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house, and, hastening to his chamber, make known their dreadful errand; an act enough to have frighted a timerous soul to a present confession; but he, with a resolved constancy, slights those terrors of the law, and, without any such reluctancy, as argued the least depression of spirit, goes with them before Justice Blake, by whom, though carefully examined, there was nothing discoverable that could render him any ways suspected, more than the former enmity betwist them. However, he is on suspicion committed to Newgate; where, remaining with a countenance that appeared no ways clouded with guilt, he continued constant in the denial of the fact. In the interval between the time he was first committed, and his confession, he fell violently ill of a sharp and dangerous pleurisy ; in which acute distemper, though summoned by the approaches of death, he continued in a resolute denial of the fact. But God, whose judgments here in this appeared but the road to his mercies hercaster, freed him from that less ignominious death, that, dying by the formalities of law, the burthening of his body might in confession disburthen his soul. This was the time in which some of the church of Rome, and those of the more learned sort of the clergy, gave him frequent visits, and, as they have caused it to be reported, converted him to their church. What of truth there is in this, with what the opinion generally received is, you shall hear toward the conclusion of our story.
On the Monday following the time of his being apprehended, being the one-and-twentieth of February, Major Thomson, to hasten the enlargement of his imprisoned wife, being returned to London, makes a full discovery before an officer, on what occasion he borrowed the gun, and in what manner, and at what time, he delivered it to Mr. Strangeways, in St. Clement's church-yard; who, on this happy discovery, is brought before Justice La Wright, he that took the examination of Mr. Thomson. Here it boing demanded of him, on what occasion he caused the gun to be borrowed, and brought to him charged at that tiine of the night, with such other questions as most immediately concerned the business in hand; and withal, sceing Major Thomson there, whose discovery he had so little cause to doubt; that now seeing it performed, and not being able to apprehend the manner how, he, in an amazed terror, after some minutes of a deep and considerate silence, in a most pathetical manner, acknowledging the immediate hand of God to be in this wonderful detection, no longer veils his guilt with confident denials, but, in an humble and submissive lowliness of spirit, such as rather strore with the tears of a penitential Magdalen, to expunge the rubrick characters of his guilt, than with the brazen impudence of a despairing Cain, by a sullen and surly de. nial, to fly the mercies of that God, whose vengeance will pursue him: he hath now confessed the fac-he stands now a contrite penitent, with the excellent Seneca, acknowledging that,
Maxima peccantium pæna est peccâsse, Epist. 97. Yet, though a convicted murtherer, he is the compassionated object of all the beholders, whose heads he now makes foun.
tains of tears, by having so lately made his brother's a fountain of blood.
This doleful scene, with the pity of most, but the wonder of all, being thus past over, he is now returned again, a much-laDented prisoner, to Newgate, from whence, February the fourand-twentieth, he was brought to his trial at the Sessions-house in the Old Bailey, where, appearing with a countenance that carried in it a mixture of courage and contrition, being such as rather semed dejected for offending the law of God, than any ways terrilied for any torments that could be inflicted upon him by the laws of man; being demanded to plead, he answers, that, if it might, on his being tried, be admitted him to die by that manner of death by which his brother fell, he would plead; if not, by refusing to plead, he would both preserve an estate to bestow on such friends for whom he had most affection, and withal free himself from the ignominious death of a publick gibbet.
Many arguments, and those urgent and pressing, were used by the Lord Chief Justice Glyn, and the rest of the bench, to in. duce him, to plead, as laying before him the sin he committed, in refusing to submit to the ordinary course of law, the terror of the death his obstinate silence would force them to inflict upon him.
These, with many other motives, were used, but all invalid; he remains impenetrable, refusing either to plead, or to discover who it was that fired the gun; only affirms, which he continued till his death, that, whoever fired it, it was done by his directions, but with no intent to be the death of his brother-in-law, but only, as he was pleased to say, to let him know, that a life, made odious by so many pressing acts of injustice, as he had received from him, though, by their politick contrivance, defended from any punishment the law could inflict, yet was not safe, where the person of. feoded hath spirit enough to revenge an injury.
This, not-to-be-justified resolution, cherished a long time by bis hot and haughty spirit, had often, on the sight of Mr. Fussel, raised in him impetuous storms of rage; such that often broke out into that intemperance, as, both by word and letter, he several times challenges him; and, in consideration of his being something more impaired by age than himself, offers him what odds, in length of weapon, he could with reason and honour demand. This encountering nought but a silent and slighting repulse, he, one day, meeting him in Westminster-hall, accosts him with this compli. ment:
• Brother Fussel, It argues not discretion in us of either side, we being both cavaliers, to submit our causes to this present 6 course of law, where the most of our judges are such as formerly
were our enemies—Calais Sands were a fitter place for our dispute; than Westminster-hall.'
These affronts finding a man too subtle to seek any other re. venge, than what lay safe under the sure guard of the law, he rather seeks from thence to do him a certain mischief, than, by the
uncertain managing of a duel, to run the hazard of being mischieved himself; so that he not only refused that way of deciding the quar. rel, but indicts his brother Strangeways as a challenger; which, adding more fewel to his former conceived rage, puts him upon this dangerous way of satisfying his vindictive passion; and though'he, by a constant asseveration, affirms, that the firing of the gun was only intended to terrify him; he afirming, that, had not the hand of him who fired it fell lower than was intended, it had been impossible for the bullets to have so unhappily hit the mark; yet, its being charged with three bullets, whereas small shot, if only intended to affright, would have been a more certain terror, with less hazard of danger, is an argument so prevalent with most men, that the action carries no fairer a face, than a horrid and wilful murther.
But, not to ingulf too far in censuring the act, we basten to do. clare, as far as concerns our business in hand, the demeanor of the actor, who, persisting in his first resolution not to plead, hears from the offended court this dreadful sentence:
That the prisoner at the bar be sent to the place from whence he came; and that he be put into a mean house stopped from any light; and that he be laid upon his back, with his body bare, sav. ing something to cover his privy parts; that his arms shall be stretched forth with a cord, the'one to the one side of the prison, the other to the other side of the prison; and in like manner shall his legs be used: and that upon his body shall be laid as much iron and stone as he can bear, and more; and the first day shall be have three morsels of barley-bread, and the next day shall he drink thrice of the water in the next channel to the prison door,
but no spring or fountain water: and this shall be his punishment till he die.”
This thunderbolt of judgment, levelled at his life, he yet, with a passive valour (high as ever was bis active), with a constancy, which might cast a blush on the ghost of an ancient Roman hearse, but continues his resolution; and, being returned to the prison, from thence writes this sad letter to his brother-in-law, Major Dewie, a member of parliament, and a gentleman that had married another of his sisters.
• DEAR BROTHER,
I hope these lines, and pressing death, will so far expiate my crime, as to procure your and my other friends forgiveness, for
my conscience bears me witness, I was provoked by many of my • brother-in-law's insufferable wrongs. After divers parlies, find. ing his inveterate spleen so implacable, as to indict and inform
against me at the open bench, my flesh and blood held no longer 6 patience, but sought to usurp the revengeful attribute which God appropriates to himself, when he would not answer me in single
combate, though I offered him advantage in the length of weapon; ( yet this I will assure you, that I did not intend his death, but,
by the discharging of a warning-piece, to have only terrified his heart from practising litigious suits, and thereby to let him • know, that he was at another man's mercy, if he contemned • the same.
In a word, each man oweth a death, I two, by this untimely fact: the one to my Maker, the other to the law; which invokes
to pay the one the more willingly, being confident that the other . is cancelled, by the all-seeing eye of Divine mercy and justice. • These, in short, are the last words of
• Your dying Brother,
• GEORGE STRANGEWAYS.' From the Press-yard in Newgate,
13 February, 1658. This being one of the last scenes he was to act on the stage of mortality, he now retires, by Divine contemplation, to dress his soul in those robes of repentance, wherewith she was suddenly to meet her celestial bridegroom. In which pious action, he hath the frequent assistance of divines, some of excellent abilities, as Dr. Wilde and Dr. Warmsley; there was also with him Mr. Jenkins, Mr. Watson, and Mr. Norton, to all of which, by a repentant acknowledgment of the foulness of his crime, by a detestation of all those thoughts that had formerly fomented his malice, and, by a solemn and serious invocation of his Redeemer, for the increase ing of those rays of mercy, which (even in that dark and dismal agony the apprehension or guilt might have plunged her into) he yet found irradiated the darkest apprehensions of a soul clouded with sin and sorrow.
To some, whose zeal (if meriting the name) was more in that act than their discretion, when, with the harsh and unseasonable rigid means of the law, they appeared rather as if they came to fright his soul into a distracting despair, than to fortify her with comforts fit to undergo so sad a conflict, he desired them to proceed no further in so unseasonable a discourse ; with an exalted heighth of christian confidence affirming, that, through the powerful operation of mercy, whose restoratives he felt even in the grasp of death, he doubted not but his scarlet sins were washed white as wool; and that (through the Red sea of his brother's blood) he should safely arrive at the celestial Canaan. Thus spending that narrow stock of time, allowed him for the levelling his accounts with heaven, as if his soul, which before travelled with a soail. like slow ness towards her celestial home, were now in her full career, the fatal day arrives. On Monday, the last of January, about eleven of the clock in the morning, the sheriff's of London, accompanied with divers officers, came to the Press-yard, where, after a short time of stay, Major Strangeways was guarded down. He was cloathed all in white; waistcoat, stockings, drawers, and cap, over which was cast a long mourning cloak; a dress that bandsomely emblemed the condition he was then in, who, though his soul wore a sable robe of mourning for her former sins, it was now become her apper garment, and, in some few minutes, being cast off, would discover the immaculate dress of mercy which was under it.
From hence is he guarded to the dungeon, the sad and dismal place of execution, being accompanied by some few of his friends, amongst which was the Rev. Dr. Warmsley, whose pious care intended now to be near as inseparable to him as life itself. Ilaving asked the executioner for a place to kneel in, and being answered, that there was none of more conveniency than the bottom of the dungeon, 'Well,” said he, this place must then serve him, who is forced immaturely to fall; for there can be no greater vanity in the world, than to esteem the world, which regardeth no man, and to make slight account of God, who greatly respecteth all men; for only, Gentlemen, let me tell you, had I served my God as faithfully as I served my lord and master, my King, I had never. come to this untimely end. But, blessed be God for all-I shall willingly submit, and earnestly implore your prayers for the carry. ing me through this great work. Then, turning to Dr. Warmsley, he said, “Will you be pleased to assist me with your prayers?' -Doctor. “Yes, Major, I come to officiate that christian work, and the Lord strengthen your faith, and give you confidence and assurance in the merits of Jesus Christ.'
After they had spent some short time in prayer, Dr. Warmsley, taking him aside, bad with him some small time of private conference, concerning the clear demonstration of the faith he died in, and about receiving the sacrament. They appeared something to differ in opinion, which renders the world much unsatisfied, as, in point of religion, whether he died a protestant or not; those of the church of Rome affirming, that, whilst he lay sick of his pleurisy, he was visited by several catholicks that are in orders, some of whose names I have heard, and that they proved so prevalent with him, that they had wrought him to an absolute conversion, and that they were confident, though he had not long lived so, in that faith he died. Whether this be true, I leave every judicious reader to judge, by the succeeding circumstance, when he had left off his conference with Dr. Warmsley, in which he desired him not to press at that unseasonable time matters of controversy, it being a matter full of danger to disturb that calm the soul ought to wear when she comes to encounter death: and then, applying himself to the company in general, with a voice something more elevated than ordinary, be speaks these words:
For my religion (I thank my God) I never had thought in ? my heart to doubt it; I die in the christian religion (but never mentioned the protestant), and am assured of my interest in Christ Jesus, by whose merits I question not but my soul shall, e're long, triumph over these present afflictions in eternity of glory, being reconciled to the mercies of my God, through my
Saviour Jesus Christ, into whose bosom I hope to be gathered, there to enjoy that eternal, infinite, and boundless happiness,
wherewith he rewards all the elect; so the Lord bless you all, " bless you in this world, till he brings you to a world ever blessed; 6 and bless me in this last and dreadful trial. So let us all pray;
Jesus! Jesus! have mercy on me!'