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joined the Quakers, and, though a youth, was a pathetic preacher and able disputant, and discovered the wisdom and understanding of age and experience, afforded most affecting instances of the severities a cruel jailer could inflict. His constitution was tender, and after ten or eleven months sunk under the multiplied bardships of his imprisonment, about the age of nineteen; the consideration of his youth exciting no commiseration.*
Besides the personal injuries these virtuous people suffered, they were exposed to great depredations in their property, by unreasonable fines and exorbitant distraints, especially on account of tithes: into the detail of which we have not room to descend. Suffice it to say, that in 1659, where 531. 138. 6d. only could be demanded, 1381. were exacted.
To sum up this view of their sufferings, it may be observed, that when a printed account of them was presented to the parliament which the protector convened, it appeared that one hundred and forty of them were then in prison ; and of one thousand nine hundred who had suffered in the preceding six years, twenty-one had died in prison, generally by hardship or by violent abuses. I
It is to be remarked, that they supported themselves under severe persecution, with meekness, patience, and fortitude,
as lambs dumb before their shearers :' and there were not wanting instances of their being so borne up by inward consolation and peace, by faith and hope in their amictions, as frequently to sing praises to God, to the astonishment of the spectators and of their fellow-prisoners.
While they were exposed to hatred, contempt, and abuse, from without, brotherly kindness and unfeigned charity increased, and connected them amongst themselves. While each seemed regardless of his own liberty, they were zealous advocates for that of their brethren, and almost incessant in their representations to those in authority of the sufferings of their friends; going so far in their charity, as to offer themselves freely, person for person, to lie in prison, instead of such as they apprehended were in danger of perishing through the length or extremity of their confinement. $
Gough's History, vol. 1. p. 180--188. + Ibid. p. 284. # Ibid. p. 274.
♡ Ibid. p. 140. 175, 176.
· This mutual and generous attachment was amiable: their moral conduct was regular: and their conscientious regard to fidelity in their commerce begat confidence. They were careful to manufacture or choose such goods as were substantial, and would answer the expectations of the purcha. sers; moderate in their profits; sparing in their commendations; punctual in their payments; they asked no more for their ware than the precise sum they were determined to accept; and they took no advantage of ignorance. So that, under all their sufferings, they prospered, and verified the proverb, that“ Honesty is the best policy."*
It was also a distinguishing trait in the character of this people, that they attached themselves to none of the political parties of the day, nor entered into their ambitious views. It was with them a principle of religion to have no intermeddling with secular factions, and to demean themselves quietly and peaceably under the existing government. When the nation was in great commotion and fluctuation, on the death of Cromwell, George Fox addressed an exhortation to his friends “ to live in love and peace with all men, to keep clear of all the commotions of the world, and not to intermeddle with the powers of the earth, but to let their conversation be in heaven.” He remarked, that “all who pretend to fight for Christ are deceived, for his kingdom is not of this world, and therefore his servants do not fight.” When sir George Booth rose in arms in favour of the exiled monarch, the committee of safety invited the Quakers to take up arms, offering considerable posts and commands to some of them. But they esteemed war and violence to be inconsistent with pure Christianity, and were not to be eorrupted by the prospects of preferment and honours.
Unassisted by any alliance with the state, nay, treated with severity by all the contending powers in their turn, and every where pursued with contempt and cruel abuse, they increased, and spread themselves over the kingdom. In the year 1652, meetings of them were settled in many of the central and northern parts of the nation. Their preachers were zealous and active; not intimidated by sufferings, nor wearied by journeys and labours. Francis Howgill and Edward Burroughs, with Anthony Pearson, travelled to London; John Cam and John Audland to Bristol; Richard * Gough's History, vol. 1. p. 141.
+ Ibid. p. 273, 274. 277.
Hubberthorn and George Whitehead, to Norwich ; and others to other parts. And we find George Fox disseminating their principles, and meeting the severest sufferings, in the remotest parts of the kingdom. The evils which this people endured with singular meekness and patience, had great effect in awakening attention to their preaching, and softening the minds of numbers to the reception of their doctrine. It was justly remarked by Hugh Peters to Oliver Cromwell, “ that he could not give George Fox a better opportunity of spreading his principles in Cornwall, than by imprisoning bim there."'.
The instances of the persecution and sufferings they endured, which we have selected, for we do not pretend to give their history in a minute detail, reflect disgrace on the magistracy of the age: and are a reproach to the administration of justice. But the mayor of Oxford, in the year 1654, deserves to be mentioned as an example of a more equitable and humane disposition. Elizabeth Heavens and Elizabeth Fletcher, two north-country women, were apprehended and sent to Bocardo, a prison usually appropriated to the reception of felons and murderers, for having exborted the people, after service, in one of the churches. The mayor being sent for to meet the justices, by whose order they had been committed, to examine the Quakers, he replied to the message, “Let them who committed them deal with them according to law, for my part I have nothing against them : if they wanted food, money, or clothes, I would willingly supply them.” The justices however met, attended by Dr. Owen the vice-chancellor, who was the principal in examining them; and the sentence passed on them was, that they should be whipped out of the city. This sentence, according to the constitution of the town, was not valid without the signature and seal of the mayor: which, as he judged it unmerited and unjust, he refused to asfix to it. But by the order of the vice-chancellor and his coadjutors, it was severely executed without being legalized by his sanction: though the conviction of their innocence affected even the heart of the executioner to that degree, that he performed his office with manifest reluctance.t
* Gough's History, vol. 1, p. 217.
+ These women had, a few days before, for exhorling the inhabitants and students to repeulauce, been pumped on by the scholars of St. John's college, till they were almost suffocated : they were then tied arm to arm, and dragged up and down the college, and through a pool of water : and Elizabeth Fletcher, a young woman, was thrown over a grave, whereby she received a contusion on her side, from which she never recovered, but soon after died. Yet it does not appear that the magistrates animadverted on this inhuman outrage.--Gough's History, vol. 1. p. 147-149.
Another more remarkable and more public instance of protection and justice, which this people were so happy as once to receive in those times, reflects honour on the name of general Monk. On a complaint against some of his soldiers for disturbing their meetings, he issued out this order:
“ St. James's, March 9, 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.
George Monk.”* I am sensible, that wild flights of rudeness and enthusiasm, that violations of decency, decorum, and order, are imputed to the Quakers at this period. Mosheim stigmatizes them as“ pernicious fanatics," and speaks, as it were with approbation, of their being "severely chastised for their extravagance and folly." But granting the justness of these imputations, which I conceive, however, are by no means to be admitted in all instances and to their full extent, and will scarcely apply to those cases of suffering which we have stated; every equitable and humane mind will feel indignant at seeing folly illegally chastised, and enthusiastic extravagances restrained by acts of cruelty. Extravagance and folly rank almost with wisdom and virtue, when compared with the injustice and inhumanity of the magistrates from whom the Quakers suffered persecution.
The society of those called Quakers considered the restoration of Charles II. as a signal instance of the interposition of Providence, to restore peace and order to a distracted nation: and soon after he was placed on the throne, Mr. Richard Huberthorn obtained access to the king, and stated the excessive sufferings which his friends had sustained, and under which they were still smarting. The king entered into free conversation with him on the principles of the Quakers, and promised them his protection': saying, “Of this you may be assured, that you shall none of
, you suffer for your opinions or religion, so long as you live peaceably, and you have the word of a king for it; and I
* Ibid. p. 279.
have also given forth a declaration to the same purpose, that none shall wrong or abuse you."*
This assurance raised in their minds the encouraging expectation of not being molested in their religious worship and profession. Better times than they had hitherto experienced appeared to be opening upon them. Their meetings were large and quiet. Numbers, drawn by curiosity, or better motives, flocked to them, and embraced their sentiments; but this calm was of no long duration ; and they soon found that the word of a king could be a delusive ground of dependance. Venner's insurrection brought on them new and severe persecution ; though they were, by the dying testimony of the sufferers at their execution, exculpated from all knowledge of the design. Their meetings were broken up by soldiers. Their persons were abused by the populace. Their houses were ransacked. They were forced from their employments, and cast into jails among felons, who rifled them of their money and clothes. And even the sick were dragged out of their beds to prisons; one of whom, Mr. Patchen, a man of considerable estate, being in a fever, died there.t
This persecution was not confined to the city of London, but spread with similar violence over all or most parts of the nation. They were, without conviction, without crimination, without any legal cause, violently haled to prison, and crowded together in close, damp, or unwholesome rooms, in such numbers, as almost to the danger of suffocation. In Bristol, near one hundred and ninety were imprisoned. In Lancaster were two hundred and seventy prisoners : in Westmoreland, one hundred and sixteen : in the West-riding of Yorkshire were not fewer than two hundred and twenty-nine; and the number in the North-riding amounted to a hundred and twenty-six. And the treatment which they received in prison was generally as cruel as the commitment was unjust.
When the members of this society had cleared themselves from the imputation of being parties in Venner's insurrection, they were proceeded against on new grounds; and old laws, made in the reigns of Henry VIII. and queen Elizabeth, were revived and made rules for proceeding against Gough's History, vol. 1. p. 440.
# Ibid. p. 441. 415. # Ibid. p. 446-451.