But now the persecution a little ceasing, I was moved to speak to Martha Fisher, and another woman Friend, to go to the King about her liberty. They went in the faith, and in the Lord's power; and He gave them favor with the King, so that he granted a discharge under the broad seal, to clear both her and her estate, after she had been ten years a prisoner, and præmunired; the like whereof was scarce to be heard in England.
I sent down the discharge forthwith by a Friend; by whom also I wrote to her, to inform her how to get it delivered to the justices, and also to acquaint her that it was upon me from the Lord to go beyond sea, to visit the plantations in America; and therefore I desired her to hasten to London, as soon as she could conveniently after she had obtained her liberty, because the ship was then fitting for the voyage.
In the meantime I got to Kingston, and stayed at John Rous's till my wife came up, and then I began to prepare for the voyage. But the yearly meeting being near at hand, I tarried till that was over. Many Friends came up to it from all parts of the nation, and a very large and precious meeting it was; for the Lord's power was over all, and His glorious, everlastingly-renowned Seed of Life was exalted above all.
After this meeting was over, and I had finished my services for the Lord in England, the ship and the Friends that intended to go with me being ready, I went to Gravesend on the 12th of Sixth month, my wife and several Friends accompanying me to the Downs.
We went from Wapping in a barge to the ship, which lay a little below Gravesend, and there we found the Friends that were bound for the voyage with me, who had gone down to the ship the night before. Their names were Thomas Briggs, William Edmundson, John Rous, John Stubbs, Solomon Eccles, James Lancaster, John Cartwright, Robert Widders, George Pattison, John Hull, Elizabeth Hooton, and Elizabeth Miers. The vessel was a yacht, called the Industry; the captain's name Thomas Forster, and the number of passengers about fifty.
I lay that night on board, but most of the Friends at Gravesend. Early next morning the passengers, and those Friends that intended to accompany us to the Downs, being come on board, we took our leave in great tenderness of those that came with us to Gravesend only, and set sail about six in the morning for the Downs.
Having a fair wind, we out-sailed all the ships that were outward-bound, and got thither by evening. Some of us went ashore that night, and lodged at Deal, where, we understood, an officer had orders from the governor to take our names in writing, which he did next morning, though we told him they had been taken at Gravesend.
In the afternoon, the wind serving, I took leave of my wife and other Friends, and went on board. Before we could sail, there being two of the King's frigates riding in the Downs, the captain of one of them sent his press-master on board us, who took three of our seamen. This would certainly have delayed, if not wholly prevented, our voyage, had not the captain of the other frigate, being informed of the leakiness of our vessel, and the length of our voyage, in compassion and much civility, spared us two of his own men.
Before this was over, a custom-house officer came on board to peruse packets and get fees; so that we were kept from sailing till about sunset; during which delay a very considerable number of merchantmen, outward-bound, were several leagues before us.
Being clear, we set sail in the evening, and next morning overtook part of that fleet about the height of Dover. We soon reached the rest, and in a little time left them all behind; for our yacht was counted a very swift sailor. But she was very leaky, so that the seamen and some of the passengers did, for the most part, pump day and night. One day they observed that in two hours' time she sucked in sixteen inches of water in the well.
When we had been about three weeks at sea, one afternoon we spied a vessel about four leagues astern of us. Our master said it was a Sallee man-of-war, that seemed to give us chase. He said, "Come, let us go to supper, and when it grows dark we shall lose him." This he spoke to please and pacify the passengers, some of whom began to be very apprehensive of the danger. But Friends were well satisfied in themselves, having faith in God, and no fear upon their spirits.
When the sun was gone down, I saw out of my cabin the ship making towards us. When it grew dark, we altered our course to miss her; but she altered also, and gained upon us.
At night the master and others came into my cabin, and asked me what they should do. I told them I was no mariner; and I asked them what they thought was best to do. They said there were but two ways, either to outrun him, or to tack about, and hold the same course we were going before. I told them that if he were a thief, they might be sure he would tack about too; and as for outrunning him, it was to no purpose to talk of that, for they saw he sailed faster than we. They asked me again what they should do, "for," they said, "if the mariners had taken Paul's counsel, they had not come to the damage they did." I answered that it was a trial of faith, and therefore the Lord was to be waited on for counsel.
So, retiring in spirit, the Lord showed me that His life and power were placed between us and the ship that pursued us. I told this to the master and the rest, and that the best way was to tack about and steer our right course. I desired them also to put out all their candles but the one they steered by, and to speak to all the passengers to be still and quiet.
About eleven at night the watch called and said they were just upon us. This disquieted some of the passengers. I sat up in my cabin, and, looking through the port-hole, the moon being not quite down, I saw them very near us. I was getting up to go out of the cabin; but remembering the word of the Lord, that His life and power were placed between us and them, I lay down again.
The master and some of the seamen came again, and asked me if they might not steer such a point. I told them they might do as they would.
By this time the moon was quite down. A fresh gale arose, and the Lord hid us from them; we sailed briskly on and saw them no more.
The next day, being the first day of the week, we had a public meeting in the ship, as we usually had on that day throughout the voyage, and the Lord's presence was greatly among us. I desired the people to remember the mercies of the Lord, who had delivered them; for they might have been all in the Turks' hands by that time, had not the Lord's hand saved them.
About a week after, the master and some of the seamen endeavored to persuade the passengers that it was not a Turkish pirate that had chased us, but a merchantman going to the Canaries. When I heard of it I asked them, "Why then did you speak so to me? Why did you trouble the passengers? and why did you tack about from him and alter your course?" I told them they should take heed of slighting the mercies of God.
Afterwards, while we were at Barbados, there came in a merchant from Sallee, and told the people that one of the Sallee men-of-war saw a monstrous yacht at sea, the greatest that ever he saw, and had her in chase, and was just upon her, but that there was a spirit in her that he could not take. This confirmed us in the belief that it was a Sallee-man we saw make after us, and that it was the Lord that delivered us out of his hands.
The third of the Eighth month, early in the morning, we discovered the island of Barbados; but it was between nine and ten at night ere we came to anchor in Carlisle bay.
We got on shore as soon as we could, and I with some others walked to the house of a Friend, a merchant, whose name was Richard Forstall, above a quarter of a mile from the bridge. But being very ill and weak, I was so tired, that I was in a manner spent by the time I got thither. There I abode very ill several days, and though they several times gave me things to make me sweat, they could not effect it. What they gave me did rather parch and dry up my body, and made me probably worse than otherwise I might have been.
Thus I continued about three weeks after I landed, having much pain in my bones, joints, and whole body, so that I could hardly get any rest; yet I was pretty cheery, and my spirit kept above it all. Neither did my illness take me off from the service of Truth; but both while I was at sea, and after I came to Barbados, before I was able to travel about, I gave forth several papers (having a Friend to write for me), some of which I sent by the first conveyance for England to be printed.
Soon after I came into the island, I was informed of a remarkable passage, wherein the justice of God did eminently appear. It was thus. There was a young man of Barbados whose name was John Drakes, a person of some note in the world's account, but a common swearer and a bad man, who, when he was in London, had a mind to marry a Friend's daughter, left by her mother very young, with a considerable portion, to the care and government of several Friends, whereof I was one. He made application to me that he might have my consent to marry this young maid.
I told him I was one of her overseers, appointed by her mother, who was a widow, to take care of her; that if her mother had intended her for a match to any man of another profession, she would have disposed her accordingly; but she committed her to us, that she might be trained up in the fear of the Lord; and therefore I should betray the trust reposed in me if I should consent that he, who was out of the fear of God, should marry her; and this I would not do.
When he saw that he could not obtain his desire, he returned to Barbados with great offense of mind against me, but without a just cause. Afterwards, when he heard I was coming to Barbados, he swore desperately, and threatened that if he could possibly procure it, he would have me burned to death when I came there. A Friend hearing of this, asked him what I had done to him that he was so violent against me. He would not answer, but said again, "I'll have him burned." Whereupon the Friend replied, "Do not march on too furiously, lest thou come too soon to thy journey's end."
About ten days after he was struck with a violent, burning fever, of which he died; by which his body was so scorched that the people said it was as black as a coal; and three days before I landed his body was laid in the dust. This was taken notice of as a sad example.
While I continued so weak that I could not go abroad to meetings, the other Friends that came over with me bestirred themselves in the Lord's work. The next day but one after we came on shore, they had a great meeting at the Bridge, and after that several meetings in different parts of the island; which alarmed the people of all sorts, so that many came to our meetings, and some of the highest rank. For they had got my name, understanding I was come upon the island, and expected to see me, not knowing I was unable to go abroad.
And indeed my weakness continued the longer on me, because my spirit was much pressed down at the first with the filth and dirt, and with the unrighteousness of the people, which lay as an heavy weight and load upon me. But after I had been above a month upon the island my spirit became somewhat easier; I began to recover my health and strength, and to get abroad among Friends.
After I was able to go about, and had been a little amongst Friends, I went to visit the Governor, Lewis Morice, Thomas Rous, and some other Friends being with me. He received us very civilly, and treated us very kindly, making us dine with him, and keeping us the greater part of the day before he let us go away.
The same week I went to Bridgetown. There was to be a general meeting of Friends that week; and the visit I had made to the Governor, and the kind reception I had with him, being generally known to the officers, civil and military, many came to this meeting from most parts of the island, and those not of the meanest rank; several being judges or justices, colonels or captains; so that a very great meeting we had, both of Friends and others.
The Lord's blessed power was plentifully with us; and although I was somewhat straitened for time, three other Friends having spoken before me, yet the Lord opened things through me to the general and great satisfaction of them that were present. Colonel Lewis Morice came to this meeting, and with him a neighbor of his, a judge in the country, whose name was Ralph Fretwell, who was very well satisfied, and received the Truth.
Paul Gwin, a jangling Baptist, came into the meeting, and asked me how I spelt Cain, and whether I had the same spirit as the apostles had. I told him, "Yes." And he bade the judge take notice of it.
I told him, "He that hath not a measure of the same Holy Ghost as the apostles had, is possessed with an unclean spirit." And then he went his way.
We had many great and precious meetings, both for worship and for the affairs of the Church; to the former of which many of other societies came. At one of these meetings Colonel Lyne, a sober person, was so well satisfied with what I declared that he said, "Now I can gainsay such as I have heard speak evil of you; who say, you do not own Christ, nor that He died; whereas I perceive you exalt Christ in all His offices beyond what I have ever heard before."
As I had been to visit the Governor as soon as I was well able, after I came thither, so, when I was at Thomas Rous's, the Governor came to see me, carrying himself very courteously.
Having been three months or more in Barbados, and having visited Friends, thoroughly settled meetings, and dispatched the service for which the Lord brought me thither, I felt my spirit clear of that island, and found drawings to Jamaica. When I had communicated this to Friends, I acquainted the Governor also, and diverse of his council, that I intended shortly to leave the island, and go to Jamaica. This I did that, as my coming thither was open and public, so my departure also might be. Before I left the island I wrote the following letter to my wife, that she might understand both how it was with me, and how I proceeded in my travels: --
"MY DEAR HEART,
"To whom is my love, and to all the children, in the Seed of life that changeth not, but is over all; blessed be the Lord forever. I have undergone great sufferings in my body and spirit, beyond words; but the God of heaven be praised, His Truth is over all. I am now well; and, if the Lord permit, within a few days I pass from Barbados towards Jamaica; and I think to stay but little there. I desire that ye may be all kept free in the Seed of Life, out of all cumbrances. Friends are generally well. Remember me to Friends that inquire after me. So no more, but my love in the Seed and Life that changeth not.
"Barbados, 6th of 11th Month, 1671."
I set sail from Barbados to Jamaica on the 8th of the Eleventh month, 1671; Robert Widders, William Edmundson, Solomon Eccles and Elizabeth Hooton going with me. Thomas Briggs and John Stubbs remained in Barbados, with whom were John Rous and William Bailey.
We had a quick and easy passage to Jamaica, where we met again with our Friends James Lancaster, John Cartwright, and George Pattison, who had been laboring there in the service of Truth; into which we forthwith entered with them, traveling up and down through the island, which is large; and a brave country it is, though the people are, many of them, debauched and wicked.
We had much service. There was a great convincement, and many received the Truth, some of whom were people of account in the world. We had many meetings there, which were large, and very quiet. The people were civil to us, so that not a mouth was opened against us. I was twice with the Governor, and some other magistrates, who all carried themselves kindly towards me.
About a week after we landed in Jamaica, Elizabeth Hooton, a woman of great age, who had traveled much in Truth's service, and suffered much for it, departed this life. She was well the day before she died, and departed in peace, like a lamb, bearing testimony to Truth at her departure.
When we had been about seven weeks in Jamaica, had brought Friends into pretty good order, and settled several meetings amongst them, we left Solomon Eccles there; the rest of us embarked for Maryland, leaving Friends and Truth prosperous in Jamaica, the Lord's power being over all, and His blessed Seed reigning.
Before I left Jamaica I wrote another letter to my wife, as follows:
"MY DEAR HEART,
"To whom is my love, and to the children, in that which changeth not, but is over all; and to all Friends in those parts. I have been in Jamaica about five weeks. Friends here are generally well, and there is a convincement: but things would be too large to write of. Sufferings in every place attend me; but the blessed Seed is over all; the great Lord be praised, who is Lord of sea and land, and of all things therein. We intend to pass from hence about the beginning of next month, towards Maryland, if the Lord please. Dwell all of you in the Seed of God; in His Truth I rest in love to you all.
"Jamaica, 23d of 12th Month, 1671."
We went on board on the 8th of First month, 1671-2, and, having contrary winds, were a full week sailing forwards and backwards before we could get out of sight of Jamaica.
A difficult voyage this proved, and dangerous, especially in passing through the Gulf of Florida, where we met with many trials by winds and storms.
But the great God, who is Lord of the sea and land, and who rideth upon the wings of the wind, did by His power preserve us through many and great dangers, when by extreme stress of weather our vessel was many times likely to be upset, and much of her tackling broken. And indeed we were sensible that the Lord was a God at hand, and that His ear was open to the supplications of His people.
For when the winds were so strong and boisterous, and the storms and tempests so great that the sailors knew not what to do, but let the ship go which way she would, then did we pray unto the Lord, who graciously heard us, calmed the winds and the seas, gave us seasonable weather, and made us to rejoice in His salvation. Blessed and praised be the holy name of the Lord, whose power hath dominion over all, whom the winds and the seas obey.
We were between six and seven weeks in this passage from Jamaica to Maryland. Some days before we came to land, after we had entered the bay of Patuxent River, a great storm arose, which cast a boat upon us for shelter, in which were several people of account in the world. We took them in; but the boat was lost, with five hundred pounds' worth of goods in it, as they said. They continued on board several days, not having any means to get off; and we had a very good meeting with them in the ship.
But provisions grew short, for they brought none in with them; and ours, by reason of the length of our voyage, were well-nigh spent when they came to us; so that with their living with us too, we had now little or none left. Whereupon George Pattison took a boat, and ventured his life to get to shore; the hazard was so great that all but Friends concluded he would be cast away. Yet it pleased the Lord to bring him safe to land, and in a short time after the Friends of the place came to fetch us to land also, in a seasonable time, for our provisions were quite spent.
We partook also of another great deliverance in this voyage, through the good providence of the Lord, which we came to understand afterwards. For when we were determined to come from Jamaica, we had our choice of two vessels, that were both bound for the same coast. One of these was a frigate, the other a yacht. The master of the frigate, we thought, asked unreasonably for our passage, which made us agree with the master of the yacht, who offered to carry us ten shillings a-piece cheaper than the other.
We went on board the yacht, and the frigate came out together with us, intending to be consorts during the voyage. For several days we sailed together; but, with calms and contrary winds, we were soon separated. After that the frigate, losing her way, fell among the Spaniards, by whom she was taken and plundered, and the master and mate made prisoners. Afterwards, being retaken by the English, she was sent home to her owners in Virginia. When we came to understand this we saw and admired the providence of God, who preserved us out of our enemies' hands; and he that was covetous fell among the covetous.
Here we found John Burnyeat, intending shortly to sail for England; but on our arrival he altered his purpose, and joined us in the Lord's service. He had appointed a general meeting for all the Friends in the province of Maryland, that he might see them together, and take his leave of them before he departed out of the country. It was so ordered by the good providence of God that we landed just in time to reach that meeting, by which means we had a very seasonable opportunity of taking the Friends of the province together.
A very large meeting this was, and it held four days, to which, besides Friends, came many other people, several of whom were of considerable quality in the world's account. There were five or six justices of the peace, the speaker of their assembly, one of their council, and others of note, who seemed well satisfied with the meeting. After the public meetings were over, the men's and women's meetings began, wherein I opened to Friends the service thereof, to their great satisfaction.
After this we went to the Cliffs, where another general meeting was appointed. We went some of the way by land, the rest by water, and, a storm arising, our boat was run aground, in danger of being beaten to pieces, and the water came in upon us. I was in a great sweat, having come very hot out of a meeting before, and now was wet with the water besides; yet, having faith in the divine power, I was preserved from taking hurt, blessed be the Lord!
To this meeting came many who received the Truth with reverence. We had also a men's meeting and a women's meeting. Most of the backsliders came in again; and several meetings were established for taking care of the affairs of the Church.
After these two general meetings, we parted company, dividing ourselves unto several coasts, for the service of Truth. James Lancaster and John Cartwright went by sea for New England; William Edmundson and three Friends more sailed for Virginia, where things were much out of order; John Burnyeat, Robert Widders, George Pattison, and I, with several Friends of the province, went over by boat to the Eastern Shore, and had a meeting there on the First-day.
There many people received the Truth with gladness, and Friends were greatly refreshed. A very large and heavenly meeting it was. Several persons of quality in that country were at it, two of whom were justices of the peace. It was upon me from the Lord to send to the Indian emperor and his kings to come to that meeting. The emperor came and was at the meeting. His kings, lying further off, could not reach the place in time. Yet they came soon after, with their cockarooses.
I had in the evening two good opportunities with them; they heard the Word of the Lord willingly and confessed to it. What I spoke to them I desired them to speak to their people, and to let them know that God was raising up His tabernacle of witness in their wilderness-country, and was setting up His standard and glorious ensign of righteousness. They carried themselves very courteously and lovingly, and inquired where the next meeting would be, saving that they would come to it. Yet they said they had had a great debate with their council about their coming, before they came.
The next day we began our journey by land to New England; a tedious journey through the woods and wilderness, over bogs and great rivers.
We took horse at the head of Tredhaven creek, and traveled through the woods till we came a little above the head of Miles river, by which we passed, and rode to the head of Wye river, and so to the head of Chester river, where, making a fire, we took up our lodging in the woods. Next morning we traveled the woods till we came to Sassafras river, which we went over in canoes, causing our horses to swim beside us.
Then we rode to Bohemia river, where, in like manner swimming our horses, we ourselves went over in canoes. We rested a little at a plantation by the way, but not long, for we had thirty miles to ride that afternoon if we would reach a town, which we were willing to do, and therefore rode hard for it. I, with some others, whose horses were strong, got to the town that night, exceedingly tired, and wet to the skin; but George Pattison and Robert Widders, being weaker-horsed, were obliged to lie in the woods that night also.
The town we went to was a Dutch town, called New Castle, whither Robert Widders and George Pattison came to us next morning.
We departed thence, and got over the river Delaware, not without great danger of some of our lives. When we were over we were troubled to procure guides, which were hard to get, and very chargeable. Then had we that wilderness country, since called West Jersey, to pass through, not then inhabited by English; so that we sometimes traveled a whole day together without seeing man or woman, house or dwelling-place. Sometimes we lay in the woods by a fire, and sometimes in the Indians' wigwams or houses.
We came one night to an Indian town, and lay at the house of the king, who was a very pretty man. Both he and his wife received us very lovingly, and his attendants (such as they were) were very respectful to us. They gave us mats to lie on; but provision was very short with them, they having caught but little that day. At another Indian town where we stayed the king came to us, and he could speak some English. I spoke to him much, and also to his people; and they were very loving to us.
At length we came to Middletown, an English plantation in East Jersey, and there we found some Friends; but we could not stay to have a meeting at that time, being earnestly pressed in our spirits to get to the half-year's meeting of Friends at Oyster Bay, in Long Island, which was very near at hand.
We went with a Friend, Richard Hartshorn, brother of Hugh Hartshorn, the upholsterer, in London, who received us gladly at his house, where we refreshed ourselves; and then he carried us and our horses in his own boat over a great water, which occupied most part of the day getting over, and set us upon Long Island. We got that evening to Friends at Gravesend, with whom we tarried that night, and next day got to Flushing, and the day following reached Oyster Bay; several Friends of Gravesend and Flushing accompanied us.
The half-year's meeting began next day, which was the first day of the week, and lasted four days. The first and second days we had public meetings for worship, to which people of all sorts came; on the third day were the men's and women's meetings, wherein the affairs of the Church were taken care of. Here we met with some bad spirits, who had run out from Truth into prejudice, contention, and opposition to the order of Truth, and to Friends therein.
These had been very troublesome to Friends in their meetings there and thereabouts formerly, and likely would have been so now; but I would not suffer the service of our men's and women's meetings to be interrupted and hindered by their cavils. I let them know that if they had anything to object against the order of Truth which we were in, we would give them a meeting another day on purpose. And indeed I labored the more, and traveled the harder to get to this meeting, where it was expected many of these contentious people would be; because I understood they had reflected much upon me, when I was far from them.
The men's and women's meetings being over, on the fourth day we had a meeting with these discontented people, to which as many of them as chose came, and as many Friends as desired were present also; and the Lord's power broke forth gloriously to the confounding of the gainsayers. Then some of those that had been chief in the mischievous work of contention and opposition against the Truth began to fawn upon me, and to cast the blame upon others; but the deceitful spirit was judged down and condemned, and the glorious Truth of God was exalted and set over all; and they were all brought down and bowed under. Which was of great service to Truth, and to the satisfaction and comfort of Friends; glory to the Lord for ever!
After Friends were gone to their several habitations, we stayed some days upon the island; had meetings in several parts thereof, and good service for the Lord. When we were clear of the island, we returned to Oyster Bay, waiting for a wind to carry us to Rhode Island, which was computed to be about two hundred miles. As soon as the wind served, we set sail. We arrived there on the thirtieth day of the Third month, and were gladly received by Friends. We went to the house of Nicholas Easton, who at that time was governor of the island; where we rested, being very weary with traveling.
On First-day following we had a large meeting, to which came the deputy-governor and several justices, who were mightily affected with the Truth. The week following, the Yearly Meeting for all the Friends of New England and the other colonies adjacent, was held in this island; to which, besides very many Friends who lived in those parts, came John Stubbs from Barbados, and James Lancaster and John Cartwright from another way.
This meeting lasted six days, the first four days being general public meetings for worship, to which abundance of other people came. For they having no priest in the island, and so no restriction to any particular way of worship; and both the governor and deputy-governor, with several justices of the peace, daily frequenting the meetings; this so encouraged the people that they flocked in from all parts of the island. Very good service we had amongst them, and Truth had good reception.
I have rarely observed a people, in the state wherein they stood, to hear with more attention, diligence, and affection, than generally they did, during the four days; which was also taken notice of by other Friends.
These public meetings over, the men's meeting began, which was large, precious, and weighty. The day following was the women's meeting, which also was large and very solemn.
These two meetings being for ordering the affairs of the Church, many weighty things were opened, and communicated to them, by way of advice, information, and instruction in the services relating thereunto; that all might be kept clean, sweet and savory amongst them. In these, several men's and women's meetings for other parts were agreed and settled, to take care of the poor, and other affairs of the Church, and to see that all who profess Truth walk according to the glorious gospel of God.
When this great general meeting was ended, it was somewhat hard for Friends to part; for the glorious power of the Lord, which was over all, and His Blessed Truth and life flowing amongst them, had so knit and united them together, that they spent two days in taking leave one of another, and of the Friends of the island; and then, being mightily filled with the presence and power of the Lord, they went away with joyful hearts to their several habitations, in the several colonies where they lived.
When Friends had taken their leave one of another, we, who traveled amongst them, dispersed ourselves into our several services, as the Lord ordered us. John Burnyeat, John Cartwright, and George Pattison went into the eastern parts of New England, in company with the Friends that came from thence, to visit the particular meetings there; whom John Stubbs and James Lancaster intended to follow awhile after, in the same service; but they were not yet clear of this island. Robert Kidders and I stayed longer upon this island; finding service still here for the Lord, through the great openness and the daily coming in of fresh people from other colonies, for some time after the general meeting; so that we had many large and serviceable meetings amongst them.
During this time, a marriage was celebrated amongst Friends in this island, and we were present. It was at the house of a Friend who had formerly been governor of the island: and there were present three justices of the peace, with many others not in profession with us. Friends said they had never seen such a solemn assembly on such an occasion, or so weighty a marriage and so comely an order. Thus Truth was set over all. This might serve for an example to others; for there were some present from many other places.
After this I had a great travail in spirit concerning the Ranters in those parts, who had been rude at a meeting at which I was not present. Wherefore I appointed a meeting amongst them, believing the Lord would give me power over them; which He did, to His praise and glory; blessed be His name for ever! There were at this meeting many Friends, and diverse other people; some of whom were justices of the peace, and officers, who were generally well affected with the Truth. One, who had been a justice twenty years, was convinced, spoke highly of the Truth, and more highly of me than is fit for me to mention or take notice of.
Then we had a meeting at Providence, which was very large, consisting of many sorts of people. I had a great travail upon my spirit, that it might be preserved quiet, and that Truth might be brought over the people, might gain entrance, and have a place in them; for they were generally above the priest in high notions; and some of them came on purpose to dispute. But the Lord, whom we waited upon, was with us, and His power went over them all; and His blessed Seed was exalted and set above all. The disputers were silent, and the meeting was quiet and ended well; praised be the Lord! The people went away mightily satisfied, much desiring another meeting.
This place (called Providence) was about thirty miles from Rhode Island; and we went to it by water. The Governor of Rhode Island, and many others, went with me thither; and we had the meeting in a great barn, which was thronged with people, so that I was exceedingly hot, and in a great sweat; but all was well; the glorious power of the Lord shone over all; glory to the great God for ever!
After this we went to Narragansett, about twenty miles from Rhode Island; and the Governor went with us. We had a meeting at a justice's house, where Friends had never had any before. It was very large, for the country generally came in; and people came also from Connecticut, and other parts round about, amongst whom were four justices of the peace. Most of these people had never heard Friends before; but they were mightily affected with the meeting, and a great desire there is after the Truth amongst them; so that our meeting was of very good service, blessed be the Lord for ever!
The justice at whose house the meeting was, and another justice of that country, invited me to come again; but I was then clear of those parts, and going towards Shelter Island. But John Burnyeat and John Cartwright, being come out of New England into Rhode Island, before I was gone, I laid this place before them; and they felt drawings thither, and went to visit them.
At another place, I heard some of the magistrates say among themselves that if they had money enough, they would hire me to be their minister. This was where they did not well understand us, and our principles; but when I heard of it, I said, "It is time for me to be gone; for if their eye were so much on me, or on any of us, they would not come to their own Teacher." For this thing (hiring ministers) had spoiled many, by hindering them from improving their own talents; whereas our labor is to bring every one to his own Teacher in himself.
I went thence towards Shelter Island, having with me Robert Widders, James Lancaster, George Pattison, and John Jay, a planter of Barbados.
We went in a sloop; and passing by Point Juda and Block Island, we came to Fisher's Island, where at night we went on shore; but were not able to stay for the mosquitoes which abound there, and are very troublesome. Therefore we went into our sloop again, put off for the shore, and cast anchor; and so lay in our sloop that night.
Next day we went into the Sound, but finding our sloop was not able to live in that water, we returned again, and came to anchor before Fisher's Island, where we lay in our sloop that night also. There fell abundance of rain, and our sloop being open, we were exceedingly wet.
Next day we passed over the waters called the Two Horse Races, and then by Gardner's Island; after which we passed by the Gull's Island, and so got at length to Shelter Island. Though it was but about twenty-seven leagues from Rhode Island, yet through the difficulty of passage we were three days in reaching it.
The day after, being First-day, we had a meeting there. In the same week I had another among the Indians; at which were their king, his council, and about a hundred Indians more. They sat down like Friends, and heard very attentively while I spoke to them by an interpreter, an Indian that could speak English well. After the meeting they appeared very loving, and confessed that what was said to them was Truth.
Next First-day we had a great meeting on the island, to which came many people who had never heard Friends before. They were very well satisfied with it, and when it was over would not go away till they had spoken with me. Wherefore I went amongst them, and found they were much taken with the Truth; good desires were raised in them, and great love. Blessed be the Lord; His name spreads, and will be great among the nations, and dreadful among the heathen.
While we were in Shelter Island, William Edmundson, who had been laboring in the work of the Lord in Virginia, came to us. From thence he had traveled through the desert-country, through difficulties and many trials, till he came to Roanoke, where he met with a tender people. After seven weeks' service in those parts, sailing over to Maryland, and so to New York, he came to Long Island, and so to Shelter Island; where we met with him, and were very glad to hear from him the good service he had had for the Lord, in the several places where he had traveled since he parted from us.
We stayed not long in Shelter Island, but entering our sloop again put to sea for Long Island. We had a very rough passage, for the tide ran so strong for several hours that I have not seen the like; and being against us, we could hardly get forwards, though we had a gale.
We were upon the water all that day and the night following; but found ourselves next day driven back near to Fisher's Island. For there was a great fog, and towards day it was very dark, so that we could not see what way we made. Besides, it rained much in the night, which in our open sloop made us very wet.
Next day a great storm arose, so that we were fain to go over the Sound, and got over with much difficulty. When we left Fisher's Island, we passed by Falkner Island, and came to the main, where we cast anchor till the storm was over.
Then we crossed the Sound, being all very wet; and much difficulty we had to get to land, the wind being strong against us. But blessed be the Lord God of heaven and earth, and of the seas and waters, all was well.
We got safe to Oyster Bay, in Long Island, which, they say, is about two hundred miles from Rhode Island, the seventh of the Sixth month, very early in the morning.
At Oyster Bay we had a very large meeting. The same day James Lancaster and Christopher Holder went over the bay to Rye, on the continent, in Governor Winthrop's government, and had a meeting there.
From Oyster Bay, we passed about thirty miles to Flushing, where we had a very large meeting, many hundreds of people being there; some of whom came about thirty miles to it. A glorious and heavenly meeting it was (praised be the Lord God!), and the people were much satisfied.
Meanwhile Christopher Holder and some other Friends went to a town in Long Island, called Jamaica, and had a meeting there.
We passed from Flushing to Gravesend, about twenty miles, and there had three precious meetings; to which many would have come from New York, but that the weather hindered them.
Being clear of this place, we hired a sloop, and, the wind serving, set out for the new country now called Jersey. Passing down the bay by Coney Island, Natton Island, and Staten Island, we came to Richard Hartshorn's at Middletown harbor, about break of day, the twenty-seventh of the Sixth month.
Next day we rode about thirty miles into that country, through the woods, and over very bad bogs, one worse than all the rest; the descent into which was so steep that we were fain to slide down with our horses, and then let them lie and breathe themselves before they could go on. This place the people of the country called Purgatory.
We got at length to Shrewsbury, in East Jersey, and on First-day had a precious meeting there, to which Friends and other people came from afar, and the blessed presence of the Lord was with us. The same week we had a men's and women's meeting out of most parts of New Jersey.
They are building a meeting place in the midst of them and there is a monthly and general meeting set up which will be of great service in those parts in keeping up the gospel order and government of Christ Jesus, of the increase of which there is no end, that they who are faithful may see that all who profess the holy Truth live in the pure religion, and walk as becometh the gospel.
While we were at Shrewsbury, an accident befell, which for the time was a great exercise to us. John Jay, a Friend of Barbados, who had come with us from Rhode Island, and intended to accompany us through the woods to Maryland, being to try a horse, got upon his back, and the horse fell a-running, cast him down upon his head, and broke his neck, as the people said. Those that were near him took him up as dead, carried him a good way, and laid him on a tree.
I got to him as soon as I could; and, feeling him, concluded he was dead. As I stood pitying him and his family, I took hold of his hair, and his head turned any way, his neck was so limber. Whereupon I took his head in both my hands, and, setting my knees against the tree, I raised his head, and perceived there was nothing out or broken that way.
Then I put one hand under his chin, and the other behind his head, and raised his head two or three times with all my strength, and brought it in. I soon perceived his neck began to grow stiff again, and then he began to rattle in his throat, and quickly after to breathe.
The people were amazed; but I bade them have a good heart, be of good faith, and carry him into the house. They did so, and set him by the fire. I bade them get him something warm to drink, and put him to bed. After he had been in the house a while he began to speak; but did not know where he had been.
The next day we passed away (and he with us, pretty well) about sixteen miles to a meeting at Middletown, through woods and bogs, and over a river; where we swam our horses, and got over ourselves upon a hollow tree. Many hundred miles did he travel with us after this.
To this meeting came most of the people of the town. A glorious meeting we had, and the Truth was over all; blessed be the great Lord God for ever! After the meeting we went to Middletown Harbor, about five miles, in order to take our long journey next morning, through the woods towards Maryland; having hired Indians for our guides.
I determined to pass through the woods on the other side of Delaware bay, that we might head the creeks and rivers as much as possible. On the 9th of the Seventh month we set forwards, and passed through many Indian towns, and over some rivers and bogs; and when we had ridden about forty miles, we made a fire at night, and lay down by it. As we came among the Indians, we declared the day of the Lord to them.
Next day we traveled fifty miles, as we computed; and at night, finding an old house, which the Indians had forced the people to leave, we made a fire and stayed there, at the head of Delaware Bay.
Next day we swam our horses over a river about a mile wide, first to an island called Upper Tinicum, and then to the mainland; having hired Indians to help us over in their canoes. This day we rode but about thirty miles, and came at night to a Swede's house, where we got a little straw, and stayed that night.
Next day, having hired another guide, we traveled about forty miles through the woods, and made a fire at night, by which we lay, and dried ourselves; for we were often wet in our travels.
The next day we passed over a desperate river, which had in it many rocks and broad stones, very hazardous to us and our horses. Thence we came to Christiana River, where we swam over our horses, and went over ourselves in canoes; but the sides of this river were so bad and wiry, that some of the horses were almost laid up.
Thence we came to New Castle, heretofore called New Amsterdam; and being very weary, and inquiring in the town where we might buy some corn for our horses, the governor came and invited me to his house, and afterwards desired me to lodge there; telling me he had a bed for me, and I should be welcome. So I stayed, the other Friends being taken care of also.
This was on a Seventh-day; and he offering his house for a meeting, we had the next day a pretty large one; for most of the town were at it. Here had never been a meeting before, nor any within a great way; but this was a very precious one. Many were tender, and confessed to the Truth, and some received it; blessed be the Lord for ever!
The 16th of the Seventh month we set forward, and traveled, as near as we could compute, about fifty miles, through the woods and over the bogs, heading Bohemia River and Sassafras River. At night we made a fire in the woods, and lay there all night. It being rainy weather, we got under some thick trees for shelter, and afterwards dried ourselves again by the fire.
Next day we waded through Chester River, a very broad water, and afterwards passing through many bad bogs, lay that night also in the woods by a fire, not having gone above thirty miles that day. The day following we traveled hard, though we had some troublesome bogs in our way; we rode about fifty miles, and got safe that night to Robert Harwood's, at Miles River, in Maryland.
This was the 18th of the Seventh month; and though we were very weary, and much dirtied with the bogs, yet hearing of a meeting next day, we went to it, and from it to John Edmundson's. Thence we went three or four miles by water to a meeting on the First-day following.
At this meeting a judge's wife, who had never been at any of our meetings before, was reached. She said after the meeting that she would rather hear us once than the priests a thousand times. Many others also were well satisfied; for the power of the Lord was eminently with us. Blessed for ever be His holy name!
We passed thence about twenty-two miles, and had a good meeting upon the Kentish shore, to which one of the judges came. After another good meeting hard by, at William Wilcock's, where we had good service for the Lord, we went by water about twenty miles to a very large meeting, where were some hundreds of people, four justices of peace, the high sheriff of Delaware, and others. There were also an Indian emperor or governor, and two others of the chief men among the Indians.
With these Indians I had a good opportunity. I spoke to them by an interpreter: they heard the Truth attentively, and were very loving. A blessed meeting this was, of great service both for convincing and for establishing in the Truth those that were convinced of it. Blessed be the Lord, who causeth His blessed Truth to spread!
After the meeting there came to me a woman whose husband was one of the judges of that country, and a member of the assembly there. She told me that her husband was sick, not likely to live; and desired me to go home with her to see him. It was three miles to her house, and I being just come hot out of the meeting, it was hard for me then to go; yet considering the service, I got a horse, went with her, visited her husband, and spoke to him what the Lord gave me. The man was much refreshed, and finely raised up by the power of the Lord; and afterwards came to our meetings.
I went back to the Friends that night, and next day we departed thence about nineteen or twenty miles to Tredhaven creek, to John Edmundson's again; whence, the 3d of Eighth month, we went to the General Meeting for all Maryland Friends.
This held five days. The first three meetings were for public worship, to which people of all sorts came; the other two were men's and women's meetings. To the public meetings came many Protestants of diverse sorts, and some Papists. Amongst these were several magistrates and their wives, and other persons of chief account in the country. There were so many besides Friends that it was thought there were sometimes a thousand people at one of these meetings; so that, though they had not long before enlarged their meeting-place, and made it as large again as it was before, it could not contain the people.
I went by boat every day four or five miles to it, and there were so many boats at that time passing upon the river that it was almost like the Thames. The people said there were never so many boats seen there together before, and one of the justices said he had never seen so many people together in that country before. It was a very heavenly meeting, wherein the presence of the Lord was gloriously manifested. Friends were sweetly refreshed, the people generally satisfied, and many convinced; for the blessed power of the Lord was over all; everlasting praises to His holy name for ever!
After the public meetings were over, the men's and women's meetings began, and were held the other two days; for I had something to impart to them which concerned the glory of God, the order of the gospel, and the government of Christ Jesus.
When these meetings were over, we took our leave of Friends in those parts, whom we left well established in the Truth.
On the 10th of the Eighth month we went thence about thirty miles by water, passing by Crane's Island, Swan Island, and Kent Island, in very foul weather and much rain. Our boat being open, we were not only very much wet, but in great danger of being overset; insomuch that some thought we could not escape being cast away. But, blessed be God, we fared very well, and came safely to shore next morning.
Having got to a little house, dried our clothes by the fire, and refreshed ourselves a little, we took to our boat again; and put off from land, sometimes sailing and sometimes rowing; but having very foul weather that day too, we could not get above twelve miles forward. At night we got to land, and made a fire; some lay by that, and some be a fire at a house a little way off.
Next morning we passed over the Great Bay, and sailed about forty miles that day. Making to shore at night, we lay there, some in the boat, and some at an ale-house.
Next morning being First-day, we went six or seven miles to the house of a Friend who was a justice of the peace, where we had a meeting. This was a little above the head of the Great Bay. We had been almost four days on the water, and were weary with rowing, yet all was very well; blessed and praised be the Lord!
We went next day to another Friend's house, near the head of Hatton's Island, where we had good service amongst Friends and others; as we had also the day following at the house of George Wilson, a Friend that lived about three miles further, where we had a very precious meeting, there being great tenderness amongst the people.
After this meeting we sailed about ten miles to the house of James Frizby, a justice of the peace, where, the 16th of the Eighth month, we had a very large meeting, at which, besides Friends, were some hundreds of people, it was supposed. Amongst them were several justices, captains, and the sheriff, with other persons of note.
A blessed heavenly meeting this was; a powerful, thundering testimony for Truth was borne therein; a great sense there was upon the people, and much brokenness and tenderness amongst them.
We stayed till about the eleventh hour in the night, when the tide turned for us; then, taking boat, we passed that night and the next day about fifty miles to another Friend's house. The next two days we made short journeys visiting Friends.
The 20th of the month we had a great meeting at a place called Severn, where there was a meeting place, but not large enough to hold the people. Diverse chief magistrates were at it, with many other considerable people, and it gave them generally great satisfaction.
Two days after we had a meeting with some that walked disorderly, and had good service in it. Then, spending a day or two in visiting Friends, we passed to the Western Shore, and on the 25th had a large and precious meeting at William Coale's, where the speaker of their assembly, with his wife, a justice of peace, and several people of quality, were present.
Next day we had a meeting, six or seven miles further, at Abraham Birkhead's, where were many of the magistrates and upper sort; and the speaker of the assembly for that country was convinced. A blessed meeting it was; praised be the Lord!
We traveled the next day; and the day following, the 28th of the Eighth month, had a large and very precious meeting at Peter Sharp's, on the Cliffs, between thirty and forty miles distant from the former. Many of the magistrates and upper rank of people were present, and a heavenly meeting it was. The wife of one of the Governor's council was convinced; and her husband was very loving to Friends. A justice of the peace from Virginia was convinced and hath had a meeting since at his house.
Some Papists were at this meeting, one of whom, before he came, threatened to dispute with me; but he was reached and could not oppose. Blessed be the Lord, the Truth reached into the hearts of people beyond words, and it is of a good savor amongst them!
After the meeting we went about eighteen miles to the house of James Preston, a Friend that lived on Patuxent River. Thither came to us an Indian king, with his brother, to whom I spoke, and found they understood what I spoke of.
Having finished our service in Maryland, and intending to go to Virginia, we had a meeting at Patuxent on the 4th of the Ninth month, to take our leave of Friends. Many people of all Sorts were at it, and a powerful meeting it was.
On the 5th we set sail for Virginia, and in three days came to a place called Nancemond, about two hundred miles from Maryland. In this voyage we met with foul weather, storms, and rain, and lay in the woods by a fire in the night.
At Nancemond lived a Friend called the widow Wright. Next day we had a great meeting there, of Friends and others. There came to it Colonel Dewes, with several other officers and magistrates, who were much taken with the Truth declared.
After this, we hastened towards Carolina; yet had several meetings by the way, wherein we had good service for the Lord; one about four miles from Nancemond Water, which was very precious; and there was a men's and women's meeting settled, for taking care of the affairs of the Church.
Another very good one also we had at William Yarrow's, at Pagan Creek, which was so large, that we were fain to be abroad, the house not being large enough to contain the people. A great openness there was; the sound of Truth spread abroad, and had a good savor in the hearts of people; the Lord have the glory forever!
After this our way to Carolina grew worse, being much of it plashy, and pretty full of great bogs and swamps; so that we were commonly wet to the knees, and lay abroad at nights in the woods by a fire.
One night we got to a poor house at Sommertown, and lay by the fire. The woman of the house had a sense of God upon her. The report of our travel had reached thither, and drawn some that lived beyond Sommertown to that house, in expectation to see and hear us (so acceptable was the sound of Truth in that wilderness country); but they missed us.
The next day, the List of the Ninth month, having traveled hard through the woods and over many bogs and swamps, we reached Bonner's Creek; and there we lay that night by the fireside, the woman lending us a mat to lie on.
This was the first house we came to in Carolina. Here we left our horses, over-wearied with travel. Thence we went down the creek in a canoe, to Macocomocock River, and came to Hugh Smith's house, where the people of other professions came to see us (for there were no Friends in that part of the country), and many of them received us gladly.
Amongst others came Nathaniel Batts, who had been governor of Roanoke; he went by the name of Captain Batts, and had been a rude, desperate man. He asked me about a woman in Cumberland, who, he said he had been told, had been healed by our prayers, and by laying on of hands after she had been long sick, and given over by the physicians; and he desired to know the certainty of it. I told him we did not glory in such things, but many such things had been done by the power of Christ.
Not far from here we had a meeting among the people, and they were taken with the Truth; blessed be the Lord! Then passing down the river Maratick in a canoe, we went down the bay Coney-Hoe, and came to the house of a captain, who was very loving, and lent us his boat, for we were much wet in the canoe, the water splashing in upon us. With this boat we went to the Governor's house; but the water in some places was so shallow that the boat, being laden, could not swim; so we were fain to put off our shoes and stockings, and wade through the water some distance.
The Governor, with his wife, received us lovingly; but a doctor there would needs dispute with us. And truly his opposing us was of good service, giving occasion for the opening of many things to the people concerning the Light and Spirit of God, which he denied to be in everyone; and affirmed that it was not in the Indians.
Whereupon I called an Indian to us, and asked him whether when he lied, or did wrong to any one, there was not something in him that reproved him for it. He said there was such a thing in him, that did so reprove him; and he was ashamed when he had done wrong, or spoken wrong. So we shamed the doctor before the Governor and the people; insomuch that the poor man ran out so far that at length he would not own the Scriptures.
We tarried at the Governor's that night; and next morning he very courteously walked with us himself about two miles through the woods, to a place whither he had sent our boat about to meet us. Taking leave of him, we entered our boat, and went that day about thirty miles to the house of Joseph Scott, one of the representatives of the country.
There we had a sound, precious meeting; the people were tender, and much desired after meetings. At a house about four miles further, we had another meeting, to which came the Governor's secretary, who was chief secretary of the province, and had been formerly convinced.
Having visited the north part of Carolina, and made a little entrance for Truth upon the people there, we began to return towards Virginia, having several meetings in our way, wherein we had very good service for the Lord, the people being generally tender and open; blessed be the Lord!
We lay one night at the house of the secretary, to get to which gave us much trouble; for the water being shallow, we could not bring our boat to shore; but the secretary's wife, seeing our strait, came herself in a canoe (her husband being from home) and brought us to land.
Next morning our boat was sunk; but we got her up, mended her, and went away in her that day about twenty-four miles, the water being rough, and the winds high; but the great power of God was seen, in carrying us safe in that rotten boat.
Upon our return we had a very precious meeting at Hugh Smith's; praised be the Lord for ever! The people were very tender, and very good service we had amongst them. There was at this meeting an Indian captain, who was very loving; and acknowledged it to be Truth that was spoken. There was also one of the Indian priests, whom they called a Pawaw, who sat soberly among the people.
The 9th of the Tenth month we got back to Bonner's Creek, where we had left our horses, having spent about eighteen days in the north of Carolina.
Our horses having rested, we set forward for Virginia again, traveling through the woods and bogs as far as we could well reach that day, and at night lying by a fire in the woods. Next day we had a tedious journey through bogs and swamps, and were exceedingly wet and dirty all the day, but dried ourselves at night by a fire.
We got that night to Sommertown. As we came near, the woman of the house, seeing us, spoke to her son to keep up their dogs; for both in Virginia and Carolina (living lonely in the woods) they generally keep great dogs to guard their houses. But the son said, "There is no need; our dogs will not meddle with these people." When we were come into the house, she told us we were like the children of Israel, against whom the dogs did not move their tongues. Here we lay in our clothes by the fire, as we had done many a night before.
Next day we had a meeting; for the people, having been informed of us, had a great desire to hear us; and a very good meeting we had among them, where we never had had one before; praised be the Lord for ever! After the meeting we hastened away.
When we had ridden about twenty miles, calling at a house to inquire the way, the people desired us to tarry all night with them; which we did.
Next day we came among Friends, after we had traveled about an hundred miles from Carolina into Virginia: in which time we observed great variety of climates, having passed in a few days from a very cold to a warm and spring-like country. But the power of the Lord is the same in all, is over all, and doth reach the good in all; praised be the Lord for ever!
We spent about three weeks in traveling through Virginia, mostly amongst Friends, having large and precious meetings in several parts of the country; as at the widow Wright's, where many of the magistrates, officers, and other high people came. A most heavenly meeting we had; wherein the power of the Lord was so great that it struck a dread upon the assembly, chained all down, and brought reverence upon the people's minds.
Among the officers was a major, kinsman to the priest, who told me that the priest had threatened to come and oppose us. But the Lord's power was too strong for him, and stopped him; and we were quiet and peaceable. The people were wonderfully affected with the testimony of Truth; blessed be the Lord for ever!
Having finished what service lay upon us in Virginia, on the 30th we set sail in an open sloop for Maryland. But having a great storm, and being much wet, we were glad to get to shore before night; and, walking to a house at Willoughby Point, we got lodging there that night. The woman of the house was a widow, and a very tender person; she had never received Friends before; but she received us very kindly, and with tears in her eyes.
We returned to our boat in the morning, and hoisted our sail, getting forward as fast as we could. But towards evening, a storm rising, we had much ado to get to shore; and our boat being open, the water splashed often in, and sometimes over us, so that we were completely wet. Being got to land, we made a fire in the woods to warm and dry us, and there we lay all night, the wolves howling about us.
On the 1st of the Eleventh month we sailed again. The wind being against us, we made but little headway, and were fain to get to shore at Point Comfort, where yet we found but small comfort. For the weather was so cold that though we made a good fire in the woods to lie by, the water that we had brought for our use was frozen near the fireside. We made to sea again next day; but the wind being strong and against us, we advanced but little. We were glad to get to land again, and traveled about to find some house where we might buy provisions, for our store was spent.
That night, also, we lay in the woods; and so extremely cold was the weather, the wind blowing high, and the frost and snow being great, that it was hard for some of us to abide it.
On the 3d, the wind setting pretty fair, we fetched it up by sailing and rowing, and got that night to Milford Haven, where we lay at Richard Long's, near Quince's Island.
Next day we passed by Rappahannock River, where dwell many people; and Friends had a meeting there at the house of a justice, who had formerly been at a meeting where I was.
We passed over Potomac River also, the winds being high, the water very rough, our sloop open, and the weather extremely cold; and had a meeting there also, where some people were convinced. When we parted thence, some of our company went amongst them. We next steered our course for Patuxent River. I sat at the helm the greater part of the day, and some of the night. About the first hour in the morning we reached James Preston's house, on Patuxent River, which is about two hundred miles from Nancemond in Virginia.
We were very weary; yet the next day being the first of the week, we went to the meeting not far from there. The same week we went to an Indian king's cabin, where were several of the Indians, with whom we had a good opportunity to discourse; and they carried themselves very lovingly. We went also that week to a general meeting; then about eighteen miles further to John Geary's, where we had a very precious meeting; praised be the Lord God for ever!
After this the cold grew so exceedingly sharp, the frost and snow so extreme, beyond what was usual in that country, that we could hardly endure it. Neither was it easy or safe to stir out; yet we got, with some difficulty, six miles through the snow to John Mayor's, where we met with some Friends come from New England, whom we had left there when we came away; and glad we were to see each other, after so long and tedious travels.
By these Friends we understood that William Edmundson, having been at Rhode Island and New England, was gone thence for Ireland; that Solomon Eccles, coming from Jamaica and landing at Boston in New England, was taken at a meeting there, and banished to Barbados; that John Stubbs and another Friend were gone into New Jersey, and several other Friends to Barbados, Jamaica, and the Leeward Islands. It was matter of joy to us to understand that the work of the Lord went on and prospered, and that Friends were unwearied and diligent in the service.
The 27th of the Eleventh month we had a very precious meeting in a tobacco-house. The next day we returned to James Preston's, about eighteen miles distant. When we came there, we found his house had been burnt to the ground the night before, through the carelessness of a maid-servant; so we lay three nights on the ground by the fire, the weather being very cold.
We made an observation which was somewhat strange, but certainly true; that one day, in the midst of this cold weather, the wind turning into the south, it grew so hot that we could hardly bear the heat; and the next day and night, the wind chopping back into the north, we could hardly endure the cold.
Having traveled through most parts of that country, and visited most of the plantations, and having sounded the alarm to all people where we came, and proclaimed the day of God's salvation amongst them, we found our spirits began to be clear of these parts of the world, and draw towards Old England again. Yet we were desirous, and felt freedom from the Lord, to stay over the general meeting for the province of Maryland, which drew nigh; that we might see Friends generally together before we departed.
Spending our time in the interim in visiting Friends and Friendly people, in attending meetings about the Clips and Patuxent, and in writing answers to caviling objections which some of Truth's adversaries had raised and spread abroad to hinder people from receiving the Truth, we were not idle, but labored in the work of the Lord until that general provincial meeting came on, which began on the 17th of the Third month, and lasted four days. On the first of these the men and women had their meetings for business, wherein the affairs of the Church were taken care of, and many things relating thereto were opened unto them, to their edification and comfort.
The other three days were spent in public meetings for the worship of God, at which diverse of considerable account in the government, and many others, were present. These were generally satisfied, and many of them reached; for it was a wonderful, glorious meeting, and the mighty presence of the Lord was seen and felt over all; blessed and praised for ever be His holy name, who over all giveth dominion!
After this meeting we took our leave of Friends, parting in great tenderness, in the sense of the heavenly life and virtuous power of the Lord that was livingly felt amongst us; and went by water to the place where we were to take shipping, many Friends accompanying us thither and tarrying with us that night.
Next day, the 21st of the Third month, 1673, we set sail for England; the same day Richard Covell came on board our ship, having had his own taken from him by the Dutch.
We had foul weather and contrary winds, which caused us to cast anchor often, so that we were till the 31st ere we could get past the capes of Virginia and out into the main sea. But after this we made good speed, and on the 28th of the Fourth month cast anchor at King's Road, which is the harbor for Bristol.
We had on our passage very high winds and tempestuous weather, which made the sea exceedingly rough, the waves rising like mountains; so that the masters and sailors wondered at it, and said they had never seen the like before. But though the wind was strong it set for the most part with us, so that we sailed before it; and the great God who commands the winds, who is Lord of heaven, of earth, and the seas, and whose wonders are seen in the deep, steered our course and preserved us from many imminent dangers. The same good hand of Providence that went with us, and carried us safely over, watched over us in our return, and brought us safely back again; thanksgiving and praises be to his holy name for ever!
Many sweet and precious meetings we had on board the ship during this voyage (commonly two a week), wherein the blessed presence of the Lord did greatly refresh us, and often break in upon and tender the company.
When we came into Bristol harbor, there lay a man-of-war, and the press-master came on board to impress our men. We had a meeting at that time in the ship with the seamen, before we went to shore; and the press-master sat down with us, stayed the meeting, and was well satisfied with it. After the meeting I spoke to him to leave in our ship two of the men he had impressed, for he had impressed four, one of whom was a lame man. He said, "At your request I will."
We went on shore that afternoon, and got to Shirehampton. We procured horses and rode to Bristol that night, where Friends received us with great joy. In the evening I wrote a letter to my wife, to give her notice of my landing.
Original text from George Fox: An Autobiography, edited by Rufus M. Jones. Additional editing by William Mackis. This revised text © 2005. Please note: all applicable material on this website is protected by law and may not be copied without express written permission.