Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

scoffs and invectives against our law, and threats to take it away ; but the law is above the reach of those weapons, which at one time or another will return upon those that use them. Solid arguments, strong reasons, and authorities, are more fit for confutation of any error, and satisfaction of different judgments. When the emperor took a bishop in complete armour in a battle, he sent the armour to the pope, with this word : Heccine sunt vestes filii tui ? so may I say to those gentlemen abroad as to their railings, taunts, and threats, against the law, Heccine sunt argumenta horum antinomianorum ? They will be found of no force, but recoiling arms. Nor is it ingenuous or prudent for Englishmen to deprave their birth-right, the laws of their own country.

But to return to the matter in debate : I can find neither strangeness nor foresee great inconvenience by passing this act; and therefore, if the house shall think fit to have the question put for the passing of it, I am ready to give my affirmative,

JOHN THURLOE, (Author of the State Papers, and confidential Secretary

to Cromwell,)

Was born in 1616, and died in 1668. The following speech of

his is interesting, as it shews the temper of the times; it is shrewd. and vulgar enough.

Mr. Thurloe's Speech.

Mr. Speaker, The scope of this bill is to set an extraordinary tax ' upon the old delinquent party, with a retrospect by way of approbation of what hath been done of this kind by his highness and the council ; so that we are to consider,

1, What reasons his highness and council had to lay the charge.

2, Upon what grounds it shall be continued by act of parliament.

What moves me to speak in it is, the place I have the honour to bear. The occasion was, the last insurrection made by the old delinquent party. . Who these old delinquents are, I suppose nobody needs any informa. tion; they are described in the bill to be those who were in arms for the late king against the parliament, or for Charles Stewart, the son; or have adhered to, assisted, or abetted, the forces raised against the par. liament; or whose estates have been sequestered for de. linquency.

You know, Sir, much better than I, and so do most men here, what the design was before the long parlia. ment, it was to alter our religion, and to subvert the fundamental laws.

The bishops, so they might enslave our consciences, and have us at their will to impose their ceremonies, which were but inlets to popery, were content we should be at the king's will for our persons and estates. I remember myself, and many here remember much better, how many were banished into foreign parts, that they might serve God without fear, which they could not do here. Many good ministers were imprisoned, others silenced. If two or three christians met together to pray, this was a conventicle, and they were haled before the then powers.

I fear these things are forgotten, and we value not the liberty we have in these cases. I know what thoughts we had then, that that was the design.

And so in the state, the prerogative was very high, but the people's liberty was very low. We have not forgot the German horse that were to be brought over, and the army in Ireland, that was to be raised to en. slave them first and then to do the same here. What was doing in Scotland, many gentlemen here, I doubt

use.

not, that rejoice to see this day, can tell you large stories of.

Parliaments were set aside. How many had ye between 3 and 16 Car. in 13 years together? Not one! No, they had got a way to govern without parliaments, and the laws in Westminster Hall began to be of little

The judges that were honest and true to the people's liberties, were either removed or discountenanced, that ad placitum regis sint sententia legis. Other courts flourished: the marches of Wales, the presidentship of York, the star chamber, the councilboard, the high commission, and, I am loth to name, the chancery ; but good use was made of that, too, for their purposes, that were arbitrary ; and the design was to rack all things, so that a man could not to be met with there that would hear reason.

The truth was, the design was to govern us by a power that might be turned against us; and it was said, quod placuit principi, legis vim habet.

Things were almost become desperate, and all men who loved their country thought, all, either of suffering or of Aying; this, I say, was the first design. To do an arbitrary act out of necessity to save the whole, that's another thing; but this was matter of choice.

In this conjuncture of affairs, the long parliament comes, questions the king's counsellors, undertakes the cause of the nation, and advises the king. Instead of listening to them, he takes the advantage of raising an army in prosecution of his former design, and to defend those who were the instruments thereof. A great part of the nation whom he and his counsellors had debauched, and who were seasoned with the same principles, in hatred to the spirit of reformation and liberty, which appeared in the parliament adhered to him, took up arms with him, and in his cause; and I believe nobody here hath forgot how much blood and treasure this course hath cost this nation in a ten years war, for near so long hath this party of men held up their cause VOL I.

19

aforesaid against the good people of this land by an open war; and what havock hath been made of the lives and estates of many a good patriot during this time, is yet to be lamented; and the loss of your relations, the emptiness of your purses, exhausted in this war, the signal deliverances which God hath given you, will not suffer you to forget what our condition had been if we had been given up into the hands of these

men.

These are the men, sir, this is the old delinquent that we have to do with in this bill.

In the management of this war we have had many divisions and subdivisions amongst ourselves.,

In the church, presbyterians, independents, anabaptists; in the state, bad commonwealths men; such as mercenary soldiers, lawyers, fifth monarchy men, every one labouring for their own interests; but none of all these are now in question. But 'tis the old enemy, men that would bring in the hierarchy again, and with it popery ; persecution for conscience sake, bring in tyranny over our persons and estates; who endeavoured to have made the land desolate rather than not have brought this to pass ; brought in all manner of profaneness and debauchery. I wish we do not forget what manner of men they were ; we did all once agree against them, and I hope we shall do so again so long as they retain their old principles.

I say, the worst in this bill is, to make these men pay an extraordinary tax for the support of the public charge.

Ay, but 'tis said they have compounded, many of them, for their delinquency, and they have had an act of oblivion, and are now, in justice, to be looked upon as the rest of the nation.

That, sure, is not hard to answer : their composition was but for what they had done—sure it was not for all they should do ! The pardon was but of offences past; it was not like the pope's pardons, that are of all sins committed and to be committed ; so that if they be guilty of new offences, it is just to subject them to new penalties, and they to be dealt with as if they had made no composition, nor had any such pardon granted them. But then the greater question is, what these men have done which may justly cancel their former grants, and how this comes to be a common cause? If some of them have offended, must all suffer?

In answer to this, I would premise two things :

1. The question is not about confiscation of life and estate, which the former war subjected them to, and which, without their composition or pardon might have. been inflicted; that offence was capital : but it is only, whether they shall pay somewhat more to the public charge then those that have been of the other party?

2. Exception is propounded to those who either have, or shall give evidence of, their having forsaken their former interest.

The onus probandi is put on their side, and many have had the fruit of this. His highness and the council having had good satisfaction concerning many of them, have discharged their decimation, and I suppose this bill is not, or ought not to reach to these ; so that the question will not be of every individual man, but of such only as have not, nor can give, any testimony of their having changed their interests and principles; on the contrary, have given a just ground of suspicion that they do retain them.

For those who have actually had a hand in designing, contriving, acting, or abetting in the late insurrection, and can be convicted thereof by testimony, that is under another consideration, and will not be pertinent to be spoken of under this head.

Then to answer that question, What have they done? It's true, there was an insurrection, and of some of the party, Wagstaffe, Wilmott, &c. ; but are all there. fore to be punished ? What hath the whole party done? This I would say in general, that the old de. linquent party have not only the same intentions that

a

« PreviousContinue »