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Dramatic Scenes at Falmouth

Thursday, 4.—I rode to Falmouth. About three in the afternoon I went to see a gentlewoman who had been long indisposed. Almost as soon as I sat down, the house was beset on all sides by an innumerable multitude of people. A louder or more confused noise could hardly be at the taking of a city by storm.  At first Mrs. B. and her daughter endeavored to quiet them. But it was labor lost. They might as well have attempted to still the raging of the sea. They were soon glad to shift for themselves and leave K. E. and me to do as well as we could. The rabble roared with all their throats, “Bring out the Canorum! Where is the Canorum?” (an unmeaning word which the Cornish generally use instead of Methodist).

No answer being given, they quickly forced open the outer door and filled the passage. Only a wainscot partition was between us, which was not likely to stand long. I immediately took down a large looking glass which hung against it, supposing the whole side would fall in at once. When they began their work with abundance of bitter imprecations, poor Kitty was utterly astonished and cried out, “O sir, what must we do?” I said, “We must pray.” Indeed at that time, to all appearance, our lives were not worth an hour’s purchase. She asked, “But, sir, is it not better for you to hide yourself? to get into the closet?” I answered, “No. It is best for me to stand just where I am.” Among those without were the crews of some privateers which were lately come into harbor. Some of these, being angry at the slowness of the rest, thrust them away and, coming up all together, set their shoulders to the inner door and cried out, “Avast, lads, avast!” Away went all the hinges at once, and the door fell back into the room.

I stepped forward at once into the midst of them and said, “Here I am. Which of you has anything to say to me? To which of you have I done any wrong? To you? Or you? Or you?” I continued speaking till I came, bareheaded as I was (for I purposely left my hat that they might all see my face) into the middle of the street and then raising my voice said, “Neighbors, countrymen! Do you desire to hear me speak?’” 1212     Correct to the text. They cried vehemently, “Yes, yes. He shall speak. He shall.  Nobody shall hinder him.” But having nothing to stand on and no advantage of ground, I could be heard by few only. However, I spoke without intermission and, as far as the sound reached, the people were still; till one or two of their captains turned about and swore that not a man should touch me.

Mr. Thomas, a clergyman, then came up and asked, “Are you not ashamed to use a stranger thus?” He was soon seconded by two or three gentlemen of the town and one of the aldermen; with whom I walked down the town, speaking all the time, till I came to Mrs. Maddern’s house. The gentlemen proposed sending for my horse to the door and desired me to step in and rest the meantime. But, on second thought, they judged it not advisable to let me go out among the people again: so they chose to send my horse before me to Penryn and to send me thither by water, the sea running close by the back door of the house in which we were.

I never saw before, no, not at Walsal itself, the hand of God so plainly shown as here. There I had many companions who were willing to die with me: here, not a friend but one simple girl, who likewise was hurried away from me in an instant as soon as ever she came out of Mrs. B.’s door. There I received some blows, lost part of my clothes, and was covered over with dirt: here, although the hands of perhaps some hundreds of people were lifted up to strike or throw, yet they were one and all stopped in the midway; so that not a man touched me with one of his fingers, neither was anything thrown from first to last; so that I had not even a speck of dirt on my clothes. Who can deny that God heareth prayer, or that He hath all power in heaven and earth?


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