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I have more yet to offer why sentence should not be given against me. Then I asked, in what year of the king the Jast assize here was holden, which was in the month called March last : and the judge said it was in the sixteenth year of the king. But said 1, the indictment says it was in the fifteenth year; and they looked and found it so. This also was acknowledged to be another error: but then they were all in a fret again, both judge and justices, and could not tell what to say ; for the judge had sworn the officers of the court, that the oath was tendered to me at the assize mentioned in the indictment. Now, said I, is not the court here forsworn also, who have sworn that the oath was tendered to me at the assize holden here in the fifteenth year of the king, when as it was in his sixteenth year, and so they have sworn a whole year false? The judge bid them look whether Margaret Fell's indictment was so or no: and they looked, and found it was not so. I told the judge I had more yet to offer to stop, sentence; and I asked him, whether all the oath ought to be put into the indictment or no? yes, said he, it ought to be all put in. Then said I, compare the indictment with the oath, and there thou mayest see these words, viz. (or by any authority derived, or pretended to be derived from him, or his see] left out of the indictment, which is a principal part of the oath, and in another place the words [heirs and successors] are left out; the judge did acknowledge these also to be great errors. But, said I, I have not yet done, I have yet something further to allege. Nay, said the judge, I have enough, you need say no more. If, said I, thou hast enough, I desire nothing but law and justice at thy hands, for 1 dont look for mercy. You must have justice, said he, and you shall have law. Then I asked, am I at liberty and free from all that ever hath been done against me in this matter? Yes, said the judge, you are free from all that hath been done against you. But then, starting up in a rage, he said, I can put the oath to any man here, and I will tender you the oath again. I told him he had examples enough yesterday of swearing and false swearing, both in the justices and the jury; for I saw before mine eyes, that both justices and jury had forsworn themselves. T'he judge asked me if I would take the oath? I bid him do me justice for my false imprisonment all this while; for what had I been imprisoned so long for; and I told him I ought to be set at liberty. You are at liberty, said he, but I will put the oath to you again. Then I turned me about and said, All people take notice, this is a snare, for I ought to be set free from the jailer and from
this court. But the judge cried, Give him the book; and the sheriff and the justices cried, Give bim the book. Then the power of darkness rose up in them like a mountain, and a clerk lift 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 in it and said, I see it is a bible, I am glad of it. Now 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, for he should have business for them, and therefore they must attend, and be ready when they were called. And 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 saw him. Nevertheless hardening himself, he caused the oath to be read to me, the jury standing by; and 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. Now, said I, I say as the book says, and yet ye imprison me; how chance ye do not imprison the book for saying so ? How comes it that the book is at liberty amongst you which bids me not swear, and yet ye imprison me for doing as the book bids me? Why dont ye imprison the book ? Now as I was speaking this to them, and held up the bible open in my hand, to shew them the place in the book where Christ forbid swearing, they plucked the book out of my hand again ; 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. Now.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; and how they had sworn one way and then another; and how the justices and court had forsworn themselves now? And I told him I was a man of a tender con: science, 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 did alter that command and commanded Christians to swear, then ye shall see I will swear. And 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 any answer. O, said the judge, all the world cannot convince you. No, said I, how is it like the world should convince me? for the whole world lies in wickedness; but bring out your spiritual men (as je call them) to convince me.- Then the sheriff said, and the judge said the same, that the angel swore in the Revelations. I replied, when God bringeth in 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 spake 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, that as for plots and persecution for religion and popery, I do deny them in my heart, for I am a Christian, and shall shew forth Christianity amongst you this day, and it is for Christ's doctrine I stand. More words I had both with the judge and jury before the jailer 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 at length the jailer 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 indict. ment, 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. But 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 would answer it. This put them to a little stand; but after a while the judge asked me what time I would have? I said, till the next assize. But, said he, what plea will ye now make, are you guilty, or not guilty? I said, I am not guilty at all of denying swearing obstinately and wilfully; and as for those things nientioned in the oath, as jesuitical plots and foreign
powers, I utterly deny them in my heart; and if I could
oath I should take that, but I never took any oath in all my life. The judge said "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 the martyrs had refused to swear, both within 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. Then 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 and our nay, let us suffer as they do, or should do, that swear falsely; and this 1.told him we had offered to the king, and the king said it was reasonable.
So after some further discourse had passed, they committed me to prison again, there to lie till the next assize; and colonel Kirby gave order to the jailer 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.' Then was I put up into a smoky tower, where the smoke of the other prisoners came up so thick, that it stood as dew upon the walls, and sometimes the smoke would be so thick that I could hardly see the candle when it burned ; and I being locked under three locks, the under-jailer, when the smoke was great, would hardly be persuaded to come up to un. lock 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 being high and fierce, would blow it out again. In this manner did i lie 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 16th day of the month called March, 1661. And the same judges, Twisden and Turner, coming that circuit again, judge Twisden sate this tine on the crown-bench, and before him I was brought. Now I had informed myself again of the errors that were in this indictment also; for though at the assize before, judge
Turner bad 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 there were many errors, and those great ones, in this indictment, as well as in the former. And surely the band 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, and 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. And 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 against 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 said to it, or whether I had taken the oath at the last assize. I told him what I had said, viz. that the book they gave me to swear on, saith, swear not at all; and I repeated more of 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, J have something to speak to the jury concerning the indictment. He told me I must not speak to the jury, but if 1 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? Hereplied, to the subjects of this realm, for I will speak nothing to you, said he, but in point of law. Then, said I, look the indictment, and thou mayest see that the word subject is left out of this indictment also. And therefore seeing the oath is not to be tendered to any but the sub, jects 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 spoke thus, but the judge cried, Take him away, jailer, take him away ; so I was presently hurried away. And the jailer and people looked when I should be called for again, but I was never brought forth to the court any more, though I had many other great errors to assign in