Page:Notes and Queries - Series 11 - Volume 9.djvu/228

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222


NOTES AND QUERIES. pi s. ix. MAE. a, uu.


frobably to be found in the British Museum- mention this so that, in the improbable event of any person desiring to check my conclusions, he may have the means of doing so.

In ' The Cry of a Stone ' we have the lady's own account of herself, as taken down from her lips by the reporter of her Prayers and Songs. She was the daughter of a shipwright " who lived in Poplar, in Stepney Parish." Seven years before the date of the pamphlet she was seized with a fever, from which time, significantly enough, her religious convictions dated. She gives a long account of her religious experiences, her prophesyings, &c. ; but as these differ little from the usual things of the kind, I pass over them. She seems first to have come into public notice in January, 1653/4, upon an occasion when a Mr. Powell, a Welsh preacher, was called to account before the Council at Whitehall for some of his pulpit utterances. She went, amongst others, to Whitehall, to see what would happen to Mr. Powell. There " she was seized upon by the Lord," and

" carried forth in a spirit of Prayer & Singing, from noon till night, and went down, into Mr. Roberts lodging, who keeps the Ordinary in Whitehall : And finding her natural strength going from her, she took her bed at eleven a clock in the night, where she lay from that day, being the seventh day of the month, till the nine- teenth day of the same month, in all twelve days together : the first five days neither eating nor drinking anything more or less, and the rest of the time once in 24. hours, sometimes eat a very little toast in small Bear, sometimes only chewed it, and took down the moysture only, sometimes drank of the small Bear, and sometimes only washt her mouth therewith, and cast it out, lying in bed with her eyes shut, her hands fixed, seldom seemed to move, she delivered in that time many and various things, speaking every day, sometimes two, three, four and five hours to- gether ; and that sometimes once a day, and sometimes twice a day and sometimes oftner, sometimes in the day only, and sometimes both in the day and night."

A good many other curious passages might be quoted from the pamphlet ; but probably this is as much as ' N. & Q.' will be able to find space for. I should like to ask, in con- clusion, whether any of your correspondents are able to give us any information about this Anna Trapnel. There must surely be some contemporary references to her and her doings. I think she is the first woman preacher of whom we have any record at least, I know of no earlier one.

Since the above was written I have been informed by the Chief Librarian of the Bodleian that a member of their -staff had


already discovered that Anna Trapnel was the author of the folio volume of addresses. I am pleased to know that an independent investigator had come to the same conclusion as myself on this curious matter.

BERTRAM DOBELL.


JOHN WTLKES AND THE ' ESSAY ON

WOMAN.' (See ante, pp. 121, 143, 162, 183, 203.)

IN 1768 the demagogue assailed Pitt in a letter to Grafton with great severity for having, in 1763, charged him in the House with blasphemy.

" The charge he knew was false, for the whole ridicule of those two pieces was confined to certain mysteries, which the formerly unplaced and un- pensioned Mr. Pitt did not think himself obliged even to pretend to believe."

In a characteristic note he adds (' Corr. of Wilkes and Grafton,' p. 232) :

" The verdict of the jury fully justified Mr. Wilkes from this scandalous charge of blasphemy made by Mr. Pitt."

In the House of Commons he had the matter brought up, and was present, though still a prisoner, during several of the debates of the session of 1768-9. In what seems to me to have been a mere logomachy he won a Pyrrhic victory, the record of his convic- tion for " Blasphemy " being expunged ; while three days later, on 3 Feb., 1769, he was expelled the House by 219 votes to 137, mainly for the publishing of this ' Essay. ' The debate turned largely on the cha- racter of the work (the North Briton libel having been dealt with in the previous Parliament), Glynn and the Wilkites con- tending that there was no intention to blaspheme and no publication ; Nares, Thurlow (of all people!), and Blackstone maintaining that intention was immaterial, and Blackstone maintaining what he dared not do in his * Commentaries,' that non- publication was irrelevant in blasphemy, and that that circumstance " did not extenuate the guilt of writing it " (Caven- dish, ' Parl. Deb.,' i. 153).

Both he and Nares founded their views solely on these three obscene and impious libels, and their views probably helped to carry the day (Blackstone ubi supra, Nares at p. 156).

Grenville, uttering a conscious falsehood in his speech against the expulsion, said :

"1 cannot agree with those, who think that the papers relative to it were obtained by those who prosecuted him in any undue or improper manner.