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1677--1680.-George Fox, with other Friends, sails for England, and lands at Har.
wich, after a hazardous voyage of three days—has a large meeting at Colchester, and proceeds thence to London—writes to his wife-receives further accounts of persecution in New England-travels into Buckinghamshire, and meets with some false brethren, who are unruly and troublesome at meetings~Friends have a special meeting with them afterwards—at Reading mects with opposition to the settlement of a women's meeting-visits Bristol during the fair, where are many Friends from various parts—the separatists there are very rude and abusive-he aids Friends in drawing up a breviat of their sufferings, to present to the judges at Gloucester assizes-meets with some separatists at Finchcomb-is engaged with other Friends in soliciting Parliament to grant them relief from the statutes made against Popish recusants-attends the Yearly Meeting, which was a glorious and heavenly one-Friends greatly united in testifying against the spirit of separation-not one mouth opened on its behalf-the Truth prospers at home and abroad-George Fox writes to his wife-writes to the king of Poland to dissuade him from persecution—to Friends in Amsterdam-Friends again press their suit for relief from the statutes made against Popish recusants without success—are much exercised with the spirit of separation, which opposes the order and discipline of the church-George Fox writes a paper to open the understandings of the weak, and as a reproof to a censorious judging spirit-has conferences with some of the opposers at Hertford-writes again to Friends to warn them of this spirit of false liberty-visits Friends in prison at Leicester-advises Friends how to end their differences—writes an epistle to Friends in London—writes to Friends in prison to console them under suffering-writes an epistle to the Yearly Meeting -an encouragement to Friends to be valiant for the Truth-also a caution to Friends to keep in humility-travels again towards the South-visits prisoners ju York Castle-recommends Friends to lay their sufferings before the judge at the assizes-attends the Yearly Meeting in London-writes to the Great Turk and to the Dey of Algiers—to the latter particularly respecting Friends who are captives there-at Hertford meets with John Story (the schismatic) and some of his party, but the Truth prevails--has a meeting with some of the opposerssolicits the Parliament to grant relief to Friends under suffering—writes a paper against plots and plotters.
FINDING our spirits clear of the service which the Lord had given us to do in Holland, we took leave of Friends of Rotterdam, and passed by boat to the BRIEL, in order to take passage that day for England; several Friends of Rotterdam accompanying us, and some of Amsterdam, who were come to see us again before we left Holland. But the packet not coming in till night, we lodged that night at the Briel; and next day, being the 21st of the 8th month, and the First-day of the week, we went on board, and set sail about ten, viz., William Penn, George Keith, and I, and Gertrude Dirick Nieson, with her children.
We were in all about sixty passengers, and had a long and hazardous passage; for the winds were contrary, and the weather stormy; the boat also was very leaky, insomuch that we had to have two pumps continually going, day and night; so that, it was thought, there was quite as much water pumped out as the vessel would have held. But the Lord, who is
able to make the stormy winds to cease, and the raging traves of the sea calm, yea, to raise them and stop them at his pleasure, He alone did preserve us : praised be his name for ever! Though our passage was hard, yet we had a fine time, and good service for truth on board among the passengers, some of whom were great folks, and were very kind and loving. We arrived at HARWICH on the 23d, at night, having been two nights and almost three days at sea. Next morning William Penn and George Keith took horse for Colchester; but I stayed, and had a meeting at Harwich; and there being no Colchester coach there, and the post-master's wife being unreasonable in her demands for a coach, and deceiving us of it also after we had hired it, we went to a Friend's house about a mile and a half in the country, and hired his waggon, which we bedded well with straw, and rode in it to Colchester.
I stayed there till First-day, having a desire to be at Friends' meeting that day; and a very large and weighty one it was; for Friends, hearing of my return from Holland, flocked from several parts of the country, and many of the town's-people coming in also, it was thought there were about a thousand people at it; and all was peaceable. Having stayed a day or two longer at Colchester, I travelled through Essex, visiting Friends at HALSTEAD, BRAINTREE, FELSTEAD, and SALING, and having meetings with them. At CHELMSFORD I had a meeting in the evening; and there being many Friends prisoners, they got liberty and came to the meeting; and we were all refreshed together in the Lord. Next day, the 9th of the 9th month, I got to LONDON, where Friends received me with great joy; and on the First-day following went to Gracechurch Street meeting, where the Lord visited us with his refreshing presence, and the glory of the Lord surrounded the meeting: praised be the Lord.
After I had been a little while in London, I wrote the following letter to my wife :
“DEAR HEART, “To whom is my love, and to the children, and to all the rest of Friends, in the Lord's truth, power, and Seed, that is over all; glory to the Lord, and blessed be his name for ever beyond all words! who hath carried me through and over many trials and dangers, in his eternal power! I have been twice at Gracechurch Street meeting; and though the opposite spirits were there, yet all was quiet; the dew of heaven fell upon the people, and the glory of the Lord shone over all. Every day I am fain to be at meetings about business, and sufferings, which are great abroad; and now many Friends are concerned with many persons about them : so in haste, with my love to you all —"
G. F. London, the 24th of the 9th Month, 1677.
About this time I received letters from New England, which gave account of the magistrates' and rulers' cruel and unchristian-like proceedings against Friends there, whipping and abusing them very shamefully; for they whipped many women Friends. One woman they tied to a cart, and dragged her along the street, stripped above the waist. They whipped some masters of ships that were not Friends, only for bringing Friends thither. And at that very time, while they were persecuting Friends in this barbarous manner, the Indians slew threescore of their men, took one of their captains, and flayed the skin off his head while he was alive, and carried it away in triumph; so that the sober people said “the judgments of God came upon them for persecuting the Quakers ;” but the blind dark priests said, “it was because they did not persecute them enough."* Great exercise I had in seeking relief here for our poor suffering Friends there, that they might not lie under the rod of the wicked.
Upon this and other services for truth, I stayed in London a month or five weeks, visiting meetings, and helping and encouraging Friends to labour for the deliverance of their suffering brethren in other parts. Afterwards I went down to KINGSTON, and visited Friends there and thereaway. Having stayed a little among Friends there, looking over a book I had then ready to go to press, I went into Buckinghamshire, visiting Friends, and having several meetings amongst them, as at AMERSHAM, HUNGER-HILL, JORDANS, HEDGERLY, WICKHAM, and TURVILLE-HEATH. In some of which, they that were gone out from the unity of Friends in truth into strife, opposition, and division, were very unruly and troublesome; particularly at the men's meeting at Thomas Ellwood's at HUNGER-HILL, where the chief of them came from Wickham, endeavouring to make disturbance, and to hinder Friends from proceeding in the business of the meeting. When I saw their design I admonished them to be sober and quiet, and not trouble the meeting by interrupting its service; but rather, if they were dissatisfied with Friends' proceedings, and had anything to object, let a meeting be appointed on purpose some other day. So Friends offered them to give them a meeting another day: and at length it was agreed to be at Thomas Ell. wood's † the week following. Accordingly Friends met them there, and the meeting was in the barn; for there came so many, that the house could not receive them. After we had sat a while they began their jangling. Most of their arrows were shot at me; but the Lord was with me, and gave me strength in his power to cast back their darts of envy and falsehood upon themselves. Their objections were answered, and things were
* For full particulars of the great intolerance and spirit of persecution manifested by the Puritans of New England towards the Quakers, the reader is referred to Bowden's History of Friends in America, vol. v., from the commencement to p. 308.
† Thomas Ellwood is only mentioned twice incidentally in these volumes. It was he who, after the death of George Fox, transcribed this excellent work for the press. (See Letters, Soc., of Early Friends, p. 213.) He was also the author of several works, including A Life of David, in verse; a work on tithes ; a Sacred History, &c. Ellwood was born in 1639, at Crowell, in Oxfordshire, and joined Friends when about twenty years of age. Brought up in ease, luxury, and fashion, he had much to learn; much to unlearn, much to forsake, of the manners, the pride, and the will. worship of the world; and to follow after that plainness and purity of life unto which the spirit of truth leads. Nothing but religion could have enabled one, with a disposition naturally so high and resolute as his, to submit, as he did, to buffetings, beatings, cruel treatment, and persecution, with becoming meekness and patience.
In 1662, Ellwood became the companion of the poet Milton, and it was he who suggested to the latter the writing of Paradise Regained. He had a peculiar gift for government in the church, and was very serviceable therein; an ornament to the meeting he belonged to, and much missed when he died. According to his bio
opened to the people; a good opportunity it was, and serviceable to the truth; for many that before were weak, were now strengthened and confirmed; some that were doubting and wavering, were satisfied and settled ; and faithful Friends were refreshed and comforted in the springings of life amongst us. For the power arose, and life sprung, and in the arisings thereof many living testimonies were borne against that wicked, dividing, rending spirit, which those opposers were joined to, and acted by; and the meeting ended to the satisfaction of Friends. That night I lodged with other Friends, at Thomas Ellwood's; and the saine week had a meeting again with the opposers at WICKHAM, where they again showed their envy, and were made manifest to the upright-hearted.
After I had visited Friends in that upper side of Buckinghamshire, I called upon Friends at HENLEY in OXFORDSHIRE, and afterwards went by CORSHAM to READING, where I was at meeting on First-day, and in the evening had a large meeting with Friends. Next day there being another meeting about settling a women's meeting, some of them that had let in the spirit of division, fell into jangling, and were disorderly for a while, till the weight of truth brought them down. After this I passed on, visiting Friends, and having meetings in several places, through BERKSHIRE and WILTSHIRE, till I came to BRISTOL, which was on the 24th of the 11th Month, just before the fair.
I stayed at Bristol all the time of the fair, and some time after. Many sweet and precious meetings we had ; many Friends being there from several parts of the nation, some on account of trade, and some in the service of truth. Great was the love and unity of Friends that abode faithful in the truth, though some who were gone out of the holy unity, and were run into strife, division, and enmity, were rude and abusive, and behaved themselves in a very unchristian manner towards me. But the Lord's power was over all; by which being preserved in heavenly patience, which can bear injuries for his name's sake, I felt dominion therein over the rough, rude, and unruly spirits; and left them to the Lord, who knew my innocency, and would plead my cause. The more these laboured to reproach and vilify me, the more did the love of Friends, that were sincere and upright-hearted, abound towards me; and some that had been betrayed by the adversaries, seeing their envy and rude behaviour, broke off from them; who have cause to bless the Lord for their deliverance.
When I left Bristol, I went with Richard Snead to his house in the country, and thence to Hezekiah Coale's at WINTERBOURNE, in GLOUCESTERSHIRE, whither came several Friends that were under great sufferings for truth's sake, whom I had invited to meet me there. Stephen Smith, * grapher, he was “a man of a comely aspect, of a free and generous disposition, of a courteous and affable temper, and pleasant conversation; a gentleman born and bred; a scholar, a true Christian, an eminent author, a good neighbour, a kind friend.” He proved a very useful and acceptable elder in the church, devoting nearly the whole of his time and talents to its service. He died in 1713, and was buried at Jordans, leaving behind him a most interesting autobiography, to which the reader is referred for further particulars.
* This being the last mention of Stephen Smith, it may be added, that he was born in 1623, and being convinced in 1665, suffered both in person and estate by Richard Snead, and I, drew up a breviat of their sufferings, setting forth the illegal proceedings against them, which was delivered to the judges at the assizes at Gloucester; and they promised to put a stop to those illegal proceedings. Next day we passed to SUDBURY, and had a large meeting in the meeting-house there, which at that time was of very good service. We went next day to Nathaniel Crips's at TEDBURY, and thence passed on to NAILSWORTH; where on First-day we had a brave meeting, and large. Thence we went to the quarterly meeting at FINCHCOMB, where were several of the opposite spirit, who, it was thought, intended to make some disturbance amongst Friends; but the Lord's power was over, and kept them down, and good service for the Lord we had at that meeting. We returned from Finchcomb to NAILSWORTH, and had another very precious meeting there, to which Friends came from the several meetings thereabouts; which made it very large also.
We went from Nailsworth the 1st of the 1st Month, 1678, and travelled through the country visiting Friends and having many meetings at CIRENCESTER, CROWN-ALLINS, CHELTENHAM, STOKE-ORCHARD, TEWKESBURY, &c., so went to WORCESTER, where I had formerly suffered imprisonment above a year for truth's sake; and Friends rejoiced greatly to see me there again. Here I stayed several days, and had many very precious meetings in the city, and much service amongst Friends. After which, I had meetings at PERSHORE and EVESHAM; and then struck to RAGLEY in WARWICKSHIRE, to visit the Lady Conway, * who I understood was very desirous to see me, and whom I found tender and loving, and willing to detain me longer than I had freedom to stay. About two miles hence I had two meetings at a Friend's house, whose name was John Stanley, whither William Dewsbury came, and stayed with me about half a day. Afterwards I visited Friends in their meetings, at STRATFORD, LAMCOAT, and ARMSCOTT (whence I was sent prisoner to Worcester in 1673), and thence passed into OXFORDSHIRE, visiting Friends, and having meetings at SIBFORD, NORTE
imprisonment and spoiling of goods, for his testimony on behalf of Christ. He was a man of account in the world, who, in his younger years, travelled much abroad, having resided some time at Scanderoon, in Syria, as a merchant, and afterwards published a work called, Wholesome Advice and Information, wherein he shows how much some of the Turks exceeded some Christians in their dealings.
He was an honest upright man, one that feared God and was of good report, being a preacher of righteousness in his daily conduct, ever ready to do good. He became a valiant gospel minister, and spoke to the comfort and encouragement of those that heard him, travelling in many parts of England in gospel service. He died in peace at his own house, ncar Guildford, in Surrey, in 1678. He wrote many serviceable works, which were collected and published in an Svo volume, entitled, The True Light Discovered to all who Desire to Walk in the Day.
* Lady Conway was a person of great piety, and a favourer of Friends. In a letter to the learned and excellent Dr. Henry More, who was her particular friend, she thus expresses herself concerning them :
“Your conversation with them (the Friends) at London might be, as you express it, charitably intended, like that of a physician frequenting his patients for the increase or confirmation of their health ; but I must confess, that my converse with them is, to receive health and refreshment from them."-See Appendix to Barclay's second edition of Isaac Pennington's Letters, p. 311.