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when an informer made his appearance with such a number of informations as would have wronged the accused of 1500l. with abhorrence broke up the court.* This year affords another peculiar instance of the illegal proceedings by which this society were harassed; which, notwithstanding the king's repeated professions of favour towards them, originated with the court. On the 29th of July an order was issued, by the king and council, for demolishing the meeting-house at Horsley-down, Southwark. It was grounded on a pretence, that the persons who assembled in it behaved in a riotous and tumultuous manner, than which charge nothing could be more repugnant to their avowed principles and uniform manners. The pulling down of the building was, by express command, committed to Christopher Wren, esq.; the surveyor-general of his majesty's works. After this order was affixed to the meeting-house, the members. of the society continued their assemblies in it, till it was demolished; they then met upon the rubbish. By this they exposed themselves to repeated outrages and cruel abuses from the military, into whose hands was put the despotic treatment of this assembly, and who, at one assault, sorely, bruised and wounded twenty, at a second thirty, and at a third more than fifty persons. When the soldiers were reprehended for their cruelty; some of them answered, "If you knew what orders we have, you would say we dealt mercifully with you." Others, being asked, How can you deal thus with a people that have love and good-will to all men, and make no resistance or opposition? replied; "We had rather, and it would be better for us, if they did resist and oppose." This was looked upon by the sufferers, as if they sought occasion to embrue their hands more deeply in blood, and take the lives and estates of honest people for their prey. At length these military violations of the peace of the city roused the civil officers to interpose their authority; but it was too weak to protect this unarmed body against the number of armed men let loose upon them. These proceedings of the soldiers having been represented to the king and council, a temporary cessation of these cruelties was procured, but they were not wholly discontinued. A building at Ratcliffe, belonging to this society, was subjected to the like violence with that of Horsley-down, * Gough's History, vol. 2. p. 316-318.
and on the 2d of September, without any legal process, was demolished. On that day and the night following, twelve cartloads of doors, windows, and floors, with other materials, were carried away. Some of the materials were sold on the spot for money and strong drink. Thus grievous sufferings, exorbitant spoil, and illegal depredation, were the lot of an inoffensive and peaceable class of subjects. These evils were inflicted by those whose duty it was to protect the rights and property of the subject, even by officers under government.*
While these calamities awaited the general body of this people on account of their conscientious profession, it is to be supposed, that the more active and distinguished members of the society were peculiar marks for prejudice and malignity. Of this the history of the Quakers furnishes many examples, which we must not pass over unnoticed, though our limits will not allow us to go into a minute detail of each case.
George Fox, eminent for his activity and zeal in disseminating his principles, was among the first who, after the restoration of Charles II. and for some years, felt the rage of bigotry. In 1660 he was apprehended by a warrant from Mr. Henry Porter, the mayor of Lancaster, at the house of Margaret Fell at Swaithmore, and carried to Ulverston, where he was guarded for the night by fifteen or sixteen men, some of whom kept sentry at the chimney, for fear he should escape by that passage; “so darkened,” observes the historian, “ were they by superstitious imaginations.” Next morning he was escorted, with abusive and contumelious treatment, to Lancaster, and brought before the mayor, who committed him to prison ; refused bail; and denied him a copy of the mittimus. Two friends having however been permitted to read it, he published an immediate reply to the charges, which they reported to him it contained. Application was made to the king for a habeas corpus to remove him to London, and was obtained. In consequence of this writ, though his persecutors, for two months, obstructed the operation of it, he presented himself in the court of King's-bench; the justices, being dispassionate and favourable, caused the sheriff's return of the habeas corpus to be laid before the king, who, when
* Gough, vol. 2. p. 341--35%.
Fox had suffered for more than twenty weeks an unjust and severe imprisonment, gave directions for his release. His enemies, on his obtaining his liberty, were filled with vexation and fear, as they were conscious of the illegality of their proceedings; and he was advised, by some in authority, to inake the mayor and the rest examples: but he meekly replied, “I shall leave them to the Lord; if he forgive them, I shall trouble myself no farther about them."*
On occasion of rumours of a conspiracy set on foot in the north among the republicans and separatists, warrants were again issued out, in 1663, to apprehend George Fox; as he was on his tour through the northern counties, he was not met with; but at length, finding that they con. tinued their pursuit, he resolved to stand his ground, and was apprehended; when no evidence could be produced to justify committing him on the pretended plot, the justices contented themselves with his engaging to appear at the sessions: be appeared at it, but finding no grounds to effect their purpose, either upon the plot, or the act against meetings, they committed him, for refusing the oath of allegiance, to a very incommodious room in Lancaster-castle, where he was kept close prisoner till after the spring assizes 1665; after that he was removed to Scarborough-castle, .where he was detained upwards of a year longer; when finding means to have his case laid before the king, he soon after obtained his release, having suffered an arbitrary and very rigorous imprisonment of more than three years.t At Lancaster, he was locked up in a smoky tower, sometimes so filled with smoke that a burning candle was scarcely visible, and so open as to admit the rain in upon his bed. The room allotted to him in Scarborough-castle was little better, if not worse; and when, at his own expense, he had made it tolerable, he was removed into another room, without chimney or fire-place, and so open to the sea-side, that the rain, violently driven by the wind, poured into the
A sentinel was placed at his door; few or none of his friends were permitted to visit him, or even to bring him food; but numbers of others were admitted in to gaze upon him, or dispute with him. His removal from one
* Gough's History, vol. 1. p. 432-439.
Ibid. p. 152, 153.
prison to another, when he was in a very weak condition, was attended with a treatment in many respects uncivil and rude. To the rigour and hardships of his imprisonment were added, to terrify him, the frequent menaces of his keepers. The deputy-governor once told him, “that the king, knowing he had a great interest in the people, had sent him thither, that if there should be any stirring in the nation, they should hang him over the wall." He replied to this menace, "If that was what they desired, and it was permitted them, he was ready, for he never feared death or sufferings in his life; but was known to be an innocent, peaceable man, free from stirrings and plottings, and one that sought the good of all men." His patience surmounted the hardships to which he was exposed; and his innocence pleading in his favour, his keepers at length relaxed their severity, and treated him with favour and respect. When, on obtaining his release, Mr. Fox offered an acknowledg ment for his late civility and kindness to the governor of Scarborough-castle, he refused it; adding, "whatever good he could do him or his friends, he would do it, and never do them any hurt." His consequent conduct made good this promise, for it was ever favourable to the Quakers.*
Mrs. Margaret Fell, who had been a widow about two years, in 1660 was, in a degree, involved in the severe proceedings against Fox; for, that they might lay hold of him, they forcibly entered and searched her house; of this she complained in an appeal to the public, as an injury offered to herself, and a violation of the liberty of the subject.+ In the year 1663, this lady, the widow of a judge and a woman of estate, was cited before the justices, and questioned about keeping meetings at her house, and the oath of allegiance was tendered to her; on which she expostulated with them, that as "they knew she could not swear, why should they send for her from her own house and her lawful affairs to insnare her?" adding, "What have I done?" This remonstrance, for the instant, impressed their minds, and they declared they would not urge the oath, if she would not keep meetings at her house. To this proposal she magnanimously replied," she would not deny her faith + Ibid. vol. 1. p. 435, 436.
*Gough, vol. 2. p. 150-156.
Mr. Gough properly remarks on this proposal, that it was a plain confession, that the tender of the oath was a mere pretext to be vexatious to the subject, an arbitrary measure assumed for the mere purpose of persecution.
and principles for any thing they could do against her, and while it should please the Lord to let her have a house, she would endeavour to worship him in it.” On this the oath was tendered, and on her refusal, she was committed to Lancaster-castle, a prison then crowded with numbers of the same profession, and the state of which heightened the evil of confinement. Here she was detained till next year.*
When, in the month of August, she was, at the assizes, brought to her trial on the same account, she persevered in refusing the oath, and answered the judge with good sense and pious intrepidity. Her counsel was admitted to plead an arrest of judgment, after the jury gave a verdict against her, and found several errors in the indictment, but they were not admitted by the judge, and sentence of premunire was passed upon her. She remained in prison twenty months, before she could obtain liberty to go to her own house, which she procured for a little time, and returned to prison again, where she continued about four years, till released by an order of the king and council.+
Another of the society of Quakers, whose sufferings are recorded in a distinct narrative, was their noted preacher, Mr. Francis Howgill. This respectable man, as he was in the market-place at Kendal on his lawful business, was summoned before the magistrates then sitting in a tavern ; who tendered him the oath of allegiance, and, on his conscientious refusal of it, committed him to prison till the next month. At the spring assizes of 1663, the oath was again administered unto him, and on his refusal, an indictment was drawn up against him, which he traversed. A bond for his good behaviour till his trial came on being required of him, he suffered himself to be recommitted to prison rather than give it, as he apprehended it would be a tacit acknowledgment of past ill-behaviour, and his attendance at meetings in the mean time, which a sense of duty would not suffer him to neglect, would be interpreted as a breach of engagement. I As he was going to the prison he turned to the people, and uttered this devout wish, “ The fear of God be among you all.” And the people generally appeared very affectionate to him, and pitied his hard cir* Gough, vol. 2. p. 29, &c.
# Ibid. p. 31, 32.