Page:Behemoth 1889.djvu/208

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astrology; a mere cozener, to get maintenance from a multitude of ignorant people; and no doubt had been called in question, if his prophecies had been any way disadvantageous to that Parliament.

B. I understand not how the dreams and prognostications of madmen (for such I take to be all those that foretell future contingencies) can be of any great disadvantage to the commonwealth.

A. Yes. You know[1] there is nothing that renders human counsels difficult, but the uncertainty of future time; nor that so well directs men in their deliberations, as the foresight of the sequels of their actions; prophecy being many times the principal cause of the event foretold. If, upon some prediction, the people should have been made confident that Oliver Cromwell and his army should be, upon a day to come, utterly defeated; would not every one have endeavoured to assist, and to deserve well of the party that should give him that defeat? Upon this account it was that fortune-tellers and astrologers were so often banished out of Rome.

The last memorable thing this year, was a motion made by a member of the House, an alderman of London, that the Protector might be petitioned and advised by the House to leave the title of Protector, and take upon him that of King.

B. That was indeed a bold motion, and which would, if prosperous, have put an end to *a great* many men’s ambition, and to the licentiousness of the whole army. I think the motion was made on purpose to ruin both the Protector himself and his ambitious officers.

A. It may be so. In the year 1657 the first thing the Parliament did, was the drawing up of this petition to the Protector, to take upon him the government of the three nations, with the title of King. As of other former Parliaments, so of this, the greatest part had been either kept out of the House by force, or else themselves had forborne

  1. Yes, yes: know.