Front Page Titles (by Subject) To the Reader. - Excellencie of a Free-State
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To the Reader. - Marchamont Nedham, Excellencie of a Free-State 
Excellencie of a Free-State: Or, The Right Constitution of a Commonwealth, edited and with an Introduction by Blair Worden (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2011).
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To the Reader.
Taking notice of late with what impudence, and (the more is the pity) confidence, the Enemies of this Commonwealth in their publick Writings and Discourses labour to undermine the dear-bought Liberties and Freedoms of the People, in their declared Interest of a Free-State; I thought it high time, by counter-working them, to crush the Cockatrice in the Egg, that so it might never grow to be a Bird of prey: in order thereto, I have published this following Discourse to the World; that so the Eyes of the People being opened, they may see whether those high and ranting Discourses of personal Prerogative and unbounded Monarchy, (especially One lately published by Mr. Howel,Inspections.*that struts abroad with a brazen Face) or a due andorderly succession of the Supreme Authority in the hands of the Peoples Representatives, will best secure the Liberties and Freedoms of the People from the Incroachments and Usurpations of Tyranny, and answer the true Ends of the late Wars.
This Treatise is not intended for a particular Answer to Mr. Howel ’s said Book, but yet may obviate that part thereof which he calls, Some Reflexes upon Government: for his main design is not so much, (though that be part) to asperse the long Parliament, (and so through their sides to woundall their Friends and Adherents) as to lay a Foundation for absolute Tyranny, upon an unbounded Monarchy: and in order thereunto, he advises his Highness to lay aside Parliaments, (or at best, to make them Cyphers) and to govern the Nation Vi & Armis: not out of any Honour or respect he bears to his Person, but to bring the old Interest and Family into more credit and esteem with the People.
His Principles and Precedents, they are purely his own: for I am confident, that the most considerate part of those that did engage for the late King, are so far fromowning his Tenets, that they would rather lay aside the Family and Interest of the Stuarts , and declare for a Free-State, than indure to be yoked and enslaved by such an absolute Tyranny as he pleads for. My reason is this: because most of the Nobility and Gentry of this Nation have fair Estates of their own, free, without any dependence upon the Crown; and they would be as unwilling to render up their Estates and Posterities in the paw of the Lion, as the Commoners themselves.
His Precedents are as false as his Principles are bad: for proof hereof, take one (and that a main one) for all: he saith, That until the Reign of Henry the first, the Commons of England were not called to the Parliament at all, or had so much as a Consent in the making of Laws.
To prove that this is false, there is extant an old Latine Copy speaking of a Parliament in the Reign of King Ethelred; which telleth us, that in it were Universi Anglorum Optimates Ethelredi Regis Edicto: & convocata Plebis multitudine collectae Regis Edicto: A Writ of Summons for all the Lords, and for choiceof the Commons: a full and clear Parliament. My Author saith, The proofs of Parliaments, in Canute’s time, are so many, and so full, that they tire us altogether. His remarkable Letter from Rome, recorded by the Monk of Malmsbury, runs thus: To the Arch-Bishops, Bishops, &c. Primatibus & toti Genti Anglorum, tam Nobilibus, quam Plebeis. Hoveden is full in this also; Cujus (Edmundi) post mortem, Rex Canutus omnes Episcopos, Duces, nec non & Principes, cunctosque Optimates Gentis Angliae, Lundoniae congregrari jussit.Howel saith William the Conqueror first brought the word Parlament.A clear summons of Parliament: and the very name of Parliament is found (saith my Author) in his time, in the old Book of Edmunds-Bury. Rex Canutus, Anno Regni 5. cunctos Regni sui Praelatos, Proceresque, ac Magnates, ad suum convocans Parliamentum. And that it was a full Parliament, we may believe from the persons we finde there, at the Charterto that Monastery; confirmed by Hardicanute, but granted by Canute, in suo Publico Parliamento, praesistentibus personaliter in eodem Archi-Episcopis, Episcopis, Suffraganeis, Ducibus, Comitibus, Abbatibus, cum quam plurimis gregariis Militibus (Knights of shires it seems) & cum Populi multitudine copiosa (other Commons also) O mnibus tum eodem Parliamento personaliter existentibus . Edward the Confessor refers the repairing of Westminster to the Parliament: at length, cum totius Regni Electione, (they are his own words) he sets upon the decayed Minster.
But they that would know more of the Customs and Constitutions of this Nation, let them repair to those large Volumes, that are so frequent in print upon that Subject; especially that excellent Piece, The Rights of the Kingdom.*This may suffice to prove that the Commons were called to Parliament long before Henry the first.
Mr. Howel would have his Highness lay a Sesment for the repairing of Pauls without consent of Parliament.†I believe none will be offended with this following Discourse, but those that are Enemies to publick welfare: let such be offended still: it is not for their sakes that I publish this ensuing Treatise; but for your sakes, that have been noble Patriots, fellow-Souldiers; and Sufferers for the Liberties and Freedoms of your Country, that Posterity in after-ages may have something to say and shew to (if God shall permit any) succeeding Tyrants, where-fore their Fathers sacrificed their lives, and all that was dear to them: It was not to destroy Magistracy, but to regulate it; nor to confound Propriety, but to inlarge it: that the Prince as well as the People might be governed by Law; that Justice might be impartially distributed without respect of persons; that England might become a quiet Habitation for the Lion and the Lamb to lie down and feed together; and, that none might make the people afraid: it was for these things they fought and died; and that not as private persons neither, but by the publick command and conduct of the Supreme Power of the Nation, viz. the peoples Representatives in Parliament: and nothing will satisfie for all the Blood and Treasure that hath been spilt and spent, make England a glorious Commonwealth, and stop the mouths of all gainsayers; but a due and orderly succession of the Supreme Authority in the hands of the Peoples Representatives.
[* ]James Howell, Som Sober Inspections made into the Cariage and Consults of the late-Long Parliament (London, 1655). The passages of the book cited or quoted in Nedham’s preface are on pp. 19-20, 23-24, 179-82.
[* ]John Sadler, Rights of the Kingdom (London, 1649).
[† ]St. Paul’s Cathedral, which had been restored under Charles I, had fallen into serious disrepair under Puritan rule.