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GEORGE FOX - An Autobiography

CHAPTER IX. A Visit to the Southern Counties Which Ends in Launceston Jail

1655-1656.


IX.

It came upon me about this time from the Lord to write a short paper and send it forth as an exhortation and warning to the Pope, and to all kings and rulers in Europe.

Besides this I was moved to write a letter to the Protector (so called) to warn him of the mighty work the Lord hath to do in the nations, and the shaking of them; and to beware of his own wit, craft, subtilty, and policy, and of seeking any by-ends to himself.[108]

asterix I travelled till I came to Reading, where I found a few that were convinced of the way of the Lord. I stayed till the First-day, and had a meeting in George Lamboll's orchard; and a great part of the town came to it. A glorious meeting it proved; great convincement there was, and the people were mightily satisfied. Thither came two of Judge Fell's daughters to me, and George Bishop, of Bristol, with his sword by his side, for he was a captain.

After the meeting many Baptists and Ranters came privately, reasoning and discoursing; but the Lord's power came over them. The Ranters pleaded that God made the devil. I denied it, and told them I was come into the power of God, the seed Christ, which was before the devil was, and bruised his head; and he became a devil by going out of truth; and so became a murderer and a destroyer. I showed them that God did not make him a devil; for God is a God of truth, and made all things good, and blessed them; but God did not bless the devil. And the devil is bad, and was a liar and a murderer from the beginning, and spoke of himself, and not from God.

So the Truth stopped and bound them, and came over all the highest notions in the nation, and confounded them. For by the power of the Lord I was manifest, and sought to be made manifest to the Spirit of God in all, that by it they might be turned to God; as many were turned to the Lord Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit, and were come to sit under His teaching.

After this I passed to London, where I stayed awhile, and had large meetings; then went into Essex, and came to Cogshall, where was a meeting of about two thousand people, as it was judged, which lasted several hours, and a glorious meeting it was. The Word of life was freely declared, and people were turned to the Lord Jesus Christ their Teacher and Saviour, the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

On the Sixth-day I had a large meeting near Colchester, to which many professors and the Independent teachers came. After I had done speaking, and was stepped down from the place on which I stood, one of the Independent teachers began to make a jangling; which Amor Stoddart perceiving, said, "Stand up again, George"; for I was going away, and did not at first hear them. But when I heard the Independent, I stood up again, and after awhile the Lord's power came over him and his company; they were confounded and the Lord's Truth went over all. A great flock of sheep hath the Lord in that country, that feed in His pastures of life.

On the First-day following we had a very large meeting not far from Colchester, wherein the Lord's power was eminently manifested, and the people were very well satisfied; for, being turned to the Lord Jesus Christ's free teaching, they received it gladly. Many of these people were of the stock of the martyrs.

As I passed through Colchester, I went to visit James Parnell in prison; but the jailer would hardly let us come in or stay with him. Very cruel they were to him. The jailer's wife threatened to have his blood; and in that jail they did destroy him, as the reader may see in a book printed soon after his death, giving an account of his life and death; and also in an epistle printed with his collected books and writings.

We came to Yarmouth, where there was a Friend, Thomas Bond, in prison for the Truth of Christ, and there stayed a while. There we had some service; and some were turned to the Lord in that town.

Thence we rode to another town, about twenty miles off, where were many tender people; and I was moved of the Lord to speak to them, as I sat on my horse, in several places as I passed along. We went to another town about five miles beyond, and put up our horses at an inn, Richard Hubberthorn and I having travelled five and forty miles that day. There were some Friendly people in the town; and we had a tender, broken meeting amongst them, in the Lord's power.

We bade the hostler have our horses ready by three in the morning; for we intended to ride to Lynn, about three and thirty miles, next morning. But when we were in bed at our inn, about eleven at night, the constable and officers came, with a great rabble of people, into the inn. They said they were come with a hue-and-cry from a justice of the peace that lived near the town, about five miles off, where I had spoken to the people in the streets, as I rode along. They had been told to search for two horsemen, that rode upon gray horses, and in gray clothes; a house having been broken into the Seventh-day before at night. We told them we were honest, innocent men, and abhorred such things; yet they apprehended us, and set a guard with halberts and pikes upon us that night, calling upon some of those Friendly people, with others, to watch us.

Next morning we were up betimes, and the constable, with his guard, carried us before a justice of the peace about five miles off. We took with us two or three of the sufficient men of the town, who had been with us at the great meeting at Captain Lawrence's, and could testify that we lay both the Seventh-day night and the First-day night at Captain Lawrence's; and it was on the Seventh-day night that they said the house was broken into.

During the time that I was a prisoner at the Mermaid at Charing-Cross, this Captain Lawrence brought several Independent justices to see me there, with whom I had much discourse, at which they took offence. For they pleaded for imperfection, and to sin as long as they lived; but did not like to hear of Christ teaching His people Himself, and making people as clear, whilst here upon the earth, as Adam and Eve were before they fell. These justices had plotted together this mischief against me in the country, pretending that a house was broken into, that they might send their hue-and-cry after me. They were vexed, also, and troubled, to hear of the great meeting at John Lawrence's aforesaid; for a colonel was there convinced that day who lived and died in the Truth.

But Providence so ordered that the constable carried us to a justice about five miles onward in our way towards Lynn, who was not an Independent, as the rest were. When we were brought before him he began to be angry because we did not put off our hats to him. I told him I had been before the Protector, and he was not offended at my hat; and why should he be offended at it, who was but one of his servants? Then he read the hue-and-cry; and I told him that that night wherein the house was said to have been broken into, we were at Captain Lawrence's house and that we had several men present who could testify the truth thereof.

Thereupon the justice, having examined us and them, said he believed we were not the men that had broken into the house; but he was sorry, he said, that he had no more against us. We told him he ought not to be sorry for not having evil against us, but ought rather to be glad; for to rejoice when he got evil against people, as for housebreaking or the like, was not a good mind in him.

It was a good while, however, before he could resolve whether to let us go or send us to prison, and the wicked constable stirred him up against us, telling him we had good horses and that if it pleased him he would carry us to Norwich jail. But we took hold of the justice's confession that he believed we were not the men that had broken into the house; and, after we had admonished him to fear the Lord in his day, the Lord's power came over him, so that he let us go; so their snare was broken.

A great people was afterwards gathered to the Lord in that town, where I was moved to speak to them in the street, and whence the hue-and-cry came.

Being set at liberty, we passed on to Cambridge. When I came into the town the scholars, hearing of me, were up, and were exceeding rude. I kept on my horse's back, and rode through them in the Lord's power; but they unhorsed Amor Stoddart before he could get to the inn. When we were in the inn they were so rude in the courts and in the streets that the miners, colliers and carters could not be ruder. The people of the house asked us what we would have for supper. "Supper!" said I, "were it not that the Lord's power is over them, these rude scholars look as if they would pluck us in pieces and make a supper of us." They knew I was so against the trade of preaching, which they were there as apprentices to learn, that they raged as greatly as ever Diana's craftsmen did against Paul.

At this place John Crook met us.[109] When it was night the mayor of the town being friendly, came and fetched me to his house;[110] and as we walked through the streets there was a bustle in the town; but they did not know me, it being darkish. They were in a rage, not only against me, but against the mayor also; so that he was almost afraid to walk the streets with me for the tumult. We sent for the Friendly people, and had a fine meeting in the power of God; and I stayed there all night.

Next morning, having ordered our horses to be ready by the sixth hour, we passed peaceably out of town. The destroyers were disappointed: for they thought I would have stayed longer in the town, and intended to have done us mischief; but our passing away early in the morning frustrated their evil purposes against us.

At Evesham I heard that the magistrates had cast several Friends into diverse prisons, and that, hearing of my coming, they made a pair of high stocks. I sent for Edward Pittaway, a Friend that lived near Evesham, and asked him the truth of the thing. He said it was so. I went that night with him to Evesham; and in the evening we had a large, precious meeting, wherein Friends and people were refreshed with the Word of life, the power of the Lord.

Next morning I rode to one of the prisons, and visited Friends there, and encouraged them. Then I rode to the other prison, where were several prisoners. Amongst them was Humphry Smith, who had been a priest, but was now become a free minister of Christ. When I had visited Friends at both prisons, and was turned to go out of the town, I espied the magistrates coming up the town, intending to seize me in prison. But the Lord frustrated their intent, the innocent escaped their snare, and God's blessed power came over them all. But exceeding rude and envious were the priests and professors about this time in these parts.

I went from Evesham to Worcester, and had a quiet and a precious meeting there. From Worcester we went to Tewkesbury, where in the evening we had a great meeting, to which came the priest of the town with a great rabble of rude people.

Leaving Tewkesbury, we passed to Warwick, where in the evening we had a meeting with many sober people at a widow-woman's house. A precious meeting we had in the Lord's power; several were convinced and turned to the Lord. After the meeting a Baptist in the company began to jangle; and the bailiff of the town, with his officers, came in and said, "What do these people here at this time of night?" So he secured John Crook, Amor Stoddart, Gerrard Roberts and me; but we had leave to go to our inn, and to be forthcoming in the morning.

The next morning many rude people came into the inn, and into our chambers, desperate fellows; but the Lord's power gave us dominion over them. Gerrard Roberts and John Crook went to the bailiff to know what he had to say to us. He said we might go our ways, for he had little to say to us. As we rode out of town it lay upon me to ride to his house to let him know that, the Protector having given forth an instrument of government in which liberty of conscience was granted, it was very strange that, contrary to that instrument of government, he would trouble peaceable people that feared God.

The Friends went with me, but the rude people gathered about us with stones. One of them took hold of my horse's bridle and broke it; but the horse, drawing back, threw him under him. Though the bailiff saw this, yet he did not stop, nor so much as rebuke the rude multitude; so that it was strange we were not slain or hurt in the streets; for the people threw stones and struck at us as we rode along the town.

When we were quite out of the town I told Friends that it was upon me from the Lord that I must go back into the town again; and if any one of them felt anything upon him from the Lord he might follow me; the rest, that did not, might go on to Dun-Cow. So I passed through the market in the dreadful power of God, declaring the Word of life to them; and John Crook followed me. Some struck at me; but the Lord's power was over them, and gave me dominion over all. I showed them their unworthiness to claim the name of Christians, and the unworthiness of their teachers, that had not brought them into more sobriety; and what a shame they were to Christianity.

Having cleared myself, I turned out of the town again, and passed to Coventry, where we found the people closed up with darkness. I went to the house of a professor, where I had formerly been, and he was drunk; which grieved my soul so that I did not go into any house in the town; but rode into some of the streets, and into the market-place. I felt that the power of the Lord was over the town.

Then I went on to Dun-Cow, and had a meeting in the evening, and some were turned to the Lord by His Spirit, as some also were at Warwick and at Tewkesbury. We lay at Dun-Cow that night; we met with John Camm, a faithful minister of the everlasting gospel. In the morning there gathered a rude company of priests and people who behaved more like beasts than men, for some of them came riding on horseback into the room where we were; but the Lord gave us dominion over them.

Thence we passed into Leicestershire, and after that to Baddesley in Warwickshire. Here William Edmundson, who lived in Ireland, having some drawings upon his spirit to come into England to see me, met with me; by whom I wrote a few lines to Friends then convinced in the north of Ireland.[111]

Friends:

In that which convinced you, wait; that you may have that removed you are convinced of. And all my dear Friends, dwell in the life, and love, and power, and wisdom of God, in unity one with another, and with God; and the peace and wisdom of God fill all your hearts that nothing may rule in you but the life which stands in the Lord God. G.F.

When these few lines were read amongst the Friends in Ireland at their meeting, the power of the Lord came upon all in the room.

From Baddesley we passed to Swannington and Higham, and so into Northamptonshire and Bedfordshire, having great meetings; and many were turned to the Lord by His power and Spirit.

When we came to Baldock in Hertfordshire, I asked if there was nothing in that town, no profession; and it was answered me that there were some Baptists, and a Baptist woman who was sick. John Rush, of Bedfordshire, went with me to visit her.

When we came in there were many tender people about her. They told me she was not a woman for this world, but if I had anything that would comfort her concerning the world to come, I might speak to her. I was moved of the Lord God to speak to her; and the Lord raised her up again, to the astonishment of the town and country. This Baptist woman and her husband, whose name was Baldock, came to be convinced, and many hundreds of people have met at their house since. Great meetings and convincements were in those parts afterwards; many received the Word of life, and sat down under the teaching of Christ, their Saviour.

When we had visited this sick woman we returned to our inn, where were two desperate fellows fighting so furiously that none durst come nigh to part them. But I was moved, in the Lord's power, to go to them; and when I had loosed their hands, I held one of them by one hand and the other by the other, showed them the evil of their doings, and reconciled them one to the other; and they were so loving and thankful to me that people marveled at it.[112]

Now, after I had tarried some time in London, and had visited Friends in their meetings, I went out of town, leaving James Nayler in the city. As I passed from him I cast my eyes upon him, and a fear struck me concerning him; but I went away and rode down to Ryegate, in Surrey, where I had a little meeting.[113] There the Friends told me of one Thomas Moore, a justice of the peace, that lived not far from Ryegate, a Friendly, moderate man. I went to visit him at his house, and he came to be a serviceable man in Truth.

Thence we went to Dorchester, and alighted at an inn, a Baptist's house. We sent into the town to the Baptists, to ask them to let us have their meeting-house to assemble in, and to invite the sober people to the meeting; but they denied it us. We sent to them again, to know why they would deny us their meeting-house, so the thing was noised about in the town. Then we sent them word that if they would not let us come to their house, they, or any people that feared God, might come to our inn, if they pleased; but they were in a great rage. Their teacher and many of them came up, and slapped their Bibles on the table.

I asked them why they were so angry, -- "Were they angry with the Bible?" But they fell into a discourse about their water-baptism. I asked them whether they could say they were sent of God to baptize people, as John was, and whether they had the same Spirit and power that the apostles had? They said they had not.

Then I asked them how many powers there are, -- whether there are any more than the power of God and the power of the devil. They said there was not any other power than those two. Then said I, "If you have not the power of God that the apostles had, you act by the power of the devil." Many sober people were present, who said they have thrown themselves on their backs. Many substantial people were convinced that night; a precious service we had there for the Lord, and His power came over all.

asterix Next morning, as we were passing away, the Baptists, being in a rage, began to shake the dust off their feet after us. "What," said I, "in the power of darkness! We, who are in the power of God, shake off the dust of our feet against you." (*)

Leaving Dorchester, we came to Weymouth; where also we inquired after sober people; and about fourscore of them gathered together at a priest's house. Most of them received the Word of life and were turned to their teacher, Christ Jesus, who had enlightened them with His divine Light, by which they might see their sins, and Him who saveth from sin. A blessed meeting we had with them, and they received the Truth in the love of it, with gladness of heart.

The meeting held several hours. The state of their teachers, and their apostasy was opened to them; and the state of the apostles, and of the Church in their days; and the state of the law and of the prophets before Christ, and how Christ came to fulfill them; that He was their teacher in the apostles' days; and that He was come now to teach His people Himself by His power and spirit. All was quiet, the meeting broke up peaceably, the people were very loving; and a meeting is continued in that town to this day. Many are added to them; and some who had been Ranters came to own the Truth, and to live very soberly.

There was a captain of horse in the town, who sent to me, and would fain have had me stay longer; but I was not to stay. He and his man rode out of town with me about seven miles; Edward Pyot also being with me. This captain was the fattest, merriest, cheerfullest man, and the most given to laughter, that ever I met with: insomuch that I was several times moved to speak in the dreadful power of the Lord to him; yet it was become so customary to him that he would presently laugh at anything he saw. But I still admonished him to come to sobriety, and the fear of the Lord and sincerity.

We lay at an inn that night, and the next morning I was moved to speak to him again, when he parted from us. The next time I saw him he told me that when I spoke to him at parting, the power of the Lord so struck him that before he got home he was serious enough, and discontinued his laughing. He afterwards was convinced, and became a serious and good man, and died in the Truth.

After this we passed to Totness, a dark town. We lodged there at an inn; and that night Edward Pyot was sick, but the Lord's power healed him, so that the next day we got to Kingsbridge, and at our inn inquired for the sober people of the town. They directed us to Nicholas Tripe and his wife; and we went to their house. They sent for the priest, with whom we had some discourse; but he, being confounded, quickly left us. Nicholas Tripe and his wife were convinced; and since that time there has been a good meeting of Friends in that country.

In the evening we returned to our inn. There being many people drinking in the house, I was moved of the Lord to go amongst them, and to direct them to the Light with which Christ, the heavenly man, had enlightened them; by which they might see all their evil ways, words, and deeds, and by the same Light might also see Christ Jesus their Saviour.

The innkeeper stood uneasy, seeing it hindered his guests from drinking; and as soon as the last words were out of my mouth he snatched up the candle, and said, "Come, here is a light for you to go into your chamber." Next morning, when he was cool, I represented to him what an uncivil thing it was for him so to do; then, warning him of the day of the Lord, we got ready and passed away.

We came next day to Plymouth, refreshed ourselves at our inn, and went to Robert Cary's, where we had a very precious meeting. At this meeting was Elizabeth Trelawny, daughter to a baronet. She being somewhat thick of hearing, came close up to me, and clapped her ear very nigh me while I spake; and she was convinced. After this meeting came in some jangling Baptists; but the Lord's power came over them, and Elizabeth Trelawny gave testimony thereto. A fine meeting was settled there in the Lord's power, which hath continued ever since, where many faithful Friends have been convinced.

Thence we passed into Cornwall, and came to an inn in the parish of Menheriot. At night we had a meeting at Edward Hancock's, to which came Thomas Mounce and a priest, with many people. We brought the priest to confess that he was a minister made by the state, and maintained by the state; and he was confounded and went his way; but many of the people stayed.

I directed them to the Light of Christ, by which they might see their sins; and their Saviour Christ Jesus, the way to God, their Mediator, to make peace betwixt God and them; their Shepherd to feed them, and their Prophet to teach them. I directed them to the Spirit of God in themselves, by which they might know the Scriptures, and be led into all Truth; and by the Spirit might know God, and in it have unity one with another. Many were convinced at that time, and came under Christ's teaching; and there are fine gatherings in the name of Jesus in those parts at this day.

When we came to Ives, Edward Pyot's horse having cast a shoe, we stayed to have it set; and while he was getting his horse shod, I walked down to the seaside. When I returned I found the town in an uproar. They were haling Edward Pyot and the other Friend before Major Peter Ceely, a major in the army and a justice of the peace. I followed them into the justice's house, though they did not lay hands upon me.

When we came in, the house was full of rude people; whereupon I asked if there were not an officer among them to keep the people civil. Major Ceely said that he was a magistrate. I told him that he should then show forth gravity and sobriety, and use his authority to keep the people civil; for I never saw any people ruder; the Indians were more like Christians than they.

After a while they brought forth a paper, and asked whether I would own it.[114] I said, Yes. Then he tendered the oath of abjuration to us; whereupon I put my hand in my pocket and drew forth the answer to it which I had given to the Protector. After I had given him that, he examined us severally, one by one. He had with him a silly young priest, who asked us many frivolous questions; and amongst the rest he desired to cut my hair, which was then pretty long; but I was not to cut it, though many times many were offended at it. I told them I had no pride in it, and it was not of my own putting on.

At length the justice put us under a guard of soldiers, who were hard and wild, like the justice himself; nevertheless we warned the people of the day of the Lord, and declared the Truth to them. The next day he sent us, guarded by a party of horse with swords and pistols, to Redruth. On First-day the soldiers would have taken us away; but we told them it was their Sabbath, and it was not usual to travel on that day.

Several of the townspeople gathered about us, and whilst I held the soldiers in discourse, Edward Pyot spoke to the people; and afterwards he held the soldiers in discourse, whilst I spoke to the people. In the meantime the other Friend got out the back way, and went to the steeple-house to speak to the priest and people. The people were exceedingly desperate, in a mighty rage against him, and they sorely abused him. The soldiers also, missing him, were in a great rage, ready to kill us; but I declared the day of the Lord and the Word of eternal life to the people that gathered about us.

In the afternoon the soldiers were resolved to take us away, so we took horse. When we were come to the town's end I was moved of the Lord to go back again, to speak to the old man of the house. The soldiers drew out their pistols, and swore I should not go back. I heeded them not, but rode back, and they rode after me. I cleared myself to the old man and the people, and then returned with them, and reproved them for being so rude and violent.

At night we were brought to a town then called Smethick, but since known as Falmouth. It being the evening of the First-day, there came to our inn the chief constable of the place, and many sober people, some of whom began to inquire concerning us. We told them we were prisoners for Truth's sake; and much discourse we had with them concerning the things of God. They were very sober and loving to us. Some were convinced, and stood faithful ever after.

When the constable and these people were gone, others came in, who were also very civil, and went away very loving. When all were gone, we went to our chamber to go to bed; and about the eleventh hour Edward Pyot said, "I will shut the door; it may be some may come to do us mischief." Afterwards we understood that Captain Keat, who commanded the party, had intended to do us some injury that night; but the door being bolted, he missed his design.

Next morning Captain Keat brought a kinsman of his, a rude, wicked man, and put him into the room; himself standing without. This evil-minded man walked huffing up and down the room; I bade him fear the Lord. Thereupon he ran upon me, struck me with both his hands, and, clapping his leg behind me, would have thrown me down if he could; but he was not able, for I stood stiff and still, and let him strike.

As I looked towards the door, I saw Captain Keat look on, and see his kinsman thus beat and abuse me. I said to him, "Keat, dost thou allow this?" He said he did. "Is this manly or civil," said I, "to have us under a guard, and then put a man to abuse and beat us? Is this manly, civil, or Christian?" I desired one of our friends to send for the constables, and they came.

Then I desired the Captain to let the constables see his warrant or order, by which he was to carry us; which he did. His warrant was to conduct us safe to Captain Fox, governor of Pendennis Castle; and if the governor should not be at home, he was to convey us to Launceston jail. I told him he had broken his order concerning us; for we, who were his prisoners, were to be safely conducted; but he had brought a man to beat and abuse us; so he having broken his order, I wished the constable to keep the warrant. Accordingly he did, and told the soldiers they might go their ways, for he would take charge of the prisoners; and if it cost twenty shillings in charges to carry us up, they should not have the warrant again. I showed the soldiers the baseness of their carriage towards us; and they walked up and down the house, pitifully blank and down.

The constables went to the castle, and told the officers what they had done. The officers showed great dislike of Captain Keat's base carriage towards us; and told the constables that Major-General Desborough was coming to Bodmin, and that we should meet him; and it was likely he would free us. Meanwhile our old guard of soldiers came by way of entreaty to us, and promised that they would be civil to us if we would go with them.

Thus the morning was spent till about the eleventh hour; and then, upon the soldiers' entreaty, and their promise to be more civil, the constables gave them the order again; and we went with them.

Great was the civility and courtesy of the constables and people of that town towards us. They kindly entertained us, and the Lord rewarded them with His truth; for many of them have since been convinced thereof, and are gathered into the name of Jesus, and sit under Christ, their Teacher and Saviour.

Captain Keat, who commanded our guard, understanding that Captain Fox, who was governor of Pendennis Castle, was gone to meet Major-General Desborough,[115] did not carry us thither; but took us directly to Bodmin, in the way to Launceston. We met Major-General Desborough on the way. The captain of his troop, who rode before him, knew me, and said, "Oh, Mr. Fox, what do you here?" I replied, "I am a prisoner." "Alack," he said, "for what?" I told him I was taken up as I was travelling. "Then," said he, "I will speak to my lord, and he will set you at liberty."

So he came from the head of his troop, and rode up to the coach, and spoke to the Major-General. We also gave him an account of how we were taken. He began to speak against the Light of Christ; against which I exhorted him. Then he told the soldiers that they might carry us to Launceston; for he could not stay to talk with us, lest his horses should take cold.

To Bodmin we were taken that night; and when we came to our inn Captain Keat, who was in before us, put me into a room and went his way. When I was come in, there stood a man with a naked rapier in his hand. Whereupon I turned out again, called for Captain Keat, and said, "What now, Keat; what trick hast thou played now, to put me into a room where there is a man with his naked rapier? What is thy end in this?" "Oh," said he, "pray hold your tongue; for if you speak to this man, we cannot rule him, he is so devilish." "Then," said I, "dost thou put me into a room where there is such a man with a naked rapier that thou sayest you cannot rule him? What an unworthy, base trick is this? and to put me single into this room, away from my friends that were fellow-prisoners with me?" Thus his plot was discovered and the mischief they intended was prevented.

Afterward we got another room, where we were together all night; and in the evening we declared the Truth to the people; but they were dark and hardened. The soldiers, notwithstanding their fair promises, were very rude and wicked to us again, and sat up drinking and roaring all night.

Next day we were brought to Launceston, where Captain Keat delivered us to the jailer. Now was there no Friend, nor Friendly people, near us; and the people of the town were a dark, hardened people. The jailer required us to pay seven shillings a week for our horse-meat,[116] and seven shillings a week apiece for our diet. After some time several sober persons came to see us, and some people of the town were convinced, and many friendly people out of several parts of the country came to visit us, and were convinced.

Then got up a great rage among the professors and priests against us. They said, "This people 'Thou' and 'Thee' all men without respect and will not put off their hats, nor bow the knee to any man; but we shall see, when the assize comes, whether they will dare to 'Thou' and 'Thee' the judge, and keep on their hats before him." They expected we should be hanged at the assize.

But all this was little to us; for we saw how God would stain the world's honour and glory; and were commanded not to seek that honour, nor give it; but knew the honour that cometh from God only, and sought that.

It was nine weeks from the time of our commitment to the time of the assizes, to which abundance of people came from far and near to hear the trial of the Quakers. Captain Bradden lay there with his troop of horse. His soldiers and the sheriff's men guarded us to the court through the multitude that filled the streets; and much ado they had to get us through. Besides, the doors and windows were filled with people looking upon us.

When we were brought into the court, we stood a while with our hats on, and all was quiet. I was moved to say, "Peace be amongst you."

Judge Glynne, a Welshman, then Chief-Justice of England, said to the jailer, "What be these you have brought here into the court?" "Prisoners, my lord," said he.

"Why do you not put off your hats?" said the Judge to us. We said nothing.

"Put off your hats," said the Judge again. Still we said nothing. Then said the Judge, "The Court commands you to put off your hats."

Then I spoke, and said, "Where did ever any magistrate, king, or judge, from Moses to Daniel, command any to put off their hats, when they came before him in his court, either amongst the Jews, the people of God, or amongst the heathen?[117] and if the law of England doth command any such thing, show me that law either written or printed."

Then the Judge grew very angry, and said, "I do not carry my law-books on my back." "But," said I, "tell me where it is printed in any statute-book, that I may read it."

Then said the Judge, "Take him away, prevaricator! I'll ferk him." So they took us away, and put us among the thieves.

Presently after he calls to the jailer, "Bring them up again." "Come," said he, "where had they hats, from Moses to Daniel; come, answer me: I have you fast now."

I replied, "Thou mayest read in the third of Daniel, that the three children were cast into the fiery furnace by Nebuchadnezzar's command, with their coats, their hose, and their hats on."

This plain instance stopped him: so that, not having anything else to say to the point, he cried again, "Take them away, jailer."

Accordingly we were taken away, and thrust in among the thieves, where we were kept a great while; and then, without being called again, the sheriff's men and the troopers made way for us (but we were almost spent) to get through the crowd of people, and guarded us to the prison again, a multitude of people following us, with whom we had much discourse and reasoning at the jail.

We had some good books to set forth our principles, and to inform people of the Truth. The Judge and justices hearing of this, they sent Captain Bradden for them. He came into the jail to us, and violently took our books from us, some out of Edward Pyot's hands, and carried them away; so we never got them again.

[While in the jail Fox addressed a paper "against swearing" to the grand and petty juries.]

This paper passing among them from the jury to the justices, they presented it to the Judge; so that when we were called before the Judge, he bade the clerk give me that paper, and then asked me whether that seditious paper was mine. I said to him, "If they will read it out in open court, that I may hear it, if it is mine I will own it, and stand by it." He would have had me take it and look upon it in my own hand; but I again desired that it might be read, that all the country might hear it, and judge whether there was any sedition in it or not; for if there were, I was willing to suffer for it.

At last the clerk of the assize read it, with an audible voice, that all the people might hear it. When he had done I told them it was my paper; that I would own it, and so might they too, unless they would deny the Scripture: for was not this Scripture language, and the words and commands of Christ, and the Apostle, which all true Christians ought to obey?

Then they let fall that subject; and the Judge fell upon us about our hats again, bidding the jailer take them off; which he did, and gave them to us; and we put them on again. Then we asked the Judge and the justices, for what cause we had lain in prison these nine weeks, seeing they now objected to nothing but our hats. And as for putting off our hats, I told them that that was the honour which God would lay in the dust, though they made so much ado about it; the honour which is of men, and which men seek one of another, and is a mark of unbelievers. For "How can ye believe," saith Christ, "who receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?" Christ saith, "I receive not honour from men"; and all true Christians should be of His mind.

Then the Judge began to make a pompous speech, how he represented the Lord Protector's person, who made him Lord Chief-Justice of England, and sent him to come that circuit, etc. We desired him, then, that he would do us justice for our false imprisonment which we had suffered nine weeks wrongfully. But instead of that, they brought an indictment framed against us; so full of lies that I thought it had been against some of the thieves, -- "that we came by force and arms, and in a hostile manner, into the court"; who were brought as aforesaid. I told them it was all false; and still we cried for justice for our false imprisonment, being taken up in our journey without cause by Major Ceely.

Then Peter Ceely said to the Judge, "May it please you, my lord, this man (pointing to me) went aside with me, and told me how serviceable I might be for his design; that he could raise forty thousand men at an hour's warning, involve the nation in blood, and so bring in King Charles. I would have aided him out of the country, but he would not go. If it please you, my lord, I have a witness to swear it."

So he called upon his witness; but the Judge not being forward to examine the witness, I desired that he would be pleased to let my mittimus be read in the face of the court and the country, in which the crime was signified for which I was sent to prison. The Judge said it should not be read. I said, "It ought to be, seeing it concerned my liberty and my life." The Judge said again, "It shall not be read." I said, "It ought to be read; for if I have done anything worthy of death, or of bonds, let all the country know it."

Then seeing they would not read it, I spoke to one of my fellow-prisoners: "Thou hast a copy of it; read it up." "It shall not be read," said the Judge; "jailer, take him away. I'll see whether he or I shall be master."

So I was taken away, and awhile after called for again. I still called to have the mittimus read; for that signified the cause of my commitment. I again spoke to the Friend, my fellow-prisoner, to read it up; which he did. The Judge, justices, and the whole court were silent; for the people were eager to hear it. It was as followeth:

"Peter Ceely, one of the justices of the peace of this county, to the keeper of His Highness's jail at Launceston, or his lawful deputy in that behalf, greeting:

"I send you here withal by the bearers hereof, the bodies of Edward Pyot, of Bristol, and George Fox, of Drayton-in-the-Clay, in Leicestershire, and William Salt, of London, which they pretend to be the places of their habitations, who go under the notion of Quakers, and acknowledge themselves to be such; who have spread several papers tending to the disturbance of the public peace, and cannot render any lawful cause of coming into those parts, being persons altogether unknown, having no pass for travelling up and down the country, and refusing to give sureties for their good behaviour, according to the law in that behalf provided; and refuse to take oath of abjuration, etc. These are, therefore, in the name of his highness the Lord Protector, to will and command you, that when the bodies of the said Edward Pyot, George Fox, and William Salt, shall be unto you brought, you them receive, and in His Highness's prison aforesaid you safely keep them, until by due course of law they shall be delivered. Hereof fail you not, as you will answer the contrary at your perils. Given under my hand and seal, at St. Ives, the 18th day of January, 1655.

P. CEELY."

When it was read I spoke thus to the Judge and justices:

"Thou that sayest thou art Chief-Justice of England, and you justices, know that, if I had put in sureties, I might have gone whither I pleased, and have carried on the design (if I had had one) with which Major Ceely hath charged me. And if I had spoken those words to him, which he hath here declared, judge ye whether bail or mainprize could have been taken in that case."

Then, turning my speech to Major Ceely, I said:

"When or where did I take thee aside? Was not thy house full of rude people, and thou as rude as any of them, at our examination; so that I asked for a constable or some other officer to keep the people civil? But if thou art my accuser, why sittest thou on the bench? It is not the place of accusers to sit with the judge. Thou oughtest to come down and stand by me, and look me in the face.

"Besides, I would ask the Judge and justices whether Major Ceely is not guilty of this treason, which he charges against me, in concealing it so long as he hath done? Does he understand his place, either as a soldier or a justice of the peace? For he tells you here that I went aside with him, and told him what a design I had in hand, and how serviceable he might be for my design: that I could raise forty thousand men in an hour's time, bring in King Charles, and involve the nation in blood. He saith, moreover, that he would have aided me out of the country, but I would not go; and therefore he committed me to prison for want of sureties for the good behaviour, as the mittimus declares.

"Now, do you not see plainly that Major Ceely is guilty of this plot and treason he talks of, and hath made himself a party to it by desiring me to go out of the country, demanding bail of me, and not charging me with this pretended treason till now, nor discovering it? But I deny and abhor his words, and am innocent of his devilish design."

So that business was let fall; for the Judge saw clearly enough that instead of ensnaring me, Major Ceely had ensnared himself.

asterix Major Ceely got up again, and said, "If it please you, my lord, to hear me: this man struck me, and gave me such a blow as I never had in my life." At this I smiled in my heart, and said, "Major Ceely, art thou a justice of the peace, and a major of a troop of horse, and tellest the Judge, in the face of the court and country, that I, a prisoner, struck thee and gave thee such a blow as thou never hadst the like in thy life? What! art thou not ashamed? Prithee, Major Ceely," said I, "where did I strike thee? and who is thy witness for that? who was by?"

He said it was in the Castle-Green, and Captain Bradden was standing by when I struck him. I desired the Judge to let him produce his witness for that; and called again upon Major Ceely to come down from the bench, telling him that it was not fit that the accuser should sit as judge over the accused. When I called again for his witness he said that Captain Bradden was his witness.

Then I said, "Speak, Captain Bradden, didst thou see me give him such a blow, and strike him as he saith?" Captain Bradden made no answer; but bowed his head towards me. I desired him to speak up, if he knew any such thing; but he only bowed his head again. "Nay," said I, "speak up, and let the court and country hear, and let not bowing of the head serve the turn. If I have done so, let the law be inflicted on me; I fear not sufferings, nor death itself, for I am an innocent man concerning all this charge."

But Captain Bradden never testified to it; and the Judge, finding those snares would not hold, cried, "Take him away, jailer;" and then, when we were taken away, he fined us twenty marks apiece for not putting off our hats; and sentenced us to be kept in prison till we paid it; so he sent us back to the jail.

At night Captain Bradden came to see us, and seven or eight justices with him, who were very civil to us, and told us they believed neither the Judge nor any in the court gave credit to the charges which Major Ceely had brought forward against me in the face of the country. And Captain Bradden said that Major Ceely had an intent to take away my life if he could have got another witness.

"But," said I, "Captain Bradden, why didst not thou witness for me, or against me, seeing Major Ceely produced thee for a witness, that thou saw me strike him? and when I desired thee to speak either for me or against me, according to what thou saw or knew, thou wouldst not speak."

"Why," said he, "when Major Ceely and I came by you, as you were walking in the Castle-Green, he put off his hat to you, and said, 'How do you do, Mr. Fox? Your servant, Sir.' Then you said to him, 'Major Ceely, take heed of hypocrisy, and of a rotten heart: for when came I to be thy master, and thou my servant? Do servants cast their masters into prison?' This was the great blow he meant you gave him."

Then I called to mind that they walked by us, and that he spoke so to me, and I to him; which hypocrisy and rotten-heartedness he manifested openly, when he complained of this to the Judge in open court, and in the face of the country; and would have made them all believe that I struck him outwardly with my hand.

There came also to see us one Colonel Rouse a justice of the peace, and a great company with him. He was as full of words and talk as ever I heard any man in my life, so that there was no speaking to him. At length I asked him whether he had ever been at school, and knew what belonged to questions and answers; (this I said to stop him).

"At school!" said he, "Yes."

"At school!" said the soldiers; "doth he say so to our colonel, that is a scholar?"

"Then," said I, "if he be so, let him be still and receive answers to what he hath said."

Then I was moved to speak the Word of life to him in God's dreadful power; which came so over him that he could not open his mouth. His face swelled, and was red like a turkey; his lips moved, and he mumbled something; but the people thought he would have fallen down. I stepped up to him, and he said he was never so in his life before: for the Lord's power stopped the evil power in him; so that he was almost choked.

The man was ever after very loving to Friends, and not so full of airy words to us; though he was full of pride; but the Lord's power came over him, and the rest that were with him.

Another time there came an officer of the army, a very malicious, bitter professor whom I had known in London. He was full of his airy talk also, and spoke slightingly of the Light of Christ, and against the Truth, and against the Spirit of God being in men, as it was in the apostles' days; till the power of God, that bound the evil in him, had almost choked him as it did Colonel Rouse: for he was so full of evil that he could not speak, but blubbered and stuttered. But from the time that the Lord's power struck him and came over him, he was ever after more loving to us.

asterix The assizes being over, and we settled in prison upon such a commitment that we were not likely to be soon released, we broke off from giving the jailer seven shillings a week apiece for our horses, and seven shillings a week for ourselves, and sent our horses into the country. Upon which he grew very wicked and devilish, and put us down into Doomsdale, a nasty, stinking place, where they used to put murderers after they were condemned. [118]

The place was so noisome that it was observed few that went in did ever come out again in health. There was no house of office in it; and the excrement of the prisoners that from time to time had been put there had not been carried out (as we were told) for many years. So that it was all like mire, and in some places to the tops of the shoes in water and urine; and he would not let us cleanse it, nor suffer us to have beds or straw to lie on.

At night some friendly people of the town brought us a candle and a little straw; and we burned a little of our straw to take away the stink. The thieves lay over our heads, and the head jailer in a room by them, over our heads also. It seems the smoke went up into the room where the jailer lay; which put him into such a rage that he took the pots of excrement from the thieves and poured them through a hole upon our heads in Doomsdale, till we were so bespattered that we could not touch ourselves nor one another. And the stink increased upon us; so that what with stink, and what with smoke, we were almost choked and smothered. We had the stink under our feet before, but now we had it on our heads and backs also; and he having quenched our straw with the filth he poured down, had made a great smother in the place. Moreover, he railed at us most hideously, calling us hatchet-faced dogs, and such strange names as we had never heard of. In this manner we were obliged to stand all night, for we could not sit down, the place was so full of filthy excrement.

A great while he kept us after this manner before he would let us cleanse it, or suffer us to have any victuals brought in but what we got through the grate. One time a girl brought us a little meat; and he arrested her for breaking his house, and sued her in the town-court for breaking the prison. A great deal of trouble he put the young woman to; whereby others were so discouraged that we had much ado to get water, drink, or victuals. Near this time we sent for a young woman, Ann Downer, from London, who could write and take things well in short-hand, to buy and dress our meat for us; which she was very willing to do, it being also upon her spirit to come to us in the love of God; and she was very serviceable to us.

The head-jailer, we were informed, had been a thief, and was burnt both in the hand and in the shoulder; his wife, too, had been burnt in the hand. The under-jailer had been burnt both in the hand and in the shoulder: his wife had been burnt in the hand also. Colonel Bennet, a Baptist teacher, having purchased the jail and lands belonging to the castle, had placed this head-jailer there. The prisoners and some wild people would be talking of spirits that haunted Doomsdale, and how many had died in it, thinking perhaps to terrify us therewith. But I told them that if all the spirits and devils in hell were there, I was over them in the power of God, and feared no such thing; for Christ, our Priest, would sanctify the walls of the house to us, He who had bruised the head of the devil.[119] The priest was to cleanse the plague out of the walls of the house under the law, which had been ended by Christ, our Priest, who sanctifies both inwardly and outwardly the walls of the house, the walls of the heart, and all things to his people.

By this time the general quarter-sessions drew nigh; and the jailer still carrying himself basely and wickedly towards us, we drew up our suffering case, and sent it to the sessions at Bodmin. On the reading thereof, the justices gave order that Doomsdale door should be opened, and that we should have liberty to cleanse it, and to buy our meat in the town. We also sent a copy of our sufferings to the Protector, setting forth how we had been taken and committed by Major Ceely; and abused by Captain Keat as aforesaid, and the rest in order. The Protector sent down an order to Captain Fox, governor of Pendennis Castle, to examine the matter about the soldiers abusing us, and striking me.

There were at that time many of the gentry of the country at the Castle; and Captain Keat's kinsman, that struck me, was sent for before them, and much threatened. They told him that if I should change my principles, I might take the extremity of the law against him, and might recover sound damages of him. Captain Keat also was checked, for suffering the prisoners under his charge to be abused.

This was of great service in the country; for afterwards Friends might speak in any market or steeple-house thereabouts, and none would meddle with them. I understood that Hugh Peters, one of the Protector's chaplains, told him they could not do George Fox a greater service for the spreading of his principles in Cornwall, than to imprison him there.

And indeed my imprisonment there was of the Lord, and for His service in those parts; for after the assizes were over, and it was known that we were likely to continue prisoners, several Friends from most parts of the nation came in to the country to visit us. Those parts of the west were very dark countries at that time but the Lord's light and truth broke forth, shone over all, and many were turned from darkness to light, and from Satan's power unto God. Many were moved to go to the steeple-houses; and several were sent to prison to us; and a great convincement began in the country. For now we had liberty to come out, and to walk in the Castle-Green; and many came to us on First-days, to whom we declared the Word of life.

Great service we had among them, and many were turned to God, up and down the country; but great rage possessed the priests and professors against the Truth and us. One of the envious professors had collected many Scripture sentences to prove that we ought to put off our hats to the people; and he invited the town of Launceston to come into the castle-yard to hear him read them. Amongst other instances that he there brought, one was that Saul bowed to the witch of Endor. When he had done, we got a little liberty to speak; and we showed both him and the people that Saul was gone from God, and had disobeyed God when he went to the witch of Endor: that neither the prophets, nor Christ, nor the apostles ever taught people to bow to a witch.

Another time, about eleven at night, the jailer, being half drunk, came and told me that he had got a man now to dispute with me: (this was when we had leave to go a little into the town). As soon as he spoke these words I felt there was mischief intended to my body. All that night and the next day I lay down on a grass-plot to slumber, and felt something still about my body: I started up, and struck at it in the power of the Lord, and still it was about my body.

Then I rose and walked into the Castle-Green, and the under-keeper came and told me that there was a maid would speak with me in the prison. I felt a snare in his words, too, therefore I went not into the prison, but to the grate; and looking in, I saw a man that was lately brought to prison for being a conjurer, who had a naked knife in his hand. I spoke to him, and he threatened to cut my chaps; but, being within the jail he could not come at me. This was the jailer's great disputant.

I went soon after into the jailer's house, and found him at breakfast; he had then got his conjurer out with him. I told the jailer his plot was discovered. Then he got up from the table, and cast his napkin away in a rage; and I left them, and went to my chamber; for at this time we were out of Doomsdale.

At the time the jailer had said the dispute should be, I went down and walked in the court (the place appointed) till about the eleventh hour; but nobody came. Then I went up to my chamber again; and after awhile heard one call for me. I stepped to the stairshead, where I saw the jailer's wife upon the stairs, and the conjurer at the bottom of the stairs, holding his hand behind his back, and in a great rage.

I asked him, "Man, what hast thou in thy hand behind thy back? Pluck thy hand before thee," said I; "let's see thy hand, and what thou hast in it."

Then he angrily plucked forth his hand, with a naked knife in it. I showed the jailer's wife their wicked design against me; for this was the man they brought to dispute of the things of God. But the Lord discovered their plot, and prevented their evil design; and they both raged, and the conjurer threatened.

Then I was moved of the Lord to speak sharply to him in the dreadful power of the Lord; and the Lord's power came over him, and bound him down; so that he never after durst appear before me, to speak to me. I saw it was the Lord alone that had preserved me out of their bloody hands; for the devil had a great enmity to me, and stirred up his instruments to seek my hurt. But the Lord prevented them; and my heart was filled with thanksgivings and praises to him.[120]

In Cornwall, Devonshire, Dorsetshire, and Somersetshire, Truth began mightily to spread. Many were turned to Christ Jesus and His free teaching: for many Friends that came to visit us were drawn to declare the Truth in those counties. This made the priests and professors rage, and they stirred up the magistrates to ensnare Friends. They set up watches in the streets and highways, on pretence of taking up suspicious persons, under which colour they stopped and took up Friends coming to visit us in prison; which was done that these Friends might not pass up and down in the Lord's service.

But that by which they thought to have stopped the Truth was the means of spreading it so much the more; for then Friends were frequently moved to speak to one constable and to another officer, and to the justices before whom they were brought; which caused the Truth to spread the more in all their parishes. And when Friends were got among the watches, it would be a fortnight or three weeks before they could get out of them again; for no sooner had one constable taken and carried them before the justices, and these had discharged them, but another would take them up and carry them before other justices: which put the country to a great deal of needless trouble and charges.

As Thomas Rawlinson was coming out of the north to visit us, a constable in Devonshire took him up, and at night took twenty shillings out of his pocket: and after being thus robbed he was cast into Exeter jail. They cast into prison in Devonshire, under pretence of his being a Jesuit, Henry Pollexfen, who had been a justice of the peace for almost forty years. Many Friends were cruelly beaten by them; nay, some clothiers that were but going to mill with their cloth, and others about their outward occasions, they took up and whipped; though men of about eighty or an hundred pounds by the year, and not above four or five miles from their families.

The mayor of Launceston took up all he could, and cast them into prison. He would search substantial, grave women, their petticoats and their head-cloths. A young man coming to see us, I drew up all the gross, inhuman, and unchristian actions of the mayor, gave it him, and bade him seal it up, and go out again the back way; and then come into the town through the gates. He did so, and the watch took him up and carried him before the mayor; who presently searched his pockets and found the letter. Therein he saw all his actions characterized; which shamed him so that from that time he meddled little with the Lord's servants.

While I was in prison here, the Baptists and Fifth-monarchy men prophesied that this year Christ should come, and reign upon earth a thousand years. And they looked upon this reign to be outward: when He was come inwardly in the hearts of His people, to reign and rule; where these professors would not receive Him. So they failed in their prophecy and expectation, and had not the possession of Him. But Christ is come, and doth dwell and reign in the hearts of His people.[121] Thousands, at the door of whose hearts He hath been knocking have opened to Him, and He is come in, and doth sup with them, and they with Him; the heavenly supper with the heavenly and spiritual man. So many of these Baptists and Monarchy-people turned the greatest enemies to the followers of Christ; but He reigns in the hearts of His saints over all their envy.

At the assize diverse justices came to us, and were pretty civil, and reasoned of the things of God soberly; expressing a pity to us. Captain Fox, governor of Pendennis Castle, came and looked me in the face, and said never a word; but went to his company and told them he never saw a simpler man in his life. I called after him, and said, "Stay, man; we will see who is the simpler man." But he went his way. A light, chaffy person.

Thomas Lower[122] also came to visit us, and offered us money, which we refused; accepting nevertheless of his love. He asked us many questions concerning our denying the Scriptures to be the Word of God; concerning the sacraments, and such like: to all which he received satisfaction. I spoke particularly to him; and he afterwards said my words were as a flash of lightning, they ran so through him. He said he had never met with such men in his life, for they knew the thoughts of his heart; and were as the wise master-builders of the assemblies that fastened their words like nails. He came to be convinced of the truth, and remains a Friend to this day.

When he came home to his aunt Hambley's, where he then lived, and made report to her concerning us, she, with her sister Grace Billing, hearing the report of Truth, came to visit us in prison, and was convinced also. Great sufferings and spoiling of goods both he and his aunt have undergone for the Truth's sake.

After the assizes, the sheriff, with some soldiers, came to guard to execution a woman that was sentenced to die; and we had much discourse with them. One of them wickedly said, "Christ was as passionate a man as any that lived upon the earth;" for which we rebuked him. Another time we asked the jailer what doings there were at the sessions; and he said, "Small matters; only about thirty for bastardy." We thought it very strange that they who professed themselves Christians should make small matters of such things.

But this jailer was very bad himself; I often admonished him to sobriety; but he abused people that came to visit us. Edward Pyot had a cheese sent him from Bristol by his wife; and the jailer took it from him, and carried it to the mayor, to search it for treasonable letters, as he said; and though they found no treason in the cheese, they kept it from us.[123] This jailer might have been rich -- if he had carried himself civilly; but he sought his own ruin, which soon after came upon him.

The next year he was turned out of his place, and for some wickedness cast into the jail himself; and there begged of our Friends. And for some unruliness in his conduct he was, by the succeeding jailer, put into Doomsdale, locked in irons, and beaten, and bidden to remember how he had abused those good men whom he had wickedly, without any cause, cast into that nasty dungeon; and told that now he deservedly should suffer for his wickedness; and the same measure he had meted to others, should be meted out to himself. He became very poor, and died in prison; and his wife and family came to misery.

While I was in prison in Launceston, a Friend went to Oliver Cromwell, and offered himself, body for body, to lie in Doomsdale in my stead; if he would take him, and let me have liberty. Which thing so struck him, that he said to his great men and council, "Which of you would do as much for me if I were in the same condition?" And though he did not accept of the Friend's offer, but said he could not do it, for that it was contrary to law, yet the Truth thereby came mightily over him. A good while after this he sent down Major-General Desborough, pretending to set us at liberty. When he came, he offered us our liberty if we would say we would go home and preach no more; but we could not promise him. Then he urged that we should promise to go home, if the Lord permitted.

After this[124] Major-General Desborough came to the Castle-Green, and played at bowls with the justices and others. Several Friends were moved to go and admonish them not to spend their time so vainly, desiring them to consider, that though they professed themselves to be Christians, yet they gave themselves up to their pleasures, and kept the servants of God meanwhile in prison; and telling them that the Lord would plead with them and visit them for such things. But notwithstanding what was written or said to him, he went away, and left us in prison.

We understood afterwards that he left the business to Colonel Bennet, who had the command of the jail. For some time after Bennet would have set us at liberty if we would have paid his jailer's fees. But we told him we could give the jailer no fees, for we were innocent sufferers; and how could they expect fees of us, who had suffered so long wrongfully? After a while Colonel Bennet coming to town, sent for us to an inn, and insisted again upon fees, which we refused. At last the power of the Lord came so over him, that he freely set us at liberty on the 13th day of the Seventh month, 1656. We had been prisoners nine weeks at the first assize, called the Lent-assize, which was in the spring of the year.

Chapter Ten ...>


Notes and Links

[108] This paper to the Protector was published in 1656. The paper mentioned just before was "A Warning from the Lord to the Pope and to all his Train of Idolatries." Published "at the Black-Spread Eagle" in 1656. He wrote many more letters at this period. Among them was a long letter to all professors of Christianity. Here is a characteristic passage from it:

    "Let us be glad, and rejoice for ever! Singleness of heart is come; pureness of heart is come; joy and gladness is come. The glorious God is exalting Himself; Truth hath been talked of, but now it is possessed. Christ hath been talked of; but now He is come and possessed. The glory hath been talked of; but now it is possessed, and the glory of man is defacing. The Son of God hath been talked of; but now He is come, and hath given us an understanding. Unity hath been talked of; but now it is come. Virgins have been talked of; but now they are come with oil in their lamps."

[109] John Crook was Justice of the Peace in Bedford County. He became an eminent minister among the Friends and suffered many imprisonments.

[110] The wife of this mayor of Cambridge had been to a great meeting which Fox held the day before near the Isle of Ely. James Parnell had already labored in Cambridge before this visit of George Fox. One gets here an interesting glimpse at the students of two hundred and fifty years ago. It is an interesting fact that they failed to unhorse Fox. The struggle between Fox and the students is the subject of one of Robert Spence's etchings.

[111] This William Edmundson was one of the first persons to espouse and proclaim the principles of the Quakers in Ireland. He had been a soldier in Cromwell's army, and he carried the spirit and courage of an Ironside into the new service. He had strange and unspeakably difficult experiences to endure in those trying days of unsettlement in Ireland, but he was enabled to do a great work for the cause which he served. He also had large and valuable service in America.

[112] These cases are further illustration of Fox's power to deal with sickness and with desperate persons. He always felt himself equal to any emergency which confronted him.

[113] James Nayler's fall, which is here felt in dim forecast, became very soon only too sadly real.

['shake the dust'] "And he said unto them, Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece. And whatsoever house ye enter into, there abide, and thence depart. And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them." Luke 9: 3-5 (KJV)

[114] A paper which George Fox had written to the seven parishes of Land's End.

[115] Major-General Desborough was one of Cromwell's favorite generals, who received many places of honour from the Protector. In 1655 he received his commission as major-general, in charge of Wiltshire, Somersetshire, Devonshire and Cornwall, and in the main he proved an able administrator in this office.

[116] Provender for their horses.

[117] This was Puritan England, and an appeal to Old Testament precedents was not out of place.

[118] This description of Doomsdale is far from pleasant reading, but it is a true and faithful picture of a dungeon in the seventeenth century, and because of its historic importance it is left exactly as it was written. It is no wonder the Quakers became prison reformers.

[119] This has the ring of one of Luther's utterances.

[120] The 14th of May, 1656, Edward Pyot, Fox's fellow prisoner, wrote a long letter to John Glyn, Chief Justice of England, in which he showed that they were suffering contrary to law. George Fox himself, as his custom was, spent much of his time of imprisonment writing letters and religious epistles. Here is a sound word of advice from his Epistle to "Friends": "Be patterns, be examples in all countries, places, islands, nations, wherever you come, that your life and conduct may preach among all sorts of people and to them."

[121] It will be found interesting to compare this brief comment on the views of the "Fifth-monarchy men" with Cromwell's treatment of them. See Speech II., in First Parliament. Carlyle's "Oliver Cromwell," Centenary Edition, Vol. III., p. 113. [Available at this site.] The modern reader will also find it interesting to compare this passage with the present-day teachings of the "Second Coming."

[122] This Thomas Lower married Judge Fell's daughter, Mary.

[123] This, however, was not the last of the cheese. After their release they revisited Launceston, as this extract will show:

    "From Thomas Mounce's we passed to Launceston again, and visited that little remnant of Friends that had been raised up there while we were in prison. The Lord's plants grew finely, and were established on Christ, their rock and foundation. As we were going out of town again, the constable of Launceston came running to us with the cheese that had been taken from Edward Pyot; which they had kept from us all this while, and were tormented with it. But being now set at liberty, we would not receive it."

[124] Both Edward Pyot and George Fox had written letters to Major-General Desborough, showing that they were innocent, law-abiding men, doing the Lord's work in the world, and that they could not promise to go home, it being the free right of an Englishman to go where his duty or his business carried him.