Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

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, had it not been his design as well to shew to the world the contempt he had of us, as to demonstrate the power he had over us.

Sir, that it may appear, that I intend, to be so prudent, as far as my part is concerned, as to make a voluntary resignation of my liberty and honour to this excellent part of his late highuess's last will and tes* lament, I shall crave, Sir, the 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, but patiently heard by all. For these Englishmen, that are against this house, will certainly with content hear the reasons why others are so too; those courtiers, that 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 this house of pe>rs. Let me put you in mind, it was he, that 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 counsel others, to swear so too. So, Sir, that the foundation of this noble fabrick was laid in perjury, and was begun with the violation and contempt, as well of the laws of God, as of the nation. He, Sir, that called monarchy anti-christian in another, and indeed made it so in himself. He that voted a house of lords dangerous and unnecessary, and too truly made it so in his partisans. He that with fraud and force, deprived you of your liberty, when he was living, and entailed slavery upon you, at his death; it is he, Sir, that hath left you these worthy overseers of that his last will and testament; who, however they have behaved themselves in other trusts, we may be coniident they will endeavour faithfully to discharge themselves in this; Jnaword, Sir, had this other house no other fault but its institution and author, I should think that original sin enough for its condemnation. For I am of their opinion that think, that for the good of example, all acts and monuments of tyrants are to be expunged, and erased, that, if possible, their memory might be no longer-lived than their carcasses. And the truth is, their good laws are of the number of their snares, and but base brokage for our liberty.

But, Sir, to impute to this other house no other 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 to the parliament to present unto him. For, Sir, as the Romans had Kings, so had his highness parliaments, amongst his instruments of slavery; and I hope, Sir, it will be no offence for me to pray, that his son may not have them 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 themselves, is 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 that was set over us by the law, to have the same imposed upon us without a 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 sec there is no more power left them, but what is put in the balance, and equalled by the power of a few retainers of tyranny, who are so far from being of the people's choice, that the most part of them are only known to the nation by the villainies and mischiefs they have committed in it.

In the next place, Sir, you may please to consider, that the persons, invested with this power, are all of them nominated and designed by the lord protector, for to say, 'by him, and his council,' hath in effect rio more distinction, than if one should say,' by Oliver, and Cromwell.' By this means the protector himself, by his own, and his peers negative, becomes in effect two of the three estates; and by consequenee, is possessed of two parts of the legislative power. I think this can be a doubt to no man, that will but take the pains to read over that fair catalogue of those noble lords; for certainly no man, that reads their names, can possibly fancy, for what other virtues or good qualities, such a composition should be made choice of, but only the certainty of their compliance, with whatsoever should be enjoined them by their creator. (Pardon Sir, that name, for it is properly applicable, where things are made of nothing.) Now, Sir, if in the former government, increase of nobility was a grievance, because the new nobility, having fresh obligation to the crown, were the easilier led to compliance with it: And, if one of the main reasons, for exclusion of the bishops out of the lords, was because that they, being of the King's making, were in effect so many certain votes, for whatever the King had a mind to carry in that house; how much more assured will that inconvenience now be, when the protector, that wants nothing of the King, but, in every sense, the title, shall not only make and nominate a part, but of himself, constitute the whole house? In a word, Sir, if our liberty was endangered by the former house, we may give it for lost in the other house; and it is in all respects as advantageous and secure for the liberty of the nation, which we come hither to redeem, to allow this power and notion to his highness's officers, or council, nay his very chaplains, as to his other creatures and partisans, in his other house.

Now having considered, Sir, their author, power, and constitution, give me leave to make some few observations, though, but in general, of the persons themselves that are designed to be our lords and masters, and let us see what either the extraordinary quality or qualifications are of these egregious legislators, which may justify their choice, and prevail with the people to admit them, at least, into equal authority, with the whole representative body of themselves. But what I shall speak, Sir, of their quality, or any thing else concerning them, I would be thought to speak with distinction, and to intend only of the major part. For I acknowledge, Mr. Speaker, the mixture of this other house to be like the compositions of apothecaries, who are used to mix something of iclish, something grateful to the taste, to qualify their bitter drugs, which else, perchance, would be immediately spit out, and never wailowed. So, sir, his highness, of deplorable memory to this nation, to countenance as well the want of quality, as honesty, in the rest, hath nominated some, against whom there lies no other reproach, but only that nomination; but not, Sir, out of any respect to their qualities, or regard to their virtues, but with regard to the no quality, to the no virtues of the rest; which truly, Mr. Speaker, if he had not done, we could easily have given a more express name, to his other house, than he hath been pleased to do. For we know a house, designed only for beggars and malefactors, is a House of Correction, and termed so by your law. But, Mr. Speaker, setting those few persons aside, who, I hope, think the nomination a disgrace, and the ever coming to sit there much a greater: Can we, without indignation, think on the rest? He, that is first in their roll, a condemned cowarc, one that, out of fear and baseness, did once what he could to betray your liberties, and does now the same for gain. The second, a person of as little sense as honesty, preferred for no other reason, but his no worth, his no conscience; except that his cheating his father of all he had was thought a virtue, by him, who, by sad experience, we find hath done as much for his mother, his country. The third, a Cavalier, a Presbyterian, an Independent; fora republick, for a protector, for every thing, for nothing, but only that one thing, money. It were endless to run through them all, to tell you, Sir, of their lordships of seventeen pounds land a year, of inheritance; of their farmer lordships, dray-men lordships, cobler lordships, without one foot of land, but what the blood of Englishmen hath been the price of; these Sir, are to be our rulers, these the judges of our lives and fortunes; to these we are to stand bare, whilst their pageant stage lordships daign to give us a conference upon their breeches. Mr. Speaker, we have already had too much experience, how unsupportable servants are, when they become our masters. All kind of slavery is miserable in the account of all generous minds; but that which comes accompanied with scorn and contempt, stirs up every man's indignation, and is endured by none, whom nature does not intend for slaves, as well as fortune. ,

I say not this, Mr. Speaker, to revile any man with his meanness; for I never thought either the malignity or indulgence of fortune to be, with wise or just men, the grounds either of their ill, or their good opinion. Mr. Speaker, I blame not in these men the faults of their fortune, any otherwise, butas they make them their own. I object to you their poverty, because it is accompanied with ambition. I mind you of their quality, because they themselves forget it. So that it is not the men 1 am angry with, but with their lordships; not with Mr. Barkstead, or Mr. Jailer, titles 1 could well allow him, but with the right honourable, our singular good lord and Jailer; It is this incongruity, Mr. Speaker, I am displeased with.

So, Sir, though we easily grant poverty and necessity to be no faults, yet we must allow them to be great impediments in the way of honour, and such as nothing but extraordinary virtue and merit can well remove. The Scripture reckons it amongst Jeroboam's great faults, that 'he made priests of the meanest of the people'; and sure it was none of the virtues of our Jeroboam (who hath set up his calves too, and would have our tribes come up and worship them) that he observed the same method, in making of lords.

One of the few requests the Portuguese made to Philip the Second, of Spain, when he got that kingdom (as his late highness did this) by an army, was, 'That he would not make nobility contemptible, by advancing such to that degree, whose equality or virtue could be no way thought to deserve it.' Nor have we formerly been less apprehensive of such inconveniences ourselves. It was in Richard the First's time, one of the Bishop of Ely's accusations, that castles and forts of trust he did obscuris et ignotis hominibus tradere, put in the hands of obscure and unknown men. But we, (Mr. Speaker) to such a kind of men are delivering up the power of our laws, and in that the power of all.

In \7 Edw. IV. there passed an act of parliament for the degrading of John Nevil, Marquis Mountague and Duke of Bedford; the reason is expressed in the act, 'Because he had not a revenue sufficient for the maintaining of that dignity;' to which was added, 'That, when men of mean birth are called to high estate, and have no livelihood to support it, it induceth briberies, extortions, and all kinds of injustices that are followed by gain.' And in the parliament of 2 Carol, the peers, in a petition against Scottish and Irish titles, told the King, ' That it is a novelty without precedent, that men should possess honours, where they possess nothing else; and that they should have a vote in parliament, where they have not a foot of land.' But, if it had been added, Sir, ' or have no land but what is the purchase of their villainies' against how many of our new peers had this been an important objection? To conclude, Sir, it hath been a very just and reasonable care amongst all nations, not to render that despised and contemptible to the people, which is designed for their reverence, and their awe. Which Sir, bare and empty title, without quality or virtue, never procured any man any more thau the image in the fable made the ass adored, that carried it,'

After their quality, give me leave, Sir, to speak a word or two of their qualifications, which certainly ought, in reason, to carry some proportion with the employment they design themselves. The house of lords, Sir, are our King's hereditary great councils; they are the highest court of judicature; they have their part in judging and determining of the reasons of making new laws, and of abrogating old. From amongst them we take our great officers of state; they a^e commonly our generals at land, and our admirals at sea. In conclusion, Sir, they arc both of the essence and constitution of our old government; and have, besides, the greatest and noblest share in the administration. Now, certainly, Sir, to judge according to the dictates of reason, one would imagine some small faculties and endowments to be necessary for the discharging of such a calling; and those such as are not usually acquired in shops and warehouses, nor found by following the plo'ugh. Now what other other academies h»ve most of their lordships been bred in, but their shops? What other arts they have been versed in, but those which more require good arms and good shoulders, than'good heads, I think, Mr. Speaker, we are yet to be informed. Sir, we commit not the education of our children to ignorant and illiterate masten: nay, we trust not our very horses to unskilful grooms. I beseech you, Sir, let us think it belongs to us to have some care into whose hands we commit the management of the commonwealth. And, if we cannot have persons of birth and fortune to be our rulers, to whose quality we would willingly submit; I beseech you, Sir, for our credits and safeties, let us seek men, at least, of parts and education, to whose abilities we may have some reason to give way. If, Sir, a patient dies under a physician's hand, the law esteems that not a felony, but a misfortune in the physician; but, if one that is no physician, undertakes the management of a cure, and the party miscarries, the law makes the empirick a felon, and sure, in all men's opinion, the patient a fool. To conclude, Sir, for great men to govern, it is ordinary; for able men, it is natural: knaves many times come to it by force and necessity, and fools sometimes by chance. But universal choice, in any election of fools and knaves for government, was never yet made by any who were not themselves like those they chose.

But methinks, Mr. Speaker, I see, ready to rise after me, some gentlemen, that shall tell you the great services that their new Lordships have done the commonwealth; that shall extol their valour, their godliness, their fidelity to the cause; the scripture too, no doubt, as it is to all purposes, shall be brought in to argue for them; and we shall hearof the ' wisdom of the poor man that saved the city, ofthe not.many wise, not many mighty'; attributes Icanno way deny to bedue to their Lordships. Mr. Speaker,! shall be as forward as any man to declare their services,and acknowledge them; though I might tell you, that the same honour is not purchased by the blood of an enemy,and of acitizen; that, forvictories in civil wars, till our army's march through the city, I have not read that the conquerors have been so void of shame as to triumph. Caesar, not much more indulgent to his country, than our late protector, did not so much as write publick letters of his victory at Pharsalia, much less had days of thanksgiving to his Gods, and anniversary feasts, for having been a prosperous rebel, and given justice and his country the worst.

But, Sir, I leave this argument, and, to be as good as my word, come to put you in mind of some of their services, and the obligation you owe them for the same. To speak nothing, Sir, of one of my Lords commissioner's valour at Bristol, nor of another noble Lord's brave adventure at the Bear-garden*; I must tell you, that most of them have had the courage to do things, which, I may boldly say,few other Christians durst have so adventured their souls to have attempted. They have not only subdued their cnemies,but their masters, that raised and maintained them. They have notonly conqucredScotlandand Ireland,but rebelliousEngland too; and there suppressed a malignant party of magistrates and laws. And, thatnothing should be wanting tomake them indeed compleat conquerors (without the help of philosophy) they have even conquered themselves. All shame they have subdued, as perfectly as all justice; theoaths they have taken, they have as easily digested, as their old general could himself; publick covenants and engagements they have trampled under foot. In conclusion, so intirea victory they have over themselves, that their consciences are as much their servants as (Mr. Speaker) we are. But,

See Page 380, Vol. VIII.

« AnteriorContinuar »