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Sample text

It may not continue laws abridging the freedom of foreign trade, and may not raise money by excise taxes or except by an equal rate levied upon real and personal estate. It may not make or continue laws imprisoning men f or debt, nor may it continue the death penalty for any crime but murder. It may not continue tithes, though impropriators are to be compensated. It may not take away the liberty of each parish to elect its own ministers. It may not alter judgments in trials from being given by twelve jurors, dwelling in the neighbourhood, and freely elected by the people.

Your slavery is their liberty, your poverty is their prosperity___’ Nor do the rich desire peace, Clarkson says, f or ‘peace is their ru in e . . by warre they are inriched. . 4 These remarkable statements come much closer to the ideas of the 1 Putney protects, 1647, passim. This is signed with the obvious pseudonym, John La wound. C. and is acknowledged by Clarkson in his The lost sheep found, 1660, 24. N 3 . as Laurence Claxton. His autobiographi­ cal tract, The lost sheepfound, ought to be reprinted.

But in the writings of none of the Leveller chiefs was there an outspoken hatred for the rich as such, nor a distinct and considered concern with the problems of the agricultural population. These themes, neglected in the works of the leaders, are to be found in the writings of some of the minor Leveller figures. 8 His pamphlet was a denunciation of the rich and their domination of Parliament, and takes the form of a discourse delivered by Experienced Reason in behalf of Justice-Equity. How could you expect a Parliament of rich men to free you, Experienced Reason asks the people: ‘for who are the oppressors, but the Nobility and Gentry; and who are oppressed, is not the Yeoman, the Farmer, the Tradesman, and the Labourer?

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