« PreviousContinue »
PRELIMINARY REMARKS. Upon these compositions it is unnecessary to remark separately. They may, however, be regarded as a sufficient answer to those, who, like Dr. Johnson, supposed Milton to have possessed no talents or aptitude for public business. Toland places them in their true light, when he observed that they were palpable documents for those engaged in writing or studying the history of the period; and for this reason they will always deserve to be included in collections of the works of Milton.
LETTERS OF STATE
TO MOST OF THE SOVEREIGN PRINCES AND REPUBLICS OF EUROPE
DURING THB ADMINISTRATION OP TIE COMMONWEALTH AND THE PROTECTORS
OLIVER AND RICHARD CROMWELL.
LETTERS WRITTEN IN THE NAME OF THE PARLIAMENT. The Senate and People of ENGLAND, to the most noble
Senate of the City of HAMBOROUGH. For how long a series of past years, and for what important reasons, the friendship entered into by our ancestors with your most noble city has continued to this day, we both willingly acknowledge, together with yourselves; nor is it a thing displeasing to us, frequently also to call' to our remembrance. But as to what we understand by your letters dated the twenty-fifth of June, that some of our people deal not with that fidelity and probity, as they were wont to do in their trading and commerce among ye, we presently referred it to the
consideration of certain persons well-skilled in those matters, to the end they might make a more strict inquiry into the frauds of the clothiers, and other artificers of the woollen manufacture. And we further promise, to take such effectual care, as to make you sensible of our unalterable intentions to preserve sincerity and justice amongst ourselves, as also never to neglect any good offices of our kindness, that may redound to the welfare of your commonwealth. On the other hand, there is something likewise which we not only required, but which equity itself, and all the laws of God and man, demand of yourselves; that you will not only conserve inviolable to the merchants of our nation their privileges, but by your authority and power defend and protect their lives and estates, as it becomes your city to do. Which as we most earnestly desired in our former letters ; so upon the repeated complaints of our merchants, that are daily made before us, we now more earnestly solicit and request it : they complaining, that their safety, and all that they have in the world, is again in great jeopardy among ye. For although they acknowledge themselves to have reaped some benefit for a short time of our former letters sent you, and to have had some respite from the injuries of a sort of profligate people; yet since the coming of the same Coc--m to your city, (of whom we complained before,) who pretends to be honoured with a sort of embassy from the son of the lately deceased king, they have been assaulted with all manner of ill language, threats, and naked swords of ruffians and homicides, and have wanted your accustomed protection and defence; insomuch that when two or three of the merchants, together with the president of the society, were hurried away by surprise aboard a certain privateer, and that the rest implored your aid, yet they could not obtain any assistance from you, till the merchants themselves were forced to embody their own strength, and rescue from the hands of pirates the persons seized on in that river of which your city is the mistress, not without extreme hazard of their lives. Nay, when they had fortunately brought them home again, and as it were by force of arms recovered them from an ignominious captivity, and carried the pirates themselves into custody, we are informed, that Coc-m was so audacious as to demand the release of the pirates, and that the merchants might be delivered prisoners into his hands. therefore again, and again, beseech and adjure you, if it be your intention that contracts and leagues and the very ancient commerce between both nations should be preserved, (the thing which you desire,) that our people may be able to assure themselves of some certain and firm support and reliance upon your word, your prudence, and authority; that you
would lend them a favourable audience concerning these matters, and that you would inflict deserved punishment as well upon Coc-m, and the rest of his accomplices
in that wicked act, as upon those who lately assaulted the preacher, hitherto unpunished, or command them to depart your territories ; nor that you would believe, that expelled and exiled Tarquins are to be preferred before the friendship, and the wealth, and power of our republic. For if you do not carefully provide to the contrary, but that the enemies of our republic shall presume to think lawful the committing of any violences against us in your city, how ansafe, how ignominious the residence of our people there will be, do you consider with yourselves! These things we recommend to your prudence and equity, yourselves to the protection of heaven.
Westminster Aug. 10, 1649.
To the Senate of HAMBOROUGH. Your conspicuous favour in the doubtful condition of our affairs is now the reason, that after victory and prosperous success, we can no longer question your good-will and friendly inclination towards us. As for our parts, the war being al. most now determined, and our enemies everywhere vanquished, we have deemed nothing more just, or more conducing to the firm establishment of the republic, than that they who by our means (the Almighty being always our captain and conductor) have either recovered their liberty, or obtained their lives and fortunes, after the pernicious ravages of a civil war, of our free gift and grace, should testify and pay in exchange to their magistrates allegiance and duty in a solemn manner, if need required : more cspecially when so many turbulent and exasperated persons, more than once received into protection, will make no end, either at home or abroad, of acting perfidiously, and raising new disturbances. To that purpose we took care to enjoin a certain form of an oath, by which all who held any office in the commonwealth, or, being fortified with the protection of the law, enjoyed both safety, ease, and all other conveniences of life, should bind themselves to obedience in words prescribed. This we also thought proper to be sent to all colonies abroad, or wherever else our people resided for the convenience of trade; to the end that the fidelity of those over whom we are set, might be proved and known to us, as it is hut reasonable and necessary. Which makes us wonder so much the more at what our merchants write from your city, that they are not permitted to execute our commands by some or other of your order and degree. Certainly what the most potent United Provinces of the Low Countries, most jealous of their power and their interests, never thought any way belonging to their inspection, namely, whether the English foreigners swore fidelity and allegiance to their magistrates at home, either in these or those words, how that should come to be so suspected and troublesome to your city, we must plainly acknowledge that we do not understand. But this proceeding from the private inclinations or fears of some, whom certain vagabond Scots, expelled their country, are said to have enforced by menaces, on purpose to deter our merchants from swearing fidelity to us, we impute not to your city. Most earnestly therefore we entreat and conjure ye (for it is not now the interest of trade, but the honour of the republic itself that lies at stake) not to suffer any one among ye, who can have no reason to concern himself in this affair, to interpose his authority, whatever it be, with that supremacy which we challenge over our own subjects, not by the judgment and opinion of foreigners, but by the laws of our country; for who would not take it amiss, if we should forbid your Hamburghers, residing here, to swear fidelity to you, that are their magistrates at home? Farewell,
Jan. 4, 1649.
To the most Serene and Potent Prince, Philip the Fourth,
King of Spain: the Parliament of the Commonwealth of ENGLAND, Greeting.
We send to your majesty Anthony Ascham, a person of integrity, learned, and descended of an ancient family, to treat of matters very advantageous, as we hope, as well to the Spanish, as to the English nation. Wherefore in friendly manner we desire, that you would be pleased to grant, and order him a safe and honourable passage to your royal city, and the same in his return from thence, readily prepared to repay the kindness when occasion offers. Or if your majesty be otherwise inclined, that it may be signified to him with the soonest, what your pleasure is in this particular, and that he may be at liberty to depart without molestation.
Feb. 4, 1649.
To the most Serene and Potent Prince, PAILIP the Fourth,
King of Spain: the Parliament of the Commonweallh of ENGLAND, Greeting.
What is the condition of our affairs, and by what heinous injuries provoked and broken, at length we began to think of recovering our liberty by force of arms; what constituted form of government we now make use of, can neither be concealed from your majesty, nor any other person, who has but cast an impartial eye upon our writings published on these occasions. Neither ought we to think it a difficult thing, among fit and proper judges of things, to render our fidelity, our equity, and patience, manifest to all men, and justly meriting their approbation; as also to defend our authority, honour, and grandeur, against the infamous tongues of exiles and fugitives. Now then, as to what is more the concern of foreign nations, after having subdued and vanquished the enemies of our country, through the miraculous assistance of heaven, we openly and cordially profess ourselves readily prepared to have peace and friendship, more desirable than all enlargement of empire, with our neighbour nations. For these reasons we have sent into Spain, to your majesty, Anthony Ascham, of approved dexterity and probity, to treat with your majesty concerning friendship, and the accustomed commerce between both nations; or else, if it be your pleasure, to open a way for the ratifying of new articles and alliances. Our request therefore is, that you will grant him free liberty of access to your majesty, and give such order, that care may be taken of his safety and honour, while he resides a public minister with your majesty ; to the end he may freely propose what he has in charge from us, for the benefit, as we hope, of both nations; and certify to us with the soonest, what are your majesty's sentiments concerning these matters.
Westminster, Feb. 4, 1649.