Thomas Ellwood, by John Greenleaf Whittier

Old Portraits and Modern Sketches

Commend us to autobiographies! Give us the veritable notchings of Robinson Crusoe on his stick, the indubitable records of a life long since swallowed up in the blackness of darkness, traced by a hand the very dust of which has become undistinguishable. The foolishest egotist who ever chronicled his daily experiences, his hopes and fears, poor plans and vain reachings after happiness, speaking to us out of the Past, and thereby giving us to understand that it was quite as real as our Present, is in no mean sort our benefactor, and commands our attention, in spite of his folly. We are thankful for the very vanity which prompted him to bottle up his poor records, and cast them into the great sea of Time, for future voyagers to pick up. We note, with the deepest interest, that in him too was enacted that miracle of a conscious existence, the reproduction of which in ourselves awes and perplexes us. He, too, had a mother; he hated and loved; the light from old-quenched hearths shone over him; he walked in the sunshine over the dust of those who had gone before him, just as we are now walking over his. These records of him remain, the footmarks of a long-extinct life, not of mere animal organism, but of a being like ourselves, enabling us, by studying their hieroglyphic significance, to decipher and see clearly into the mystery of existence centuries ago. The dead generations live again in these old self-biographies. Incidentally, unintentionally, yet in the simplest and most natural manner, they make us familiar with all the phenomena of life in the bygone ages. We are brought in contact with actual flesh-and-blood men and women, not the ghostly outline figures which pass for such, in what is called History. The horn lantern of the biographer, by the aid of which, with painful minuteness, he chronicled, from day to day, his own outgoings and incomings, making visible to us his pitiful wants, labors, trials, and tribulations of the stomach and of the conscience, sheds, at times, a strong clear light upon contemporaneous activities; what seemed before half fabulous, rises up in distinct and full proportions; we look at statesmen, philosophers, and poets, with the eyes of those who lived perchance their next-door neighbors, and sold them beer, and mutton, and household stuffs, had access to their kitchens, and took note of the fashion of their wigs and the color of their breeches. Without some such light, all history would be just about as unintelligible and unreal as a dimly remembered dream.

The journals of the early Friends or Quakers are in this respect invaluable. Little, it is true, can be said, as a general thing, of their literary merits. Their authors were plain, earnest men and women, chiefly intent upon the substance of things, and having withal a strong testimony to bear against carnal wit and outside show and ornament. Yet, even the scholar may well admire the power of certain portions of George Fox's Journal, where a strong spirit clothes its utterance in simple, downright Saxon words; the quiet and beautiful enthusiasm of Pennington; the torrent energy of Edward Burrough; the serene wisdom of Penn; the logical acuteness of Barclay; the honest truthfulness of Sewell; the wit and humor of John Roberts, (for even Quakerism had its apostolic jokers and drab-coated Robert Halls;) and last, not least, the simple beauty of Woolman's Journal, the modest record of a life of good works and love.

Let us look at the Life of Thomas Ellwood. The book before us is a hardly used Philadelphia reprint, bearing date of 1775. The original was published some sixty years before. It is not a book to be found in fashionable libraries, or noticed in fashionable reviews, but is none the less deserving of attention.

Ellwood was born in 1639, in the little town of Crowell, in Oxfordshire. Old Walter, his father, was of "gentlemanly lineage," and held a commission of the peace under Charles I. One of his most intimate friends was Isaac Pennington, a gentleman of estate and good reputation, whose wife, the widow of Sir John Springette, was a lady of superior endowments. Her only daughter, Gulielma, was the playmate and companion of Thomas. On making this family a visit, in 1658, in company with his father, he was surprised to find that they had united with the Quakers, a sect then little known, and everywhere spoken against. Passing through the vista of nearly two centuries, let us cross the threshold, and look with the eyes of young Ellwood upon this Quaker family. It will doubtless give us a good idea of the earnest and solemn spirit of that age of religious awakening.

"So great a change from a free, debonair, and courtly sort of behavior, which we had formerly found there, into so strict a gravity as they now received us with, did not a little amuse us, and disappointed our expectations of such a pleasant visit as we had promised ourselves.

"For my part, I sought, and at length found, means to cast myself into the company of the daughter, whom I found gathering flowers in the garden, attended by her maid, also a Quaker. But when I addressed her after my accustomed manner, with intention to engage her in discourse on the foot of our former acquaintance, though she treated me with a courteous mien, yet, as young as she was, the gravity of her looks and behavior struck such an awe upon me, that I found myself not so much master of myself as to pursue any further converse with her.

"We staid dinner, which was very handsome, and lacked nothing to recommend it to me but the want of mirth and pleasant discourse, which we could neither have with them, nor, by reason of them, with one another; the weightiness which was upon their spirits and countenances keeping down the lightness that would have been up in ours."

Not long after, they made a second visit to their sober friends, spending several days, during which they attended a meeting, in a neighboring farmhouse, where we are introduced by Ellwood to two remarkable personages, Edward Burrough, the friend and fearless reprover of Cromwell, and by far the most eloquent preacher of his sect and James Nayler, whose melancholy after-history of fanaticism, cruel sufferings, and beautiful repentance, is so well known to the readers of English history under the Protectorate. Under the preaching of these men, and the influence of the Pennington family, young Ellwood was brought into fellowship with the Quakers. Of the old Justice's sorrow and indignation at this sudden blasting of his hopes and wishes in respect to his son, and of the trials and difficulties of the latter in his new vocation, it is now scarcely worth while to speak. Let us step forward a few years, to 1662, considering meantime how matters, political and spiritual, are changed in that brief period. Cromwell, the Maccabeus of Puritanism, is no longer among men; Charles the Second sits in his place; profane and licentious cavaliers have thrust aside the sleek-haired, painful-faced Independents, who used to groan approval to the Scriptural illustrations of Harrison and Fleetwood; men easy of virtue, without sincerity, either in religion or politics, occupying the places made honorable by the Miltons, Whitlocks, and Vanes of the Commonwealth. Having this change in view, the light which the farthing candle of Ellwood sheds upon one of these illustrious names will not be unwelcome. In his intercourse with Penn, and other learned Quakers, he had reason to lament his own deficiencies in scholarship, and his friend Pennington undertook to put him in a way of remedying the defect.

"He had," says Ellwood, "an intimate acquaintance with Dr. Paget, a physician of note in London, and he with John Milton, a gentleman of great note for learning throughout the learned world, for the accurate pieces he had written on various subjects and occasions.

"This person, having filled a public station in the former times, lived a private and retired life in London, and, having lost his sight, kept always a man to read for him, which usually was the son of some gentleman of his acquaintance, whom, in kindness, he took to improve in his learning.

"Thus, by the mediation of my friend Isaac Pennington with Dr. Paget, and through him with John Milton, was I admitted to come to him, not as a servant to him, nor to be in the house with him, but only to have the liberty of coming to his house at certain hours when I would, and read to him what books he should appoint, which was all the favor I desired.

"He received me courteously, as well for the sake of Dr. Paget, who introduced me, as of Isaac Pennington, who recommended me, to both of whom he bore a good respect. And, having inquired divers things of me, with respect to my former progression in learning, he dismissed me, to provide myself with such accommodations as might be most suitable to my studies.

"I went, therefore, and took lodgings as near to his house (which was then in Jewen Street) as I conveniently could, and from thenceforward went every day in the afternoon, except on the first day of the week, and, sitting by him in his dining-room, read to him such books in the Latin tongue as be pleased to have me read.

"He perceiving with what earnest desire I had pursued learning, gave me not only all the encouragement, but all the help he could. For, having a curious ear, he understood by my tone when I understood what I read and when I did not, and accordingly would stop me, examine me, and open the most difficult passages to me."

Thanks, worthy Thomas, for this glimpse into John Milton's dining-room!

He had been with "Master Milton," as he calls him, only a few weeks, when, being one "first day morning," at the Bull and Mouth meeting, Aldersgate, the train-bands of the city, "with great noise and clamor," headed by Major Rosewell, fell upon him and his friends. The immediate cause of this onslaught upon quiet worshippers was the famous plot of the Fifth Monarchy men, grim old fanatics, who (like the Millerites of the present day) had been waiting long for the personal reign of Christ and the saints upon earth, and in their zeal to hasten such a consummation had sallied into London streets with drawn swords and loaded matchlocks. The government took strong measures for suppressing dissenters' meetings or "conventicles;" and the poor Quakers, although not at all implicated in the disturbance, suffered more severely than any others. Let us look at the "freedom of conscience and worship" in England under that irreverent Defender of the Faith, Charles II. Ellwood says: "He that commanded the party gave us first a general charge to come out of the room. But we, who came thither at God's requiring to worship Him, (like that good man of old, who said, we ought to obey God rather than man,) stirred not, but kept our places. Whereupon, he sent some of his soldiers among us, with command to drag or drive us out, which they did roughly enough." Think of it: grave men and women, and modest maidens, sitting there with calm, impassive countenances, motionless as death, the pikes of the soldiery closing about them in a circle of bristling steel! Brave and true ones! Not in vain did ye thus oppose God's silence to the Devil's uproar; Christian endurance and calm persistence in the exercise of your rights as Englishmen and men to the hot fury of impatient tyranny! From your day down to this, the world has been the better for your faithfulness.

Ellwood and some thirty of his friends were marched off to prison in Old Bridewell, which, as well as nearly all the other prisons, was already crowded with Quaker prisoners. One of the rooms of the prison was used as a torture chamber. "I was almost affrighted," says Ellwood, "by the dismalness of the place; for, besides that the walls were all laid over with black, from top to bottom, there stood in the middle a great whipping-post.

"The manner of whipping there is, to strip the party to the skin, from the waist upward, and, having fastened him to the whipping-post, (so that he can neither resist nor shun the strokes,) to lash his naked body with long, slender twigs of holly, which will bend almost like thongs around the body; and these, having little knots upon them, tear the skin and flesh, and give extreme pain."

To this terrible punishment aged men and delicately nurtured young females were often subjected, during this season of hot persecution.

From the Bridewell, Ellwood was at length removed to Newgate, and thrust in, with other "Friends," amidst the common felons. He speaks of this prison, with its thieves, murderers, and prostitutes, its over-crowded apartments and loathsome cells, as "a hell upon earth." In a closet, adjoining the room where he was lodged, lay for several days the quartered bodies of Phillips, Tongue, and Gibbs, the leaders of the Fifth Monarchy rising, frightful and loathsome, as they came from the bloody hands of the executioners! These ghastly remains were at length obtained by the friends of the dead, and buried. The heads were ordered to be prepared for setting up in different parts of the city. Read this grim passage of description:—

"I saw the heads when they were brought to be boiled. The hangman fetched them in a dirty basket, out of some by-place, and, setting them down among the felons, he and they made sport of them. They took them by the hair, flouting, jeering, and laughing at them; and then giving them some ill names, boxed them on their ears and cheeks; which done, the hangman put them into his kettle, and parboiled them with bay-salt and cummin-seed: that to keep them from putrefaction, and this to keep off the fowls from seizing upon them. The whole sight, as well that of the bloody quarters first as this of the heads afterwards, was both frightful and loathsome, and begat an abhorrence in my nature."

At the next session of the municipal court at the Old Bailey, Ellwood obtained his discharge. After paying a visit to "my Master Milton," he made his way to Chalfont, the home of his friends the Penningtons, where he was soon after engaged as a Latin teacher. Here he seems to have had his trials and temptations. Gulielma Springette, the daughter of Pennington's wife, his old playmate, had now grown to be "a fair woman of marriageable age," and, as he informs us, "very desirable, whether regard was had to her outward person, which wanted nothing to make her completely comely, or to the endowments of her mind, which were every way extraordinary, or to her outward fortune, which was fair." From all which, we are not surprised to learn that "she was secretly and openly sought for by many of almost every rank and condition." "To whom," continues Thomas, "in their respective turns, (till he at length came for whom she was reserved,) she carried herself with so much evenness of temper, such courteous freedom, guarded by the strictest modesty, that as it gave encouragement or ground of hope to none, so neither did it administer any matter of offence or just cause of complaint to any."

Beautiful and noble maiden! How the imagination fills up this outline limning by her friend, and, if truth must be told, admirer! Serene, courteous, healthful; a ray of tenderest and blandest light, shining steadily in the sober gloom of that old household! Confirmed Quaker as she is, shrinking from none of the responsibilities and dangers of her profession, and therefore liable at any time to the penalties of prison and whipping-post, under that plain garb and in spite of that "certain gravity of look and behavior,"—which, as we have seen, on one occasion awed young Ellwood into silence,—youth, beauty, and refinement assert their prerogatives; love knows no creed; the gay, and titled, and wealthy crowd around her, suing in vain for her favor.

              "Followed, like the tided moon,
               She moves as calmly on,"

"until he at length comes for whom she was reserved," and her name is united with that of one worthy even of her, the world-renowned William Penn.

Meantime, one cannot but feel a good degree of sympathy with young Ellwood, her old schoolmate and playmate, placed, as he was, in the same family with her, enjoying her familiar conversation and unreserved confidence, and, as he says, the "advantageous opportunities of riding and walking abroad with her, by night as well as by day, without any other company than her maid; for so great, indeed, was the confidence that her mother had in me, that she thought her daughter safe, if I was with her, even from the plots and designs of others upon her." So near, and yet, alas! in truth, so distant! The serene and gentle light which shone upon him, in the sweet solitudes of Chalfont, was that of a star, itself unapproachable.

As he himself meekly intimates, she was reserved for another. He seems to have fully understood his own position in respect to her; although, to use his own words, "others, measuring him by the propensity of their own inclinations, concluded he would steal her, run away with her, and marry her." Little did these jealous surmisers know of the true and really heroic spirit of the young Latin master. His own apology and defence of his conduct, under circumstances of temptation which St. Anthony himself could have scarcely better resisted, will not be amiss.

"I was not ignorant of the various fears which filled the jealous heads of some concerning me, neither was I so stupid nor so divested of all humanity as not to be sensible of the real and innate worth and virtue which adorned that excellent dame, and attracted the eyes and hearts of so many, with the greatest importunity, to seek and solicit her; nor was I so devoid of natural heat as not to feel some sparklings of desire, as well as others; but the force of truth and sense of honor suppressed whatever would have risen beyond the bounds of fair and virtuous friendship. For I easily foresaw that, if I should have attempted any thing in a dishonorable way, by fraud or force, upon her, I should have thereby brought a wound upon mine own soul, a foul scandal upon my religious profession, and an infamous stain upon mine honor, which was far more dear unto me than my life. Wherefore, having observed how some others had befooled themselves, by misconstruing her common kindness (expressed in an innocent, open, free, and familiar conversation, springing from the abundant affability, courtesy, and sweetness of her natural temper) to be the effect of a singular regard and peculiar affection to them, I resolved to shun the rock whereon they split; and, remembering the saying of the poet

'Felix quem faciunt aliena Pericula cantum,'

I governed myself in a free yet respectful carriage towards her, thereby preserving a fair reputation with my friends, and enjoying as much of her favor and kindness, in a virtuous and firm friendship, as was fit for her to show or for me to seek."

Well and worthily said, poor Thomas! Whatever might be said of others, thou, at least, wast no coxcomb. Thy distant and involuntary admiration of "the fair Guli" needs, however, no excuse. Poor human nature, guard it as one may, with strictest discipline and painfully cramping environment, will sometimes act out itself; and, in thy case, not even George Fox himself, knowing thy beautiful young friend, (and doubtless admiring her too, for he was one of the first to appreciate and honor the worth and dignity or woman,) could have found it in his heart to censure thee!

At this period, as was indeed most natural, our young teacher solaced himself with occasional appeals to what he calls "the Muses." There is reason to believe, however, that the Pagan sisterhood whom he ventured to invoke seldom graced his study with their personal attendance. In these rhyming efforts, scattered up and down his Journal, there are occasional sparkles of genuine wit, and passages of keen sarcasm, tersely and fitly expressed. Others breathe a warm, devotional feeling; in the following brief prayer, for instance, the wants of the humble Christian are condensed in a manner worthy of Quarles or Herbert:—

              "Oh! that mine eye might closed be
               To what concerns me not to see;
               That deafness might possess mine ear
               To what concerns me not to hear;
               That Truth my tongue might always tie
               From ever speaking foolishly;
               That no vain thought might ever rest
               Or be conceived in my breast;
               That by each word and deed and thought
               Glory may to my God be brought!
               But what are wishes? Lord, mine eye
               On Thee is fixed, to Thee I cry
               Wash, Lord, and purify my heart,
               And make it clean in every part;
               And when 't is clean, Lord, keep it too,
               For that is more than I can do."

The thought in the following extracts from a poem written on the death of his friend Pennington's son is trite, but not inaptly or inelegantly expressed:—

              "What ground, alas, has any man
               To set his heart on things below,
               Which, when they seem most like to stand,
               Fly like the arrow from the bow!
               Who's now atop erelong shall feel
               The circling motion of the wheel!

              "The world cannot afford a thing
               Which to a well-composed mind
               Can any lasting pleasure bring,
               But in itself its grave will find.
               All things unto their centre tend
               What had beginning must have end!

              "No disappointment can befall
               Us, having Him who's all in all!
               What can of pleasure him prevent
               Who lath the Fountain of Content?"

In the year 1663 a severe law was enacted against the "sect called Quakers," prohibiting their meetings, with the penalty of banishment for the third offence! The burden of the prosecution which followed fell upon the Quakers of the metropolis, large numbers of whom were heavily fined, imprisoned, and sentenced to be banished from their native land. Yet, in time, our worthy friend Ellwood came in for his own share of trouble, in consequence of attending the funeral of one of his friends. An evil-disposed justice of the county obtained information of the Quaker gathering; and, while the body of the dead was "borne on Friends' shoulders through the street, in order to be carried to the burying- ground, which was at the town's end," says Ellwood, "he rushed out upon us with the constables and a rabble of rude fellows whom he had gathered together, and, having his drawn sword in his hand, struck one of the foremost of the bearers with it, commanding them to set down the coffin. But the Friend who was so stricken, being more concerned for the safety of the dead body than for his own, lest it should fall, and any indecency thereupon follow, held the coffin fast; which the justice observing, and being enraged that his word was not forthwith obeyed, set his hand to the coffin, and with a forcible thrust threw it off from the bearers' shoulders, so, that it fell to the ground in the middle of the street, and there we were forced to leave it; for the constables and rabble fell upon us, and drew some and drove others into the inn. Of those thus taken," continues Ellwood, "I was one. They picked out ten of us, and sent us to Aylesbury jail.

"They caused the body to lie in the open street and cartway, so that all travellers that passed, whether horsemen, coaches, carts, or wagons, were fain to break out of the way to go by it, until it was almost night. And then, having caused a grave to be made in the unconsecrated part of what is called the Churchyard, they forcibly took the body from the widow, and buried it there."

He remained a prisoner only about two months, during which period he comforted himself by such verse-making as follows, reminding us of similar enigmas in Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress:

               "Lo! a Riddle for the wise,
               In the which a Mystery lies.

                         RIDDLE.
          "Some men are free whilst they in prison lie;
          Others who ne'er saw prison captives die.

                        CAUTION.
               "He that can receive it may,
               He that cannot, let him stay,
               Not be hasty, but suspend
               Judgment till he sees the end.

                        SOLUTION.
          "He's only free, indeed, who's free from sin,
          And he is fastest bound that's bound therein."

In the mean time, where is our "Master Milton"? We, left him deprived of his young companion and reader, sitting lonely in his small dining-room, in Jewen Street. It is now the year 1665; is not the pestilence in London? A sinful and godless city, with its bloated bishops fawning around the Nell Gwyns of a licentious and profane Defender of the Faith; its swaggering and drunken cavaliers; its ribald jesters; its obscene ballad-singers; its loathsome prisons, crowded with Godfearing men and women: is not the measure of its iniquity already filled up? Three years only have passed since the terrible prayer of Vane went upward from the scaffold on Tower Hill: "When my blood is shed upon the block, let it, O God, have a voice afterward!" Audible to thy ear, O bosom friend of the martyr! has that blood cried from earth; and now, how fearfully is it answered! Like the ashes which the Seer of the Hebrews cast towards Heaven, it has returned in boils and blains upon the proud and oppressive city. John Milton, sitting blind in Jewen Street, has heard the toll of the death-bells, and the nightlong rumble of the burial-carts, and the terrible summons, "Bring out your dead!" The Angel of the Plague, in yellow mantle, purple-spotted, walks the streets. Why should he tarry in a doomed city, forsaken of God! Is not the command, even to him, "Arise and flee, for thy life"? In some green nook of the quiet country, he may finish the great work which his hands have found to do. He bethinks him of his old friends, the Penningtons, and his young Quaker companion, the patient and gentle Ellwood. "Wherefore," says the latter, "some little time before I went to Aylesbury jail, I was desired by my quondam Master Milton to take an house for him in the neighborhood where I dwelt, that he might go out of the city for the safety of himself and his family, the pestilence then growing hot in London. I took a pretty box for him in Giles Chalfont, a mile from me, of which I gave him notice, and intended to have waited on him and seen him well settled, but was prevented by that imprisonment. But now being released and returned home, I soon made a visit to him, to welcome him into the country. After some common discourse had passed between us, he called for a manuscript of his, which, having brought, he delivered to me, bidding me take it home with me and read it at my leisure, and when I had so done return it to him, with my judgment thereupon."

Now, what does the reader think young Ellwood carried in his gray coat pocket across the dikes and hedges and through the green lanes of Giles Chalfont that autumn day? Let us look farther "When I came home, and had set myself to read it, I found it was that excellent poem which he entitled Paradise Lost. After I had, with the best attention, read it through, I made him another visit; and, returning his book with due acknowledgment of the favor he had done me in communicating it to me, he asked me how I liked it and what I thought of it, which I modestly but freely told him; and, after some farther discourse about it, I pleasantly said to him, 'Thou hast said much here of Paradise Lost; what hast thou to say of Paradise Found?' He made me no answer, but sat some time in a muse; then brake off that discourse, and fell upon another subject."

"I modestly but freely told him what I thought" of Paradise Lost! What he told him remains a mystery. One would like to know more precisely what the first critical reader of that song "of Man's first disobedience" thought of it. Fancy the young Quaker and blind Milton sitting, some pleasant afternoon of the autumn of that old year, in "the pretty box" at Chalfont, the soft wind through the open window lifting the thin hair of the glorious old Poet! Back-slidden England, plague-smitten, and accursed with her faithless Church and libertine King, knows little of poor "Master Milton," and takes small note of his Puritanic verse-making. Alone, with his humble friend, he sits there, conning over that poem which, he fondly hoped, the world, which had grown all dark and strange to the author, "would not willingly let die." The suggestion in respect to Paradise Found, to which, as we have seen, "he made no answer, but sat some time in a muse," seems not to have been lost; for, "after the sickness was over," continues Ellwood, "and the city well cleansed, and become safely habitable again, he returned thither; and when afterwards I waited on him there, which I seldom failed of doing whenever my occasions drew me to London, he showed me his second poem, called Paradise Gained; and, in a pleasant tone, said to me, 'This is owing to you, for you put it into my head by the question you put to me at Chalfont, which before I had not thought of.'"

Golden days were these for the young Latin reader, even if it be true, as we suspect, that he was himself very far from appreciating the glorious privilege which he enjoyed, of the familiar friendship and confidence of Milton. But they could not last. His amiable host, Isaac Pennington, a blameless and quiet country gentleman, was dragged from his house by a military force, and lodged in Aylesbury jail; his wife and family forcibly ejected from their pleasant home, which was seized upon by the government as security for the fines imposed upon its owner. The plague was in the village of Aylesbury, and in the very prison itself; but the noble-hearted Mary Pennington followed her husband, sharing with him the dark peril. Poor Ellwood, while attending a monthly meeting at Hedgerly, with six others, (among them one Morgan Watkins, a poor old Welshman, who, painfully endeavoring to utter his testimony in his own dialect, was suspected by the Dogberry of a justice of being a Jesuit trolling over his Latin,) was arrested, and committed to Wiccomb House of Correction.

This was a time of severe trial for the sect with which Ellwood had connected himself. In the very midst of the pestilence, when thousands perished weekly in London, fifty-four Quakers were marched through the almost deserted streets, and placed on board a ship, for the purpose of being conveyed, according to their sentence of banishment, to the West Indies. The ship lay for a long time, with many others similarly situated, a helpless prey to the pestilence. Through that terrible autumn, the prisoners sat waiting for the summons of the ghastly Destroyer; and, from their floating dungeon.

                              "Heard the groan
               Of agonizing ships from shore to shore;
               Heard nightly plunged beneath the sullen wave
               The frequent corse."

When the vessel at length set sail, of the fifty-four who went on board, twenty-seven only were living. A Dutch privateer captured her, when two days out, and carried the prisoners to North Holland, where they were set at liberty. The condition of the jails in the city, where were large numbers of Quakers, was dreadful in the extreme. Ill ventilated, crowded, and loathsome with the accumulated filth of centuries, they invited the disease which daily decimated their cells. "Go on!" says Pennington, writing to the King and bishops from his plague-infected cell in the Aylesbury prison: "try it out with the Spirit of the Lord! Come forth with your laws, and prisons, and spoiling of goods, and banishment, and death, if the Lord please, and see if ye can carry it! Whom the Lord loveth He can save at His pleasure. Hath He begun to break our bonds and deliver us, and shall we now distrust Him? Are we in a worse condition than Israel was when the sea was before them, the mountains on either side, and the Egyptians behind, pursuing them?"

Brave men and faithful! It is not necessary that the present generation, how quietly reaping the fruit of your heroic endurance, should see eye to eye with you in respect to all your testimonies and beliefs, in order to recognize your claim to gratitude and admiration. For, in an age of hypocritical hollowness and mean self-seeking, when, with noble exceptions, the very Puritans of Cromwell's Reign of the Saints were taking profane lessons from their old enemies, and putting on an outside show of conformity, for the sake of place or pardon, ye maintained the austere dignity of virtue, and, with King and Church and Parliament arrayed against you, vindicated the Rights of Conscience, at the cost of home, fortune, and life. English liberty owes more to your unyielding firmness than to the blows stricken for her at Worcester and Naseby.

In 1667, we find the Latin teacher in attendance at a great meeting of Friends, in London, convened at the suggestion of George Fox, for the purpose of settling a little difficulty which had arisen among the Friends, even under the pressure of the severest persecution, relative to the very important matter of "wearing the hat." George Fox, in his love of truth and sincerity in word and action, had discountenanced the fashionable doffing of the hat, and other flattering obeisances towards men holding stations in Church or State, as savoring of man-worship, giving to the creature the reverence only due to the Creator, as undignified and wanting in due self-respect, and tending to support unnatural and oppressive distinctions among those equal in the sight of God. But some of his disciples evidently made much more of this "hat testimony" than their teacher. One John Perrott, who had just returned from an unsuccessful attempt to convert the Pope, at Rome, (where that dignitary, after listening to his exhortations, and finding him in no condition to be benefited by the spiritual physicians of the Inquisition, had quietly turned him over to the temporal ones of the Insane Hospital,) had broached the doctrine that, in public or private worship, the hat was not to be taken off, without an immediate revelation or call to do so! Ellwood himself seems to have been on the point of yielding to this notion, which appears to have been the occasion of a good deal of dissension and scandal. Under these circumstances, to save truth from reproach, and an important testimony to the essential equality of mankind from running into sheer fanaticism, Fox summoned his tried and faithful friends together, from all parts of the United Kingdom, and, as it appears, with the happiest result. Hat-revelations were discountenanced, good order and harmony reestablished, and John Perrott's beaver and the crazy head under it were from thenceforth powerless for evil. Let those who are disposed to laugh at this notable "Ecumenical Council of the Hat" consider that ecclesiastical history has brought down to us the records of many larger and more imposing convocations, wherein grave bishops and learned fathers took each other by the beard upon matters of far less practical importance.

In 1669, we find Ellwood engaged in escorting his fair friend, Gulielma, to her uncle's residence in Sussex. Passing through London, and taking the Tunbridge road, they stopped at Seven Oak to dine. The Duke of York was on the road, with his guards and hangers-on, and the inn was filled with a rude company. "Hastening," says Ellwood, "from a place where we found nothing but rudeness, the roysterers who swarmed there, besides the damning oaths they belched out against each other, looked very sourly upon us, as if they grudged us the horses which we rode and the clothes we wore." They had proceeded but a little distance, when they were overtaken by some half dozen drunken rough-riding cavaliers, of the Wildrake stamp, in full pursuit after the beautiful Quakeress. One of them impudently attempted to pull her upon his horse before him, but was held at bay by Ellwood, who seems, on this occasion, to have relied somewhat upon his "stick," in defending his fair charge. Calling up Gulielma's servant, he bade him ride on one side of his mistress, while he guarded her on the other. "But he," says Ellwood, "not thinking it perhaps decent to ride so near his mistress, left room enough for another to ride between." In dashed the drunken retainer, and Gulielma was once more in peril. It was clearly no time for exhortations and expostulations; "so," says Ellwood, "I chopped in upon him, by a nimble turn, and kept him at bay. I told him I had hitherto spared him, but wished him not to provoke me further. This I spoke in such a tone as bespoke an high resentment of the abuse put upon us, and withal pressed him so hard with my horse that I suffered him not to come up again to Guli." By this time, it became evident to the companions of the ruffianly assailant that the young Quaker was in earnest, and they hastened to interfere. "For they," says Ellwood, "seeing the contest rise so high, and probably fearing it would rise higher, not knowing where it might stop, came in to part us; which they did by taking him away."

Escaping from these sons of Belial, Ellwood and his fair companion rode on through Tunbridge Wells, "the street thronged with men, who looked very earnestly at them, but offered them no affront," and arrived, late at night, in a driving rain, at the mansion-house of Herbert Springette. The fiery old gentleman was so indignant at the insult offered to his niece, that he was with difficulty dissuaded from demanding satisfaction at the hands of the Duke of York.

This seems to have been his last ride with Gulielma. She was soon after married to William Penn, and took up her abode at Worminghurst, in Sussex. How blessed and beautiful was that union may be understood from the following paragraph of a letter, written by her husband, on the eve of his departure for America to lay the foundations of a Christian colony:—

"My dear wife! remember thou wast the love of my youth, and much the joy of my life, the most beloved as well as the most worthy of all my earthly comforts; and the reason of that love was more thy inward than thy outward excellences, which yet were many. God knows, and thou knowest it, I can say it was a match of Providence's making; and God's image in us both was the first thing and the most amiable and engaging ornament in our eyes."

About this time our friend Thomas, seeing that his old playmate at Chalfont was destined for another, turned his attention towards a "young Friend, named Mary Ellis." He had been for several years acquainted with her, but now he "found his heart secretly drawn and inclining towards her." "At length," he tells us, "as I was sitting all alone, waiting upon the Lord for counsel and guidance in this, in itself and to me, important affair, I felt a word sweetly arise in me, as if I had heard a Voice which said, Go, and prevail! and faith springing in my heart at the word, I immediately rose and went, nothing doubting." On arriving at her residence, he states that he "solemnly opened his mind to her, which was a great surprisal to her, for she had taken in an apprehension, as others had also done," that his eye had been fixed elsewhere and nearer home. "I used not many words to her," he continues, "but I felt a Divine Power went along with the words, and fixed the matter expressed by them so fast in her breast, that, as she afterwards acknowledged to me, she could not shut it out."

"I continued," he says, "my visits to my best-beloved Friend until we married, which was on the 28th day of the eighth month, 1669. We took each other in a select meeting of the ancient and grave Friends of that country. A very solemn meeting it was, and in a weighty frame of spirit we were." His wife seems to have had some estate; and Ellwood, with that nice sense of justice which marked all his actions, immediately made his will, securing to her, in case of his decease, all her own goods and moneys, as well as all that he had himself acquired before marriage. "Which," he tells, "was indeed but little, yet, by all that little, more than I had ever given her ground to expect with me." His father, who was yet unreconciled to the son's religious views, found fault with his marriage, on the ground that it was unlawful and unsanctioned by priest or liturgy, and consequently refused to render him any pecuniary assistance. Yet, in spite of this and other trials, he seems to have preserved his serenity of spirit. After an unpleasant interview with his father, on one occasion, he wrote, at his lodgings in an inn, in London, what be calls A Song of Praise. An extract from it will serve to show the spirit of the good man in affliction:—

              "Unto the Glory of Thy Holy Name,
               Eternal God! whom I both love and fear,
               I hereby do declare, I never came
               Before Thy throne, and found Thee loath to hear,
               But always ready with an open ear;
               And, though sometimes Thou seem'st Thy face to hide,
               As one that had withdrawn his love from me,
               'T is that my faith may to the full, be tried,
               And that I thereby may the better see
               How weak I am when not upheld by Thee!"

The next year, 1670, an act of Parliament, in relation to "Conventicles," provided that any person who should be present at any meeting, under color or pretence of any exercise of religion, in other manner than according to the liturgy and practice of the Church of England, "should be liable to fines of from five to ten shillings; and any person preaching at or giving his house for the meeting, to a fine of twenty pounds: one third of the fines being received by the informer or informers." As a natural consequence of such a law, the vilest scoundrels in the land set up the trade of informers and heresy-hunters. Wherever a dissenting meeting or burial took place, there was sure to be a mercenary spy, ready to bring a complaint against all in attendance. The Independents and Baptists ceased, in a great measure, to hold public meetings, yet even they did not escape prosecution. Bunyan, for instance, in these days, was dreaming, like another Jacob, of angels ascending and descending, in Bedford prison. But upon the poor Quakers fell, as usual, the great force of the unjust enactment. Some of these spies or informers, men of sharp wit, close countenances, pliant tempers, and skill in dissimulation, took the guise of Quakers, Independents, or Baptists, as occasion required, thrusting themselves into the meetings of the proscribed sects, ascertaining the number who attended, their rank and condition, and then informing against them. Ellwood, in his Journal for 1670, describes several of these emissaries of evil. One of them came to a Friend's house, in Bucks, professing to be a brother in the faith, but, overdoing his counterfeit Quakerism, was detected and dismissed by his host. Betaking himself to the inn, he appeared in his true character, drank and swore roundly, and confessed over his cups that he had been sent forth on his mission by the Rev. Dr. Mew, Vice- Chancellor of Oxford. Finding little success in counterfeiting Quakerism, he turned to the Baptists, where, for a time, he met with better success. Ellwood, at this time, rendered good service to his friends, by exposing the true character of these wretches, and bringing them to justice for theft, perjury, and other misdemeanors.

While this storm of persecution lasted, (a period of two or three years,) the different dissenting sects felt, in some measure, a common sympathy, and, while guarding themselves against their common foe, had little leisure for controversy with each other; but, as was natural, the abatement of their mutual suffering and danger was the signal for renewing their suspended quarrels. The Baptists fell upon the Quakers, with pamphlet and sermon; the latter replied in the same way. One of the most conspicuous of the Baptist disputants was the famous Jeremy Ives, with whom our friend Ellwood seems to have had a good deal of trouble. "His name," says Ellwood, "was up for a topping Disputant. He was well, read in the fallacies of logic, and was ready in framing syllogisms. His chief art lay in tickling the humor of rude, unlearned, and injudicious hearers."

The following piece of Ellwood's, entitled "An Epitaph for Jeremy Ives," will serve to show that wit and drollery were sometimes found even among the proverbially sober Quakers of the seventeenth century:—

              "Beneath this stone, depressed, doth lie
               The Mirror of Hypocrisy—
               Ives, whose mercenary tongue
               Like a Weathercock was hung,
               And did this or that way play,
               As Advantage led the way.
               If well hired, he would dispute,
               Otherwise he would be mute.
               But he'd bawl for half a day,
               If he knew and liked his pay.

              "For his person, let it pass;
               Only note his face was brass.
               His heart was like a pumice-stone,
               And for Conscience he had none.
               Of Earth and Air he was composed,
               With Water round about enclosed.
               Earth in him had greatest share,
               Questionless, his life lay there;
               Thence his cankered Envy sprung,
               Poisoning both his heart and tongue.

              "Air made him frothy, light, and vain,
               And puffed him with a proud disdain.
               Into the Water oft he went,
               And through the Water many sent
               That was, ye know, his element!
               The greatest odds that did appear
               Was this, for aught that I can hear,
               That he in cold did others dip,
               But did himself hot water sip.

              "And his cause he'd never doubt,
               If well soak'd o'er night in Stout;
               But, meanwhile, he must not lack
               Brandy and a draught of Sack.
               One dispute would shrink a bottle
               Of three pints, if not a pottle.
               One would think he fetched from thence
               All his dreamy eloquence.

              "Let us now bring back the Sot
               To his Aqua Vita pot,
               And observe, with some content,
               How he framed his argument.
               That his whistle he might wet,
               The bottle to his mouth he set,
               And, being Master of that Art,
               Thence he drew the Major part,
               But left the Minor still behind;
               Good reason why, he wanted wind;
               If his breath would have held out,
               He had Conclusion drawn, no doubt."

The residue of Ellwood's life seems to have glided on in serenity and peace. He wrote, at intervals, many pamphlets in defence of his Society, and in favor of Liberty of Conscience. At his hospitable residence, the leading spirits of the sect were warmly welcomed. George Fox and William Penn seem to have been frequent guests. We find that, in 1683, he was arrested for seditious publications, when on the eve of hastening to his early friend, Gulielma, who, in the absence of her husband, Governor Penn, had fallen dangerously ill. On coming before the judge, "I told him," says Ellwood, "that I had that morning received an express out of Sussex, that William Penn's wife (with whom I had an intimate acquaintance and strict friendship, ab ipsis fere incunabilis, at least, a teneris unguiculis) lay now ill, not without great danger, and that she had expressed her desire that I would come to her as soon as I could." The judge said "he was very sorry for Madam Penn's illness," of whose virtues he spoke very highly, but not more than was her due. Then he told me, "that, for her sake, he would do what he could to further my visit to her." Escaping from the hands of the law, he visited his friend, who was by this time in a way of recovery, and, on his return, learned that the prosecution had been abandoned.

At about this date his narrative ceases. We learn, from other sources, that he continued to write and print in defence of his religious views up to the year of his death, which took place in 1713. One of his productions, a poetical version of the Life of David, may be still met with, in the old Quaker libraries. On the score of poetical merit, it is about on a level with Michael Drayton's verses on the same subject. As the history of one of the firm confessors of the old struggle for religious freedom, of a genial-hearted and pleasant scholar, the friend of Penn and Milton, and the suggester of Paradise Regained, we trust our hurried sketch has not been altogether without interest; and that, whatever may be the religious views of our readers, they have not failed to recognize a good and true man in Thomas Ellwood.