Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

cumstance ;* while the justices of Westmoreland endea. voured to prepossess the judge and court against him by invidious reflections on him and the society, and by the weight of their united influence and enmity.

At the summer assizes he was again brought to the bar. Modesty, equanimity, good sense, sober reasoning, and deep impressions of religion, marked his conduct at both assizes, and appear to have softened the steroness of his judges. The sentence which confiscated his lands to the king during his life, and his goods and chattels for ever, and consigned him to prison for the rest of his days, was however passed upon him; the judge, it was observed, pronounced it with a faint and low voice, as if he was sensible that this man was greatly wronged, and that himself did not entirely approve of the sentence he was passing.t “In mistaken zeal for religion (our historian remarks), the plainest rules of morality are violated, and in forcing uniformity in unessential points, the substantial parts, mercy, justice, and truth, are obliterated.”

The case of Hannah Trigg, on account of the singular severity of it, deserves particular mention. She was one of twelve Quakers who received sentence of transportation, being tried and convicted on a bill of indictment preferred against them for the third offence. The circumstance which particularly marked the tyranny and illegality of the treatment of this young woman was, that she was not sixteen years of age, and the certificate of her birth was arbitrarily rejected by the justices. After sentence she sickened in Newgate, and died there. The unfeeling inhumanity, which was insatiate with her life, was extended to her corpse. Her relations were deprived of the consolation of interring her as they desired, but she was carried to the burying-place of the felons; and when the bearers came to the ground, finding no grave made, they left the corpse unburied, saying they would make a grave next morning. The girl's mother attending the funeral, had the grief and anguish to behold this treatment of her daughter's remains in silent sorrow, without the power of remedy. I

The sufferings also of Joseph Fuce, a man of patient and meek spirit, and very laborious as a preacher, who died in Gouglı, vol. 2. p. 100. + Ibid. p. 108.

Ibid. p. 127.

[ocr errors]

the White-Lion prison in Southwark in 1665, should not pass unnoticed. In 1660, being at a meeting at Deal, he with twenty-three others, was seized by several armed men, and being committed to Sandown-castle, they were kept there several nights and days, their friends not being allowed to bring them either food to eat or straw to lie on. He and another were afterward removed to Dover-castle, and with five others of their friends were locked up in one room, from which they were permitted no egress, not even for the necessities of nature, nor were their friends allowed any access to them; and the servant of the marshal, for shewing them some little favour, was dismissed from his place. Joseph Fuce remonstrating, when an opportunity offered, on the cruel usage they received, was answered with a volley of oaths and execrations. His pious ears being wounded with this profaneness, he bore his testimony against it by a serious reproof. The marshal at this, exasperated to rage, caused him to be dragged headlong down several stone steps into a dungeon, overrun with filth and with vermin, into which no light or air. could enter, but by some holes cut in the door. He was kept there two days and two nights, without fire, candle, straw, or any thing to lie on but an old blanket. When he had obtained some straw, for want of air, through the damp and stench of his dismal lodging, he fell sick; and after nine days' confinement, as he seemed at the point of death, the fear of being questioned for murdering him, moved the marshal to remove him, and to permit him to return to his fellow-prisoners, with whom he continued several months till released by the king's proclamation.*

Neither the calamities to which the society of Quakers were exposed, nor the sufferings which with peculiar severity were felt by some of its most eminent and worthy members, could damp the ardour of their zeal in defending their cause and disseminating their principles, but served to call forth their vigorous exertions. Margaret Fell, on the apprehension of George Fox, published a brief narrative of that violent proceeding, and took a journey to London to lay the case before the king, requesting his favourable interposition, “ to cause him

to be removed to London, and hear his cause himself;" in which suit she was heard.t * Cough, vol. 2. p. 143.-145.

# Ibid. vol. 1. p. 435-437.

[ocr errors]

When, in consequence of the insurrection of the fifth-monarchy men, many of the Quakers, without crimination, without conviction, were violently haled to prison, in addition to the endeavours used for their relief, by publishing and presenting to the king, a declaration from that people against all sedition, plotters, fighters, &c. the same lady several times waited personally upon the king to solicit his indulgence and protection for them: at her first admission she signified to him, “they were an innocent, peaceable. people, who did no injury, and administered no occasion of offence, except in keeping up their religious meetings, for no other purpose than worshipping God in that way they were persuaded was most acceptable to him, and edifying, one another in his fear; which being to them a conscientious matter of duty to God, they could not violate it, in compliance with the ordinances or laws of man, whatever they suffered.” In consequence of her applications and the declaration above mentioned, the king sent out a proclamation, “forbidding soldiers to search any house without a constable.” At length he was prevailed upon to issue out a declaration, ordering “the Quakers to be set at liberty without paying the fees."* Burrough, Hubberthorn, and

' Whitehead, among others, were active advocates for their suffering brethren. They attended parliament to solicit against the bill, brought in in 1661, passing into an act. Burrough presented to the king and council in the same year a paper,' entitled, “ A just and righteous Plea,” re

A presenting their sentiments respecting oaths, and their established religious principle,“ to enter into no plots, combinations, or rebellion, against government; nor to seek deliverance from injustice or oppression by any such means.” In this he was seconded by Hubberthorn and Whitehead, who with ability and spirit entered into a vindication of the religious meetings of their society.f Two letters, about this time, were addressed to the king, remonstrating on the. countenance given to profane shows and sports, and the encouragement afforded to prosecutors, and boldly reproving his majesty for his personal conduct. The one was

. written by George Fox the elder, so called for distinction, as the elder brother of the society, the other was drawn up. by George Fox the younger. They afford a specimen, as * Gougl, vol. 1. p. 455, 456.

+ Ibid. p. 500-505.

[ocr errors]

а

[ocr errors]

the historian observes, “ of the honest plain dealing of men, who, with Elihu, knew not to flatter, lest in so doing their Maker should take them away.” When the last of the two letters was delivered to the king, he seemed considerably affected with the contents. His brother, the duke of York, whose temper was more gloomy, reserved, and vindictive, being greatly exasperated with the writer, ad. vised the king to punish him; but, with much propriety, he replied, " It were better for us to mend our lives.”* These epistles of the Foxes, however, left no permanent impression on the royal mind. In the year 1662, the universal rage against the peaceable society of the Quakers left them unmolested in few or no parts of the nation. On this George Fox again addressed the king on behalf of the suffering friends, and stated, that since his restoration three thousand and sixty-eight had been imprisoned, and a narrative signed by twelve witnesses was printed, which represented that the number of men and women then in prison amounted to upwards of four thousand and two hundred. Humanity revolts at the circumstances of cruelty with which the members of this society were treated at this time; when their meetings were broken up by men with clubs, they them

were thrown into the water, and trampled under foot till the blood gushed out.† Among other endeavours that George Fox used to remove suspicion and soften enmity, was 'a paper which he wrote in 1663, as a testimony against all plots and conspiracies whatever; to admonish his friends to circumspection in their words and actions, and not to meddle in any civil commotions : copies of which he dispersed through the northern counties, and sent one to the king and council. I

Others of this society, besides George Fox, took up their pens in the cause of their innocent and oppressed brethren. When the conventicle-act was passed in 1664, George Whitehead published a piece to expose the severity of the persecutors, to exculpate his friends from the charge of obstinacy, to strengthen their steadfastness, and to remonstrate on the unequal and arbitrary manner in which the judges enforced the act. Another remonstrance was also published about the same time, by Josiah Coale, against perse,

* Googh, vol. 1. p. 510. 513. + Ibid. p. 538. Ibid. vol. 2. p. 25.

[ocr errors]

cution, addressed to the king and both houses of parlia

ment.*

In the year 1666 the cause of the Quakers began to derive great support and credit from the abilities and virtues of the celebrated William Penn, who in that year joined their society, and became one of its most eminent advocates and ornaments. His pen was soon employed in its defence. His first piece was entitled, “ The Sandy Foundation shaken.” This gave great offence to some powerful ecclesiastics, and it was answered by an accustomed mode of reply, namely, an order for imprisoning him.

He was closely confined seven months in the Tower, and denied the visits of his friends. This precluded him from his ministerial labours: but several treatises were the fruits of his solitude, particularly one of great note, entitled, “ No Cross, no Crown;" in which, Dr. Henry More observed, “ Mr. Penn has treated the subject of a future life and the immortality of the soul, with a force and spirit equal to most writers:'+

The first of the above pieces was occasioned by a particular circumstance which called on the Quakers to vindicate themselves in a public disputation. Mr. Thomas Vincent, a Presbyterian minister of eminent piety, and who distinguished himself by his ministerial labours in the time of the plague, but whose zeal in this instance misled him, had, on two of his hearers going to the Quakers' meetings, indulged himself in invectives from the pulpit against that people, and in a licence of expression beyond the bounds of Christian moderation and common decency. This reaching the ears of some of those at whom they were cast, they demanded of him a public meeting to vindicate themselves from his severe reflections, or to give him an opportunity to support them by proof, to which, after some demur, Mr. Vincent agreed. Before the hour appointed the house was filled with his own hearers and partisans, and he was accompanied by three other Presbyterian ministers, as his assistants; Mr. Thomas Dawson, Mr. Thomas Doolittle, and Mr. William Maddocks. George Whitehead and William Penn, on the side of their friends, attended to his charges against the Quakers. Instead of bringing them Gough, vol. 2. p. 115.

† British Biography, vol. 7. p. 138.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »