Source: https://www.marxists.org/history/england/english-revolution/light-shining.htm and http://oll.libertyfund.org/pages/leveller-tracts-5#5.21
A Discovery of the main ground;
Original Cause of all the Slavery in the World,
but chiefly in ENGLAND:
presented by way of a Declaration of many
of the well-affected in that County, to all their
poor oppressed Country-men of
And also to the Consideration of the
present Army under the Conduct of the
Arise O God, judge thou the Earth
Printed in the year 1648
Light Shining In Buckinghamshire
JEHOVAH ELLOHIM Created Man after his own likeness and image, which image is his Son Jesus, Heb. I. verse 2. who is the image of the Invisible God: now Man being made after God's image or likeness, and created by the word of God, which word was made Flesh and dwelt amongst us; which word was life, and that life the light of men, I. Joh. 2. this light I take to be that pure spirit in man which we call Reason, which discusseth things right and reflecteth, which we call conscience; from all which there issued out that golden rule or law, which we call equity: the sum me of which is, saith Jesus, whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do to them, this is the Law and the Prophets; and James calls it the royal Law, and to live from this principle is called a good conscience: and the creature Man was privileged with being Lord over other inferior creatures, but not over his own kind; for all men being alike privileged by birth, so all men were to enjoy the creatures alike without propriety one more than the other, all men by the grant of God are alike free, and every man individual, that is to say, no man was to Lord or command over his own kind: neither to enclose the creatures to his own use, to the impoverishing of his neighbours, see the Charter, I. Gen. from 26. vers. to the end of the Chapt. and see the renewing of the Charter to Noah and his Sons, Gen. 9. from the
But man following his own sensuality became a devourer of the creatures, and an encloser, not content that another should enjoy the same privilege as himself, but encloseth all from his Brother; so that all the Land, Trees, Beasts; Fish, Fowl, &c. are enclosed into a few mercenary hands; and all the rest deprived and made their slaves, so that if they cut a Tree for fire they are to be punished, or hunt a fowl it is imprisonment, because it is gentlemen's game, as they say; neither must they keep Cattle, or set up a House, all ground being enclosed, without hiring leave for the one, or buying room for the other, of the chief encloser, called the Lord of the Manor, or some other wretch as cruel as he, and all must be summoned to a Court Leet, there to acknowledge Fealty and Service, and that with Oaths if required (at leastwise if Jurymen) to their Tyrant called Lord of the Manor; and if a Tenant admitted, if Copy-holder, he must take an Oath to become a true Tenant, rather Slave, as afore said; now all this Slavery of the one and Tyranny of the other was at first by murder and cruelty one against the other; and that they might strengthen themselves in their villainy against God's ordinances and their Brothers freedoms and rights: They had always a Commander in chief, which was the most blindest and desperatest wretch, and he was their chief and head, as Nimrod, and he became their King; so that I dare make plainly appear by Scripture and Reason, that Kings were not of God's institution at first, but it arose from the Heathens, viz. those that lived after their own beastly lusts: and when Israel would have a King, their only ground was to be like other Nations; and God told Samuel saying, they have not cast off or rejected thee but me, that I should not reign over them. Read the whole, Chapter of the I of Samuel &c. where observe the Slavery that the people are in that have a King, and amongst the whole Catalogue observe the Tenth of Stocks, &c. and see the 12. Chapter from the 16. verse forward, what judgements God sent in their Harvest for asking a King, and afterwards observe what misery befell, for they were in continual Wars abroad, and at last divided into divisions and had two Kings: Then what woeful civil Wars and murdering one another for the Kingdom: I refer you to the whole book of Kings to judge; doe but read that of their first King Abimelech's cruelty which was Gideon's bastard; Judges 8. and 21. read the 9. of Judges, &c. there he kills his brother with a company of light fellows; and as Kings are the root of Tyranny, so likewise they were the first that brought in wars, see Gen. 14. for their greatness must be upheld by murder and cruelty, as aforesaid, in so much that in Revel. 13. mention is made of an ugly beast with seven heads and ten horns, which horns did persecute the Saints: now in Revel. 17. horns are there declared to be Kings, so that Kings are of the Beast, which is a power that makes all subject to it, but only the Saints, &c. Revel. 13. and 7. And saith the Scripture, the Beast hath its power from the Dragon, Revel. 13. and 4. and the Dragon in Revel. 20. and 2 is the Devil and Satan, so that it is plain, that Kings are of the Beast, and the Beast is of the Devil; and it is as plain, they that worship the King worship the Beast, and they that worship the Beast worship the Devil, Revel. 13: and 4. verse. Now let us a little behold our English Powers, all that which is called Magistracy is from the Kings Patent, and his is from the Devil; for the King's Predecessors, The outlandish bastard William came to be King by Conquest and murder, now murderers are, saith Jesus, the Devil's children, for saith he, the Devil was a murderer from the beginning and he abode not in the Truth: now Kings are utterly against the truth, and persecutors of the Saints; for saith Jesus, they shall bring you before Kings, so that Kings are enemies unto the Kingdom of Christ.
Secondly, Behold now from licence or grant comes all our enclosures and tradings, as privilege to buy and sell, and to enjoy, occupy and possess lands; it is from taking the Beasts mark: now observe the rich possessors, encroachers, enclosers, see your holdings, your Patents, and Charters, and Licence is from the King, and all tenures and holdings of lands is from your King, yea all Writings, Indentures, Bands, Leases, &c. is in the name and authority of him; nay your money is not lawful, if it be not the Kings coin, and his picture and superscription on it.
So that observe, the King is made by you your God on earth, as God is the God of heaven, saith your Lawyers: therefore all Laws, Writs, Summons, Warrants, Patents, &c, must be in his name; nay, the Parliament will settle nothing without him, yea all Honours must be from him. Now then mark if this be not all from the Dragon: and the Priests to verify this, saith in their thing called Prayer, he is supreme head of their Church, Ecclesiastical as Civil, next under thee and thy Christ, so that he is their third person of their Trinity, and so their God, Defender of their faith. Now here is the blasphemy in Rev. 13. vers. 5. And in the Scotish Covenant, one Article of their Religion is concerning his sacred Majesty, &c. and Kings are the only chief upholders of Babylon: see how they weep at her downfall, Rev. 18. when buying and selling ceaseth, &c.
Now friends, what have we to do with any of these unfruitful works of darkness? Let us take Peter's advice, I Pet. 4. 3. The time past of our life may suffice that we have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lascivious lusts, exces of wine, revellings, banqueting, and abominable idolatry. And let us not receive the Beast's mark, lest that the doom in Rev. 14. 9, 10. befall none of us: but let us oppose the Beastly powers, and follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.
Now here is the chief ground why wicked men stand so for a King; it is to uphold all their confused cruelties and incests as aforesaid: and herein upholding him, they uphold that power that set him up, (by our Saviour's rule) and by justifying him, they justify that power that set him a work in all his tyranny; and they and the Parliament in treating with him, treat with him that authorised him; and in receiving him, receiveth him that set him on work, that is to say the Devil. Then see how we are cheated.
Now the enlightened Saints are commanded to abandon the unfruitful works of darkness. But all this power aforesaid is,
1. of darkness; therefore to be resisted.
2. Christ hath called the Saints to light; therefore they are to walk as children of light.
3. The Saints are to have no fellowship with Belial: but the power aforesaid is of Belial, therefore have no fellowship with it.
4. The said power is to be resisted: and see the promise, for saith James, Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you. And this we have experience of, that whensoever the Kings power was manfully resisted, he fled from the resisters.
And therefore those called the Levellers, their principles to free all alike out of slavery, are most just and honest in reference to the matter of freedom: for it is the end of the redemption by Jesus, to restore all things.
And to do this, the removal of the Kingly power will be a main forwardness: and indeed the Kingly power is the being of Tyranny; for if no King, no Lord, no Patent, &c. 2. If the execution of Laws were not in his name, as all Assurances, Writs, Commissions, Patents, Warrants, &c. then he should down if he would, for any use or need they had of him.
1. Therefore rich men cry for a King, because the poor should not claim his right that is his by God's gift.
2. The horseleech Lawyer cries for a King, because else the supreme power will come into the people's Representatives lawfully elected, and so all Trials would be done in the country, in every Town &c. by the same Neighbourhood, and so the Law would no more be bought nor sold, and then farewell caterpillar-Lawyer.
3. The things, Lord, Barons, &c. cry for a King, else their tyranical House of Peers falls down, and all their rotten honour, and all Patents and Corporations, their power being derived from him, if he go down, all their tyranny falls too. The like of Lords of Manors, Gentlemen, &c. besides the Priests of all men must cry for a King; for by his power and oppressing Courts, all his Judges, Justices, &c. and himself too is their sworn creature, and they are the Priests' pack-horses that carry the whore of Babylon's ware about, and they want but bells about their neck they may be the better heard, &c. Now if the King go down, what will become of the Priests ware think you? and Tithes goes down.
The like of all base Conventions of men of what kinde so ever. But now the honest man that would have liberty, cryes down all interests whatsoever, and to this end he desires common right and equity, which consists of these particulars following.
1. A just portion for each man to live, that so none need to beg or steal for want, but everyone may live comfortably.
2. A just Rule for each man to go by, which Rule is to be found in Scripture.
3. All men alike under the said Rule, which Rule is, To do to another as another should do to him: So that eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, &c. and if anyone stole, to restore double, &c.
4. The government to be by Judges, called Elders, men fearing God and hating covetousness; Those to be chosen by the people, and to end all controversies in every Town and Hamlet, without any other or further trouble or charge.
And in the Scriptures, the Israelites Common-wealth is an excellent pattern, if led up to that in Gen. I. and Gen. 9. mentioned in the beginning.
Now in Israel, if a man were poor, then a public maintenance and stock was to be provided to raise him again: So would all Bishops' lands, Forrest lands, and Crown-lands do in our Land, which the Apostate Parliament men give one to another, and to maintain the needless thing called a King. And every seven years the whole Land was for the poor, the fatherless, widows and strangers, and at every crop a portion allowed them.
Mark this, poor people, what the Levellers would do for you. Oh why are you so mad as to cry up a King? It is he and his Court and Patentee men, as Majors, Aldermen, and such creatures, that like Cormorants devour what you should enjoy, and set up Whipping-posts and Correcting-houses to enslave you. Tis rich men that oppress you, saith James.
Now in this right Common-wealth, he that had least had no want: therefore the Scripture call them a Family, and household of Israel. And in the 2. of the Acts, amongst those that received the Gospel, they were gathered into a family and had all things common; yet so, that each one was to labour and eat his own bread. And this is equity, as aforesaid: for it is not lawful nor fit for some to work, and the other to play; for it is God's command, that all work, let all eat: and if all work alike, is it not fit for all to eat alike, have alike, and enjoy alike privileges and freedoms? And he that did not like this, is not fit to live in a Common-wealth. See Gen. 9. And therefore weep and howl, ye Rich men, by what vain name or title soever: God will visit you for all your oppressions; You live on other men's labours, and give them their bran to eat, extorting extreme rents and taxes on your fellow-creatures. But now what will you do? for the People will no longer be enslaved by you, for the knowledge of the Lord shall enlighten them, &c.
And now (according to my knowledge,) I shall discover your pedeigree from your King to your Gentleman, and it is thus: William the Bastard son of Robert Duke of Normandy, with a mighty Army of his fellow-tyrants and Thieves and Robbers, enters Sussex, kills the inhabitants the Britons and their King, that were in an Army to withstand his cruelty and defend their rights, robs and destroys all places and persons at his pleasure, settleth Garrisons of Normans to enslave the Britons, takes all Land and causeth them to hold it by Copyhold, to pay fines and harets at his pleasure, &c. It is too tedious to relate all Polls, Tolls, Taxes &c. that he made our Forefathers pay. Let the Reader view the Chronicle.
But amongst all unnatural, unreasonable, tyrannical and cruel Laws he made, as that of Curfer, of Felony, That the child must suffer for the Father, &c. And all his tyrannical Laws he caused to be in an Outlandish tongue. So that here I take this power to be that little horn in Dan., 7. 24. because I never heard or read of the like cruelty that any Tyrant did the like, for to cause his cruel Laws to be in an unknown tongue. Now the poor people knew not when they offended or no. 2. For the execution of those Laws, the people to come to what place he will appoint, at 4 Terms and times in a year.
And 3. to buy their Laws at the Lawyers unconscionable rate, for he set up and devised the Lawyers. Now as I shall make it appear that this is the horn, so the Caterpillars' Lawyers will prove the eyes: which Lawyers are as profitable as maggots in meat, and Caterpillars in Cabbages, and Wolves amongst Lambs, &c.
And amongst those, see their Preferment (as it's called) to suck the People; as Attorney, Counsellor, Barrister, Sergeant, and accordingly Fees to rob, and they take Oaths; and out of this rubbish stuff are all our Creatures called Judges, and they likewise all to be sworn. And then places of preferment (so called) to tyrannize and to be the head Tyrants, Sycophants, Wolves, Lions, Leopards, &c. as Duchy General, Attorney-General, Lord-lubber Keeper, Lord Privy-Seal, Lord Treasurer, Lord Barons of the Exchequer, and I know not what great Catchpoles besides these; all to be sworn to their dread Sovereign Tyrant Beast, &c. And so being right whelps brought up to rend, devour, rob, spoil, tyrannise &c. over the poor people; then their dread Tyrant, as he hath received power and dignity from the Dragon or Devil as aforesaid, doth shatter, breath out, and all-to-bedaggle them with it, with hairy-skinned Robes, resembling the subtle nasty Fox with his dirty tail. And because the Lord Keeper, Privy Seal, and Treasurer's long tails should not daggle in the dirt, they must have another Sycophant slave apiece to carry up for them with their hats off doing homage to their breech. Oh height of all baseness! What, will they creep in one another's arses for honour? Why, oh, his Majesty's breath of Honour it may be blows out There, and therefore he holds up his gown that it might blow him that holds it up, and makes him be called Sir. Likewise those men thus honoured must have a gew-gaw silver Mace carried before them, With a Cross a top on it, to shew they have their Title from the Defender of the Popish Faith; the Lord Keeper having a fools-bauble like a Purse carried before him: now all these Lawyers, Liars and twelve Judges: Besides with their accoutred Caps; and Serjeants with their womanish Coifs and Petticoats on their Shoulders, with their Barristers, Attorneys, &c. Howbeit, they rob and devour the people, striving who shall most play the knave and cozen; so that he may climb up into high places of profit: for all those upholding their Kings Prerogative, their Tyranny is unquestionable, that is the reason that they maintain the King can do no wrong; that he is a God on earth, as God is God in Heaven, and that he is the life of the Law; all Writs, Warrants, Commissions, &c. His name gives the being to them: that he is the fountain of our honour and magistracy: yea and that he is supreme head Ecclesiastical and Civil; also that he is to be accountable to none but God, and all this the better to hide their tyranny; for they being all from him, and all their Commissions; if you question them, then you must question him from whom their power was derived: but they say, he is not to be accountable, &c. so that by this means they uphold all their Tyranny; and there is no way, but to take down the Kingly Power and then theirs will down too, & not before: Now these Lawyers are the Eyes of the Beast, for the twelve Judges sit in the tyrannical House of Peers, another sort of the Kingly creatures to advise them in all tyranny, and how to keep the Norman yoke about the people's necks.
The next thing to show is from whence came all our Nobility and Gentry, even from that outlandish Norman Bastard, who first being his Servants and under-Tyrants; secondly, their rise was by cruel murder and theft by the Conquest; thirdly, their rise was the Country's ruin, and the putting them down will be the restitution of our rights again; these are called Dukes, Earls, Barons, Marquesses, Lords, &c. And from this Bastard is all our royal blood, therefore to be utterly disesteemed: O then behold, O England thy vanity in Idolizing the King and his Children!
Thy Priests have gulled, bewitched, cheated, and betrayed thee into these tyrants hands with their sorceries only for their own filthy lucre and bellies' sake, because they have the greatest part of the spoil for their preaching up the King to be the Supreme head, Defender of the Faith, God's anointed; and that if thou dost resist his power thou resisteth the ordinances of God: now all this is but as bridles in thy jaws, and blinds over thy eyes, that thou must be ruled by the Church, and they are thy enemies, and thou must believe them; and keep thy self a good Subject to thy Prince, the condition is good: and by all these and a thousand tricks more they do but mould thee to slavery this five hundred years and more, and by this means the King and his Creatures ride thee in thy Estates and Persons and Labours.
And the Priests over thy Conscience and soul, and keep thee in all ignorance and malice; and for so doing thy Priests are thy Princes and bear rule, and for their so bewitching thee they come by their Impropriations and fat Benefits: and it is for those fat Benefits that makes them turn changelings, either to King or Parliament, which will best furnish their kitchen. Therefore shake off those locusts and be no more deluded by them, but hearken to the voice of God in the Scriptures and his Saints, and pay no more Tithes to those Priests, nay cast off those abominable deceivers.
All Charters, Patents, and Corporations was devised only to uphold the Kings Tyranny, Greatness, and Interest; and because the people did rise in many parts for their Privileges and Right; and he being in straights and knowing not how to uphold his tyranny, devised a way to set the people one against another, by making some Free, some Foreigners, &c. and so deviseth these Patents and Charters in all populous Cities and Towns throughout the Realm to uphold his Interest.
Now as for these bewitching Charters, see how they run in J. I: Out of our Princely grace, bounty, mere motioned princely favour, Do give and grant to this our City or Town, &c. To be a body Corporate, to consist of a Major, Bailiffs and Burgesses, &c.
Why? Mark, the better to serve us and our successors (this is the end of their grant) then all Towns and Customs whatsoever is due to us and our successors? We bequeath to the same body Corporate (and every business must be sworn, to be the Kings creatures) then out of that pack, they have power to choose twelve Aldermen for a Common-council, and they all be sworn again: Then out of this stuff, all the Burgesses to choose a thing called a Mayor, and she all to be sworn to the Kings: then she shall be a Just-ass of Peace and Coram, and have a silver artichoke or toy called a Mace, carried before her; and she and her twelve Aldermen following after in their Cunny-skin Gowns, as so many fools in a Mid-summer Ale: and those petty-tyrants shall domineer over the Inhabitants by virtue of their Patent, and enclose all, letting and setting of the Poor's lands to, and moneys, stocks of moneys to their own use: and claim a Privilege from their Charters and Patents that they scorn to be accountable to others, but to their Prerogative Masters; so that you see all tyranny shelters itself under the King's wings: is it not time then to throw down the King, and bring his Person to his answer: these Patents and Charters is the main wheel and prop that upholds the Kings tyranny; for by this means the Prerogative people, strives to uphold the King and Lords interests, to get favours of them, to hold up their own knavery and deceit; and doth choose such Burgesses for the Parliament, as will be for the King, as Caterpillar Lawyers, Coliers or lords of the Manor, Impropriators, or such like; and it is from those Patent Towns that the House of Commons if fil'd with so many kingified Prerogative self-interest, proud and cheating Varlets as now it is: and until those Corporations be thrown down, we can expect never any hope of freedom by a Parliament: see how London's Common-Council stir up their Hackneys with Petitions and Mutinies, for a Treaty with our Conquered enemy, &c
Therefore let Burgesses henceforth be no more so chosen, but from all the well-affected in general.
The next thing is to shew you, as I conceive, how we came by a Parliament, 2. what is a Parliament, 3. what good may be expected by a Parliament as it now stands?
Our fore-fathers the Britons, being altogether in slavery, did rise in many parts, and would not endure the slavery aforesaid; then the tyrant and his brood, not able to overcome, grants a Parliament as followeth; the People to parley, treat, or declare their mind: to this end, to choose men to treat, as followeth,
1. The Freeholders in every County to choose two, which should be called Knights for the County; and his Patentee Towns, each to choose two more, which should be called Burgesses, and those should sit for the Country, and be called a House of Commons; and have a firmitive voice, to affirm what they would have done, and the major part to carry it.
2. Provided, that he would have a House of Peers to sit for him from his Prerogative without Election, by his Patent, and those to have an Negative voice to thwart the Commons if they please, and if they assented to the Commons, then it should be an Ordinance; if they did not, then all the Commons did should be null; and if the Commons and Lords, or the most part, did assent, then the King to have a Negative voice; and no Laws to be made or repealed without his consent; and if he consented to it, then it should be an Act, and no otherwise.
3. Before any sitting to Vote, they are to take these Oaths as followeth, 1. That he is their lawful King: 2. They will not alter the Government as it now stands: 3. And they will not deprive his Successor: and in King Henry the eight time, when they came to be Priest ridden, that he is Head of the Church, Ecclesiastical and Civil, Supreme head &c. Defender of the Faith, and such blasphemies: and these oaths, as it is manifest, they have ever since taken.
Now observe our Worthy Parliament; first the King is too hard for the People to cheat them: for first, the greater number of the Commons are chosen by his Patentee Burgesses Major & Aldermen: and the County, but two in a County and those the Freeholders, which had their freedom of the Normans, and all the people else shut by from choosing, and if
2. The King hath a House of Patentee Lords to balance them with their Negative voice
3. The King hath a Negative voice, and that is the third State to Balance them himself.
4. In the House of Commons itself, the King hath the biggest part, even near two to one for most, all the Burgesses be for him, and the major part carrying it by voice. Now what is this but a mere cheat, and observe all the Chronicles from Bastard William to Charles and upwards, and since, and it will appear that Kings got more by treaties, then ever their Sword could have done, and kept it longer, because now their tyranny was settled by a Law, and the People sworn to those Laws; they thinking they have gained freedom when indeed they have given away their freedom by their Parliaments, as aforesaid: and now we see, had not God moved this Army to prevent this Treaty, this Parliament had utterly cheated and betrayed us into our implacable enemies' hands again; and had settled the whole Norman power again over us, notwithstanding all this light to the contrary, Treasure spent, Bloodshed, &c. Besides the many Oaths the Commons took to free us; so that Charles had like to be set up into his tyrannical Power again; but now blessed be God, the Net is broke, and we are escaped. And for all our tyranny the Priests are our enchanters, and those that preached it up for their own bellies' sakes.
Now King, Lords, Commons, three States, as it hath been called, the little Home (as I conceive) in Daniel the seventh; for it altereth from all other tyrannical Powers in the world whatever: secondly, the King is head of their Church, as aforesaid: thirdly, they alter one tyrannical way, and set up another: and can make up a thing called Religion by one Parliament, and throw it down the next Parliament and set up another; so here is changing times &c. and trampling under feet. And the base Priests, the Ecclesiastical State, preacheth all those Powers and Constitutions to be Jure divino. O wretches, wretches, the black guard of Satan, what will become of them.