Sarah Cheevers and Catharine Evans
The following is a modernized excerpt from:
THE HISTORY OF THE RISE, INCREASE AND PROGRESS OF
BY WILLIAM SEWEL
WRITTEN ORIGINALLY IN LOW DUTCH,
Bracketed Text has been added by the Site Editor
[This is a remarkable story of two unbelievably brave Quaker women, arrested by the Roman Catholic Inquisition; who then underwent four years of brutal imprisonment, being constantly pressured to become a Catholic and then threatened with being burned at the stake and quartered for failure to accept the Roman sect's idolatry. Their testimony shows not only the depravity of the Roman sect, but also the support of the Lord to these courageous women, in conditions that most all men would have perished. Their unwavering faith is a testimony to the truth of the early Quaker's claim to be in the same spirit as the Apostles, and validates the gospel that they preached - the gospel of the ministry of the Spirit of Life, to rid people of their sins and engraft the life of God into the hearts of the obedient listeners, thus to bring them into fellowship with Christ and the Father. Their strength was beyond mortal - supplied by the mighty power of God; their persecutions being the tribulation that brought them even closer to God. Their account below is a testimony to the protection of the saints by God and is an inspiration for all future generations.
Sewel is considered the definitive historian of the early Quaker movement, being the source of most Quaker writings in the 19th Century. Sewel was a Dutch Quaker himself, the son of Quaker parents, who were in England during part of the persecutions that he has chronicled.] Sewel describes the following as “a clear and circumstantial relation of the imprisonment of Catharine Evans and Sarah Cheevers, chiefly collected from letters and papers, written by them in prison, and sent then to England, where they were published in print, not long after their return, in the year 1662.” He continues:
In the year 1658, these women having drawings in their mind to travel towards Alexandria, Egypt, went in a ship from England to Leghorn in Italy; and having been thirty-one days between Plymouth and Leghorn, they at length safely landed at that city. There they found some of their countrymen and friends, and stayed there several days, dispersing many Quaker books when occasion offered. They spoke also with people of various degrees, without being molested by any. Then they got passage in a Dutch ship bound for Alexandria, or Scanderoon [a southernmost city of Turkey, abutting the border of Syria]; but the master of the ship being in company with another ship going to Malta, went also there, though he had no business in the place; but before they came there, Catharine fell into such an anguish of mind, that she cried out, 'Oh! we have a dreadful cup to drink at that place!' Having come into the harbor, and standing on the deck of the ship, and looking upon the people who stood on the walls, she said in her heart, 'Shall you destroy us? If we give up to the Lord, then he is sufficient to deliver us out of your hands; but if we disobey our God, all these could not deliver us out of his hand.' And so all fear of man was taken from them.
The next day, being the First-day of the week, they went on shore, where the English consul met them, and asked them what they came there for; they answered what they thought convenient, and gave him some books. Then he told them there was an inquisition; and kindly inviting them to his house, said all that he had was at their service while they were there. They accepting of this invitation, went there; and many came to see them, whom they called to repentance, so that several became tender. About night they went on ship-board, and the next day came again into the city, and going to the governor he told them he had a sister in the nunnery, who desired to see them. At which point they went to the nunnery, and talked with the nuns, and gave them books; and one of their priests, who brought them into the chapel, requested them to bow to the high altar, but they refused, being grieved because of the idolatry committed there, and went to the consul's again, where they stayed some weeks. During that time they once went into one of the places of worship in the time of worship; and Catharine standing in the midst of the people, turned her back to the high altar, and kneeling down, she lifted up her voice in prayer to the Lord. The priest that officiated, put off his surplice, and kneeled near her till she had done. Then he reached forth his hand to them to come to him, and offered her a token, which she taking to be the mark of the beast, refused. At which point he put the piece into Sarah's hand, but she gave it to him again, and showed him her purse that she had to give, if any had need, and as yet was in no need. He then asked if they were Calvinists or Lutherans ? And they answering, ' No,' he asked if they would go to Rome to the pope. They denying this, he asked if they were Catholics; to which they said they were true Christians, servants of the living God. But since they had yet learned but little of the language spoken there, they expressed themselves very ineffectively; what they did was partly in words and partly by signs, as well as they could; and many that came about them were amazed: however at last they departed peaceably. Some time after they went again to a mass-house, where the sacrament, as they call it, was administered: there were many lights, and great costliness and fineries; and being grieved because of their idolatry, they stood about three quarters of an hour, weeping and trembling, especially Catharine. This so struck the congregation with amazement, that some removed further from them for fear. At length they both went out, but yet under such a trembling that they went along the street reeling and staggering, so that they became a wonder to all that saw them. They were about three months at the house of the English consul; and he, for that reason, being under a suspicion, did not do what he might have done to save them; but in some respect he delivered them up to the inquisition, though by his oath he was obliged to protect the English there. In the meanwhile he kept them in his house, and did not allow them to go abroad, though the governor had told him he might let them go about their business; ' For,' said he, ' they are honest women.' The consul might also have let them go free before they came under the power of the black rod [the inquisitor's servant wielded a black rod]. Now they, perceiving that something to their prejudice was in agitation, and making account already that a prison would be their lot, they signified that they suspected him, and told him that Pilate would do the Jews a service, and yet wash his hands in innocence. He being at a loss, required a sign of them, if they were the messengers of God. And they gave him to understand, that this might serve for a sign: that it would be well with them, but that it should not go off well with him.
Afterwards it happened that they were sent for by the inquisition. That same day the consul's wife brought them some victuals; but as she passed by, Catharine was smitten, as with an arrow, to the heart, and she seemed to hear a voice, saying, 'She has obtained her purpose.' Then Catharine would not taste of the food, but went aside, and wept exceedingly. The consul having called her, told her, the inquisition had sent for them, having received letters from Rome, but that he did hope they should be set free; which however was not true, for he knew, (as they understood afterwards), there was a room prepared for them in the prison of the inquisition. Neither was it long before there came the chancellor, the consul, and one with the black rod, who brought them before the lord inquisitor; and he asked them whether they had changed their minds; for it seems that had been required of them before. But they answered, 'No,' and that they should not change from the Truth. Then he asked what new light it was they talked of; they answered it was no new light, but the same the prophets and apostles bore testimony to. Next he asked how this light came to be lost since the primitive times; they replied, 'It was not lost; men had it still in them, but they did not know it, by reason that the night of apostasy had overspread the nations.' Then he said, 'if they would change their minds, and do as they would have them, they should say so, or else they would use them as they pleased.' But they signifying, that they would not change, said, 'The will of the Lord be done.' He then arose, and went away with the consul, leaving them there; and the man with the black rod, and the keeper, took and put them into an inner room in the inquisition, which had only two little holes in it for light and air. This place was so exceeding hot, that it seemed as if their intent was to stifle them, as we may see in the sequel. Not long after they were brought before the inquisitors to be further examined, and they not only asked their names, but also the names of their husbands and parents, and what children they had, and also why they came there? To which they answered, they were servants of the living God, having come there to call them to repentance. The next day they were called again, but then examined asunder; and Sarah being asked whether she was a true Catholic, said that she was a true Christian, worshipping God in Spirit and in Truth. Then they held forth a crucifix to her, and would have her swear that she should speak the truth. To which she said, she should speak the truth, but she would not swear; for Christ had commanded, "Swear not at all." The English consul who was present, endeavored to persuade her to swear, and said that none would do her any harm. She having some books with her, they were taken from her; and they asked her, why she brought those books; to which she answered, because they could not speak their language. Then they asked her, what George Fox was? She answered, ' A minister.' Further they asked, why she came there? And she replied, "to do the will of God as she was moved of the Lord." The next question was, how the Lord did appear unto her; to which she answered, "By his Spirit." And being asked whether she did see his presence, and hear his voice, her answer was, she heard his voice and saw his presence. They then asked what he said to her? She answered that he required of her to go over the seas to do his will. This made them ask how she knew it was the Lord who required this of her? To which she answered that since he had signified to her that his living presence should go along with her, she found him to perform his promise for she did feel his living presence. After this they went away.
Two days after the inquisitors came and called for Catharine, and offering her the crucifix, they told her that the magistrates commanded her to swear, that she should speak the truth. To which she said that she should speak the truth, for she was a witness for God; but she should not swear, since a greater than the magistrates said, “Swear not at all; but let your yes, be yes, and your no, no; for whatsoever is more, comes of evil.'' Then they said, ' You must obey the justice; and he commands you to swear.' She returned, 'I shall obey justice, but if I should swear, I should do an unjust thing for the just, (Christ), said, "Swear not at all." Then they asked her whether she did own that Christ that had died at Jerusalem? She answered, ' We own the same Christ and no other; he is the same yesterday, today, and forever.' Next they asked her, what she would do at Jerusalem. She answered that she did not know that she should go there, but she intended to have gone to Alexandria. They asked what to do. Her answer was, 'The will of God, and, (said she), if the Lord opened my mouth, I should call people to repentance, and declare to them the day of the Lord, and direct their minds from darkness to light.' They asked her also whether she did see the Lord. She answered that God was a spirit, and he was spiritually discerned.
Now, though from the answers of these women, little could be gotten to blame them, yet they were kept close prisoners, which seemed to grieve the English consul, for he came to them with tears in his eyes, and said he was sorry as for his own flesh; for it seems he had received something for delivering them up, which he would willingly have given back, if thereby he could have obtained their liberty; but a slavish fear possessed him, and he never had peace while he lived. Some days after this, came a magistrate, two friars, the man with the black rod, a scribe, and the keeper of the inquisition to examine them; and they were again required to swear, but they answered as before, that Christ said, " Swear not at all;" and that the apostle James gave the same charge. At which point the magistrate asked if they would speak truth; and they said, ' Yes.' He then asked whether they believed the creed; to which they said, they did believe in God, and in Jesus Christ, who was born of the Virgin Mary, and suffered at Jerusalem under Pontius Pilate, and arose again from the dead the third day, and ascended to his Father, and shall come to judgment, to judge both quick and dead. He further asked, how they did believe the resurrection: and they answered, that they believed that the just and the unjust should arise according to the Scriptures. Next he said, "Do you believe in the saints, and pray to them?" To which their answer was, ' We believe the communion of saints, but we do not pray to them, but to God only, in the name of Jesus.' His next question was, whether they did believe in the Catholic church? And they answered, they did believe the true church of Christ, ' but the word Catholic, (said they), we have not read in Scripture.' He also asked if they believed in purgatory, to which they said, ' No; but a heaven and a hell.' Then one of the friars, who was an Englishman, said, we were commanded to pray for the dead; for, those that are in heaven have no need; and for those that are in hell, there is no redemption; therefore there must be a purgatory: and he asked if they believed the holy sacrament; to which their answer was, they never read the word sacrament in Scripture. The friar replied, ' Where you read in your bibles sanctification, it is sacrament in ours.' And he said, their holy sacrament was bread and wine, which they converted into the flesh and blood of Christ, by the virtue of Christ. 'Then,' said the women, ' you work miracles, for Christ's virtue is the same as it was when he turned water into wine, at the marriage in Cana.' The friar said, ' If we do not eat the flesh, and drink the blood of the Son of God, we have no life in us.' They replied, 'The flesh and blood of Christ is spiritual, and we do feed upon it daily; for that which is begotten of God in us, can no more live without spiritual food, than our temporal bodies can without temporal food.' Then he said, ' You never hear mass.' 'But we,' said they, 'hear the voice of Christ; he only has the words of eternal life; and that is sufficient for us.' He said, ' You are heretics and heathens;' to which they replied, 'They are heretics that live in sin and wickedness, and such are heathens that know not God.' Then it was asked them who was the head of their church' they told him, 'Christ.' It was further asked what George Fox was; and they said, 'He is a minister of Christ.' And it being asked whether he sent them, their answer was, 'No; the Lord did move us to come.' Then the friar said, 'You are deceived, and have not the faith, though you had all virtues.' And they replied, 'Faith is the ground from which virtues proceed.' At which point it was told them, if they would take the holy sacrament they might have their liberty; or else the pope would not surrender them for millions in gold, but they should lose their souls and bodies too. To this they said, 'The Lord has provided for our souls, and our bodies are freely given up to serve him.' Then it was asked them if they did not believe marriage was a sacrament; and they answered, it was an ordinance of God. It was further asked if they believed men could forgive sins; and their answer was, that none could forgive sins but God only. After some other words to and fro, the women asked, ' Where have we wronged you, that we should be kept prisoners all the days of our life ? Our innocent blood will be required at your hands.' The friar said he would take their blood upon him. They replied, the time would come he should find he had enough upon him without it. Then it was told them the pope was Christ's vicar, and what he did was for the good of their souls. To which they answered, 'The Lord has not committed the charge of our souls to the pope; nor to you either; for he has taken them into his own possession — glory be to his name forever.' Then it was said unto them they must be obedient. And they replied, they were obedient to the government of Christ's Spirit or light. The friar said, 'None have the true light but the Catholics; the light that you have is the spirit of the devil.' ' Woe, (said they), to him that curses Jesus; can the devil give power over sin and iniquity? That would destroy his own kingdom.' ' You,' replied the friar, ' are laughed at and mocked of every one.' 'But,' said they, 'what will become of the mockers?' 'It was no matter,' he said; 'you run about to preach, and have not the true faith. They replied, 'The true faith is held in a pure conscience, void of offence towards God and men. Every one has the true faith, that believes in God, and in Jesus Christ whom he has sent; but they that say they do believe, and do not keep his commandments, are liars, and the truth is not in them.' The friar confessed this to be true, though he was continually very troublesome to them with threats, to make them turn; and to this end they were locked up in a room, so exceedingly hot, that it was said it was impossible they could live long in it. They were also so exceedingly stung by gnats, when they lay in bed, that their faces became swelled, as if they had been sick of the small-pox, so that many began to be afraid of them; and the friar said to Sarah, he spied an evil spirit in her face.
At another time being examined, they were asked how many of their friends were gone forth into the ministry, and into what parts; they answering to that query what they knew, it was told them, all that came where the pope had anything to do, should never go back again. But they said, the Lord was as sufficient for them, as he was for the children in the fiery furnace, and their trust was in God. Catharine being sickly, was asked why she looked so; whether her spirit was weak. She answered, 'No; my body is weak, because I eat no meat.' The friar hearing this, offered her a license to eat flesh; for it was in their Lent. But she refused this, and said, she could not eat anything at all. And going afterwards to bed, she lay there night and day for twelve days together, fasting and sweating, for she was in much affliction, and great was her agony. After having laid ten days, there came to her two friars, the chancellor, the man with the black rod, a physician, and the keeper. One of the friars commanded Sarah to go out of the room, and then pulled Catharine's hand out of the bed, and said, 'Is the devil so great in you, that you cannot speak?' To which she said, 'Depart from me you worker of iniquity; the power of the Lord is upon me, and do you call him a devil?' At which point he took his crucifix to strike her on the mouth; and she asked him whether it were that cross that crucified Paul to the world, and the world unto him. This ignorant monk said it was. But she denied it, and said, 'the Lord has made me a witness for himself, against all workers of iniquity.' He then told her be obedient and went to strike her, at which she said, 'Will you strike me?' And he saying he would, she further said, 'You are out of the apostles' doctrine for they were no strikers. I deny you to be any of them who went in the name of the Lord.' To which he said, he had brought her a physician in charity; and she replied, 'The Lord is my physician, and my saving health.' The monk growing angry, said she would be whipped, and quartered,* and burnt that night at Malta, and her mate too. But she told him modestly, she did not fear; the Lord was on their side; and he had no power but what he had received; and if he did not use it to the same end the Lord gave it him, the Lord would judge him. At these words they were all struck dumb, and went away. Then the friar went to Sarah, and told her that Catharine called him a worker of iniquity. 'Did she;' said Sarah, 'are you without sin?' To which he said he was. 'Then,' replied Sarah, 'she has wronged you.' [but of course he was not; you can't persecute people who disagree with your opinion and be without sin. This monk was either a blatant liar, or had no concept of what sin was.]
Late in the evening, something was proclaimed at the prison gate, by beating of a drum, and early in the morning some came again with a drum, and guns. It seems to me that this was done on purpose to frighten these poor women, and to make them believe they should be put to death; for indeed they looked for little else, having for several weeks expected that they should be led to the stake; but they were fully resigned, and given up to what the Lord might be pleased to permit. In the meanwhile Catharine continued sick, the friar came again with the physician. But she told him that she could not take anything, unless she felt freedom. He then said, they must never come forth of that room while they lived; and pretending to be kind to them, he further said, 'You may thank God and me, that it is no worse; for it was likely to be worse.' At which point they said, that if they had died, they had died as innocent as ever any servants of the Lord. He then said that it was well they were innocent; and turning to Sarah, told her take notice what torment Catharine should be in at the hour of death; saying, thousands of devils would fetch her soul to hell. But Sarah told him that she did not fear any such thing. He then asked Catharine if she did not think it expedient for the elders of the church to pray over the sick. And she said, 'Yes, such as are moved of the Spirit of the Lord.' He then fell down on his knees, and did howl, and wish bitter wishes upon himself, if he had not the true faith. The physician in the meanwhile was enraged, because she did not bow to him. Now while Catharine was sick, Sarah was not without great affliction; for it grieved her to see her dear companion so ill; and she easily foresaw that if Catharine died, her own sufferings would be heavier. But yet she was given up to the will of the Lord and would not in the least grudge at Catharine's eternal rest. But in time Catharine began to mend and grow hungry; and eating, she was refreshed. But the room where they were locked was so excessively hot, that they were often disposed to rise out of their bed, and lie down at the chink of the door for air to fetch breath; and this heat was the greater, because it came not only from without, but within also: which so affected them that their skin was parched, the hair fell off their heads, and they fainted often; and their afflictions were so great, that when it was day they wished for night, and when it was night, they wished for day; yes, through human weakness, they desired death, eating their bread weeping, and mingling their drink with tears. Once Catharine asked the monks, who came to her with a physician, and said it was in charity, whether they did not keep them in that hot room to kill them, and bring a physician, to keep them longer alive? To this the friar said, the inquisitor would lose his head if he should take them then; and it was better to keep them there, than to kill them. Then they wrote to the inquisitor, and laid their innocence before him; and said also, if it were their blood they thirsted after, they might take it any other way, as well as to smother them in that hot room. But this so incensed him, that he sent the friar to them, who took away their ink-horns, their bibles being taken from them before. They asked then, why their goods were taken away; to which it was answered, 'All is ours, and your lives too, if we will.' Then they asked how they had forfeited their lives; to which it was told them, ' For bringing books and papers.' They replied, if there were anything in them that was not true, they might write against it. To this the monk said, 'they scorned to write to fools and asses, that did not know true Latin.' And it was further told them, the inquisitor would have them separated, because Catharine was weak, and she should go into a cooler room; but Sarah should abide there. Then Catharine took Sarah by the arm, and said, 'The Lord has joined us together, and woe be to those who part us. I had rather die here with my friend than part from her.' This so struck the friar that he went away and came no more in five weeks, and the door of their room was not opened in all that time.
Then the monks came again to part them, but Catharine was sick, and broken out from head to foot. They then sent for a doctor, and he said that they must have air, or else they must die. This was told the inquisitor, and he ordered the door to be set open six hours in a day. But ten weeks after they were separated; which was such a grievous affliction, that they declared death itself would not have been so hard to them. But the monks said they corrupted each other, and that being separated, they would bow and submit. But they saw themselves disappointed; for the women were stronger afterwards than before, the Lord fitting them for every condition. Before they were separated, the friars brought them a scourge of small hempen cords, asking them if they would have it; and saying they were used to whip themselves till the blood came. But the women said, that could not reach the devil; he sat upon the heart. Then the monks said, 'All the people of Malta are for you; if you will be Catholics, none but will like you.' To which they returned, 'The Lord has changed us into that which changes not.' The monks then said, ‘All our holy women pray for you; and you shall be honored of all the world, if you will turn.' They replied, 'The world lies in wickedness; and the honor and glory of the world we have denied.' To this the monks said, ' You shall be honored of God too; but now you are hated of all.' 'This,' said one of the women, 'is an evident token whose servants we are. The servant is not greater than his Lord.' Once, on a First day of the week, the friars came, and commanded them to kneel down with them to prayer. They signified they could pray but as they were moved by the Lord. Then the friars commanded them the second time, kneeled down by their bed-side, and prayed after their manner; which being done, they said to the women. 'We have tried your spirits; now we know what spirit you are of.' But they told them they could not know that, unless their minds were turned to the light of Christ in their consciences. The English friar then growing angry, showed them his crucifix, and told them look on it. But they told him, the Lord said, "You shall not make to thyself the likeness of anything that is in heaven above or in the earth beneath, or is the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them, nor worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God." The friar seeing Sarah speak so boldly to him, called for the irons to chain her. She then bowed her head, and said to him, 'Not only my hands and feet, but my neck also for the testimony of Jesus.' The friar seeming appeased, said he would do them any good he could for he saw what they did was not in malice. And the friars came often, and said to them, ' If you would do but a little you should be set at liberty; but you will do nothing at all, but are against everything.' To which they returned, that they would do anything that might tend to God's glory.
While they were imprisoned here, it happened that the inquisition house was new built or repaired, which took up about the space of a year and a half; and during this time, some of the great ones came often to see the building, which gave opportunity to these women to speak to them, and to declare the Truth in the name of the Lord. Now, though they were threatened by the monks for preaching the light of Christ so boldly, yet not only the magistrates, but the lord inquisitor grew moderate towards them, and gave orders that they should have pens, ink, and paper, to write to England. And they seemed inclined to have them set at liberty; but the friars worked mightily against it; and had labored about three quarters of a year to part them, before they could bring it to pass. And when at length they had effected it, they told Catharine that they should never see one another's faces again. In the meanwhile Catharine being sickly, had little stomach to eat, and had no mind to eat anything but what came from Sarah to her. And having told one of the friars that she wanted somebody to wash her linen, and to prepare some warm victuals for her, he sent to Sarah to know if she would do it for her; and she said she would. And by that means they for some weeks heard of one another every day; and the friar said once to Catharine, ' You may free yourself of misery when you will; you may make yourself a Catholic and have your freedom to go where you will;' to which she told him, ' Thus I might have a name that I did live when I was dead; you have Catholics enough already. Endeavor to bring some of them to the light in their consciences, that they may stand in awe and sin not.' But he was so eager, that he said he would lose one of his fingers if she and Sarah would be Catholics. Then she told him it was Babylon that was built with blood, but Zion was redeemed through judgment.
Many ways were used to draw them off, and once they would have persuaded her to set a picture at her bed's head for a representation; but she said, as with abhorrence, 'What, do you think I want a calf to worship? Do you walk by the rule of Scriptures?' To which the friar said, 'We do; but we have traditions too.' She replied, 'If your traditions derogate or dissent, from the fundamentals of Christ's doctrine, the prophets, and apostles, I deny them in the name of the Lord.' But he asserted that they did not. Then she asked what rule they had to burn those that could not join with them for conscience-sake; and he returned, 'St. Paul did worse, for he gave them to the devil;'* and further said, that they did judge all damned that were not of their faith. Then she objected to him several of the superstitious rites of the church of Rome, and mentioned also the forbidding of marriage, which, said she is a doctrine of devils, according to the saying of the apostle. The friar being put to a nonplus, told her that St. Peter was the pope of Rome, and did build an altar there, and the pope was his successor, and he could do what he would. But she refuted this with sound reason. He then boasting of the antiquity of their church, she signified that the church she was of, was yet older; ' For,' said she, ' our faith was from the beginning; and Abel was of our church.' The friar being at a loss, and no longer able to hold out against Catharine, went to Sarah, and talked with her at the same rate. She also told him Abel was of our church; to which he said, 'Abel was a Catholic;' and quite overshooting himself, he said likewise, 'And Cain and Judas were so.' To which Sarah returned, 'Then the devil was a Catholic; and I will not be one. I will not turn, though you would tear me to pieces, I believe the Lord would enable me to endure it.'
At another time the said friar, whose name was Malachy, came again to Catharine, and told her if she would be a Catholic, she should say so; otherwise they would use her badly, and she should never see the face of Sarah again, but should die by herself, and a thousand devils should carry her soul to hell. She then asked him if he were the messenger of God to her; and he said, ' Yes.' ' Why, what is my sin,' said she, 'or where have I provoked the Lord, that he does send me such a message?' ' It is,' returned the monk, 'because you will not be a Catholic.' Whereupon she said, 'I deny you and your message too, and the spirit which speaks in you for the Lord never spoke so.' He growing angry, said that he would lay her in a whole pile of chains where she should see neither sun nor moon. She intimating how resigned she was, said he could not separate her from the love of God in Christ Jesus, lay her wherever he would. And he further saying he would give her to the devil, she resumed, ' I do not fear all the devils in hell; the Lord is my keeper. Though you had the inquisition with all the countries round about it on your side, and I was alone by myself, I do not fear them; if they were thousands more, the Lord is on my right hand; and the worst they can do, is but to kill the body; they can touch my life no more than the devil could Job's.' Then the monk said she should never go out of that room alive. To which she courageously said, 'The Lord is sufficient to deliver me; but whether he will or not, I will not forsake the living fountain, to drink at a broken cistern. And you have no law to keep us here, but such a law as Ahab had for Naboth's vineyard.' The monk then cursing himself, and calling upon his gods, ran away; and as he was pulling the door, he said, 'Abide there, member of the devil.'
To which she said, 'The devil's members do the devil's works; and the woes and plagues of the Lord will be upon them for it.'
He then went and told the inquisitor of it, who laughed at him; and before he came again, Catharine was moved out of that room. When he came, he brought one of the inquisitor's men with him and two very good hens and said that the lord inquisitor had sent them in love to her. To which she said, she received his love, but yet she showed herself not very ready to accept them; and signified that she was willing to pay for them, being loath to be chargeable to any, while she had of her own. The friar, who it seems would have had them lay down their money at his feet, said they must not count anything their own, for in the primitive times they sold their possessions, and laid them down at the apostles' feet. He further said, 'You shall not want anything, though we should spend a thousand crowns. But you are proud, because you will not take the inquisitor's hens which he sent you in charity.' She then asking what kind of charity this was, since he kept her in prison; the friar said, it was for the good of their souls he kept them in prison; further adding, 'If you had not been going to preach, you might have gone where you would.' She replied. 'Our souls are out of the inquisitor's reach. Why should your love extend more to us than to your own family for they commit all manner of sin, which you cannot charge us with. Why do not you put them into the inquisition, and bid them turn?' He then said, 'You have not the true faith;' and showing her his crucifix, asked her, if she thought he did worship that; and she asked him, what then did he with it; to which he answered, it was a representation. And she replied, it did not represent Christ, for he was the express image of his Father's glory, which is light and life. ' But,' continued she, 'if you can put any life in any of your images, then bring them to me. What representation had Daniel in the lions' den, or Jonah in the whale's belly? They cried unto the Lord, and he delivered them.' The friar, who could not abide to hear her speak so much against idols, said she talked like a mad woman, adding, 'I will give you to the devil.' She not fearing this, said, 'Give your own, I am the Lord's.' He then stood up, and said, 'I will do to you as the apostles did to Ananias and Sapphira.' She then standing up also, said, 'I deny you in the name of the Lord, the living God; you have no power over me.' Then away he went with the hens to Sarah, and told her that Catharine was sick, and the lord inquisitor had sent two hens, and she would be glad to eat a piece of one, if she would dress one of them presently, and the other tomorrow. Sarah no less circumspect and cautious than Catharine, and unwilling to receive this gift before she knew what might be expedient, answered him accordingly as Catharine did. Then he carried the hens away again, saying, ' You would willingly be burnt because you would make the world believe that you love God so well as to suffer in that kind.' Catharine hearing this, said, 'I do not desire to be burnt; but if the Lord should call me to it, I believe he will give me power to undergo it for his Truth; and if every hair of my head was a body, I could offer them all up for the testimony of Jesus.'
The friar coming afterwards, again asked Catharine whether she had not been inspired of the Holy Ghost to be a Catholic, since she came into the inquisition. She said, 'No;' but he maintaining the contrary, said, ' You are those who call the Spirit of the Holy Ghost the Spirit of the devil.' ' No,' replied they, (who though they were parted yet could hear one another), ' the Spirit of the Holy Ghost in us will resist the devil; and the inspiration of the Holy Ghost is not wrought in the will of man, nor in man's time; but in God's will and time.' More discourse they had about this matter, and then asking for their bibles, which had been taken from them, he said they should never see them again, for they were false. Thus they were often troubled and importuned by the friars, who generally came two at a time, though sometimes but one. One of these often lifted up his hand to strike them, but did not for they not being moved by fear, he was put out of countenance, and would say they were good women, and he would do them any good. As indeed sometimes he did work for them, and would say it was for God's sake, and that they ought to thank him for it; to which they replied, those that did anything for God, did not look for a reward from man; which once made him so angry, that he said they were the worst of all creatures, and that they should be used worse than the Turks, Armenians, and Lutherans. Whereupon one of them said, 'The pure life was ever counted the worst; and if we must suffer, we are the Lord's, and can trust him. Do what you will with us, we do not fear any evil tidings. We are settled and grounded in Truth; and the more you persecute us, the stronger we grow;' for this they experienced indeed, according to what they signified in their letters, though they were separated a year from each other. The friars coming once to Sarah, told her if she would, she might go out of the prison, and say and do nothing. And she saying she would on that account, they said they would come next morning. But Sarah perceived their deceit, and therefore when they came, she, to avoid the snare, could not resolve to go forth, though the friars behaved themselves friendly, and told her that the inquisition had said, if they wanted linen, woolen, stockings, shoes, or money, they should have it.
Once it happened that an Englishman who lived there, having heard that Sarah was in a room with a window next the street, got up by the wall, and spoke a few words to her; but he was violently hauled down, and cast into prison upon life and death; for he was one they had taken from the Turks, and made a Papist of him. The friars coming to them to know whether he had brought them any letters, they said ' No.' Neither had Catharine seen him; yet it was told them he was likely to be hung. Of this Sarah gave information to Catharine by writing a few lines to her, (for it seems they then could not hear one another), and she told her, she thought the English friars were the chief actors of this business. This grieved Catharine, and she wrote to Sarah again. (For they had a private way to send to each other.) In this letter, after her salutation, she said to Sarah, that she might be sure the friars were the chief actors; but that she believed the Lord would preserve that poor Englishman for his love, and that she was made to seek the Lord for him with tears; and that she desired her to send him something once a day, if the keeper would carry it; that she herself was ravished with the love of God to her soul, and her beloved was the greatest of ten thousands; and that she did not fear the face of any man, though she felt their arrows. Moreover that she had a prospect of their safe return into England. And in the conclusion, she told Sarah take heed, if she was tempted with money. But this letter, (by what means they never knew), came to the English friar's hands, who translating it into Italian, delivered it to the lord inquisitor; and afterwards came with the inquisitor's deputy to Catharine, and showed her both the papers, and asked her if she could read it; that is, the English one. 'Yes,' said she, ' I wrote it.' 'O, did you indeed ?' said he. 'And what is it you say of me here?' 'Nothing but what is true,' replied she. Then he said, 'Where is the paper Sarah sent? Give it, or else I will search your trunk, and everywhere else.' She then told him to search where he would. He said, she must tell him who it was that brought her ink, or else she should be tied with chains presently. And she returned she had done nothing but what was just and right in the sight of God; and what she did suffer on that account would be for Truth's sake, and she would not meddle with the poor workmen. Then he said, 'For God's sake tell me what Sarah wrote.' And she told him something, and said, what she spoke was truth. 'But,' returned he, 'you say it is much that we do not tempt you with money.' And this indeed happened afterwards. The deputy then took Catharine's ink, and threw it away; and so they went also; and the poor Englishman was released the next morning. They now coming to Sarah, told her that Catharine honestly had confessed all, and that she had best to confess too; and they threatened her with a halter, and that they would take away her bed and trunk, and her money too. To which Sarah said, it may be she might not write to Catharine any more; and she asked the deputy, whether he was a minister of Christ, or a magistrate; if he were a magistrate, said she, he might take her money, but she would not give it him. He then growing angry, said she was possessed; to which she replied, if so, then it was with the power of an endless life.
Thus from time to time they suffered many assaults; and sometimes it so happened that those who came to see them, were struck to the heart, which offended the friars. Now at length their money was almost gone, they having sometimes employed it for victuals. But the friars told them they might have kept their money for other services; for they should have maintained them while they kept them prisoners. To this they said they could not keep their money and be chargeable to others. Then it so fell out that their stomachs were taken away, and they did eat but little for three or four weeks, till at length they found themselves obliged to fast for several days together; which made the friars say, that it was impossible that people could live with so little food as they did. And it was told them the lord inquisitor had said, they might have anything they would. To which they signifying that it was not in their own will they fasted, said they must wait to know the mind of the Lord, what he would have them to do. They continued weak, especially Sarah, who apprehending her death near, did therefore dress her head as she would lie in the grave. They both were so feeble that they could not put on their clothes, neither put them off, being also unable to make their beds. And though they desired to be together in one room, yet the friars -would not permit it. In this condition they concluded they were like to die; but heaven had provided otherwise.
Catharine about that time, being exercised in supplication to the Lord, that it might please him to put an end to their trial, which way it seemed good in his sight, thought she heard a voice saying, 'You shall not die;' and she took this to be a heavenly voice; and from that time they felt themselves refreshed with the living presence of the Lord, to their great joy and comfort, so that they felt freedom to eat again. Then they were provided with good victuals; but yet they were under a fear of eating anything which in some respect might be counted unclean; and therefore they cried unto the Lord, and said, 'We had rather die than eat anything that is polluted and unclean.' And Catharine believed it was said to her from the Lord, ' You may as freely eat, as if you had wrought for it with your hands. And Sarah, who sometimes had wrought for others in the inquisition house, was persuaded that it was told her by inspiration, "You shall eat the fruit of your hands, and be blessed." And so they did eat, and for eight or ten days they got whatever they asked for. But afterwards they were so stressed for lack of food, that it did them more hurt than their fast. Yet they being preserved alive, the friar said, 'The Lord keeps them alive by his mighty power because they should be Catholics.' To which they returned, it should be known one day the Lord had another end in it. But the friars told them plainly there was no redemption for them. Whereupon they said, With the Lord there was mercy and plenteous redemption; and they told them take heed, 'you are not found fighters against God.' To which the friars returned, ' You are foolish women.' ' Then we are,' replied they, 'the Lord's fools; and they are dear and precious in his sight.' The friars then showing their shaven crowns, said that they were the Lord's fools; and, pointing to their gowns, said they wore them for God's sake to be laughed at by the world. One of the friars about this time did what he could to send Catharine to Rome; and not succeeding, he said they should both go. But this not taking edict, the friar was sent there with a paper to the Pope, containing matter of charge against Catharine; but she speaking zealously to the scribe, pronounced woe against it, and defied it in the name of the Lord. Before the friar departed, he told Sarah that Catharine was a witch, and that she knew what was done elsewhere. He said this because once telling Catharine abundance of lies, she told him she had a witness for God in her, which was faithful and true; and she believed this witness.
After he was gone, the English consul came to her with a dollar from the master of a ship, who came from Plymouth. She told him she did receive her countryman's love, but could not receive his money. He then asked her what she would do if she would take no money; to which she answered. 'The Lord is my portion, and thus I cannot lack any good thing. We were in your house near fifteen weeks, did you see any cause of death and bonds in us?' And he saying No, she signified to him, that in some respect he had been accessory to their imprisonment, and had not been ignorant of the intent. ' You knew, said she, 'that a room was provided for us in the inquisition; and had we not been kept alive by the mighty power of God, we might have been dead long since.' Endeavoring to excuse himself, he said, ' How could I help it!' Then she put him in mind of what happened at his house, when they were there, and how they called them to repentance, and forewarned them. To which he said, 'However it is, it will go well with you.' Then she told him how he required a sign of her, when they were at his house, if they were the servants of the Lord God; and she asked him whether that was not true they spoke to him; 'You are a condemned person, and stand guilty before God; yet nevertheless repent, if you can find a place.' While she thus spoke to him. His lips quivered, and he trembled, so that he could scarcely stand upon his legs; and though otherwise a very handsome man, and in his prime, yet he now looked as one that was pining away; and this was a sufficient sign for the whole city, if they had duly taken notice of it. Catharine having refused the piece of money, he went to Sarah with it; but she likewise told him she could not take it; but if he had a letter for them she would be free to receive it. He saying he had not any, asked her what she did want; and she answered, the Lord was her shepherd, she could not want any good thing; but she did long for her freedom. He, not willing to discourage her, said, ' That you may have in time.' But he did not live to see it, for the next time they heard of him he was dead.
While the friar was gone to Rome, it was told them they were also to be sent there; and there was indeed great working about it; but it seems they could not agree in the matter. In the meanwhile Catharine and Sarah remained separated, and there were five doors between them with locks and bolts; and yet Sarah sometimes found an opportunity either by the carelessness of the keeper, or that it was done on purpose, to come where she could see Catharine; and however much the friars watched them, yet she came to Catharine's door by night. But being once discovered, she was locked up again; yet not long after the doors were again open, so that they sat in sight of each other.
Sometimes there were prisoners of many nations brought into the inquisition; and the friars, and other great men, endeavored in their way, to make Christians of them. Then these women would often show the errors of popery, and declare the Truth, for which they were willing to suffer death, if required; but this was received very badly. At length it happened that two Englishmen came into the city, and tried to obtain their liberty, but in vain. Yet a little while after, the magistrates sent for and asked them whether they were sick; or whether they did want any thing; saying they might write to England, ordering the scribe to give them ink and paper.
Not long after came Francis Stewart, a captain of a ship, and a friar of Ireland, who both took great pains to get them released; and their friends in England had not been failing to do anything that might procure their liberty. But the time for it was not yet come. The said captain, and the new English consul, endeavored much to procure their liberty; but it was not in the magistrates' power, for the inquisitor said, he could not set them free, without an order from the pope. Yet Catharine and Sarah were brought into the court chamber, and the English consul asked them if they were willing to go back to England, and they said, 'Yes, if it were the will of God they might.' The captain of the ship, who also was there, spoke to them with tears in his eyes, and told them what he had done in their behalf, but in vain. 'It is the inquisitor,' said he, 'who will not let you go free You have preached among these people.' To which they said, that they had witnessed the Truth, which they were willing to maintain with their blood. He replied, if they could be set free, he would freely give them their passage, and provide for them. And they returned, his love was as well accepted of the Lord, as if he did carry them. He also offered them money, but they refused to take any. They then gave him a relation of their imprisonment and sufferings, and said they could not change their minds, though they were to be burnt to ashes, or chopped in small pieces. The friar then drawing near, said they did not work; but this was not true, for they had work of their own, and did work as they were able. They also told him their work and business was in England. He confessing this was true, said they had suffered long enough, and too long, and that they should have their freedom within a short time, but that they lacked an order from the pope. In the meanwhile it grieved the captain that he could not obtain their liberty; and going away, he prayed God to comfort them; and they besought the Lord to bless and preserve him unto everlasting life, and never to let him, nor his, go without a blessing from him, for his love. For he risked himself exceedingly in that place, by laboring to get their freedom.
After he was gone, they met with worse usage, and the inquisitor coming, looked upon them with indignation; for the taking away of their lives was again on discussed, and their doors were shut up for many weeks. After some time the inquisitor came again into the tower where they sat; and Sarah called to him, and desired the door might be opened for them to go down into the court to wash their clothes. He then ordered the door to be opened once a week; and not long after it was open every day. And since it had been said that they could not be released without the pope's permission, Sarah said to him, 'If we are the pope's prisoners, we appeal to the pope; send us therefore to him.' But those that had their abode in the inquisition, especially the friars, were their mortal enemies, although they would sometimes have fed them with the best of their victuals, and given them whole bottles of wine, if they would have received it; and it troubled them exceedingly, that they refused to eat and drink with them; which they did refuse because they looked upon them as their fierce persecutors.
Once two or three English ships came into the harbor, and the English consul telling them of it, said, that he did what he could for them, but that they would not let them go, unless they would turn Catholics, and that therefore they must suffer more imprisonment yet. Before Sarah knew these ships had come there, she saw them in the night in a dream, and heard a voice saying that they could not go yet. When the ships were gone, they were sent for, and it was asked them if they would be Catholics; to which they answered, they were true Christians, and had received the Spirit of Christ. One of the magistrates showing them the cross, they told him, they did take up the cross of Christ daily, which was the power of God to crucify sin and iniquity. Knowing that there was a friar, who, as the captain had told them, took a great deal of pains for them, but not seeing him there, (for he secretly favoring them, was now absent), they said to those that were present, 'One of your fathers has promised us our liberty.' But this produced nothing. Yet they acknowledged his kindness, and told him afterwards, he would never have cause to repent of it. A friar once coming to them, said, 'It is God's will you should be kept here, or else we could not keep you.' On which Catharine told him, 'The Lord allows wicked men to do wickedness, but he does not will them to do it; he allowed Herod to take off John the Baptist's head, but he did not will him to do it. He allowed Stephen to be stoned, and Judas to betray Christ; but he did not will them to do so; for if he had, he would not have condemned them for it.' The friar then asking, 'Are we then wicked men?' She answered, 'They are wicked men that work wickedness.' 'But,' said he, 'you do not have the true faith.' To which she answered, 'By faith we stand, and by the power of God we are upheld. Do you think it is by our own power and holiness we are kept from a vain conversation, from sin and wickedness?' He then saying that was their pride, she told him, 'We can glory in the Lord; we were children of wrath once as well as others; but the Lord has quickened us that were dead, by the living word of his grace, and has washed, cleansed, and sanctified us in soul and spirit, in part, according to our measures; and we do press forward towards that which is perfect.' He then said, ' You are good women; but yet there is no redemption for you, unless you will be Catholics.' This was the old lesson of the friars, who, at another time, said, 'You may be Catholics, and keep your own religion too, and yet shall not be known to be Catholics, except you were brought before a justice.' To which they returned, 'What, should we profess a Christ we should be ashamed of?'
Some of those that came to see them would pity them for not turning Catholics; but others showed their hatred, by crying that they must be burnt, and by bawling, ' Fuoco, fuoco,' (fire, fire.) While they were separated from each other, Catharine was often much concerned for Sarah, and afraid that she should be ensnared; for one of the friars many times accosted her with fawning words. But they both continued steadfast, and were often ravished by the inward joy and consolation they felt. Catharine in one of her letters said, that the spirit of prayer was once upon her, but that she was afraid to speak to the Lord, for fear she should speak one word that would not please him. And then it was returned from the Lord, 'Fear not, daughter of Zion; ask what you will, and I will grant it you, whatever your heart can wish.' But she desired nothing of the Lord, but what would make for his glory, whether it was her liberty, or bondage, life or death. And in this resigned state she found herself accepted of the Lord.
Sometimes they spoke so effectually to those that came to them, that they could not oppose them, but were made to confess that God was with them; though others would make a hideous noise, and cry, 'Jesus Maria,' and run away, as people that were struck with fear. Catharine's prison being so near the street, that she could be heard of those that went by, she was moved sometimes to call them to repentance, and to turn to the light with which they were enlightened, which would lead them out of all their wicked ways and works, to serve the true and living God, in spirit and in truth. This so reached some, that they sighed and groaned, and stood to hear her; but not long, it being forbidden upon great pain. Yet some that passed by to their worship-houses were so wicked, that they threw stones at her window, and often made a sad noise, and howled like dogs.
Thus they were assaulted both from outside, and inside from the friars, who fiercely threatened them for their bold testimony against idolatry. Once when they showed Sarah the Virgin Mary and her babe pictured against a wall, and would have her look upon it, she, to show her zeal against idol-worship, stamped with her foot and said, 'Cursed are all images, and image-makers, and those that fall down to worship them.'
It happened that some French and Spanish ships came to join with the cavaliers of Malta, to fight against the Turks; Sarah hearing this said, 'God is angry, God is angry; go not forth to kill one another; Christ came not to destroy life, but to save it.' This she told many who were persuaded of obtaining a victory; but it fell out otherwise, for their fleet was beaten by the Turks, and they returned with great damage.
A friar coming once to Catharine, asked her why she did not work; which made her to say to him, ' What work do you do?' He answered, ' I write.' To which she returned, 'I will write too, if you will bring me pen, ink, and paper.' He not willing she should write, said, 'St. Paul did work at Rome; and by knitting she might get about three half-pence a day.' She told him, 'If we could have that privilege among you, which Paul had at Rome under Caesar, who was a heathen prince, we would have wrought, and not have been chargeable to any; for he lived in his own hired house two years, preaching the gospel, and doctrine of the Lord Jesus Christ.' She asked him also, whether he knew the holy war of God? 'And if you know it,' said she, 'then you cannot but know that we cannot be without exercise day nor night.' This stopped his mouth; besides it was well known that they spent not their time idly for they knit stockings for those that were serviceable to them; they made garments for the poor prisoners, and mended their clothes; though they were not willing to work for the friars, who sometimes coming to her, kneeled down, and would have Catharine to say after them the words they spoke. But this she refused to do, though it made these men grow more angry. Such and the like occurrences so grieved her, that once in anguish of spirit she cried out to God, 'It would be better for me to die than to live like this.' For being almost continually constrained to testify against idolatry and superstition, she would have been willing to have laid down her life for a testimony against it, if it had been required of her. And when once the friars told her that Sarah was to be carried to Rome, while she should stay at Malta, it so grieved her, that with supplication, she asked the Lord if he did not count her worthy to go to Rome also, and to offer up her life there for the testimony of Jesus because, if she was at liberty to choose, she would rather do so, than return without her to England.
At another time, when it was told them that their bibles were false, Catharine asked the friar that said so, ' Where are they false ?' He replied, because the books of the Maccabees were not in them. To which she answered, 'that though something might be wanting, yet the rest might be good for all that; but if something were added, then the bible was corrupted.' This struck at some additions she had seen in the bibles there. Then he asked her whether she did not think that every one must bow at the name of Jesus; and she answering, ' Yes,' he said, 'Jesus,' and told her to kneel down, or to bow herself. To which she said, that her heart and whole body was bowed down under the name of Jesus; but that she would not bow at the will of him, or anybody else. 'He that departs from iniquity, (thus she continued), bows before the name of Jesus; but they that live in sin and wickedness, do not bow before the Son of God:' Then he said, that he and his companions stood in the same power, and were led by the same spirit as the apostles. Which made her ask, why then they abused that power, and used carnal weapons? He answered, they did not do so, for their inquisition, no, even their chains and fetters were spiritual.* Then he asked her, 'whether she did not think all those damned that were not of her persuasion; she said, 'No, Christ has not taught us so; for those that are today in a state of reprobation, the Lord, if it please him, can call tomorrow out of it.' He then said, 'We think you are damned, and all those that are not of our belief.' To which she returned, 'The judgment of man does not hurt us.'
Sometimes some came to the prison upon their saints' days, and asked them what day it was; and they not being acquainted with those saints, would answer, 'We do not know it.' When the others then told them, that it was such or such a saint's day, and that this saint would punish them that night because they did not observe his day; they answered that they knew the saints to be at peace with them, and that therefore they did not fear them. Another time a friar came and told them, it was seventeen days to Christmas, and that the Virgin Mary conceived that present day. On which Catharine made this pretty remark, that indeed this was very singular, that she did go with child but seventeen days. Such like occurrences grieved her exceedingly, when she considered the gross darkness these people were in; and as she was crying to the Lord in prayer, that it seemed that all their travail and labor was fruitless, she felt this answer: ‘Be not grieved, though Israel be not gathered, the seed of Malta is to increase into multitude; that which you have sown shall not die, but live.'
After Catharine and Sarah had been imprisoned at Malta about three years, there came one Daniel Baker, who did whatever he could, and went also to the inquisitor, to obtain their liberty, but in vain; for he required that some English merchants at Leghorn, or at Messina, should engage for four thousand dollars, that they being released, should never return into those parts. But they were unwilling to enter into those terms, as not knowing what the Lord one time or other might require of them. Daniel, seeing he could not obtain their deliverance this way, offered himself to be imprisoned instead of them; and this not being accepted, he went yet further, and signified, that he was willing to lay down his life for their liberty, if it was not to be purchased otherwise. Great love indeed! Of which there are few instances to be found. And they hearing of this, were touched with exceeding great admiration. In the meanwhile, he found a way to get some letters delivered to them, and wrote also himself, both to comfort and exhort them to steadfastness. At length he found means also to speak to them. For on a time, as they stood at the prison grates, he being come in their sight, saluted them in these words: 'The holy body of God's elect, right dearly beloved, owns your testimony, and you are a sweet savor unto the Lord and his people.' To which one of them answered, that it was a trouble to them that they could not be more serviceable. This made his heart melt with pity and compassion, considering the wonderful mercy of the Lord in preserving them without fainting in that sharp trial; and they beholding one another at a distance through the iron grates, were mutually refreshed at that season. They afterwards wrote to him, and signified with the most tender expressions, how highly they valued his great love; and also sent him letters for their friends and relations in England; and he neglected not to write back again to them during his stay, which was in the forepart of the year, 1662. But he was forced to leave them prisoners there; yet the time of their redemption drew near, which was brought about at the instance of George Fox and Gilbert Latey, by writing to the lord d'Aubigny.
Some time before Daniel Baker came to Malta, it had been told them, that if they would turn Catholics, they might dwell at Malta. To which their answer was, that they were true Catholics.* One of the magistrates said, that if they would not turn Catholics, they must yet suffer long imprisonment by the pope's order. And yet it was not true that there was such an order. It was also told them, if they would kiss the cross, they should be released; and they might stay at the house of the English consul, until an opportunity offered to carry them to England. In the meanwhile they heard that the pope had given order to let them pass to England without doing them any hurt. But however it was, they were preserved well contented, and they said resolutely, that they would not kiss the cross, nor purchase their liberty at that rate. It seems the consul aimed at some advantage by their release; for he told them that the inquisitor had said, if any one would engage [provide a bond] for three or four thousand dollars to be paid, if ever they came there again, they should be set at liberty. This he said also to D. Baker, and added, that if none would engage [post a bond], they must die in prison, and that this was the pope's order. After Baker's departure, word was sent to some English merchants, concerning such an engagement, but none appeared willing to enter into it; and the prisoners were so far from agreeing to it, that they spoke against it. Yet there were many that sought to obtain their liberty, showing themselves willing to engage for what was reasonable; but all their endeavors were in vain.
Once they fasted three days, and though it was a cold season, they sat upon the ground, with very little clothes, without stockings or shoes, having nothing upon their heads but ashes. The inquisitors seeing it. wondered exceedingly; and Sarah began to speak zealously against superstition and idolatry. And when the time of their fast had expired. Catharine composed the following:
After Catharine had joyfully sung thus, she went to the well in the court, and drank much water in the sight of the prisoners, as did Sarah also; for they were very dry, and Sarah washing her head also in cold water, they cried out in their language, 'You will kill yourselves, and go to the devil.' But this they did not fear, neither did they catch a cold, and so became a wonder to others.
About half a year after Daniel Baker was gone, it came into Catharine's heart, that if she could speak with the inquisitor, he would grant them their liberty. And it was not long after that he came to the inquisition court chamber, which they hearing, desired to speak with him, which was granted, and being admitted into his presence, they told him they had not wronged or defrauded any, but had suffered innocently almost four years for conscience-sake. After this the inquisitor was very courteous to them, and promised their liberty in a few days, saying he would send for the consul, and get him to engage [put up a bond] for five hundred dollars, to be paid for them if ever they came again. And in case the consul denied this, he would send to Rome to the pope, to set them at liberty without any obligation.
Not many days after the inquisitor came with his lieutenant, the chancellor, and others, and after some discourse, asked them whether they would return back again to their husbands and children, if it were the will of God. To which they answered, it was their intent in the will of God so to do. At which point they were released, and the inquisitor took his leave very courteously of them, and wished them a prosperous return to their own country; so likewise did the magistrates, and the inferior officers, not requiring one penny-worth for fees or attendance; yet in their own freedom they gave something to the keeper and some poor men.
Being thus set at liberty, they kneeled down and prayed God never to lay to their charge what they did unto them, because they knew them the came in, telling what was done in the city; and he told them that even the ships in the harbor had suffered damage. Then they said, ' One woe is past, and behold another woe comes quickly, if you do not repent.' Some days after Sarah fasted, sitting upon the ground with ashes upon her head, her neck and shoulders bare; and she spoke to the consul to desire the grand master to proclaim a fast, and to make the people to meet together to wait upon the Lord, with their minds turned to him, that so he might turn away his judgments from them; for the hour of his judgments had come, where the painted harlot should be stripped naked, and receive a cup of trembling from the hand of the Lord. The consul performed this message to the magistrates, and the friars said the woman had a good intent. Sometime after the inquisitor came, and talking with them, said, 'Your intent is good, but the devil has deceived you.' And they asked him whether the devil could give power over sin. To which he said, the devil could transform himself into an image of light. This they assented to, but yet said he could not hide himself from the children of light; though they that were in the dark could not discern him. He could not abide to hear this, but went away, and the consul, who was present, wrought against them to get them into bondage again, but in vain. Many now died in the town of a violent fever; whether any other disaster followed upon their prediction, I cannot tell. At length there came one of the king of England's frigates, called the Sapphire, commanded by captain Samuel Titswel, who took them in, together with some knights of Malta, among whom was the inquisitor's brother, who often spoke to the captain, that they might not want anything that was in the ship, and he told them, if they came to Malta again, they should not be persecuted so. And to the captain he said, ' If they go to heaven one way, and we another, yet we shall all meet together at last.' But they told him that Christ Jesus, the light of the world, was the only way to the Father.
Departing from Malta, after some time they came to Leghorn, where the merchants showed them great kindness, and sent wine and other things for their refreshment, offering them also money; but they were unwilling to accept it. From there they went to Tangier, which the king of England had in marriage with the daughter of the king of Portugal. This place was at that time besieged by the Moors, yet Catharine and Sarah entered the town, and many came flocking into the house where they were lodged, for they boldly exhorted the people to depart from wickedness. They also went to the governor, who was courteous to them, and took their admonitions in good part, and promised to follow their counsel. And he would have given them money, but they took none, though they accepted his love; for he commanded that none of the garrison should abuse them either in word or deed, upon pain of severe punishment. Yet the Portuguese and Irish [Catholics] were ready enough to have done them mischief. They being inclined to go out to the Moors, desired the governor to let them go forth, but he told them they must expect from that savage people nothing but cruel death, or bonds forever;and though they signified to him that they believed the Lord would preserve them, since they were persuaded that he required of them to go to the Moors, yet the governor in a friendly manner withheld them from going. Being thus stopped, they believed that the Lord accepted of their good will. When they went aboard again, though in another ship, several took shipping with them, from a belief, that on their account, they should have a safe passage. The captain and others that were in the ship, behaved themselves very civilly towards them; and though they met with tempests, yet at length they arrived safely in England. Catharine afterwards related, that when, (in the inquisition), she was for many days together in expectation that they should be burned, she saw in a dream in the night, a large room, and a great wood fire in the chimney, and she beheld one sitting in the chair by the fire, in the form of a servant, whom she took to be the Eternal Son of God. Likewise she saw a very amiable well-favored man-child, sitting in a hollow chair over the fire, (not appearing to be above three-quarters of a year old, and having no clothes on but a little fine linen about the upper parts), and the fire flamed about it; yet the child played, and was merry. She would then have taken it up, for fear it should have been burned; but he who sat in the chair, told her let it alone. Then turning about, she saw an angel, and he that sat in the chair told her to pick up the child, which she did, and found it had no harm; and then awaking, she told her dream to Sarah, and desired her not to fear, since the heavenly host thus followed them. I have collected this relation of the occurrences of these women at Malta, from several papers and letters, which not long after their return home were published in print. And since no due order was observed there, and many things mentioned, which to avoid being verbose, I have passed by, as not very material, I may have haply missed in some case or other, as to the order or series of time, but yet I think the matters of fuel are not mutilated. Now to give the reader an idea of the frame of these women's minds, and their sufferings, I will insert some of their letters among those which they wrote to their friends in England was this following:
This letter was signed by both of them, though perhaps Catharine was the writer, who also wrote a letter of exhortation to the popish inquisitor at Malta, and another to friar Malachy. Among the letters she wrote to her husband and children, I count the following really worthy to be delivered to posterity:
This was written in the Inquisition at Malta, in the Eleventh month, in the year 1661.
The following letter was written by Sarah to her husband, Henry Cheevers, and children.
Several other letters both she and Catharine wrote to their husbands, friends, and relations. But since great part of my narrative was taken from them, I pass them by. But by these inserted, one may see that they were not women of a dull temper, but ingenious and cheerful.
In a letter of Sarah's to her friends in Ireland, I find these words:
And in a letter to Daniel Baker, Catharine said,
This letter they concluded with the following Poem:
They composed several other poems, which fell into the hands of their enemies, and copies of them were given to the inquisitor.
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