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William Fetty Scourged To Death

Among the numberless enormities committed by the merciless and unfeeling
Bonner, the murder of this innocent and unoffending child may be ranked
as the most horrid. His father, John Fetty, of the parish of
Clerkenwell, by trade a tailor, and only twenty-four years of age, had
made a blessed election; he was fixed secure in eternal hope, and
depended on Him who so builds his church that the gates of hell shall
not prevail against it. But alas! the very wife of his bosom, whose
heart was hardened against the truth, and whose mind was influenced by
the teachers of false doctrine, became his accuser. Brokenbery, a
creature of the pope, and parson of the parish, received the information
of this wedded Delilah, in consequence of which the poor man was
apprehended. But here the awful judgment of an ever-righteous God, "who
is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity," fell upon this stone-hearted
and perfidious woman; for no sooner was the injured husband captured by
her wicked contriving, than she also was suddenly seized with madness,
and exhibited an awful and awakening instance of God's power to punish
the evil doer. This dreadful circumstance had some effect upon the
hearts of the ungodly hunters who had eagerly grasped their prey; but,
in a relenting moment, they suffered him to remain with his unworthy
wife, to return her good for evil, and to comfort two children, who, on
his being sent to prison, would have been left without a protector, or
have become a burden to the parish. As bad men act from little motives,
we may place the indulgence shown him to the latter account.

We have noticed in the former part of our narratives of the martyrs,
some whose affection would have led them even to sacrifice their own
lives, to preserve their husbands; but here, agreeable to Scripture
language, a mother proves, indeed, a monster in nature! Neither conjugal
nor maternal affection could impress the heart of this disgraceful

Although our afflicted Christian had experienced so much cruelty and
falsehood from the woman who was bound to him by every tie, both human
and divine, yet, with a mild and forbearing spirit, he overlooked her
misdeeds, during her calamity endeavouring all he could to procure
relief for her malady, and soothing her by every possible expression of
tenderness: thus she became in a few weeks nearly restored to her
senses. But, alas! she returned again to her sin, "as the dog returneth
to his vomit." Malice against the saints of the Most High was seated in
her heart too firmly to be removed; and as her strength returned, her
inclination to work wickedness returned with it. Her heart was hardened
by the prince of darkness; and to her may be applied these afflicting
and soul-harrowing words, "can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the
leopard his spots? then will they do good who are accustomed to do
evil." Weighing this text duly with another, "I will have mercy on whom
I will have mercy," how shall we presume to refine away the sovereignty
of God, by arraigning Jehovah at the bar of human reason, which, in
religious matters, is too often opposed by infinite wisdom? "Broad is
the way which leadeth to death, and many walk therein. Narrow is the way
which leadeth to life, and few there be who find it." The ways of heaven
are indeed inscrutable, and it is our bounden duty to walk ever
dependent on God, looking up to him with humble confidence, and hope in
his goodness, and ever confess his justice; and where we "cannot
unravel, there learn to trust." This wretched woman, pursuing the horrid
dictates of a heart hardened and depraved, was scarcely confirmed in her
recovery, when, stifling the dictates of honour, gratitude, and every
natural affection, she again accused her husband, who was once more
apprehended, and taken before Sir John Mordant, Knight, and one of queen
Mary's commissioners.

Upon examination, his judge finding him fixed to opinions which
militated against those nursed by superstition and maintained by cruelty
he was sentenced to confinement and torture in Lollard's Tower. "Here
(says honest Fox) he was put into the painful stocks, and had a dish of
water set by him, with a stone put into it, to what purpose God knoweth,
except it were to show that he should look for little other subsistence:
which is credible enough, if we consider their like practices upon
divers before mentioned in this history; as, among others, upon Richard
Smith, who died through their cruel imprisonment; touching whom, when a
godly woman came to Dr. Story to have leave that she might bury him, he
asked her if he had any straw or blood in his mouth; but what he means
thereby, I leave to the judgment of the wise."

On the first day of the third week of our martyr's sufferings, an object
presented itself to his view, which made him indeed feel his tortures
with all their force, and to execrate, with bitterness only short of
cursing, the author of his misery. To mark and punish the proceedings of
his tormentors, remained with the Most High, who noteth even the fall of
a sparrow, and in whose sacred word it is written, "Vengeance is mine,
and I will repay." This object was his own son, a child of the tender
age of eight years. For fifteen days, had its hapless father been
suspended by his tormentor by the right arm and left leg, and sometimes
by both, shifting his positions for the purpose of giving him strength
to bear and to lengthen the date of his sufferings. When the unoffending
innocent, desirous of seeing and speaking to its parent, applied to
Bonner for permission so to do, the poor child being asked by the
bishop's chaplain the purport of his errand, he replied, he wished to
see his father. "Who is thy father?" said the chaplain. "John Fetty,"
returned the boy, at the same time pointing to the place where he was
confined. The interrogating miscreant on this said, "Why, thy father is
a heretic!" The little champion again rejoined, with energy sufficient
to raise admiration in any breast, except that of this unprincipled and
unfeeling wretch--this miscreant, eager to execute the behests of a
remorseless queen--"My father is no heretic: for you have Balaam's

Irritated by reproach so aptly applied, the indignant and mortified
priest concealed his resentment for a moment, and took the undaunted boy
into the house, where, having him secure, he presented him to others,
whose baseness and cruelty being equal to his own, they stripped him to
the skin, and applied their scourges to so violent a degree, that,
fainting beneath the stripes inflicted on his tender frame, and covered
with the blood that flowed from them, the victim of their ungodly wrath
was ready to expire under his heavy and unmerited punishment.

In this bleeding and helpless state was the suffering infant, covered
only with his shirt, taken to his father by one of the actors in the
horrid tragedy, who, while he exhibited the heart-rending spectacle,
made use of the vilest taunts, and exulted in what he had done. The
dutiful child, as if recovering strength at the sight of his father, on
his knees implored his blessing. "Alas! Will," said the afflicted
parent, in trembling amazement, "who hath done this to thee!" The
artless innocent related the circumstances that led to the merciless
correction which had been so basely inflicted on him; but when he
repeated the reproof bestowed on the chaplain, and which was prompted by
an undaunted spirit, he was torn from his weeping parent, and conveyed
again to the house, where he remained a close prisoner.

Bonner, somewhat fearful that what had been done could not be justified
even among the bloodhounds of his own voracious pack, concluded in his
dark and wicked mind, to release John Fetty, for a time at least, from
the severities he was enduring in the glorious cause of everlasting
truth! whose bright rewards are fixed beyond the boundaries of time,
within the confines of eternity; where the arrow of the wicked cannot
wound, even "where there shall be no more sorrowing for the blessed,
who, in the mansion of eternal bliss shall glorify the Lamb forever and
ever." He was accordingly by order of Bonner, (how disgraceful to all
dignity, to say bishop!) liberated from the painful bonds, and led from
Lollard's Tower, to the chamber of that ungodly and infamous butcher,
where, says Fox, he found the bishop bathing himself before a great
fire; and at his first entering the chamber, Fetty said, "God be here
and peace!" "God be here and peace, (said Bonner,) that is neither God
speed nor good morrow!" "If ye kick against this peace, (said Fetty,)
then this is not the place that I seek for."

A chaplain of the bishop, standing by, turned the poor man about and
thinking to abash him, said, in mocking wise, "What have we here--a
player!" While Fetty was thus standing in the bishop's chamber, he
espied, hanging about the bishop's bed, a pair of great black beads,
whereupon he said, "My Lord, I think the hangman is not far off; for the
halter (pointing to the beads) is here already!" At which words the
bishop was in a marvellous rage. Then he immediately after espied also,
standing in the bishop's chamber, in the window, a little crucifix. Then
he asked the bishop what it was, and he answered, that it was Christ.
"Was he handled as cruelly as he is here pictured?" said Fetty. "Yea,
that he was," said the bishop. "And even so cruelly will you handle such
as come before you; for you are unto God's people as Caiaphas was unto
Christ!" The bishop, being in a great fury, said, "Thou art a vile
heretic, and I will burn thee, or else I will spend all I have, unto my
gown." "Nay, my Lord, (said Fetty) you were better to give it to some
poor body, that he may pray for you." Bonner, notwithstanding his
passion, which was raised to the utmost by the calm and pointed remarks
of this observing Christian, thought it most prudent to dismiss the
father, on account of the nearly murdered child. His coward soul
trembled for the consequences which might ensue; fear is inseparable
from little minds; and this dastardly pampered priest experienced its
effects so far as to induce him to assume the appearance of that he was
an utter stranger to, namely, MERCY.

The father, on being dismissed, by the tyrant Bonner, went home with a
heavy heart, with his dying child, who did not survive many days the
cruelties which had been inflicted on him. How contrary to the will of
our great King and Prophet, who mildly taught his followers, was the
conduct of this sanguinary and false teacher, this vile apostate from
his God to Satan! But the arch-fiend had taken entire possession of his
heart, and guided every action of the sinner he had hardened: who, given
up to terrible destruction, was running the race of the wicked, marking
his footsteps with the blood of the saints, as if eager to arrive at the
goal of eternal death.

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