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again ; and in his life gave us dominion over all the evil spirits that opposed us there.
We landed at LIVERPOOL, and went to Richard Johnson's. Whence departing the next day, we passed to William Barnes's house, and so to William Gandy's, visiting Friends, and having many precious meetings in LANCASHIRE and CHESHIRE. When we came into GLOUCESTERSHIRE, wę met with a report at NAILSWORTH, which was spread about that country, " that George Fox was turned Presbyterian ; that they had prepared a pulpit for him, and set it in a yard, and that there would be a thousand people there the next day to hear him.” I thought it strange that such a report should be raised of me; yet as we went further, from one Friend's house to another, we met with the same. We passed by the yard where the pulpit was, and saw it, and went on to the place where Friends' meeting was to be next day, and there we stayed that night. Next day, being First-day, we had a very large meeting, and the Lord's power
presence were amongst us.
The occasion of this strange report (as I was informed) was this. There was one John Fox, a Presbyterian priest, who used to go about preaching; and some changing his name (as was reported) from John to George, gave out that George Fox had changed his religion, and was turned from a Quaker to be a Presbyterian, and would preach at such a place such a day. This begot so great a curiosity in the people, that many went thither to hear this Quaker turned Presbyterian, who would not have gone to hear John Fox himself. By this means, it was reported, they had got together above a thousand people. But when they came there, and perceived they had a trick put upon them, and that he was but a counterfeit George Fox, and understood that the real George Fox was hard by, several hundreds of them came to our meeting, and were sober and attentive. I directed them to the grace of God in themselves, which would teach them, and bring them salvation. When the meeting was over, some of the people said, “ they liked George Fox the Quaker's preaching better than George Fox the Presbyterian's." Thus, by my providential coming into those parts at that time, was this false report discovered; and shame came over the contrivers of it.
Not long after this, John Fox was complained of in the House of Commons, for “having a tumultuous meeting, in which treasonable words were spoken;" which (according to the best informat I could get of it) was thus :-He had formerly been priest of Mansfield in Wiltshire; and being put out of that place, was afterwards permitted by a Common-Prayer priest to preach sometimes in his steeple-louse. At length this Presbyterian priest, presuming too far upon the parish priest's former grant, began to be more bold than welcome, and attempted to preach there, whether the parish priest would or not. This caused a great bustle and contest in the steeple-house between the two priests, and their learers, on each side; in which contest the Common-Prayer-Book was cut to pieces, and some treasonable words were spoken by some of the followers of John Fox. This was quickly put in the news: and some malicious Presbyterians caused it to be worded as if it had proceeded from George Fox the Quaker, when I was above two hundred miles from the place where this bustle happened. When I heard of it, I soon procured certificates from some of the members of the House of Commons, who knew this John Fox, and gave it under their hands, that it was John Fox, who had formerly been parson of Mansfield in Wiltshire, that was complained of to the House of Commons, to be the chief ringleader in that unlawful assembly.
And indeed this John Fox discovered himself to be an ill man; for when some, who had been his followers, came to be convinced of truth, and thereupon left him, he came to some of their houses to talk with them about it, and they telling him, " he was in the steps of the false prophets, preaching for hire and filthy lucre, like them whom Christ cried woe against, and the apostles declared against, such as served not the Lord Jesus Christ, but their own bellies; and telling him also, Christ said, “freely ye have received, freely give;' and therefore he should not take money of people for preaching, especially now times were so hard;" he replied, "God bless preaching, for that brings in money, let times go how they will. Fill my belly with good victuals; and then call me false prophet, or what you will
, and kick me about the house when ye have done, if ye will.” This relation I had from a man and his wife, who had been formerly his hearers, and whom this John Fox, with others, caused deeply to suffer. For he and some other Presbyterian priests, using to resort to a widow-woman's house, who had the impropriation, and took the tithes of the parish, she told them, there was a Quaker in that parish that would not pay her tithes, and asked what she should do with him. They advised her "to send workmen to cut down and carry away his corn;" which she did, and thereby impoverished
But to proceedAfter this meeting in Gloucestershire was over, we travelled till we came to BRISTOL; where I met with Margaret Fell, who was come to visit her daughter Yeomans. I had seen from the Lord a considerable time before, that I should take Margaret Fell to be wife, And when I first mentioned it to her, she felt the answer of Life from God thereunto. But though the Lord had opened this thing to me, yet I had not received a command from the Lord for the accomplishing of it then. Wherefore I let the thing rest, and went on in the work and service of the Lord as before, according as he led me; travelling up and down in this nation, and through Ireland. But now being at Bristol, and finding Margaret Fell there, it opened in me from the Lord, that the thing should be accomplished. After we had discoursed the matter together, I told her, “if she also was satisfied with the accomplishing of it now, she should first send for her children;" which she did. When the rest of her daughters were come, I asked both them and her sons-in-law, “if they had anything against it, or for it;" and they all severally expressed their satisfaction therein. Then I asked Mar. garet,“ if she had fulfilled and performed her husband's will to her children.” She replied, “ the children knew that.” Whereupon I asked them, "whether, if their mother married, they should not lose by it ?" And I asked Margaret, "whether she had done anything in lieu of it, which might answer it to the children ?" The children said, “she had answered it to them,
and desired me to speak no more of it. I told them, “I was plain, and would have all things done plainly; for I sought not any outward advantage to myself.” So after I had thus acquainted the children with it, our intention of marriage was laid before Friends, both privately and publicly, to their full satisfaction, many of whom gave testimony thereunto that it was of God. Afterwards, a meeting being appointed for the accomplishing thercof, in the meeting-house at Broad-Mead in Bristol, we took each other, the Lord joining us together in the honourable marriage, in the everlasting covenant and immortal Seed of life. In the sense whereof, living and weighty testimonies were borne thereunto by Friends, in the movings of the heavenly power which united us together. Then was a certificate, relating both the proceedings and the marriage, openly read, and signed by the relations, and by most of the ancient Friends of that city, besides many others from divers parts of the nation.*
We stayed about a wcek in Bristol, and then went together to OLDSTONE; where taking leave of each other in the Lord, we parted, betaking ourselves to our several services, Margaret returning homewards to the north, and I passing on in the work of the Lord, as before. I travelled through WILTSHIRE, BERKSHIRE, OXFORDSHIRE, and BUCKINGHAMSHIRE, and so to LONDON, visiting Friends ; in all which counties I had many large and precious meetings.
Being in London, it came upon me to write to Friends throughout the nation, about " putting out poor children to trades." Wherefore I sent the following epistle to the quarterly meetings of Friends in all counties :
“MY DEAR FRIENDS, “Let every quarterly meeting make inquiry through all the monthly and other mcetings, to know all Friends that are widows, or others, that have children fit to put out to apprenticeships ; so that once a quarter you may set forth an apprentice from your quarterly meeting; and so you may set forth four in a year in each county, or more, if there be occasion. This
* The date of the marriage of George Fox and Margarct Fell, in the Bristol Register of Friends, is 27th of 8th Month, 1669.
Margaret Fell, it will be remembered, was the widow of Judge Fell of Swarthmore Hall. It is remarkable with what high estecin and Christian love this devoted woman appears to have been regarded by our early and most eminent Friends. She seems to have been generally acknowledged as a faithful nursing-mother of the flock; and she often addressed them, when in bonds or otherwise, with letters of consolation and cncouragement. (See numerous letters to and from her in Barclay's Letters, &c., of Early Friends). It is also probable she contributed largely from her means to the relief of their outward necessities. Having faithfully fulfilled her allotted labours, she died much beloved and lamented, at her own house at Swarthmore, in 1702, being near the eighty-eighth year of her age, and having survived George Fox about twelve years.
Some remarkable expressions of assured happiness fell from her lips during her last illness, if that could be called an illness, which was the decay of nature. time, under the meltings of heavenly love, she said, “Oh my sweet Lord! into thy holy bosom do I commit inyself freely; vot desiring to live in this troublesome, pain. ful world—it is all nothing to me—for my Maker is my husband.” A little before her departure she called her daughter Rachel to her, saying, "Take me in thy arms" -after which she said, “I am in peace!"
apprentice, when out of his time, may help his father or mother, and support the family that is decayed; and in so doing, all may come to live comfortably. This being done in your quarterly meetings, ye will have knowledge through the county in the monthly and particular meetings, of masters fit for them, and of such trades as their parents or you desire, or the children are most inclinable to. Thus being placed out with Friends, they may be trained up in truth; and by this means in the wisdom of God, you may preserve Friends' children in the truth, and enable them to be a strength and help to their families, and nursers and preservers of their relations in their ancient days. Thus also things being ordered in the wisdom of God, you will take off a continual maintenance, and free yourselves from much cumber. For in the country, ye know, ye may set forth an apprentice for a little to several trades, as bricklayers, masons, carpenters, whcelrights, ploughwrights, tailors, tanners, curriers, blacksmiths, shoemakers, nailers, butchers, weavers of linen and woollen, stuffs and serges, &c. And you may do well to have a stock in your quarterly meetings for that purpose. All that is given by any Friends at their decease (except it be given to some particular use, person, or meeting), may be brought to the public stock for that purpose. This will be a way for the preserving of many that are poor among you, and it will be a way of making up poor families. In several counties it is practised already. Some quarterly meetings set forth two apprentices; and sometimes the children of others that are laid on the parish. You may bind them for fewer or more years, according to their capacities. In all these things the wisdom of God will teach you, by which ye may come to help the children of poor Friends, that they may come to support their families, and preserve them in the fear of God. So no more, but my love in the everlasting Seed, by which ye will have wisdom to order all things to the glory of God.”
G. F. London, 1st of 11th Month, 1669.
I stayed not long in LONDON; but having visited Friends, and finding things there quiet and well, the Lord's power being over all, I passed into Essex, and HERTFORDSHIRE, where I had many precious meetings. Intending to go as far as LEICESTERSHIRE, I wrote a letter to my wife, before I left London, to acquaint her therewith, that if she found it convenient to her she might meet me there. From Hertfordshire I turned into CAMBRIDGESTIRE, thence into HUNTINGDONSHIRE, and so into LEICESTERSHIRE ; where, instead of meeting with my wife, I heard that she was haled out of her house to Lancaster prison again, by an order obtained from the king and council, to fetch her back to prison upon the old premunire; though she had been discharged from that imprisonment by their order the year before. Wherefore, having visited Friends as far as Leicestershire, I returned by DERBYSHIRE into WARWICKSHIRE, and so to LONDON, having had many large and blessed meetings in the several counties I passed through, and been sweetly refreshed amongst Friends in my travels.
As soon as I reached LONDON, I hastened Mary Lower and Sarah Fell (two of my wife's daughters) to the king, to acquaint him how their mother was dealt with, and see if they could obtain a full discharge for her,
that she might enjoy her estate and liberty without molestation. This was somewhat difficult, but by diligent attendance they at length obtained it; the king giving command to Sir John Otway, to signify his pleasure therein by letter to the sheriff, and others concerned therein in the country. Which letter Sarah Fell going down with her brother and sister Rous, carried with her to Lancaster; and by them I wrote to my wife, as follows:
“MY DEAR HEART IN THE TRUTH AND LIFE, TIIAT
CHANGETH NOT, "It was upon me that Mary Lower and Sarah should go to the king concerning thy imprisonment, and to Kirby, that the power of the Lord might appear over them all in thy deliverance. They went, and then they thought to come down; but it was upon me to stay them a little longer, that they might follow the business till it was effected; which it now is, and is here sent. The late declaration of mine hath been very serviceable, people being generally satisfied with it. So no more, but my love in the holy Sced."
G. F. The declaration here mentioned was a printed sheet, written upon occasion of a new persecution stirred up. For by the time I was returned out of Leicestershire to London, a fresh storm was risen, occasioned (it was thought) by that tumultuous meeting in a steeple-house in Wiltshire or Gloucestershire, mentioned a little before; from which, it was said, some members of parliament took advantage to get an act passed against seditious conventicles ; * which soon after came forth and was turned against us, who of all people were free from sedition and tumult. Whereupon I
* The "Conventicle Act” so called, first passed in 1664, was renewed at the above time (1670), with increased rigour. The penalties were £5, or three months to the House of correction, for the first offence of attending a conventicle, if above sixteen years of age; £10, or six months, for the second; transportation for seven years for the third, with sequestration of estate, or distraint for the charges; and five years' SLAVERY IN THE COLONIES, by contract between the sheriff and a purchaser, on being sent abroad, in defect of property to distrain upon; or out of which to pay £100 as a liberating fine. This fine to be repeated, and £100 added as oft as he should offend afterwards, or transportation, &c. (with death for returning), and the forfeiture of his life-interest in his estate.
Conventicles to be broken up by an armed force, under the direction of lieutenants of counties, sheriffs, &c. Even a femme covert could not escape; but must be redeemed by her husband, at the price of £40; or go to prison, or be transported with him. Nor could a peer of the realm: he must be fined £10 for the first offence, £20 for the second, and for the third, be tried by his peers. The fines to be levied by distress, by warrant of any two justices, or a chief magistrate.
The force of this Act was directed against the Quakers, by inserting, in the latter part of it, three sections, which brought their refusal to take an oath under its full penalties; and they suffered dreadfully through it! In the streets, or where they met to assert their religious rights, they were dragooned; in court they had oaths tendered, and were convicted under this Act upon their refusal.
“This Act,” says Besse," was forth with put into a rigorous execution, and many hungry informers (for the sake of their third of the penalties] made it their business to live upon the spoil and ruin of conscientious people.” Friends were great sufferers thereby, of the nature of which the reader may have some idea by reference to “Sufferings under the Couventicle Act;" Select Miscellanies, vol. iii., pp. 220–245.