Thursday, April 22, 2004

Play by Thomas Leverett, April 2004. Reprintable by permission.

Quakers Rock the 17th Century

Quakers Rock the 17th Century
(Presented by Young Friends of So. Illinois Friends’ Meeting)
Margaret Fell-Miranda A.
Admiral Penn-Nate A.
George Fox- Justin L.
King Charles II-Kevin H.-S.
William Penn- Adam A.
John Locke-Luke H.-T.
Nathaniel Stephens, Priest- Gabe S.
Soldier-Delia A.
George Fell- Noah L.
Neighbors: Rose-Twyla S.
Mary-Marley A.
Thug-Eli L.


CHARLES (to audience): I was born in 1630, son of King Charles I. It was a time when religion and politics were mixed up together...people took them both very seriously. We royalists are Anglican, you see, while Oliver Cromwell, that dastardly scoundrel, was a Puritan. There were also the Catholics, or the Papists, you could call them, and they were OK, but then, on the other side, you had all the dissenters, the Shakers, the Quakers, the Baptists, the Anabaptists, the Seventh Day Adventists, the Diggers, the Ranters, the Muggletonians, the Bidellians, the Levellers, and the 5th Monarchy men.

Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans thought they were better than us. They thought they had the key to heaven. To make a long story short, they got control of Parliament, and we fought a war. I was Prince of Wales during the Civil War, but we lost. The good Admiral Penn offered to help my father in that difficult time, so you can see why he was always considered a loyal friend in our house. We were in exile, in the Isles of Scilly, for a few years, until we had the chance to come back.

JOHN LOCKE (to audience): I was born in Wrington, Somerset, in 1632. I’ll tell you my problem, and that’s authority. You have this King…why is he King? Because his father was a King. Does that make him good? Does that make him right? And do you think this Cromwell character is any better? I look forward to the day when we have legitimate authority…when we only have the government that we elect. Perhaps in the colonies, maybe, do you think? Ah, I’ll be ok. I’m going to Oxford, to be a doctor, but I can’t help thinking about it, you know?

MARGARET (to audience) : I was born in 1614, in Marsh Grange, at Fournis in Lancashire. I was keenly interested in religion. But in those days, women weren’t respected. We didn’t speak; we weren’t allowed to preach. In matters of religion, one would think that what a woman feels is important; that a woman has in her, that of God, just like a man. But, I got no sense of this, listening to the local priest. It was a dangerous time; religion and politics were mixed together, and everyone had something to say. But they didn’t listen to the women, and that really bothered me .

FOX (to audience): I was born in 1624 in Drayton-in-the-Clay in Leicestershire (Lest-a-sher). My father was a weaver; an honest man; and there was a Seed of God in him. My mother was an upright woman also. In my very young years I had a gravity and stayedness of mind and spirit not usual in children; insomuch that, when I have seen old men carry themselves lightly and wantonly towards each other, I have had a dislike thereof risen in my heart; and have said within myself, “If ever I come to be a man, surely I should not do so nor be so wanton.”

As a lad I left my home, and I went unto Barnet, and from there to London, but when I came back to Leicestershire, the priest of Drayton, the town of my birth, whose name was Nathaniel Stephens, would come to me, and we would talk, and what I said to him in discourse on week-days, that he would preach of on the First-days, for which I did not like him. And this priest afterwards became my great persecutor…

NATHANIEL (to audience) : I am the priest, in Drayton, Leicestershire (Lest-a-sher), where young George Fox grew up. Let me tell you, that guy kind of made me mad. Oh, he knew his scripture, all right, but he was trouble from the start. He had no respect, that was his problem. Respect is important. A person should respect his local priest. Take off your hat! Use the terms of respect!

(enter ROSE, MARY, THUG)
ROSE: Take off your hat!
MARY: Take off your hat!
THUG: Take off your hat!

ADMIRAL PENN (to audience): England was a dangerous place when my son was born. I was away at sea, but weighed anchor in Ireland briefly, and Ireland was dangerous too. There was a little disagreement between Charles I and Oliver Cromwell; I offered the King safe haven, and then I paid for my trouble. I’m an admiral; the sea is my life. I defend England with my life, out at sea. It seems Oliver Cromwell would respect this, but, let’s just say, everyone took themselves very seriously.

SOLDIER (to audience): I’m just a common soldier…a policeman. They break the law, I throw them in jail. But it’s 1600…so they spell it G-A-O-L. It’s a nasty place!


FOX (to audience): One day I was going to Coventry, and entering towards the gate, a consideration rose in me, how it was said that all Christians are believers, both Protestants and Papists, and the Lord opened to me that, if all were believers, then they were all born of God. And another time, as I was walking in a field on a First-day morning, the Lord opened unto me that being bred at Oxford or Cambridge was not enough to fit and qualify men to be ministers of Christ, and I stranged at it, because it was the common belief of people. But I saw clearly, as the Lord opened it to me, and was satisfied. Priest Stephens wasof course troubled with me.

At another time it was opened in me that God, who made the world, did not dwell in temples made with hands. This, at first, seemed a strange word, but the Lord showed me, so that I did see clearly, that he did not dwell in these temples, but in people’s hearts.

After this I met with a sort of people that held that women have no souls, but I
reproved them, and told them that was not right.

MARGARET (to audience): I married at 18; there was nothing unusual about that. My husband was 34; sixteen years older than me; there was nothing unusual about that either. I had nine children; nothing unusual about that. I was in the habit of providing for itinerant preachers, and the day George Fox came through, now that was unusual.....I'll never forget the day in 1652...Judge Fell was out of town; he was on the Welsh circuit.
FOX (to audience): "You will say Chirst saith this, and the apostles say this; but what canst thou say? Art thou a child of Light, and hast thou walked in the Light, and what thou speakest, is it inwardly from God?"
MARGARET (to audience): This opened me so, that it cut me to the heart, and then I saw clearly we were all wrong. So I sat down in my pew again and cried bitterly: and I cried in my spirit to the Lord, 'We are all thieves; we have taken the Scripture in words, and know nothing of them in ourselves.'!
(GEORGE FELL enters)
GEORGE FELL(to audience): My story is an untold story. I am the son of Margaret Fell. My father, Judge Fell, was a respected Judge in Lancastershire (Lanc-a-sher), but he was away on the Welsh circuit when this preacher, George Fox, passed through. My mother was moved by his words. She converted on the spot, it seemed. So did all my sisters, all eight of them, and three servants. Everyone in the house became a follower of this George Fox! My father, the judge, was never a Quaker, of course, but he protected my mother…and from then on, it was George Fox this, George Fox that. George Fox beaten at Ulverston. George Fox thrown in jail….from then on, we were always helping George Fox and these Quakers. The first thing that bothered me was, his name was George, like me. And, he was kind of a fanatic. I got used to that, though, I guess.
FOX (to audience): I and Friends were in the custom of having meetings; the priest scoffed at us and called us Quakers. Friends were very much abused by the priest and his people. One day as we went I spied a great hill called Pendle Hill, and I went on the top of it with much ado; it was so steep; but I was moved of the Lord to go atop of it; and I was moved to sound the day of the Lord; and as I went down, on the hillside, I found a spring of water and refreshed myself. And from then I came to Ulverston and so to Swarthmoor and Judge Fell’s. At each steeplehouse I would speak the truth, and people would be in a rage and an uproar. I was beaten severely; I was thrown in jail.
NATHANIEL (to audience): We’re having services in the church, like we should. It’s my job. And this wild man comes along, shaggy locks, leather britches, and he says to the people, everything you’re doing is wrong. You’re paying tithes to the church, and it’s wrong. You’re respecting the priest, and it’s wrong. Well, I’m not so crazy about that, you know! And neither are the other priests. He wonders why people would be in a rage. Why shouldn’t they be?

ADMIRAL(to audience): I spent a good amount of time at sea those days, and my son, poor William, grew up alone with his mother. We were well-bred people; we wore swords, we had parties; we moved in the best circles. We expected much of Young William. Little did I know that it would be a tough time when he was young, all this business with Oliver Cromwell, and the King. It just got worse and worse; at one point I was in prison for a month. When the King came back, of course, my fortunes improved, but it was too late for poor William.
WILLIAM PENN (to audience):: I was born in 1644. My father was an admiral at sea, and I didn't see him much. He got caught up in some trouble with Cromwell and the King, and things were looking bad for him, right around the time I was about eleven. The boys at my private school teased me; I was all alone. I had a religious experience, and I was awakened. My parents had tried to train me as a proper aristocrat, but it didn't work. I resisted it.
ADMIRAL (to audience): At this time, people were hungry for God, and I imagine William was too. You must understand; they read the Bible, they considered themselves responsible for the state of their souls. It was, well, religion was important then. I was at sea, the only religion I knew was the high seas, a bottle of wine, a good time. But young William, he cared much about God. Eventually, we sent him off to Oxford, but it was for naught, I’m afraid.
WILLIAM: (to audience): They sent me to Oxford, hoping I would see reason. I saw reason, all right. It was the age of reason. They applied reason to everything!
JOHN LOCKE: Penn, from Anatomy! How are you?
WILLIAM: I’m flunking anatomy. And yourself?
JOHN: Ah, it’s easy. I study anatomy, I study philosophy. I study, therefore I am. I study, I pass, I move on! I find Oxford exhilarating!
WILLIAM: I wish I could say the same.
JOHN: Reason, my boy! Pure, natural, reason, uncontaminated. Through reason, the divine wishes will be interpreted and put into practice!
WILLIAM: That’s the whole problem! This age of reason! Natural science! You apply it to everything, even God! Enough, I say!
JOHN: And you don’t believe in God?
WILLIAM: On the contrary, I do, it’s just that, that…
JOHN: Yes?
WILLIAM: I had a religious experience once; I was about twelve. I never had any religion but what I feel. And now, to come here, and to here these debates, this philosophizing; I don’t like it.
JOHN: Well, I’ll agree with you on certain matters. The King took this idea of religion, and he used it to justify what he did. He pushed his power around a bit. The power of a government comes not from divine right, but from the will of the people. So now Oliver Cromwell is in, and the King is out. But does he have the consent of the people?
WILLIAM: You know, if you speak against the King, you could have the King’s power come upon you!
JOHN: I am concerned about legitimate authority! Where does the King get his authority? All day, they are up there, with their wine, their parties, their excess…
WILLIAM: I’ll tell you what strikes me, is the vanity of this world. The religious intolerance. The irreligiousness of the religious.
JOHN: Again I’ll agree with you! This country is in a terrible state! Through tolerance, we can find the right way. The best ideas will naturally come out on top!

MARGARET (to audience): We lived at a fine old place called Swarthmoor, and it was there that we developed what you could call a Quaker community. Eight of my nine children became Quaker, and all three servants also. One year after George Fox came through, he was beaten severely in Ulverston. Later he was thrown in jail. My good husband Judge Fell defended him, and me, until he died; he was not jealous, as he knew I was pure at heart.
FOX (to audience): I fasted much and walked abroad in solitary places many days, and often took my Bible and sat in hollow trees and lonesome places till night came on. I durst not stay long in any place, being afraid both of professor and profane, lest I should be hurt by conversing much with either, and was brought off from outward things to rely wholly on the Lord alone. And I remembered these words: Walk cheerfully over the earth, answering that of God in everyone.

When the Lord sent me forth into the world, he forbade me to put off my hat to any, high or low, and I was required to “thee” and “thou” all men and women, without respect to rich or poor, great or small. But oh, the rage that was in the priests, the magistrates, the professors, but especially the priests and the professors! Because I could not put off my hat to them, it set them all into a rage!

And then I went to a steeplehouse, where was a high priest, that did much oppress the people with tithes, for if the people went a hundred miles off a-fishing, he would make them pay the tithe money, though they catched the fish at such a distance, and carried it to Yarmouth to sell. But I spoke the Truth of God, and it was received.

GEORGE FELL (to audience): My father, Judge Fell, protected my mother, and George Fox, until he died. When he died, she got Swarthmoor; I got the rest of the estate. Oh, I got along with everyone ok, it’s just that they got caught up with these Quakers. The Quakers were very threatening to the priests, the government, everyone. They wouldn't pay the tithes; they called everyone "thee and thou", which are common terms; they wouldn’t take off their hats, that kind of stuff. They didn’t believe in tithes. They felt that if you were forced to give, that wasn’t religion. You shouldn’t be forced to give, forced to speak, forced to do anything when it comes to God. I could understand that.
NATHANIEL (to audience): Here’s the story with the tithes. You’re in the community, you pay your church. It’s that simple. We never had all these dissenting religions before, I don’t see why we should allow them now. I’m a priest. I have authority in this area. I need respect. You don’t respect me, fine. Do what you want. But when the rough guys come around, you think I’m going to help you?
WILLIAM (to audience): You have to understand, it was a terrible time in England. I was sorry to see such sharpness from English to English, as well as Protestants to Protestants.
CHARLES: Cromwell is dead, and I am back! These people who have been disloyal to the crown, where are they?
NATHANIEL: These dissenters, they’re all over the place!
SOLDIER: We’ll get them all! Throw them in jail!
CHARLES: We’ll have a law! It shall be illegal to worship another religion! Especially Puritanism!
NATHANIEL: And the other ones too! Dissenters! Nonconformists! We’ll get them all! Revenge shall be ours! (to audience): There’s only one true religion, and that’s the King’s religion, Anglicanism! These others are rubbish!

FOX (to audience): Now all of England was suffering in these times of Oliver Protector and the Commonwealth, as those who had been loyal to Cromwell were often jailed and
put to death upon the King’s return. We received account from New England that
they had banished Quakers out of their colonies, upon pain of death… . Finally they made a law against 5 or more Quakers getting together and meeting. They threw us in jail for not saying the oaths. They broke up meetings.
(FOX exits, WILLIAM, ADMIRAL enter)
ADMIRAL: Son! Welcome home!
WILLIAM: I see that John Locke has been thrown in jail!
ADMIRAL: What of it? Disobedience to the King! He says that a King has no right to power…no wonder he fell out of favor!
WILLIAM: He was a friend of mine, at Oxford. A good man.
ADMIRAL: Listen, I’ll speak to the King, I’ll get him a pardon. Let me deal with it. Listen, William, I’m sending you to France. You need to get away from here.
ADMIRAL: It’s too dangerous here. Go along, pack your bags.
(CHARLES enters, ADMIRAL approaches him. WILLIAM exits)
ADMIRAL: Your highness, I seek a pardon.
CHARLES: For whom?
ADMIRAL: John Locke. He spoke against you, but, he meant no harm.
CHARLES: It shall be granted. (to SOLDIER) Let him free!
(SOLDIER lets JOHN out of jail)
ADMIRAL (to audience): After William was expelled from Oxford, I sent him to France, thinking he would get his philosophy in order, but that didn't work. So then I sent him to Ireland to manage the estates. About that time, there was a group of Quakers that came to travel about. They were dirty, they went around “theeing” and “thouing” everyone. You have to understand, these are common terms…we use them for equals, not for people we respect. People ridiculed them “Thou me, thou my dog,” the people would say, “if thou thou'st me, I'll thou thy teeth, down thy throat!”
(ROSE, MARY, and THUG enter)
ROSE: Thou me, thou my dog!
MARY: If thou thou’st me, I’ll thou thy teeth, down thy throat!
THUG: Down thy throat!
(they exit)
ADMIRAL: Each time he came back, it was worse.
(WILLIAM enters)
ADMIRAL: So what’s with this “thee and thou” business?
WILLIAM: We use these to show that all people are equal under God.
ADMIRAL: What “we”?
WILLIAM: the Quakers.
ADMIRAL: And what is it you like about these Quakers?
WILLIAM:. They tell the truth; they love their enemies; they practice faith and patience, rather than fighting; they refuse to pay tithes; they use no titles, but only "thee" and "thou" to everyone; they recommend silence, by their example; they consider drinking unnecessary…
ADMIRAL: Say what?
WILLIAM: Drinking, unnecessary. They have an unusual way of marrying; their parents name their own children; they practice simplicity in births and burials, no rites, no ceremonies. You shouldn't be fooled by their rough and disagreeable appearance, as people are ignorant of the Divine gift which causes vanity, that vulgar and mischievous mistake.
ADMIRAL: Let’s get one thing straight. You may call anyone thee and thou, except me, the King, and the Duke of York. Is that agreed?
WILLIAM: No, I won’t agree to that.
(ADMIRAL, disgusted, leaves)
WILLIAM: (to audience): In the world I came from, people were easily impressed. I had a sword; I had a title; yet I had done nothing. The Quakers were not easily impressed, and that impressed me. I wanted to be pure of heart. I wanted to do the right thing. I tried to help the Quakers… one day, I threw a drunken soldier out of meeting.
SOLDIER (to audience): You have to understand, every day, throwing these people in jail…it was a rough life. I needed a drink once in a while. So one day, I went to one of those Quaker meetings, where everyone was silent. Tried to wake ‘em up a little!
Thou me, thou my dog! If thou thou’st me, I’ll thou thy teeth down thy throat!
WILLIAM: Out of here, you laggard!
SOLDIER: I’ll do as I wish! I’m a soldier of the King!
WILLIAM: I don’t care if you’re the King yourself! You won’t break up this meeting!
SOLDIER: Get your hands off of me, you brute!
(drags him by collar across room)(FOX enters)
FOX: What’s going on here?
WILLIAM: This soldier disrupted our meeting!
FOX: This kind of behavior certainly won’t solve the problem! Let him go!
(SOLDIER leaves, brushing pants)
FOX: So, you’re William Penn, son of Admiral Penn?
WILLIAM: That I am.
FOX: And, you’re helping this meeting?
WILLIAM: That I am. I want to join the Friends. Fox, canst thou tell me, if I should join the Friends, what shall I do about my sword?
FOX: Wear thy sword as long as thee are able.
WILLIAM: What do you mean?
FOX: As long as there is a sword in thy heart, thee will find one for thy hand. Thee may remove the sword at thy side, when thee knowest that thee would use neither…
GEORGE FELL (to audience):Around this time, meetings got larger. People were more brazen. All the other dissenters, they had their worship in private, hidden, away from the King and his eyes. But not the Quakers. They’d have these big, silent meetings, right in public. Right in front of everyone. No surprise that the King got a little mad.
NATHANIEL: Right in public, your Highness!
CHARLES: And what is the point?
NATHANIEL: Well, I know, you have your dissenters, your non-conformists. The Diggers, the Ranters, the Levellers. But at least they go off in the corner. These Quakers, they sit out in public, in public! They have no respect!
CHARLES: But what are they DOING?
NATHANIEL: Nothing! They’re silent! It’s an abomination!
CHARLES (waving his hand): It’s nothing. Leave them alone.
(they exit)(FOX enters)
FOX (to audience): The priests and professors were against Friends’ silent meetings, and when they saw a hundred or two hundred people all silent, waiting upon the Lord, they
would break out into wondering and despising, and some of them would say: Look
how these people sit mumming and dumming. What edification is here where there
are no words? Didst thou never see the like in thy life?
(FOX leaves)(enter ROSE, MARY, and THUG)
ROSE: : Mumming and dumming!
MARY: Mumming and dumming!
THUG: Mumming and dumming!
(they exit)
ADMIRAL (to audience): Well, William had renounced the world, and he came home, clothed in drab, and not carrying a sword. You must understand, the sword was a custom, a symbol of a well-bred gentleman. Finally I renounced him, and told him he'd get not a penny of my estate if he carried on so. But that didn’t work either. Confound it! (exits)
WILLIAM (to audience): It was a time of much arguing, about religion, about politics. I joined in, and wrote at every opportunity; after all, I was a lawyer, and able to put pen to paper. I wrote A Treatise of Oaths, to explain why Quakers would not take the Oath; you see, in those days, people had a public truth, and a private truth, so that they didn't mind lying in public. Such was the system that the Quakers rebelled against. (exits)
GEORGE FELL (to audience): My mother was suspicious of Penn; he was born of a high family. He studied law. He lived at Oxford. He was always meddling in worldly matters; he was a little fond of his honor and dignity. He’d taken a little too much of the world upon himself. This matter of oaths, for example. (exits)
MARGARET (to audience): This Penn…he wrote his pamphlet, A Treatise of Oaths; I can’t even read it! It’s very complicated, very hard to read. But the truth is simple. We tell the truth. . There is only one truth. We don’t need a pamphlet! (exits)
NATHANIEL (to audience): Let me explain about the oaths. You live under the King, you swear allegiance to the King. It’s that simple. You can think what you want. If they ask the Quakers, are you loyal to the King, and they say no, then they’re not. And they belong in jail, as far as I’m concerned.
(CHARLES enters)
NATHANIEL: Your majesty, some of these dissenters are not willing to say the oath!
CHARLES: Do you mean, they are disloyal to the King?
NATHANIEL: If they are not saying the oath, what else could that mean? I’ve had enough, I say. Would you have another Cromwell, another revolution? If they aren’t loyal to the King, who are they loyal to?
CHARLES: I see your point. Have them thrown in jail!
(SOLDIER grabs WILLIAM, leads him to jail)
SOLDIER: You look familiar.
WILLIAM: Indeed, so do you.
SOLDIER: Not saying the oath, eh? I’ll throw you in jail!
WILLIAM: Yes, I see that.
SOLDIER: This’ll teach you a lesson! (appears to boot him, without actually kicking him)

GEORGE FELL: My mother was dead set against the Pauline strictures, which forbade women to preach. She believed that men and women were equal under God, and George Fox agreed with her on that. And, they were in love.
FOX: I had seen from the Lord a considerable time before that I should take Margaret Fell to be my wife. And when I first mentioned it to her, she felt the answer of life from God thereunto…
GEORGE FELL: One thing I’ll say for this George Fox, when he wanted to marry my mother, he called all of us children together, and we had a long meeting on it. It went on and on. He wanted to be sure that we wouldn’t think he was doing it for his personal gain. He wanted to be sure that it was all right with each of us. Well, everyone knew that I was the only one that wasn’t Quaker. I was the only one that wasn’t all for this thee and thou stuff, and keeping the hat on, and all that. But I didn’t have anything against George Fox. He was always ok with me. My mother was in love with him too, I knew that. So I said, ok, go ahead. And they had one of those Quaker weddings. Simple, plain.

(enter CHARLES and JOHN)
JOHN: Your Highness, I have come to seek a pardon.
CHARLES: For whom?
JOHN: For William Penn.
CHARLES: And what was his crime?
JOHN: Not saying the oath.
CHARLES: So who does he profess allegiance to?
JOHN: To God and God only. He is a Quaker.
CHARLES: Release him!
JOHN: William, my influence has released you.
WILLIAM: Why thank you. As you know, I couldn’t ask my father to help me this time. We haven’t been speaking.
JOHN: Ah, but he helped me once, and I didn’t forget.
WILLIAM: It’s a rough place, this England, isn’t it?
JOHN: Yes, I look forward to a time when man can be free of this tyranny.
WILLIAM: Perhaps in the colonies. You know, in the colonies there is a place they call New Jersey. Some Quakers there were trying to establish a government, and I helped them. No capital punishment, trial by jury, that kind of thing.
JOHN: I also was involved in the writing of the constitution of the Carolinas. You should look into it, my boy! It’s a new world, a world of hope, and freedom…(he exits)
WILLIAM (to audience) It got me thinking. Perhaps part of the new world could be considered a holy experiment. I'm not talking about the kind the Puritans had, you know, where they imprison Quakers and those who have different beliefs. I mean, a tolerant place, a just and fair place. A place where natives are respected. Then, one day, by coincidence, I encountered George Fox, as he was coming back from the colonies.
(FOX enters)
WILLIAM: I understand you have just returned from the colonies.
FOX: Yes, in fact I have.
WILLIAM: I am curious about the colonies. I understand that they have become a haven for persecuted Christians.
FOX: That they have, though I should say, they do some persecuting there also. Beware of a place they call Providence, for example.
WILLIAM: And the Indians? Didn’t you feel some danger?
FOX: Danger? No, not danger. We had a glorious meeting, at on old house at the head of the Delaware Bay, and some Indians were in the area, and…
WILLIAM: But how did you speak?
FOX: Through an interpreter, of course. Let me tell you. Here in England, Friends are being persecuted, going to jail, losing their houses. Why? They are sold out by common informers, for not paying their tithes, not saying oaths…I think that, in truth, the colonies are safer. William, I see that thee no longer carries a sword.
WILLIAM: I wore it as long as I was able. I am now a Friend, George. (George exits)
(to the audience) I became more interested in the colonies. With some friends, I bought part of East New Jersey...has a ring to it, eh? I gave it back, as it was part of a joint venture. The whole thing was complicated, but as time went on, I became more interested in a Holy Experiment...one of tolerance...
(WILLIAM exits, ADMIRAL and CHARLES enter)
ADMIRAL: Your highness, we have a long history.
CHARLES: Indeed, I owe you many a favor, and much money.
ADMIRAL: I have come to collect.
CHARLES: And what is it I can do for you?
ADMIRAL: My son William, I haven’t spoken to him in twenty years.
CHARLES: The Quaker?
ADMIRAL: Yes. I understand that he has petitioned you for some land.
CHARLES: Indeed he has.
ADMIRAL: Give it to him. I’d be much obliged.
CHARLES: It’s all woods! It’s nothing but trees and Indians!
ADMIRAL: My son gets along fine with trees and Indians.
CHARLES: You still love this son?
ADMIRAL: Yes, I do. We’ve had a falling out. But he’s still my son.
CHARLES: The deal is done. It shall be called “Penn’s Woods”.
WILLIAM (to audience): I received the land from the King, and went to see about the Holy Experiment. I didn't like the name Pennsylvania (Penn's woods) because it sounded vain. That happened behind my back, you could say. I signed a treaty with the Leni Lenape at Shackamaxon; I planned Philadelphia, on a hill, High Street, Broad Street, Chestnut Street; and refused to fortify it, in the Quaker fashion. Oh, yes, there were problems, a border dispute with Lord Baltimore, a little politics here and there…I guess you could say, the rest is history.

SOLDIER: Did you hear, you can make some money?
ROSE: How is that?
SOLDIER: You turn in the Quakers. Everyone is doing it.
MARY: Turn them in? What for?
SOLDIER: Not saying the oath! They get fined, they lose their property, you make some money!
MARY: You don’t say!
THUG: You don’t say!
(they exit, SOLDIER and MARGARET enter)
SOLDIER: And will you not say the oath?
MARGARET (to audience): …this I shall say, as for my allegiance, I love, own, and honor the King and desire his peace and welfare; and that we may live a peaceable, a quiet and a godly life under his government, according to the Scriptures; and this is my allegiance to the King. And as for the oath itself, Christ Jesus, the King of Kings, hath commanded me not to swear at all, neither by heaven, nor by earth, nor by any other Oath.
SOLDIER: Then in jail you go! (MARGARET goes to jail, then comes forward)
MARGARET (to audience): I then spent 6 months in Lancaster Gaol (jail) after which there was a trial 21 September 1664 at which I was committed to life in prison and forfeiture of my property. My answer to this sentence was, "Although I am out of the King's protection, yet I am not out of the protection of the Almighty God."
GEORGE FELL (to audience): While she was in jail, my mother wrote “Women’s Speaking Justified,” which put her beliefs into writing. They used to say to her, stop preaching, you’re a woman, and she’d say, women are equal, under God. They’d say, stop using your house to start a revolution against the King. And she’d say, as long as the Lord blessed me with a home, I’ll worship him in it. They took her home, but that didn’t stop her. (GEORGE FELL exits)
NATHANIEL: These Quakers must be jailed! They don’t say the oath!
CHARLES: They’re harmless, they don’t even carry weapons. I keep pardoning them.
NATHANIEL: Harmless my foot! This Fox, he’s ruined my life!
CHARLES: Ruined your life?
NATHANIEL: Respect! He has no respect! And he’s not loyal to the King!
CHARLES: Then throw him in jail! After he repents, and says the oath, I’ll pardon him.
MARGARET (to audience): George was also committed and moved to Scarborough prison. My daughters tried to get the King to intercede, but he did not have the power to overturn acts of Parliament. He offered George a pardon, but George would not take it.
FOX (to audience): I was in jail, and I had a fit of sickness. Endeavors were used to get me released, but the King was not willing to release me in any way except a pardon, being told that he could not legally do it. And I was not willing to be released by a pardon, which he would readily have given me, because I did not look upon that way agreeable with the innocence of my cause; my wife went to London, and spoke to the King, and the King spoke kindly to her, but only that I need not scruple being released by pardon, yet I could not consent to have one. For I had rather have lain in prison all my days, than have come out in any way dishonourable to truth.
GEORGE (to audience): So George Fox refused to accept the pardon. He stayed in prison a little too long, and he died of sickness that he got there. William Penn wrote the letter that informed my mother of his death. My mother lived to see the 1700’s; she saw the time when the Quakers became fixed on plain clothing, and she was a little disappointed in that. They called her the “nursing mother of Quakerism,” but I like to think of her as “the nursing mother of me and my eight sisters,” if you know what I mean. She was my mother, after all.
SOLDIER (to audience): And some soldiers like me, seeing the example of Margaret Fell and George Fox suffering for their faith, gave up our weapons and became Friends ourselves.
JOHN LOCKE (to audience): Penn’s Holy Experiment was a success, you could say; he never fortified Philadelphia, and the Leni Lenape never attacked it. Quakers started going there and doing well, then, of course, others started going there too. Some of those things, that were once a dream- tolerance, freedom, equality, got their start over there in the colonies.
WILLIAM (to audience): Upon my father’s death, I received this gold chain (shows it). It’s somewhat vain, not very Quakerly. You know, sometimes I look upon this new land, this Pennsylvania, and I think, tolerance, freedom, equality, the Holy Experiment; it’s really something, it’s really a new world. But other times I just remember my father, and all he did for me, and I say, I’m keeping this chain, Quakerly or not. Thank you, dad!
GEORGE FELL (to audience): My mother eased her suspicion of Penn in the end; he was a genuine friend, and ally to the Quakers. You know, if you have a lot, you have a lot more to lose. And, here’s the amazing thing. Though she too lost everything, she was not bitter. Her last words were, “I am in Peace.”


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