Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Rump Parliament Dissolved

" And as for the rumps of beeves," continued Tomkins, with the same solemnity, " there is a rump at Westminster, which will stand us of the army much hacking and hewing yet, ere it is discussed to our mind."

Sir Henry paused, as if to consider what was the meaning of this innuendo; for he was not a person of very quick apprehension. But having at length caught the meaning of it, he burst into an explosion of louder laughter than Joceline had seen him indulge in for a good while.

" Right, kuave," he said, " I taste- thy jest-It is the very moral of the puppetshow. Faustus raised the devil, as the Parliament raised the army, and then, as the devil flies away with Faustus, so will the army fly away with the Parliament, or the rump, as thou call'st it, or sitting part of the so-called Parliament. And then, look you, friend, the very devil of all hath my willing consent to fly away with the army in its turn, from the highest general down to the lowest drum-boy. Nay, never look fierce for the matter; remember there is daylight enough now for a game at sharps."
Scott's novel Woodstock, from which the above passage was taken, was set in 1651 during the English Civil Wars.  The Rump Parliament came into being on December 6, 1648, when Colonel Thomas Pride removed members of the Long Parliament that didn't support the Grandee faction of the army in its efforts to try Charles I for treason (Pride's Purge).  Retained members were termed "Rump"; as in the remainder.
Grandees were comprised largely of landed gentry, as opposed to Levellers, who we today might consider more populist, favoring equality before the law and religious tolerance.  Oliver Cromwell was a Grandee.
On April 20, 1653, Cromwell dissolved the Rump.  The Rump had previously agreed to disolve, but hadn't Cromwell felt that rumpers were "designing to spin an everlasting thread".  According to The Book of Days, Cromwell took control of the Parliament stating 'You are no parliament! Some of you are drunkards '—bending a stern eye upon Mr. Chaloner; 'some of you are _______ {whores},' a word expressive of a worse immorality, and he looked here at Henry Marten and Sir Peter Wentworth —'living in open contempt of God's commandments. Some of you are corrupt, unjust persons—how can you be a parliament for God's people? Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. Go!'

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