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A Hind Let Loose by Alexander Shields

With inhibition to all to reset


that barbarity never practised

in Scotland before, but frequently, and almost always at all the executions since, to beat drums, that they might not be heard. After this conflict, many were forefaulted of their estates, and intercommuned, with inhibition to all to reset, conceal, or correspond with any that had escaped, under the pain of being accounted guilty of the same rebellion, as they called it. Soldiers are permitted to take free quarter in the country, and licensed to all the abuses, that either rapine or cruelty may suggest; to examine men by tortures, threatning to kill or roast alive, all that would not delate all they knew were accessory to that rising; to strip them who did so much as reset the fugitives, and thrust them into prisons, in cold, hunger and nakedness, and crowd them so with numbers, that they could scarce stand together, having the miseries of their own excrements superadded; yea, to murder without process, such as would not, nay could not, discover those persecuted people. But not only time, but heart and tongue would fail, to relate all the violences and insolencies, the stobbings, woundings, stripping and imprisonings of mens persons, violent breaking of their houses both by day and night, beating of wives and children, ravishing of women, forcing of them by fire-matches and other tortures, to discover their husbands and nearest relations, although not within the compass of their knowledge, and driving away all their goods that could be carried away without respect to guilt or
innocency, and all the cruelties that were exercised without a check by these ruffians at that time.

V. After all these tender mercies and clemencies, or cruelties, which his gracious majesty was pleased to confer or commit upon these poor contenders for religion and liberty, he and his cabal the council thought it not enough to suppress them with oppressions and force, distrusting the authority of his law (that he knew the people would no more observe, than he would observe a promise or oath) and diffiding also the authority of his sword, which he had above their heads, he proposes terms of bargaining with them, whereupon he would suffer them to live, and to which he would have them bound to live according to his prescript; therefore, besides the old oaths of allegiance and supremacy, that were still going among hands, he caused coin new ones to keep the peace, and to live orderly, meaning to conform themselves to the disorders of the times! whereby, after he had wrought such destruction to their bodies and estates, and almost nothing was left them but a bit of a conscience, he would rob them of that too, verifying the constant character of the wicked, they only consult to cast a man down from his excellency. What is a man's excellency but a good conscience? But these men, having feared consciences of their own, not capable of any impression, they presume to impose upon all others, and cannot endure so much as to hear of the name of conscience in the country, except it be when it is baffled in the belchings of beastly mouths; as one, that was well acquaint with the council's humour in this point, told a gentleman that was going before them, to have one of these oaths imposed upon him, who was beforehand signifying his scruples, that he could not do such things in conscience. Conscience (said he) I beseech you whatever you do, speak nothing of conscience before the lords, for they cannot abide to hear that word. Therefore it is, that since this last revolution, there have been more conscience-debauching and ensnaring oaths invented and imposed, and some repugnant and contradictory to others, than ever was in any nation in the world in so short a time: and hereby they have had woful success in their designs, involving the generality of the land in the sin of perjury and false swearing with themselves. And it hath been observed, that scarcely have they let one year pass, without imposing some oaths or bonds upon presbyterians; such always as are unlawful to take, yea and impossible to keep, sometimes more obviously gross, sometimes more seemingly smooth, sometimes tendered more generally through the kingdom, sometimes imposed upon particular shires; and these carried on by craft and cunning, sometimes by force and cruelty. Doubtless it is not the least part of their design, hereby to make oaths and bonds become a trivial and common thing, and by making all men of as capacious consciences as themselves.


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