Oliver Cromwell MP’s speech on the dissolution of the Rump of the Long Parliament, given to the House of Commons, 20 April 1653.
It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonoured by your contempt of 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, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.
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 barter’d your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?
Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defil’d this sacred place, and turn’d the Lord’s temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices? Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation; you were deputed here by the people to get grievances redress’d, are yourselves gone! So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors. In the name of God, go!
My lords, honourable members, I have always desired, above my life, a free Parliament … …sitting by the authority of the good people of this nation. A Parliament open and visible, to be seen by all men.
It is six years since I handed over to you this great responsibility… …in the hope that you would make good and wholesome laws… …which the people of this nation expected of you. I must confess to some abatement of my hopes… …for what has happened in my absence.
Instead of uniting the good people of this nation… …with righteousness and peace… …which would have been a glorious and Christian thing to have done… …what do I find? Anarchy, corruption… …division and dissatisfaction.
I say that the enemies of this nation… …have flourished under your protection.
You were from the beginning a provisional government… …not truly representative of the people.
For have the people elected you? Has this House gone once to the people it purports to represent?
No, it has not! And after six years of misgovernment, what do we find?
Sir Thomas Fairfax moves a bill to give this House a further lease… …of its worthless and dishonourable life!
Gentlemen, an immovable Parliament is more obnoxious… …than an immovable king!
You are drunkards, tricksters, villains, whoremasters… …godless, self-seeking, ambitious tricksters. You are no more capable of conducting the nation’s affairs… …than you are of running a brothel!
You are scum, sir. And not truly elected scum at that.
This is no Parliament.
I shall put an end to it.
I hereby declare this Parliament dissolved!
– Colonel Harrison!
– Yes, sir.