourselves before the Lord, we may not be found going on according to our will. I desire such prejudices may be laid aside.
Allen: A meeting is intended to-morrow ; but that we may fully end, I would humbly offer to you : whether these gentlemen have a power to debate ; and if they have not, that they may have recourse to them that sent them, to see what powers they will give them, that we may offer our reasons and judgment upon the thing, and may act upon that principle upon which we agree. If we unite and agree to it, it will put on other things. When we have formally made an agreement, we must be serious in it, and to that end it is desired that we may have a full debate in it. Otherwise it will be useless, and endless, our meeting.
Cromwell: That gentleman says he will do what he can to draw all or the most of them hither to be heard to-morrow ; and I desire Mr. Wildman, that if they have any friends that are of a loving spirit, that would contribute to this business of a right understanding, they would come with him. And I say no more but this, I pray God judge between you and us when we do meet, whether we come with engaged spirits to uphold our own resolutions and opinions, or whether we shall lay down ourselves to be ruled by God and that which he shall communicate.
Rainborough: He did tell you he would improve his interest, which is as full satisfaction to what Mr. Allen says, as could be. If they shall come though not with power to do, yet I hope they will come with full power to debate. I think there needs no more.
(The report of the meeting concludes with the names of the committee appointed ((Cromwell, Ireton, Hammond, Deane ; Colonels Rainborough, Rich, Scroope, Tomlinson, Overton, Okey, Tichborne, Sir Hardress Waller; Messrs. Sexby, Allen, Lockyer, Clarke, Stenson, Underwood)), and with its terms of reference : “To confer with the Agitators of the five regiments, and such gentlemen as shall come with them, about the ‘Engagement’ now brought in, and their own declarations and engagements.' The Agitators, here mentioned, are the newly appointed Agents of the five regiments ; the ‘Engagement’ is the set of proposals (otherwise referred to as the Agreement) handed in by the Agents. Here (and elsewhere) 'Engagement' is probably Clarke's mistake.
At the meeting of the officers for calling upon God, according to the appointment of the General Council, after some discourse of Commissary Nicholas Cowling, Major White, and others --
Captain John Clarke: We have been here, as we say, seeking of God, though truly he is not far from every one of us ; and we have said in the presence of God (as out of his presence we cannot go) that we have none in heaven in comparison of him, nor none we have even in earth in comparison of him. I wish our hearts do not give us the lie, for truly had that been a truth -- I mean a truth in our carriages -- we should not have been so lost this day. Had we given ear to the inspiring word of Christ, and had we not given ourselves to the false prophet within us, certainly God would have kindled that light within us, and we should have gone on and submitted to his will, and should not have been troubled or harassed, as we are, with troubles and amazements, but must have gone with God as he hath allotted to us. The cause of every evil sought after, what is the reason that we find the light and glory of God eclipsed from our eyes this day? Truly we may find this silence within us, and let us but search our own spirits with patience, and look by the light of God within us, and we shall find that we have submitted the Spirit of God unto the candle of reason, whereas reason should have been subservient unto the Spirit of God. We are troubled when our own reasons tell us that this is the way, and we are careless to seek the way, or that true light, Christ in us, which is the way. We are apt to say, all of us, that if we seek that first (the latter first) the light will not be wanting. But truly, we have sought the first last, and therefore the first is wanting. And before this light can take place again that darkness must be re- moved -- that candle of reason, and first within us our lust which doth seduce and entice us to wander from God, must be eaten out of us by the Spirit of God, and when there is no place for lust there is place enough for the Spirit of God. If we shall with resolution and humility of spirit not say, but do, as the children of Israel used to do many times when they were in distress -- many times they cried unto the Lord ; if we shall do as we profess before God this day, that is, lay down our reason, lay down our goods, lay down all we have at the feet of God, and let God work his will in us that we may be burned with God in our spirits ; I doubt not but the appearances of God will be more glorious, and I doubt not but there will be that contentedness in spirit. We should desire no way; but wait which way God will lead us. I say, we should choose no way, but if the Spirit of God lead us, we should be ready to submit to the will of God. And therefore I desire that, since this is in order to another meeting in the after- noon, we may lay down all at the feet of God, not following our own reasons, but submitting unto that light which is lighted in us by his Spirit.
Adjutant-General Richard Deane: Motion for a meeting at this place, the Quartermaster-General's quarters, to meet Monday, the council day, from 8 till 11 , to seek God, &c.
Goffe: That which I must now desire to express to you was partly occasioned by the thoughts that I had the last night, as being indeed kept awake with them a good while ; and, hearing something that did concur with it from one that spake since we came together, I feel some weight upon my spirit to express it to you. That which was spoken enow was concerning the conjunction that is between Antichrist, or that mystery of iniquity in the world carried on by men that call themselves the church, that certainly it is with the conjunction of men in places of power or authority in the world, with. kings and great men. And truly my thoughts were much upon it this night, and it appears to me very clearly from that which God hath set down in his word in the Book of the Revelations -- which is that word that we are bid and commanded to study and to look into, being the word which God sent by his angel to John, to declare as things shortly to be done. Now certainly this work of Antichrist hath been a work of great standing, and, as it was well observed, it hath been mixed with the church, and men that call themselves the church, the clergy, mixed with men of authority. It is said in the Revelation, that the kings of the earth should give up their power unto the Beast, and the kings of the earth have given up their power to the Pope. But some places that have seemed to deny the Pope's supremacy, yet they have taken upon them that which hath been equivalent to that which the Pope himself holds forth. Truly I could bring it to this present kingdom wherein we are. 'Tis true the kings have been instruments to cast off the Pope's supremacy, but we may see if they have not put themselves into the same state. We may see it in that title which the King hath, ‘Defender of the Faith,’ but more especially in that canonical prayer which the clergy used, ‘In all causes, and over all persons, as well eccle- siastical as civil, supreme.’ Certainly, this is a mystery of iniquity. Now Jesus Christ his work in the last days is to destroy this mystery of iniquity ; and because it is so interwoven and entwisted in the interest of states, certainly in that overthrow of the mystery of iniquity by Jesus Christ, there must be great alterations of states. Now the word doth hold out in the Revela- tion, that in this work of Jesus Christ he shall have a company of Saints to follow him, such as are chosen and called and faithful. Now it is a scruple among the Saints, how far they should use the sword ; yet God hath made use of them in that work. Many of them have been employed these five or six years. Yet whatsoever God shall employ us in, I could wish this were laid to heart by us : whereas we would be called the chosen and faithful that will follow Christ wheresoever he goes, let us tremble at the thought that we should be standing in a direct opposition against Jesus Christ in the work that he is about. Let us not be twisted amongst such kind of compartings where there shall be a mystery of iniquity set up by outward power, lest we should be the instruments of giving any life or strength to that power. And I wish we may lay this to heart -- and I believe it may somewhat tend to the work by the way -- because we are to hold out the will of God for the time to come, and to be humbled for what we have done against it. Let us inquire whether some of the actions that we have done of late, some of the things that we have propounded of late, do not cross the work of God in these particulars ; because in our proposing things we do endeavour to set up that power which God would not set up again -- it hath been hinted already -- I mean in our compliance with that party which God hath engaged us to destroy. We intended nothing but civility, but I wish they were not in some measure compliances ; and, if I mistake not, there are ways which God hath laid open to us, whereby we may lay aside that compliance.
But this is not all that I would speak, because God hath called forth my spirit to unity. What we do according to the will of God will not tend to division. This I speak concerning com- pliance ; and since this may be thought to reflect upon some particular persons more than other some, so on the other hand I desire to speak something that may concern some persons that may stand, or at least may seem to stand, in direct opposition to us. And tru1y I wish we may be very wary what we do ; and let us take heed of rejecting any of the Saints of God before God rejects them. If God be pleased to show any of his servants that he hath made use of them as great instruments in his hand, and to show them, as also those that God hath blessed in them, that God hath blessed them, and that this hath been the greatest instrument of the ruin of sin and corruption in this Army, let us be wary and consider what we have to do in that kind. And I spake this the rather because I was sensible of some personal reflections that did not argue the workings of God so much as the workings of passions in us. Now the work of the Spirit is, that we do pull down all works that are not of the Spirit what- soever ; and therefore I desire that, as in the presence of God, we may take heed of all things which may tend to disunion, and that we may not despise those who may have some things in their hands to contribute for the work of God.
And there is another thing. If we have lost the opportunity of appearing against God's enemies, let us take heed, when we be sensible of God's displeasure, that we do not run before he bids us go a second time. There is a place which is very remarkable, Numbers 14, where the spies were sent to the land of Canaan ; and when they came back the hearts of the people were dis- couraged. God was displeased at this, and he discovered it in some such way as he did this day. But upon a sudden there was a party that would go up and fight against the Amalekites, and at such a time when God would not have them go up. ‘Though you did sin against the Lord in not going at first,’ says Moses, ‘yet go not now up, for the Lord is not among you, that ye be not . smitten before your enemies.’ Yet they did go up unto the hill- top, and were discomfited. I think we have sinned in that we did not show our courage and faithfulness to God. Let us not now in a kind of heat run up and say, ‘We will go now’; because it may be there is a better opportunity that God will give us. And that we may a little help us by our own experiences, let us remember how God hath dealt with this Army in our late pro- ceedings. There was some heaviness in our proceedings before the City, as was thought by some ; and it was said by many, ‘Go up, go up quickly, and do our work.’ But let us remember that God found a better season for us than if we had gone at first. Let us consider whether this be the best juncture of time for us to press on the work of God. But let us, as well, be careful not to declare against, and to throw off, some of our friends when that they would have it discovered whether God goes along with us. Let this be considered, that so we may be humbled, on the one hand, and break off all unlawful compliance with the enemies of God, so, on the other hand, we may stay, and take the company one of another, or rather the presence of God, along with us. And so for the work of the day, I wish there may be a day of union amongst us ; for it may be it is the will of God that we should wait upon him therein, to see what will be the issue of a business that is now transacted ; and if we can trust God in this strait we shall see him straight before us, if we can be of one mind. I wish this may be considered, and if there be anything of God in it, it may be received.
Mr. Robert Everard: This honourable Council hath given me great encouragement. Though I have many impediments in my speech, yet I thank you that you will hear me speak. I engaged myself yesterday to bring the men to have a debate (This identifies Everard as the ‘Buff-Coat’ of the previous debate). and for that purpose I have prosecuted these my promises, and I have been with them -- as many as I can find ; but the most of them are dispersed, so that I lost that opportunity which I would have enjoyed. But, nevertheless, I hope you will take it kindly, that those that were there are come hither, and those two friends that were with me yesterday. Our ends are that we desire, yet once more, a compliance in those things that we propounded to you, but if it shall please God to open our eyes that we can see it, we shall comply with you. For our desires are nothing but (according to our first declaration) to follow our work, to deliver the kingdom from that burden that lies upon us. For my part I am but a poor man, and unacquainted with the affairs of the kingdom ; yet this message God hath sent me to you, that there is great expectation of sudden destruction-and I would be loath to fill up that with words. We desire your joint consent to seek out some speedy way for the relief of the kingdom.
Cromwell: I think it would not be amiss that those gentlemen that are come would draw nigher.
I must offer this to your consideration : whether or no we, having set apart this morning to seek God, and to get such a preparedness of heart and spirit as might receive that that God was rninded to have imparted to us, and this having taken up all our time all this day, and it having been so late this last night as indeed it was when we brake up, and we having appointed a committee to meet together to consider of that paper, and this committee having had no time or opportunity that I know of, not so much as a meeting ; I make some scruple or doubt whether or no it is not better to adjourn the debate. I know that danger is imagined near at hand , and indeed I think it is ; but be the danger what it will, our agreement in the business is much more pressing than the pressing of any danger, so by that we do not delay too long. That which I have to offer is : whether or no we are as fit to take up such a consideration of these papers now as we might be to-morrow ; and perhaps if these gentlemen, which are but few, and that committee should meet together, and spend their time together an hour or two the remainder of this afternoon, and all this company might meet about nine or ten o'clock at furthest they might understand one another so well that we might be prepared for the general meeting, to have a more exact and particular consideration of things than we can have by a general loose debate of things which our committee, or at least many of us, have not had any, or at least not many, thoughts about.
Rainborough: Sir : I am sorry that the ill disposition of my body caused me to go to London last night, and hindered me from coming so soon this morning as to be with you in the duty you were about. But I hope that which hath been said at this time (which I hope is a truth and sent from God) will so work upon me that I shall endeavour at least to carry myself so that I may use all that interest I have, to a right and quick understanding between us. And truly, sir, to that present motion that hath been made, I confess I have nothing against it, but only the danger that lies upon us ; which truly -- if we may have leave to differ one from another -- may in a moment overcome us. I hope we shall all take to heart one word that was spoken to us by Lieutenant- Colonel Goffe, and I think that nothing will conduce so much to union as that we may have no personal reflections. I think it would have been well if the committee had met, but since all this company -- or the greatest part of them -- have been here and have joined in that duty which was on the former part of the morning, I think there is not much inconveniency that they may spend the other part of the day with us. And if we were satisfied ourselves upon debate, and yet there should be one party, or one sort of men, that are of a judgment at present contrary, or others that should come over to us, it would cost some time hereafter to know the reasons of their contrary judgment or of their coming over. And therefore I think it an advantage that it should be as public as possible, and as many as may, be present at it. The debating this thus publicly may be an advantage unto us ; and after the multitude of people that are here have been spoken to if we find that inconvenient, I do not doubt but the committee, when this company breaks up, may have two hours' time together. And therefore I should desire that, since the gentlemen and you are met together to such an end and purpose, you will follow to that end.
Everard: It is not fit, as I conceive, to dispute anything touching particular persons, for all, as I conceive, do seek the kingdom's good. Much business will be if we stand disputing the work ! I desire this honourable Council -- if it will pardon me -- to make out some speedy way for the easing of us. Let us go about the work ; no question but we shall go together. I beseech you that you will consider upon that. I believe we shall jump all in one with it, if we do not fall upon some extraordinary ways between. Some laws with us that will prick us to the heart, we must wink at them ; but let us now seek to reform such of them as we may , not that I desire that we should seek to ruinate any wholesome laws, but only such as will not stand with the wholesome peace of the kingdom.
Audley: I shall desire to second that gentleman's motion. While we debate we do nothing. I am confident that whilst you are doing you will all agree together, for it is idleness that hath begot this rust and this gangrene amongst us.
Cromwell: I think it is true. Let us be doing, but let us be united in our doing. If there remain nothing else needful but present action, let us be doing -- I mean, doing in that kind, doing in that sort. I think we need not be in council here if such kind of action, action of that nature, will serve. But if we do not rightly and clearly understand one another before we come to act, if we do not lay a foundation of action before we do act, I doubt whether we shall act unanimously or no. And seriously, as before the Lord, I knew no such end of our speech the last night, and our appointing another meeting, but in order to a more perfect understanding of one another, what we should do, and that we might be agreed upon some principles of action. And truly if I remember rightly, upon the delivery of the paper that was yesterday, this was offered, that the things that are now upon us are things of difficulty, the things are things that do deserve therefore consideration, because there might be great weight in the consequences ; and it was then offered, and I hope is still so in all our hearts, that we are not troubled with the consideration of the difficulty, nor with the consideration of anything but this : that if we do difficult things; we may see that the. things we do, have the will of God in them, that they are not only plausible and good things, but seasonable and honest things; fit for us to do. And therefore it was desired that we might con- sider, before we could come to these papers, in what condition we stood in respect of former engagements, however some may be satisfied that there lie none upon us, or none but such as it 's duty to break, it 's sin to keep. Therefore that was yesterday premised, that there may be a consideration had of them -- and I may speak it as in the presence of God, that I know nothing of any engagements, but I would see liberty in any man as I would be free from bondage to anything that should hinder me from doing my duty -- and therefore that was first in consideration. If our obligation be nothing, or if it be weak, I hope we shall receive satisfaction why it should be laid aside, and be convinced that the things. that we speak of are not obliged. And therefore, if it please you, I think it will be good for us to frame our discourse to what we were, where we are, what we are bound to, what we are free to ; and then I make no question but that this may conclude what is between us and these gentlemen, in one after-noon. I do not speak this to make obligations more than what they were before, but as before the Lord. You see what they are (producing the printed volume of Army Declarations -- A Declaration of the Engagenents, Remonstrances, Representations . . . of the Army, London, 1647 Oct. 2) ; and when we look upon them we shall see whether we have been in a wrong way, and I hope it will call upon us for the more double diligence.
Rainborough: I shall desire a word or two before that. I did exceedingly mistake myself the last night upon what we say now was then determined. I looked upon the committee as a committee to look over this paper, to see whether it were a paper that did hold forth justice and righteousness, whether it were a paper that honest men could close with. But truly I am of opinion that if we should spend ten days time in going over that book, and debate what engagements we have broke, or whether we have broke any or no, or whether we have kept our engage- ments, it would not come to the business ; neither would it prevent that evil that I think will overtake us (unless God in abundant manner prevent). Let us go the quickest way to work and not fear lest we start before we fall into the right way. And truly, sir, I have thought that the wounds of the kingdom, and the difficulties that we are fallen into, and our need of cure, is become so great that we would be willing, all of us, to heal the sore, and not to skin it over but leave it unwholesome and corrupt at the bottom. Therefore for my part I do thus conclude in my spirit -- and I could give you reasons for it, which this day I have from very good hands, but which I think it is not prudent to declare so publicly as this is ; for my own part I did say this yesterday upon another occasion : I will not say positively that we are to take the course prescribed in that paper at present, but if we do not set upon the work of settlement presently we are undone. Since in order to that there is a thing called an Agreement which the people must have subscribed, and being that is ready to our hands, I desire that you would read it and debate it, whether it be a way to deliver us yet or no ; and if it be, that you would accept it, and if not, that you would think of some other wav.
Cromwell: I shall but offer this to you. Truly I hope that we may speak our hearts freely here ; and I hope that there is not such an evil amongst us as that we could or would exercise our wits, or our cunning, to veil over any doubleness of heart that may possibly be in us. I hope, having been in such a presence as we have been in this day, we do not admit such a thought as this into our hearts. And therefore if the speaking of that we did speak before -- and to which I shall speak again, with submission to all that hear me ; if the declining to consider this paper may have with any man a working upon his spirit through any jealousy that it aims at delay ; truly I can speak it as before the Lord, it is not at all in my heart, but sincerely this is the ground of it. I know this paper doth contain many good things in it, but this is the only thing that doth stick with me, the desiring to know my freedom to this thing. Though this paper doth suggest that that may be the bottom of all our evils -- and I will not say against it because I do not think against it -- though this doth suggest the bottom of all our evils, yet for all to see ourselves free to this, all of us, so as we may unanimously join upon this, either to agree to this, or to add more to it, or to alter it as we shall agree, that is alone needful ; but, lacking it, this impedi- ment lies in our way, even if every man be satisfied with it but myself. I repeat that this is the first thing that is to be con- sidered, that we should consider in what condition we stand to our former obligations, that if we be clear we may go off clear, if not we may not go on. If I be not come off clear with what obli- gations are made, if I be not free to act to whatsoever you shall agree upon, I think this is my duty : that I should not in the least study either to retard your work or hinder it, or to act against it, but wish you as much success as if I were free to act with you. I desire we may view over our obligations and engagements, that so we may be free to act together upon honest and clear grounds, if this be -- --
Rainborough (offerng to speak): My desire -- --
Cromwell: I have but one word to prevent you in, and that is for imminent danger. It may be possibly so imminent that it may not admit of an hour's debate, nor nothing of delay. If that be so, I think that 's above all law and rule to us.
Rainborough: I would offer one word, for I think this will bring us to no issue at all. Both yesterday and to-day, and divers times, we have had cautions given us to have care of divisions. I do speak it to avoid division : that we may not at this time con- sider the engagements. If you, or any other gentlemen, are of opinion that you have not broke them, and then some others are of opinion that you have broke them, we may fall into contests which may occasion division. But if you read this, and find it not against the Engagernent, (1 The Solemn Engagement of the Army, 5th June 1647; see pp. 401-3). that will be the work. If it be not against the Engagement, you will find that in it which you will find from your engagements. And I have something to say to the particulars in it.
Cowling: I shall only offer this, the necessity of expedition if the people shall consider the necessities that they and we are in. We live now upon free-quarter, and we have that against our wills. Those that know what belongs to armies well know, none are to quarter soldiers but those that are within so many miles. And if so be too that the owner of the house should refuse to open his doors, we are prevented to pay our quarters by those that might have supplied us. I have seen this paper, and upon second reading of it I set my hand to it, that we may not lie as drones to devour their families. I am ready where I am called by my superiors. If not, the Lord be merciful to me.
Major White: (1 Perhaps an error: Major Francis White had been expelled from the Council). I should offer one word to this Council : I think it is in all our minds to deliver the kingdom ; if there be particular engagements we must lay them aside to lay down something for the public good.
Cromwell: I desire to know what the gentleman means concerning particular engagements : whether he means those that are in this book ? If those that are in this book they are the engagements of the Army. But if he means engagements personal from particular persons, let every man speak for himself. I speak for myself, I disavow all, and I am free to act, free from any such -- --
White: I conceive that if they be such as are passed by the Representative of the Army, I think the Army is bound in con- science to go on with them.
Colonel John Hewson: All the engagements that have been declared for have not been by the Representative of the Army. And whether or no that hath not been the cause of this cloud that hangs over our heads, I think if we lay our hands over our hearts we may not much mistake it.
Petty: According to your Honours' desire yesterday, I am come here to give in my reasons why I do approve of this paper, this Agreement, and to receive reasons why it should not be agreed to. For the particular engagements of the Army, I am ignorant of them, but if it please this Council I would move them to let this paper be read, that either the matter or manner of it may be debated ; and when any of the matter shall come to touch upon any engagement so as to break any engagement, that then the engagement may be shown ; and if that engagement shall prove just, and this unjust, this must be rejected, or if this just, and these engagements unjust, then they must be rejected. I desire all those that are free from it in their spirits may act farther ; and those that think themselves bound up so to acquiesce in it, that they would be pleased to rest satisfied in the actions of other men that are at liberty to act for the peace and freedom of the kingdom.
Ireton: Truly I would, if I did know of any personal, particular engagements, if I were personally or particularly engaged myself, which I profess, as in the presence of God, I know not for myself. I myself am not under any engagement in relation to that business that the great question lies upon -- I need not name it -- more than what all men know that have seen and read, and in the Army consented to, those things that were published. But if I were under any particular engagement, it should not at all stand in any other man's way. If I were under any particular engagement, I say, that I could be convinced was ill and unlawful for me to enter into, my engagement should not stand in any other man's way that would do anything that I could be convinced of to be better. And till God hath brought us all to that temper of spirit that we can be contented to be nothing in our reputations, in our esteems, in our power -- truly I may go a little higher and say, till the reputation and honour of the Army, and such things, become nothing to us, at least not so as to stand at all in the way, or allow the consideration of them to stand at all in the way, to hinder us from what we see God calling us to, or to prompt us on to what we have not a clear call from him to undertake -- we are not brought to that temper wherein I can expect any renewing of that presence of God that we have sought. And therefore, for my part, I profess first, I desire no particular engagements may be considered. If there were particular engagements of any particular man whatsoever, I desire they may not be considered so as to influence the leading of the Army one way or other, but let that man look to himself for what justice lies upon him, and what justice will follow him. Neither do I care for the engage- ments of the Army so much for the engagements' sake, but I look upon this Army as having carried with it hitherto the name of God, and having carried with it hitherto the interest of the people of God, and the interest which is God's interest, the honour of his name, the good and freedom and safety and happiness of his people. And for my part I think that it is that that is the only thing for which God hath appeared with us, and led us, and gone before us, and honoured us, and taken delight to work by us. I say, that very thing : that we have carried the name of God (and I hope not in show, but in reality), professing to act, and to work, as we have thought, in our judgments and consciences, God to lead us ; professing to act to those ends that we have thought to be answerable and suitable to the mind of God, so far as it hath been known to us. We have professed to endeavour to follow the counsels of God, and to have him president in our councils ; and I hope it hath been so in our hearts. We have professed that we have been ready to follow his guidance ; and I know it hath been so in many things against our own reasons, where we have seen evidently God calling us. And I know that we have been carried on with a confidence in him : we have made him our trust, and we have held forth his name, and we have owned his hand towards us. These are the things, I say, which God hath in some degree and measure wrought his people in this Army up to, in some degree of sincerity. And this it is (as I said before) that I account hath been the thing that God hath taken delight in, amongst us, to dwell with us, to be with us, and to appear with us, and the reason why he will manifest his presence to us. And therefore by this means, and by that appearance of God amongst us, the name and honour of God, the name and reputation of the people of God, and of that Gospel that they profess, is deeply and dearly and nearly concerned in the good or ill manage of this Army, in their good or ill carriage ; and therefore, for my part I profess it, that's the only thing to me. It is not to me so much as the vainest or lightest thing you can imagine, whether there be a king in England or no, whether there be lords in England or no. For whatever I find the work of God tending to, I should desire quietly to submit to. If God saw it good to destroy, not only King and Lords, but all distinctions of degrees -- nay if it go further, to destroy all property, that there 's no such thing left, that there be nothing at all of civil constitution left in the kingdom -- if I see the hand of God in it I hope I shall with quietness acquiesce, and submit to it, and not resist it. . But still I think that God certainly will so lead those that are his, and I hope too he will so lead this Army, that they may not incur sin, or bring scandal upon the name of God, and the name of the people of God, that are both so nearly concerned in what this Army does. And therefore it is my wish, upon those grounds that I before declared, which made the consideration of this Army dear and tender to me, that we may take heed, that we may consider first engagements, so far as they are engagements publicly of the Army. I do not speak of particular engagements ; I would not have them considered, if there be any. And secondly, I would have us consider of this : that our ways and workings and actings, and the actings of the Army, so far as the counsels of those prevail in it who have anything of the spirit of Jesus Christ, may appear suitable to that spirit. And as I would not have this Army in relation to those great concernments (as I said before : the honour of God, and the honour and good name of his people and of religion), as I would not have it to incur the scandal of neglecting engagements, and laying aside all consideration of engagements, and the scandal of juggling, and deceiving, and deluding the world, making them believe things in times of extremity which they never meant ; so I would not have us give the world occasion to think that we are the disturbers of the peace of mankind. I say, I would not give them just occasion to think so ; nay, I would have them have just cause to think that we seek peace with all men, and the good of all men, and that we seek the destruction of none -- that we can say. And in general I would wish and study, and that my heart is bent to, that the counsels of this Army may appear acted (actuated) by that wisdom that is from above, which we know how it is charactered (characterized). It is first pure, and then peaceable, and then gentle, and easy to be entreated, and we find many characters of the same wisdom, and all other fruits of the same spirit, that still run clearly that way. Therefore, I say, I wish that we may have no otherwise a consideration of engagements or anything of that nature. That which makes me press it, is chiefly that consider- ation of the concernment of the honour of God and his people in the Army ; and as I prize them so I press that in all things whatsoever, though we were free and had no engagements, we do act as Christians, as men guided by the Spirit of God, as men having that wisdom that is from above, and is so characterized. To the method of our proceeding. Having expressed what I desire may be all our cares, I cannot but think that this will be clearest, because I see it is so much pressed and insisted upon : not to read what our engagements are, but to read the paper that is presented here, and consider upon it, what good and what matter of justice and righteousness there is in it, and whether there be anything of injustice or unrighteousness, either in itself or in reference to our engagements. And so far, I think our engagements ought to be taken into consideration : that so far as we are engaged to a thing that was not unlawful to engage to (and I should be sad to think them so), we should think ourselves bound not to act contrary to those engagements. And first that we may consider of the particulars of this paper, whether they be good and just (that is not ill, not unjust) ; and then further to consider whether they be so essentially due and right as that they should be contended for, for then that is some kind of check to less engagements, and for such things, if we find any, light engagements may be cast off and not considered. But if we find any matter in them that, though it be just, though it be good (that is not ill, not unjust), is not probable to be so beneficial and advantageous (not to few, but to many), that withal we may consider whether it be so much a duty, and we be so much bound to it by the thing itself, as that no engagement can take us from it. And if we find any things that, if they be just or good, are yet not so obligatory or of such necessity to the kingdom but that the kingdom may stand without them, then I think, it being so, it is not absolutely lawful for us to act for them.
Major William Rainborough: I desire we may come to that end we all strive after. I humbly desire you will fall upon that which is the engagement of all, which is the rights and freedoms of the people, and let us see how far we have made sure to them a right and freedom, and if anything be tendered as to that in this paper. And when that engagement is gone through, then, let us consider of those things only that are of greater weight.
Ireton: The exception that lies in it is this. It is said, they are to be distributed according to the number of the inhabitants: ‘The people of England,’ &c. And this doth make me think that the meaning is, that every man that is an inhabitant is to be equally considered, and to have an equal voice in the election of those representers, the persons that are for the general Representative; and if that be the meaning, then I have something to say against it. But if it be only that those people that by the civil constitution of this kingdom, which is original and fundamental, and beyond which I am sure no memory of record does go --
Cowling, interrupting: Not before the Conquest.
Ireton: But before the Conquest it was so. If it be intended that those that by that constitution that was before the Conquest, that hath been beyond memory, such persons that have been before by that constitution the electors, should be still the electors, I have no more to say against it.
Colonel Rainborough objected: That others might have given their hands to it.
Captain Denne denied that those that were set of their regiment were their hands.
Ireton asked: Whether those men whose hands are to it, or those that brought it, do know so much of the matter as to know whether they mean that all that had a former right of election are to be electors, or that those that had no right before are to come in .
Cowling: In the time before the Conquest. Since the Conquest the greatest part of the kingdom was in vassalage.
Petty: We judge that all inhabitants that have not lost their birthright should have an equal voice in elections.
Rainborough: I desired that those that had engaged in it might be included . For really I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live, as the greatest he; and therefore truly, sir, I think it's clear, that every man that is to live under a government ought first by his own consent to put himself under that government; and I do think that the poorest man in England is not at all bound in a strict sense to that government that he hath not had a voice to put himself under; and I am confident that, when I have heard the reasons against it, something will be said to answer those reasons, insomuch that I should doubt whether he was an Englishman or no, that should doubt of these things.
Ireton: That’s the meaning of this, ‘according to the number of the inhabitants’?
Give me leave to tell you, that if you make this the rule I think you must fly for refuge to an absolute natural right, and you must deny all civil right; and I am sure it will come to that in the consequence. This, I perceive, is pressed as that which is so essential and due: the right of the people of this kingdom, and as they are the people of this kingdom, distinct and divided from other people, and that we must for this right lay aside all other considerations; this is so just, this is so due, this is so right to them. And that those that they do thus choose must have such a power of binding all, and loosing all, according to those limitations, this is pressed as so due, and so just, as it is argued, that it is an engagement paramount to all others: and you must for it lay aside all others; if you have engaged any otherwise, you must -break it. We must so look upon these as thus held out to us; so it was held out by the gentleman that brought it yesterday. For my part, I think it is no right at all. I think that no person hath a right to an interest or share in the disposing of the affairs of the kingdom, and in determining or choosing those that shall determine what laws we shall be ruled by here -- no person hath a right to this, that hath not a permanent fixed interest in this kingdom, and those persons together are properly the represented of this kingdom, and consequently are also to make up the representers of this kingdom, who taken together do comprehend whatsoever is of real or permanent interest in the kingdom. And I am sure otherwise I cannot tell what any man can say why a foreigner coming in amongst us -- or as many as will coming in amongst us, or by force or otherwise settling themselves here, or at least by our permission having a being here -- why they should not as well lay claim to it as any other. We talk of birthright. Truly by birthright there is thus much claim. Men may justly have by birthright, by their very being born in England, that we should not seclude them out of England, that we should not refuse to give them air and place and ground, and the freedom of the highways and other things, to live amongst us -- not any man that is born here, though by his birth there come nothing at all that is part of the permanent interest of this kingdom to him. That I think is due to a man by birth. But that by a man's being born here he shall have a share in that power that shall dispose of the lands here, and of all things here, I do not think it a sufficient ground. I am sure if we look upon that which is the utmost (within any man's view) of what was originally the constitution of this kingdom, upon that which is most radical and fundamental, and which if you take away, there is no man hath any land, any goods, or any civil interest, that is this: that those that choose the representers for the making of laws by which this state and kingdom are to be governed, are the persons who, taken together, do comprehend the local interest of this kingdom; that is, the persons in whom all land lies, and those in corporations in whom all trading lies. This is the most fundamental constitution of this kingdom and that which if you do not allow, you allow none at all. This constitution hath limited and determined it that only those shall have voices in elections. It is true, as was said by a gentleman near me, the meanest man in England ought to have a voice in the election of the government he lives under -- but only if he has some local interest. I say this: that those that have the meanest local interest -- that man that hath but forty shillings a year, he hath as great voice in the election of a knight for the shire as he that hath ten thousand a year, or more if he had never so much; and therefore there is that regard had to it. But this local interest, still the constitution of this government hath had an eye to (and what other government hath not an eye to this?). It doth not relate to the interest of the kingdom if it do not lay the foundation of the power that’s given to the representers, in those who have a permanent and a local interest in the kingdom, and who taken all together do comprehend the whole interest of the kingdom. There is all the reason and justice that can be, in this: if I will come to live in a kingdom, being a foreigner to it, or live in a kingdom, having no permanent interest in it, and if I will desire as a stranger, or claim as one freeborn here, the air, the free passage of highways, the protection of laws, and all such things if I will either desire them or claim them, then I (if I have no permanent interest in that kingdom) must submit to those laws and those rules which they shall choose, who, taken together, do comprehend the whole interest of the kingdom. And if we shall go to take away this, we shall plainly go to take away all property and interest that any man hath either in land by inheritance, or in estate by possession, or any- thing else -- I say , if you take away this fundamental part of the civil constitution.
Rainborough: Truly, sir, I am of the same opinion I was, and am resolved to keep it till I know reason why I should not. I confess my memory is bad, and therefore I am fain to make use of my pen. I remember that, in a former speech which this gentleman brought before this meeting, he was saying that in some cases he should not value whether there were a king or no king, whether lords or no lords, whether a property or no property. For my part I differ in that. I do very much care whether there be a king or no king, lords or no lords, property or no property; and I think, if we do not all take care, we shall all have none of these very shortly. But as to this present business. I do hear nothing at all that can convince me, why any man that is born in England ought not to have his voice in election of burgesses. It is said that if a man have not a permanent interest, he can have no claim; and that we must be no freer than the laws will let us be, and that there is no law in any chronicle will let us be freer than that we now enjoy. Something was said to this yesterday. I do think that the main cause why Almighty God gave men reason, it was that they should make use of that reason, and that they should improve it for that end and purpose that God gave it them. And truly, I think that half a loaf is better than none if a man be anhungry: this gift of reason without other property may seem a small thing, yet I think there is nothing that God hath given a man that any one else can take from him. And therefore I say, that either it must be the Law of God or the law of man that must prohibit the meanest man in the kingdom to have this benefit as well as the greatest. I do not find anything in the Law of God, that a lord shall choose twenty burgesses, and a gentleman but two, or a poor man shall choose none: I find no such thing in the Law of Nature, nor in the Law of Nations. But I do find that all Englishmen must be subject to English laws, and I do verily believe that there is no man but will say that the foundation of all law lies in the people, and if it lie in the people, I am to seek for this exemption.
And truly I have thought something else: in what a miserable distressed condition would many a man that hath fought for the Parliament in this quarrel, be! I will be bound to say that many a man whose zeal and affection to God and this kingdom hath carried him forth in this cause, hath so spent his estate that, in the way the state and the Army are going, he shall not hold up his head, if when his estate is lost, and not worth forty shillings a year, a man shall not have any interest. And there are many other ways by which the estates men have (if that be the rule which God in his providence does use) do fall to decay. A man, when he hath an estate, hath an interest in making laws, but when he hath none, he hath no power in it; so that a man cannot lose that which he hath for the maintenance of his family but he must also lose that which God and nature hath given him! And therefore I do think, and am still of the same opinion, that every man born in England cannot, ought not, neither by the Law of God nor the Law of Nature, to be exempted from the choice of those who are to make laws for him to live under, and for him, for aught I know, to lose his life under. And therefore I think there can be no great stick in this.
Truly I think that there is not this day reigning in England a greater fruit or effect of tyranny than this very thing would produce. Truly I know nothing free but only the knight of the shire, nor do I know anything in a parliamentary way that is clear from the height and fulness of tyranny, but only that. As for this of corporations which you also mentioned, it is as contrary to freedom as may be. For, .sir, what is it? The King he grants a patent under the Broad Seal of England to such a corporation to send burgesses, he grants to such a city to send burgesses. When a poor base corporation from the King's grant shall send two burgesses, when five hundred men of estate shall not send one, when those that are to make their laws are called by the King, or cannot act but by such a call, truly I think that the people of England have little freedom.
Ireton: I think there was nothing that I said to give you occasion to think that I did contend for this, that such a corporation as that should have the electing of a man to the Parliament. I think I agreed to this matter, that all should be equally distributed. But the question is, whether it should be distributed to all persons, or whether the same persons that are the electors now should be the electors still, and it be equally distributed amongst them. I do not see anybody else that makes this objection; and if nobody else be sensible of it I shall soon have done. Only I shall a little crave your leave to represent the consequences of it, and clear myself from one thing that was misrepresented by the gentleman that sat next me. I think, if the gentleman remember himself, he cannot but remember that what I said was to this effect: that if I saw the hand of God leading so far as to destroy King, and destroy Lords, and destroy property, and leave no such thing at all amongst us, I should acquiesce in it; and so I did not care, if no king, no lords, or no property should be, in comparison of the tender care that I have of the honour of God, and of the people of God, whose good name is so much con- cerned in this Army. This I did deliver so, and not absolutely. All the main thing that I speak for, is because I would have an eye to property. I hope we do not come to contend for victory -- but let every man consider with himself that he do not go that way to take away all property. For here is the case of the most fundamental part of the constitution of the kingdom, which if you take away, you take away all by that. Here men of this and this quality are determined to be the electors of men to the Parliament, and they are all those who have any permanent interest in the kingdom, and who, taken together, do comprehend the whole permanent, local interest of the kingdom. I mean by permanent and local, that it is not able to be removed any- where else. As for instance, he that hath a freehold, and that freehold cannot be removed out of the kingdom; and so there’s a freeman of a corporation, a place which hath the privilege of a market and trading, which if you should allow to all places equally, I do not see haw you could preserve any peace in the kingdom, and that is the reason why in the constitution we have but some few market towns. Now those people that have free- holds and those that are the freemen of corporations, were looked upon by the former constitution to comprehend the permanent interest of the kingdom. For first, he that hath his livelihood by his trade, and by his freedom of trading in such a corporation, which he cannot exercise in another, he is tied to that place, for his livelihood depends upon it. And secondly, that man hath an interest, hath a permanent interest there, upon which he may live, and live a freeman without dependence. These things the constitution of this kingdom hath looked at. Now I wish we may all consider of what right you will challenge that all the people should have right to elections. Is it by the right of nature? If you will hold forth that as your ground, then I think you must deny all property too, and this is my reason. For thus: by that same right of nature whatever it be that you pretend, by which you can say, one man hath an equal right with another to the choosing of him that shall govern him -- by the same right of nature, he hath the same equal right in any goods he sees-meat, drink, clothes -- to take and use them for his sustenance. He hath a freedom to the land, to take the ground, to exercise it, till it; he hath the same freedom to anything that any one doth account himself to have any propriety in. Why now I say then, if you, against the most fundamental part of the civil constitution (which I have now declared), will plead the Law of Nature, that a man should (paramount to this, and contrary to this) have a power of choosing those men that shall determine what shall be law in this state, though he himself have no permanent interest in the state, but whatever interest he hath he may carry about with him -- if this be allowed, because by the right of nature we are free, we are equal, one man must have as much voice as another, then show me what step or difference there is, why I may not by the same right take your property, though not of necessity to sustain nature. It is for my better being, and the better settlement of the kingdom? Possibly not for it neither: possibly I may not have so real a regard to the peace of the kingdom as that man who hath a permanent interest in it. He that is here to-day, and gone to-morrow, I do not see that he hath such a permanent interest. Since you cannot plead to it by anything but the Law oF Nature, or for anything but for the end of better being, and since that better being is not certain, and what is more, destructive to another; upon these grounds, if you do, paramount to all constitutions, hold up this Law of Nature, I would fain have any man show me their bounds, where you will end, and why you should not take away all property.
Rainborough: I shall now be a little more free and open with you than I was before. I wish we were all true-hearted, and that we did all carry ourselves with integrity. If I did mistrust you I would not use such asseverations. I think it doth go on mistrust, and things are thought too readily matters of reflection, that were never intended. For my part, as I think, you forgot something that was in my speech, and you do not only yourselves believe that some men are inclining to anarchy, but you would make all men believe that. And, sir, to say because a man pleads that every man hath a voice by right of nature, that therefore it destroys by the same argument all property -- this is to forget the Law of God. That there’s a property, the Law of God says it; else why hath God made that law, Thou shalt not steal? I am a poor man, therefore I must be oppressed: if I have no interest in the kingdom, I must suffer by all their laws be they right or wrong. Nay thus: a gentleman lives in a country and hath three or four lordships, as some men have (God knows how they got them); and when a Parliament is called he must be a Parliament-man; and it may be he sees some poor men, they live near this man, he can crush them -- I have known an invasion to make sure he hath turned the poor men out of doors; and I would fain know whether the potency of rich men do not this, and so keep them under the greatest tyranny that was ever thought of in the world. And therefore I think that to that it is fully answered: God hath set down that thing as to propriety with this law of his, Thou shalt not steal. And for my part I am against any such thought, and, as for yourselves, I wish you would not make the world believe that we are for anarchy.
Cromwell: I know nothing but this, that they that are the most yielding have the greatest wisdom; but really, sir, this is not right as it should be. No man says that you have a mind to anarchy, but that the consequence of this rule tends to anarchy, must end in anarchy; for where is there any bound or limit set if you take away this limit , that men that have no interest but the interest of breathing shall have no voice in elections? Therefore I am confident on 't, we should not be so hot one with another.
Rainborough: I know that some particular men we debate with believe we are for anarchy.
Ireton: I profess I must clear myself as to that point. I would not desire, I cannot allow myself, to lay the least scandal upon anybody. And truly, for that gentleman that did take so much offence, I do not know why he should take it so. We speak to the paper -- not to persons -- and to the matter of the paper. And I hope that no man is so much engaged to the matter of the paper -- I hope that our persons, and our hearts and judgments, are not so pinned to papers but that we are ready to hear what good or ill consequence will flow from it.
I have, with as much plainness and clearness of reason as I could, showed you how I did conceive the doing of this that the paper advocates takes away that which is the most original, the most fundamental civil constitution of this kingdom, and which is, above all, that constitution by which I have any property. If you will take away that and set up, as a thing paramount, whatever a man may claim by the Law of Nature, though it be not a thing of neces- sity to him for the sustenance of nature; if you do make this your rule, I desire clearly to understand where then remains property.
Now then -- I would misrepresent nothing -- the answer which had anything of matter in it, the great and main answer upon which that which hath been said against this objection rests, seemed to be that it will not make a breach of property for this reason: that there is a law, Thou shalt not steal. But the same law says, Honour thy father and thy mother, and that law doth likewise hold out that it doth extend to all that in that place where we are in are our governors; so that by that there is a forbidding of breaking a civil law when we may live quietly under it, and that by a divine law. Again it is said -- indeed was said before -- that there is no law, no divine law, that tells us that such a corporation must have the election of burgesses, such a shire of knights, or the like. Divine law extends not to particular things. And so, on the other side, if a man were to demonstrate his right to property by divine law, it would be very remote. Our right to property descends from other things, as well as our right of sending burgesses. That divine law doth not determine particulars but generals in relation to man and man, and to property, and all things else: and we should be as far to seek if we should go to prove a property in a thing by divine law, as to prove that I have an interest in choosing burgesses of the Parliament by divine law. And truly, under favour, I refer it to all, whether there be anything of solution to that objection that I made, if it be understood -- I submit it to any man's judgment.
Rainborough: To the thing itself-property in the franchise .I would fain know how it comes to be the property of some men, and not of others. As for estates and those kind of things, and other things that belong to men, it will be granted that they are property; but I deny that that is a property, to a lord, to a gentle- man, to any man more than another in the kingdom of England. If it be a property, it is a property by a law-neither do I think that there is very little property in this thing by the law of the land, because I think that the law of the land in that thing is the most tyrannical law under heaven. And I would fain know what we have fought for. For our laws and liberties? And this is the old law of England -- and that which enslaves the people of England -- that they should be bound by laws in which they have no voice at all! With respect to the divine law which says Honour thy father and thy mother the great dispute is, who is a right father and a right mother? I am bound to know who is my father and mother; and -- I take it in the same sense you do -- I would have a distinction, a character whereby God commands me to honour them. And for my part I look upon the people of England so, that wherein they have not voices in the choosing of their governors -- their civil fathers and mothers-they are not bound to that commandment.
Petty: I desire to add one word concerning the word property. It is for something that anarchy is so much talked of. For my own part I cannot believe in the least that it can be clearly derived from that paper. 'Tis true, that somewhat may be derived in the paper against the King, the power of the King, and somewhat against the power of the Lords; and the truth is when I shall see God going about to throw down King and Lords and property, then I shall be contented. But I hope that they may live to see the power of the King and the Lords thrown down, that yet may live to see property preserved. And for this of changing the Representative of the nation, of changing those that choose the Representative, making of them more full, taking more into the number than formerly, I had verily thought we had all agreed in it that more should have chosen -- all that had desired a more equal representation than we now have. For now those only choose who have forty shillings freehold. A man may have a lease for one hundred pounds a year, a man may have a lease for three lives, but he has no voice . But as for this argument , that it destroys all right to property that every Englishman that is an inhabitant of England should choose and have a voice in the representatives, I suppose it is, on the contrary, the only means to preserve all property. For I judge every man is naturally free; and I judge the reason why men chose representatives when they were in so great numbers that every man could not give his voice directly was that they who were chosen might preserve property for all; and therefore men agreed to come into some form of government that they might preserve property, and I would fain know, if we were to begin a government, whether you would say, ‘You have not forty shillings a year, therefore you shall not have a voice.’ Whereas before there was a government every man had such a voice, and afterwards, and for this very cause, they did choose representatives, and put themselves into forms of government that they may preserve property, and therefore it is not to destroy it, to give every man a voice.
Ireton: I think we shall not be so apt to come to a right understanding in this business, if one man, and another man, and another man do speak their several thoughts and conceptions to the same purpose, as if we do consider where the objection lies, and what the answer is which is made to it; and therefore I desire we may do so. To that which this gentleman spake last. The main thing that he seemed to answer was this: that he would make it appear that the going about to establish this government, or such a government is not a destruction of property, nor does not tend to the destruction of property, because the people's falling into a government is for the preservation of property. What weight there is in it lies in this: since there is a falling into a government, and government is to preserve property, therefore this cannot be against property. The objection does not lie in that, the making of the representation more equal, but in the introducing of men into an equality of interest in this government, who have no property in this kingdom, or who have no local permanent interest in it. For if I had said that I would not wish at all that we should have any enlargement of the bounds of those that are to be the electors, then you might have excepted against it. But what I said was that I would not go to enlarge it beyond all bounds, so that upon the same ground you may admit of so many men from foreign states as would outvote you. The objection lies still in this. I do not mean that I would have it restrained to that proportion that now obtains, but to restrain it still to men who have a local, a permanent interest in the kingdom, who have such an interest that they may live upon it as freeman, and who have such an interest as is fixed upon a place, and is not the same equally everywhere. If a man be an inhabitant upon a rack rent for a year, for two years, or twenty years, you cannot think that man hath any fixed or permanent interest. That man, if he pay the rent that his land is worth, and hath no advantage but what he hath by his land, is as good a man, may have as much interest, in another kingdom as here. I do not speak of not enlarging this representation at all, but of keeping this to the most fundamental constitution in this kingdom, that is, that no person that hath not a local and permanent interest in the kingdom should have an equal dependence in election with those that have . But if you go beyond this law, if you admit any man that hath a breath and being, I did show you how this will destroy property. It may come to destroy property thus. You may have such men chosen, or at least the major part of them, as have no local and permanent interest. Why may not those men vote against all property? Again you may admit strangers by this rule, if you admit them once to inhabit, and those that have interest in the land may be voted out of their land. It may destroy property that way. But here is the rule that you go by. You infer this to be the right of the people, of every inhabitant because man hath such a right in nature, though it be not of necessity for the preserving of his being; and therefore you are to overthrow the most fundamental constitution for this. By the same rule, show me why you will not, by the same right of nature, make use of anything that any man hath, though it be not for the necessary sustenance of men. Show me what you will stop at; wherein you will fence any man in a property by this rule.
Rainborough: I desire to know how this comes to be a property in some men, and not in others.
Colonel Nathaniel Rich: I confess there is weight in that objection that the Commissary-General last insisted upon; for you have five to one in this kindom that have no permanent interest. Some men have ten, some twenty servants, some more, some less. If the master and servant shall be equal electors, then clearly those that have no interest in the kingdom will make it their interest to choose those that have no interest. It may happen, that the majority may by law, not in a confusion, destroy property; there may be a law enacted, that there shall be an equality of goods and estate.(Possibly someone interrupts to object that now only the rich are chosen). I think that either of the extremes may be urged to inconveniency; that is, that men that have no interest as to estate should have no interest as to election and that they should. have an equal interest. But there may be a more equitable division and distribution than that he that hath nothing should have an equal voice; and certainly there may be some other way thought of, that there may be a representative of the poor as well as the rich, and not to exclude all. I remember there were many workings and revolutions, as we have heard, in the Roman Senate; and there was never a confusion that did appear (and that indeed was come to) till the state came to know this kind of distribution of election. That is how the people’s voices were bought and sold, and that by the poor; and thence it came that he that was the richest man, and a man of some considerable power among the soldiers, and one they resolved on, made himself a perpetual dictator. And if we strain too far to avoid monarchy in kings let us take heed that we do not call for emperors to deliver us from more than one tyrant.
Rainborough: I should not have spoken again. I think it is a fine gilded pill. But there is much danger, and it may seem to some that there is some kind of remedy possible. I think that we are better as we are if it can be really proved that the poor shall choose many and still the people be in the same case, be over-voted still. But of this, and much else, I am unsatisfied, and therefore truly, sir, I should desire to go close to the business; and the first thing that I am unsatisfied in is how it comes about that there is such a propriety in some freeborn Englishmen, and not in others.
Cowling demanded: Whether the younger son have not as much right to the inheritance as the eldest.
Ireton: Will you decide it by the light of nature?
Cowling: Why election was given only to those with free-holds of forty shillings a year (which was then worth more than forty pounds a year now), the reason. was: that the Commons of England were overpowered by the Lords, who had abundance of vassals, but that still they might make their laws good against encroaching prerogatives by this means; therefore they did exclude all slaves. Now the case is not so: all slaves have bought their freedoms, and they are more free that in the commonwealth are more beneficial. Yet there are men of substance in the country with no voice in elections. There is a tanner in Staines worth three thousand pounds, and another in Reading worth three horseskins. The second has a voice; the first, none.
Ireton: In the beginning of your speech you seem to acknowledge that by law, by civil constitution, the propriety of having voices in election was fixed in certain persons. So then your exception of your argument does not prove that by civil constitution they have no such propriety, but your argument does acknowledge that by civil constitution they have such propriety. You argue against this law only that this law is not good.
Wildman: Unless I be very much mistaken we are very much deviated from the first question. Instead of following the first proposition to inquire what is just, I conceive we look to pro- phecies, and look to what may be the event, and judge of the justness of a thing by the consequence. I desire we may recall ourselves to the question whether it be right or no. I conceive all that hath been said against it will be reduced to this question of consequences, and to another reason -- that it is against a fundamental law, that every person choosing ought to have a permanent interest, because it is not fit that those should choose Parliaments that have no lands to be disposed of by Parliament.
Ireton: If you will take it by the way, it is not fit that the representees should choose as the representers, or the persons who shall make the law in the kingdom, those who have not a permanent fixed interest in the kingdom. The reason is the same in the two cases.
Wildman: Sir, I do so take it; and I conceive that that is brought in for the same reason: that foreigners might otherwise not only come to have a voice in our elections as well as the native inhabitants, but to be elected.
Ireton: That is upon supposition that these foreigners should be all inhabitants.
Wildman: I shall begin with the last first. The case is different with the native inhabitant and the foreigner. If a foreigner shall be admitted to be an inhabitant in the nation, so he will submit to that form of government as the natives do, he hath the same right as the natives but in this particular. Our case is to be considered thus, that we have been under slavery. That’s acknowledged by all. Our very laws were made by our conquerors; and whereas it’s spoken much of chronicles, I conceive there is no credit to be given to any of them; and the reason is because those that were our lords, and made us their vassals, would suffer nothing else to be chronicled. We are now engaged for our freedom. That’s the end of Parliaments: not to constitute what is already established, but to act according to the just rules of government. Every person in England hath as clear a right to elect his representative as the greatest person in England. I conceive that’s the undeniable maxim of government: that all government is in the free consent of the people. If so, then upon that account there is no person that is under a just government, or hath justly his own, unless he by his own free consent be put under that government. This he cannot be unless he be consenting to it, and therefore, according to this maxim, there is never a person in England but ought to have a voice in elections. If this, as that gentleman says, be true, there are no laws that in this strictness and rigour of justice any man is bound to, that are not made by those whom he doth consent to. And therefore I should humbly move, that if the question be stated-which would soonest bring things to an issue -- it might rather be thus: Whether any person can justly be bound by law, who doth not give his consent that such persons shall make laws for him?
Ireton: Let the question be so: Whether a man can be bound to any law that he doth not consent to? And I shall tell you, that he may and ought to be bound to a law that he doth not give a consent to, nor doth not choose any to consent to; and I will make it clear. If a foreigner come within this kingdom, if that stranger will have liberty to dwell here who hath no local interest here, he, as a man, it’s true, hath air, the passage of highways, the protection of laws, and all that by nature; we must not expel him our coasts, give him no being amongst us, nor kill him because he comes upon our land, comes up our stream, arrives at our shore. It is a piece of hospitality, of humanity, to receive that man amongst us. But if that man be received to a being amongst us, I think that man may very well be content to submit himself to the law of the land; that is, the law that is made by those people that have a property, a fixed property, in the land. I think, if any man will receive protection from this people though neither he nor his ancestors, not any betwixt him and Adam, did ever give concurrence to this constitution, I think this man ought to be subject to those laws, and to be bound by those laws, so long as he continues amongst them. That is my opinion. A man ought to be subject to a law, that did not give his consent, but with this reservation, that if this man do think himself unsatisfied to be subject to this law he may go into another kingdom. And so the same reason doth extend, in my understanding, to that man that hath no permanent interest in the kingdom. If he hath money, his money is as good in another place as here; he hath nothing that doth locally fix him to this kingdom. If that man will live in this kingdom, or trade amongst us, that man ought to subject himself to the law made by the people who have the interest of this kingdom in them. And yet I do acknowledge that which you take to be so general a maxim that in every kingdom, within every land, the original of power of making laws, of determining what shall be law in the land, does lie in the people-but by the people is meant those that are possessed of the permanent interest in the land. But whoever is extraneous to this, that is, as good a man in another land, that man ought to give such a respect to the property of men that live in the land. They do not determine that I shall live in this land. Why should I have any interest in determining what shall be the law of this land?
Major William Rainborough: I think if it can be made to appear that it is a just and reasonable thing, and that it is for the preservation of all the native freeborn men, that they should have an equal voice in election -- I think it ought to be made good unto them. And the reason is: that the chief end of this govern- ment is to preserve persons as well as estates, and if any law shall take hold of my person it is more dear than my estate.
Colonel Rainborough: I do very well remember that the gentleman in the window (Colonel Rich) said that, if it were so, there were no propriety to be had, because five parts of the nation, the poor people, are now excluded and would then come in. So one on the other side said that , if it were otherwise, then rich men only shall be chosen. Then, I say, the one part shall make hewers of wood and drawers of water of the other five, and so the greatest part of the nation be enslaved. Truly I think we are still where we were; and I do not hear any argument given but only that it is the present law of the kingdom. I say still, what shall become of those many men that have laid out themselves for the Parliament of England in this present war, that have ruined themselves by fighting, by hazarding all they had? They are Englishmen. They have now nothing to say for themselves.
Rich: I should be very sorry to speak anything here that should give offence, or that may occasion personal reflections that we spoke against just now. I did not urge anything so far as was represented, and I did not at all urge that there should be a consideration had of rich men, and that a man that is poor shall be without consideration, or that he deserves to be made poorer and not to live in independence at all. But all that I urged was this: that I think it worthy consideration, whether they should have an equality in their interest. However, I think we have been a great while upon this point, and if we be as long upon all the rest, it were well if there were no greater diference than this.
Mr. Hugh Peter: I think that this matter of the franchise may be easily agreed on -- that is, there may be a way thought of. I think you would do well to set up all night if thereby you could effect it, but I think that three or four might be thought of in this company to form a committee. You will be forced only to put characters upon electors or elected; therefore I do suppose that if there be any here that can make up a Representative to your mind, the thing is gained. But I would fain know whether that will answer the work of your meeting. The question is whether you can state any one question for removing the present danger of the kingdom, whether any one question or no will dispatch the work.
Sir, I desire, if it be possible, that some question may be stated to finish the present work, to cement us in the points wherein lies the distance; and if the thoughts be of the commonwealth and the people's freedom, I think that’s soon cured. I desire that all manner of plainness may be used, that we may not go on with the lapwing and carry one another off the nest. There is something else that must cement us where the awkwardness of our spirits lies.
Rainborough: For my part, I think we cannot engage one way or other in the Army if we do not think of the people's liberties. If we can agree where the liberty and freedom of the people lies, that will do all.
Ireton: I cannot consent so far. As I said before: when I see the hand of God destroying King, and Lords, and Commons too, or any foundation of human constitution, when I see God hath done it, I shall, I hope, comfortably acquiesce in it. But first, I cannot give my consent to it, because it is not good. And secondly, as I desire that this Army should have regard to engage- ments wherever they are lawful, so I would have them have regard to this as well: that they should not bring that scandal upon the name of God and the Saints, that those that call themselves by that name, those whom God hath owned and appeared with -- that we should represent ourselves to the world as men so far from being of that peaceable spirit which is suitable to the Gospel, as we should have bought peace of the world upon such terms -- as we would not have peace in the world but upon such terms -- as should destroy all property. If the principle upon which you move this alteration, or the ground upon which you press that we should make this alteration, do destroy all kind of property or whatsoever a man hath by human constitution, I cannot consent to it. The Law of God doth not give me property, nor the Law of Nature, but property is of human constitution. I have a property and this I shall enjoy. Constitution founds property. If either the thing itself that you press or the consequence of that you press do destroy property, though I shall acquiesce in having no property, yet I cannot give my heart or hand to it; because it is a thing evil in itself and scandalous to the world, and I desire this Army may be free from both.
Sexby: I see that though liberty were our end, there is a degeneration from it. We have engaged in this kingdom and ventured our lives, and it was all for this: to recover our birthrights and privileges as Englishmen; and by the arguments urged there is none. There are many thousands of us soldiers that have ventured our lives; we have had little propriety in the kingdom as to our estates, yet we have had a birthright. But it seems now, except a man hath a fixed estate in this kingdom, he hath no right in this kingdom. I wonder we were so much deceived. If we had not a right to the kingdom, we were mere mercenary soldiers. There are many in my condition, that have as good a condition as I have; it may be little estate they have at present, and yet they have as much a birthright as those two (probably a reference to Cromwell and Ireton) who are their law-givers, as any in this place. I shall tell you in a word my resolu-tion. I am resolved to give my birthright to none. Whatsoever may come in the way, and whatsoever may be thought, I will give it to none. If this thing be denied the poor, that with so much pressing after they have sought, it will be the greatest scandal. There was one thing spoken to this effect: that if the poor and those in low condition were given their birthright. it would be the destruction of this kingdom. I think this was but a distrust of Providence. I do think the poor and meaner of this kingdom -- I speak as in relation to the condition of soldiers, in which we are -- have been the means of the preservation of this kingdom. I say, in their stations, and really I think to their utmost possibility; and their lives have not been held dear for purchasing the good of the kingdom. And now they demand the birthright for which they fought. Those that act to this end are as free from anarchy or confusion as those that oppose it, and they have the Law of God and the law of their conscience with them. But truly I shall only sum up in this. I desire that we may not spend so much time upon these things. We must be plain. When men come to understand these things, they will not lose that which they have contended for. That which I shall beseech you is to come to a determination of this question.
Ireton: I am very sorry we are come to this point, that from reasoning one to another we should come to express our resolutions. I profess for my part, what I see is good for the kingdom and becoming a Christian to contend for, I hope through God I shall have strength and resolution to do my part towards it. And yet I will profess direct contrary in some kind to what that gentleman said. For my part, rather than I will make a dis- turbance to a good constitution of a kingdom wherein I may live in godliness and honesty, and peace and quietness, I will part with a great deal of my birthright. I will part with my own property rather than I will be the man that shall make a disturbance in the kingdom for my property; and therefore if all the people in this kingdom, or the representatives of them all together, should meet and should give away my property I would submit to it, I would give it away. But that gentleman, and I think every Christian, ought to bear that spirit, to carry that in him, that he will not make a public disturbance upon a private prejudice.
Now let us consider where our difference lies. We all agree that you should have a Representative to govern, and this Representative to be as equal as you can make it. But the question is, whether this distribution can be made to all persons equally, or whether only amongst those equals that have the interest of England in them. That which I have declared is my opinion still. I think we ought to keep to that constitution which we have now, both because it is a civil constitution -- it is the most fundamental constitution that we have -- and because there is so much justice and reason and prudence in it -- as I dare confidently undertake to demonstrate -- that there are many more evils that will follow in case you do alter it than there can be in the standing of it. But I say but this in the general, that I do wish that they that talk of birthrights -- we any of us when we talk of birthrights -- would consider what really our birthright is.
If a man mean by birthright, whatsoever I can challenge by the Law of Nature (suppose there were no constitution at all no civil law and no civil constitution), and that that I am to contend for against constitution; then you leave no property, nor no foundation for any man to enjoy anything. But if you call that your birthright which is the most fundamental part of your constitution, then let him perish that goes about to hinder you or any man of the least part of your birthright, or will desire to do it. But if you will lay aside the most fundamental constitu- tion, which is as good, for aught you can discern, as anything you can propose -- at least it is a constitution, and I will give you consequence for consequence of good upon that constitution as you can give upon your birthright without it -- and if you merely upon pretence of a birthright, of the right of nature, which is only true as for your being, and not for your better being; if you will upon that ground pretend that this constitution, the most fundamental constitution, the thing that hath reason and equity in it, shall not stand in your way, it is the same principle to me, say I, as if but for your better satisfaction you shall take hold of anything that another man calls his own.
Rainborough: Sir, I see that it is impossible to have liberty but all property must be taken away. If it be laid down for a rule, and if you will say it, it must be so. But I would fain know what the soldier hath fought for all this while? He hath fought to enslave himself, to give power to men of riches, men of estates, to make him a perpetual slave. We do find in all presses that go forth none must be pressed that are freehold men. When these gentlemen fall out among themselves they shall press the poor scrubs to come and kill one another for them.
Ireton: I confess I see so much right in the business that I am not easily satisfied with flourishes. If you will not lay the stress of the business upon the consideration of reason, or right relating to anything of human constitution, or anything of that nature, but will put it upon consequences, I will show you greater ill consequences -- I see enough to say that, to my apprehensions, I can show you greater ill consequences to follow upon that alteration which you would have, by extending voices to all that have a being in this kingdom, than any that can come by this present constitution, a great deal. That that you urge of the present constitution is a particular ill consequence. This that I object against your proposal is a general ill consequence, and this is as great as that or any ill consequence else whatsoever, though I think you will see that the validity of that argument must be that for one ill that lies upon that which now is, I can show you a thousand upon this that you propose.
Give me leave to say but this one word. I will tell you what the soldier of the kingdom hath fought for. First, the danger that we stood in was that one man's will must be a law. The people of the kingdom must have this right at least, that they should not be concluded but by the Representative of those that had the interest of the kingdom. Some men fought in this, because they were immediately concerned and engaged in it. Other men who had no other interest in the kingdom but this, that they should have the benefit of those laws made by the Representative, yet fought that they should have the benefit of this Representative. They thought it was better to be concluded by the common consent of those that were fixed men, and settled men, that had the interest of this kingdom in them . ‘And from that way,’ said they, ‘I shall know a law and have a certainty.’ Every man that was born in the country, that is a denizen in it, that hath a freedom, he was capable of trading to get money to get estates by; and therefore this man, I think, had a great deal of reason to build up such a foundation of interest to himself: that is, that the will of one man should not be a law, but that the law of this kingdom should be by a choice of persons to represent, and that choice to be made by, the generality of the kingdom. Here was a right that induced men to fight, and those men that had this interest, though this be not the utmost interest that other men have, yet they had some interest. Now tell me why we should go to plead whatsoever we can challenge by the right of nature against whatsoever any man can challenge by constitution. I do not see here that man will stop, as to point of property, so that he shall not use against other property that right he hath claimed by the Law of Nature against that constitution. I desire any man to show me where there is a difference. I have been answered, ‘Now we see liberty cannot stand without destroying property.’ Liberty may be had and property not be destroyed. First, the liberty of all those that have the permanent interest in the kingdom, that is provided for by the constitution. And secondly, by an appeal to the Law of Nature liberty cannot be provided for in a general sense, if property be preserved. For if property be preserved by acknowledging a natural right in the possessor, so that I am not to meddle with such a man’s estate, his meat, his drink, his apparel, or other goods, then the right of nature destroys liberty. By the right of nature I am to have sustenance rather than perish; yet property destroys it for a man to have this by the right of nature, even suppose there be no human constitution.
Peter: I do say still, under favour, there is a way to cure all this debate. I will mind you of one thing: that upon the will of one man abusing us, we reached agreement, and if the safety of the Army be in danger so we may again. I hope, it is not denied by any man that any wise, discreet man that hath preserved England is worthy of a voice in the government of it. So that I profess to you, for my part I am clear the point of election should be amended in that sense. I think, they will desire no more liberty. If there were time to dispute it, I think they would be satisfied, and all will be satisfied.
Cromwell: I confess I was most dissatisfied with that I heard Mr. Sexby speak, of any man here, because it did savour so much of will. But I desire that all of us may decline that, and if we meet here really to agree to that which is for the safety of the kingdom, let us not spend so much time in such debates as these are, but let us apply ourselves to such things as are conclusive, and that shall be this. Everybody here would be willing that the Representative might be mended, that is, that it might be made better than it is. Perhaps it may be offered in that other paper (Heads of Proposals) too lamely. If the thing there insisted upon be too limited, why perhaps there are a very considerable part of copyholders by inheritance that ought to have a voice; and there may be somewhat in that paper too that reflects upon the generality of the people in denying them a voice. I know our debates are endless if we think to bring it to an issue this way. If we may but resolve upon a committee, things may be done. If I cannot be satisfied to go so far as these gentlemen that bring this paper,(The Agreement) I say it again and I profess it, I shall freely and willingly withdraw myself, and I hope to do it in such a manner that the Army shall see that I shall by my withdrawing satisfy the interest of the Army, the public interest of the kingdom, and those ends these men aim at. And I think if you do bring this to a result it were well.
Rainborough: If these men must be advanced, and other men set under foot, I am not satisfied. If their rules must be observed, and other men, that are not in authority, be silenced, I do not know how this can stand together with the idea of a free debate . I wonder how that should be thought wilfulness in one man that is reason in another; for I confess I have not heard anything that doth satisfy me, and though I have not so much wisdom, or so many notions in my head, I have so many apprehensions that I could tell an hundred such of the ruin of the people. I am not at all against a committee's meeting; and as you say -- and I think every Christian ought to do the same -- for my part I shall be ready, if I see the way that I am going, and the thing that I would insist on, will destroy the kingdom, I shall withdraw from it as soon as any. And therefore, till I see that, I shall use all the means I can , and I think it is no fault in any man to refuse to sell that which is his birthright.
Sexby: I desire to speak a few words. I am sorry that my zeal to what I apprehend is good should be so ill resented. I am not sorry to see that which I apprehend is truth disputed, but I am sorry the Lord hath darkened some so much as not to see it, and that is in short this . Do you not think it were a sad and miserable condition, that we have fought all this time for nothing? All here, both great and small, do think that we fought for something. I confess, many of us fought for those ends which, we since saw, were not those which caused us to go through difficulties and straits and to venture all in the ship with you. It had been good in you to have advertised us of it, and I believe you would have had fewer under your command to have commanded. But if this be the business, that an estate doth make men capable -- it is no matter which way they get it, they are capable -- to choose those that shall represent them, I think there are many that have not estates that in honesty have as much right in the freedom of their choice as any that have great estates. Truly, sir, as for your putting off this question and coming to some other, I dare say, and I dare appeal to all of them, that they cannot settle upon any other until this be done. It was the ground that we took up arms on, and it is the ground which we shall maintain. Concerning my making rents and divisions in this way. As a particular, if I were but so, I could lie down and be trodden there; but truly I am sent by a regiment, and if I should not speak, guilt shall lie upon me, and I should think I were a covenant-breaker. I do not know how we have been answered in our arguments, and as for our engagements , I conceive we shall not accomplish them to the kingdom when we deny them to ourselves. I shall be loath to make a rent and division, but, for my own part, unless I see this put to a question, I despair of an issue.
Clarke: The first thing that I should desire was, and is, this: that there might be a temperature and moderation of spirit within us; that we should speak with moderation, not with such reflection as was boulted one from another, but so speak and so hear as that which is said may be the droppings of love from one to another's hearts. Another word I have to say is that the grand question of all is, whether or no it be the property of every individual person in the kingdom to have a vote in elections; and the ground on which it is claimed is the Law of Nature, which, for my part, I think to be that law which is the ground of all constitutions. Yet really properties are the foundation of constitutions, and not constitutions of property. For if so be there were no constitutions, yet the Law of Nature does give a principle for every man to have a property of what he has, or may have, which is not another man's. This natural right to property is the ground of meum and tuum. Now there may be inconveniencies on both hands, but not so great freedom on either as is supposed -- not the greater freedom, as I conceive, that all may have whatso-ever they have a mind to. And if it come to pass that there be a difference, and that the one claimant doth oppose the other, then nothing can decide it but the sword, which is the wrath of God.
Audley: I see you have a long dispute and that you do intend to dispute here till the tenth of March. You have brought us into a fair pass, and the kingdom into a fair pass, for if your reasons are not satisfied, and we do not fetch all our waters from your wells, you threaten to withdraw yourselves. I could wish, according to our several protestations, we might sit down quietly, and there throw down ourselves where we see reason. I could wish we might all rise, and go to our duties, and set our work in hand. I see both parties at a stand; and if we dispute here, both are lost.
Cromwell: Really for my own part I must needs say, whilst we say we would not make reflections we do make reflections; and if I had not come hither with a free heart to do that that I was persuaded in my conscience is my duty, I should a thousand times rather have kept myself away. For I do think I had brought upon myself the greatest sin that I was ever guilty of, if I should have come to have stood before God in that former duty, and if I did retreat from that my saying -- which I did say, and shall persevere to say -- that I shall not, I cannot, against my conscience do anything. They that have stood so much for liberty of conscience, if they will not grant that liberty to every man, but say it is a deserting I know not what -- if that liberty be denied me, I think there is not that equality that is professed to be amongst us. Though we should be satisfied in our consciences in what we do, we are told we purpose to leave the Army, or to leave our commands, as if we took upon us to do it as a matter of will. I did hear some gentlemen speak more of will than anything that was spoken this way, for more was spoken by way of will than of satisfaction, and if there be not more equality in our minds I can but grieve for it, I must do no more. I said this and I say no more: that if you would make your businesses as well as you can, we might bring things to an understanding; for it was in order to be brought to a fair composure that we met. And when you have said what you can for the paper and have heard our objections, if then you should put this paper to the question without any qualifications, I doubt whether it would pass so freely. If we would have no difference we ought to put it with due qualifications. And let me speak clearly and freely -- I have heard other gentlemen do the like: I have not heard the Commissary-General answered, not in one part, to my knowledge, not in a tittle. If, therefore, when I see there is an extremity of difference between you, I move for a committee to the end it may be brought nearer to a general satisfaction -- if this too be thought a deserting of that interest, I know not if there can be anything more sharply said; I will not give it an ill word.
Ireton: I should not speak again, but reflections do necessitate it, do call upon us to vindicate ourselves. As if we, who have led men into engagements and services, had divided from them because we did not concur with them! I will ask that gentleman that spoke (whom I love in my heart): whether when they drew out to serve the Parliament in the beginning, whether when they engaged with the Army at Newmarket, whether then they thought of any more interest or right in the kingdom than this; whether they did think that they should have as great interest in Parliament-men as freeholders had, or whether from the beginning we did not engage for the liberty of Parliaments, and that we should be concluded by the laws that such did make. Unless somebody did make you believe before now that you should have an equal interest in the kingdom, unless somebody did make that to be believed, there is no reason to blame men for leading you so far as they have done; and if any man was far enough from such an apprehension, that man hath not been deceived. And truly, I shall say but this word more for myself in this business, because the whole objection seems to be pressed to me, and maintained against me. I will not arrogate that I was the first man that put the Army upon the thought either of successive Parliaments or more equal Parliaments; yet there are some here that know who they were that put us upon that foundation of liberty of putting a period to this Parliament, in order that we might have successive Parliaments, and that there might be a more equal distribution of elections. There are many here that know who were the first movers of that business in the Army. I shall not arrogate that to myself , but I can argue this with a clear conscience: that no man hath prosecuted that with more earnestness, and will stand to that interest more than I do , of having Parliaments successive and not perpetual, and the distribution of elections more equal . But, notwithstanding, my opinion stands good, that it ought to be a distribution amongst the fixed and settled people of this nation. It’s more prudent and safe, and more upon this ground of right for it to be so. Now it is the fundamental constitution of this kingdom; and that which you take away you take away for matter of wilfulness. Notwithstanding, as for this universal conclusion, that all inhabitants shall have voices, as it stands in the Agreement, I must declare that though I cannot yet be satisfied, yet for my part I shall acquiesce. I will not make a distraction in this Army. Though I have a property in being one of those that should be an elector, though I have an interest in the birthright, yet I will rather lose that birthright and that interest than I will make it my business to oppose them , if I see but the generality of those whom I have reason to think honest men and conscientious men and godly men, to carry themselves another way. I will not oppose, though I be not satisfied to join with them. And I desire to say this . I am agreed with you if you insist upon a more equal distribution of elections; I will agree with you, not only to dispute for it, but to fight for it and contend for it. Thus far I shall agree with you. On the other hand, to those who differ in their terms and say, ‘I will not agree with you except you go farther,’ I make answer, ‘Thus far I can go with you: I will go with you as far as I can.’ If you will appoint a committee of some few to consider of that, so as you preserve the equitable part of that constitution that now is, securing a voice to those who are like to be free men, men not given up to the wills of others , and thereby keeping to the latitude which is. the equity of constitutions, I will go with you as far as I can. And where I cannot I will sit down, I will not make any disturbance among you.
Rainborough: If I do speak my soul and conscience I do think that there is not an objection made but that it hath been answered; but the speeches are so long. I am sorry for some passion and some reflections, and I could wish where it is most taken amiss the cause had not been given. It is a fundamental of the constitution of the kingdom, that there be parliamentary boroughs; I would fain know whether the choice of burgesses in corporations should not be altered. But the end wherefore I speak is only this. You think we shall be worse than we are, if we come to a conclusion by a sudden vote. If it be put to the question we shall at least all know one another's mind. If it be determined, and the common resolutions known, we shall take such a course as to put it in execution. This gentleman says, if he cannot go he will sit still. He thinks he hath a full liberty to do so; we think we have not. There is a great deal of difference between us two. If a man hath all he doth desire, he may wish to sit still; but if I think I have nothing at all of what I fought for, I do not think the argument holds that I must desist as well as he.
Petty: The rich would very unwillingly be concluded by the poor. And there is as much reason that the rich should conclude the poor as the poor the rich -and indeed that is no reason at all. There should be an equal share in both. I understood your engagement was that you would use all your endeavours for the liberties of the people, that they should be secured. If there is such a constitution that the people are not free, that constitution should be annulled. That constitution which is now set up is a constitution of forty shillings a year, but this constitution doth not make the people free.
Cromwell: Here’s the mistake: you make the whole question to be whether that’s the better constitution in that paper, or that which now is. But ii you will go upon such a ground as that although a better constitution was really offered for the removing of the worse, yet some gentlemen are resolved to stick to the worse and there might be a great deal of prejudice upon such an apprehension. I think you are by this time satisfied that it is a clear mistake; for it is a dispute whether or no this proposed constitution be better -- nay, whether it be not destructive to the kingdom.
Petty: I desire to speak one word to this business, because I do not know whether my occasions will suffer me to attend it any longer. The great reason that I have heard urged is, ‘the constitution of the kingdom, the utmost constitution of it’; and ‘if we destroy this constitution there is no property.’ I suppose that if constitutions should tie up all men in this nature it were very dangerous.
Irefon: First, the thing itself were dangerous if it were settled so as to destroy propriety. But I say the principle that leads to this proposed change is destructive to property. For by the same reason that you will alter this constitution, merely that there’s a greater liberty by nature than this constitutiion gives -- by the same reason, by the Law of Nature, there is a greater liberty to the use of other men's goods, which that property bars you of. And I would fain have any man show me why I should destroy that liberty which the freeholders, and burghers in corporations, have in choosing knights and burgesses (that which if you take away, you leave no constitution), and this because there is a greater freedom due to me by the Law of Nature -- why I should do this more than that I should take another man's goods because the Law of Nature does allow me.
Rainborough: I would grant something that the Commissary-General says. But I would have the question stated: Whether this be a just propriety, the propriety that says that forty shillings a year enables a man to elect? If it were stated to that effect, nothing would conduce so much to determine whether some men do agree or no.
Captain Edmund Rolfe: I conceive that, as we are met here, there are one or two things mainly to be prosecuted by us; that is especially unity, the preservation of unity in the Army, and so likewise to put ourselves into a capacity thereby to do good to the kingdom. Therefore I shall desire that there may be a tender consideration had of that which is so much urged, in that of an equal, as well as of a free, Representative. I shall desire that a medium, or some thoughts of a composure, may be had in relation to servants or to foreigners, or such others as shall be agreed upon. I say, then, I conceive, excepting those, there may be a very equitable sense presented to us from that offer in our own declarations wherein we do offer the common good of all, unless they have made any shipwreck or loss of it.
Clarke: I presume that the great stick here is this: that if every one shall have his natural propriety of election it does bereave the kingdom of its principal fundamental constitution, that it now hath. I presume that all people, and all nations whatsoever, have a liberty and power to alter and change their constitutions if they find them to be weak and infirm. Now if the people of England shall find this weakness in their constitution, they may change it if they please. Another thing is this: it is feared that if the light of nature be only followed in this, it may destroy the propriety which every man can call his own. But it will not, and the reason is this, because this principle and light of nature doth give all men their own -- as, for example, the clothes upon my back because they are not another man's. Finally if every man hath this propriety of election to choose those who shall make the laws , you fear it may beget inconveniencies. I do not conceive that anything may be so nicely and precisely done but that it may admit of inconveniency. If it be that there is inconveniency in that form of the constitution wherein it is now, there may some of those inconveniencies rise from the changes, that are apprehended from them. For my part I know nothing of fatal consequence in the relation of men but the want of love in it, and then, if difference arises, the sword must decide it.
I too shall desire that before the question be stated it may be moderated as for foreigners.
Chillenden: In the beginning of this discourse there were overtures made of imminent danger. This way we have taken this afternoon is not the way to prevent it. I would humbly move that we should put a speedy end to this business, and that not only to this main question of the paper, but also according to the Lieutenant-General's motion, that a committee may be chosen seriously to consider the things in that paper, and compare them with divers things in our declarations and engagements, that so we may show ourselves ready, as we have all professed, to lay down ourselves before God. If we take this course of debating upon one question a whole afternoon, and if the danger be so near as it is supposed, it were the ready way to bring us into it. I desire that things may be put into a speedy dispatch.
Sir Hardress Waller: This was that I was desirous of saying. (I confess I have not spoken yet, and I was willing to be silent, having heard so many speak, that I might learn). It is not easy for us to say when this dispute will have an end; but I think it is easy to say when the kingdom will have an end. If we do not breathe out ourselves, we shall be kicked and spurned of all the world. I would fain know how far the question will decide it; for certainly we must not expect, while we have tabernacles here, to be all of one mind. If it be to be decided by a question, and all parties are satisfied in that I think the sooner you hasten to it the better. If otherwise, we shall needlessly discover our dividing opinion, which as long as it may be avoided I desire it may. Therefore I desire to have a period put to this debate .
Audley: I chanced to speak a word or two. Truly there was more offence taken at it. For my part I spoke against every man living, not only against yourself and the Commissary, but against every man that would dispute till we have our throats cut, and therefore I desire I may not lie in any prejudice before your persons. I profess, if so be there were none but you and the Commissary-General alone to maintain that argument, I would die in any place in England, in asserting that it is the right of every free-born man to elect, according to the rule, Quod omnibus spectatu, ab omnibus tractari debet, that which concerns all ought to be debated by all. He continued: That he knew no reason why that law should oblige him when he himself had no finger in appointing the law-giver.
Captain Bishop: You have met here this day to see if God would show you any way wherein you might jointly preserve the kingdom from its destruction, which you all apprehend to be at the door. God is pleased not to come in to you. There is a gentleman, Mr. Saltmarsh, did desire what he has wrote may be read to the General Council. If God do manifest anything by him I think it ought to be heard. Ireton: I have declared that you will alter that constitution from a better to a worse, from a just to a thing that is less just in my apprehension; and I will not repeat the reasons of that, but refer to what I have declared before. To me, if there were nothing but this, that there is a constitution, and that constitution which is the very last constitution, which if you take away you leave nothing of constitution, and consequently nothing of right or property, it would be enough. I would not go to alter this, though a man could propound that which in some respects might be better, unless it could be demonstrated to me that this were unlawful, or that this were destructive. Truly, therefore, I say for my part, to go on a sudden to make such a limitation as that to inhabitants in general, is to make no limitation at all. If you do extend the latitude of the constitution so far that any man shall have a voice in election who has not that interest in this kingdom that is permanent and fixed, who hath not that interest upon which he may have his freedom in this kingdom without dependence, you will put it into the hands of men to choose, not of men desirous to preserve their liberty, but of men who will give it away.
I am confident, our discontent and dissatisfaction if ever they do well, they do in this. If there be anything at all that is a foundation of liberty it is this, that those who shall choose the law-makers shall be men freed from dependence upon others. I have a thing put into my heart which I cannot but speak. I profess I am afraid that if we, from such apprehensions as these are of an imaginable right of nature opposite to constitution, if we will contend and hazard the breaking of peace upon this business of that enlargement, I think if we, from imaginations and conceits, will go about to hazard the peace of the kingdom, to alter the constitution in such a point, I am afraid we shall find the hand of God will follow it and we shall see that that liberty which we so much talk of, and have so much contended for, shall be nothing at all by this our contending for it, by our putting it into the hands of those men that will give it away when they have it.
Cromwell: If we should go about to alter these things, I do not think that we are bound to fight for every particular proposition. Servants, while servants, are not included. Then you agree that he that receives alms is to be excluded?
Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Reade: I suppose it’s concluded by all, that the choosing of representatives is a privilege; now I see no reason why any man that is a native ought to be excluded that privilege, unless from voluntary servitude.
Petty: I conceive the reason why we would exclude apprentices, or servants, or those that take alms, is because they depend upon the will of other men and should be afraid to displease them. For servants and apprentices, they are included in their masters, and so for those that receive alms from door to door; but if there be any general way taken for those that are not so bound to the will of other men, it would be well.
Everard: I being sent from the Agents of the five regiments with an answer unto a writing, the committee was very desirous to inquire into the depth of our intentions. Those things that they had there manifested in the paper, and what I did under- stand as a particular person, I did declare. It was the Lieutenant-General's desire for an understanding with us, presuming those things I did declare did tend to unity. ‘And if so,’ said he, ‘you will let it appear by coming unto us.’ We have gone thus far: we have had two or three meetings to declare and hold forth what it is we stand upon, the principles of unity and freedom. We have declared in what we conceive these principles do lie -- I shall not name them all because they are known unto you. Now in the progress of these disputes and debates we find that the time spends, and no question but our adversaries are harder at work than we are. I heard (but I had no such testimony as I could take hold of) that there are meetings daily and contrivances against us. Now for our parts we hope you will not say all the desire for unity is yours, but will acknowledge that we have nakedly and freely unbosomed ourselves unto you. Though those things in the paper have startled many at the first view, yet we find there is still good hopes. We have fixed our resolutions, and we are determined, and we want nothing but that only God will direct us to what is just and right. But I understand that in all these debates if we shall agree upon any one thing, to say, ‘This is our freedom; this is our liberty; this liberty and freedom we are debarred of, and we are bereaved of all those comforts,’ that even in case we should find out half an hundred of these, yet the main business is first how we should find them, and then how we should come by them. Is there any liberty that we find ourselves deprived of? If we have grievances let us see who are the hindrances that oppose the best way of removing them when we have pitched upon that way. I conceive -- I speak humbly in this one thing as a particular person – I conceive, myself, that these delays, these disputes, will prove little encouragement. It was told me by one of these gentlemen that he had great jealousies that we would not come to the trial of our spirits and that perhaps there might happen to be another design in hand. I said to his Honour again, if they would not come to the light I would judge they had the works of darkness in hand. Now as they told me again on the other hand, when it was questioned by Colonel Hewson: ‘These gentlemen’ said they, not naming any particular persons, ‘they will hold you in hand, and keep you in debate and dispute till you and we shall come all to ruin.’ Now I stood as a moderator between the asserters of these things. When I heard the Lieutenant- General speak I was marvellously taken up with the plainness of the carriage. I said, ‘I will bring them to you. You shall see if their hearts be so. For my part I shall expect to see nothing but plainness and uprightness of heart made manifest unto you.’ I will not judge, nor draw any long discourse upon, our disputes this day. We may differ in one thing: that you conceive this debating and disputation will do the work; while we conceive we must without delay put ourselves into the former privileges which we want.
Waller: I think this gentleman hath dealt very ingenuously and plainly with us. I pray God we may do so too, and, for one, I will do it. I think our disputings will not do the thing. I think we shall do well if we do make it our resolution that we do hold it forth to all powers -- Parliament or King, or whoever they are -- to let them know that these are our rights, and if we have them not we must get them the best way we can.
Cromwell: I think you say very well; and my friend at my back, he tells me that there are great fears abroad; and they that bring the paper talk of some things such as are not only specious to take a great many people with, but real and sub- stantial, and such as are comprehensive of that that hath the good of the kingdom in it. Truly if there be never so much desire of carrying on these things together, never so much desire of conjunction, yet if there be not liberty of speech to come to a right understanding of things, I think it shall be all one as if there were no desire at all to meet. I may say it with truth, that I verily believe there is as much reality and heartiness amongst us as amongst you, to come to a right understanding, and to accord with that that hath the settlement of the kingdom in it. Though when it comes to particulars we may differ in the way, yet I know nothing but that every honest man will go as far as his conscience will let him; and he that will go farther, I think he will fall back. And I think, when that principle is written in the hearts of us, and when there is not hypocrisy in our dealings, we must all of us resolve upon this, that 'tis God that persuades the heart. If there be a doubt of sincerity, it’s the devil that created that effect; and 'tis God that gives uprightness of heart. And I hope that with such an heart we have all met withal. If we have not, God find him out that came without it; for my part I do come with it.
Ireton: I would have us fall to something that is practicable, with as little pains and dissatisfaction as may be. As for the distribution of representatives, when you have done this accord- ing to the number of inhabitants, do you think it is not very variable, for the number will change every day? I remember that in the proposals that went out in the name of the Army, (Heads of Proposals) it is propounded as a rule for the seats to be distributed according to the rates that the counties bear in the burdens of the kingdom. And remember then you have a rule, and though this be not a rule of exactness either, yet there was something of equality in it, and it was a certain rule, where all are agreed; and therefore by adopting it we should come to some settling. Now I do not understand wherein the advantage does lie, if from a sudden apprehension of danger, we should rashly fix upon a thing that will continue so long, and will continue so uncertain as this is.
Waller: 'Tis thought there’s imminent danger; I hope to God we shall be so ready to agree for the future that we shall all agree for the present to rise as one man if the danger be such, for it is an impossibility to have a remedy in this. The paper says that this present Parliament is to continue a year, but will the great burden of the people be ever satisfied with papers whilst you eat and feed upon them? I shall be glad that, if there be not any present danger, you will think of some way to ease the burden, that we may take a course to do it; and when we have satisfied the people that we do really intend the good of the kingdom they will believe us . Otherwise, if the four Evangelists were here, and lay at free-quarter upon them, they would not believe them.
Colonel Rainborough moved: That the Army might be called to a rendezvous, and things settled as promised in its printed engagements.
Ireton: We are called back to engagements. I think the engagements we have made and published, and all the engage- ments of all sorts, have been better kept by those that did not so much cry out for it than by those that do, and -- if you will have it in plain terms -- better kept than by those that have brought this paper. Give me leave to tell you, in that one point, in the engagement of the Army not to divide, I am sure that he that understands the engagement of the Army not to divide or disband as meaning that we are not to divide for quarters, for the ease of the country, or the satisfaction of service -- he that does understand it in that sense, I am not capable of his understanding. There was another sense in it, and that is, that we should not suffer ourselves to be torn into pieces. Such a dividing as that is really a disbanding, and for my part I do not know what disbanding is if not that dividing. I say that the subscribers of this paper, the authors of that book that is called The Case of the Army, I say that they have gone the way of disbanding. Disbanding of an army is not parting in a place, for if that be so, did we not at that night disband to several quarters? Did we not then send several regiments: Colonel Scroope's regiment into the West -- we know where it was first; Colonel Horton's regiment into Wales for preventing of insurrection there; Colonel Lambert's and Colonel Lilburne's regiments then sent down for strengthening such a place as York? And yet the authors of that paper and the subscribers of it -- for I cannot think the authors and sub- scribers all one -- know, and well they may know it, that there is not one part of the Army is divided in body farther than the outcries of the authors of it are in spirit. For they go about to scandalize us as breakers of an engagement not to disperse or divide; yet they know that there’s no part of the Army is dispersed to quarters further than that I have stated. Whereupon all that outcry is made! But he that will go to understand this to be a dividing that we engaged against, he looks at the name, and not at the thing. That dividing which is a disbanding is that dividing which makes no army, and that dissolving of that order and government which is as essential to an army as life is to a man -- which if it be taken away I think that such a company are no more an army than a rotten carcass is a man; and it is those who have done this that have gone about to divide the Army. And what else is there in this paper but that we have acted so vigorously for already? We proposed that this Parliament should end within a year at most; they do not propose that this present Parliament should end till the beginning of September. When all comes to be considered upon the matter, it is but a critical difference and the very substance of that we have declared for before. And let it be judged whether this way we have taken and that way they have taken be not the same as to the matter of it. For my part I profess it seriously that we shall find in the issue that the principle of that division' which they seek to raise on the question of disbanding is no more than this: whether such men or such shall have the managing of the business. I say plainly, the way they have taken hath been the way of disunion and division, and the dissolution of that order and government by which we shall be enabled to act at all. And I shall appeal to all men: whether the dividing from that General Council and from the resolution wherein we have all engaged that we would be concluded by the decisions of that Council, and whether likewise the endeavouring to draw the soldiers to run this way with them -- whether this is not the real dividing of the Army. I shall appeal to them: whether there can be any .breach of the Army higher than that breach we have now spoke of, any truer sense in which that word ‘dividing the Army’ can be taken; whether that dividing were not more truly and properly such, which is in every man's heart, than this dividing which they do accuse us of incurring wherein we do go apart one from another but remain united in heart, and whether it does not follow consequently, that those that have gone this way have not broke the Engagement, but that the other dividing cannot be a keeping of the Engagement. And those that do so judge the one and the other, will concur with me when I say, I do not think that we have been fairly dealt with.
Rainborough: I do not make any great wonder that this gentleman hath sense above all men in the world. But for these things, he is the man that hath undertaken the drawing-up of them all. I say, this gentleman hath the advantage of us on the question of engagements: he hath drawn up the most part of them and why may he not keep a sense that we do not know of? If this gentleman had declared to us at first that this was the sense of the Army in dividing, and it was meant that men should not divide in opinions! To me that is a mystery. It is a huge reflection, a taxing of persons; and because I will avoid further reflections, I shall say no more.
An Agitator: Whereas you say the Agents did it, it was the soldiers did put the Agents upon these meetings. It was the dissatisfactions that were in the Army which provoked, which occasioned, those meetings, which you suppose tends so much to dividing; and the reasons of such dissatisfactions are because those whom they had to trust to act for them were not true to them:
Ireton: If this be all the effect of your meetings to agree upon this paper, there is but one thing in this that hath not been insisted upon and propounded by the Army heretofore, in the Heads of the Proposals, and all along. Here it is put according to the number of inhabitants; there according to the taxes. This says a period at such a day, the last of September; the other says a period within a year at most. The Agreement says that these have the power of making law, and determining what is law, without the consent of another. 'Tis true the Proposals said not that but would restore the consent of the King. And for my part, if any man will put that to the question whether we shall concur with it, I am in the same mind still, especially if by your franchise you put it in any other hands than of those that are free men. But even if you shall put the question with that limitation to free men that hath been all along acknowledged by the Parliament, till we can acquit ourselves justly from any engagement, old or new, that we stand in, to preserve the person of the King, the persons of Lords, and their rights, so far as they are consistent with the common right and the safety of the kingdom -- till that be done, I think there is reason that that exception in their favour should continue, but with the proviso which hath been all along, that is, where the safety of the kingdom is concerned. This the Proposals seem to hold out. I would hold to positive constitution where I see things would not do real mischief. I would neither be thought to be a wrong-doer or disturber; so long as I can with safety continue a constitution I will do it. And therefore where I find that the safety of the kingdom is not concerned, I would not for every trifling cause make that this shall be a law, though neither the Lords, who have a claim to it, nor the King, who hath a claim to it, will consent. But where this safety is concerned I think that particular rights cannot stand . Upon the whole matter let men but consider whether those that have thus gone away to divide from the Arrny will not destroy the constitution upon a fancied right and advantage of the people . Admit that this Agreement of the People be the advantage, it may be. Shall we then agree to that without any limitation? I do agree that the King is bound by his oath at his coronation to agree to the law that the Commons shall choose without Lords or anybody else. But if I can agree any further, that if the King do not confirm with his authority the laws that the people shall choose those laws require not his authority, we know what will follow.
Petty: I had the happiness sometimes to be at the debate of the Proposals, and my opinion was then as it is now against the King's vote and the Lords'. But I did not then so definitely desire the abolition of these votes as I do now desire it; for since that time it hath pleased God to raise a company of men that do stand up for the power of the House of Commons, which is the Representative of the people, and deny the negative voice of King and Lords. For my part I was much unknown to any of them, but I heard their principles; and hearing their principles I cannot but join with them in my judgment, for I think it is reasonable that all laws are made by their (i.e. the people’s) consent alone . Whereas you seem to make the King and Lords so light a thing as that it may be without prejudice to keep them, though to the destruction of the kingdom to throw them out; for my part I cannot but think that both the power of King and Lords was ever a branch of tyranny. And if ever a people shall free themselves from tyranny, certainly it is after seven years' war and fighting for their liberty. For my part I think that if the constitution of this kingdom shall be established as formerly, it might rivet tyranny into this kingdom more strongly than before. For when the people shall hear that for seven years together the people were plundered, and that after they had overcome the King and kept the King under restraint, at last the King comes in again, then it will rivet the King s interest; and so when any men shall endeavour to free themselves from tyranny we may do them mischief and no good. I think it’s most just and equal, since a number of men have declared against it, that they should be encouraged in it, and not discouraged. And I find by the Council that their thoughts are the same against the King and Lords, and if so be that a power may be raised to do that, it would do well.
Wildman: Truly, sir, I being desired by the Agents yesterday to appear at council or committees either, at that time in their behalf, I suppose I may be bold to make known what I know of their sense, and a little to vindicate them in their way of proceeding; an to show the necessisty of this way of proceeding that they have entered upon. Truly, sir, as to breaking of engage- ments, the Agents do declare their principle, that whenever any engagement cannot be kept justly they must break that engage- ment. Now though it’s urged they ought to condescend to what the General Council do resolve, I conceive it’s true only so long as it is for their safety. I conceive it’s just and righteous for them to stand up for some more speedy vigorous actings. I conceive it’s no more than what the Army did when the Parliament did not only delay deliverance, but opposed it. And I conceive this way of their appearing hath not been in the least way anything tending to division, since they proceed to clear the rights of the people; and so long as they proceed upon those righteous principles for which we first engaged, I suppose it cannot be laid to their charge that they are dividers. And though it be declared that they ought to stand only as soldiers and not as Englishmen, yet the malice of the enemies would have bereaved you of your liberties as Englishmen, and therefore as Englishmen they are deeply concerned to regard the due observation of their rights, and have the same right to declare their apprehensions as I, or any commoner, have right to pro- pound to the kingdom my conceptions of what is fit for the good of the kingdom. Whereas it is objected, ‘How will it appear that their proceedings shall tend for the good of the kingdom?’ that matter is different from the point of justice they would propound. Whereas it was said before, it was propounded in the Council, that there must be an end to the present Parliament and an equality as to elections, I find it to be their minds also; but when they came there, they found many aversions from matters that they ought to stand to as soldiers and as Englishmen, and therefore, I find, it was discovered that there was a difference concerning the matter of the thing, and I conceive it to be a very vast difference in the whole matter of the Proposals. By it the foundation of slavery was riveted more strongly than before -- as where the militia is instated in the King and Lords, and not in the Commons, and there too is a foundation of a future quarrel constantly laid. However, the main thing was that the right of the militia was acknowledged to be in the King, as they found in the Proposals propounded, before any redress of any one of the people's grievances or any one of their burdens; and the King was so to be brought in as with a negative voice, whereby the people and Army that have fought against him when he had propounded such things, would be at his mercy. And finding this, they perceived they were, as they thought, in a sad case; for they thought, he coming in thus with a negative voice, the Parliament are but as so many ciphers, so many round 0's, for if the King would not do it, he might choose, Sic volo, sic jubeo, &c., and so the corrupt party of the kingdom must be so settled in the King. The godly people are turned over and trampled upon already in the most places of the kingdom. I speak but the words of the Agents, and I find this to be their thoughts. But whereas it is said, ‘How will this paper provide for anything for that purpose?’ I shall say that this paper doth lay down the foundations of freedom for all manner of people. It doth lay the foundations of soldiers' freedom, whereas they found a great uncertainty in the Proposals, which implied that they should go to the King for an Act of Indemnity, and thus the King might command his judges to hang them up for what they did in the wars, because, the present constitution being left as it was, nothing was law but what the King signed, and not any ordinance of Parliament without his consent. And considering this, they thought it should be by an Agreement with the people, whereby a rule between the Parliament and the people might be set, that so they might be destroyed neither by the King's prerogative nor Parliament's privileges (including those of the Lords, for they are not bound to be subject to the laws as other men, and that is why men cannot recover their estates). They thought there must be a necessity of a rule between the Parliament and the people, so that the Parliament should know what they were entrusted with, and what they were not; and that there might be no doubt of the Parliament's power, to lay foundations of future quarrels. The Parliament shall not meddle with a soldier after indemnity if it is so agreed amongst the people; whereas between a parliament and a king the soldier may lose his indemnity . If the King were not under restraint his assent might be made to bind him. But if the present Parliament should make an Act of Indemnity, who shall say that another Parliament cannot alter this? An Agreement of the People would be necessary, that these foundations might be established, that there might be no dispute between Lords and Commons, and that, these things being settled, there should be no more disputes at all, but that the Parliament should redress the people's grievances. Whereas now almost all are troubled with the King's interests, if this were settled the Parliament should be free from these temptations. And besides -- which for my own part I do suppose to be a truth -- this very Parliament, by the King's voice in this very Parliament, may destroy us, whereas then they shall be free from temptations and the King cannot have an influence upon them such as he now hath.
Ireton: Gentlemen, I think there is no man is able to give a better account of the sense of the Agents, and so readily; he hath spoke so much as they have in their book, and therefore I say he is very well able to give their sense. I wish their sense had not only not been prejudicial to other men's senses, but, as I fear it will prove, really prejudicial to the kingdom as well, how plausibly soever it seems to be carried. That paper of The Case of the Army doth so abuse the General and General Council of the Army, stating that such and such things have been done that made them do thus and thus, that I cannot leave it unanswered. First as to the material points of the paper. You know as to the business of the Lords, the way we were then in admitted no other course. This gentleman that speaks here, and the other gentle man that spake before, when we were at Reading framing the Proposals they did not think of this way. I am sure they did not think of this way; and according to the best judgments of those that were entrusted by the General Council to draw up the Proposals, it was carried by a question clearly, that we should not adopt such a way. In these Proposals our business was to set forth particulars; we had set forth general declarations, which did come to as much in effect as this; the thing then proposed was that we should not take away the power of the Lords in this kingdom, and it was so concluded in the Proposals. But as to the King we were clear. There is not one thing in the Proposals, nor in what was declared, that doth give the King any negative voice . And therefore that’s part of the scandal amongst others: we do not give the King any negative voice; we do but take the King as a man with whom we have been at a difference; we propound terms of peace. We do not demand that he shall have no negative, but we do not say that he shall have any. There’s another thing . we have, as they say, gone from our engagements in our declarations in that we go in the Proposals to establish the King's rights before taking away the people's grievances. In our general declarations (See the Representation of the Army; see also Heads of the Proposals and Wildman's Putney Projects) we first desire a purging of this Parliament, a period to be set for this Parliament, and provision for the certainty of future Parliaments; and if the King shall agree in these things and what things else the Parliament shall propound, that are necessary for the safety of the kingdom, then we desire his rights may be considered so far as may consist with the rights of the people. We did so speak in the declarations, and you shall see what we did in the Proposals. In the Proposals, we put first things that are essential to peace, and it distinguishes those from the things that conduce to our better being, and things that lay foundations of an hopeful constitution in the future. When those are passed, then we say that, ‘these things having the King's concurrence, we desire that his right may be con sidered.’ There were many other grievances and particular matters of which we did not think it so necessary that they should precede the settling of a peace, the lack of which is the greatest grievance of the kingdom. Our way was to take away that first. Then we say there, after propounding what things we thought in our judgments to be essential and necessary as to peace, ‘Yet we desire that the Parliament would lose no time from the consideration of them.’ These gentlemen would say now that we have gone from our declarations, that we propose the settling of the King first, because it stands before those grievances. We say, those grievances are not so necessary to be remedied as that the remedying of them should be before the settling of the peace of the kingdom. What we thought in our consciences to be essential to the peace of the kingdom we did put preceding to the consideration of the King's personal right; and the concurrence of the King to those is a condition without which we cannot have any right at all, and without which there can be no peace, and we have named it before the consideration of the King's rights in the settling of a peace, as a thing necessary to the constitution of a peace. That, therefore, to say we should prefer the King’s rights before a general good, was as unworthy and as unchristian an injury as ever was done by any to men that were in society with them, and merely equivocation. But it was told you, that the General Council hath seemed to do so and so, to put the soldiers out of the way. It is suggested that the Engagement is broken by our dividing to quarters; and whether that be broken or not in other things, it is said that the General Council hath broken the Engagement in this: that whereas before we were not a mercenary army, now we are. Let any man but speak what hath given the occasion of that. It hath been pressed by some men that we should not have subjected our propositions to the Parliament, and we should stand to the propositions whatever they were; but the sense of the General Council was this: that, as they had sent their propositions to the Parliament, they would see what the Parliament would do before they would conclude what themselves would do; and that there was respect to be had to that which we have hitherto accounted the fundamental council of the kingdom. If all the people to a man had subscribed to this Agreement, then there would be some security to it, because no man would oppose it; but otherwise our concurrence amongst ourselves is no more than our saying that ourselves we will be indemnified. Our indemnity must be owed to something that at least we will uphold, and we see we cannot hold the Army to be a conclusive authority of the kingdom. For that charge of going to the King for indemnity, we proposed an Act of Oblivion only for the King's party; we proposed for ourselves an Act of Indemnity and Justification. Is this the asking of a pardon? Let us resort to the first petition of the Army, wherein we all were engaged once, which we made the basis of all our proceedings. In that we say, that we wish an ordinance might be passed, to which the royal assent might be desired; but we have since declared that, if the royal assent could not be had, we should account the authority of the Parliament valid without it. We have desired, in the General Council, that for security for arrears we might have the royal assent. And let me tell you (though I shall be content to lose my arrears to see the kingdom have its liberty -- if any man can do it -- unless it be by putting our liberty into the hands of those that will give it away when they have done with it; but I say what I do think true in this): Whoever talks either of arrears gained by the endeavours of the soldiers or of any other indemnity won by the sword in their hands, is for the perpetuating of combustions; so that word cannot take place of, and does not suppose, the settling of a peace by that authority which hath been here the legislative power of the kingdom, and he that expects to have the arrears of the soldiers so, I think he does but deceive himself. For my own part I would give up my arrears, and lose my arrears, if we have not first a settlement; no arrears nor any want of indemnity, nor anything in the world, shall satisfy me to have a peace upon any terms wherein that which is really the right of this nation is not as far provided for as can be provided for by men. I could tell you many other particulars wherein there are divers gross injuries done to the General and the General Council, and such a wrong done them as is not fit to be done among Christians, and so wrong and so false a design imputed to them that I cannot think that they have gone so far in it.
Wildman: I do not know what reason you have to suppose I should be so well acquainted with The Case of the Army, and the things proposed in it . I conceive them to be very good and just. But for that which I give as their sense, which you are pleased to say are scandals cast upon the Army. The legislative power had been acknowledged hitherto to be in the King with the Lords and Commons; and considering that, and what indeed you said before was another scandal laid upon you, that you propounded to bring in the King with his negative voice, you seem to restore him to his controlling part in the legislative power. For I do humbly propound to your consideration that when you restrain the King's negative in one particular only, which is in your restraining unequal distributing, you do say the legislative power to be now partly in him. And indeed you say directly, in these very words, that he ‘shall be restored to his personal rights.’ And therefore I conceive (if I have any reason) that the King is proposed to be brought in with his negative voice. And whereas you say it is a scandal for us to assert that you would have the King to come in with his personal rights before the grievances of the people are redressed, it is said in the Proposals that, the King consenting to those things, the King is to be restored to all his personal rights. There’s his restoration. Not a bare consideration what his rights are before the people's grievances are considered, but a restoration to his personal rights, these things being done. Is the Parliament not to lose their rights by such a provision? And for that of asking the King's consent to an Act of Indemnity, I do not say that it was an asking of the King’s pardon; but it is rendering us up without promise of future security, for the King is under constraint, and therefore it is null in law.
Putney, 1st November 1647
At the General Council of the Army
The LieutenantGeneral first moved, that every one might speak their experiences as the issue of what God had given in, in answer to their prayers.
Captain Francis Allen made a speech, expressing what experiences he had received from himself and from divers other godly people: that the work that was before them was to take away the negative voice of the King and Lords.
Captain John Carter expressed his experiences: that he found not any inclination in his heart as formerly to pray for the King, that God would make him yet a blessing to the kingdom.
Cowling made a speech expressing that the sword was the only thing that had from time to time recovered our rights, and which he ever read in the word of God had recovered the rights of the people; that our ancestors had still recovered from the Danes and Normans their liberties, by the sword, when they were under such a slavery that an Englishman was as hateful then as an Irishman is now, and what an honour those that were noblemen thought it to marry their daughters to, or to marry the daughters of, any cooks or bakers of the Normans.
LieutenantColonel Henry Lilburne said: That he never observed that the recovery of our liberties which we had before the Normans was the occasion of our taking up arms, or the main quarrel; and that the Norrnan laws were not slavery introduced upon us, but an augmentation of our slavery before. Therefore what was by some offered, I doubt, for those reasons I have given you, was not of God. (Possibly this sentence is a detached fragment or an echo of an unreported speech of Cromwell's).
A report from Colonel Lambert's regiment that two horsemen, Agitators, came and persuaded them to send new Agitators, for that the officers had broken their engagements.( This detached note is transposed from after Captain Allen's speech above. The debate then; apparently, turned to engagements, the legitimacy of the Army's interference, and the treatment of the King.)
Cromwell: As to that which hath been heretofore moved concerning the negative vote, or things which have been delivered on that matter, in papers and otherwise, some may indeed present a real pleasing of the King; but I do not say that they have all pleased; for I think it hath been made clear that the King is king by contract; and I shall say, as Christ said, ‘Let him that is without sin cast the first stone,’ and mind you of that word of bearing one with another -- it was taught us today. If we had carried it on in the Parliament, and by our power, without any things laid on us of that kind, so that we could say that we were without transgression, I should then say it were just to cut off transgressors; but considering that we are in our own actions failing in many particulars, I think there is much necessity of pardoning of transgressors.Queries wherein LieutenantColonel Jubbes desireth satisfaction for the preventing of the effusion of blood:
For the actions that are now to be done, and those that must do them, I think it is their proper place to conform to the Parliament, that first gave them their being; and I think it is considerable whether they do contrive to suppress the power of the King and his party by that power or no, if they do continue their endeavour to suppress them. And indeed how they can take the determination of commanding men, conducting men, quarter ing men, keeping guards; without an authority otherwise than from themselves, I am ignorant. And therefore I think there is much need in the Army to conform to those things that are within their sphere. For those things that have been done in the Army, as this of issuing The Case of the Army Tru1y Stated, there is much in it useful, and to be condescended to; but I am not satisfied how far we shall do well to press it. Either they are a Parliament or no Parliament. If they be no Parliament they are nothing, and we are nothing likewise. If they be a Parliament, we are not to proceed without them in our plan for settlement but to offer it to them. If I could see a visible presence of the people, either by subscriptions or number, I should be satisfied with it; for in the government of nations that which is to be looked after is the affections of the people. And that, if I find it, would satisfy my conscience in the present thing.
Consider the case of the Jews. They were first divided into families where they lived, and had heads of families to govern them, and they were next under judges, and then they were under kings. When they came to desire a king they had a king, first elective, and secondly by succession. In all these kinds of government they were happy and contented. If you make the best of it, if you should change the government to the best of it, it is but a moral thing. It is but, as Paul says, ‘dross and dung in comparison of Christ’;(Philippians 3. 8) and I ask why we shall so far contest for temporal things, that if we cannot have this freedom peace fully we will venture life and livelihood for it. When every man shall come to this condition of mind, I think the state will come to desolation.
Therefore the considering of what is fit for the kingdom does belong to the Parliament, provided they be well composed in their creation and election. How far I shall think we ought to leave it to the present Parliament to offer it, will depend on their willingness to do so. There may be care had to secure a proper representation. That the elections, or forms of choosing the Parliament, are very unequal is evident, as I could name but one for a corporation to choose two. I shall desire that there may be a common form for the electing of Parliaments. And another thing is the perpetuity of the Parliament; that there is no assurance to the people but that it is to be perpetual, which does not satisfy the kingdom. And for other things that are subject to the King's negative vote so as he thereby may cast you off wholly, it hath been the resolution of the Parliament and of the Army to safeguard these things. If there be a possibility then of the Parliament's offering those things unto the King, that may secure us, I think there is much may be said for their doing of it. As for the present condition of the Army, I shall speak some thing of it. For the conduct of the Army, I perceive there are several declarations from the Army calling rendezvous and otherwise containing disobligations to the General's orders. I must confess I have a commission from the General, and I understand that I am to do by it. I shall conform to him according to the rules and discipline of war, and according to those rules I ought to be conformable to no orders but his. And therefore I conceive it is not in the power of any particular men to call a rendezvous of a troop or regiment, or in the least to disoblige the Army from those commands of the General; which must be destructive to us in general or to every particular man in the Army. This way is destructive to the Army, I say , and to every particular man in the Army. I have been informed by some of the King's party, that if they give us rope enough we will hang our selves. We shall hang ourselves if we do not conform to the rules of war. And therefore I shall move that what we shall centre upon must be the rules of war and our authority from the Parliament. We must not let go of that if it have but the face of authority. We are like a drowning man: if it be but an hare swimming over the Thames, he will take hold of it rather than let it go.
Chillenden observed: That God hitherto hath been pleased to show us many mercies, and proceeded to the relation of God’s providence in bringing us from our march to London.
William Allen: On Friday was a day for to seek God for direction in this work, and upon Saturday many were giving in their thoughts concerning what God had given in to them to speak, as to a cure for a dying kingdom. Truly amongst the rest my thoughts were at work. Providentially, my thoughts were cast upon one thing which I had often seen before, which yet, if prosecuted, may be the means of an happy union amongst us. That which I hint at, and which I would speak to, is The Case of the Army Stated. I do perceive that there is either a real or an apprehensive disunion amongst us, or rather a misapprehensive; and truly in my heart there was something providentially laid for a uniting, and that in that passage that those Agents -- at that very time of dissenting from us, and when they were ripping up our faults to open view -- in the issue came to lay us down as a rule, and that was a thing which before had been laid down as a rule, and we and they were to act according to it; but being laid down by them again, I think it is a twofold cord that cannot easily be broken. They do refer us to our three declarations, of the fourteenth of June, the twentyfirst of June, the eighteenth of August; and their desires are that those might be looked upon, and adhered unto; and if they be our desires, and theirs with them, and if it be their desire that we should walk up to them, I think this will put the business to a very fair issue. I did look over for my part all the things contained in those three declarations. There, I find, is set forth whatsoever we should persist in. And therefore I humbly desire that whatsoever there is in those declarations we may intend and pursue, as tending to that end we all aim at, namely the kingdom's good.
LieutenantColonel John Jubbes: Truly I do not know how to distinguish whether the Spirit of God lives in me or no, but by mercy, love, and peace; and on the contrary whether the spirit of Antichrist lives in me, but by envy, malice, and war. I am altogether against a war if there may be a composure possible, so that the Englishman may have his privileges. I have a commission ready to deliver up whensoever I shall be called.
1: Whether or no the Parliament may yet be purged of all such members as assented to the late insurrections and treason of the City, and still continue a House?(Note from editor: Wildman has been criticizing a speech ascribed by MS. to Cromwell. Ireton evidently intervenes to explain Cromwell's meaning. Wildman in reply addresses Cromwell, but Ireton, perhaps at a sign from Cromwell, continues to answer for him. This is the only assumption that does not make some change in the ascription of speeches necessary.)
2: If it may be purged, and an House still remaining, whether the major part of the remainder be such persons as are desirous of giving satisfaction to our, or the kingdom’s, just desires?
3: If the second be assented unto, that they are such persons, whether then they may not satisfy our just desires, and declare the King guilty of all the bloodshed, vast expense of treasure, and ruin that hath been occasioned by all the wars both of England and Ireland, and then, for that he is the King of Scotland, and also of Ireland, as well as England, whether they should not agree, after that, therefore to receive him as King again for avoiding further wars?
4: Whether, if the Parliament may adjourn and dissolve when in their discretions they shall find cause (or not before), as at this present, even by law, God hath ordered it, they may not then reject the King's Act of Oblivion, and take unto themselves that godly resolution to do that justice unto the kingdom which now they dare not do?
Rainbarough moved that the papers of the committee might be read.
Goffe: I think that motion which was made by the LieutenantGeneral should not die, but that it should have some issue. I think it is a vain thing to seek God if we do not hearken after his answer, and something that was spoken by the Lieutenant General moves me to speak at this time, and upon this ground. Upon what was spoken by one here, it was concluded by the LieutenantGeneral that that was not the mind of God that was spoken by him. I could wish we might be wary of such expressions. ‘There was a lying spirit in the mouth of Ahab's prophets. He speaks falsely to us in the name of the Lord.’ (I Kings 22. 22; Jer. 43.2). I do not speak this, that this particular was the mind of the Lord in anything; yet we may not break abruptly off, concluding that what one spoke was not the mind of the Lord: we must consider whether something was not spoken by others which may be the mind of the Lord. Truly I am very tender in this thing: if we shall wait for God, and if God shall speak to us and we not hearken, we shall bring much evil upon ourselves. God hath spoken in several ages in sundry ways. Of old when they sent to a pro phet and he comes and tells them upon his bare word, he tells them that he received such a message from the Lord. But God hath put us upon such a course which I cannot but reverence, and God does not now speak by one particular man, but in every one of our hearts; and certainly if it were a dangerous thing to refuse a message that came from one man to many, it is a more dangerous thing to refuse what comes from God, being spoke by many to us. I shall add this: that it seems to me evident and clear that this hath been a voice from heaven to us, that we have sinned against the Lord in tampering with his enemies. And it hath so wrought with me that though I cannot run precipitately to work, yet I dare not open my mouth for the benefit or upholding of that kingly power. I think that hath been the voice of God, and whatsoever was contradicted by events was only our precipitate running on, our taking hold of an opportunity before it was given. And therefore I desire we may not precipitately run on, but wait upon God, that in the issue we may not see that God hath not spoken to us; and if the Lord hath spoken to us I pray God keep us from that sin that we do not hearken to the voice of the Lord.
Cromwell: I shall not be unwilling to hear God speaking in any man; but I think that God may as well be heard speaking in that which is to be read, as otherwise.
But I shall speak a word in that which Lieutenant-Colonel Goffe said, because it seems to come as a reproof to me, and I shall be willing to receive a reproof when it shall be in love, and shall be so given, but not otherwise. That which he speaks was, that at such a meeting as this we should wait upon God, and hearken to the voice of God speaking in any of us. I confess it is an high duty, but when anything is spoken as from God I think the rule is, Let the rest judge! (I Cor. 14.29) It is left to me to judge for my own satisfaction, and the satisfaction of others, whether it be of the Lord or not, and I do no more. I do not judge conclusively, negatively, that it was not of the Lord, but I do desire to submit it to all your judgments, whether it was of the Lord or no. I did offer some reasons which did satisfy me -- I know not whether they did others. If in those things we do speak, and pretend to speak from God, there be mistakes of fact, if there be a mistake in the thing or in the reason of the thing, truly I think it is free for me to show both the one and the other, if I can. Nay, I think it is my duty to do it; for no man receives anything in the name of the Lord further than to the light of his conscience appears. I can say in the next place -- and I can say it heartily and freely: as to the matter of which he speaks I must confess I have no prejudice, not the least thought of prejudice upon that ground -- I speak it truly as before the Lord. But this I think: that it is no evil advertisement, to wish us in our speeches of righteousness and justice to refer us to any engagements that are upon us, and it is that which I have learned (i.e. taught) in all our debates. I have still desired we should consider where we are, and what engagements are upon us, and how we ought to go off as becomes Christians. This is all that I aimed at and I do aim at. And I must confess I had a marvellous reverence and awe upon my spirit when we came to speak. We said, let us speak one to another what God hath spoken to us; and, as I said before, I cannot say that I have received anything that I can speak as in the name of the Lord -- not that I can say that anybody did speak that which was untrue in the name of the Lord, but upon this ground, that when we say we speak in the name of the Lord it is of an high nature.
Lieutenant-Colonel Goffe made an apology for what he had said before.
William Allen: My desire is to see things put to an issue. Men have been declaring their thoughts, and truly I would crave liberty to declare mine. The difference between us, I think, is in the interest of King and Lords, some declaring against the name and title of King and Lords, others preferring to retain them. For my part I think, clearly, according to what we have engaged we stand bound; and I think we should be looked upon as persons not fit to be called Christians, if we do not work up to them. As first, concerning the King. You say you will set up the King as far as may be consistent with, and not prejudicial to, the liberties of the kingdom; and really I am of that mind too . If the setting up of him be not consistent with them, and prejudicial to them, then down with him; but if he may be so set up -- which I think he may -- then set him up, and it is not our judgment only, but of all save those that set forth The Case of the Army.
Rainborough took occasion to take notice as if what Mr. Allen spoke did reflect upon himself or some other there, as if it were asserted that they were against the name of King and Lords.
Sexby: Truly I must be bold to offer this one word unto you. Here was somewhat. spoke of the workings and actings of God within us; I shall speak a word of that. The Lord hath put you into a state, or at least suffered you to run yourselves into such a one, that you know not where you are. You are in a wilderness condition. Some actings among us singly and jointly are the cause of it. Truly I would entreat you to weigh that. We find in the word of God, ‘I would heal Babylon, but she would not be healed.’ (Jer. 51. 9; 13. 23) I think that we have gone about to heal Babylon when she would not. We have gone about to wash a blackamoor, to wash him white, which he will not. We are going about to set up that power which God will destroy: I think we are going about to set up the power of kings, some part of it, which God will destroy; and which will be but as a burdensome stone (Zech. 12. 3; Matt. 21. 44) that whosoever shall fall upon it, it will destroy him. I think this is the reason of the straits that are in hand. I shall propose this to our Honours, to weigh the grounds, whether they be right, and then you shall be led in pleasant paths by still waters, and shall not be offended.
Cromwell: I think we should not let go that motion which Lieutenant-Colonel Goffe made, and so I cannot but renew that caution that we should take heed what we speak in the name of the Lord. As for what that gentleman spoke last, but that it was with too much confidence, I cannot conceive that he altogether meant it. I would we should all take heed of mentioning our own thoughts and conceptions with that which is of God. What this gentleman told us was that which he conceived was our great fault. He alludes to such a place of scripture: ‘We would have healed Babylon but she would not.’ The gentleman applied it to us, as that we had been men that would have healed Babylon, and God would not have had her healed. Truly though that be not the intent of that scripture, yet I think it is true that whosoever would have gone about to heal Babylon when God hath determined to destroy her, he does fight against God, because God will not have her healed. And yet certainly in general to desire an healing, it is not evil, though indeed when we are convinced that it is Babylon we are going about to heal I think it's fit we should then give over our healing.
But I shall desire to speak a word or two since I hear no man offering anything as a particular dictate from God that he would speak to us, and I should desire to draw to some conclusion of that expectation of ours. Truly, as Lieutenant-Colonel Goffe said God hath in several ages used several dispensations, and yet some dispensations more eminently in one age than another. I am one of those whose heart God hath drawn out to wait for some extraordinary dispensations, according to those promises that he hath held forth of things to be accomplished in the later times, and I cannot but think that God is beginning of them. Yet certainly we do well to take heed, upon the same ground that we find in the Epistle of Peter, where he speaks of the scriptures, to which, says he, you do well to take heed as ‘a more sure work of prophecy’ than their testimonies were, as a light shining in a dark place. (2 Pet. 1. 19) If when we want particular and extraordinary impressions, we shall either altogether sit still because we have them not, and not follow that light that we have, or shall go against, or short of, that light that we have, upon the imaginary apprehension of such divine impressions and divine discoveries in particular things -- which are not so divine as to carry. their evidence with them to the conviction of those that have the Spirit of God within them -- I think we shall be justly under a condemnation. Truly we have heard many speaking to us; and I cannot but think that in many of those things God hath spoke to us. I cannot but think that in most that have spoke there hath been something of God laid forth to us; and yet there have been several contradictions in what hath been spoken. But certainly God is not the author of contradictions. The contradictions are not so much in the end as in the way. I cannot see but that we all speak to the same end, and the mistakes are only in the way. The end is to deliver this nation from oppression and slavery, to accomplish that work that God hath carried us on in, to establish our hopes of an end of justice and righteousness in it. We agree thus far. Further too: that we all apprehend danger from the person of the King and from the Lords -- I think we may go thus far farther, that all that have spoke have agreed in this too, though the gentleman in the window (The reference is to Allen, or to someone whose speech is un recorded). seemed to deny it when he spoke of setting up, but he, if he would declare it, did not mean all that that word might import. I think that seems to be general among us all, that there is not any intention of any in the Army, of any of us, to set up the one or the other. If it were free before us whether we should set up one or the other, I do to my best observation find an unanimity amongst us all, that we would set up neither. Thus far I find us to be agreed; and thus far as we are agreed, I think it is of God. But there are circumstances in which we differ as in relation to this. Then I must further tell you that as we do not make it our business or intention to set up the one or the other, so neither is it our intention to reserve the one or the other, with a visible danger and destructihon to the people and the public interest. So that that part of difference that seems to be among us is whether there can be a preservation of them with safety to the kingdom. First of all, on the one part, there is this apprehension: that we cannot with justice and righteousness at the present destroy, or go about to destroy, or take away, or altogether lay aside, both, or all the interest they have in the public affairs of the kingdom; and those that do so apprehend would strain something in point of security, would rather leave some hazard -- or at least, if they see that they may consist without any considerable hazard to the interest of the kingdom, do so far wish to preserve them. On the other hand, those who differ from this, I do take it (in the most candid apprehension) that they seem to run thus: that there is not any safety or security to the liberty of the kingdom, and to the public interest, if you do retain these at all; and therefore they think this is a consideration to them paramount to the consideration of particular obligations of justice, or matter of right or due towards King or Lords. Truly I think it hath pleased God to lead me to a true and clear stating of our agreement and our difference. And if this be so, we are the better prepared to go on. If this be not so, I shall desire that any one that hath heard me will declare it, if he do think that the thing is misstated as to our agreement or difference.
I shall go on, only in a word or two, to conclude that we have been about. As to the dispensations of God, it was more particular in the time of the Law of Moses than in the time of the law written in our hearts, that word within us, the mind of Christ; (1 Heb. 8. 10; 1 Cor. 2. 16) and truly when we have no other more particular impression of the power of God going forth with us, I think that this law and this word speaking within us, which truly is in every man who hath the Spirit of God, we are to have a regard to. And this to me seems to be very clear, how we are to judge of the apprehension of men as to particular cases, whether it be of God or no. When it doth not carry its evidence with it, of the power of God to convince us clearly, our best way is to judge the conformity or disformity of it with the law written within us, which is the law of the Spirit of God, the mind of God, the mind of Christ. And as was well said by Lieutenant-Colonel Jubbes, for my part I do not know any outward evidence of what proceeds from the Spirit of God more clear than this, the appearance of meekness and gentleness and mercy and patience and forbearance and love, and a desire to do good to all, and to destroy none that can be saved. And for my part I say, where I do see this, where I do see men speaking according to this law which I am sure is the law of the Spirit of Life I am satisfied. But I cannot but take that to be contrary to this law, which is, as he said, of the spirit of malice and envy, and things of that nature. And I think there is this radically in that heart where there is such a law as leads us against all opposition. On the other hand, I think that he that would decline the doing of justice where there is no place for mercy, and the exercise of the ways of force, for the safety of the kingdom, where there is no other way to save it, and would decline these out of the apprehensions of danger and difficulties in it, he that leads that way, on the other hand, doth also truly lead us from that which is the law of the Spirit of Life, the law written in our hearts. And truly having thus declared what we may apprehend of all that hath been said, I shall wish that we may go on to our business; and I shall only add several cautions on the one hand, and the other.
I could wish that none of those whose apprehensions run on the other hand, that there can be no safety in a consistency with the person of the King or the Lords, or in their having the least interest in the public affairs of the kingdom -- I do wish that they will take heed of that which some men are apt to be carried away by, namely apprehensions that God will destroy these persons or that power; for that they may mistake in. And though I myself do concur with them, (Note from editor: I have not ventured alter the text in a point so crucial But the statement does not entirely harmonize with the tenor of Cromwell's utterances in the Debates, and I suspect that what he said was: ‘And though I myself do concur with them, perhaps, upon some ground of hope that God will do so.’ The repetition of such a phrase as ‘concur with them’ is very common in the MS) and perhaps concur with them upon some ground that God will do so, yet let us not make those things to be our rule which we cannot so clearly know to be the mind of God. I mean in particular things let us not make those our rules: that ‘this is to be done; this is the mind of God; we must work to it.’ But at least let those to whom this is not made clear, though they do think it probable that God will destroy them, yet let them make this a rule to themselves: ‘Though God have a purpose to destroy them, and though I should find a desire to destroy them -- though a Christian spirit can hardly find it for itself -- yet God can do it without necessitating us to do a thing which is scandalous, or sin, or which would bring a dishonour to his name.’ And therefore those that are of that mind, let them wait upon God for such a way when the thing may be done without sin, and without scandal too. Surely what God would have us do, he does not desire we should step out of the way for it. This is the caution, on the one hand, that we do no wrong to one or other, and that we abstain from all appearance of wrong, and for that purpose avoid the bringing of a scandal to the name of God, and to his people upon whom his name is bestowed. On the other hand, I have but this to say: that those who do apprehend obligations lying upon them -- either by a general duty or particularly in relation to the things that we have declared, a duty of justice, or a duty in regard of the Engagement -- that they would clearly come to this resolution, that if they found in their judgments and consciences that those engagements led to anything which really cannot consist with the liberty and safety and public interest of this nation, they would account the general duty paramount to the other, so far as not to oppose any other that would do better for the nation than they will do. If we do act according to that mind and that spirit and that law which I have before spoken of, and in these particular cases do take these two cautions, God will lead us to what shall be his way, and first as many of us as shall incline their minds to him, and the rest in their way in a due time.
Bishop: I shall desire to speak one word, and that briefly. After many inquiries in my spirit what's the reason that we are distracted in counsel, and that we cannot, as formerly, preserve the kingdom from that dying condition in which it is, I find this answer, the answer which is vouchsafed to many Christians besides, amongst us. I say it not in respect of any particular persons, but I say that the reason is a compliance to preserve that man of blood, and those principles of tyranny, which God from heaven by his many successes given hath manifestly declared against, and which, I am confident, may yet be our destruction if they be preserved . I only speak this as what is upon my spirit, because I see you are upon inquiry what God hath given in to any one, which may tend to the preservation of the kingdom.
Wildman: I observe that the work hath been to inquire what hath been the mind of God, and every one speaks what is given in to his spirit. I desire as much as is possible to reverence whatsoever hath the Spirit or Image of God upon it. Whatever another man hath received from the Spirit, that man cannot demonstrate it to me but by some other way than merely relating to me that which he conceives to be the mind of God. In spiritual matters he must show its conformity with scripture, though indeed it is beyond the power of the reason of all the men on earth to demonstrate the scriptures to be the scriptures written by the Spirit of God, and it must be the spirit of faith in a man himself that must finally make him believe whatsoever may be spoken in spiritual matters. The case is yet more difficult in civil matters; for we cannot find anything in the word of God of what is fit to be done in civil matters. But I conceive that only is of God that does appear to be like unto God -- to practise justice and mercy, to be meek and peaceable. I should desire therefore that we might proceed only in that way, if it please this honourable Council, to consider what is justice and what is mercy, and what is good, and I cannot but conclude that that is of God. Otherwise I cannot think that any one doth speak from God when he says what he speaks is of God.
But to the matter in hand. I am clearly of opinion with that gentleman that spake last save one, that it is not of God to decline the doing of justice where there is no way left of mercy; and I could much concur that it is very questionable whether there be a way left for mercy upon that person that we now insist upon. I would know whether it is demonstrable by reason or justice, that it is right to punish with death those that according to his command do make war, or those that do but hold compliance with them, and then to say that there is a way left for mercy for him who was the great actor of this, and who was the great contriver of all? But I confess because it is in civil matters I would much decline that, and rather look to what is safety, what the mind doth dictate from safety. What is for the safety of the people, I know it cannot be the mind of God to go contrary to that. But for what particulars that gentleman speaks, of the differences between us, I think they are so many as not easily to be reckoned up. That which he instanced was that some did desire to preserve the person of the King and persons of the Lords, so far as it was consistent with the safety or the good of the kingdom, and other persons do conceive that the preservation of the King or Lords was inconsistent with the people's safety, and that law to be paramount to all considerations.
Ireton: Sir, I think he did not speak of the destroying of the King and Lords -- I have not heard any man charge all the Lords so as to deserve a punishment -- but of a reserving to them any interest at all in the public affairs of the kingdom.
Wildman addressing Cromwell: Then, sir, as I conceive, you were saying the difference was this: that some persons were of opinion that they stood engaged to the preservation of the power of King and Lords, while others held that the safety of the people was paramount to all considerations, and might keep them from any giving them what was their due and right.
Ireton: I think it was said that while some men did apprehend that there might be an interest given to them with safety to the kingdom, others do think that no part of their interest could be given without destruction to the kingdom.
Wildman addressing Ireton: For the matter of stating the thing in difference, I think that the person of King and Lords are not so joined together by any; for as yourself said, none have any exception against the persons of the Lords or name of Lords. But the difference is whether we should alter the old foundations of our government so as to give to King and Lords that which they could never claim before. Whereas it's said that those that dissent (i.e. to giving Kings and Lords a negative voice) look after alteration of government, I do rather think that those that do assent do endeavour to alter the foundations of our government, and that I shall demonstrate thus. According to the King's oath he is to grant such laws as the people shall choose, and therefore I conceive they are called laws before they come to him. They are called laws that he must confirm, and so they are laws before they come to him. To give the King a legislative power is contrary to his own oath at his coronation, and it is the like to give a power to the King by his negative voice to deny all laws. And for the Lords, seeing the foundation of all justice is the election of the people, it is unjust that they should have that power. And therefore I conceive the difference only is this: whether this power should be given to the King and Lords or no.
For the later part of that noble gentleman's words, this may be said to them: whether this consideration may not be paramount to all engagements, to give the people what is their due right.
Ireton: The question is not, whether this should be given to King and Lords, or no; but the question is: whether that interest that they have in this if they have any, whether it should be now positively insisted upon to be clearly taken away.
Wildman: Sir, I suppose that the interest they have, if they have any -- if (for that supposition is very well put in) -- for (as I said before) I conceive that neither King nor Lords according to the foundation of government ever had a right --
Ireton interrupting: I spake it to you, and those that are of your mind, if you were not satisfied not to have an exception.
Wildman: Then, I say, the whole tenor of the propositions or proposals must be altered, if anything be in them allowing the King a negative voice. I conceive, thus not to express it, because it hath been usurped, is to confirm his usurpation of it. For many years this hath been usurped. Now, if after God hath given us the victory over them we shall not declare against them, we give no security for the people's liberty.
Ireton: You speak part to the point of justice and part to the point of safety. To the point of justice you seem to speak this: that by the fundamental constitutions of this kingdom, neither King nor Lords have rightfully a negative voice; and therefore to take it away, or to clear it that they have none, is but justice. I think that is it: that by the fundamental constitution neither of them can claim a voice, and so it should be given to neither of them.
You seem to argue only from the King's oath. And then you conclude: if, as it appears by that, they had it not before, though we all be satisfied that we would say nothing to give them it, yet if we do not expressly take it away -- nay, if we do send a proposal to any of them to know their opinion -- we do leave to them a power to assent or dissent, and give them that which we had before –
Wildman, interrupting: Sir, you well remember that that which you argue of the King's oath --
Ireton: And I know for my own part no other evidence than an old statute or two cited in the declaration wherein the Commons declare, with reference to the coronation oath, the form of the King's withholding of assent, and the custom of Parliament, the extent of their own, and the limits of his, legislative power. (Note: Presumably Ireton refers to Parliament's Third Remonstrance 26th May 1642 (Husband's Exact Collection of All Remonstrances, London, 1643, pp. 266 ff.). The words added pretend to be no more than a plausible completion of the sentence).
I remember I spoke it, and I speak it again, and that this is the intent, I do verily believe: that the original sense and intention of the oath of the King's which is published in that declaration of the Commons was, and is, and ought to be, that the King ought to confirm those laws that the Commons choose. Now whether this King be so bound by his oath as that he breaks his oath if he do not confirm every law that they seek, I conceive that depends upon what he did verily at his coronation make his oath; but I think that in the sense and intention of the people of the kingdom their intention was that he should confirm all the laws that they should choose. But you must take notice that the oath doth take them as laws before he should make them: it calls them laws, the laws in election, quas vulgus elegerit. The King promises that he will by his authority confirm those laws that the people shall choose, so that this shows clearly what use, in the constitution of the kingdom, they made of the King in the commonwealth. The Commons are to choose the laws and the King to confirm. They had this to trust to: the King. would confirm what they should choose, and, he confirming them, they were firm laws. I do really believe that this was the agreement that the people of England made with their Kings; that is, they would have him give his consent to what laws they should choose, and so to have that implicit use of him . But this is most apparent, both by the oath itself, and by all the practice since -- the sending of laws to the King -- that they had some relation to the King and to his consent in the making of a law. This I am sure: if it were never so clear in the constitution that they were good laws without it, yet this is clear -- if that were true in the original constitution of this kingdom this is clear -- that they have been sent still to him to be confirmed; as the word was to be confirmed or corroborated, Leges quas vulgus elegerit corroborandas.
And I think: if we do take into account all the sending of laws heretofore to be corroborated by him, and if his denying of some of them -- not absolutely denying but advising -- if these have not at all prejudiced the right of the people against his negative voice, so the sending of propositions now for his assent cannot prejudice the right of the people more than all their sending laws to him before. If we should put it to the King as his act, yet the Parliament have declared it and asserted it, that it is their right that the King ought not to deny any laws they offer to him; it is his oath. They have gone thus much farther, that if he did not confirm them they were laws without him. Upon this there hath been a war made. They have gone so far as to make all laws and ordinances that were needful for the management of the affairs of the kingdom, without the King. It is now come to a period. So that defacto it is thus they have made laws, and held them forth to the kingdom as laws. Now if the King by his act do confirm what the Parliament have done, and condemn all that hath been done against the Parliament, I ask whether he do not acknowledge to all posterity, that in case of safety, when the Parliament doth adjudge the safety of the kingdom to be concerned, they are to make a law without him. For my part I think there can be nothing more clear than this is. For my own particular, I do apprehend that there is that general right in the Parliament, that the laws it shall pass ought to be confirmed by the King; and that is my thought, that without anything of the King's declaration to that purpose, and though they cannot dispense with the suspending power of the King, they are, in point of safety, a law without him. This the Parliament hath declared, and this is asserted in all the declarations that have been sent out, and this is the ground that I have proceeded on in those Proposals of the Arrny. That ‘in a case of safety’ was provided for, in those matters that I have spoke of. I account them materially and essentially provided for in those; and if I had not, for my part I should never have rested or been satisfied in that point, and in other points where there might have been a dispensing with a suspending power, notwithstanding that the liberty of the kingdom hath been provided for in this, that there should not be anything done, or laws made, without the consent of the people.
Audley: I think if so be that this business of the negative voice be all the dispute, we shall all agree in it; for it appeared by what you spake the other night, that he ought to have his negative voice taken away.
Hewson: The Scots have made provision that he should have no negative voice among them, and why should not we make the same provision with them?
Ireton: Those things that the committee did propose, and that they proceeded in last night, (There are no records of the meeting of the committee on Sunday, 31st October. Apparently it was concerned with completing the proposals now about to be read.) will almost end us this dispute. Whereas it was desired that we should take into consideration the several heads to be insisted upon as fundamental laws that we must stand to for the establishing of the kingdom, we were also to consider the previous declarations of the Army, how far they are still binding, and adequate in relation to the security of the kingdom.
The Proposals of the Committee read by Ireton, with numerous interruptions by Wildman, some of which, with Ireton's rebuke, are reported:
Unfortunately these proposals are not copied into the report. Their nature may be fairly accurately deduced: (1) from what is said in the debate; (2) from the resolutions adopted by the committee on 2nd November, which presumably embody these proposals as modified by the debate and perhaps by subsequent discussion in the committee. The question is complicated, however, by the fact that some of the ground covered in the resolutions reached by the committee on 30th October again comes up for debate here on lines different from those of the resolutions. It seems possible that the resolutions should all be recorded as of 2nd November, and that the earlier meetings were given over wholly to preparing the proposals here debated, some of which were dropped from the final resolutions owing to the opposition which they aroused. The proposals appear to have differed from the resolutions in the following points: (1) in more specifically exempting the Lords from the operation of laws to which they had not consented; (2) in the tentative proposal to make them eligible for election to the House of Commons (unless this was ‘offered’ not in the proposals, but in an unrecorded speech in the debate); (3) in adopting from the Heads of the Proposals , I. 1, a partial acceptance of the provisions of the Triennial Act (no word of this in Resolution 2 of 30th October); (4) in suggesting a property qualification of £20 per annum for members of the House of Commons (absent from Resolution 5, of 30th October).
The speeches, which obviously constitute a selection from the objections and replies made during the reading of the proposals, have somehow got themselves embedded in a later part of the report. The clue to their correct position is given by Ireton's request to be allowed to proceed with the reading without interruption.
Wildman: I conceive that in this concerning the succession of Parliaments it is proposed positively that it shall be as triennial Parliaments were.Report concludes: ‘Resolved, that the Council be adjourned till tomorrow, and so from day to day till the Proposals be all debated, and the same committee to meet again.’ The remaining debates are not reported in detail.
Ireton: Tell me whether you did in your way propose a certainty or not. If you did not propose it, the Act for Triennial Parliaments which in its general purport says the same thing, supplies the defect. Observe how far that which you propose is from certainty: the people shall . meet, but you neither say where nor when. We say, with such provision for the certainty of it as in the late Act made for Triennial Parliaments; that Act tells you particularly. But because you must make a new provision for it, since you must make a new division and distribution of the kingdom, and a new circuit, therefore it says, ‘with such further provision as shall be made for reducement of it to a certainty.’
Rainborough stated: That he does take exception at the proposal that no man should be chosen as a representative that hath not twenty pounds a year.
Wildman, interrupting the proposals regarding the negative voice: Though I protest I would not widen a difference, yet I conceive the difference is as wide as ever. In what's there provided for, the interest of the people is laid aside, and the interest of the King and Lords, which the Lord by a judgment from heaven hath given away, is restored.
Ireton: If Mr. Wildman think fit to let me go on without taking an advantage to object to every particular as it is read, he may show afterwards what things they are that do render these propositions so destructive and that give the King and Lords such an interest as they never had before -- if he will take them upon his memory and not by the way.
Wildman: I only affirm that it doth establish the King's and Lords' interest surer than before.
Ireton: I hope Mr. Wildman will not offer such an assertion but he hath arguments to make it good.
Wildman: I would proceed to the things in hand.
Rainborough observed, the reading concluded: That some things in the Agreement were granted there. He moved: To debate whether or no, when the Commons' Representative do declare a law, it ought not to pass without the King's or the Lords' consent.
Ireton: Truly this is all that question amounts to: whether, honour, title, estate, liberty, or life, if the Commons have a mind to take it away by a law, they may do so; so that to say you are contented to leave King and Lords all, this negative being taken away, is as much as to say you are to allow them nothing. Consider how much of this dispute is saved by this that is read to you. It gives the negative voice to the people, that no laws can be made without their consent. And secondly, it takes away the negative voice of the Lords and of the King too, as to what concerns the people; for it says that the Commons of England shall be bound by what judgments and also by what orders, ordinances, or laws, shall be made for that purpose by their representatives; and all that follows for the King or Lords is this, that the Lords or King are not bound by that law they pass, unless they consent to it for their own persons or estates, as the Commons are. Therefore what more is there wanting for the good or safety of the Commons of England?
Rainborough: If the negative voice be taken away on these terms, then if the King or Lords were taking courses destructive, how should they be prevented?
Ireton: It is further provided, if they will meddle in any other offices, as officers of justice or ministers of state in this kingdom, then they likewise are so far subject to the judgment of the House of Commons. If they only stand as single men, their personal interest and the like is secured, and the right of being only judged by their peers, and their individual persons are not bound by any law that they do not consent to.
Rainborough objected: If the Lords should join together by their interest in the kingdom, and should act against the Commons, then the Commons had no way to help themselves.
Ireton: If it comes to a breach of the peace it will come to break some law. The Lords heretofore, as to the breaches of peace, have been subject to the common law; only as to the matter of fact, whether guilty or not guilty, they must be tried by their peers. We have stood very much for ourselves, that we should be judged by our peers, by our fellow Commoners; I would fain know this: since that a Lord is subject to the common law, how we can take away that right of peers to be for the matter of fact, whether guilty or not guilty of the breach of such a law, tried by their peers, when that it is a point of right for the Commons to be tried by their peers.
Rainborough: It seems then that the laws that bind the Commons are exclusive of the Lords.
Ireton: I would fain know this: whether the high sheriff in every county of the kingdom may not apprehend a Lord who shall break the peace. And I am sure the law hath thereby provided for the keeping of the peace. I know that there is no law but that the chief justice of the King's Bench, nay the sheriff of a county, nay the constable of any town, may seize upon him.
Rainborough: If a petty constable or sheriff shall apprehend a peer of the kingdom, I would know whether he can answer it?
Ireton: If a Lord shall be accused, and by a jury found guilty, he will expect to be tried by his peers.
We do agree that all the Commons of England are bound by whatever laws the House of Commons shall pass, but the King and Lords as to their persons are not bound; but if any of them be an officer or minister of state -- and the King is -- then he is to be subject to the judgment of the House of Commons.
Rainborough: How does it reach the King, and not a Lord?
Ireton: Every Lord is not a minister of justice to be accountable to the Commons for his officia1 acts, but if there be any other difference they are tried by their peers.
Rainborough: It is offered to make them capable of being chosen.
Ireton: Every Baron, not disqualified by the other exceptions, may be chosen. (Note: Lacking the proposals, one can only surmise the provision referred to. Possibly the ‘other exceptions’ are those listed as disqualifying persons to be electors or elected, in the committee's fifth resolution).
Rainborough: Is it not so in Scotland?
Ireton: In Scotland every Lord hath his place as burgess.
Rainborough: I ask, why the Lords should not have the same privilege to sit as a body with the Commons.
Ireton: I should think of that as the directest way to make their interest dangerous to the kingdom, in the world; for that, for so many persons to be a permanent interest in the House, every two years --
Colonel Robert Tichborne: I was speaking to this of the negative, I do remember, on Saturday last. We were then at this pitch and there I did leave it, for it did concur with my sense -- and that was this. That all the power of making laws should be in those that the people should choose; only the King and Lords should serve to this end; that laws should be presented to them, that if they would do the Commons that right as to confirm those laws, they should do it; but if they should not think fit to sign them, it should beget a review of that by the House of Commons; and if after a review the House of Commons did declare that was for the safety of the people, though neither King nor Lords did subscribe, yet it was a standing and binding law; and therefore we shall not need to fear and to take off a shadow when they can do us so little hurt. This was what I did then suppose agreed upon.
Ireton: 'Tis true, Saturday night we were thinking of that, but we had an eye to that of safety, that is provided for by the Commons. No money can be raised, no war raised, but by those that the Commons shall choose. And so we thought to put it to consideration, that the Commons should make so much use of the Lords in all affairs that they might occasion a review, but if the Commons should upon that review think it fit, it should be looked upon as a law. But instead of that the committee voted last night that (whether the Commons of England should be bound by all the laws passed in the House of Commons, or whether it should be valid, in the case of safety, that that which you speak of should follow) if there do but continue such a thing as Lords, and they do not sit jointly with the House of Commons, then the Lords shall agree to the laws that the Commons propose or otherwise the Commons shall do it presently themselves But that which was then proposed was questioned in the name of the safety of the Lords themselves, and the securing of their safety, by those that thought it fit that they should have a liberty to preserve one another.
Rainborough: Otherwise if they be injured they have not a remedy.
Ireton: That 's all that can be said. The question is, whether there be so much need of giving them a power to preserve themselves against the injuries of the Commons. They are not capable of judgment as to their persons unless it be as they are officers of state. Only the truth of it is, there is this seems to be taken away by taking away their judicial power: if a man do come and violently fall upon them in the court, or do any such thing, they have no power to preserve themselves, and all their way will be to complain to the House of Commons.
Wildman: I conceive that whilst we thus run into such particulars there is very little probability of coming to satisfaction. The case, as there it is stated in the Agreement, is general; and it will never satisfy the godly people in the kingdom unless that all government be in the Commons, and freely. Truly, I conceive that according to what is there propounded the power of the House of Commons is much lessened -- from what it is of right, not from what it is now by usurpation of King and Lords. Whereas it's said that no law shall be made without the consent of the Commons, it doth suppose some other law -- makers besides the Representative of the Commons. Whereas it is said that the Lords in some cases should sit as an House of Parliament to consent to laws, this doth give them that power which they never had before the wars; for as yourself said of the King's oath, it says that the King shall consent to such laws as the people shall choose, but the Lords have no power. If there be a liberty to the King to give them a title of honour, they ought to be under all laws, and so they ought to concern them as well as all others; which I conceive is diminished in those particulars. Besides, the general current of the whole offer runs that nothing shall be declared against that usurpation in the King formerly, nor in the Lords formerly, and so it remains perpetually dubious. They shall say, ‘Though it does not concern me in my private capacity, yet it does in my politic’; and no law can be made but it must be sent to the King and Lords, and that must occasion a review; and so they must have recourse to the King for their laws, to the unrighteous for righteousness, and so long as it is not clearly declared that he hath no power to deny it, and that they need not address themselves to him; the kingdom cannot be in safety, but his own party may get up and do what he will.
Ireton: This business is much heightened. Yet I do not know, by all that hath been said, that the King or Lords are more fastened on us than before. We hear talk of laws by ancient constitution, and by usurpation, and yet I do not find that the gentleman that speaks of them doth show any evidence what was the ancient constitution, nor of that usurpation, but only the evidence of the King's oath; and from that is drawn, as taking it for granted, that by ancient constitution there were laws without the King's consent. For that question of the oath , I did before clear it sufficiently by comparing that with other evidence; for if we could look upon that as an evidence paramount to all other, that needed not to be so much insisted upon. But if this gentleman can find no law in being in this kingdom, which hath not Lords to it, and King to it, and expressly, ‘Be it ordained by the King, Lords, and Commons’ -- if it always have gone so, and no interruption and no memory of any kind of proceeding to the contrary, but that all laws passed by the Commons have been sent to the Lords for their concurrence -- if the Lords have made amendments and sent down to the Commons for their concurrence, they have had conferences, and when they could not agree, the Commons have let it rest and not insisted upon it: we must look upon these as evidences of what is constitution, together with that testimony of the King's oath. But whereas those other things that are numerous and clear evidences do in express terms relate to the Lords, when I do consider the consequences of that oath, I do conclude either that the word vulgus is concluded to comprehend all Lords and Commons; or else it is thus, that. the two great powers of this kingdom are divided betwixt the Lords and Commons, and it is most probable to me that it was so: that the judicial power was in the Lords principally, and the House of Commons yet to have their concurrences, the legislative power principally in the Commons, and the Lords' concurrences in practice to be desired. It is a clear and known thing that the House of Commons cannot give an oath, by the constitution of the kingdom, but they must resort to the Lords if they will have an oath given. And then, besides, all the judges of the Common Law in the kingdom sit as assistants to the Lords. Upon this the practice hath been in any private cause wherein unjust sentence hath been given -- it is beyond all record or memory -- that by a writ of error that which hath been passed in another court may be judged here. So that these two powers, of the legislative power and the judicial, have been exercised between both Lords and Commons, and neither of them to exercise the one or the other without mutual consent. I desire this gentleman, or any other that argues upon the other part than that we are upon -- unless they will produce some kind of evidence of history upon record by law -- that they will forbear arguments of that nature, calling such things usurpations from constitution or from right, and rather insist upon things of common safety as supposing no constitution at all.
Cowling: Contrary to resolution I must now speak – whether it be from the Lord or no, I know not. What foundation had the Commons of England to sitting (being four hundred years in sitting)? For in King Henry the Third's time, when Magna Charta was finished (which by computation was four hundred years ago), this was granted to the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Edward, the son, was called to be a witness. But when the Lords saw that they were not strong enough to sit in that magnificence, the Commons were drawn in, and it was contrived that. in that law of the King's oath they should also come in. Now had it not been a fundamental law before the Conquest the Commons should not have been drawn up, but that they did drive up now to support the Lords is clear. And what will become of us if we drive up to no other purpose but to support a Norman prerogative? The Lord knoweth, not I.
Ireton: I thought this gentleman had had some answer to this matter of history as to the Norman Conquest before, so as we should not seem to derive all our tyranny from the Norman Conquest. If subjection to a King be a tyranny, we had a King before the Norman Conquest; the question was between him and the Conqueror who had the right to the crown. But I cannot but wonder at the strange inferences that are made. He tells us that there is no memory of the Commons' having any interest in the legislative power till Edward the First's time, and then that the Lords Spiritual and Temporal found themselves not strong enough in King Henry the Third's time, and therefore they brought them in, and yet he would certainly have us to believe that the Commons had all the right before the Conquest.
Cowling: In Alfred's time, the Commons had all the power, and the King, before the Conquest, hanged forty-three of the Lords Justices in one year.
Rainborough: I observe that the Commissary-General is willing to lay that of constitution aside, and that of custom aside, and I think it well for us to consider the equality and reasonableness of the thing, and not to stand upon a constitution which we have broken again and again. I do not find in all the reading that I have done -- I do not know that ever the Commons made war with the King till now, though the Barons did. Yet, besides the oath he found, I would add that one of the main articles against Richard the Second was that he did not concur with, and agree upon, those wholesome laws which were offered him by the Commons for the safety of the people. If that were so great a right as did depose him, it is in the kingdom still, and therefore let us go to the justice of the thing. That justice and reason doth not give to the major part --
Ireton: You would have us lay aside arguments of constitution, and yet you have brought the strongest that may be. I have seen the Articles of Richard the Second, and it is strange that the Parliament should not insist upon that.
Rainborough: That is not the thing that I would consider of.
Ireton: I suppose no man will make a question that that may be justice and equity upon no constitution, which is not justice and equity upon a constitution. As for instance in the matter of a common, &c
. I wish but this, that we may have a regard to safety -- safety to our persons, safety to our estates, safety to our liberty. Let's have that as the law paramount, and then let us regard the positive constitution as far as it can stand with safety to these. Now therefore -- thus for my part I confess it -- if I should have ever given a consent in my heart to propound anything that did not consist with this, with regard to any constitution whatsoever, I revoke it; but for my part I cannot see that anything but safety is provided for. Mr. WiIdman says that many godly men would not be satisfied with this that we have read, which amounts to this: that the Commons have power to make laws for all the Commons of England, and that only the person of the King and the persons of the Lords as persons, with their estates, are freed from them. If this be so, I do not see that they are satisfied with anything without having a power over other men's liberties.
Wildman: Whereas you are pleased to say I produced no other evidence, Colonel Rainborough brought another. Because you did confess the Lords had no other power in making laws --
Ireton inferrupting: I never confessed it in my life, otherwise than by the recitation of that oath: ‘which the people shall choose.’
Wildman: I could wish we should have recourse to principles and maxims of just government, instead of arguments of safety which are as loose as can be. By these principles, government by King and Lords is seen to be unjust.
Ireton: The government of Kings, or of Lords, is as just as any in the world, is the justest government in the world. Volenti non fit injuria. Men cannot wrong themselves willingly, and if they will agree to make a King, and his heirs, their ruler, there's no injustice. They may either make it hereditary or elective. They may give him an absolute power or a limited power. Here hath been agreements of the people that have agreed with this. There hath been such an agreement when the people have fought for their liberty, and have established the King again.
Wildman: 'Twas their superstition, to have such an opinion of a great man.
Ireton: Any man that makes a bargain, and does find afterwards 'tis for the worse, yet is bound to stand to it.
Wildman: They were cozened, as we are like to be.
Ireton: I would not have you talk of principles of just government when you hold that all governments that are set up by consent are just. Argue instead that such or such a way, that can consist with the liberty of the people. Then we shall go to clear reason. That's one maxim, that all government must be for the safety of the people.
Tichborne: Let us keep to that business of safety. 'Tis upon the matter of safety that the real power of making laws is vested solely in the people by what hath been proposed. In that I give King and Lords no more than an opportunity to do me a courtesy if they will --
Wildman interrupting: No courtesy.
Tichborne: It is only an opportunity -- and to show themselves as willing as the Commons. Let us not fight with shadows.
Wildman: We do not know what opportunity God will give us.
Ireton: If God will destroy King or Lords he can do it without our or your wrong-doing. If you not only take away all power from them, which this clearly does, but do also take away all kind of distinction of them from other men, then you do them wrong. Their having such a distinction from other men cannot do us wrong. That you can do to the utmost for their safety is this: that a Lord or King may preserve his own person or estate free from the Commons. Now I would know whether this can be destructive to the Commons, that so few men should be distinct from a law made by the Commons, especially when we have laws made as to the preserving of the peace of the kingdom and preserving every man in his right. The King and Lords are suable, impleadable, in any court. The King may be sued, and tried by a jury, and a Lord may be sued, and tried per pares only, as a knight by esquires. What needs more, where there are such laws already that the King and Lords are so bound?
Wildman: I conceive that the difference does not lie here, but whether the King shall so come in that the Parliament must make their addresses themselves unto him for the confirmation of everything they pass. Whether it be a shadow or no, I think it is a substance when nothing shall be made but by address to the King. This will be very shameful in future chronicles, that after so much blood there should be no better an issue for the Commons.
Ireton: Do you think we have not laws good enough for the securing of the rights of the Commons?
Wildman: I think that according to the letter of the law, if the King will, he may kill me by law. Ask any lawyers of it: by the letter of the present law he may kill me, and forty more, and no law call him to account for it.
Ireton: I think no man will think it. When the King stands thus bound with so many laws about him, and all the Commons of England bound to obey what law they by their representatives do make, let any man guess whether the King, as he is a single person, will hazard himself to kill this, or that, or any other man.
Wildman: It will be thought boldness in me not to agree. If God will open your hearts to provide so that the King may not do me injury, I shall be glad of it. If not, I am but a single man, I shall venture myself and my share in the common bottom.