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Historical texts  >  The Levellers (Falsely so called) Vindicated



(Falsely so called)


Of the twelve Troops (which by Treachery in a Treaty) was lately surprised, and defeated at Burford, truly stated, and offered to the Judgment of all unbyassed, and wel-minded People, especially of the Army, their fellow Souldiers, under the Conduct of the Lord Fairfax.

By a faithful remnant, late of Col. Scroops, Commissary General Iretons, and Col. Harrisons Regiments, that hath not yet bowed their knee unto Baal, whose names (in the behalf of themselves, and by the appointment of the rest of their Friends) are hereunto subscribed.

It is well known, and yet fresh in the public memory, with what monstrous and hateful defamations, as Anti-Scripturists, Libertines, Atheists, Mutiniers, Levellers, &tc. we have most falsely and maliciously been deciphered out to the people and Army, on purpose to bury us under the rage and odium of our fellow-soldiers; and utterly to blast and prejudice the common acceptance against our late, lawful, and conscientious Undertaking: And seeing the equity of all transactions is most commonly measured by the event, and success that befalls them; few considering how God many times suffers unjust men to prosper, and spread themselves in the world like the Green Bay Tree; and the just (for their correction and proof) to be subdued and trod underfoot for a season. We are thereby at so great a seeming disadvantage amongst men, That in everything we are fore-spoken, our truths (how palpable and evident soever) are rendered as incredible, and regardless, strength and power being on their side to countenance their actions, our enemies overawing all judgements, and forcing by the might of their lawless Sword a credit or subjection to their own most perfidious and deceitful ways; so that, as for the fruit or success that we expect, we could still have sat in patience and not have uttered a word, but the dishonest and treacherous dealings received, with the woeful ruin of the Nation, therewith sustained in ours (evidently appearing) do so boil at our hearts, and so prevalently press upon our consciences, that we are not able longer to rest in silence; but let the hazard to us be what it will, we shall so far presume upon the public view, as faithfully and impartially, to set down the true state and manner of our whole proceedings in that our late undertaking, hitherto most falsely and deceitfully represented by the ruling Faction of the Army, and so leave the same to the judgement and timely consideration of all honest and conscientious people, especially of the Army, our fellow soldiers, under the conduct of the Lord Fairfax, and amongst them in a special manner, all those that really in judgement and conscience took up Arms for the Rights and Liberties of their Native Country, as the whole Army in their Declaration of the 14 of June, 1647, declare they all did.

Thus then understanding, that we the Soldiers of Col. Scroops Regiment, and others, were allotted for the service of Ireland without our consent; or of any of our fellow-soldiers in Council for us, we fell into serious debate (as in reason and honest we could do no less, considering likewise our late solemn Engagement), whether we could lawfully, in safety to ourselves, and our own Native Rights in England, submit unto that foreign service, or no? And finding by that our old solemn Engagement at New Market, and Triplo Heaths, June 5, 1647, with the manifold Declarations, Promises, and Protestations of the Army, in pursuance thereof, were all utterly declined and most perfidiously broken, and the whole fabric of the Common-wealth fallen into the grossest and vilest Tyranny that ever English men groaned under; all their Laws, Rights, Lives, Liberties and Properties, wholly subdued (under the vizard and form of that Engagement) to the boundless wills of some deceitful persons, having devolved the whole Magistracy of England into their Martial Domination, ruling the people with a Rod of Iron, as most men's woeful experience can clearly witness; which, with the consideration of the particular, most insufferable abuses and dissatisfactions put upon us, moved us to a unanimous refusal to go, till our Conscience were discharged in the faithful fulfillment of our said Solemn Engagement to our Native Country; in which Engagement we were expressly and particularly obliged against the service of Ireland, till full satisfaction and security were given to us, as Soldiers and Commoners, by a Council of our own free Election, according to the rule and tenor of that Engagement, recorded in the Army's Book of Declarations pag. 23, 24, 25, 26, 27.

Whereupon we drew up a Paper of some Reasons, by way of Declaration, concerning our said refusal, to deliver to our Colonel; unto which we all cheerfully subscribed, with many of our Officers (especially Cornet Den, who then seemingly was extreme forward in assisting us to effect our desires) which being delivered a day or two after, immediately our Officers caused a Rendezvous near unto Salisbury, where they declared, That the General intended not to force us, but that we might either go or stay; and so testifying our intents to stay, we were all drawn into the Town again, and the Colonel, with the rest of the Officers, full of discontent, threatened us the Soldiers; and because we were all, or most of one mind, he termed our Unity a Combination, or Mutiny; yet himself upon our request to know, told us, That he could not assure us, that he would go [to Ireland]. Which forementioned Paper, with a Letter, we sent to Commissary General Ireton's Regiment, who took it so well, That they were immediately upon their march towards our quarters, to join with us, for the making good of their and our Engagement, which we, they, and the rest of the Army had engaged at New-Market and Triplo Heaths.

After this, all politick means that could be thought upon were put in practice to work us off from our Resolutions, as severing the Troops and dealing with them apart, not suffering the Soldiers of one Troop to come to any of the other, employing Agents and Preaching Officers from Troop to Troop, to work us to that Service; and craftily, and lyingly, telling each Troop, That the other Troops were listed for the Irish Service, surreptitiously to over-reach, and gain us by that deceit. A crime they most maliciously fix upon others, whom they would make the world believe drew us to that undertaking, as in their Declaration of their proceedings against us, published last May 22, is to be seen, where page 6, speaking scandalously of some persons, naming none, yet strongly implying our four worthy Friends in the Tower, they say of them, That they sent their Emissaries and Agents into all parts, pretending from one Regiment to another that each Regiment had declared, That so by that Artifice, they might draw each to declare. To the Forces in Wales, and the west, they gave assurances that the forces about London would revolt; to those about London, that those in Wales, and the west, would do the same. Thus to shroud their own vileness, and to effect their own evil ends, they are not sparing to blast innocent persons with their own wicked devices [that they] themselves are so apparently and foully guilty of; and yet wipe their mouths, as if no speck or stain were upon them, and raise the report upon others.

All those devices working nothing upon us (there being no satisfaction given to our just exceptions) our Colonel fell to violent threats, and commanded us to put our Horses in a Field two miles from our Quarters; which though at first we did, yet finding the bitterness of his spirit to increase, and that upon his information, That the General and Lieutenant General were preparing a force against us: what could we do less, than put ourselves into the best posture we could to preserve ourselves, which we immediately did (and in this no man was more forward, and violently earnest, than that perfidious Apostate, Cornet Den.) And for our justification therein, we need go no further than their own words in the Army's Declaration of the 14 of June, 1647, where to justify their own opposition and rebellion to the Orders of a full, free, unforced, unravished and untwice purged Parliament, they tell us, That the Parliament has declared it no resisting of Magistracy, to side with the just principles, and Law of Nature and Nations, being that Law upon which the Army assisted; and that the Soldiers may lawfully hold the hands of the General that will turn his Cannon against his Army, on purpose to destroy them.

This being done, we had further Intelligence of the greatness and speediness of the Generals' preparations against us, and that, Though what we had done, did not amount to so much, as the Army had formerly done at Saffron Walden upon the Parliaments commanding them for Ireland, yet were we strangely represented to our fellow Soldiers, by the Lieutenant General [Oliver Cromwell] in Hide Park, under the notion of Mutiniers, Levellers, and deniers of the Scriptures, of purpose to make them engage against us; * so that now we saw there was no way of safety left us, but by standing upon our Guard and capitulating with our Sword in our hands, being encouraged thereto, as well by our own innocence, and the equity of those things upon which we had grounded our Resolutions: As also for that we could not think our fellow Soldiers of the Army, who with us engaged at New-Market Heath, would fight against us for upholding the said solemn Engagement, wherein they were equally concerned and obliged with us, both as Soldiers and Commoners to each other, to us, and the whole Nation, with whom it was made. But indeed, this Treacherous Tragedy was principally managed and acted by (that Turn Coat) Reynolds, and his Regiment; who for the most of them were strangers to that Engagement. A Company of Blood-thirsty Rogues, Murderers, Thieves, Highwaymen, and some that were taken in Colchester, and such as were cashiered out of other Regiments for high misdemeanors, being entertained therein. And these were the men principally designed and to be trusted against us as most fittest to fight for the truth of the Scriptures, and such Saints as the Lieutenant General. **

But to return. Hereupon our Officers leaving us, we chose new ones and disposed of our Colours, and immediately drew up a Resolution wherein we signified the Resolutions of the General (upon our refusal to go for Ireland) in a slight and unworthy manner to disband us after our so many years hard and faithful Services; which we then knew to have been practised upon many of our fellow Soldiers in Colonel Hueson's and Cook's Regiments; and thereupon we resolved to stand to our former Engagements made at New-Market; which the proceedings of the General and our Officers did expressly contradict and make void. This Declaration was publicly read at our Rendezvous in old Sarum, where four troops of Commissary General Ireton's met us, and unanimously assented to by both Regiments: whereupon our conjunction we advanced to Marlborough, and so to Wantage, where Commissioners from the General met us, to wit, Major White, Captain Scotten, Captain Peveral, and Captain Lieutenant Baily, with whom that day we did nothing, but agreed to meet at Stamford Green the next morning by eight of the Clock, where we were all according to appointment, but the Commissioners not coming, we marched out of the field, on our way towards Abbington; and as we were upon our march the Commissioners came posting after us, and we presently made a Halt; then they overtaking us, and told us, They had Order from the General, and Lieutenant General, to hear our Desires, and endeavor the Composure of our Differences; then they read a Letter unto us from the General, which took but little effect upon our Spirits; and so marching a little further, two of Col. Harrison's troops, to wit, Cap. Peck's and Captain Winthrop's were marching to their quarters, where Cornet Den and diverse others met them, And read a Declaration to them, and used many glorious invitations of them to desire them to come and join with us, making appear the lawfulness of our cause, telling them that we were resolved to stand to our first principles, and that if there were but ten men that would stand for those just things, he would make the eleventh, with diverse such like expressions, the two Troops being very willing to be satisfied in the lawfulness of the engagement, telling us they were marching to Thame and the next morning we should know their resolutions.

But as we were marching back again, before we were half out of the field, we spied a party of horse, which it seemed was the Apostate Reynolds with his mercenary damn crew (such as in our hearing most desperately swore, That if the Devil would come from hell and give them a groat a day more than the State, they would fight for him against the Levellers or any others) well, upon this we drew out a Forlorn hope, and therupon two Troops of Colonel Harrison's marched with us towards them; they retreated towards New-bridge and kept it by force against us, but we unwilling to shed blood, or to be the original occasion of a new war (though they hae often branded us with it as if we wholely fought it) but our actions did then clearly manifest the contrary; for we seeing Soldiers coming in a Hostile manner against us as aforesaid, did meet them, having forty or fifty of them at our mercy, and could have destroyed them, for we had them two miles from the foresaid bridge, but we did not then in the least offer them any violence or diminish a hair of their heads, but let them go to their body again, and withall marched to a Ford, because we would not in the least be an occasion of any bloodshed; and having marched through the Ford into the Marsh on the other side, we called our Council together, who referred the appointment of our quarters to Lieut. Ray and Cornet Den, who designed us for Burford, where being in the Treaty with the Commissioners, and having intelligence that the General and Lt. General were upon their march towards us, many of us several times urged to Major White and pressed upon him, that he came to betray us, to which he replied, That the General and Lieutenant General had engaged their Honours not to engage us in any Hostile manner till they had received our Answer, no not so much as to follow their Messengers or Commissioners with force, and being too credulous to the General's words, knowing that he never broke engagement with the Cavaliers in that kind; we gave the more credit to the Major, who seemed extreme forward and hasty to make the Composure, pretending so far to approve of our standing for the things contained in our engagement at Triplo-Heath, that himself with our consents drew up a Paper in Answer to the General for us, so fully according to our desires a that it gave us satisfaction, so that the Agreement betwixt the General's Commissioners and us seemed to be even concluded and at an end; And for full satisfaction take Copy of the said Letter which is as follows:

   May it please your Excellency,
We are your Excellency's Soldiers, who have engaged our lives under your Excellency's conduct, through all difficulties and hazards in order to the procurement of Freedom Safety and Peace to this Nation, and ourselves as Members thereof, and being lately designed by lot to be divided and sent over into Ireland for the prosecution of that service, in order to the Peace and safety of this Common-wealth, which we think necessary to be performed, but looking back to take a view of our former proceedings, we find that we cannot in conscience to ourselves, in duty to God, this Nation, and the rest of our fellow soldiers undertake that service, but by such a decision as is Agreeable to our solemn Engagement made at New-market Heath, the 5 of June 1647, where we did in the presence of God, with one consent solemnly engage one to another, not to disband nor divide, nor suffer ourselves to be disbanded nor divided, Until satisfaction and security was received by the judgement of a council consisting of two Officers and two Soldiers together with the General Officers that did concur, such satisfaction and security as that engagement refers unto; And being now departed from our obedience to you because you keep not Covenant with us: yet we shall not in the least harbor any evil thought or prejudice against you, nor use any act of hostility, unless necessitated thereunto in our own defence, which we desire God to prevent; All that we desire (and we speak it in the presence of God, who knows our hearts) is, that your Excellency will call a General Council according to the solemn Engagement. The the Judgment whereof we will acquiesce, and refer ourselves to them to take an account of our late actions. This being assured we will every man with cheerfulness return to our obedience, and submit to your Excellency and the Judgment of that Council in all matters that concern us as Soldiers, or Members of this Common-wealth; this we beg of your Excellency to grant, out of the respect of your duty to God, this Nation, and the Army, that we may thereby retain our peace with him and procure the happiness of this Nation under him, which is the desire of our souls: If you shall deny us this, we must lay at your door all the Misery, Bloodshed and Ruin that will fall upon this Nation and Army; for we are resolved as one man by God's assistance to stand in this Just desire, and although our bodies perish, yet we shall keep our consciences clear, and we are confident our souls will be at peace; now till we have a full determination herein, we desire your Excellency will forbear all manner of hostility, or marching towards us for avoiding any inconveniences that may come to ourselves or the Country; these desires with affection being granted, we hope the falling out of friends will be the renewing of love, And we shall subscribe and manifest ourselves your Excellency's faithful Soldiers, and servants to this Common-wealth.

But to return, during the time of treaty, while the Commissioners thus assured us all security, one of them, to wit, Captain Scotten privately slipped from us, and two others, to wit, Captain Bayley and Peverill, left notes at every Town of our strength and condition, while Major White held us in hand and told us that if they fell upon us he would stand between the bullets and us: So that when notice had been sufficiently given, and we with all the means that could be used, wrought into a secure condition at Burford, and after the setting of our Guard, which was commanded by Quarter-Master More who was thereupon appointed by his Brother Traitor, Cornet Den (who himself) since his coming to London has avowedly declared to Ma. W. W. to this effect that his beginning, and continuing with the Burford Troops was out of premeditated and complotted design, that so at last he might the easier bring on their destruction, holding all the time he was with them correspondence with the General's creatures, which said Quarter-Master More after he had set the Guard in this slight manner, and possessed us with as much security as he could, and under the pretence of going to refresh himself and horse, did most villanously and treacherously leave the guard without any Orders, and himself in person posted away to the General's forces and brought them in upon us, marching in the head of them with his sword drawn against us; and Quarter-Master More being afterward called Traitor by some of the Soldiers, Cap. Gotherd of Scroop's Regiment made answer, he was none, for that he did nothing but what he was sent to do; so that most Treacherously, that same night the General's forces came pouring on both sides of the Town of Burford, where we had not been above three hours, swearing, Damn them and sink them, and violently fell upon us, and so by a fraudulent and Treacherous surprise defeated us, not expecting it during the Treaty, especially from them with whom we had joined these seven years for the defense of England's Liberties and Freedoms, and though diverse of us had fair quarter promised us by Colonel Okey, Major Barton and the rest of the Officers then with them, as that not a hair of our heads should perish, yet did they suffer their soldiers to plunder us, strip us, and barbarously to use us, worse than Cavaliers, yea Cromwell stood by to see Cornet Tomson, Master Church and Master Perkins murdered, and we were all condemned to death, although Colonel Okey, Major Barton and others of the Grandees had engaged that not a hair of our heads should perish, when they surrendered themselves unto them, Tompson being then at the head of a part of two Troops of horse, and the other with their fellow Soldiers made good their Quarters while they had the conditions promised them, and then Cromwell after this horrid murder was committed upon the three forementioned, contrary to Okey's, Barton's and others of their promises at their taking them, came to us in the Church, and making his old manner of dissembling speeches, told us it was not they that had saved our lives, but providence had so ordered it, and told us that he could not deny but that many of the things that we desired were good, and they intended to have many of them done, but we went in a mutinous way, and disobeyed the General's Orders; but withall he told us that we should not be put off with dishonourable terms, because we should not become a reproach to the common Enemy: but we desire all unbiased men to judge whether ten shillings a man, and a piece of paper for seven years Service, be honourable terms: the paper being good for nothing but to sell to Parliament mens Agents, who have set them a work to buy them for three shillings, or four shillings in the pound at most; and we are forced to sell them to supply our wants, to keep us from starving, or forcing us to go to the highway, by reason they will not pay us one penny of our Arrears any other way but by papers, that so they may rob us and the rest of the Soldiers of the Army of their seven years Service, to make themselves and their adherents the sole possessors of the late King's Lands for little or nothing: and for aught we know, the moneys they buy our Debenters withall, is the money the Nation cannot have any account of. But this their dealing is not only so to us, whom they pretend disobeyed their commands; but they dealt so basely by other Soldiers who never resisted their unjust Commands, as we believe no age can parallel: For in the first place, they thurned them off with two months pay. Secondly, they have taken away three parts of their Arrears for Free-quarter, though the Country (whose victuals, grass and corn they eat) be never the better: and do also force them to sell their papers at the rate aforesaid. And dear fellow-Soldiers, think not because you are in Arms a little longer than we that you shall speed better than we, which they have disbanded before you; but be assured that when they have their own ends served on you, as they have already on us, you shall have as bad conditions of them, and maybe worse, if it be possible, than we have had before you; and may also reward you for your good services, by raising a company of mercenary Rogues to cut your throats, as they did traitorously to cut ours at Burford.

But to return, from this sad and long digression: by this their serpentine craft, and our own overcredulous innocency, we were overthrown, and our hopeful beginnings for the rescue and delivery of our selves and the nation from thraldom, blasted and destroyed; and then utterly to break and dash in pieces our spirits, and in us all Assertors of the Freedoms of England, and to put an utter inconfidence and jealousy forever among such upon all future engagements, they made that wretched Judas Den, to that end their pandor and slave. They pretendedly spare his life after his condemnation to death, although now upon good grounds and intelligence, (yea partly from his own confessions as is noted before) we do believe that from the beginnings of our proceedings, he was their appointed Emissary (as well as the forementioned Quartermaster) to be most zealous and forward of any man for us, the better to compass our ruin and lead us like poor sheep to the slaughter; they enjoin Den, to preach Apostacy to us in the Pulpit of Burford Church, to assert and plead the unlawfulness of our engagement, as much as before the lawfulness to vindicate, and justify all those wicked and abominable proceedings of the General, Lieutenant General and their officers against us, howling and weeping like a Crocodile, and to make him a perfect Rogue and villain upon everlasting Record, to which like the most abhorred of mankind to bring about their pernicious ends upon the people, he willingly submitted, and to this end published a Recantation paper fraught with lies, infamies and most Traiterous assertions of an arbitrary power evidently tending to the introduction thereof upon this Nation in the persons of the chief Leaders of the Army, and in that paper at the advantage of this wicked and treacherous overthrow of ours endeavored to bury our solemn Engagement at Newmarket heath in our ruins, as if long since cancelled and of no longer force or obligation, pretending that by petition we had called home our council of Agitators and so dissolved our engagement at Newmarket heath, And so the Army absolved from all further observation thereof.

Now to this, is to be considered that the said engagement was radical upon the grounds of common freedom, safety, and security to the Nation, and upon that account and to that end only undertaken and solemnly made, and all righteous oaths, vows, and covenants are indissolvable and of force till their full and perfect accomplishment; the Apostacy and defection of no man, though of him or those that vows, or makes such oaths or engagements can absolve or untie them; and this no man that has any spark of Conscience or Christianitie in him can deny. Therefore it was most deceitfully and corruptly urged, that the same power that gave it a being dissolved it; for till the vows of that engagement be paid unto the people, it stands firm and obligatory, till then the gates of hell are not able to prevail and obliging power thereof; and we are sure none can say the genuine ends and intents of that engagement are yet obtained, but a thousand times further off than at the making of that vow. Besides, as that engagement enjoins, what security or satisfaction to their private or public rights, both as Soldiers and commoners, have we or the rest of our fellow soldiers yet received from a council consisting of two Soldiers choses out of every Regiment, two Commission officers with such General officers only as assented to that undertaking, when or where was it? Indeed had such a Council so concluded, and we the soldiers by our unanimous testimony and subscription (as we did to our engagement) testify our satisfaction, there might have been some plausible pretence for its dissolution; but to this day it is evident to the whole world that no such thing has been, and this was the express letter and intent of that Newmarket engagement; and to urge a petition for recalling the Agitators is a blind excuse; for put the case that there has been such a one, and that of general concurrence yet could it not detract or any way diminish from that righteous engagement; though the defection and subscription were both of General, Officers and Soldiers, yet the foundation of that Vow stands sure to us all, it is immovable till its own proper end, viz. the accomplishment of the righteous end therein contained, affix its period: which we earnestly desire, may be conscientiously and seriously laid to heart by all our fellow-soldiers in solemn covenant with us; for there is a God that overseeth, and one day (when there will be no Articles of War to prevent) will call us to a strict reckoning for the breach of faith and vows one to another, and the Nation, and account with us for all the blood, ruin, misery and oppression that thereby has ensued, and still depends upon that most monstrous Apostacy. That pretended Petition at that day will be found to be but a broken reed to lean upon, it will nothing abate of the guilt: and however it is now highly urged to wipe off all worldly dishonour from the iron Rulers of our Age, we are not such strangers to the Army, if any such Army Petition were, as not to know it: Sure we are, no such Petition can be produced from any single Troop, Company, or Regiment, much less from the Army. And though some such endeavours were for the promotion of so wicked and vile an enterprise, and now as evilly made use of; yet it never fell under the cognizance of the Army, neither yet of any single entire Regiment, Troop or Company; and the Engagement by the Army was made as an Army, by unanimous consent, and therefore no otherwise dissolvable, but unanimously as an Army and that neither otherwise than righteously, after the tenor and true intent of that Engagement, as we have clearly evinced, and therein have discharged our Consciences: See further upon this Subject a late Book of Aug. 1649 Lieut. Col. John Lilburn's, entitled An Impeachment of High Treason against Oliver Cromwell and Henry Ireton Esquires, page 4, 5. See also the 40, 41, 42, 43, 81 pages of the second edition of his Book of the eight of June 1646 entitled The Legal Fundamental Liberties of the People of England, asserted, revived and vindicated.

Thus we have truly stated the case of our late proceedings and differences betwixt our Officers and us, and hope sufficiently to beget a right understanding and approvement, especially with all honest and conscientious people, of the equity of our late undertakings: however to those that are and shall come after, we have published and left upon record a perfect view and Prospect of our condition, that if the present Perusers shall not, yet happily that those that are to come may be thereby provoked to consideration thereof, and equal resentment with us of the righteous ends of that now betrayed, deserted, Engagement of the Army, which we chiefly desire and expect at the hands of our Fellow Soldiers, that they may not longer like their Leaders be numbered amongst such as will not be limited or circumscribed within any Bounds, Engagements, Oaths, Promises, or Protestations, but level, break, frustrate and throw off all, (as if no ties betwixt man and man were to be on mankind) to bring about the corrupt ends of their ambition and avarice, as not only in this case of ours, but in all others of their public undertakings since the beginning of the Army's Engagement is clearly manifest, and yet all their successes and advancements over the People, gained by their perjury, fraud, equivacations, treacheries and deceits they ascribe to the immediate approving hand of God, and zeal over their delusions with the glorious exercise of Religious formalities to the eye of the People, by which a thick mist, as thick as the Egyptian darkness is lately come over the eyes of the greatest pretenders to true purity and Religion, and many conscientious people therewith bewitched into the favour and approvement of their alone Jesuitical, wicked, desperate and bloody ways, even to the opposition and persecution of the most faithful and constant promoters of, and sufferers for, the just freedoms of the Nation.

But in case our fellow Soldiers will not remember their vows, but still slight and desert the same, their sin be upon their own heads, we have discharged ourselves; yet considering they may again possibly incline to their country's redemption (as labouring more under ignorance than willfulness) we shall offer them and all others that bear good will to the Nation, what in reason and Equity is most conducing to a safe and well grounded peace amongst us, and which by its greatest Adversaries cannot be denied but to be righteous and just, though contradictory to the lawless Lordship and ambitions of their Officers.

And first, We desire it may be considered, that our Hostile engagements against the late King, was not against him as out of any personal enmity, but simply and singly against his Oppressions and Tyranny on the People, and for their removal, but the use and advantage on all the success God has been pleased to give us is perverted to that personal end, that by his removal the Ruling sword-men might intrude into his Throne, set up a Martial Monarchy more cruel, Arbitrary and Tyranical than England ever yet tasted of, and that under the Notion of a Free State, when as the People had no share at all in the constitution thereof, but by the perjurie and falseness of the Lieutenant General and his Son-in-Law Ireton with their Faction was enforced and obtruded by mere conquest upon the People, a Title which Mr. John Cook in his Book entitled King Charles his Case &c. there confesses to be more fit for Wolves and Bears than amongst men, and that such Tyrants that do so govern with a rod of Iron, do not govern by God's permissive hand of approbation, and in such Cases it's lawful for a People to rise up and force their deliverance, See page 8, 10.

Now, rather than thus be vassallaged, and thus trampled and trod underfoot by such that over our backs, and by the many lives, and loss of our blood from us and our fellow-soldiers, have thus stepped into the chair of this hateful Kingship and presumption over us, in despite and defiance of the consent, choice and allowance of the free-people of this Land the true fountain and original of all just power, as their own Votes against the Kingly Government confess) we will choose subjection to the Prince, choosing rather ten thousand times to be his slaves than theirs, yet hating slavery under both: and to that end, to avoid it in both, we desire it may be timely and seriously weighed.

. . . this conquest Constitution is not the way of England's peace. There is but two ways, by Conquest, or Agreement; by fire and sword, or by compact and love; and both these are contrary to each other as light is to darkness, and take their rise from contrary ends; and the way of love must needs be of God, for God is love, and all ways are love; therefore we are bold of all other ways and Expedients whatsoever, to commend only this way of love, of popular Agreement to the public consideration for a well founded and safe settled peace.

That whereas a most judicious and faithful Expedient to this purpose has as a Peace-offering been tendered to the acceptance of the free people of England, entitled An Agreement of the People, dated May 1 1649, from our four faithful Friends, now close prisoners in the Tower of London, we cannot but judge, that that way of Settlement, to wit, by an Agreement of the People is the only and alone way of attonement, reconciliation, peace, freedom and security (under God) to the Nation; it being impossible by way of Conquest to allay the feud, divisions, parties and Quarrels amongst us, which if not stopped will certainly devour us up in Civil and domestic Broils, though we should have none from abroad; for the Sword convinceth not, it does but enforce; it begets no love, but foments and engenders hatred and revenge; for blood thirsts after blood, and vengence rages for vengence, and this devours and destroys all where it comes. And though our present Rulers have settled themselves, and their conquest-Government over us; yet are we farther from peace and reconciliation than ever. The discontents and dissatisfactions amongst the people in the King's time, which at length burst into desperate War was not the hundredth part so great as the discontents that are now; and if so much did follow the lesser, can better be expected from the greater? Never were there such repinings, heart-burnings, grudgings, envyings and cursings in England as now, against the present Governors and Government; never such fraction and division into parties, binding, biting, countermining and plotting one against another for preeminency and majority than now; and of all this nothing is the cause, but this way of force and martial obtrusion. And can it be imagined such counterplottings, repinings and divisions can be with safety and peace? it is impossible. Insurrections, tumults, revoltings, war and commotions are the proper issues of the ways of such violence, and no better is to be expected: none but intruders, usurpers and tyrants can be for the way of force; such as would be but servants to the people, and not make the people their servants, cannot but abhor it, and lay down their glory at the feet of the people. These (that now ramp and rage over us) were they other than Tyrants, could do no less: they draw near it indeed in words, but are so far as hell from it in actions; they vote and declare the People the supreme Power, and the original of all just Authority; pretend the promotion of an Agreement of the people, style this the First year of England's Freedom, entitle their Government a Free State, and yet none more violent, bloody and perverse enemies thereto; for not under pains of death, and confiscation of lands and goods, may any man challenge and promote those rights of the nation, so lately pretended to by themselves. If we ask them a Fish, they give us a Scorpion, if bread, they give us a stone. Nothing but their boundless, lawless wills, their naked swords, Armies, arms and ammunition is not law in England; never were a people so cheated, so abused and trod under foot; enough to enrage them (as once the children of Israel against Adoram) to stone them to death as they pass the streets; which some could not certainly escape, were it not the fiery sword, vengence that surrounds them, which at the best is but the arm of flesh, for their shelter and protection, and may fail ere they are aware. All sorts of people watch but for their opportunity, and if it once come like a raging sea on Pharaoh and his host, they will swallow and devour them up alive: and sure, this kind of constitution of Government thus by force in despite of the people obtruded and settled, thus grutched, cursed and hated, will never bring any peace, quiet or rest unto this Nation, it will be but as a continual fire in their bones: therefore this conquest Constitution is not the way of England's peace. There is but two ways, by Conquest, or Agreement; by fire and sword, or by compact and love; and both these are contrary to each other as light is to darkness, and take their rise from contrary ends; and the way of love must needs be of God, for God is love, and all ways are love; therefore we are bold of all other ways and Expedients whatsoever, to commend only this way of love, of popular Agreement to the public consideration for a well founded and safe settled peace: and upon this account, and no other, can any security or enjoyment be expected to any public transactors in this English Theatry, whether Prince or others. We believe, he that now judges otherwise will at the length, it may be, when it is too late, find himself as much deceived, as he that lost his head against his own Palace gate.

Therefore considering there can be no sure building without a firm foundation, and for prevention of further homebred divisions and backslidings into blood, we desire our fellow Soldiers for their several Regiments of Horse and Foot to choose their respective Agents to consider of this way of Peace, that yet at length they may be instrumental in saving (as now they are in destroying) this Nation; but considering what unsettledness, and wavering from their principles, has appeared among them, and how slender grounds we have of their return from Apostacy, we heartily desire that all serious and well-affected people, that have any bowels of compassion in them to an afflicted, distressed nation, any sense of piety, justice, mercy or goodness in them, any hatred to oppression or remorse of spirit, at the afficted, or desire of deliverance, or freedom from their worse than Egyptian bondage, that they would lay the miserable condition of the Nation to heart and unite themselves in their endeavours for a new, equal and speedy Representative; and we humbly offer this motion as a just expedient to that end that they would choose two or three or more faithful persons from their several and respective Counties of the Land to come up to London to demand their freedom and release of the Owners and Publishers of the foresaid Agreement unjustly detained in Prison by Will and Force, to debate and consult with them &c. of some way if possible to accomplish the said Agreement, before a deluge of Intestine insurrections and Foreign Invasions from Ireland, Scotland, Swethland, Denmark, France, and Spain, sweep us away from the Land of our Nativity; and for our parts we do declare, we have still the hearts of Englishmen in us, and shall freely (if there be occasion) spend the Remainder of our strength and blood, for the redemption and purchase of an Agreement of the People, upon the foresaid principles, the which for the satisfaction of such as have not seen it, We have hereunto annexed the formentioned draught of the said Agreement of our 4 imprisoned Friends in the Tower of London, as containing those things our souls like and approve of as the most exactest that our eyes have seen, and commend the effectual promoting of it to the serious consideration of all the true hearted friends of this miserable and distressed Nation, and the rest

The Nation's true Friends and hearty Well-wishers
while we have a drop of blood running in our Veins.

signed at London this 20 of August 1649, by us

John Wood   Robert Everard   Hugh Hurst
Humphrey Marston   William Hutchinson   James Carpen

in the behalf of ourselves, and by the appointment of the rest of our forementioned Friends of the three forementioned Regiments.


Footnotes in original text

Though none act more directly against the tenor thereof than themselves, as is too manifest by their frequent breaking of all Faith, and Promises, making nothing of Treachery, dissembling, yea, and lying too (which is not once to be mentioned amongst Saints, as they would have men think of them.) O abominable Hypocrites! know you not, that dissembling Piety is double Iniquity; but we fear, while you pretend to Scripture, you believe neither it, nor the Resurrection: For if you did, you would not condemn the Innocent, against Knowledge and Conscience, of those things your selves are guilty. Repent betimes, or else your portion will be with Hypocrites. [This blast is aimed mainly at Oliver Cromwell, the Lieutenant General mentioned above.]

These are of the men that usually asperse the People's best Friends with such Language, as Atheists, Levellers, Anti-Scripturists, and who live more like such, than they? for it is they who ruin all, and destroy Propriety, by their Arbitrary and Lawless Power; and who more like Jesuits than [the Jesuits] themselves for crafty Policy, Lying, and Treachery? and certainly these be the effects or fruits of Atheism: For by their works you shall know them.

Notes and Links

visage, or mask
our four worthy Friends in the Tower
Four of the leaders -- John Lilburn, Richard Overton, William Walwyn, and Thomas Prince -- had been imprisoned for publishing a pamphlet entitled Englands New Chains Discovered.
some that were taken in Colchester
An allegation that formerly royalist soldiers were included in Reynold's Regiment, used by Fairfax and Cromwell to chase and attack the mutinous soldiers.
panderer - from Pandarus, in classical myth, a Trojan who attempted to assassinate Menelaus, thereby violating a truce between the Greeks and the Trojans and prolonging the Trojan War. In Chaucerian and other medieval accounts, he is the procurer of Cressida for Troilus.
Adullam (?) - town in the western foothills of Judea. See Micah 1:15 - 2:9.