Note: This is part of the Leveller Collection of Tracts and Pamphlets.
T.130 [1648.01.22] Anon. (possiby Overton), The Mournfull Cryes of many thousand Poore Tradesmen (22 January, 1648).
Anon., The Mournfull Cryes of many thousand Poore Tradesmen, who are ready to famish through decay of Trade. Or, the warning Teares of the Oppressed.
22 January, 1648.
TT1, p. 586; Thomason 669. f. 11. (116.)
(Placeholder: Text will be added later.)
OH that the cravings of our Stomacks could bee heard by the Parliament and City! Oh that the Teares of our poore famishing Babes were botled! Oh that their tender Mothers Cryes for bread to feed them were ingraven in brasse! Oh that our pined Carkasses were open to every pittifull Eye! Oh that it were knowne, that wee sell our Beds and cloaths for Bread! Oh our Hearts faint and wee are ready to swoone in the top of every Street.
O you Members of Parliament and rich men in the City, that are at ease, and drinke Wine in Bowles, and stretch your selves upon Beds of downe, you that grind our faces and Flay off our skins, will no man amongst you regard, will no man behold our faces black with Sorrow and Famine, is there none to Pity. The Sea-monster drawes out the brest and gives suck to their young ones, and are our Rulers become cruell like the Ostrich in the Wildernesse, Lament. 4. 3.
OH yee Great men of ENGLAND, will not (thinke you) the righteous GOD behold our Affliction, doth not hee take notice that you devour us as if our Flesh were Bread? are not most of you eyther Parliament-men, Commitee-men, Customers, Excize-men, Treasurers, Gouernours of Townes and Castles, or Commanders in the Army, Officers in those Dens of Robbery the Courts of Law? and are not your Kinsmen and allies, Collectors of the Kings revenue, or the Bishops rents, or Sequestrators? what then are your ruffling Silkes and Velvets, and your glittering Gold and Silver Laces, are they not the sweat of our Browes, and the wants of our backes and bellies?
Its your Taxes, Customes, and Excize, that compells the Country to raise the price of Food, and to buy nothing from us but meere absolute necessaries; and then you of the City that buy our Worke, must have your Tables furnished, and your Cups overflow; and therefore will give us little or nothing for our Worke, even what you* please, because you know wee must sell for monyes to set our Families on worke, or else wee famish: Thus our Flesh is that whereupon you Rich men live, and wherewith you decke and adorne your selves. Yee great men, is it not your Plenty and abundance which begets you Pride and Riot? and doe not your Pride beget Ambition, and your ambition Faction, and your faction these Civill broyles; what else but your Ambition and Faction continue our Distractions and Oppressions? Is not all the Controversie whose Slaves the poore shall bee? Whether they shall be the Kings vassalles, or the Presbyterians, or the Independant factions? and is not the Contention nourished, that you whose Houses are full of the spoiles of your Countrey, might be secure from Accompts, while there is nothing but Distraction, and that by the tumultuousnesse of the People under prodigious oppression. you might have faire Pretences to keepe up an Army, and Garrisons, and that under pretence of necessitie you may uphold your arbitrary Government by Committees, &c.
Have you not upon such pretences brought an Army into the bowels of the City, and now Exchange doth rise already beyond Sea, and no Marchants beyond Sea will trust their Goods hither, and our owne Marchants conveigh their* Estates from hence, so there is likely to bee no importing of Goods, and then there will be no Exporting, and then our Trade will bee utterly Lost, and our Families perish as it were in a moment.
O yee Parliament men heare our dying Cry,The Merchants have already kept back from the Tower, many hundred thousand pounds, and no bullion is brought into the Tower, so that money will be more scarce daily. settle the Common-wealth, settle the Common-wealth! strive not who shall bee greatest untill you be all confounded. You may if you will presently de termine where the supreame Power resides, and settle the Iust common Freedomes of the Nation, so that all Parties may equally receive Iustice and injoy their Right, and every one may bee as much concerned as other to defend those common Freedomes; you may presently put downe your Arbitrary Committees and let us be Governed by plaine written Lawes in our owne Tongue, and pay your ministers of Iustice out of a common, Treasurie, that every one may have Iustice freely and impartially.
You have in your hands the Kings, Queenes, and Princes revenue, and Papists Lands, and Bishops, and Deanes, and Chapters lands, and Sequestred lands, at least to the value of Eighteene hundred thousand Pounds by the yeare. Which is at least five hundred Thousand pounds a yeare more then will pay the Navie and all the Army, and the Forces which need to bee kept up in England and Ireland; and out of that the Kingdomes debts would bee payd yearely; whereas now you runne further into Debt daily, and pay One thousand pounds by the Day at least for use Money; besides you may if you will Proclaime Liberty, for all to come and discover to a Committee of dis-ingaged men, chosen out of every County, one for a County to discover to them what Monies and Treasure, your owne Members and your Sequestrators, &c. have in their hands, and you may by that meanes find many Millions of money to pay the Publique debts. You may find 30000. l. in Mr. Richard Darley’s hand 25000. l. in Mr. Thorpes hands*, a Member of Yours who first Proclaimed Sir John Hotham Traytor. And thus you may take off all Taxes presently, and so secure Peace, that Trading may revive and our Pining, hungry, famishing Families bee saved.
And O yee Souldiers who refused to Disband, because you would have Iustice and Freedome, who Cryed till the Earth ecchoed Iustice, Iustice; forget not that Cry, but cry speedily for Peace and Iustice, Louder then ever. There is a large Petition of some pitifull men that’s now abroad, which containes all our desires, and were that Granted in all things, wee should have Trading againe, and should not need to begge our Bread, though those men have so much mercy as they would have none to cry in the streets for Bread.
Oh though you bee Souldiers, shew bowels of Mercy and Pity to a hunger starved People; Goe downe to the Parliament, desire them to consume and trifle away no more time, but offer your desires for Vs in that large Petition, and cry Iustice, Iustice; Save, save, save the Perishing people; O cry thus till your importunity make them heare you.
O Parliament men, and Souldiers! Necessity dissolves all Lawes and Government, and Hunger will break: through stone walls, Tender Mothers will sooner devoure You, then the Fruit of their owne wombe, and hunger regards no Swords nor Cannons. It may be some great oppressours intends tumults that they may escape in a croud, but your food may then be wanting as well as ours, and your Armes will bee hard diet. O hearke, hearke at our doores how our children cry Bread, bread, bread, and we now with bleeding hearts, cry, once more to you, pity, pity, an oppressed inslaved people: carry our cries in the large petition to the Parliament, and tell them if they be still deafe; the Teares of the oppressed will wash away the foundations of their houses. Amen, Amen so be it.
[* ] And since the late Lord Major Adams, you have put in execution an illegall, wicked Decree of the Common Councell; whereby you have taken our goods from us, if we have gone to the Innes to sell them to Countrimen; and you have murdered some of our poore wives that have gone to Innes to find Cuontrimen to buie them.
[* ] M William Lenthall, Speaker of the House, to cover his cozenage, gave two and twenty thousand pounds to his servant M. Cole, to purchase Land in his own name, though for his use; which hee did, and then dyed suddenly, and the Land fell to his Sonne, and the widow having married a Lawyer, keeps the Land for the childs use, and saith he knowes not that his predecessor received any monie from the Speaker, and now Master Speaker sueth in Chancery for the Land. A hundred such discoveries might be made.