Gold tried in the fire, or the burnt
[William Walwyn, 4 June 1647]
I shall give thee a short narrative of some passages upon the following petitions. First concerning the Large Petition, divers printed copies thereof were sent abroad to gain subscriptions, one whereof was intercepted by an informer and so brought to the hands of Mr Glynn, Recorder of London and a member of the Commons' House, who was pleased to call it a scandalous and seditious paper. Whereupon it was referred to Colonel Leigh's committee (it being that committee appointed to receive informations against those men who preached without licence from the ordainers) to find out the authors of the said petition. Upon this a Certificate was drawn up and intended by the petitioners to have been delivered to the said committee for vindication of the said petition as will appear by the certificate herewith printed and notice being taken of one of the petitioners named Nicholas Tew, who read the said certificate in the Court of Requests for the concurrence of friends who had not formerly seen nor subscribed the certificate; and for his so doing he was sent for presently before the said committee; and for refusing to answer to interrogatories, was presently by them committed and still remains in prison, it being at the least three months since his first commitment.
Likewise Major Tulidah, was, upon complaint of that committee, the next day committed by the House but since discharged upon bail without any just cause shown for either of their commitments. And others of the petitioners were abused and vilified by that committee, some of them offering to draw their swords upon the petitioners. All which, with more, was ready to be proved to the whole House, but could by no means be obtained, though earnestly desired by a Petition presently delivered into the House humbly desiring the examination of these miscarriages; but after eight weeks' attendance with much importunity, after many promises and days appointed to take their petition into consideration they obtained a very slight answer which was that they 'could not like of their petition', occasion being taken suddenly after to commit one of the petitioners named Mr Brown to the prison of Newgate, for his importunity in desiring an answer to that petition.
After many promises and delays, shortly after the slight answer obtained to the said petition, the petitioners thought good to deliver a Second petition to the House to see if it were possible to obtain a better answer to their just desires, hoping that they would better consider of things. But after attendance and importunity, they obtained an answer in these words. That the parliament had voted it a breach of privilege, 'scandalous, and seditious'; and that petition (and the Large Petition) to be burned by the hand of the hangman; which was accordingly done by order of the house, in these words.
Die Jovis 20 May, 1647
Resolved etc. That the sheriffs of London and Middlesex be required to take care that the petition and paper be burnt: which accordingly was done before the Exchange two days after the said vote and order of the House.
And shortly after this the petitioners prepared a third petition, which is the last petition herewith printed. And after much importunity with the members of the House after almost two days' attendance obtained so much favour from one of the members as to present that petition to the House; and after all this could obtain no other answer to that petition, but the House after long dispute thereupon passed this vote upon the 2nd of June 1647: 'that no answer shall be given to the petition at the present'.
And two days after, the petitioners attended the House for a further answer, delivering copies of their petition to the several members of the House, but could obtain no further answer thereunto but received many vilifying and disgraceful speeches from several members of the House. And so after a whole day's attendance, departed without any hope to receive any answer to their just desires in the said petition.
And thus I have faithfully and truly (though briefly) given ye an account of the proceedings upon the ensuing petitions.
Now let the judicious and considerate reader judge whether the petitioners have received equal and even dealing herein from this present parliament the petitioners being such who have laid out themselves, both in their persons and purses, far above their abilities; who have not valued their lives, their children's lives, nor their servants' lives, nor estates too dear for the service of the parliament and commonwealth. And is this the reward they shall receive after they have thus laid out themselves? Nay, they have just cause to fear that they and their friends are men appointed to utter ruin and destruction. Otherwise what means all the railing, reviling, and reproachful speeches of their ministers and agents out of the pulpit and press to stir up the rude multitude to fall upon them and destroy them? Is not this ingratitude in the highest degree? Shall not the very heathen rise up in judgement against such a generation of degenerate men as these, who could say, Si ingratum dixeris, omnia dixeris?
You cannot choose but take notice of several remonstrances and petitions presented to the House from these men who call themselves Lord Mayor, Aldermen and Commons of the city of London in Common Council assembled what high affronts they have offered to the parliament. Yet they have in some measure by steps and degrees answered the remonstrances and granted their petitions; and you may observe what answer they have given to their last petition for raising of horse, etc. (the tendency whereof may be of very dangerous consequence if well weighed). Which is thus: 'Mr Speaker by command of the House, expressed unto them the true sense the House has of their constant good affections to this parliament; and that no alterations whatsoever can work any change in their duty and love; for which he is to give them the heartiest thanks of this house.'
I could enlarge myself but I affect brevity, and the judicious and considerate reader may enlarge himself in his own thoughts, well weighing the matter in the said remonstrances and petitions; and upon due consideration may judge whether their petitions, or the petitions burnt, vilified, and disgraced, deserve most thanks or tend most to the safety of the parliament and commonwealth and will henceforth conclude that, as there is little good to be hoped for from such parliaments as need to be petitioned, so there is none at all to be expected from those that burn such petitions as these.
If the endeavours of good commonwealthsmen in the House could have prevailed, these petitions had not been burnt nor the petitioners abused. But the sons of Zeruiah were too strong for them that is to say, the malignants, and delinquents, the lawyers (some few excepted), the monopolising merchants, the sons and servants of the Lords. All these joining together over-voted them about sixteen voices. But God in time, will, we trust, deliver the people of this nation from their deceit and malice; and therefore let us not sorrow as men without hope, nor be discouraged, but go on and persist for the just liberties of England. A word to the wise is sufficient. Farewell.
By a well-wisher to truth and peace
Printed in the year 1647
To the right honourable and supreme authority of this nation, the commons in parliament assembled. The humble petition of many thousands, earnestly desiring the glory of God, the freedom of the commonwealth, and the peace of all men
That as no government is more just in the constitution than that of parliaments having its foundation in the free choice of the people and as the end of all government is the safety and freedom of the governed, even so the people of this nation in all times have manifested most hearty affection unto parliaments as the most proper remedy of their grievances. Yet such have been the wicked policies of those who from time to time have endeavoured to bring this nation into bondage that they have in all times, either by the disuse or abuse of parliaments, deprived the people of their hopes. For testimony whereof the late times foregoing this parliament will sadly witness: when it was not only made a crime to mention a parliament, but either the pretended negative voice (the most destructive to freedom) or a speedy dissolution blasted the fruit and benefit thereof, whilst the whole land was overspread with all kinds of oppression and tyranny extending both to soul and body; and that in so rooted and settled a way that the complaints of the people in general witnessed that they would have given anything in the world for one six months' freedom of parliament. Which has been since evidenced in their instant and constant readiness of assistance to this present parliament, exceeding the records of all former ages, and wherein God has blessed them with their first desires, making this parliament the most absolute and free of any parliament that ever was, and enabling it with power sufficient to deliver the whole nation from all kinds of oppressions and grievances, though of never so long continuance, and to make it the most absolute and free nation in the world.
And it is most thankfully acknowledged that ye have in order to the freedom of the people suppressed the High Commission, Star Chamber and Council Table, called home the banished, delivered such as were imprisoned for matters of conscience, and brought some delinquents to deserved punishment; that ye have suppressed the bishops and popish lords, abolished episcopacy and that kind of prelatic persecuting government; that ye have taken away ship-money, and all the new illegal patents. Whereby the hearts of all the well-affected were enlarged and filled with a confident hope that they should have seen long ere this a complete removal of all grievances, and the whole people delivered from all oppressions over soul or body. But such is our misery, that after the expense of so much precious time, of blood, and treasure, and the ruin of so many thousands of honest families in recovering our liberties, we still find this nation oppressed with grievances of the same destructive nature as formerly, though under other notions; and which are so much the more grievous unto us because they are inflicted in the very time of this present parliament under God, the hope of the oppressed. For, as then all the men and women in England were made liable to the summons, attachments, sentences and imprisonments of the lords of the Council Board, so we find by woeful experience and sufferings of many particular persons that the present Lords do assume and exercise the same power than which nothing is, or can be, more repugnant and destructive to the commons' just liberties. As the unjust power of Star Chamber was exercised in compelling of men and women to answer to interrogatories tending to accuse themselves and others, so is the same now frequently practised upon divers persons even your cordial friends, that have been, and still are, punished for refusing to answer to questions against themselves and nearest relations.
As then the great oppression of the High Commission was most evident in molesting of godly peaceable people for non-conformity or different opinion and practice in religion judging all who were contrary-minded to themselves to be heretics, sectaries, schismatics, seditious, factious, enemies to the state, and the like; and under great penalties forbidding all persons not licensed by them to preach or publish the gospel even so now at this day, the very same if not greater molestations are set on foot and violently prosecuted by the instigation of a clergy no more infallible than the former: to the extreme discouragement and affliction of many thousands of your faithful adherents, who are not satisfied that controversies in religion can be trusted to the compulsive regulation of any, and after the bishops were suppressed, did hope never to have seen such a power assumed by any in this nation any more.
And although all new illegal patents are by you abolished, yet the oppressive monopoly of Merchant Adventurers and others do still remain to the great abridgement of the liberties of the people and to the extreme prejudice of all such industrious people as depend on clothing or other woollen manufacture (it being the staple commodity of this nation), and to the great discouragement and disadvantage of all sorts of tradesmen, seafaring men, and hindrance of shipping and navigation. Also the old tedious and chargeable way of deciding controversies or suits in law is continued to this day, to the extreme vexation and utter undoing of multitudes of families: a grievance as great and as palpable as any in the world. Likewise that old but most unequal punishment of malefactors is still continued, whereby men's lives and liberties are as liable to the law, and corporal pains as much inflicted for small as for great offences, and that most unjustly upon the testimony of one witness contrary both to the law of God and common equity: a grievance very great but little regarded. Also tithes and other enforced maintenance are still continued, though there be no ground for either under the gospel and though the same have occasioned multitudes of suits, quarrels, and debates, both in former and later times. In like manner, multitudes of poor distressed prisoners for debt lie still unregarded in a most miserable and woeful condition throughout the land, to the great reproach of this nation. Likewise prison-keepers or gaolers are as presumptuous as ever they were both in receiving and detaining of prisoners illegally committed; as cruel and inhumane to all, especially to such as are well-affected; as oppressive and extorting in their fees. And they are attended with under-officers of such vile and unChristian demeanour as is most abominable. Also thousands of men and women are still (as formerly) permitted to live in beggary and wickedness all their life long and to breed their children to the same idle and vicious course of life, and no effectual means used to reclaim either or to reduce them to any virtue or industry.
And last, as those who found themselves aggrieved formerly at the burdens and oppressions of those times that did not conform to the church-government then established, refused to pay ship-money, or yield obedience to unjust patents were reviled and reproached with nicknames of 'Puritans', 'heretics', 'schismatics', 'sectaries', or were termed 'factious' or 'seditious', 'men of turbulent spirits, despisers of government', and 'disturbers of the public peace'; even so is it at this day in all respects, with those who show any sensibility of the fore-recited grievances, or move in any manner or measure for remedy thereof; all the reproaches, evils, and mischiefs that can be devised are thought too few or too little to be laid upon them, as 'roundheads', 'sectaries', 'independents', 'heretics', 'schismatics', 'factious', 'seditious', 'rebellious', 'disturbers of the public peace', 'destroyers of all civil relation, and subordinations'. Yea, and beyond what was formerly, non-conformity is now judged a sufficient cause to disable any person (though of known fidelity) from bearing any office of trust in the commonwealth, whilst neuters, malignants and disaffected are admitted and continued. And though it be not now made a crime to mention a parliament, yet is it little less to mention the supreme power of this honourable House.
So that in all these respects this nation remains in a very sad and disconsolate condition and the more, because it is thus with us after so long a session of so powerful and so free a parliament, and which has been so made and maintained by the abundant love and liberal effusion of the blood of the people.
And therefore, knowing no danger nor thralldom like unto our being left in this most sad condition by this parliament, and observing that ye are now drawing the great and weighty affairs of this nation to some kind of conclusion, and fearing that ye may ere long be obstructed by something equally evil to a negative voice, and that ye may be induced to lay by that strength which (under God) has hitherto made you powerful to all good works; whilst we have yet time to hope, and ye power to help, and lest by our silence we might be guilty of that ruin and slavery which without your speedy help is like to fall upon us, yourselves and the whole nation, we have presumed to spread our cause thus plainly and largely before you; and do most earnestly entreat that ye will stir up your affections to a zealous love and tender regard of the people who have chosen and trusted you, and that ye will seriously consider that the end of their trust was freedom and deliverance from all kind of grievances and oppressions.
1. And that therefore in the first place, ye will be exceeding careful to preserve your just authority from all prejudices of a negative voice in any person or persons whomsoever which may disable you from making that happy return unto the people which they justly expect; and that ye will not be induced to lay by your strength until ye have satisfied your understandings in the undoubted security of yourselves and of those who have voluntarily and faithfully adhered unto you in all your extremities and until ye have secured and settled the commonwealth in solid peace and true freedom, which is the end of the primitive institution of all governments.
2. That ye will take off all sentences, fines, and imprisonments imposed on commoners, by any whomsoever, without due course of law or judgement of their equals, and give due reparations to all those who have been so injuriously dealt withal; and for preventing the like for time to come, that ye will enact all such arbitrary proceedings to be capital crimes.
3. That ye will permit no authority whatsoever to compel any person or persons to answer to questions against themselves or nearest relations, except in cases of private interest between party and party in a legal way; and to release all such as suffer by imprisonment or otherwise for refusing to answer to such interrogatories.
4. That all statutes, oaths, and covenants may be repealed so far as they tend, or may be construed, to the molestation and ensnaring of religious, peaceable, well-affected people for non-conformity or different opinion or practice in religion.
5. That no man, for preaching or publishing his opinion in religion in a peaceable way, may be punished or persecuted as heretical by judges that are not infallible but may be mistaken as well as other men in their judgements lest upon pretence of suppressing errors, sects, or schisms, the most necessary truths and sincere professors thereof may be suppressed, as upon the like pretence it has been in all ages.
6. That ye will, for the encouragement of industrious people, dissolve that old oppressive company of Merchant Adventurers and the like, and prevent all such others by great penalties, forever.
7. That ye will settle a just, speedy, plain and unburdensome way for deciding of controversies and suits in law, and reduce all laws to the nearest agreement with Christianity, and publish them in the English tongue; and that all processes and proceedings therein may be true, and also in English, and in the most usual character of writing, without any abbreviations, that each one who can read may the better understand their own affairs; and that the duty of all judges, officers and practisers in the law, and of all magistrates and officers in the commonwealth may be prescribed and their fees limited, under strict penalties, and published in print to the view and knowledge of all men: by which just and equitable means this nation shall be forever freed of an oppression more burdensome and troublesome than all the oppressions hitherto by this parliament removed.
8. That the life of no person may be taken away but under the testimony of two witnesses at least, of honest conversation; and that in an equitable way ye will proportion punishments to offences: that so no man's life may be taken, his body punished, nor his estate forfeited, but upon such weighty and considerable causes as justly deserve such punishments; and that all prisoners may have a speedy trial, that they be neither starved nor their families ruined by long and lingering imprisonment; and that imprisonment may be used only for safe custody until time of trial, and not as a punishment for offences.
9. That tithes and all other enforced maintenance may be forever abolished and nothing in place thereof imposed, but that all ministers may be paid only by those who voluntarily chose them and contract with them for their labours.
10. That ye will take some speedy and effectual course to relieve all such prisoners for debt as are altogether unable to pay, that they may not perish in prison through the hard-heartedness of their creditors; and that all such as have any estates may be enforced to make payment accordingly and not shelter themselves in prison to defraud their creditors.
11. That none may be prison-keepers but such as are of approved honesty, and that they may be prohibited under great penalties to receive or detain any person or persons without lawful warrant; that their usage of prisoners may be with gentleness and civility, their fees moderate and certain, and that they may give security for the good behaviour of their under-officers.
12. That ye will provide some powerful means to keep men, women, and children from begging and wickedness, that this nation may be no longer a shame to Christianity therein.
13. That ye will restrain and discountenance the malice and impudency of impious persons in their reviling and reproaching the well-affected with the ignominious titles of round-heads, factious, seditious and the like, whereby your real friends have been a long time, and still are, exceedingly wronged, discouraged, and made obnoxious to rude and profane people; and that ye will not exclude any of approved fidelity from bearing office of trust in the commonwealth for non-conformity: rather neuters, and such as manifest disaffection or opposition to common freedom the admission and continuation of such being the chief cause of all our grievances.
These remedies, or what other shall seem more effectual to your grave wisdoms, we humbly pray may be speedily applied; and in doing thereof ye will be confident of the assistance of your petitioners and of all considerate well-minded people to the uttermost of their best abilities, against all opposition whatsoever, looking upon ourselves as more concerned now at last to make a good end than at the first to have made a good beginning. For what shall it profit us, or what remedy can we expect, if now after so great troubles and miseries this nation should be left by this parliament in so great a thraldom, both of body, mind, and estate?
We beseech you therefore that with all your might whilst ye have time, freedom and power, so effectively to fulfil the true end of parliaments in delivering this nation from these and all other grievances, that none may presume or dare to introduce the like forever.
And we trust that God of your good success will manifest the sincerity of our intentions herein, and that our humble desires are such as tend not only to our own particular but to the general good of the commonwealth, and proper for this honourable House to grant, without which this nation cannot be safe or happy. And that He will bless you with true Christian fortitude, suitable to the trust and greatness of the work ye have undertaken, and make the memory of this parliament blessed to all succeeding generations,
Shall ever be the prayer of your humble petitioners.
To the right honourable, the commons of England assembled in parliament. The humble petition of divers well-affected citizens
That as the oppressions of this nation in times fore-going this parliament were so numerous and burdensome as will never be forgotten, so were the hopes of our deliverance by this parliament exceeding great and full of confidence; which, as they were strengthened by many acts of yours in the beginning, especially towards conscientious people without respect unto their judgements or opinions, so did the gratitude of well-minded people exceed all precedent or example, sparing neither estates, limbs, liberties, or lives, to make good the authority of this honourable House as the foundation and root of all just freedom. And although we many times observed to our grief some proceedings holding resemblance rather with our former bondage than with that just freedom we expected, yet did we impute the same to the troublesomeness of the times of war, patiently and silently passing them over, as undoubtedly hoping a perfect remedy so soon as the wars were ended. But perceiving our expectations altogether frustrate, we conceived ourselves bound in conscience and in duty to God to set before you the general grievances of the commonwealth and the earnest desires of ingenious well-minded people; and for that end did engage in promoting the petition in question in the usual and approved way of gathering subscriptions, with full intention to present the same to this honourable House so soon as it should be in readiness. But as it appears, a copy thereof was unduly obtained and tendered to this honourable House under the notion of a dangerous and seditious paper. Whereupon this House was pleased to order the petition to the committee whereof Colonel Leigh is chairman, and Mr Lambe, at whose house it was said to be found, to be there examined concerning the same.
Whereupon your petitioners conceived it their duty to own and avouch the said petition; and for that end in a peaceable manner attended that committee with this humble certificate hereunto annexed to be offered to their wisdoms as opportunity should be ministered. But through some small miscarriage of some few persons (for which your petitioners were much grieved) your committee took so sudden and high displeasure as to command your petitioners to withdraw, threatening to remove them with a guard before they had time to turn themselves.
Whereupon your petitioners caused the certificate to be publicly read in the Court of Requests to take the sense and allowance of many persons who had not before seen the same, with intent still to present it; which though endeavoured to the utmost, was absolutely refused to be received, but to our astonishment, occasion was taken against our friend that read the same, so far as that he stands a prisoner to that committee. And much harsh language, with threatenings and provocations issued from some of the committee towards some other of our friends, purposely (as we verily believe) to get some advantage to present us odious to this honourable House, whose persons and authority has been as dear in our esteem as our very lives. And therefore we have just cause to complain to this honourable House.
1. Of unjust usage from those that endeavoured to interrupt the gathering of hands in a peaceable way or to possess this honourable House with evil suggestions concerning the intention and purpose of the said petition.
2. Of hard measure from your committee in the particulars forementioned, contrary to what we have deserved or should have found in former times.
Nevertheless, our liberties to promote petitions to this honourable House are so essential to our freedom (our condition without the same being absolute slavery), and our hope of justice from this honourable House so great in protecting us therein, that we are not discouraged by what has passed, but in confidence thereof do humbly entreat:
First, that ye will be pleased to declare our freedom to promote, and your readiness to receive, the said petition, which we cannot but still look upon as tending the general good of this nation.
Secondly, that our friends may be enlarged, and that ye will discountenance the officiousness of such over-busy informers as have disturbed the just progress of that petition.
We are not ignorant that we have been and are like to be represented unto you as heretics, schismatics, sectaries, seditious persons and enemies to civil-government, and the like; but our said petition is sufficient to stop the mouths of such calumniators and declare us to be not only solicitors for our own particulars but for the general good of the commonwealth, and will minister a just occasion to suspect the designs of those that so frequently asperse us, though their pretences be never so specious. And we trust your wisdoms will timeously36 discover and prevent any evil intended against us.
And whereas Major Tulidah stands committed by order of this honourable House for some conceived misbehaviour towards some members of your said committee, we humbly entreat that he may be forthwith called to your bar and be permitted to answer for himself, and that witnesses also may be heard on his behalf; that so this honourable House may be rightly and fully informed concerning his cause and the demeanour of those members: the sudden imprisonment of our friends being very grievous unto us.
And your petitions shall pray.
To the honourable committee of parliament sitting in the Queen's Court at Westminster, Colonel Leigh being chairman
The humble certificate of divers persons interested in and avouching the petition lately referred to this committee by the right honourable House of Commons. Humbly certifying that the petition (entitled The humble petition of many thousands, earnestly desiring the glory of God, the freedom of the commonwealth, and the peace of all men, and directed to the right honourable, and supreme authority of this nation, the Commons assembled in parliament) is no scandalous or seditious paper (as has been unjustly suggested) but a real petition, subscribed, and to be subscribed, by none but constant, cordial friends to parliament and commonwealth, and to be presented to that honourable House with all possible speed as an especial means to procure the universal good of this long enthralled and distracted nation; and we trust this honourable committee will in no measure dishearten the people from presenting their humble considerations, reasons, and petitions to those whom they have chosen (there being no other due and legal way wherein those that are aggrieved can find redress) but that rather you will be pleased to give all encouragement therein. In assured hope whereof, we shall pray.
To the right honourable, the commons of England assembled in parliament. The humble petition of divers well-affected people in and about the City of London.
That as the authority of this honourable House is entrusted by the people for remedy of their grievances, so has it been their accustomed and undoubted liberty in a peaceable manner to present unto this House whatsoever they deemed to be particular or general grievances. And as ye gave encouragement unto others in the use of this just liberty reproving such as endeavoured to obstruct the peaceable promoting of petitions so did we verily hope to have found the like countenance and protection in promoting our Large Petition. But no sooner was the promoting thereof discovered by Mr Glynn, Recorder, as is commonly reported, than he hastily and untimely brought it into this House, exclaiming against it as a most dangerous and seditious paper; and shortly after the Common Council in like manner prejudged it as guilty of danger and sedition, though both without any grounds or reasons affixed that we know of.
And as the work of Mr Recorder was the occasion (as we conceive) of an inquiry after the promoters, so also of the hard measure we found at Colonel Leigh's Committee, where occasion was suddenly taken to threaten our removal by a guard, to imprison Nicholas Tew, one of the petitioners, the rest being reviled with odious titles of factious and seditious sectaries; and Major Tulidah another of the petitioners, not only reviled and reproached as the rest, but violently hauled, and most boisterously used by Sir Philip Stapleton and Colonel Holles, who made offer as if they would draw their swords upon the petitioners and Sir Walter Erle, lifting up his cane in a most threatening manner, took another by the shoulder: all which is ready to be certified by sufficient witnesses, and which we do verily believe was done purposely out of their hatred to the matter of the petition, to render us as a turbulent people to this honourable House, to beget a dislike of our petition, and to frustrate our endeavours in promoting thereof.
Unto which their misinformation of this honourable House, as we have cause to suspect, may be imputed the occasion of the sudden imprisonment of Major Tulidah without hearing of him, and our so long and tedious attendance for answer to our last petition and certificate, and the misapprehension of this honourable House of our desires in that petition. For we did not desire (as your answer imports) that this House should declare their liking or disliking of our Large Petition (being not then promoted nor presented by us) but that you would be pleased to vindicate our liberty to promote that petition, notwithstanding the hard measure we had found and the aspersions cast upon it; to release the party imprisoned by the committee (meaning Nicholas Tew); to discountenance those that obstructed the gathering of subscriptions; to call Major Tulidah to your bar and to hear witnesses on his behalf, that so ye might also be rightly informed, as of his cause, so of the demeanour of some members of that committee.
Now forasmuch as the more we consider the general grievances of the commonwealth the greater cause we still find of promoting the Large Petition, as not discerning anything of danger therein except to some corruptions yet remaining, nor of sedition except as before this parliament it be in some men's esteems seditious to move though in the most peaceable manner for remedy of the most palpable grievances. And forasmuch as we are hopeful this honourable House will in due time have good use thereof for discovery of such as are engaged either directly or by relations in those corruptions for removal whereof the petition is intended; and not knowing for what end so great an effusion of the blood of the people has been made except to procure at the least the particulars desired in that petition; and that we might know ourselves so far at least to be free men and not slaves as to be at liberty to promote petitions in a peaceable way, to be judges of the matter thereof and for our time of presenting them to this honourable House, without let or circumvention, we humbly entreat that you will be pleased:
1. To weigh in equal balance the carriage of Mr Recorder and that of the Common Council in this weighty cause of prejudging petitions; and to deal with them as the cause deserves.
2. To consider of how evil consequence it is for your committees to assume a power of imprisoning men's persons without your commission, and that ye will not pass over this in this committee.
3. To receive the testimonies concerning Sir Philip Stapleton, Colonel Holles and Sir Walter Erle, and to deal with them according to the ill consequence of their violent demeanour and misinformation of this honourable House, tending to no less than the obstruction of petitions: the greatest mischief that can befall a people in time of parliament.
4. That Nicholas Tew may be wholly enlarged, and that no man may henceforth be committed by an arbitrary power, as he at the first was, nor without cause showed, though by lawful authority.
5. That ye will as yet suspend your sense of our Large Petition until such time as the petitioners shall judge it fit to present the same as a petition unto your wisdoms.
And as in duty bound, we shall pray etc.
To the right honourable the commons of England assembled in parliament. The humble petition of many thousands of well-affected people
That having seriously considered what an uncontrolled liberty has generally been taken publicly to reproach and make odious persons of eminent and constant good affection to parliament and commonwealth, how prevalent endeavours have been to withhold such from being chosen into places of trust or counsel, how easy to molest or get them into prisons, how exceedingly liable to misconstruction their motions and petitions in behalf of the public have lately been; when we consider what grudgings and repinings have sinistrously been begotten against your most faithful and successful army, what arts and devices to provoke you against them and to make you jealous of them, what hard measure some of them, both officers and soldiers, have found in divers respects in sundry places; when we consider what change of late has importunately (though causelessly) been procured of the committee of militia in the city of London, and how that new committee has already begun to remove from command in the trained bands and auxiliaries persons not to be suspected of disaffection or neutrality but such as have been most zealous in promoting the safety of parliament and city;
when we consider how full of armies our neighbour countries are round about us, and what threatenings of foreign forces when we consider these things we are even astonished with grief, as not able to free ourselves from apprehensions of eminent danger, but are strongly induced to fear some evil intentions of some desperate and wilful persons, yet powerfully working, to blast the just ends of this parliament and re-embroil this late bleeding and much-wasted nation in more violent wars, distempers and miseries.
And as our earnest desires of the quiet and safety of the commonwealth have necessitated these our most sad observations, so are we constrained to believe that so dangerous an alteration could not so generally have appeared but that there is some great alteration befallen both in counsels and authorities throughout the land which we verily conceive arises from no other cause but from the treacherous policy of enemies and weakness of friends in choosing such thereinto, as having been unfit for those employments: some whereof (as is credibly reported) having served the enemy in arms; some with monies, horse, ammunition, or by intelligence; some in commissions of array; some manifesting constant malignity in their actions, speeches or standing neuters in times of greatest trial; some culpable of notorious crimes; others lying under heavy accusations; some that are under age, or such who are at present engaged in such courses as in the beginning of this parliament were esteemed monopolies.
Now may it please this honourable House, if such as these should remain, or may have privily crept into your counsels or authorities (as by the forecited considerations we humbly conceive cannot but be judged), what can possibly be expected by those who have been most active and faithful in your service, but utter ruin or the worst of bondage?
For prevention whereof, and of those dangers, wars and troubles that are generally feared, we are constrained earnestly to entreat:
1. That you will be pleased instantly to appoint a committee of such worthy members of this honourable House as have manifested most sincere affections to the well-affected, and to authorise them to make speedy and strict inquiry after all such as are possessed of places of counsel, trust, authority or command, who according to law, ordinance, reason, or safety, ought not to be admitted; and that all persons, without exception, may be permitted and encouraged to bring in accusations, witnesses, or testimonies for the more speedy perfecting of the work; and that you will forthwith exclude all such out of all offices of counsel, trust, authority, or command, against whom sufficient cause shall be proved: without which we cannot see how it is possible for the well-affected to live either in peace or safety.
2. That you will countenance, protect, and succour the cordial well-affected in all places according to their several cases and conditions, especially in their addresses with petitions.
3. That you will be pleased to condescend unto all the just and reasonable desires of your commanders, officers and soldiers, by whose courage and faithfulness so great services have been performed, and severely to punish all such as have any way sought to alienate you from them.
4. That the militia of London may be returned to the custody and disposing of those persons of whose faithfulness and wisdom in managing thereof you have had great experience; and that none may be put out of command in the trained bands or auxiliaries who have been and are of known good affection to the commonwealth.
All which we humbly entreat may be speedily and effectually accomplished, according to the great necessity and exigency of these distracted times; and as in duty bound, we shall pray, etc.
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