65 From Some Account of the Fore Part of the Life of Elizabeth Ashbridge (1774) By Elizabeth Ashbridge
My life being attended with many uncommon occurrences, some of which, I through disobedience brought upon myself, and others I believe were for my good, I have thought proper to make some remarks on the dealings of Divine Goodness with me, having often had cause, with David, to say, “it is good for me that. I have been afflicted.” And most earnestly I desire, that whosoever reads the following lines, may take warning, and shunt the evils that I have, through the deceitfulness of Satan, been drawn into.
I was born at Middlewieh, in Cheshire, in the year 1713, of honest parents; my father’s name was Thomas Sampson, he was a surgeon, my mother’s name was Mary; my father was a man that bore a good character, but not so strictly religious as my mother, who was a pattern of virtue to me. I was the only child of my father, but not of my mother, she being a widow, when I my father married her, and had two children. Soon after my birth, my father took to the sea, and followed his profession, in many long voyages, till I was twelve years old, about which time he settled at home; so that my education lay mostly on my mother, in which she discharged her duty, by endeavoring to instill into me the principles of virtue during my tender age, for which I have since had cause to be thankful to the Lord, that he blessed me with such a parent, whose good advice and counsel to me have been as “bread cast upon the water.” In short, she was a good example to all about her, and beloved by most that knew her, though not of the same religious persuasion I am now of.
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As I grew up, I took notice that there were several different religious societies, wherefore I often went alone and wept, desiring that I might be directed to the right. Thus my young years were attended with these and such like tender desires; though I was sometimes guilty of faults incident to children, but I always found something in me that made me sorry for what I did amiss. Until I arrived at the age of fourteen years, I was as innocent as most children, about which time my sorrows began, and have continued for the most part of my life, through giving way to a foolish passion, in setting my affections on a young man, who became a suitor to me, without my parents’ consent; till I suffered myself (I may say with sorrow of heart) to be carried off in the night; and before my parents found me I was married, although as soon as they missed me all possible search was made after me, but all in vain, until too late to recover me.
This precipitate act plunged me into a vast scene of sorrow. I was soon smitten with remorse for thus leaving my parents, whose right it was to have disposed of me to their content, or at least their approbation ought to have been consulted in the affair, and I was chastised for my disobedience.—Divine Providence let me see my error, and in five months I was stripped of the darling of my soul, and left a young and disconsolate widow. I had then no home to fly to; my husband was poor, having nothing but his trade, which was a stocking weaver, and my father was so displeased that he would do nothing for me; but my dear mother had compassion towards me, and kept me amongst the neighbours for some time, till by her advice I went to Dublin, to a relation of hers, in hopes that absence would help to regain my father’s affection; but he continued inflexible and would not send for me, and I dared not to return without his permission.
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In nine weeks from the time we left Dublin we arrived at New-York, viz. on the fifteenth of the seventh month, 1732; and then those to whom, under Providence, I had been instrumental to preserve lite, proved treacherous to me. I was a stranger: the captain got an in denture written, and demanded of me to sign it, at the same time threatening me with a gaol if I refused. I told him I could find means to satisfy him for my passage without becoming bound; but he replied, I might take my choice, either to sign that, or have the other in force which I signed in Ireland. By this time I had learned the character of the before-mentioned woman, by which she appeared to be a vile person, and I feared if ever I should be in her power, she would use me ill on her brother’s account; I therefore in a fright signed, the latter, and) though there was-“no magistrate present, it proved sufficient to make me a servant four years.” In two weeks time I was sold, and were it possible to convey in characters, a sense of the sufferings of my servitude, it: would affect the most stony heart with pity, for a young creature who had been so tenderly brought up; for though my father had no great estate, yet he lived well, and I had been used to little but school, though it had been better for me now, ‘if I had been brought up to greater hardships.
For a while at first I was pretty well used, but in a little time the scale turned, which was occasioned by a difference between my master and me, wherein I was innocent; but from that time he set himself against me, and was so inhuman, that he would not let me have clothes to be decent in, making me go barefoot in the snowy weather, and- to be employed in the meanest drudgery, wherein I suffered the utmost hardships that my body was able to bear, and which, with the rest of my troubles, had- like to have been my ruin to all eternity, had not Almighty God interposed.
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When I had served three years, I bought the remainder of my time, and then set to my needle, by which I maintained myself handsomely. But alas! I was not yet sufficiently punished: I had got released from one cruel servitude, and then, not content, got into another for life. A few months after, I married a young man, who fell in love with me for my dancing.—A poor motive for a man to chuse a wife, or a woman a husband! But for my part, I fell in love with nothing I saw in him; and it seems unaccountable-that I, who had refused several offers both in this country and Ireland, should at last marry a man I had no value for.
In a week after we were married, my husband, who was a schoolmaster, removed from New York, and took me along with him, to New England, and settled at a place called Wisterley, in Rhode-Island government. With respect to religion, he was much like myself, without any; and when in drink, would use the worst of oaths, I do not mention this to expose my husband, but to shew the effect it had upon me, for I now saw myself ruined, as I thought, being joined to a man I had no love for, and who was a pattern of no good to me. I therefore began to think what a couple we were, like two joining hands and going to destruction; which made me conclude, if I was not forsaken of God, to alter my course of life. But to love the Divine Being, and not to love my husband, I saw was an inconsistency, and seemed impossible; I therefore daily desired, with tears, that my affections might be in a right manner set on my husband, and I can say in truth, that in a little time my love was sincere to him.
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I now began to think of my relations in Pennsylvania, whom I had not yet seen, and having a great desire that way, got leave of my husband to go, and, also, a certificate from the priest, in order that if I made any stay, I might be received as a member of the church wherever I came; then setting out, my husband bore me company to the Blazing Star Ferry, saw me safe over, and then returned. In the way, near a place called Maidenhead, I fell from my horse, and was disabled from travelling for some time, and abode at the house of an honest Dutchman, who, with his wife, was very kind to me, and though they had much trouble in going to the doctor, and waiting upon me, for I was several days unable to help myself, yet would have no thing for it, which I thought very kind, but charged me, if ever I came that way again, to call and lodge there. I arrived next at Trent-Town Ferry, where I met with no small mortification, upon hearing that my relations were Quakers, and what was worst of all, my aunt a preacher ; I was sorry to hear it, for I was exceedingly prejudiced against this people, and have often wondered with what face they could call themselves Christians; I repented my coming, and had a mind to return back without seeing them; at last I concluded to go and see them, since I was so far on my journey, though I expected little comfort from my visit. But see how God brings unforeseen things to pass, for by my going there I was brought to the knowledge of his truth.
I went from Trent-Town to Philadelphia by water, and thence to my uncle’s on horseback, where I met with a very kind reception; for though my own uncle was dead, and my aunt married again, yet both she and her husband received me in a very kind manner. I had not been there three hours before I met with a shock, and my opinion began to alter with respect to these people, for seeing a book lay on the table, and being much given to reading, I took it up, which my aunt observing, said, “Cousin, that is a Quaker‘s book, Samuel Crisp’s two Letters,”—I suppose she thought I should not like it. I made her no answer, but thought to myself, what can these people write about, for I have heard that they deny the scripture, and how: no other bible than George Fox’s Journal, and that they deny all the holy ordinances?” so I resolved to read a little, and had not read two pages, before my very heart burned within me, and tears came into my eyes, which I was afraid would be seen; I therefore walked with the book into the garden, sat down, and the piece being small, read it through before I went in, though sometimes forced to stop, and give vent to my tears; my heart, as it were, uttering these involuntary expressions, “ My God, if ever I come to the knowledge of‘ the truth, must I be of this “ man’s opinion, who hath sought thee as I have done, and join with these people, that I preferred the Papists to, but a few hours ago? O thou, the God of my salvation and of my life, who hast in an abundant manner manifested thy long-suffering and tender mercy in redeeming me as from the lowest hell, a monument of thy grace—Lord, my soul beseeches thee to direct me in the right way, and keep me from error ‘, and then according to my covenant, I will think nothing too near to part with for thy name’s sake. If these things be so, oh! happy people, thus beloved of God.”
After, I came a little to myself, I washed my face, least any in the house should perceive I had been weeping. At night I got very little sleep, for the old enemy began to suggest that I was one of those that wavered, and was not steadfast in the faith, advancing several texts of scripture against me and them; “In the latter, days there shall be those that shall deceive the very “elect,” and these people were they, and that I was in danger of being deluded. Here the subtle serpent transformed himself so hiddenly, that I verily thought this to be a timely caution, from a good angel, so resolved to beware of these deceivers, and for some weeks did not touch any of their books.
The next day, being the first of the week, I wanted to have gone to church, which was distant about four miles, but being a stranger and having nobody to go with me, was forced to give it up, and as most of the family Were going to meeting, I went with them, but with ’this conclusion, not to like them ; and so it was, for as they sat in silence, I looked over the meeting, thinking within myself, how like fools these people sit, how much better were it to stay at home and read the Bible, or some good book, than to come here and go to sleep; for I being very sleepy, thought they were the same; indeed at length I fell asleep, and had like to have fallen down, but this was the last time I ever fell asleep in a meeting, though often assaulted with it.
I now began to be lifted up with spiritual pride, and thought myself better than they, but through mercy, this did not last long, for in a little time I was brought low, and saw these were the people to whom I must join. It may seem strange that I, who had lived so long with one of this society in Dublin, should ‘yet be so great a stranger to them. In answer let it be considered, that during the time I was there, I never read one of their books, or went to one meeting; and besides, I had heard such ridiculous stories of them, as made me think they were the worst of any society of people; but God, that knew the sincerity of my heart, looked with pity on my weakness and soon let me see my error; for in a few weeks there was an afternoon meeting held at my uncle’s, to which came that servant of the Lord, William Hammons, who was then made instrumental in convincing me of the truth more perfectly, and helping me over some great doubts, though I believe noone did ever sit in greater opposition than I did, when he first stood up; but I was soon brought down, for he preached the Gospel with such power, that I was forced to give up, and confess it was the truth.
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All this while I did not let any know the condition was in, nor did I appear like a Friend, and feared a discovery. I now began to think of returning to my husband, but found a restraint to stay where I was; I then hired to keep a school, and hearing of a place for him, wrote desiring him to come to me, but let him know nothing how it was with me.
I loved to go to meetings, but did not like to be seen to go on week-days, and therefore to shun it used to go from my school, through the woods to them; but not withstanding all my care, the neighbours, that were not friends, soon began to revile, calling me Quaker, saying, “They supposed I intended to be a fool, and turn preacher;” I then received the same censure, that I, a little above a year before, had passed on one of the handmaids of the Lord, at Boston, and so weak was I, alas I could not bear the reproach, and in order to change their opinions, got into greater excess in apparel than I -had freedom to wear for some time before I became acquainted with Friends. In this condition I continued till my husband came, and then began the trial of my faith; before he reached me, he heard I was turned Quaker, at which he stamped, saying, “I had rather have heard she had been dead; well as I love her, for if so, all my comfort is gone;” he then came to me, and had not seen me before for four months; I got up and met him, saying, “My dear, I am glad to see thee,” at which he fell in a great passion, and said, “The devil THEE thee, don’t THEE me.” I used all the mild means-I could to pacify him, and at length got him fit to go and speak to my relations, but he was alarmed, and as soon as we got alone, he said, “So I see your Quaker relations have made you one;” I told him they had not, which was true, nor had I ever told them how it was with me ; but he would have it that I was one, and therefore should not stay amongst them, and having found a place to his mind, hired, and came directly back to fetch me, and in one afternoon, walked near thirty miles to keep me from meeting, the next day being the first day, and on the morrow took me to the aforesaid place, hired lodgings at a church-man‘s house, who was one of the wardens, and a bitter enemy to Friends. He used to do all he could to irritate my husband against them, and would tell me a great deal of ridiculous stuff, but my judgment” was too clearly convinced to believe him; I still did not appear like a Friend, but they all believed I was one when my husband and he used to be making their diversion and reviling, I used to sit in silence, but now and then an involuntary sigh would break from one, at which he would say to my husband, “There, did not I tell you your wife was a Quaker, and she will be a preacher soon; upon which my husband once, in a great rage, came up to me, and shaking his hand over me, said, “ You had better be hanged on that day.” I then, Peter-like, in a panic denied my being a Quaker, at which great horror seized upon me, which continued for near three months, so that I again feared, that by denying the Lord who bought me, the heavens were shut against me; for great darkness surrounded me, and I was again plunged into despair.
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The time of removal came, and I was not suffered to bid my relations farewell: my husband was poor and kept no horse, so I must travel on foot; we came to Wilmington, fifteen miles thence to Philadelphia, by water; here he took me to a tavern, where I soon became a spectacle and diversion to the company; my husband told them his wife was turned Quaker, and that he designed, if possible, to find out some place where there was none. “Oh,” thought I, “I was once in a condition of deserving that name, but now it is over with me. Oh, that I might from a true hope, once more have an opportunity to confess to the truth, though I was sure of all manner of cruelties, yet I would not regard them.” These were my concerns, while he was entertaining the company with my story, in which he told them that I had been a good dancer; but now he could neither get me to dance nor sing; upon which one of the company starts up saying, “I’ll go and fetch my fiddle, and we‘ll have a dance,” at which my husband was much pleased. The fiddle came, the sight of which put me in a sad condition, for fear, if I refused, my husband would be in a great passion; however I took up this resolution, not to comply, whatever might be the consequence ; he came to me and took me by the hand, saying, “Come, my dear, shake elf that gloom, “let us have a civil dance, you would, now and then, “ when you were a good church-woman, and that is “better than: a stiff Quaker-” I, trembling, desired to be excused, but he insisted on it, and knowing his temper to be exceeding choleric, I durst not say much, but would not consent; he then pulled me round the room till tears affected my eyes, at sight whereof, the musician stopped, and said, “ I‘ll play no more, let your wife alone;” of which I was glad. There was also a man in company who came from Freehold, in East Jersey, who said, “I see your wife is a Quaker, but if you‘ll take my advice, you need not go so far, (for my husband designed to go to Staten Island) come and live amongst us, and we’ll soon cure her from her Quakerism, for we want a school-master and mistress too;” to which he agreed, and a happy turn it was for me, as will be seen by and by, and the wonderful turn of Providence, who had not yet abandoned me, but raised a glimmering hope, and afforded the answer I of peace, in refusing to dance, for which I was more rejoiced than if I were made mistress of much riches, and in a flood of tears, said, “Lord, I dread to ask, and yet without thy gracious pardon I am miserable; I therefore fall down before thy throne, imploring mercy at thy hand. O Lord, once more I beseech thee, try my obedience, and then whatsoever thou commands, I will obey, and not fear to confess thee before men.” Thus was my soul engaged before God in sincerity, and he of his tender mercy heard my set cries, and in me hath shewn that he delights not in the death of a sinner, for he again set my soul at liberty and I could praise him.
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Next day, on our return to Freehold, we met a man riding full speed, who stopped, and said to my husband, “ Sir, are you a school-master” and was answered “ yes,” “I came to tell you,” replied the stranger, “of two new school houses, and we want a master in each, and are two miles apart;” how this stranger came to hear of us, who came but the night before, I never knew, but I was glad he was not called a Quaker, least my husband might have thought it had been a plot. I said to my husband, “My dear, look on me with pity, if thou hast any affection left, for me, which I hope thou hast, for I am not conscious, of having done anything-to alienate them; here is (continued I,) an opportunity to settle us both, for I am willing to do all in my power towards an honest “livelihoods.”
My expressions took place, and after a little pause, he consented, took the young man’s directions, and made towards the place; and in our way, we came to the house of a worthy Friend, whose wife was a preacher, though we did not know it; I was surprised to see the people so kind to us who were strangers; we had not been long in the house, before we were invited to lodge there that night, it being the last of the week; I said nothing, but waited to hear my master speak; he soon consented, saying, “my wife has had a tedious travel, and I pity her;” at which kind expressions I was greatly affected, for they were now, very seldom use to me.
The Friend’s kindness could not have proceeded from my appearing in the garb of a Quaker, for I had not yet altered my dress but the woman of the house, after we had concluded to stay, fixed-her eyes on me and said, “I believe thou hast met with a great deal of trouble,” to which I made but little answer; my husband observing they were of that sort of people he had so much endeavoured to shun, would give us no opportunity for any discourse that night, but the next morning I let the Friend know a little how it; was with me. Meeting time came, to which I longed to go, but durst not ask my husband’s leave, for fear of disturbing him, till we were settled, and then thought I, if ever I am favoured to be in this place, come life or death, I’ll fight through for my salvation is at stake. The Friends getting ready for meeting, asked my husband if he would go, saying they knew who were to be his employers, and if they were at meeting, they would speak to them; he then consented to go; then said the woman Friend, “And wilt thou let thy wife go?” which he refused, making several objections, all which she answered so prudently, that he could not be angry, and at last consented; with joy I went, for I had not been at one for near four months, and an heavenly meeting it t’was to me. I now renewed my covenant, and saw the word of the Lord made good, that I should have another opportunity to confess to his name, for which, “My soul did magnify the Lord, and my spirit did rejoice in the God of my salvation,” who had brought strange things to pass—may I ever be preserved in humility, never forgetting his tender mercies to me.
Here, according to my desire, we settled, my husband got one school and I the other; we took a room at a Friend‘s house, a mile from each school, and eight miles from the meeting-house. Before the next first-day we were got to our new settlement, and now I concluded to let my husband see that I was determined to join with Friends. When first-day came, I directed myself to him in this manner, “My dear, art thou willing to let me go to meeting?” at which he flew into a rage, saying, “no, you shall not.” I then drew up resolution, and told him, “that as a dutiful wife ought, so was I ready to obey all his lawful commands; but where they imposed on my conscience, I no longer durst, for I had already done it too long, and wronged myself by it; and though he was near, and I loved him as a wife ought, yet God was nearer than all the world to me, and had made me sensible this was the way I ought to go, the which I assured him was no small cross to my own will, yet I had given up my heart, and hoped he that had called for it, would enable me, the residue of my life, to keep it steadily devoted to him whatever I suffered, (adding,) I hoped not to make him any worse wife for it.” But all I could say was in vain, but I had now put my hand to the plough, and resolved not to look back, so went without leave, but expected immediately to be followed and forced back; but he did not. I went to one of the neighbor’s and got a girl to shew me the way; and then went on rejoicing and praising God in my heart, who had thus far given me power, and another opportunity to confess to his truth.
Thus for some time I had to go eight miles on foot to meeting, which I never thought hard. My husband soon bought a horse, but would not let me ride, neither when my shoes were worn out, would he let me have a new pair, thinking by that means to keep me from meetings; but this did not hinder me, for I have taken I strings and tied round to keep them on. He now finding no hard usage could alter my resolution, neither threatening to beat me, nor doing it, for he several times struck me with sore blows, which I endeavoured to bear with patience, believing the time would come when he would see I was in the right, which he accordingly did; he once came up to me and took out his penknife, saying, “If you offer to go to meeting tomorrow, with this knife I will cripple you, for you shall not be a Quaker;” I made him no answer, but when morning came, set out as usual, and he was not suffered to hurt me.
In despair of recovering me himself, he now fled to the priest for help, and told him, “that I had been a very religious woman in the way of the Church of England, was a member of it, and had a good certificate from Long Island, but now was bewitched and I turned Quaker, which almost broke his heart; he therefore desired, as he was one who had the care of souls, he would come and pay me a visit, and use his best endeavours to reclaim me, and he hoped, by the blessing of God, it would be done.”
The priest consented to come, and the time was fixed, which was to be that day two weeks, for he said he could not come sooner; my husband came home extremely well pleased, and told me of it, at which I smiled and said, “I hope to be enabled to give a reason for the “hope that is in me;” at the same time believing the priest would never trouble me, nor did he, nor ever did; before this appointed time came, it was required of me in a more public manner, to confess to the world what I was, and to give up in prayer in meeting, the sight of which, and the power that attended it, made me tremble, and I could not hold myself still; I now again desired death, and could have freely given up my natural life a ransom, and what made it harder to me, I was not yet taken under the care of Friends; and what kept me from requesting it was, for fear I should be overcome, and bring a scandal in the society—I begged to be excused till I was joined to Friends, and then I would give up freely, to which I received this answer, as though I had a heard distinct voice, “I am a covenant keeping God, and the words that I spoke to thee when I found thee in distress, even that I would never leave thee, nor forsake thee, if thou wouldst be obedient to what I should make known to thee, I will assuredly make good; but if thou refuse, my Spirit shall not always strive; fear not, I will make way for thee through all thy difficulties, which shall be many, for my name’s sake, but be faithful, and I will give thee a crown of life;” I then being sure it was God that spoke, said, “thy will, O God, be done, “I am in thy hand, do with me according to thy word,” and I gave up, but after it was over, the enemy came in like a flood, telling me, I had done what I ought not, and should now bring dishonour to this people, but this shock did not last long.
This day, as usual, I had gone on foot; my husband, as he afterwards told me, lying on the bed, these words ran through him, “Lord, where shall I fly to shun “thee,” at which he arose, and seeing it rain, got the horse and came to fetch me, and coming just as the meeting broke up, I got on horseback as quick as possible, least he should hear what had happened, nevertheless he heard it, and as soon as we were got into the woods he began, saying, “What do you mean thus “to make my life unhappy? could you not be a Quaker without turning fool after this manner?” I answered in tears, saying, “My dear, look on me with pity, if “thou hast any, canst thou think that I, in the bloom of my days, would hear all that thou knowest of, and a great deal which thou knowest not of, if I did not believe it to be my duty?” This took hold of him, and taking my hand, he said, “Well, I’ll even give you up, for I see it don’t avail to strive, if it be of God, I “cannot overthrow it, and if it be of yourself, it will fall;” and I saw the tears stand in his eyes, at which; my-heart was overcome with joy, and I would not have changed conditions with a queen. I already began to reap the fruit of my obedience, but my trials did-‘not end here: The time being up that the priest was to come, but no priest appeared, my husband went to fetch him, but he would not come, saying, “he was busy, and could not,” which so displeased my husband, that he would never go hear him more, and for some time went to no place of worship.
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This happened soon after my first appearance, [as a minister] and Friends had not been to talk with me, nor did they know what to do till I appeared again, which was not for some time; when the monthly meeting appointed four Friends to pay me a visit, which I was glad of, and gave them such satisfaction that they left me well satisfied; I then joined with Friends—my husband still went to no place of worship. One day he said, “I’d go to meeting, only I am afraid I shall hear your clack, which I cannot bear.” I used no persuasions, yet when meeting time came he got the horse, and took me behind him and went to meeting; but for several months, if he saw me offer to rise, he would go out, till one time I got up before he was aware, and then, as he afterwards said, he was ashamed to do it; and from that time never did, nor hindered me from going to meeting, and though he. poor-man, could not take up the cross, yet his judgement was convinced, and sometimes in a flood of tears, he would say, “my dear, I have seen the beauty there is in the truth, and that thou art in the right, and I pray God preserve thee in it; but as for me the cross is too heavy, cannot bear it.” I told him, “I hoped he that had given me strength, would also favour him,”—“Oh!” said he, “I cannot hear the reproach thou dost, to be called “turn-coat, and become a laughing stock to the world, “but I’ll no longer hinder thee from it;” which I looked on as a great favour that my way was thus far made easy, and a little hope remained that my prayers would be heard on his account.
In this place he’ had got linked in with some that he was afraid would make game of him, which indeed they already did, asking him when he designed to commence preacher for that they saw he intended to turn Quaker, and seemed to love his wife better since she did than before. We were now got into a little house by ourselves, which though mean, and little to put into it, (our bed being no better than chaff,) yet I was truly content, and did not envy the rich their riches; the only desires I now had were my own preservation, and to be blessed with the reformation of my husband. These men used to come to our house and there provoke my husband to sit up and drink, sometimes till near day, while I have been sorrowing in a stable; as I once sat in this condition, I heard my husband say to his company, “ I cannot bear any “longer to afflict my poor wife in this manner, for whatever you may think of her, I do believe she is a good woman;” upon which he came to the, arid said, “ Come in, my dear, God has given thee deal of patience, I‘ll put an end to this practice;” and so he did, for this was the last time they sat up at nights.
My husband now thought if he was in any place where it was not known he was so bitter against Friends, he could do better than here, but I was much against his moving, fearing it Would tend to his hurt, having been for some months much altered for the better, and would often in a broken manner condemn his bad usage to me; I told him, “I hoped it had been for my good, even to the better establishing me in the truth, and therefore would not have him be afflicted about that;” and according to the measure of grace received, did what I could both by example and advice for his good; and my advice was for him to fight through here, fearing he would grow weaker, and the enemy gain advantage over him, if he thus fled; but all I could say did not prevail against his moving, and hearing of a place at Burdontown, went there, but that did not suit; he then moved to Mountholey, and there We settled; he got a school and so did I, and here we might have done very well; we soon got our house pretty well furnished for poor folks. I now began to think I wanted but one thing to complete my happiness, viz. the reformation of my husband, the which, alas, I had too much reason to doubt, for it fell out according to my fears, and he grew worse here, and took to much drinking, so that it seemed as though my life was to be a continual scene of sorrow; and most earnestly I prayed to Almighty God, to endue me with patience to hear my afflictions, and submit to his providence, which I can say in truth, I did without murmuring, or ever uttering an unsavory expression, to the best of my knowledge, except once, when my husband coming home a little in drink, in which frame he was very hasty, and finding me at work by a candle, came to me, put it out, and giving me a box on the ear, said, “You don’t earn your light;” which unkind usage, for he had not struck me for two years before, went hard with me, and I uttered this rash expression,—“Thou art a vile man.” I was a little angry, but soon recovered and was sorry for it; he struck me again, which I received without so much as a word in return, and that likewise displeased him, so that he went on in a distracted manner, uttering several rash expressions that bespoke despair, as that he now believed he was predestinated to damnation, and he did not care how soon God would strike him dead, and the like. I durst say but little, yet at length, in the bitterness of my soul, I broke out in these words, “Lord, look down on my afflictions, and deliver me by some means or other;” I was answered I should soon be; and so I was, but in such a manner as I verily thought would have killed me.
In a little time he went to Burlington, where he got in drink, and enlisted for a common soldier to go to Cuba, in the year 1740. I had drank many bitter cups, but this seemed to exceed them all, for indeed my very senses seemed shaken; I now a thousand times blamed myself for making such an unadvised request, fearing I had displeased God by it, and though he had granted it, it was in displeasure, and suffered to be in this manner to punish me; but I can say, I never desired his death more than my own, nay, not so much. I have since had cause to believe his mind was benefitted by the undertaking, which hope makes up for all I have suffered from him, being informed that he did in the army what he could not do at home, viz. suffer for the testimony of truth: when they came to prepare for an engagement he refused to fight, for which he was whipped, and brought before the General, who asked him why he enlisted, if he would not fight? “I did it,” said he, “in a drunken frolic, when the devil had the better of me, but my judgment is convinced, that I ought not, neither will I, whatever I suffer; I have but one life, and you may take that if you please, but I’ll never take up arms.” They used him with much cruelty to make him yield, but could not, by means where of he was so disabled, that the General sent him to the hospital at Chelsea, near London, where in nine months he died, and I hope made a good end, for which I prayed both night and day, till I heard of his death.
Thus I thought it my duty to say what I could in his favour, as I have been obliged to say so much of his hard usage to me, all which I hope did me good; and although he was so had, yet he had several good qualities, and I never thought him the worst of men; he was one I loved, and had he let religion have its perfect work, I should have thought myself happy in the lowest state of life; and I have cause to bless God who enabled me in the station of a wife to do my duty, and now a widow, to submit to his will; always believing every thing he doth to be right, may he, in all stations of life, so preserve me by the arm of divine power, that I may never forget his tender mercies to me, the remembrance whereof doth often bow down my soul in humility before his throne, saying, “ Lord, what was I, that thou shouldest have revealed to my soul, the “ knowledge of thy truth, and done so much for me, “who deserved thy displeasure rather? but in me thou hast shewn thy long suffering and tender mercy; may “thou, O God, be glorified, and I abased, for it is “thy own works that praise thee, and of a truth to the “humble soul thou makest every bitter thing sweet.”
Brief Memoirs, Published on Various Occasions and how Collected into Volumes, W. Alexander, publisher, Public Domain.