« PreviousContinue »
NEW ENGLAND JUDGED
SPIRIT OF THE LORD.
AD the Government of Massachusetts, in New England, stated, in their printed Apology, any particular matter of fact whereby the servants of the Lord, William Robinson and Marmaduke Stevenson, whom they caused to be put to death, were legally convicted; or any power from Oid England to enable to such executions; and that, according to the merit of the one and the justice of the other, they had legally proceeded, it had been something like men of reasonable understandings, whom the prince of the air had not darkened into a blind accusing of themselves, by the things they offer in their justification. But when their Apology, which carries in the very name of it an implication of guilt,-for, Nihil opus justitiæ Ciceronis, justice needeth no apology, hath no such thing; and something, as such, no doubt, it would have had as its chiefest concern, could they have produced it, but only generals, which prove nothing; as is the maxim in law, which is grounded upon equity, and Dolus versatur in universalibus, deceit lurks in generals, as is the received axiom of the ancients,-it is evident, that in this affair of so high a nature as of blood, and that for conscience, they are wanting both as to matter of fact deserving, and power enabling to such executions; and so their own vindication-in which they
have not so much as saved to themselves* liberty hereafter to exhibit what they may have further to offer in their own justification-condemns themselves, and makes them appear not only legis culpa, transgressors of the law, but rei sanguinis, guilty of blood. For, when the life of any man is taken away without a legal conviction, by plain and particular matter of fact and due process of law and power of determining, it is violently taken away; and those who thus violently take it are guilty of blood, and are murderers. And this being done by men who sometimes suffered because of conscience, and who for conscience sake pretended to fly their native country, to men and women barely for their conscience to God and the exercise thereof in obedience to the Lord, aggravates the offence beyond comparison, and renders them the most unreasonable of men, as it leaves them without
Having given this short view and state of the case, which, I suppose, is clear to all men of sober understandings, I shall descend more particularly to the Declaration itself, and therein to the order of the proceedings of these men of blood, and the gradation of their laws from imprisonment unto death, as themselves have set it; and evince through all what I have asserted in the title and these first pages of my book.
"We thought it requisite to declare, that about three years "since divers persons, professing themselves Quakers, of whose "pernicious opinions and practices we had received intelligence "from good hands, from Barbadoes to England, arrived at Bos"ton, whose persons were only secured to be sent away the first "opportunity, without censure or punishment; although their "professed tenets, turbulent and contemptuous behaviour to authority, would have justified a severer animadversion; yet the
The Common Law gives no such liberty, but requires a man to choose the particular unto which he will stand; but the Civil, and proceedings of State, allows and uses it upon a particular salvo in the first exhibition, and not afterwards.
prudence of this Court was exercised only in making provision "to secure the peace and order here established against their attempts, whose design-we were well assured by our own experience, as well as by the example of their predecessors in Mun"ster-was to undermine and ruin the same."
That about three years before the date of this, your Declaration, that is to say, in the beginning of the Fifth month, called July, 1656, divers persons, in scorn by you and the world called Quakers, viz., Mary Fisher and Ann Austin, arrived at Boston; and after them, in the month following, viz., the 7th of the Sixth month, 1656, Mary Prince, Sarah Gibbons, Mary Weatherhead, Dorothy Waugh, Christopher Holder, Thomas Thirstone, William Bread, and John Copeland; and, upon their arrival, ye did secure and send them away is truth: and what is truth, I freely own and readily acknowledge. But, that ye only secured them, to send them away the first opportunity; or that ye sent them away the first opportunity, and that without censure or punishment; or that they are a people of such opinions and practices as are pernicious; or of turbulent and contemptuous behaviour, especially to authority; or that ye were or could be well assured, either by your own experience, who had none, or the example of those ye mention in Munster, that their design was to undermine and ruin the peace and order established amongst you in the way of Munster; or that they at Munster are their predecessors, is a heap of calumnies forged out of your own and the brains of your priests, on purpose to asperse the innocent, whose blood ye have spilled.
For, First, they do own themselves to be such as are in scorn called Quakers, "esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt, for [they have] respect unto the recompence of the reward." But that they professed themselves Quakers, owning the brand which ye put upon them of Munster, that is your own, and I must return it to you again, to be laid up in the treasury of wrath, "against the day of wrath and revela
tion of the righteous judgment of God," which shall destroy the adversary.
Secondly, That ye did only secure them to send them away the first opportunity; and that ye sent them away the first opportunity, without censure or punishment, is of the same nature with the former, and with the former must be turned upon you for untruth.
For, First, before ye had seen Mary Fisher and Ann Austin, the first that came,-or heard them, knew them, or any of the people called Quakers, or what they had to say, or had sent to know what was their errand and wherefore they came into your parts; before a certain information of their business or principles; before they were come on shore, or had signified to you, for certain, that they would there land; yea, before ye had a law or any court sitting that could make a law against those people,— did not Richard Bellingham, your deputy-governor, much unlike a man, much more unlike a Christian magistrate, cause them to be rifled for books and papers on board the ship, after he had ordered them to be kept prisoners there, until he should send for them? And took not your officer forcibly away about one hundred books from them? And did he not detain such their goods, and refuse to re-deliver them, though they sent to him for that purpose? Or hath he or you given them any satisfaction to this day for them, which were as properly theirs, and as protectible by the law, as the clothes they had upon them? Nay, did not a council of you, afterwards assembled at Boston, instead of doing them right against the rapacity of the deputy-governor, do them wrong, and cause the said books to be burned, in the marketplace of Boston, by the common hangman? And did ye not the same to them who came afterwards? That is to say, Did ye not cause their boxes, chests, trunks, &c., to be searched and rifled before they came on shore and after? And were not such of their books as were found taken away and burned, like the Spanish Inquisition? Yea, did not your jailer rob them of their Bible, and so debarred them from the use of the Scriptures? And were not these things done by Orders, bearing date the 11th of July,
1656, and the 27th of September following? The first being an order in the general, the second in particular to the jailor to do it as oft as he should see meet.
Again,-after your said deputy-governor had commanded them on shore, and to be brought in custody before him, and had committed them to prison by a mittimus, as Quakers, against whom ye had no law, and upon this proof only that they were such, viz.:-The saying of one of them to him thee, which is the natural distinction, in word, of one from many, and as proper as is the name of one man to distinguish him from another, and as generally used, thou and thee, to a single person in all languages and the Scriptures of Truth, and to the Lord, the Maker of all, in the most solemn addresses: for languages are but the demonstrations of natural distinctions, which, whosoever opposeth, doth what in him lies to overthrow the order of nature. Whereupon he (Richard Bellingham) said: "He needed no more; now he saw they were Quakers." An ignorant speech and a shameless one from a magistrate, who should uphold the order of nature, and not make it a ground of punishment in such as do: I say, after he had commanded them on shore, and committed them upon the ground aforesaid, did ye not haste together in council? And being met together before the time of the Court, did ye not order them to be kept close prisoners, and none to come at them or to have communication with them without leave from some of you, until such time as they should be delivered by authority on board some vessel, to be transported out of the country, as are the words of your Order to the keeper, July 18, 1656? Yea, are not the words of your Order to the keeper, August 18, 1656, to keep them close prisoners, and not to suffer them to speak or confer with any person, nor to permit them to have paper and ink? And, in your Order, September 17, 1656, do ye not empower him to search their boxes, chests, &c., for pen, ink and paper, papers and books, and take them away? And did not your jailer
execute your said Warrant precisely? And further, did he not take away their candle, and not suffer them to have light in the night-season, lest, as he himself said, they should see to write?