Front Page Titles (by Subject) Speech of the Protector, February 4, 1658 - The Clarke Papers. Selections from the Papers of William Clarke, vol. 3
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Speech of the Protector, February 4, 1658 - Sir William Clarke, The Clarke Papers. Selections from the Papers of William Clarke, vol. 3 
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 (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1899). 4 vols.
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Speech of the Protector, February 4, 1658
ff. 17-22.His Highnesse came attended with his Gentlemen and Guard of Halbertteirs to the other House of Parliament, and sent the Gentleman Usher with the Black Rodd to call up the Speaker and the House of Commons, who being come to the Barr of the Upper House and his Highnes standing under the canopie of State, he spake to both Houses to this purpose.2
‘I had very comfortable expectacion that God would make the meeting of the Parliament a blessing, and the Lord be my witnes I desire the carrying on of the affaires of the nation to those ends. The blessing which I meane, and which wee ever aimed at, was mercy, that righteousnes and peace which I desire may be improved. That which brought me into the capacity I now stand in was the Peticion and Advice given me by you (meaning the House of Commons), who in referrence to the auncient constitution did draw me to accept of the place of Protector. There is not a man living can say I sought it, (no, not a man nor woman treading upon English ground), but I contemplating the sade condicion of these nations releived from the intestine warr unto 6 or 7 yeares peace, I did thinke the nations happy therein, but to be peticioned thereunto, and advised by you to undertake such a governement, a burden too heavy for any creature, and this is to be done by the House who had the legislative capacity, I did looke that the same men that made the frame should make it good unto mee. I can say in the presence of Him in comparison of whom we are but like poore creeping ants upon the earth, I would have been glad to have lived under my wood side to have kept a flock of sheep rather then undertook such a place of governement as this is; but undertaking it by the Advise and Peticion of you, I did look that you that did offer it unto mee should have made it good.
‘I did tell you at a conferrence concerning it, that I would not undertake it unlesse there might be some other persons between me and the House of Commons, who then had the legislative power, to prevent tumultuous and popular spirits, and it was granted I should name another House, and I named it of men that should meet you wheresoever you goe, and shake hands with you, and tell you it is not titles, nor Lords, nor party they value, but a Christian and an English interest; men of their own ranke and quality, who would not only be a ballance unto you, but to themselves while you love England and Religion. Having proceeded upon these termes and finding such a spirit as is too much predominate, every thing being too high or too low, when vertue and honesty, piety, and justice, are omitted, I thought I had been doing that which was my duty, and thought it would have satisfyed you. But if every thing must be too high or too low, you are not satisfyed. . . .
‘. . . I would not have accepted of the governement unless I knew there would be a just reciprocation between the governor and the governed; unlesse they would take an oath to make good what the Parliaments Peticion and Advice advised me unto. Upon that reciprocation I tooke an oath, and they tooke an oath upon their part answerable to mine, and did not every one know upon what condicion they swore? God knows I tooke it upon condicions expressed in the governement, and I did thinke wee had been upon one foundacion, and upon one bottome; and thereupon I thought my self obliged to take it, and to be advised by these two Houses of Parliament. Wee standing unsettled till wee were arrived at [that], the consequence [of] which would have necessarily been confusion if that had not been setled, yet it is not made hereditary Lords nor hereditary Kings, the power consisting in the two Houses and my self. I do not say what1 the meaning of your oath was to you, that were to go against mine own principles to enter upon another man’s conscience, God will judge between me and you, if there were any intention of setlement, you would have setled upon these bases, and have offered your judgement and oppinion where you pleased therewith.
‘God is my witnes I speake, it is evident to all the world and people living that a new busines hath been seeking in the army against this actuall setlement, by your consent; and I do not speak to these Gentlemen or Lords (pointing to his right hand and left), whatsoever you will call them, I speake not this to them, but to you. You advised me to run into this place, to be in a capacity by your advise, yet instead of owning your oath taken for a grant, some must have I know not what; and you have not only disjoyned your selves, but the whole nation, which is in all likelyhood running into more confusion within these 15 or 16 dayes that you have sat, then they have done from the rising of the last session to this day; through the intention of devising a Commonwealth againe, that some of the people might be the men that might rule all, and they are indeavoring to ingage the army and carry on that thing. And hath that man been true to this nation whosoever, hee especially that hath taken an oath, thus to prevaricate? These designes have been upon the army to breake and divide us, I speak this in presence of some of the army. That these things have not been according to God, nor according to truth, pretend what you will. These things tend to nothing else but the playing the King of Scotts his game, if I may so call him, and I thinke myself bound before God to do what I can to prevent it. That which I told you in the Banquetting House was true, that there were preparacions of force to invade us, God is my witness. It is confirmed to me since, within a day, that the King of Scotts hath an army at the waterside ready to be shipped for England. I have it from those who are eye witness of it. And whilst that is doing there are endeavours from some who are not farr from this place to stirr up the people of this town into a tumulting, what if I said, into rebellion, and I hope I shall make it appeare to be no better, if God assist me. That it is not only by endeavours to prevent the army (whilst you have been sitting), and to draw them to state the question of a Comonwealth, but are also listing of persons by Commission from Charles Stuart to joyne with any insurrection that may be made; and what is like to come upon this (the enemy being ready to invade us), but present ruine, blood, and confusion. And if this be so, and that I do assigne it to this cause, even to the not assenting to that you did invite me to by the Peticion and Advise (that might have been the setlement of the nation). And if this be the end of your sitting, and those be the carriage, I thinke it high time that an end be put unto your sitting. And I do declare to you I do dissolve this Parliament, and let God judge between mee and you.’ To which end many of the Commons cryed Amen. And so the Parliament was dissolved.
[2 ]This speech is number xviii. in Carlyle’s collection. It seemed worth printing at length as a specimen of the reports in the Clarke MSS.,and because it differs more than the previous speeches from Carlyle’s version.
[1 ]wthat in MS.