Nonfiction > Henry Craik, ed. > English Prose > Vol. II. Sixteenth Century to the Restoration
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Henry Craik, ed.  English Prose.  1916.
Vol. II. Sixteenth Century to the Restoration
 
A Conference with the King
By Bulstrode Whitelocke (1605–1675)
 
From Memorials

HOLLIS and I thought ourselves obliged in civility and courtship to return a visit to the Earl of Lindsey. But (all the commissioners having agreed that none of us should singly give any visit to any of the king’s officers or great lords, nor in company without acquainting our fellow-commissioners therewith) we thought fit to tell them our intentions (with their leave) to return a visit to the Earl of Lindsey, who had so courteously first sent to visit us, and all our fellow-commissioners approved thereof, and wished us to do as we intended.
  1
  The same evening about eight or nine of the clock, Hollis and I went to the court to the Earl of Lindsey’s lodgings, whom we found ill, and in his bed, and divers lords with him; among the rest the Lord Savile, then newly made Earl of Sussex.  2
  The Earl of Lindsey expressed much contentment, and that he took it extreme kindly that we would come to visit him, and treated us with extraordinary respect and courtesy; and no man with him was so forward to compliment us as was the Lord Savile.  3
  When we had been there about a quarter of an hour, the king and Prince Rupert, and divers great lords came into the chamber, where we were. Whether sent to, after we came, or by accident, we knew not. The king saluted us very civilly, and began to discourse with us, part whereof was to this effect.  4
  King.  I am sorry, gentlemen, that you could bring to me no better propositions for peace, nor more reasonable than these are.  5
  Hollis.  They are such, sir, as the parliament thought fit to agree upon, and I hope a good issue may be had out of them.  6
  Whitelocke.  We are but their servants to present them to your majesty, and very willing to be messengers of peace.  7
  King.  I know you could bring no other than what they would send. But I confess I do not a little wonder at some of them, and particularly at the qualifications.  8
  Hol.  Your majesty will be pleased to consider of them as a foundation for peace.  9
  King.  Surely you yourselves cannot think them to be reasonable or honourable for me to grant.  10
  Hol.  Truly, sir, I could have wished that some of them had been otherwise than they are, but your majesty knows that those things are all carried by the major vote.  11
  King.  I know they are, and am confident that you who are here and your friends (I must not say your party) in the House endeavoured to have had them otherwise, for I know you are, well-willers to peace.  12
  Whit.  I have had the honour to attend your majesty often heretofore upon this errand, and am sorry it was not to better effect.  13
  King.  I wish, Mr. Whitelocke, that others had been of your judgment, and of Mr. Hollis’s judgment, and then I believe we had had an happy end of our differences before now.  14
  Hol.  We are bound to your majesty for your gracious and true opinion of us, and wish we had been, or may be capable to do your majesty better service.  15
  King.  Your service, Mr. Hollis and the rest of those gentlemen, whose desire hath been for peace, hath been very acceptable to me, who do earnestly desire it my self, and in order to it, and out of the confidence I have of you two that are here with me, I ask your opinion and advice what answer will be best for me to give at this time to your propositions, which may probably further such a peace as all good men desire.  16
  Hol.  Your majesty will pardon us if we are not capable in our present condition to advise your majesty.  17
  Whit.  We now by accident have the honour to be in your majesty’s presence, but our present employment disables us from advising your majesty if we were otherwise worthy to do it in this particular.  18
  King.  For your abilities I am able to judge, and I now look not on you in your employments from the parliament, but as friends and my private subjects I require your advice.  19
  Hol.  Sir, to speak in a private capacity, your majesty sees that we have been very free, and touching your answer, I shall say further, that I think the best answer would be your own coming amongst us.  20
  Whit.  Truly, Sir, I do believe that your majesty’s personal presence at your parliament, would sooner put an end to our unhappy distractions than any treaty.  21
  King.  How can I come thither with safety?  22
  Hol.  I am confident there would be no danger to your person to come away directly to your parliament.  23
  King.  That may be a question, but I suppose your principals who sent you hither will expect a present answer to your message.  24
  Whit.  The best present, and most satisfactory answer, I humbly believe, would be your majesty’s presence with your parliament, and which I hope might be without any danger to you.  25
  Hol.  We should be far from advising anything which might be of the least danger to your Majesty’s person: and I believe your coming to your parliament would be none; but we most humbly submit that to your majesty’s own pleasure and great wisdom.  26
  King.  Let us pass by that, and let me desire you two, Mr. Hollis and Mr. Whitelocke to go into the next room, and a little to confer together, and to set down somewhat in writing, which you apprehend may be fit for me to return in answer to your message; and that in your judgments may facilitate and promote this good work of peace.  27
  Hol.  We shall obey your majesty’s command and withdraw.  28
  We went together into another room, where we were private, and upon discourse together we apprehended that it would be no breach of trust in us to observe the king’s desire herein; but that it might be a means to facilitate the work about which we came, the most desirable business of peace.  29
  Therefore by Mr. Hollis’s intreaty, and as we both agreed I wrote down what was our sense in this matter, and what might be fit for the substance of the king’s answer to our message; but I wrote it not in my usual hand, nor with any name to it, nor was any person present but we two when it was written, nor did the king admit of any others to hear the discourse which passed betwixt him and us.  30
  The paper which was thus written we left upon the table in the withdrawing room; and the king went in, and took it, and then with much favour and civility, bid us farewell, and went away himself, after which, and a few compliments passed between the Earl of Lindsey and us, we took leave of him and the rest of the company, and returned to our own lodgings.  31
 
 
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