Englands Petition to King Charles
An humble Petition of the distressed
and almost destroyed Subjects of ENGLAND,
To the KINGS most excellent Majestie, now
at the Isle of Wight, That He would yeeld to His
Parliament in all their reasonable Demands
in the Treatie there.
Containing the very sense of all the loyallhearted true
lovers of the KING.
Better save something then loose all.
Printed in the Month that the Scots Army were utterly
overthrown, and Colchester taken. 1648.
1.1.1. To the obvious not desired Reader.
GOod Friend, We would have you know this Petition was intended onely for His Majeties view, but considering what power his pretended friends have with Him, we think fit to submit it to common view, and to turn it out, in hope His Majestie may be induced seriously to read it, and lay to heart the distresse of the miserable: if you censure it as the work of some few discontented persons, Know you it is the sense of our* The North and North-west of England , with he [...] habitants of Colchester part of the Kingdom, and if you will promise us hopes of successe, we'll soon return it you with the hands of 1000000. If you condemn us for speaking too plainly, Know that misery makes men forget good manners; and dying men use not complements; We are in the casi of the I epers, If we sit still we perish, therefore we will move in the way of hope, and go in to the King, though it be not according to Law, and if we perish we perish. Yet know, we will come farre short of the plainnesse of better persons and times, 2 Sam. 7.12. 1 King. 18.18. &c.&c.&c.
1.1.2. To the Kings most Excellent Majesty;
The humble Petition of many of Your distressed and almost destroyed Subjects of Your Kingdome of England.
DREAD SOVERAIGNE, It's a double grief to our souls, that we should be constrained to begge for our lives at Your hands, who are bound by the Law of God and nature, and by Your Oath, to preserve them, and that we should be forced to entreat You to spare our estates, liberties, and blood, whose honour and strength depends so much on these our enjoyments: But extremity prevaileth and drives us to You, and casteth us here prostrate at the feet of Your Majesty: And let not Your Majestie be offended, if we speak more plainly then usually becometh us; for necessitie hath no law: It is for our lives and more, and therefore blame us not to speak; our friends, our wives, our children, our wants, our dangers, our Countrey, our blood, do all pierce our ears and hearts with their daily and dolefull cryes; Oh that our requests could finde as quick accesse to Yours! Surely it's impossible Your Majestie should be ignorant of the dolefull condition Your two Kingdoms are in; Do You not know that our houses are replundred, and the fruit of our new labours taken from us; that men who have heretofore relieved hundreds of the poore, have not left them a bed to lye on, food to sustain them, or an house to put their heads in? And the poore they were wont to relieve, are forced to become Souldiers, that they may rob us by authoritie. Know You not how many thousand distressed souls cry to God day and night, in their anguish and misery, while they see You the Father of their Countrey, having no compassion on them? You were wont if we lost our estates by Pyrates, or but an house by fire, to grant [Page 4] Your gracious Letters Patents for our relief; but now Your Souldiers rob us of all, and burn our houses to the ground. You were wont to relieve Your Subjects when taken by Pyrates, and made Gally-slaves; and now the loathsome prisons are filled with their miserable, starved, diseased bodies, who (some of them) would think themselves half freemen were they Turkish Gally-slaves; such is their cruell usage. Know You not how our Corn lyes uncut, and devoured by Souldiers, who seise upon our horses and sheep, and eat the bread out of our mouthes? and what can follow this but extreame famine? Know You not how our blood is spilt, and the dead bodies of Your Subjects scattered as dung on the face of the earth? Have not your eyes seen it, and your ears heard the groans of the wounded, gasping for life? Is all this nothing in your ears? To whom should Your people go but to Your Majestie in this our distresse? We have tryed all other known means, and professe in the sight of God, we know none but Your Majestie, under God, that can deliver us without more blood and desolation; and the world knows it is in your hands, You may do it if you will; and do it easily, and do it with increase of Your honour, safetie, and happinesse. What if it were to part with something of Your right, yet should not your M[...]jestie do it to save the life of Your people, from whom, and for whose good, You first received it?
Dread Soveraigne, We beseech You consider, what hath your Parliament and people done, that deserves all this from You? Is it because your Parliament relieved us from oppressing Courts, and illegall taxations? Was it not with your own consent? and is it not your glory, to be King of a rich and free people? Is it because they prosecute Delinquents? Why, to what end are your Courts of Justice else? and are not they your chiefest Court? And can those be friends to You, and worth the defending, that are enemies to your Kingdoms? For your Forts and Navy, are they not yours for your Kingdoms good? And is not your Parliament, the Kingdom representative? We know your Majestie cannot mannage them in your own person, but by your Ministers, and those chosen by Counsell; and can You or the Kingdom possibly judge any more able, impartiall, and faith- [Page 5] full to advise You in this, then your Parliament? They medled not with it, till absolute necessitie constrained; till they saw Ireland in rebellion, the Rebels threatning England, and their own lives and the Kingdom in present apparent jeopardy, by the same spirits as malignant and active at home, and your Majesties consent to their Bill denyed. We cannot but see the same Counsels that set your Majestie against your Parliament, which caused their so long discontinuance, which caused the Ship-money, and other illegall taxations, which caused the late innovations in Church and State, which caused the warre with Scotland, which broke up the last Parliament, and caused that invective Declaration against them, in the very language of the present times, to be restlesse in their endeavours to carry on their wicked designes by raising a new warre. They desire nothing more then your concurrence; and we know if humble Petitions or loyall affections would procure it, there would not have been so long a distance. Neither is there any visible means left, but either the Parliament must give up our states, liberties, lives and Religion to the dispose of your toolong tryed secret Councell, and make your Majesties meer will the onely Law, and so betray their Countrey, and the trust committed to them; (which God forbid) or else defend us by the sword.
And for us your people, what have we done that we are made a common spoyl? Would your Majesty desire us (which we will never do) perfidiously to betray them whom we have trusted? and to kill them whom we have chosen to save us? and destroy those who are our selves representatively? Then should we be the disgrace of the English Nation, the reproach of our posteritie, the very shame of Nature, and should presently expect some strange judgement of God, according to the strangenesse of our offence. It's true, we are forced to take Antidotum contra Caesarem; or rather to save our throats from the violence of desperate persons; But we beseech You call not this bearing Arms against You; it may be against your will; but if any of your now followers be more respective of your royall Authoritie established by Law, more truly tender of your person and honour then we; then let not God prosper our proceedings, but cause us to fall before them, and give us up into their hands.
We are fallen upon by the cruell, and because we will not dye quietly, and without resistance, we are accused as traytors and enemies to your Majestie. We beseech your Majestie, consider in the presence of God, if your own Father and King had run upon you with his drawn sword, whether would You have suffered death without resistance, or have taken the sword pro tempore out of his hand? and yet neither be averse to his honour and person, or his propriety in his weapon. Doth not Nature teach us the preservation of our selves? will not the eye winke without deliberation? and the smallest worme turn back, if you tread on it? And beside nature, we have frequent presidents in sacred Writ, for even more then defensive resistance of Transcendent Monarke, 1 Sam. 14.44, 45. 1 Sam. 23.11, 12. 2 King. 1.10.12, 13. 2 Chron. 26.18.20. Dan. 6.14. &c. But if all this were nothing, yet we know your Majestie hath passed an Act for the continuance of this Parliament: and sure that Act must needs mean a Parliament with it's power and authoritie, and not the meer name and carkasse of a Parliament; It's not onely that they shall stay together in London, and do nothing, or no more then another Court; but that they continue your chief Counsell, your chief Court, and have sole legislative power, which are your Parliaments peculiar properties: And if your Majestie hath enacted the continuance of a reall Parliament in it's power, who seeth not that You have thereby joyned with them your royall Authority, though not your person? wherefore we hope your Majestie must needs discern that we fight not against You, but for your known establisht Authority in Parliament. And we hope your Majestie will not deny them to be your entire Parliament; for is the Act recall'd whereby they were established? if not, how can they sease to be your Parliament? neither let the fault be layed on part of them; for we all know the major part hath the authority of the whole; and if it were the minor part, why did not, or doth not the major overvote them? And we beseech your Majestie blame us not to think our Religion and all lyes at the stake, while we look back by what a train Popery had been almost brought upon us by that party, and see them still the chief in favour, and when so many Papists English and forreigne are now in Arms against us, and [Page 7] know no one Papist in the Land that is not zealous in the cause. Wonder not, Dread Soveraign, if we hardly beleeve that those come now to save us, who in 88. and the Powder Plot, would so cruelly have destroyed us: that Papists should be most zealous in fighting for the Protestant Religion, and Delinquents (proceeded against in parliament,) should stand for the priviledges and Laws of the Parliament; that oppressing Monopolists shou d fight for the Subjects liberties, seem all riddles and paradoxes to us. Blame us nor, we bessech You, to fear, while we see no contradiction appear to Mounsieur de Ches[...]e his book, sold openly for many yeers, not in Paris onely, but in London, and read at Court, which records your Majesties Letter to the Pope, promising to venture Crown and all to unite us to Rome again.
Dread Soveraigne, many Princes have gone astray through strength of temptation, and after have been happy in repenting and returning; Oh that the Lord would make it your case, and glorifie his mercy on You and us, in making known to You the thing concerning our peace, and not his Justice in hardning You to destruction: that it may never be read in our Chronicle by the generations to come, that England had a Prince who lived and dyed in seeking the desolation of his people, and the Church of God, and would not be wrought upon either by mercie or judgement. Your Majesty knoweth there is a King and a Judge above You; before whom You must very shortly stand and give account of your Government; We desire You in the presence of that God, to think, and think seriously, and think again how sad it will be, to have all this blood charged on your soul; Can your Majestie think of this with comfort when You are dying? Can these Counsellors that now put you on, then bring You as safely off? do you not see how the hand of God is against them in all they do? And are there not many desperate Levellers that plot the ruin of Kingly Government? Your Majesty may despise what we say, and call away our Petition, and judge us your enemies, because we tell you the truth, and speak as dying men in the sorrow of our souls; but You cannot so put by Divine Justice, or quiet conscience at the [...] : As true as the Lord liveth, your Majestie will one day know that Blasphemers, Papists, and flatterers, are not your friends; but [Page 8] plain dealers, who do assure You, the way You take, tends to the utter ruine and destruction of your Self and Kingdom. And can your heart endure, or can your hands be strong in the day the Lord will reckon with You for His people committed to your charge! Oh! suppose You now heard the blood of your people already spilt, crying in your ears, and saw the many thousands yet living a life worse then death, lying in their sorrows at your feet, crying for pitie, help, Oh King help, or we lose our liberties, Laws, lives and Religion; help that your Self and Royall posteritie, be not ruined: help as ever You would have God help You in the day of death and judgement, when your Self shall cry for help and pitie; help that deliverance come not some other way, while You and your Fathers house are destroyed. The Lord God of our hopes, who hath for our sins most justly afflicted us in You, give your Majestie a discerning eye, an holy and tender heart, to yeeld to the Petition of your distressed Subjects, To concur with your Parliament, that God and man may forget your mistakings, and You may be the blessedest Prince that ever reigned in our Land, the terrour of your reall enemies, the joy of your people, and the glory of posteritie; Such shall be the daily and heartie prayers of