John Lilburne, Jonahs Cry out of the Whales belly (26 July, 1647).

Note: This is part of the Leveller Collection of Tracts and Pamphlets.

Editor’s Introduction

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Bibliographical Information

ID Number

T.104 [1647.07.26] John Lilburne, Jonahs Cry out of the Whales belly (26 July, 1647).

Full title

John Lilburne, Jonahs Cry out of the Whales belly: Or, Certaine Epistles writ by Lieu. Coll. Iohn Lilburne, unto Lieu. Generall Cromwell, and Mr. John Goodwin: Complaining of the tyranny of the Houses of Lords and Commons at Westminster; and the unworthy dealing of divers (of those with him that are called) his Friends.

Jonah. 2.2, 3, 4. I cryed, by reason of mine affliction, unto the Lord, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cryed I, and thou heardest my voice.
For thou hadst cast me into the deepe, in the midst of the seas, and the floods compassed mee about: all thy billowes and thy waves passed over me.
Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight, yet I will looke againe towards thy holy Temple.

Jer. 20 10, 11, 12. For I heard the defaming of many, feare on every side. Report, say they, and we will report it: all my familiars watched for my halting, saying, peradventure he will be intised, and we shall prevaile against him, and we shall take our revenge on him.
But the Lord is with mee, as a mighty terrible one: therefore my persecuters shal stumble, and they shal not prevaile, they shal be greatly ashamed, for they shal not prosper, their everlasting confusion shal never be forgotten.
But, O Lord of hosts, that triest the righteous, and seest the raines and the heart, let me see thy vengeance on them: for unto thee I have opened my cause.

Micah. 7.5. Trust yee not in a friend, put yee not confidence in a guide.

Esay 63.9. In all their afflictions he was afflicted, and the Angell of his presence saved them, in his love, and in his pitie he redeemed them.

This tract contains the following parts:

  1. To Lieu. Generall Cromwell at his house in Drury Lane (27 March, 1647)
  2. To his much honoured and much respected friend, Mr. John Goodwin, at his House in Swan-Alley, in Colemanstreet (13 Feb., 1646)
  3. A second letter to Leiu. Generall Cromwel (10 April, 1647)
  4. For the Honorable Lieutenant Generall Cromwell, this present at St. Albans (22 June, 1647)
  5. For Lieutenant Generall Cromwell this with speed, present at Wickham (1 July, 1647)
  6. Letter to Lieutenant Generall Cromwell into the West, Decemb. 9. 1645.
  7. Postscript
  8. Letter written to Coll. Henry Martin, 2 Member of the House of Commons, by Leiu. Col. Iohn Lilburn Iuly. 20. 1647.


Estimated date of publication

26 July, 1647.

Thomason Tracts Catalog information

TT1, p. 538; Thomason E. 400. (5.)



Text of Pamphlet

TO THE MAN WHOM GOD HATH honoured, and will further honour, if he continue honouring him, Lieu. Generall Cromwell at his house in Drury Lane, neare the red-Lion this present.

Much honored Sir,

IT is the saying of the wise man, That he that rewardeth evill for good, evill shall never depart from his house, the justnesse of which divine sentence ingraven in nature, hath even ingaged morall Heathens to a gratefull acknowledgement of favours received, and hath been a sufficient obligation conscientiously to ty them, to acts of retribution to those for whom they have received them; and therefore (not only below a Christian, but a very morall Heathen, and Pagan should I judge my selfe if I should bee forgetfull of your seasonable favours, much more if I should returne contrary effects unto you, which with all thankfullnesse I must acknowledge, seeke compassion [Editor: illegible word], mee in my hands and chaines even when I was at deaths doore, and was principally instrumentall in delivering me from the very gates of death, in Anno 1640. and setting me free from the long and heavy Tyranny of the Bishop: and Starchamber, even at that time when I was almost spent, which to me is so large an Obligation that I thinke while I live it will be engraven upon my heart as with the point of a diamond many particular respects since then, I must ingemiously confesse I have cause to take notice of [Editor: illegible word] you; and one large one of late since I came into present captivity, which was for that large token you sent me, for which now in writing I returne you many thanks.

Sir I dare not now by way of boasting take upon me to enumerate my hazardous actions, which hath flowed from the truth of my affections to you in doing you reall and faithfull service, in maintaining the honour of your person, and your just interest, which was all the retrabution that I in my poore condition, could answer all your kindenesses with, and truly if I be not mistaken I thinke I have been faithfull, cordiall, harty, sincere and hazardious, in dischaging my ingaged affection and duty to you, and the more high hath my thoughts been towards you, for that I have apprehended in you, in your service abroad, an affectionate, cordiall, and free hearted spirit to the poore people of God: unto whom in times by past you have been as a Sanctuary, and hiding place, and God hath honoured you sufficiently for it, not only in giving you extraordinary large roome in the affections of thousands, and ten thousands of his chosen ones, but in hanging upon your back the glory of all their archeivements, by meanes of which you have been made mighty and great, formidable and dreadfull in the eyes of the great ones of the world, and truly my selfe and all others of my mind that I could speak with, have looked upon you as the most absolute single hearted great man in England, untainted or unbiased with ends of your owne. But deare Sir, give him leave that presumeth to say and that without flatery, he honoureth you as he doth his owne life and being, that looking as a dilligent spectator upon your actions and carriages, for this many moneths together, It hath struck him into an amase and filled his spirit as full of boylings and turmoylings as ever Jeremiahs was, when he said thy word is within me like a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with forbearing, and I could not stay Jer. 10. 9. and truly Sir I was in paines and traveil how to behave my selfe towards you, and faine I would have writ my minde freely and plainly unto you, but truly unto my owne shame I must really acknowledge, I have been like Jonah who fled from the presence of God and the errand he had to imploy him upon. Jonah, 1. 3. &c. and I have withstood those many pricking motions, which I beleeve flowed from his spirit, and have either too much preferred my own ends, or my base carnall reasons, before the Dictates of God, but now am not able for all the world to forbeare any longer, being lately forced, nolens volens, without rest or sleep, most seriously to meditate upon these following sayings of God, Exodus 23. 6. 7. 8. Thou shalt not wrest the judgement of the poore in his cause. Keep thee farre from a false matter, and the innocent and the righteous stay thou not: For I will not justifie the wicked. Thou shalt take no gift: for the gift blindeth the wise, and perverteth the words of the righteous. O deere Cromwell, the Lord open thy eyes, and make thy heart sensible of those snares that are laid for thee in that vote of the House of Commons of two thousand five hundred pounds per annum.

And Deut. 16. 17. God saith expresly, Thou shalt not wrest judgement, then shalt not respect persons, neither take a gift: For a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous. And truly being very fearfull and jealous in my own soule, that some of my true friends, with whom I have talked of your selfe very freely of late, should shortly hit me in the teeth by reason of my silence to you, and too justly upbrayd me with that saying of Ecclesiasticus. chap. 20 vers. 29. Presents and gifts blind the eyes of the wise, and stop his mouth that he cannot reprove. And therefore, Sir, give me leave to say unto you in the words of Ioh. chap. 32. 21, 22. Let me not, pray you, accept any mans person, neither let me give flattering titles unto man, for I know not to give flatering titles: in so doing my maker would soon take me away. Now deer Sir, knowing that you cannot but know, that it is a saying of the Spirit of God, That faithfull are the wounds of a Feiend, but deceiptful are the kisses of an Enemy. I come now downright to unbowell my mind unto you and truly to tell you, that in my thoughts I look upon the redeemed ones of Iesus Christ in England, in as low and sad a condition, almost as the Jews were in the third of Esther, when Haman upon this false suggestion to K Hashverosh [That there is a certain people scattered abroad, and dispersed amongst the people in all the provinces of the Kingdome, and their lawes are divers from all people, neither keep they the Kings lawes, therefore it is not for the Kings profit to suffer them] had obtained a Decree to destroy them all; and therefore as poore Mordicai in the bitternesse of his spirit in the fourth chapter, sayd unto Queen Esther, so say I to thee, thou great man Cromwell, Think not with thyself, that thou shalt escape in the Parliament House, more then all the rest of the Lambs poore despised redeemed ones, and therefore, O Cromwell, if thou altogether holdest thy peace, (or stoppest or underminest as thou dost, our and the Armies petitions,) at this time then shall enlargement and deliverance arise to us poore afflicted ones, (that have hither doted too much upon thee, O Cromwell) from another place then from you silken independents, the broken reeds of Egypt in the House and Army) but thou and thy Fathers House shall be destroyed: but who knoweth whether thou art come out of thy sicknesse, and to such a height in the kingdome, for such a time as this.

And therefore if thou will pluck up thy resolutions, like a man that will persevere to be a man for God, and goe on bravely in the feare and name of God, and say with Esther, If I perish I perish; but if thou would not, know that here before God I arraigne thee at his dreadfull Barre, and there accuse thee of delusions and faire words, deceitfully, for carrying us, our wives and children into the Hamon-like tyrannicall clutches of Holles and Stapleton (both now impeached): and the rest of that bloody and devouring faction, that hath designed us to utter ruine and destruction, and this land and kingdome to vassalage and slavery against whom we are sufficiently able to persevere our selves, if it were nor for thee, O Cromwell, that art led by the nose by two unworthy covetous earth-wormes, Vaine and St. John (I mean young Sir Henry Vaine, and Sollicitor St. Iohn) whose basenesse I suffiiciently anatomized unto thee in thy bed above a yeare agoe in Colonel Montagues house in the Pears, as thou canst not but very well remember, and which I am resolved to the purpose shortly to print.* O Cromwell, I am informed this day by an Officer out of the Army, and by another knowing man yesterday, that came a purpose to me out of the Army. That you and your Agents are likely to dash in pieces the hopes of our outward preservation, Their petition to the House, and will not suffer them to petition till they have laid down their Armes, because forsooth you have engaged to the House they shall lay down their Armes whensoever they shall command them, although I say no credit can be given to the Houses Oathes and engagements, to make good what they have promised. And if this be true, as I am too much afraid it is; then I say, Accursed be the day that ever you had that influence among them; and accursed be the day that ever the House or Commons bribed you with a vote of 2500. l. per annum, to betray and destroy us. Sir, I am jealous over you with the hight of godly jealousie, that you like Ephesus have forsaken your first love and zeale*, for which I am most heartily sorry, and should be very glad I were mistaken, and upon manifestation of which from you, I should very gladly cry you peccavi for my present heat: But Sir, if these Army newes be true, I must bid you for ever Farewell, and must hereby declare my selfe an avowed enemy to your selfe-pecuniary interest, and all your copartners, and shall with more zeale bend all my abilities against you all, and unmask you to my friends, then my adversaries the tyrannicall and arbitrary Lords, doe the worst you can to my throat, which you used jestingly to say, you would cut so soon as ever I fell out with you.

Sir, I have but a life to lose, and know that to die to me is gaine, being now crucifiedto the world and it to me, and being now sufficiently able to trust God with my Wife and Children; but by the strength of God I am resolved Sampson like, to sell my life at as deare a rate as I can, to my Philistine Adversaries, that shall either by force without law, endevour to destroy me, or by treachery to undoe me. And if the Army doe disband before they petition, I, and all such as I am, must truly lay the whole blame upon you, and truly declare the House of Commons bribe Cromwel to betray the liberties of England into their tyrannicall fingers. Sir, is it not the Generals Commission to preserve the lawes and liberties of England. And how can he & those with him, without being esteemed by all men (that are not bribed, or preferre their own base interest before the common safety) the basest of men, to lay down their Armes upon any conditions in the world, before they see the lawes and universall well known liberties of England firmly setled; especially seeing, as I will undertake publickly, and I hope shortly to prove, the Parliament tyrannizeth ten times more over us then ever the King did*: and I will maintain it, that by the law of this Kingdome, it is ten times easier to prove it lawfull for us to take up Armes against them in the wayes they now go, then it was for them to take up Arms when they did, against the King. And I professe I would doe it, if I were rationably able to doe it to morrow. For, if, as they have often said, That tyranny be resistable, then it is resistable in a Parliament as well as a King. Sir, I am not mad, nor out of my wits, but full of apprehensions of slavish consequences, reason and zeale, and should bee glad it could speedily and iustly be cooled by you, before it flame too high, which you will further understand I have grounded cause to make it, if you seriously read and ponder this inclosed Letter sent to Mr. Iohn Goodwin, which with this, I have sent by the gravest, wisest, and fittest messenger I could think of, and though a Feminine, yet of a gailant and true masculine Spirit.

And so I commit you to the wisest disposing of our wise God, and shall rest till I heare from you.

Yours in much iealousie of you,

Iohn Lilburne.

To his much honoured and much respected friend, Mr. John Goodwin, at his House in Swan-Alley, in Colemanstreer, these.

Honoured and worthy Sir,

I Am necessitated to write a few lines unto you, about a businesse that doth very much concerne mee, but in the first place, I desire to make my engaged acknowledgement unto you, and your congregation for your large kindesses manifested unto me in this my present imprisonment in supplying my necessities in which particular I must ingeniously confesse I am more obliged to you singly, then to all the Congregations in and about London, and yet notwithstanding, have in some other things just cause to think my selfe more injured by some of your congregation then by all the avowed and professed adversaries I have in England; for against them I have a defence, but against a secret adversary (being a pretended friend) I have none, but am thereby subject to an unapprehended destruction. That which I have to lay to the charge of some of your members, is, That they have improved all their power, interest, and ability, to hinder all effectuall meanes (whatsoever) that tended to procure my deliverance from a tyrannicall captivity, and not only mine, but all the rest of my afflicted fellow-Commoners that are in the same affliction with me, (as Mr Richard Overton, his wife and brother, Mr. Ioh: Musgrave, Mr. Larners servant, &c.) for besides what they have done in London to crush all Petitions that tended to my just deliverance, they have improved their interest to destroy the Petition of Buckingham shire, and Hartford Shire, which was principally intended for the good of the prerogative Prisoners, my selfe, Mr. Overton, &c. for upon Monday last Lieut. Collonell Sadler came to the Rendezvous at Saint Albones and therein the name of diverse knowing men of Mr. John Goodwines Congregation, improved all his interest utterly to destroy the Petitioner, so that what he did then, and Mr. Felke an Independant Minister, who lives at or about Hartford, who being lately at London, brought downe such discouraging newes, that some of eminent quality of the Petitioners told me in these words, That if it had not been for the base, unworthy, undermining dealing of some of Mr. John Goodwins Congregation, they had had a thousand subscriptions for an hundred they have now, and a thousand to have come in person with the Petitioner for every hundred they had.

Sir, I cannot but stand amazed to thinke with my selfe, what should be the ground and reason of these mens preposterous actings, point blanke destructive to the welfare of every honest man in the Kingdom, and particularly the destruction of* me and my poor distressed Family and truly in my own thoughts, I think I could easily fix upon those worldly wise prudentiall men in the Parliament,* that set them at work on purpose to keep: the people from seeking for their owne liberties and freedomes, that so they may not be disturbed in the enjoyment of their great and rich places, which I am afraid they prise above the welfare of all the godly men in England, and the Lawes, liberties and freedomes thereof for all their great and gilded professions, and truly as much cause have I administred to me, particularly and publiquely to fall foule upon them, and their proud, imperious, unjust; and selfe interests, as they under-hand have fallen upon me, my liberty and welfare, but by reason of those many engagements, by which I stand obliged to your selfe, for your so stout & deep engagement for the publick welfare of all those that thirst after either morrall, or religious righteousnesse: I could do no lesse but write these lines unto you, before I put my necessitated resolution unto reall action, and earnestly to entreat you to spare so much time from your weighty emploiments, as to do mee the favour to let me speake a few words with you, and if you please to bring Mr. Price along with you.

So with my truest respect presented to you, I commit you to the protection of the most High, and rest,

Your true and reall friend to serve you,

Jo. lilbvrne

A second letter to Leiu. Generall Cromwel, to presse home the former.

Honored Sir;

I writ a large letter to you of late, and by the bearer of it I received a verball answer from you, & by an other freind of Bristow at a distance I understood a little from you, but neither of them satisfactory to me, nor any thing else that I have lately heard from you, or any of your over wise friends, that are not able to trust God with three halfe penne, so that my spirit is as high as it was when I last writ to von, and altogether unsatisfied. But in regard my soul earnes towards you I cannot but once again by this true friend write two lines unto you, to tell you that I canot sit still though I dy for it and see you that are reputed honest conscientious men be the betrayers and destroyers of your poore native Countrey, and the lawes and liberties thereof.*

I can now say no more at present, but that I was yours, and still am Englands Cordiall Freind,

John Lilburne.

For the Honorable Lieutenant Generall Cromwell, this present at St. Albons.

Honoured Sir,

NOthing indears my heart so much to any man, or men in the world, as honestie, integritie, and justice: the contrarie of which makes me abhor those in whom I find it, although never so great and potent Sir, I shall without much complement, return you many and hearty thankes for your active paines, and upon those representations I have of your present courage, I doe assure you I would willingly be a Pioneer with you, and hazard, if I had them, a million of lives for you: But never was I so afraid of all mine enemies, as of divers of those great ones I have looked upon as your chieife Councellors. Sir, your delay hath given extraordinarie heart to your adversaries (who under hand make large preparations against you) and unexpressible sadding of spirit to all your cordiall friends, insomuch that I for my part, have even despaired of any good from you: the which hath not in the least quenched my resolutions, but more fully fixed me with magninimity flowing from the God of valour and courage, to die upon my own and my old principles: I am very confident that if you delay a few dayes longer, you unavoidably involve this kingdome in a large effusion of blood. What I have to begge and intreat of you as for my life, is First, immediatly to march with a Declaration of peace and love to the body of the Citie; the doing of which will enable your friends here, I confidently hope, to doe your worke for you in sequestiring the [Editor: illegible word] Members. As for justice at present you nor any one else cannot expect it. For the iudges at Westminster House by Law are no Iudges See the 17 H. 8. 26. and and Ordinance of Parliament by law can take away no mans life, I am sure of it. See the 2 part instit. fol. 41. 40. & part. fol. 22. & 4. part. fol. 23. 25. 45. 10. [Editor: illegible word] [Editor: illegible word] [Editor: illegible word] Declaration. But if you should say, it is but iust that an Ordinance should take away the lives of those that have made them take away the lives of others, yet I say the most of the members are so guilty, that they will never condemne thee.

The second thing I begge of you, is, That with all candor you endevour to understand the King, and let him understand you, and deale with him as becomes honest men that play above boord and doe their actions as in the sight of God, for the good of all. I have in this particular fully by word of mouth, communicated my mind to Tim Trevers, to be communicated to you: And this if I were with you, upon my life I durst dispare against you all, this as thngs stand, both in point of policy, honesty, and conscience, you must apply to the King, without which the peace of the Kingdome can never be setled: and he Parliament having so tyrannized, that they are grown as hatefull to Iust men, as the Divell: And doe confidently beleeve hee will grant any thing that is rationall that you or the Kingdome can desire at his hands, for their future good, security and preservation.

Now one thing I shall propound to your consideration, That you be not decrived by your Scout-master generall, Wetson who I am apt confidently to beleeve, will never honestly and uprightly adventure the taking of his finger either for God, his Countrey, or the Army, further then he may be thereby of the stronger side and be a gainer. As for Dr. Stanes, whatever you think of him, I averre he is a iuggling knave the which I told you above two yeares agoe at Ilchester, and I will justifie it, and am confident, will deceive you in the day of triall. And as for Nath Rich, you your selfe know him to be a iuggling paltry base fellow: Remember what you told him to his face in his own Chamber in Fleetstreet before me and my wife, and two more, at the time Manchesters treason was upon examination. And besides, his own Captain Lieutenant in my chamber, some weekes since, shewed me such letters of his to him under his own hand, that gives mee cause to iudge him fully to be a iuggling, dissembling, treacherous, Hen-hearted base fellow, which I desire you and all the honest men in the Army to beware of, as of a plague and pest. And if hee shall finde himselfe aggrieved at it, I say, tell him I will to his teeth, with my sword in my hand in any ground in England, iustifie what I say*, Sir, in the way of iustice, and single-hearted righteousnesse, in the midst of all miseries, I am

Yours untill death,

Iohn Lilburne.

The Bearer by word of mouth hath from me more to say to you.

For Lieutenant Generall Cromwell this with speed, present at Wickham.

Honored Sir.

MY thoughts about the procedings of some of your great ones in the Armie, have been exceedingly perplexed, which hath set my braines upon an unwearied study, which in an Epistle would be too large to expresse unto you, onely I cannot (for former engagements sake, and the common good) but reaquaint you with the opinion of them before I print them.

You cannot but know that you severall times, in a forcible manner kept mee in Manchesters Army, when I would (for that basenesse and treachery acted there) have deserted it, and have betaken my selfe to travels; Remember our discourse at Banbury, &c.

And you know when he and you came to contest, I stood close to you, and to truth and Justice then on your side, without feare or double ends: Although both Watson, your Scout-master Generall, and Staines your Master-master Generall, with Coll. Nat. Rich, ypur daring, plaid the paltry Knaves, and jugled with you, of which in part you complained before me and my wife, to Rich his face, in your owne chamber at Dillinghams house, and called him before us, base Rascall, and cowardly and perfidious fellow, with much more I very well remember.

You cannot but know that all my present sorrowes are come upon me by Manchesters meanes and his creatures, for my zeale to truth and justice, against him and all his treacherous confederates, who had (as I conceive) eare now got the gallowes, if you had followed him with as much vigour and strength as you should, and I was made beleeve you would. But you plucke your head out of the* coller, and I was catched in the bryers, and have been exposed to a thousand deaths by my imprisonment, &c. must illegally, barbarously and tyrannically, and the House of Commons would do me no justice; though I turned (I think) as many stones to procure it, as any man whatsoever in England could But was betrayed and umworthily disserted, both by your selfe, Henry Martin, and all my friends there, whose actions to me are nothing else but declarations of your selfe seekings, without purely eyeing either Trust or Justice: for which God undoubtedly will lash and scurge you. And when I saw that they would not heare, regard, or receive, but burnt, or sleighted all those just Petitions; I set underhand on foot, for Justice and my liberty, I applyed my selfe vagarously unto the honest blades, the private Souldiers, I meane, of the Army, though I have nothing to speake of your gallant Generall (to me in a manner a stranger) but prayses.

And when by much industry with much opposition from your selfe and others of your fellow Grandees in the Army, I had been instrumentall with the expence of a great deale of money and withall the interest and industry I had in the world; acted both night and day to settle the Souldiers in a compleat and just posture, by their faithfull agitators chosen out by common consent from amongst themselves, as resolute for and just instruments to effect my Liberty, to give a checke to tyranny, and settle the peace and justice of the Kingdome, not looking for any good at all from your selfe, and the rest of your fellow great ones, that truly in my apprehension are transendently degenerated, & have bought and sold, (and intend visibly more fully to do it) the Lawes, Liberties and Justice of the Kingdom for your owne ends and greatness, which opinion is every day confirmed and strengthned in me, in that you have not only done it alreadie, but goe on still and intend more fully to do it, in that in a manner you have rob’d, by your unjust subtiltie and shifting trickes the honest and gallant agitators, of all their power and authority, and solely placed them in a thing called a Counsell of Warre, or rather a Cabinet Junto of seven or eight proud selfe ended fellowes, that so you may without controule make up your owne ends; for I know your practises of old, which I am credibly informed is lately renued; and the chiefest of them before mentioned, whom I &c. have experience sufficiently of, are as base as base can be; And will sell Christ, their Country, friends, relations, and a good conscience for a little money or worldly honour. And yet some of them must be the chiefe and only men to place and displace all Officers in the Armie.

And the aforesaid two general Officers were as I am confidently informed from a good hand moved for by your selfe at a Councell of Warre, to be the mannagers of the charge against the eleven Members, although yourselfe, I dare aver it, believes, That put them both together, they have not so much courage as to encounter with a Wesell or a Poalecat much lesse with such sons of Anak, as the eleven Members are, and I am sure both of them put together hath not so much honestie, as will fill a Tailors thimble, much lesse so much as will make them deny their lives, liberties and interests; which of necessitie they must have that resolutely and faithfully undertake that imployment, yet, as I am tould, they had been the men, if your wise son Ireton had not been apprehensive that the Councell of warre had lost all their braines at their departure.

Sir, in short, what I heare not once, twise, thrise, nor a dozen times from you hath so perplexed my spirit, and fil’d me with amazement, that thereby I must as a faithfull plaine dealer tel you, that I am necessitated wholly to withdraw my present good thoughts from you and others with you, and must and will print my conceptions to the view of the world, that so you may delude, and destroy honest simple hearted, plain dealing men no longer, cost it what it will, I valew it not, being necessitively compelled either to remove every stone that lyes in my way, that hinders me, from obtaining my just ends, Justice and my just liberty; or else to power out my bowels upon them with lifting them, and I sufficiently heare of the Jeeres, plottings and contrivings, of your favourites against me and all such as I am.

Therefore doe you and they looke to your selves as well as you can, for the uttermost of my strength and interest shall speedily be amongst you publiquely, unlesse you speedily and effectually, without complement take some speedy course, that I face to face may speake my mind to your selfe, of which I desire a positive and satisfactory answer within foure dayes at the farthest: I desire no favour from Lords or Commons &c. but if I have transgressed the Law: let me fully be punished by the Law,* but not destroyed in prison without and against Law, which if I can help it, I will not be without a witnesse; or if I have done no evill, which my adversaries declare I have not, in that as yet they have layd nothing to my charge: then I require immediatly to be delivered with just reperations, and this I know lies in your power to effect in three dayes if you please. And so desiring the God of Councell to direct you, I rest,

Your true friend in the
wayes of Justice and
Truth till death,

Iohn Lilburne.

I shall conclude with the Copie of a letter I sent Lieutenant Generall Cromwell into the West, Decemb. 9. 1645.

Deare and Honourable Sir:

THe endearednesse of my affections towards You, for those excellencies that I have seene in you, and for those reall respects that I have enjoyed from you (but especially in that God hath honoured you and counted you worthy to be a Patron to his people) ties me to have high and honourable thoughts of you, and by how much the more my esteeme is of you, by so much the more do I judge it my duty to speak my mind freely and planely to you (although in the eye of the world, yea by thousands of degrees below you) and I hope you will make no other constructions of my words, then that they are the cleare demonstrations of the cordiall affections of a reall, plaine and single hearted friend of yours, who you very well know was never skilfull in the wicked art of flattery, colloging, or disimulation.

From my Brother have I by two letters received an invitation (as comming from your selfe) to come down into the Army, but I beseech you give me leave to informe you that the foyles, affronts and undermining usages that I met with (not from you but others of more quality then honesty, when I was last in the Army, hath stucke in my stomack ever since, & could never yet be disgested by me, & though I do protect, I highly honour your selfe, and could willingly (if I know my owne heart) lay downe my life for you, your honour and reputation, as soone as for my father that begot me, or the dearest friend I have upon the face of the earth; Yet so deepe impression hath the dealings with my selfe, and others of my deare friends, that I have taken notice of both before that time, and since, (from one and the same parties) taken upon my spirit that I have many times, and still do in a manner scorne to take imployment under those persons, where the son or sons of Machiavel hath such sway, power, and authority, by advice, policies and counsels, as the party or parties that I know abused me hath in your Army, and give me leave without passion, to tell you, that I say you your self harbour in your brest a Snake or Snakes, although you will not know it, yea, and I say, there are those that have no small influence into you, that if the wheele of honour and profit shall turne round every day in the weeke, they are able to carry themselves so that they shall be no losers by it, yea, and are able (and have principals to do it) to give the tastiest words in the world to you, or any other honest man they deale with when they intend to cut your throat and supplant and undermine you, and this I am able to make good: Sir you may remember what you used to say, That it was the greatest honour and glory that my Lord of Manchester ever had in the world, that he was a Commander of so many of Gods people: and give mee leave to say the same to you, and also give mee leave to tell you, that, that which lost my Lords estimation amongst Gods people was the harkning to the evill advice of those that had as specious pretenses as those I meane above you, and I wish that your harkning to theirs may not eclips (though I hope it will never lose) that respect that flowes from Gods people towards you: Sir I run not at random but speake upon grounds from something lately come unto my knowledge and observation, and I have now discharged my duty and my conscience, take it as you please, and when you and I meet I shall clearly lay downe my grounds unto you, if you please to give me leave, which I shall take for a greater honour, then if I had been one in the new Model of Dukes & Barons, lately so made by vote; for my part I will not take upon me now to give you advice, but shal leave you to the wise Counseller of all his, who tels me honesty is the best policy, and uprightnes begets bouldnes, neither have I any thing now to desire of you for my selfe, or any of my friends, being resolved by the goodnesse of God patiently to be content with my portion, though it be but bread and water, with the enjoiment of the cordial affections of the simple and contemned people of God, and rather here hazard my selfe in seeking for justice and right which is my due, then to go abroad to venter my life againe in fighting I know not wherefore, as I have done hitherto, unlesse it be to set up tyranny, violence, injusice, and all manner and kind of basenesse, so craving pardon for my boldnesse (and it may be too plain lines) I commit you to the protection, of the most High, with as much sincerity and uprightnesse as I doe my owne soule.

And shall ever remaine,

Your faithfull, plain and truth-telling friend and servant,

John Lilburne.

The Postscript.

It may be divers may demand to know the reason wherefore I write, and caused to be printed, the fore-going Epistles; unto whom at present I returne this answer. That because the Army under Sir Thomas Fairfax, is not now an Army acting by a Commission, either from the King, or the two Houses: for although they were raised by an Ordinance of the Lords and Commons assembled at Westminster, for the defence of the King and Parliament, the true Protestant Religion (not the Scotch, Iewish, Antichristian inslaving Presbytery) and the Lawes and Liberties of the Kingdome (not the Arbitrary wills of the Houses) as appeares by the Ordinance of the 15. Feb. 1644. 2. part. book Declar. fol. 599 which positively commands Sir Thomas Fairfax from time to time, to submit to, and obey all such orders and directions as he shall receive from both Houses of Parliament, or from the Committee of both Kingdomes. Yet now he and his Army apprehending and beleaving that the wicked and swaying Faction in both Houses, would destroy them, and inslave the whole Kingdome, doe not onely dispute the two Houses orders and commands, but also positively disobey them, as unjust, tyrannicall, and unrighteous: And being now thereby dissolved into the originall law of Nature, hold their swords in their hands for their own preservation and safety, which both Nature, and the two Houses practices and* Declarations teaches them to doe, and justifies them in, and now act according to the principles of Saifety, flowing from Nature, Reason, and Justice, agreed on by common consent and mutuall agreement amongst themselves; in which every individuall private Souldier, whether, Horse or Foot, ought freely to have their vote, to chuse the transactors of their affaires, or else in the sight of God, and all rationall men, are discharged from obeying, stooping or submitting to what is done by them.

And that they doe now act upon the foresaid Principles, is cleare by their printed ingagement of the 5. of July 1647. called, A solemne engagement of the Army under the command of his Excellency Sir Thomas Fairfax, read, assented unto, and subscribed by all Officers and Souldiers of the severall Regiments as the generall Rendezvous neer Newmarket, In which agreement, or solemn engagement, they say, “That the Souldiers of this Army (finding themselves so stopt (as before they there declare) in their due & regular way of making known their just grievances, and desires to, and by their Officers) were inforced to an unusual (but in that case necessary) way of correspondencie and agreement amongst themselves, to chuse out of the severall Troops & Companies, severall men, and those out of their whole number, to chuse two or more for each Regiment, to act in the name and behalfe of the whole Souldery of the respective Regiments, Troops, and Companies.

And a little further they expresse themselves thus: “We the Officers and Souldiers of several Regiments hereafter named, are now met at a general Rendezvouz, have subscribed unto the said solemne engagement, and doe hereby declare, agree, and promise, to and with each other, and to and with the Parliament, and Kingdome, as followeth.

“First, that we shall cheerfully and readily disband, &c. having first such satisfaction and security in these things, as shall be agreed unto BY A COVNCELL TO CONSIST OF THOSE GENERALL OFFICERS OF THE ARMY (who have concurred with the Army in the premises) WITH TWO COMMISSION OFFICERS, AND THE SOVLDIERS TO BE CHOSEN FOR EACH REGIMENT, who have concurred, and shall concurre with us in the premises, and in this agreement. And by the Major part of such of them who shall meet in Councell for that purpose, when they shall bee thereunto called by the Generall. Secondly, that without such satisfaction and security as aforesaid, we shall not willingly disband nor divide, nor suffer our selves to be disbanded or divided.

So that by these words in their agreement, you see the foresaid position proved, that they act by mutuall consent, or agreement. Now to have this agreement, or solemne ingagement invaded or broken, either by the subtilty, fraud, or power of the Officers, and a power assumed by themselves, to act all their chiefe businesse contrary to this Agreement, is an action that merits a kicking (if not worse) out of the Army, to all those Officers (be they what they will be) that were chiefe actors and contrivers of it.

For the most Divellish, subtile, undermining and destroying way that can bee taken by the greatest haters of the Army, Stapleton, Holles, or the Assembly, to destroy and overthrow them, and to have their wills not onely of them, but also of all that wish them well, is by their pecuniary charmes, flateries, gifts, bribes, promises, or delusions, to put the officers by their agents upon the invading and infringing the essentiall and common rights of the Army before expressed, which within a little while will beget such pride, scorne and contempt in the Officers against the Souldiers (who to their eternall praises be it spoken, did the work to their hands, and acted at the beginning like prudent and resolved men, when all or most of the Officers sate still like so many Drones and Snekes) as will breed unquenchable heart-burnings in the Souldiers against them, which will speedily draw them into discontents and factions against them, which of necessity wil speedily break out into civil broyls amongst them, & so undoubtedly destroy them: for what occasions all the warres in the world, but invading of rights? And what occasioned all the late broyles betwixt the King and the two Houses, but the invasion of rights? And what hath occasioned the present difference betwixt the two Houses and the Army, but the two Houses invading their rights, and endeavouring to make them slaves, by arbitrary Lording over them, by proclaiming them traytors, for endeavouring to acquaint them with their grievances, and invasion of the common and agreed of rights before mentioned of the privat Souldiers of the Army by the Councell of Warre, &c. will evedently and apparantly occasion the same betwixt the Officers and Souldiers of the Army: And therefore accursed be he that is the causer or contriver of it. For if it be treason in a Kingdome (as Strafford and Canterbury found it to be) to endevour the subversion of the fundamentall Lawes and Rights of the Kingdome; can it bee lesse then treason in the Army for any of their Officers to endeavour the subversion of their essentiall, fundamentall Lawes, Rights, and agreements expressed in their foresaid solemne Engagements. And truly, being more then jealous, that it was the study, labour and practice of some Officers in the Army, to invade the foresaid rights of the privat Souldiers of the Army, which it continued in, will destroy them, and so by consequence the whole Kingdome and my selfe: For if they doe not deliver us from vassalage, wee are perfect slaves, and so made by the treachery of our Servants, our Trustees in Parliament. And therefore out of love and affection to my native countrey, and my owne Being, I could doe no lesse then by my writing, &c. endevour the prevention of it, and also give a hint of those that my often intelligence told me againe and again, were like to be the most pernitious instruments in it, which is before named. And seeing my writing was to no purpose, nor took not any such effect as I hoped it would, but rather procured me menaces and threats, which I value no more then the wind that blowes, fearing no man in the world, nor caring for the favour or friendship of any in the world whatsoever he be, no further then I find him just and honest, at least morally so: And therefore in mercy to my own Being, and the well being of my native countrey, I can doe no lesse then publish the fore-going Letters as an Alarum to all the privat Souldiers in the Army, and to all their honest Officers, that really, cordially, and heartily desire the settlement of all mens just interest in England, whose principles are not destructive to cohabitation and humane neighbourhood and society, that they may awake out of their sluggish dreames, before their and the Kingdomes enemies surprize them, beat up and destroy them in their quarters; which I am confident will speedily and unavoidably be their portion, unlesse they have extraordinary watchfull eyes over Nico. Machiavils chiefe sonnes amongst them, and preserve their fore-mentioned agreement intire, and doe what they intend to doe quickly and resolvedly, their delayes already having amongst thousands that honoured them, shaken their reputation: And if any guilded or varnished Scribe or Pharisee, as tythe monging Noe or Marshall who were principall instruments to bring the Scotch, and the Divels Fetters (the Covenant) into this Kingdome, almost to the ruine (I am sure to the perjury) thereof find themselves agreiv’d, I desire to let them know, that Fiat justitia ruat Celum is my Motto, and if I perish, it shall be in the following of justice for justice sake.

John Lilburne.

A Copy of a Letter written to Coll. Henry Martin, 2 Member of the House of Commons, by Leiu. Col. Iohn Lilburn Iuly. 20. 1647.


YOur Delitory and unjust delaying to make my Report to your House according to your duty, hath so hastned forward the ruin & destruction of me, my wife & tender infants, and riveted the House of Lords fast in their tyrannicall domination, That I cannot now style you either a friend to me, the Common-wealth, or to justice truth, or honesty, and of all men in the world I should least have dreamed to have found such unworthy and unjust dealing from you; But yet notwithstanding, by reason of a Paper come from the Army, a copy of which I have even now seen, (which desires of the House of Commons that I, &c. may immediately, and legally be tried, or if the great Affaires of the Kingdome will not suffer them to debate my businesse at present that then I may be bailed,) I therefore desire you to acquaint the House, that the Law of the Land is cleare and plaine, that the Lords in the case in controversie betwixture and them, have no Jurisdiction at all over me, or any Commoner of England whatsoever, and I have justly protested against them, and legally appealed* above a year ago to your House for justice against their insufferable usurpations and incrochments; (the enjoyment of which is principally hindred by your selfe) and therefore I require according to Law, justice equity, conscience and reason either to be justified or condemned by your House, which is done in an houre there being nothing wanting but your Report of it, and their Judgement upon it. And as for baile, I wil by the goodnesse of God be cut in a thousand pieces, before I will in this case stoop the breath of one heire, or do any act that in my owne understanding shall declare my owning of their Iurisdiction in the least over me, which my giving baile, or so much as my Parroule would do, which in my apprehension would be a granting that their most devillish tyrannicall illegall sentensing of mee, to pay 4000 l’, and to be seven yeares in prison, and forever to be disfranchised of the Liberties of an English man, were just and legall: And therefore if you will discharge your duty after above a years unjust delay in making my Report to your House, I shall yet thanke you but if you will not, the blood, and ruine of mee and mine, be upon the head of you and your posterity, and the righteous and just God of heaven and earth, either incline your heart to make my Report for me now at last (let the issue be what it will be, I care not, as I fully told you in my last large Epistle to you of the 31. of May 1647. now in print. pag. 4, 5, 6.) or else speedily avenge my cruell suffering (by your means) without mercy or compassion upon you and yours, Sir in short, if your House will (as they ought) give me my Liberty, without intanglements, I will take it, if not, I am resolved to sticke so close to my just cause, till I be forced to eat my own flesh for want of bread, which in the eye of humaine reason cannot be long before I be forced to doe it, but assure your selfe that if the putting forth all the resolution in a man that for this ten years, never feared death, tortures, nor torments; (no, not yet knew what belong’d to base feare,) will save me or do me good, I will by the strength of God leave no meanes whatsoever unattempted or unassaid, though it lose me all the earthy props and relations I have in the world; and I advise you, as a friend, to look well to yourself, & do not continue such insupportable burthens upon mee by your delay of justis, after suffering ship-wracke of my estate and fortunes, by the grand tyrannicall Tyrants of England, for above ten yeares together, as I am not able longer to beare without evident destruction to me & mine, & so at present I rest, & with I could subscribe my self:

Your Servant

John Lilburne.


 [* ] See the last page of the Outcries of the oppressed Commons, and the Resolved mans Resolution. p. 6. 7. 8. 9, 10.

 [* ] Which is very probable: for Peter to save himselfe forswore and denyed his Master, Matth. 26. 72. 73. yea, and for feare play also the hypocrite and dissembler, for which Paul reproved, and blamed him to his face, Galat. 2.

 [* ] See my printed Epistle to Colonel Martin, of the 31. of May, 1647. page 6, 7, 8, 36, 37, 38, & 48, 49, to 56. And see the first part of the justification of the Kings Government against the Parliament, page 3, 4, 5, to the end. And Mr. Richard Overtons Appeale, dated Iuly 1647.

 [* ] Who hath never beene out of the clutches of tyrants this ten years, who have severall times made me spend my selfe to my very [Editor: illegible word].

 [* ] The chief of which I conceived to be you & Sir Hen. Lilburn and Soliciter Sr. John, whose aims I conceived are to be Lord Treasures & Lord Keeper, or if they misse of the titles, yet to enjoy the power and profit thereof, or else to be as neare it as may be.

 [* ] For while you sit in the House in silence, and publish nothing to the publike view, of your dislike of the base things that are continually Acted in the House, you are in the sight of men approvers of them all, yes, and treacherous betrayers of your Friends and Country. Who think all is well, because that you are reputed honest men sit there, and they see nothing of your dislike of any thing done there, and therefore are subject to be [Editor: illegible word] kept with security till destruction be even at their dores, and ready [Editor: illegible word] upon them, whereas if ye plaid the faithfull watchmen to your native Country [Editor: illegible word] [Editor: illegible word] [Editor: illegible word] warne them betimes of the danger they are in, by the tyrannicall [Editor: illegible word] villans amongst you, they would easily be awakned and provide for their own safety, by the speedy destruction of those that would destroy them which is but just and reasonable. 1 part book Declarations page 150.

 [† ] For your adversaries in Parliament being so false and faithlesse, as by their constant actions they have declared themselves to bee, they will give you good words, & their faith and promises, to lull you asleep, that so underhand in the time of your Treaty, they may themselves to be able to cut your throats; which is the daily worke they secretly go about: And then have at you with a vengeance.

 [* ] And this I say to you, that it is but iust and fit that those that pretend to bee reformers, reforme first at home, lest they render them ridiculous to all that seriously look upon their actions.

 [* ] Accursed bee the vote of the House of Commons, which voted you 2500 l. per annum, which vote and nothing else hath kept Manchesters head upon his shoulders.

 [† ] Reade my late Epistle to him, page 1, 2, 3. 4, 5. 6, &c. now in Print. Dated 32. of May. 1647.

 [* ] And by the Law of this Kingdom (which by all your oathes you your selfe have sworn to maintaine) there ought to bee Gaole deliveries three times a yeare, and more oftner if need required, 4. Ed. 3. 2. see the oppressed mans expressions declared. pag. 3. & 4. part. Iustis. cap. 30. pag. 168. 169. And all this is for that end, that the prisoner may have according to the 29. chap. of Magna Charta, & the Kings Coronation oath) speedy Justice, & not be destroy’d by a long lingring imprisonment, which the Law abhorres, and therefore the late impeached members in their own case, lately in their petition to the House, tells them, That delayes of Iustice is equally forbidden with the deniall of Iustice, and yet I have above a whole yeare been imprisoned by the Lords, and can come to no triall, though I have with earnestnesse sought it, neither have I any accusation of crime layd unto my charge, or so much as any witnesse or informer to appeare against me, to the transcendent violation of all the lawes of the land, and contrary to all Rules of proceedings in the way of Justice, as the foresaid petitioners averre, who although they bee impeached of treason in the highest nature, and the particulars of their impeachment declared, and prosecuters with witnesses upon oath ready avowedly to make it good, yet are they suffered to walk at liberty by the Parliament, contrary to the declared and known law of the land, and the universall practice of the lawes of the Kingdome in all Ages; yea and their own in the case of the Earle of Strafford, Bishop of Canterbury, Judge Battiet with many others, who they required and caused immediatly to be secured and imprisoned upon a generall impeachment, without declaring any particulars in the least. O brave iudging Parliament, who have forget to be iust, and visibly mind and practice nothing but playing at Hocus Pocus, and the protecting of treason, cheating, knavery and roguery in each other, for which they deserve the most transcendent punishment that ever amongst men was inflicted vpon Villaines, Tyrants, and Traytors, to their trust.

 [* ] See the 1. part. bo. declar p. 44. 93, 94, 150, 202, 205, 307, 382, 277, 269, 279, 446, 496, 637, 690, 700, 797, 722, 723, 716, 728

 [* ] Which Appeale you may reade in the Free mans Freedome vindicated, pag. 9, 10, 11.