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this conference there was a perfect concurrence of the House of Lords with the House of Commons, concerning the ratification of the list of Sir Thomas Fairfax's officers, in which was made no alteration at all. And this was, indeed, so acceptable to the House of Commons, that, upon report thereof unto the house, they appointed a committee to prepare a messenger to the Lords, to congratulate their happy concurrence, and to assure them of the real affection, and endeavours of the House of Commons, to support their lordships in their honours and their privileges. And now, an ordinance was drawn up for raising of money to maintain this army; which army was shortly after compleated, and with admirable success did take the field under the command of the renowned Sir Thomas Fairfax, the particulars whereof shall be the happy labour of some other pen, and not of this, which precisely only must deend upon the relations of the actions and saving counsels of his Excelency the Earl of Essex. Long did he thus continue a mighty agent for the health of this land, until it pleased God to strike him with a violent, a sudden, and a fatal sickness; and now, being confined to his bed, he had no more to do with his hands, but to lift them up to heaven, and his tongue was the orator to render their devotion the more acceptable. It was the force of his body that overcame his foes by arms, but it was the humility of his soul that overcame the Almighty by his prayers, which being a conquest for the body not to attain unto, the exalted soul hath now presented the laurels which the body had won for the cause of the Almighty. And these being laid down at the feet of God, they will be reserved in a temple not built with hands, until both soul and body shall be united, and, in the perfection of joy, shall triumph through all eternity. The same love, which did follow him alive, did continue to his death; many of the nobility being always round about his bed, and attending him with their grief, whom they could not relieve with their greatness. My lord of Holland had his hand so locked in his, when the coldness and sloth of death had begun to make heavy both his understanding and his limbs, that he used some strength to get it from him, as if by this, at his departure, he would leave some earnest behind him, that he would carry with him the love of his friends into a better world. And thus, having made peace with heaven, and peace with earth, he departed this life on the fourteenth of September, leaving, in all nations, to a world of those that honoured him the grief of his loss, the lustre of his transcendent virtues, and the attractive example of them, which, whosoever shall inherit, shall become the wonder and delight of this age, the lively model and portraict of himself, and the immortal heir of his fame and glory.
A. MOST LEARNED AND ELOQUENT SPEECH,
Spoken or delivered in the
Honourable House of Commons at Westminster,
By the most learned lawyer, Miles Corbet, Esq. recorder of Great Yarmouth, and burgess of the same, on the thirty-first of July, 1647, taken in short-hand by Nocky and Tom Dunn, his clerks, and revised by John Taylor.
This was a fictitious speech, published in the year 1679, intended to expose the bombast of the rebellious speakers, as well as the real misfortunes, which the nation laboured under by the usurpation, in those times of anarchy and rebellion.
KNOW not how to speak, I know no man weaker than myself, who do acknowledge, I am as unfitting to speak in this honourable assembly, as Phormio was to prattle an oration of war's discipline to the great soldier Hannibal, in the presence of King Antiochus; yet, out of the debility of my knowledge, the inability of my learning, the imbecility of my judgment, the nobility of this conscript senate, the mutability of their censures, the instability of opinions, the probability of offending, the volubility of scandal, and the impotency of my utteranee, I have, (maugre all these perillous impediments) adventured to unbosom and disburthen my mind before these unmatchable patriots. Mr. Speaker, I am not ignorant that you are appointed in this parliament, to be the ear of this kingdom, and mouth of the commons; and I desire that your hearing may not take any offence against my words; nor your tongue to retort me a reproof, instead of an applause.
Mr. Speaker, in my introduction togrammar, vulgarly call the Accidence, I found eight parts of speech, which is now an introduction to me to divide my speech into eight parts; that is to say: - I. What we have done for religion. II. What we have done for the church. III. What for the King. IV. What for the laws. V. What for the kingdom. VI. What for the subjects. VII. What for reformation. VIII. What for ourselves.
Of all these in order, as my infirm loquacity can demonstrate.
Mr. Speaker, I do not herein declare either or neither the opinions of
this honourable assembly, or any fancy of my own, but I will make plain
unto you, how the malignants esteem of us, and into what odium we are
fallen amongst foreign nations. * o
First, for religion: They say we have thrust out one religion, and taken in two; that we have thrown down protestantism, and erected-anabaptism and brownism; that by our doctrines we do abuse the famous memory of Queen Elisabeth, King James, and consequently King Charles; that in their religion they were papistically minded (which their lives and acts have and do manifest the contrary) and they say, it is no less than odious, and high treason, to traduce either of those deceased or surviving princes, with such false and scandalous aspersions.
Mr. Speaker, I would not be mistaken; I say not my own words, but I say what the malignants say of my Lord Say and of us. They say, that the protestant religion was wont to be, and ought, an inward robe or vestment, for the souls and consciences of all true believers; and that the bishops, ancient fathers, and all orthodox divines, had a care to keep her neat, clean, and handsome, in as spotless integrity as a militant church in this imperfect age could keep it. But they say, that we have made religion an outward garment, or a cloke, which none do wear amongst us, but sectaries, fools, knaves, and rebels. They say, this cloke being, with often turning, worn as threadbare as the publick faith, full of wrinkles, spots, and stains, neither brushed sponged, nor made clean, with as many patches in it, as in a beggar's coat, kept by coblers weavers, ostlers, tinkers, and tub-preachers; so that all order, and decent comeliness is trust out of the church; all laudable ornaments trod down and banishcd, under the false and scandalous terms of popery; and, in the place thereof, most nasty, filthy, and loathsome beastliness, our doctrines being vented in long tedious sermons, to move and stir up the people to rebellion, and traiterous contributions, to exhort them to murder, rapine, robbery, and disloyalty, and all manner of mischief that may be, to the confusion of their souls and bodies.
All these damnable villainies, our adversaries say, are the accursed fruits which our new moulded linsey-wolsey religion hath produced; for they say, our doctrine is neither derived from the old, or new testament; that all the fathers, protestant doctors, and martyrs, never heard of any such ; that Christ and his apostles never knew it; and, for the book of common prayer, they say in verse:
Ten-thousand, such as we, can ne'er devise, ... "
And so much they say we have done for religion; which is the first of my eight parts of speech; and as my weakness, and your patience will permit, I will more briefly and compendiously proceed to the second.
Secondly, we are taxed with profane and barbarous pollutions of the church, or houses, dedicated to God's service. They say, that we never built any, but have taken too much accursed pains to deface and pull down many, perverting the right use of them into stables, receptacles of strumpets, luxurious villains, and infernal stinking smokes of mundungo at the communion-table, destroying those things, which we, with great maturity of judgment, learning, and wisdom, set in order, enacted by former parliaments, most execrably spoiling all by the usurped power and protection of this parliament.
Mr. Speaker, It is a rigorous medicine for the tooth-ach to knock out the brains of the patient; he is no wise man that takes violent physick and kills himself, to purge a little phlegm; nor is he a prudent builder, if his house wants some slight repairs, will pull it down: a man, that loves his wife, will not put her away for a few needless black patches that her face is disfigured withal. In like manner, if anything were amiss, either ornament, gesture, ceremony, liturgy, or whatsoever might have been approved unfitting, scandalous, or justly offensive, it is conceived it might have been removed, or reconciled, in a more Christian way than by ruinating, demolishing, tearing, and violently defacing all, without regard of humanity, christianity, or order, either from God or man, as too many places in this unjointed kingdom can most truly and wofully testify. And these sweet pieces of service (our adversaries say) we have done for the church.
Thirdly, Concerning our loyalty and obedience to the King. It is manifest, that we have all taken the oath of allegiance to his majesty, and that we have also taken oaths and covenants to make war against him. Our enemies would fain know, who had power to dispense or free us from the former oath, and likewise by what authority the latter covenants and oaths were imposed upon the conscicnces of men. For my own part, if there were none wiser than myself, this ambiguous a nigma would never be unriddled. But it is reported, that if we had kept our first oaths conscientiously, and not taken the second most perniciously, and performed them most impiously, then we had never so rebelliously opposed and offended so gracious a majesty.
Mr. Speaker, Our adversaries do further alledge, that our obedience to his majesty is apparently manifest by many strange ways. We have disburthened him of his large revenues, we have eased him of the charge of royal house-keeping, we have freed him of paying of his navy, we have cleared him from either repairing of (or repairing to) his stately . palaces, magnificent mansions, and defensive castles and garisons; we have put him out of care for reparations of his armories, arms, ammunition, and artillery; we have been at the cost of keeping his children, and most trusty servants, from or for him; we have taken order, and
given ordinances, that he shall not be troubled with much money or meat; and that his queen and lawful wife shall not so much as darken his door. And we have endeavoured, by open rebellion, to release him of a most troublesome life and reign, by hunting him like a partridge over the mountains; and by shooting bullets of all sizes at his person for his majesty's preservation, on purpose to make him a glorious King in another world. We have eased him of a great number of his faithful friends, loyal subjects and servants, by either charitable famishing, brotherly banishment, liberal and free imprisonment, parliamental plunder, friendly throat-cutting, and unlawful beheading and hanging, or ruinating as many as we could lay hands of, that either loved, served, or honoured him.
All these heavy burthens we have eased him of, and overladen ourselves with the usurped ponderosity of them; so that our adversaries say, that the weight of them will either break our backs, our necks, or sink us for ever: and they say, that, since the world's creation, never so good a king had so bad subjects to use him so hardly.
Fourthly, Mr. Speaker, It is questioned what we have done for the laws. There are some that are not afraid to say, that we have transformed or metamorphosed the common laws of the land, into the land's common calamities; that, instead of the common benefit which the laws in community should yield to all men in general, we have perverted those laws to the private profit of ourselves, and some other particular persons. The civil law is turned into an uncivil civil war; blasphemy, atheism, sacrilege, obsceneness, profaneness, incest, adultery, fornication, bigamy, polygamy, bastard-bearing, cuckold-making, and all sorts of beastly bawdry are so far from being punished, that they are generally connived and winked at, or tolerated by us. And those which should be the punishers of these gross and crying crimes, as judges, officials, deacons, proctors, and other officers, these are derided, reviled, libelled against, cried down, and made a common scoffingstock of every libidinous incontinent whore, and whore-monger. The law of God, contained in the decalogue or ten commandments, we have rased out of the church, not so much as suffering them to be read: and the new commandment, which was the last that Christ commanded, that we should love one another, we have turned that the foul contrary way, to the spoiling and murdering one another. The law of nature is most unnaturally changed to brutish, heathenish, devilish, barbarous inhumanity; parricide, fratricide, and homicide, hath been, and is by us defended, maintained, and rewarded; no affinity, consanguinity, alliance, friendship, or fellowship, hath or can secure any true protestant, or loyal subject, either of his life or goods, safety or freedom. These are the best reports, our adversaries, the malignant party, do give us. It is farther said, that we have infringed and violated the law of arms here, and the law of nations abroad; for whereas messengers and ambassadors have always had, and ought to have free and safe passage, with fair and courteous accommodation and entertainment, which the