Page images

on, by the warmth of his imagination, to a greater A.D. 1658. length than he intended.

“MR. SPEAKER, “ This day's debate is but too clear a proof that we Englishmen are right islanders; variable and mutable, like the air we live in: for, sir, if that were not our temper, we should not be now disputing whether, after all those hazards we have run, that blood we have spilt, that treasure we have exhausted, we should not now sit down just where we did begin, and of our own accords submit ourselves to that slavery which we have not only ventured our estates and lives, but, I wish I could not say, our souls and consciences, to throw off. What others, sir, think of this levity, I cannot tell. I mean those who steer their consciences by occasions, and cannot lose the honour they never had: but truly, sir, for my own part, I dare freely declare it to be my opinion, that we are this day making good all the reproaches of our enemies, owning ourselves oppressors, murderers, regicides, subvertors of that which we do not only acknowledge to have been a lawful government, but, by recalling it, confess it now to be the best: which, sir, if it be true, and that

A.D. 1658. we now begin to see aright, I heartily wish our

eyes had been sooner open; and, for three nations' sake, that we had purchased our conviction at a cheaper rate. We might, sir, in forty-two have been what we thus contend to be in fifty-nine; and our consciences would have had much less to answer for to God, and our reputations to the world.

“But, Mr. Speaker, I wish with all my soul I did state the case to you amiss; and that it were the question, whether we would voluntarily relapse into the disease we were formerly possessed of, and of our own accords take up our old yoke, that we with wearing and custom had made habitual and easy, and which it may be) was more our wantonness than our pressure, that made us throw it off. But this, sir, is not now the question: that which we deliberate is not whether we will say, we do not care to be free, we like our old masters, and will be content to have our ears bored at the door-post of their house, and to serve them for ever; but, sir, as if we were contending for shame as well as servitude, we are carrying our ears to be bored at the doors of ANOTHER HOUSE; an house, sir, without a name, and therefore it is but congruous it

should consist of members without family; an A.D. 1658. house that inverts the order of slavery, and subjects us to our servants; and yet, in contradiction to scripture, we do not only not think that subjection INTOLERABLE, but are now pleading for it. In a word, sir, it is a house of so incongruous and odious a composition and mixture, that certainly the grand architect would never have so framed it, bad it not been his design, as well to show the world the contempt he had of us, as to demonstrate the power he had over us.

“Sir, that it may appear I intend not to be so prudent (as far as my part is concerned) to make a voluntary resignation of my liberty and honour to this excellent part of his highness's last will and testament, I shall crave leave to declare, in a few particulars, my opinion of this other house ; wherein I cannot but promise myself to be favourably heard by some, and patiently heard by all: for those Englishmen who are against that house will certainly with content hear the reasons why others are so too; those courtiers who are for it, give me evidence enough to think that in nature there is nothing which they cannot willingly endure.

“ First, sir, as to the author and framer of the

[ocr errors]

A.D. 1658. HOUSE of peers; let me put you in mind it was

he who, with reiterated oaths, had often sworn to be true and faithful to the government without it; and not only sworn so himself, but had been the chief instrument both to draw and compel others to swear so too. So, sir, the foundation of that noble structure was laid in perjury, and was begun with the violation and contempt as well of the laws of God as of the nation. He who called monarchy anti-christian in another, and, indeed, made it so himself; he who voted a house of lords dangerous and unnecessary, and too truly made it so in his partisans; he who with fraud and force deprived you of your liberty when living, and entailed slavery on you at his death: it is he, sir, who has left you these worthy overseers of that his last will and testament; who, however they have behaved themselves in other trusts, we may be confident will faithfully endeavour to discharge themselves in this. In a word, had that other house no other fault but its constitution and author, I should think that original sin enough for its condemnation : for I am of their opinion who think that, for the good of example, all acts and monuments of tyrants are to be expunged and erased; that (if possible) their

memory may be no longer-lived than their car- A.D. 1658. casses; and the truth is, their good laws are but snares for our liberty. But to impute to that other house no faults but its own, you may please in the first place to consider of the power which his highness hath left it, according to that “humble petition and advice,' which he was pleased to give order the parliament should present to him. For as the Romans had kings, bis highness had “parliaments amongst his instruments of slavery;' and I hope it will be no offence for me to pray that his son may not have so too. But, sir, they have a negative voice, and all other circumstances of that arbitrary power which made the former house intolerable ; only the dignity and quality of the persons are wanting, that our slavery may be accompanied with ignominy and affront. And now, Mr. Speaker, have we not gloriously vindicated the nation's liberty ;' have we not worthily employed our blood and treasure to abolish that power which was set over us by law, to have the same imposed upon us without law? And after all that sound and noise we have made in the world, of the people's legislative power, and of the supremacy and omnipotency of their representatives, we now see there is no more power

« PreviousContinue »