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about your business, for we have nothing more to say to you, seeing you are discharged.” This was all he could get from them. Wherefore, after the court was risen, he went to speak with them at their chamber, desiring to know, ‘What cause they had to detain his father, seeing they had discharged him?” and wishing them to consider, whether this was not partiality, and would be a blemish to them. Whereupon Simpson threatened him, saying, “If you be not content we will tender you the oaths also, and send you to your father.’ To which he replied, “They might do that, if they thought fit; but whether they sent him or no, he intended to go and wait upon his father in prison; for that was now his business in that country.’ Then said justice Parker to him, “Do you think, Mr. Lower, that I had not cause to send your father and you to prison, when you had such a great meeting that the parson of the parish complained to me, that he hath lost the greatest part of his parishioners; so that when he comes amongst them he has scarce any auditors left?" ‘I have heard,' replied Thomas Lower, “that the priest of that parish comes so seldom to visit his flock (but once, it may be, or twice in a year, to gather up his tithes,) that it was but charity in my father to visit such a forlorn and forsaken flock; therefore thou hadst no cause to send my father to prison for visiting them, or for teaching, instructing, and directing them to Christ, their true teacher, who had so little comfort or benefit from their pretended pastor, who comes amongst them only to seek for his “gain from his quarter.” Upon this the justices fell a laughing; for it seems Dr. Crowder, the priest they spoke of, was then sitting among them, though Thomas Lower did not know him; and he had the wit to hold his tongue, and not undertake to vindicate him. self in a matter so notoriously known to be true. But when Thomas Lower was come from them, the justices did so play upon Dr. Crowder, that he was pitifully ashamed, and so nettled with it, that he threatened to sue Thomas Lower in the bishop's court, upon an action of defamation. Which when Thomas Lower heard of, he sent him word, he would answer his suit, let him begin it when he would; and would bring his whole parish in evidence against him. This cooled the doctor. Yet some time after he came to the prison, pretending he had a mind to dispute with me, and to talk with Thomas Lower about that business; and he brought another with him, he himself being then a prebendary at Worcester. When he came in, he asked me, ‘What I was in prison for 1 “Dost not thou know that?” said I. “Wast not thou upon the bench, when justice Simpson and Parker tendered the oath to me? and hadst not thou a hand in it.” Then he said, ‘It is lawful to swear; and Christ did not forbid swearing before a magistrate; but swearing by the sun and the like.' I bid him prove that by the scriptures, but he could not. Then he brought that saying of Paul's, “All things are lawful unto me.’ 1 Cor. vi. 12. “And if,' said he, “all things were lawful unto him, then swearing was lawful unto him.” “By this argument,' said I, ‘thou mayest also affirm, that drunkenness, adultery, and all manner of sin and wickedness are lawful also, as well as swearing.” “Why," said Dr. Crowder, ‘do you hold that adultery is unlawful?’ ‘Yes,’ said I, ‘that I do.’ ‘Why then,” said he, “this contradicts the saying of St. Paul.” Thereupon I called to the prisoners and the gaoler, to hear what doctrine Dr. Crowder had laid down for orthodox, viz. ‘that drunkenness, swearing, adultery, and such like things were lawful.” Then he said, “He would give it under his hand;’ and took a pen, but wrote another thing than what he had spoken. Then turning to Thomas Lower, he asked him, “whether he would answer what he had there written ?" who undertook it. Whereupon, when he had threatened Thomas Lower to sue him in the bishop's court for speaking so abusively (as he called it.) of him, before the justices, and Thomas had bid him begin when he pleased, for he would answer him, and bring his parishioners in evidence against him, he went away in a great fret, grumbling to himself as he went. A few days after Thomas Lower sent him an answer to the paper he had wrote and left with him; which answer a Friend of Worcester carried to him, and he read it, and said, “He would reply to it; but he never did, though he often sent him word he would do it. Soon after the sessions, the term coming on, an habeas corpus was sent to Worcester for the sheriff to bring me up to the king's bench bar. Whereupon the under-sheriff having made Thomas Lower his deputy to convey me to London, we set out the twenty-ninth of the eleventh month, 1673, and came to London the second of the twelth month; the ways being very deep, and the waters out. Next day, notice being given that I was brought up, the sheriff was ordered to bring me into court. I went accordingly, and did appear in court before judge Wild; and both he and the lawers were pretty fair, so that I had time to speak, to clear my innocency, and show my wrong imprisonment. After the return of the writ was entered, I was ordered to be brought into court again next day; the order of court being as followeth :
“The King ‘against
Thursday, next after the morrow of the purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in the 26th year of King Charles the Second.
“The defendant being brought here into court, upon a writ of habeas corpus ad subjiciend. &c. under the custody of the sheriffos the county aforesaid; it is ordered. That the Return unto the habeas corpus be filed, and the defendant is committed unto the marshal of this court, to be safely kept until, &c. “By motion of Mr. G. Strocide. “By the Court.'
Accordingly I went in the morning, and walked in the hall till the sheriff came to me, (for he trusted me to go whither I would,) and it being early, we went into the court of king's bench, and sat among the lawyers almost an hour, till the judges came in, when the sheriff took off my hat; and after awhile I was called. The Lord's presence was with me, and his power I felt was over all. I stood and heard the king's attorney, whose name was Jones, who indeed spoke notably on my behalf, as did also another counsellor after him; and the judges, who were three, were all very moderate, not casting any reflecting words at me. I stood still in the power and spirit of the Lord, seeing how the Lord was at work, and the earth was helping the woman. But when they had done, I applied myself to the chief justice, desiring, ‘That I might speak;’ and he said I might. “Then I related the cause of our journey, the manner of our being taken and committed, and the time of our imprisonment until the sessions; with a brief account of our trial at the sessions, and what I had offered to the justices then, as a declaration that I could make or sign, instead of the oaths of allegiance and supremacy.’ When I had done, the chief justice said, ‘I was to be turned over to the king's bench, and the sheriff of Worcester to be discharged of me.’ He said also, ‘That they would consider further of it; and if they sound any error in the record, or in the justices' proceedings, I should be set at liberty.” So a tipstaff was called to take me into custody; and he delivered me to the keeper of the king's bench, who let me go to a Friends house, where I lodged, and appointed to meet me at Edward Man's in Bishopsgate-street the next day. But after this, justice Parker, or some other of my adversaries, moved the court, that I might be sent back to Worcester. Whereupon another day was appointed for another hearing, and they had four counsel that pleaded against me. George Stroude, a counsellor, pleaded for me, and was pleading before I was brought into the court; but they bore him down, and prevailed with the judges to give judgment, ‘That I should be sent down to Worcester sessions. Only they told me I might put in bail to appear at the sessions, and to be of good behaviour in the mean time. I told them, ‘I never was of ill behaviour in my life; and that they, the four judges, might as well put the oath to me there, as send me to Worcester to be insnared by the justices, in their putting the oath to me, and then premuniring me, who never took an oath in my life. I told them, if I broke my yea or nay, I was content to suffer the same penalty which they should that break their oaths.” This al
Vol II. 20
teration of the judges' minds in my case proceeded, as was thought, from some false informations that my adversary justice Parker had given against me: for between the times of my former appearance and this, he had spread abroad a very false and malicious story, viz. “That there were many substantial men with me out of several parts of the nation when he took me, and that we had a design or plot in hand; and that Thomas Lower staid with me in prison long after he was set at liberty, to carry on our design.” This was spoken in the parliament-house; insomuch that if I had not been brought up to London when I was, I had been stopped at Worcester, and Thomas had been committed with me. But although these lies were easily disproved and laid open to Parker's shame, yet would not the judges alter their last sentence, but remanded me to Worcester gaol; only this favour was granted, that I might go down my own way, and at my own leisure; provided I would be without fail there by the assize, which was to begin the second of the second month following. I staid in and about London till towards the latter end of the first month, 1674, and then went down leisurely (for I was not able to abide hasty and hard travelling,) and came into Worcester the last of the first month, 1674, being the day before the judges came to town. The second day of the second month I was brought from the gaol to an inn near the hall, that I might be in readiness if I should be called. But not being called that day, the gaoler came at night and told me, ‘I might go home,' meaning to the gaol. Gerard Roberts of London being with me, he and I walked down together to the gaol without any keeper. Next day, being brought up again, they set a little boy about eleven years old to be my keeper. I came to understand justice Parker and the clerk of the peace had given order that I should not be put into the calendar, that I might not be brought before the judge; wherefore I got the judge's son to move in court “That I might be called: whereupon I was called and brought to the bar before judge Turner, my old adversary, who had tendered me the oaths, and premunired me once before at Lancaster. After silence made, he asked me, ‘What I did desire?' I answered, “My liberty according to justice.’ He said, ‘I lay upon the oath;’ and asked, ‘If I would take it !” “I desired he would hear the manner of my being taken and committed;’ and being silent, I gave him an account thereof at large, as is before set down, letting him also know, ‘That since my imprisonment I had understood my mother, who was an ancient, tender woman, and had desired to see me before she died, hearing that I was stopped and imprisoned on my journey, so that I was not likely to come to see her, it struck her so, that she died soon after, which was a very hard thing to me.’ When I had done speaking, he again asked me, ‘To take the oaths.’ I told him, “I could not take any oath, for conscience sake; and I did believe he and they all knew in their consciences that it was for conscience sake I could not swear at all. I declared amongst them what I could say and what I could sign, in owning of the king's right to the government, and in denying the pope and his pretended power, and all plotters, plots, and conspiracies against the government.” Some thought the judge had a mind to set me at liberty, for he saw they had nothing justly against me; but Parker, who committed me, endeavoured to incense him, telling him, “That I was a ringleader; that many of the nation followed me, and he knew not what it might come to ;' with many more envious words, which some took notice of; who also observed, that the judge gave him never a word in answer. However, the judge, willing to ease himself, referred me and my case to the sessions again, bidding the justices make an end of it there, and not trouble the assizes any more with me. So I was continued prisoner, chiefly (as it seemed,) through the means of justice Parker, who in this case was as false as envious; for he had promised Richard Cannon of London, who had acquaintance with him, ‘That he would endeavour to have me set at liberty;" yet he was the worst enemy I had in court, as some of the court observed and reported. Other justices were very loving, and promised, “That I should have the liberty of the town, and to lodge at a Friends house till the sessions;’ which accordingly I had, and the people were very civil and respectful to me. Between this time and the sessions I had some service for the Lord with several that came to visit me. At one time came three nonconformist priests and two lawyers to discourse with me; and one of the priests undertook to prove, ‘That the scriptures are the only rule of life.” After I had defeated his proof, I had a fit opportunity to open to them, ‘The right and proper use, service, and excellency of the scriptures; and also to show, that the spirit of God which was given to every one to profit withal, the grace of God which bringeth salvation, and which hath appeared to all men, and teacheth them that obey it to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world; that this, I say, is the most fit, proper, and universal rule which God hath given to all mankind to rule, direct, govern, and order their lives by.” nother time came a common prayer priest, and some people with him. He asked me, “if I was grown up to perfection?' I told him, ‘what I was, I was by the grace of God.” He replied, “it was a modest and civil answer.” Then he urged the words of John, “if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” He asked, ‘what did I say to that " 'I said with the same apostle, “ if we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in