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Jay H § Matching cuts / 2014-10-02 02:41:13

A Messe Of Pottage
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So there’s this huge political money scandal in the UK. The Telegraph’s Simon Heffer says, let’s get Puritanical — as in the real Puritans:

An unfinished  miniature portrait of Oliver Cr...

Image via Wikipedia

What is now needed is the Cromwellian touch, for I do not believe Parliament’s standing has been lower since Oliver dismissed the Rump in April 1653. Mr Cameron should sack from his front bench all those exposed in unacceptable use of taxpayers’ money. Central Office should ask chairmen of constituency parties whose MPs have behaved disgracefully to consider whether the chances of the seat being held at the next election would be helped by the selection of a new, financially untainted candidate. To take this swift action now would secure Mr Cameron’s moral advantage; it would greatly damage the Prime Minister and the Labour Party; it would put pressure on Mr Brown to do precisely the same.

Heffer even busts out one of my favorite Cromwell stories:

However, we all know what Mr Brown should do, and again Cromwell provides us with our lead. Remember the words he uttered to the Rump, in his anger at its failure to consolidate the new England after the second civil war: “It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonoured by your contempt for all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice; ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage… Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess? Ye have no more religion than my horse; gold is your god; which of you have not bartered your conscience for bribes?… Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation; ye were deputed here by the people to get grievances redress’d, and are yourselves gone… In the name of God, go!”

The trouble is, this is EVERYBODY’s favorite Cromwell speech, and he probably never said most of it. Mercurius Politicus has got the goods:

The earliest record I can find of it is in Thomas Mortimer

2 comments

Thanks for the link. I agree, I do like the Lilburne account of Cromwell banging the table – even though it may be a bit more Lilburnian than Cromwellian, as you imply…

My other favorite Cromwell moment (is it sad to have multiple favorite Cromwell moments?):

“Cromwell contrived a conference to be held in King Street between those called the grandees of the house and army and the commonwealthsmen, in which the grandees (of whom lieutenant general Cromwell was the head) kept themselves in the clouds; and would not declare their judgments either for a monarchical, aristocratical or democratical government; maintaining that any of them might be good in themselves or for us according as Providence should direct us. The commonwealthsmen declared that monarchy was neither good in itself nor for us

I love everything about Lilburne’s story, especially his hedge: “in these very words OR to this effect…” Marvelous. And I love your blog, Nick — one of the best instances of paleoblogging around.

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