William Evans.

The Friends' library: comprising journals, doctrinal treatieses, & other writings of members of the religious Society of Freinds online

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in his coach, he cried out to him, on which
the governor sent to know what he would
have. John acquainted him with the ques-
tions which had been put to them when they
were racked, and also with their answers, in
which he told him no contradiction or untruth
was found. He aflerward obtained pen and
ink and wrote to him more fully on the sub-
ject, for he strongly suspected, and not without
good ground, that the Inquisitors and priests
had perverted their answers. Conscious of
his evil deeds towards these harmless men,
the Inquisitor got possession of the letter to
the governor and sought to conceal it; but
John having another opportunity of convers-
ing with the governor informed him thereof,
and he directed that the letter should be given
to William Moore to translate for him, which
was done.

Not long af\er this, the Inquisitor informed
them they might go out and work at throwing
earth into a wheelbarrow, by which they could
earn nearly two-pence a day to buy bread —
observing, that the balance of their money
which remained in his hands was but little to
pay for the pains he had been at, and that the
marshal and executioner must have some for
their trouble. Our friends willingly accepted
the offer of work thus made them, both for
the sake of fresh air and exercise, and in the
hope that their sufferings being thus brought
to the notice of the people, might move some

to compassion, and thus prepare the way for
their enlargement. Comorra contained a con-
siderable number of Lutherans and Oalvin-
ists who commiserated their condition, but
who dared not to converse with them or visit
them in the castle. Sometimes the marshal
would not allow them to go out, and at others
he would keep back their wages, and on those
called saints-days, they got no work, so that
their allowance of food would have been small
had not some kindly disposed women, whose
hearts the Lord moved with pity toward them,
supplied their necessities.

During nearly all the time since their ar-
rest, William and John had been kept apart,
which was a great addition to their affliction,
depriving them of that mutual support and
sympathy, which fellow-sufferers in a Chris-
tian cause, derive from the company and con-
verse of each other. They now however ob-
tained permission to be together; and had
fresh evidence that that gracious and merciful
Being, whom they were endeavouring to hon-
our and serve, was watching over and earing
for them.

They both wrote again to the governor, ac-
knowledging his moderation toward them, in
refusing to comply with the cruel desires of
their enemies, and laying their case before
him. The Inquisitor intercepted these letters
also, but the governor coming to the know-
ledge of it, obliged him to give them up, and
their chains were soon afler taken off.

Af\er some time several officers of the go-
vernment came to view the garrison, and Wil-
liam and John were summoned before them.
On their way, the marshal threatened them
with hanging on a new gallows which had
been that day erected ; and at the table sat a
priest who manifested great enmity to them,
saying they had forfeited their lives. William
told him " they thirsted for their blood, and
the officers hearkened to them, but as for him
and his companion they had none but God to
plead for them." The priest put many sophis-
tical arguments to William, evidently designed
to ensnare him ; but some of the others wish-
ing to converse with him, he was enabled to
speak the truth to them with much boldness.

In one of the letters which John Philly
wrote to the governor, afler stating their case
and the hardships they underwent, he made
some allusion to appealing to the higher pow-
er ; and after they had been prisoners about
sixteen weeks, the governor said he should
send them thither accordingly. Iron bolts
were put on their feet, and under a guard of
four soldiers they were conveyed in a wagon
to Vienna, and delivered to Lord Francis, of
Nadasti, privy counsellor and lord chamberlain
to the emperor.

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On the following morning they were brought
before him and several other lords of the em-
pire, by whom they were examined respecting
their religion and other matters; and although
some of them, particularly the secretary, ap-
peared to be affected by their answers, and
none made any objection, yet they passed
sentence that they should be burned, if they
would not embrace the Roman Catholic reli-
gion, their law tolerating only that and the
Lutheran and Calvinistic, and enacting that
whosoever brought any new religion there
should be burned. Under this cruel sentence
John's mind was divinely supported, and he
encouraged his companion, telling him the
power of the Lord would divide their council,
which they were afterwards told was the case,
by an Irish priest who appeared to be kindly
disposed toward them. He was sent to pro-
cure from them a written account of their re-
ligion, which they accordingly drew up in
English and gave to him, and William after-
ward translated it and put it into Nadasti's
hands. Soon after this a priest was sent to
console them, who read to them out of the
catechism and questioned them concerniag the
creed, sacraments, mass, &c., but their threats
and endeavours being alike ineffectual to shake
the constancy of these Friends or induce them
to abandon their religion, they were sent to a
place five miles from Vienna, where they fell
into the power of some priests who were very
cruel to them and their lives were in great
peril. They caused them to be again search-
ed and their books and papers taken away,
and imprisoned them in a small hole where
were some Turks who were ironed and in the

The next day they took them to what they
called their churches and endeavoured to com-
pel them to take off their hats to their images,
and when they could not prevail, they put iron
shackles on their hands, which were so small
that when the lock was forced in, they occa-
sioned such extreme pain that our friends
could not refrain from crying out, at which
they appeared pleased. Then they threatened
to carry into execution the inhuman sentence
which had^been so unjustly pronounced upon
them, and told of several instruments of cru-
elty by which they tortured persons, and that
they could give them a taste of their strong
arguments for converting heretics, such as
putting hot brass or copper plates upon their
breasts, burning them under their arms, &c.
Through the goodness of the Lord who was
their present help and comforter, these con-
stant sufferers were enabled to hold fast the
profession of their faith without wavering, and
to avoid being ensnared by their artifices or
shaken by their threats.

Having nothing but the floor to lie upon, in
the narrow dungeon to which they were con-
fined, William desired one of the priests to
use them more like men or Christians, and
give them some straw to lie on, for they were
worse off than the Turks; but the only reply he
got was, that they considered them worse than
the Turks; — and about the same time they
pressed them very much to take some drink
which they had prepared for them, but sus-
pecting it to be poisoned, they would not par-
take of it, on which one of the priests said in
Latin, " it is suspected."

But though they could procure nothing to
lie upon, yet William says, " Blessed be the
name of the Lord, we slept well in our shackles
upon the besoms in the corner; yes, better than
could be expected, though my wristband pain-
ed me much. The priests and others sought
much to discourage us ; and as I was one day
sitting upon a bench, musing on our situation,
and thinking < Lord help us — what will be the
end of all this — will they have power to mur-
der us here, where few may know of it, there
being no other sects to be witnesses, as there
were at Comorra ;' my mind was turned in-
ward, and on a sudden it was as if I saw a
man clothed in while, sitting on a white horse,
riding in haste toward me, as if to rescue me.
This comforted me, believing it was from the
Lord to encourage me, lest I should be too
much cast down.' On the same day a mes-
sage came from the earl, signifying his dis-
pleasure with the proceedings against us."

Who this earl was, or what ofiice he held
in the government, does not appear from any
of the records respecting these Friends, but.
the probability is, that he was a person ex^^
cising the highest civil authority in the place.
The manner in which he became particularly
interested on behalf of our friends, is a strik-
ing proof, how Divine Providence is often
pleased to raise up instruments, even from
those who seem most unlikely to aid in his
gracious designs on behalf of his servants, and
furnishes additional inducement to trust in the
Lord, even under the most unpropitious and
discouraging circumstances.

Adam Bien, who acted as barber to the
earl, had been educated among the Hortesche
BreUired, and being favoured in his early
years with some degree of Divine illumina-
tion, his understanding was opened to see the
nature of true religion, and the lifelessness
and inefficacy of the formal acts of these
people, against which he bore a testimony.
It would appear, that though he bad not faith-
fully lived up to the views with which he bad
been thus favoured, yet there was still some
remains of his former good feelings — and the
earl having put into his hands some of the

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papers written by our friends and given him
an account of them, his former religious im-
pressions revived, and the Divine witness in
his heart bore testimony that their religion
was the truth.

An earnest desire was now awakened in
his mind to see and converse with these pri-
soners, and through his influence with the
earl, this was readily obtained. Through the
means of their discourse and his interview
with them, he became more fully reached and
convinced of the verity of the doctrines they
held, and he continued throughout the period
of their stay there, their steadfast and useful
friend. He told them that the earl was of the
opinion the priests must have been intoxicated
when they treated them with so much cruelty,
"which was true," says the narrative, for
they were drunk both with rage and wine.

The friendly interference of the earl, and
his reproof of their persecutors, had the ef-
fect to check the torrent of abuse and cruelty
which threatened to bear down and destroy
our friends — the current seemed to change,
and some who had distinguished themselves
by promoting the violent and malicious pro-
ceedings against them, now seemed disposed
to ingratiate themselves with them, and to ob-
literate the remembrance of their past mis-
conduct, by kindness and flattery. The priests
and other officers also, were restrained from
confining them in their narrow dungeon, and
inflicting on them the acts of barbarity which
they had been accustomed to do, which was
no small mortification to them.

There seemed now a reasonable prospect
that they might soon obtain their liberty. At
the request of the ofllicers they had procured
from Friends in Holland, certiflcates of their
character, and also the king's proclamation for
setting their friends at home at liberty, which
produced a favourable eflTect; but a malicious
priest used great exertions to prevent their lib-
eration, by infusing prejudices into the earl's
mind, and endeavouring to give him a bad
opinion of them. Soon aAer this the earl
was taken seriously ill at Vienna, which for
for the present disappointed John and William
in their hopes of liberty.

The temper and spirit infused by the reli-
gion of these ecclesiastics showed itself in va-
rious ways, not to be the product of the wis*
dom which is from above, but of that which
" is earthly, sensual and devilish." An Eng-
lishman from Vienna, who was called a spi-
ritual lord, asked them if they had come to
plant their religion in that country, adding,
"Sects have occasioned much mischief in
England, but now they will be rooted out."
John Philly replied, that the love of God could
erconcilethem; to which the other rejoined by

profanely wishing evil to that love, with other
wicked expressions, very unbecoming the cha-
racter of a Christian professor, and proving
that he was not only carnal but profane.

At another time, a priest called brother
Valentine, came to them and conversed about
the Bible, in the course of which he asserted
that "it had brought many thousands into
hell." Then he read a paper which John had
written to the earl and council, setting forth
that they were Englishmen, and as there was
no discord between England and Austria, be
knew not why an Englishman coming into
any of the emperor's dominions to visit the peo-
ple and spend his money, should be so cruelly
used, &c., to which Valentine replied, that
" they ought to be beheaded, for if that course
had been taken with Luther, there had not been
so many Lutherans and heretics now." He
called Friends the forerunners of antichrist,
and the report got widely circulated that anti-
christ was taken prisoner and was at Nadas-
ti's court. This man's virulent and bitter
spirit, no less than the gross profanity of the
other, discovers a temper far removed from
the benign spirit of the Grospel, which is pure,
peaceable, gentle and easy to be entreated,
full of mercy and of good fruits, and desires
the present happiness and everlasting welfare
of all. They took a very absurd method to
recommend their religion to the minds of the
prisoners, who understood the nature of Chris-
tianity too well not to perceive that a profes-
sion which tolerated such practices, had no
valid claim to that sacred appellation; and
that although ambition, pride and priestcraft
might resort to compulsory methods to carry
their purposes, yet the religion of the Gospd
abhorred them as destructive of its very es-

So effectually had the exemplary conduct
of the prisoners, as well as the truths they
declared, wrought upon the mind of Adam
Bien, that without their knowledge, he had
solicited the earl for liberty to take them to
his house, and keep them there, the winter
being cold and their place of confinement a
guard-house, the doors of which stood op^i
all day and much of the night, — proffering
his own person as security for them if they
should run away. Here is a striking evidence
that a faithful and upright walking in con-
formity with our religious principles, raises in
the minds of beholders a testimony in our be-
half, and inspires them with a confidence and
affection, which nothing else could produce.
But though Adam succeed in obtaining the
earl's consent to the proposed change, our
friends were not willing to add the burden of
their support to the many obligations under
which his kindness already laid them,* but

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chose rather to content themselves where
they were ; yet they got permission to visit at
his house occasionally, and were often re-
freshed together in a sense of the love of God
to their souls, as well as the nearness of af-
fection and Christian fellowship which they
felt for each other, and for their dear friends
at home. At his house they sometimes had
opportunities of preaching the Truth to the
Hortesche Brethren who came there, warning
them of the desolation which would come upon
the unfaithful; a prediction which was fulfilled
even as to the outward, as regarded many of
them, for of nine families or communities,
eight were destroyed, upwards of two hundred
men slain and taken captive, and a large
amount of property was consumed hy fire.

But though the sufferings of our friends
were somewhat ifnitigated, they were not yet
at an end. Both the priests and soldiers, ap-
peared to he afraid of Adam Bien, who stood
over them in his integrity and uprightness,
and whose daily access to, and intimacy with
the earl, gave him many opportunities of in-
fluencing his mind; yet they secretly con-
trived to be vexatious to the Friends, and in va-
rious ways sought to ensnare them and add to
their afflictions. By their treacherous insin-
uations, they seem at length to have obtained
their ends so far as to induce the earl to wink
at a plot, which was laid for separating the
prisoners, and carrying William away by
stealth. Jealous of every thing which was
likely to diminish their importance and author-
ity, or to prejudice their corrupt religion, the
priests probably selected William as their vic-
tim, because he had a knowledge of the Dutch
and Latin languages, and was therefore more
likely to spread a knowledge of the principles
of Friends. In order to accomplish this de-
sign, a person selected for the purpose, came
to William and gave him two glass vessels,
under pretence of getting him to assist in car-
rying some wine, and thus succeeded in draw-
ing him out of the town into the fields. Here
they were met by several sleds, the country
being so deeply covered with snow that wagons
could not travel; — and on their coming up,
the man, who had armed himself with a great
cudgel, compelled William to lay down the
glass vessels and get on one o^ the sleds.
Sensible that some mischief was intended
him, and fearful lest they might wreak their
vengeance upon Adam and John, under pre-
tence that he had run away, William resolved
to try to extricate himself and return to the
city. In this attempt he was defeated ; for a
soldier, whom William knew to be a wicked
and desperate fellow, and who had before
threatened him, having joined his betrayer,
they siezed him by the hair, beat him until

they shed much of his blood and had almost
struck out one of his eyes, then threw him
down in the snow, tied his hands and feet, and
bound him on the sled with his face down to
the hay, and carried him off.

At first he suspected they intended to mur-
der him privately in an adjoining wood, and
afterward when they came near a gallows, he
thought they designed to hang him there, but
they passed by both ; and meeting some peo-
ple in the road, they muffled him in a cloak,
and one of them sat upon him that he might
not be seen. Hearing the noise of their feet
in the snow as they approached, and being
very anxious to convey to Adam Bien and bis
companion some intelligence of the manner of
his being carried away, William called out to
the people and desired them to tell Adam that
he was there, and had been forcibly carried
off— but the soldier beat him severely for it.
When they came to the lodging place, they
put irons on his ancles, and a long iron chain
about his neck, the other end of which they
fastened over a beam. Next morning they
passed through a village where he would glad-
ly have spoken to some one, but they forced
him to lie down until they got through it,
and conveyed him to a cloister. The prior
being absent from home, the monks would not
receive him without his order, and he was
again compelled to lie in irons as he had done
the night before. On the following morning
he was taken to the cloister or castle, and his
conductor gave directions that he should be
blindfolded and put into a deep dungeon, and
have only a little bread and water, and that
none should be permitted to give any intelli-
gence respecting him ; and a Jew being there,
he was forbidden on pain of death to say any
thing of what he had seen. William was ac-
cordingly put into a small hole, to which no
light was admitted, and there they kept him
four days and nights in cold frosty weather, so
that it seemed wonderful he had not perished.

The clandestine manner in which he had
been taken away, and the mysterious secrecy
which his enemies were so anxious to pre-
serve, would naturally lead him to suspect
that their design was either to despatch him
privately, or to bury him alive in a dungeon,
until death should release him, or solitude and
suffering shake his constancy and induce him
to embrace their religion. But through the
merciful interposition, as well as the support-
ing power of Divine Providence, he was pre-
served under all his trials, in unshaken con-
fidence in the rectitude of those religious
principles for which he was so deep a suf-

After twelve days confinement, the prior
returned home and sent for William to appear

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before him. He questioned him concerning
their object in coming into that country, and
on some points of their religion, to all which
he returned such replies as were consistent
with truth and soberness. The prior told
him, what they owned was not enough, — they
must believe the pope was Christ's vicar, and
that he and the priests had power to bind and
loose on earth and in heaven. After they had
reasoned together awhile, the prior sent him
back into confinement, telling him he would
come and talk with him again and bring the
Bible; but he rather seemed to avoid him.
Once however he discoursed with him again,
in the course of which William boldly bore
his testimony against their covetousness, pride,
persecution, and warlike weapons, all which
were contrary to the example of Christ and
his apostles ; and was helped to deliver him-
self so clearly, that the prior aflerward ac-
knowledged he had never before conversed
with any one who gave such answers.

His demeanour being watchful and circum-
spect, consistent with the purity of the reli-
gious principles he avowed, they were the
more anxious to induce him to embrace the
Romish religion, and sent a priest to instruct
and convert him — offering him preferment
and other advantages. But none of these
means succeeding, they then threatened to
cut out his tongue, to flay him alive, or to
burn him if he would not turn. But his con-
stancy was not to be shaken, either by the
hope of gain or the fear of torture and death,
and relying on that God who had preserved
him hitherto, and who, he firmly believed,
would support him to the end, he persisted in
the faithful maintenance of his religious prin-
ciples. In order to try if they could terrify
him into compliance, they put him into a tub-
passed a rope through the ears of it and over
a beam, and said he should be let down into
a well which was more than thirty fathoms
deep. They did not however do this, but
drew him up over the beam and let him fall
out — then raising him up again, they twisted
the rope and let it go, so as to whirl him vio-
lently about. He silently bore their insults
and abuse, appearing to be little moved at
them, which occasioned his perscutors to
marvel, being ignorant of the power of that
grace, which enables its obedient subjects to
rejoice that they are counted worthy to suffer
for the name of Christ Jesus. They then
took him to another place, locked his neck
and feet close together, and spread out his
hands and locked them in that position ; some
asking him if it was painful, and others say-
ing they committed more sin by doing so,
than they got profit.

At another time they put him into a wheel, I

and caused some soldiers to turn it, so that
he might be thrown from side to side, which
might have done him much injury, but be
held fast by the side of it, which prevented
their mischief— yet one of his elbows was
much bruised.

During all this period, Adam Bien oontin-
ued their firm and steady friend, anxious to do
whatever he could for their relief. The earl
insinuated to him that William had run away,
but Adam had too much confidence in the in-
tegrity of his friend to give credit to such a
story. At length, by some means he received
intelligence of the manner and place of Wil-
liam's confinement, on which he wrote him a
letter and sent it by an officer of the castle,
who maliciously refused to let him have it.
He however got sight of it afler awhile, and
learned from it that the plot for his reoioval
was kept so secret, that only three persons
had a knowledge of it, and that his kind and
sympathizing friend Adam, greatly desired an
opportunity to forward to him some necessa-
ries and comforts to render his situation more
tolerable. This he soon found means to do ;
and also gave an order that William should
be furnished with an ample allowance of
bread at his expense.

Soon afler this the earl was seized with an
illness, from which his recovery was doubtful,

Online LibraryWilliam EvansThe Friends' library: comprising journals, doctrinal treatieses, & other writings of members of the religious Society of Freinds → online text (page 103 of 104)