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“What Soft Hair He Has”

4) That another came rushing through the press and, raising his arm to strike, on a sudden let it drop and only stroked my head, saying, “What soft hair he has!” 5) That I stopped exactly at the mayor’s door, as if I had known it (which the mob doubtless thought I did), and found him standing in the shop [his presence giving] the first check to the madness of the people. 6) That the very first men whose hearts were turned were the heroes of the town, the captains of the rabble on all occasions, one of them having been a prizefighter at the bear-garden.

7) That from first to last, I heard none give a reviling word, or call me by any opporbious name whatever; but the cry of one and all was: “The preacher! the preacher! the parson! the minister!” 8) That no creature, at least within my hearing, laid anything to my charger, either true or false; having in the hurry quite forgotten to provide themselves with an accusation of any kind. And, lastly, that they were as utterly at a loss what they should do with me, none proposing any determinate thing only “Away with him! Kill him at once!”

By how gentle degrees does God prepare us for His will! Two years ago a piece of brick grazed my shoulders. It was a year after that the stone struck me between the eyes. Last month I received one blow, and this evening two; one before we came into the town and one after we had gone out; but both were as nothing: for though one man struck me on the breast with all his might, and the other on the mouth with such force that the blood gushed out immediately, I felt no more pain from either of the blows than if they had touched me with a straw.

It ought not to be forgotten that when the rest of the society made all haste to escape for their lives, four only would not stir, William Sitch, Edward Slater, John Griffiths, and Joan Parks: these kept with me, resolving to live or die together; and none of them received one blow but William Sitch, who held me by the arm from one end of the town to the other. He was then dragged away and knocked down; but he soon rose and got to me again. I afterward asked him what he expected when the mob came upon us. He said, “To die for Him who had died for us”: and he felt no hurry or fear but calmly waited till God should require his soul of him.

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