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a less intrepid spirit, or one possessing less presence of mind, not a little apprehensive. His bedroom was darkened to excess in consequence of the shutters of the windows, as well as the curtains being closed ; and thus, while he stood enveloped in darkness, he saw standing before him, by the brightness of the moonlight, a body of men well armed ; and of those who were in the van of the gang, he observed that the faces of a few were blackened. Armed only with the table knife, and with no human aid but a dauntless heart, he took his station by the side of the door, and in a moment after one of the ruffians entered from the parlour into the dark room. Instantly upon advancing, sir John struck him with his weapon. Upon receiving this thrust the marauder retired into the back parlour, crying out with blasphemous expressions that he was killed. Shortly after another advanced, who was received in a similar manner, and he also staggered back into the parlour, crying out that he was wounded. A voice from the outside now gave orders to fire into the dark room, upon which a man stepped forward, having a short gun in his hand. As he stood in the act to fire, sir John had the amazing coolness and presence of mind to look
at his intended murderer, and without betraying any audible emotion that might point out where he was standing, he calmly calculated his own safety from the shot which was preparing for him. He saw that the contents of the piece were likely to pass close to his breast without menacing him with at least any serious wound, and in this state of firm and composed expectation he stood without flinching until the piece was fired, and its contents harmlessly lodged in the wall. It was loaded with a brace of bullets and three slugs. As soon as the robber had fired, sir John made a pass at him with the knife and wounded him in the arm, which in a moment he repeated with similar effect : as the others had done, the man retired, exclaiming that he was wounded. The robbers immediately rushed forward from the parlour into the dark room, and then it was that sir John's mind recognised the deepest sense of danger, not to be oppressed, however, by it, but to surmount it. He did not lose a moment after the ruffians had entered the room, but struck at one of them and wounded him, receiving however a blow on the head, and finding himself grappled with. Sir John and his adversary both fell, and while they
were on the ground, sir John thinking that his thrusts with the knife did not seem to produce the effect which they had done in the beginning of the conflict, examined the point of his weapon with his finger, and found that the blade of it had bent near the point. As he lay struggling on the ground, he endeavoured, but unsuccessfully, to straighten the curvature of the knife; but while one hand was employed in this attempt, he perceived that the grasp of his adversary was losing its constraint and pressure; the limbs of the robber were, in fact, by this time unnerved in death, Sir John found that the man had a sword in his hand, and this he immediately seized and gave several blows with it, his knife being no longer serviceable. At length the robbers finding that so many of their party had been killed or wounded, employed themselves in removing the bodies, and sir John took the opportunity of retiring a little apart from the house, where he remained for a short time. He afterwards ventured to call for assistance, and some of the ruffians were speedily traced and brought to justice. During the whole of the appalling scene, sir John's presence of mind had never forsakep him, and to this quality he largely, under God,
owed his preservation on that memorable night.
Admirable as was the self-possession shown by sir John Purcell, no reference is made to religious principle as having been its source and spring. Scenes, too, of blood, even when it has been shed in self-defence, leave a painful impression on the mind. Some incidents of a more pleasing character come now, however, to be noticed.
Rarely has there been a more striking instance of heroism, calmness, and presence of mind, inspired and sustained by Christian faith, than in the conduct of a peasant's wife in the Peak of Derbyshire, quoted by Howitt on the authority of a minister of the Society of Friends, who was personally acquainted with the facts of the case. It is likewise recorded by Wilson Armistead, in a volume published with the sanction of the same body. We give it in an abridged form.
In one of the thinly peopled dales of the Peak of Derbyshire stood a lone house, far from neighbours, inhabited by a farmer and his wife. Such is, or at least was wont to be, the primitive simplicity of this district, that it was usual for persons to go to bed without
taking any precautions to bolt or bar the doors, in the event of any of the inmates not having come home at the usual hour of retiring to rest. This was frequently the practice with the family in question, especially on marketdays, when the farmer having occasion to go to the nearest town, often did not return until late. One evening, when the husband was absent, the wife, being up stairs, heard some one open the door and enter the house. Supposing it to be her husband she lay awake, expecting him to come up stairs. As the usual time elapsed and he did not come, she rose and went down, when, to her terror and astonishment, she saw a sturdy fellow searching the house for plunder. At the first view of him, as she afterwards said, she felt ready to drop; but being naturally courageous, and of a deeply religious disposition, she soon recovered sufficient self-possession to suppress the cry which was rising to her lips, to walk with apparent firmness to a chair which stood on one side of the fire-place, and seat herself in it. The marauder immediately seated himself in another chair, which stood opposite, and fixed his eyes upon her with a most savage expression. Her courage was almost spent; but