Cromwell’s reply to Parliament, when asked to be king, 1657
(W.C. Abbott (ed.), The writings and speeches of Oliver Cromwell, Vol. III, pp.442-44. Published by Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1947)
This frame of government, that it hath pleased the Parliament by your hand to offer to me, truly I should have a very brazen forehead, if it should not beget in me a great deal of consternation of spirit, it being of so high and great importance, as by your opening of it, and by the reading of it, is manifest to all men to be. The welfare, the peace, the settlement of three nations, and all that rich treasure of the best people in the world being involved therein, I say, this consideration alone ought to beget in me the greatest reverence and fear of God, that ever possessed a man in this world. ……
I have therefore but this one word to say to you: That seeing you have made this progress in this business, and completed the work on your part, I may have some short time to ask counsel of God and of my own heart! And I hope that neither the honour of any weak or unwise people, nor yet the desires of any that may have lusting after things that are not good, shall steer me to give other than such an answer as may be ingenuous and thankful, thankfully acknowledging your care and integrity, and such an answer as shall be for the good of those, that I presume you and I serve, and are ready to serve.