The King's Answer to the Nineteen Propositions

(1642)

[The Nineteen Propositions was a document demanding that the King's councillors, Great Officers, and his children's tutors should be appointed or at least approved by Parliament; also that the command of the armed forces would be under Parliamentary control; and that there would be a reformation of the Church of England.  The Nineteen Propositions would have stripped the King of nearly all discretionary powers.  This excerpt is from the King's rejection of the Propositions, and  shows how Charles I justified his position to the greater public.]

...We call God to witnesse, that as for Our Subjects sake these rights are vested in Us, so for their sakes, as well as for  Our own, We are resolved not to quit them, nor to subvert (though in a Parliamentary way) the ancient, equall, happy, well-poised and never-enough commended Constitution of the Government of this Kingdom ...  There being three kindes of Government amongst men, Absolute Monarchy, Aristocracy and Democracy, and all these having their particular conveniences and inconveniencies.  The experience and wisdom of your Ancestors hath so moulded this out of a mixture of these, a s to give to this Kingdom (as far as humane Prudence can provide) the conveniencies of all three, without the inconveniencies of any one, as long as the Balance hangs even between the three Estates, and they run jointly on in their proper Chanell...   The ill of absolute Monarchy is Tyranny, the ill of Aristocracy is Faction and Division, the ills of Democracy are Tumults, Violence and Licentiousnesse.   The good of Monarchy is the uniting of a Nation under one Head to resist Invasion from abroad, and Insurrection at home:   The good of Aristocracy is the Conjunction of Counsell in the ablest Persons of a State for the publike benefit:  The good of Democracy is Liberty, and the Courage and Industry which Liberty begetts.

...

Since therefore the Power Legally placed in both Houses is more sufficient to prevent and restrain the power of Tyranny, and without the power which is now asked from Us We shall not be able to discharge that Trust which is the end of Monarchy, since this would be a totall Subversion of the Fundamentall Laws, and that excellent Constitution of this Kingdom, which hath made this Nation so many yeers both Famous and Happy to a great degree of Envie...  We shall have nothing left for Us, but to look on; since the incroaching of one of these Estates upon the power of the other is unhappy in the effects both to them and all the rest; since this power of at most a joynt Government in Us with Our Councellors (or rather Our Guardians) will return Us to the worst kind of Minority, and make Us Despicable both at home and abroad, and beget eternall Factions and Dissentions (as destructive to publike Happiness as War) both in the chosen, and in the Houses that chuse them, and the people who chuse the Chusers; since so new a power will undoubtedly intoxicate persons who were not born to it, and beget not onely Divisions among them as equals, but in them contempt of Us as become an equall to them, and Insolence and Injustice towards Our people, as now so much their inferiors, which will be the more grievous unto them, as suffering from those who were so lately of a neerer degree to themselves...

Since as great [a change] in the Church must follow this of the Kingdom:  Since the second Estate would be in all probability follow the Fate of the first, and by some of the same turbulent spirits Jealousies would be soon raised against them, and the like Propositions for reconciliation of Differences would be then sent to them, and they now have joyned to send to us, till (all Power being vested in the HOuse of Commons, and their number making them incapable of transacting Affairs of State with the necessary Secrecie and expedition; those being retrusted to some close Committee) at last the Common people (who in the mean time must be flattered , and to whom Licence must be given in all their wilde humours, how contrary soever to established Law, or to their own reall Good) discover this Arcanum Imperii [secret of rulership], That this was done by them, but not for them, grow weary of Journeywork and set up for themselves, call Parity and Independence, Liberty; devour the Estate which had devoured the rest; Destroy all Rights and Proprieties, all distinctions of Families and Merit; And by this means this splendid and excellently distinguished form of Government end in a dark equall Chaos of Confusion, and the long Line of Our many noble Ancestors in an Jack Cade, or a Wat Tyler.

For all these Reasons to all these demands [the Nineteen Propositions] Our Answer is, Nolumus Leges Angliae mutari [We are unwilling to change the laws of England]...