POLITICAL HISTORY almost drunk.' While waiting in Westminster Hall they began to quarrel with the soldiers on guard. Whitelocke proceeds : ' They fell a quarrelling with the guards, and asked them why they stood there to guard a company of rogues. Then, words on both sides increasing the Company fell upon the guards and disarmed them, killed one of them and wounded divers. On this alarm more soldiers were sent for from Whitehall and the Meuse, who fell upon the countrymen and killed five or six of them and wounded very many, chasing them up and down through the Hall and the Lanes and Passages thereabouts.' l Rushworth says that they disarmed two or three of the guards and killed one before one of the petitioners was hurt. But this evidence is all on the side of the Parliament. We can well believe that the countrymen were rude and violent, but ' the words on both sides increasing ' imply that the soldiers were not passive either, and an unarmed mob is not likely to have actually assaulted and killed one of an armed guard without more provocation than ill words. The accounts of eye-witnesses show that considerable disorder on one side was put down by military force on the other. The petitioners, waiting in vain for an answer from the Com- mons, became abusive and violent, shouting for 'An old king and a new Parliament,' and wishing to enter the House. A regiment was sent for to clear them out of Westminster Hall, and then resistance being attempted one man was killed on the side of the soldiers, some eight or ten of the countrymen were killed and nearly a hundred wounded. Shots were fired as well as swords and pikes used. 2 Had the violence been done by soldiers of a Stuart sovereign, or of Lord Liverpool's ministry, it would be in all school histories of England. On May 18 the Surrey gentlemen published their version of the riot at Guildford. They said that they were joined by many Royalists and that provocation was used to the soldiers which they disliked, as also they did the vio- lence of the soldiers. They do not admit the beginning of violence on their own side. They declared that they would not further exercise their right of petitioning the Parliament, but would unite the county in an engagement to bring in the king again upon conditions. They desired that it should not be in the power of either king or Parliament or army to oppress and ruin the people at their pleasure by committees or taxes or free quarter. They recommended also that a period should be put to the present Parliament. 8 The self-constituted Executive Government in fact, evolved out of a legislature elected eight years before in different circumstances, which had shed many of its members and supplied their place by illegal elections, but which was indissoluble except by its own act, had outlived its popularity. A period was to be put to it a few years hence, but not by the justly discontented nation. The Surrey gentlemen had on May 22 turned to the real masters of the 1 Whitelocke Memorials ; see also Rushtoorth Collections.
- See ' A True Relation,' Museum Pamphlets, E. 443, 5, and A New Narrative,' E. 443, 29.
Also Clarendon MSS. 2786, 'A Letter of Intelligence,' May 18, 1648. 3 A Declaration of the County of Surrey, Museum Pamphlets, E. 445, 8. 415