70. The King's third answer to the Propositions presented at Newcastle.

[May 12, 1647. Journals of the House of Lords, ix. 193. See Great Civil War, iii. 252.]

Charles R.

As the daily expectation of the coming of the Propositions[1] hath made His Majesty this long time to forbear the giving of his answer unto them, so the appearance of their sending being now no more, for any thing he can hear, than it was at his first coming hither[2], notwithstanding that the Earl of Lauderdale hath been at London these ten days[3] (whose not coming was said to be the only stop), hath caused His Majesty thus to anticipate their coming unto him; and yet, considering his condition, that his servants are denied access to him, all but very few, and those by appointment, not his own election, and that it is a declared crime for any but the Commissioners, or such who are particularly permitted by them, to converse with His Majesty; or that any letters should be given to or received from him; may he not truly say that he is not in case fit to make confessions or give answers, since he is not master of those ordinary actions which are the undoubted rights of every free-born man, how mean soever his birth be. And certainly he would still be silent on this subject until his condition were much mended (did he not prefer such a right understanding between him and his Parliament of both kingdoms, which may make a firm and lasting peace in all his dominions, before any particular of his own or any earthly blessing), and therefore His Majesty hath diligently employed his utmost endeavours (for divers months past) so to inform his understanding and satisfy his conscience, that he might be able to give such answers to the Propositions as would be most agreeable to his Parliaments; but he ingenuously proposes that, notwithstanding all the pains that he hath taken thereon, the nature of some of them appears such unto him, that (without disclaiming that reason which God hath given him to judge by for the good of him and his people, and without putting the greatest violence upon his own conscience) he cannot give his consent to all of them; yet His Majesty (that it may appear to all the world how desirous he is to give full satisfaction) hath thought fit hereby to express his readiness to grant what he may, and his willingness to receive from them, and that personally, if his two Houses at Westminster shall approve thereof, such further information in the rest, as may but convince his judgment and satisfy those doubts which are not yet clear to him; desiring them also to consider that, if His Majesty intended to wind himself out of these troubles by indirect means, were it not most easy for him now readily to consent to whatsoever hath or shall be proposed unto him, and afterwards choose his time to break all, alleging that forced concessions are not to be kept: — surely he might, and not yet incur a hard censure from any indifferent men. But maxims of this kind are not the guides of His Majesty's actions; for he freely and clearly avows that he holds it unlawful for any man, and most base in a King, to recede from his promises for having been obtained by force or under restraint.

Wherefore His Majesty, not only rejecting those arts which he esteems unworthy of him, but even passing by that which he might well insist upon as a point of honour, in respect of his present condition, thus answers the first Proposition:

That, upon His Majesty's coming to London, he will heartily join in all that shall concern the honour of his two kingdoms or the Assembly of States of Scotland, or of the Commissioners or Deputies of either kingdoms, particularly in those things which are desired in that Proposition; upon confidence that all of them respectively with the same tenderness will look upon those things which concern His Majesty's honour.

In answer to all the Propositions concerning religion, His Majesty proposeth that he will confirm the Presbyterial government, the Assembly of Divines at Westminster, and the Directory, for three years (being the time set down by the two Houses), so that His Majesty and his household be not hindered from using that form of God's service which they have formerly; and also that a free consultation and debate be had with the Divines at Westminster (twenty of His Majesty's nomination being added unto them), whereby it may be determined by His Majesty and the two Houses, how the Church shall be governed after the said three years, or sooner if differences may be agreed.

Touching the Covenant, His Majesty is not therein yet satisfied, and desires to respite his particular answer thereunto until his coming to London: because, it being a matter of conscience, he cannot give a resolution therein till he may be assisted with the advice of some of his own chaplains (which hath hitherto been denied him), and such other divines as shall be most proper to inform him therein; and then he will make clearly appear both his zeal to the Protestant profession and the union of these two kingdoms, which he conceives to be the main drift of the Covenant.

To the seventh and eighth Propositions, His Majesty will consent.

To the ninth, His Majesty doubts not but to give good satisfaction, when he shall be particularly informed how the said penalties shall be levied and disposed of.

To the tenth, His Majesty's answer is, that he hath been always ready to prevent the practices of Papists; and therefore is content to pass an Act of Parliament for that purpose, and also that the laws against them be duly executed.

His Majesty will give his consent to the Act for the due observation of the Lord's Day, for the suppression of innovations, and those concerning the preaching of God's Word, and touching non-residence and pluralities.

And His Majesty will be willing to pass such Act or Acts as shall be requisite to raise moneys for the payment and satisfying of all public debts: expecting also that his will be therein concluded.

As to the Proposition touching the militia: though His Majesty cannot consent unto it in terminis as it is proposed (because thereby, he conceives, he wholly parts with the power of the sword intrusted to him by God and the laws of the land for the protection and government of his people, thereby at once divesting himself, and disinheriting his posterity of that right and prerogative of the Crown which is absolutely necessary to the kingly office, and so weakening monarchy in this kingdom that little more than the name and shadow of it will remain), yet, if it be only security for the preservation of the peace of this kingdom after these unhappy troubles, and the due performance of all the agreements which are now to be concluded, which is desired (which His Majesty always understood to be the case, and hopes that herein he is not mistaken), His Majesty will give abundant satisfaction; to which end he is willing to consent, by Act of Parliament, that the whole power of the militia, both by sea and land, for the space of ten years, be in such persons as the two Houses of Parliament shall nominate (giving them power, during the said term, to change the said persons, and to substitute others in their places at pleasure), and afterwards to return to the proper channel again, as it was in the times of Queen Elizabeth and King James of blessed memory. And now His Majesty conjures his two Houses of Parliament, as they are Englishmen and lovers of peace, by the duty they owe to His Majesty their King, and by the bowels of compassion they have to their fellow-subjects, that they will accept of this His Majesty's offer, whereby the joyful news of peace may be restored to this languishing kingdom. His Majesty will grant the like to the kingdom of Scotland, if it be desired; and he will agree to all things that are propounded touching the conserving of peace between the two kingdoms.

Touching Ireland, other things being agreed, His Majesty will give satisfaction therein.

As to the mutual declarations proposed to be established in both kingdoms by Act of Parliament, and the qualifications, modifications and branches, which follow in the Propositions, His Majesty only professes that he doth not sufficiently understand, nor is able to reconcile many things contained in them; but this he well knows, that a general act of oblivion is the best bond of peace, and that after intestine trouble, the wisdom of this and other kingdoms hath usually and happily, in all ages, granted general pardons, whereby the numerous discontentments of many persons and families otherwise exposed to ruin might not become fuel to new disorders, or seed of future troubles. His Majesty therefore desires that his two Houses of Parliament would seriously descend into these considerations, and likewise tenderly look upon his condition herein, and the perpetual dishonour that must cleave to him, if he should thus abandon so many persons of condition and fortune that have engaged themselves with and for him out of a sense of duty; and propounds, as a very acceptable testimony of their affection to him, that a general act of oblivion and full pardon be forthwith passed by Act of Parliament.

Touching the new Great Seal, His Majesty is very willing to confirm both it and all acts done by virtue thereof until this present time; so that it be not thereby pressed to make void those acts of his done by virtue of his Great Seal, which in honour and justice he is obliged to maintain; and that the future government thereof may be in His Majesty, according to the due course of law.

Concerning the officers mentioned in the 17th Article, His Majesty, when he shall come to Westminster, will gratify his Parliament all that possibly he may, without destroying the relations which are necessary to the Crown.

His Majesty will willingly consent to the Act for the confirmation of the privileges and customs of the City of London, and all that is mentioned in the Propositions for their particular advantage.

And now that His Majesty hath thus far endeavoured to comply with the desires of his two Houses of Parliament, to the end that this agreement may be firm and lasting, without the least force or question of restraint to blemish the same, His Majesty earnestly desires presently to be admitted to his Parliament at Westminster, with that honour which is due to their Sovereign, there solemnly to confirm the same, and legally to pass the Acts before mentioned; and to give and receive as well satisfaction in all the remaining particulars, as likewise such other pledges of mutual love, trust and confidence, as shall most concern the good and prosperity of him and his people, upon which happy agreement His Majesty will despatch his directions to the Prince his son, to return immediately to him, and will undertake for his ready obedience thereunto.

[1] The Houses had for gome time been engaged in amending the Propositions Bent to Newcastle, but had been interrupted by their quarrel with the army.

[2] I e. Holmby House.

[3] As a Scottish Commissioner.

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