In the First Year of King Charles.
I entered Bristol on the Seventh day of the week.(see note 153) The day before, the soldiers came with their muskets into the meeting, and were exceedingly rude, beating and striking Friends with them, and drove them out of the orchard in a great rage, threatening what they would do if Friends came there again. For the mayor and the commander of the soldiers had, it seems, combined together to make a disturbance amongst Friends.
When Friends told me what a rage there was in the town, how they were threatened by the mayor and soldiers, and how unruly the soldiers had been the day before, I sent for several Friends, as George Bishop, Thomas Gouldney, Thomas Speed, and Edward Pyot, and desired them to go to the mayor and aldermen, and request them, seeing he and they had broken up our meetings, to let Friends have the town-hall to meet in. For the use of it Friends would give them twenty pounds a year, to be distributed amongst the poor and when the mayor and aldermen had business to do in it, Friends would not meet in it, but only on First-days.
These Friends were astonished at this, and said the mayor and aldermen would think that they were mad. I said, Nay; for this would be a considerable benefit to the poor. And it was upon me from the Lord to bid them go. At last they consented, and went, though in the cross to their own wills.
When they had laid the thing before the mayor, he said, "For my part I could consent to it, but I am but one"; and he told Friends of another great hall they might have; but that they did not accept, it being inconvenient.
So Friends came away, leaving the mayor in a very loving frame towards them; for they felt the Lord's power had come over him. When they came back, I spoke to them to go also to the colonel that commanded the soldiers, and lay before him the rude conduct of his soldiers, how they came armed amongst innocent people, who were waiting upon and worshipping the Lord; but they were backward to go to him.
Next morning, being First-day, we went to the meeting in the orchard, where the soldiers had lately been so rude. After I had declared the Truth some time in the meeting, there came in many rude soldiers and people, some with drawn swords. The innkeepers had made some of them drunk; and one had bound himself with an oath to cut down and kill the man that spoke. He came pressing in, through all the crowd of people, to within two yards of me, and stopped at those four Friends before mentioned (who should have gone to the colonel as I would have had them), and began jangling with them. Suddenly I saw his sword was put up and gone: for the Lord's power came over all, and chained him with the rest. We had a blessed meeting, and the Lord's everlasting power and presence were felt amongst us.
On the day following, the four Friends went and spoke with the colonel, and he sent for the soldiers, and cut and slashed some of them before the Friends' faces. When I heard of this I blamed the Friends for letting him do so, and also that they did not go on the Seventh-day, as I would have had them, which might have prevented this cutting of the soldiers, and the trouble they gave at our meeting. But thus the Lord's power came over all those persecuting, bloody minds, and the meeting there was held in peace for a good while after without disturbance.
I had then also a general meeting at Edward Pyot's, near Bristol, at which it was judged were several thousands of people:(see note 154) for besides Friends from many parts thereabouts, some of the Baptists and Independents, with their teachers, came to it, and many of the sober people of Bristol; insomuch that the people who stayed behind said the city looked naked, so many were gone out of it to this meeting. It was very quiet, and many glorious truths were opened to the people.
As we had much work with priests and professors who pleaded for imperfection, I was opened to declare and manifest to them that Adam and Eve were perfect before they fell, and all that God made He saw was good, and He blessed it; but the imperfection came in by the fall, through man's and woman's hearkening to the devil who was out of Truth. And though the law made nothing perfect, yet it made way for the bringing in of the better hope, which hope is Christ, who destroys the devil and his works, which made man and woman imperfect.
Christ saith to His disciples, "Be ye perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect": and He, who Himself was perfect, comes to make man and woman perfect again, and brings them again to the state in which God made them. So He is the maker-up of the breach, and the peace betwixt God and man.
That this might the better be understood by the lowest capacities, I used a comparison of two old people who had their house broken down by an enemy, so that they, with all their children, were liable to all storms and tempests. And there came to them some that pretended to be workmen, and offered to build up their house again, if they would give them so much a year; but when they had got the money they left the house as they found it.
After this manner came a second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth, each with his several pretence to build up the old house, and each got the people's money, and then cried that they could not rear up the house, the breach could not be made up; for there is no perfection here. They tell the old people that the house can never be perfectly built up again in this life, though they have taken the people's money for doing it.
So all the sect-masters in Christendom (so called) have pretended to build up Adam's and Eve's fallen house; and when they have got the people's money, they tell them the work cannot be perfectly done here; so their house lies as it did. But I told the people Christ was come to do it freely, who by one offering hath perfected for ever all them that are sanctified, and renews them up into the image of God, which man and woman were in before they fell, and makes man's and woman's house as perfect again as God made them at the first; and this Christ, the heavenly Man, doth freely. Therefore all are to look unto Him, and all that have received Him are to walk in Him, the Life, the Substance, the First, and the Last, the Rock of Ages, the Foundation of many Generations.
About this time the soldiers under General Monk's command were rude and troublesome at Friends' meetings in many places, whereof complaint being made to him he gave forth the following order, which somewhat restrained them:
"St. James's, the 9th of March, 1659.
"I do require all officers and soldiers to forbear to disturb the peaceable meetings of the Quakers, they doing nothing prejudicial to the Parliament or Commonwealth of England.
We passed thence to Tewkesbury and so to Worcester, visiting Friends in their meetings as we went. And in all my time I never saw such drunkenness as in the towns, for they had been choosing Parliament men. At Worcester the Lord's Truth was set over all, people were finely settled therein, and Friends praised the Lord; nay, I saw the very earth rejoiced.
Yet great fears and troubles were in many people, and a looking for the King's coming in, and all things being altered. They would ask me what I thought of times and things. I told them the Lord's power was over all, and His light shone over all; that fear would take hold only on the hypocrites, such as had not been faithful to God, and on our persecutors.
In my travail and sufferings at Reading, when people were at a stand, and could not tell what might come in, and who might rule, I told them the Lord's power was over all (for I had travelled through in it), and His day shined, whosoever should come in; and whether the King came in or not, all would be well to them that loved the Lord, and were faithful to Him. Therefore I bade all Friends fear none but the Lord, and keep in His power.
From Worcester I visited Friends in their meetings, till I came to Badgley, and thence I went to Drayton, in Leicestershire, to visit my relations. While there, one Burton, a justice, hearing I had a good horse, sent a warrant to search for me and my horse; but I was gone before they came; and so he missed of his wicked end.
I passed on to Twy-Cross, Swannington, and Derby, where I visited Friends, and found amongst them my old jailer, who had formerly kept me in the house of correction there, now convinced of the Truth which I then suffered under him for.
Passing into Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, I came to Synderhill-Green, visiting Friends through all those parts in their meetings, and so on to Balby in Yorkshire, where our Yearly Meeting at that time was held in a great orchard of John Killam's, where it was supposed some thousands of people and Friends were gathered together.
In the morning I heard that a troop of horse was sent from York to break up our meeting, and that the militia, newly raised, was to join them. I went into the meeting, and stood up on a great stool, and after I had spoken some time two trumpeters came up, sounding their trumpets near me, and the captain of the troop cried, "Divide to the right and left, and make way." Then they rode up to me.
I was declaring the everlasting Truth and Word of life in the mighty power of the Lord. The captain bade me come down, for he was come to disperse our meeting. After some time I told him they all knew we were a peaceable people, and used to have such great meetings; but if he apprehended that we met in a hostile way, I desired him to make search among us, and if he found either sword or pistol about any there, let such suffer.
He told me he must see us dispersed, for he came all night on purpose to disperse us. I asked him what honour it would be to him to ride with swords and pistols amongst so many unarmed men and women as there were. If he would be still and quiet our meeting probably might not continue above two or three hours; and when it was done, as we came peaceably together, so we should part; for he might perceive the meeting was so large, that all the country thereabouts could not entertain them, but that they intended to depart towards their homes at night.
He said he could not stay to see the meeting ended, but must disperse them before he went. I desired him, then, if he himself could not stay, that he would let a dozen of his soldiers stay, and see the order and peaceableness of our meeting. He said he would permit us an hour's time, and left half a dozen soldiers with us. Then he went away with his troop, and Friends of the house gave the soldiers that stayed, and their horses, some meat.
When the captain was gone the soldiers that were left told us we might stay till night if we would. But we stayed but about three hours after, and had a glorious, powerful meeting; for the presence of the living God was manifest amongst us, and the Seed, Christ, was set over all. Friends were built upon Him, the foundation, and settled under His glorious, heavenly teaching.
After the meeting Friends passed away in peace, greatly refreshed with the presence of the Lord, and filled with joy and gladness that the Lord's power had given them such dominion. Many of the militia-soldiers stayed also, much vexed that the captain and troopers had not broken up our meeting; and cursed the captain and his troopers. It was reported that they intended evil against us that day; but the troopers, instead of assisting them, were rather assistant to us, in not joining them as they expected, but preventing them from doing the mischief they designed.
This captain was a desperate man; for it was he that said to me in Scotland that he would obey his superior's commands; if it were to crucify Christ he would do it, or would execute the great Turk's commands against the Christians if he were under him. So that it was an eminent power of the Lord which chained both him and his troopers, and those envious militia-soldiers also, who went away, not having power to hurt any of us, nor to break up our meeting.
Next day we had an heavenly meeting at Warmsworth of Friends in the ministry, with several others; and then Friends parted. As they passed through the country several were taken up; for on the day on which our first meeting was held, Lambert was routed, and it made great confusion in the country; but Friends were not kept long in prison at that time.
As I went to this meeting there came to me several at Skegby, in Nottinghamshire, who were going to be soldiers under Lambert, and would have bought my horse of me. Because I would not sell him, they were in a great rage against me, using many threatening words: but I told them that God would confound and scatter them; and within two or three days after they were scattered indeed.
From Warmsworth I passed, in the Lord's power, to Barton Abbey, where I had a great meeting; thence to Thomas Taylor's; and so on to Skipton, where was a general meeting of men Friends out of many counties concerning the affairs of the Church.(see note 155)
A Friend went naked through the town, declaring Truth, and was much beaten.(see note 156) Some other Friends also came to me all bloody. As I walked in the street, a desperate fellow had an intent to do me mischief; but he was prevented, and our meeting was quiet.
To this meeting came many Friends out of most parts of the nation; for it was about business relating to the Church both in this nation and beyond the seas. Several years before, when I was in the north, I was moved to recommend to Friends the setting up of this meeting for that service; for many Friends had suffered in diverse parts of the nation, their goods were taken from them contrary to law, and they understood not how to help themselves, or where to seek redress.(see note 157) But after this meeting was set up, several Friends who had been magistrates, and others that understood something of the law, came thither, and were able to inform Friends, and to assist them in gathering up the sufferings, that they might be laid before the justices, judges, or Parliament.
This meeting had stood several years, and diverse justices and captains had come to break it up, but when they understood the business Friends met about, and saw their books and accounts of collections for relief of the poor, how we took care one county to help another, and to help our Friends beyond the seas, and provide for our poor, that none of them should be chargeable to their parishes, etc., the justices and officers confessed we did their work and passed away peaceably and lovingly, commending Friends' practice.
Sometimes there would come two hundred of the poor of other people, and wait there till the meeting was done (for all the country knew we met about the poor), and after the meeting Friends would send to the bakers for bread, and give every one of these poor people a loaf, how many soever there were of them; for we were taught to "do good unto all; though especially to the household of faith."
After this meeting I visited Friends in their meetings till I came to Lancaster; whence I went to Robert Widders's, and so on to Arnside, where I had a general meeting for all the Friends in Westmoreland, Cumberland, and Lancashire. It was quiet and peaceable, and the living presence of the Lord was amongst us. I went back with Robert Widders; and Friends all passed away, fresh in the life and power of Christ, in which they had dominion, being settled upon Him, the heavenly Rock and Foundation.
I went next day to Swarthmore, Francis Howgill and Thomas Curtis being with me. I had not been long there before Henry Porter, a justice, sent a warrant by the chief constable and three petty constables to apprehend me. I had a sense of this beforehand; and being in the parlor with Richard Richardson and Margaret Fell, her servants came and told her there were some come to search the house for arms; and they went up into the chambers under that pretence.
It came upon me to go out to them; and as I was going by some of them I spoke to them; whereupon they asked me my name. I readily told them my name; and then they laid hold on me, saying that I was the man they looked for, and led me away to Ulverstone.
They kept me all night at the constable's house, and set a guard of fifteen or sixteen men to watch me; some of whom sat in the chimney, for fear I should go up it; such dark imaginations possessed them. They were very rude and uncivil, and would neither suffer me to speak to Friends, nor suffer them to bring me necessaries; but with violence thrust them out, and kept a strong guard upon me. Very wicked and rude they were, and a great noise they made about me. One of the constables, whose name was Ashburnham, said he did not think a thousand men could have taken me. Another of the constables, whose name was Mount, a very wicked man, said he would have served Judge Fell himself so, if he had been alive, and he had had a warrant for him.
Next morning, about six, I was putting on my boots and spurs to go with them before some justice; but they pulled off my spurs, took my knife out of my pocket, and hurried me away through the town, with a party of horse and abundance of people, not suffering me to stay till my own horse came down.
When I was gone about a quarter of a mile with them, some Friends, with Margaret Fell and her children, came towards me; and then a great party of horse gathered about me in a mad rage and fury, crying out, "Will they rescue him? Will they rescue him?" Thereupon I said unto them, "Here is my hair; here is my back; here are my cheeks; strike on!" With these words their heat was a little assuaged.
Then they brought a little horse, and two of them took up one of my legs and put my foot in the stirrup, and two or three lifting over my other leg, set me upon it behind the saddle, and so led the horse by the halter; but I had nothing to hold by. When they were come some distance out of the town they beat the little horse, and made him kick and gallop. Thereupon I slipped off him. I told them they should not abuse the creature. They were much enraged at my getting off, and took me by the legs and feet, and set me upon the same horse, behind the saddle again; and so led it about two miles till they came to a great water called the Carter-Ford.
By this time my own horse was come to us, and the water being deep, and their little horse scarcely able to carry me through, they let me get upon my own, through the persuasion of some of their own company, leading him through the water. One wicked fellow kneeled down, and, lifting up his hands, blessed God that I was taken.
When I was come over the Sands, I told them that I heard I had liberty to choose what justice I would go before; but Mount and the other constables cried, "No, you shall not." Then they led me to Lancaster, about fourteen miles, and a great triumph they thought to have had; but as they led me I was moved to sing praises to the Lord, in His power triumphing over all.
When I was come to Lancaster, the spirits of the people being mightily up, I stood and looked earnestly upon them, and they cried, "Look at his eyes!"(see note 158) After a while I spoke to them, and they were pretty sober. Then came a young man who took me to his house, and after a little time the officers took me to the house of Major Porter, the justice who had sent the warrant against me, and who had several others with him.
When I came in, I said, "Peace be amongst you." Porter asked me why I came into the country at that troublesome time.(see note 159) I told him, "To visit my brethren." "But," said he, "you have great meetings up and down." I told him that though we had, our meetings were known throughout the nation to be peaceable, and we were a peaceable people.
He said that we saw the devil in people's faces. I told him that if I saw a drunkard, or a swearer, or a peevish heady man, I could not say I saw the Spirit of God in him. And I asked him if he could see the Spirit of God. He said we cried against their ministers. I told him that while we were as Saul, sitting under the priests, and running up and down with their packets of letters, we were never called pestilent fellows nor makers of sects; but when we were come to exercise our consciences towards God and man, we were called pestilent fellows, as Paul was.
He said we could express ourselves well enough, and he would not dispute with me; but he would restrain me. I desired to know for what, and by whose order he had sent his warrant for me; and I complained to him of the abuse of the constables and other officers after they had taken me, and in their bringing me thither. He would not take notice of that, but told me he had an order, but would not let me see it; for he would not reveal the Ring's secrets; and besides, "A prisoner," he said, "is not to see for what he is committed." I told him that was not reason; for how, then, should he make his defense? I said I ought to have a copy of it. But he said there was a judge once that fined one for letting a prisoner have a copy of his mittimus; "and," said he, "I have an old clerk, though I am a young justice."
Then he called to his clerk, saying, "Is it not ready yet? Bring it"; meaning the mittimus. But it not being ready, he told me I was a disturber of the nation. I told him I had been a blessing to the nation, in and through the Lord's power and Truth; and that the Spirit of God in all consciences would answer it. Then he charged me as an enemy to the King, that I endeavoured to raise a new war, and imbrue the nation in blood again. I told him I had never learned the postures of war, but was clear and innocent as a child concerning those things; and therefore was bold.
Then came the clerk with the mittimus, and the jailer was sent for and commanded to take me, put me into the Dark-house, and let none come at me, but to keep me there close prisoner till I should be delivered by the King or Parliament. Then the justice asked the constables where my horse was. "For I hear," said he, "he hath a good horse; have ye brought his horse?" I told him where my horse was, but he did not meddle with him.
As they had me to the jail the constable gave me my knife again, and then asked me to give it to him. I told him, Nay; he had not been so civil to me. So they put me into the jail, and the under-jailer, one Hardy, a very wicked man, was exceeding rude and cruel, and many times would not let me have meat brought in but as I could get it under the door. Many came to look at me, some in a rage, and very uncivil and rude.
Being now a close prisoner in the common jail at Lancaster, I desired Thomas Cummins and Thomas Green to go to the jailer, and desire of him a copy of my mittimus, that I might know what I stood committed for. They went and the jailer answered that he could not give a copy of it, for another had been fined for so doing; but he gave them liberty to read it over. To the best of their remembrance the matters therein charged against me were that I was a person generally suspected to be a common disturber of the peace of the nation, an enemy to the King, and a chief upholder of the Quakers' sect; and that, together with others of my fanatic opinion, I had of late endeavoured to raise insurrections in these parts of the country, and to embroil the whole kingdom in blood. Wherefore the jailer was commanded to keep me in safe custody until I should be released by order of the King and Parliament.
When I had thus got the heads of the charge contained in the mittimus, I wrote a plain answer in vindication of my innocency in each particular; as follows:
"I am a prisoner at Lancaster, committed by Justice Porter. A copy of the mittimus I cannot get, but such expressions I am told are in it as are very untrue; as that I am generally suspected to be a common disturber of the nation's peace, an enemy to the King, and that I, with others, endeavour to raise insurrections to embroil the nation in blood; all of which is utterly false, and I do, in every part thereof, deny it.
"For I am not a person generally suspected to be a disturber of the nation's peace, nor have I given any cause for such suspicion; for through the nation I have been tried for these things formerly. In the days of Oliver I was taken up on pretence of raising arms against him, which was also false; for I meddled not with raising arms at all. Yet I was then carried up a prisoner to London, and brought before him; when I cleared myself, and denied the drawing of a carnal weapon against him, or any man upon the earth; for my weapons are spiritual, which take away the occasion of war, and lead into peace. Upon my declaring this to Oliver, I was set at liberty by him.
"After this I was taken and sent to prison by Major Ceely in Cornwall, who, when I was brought before the judge, informed against me that I took him aside, and told him that I could raise forty thousand men in an hour's time, to involve the nation in blood, and bring in King Charles. This also was utterly false, and a lie of his own inventing as was then proved upon him for I never spoke any such word to him.
"I never was found in any plot; I never took any engagement or oath; nor have I ever learned war-postures. As those were false charges against me then, so are these now which come from Major Porter, who is lately appointed to be justice, but formerly wanted power to exercise his cruelty against us; which is but the wickedness of the old enemy. The peace of the nation I am not a disturber of, nor ever was; but I seek the peace of it, and of all men, and stand for all nations' peace, and all men's peace upon the earth, and wish all knew my innocency in these things.
"And whereas Major Porter saith I am an enemy to the King, this is false; for my love is to him and to all men, even though they be enemies to God, to themselves, and to me. And I can say it is of the Lord that the King is come in, to bring down many unrighteously set up; of which I had a sight three years before he came in. It is much Major Porter should say I am an enemy to the King; for I have no reason so to be, he having done nothing against me.
"But I have been often imprisoned and persecuted these eleven or twelve years by those that have been both against the King and his father, even the party by whom Porter was made a major and for whom he bore arms; but not by them that were for the King. I was never an enemy to the King, nor to any man's person upon the earth. I am in the love that fulfils the law, which thinks no evil, but loves even enemies; and would have the King saved, and come to the knowledge of the Truth, and be brought into the fear of the Lord, to receive His wisdom from above, by which all things were made and created; that with that wisdom he may order all things to the glory of God.
"Whereas he calleth me 'A chief upholder of the Quakers' sect,' I answer: The Quakers are not a sect,(see note 160) but are in the power of God, which was before sects were, and witness the election before the world began, and are come to live in the life in which the prophets and apostles lived, who gave forth the Scriptures; therefore are we hated by envious, wrathful, wicked, persecuting men. But God is the upholder of us all by His mighty power, and preserves us from the wrath of the wicked that would swallow us up.
"And whereas he saith that I, together with others of my fanatic opinion, as he calls it, have of late endeavoured to raise insurrections, and to embroil the whole kingdom in blood, I answer, This is altogether false. To these things I am as a child; I know nothing of them. The postures of war I never learned; my weapons are spiritual and not carnal, for with carnal weapons I do not fight. I am a follower of Him who said, 'My kingdom is not of this world,' and though these lies and slanders are raised upon me, I deny drawing any carnal weapon against the King or Parliament, or any man upon the earth. For I am come to the end of the Law, but am in that which saves men's lives. A witness I am against all murderers, plotters, and all such as would imbrue the nation in blood; for it is not in my heart to have any man's life destroyed.
"And as for the word fanatic, which signifies furious, foolish, mad, etc., he might have considered himself before he had used that word, and have learned the humility which goes before honour. We are not furious, foolish, or mad; but through patience and meekness have borne lies, slanders and persecutions many years, and have undergone great sufferings. The spiritual man, that wrestles not with flesh and blood, and the Spirit that reproves sin in the gate, which is the Spirit of Truth, wisdom, and sound judgment, is not mad, foolish, furious, which fanatic signifies; but all are of a mad, furious, foolish spirit that in their furiousness, foolishness and rage wrestle with flesh and blood, with carnal weapons. This is not the Spirit of God, but of error, that persecutes in a mad, blind zeal, like Nebuchadnezzar and Saul.
"Inasmuch as I am ordered to be kept prisoner till I be delivered by order from the King or Parliament, therefore I have written these things to be laid before you, the King and Parliament, that ye may consider of them before ye act anything therein; that ye may weigh, in the wisdom of God, the intent and end of men's spirits, lest ye act the thing that will bring the hand of the Lord upon you and against you, as many who have been in authority have done before you, whom God hath overthrown. In Him we trust whom we fear and cry unto day and night, who hath heard us, doth hear us, and will hear us, and avenge our cause. Much innocent blood hath been shed. Many have been persecuted to death by such as were in authority before you, whom God hath vomited out because they turned against the just. Therefore consider your standing now that ye have the day, and receive this as a warning of love to you.
"From an innocent sufferer in bonds, and close prisoner in Lancaster Castle, called
After this Margaret Fell determined to go to London, to speak with the King about my being taken, and to show him the manner of it, and the unjust dealing and evil usage I had received.(see note 161) When Justice Porter heard of this, he vapoured that he would go and meet her in the gap. But when he came before the King, having been a zealous man for the Parliament against the King, several of the courtiers spoke to him concerning his plundering their houses; so that he quickly had enough of the court, and soon returned into the country.
Meanwhile the jailer seemed very fearful, and said he was afraid Major Porter would hang him because he had not put me in the dark-house. But when the jailer waited on him after his return from London, he was very blank and down, and asked how I did, pretending he would find a way to set me at liberty. But having overshot himself in his mittimus by ordering me "to be kept a prisoner till I should be delivered by the King or Parliament," he had put it out of his power to release me if he would.
He was the more down also upon reading a letter which I sent him; for when he was in the height of his rage and threats against me, and thought to ingratiate himself into the King's favour by imprisoning me, I was moved to write to him and put him in mind how fierce he had been against the King and his party, though now he would be thought zealous for the King.
Among other things in my letter I called to his remembrance that when he held Lancaster Castle for the Parliament against the King, he was so rough and fierce against those that favoured the King that he said he would leave them neither dog nor cat, if they did not bring him provision to the Castle. I asked him also whose great buck's horns were those that were in his house; and whence he had both them and the wainscot with which he ceiled his house; had he them not from Hornby Castle?
About this time Ann Curtis, of Reading, came to see me; and understanding how I stood committed, it was upon her also to go to the King about it. Her father, who had been sheriff of Bristol, was hanged near his own door for endeavouring to bring the King in; upon which consideration she had some hopes the King might hear her on my behalf. Accordingly, when she returned to London, she and Margaret Fell went to the King together; who, when he understood whose daughter she was, received her kindly. Her request to him being to send for me up, and hear the cause himself, he promised her he would; and he commanded his secretary to send an order for bringing me up.
But when they came to the secretary for the order he said it was not in his power; he must go according to law; and I must be brought up by a writ of habeas corpus before the judges. So he wrote to the Judge of the King's Bench, signifying that it was the King's pleasure I should be sent up by a writ of habeas corpus. Accordingly a writ was sent and delivered to the sheriff; but because it was directed to the chancellor of Lancaster the sheriff put it off to him; on the other hand, the chancellor would not make the warrant upon it, but said the sheriff must do that.
At length both chancellor and sheriff were got together; but being both enemies to Truth, they sought occasion for delay, and found an error in the writ, which was that, being directed to the chancellor, it said, "George Fox in prison under your custody," whereas the prison I was in was not in the chancellor's custody, but the sheriff's; so the word your should have been his. Upon this they returned the writ to London again, only to have that one word altered.
When it was altered and brought down again, the sheriff refused to carry me up unless I would seal a writing to him and become bound to pay for the sealing and the charge of carrying me up: which I denied, telling them I would not seal anything.
I was moved also to write to the King to exhort him to exercise mercy and forgiveness towards his enemies and to warn him to restrain the profaneness and looseness that was risen up in the nation upon his return.
"TO THE KING.
"Thou camest not into this nation by sword, nor by victory of war, but by the power of the Lord. Now, if thou dost not live in this power, thou wilt not prosper.
"If the Lord hath showed thee mercy and forgiven thee, and thou dost not show mercy and forgive, God will not hear thy prayers, nor them that pray for thee. If thou dost not stop persecution and persecutors, and take away all laws that hold up persecution about religion; if thou persist in them, and uphold persecution, that will make thee as blind as those that have gone before thee: for persecution hath always blinded those that have gone into it. Such God by his power overthrows, doeth His valiant acts upon, and bringeth salvation to His oppressed ones.
"If thou bear the sword in vain, and let drunkenness, oaths, plays, May-games, as setting up of May-poles, with the image of the crown atop of them, with such like abominations and vanities, be encouraged or go unpunished, the nation will quickly turn like Sodom and Gomorrah, and be as bad as those men of the old world, who grieved the Lord till He overthrew them. So He will overthrow you if these things be not suppressed.
"Hardly ever before has there been so much wickedness at liberty as there is at this day, as though there were no terror nor sword of magistracy. Such looseness doth not grace a government, nor please them that do well. Our prayers are for them that are in authority, that under them we may live a godly life in peace, and that we may not be brought into ungodliness by them. Hear and consider, and do good in thy time, whilst thou hast power; be merciful and forgive; that is the way to overcome and obtain the kingdom of Christ.
It was long before the sheriff would yield to remove me to London unless I would seal a bond to him, and bear the charges; which I still refused to do. Then they consulted how to convey me up, and first concluded to send up a party of horse with me. I told them, "If I were such a man as you have represented me to be, you would have need to send a troop or two of horse to guard me."
When they considered what a charge it would be to them to send up a party of horse with me, they altered their purpose, and concluded to send me up guarded only by the jailer and some bailiffs. But upon farther consideration they found that this also would be a great charge to them, and therefore they sent for me to the jailer's house, and told me that if I would put in bail that I would be in London on such a day of the term, I should have leave to go up with some of my own friends.
I told them I would neither put in bail, nor give one piece of silver to the jailer; for I was an innocent man, - that they had imprisoned me wrongfully, and laid a false charge upon me. Nevertheless, I said, if they would let me go up with one or two of my friends to bear me company, I might go up and be in London on such a day, if the Lord should permit; and if they desired it, I or any of my friends that went with me would carry up their charge against myself.
When they saw they could do no otherwise with me, the sheriff consented that I should come up with some of my friends, without any other engagement than my word, to appear before the judges at London such a day of the term, if the Lord should permit.
Thereupon I was let out of prison, and went to Swarthmore, where I stayed two or three days; and thence went to Lancaster, and so to Preston, having meetings amongst Friends till I came into Cheshire, to William Gandy's, where was a large meeting without doors, the house not being sufficient to contain it. That day the Lord's everlasting Seed, which is the heir of the promise, was set over all, and Friends were turned to it.
Thence I came into Staffordshire and Warwickshire, to Anthony Bickliff's, and at Nuneaton,(see note 162) at a priest's widow's house, we had a blessed meeting, wherein the everlasting Word of life was powerfully declared, and many were settled in it. Then, travelling on, visiting Friends' meetings, in about three weeks' time from my coming out of prison I reached London, Richard Hubberthorn and Robert Withers being with me.
When we came to Charing-Cross, multitudes of people were gathered together to see the burning of the bowels of some of the old King's judges, who had been hanged, drawn and quartered.
We went next morning to Judge Mallet's chamber. He was putting on his red gown to sit in judgment upon some more of the King's judges. He was then very peevish and froward, and said I might come another time.
We went again to his chamber when there was with him Judge Foster, who was called the Lord Chief-Justice of England. With me was one called Esquire Marsh, who was one of the bedchamber to the King. When we had delivered to the judges the charge that was against me, and they had read to those words, "that I and my friends were embroiling the nation in blood," etc., they struck their hands on the table. Whereupon I told them that I was the man whom that charge was against, but I was as innocent of any such thing as a new-born child, and had brought it up myself; and some of my friends came up with me, without any guard.
As yet they had not minded my hat, but now seeing it on, they said, "What, do you stand with your hat on!" I told them I did not so in any contempt of them. Then they commanded it to be taken off; and when they called for the marshal of the King's Bench, they said to him, "You must take this man and secure him; but let him have a chamber, and not be put amongst the prisoners."
"My lord," said the marshal, "I have no chamber to put him into; my house is so full I cannot tell where to provide a room for him but amongst the prisoners."
"Nay," said the judge, "you must not put him amongst the prisoners."
But when the marshal still answered that he had no other place wherein to put me, Judge Foster said to me, "Will you appear to-morrow about ten o'clock at the King's Bench bar in Westminster-Hall?"
I said, "Yes, if the Lord gives me strength."
Then said Judge Foster to the other judge, "If he says Yes, and promises it, you may take his word;" so I was dismissed.
Next day I appeared at the King's Bench bar at the hour appointed, Robert Widders, Richard Hubberthorn, and Esquire Marsh going with me. I was brought into the middle of the court; and as soon as I came in, was moved to look round, and, turning to the people, say, "Peace be among you." The power of the Lord spread over the court.
The charge against me was read openly. The people were moderate, and the judges cool and loving; and the Lord's mercy was to them. But when they came to that part which said that I and my friends were embroiling the nation in blood, and raising a new war, and that I was an enemy to the King, etc., they lifted up their hands.
Then, stretching out my arms, I said, "I am the man whom that charge is against; but I am as innocent as a child concerning the charge, and have never learned any war-postures. And," said I, "do ye think that, if I and my friends had been such men as the charge declares, I would have brought it up myself against myself? Or that I should have been suffered to come up with only one or two of my friends with me? Had I been such a man as this charge sets forth, I had need to be guarded with a troop or two of horse. But the sheriff and magistrates of Lancashire thought fit to let me and my friends come up with it ourselves, nearly two hundred miles, without any guard at all; which, ye may be sure, they would not have done, had they looked upon me to be such a man."
Then the Judge asked me whether it should be filed, or what I would do with it. I answered, "Ye are judges, and able, I hope, to judge in this matter; therefore, do with it what ye will; for I am the man these charges are against, and here ye see I have brought them up myself. Do ye what ye will with them; I leave it to you."
Then, Judge Twisden beginning to speak some angry words, I appealed to Judge Foster and Judge Mallet, who had heard me over-night. Thereupon they said they did not accuse me, for they had nothing against me. Then stood up Esquire Marsh, who was of the King's bedchamber, and told the judges it was the King's pleasure that I should be set at liberty, seeing no accuser came up against me. They asked me whether I would put it to the King and Council. I said, "Yes, with a good will."
Thereupon they sent the sheriff's return, which he had made to the writ of habeas corpus, containing the matter charged against me in the mittimus, to the King, that he might see for what I was committed. The return of the sheriff of Lancaster was as follows:
"By virtue of His Majesty's writ, to me directed, and hereunto annexed, I certify that before the receipt of the said writ George Fox, in the said writ mentioned, was committed to His Majesty's jail at the Castle of Lancaster, in my custody, by a warrant from Henry Porter, Esq., one of His Majesty's justices of peace within the county palatine aforesaid, bearing date the fifth of June now last past; for that he, the said George Fox, was generally suspected to be a common disturber of the peace of this nation, an enemy of our sovereign lord the King, and a chief upholder of the Quakers' sect; and that he, together with others of his fanatic opinion, have of late endeavoured to make insurrections in these parts of the country, and to embroil the whole kingdom in blood. And this is the cause of his taking and detaining. Nevertheless, the body of the said George Fox I have ready before Thomas Mallet, knight, one of His Majesty's justices, assigned to hold pleas before His Majesty, at his chamber in Sergeants' Inn, in Fleet Street, to do and receive those things which his Majesty's said justice shall determine concerning him in this behalf, as by the aforesaid writ is required.
"George Chetham, Esq., Sheriff."
On perusal of this, and consideration of the whole matter, the King, being satisfied of my innocency, commanded his secretary to send an order to Judge Mallet for my release, which he did thus:
"It is his Majesty's pleasure that you give order for releasing, and setting at full liberty the person of George Fox, late a prisoner in Lancaster jail, and commanded hither by an habeas corpus. And this signification of his Majesty's pleasure shall be your sufficient warrant. Dated at Whitehall, the 24th of October, 1660.
"For Sir Thomas Mallet, knight,
one of the justices of the King's Bench."
When this order was delivered to Judge Mallet, he forthwith sent his warrant to the marshal of the King's Bench for my release; which warrant was thus worded:
"By virtue of a warrant which this morning I have received from the Right Honorable Sir Edward Nicholas, knight, one of his Majesty's principal secretaries, for the releasing and setting at liberty of George Fox, late a prisoner in Lancaster jail, and thence brought hither by habeas corpus, and yesterday committed unto your custody; I do hereby require you accordingly to release and set the said prisoner George Fox at liberty: for which this shall be your warrant and discharge. Given under my hand the 25th day of October, in the year of our Lord God 1660.
"To Sir John Lenthal, knight,
marshal of the King's Bench,
or his deputy."
Thus, after I had been a prisoner somewhat more than twenty weeks, I was freely set at liberty by the King's command, the Lord's power having wonderfully wrought for the clearing of my innocency, and Porter, who committed me, not daring to appear to make good the charge he had falsely suggested against me. But, after it was known I was discharged, a company of envious, wicked spirits were troubled, and terror took hold of Justice Porter; for he was afraid I would take the advantage of the law against him for my wrong imprisonment, and thereby undo him, his wife and children. And indeed I was pressed by some in authority to make him and the rest examples; but I said I should leave them to the Lord; if the Lord forgave them I should not trouble myself with them.