TEXTS FROM ENGLISH RELIGIOUS HISTORY
On Quakers, Medicine & Property: The Autobiography of Mary Pennington (1624-1682)
Preface to the 1818 Edition
interesting narrative, containing some of the most remarkable occurrences
and spiritual conflicts in the life of that pious worthy, in her day Mary
Pennington, widow of Isaac Pennington, written by herself, is thought
worthy of being published for the general benefit of the present and succeeding
generations, as it displays her character better than the pen of another
would be likely to do. Honorable mention is made of her husband, Isaac
Pennington, and of herself, by Thomas Elwood. They were his valuable and
faithful friends and he took a part in the education of their children.
He relates the affecting circumstances of the death of their second son,
Isaac Pennington, a promising youth, who, on his return from a voyage
to Barbados, was lost by accidentally falling overboard. This was in the
year 1670.Mary Pennington was born in 1616. Her first husband, Sir William
Springett, died about the year 1643. She married Isaac Pennington in 1654.
He died in 1679. His widow survived him nearly three years and departed
this life at Worminghurst, 18th of 7th month, 1682.
The first scripture I remember to have taken notice of was, "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled." This I heard taken for a text when I was about eight years of age, and under the care of people who were a kind of loose Protestants, that minded no more about religion than to go to their worship-house on first days, to hear a canonical priest preach in the morning, and read common prayers in the afternoon. They used common prayers in the family and observed superstitious customs and times, days of feasting and fasting, Christmas (so called), Good Friday, Lent, etc. About this time I was afraid in the night of such things as run in my mind by day, of spirits, thieves, etc. When alone in the fields and possessed with fears I accounted prayers my help and safety, so I would often say (as I had been taught) the Lord's Prayer, hoping thereby to be delivered from the things I feared.
After some time I went to live with some that appeared to be more religious. They would not admit of sports on first days, calling first day the sabbath. They went to hear two sermons a day from a priest that was not loose in his conversation. He used a form of prayer before his sermon, and read the common prayer after it. I was now about ten or eleven years of age. A maid-servant that waited on me and the rest of the children was very zealous in their way. She used to read Smith's and Preston's sermons on first days, between the sermon times. I diligently heard her read, and at length liked not to use the Lord's Prayer alone but got a prayer-book and read prayers mornings and evenings; and that scripture of "howling on their beds" was much on my mind. By it I was checked from saying prayers in my bed.
About this time I began to be very serious about religion. One day, after we came from the place of public worship, the maid before mentioned read one of Preston's sermons; the text was, "Pray continually." In this sermon much was said respecting prayer, amongst other things of the excellency of prayer, that it distinguished a saint from a sinner; that in many things the hypocrite could imitate the saint, but in this he could not. This thing wrought much on my mind. I found that I knew not what true prayer was, for what I used for prayer an ungodly person could use as well as I, which was to read one out of a book, and this could not be the prayer he meant, which distinguished a saint from a wicked one. My mind was deeply exercised about this thing. When she had done reading and all were gone out of the chamber, I shut the door and in great distress I flung myself on the bed and oppressedly cried out, "Lord, what is prayer!"
This exercise continued so on my mind that at night, when I used to read a prayer out of a book, I could only weep and remain in trouble. At this time I had never heard of any people that prayed any other way than by reading prayers out of a book, or composing themselves. I remember one morning it came into my mind that I would write a prayer of my own composing, and use it in the morning as soon as I was out of bed, which I did, although I could then scarcely join my letters, I had learned so little a time to write. The prayer I wrote was something after this manner: "Lord, you command the Israelites to offer a morning sacrifice, so I offer up the sacrifice of prayer, and desire to be preserved this day." The use of this prayer for a little while gave me some ease. I soon quite left my prayer-books and used to write prayers according to my several occasions. The second that I wrote was for the assurance of the pardon of my sins. I had heard one preach, "that God of his free grace pardoned David's sins." I was much affected by it, and, as I came from the worship place, I thought it would be a happy thing to be assured that one's past sins were pardoned. I wrote a pretty long prayer on that subject, and felt that as pardon came through grace, I might receive it, though very unworthy of it. In said prayer I used many earnest expressions.
A little time after this, several persons spoke to me about the greatness of my memory, and praised me for it. I felt a fear of being puffed up, and wrote a prayer of thanks for that gift, and desired to be enabled to use it for the Lord, and that it might be sanctified to me.
These three prayers
I used with some ease of mind, but not long, for I began again to question
whether I prayed aright or not. I was much troubled about it, not knowing
that any did pray extempore; but it sprang up in my mind that to use words
descriptive of the state I was in was prayer, which I attempted to do,
but could not. Sometimes I knelt down a long time and had not a word to
say, which wrought great trouble in me. I had none to reveal my distress
unto, or advise with, so secretly bore a great burden a long time.
Not long after this an account was brought to the house that a neighboring minister, who had been suspended by the bishops for not being subject to their canons, was returned to his flock again, and that he was to preach at the place where he did three years before (being suspended so long). I expressed a desire to go thither, but was reproved by those that had the care of my education, they saying that it was not fit to leave my parish church. I could not be easy without going, so I went. When I came there, he prayed fervently (he was one called a Puritan) and with great power. Then I felt that was true prayer, and what my mind pressed after, but could not come at in my own will, and had but just tasted of it the time before mentioned. And now I knew that this alone was prayer, I mourned solely because I knelt down morning after morning and night after night and had not a word to say. My distress was so great that I feared I should perish in the night, because I had not prayed; and I thought that by day my food would not nourish me, because I could not pray.
I was thus exercised a great while, and could not join in the common prayer that was read in the family every night; neither could I kneel down when I came to the worship-house, as I had been taught to do; and this scripture was much in my mind: "Be more ready to hear than to offer the sacrifice of fools." I could only read the Bible, or some other book, whilst the priest read the common prayer. At last I could neither kneel nor stand up to join with the priest in his prayer before the sermon; neither did I care to hear him preach, my mind being after the Nonconformist, the Puritan already mentioned.
By constraint I went with the family in the morning, but could not be kept from the Puritan preacher in the afternoon. I went through much suffering on this account, being forced to go on foot between two and three miles, and no one permitted to go with me; except sometimes a servant, out of compassion, who would run after me lest I should be frightened going alone. Though I was very young, I was so zealous that all the tried reasoning and threats could not keep me back. In a short time I refused to hear the priest of our parish at all, but went constantly, all weathers, to the other place. In the family I used to hear the Scriptures read; but if I happened to go in before they had done their prayers, I would sit down though they were kneeling.
These things wrought me much trouble in the family, and there was none to take my part; yet at length two of the maid-servants were inclined to mind what I said against their prayers, and so refused to join them, at which the governors of the family were much disturbed, and made me the subject of their discourse in company, saying that I would pray with the spirit, and rejected godly men's prayers; that I was proud and schismatic; and that I went to those places to meet young men, and such like. At this time I suffered, not only from those persons to whose care I was committed by my parents (who both died when I was not above three years of age), but also from my companions and kindred; yet notwithstanding, in his zeal I grew much, and sequestered myself from my former vain company, and refused playing at cards, etc. I zealously kept the sabbath, not daring to eat or be clothed with such things as occasioned much trouble or took up much time on that day, which I believed ought to be devoted to hearing, reading, and praying. I disregarded those matches proposed to me by vain persons, having desired of the Lord that, if I married at all, it might be a man that feared him. I had a belief that though I then knew of none of my outward rank that was such a one, yet that the Lord would provide such a one for me.
Possessed of this belief, I regarded not their reproaches, that would say to me that no gentleman was of this way, and that I should marry some mean person or other. But they were disappointed, for the Lord touched the heart of him that was afterwards my husband, and my heart cleaved to him for the Lord's sake. He was of a good understanding, and had cast off those dead superstitions; which, that they were dead, was more clearly made manifest to him in that day than any other person that I knew of, of his rank and years. He was but young compared to the knowledge he had attained in the things of God. He was about twenty years old. We pressed much after the knowledge of the Lord and walked in his fear; and though both very young, were joined together in the Lord, refusing the use of a ring, and such like things then used and not denied by any that we knew of.
We lived together about two years and a month. We were zealously affected, and daily exercised in what we believed to be the service and worship of God. We scrupled many things then in use amongst those accounted honest people, viz. singing David's Psalms in meter. We tore out of our Bibles the common prayer, the form of prayer, and also the singing psalms, as being the inventions of vain poets, not being written for that use. We found that songs of praise must spring from the same source as prayers did; so we could not use anyone's songs or prayers. We were also brought off from the use of bread and wine, and water baptism. We looked into the Independent way but saw death there, and that there was not the thing our souls sought after.
In this state my dear husband died, hoping in the promises afar off, not seeing or knowing him that is invisible to be so near him; and that it was he that showed unto him his thoughts, and made manifest the good and the evil. When he was taken from me, I was with child of my dear daughter, Gulielma Maria Springett. It was often with me that I should not be able to consent to the thing being done to my child, which I saw no fruit of, and knew to be but a custom which men were engaged in by tradition, not having the true knowledge of that scripture in the last of the Galatians, of circumcision or uncircumcision availing nothing, but a new creature. This was often in my mind, and I resolved that it should not be done to my child. When I was delivered of her, I refused to have her sprinkled, which brought great reproach upon me; so I became a byword and a hissing among the people of my own rank in the world; and a strange thing it was thought to be, among my relations and acquaintance. Such as were esteemed able ministers, (and I formerly delighted to hear,) were sent to persuade me; but I could not consent and be clear. My answer to them was: "He that doubts is damned."
After some time I waded through this difficulty, but soon after I unhappily went from the simplicity into notions, and changed my ways often, and ran from one notion into another, not finding satisfaction nor assurance that I should obtain what my soul desired, in the several ways and notions which I sought satisfaction in. I was weary of prayers, and such like exercises, finding no peace therefrom; nor could I lift up my hands without doubting, nor call God father. In this state, and for this cause, I gave over all manner of religious exercises in my family and in private, with much grief, for my delight was in being exercised about religion. I left not those things in a loose mind, as some judged that kept in them; for had I found I performed thereby what the Lord required of me, and was well pleased with, I could gladly have continued in the practice of them; I being zealously affected about the several things that were accounted duties; a zealous sabbath-keeper, and fasting often; praying in private, rarely less than three times a day, many times oftener; a hearer of sermons on all occasions, both lectures, fasts, and thanksgiving. Most of the day was used to be spent in reading the scriptures or praying, or such like. I dared not to go to bed till I had prayed, nor pray till I had read scripture, and felt my heart warmed thereby, or by meditation. I had so great a zeal and delight in the exercise of religious duties that when I questioned not but it was right, I have often in the day sought remote places to pray in, such as the fields, gardens, or out-houses, when I could not be private in the house. I was so vehement in prayer that I thought no place to private to pray in, for I could not but be loud in the earnest pouring out of my soul. Oh! This was not parted with but because I found it polluted, and my rest must not be there.
I now had my conversation among a people that had no religion, being ashamed to be thought religious, or do anything that was so called, not finding my heart with the appearance. And now I loathed whatever profession anyone made, and thought the professors of every sort worse than the profane, they boasted so much of what I knew that had not attained to; I having been zealous in all things which they pretended to, and could not find the purging of the heart, or answer of acceptation from the Lord.
In this restless state I entertained every sort of notion that arose in that day, and for a time applied myself to get out of them whatever I could; but still sorrow and trouble was the end of all, and I began to conclude that the Lord and his truth was, but that it was not made known to any upon earth; and I determined no more to enquire after Him or it, for it was in vain to seek Him, being not to be found. For some time, pursuant to my resolution, I thought nothing about religion, but minded recreations as they are called, and ran into many excesses and vanities; as foolish mirth, carding, dancing, singing, and frequenting of music meetings; and made many vain visits at jovial eatings and drinkings, to satisfy the extravagant appetite, and please the vain mind with curiosities; gratifying the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life. I also frequented other places of pleasure, where vain people resorted to show themselves, and to see others in the like excess of folly in apparel; riding about from place to place, in the airy mind. But in the midst of all this my heart was constantly sad, and pained beyond expression; and after a pretty long indulgence in such follies, I retired for several days and was in great trouble and anguish.
To all this excess and folly I was not hurried by being captivated by such things, but sought in them relief from the discontent of my mind; not having found what I sought after, and longed for, in the practice of religious duties. I would often say to myself, "What is all this to me? I could easily leave it all, for my heart is not satisfied therewith. I do these things because I am weary, and know not what else to do: It is not my delight, it hath not power over me. I had rather serve the Lord, if I knew how acceptably."
In this restless, distressed state I often retired to the country, without any company but my daughter and her maid; and there I spent many hours each day in bemoaning myself, and desiring the knowledge of the truth; but was still deceived, and fell in with some delusive notions or other, that wounded me, and left me without any clearness or certainty. One night, in this retired place, I went to bed very disconsolately and sad, through the great and afflicting exercise of my mind. I dreamed that night that I saw a book of hieroglyphics of religion, of things to come in the church, or a religious state. I thought I took no delight in them, nor felt any closing in my mind with them, though magnified by those that showed them. I turned from them greatly oppressed, and it being evening, went out from the company into a field, sorrowing, and lifting up my eyes to heaven, cried, "Lord, suffer me no more to fall in with any wrong way, but show me the truth." Immediately I thought the sky opened, and a bright light, like fire, fell upon my hand, which so frightened me that I awoke and cried out, so that my daughter's servant, who was in the room, not gone to bed, came to my bed-side to know what was the matter with me. I trembled a long while after, yet knew not what to turn to; or rather believing there was nothing manifest since the apostles' day, that was true religion; for I knew nothing to be so certainly of God that I could shed my blood in the defense of it.
One day, as I was going through London from a country-house, I could not pass through the crowd, it being the day the Lord Mayor was sworn; I was obliged to go into a house till it was over. I, being burdened with the vanity of their show, said to a professor that stood by me, "What benefit have we from all this bloodshed, and Charles being kept out of the nation, seeing all these follies are again allowed?" He answered, "None, that he knew of, except the enjoyment of true religion." I replied, "That it is a benefit to you that have a religion to be protected in the exercise of, but it is none to me."
But here I must mention a state that I then knew, notwithstanding all my darkness and distress about religion, which was in nothing to be careful, but in all cases to let my requests be known to the Lord in sighs and groans; and help he was graciously pleased to afford me in the most confused disquieted estate I ever knew; even in that day when I had no religion I could call true. Wonderful is the remembrance of his kindness! If I wanted to hire a servant, or remove to any place, or do any other thing that concerned my condition in this world, I always retired and waited upon the Lord to see what the day would bring forth; and as things presented to me I would embrace them, without making much inquiry after accommodations of that kind; but was in all things else in a dissatisfied, hurried condition; for I thought the beloved of my soul was neither night nor day with me. Yet in the anguish of my soul I would cry to Him, and beseech that if I might not come to Him as a child, not having the spirit of sonship, yet, as he was my Creator, I might approach him as the beasts that have their food from him: "For, Lord, you know I cannot move or breathe as your creature, without you: help is only in you. If you are inaccessible in your own glory, yet I can only have help where it is to be had, and you only have power to help me."
O, the distress I felt at this time! Having never dared to kneel down to pray for years, because I could not in truth call God father, and dared not mock or be formal in the thing. Sometimes I should be melted into tears, and feel inexpressible tenderness; and then, not knowing from whence it proceeded, and being ready to judge all religion, I thought it was some influence from the planets that governed the body, and so accounted for my being sometimes hard, and sometimes tender, as being under such or such a planet; but dared not to own any thing in me to be of God or that I felt any influence of his good spirit upon my heart; but I was like the parched heath, and the hunted hart for water, so great was my thirst after that which I did not believe was near me.
My mind being thus almost continually exercised, I dreamed that I was sitting alone, retired and sad; and as I was sitting, I heard a very loud, confused noise: some shrieking, yelling, and roaring in a piteous, doleful manner; others casting up their caps, and hallooing in a way of triumph and joy. I listened to find out what the matter was, it was manifested to me that Christ was come; and the different noises I heard were expressive of the different states the people were in at his comingsome in joy, some in extreme sorrow and amazement. I waited in much dread to see the issue; at length I found that neither the joying nor sorrowing part of the multitude were they that truly knew of his coming, but were agitated by a false rumor. So I abode still in the room solitary, and found I was not to join with either party, but to be still, and not affected with the thing at all, nor go forth to enquire about it. Sitting thus a while, all was silent. Remaining still in the same place, cool and low in my mind, all this distracted noise being over, one came in, and speaking in a low voice said: "Christ is come indeed, and is in the next room; and with him is the bride, the Lamb's wife." At this my heart secretly leaped within me, and I was ready to get up to go and express my love to him, and joy at his coming; but something within me stopped me, and bade me not to be hasty, but patiently, coolly, softly, and soberly go into the next room, which I did, and stood just within the entrance of a spacious hall, trembling and rejoicing, but dared not to go near to him, for it was said unto me: "Stay and see whether he will own you, or take you to be such an one as you look upon yourself to be." So I stood still at a great distance, at the lower end of the hall, and Christ was at the upper end, whose appearance was that of a fresh, lovely youth, clad in gray cloth, very plain and neat (at this time I had never heard of the Quakers or their habit), of a sweet, affable, and courteous carriage. I saw him embrace several poor, old, simple people, whose appearance was very contemptible and mean, without wisdom or beauty. I seeing this, concluded within myself, that though he appeared young, his discretion and wisdom were great; for he must behold some hidden worth in these people, who to me seem so mean, so unlovely and simple. At last he beckoned to me to come near him, of which I was very glad. I went trembling and lowly; not lifted up, but in great weightiness and dread.
After a while it was said, "The Lamb's wife is also come;" at which I beheld a beautiful young woman, slender, modest and grave, in plain garments, becoming and graceful. Her image was fully answering his, as a brother and sister. After I had beheld all this, and joyed in it, I spoke to Thomas Zachary (whom I then knew to be a seeker after the Lord, though tossed, like myself, in the many ways, yet pressing after life), saying, "Seeing Christ is come indeed, and few know it; and those that in the confusion mourned or rejoiced, know it not, but Christ is hid from them; let us take the king's house at Greenwich, and let us dwell with and enjoy him there, from those that look for him and cannot find him." Without receiving any reply, I awoke.
Several years after
this, I had another dream about Friends in their present state, which
I shall relate in the close.
Whilst I was in this state I heard of a new people, called Quakers. I resolved not to enquire after them, nor what principles they held. For a year or more after I heard of them in the north, I heard nothing of their way except that they used thee and thou; and I saw a book written in the plain language, by George Fox. I remember that I thought it very ridiculous, so minded neither the people nor the book, except that it was to scoff at them and it. Though I thus despised this people, I had sometimes a desire to go to one of their meetings, if I could, unknown, and to hear them pray, for I was quite weary of doctrines; but I believed if I was with them when they prayed, I should be able to feel whether they were of the Lord or not. I endeavored to stifle this desire, not knowing how to get to one of their meetings unknown; and if it should be known, I thought it would be reported that I was one of them.
One day, as my husband and I were walking in the park, a man that for a little time had frequented the quakers' meetings, saw us as he rode by, in our gay, vain apparel. He cried out to us against our pride &etc. at which I scoffed, and said he was a public preacher indeed, who preached in the highways. He turned back again, saying he had a love for my husband, seeing grace in his looks. He drew nigh to the pales, and spoke of the light and grace which had appeared to all men. My husband and he engaged in discourse. the man of the house coming up, invited the stranger in: he was but young, and my husband too hard for him in the fleshly wisdom. He told my husband he would bring a man to him the next day, that should answer all his questions or objections, who, as I afterwards understood, was George Fox. He came again the next day, and left world that the friend he intended to bring could not well come; but some others, he believed, would be with us about the second hour; at which time came Thomas Curtis and William Simpson.
My mind was somewhat affected by the man who had discoursed with us the night before; and though I thought him weak in managing the arguments he endeavored to support, yet many scriptures which he mentioned stuck with me very weightily; they were such as showed to me the vanity of many practices I was in; which made me very serious, and soberly inclined to hear what these men had to say. Their solid and weighty carriage struck a dread over me. I now knew that they came in the power and authority of the Lord, to visit us, and that the Lord was with them. All in the room were sensible of the Lord's power manifest in them. Thomas Curtis repeated this scripture, "He that will know my doctrine, must do my commands." Immediately it arose in my mind, that if I would know whether that was truth they had spoken or not, I must do what I knew to be the Lord's will. What was contrary to it was now set before me, as to be removed; and I must come into a state of entire obedience, before I could be in a capacity to perceive or discover what it was which they laid down for their principles. This wrought mightily in me. Things which I had slighted much now seemed to have great power over me. Terrible was the Lord against the vain and evil inclinations in me, which made me, night and day, to cry out; and if I did but cease a little, then I grieved for fear I should again be reconciled to the things which I felt under judgment, and had a just detestation of. Oh! How I did beg not to be left secure or quiet till the evil was done away. How often did this run through my mind: "You will not come to me that you may have life." "It is true that I am undone if I come not to you, but I cannot come, unless I leave that which cleaves close unto me, and I cannot part with it."
I saw the Lord would be just in casting me off, and not giving me life; for I would not come from my beloved lusts, to him, for life. Oh! The pain I felt still. The wrath of God was more than I could bear. Oh! In what bitterness and distress was I involved! A little time after the friends' visit before mentioned, one night on my bed it was said unto me, "Be not hasty to join these people called Quakers." I never had peace or quiet from a sore exercise for many months, till I was, by the stroke of judgment, brought off from all those things which I found the light made manifest to be deceit, bondage, and vanity, the spirit of the world, &etc. and I given up to be a fool and a reproach, and to take up the cross to my honour and reputation in the world. The contemplation of those things cost me many tears, doleful nights and days; not now disputing against the doctrine preached by the Friends, but exercised against taking up the cross to the language, fashions, customs, titles, honour, and esteem in the world.
My relations made this cross very heavy; but as at length I happily gave up, divested of arguments, not consulting how to provide for the flesh, I received strength to attend the meetings of these despised people, which I never intended to meddle with, but found truly of the Lord, and my heart owned them. I longed to be one of them, and minded not the cost or pain; but judged it would be well worth my utmost cost and pain to witness such a change as I saw in themsuch power over their corruptions. I had heard objected against them, that they wrought not miracles; but I said that they did great miracles, in that they turned them that were in the world and the fellowship of it from all such things. Thus, by taking up the cross, I received strength against many things which I had thought impossible to deny; but many tears did I shed, and bitterness of soul did I experience, before I came thither; and often cried out: "I shall one day fall the overpowering of the enemy." But oh! The joy that filled my soul in the first meeting ever held in our house at Chalfont. To this day I have a fresh remembrance of it. It was then the Lord enabled me to worship him in that which was undoubtedly his own, and give up my whole strength, yea, to swim in the life which overcame me that day. Oh! Long had I desired to worship him with acceptation, and lift up my hands without doubting, which I witnessed that day in that assembly. I acknowledged his great mercy and wonderful kindness; for I could say, "This is it which I have longed and waited for, and feared I never should have experienced."
Many trials have I been exercised with since, but they were all from the Lord, who strengthened my life in them. Yet, after all this, I suffered my mind to run out into prejudice against some particular Friends. This was a sore hurt unto me; but after a time of deep, secret sorrow, the Lord removed the wrong things from me, blessing me with a large portion of his light, and the love and acceptance of his beloved ones. And he hath many times refreshed my soul in his presence, and given me assurance that I knew that estate in which he will never leave me, nor suffer me to be drawn from all which he has graciously fulfilled; for though various infirmities and temptations beset me, yet my heart cleaves unto the Lord, in the everlasting bonds that can never be broken. In his light do I see those temptations and infirmities: there do I bemoan myself unto him, and feel faith and strength, which give the victory. Though it keeps me low in the sense of my own weakness, yet it quickens in me a lively hope of seeing Satan trodden down under foot by his all-sufficient grace. I feel and know when I have slipped in word, deed, or thought; and also know where my help lies, who is my advocate, and have recourse to him who pardons and heals, and gives me to overcome, setting me on my watchtower: and though the enemy is suffered to prove me, in order more and more to wean me from any dependence but upon the mighty Jehovah, I believe he will never be able to prevail against me. Oh! That I may keep on my watch continually: knowing, the Lord only can make war with this dragon. Oh! That I may, by discovering my own weakness, ever be tender of the tempted; watching and praying, lest I also be tempted. Sweet is this state, though low; for in it I receive my daily bread, and enjoy that which he hands forth continually; and live not, but as he breathes the breath of life upon me every moment.
I had written the foregoing, it lay by a considerable time. One day it
came into my mind to leave it with Elizabeth Walsby, to keep till after
my decease, and desire her then to show it to such as had a love for me.
So one day I desired her to meet me at John Mannock's, at Giles-Chalfont.
There I spoke to her about it, read it to her, and desired she would write
it out (intending to leave it with her,) but it afterwards went out of
mind. It was in the year 1668 that I made this proposal; it is now almost
1672, when I found it among some other writings, and reading it over,
found it was a true, though brief account, of many passages from my childhood
to the time it was written. I am now willing to have it written over fair,
for the use of my children, and some few particular friends who know and
feel me in that which hungers and thirsts after righteousness, and many
times being livingly satisfied in God my life.
Dream, July 30, 1676
I now come to relate a dream that I had at Worminghurst, between twenty and thirty years after the foregoing, mentioned above. I insert it here, because, at the close, I dreamed that I related a part of the foregoing one.
Being at Worminghurst, at my son Penn's, 30th of the 7th Month, 1676, at night, in bed and asleep, I dreamed I was with two other persons in an upper room; (who the persons were I do not perfectly remember); I looking out of the window, saw the sky very black and dismal, yea, the appearance of it to me, and the rest that beheld it, was very dreadful; but keeping cold and low in our spirits, to see what would follow, at length the sky grew thinner, and began to clear; not by the descending of rain, in the usual way, but by one great vent of water, issuing out of the midst of these thick clouds, which seemed quite driven away, divided into heaps, and a great clearness left in the midst; out of which clearness appeared a very bright head, breast, and arms, the complete upper part of a man, very beautiful (like pictures I have seen to represent an angel form), holding in his hand a long green bough; not so green as a laurel, but of a sea, or willow-green color, resembling a palm. This palm or bough he held over his head, which to us was such a signification of good that both by voice and action we made acclamations of joy; uttering forth, through fullness of joy and sense, indistinct sounds, expressive of being overcome with the greatness of our sense, which we could not set forth in words: sounds something like, oh! oh! ah! ah! in an astonished manner; spreading our hands, and running swiftly about the room, with constant acclamations of admiration and joy; signifying, by our manner, a being likely to burst with astonishment and joy, and our tongues or voice unable to deliver us of what we were so big with. After a little while there appeared lower in the element, nearer the earth, in an oval, transparent glass, a man and a woman (not in resemblance, but real persons); the man wore a greater majesty and sweetness than I ever saw with mortal: his hair was brown, his eyes black and sparkling, his complexion ruddy; piercing dominion in his countenance, blended with affability, great gentleness and kindness. The woman resembled him in features and complexion; but appeared tender and bashful, yet quick-sighted.
After having beheld these heavenly forms awhile, we, in a sense of their majesty and dominion, did reverence to them, falling on our faces in a solemn, not in a disturbed, confused manner, crying glory! glory! glory! glory! glory! at which the man ascended, but the woman came down to us, and spoke to us with great gravity and sweetness; the words I have forgotten, but the purport of them was, that we should not be formal, nor fall out. Then she disappeared, and we looked one at another, after a melted, serious manner; and I said to them: "This is a vision, to signify to us some great matter and glorious appearance; more glorious than the Quakers at their first coming forth. I added that I had a distinct vision and sight of such state in a dream, before ever I heard of a Quaker; but it was in a more simple, plain manner than this. For I then saw Christ like a fresh, sweet, innocent youth, clad in light gray, neat, but plain; and so, likewise, was the bride, the Lamb's wife, in the same manner: but under this plain appearance, there was deep wisdom and discernment; for I saw him own and embrace, such as I could not see any acceptable thing in; such as I thought Christ would not own, being old, poor, and contemptible women. But now," said I, "his countenance and garb are altered: in the former was united to sweetness, majesty; in the latter, to plainness and neatness is joined resplendence." Without any further conversation I awoke.
I shall now proceed to make an addition to the foregoing narrative. After my dear husband and I had received the truth of God's faithful servants, to the light and grace in the heart, we became obedient to the heavenly voice, receiving the truth in the love of it, and took up the cross to the customs, language, friendship, titles, and honours of this world; and endured, patiently, despisings, reproaches, cruel mocking, and scorn, from relations, acquaintances, and neighbours; those of our own rank, and those below us, nay, even our own servants. To every class we were a byword: they would wag the head at us, accounting us fools, mad and bewitched. As such, they stoned, abused, and imprisoned us, at several towns and meetings where we went. This not being enough to prove us, and work for us a far more exceeding weight of glory, it pleased the Lord to try us by the loss of our estate, which was wrongfully withheld from us, by our relations suing us unrighteously. Our own tenants withheld what the law gave, and put us into the Court of Chancery, because we could not swear. Our relations also taking that advantage, we were put out of our dwelling-house, in an injurious, unrighteous manner. Thus we were stripped of my husband's estate, and a great part of mine.
After this, we were tossed up and down from place to place, to our great weariness and charge. We had no place to abide in, near our former habitation at Chalfont, where our meetings used to be held; yet were we pressed in our spirits to stay amongst the gathered flock, if a place could be found any way convenient, though but ordinarily decent. We sought within the compass of four or five miles, but could find none; yet we had such a sense that was our proper place, that we had not freedom to settle anywhere else. So we boarded at Waltham Abbey, for the sake of having our children accommodated at a school there, and desired our friends to enquire after, or provide a place for us, at a Friend's house, to winter in, hoping to be provided with a house against the ensuing summer.
All the time we were seeking for a place, we never entertained a thought of buying one to settle ourselves in; not choosing to be cumbered with either house or land by purchase, as we both desired a disentangled state. I, seeing no provisions likely to be made for us in this country, near Friends, told my husband, that, if we must leave them, I should choose to go to my own estate in Kent; which proposal he did not approve of, objecting against the badness of the air and dirtiness of the place.
I was now greatly perplexed about what to do: my husband's objections, together with my own extreme unwillingness to leave those people whom we had been instrumental in gathering to the truth, and who had known our unjust sufferings respecting our estate, and many others of our trials, and had compassionated us: (we had suffered together, and had been comforted together): I say, these considerations, and to be obliged to go, and not to go to my own estate, was cause of sore exercise to me. How irksome was it to think of going among strangers! The people in our neighborhood knew of our former affluence, and now pitied us for being so stripped; and did not expect great things of us, suitable to our rank in the world; but wondered how it was that we could still support a degree of decency in our way of living, and were able to pay every one their own. We contentedly submitted to mean things, and so remained honorable before them.
Whilst I was thus distressed, and we had nearly concluded on going to Waltham Abbey, R.T. came to see us, and much bewailed our going out of the country, and having no place near them to return to. At length he asked why we did not buy some little place near them? I replied, that our circumstances would not admit of it; for we had not one hundred pounds, besides rents becoming due; and that to do that, we must sell some of my estate. He said he had an uncle, that had a little place that he would sell for about thirty pounds a year, that stood about a mile from the meeting-house, in a healthy situation; that there was a house on it, which might be trimmed up, and made habitable for a little expense. My husband was not there when mention was made of this place. Soon after T.B. came in: I told him of the proposal made by R.T. He encouraged the thing, saying he had heard there were some rooms in the house that might serve. That night Thomas Elwood came out of Kent, and told me he had much to do to come back without selling my farm at Westbeer.
I laid all these things together, and said: "I think our best way is to sell Westbeer, and purchase this place which R.T. has mentioned; and, with the overplus of the money, put the house in a condition to receive us." For I now saw no other method for our remaining in the country. Next day I took Anne Bull with me, and went on foot to Woodside, to John Humphrey's house, to view it and its situation. We came in by Hill's Lane, through the orchard. The house appeared in such a ruinous condition, so unlikely to be fitted up, that I did not go into it; and we gave over all thoughts about it, till we were disappointed of a house at Beacon's-field, which my husband was in treaty about. Upon this we were pressed to go and see the house, which T.E., H.B. and I did. Whilst I went about the house, they viewed the grounds. In less than half an hour I had the whole thing clearly in my mind, what to pull down, and what to add; and thought it might be done with the overplus money of the sale of Westbeer, that being valued at fifty pounds a year, and this at thirty. I was quite reconciled to the thing, and willing to treat about it. The day we went to see it, we walked to Chalfont, and took my son Penn's coach thither, desiring him to make enquiry respecting the title, &etc., and let us know at Waltham; which he did, and sent us word that the title was clear, but that it was judged fifty pounds too dear.
After reading this information, my mind was much retired to the Lord, desiring that if this was the place we ought to settle in, he would be leased to order it for us. Seeing we had now lost all but my estate, and had no other provision for ourselves or children, and were so tossed about, without having any dwelling-place, I requested my husband to give me leave to engage for it; for my mind was quite easy so to do. I told him he should not be troubled about the building; that should be my care (he being very averse to building). At length he, considering that the estate was mine, that he had lost all his own, and had been the innocent cause of bringing great sufferings upon me, he willingly consented that I should use my own mind about it; adding, that it was, and ever should be his delight, to gratify me in every respect. So I sent to desire my friends to conclude for it; saying, I did not mind fifty pounds, if they thought it would answer for us in other respects. The bargain was concluded. I often prayed, with tears, that I might be kept free from entanglements and cumber, and that it might prove such a habitation as would manifest that the Lord was again restoring us, and had regard unto us. I went cheerfully and industriously about the business of making alterations, entreating the Lord that I might go through it in his fear, keeping my mind from cumber or darkness. Every difficulty seemed to vanish, and I went on to plant, and make provision for the building; but I was put out of my own way by surveyors, who were for raising from the ground a new part. My husband falling in with it, I would not contend about it; though it brought great trouble upon me, for I could not see my way about the business as before; nor could I see the end of it, it being far beyond my own proposal; and I thought I could not compass it, on account of the great charge. I took no pleasure in doing any thing about it: I fell ill, and could not look after it. Great was my exercise: one while fearing the Lord did not approve of our undertaking, and another while that I did wrong in consenting to it. I would often say, "Lord, you know I did not seek great things for myself: I desired not a fine habitation." As I intended doing it, it would have been very ordinary. When I first consented to the addition, the very great expense was not discerned by me. The Lord knew my earnest prayers, close exercise, and honest intent.
After a while I felt freedom to go on, and was freed from care or disquiet. The building was wholly managed by me, with great ease and cheerfulness. Part of the old house undesignedly fell down. I was most remarkably preserved from being hurt thereby, yet the loss was a little trial to me; but after that all things went on well, and whenever I had occasion to pay money, I never wanted it. Having contracted our family greatly; the rents coming in; and having sold some old houses, bark, and several other things, instead of pain, I had now pleasure in laying out my money. Indeed, my mind was so daily to the Lord in this affair, and I was so constantly provided with money, that I often thought, and sometimes said, that if I had lived when building houses for the service of the Lord was accepted and blessed, I could not have had a sweeter, stiller and more pleasant time. I set all things in order in the morning, before I went to meeting, and so left them till my return; rarely finding them rise up in my mind when going to, coming from, or whilst sitting in meeting: so my mind was mercifully kept in a sweet, savory frame.
My chief care about my business in hand, was, by my own eye, to prevent any waste; which was done without any disquiet, fretting or anger. I lay down sweetly, and rested pleasantly, and awoke under a grateful sense of the Lord's goodness to me. The labour of my body kept it healthy, and my mind was easy. In less than four years the building was completed, except the wash-house part. I could have compassed it in much less time, but then I should have been straitened for money: my doing it by degrees, made it steal on undiscerned, in point of expense; the whole of which amounted, in planting, building, &etc. to but about one hundred pounds. During this expensive time, we did not omit being helpful, by giving or lending to such as were in distress.
And now the Lord has
seen good to make me a widow, and leave me in a desolate condition, by
depriving me of my dear companion; yet through his mercy, I am quite disentangled,
and in a very easy state as to outward things. I have often desired the
Lord to make way so for me, as that I might continually wait upon him,
without distraction or the cumber of outward things. I most thankfully,
and gratefully, and humbly, under a deep sense of the Lord's kind and
gracious dealing with me, receive the disposal of my lands from his hands.
Through his kindness I have cleared off great part of the mortgage that
was upon them, and paid most of my bond debts; and can now very easily
manage the land in my hands. And in this 4th month, 1680, I have made
my will, and disposed of my estate, which is clear of any considerable
debt. I have left a handsome provision for T.P. , M.P. and enough for
my younger children, to put them out to trades or decent callings; and
also provision for the payment of my legacies and debts. I call my children's
a handsome provision, considering it is all out of my own inheritance,
having nothing of their father's to provide for them with.
and weakness of my
children; but my outward situation and habitation is to my heart's content.
I have no great family to cumber me, am private, and have leisure to apply
my heart unto wisdom, in the numbering of my days to be but few; holding
myself in readiness to bid farewell to all transitory things. In reference
to my outward affairs, having set my house in order, I am waiting, sensible
of the approach of death; having no desire after life, enjoying the satisfaction
that I shall leave my children in an orderly way, and having less need
of me, than when things were less contracted and settled. I feel that
death is a king of terrors, and know that my strength to triumph over
him, must be given me by the Lord, at the very season when the trying
time cometh. My sight today of things beyond the grave, will be insufficient
in that hour, to keep me from the sting of death when he comes. It is
the Lord alone will then be able to stand by me, and help me to resist
the evil one, who is very busy when the tabernacle is dissolving: his
work being at an end "when the earthen vessel is broken." O
Lord, what quiet, safety, or ease is there in any state but that wherein
we feel your living power. All desirable things are in this; and nothing
but sorrow, amazement, anguish, distress, grief, perplexity, woe, and
misery, and what not, out of it. O let me be helped by your power, and
in it walk with you, in your pure fear; and then I matter not how low,
how unseen I am in this world, nor how little friendship, or any pleasant
thing I have in it. I have found your power to be sufficient for every
good word and work, when stripped of every pleasant picture, or acceptable
or other helpful thing. O Lord, you know what I have yet to go trough
in this world; but my hope is in your mercy, to guide and support. Aided
by you, I need not be doubtful or concerned about what is to come upon
Diary, September 3, 1681
Thus far I wrote before I went to Edmonton, which was in the sixth Month, 1680. It appeared as if I was to go thither, on purpose to put all the foregoing things in practice, and to be proved by the Lord according to what I have before written; and to be exercised by him in all the things that were in my view when I set my house in order, and that I was to return no more. In about a week after my arrival, it pleased the Lord to visit me with a burning fever. It was the sorest bodily affliction I had ever experienced since I was born: indeed, it was very tedious and trying to me, insomuch that I made my moan in these doleful words: "distress! distress!" finding these words comprehended all my feelings, which were sickness, uneasiness, want of rest, lowness of spirits, &etc. besides ill accommodations in the house, it being at a school. I was greatly disturbed, and but a little attendance was to be had.
All these things made it very heavy upon me; far from my own house, where I might have needed nothing. All this was attended with many aggravations. My two youngest children lay sick in the same room, one of them in the same bed with me; my elder children many miles from me, ignorant of my melancholy situation, now most desperate; my physician and others about me believing I could never recover. In all this illness I had scarcely one quarter of an hour wherein I should have been able to do anything about my outward affairs, if I had then had it to do; but such was the eminent kindness and mercy of the Lord to me, that he put it into my heart to consider that it may be, I might never return home again, as he did into the heart of my dear husband. So I had nothing to do in this sickness but to suffer patiently, waiting upon the Lord; and if it had been his will, to lie down this body without distraction about outward concerns.
These memorable, merciful dealings of the Lord with me, I now recount, the 3rd day of the 9th month, 1681, in an humble sense of his mercy, being still in bed, unrecovered of the aforementioned illness, it being eight months since. And now it is in my heart, in the holy fear of the most High, to declare to you, my dear children, of what great service it was to me in my illness, to have nothing to do but to die, if it had been his holy will: for the Lord was pleased to assure me of his favour, and that I should not go down to the pit with the wicked, but should have a mansion, according to his good pleasure, in his holy habitation. This assurance left me in a quiet state, out of the feelings of the sting of death, not having the least desire to live. Though I did not witness any great measure of triumph or joy, yet I could say, "Lord, it is enough: I am quiet and still, and have not a thought about any thing that is to be done in preparation for my going hence. Though you afflict, you make me content both night and day."
In about fourteen days my fever was abated, and in about a month I came from Edmonton to London, favoured with some degree of strength. After having been absent about seven weeks, the Lord brought me home again to my own house. That very night I was smitten with a distemper, from which I remain weak and low in body to this day; on which morning, it springs in my mind to express something of the dealings of the Lord with me in my present sickness and exercises.
On the 27th of the 4th Month in the morning, as I was waiting upon the Lord with some of my family, I found an inclination to mention the continuation of my illness to this day, which, from the time of my being visited, is near a year; in all which time, such was the goodness of the Lord to me, that as it was said of Job, "In all this he sinned not, nor charged God foolishly," so I may say, (through the power of his might) in all this time I have been a stranger to a murmuring, complaining mind; but this hath been my constant language: "It is well I have no very grievous thing to undergo," except some severe fits of the stone, which have been full of anguish and misery. And the Lord hath graciously stopped my desires after every pleasant thing, that I have not been at all uneasy at my long confinement, for the most part to my bed; and to this present day to my chamber, where I have very little comfort from sleep, or pleasantness from food, or anything of that kind. Yet I have not found in my heart to ask of the Lord to be restored to my former health and strength, that I might have the pleasure of natural sleep, and eating my food with acceptation to my palate, or be able to attend to my outward affairs, or go abroad in the air to view the beautiful creation; but all I have desired respecting my house of clay is, that the Lord would be mercifully pleased to make my future fits of my distemper less severe than the former ones were; in which I have cried earnestly to the Lord for help, or that he would be pleased to direct me to some outward means that would lessen my anguish. Except in these violent fits, I have not asked anything of the Lord concerning life or health, but have rather felt pleasantness from being debarred from those things which are acceptable to the senses; because thereby I have been drawn nearer to the Lord, and have waited upon him with mush less distraction than when in my health. I have many times said, within myself, "Oh! this is sweet and easy. He makes my bed in my sickness, and withholds my eyes from sleeping, to converse with him."
Death hath many times been presented to me, which I have rather embraced than shrunk from; for the most part finding a kind of yielding up in my spirit to die, like as it is said: "He yielded up the ghost." Even before I came to be settled in the truth, I entertained an awful sense of death, and was in subjection to the fear of it. But now that fear of death, and the state of death is removed; but there remains still a deep sense of the passage from time to eternity, how strait, hard, and difficult it is; and even many times to those on whom the second death hath no power, yet subjected to such feelings as were our dear Lord's and Saviour's when in agony he cried out: "My God! my God! Why hast thou forsaken me!"
Another striking instance is that of my certainly blessed husband, whose mind was constantly with the Lord in his last illness; yet when the last breath was breathing out, his groans were dreadful. I may call them roarings, as it seemed to be, through the disquiet of his soul at that moment. Indeed, this hard passage of his hath so deeply affected me, that I have often since said, "If it be thus with the green tree, how will it be with me, who am to him but as a dry tree."
Letter to her Grandson, 1680
From Mary Pennington
to her grandson Springett Penn, written about the year 1680, left to be
delivered to him after her decease
Your dear mother's father was born of religious parents. His father (though a lawyer) I have heard, was religious, and strict in those things wherein administration of that time consisted: zealous against popery; scrupled against putting his money to use; was of a very sober conversation; and in the frequent exercise of what, in that dim daylight, were accounted holy duties: praying often (though in a form), reading the scriptures in private and in his family, more especially on that day which they called their Sabbath.
He died of a consumption, leaving your great grandfather with two sons, and with child of a daughter. She was married to him about three years, and left a widow about two or three and twenty. She was a most excellent woman, having great regard to the well-being of her children, both here and hereafter; and because she might the better discharge her duty respecting them, lived a retired life, and refused many good offers for a second marriage. I have heard her say that she suffered hard things from her husband's two brothers, Sir Thomas Springett and another (who were left executors) through their jealousy that she, being so very young, would marry again. They refused her the education of her children, which put her upon suing for it. She obtained the suit with great charge, after some years doubting about it. She lived a very virtuous life; constant in morning and evening prayer in private, and often with her children; and caused them to repeat what they remembered of sermons and scriptures.
I lived in the house with her, from nine years of age till after I was married to her son. And after he died, she came and lived with me, and died at my house. In all which time I do not remember ever to have seen or heard one immodest, indiscreet, or evil word or action by or from her. She spent her time very ingeniously, and in acts of bounty; bestowing great part of her fortune on the poor, in physic and surgery. She had about two hundred and forty pounds a year. She kept a brace of geldings, a man, and a maid; and boarded at her only brother's Sir Edward Partridge's. She kept several poor women employed in summer, simpling for her; and in winter procuring for her such things as she wanted in surgery, physic, and sore eyes. She had excellent judgment in all these, and admirable success; which made her famous, and sought unto out of several counties, by persons of the first rank as well as those of other classes. She daily employed her servants in making oils, salves, balsams, drawings of spirits, distilling of waters, making syrups and conserves, lozenges and pills.
She was so famous for taking off spots and cataracts from the eyes, that Stephens, the great oculist, sent many to her, when the case was difficult, and likely to take up more time to perfect the cure than he could well spare. She cured, to my knowledge, many desperate burns, and cuts, and dangerous sores that came by them, and broken limbs; also, many of the king's evil, after having taken out several bones. One very remarkable cure of a burn I shall mention. A child's head was so burnt that its skull was like a coal: she brought it to have skin and hair, and invented a thin pan of beaten silver, covered with a bladder, to preserve the head in case of a knock or fall. Some people have come some hundreds of miles to her, and have lodged at a neighboring village, sometimes a quarter of a year, from their families. Perhaps she would have twenty patients of a morning, to administer to. I have heard her say she spent half her income after this sort; and never received a penny for anything of that kind, but often returned valuable presents. To her patients that were in good circumstances she would give a note of what things they should buy, and bring to her, and then she made up the medicines. Her man spent great part of his time in writing directions, &etc.
As to her profession of religion, since the wars in the latter part of her time, she was called a Puritan; but lately an Independent, and kept an Independent preacher in the house, and gave liberty for people to come twice a week to hear him preach. Every seventh day all her family must leave all their occasions, and assemble to hear this man preach to, and pray for them, by way of preparation for the morrow.
She was a most tender and affectionate mother to your grandfather, and always showed great kindness to me. Indeed, she was truly honorable in counseling her son not to marry for an estate, and put by many great offers of persons with many thousands, urging him weightily to consider what would make him truly happy in his choice. She proposed to him his marrying me; saying we knew one another well, having lived together from children, ever since he was twelve years old and I nine. She often discoursed with him about it; saying she knew me well and preferred me for his wife before any she knew with a great portion, if I had none; for other reasons beside our equality in rank and years. She lived to see your mother three or four years old, was exceedingly fond of her, and much delighted to see her increasing wisdom.
Now to come to your dear grandfather. His mother having educated him in the fear of the Lord, according to the knowledge given in that day, and taken great care in placing him at school and at the university, she sent him to Cambridge, because they were thought more sober there than at Oxford. He was settled in a Puritan college, called Katharine's Hall. The master of the house was a very grave, tender, sober man; so was the tutor, one Ellis, a Puritan, whom she had brought up from his youth and got him the preferment of a fellow in that college. Your grandfather came from Cambridge young, and was placed at the Inn of court; but being religiously inclined, staid not long there, but came into Kent, where his mother was. He absented himself from the public worship and went to hear one Wilson, who had been suspended for not conforming to the bishops, for about three years. He was an extraordinary man in his day.
When your grandfather was between twenty and twenty-one, we married without a ring; and, by his desire, many of the usual, dark, formal words were left out of the ceremony. He was so zealous against the common prayer, and all superstitious customs, that he became a proverb and a reproach among his relations and acquaintance. To dishonor him they reported many false things about him; as that he would say he never asked God forgiveness but for two sins: one was for going to church, and the other for saying the Lord's Prayer. Indeed, he was so very sensible of their blind superstition concerning the house they called the church that sometimes he would use disdainful words about it, and talk of putting their church-timber to very common uses, to show his abhorrence of their placing holiness in it. When our child was born, he would not suffer the midwife to use the usual prayers; but prayed himself, and gave the Lord thanks in a very sweet, melted manner, which was cause of great amazement to some present. He would use no form of prayer in the house; but prayed morning and evening in our chamber, with me and our servants, which wrought great discontent in the family.
We boarded with his uncle, Sir Edward Partridge. He would not let the parish priest sprinkle the child; but when he was eight days old, had him carried in arms, five miles, to this Wilson before mentioned. There was great seriousness and solemnity in the doing this thing; for we then believed it to be an ordinance of God. Notes were sent to the professing people round, more than ten miles distant, desiring them to come and seek a blessing from the Lord upon his ordinance. None of the superstitious customs were observed, as having gossips, or any person to hold the child; but his father, whom the preacher spoke to when he came, to hold, as being the fittest person to take charge of him. It was a great cross to him, and a new thing, and cause of great amazement, to see such a very young man, in the face of such a great assembly, hold the child in his arms, and receive the charge of his education, the preacher declaring to him his duty towards the child.
It is not strange that our proceedings were cause of great astonishment to the people: We were the first of quality in that country that objected to the performance of that ceremony in the usual way. In his zeal against dark formality and superstition, he took the Scottish covenant oath against popery and popish innovations, and also the English engagement. When his child was about a month old, he had a commission sent him for colonel of a regimen of foot. When the fight was at Edgehill, he raised, without beat of drum, eight hundred men, most of them professors and professors' sons. There were near six score volunteers in his own company; himself also going a volunteer, taking no pay.
He was afterwards made a deputy lieutenant for the county of Kent; in which employment he was so diligent and zealous for the cause that many thought he was mad, because he reproved their carnal wisdom in managing their affairs; telling them it was God's cause, and they should trust him in it, and do their utmost, consistent with the covenant they had made, and the engagement they had entered into, which was, to oppose, with their lives, popery and popish innovations. Within a few days after his regiment was raised, there was a rising, in the vale of Kent, of many thousands; to the suppressing of which, he and his new-gathered, undisciplined soldiers were commanded, from their rendezvous at Maidstone; where it was said the vain people of the town designed to do them an injury by gunpowder.
He, having placed his men in the best order their inexperience and the shortness of the time would permit, came to take his leave of me before he encountered the enemy. When he came, he found there was a danger of my being put out of the house, if the enemy should come so far. It was a great surprise to him to find me in such danger. What added greatly to his distress was, his being so straitened in point of time; for he had that morning received orders to march with his regiment, in company with some others, to guard a pass where it was supposed Prince Rupert intended coming over, to join the risers. How to provide for my safety, and return to his regiment at the time appointed, he was at a loss; however, his affection for me, aided by a quick capacity, soon pointed out an effectual method. He sent for a stage-coach from Rochester (which was about seven miles off Maidstone,) in which parish I was, and in the night carried me and my child (to whom I gave suck) and my maid-servant, to Gravesend, and there hired a barge to take us to London. He took a solemn leave of me, never expecting to see me again in this world, and rode post to his regiment. When I came to London, the whole city was in arms. Nothing to be heard by the noise of drums and trumpets, and the clattering of arms, and crying, "Arm! Arm!" for the enemy was near the city; and it proved to be the bloody fight between the king's forces and the parliament's, on Hounslow Heath.
Not many days after the risers being dispersed in Kent, he came to London, having behaved himself very honorably, by endeavoring to get restored the cattle and horses to the people who had been plundered by the risers, for they had taken great numbers; but, by their being dispersed, they were now in possession of the parliament's soldiers. Your grandfather was advised with about what place they should secure the said cattle in, till the owners came and claimed them. He pointed to what they called the church. Into it they were accordingly driven, by his orders. Being applied to by the owners, about their cattle, he went with them to said place; but when they came, found the cattle were driven away by a colonel of that country, into an island of his own; accounting them his spoil, for his service.
This event turned to the honour of your grandfather; who, though he had no less share in the suppression of the risers than the other, made no such claim, but applied himself to the relief of such as had been oppressed by plunder, whilst the other endeavored to enrich himself.
He afterwards went with his regiment on several expeditions; as to the taking of the Lord Craven's house, in Surrey, and where several of his own company of volunteers, men's sons of substance, were of the forlorn hope. He was also at the fight at Newbury, where he was in imminent danger; a bullet hitting him, which came from so great a distance, that its force was too weak to enter. He lay some nights in the open fields, having neither time nor opportunity for pitching his tent, which he had with him. Sometimes he lay in the Lord Roberts's coach. They had scarcity of salt, and so would not venture to eat flesh; but lived some days on candied green citron and biscuit.
After being in several other engagements, he went, with his regiment, back into Kent. The last service he was in was at Arundel, in Sussex, where he died, as I may further give you an account; but I am not willing to let slip taking notice to you, of his gallant and true English spirit. He opposed all arbitrariness in the discipline of an army; for which purpose he claimed his right, as a colonel, to sit in their councils of war; which was refused, a selfish cabal engrossing the management of secret designs to themselves, which he gave testimony against, saying it was contrary to all military laws. Those of the cabal were one Merrick, and a Scotchman, whose name was ------. He had his eye so much upon them, and discovered so much of their intending to make a trade by their engagement, or at least a compliance with the king for their own advantage, that he constantly expressed his disapprobation of it; insomuch that he was cautioned, by several of his intimates, to take care that no mischief was done him, if his life was not attempted. He imbibed such feelings from these cabals, and secret, selfish management of affairs, that he almost concluded that the cause was lost, which he had engaged in, and endeavored to maintain by every effort in his power. He reflected on the expense and inconvenience brought on us, he feared, to no purpose, and therefore resolved to go forth no more; and so returned, with his regiment, into Kent.
But not long after, his own native county, Sussex, was in danger of being spoiled by the cavalier party, who had taken Arundel, and fortified the town and castle. Sir William Waller commanded in chief against them, to whose assistance the associated counties were sent for; amongst others, your grandfather's regiment was invited. He, looking upon this engagement as a particular service to his own county, with great freedom and cheerfulness went to Arundel. There they held a long siege before the town. After they had taken it, they besieged the castle: it proved a very difficult, hard task. When it was taken, your grandfather and Colonel Morley had the management and government of the castle committed to their charge.
But a few weeks after, the disease, which the soldiers that were in the town and castle had, called calenture, seized on him, at his quarters, at one Wade's, near Arundel; whither he sent for me in the depth of winter (hard frost and great snow) from London. To go was a great difficulty upon me, being great with child of your mother; and the waters were out at Newington. Several places on the highways they were obliged to row in boats, and take with us all the things out of the coach: the horses were led by strings tied to their bridles. In some places both coach and horses swam. All these difficulties were so well known by the people in London that all but one refused to lend me a coach. She was a widow woman, who had had a great deal of our money, and had a great respect for us. She at length was prevailed on to let me have one, though she knew she hazarded both coach and horses. I agreed to give her a great price (twelve pounds) to carry me down. It was a very tedious, trying journey to me: we were benighted, and overturned in the dark, into a hedge-trough. When we came to come out of it, we found we had scarcely room enough, without danger of falling down a very steep precipice on the other side. If the coach had turned on that side, we had certainly been dashed to pieces. Our guide was the messenger from your grandfather to me, who, riding on a white horse, was the only rule we had to follow.
When late, we coming by a garrison, the colonel required the guard to stop the coach, and give him notice who it was; which he did. Immediately the colonel came down, and kindly invited me to stay till morning; and to induce me to it, said my husband was likely to mend, and begged me to consider my situation, and not hazard my life. Upon which the coachman would almost have forced me to stay and lodge in the garrison; saying that his horses would not hold out, and that they would be spoiled. To which I replied, that if that should happen, I was obliged to pay for all of them; and that I was resolved not to go out of the coach, unless obliged to it by some accident, until I came so near my husband, that I could complete the journey on foot. So he, finding me resolved, put on. When we came to Arundel, we met a most dismal sight. The whole town was depopulated: all the windows broken by the great guns: all the shops and lower rooms converted by the soldiers into stables. So we passed through towards his quarters. When we came within a quarter of a mile of the house, the horses stood still; we knew not the reason of it, but waited whilst our guide went down to the house to get a candle and lantern. He coming back to our assistance, found one of the wheels fasts stuck in the root of a tree: it was a considerable time before it was disengaged.
The guide's going to the house caused it to be reported to my husband that I was come. He told them they were mistaken, for he knew I could not come, I was so near my time; but they affirming that it was so, he desired them to set him up in the bed, "that I may see her," said he, "when she does come." It was about twelve o'clock when I arrived. As soon as I put my foot into the hall (there being a pair of stairs leading from thence to his chamber), I heard him say, "Why will you lie to me? If she is come, let me see her, and hear her voice;" which struck me so that I had not strength of my own to carry me up the stairs; but being assisted by two, I got up. When he saw me, he in a manner sprung up, as if he would have come out of the bed, saying, "Let me embrace you before I die. I go to your God and my God." I found most of his officers about him, attending on him with great tokens of affection, and sorrow for the condition he was in. The purple spots came out the day before, but now were struck in; and the fever got into his head: upon which they caused him to keep in bed, having not been prevailed on before to keep it, in the daytime, since his illness (till that day), which had been five days before the spots appeared. They seeing his great danger (for many Kentish men, both commanders and others, had died of that distemper within a week, near his quarters) constrained him to keep his chamber, from his first seizure; but such was his active spirit and stout heart, that he knew not how to yield to confinement, and engaged to shoot birds out of the window with his cross-bow, which he continued to do till the fever took his head, and the spots went in. After which, he being so young and strong, and his blood so hot (being but about twenty-three years of age), the fever was so violent that they were obliged to sit round his bed to keep him in it; or else they must have tied him. All this time he used no unguarded expression, though delirious; but spoke seriously about his dying, to the doctor I brought down with me; and ordered him what medicines to give him, saying "What you do, do quickly: if that does not do, nothing will help me." He spoke very affectionately to me, and wittily to his officers, about keeping their prisoner, making up the breaches, and keeping the watch; alluding to himself about getting out of bed, which he often attempted to do, putting out his legs, arms, &etc. His breath was so very hot and scorching that it made his lips chap. He, perceiving my lips were cool, would hardly permit me to take them off to breathe, but would often cry out, "Oh! Don't go from me."
The doctor, my own maid-servants, and his attendants were greatly troubled at my being so much with him; thinking that thereby I endangered both my own and child's life, by constantly drawing in his infected breath.
The medicine which he ordered being administered, he observed the manner of its operation to be a signification of death, and called out to the doctor in these words: "This will not do: I am a dead man." The doctor had drawn the same conclusion from the same sign, though he said nothing about it.
He grew still and fell asleep, which they that were about him observing, begged me to consider my condition; and entreated me to go to bed, and leave with him one of my maids, who might bring me an account about him when he awoke. I was at length prevailed on to go to bed. When he awoke, he seemed much refreshed and sensible; for he took much notice of my maid, saying, "You are my wife's own maid; (for it was she that waited upon me in my chamber). Where, where is my wife? How does my boy do? And many particulars he inquired of her concerning me. At last he said, "Go to my wife, and tell her I am almost ready to embrace her and talk to her; I am so refreshed with my sleep."
She came up and gave me this account: upon which I was willing to go down to him. But she persuaded me not to go, saying he would go to sleep again if I were not there to hinder him. So I sent her down with a message to him, and lay till late, thinking from the description she had given me of him, that there was a possibility of his recovery; but when I went down, I perceived a great alteration in him, and sadness upon all faces about him, which exceedingly shocked me, I having let in the flattering hope of his recovery.
He spoke very affectionately to me, and dropped several serious, weighty expressions. At last he called to me saying, "Come, my dear, let me kiss you before I die;" which he did, with such eagerness as if he would have left his breath with me; and after said, "Come, my dear, once more let me kiss you, and take my leave of you;" which he did in the same manner as before: then cried out, "Now no more, never no more," which having said, he fell into a great agony.
He had been ill but seven days; his strength, to appearance, no ways impaired; but his spirits heightened, and blood inflamed by the violence of the fever
* * * * * *
Oh! This was a dreadful sight and sound to me: my very heart-strings seemed ready to break, and let my heart fall from its wonted place; whilst the bed shook under him, as if it would have fallen to pieces.
The doctor, my husband's chaplain, and the chief officers that were about him, observing the violent condition he was in, consulted together whether anything could be done for him. Recollecting that he fell into this violent agitation on taking leave of me, the concluded that they must either persuade me, or take me from the bed by force; saying they believed his great affection for me, and the seeing me there, were the occasion of it. Upon which they came to me, and desired me to go from the bedside to the firs; saying, my being there occasioned his great agony, and that whilst I staid there he could not die.
The sound of the word "die" had such an effect upon me, that, like an astonished, amazed creature, I stamped with my foot, and cried, "Die! Die! Must he die? I cannot go from him." Upon which two of them gently lifted me into their arms, from the bed to the fire, which was at a pretty great distance from the bed; and there they held me from going to him again: at which time I wept not, but stood silent and amazed, frozen with grief. Soon after I was brought from the bed he lay still; and when they thought his sight was gone, that he could not see me, they suffered me to go to the bedside. I looked on him, and saw the most amiable, pleasant countenance I ever beheld; smiling like an infant, when (as they saying is) they see angels. He lay about an hour in this position. Towards sunset he turned quickly about and called upon a kinsman of his, saying "Come, Anthony; come quickly." At which very instant he rode into the yard, being come many miles to see him. Soon after this he departed, it being in the twelfth month. As soon as the breath left him, they took me into another chamber, and suffered me no more to see him, lest the fright should prove of bad consequence in my present condition. I now got the relief of tears.
The next morning he was put into a coffin, and carried away privately, in his own ammunition-wagon, to Ringmore, the parish in which he was born, and where some of his ancestors lay. by my desire, his body was accompanied only by his own officers and soldiers; not choosing that his funeral should be according to the usual formalities and manner of one of his rank in the army, which was expected and intended by the regiment; and, in order thereto, his attendant officers had sent notice to the others and the soldiers, to hold themselves in readiness against the time.
When I returned to London, and his will was opened, it was found his circumstances were such, that such an unnecessary expense (which would have been several hundred pounds) would have been very imprudent; for he died above two thousand pounds in debt, most of it contracted to maintain the war. Three hundred pounds went to the Irish business; five to the Guildhall; a large sum for the purchase of all wagons, tents, furniture, and other accommodations for him in several engagements; besides, going out a volunteer, and keeping a table, at Arundel, for all those of their own company that were volunteers. He had expended such large sums in these concerns, that, with the rest, my portion was spent (which was sixteen hundred pounds). His Michaelmas rents were paid him in at Arundel; yet, when he died, he had but twelve pounds in his trunk and many large sums were due at his headquarters at Arundel, and several other places on their march thither, and where the soldiers had lain; such as smiths' bills, provision-bills for the horses that attended his person and carriages; wages to his grooms, wagoners, and such like, that attended him in the army, having pay for none of them. He had taken up a mortgage on his farm called Chundler's on the Downs, of about three hundred pounds. He also mortgaged another part of his land to one Banks of Maidstone, treasurer to the Kentish regiment, for two hundred pounds (taken up but a few days before he marched to Arundel) for his present use, his Michaelmas rents not then being paid. He had also entered into an engagement with Captain Courtrop (who had a lease, of twenty-one years, of his woods at the Frith) to pay him, at the expiration of his lease, five hundred and sixty odd pounds, for standards to be left in the woods; which, upon the nonpayment of the money, he was to have power to cut down. This became payable within a year after his death; and those that understood things of this kind thought that there was a necessity for its being paid. All that I had then in the world to pay with was about two hundred pounds, with which I paid Captain Courtrop in part, to prevent him from destroying the trees.
And now, my dear child, having related what I can now remember of his parents, education, marriage, going into the wars, his transactions and death there, though not in battle (yet of the disease in the castle of Arundel after it was taken), I will give you some hints respecting the many excellent qualities that he was eminently exemplary for; as, zeal, generosity, compassion, charitableness, justice, affability, ingenuity, activity and industry, and courage without harshness or cruelty.
To mention first his zeal for the Lord and his cause; (for that it truly was which he engaged in in his day). He began very early to see the superstitions, follies, and fruitless devotion of the times, respecting both the ministry and whole form of worship in the church of England. He abhorred their manner of making bishops, and ordaining other ministers and ecclesiastical officers (so called), the common prayer-book, their surplices, and the administration of their sacraments called baptism and the Lord's supper. His distant view of things proceeded from a glimpse of the dawning of that day, wherein prayer was to be put up with the spirit and with the understanding: he saw there was a spirit of prayer and supplication in which all that had it would find acceptance with God; nay, that the very sighs and groans which went forth from that spirit would make intercession with the Father. He also, in that little measure of light, according to the dispensation of that day, saw that the priests were not to preach for hire, but were to be sent of the Lord and reach the conscience. These things being made manifest to him, he declined the established, false, dead forms, and joined in heart to such as feared the Lord, and therefore, in that dark day, went by the nickname of Puritans. He delighted to be united with these people, in their "chaste conversation coupled with fear," and be exercised with them in the worship of God. In all company he stood boldly against many points of doctrine preached by the church of England; and, that he might have arguments to overturn them in their own devices, and to manifest to the tender the truth of his own arguments, he diligently studied the Scriptures, and kept a commonplace book in his pocket, wherein he entered such scriptures as proved what right worship was, and reproved their dark, formal way of worship. In the zeal of the Lord, he engaged in the Scotch Protestation, against all popery and popish innovations.
As is before said, he received a colonel of foot's commission, under the earl of Essex, about the time of Edgehill fight, and was afterwards made a deputy lieutenant for the county of Kent. In every employment he expressed great zeal against superstition; encouraging and requiring his soldiers to break down all idolatrous statues and pictures, and crosses; going into steeple-houses, and taking away the priest's surplices, and distributing them to poor women. When he was upon the service of searching popish houses, whatever crucifixes, beads, and such like trumpery he found, if they were ever so rich, he destroyed them without ever reserving one of them for its beauty or costly workmanship; nor ever saved any other thing for his own use.
I find freedom to mention one particular passage, in his pursuit of destroying popish pictures and relics. A member of the House, an active man in the parliament's cause, a deputy lieutenant for the county (whose wife was a very zealous Puritan) was my husband's intimate companion, and very assistant to him in searching popish houses, and destroying their vain trumpery. Your grandfather came one day to their house to visit them; and passing through the hall he espied several large, fine, superstitious pictures; as of the crucifixion of Christ, of his resurrection, &etc. They were thought very ornamental to the hall, though removed thither out of the parlor by way of manifesting their neglect of them. But my dear husband thought it a very inconsistent, unequal thing, to destroy those things in popish houses, and leave them in the houses of their opponents. He therefore, with his sword, but them all out of the frames, and putting them thereon, carried them into the parlour; and the woman of the house being there, he said, "What a shame it is that your husband should be such a persecutor of the Papists and yet spare such things as these in his own house! But (said he) I have acted impartial judgment, by destroying them here."
His zeal was blended with judgment and mercy. He converted none of their estates to his own use; nay , refused to buy any of the goods that were plundered from them; nor ever made use of one pound's worth, I dare aver, of any thing belonging to them. He had very great offers from those in power, of houses and goods belonging to those called Delinquents. These offers were made him, in consideration that his diligent attendance on the parliament's affairs caused his family to be much in London. All which he refused; rather choosing to give twenty shillings a week for lodgings, than to touch with any of those things. One remarkable instance of his steady adherence to his principles was, his refusal of Leeds Castle in Kent, after it was taken by parliament, and made a garrison of, and he intended to be made chief commander of it. He was greatly pressed to have his family live in it, and make use of the goods. He also refused another well-furnished house, at Hollingborn, within a few miles of said castle, giving them an answer to this purpose: "I dare not make use of any man's estate or goods or dwell in any man's sequestered house, much less this that was my uncle's" (Sir Thomas Culpeper's). He was so merciful in administering justice that I never heard of any man that could charge him with being unmerciful to any of the persons he was concerned with, in the cause he was engaged in. The whole of his mind, temper, and course of life, was in the exercise of compassion and charity; of which truth there have been many instances given me by persons who observed his ways where he was engaged and quartered; besides what I myself have seen, having had converse with him from twelve years old to his dying day. Of his charity I shall mention one instance, which I had from the mayor of Maidstone in Kent. After my husband's decease, he brought me a bill of three pounds, with my husband's hand to it, telling me that, as they were walking the street together, they met a poor man, making most piteous moan, whom the bailiffs were taking to prison; whereat, your grandfather stopped the bailiffs and inquired what he was going to prison for. They answered, for debt. At which he said, "You shall not carry him. Mr. Mayor, please to lay down the money, and I will see you discharged."
He was grateful in his returns of kindness, generous in assistance, and frequent in almsdeeds, especially at the time the Irish Protestants came over, upon the massacre there; also to the plundered ministers, and maimed soldiers that were wounded in the wars. He rarely gave less than a twenty-shilling piece at a time, at private fasts, where their sufferings were presented before him, constantly once a week, and sometimes twice.
I shall here mention a very remarkable instance of his charity to the Irish. We were at a fast in Milk-Street, London, where one Thomas Case, a Puritan preacher, set forth, in a very moving manner, the great distress the Irish Protestant were in, and the need they stood in of assistance, to get over to England. He related the affair so affectingly, that it pierced my husband greatly; and as he was writing the sermon after him, he felt an engagement on his mind to give twenty pounds. Afterwards he considered, that this was determined on when he was warmed with a sense of their misery, and that, perhaps as he grew cooler, he might be drawn from the engagement of his mind; therefore, to prevent the nonperformance of it, he took his book, and wrote in it a solemn promise (setting his name to it), before the Lord, to fulfill it when he came home; adding these words: "If I do not, my handwriting shall be a witness against me, when all is over." Two men of quality, who were appointed, stood at the door with basins, to receive the collections for the Irish Protestants; and some other officers, those for the maimed soldiers. As my husband passed out, he put five pieces of gold into the Irish and one piece into the other basin. So we went away, and he said nothing to me of his future intention; but when we came to our lodgings, he refused to sup, but went upstairs to writing. After some time he called to me, and desired me to fetch him fifteen pounds in a bag. When I brought it and he had taken it, he spoke to me to this purpose: "Now I have made sure of the thing, I will acquaint you with what I intend to do with it." So he told me the whole affair, and read to me the engagement in his book and the letter he had written to the said Thomas Case, giving him an account of how it was with him; but did not put any name to it, declaring he had given it to the Lord, and desired to be unknown, and unnoticed. His footboy was sent off with this letter, and money sealed up, with orders to turn his coat, wrongside out, to deliver what was sent into the hands of Thomas Case, and not to stay to be asked any questions. These precautions were taken to prevent his knowing from whom the gift came. Next day, those that received the collections came to Thomas Case's house, telling him how very bountiful one young gentleman had been, in putting in five pieces. On which he told them, that late last night he received fifteen pounds from the same person, letting him know, by letter, that he had determined on giving twenty pounds; but last night he had no more gold about him that he could spare. The next first day, or soon after, Thomas Case provoked the people to enlarge their bounty, by this young gentleman's example; relating the whole affair to the congregation, but chiefly took notice of his endeavors to conceal himself.
His manner and deportment were courteous and affable towards all. He was most ingenious from a very lad, carving and forming things with his knife, for tools: so industriously active, that he was scarcely ever idle. But when he could not employ himself abroad, in shooting at a mark with guns, pistols, cross-bows, or long-bows; or managing his horses (all which he brought up and managed himself, teaching them courage and boldness, in charging, against the day of battle), then he would fence within doors, and make cross-bow strings. He would use the bow with such accuracy as if it had been his trade; casting bullets of all sorts; feathering of arrows for his carabines; pulling his watch to pieces, and mending any defect in it; or taking the house-clock to pieces to clean; or training himself and servants to the postures of war, by books he had for that purpose. He was also a great artist in shooting and fishing, and making lines; ordering baits for the purpose. He was a great lover of coursing, and managed the dogs himself.
I have mentioned these tings to show you his ingenuity: for the vanity of them, his mind was weaned from, when he became engaged about religion. He was most affectionately tender to me and the child, beyond what I had ever observed by any other, or could expect from him, his youth, gallantry, and active mind considered; which created him so much other business, as one would expect would scarcely admit of his thinking so much about us; but, on the contrary, I do not remember that ever he let an opportunity slip, when absent, of acquainting me with his situation, either by letter or verbal message. He hath often wrote letters to me at the places where he baited, on purpose to send by travelers that he might meet on the road. When he was engaged at the fight at Newbury, after the battle was over, he gave the messenger that was sent to the parliament to acquaint them with the issue of it, a twenty-shilling piece, only just to knock at the door of my lodgings, in Blackfriars, and leave word that he saw him well after the battle was over; he had time to send no more. This message was left me between three and four in the morning; at the hearing which joyful news, the oppression seemed to roll off my spirits and stomach, like the removal of a great stone, and the measles came almost immediately out.
To repeat and sum up, in a few words, his many excellencies; which were, sweetness of disposition, compassion, affability, and courtesy; courage, without harshness or cruelty; undaunted in a good cause; generous, liberal, and bountiful. He delighted much in entertaining those that were engaged in the same cause with him; not in excess, but with great freedom, cheerfulness and heartiness. His entertainments were always seasoned with savory and edifying discourse; in which he would encourage others, and rejoice in their being encouraged (seeing that the Lord went out with their hosts and returned with them) to make mention of his gracious dealings with them.
Your loving, affectionate,