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C.: THE READING DEBATES - Arthur Sutherland Pigott Woodhouse, Puritanism and Liberty, being the Army Debates (1647-9) from the Clarke Manuscripts with Supplementary Documents 
Puritanism and Liberty, being the Army Debates (1647-9) from the Clarke Manuscripts with Supplementary Documents, selected and edited with an Introduction A.S.P. Woodhouse, foreword by A.D. Lindsay (University of Chicago Press, 1951).
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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.’ * * *1
‘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,1 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,1 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 another1 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.1 * * * 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.’
 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.
 Colonel Lambert.
 Cromwell refers to ordinances of 5th and 9th July against those who had been active Royalists, and had yet presumed to sit in Parliament.
[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;