The History of Thomas Ellwood Written by Himself
by Thomas Ellwood
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Meanwhile his wife and family were turned out of his house, called the Grange, at Peter's Chalfont, by them who had seized upon his estate; and the family being by that means broken up, some went one way, others another. Mary Penington herself, with her younger children, went down to her husband at Aylesbury. Guli, with her maid, went to Bristol, to see her former maid, Anne Hersent, who was married to a merchant of that city, whose name was Thomas Biss; and I went to Aylesbury with the children, but not finding the place agreeable to my health, I soon left it, and returning to Chalfont, took a lodging, and was dieted in the house of a friendly man, and after some time went to Bristol to conduct Guli home.

Meanwhile Mary Penington took lodgings in a farmhouse called Bottrels, in the parish of Giles Chalfont, where, when we returned from Bristol, we found her.

We had been there but a very little time before I was sent to prison again upon this occasion. There was in those times a meeting once a month at the house of George Salter, a Friend, of Hedgerly, to which we sometimes went; and Morgan Watkins being with us, he and I, with Guli and her maid, and one Judith Parker, wife of Dr. Parker, one of the College of Physicians at London, with a maiden daughter of theirs, neither of whom were Quakers, but as acquaintances of Mary Penington were with her on a visit, walked over to that meeting, it being about the middle of the first month, and the weather good.

This place was about a mile from the house of Ambrose Benett, the justice who the summer before had sent me and some other Friends to Aylesbury prison from the burial of Edward Parret of Amersham; and he, by what means I know not, getting notice not only of the meeting, but, as was supposed, of our being there, came himself to it, and as he came caught up a stackwood stick, big enough to have knocked any man down, and brought it with him, hidden under his cloak.

Being come to the house, he stood for a while without the door and out of sight, listening to hear what was said, for Morgan was then speaking in the meeting. But certainly he heard very imperfectly, if it was true which we heard he said afterwards among his companions, as an argument, that Morgan was a Jesuit—viz., that in his preaching he trolled over his Latin as fluently as ever he heard any one; whereas Morgan, good man, was better versed in Welsh than in Latin, which I suppose he had never learned: I am sure he did not understand it.

When this martial Justice, who at Amersham had with his drawn sword struck an unarmed man who he knew would not strike again, had now stood some time abroad, on a sudden he rushed in among us, with the stackwood stick held up in his hand ready to strike, crying out, "Make way there;" and an ancient woman not getting soon enough out of his way, he struck her with the stick a shrewd blow over the breast. Then pressing through the crowd to the place where Morgan stood, he plucked him from thence, and caused so great a disorder in the room that it broke the meeting up; yet would not the people go away or disperse themselves, but tarried to see what the issue would be.

Then taking pen and paper, he sat down at the table among us, and asked several of us our names, which we gave, and he set down in writing.

Amongst others he asked Judith Parker, the doctor's wife, what her name was, which she readily gave; and thence taking occasion to discourse him, she so overmastered him by clear reason, delivered in fine language, that he, glad to be rid of her, struck out her name and dismissed her; yet did not she remove, but kept her place amongst us.

When he had taken what number of names he thought fit, he singled out half a dozen, whereof Morgan was one, I another, one man more, and three women, of whom the woman of the house was one, although her husband then was, and for divers years before had been, a prisoner in the Fleet for tithes, and had nobody to take care of his family and business but her his wife.

Us six he committed to Aylesbury gaol, which when the doctor's wife heard him read to the constable, she attacked him again, and having put him in mind that it was a sickly time, and that the pestilence was reported to be in that place, she in handsome terms desired him to consider in time how he would answer the cry of our blood, if by his sending us to be shut up in an infected place we should lose our lives there. This made him alter his purpose, and by a new mittimus sent us to the House of Correction at Wycombe. And although he committed us upon the Act for banishment, which limited a certain time for imprisonment, yet he in his mittimus limited no time, but ordered us to be kept till we should be delivered by due course of law; so little regardful was he, though a lawyer, of keeping to the letter of the law.

We were committed on the 13th day of the month called March, 1665, and were kept close prisoners there till the 7th day of the month called June, which was some days above twelve weeks, and much above what the Act required.

Then were we sent for to the Justice's house, and the rest being released, Morgan Watkins and I were required to find sureties for our appearance at the next assize; which we refusing to do, were committed anew to our old prison, the House of Correction at Wycombe, there to lie until the next assizes; Morgan being in this second mittimus represented as a notorious offender in preaching, and I as being upon the second conviction in order to banishment. There we lay till the 25th day of the same month, and then, by the favour of the Earl of Ancram, being brought before him at his house, we were discharged from the prison upon our promise to appear, if at liberty and in health, at the assizes; which we did, and were there discharged by proclamation.

During my imprisonment in this prison I betook myself for an employment to making of nets for kitchen-service, to boil herbs, &c., in which trade I learned of Morgan Watkins, and selling some and giving others, I pretty well stocked the Friends of that country with them.

Though in that confinement I was not very well suited with company for conversation, Morgan's natural temper not being very agreeable to mine, yet we kept a fair and brotherly correspondence, as became friends, prison-fellows, and bed-fellows, which we were. And indeed it was a good time, I think, to us all, for I found it so to me; the Lord being graciously pleased to visit my soul with the refreshing dews of his divine life, whereby my spirit was more and more quickened to Him, and truth gained ground in me over the temptations and snares of the enemy; which frequently raised in my heart thanksgivings and praises unto the Lord. And at one time more especially the sense I had of the prosperity of truth, and the spreading thereof, filling my heart with abundant joy, made my cup overflow, and the following lines drop out:-

For truth I suffer bonds, in truth I live, And unto truth this testimony give, That truth shall over all exalted be, And in dominion reign for evermore: The child's already born that this may see, Honour, praise, glory be to God therefor.

And underneath thus:

Though death and hell should against truth combine, Its glory shall through all their darkness shine.

This I saw with an eye of faith, beyond the reach of human sense; for,

As strong desire Draws objects nigher In apprehension than indeed they are; I with an eye That pierced high Did thus of truth's prosperity declare.

After we had been discharged at the assizes I returned to Isaac Penington's family at Bottrel's in Chalfont, and, as I remember, Morgan Watkins with me, leaving Isaac Penington a prisoner in Aylesbury goal.

The lodgings we had in this farmhouse (Bottrel's) proving too strait and inconvenient for the family, I took larger and better lodgings for them in Berriehouse at Amersham, whither we went at the time called Michaelmas, having spent the summer at the other place.

Some time after was that memorable meeting appointed to be held at London, through a divine opening in the motion of life, in that eminent servant and prophet of God, George Fox, for the restoring and bringing in again those who had gone out from truth, and the holy unity of Friends therein, by the means and ministry of John Perrot.

This man came pretty early amongst Friends, and too early took upon him the ministerial office; and being, though little in person, yet great in opinion of himself, nothing less would serve him than to go and convert the Pope; in order whereunto, he having a better man than himself, John Luff, to accompany him, travelled to Rome, where they had not been long ere they were taken up and clapped into prison. Luff, as I remember, was put in the Inquisition, and Perrot in their Bedlam, or hospital for madmen.

Luff died in prison, not without well-grounded suspicion of being murdered there; but Perrot lay there some time, and now and then sent over an epistle to be printed here, written in such an affected and fantastic style as might have induced an indifferent reader to believe they had suited the place of his confinement to his condition.

After some time, through the mediation of Friends (who hoped better of him than he proved) with some person of note and interest there, he was released, and came back for England. And the report of his great sufferings there (far greater in report than in reality), joined with a singular show of sanctity, so far opened the hearts of many tender and compassionate Friends towards him, that it gave him the advantage of insinuating himself into their affections and esteem, and made way for the more ready propagation of that peculiar error of his, of keeping on the hat in time of prayer as well public as private, unless they had an immediate motion at that time to put it off.

Now, although I had not the least acquaintance with this man, not having ever exchanged a word with him, though I knew him by sight, nor had I any esteem for him, for either his natural parts or ministerial gift, but rather a dislike of his aspect, preaching, and way of writing; yet this error of his being broached in the time of my infancy and weakness of judgment as to truth, while I lived privately in London and had little converse with Friends, I, amongst the many who were caught in that snare, was taken with the notion, as what then seemed to my weak understanding suitable to the doctrine of a spiritual dispensation. And the matter coming to warm debates, both in words and writing, I, in a misguided zeal, was ready to have entered the lists of contention about it, not then seeing what spirit it proceeded from and was managed by, nor foreseeing the disorder and confusion in worship which must naturally attend it.

But as I had no evil intention or sinister end in engaging in it, but was simply betrayed by the specious pretence and show of greater spirituality, the Lord, in tender compassion to my soul, was graciously pleased to open my understanding and give me a clear sight of the enemy's design in this work, and drew me off from the practice of it, and to bear testimony against it as occasion offered.

But when that solemn meeting was appointed at London for a travail in spirit on behalf of those who had thus gone out, that they might rightly return and be sensibly received into the unity of the body again, my spirit rejoiced, and with gladness of heart I went to it, as did many more of both city and country, and with great simplicity and humility of mind did honestly and openly acknowledge our outgoing, and take condemnation and shame to ourselves. And some that lived at too remote a distance in this nation as well as beyond the seas, upon notice given of that meeting and the intended service of it, did the like by writing in letters directed to and openly read in the meeting, which for that purpose was continued many days.

Thus in the motion of life were the healing waters stirred and many through the virtuous power thereof restored to soundness, and indeed not many lost. And though most of those who thus returned were such as with myself had before renounced the error and forsaken the practice, yet did we sensibly find that forsaking without confessing, in case of public scandal, was not sufficient, but that an open acknowledgment of open offences as well as forsaking them, was necessary to the obtaining complete remission.

Not long after this, George Fox was moved of the Lord to travel through the countries, from county to county, to advise and encourage Friends to set up monthly and quarterly meetings, for the better ordering the affairs of the church in taking care of the poor, and exercising a true gospel discipline for a due dealing with any that might walk disorderly under our name, and to see that such as should marry among us did act fairly and clearly in that respect.

When he came into this county I was one of the many Friends that were with him at the meeting for that purpose; and afterwards I travelled with Guli and her maid into the West of England to meet him there and to visit Friends in those parts, and we went as far as Topsham in Devonshire before we found him. He had been in Cornwall, and was then returning, and came in unexpectedly at Topsham, where we then were providing (if he had not then come thither) to have gone that day towards Cornwall. But after he was come to us we turned back with him through Devonshire, Somersetshire, and Dorsetshire, having generally very good meetings where he was; and the work he was chiefly concerned in went on very prosperously and well, without any opposition or dislike, save in that in the general meeting of Friends in Dorsetshire a quarrelsome man, who had gone out from Friends in John Perrot's business and had not come rightly in again, but continued in the practice of keeping on his hat in time of prayer, to the great trouble and offence of Friends, began to cavil and raise disputes, which occasioned some interruption and disturbance.

Not only George and Alexander Parker, who were with him, but divers of the ancient Friends of that country, endeavoured to quiet that troublesome man and make him sensible of his error, but his unruly spirit would still be opposing what was said unto him and justifying himself in that practice. This brought a great weight and exercise upon me, who sat at a distance in the outward part of the meeting, and after I had for some time bore the burden thereof, I stood up in the constraining power of the Lord, and in great tenderness of spirit declared unto the meeting, and to that person more particularly, how it had been with me in that respect, how I had been betrayed into that wrong practice, how strong I had been therein, and how the Lord had been graciously pleased to show me the evil thereof, and recover me out of it.

This coming unexpectedly from me, a young man, a stranger, and one who had not intermeddled with the business of the meeting, had that effect upon the caviller, that if it did not satisfy him, it did at least silence him, and made him for the present sink down and be still, without giving any further disturbance to the meeting. And the Friends were well pleased with this unlooked-for testimony from me, and I was glad that I had that opportunity to confess to the truth, and to acknowledge once more, in so public a manner, the mercy and goodness of the Lord to me therein.

By the time we came back from this journey the summer was pretty far gone, and the following winter I spent with the children of the family as before, without any remarkable alteration in my circumstances, until the next spring, when I found in myself a disposition of mind to change my single life for a married state.

I had always entertained so high a regard for marriage, as it was a divine institution, that I held it not lawful to make it a sort of political trade, to rise in the world by. And therefore as I could not but in my judgment blame such as I found made it their business to hunt after and endeavour to gain those who were accounted great fortunes, not so much regarding what she is as what she has, but making wealth the chief if not the only thing they aimed at; so I resolved to avoid, in my own practice, that course, and how much soever my condition might have prompted me, as well as others, to seek advantage that way, never to engage on account of riches, nor at all to marry till judicious affection drew me to it, which I now began to feel at work in my breast.

The object of this affection was a Friend whose name was Mary Ellis, whom for divers years I had had an acquaintance with, in the way of common friendship only, and in whom I thought I then saw those fair prints of truth and solid virtue which I afterwards found in a sublime degree in her; but what her condition in the world was as to estate, I was wholly a stranger to, nor desired to know.

I had once, a year or two before, had an opportunity to do her a small piece of service, which she wanted some assistance in, wherein I acted with all sincerity and freedom of mind, not expecting or desiring any advantage by her, or reward from her, being very well satisfied in the act itself that I had served a Friend and helped the helpless.

That little intercourse of common kindness between us ended without the least thought I am verily persuaded on her part, well assured on my own, of any other or further relation than that of free and fair friendship, nor did it at that time lead us into any closer conversation or more intimate acquaintance one with the other than had been before.

But some time, and that a good while after, I found my heart secretly drawn and inclining towards her, yet was I not hasty in proposing, but waited to feel a satisfactory settlement of mind therein, before I made any step thereto.

After some time I took an opportunity to open my mind therein unto my much-honoured friends Isaac and Mary Penington, who then stood parentum loco (in the place or stead of parents) to me. They having solemnly weighed the matter, expressed their unity therewith; and indeed their approbation thereof was no small confirmation to me therein. Yet took I further deliberation, often retiring in spirit to the Lord, and crying to Him for direction, before I addressed myself to her. At length, as I was sitting all alone, waiting upon the Lord for counsel and guidance in this—in itself and to me—so important affair, I felt a word sweetly arise in me, as if I had heard a voice which said, "Go, and prevail." And faith springing in my heart with the word, I immediately arose and went, nothing doubting.

When I was come to her lodgings, which were about a mile from me, her maid told me she was in her chamber, for having been under some indisposition of body, which had obliged her to keep her chamber, she had not yet left it; wherefore I desired the maid to acquaint her mistress that I was come to give her a visit, whereupon I was invited to go up to her. And after some little time spent in common conversation, feeling my spirit weightily concerned, I solemnly opened my mind unto her with respect to the particular business I came about, which I soon perceived was a great surprise to her, for she had taken in an apprehension, as others also had done, that mine eye had been fixed elsewhere and nearer home.

I used not many words to her, but I felt a divine power went along with the words, and fixed the matter expressed by them so fast in her breast, that, as she afterwards acknowledged to me, she could not shut it out.

I made at that time but a short visit, for having told her I did not expect an answer from her now, but desired she would in the most solemn manner weigh the proposal made, and in due time give me such an answer thereunto as the Lord should give her, I took my leave of her and departed, leaving the issue to the Lord.

I had a journey then at hand, which I foresaw would take me up two weeks' time. Wherefore, the day before I was to set out I went to visit her again, to acquaint her with my journey, and excuse my absence, not yet pressing her for an answer, but assuring her that I felt in myself an increase of affection to her, and hoped to receive a suitable return from her in the Lord's time, to whom in the meantime I committed both her, myself, and the concern between us. And indeed I found at my return that I could not have left it in better hands; for the Lord had been my advocate in my absence, and had so far answered all her objections that when I came to her again she rather acquainted me with them than urged them.

From that time forward we entertained each other with affectionate kindness in order to marriage, which yet we did not hasten to, but went on deliberately. Neither did I use those vulgar ways of courtship, by making frequent and rich presents, not only for that my outward condition would not comport with the expense, but because I liked not to obtain by such means, but preferred an unbribed affection.

While this affair stood thus with me, I had occasion to take another journey into Kent and Sussex, which yet I would not mention here, but for a particular accident which befell me on the way.

The occasion of this journey was this. Mary Penington's daughter Guli, intending to go to her Uncle Springett's, in Sussex, and from thence amongst her tenants, her mother desired me to accompany her, and assist her in her business with her tenants.

We tarried at London the first night, and set out next morning on the Tunbridge road, and Seven Oaks lying in our way we put in there to bait; but truly we had much ado to get either provisions or room for ourselves or our horses, the house was so filled with guests, and those not of the better sort. For the Duke of York being, as we were told, on the road that day for the Wells, divers of his guards and the meaner sort of his retinue had near filled all the inns there.

I left John Gigger, who waited on Guli in this journey and was afterwards her menial servant, to take care of the horses, while I did the like as well as I could for her. I got a little room to put her into, and having shut her into it, went to see what relief the kitchen would afford us, and with much ado, by praying hard and paying dear, I got a small joint of meat from the spit, which served rather to stay than satisfy our stomachs, for we were all pretty sharp set.

After this short repast, being weary of our quarters, we quickly mounted and took the road again, willing to hasten from a place where we found nothing but rudeness; a knot of [rude people] soon followed us, designing, as we afterwards found, to put an abuse upon us, and make themselves sport with us. We had a spot of fine smooth sandy way, whereon the horses trod so softly that we heard them not till one of them was upon us. I was then riding abreast with Guli, and discoursing with her, when on a sudden hearing a little noise, and turning mine eye that way, I saw a horseman coming up on the further side of her horse, having his left arm stretched out, just ready to take her about the waist and pluck her off backwards from her own horse to lay her before him upon his. I had but just time to thrust forth my stick between him and her, and bid him stand off, and at the same time reining my horse to let hers go before me, thrust in between her and him, and being better mounted than he my horse ran him off. But his horse being, though weaker than mine, yet nimble, he slipped by me and got up to her on the near side, endeavouring to offer abuse to her, to prevent which I thrust in upon him again, and in our jostling we drove her horse quite out of the way and almost into the next hedge.

While we were thus contending I heard a noise of loud laughter behind us, and turning my head that way I saw three or four horsemen more, who could scarce sit their horses for laughing to see the sport their companion made with us. From thence I saw it was a plot laid, and that this rude fellow was not to be dallied with; wherefore I bestirred myself the more to keep him off, admonishing him to take warning in time and give over his abusiveness, lest he repented too late. He had in his hand a short thick truncheon, which he held up at me, on which laying hold with a strong grip, I suddenly wrenched it out of his hand, and threw it at as far a distance behind me as I could.

While he rode back to fetch his truncheon, I called up honest John Gigger, who was indeed a right honest man, and of a temper so thoroughly peaceable that he had not hitherto put in at all; but now I roused him, and bade him ride so close up to his mistress's horse on the further side that no horse might thrust in between, and I would endeavour to guard the near side. But he, good man, not thinking it perhaps decent enough for him to ride so near his mistress, left room enough for another to ride between. And indeed so soon as our brute had recovered his truncheon, he came up directly thither, and had thrust in again, had not I, by a nimble turn, chopped in upon him, and kept him at bay.

I then told him I had hitherto spared him, but wished him not to provoke me further. This I spoke with such a tone as bespoke a high resentment of the abuse put upon us, and withal pressed so close upon him with my horse that I suffered him not to come up any more to Guli.

This his companions, who kept an equal distance behind us, both heard and saw, and thereupon two of them advancing, came up to us. I then thought I might likely have my hands full, but Providence turned it otherwise; for they, seeing the contest rise so high, and probably fearing it would rise higher, not knowing where it might stop, came in to part us, which they did by taking him away, one of them leading his horse by the bridle, and the other driving him on with his whip, and so carried him off.

One of their company stayed yet behind; and it so happening that a great shower just then fell, we betook ourselves for shelter to a thick and well-spread oak which stood hard by. Thither also came that other person, who wore the Duke's livery, and while we put on our defensive garments against the weather, which then set in to be wet, he took the opportunity to discourse with me about the man that had been so rude to us, endeavouring to excuse him by alleging that he had drank a little too liberally. I let him know that one vice would not excuse another; that although but one of them was actually concerned in the abuse, yet both he and the rest of them were abettors of it and accessories to it; that I was not ignorant whose livery they wore, and was well assured their lord would not maintain them in committing such outrages upon travellers on the road, to our injury and his dishonour; that I understood the Duke was coming down, and that they might expect to be called to an account for this rude action.

He then begged hard that we would pass by the offence, and make no complaint to their lord; for, he knew, he said, the Duke would be very severe, and it would be the utter ruin of the young man. When he had said what he could, he went off before us, without any ground given him to expect favour; and when we had fitted ourselves for the weather we followed after our own pace.

When we came to Tunbridge I set John Gigger foremost, bidding him lead on briskly through the town, and placing Guli in the middle, I came close up after her that I might both observe and interpose if any fresh abuse should have been offered her. We were expected, I perceived, for though it rained very hard, the street was thronged with men, who looked very earnestly on us, but did not put any affront upon us.

We had a good way to ride beyond Tunbridge and beyond the Wells, in byeways among the woods, and were the later for the hindrance we had had on the way. And when, being come to Harbert Springett's house, Guli acquainted her uncle what danger and trouble she had gone through on the way, he resented it so high that he would have had the persons prosecuted for it; but since Providence had interposed, and so well preserved and delivered her, she chose to pass by the offence.

When Guli had finished the business she went upon, we returned home, and I delivered her safe to her glad mother. From that time forward I continued my visits to my best beloved Friend until we married, which was on the 28th day of the eighth month, called October, in the year 1669. We took each other in a select meeting of the ancient and grave Friends of that country, holden in a Friend's house, where in those times not only the monthly meeting for business but the public meeting for worship was sometimes kept. A very solemn meeting it was, and in a weighty frame of spirit we were, in which we sensibly felt the Lord with us, and joining us; the sense whereof remained with us all our lifetime, and was of good service and very comfortable to us on all occasions.

My next care after marriage was to secure my wife what moneys she had, and with herself bestowed upon me; for I held it would be an abominable crime in me, and savour of the highest ingratitude, if I, though but through negligence, should leave room for my father, in case I should be taken away suddenly, to break in upon her estate, and deprive her of any part of that which had been and ought to be her own. Wherefore with the first opportunity—as I remember, the very next day, and before I knew particularly what she had—I made my will, and thereby secured to her whatever I was possessed of as well all that which she brought, either in moneys or in goods, as that little which I had before I married her; which indeed was but little, yet more by all that little than I had ever given her ground to expect with me.

She had indeed been advised by some of her relations to secure before marriage some part at least of what she had, to be at her own disposal; which, though perhaps not wholly free from some tincture of self-interest in the proposer, was not in itself the worst of counsel. But the worthiness of her mind, and the sense of the ground on which she received me, would not suffer her to entertain any suspicion of me; and this laid on me the greater obligation, in point of gratitude as well as of justice, to regard and secure her; which I did.

I had not been long married before I was solicited by my dear friends Isaac and Mary Penington, and her daughter Guli, to take a journey into Kent and Sussex to account with their tenants and overlook their estates in those counties, which before I was married I had had the care of; and accordingly the journey I undertook, though in the depth of winter.

My travels into those parts were the more irksome to me from the solitariness I underwent, and want of suitable society. For my business lying among the tenants, who were a rustic sort of people of various persuasions and humours, but not Friends, I had little opportunity of conversing with Friends, though I contrived to be with them as much as I could, especially on the first day of the week.

But that which made my present journey more heavy to me was a sorrowful exercise which was newly fallen upon me from my father.

He had, upon my first acquainting him with my inclination to marry, and to whom, not only very much approved the match, and voluntarily offered, without my either asking or expecting, to give me a handsome portion at present, with assurance of an addition to it hereafter. And he not only made this offer to me in private, but came down from London into the country on purpose, to be better acquainted with my friend, and did there make the same proposal to her; offering also to give security to any friend or relation of hers for the performance. Which offer she most generously declined, leaving him as free as she found him. But after we were married, notwithstanding such his promise, he wholly declined the performance of it, under pretence of our not being married by the priest and liturgy. This usage and evil treatment of us thereupon was a great trouble to me; and when I endeavoured to soften him in the matter, he forbade my speaking to him of it any more, and removed his lodging that I might not find him.

The grief I conceived on this occasion was not for any disappointment to myself or to my wife, for neither she nor I had any strict or necessary dependence upon that promise; but my grief was for the cause assigned by him as the ground of it, which was that our marriage was not by priest or liturgy.

And surely hard would it have been for my spirit to have borne up under the weight of this exercise, had not the Lord been exceeding gracious to me, and supported me with the inflowings of his love and life, wherewith he visited my soul in my travail. The sense whereof raised in my heart a thankful remembrance of his manifold kindnesses in his former dealings with me; and in the evening, when I came to my inn, while supper was getting ready, I took my pen and put into words what had in the day revolved in my thoughts. And thus it was


Thy love, dear Father, and thy tender care, Have in my heart begot a strong desire To celebrate Thy Name with praises rare, That others too Thy goodness may admire, And learn to yield to what Thou dost require. Many have been the trials of my mind, My exercises great, great my distress; Full oft my ruin hath my foe designed, My sorrows then my pen cannot express, Nor could the best of men afford redress. When thus beset to Thee I lift mine eye, And with a mournful heart my moan did make; How oft with eyes o'erflowing did I cry, "My God, my God, oh do me not forsake! Regard my tears! Some pity on me take!" And to the glory of Thy holy name, Eternal God, whom I both love and fear, I hereby do declare I never came Before Thy throne, and found Thee loth to hear, But always ready, with an open ear. And though sometimes Thou seem'st Thy face to hide, As one that had withdrawn Thy love from me, 'Tis that my faith may to the full be tried, And that I thereby may the better see How weak I am when not upheld by Thee. For underneath Thy holy arm I feel, Encompassing with strength as with a wall, That, if the enemy trip up my heel, Thou ready art to save me from a fall: To Thee belong thanksgivings over all. And for Thy tender love, my God, my King, My heart shall magnify Thee all my days, My tongue of Thy renown shall daily sing, My pen shall also grateful trophies raise, As monuments to Thy eternal praise.

T. E. KENT, the Eleventh Month, 1669.

Having finished my business in Kent, I struck off into Sussex, and finding the enemy endeavouring still more strongly to beset me, I betook myself to the Lord for safety, in whom I knew all help and strength was, and thus poured forth my supplication, directed


Eternal God! preserver of all those (Without respect of person or degree) Who in Thy faithfulness their trust repose, And place their confidence alone in Thee; Be Thou my succour; for Thou know'st that I On Thy protection, Lord, alone rely. Surround me, Father, with Thy mighty power, Support me daily by Thine holy arm, Preserve me faithful in the evil hour, Stretch forth Thine hand to save me from all harm. Be Thou my helmet, breast-plate, sword, and shield, And make my foes before Thy power yield. Teach me the spiritual battle so to fight, That when the enemy shall me beset, Armed cap-a-pie with the armour of Thy light, A perfect conquest o'er him I may get; And with Thy battle-axe may cleave the head Of him who bites that part whereon I tread. Then being from domestic foes set free, The cruelties of men I shall not fear; But in Thy quarrel, Lord, undaunted be, And for Thy sake the loss of all things bear; Yea, though in dungeon locked, with joy will sing An ode of praise to Thee, my God, my King.

T. E. SUSSEX, the Eleventh Month, 1669.

As soon as I had dispatched the business I went about, I returned home without delay, and to my great comfort found my wife well, and myself very welcome to her; both which I esteemed as great favours.

Towards the latter part of the summer following I went into Kent again, and in my passage through London received the unwelcome news of the loss of a very hopeful youth who had formerly been under my care for education. It was Isaac Penington, the second son of my worthy friends Isaac and Mary Penington, a child of excellent natural parts, whose great abilities bespoke him likely to be a great man, had he lived to be a man. He was designed to be bred a merchant, and before he was thought ripe enough to be entered thereunto, his parents, at somebody's request, gave leave that he might go a voyage to Barbadoes, only to spend a little time, see the place, and be somewhat acquainted with the sea, under the care and conduct of a choice friend and sailor, John Grove, of London, who was master of a vessel, and traded to that island; and a little venture he had with him, made up by divers of his friends and by me among the rest. He made the voyage thither very well, found the watery element agreeable, had his health there, liked the place, was much pleased with his entertainment there, and was returning home with his little cargo, in return for the goods he carried out, when on a sudden, through unwariness, he dropped overboard, and, the vessel being under sail with a brisk gale, was irrecoverably lost, notwithstanding the utmost labour, care, and diligence of the master and sailors to have saved him.

This unhappy accident took from the afflicted master all the pleasure of his voyage, and he mourned for the loss of this youth as if it had been his own, yea only, son; for as he was in himself a man of a worthy mind, so the boy, by his witty and handsome behaviour in general, and obsequious carriage towards him in particular, had very much wrought himself into his favour.

As for me, I thought it one of the sharpest strokes I had met with, for I both loved the child very well and had conceived great hopes of general good from him; and it pierced me the deeper to think how deeply it would pierce his afflicted parents.

Sorrow for this disaster was my companion in this journey, and I travelled the roads under great exercise of mind, revolving in my thoughts the manifold accidents which the life of man was attended with and subject to, and the great uncertainty of all human things; I could find no centre, no firm basis, for the mind of man to fix upon but the divine power and will of the Almighty. This consideration wrought in my spirit a sort of contempt of what supposed happiness or pleasure this world, or the things that are in and of it, can of themselves yield, and raised my contemplation higher; which, as it ripened and came to some degree of digestion, I breathed forth in mournful accents thus:-


Transibunt cito, quae vos mansura putatis.

Those things soon will pass away Which ye think will always stay.

What ground, alas! has any man To set his heart on things below, Which, when they seem most like to stand, Fly like an arrow from a bow? Things subject to exterior sense Are to mutation most propense. If stately houses we erect, And therein think to take delight, On what a sudden are we checked, And all our hopes made groundless quite! One little spark in ashes lays What we were building half our days. If on estate an eye we cast, And pleasure there expect to find, A secret providential blast Gives disappointment to our mind: Who now's on top ere long may feel The circling motion of the wheel. If we our tender babes embrace, And comfort hope in them to have, Alas! in what a little space Is hope, with them, laid in the grave! Whatever promiseth content Is in a moment from us rent. This world cannot afford a thing Which, to a well-composed mind, Can any lasting pleasure bring, But in its womb its grave will find. All things unto their centre tend; What had {230} beginning will have end. But is there nothing then that's sure For man to fix his heart upon - Nothing that always will endure, When all these transient things are gone? Sad state! where man, with grief oppressed Finds nought whereon his mind may rest. O yes; there is a God above, Who unto men is also nigh, On whose unalterable love We may with confidence rely, No disappointment can befall Us, having him that's All in All. If unto Him we faithful be, It is impossible to miss Of whatsoever He shall see Conducible unto our bliss. What can of pleasure him prevent Who hath the fountain of content? In Him alone if we delight, And in His precepts pleasure take, We shall be sure to do aright - 'Tis not His nature to forsake. A proper object's He alone, For man to set his heart upon.

Domino mens nixa quieta est.

The mind which upon God is stayed Shall with no trouble be dismayed.

T. E. KENT, the 4th of the Seventh Month, 1650.

A copy of the foregoing lines, enclosed in a letter of condolence, I sent by the first post into Buckinghamshire, to my dear friends the afflicted parents; and upon my return home, going to visit them, we sat down, and solemnly mixed our sorrows and tears together.

About this time, as I remember, it was that some bickerings happening between some Baptists and some of the people called Quakers, in or about High Wycombe, in Buckinghamshire, occasioned by some reflecting words a Baptist preacher had publicly uttered in one of their meetings there, against the Quakers in general, and William Penn in particular, it came at length to this issue, that a meeting for a public dispute was appointed, to be holden at West Wycombe, between Jeremy Ives, who espoused his brother's cause, and William Penn.

To this meeting, it being so near me, I went, rather to countenance the cause than for any delight I took in such work; for indeed I have rarely found the advantage equivalent to the trouble and danger arising from those contests; for which cause I would not choose them, as, being justly engaged, I would not refuse them.

The issue of this proved better than I expected; for Ives, having undertaken an ill cause, to argue against the Divine light and universal grace conferred by God on all men, when he had spent his stock of arguments which he brought with him on that subject, finding his work go on heavily and the auditory not well satisfied, stepped down from his seat and departed, with purpose to have broken up the assembly. But, except some few of his party who followed him, the people generally stayed, and were the more attentive to what was afterwards delivered amongst them; which Ives understanding, came in again, and in an angry, railing manner, expressing his dislike that we went not all away when he did, gave more disgust to the people.

After the meeting was ended, I sent to my friend Isaac Penington, by his son and servant, who returned home, though it was late, that evening, a short account of the business in the following distich:-

Praevaluit veritas: inimnici terga dedere; Nos sumus in tuto; laus tribuenda Deo.

Which may be thus Englished:

Truth hath prevailed; the enemies did fly; We are in safety; praise to God on high.

But both they and we had quickly other work found us: it soon became a stormy time. The clouds had been long gathering and threatening a tempest. The Parliament had sat some time before, and hatched that unaccountable law which was called the Conventicle Act; if that may be allowed to be called a law, by whomsoever made, which was so directly contrary to the fundamental laws of England, to common justice, equity, and right reason, as this manifestly was. For,

First, It broke down and overrun the bounds and banks anciently set for the defence and security of Englishmen's lives, liberties, and properties—viz., trial by juries; instead thereof, directing and authorizing justices of the peace, and that too privately out of sessions, to convict, fine, and by their warrants distrain upon offenders against it; directly contrary to the Great Charter.

Secondly, By that Act the informers, who swear for their own advantage, as being thereby entitled to a third part of the fines, were many times concealed, driving on an underhand private trade; so that men might be, and often were, convicted and fined, without having any notice or knowledge of it till the officers came and took away their goods, nor even then could they tell by whose evidence they were convicted; than which what could be more opposite to common justice, which requires that every man should be openly charged and have his accuser face to face, that he might both answer for himself before he be convicted, and object to the validity of the evidence given against him?

Thirdly, By that Act the innocent were punished for the offences of the guilty. If the wife or child was convicted of having been at one of those assemblies which by that Act was adjudged unlawful, the fine was levied on the goods of the husband or father of such wife or child, though he was neither present at such assembly, nor was of the same religious persuasion that they were of, but perhaps an enemy to it.

Fourthly, It was left in the arbitrary pleasure of the justices to lay half the fine for the house or ground where such assembly was holden, and half the fine for a pretended unknown preacher, and the whole fines of such and so many of the meeters as they should account poor, upon any other or others of the people who were present at the same meeting, not exceeding a certain limited sum; without any regard to equity or reason. And yet, such blindness doth the spirit of persecution bring on men, otherwise sharp-sighted enough, that this unlawful, unjust, unequal, unreasonable, and unrighteous law took place in almost all places, and was rigorously prosecuted against the meetings of Dissenters in general, though the brunt of the storm fell most sharply on the people called Quakers; not that it seemed to be more particularly levelled at them, but that they stood more fair, steady, and open, as a butt to receive all the shot that came, while some others found means and freedom to retire to coverts for shelter.

No sooner had the bishops obtained this law for suppressing all other meetings but their own, but some of the clergy of most ranks, and some others too who were overmuch bigoted to that party, bestirred themselves with might and main to find out and encourage the most profligate wretches to turn informers, and to get such persons into parochial offices as would be most obsequious to their commands, and ready at their beck to put it into the most rigorous execution. Yet it took not alike in all places, but some were forwarder in the work than others, according as the agents intended to be chiefly employed therein had been predisposed thereunto.

For in some parts of the nation care had been timely taken, by some not of the lowest rank, to choose out some particular persons—men of sharp wit, close countenances, pliant tempers, and deep dissimulation—and send them forth among the sectaries, so called, with instructions to thrust themselves into all societies, conform to all or any sort of religious profession, Proteus-like change their shapes, and transform themselves from one religious appearance to another as occasion should require. In a word, to be all things to all—not that they might win some, but that they might, if possible, ruin all; at least many.

The drift of this design was, that they who employed them might by this means get a full account what number of Dissenters' meetings, of every sort, there were in each county, and where kept; what number of persons frequented them, and of what rank; who amongst them were persons of estate, and where they lived; that when they should afterwards have troubled the waters, they might the better know where with most advantage to cast their nets.

He of these emissaries whose post was assigned him in this county of Bucks adventured to thrust himself upon a Friend under the counterfeit appearance or a Quaker, but being by the Friend suspected, and thereupon dismissed unentertained, he was forced to betake himself to an inn or alehouse for accommodation. Long he had not been there ere his unruly nature, not to be long kept under by the curb of a feigned society, broke forth into open profaneness; so true is that of the poet,

Naturam expellas furca licet, usque recurret.

To fuddling now falls he with those whom he found tippling there before, and who but he amongst them in him was then made good the proverb, in vino veritas, for in his cups he out with that which was no doubt to have been kept a secret. 'Twas to his pot companions that, after his head was somewhat heated with strong liquors, he discovered that he was sent forth by Dr. Mew, the then Vice- Chancellor of Oxford, on the design before related, and under the protection of Justice Morton, a warrant under whose hand and seal he there produced.

Sensible of his error too late, when sleep had restored him to some degree of sense, and discouraged with this ill success of his attempt upon the Quakers, he quickly left that place, and crossing through the country, cast himself among the Baptists at a meeting which they held in a private place, of which the over-easy credulity of some that went among them, whom he had craftily insinuated himself into, had given him notice. The entertainment he found amongst them deserved a better return than he made them; for, having smoothly wrought himself into their good opinion, and cunningly drawn some of them into an unwary openness and freedom of conversation with him upon the unpleasing subject of the severity of those times, he most villainously impeached one of them, whose name was —- Headach, a man well reputed amongst his neighbours, of having spoken treasonable words, and thereby brought the man in danger of losing both his estate and life, had not a seasonable discovery of his abominable practices elsewhere, imprinting terror, the effect of guilt, upon him, caused him to fly both out of the court and country at that very instant of time when the honest man stood at the bar ready to be arraigned upon his false accusation.

This his false charge against the Baptist left him no further room to play the hypocrite in those parts; off therefore go his cloak and vizor. And now he openly appears in his proper colours, to disturb the assemblies of God's people, which was indeed the very end for which the design at first was laid.

But because the law provided that a conviction must be grounded upon the oaths of two witnesses, it was needful for him, in order to the carrying on his intended mischief, to find out an associate who might be both sordid enough for such an employment and vicious enough to be his companion.

This was not an easy task, yet he found out one who had already given an experiment of his readiness to take other men's goods, being not long before released out of Aylesbury gaol, where he very narrowly escaped the gallows for having stolen a cow.

The names of these fellows being yet unknown in that part of the country where they began their work, the former, by the general voice of the country, was called the Trepan; the latter, the Informer, and from the colour of his hair Red-hair. But in a little time the Trepan called himself John Poulter, adding withal that Judge Morton used to call him John for the King, and that the Archbishop of Canterbury had given him a deaconry. That his name was indeed John Poulter, the reputed son of one —- Poulter, a butcher in Salisbury, and that he had long since been there branded for a fellow egregiously wicked and debauched, we were assured by the testimony of a young man then living in Amersham, who both was his countryman and had known him in Salisbury, as well as by a letter from an inhabitant of that place, to whom his course of life had been well known.

His comrade, who for some time was only called the Informer, was named Ralph Lacy, of Risborough, and surnamed the Cow-stealer.

These agreed between themselves where to make their first onset, which was to be, and was, on the meeting of the people called Quakers, then holden at the house of William Russell, called Jourdan's, in the parish of Giles Chalfont, in the county of Bucks; that which was wanting to their accommodation was a place of harbour, for assistance wherein recourse was had to Parson Philips, none being so ready, none so willing, none so able to help them as he.

A friend he had in a corner, a widow woman, not long before one of his parishioners; her name was Anne Dell, and at that time she lived at a farm called Whites, a bye-place in the parish of Beaconsfield, whither she removed from Hitchindon. To her these fellows were recommended by her old friend the parson. She with all readiness received them; her house was at all times open to them; what she had was at their command.

Two sons she had at home with her, both at man's estate. The younger son, whose name was John Dell, listed himself in the service of his mother's new guests, to attend on them as their guide, and to inform them (who were too much strangers to pretend to know the names of any of the persons there) whom they should inform against.

Thus consorted, thus in a triple league confederated, on the 24th day of the fifth month, commonly called July, in the year 1670, they appeared openly, and began to act their intended tragedy upon the Quakers' meeting at the place aforesaid, to which I belonged, and at which I was present. Here the chief actor, Poulter, behaved himself with such impetuous violence and brutish rudeness as gave occasion for inquiry who or what he was? And being soon discovered to be the Trepan, so infamous and abhorred by all sober people, and afterwards daily detected of gross impieties and the felonious taking of certain goods from one of Brainford, whom also he cheated of money— these things raising an outcry in the country upon him, made him consult his own safety, and leaving his part to be acted by others, quitted the country as soon as he could.

He being gone, Satan soon supplied his place by sending one Richard Aris, a broken ironmonger of Wycombe, to join with Lacy in this service, prompted thereto in hopes that he might thereby repair his broken fortune.

Of this new adventurer this single character may serve, whereby the reader may make judgment of him as of the lion by his paw; that at the sessions held at Wycombe in October then last past he was openly accused of having enticed one Harding, of the same town, to be his companion and associate in robbing on the highway, and proof offered to be made that he had made bullets in order to that service; which charge Harding himself, whom he had endeavoured to draw into that heinous wickedness, was ready in court to prove upon oath had not the prosecution been discountenanced and smothered.

Lacy, the cow-stealer, having thus got Aris, the intended highwayman, to be his comrade, they came on the 21st of the month called August, 1670, to the meeting of the people called Quakers, where Lacy, with Poulter, had been a month before; and taking for granted that the same who had been there before were there then, they went to a justice of the peace called Sir Thomas Clayton, and swore at all adventure against one Thomas Zachary and his wife, whom Lacy understood to have been there the month before, that they were then present in that meeting; whereas neither the said Thomas Zachary nor his wife were at that meeting, but were both of them at London, above twenty miles distant, all that day, having been there some time before and after; which notwithstanding, upon this false oath of these false men, the Justice laid fines upon the said Thomas Zachary of 10 pounds for his own offence, 10 pounds for his wife's, and 10 pounds for the offence of a pretended preacher, though indeed there was not any that preached at that meeting that day; and issued forth his warrant to the officers of Beaconsfield, where Thomas Zachary dwelt, for the levying of the same upon his goods.

I mention these things thus particularly, though not an immediate suffering of my own, because in the consequence thereof it occasioned no small trouble and exercise to me.

For when Thomas Zachary, returning home from London, understanding what had been done against him, and advising what to do, was informed by a neighbouring attorney that his remedy lay in appealing from the judgment of the convicting Justice to the general Quarter Sessions of the Peace, he thereupon ordering the said attorney to draw up his appeal in form of law, went himself with it, and tendered it to the Justice. But the Justice being a man neither well principled nor well natured, and uneasy that he should lose the advantage both of the present conviction and future service of such (in his judgment) useful men as those two bold informers were likely to be, fell sharply upon Thomas Zachary, charging him that he suffered justly, and that his suffering was not on a religious account.

This rough and unjust dealing engaged the good man to enter into further discourse with the Justice in defence of his own innocency; from which discourse the insidious Justice, taking offence at some expression of his, charged him with saying, "The righteous are oppressed, and the wicked go unpunished." Which the Justice interpreting to be a reflection on the Government, and calling it a high misdemeanour, required sureties of the good man to answer it at the next Quarter Sessions, and in the meantime to be bound to his good behaviour. But he, well knowing himself to be innocent of having broken any law, or done in this matter any evil, could not answer the Justice's unjust demand, and therefore was sent forthwith a prisoner to the county gaol.

By this severity it was thought the Justice designed not only to wreak his displeasure on this good man, but to prevent the further prosecution of his appeal; whereby he should at once both oppress the righteous by the levying of the fines unduly imposed upon him, and secure the informers from a conviction of wilful perjury and the punishment due therefor, that so they might go on without control in the wicked work they were engaged in.

But so great wickedness was not to be suffered to go unpunished, or at least undiscovered. Wherefore, although no way could be found at present to get the good man released from his unjust imprisonment, yet that his restraint might not hinder the prosecution of his appeal, on which the detection of the informer's villainy depended, consideration being had thereof amongst some Friends, the management of the prosecution was committed to my care, who was thought with respect at least to leisure and disengagement from other business, most fit to attend it; and very willingly I undertook it.

Wherefore at the next general Quarter Sessions of the Peace, held at High Wycombe in October following, I took care that four substantial witnesses, citizens of unquestionable credit, should come down from London in a coach and four horses, hired on purpose.

These gave so punctual and full evidence that Thomas Zachary and his wife were in London all that day whereon the informers had sworn them to have been at an unlawful meeting, at a place more than twenty miles distant from London, that notwithstanding what endeavours were used to the contrary, the jury found them not guilty. Whereupon the money deposited for the fines at the entering of the appeal ought to have been returned, and so were ten pounds of it; but the rest of the money being in the hand of the Clerk of the Peace, whose name was Wells, could never be got out again.

Thomas Zachary himself was brought from Aylesbury gaol to Wycombe, to receive his trial, and though no evil could be charged upon him, yet Justice Clayton, who at first committed him, displeased to see the appeal prosecuted and the conviction he had made set aside, by importunity prevailed with the bench to remand him to prison again, there to lie until another sessions.

While this was doing I got an indictment drawn up against the informers Aris and Lacy for wilful perjury, and caused it to be delivered to the grand jury, who found the bill. And although the court adjourned from the town-hall to the chamber at their inn, in favour as it was thought to the informers, on supposition we would not pursue them thither, yet thither they were pursued; and there being two counsel present from Windsor—(the name of the one was Starky, and of the other, as I remember, Forster, the former of whom I had before retained upon the trial of the appeal)—I now retained them both, and sent them into court again, to prosecute the informers upon this indictment; which they did so smartly that, the informers being present as not suspecting any such sudden danger, were of necessity called to the bar and arraigned, and having pleaded NOT GUILTY, were forced to enter a traverse to avoid a present commitment: all the favour the court could show them being to take them bail one for the other, though probably both not worth a groat, else they must have gone to gaol for want of bail, which would have put them besides their business, spoiled the informing trade, and broke the design; whereas now they were turned loose again to do what mischief they could until the next sessions.

Accordingly, they did what they could, and yet could make little or no earnings at it; for this little step of prosecution had made them so known, and their late apparent perjury had made them so detestable, that even the common sort of bad men shunned them, and would not willingly yield them any assistance.

The next Quarter Sessions was held at Aylesbury, whither we were fain to bring down our witnesses again from London, in like manner and at like charge, at the least, as before. And though I met with great discouragements in the prosecution, yet I followed it so vigorously that I got a verdict against the informers for wilful perjury, and had forthwith taken them up, had not they forthwith fled from justice and hid themselves. However, I moved by my attorney for an order of court, directed to all mayors, bailiffs, high constables, petty constables, and other inferior officers of the peace, to arrest and take them up wherever they should be found within the county of Bucks, and bring them to the county gaol.

The report of this so terrified them, that of all things dreading the misery of lying in a gaol, out of which they could not hope for deliverance otherwise than by at least the loss of their ears, they, hopeless now of carrying on their informing trade, disjoined, and one of them (Aris) fled the country; so that he appeared no more in this country. The other (Lacy) lurked privily for a while in woods and bye-places, until hunger and want forced him out; and then casting himself upon a hazardous adventure, which yet was the best, and proved to him best course he could have taken, he went directly to the gaol where he knew the innocent man suffered imprisonment by his means and for his sake; where asking for and being brought to Thomas Zachary, he cast himself on his knees at his feet, and with appearance of sorrow confessing his fault, did so earnestly beg for forgiveness that he wrought upon the tender nature of that very good man, not only to put him in hopes of mercy, but to be his advocate by letter to me, to mitigate at least, if not wholly to remit, the prosecution. To which I so far only consented as to let him know I would suspend the execution of the warrant upon him according as he behaved himself, or until he gave fresh provocation; at which message the fellow was so overjoyed that, relying with confidence thereon, he returned openly to his family and labour, and applied himself to business, as his neighbours observed and reported, with greater diligence and industry than he had ever done before.

Thus began and thus ended the informing trade in these parts of the county of Bucks; the ill success these first informers found discouraging all others, how vile soever, from attempting the like enterprise there ever after. And though it cost some money to carry on the prosecution, and some pains too, yet for every shilling so spent a pound probably might be saved of what in all likelihood would have been lost by the spoil and havoc that might have been made by distresses taken on their informations.

But so angry was the convicting Justice, whatever others of the same rank were, at this prosecution, and the loss thereby of the service of those honest men, the perjured informers—for, as I heard an attorney (one Hitchcock, of Aylesbury, who was their advocate in court) say, "A great lord, a peer of the realm, called them so in a letter directed to him; whereby he recommended to him the care and defence of them and their cause"—that he prevailed to have the oath of allegiance tendered in court to Thomas Zachary, which he knew he would not take because he could not take any oath at all; by which snare he was kept in prison a long time after, and, so far as I remember, until a general pardon released him.

But though it pleased the Divine Providence, which sometimes vouchsafeth to bring good out of evil, to put a stop, in a great measure at least, to the prosecution here begun, yet in other parts, both of the city and country, it was carried on with very great severity and rigour; the worst of men for the most part being set up for informers; the worst of magistrates encouraging and abetting them; and the worst of the priests who first began to blow the fire, now seeing how it took, spread, and blazed, clapping their hands, and hallooing them on to this evil work.

The sense whereof, as it deeply affected my heart with a sympathizing pity for the oppressed sufferers, so it raised in my spirit a holy disdain and contempt of that spirit and its agent by which this ungodly work was stirred up and carried on; which at length broke forth in an expostulatory poem, under the title of "Gigantomachia" (the Wars of the Giants against Heaven), not without some allusion to the second Psalm; thus:-

Why do the heathen in a brutish rage, Themselves against the Lord of Hosts engage? Why do the frantic people entertain Their thoughts upon a thing that is so vain? Why do the kings themselves together set? And why do all the princes them abet? Why do the rulers to each other speak After this foolish manner, "Let us break Their bonds asunder; come, let us make haste, With joint consent, their cords from us to cast?" Why do they thus join hands, and counsel take Against the Lord's Anointed? This will make Him doubtless laugh who doth in heaven sit; The Lord will have them in contempt for it. His sore displeasure on them He will wreak, And in His wrath will He unto them speak. For on His holy hill of Sion He His king hath set to reign: sceptres must be Cast down before Him; diadems must lie At foot of Him who sits in majesty Upon His throne of glory; whence He will Send forth His fiery ministers to kill All those His enemies who would not be Subject to His supreme authority. Where then will ye appear who are so far From being subjects that ye rebels are Against His holy government, and strive Others from their allegiance too to drive? What earthly prince such an affront would bear From any of his subjects, should they dare So to encroach on his prerogative? Which of them would permit that man to live? What should it be adjudged but treason? and Death he must suffer for it out of hand. And shall the King of kings such treason see Acted against Him, and the traitors be Acquitted? No: vengeance is His, and they That Him provoke shall know He will repay. And of a truth provoked He hath been In a high manner by this daring sin Of usurpation, and of tyranny Over men's consciences, which should be free To serve the living God as He requires, And as His Holy Spirit them inspires. For conscience is an inward thing, and none Can govern that aright but God alone. Nor can a well-informed conscience lower Her sails to any temporary power, Or bow to men's decrees; for that would be Treason in a superlative degree; For God alone can laws to conscience give, And that's a badge of His prerogative. This is the controversy of this day Between the holy God and sinful clay. God hath throughout the earth proclaim'd that He Will over conscience hold the sovereignty, That He the kingdom to Himself will take, And in man's heart His residence will make, From whence His subjects shall such laws receive As please His Royal Majesty to give. Man heeds not this, but most audaciously Says, "Unto me belongs supremacy; And all men's consciences within my land, Ought to be subject unto my command." God by His Holy Spirit doth direct His people how to worship; and expect Obedience from them. Man says: "I ordain, That none shall worship in that way, on pain Of prison, confiscation, banishment, Or being to the stake or gallows sent. God out of Babylon doth people call, Commands them to forsake her ways, and all Her several sorts of worship, to deny Her whole religion as idolatry. Will man thus his usurped power forego, And lose his ill-got government? Oh no: But out comes his enacted, be it "That all Who when the organs play will not downfall Before this golden image, and adore What I have caused to be set up therefor, Into the fiery furnace shall be cast, And be consumed with a flaming blast. Or in the mildest terms conform, or pay So much a month or so much every day, Which we will levy on you by distress, Sparing nor widow nor the fatherless; And if you have not what will satisfy, Ye're like in prison during life to lie." Christ says, swear not; but man says, "Swear [or lie] In prison, premunired, until you die." Man's ways are, in a word, as opposite To God's as midnight darkness is to light; And yet fond man doth strive with might and main By penal laws God's people to constrain To worship what, when, where, how he thinks fit, And to whatever he enjoins, submit. What will the issue of this contest be? Which must give place—the Lord's or man's decree? Will man be in the day of battle found Able to keep the field, maintain his ground, Against the mighty God? No more than can The lightest chaff before the winnowing fan; No more than straw could stand before the flame, Or smallest atoms when a whirlwind came. The Lord, who in creation only said, "Let us make man," and forthwith man was made, Can in a moment by one blast of breath Strike all mankind with an eternal death. How soon can God all man's devices squash, And with His iron rod in pieces dash Him, like a potter's vessel? None can stand Against the mighty power of His hand. Be therefore wise, ye kings, instructed be, Ye rulers of the earth, and henceforth see Ye serve the Lord in fear, and stand in awe Of sinning any more against His law, His royal law of liberty: to do To others as you'd have them do to you. Oh stoop, ye mighty monarchs, and let none Reject His government, but kiss the Son While's wrath is but a little kindled, lest His anger burn, and you that have transgressed His law so oft, and would not Him obey, Eternally should perish from the way - The way of God's salvation, where the just Are blessed who in the Lord do put their trust.

Felix quem faciunt aliena pericula cautum.

Happy's he Whom others' harms do wary make to be.

As the unreasonable rage and furious violence of the persecutors had drawn the former expostulation from me, so in a while after, my heart being deeply affected with a sense of the great loving- kindness and tender goodness of the Lord to his people, in bearing up their spirits in their greatest exercises, and preserving them through the sharpest trials in a faithful testimony to his blessed truth, and opening in due time a door of deliverance to them, I could not forbear to celebrate His praises in the following lines, under the title of -


Had not the Lord been on our side, May Israel now say, We were not able to abide The trials of that day When men did up against us rise, With fury, rage, and spite, Hoping to catch us by surprise, Or run us down by might. Then had not God for us arose, And shown His mighty power, We had been swallowed by our foes, Who waited to devour. When the joint powers of death and hell Against us did combine, And with united forces fell Upon us, with design To root us out, then had not God Appeared to take our part, And them chastized with His rod, And made them feel the smart, We then had overwhelmed been And trodden in the mire; Our enemies on us had seen Their cruel hearts' desire. When stoned, when stocked, when rudely stripped, Some to the waist have been (Without regard of sex), and whipped, Until the blood did spin; Yea, when their skins with stripes looked black, Their flesh to jelly beat, Enough to make their sinews crack, The lashes were so great; Then had not God been with them to Support them, they had died, His power it was that bore them through, Nothing could do't beside. When into prisons we were thronged (Where pestilence was rife) By bloody-minded men that longed To take away our life; Then had not God been with us, we Had perished there no doubt 'Twas He preserved us there, and He It was that brought us out. When sentenced to banishment Inhumanly we were, To be from native country sent, From all that men call dear; Then had not God been pleased t' appear, And take our cause in hand, And struck them with a panic fear, Which put them to a stand: Nay, had He not great judgments sent, And compassed them about, They were at that time fully bent To root us wholly out. Had He not gone with them that went, The seas had been their graves Or when they came where they were sent, They had been sold for slaves. But God was pleased still to give Them favour where they came, And in His truth they yet do live To praise His Holy Name. And now afresh do men contrive Another wicked way Of our estates us to deprive, And take our goods away. But will the Lord (who to this day Our part did always take) Now leave us to be made a prey, And that too for His sake? Can any one who calls to mind Deliverances past, Discouraged be at what's behind, And murmur now at last? Oh that no unbelieving heart Among us may be found, That from the Lord would now depart, And coward-like give ground. For without doubt the God we serve Will still our cause defend, If we from Him do never swerve, But trust Him to the end. What if our goods by violence From us be torn, and we Of all things but our innocence Should wholly stripped be? Would this be more than did befall Good Job? Nay sure, much less: He lost estate, children and all, Yet he the Lord did bless. But did not God his stock augment Double what 'twas before? And this was writ to the intent That we should hope the more. View but the lilies of the field, That neither knit nor spin, Who is it that to them doth yield The robes they are decked in Doth not the Lord the ravens feed, And for the sparrows care? And will not He for His own seed All needful things prepare? The lions shall sharp hunger bear, And pine for lack of food; But who the Lord do truly fear, Shall nothing want that's good. Oh! which of us can now diffide That God will us defend, Who hath been always on our side, And will be to the end.

Spes confisa Deo nunquam confusa recedet.

Hope which on God is firmly grounded Will never fail, nor be confounded.

Scarce was the before-mentioned storm of outward persecution from the Government blown over when Satan raised another storm of another kind against us on this occasion. The foregoing storm of persecution, as it lasted long, so in many parts of the nation, and particularly at London, it fell very sharp and violent especially on the Quakers. For they having no refuge but God alone to fly unto, could not dodge and shift to avoid the suffering as others of other denominations could, and in their worldly wisdom and policy did, altering their meetings with respect both to place and time, and forbearing to meet when forbidden or kept out of their meeting- houses. So that of the several sorts of Dissenters the Quakers only held up a public testimony as a standard or ensign of religion, by keeping their meetings duly and fully at the accustomed times and places so long as they were suffered to enjoy the use of their meeting-houses, and when they were shut up and Friends kept out of them by force, they assembled in the streets as near to their meeting-houses as they could.

This bold and truly Christian behaviour in the Quakers disturbed and not a little displeased the persecutors, who, fretting, complained that the stubborn Quakers broke their strength and bore off the blow from those other Dissenters whom, as they most feared, so they principally aimed at. For indeed the Quakers they rather despised than feared, as being a people from whose peaceable principles and practices they held themselves secure from danger; whereas having suffered severely, and that lately too, by and under the other Dissenters, they thought they had just cause to be apprehensive of danger from them, and good reason to suppress them.

On the other hand, the more ingenuous amongst other Dissenters of each denomination, sensible of the ease they enjoyed by our bold and steady suffering, which abated the heat of the persecutors and blunted the edge of the sword before it came to them, frankly acknowledged the benefit received; calling us the bulwark that kept off the force of the stroke from them, and praying that we might be preserved and enabled to break the strength of the enemy, nor could some of them forbear, those especially who were called Baptists, to express their kind and favourable opinion of us, and of the principles we professed, which emboldened us to go through that which but to hear of was a terror to them.

This their good-will raised ill-will in some of their teachers against us, who though willing to reap the advantage of a shelter, by a retreat behind us during the time that the storm lasted, yet partly through an evil emulation, partly through fear lest they should lose some of those members of their society who had discovered such favourable thoughts of our principles and us, they set themselves as soon as the storm was over to represent us in as ugly a dress and in as frightful figure to the world as they could invent and put upon us.

In order whereunto, one Thomas Hicks, a preacher among the Baptists at London, took upon him to write several pamphlets successively under the title of "A Dialogue between a Christian and a Quaker," which were so craftily contrived that the unwary reader might conclude them to be not merely fictions, but real discourses actually held between one of the people called a Quaker and some other person. In these feigned dialogues, Hicks, having no regard to justice or common honesty, had made his counterfeit Quaker say whatsoever he thought would render him one while sufficiently erroneous, another while ridiculous enough, forging in the Quaker's name some things so abominably false, other things so intolerably foolish, as could not reasonably be supposed to have come into the conceit, much less to have dropped from the lip or pen of any that went under the name of a Quaker.

These dialogues, shall I call them, or rather diabologues, were answered by our friend William Penn in two books; the first being entitled "Reason against Railing," the other "The Counterfeit Christian Detected;" in which Hicks being charged with manifest as well as manifold forgeries, perversions, downright lies, and slanders against the people called Quakers in general, William Penn, George Whitehead, and divers others by name, complaint was made, by way of an appeal, to the Baptists in and about London for justice against Thomas Hicks.

Those Baptists, who it seems were in the plot with Hicks to defame at any rate, right or wrong, the people called Quakers, taking advantage of the absence of William Penn and George Whitehead, who were the persons most immediately concerned, and who were then gone a long journey on the service of truth, to be absent from the city, in all probability, for a considerable time, appointed a public meeting in one of their meeting-houses, under pretence of calling Thomas Hicks to account and hearing the charge made good against him, but with design to give the greater stroke to the Quakers, when they, who should make good the charge against Hicks, could not be present. For upon their sending notice to the lodgings of William Penn and George Whitehead of their intended meeting, they were told by several Friends that both William Penn and George Whitehead were from home, travelling in the countries, uncertain where, and therefore could not be informed of their intended meeting, either by letter or express, within the time by them limited, for which reason they were desired to defer the meeting till they could have notice of it and time to return, that they might be at it. But these Baptists, whose design was otherwise laid, would not be prevailed with to defer their meeting, but, glad of the advantage, gave their brother Hicks opportunity to make a colourable defence where he had his party to help him and none to oppose him; and having made a mock show of examining him and his works of darkness, they, in fine, having heard one side, acquitted him.

This gave just occasion for a new complaint and demand of justice against him and them. For as soon as William Penn returned to London, he in print exhibited his complaint of this unfair dealing, and demanded justice by a rehearing of the matter in a public meeting to be appointed by joint agreement. This went hardly down with the Baptists, nor could it be obtained from them without great importunity and hard pressing. At length, after many delays and tricks used to shift it off, constrained by necessity, they yielded to have a meeting at their own meeting-house in Barbican, London.

There, amongst other Friends, was I, and undertook to read our charge there against Thomas Hicks, which not without much difficulty I did; they, inasmuch as the house was theirs, putting all the inconveniences they could upon us.

The particular passages and management of this meeting, as also of that other which followed soon after, they refusing to give us any other public meeting, we were fain to appoint in our own meeting- house, by Wheeler Street, near Spitalfields, London, and gave them timely notice of, I forbear here to mention; there being in print a narrative of each, to which for particular information I refer the reader.

But to this meeting Thomas Hicks would not come, but lodged himself at an alehouse hard by; yet sent his brother Ives, with some others of the party, by clamorous noises to divert us from the prosecution of our charge against him; which they so effectually performed that they would not suffer the charge to be heard, though often attempted to be read.

As this rude behaviour of theirs was a cause of grief to me, so afterwards, when I understood that they used all evasive tricks to avoid another meeting with us, and refused to do us right, my spirit was greatly stirred at their injustice, and in the sense thereof, willing, if possible, to have provoked them to more fair and manly dealing. I let fly a broadside at them, in a single sheet of paper, under the title of "A Fresh Pursuit"; in which, having restated the controversy between them and us, and reinforced our charge of forgery, &c., against Thomas Hicks and his abettors, I offered a fair challenge to them, not only to Thomas Hicks himself, but to all those his compurgators who had before undertaken to acquit him from our charge, together with their companion Jeremy Ives, to give me a fair and public meeting, in which I would make good our charge against him as principal, and all the rest of them as accessories. But nothing could provoke them to come fairly forth.

Yet not long after, finding themselves galled by the narrative lately published of what had passed in the last meeting near Wheeler Street, they, to help themselves if they could, sent forth a counter-account of that meeting and of the former at Barbican, as much to the advantage of their own cause as they upon deliberate consideration could contrive it. This was published by Thomas Plant, a Baptist teacher, and one of Thomas Hicks' former compurgators, and bore (but falsely) the title of "A Contest for Christianity; or, a Faithful Relation of two late Meetings," &c.

To this I quickly wrote and published an answer; and because I saw the design and whole drift of the Baptists was to shroud Thomas Hicks from our charge of forgery under the specious pretence of his and their standing up and contending for Christianity, I gave my book this general title: "Forgery no Christianity; or, a Brief Examen of a late Book," &c. And having from their own book plainly convicted that which they called a "faithful relation" to be indeed a false relation, I, in an expostulatory postscript to the Baptists, reinforced our charge and my former challenge, offering to make it good against them before a public and free auditory. But they were too wary to appear further, either in person or in print.

This was the end of that controversy, which was observed to have this issue: that what those dialogues were written to prevent was by the dialogues, and their unfair, unmanly, unchristian carriage, in endeavouring to defend them, hastened and brought to pass; for not a few of the Baptists' members upon this occasion left their meetings and society, and came over to the Quakers' meetings and were joined in fellowship with them; thanks be to God.

The controversy which had been raised by those cavilling Baptists had not been long ended before another was raised by an Episcopal priest in Lincolnshire, who fearing, as it seemed, to lose some of his hearers to the Quakers, wrote a book which he miscalled, "A Friendly Conference between a Minister and a Parishioner of his inclining to Quakerism," in which he misstated and greatly perverted the Quakers' principles, that he might thereby beget in his parishioners an aversion to them; and that he might abuse us the more securely, he concealed himself, sending forth his book without a name.

This book coming to my hand, became my concern (after I had read it, and considered the evil management and worse design thereof) to answer it; which I did in a treatise called "Truth Prevailing, and Detecting Error," published in the year 1676.

My answer I divided, according to the several subjects handled in the conference, into divers distinct chapters, the last of which treated of Tithes.

This being the priests' Delilah, and that chapter of mine pinching them, it seems, in a tender part, the belly, they laid their heads together, and with what speed they could sent forth a distinct reply to the last chapter, "Of Tithes," in mine, under the title of "The Right of Tithes Asserted and Proved." This also came forth without a name, yet pretended to be written by another hand.

Before I had finished my rejoinder to this came forth another called "A Vindication of the Friendly Conference," said to be written by the author of the "Feigned Conference," who was not yet willing to trust the world with his name. So much of it as related to the subject I was then upon (Tithes) I took into my rejoinder to the "Right of Tithes," which I published in the year 1678, with this title: "The Foundation of Tithes Shaken," &c.

After this it was a pretty while before I heard from either of them again. But at length came forth a reply to my last, supposed to be written by the same hand who had before written "The Right of Tithes Asserted," &c., but still without a name. This latter book had more of art than argument in it. It was indeed a hash of ill-cooked cram set off with as much flourish as the author was master of, and swelled into bulk by many quotations; but those so wretchedly misgiven, misapplied, or perverted, that to a judicious and impartial reader I durst oppose my "Foundation of Tithes Shaken" to the utmost force that book has in it. Yet it coming forth at a time when I was pretty well at leisure, I intended a full refutation thereof, and in order thereunto had written between forty and fifty sheets, when other business, more urgent, intervening, took me off, and detained me from it so long that it was then judged out of season, and so it was laid aside.

Hitherto the war I had been engaged in was in a sort foreign, with people of other religious persuasions, such as were open and avowed enemies; but now another sort of war arose, an intestine war, raised by some among ourselves—such as had once been of us, and yet retained the same profession, and would have been thought to be of us still; but having through ill-grounded jealousies let in discontents, and thereupon fallen into jangling, chiefly about church discipline, they at length broke forth into an open schism, headed by two Northern men of name and note, John Wilkinson and John Story; the latter of whom, as being the most active and popular man, having gained a considerable interest in the West, carried the controversy with him thither, and there spreading it, drew many, too many, to abet him therein.

Among those, William Rogers, a merchant of Bristol, was not the least, nor least accounted of by himself and some others. He was a bold and active man, moderately learned, but immoderately conceited of his own parts and abilities, which made him forward to engage, as thinking none would dare to take up the gauntlet he should cast down. This high opinion of himself made him rather a troublesome than formidable enemy.

That I may here step over the various steps by which he advanced to open hostility, as what I was not actually or personally engaged in: He in a while arrived to that height of folly and wickedness that he wrote and published a large book, in five parts, to which he maliciously gave for a title, "The Christian Quaker distinguished from the Apostate and Innovator," thereby arrogating to himself and those who were of his party the topping style of Christian Quaker, and no less impiously than uncharitably branding and rejecting all others, even the main body of Friends, for apostates and innovators.

When this book came abroad it was not a little (and he, for its sake) cried up by his injudicious admirers, whose applause setting his head afloat, he came up to London at the time of the yearly meeting then following, and at the close thereof gave notice in writing to this effect—viz., "That if any were dissatisfied with his book he was there ready to maintain and defend both it and himself against all comers."

This daring challenge was neither dreaded nor slighted, but an answer forthwith returned in writing, signed by a few Friends, amongst whom I was one, to let him know that, as many were dissatisfied with his book and him, he should not fail, God willing, to be met by the sixth hour next morning at the meeting-place at Devonshire House.

Accordingly we met, and continued the meeting till noon or after, in which time he, surrounded with those of his own party as might abet and assist him, was so fairly foiled and baffled, and so fully exposed, that he was glad to quit the place, and early next morning the town also, leaving, in excuse for his going so abruptly off, and thereby refusing us another meeting with him, which we had earnestly provoked him to, this slight shift, "That he had before given earnest for his passage in the stage-coach home, and was not willing to lose it."

I had before this gotten a sight of his book, and procured one for my use on this occasion, but I had not time to read it through; but a while after, Providence cast another of them into my hands very unexpectedly, for our dear friend George Fox passing through this country among Friends, and lying in his journey at my house, had one of them in his bag, which he had made some marginal notes upon. For that good man, like Julius Caesar, willing to improve all parts of his time, did usually, even in his travels, dictate to his amanuensis what he would have committed to writing. I knew not that he had this book with him, for he had not said anything to me of it, till going in the morning into his chamber while he was dressing himself, I found it lying on the table by him; and understanding that he was going but for a few weeks to visit Friends in the meetings hereabouts and the neighbouring parts of Oxford and Berkshire, and so return through this county again, I made bold to ask him if he would favour me so much as to leave it with me till his return, that I might have the opportunity of reading it through. He consented, and as soon almost as he was gone I set myself to read it over. But I had not gone far in it ere, observing the many foul falsehoods, malicious slanders, gross perversions, and false doctrines abounding in it, the sense thereof inflamed my breast with a just and holy indignation against the work, and that devilish spirit in which it was brought forth; wherefore, finding my spirit raised and my understanding divinely opened to refute it, I began the book again, and reading it with pen in hand, answered it paragraphically as I went. And so clear were the openings I received from the Lord therein, that by the time my friend came back I had gone through the greatest part of it, and was too far engaged in spirit to think of giving over the work; wherefore, requesting him to continue the book a little longer with me, I soon after finished the answer, which, with Friends' approbation, was printed under the title of "An Antidote against the Infection of William Rogers' Book, miscalled 'The Christian Quaker, &c.'" This was written in the year 1682. But no answer was given to it, either by him or any other of his party, though many others were concerned therein, and some by name, so far as I have ever heard. Perhaps there might be the hand of Providence overruling them therein, to give me leisure to attend some other services which soon after fell upon me.

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