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my studies and the city, and return into the country, to preserve life; and much ado I had to get thither.”
When he recovered from his illness, he returned to London.
“I was very kindly received by my master, who had conceived so good an opinion of me, that my conversation (I found) was acceptable to him; and he seemed heartily glad of my recovery and return; and into our old method of study we fell again; I reading to him, and he explaining to me as occasion required."
This happy state of things did not long endure; for, on occasion of a supposed plot, the dissenting meetings were invaded, and all those found assembled were apprehended and imprisoned. The Dissenters, in general, were cunning enough to elude the searches of their enemies; but the Quakers, disdaining evasion or concealment, were nearly all seized, and the prison filled with Friends, the most innocent and upright class of Dissenters, who were least of all to be feared. On this occasion, Ellwood and his friends endured a long and painful imprisonment, first of all in Bridewell, and then in Newgate, from which they were removed back again to Bridewell, after some of their number had died of suffocation.
Of this imprisonment, Ellwood gives a very interesting account.
“ It was (as I hinted before) a general storm which fell that day; but it lighted most, and most heavy, upon our meetings; so that most of our men-friends, were made prisoners, and the prisons generally filled. And great work had the women, to run about froin prison to prison, to find their husbands, their fathers, their brothers, or their servants ; for, accordingly as they had disposed themselves to several meetings, so they were dispersed to several prisons. And no less care and pains had they when they had found them, to furnish them with provisions, and other necessary accommodations.
“But an excellent order, even in those early days, was practised among the friends of that city; by which there were certain friends, of either sex, appointed to have the oversight of the prisons in every quarter; and to take care of all friends, the poor especially, that should be committed thither.
“ This prison of Bridewell was under the care of two honest, grave, discreet, and motherly women; whose names were Anne Merrick, (afterwards Vivers) and Anne Travers, widows both.
They, so soon as they understood that there were friends brought into that prison, provided some hot victuals, meat, and broth, (for the weather was cold ;) and ordering their servants to bring it to them, with bread, cheese, and beer, came themselves also with it; and having placed it on a table, gave us notice, that it was provided for all those, that had not others to provide for them, or were not able to provide for themselves. And there wanted not among us a competent number of such guests.
“ As for my part, though I had lived as frugally as possibly I could, that I might draw out the thread of my little stock to the utmost length, yet had I, by this time, reduced it to tenpence; which was all
the money I had about me, or any where else at my command,
“ This was but a small estate, to enter upon an imprisonment with : yet was I not at all discouraged at it; nor had I a murmuring thought. I had known what it was (moderately) to abound; and if I should now come to suffer want, I knew I ought to be content; and, through the grace of God, I was so. I had lived by Providence before (when, for a long time, I had no money at all ;) and I had always found the Lord a good provider. I made no doubt, therefore, that He, who sent the ravens to feed Elijah, and who clothes the lilies, would find some means to sustain me, with needful food and raiment; and I had learned by experience the truth of that saying, Natura paucis contenta; i. e. Nature is content with few things, or a little.
“Although the sight and smell of hot food was sufficiently tempting to my empty stomach (for I had eaten little that morning, and was hungry,) yet, considering the terms of the invitation, I questioned whether I was included in it; and, after some reasonings, at length concluded, that while I had tenpence in my pocket, I should be but an injurious intruder to that mess, which was provided for such as, perhaps, had not two-pence in theirs.
“ Being come to this resolution, I withdrew as far from the table as I could; and sat down in a quiet retirement of mind, till the repast was over, which was not long; for there were hands enough at it, to make light work of it.
“When evening came, the porter came up the back stairs, and opening the door, told us, if we desired to have any thing that was to be had in the house, he would bring it to us; for there was in the house a chandler's shop; at which beer, bread, butter, cheese, eggs, and bacon might be had for money. Upon which many went to him, and spake for what of these things they had a mind to.
“ Among the rest went I, and intending to spin out my tenpence as far as I could,) desired him to bring me a penny-loaf only. When he returned, we all resorted to him to receive our several provisions, which he delivered, and when he came to me, he told me he could not get a penny-loaf, but he had brought me two half-penny loaves.
“ This suited me better : wherefore, returning to my place again, I sate down, and eat up one of my loaves ; reserving the other for the next day.
“ This was to me both dinner and supper. And so well satisfied was I with it, that I could willingly have gone to bed, if I had had one to go to: but that was not to be expected there; nor had any one any bedding brought in that night.
“ Some of the company had been so considerate as to send for a pound of candles, that we might not sit all night in the dark: and having lighted divers of them, and placed them in several parts of that large room, we kept walking to keep us warm.
“ After I had warmed myself pretty thoroughly, and the evening was pretty far spent, I bethought myself of a lodging; and casting
VOL. XIII. PART I.
mine eye on the table, which stood in the bay-window, the frame whereof looked, I thought, some what like a bed-stead. Wherefore, willing to make sure of that, I gathered up a good armful of rushes, wherewith the floor was covered; and spreading them under that table, crept in upon them in my clothes : and keeping on my hat, laid my head upon one end of the table's frame, instead of a bolster.
“My example was followed by the rest, who, gathering up rushes, as I had done, made themselves beds in other parts of the room: and so to rest we went. I, having a quiet, easy mind, was soon asleep, and slept till about the middle of the night. And then waking, finding my legs and feet very cold, I crept out of my cabin and began to walk about apace.
“ This waked and raised all the rest; who, finding themselves cold as well as I, got up and walked about with me, till we had pretty well warmed ourselves : and then we lay down again and rested till morning.
“ Next day, all they who had families, or belonged to families, had bedding brought in, of one sort or other; which they disposed at the ends and sides of the room, leaving the middle void to walk in,
“ But I, who had nobody to look after me, kept to my rushy pallet under the table, for four nights together, in which time I did not put off my clothes; yet, through the merciful goodness of God unto me, I rested and slept well, and enjoyed health without taking cold.
“ In this time divers of our company, through the solicitations of some of their relations or acquaintance to Sir Richard Brown (who was, at that time, a great master of misrule in the city, and over Bridewell more especially,) were released ; and among these, one William Mucklow, who lay in a hammock. He, having observed that I only was unprovided of lodging, came very courteously to me, and kindly offered me the use of his hammock while I should continue a prisoner.
“ This was a providential accommodation to me; which I received thankfully both from the Lord and from him, and, from thenceforth, I thought I lay as well as ever I had done in my life.
Amongst those that remained, there were several young men, who cast themselves into a club; and laying down every one an equal proportion of money, put it into the hand of our friend Anne Travers ; desiring her to lay it out for them in provisions, and send them in, every day, a mess of hot meat; and they kindly invited me to come into their club with them. These saw my person, and judged of me by that; but they saw not the lightness of my purse, nor understood the lightness of my pocket. But I, who alone understood my own condition, knew I must sit down with lower commons. Wherefore, not giving them the true reason, I, as fairly as I could, excused myself from entering at present into their mess; and went on, as before, to eat by myself, and that very sparingly, as my stock would bear. And before my ten-pence was quite spent, Providence, on whom I relied, sent me in a fresh supply.
“ For William Pennington (a brother of Isaac Pennington's) a friend and merchant in London (at whose house, before I came to live in the city, I was wont to lodge) having been at his brother's that day upon a visit, escaped this storm, and so was at liberty; and under
standing, when he came back, what had been done, bethought himself of me; and upon inquiry, hearing where I was, came in love to see
“ He, in discourse, amongst other things, asked me, how it was with me as to money? and how well I was furnished? I told him, I could not boast of much : and yet I could not say I had none (though what I then had was, indeed, next to none.) Whereupon he put twenty shillings into my hand ; and desired me to accept of that for the present. I saw a divine hand in thus opening his heart and hand
And though I would willingly have been excused from taking so much, and would have returned one half of it, yet he pressing it all upon me, I received it with a thankful acknowledgment, as a token of love from the Lord, and from him.
“ On the seventh day, he went down again (as he usually did) to his brother's house at Chalfont, and in discourse gave them an account of my imprisonment. Whereupon, at his return, on the second day of the week, my affectionate friend, Mary Pennington, sent to me by him forty shillings; which he soon after brought me; out of which I would have repaid him the twenty shillings, he had so kindly furnished me with ; but he would not admit it, telling me, I might have occasion for that, and more, before I got my liberty.
“ Not many days after this, I received twenty shillings from my father; who, being then at his house in Oxfordshire, and, by letter from my sister, understanding that I was a prisoner in Bridewell, sent this money to me for my support there; and, withal, a letter to my sister, for her to deliver to one called Mr. Wray (who lived near Bridewell, and was a servant to Sir Richard Brown, in some wharf of bis,) requesting him to intercede with his master (who was one of the governors of Bridewell,) for my deliverance. But that letter coming to my hands, I suppressed it, and have it yet by me.
“ Now was my pocket, from the lowest ebb, risen to full tide. I was at the brink of want, next door to nothing; yet my confidence did not fail nor my faith stagger: and now, on a sudden, I had plentiful supplies, shower upon shower, so that I abounded, yet was not lifted up; but in humility could say, This is the Lord's doing; and, without defrauding any of the instruments of the acknowledgments due to them, mine eye looked over and beyond them, to the Lord, who, I saw, was the author thereof and prime agent therein ; and, with a thankful heart, I returned thanksgivings and praises to Him. And this great goodness of the Lord to me, I thus record, to the end that all into whose hands this may come, may be encouraged to trust in the Lord, whose mercy is over all his works, and who is indeed a God near at hand, to help in the needful time.
“ Now I durst venture myself into the club, to which I had been invited; and, accordingly, (having, by this time, gained an acquaintance with them,) took an opportunity to cast myself among them ; and thenceforward, so long as we continued prisoners there together, I was one of their mess.
“ And, now, the chief thing I wanted was employment, which scarce any wanted but myself; for the rest of my company were, generally, tradesmen, of such trades as could set themselves to work. Of
these, divers were tailors,—some masters, some journeymen; and with these I felt most inclined to settle. But, because I was too much a novice in their art, to be trusted with their work, lest I should spoil the garment, I got work from an hosier in Cheapside, which was to make night-waistcoats, of red and yellow flannel, for women and children. And with this I entered myself among the tailors, sitting cross-legged, as they did; and so spent those leisure hours, with innocency and pleasure, which want of business would have made tedious. And, indeed, that was, in a manner, the only advantage I had by it; for my master (though a wealthy man, and one who professed not only friendship, but particular kindness to me,) dealt, I thought, but hardly with me; for (though he knew not what I had to subsist by,) he never offered me a penny
for my work, till I had done working for him, and went, (after I was released,) to give him a visit; and then he would not reckon with me neither, because, (as he smilingly said,) he would not let me so far into his trade as to acquaint me with the prices of his work, but he would be sure to give me enough.” And, thereupon, he gave me one crown-piece, and no more; though I had wrought long for him, and had made him many dozens of waistcoats, and bought the thread myself, which, I thought, was very poor pay. But, as Providence had ordered it, I wanted the work more than the wages, and, therefore, took what he gave me, without complaining."
After these unfortunate men had been detained in prison about two months, they were had up at the sessions, when, refusing to take any oath, the oath of allegiance being tendered, they were all sent off to Newgate. In this place, they were all inhumanly crowded into one room. Ellwood thus describes the way in which they managed to dispose themselves for sleeping :
“But, in the night, we all lodged in one room, which was large and round, having, in the middle of it, a great pillar of oaken timber, which bore up the chapel that is over it.
“ To this pillar we fastened our hammocks at the one end, and to the opposite wall on the other end, quite round the room, and in three degrees, or three stories high, one over the other; so that they who lay in the upper and middle row of hammocks were obliged to go to bed first, because they were to climb into the higher, by getting into the lower. And, under the lower rank of hammocks, by the wall sides, were laid beds, upon the floor, in which the sick, and such persons' as could not get into the hammocks, lay. And, indeed, though the room was large and pretty airy, yet the breath and steam that came from so many bodies, of different ages, conditions, and constitutions, packed up so close together, was enough to cause sickness amongst us, and I believe it did so; for there were many sick, and some very weak. Though we were not long there, yet, in that time, one of our fellow prisoners, who lay in one of those pallet beds, died.”
The inquest on this death was the cause of their condition becoming known, and of their subsequent removal to their old