Front Page Titles (by Subject) Generall Councill. Whitehall, 23 March, 1648. - The Clarke Papers. Selections from the Papers of William Clarke, vol. 2
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Generall Councill. Whitehall, 23 March, 1648. - Sir William Clarke, The Clarke Papers. Selections from the Papers of William Clarke, vol. 2 
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, 1894). 4 vols.
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Generall Councill. Whitehall, 23 March, 1648.
Itt being for the businesse of Ireland itt was propounded by Col. Whalley, Sir Hardresse Waller, and other officers, that the Lt. Generall would declare himself, whether hee would goe or noe?
The Lieutenant Generall answer’d: That as to will he was uppon the appointment of the Parliament ready to submitt.
That the worke was a greate worke, and would require more of the will and mindes of men to carry itt on, necessary and convenient supplies.
8 Regimentes of Foote and 3000 Horse.
The Councill of State hath by these Gentlemen returned this answer, which in effect was to represent mee Commander in Cheif.a
I told them alsoe my will could nott butt bee subject to those that were over mee, barely consider’d as matter of will; yett inasmuch as this businesse is of soe great importance as itt is, itt was fitt for mee in the first place to consider, how God would incline my heart to itt, how I might by seeking of him receive satisfaccion in my owne spiritt, as to my owne particuler. Nott that I would putt any termes uppon the State in relation to myself, butt that I would bee glad to see a freenesse and a clearnesse in my spiritt to the worke. And a second consideration was, that if their Lordshippes did thinke, that the naming of a Commander in Cheif might bee some satisfaction to persons, to Officers and souldiers to goe, that itt was very fitt for mee to have a little consideration to that in relation to them, that I might nott bee an occasion by any interest of mine to improve that interest to draw men over and nott to bee well satisfied concerning a just and fitting provision for them before they went. And in the last place, the worke being soe weighty, I did thinke that itt would require many thinges. I had had noe serious thoughts of the businesse, and therefore for mee to give an answer, that they might give the Councill an answer, that they had nott only made a Commander in Cheif, and that itt was accepted by him, I did thinke fitt that they should returne back to them [to ask that I might have time to consider of the matter].
That I having taken time till the beginning of next weeke, I hope noe resolution will bee expected from mee before that time. I doe confesse, my Lord, I should desire, that this businesse of Ireland I might nott goe uppon itt out of any personall respects whatsoever; and I would have personall respects farre from this Army. I doe nott thinke that God hath blest this Army for the sake of any one man, nor has his presence bin with itt uppon any such ground; butt that presence and blessing that God hath afforded this Army, itt hath bin of his owne good pleasure, and to serve his owne turne. That presence and blessing that hee hath afforded us has bin for his owne name sake, because hee would doe amongst the sons of men what seemed good in his eyes for the bringing of his glory and purpose to passe; and uppon this score has this Army undertaken all that itt hath undertaken in the presence of God.
Itt matters nott who is our Commander in Cheif if God bee soe; and if God bee amongst us, and his presence bee with us, itt matters nott who is our Commander in Cheif. Truly I doe beleive that God hath soe principled this Army that there is none amongst us that if God should sett us out any man wee should come to this, to [refuse to] submitt to one another in this for the worke’s sake. Therefore I would that I might thinke of this: what is this businesse of Ireland, what are our considerations in relation to England, to Scotland, to friends heere or there, or enemies any where? And if wee, taking considerations of that kinde and seeking directions from his guidance, answer the best guide that hee shall give to us—And therefore I shall bee bold to offer to you some thoughts of mine, and some considerations which perhaps will best serve to ripen your resolutions as to this undertaking, that soe you may undertake ita from the Lord.
You know how itt hath pleased God to beate downe all your enemies under your feete, both in this Kingdome and the Kingdome of Scotland; and you have with simplicitie of heart made this opposition to those enemies uppon those honest and religious grounds that itt is fitt for godly and honest and religious men to propose to themselves; and God hath brought the warre to an issue heere, and given you a greate fruite of that warre, to witt: the execution of exemplary justice uppon the prime leader of all this quarrell into the three Kingedomes, and of divers persons of very great quality who did co-operate with him in the destruction of this Kingdome. Truly, notwithstanding you have brought this worke to this issue, yett itt seemes your worke is nott att an end. You have yett another enemy to incounter with, and freinds to stand by, [and] the interest you have fought for yett further to make good; to the end you may bee able to resist those that have bin heertofore your enemies, and are still your enemies, and are more enrag’d, and are not only nott warn’d by those examples and those witnesses that God hath witnessed for you, butt they area removed at a further distance, [and are] joyn’d together in stronge combination to revive the worke heere againe—that is certainly in the Kingdome of Scotland, [and] in the Kingdome of Ireland. In the Kingdome of Scotland, you cannott soe well take notice of what is done, nor of this that there is a very angry hatefull spiritt there against this Army, as an Army of Sectaries, which you see all their papers doe declare their quarrell to bee against. And although God hath used us as instruments for their good, yett hitherto they are nott sensible of itt; butt they are angry that God brought them his mercy att such an hand; and this their anger (though without any quarrelling of ours with them) will returne into their owne bosomes; for God did doe the worke without us, and they that are displeas’d with the instruments, their anger reaches to God and nott to [his instruments.]b You see they have declared the Prince of Wales their Kinge; and indeavours are both heere and there with that partie to doe what they can to co-operate with them to cause all this worke to returne againe, and to seeke the ruine and destruction of those that God hath ordain’d to bee instrumentall for their good.
And I thinke you are nott ignorant that a great partie heere does co-operate in the worke, and [that] their spiritts are imbitter’d against us, though they might know that if God had nott used this poore Army instrumentally to doe what they have done, theyc had nott had a being att this time. Butt such is the good pleasure of God as to leave them to the blindnesse of their mindes.
I must needes say I doe more feare—nott that I doe thinke there is a ground to feare itt will bee—but as a poore man that desires to see the worke of God to prosper in our hands, I thinke there is more cause of danger from dissunion amongst ourselves then by any thinge from our enemies; and I doe nott know anythinge [that is a] greater [danger] then that, and I believe and I may speake with confidence, till wee admire God and give him Glory for what hee has done. For all the rest of the world, Ministers and profane persons, all robbe God of all the Glory, and reckon itt to bee a thinge of chance that has befalne them. Now if wee doe nott depart from God, and disunite by that departure, and fall into dissunion amongst ourselves, I am confident, wee doing our duty and waiting uppon the Lord, wee shall finde hee will bee as a wall of brasse round about us till wee have finished that worke that hee has for us to doe. And yett nott to bee sensible that this [is God’s work] is the [cause of the] rage and malice of our enemies. . . .
I wish that they may see their errour (those that are good amongst them), and repent; butt certainly this wrath of theirs shall turne to their hurt, and God will restraine the remainder that itt shall nott hurt us.
In the next place wee are to consider Ireland. All the Papists and the Kinges partie—I cannott say all the Papists, butt the greatest partie of them—are in a very stronge combination against you, and they have made an union with those Apostate forces that were under Insiquene, and the Confederate Catholiques of Ireland, and all that partie are in a very stronge combination against you. The last letters that the Councill of State had from thence doe plainly import, that Preston has 8,000 Foote and 800 Horse, that Taaf has as many, that my Lord Clanrikard has the same proportion, that my Lord Insiquene and my Lord Ormond has a matter of 3,000 Foote and 800 Horse, that these are all agreed and ready in conjunction to roote out the English interest in Ireland, and to sett uppe the Prince of Wales his interest there likewise, and to indeavour as soone as they can to attempt uppon our interest in Leinster and Ulster and Conaught. In all which provinces wee have an interest, butt in Munster [we have] none att all; and though that interest wee have in these three provinces itt is nott soe [in] considerable, [yet]a if these Confederate forces shall come uppon them, itt is more than probable, without a miracle from heaven, [that]a our interest will easily bee eradicated out of those parts. And truly, this is really believed: if wee doe nott indeavour to make good our interest there, and that timely, wee shall nott only have (as I said before) our interest rooted out there, butt they will in a very short time bee able to land forces in England, and to putt us to trouble heere. I confesse I have had these thoughts with myself that perhaps may bee carnall and foolish. I had rather bee overrun with a Cavalerish interest [than] of a Scotch interest; I had rather bee overrun with a Scotch interest then an Irish interest; and I thinke of all this is most dangerous. If they shall bee able to carry on their worke they will make this the most miserable people in the earth, for all the world knowes their barbarisme—nott of any religion, almost any of them, butt in a manner as bad as papists—and you see how considerable therin they are att this time. Truly itt is [come] thus farre, that the quarrell is brought to this state, that wee can hardly returne unto that tyranny that formerly wee were under the yoake of, which through the mercy of God hath bin lately broken, butt wee must att the same time bee subject to the Kingdome of Scotland, or the Kingdome of Ireland, for the bringing in of the Kinge. Now itt should awaken all Englishmen, who perhaps are willing enough hee should have come in uppon an accomodation, but [see] now [that] hee must come from Ireland or Scotland. This being soe, I would nott have this Army now soe much [as] to looke att considerations that are personall—whether or noe wee shall goe if such a Commander goe, or such a Commander [do not go], and make that any parte of our measure or foundation—butt lett us goe if God goe. If wee bee still in our calling, prosecuting that cause that hitherto wee have engag’d in, and [if] the opposing those enemies bee a parte of that cause (wherein we desire that there may be noe personal respects in it), and if wee bee satisfied in our judgements and consciences that Hee is in itt, that you would lett this bee your motive. And I doe professe itt as before the Lord of Heaven, and as in his presence, I doe nott speake this to you that I would shifte att all from the command, or in any sneaking way or in any politique [way] lead you to an Engagement before I declare my thoughts in the thinge. Whether I goe or stay [is] as God shall incline my heart to. And if you undertake itt uppon these grounds, I am confident there will nott bee soe much dispute amongst us,a who shall goe as who shall stay. My meaning is, you will—every honest heart that sees a freedome of their wayes will rather bee whetted on, out of love to God and duty to God, to goe where hee may doe him most service, rather then stay. I say except itt bee that God doe cast [hindrances] in men’s wayes by necessity of relations, or laying any law uppon mens hearts, and [other obligations] besides that may otherwise hinder them. I doe nott speake this as thinking butt that hee may bee as honest a man that does desire [to stay as he that desires to go],b [but as thinking that] doing service to God, and giving Glory to God will bee the best motive to this worke. Aye, itt will bee much better to have considerations of this kinde then to lay this as the foundation, who shall command in chief. For my owne parte, though the Councill of State hath putt that uppon mee, yett I have desir’d them to give mee till Tuesday to give in my answer. [I desire you therefore now] to give your resolutions as to the particular Regiments that are to goe, and to state what other demands in that kinde you will make for your going, that may inable those to goe, and to have a subsistence when they goe.
8,000 Foote, 3,000 Horse, and 1,200 Dragoones.
Sir Hardresse Waller.
Made some Objections. That hee thought the worke would nott goe forward till itt bee knowne whether the Commander in Cheif named will goe or nott.
I offer this: That the Army doe move for such provisions as may bee fitt for honest men to aske; and if you goe uppon that account, I thinke my resolution will bee knowne before yours, and that will bee properly in the nature of thinges; itt will bee best and fittest for you to consider of that first, if there bee a designed parte of the Army to goe as ther will probably.
I hope wee are such a Generation of men, I am sure God soe bindes us about as with a garment—therfore wee are to looke one uppon another as if itt were our owne case, all of us being readie to doe itt; and therfore I thinke in order to your proceedinges itt will bee better to consider who shall goe, and what is due to him, and to provide for him as to the point of Arreares, and of provision what will serve for honest men to carry on the worke.
And truly this will spend as much time as Tuesday next comes to.a
Col. Hewson made a learned speech, and instead of addressing himself to his Excellencyb said, An’t please your Majestie.
[a ]See Cal. State Papers Dom. 1649-50, pp. 39, 41, 49, and Commons’ Journals, vi., 162, 176.
[a ]MS. “undertaking.”
[a ]Position of words altered.
[b ]MS. “him.”
[c ]they, i.e. the English Presbyterians.
[a ]MS. in each case reads “butt.”
[a ]MS. those.
[b ]MS. to goe or stay.
[a ]“March 23. This day the Councel of the Army met again and named two officers of every regiment of horse and foot of the Army, and divers garrisons of the Kingdom to meet the next morning, to seek God, together with what advice to offer to the General concerning the expedition for Ireland, and to make a report to the Councel Monday next by three of the clock in the afternoon. The Lieutenant General is to give in his answer to the Councel of State on Tuesday next, whether he will go for Ireland or not.—The Moderate, March 20-27, 1649.
[b ]i.e. Fairfax.