« PoprzedniaDalej »
Lord's power was over all, and a blessed time it was for the spreading of his glorious truth. It was indeed the immediate power of the Lord that preserved me out of their hands at Bristol, and over the heads of all our persecutors; and the Lord alone is worthy of all the glory, who did uphold and preserve for his name, and truth's sake.
At London I staid not long, being drawn in spirit to visit Friends northward as far as Leicestershire. John Stubbs was with me. We travelled down, having meetings amongst Friends as we went; and at Skegby we had a great meeting. Thence we came to Barnet-hills, where lived one captain Brown, a Baptist, whose wife was convinced of truth. This captain Brown, after the act for breaking up meetings' came forth, being afraid his wife should go to meetings, and be cast into prison, left his house at Barrow, and took a place on these hills, saying, 'His wife should not go to prison.' And this being a free place, many both priests and others fled thither as well as he. But he, who would neither stand to truth himself nor suffer his wife, was in this place, where he thought himself safe, found out by the Lord, whose hand fell heavy upon him for his unfaithfulness; so that he was sorely plagued, and grievously judged in himself for flying and drawing his wife into that private place. We went to see his wife, and being into the house, I asked him, how he did? How do I? (said he,) the plagues and vengeance of God are upon me, a runagate, a Cain as I am. God may look for a witness for me, and such as me; for if all were not faithfuller than I, God would have no witness left in the earth.' In this condition he lived there on bread and water, and thought it was too good for him. At length he got home again with his wife to his own house at Barrow, where afterwards he was convinced of God's eternal truth, and died in it. A little before his death he said, though he had not borne a testimony for truth in his life, he would bear a testimony in his death, and would be buried in his orchard;' and was so. He was an example to all the flying Baptists in the time of persecution, who could not bear persecution themselves, yet persecuted us when they had power.
From Barnet-hills we came to Swanington, in Leicestershire, where William Smith and some other Friends came to me; but went away towards night, leaving me at a Friend's house in Swanington. At night as I was sitting in the hall, speaking to a widow-woman and her daughter, lord Beaumont came with a company of soldiers, who, slapping their swords on the door, rushed into the house with swords and pistols in their hands, crying, Put out the candles, and make fast the doors.' Then they seized upon the Friends in the house and asked, 'If there were no more about the house?' the Friends told them, there was one man more in the hall. There being some Friends out of Derbyshire, one of them was named Thomas Fauks; this lord Beaumont, so called, after he had
asked all their names, bid his man set down that man's name Thomas Fox. The Friend said, nay, his name was not Fox, but Fauks. In the mean time some of the soldiers came, and fetched me out of the hall to him. He asked my name. I told him my name was George Fox, and that I was well known by that name. Ay, (said he,) you are known all the world over.' I said, I was known for no hurt, but for good. Then he put his hands into my pockets to search them, and plucked out my comb-case, and afterwards commanded one of his officers to search further for letters, as he pretended. I told him, I was no letter-carrier, and asked him, why he came amongst a peaceable people with swords and pistols, without a constable, contrary to the king's proclamation and to the late act? for he could not say, there was a meeting, I being only talking with a poor widow-woman and her daughter. By reasoning thus with him, he came somewhat down; yet sending for the constables, he gave them charge of us that night, and to bring us before him next morning. Accordingly the constables set a watch of the town's people upon us that night, and had us next morning to his house about a mile from Swanington. When we came before him, he told us, We met contrary to the act.' I desired him to show us the act. Why, (says he,) you have it in your pocket.' I told him, he did not find us in a meeting. Then he asked, Whether we would take the oaths of allegiance and supremacy? I told him, I never took any oath in my life, nor engagement, nor the covenant. Yet still he would force the oath upon us. Then I desired him to show us the oath, that we might see whether we were the persons it was to be tendered to, and whether it was not for the discovery of popish recusants. At length he brought a little book, but we called for the statute-book. He would not show us that, but caused a mittimus to be made, which mentioned, that we were to have had a meeting.' With this mittimus he delivered us to the constables to convey us to Leicester gaol. But when the constables had brought us back to Swanington, being harvest time, it was hard to get any body to go with us. The people were loath to take their neighbours to prison, especially in such a busy time. They would have given us our mittimus to have carried ourselves to the goal; for it had been usual for constables to give Friends their own mittimuses, and they have gone themselves with them to the gaoler. But we told them, though our friends had sometimes done so, we would not take this mittimus; but some of them should go with us to the gaol. At last they hired a poor labouring man, who was loath to go though hired. So we rode through the country to Leicester, being five in number; some carried their bibles open in their hands, declaring truth to the people as we rode in the fields and through the towns, and telling them, We were prisoners of the Lord Jesus Christ, going to suffer bonds for his name and truth's sake.' One woman
Friend carried her wheel on her lap to spin on in prison, and the people were mightily affected. At Leicester we went to an inn. The master of the house seemed to be troubled that we should go to prison; and being himself in commission, he sent for lawyers in the town to advise with, and would have taken up the mittimus, and kept us in his own. house, and not have let us gone into the gaol. But I told Friends, it would be great charge to lie at an inn, many Friends and people would come to visit us, and it might be hard for him to bear our having meetings in his house: besides, we had many Friends in the prison already, and we had rather be with them. So we let the man know we were sensible of his kindness, and to prison we went; the poor man that brought us thither delivering both the mittimus and us to the gaoler. This gaoler had been a very wicked cruel man. Six or seven Friends being in prison before we came, he had taken some occasion to quarrel with them, and had thrust them into the dungeon amongst felons, where was hardly room for them to lie down, they were so thronged. We staid all that day in the prison yard, and desired the gaoler to let us have some straw. He surlily answered, You do not look like men that would lie on straw.' After awhile William Smith came to me, and being acquainted in the house, I asked him, what rooms there were in the house, and what room Friends had been usually put in before they were put into the dungeon? I asked him also, whether the gaoler or his wife was master? he said, the wife was master; and though she was lame, and sat mostly in her chair, not being able to go but on crutches, yet she would beat her husband when he came within her reach, if he did not as she would have him. I considered that many Friends might probably come to visit us, and if we had a room to ourselves, it would be better for them to speak to me, and for me to speak to them, as there should be occasion. Wherefore, I desired William Smith to speak with the woman, and acquaint her, if she would let us have a room, suffer our Friends to come out of the dungeon, and leave it to us to give her what we would, it might be better for her. He went, and after some reasoning with her she consented; and we were had into a room. Then we were told, the gaoler would not suffer us to have any drink brought out of the town into the prison, but what beer we drank we must take of him. I told them, I would remedy that if they would; for we would get a pail of water, and a little wormwood once a day, and that might serve us; so we should have none of his beer, and the water he could not deny us. Before we came, when those few Friends that were prisoners met together on first-days, if any of them was moved to pray to the Lord, the gaoler would come up with his great quarter-staff in his hand, and his mastiff dog at his heels, and pluck them down by the hair of the head, and strike them with his staff; but when he struck Friends, the
mastiff-dog, instead of falling upon them, would take the staff out of his hand. Now when first-day came after we came in I spoke to one of my fellow-prisoners to carry down a stool, and set it in the yard, and give notice to the debtors and felons that there would be a meeting in the yard, and they that would hear the word of the Lord declared might come thither. So the prisoners gathered in the yard, and we went down and had a very precious meeting, the gaoler not meddling. Thus every first-day we had a meeting as long as we staid in prison, and several came out of the town and country. Many were convinced, and some received the Lord's truth there, who stood faithful witnesses for it ever since.
a snare to us.
When the sessions came, we were had up before the justices, with more Friends, that were sent to prison whilst we were there, to the number of about twenty. Being brought into the court the gaoler put us into the place where the thieves were, and then some of the justices began to tender the oaths of allegiance and supremacy to us. I told them, I never took any oath in my life; and they knew we could not swear, because Christ and his apostle forbade it: therefore, they put it but as We told them, if they could prove, that after Christ and the apostle had forbid swearing, they did ever command christians to swear, we would take these oaths; otherwise we were resolved to obey Christ's command and the apostle's exhortation. They said, 'We must take the oath, that we might manifest our allegiance to the king.' I told them, I had been formerly sent prisoner by colonel Hacker from that town to London, under pretence that I held meetings to plot to bring in king Charles. I also desired them to read our mittimus, which set forth the cause of our commitment to be, that we were to have a meeting;' and I said, he that was called lord Beaumont could not by that act send us to gaol, unless we had been taken at a meeting, and found to be such persons as the act speaks of; therefore, we desired they would read the mittimus, and see how wrongfully we were imprisoned. They would not take notice of the mittimus; but called a jury, and indicted us for refusing to take the oaths of allegiance and supremacy.' When the jury was sworn and instructed, as they were going out, one who had been an alderman of the city bid them, 'have a good conscience;' and one of the jury, being a peevish man, told the justices there was one affronted the jury; whereupon they called him up, and tendered him the oath also, which he took.
While we were standing where the thieves used to stand, a cut-purse had his hand in several Friends' pockets. Friends declared it to the justices and showed them the man. They called him up before them, and upon examination he could not deny it; yet they set him at liberty. It was not long before the jury returned, and brought us in guilty;
and after some words, the justices whispered together, and bid the gaoler take us to prison again; but the Lord's power was over them, and his everlasting truth, which we declared boldly amongst them. There being a great concourse of people, most of them followed us; so that the crier and bailiffs were fain to call the people back again to the court. We declared the truth as we went along the streets, till we came to the gaol, the streets being full of people. When we were in our chamber again, after some time the gaoler came to us, and desired all to go forth that were not prisoners. When they were gone, he said, Gentlemen, it is the court's pleasure that ye should all be set at liberty, except those that are in for tithes and you know there are fees due to me; but I shall leave it to you to give me what you will.'
Thus we were all set at liberty on a sudden, and passed every one into our services. Leonard Fell being come thither, went with me again to Swanington. I had a letter from him they called the lord Hastings, who hearing of my imprisonment had written from London to the justices at the sessions to set me at liberty. I had not delivered this letter to the justices; but whether they had any knowledge of his mind from any other hand, which made them discharge us so suddenly, I know not. But this letter I carried to him called the lord Beaumont, who sent us to prison; and when he had broken it open and read it, he seemed much troubled; but at last came a little lower; yet threatened us, if we had any more meetings at Swanington, he would break them up and send us to prison again. But notwithstanding his threats we went to Swanington, and had a meeting with Friends there, and he neither came nor sent to break it up.
From Swanington we came to Twy-cross, where that great man formerly mentioned, whom the Lord God raised up from his sickness in the year 1649, (whose servant-man came at me with a drawn sword to have done me a mischief,) and his wife came to see me. From thence we travelled through Warwickshire; where we had brave meetings; and into Northamptonshire, and Bedfordshire, visiting Friends till we came to London.
I staid not long in London, but went into Essex, and so to Norfolk, having great meetings. At Norwich, when I came to captain Lawrence's, there was a great threatening of disturbance; but the meeting was quiet. Passing from thence to Sutton, and so into Cambridgeshire, there I heard of Edward Burrough's deceasc. And being sensible how great a grief and exercise it would be to Friends to part with him, I wrote the following lines for the staying and settling of their minds.
FRIENDS,-Be still and quiet in your own conditions, and settled in the seed of God, that doth not change; that in that ye may feel dear