Note: This is part of the Leveller Collection of Tracts and Pamphlets.
(Placeholder: Text will be added later.)
T.70 [1646.07.17] [Richard Overton], A Remonstrance of Many Thousand Citizens, and other Free-born People of England, To their owne House of Commons (17 July 1646).
[Richard Overton], A Remonstrance of Many Thousand Citizens, and other
Free-born People of England, To their owne House of Commons. Occasioned through
the Illegall and barbarous Imprisonment of that Famous and Worthy Sufferer
for his Countries Freedoms, Lieutenant Col. John Lilburne. Wherein their
just Demands in behalfe of themselves and the whole Kingdome, concerning
their Publick Safety, Peace and Freedome, is Express'd; calling thoise their
Commissioners in Parliament to an Account, how they (since the beginning
of their Session, to this present) have discharged their Duties to the Universallity
of the People, their Sovereign Lord, from whom their Power and Strength is
derived, and by whom (ad bene placitum) it is continued.
Printed in the Yeer. 1646.
7 July 1646.
TT1, p. 450; E. 343. (11.)
Note: This pamphlet has an engraving of John Lilburne behind prison-bars which we have used as the title image of this collection.
WEE are well assured, yet cannot forget, that the cause of our choosing you to be Parliament-men, was to deliver us from all kind of Bondage, and to preserve the Common-wealth in Peace and Happinesse: For effecting whereof, we possessed you with the same Power that was in our selves, to have done the same; For wee might justly have done it our selves without you, if we had thought it convenient; choosing you [as Persons whom wee thought fitly quallified, and Faithfull, for avoiding some inconveniences.
But ye are to remember, this was only of us but a Power of trust, [which is ever revokable, and cannot be otherwise,] and to be imployed to no other end, then our owne well-being: Nor did wee choose you to continue our Trust’s longer, then the knowne established constitution of this Commonly-wealth will justly permit, and that could be but for one yeere at the most: for by our Law, a Parliament is to be called once every yeere, and oftner (if need be,) as ye well know. Wee are your Principalls, and you our Agents; it is a Truth which you cannot but acknowledge: For if you or any other shall assume, or exercise any Power, that is not derived from our Trust and choice thereunto, that Power is no lesse then usurpation and an Oppression, from which wee expect to be freed, in whomsoever we finde it; it being altogether inconsistent with the nature of just Freedome, which yee also very well understand.
The History of our Fore-fathers since they were Conquered by the Normans, doth manifest that this Nation hath been held in bondage all along ever since by the policies and force of the Officers of Trust in the Common-wealth, amongst whom, wee always esteemed Kings the chiefest: and what (in much of the formertime) was done by warre, and by impoverishing of the People, to make them slaves, and to hold them in bondage, our latter Princes have endeavoured to effect, by giving ease and wealth unto the People, but withall, corrupting their understanding, by infusing false Principles concerning Kings, and Government, and Parliaments, and Freedoms; and also using all meanes to corrupt and vitiate the manners of the youth, and strongest prop and support of the People, the Gentry.
It is wonderfull, that the failings of former Kings, to bring our Fore-fathers into bondage, together with the trouble and danger that some of them drew upon themselves and their Posterity, by those their unjust endevours, had not wrought in our latter Kings a resolution to rely on, and trust only to justice and square dealing with the People, especially considering the unaptnesse of the Nation to beare much, especially from those that pretend to love them, and unto whom they expressed so much hearty affection, (as any People in the world ever did,) as in the quiet admission of King James from Scotland, sufficient, (if any Obligation would worke Kings to Reason,) to have endeared both him and his sonne King Charles, to an inviolable love, and hearty affection to the English Nation; but it would not doe.
They choose rather to trust unto their Policies and Court Arts, to King-waste, and delusion, then to justice and plaine dealing; and did effect many things tending to our enslaving (as in your First Remonstrance; you shew skill enough to manifest the same to all the World:) and this Nation having been by their delusive Arts, and a long continued Peace, much softened and debased in judgement and Spirit, did beare far beyond its usuall temper, or any example of our Fore-Fathers, which (to our shame,) wee acknowledge.
But in conclusion, longer they would not beare, and then yee were chosen to worke our deliverance, and to Estate us in naturall and just libertie agreeable to Reason and common equitie; for whatever our Fore-fathers were; or whatever they did or suffered, or were enforced to yeeld unto; we are the men of the present age, and ought to be absolutely free from all kindes of exorbitancies, molestations or Arbitrary Power, and you wee choose to free us from all without exception or limitation, either in respect of Persons, Officers, Degrees, or things; and we were full of confidence, that ye also would have dealt impartially on our behalf, and made us the most absolute free People in the world.
But how ye have dealt with us; wee shall now let you know, and let the Righteous GOD judge between you and us; the continuall Oppressours of the Nation, have been Kings, which is so evident, that you cannot denie it; and ye yourselves have told the King, (whom yet you owne,) That his whole 16. Yeeres reigne was one continued act of the breach of the Law.
You shewed him, That you understood his under-working with Ireland, his endeavour to enforce the Parliament by the Army raised against Scotland, yee were eye-witnesses of his violent attempt about the Five Members; Yee saw evidently his purpose of raising Warre; yee have seen him engaged, and with obstinate violence, persisting in the most bloody Warre that ever this Nation knew, to the wasting and destruction of multitudes of honest and Religious People.
Yee have experience, that none but a King could doe so great intollerable mischiefes, the very name of King, proving a sufficient charme to delude many of our Brethren in Wales, Ireland, England, and Scotland too, so farre, as to fight against their own Liberties, which you know, no man under heaven could ever have done.
And yet, as if you were of Counsell with him, and were resolved to hold up his reputation, thereby to enable him to goe on in mischief, you maintaine, The King can doe no wrong, and apply all his Oppressions to Evill Counsellors, begging and intreating him in such submissive language, to returne to his Kingly Office and Parliament, as if you were resolved to make us beleeve, hee were a God, without whose presence, all must fall to ruine, or as if it were impossible for any Nation to be happy without a King.
You cannot fight for our Liberties, but it must be in the Name of King and Parliament; he that speakes of his cruelties, must be thrust out of your House and society; your Preachers must pray for him, as if he had not deserved to be excommunicated all Christian Society, or as if yee or they thought God were a respecter of the Persons of Kings in judgement.
By this and other your like dealings, your frequent treating, and tampering to maintaine his honour, Wee that have trusted you to deliver us from his Opressions, and to preserve us from his cruelties, are wasted and consumed (in multitudes) to manifold miseries, whilst you lie ready with open armes to receive him, and to make him a great and glorious King.
Have you shoke this Nation like an Earth-quake, to produce no more than this for us; Is it for this, that ye have made so free use, & been so bold both with our Persons & Estates? And doe you (because of our readings to comply with your desires in all things) conceive us so sottish, as to be contented with such unworthy returnes of our trust and Love? No; it is high time wee be plaine with you; WEE are not, nor SHALL not be so contented; Wee doe expect according to reason, that yee should in the first place, declare and set forth King Charles his wickednesse openly before the world, and withall, to shew the intollerable inconyeniences of having a Kingly Government, from the constant evill practices of those of this Nation; and so to declare King Charles an enemy, and to publish your resolution, never to have any more, but to acquite us of so great a charge and trouble forever, and to convert the great revenue of the Crowne to the publike treasure, to make good the injuries and injustices done heretofore, and of late by those that have possessed the same; and this we expected long since at your hand, and untill this be done, wee shall not thinke our selves well dealt withall in this originall of all Oppressions, to wit Kings.
Yee must also deal better with us concerning the Lords, then you have done? Yee only are chosen by Us the People; and therefore in you onely is the Power of binding the whole Nation, by making, altering, or abolishing of Lawes; Yee have therefore prejudiced Us, in acting so, as if ye could not make a Law without both the Royall assent of the King (so ye are pleased to expresse your selves,) and the assent of the Lords; yet when either King or Lords assent not to what you approve, yee have so much sense of your owne Power, as to assent what yee thinke good by an Order of your owne House.
What is this but to blinde our eyes, that Wee should not know where our Power is lodged, nor to whom to aply our selves for the use thereof; but if We want a Law, Wee must awaite till the King and Lords assent; if an Ordinance, then Wee must waite till the Lords assent; yet ye knowing their assent to be meerly formall, (as having no root in the choice of the People, from whom the Power that is just must be derived,) doe frequently importune their assent, which implies a most grosse absurditie.
For where their assent is necessary and essentiall, they must be as Free as you, to assent, or dissent as their understandings and Consciences should guide them: and might as justly importune you, as yee them. Yee ought in Conscience to reduce this case also to a certaintie, and not to waste time, and open your Counsells, and be lyable to so many Obstructions as yee have been.
But to prevaile with them (enjoying their Honours and Possessions,) to be lyable, and stand to be chosen for Knights and Burgesses by the People, as other the Gentry and Free-men of this Nation doe, which will be an Obligation upon them, as having one and the same interest: then also they would be distinguished by their vertues, and love to the Common-wealth, whereas now they Act and Vote in our affaires but as intruders, or as thrust upon us by Kings, to make good their Interests, which to this day have been to bring us into a slavish subjection to their wills.
Nor is there any reason, that they should in any measure, be lesse lyable to any Law then the Gentry are; Why should any of them assault, strike, or beate any, and not be lyable to the Law, as other men are? Why should not they be as lyable to their debts as other men? there is no reason: yet have yee stood still, and seen many of us, and some of your selves violently abused without repairation.
Wee desire you to free us from these abuses, and their negative Voices, or else tell us, that it is reasonable wee should be slaves, this being a perpetuall prejudice in our Government, neither consulting with Freedome nor Safety: with Freedome it cannot; for in this way of Voting in all Affaires of the Common-wealth, being not Chosen thereunto by the People, they are therein Masters & Lords of the People, which necessarily implyes the People to be their servants and vassalls, and they have used many of us accordingly, by committing divers to Prison upon their owne Authority, namely William Larner, Liev. Col. John Lilburne, and other worthy Sufferers, who upon Appeale unto you, have not beene relieved.
Wee must therefore pray you to make a Law against all kinds of Arbitrary Government, as the highest capitall offence against the Common-wealth, and to reduce all conditions of men to a certainty, that none hence-forward may presume or plead any thing in way of excuse, and that ye will leave no favour or scruple of Tyranicall Power over us in any whatsoever.
Time hath revealed hidden things unto us, things covered over thick and threefold with pretences of the true Reformed Religion, when as wee see apparently, that this Nation, and that of Scotland, are joyned together in a most bloody and consuming Warre, by the waste and policie of a sort of Lords in each Nation, that were male-contents, and vexed that the King had advanced others, and not themselves to the manageing of State-affaires.
Which they suffered till the King increasing his Oppressions in both Nations, gave them opportunity to reveale themselves, and then they resolve to bring the King to their bow and regulation, and to exclude all those from managing State-affaires that hee had advanced thereunto, and who were growne so insolent and presumptuous, as these discontented ones were lyable to continuall molestations from them, either by practices at Counsel-table, High-Commission, or Starre-chamber.
So as their work was to subvert the Monarchiall Lords and Clergy, and therewithall, to abate the Power of the King, and to Order him: but this was a mighty worke, and they were nowise able to effect it of themselves: therefore (say they,) the generallity of the People must be engaged; and how must this be done? Why say they, wee must associate with that part of the Clergy that are now made underlings, and others of them that have been oppressed, and with the most zealous religious Non-conformists, and by the helpe of these, wee will lay before the Generalitie of the People, all the Popish Innovations in Religion, all the Oppressions of the Bishops and High-Commission, all the exorbitances of the Counsell-board, and Star-chamber, all the injustice of the Chancery, and Courts of Justice, all the illegall Taxations, as Ship-mony, Pattents, and Projects, whereby we shall be sure to get into our Party, the generalitie of the Citie of London, and all the considerable substantiall People of both Nations.
By whose cry and importunity we shall have a Parliament, which wee shall by our manifold wayes, alliant, dependant, and relations soone worke to our purposes.
But (say some) this will never be effected without a Warre, for the King will have a strong party, and he will never submit to us; ’tis not expected otherwise (say they) and great and vaste sums of money must be raised, and Souldiers and Ammunition must be had, whereof wee shall not need to feare any want: for what will not an opprest, rich, and Religious People doe, to be delivered from all kinds of Oppression, both Spirituall and Temporall, and to be restored to purity and freedome in Religion, and to the just liberty of their Persons and Estates?
All our care must be to hold all at our Command and disposing; for if this People thus stirred up by us, should make an end too soon with the King and his party, it is much to be doubted, they would place the Supreme Power in their House of Commons, unto whom only of right it belongeth, they only being chosen by the People, which is so presently discerned, that as wee have a care the King and his Lords must not prevaile; so more especially, wee must be carefull the Supreme Power fall not into the Peoples hands, or House of Commons.
Therefore wee must so act, as not to make an end with the King and his Party, till by expence of time and treasure, a long, bloody and consuming War, decay of trade, and multitudes of the highest Impositions, the People by degrees are tyred and wearied, so as they shall not be able to contest or dispute with us, either about Supreame or inferiour Power; but wee will be able, afore they are aware, to give them both Law and Religion.
In Scotland it will be easie to establish the Presbyteriall Government in the Church, and that being once effected, it will not be much difficult in England, upon a pretence of uniformity in both Nations, and the like, unto which there will be found a Clergy as willing as wee, it giving them as absolute a Ministery over the Consciences of the People, over the Persons and Purses, as wee our selves aime at, or desire.
And if any shall presume to oppose either us or them, wee shall be easily able by the helpe of the Clergy, by our Party in the House of Commons, and by their and our influence in all parts of both Nations, easily to crush and suppress them.
Well (saies some) all this may be done, but wee, without abundance of travell to our selves, and wounding our owne Consciences, for wee must grosly dissemble before God, and all the world will see it in time; for wee can never doe all this that yee aime at, but by the very same oppressions as wee practised by the King, the Bishops, and all those his tyranicall Instruments, both in Religion, and Civill Government.
And it will never last or continue long, the People will see it, and hate you for it, more then ever they hated the former Tyrants and Oppressours: were it not better and safer for us to be just, and really to doe that for the People, which wee pretend, and for which wee shall so freely spend their lives and Estates, and so have their Love, and enjoy the Peace of quiet Consciences?
For (say they) are not Wee a LORD, a Peere of the Kingdom? Have you your Lordship or Peerage, or those Honours and Priviledges that belong thereunto from the love and Election of the People? Your interest is as different from theirs, and as inconsistent with their freedoms, as those Lords and Clergy are, whom wee strive to supplant.
And therefore, rather then satisfie the Peoples expectations in what concernes their Freedoms, it were much better to continue as wee are, and never disturbe the King in his Prerogatives, nor his Lords and Prelates in their Priviledges: and therefore let us be as one, and when wee talke of Conscience, let us make conscience, to make good unto our selves and our Posterities those Dignities, Honours and Preheminencies conveyed unto us by our Noble Progenitours, by all the meanes wee can; not making questions for Conscience sake, or any other things; and if wee be united in our endeavours, and worke wisely, observing when to advance, and when to give ground, wee cannot faile of successe, which will be an honour to our Names for ever.
These are the strong delusions that have been amongst us, and the mystery of iniquity hath wrought most vehemently in all our affaires: Hence it was that Strafford was so long in tryall, and that he had no greater heads to beare his company. Hence it was that the King was not called to an account for his oppressive Government, and that the treachery of those that would have enforced you, was not severely punished.
That the King gained time to raise an Army, and the Queene to furnish Ammunition; that our first and second Army was so ill formed, and as ill managed; Sherburn, Brainford, Exeter, the slender use of the Associate Counties, the slight garding of the sea, Oxford, Dermington, the West Defeate, did all proceed from (and upon) the Mystery of Iniquity.
The King and his Party had been nothing in your hands, had not some of you been engaged, and some of you ensnared, and the rest of you over-borne with this Mystery, which you may now easily perceive, if you have a minde thereunto, that yee were put upon the continuation of this Parliament, during the pleasure of both Houses, was from this Mystery, because in time these Politicians had hopes to worke, and pervert you to forsake the common Interest of those that choose and trusted you to promote their unjust Designe to enslave us; wherein they have prevailed too too much.
For Wee must deale plainly with you, yee have long time acted more like the House of Peers then the House of Commons: Wee can scarcely approach your Door with a Request or motion, though by way of Petition, but yee hold long debates, whether Wee break not your Priviledges; the Kings, or the Lords pretended Prerogatives never made a greater noise, nor was made more dreadfull then the Name of Priviledge of the House of Commons.
Your Members in all Impositions must not be taxed in the places where they live, like other men: Your servants have their Priviledges too. To accuse or prosecute any of you, is become dangerous to the Prosecutors. Yee have imprisonments as frequent for either Witnesses or Prosecutors, as ever the Star-chamber had, and yee are furnished with new devised Arguments, to prove, that yee onely may justly doe these grosse injustices, which the Starre-Chamber, High-Commission, and Counsell-board might not doe.
And for doing whereof (whil’st yee were untainted,) yee abolished them, for yee now frequently commit mens Persons to Prison without shewing Cause; Yee examine men upon Interogatories and Questions against themselves, and Imprison them for refusing to answere: And ye have Officious servile men, that write and publish Sophisticall Arguments to justifie your so doing, for which they are rewarded and countenanced, as the Starre-Chamber and High-Commission-beagles lately were.
Whilst those that ventured their lives for your establishment, are many of them vexed and molested, and impoverished by them; Yee have entertained to be your Committees servants, those very prowling Varlets that were imployed by those unjust Courts, who took pleasure to torment honest conscionable People; yet vex and molest honest men for matters of Religion, and difference with you and your Synod in judgement, and take upon you to determine of Doctrine and Discipline, approving this, and reproaching that, just like unto former ignorant pollitick. and superstitious Parliaments and Convocations: And thereby have divided honest People amongst themselves, by countenancing only those of the Presbitry, and discountenancing all the Separation, Anabaptists and Independents.
And though it resteth in you to acquiet all differences in affection, though not in judgement, by permitting every one to be fully perswaded in their owne mindes, commanding all Reproach to cease; yet as yee also had admitted Machiavells Maxime, Divide & impera, divide and prevaile; yee countenance onely one, open the Printing-presse onely unto one, and that to the Presbytry, and suffer them to raile and abuse, and domineere over all the rest, as if also ye had discovered and digested, That without a powerfull compulsive Presbytry in the Church, a compulsive mastership, or Arristocraticall Government over the People in the State, could never long be maintained.
Whereas truely wee are well assured, neither you, nor none else, can have any into Power at all to conclude the People in matters that concerne the Worship of God, for therein every one of us ought to be fully assured in our owne mindes, and to be sure to Worship him according to our Consciences.
Yee may propose what Forme yee conceive best, and most available for Information and well-being of the Nation, and may perswade and invite thereunto, but compell, yee cannot justly; for ye have no Power from Us so to doe, nor could you have; for we could not conferre a Power that was not in our selves, there being none of us, that can without wilfull sinne binde our selves to worship God after any other way, then what (to a tittle,) in our owne particular understandings, wee approve to be just.
And therefore We could not referre our selves to you in things of this Nature; and surely, if We could not conferre this Power upon you, yee cannot have it, and so not exercise it justly; Nay, as we ought not to revile or reproach any man for his differing with us in judgement, more then wee would be reviled or reproached for ours; even so yee ought not to countenance any Reproachers or revilers, or molesters for matters of Conscience.
But to protect and defend all that live peaceably in the Commonwealth, of what judgement or way of Worship whatsoever; and if ye would bend your mindes thereunto, and leave your selves open to give care, and to consider such things as would be presented unto you, a just way would be discovered for the Peace & quiet of the land in generall, and of every well-minded Person in particular.
But if you lock up your selves from hearing all voices; how is it possible you should try all things. It is not for you to assume a Power to controule and force Religion, or a way of Church Government, upon the People, because former Parliaments have so done; yee are first to prove that yee could have such a Power justly entrusted unto you by the People that trusted you, (which you see you have not,) we may happily be answered, that the Kings Writt that summons a Parliament, and directs the People to choose Knights and Burgesses, implyes the Establishment of Religion.
To which wee answere, that if Kings would prove themselves Lawfull Magistrates, they must prove themselves to be so, by a lawfull derivation of their Authority, which must be from the voluntary trust of the People, and then the case is the same with them, as between the People & you, they as you, being possessed of no more Power then what is in the People justly to intrust, and then all implications in the Writts, of the Establishment of Religion, sheweth that in that particular, as many other, we remain under the Norman yoke of an unlawfull Power, from which wee ought to free our selves; and which yee ought not to maintaine upon us, but to abrogate.
But ye have listned to any Counsells, rather then to the voice of us that trusted you: Why is it that you have stopt the Presse; but that you would have nothing but pleasing flattering Discourses, and go on to make your selves partakers of the Lordship over us, without hearing any thing to the contrary: yea, your Lords and Clergy long to have us in the same condition with our deluded brethren, the Commons of Scotland, where their understandings are so captivated with a Reverend opinion of their Presbytry, that they really beleeve them to be by Divine Authority, and are as zealous therein, as ever the poore deceived Papists were.
As much they live in feare of their thunder-bolts of Excommunication, and good cause they have, poor soules, for those Excommunications are so followed with the civill Sanction, or secular Power, that they are able to crush any opposer or dissenter to dust, to undoe or ruine any man: so absolute a Power hath their new Clergy already gained over the Poore People there, and earnestly labour to bring us into the same condition, because if wee should live in greater Freedome in this Nation, it would (they know,) in time be observed by their People, whose understandings would be thereby informed, and then they would grow impatient of their thraldome, and shake off their yoake.
They are also in no lesse bondage in things Civill, the Lords and great Men over-rule all, as they please; the People are scarce free in any thing.
Friends, these are known Truths.
And hence it is, that in their Counsells here, they adhere to those that maintaine their owne greatnesse, and usurped rule over us, lest if wee should here possesse greater liberty, then their vassalls the People in Scotland, they might in short time observe the same, and discharge themselves of their Oppressions.
It is from the mystery of iniquity, that yee have never made that use of the People of this Nation, in your warre, as you might have done, but have chosen rather to hazard their coming in, then to Arme your owne native undoubted friends; by which meanes they are possessed of too many considerable strengths of this Nation and speak such language in their late published papers, as if they were not payed for their slow assistance.
Whereas yee might have ended the Warre long ere this, if by Sea or Land you had shewed your selves resolved to make us a Free-People; but it is evident, a change of our bondage is the uttermost is intended us, and that too for a worse, and longer; if wee shall be so contended, but it is strange you should imagine.
But the truth is, wee finde none are so much hated by you, as those you thinke doe discerne those your purposes, or that apply themselves unto you, with motions tending to divert you from proceeding therein: for some yeers now, no condition of men can prevaile with you, to ammend any thing that is amisse in the Common-wealth.
The exorbitances in the Cities Government, and the strivings about Prerogatives in the Major and Aldermen, against the Freedoms of the Commons, (and to their extreme prejudice,) are returned to the same point they were at in Garrawayes time, which you observe, and move not, nor assist the Commons; Nay, worse then in his time, they are justified by the Major, in a book published, and sent by him to every Common-Counsell-man.
The oppression of the Turky Company, and the Adventerers Company, and all other infringements of our Native Liberties of the same nature, and which in the beginnings of the Parliament, yee seemed to abhominate, are now by you complyed withall, and licensed to goe on in their Oppressions.
Yee know, the Lawes of this Nation are unworthy a Free People, and deserve from first to last, to be considered, and seriously debated, and reduced to an agreement with common equity, and right reason, which ought to be the Forme and Life of every Government. Magna Charta it self being but a beggerly thing, containing many markes of intollerable bondage, & the Lawes that have been made since by Parliaments, have in very many particulars made our Government much more oppressive and intollerable.
The Norman way for ending of Controversies, was much more abusive then the English way, yet the Conquerour, contrary to his Oath introduced the Norman Lawes, and his litigious and vexatious way amongst us; the like he did also for punishment of malefactours, Controversies of all natures, having before a quick and finall dispatch in every hundred.
He erected a trade of judges and Lawyers, to sell justice and injustice at his owne unconscionable rate, and in what time bee pleased; the corruption whereof is yet remaining upon us, to our continuall impoverishing and molestation; from which we thought you should have delivered us.
Yee know also, Imprisonment for Debt, is not from the beginning; Yet ye thinke not of these many Thousand Persons and Families that are destroyed thereby, yee are Rich, and abound in goods, and have need of nothing; but the afflictions of the poore; your hunger-starved brethren, ye have no compassion of; Your zeal makes a noise as farre as Argiere, to deliver those captived Christians at the charge of others, but those whom your owne unjust Lawes hold captive in your owne Prisons; these are too neere you to thinke of; Nay, yee suffer poor Christians, for whom Christ died to kneel before you in the streets, aged, sick and cripled, begging your halfe-penny Charities, and yee rustle by them in your Coaches and silkes daily, without regard, or taking any course for their constant reliefe, their sight would melt the heart of any Christian, and yet it moves not you nor your Clergy.
Wee intreat you to consider what difference there is, between binding a man to an Oare, as a Gally-slave in Turkie or Argiere, and Pressing of men to serve in your Warre; to surprize a man on the sudden, force him from his Calling, where he lived comfortably, from a good trade; from his dear Parents, Wife or Children, against inclination, disposition to fight for a Cause hee understands not, and in Company of such, as he hath no comfort to be withall; for Pay, that will scarce give him sustenance; and if he live, to returne to a lost trade, or beggery, or not much better: If any Tyranny or cruelty exceed this; it must be worse then that of a Turkish Gally-slave.
But yee are apt to say, What remedy, men wee must have? To which we answer, in behalfe of ourselves, and our too much injured Brethren, that are Pressed; That the Hollanders our provident Neighbours have no such cruelties, esteeming nothing more unjust, or unreasonable, yet they want no men; and if ye would take care, that all sorts of men might find comfort and contentment in your Government, yee would not need to enforce men to serve your Warres.
And if yee would in many things follow their good example, and make this Nation a State, free from the Oppression of Kings, and the corruptions of the Court, and shew love to the People in the Constitutions of your Government, the affection of the People, would satisfie all common and publike Occasions: and in many particulars wee can shew you a remedy for this and all other inconveniences, if wee could find you inclinable to heare us.
Yee are extreamely altered in demeanour towards us, in the beginning yee seemed to know what Freedome was; made a distinction of honest men, whether rich or poor, all were welcome to you, and yee would mix your selves with us in a loving familiar way, void of Courtly observance or behaviour.
Yee kept your Committee doores open, all might heare & judge of your dealings, hardly ye would permit men to stand bareheaded before you, some of you telling them, ye more regarded their health, and that they should not deem of you, as of other domineering Courts, yee and they were one, all Commons of England; and the like ingenious carriage, by which ye wanne our affections to that height, that ye no sooner demanded any thing but it was effected; yee did well then, who did hinder you? the mystery of iniquity, that was it that perverted your course.
What a multitude of precious lives have been lost? What a masse of moneys have been raised? What one way was proposed to advance moneys, that was refused by you, though never so prejudiciall to the People, allowing your Committees to force men to pay or lend, or else to sweare that they were not worth so or so: the most destructive course to tradesmen, that could be devised, fifty intire subsidies, to be lent throughout London, if not procured, yet authorized by you; never the like heard of, and the Excise that being once setled, all other assessments should cease.
Notwithstanding in few moneths comes forth Ordinance upon Ordinance for more moneys, and for the Customes, they were thought an oppression in the beginning, and being (so high,) an hinderance to Trade, and extreamly prejudiciall to the Nation, neverthelesse is now confirmed, with many augmentations, in so much as men of inferiour trading finde great trouble to provide moneys for Customes, and have so many Officers to please, that it is a very slavery to have any thing to doe with them, and no remedy; the first Commissioners being more harsh and ingenious, then the late Farmers, and the last worse then the former.
Truly it is a sad thing, but too true, a plaine quiet-minded man in any place in England, is just like a harmelesse sheep in a Thicket, can hardly move or stirre, but hee shall be strech’d, and loose his wooll: such Committees have ye made in all Cities and Counties, and none are so ill used as honest Godly men.
Ye have now sate full five yeeres, which is foure yeeres longer then wee intended, for wee could choose you but for (at most) one yeere; and now we wish ye would publish to all the world, the good that you have done for us, the liberty ye have brought us unto: if yee could excuse your selves, as ye use to doe; by saying it hath been a time of warre; that will not doe: for when the warre might in the beginning have been prevented, if yee had drawn a little more blood from the right veine, and might often (ere this) have been ended.
Occasion hath been given away, and Treated away, and now, when through the faithfulnesse of the New Modell, yee have almost forc’d an end, and have no great part to effect: now againe, at the instigation of those that love their Kings more then all this Nation, and their owne, his Sacred or holy Majestie, must againe be treated with, their Nationall and Solemne League and Covenant with their God, binding them to be respecters of Persons in judgement: and to preserve His Person in the defence of the true Protestant Religion, and Libertie of the People; that hath constantly against all perswasion and Obligation, done what ever he could to subvert both: if this be not the height of the mystery of iniquitie, what is higher.
But let not these be deceived, nor thus under zealous expressions deceive you; wee wish your soules may no further enter into their secret: For God will not be mocked, nor suffer such grosse Hypocrisie to passe without exemplary punishment: And if yee beleeve there is a God; yee must beleeve it; and if yee doe beleeve it, and consider the wayes yee have troad, and truely repent, shew it by walking contrary to what yee have done, or purposed to doe, and let us quickly and speedily partake thereof: For God is a God that taketh vengeance, and will not suffer you to goe on to our ruine.
Wee have some hopes ye will; for amongst you, there have been alwayes faithfull and Worthy men, whose aboundant grief it hath been to observe the strange progresse of the Chosen men of the Common-wealth, and have strove exceedingly on all occasions to produce better effects, and some Christians of late produced to their praise.
Others there are, that have been onely misled by the policies, and stratagems of politick men, and these, after this our serious advice, will make you more seriously studdie the common Interrest of this Nation: others there are, and those a great number, that are newly chosen into your house, and wee trust are such as will exceedingly strengthen the good part, that hitherto hath been too weake to steere an even course amidst so many oppositions and crosse waves.
But henceforth joyn’d all in one will be able to doe and carry on whatsoever is just and good for the Common-wealth, the more just and good, the more easily effected, for such things are easily to be made evident to all men, and can never faile of the uttermost assistance of all well-minded People.
And therefore wee would not have you to be discouraged in attempting whatsoever is evidently just, for Wee will therein assist you to the last drop of our bloods: Feare neither the Anakims, nor the sonnes of the Gyants, For the LORD our God, hee will stand by you in all things that are just, and will blesse and prosper you therein.
Forsake, and utterly renounce all craftie and subtill intentions; hide not your thoughts from Us, and give us encouragement to be open-breasted unto you: Proclaime afore-hand, what yee determine to doe, in establishing any thing for continuance; and heare all things that can be spoken with or against the same, and to that intent, let the imprisoned Presses at liberty, that all mens understandings may be more conveniently informed, and convinced, as faire as is possible by the equity of your Proceedings.
Wee cannot but expect to be delivered from the Norman bondage, whereof wee now as well as our Predecessours, have felt the smart by these bloody warres; and from all unreasonable lawes made ever since that unhappy conquest; as wee have encouragement, wee shall informe you further, and guide you, as we observe your doings.
The Worke yee must note is ours, and not your owne, though ye are to be partakers with us in the well or ill doing thereof: and therefore ye must expect to heare more frequently from us then yee have done, nor will it be your wisedome to take these Admonitions and Cautions in evill part.
If yee consider well, yee may wonder Wee are no tarter: Ye may perceive, wee have not yet left our true English confidence, but are willing that both you, and all our Neighbour Nations should know, that wee both see and know all stratagems and Policies that are laid in waite to entrap, and so to enslave us, and that wee bid defyance to their worst our enemies can doe; we know wee have stoore of friends in our Neighbour Countries.
Our head is not yet so intoxicated with this New mystery of Iniquity, but that a reasonable Cordiall Administered by your hand, will set us fast in our seat.
Yee are not to reckon that yee have any longer time to effect the Great Worke wee have entrusted unto you: for wee must not loose our free choice of a Parliament once every yeer, fresh and fresh for a continuall Parliament.
For so, if a present Parliament be mistaken in their understandings, and doe things prejudiciall, We may so long remain under these prejudices, that the Common-wealth. may be endangered thereby, nor doe wee value a Trieniall Parliament: before three yeeres come to an end, Grievances and Mischiefes may be past remedy.
And therefore our advice is, that yee Order a meeting of the chosen of Parliament-men, to be expresly upon one certaine day in November yeerly throughout the Land in the Places accustomed, and to be by you expressed, there to make choice of whom they think good, according to Law, and all men that have a Right to be there, not to faile upon a great penaltie but no summons to be expected.
And if any Person without exception, shall write Letters, or use any endeavours to incline the choosers to choose any man, or use any meanes to disturbe or pervert them from a free Choice, then that all such sinister dealing be made punishable, or a most haynous crime.
And that a Parliament so chosen in November, succeeding yeere by yeere, may come instead of the preceeding Parliament, and proceed with the Affaires of the Common-Wealth; nor would wee have it in the Power of our Parliament, to receive any Member from his Place or service of the House, without the consent had of those Counties, Cities and Burroughs respectively that choose him; great inconveniences depending thereon, whereof wee have scene and felt too much.
Now, if yee shall conscionably performe your Trust the yeer ensuing, and order the Parliaments to succeed as aforesaid, then Wee shall not doubt to be made absolute Free-men in time, and become a just, plenteous and Powerfull Nation; All that is past will be forgotten, and Wee shall yet have cause to rejoyce in your Wisedome and Fidelity.
Moreover, as for me, God forbid that I should sinne against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and right way. Onely feare the LORD, and serve him in Truth with all your heart: For considder how great things He hath done for you. But if yee still doe wickedly, yee shall be consumed, both yee and your King. 1 Sam. 22, 23, 24, 25.