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sheep-pens, made of marble, and beautified with stately walks and galleries, within which the people assembled, to give their suffrages, at the election of magistrates. Into it they ascended, not by stairs, but by certain bridges, not made over water, but over dry land: and as the people ascended, there were officers to stop the sexagenarii, which they did, by thrusting them off the bridges, whence the proverb, "De ponte dejici," is to be denied the privilege of voting; and the persons so dealt with were called Depontani.
This innocent proverb, the old lord taking by the wrong handle, construed as a great affront to him, (though he took no present notice of it to Richard Claridge,) and ever after bore a deep grudge against him, believing that he used it as a reflection, and that he took him to be unfit for, and incapable of public business, when indeed be had no thought of such a thing.
On the 2d of the Seventh Month, 1707, he was cited to appear personally at Doctors' Commons, on the 29th of the Eighth Month following, between the hours of nine and twelve in the forenoon, to answer to several articles, and especially for teaching boys and young men in the rudiments of the grammar, and English tongue, and other school-learning, without licence, in that behalf first had and obtained.
He thereupon retained a proctor to appear for him, and heard no more of it, the business dropping, as the proctor informed him, for want of a promoter.
On the 14th of the First Month, Justice Smithson, at a parish vestry, said, That Richard Claridge was represented at Hicks'-hall, as a danger
ous person, and might be a Papist or Jesuit, and therefore must be taken up; and accordingly, on the 20th of the same month, he was served with a warrant, summoning him to appear before the justices at Edmonton, to take the oaths appointed by act of parliament.
He appeared at the time and place appointed, and subscribed the declaration in the act of indulgence, and the profession of faith therein expressed, being all they required of him.
After the business of the summons aforesaid was over, and they had no more to do with him as justices, the matter of his school being not in the summons, though that was the main thing which in their opinion rendered him dangerous to the government, the Lord Colerane was pleased to begin with him about that, saying, “Mr. Claridge, you have been in our parish now almost a year, and here you teach a school: from whence you came, and what you are, we know not; I must tell you, I cannot bear that you should teach school under my nose." R. C. answered, "Thou must bear it, for I have a right to teach school." Justice Smithson asked him, "Have you a licence from my Lord Bishop of London ?" R. C. replied, "I am not obliged to answer that question, but I have a right as I am informed."
Being asked by one of them, Who informed him so ? He answered, "Counsel, with whom I have advised." The Lord Colerane said, That should be tried. R. C. replied, " As I have a right, so I do intend to defend it." The Lord Colerane said, "Look you, brother Smithson, he gives us a challenge, if you will join with me, we will try whether he has a right or no." Whereupon, they took
one another by the hand, and said, They would spend five hundred pounds, but they would suppress his school.
R. C. said, It was hard that great men should join their purses to crush one that did them no wrong, nor gave them any just occasion of offence: however, he had rather try it with them, than with more inferior persons; adding, that he did not regard their threatenings a rush.
The Lord Colerane said, "I am eminently concerned for the free-school, and your school is an injury to that, and you corrupt the youth with erroneous principles, and therefore it shall be suppressed."
R. C. replied, "That is an erroneous charge; for I do not corrupt the youth, but instruct them in the principles of truth and righteousness. Nor do I do an injury to the free-school, but am rather a benefactor to it; for several of those poor children, which the master has a salary to teach, but were, as their parents informed me, neglected, I teach gratis; so that in plain terms, I do the work, and he receives the wages." And whereas it was objected, that he endeavoured to get scholars from the free-school, he told them, He used no such endeavours; but the parents voluntarily brought their children to him, and entreated him to teach them.
It was observed by some indifferent persons, who were present at Edmonton aforesaid, and heard the whole matter, that his adversaries were full of anger, and their countenances, as well as words and actions, plainly discovered it. They were impatient of opposition, and treated him with spleen and ignominy, below the rules of decency, or the
civil treatment that was due to him as a scholar, and one who had been Master of Arts in the University of Oxford, and who had written several learned treatises, both before, and since he left the Church of England. But, to speak freely, there were some who thought, that his leaving that church, and writing so learnedly in defence of the Quakers' principles, as in his "Lux Evangelica Attestata," and his "Melius Inquirendum," before mentioned, the latter of which had not been long published, gave occasion to some of the clergy to stir up these great men, whose tables they frequented, to raise this storm against him.
His adversaries, in their report of what had passed in this discourse, did afterward pervert his words; calling his innocent boldness, sauciness; and his modest declaring, upon their threats, his purpose to defend himself, they called a challenge; and gave out, that they should not have prosecuted him, had he not dared, and challenged them to it which allegation of theirs, their own act doth plainly confute; for they had put him into Doctors' Commons, on the 7th of September, 1707, which was above half a year before any of this discourse between them.
On the 25th of the Second Month, 1708, after their evening worship, the justices, Colerane and Smithson, moved for a subscription by the parishioners, to raise money to carry on a prosecution against him, for teaching school, pretending his teaching was in prejudice to the free-school. But the greater part of the persons present stoutly opposed it; so that being unable to carry their point, they determined to proceed at the charge of themselves, and two or three others like-minded. On
the 28th of the same month he was served with a second citation.
Whereupon he again retained his proctor, to whom, on the 14th of the Third Month following, the adversary's proctor sent a copy of the articles, which he said he intended to exhibit the next court-day; in these articles, Crocker the promoter, who was an apparitor, was dropped, and one Edward Earl, the Lord Colerane's footman, and who had been formerly in the same post under Justice Smithson, was set up to prosecute. This Earl, being asked by a neighbour, why he prosecuted Richard Claridge, in Doctors' Commons, answered, “I don't know what you mean : but a paper was brought to me, and I was desired to put my hand to it, and was told that I should come to no harm, or damage; and if that be it, I put my hand to it; but I was innocent, and knew nothing of the matter. I did not read the paper,
nor knew what it was."
On the 21st of the Third Month, his proctor being informed what the said Edward Earl was, namely, a footman; one that was no housekeeper, nor had any visible estate; he signified to the adversary's proctor, that he would not admit of Earl, but expected a substantial man, that had a visible estate, and would come into the court, and own the promotion; whereupon the court requiring security for Edward Earl's trying of the cause, the Lord Colerane's bailiff was bound with him, in a bond of 1001. to the Bishop of London.
On the 7th of the Fourth Month, several inhabitants of Tottenham, to the number of nine, eight of whom were parents of children whom he had taught, were cited to the consistory at Paul's to