- Postscript to the 1950 Edition
- Preface to the Second Edition
- Part I.: The Putney Debates
- At the General Council of Officers 1 At Putney, 28th October 1647.
- Putney, 29th October 1647
- Putney, 1st November 1647 At the General Council of the Army
- Part II.: The Whitehall Debates a
- General Council 1 At Whitehall, 14th December 1648 B
- Council of Officers, 8th-11th January 1649
- Whitehall, 13th January 1649 General Council 1 a
- Part III.: Puritan Views of Liberty a
- I.: Some Principles of the Puritan Parties
- From John Saltmarsh, Smoke In the Temple (1646) B
- From J[ohn] G[oodwin], Independency God’s Verity (1647) a
- II.: The Law of Nature
- From William Ames, Conscience (1639) a
- III.: Religious Principles of Resistance
- Christian Obedience and Its Limits From Calvin’s Institution of Christian Religion (thomas Norton’s Translation) a
- Presbyterian Principles of Resistance From [samuel Rutherford], Lex, Rex (1644) a
- Independent Principles of Resistance From John Goodwin, Right and Might Well Met (1649) a
- IV.: The Law and the Gospel: Christian Liberty
- From Luther’s Commentary Upon Galatians (edition of 1644) a
- Milton On Christian Liberty
- V.: The Privileges of the Saints
- The Elect and the Reprobate From William Prynne, Anti-arminianism (1630) a
- The Millennium At Hand [hanserd Knollys], 1 a Glimpse of Sion’s Glory (1641) a
- The Rule of the Saints 1 Certain Queries Presented By Many Christian People (1649) a
- VI.: Liberty of Conscience
- Independent Position From the Ancient Bounds (1645) a
- Separatist Position From Roger Williams, the Bloody Tenent of Persecution 1 (1644) a
- VII.: Models of a Free Church
- The Power of the People From Thomas Goodwin and Philip Nye’s Introduction to John Cotton’s the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven (1644) a
- The Church Covenant From [richard Mather], an Apology For Church Covenant (1643) a
- From the Saints’ Apology (1644) a
- A Spiritual Church From William Dell, the Way of True Peace and Unity 1 (1649) a
- VIII.: Leveller Principles 1
- God and Man From John Lilburne, the Free-man’s Freedom Vindicated (1646) a
- An Appeal to Parliament From the Large Petition of the Levellers 1 (march 1647) B
- An Appeal to the People From Richard Overton, an Appeal From the Commons to the Free People (1647) a
- Parliament Once More From the Levellers’ Petition to the House of Commons, 1 11th September 1648. A
- Agreements of the People the History of the Second Agreement 1 From John Lilburne, Legal Fundamental Liberties (1649) a
- The Second Agreement of the People (1648) From John Lilburne, Foundations of Freedom a
- The Female of the Species From a Petition of Women, Affecters and Approvers of the Petition of Sept. 11, 1648 1 (5th May 1649) a
- Democracy In the City From London’s Liberties Or a Learned Argument of Law and Reason 1 (dec. 1650) a
- IX.: Digger Principles
- From the True Levellers’ Standard Advanced 1 (1649) a
- Appendix a
- A.: the Spirit of the New Model
- 1.: Reports of Observers
- 2.: A Sermon At Putney From Thomas Collier, a Discovery of the New Creation a (preached At the Headquarters, Putney, 29th Sept. 1647)
- B.: the Army Organizes: May—june 1647
- 3.: Apology of the Soldiers to Their Officers 1 (3rd May ) a
- 4.: Advertisements For the Managing of the Counsels of the Army, 1 Walden, 4th May 1647 B
- 5.: From the Grievances of Regiments, Presented At Saffron Walden, 13th-14th May a
- 6.: Letters to the Agitators 1
- 7.: From a Solemn Engagement of the Army 1 (5 Th June ) a
- 8.: From a Representation of the Army (14th June) a
- C.: The Reading Debates
- 9.: Summary, With Selections, of the Debate In the General Council of the Army, At Reading, 16th July 1647, On the Proposals of the Agitators For Five Points to Be Insisted On By the Army and Enforced By a March On London a
- 10.: Account of the Debate, In a Newsletter From Reading, B 17 Th July.
- D.: Documents Relating to the Putney Debates
- 13.: From the Heads of the Proposals a
- 14.: The Levellers’ Discontent With the Heads of the Proposals From [john Wildman], Putney Projects a
- 15.: From [john Wildman], the Case of the Army Truly Stated a 15th Oct.
- 16.: A Letter From the Agents to the Whole Soldiery From Two Letters From the Agents of the Five Regiments (28th Oct.) a
- 17.: Letter of John Saltmarsh to the Council of War (28th Oct.) a
- 18.: From a Call to All the Soldiers of the Army By the Free People of England 1 (29 Th Oct.) a
- 19.: An Agreement of the People ( Printed 3rd Nov.) a
- 20.: Summary (with Quotation) of the Reports of the Committee On the Army’s Papers and the Agreement of the People a
- 21.: Proceedings In the General Council, 4th-9th Nov. From a Letter From Several Agitators to Their Regiments (11th Nov.) a
- E.: Documents Relating to the Whitehall Debates
- 22.: Petition of 11th September 1648:
- 23.: From a Remonstrance of Fairfax and the Council of Officers 1 (16th November 1648) a
- 24.: History of the Second Agreement of the People:
- 25.: From the Declaration of the Army, On the March to London, 30th November 1648 a
- 26.: Text of the Second Agreement of the People:
- 27.: Summary of the Debates On the Agreement, In the Council of Officers, 16th December-6th January; and of the Examination of Elizabeth Poole On 29th December and 5th January. a
- 28.: The Levellers’ Dissatisfaction With the Debates From John Lilburne, a Plea For Common Right and Freedom (28th Dec. 1648) a
- F.: Retrospect
- 29.: From a Declaration of the English Army Now In Scotland, 2 1st Aug. 1650 a
- Notes On Text
THE SPIRIT OF THE NEW MODEL
Reports of Observers
Hugh Peter writes:
[T]o return to your Army: . . . two things will commend them above any army I have known, viz., their unity, and activity. I have not known the least breach among them in the least to distract or retard your affairs, though their judgments may differ in many particulars. * * * I can say, your Army is under a blessed conduct, their counsels godly and faithful. More love I have not seen, which I believe may spring from this root: that through grace we make godliness our interest, and not opinion, the which we wish were the spirit of the kingdom though we prescribe to none. Many there be who lose a real interest to maintain a floating fancy. We could desire that the choler that we find in this city, yea that black choler (I had almost said that black-coat choler) were spent upon the ignorance and profaneness of the country. One thing there is most singular in this your Army: that whereas soldiers usually spend and make forfeiture even of the civility they bring into other armies; here men grow religious, and more spiritual-thriving than in any place of the kingdom, that I may a little change the old verse, and say, Multa fides pietasque vivis, quae haec castra sequntur. Yea, for myself, though I have been long a learner, and sometimes an unworthy teacher of others, yet have [I] more than an ordinary cause to bless God, for being a member of this Army, in reference to my spirituals.
Richard Baxter writes:
The English Army, being . . . new modelled, was really in the hand of Oliver Cromwell, though seemingly under the command of Sir Thomas Fairfax. * * *
We that lived quietly in Coventry did keep to our old principles, and thought all others had done so too except a very few inconsiderable persons. * * * And when the Court News-book told the world of the swarms of Anabaptists in our armies, we thought it had been a mere lie, because it was not so with us nor in any of the garrison or county forces about us. But when I came to the Army, among Cromwell’s soldiers, I found a new face of things, which I never dreamed of. I heard the plotting heads very hot upon that which intimated their intention to subvert both church and state. Independency and Anabaptistry were most prevalent; Antinomianism and Arminianism were equally distributed; and Thomas Moor’s followers (a weaver of Wisbitch and Lyn, of excellent parts) had made some shifts to join these two extremes together. Abundance of the common troopers, and many of the officers, I found to be honest, sober, orthodox men, and others tractable, ready to hear the truth, and of upright intentions. But a few proud, self-conceited, hot-headed sectaries had got into the highest places, and were Cromwell’s chief favourites, and by their very heat and activity bore down the rest, or carried them along with them, and were the soul of the Army though much fewer in number than the rest (being indeed not one to twenty throughout the Army; their strength being in the General’s and Whalley’s and Rich’s regiments of horse, and in the new-placed officers in many of the rest).
I perceived that they took the King for a tyrant and an enemy, and really intended absolutely to master him or ruin him; and that they thought, if they might fight against him, they might kill or conquer him; and if they might conquer, they were never more to trust him further than he was in their power. . . . They said, What were the Lords of England but William the Conqueror’s colonels, or the Barons but his majors, or the knights but his captains? They plainly showed me that they thought God’s providence would cast the trust of religion and the kingdom upon them as conquerors. They made nothing of all the most wise and godly in the armies and garrisons that were not of their way. Per fas aut nefas, by law or without it, they were resolved to take down not only bishops and liturgy and ceremonies, but all that did withstand their way. They were far from thinking of a moderate Episcopacy, or of any healing way between the Episcopal and the Presbyterians’. They most honoured the Separatists, Anabaptists, and Antinomians. But Cromwell and his Council took on them to join themselves to no party, but to be for the liberty of all. * * *
I found that many honest men of weak judgments and little acquaintance with such matters, had been seduced into a disputing vein, and made it too much of their religion to talk for this opinion and for that. Sometimes for state-democracy, and sometimes for church-democracy; sometimes against forms of prayer, and sometimes against infant baptism (which yet some of them did maintain); sometimes against set times of prayer, and against the tying of ourselves to any duty before the Spirit move us; and sometimes about free grace and free will, and all the points of Antinomianism and Arminianism. * * * But their most frequent and vehement disputes were for liberty of conscience, as they called it; that is, that the civil magistrate had nothing to do to determine of anything in matters of religion by constraint or restraint, but every man might not only hold, but preach and do, in matters of religion what he pleased; that the civil magistrate hath nothing to do but with civil things, to keep the peace, and protect the churches’ liberties, &c.
I found that one half almost of the religious party among them were such as were either orthodox or but very lightly touched with their mistakes; and almost another half were honest men that stepped further into the contending way than they could well get out of again, but with competent help might be recovered. But a few fiery, self-conceited men among them kindled the rest and made all the noise and bustle, and carried about the Army as they pleased. For the greatest part of the common soldiers, especially of the foot, were ignorant men of little religion, abundance of them such as had been taken prisoners, or turned out of garrisons under the King, and had been soldiers in his army. And these would do anything to please their officers, and were ready instruments for the seducers, especially in their great work which was to cry down the Covenant, to vilify all parish ministers, but especially the Scots and Presbyterians. For the most of the soldiers that I spoke with never took the Covenant because it tied them to defend the King’s person, and to extirpate heresy and schism.
Because I perceived that it was a few men that bore the bell, that did all the hurt among them, I . . . would be oft disputing with them in the hearing of the rest; and I found that they were men that had been in London, hatched up among the old Separatists, and had made it all the matter of their study and religion to rail against ministers and parish churches, and Presbyterians, and had little other knowledge, nor little discourse of anything about the heart or heaven, but were fierce with pride and self-conceitedness, and had gotten a very great conquest over their charity, both to the Episcopal and Presbyterians. Whereas many of those honest soldiers which were tainted but with some doubts about liberty of conscience or Independency, were men that would discourse of the points of sanctification and Christian experience very savourily.
But we so far prevailed in opening the folly of these revilers and self-conceited men, as that some of them became the laughing-stock of the soldiers before I left them; and when they preached (for great preachers they were) their weakness exposed them to contempt. A great part of the mischief they did among the soldiers was by pamphlets which they abundantly dispersed; such as R. Overton’s Martin Mar-Priest, and more of his, and some of J. Lilburne’s, who was one of them; and divers against the King, and against the ministry, and for liberty of conscience, &c. And soldiers being usually dispersed in their quarters, they had such books to read when they had none to contradict them.
A Sermon at Putney
From Thomas Collier, A Discovery of the New Creationa (preached at the Headquarters, Putney, 29th Sept. 1647)
Isa. 65. 17: Behold I create new heavens, and a new earth. * * *
Some apprehend that Christ shall come and reign personally, subduing his enemies and exalting his people, and that this is the new heaven and the new earth. But this is not my apprehension; but that Christ will come in the Spirit and have a glorious kingdom in the spirits of his people, and they shall, by the power of Christ in them, reign over the world, and this is the new heavens and the new earth.
First, he will have a glorious kingdom in the Saints. The kingdom of God is within you. Heaven is the kingdom of God, and this kingdom is within the Saints. And this is the new creation, the new heaven: the kingdom of heaven that is in the Saints. It’s true we have had, and still have, exceeding low and carnal thoughts of heaven, looking on it as a glorious place above the firmament, out of sight, and not to be enjoyed till after this life. But God himself is the Saints’ kingdom, their enjoyment, their glory. Where God is manifesting himself, there is his and the Saints’ kingdom, and that is in the Saints. Here lieth the great and hidden mystery of the Gospel, this new creation in the Saints. * * *
The nature and glory of it lieth in that renovation or renewing of the mind: an internal and spiritual change, a transformation out of the nature of the first, into the nature of the second, Adam. This I shall for your satisfaction confirm unto you from scripture, although I trust I shall deliver nothing unto you but experimental truth. See 2 Cor. 5. 17: He that is in Christ is a new creature. Old things are passed away. Behold, all things are become new. Here is this new creation within, a new creature, a mind renewed by the Spirit. This is that new man (mentioned, Ephes. 4. 23, 24) which, after God, is created in righteousness and true holiness. * * * Now what this creation or new man is, according to what I understand—no farther I dare to speak, it is that union which the divine nature, the Spirit, hath with and in our spirits, by which union it transforms our spirits into its own glory, and shall in conclusion wholly swallow up the Saints in that spiritual glory, which will be their eternal perfection, their heaven, their kingdom, their glory. This is the first part of both the nature and glory of this new creation. * * *
For I do not understand by the new heavens, a new thing contrary to what hath been formerly, but a higher measure or manifestation of one and the same glory, as the Covenant of Grace was called a new covenant, not because it was not in being formerly but because it should be more gloriously manifested than formerly, it should bring forth more glorious effects in the Saints than formerly. * * * As first, in the times of the Law, God made himself known to his people under dark shadows and types: there was a glory but it was such a glory which made them exceedingly to quake and tremble. Secondly, in the days [of] Christ, who put an end to those shadows, there was a higher manifestation of light and glory, wherein was more clearness of light and joy, which was the young or middle age. But thirdly, in this last time or third dispensation of God to, and in, his people, [it] will be much more glorious, much more in the spirit, and therefore called a new heaven; it shall be the light of the same dispensation begun in the Law. See this confirmed: Rev. 21. 1; 2 Pet. 3. 13; Isa. 66. 22.
Query: Wherein doth the glory of this new heaven consist more than ordinary?
Answ[er]: First in the abundance of knowledge. Isa. 11. 9: The knowledge of God shall cover the face of the earth, as the waters cover the sea. You may read from ver. 6, that the lion and the lamb, &c. shall lie down together. I shall declare by the way what I understand to be the truth intended—not that I limit it from any farther truth that any may see in it.
1. There are all these things within us in that old creation, the lion, and the wolf, &c.; which opposes and prevents the Saints’ joy, and spiritual enjoyment of God. Now these shall be so overpowered by the glorious appearances of light, that they shall no more hurt or destroy the Saints’ peace in their holy mountain, their enjoyment of God in the spirit. . . . The glorious appearings of light in the spirits of Christians will so cover that earth which is within them, that they shall be in a great measure freed from those corruptions, those distractions, which formerly were prevalent in them.
2. God will take away the nature of wicked men, that although they remain wolves, lions, and brutes still, yet they shall not hurt nor destroy in all the holy mountain of God, that is the Church; and that through the abundance of light that shall be communicated, even unto natural men; for the earth, that is earthly men, must give glory to the God of heaven; so Hab. 2. 14. * * *
As ignorance is the grand cause of so much corruption, so many mistakes in the things of God (for always the will and affection follows the understanding, whether enlightened or blinded), so it is the knowledge of God, the breakings forth of light in the spirit, that delivers souls from that corruption and darkness. * * *
Query: Wherein shall the knowledge of the Saints increase?
Answ[er]: Amongst many I shall instance in these particulars following.
First, in the knowledge of the mysteries of God, and that as he is in them, for God is a mystery (Col. 2. 2). And it is by the appearance of God in us, we come to know God who is a mystery. The truth is that we have had, and still have, low and carnal thoughts of God, judging him to be a God afar off, and not a God nigh at hand (this is that Antichrist which denies Christ to be come in the flesh). This is that mystery of which we are exceeding ignorant, God manifest in the flesh (1 Tim. 3. 16). We have had very narrow apprehensions of Christ and the manifestation of the glory of Christ, limiting it to that one man, when the truth is that Christ and all the Saints makes up but one Christ (1 Cor. 12. 12). And God as truly manifests himself in the flesh of all his as he did in Christ, although the measure of that manifestation is different. This is a mystery which God is revealing in the spirits of his people, and is indeed the glory of this new creation. This being in some measure manifested in the spirits of Christians, produceth in the second place:
Secondly, a knowledge of their spiritual liberty in Christ.
1. Spiritual liberty and justification from all spiritual enemies, sin, law, condemnation. Whatever opposes the soul’s peace, in this new heaven it’s all done away. John 8. 36: If the Son shall make you free, then you are free indeed. Saints shall now come to see that they are free indeed by Christ. Acts 13. 39: By him all that believe are justified from all things, from which they could not be justified by the Law of Moses. Gal. 5. 1: Thus Saints shall know their liberty and stand fast in it too. * * *
2. In the knowledge of their liberty from men. 1 Cor. 7. 23: Ye are bought with a price, be ye not the servants of men! That is, not to be subject to men in the things of God, in matters of conscience. That belongs only to God himself. It is his proper peculiar right to rule in the spirits of his people, although it’s true that there hath been, and still is, through ignorance, a principle in man not only to usurp authority to rule in and over the conscience of others, but a principle in us also, out of conscience to submit to man in such cases. Now God is discovering, and likewise delivering his people from, this spiritual bondage unto men in the things of God; and that from the knowledge of their liberty in the spirit.
3. There is a liberty in knowledge. 1 John 2. 20: Ye have an unction from the Holy One and ye know all things; that is, all things that the Spirit makes known. They are not tied to other men’s approbation, but walk in that light the Spirit makes known in them. See 1 Cor. 2. 15.
Secondly, the glory of this new creation consists in the Saints’ knowledge of their peace, and union, with God. * * * Every man naturally is at a distance from God, but by Jesus Christ they come to enjoy reconciliation. But . . . they enjoy not only peace with God, but peace with the Saints. It is only the glorious light of this new creation that will put an end to these divisions amongst Christian’s. It is not magisterial power setting up uniformity, but that one Spirit of light and truth that must bring the Saints into this unity. * * * And the truth is that nothing else will be able to put an end to these divisions but this spiritual dispensation, this new creation of God in the spirits of his people, and this is and shall be the glory of this heaven, unity and peace amongst Saints. * * *
2. The glory of this new creation consists not only in knowledge, but in spiritual enjoyment likewise. There is the abundance of spiritual enjoyment; it does not only see and know, but it enjoys what it sees. It sees liberty and peace, and enjoys it and lives in it. It sees God in the spirit and lives in him. * * * Hence it is the Apostle saith (1 Cor. 3. 22) All is yours, &c. * * *
3. The glory of this new creation consists not only in being delivered from legal and fleshly actings, but likewise lives in the power of heavenly and spiritual actings: . . . first . . . in spiritual prayer and praisings; . . . secondly . . . in acts of righteousness and justice unto men. * * *
To speak more externally, by new heavens I understand to be meant a new church estate, and that in opposition unto the old, it’s said to be new:
First, in respect of matter, or members. The old heavens were all carnal and profane creatures, people for the most part without the knowledge of God. Such was the matter of the carnal church. But the matter of this spiritual church, this new heavens, shall be the Saints, such as are all taught of God: Thy children shall be all righteousness (Isa. 60. 21; Rev. 21. ult.).
2. New in opposition to the old manners and old conversation. The members of the old church were perhaps ignorant, profane, having a form of godliness without the power of it; but the members of this new heaven shall so walk with God as to honour his name. God will so gloriously appear in them as that the world shall be convinced by their godly conversation: The remnant that are left shall do no iniquity, &c.
3. They shall be new in respect of form, compacted together by the Spirit, not literal forms and ordinances. The old heaven or church constitution hath been formed up with external compactings, the wisdom and power of the flesh knit together by things without them, not by the bands of the Spirit, the principle and power of love, which is an everlasting band, which will occasion Saints’ communion to be sweet and spiritual.
4. They shall be new in respect of ministry, not in the letter but in the spirit, not fetched out of the bottomless pit of creature-wisdom and human abilities, but the single ministration of the Spirit; pray in the Spirit, preach and prophesy in the Spirit, praise in the Spirit; that is, in the wisdom and power of that law in the Spirit which will deliver Saints from fleshly actings into the glorious liberty of spiritual actings, that they shall no more act from a legal principle to a law without them, but from a principle of light, life, liberty, and power within them. Thus God will create a new heaven, a new church estate in the Spirit, which will produce spiritual communion, spiritual joy and gladness amongst the Saints, who live in this light and glory. * * *
This informs us of the vanity and ignorance of those who seek so much to keep up the old heavens, the old church for matter and members, that will turn the world into church by a human power. They are those that must be spiritually slain. Isa. 65. 11, 12: But ye are they that forsake the Lord, and forget my holy mountain, that prepare a table for the troop, and furnish a drink offering unto that number; therefore Iwill number you to the sword, and ye shall all bow down to the slaughter, &c. Here is the vanity of such persons that seek to uphold forms, fleshly actings, and fleshly compactings, the old ministry fetched out of human abilities, the wisdom of the flesh limiting the Spirit to those human qualifications where he appears least. All these, both persons and things, must bow down to the slaughter.
Now I come to the second part of my text: and a new earth. In this new creation there is not only new heavens, but a new earth.
What this new earth is, it’s to be looked upon either more mystically or more literally, as the new heavens. 1. Mystically, there is an earth in the heart of every man, nay, of every Christian, flesh and fleshly corruptions, fleshly conclusions; which prevents the joy of Saints. Now the Lord will make a new earth, he will subject that old earth that is in his Saints, that it shall not so prevail in them. He will be a fire in them (Mal. 3. 3). * * *
Secondly, by earth I understand to be meant,a the powers of the earth, or the magisterial power, the rule and government of this earth. It shall be an earth wherein dwelleth righteousness (2 Pet. 13).
Query: In what respect may the earthly magistracy or earthly powers be said to be made new?
Answ[er]: First, in respect of the persons ruling, they shall be such as are acquainted with, and have an interest in, the righteous God; that as formerly God hath many times set up wicked men to rule and govern . . . so he will give it into the hands of the Saints.
I question not but that you have heard of the personal reign of Christ. . . .
1. He will have a glorious kingdom in the spirits of his people, and this is the new heavens. And 2. He will in and by his Saints rule the world.
That this is a truth, I shall confirm unto you from scripture. Dan. 8. 27: And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the Saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him. What more mystical truth may be in this scripture concerning the kingdom in the spirit, I shall not question. But this I believe to be a truth, that the nations shall become the nations of Christ, and the government shall be in the hands of the Saints. Isa. 60. 12, [17-18]: The nations and kingdoms that will not serve thee (to wit Christ in the Saints) shall perish; yea, those nations shall utterly be wasted. * * * And I will make thine officers peace, and thine exactors righteousness. Violence shall no more be heard in thy streets, wasting and destruction within thy borders. Jer. 30. 20: Your nobles shall be of yourselves, and your governors shall proceed out of the midst of you. God will raise up men of singular spirits and principles to govern the nations. * * *
Secondly. * * * This is the great work that God hath to effect in the latter days of the Gospel, to reduce magisterial power to its primitive institution, that you may see (Rom. 13. 1), There is no power but isordained of God, and it is ordained for the punishment of them that do evil, but for the praise of them that do well. Although this end hath been a long time lost,a yet now God will reduce it to this institution. This is the great work, Right Honourable, that God calls for at your hands, whom he hath raised up for that end. * * * It is the execution of righteousness, justice and mercy, without respect of persons. It is to undo every yoke. And this being the great work in hand, and that which God calls for, and will effect, give me leave to present amongst many national grievances, some few unto you.
First, spiritual oppressions in matters of conscience. You know that a long time man hath assumed this power to himself, to rule over the consciences of their brethren: a great oppression and that which cannot be borne in souls who live in light, and that from which God will deliver his people, and punish all that oppressed them.
Secondly, in temporal oppressions I shall mind some few.
1. Tyrannical and oppressing laws, and courts of justice; hence it comes to pass many times that to seek a remedy proves destructive—the cure proves worse than the disease. * * *
2. Oppression or grievance is in writing our laws in an unknown tongue, that the most part of our national inhabitants cannot understand their own laws, that the French should be better read in our English laws than those to whom they pertain. * * *
A third oppression the kingdom groans under is a slavery to the wills of men. Although it’s that which hath been always declared against since this warb began, yet we never were so volved up into it as now. There is an affection to arbitrariness in the wills of almost all men, from highest to lowest; men act according to their wills whether with or against law—a burden exceeding oppressive to this kingdom.
A fourth oppression is that of tithes, and . . . the kingdom in almost all parts is sensible of it, and groans under it, with petitions for deliverance. * * *
A fifth oppression and burden of the kingdom is free-quartering of soldiers. Much need there is of provision for soldiers’ pay, lest the cure seem more heavy than the disease; lest the work be either obstructed or else carried on with more difficulty.
Sixthly, and finally, I say unto you, as Paul in another case: Whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are of good report, &c., think on those things, that so justice and righteousness may flow down abundantly without respect of persons. Whatsoever bears but the face of oppression in it, let it be removed.
Use: If this be the new earth and the great interest to be followed, in a word then to conclude, how should this carry on those whom it concerns, who are called of God unto it, to the accomplishment of this great work, to help forwards this great work and design of God in and by you? Note:
First, policy calls for it at your hands, Right Honourable. Is it not time for you to do something for the kingdom, that may engage their hearts unto you? Is there not much division and confusion amongst us? Much expectation of taking away of burdens? Do not the people in their petitions call for it daily? Truly prudent policy calls for righteousness, and undoing of burdens, that the hearts of the people may be engaged unto you in these times of danger and distraction.
Secondly, piety calls for it. It is the great design of God at present to exalt righteousness, and certainly God calls for it at your hands. Do justice, love mercy, walk humbly with thy God (Mic. 6. 8). This the Lord requireth of you.
Thirdly, peace and safety calls for it, your own peace and the kingdom’s peace. What is likely to produce peace in the kingdom, if not the flowing down of righteousness and justice from you, the undoing of heavy burdens, and breaking of every yoke of oppression? Your own peace and safety consists in it. Believe it, there is no safety to be expected if once you derogate from this great interest of God, the public good. * * *
THE ARMY ORGANIZES: MAY—JUNE 1647
Apology of the Soldiers to their Officers (3rd May)a
We your soldiers, who have served under your commands, with all readiness, to free this our native land and nation from all tyranny and oppressions whatsoever, and that by virtue and power derived from this present Parliament, given not only to his Excellency Sir Thomas Fairfax, our now present General, but likewise under all the late generals, his predecessors, under whom we, even the whole soldiery, have served both the state and you faithfully and diligently; by which means God hath been pleased to crown us with victory in dispersing our common adversaries, so that we hoped to put an end to all tyranny and oppressions, so that justice and equity, according to the law of this land, should have been done to the people, and that the meanest subject should fully enjoy his right, liberty, and properties, in all things; which the Parliament have made known to all the world in divers of their declarations, to which they have so often bound themselves, to perform, by their oaths, vows, covenants, and protestations: upon this ground of hope we have gone through all difficulties and dangers, that we might purchase to the people of this land, with ourselves, a plentiful crop and harvest of liberty and peace. But instead of it, to the great grief and saddening of our hearts, we see that oppression is as great as ever, if not greater, yea, and that upon the cordial friends to the Parliament and us, and to the just rights and liberties of this nation; that they with us are slighted, abused, beaten, and dragged to gaols, yea, to the utter ruin of their estates, and loss of their lives; yea, the best and most candid intentions and actions of theirs and ours, grossly and foully misconstrued, even to such a height as deserving no less than to be declared as troublers of, and enemies to, the state and kingdom. And such as have [been] and are now the enemies of the Parliament and kingdom are countenanced and honoured to be in places of general trust, and are made judges of them and us for our lives and estates. * * * From whence, we believe, springs all our miseries, and that so many of our fellow soldiers that have been disbanded have been so rigorously dealt withal asa imprisoned, indicted, and hanged, for things done in time and place of war, and necessity of the Parliament’s service, required in their low condition, and without which they could not have safely sat in the House of Parliament with their heads on. And the reason of all this, we judge, is because our very enemies are made our judges. Yea, such is our condition: though we be oppressed we may not cry, as it is too apparent. When of late we did in a humble and petitionary way seek to make known our grievances to our General, such was our offence as that we must presently, without being heard, be declared enemies to the state. * * *
Therefore, brave Commanders, the Lord put a spirit of courage into your hearts that you may stand fast in your integrity that you have manifested to us your soldiers; and we do declare to you that if any of you shall not, he shall be marked with a brand of infamy for ever as a traitor to his country and an enemy to thisb Army. Read and consider. Was there ever such things done by a Parliament, to proclaim us enemies to the state, as they have done about the late petition? (The Lords and they could quickly agree to this, though they will be very tedious when anything is offered that is for the good of the commonwealth.) And to keep the hirelings’ wages, and not to give them that which they have so dearly bought with their blood and lives, even theirc pay; and not only so, but to leave them to the merciless malice of their wicked enemies!
Is it not better to die like men than to be enslaved and hanged like dogs? Which must and will be yours and our portion if not now looked into, even before our disbanding. * * *
We have been quiet and peaceable in obeying all orders and commands, yet not, we have a just cause to tell you, if we be not relieved in these our grievances. We shall be forced to that which we pray God to divert, and keep your and our hearts upright, desiring you to present these things to the General as our desires: (1) That the honour of this Army may be vindicated in every particular, especially about the late petition, and reparations given, and justice done upon the fomenters. (2) That an Act of Indemnity may be made for all things done in time and place of war. (3) That the wives and children of those that have been slain in the service, and maimed soldiers, may be provided for. (4) Our arrears, under this General, to be paid us; our arrears under other generalsa to be audited and stated, and security given for the payment. (5) That we that have served the Parliament freely may not be pressed out of the kingdom. (6) That the liberty of the subject may be no longer enslaved, but that justice and judgment may be dealt to the meanest subject of this land according to old law.
Now unless all these humble requests be by you for us your soldiers and yourselves stood for to be granted, it had [been] better we had never been born, or at least we had never been in arms, but that we had by the sword been cut off from the misery we and you are like to undergo. So we rest in hopes of your faithfulness,
Advertisements for the Managing of the Counsels of the Army,Walden, 4th May 1647b
1. Appoint a council for the ordering the undertakings of the Army.
2. Keep a party of able pen-men at Oxford and the Army, where their presses be employed to satisfy and undeceive the people.
3. Hold correspondence with the soldiers and well-affected friends in the several counties of the kingdom, for prevention of uproars, interposition of parties, for disarming the disaffected and securing the persons of projecting parties, namely Presbyterians.
4. Do all things upon public grounds for the good of the people, and with expedition, to avoid divisions and for the prevention of bloodshed.
5. Be vigilant to keep yourselves from supplanting, secret,c open, or undermining enemies;d especially prevent the removal or surprisal of the King’s person.
6. Present the General Officers with the heads of your demands in writing, and subscribed, and so agreed to by your appointed trustees in behalf of yourselves and other soldiers.
7. Desire redress of all arbitrary and exorbitant proceedings throughout the kingdom, and, according to the Covenant, call for public justice and due punishment to be inflicted upon all offenders whomsoever.
8. Givee some reasons for desiring reformation in civil justice, and query how the pretended and respective ends of our taking up arms hath been performed or comported with, according to the mutual provocations and declarations of Parliament put forth to engage us in blood, and, for aught we yet find, to entangle us in stronger chains, and to clap upon our necks heavier yokes or servitude.
9. Permit not the Army to be long delayed, or tampered with too much, lest resolution languish and courage grow cold.
10. Persuade the General Officers not to depart from the Army until these storms be overblown, the subject’s liberty confirmed, the kingdom settled, delinquents detected and punished, the soldiers and sufferers satisfied and rewarded; in all which respects their conduct was never of more consequence, nor their interest in the Army more useful, the present employment being most important, tending to the consummation of all our cares, and the good concluding by the establishment (in peace and truth) of the work of the whole war.
11. That, according to the premises, we may be speedily [satisfied] and [our several demands] respectively performed with[al]; after which the Army may be reduced, and [to] such a number of horsemen as is not inconsistent with the kingdom’s safety; the rest, being justly dealt with in point of due and deserved pay, with honourable rewards for their several services, may be disbanded, after an Act of Indemnity be made, and satisfaction be given, as aforesaid, not only to this Army, but to all the well-affected soldiers and subjects throughout this kingdom.
From the Grievances of Regiments, Presented at Saffron Walden, 13th-14th Maya
Thatb such rigour is already exercised that we are denied the liberty which Christ hath purchased for us, and abridged of our freedom to serve God according to our proportion of faith, and like to be imprisoned, yea, beaten and persecuted, to enforce us to a human conformity never enjoined by Christ.
Thatc notwithstanding we have engaged our lives for you, ourselves, [and] posterity, that we might be free from the yoke of episcopal tyranny, yet we fear that the consciences of men shall be pressed beyond the light they have received from the rule of the Word in things appertaining to the worship of God, a thing wholly contrary to the Word of God [and] the best Reformed Churches.
Thatd the ministers in their public labour by all means do make us odious to the kingdom, that they might take off their affections from us lest the world should think too well of us, and not only so but have printed many scandalous books against us, as Mr. Edwards’s Gangraena and Mr. Love’s Sermons.
Thate we who have engaged for our country’s liberties and freedom, are denied the liberty to petition in case of grievance, notwithstanding the Parliament have declared (in their Declaration, 2nd November) . . . that it is the liberty of the people to petition unto them in case of grievances, and we humbly conceive that we have the liberty.
That the freemen of England are so much deprived of their liberties and freedom (as many of them are at this day) as to be imprisoned so long together for they know not what, and cannot be brought to a legal trial according to the laws of this land, for their just condemnation or justification, although both themselves and their friends have so often petitioned to the Parliament for it; which we know not how soon may be our case.
That the laws of this land, by which we are to be governed, are in an unknown tongue, so that we may be guilty of the breach of them unknown to us, and come into condemnation.
Letters to the Agitators
Gentlemen,a My best respects. I rid hard and came to London by four this afternoon. The House hath ordered and voted the Army to be disbanded, regiment by regiment. The General’s Regiment of Foot on Tuesday next to lay down their arms in Chelmsford Church, and they do intend to send you down once more Commissioners, to do it, of Lords and Commons. They will not pay more than two months’ pay, and, after we be disbanded, to state our accompts and to be paid by the excise in course. This is their good vote, and their good visible security! Pray, Gentlemen, ride night and day. We will act here night and day for you. You must by all means frame a petition in the name of all the soldiers, to be presented to the General by you the Agitators, to have him, in honour, justice and honesty, to stand by you, and to tell Skippon to depart the Army, and all other officers that are not right. Be sure now be active, and send some thirty or forty horse to fetch away Jackson, Gooday, and all that are naught. And be sure to possess his soldiers: he will sell them and abuse them; for so he hath done, he engaged to sell them for eight weeks’ pay. Gent., I have it from (59) and (89) that you must do this, and that you shall expel [them] out of the Army; and if you do disappoint them in the disbanding of this regiment, namely (68), you will break the neck of all their designs. This is the judgment of (59) and (89); therefore, Gent., follow it close. The (52) are about (42), which copies I send you. And let me tell you (41) and (52) in (54) are all very gallant. I pray God keep us so too. Now, my lads, if we work like men we shall do well, and that in the hands of (53). And let all the (44) be very insistentb that the (55) may be called to a (43), and that with speed. Delay it not. Andc by all means be sure to stir up the Counties to petition for their rights, andd to make their appeal to (55) to assist them. You shall hear all I can, by the next. So till then I rest.
Yours till death,
From 51. 11o at night.
Maye 28, 11 at night.
Send this to 92.
Send to me and you shall have powder enough and that in your own quarters, five hundred barrels, and it shall not cost a penny, and on Tuesday I will inform you how and where.
There is seven thousand coming down to Chelmsford: on Monday night it will be there. The Earl of Warwick, the Lord Delawarr,f of the Commons, Mr. Annesley, Sir Gilbert Gerrard, Sir John Potts, Mr. Grimstone, all these are to come as Commissioners for to disband us. Therefore, Gent., you know what to do. Colonel Rainborough is to go to his regiment, and it is by Oxford. And a guard of dragoons comes with the money and the Commissioners, but how many I know not. All the honest party do much rejoice here at your courage, and the other party do much threaten and speak big. Therefore I pray be careful to have horse to apprehend and seize on the money and Commissioners before they come at the foot. And if you can banish Jackson and the rest out of that regiment, you will do the work; and be sure you do what you can. Do not let Jackson be there to go to London, nor none of them of that regiment, and you will do well enough. Let two horsemen go presently to Colonel Rainborough to Oxford, and be very careful you be not overwitted. Now break the neck of this design, and you will do well. And [this] you must now do, to make a bolt or a shot and not to dally: [to have] but a good party of horse of a thousand, and to have spies with them before (to bring you intelligence), and to quarter your horse overnight, and to march in the night.
So God bless,
From A Solemn Engagement of the Army (5th June)a
Whereas, upon the petition intended and agreed upon in the Army in March last, to have been presented to the General, for the obtaining of our due and necessary concernments as soldiers, the Honourable House of Commons being unseasonably prepossessed with a copy thereof, and (as by the sequel we suppose) with some strange misrepresentations of the carriage and intentions of the same, was induced to send down an order for suppressing the petition; and within two or three days after . . . a declaration was published in the name of both Houses highly censuring the said petition, and declaring the petitioners, if they should proceed thereupon, no less than enemies to the state and disturbers of the public peace. * * *
And whereas, by the aforesaid proceedings and the effects thereof, the soldiers of this Army (finding themselves so stopped in their due and regular way of making known their just grievances and desires, to and by their officers) were enforced to an unusual, but in that case necessary, way of correspondence and agreement amongst themselves, to choose out of the several troops and companies several men, and those out of their whole number to choose two or more for each regiment, to act in the name and behalf of the whole soldiery of the respective regiments, troops, and companies, in the prosecution of their rights and desires in the said petition; as also of their just vindication and rightingb in reference to the aforesaid proceedings upon and against the same, who have accordingly acted and done many things to those ends; all which the soldierya did then approveb as their own acts. * * *
Now forasmuch as we know not how far the malice, injustice, and tyrannical principles of our enemies, that have already prevailed so far to abuse the Parliament and the Army, as is aforementioned in the past proceedings against the Army, may further prevail to the danger and prejudice of ourselves or any officers or soldiers of the Army, or other persons that have appeared to act anything in behalf of the Army, or how far the same may further prevail to the danger or prejudice of the kingdom, in raising a new war or otherwise: therefore for the better prevention of all such dangers, prejudices, or other inconveniences that may ensue, and withal for better satisfaction to the Parliament and kingdom concerning our desires of conformingc to the authority of the one, and providing [for] the good and quiet of the other, in the present affair of disbanding, and for a more assured way whereby that affair may come to a certain issue (to which purpose we herein humbly implore the present and continued assistance of God, the righteous judge of all), we, the officers and soldiers of the Army subscribing hereunto, do hereby declare, agree, and promise, to and with each other, and to and with the Parliament and kingdom, as followeth:
1. That we shall cheerfully and readily disband when thereunto required by the Parliament, or else shall many of us be willing, if desired, to engage in further services either in England or Ireland, having first such satisfaction to the Army in relation to our grievances and desires heretofore presented, and such security that wed ourselves, when disbanded and in the condition of private men, or other the free-born people of England (to whom the consequence of our case doth equally extend), shall not remain subject to the like oppression, injury, or abuse, as in the premises hath been attempted and put upon us while an army, by the same men’s continuance in the same credit and power (especially if as our judges), who have in these past proceedings against the Army so far prevailed to abuse the Parliament and us and to endanger the kingdom; and also such security that we ourselves or any member of this Army, or others who have appeared to act anything in behalf of the Army in relation to the premises before recited, shall not after disbanding be any way questioned, prosecuted, troubled, or prejudiced, for anything so acted, or for the entering into, or necessary prosecution of, this presente agreement; we say, having first such satisfaction and security in these things as shall be agreed unto by a council to consist of those general officers of the Army who have concurred with the Army in the premises, with two commission-officers and two soldiers to be chosen for each regiment who have concurred and shall concur with us in the premises and in this agreement, and by the major part of such of them who shall meet in council for that purpose when they shall be thereunto called by the General.
2. That without such satisfaction and security as aforesaid, we shall not willingly disband nor divide, nor suffer ourselves to be disbanded or divided. And whereas we find many strange things suggested or suspected to our great prejudice, concerning dangerous principles, interests and designs in this Army (as to the overthrow of magistracy, the suppression or hindering of Presbytery, the establishment of Independent government, or upholding of a general licentiousness in religion under pretence of liberty of conscience, and many such things), we shall very shortly tender to the Parliament a vindication of the Army from all such scandals, to clear our principles in relation thereunto. And in the meantime we do disavow and disclaim all purposes or designs in our late or present proceedings, to advance or insist upon any such interest; neither would we, if we might and could, advance or set up any one particular party or interest in the kingdom, though imagined never so much our own, but should much rather study to provide, as far as may be within our sphere or power, for such an establishment of common and equal right, freedom, and safety to the whole as all might equally partake of, that do not, by denying the same to others, or otherwise, render themselves incapable thereof.
From A Representation of the Army (14th June)a
That we may no longer be the dissatisfaction of our friends, the subject of our enemies’ malice (to work jealousies and misrepresentations upon), and the suspicion, if not astonishment, of many in the kingdom, in our late or present transactions . . . , we shall in all faithfulness . . . declare unto you those things which have of late protracted and hindered our disbanding, the present grievances which possess our Army and are yet unremedied, with our desires as to the complete settlement of the liberties and peace of the kingdom. Which is that blessing of God than which, of all worldly things, nothing is more dear unto us or more precious in our thoughts, we having hitherto thought all our present enjoyments (whether of life, or livelihood, or nearest relations) a price but sufficient to the purchase of so rich a blessing, that we and all the free-born people of this nation may sit down in quiet under our vines, and under the glorious administration of justice and righteousness, and in full possession of those fundamental rights and liberties without which we can have little hopes, as to human considerations, to enjoy either any comfort of life or so much as life itself, but at the pleasures of some men ruling merely according to will and power. * * *
Nor will it now, we hope, seem strange or unseasonable to rational and honest men, . . . if . . . we shall, before disbanding, proceed in our own and the kingdom’s behalf to propound and plead for some provision for our and the kingdom’s satisfaction and future security. . . . Especially considering that we were not a mere mercenary army, hired to serve any arbitrary power of a state, but called forth and conjured by the several declarations of Parliament to the defence of our own and the people’s just rights and liberties. And so we took up arms in judgment and conscience to those ends, and have so continued them, and are resolved according to your first just desires in your declarations, and such principles as we have received from your frequent informations, and our own common sense, concerning these our fundamental rights and liberties, to assert and vindicate the just power and rights of this kingdom in Parliament for those common ends premised, against all arbitrary power, violence and oppression, and all particular parties and interests whatsoever; the said declarations still directing us to the equitable sense of all laws and constitutions, as dispensing with the very letter of the same and being supreme to it when the safety and preservation of all is concerned, and assuring us that all authority is fundamentally seated in the office, and but ministerially in the persons. Neither do or will these our proceedings, as we are fully and in conscience persuaded, amount to anything unwarrantable before God and men; being thus far much short of the common proceedings in other nations, to things of an higher nature than we have yet appeared to. And we cannot but be sensible of the great complaints that have been made to us generally in the kingdom from the people where we march, of arbitrariness and injustice to their great and insupportable oppressions.
And truly such kingdoms as have, according both to the law of nature and nations, appeared to the vindications and defences of their just rights and liberties, have proceeded much higher; as our brethren of Scotland, who in the first beginning of these late differences associated in covenant from the very same principles and grounds, having no visible form either of Parliament or King to countenance them—and as they were therein justified and protected by their own and this kingdom also, so we justly shall expect to be. (We need not mention the States of the Netherlands, the Portugals, and others, all proceeding upon the same principles of right and freedom.) And accordingly the Parliament hath declared it no resistance of magistracy to side with the just principles of law, nature, and nations, being that law upon which we have assisted you, and that the soldiery may lawfully hold the hands of that general who will turn his cannon against his army on purpose to destroy them, the seamen the hands of that pilot who wilfully runs the ship upon the rock (as our brethren of Scotland argued). And such were the proceedings of our ancestors of famous memory, to the purchasing of such rights and liberties as they have enjoyed through the price of their blood, and [such rights and liberties as] we, both by that and the later blood of our dear friends and fellow soldiers, with the hazard of our own, do now lay claim unto.
Nor is that supreme end, the glory of God, wanting in these cases to set a price upon all such proceedings of righteousness and justice; it being one witness of God in the world, to carry on a testimony against the injustice and unrighteousness of men, and against the miscarriages of government[s] when corrupted or declining from their primitive and original glory.
These things we mention but to compare proceedings, and to show that we are so much the more justifiable and warranted in what we do, by how much we come short of that height and measure of proceedings which the people in free kingdoms and nations have formerly practised.
Now, having thus far cleared our way in this business, we shall proceed to propound such things as we do humbly desire for the settling and securing of our own and the kingdom’s right, freedom, peace, and safety, as followeth:
I. That the Houses may be speedily purged of such members as for their delinquency, or for corruption, or abuse to the state, or undue election, ought not to sit there. . . .
II. That those persons who have, in the late unjust and high proceedings against the Army, appeared to have the will, the confidence, credit, and power to abuse the Parliament and the Army, and endanger the kingdom in carrying on such things against us while an army, may be some way speedily disabled from doing the like or worse to us, when disbanded and dispersed, and in the condition of private men, or to other the free-born people of England in the same condition with us. * * *
But because neither the granting of this alone would be sufficient to secure our own and the kingdom’s rights, liberties, and safety, either for the present age or posterity, nor would the proposal of this, singly, be free from the scandal and appearance of faction, or [of] design only to suppress one party under the notion of unjust or oppressive, that we may advance another, which may be imagined more our own: we therefore declare that indeed we cannot but wish that such men, and such only, might be preferred to the great power and trust of the commonwealth, as are approved at least for moral righteousness, and of such we cannot but in our wishes prefer those that appear acted thereunto by a principle of conscience and religion in them; and accordingly we do and ever shall bless God for those many worthies who, through his providence, have been chosen into this Parliament; and to such men’s endeavours, under God, we cannot but attribute that vindication in part of the people’s rights and liberties, and those beginnings of a just reformation, which the proceedings of the beginnings of this Parliament appeared to have driven at and tended to, though of late obstructed, or rather diverted to other ends and interests, by the prevailing of other persons of other principles and conditions.
But we are so far from designing or complying to have any absolute arbitrary power fixed or settled for continuance in any persons whatsoever as that, if we might be sure to obtain it, we cannot wish to have it so in the persons of any who[m] we might best confide in, or who should appear most of our own opinions or principles, or whom we might have most personal assurance of, or interest in; but we do and shall much rather wish that the authority of this kingdom in the Parliaments rightly constituted, free, equally and successively chosen, according to its original intention, may ever stand and have its course. And therefore we shall apply our desires chiefly to such things as (by having parliaments settled in such a right constitution) may give more hopes of justice and righteousness to flow down equally to all in that its ancient channel, without any overture tending either to overthrow that foundation either of order or government in this kingdom, or to engross that power, for perpetuity, into the hands of any particular person or party whatsoever. * * *
We . . . humbly conceive that (of two inconveniences the less being to be chosen) the main thing to be intended . . . (and beyond which human providence cannot reach as to any assurance of positive good) seems to be this, viz.: To provide that however unjust or corrupt persons of Parliament, in present or future, may prove, or whatever it be they may do to particular parties, or to the whole in particular things, during their respective terms or periods; yet they shall not have the temptation or advantage of an unlimited power fixed in them during their own pleasure, whereby to perpetuate injustice and oppression upon any, without end or remedy, or to advance and uphold any one particular party, faction, or interest whatsoever, to the oppression or prejudice of the community and the enslaving of the kingdom unto all posterity; but that the people may have an equal hope or possibility, if they have [made] an ill choice at one time, to mend it in another, and [the members] themselves may be in a capacity to taste of subjection as well as rule, and may be so inclined to consider of other men’s cases as what may come to be their own. This we speak of in relation to the House of Commons, as being entrusted on the people’s behalf for their interest in that great and supreme power of the commonwealth (viz., the legislative power, with the power of final judgments), which, being in its own nature so arbitrary, and in a manner unlimited unless in point of time, is most unfit and dangerous, as to the people’s interest, to be fixed in the persons of the same mena during life or their own pleasure. Neither by the original constitution of this state was it, or ought it to continue so. Nor doth it, wherever it is and continues so, render that state any better than a mere tyranny, or the people subjected to it any better than vassals. But in all states where there is any face of common freedom, and particularly in this state of England (as is most evident both by many positive laws and ancient constant custom), the people have a right to new and successive elections unto that great and supreme trust, at certain periods of time; which is so essential and fundamental to their freedom as it cannot or ought not to be denied them,a or withheld from them, andb without which the House of Commons is of very little concernment to the interest of the Commons of England. Yet in this we would not be misunderstood to blame those worthies of both Houses, whose zeal to vindicate the liberties of this nation did procure that act for [the] continuance of [this] Parliament, whereby it was secured from being dissolved at the King’s pleasure, as former Parliaments have been, and reduced to such a certainty as might enable them the better to assist and vindicate the liberties of this nation (immediately before so highly invaded, and then also so much endangered). * * *
And therefore upon all the grounds premised we further humbly desire as followeth:
III. That some determinate period of time may be set for the continuance of this and future Parliaments, beyond which none shall continue, and upon which new writs may of course issue out, and new elections successively take place, according to the intent of the Bill for Triennial Parliaments. * * *
IV. That secure provision may be made for the continuance of future Parliaments, so as they may not be adjournable or dissolvable at the King’s pleasure, or any other ways than by their own consent during their respective periods; but [at] those periods each Parliament to determine of course, as before. This we desire may be now provided for, if it may be, so as to put it out of all dispute for [the] future, though we think of right it ought not to have been otherwise before.
And because the present distribution of elections for Parliament-members is so very unequal, and the multitude of burgesses for decayed or inconsiderable towns (whose interest in the kingdom would in many not exceed, or in others not equal, ordinary villages) doth give too much and too evident opportunity for men of power to frame parties in Parliament to serve particular interest[s], and thereby the common interest of the whole is not so minded, or not so equally provided for, we therefore further desire:
V. That some provision may be now made for such distribution of elections for future Parliaments as may stand with some rule of equality or proportion as near as may be, to render the Parliament a more equal representative of the whole, as, for instance, that all counties or divisions and parts of the kingdom (involving inconsiderable towns) may have a number of Parliament-men allowed to their choice proportionable to the respective rates they bear in the common charges and burdens of the kingdom, and not to have more, or some other such-like rule.
And thus a firm foundation being laid in the authority and constitution of Parliament for the hopes, at least, of common and equal right and freedom to ourselves and all the free-born people of this land, we shall, for our parts, freely and cheerfully commit our stock or share of interest in this kingdom into this common bottom of Parliament[s]; and though it may, for our particulars, go ill with us in one voyage, yet we shall thus hope, if right be with us, to fare better in another.
These things we desire may be provided for by bill or ordinance of Parliament, to which the Royal Assent may be desired. And when His Majesty (in these things, and what else shall be proposed by the Parliament, necessary for securing the rights and liberties of the people, and for settling the militia and peace of the kingdom) shall have given his concurrence to put them past dispute, we shall then desire that the rights of His Majesty and his posterity may be considered of and settled in all things, so far as may consist with the right and freedom of the subject and with the security of the same for [the] future.
VI. We desire that the right and freedom of the people to represent to the Parliament, by way of humble petition, their grievances in such things as cannot otherwise be remedied than by Parliament, may be cleared and vindicated; that all such grievances of the people may be freely received and admitted into consideration, and put into an equitable and speedy way to be heard, examined, and redressed, if they appear real; and that in such things for which men have remedy by law they may be freely left to the benefit of [the] law, and the regulated course of justice, without interruption or check from the Parliament, except in case of things done upon the exigency of war, or for the service and benefit of the Parliament and kingdom in relation to the war, or otherwise in due pursuance and execution of ordinances or orders of Parliament.
More particularly, under this head we cannot but desire that all such as are imprisoned for any pretended misdemeanour may be put into a speedy way for a just hearing and trial; and such as shall appear to have been unjustly and unduly imprisoned, may, with their liberty, have some reasonable reparation according to their sufferings and the demerit of their oppressors. * * *
IX. That public justice being first satisfied by some few examples to posterity out of the worst of excepted persons, and other delinquents having passed their compositions, some course may be taken by a general act of oblivion, or otherwise, whereby the seeds of future war or feuds, either to the present age or posterity, may the better be taken away, by easing that sense of present, and satisfying those fears of future, ruin or undoing to persons or families, which may drive men into any desperate ways for self-preservation and remedy, and by taking away the private remembrances and distinctions of parties, as far as may stand with safety to the rights and liberties we have hitherto fought for.
There are, besides these, many particular things which we could wish to be done, and some to be undone, all in order still to the same end of common right, freedom, peace, and safety; but these proposals aforegoing being the principal things we bottom and insist upon, we shall, as we have said before, for our parts acquiesce for other particulars in the wisdom and justice of Parliament. And whereas it hath been suggested, or suspected, that in our late or present proceedings our design is to overthrow Presbytery, or hinder the settlement thereof, and to have the Independent government set up, we do clearly disclaim and disavow any such design. We only desire that, according to the declarations promising a privilege for tender consciences, there may be some effectual course taken, according to the intent thereof, and that such who upon conscientious grounds may differ from the established forms, may not for that be debarred from the common rights, liberties, or benefits belonging equally to all as men and members of the commonwealth, while they live soberly, honestly, inoffensively towards others, and peacefully and faithfully towards the state. * * *
THE READING DEBATES
Summary, with Selections, of the Debate in the General Council of the Army, at Reading, 16th July 1647, on the Proposals of the Agitators for Five Points to be insisted on by the Army and enforced by a march on Londona
The Agitators petitioned Fairfax in part as follows:
‘That your petitioners out of their deep sense of the sad and heavy pressures, great distractions, continual fears, and imminentb dangers, under which this poor and bleeding kingdom groans, expecting to be delivered and eased (whose peace, safety, and freedom from oppression, violence, and tyranny, we tenderly and earnestly desire, even above our own lives) are enforced to present these our humble requests, in the name of the whole Army, as their sense and desire, unto your Excellency and this Honourable Council, to be considered of, (if need be) corrected, and forthwith exhibited to the Parliament. And that for the reasons annexed to these ensuing desires, the Army may be immediately marched to or near London, thereby to enable and assist the Parliament acting for the kingdom’s ease and preservation, and to oppose all those that shall act the contrary.
‘For the accomplishment whereof we are fully resolved (by the assistance of God and his strength, with your Excellency and your Council of War’s concurrence) to put a speedy period to these present distractions.
‘1st. That by order of the House the eleven Members by his Excellency and his Army impeached, and charged of high misdemeanours, be forthwith sequestered, and disabledc from sitting in the House.
‘2ly. That the militia of the City of London be immediately returned into the hands of those in whom it lately was, who did approve themselves faithful to the kingdom and City in times of greatest dangers. An answer whereof we expect within two days.
‘3ly. That there be an effectual declaration forthwith published to the whole kingdom against the inviting or coming in of foreign, or raising of intestine, forces, under any pretence whatsoever, except such as shall,a by the Parliament’s appointment, receive their commissions from, and beb at the disposal and command of, his Excellency Sir Thomas Fairfax, upon pain of being proceeded against as enemies and traitors to the state, disturbers of the public peace, and invaders of this kingdom.
‘4ly. That all prisoners who have been illegally committed in any part of the kingdom of England or dominion of Wales, may be forthwith set at liberty, and reparation given them for their false imprisonment, as namely: Lieutenant-Colonel John Lilburne, Mr. Musgrave, Mr. Overton’s wife and brother, Mr. Larner, his two lieutenants, Mr. Tew, Mr. Prest, and all others which have been in like manner wrongfully imprisoned; and for a more speedy effecting thereof there may be a declaration published . . . commanding all judges of assizes . . . and all other officers and ministers of state whatsoever (upon pain of severest punishment if they shall neglect to put the same in execution) for the freeing of such as are in prison, and preventing the like for the future upon the meanest subjects of the kingdom.
‘5ly. That we may be speedily paid up equal with the deserters of the Army, according to the Parliament’s former votes, whereby the Army may not be so burdensome and oppressive to the country.’ * * *
‘Additional Reasons more fully explaining our desires for a speedy march towards London.’
‘1st. The Army’s removal to this distance from London hath given liberty and opportunity to an adverse party in that city to scandalize our persons and actions by pamphlets and otherwise, whereby they prejudice the spirits of many against us, they being deprived of opportunities to understand personally from ourselves both our actions and intentions, by reason of our distance from them.
‘2ly. Our adversaries by our removal far from them have taken advantage to induce many thousands to list themselves (under such new commanders as the new Committee for the Militia hath judged fit to prosecute their ends) under pretence of being auxiliary forces to the Trained Bands. And though [the] pretences may be specious, yet, considering that the principles of the actors have a natural tendency to oppose the Army, and that those whose principles did not concur with theirs were displaced in order to these proceedings, who can imagine any reason of such preparations, when no visible power appears against them, unless their thoughts and intentions be to oppose the Army? And indeed some lately have boasted that they have many thousands ready to fight with this Army, if they were commanded.
‘3ly. Upon the Army’s drawing back from the City, the Parliament’s proceedings for the good of the people and Army hath been slacked. Whilst the Army was drawing near, the excise was lessened and eased, the injuries done to the Army considered, some moneys provided for them. But since its drawing back, no moneys have been allowed them to pay their quarters for the people’s ease and the Army’s content; there hath been no care to prevent the scandalizing of us, no discountenance of those that by pamphlets asperse us with mutinying, treason, and rebellion. And whether these neglects of us may not proceed from their confidence in those pretended auxiliaries, we leave to your wisdom to judge.
‘4ly. The votes of Parliament, whereupon we drew back, appear to have been intended to delude us. * * *
‘[5ly.] The removal of the Army to this distance necessitates such delays as give further opportunity to the adverse party to make overtures of plausible advantage to the King’s party, and also to insinuate that our principles are against civil government. * * *’
After some disagreement as to the subjects to be debated, Major Tulidah observes: ‘All centre in one thing: that all the proposals [will] be of no effect without a march to London.’ Cromwell replies: ‘Marching up to London is a single proposal; yet it does not drop from Jupiter, as that it should be presently received and debated without considering our reasons. For I hope this [temper] will ever be in the Agitators—I would be very sorry to flatter them—I hope they will be willing that nothing should be done but with the best reason, and with the best and most unanimous concurrence.’ Ireton objects: ‘We act as if we did [intend only to] get the power into our own hands. To give the kingdom satisfaction is the thing that we desire. It is not the getting power into one man’s hands more than another, but it is the settling and securing their liberties in order to a peace. * * * Before we do bring ourselves into scandal and dishonour by putting it upon new punctilios and quarrelling more, [many things are to be considered; and] one is what it is that we intend to do with that power when we have it.’ Cromwell supports Ireton, urges time to consider so momentous a decision, and suggests that the Heads of the Proposals, the plan of settlement now being prepared, should be first discussed: ‘I desire we may withdraw and consider. Discourses of this nature will, I see, put power into the hands of [m]any that cannot tell how to use it, [instead of, as it is now, in the hands] of those that are like to use it ill. I wish it with all my heart in better hands, and I shall be glad to contribute to get it into better hands. * * * And whereas the Commissary does offer that these things were desired before satisfaction [could] be given [as] to the [Army’s scheme for the] public settlement, there may be a convenience of bringing in that [matter] to the Council of War next sitting, if it be ready, and thought fit to be brought in.’ The Agitators, Allen and Lockyer, oppose this delay. Prior to the duty of propounding schemes of settlement is that of removing power from the hands of those who seek only to augment their own power, who will use it to destroy Army and kingdom, and whose possession of it is ‘the great dissatisfaction of all the well-affected in the kingdom.’ Ireton insists: ‘[We should give the kingdom first] some real taste of that which we intend for the satisfaction of the kingdom, and what we would do with that power if we had it in our hands [after] the putting of it out of so many hands. I have moved it, and so must again.’ Joyce replies: ‘The Commissary-General speaks of things which he gives as laws to the kingdom. It is too hard for us to give out laws before the kingdom is in a possibility of being settled, and it is a great disadvantage for us to prescribe laws when we know not whether ever [we shall be able] to accomplish [a settlement].’ The brief morning session closes with the naming of committees by Harrison to prepare subjects for debate, and Rainborough voices his sense of the futility of all talk when action is what is needed: ‘For my part, I shall be weary of the meeting.’
At the resumed session Cromwell explains that two of the five points raised by the Agitators have not been previously offered to the Parliament (the matter of the London militia, and the release of prisoners); but all the points are (or by addition may be) handled in a paper about to be sent by the Parliamentary Commissioners, drawn up by Cromwell himself and Lambert, and submitted to the General ‘at our meeting in the inner room’; this paper, in response to an earlier demand, deals with the matter of the London militia; it shall be read; it omits nothing but the suspension of the eleven Members and the release of prisoners. He proceeds: ‘We are now endeavouring as the main of our work to make a preparation of somewhat that may tend to a general settlement of the peace of the kingdom, and of the rights of the subject, that justice and righteousness may peaceably flow out upon us. That’s the main of our business. These things are but preparatory things to that that is the main.’ It is hoped to gain all the points raised, in the treaty now being negotiated, or rather as satisfaction demanded preliminary to a treaty; and they must be gained without undue delay or the fruit of a treaty will be lost; ‘it’s dangerous to be deluded by a treaty.’ A sense of that no doubt prompted the suggestion of a march on London. ‘Truly I think that possibly that may be that that we shall be necessitated to do [in the end]. Possibly it may be so; but yet I think it will be for our honour and our honesty, to do what we can to accomplish this work in the way of a treaty. * * * For certainly that is the most desirable way, and the other a way of necessity, and not to be done but in [a] way of necessity. And truly, instead of all reasons let this [one] serve: that whatsoever we get by a treaty, whatsoever comes to be settled upon us in that way, it will be firm and durable. * * * We shall avoid that great objection that will lie against us, that we have got things of the Parliament by force; and we know what it is to have that stain lie upon us. Things, though never so good, obtained in that way, it will exceedingly weaken the things, both to ourselves and to all posterity; and therefore I say, upon that consideration, I wish we may be well advised what to do.’ The Army’s Commissioners should insist on the granting of satisfaction in all the five points within the time set in the Agitators’ proposal. If this fails, the course advocated by them can still be taken. The Commissary-General will give some account of the scheme for settling the kingdom, the Heads of the Proposals.
Captain Clarke objects that to proceed by way of treaty in these urgent matters will be ‘more dilatory and wanting of that virtue and vigour’ possessed by direct demands made by the Army as a whole. And may not the coupling with it of a scheme for settling the rights and liberties of the subject prove an obstacle in our present design, for the kingdom may not be immediately satisfied in what we propose? ‘For my own part I conceive thus much, that we have very good and wholesome laws already, if we had but good and wholesome executors of them. And that’s the thing we insist upon, to remove such persons that are most corrupt out of power and trust, and that such persons as are of known integrity may be placed in their rooms. And whereas the Lieutenant-General was pleased to move that it was the best way to compose the differences between the Parliament and Army by way of treaty, I presume to say in the name of these gentlemen, they likewise wish it might be so. But truly, sir, we have great fears and jealousies that these treaties, managed by a power so [adverse] to us, will prove rather destructive and delusive to us than anyways certain for our security and [for] the settlement of the kingdom. If your Excellency please we are very desirous that the paper presented to you might be represented [to Parliament] as immediately from us and from this honourable Council, and by the Agitators, which we conceive will put vigour and strength to the business, and we hope effect that which [is] so earnestly desired.’
Allen expresses the complete confidence of the Army in the General and Council, who ‘have travailed hard in transacting and managing of things in order to the weal both of the kingdom and Army. . . . But truly we cannot be so fully satisfied in the apprehension of your care in the managing and transacting of things for us, but we are as much sadd[en]ed that those with whom you are transacting and endeavouring to manage these great affairs for us are taking so little care of us while you in transacting are so careful of them—so little care either to save your expense [of labour] or ours.’ The Lieutenant-General urges that it is more honourable to proceed by way of treaty. ‘It hath been our thoughts so too, and therefore [we] have waited long that we might, if possible, have things ended in such a way; but truly we have waited so long thata our patience is expended. The Lieutenant-General hath expressed that if things be not ended in such a way, then there is a ground to go on in some other way. How far that way hath fallen short, and how far that hasb presented us with a clear ground to proceed in further, I shall leave it to this honourable Council to judge. And truly it is . . . in most of our thoughts, that those who have been treating with us are not intended to conclude things in such a way.c When we see God so carryingh forth, or so suffering the spirits of men to be acted [upon], that they shall refuse those peaceable things desired,d that is the great thing [to be] observed by us;e and [we must ask] whether or no [this being] once proved,f [God] hath not pointed out some other way to us. I think it is [in] most of our thoughts that he has.’ For that reason, and because ‘now we see delays prove so dangerous that they are almost every day expected to run into confusion, which [it] is the desire of you and us to prevent,g we have named those things that they may be offered to the House, and that we may march in order to a speedy procuring of an answer to them.’
Cromwell explains that what he said of a treaty referred to the general scheme of settlement proposed by the Army; the Agitators’ five points are to be demanded of Parliament (through its Commissioners) as preliminary to the treaty. It must not be forgotten that there is an honest party in the House of Commons. To aid, and not to embarrass it, should be the Army’s aim: ‘Give me leave to say this to you. For my own part, perhaps, I have as few extravagant thoughts, overweening [thoughts] of obtaining great things from the Parliament, as any man; yet it hath been in most of our thoughts, that this Parliament might be a reformed and purged Parliament, that we might see [there] men looking at public and common interests only. This was the great principle we had gone upon, and certainly this is the principle we did march upon when we were at Uxbridge, and when we were at St. Albans, and surely the thing was wise, and honourable, and just, and we see that Providence hath led us into that way. [In reply to an interruption:] It’s thought that the Parliament does not mend—what’s the meaning of that? That is to say, that company of men that sits there does not mean well to us? There is a party there that have been faithful from the sitting of the Parliament to this very day; and we know their interests, and [how] they have ventured their lives through so many hazards—they came not to the House but under the apprehension of having their throats cut every day. If we well consider what difficulties they have passeda we may not run into that extreme of thinking too hardly of the [whole] Parliament. * * * To-day that which we desire is that which they have struggled for as for life, and sometimes they have been able to carry it, others not, and yet daily they get ground. If we [wish to] see a purged Parliament, I pray let me persuade every man that he would be a little apt to hope the best. And I speak this to you as out of a clear conscience before the Lord: I do think that [that part of] the Parliament is upon the gaining hand, and that this work that we are now upon tends to make them gain more. And I would wish that we might remember this always, that [what] we and they gain in a free way, it is better than twice so much in a forced, and will be more truly ours and our posterity’s. And therefore I desire not to persuade any man to be of my mind, but I wish that every man would seriously weigh these things.’
Allen disagrees with Cromwell’s reading of the facts, and is forced to abandon his hopes: ‘Truly they are the same thoughts and hopes that we have long had, and are loath to lay down or to deviate from, did not too visible testimony take us off, [f]or we would willingly see,b and it would be the rejoicing of our spirits to see (as possibly might be),c a Parliament so reformed as [that it] might back this present power, and that power and authority might go hand in hand to carry on that great work in order to the kingdom’s welfare. . . . Your Honour is pleased to tell us (I suppose speaking your hopes therein) that the [honest party in] Parliament [is] the prevailing part of it, ord is a gaining part, and like to gain more. Truly I could wish we could say so too; but so far as we are able to judge (of ourselves) we must speak our fears, that we conceive they are a losing party, and losers rather than gainers. * * * [And we ask ourselves] whether our marching towards London may not conduce to such an end, namely to the quelling of the spirits of those who are acting as much as in them lies to make them and us and the kingdom be losers.’
Ireton agrees with Cromwell that the honest party in the House is rather gaining than losing. At least he has heard no reason for the contrary view save that the Parliament ‘did not so fully nor so wholly comply with this Army in all the things that they desire [as we think they ought to do].’ For his part, he adds: ‘I cannot blame [them], nor cannot see [how] any man [can], that walks by that rule of doing to another as he would be done to, which is the only rule of justice. I do not understand how we can think that of necessity they must satisfy us in all these things we desire, and those [things] tending still to put power into our hands, and to put all power too out of any other hands; I cannot expect it reasonably from men. For what reason have I to expect that other men should trust [to] me more than I should trust to them?’ As to the five points, they should be delivered directly to the Parliament (not to the Commissioners) as a paper agreed upon by the General, the Council of War, and all the Agitators; it cannot but be more effectual thus. As to the treaty, if there has been undue delay the fault cannot be fairly ascribed to the Parliamentary Commissioners (or perhaps to any person), but to the Army’s reluctance to proceed in it ‘till some other things for present security were satisfied,’ and to a mistaken effort ‘to present all things for the settlement of the kingdom together.’ ‘For my own part I expect no great matter [from], nor [do I desire] to put much upon the way of, the treaty. I should rather desire to shorten the work . . . [and] think of another way to draw out all things [for the settlement of the kingdom] out of our own proposals.’ ‘We do think that the [only effective] settlement of peace is by having a settlement of it in our own hands. If ever it do come to settle[ment] it must be by setting down something that may be a rule to lay a foundation for common rights and liberties of the people and for an established peace in the nation.’ The ‘preparation of an entire proposal of particulars’ has been undertaken, and it has been urged that ‘any man that had leisure and freedom and a mind to further the work would think of any particulars to give in to myself and another that was . . . set apart for that work.’ The Agitators, and others so sensible of delay, have handed in nothing. As to the proposed march towards London, in any case ‘I should be against it altogether unless we had [already] proposed those things for settling the peace of the kingdom and dida find a professed preparation against us.’b The particular demand regarding the militia is certainly no fit occasion for marching. While ‘I am concluded by the Council so far as not to speak anything against it . . . , I wish, when we do it, we should have a more reasonable thing [to do it for] than for that.’ One should weigh seriously ‘the consequence of seeking to gain such things as these are by force.’ The only example of a threat of force so far in the papers of the Army was on the occasion of the march towards London (in June). ‘And I say yet, my ground then was that this Army stood, as it were, proscribed. You stood but as outlaws. All that were amongst you were invited to come away from you. And you were put out of protection,c nobody owning of you as their Army. That was one reason. Another reason [was that those] who were the professed, open, known enemies of the Army, who had, according to those things we have impeached them for, endeavoured to engage in a war, they had place in Parliament and . . . in all committees of Parliament. . . . Truly from that time [we have] seen an alteration; . . . they are withdrawn from the House and . . . are not suffered to appear, that I can hear of, upon action as members of the House. There is nothing wanting but a positive order for the sequestering of them the House, and that I think there is a great deal of justice to demand, and to demand with a further enforcement.’ But the good grounds for marching, then present, are now absent.
Allen observes: ‘The Commissary-General’s discourse hath been large, and truly my memory (and the time) is something short. I shall not speak but only to one particular. * * * I do confess we are owned in name, but I doubt not in nature, to be the Parliament’s Army. * * * Merely the reason is, if we were they would never suffer us to be traduced, reviled, and railed upon both in pulpits and presses continually as we are, but it would be a little laid to heart by a Parliament owning us as their Army, and it would reflect upon their honour as well as ours.’ As to the impeached Members, ‘I fear yet they are in a capacity of doing too much [harm].’ If we are to wait to present a full scheme of settlement in order to have sufficient ground ‘to get swords out of men’s hands that will cut our throats with them,’ what if someone interposes before that for our destruction? What, again, if the kingdom, that we would satisfy, is not satisfied by our proposals and rather says, ‘ “This is not that which we expected; and [now] we know what they do intend, we’all seek to help ourselves in another [way]”? And so the other and the other way; and truly if you have no power in your hands [then] . . . , of what a consequence such a thing may be, I leave it to you to judge.’
Cromwell intervenes to rebuke self-assertiveness, and urges union in the Army at all costs, with the prudence of making the most of the fact that Parliament has owned the Army, and the necessity of gaining the five points without the use of force if possible: ‘This I wish ina general that we may all of us so demean ourselves in this business that we speak those things that tend to the uniting of us, and that we do none of us exercise our parts to strain things, and to let in things to a long dispute, or to unnecessary contradictions, or to the stirring up of any such seed of dissatisfaction in one another’s minds as may in the least render us unsatisfied one in another. I do not speak this [to assert] that anybody does do it. But I say, this ought to become both you and me, that we so speak and act as that the end may be union and a right understanding one with another. * * * To say or to think [of the Parliament’s owning of the Army], “It is but a titular thing that, and but in name only that they do own [us],” I think is a very great mistake. For really it did at that time lay the best foundation [that] could be expected for the preventing an absolute confusion in this kingdom; and I think if we had not been satisfied in that, we should not have been satisfied in anything. And [it is a very great mistake] to think that this is any weighty argument, “It is but titular, because they suffer scandalous books [against us to] flock up and down.” I would not look [that] they should love us better than they love themselves, and how many scandalous books go out, of them! We have given . . . the Parliament more to do than attend [to] scandalous books. I hope that will not weigh with any man. . . . They have given us sob real a testimony that they cannot give more. They cannot disown us without the losing of all rational and honest people in the kingdom; and therefore let us take it as a very great and high owning of us; let not us disown that owning. * * * Really, really, have what you will have, that you have by force I look upon it as nothing. I do not know that force is to be used, except we cannot get what is for the good of the kingdom without force. All the arguments [that are of any weight] must tend to this, that it is necessary to use force, to march up with the Army, and not to tarry four days. * * * [I counsel, to] expect a speedy answer [to that] which hath been offered, and to make that critical to us whether they own us or intend to perfect the settlement as we expect. The kingdom would be saved [even] if we do not march within four days, if we had these things granted to us. If these things be granted to us we may march to York.’
Tulidah answers: ‘The Lieutenant-General hath put it to a good issue, for the weight of the business lies here.’ But settlement of differences is no further advanced than when the Army marched to Uxbridge—‘nay not so far, and the same things pressa upon us [still].’ It has been said, that we should not expect from them more than they are able to accomplish. We did not then force the Parliament; rather ‘our advancing to Uxbridge put them into such a way that they had liberty to speak . . . [and] nothing will [so] expedite them andb put them into the same [way] of speaking boldly for the kingdom’s interest [as our advancing] towards the City.’ ‘We seem to be startled at the expression of forcing things.’ Suppose it be granted that we do use force, why is it ‘but that with [once] forcing there should be no more forcing, [but] that by the sword we may take the sword out of those hands that are enemies to justice, to equity’? The matter of the City militia alone would justify the march. ‘We cannot have anything unless by the way of advancing to London.’
Cromwell replies: ‘Truly the words spoken by Major Tulidah were [spoken] with affection. But we are rational [men]. I would fain know with what reason or colour of reason he did urge any reason, but only with affirmation of earnest words. For that declaration of the Parliament, the Parliament hath owned us, and taken off that that any man can loyally or rationally charge us with. [Is it rational] if upon his apprehensions, or any man’s else, we shall quarrel with every dog in the street that barks at us, and suffer the kingdom to be lost with such a fantastical thing? I desire that nothing of heat or earnestness may carry us here, nor nothing of affirmation . . . may lead us, but [only] that which is truly reason, and that which hath life and argument in it.’ For the effect of our marching to Uxbridge, ‘this is not to be answered with reason, but this is matter of fact. . . . ’Tis true there was fear . . . upon the Parliament . . .; for those eleven Members were afraid to be in the House. [But] if you will believe that which is not a fancy, they have [since our withdrawal] voted very essential things to their own purging. * * * I believe there will go twenty or thirty men out of the House of Commons. And if this be [not] an effect and demonstration of the happy progress [they have made], and that by use of that liberty that they have had by our [not] drawing near, I appeal to any man.a If they shall . . . disown us, and we give them no [other] cause to do it but [by] pressing only [for] just and honourable and honest things from them, judge what can the world think of them and of us.’ But what, on the other hand, can it think if the Army, to secure a little gain for itself, wantonly resorts to force, and that through mere impatience when the honest party, and through them the Army, ‘are upon the gaining hand’ in the House? If the Army so acts, that party ‘will not have wherewithal to answer that middle party in the House’ on whose good opinion and support so much depends. And finally ‘if we should move until we haveb made these proposals to them and see[n] what answer they will give them, we shall not only disable them, but [probably] divide among ourselves; and I as much fear that as anything. If we should [endeavour to] speak to your satisfactions, [so] you must [to] speak to our satisfactions, [and all of us to avoid disunion]. Though there be great fear of otherc [things], I shall very much question the integrity of any man [who does not fear that. For my part, I fear the very word]; I would not have it spoken.’
The suspicions of the Parliament entertained by the Agitators and their friends have not been allayed. Joyce is not satisfied that the Parliament’s owning of the Army extends to an owning of all its acts of war against the King; and Sexby voices his suspicion of the whole spirit of the declaration: ‘To me this seems very clear, and I cannot see yet any satisfaction to it. I conceive that what the Parliament has done in reference to their declaring us their Army was . . . rather out of fear than love. My reasons are these: first, because to this day those that deserted us are [better] looked upon, [more] countenanced, and abundantly better paid, than we; secondly, because as yet they look upon us as enemies: . . . they send to treat with us; for truly parliaments or armies never treat with friends but enemies, and truly we cannot but look upon ourselves so.’ Lieutenant Scotton and others who are convinced by Cromwell (and Desborough) and agree to await the Parliament’s answer, are earnest that emphasis should be laid on the release of the prisoners: ‘It does lie upon our spirits that there may be a real and effectual course taken that [the unjustly imprisoned] is [to be] freed.’ Cornet Spencer, just returned from London, reports that the militia officers are listing the apprentices and preparing them ‘to be ready at an hour’s warning’ to resist the Army, while the friends of the Army in London are eager for the Army’s immediate march hither.
Cromwell is sceptical: ‘Truly, sir, I think neither of these two things that gentleman spoke last are any great news. For the one of them, the listing of apprentices, I doubt they have listed them twice over; I am sure we have heard [it] more than twice over. For the other, [that our friends in London] would rejoice to see us come up, what if we [be] better able to consult what is for their good than themselves? It is the general good of them and all the people in the kingdom [we ought to aim at]. That’s the question, what’s for their good, not what pleases them. * * * [Even] if you be in the right, and I in the wrong, [still if you will force the issue we shall be divided, and] if we be divided I doubt we shall all be in the wrong. * * * The question is singly this: whether or no we shall not in a positive way desire the answer to these things before we march towards London, when perhaps we may have the same things in the time that we can march. Here is the strictness of the question.’
At this point Major Tulidah (Cromwell’s rebuke still rankling) is heard to complain: ‘If anything be spoken [against them], to say that it is out of zeal, and that we should abound [only] in theira sense! I humbly desire there may be liberty to speak, and that a providence may carry things, and [they will] not [go] that way.’ But Colonel Rich calls for the question, declaring that there are but two things to decide: first, whether the paper and the five points should be forwarded to the Parliament, and, if so, how; secondly, the matter of the march to London, whether now or after an interval of four days. Lieutenant Chillenden professes ‘great satisfaction in his spirit’ with Cromwell’s proposal of four days’ delay, and asks only that special emphasis may be given to the matter of the release of Lilburne and the other prisoners, for ‘it lies so weighty upon his spirit.’ He then moves ‘that that paper may go, concluding all things in it.’ Ireton amends the motion so as to send the five points, but omit the ‘Additional Reasons,’ in which the proposal of the Army’s march on London is contained. And the meeting concludes.
Account of the Debate, in a Newsletter from Reading,b 17th July.
Yesterday there was a great council of war called; it held till twelve o’clock at night, consistingc of above one hundred officers, besides Agitators, who now in prudence we admit to debate. And it is not lessd than necessary they should be [admitted], considering the influence they have upon the soldiers. . . . And I assure you, it is the singularest part of wisdom in the General and the officers so to carry themselves, considering the present temper of the Army, so as to be unanimous in councils, including the new persons into their number. It keeps a good accord, and obtains ready obedience, for to this hour never any troop or company yet mutinied. . . . It is the hand of God that doth it, I hope, for a good end. It is not proper to relate particular debates yesterday; yet accept of a word in general, and think it not strange, if it should be advised to march nearer to London, as an expedient to obtain satisfaction in those particulars which have been long desired by the Army of the Parliament, as in particular declaring against foreign forces’ coming in, the putting Reformadoes out of the line, and suspending the eleven Members, but more especially to desire the Parliament to put the militia of the City of London into the same hands it was before, without which we cannot hold ourselves secure in proceeding to treat. . . . Though this was much pressed with reasons and earnestness by the Agitators, yet the General and the officers after many hours’ debate so satisfied them with arguments and reasons to the contrary, that they submitted it to the General and officers, no man gainsaying it; and so it is resolved to send to the Parliament to desire these particulars, especially the militia, and receive a positive answer within four days.
11. Of the Debate of 17th July, on the not-yet-completed Heads of the Proposals, the account, in Clarke MSS., vol. 67, is fragmentary, breaking off suddenly. Two speeches on the value of General Discussion, and of Reference to a Committee, alone are significant:
Ireton: For . . . the passing those particulars here read without a further weighing or consideration, it might be inconvenient; and therefore I shall desire that, though there be no man that finds anything of exception against any part of the thing that is read,a yet that it may be referred to a less number that may weigh or consider all things.b [These particulars are offered] not for a present conclusion, but consideration; for I cannot say the things have been so considered as to satisfy myself in them.
Allen: I shall only offer one word. I think that the things in hand he names are things of great weight, having relation to the settling of a kingdom, which is a great work; truly, the work we all expect to have a share in, and desire that others may also. I suppose it is not unknown to you that we are most of us but young statesmen, and not well able to judge how strongc such things which we hear now read to us may be to the ends for which they are presented; and for us out of judgment to give our assents to it must take up some time that we may deliberate upon it. And therefore I shall desire that we may not only name them [i.e. a committee] now, but spend some time [in debate], when we hear things unsatisfactory to the ends for which they are proposed.
12. This is followed in Clarke MSS. by an order of Fairfax, dated 18th July, naming twelve officers, including Ireton, Lambert, Harrison, Rainborough, Rich, Sir Hardress Waller, a committee ‘to meet, consult and proceed with the twelve Agitators, according to the appointment made at the General Council of War yesterday, for the perfecting of the Proposals then read, in order to the settling of the liberties and peace of the kingdom . . . ; and Lieutenant-General Cromwell to be present with the said council when he can.’
DOCUMENTS RELATING TO THE PUTNEY DEBATES
From the Heads of the Proposalsa
I. That, the things, hereafter proposed, being provided for by this Parliament, a certain period may by Act of Parliament be set for the ending of this Parliament; such period to be put within a year at most. And in the same Act provision to be made for the succession and constitution of Parliaments in future, as followeth:
1. That Parliaments may biennially be called and meet at a certain day, with such provision for the certainty thereof, as in the late Act was made for triennial Parliaments, and what further or other provision shall be found needful by the Parliament to reduce it to more certainty; and upon the passing of this, the said Act for triennial Parliaments to be repealed.
2. Each biennial Parliament to sit 120 days certain (unless adjourned or dissolved sooner by their own consent); afterwards to be adjournable or dissolvable by the King, and no Parliament to sit past 240 days from their first meeting, or some other limited number of days now to be agreed on; upon the expiration whereof each Parliament to dissolve of course, if not otherwise dissolved sooner.
3. The King, upon advice of the Council of State, in the intervals betwixt biennial Parliaments, to call a Parliament extraordinary, provided to meet above 70 days before the next biennial day, and be dissolved at least 60 days before the same; so as the course of biennial elections may never be interrupted.
4. That this Parliament and each succeeding biennial Parliament, at or before adjournment or dissolution thereof, may appoint committees to continue during the interval for such purposes as are in any of these Proposals referred to such committees.
5. That the elections of the Commons for succeeding Parliaments may be distributed to all counties, or other parts or divisions of the kingdom, according to some rule of equality or proportion, so as all counties may have a number of Parliament-members allowed to their choice, proportionable to the respective rates they bear in the common charges and burdens of the kingdom, [or] according to some other rule of equality or proportion, to render the House of Commons (as near as may be) an equal representative of the whole; and in order thereunto, that a present consideration be had to take off the elections of burgesses for poor, decayed, or inconsiderable towns, and to give some present addition to the number of Parliament-members for great counties that have now less than their due proportion, to bring all (at present) as near as may be to such a rule of proportion as aforesaid.
6. That effectual provision be made for future freedom of elections, and certainty of due returns.
7. That the House of Commons alone have the power from time to time to set down further orders and rules for the ends expressed in the two last preceding articles, so as to reduce the elections of members for that House to more and more perfection of equality in the distribution, freedom in the election, order in the proceeding thereto, and certainty in the returns, which orders and rules (in that case) to be as laws.
8. That there be a liberty for entering dissents in the House of Commons, with provision that no member be censurable for aught said or voted in the House further than to exclusion from that trust; and that only by the judgment of the House itself.
9. That the judicial power, or power of final judgment in the Lords and Commons, and their power of exposition and application of law, without further appeal, may be cleared; and that no officer of justice, minister of state, or other person adjudged by them, may be capable of protection or pardon from the King without their advice and consent.
10. That the right and liberty of the Commons of England may be cleared and vindicated as to a due exemption from any judgment, trial, or other proceeding against them by the House of Peers, without the concurring judgment of the House of Commons; as also from any other judgment, sentence or proceeding against them, other than by their equals, or according to the law of the land.
11. The same Act to provide that grand jurymen may be chosen by and for several parts or divisions of each county respectively, in some equal way (and not remain, as now, at the discretion of an undersheriff to be put on or off); and that such grand jurymen for their respective counties may at each assize present the names of persons to be made justices of the peace from time to time as the country hath need for any to be added to the Commission, and at the summer assize to present the names of three persons, out of whom the King may prick one to be sheriff for the next year.
[II vests the power of the militia in the Lords and Commons in Parliament for ten years (to be administered in the intervals of Parliaments by a committee or council of their appointment); and thereafter in the King, only as he acts with their advice and consent.
III provides for a Council of State and defines its powers.
IV—X provide for a series of necessary Acts of Parliament: for appointment to the great offices of state by the Lords and Commons for ten years, and thereafter by the King from their nominees; for restraining all peers created since 21st May 1642 from parliamentary functions, unless with the consent of both Houses; for recalling all declarations against the Parliament, &c. &c.]
XI. An Act to be passed to take away all coercive power, authority, and jurisdiction of bishops and all other ecclesiastical officers whatsoever, extending to any civil penalties upon any; and to repeal all laws whereby the civil magistracy hath been or is bound, upon any ecclesiastical censure to proceed (ex officio) unto any civil penalties against any persons so censured.
XII. That there be a repeal of all Acts, or clauses in any Act, enjoining the use of the Book of Common Prayer and imposing any penalties for neglect thereof; as also of all Acts, or clauses in any Act, imposing any penalty for not coming to church, or for meetings elsewhere for prayer or other religious duties, exercises, or ordinances; and some other provision to be made for discovering of Papists and Popish recusants, and for disabling of them, and of all Jesuits or priests, from disturbing the state.
XIII. That the taking of the Covenant be not enforced upon any, nor any penalties imposed on the refusers, whereby men might be constrained to take it against their judgments or consciences; but all orders or ordinances tending to that purpose to be repealed.
XIV. That, the things here before proposed being provided, for settling and securing the rights, liberties, peace, and safety of the kingdom, His Majesty’s person, his Queen, and royal issue, may be restored to a condition of safety, honour and freedom in this nation, without diminution to their personal rights, or further limitation to the exercise of the regal power than according to the particulars aforegoing.
[XV provides for exclusions from the Act of Oblivion, and for composition on terms not to exceed a fixed rate set forth.]
XVI. That there may be a general Act of Oblivion to extend unto all (except the persons to be continued in exception as before), to absolve from all trespasses, misdemeanours, &c., done in prosecution of the war; and from all trouble or prejudice for or concerning the same (after their compositions passed), and to restore them to all privileges, &c., belonging to other subjects, provided as in the fourth particular under the second general head aforegoing concerning security. * * *
Next to the Proposals aforesaid for the present settling of a peace, we shall desire that no time may be lost by the Parliament for dispatch of other things tending to the welfare, ease, and just satisfaction of the kingdom, and in special manner:
I. That the just and necessary liberty of the people to represent their grievances and desires by way of petition, may be cleared and vindicated, according to the fifth head in the late Representation or Declaration of the Army sent from St. Albans.
II. That (in pursuance of the same head in the said Declartion) the common grievances of the people may be speedily considered of, and effectually redressed, and in particular:
1. That the excise may be taken off from such commodities whereon the poor people of the land do ordinarily live, and a certain time to be limited for taking off the whole;
2. That the oppressions and encroachments of forest laws may be prevented for the future;
3. All monopolies, old or new, and restraints to the freedom of trade to be taken off;
4. That a course may be taken, and commissioners appointed, to remedy and rectify the inequality of rates lying upon several counties, and several parts of each county in respect of others, and to settle the proportions for land-rates to more equality throughout the kingdoms; in order to which we shall offer some further particulars, which we hope may be useful;
5. The present unequal troublesome and contentious way of ministers’ maintenance by tithes to be considered of, and some remedy applied;
6. That the rules and course of law, and the officers of it, may be so reduced and reformed as that all suits and questions of right may be more clear and certain in the issues, and not so tedious nor chargeable in the proceedings as now; in order to which we shall offer some further particulars hereafter;
7. That prisoners for debt or other creditors (who have estates to discharge them) may not by embracing imprisonment, or any other ways, have advantage to defraud their creditors, but that the estates of all men may be some way made liable to their debts (as well as tradesmen are by commissions of bankrupt), whether they be imprisoned for it or not; and that such prisoners for debt who have not wherewith to pay, or at least do yield up what they have to their creditors, may be freed from imprisonment, or some way provided for, so as neither they nor their families may perish by their imprisonments.
8. Some provision to be made, that none may be compelled by penalties, or otherwise, to answer unto questions tending to the accusing of themselves or their nearest relations in criminal causes; and no man’s life to be taken away under two witnesses.
9. That consideration may be had of all statutes, and the laws or customs of corporations, imposing any oaths either to repeal or else to qualify and provide against the same, so far as they may extend or be construed to the molestation or ensnaring of religious and peaceable people, merely for nonconformity in religion.
III. That, according to the sixth head in the Declaration of the Army, the large powers given to committees or deputy-lieutenants during the late times of war and distraction, may be speedily taken into consideration, to be recalled and made void, and that such powers of that nature as shall appear necessary to be continued may be put into a regulated way, and left to as little arbitrariness as the nature and necessity of the things wherein they are conversant, will bear.
IV. That, according to the seventh head in the said Declaration, an effectual course may be taken that the kingdom may be righted, and satisfied in point of accounts for the vast sums that have been levied.
V. That provision may be made for payment of arrears to the Army, and the rest of the soldiers of the kingdom who have concurred with the Army in the late desires and proceedings thereof; and in the next place for payment of the public debts and damages of the kingdom; and that to be performed first to such persons whose debts or damages (upon the public account) are great, and their estates small, so as they are thereby reduced to a difficulty of subsistence. In order to all which, and to the fourth particular last preceding, we shall speedily offer some further particulars (in the nature of rules), which we hope will be of good use towards public satisfaction. * * *
The Levellers’ Discontent with the Heads of the Proposals From [John Wildman], Putney Projectsa
But . . . I must not . . . beguile you . . . by styling them The Army’s Proposals. * * * I scarce believe they passed a General Council before they were published. But that’s not all; for they last of all passed the King’s eye, and therefore it is no wonder that he moved for a personal treaty upon those Proposals. * * *
When the Proposals were first composed there was a small restriction of the King’s negative voice: it was agreed to be proposed that whatsoever bill should be propounded by two immediate succeeding Parliaments should stand in full force and effect as any other law, though the King should refuse to consent. By this the people should not have been absolutely vassals to the King’s will: they should have been under some possibility of relief under any growing oppressions. But this entrenched too much upon the King’s interest to be insisted upon. * * *
In that rough draft it was proposed that all who have been in hostility against the Parliament be incapable of bearing office of power or public trust for ten years, without consent of Parliament. But in further favour of the King’s interest, these ten years of excluding delinquents from power or trust, were changed to five years.
It was further added, after this intercourse with the King, that the Council of State should have power to admit such delinquents to any office of power or trust before those five years were expired; and thus by the King’s insinuations to that council (if any such should be constituted), and their own relations’, the greatest delinquents in England would be in the greatest trust before twelve months’ end.
In the composure of the Proposals it was desired that an act for the extirpation of bishops might be passed by the King. But if there should be none to preach up the King’s interest, and by flattering, seducing words to beguile the people, and foster high imaginations and superstitious conceits of the King in their hearts under the rude and general notion of authority, his lordliness and tyranny would be soon distasted. And therefore this proposal was so moderated that the office and function of the bishops might be continued; and it is now only proposed that the coercive power and jurisdiction of bishops, extending to any civil penalties upon any, be abolished.
After this treaty with the King, the proposal for passing an Act to confirm the sale of bishops’ lands was wholly obliterated; and though the Army afterwards desired the Parliament to proceed in the sale and alienation of those lands, yet that was none of their proposals in order to a peace with the King. But according to their proposals for a settled peace, the King was first to be established on his throne with his usurped power of a negative voice to all laws or determinations of Parliament, and then they knew that the King might be at his choice whether he would permit an alienation of these lands. * * *
You have seen the stream of power declared to proceed from a false fountain, the King’s will; the right to command your persons in the exercise of the militia, given away to the capital enemy; and a respect of persons allowed in the execution of the laws. Yet . . . I have not searched all your wounds received from your pretended friends. Let me search two or three more.
First, by the Proposals the people are made to depend upon the King’s absolute will for the redress of all the grievances and oppressions under which they have groaned so many years. It is proposed, that the King be restored to the exercise of the regal power, part whereof, in the King[’s] and their interpretation, is his negative voice, before the least common grievance be redressed, a burden removed. Compare the fourteenth proposal with the thirteen preceding. By this whenever the Parliament shall remember their duty to study redress for the people’s grievances, they shall but sow the wind and reap the whirlwind, unless they gain the concurrence of the King’s will. Then in case the brutish vassalage under unknown laws, and worse than Turkish manner of their execution, should be laid to heart, and redress prepared; if it should be endeavoured to cut off those excretions of nature, the great lawyers, which grow up out of the ruins and decays of the natural members of the body politic; if the oppressions by unjust judges, justices and other officers, by illegal imprisonments during pleasure, by examining upon interrogatories, and those other oppressions by forced oaths, tithes, monopolies, forest laws, &c., should have suitable remedy contrived: yet the people’s good of all such labours shall depend solely upon the King’s will. Though the degrees of oppression, injustice, and cruelty are the turning stairs by which he ascends to his absolute stately majesty and greatness; yet he must be depended upon to remove oppressions. * * * Cleanliness must come forth out of uncleanness in the abstract. And seeing this is the order wherein the Army proposed the people’s grievances to be redressed, I know no other use of those Proposals than to support the tottering reputation of the grand officers in the minds of such as shall not discern their vanity.
Secondly, by the Proposals all the Commons of England are made to depend upon the King’s absolute creatures for freedom. Although the Lords are the very offspring of the King’s corrupt will, and were never so honoured by the people as to have a trust committed to them to represent any county, yet those Proposals invest them with the highest authority, only because of the King’s patent:
1. The Proposals allow them a power over the militia, co-ordinate and co-equal to the Representative of all the nation, the Commons in Parliament. * * *
2. A judicial power in exposition and application of law (in no degree subordinate to the Commons) is estated in the Lords, by the ninth particular of the first proposal; so that any sentence of the Commons, representing all England, may be contradicted by five or six Lords, by virtue of the King’s patent. And likewise they are invested by the fourth proposal with a power equal to the Commons in the disposing all the offices of power and trust in the nation; and the third particular of the second proposal allows them the same power in raising of money for the public service. And a restriction to their usurpation of a negative voice to all the resolutions of the Commons, is not once named or intimated, although Ireton himself hath confessed in their councils that the King by his oath is obliged to confirm such laws as the Commons should choose—the word vulgus in the King’s oath, signifying people or folk, excludes the Lords totally from any right to intermeddle in making laws. And further the Proposals connive at least (in the tenth particular of the first proposal) at the Lords’ constant treasonable subversion of the fundamental laws of England, by molesting, summoning, attaching, and imprisoning the Commons, over whom by the known laws they have no original jurisdiction.
Indeed it is offered that the Commons’ liberty may be cleared as to an exemption from any judgment of the Peers, without the concurring judgment of the House of Commons. But the Lords’ barbarous cruelty in vexing and imprisoning the Commons at their pleasure, and during their pleasure, is not motioned to be restrained: but it is rather insinuated that the Lords may pass upon the Commons and then desire the Commons’ concurrence. Thus they indulge the Lords in their most palpable injustice and open violation of the ancient English liberties contained in Magna Charta, and lately confirmed in the Petition of Right.
And does not this practice run parallel with this proposal? Has not Cromwell suffered that gallant champion for English freedom, Lieutenant-Colonel John Lilburne, to consume in prison by that usurped lordly power? Yea, though Cromwell first engaged him against the lordly usurpation and tyranny, by impeaching the Earl of Manchester for his treachery; yet hath he not unworthily deserted both the prosecution of justice against him, and left his implored assistant alone to maintain the hazardous contest or to be crushed to pieces by their potency? * * *
From [John Wildman], The Case of the Army truly Stateda15th Oct.
Whereas the grievances, dissatisfactions and desires of the Army, both as Commoners and soldiers, hath been many months since represented to the Parliament, and the Army hath waited with much patience to see their common grievances redressed and the rights and freedoms of the nation cleared and secured; yet upon a most serious and conscientious view of our Narratives, Representations, Engagement, Declarations, Remonstrances, and comparing with those the present state of the Army and kingdom, and the present manner of actings of many at the Headquarters, we not only apprehend nothing to have been done effectually, either for the Army or the poor oppressed people of the nation, but we also conceive that there is little probability of any good without some more speedy and vigorous actings.
In respect of the Army, there hath been hitherto no public vindication thereof about their first Petition, answerable to the ignominy ofb declaring them enemies to the state and disturbers of the peace; no public clearing nor repairing of the credit of the officers, sent for about that petition as delinquents; no provision for apprentices, widows, orphans, or maimed soldiers, answerable to our reasonable addresses propounded in their behalf; no such indemnity as provideth security for the quiet, ease or safety of the soldiers disbanded or to be disbanded; no security for our arrears, or provision for present pay to enable the Army to subsist without burdening the distressed country.
And in respect to the rights and freedoms of ourselves and the people, that we declared we would insist upon, we conceive there is no kind or degree of satisfaction given. There is no determinate period of time set when the Parliament shall certainly end. The House is in no measure purged, either from persons unduly elected or from delinquents that appeared to be such at the Army’s last insisting upon their rights, or since; the honour of the Parliamentary authority not cleared and vindicated from the most horrid injustice of that declaration against the Army for petitioning, nor of suppressing and burning petitions, abusing and imprisoning petitioners. But those strange precedents remain upon record to the infamy of Parliamentary authority and the danger of our own and the people’s freedoms. The people are not righted nor satisfied in point of accounts, for the vast sums of money disbursed by them. None of the public burdens or oppressions by arbitrary committees, injustice in the law, tithes, monopolies and restraint of free trade, burdensome oaths, inequality of assessments, excise (and otherwise), are removed or lightened. The rights of the people in their Parliaments, concerning the nature and extent of that power, are not cleared and declared. So that we apprehend our own and the people’s case, little (if in any measure) better since the Army last hazarded themselves for their own and the people’s rights and freedoms. Nay, to the grief of our hearts we must declare that we conceive the people and the Army’s case much impaired since the first rendezvous at Newmarket when that Solemn Engagement was entered into. * * *
In the Engagement, . . . the Army promised, every member thereof, each to other and to the Parliament and kingdom, that they would neither disband nor divide, nor suffer themselves to be disbanded or divided, until satisfaction should be given to the Army in relation to their grievances and desires, and security that neither the Army nor the free-born people of England should remain subject to such injuries, oppression and abuse, as the corrupt party in the Parliament then had attempted against them.
Secondly, the train of artillery is now to be disbanded before satisfaction or security is given to the whole Army in relation to themselves or other the free-born people, either in respect to their grievances or desires. And when the strength or sinews of the Army be broken, what effectual good can be secured for themselves or the people in case of opposition?
Thirdly, the Army is divided into quarters so far distant that one part is in no capability to give timely assistance to another if any design should be to disband any part by violence suddenly. . . . And as we conceive this dividing of the Army before satisfaction or security (as aforesaid) to be contrary to the Army’s intention in their engagement at the said rendezvous, so we conceive it hath from that time given all the advantage to the enemies to band and design against the Army, whereby not only pay hath been kept from the soldiers, and security for arrears prevented, but the kingdom was endangered to have been embroiled in blood, and the settlement of the peace and freedom of the nation hath been thus long delayed.
The whole intent of the Engagement, and the equitable sense of it, hath been perverted openly by affirming, and by sinister means making seeming determinations in the Council, that the Army was not to insist upon, or demand any security for, any of their own or other the free-born people’s freedoms or rights, though they might propound anything to the Parliament’s consideration. And according to that high breach of their engagement their actions have been regulated, and nothing that was declared formerly to be insisted upon hath been resolvedly adhered to, or claimed as the Army’s or the people’s due. And we conceive it hath been by this means that the soldier hath had no pay constantly provided, nor any security for arrears given them, and that hitherto they could not obtain so much as to be paid up equally with those that did desert the Army. . . .
Fourthly, in the prosecution of this breach there hath been many discouragements of the Agitators of the regiments in consulting about the most effectual means for procuring the speedy redress of the people’s grievances, and clearing and securing the native rights of the Army and all others the free Commons.
It hath been instilled into them that they ought not to intermeddle with those matters, thereby to induce them to betray the trust the regiments reposed in them. And for that purpose the endeavours of some hath been to persuade the soldier that their Agitators have meddled with more than concerned them. In the Declaration of June 14, . . . it was declared that the Army would adhere to their desires of full and equal satisfaction to the whole soldiery of the kingdom (in arrears, indemnity, and all other things mentioned in the papers that contained the grievances, dissatisfactions and desires), who did then, or should afterward, concur with this Army in these desires. * * *
Sixthly, in the same declaration . . . it is declared that the Army took up arms in judgment and conscience for the people’s just rights and liberties, and not as mercenary soldiers, hired to serve an arbitrary power of the state, and that in the same manner it continued in arms at that time. And . . . it was declared that they proceeded upon the principles of right and freedom, and upon the law of nature and nations. But the strength of the endeavours of many hath been and are now spent to persuade the soldiers and Agitators that they stand as soldiers only to serve the state, and may not as free Commons claim their right and freedom as due to them, as those ends for which they have hazarded their lives, and that the ground of their refusing to disband was only the want of arrears and indemnity. * * *
Eighthly, in the Declaration of June 14 . . . (as in all other remonstrances and declarations) it was desired that the rights and liberties of the people might be secured before the King’s business should be considered. But now the grievances of the people are propounded to be considered after the restoring him to the regal power, and that in such a way according to the Proposals,viz., with a negative voice, that the people that have purchased by blood what was their right, of which the King endeavoured to deprive them, should yet solely depend on his will for their relief in their grievances and oppressions; and in like manner the security for the Army’s arrears is proposed to be considered after the business of the King be determined, so that there is a total declension since the method formerly desired in the settling the peace of the nation. * * *
Tenthly, when imminent ruin to the whole nation was apprehended by means of the multitudes of corrupted members of Parliament, diverting and obstructing all good proceedings, then the purging of the House in part, from one kind of delinquents, was again insisted upon, and a solemn protestation was passed in the Remonstrance from Kingston . . ., that the Army would not permit those to sit in the House, that usurped the name and power of Parliamentary authority when the Parliament was by violence suspended, and endeavoured to raise a war to destroy the Parliament and Army, but that they would take some effectual course to restrain them from sitting there, that the people might be concluded only by those members that are free from such apparent treacherous breaches of their trust.
But hitherto this engagement for purging the House from those delinquents, whose interest engages them to be designing mischief against the people and Army, is declined and broken, to the black reproach and foulest infamy of the Army; and now these strong cords are cut in sunder and so forgotten that there are no visible endeavours or intentions to preserve the honour of the Army in its faithfulness to its engagement and protestation.
Thus all promises of the Army to the people that petitioned his Excellency and the Army to stand for the national interest, freedoms, and rights, are hitherto wholly declined, and the law of nature and nations now refused by many to be the rule by which their proceedings should be regulated. They now strip themselves of the interest of Englishmen, which was so ill resented when it was attempted by the malice of the enemies. And thus the people’s expectations that were much greatened, and their hopes of relief in their miseries and oppressions, which were so much heightened, are like to be frustrate, and while you look for peace and freedom the flood-gates of slavery, oppression and misery are opened upon the nation. . . .
The mischiefs, evils and dangers which are and will be the necessary consequence of the Army’s declining or delaying the effectual fulfilling of its first engagement, promises and declarations, or of its neglect to insist positively upon its first principles of common right and freedom. * * *
Now we cannot but declare that these sad apprehensions of mischiefs, dangers and confusion gaping to devour the Army, hath filled our hearts with troubles, that we never did, nor do regard the worst of evils or mischiefs that can befall ourselves in comparison to the consequence of them to the poor nation, or to the security of common right and freedom. We could not but, in real (not formal, feigned) trouble of heart for the poor nation and oppressed people, break forth and cry, ‘O our bowels! our bowels! we are troubled at the very heart to hear the people’s doleful groans.’ And yet their expected deliverers will not hear or consider. They have run to and fro, and sighed or even wept forth, their sorrows and miseries in petitions, first to the King, then to the Parliament, and then to the Army; yet they have all been like broken reeds, even the Army itself, upon whom they leaned, have pierced their hands. Their eyes even fail with looking for peace and freedom, but behold nothing but distraction, oppression, and trouble; and could we hope that help is intended, yet the people perish by delays. We wish therefore that the bowels of compassion in the whole Army might yearn towards their distressed brethren, and that they might with one consent ask each to other: ‘Come let us join together speedily, to demand present redress for the people’s grievances and security for all their and our own rights and freedoms as soldiers and Commoners. Let us never divide each from other till those just demands be answered really and effectually, that so for the people’s ease as many forces as are not absolutely necessary may be speedily disbanded and our honour may be preserved unspotted, when they shall see that we minded not our own interest, but the good, freedom, and welfare of the whole nation.’ Now to all that shall thus appear we propound:
a That whatsoever was proposed to be insisted on either in the Declaration of June the fourteenth, or the Remonstrance [of] June 23, and in the Remon[strance] from Kingston, August 18, be adhered to resolvedly, so as not to recede from those desires until they be thoroughly and effectually answered. More particularly, . . . whereas it appears by positive laws and ancient just customs that the people have right to new successive elections for Parliaments at certain periods of time, and that it ought not to be denied them, being so essential to their freedom that without it they are no better than slaves (the nature of that legislative power being arbitrary), . . . that therefore it be insisted on so positively and resolvedly, as not to recede from it.
 That a determined period of time be forthwith set wherein this Parliament shall certainly be dissolved, provided also that the said period be within nine or ten months next ensuing, that so there may be sufficient time for settling of peace and freedom. * * *
5. Whereas Parliaments rightly constituted are the foundation of hopes of right and freedom to this people, and whereas the people have been prevented of Parliaments, though many positive laws have been made for a constant succession of Parliaments, that therefore it be positively and resolvedly insisted upon that a law paramount be made, enacting it to be unalterable by Parliaments, that the people shall of course meet without any warrants or writs once in every two years upon an appointed day in their respective countries, for the election of the representers in Parliament, and that all the free-born at the age of twenty-one years and upwards be the electors, excepting those that have or shall deprive themselves of that their freedom, either for some years or wholly, by delinquency, and that the Parliament so elected and called may have a certain period of time set, wherein they shall of course determine, and that before the same period they may not be adjournable and dissolvable by the King, or any other except themselves.
 Whereas all power is originally and essentially in the whole body of the people of this nation, and whereas their free choice or consent by their representers is the only original or foundation of all just government, and the reason and end of the choice of all just governors whatsoever is their apprehension of safety and good by them, that it be insisted upon positively, that the supreme power of the people’s representers, or Commons assembled in Parliament, be forthwith clearly declared: as their power to make laws, or repeal laws (which are not or ought not to be unalterable), as also their power to call to an account all officers in this nation whatsoever, for their neglect or treacheries in their trust for the people’s good, and to continue or displace and remove them from their offices, dignities or trust, according to their demerits by their faithfulness or treachery in the business or matters wherewith they are entrusted. And further that this power to constitute any kind of governors or officers that they shall judge to be for the people’s good be declared, and that, upon the aforesaid considerations, it be insisted upon, that all obstructions to the freedom and equality of the people’s choice of their representers, either by patents, charters, or usurpations by pretended customs, be removed by these present Commons in Parliament, and that such a freedom of choice be provided for, as the people may be equally represented. This power of Commons in Parliament is the thing against which the King hath contended, and the people have defended with their lives, and therefore ought now be demanded as the price of their blood.
 That all the oppressions of the poor by excise upon beer, cloth stuffs, and all manufactories and English commodities, be forthwith taken off, and that all excise be better regulated, and imposed upon foreign commodities, and a time set wherein it shall certainly end, if there be a necessity of its present continuance on such commodities. * * *
And it is further offered, that because the people are under much oppression and misery it be forthwith the whole work of the Parliament to hear, consider of, and study effectually redress for, all common grievances and oppressions, and for the securing all other the people’s rights and freedoms, besides all these aforementioned; and in particular . . . that all the orders, votes, ordinances, or declarations, that have passed either to discountenance petitions, suppress, prevent, or burn petitions, imprison or declare against petitioners, being dangerous precedents against the freedom of the people, may be forthwith expunged out of the Journal-books, and the injustice of them clearly declared to all the people, and that in such a declaration the soldiery be vindicated as to the right and equity of their first petition. * * *
And it is further offered: . . . whereas millions of money have been kept in dead stocks in the City of London, the halls and companies, and the freemen of the City could never obtain any account thereof according to their right, that therefore a just and strict account may be forthwith given to all the freemen of any those dead stocks; and . . . whereas there hath been nothing paid out of those, nor for the lands pertaining to the City, whiles the estates of others have been much wasted by continual payments, that therefore proportionable sums to what other estates have paid may be taken out of those dead stocks and lands, which would amount to such vast sums as would pay much of the soldiers’ arrears without burdening the oppressed people.
And it is further offered, that forest lands, and deans’ and chapters’ lands be immediately set apart for the arrears of the Army, and that the revenue of these, and the residue of bishops’ lands unsold, till the time of sale may be forthwith appointed to be paid into our treasury, to be reserved for the soldiers’ constant pay. And it is to be wished that only such part of the aforesaid lands be sold as necessity requires to satisfy the soldiery for arrears, and that the residue be reserved and improved for a constant revenue for the state, that the people may not be burdened, and that out of the revenues public debts may be paid. . . .
And it’s further offered for the people’s ease, that the arrears of all former assessments be duly collected from those who have sufficient estates, and have not been impoverished by the war.
And whereas it’s conceived that the fees of receivers of customs and excise, if they were justly computed, would amount to near as much as the Army’s pay, it is therefore offered that speedy consideration be had of the multitude of those officers and their excessive fees and profits. . . .
And for the ease and satisfaction of the people it’s further to be insisted on, that the charge of all the forces, to be kept up in the kingdom by sea or land, be particularly computed and published, and that all taxes that shall be necessary, may be wholly proportioned according to that charge; and that there be an equal rate propounded throughout the kingdom in all assessments, that so one town may not bear double the proportion of another of the same value. * * *
These things propounded are no more than what we conceived should have been thoroughly done long since, being as to the principlea of them but theb substance and equitable sense of the former Declarations, Remonstrances, and Representations. And therefore, though our restless desires of the people’s good and of the welfare of the Army have constrained us thus publicly to state our case and the remedy, according to the best improvement of the small talent of understanding that God hath given freely to us; yet let not the matter be prejudged because of the unworthy authors, neither let it be thought presumption. It may be remembered that the father’s danger made a dumb child to speak, and the Army’s, yea all the people’s, dangers and miseries have wrested open our mouths, who had otherwise been silent in this kind to the grave.
And let it not be thought that we intend the division of the Army. We profess we are deeply sensible and desire all our fellow soldiers to consider it: in case the union of the Army should be broken (which the enemy wait for) ruin and destruction will break in upon us like a roaring sea. But we are much confident that the adhering to those desires and to that speedy way of attaining our just ends for which we first engaged, cannot be interpreted to be a desire of division, but the strongest vigorous endeavours after union. And though many whom we did betrust have been guilty of most supinec negligence, yet we expect that the same instruction of judgment and conscience that (we have all professed) did command us forth at first for the people’s freedom, will be again so effectual that all will unanimously concur with us; so that a demand of the people’s and Army’s rights shall be made by the whole Army as by one man; that then all the enemies to, or obstructors of, the happy settlement of common right, peace and freedom, may hear of our union and resolution, and their hands may be weak, and their hearts may fail them; and so this Army that God hath clothed with honour in subduing the common enemy, may yet be more honourable in the people’s eyes when they shall be called the repairers of their breaches, and the restorers of their peace, right, and freedom. * * *
A Letter from the Agents to the Whole Soldiery
From Two Letters from the Agents of the Five Regiments (28th Oct.)a
But it may be some would affright you from owning your case as it’s now offered, by suggesting that it’s irregular and disorderly for the soldiers to join in anything before their officers, or that it’s contrary to law for you to demand your rights, or that it’s a resisting of authority, but we desire that our Declaration of June 14 . . . might be reviewed, wherein it appears that the Parliament hath declared that the equitable sense of the law is supreme to the letter, and doth dispense with it when a people’s safety is concerned; and that all authority is fundamentally seated in the office, and but ministerially in the persons; and that therefore it’s no resisting of authority or magistracy to side with the just principles and law of nature and nations, to preserve a people from perishing. And let it be remembered, that if you had not joined together at first, and chose your Agents to act for you when your officers thought it not safe for them to appear, you had been now in no capacity to plead for your own or the people’s freedom. And let it be considered that Scotland associated in covenant, and so by consent composed an army to stand upon principles of right and freedom when they had no visible form either of Parliament or King to countenance them, and they were therein justified and protected by their own and this nation, and may not this Army expect justly to be in like manner protected and justified in their joining together to insist upon the settlement of those freedoms which they have purchased with their blood out of the hands of the common enemy, which God hath subdued by them?
But if any envious tongues shall be blasting us with anarchy, clamouring that we intend to destroy government in the kingdom and Army and bring all into confusion, we suppose the assertion itself is so irrational that it will rather give you the true character of every such asperser than reflect upon us to our prejudice. Let it be observed that the chief foundation for all our rights and freedoms, which we are resolved most absolutely to insist upon, is a certainty of a constant Parliament every two years, and a certain time for their sitting and ending; and a sure establishment of the just power that the people betrust to those their representatives in their election, that they may make laws and repeal laws, place and displace all magistrates, and exercise all other power according to their trust, without the consent or concurrence of any other person or persons whatsoever. And we appeal to all rational men, whether in this we strive not for the freedom that we first engaged to maintain. * * *
Now it may be when the justice of our endeavours shall shine through all other reproaches, some will be muttering that we have designed to divide the Army, or the soldiers from the officers. But we appeal to your own consciences, whether persuasions to be faithful in observing our declarations, promises, and engagement, wherein we joined unanimously, tend to division. Is not this the sum of all that we have offered, viz., that your own and the people’s necessities, and the imminent danger of ruin, or at least slavery, to you and them, calls you to renew your union in the former desires, and in insisting upon suitable answers speedily, lest you and the people be confounded and perish by delays? And is this to divide? And as for rending from officers, let it be remembered that though the soldiers acted without them at first, yet those who were faithful did afterward concur with them. * * *
Letter of John Saltmarsh to the Council of War (28th Oct.)a
Honourable: Not to repeat to ye the sad outcries of a poor nation for justice and righteousness, the departure of the hearts of many Christians generally from you, the late testimonies of some in your own bowels, the withdrawing of that glory the Lord formerly clothed ye withal. But this I know: ye have not discharged yourselves to the people in such things as they justly expected from ye, and for which ye had that spirit of righteousness first put upon ye by an Almighty Power, and which carried you on upon a conquering wing. The wisdom of the flesh hath deceived and enticed, and that glorious principle of Christian liberty which we advanced in at first (I speak as to Christians) hath been managed too much in the flesh.
Now if the Lord hath opened to any of ye the unsoundness of any principle then, or in the management of them, I hope he will show ye a better course and path to walk in. And now ye are met in council, the Lord make ye to hearken to one another from the highest to the meanest, that the voice of God, wheresoever it speaks, may not be despised. And think it no shame to pass over into more righteous engagements. That wisdom which is from above is easy to be entreated. Look over your first Engagements, and compare them with your proceedings, that you may see what you have done, what you must do. I know it is unsavoury to nature to be accused or taxed, but I hope there will be found that spirit in you, that will esteem the wounds of a friend better than the kisses of an enemy. I write, I know, to such who in their first love were a people loving God and his appearances in the meanest Christian, and such as pursued the good and happiness of the kingdom cordially. And if the Lord hath not thought to take off the spirit of righteousness from ye and put it upon another people, he will give you to discern this last temptation wherein Satan hath desired to winnow ye, and ye shall be a diadem once more in the hands of the Lord. For myself, as I am myself, there is neither wisdom nor counsel in me; but if the Lord hath breathed on my weakness for your sakes, I shall rejoice in that mercy and grace of his. I rest,
Yours in all righteous Engagements,
Laystreet, Octob. 28, .
From A Call to all the Soldiers of the Army by the Free People of England (29th Oct.)a
Take heed of crafty politicians and subtle Machiavelians, and be sure to trust no man’s painted words; it being high time now to see actions, yea, and those constantly upright too. If any man (by bringing forth unexpected bitter fruits) hath drawn upon himself a just suspicion, let him justly bear his own blame. * * *
One of the surest marks of deceivers is to make fair, long and eloquent speeches, but a trusty or true-hearted man studieth more to do good actions than utter deceitful orations. And one of the surest tokens of confederates in evil is not only, when one of his fellows is vehement, fiery or hot in any of their pursuits, to be patient, cold or moderate, to pacify his partner, and like deceitful lawyers before their clients to qualify matters, but sometimes seem to discord or fall out, and quarrel in counsels, reasonings and debates, and yet nevertheless in the end to agree in evil; which they do purposely to hold upright men in a charitable (though doubtful) opinion, that if such and such a man be not godly and upright, they know not whom in the world to trust, whiles in the meantime under the vizards of great professions, gilded with some religious actions, they both deceive the world and bring their wicked designs and self-interests to pass.
Those of you that use your Thursday General Councils of late might have observed so much of this kind of juggling, falsehood, and double dealing, as might have served to some good use at this point of extremity. But truly most that have been there have been deluded, to our great grief, which appeareth by the unreasonable proceedings of that court, as in many things, so especially in their debates about the aforesaid Case of the Army, now published and subscribed by you. Wherein though the General was so ingenuous as to move for the public reading thereof, yet the Commissary - General Ireton and Lieutenant-General Cromwell, yea, and most of the court, would and did proceed to censure and judge both it and the authors and promoters thereof, without reading it, and ever since do impudently boast and glory in that their victory. * * *
In the Council they held forth to you the bloody flag of threats and terrors, talked of nothing but faction, dividing principles, anarchy, of hanging, punishing, yea, and impudently maintained that your regiments were abused and the aforesaid Case not truly subscribed, and did appoint a Committee ad terrorem. And abroad they hold forth the white flag of accommodation and satisfaction, and of minding the same thing which ye mind, and to be flesh of your flesh and bone of your bone, and to invite you to their headquarters, where they hope either to work upon you as they have most lamentably done upon others, even to betray your trust, confound both your understandings and counsels, corrupt your judgments, and blast your actions. And though they should not prevail with you, yet there they keep so great a state and distance that they suppose ye will not dare to make good the things ye have published. * * *
If ye do adventure to go thither, beware that ye be not frighted by the word anarchy, unto a love of monarchy, which is but the gilded name for tyranny; for anarchy had never been so much as once mentioned amongst you had it not been for that wicked end. ’Tis an old threadbare trick of the profane Court and doth amongst discreet men show plainly who is for the Court and against the liberties of the people, who, whensoever they positively insist for their just freedoms, are immediately flapped in the mouths with these most malignant reproaches: ‘Oh, ye are for anarchy. Ye are against all government. Ye are sectaries, seditious persons, troublers both of church and state, and so not worthy to live in a commonwealth. There shall be a speedy course taken both against you and such as you. Away with all such from Parliament-doors and Headquarters!’
And if ye can escape these delusions (as through God’s assistance, we trust, ye will), and not be satisfied with half or quarter remedies, or things holding a shadow only of good without the substance, we cannot in the least doubt of your good success, being firmly resolved to stand by you and to live and die with you.
Ye had need to be well armed and fortified against the devices that will be put upon you. Ireton (ye know) hath already scandalized The Case of the Army in the General Council. Where, by his own and his confederate’s craft and policy, he reigneth as sole master, insomuch as those friends ye have there (which we hope ye will see in due time not to be few) find it to little purpose to show themselves active in opposing him. And as he undertook so hath he answered your Case; wherein he showeth himself so full of art and cunning, smooth delusion (being skilled in nothing more), and if ye did not sensibly know the things to be really and experimentally true, which ye have therein expressed and published, ’tis ten to one but he would deceive you.
This is certain. In the House of Commons both he and his father Cromwell do so earnestly and palpably carry on the King’s design that your best friends there are amazed thereat, and even ready to weep for grief to see such a sudden and dangerous alteration. And this they do in the name of the whole Army, certifying the House that if they do not make further address to the King, they cannot promise that the Army will stand by them if they should find opposition. And what is this but as much in effect as in the name of the whole Army to threaten the House into a compliance with the King, your most deadly enemy, and who, if things go on thus, will deceive both you and them, yea, and all that act most for him?
To what purpose then should you either debate, confer, or treat with such false sophisters or treacherous deceivers as these, who, like the former courtiers, can always play the hypocrites without any check of conscience? To what end should ye read or spend time to consider what they either write or speak, it being so evident that as they did intend so they proceed to hold you in hand till their work be done?
But if you will show yourselves wise, stop your ears against them. Resist the devil and he will fly from you. Hold not parley with them, but proceed with that just work ye have so happily begun, without any more regarding one word they speak. For their consciences being at liberty to say or do anything which may advance their own ends, they have great advantage against you whose consciences will not permit you to say or do anything but what is just and true and what ye mean to perform, they having shamefully proved themselves to be large promisers, thereby to deceive both you and all the people, but the worst performers that ever lived.
And therefore, certainly, ye have no warrant from God to treat either with them or their deceitful instruments, who will be speedily (in great numbers) sent amongst you. But as ye know most of them for evil, so are ye to avoid them as the most venomous serpents, and fail not in this your just enterprise to cast yourselves chiefly upon God in the use of all the knowledge, experience, means, and power, wherewith he hath furnished you; and secondly upon the people, who will be ready with all their might and strength to assist you whilst ye are faithful and real[ly] for them. Join and be one with them in heart and hand, with all possible speed, in some substantial and firm Agreement for just freedom and common right, that this nation may no longer float upon such wavering, uncertain, and sandy foundations of government, which have been one of the greatest causes both of all your and our predecessors’ miseries. * * *
Your Adjutators, we hear, are esteemed but as a burden to the chief officers, which we judge to be the reason that all things now are in such a languishing condition. Our hopes die daily within us, and we fear ye will too soon give yourselves and us, with our joint and just cause, into their hands. Ye should have considered that they a long time staggered before they engaged with you, and certainly had never engaged but that they saw no other way nor means to shelter and preserve themselves from the power of Hollis and Stapleton, with their confederates. * * *
We beseech you, . . . commanders and soldiers that are yet untainted in your integrity and have not yet bowed your knees to Baal, that ye will not betray yourselves, your just cause and us, so unworthily, nor seem to distrust that power and wisdom of God by which ye have done so great and mighty works, but that now ye will be bold and courageous for your God and for his people, and for justice against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men without respect of persons.
And before it be too late, deal plainly with Ireton, by whose cowardly or ambitious policy Cromwell is betrayed into these mischievous practices, and by whose craft the power of your Adjutators is brought to nothing, and by whose dissimulation many of them are corrupted and become treacherous unto you. None but flatterers, tale-bearers, and turn-coats are countenanced by him. Let him know ye know him and hate his courses. Your General Councils, by his imperious carriage, are like unto Star Chambers. A plain man is made an offender for a word.
And if Cromwell instantly repent not and alter his course, let him know also that ye loved and honoured just, honest, sincere, and valiant Cromwell that loved his country and the liberties of the people above his life, yea, and hated the King as a man of blood, but that Cromwell ceasing to be such, he ceaseth to be the object of your love.
And since there is no remedy, ye must begin your work anew. Ye are as ye were at Bury. Ye are no strangers to the way; ye have already made a good beginning, wherein we rejoice. Ye have men amongst you as fit to govern as others to be removed. And with a word ye can create new officers. Necessity hath no law, and against it there is no plea. The safety of the people is above all law. And if ye be not very speedy, effectual, and do your work thoroughly, and not by halves as it hath been, ye and we perish inevitably.
What your General is ye best know, but ’tis too late to live by hopes or to run any more hazards. None can deceive you but whom ye trust upon doubtful terms. Beware of the flattery and sophistry of men, bargain with your officers not to court it in fine or gaudy apparel, nor to regard titles, fine fare, or compliments. Those that do are much more liable to temptations than other men. A good conscience is a continual feast, and let your outside testify that ye delight not to be soldiers longer than necessity requires.
Draw yourselves into an exact council, and get amongst you the most judicious and truest lovers of the people ye can find to help you, and let your end be justice without respect of persons, and peace and freedom to all sorts of peaceable people. Establish a free Parliament by expulsion of the usurpers. Free the people from all burdens and oppressions, speedily and without delay. Take an exact account of the public treasure, that public charges may be defrayed by subsidies, tithes abolished, the laws, and proceedings therein, regulated, and free-quarter abandoned.
Let nothing deter you from this, so just and necessary a work. None will oppose you therein, or so long as ye continue sincere and uncorrupted. For all sorts of people have been abused: kings have abused them, parliaments have abused them, and your chief officers have most grossly deceived the honest party. Be confident none will oppose, and be as confident that thousands and ten thousands are ready and ripe to assist you.
Be strong therefore, our dear true-hearted brethren and fellow Commoners, and be of good courage, and the Lord our God will direct you by his wisdom, who never yet failed you in your greatest extremities. Stay for no farther, look for no other call; for the voice of necessity is the call of God. All other ways for your indemnity are but delusive; and if ye trust to any other under the fairest promises, ye will find yourselves in a snare.
Whom can ye trust, who hath not hitherto deceived you? Trust only to justice; for God is a God of justice, and those that promote the same shall be preserved. Free the Parliament from those incendiaries with all your might. The true and just patriots (yea, all but deceivers) therein, long for your assistance, and, that being effectually done, ye may safely put yourselves and the whole nation upon them both for provision, indemnity, and just liberty. * * *
An Agreement of the People (Printed 3rd Nov.)a
[After a preamble, substantially the same as that of the Second Agreement (above p. 356), the Agreement proceeds:] In order whereunto we declare:
I. That the people of England, being at this day very unequally distributed by counties, cities, and boroughs, for the election of their deputies in Parliament, ought to be more indifferently proportioned, according to the number of the inhabitants; the circumstances whereof, for number, place, and manner, are to be set down before the end of this present Parliament.
II. That to prevent the many inconveniences apparently arising from the long continuance of the same persons in authority, this present Parliament be dissolved upon the last day of September, which shall be in the year of our Lord 1648.
III. That the people do of course choose themselves a Parliament once in two years, viz., upon the first Thursday in every second March, after the manner as shall be prescribed before the end of this Parliament, to begin to sit upon the first Thursday in April following, at Westminster (or such other place as shall be appointed from time to time by the preceding Representatives), and to continue till the last day of September then next ensuing, and no longer.
IV. That the power of this, and all future Representatives of this nation is inferior only to theirs who choose them, and doth extend, without the consent or concurrence of any other person or persons, to the enacting, altering, and repealing of laws; to the erecting and abolishing of offices and courts; to the appointing, removing, and calling to account magistrates and officers of all degrees; to the making war and peace; to the treating with foreign states; and generally to whatsoever is not expressly or impliedly reserved by the represented to themselves.
Which are as followeth:
1. That matters of religion, and the ways of God’s worship, are not at all entrusted by us to any human power, because therein we cannot remit or exceed a tittle of what our consciences dictate to be the mind of God, without wilful sin; nevertheless the public way of instructing the nation (so it be not compulsive) is referred to their discretion.
2. That the matter of impressing and constraining any of us to serve in the wars is against our freedom, and therefore we do not allow it in our representatives; the rather because money (the sinews of war) being always at their disposal, they can never want numbers of men apt enough to engage in any just cause.
3. That after the dissolution of this present Parliament, no person be at any time questioned for anything said or done in reference to the late public differences, otherwise than in execution of the judgments of the present representatives, or House of Commons.
4. That in all laws made, or to be made, every person may be bound alike, and that no tenure, estate, charter, degree, birth, or place, do confer any exemption from the ordinary course of legal proceedings, whereunto others are subjected.
5. That as the laws ought to be equal, so they must be good, and not evidently destructive to the safety and well-being of the people.
These things we declare to be our native rights, and therefore are agreed and resolved to maintain them with our utmost possibilities against all opposition whatsoever, being compelled thereunto not only by the examples of our ancestors, whose blood was often spent in vain for the recovery of their freedoms, suffering themselves, through fraudulent accommodations, to be still deluded of the fruit of their victories, but also by our own woeful experience, who, having long expected, and dearly earned, the establishment of these certain rules of government, are yet made to depend for the settlement of our peace and freedom upon him that intended our bondage and brought a cruel war upon us.
[Letter to the Free-born People of England]
For the noble and highly honoured the free-born people of England, in their respective counties and divisions, these.
Dear Countrymen, and Fellow Commoners,
For your sakes, our friends, estates, and lives have not been dear to us. For your safety and freedom we have cheerfully endured hard labours and run most desperate hazards, and in comparison to your peace and freedom we neither do, nor ever shall, value our dearest blood. And we profess, our bowels are and have been troubled, and our hearts pained within us, in seeing and considering that you have been so long bereaved of these fruits and ends of all our labours and hazards. We cannot but sympathize with you in your miseries and oppressions. * * * And therefore upon most serious considerations that your principal right, most essential to your well-being, is the clearness, certainty, sufficiency, and freedom of your power in your representatives in Parliament, and considering that the original of most of your oppressions and miseries hath been either from the obscurity and doubtfulness of the power you have committed to your representatives in your elections or from the want of courage in those whom you have betrusted to claim and exercise their power, which might probably proceed from their uncertainty of your assistance and maintenance of their power . . ., and further minding the only effectual means to settle a just and lasting peace, to obtain remedy for all your grievances, and to prevent future oppressions, is the making clear and secure the power that you betrust to your representatives in Parliament, that they may know their trust, in the faithful execution whereof you will assist them: upon all these grounds, we propound your joining with us in the Agreement herewith sent unto you; that by virtue thereof we may have Parliaments certainly called, and have the time of their sitting and ending certain, and their power or trust clear and unquestionable, that hereafter they may remove your burdens and secure your rights, without oppositions or obstructions, and that the foundations of your peace may be so free from uncertainty that there may be no grounds for future quarrels or contentions to occasion war and bloodshed. And we desire you would consider that, as these things wherein we offer to agree with you are the fruits and ends of the victories which God hath given us, so the settlement of these are the most absolute means to preserve you and your posterity from slavery, oppression, distraction, and trouble. By this, those whom yourselves shall choose shall have power to restore you to, and secure you in, all your rights; and they shall be in a capacity to taste of subjection as well as rule, and so shall be equally concerned with yourselves in all they do. For they must equally suffer with you under any common burdens, and partake with you in any freedoms; and by this they shall be disableda to defraud or wrong you when the laws shall bind all alike, without privilege or exemption. And by this your consciences shall be free from tyranny and oppression, and those occasions of endless strifes and bloody wars shall be perfectly removed without controversy. By your joining with us in this Agreement, all your particular and common grievances will be redressed forthwith without delay: the Parliament must then make your relief and common good their only study.
Now because we are earnestly desirous of the peace and good of all our countrymen, even of those that have opposed us, and would to our utmost possibility provide for perfect peace and freedom, and prevent all suits, debates, and contentions that may happen amongst you in relation to the late war; we have therefore inserted it into this Agreement that no person shall be questionable for anything done in relation to the late public differences, after the dissolution of this present Parliament, further than in execution of their judgment; that thereby all may be secure from all sufferings for what they have done, and not liable hereafter to be troubled or punished by the judgment of another Parliament, which may be to their ruin unless this Agreement be joined in, whereby any Acts of Indemnity or Oblivion shall be made unalterable, and you and your posterities be secure.
But if any shall inquire why we should desire to join in an Agreement with the people, to declare these to be our native rights, and not rather petition to the Parliament for them, the reason is evident. No Act of Parliament is, or can be, unalterable, and so cannot be sufficient security to save you or us harmless from what another Parliament may determine if it should be corrupted. And besides Parliaments are to receive the extent of their power and trust from those that betrust them, and therefore the people are to declare what their power and trust is; which is the intent of this Agreement. And it’s to be observed, that though there hath formerly been many Acts of Parliament for the calling of Parliaments every year, yet you have been deprived of them, and enslaved through want of them. And therefore both necessity for your security in these freedoms that are essential to your well-being, and woeful experience of the manifold miseries and distractions that have been lengthened out since the war ended, through want of such a settlement, requires this Agreement. And when you and we shall be joined together therein, we shall readily join with you to petition the Parliament, as they are our fellow Commoners equally concerned to join with us.
And if any shall inquire why we undertake to offer this Agreement, we must profess we are sensible that you have been so often deceived with Declarations and Remonstrances, and fed with vain hopes, that you have sufficient reason to abandon all confidence in any persons whatsoever from whom you have no other security of their intending your freedom than bare declaration. And therefore, as our consciences witness that in simplicity and integrity of heart we have proposed lately, in The Case of the Army Stated, your freedom and deliverance from slavery, oppression, and all burdens, so we desire to give you satisfying assurance thereof by this Agreement, whereby the foundations of your freedoms provided in The Case, &c., shall be settled unalterably. * * *
And though the malice of our enemies, and such as they delude, would blast us by scandals, aspersing us with designs of anarchy and community; yet we hope the righteous God will not only by this our present desire of settling an equal, just government, but also by directing us unto all righteous undertakings simply for public good, make our uprightness and faithfulness to the interest of all our countrymen shine forth so clearly that malice itself shall be silenced and confounded. We question not but the longing expectation of a firm peace will incite you to the most speedy joining in this Agreement: in the prosecution whereof, or of anything that you shall desire for public good, you may be confident you shall never want the assistance of
Your most faithful fellow Commoners, now in arms for your service. . . .
[Letter to the Officers and Soldiers]
For our much honoured and truly worthy fellow Commoners and soldiers, the officers and soldiers under command of his Excellency Sir Thomas Fairfax.
Gentlemen and Fellow Soldiers:
The deep sense of many dangers and mischiefs that may befall you in relation to the late war, whensoever this Parliament shall end, unless sufficient prevention be now provided, hath constrained us to study the most absolute and certain means for your security. And upon most serious considerations we judge that no Act of Indemnity can sufficiently provide for your quiet, ease, and safety, because, as it hath formerly been, a corrupt party (chosen into the next Parliament by your enemies’ means) may possibly surprise the House and make any Act of Indemnity null, seeing they cannot fail of the King’s assistance and concurrence in any such actings against you that conquered him.
And by the same means your freedom from impressing also may in a short time be taken from you, though for the present it should be granted. We apprehend no other security by which you shall be saved harmless for what you have done in the late war, than a mutual Agreement between the people and you, that no person shall be questioned by any authority whatsoever for anything done in relation to the late public differences, after the dissolution of the present House of Commons, further than in execution of their judgment, and that your native freedom from constraint to serve in war, whether domestic or foreign, shall never be subject to the power of Parliaments, or any other. And for this end we propound the Agreement that we herewith send to you, to be forthwith subscribed.
And because we are confident that in judgment and conscience ye hazarded your lives for the settlement of such a just and equal government that you and your posterities, and all the free-born people of this nation, might enjoy justice and freedom, and that you are really sensible that the distractions, oppressions, and miseries of the nation, and your want of your arrears, do proceed from the want of the establishment both of such certain rules of just government and foundations of peace as are the price of blood and the expected fruits of all the people’s cost; therefore in this Agreement we have inserted the certain rules of equal government under which the nation may enjoy all its rights and freedoms securely. And as we doubt not but your love to the freedom and lasting peace of the yet-distracted country will cause you to join together in this Agreement, so we question not but every true Englishman that loves the peace and freedom of England will concur with us. And then your arrears, and constant pay (while you continue in arms), will certainly be brought in, out of the abundant love of the people to you; and then shall the mouths of those be stopped that scandalize you and us as endeavouring anarchy, or to rule by the sword; and then will so firm a union be made between the people and you that neither any homebred or foreign enemies will dare to disturb our happy peace. * * *
Gentlemen: We desire you may understand the reason of our extracting some principles of common freedom out of those many things proposed to you in The Case Truly Stated, and drawing them up into the form of an Agreement. It’s chiefly because for these things we first engaged against the King. * * * Therefore these things, in the Agreement, the people are to claim as their native right and price of their blood, which you are obliged absolutely to procure for them. And these being the foundations of freedom, it is necessary that they should be settled unalterably, which can be by no means but this Agreement with the people.
And we cannot but mind you that the case of the people in all their grievances depends upon the settling those principles or rules of equal government for a free people. And were but this Agreement established, doubtless all the grievances of the Army and people would be redressed immediately, and all things propounded in your Case Truly Stated, to be insisted on, would be forthwith granted. * * *
We shall only add that the sum of all the Agreement which we herewith offer to you is but in order to the fulfilling of our Declaration of June 14, wherein we promised to the people that we would with our lives vindicate and clear their right and power in their Parliaments. * * *
Summary (with quotation) of the Reports of the Committee on the Army’s Papers and the Agreement of the Peoplea
[The eighteen reported present include: Cromwell, Ireton, Waller, Rich, Rainborough, Goffe, Chillenden, Sexby, Allen, and the Agent Walley. The terms of reference are stated]: To consider the papers of the Army, and the paper of the People’s Agreement, and to collect and prepare somewhat to be insisted upon and adhered unto for settling the kingdom, and to clear our proceedings hitherto. * * *
[I. Present Parliament to end ‘on the first day of September next ensuing’ (cf. Agreement).
II. (1) Biennial Parliament meeting ‘on the first Thursday in April every second year’ (cf. Agreement); but provision for the certainty thereof left to be settled before end of present Parliament, and Council of State to be allowed to alter place of sitting. (2) Each biennial Parliament to ‘sit until the last day of September next ensuing,’ and then ‘dissolve of course’ (cf. Agreement); but capable of being ‘adjourned or dissolved sooner by their own consent’ (cf. Heads). (3) Each biennial Parliament to appoint committees, and a Council of State (cf. Heads) on whose advice (4) the King may summon extra Parliaments (cf. Heads). (5) Representation to be made more equal (but no precise formula as in Heads, Agreement, or Case of the Army)]:
5. (i) That the election of members for the House of Commons in succeeding Parliaments shall be distributed to all counties, or other parts or divisions of the kingdom, according to some rule of equality of proportion, so as to render the House of Commons, as near as may be, an equal Representative of the whole body of the people that are to elect; and in order thereunto, that all obstructions to the freedom and equality of their choice, either by petitions or charters or other prerogative grants, be removed [cf. Case of the Army], and the circumstances of number, place, and manner for more equal distributions be set down by the Commons in this present Parliament before the end thereof; and what they shall order therein, as also what they or the Commons in succeeding Parliaments shall from time to time further order or set down for reducing the said elections to more and more perfection of equality in distribution thereof, freedom in the election, order and regularity in the proceeding thereof, and certainty in the returns, shall be laws in full force to those purposes [cf. Heads].
(ii) That the qualifications of the people that shall have voices in the elections, as also of those that shall be capable of being elected, be determined by the Commons in this present Parliament before the end thereof, so as to give as much enlargement to common freedom as may be, with a due regard had to the equitya and end of the present constitution in that point. Wherein we desire it may be provided that all free-born Englishmen, or persons made free denizens of England, who have served the Parliament in the late war for the liberties of the kingdom, and were in the service before the 14th of June 1645, or have voluntarily assisted the Parliament in the said war with money, plate, horse, or arms, lent upon the Parliament’s propositions for that purpose, brought in thereupon before the day of 1642, shall, upon such certificates thereof as by the Commons in this present Parliament shall be determined sufficient, or upon other sufficient evidence of the said service or assistance, be admitted to have voices in the said elections for the respective counties or divisions wherein they shall inhabit, although they should not in other respects be within the qualifications to be set down as aforesaid. As also that it be provided, that no person who, for delinquency in the late war or otherwise, hath forfeited or shall forfeit his said freedom, and is or shall be so adjudged by the Commons in Parliament, either by particular judgment or otherwise, or according to general rules or law for that purpose, whiles he standeth or shall stand so adjudged and not restored, shall be admitted to have any voice in the said elections or be capable of being elected. And for that purpose, that it be provided either by law or judgment in this present Parliament, that no person whatsoever who hath been in hostility against the Parliament in the late war shall be capable of having a voice or being elected in the said elections, or to vote or sit as a member or assistant in either House of Parliament, until the second biennial Parliament be past.
(iii) That no Peers made since the 21st day of May 1642, or hereafter to be made, shall be admitted or capable to sit or vote in Parliament without consent of both Houses [cf. Heads].
6. For clearing of the power of Parliament in future, and the interest of the people therein, resolved:
(i) That the power of this and all succeeding Representatives of the Commons in Parliament doth extend on the behalf, and as to the whole interest, of all the Commons of England to the enacting, altering, and repealing of laws, to the conclusive exposition and declaration of law, and to finalb judgment without further appeal, and generally to all things concerning the commonwealth, whatsoever is not by the represented reserved to themselves, as is hereafter expressed.a
(ii) That no law shall be repealed, nor any new law or ordinance made to bind the Commons of England, nor any parliamentary judgment, trial, order, or other proceeding valid against any Commoner, without the particular concurrence and consent of the House of Commons, except in case of actual violence or affront done by a Commoner to the House of Peers as a court, and in that case no further proceeding to be valid but by the House of Commons, saving to the securing or imprisoning of the offender’s person till he can be tried.
(iii) That no Commoner of England shall be exempt from, but shall be subject to, and concluded by, the power and judgment of the House of Commons, without further appeal, as also to and by all such orders, ordinances, and laws, or expositions and declarations of law, as shall be made, passed, and insisted on, by that House, except in such fundamental things as are by the people electing generally reserved to themselves, as is hereafter expressed.
(iv) That no person whatsoever being an officer of justice or minister of state shall be exempt from, but shall be accountable and subject to, the same power and judgment of the House of Commons for any maladministration of his place to the hurt or damage of the commonwealth; but the persons of Peers, otherwise than in such capacity as aforesaid, shall be tried and judged only by their peers.
(v) That no person whatsoever so adjudged by Parliament (as before) shall be capable of protection or pardon from the King, or to have their fines remitted, without the advice or consent of Parliament, nor such fines to be disposed of otherwise than [as] by the same judgment, advice, or consent shall be directed.
(vi) That in all elections of Representatives for the people these things following are by the people electing reserved to themselves, and so generally to be understood, to wit:
Matters of religion and the ways of God’s worship, as to any positive compulsion there, are not entrusted to any human power.
That the matter of impressing or constraining any free Commoner of England to serve in the wars, any further or otherwise than for the immediate defence of this kingdom and keeping the peace within it, is likewise reserved.
That no Commoner be henceforth questioned for anything said or done in reference to, or prosecution of, the late war or public contests within this kingdom, otherwise than by the judgment, or with the concurrence, of the present House of Commons, or in execution or prosecution of such judgment.
That the matter and effect of the preceding articles (to wit: first, concerning the certain succession of biennial Parliaments; then the second, concerning the certainty of their sitting; likewise the matter of the sixth, and the particulars under it concerning the clearing of the power of Parliaments in future as to the interest of the people therein; and so much of the intent of the fifth as concerns the equal distributing of future representatives) are reserved by the people represented as their fundamental rights not to be given away or abrogated by their representatives [cf. Agreement]. * * *
Proceedings in the General Council, 4th-9th Nov.
From A Letter from Several Agitators to their Regiments (11th Nov.)a
Gentlemen and Fellow Soldiers:
We esteem it our duty to render you an account of the present state of our affairs with us, and at the Headquarters. We have been consulting about the most speedy and effectual settlement of your and all the people’s freedoms, whereby the people may be disposed into a capacity and willingness to provide constant pay, and secure our arrears. We found by sad experience that there was no possibility of obtaining either so long as the settlement of the people’s freedoms was delayed, and therefore, as well in love and real respects to you and to our dear country, we were constrained to propound the foundations of freedom to be forthwith established by a mutual Agreement between the people and you. And though we dare aver that there is nothing contained in that Agreement, or in The Case of the Army Stated, which is propounded to be insisted on, but what is (at least) the equitable sense of our former Declarations and Remonstrances; yet we find many at the Headquarters obstructing and opposing our proceedings.
We sent some of them to debate in love the matters and manner of the Agreement. And the first article thereof, being long debated, it was concluded by vote in the affirmative: viz., That all soldiers and others, if they be not servants or beggars, ought to have voices in electing those which shall represent them in Parliament, although they have not forty shillings per annum in freehold land. And there were but three voices against this your native freedom. After this they would refer all to a committee. And the next General Council our friends obtained a general rendezvous, and a letter from the Council to clear the Army from any desire or intent of constraining the Parliament to send new propositions to the King (whereby your indemnity for fighting against the King should be begged of the King, and so the guilt of innocent blood taken upon your own heads, and your enemies should boast and insult over you, saying, you were forced to ask them to save you harmless). At the next meeting a Declaration was offered to the Council, wherein the King’s corrupt interest was so intermixed that in short time, if he should so come in, he would be in a capacity to destroy you and the people. (And assure yourselves, if any power be but in the least given to him, he will improve it to the utmost to enslave and ruin you that conquered him, and to advance your enemies to trample upon you.) Upon this we desired only a free debate on this question: Whether it were safe either for the Army or people to suffer any power to be given to the King? And Lieut[enant]-Gen[eral] Cromwell and the rest professed, as before God, they would freely debate it. And Monday last a General Council was appointed for that purpose, but when they met they wholly refused, and instead of that, spake very reproachfully of us and our actings, and declaimed against that which was passed, the Council before, concerning the voices of those in elections which have not forty shillings a year freehold; and against the letter sent by the Council to the Parliament. And the day before, Commissary-General Ireton withdrew and protested he would act no more with them unless they recalled that letter.
And to prevent any further debate they would have dissolved the Council for above a fortnight, and thus our hopes of agreeing together to settle your and the people’s freedoms were then frustrate. And though the chief of them had desired some of our friends, not above three days before, to go on in their actings, for they might come in when they should do us more service than at that time; yet there they made great outcries against us and complaints of distempers in the Army, which were nothing but endeavours after their rights and freedoms.
The next day they still waived and refused the free debate of the aforesaid question, and dissolved the Council for above a fortnight, and for a time resolved they would only prepare some fair propositions to the Army about arrears and pay, and sent to the Parliament for a month’s pay against a rendezvous. But they declared they would divide the Army into three parts, to rendezvous severally. And all this appears to be only to draw off the Army from joining together to settle those clear foundations of freedom propounded to you, and to procure your rights as you are soldiers, effectually.
Thus you may observe the strange inconstancy of those that would obstruct our way, and the great matter wherein the difference lies, and the candidness of our actings. But we hope it will be no discouragement to you, though your officers—yea, the greatest officers—should oppose you. It is well known that the great officers which now opposed did as much oppose secretly when we refused to disband according to the Parliament’s order; and at last they confessed the providence of God was the more wonderful because those resolutions to stand for freedom and justice began amongst the soldiers only. And yet now they would affright you from such actings by telling you it is disobedience to the General’s command, and distempers, and mutinies. These were the words of that faction in Parliament which opposed you before. And you may consider that you had done as much service for the people by disobedience to the Parliament as ever you did by obedience, if you had fulfilled your Declarations and Engagements which you then passed.
As for the month’s pay, if it come you may consider it is but your due; and yet we believe none had been procured for you unless we had thus appeared. And if any declarations or propositions about pay or arrears be offered to you, remember you have been fed with paper too long. We desire that there may be a general rendezvous, and no parting each from other till we be fully assured we shall not return to burden the country by free-quarter, and till our arrears be actually secured, and the foundations of our freedom, peace and security in the Agreement established; and likewise, until a sure way be settled for calling committees, sequestrators, and Parliament-men, to account for the country’s money, that so the country may know we intend their good and freedom. We know some fair overtures will be made to you about pay, arrears, seeming freedom and security; but we hope, as you formerly rejected such overtures from the Parliament, knowing that without a settlement of freedom no constant pay or arrears will be provided—so now we are confident you will not be deceived, and hope you are all resolved for a general rendezvous, that we may all agree together in fulfilling our Declarations and Engagements to the people, that so we may not become the objects of scorn and hatred. * * *
From Clarke MSS.a
[At the General Council] Putney, 8 November, 1647.
Cromwell spoke much to express the danger of their principles who had sought to divide the Army. That the first particular of that which they called the Agreement of the People did tend very much to anarchy, that all those who are in the kingdom should have a voice in electing Representatives.
Capt. [William] Bray made a long speech to take off what the Lieut[enant]-General said, and that what he called anarchy was for propriety.
Cromwell moved to put it to the question: Whether that the Officers and Agitators be sent to their quarters, yea, or no?
Resolved upon the question: that the General Council doth humbly advise his Excellency, that (in regard the General shortly intends a rendezvous of the Army, and forasmuch as many distempers are reported to be in the several regiments, whereby much dissatisfaction is given both to the Parliament and kingdom through some misrepresentations) to the end a right understanding may be had, and the soldiers quieted, in order to their obedience to his Excellency for the service of the Parliament and kingdom, it is thought fit to desire his Excellency that for a time the said Officers and Agitators resort to their several commands and regiments, to the ends aforesaid, there to reside until the said rendezvous be over, and until his Excellency shall see cause to call them together again according to the Engagement. * * *
[A Committee of eighteen was named, including Cromwell, Ireton, Cowling, Waller, Tichborne, Hewson, Rich, Tomlinson, Goffe, and the Agitators Allen and Lockyer.] This Committee to draw up instructions for what shall be offered to the regiments at the rendezvous, to consider of the later letter sent to the Parliament, and what shall be thought fit further to be proposed to them. * * *
[At the General Council] Putney, 9 November, 1647.
The General present. This Committee is to take into consideration the Engagement, Declarations, and papers of the Army, and upon them to collect a summary of those things that concern the good of the kingdom, the liberties of the people, and interests of the Army, and further to consider The Case of the Army Stated, and a paper commonly called the Agreement of the People, and to consider how far any thing contained in the same are consistent with the said Engagements and Declarations and interests aforesaid. This summary so concluded by the major part of the Committee to be represented to the General. * * * [A Committee of twenty-three is named, including Cromwell, Ireton, Cowling, Waller, Tichborne, Rich, Tomlinson, Goffe, Chillenden, and John Wildman; later eight more added, including Harrison and Rainborough. A note of its adjournment ‘till Thursday come fortnight, at the Headquarters.’]
[Resolution:] If any by that letter bearing date 5th of November do make any construction as if we intended that we were against the Parliament’s sending propositions to the King, we do hereby declare that it was no part of our intentions in the said letter, but that the same is utterly a mistake of our intention and meaning therein, our intentions being only to assert the freedom of Parliament.
DOCUMENTS RELATING TO THE WHITEHALL DEBATES
Petition of 11th September 1648:
see pp. 338-42.
From A Remonstrance of Fairfax and the Council of Officers
(16th November 1648)a
To the Right Honourable the Commons of England Assembled in Parliament. * * *
We are not ignorant that that rule of Salus populi suprema lex is of all others most apt to be abused or misapplied, and yet none more surely true. It is too ordinary (especially of late times) for men who, either from intentions of evil or inordinate temper of spirit, would break those bonds of law and magistracy which they find to restrain them, to frame pretences of public danger and extremity thereof, and from thence immediately to assume a liberty to break, or else neglect and fly above, the due bounds of order and government, and stir up others to the same, pleading privilege from that vast large rule of Salus populi, &c. From such misapplications whereof, great disturbances do oft arise and confusion is endangered; and yet we know the same may be justly pretended and followed, and that, where it is from honest public intentions and upon clear grounds, with very happy effects. We have seen in this our age several instances in both kinds, and the hand of God bearing testimony, and giving judgment for some, and yet against others where the pretensions have been the same, or so like as it was hard for human judgment to distinguish. * * * Neither wants there ground for men to make some judgment therein. For certainly he that engageth upon such pretences really for public ends, and but upon public necessity or extremity, and with a sober spirit, . . . will both try first all honest ways possible . . . whereby he may accomplish them and avoid the danger (if possible) with due regard to, and by concurrenceb with, orc preservation of, the magistracy and government un[der] which God hath set him, before he will fly to ways of extremity; neither will he (when engaged therein) proceed further or longer in that way against or without the magistracy than that first necessity, or some other emergent upon the proceeding, does justly lead, and the security of the ends require: not driving that pretence of necessity further to serve or advantage himself or perpetuate those ways of extremity, but, when the necessity or danger is over and the public ends secured, will return to magistracy and order again, and meanwhile so act in all as carefully to avoid both injury to the innocent and offence to the weak, and as subjecting . . . all to an indifferent and equal judgment. . . .
For our parts, both prudential considerations and the experience we have of the danger that is in the least breaking or letting loose or entangling the reins of order and government upon such pretences, makes us most tender of it, as that which is never otherwise to be used or admitted than as a desperate cure in a desperate case, and at the utmost peril as well of them that use it as of those for whom. And the experiences we have seen of God’s righteous judgments in such cases, as it makes us not apt without trembling and fear to think of such proceedings, so much the more strict to observe all the aforesaid cautions concerning them, and yet where just occasion and a real public necessity calls thereunto, not to fear such appeals to God for any outward difficulties or dangers appearing to ourselves therein. But both from divine and human considerations, as we do and ever shall avoid the occasions by all means possible (even to utmost extremity), and do pray and hope we may never come to it: so, if ever such extremity do happen to us, we hope (through the grace of God) we shall be careful and enabled, both in the engaging and proceeding therein, so to act as before the Lord, and to approve ourselves both to God and good men, and as submitting to the judgment of both. And therefore though we are full of sad apprehensions of present dangers to the public interest, and the extremity even at hand, yet we shall first in all humbleness and soberness of mind, and with all clearness (as God shall enable us), remonstrate to you our apprehensions both of the dangers at hand and of the remedies, with our grounds in both. * * *
[After urging Parliament to adhere to its own resolution of no further addresses to the King and descanting on his untrustworthy character, the document proceeds to prove that the ends for which the struggle was undertaken cannot be guaranteed by treaty with the King.]
The sum of the public interest of a nation in relation to common right and freedom (which has been the chief subject of our contest), and in opposition to tyranny and injustice of kings or others, we take to lie in these things following:
1. That for all matters of supreme trust or concernment to the safety and welfare of the whole, they have a common and supreme council of Parliament; and that (as to the common behalf, who cannot all meet together themselves) to consist of deputies or representers freely chosen by them, with as much equality as may be, and those elections to be successive and renewed, either at times certain and stated, or at the call of some subordinate standing officer or council entrusted by them for that purpose, in the intervals of the supreme, or else at both.
2. That the power of making laws, constitutions, and offices, for the preservation and government of the whole, and of altering or repealing and abolishing the same, for the removal of any public grievance therein, and the power of final judgment concerning war or peace, the safety and welfare of the people, and all civil things whatsoever, without further appeal to any created standing power, and the supreme trust in relation to all such things, may rest in that supreme council; so as:
(i) That the ordinary ordering and government of the people may be by such offices and administrations, and according to such laws and rules, as by that council, or the representative body of the people therein, have been prescribed or allowed, and not otherwise.
(ii) That none of those extraordinary or arbitrary powers aforementioned may be exercised towards the people by any as of right, but by that supreme council, or the representative body of the people therein; nor without their advice and consent may anything be imposed upon, or taken from, the people; or if it be otherwise attempted by any, that the people be not bound thereby but free, and the attempters punishable.
(iii) That those extraordinary powers, or any of them, may be exercised by that supreme council, or by the representative body of the people therein, and where they shall see cause to assume and exercise the same in a matter which they find necessary for the safety or well-being of the people, their proceedings and determinations therein may be binding and conclusive to the people and to all officers of justice and ministers of state whatsoever; and that it may not be left in the will of the King or any particular persons (standing in their own interest) to oppose, make void, or render ineffectual such their determinations or proceedings; and especially, since the having of good constitutions, and making of good laws, were of little security or null, without power to punish those that break, or go about to overthrow them. . . , that therefore the same council or representative body therein, having the supreme trust, may in all such cases where the offence or default is in public officers abusing or failing their trust, or in any person whatsoever if the offence extend to the prejudice of the public, may call such offenders to account and distribute punishments to them, either according to the law, where it has provided, or their own judgment, where it has not and they find the offence, though not particularly provided against by particular laws, yet against the general law of reason or nations, and the vindication of public interest to require justice; and that in such case no person whatsoever may be exempt from such account or punishment, or have power to protect others from their judgment, or (without their consent) to pardon whom they have judged. * * *
But . . . the matters aforementioned being the main parts of public interest originally contended for on your parts, and theirs that engaged with you, and thus opposed by the King for the interest of his will and power, many other more particular or special interests have occasionally fallen into the contest on each part.a As first on the Parliament’s part, to protect and countenance religious men and godliness in the power of it, to give freedom and enlargement to the Gospel for the increasing and spreading of light amongst men, to take away those corrupted forms of an outside religion and church-government, whether imposed without law, or rooted in the law in times of popish ignorance or idolatry, or of the Gospel’s dimmer light, by means whereof snares and chains were laid upon conscientious and zealous men, and the generality of people held in darkness, superstition, and a blind reverence of persons and outward things, fit for popery and slavery; and also to take away or loosen that dependence of the clergy and ecclesiastical affairs upon the King, and that interest of the clergy in the laws and civil affairs, which the craft of both in length of time had wrought for each other. Which several things were the proper subject of the reformation endeavoured by the Parliament. Contrariwise, on the King’s part the interest was to discountenance and suppress the power of godliness, or anything of conscience obliging above or against human and outward constitutions; to restrain or lessen the preaching of the Gospel and growth of light amongst men, to hold the community of men, as much as might be, in a darksome ignorance and superstition or formality in religion, with only an awful reverence of persons, offices, and outward dispensations, rendering them fit subjects for ecclesiastical and civil tyranny; and for these ends to advance and set up further forms of superstition, or at least hold fast the old which had any foundation in the laws, whereby chains and fetters might be held upon, and advantages taken against, such in whom a zeal or conscience to anything above man should break forth, and to uphold and maintain the dependence of the clergy and church-matters upon the King, and greatness of the clergy under him, and in all these things to oppose the reformation endeavoured by the Parliament. Also on the Parliament’s part, their interest, as well as duty, was to discountenance irreligion, profaneness, debauchery, vanity, ambition, and time-serving, and to prefer such especially as were otherwise given, viz., conscientious, strict in manners, sober, serious, and of plain and public spirits. Contrary to these, on the King’s part it was to countenance or connive at profaneness, looseness of manners, vanity and luxury of life, and prefer especially such as had a mixture of ambition and vainglory with a servile spirit, rendering them fit to serve another’s power and greatness for the enjoying of some share therein to themselves; in all or most of which respects it has been the great happiness and advantage to [the] Parliamentary and public interest that it hath been made one (very much) with the interest of the godly, or (for the name whereof it has been so much derided) the Saints; as on the other side, the King’s, one with their greatest opposites, by occasion whereof God hath been doubly engaged in the cause, viz., for that, and for the righteousness of it. And to this indeed, through the favour and presence of God therewith, the Parliament hath cause to own and refer the blessing and success that hath accompanied their affairs. Which, accordingly as they have held square and been kept close to this, have prospered gloriously, and wherein or so oft as this hath been thwarted, swerved from, or neglected in their manage, have suffered miserable blastings. * * *
Now if yet any shall object the Covenant as perpetually obliging to endeavour the preservation of the King’s person and authority, and consequently not allowing any such way of security against him as would be to the hurt of his person or prejudice of his authority, and so concluding us under a necessity of perpetual addresses to him for security until he give it, as being the only way consistent with the preservation of his person and authority, to this we answer: that indeed the Covenant, heaping together several distinct interests (which are or possibly may come to be inconsistent, or one destructive to the other, or at least may be so made use of) and yet engaging positively for them all, without expressing clearly and unquestionably which is chief and perpetual, and . . . how far, and upon what conditions the covenanter shall be obliged to them, and what shall disoblige him, we find it is (as other promissory oaths of that kind) apt to be made a very snare, serving to draw in many of several judgments and affections, each in respect to that interest therein engaged for, which himself does most affect. And so those that make least conscience of the oath, make but an advantage of it upon all occasions to cry up that interest which themselves prefer (though to the destruction or prejudice of the rest, yea, of that which is really the main and best), while those that make most conscience of the oath, and affect the principal and honestest part in it, are oft withheld from what’s just and necessary in relation thereunto, being staggered in regard of the prejudice it may be to the rest, to which jointly they seem obliged. But this Covenant as it is drawn, though it have something of that ensnaring nature, yet as to this point has not left the takers without an honest way out. Or if it had, yet through the providence of God the snare is broken and they may escape.
For the Covenant engaging to the matters of religion and public interests primarily and absolutely (without any limitation), and after that to the preservation of the King’s person and authority, but with this restriction, . . . in the preservation of the true religion and liberties of the kingdoms; in this case, though a caviller might make it a question, yet who will not rationally resolve it, that the preceding matters of religion and the public interest are to be understood as the principal and supreme matters engaged for, and that of the King’s person and authority as inferior and subordinate to the other? * * *
Yea, might it not justly be so understood, that the obligation to preserve his person and authority should be fulfilled in (as well as not extended further than) the preservation of religion and liberties? * * * Or if it might be so understood [as protecting the King’s person and authority, and those of persons acting on his commission], doth it not call for explanation to clear it from being understood in so wicked a sense? Yea, if it did by the advantage of words extend to such a sense past explanation, and if so (through error in consideration, or deceit in the framing of it, or through flattery, evil custom, or unbelief and carnal policy in the passing of it) you had literally engaged yourselves, and drawn in others to be engaged, unto so wicked and mischievous a thing; did it not call for repentance when you find such wickedness in it? And rather than unnecessarily to continue yourselves, and hold others, under but a colour of obligation to a thing so evil, so full of prejudice and danger unto, and so inconsistent with the security of, so many other unquestionably good things to which in the same Covenant, as well as by immutable duty, you stand obliged, would it not call for your utmost consideration and endeavour (so far as Providence has left you any occasion, without sin or wrong) to extricate and clear yourselves and others from such a snare? * * *
Whatever, or how expressly soever, the Covenant may seem to have engaged unto . . . anything in the King’s behalf, or to his only benefit, yet, as God ordered the business, it does not now oblige you at all before God or man in that matter. For first (considering it only as a covenant betwixt man and man, as for the civil parts of it), where . . . several persons joining to make a mutual covenant or agreement, do therefore covenant for some things to the good and union of themselves amongst themselves who are present and parties to it, and withal do make a covenanting clause therein for something else to the good or benefit of another person not present nor party to the agreement, . . . to the end he might join with them in the agreement, and partake the benefit thereof as well as themselves—we say, in such case, if the absent party, as he never required it, so (when ’tis tendered to him for his conjunction) shall not accept the agreement, but refuse to join in it, and (conceiving his interest prejudiced thereby) shall oppose it, and . . . multiply contests with all the covenanters about the matters contained in it; surely that person in so doing, as he keeps him free and no way obliged thereby as to what concerns the rest . . . so he excludes himself from any claim to any benefit therefrom at their hands as to what concerns himself. * * *
Secondly, considering it as an oath, the form of an oath, added to that of a covenant, makes it no other than a covenant still, but taken as in the presence of God, and only adds the calling of God to witness as to the truth of your intentions and faithfulness of your endeavours to perform what it as a covenant obligeth unto; and . . . how far it, in the nature of a covenant, as to any particular matter obligeth, so far, and no further or otherwise, doth that calling of God to witness engage him the more to avenge any falsehood in your intentions, or unfaithfulness in your endeavours to perform it. And this is all the enforcement which that form of an oath addeth to that of a covenant, without obliging to any further matter, or for any longer or more absolute continuance than it as a covenant doth oblige; and therefore wherein, and upon what supposition soever, the obligation ceaseth as a covenant, that enforcement also ceaseth as an oath; so that if as a covenant it oblige not to his benefit upon supposal of his refusal or opposal, upon the same it enforceth nought to his benefit as an oath.
Having thus endeavoured to remonstrate the danger and evil of the way you are in, and cleared the way unto what we have to propose, we shall with the same plainness and faithfulness give you our apprehensions of the remedies. . . . First, we conceive and hope that from what hath before been said, you may find abundant cause to forbear any further proceeding in this evil and most dangerous treaty, and to return to your former grounds in the votes of non-addresses, and thereupon proceed to the settling and securing of the kingdom without, and against, the King, upon such foundations as hereafter are tendered; but if, notwithstanding all the evils and dangers remonstrated to lie even in the treaty itself, you will yet proceed in such an evil way, we shall at least desire that you make sure to avoid that main venom and mischief attending it, viz., the King’s restitution with impunity, &c., and that imperfect bargaining for partial justice against inferior offenders. * * *
[The Remonstrance proceeds to demand ‘exemplary justice . . . in capital punishment upon the principal author and some prime instruments of our late wars, and thereby the blood thereof expiated, and others deterred from future attempts of the like in either capacity’; then to propound the terms on which the Prince and Duke of York may be admitted to offices of government, and other delinquents admitted to composition, &c., and finally to suggest the disposal of the royal revenues ‘for a good number of years while the desolation and spoils of the poor people . . . may be in good measure repaired or recovered,’ and, as a first charge, ‘the satisfaction of arrears to the soldiery,’ and reparation of losses especially of those who voluntarily engaged for, and have constantly adhered to, the common cause.’]
Now . . . we proceed in order to the general satisfaction and settling of the kingdom as followeth:
I. That you would set some reasonable and certain period to your own power, by which time that great and supreme trust reposed in you shall be returned into the hands of the people, from and for whom you received it; that so you may give them satisfaction and assurance that what you have contended for against the King (for which they have been put to so much trouble, cost, and loss of blood) hath been only for their liberties and common interest, and not for your own personal interest or power.
II. That (with a period to this Parliament, to be assigned as short as may be with safety to the kingdom and public interest thereof) there may be a sound settlement of the peace and future government of the kingdom, upon grounds of common right, freedom, and safety, to the effect here following:
III. That from the end of this, there may be a certain succession of future Parliaments (annual or biennial) with secure provision:
1. For the certainty of their meeting, sitting, and ending.
2. For the equal distribution of elections thereunto, to render the House of Commons, as near as may be, an equal Representative of the whole people electing.
3. For the certainty of the people’s meeting (according to such distributions) to elect, and for their full freedom in elections: provided that none who have engaged, or shall engage, in war against the right of Parliament, and interest of the kingdom therein, or have adhered to the enemies thereof, may be capable of electing or being elected at least during a competent number of years; nor any other who shall oppose, or not join in agreement to, this settlement.
4. For future clearing and ascertaining the power of the said Representatives: in order to which, that it be declared that (as to the whole interest of the people of England) such Representatives have, and shall have the supreme power and trust as to the making of laws, constitutions and offices, for the ordering, preservation, and government of the whole, and as to the altering and repealing or abolishing of the same, [as to] the making of war or peace, and as to the highest and final judgment in all civil things, without further appeal to any created standing power; and that all the people of this nation, and all officers of justice and ministers of state, as such, shall in all such things be accountable and subject thereunto, and bound and concluded thereby, provided that:
(i) They may not censure or question any man, after the end of this Parliament, for anything said or done in reference to the late wars or public differences, saving in execution of such determinations of this Parliament as shall be left in force at the ending thereof, in relation to such as have served the king against the Parliament.
(ii) They may not render up, or give or take away, any the foundations of common right, liberty or safety contained in this settlement and agreement. But that the power of these two things (last mentioned) shall be always understood to be reserved from, and not entrusted to, the said Representatives.
[5.] For liberty of entering dissents in the said Representatives: that, in case of corruption or abuse in these matters of highest trust, the people may be in capacity to know who are free thereof, and who guilty, to the end only they may avoid the further trusting of such, but without further penalty to any for their free judgments there.
[6.] That no King be hereafter admitted but upon the election of, and as upon trust from, the people by such their Representatives, nor without first disclaiming and disavowing all pretence to a negative voice against the determinations of the said Representatives, or Commons in Parliament; and that to be done in some certain form, more clear than heretofore in the coronation oath.
These matters of general settlement (viz., that concerning a period to this Parliament, and the other particulars thence following hitherto), we propound to be declared and provided by this Parliament, or by the authority of the Commons therein, and to be further established by a general contract or agreement of the people, with their subscriptions thereunto, and that withal it may be provided, that none may be capable of any benefit by the agreement, who shall not consent and subscribe thereunto; nor any King be admitted to the crown, or other person to any office or place of public trust, without express accord and subscription to the same. * * *
We shall therefore earnestly desire that these things may be minded and prosecuted effectually, and that nothing may interrupt them, save what shall be for immediate and necessary safety. And that (to avoid interruptions from such things as are not necessary, or less proper for parliamentary consideration or debates) you would leave all private matters and things of ordinary justice and right to the laws and present proper officers and administrations thereof until better can be provided, and commit all ordinary matters of state to the manage of a fit Council of State (sufficiently empowered for that purpose, and assisted with the addition of some merchants in relation to the balancing, security, and advance of trade), so as you may be the more free for the present to attenda those aforesaid considerations of public justice, and the settlement of the kingdom upon just and safe foundations of public interest, and that, when you have effectuated them or put them into a way of effect, you may (for the after-time of this Parliament’s continuance) more entirely apply your counsels to such other things as are the most proper work of Parliaments, and by and for which Parliaments have had their esteem in this nation, and the kingdom most benefit by them, viz.: the reformation of evils or inconveniences in the present laws and administrations thereof, the redress of abuses, and supplying of defects therein, and the making of better constitutions for the well-government and prosperity of the nation, as also the due proportioning of rates, and providing of money in the most equal and least grievous ways for all necessary uses of the public, and the like. And, in order to such things, that you would in due time and place (viz., after public justice, and the general settlement) consider such special overtures of that kind as have been tendered to you in the petitions of well-wishers to public good, and particularly in that Large Petition from many about London, dated the eleventh of September last, and also what shall be tendered of like kind from others, that so what is really for the remedy of common grievances, or the advancement of common good, may not be slighted or neglected, but that evils in that kind being removed, and good things ordained and provided by you for the ease, benefit, and prosperity of the people in all things possible, you may (when you come to lay down your trust) leave a good savour behind you, both to the name of Parliaments and also of men professing godliness so much as this House hath done, and therein chiefly to the honour of Almighty God, who hath in his rich grace and mercy done such wonders for you and us. And for furtherance to all these ends (since the heart of man is deceitful, and corrupt above all things, and most apt to answerable counsels and actings where it can hope to walk in the dark, undiscerned or undistinguished, though but to the eye of man), we must again desire that even from henceforth the aforesaid liberty of entering dissents, as it is in the Scotch Parliament (where lately there hath appeared a most useful effect of it), so also may be admitted amongst you, or at least that in these transactions of such high moment to the public and all honest interests, and in times so apt to deceit, defection, and apostasy, that liberty may be taken by all honest faithful members that desire to appear, as their hearts to God, so their ways to good men. Yet still we wish not, whoever should by that means be detected for corrupt counsels, that for his judgment there, any advantage should be taken withoutdoors, but only that men may avoid the further trusting of such persons, and that the innocent may not be unjustly prejudiced or suspected. * * *
And now to conclude, we hope that, in an age of so much light, mere will or resolution will not be held forth or pursued against it; but that what reason or righteousness there is in the things we have said, will be considered and followed. Nor let it find prejudice with you from any disdain towards those from whom it comes, being in the condition of an army, looked upon as servants under you, since servants may speak to their masters, and ought to be heard and regarded even when they speak for their own right only, and rather when they speak for the good and safety of them they serve, but much more when they speak of that wherein they have some joint interest with them; and yet more when (those their immediate masters being themselves also servants and trustees for the benefit of others) they speak for the interest of those for whom both are employed.
History of the Second Agreement of the People:
see pp. 342-55.
From the Declaration of the Army, on the March to London, 30th November 1648a
And as the incompetency of this Parliament, in its present constitution, to give an absolute and conclusive judgment for the whole (especially to be the sole judges of their own performance or breach of trust) doth make the juster way for such an appeal, so indeed we see no other way left for remedy, in regard the present unlimited continuance of this Parliament doth exclude the orderly succession of any other more equal formal judicature of men, to which we might hope in due time other ways to appeal. Thus then we apprehend ourselves in the present case, both necessitated to, and justified in, an appeal from this Parliament, in the present constitution as it stands, unto the extraordinary judgment of God and good people. And yet in the prosecution of this appeal, as we shall drive it on but to the speedy obtaining of a more orderly and equal judicature of men in a just Representative, according to our Remonstrance, . . . so in the present procuring of justice, with the people’s ease and quiet, and in the settling of the kingdom upon a due, safe, and hopeful succession of Parliaments, it is our heart’s desire, and shall be our endeavour, that so much both of the matter and form of the present parliamentary authority may be preserved, as can be safe, or will be useful to these ends, until a just and full constitution thereof, both for matter and form (suitable to the public ends it serves for) can be introduced.
And therefore, first, it should be our great rejoicing (if God saw it good), that the majority of the present House of Commons were become sensible of the evil and destructiveness of their late way, and would resolvedly and vigorously apply themselves to the speedy execution of justice, with the righting and easing of the oppressed people, and to a just and safe settlement of the kingdom upon such foundations as have been propounded by us and others for that purpose, and would, for the speedier and surer prosecution of these things, exclude from communication in their counsels all such corrupt and apostatized members as have appeared hitherto but to obstruct and hinder such matter of justice, safety, and public interest, and to pervert their counsels a contrary way, and have therein so shamefully both falsified and forfeited their trust.
But however, if God shall not see it good to vouchsafe that mercy to them and the kingdom, we shall, secondly, desire that so many of them as God hath kept upright, and shall touch with a just sense of those things, would by protestation or otherwise acquit themselves from such breach of trust, and approve their faithfulness by withdrawing from those that persist in the guilt thereof, and would apply themselves to such a posture whereby they may speedily and effectually prosecute those necessary and public ends. . . . And for so many of them, whose hearts God shall stir up thus to do, we shall therein, in this case of extremity, look upon them as persons having materially the chief trust of the kingdom remaining in them, and though not a formal standing power to be continued in them, or drawn into ordinary precedents, yet the best and most rightful that can be had as the present state and exigence of affairs now stand. And we shall, accordingly, own them, adhere to them, and be guided by them in their faithful prosecution of that trust, in order unto, and until, the introducing of a more full and formal power in a just Representative to be speed[il]y endeavoured.
Now yet further to take away all jealousies in relation to ourselves, which might withhold ora discourage any honest members from this course:b as we have the witness of God in our hearts that in these proceedings we do not seek, but even resolve we will not take, advantages to ourselves either in point of profit or power, and that if God did open unto us a way wherein with honesty and faithfulness to the public interest and good people engaged for us, we might presently be discharged, so as we might not in our present employments look on, and be accessory to, yea, supporters of, the Parliament, in the present corrupt, oppressive, and destructive proceedings, we should with rejoicing, and without more ado, embrace such a discharge rather than interpose in these things to our own vast trouble and hazard. So, if we could but obtain a rational assurance for the effectual prosecution of these things, we shall give any proportionable assurance on our parts concerning our laying down of arms, when, and as, we should be required. But for the present, as the case stands, we apprehend ourselves obliged in duty to God, this kingdom, and good men therein, to improve our utmost abilities in all honest ways for the avoiding of these great evils we have remonstrated, and for prosecution of the good things we have propounded; and also that such persons who were the inviters of the late invasion from Scotland, the instigators and encouragers of the late insurrections within this kingdom, and (those forcible ways failing) have still pursued the same wicked designs by treacherous and corrupt counsels, may be brought to public justice, according to their several demerits. For all these ends we are now drawing up with the Army to London, there to follow Providence as God shall clear our way.
Text of the Second Agreement of the People:
see pp. 355-67.
Summary of the Debates on the Agreement, in the Council of Officers, 16th December-6th January; and of the Examination of Elizabeth Poole on 29th December and 5th January.a
December 16: Agreement VII 2 (p. 362). Question: ‘Whether we shall present in this Agreement any reserve from the power of the Representative in point of impressing men for the war?’ (Resolved in affirmative.) Question: ‘Whether there shall be a reserve from the Representative to impress for foreign service?’ (Resolved in affirmative; Hewson and Scoutmaster Roe dissenting.) Clause phrased as in Agreement presented to Parliament (VIII 2: p. 362, n. 29), but without the words: ‘and may take order for the employing and conducting of them for those ends.’
December 18: Agreement VII 3-6 (pp. 362-3). Third Reserve was passed as in Agreement presented to Parliament (VIII 3: p. 362, n. 30). Fourth Reserve was ‘laid aside.’ Fifth was ‘suspended as not proper to the place.’ Question: ‘Whether the Sixth Reserve (p. 363) shall be waived or not?’ (Resolved in negative, 18 : 16.)
December 21: Agreement VII; VII 1. ‘An expedient upon the First Reserve, concerning Religion, brought in and debated.’Question: ‘Whether the particulars now debated shall be referred or no?’ (Resolved in negative.) ‘All but officers to go forth.’ Question: ‘Whether the word moral shall be in the paper now read or no?’ (Resolved in negative, 27: 17.) Phrased practically as in Agreement presented to Parliament, VIII (p. 361, n. 25), but lacks emphatic phrase, ‘but not concerning things spiritual and evangelical,’ and the six particulars reserved in ‘things natural and civil.’ Question: ‘Whether under this general article of the power of your Representatives now agreed on, there shall be any reserve subjoined concerning religion?’ (Resolved in negative, 37 : 12; it is later transferred to separate article, IX.)
December 26: Agreement VII 6 (p. 363): ‘The Sixth Reserve . . . read and debated. Afterwards read thus (as an expedient): That the said Representatives may not exercise the power of immediate judgment in particular questions of right and wrong between one person and another. Nor may they give immediate judgment upon any man’s person or estate for any offence which does not extend immediately to the hurt or damage of the public. Nor for any such offence may they proceed to the taking away of life or limb, unless before the fact done it were so provided against by express law then in force. Nor may they inflict or award other punishment for such an offence not so provided against beforehand, save where it is clearly against the general law of human society and where the vindication or securing of the public interest does require such justice.’ First Question: ‘Whether the Sixth Reserve shall pass as it now stands or no?’ (Unanimously resolved in negative.) Last part of VII 6 read (p. 363): ‘That the Representative may not give judgment upon any man’s person or estate where no law hath been before provided, save only in calling to account and punishing public officers failing in their trust.’ Second Question: ‘Whether this clause now read shall be put to the question as part of the reserve or no?’ (Resolved in affirmative, 22 : 15.) Third Question: ‘Whether this clause now read shall pass as of the reserve as it is?’ (Resolved in affirmative, 25 : 13.)
December 29: Agreement VII 5, 7, 8; VIII, IX, VII 5 (pp. 362-3). The Seventh Reserve read and passed unanimously (becoming VII). The Eighth Reserve read and passed unanimously (becoming VIII 6, and later receiving as an addition the provision for entering dissents, p. 363, n. 36). The Eighth Article read and altered practically to the form in Agreement as presented to Parliament, VI. The Ninth Article read and altered practically to the form in VIII 3. The Tenth Article read and altered to the form in first part of X (p. 363, nn. 42-3). The Fifth Reserve (formerly waived) read. Question: ‘Whether this shall pass as a reserve or no?’ (Resolved in the negative.) The [preamble?] of the Agreement read. Committee of ten officers named, including Ireton, Harrison, Rich, and Waller, ‘to consider of a form of conclusion and subscription to this Agreement as to the officers of the Army.’
In strange contrast with these debates on the constitution are two fully recorded examinations of Elizabeth Poole, on 29th December and 5th January. These are also reported in: A Vision wherein is Manifested the Disease and Cure of the Kingdom, being the sum of what was delivered to the General Council of the Army, Decemb. 29, 1648. Together with a true copy of what was delivered in writing (the fifth of the present January) to the said General Council, of divine pleasure concerning the King, in reference to his being brought to trial, what they are therein to do and what not, both concerning his office and person. By E. Poole, herein a servant to the Most High God.
The vision was of a ‘woman . . . full of imperfection, crooked, weak, sickly, imperfect,’ and a man, ‘a member of the Army,’ devoted to ‘his country, to its liberty and freedom, which he should gladly be a sacrifice for.’ The man (the Army) was to effect the recovery of the woman (the kingdom): ‘ . . . he should, before the Lord, act diligently and faithfully to employ all means which I should by the gift of God [in me] direct for her cure.’ All depended on ‘that Spirit of Eternal Power which had called me to believe and him to act; neither was he to be slack in action, nor I to be staggered in believing.’ God had manifested his presence with the Army, and they must ‘go forward and stand up for the liberty of the people as it was their liberty and God had opened the way to them.’ But they must deny themselves; for ‘ . . . perfectly dying in the will of the Lord, you may find your resurrection in him.’Rich highly approved this doctrine: ‘I cannot but give you that impression that is upon my spirit in conjunction with that testimony which God hath manifested here by an unexpected providence. * * * The truth is: . . . [there are] many things in which we are to take a liberty, and use the liberty in reference to the men of the world that we have to deal withal; but that principle which is to carry us, as in consideration of ourselves, before God and the world, [is] after that liberty which the world doth not understand. It is true, we may use these arguments to satisfy such as understand no more but such [things] as the world gives testimony of; but if we have not another manner of testimony, [of] such things that God hath by his providence given us satisfaction of, I believe, as she says, the conclusion of it will be but fleshly after having begun in the spirit. I think every man is to search his own heart, and to see what is within, and not [to look for deliverance] from himself or from men from outward means, but from that kingdom which, when it comes, will have no end.’ Mrs. Poole declared: ‘It is true, that the Lord hath a controversy with the great and mighty of the earth, with the captains and rulers. He will contend for his own name amongst them.’ Harrison was eager to know what prescription she had by the gift of God, to offer for the Army’s cure of the kingdom: ‘Whether anything was given to you more particularly to express than before?’ She replied: ‘No, sir. For it was presented to me as the Church; . . . by the gift and faith of the Church you shall be guided, which spirit is in you, which shall direct you.’ Ireton could ‘see nothing in her but those [things] that are the fruits of the Spirit of God . . . because it comes with such a spirit that does . . . hold forth humility and self-denial. . . .’
On January 5, Elizabeth Poole said: ‘I have heard [that] some of you [are busied] upon that which is called the Agreement of the People. ’Tis very evident to me that the kingly power is fallen into your hands and you are entrusted with it that you might be as the head to the body. Now . . . if you shall take that up as an Agreement of the People . . . , it seems to me . . . that you shall give power out of your hands, whereas God hath entrusted it with you and will require it of you, how it is improved. * * * Betray not you your trust.’ She then delivered a paper against the King’s execution. Ireton asked: ‘What would you hold forth to us as the demonstration . . . that this that you have delivered to us to be read is from God, from him given in to you, and from you to be delivered to us?’ She replied that the paper would ‘bear witness for itself,’ and added: ‘ . . . Kings are set in [their places] for government, though I do not speak this to favour the tyranny or bloodthirstiness of any. For I do look upon the [Norman] Conquest to be of divine pleasure [whereby kings came to reign], though . . . God is not the supporter of tyranny or injustice; those are things [that] he desires may be kept under.’ Rich asked: ‘. . . whether that which is the will of God is not [always] concordant with natural reason; . . . whether it be the will of God that anything in point of government should be inconsistent with the most essential being for which it was ordained? Now, if . . . any outward thing, and [any] state and power and trust [may be forfeited if it is abused, I would know] if it be not the will or the mind of God that if any man, empowered or entrusted for the public good, for the government’s sake, should be tyrannous to the governed (for the well-being of which he was set in the chair)—then whether for the highest breach of [that] trust there cannot be such an outward forfeiture of life . . . as [there is] of the trust itself?’ Lt.-Col. Kelsey pointed out that ‘God doth not send a messenger but that there may be an impression upon their hearts [that are] to receive it.’ Such a communication as Mrs. Poole’s ‘either . . . must be from God . . . or else there must be something of argument and reason to demonstrate it to us. Now there is nothing of reason in it. And if it be from God the Council would be glad to hear what outgoings there are in that particular.’ The meeting evidently disapproved of Mrs. Poole’s declaration against the punishment of Charles by death, and was sceptical of its divine origin.
January 6: ‘Debate concerning the setting a period to this Parliament by the last of April’ (Agreement I, p. 356). Ireton argues that the dissolution of the present Parliament by the Agreement ‘will be a greater security in case the Army should be forced to remove, when the ill-affected party may [otherwise] come in again. It will give much satisfaction to the people in regard of their expressing their desires [for the Army] not to set up themselves, but [rather] their resolves for a future Representative.’ Cromwell thinks that ‘it will be more honourable and convenient for them to put a period to themselves.’ Ireton replies: ‘If the Parliament should vote a day for their dissolution without the Agreement, all the endeavours [imaginable] will be used for Parliaments to come in [in] the old way. But if men find there is no avoidance of this Parliament but by this Agreement, there is nothing so much likely to keep men’s hands off from opposing the Agreement. * * * The people may [be taught to] think [that] if they oppose this Agreement they oppose the ending of this Parliament.’ Cromwell asks: ‘Then you are afraid they will do [that]?’ Ireton answers: ‘If the generality of [the] people could see the end of this Parliament [in any other way, they] would be for opposing anything of this kind—or would wait for the expiring of that [time], to look for a succession of new Parliaments in the old way and [the] old form of a King [and Parliament] again. Nothing [could be] of more [real] advantage to this Parliament than to end it by the Agreement with safety [to its members and] without prejudice to future Parliaments.’ It was possibly at this debate that Cowling opposed the effort to return to a constitutional mode of government, and especially an Agreement which surrendered the Army’s power: ‘I have heard mention, since I came, of two men, Joseph and Moses. The one was a greater provider for the well-being of the people, and the other did as much in delivering the people when they were not well [used]. I desire that, as Moses, you will not be so full of punctilios as to look upon the old constitution. . . . [The Jews observed the customs of Egypt] and the best they brought forth was a [golden] calf. Now this I should offer to you: Take heed how you stick unto that constitution without [leaving] which you are not able to form a way by which every man may enjoy his own.’
The Levellers’ Dissatisfaction with the Debates
From John Lilburne, A Plea for Common Right and Freedom (28th Dec. 1648)a
And we were very much satisfied that your last Remonstrance terminated in proposing an Agreement of the People as the only proper means for quieting the long and woeful distractions of the nation, and the matter of our foresaid Petition of the eleventh of Sept[ember] as requisite to be seriously considered; both which intimated a nearer compliance with our desires than we had formerly found. But much more satisfactory it was, that you allowed us to choose out certain friends from amongst us, to be joined with you in the drawing up of an Agreement for the people, to be offered unto them for their union therein. And which (though with great expense of time and much contest) was at length effected, so that our hopes revived and our confidence was great that the work would then go on currently amongst you without stop or interruption.
But since the same hath been tendered to the consideration of your Council, the long time spent already therein and the tedious disputes and contests held thereupon, and that in things so essential unto our freedom, as without which we account the Agreement of no value! For what freedom is there to conscientious people where the magistrate shall be entrusted with a restrictive power in matters of religion, or to judge and punish in cases where no law hath been before provided? Which are the points that as yet remain in suspense, and about which most of the time hath been spent, though they are such as wherein all the cordial friends of this Army are fully satisfied, as clearly appeareth by their adhering to our foresaid Petition of the eleventh of Septemb[er]. And when we consider how many in this Council have appeared in behalf of these unreasonable powers in the magistrate; how they have been countenanced that have spoken for them, and how discountenanced that have spoken against them, and that at length; [how] interests directly opposite to freedom of conscience in point of God’s worship are nevertheless called for, to receive satisfaction, whose principles and Covenant lead to no less than persecution in matters of that nature, and which (upon the least hope of power) they have eagerly practised, as in Col[onel] Leigh’s committee; and since at present reproaches of Leveller, Jesuit, and the like begin afresh to be as rife as ever, which usually have forerun the destruction of good endeavours, we profess these are such manifest effects of evil influences and do so evidently demonstrate that both you and we are almost overgrown with destructive interests, and administer so much occasion to doubt the Agreement pretended is not really, or not effectually, intended in that fulness of right, freedom, and redress of grievances as all true-hearted friends expected, that we deem it afresh, worthy [of] all our fears, and of your more than ordinary intention to discover from whence those evil and dangerous effects do proceed, lest before you are aware (as it befell the well-minded members in Parliament) you be entangled in such perplexities that, when you would, it shall not be in your power to help yourselves, or to free this commonwealth from misery and bondage.
All which . . . we judged ourselves bound in conscience thus timely to advertise you of, and do most earnestly entreat that . . . , to prevent your and our being overgrown with destructive interests . . . , you will employ all your might to the speedy production of so full and ample [an] Agreement for the people as (to the restoring all true freedom and for removing of all known grievances) may deserve the stamp of so successful an Army. * * *
That to these just and necessary ends you will instantly reduce your Council into a certain method of orderly proceeding, which will much conduce to the furthering and clearing of your debates and resolutions, wherein we are now exceedingly concerned.
As first, to agree what certain number of officers, and no less, shall make a Council, which, we humbly conceive, ought not to be less than the major part of the commission[ed] officers, at the Headquarters and adjacent thereunto, not excluding of others.
2. That all persons in council may sit in a distinct orderly way, so as they may be observed by the president when they are inclined to speak.
3. That you will agree how many times any person may speak to a question.
4. That you will free your determinations from all pretences of a negative voice, and from all discountenance and check by any superior officer.
And [this] being so regulated:
1. That you will consider and resolve what is the most proper way for advance of officers, so as to preserve them entire to the interest of the people, and from a servile condition or necessary dependence upon the favour or will of any; and seriously to consider whether your Articles of Martial Law (as now they are) are not of too tyrannous a nature for an army of free-born Englishmen; and to reduce the same to reason and an equal constitution.
2. To take special care of the principles of any officer to be admitted, that they be not tainted with those of arbitrary power or of persecution for matters of religion.
3. That there be no disbanding of any sort of men but by consent of the General Council, nor admission or listing of any for horse or foot but according to provision made by the said Council, it being reported that very many of late are listed, of bad and doubtful condition.
By all which means, if conscionably observed (and we trust you will not be the less sensible because we advise), the growth of any corrupt interest will be effectually prevented. And if it shall seem good or anyway useful unto you, we shall choose and appoint four of our friends always to attend and assist, though not to vote with you. Nor will these things or these desires of ours seem strange unto you if you shall consider at how high a rate we have all along valued our just liberties, and how by breaking all authority you have taken upon yourselves the care, protection, and restoration thereof. You will not only cease to wonder, but resolve that we have cause to mind you thereof and of whatsoever we observe may be prejudicial thereunto, being well assured that it highly concerns you in the condition you have put yourselves not to be strait or narrow-hearted to your friends in point of liberty, or removal of known grievances, but to be as large in both as the utmost reason of these knowing times can plead for or desire. And as less than that is not expected from you in the Agreement you have in hand, so, if less in a tittle, it will not be regarded, but very much undervalue your affection to the commonwealth, as being that without which your extraordinary proceedings in overturning all the visible supreme authority of the nation, can never be justified before God or man. * * *
From A Declaration of the English Army now in Scotland,1st Aug. 1650a
At the beginning of the great and wonderful workings of God in these two nations of England and Scotland, we, the under-officers and soldiers of the English Army now in Scotland, were most of us (if not all) men of private callings, and not at all interested in matters of public and state affairs; but yet very many of us, in whom the Lord had begun to reveal himself in the face of Jesus Christ, were sensible of the Antichristian tyranny that was exercised by the late King and his prelates, over the consciences, bodies, and estates of the true spiritual Church of Jesus Christ; namely, those that were born again, and united to him by his Spirit, who were then by that Antichristian crew termed Puritans, sectaries, schismatics, &c., and for not conforming to all the canons and ordinances of their national church, were frequently imprisoned, banished, and otherwise grievously molested at the pleasure of those that then ruled amongst us. Under these sad sufferings of the people of God our souls mourned, and understanding by the manifold gracious promises in the word of God, that a time of deliverance was to be expected to the Church of Christ, and destruction and ruin to Babylon, our hearts, together with all the truly godly in England, were exceedingly stirred up to pray to the Lord, even day and night, that he would arise to destroy Antichrist, and to save his people. Whilst this spirit of prayer was poured forth upon God’s people in England, attempts are made upon Scotland to bring them to a conformity in religious worship, by endeavouring to impose upon them a popish service-book, which was, through the great goodness of God, by his people in Scotland, resisteda ; which made the wrath of the late King and his prelates wax so hot against them, so as Scotland had no other way to preserve itself but by coming into England with an army. Which the godly in England did not then count an invasion to destroy England—no more than they do this our present march, for the ruin of Scotland—but rejoiced to see some appearing against that Antichristian power that had persecuted the Saints, and were assured that the Lord was come forth to answer the many prayers and tears that were then poured and pouring forth for that purpose. And therefore so far as we hadb any opportunity [we] farthered the designs of that army, some of us hazarding our lives by spreading their book, entitled The Scots’ Intentions, and pleading for the justness of their proceedings.
Let us remember how the Lord was pleased graciously to answer the prayers of his people at that time, in their deliverance from the army, raised by the late King and his prelates for the destruction of all the people of God in England and Scotland; insomuch that soon after Scotland sits in peace, enjoying their former liberties without being imposed upon by the Antichristian prelacy in England. And England obtains a Parliament to whom they have opportunity to complain of their grievances, and through the great goodness of God so constituted that grievances are heard, and overtures made to the late King for their redress. Which was so irksome to his oppressing, tyrannical, and bloody spirit, that he again betook himself to overthrow the Parliament by force, and to that end entertains the officers of the army that had gone forth against our brethren of Scotland. And [he] withdrawing himself from his Parliament, an appearance of a civil war begins. Which being made known to us, the inferior officers and soldiers of this Army (then in our private callings), we found our hearts extraordinarily stirred up by the Lord, to assist the Parliament against the King, being abundantly satisfied in our judgments and consciences that we were called forth by the Lord to be instrumental to bring about that which was our continual prayer to God, viz., the destruction of Antichrist and the deliverance of his Church and people. And upon this simple account we engaged, not knowing the deep policies of worldly statesmen, and have ever since hazarded our lives in the high places of the field (where we have seen the wonders of the Lord) against all the opposers of this work of Jesus Christ, whom we have all along seen going with us, and making our way plain before us. And having these things singly in our eye, namely, the destruction of Antichrist, the advancement of the kingdom of Jesus Christ, the deliverance and reformation of his Church, in the establishment of his ordinances amongst them in purity according to his word, and the just civil liberties of Englishmen; we did many of us rejoice at the Covenant, because we found in it a strain towards these ends, although some, being more enlightened, did apprehend it to be so mixed with worldly interest that they justly feared the interest of Jesus Christ would be only pretended to, and the interests of this world, yea, of Antichrist himself, carried under a vizard, as we have since had abundant experience of. Which hath made us, we confess, not to idolize the Covenant (as we fear too many do), though we trust it will appear before God, angels, and men that we shall ever pursue its true and lawful ends, according to the plain and candid meaning thereof; though we do not upon every occasion urge the Covenant (as we see every party, though as far different as light and darkness, apt to do), the Lord having by his word and by his Spirit convinced us of our duty therein, though there had been no such Covenant at all entered into.
But when we saw that under pretence of the Covenant, a corrupt party in Parliament by their worldly policy, after the war was ended in England, and the late King’s party subdued with the loss of thousands of the lives of Saints (whose death is precious in the sight of the Lord), did endeavour to set up the King upon his own terms, and with him to establish a national church-government, not in all things agreeable to the word of God, but [such as] is destructive to the just liberties of the true spiritual Church of Christ, which he hath by his own most precious blood purchased for them, and is now come forth to bestow upon them—which did sufficiently demonstrate itself by the dealings of the then master-builders with the churches of Jesus Christ in and about London, that were then threatened to be dissolved, and laws made to prevent the communion of Saints with one another, except only in that one public form then about to be established, to the astonishment of many of us that had lifted up our hands to God and sworn to endeavour a reformation according to the word of God; and therefore after much waiting upon God by prayer, and examining our own hearts about the ends and sincerity thereof, we were abundantly satisfied that it was not only lawful but our duty, to keep our arms in our hands till the ends before mentioned should be accomplished. And to that purpose the Army, whereof we are a part, did refuse to disband, did march up to London to propose to the Parliament a way of establishment that might be more for the carrying on of the ends of religion and liberty, though therein we were not at that time successful, yet most wonderfully and graciously preserved by the Lord, and extraordinarily convinced, after much seeking the face of God, that our failing was in endeavouring to set up the King upon any terms, he being a man of so much blood that the Lord would have no peace with him, nor any that should go about to establish him. Whereupon—after his own hard heart had hindered him from yielding to any overtures that were made to him by the Parliament (through whom all the Army’s proposals were to be tendered), and a second war, more dangerous than the former, contrived by him and his son (now with you), together with those in Scotland that hated us of the Army of England under the name of sectaries, being, by the unspeakable goodness and mighty power of God, waded through, and a second testimony given from heaven to justify the proceedings of his poor servants against that bloody Anti-christian brood, though with the loss of many precious Saints—we were then powerfully convinced that the Lord’s purpose was to deal with the late King as a man of blood. And being persuaded in our consciences that he and his monarchy was one of the ten horns of the Beast (spoken of, Rev. 17. 12-15), and being witnesses to so much of the innocent blood of the Saints that he had shed in supporting the Beast, and considering the loud cries of the souls of the Saints under the altar, we were extraordinarily carried forth to desire justice upon the King, that man of blood, and to that purpose petitioned our superior officers and the Parliament, to bring him to justice. Which accordingly by an high hand of Providence was brought to pass, which act we are confident the Lord will own in preserving the Commonwealth of England against all kingdoms and nations that shall adventure to meddle with them upon that account. When God executes his judgments upon malefactors, let none go about to resist. When he brings forth those his enemies that will not suffer Jesus Christ to be King in the midst of his Saints, and breaks them in pieces like a potter’s vessel, let not Scotland nor any other nation say, ‘What dost thou?’ We fear they have been too busy already. The Lord that sees the secrets of all hearts, knows the compliance of Scotland with the late King’s issue (now with you) was in order to disturb the peace of England, for being God’s executioners upon a bloody tyrant and a supporter of the throne of the Beast. But blessed be the Lord, the crafty are taken in their own snare; England sits in peace, whilst Scotland receives into their chief city their new King at the very hour wherein an Army that had marched three hundred miles is facing them at the very gates. We wish our brethren of Scotland, especially those that truly fear the Lord, would consider these things, and not slight the providences of God so much as they do. When Scotland chose new gods, and would have a king out of a family that God had rejected, then was war in the gates. And though we do not think providences alone a sufficient rule for God’s people to walk by, yet we do know that the Lord speaks to his people by his providence, as well as by his word; and he is angry with his people that do not take notice thereof, and promiseth blessing to those that do (Psalm 107 and the latter end).
And here give us leave (not in a boasting spirit, but in meekness and fear) to tell you that we are persuaded we are poor unworthy instruments in God’s hand, to break his enemies and preserve his people. * * * We value the churches of Jesus Christ, who are the lot of God’s inheritance, ten thousand times above our own lives; yea, we do bless the Lord we are not only a rod of iron to dash the common enemies in pieces, but also a hedge (though very unworthy) about Christ’s vineyard. * * * We desire it may be known to you, our brethren of Scotland, that we are not soldiers of fortune, we are not merely the servants of men; we have not only proclaimed Jesus Christ, the King of Saints, to be our King by profession, but desire to submit to him upon his own terms, and to admit him to the exercise of his royal authority in our hearts, and to follow him whithersoever he goeth, he having of his own good will entered into a Covenant of Grace with his poor Saints. And be assured, it is he that leadeth us into Scotland, as he hath done in England and Ireland. And therefore we do in the spirit of brotherly love, and of the fear of the Lord, beseech you to look about you, for our Lord Jesus is coming amongst you as a refiner’s fire, and as fuller’s soap; and blessed are those in whom the least dram of sincerity shall be found. * * *
Our quarrel is still against malignants, the root whereof is now, through the evil policy of some statesmen, become the head of Scotland. We dare not quarrel with those whose hearts are upright with Jesus Christ, and faithful and loving to England, but with those who are most treacherous and false to both; and therefore we dare not any of us, though tempted thereto by your Papers, be so carnally wise as to desert the cause and work of Jesus Christ, in which we have hitherto been so long and so miraculously carried on. Do you think we are men so weakly principled as to be persuaded, without the least strength of argument, to desert the interest of our own nation, and expose thousands of the precious Saints of Jesus Christ, to be trampled upon as the dirt in the streets, when the Lord is about to put on their beautiful garments, and to make them a praise in the earth? Or can we (think you) betray our superior officers, in whom we see so much of the sweet spirit of Jesus Christ, into your hands, whose mouths are opened wide to devour them? We pray you not to wait for such a thing. The Lord hath brought us hither by his providence, and upon him we shall with confidence depend till we see a glorious issue; which we humbly and heartily desire may be without the effusion of any more blood and (if it be the will of God) both speedy and comfortable to you and us, that we may return with joy into England, and leave Scotland rejoicing that an English army hath been amongst them. Which possibly may be the sooner effected were you and we suffered to confer and open our hearts one to another. We do believe much of the bitterness of spirit would be allayed in our brethren of Scotland, did they know how exceedingly we are slandered by the pens and tongues of many of your kirkmen concerning our religion and faith towards God, which though we may not vainly boast of, yet according to the Apostle’s direction, we are ready to give an answer to the meanest Christian in Scotland, that shall ask a reason of the faith and hope that is in us, with meekness and fear. * * *
Mr. Peter’s Message (1646), pp. 5-6. Similar testimony is borne by other chaplains: William Dell (The Building and Glory of the Truly Christian Church, 1646, ‘To the Reader’), and Joshua Sprigge (Anglia Rediviva, 1647, pp. 323-4).
Reference to the Presbyterian clergy’s attacks on the Army’s heresies.
Reliquiae Baxterianae (1696), Part I, §§ 71, 73.
Added to The Apology of the Common Soldiers, dated 28th April 1647, and ‘Printed May 3, 1647.’ For some account of an earlier Apology, see Introduction, p. .
Ascribed by Firth to Edward Sexby (Clarke Papers, 1. 22).
These two letters, each headed ‘Letter from Lt. C. to the Agitators’, are probably from Lieutenant Edmund Chillenden. Their interest is in the flashlight picture which they give, of the secret organization and activity of the Agitators and their allies. Most of the code numbers are easy to interpret.
Probably the work of Ireton.
Omitted passage deals with Parliament’s plan to disband the Army.
See No. 8, also the work of Ireton.
Omitted passage contains a brief and forceful statement of the particular grievances and demands of the Army.
The Representation is addressed to the Parliament.
This and the following paragraph occur only in the Cambridge edition.
VII deals with the limiting of the regional powers given during the war to committees and deputy lieutenants; VIII, with the auditing of Parliament’s accounts.
The petition is signed not by the Agitators, but by three officers: Major Daniel Abbott, and Captains John Clarke and Edmund Rolfe.
‘An Answer of the Commissioners of the Army,’ Army Declarations (1647), p. 77.
Cromwell refers to the advance first to St. Albans (whence the Representation was issued), and then (24th-25th June) to Uxbridge.
Cromwell refers to ordinances of 5th and 9th July against those who had been active Royalists, and had yet presumed to sit in Parliament.
Dated 1st August 1647.
Above, pp. 401-3.
Above, pp. 403-9.
The Heads of the Proposals (above, pp. 422-6).
A Remonstrance of the Army, 18th August 1647.
Third demand is for a purge of the existing Parliament; fourth, for Parliament’s formal approval of the Army’s Declarations.
The proposals were also separately issued, in condensed form, as Propositions from the Agitators of Five Regiments, 18th Oct. 1647. The rest are similar to those found in the Leveller documents printed above—Overton’s Appeal, the Petitions of March 1647, and 11th September 1648, Lilburne’s Foundations of Freedom (pp. 318-67). But their presence adds to the significance of The Case of the Army, and demands brief summary: (1) ‘That all monopolies be forthwith removed, and no persons whatsoever may be permitted to restrain others from free trade.’ (2) The reform of legal procedure, including the abolition of imprisonment for debt, provision for speedy trial in criminal cases, the abolition of oaths and interrogatories of prisoners in criminal cases, the appointment of ‘a committee of conscientious persons . . . to consider the intolerable oppressions by unjust proceedings in the law, that withal the laws might be reduced to a smaller number, to be comprised in one volume in the English tongue . . .; that courts might be in the respective counties or hundreds, that proceedings might become short and speedy, and that the numberless grievances in the law and lawyers might be redressed as soon as possible.’ (3) The abolition of all statutes enforcing uniformity in religion and attendance at church, ‘whereby many religious and conscientious people are daily vexed and oppressed,’ and all statutes against conventicles, ‘under pretence of which religious people are vexed for private meetings about the worship of God’; the abolition of tithes, and of enforced oaths, such as the oath of supremacy, which are ‘burdens and snares to conscientious people.’ (4) The abolition of ‘all privileges and protections above the law.’ (5) The restoration to the service of the poor of all enclosed commons, and all ancient rights and donations (almshouses, &c.), ‘in whose hands soever they be detained.’ The Agents add (in the hope of ‘healing differences as far as possible’ in the nation at large, since ‘mercy and justice are the foundations of a lasting peace’) that the sequestration of estates should be speedily discharged, and compositions be so moderate as none may exceed two years’ revenue.’
The Case of the Army is signed by Robert Everard and ten other Agents (here described as ‘Agitators’), and is followed by a letter of self-justification to Fairfax, signed by seven of the same and four different Agents (and not by Everard). The Agents declare themselves to have acted from
‘obligations upon our consciences (written naturally by the finger of God in our hearts). * * * For God hath given no man a talent to be wrapped up in a napkin and not improved, but the meanest vassal (in the eye of the world) is equally obliged, and accomptable to God, with the greatest prince or commander under the sun in and for the use of that talent betrusted unto him. * * * For, Sir, should you—yea should the whole Parliament or kingdom—exempt us from this service, or . . . command our silence or forbearance, yet could not they nor you discharge us of our duties to God or to our own natures. * * * And if by any one your Excellency shall be suborned that we are transgressors of all order and form, and in that sense to look upon us, we desire to mind your Excellency that the law of nature and nations, attested in our public declarations and papers, may be an answer to such for the justification of our present expedient. For all forms are but as shadows, and subject to the end. And the safety of the people is above all forms, customs, &c.; and the equity of popular safety is the thing which justifieth all forms, or the change of forms, for the accomplishment thereof; and no forms are lawful longer than they preserve or accomplish the same.’
The letters are signed by Robert Everard and eleven others.
Attributed to John Wildman (D.N.B., 61. 235).
The first part of the pamphlet is addressed to the Five Regiments.
Obviously it is Cromwell and Ireton who are being attacked. Later they are named.
Reference is to the unreported debate of 22nd October.
The two terms Agitator and Adjutator are used indifferently. I have preserved the latter in this pamphlet, that it may be represented. This second part of the pamphlet is addressed to ‘all the soldiers of the Army.’
The reference is to the organization of the soldiers for their own defence prior to the Solemn Engagement.
The letter is signed by Robert Everard and nine others.
Signed by the same Agents, with the note: ‘Agents coming from other regiments unto us have subscribed the Agreement, to be proposed to their respective regiments and you.’
Report of meeting of 30th October.
[In margin:] Date of ordinance for 5th & 20th part [i.e. 29th November 1642].
Report of meeting of 2nd November commences here. See above, p. 113, note.
The letter to the Speaker was signed by William Clarke, ‘by appointment of the General Council of the Army,’ and read in part: ‘Whereas it is generally reported that the House was induced to make another address to the King by propositions, by reason it was represented to the House as the desire of the Army; from a tenderness to the privileges of parliamentary actings, this night the General Council of the Army declared that any such representation of their desires was [al]together groundless, and that they earnestly desire no such consideration may be admitted into the House’s resolutions in that particular.’ (From Clarke Papers, ed. Firth, 1. 440-1.)
Signed by Edward Sexby, Robert Everard, and thirteen others (Agitators and Agents).
Followed in Clarke MSS. by draft of a request to Parliament (mentioned in the Agitators’ letter) for six weeks’ pay for the Army, or, failing that, one month’s; also recommending the raising of funds for arrears from the lands of bishops, and of deans and chapters, and objecting once more to free-quarter.
Rushworth (Collections, 6. 868) adds: for his order to communicate the same to the several regiments at their respective rendezvous.
The work of Ireton.
It will be remembered that the Remonstrance is addressed to the House of Commons.
Added to the Committee on the First Reserve (in religion): Dr. Pagett, Dr. Cox, Dr. Goddard, Major Carter, Capt. Hodden.
Numbering of reserves is according to the Agreement, Article VII, as printed in Lilburne’s Foundations of Freedom (above, pp. 361-3).
Added to Committee on Religion: Col. Hewson, Major Barton, Col. Okey. ‘Memorandum: at the meeting to-morrow, to consider of some moderate men to meet in London at Colonel Tichborne’s.’ (Reference is perhaps to moderate Presbyterians to be taken into the discussion.) On 19th December, Major Coleman, Capt. Spencer, Mr. Cooly, added to Committee.
Firth quotes from Perfect Diurnal, 22nd December: ‘The General Council of the Army have had many large debates this week upon that reserve in the Representative in matters of religion; some Presbyterian ministers have been discoursed withal, and at last an expedient is agreed upon, which will give satisfaction. Much debate also upon the power of the Representative in civils, as how they might proceed to punish, not being directed by a known law.’
In view of what follows, the question appears to be whether there should be granted to the Representative ‘the highest and final judgment concerning all natural, civil, and moral things.’ The connection with religion is in the contention that it falls within the scope of the moral law. The addition is opposed by that principle which later adds the specific phrase reserving ‘things spiritual and evangelical.’
I have tried to restore the correct order of the argument by reference to the pamphlet.
This quotation is from the pamphlet.
This phrase is from the pamphlet.
The speech is reported under 5th January, where it appears to have no place.
Signed by Lilburne, Overton, Prince, and thirteen others.
The Declaration, dated ‘From the leaguer at Muscleborough, August 1, 1650,’ is in answer to a paper directed by the Scots ‘To the Under-officers and Soldiers of the English Army.’
[387. (a)] For principles on which documents in the Appendix are edited, see above, 179 (a).
[390. (a)] A Discovery of the New Creation. In a Sermon Preached at the Head-Quarters at Putney Sept. 29. 1647. By Thomas Collier. 2 Pet. 3. 13. Neverthelesse we look for new Heavens, and a New Earth, wherein dwelleth righteousnesse. London. Printed for Giles Calvert . . . 1647 (McAlpin Collection). ‘Epistle to the Reader’ omitted.
[394. (a)] + 1.
[396. (a)] ‘A Second Apologie of All the Private Souldiers in his Excellencies Sir Thomas Fairfax his Army, to their Commission Officers,’ in The Apologie of the Common Souldiers of his Excellencie Sir Tho. Fairfaxes Army. To him their noble and renowned Generall and to all the rest of the Commission-Officers. About which Apologie the said Armies Commissioners were questioned, and imprisoned about two houres, by the House of Commons, the last of April 1647. for delivering this Apologie to their Generall and other of their chiefe Commanders in London. London, Printed May 3. 1647. The first Apology is dated 28th April 1647, and signed by the Agitators of eight regiments.
[397. (a)] + marginal reference to instances, with a promise to prove them;
[398. (a)] + and.
[398. (b)] Clarke MSS., vol. 41; and Clarke Papers, ed. Firth, 1. 22-4;
[(c-d)]open Enemies or undermining;
[399. (a)] Clarke MSS., vol. 41;
[(b)] Colonel Waller’s Regiment, art. 12;
[(c)] Colonel Farley’s Regiment, art. 12;
[(d)] Colonel Lambert’s Regiment, art. 13;
[(e)] Colonel Hewson’s Regiment, arts. 1, 6, 12.
[400. (a)] Clarke MSS., vol. 41; and Clarke Papers, ed. Firth, 1. 100-1;
[(c)] tr means;
[(d)] tr petition;
[(e)] Clarke MSS., vol. 41; and Clarke Papers, ed. Firth, 1. 105-6;
[401. (a)] A Solemne Engagement of the Army under the command of his Excellency Sir Thomas Fairfax, with a declaration of their resolutions as to disbanding and a breife vindication of their principles and intentions. * * * Subscribed by the officers and souldiers of the severall regiments at the rendezvous neare New-Market on fryday and saturday, June 4 and 5. * * * London: Printed for George Whittington . . . 1647 [June 11]. Compared with the Cambridge edition, printed by Roger Daniel, as reprinted in Old Parliamentary History, 15. 424-30;
[402. (a-b)] Cambridge text: do own and approve;
[(d)] + of;
[(e)]necessary; Cambridge text, present.
[403. (a)] A Representation from his Excellencie Sr. Thomas Fairfax, And the Army under his command, Humbly tendered to the Parliament: Concerning the just and fundamentall rights and liberties of themselves and the kingdome, with some humble proposals and desires in order thereunto, and for settling the peace of the kingdome. St. Albans, June 14. 1647. * * * Cambridge: Printed by Roger Daniel, Printer to the Universitie. Compared with the London edition, printed for George Whittington, 1647, which lacks two paragraphs present in the Cambridge edition.
[406. (a)] London text; Cambridge text + now.
[407. (a-b)] London text.
[409. (a)] Clarke MSS., vol. 67; and Clarke Papers, ed. Firth, 1. 170-214 (which see for full text);
[410. (a)] + bee;
[(c)] + that;
[(g)] + and;
[415. (a)] + that;
[(c)] + and.
[417. (a)] + the;
[419. (a)] + and;
[(b)]Clarke Papers ed. Firth, 1. 215-16;
[421. (a-b)] transposed;
[422. (a)] A Declaration from his Excellencie Sr. Thomas Fairfax, And his Councell of Warre. Concerning their proceeding in the Proposalls, prepared and agreed on by the Councell of the Armie. . . . Together with the Heads of the said Proposalls. * * * London: Printed for Matthew Simmons 1647 [dated Aug. 1; Thomason dates, Aug. 5].
[426. (a)]Putney Proiects. Or the old serpent in a new forme. Presenting to the view of all the well affected in England, the serpentine deceit of their pretended friends in the Armie, indeavouring to introduce tyranny and slavery in a new method. Composed by the diljgent and impartiall observation and certainintelligence of John Lawmind. [Quotes Mic. 7, 3-5; Matt. 24, 24-5.] London, Printed in the Yeare 1647 [Dec. 30]. Marginal references omitted.
[429. (a)]The Case of the Armie Truly Stated, together with the mischiefes and dangers that are imminent, and some sutable remedies, Humbly proposed by the Agents of five regiments of horse to their respective regiments and the whole Army. As it was presented . . . October 15. 1647 unto his Excellency Sir Thomas Fairfax. * * * [Quotes Deut. 20. 8; Judges 7. 7.] London, printed in the yeare 1647 [Oct. 19]. Marginal references omitted;
[433. (a)] Numbering has been corrected.
[437. (a)]Two Letters From the Agents of the Five Regiments of Horse, the one to the whole souldiery of the Army, the other to some who sent unto them, to receive further information and satisfaction [Oct. 28, 1647].
[438. (a)]Englands Friend Raised from the Grave. * * * Being the true copies of three letters, written by Mr John Saltmarsh, a little before his death. * * * London, Printed for Giles Calvert . . . 1649 [July 31].
[439. (a)] A Cal to all the Souldiers of the Armie, by the Free People of England. 1. Justifying the proceedings of the five regjments. 2. Manifesting the necessity of the whole Armies joyning with them, in all their faithfull endeavours, both for removing of all tyranny and oppression . . . and establishing the just liberties and peace of this nation. 3. Discovering (without any respect of persons) the chiefe authors . . . of all our miseries, especially the new raised hypocrits by whose treacherous practices, all the just intentions and actions of the Adjutators and other well minded souldiers have been made fruitless. [Quotes Isa. 58. 6; Matt. 23. 27-8.] Printed in the yeare 1647 [Oct. 29].
[443. (a)]An Agreement of the People for a firme and present peace, upon grounds of common-right and freedome; As it was proposed by the Agents of the five regiments of horse; and since by the generall approbation of the Army, offered to the joynt concurrence of all the free Commons of England. * * * Printed Anno Dom. 1647 [two editions, Nov. 3, and Nov. 4]. ‘Letter to the Free-born People of England’ (p. 445) and ‘Letter to the Officers and Soldiers’ (p. 447), printed with the Agreement. Preamble here omitted (see p. 443).
[449. (a)] Clarke MSS., vol. 67; and Clarke Papers, ed. Firth, 1. 363-7, 407-9.
[451. (a)] Marginal notes omitted; these indicate that clauses were passed unanimously, save (ii) where margin reads: Major Corbett; noe.
[452. (a)] A Letter sent from several Agitators of the Army to their respective Regiments. . . . Wherein is discovered the groundof the present differences between them and the General Councel, concerning the King, and the establishment of Common Right and Freedom for all People in this Kingdom. With a true Account of the Proceedings of the General Councel thereupon. London, Printed for John Harris. 1647 [Nov. 11] (McAlpin Collection).
[454. (a)] Clarke MSS., vol. 67; and Clarke Papers, ed. Firth, 1. 411-6.
[456. (a)] A Remonstrance of his Excellency Thomas Lord Fairfax, Lord Generall of the Parliaments forces, and of the Generall Councell of Officers. Held at St. Albans the 16. of November, 1648. Presented to the Commons assembled in parliament, the 20 instant, and tendred to the consideration of the kingdome. London Printed for John Partridge and George Whittington . . . MDCXLVIII [Nov. 22];
[458. (a)]party (thus throughout, except in the phrase immediately following).
[465. (a)]The Declaration of His Excellency The Lord General Fairfax, and his General Councel of Officers, shewing the grounds of the Armies advance towards the City of London. * * * London, Printed by John Field for John Partridge, Novemb. 1. 1648 [Dec. 1].
[466. (a-b)]discourse . . . from this courage.
[467. (a)] Clarke MSS., vol. 67; and Clarke Papers, ed. Firth, 2. 133-70.
[472. (a)] A Plea for Common-right and Freedom. To his Excellency, the Lord General Fairfax, and the Commission-officers of the Armie. Or, the serious addresses, and earnest desires of their faithful friends . . . Promoters and presenters of the late Large-Petition of the eleventh of September, MDCXLVIII. As it was presented to his Excellency, Decemb. 28. 1648. By L. C. John Lilburn . . . Richard Overton . . . Tho. Prince [thirteen others named]. London Printed by Ja. and Jo. Moxon, for Will. Larnar . . . 1648 [Dec. 29].
[474. (a)] A Declaration of the English Army now in Scotland, touching the justness & necessity of their present proceedings in that nation. Imprimatur Joh: Rushworth. London, Printed by Edward Husband and John Field, Printers to the Parliament of England. August 12. 1650. Compared with another edition: A Declaration of the English Army . . . to the People of Scotland.