« PreviousContinue »
To the English READER.
TF ever it were time to speak, or write, it is now; so I many strange occurrences requiring both.
How much thou art concerned in this ensuing trial, (where not only the prisoners, but the fundamental Laws of England, have been most arbitrarily arraigned) read, and thou mayest plainly judge.
Liberty of conscience is counted a pretence for rebellion; and religious assemblies, routs and riots; and the defenders of both are by them reputed factious and disaffected.
Magna charta is magna far-. with the recorder of London; and to demand right, an affront to the court.
Will and power are their great charter ; but to call for England's, is a crime, incurring the penalty of their bale-dock and nasty hole; nay, the menace of a gag, and iron shackles too.
The jury (though proper judges of law and fact) they would have over-ruled in both: as if their verdict signified no more, than to echo back the illegal charge of the bench. And because their courage and honesty did more than hold pace with the threat and abuse of those who sat as judges (after two days and two nights restraint for a verdict) in the end they were fined and imprisoned for giving it.
Oh! what monstrous and illegal proceedings are these! Who reasonably can call his coat his own, when property is made subservient to the will and interest of his judges ? Or, who can truly esteem himself a free man, when all pleas for liberty are esteemed fedition, and the laws that give and maintain them, so many insignificant pieces of formality.
And what do they less than plainly tell us so, who at will and pleasure break open our locks, rob our
1.82 houses, raze our foundations, imprison our persons, and finally deny us justice to our relief? As if they then acted most like Christian men, when they were most barbarous, in ruining such as are really so; and that no facrifice could be so acceptable to God, as the destruction of those that most fear him.
In short, that the conscientious should only be obnoxious, and the just demand of our religious liberty the reason why we should be denied our civil freedom (as if to be a Christian and an Englishman were inconsistent); and that so much folicitude and deep contrivance should be employed only to ensnare and ruin so many ten thousand conscientious families (so eminently industrious, serviceable, and exemplary; whilst murders can so easily obtain pardon, rapes be remitted, publick uncleanness pass unpunished, and all manner of levity, prodigality, excess, profaneness, and atheism, universally connived at, if not in fome respect manifestly encouraged) cannot but be deteftibly abhorrent to every serious and honest mind.
Yet that this lamentable state is true, and the present project in hand, let London's recorder, and Canterbury's chaplain, be heard.
The first, in his publick panegyrick upon the Spanish Inquisition, highly admiring the prudence of < the Romish church in the erection of it, as an ex( cellent way to prevent schism.' Which unhappy expression at once passeth sentence, both against our fundamental laws, and Protestant reforrnation.
The second, in his printed mercenary discourse against toleration, asserting for a main principle, * That it would be less injurious to the government sto dispense with profane and loose persons, than to " allow a toleration to religious diffènters.'-It were to overdo the business to say any more, where there is so much said already.
And therefore to conclude, we cannot chuse but admonish all, as well persecutors to relinquish their heady, partial, and inhuman persecutions (as what will certainly issue in disgrace here, and inevitable condign punishment hereafter); as those who yet dare express their moderation (however out of fashion, or made the brand of fanaticism) not to be huffed, or menaced out of that excellent temper, to make their parts and persons subject to the base humours and sinister designs of the biggest mortal upon earth; but reverence and obey the eternal just God, before whose great tribunal all must render their accounts, and where he will recompense to every person according to his works. Τ
TRI A L.
AS there can be no observation, where there is no
o action; so it is impossible there shall be a judicious intelligence, without due observation.
And since there can be nothing more reasonable than a right information, especially of publick acts; and well knowing how industrious some will be to misrepresent this trial, to the disadvantage of the cause and prisoners; it was thought requisite, in defence of both, and for the satisfaction of the people, to make it more publick. Nor can there be any business wherein the people of England are more concerned, than in that which relates to their civil and religious liberties, questioned in the persons before named at the Old Bailey, the first, third, fourth and fifth of September 1670.
There being present on the bench, as justices, Sam. Starling, mayor. John Robinson, alderm. John Howell, recorder. Joseph Shelden, alderm. Tho. Bludworth, alderm. | Richard Brown, William Peak, alderm. John Smith, Theriffs. Richard Ford, alderm. James Edwards, J
The citizens of London that were summoned for jurors, appearing, were impanelled; viz.
Cle. Call over the jury.“
Cry. Oyes, Thomas Veer, Ed. Bushel, John Hammond, Charles Milson, Gregory Walklet, John Brightman, Will, Plumstead, Henry Henley, James Damask, Henry Michel, Will. Lever, John Baily.
The form of the Oath. "You shall well and truly try, and true deliverance .make betwixt our sovereign lord the king, and " the prisoners at the bar, according to your eviidence. So help you God.'
s That William Penn, 'gent, and William Mead,
late of London, linen-draper, with divers other
clock in the forenoon of the same day, with "force and arins, &c. in the parish of St. Bennet • Grace-church, in Bridge-ward, London, in the < street called Gracechurch-street, unlawfully and tumultuously did assemble and congregate them
selves together, to the disturbance of the peace of " the said lord the king: and the aforesaid William « Penn and William Mead, together with other " persons to the jurors aforesaid unknown, then
and there so assembled and congregated toge" ther'; the aforesaid William Penn, by agree. r ment between him and William Mead before made, and by abetment of the aforesaid William Mead, then and there, in the open street, did take upon himself to preach and speak, and " then and there did preach and speak, unto the s aforesaid William Mead, and other persons there
in the street aforesaid, being assembled and con
gregated together; by reason whereof a great I concourse and tumult of people in the street
aforesaid, then and there, a long time did re( main and continue, in contempt of the said slord the king, and of his law; to the great dis(turbance of his peace, to the great terror and
disturbance of many of his liege people and < subjects, to the ill example of all others in the ; Q2