[William Walwyn], A Pearle in a Dounghill (23 June 1646).

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Bibliographical Information

ID Number

T.68 [1646.06.23] [William Walwyn], A Pearle in a Dounghill (23 June 1646).

Full title

[William Walwyn], A Pearle in a Dounghill. Or Lieu. John Lilburne in New-gate: Committed illegally by the House of Lords, first for refusing (according to his Liberty) to answer Interrogatories, but protesting against them as not being competent Judges, and appealing to the House of Commons. Next committed close prisoner for his just refusing to kneel at the House of Lords Barre.

Estimated date of publication

23 June 1646.

Thomason Tracts Catalog information

TT1, p. 447; Thomason E.342 [5]

Editor’s Introduction

(Placeholder: Text will be added later.)

Text of Pamphlet

ALTHOUGH most of States and States men be of late turned upside down like a wheele, yet this worthy valiant and publique spirited Gentleman (unto whom his Nation is as much bound to, at least as to any one, all things considered) is the very same man (both in principles and practise) whom the Bishops so long imprisoned in the Fleet by a most cruell and barbarous sentence, which they procured in the Star-chamber against him, and so was whipt, gag’d and pilloried, yea and in his close imprisonment almost famished and murthered.

And all because he would not submit to be examined against himselfe, betray his friends, accuse his brethren, nor sell the lawfull rights and just liberties of England, for a messe or morsell of base preferment, whose fidelity, constancy and integrity the Parliament justified, and condemned that sentence as illegall, bloody, and tyranicall, delivered him out of prison, adjudged him worthy of reparation, abolished Episcopacy, the Starchamber, High Commission, Councell-table and many such arbitrary proceedings.

All which being duely and seriously considered, may it not seeme very strange, that this so famous a man still holding forth the same tenets and practise now in time of Parliament and Reformation, should be now againe in Newgate as he was once before, by an Order from the House of Commons, both in lesse then a twelve moneth? Is it not because there is a Popish and Episcopall party under other pretences as busie working in the Kingdome now as ever? And as he was a speciall instrument of the Bishops overthrow, so those their agents are the prime causers and workers both of his ruine, and all that will take his part, if posibly they could once get that Decree scaled and un-altered, so that their should not be Separate or Sectary any more mentioned.

And though his malicious adversaries will not be warned of their Downfall, and are as mad against him, because he will not bow before them, as ever Hamon was against Mordecay; yea and more shamelesse and bloody, then ever his former adversaries in sending him to Newgate, the basest of prisons, and shewing plainly they thirst much more after his pretious life, then ever Kain did after Abels, his apparently proceeding of a present discontent, and theirs of a long forged malicious intent and therefore if God permit these wicked men thus to prevaile over the Godly, it is to crowne the sufferings of the one with glory, and to reward the persecutions of the other with misery.

But to take a view of his actions, wee find by such credible proofe, that his very adversaries shall not be able to contradict (yea and themselves did never the like) passing by both what he did, and suffered under the Episcopall tyranny, because large volumnes thereof are extant, and beginning, since his deliverance out of the Fleet prison at the beginning of the Parliament:

In the first place, hath he been ingratefull to his Deliverers, or perfidious to his Country? No his ingagements was with the first in this present warre; to defend his Country, and forseeking a comfortable and profitable way of living; his actions at Westminster-hall, Keintonfield, and Brainford, his cariage at Oxford in Iron Chaines, against strong temtations, and upon tryall for his life their will witness: his fidelity, magnanimity, and undaunted resolution to the Parliament and Commonwealth, and that in such measure that not many, if any of this age can shew the like testimony.

And for such as would recapitulate his actions and sufferings since, let them trace him in his service to the State, under the Earle of Manchester, and defending the publique freedomes since, and they will find that with the losse both of his blood, estate and many hazards of his life, he hath performed Noble services, as the taking of Tickle castle. Sir John Wortleys house and the like, in all which, malice it selfe cannot accuse him, either of Cowardice or Covetousnesse.

No nor yet of carelesnesse, not deeming it sufficient to be faithfull himselfe, but alwaies held a watchfull eye over the actions of others, and as bold in discovery of the Fraud, Treachery, Cowardice, Cruelties, plundering and Covetousnesse, of false hearted friends, as valiant in fight against the enemies:

And now if you will begin to think why a man so faithfull in all his waies should be so lyable to trouble as he hath been (for he hath been divers times in Pursevants hands and so committed by Committees) if you shall consider how this Pearle comes to be cast upon this Dounghill, you will find, the faithfulnesse of his heart towards God and all good People, and the freenesse of his tongue against all kinde of injustice or unworthinesse in whomsoever, is the only cause and no other.

And if you seriously weigh things, you will confesse it would grieve any good mans heart, that Treachery, Cowardice, Cruelty, plundering and Covetousnesse have bin too too slenderly punished, and faithfullnesse so many waies discouraged, and that it is a very sad thing in a time so zealously pretending to reformation:- That any quiet people should be punished and reproached, for worshiping and serving of God according ‘to their conscience, and (that trouble house) Conformity as much Cried up as in the Bishops times.

That the Presse should be stopt in time of Parliament, as barring all free intormations, and admitting only what appointed Lycencers shall allow; doth it not even breake the hearts of all knowing good People, to see the doors kept shut in Committees, and men examined against themselves, and for refusing to accuse themselves, sent to Prison; and that free Commoners, who by the Lawes of the Land, are not to be adjudged of life, limb, liberty or estate, but by Commoners: should at the pleasure of the Lords, be lyable to their summons, and attachment by Pursevants, to their Oath ex officio, to their examination in criminall causes, to selfe-accuseing, and to imprisonment during their pleasures, the chosen Commons of England, the SUPREAME POWER, standing by like a cypher, as unconcerned, meer lookers on; this is that which puts wise men past all patience, asking, for what it is that this Nation hath ingaged in such, in so deadly a war? For what it is so much precious blood hath been spilt, so many Families wasted, so much treasure consumed, so many Widowes and fatherlesse children made miserable? Is all this to take down the High Commission, Star-chamber, and Councell-Board: and to set up the Lords with the like power, to oppresse the Commons? It had been well say they, this had been declared, when our Money, Plate, Horse, and voluntary Contributions, were first desired. But then other things were mentioned, though now neglected.

We had (say they) as many Lords before the Parliament as since, and it was often boasted they should remove our grievances, as well as a Parliament, but it was done by addition, and increase of more, not by Substraction; God forbid a Parliament should doe so. But why then (say they) are we now subjected to the Lords? Is it not sufficient that they are Lords over their Tennants, but they must be Lords over the People; that every one must be at their summons, at their command, at their imprisonment, yea to Newgate; why not whipping, gagging, hanging? Oh, they are but green in their power, and do not know what the People will beare, nor what the Peoples friend (that should be) the HOUSE OF COMMONS will suffer; hereafter may be time enough, they are yet the Peoples most gracious Lords, intending to the most knowing, faithfull and religious, no worse then Newgate for the present.

And why presume ye thus Oh ye Lords? Set forth your merit before the People, and say, for this good it is, that we will raign over yee. Remember your selves, or shall wee remember yee? Which of ye before this Parliament, minded anything so much as your pleasures? Playes, Masques, Feastings, Huntings, Gainings, Dauncings, with the appurtenances. If you owed any man money, or abused any man, what law was to be had against you? What Patients and Projects did you suppresse, or so much as move against; (nay had not a hand in?) What fearfull enemies you were to Shipmoney, and to the proceedings of the High Commission, Star-chamber, and Councell board, indeed your goodnes was inexpressible, and undiscernable, before this Parliament.

But though you cannot excuse all, you will say, you that are the good Lords were then over topt with the evill, will you then be tryed by what good you have done since this Parliament, and since the expulsion of the Popish Lords and Bishops, where will you begin? What thinke you of the stay at Worcester, till the Enemy was provided at Shrewsbury, a shrewd beginning for poor England? Or what thinke you of the Earle of Bedfords busines at Sherburn Castle, or of the enemies escape at Brainford, or at Oxford or at Dennington, and to close all with that memorable but shamefull defeat in the West; It must needs be remembred how the warre thrived, whil’st any Lord was imployed: and how powerfull the enemy is grown, since the New Modell, wherein there is not one Lord.

It was wont to be said when a thing was spoil’d, that the Bishops Foot had been in it, and if the LORDS MEND NOT, it will be said so of them, and justly too.

For what other have they been, but a meer Clog to the HOUSE OF COMMONS in all their proceedings? How many necessary things have they obstructed? How many evill things promoted? What devices have they had of prudentials and expedients, to delay and pervert what is good: and subtill policies to introduce things evill.

It is easie to discerne who are their Creatures in the House of Commons, and how they were made theirs, constantly manifesting themselves, by their evill and pernitious partakings against the Freedome of the People, by whose united endeavours, Monopolies in Trades of Merchandize, Oppressions in Committees, Corruptions in Courts of Justice, grosse abuses in our Lawes and Lawyers are maintained, and the Reformation intended in all things, performed by halves, nay, quite perverted, and a meer shadow given for a substance, to the astonishment of all knowing free born Englishmen, and to their perpetuall vexation and danger; Because to know, or find fault, or discover these things, to preserve just freedome, and to withstand their Exorbitances: is the most hatefull thing to these Lords, of any thing in the world, Newgate (in their esteem) is too good for all such.

And this is the only crime for which this worthy man is made the subject of their malice, a man that hath discovered more of the liberties of England, then any one man alive; a man that hath resisted all kinds of Oppressions, with the perpetuall hazard of his life, liberty and estate.

And must no place but Newgate be his habitation? Is this the reparation for his damages, and recompence for his faithfull service? Must he be here reserved a sacrifice to appease the displeasure of the late reconciled enemies of the Common-wealth.

Thou do’st well O England, to give up this thy firstborn LILBURNE, the SON of thy STRENGTH, and high RESOLUTION, for FREEDOME; If thou intendest to become a Bond slave again, to either King, Lords, or any others: for he will never submit either body of mind to any kind of slavery.

But certainly those Worthyes in the House of Commons, that consider what the People have done and suffered for their libertyes will never suffer so foule a deed, it cannot be but they intend the uttermost of just freedome to the People, and love those best, that most know and affect true liberty, and are greatest opposers of exorbitant power in whomsoever; and consequently cannot but instantly deliver this just man, and in him all Englishmen, from the like oppression: and henceforth reduce the Lords to a condition suteable to the freedome of the People, and consistent with the freedome of Parliaments.

The People are become a Knowing and Judicious People, Affliction hath made them wise, now Opression maketh wise men mad, ther’s no deluding wise men, it is all one to them, who oppresseth them, oppression they cannot but hate, and if Parliaments do in deed and in truth really deliver them, they will love Parliaments, as performing the trust reposed in them, and the end for which Parliaments were ordained, otherwise they will abominate them, because, for a people to be made slaves, by, or in time of Parliament, is like as for a man to be betrayed or murthered by his own father; which God of his mercy preserve both People and Parliaments from, and that for ever.