Click on the links below to review perspectives concerning spiritual self-reckonings in the Early Modern Period.
As the title of this section suggests, autobiographical writing in early modern England was tied to religious experience, the individual, and the act of reckoning. Just as the Civil War was fought largely over religious differences, so allegiance to a particular interpretation of Christianity, usually tied to a specific institution and set of beliefs and practices, was one of the chief shapers of identity in the seventeenth century. All the accounts in this section relate a life as lived from the perspective of belieffrom Elizabeth Cary's conversion to Catholicism to John Bunyan's Puritan salvation by grace, from Anna Trapnel's ecstatic visions to the preacher Ralph Josselin's sober reflections on his daily blessings. The fictional Robinson Crusoe experiences a dramatic conversion on being saved from death by drowning, just as Alice Thornton renews her trust in salvation every time she recovers from the sickness brought on by the death of a child or a near-fatal labor.
The status of the self is necessarily qualified by religion; it is impossible to speak of self-knowledge in isolation from knowledge of God in this period. The selves that are described in these accounts are shaped by the literary forms their narratives take. In the case of Elizabeth Cary, Lady Falkland, her daughter chose to tell her story as a kind of spiritual biography, in which all the events, even including her quarrels with Calvinist theology in youth, tend to converge on the moment of her conversion. In some sense the mother's story may also be a way for the daughter, a Benedictine nun as well as a convert to Catholicism, to witness her own religious experience. For Anna Trapnel the life story takes the form of a testimonial that relates her trial for witchcraft, a drama of persecution from which she emerges triumphant in her reliance on God. Diarists such as Alice Thornton and Ralph Josselin also rely on God as they struggle with their daily trials. Among these is often the struggle for life itself, as in the pregnancies and labors of Alice Thornton and of Ralph Josselin's wife. With Bunyan and Defoe, autobiography is fictionalized as both travel novel and salvational allegory. Both heroes are on journeys; both journeys, according to the authors, have allegorical significance.
The other major influence on these life stories is the rise of a certain way of accounting for material experiencethat of time and of money. Reckoning entails counting, calculating, and recording. The journals of Alice Thornton and Ralph Josselin record dates. In his journal, Robinson Crusoe keeps a strict record of the number of days since his shipwreck. If Ralph Josselin reckons his capital in gains and debits, he also reckons his blessings to shore himself up against his losses. Similarly, Robinson Crusoe takes stock of himself by writing a ledger of his spiritual goods and evils. The language of credit gains importance toward the close of the century. As England becomes not just the battleground of saints, as it was in the Civil War, but the seat of empire, as it develops as a world trader and a colonial power, the "self" expresses itself in relation to Lady Credit as well as the Lord.
The Lady Falkland: Her Life
The Lady Falkland: Her Life is the first known biography of an Englishwoman by a woman. The text survives in a manuscript located in the Archives of the Départment du Nord in Lille, France, a collection that contains documents from the Benedictine monastery of Our Blessed Lady of Consolation in Cambray, where four of Elizabeth Cary's six daughters became Benedictine nuns. Donald Foster has connected the italic hand of the manuscript with Anne Cary, who was born in 1615 and entered the convent in 1639. However, Margaret Ferguson and Barry Weller argue that Lucy Cary cannot be ruled out as possible author, since her obituary makes reference to the "Life of Lady Falkland," written by "one who knew her well."
The passage reprinted here, from the first half of the biography, highlights Elizabeth Cary's intellectual precociousness, theological questioning, obedience to her husband, devotion to her children, and, above all, her strong spiritual life despite her many trials. One of the most palpable expressions of Cary's spirituality was her philanthropy in Ireland. When her husband was Lord Deputy there (162229), Elizabeth set up a trade school to help poor children. In a characteristically seventeenth-century God-centered view of life, Cary, according to her daughter, viewed the failure of the enterprise as God's punishment for the forced conversion of the children from Catholicism to Protestantism. Although the selection here stops short of Cary's own conversion from Protestantism to Catholicism, her daughter writes from the perspective of that change as the defining event of her mother's spiritual life.
from The Lady Falkland Her Life, by one of Her Daughters
Her mother's name was Elizabeth Symondes. She was their only child. She was christened Elizabeth. She learnt to read very soon and loved it much. When she was but four or five year old they put her to learn French, which she did about five weeks and, not profiting at all, gave it over. After, of herself, without a teacher, whilst she was a child, she learnt French, Spanish, Italian, which she always understood very perfectly. She learnt Latin in the same manner (without being taught) and understood it perfectly when she was young, and translated the Epistles of Seneca out of it into English; after having long discontinued it, she was much more imperfect in it, so as a little afore her death, translating some (intending to have done it all had she lived) of Blosius out of Latin, she was fain to help herself somewhat with the Spanish translation. Hebrew she likewise, about the same time, learnt with very little teaching; but for many year neglecting it, she lost it much; yet not long before her death, she again beginning to use it, could in the Bible understand well, in which she was most perfectly well read. She then learnt also, of a Transylvanian, his language, but never finding any use of it, forgot it entirely. She was skilful and curious in working, ·but· never having been helped by anybody; those that knew her would never have believed she knew how to hold a needle unless they had seen it.
Being once present when she was [about] ten year old, when a poor old woman was brought before her father for a witch, and, being accused for having bewitched two or 3 to death, the witness not being found convincing, her father asked the woman what she said for herself? She falling down before him trembling and weeping confessed all to be true, desiring him to be good to her and she would mend. Then he asking her particularly, did you bewitch such a one to death? she answered yes. He asked her how she did it? One of her accusers, preventing her, said, "Did not you send your familiar in the shape of a black dog, a hare or a [toad?] cat, and he finding him asleep, licked his hand, or breathed on him, or stepped over him, and he presently came home sick and languished away?" She, quaking, begging pardon, acknowledged all, and the same of each particular accusation, with a several manner of doing it. Then the standers-by said, what would they have more than her own confession? But the child, seeing the poor woman in so terrible a fear, and in so simple a manner confess all, thought fear had made her idle, so she whispered her father and desired him to ask her whether she had bewitched to death Mr John Symondes of such a place (her uncle that was one of the standers-by). He did so, to which she said yes, just as she had done to the rest, promising to do so no more if they would have pity on her. He asked how she did it? She told one of her former stories; then (all the company laughing) he asked her what she ailed to say so? told her the man was alive, and stood there. She cried, "Alas, sir, I knew him not, I said so because you asked me." Then he, "Are you no witch then?" [(says he)] "No, God knows," says she, "I know no more what belongs to it than the child newborn." "Nor did you never see the devil?" She answered, "No, God bless me, never in all my life." Then he examined her what she meant to confess all this, if it were false? She answered they had threatened her if she would not confess, and said, if she would, she should have mercy showed herwhich she said with such simplicity that (the witness brought against her being of little force, and her own confession appearing now to be of less) she was easily believed innocent, and [ac]quitted.
She having neither brother nor sister, nor other companion of her age, spent her whole time in reading; to which she gave herself so much that she frequently read all night; so as her mother was fain to forbid her servants to let her have candles, which command they turned to their own profit, and let themselves be hired by her to let her have them, selling them to her at half a crown apiece, so was she bent to reading; and she not having money so free, was to owe it them, and in this fashion was she in debt a hundred pound afore she was twelve year old, which with two hundred more [afore] for the like bargains and promises she paid on her wedding day; this will not seem strange to those that knew her well. When she was twelve year old, her father (who loved much to have her read, and she as much to please him) gave her Calvin's Institutions and bid her read it, against which she made so many objections, and found in him so many contradictions, and with all of them she still went to her father, that he said, "This girl hath a spirit averse from Calvin."
At fifteen year old, her father married her to one Sir Harry Cary (son to Sir Edward Cary of Barkhamsteed in Harfordshire), then Master of the Jewel House to Queen Elizabeth. He married her only for being an heir, for he had no acquaintance with her (she scarce ever having spoke to him) and she was nothing handsome, though then very fair. The first year or more she lived at her own father's; her husband about that time went into Holland, leaving her [there] still with her own friends. He, in the time they had been married, had been for the most part at the court or his father's house, from her, and [so] had heard her speak little, and those letters he had received from her had been indited by others, by her mother's appointment, so he knew her then very little.
Soon after his being gone, his mother must needs have her to her, and, her friends not being able to satisfy the mother-in-law with any excuse, were fain to send her; though her husband had left her with them till his return, knowing his own mother well, and desiring (though he did not care for his wife) to have her be where she should be best content. Her mother-in-law having her, and being one that loved much to be humored, and finding her not to apply herself to it, used her very hardly, so far, as at last, to confine her to her chamber; which seeing she little cared for, but entertained herself with reading, the mother-in-law took away all her books, with command to have no more brought her; then she set herself to make verses. There was only two in the whole house (besides her own servants) that ever came to see her, which they did by stealth: one of her husband's sisters and a gentlewoman that waited on her mother-in-law. (To the first of them, she always, all her life after, showed herself a very true friend in all occasions wheresoever she was able [to]; of the other (being gone from her mother-in-law's service) she never gave over to take care till she died, she [the gentlewoman] having continual recourse to her when she had need, who ever provided her places with her children or friends, and helped her in the meantime.) But her husband returning (who had been taken prisoner in the Low Countries by the Spaniards, and carried prisoner into Spain, where he was kept a year whilst his father was raising his ransom), all this was soon at an end, he being much displeased to see her so used.
In his absence he had received some letters from her, since she came from her mother, which seemed to him to be in a very different style from the former, which he had thought to have been her own. These he liked much, but believed some other did them, till, having examined her about it and found the contrary, he grew better acquainted with her and esteemed her more. From this time she writ many things for her private recreation, on several subjects, and occasions, all in verse (out of which she scarce ever writ anything that was not translations). One of them was after stolen out of that sister-in-law's (her friend's) chamber and printed, but by her own procurement was called in. Of all she then writ, that which was said to be the best was the life of Tamberlaine in verse.
She continued to read much, and when she was about twenty year old, through reading, she grew into much doubt of her religion. The first occasion of it was reading a Protestant book much esteemed, called Hooker's Ecclesiastical Polity. It seemed to her, he left her hanging in the air, for having brought her so far (which she thought he did very reasonably), she saw not how, nor at what, she could stop, till she returned to the church from whence they were come. This was more confirmed in her by a brother of her husband's returning out of Italy, with a good opinion of Catholic religion. His wit, judgment and [company] conversation she was much pleased withal. He was a great reader of the Fathers, especially St Augustine, whom he affirmed to be of the religion of the Church of Rome. He persuaded her to read the Fathers also (what she had read till then having been for the most part poetry and history, except Seneca, and some other such, whose Epistles it is probable she translated afore she left her father's house, because the only copy of it was found by her son in her father's study)which she did upon his persuasion, all that she could meet with in French, Spanish or Italian. It may be she might then read some in Latin, but for many year only in the others.
Her distrust of her religion increased by reading them, so far as that at two several times she refused to go to church for a long while together. The first time she satisfied herself she might continue as she was, having a great mind to do so. The second time, going much to the house of a Protestant bishop, which was frequented by many of the learnedest of their divines (out of the number of whose chaplains, those of the King's were frequently chosen, and some of their greatest bishops), she there grew acquaint[ed] with many of them, making great account of them, and using them with much respect (being ever more inclined to do so to any for their learning and worth, than for their greatness of quality, and she had learnt in the Fathers, and histories of former Christian times to bear a high reverence to the dignity they pretended to). By them she was persuaded she might lawfully remain as she was, she never making question for all that but that to be in the Roman Church were infinitely better and securer. Thus (from the first) she remained about two and twenty year, flattering herself with good intentions. She was in the house of the same bishop divers times present at the examination of such beginners, or receivers, of new opinions, as were by them esteemed heretics, where some (strangers to her), wondering to see her, asked the bishop how he durst trust that young lady to be there? who answered, he would warrant she would never be in danger to be an heretic, so much honor and adherence did she ever render to authority, where she [conceived] imagined it to be, much more where she knew it to be.
She was married seven year without any child; after, had eleven born alive. When she had some children, she and her husband went to keep house by themselves, where she, taking the care of her family, which at first was but little, did seem to show herself capable of what she would apply herself to. She was very careful and diligent in the disposition of the affairs of her house of all sorts; and she herself would work hard, together with her women and her maids, curious pieces of work, teaching them and directing all herself; nor was her care of her children less, to whom she was so much a mother that she nursed them all herself, but only her eldest son (whom her father took from her to live with him from his birth), and she taught 3 or 4 of the eldest. After, having other occasions to divert her, she left that to others, of whose care long experience might make her confident, for she never changed her servants about them, and whilst she was with them she was careful nothing in that kind might be wanting.
Her first care was (whether by herself or others) to have them soon inclined to the knowledge, love, and esteem of all moral virtue; and to have them according to their capacities instructed in the principles of Christianity, not in manner of a catechism (which would have instructed them in the particular Protestant doctrines, of the truth of which she was little satisfied), but in a manner more apt to make an impression in them (than things learnt by rote and not understood), as letting them know, when they loved anything, that they were to love God more than it; that he made it, and them, and all things; they must love him, and honor him, more than their father; he gave them their father, he sent them every good thing, and made it for them; the King was his servant, he made all kings, and gave them their kingdom[s?]. * * *
Being once like to die, whilst she had but two or 3 children, and those very little, that her care of them might not die with her, she writ (directed to her two eldest, a daughter and a son) a letter of some sheets of paper (to be given them when they were come to a more capable age), full of such moral precepts as she judged most proper for them, and such effect had this care of hers in the mind of her eldest daughter (for the forming of whose spirit and her instruction (though she were of a good nature) she had taken extraordinary pains, and ever found her again the most dutiful and best loving of all her children), that being married afore she was thirteen year old, and going then to live in the house of her mother-in-law (in which she yielded a great obedience to her father's will) where she lived till her death (which was between sixteen and seventeen year old, in childbed of her first child), she being exceedingly beloved by her mother-in-law and all her family, her own mother asked her what she had done to gain all their affections in so great a degree? She said, indeed, she knew not anything that she did, unless that she had been careful to observe, as exactly as she could, the rule she had given her, when she took her leave of her at her first going from her: that wheresoever conscience and reason would permit her, she should prefer the will of another before her own.
Neither did she neglect to have those that were of a bigness capable of it (whilst she was with them) learn all those things that might be fit for them. She always thought it a most misbecoming thing in a mother to make herself more her business than her children and, whilst she had care of herself, to neglect them. Her doing was most contrary to this, being excessive in all that concerned their clothes or recreation, and she that never (not in her youth) could take care or delight in her own fineness, could apply herself to have too much care and take pleasure in theirs.
To her husband she bore so much respect that she taught her children, as a duty, to love him better than herself; and, though she saw it was a lesson they could learn without teaching, and that all but her eldest son did it in a very high degree, it never lessened her love or kindness to any of them. He was very absolute, and though she had a strong will, she had learnt to make it obey his. The desire to please him [would] had power to make her do that, that others would have scarce believed possible for her: as taking care of her house in all things (to which she could have no inclination but what his will gave her); the applying herself to use and love work; and, being most fearful of a horse, both before and after, she did (he loving hunting and desiring to have her a good horsewoman) for many year ride so much, and so desperately, as if she had no fear but much delight in it; and so she had, to see him pleased, and did really make herself love it as long as that lasted. But after (as before) she neither had the courage, nor the skill, to sit upon a horse; [and he left to desire it, after her having had a fall from her horse (leaping a hedge and ditch being with child of her fourth child, when she was taken up for dead though both she and her child did well), she being continually after as long as she lived with him either with child or giving suck].
Dressing was all her life a torture to her, yet because he would have it so, she willingly supported it, all the while she lived with him, in her younger days, even to tediousness; but all that ever she could do towards it, was to have those about her that could do it well, and to take order that it should be done, and then endure the trouble; for though she was very careful it should be so, she was not able to attend to it all, nor ever was her mind the least engaged in it, but her women were fain to walk round the room after her (which was her custom) while she was seriously thinking on some other business, and pin on her things and braid her hair; and while she writ or read, curl her hair and dress her head; and it did sufficiently appear how alone for his will she did undergo the trouble by the extraordinary great carelessness she had of herself after he was angry with her, from which time she never went out of plain black, frieze or coarse stuff, or cloth.
Where his interest was concerned, she seemed not able to have any consideration of her own; which amongst other things, she showed in this: a considerable part of her jointure (which upon her marriage had been made sufficiently good) having been reassumed to the crown, to which it had formerly belonged, a greater part of it (being all that remained, but some very small thing) she did on his occasions consent to have mortgaged; which act of hers did so displease her own father that he disinherited her upon it, putting before her, her two eldest (and then only) sons, tying his estate on the eldest and, in case he failed, on the second. She showed herself always no less ready to avoid whatsoever might displease him. Of this all her life she gave many proofs; and after she was a Catholic, when he would neither speak to her nor see her, she forbore things most ordinarily done by all, and which she did much delight in, for hearing from some other that he seemed to dislike it; and where she did but apprehend it would not please him, she would not do the least thing, though on good occasion; so as she seemed to prefer nothing but religion and her duty to God before his will. The rules which she did, in some things she writ (and in her opinions), seem to think fit to be held in this, did displease many as overstrict. She did always much disapprove [a] the practice [with] of satisfying oneself with their conscience being free from fault, not forbearing all that might have the least show, [of unfit] or suspicion, of uncomeliness, or unfitness; what she thought to be required in this she expressed in this motto (which she caused [to be inscribed] in her daughter's wedding ring): be and seem.
In this time she had some occasions of trouble, which afflicted her so much as twice to put her into so deep melancholy [(while she was with child of her 2d and 4th child) that she lost the perfect use of her reason, and was in much danger of her life. She had ground for the beginning of her apprehensions, but she giving full way to them (which were always apt to go as far as she would let them), they arrived so far as to be plain distractedness. It is like she at first gave the more way to it at those times, thinking her husband would then be most sensible of her trouble, knowing he was extraordinary careful of her when she was with child or gave suck, as being a most tenderly loving father.] One of these times for fourteen days together she eat nor drunk nothing in the world, but only a little beer with a toast, yet without touching the toast, so as being great with child and quick, the child left to stir, and she became as flat as if she had not been with child at all. Yet after, coming out of her melancholy, the child and she did well.
From this time she seemed so far to have overcome all sadness that she was scarce ever subject to it on any occasion (but only once), but always looked on the best side of everything, and what good every accident brought with it. Her greatest sign of sadness (after) was sleeping, which she was used to say she could do when she would, and then had most will to when she had occasion to have sad thoughts waking; which she much sought to avoid, and it seemed could (for the most part) do it, when she gave herself to it; and she could well divert others in occasions of trouble, having sometimes with her conversation much lightened the grief of some, suddenly, in that which touched them nearliest. This occasion of her own trouble being past, she did so far pardon the causers of it as to some of them she showed herself a most faithful and constant friend, to others so careful a provider and reliever in their necessities that she was by some (that knew her but afar off, and were not witness of what she had suffered) thought almost guilty of their faults.
She continued the care of her house till, her husband being made Controller of the King's Household, she came to live frequently at his lodgings at court; and her father-in-law dying, their family being increased, she put it into the hands of others. She continued her opinion of religion, and bore a great and high reverence to our Blessed Lady, to whom, being with child of her last daughter (and still a Protestant) she offered up that child, promising if it were a girl it should (in devotion to her) bear her name, and that as much as was in her power, she would endeavor to have it be a nun. Whilst she yet gave suck to the same child, she went into Ireland, with her lord and all her children, except her eldest daughter (who, just before her going, was married into Scotland). Being there, she had much affection to that nation, and was very desirous to have made use of [her] what power she had on any occasion in their behalf, as also in that of any Catholics. She there learnt to read Irish in an Irish Bible; but it being very hard (so as she could scarce find one that could teach it) and few books in it, she quickly lost what she had learnt.
Here chiefly the desire of the benefit and commodity of that nation set her upon a great design. It was to bring up the use of all trades in that country, which is fain to be beholding to others for the smallest commodities. To this end she procured some of each kind to come from those other places where those trades are exercised (as several sorts of linen and woolen weavers, dyers, all sorts of spinners, and knitters, hatters, lace makers, and many other trades) at the very beginning; and for this purpose she took of beggar children (with which that country swarms) more than 8 score prentices, refusing none above seven year old, and taking some less. These were disposed to their several masters and mistresses to learn those trades they were thought most fit for, the least amongst them being set to something, as making points, tags, buttons, or lace, or some other thing. They were parted in their several rooms and houses, where they exercised their trades, many rooms being filled with little boys or girls, sitting all round at work; besides those that were bigger, for trades needing more understanding and strength. She brought it to that pass that they there made broadcloth so fine and good (of Irish wool, and spun and weaved and dyed and dressed there) that her Lord, being Deputy, wore it.
Yet it came to nothing; which she imputed to a judgment of God on her, because the overseers made all those poor children go to church; and she had great losses by fire and water (which she judged extraordinary, others but casual). Her workhouse, with all that was in it, much cloth and much materials, was burnt; her fulling mills carried away; and much of her things spoiled with waterall which when she was a Catholic she took to be the punishment of God for the children's going to church, and that therefore her business did not succeed. But others thought it rather that she was better at contriving than executing, and that too many things were undertaken at the very first, and that she was fain (having little choice) to employ either those that had little skill in the matters they dealt in, or less honesty, and so she was extremely cozened, which she was most easily, though she were not a little suspicious in her nature; but chiefly the ill order she took for paying money in this (as in all other occasions). Having the worst memory, in such things, in the world, and wholly trusting to it (or them she dealt with), and never keeping any account of what she did, she was most subject to pay the same thing often (as she hath had it confessed to her, by some, that they have (in a small matter) made her pay them the same thing five times in five days). Neither would she suffer herself to be undeceived by them that stood by and saw her do it frequently; rather suspecting they said it out of dislike of her designs, and to divert her from them; and the same unwillingness she had to see she was cozened, in all things on which she was set with such violence (as she was on all the things she undertook, which were many), which violence in all occasions made her ever subject to necessities (even when she had most), and made her continually pawn and sell anything she had (though it were a thing she should need (almost) within an hour after) to procure what she had a mind to at the present: the same violence made her subject to make great promises to those that assisted her in those things which, being many, could not always be performed. It made her, too, to acknowledge small things, done at the instants she desired them, so great (and without regarding to whom it was) that, if it chanced to be to such as would claim a requital according to the acknowledgment (and not the worth of the thing), at a greater distance, looking on it with truer eyes, what she had said could not always be stood to.
About these works, after the beginning of them, her lord seemed often displeased with her; yet rather with the manner of ordering it than the thing itself, which she knew not how to mend. It would have been in his power easily to have made her give over; but she conceived what he showed in it was rather not to engage his own credit in the success of it, than that he desired to have her leave it; and in this she after saw herself not deceived; for, some letters of his, to others, came after to her hands, where she saw he highly praised that for which he had often chidden her, and that he affirmed it would have been to the exceeding great benefit of that kingdom, could it have been well prosecuted.
During the English Civil War, some 300 women publicly testified to their visions. Among them one of the most outspoken was Anna Trapnel, whose prophecies (either written by her or transcribed from her testimony) were published in The Cry of a Stone (1654), Strange and Wonderful Newes from White-Hall (1654), Anna Trapnel's Report and Plea (1654), A Legacy for Saints (1654), and A Voice for the King of Saints (1658). Anna first discovered her power of prophecy while listening to a sermon the day after her mother's death. Inspired by visions and by Scripture, Anna was a Fifth Monarchist, belonging to a radical Puritan group who believed that Jesus was about to return to reign on earth. Supporters of the overthrow of Charles I, they turned against Cromwell when he set himself up as Lord Protector in Charles's place. Trapnel's excited spontaneous performancesa mixture of prophecy, trances, visions, and songsdrew large audiences and brought on the wrath of the government. She was charged with witchcraft and sentenced to prison for almost six months. When she was brought to trial, the authorities tried to silence her, but she spoke out, calling on the crowds outside to witness that it was God who spoke through her. In her remarks "To the Reader," she indicates that the civil and religious authorities viewed her behavior as madness and witchcraft. Such charges against her, including that she was "a monster or some ill-shaped creature" rather than "a woman like others that were modest and civil," necessitated her going into print. Her Report and Plea (1654), from which the following excerpt is taken, is an autobiography that contains several different formsthe narrative of events, political argument, and even the drama of her interrogation in court. At the close of her text she triumphantly reports that she had effectively convinced her audience that "this woman is no witch."
from Anna Trapnel's Report and Plea
Then the Lord made his rivers flow, which soon broke down the banks of an ordinary capacity, and extraordinarily mounted my spirits into a praying and singing frame, and so they remained till morning light, as I was told, for I was not capable of that. But when I had done, and was a while silent, I came to speak weakly to those about me, saying, "I must go to bed, for I am very weak"; and the men and women went away, and my friend that tended me, and some other maids, helped me to bed, where I lay till the afternoon, they said, silent. And that time I had a vision of the minister's wife stirring against me; and she was presented to me as one enviously bent against me, calling that falsity which she understood not. And I saw the clergyman and the jurors contriving an indictment against me, and I saw myself stand before them; in a vision I saw this. And I sang with much courage, and told them I feared not them nor their doings, for that I had not deserved such usage.
But while I was singing praises to the Lord for his love to me, the justices sent their constable to fetch me, who came and said he must have me with him. And he pulled, and called me, they said that were by, but I was not capable thereof. They said he was greatly troubled how to have me to his master; they told him he had better obey God than man. And his hand shook, they said, while he was pulling me. Then some went to the justices to tell them I could not come. But they would not be pacified. Some offered to be bound for my appearance next day, if I were in a capacity, but this was refused. They would have me out of my bed, unless some would take their oaths that it would endanger my life to be taken out of my bed, which none could do, without they had loved to take false oaths, like some others in those parts. Then a friend persuaded them to see whether they could put me out of that condition, and told them I was never known to be put out of it; so they came. Justice Launce, now a Parliament-man, was one of them, I was told. These justices that came to fetch me out of my bed, they made a great tumult, them and their followers, in the house, and some came upstairs crying "A witch! A witch!", making a great stir on the stairs. And a poor honest man rebuking such that said so, he was tumbled downstairs and beaten too, by one of the justices' followers. And the justices made a great noise in putting out of my chamber where I lay many of my friends; and they said if my friends would not take me up, they would have some should take me up. One of my friends told them that they must fetch their silk gowns to do it then, for the poor would not do it. And they threatened much, but the Lord overruled them. They caused my eyelids to be pulled up, for they said I held them fast, because I would deceive the people; they spake to this purpose. One of the justices pinched me by the nose, and caused my pillow to be pulled from under my head, and kept pulling me, and calling me; but I heard none of all this stir and bustle. Neither did I hear Mr. Welstead, which I was told called to the rulers, saying, "a whip will fetch her up"; and he stood at the chamber door talking against me, and said, "She speaks nonsense." The women said, "Hearken, for you cannot hear, there is such a noise"; then he listened, and said, "Now she hears me speak, she speaks sense." And this clergyman durst not come till the rulers came, for then, they say, the witches can have no power over them: so that one depends upon another, rulers upon clergy, and clergy upon rulers.
And again, after they had made all the fury appear that the Lord permitted them to vent against me, they then went away, saying, "She will fall in a trance when we shall at any time call for her." The Lord kept me this day from their cruelty, which they had a good mind further to have let out against me. And that witch-trier woman of that town, some would fain have had come with her great pin which she used to thrust into witches to try them, but the Lord my God in whom I trust delivered me from their malice, making good that word to me in the Psalms, "The rage of man shall turn to thy praise, and the remnant of rages thou wilt restrain." Then further, to tell you how the Lord carried me in singing and prayer after they were gone two hours, as I was told, and then I came to myself; and being all alone, I blessed God for that quiet still day that I had. And the gentlewoman of the house coming into the chamber, I said, "Have I lain alone all this day? I have had a sweet day." She replied, and said, did not I hear the justices there, and the uproar that was in my chamber? I said, "No." Then she told me how they dealt by her house, bringing in their followers, and what a noise they made. Then another friend asked me whether I did not hear that stir. I said, "No." They wondered, and so did I when I heard the relation, which is much more than I will write, for I don't take delight to stir in such puddles, it's no pleasant work to me. But that truth engageth me to let the world know what men have acted against the pourings-out of the spirit in a dispensation beyond their understanding; they hearkened not to scripture advice, which would not have any judge that they know not.
After that day's tumult, at night many came to catch at my words. And it was very probable that the rulers sent some to watch for what could be had further against me. And there were two women, that they had got their names, who had promised them to swear against me, and of this I shall further speak when I come to it. But now I am telling of what passed that night mentioned: many people spake much to me, asking me questions, the which the Lord helped me to answer. And my friends kept most part of that night in prayer on my behalf. And many watched what they said in prayer, for there were listeners under the window, which fain would have had something to have informed against them. There was great endeavoring to have found a bill of indictment against Captain Langdon, but they could not; they could not vent their spleen, though they to the utmost desired it, the Lord would not let them have their evil desires herein. For though they in this would have brought him into contempt, yet they endeavored this that so I might want a surety, and then they had what they desired, which was to have cast me into the jail. But to leave that, and to tell you that I had the presence of the Lord with me that night abundantly, and my sleep was sweeter than at other times. My sister Langdon lay with me that night, and in the morning she told me that she could not sleep all night for thinking of my going to the sessions that day. She told me she wondered I could sleep so soundly all night. I told her I never had a sweeter night in my life, and as for my going before the rulers, I was no whit afraid or thoughtful, for I had cast my care upon the Lord, which I was persuaded would speak for me. Therefore I was not troubled nor afraid, for the Lord said to me, "Fear not, be not dismayed, I am thy God, and will stand by thee."
Then I rose up, and prepared to go before them at sessions-house; and walking out in the garden before I went, I was thinking what I should say before the justices. But I was taken off from my own thoughts quickly, through the word, "Take no heed what thou shalt say; being brought before them for the Lord Christ's sake, he will give thee words. Dost thou know what they will ask thee? Therefore look to the Lord, who will give thee answers suitable to what shall be required of thee." So I was resolved to cast myself upon the Lord and his teaching. And though I had heard how the form of bills run, and of that word "Not guilty," according to the form of the bill, yet I said, "I shall not remember to say thus, if the Lord don't bid me say so; and if he bids me, I will say it." And this I thought, I would be nothing, the Lord should have all the praise, it being his due. So I went, the officer coming for me; and as I went along the street, I had followed me abundance of all manner of people, men and women, boys and girls, which crowded after me. And some pulled me by the arms, and stared me in the face, making wry faces at me, and saying, "How do you now? How is it with you now?" And thus they mocked and derided at me as I went to the sessions. But I was never in such a blessed self-denying lamb-like frame of spirit in my life as then; I had such lovely apprehensions of Christ's sufferings, and of that scripture which saith, "He went as a sheep, dumb before the shearers, he opened not his mouth; and when reviled, he reviled not again."3 The Lord kept me also, so that I went silent to the sessions-house, which was much thronged with people: some said the sessions-house was never so filled since it was a sessions-house. So that I was a gazing-stock for all sorts of people, but I praise the Lord, this did not daunt me, nor a great deal more that I suffered that day, for the eternal grace of Jehovah surrounded me, and kept me from harm. So way was made for me to draw near to the table, which stood lower than the justices; and round the table sat the lawyers and others that attended them, and I with my friends that went with me stood by the lawyers, and the justices leaned over a rail, which railed them in together. Only I espied a clergyman at their elbow, who helped to make up their indictment, so that he could not be absent, though his pulpit wanted him, it being a fast-day, set apart by authority, which he broke without any scruple that so he might keep close to the work of accusation. But though he and the witch-trying woman looked steadfastly in my face, it did no way dismay me, nor the grim fierce looks of the justices did not daunt me, for as soon as I beheld them I remembered a dear friend to Christ, who smiled in the face of a great man that looked fiercely on him, and sat as a judge to condemn him for the testimony of Jesus; but this servant of the Lord looked cheerfully all the time of his accusations charged upon him. So I thinking upon that posture of his before those that acted against him, I begged the same cheerfulness, and I had the same courage to look my accusers in the face, which was no carnal boldness, though they called it so.
And when I came before them, Lobb, being the mouth of the court, as he was foreman of the jury he represented the whole court, and he first demanded my name, and I told him. And he said, "Anna Trapnel, here is a bill of indictment to be read, for you to give your answer concerning." Then Justice Lobb said, "Read the bill," so it was read to me; and Lobb said, "Are you guilty, or not?" I had no word to say at the present, but the Lord said to me, "Say 'not guilty,' according to the form of the bill." So I spoke it as from the Lord, who knew I was not guilty of such an indictment. Then said Lobb, "Traverse the bill to the next assizes"; so that was done. Then Lobb said I must enter into bond for my appearance at the next assizes, unto which I agreed. Then they demanded sureties, so I desired Captain Langdon and Major Bawden to be my sureties, unto which they were willing. So there were two recognizances drawn, one for my appearance, and the other bound me to the good behavior; and I was entered into both the recognizances £300, and my sureties as much, to both the recognizances. And this being done, they whispered a while, and I thought they had done with me at that time. So they had, if they had gone according to true law, which was not to have brought their interrogatories then; but the report was that I would discover myself to be a witch when I came before the justices, by having never a word to answer for myself, for it used to be so among the witches, they could not speak before the magistrates, and so they said it would be with me. But the Lord quickly defeated them herein, and caused many to be of another mind. Then Lobb said, "Tender her the book which was written from something said at Whitehall," so the book was reached out to me, and Justice Lobb said, "What say you to that book? Will you own it? Is it yours?"
a. t. "I am not careful to answer you in that matter."
Then they said, "She denies her book." Then they whispered with those behind them. Then spake Justice Lobb again, and said, "Read a vision of the horns out of the book," so that was read. Then Justice Lobb said, "What say you to this? Is this yours?"
a. t. "I am not careful to answer you in that matter, touching the whole book. As I told you before, so I say again. For what was spoken was at Whitehall, at a place of concourse of people, and near a council I suppose wise enough to call me into question if I offended, and unto them I appeal." But though it was said I appealed unto Caesar and unto Caesar should I go, yet I have not been brought before him which is called Caesar; so much by the by. Again, I said I supposed they had not power to question me for that which was spoke in another county; they said yea, that they had. Then the book was put by, and they again whispered.
Then Justice Lobb asked me about my coming into that country, how it came to pass that I came into that country.
I answered I came as others did that were minded to go into the country.
Lobb. "But why did you come into this country?"
a. t. "Why might not I come here, as well as into another country?"
Lobb. "But you have no lands, nor livings, nor acquaintance to come to in this country."
a. t. "What though I had not? I am a single person, and why may I not be with my friends anywhere?"
Lobb. "I understand you are not married."
a. t. "Then having no hindrance, why may not I go where I please, if the Lord so will?"
Then spoke Justice Launce, "But did not some desire you to come down?" And this Lobb asked me too, but I told them I would accuse none, I was there to answer as to what they should charge my own particular with.
Launce said, "Pray, Mistress, tell us what moved you to come such a journey?"
a. t. "The Lord gave me leave to come, asking of him leave, whitherever I went. I used still to pray for his direction in all I do, and so I suppose ought you," I said.
Justice Launce. "But pray tell us, what moved you to come such a journey?"
a. t. "The Lord moved me, and gave me leave."
Launce. "But had you not some extraordinary impulses of spirit that brought you down? Pray tell us what those were."
a. t. "When you are capable of extraordinary impulses of spirit, I will tell you; but I suppose you are not in a capacity now," for I saw how deridingly he spoke. And for answering him thus, he said I was one of a bold spirit, but he soon took me down: so himself said. But some said it took them down, for the Lord carried me so to speak, that they were in a hurry and confusion and sometimes would speak all together, that I was going to say, "What, are you like women, all speakers and no hearers?" But I said thus, "What, do you speak all at a time? I cannot answer all, when speaking at once. I appeal to the civilest of you," and I directed my speech to Justice Lobb, who spake very moderately, and gave me a civil answer, saying, "You are not acquainted with the manner of the court, which is to give in their sayings."
a. t. "But I cannot answer all at once. Indeed I do not know the manner of the court, for I never was before any till now."
Justice Lobb. "You prophesy against Truro."
a. t. "Indeed I pray against the sins of the people of Truro, and for their souls' welfare. Are you angry for that?"
Lobb. "But you must not judge authority, but pray for them, and not speak so suspiciously of them," and more to this purpose he spoke to me.
a. t. "I will take up your word, in which you said I was not to judge. You said well, for so saith the scripture, 'Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? To his own master he standeth or falleth; yea, he shall be holden up, for God is able to make him stand.' But you have judged me, and never heard me speak: you have not dealt so well by me as Agrippa dealt by Paul. Though Agrippa was an heathen, he would have Paul speak before he gave in his judgment concerning him."
Justice Tregagle. "Oh, you are a dreamer!"
a. t. "So they called Joseph, therefore I wonder not that you call me so."
Justice Selye said, "You knew we were with you yesterday."
a. t. "I did not."
Justice Selye. "He which is the major said you will not say so."
a. t. "I will speak it, being it's truth."
He said, "Call the women that will witness they heard you say you knew we were with you." And he pulled out a writing, and named their names, calling to some to fetch them.
a. t. "You may suborn false witnesses against me, for they did so against Christ." And I said, "Produce your witnesses."
Justice Selye. "We shall have them for you at next assizes."
They put it off long enough, because one was fallen in a swoon before she got out of the house where she dwelt; and the other was come into the sessions-house. And Mrs Grose, a gentlewoman of the town, standing by her that was their false witness, said, "Wilt thou take an oath thus? Take heed what thou dost, it's a dangerous thing to take a false oath." And she ran out of the sessions-house; this was credibly reported. And here ended their witnesses that they had procured against me as to that. There was a soldier that smiled to hear how the Lord carried me along in my speech, and Justice Selye called to the jailer to take him away, saying he laughed at the court. He thought him to be one of my friends, and for his cheerful looking the jailer had like to have had him. Then I said, "Scripture speaks of such who 'make a man an offender for a word,' but you make a man an offender for a look." They greatly bustled, as if they would have taken him away; but this was quickly squashed, their heat as to this lasted not long. In the meantime, the other, Selye, was talking to Major Bawden, wondering such a man as he, who had been so well reputed for a judicious, sober, understanding man, should hearken to me; many words were used to him to that purpose. I said, "Why may not he and others try all things, and hold fast that which is best?" But they still cast grim looks on me. And they had a saying to Major Bawden, and to Captain Langdon then, whom they derided in a letter sent from Truro by some of their learned court, which wrote that Captain Langdon and Major Bawden stood up and made a learned defence. They had indeed such learning from the spirit of wisdom and of a sound mind, which the jurors and their companions were not able to contend against, their speech and whole deportment was so humble and self-denying, and so seasoned with the salt of grace, which their flashy unsavory spirits could not endure. Those that are raised from the dunghill and set on thrones cannot sit there without vaunting and showing their fool's coat of many colors, as envy, and pride, and vainglory; these and other colors they show, which delights not King Jesus nor his followers. Justice Lobb told me I made a disturbance in the town. I asked wherein. He said by drawing so many people after me. I said, "How did I draw them?" He said I set open my chamber doors and my windows for people to hear.
a. t. "That's a very unlikely thing, that I should do so, for I prayed the maid to lock my chamber door when I went to bed, and I did not rise in the night sure to open it." I said, "Why may not I pray with many people in the room, as well as your professing woman that prays before men and women, she knowing them to be there; but I know not that there is anybody in the room when I pray. And if you indict one for praying, why not another? Why are you so partial in your doings?"
Justice Lobb. "But you don't pray so, as others."
a. t. "I pray in my chamber."
Justice Trevill. "Your chamber!"
a. t. "Yea, that it's my chamber while I am there, through the pleasure of my friends."
They used more words to me, sometimes slighting and mockingly they spoke, and sometimes seeming to advise me to take heed how I spoke and prayed so again. Many such kind of words Justice Trevill used, and Justice Lobb. And one thing I omitted in telling you when I told you how I answered Justice Launce: I should have told you how I said to him, if he would know what the ordinary impulse of spirit was that I had to bring me into that country, I would tell him. So I related the scriptures, as that in the Psalms, and in the prophet Isaiah, how the presence and spirit of the Lord should be with me, and he would uphold me and strengthen me with the right hand of his righteousness. He answered such impulse was common, they hoped they had that, they were not ignorant of such impulse of spirit; much to this effect was spoken. I seeing they were very willing to be gone, I said, "Have you done with me?" Answer was I might now go away. But I said, "Pray, what is it to break the good behavior you have bound me over to? I know not what you may make a breaking of it: is it a breaking the good behavior to pray and sing?" Justice Trevill said no, so I did it at the habitation where I abode. "It's well," said I, "you will give me leave it shall be anywhere." I said, "I will leave one word with you, and that is this: a time will come when you and I shall appear before the great judge of the tribunal seat of the most high, and then I think you will hardly be able to give an account for this day's work before the Lord, at that day of true judgment." Said Tregagle, "Take you no care for us." So they were willing to have no more discourse with me.
And as I went in the crowd, many strangers were very loving and careful to help me out of the crowd; and the rude multitude said, "Sure this woman is not witch, for she speaks many good words, which the witches could not." And thus the Lord made the rude rabble to justify his appearance. For in all that was said by me, I was nothing, the Lord put all in my mouth, and told me what I should say, and that from the written word, he put it in my memory and mouth; so that I will have nothing ascribed to me, but all honor and praise given to him whose right it is, even to Jehovah, who is the king that lives for ever. I have left out some things that I thought were not so material to be written; and what I have written of this, it's to declare as much as is convenient to take off those falsities and contrary reports that are abroad concerning my sufferings, some making it worse than it was, and some saying it was little or nothing. Now to inform all people's judgments, I have thought it meet to offer this relation to the world's view, and with as much covering as I can of saints' weaknesses herein, praying the Lord to forgive them; and as for the Lord's enemies, that he would confound them; but as for my enemies, I still pray.
Alice Thornton wrote three volumes of an autobiography, spanning the years 1629 to 1660. From a royalist family, she tells in the early part of her story how her mother protected herself and her daughter from Scots soldiers who wanted to be quartered in their home. When one Captain Innis demanded that he have Alice in marriage, her mother hid her and paid another family to house him. The threat of rape in wartime was a real one, and when Alice learned that Captain Innis planned to kidnap her, she never ventured out of the house. The two passages printed here are from the decade after the Civil War, during her married life, in which the dangers she suffered were mainly due to the perils of reproduction. Her perspective is at once religious and biological. Images and allusions from the Bible as well as a belief in salvation color her narrative. At the same time, Mrs. Thornton depicts her physical suffering in the most graphic and realistic detail. Most married women of the early modern period were pregnant during most of their adult lives, and they often died in childbirth, as did their infants. Even if the mother survived labor, her risk of sickness was great. Alice Thornton relates her ordeal following her first two labors and expresses thanks to God for helping her through the sicknesses that followed.
from Book of Remembrances
Meditations upon my deliverance of my first child;
and of the great sickness followed for three quarters of a year;
August 6, 1652, lasted till May 2, 1653
About seven weeks after I married it pleased God to give me the blessing of conception. The first quarter I was exceeding sickly in breeding, till I was with quick child; after which I was very strong and healthy, I bless God, only much hotter than formerly, as is usual in such cases from a natural cause, insomuch that my nose bled much when I was about half gone, by reason of the increase of heat. Being helped more forward in the distemper by the extreme heat of the weather at that time, when the extreme great eclipse of the sun was in its height, and a great and total eclipse fell out this year 1652. At which time I was big with child, and the sight of it much affrighted me, it being so dark in the morning that [one] could not see to eat his breakfast without a candle. But this did amaze me much, and I could not refrain going out into the garden and look on the eclipse in water, discovering the power of God so great to a miracle, who did withdraw His light from our sun so totally that the sky was dark, and stars appeared, and a cold storm for a time did possess the earth. Which dreadful change did put me into most serious and deep consideration of the day of judgment which would come as sudden and as certainly upon all the earth as this eclipse fell out, which caused me to desire and beg of His Majesty that He would prepare me for this great day in repentance, faith, and a holy life, for the judgments of God was just and certain upon all sins and sinners. O prepare me, O God, for all Thy dispensations and trials in this world, and make me ready and prepared with oil in my lamp, as the wise virgins, against the coming of the sweet Bridegroom of my soul.
About a month after, Mr. Thornton desired and his relations that I should go to see them both at Crathorne, Buttercrambe, York, and at Hull and Beverley, at Burn Park where his mother lived then . . . and by God's mercy did I go to all those places where his friends lived, and [was] most kindly received and entertained. I bless God who gave me favor in the eyes of my husband's friends. When I came to Hull, Dr. Witty would have had me advised to be let blood. . . . In my return home by Newton when I saw the old house the remains of it, as I was in the great chamber, the door into a little room was so low as I got a great knock on my forehead which struck me down, and I fell with the force of the blow, at which my husband was troubled. But I recovering my astonishment (because he should not be too much concerned), smiled, said I hoped I was not much worse, but said I had taken possession, which made him smile, and said it was to my hurt, and indeed so it was many ways. For in my going homeward he carried me to that place of the great rocks and cliffs which is called Whitson Cliff. . . . But this my husband would not have had me go down this way, but by Ampleford, about, and plain way, but for Mr. Bradley, who told him it would not do me no hurt, because his wife went down that way and was no worse. However, the effect to me was contrary, for I being to go to my cousin Ascough's, she did admire that I came that way, and wished I might get safe home. It was indeed the good pleasure of my God to bring me safe home to my dear mother's house, Hipswell.
But my dangerous journey the effects of it did soon appear on me, and Dr. Witty's words came true. For as soon as I got home I fell into the most dreadful sickness that ever any creature could possibly be saved out of, and by a strong and putrid fever, which was on me eleven days before Dr. Witty came from Hull, had so putrefied my whole blood that both myself and poor infant was like to go. . . . The more particular description of this great and long-lasting sickness I have related in my first book of my Life, and with the miraculous deliverance was towards me in all that time. Mr. Thornton had a desire that I should visit his friends, in which I freely joined, his mother living about fifty miles from Hipswell, and all at Newton and Buttercrambe. In my passage thither I sweat exceedingly, and was much inclining to be feverish wanting not eight weeks of my time, so that Dr. Witty said that I should go near to fall into a fever, or some desperate sickness, if I did not cool my blood, by taking some away, and if I had stayed but two days longer, I had followed his advice. In his return home from Newton, his own estate, I was carried over Hambleton towards Sir William Ascough's house, where I passed down on foot a very high wall betwixt Hudhill and Whitson Cliff, which is above a mile steep down, and indeed so bad that I could not scarce tread the narrow steps, which was exceeding bad for me in that condition, and sore to endure, the way so straight and none to lead me but my maid [Susan Gosling], which could scarce make shift to get down herself, all our company being gone down before. Each step did very much strain me, being so big with child, nor could I have got down if I had not then been in my full strength and nimble on foot. But, I bless God, I got down safe at last, though much tired, and hot and weary, finding myself not well, but troubled with pains after my walk. Mr. Thornton would not have brought me that way if he had known it so dangerous, and I was a stranger in that place; but he was advised by some to go that way before we came down the hill.
This was the first occasion which brought me a great deal of misery, and killed my sweet infant in my womb. For I continued ill in pain by fits upon this journey, and within a fortnight fell into a desperate fever at Hipswell. Upon which my old doctor, Mr. Mahum, was called, but could do little towards the cure, because of being with child. I was willing to be ordered by him, but said I found it absolutely necessary to be let blood if they would save my life, but I was freely willing to resign my will to God's, if He saw fit for me, to spare my life, yet to live with my husband; but still with subserviency to my Heavenly Father. Nor was I wanting to supplicate my God for direction what to do, either for life or death. I had very often and frequent impressions to desire the latter before the former, finding no true joy in this life, but I confess also that which moved me to use all means for my recovery, in regard of the great sorrow of my dear and aged mother and my dear husband took for me, far exceeding my deserts, made me more willing to save my life for them, and that I might render praises to my God in the land of the living. But truly, I found my heart still did cleave to my Maker that I never found myself more desirous of a change to be delivered from this wicked world and body of sin and death, desiring to be dissolved and to be with Christ. Therefore endured I all the rigors and extremity of my sickness with such a share of patience as my God gave me.
As for my friends, they were so much concerned for me that, upon the importunity of my husband, although I was brought indeed very weak and desperately ill about eleventh day of my sickness, I did let him send for Dr. Witty, if it were not too late. The doctor came post the next day, when he found me very weak, and durst not let me blood that night, but gave me cordials, etc., till the next day, and if I got but one hour's rest that night, he would do it the morning following. That night the two doctors had a dispute about the letting me blood. Mr. Mahum was against it, and Dr. Witty for it; but I soon decided that dispute, and told them, if they would save my life, I must bleed. So the next day I had six or seven ounces taken which was turned very bad by my sickness, but I found a change immediately in my sight, which was exceeding dim before, and then I see as well as ever clearly, and my strength began a little to return; these things I relate that I may set forth the mercy of my ever-gracious God, who had blessed the means in such manner. Who can sufficiently extol his Majesty for his boundless mercies to me his weak creature, for from that time I was better, and he had hopes of my life.
The doctor stayed with me seven days during my sickness; my poor infant within me was greatly forced with violent motions perpetually, till it grew so weak that it had left stirring, and about the 27th of August I found myself in great pains as it were the colic, after which I began to be in travail, and about the next day at night I was delivered of a goodly daughter, who lived not so long as that we could get a minister to baptize it, though we presently sent for one. This my sweet babe and first child departed this life half an hour after its birth, being received, I hope, into the arms of Him that gave it. She was buried that night, being Friday, the 27th of August, 1652, at Easby Church.
The effects of this fever remained by several distempers successively, first, after the miscarriage I fell into a most terrible shaking ague, lasting one quarter of a year, by fits each day twice, in much violency, so that the sweat was great with faintings, being thereby weakened till I could not stand or go. The hair on my head came off, my nails of my fingers and toes came off, my teeth did shake, and ready to come out and grew black. After the ague left me, upon a medicine of London treacle, I fell into the jaundice, which vexed me very hardly one full quarter and a half more. I finding Dr. Witty's judgment true, that it would prove a chronical1 distemper; but blessed be the Lord, upon great and many means used and all remedies, I was at length cured of all distempers and weaknesses, which, from its beginning, had lasted three quarters of a year full out. Thus had I a sad entertainment and beginning of my change of life, the comforts thereof being turned into much discomforts and weaknesses, but still I was upheld by an Almighty Power, therefore will I praise the Lord my God. Amen.
Upon the birth of my second child and daughter,
born at Hipswell on the 3rd of January in the year 1654.
Alice Thornton, my second child, was born at Hipswell near Richmond in Yorkshire the 3rd day of January, 1654, baptized the 5th of the same. Witnesses, my mother the Lady Wandesforde, my uncle Mr. Major Norton, and my cousin York his daughter, at Hipswell, by Mr. Michell Siddall, minister then of Caterick.
It was the pleasure of God to give me but a weak time after my daughter Alice her birth, and she had many preservations from death in the first year, being one night delivered from being overlaid by her nurse, who laid in my dear mother's chamber a good while. One night my mother was writing pretty late, and she heard my dear child make a groaning troublesomely, and stepping immediately to nurse's bedside she saw the nurse fallen asleep, with her breast in the child's mouth, and lying over the child; at which she, being affrighted, pulled the nurse suddenly off from her, and so preserved my dear child from being smothered . * * *
After I was delivered [of her third child, Elizabeth], and in my weary bed and very weak, it fell out that my little daughter Alice, being then newly weaned, and about a year old, being asleep in one cradle and the young infant [Elizabeth] in another, she fell into a most desperate fit, of the convulsions as supposed to be, her breath stopped, grew black in her face, which sore frighted her maid Jane Flouer. She took her up immediately, and with the help of the midwife, Jane Rimer, to open her teeth and to bring her to life again.
But still, afterwards, no sooner that she was out of one fit but fell into another fit, and the remedies could be by my dear mother and aunt Norton could scarce keep her alive, she having at least twenty fits; all friends expecting when she should have died. But I lying the next chamber to her and did hear her, when she came out of them, to give great shrieks and suddenly, that it frighted me extremely, and all the time of this poor child's illness I myself was at death's door by the extreme excess of those, upon the fright and terror came upon me, so great floods that I was spent, and my breath lost, my strength departed from me, and I could not speak for faintings, and dispirited so that my dear mother and aunt and friends did not expect my life, but overcome with sorrow for me. Nor durst they tell me in what a condition my dear Naly [Alice's nickname] was in her fits, lest grief for her, added to my own extremity, with loss of blood, might have extinguished my miserable life: but removing her in her cradle into the Blue Parlor, a great way off me, lest I hearing her sad shrieks should renew my sorrows. These extremities did so lessen my milk, that though I began to recruit strength, yet I must be subject to the changes of my condition. After my dear Naly was in most miraculous mercy restored to me the next day, and recruited my strength; within a fortnight I recovered my milk, and was overjoyed to give my sweet Betty suck, which I did, and began to recover to a miracle, blessed be my great and gracious Lord God, who remembered mercy towards me.
Vicar of an Essex parish, Ralph Josselin kept a diary for forty-two years; it became one of the most substantial diaries of the century. It included an extensive annual accounting of his finances, recorded each March at the start of the church year, followed by three or four entries each week describing events"God's dealings." Financial language pervades Josselin's reckonings of his financial dealings and his spiritual debts alike, as he strives to improve both his material and his spiritual well-being.
Nov: 18: God good to me, and mine in manifold outward mercies, but I find such a vanity in my spirit that boweth down my soul, yet this trouble is my hope for surely there is the spirit stirring against the flesh, but when shall Christ so strengthen me that I shall in his grace be more than a conqueror.
19: We killed a good hog, which proved neat and clean, a mercy to be observed, at night a violent wind and snow which covered the earth die 20.1 so that we gave our cattle meat twice in the day, having begun to give once a day ever since octob. 29.
21. Received in a little wood from Sprigs marsh, its a mercy when God is our own to have any thing to call our own.
Nov: 25. The season somewhat more winterly then formerly. I observe how apt we are to account a harsh time the hardest we ever felt and a mild the best, letting slip out of our mind what was formerly, and very commonly not eying God that giveth both, God good to me in many mercies, a zeal in me in preaching the word, Lord warm their souls in the love, and embracement of the truth as it is in Jesus.
* * *
March. 24: A sad season for wet, yet some sow their oats. God good to me and mine in mercies, Bettie more quiet in nights then formerly. Mr. H. very ill which is a great trouble to me. Lord bear up my heart to thee, that nothing may overset my soul; God good to me in the word, awakening my heart unto him, the Lord stablish me in his fear, prayed earnestly for fair weather, this evening was the most hopeful and clear I have seen of many for which mercy I praise the Lord, but the next morning wet as formerly Lord be not angry with the prayers of thy people.
27. Rid2 to choose Knights of the shire, we lost it, and my heart quiet, the Lord liveth and reigneth and if he put his own servants and things on suffering his will be done. Went on to London. returned safe.
30. with a vain heart, Lord be my help, and stir up my soul to endeavor it.
March. 31. My dear friend Mr R. H. under a visible distraction, the Lord in infinite mercy raise him up again. When I come to view my expenses I find I have laid out 233li. 9s. 6d. ob.3 I have received in all receipts whatsoever only. 146. 16. 0. but my stock which I valued last year at. 25li. is worth now about. 55li. so though I have laid out. 87. 6. 5. ob more then received yet on the whole matter I am not abated in my stock above. 50li. and in lieu of that I am sure I have laid out. above 80li. on the house on the green.
My roll of debts as in the blew book are 80li. about. owing unto me. --- 167. 10. 0
I have in cash towards my building about 50li. and my uncle Shepheard being dead, I have a meadow befalls my wife worth about. 50li. more, which when it cometh into my hand I shall value.
Yet God even in outward things is good to me, Lord make me upright before thee in all my ways, I humbly entreat thee and continue thy kindness to me, and all that fear thy name.
April. 1. 2. 3. I sew oats on lay, and other land. Lord command a blessing for my hope is in thee. went towards London on Mr H. account, a sad providence, oh Lord melt my bowels, accept my praises for my family's health, reason, return to them in favor: die. 6. I came home, God with me in the journey.
Ap: 7. The season very good, springing. God merciful to me in many outward mercies, but sensible I am my heart is out of frame, the Lord sanctify my thoughts, help me to watch over them, the Lord command mercy for me and mine in Christ Jesus, I had but little time for my sermons this day, Lord help me to trust thee but not for any thing to neglect any opportunities
God gave an answer to prayer in the season from March 27. yet, so that men are at work on all hands for their employment.
Son of a butcher, Daniel Defoe was one of the most prolific and influential English journalists and novelists, publishing 566 separate works. His rise to fame was fraught with financial and political crises. A merchant and trader, Defoe speculated in land and overseas ventures, risking such enormous sums of capital that by 1692 he owed his creditors seventeen thousand pounds. After a short stint running a brick and tile factory, Defoe turned to political writing and journalism to pay his debts. His many works included propaganda for William III, and two important essays on the capitalist economy, An Essay Upon Public Credit anda subject he knew all too wellAn Essay upon Loans (1710).
His literary career began at the age of fifty-nine with The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, Mariner of York (1719). This became Part One of a trilogy, followed by The Farther Adventures of Robinson Crusoe (1719) and in 1720 by The Serious Reflections of . . . Robinson Crusoe. The story is about a young man who rebels against his father by sailing the high seas rather than following the "middle life" at home. After a series of adventures, Crusoe becomes a planter in Brazil and finally, en route to Africa to buy slaves, he is shipwrecked on an island off the northeast coast of South America, where he lives alone for twenty-eight years. A fascinating mixture of fiction and fact, Defoe's novel had its immediate source in the popular story of Alexander Selkirk, a Scottish sailor marooned from 1704 to 1709 on an island 300 miles west of Chile, as related in Captain Woodes Rogers's Cruising Voyage Round the World (1712).
Defoe plays with the factual status of his fiction by maintaining in the preface that the story was "a just history of fact," yet later, accused of being a liar, he explained in his Serious Reflections (1720) that the novel was an allegory of his own life. One can find plenty of parallels between Defoe's life and Crusoe's and between the form of the novel and autobiography. In the first-person narrative, Crusoe portrays himself as a self-destructive risk taker"the wilful agent of my own miseries" thanks to a "rash and immoderate desire of rising faster." Commenting on his reckless love of danger is the voice of a sober inward-looking Presbyterian, who attempts to control all this chaos in whatever way he can. Once shipwrecked, Crusoe begins the process of taking stock of himself by reckoning his spiritual credits and debits, by keeping track of time and writing a journal of his experiences. While money is no longer valuable to him"O drug . . . what art thou good for?" he says to the thirty-six pounds he finds in the shipwreckhis assets are expressed in terms of capital, as if they could be reckoned as pluses and minuses in a financial accounting.
from The Life and Strange and Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, of York, Mariner
I now began to consider seriously my condition, and the circumstance I was reduced to, and I drew up the state of my affairs in writing, not so much to leave them to any that were to come after me, for I was like to have but few heirs, as to deliver my thoughts from daily poring upon them, and afflicting my mind; and as my reason began now to master my despondency, I began to comfort my self as well as I could, and to set the good against the evil, that I might have something to distinguish my case from worse, and I stated it very impartially, like debtor and creditor, the comforts I enjoyed, against the miseries I suffered, thus,
Upon the whole, here was an undoubted testimony, that there was scarce any condition in the world so miserable, but there was something negative or something positive to be thankful for in it; and let this stand as a direction from the experience of the most miserable of all conditions in this world, that we may always find in it something to comfort our selves from, and to set in the description of good and evil, on the credit side of the accompt.
Born at Elstow near Bedford in 1628, John Bunyan was descended from a family of small farmers, or yeomen, who had fallen on hard times. His father was forced to become a traveling tinker, a mender of pots and household utensils. As a child, Bunyan learned to read and write at a grammar school. At the age of sixteen he joined the local militia to fight on the parliamentary side in the Civil War. Some time around 1648, Bunyan underwent a crisis of faith. He was plagued with doubts about his faith and fear of damnation. This ordeal ultimately led to his conversion. Bunyan became a Noncomformist preacher and set out to spread the good news of the Bible to others. With the Restoration of Charles II and the Church of England, Bunyan was arrested for preaching. Refusing to conform to the Church of England and to stop his Nonconformist preaching, he spent first twelve years in prison and then another six months. While in prison for this second short stay, Bunyan wrote The Pilgrim's Progress (1678), the great classic of Puritan literature. A dream vision, the allegorical journey of the protagonist Christian begins with his falling asleep in a "den," which is designated in the margin of the text as "the gaol" (jail). Christian is both a kind of everyman and a representative of Bunyan himself. Christian's experiences symbolically relate the crises of Bunyan's lifehis falling into despair, figured as the Slough of Despond, and his temptation by the things of this world, portrayed as Vanity Fair. The most popular book of its time and for long afterward a favorite text of English Protestant missionaries around the world, Pilgrim's Progress presents the myth of life as a war between the forces of good and evil, light and darkness, God and the devil, in a powerful and symbolically complex narrative of spiritual despair, struggle with temptation, longing for salvation, and redemption through dependence on God's grace.