Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

but for keeping of unlawful meetings; and you think, that if you do not fight, or quarrel, or break the peace,

that
you

break no law, but there is a law against unlawful meetings.

Marg. Fell. What law have I broken for worshiping God in my own house? Judge. What law?

Marg. Fell. Aye, What law have I broken for worshiping God in my own house?

Judge. The common law.

Marg. Fell. I thought you had proceeded by a statute. Then the sheriff whispered to him, and mentioned the statute of the 35th of Eliz,

Judge. I could tell you of a law, but it is too penal for you, for it might cost you your life.

Marg. Fell. I must offer and tender my life and all for my testimony, if it be required of me. Then the latter part of the statute was read to the jury for the oath of obedience; and the judge informed the jury and the prisoner, concerning the penalty of the statute upon refusal, for it would be to the forfeiture of all her estate, real and personal, and imprisonment during life.

Marg. Fell. I am a widow, and my estate is a dowry, and I have five children unpreferred; and, if the king's pleasure be to take my estate from me, upon the account of my conscience, and not for any evil or wrong done; let him do as he pleases ; and fur. ther, I desire that I may speak to the jury of the occasion of my being here.

Judge. The jury is to hear nothing, but me to tender you the oath, and you to refuse it or take it.

Marg. Fell. You will let me have the liberty that other pri. soners have, and then she turned to the jury, and said Friends, I am here this day upon the account of my conscience, and not for any evil or wrong done to any man, but for obeying Christ's doctrine and command, who hath said in the scripture, That God is a spirit, and that his worship is in the spirit and truth, and for keeping meetings in the unity of his spirit, and for obeying Christ's command and doctrine, who hath said, Swear not at all; am I here arraigned this day. Now you profess yourselves to be christians, and you own the scriptures to be true, and, for the obedience of the plain words of scripture, and for the testimony of my conscience, am I here; so I now appeal to the witness of God in all your consciences to judge of me according to that.

Secondly, You are to consider this statute what it was made for, and for whom it was made, for papists; and the oath was, allegiance to the king. Now, let your consciences judge, Whether we be the people it was made for, who cannot swear any oath at all, only for conscience sake, because Christ commands not to swear at all.

Judge. Then the judge seemed to be angry, and said, She was not there upon the account of her conscience ; and said, She had

an everlasting tongue, you draw the whole court after you, and she continued speaking on, and he still crying, Will you take the bath or no?

Marg. Fell. It is upon the account of my conscience, for, if I could have sworn, I had not been here.

Secondly, If I would not have meetings in my house, I need not to have the oath tendered to me, and so I desire the jury to take notice, that it is only for those two things that I am here arraigned; which are only upon the account of my conscience, and not for any evil done against any man.

Then the judge was angry again, and bid them tender her the oath, and hold her the book.

Judge. Will you take the oath of allegiance?

Marg. Fell. I bave said already, that I own allegiance and obedience to the king at his just and lawful commands; and I do also owe allegiance and obedience to the King of Kings, Christ Jesus, who hath commanded me not to swear at all.

Judge. That is no answer: Will you take the oath, or will you not take it?

Marg. Fell. I say, I owe allegiance and obedience unto Christ. Jesus, who commands me not to swear.

Judge. I say unto you, that is no answer: Will you take it, or will you not take it?

Marg. Fell. If you should ask me never so often, I must an. swer to you: The reason, why I cannot take it, is, because Christ Jesus hath commanded me not to swear at all ; I owe my allegi. ance and obedience unto him.

Then one of the justices, that committed her, said : Mrs. Fell, you may, with a good conscience, if you cannot take the oath, put in security, that you may not have any more meetings at your honse.

Marg. Fell. Wilt thou make that good, that I may, with a safe conscience, make an engagement to forbear meetings, for fear of losing my liberty and estate? Wilt not thou, and you all here, judge of me, that it was for saving my estate and liberty that I did it? And do I not in this deny my testimony? And would not this defile my conscience:

Judge. This is no answer: Will you take the oath ? We must not spend time.

Marg. Fell. I never took an oath in my life; I have spent my days thus far, and I never took an oath ; I own allegiance to the king, as he is king of England, but Christ Jesus is king of my conscience. Then the clerk held out the book, and bid her pull off her glove, and lay her hand on the book.

Marg. Fell. Í never laid my hand on the book to swear, in all my life, and I never was at this assize before; I was bred and born in this county, and have led my life in it, and I was never at an assize before this time, and I bless the Lord, that I am here this day upon this account, to bear testimony to the truth. Then they asked her if she would have the oath read. She an

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

swered: I do not care, if I never hear an oath read; for the land mourns, because of oaths.

Judge. Then the judge cried, take her away. Then they took her civilly away; and asked her if she would give security, that she would have no more meetings.

Marg. Fell. Nay, I can give no such security, I have spoken enough for that.

Then George Fox was called before Judge Twisden; being a prisoner, the gaoler brought him in.

Judge.' What, do you come into the court with your hat on? -And then the gaoler took it off.

George For. Peace be amongst you all. - And said, the hat was not the honour that came down from God.

Judge. Will you take the oath of allegiance, George Fox ? Geo. Fox. I never took oath in my life. Judge. Will you swear, or no? Geo. For. Christ commands we must not swear at all; and the apostle : And, whether must I obey God, or man, judge thee, I put it to thee.

Judge. I will not dispute with thee, George Fox. Come, read the oath to him. And so the oath was read, and, when it was read, give him the book, said they; and so a man, that stood by him, held up the book, and said, lay your hand on the book.

Geo. Fox. Give me the book in my hand. Which set them all a gazing, and as in hope he would have sworn. Then, when he got the book in his hand, he held up the book, and said; This book commands me not to swear, if it be a Bible, I will prove it; and he saw it was a Bible, and he held it up; and then they plucked it forth of his hand again, and cried, will you swear? Will you take the oath of allegiance, yea, or nay?

.Geo. Fox. My allegiance lies not in oaths, but in truth and faithfulness; for I honour all men, much more the king : But Christ saith I must not swear, the great Prophet, the Saviour of the world, and the Judge of the world; and thou sayest I must swear: Whether must I obey Christ, or thee? For it is in ten. derness of conscience that I do not swear, in obedience to the command of Christ and the apostle; and for his sake I suffer, and in obedience to his command do I stand this day; and we have the word of a king for tender consciences, besides his speeches and declarations at Breda: And dost thou own the king ?.

Judge. Yes, I own the king.

Geo. Fox. Then why dost not thou own his speeches and de. clarations concerning tender consciences ? To thc which he replied nothing ; but George said, it is in obedience to Christ, the Saviour of the world, the Judge of the world, before whose judgment-seat all men must be brought, that I do not swear, and am a man of a tender conscience. And then the judge stood up.

Judge. I will not be afraid of thee; thou speaks so loud, thy voice drowns mine and the court's, I must call for three or four cryers to drown thy voice, thou hast good lungs.

Geo. For. I'am a prisoner here, this day, for the Lord Jesus, that made heaven and earth, and for his sake do we suffer, and for him do I stand this day ; and, if my voice was five times louder, yet should I sound it out, and lift it up for Christ's sake, for whose cause I stand this day before your judgment-scat, in obedience to Christ's commands, who commands not to swear, before whose judgment-seat you must all be brought, and give an account.

Judge. Sirrah, will you take the oath?
Geo. For. I am none of thy sirrah, I am no sirrah, I am a
Chrissian : Art thou a judge, and sits there to give names to pri-
soners? Thou ought not to give names to prisoners.

Judge. I am a Christian too.
Gev. Fox. Then, do Christian works.

Judge. Sirrah, thou thinkest to frighten me with thy words, and looked aside, I am saying so again.

Geo. Fox. I speak in love to thee, that doth not become a judge, thou oughtest to instruct a prisoner, of the law and scrip. tures, if he be ignorant and out of the way.

Judge. George Fox, I speak in love tv thee.
Geo. For. Love gives no names.
Judge. Wilt thou swear, wilt thou take the oath, yea or nay?

Geo. For. As I said before, whether must I obey God or man, judge ye. Christ commands not to swear, and if thou, or ye, or any minister, or priest here will prove that ever Christ, or his apostles, after they had forbidden swearing, commanded men shoukl swear, Í will swear, and, several priests being there, yet not one did appear.

Juuge. George Fox, will you swear or no ?

Geo. For. It is in obedience to Christ's commands I do not swear, and for his sake we sutter, and you are sensible enough of swearers, how they first swear one way, then another; and if I could swear any oath at all, upon any occasion, I should take that, but it is not denying oaths upon some occasions, but all oaths, according to Christ's doctrine.

Judge. I am a servant to the king, and the king sent me not to dispute, but he sent me, to put his laws in execution, wilt thou swear? Tender the oath of allegiance to him.

Geo. Fox. If thou love the king, why dost thou break his word, and not own his declarations and speeches to tender consciences, from Breda, for I am a man of a tender conscience, for in obedience to Christ's command I am not to swear.

Judge. Then you will not swear, take him gaoler.

Geo. Fox. It is for Christ's sake, I cannot swear, in obedi. ence to his commands I suffer, and so the Lord forgive you all.

And so the mighty power of the Lord God was over all. The appearance of Murgaret Fell the second time, being the six.

teenth day of the afore-mentioned month, 1663-4. Judge. 1. Mrs. Fell, you stand here indicted by the statute, because you

will not take the oath of allegiance, and I am here to inform you, what the law provides for you in such a case, viz.

three ways.

First, If you confess to the indictment, the judgment of a Premunire is to pass upon you.

Secondly, If you plead, you have liberty to traverse.

Thirdly, if you stand mute and say nothing at all, judgment will be passed against you, to see what you will chuse, of those

Marg. Fell. I am altogether ignorant of these things, for I had never the like occasion, so I desire to be informed by thee, which of them is the best for me, for I do not know; and sọ several about the court cried, traverse, traverse,

Judge. If you will be advised by me, put in your traverse, and so you have liberty, until the next assizes, to answer your indictment.

Marg. Fell. I had rather according to thy own proposal have a process, that I might have liberty until the next assizes, and then to put in a traverse.

Judge. _Your traverse is a processe

Marg. Fell. May not I have a process, and pnt in my traverse the next assizes, I am informed, that was the thing that thou in. tended that I should have.

Judge. You shall have it. Marg. Fell. That is all I desire. Then, a clerk of the crown office stood up and whispered to the judge, and said it was contrary to law, and said I must put in my traverse now.

Judge. I would do you all the favour I can, but you must enter your traverse now.

Marg. Fell. I acknowledge thy favour and mercy, for thou hast shewn more mercy than my neighbours have done, and I see what thou hast done for me, and what my neighbours have done against me; and I know very well, how to make a distinction, for they who have done this against me, they have no reason for it.

Judge. I have done you no wrong, I found you here.
Marg. Fell. I had not been here but by my neighbours,
Judge. What say you, are you willing to traverse ?

Marg. Fell. If I may not be permitted to have that which I desire, that is, longer time, I must be willing to traverse, till the next assizes ; and that upon this account, that I have something to inform thee of, which I did not speak on the last time, when I was brought before thee: The justices which committed me, they told me they had express order from above; but they did not shew me the order, neither indeed did I ask them for it, but I heard since, that they have given it out in the country, that they had an order from the council, others said they had an order from the king. The sheriff said there was express order; and also Justice Fleming said, there was an order from the king and the council ; so the country is incensed, that I ain some great enemy to the king, so I desire that I may have this order read, that I may know what my offence is, that I may clear myself.

Judge. I will tell you what that order is, we have express order from the king, to put all statutes and laws in execution, not only against you, but all other people, and against papists, if they be complained of.

« ForrigeFortsett »