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is that, said he, to your taking, or not taking the oath? Enough, said I, as I conceive, to exempt me from the tender thereof; while I am under this condition. Pray, what is your reason for that ? said he. This, said I; that, if I rightly understand the words of the statute, I am required to say, that I do take this oath free. ly, and without constraint ; which I cannot say, because I am not a free man, but in bonds, and under constraint. Wherefore, I conceive that, if you would tender that oath to me, ye ought first to set me free from my present imprisonment.
But, said the recorder, Will you take the oath if you be set free? Thou shalt see that, said I, when I am set free. Therefore set me free first, and then ask the question.
But, said he again, You know your own mind sure, and can tell now what you would do, if you were at liberty. Yes, replied I, that I can : but I do not hold myself obliged to tell it, until I am at liberty. Therefore set me at liberty, and ye shall soon hear it.
Thus we fenced a good while, till I was both weary of such trifling, and doubted also, lest some of the standers by should suspect I would take it if I was set at liberty. Wherefore, when the recorder put it upon me again, I told him plainly, no; though I thought they ought not to tender it me, till I had been set at li. berty ; yet if I was set at liberty, I could not take that nor any other oath, because my Lord and Master, CHRIST JEsus, had ex
pressly commanded his disciples, not to swear at all.
As his command was enough to me; so this confession of mine was enough to them. Take him away, said they, and away I was taken, and thrust into the Bail-Dock to my other Friends, who had been called before me. And as soon as the rest of our company were called, and had refused to swear, we were all committed to Newgate, and thrust into the common side.
When we came there, we found that side of the prison very full of Friends, who were pri. soners there before; as indeed were, at that time, all the other parts of that prison, and most of the other prisons about the town; and our addition caused a great throng on that side. Not. withstanding which, we were kindly welcomed by our Friends, whom we found there; and entertained by them as well as their condition would admit, until we could get in our own accommodations, and provide for ourselves..
We had the liberty of the hall, which is on the first story over the gate; and which, in the day time, is common to all the prisoners on that side, felons as well as others, to walk in, and to beg out of: and we had also the liberty of some other rooms over that hall, to walk or work in, a-days. But in the night we all lodged in one room, which was large and round, having in the middle of it a great pillar of oaken timber, which bore up the chapel that. is over it.
To this pillar we fastened our hammocks at the one end, and to the opposite wall on the other end, quite round the room, and in three degrees or three stories high, one over the other ; so that they who lay in the upper and middle row of hammocks, were obliged to go to bed first, because they were to climb up to the higher, by getting into the lower. And under the lower rank of hammocks, by the wall-sides, were laid beds upon the floor; in which the sick, and such weak persons as could not get into the hammocks lay. And indeed, though the room was large and pretty airy, yet the breath and steam that came from so many bodies of different ages, conditions and constitutions, packed up so close together, was enough to cause sickness amongst us; and I believe did so. For there were many sick, and some very weak; though we were not long there, yet in that time one of our fellowprisoners, who lay in one of those pallet-beds died.
This caused some bustle in the house. For the body of the deceased being laid out, and put into a coffin, was carried down and set in the room called the lodge; that the coroner might enquire into the cause and manner of his death. And the manner of their doing it, is thus. As soon as the coroner is come, the turnkeys run out into the street under the gate, and seize upon every man that passes by, till they have got enough to make up the coroner's inquest. And so resolute these rude fellows are, that if
any man resists or disputes it with them, they drag him in by main force, not regarding what condition he is of. Nay, I have been told, they will not stick to stop a coach, and pluck the men out of it.
It so happened, that at this time they lighted on an ancient man, a grave citizen, who was trudging through the gate in great haste ; and him they laid hold on, telling him he must come in and serve upon the coroner's inquest. He pleaded hard, begged and besought them to let him go; assuring them he was going on very urgent business, and that the stopping him would be greatly to his prejudice. But they were deaf to all intreaties; and hurried him in, the poor man chafing without remedy.
When they had got their complement, and were shut in together, the rest of them said to this ancient man, Come, father, you are the oldest man among us, you shall be our fore. man. And when the coroner had sworn them on the jury, the coffin was uncovered that they might look upon the body. But the old man, disturbed in his mind at the interruption they had given him, was grown somewhat fretful upon it; said to them, To what purpose do you shew us a dead body here? You would not have us think, sure, that this man died in this room? How then shall we be able to judge how this man came by his death, unless we see the place wherein he died, and wherein he hath been kept prisoner before he died?
How know we, but that the incommodiousness of the place wherein he was kept, may have occasioned his death? Therefore shew us, said he, the place wherein this man died.
This much displeased the keepers; and they began to banter the old man, thinking to have beaten him off it. But he stood up tightly to thern; Come, come, said he, though you have made a fool of me in bringing me in hither, ye shall not find a child of me now I am here. Mistake not yourselves; I understand my place, and your duty; and I require you to conduct me and my brethren, to the place where this man died; refuse it at your peril.
They now wished they had let the old man go about his business, rather than by troubling him have brought this trouble on themselves. But when they saw he persisted in his resolution, and was peremptory, the coroner told them they must go shew him the place.
It was in the evening when they began this work; and by this time it was grown bed-time with us; so that we had taken down our hammocks, which in the day were hung up by the walls, and had made them ready to go into, and were undressing ourselves in readiness to go
into them. When on a sudden we heard a great noise of tongues, and of tramplings of feet, coming up towards us. And by and by one of the the turnkeys opening our door, said, Hold, hold, do not undress yourselves, here is the coroner's inquest coming to see you.