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at liberty.’ ‘You are at liberty,’ said he, “but I will put the oath to you again.' Then I turned about, and said, “all people take notice this is a snare, for I ought to be set free from the gaoler and from this court,’ But the judge cried, ‘give him the book, and the sheriff and the justices cried, ‘give him the book.” Then the power of darkness rose up in them, like a mountain, and a clerk listed up a book to me. I stood still, and said, “if it be a bible, give it me into my hand.’ ‘Yes, yes,” said the judge and justices, ‘give it him into his hand.’ So I took it, and looked into it, and said, ‘I see it is a bible, I am glad of it.” He had caused the jury to be called, and they stood by ; for after they had brought in their former verdict, he would not dismiss them though they desired it; but told them, “he could not dismiss them yet, he should have business for them; therefore they must attend, and be ready when they were called.” When he said so, I felt his intent, that if I was freed, he would come on again. So I looked him in the face, and the witness of God started up in him, and made him blush when he looked at me again; for he saw that I discovered him. Nevertheless, hardening himself, he caused the oath to be read to me, the jury standing by. When it was read, he asked me, “whether I would take the oath or no?” Then said I, ‘ye have given me a book here to kiss, and to swear on; and this book which ye have given me to kiss, says, “kiss the Son;” and the Son says in this book, “swear not at all;” and so says also the apostle James. I say as the book says, yet ye imprison me. How chance ye do not imprison the book for saying so? how comes it that the book is at liberty among you, which bids me not to swear, and yet ye imprison me for doing as the book bids me !” Now, as I was speaking this to them, and held up the bible open in my hand, to show them the place where Christ forbade swearing, they plucked the book out of my hand, and the judge said, “nay, but we will imprison George Fox.” Yet this got abroad over all the country as a by-word, ‘that they gave me a book to swear on that commanded me “not to swear at all;” and that the bible was at liberty, and I in prison for doing as the bible said.’ When the judge still urged me to swear, I told him, ‘I never took oath, covenant, nor engagement in my life; but my yea or nay was more binding to me than an oath was to many others; for had they not had experience how little men regarded an oath 7 and how they had sworn one way and then another ? and how the justices and court had forsworn themselves now ! I told him I was a man of a tender conscience, and if they had any sense of a tender conscience, they would consider, that it was in obedience to Christ's command that I could not swear. But,' said I, “if any of you can convince me, that, after Christ and the apostle had commanded not to swear, they altered that command, and commanded christians to swear, ye shall see I will swear.” There being many priests by, I
said, “if ye cannot do it, let your priests stand up and do it.' But not one of the priests made answer. ‘ Oh!’ said the judge, ‘all the world cannot convince you.’ ‘No,' said I, ‘how is it like the world should convince me ! “The whole world lies in wickedness.' But bring out your spiritual men, as ye call them, to convince me.' Then both the sheriff and the judge said, ‘the angels swore in the Revelations.' I replied, “when God bringeth his first-begotten Son into the world, he saith, “Let all the angels of God worship him;” and he saith, “Swear not at all.” “Nay, said the judge, ‘I will not dispute.” Then I spoke to the jury, telling them, ‘it was for Christ's sake that I could not swear, and therefore I warned them not to act contrary to that of God in their consciences; for before his judgment-seat they must all be brought. And I told them, “as for plots, and persecution for religion and popery, I deny them in my heart; for I am a christian, and shall show forth christianity amongst you this day. It is for Christ's doctrine I stand.’
More words I had both with the judge and jury before the gaoler took me away.
In the afternoon I was brought up again, and put among the thieves a pretty while, where I stood with my hat on till the gaoler took it off. Then the jury having found this new indictment against me, “for not taking the oath,' I was called to the bar, and the judge asked me, ‘what I would say for myself!” I bid them read the indictment, for I would not answer to that which I did not hear. The clerk read it, and as he read the judge said, “take heed it be not false again;' but he read it in such a manner, that I could hardly understand what he read. When he had done, the judge asked me, “what I said to the indictment?” I told him, “at once hearing so large a writing read, and that at such a distance, that I could not distinctly hear all the parts of it, I could not well tell what to say to it; but if he would let me have a copy of it, and give me time to consider of it, I should answer it.’ This put them to a little stand; but after awhile the judge asked me, “what time I would have " I said, “till the next assize.” “But,” said he, “what plea will ye now make 1 Are you guilty, or not guilty? I said, ‘I am not guilty at all of denying to swear obstinately and wilfully; and as for those things mentioned in the oath, as jesuitical plots and foreign powers, I utterly deny them in my heart. If I could take any oath I should take that; but I never took any oath in my life.” The judge answered, ‘I said well; but,' said he, “the king is sworn, the parliament is sworn, I am sworn, and the justices are sworn, and the law is preserved by oaths.’ I told him, “they had had sufficient experience of men's swearing, and he had seen how the justices and jury had sworn wrong the other day; and if he had read in the book of martyrs how many of them had refused to swear, both in the time of the ten persecutions and in Bishop Bonner's days, he might see, that to deny swearing in obedience to Christ's command was no new thing.' He said, “he wished the laws were otherwise.” I said, “our yea is yea, and our nay is nay; and if we transgress our yea or our nay, let us suffer as they do, or should do, that swear falsely.” This, I told him, we had offered to the king, and the king said “it was reasonable.” After some further discourse, they committed me to prison again, there to lie till the next assize; and colonel Kirby gave order to the gaoler, “to keep me close, and suffer no flesh alive to come at me; for I was not fit,” he said, ‘to be discoursed with by men.' I was put into a tower, where the smoke of the other prisoners came up so thick, it stood as dew upon the walls, and sometimes it was so thick that I could hardly see the candle when it burned; and I being locked under three locks, the under-gaoler, when the smoke was great, would hardly be persuaded to come up to unlock one of the uppermost doors, for fear of the smoke, so that I was almost smothered. Besides it rained in upon my bed; and many times, when I went to stop out the rain in the cold winter season, my shirt would be as wet as muck with the rain that came in upon me while I was labouring to stop it out. And the place being high and open to the wind, sometimes as fast as I stopped it the wind would blow it out again. In this manner did I lay all that long cold winter till the next assize, in which time I was so starved with cold and rain, that my body was greatly swelled, and my limbs much benumbed. The assize began on the sixteenth of the month called March, 1664-5. The same judges, Twisden and Turner, coming that circuit again, judge Twisden sat this time on the crown-bench, and before him I was brought. I had informed myself of the errors in this indictment also. For though at the assize before, judge Turner said to the officers in court, ‘pray, see that all the oath be in the indictment, and that the word subject be in, and that the day of the month and year of the king be put in right; for it is a shame that so many errors should be seen and found in the face of the country;' yet many errors, and those great ones, were in this indictment as well as in the former. Surely the hand of the Lord was in it, to confound their mischievous work against me, and to blind them therein; insomuch that although, after the indictment was drawn at the former assize, the judge examined it himself, and tried it with the clerks, yet the word subject was left out of this indictment also, the day of the month was put in wrong, and several material words of the oath were left out; yet they went on confidently against me, thinking all was safe and well. When I was set to the bar, and the jury called over to be sworn, the clerk asked me, first, “whether I had any objection to make to any of the jury " I told him, ‘I knew none of them.” Then, having
sworn the jury, they swore three of the officers of the court, to prove, “that the oath was tendered to me at the last assizes, according to the indictment.’ “Come, come,' said the judge, ‘it was not done in a corner.” Then he asked me, ‘what I had to say to it; or whether I had taken the oath at the last assize?' I told him what I had formerly said to them, as it now came to my remembrance. Whereupon the judge said, ‘I will not dispute with you but in point of law.’ ‘Then,' said I, ‘I have something to speak to the jury concerning the indictment.’ He told me, “I must not speak to the jury; but if I had any thing to say, I must speak to him.’ Then I asked him, “whether the oath was to be tendered to the king's subjects only, or to the subjects of foreign princes” He replied, ‘to the subjects of this realm; for I will speak nothing to you,' said he, “but in point of law.’ ‘Then, said I, ‘look in the indictment, and thou mayest see the word subject is left out of this indictment also. Therefore, seeing the oath is not to be tendered to any but the subjects of this realm, and ye have not put me in as a subject, the court is to take no notice of this indictment.’ I had no sooner spoken thus, but the judge cried, “take him away, gaoler, take him away.” So I was presently hurried away. The gaoler and people looked when I should be called for again; but I was never brought to the court any more, though I had many other great errors to assign in the indictment. After I was gone, the judge asked the jury, “if they were agreed?' They said, ‘yes;' and found for the king against me, as I was told. But I was never called to hear sentence given, nor was any given against me that I could hear of I understand, when they looked narrowly into the indictment, they saw it was not good; and the judge having sworn the officers of the court, that the oath was tendered me at the assize before such a day, according as was set in the indictment, and that being the wrong day, I should have proved the officers of the court forsworn men again, if the judge would have suffered me to go on to plead to the indictment; which was thought to be the reason why he hurried me away so soon. The judge had passed sentence of premunire upon Margaret Fell before I was brought in ; and it seems, when I was hurried away, they recorded me as a premunired person, though I was never brought to hear the sentence, nor knew of it; which was very illegal. For they ought not only to have had me present to hear the sentence given, but also to have asked me first, ‘what I could say why sentence should not be given against me !' But they knew I had so much to say they could not give sentence if they heard me. While I was prisoner in Lancaster castle, there was great noise and talk of the Turk's overspreading Christendom, and great fears entered many. But one day, as I was walking in my prison chamber, “I saw the Lord's power turn against him, and that he was turning back again.' Wol. II. 7
I declared to some what the Lord had let me see, when there were such fears of his overrunning Christendom; and within a month after the news came down, wherein it was mentioned, “that they had given him a defeat.” Another time, as I was walking in my chamber, with my eye to the Lord, ‘I saw the angel of the Lord, with a glittering drawn sword stretched southward, as though the court had been all on a fire.' Not long after the wars broke out with Holland, and the sickness broke forth, and afterwards the fire of London; so the Lord's sword was drawn indeed. Now by reason of my long and close imprisonment in so bad a place, I was become very weak of body; but the Lord's power was over all, supported me through all, and enabled me to do service for him, and for his truth and people, as the place would admit. For while I was in Lancaster prison, I answered several books, as the Mass, the Common Prayer, the Directory, and the Church Faith; which are the four chief religions that are got up since the apostles' days. And there being several Friends in prison at Lancaster and other prisons for not paying tithes, I was moved to give forth the following lines concerning tithes:
“In the time of the law, those that did not bring their tithes into the storehouse robbed God; then there was not meat in their house; therefore the Lord commanded, “To bring them into his house, that there might be meat in the storehouse, which was to seed the fatherless stranger, and widow.” But these priests who are counterfeits, who take people's tithes now by a law, are from the beast; and if any will not pay them, they prison them, or make them pay treble. These rob the poor, rob the fatherless, and the stranger and widow are not filled; so their cry is gone up to heaven against these. Many are made almost beggars by these oppressing priests, their cattle and corn being taken away from them, and they cast into prison. Others are sued at law by the priests, and have treble damage taken from them; yet such priests are cried up to be ministers of the gospel. Though when the unchangeable priest was come, the priesthood that was changeable was denied, as we now deny these. But if any be moved now to cry against them, they are stocked, beat, or imprisoned. Many are now in prison at Lancaster and other places by a national law, the like whereof was never done by the law of God delivered to Moses. We do not read that under Moses' law any suffered imprisonment, or spoiling of goods for not paying tithes, or was to pay treble damage. Surely, surely, the cry for vengeance will be heard, which arises from the oppressed souls that lie under the altar. There are many prisoners at Kendal, because they cannot pay tithes, as captain Ward, Thomas Robertson, and the widow Garland, who hath many small children: these suffer because they cannot pay tithes.