Front Page Titles (by Subject) THE PRESENT MEANS AND BRIEF DELINEATION OF A FREE COMMONWEALTH, EASY TO BE PUT IN PRACTICE, AND WITHOUT DELAY. - The Prose Works of John Milton, vol. 2
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THE PRESENT MEANS AND BRIEF DELINEATION OF A FREE COMMONWEALTH, EASY TO BE PUT IN PRACTICE, AND WITHOUT DELAY. - John Milton, The Prose Works of John Milton, vol. 2 
The Prose Works of John Milton, With a Biographical Introduction by Rufus Wilmot Griswold. In Two Volumes (Philadelphia: John W. Moore, 1847). Vol. 2.
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THE PRESENT MEANS AND BRIEF DELINEATION OF A FREE COMMONWEALTH,
IN A LETTER TO GENERAL MONK.
published from the manuscript.
First, All endeavours speedily to be used, that the ensuing election be of such as are already firm, or inclinable to constitute a free commonwealth, (according to the former qualifications decreed in parliament, and not yet repealed, as I hear,) without single person, or house of lords. If these be not such, but the contrary, who foresees not, that our liberties will be utterly lost in this next parliament, without some powerful course taken, of speediest prevention? The speediest way will be to call up forthwith the chief gentlemen out of every county; to lay before them (as your excellency hath already, both in your published letters to the army, and your declaration recited to the members of parliament) the danger and confusion of readmitting kingship in this land; especially against the rules of all prudence and example, in a family once ejected, and thereby not to be trusted with the power of revenge: that you will not longer delay them with vain expectation, but will put into their hands forthwith the possession of a free commonwealth; if they will first return immediately and elect them, by such at least of the people as are rightly qualified, a standing council in every city and great town, which may then be dignified with the name of city, continually to consult the good and flourishing state of that place, with a competent territory adjoined; to assume the judicial laws, either those that are, or such as they themselves shall new make severally, in each commonalty, and all judicatures, all magistracies, to the administration of all justice between man and man, and all the ornaments of public civility, academies, and such like, in their own hands. Matters appertaining to men of several counties or territories, may be determined, as they are here at London, or in some more convenient place, under equal judges.
Next, That in every such capital place, they will choose them the usual number of ablest knights and burgesses, engaged for a commonwealth, to make up the parliament, or (as it will from henceforth be better called) the Grand or General Council of the Nation: whose office must be, with due caution, to dispose of forces, both by sea and land, under the conduct of your excellency, for the preservation of peace, both at home and abroad; must raise and manage the public revenue, but with provident inspection of their accompts; must administer all foreign affairs, make all general laws, peace or war, but not without assent of the standing council in each city, or such other general assembly as may be called on such occasion, from the whole territory, where they may, without much trouble, deliberate on all things fully, and send up their suffrages within a set time, by deputies appointed. Though this grand council be perpetual, (as in that book I proved would be best and most conformable to best examples,) yet they will then, thus limited, have so little matter in their hands, or power to endanger our liberty; and the people so much in theirs, to prevent them, having all judicial laws in their own choice, and free votes in all those which concern generally the whole commonwealth; that we shall have little cause to fear the perpetuity of our general senate; which will be then nothing else but a firm foundation and custody of our public liberty, peace, and union, through the whole commonwealth, and the transactors of our affairs with foreign nations.
If this yet be not thought enough, the known expedient may at length be used, of a partial rotation.
Lastly, If these gentlemen convocated refuse these fair and noble offers of immediate liberty, and happy condition, no doubt there be enough in every county who will thankfully accept them; your excellency once more declaring publicly this to be your mind, and having a faithful veteran army so ready and glad to assist you in the prosecution thereof. For the full and absolute administration of law in every county, which is the difficultest of these proposals, hath been of most long desired; and the not granting it held a general grievance. The rest, when they shall see the beginnings and proceedings of these constitutions proposed, and the orderly, the decent, the civil, the safe, the noble effects thereof, will be soon convinced, and by degrees come in of their own accord, to be partakers of so happy a government.