« ПредишнаНапред »
privileges of Parliament would depend the future glory or misery of England. By the ability of his advocacy, by the constancy of his purpose, and by the manner of his death, he fully deserved that the author of the “Constitutional History of England” should call him, as he does, “the most illustrious confessor in the cause of liberty whom that time produced.”
SIR JOHN ELIOT.
ON THE CONDITION OF ENGLAND UNDER THE DUKE of BUCKINGHAM, DELIVERED IN THE HOUSE of commons, JUNE 3, 1628.
MR. SPEAKER :
We sit here as the great council of the King, and, in that capacity it is our duty to take into consideration the state and affairs of the kingdom; and, where there is occasion, to give them in a true representation by way of council and advice, what we conceive necessary or expedient for them.
In this consideration, I confess, many a sad thought has frighted me: and that not only in respect of our dangers from abroad, which yet I know are great, as they have been often in this place prest and dilated to us; but in respect of our disorders here at home, which do inforce those dangers, as by them they were occasioned.
For I believe I shall make it clear unto you, that as at first the causes of those dangers were our disorders, our disorders still remain our greatest dangers. It is not now so much the potency of our enemies, as the weakness of ourselves, that threatens us; and that saying of the Father may be assumed by us, Non tam potentia sua quam negligentia nostra. Our want of true devotion to Heaven, our insincerity and doubling in religion, our want of councils, our precipitate actions, the insufficiency or unfaithfulness of our generals abroad, the ignorance or corruption of our ministers at home, the impoverishing of the sovereign, the oppression and depression of the subject, the exhausting of our treasures, the waste of our provisions, consumption of our ships, destruction of our men l—These make the advantage to our enemies, not the reputation of their arms. And if in these there be not reformation, we need no foes abroad 1 Time itself will ruin us. You will all hold it necessary that what I am about to urge seem not an aspersion on the state or imputation on the government, as I have known such mentions misinterpreted. Far is it from me to purpose this, that have none but clear thoughts of the excellency of his Majesty, nor can have other ends but the advancement of his glory. To shew what I have said more fully, therefore, I shall desire a little of your patience extraordinary to open the particulars: which I shall do with what brevity I may, answerable to the importance of the cause and the necessities now upon us; yet with such respect and observation to the time as I hope it shall not be thought too troublesome. For the first, then, our insincerity and doubling in religion, the greatest and most dangerous disorder of all others, which has never been unpunished, and for which we have so many strange examples of all states and in all times to awe us, what testimony does it want? Will you have authority of books? look on the collections of the committee for religion, there is too clear an evidence. Will you have records? see then the commission procured for composition with the papists in the North? Note the proceedings thereupon. You will find them to little less amounting than a toleration in effect, though upon some slight payments; and the easiness in them will likewise shew the favor that 's intended. Will you have proofs of men? witness the hopes, witness the presumptions, witness the reports of all the papists generally. Observe the dispositions of commands, the trust of officers, the confidence of secrecies of employments, in this kingdom, in Ireland, and elsewhere. They all will shew it has too great a certainty. And, to these, add but the incontrovertible evidence of that allpowerful hand which we have felt so sorely, to give it full assurance For as the Heavens oppose themselves to us, it was our impieties that first opposed the Heavens. For the second, our want of councils, that great disorder in a State with which there cannot be stability,” if effects may shew their causes, as they are often a perfect demonstration of them, our misfortunes, our disasters, serve to prove it! And (if reason be allowed in this dark age, by the judgment of dependencies, the foresight of contingencies, in affairs) the consequences they draw with them confirm it. For, if we view ourselves at home, are we in strength, are we in reputation, equal to our ancestors? If we view ourselves abroad, are our friends as many, are our enemies no more? Do our friends retain their safety and possessions? Do our enemies enlarge themselves, and gain from them and us? What council, to the loss of the