by George Fox

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IV.--A Willing Sufferer

While I was in the house of correction at Derby as a blasphemer, my relations came to see me, and being troubled for my imprisonment they went to the justices that cast me into prison, and desired to have me home with them, offering to be bound in one hundred pounds, and others of Derby with them in fifty pounds each, that I should come no more thither to declare against the priests. So I was had up before the justices, and because I would not consent that they or any should be bound for me--for I was innocent from any ill-behaviour, and had spoken the word of life and truth unto them--Justice Bennett rose up in a rage; and as I was kneeling down to pray to the Lord to forgive him, he ran upon me, and struck me with both his hands. Whereupon I was had again to the prison, and there kept until six months were expired.

Now the time of my commitment being nearly ended, the keeper of the house of correction was commanded to bring me before the commissioners and soldiers in the market-place, and there they offered me preferment, as they called it, asking me if I would take up arms for the commonwealth against Charles Stuart; but I told them I lived in the virtue of that life and power that took away the occasion of all wars, and was come into the covenant of peace which was before wars and strifes were.

I then passed through the country, clearing myself amongst the people; and some received me lovingly, and some slighted me. And some when I desired lodging and meat, and would pay for it, would not lodge me except I would go to the constable, which was the custom, they said, of all lodgers at inns, if strangers. I told them I should not go, for that custom was for suspicious persons, but I was an innocent man.

And I passed in the Lord's power into Yorkshire, and came to Tickhill, where I was moved to go to the steeple-house. But when I began to speak they fell upon me, and the clerk took up his Bible and struck me in the face with it, so that it gushed out with blood, and I bled exceedingly in the steeple-house. Then the people got me out and beat me exceedingly, stoning me as they drew me along, so that I was besmeared all over with blood and dirt. Yet when I got upon my legs again I declared to them the word of life. Some moderate justices, hearing of it, came to hear and examine the business, and he that shed my blood was afraid of having his hand cut off for striking me in the church (as they called it), but I forgave him, and would not appear against him.

Then I went to Swarthmore to Judge Fell's, and from there to Ulverstone, where the people heard me gladly, until Justice Sawrey--the first stirrer-up of cruel persecution in the North--incensed them against me, to hale, beat, and bruise me, and the rude multitude, some with staves and others with holly-bushes, beat me on the head, arms, and shoulders till they deprived me of sense. And my body and arms were yellow, black, and blue with the blows I received that day, and I was not able to bear the shaking of a horse without much pain. And Judge Fell, coming home, asked me to give him a relation of my persecution, but I made light of it--as he told his wife--as a man that had not been concerned, for, indeed, the Lord's power healed me again.


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