“Depart, I say”!
Politicians always try to curtail ‘freedom of expression’. They are aware that such freedom gives voice to a cynical electorate who believe their only motivations are self-interest and self-aggrandisement, in pursuit of their tax funded sinecures.
This cynicism being reflected in the many internet posts relating to the speech made by Oliver Cromwell when, in 1653, he dissolved The Long (Rump) Parliament. The following account – published in 1893 and much edited and abridged by me – is taken from Cromwell and The Parliament found in Historical Tales by Charles Morris.
Leaving the troop of soldiers outside, Cromwell enters the parliament quietly. This sitting rump of a parliament retains little of a parliament’s honesty and integrity, and much of its pride and incompetency.
After Pride’s Purge there are now only some fifty-three members in this rump and they are debating the Reform Bill, the intention of which is to make them rulers of the nation without the consent of the people.
The moral dilemma for Cromwell is, whether it is to a self-elected parliament or the army to which England owes her freedom.
Cromwell sits silently in the parliament for some time, listening, his only words to his neighbour Oliver St. John, are: “I am come to do what grieves me to the heart”.
Sir Harry Vane presses the House to waive its usual forms and pass the bill at once.
“The time has come,” says Cromwell to Thomas Harrison.
“Think well, it is a dangerous work,” answers Harrison.
The man of fate subsides into silence again. Then the question is put “that this bill do now pass.”
Taking off his hat, Cromwell rises and speaks. He begins with a commendation for the public good done by a parliament. He then charges the present members with acts of injustice, delays of justice, self-interest, and similar faults. His tone becomes very hot and indignant, until finally he tells them:
“Your hour is come; the Lord hath done with you”
One of the members cries, “It is a strange language, this, unusual this within the walls of Parliament. And from a trusted servant, too; and one whom we have so highly honoured; and one—”
Cromwell interjects as if he is commanding his army to charge;: “Come, come! We have had enough of this. I will put an end to your prating.
He continues speaking hotly and rapidly, the words rolling from him in a fury. “It is not fit that you should sit here any longer! You should give place to better men! You are no Parliament!”.
Cromwell then gives Harrison the order: “Call them in”!
The troop of some thirty musketeers marches into the chamber. Grim fellows, dogs of war; it is force arrayed against law—or what calls itself law—wrong against wrong, for neither army nor Parliament truly represents the people.
“I say you are no Parliament!” roars Cromwell, hot with anger.
His eye falls on a bottle-loving member.“Some of you are drunkards. Some of you are lewd livers; living in open contempt of God’s commandments”
His hot gaze flashes on Henry Marten and Sir Peter Wentworth. “Following your own greedy appetites and the devil’s commandments; corrupt, unjust persons, scandalous to the profession of the gospel: how can you be a Parliament for God’s people? Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God—go!”
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