« PreviousContinue »
to him, finds them the same in effect which were offered to him at Newcastle : to some of which, as he could not then consent without violation of his conscience and honour, so neither can he agree to others now, conceiving them in many respects more disagreeable to the present condition of affairs than when they were formerly presented to him, as being destructive to the main principal interests of the army, and of all those whose affections concur with them : and His Majesty having seen the Proposals of the army to the Commissioners from his two Houses residing with them, and with them to be treated on in order to the clearing and securing the right and liberties of the kingdom, and the settling a just and lasting peace, to which Proposals, as he conceives his two Houses not to be strangers, so he believes they will think with him, that they much more conduce to the satisfaction of all interests, and may be a fitter foundation for a lasting peace, than the Propositions which at this time are tendered to him.
He therefore propounds (as the best way in his judgment in order to peace) that his two Houses would instantly take into consideration those Proposals, upon which there may be a personal treaty with His Majesty, and upon such other Propositions as His Majesty shall make, hoping that the said Proposals may be so moderated in the said treaty as to render them the more capable of His Majesty's full concessions, wherein he resolves to give full satisfaction unto his people for whatsoever shall concern the settling of the Protestant profession, with liberty to tender consciences, and the securing of the laws, liberties and properties of all his subjects, and the just privileges of Parliament for the future; and likewise by his present deportment in this treaty, he will make the world clearly judge of his intentions in the matter of future government : in which treaty His Majesty will be pleased (if it be thought fit) that Commissioners from the army (whose the Proposals are) may likewise be admitted.
His Majesty therefore conjures his two Houses of Parliament by the duty they owe to God and His Majesty their King, and by the bowels of compassion they have to their fellow subjects, both for relief of their present sufferings, and to prevent future miseries, that they will forthwith accept His Majesty's offer, whereby the joyful news of peace may be restored to this distressed kingdom.
And for what concerns the kingdom of Scotland mentioned in the Propositions, His Majesty will very willingly treat upon those particulars with Scotch Commissioners, and doubts not but to give a reasonable satisfaction to that His Majesty's kingdom.
64. LETTER OF CHARLES I. TO THE SPEAKER OF THE
HOUSE OF LORDS.
[November 17, 1647. Parliamentary History, iii. 799. See Masson's
Life of Milton, iii. 577.]
Charles Rex. His Majesty is confident, that before this time, his two Houses of Parliament have received the message which he left behind him at Hampton Court the 11th of this month ; by which they will have understood the reasons which enforced him to go from thence; as likewise his constant endeavours for the settling of a safe and well-grounded peace wheresoever he should be; and being now in a place where he conceives himself to be at much more freedom and security than formerly, he thinks it necessary, not only for making good of his own professions, but also for the speedy procuring of a peace in these languishing and distressed kingdoms, at this time to offer such grounds to his two Houses for that effect, which upon due examination of all interest, may best conduce thereunto.
And because religion is the best and chiefest foundation of peace, His Majesty will begin with that particular.
That for the abolishing Archbishops, Bishops, &c. His Majesty clearly professeth that he cannot give his consent thereunto, both in relation as he is a Christian and a King; for the first he avows, that he is satisfied in his judgment that this order was placed in the Church by the Apostles themselves, and ever since their time hath continued in all Christian Churches throughout the world, until this last century of years ; and in this Church in all times of change and reformation it hath been upheld by the wisdom of his ancestors, as the great preserver of doctrine, discipline and order in the service of God. As a King at his coronation, he hath not only taken a solemn oath to maintain this order, but His Majesty and his predecessors in their confirmations of the Great Charter, have inseparably woven the right of the Church into the liberty of the subjects; and yet he is willing it be provided, that the particular Bishops perform their several duties of their callings, both by their personal residence and frequent preaching in their dioceses, as also that they exercise no act of jurisdiction or ordination, without the consent of their Presbyters, and will consent that their powers in all things be so limited, that they be not grievous to the tender consciences of others. He sees no reason why he alone, and those of his judgment, should be pressed to a violation of theirs : nor can His Majesty consent to the alienation of Church lands, because it cannot be denied to be a sin of the highest sacrilege; as also that it subverts the intentions of so many pious donors, who have laid a heavy curse upon all such profane violations, which His Majesty is very unwilling to undergo; and besides the matter of consequence, His Majesty believes it to be a prejudice to the public good, many of his subjects having the benefit of renewing leases at much easier rates than if those possessions were in the hands of private men; 'not omitting the discouragement it will be to all learning and industry, when such eminent rewards shall be taken away, which now lie open to the children of meanest per
Yet His Majesty, considering the great preseột distempers concerning Church discipline, and that the Presbyterian government is now in practice, His Majesty, to eschew confusion as much as may be, and for the satisfaction of his two Houses, is content that the same government be legally permitted to stand in the same condition it now is for three years ; provided that His Majesty and those of his judgment, or any other who cannot in conscience submit thereunto, be not obliged to comply with the Presbyterian government, but have free practice of their own profession, without receiving any prejudice thereby; and that a free consultation and debate be had with the divines of Westminster (twenty of His Majesty's nomination being added unto them); whereby it may be determined by His Majesty and the two Houses, how the Church government after the said time shall be settled (or sooner, if differences may be agreed), as is most agreeable to the Word of God, with full liberty to all those who shall differ upon conscientious grounds from that settlement ; always provided, that nothing aforesaid be understood to
tolerate those of the Popish profession, nor exempting any Popish recusant from the penalties of the laws; or to tolerate the public profession of Atheism or blasphemy, contrary to the doctrine of the Apostles', Nicene and Athanasian Creeds, they having been received by, and had in reverence of all the Christian Churches, and more particularly by this of England, ever since the Reformation.
Next the militia being that right, which is inseparably and undoubtedly inherent to the Crown by the laws of this nation, and that which former Parliaments, as likewise this, have acknowledged so to be, His Majesty cannot so much wrong that trust, which the laws of God and this land hath annexed to the Crown, for the protection and security of his people, as to divest himself and successors of the power of the sword; yet to give an infallible evidence of his desire to secure the performance of such agreements as shall be made in order to a peace, His Majesty will consent to an Act of Parliament, that the whole power of the militia, both by sea and land, for and during his whole reign, shall be ordered and disposed by the two Houses of Parliament, or by such persons as they shall appoint, with powers limited for suppressing of forces within this kingdom to the disturbance of the public peace, and against foreign invasion ; and that they shall have power during his said reign to raise monies for the purpose aforesaid ; and that neither His Majesty that now is, or any other by any authority derived only from him, shall execute any of the said powers during His Majesty's said reign, but such as shall act by the consent and approbation of the two Houses of Parliament: nevertheless His Majesty intends that all patents, commissions, and other acts concerning the militia, be made and acted as formerly; and that after His Majesty's reign, all the power of the militia shall return entirely to the Crown, as it was in the times of Queen Elizabeth and King James of blessed memory.
After this head of the militia, the consideration of the arrears due to the army is not improper to follow ; for the payment whereof, and the ease of his people, His Majesty is willing to concur in any thing that can be done without the violation of his conscience and honour.
Wherefore if his two Houses shall consent to remit unto him such benefit out of sequestrations from Michaelmas last, and out of compositions that shall be made before the cons cluding of the peace, and the arrears of such as have been
already made, the assistance of the clergy, and the arrears of such rents of his own revenue as his two Houses shall not have received before the concluding of the peace, His Majesty will undertake within the space of eighteen months the payment of £400,000 for the satisfaction of the army; and if those means shall not be sufficient, His Majesty intends to give way for the sale of forest lands for that purpose. This being the public debt which in His Majesty's judgment is first to be satisfied : and for other public debts already contracted upon Church lands or any other engagements, His Majesty will give his consent to such Act or Acts for raising of monies for payment thereof, as both Houses hereafter shall agree upon, so as they be equally laid ; whereby his people, already too heavily burdened by these late distempers, may have no more pressures upon them than this absolute necessity requires.
And for the further securing all fears, His Majesty will consent that an Act of Parliament be passed for the disposing of the great offices of State, and naming of Privy Councillors for the whole term of his reign, by the two Houses of Parliament, their patents and commissions being taken from His Majesty, and after to return to the Crown, as is expressed in the articles of the militia. For the Court of Wards and Liveries, His Majesty very well knows the consequence of taking that away, by turning of all tenures into common socage, as well in point of revenue to the Crown, as in the protection of many of his subjects being infants ; nevertheless, if the continuance thereof seem grievous to his subjects, rather than he will fail on his part in giving satisfaction, he will consent to an Act for taking of it away, so as a full recompense be settled upon His Majesty and his successors in perpetuity; and that the arrears now due be reserved unto him towards the payment of the arrears of the army.
And that the memory of these late distractions may be wholly wiped away, His Majesty will consent to an Act of Parliament for the suppressing and making null all Oaths, Declarations and Proclamations against both or either House of Parliament, and of all indictments and other proceedings against any persons for adhering unto them ; and His Majesty proposeth, as the best expedient to take away all seed of future differences, that there be an Act of Oblivion to extend to all his subjects.
As for Ireland, the cessation therein long since deter