« PreviousContinue »
the greatest loss in the world. But let us still be wise, be humble ; let us make a fair declaration to the king.
Let us presently inform his majesty, that our firm intents were to shew him in what danger the commonwealth and state of christendom stands, and therefore, since our councils are no better acceptable, let us beg his majesty's leave, every man, to depart home, and pray to God to divert those judgments and dangers which too fearfully and imminently hang over our heads.
(The celebrated Poet,)
Was born 1605, and died in 1687. He was member for St. Ives.
At first he was hostile to the court ; but he seems to have been very wavering and undecided in his political opinions, and changed his party very often, according to his whim or convenience. I do pot think there is any thing in the following speech very excelfent, either for the matter or manner of it.
Mr. Waller's Speech on the Supply.
Mr. Speaker, I will use no preface, as they do who prepare men for something in which they have a particular interest. I will only propose what I conceive fit for the house to consider, and shall be no more concerned in the event than they that shall hear me.
Two things I observe in his majesty's demands, first, the supply, secondly, your speedy dispatch thereof.
Touching the first, his majesty's occasions for money are but too evident : for to say nothing how we are neglected abroad, and distracted at home, the calling of this parliament, and our sitting here (an effect which
no light cause in these times hath produced) is enough to make any reasonable man believe, that the exchequer abounds not so much with money, as the state doth in occasions to use it ; and I hope we shall appear willing to disprove those who have thought to dissuade his majesty from this way of parliaments as uncertain, and to let him see that it is as ready and more safe for the advancement of his affairs, than any new or pretended old way whatsoever.
For the speedy dispatch required, which was the second thing, not only his majesty but res ipsa loquitur. The occasion seems to importune no less ; necessity is come upon us like an armed man.
The use of parliaments heretofore, as appears by the writs that call us hither, was to advise with his majesty, of things concerning the church and commonwealth. And it hath ever been the custom of parliaments, by good and wholesome laws, to refresh the commonwealth in general, yea, and to descend into the remedies of par. ticular grievances, before any mention made of a supply. Look back upon the best parliaments, and still you shall find, that the last acts are for the free gifts of subsidies on the people's part, and general pardons on the king's part. Even the wisest kings have first acquainted their parliaments with their designs, and the reasons thereof, and then demanded the assistance both of their counsel and purses. But physicians, though they be called of the latest, must not stomach it, or talk what might have been, but apply themselves roundly to the cure. Let us not stand too nicely upon circumstances, nor too rigidly postpone the matter of supply to the healing of our lighter wounds. Let us do what possibly may be done, with reason and honesty on our part, to comply with his majesty's desires, and to prevent the imminent evils that threaten us; consider that they who think themselves already undone, can never apprehend themselves in danger, and they that have nothing left can never give freely ; nor shall we ever discharge the trust
of those that sent us hither, or make them believe that they contribute to their own defence and safety, unless his majesty be pleased first to restore them to the property of their goods and lawful liberties whereof they esteem themselves. now out of possession One need not tell you that property of goods is the mother of courage, and the nurse of industry ; it makes is valiant in war, and industrious in peace. The experience I have of former parliaments, and my present observation of the care the country has had to chuse persons of Svorth and courage, make me think this house like the Spartans,
, whose forward valour required some softer music to allay and quiet their spirits, too much moved with the sound of martial instruments. 'Tis not the fear of imprisonment, or if need be, of death itself, can keep a true hearted Englishman from the care, to leave this part of his inheritance as entire to his posterity, as he received it from his ancestors.
This therefore let us first do, and that speedily, that we may come to the matter of supply. Let us give new force to the old laws, which have been heretofore for the maintaining of our rights and privileges, and endea. vour to restore this nation to its fundamental and vital liberties, the property of our goods, and the freedom of our persons; no way doubting, but that we shall find his majesty as gracious and ready as any of his royal proge. nitors have been, to grant our just desires therein. For not only the people do think, but the wisest do know, that what we have suffered in this long vacancy of parli. aments, we have suffered from his ministers; that the person of no king was ever better beloved of his people, and yet that no people were ever less satisfied with the present ways of levying money. These are two truths which may serve, the one to demonstrate the other; for such is the opposition to the present courses, that neither the admiration they have of his majesty's natural incli. nation to justice and clemency, nor the pretended con. sent of the judges, could make them willingly submit
themselves to this late tax of ship money ; and such is their natural love and just esteem of his majesty's goodness, that no late pressure could provoke them, nor any example invite them, to disloyalty or disobedience. What is it, then, that hath bred this misunderstanding betwixt the king and his people ? How is it that, having so good a king, we have so much to complain of? Why, Mr. Speaker, we are told of the son of Solomon, that he was a prince of a tender heart, and yet by the, advice of violent counsellors how rough an answer he gave to his people, that his fingers should be as heavy as his father's loins : this was not his own, but the voice of some persons about him, that wanted the gravity and moderation requisite for the counsellors of a young king.
I wonder at those that seem to doubt the success of this parliament, or that the misunderstanding between the king and his people should last any longer, when now they are so happily met. His majesty's wants are not so great, but that we may find means to supply him, nor our desires so unreasonable or incompatible with government, but that his majesty might well satisfy them; for our laté experience, I hope, will teach us what rocks to shun, and how necessary the use of moderation is; and for his majesty, he has had experience enough how that prospers which is gotten without the concurrent good will of his people : never more money taken from the subject, never more want in the inchequer. · If we look upon what has been paid, it is more than usually the people of England were wont to pay in such a time. If we look upon what has been effected there with, it shews as if never king had been worse supplied; so that we seem to have endeavoured the filling of a sieve with water. Whosoever gave advice for these courses, has made good the saying of the wise man, Qui conturbut domum suam, possidebit ventum. By new Ways they think to accomplish wonders, but, in truth, they grasp the wind, and are at the same time cruel to us and to the king too; for let the commonwealth flou
rish, and then he that hath the sovereignty can never want nor do amiss ; so as he governs not according to the interest of others, but goes the shortest and easiest way to his own and the common good.
The kings of this nation have always governed by parliament; and if we look upon the success of things since parliaments were laid by, it resembles that of the Grecians.
Ex illo fluere & retro sublapse referri,
Res Danaumespecially on the subjects' parts ; for though the king hath gotten little, they have lost all. But his majesty shall now hear the truth from us; and we shall make appear the errors of divines, who would persuade us that a monarch must be absolute, and that he may do all things ad libitum ; receding not only from their text, though that be a wandering too, but from the way their own profession might teach them ; stare super vias antiquas, and not to remove the ancient bounds and land. marks, which our fathers have set. If to be absolute were to be restrained by no laws, then can no king in christendom be so; for they all stand obliged to the law's christian, and we ask no more; for to this pillar is our government fixed; our kings, at their coronation, taking a sacred oath to secure us.
I am sorry these men take no more care to gain our belief of those things, which they tell us for our soul's health, while we know them so manifestly in the wrong in that which concerns the liberties and privileges of the subjects of England; but they gain preferment, and then it is no matter though they neither believe themselves, nor are believed by others; yet, since they are so ready to let loose the conscience of their king, we are the more carefully to provide for our protection against this pulpit law, by declaring and reinforcing the municipal laws of the kingdom. It is worthy the observing, how new this opinion, or rather this way of rising is, even amongst