78. The King's reply to the Four Bills and the accompanying Propositions.

[December 28, 1647. Old Parliamentary History, xvi. 483. See Great Civil War, iv. 41.]

For the Speaker of the Lords' House pro tempore, to be communicated to the Lords and Commons in the Parliament of Westminster, and the Commissioners of the Parliament of Scotland.

Charles Rex.

The necessity of complying with all engaged interests in these great distempers, for a perfect settlement of peace, His Majesty finds to be none of the least difficulties he hath met with since the time of his afflictions; which is too visible, when at the same time that the two Houses of the English Parliament do present to His Majesty several Bills and Propositions for his consent, the Commissioners for Scotland do openly protest against them: so that were there nothing in the case but the consideration of that difference, His Majesty cannot imagine how to give such an answer to what is now proposed, as thereby to promise himself his great end, a perfect peace.

And when His Majesty further considers how impossible it is, in the condition he now stands, to fulfil the desires of his two Houses, since the only ancient and known ways of passing laws arc either by His Majesty's personal assent in the House of Peers, or by commission under his Great Seal of England, he cannot but wonder at such failings in the manner of address which is now made unto him; unless his two Houses intend that His Majesty shall allow of a Great Seal made without his authority, before there be any consideration had thereupon in a Treaty, which as it may hereafter hazard the security itself, so for the present it seems very unreasonable to His Majesty. And although His Majesty is willing to believe that the intention of very many in both Houses in sending these Bills before a treaty was only to obtain a trust from him, and not to take any advantage by passing them, to force other things from him, which are either against his conscience or honour; yet His Majesty believes it clear to all understandings, that these Bills contain, as they are now penned, not only the divesting himself of all sovereignty, and that without possibility of recovering it, either to him or his successors, except by repeal of these Bills, but also the making his concessions guilty of the greatest pressures that can be made upon the subject; as in other particulars, so by giving an arbitrary and unlimited power to the two Houses for ever, to raise and levy forces for land and sea service, on what persons, without distinction or quality, and to what numbers, they please: and likewise, for the payment of them, to levy what monies, in such sort, and by such ways and means, and consequently upon the estates of whatsoever persons they shall think fit and appoint, which is utterly inconsistent with the liberty and prosperity of the subject, and His Majesty's trust in protecting them. So that, if the major part of both Houses shall think it necessary to put the rest of the Propositions into Bills, His Majesty leaves all the world to judge how unsafe it would be for him to consent thereunto; and if not, what a strange condition, after the passing of these four Bills, His Majesty and all his subjects would be cast into.

And here His Majesty thinks it not unfit to wish his two Houses to consider well the manner of their proceeding; that when His Majesty desires a personal treaty with them for the settling of a peace, they in manner propose the very subject matter of the most essential parts thereof to be first granted, a thing which will be hardly credible to posterity. Wherefore His Majesty declares, that neither the desire of being freed from this tedious and irksome condition of life His Majesty hath so long suffered, nor the apprehension of what may befall him, in case his two Houses shall not afford him a personal treaty, shall make him change his resolution of not consenting to any Act till the whole peace be concluded.

Yet then he intends not only to give just and reasonable satisfaction in the particulars presented to him, but also to make good all other concessions mentioned in his message of the 17th of November last[1], which he thought would have produced better effects than what he finds in the Bills and Propositions now presented unto him.

And yet His Majesty cannot give over, but now again earnestly presseth for a personal treaty (so passionately is he affected with the advantages which peace will bring to His Majesty and all his subjects), of which he will not at all despair, there being no other visible way to obtain a well-grounded peace: however, His Majesty is very much at ease within himself, for having fulfilled the offices both of a Christian and of a King; and will patiently wait the good pleasure of Almighty God to incline the hearts of his two Houses to consider their King, and to compassionate their fellow subjects' miseries. Given at Carisbrook Castle in the Isle of Wight, December 28, 1647.

[1] No. 73

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