Front Page Titles (by Subject) Letter to the Agitators. b - The Clarke Papers. Selections from the Papers of William Clarke, vol. 1
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Letter to the Agitators. b - Sir William Clarke, The Clarke Papers. Selections from the Papers of William Clarke, vol. 1 
The Clarke Papers. Selections from the Papers of William Clarke, Secretary to the Council of the Army, 1647-1649, and to General Monck and the Commanders of the Army in Scotland, 1651-1660, ed. C.H. Firth (Camden Society, 1901). 4 vols.
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Letter to the Agitators.b
These are to tell you that this day the Armie is to be disbanded by vote of the Commons House, and referred to the Committee of Derby House for manner, time, and place; and soe farr as I conceive, itt is upon good information, that they intend to disband the Foote first, and then the Horse, and that by Regiments, and they to be 40 miles asunder. Beleive itt my deare fellowes, wee must now be very active to send to all our severall Regiments of Horse and Foote and [let them] knowe that nothing but destruction is threatned. I pray you observe these severall directions and send to the severall regiments, to principle them by all meanes presently, and Sir . . . . . in the Commons House abuised the Generall as basely, they said “there was never Generall did like him, hee is now in Towne and courts Ladies, and itt is a shame for him that he should be now in Towne and his Armie in a distemper,”c and Mr. Hollis hath promised to deliver the Cittee’s Petition though hee himselfe is nominated to have justice done on him;a what this will effect I knowe not but you shall heare by the first. I would you would tell NA that the Printer is taken and undone, and if it be not thought on to have a Presse in the Army wee are undone. Heere is one perfect and workmen:b Lett him therefore see what will be done amongst the Officers concerning itt, and, Sirs, you must be sure to send to the Foote, and tell them this, and be sure they doe not turne. Loving freinds, be active, for all lies at the stake. This is the stratagem that was spoken on the other night. I would intreat you to bestirr your selves, for the good of all the kingdome and their preservation is in your hands. In the name of God improve itt for the kingdomes happinesse.c
[b ]There are two copies of this letter amongst the Clarke Papers, one of which gives it as a postscript to the preceding letter. It was evidently written on May 18, from the reference to the disbanding vote (Commons’ Journals, v. 176).
[c ]See Fairfax Correspondence, iii., 343.
[a ]A newsletter of 18 May says: “The petition of the well affected partie in the City should have been presented this day, but none can be found to present it though tendered at the House of Commons door. I understand that Mr. Hollis hath received the City petition, though himselfe is concerned in it, and hath presented it to the Speaker, with a promise to see it read to-morrow in the House.”
[b ]The advice about the printing press was followed. Hollis, in his Memoirs, § 66, describes the army as “countenancing and publishing seditious pamphlets, for which they had a press which followed the army.” The printer of these pamphlets seems to have been a certain John Harris, who himself wrote several pamphlets under the name of “Sirrahniho.” Harris printed, inter alia, the following pamphlets: “A Declaration of Master William Lenthall, Speaker of the House of Commons, wherein is contained the reasons that moved him to absent himself from the service of the House on Friday, July 30, 1647.” The imprint it bears is “Oxford, printed by J. Harris and H. Hills, living in Pennifarthing Street, 1647.” “The humble address of the Agitators, 14 Aug. 1647,” is said to be printed at London, “for J. Harris, Printer to his Excellency Sir Thomas Fairfax,” and also “the Resolutions of the Agitators of the army” “printed for John Harris, London, 1647.” On September 30, 1647, Parliament passed a stringent ordinance against unlicensed printing, and, at the request of Fairfax, appointed Gilbert Mabbot, licenser. The political press in general thus passed under the control of the army, and there was no further need of Harris and his travelling press. Old Parliamentary History, xvi., 300, 309. About November, 1647, Harris printed a pamphlet entitled “The Grand Designe or a discovery of that form of Slavery entended, and in part brought upon the free people of England by a powerfull party in the Parliament, and Lieutenant General Cromwell, Commissary General Ireton and others of that faction in the army.” From this time he became closely associated with the Levellers, and published pamphlets for that faction.