Sunday 29 January 2017

Death of Marat by Roques

   Roques, Mort de Marat (1793) 163.2 cm x 128 cm.
Musée des Augustins, Toulouse

This striking rendition of the death of Marat by Guillaume-Joseph Roques (1754-1847) is the only painting of the subject to approach David's in sophistication and technical competence. Roques was a prominent provincial artist from Toulouse. In 1778 he had won the first prize of the Royal Academy of Painting and made the trip to study in Rome.  He returned to Toulouse after a few years and became an influential  teacher;  Ingres was among his pupils at the Toulouse Royal Academy of Arts. Roques seems to have weathered the vicissitudes of the Revolution and Restoration without trouble; his best known works apart from the Marat are a set of canvasses depicting the life of the Virgin Mary, painted from 1810–1820 for the choir of the church of Notre-Dame de la Daurade.

Wednesday 25 January 2017

David's Death of Marat

David's Death of Marat is one of the most iconic pictures in Western art,  but there is much uncertainty surrounding its conception. Some of the pieces of the puzzle have only come to light very recently and are still the subject of unresolved speculation. What follows summarises some of the available evidence:

Monday 23 January 2017

Isaac Newton and the French Prophets

Was the great Newton himself attracted to the French Prophets?

The natural contact between Newton and the Prophets would have been Fatio de Duillier. There is not much evidence by which to gauge the tenor of the relationship between the two men after the split of 1693. They seem to have met occasionally and remained on  good terms, though they seldom spoke together in public; their mutual friend David Gregory, professor of Mathematics at Edinburgh University, records a conversation about Royal Society business which took place in 1702.  A few letters from Fatio to Newton from 1704 also survive but these largely concern Fatio's watches. On the other hand, a list of books acquired by Newton in 1702,  preserved among his papers in the Bodleian,  contains a large number of titles in French and perhaps hints that the two may have resumed their alchemical speculations. ["Ekin list" Bodleian Library Oxford: MS New College 361/11 f78r-78v.]

The only direct mention of Newton in relation to the French Prophets comes from a memorandum by David Gregory among his manuscripts in the University Library, Edinburgh.

Fatio had introduced Gregory to the Prophets at the end of October 1706; Gregory reported that their message centred on the approaching military defeat of France and the triumph of Protestantism.
I was in the company into which Mr Fatio introduced three [prophets].  Those are they who pretend to inspiration and prophecy....They read a paper.  Mr Fatio has written most of what they have prophesized, and even their prayers, and seems much take up with them....The constant tenor of their prophecys is of the Peace of the Church to follow upon the ruin of Rome.  They talk of the Restauration of the Church of France as at hand.  They tell of illiterate people with them having the Gift of Tongues, of being in Fire and not being hurt".
On 29th January 1706/7 Gregory recorded predictions of a "greater and more fatal" military blow delivered to Louis XIV and the defection of French courtiers for Protestantism.
Then on 30 January, the anniversary of Charles I's execution, he reports the following conversation with Newton:

Sir Isaac Newton tells me that M. Fatio told him that those Camisars Prophets say that King Louis shall be made Prisoner in the present War, & shall be kept betwixt an Iron Grate on the one side & Fire on the other.   What an Iron Grate & a Fire mean we shall clearly understand at the accomplishment of the Prophecy.

The imagery of iron and fire derives from the Book of Revelation and does indeed feature in Elie Marion's Warnings, though the threats against Louis XIV were not made so explicitly in any of the published prophecies. The exchange between Newton and Fatio would have taken place  after the ministers of the Savoy churches had condemned the prophets on 5th January 1717, but before May when Fatio, Marion and Jean Daudé were indicted at the Queen's Bench for "publishing false and scandalous pamphlets".

Newton's posthumously published  Observations upon the Prophecies of Daniel
In a book of literary anecdotes, published posthumously in 1820, Joseph Spence records two comments by contemporaries concerning Newton and the French Prophets. The first is a letter from the Dean of Peterborough, Francis Lockier,  who opines that it was "not at all improbable" that Newton, who was obsessed with astrology and alchemy,  "might have had a hankering after the French Prophets". The  second, more significant reference  comes from the Chevalier Ramsay: 
"Sir Isaac himself had a strong inclination to go and hear these prophets, and was restrained from it, with difficulty, by some of his friends who feared he might be infected with them as Fatio had been". (Spence,  Anecdotes, Observations and Characters of Books and Men. 1820, p.43).

Newtonian scholars are skeptical that the ever-cautious Newton would have really risked his credibility by going to a meeting of the Prophets; on the other hand, his study of Biblical prophecy,  his belief in the forthcoming millenium and his former close association with Fatio all suggest his curiosity might indeed have been roused.


Margaret Jacob, "Newton and the French Prophets"History of Science, Vol. 16, p. 134-142
Michael White, Newton: the last sorcerer.  London: Fourth Estate, 1997, p.297-301. [Extracts on Google Books]

Correspondence between Newton and Fatio:

In 2005 a hitherto unknown autograph letter from Newton to Fatio, dated 14th September 1724, was auctioned by Christie's -and fetched £48,000!  The letter is addressed to Fatio "at the signe of the Cabinet in the foregate street in Worcester" and concerns mainly prospective investments in the York Buildings Company.

Tuesday 17 January 2017

The Prophet John Lacy

[Yes, I know I am straying from the theme of French trivia....]

The most prominent Englishman among the French Prophets, John Lacy, was born in Saffron Walden in Essex in 1664. He was a prosperous Justice of the Peace, a married man and one of the leading members of the Presbyterian congregation of Westminster Chapel. He was also a close friend of Sir Richard Bulkeley, and an active member of the Society for the Reformation of Manners;  in 1704 he had written a pamphlet in defence of occasional conformity, lamenting the loss of the spirit of unity in "this Relapsed and Apostate World" (quoted Schwartz, The French Prophets, p.64).  After hearing the three prophets and talking to refugees from the Cévennes, Lacy became convinced that their utterances represented "the Truth of Divine Inspiration".  In 1707 he published an English  translation of  Misson's history under the title A Cry from the Desert.  In his Preface he observes that the contortions and agitations of the inspirés resembled those of the Old Testament prophets who also displayed "divers strange Gestures of Body". For Lacy the miracles in the Cévennes were only the prelude to a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which was to be centred on England and  was "speedily expected." 

Shortly afterwards Lacy himself became the first English convert to receive the "gift" of prophecy.  On the very day that he delivered his translation to the printer, 1st March 1707, he was seized with "bodily agitations", and some months later, in June, he made his first prophetic pronouncements.  He subsequently became a leading figure in the movement. He put his legal expertise to the service of the group and organised rental of the meeting house in the Barbican. He also published a number of justifications, accounts of his own experience, and three volumes of utterances, entitled The Prophetic Warnings of John Lacy.

Illustration from a later 18th-century book of "Prophetical Extracts"
containing passages from A Cry from the Desert
In these works Lacy emphasises that he did not consider himself marked out or deserving of special distinction. His pronouncements "under the Spirit" were completely outside his voluntary control.  The onset of the Spirit's descent was marked by "agitations" which characteristically came upon him fifteen minutes or so in advance of his prophecies - heaving of the chest, gasping and "hiccuping".  On one occasion he was recorded as seeming to levitate and be thrown across the room.  According to Lacy the agitations "sensibly refresh the Body" and "do not waste the Spirits, but exhilarate".  Emotional catharsis followed the Spirit's departure. Lacy also performed automatic writing - his fingers would contract of their own accord and his hand would write out divine warnings. He would "speak in tongues", Greek, Latin and French, which he did not understand in his waking state since, unlike his older brothers, he had not received a university education. (Opponents pointed out that he had translated from the French and had at least some schooling in the classics).

In the course of late 1707 and 1708 Lacy found himself the vehicle for a number of miraculous cures.  They were attested by his friend, Sir Richard Bulkeley, who was himself healed of a catalogue of afflictions.  In a pamphet of 1708 Lacy enumerated the instances - mostly fairly modest cases of fevers and sores. On 17th August 1707  Elizabeth Gray claimed, under inspiration, that Lacy would heal her. She  commenced  to choke and suffocate but Lacy failed to deliver – in the end she came out of the ordeal  by herself. On a subsequent occasion, however, he cured her of temporary (and no doubt hysterical) blindness.  Lacy also found himself drawn unhappily into the fiasco of the resurrection of Dr.Emes.  He was induced by critics to set a definite date for the miracle,  but failed to attend the meeting at Bunhill Fields and subsequently retracted his claims.

 In 1711 Lacy was to cause consternation among the faithful by leaving his wife and entering an adulterous relationship with  Elizabeth Gray. In a published letter to Thomas Dutton, he claimed that God had explicitly commanded him to do this, with "a supernatural outward Voice heard, that threaten'd me with Eternal Destruction and Hell-Fire if I disobey'd".  Betty Gray was to give birth to a new Messiah. The couple settled in Lancashire, where, Betty, alas, produced only girls. He was not expelled from the group for his behaviour, though his influence was much diminished. 

Behind Lacy's outward respectability and lucid pen,  lay a  troubled personality and a history of financial difficulties. His minister at Westminster, Edmund Calamy mentions an unsuccessful lawsuit in 1704 which had plunged him into an irrational depression.  In 1708 he attempted to sell his land and manor in Littlebury, Essex in 1708, hoping to raise £10,000 to pay off his debts.  Fortunately for the family, the bulk of his estate remained in trust and he was forced to live off a relatively modest allowance. 

Little was heard of Lacy in his final decades. In 1723 he published a last defence of prophecy,  The Scene of Delusions in 1723, in which he specifies his location as "Brownslane" in Cheshire.  According to Calamy, he was condemned for adultery by the Bishop of Chester, but his wife refused to take him back.  He died in 1730 at the age of sixty-four.  Fatio du Dullier refused to consider his death "otherwise than as a Memorandum of our common Mortality" (cited Schwartz, p.194)


Works of John Lacy:

- A Cry from the Desart, or Testimonials of the Miraculous Things lately come to pass in the Cevennes  (London 1707) translation of Maximilien Misson, Le Théâtre sacré des Cévennes.

- The Prophetical Warnings of John Lacy Esq.; pronounced under the Operation of the Spirit: and Faithfully Taken in Writing, when they were Spoken (London 1707). Preface dated July 18th.

Warnings of the Eternal Spirit, by the Mouth of his Servant John, sirnam'd Lacy. (2nd and 3rd parts, London 1707).

A Relation of the Dealings of God to his Unworthy Servant John Lacy, since the Time of his Believing and Professing Himself Inspir'd (London, 1708)

- Letter from John Lacy, to Thomas Dutton, being Reasons why the former left his Wife, and took E. Gray a Prophetess to his Bed,  dated 6th March 1711 in  Keimer,  A Brand pluck'ed from Burning (1718), app.

The General Delusion of Christians, Touching the Ways of God's Revealing Himself, to, and by the Prophets. (4 parts London 1713)
Modern edition The Spirit of Prophecy Defended, ed.  J. Ramsey Michaels (2003)

 - The Vision of John Lacy, Esq, a Prophet, on Thursday the 9th of June 1715 (London, 1715)

- The Scene of Delusions, by the Rev. Mr Owen of Warrington...Confuted by One of the Modern Prophets (London 1723)



Lacy's testimony

This account comes from Lacy's Preface to The Prophetic Warnings of John Lacy, Esq., dated 18th July 1707:

The bodily Impressions were gradually increasing upon me 'till the Effect or rather Issue of them was produced, to wit, the Opening my Mouth to speak. 

 They began by a preternatural Course of Breathing; then my Head came to be agitated or shaken violently and forcibly, and with a very quick Motion horizontally, or from Side to Side: then my Stomach had Twitches not much unlike a Hyccop: afterwards my Hands and Arms were violently shaken, at length a Struggle or Labouring in the Wind-pipe, and sometimes a sort of catching all over my Body; and, for about a Week before my Speaking, I observed my Tongue was now and then moved involuntarily, as were also my Lips, my Mouth, and Jaw severally; all which Preparation of the bodily Organs O found attended with a constant Elevation of my Soul to God; the Mind being unaccountably cast into a Frame of spiritual Joy, holy Contempt of all things in the World...during all this Time, I searched the Scriptures carefully for my Direction, and heedfully consider'd all the Advices given me by Friends.

After so much Care, and Fear of being deluded, I am the better assured and I do affirm, without the least Doubt, that my Agitations and Words in the Ecstasie,  are produced by a Supernatural Agent, and are independent of me any further, than that I do not, nor dare not oppose, but to remain altogether passive.  My Mind at those Times continues clear and sedate;  during which, my Fear and Caution makes me wait always, till the Tongue be moved by that Superior Power:  Nor does any Impulse alone prevail with me therein; so that ' tis no longer I, as the voluntary prime Mover and Agent, that speak; and oftentimes I know not the Sense, till the Words are spoken, and so heard by me as by other Persons present.....

 Lacy explains that the "agitations" usually came upon him a quarter of an hour before he speaks; he spends that time in prayer but does not prepare beforehand.  He assures the reader that he is in good mental and physical health:

 I know assuredly, that no Trouble of Mood, nor Melancholy, nor a Prepossession of Prophetic Schemes drew me into the State that I am under:  I enjoy at this Time, thro' Mercy, a perfect Health, without any Pain, Sickness or Weakness whatsoever, or any sort of Disorder proceeding from the frequent ecstatic Agitations; I sleep ordinarily 7 Hours in 23;  I have a good Appetite and Digestion; and I appeal to all Persons with whom I converse...whether I am otherwise beside myself, than only to God. 

Lacy assures his readers he would not have willingly invited the "Clamours and Contempt" that he has suffered; he has been sustained only by the "inward Joy that I have from the Great Comforter".  It would otherwise have been "an inexpressible Grief to me, to be a Messenger of ill Tydings to my native Country, which no Man loves better".  Lacy declares his loyalty to the Queen and the clergy and ends by emphasising that he no pretensions to particular righteousness.
The Prophetical Warnings of John Lacy Esq. (London 1707), p.iv-vii.

Lacy gives a similar account in a pamphet published in 1708.  He explains that for a full year he  has succumbed  to "agitations" stemming from "an agent separate and distinct from me".  He was  just one of two or three hundred people in London to be so affected: 

 But that the Agitations proceed from a supernatural Cause, and of an Agent separate and distinct from me, I cannot be ignorant of this , after a full year's Experience.  When my Arm, Leg or Head is shaken, I must be allowed to know whether it be voluntarily, from myself or not.  And I  do affirm it is not from myself, nor at my own Will or pleasure; but on the contrary when that Agent does so, if I think to suppress the same, he does continue so to start and twitch my Limbs, and by more interior Uneasiness over my whole Body, to solicit my Obedience, that I can have no rest till I suffer the same to take place... Under this foreign influence, I felt my Fingers forcibly contracted and mov'd, to write those words in p.90 of the first Book of Warnings; Under this influence my Body was remov'd ten or eleven foot, as in p.65 of the second Part, without any concurrent mixture of my Agency: under this influence the Respiration of my Breath hath, for sundry days, beat various Tunes of the Drum, sometimes six hours in a day, without my voluntary Operation, or thinking of it; nay sometimes without being able to stifle it.  Under this influence I have experienc'd, sometimes a Voice so strong and clear, sometimes so harmonious, as my natural one never did nor could furnish. Under the same, I have been carry'd on my knees, several times round a Room, swifter than I could have gone on  my feet.  Some other particularitys, many have been also Witnesses of; but these may suffice to shew, that I am at times under the agency of another distinct Being: in which times the Tongue also is at the direction of that foreign Agent, and no more under mine, than the motion of other Parts of my Body.  This is the true State of the Case with me, and evidently parallel'd, with some Variations in 2 or 300 other persons in London.....

But 'tis necessary I add further, that God has distinguish'd his Favours to me in the point of Health; so that the Agitations ceasing...leave me perfectly at ease: nor do they bring with them concomitantly any sort of Pain or Oppression; and instead of enfeebling, do sensibly refresh the Body;  and whatever be the Violence or Continuance of them, do not waste the Spirits, but exhilarate: the never have injur'd any other Person, no more than him whom they affect.  There comes with them an Influx to the Mind also, lifting it up in Prayer to God, withe Reverence and Awe:  All which I know of a certainty is so with me; and as God knows it too, I cannot reconcile the same with the Superintendency of an evil Spirit, operating upon me at those times.
A Relation of the Dealings of God to his Unworthy Servant John Lacy (London, 1708), p.10 

Eyewitness accounts

The printer Samuel Keimer, an erstwhile follower of the Prophets, describes a meeting he attended in Southwark, where he witnessed John Lacy prophesy:

As soon as I enter'd the Room, which was large and pretty full of People, the first Objects which drew my Observation, were a Woman well drest, on her Knees, and a Man standing before her with his Hands upon her Head, uttering several Sentences, mixt with strange Hiccups, and Shakings of his Head forwards and backwards, his Body as it seem'd to me, jumping while he was speaking.  Between every two or three Words speaking, he cry'd, Hoh, Hoh, Hoh, Hoh, O____h, O_____h, O_____h, as if her were taking his last Gasp.  This Man's Name was John Lacy, Esq; a Person known by many to be a Man of Sobriety and Substance, and who belong'd to a Congregation of Presbyterians, to whom Edmond Calamy a noted Man, was Preacher.  This Laying on of Hands, and speaking to the Person on her Knees, was call'd as I afterwards came to understand, the Gift of Blessing.
Keimer,  A Brand pluck'ed from Burning (1718), p.6

Edmund Calamy, Lacy's minister attests that Lacy had a background of emotional instability: two years previously he had been plunged into depression by the loss of an important lawsuit; (Calamy did not know the details but reported that the case had infuriated chief Justice Holt at Westminster Hall.)    

Last year, I left Mr. Lacy much dejected upon the loss of his lawsuit,... He soon proved delirious, was forced to be confined, and kept in the dark, etc.   For awhile, his language was raving, and very sad;  such as he never used before, though not uncommon with delirious persons......

Lacy continued to worship at the Westminster Chapel, even after he fancied himself inspired; at the urging of Lacy's wife and mother-in-law Calamy preached a course of sermons against the New Prophets. He was dining with the family on one occasion when Lacy suddenly got up from the table and staggered upstairs.  His wife informed the minister that Lacy was "going into his agitations"  Calamy at first observed unseen from a closet with a glass door.  He saw Lacy heaving to and fro and "heard a humming noise, but no sound that was at all distinct".  With his wife's agreement, he entered the room:

Accordingly, I went into the room where he sate, and walked up to him, and asked how he did, and took him by the hand, and lifted it up, and it fell down flat upon his knees as it lay before.  He took no notice of me, nor made me any answer; but I observed the humming noise grew louder by degrees, and the heaving in his breast increased, till it came up to his throat, as if it would have suffocated him.  Then he, at last proceeded to speak, or he would have it taken, the Spirit spake in him.  The speech was syllabical and there was a distinct heave and breath between each syllable;  but it required attention to distinguish the words,  I shall here add it as far as my memory serves:

Thou__  hast__  been__  my__  faith-ful__  ser-vant;__  and__  I__  have__  ho-nour-ed__  thee.__  But__  I__  do__  not__  take__  it__  well__  that__  thou__  slight-est__  and__  op-pos-est__  my__  ser-vants__  and__  mes-sen-gers.__   If__  though__  wilt__  fall__  in__  with__  these__  my__  ser-vants,__  thou__  shalt__  do__  great__  things__  in__  this__  dis-pen-sa-tion;__  and__  I__  will__  use__  thee__  as__  a__  glo-ri-ous__  in-stru-ment__  to__  my__  praise,__  and__  I__  will__  take__  care__  of__  thee__  and__  thine.__  But__  if__  thou__  go-est__  on__  to__  op-pose__  my__  ser-vants,__  thou__  wilt__  fall__  un-der__  my__  se-vere__  dis-pleas-sure.__

When the speech was over, the humming and heaving gradually abated.  I again took him by the hand and felt his pulse, which moved quick;  but I could not perceive by his hands more than common heat.  I again asked him how he did.  After some time, he rose up, shook himself, and rubbed his eyes, like one just waked out of sleep.  I asked him if he would not go down and and end his dinner.   When we were got down stairs again, I asked if he distinctly remembered what had passed, and he told me, no.

 Edmund, Calamy, An historical account of my own life (1830) vol. 2, p.94-7

Mr Lacy's Admirers and Abettors may flatter him and themselves that his Intellects are sound and no ways craz'd, but his nearest Relations and best Friends were apprehensive, that his Brain was somewhat touch'd a little before his closing with the pretended French Prophets, and therefore Prayers were put up for him at Mr Calamy's Meeting-House, as I am inform'd, that God would be pleased to restore him to his right Mind.
Richard Kingston, Enthusiastick Imposters no Divinely Inspir'd Prophets (1707) p.39


Here are some notes  from  J. Ramsey Michaels's introduction to his modern edition of The General Delusion of Christians:  

Lacy takes issue with cessationists who would deny the possibility of prophecy in the modern world, in particular he challenges their interpretation of 1 Corinthians 13: 9-10: “For we know in part and we prophesy in part.  When that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away!”  He emphasises his respect for the inscrutable sovereignty of God and the limitations of human knowledge.   It is precisely because of those limitations that prophetic and charismatic movements are still needed:
For, as we have properly no knowledge of God revealed but what is derived to us by the Spirit of prophecy, we are not only taught by him in St. Paul that "we know but in part", but in St. Peter also, that "the word of prophecy is a light that shineth in a dark place [2. Pet. i.19] (p.4)

Those who hold that the era of prophecy is at an end are likened to the New Teatament Sadducees who denied the bodily resurrection and angels. For Lacy they are little better than Deists, "Scoffers, Atheists, Sadducees".
The work is divided into four parts, which trace the history of prophecy.
1. Divine revelation in the Bible, whether through angels, dreams, prophetic visions and voices.
2. "Uncontroverted" prophecy in the New Testament and Early Church.
3. "Controverted" prophecy in the Montanist heresy.

4. "Modern opinions concerning prophecy". Lacy warns the modern Church not to deny all present prophecy and so make the same mistake that ancient Church made in its condemnation of the Montanists. He disputes the clause in Westminster Confession of Faith (1647) which denied the possibility of additions to Scripture through "new revelations of the Spirit" (p.387). It is not the Prophets who have corrupted Scripture but their opponents, who substitute the "traditions" and "commandments" of men.  After more than a thousand years, God's spirit is again working through Prophecy.  These are not new truths.  Those who acknowledge the outpourings of the Holy Spirit through dreams, visions and prophecies,  are merely honouring the precedent of Scripture and adhering to the simplicity of "the truth as it is in Jesus" (p.507)
See: The Spirit of Prophecy Defended, ed.  J. Ramsey Michaels (2003), introduction


In a pamplet in defence of the Prophets, written in  1708, Sir Richard Bulkeley sets out to answer sceptics who "are not willing to admit any thing of miraculous Operation, that shall surpass Nature and Reason" (p.113)  He first relates his own miraculous liberation from a host of miserable afflictions - headaches, sweats, gallstones and a vicious rupture for which he had been obliged for four years  to wear a truss ("if this be in the Power of Fancy to effect, I desire never to be awaken'd out of that Delusion"!) 

He then gives an account of the case of Hugh Preston, an unbeliever, who was one of Lacy's first cures, on 29th November 1707. Mr Preston's recovery seems more down to hygiene than divine intervention, but the details are worth reproducing (if only for the horrors of 18th-century medicine).

There was one Mr P[resto]n who lodg'd in the Underground Rooms of the New Square in Lincolns Inn, Number 2.who is about seventy seven years of Age, and had, about Novemb. 14. last, a Boil that rose in the Nape of his Neck, and very big; at length it broke, and while it was running, no body having the Care to dress it but his Wife, by very ill Managery, it grew so bad, spreading upward and toward each Ear, that when I saw it, it was as big as a large Turnip of five Inches Diameter, and above two Inches high;  all of dead Flesh, black and livid;  but having divers Orifices in it, out of which Corruption was continually running; and all sides of it, all around, very much inflam'd, and shooting so in the adjacent Parts, that he could get no Rest, for three Nights before we went to visit him.  He desir'd that Mr Lacy would pray for a Command from God to come and heal him; who, upon Prayer, was sent thither.  We were ten Persons who accompany'd him thither, upon Saturday Night, Nov.29. it was open'd to all our View.  There had been a Chirurgion to see it, who, as we were inform'd, had ask'd Ten Pounds to cure it.....And indeed, altho I have been for fifteen Years past much conversant in Cures of Sores, yet I never saw anything like it.  However, as I said before, after it was open'd to all our View, it was cover'd again; and then we had Prayers and an Inspiration from two of the Inspir'd.  After which (viz. about an Hour and a half) Mr. Lacy order'd that the Sore should be open'd again.  The Man declar'd he had immediate Ease from his burning ahd shooting Pain; and indeed, at the second View of it, it seem'd to be diminish'd about a sixth part.  Mr Lacy told us we might come and see it again in a Day or two.  Upon the Wednesday after, I came to see it; and b that time, it had lost above a third part, and now look'd, for Size, like a flatdry'd Apple, such as comes from beyond Sea, but intirey free from Pain.  It was order'd, at first, that nothing of Medicinal Virtue should be appy'd to it; and that only clearn Linen, or a Skin of  a Bladder, or the like that might lie close, should be put on; and so it went away, so fast, that every time it was dress'd (which was three or four times a day) the said dead flesh came away in great Strings and Pieces; sticking to whatever was laid upon the Sore.  And so in about a Fortnight's time, it was a smooth and level as the back of one's hand, and is and has been ever since perfectly well; of which the old Man is so sensible, that, upon all Occasions, he magnifies and blesses the Name of God.
Sir Richard Bulkeley, An Answer to Several Treatises Lately Publish'd on the Subject of the Prophets (1708) p.113-5.

Lacy himself enumerates his early successes in his Relation of 1708.  In each case it is the Spirit which is described as giving words of healing to the sick person through Lacy, who acts under inspiration.

 Sir Richard Bulkeley:  he was "absolutely cur'd, by the merciful Hand of God, without means, soon after a Promise thereof made him thro' my mouth, under the Operation of the Spirit".  Lacy refers the reader to Bulkeley's own account "for more ample satisfaction".
Mr James Jackson, in George's Court, near Hicks's-Hall, aged 72.  15th November 1707His failing eyesight was cured by "a Promise from the Spirit in my mouth":."he can now write without Spectacles, and even a whole day together, without Failure of Eyesight; and does walk the streets without a Guide".
Mrs Mosely, a neighbour of James Jackson, also cured in November. After "A Prayer in the Spirit" and "Words of Healing" she gradually recovered from a fever that had been thought fatal.
Mr Preston, lodging in the Underground Room, No.2 of the New Square, Lincoln's-Inn, aged about 77, in November last too, having a Carbuncle on the Nape of his Neck, about five inches in diameter, and two high;  after a Prayer, the Spirit said touching him in my mouth, I command away the Tumour: which accordingly went clear away, without any application but a Bladder (to keep it from the Linen) in about ten days after.
Mrs. Mary Moor, at Mrs. Norris's in Fashion-Street, Spittlefields, cured in January 1708.
Mrs  Moor had been confined to her bed for a month with "a deep consumption";  Lacy visited her and "after a Prayer, under the Operation of the Spirit, words of healing were pronounc'd.  The Effect was that the very next day she rose at tea, and sat up till eleven at night;  and has since continu'd in a good degree of Health"
Mrs Clark, at a China-Ware-House in Queen-Street, in the City, in January  - headache.
Mr. Rayner at Colchester, in March (fever) 
Mr Spong, at a barbers near the Church in Coleman Street, cured on 29th March - ulcer of the jaw.
Mr. Burrough's child at the Amsterdam Coffee-House at the Royal Exchange, in April - "swelling of the Evil" (?) and fever, but no outcome as yet. 
Mr Byeward, in Ormond Street, victualler - completely paralysed.  He had been given a conditional promise of healing depending on faith in God and prayers.
Mr John Moult, in Watling Street - longstanding paralysis of the hand.  This was the chemist Francis Moult's brother; he had been  promised a cure in January but nothing had happened as yet.
Mr John Holloway, at Dr Bishop's in East-Smithfield, in January - promised a cure for the King's Evil.
Mrs Harding's child at Southwark - cough / spitting of blood.  Cured in April.
Mrs Rustback of Islington - convinced she was cured of breast cancer, though no effect as yet.
In April Lacy had a more illustrious supplicant when he was commanded to visit Sir Joseph Tyley at Whitehall, who had been confined to bed for nine months with gout: The Day following, he eat a plentiful Dinner, his Pain ceased; and he continu'd to eat, drink, and sleep, as a Man in reasonable Health..."

These Relations I give in part from my own Knowledge, and partly from the Accounts I have had of other Persons: and having not industriously magnify'd any thing in them, to  make it bear a higher or different Sense, than the obvious Signification of the Words, or the real matter of Fact imports, I do here publish them, according to an Order receiv'd by the Spirit.....
Relation of the Dealings of God to his Unworthy Servant John Lacy p.25-27.


Samuel Keimer reported that there had been a rumoure for some time among the Believers that John Lacy was to undergo a great Trial.  They finally learned that he had been ordered by the Spirit to leave his wife and take Elizabeth Gray, a Prophetess, on whom he was to beget Children. The news "put several of the Believers into a Ferment", especially the women who feared it was a  bad precedent.  Among those who dissented were the Prophet Thomas Dutton, who was answered in print by Lacy.  
Some Time after this, (as I take it) John Lacy one Morning gets up betimes, leaves his Wife in Bed...and takes E. Gray, who were both joyn'd together by the Spirit through Mary Keimer, at a Meeting commanded by the Inspir'd.  From this Time, or before John Lacy and E. Gray liv'd together, as Man and Wife, and it was prosphecy'd, that as a conformation the Command afore mentioned was from God, the First Child begotten by them should be a Son, and should work Miracles, as soon as born.  However, after some Time, E.Gray prov'd with Child, and was deliver'd of a Daughter.  It was again prophecy'd the next Child was to be the Son; but that Prophecy likewise prov'd false as the other had done.  Notwithstanding all which, they stilll live together in Adultery, believing the Holy god has so commanded.  For my own Part, I now sincerely believe that John Lacy did not leave his Wife from any lustful Desire, but solely in Obedience to the Spirit's Commands.
A Brand pluck'ed from Burning, p.57-9.

 Some time after, without the least notice, he leaves his lady, and children, and lives among the prophets.  He takes to himself, for a wife, one Betty Grey, who had been a snuffer of candles in the playhouse, but now passed for a person inspired.  This, in one of his inspirations that I saw, he calls, quitting Hagar, and betaking himself to Sarah, by order the Spirit.  By this creature he had several children.[...]

After all, it was the happiness of Mr. Lacy's family, that his estate and income (which otherwise, in all probability, had been entirety consumed in sup- porting these prophets and their cause) was legally vested in trustees for the benefit of his wife and children. They paid Mr. Lacy 50/. every quarter for his own separate use and maintenance, without his being accountable to any one, how he spent it. With this allowance, and what ready money he had by him, he went into Lancashire, (a cheap country to live in,) and there cohabited with Betty Grey, and had children by her; having his head still full of inspiration, and discovering no concern for his wife and children whom he had deserted. 

After some time, he was put into the Spiritual Court, for living in adultery, and Dr. Gastrel, the late Bishop of the Diocese of Chester, (in which he lived,) dealt with him about it. At last, the Bishop inquired, in a private way, whether Mrs. Lacy would receive her husband again, if he could be prevailed with to return to her, (though how far he was commissioned for it, I cannot say) but she positively refusing a thing to which I never heard any one that knew the case, pretend to say she was obliged, he continued living in those parts, and became a thorough-paced Conformist, knelt at the altar, and persisted in his prophetic notions and irregular life, till he died, 1730, without any public sign of repentance.
Edmund, Calamy, An historical account of my own life, p.99;113-4. 

This unhappy Man at last, when the Heat of his Brain had scorched up his Judgment, (as it did all the while he acted the Prophet) instead of taking Shame upon himself, and humbling himself before his God for his Sins, more especially of Pride and Blastsphemy, quitted all Sense of Religion, and turned out a Rake and Libertine  - So easy a Transition is the Sink from a crackbrained Zealot to that of an Atheist! 
Theophilus Evans, History of Modern Enthusiasm (1757), p.106-7

Sunday 15 January 2017

An account of the Prophetess Elizabeth Gray

This account of the Prophetess Elizabeth Gray (sometimes "Grey") is taken from a pamphet of 1707 by Richard Kingston, a vituperative and well-informed opponent of the French Prophets.  In this instance  Kingston quotes from Letters he claims to have  received from a  "Mr. L. M." and a "Mr W. C". both of whom were be present at meetings in which Elizabeth Gray played a conspicuous part.  Despite the hostile bias, the parallel between Betty Gray and  later  Jansenist Convulsionnaires is clear.  Both Betty and her companion Anne Watts,  "Pudding-pie Moll", a shop maid to a pastry-cook, were young girls from comparatively humble social backgrounds,  readily suspected of opportunism and imposture. They introduced a new element of figurative enactment into the repertoire of the French Prophets, along very similar lines to the Jansenist tableaux. (In Kingston's second letter Betty impersonates the "Whore of Babylon")  Whether deliberately or subconsciously, there was also an evident sexual undercurrent to their performance - and, it seems, to their relations with some of the male adherents.

17th-century Dutch portrayal of a Quaker meeting

Kingston, Enthusiastick Imposters no Divinely Inspir'd Prophets, vol. 1 (London: J. Morphew, 1707), p.45-8: "Letter from Mr L. M.":
It was about this time, that the precious piece of Mortality, Betty Grey, who makes such a Figure in this Narration, came, and almost without Calling, to add to the Number of the Inspired, and has proved so great a Proficient in the Art and Mystery of Prophesying, and Feats of Activity, as to outdo all the rest.

Of her Parents and Education I have no Knowledge, all the Account I have of  her is, that she is the Man's Niece that snuffs the Candles at the Play-House, and there in all Probability she learn'd the gamesome Frolicks she "practised among the pretended Prophets;  with whom she came acquainted, by the French Prophets lodging at her Uncle's Home about a Fortnight, and all of a sudden, grew very intimate and familiar with them.  It seems, she was a wild skittish Girl, and Mr. Marion rebuked her for her light and wanton Behaviour, which had such an Effect upon her, that she took it to Heart, and wept bitterly, and ever after shed Tears when he spoke to her, tho' Betty understood no French, and Marion could speak no English.  However, after this she  became more Serious; and one of them having an Inspiration while they lodged there, and declaring, that one of that Family was to be called out for the Work and Service of the Lord, Betty Grey was soon seized with the Symptons of Inspiration, and in a little time after her Mouth was opened.

Not long after, says my Friend, Mr. L. M., Betty did all things by Inspiration: Left her Aunt's House sometimes two or three Days and Nights together.  After that ten or twelve Days and Nights successively, and at last, told her poor deluded Uncle and Aunt, that she must leave them for good and all; for she had received a new Name from Heaven, viz. Saraiah the Mother of the Faithful, and therefore must live among the Prophets, and work in the Lord's Vineyard.  This her Aunt told me.

One of these Prophets is extreamly taken with the sweet and charming Society of Betty Grey (for so I will call her, till I have better Authority for her Mock-Name) and as I am credibly inform'd, embraces and blesses her when she is in Bed, and that by Inspiration too, which I am inclin'd to believe, from the over-amorous Relations that frequently drop from her own Mouth, which I have been amazed to hear; and from their kissing, singing, dancing, and whistling in their Extases;  baudy Postures upon the Bed, and more particularly, by what a handsome Leg I once saw among them, with other Indecencies;  of which I could give you large Testimonies.......

When Betty Grey left her Uncle and Aunt, she told they must expect to hear no more from her till she was in Prison;  but that proved  notoriously false.  She also told me that Mr. Lacy and the other Prophets longed more for a Prison than for Meat and Drink; for then the Judgments they had foretold would certainly come to pass.

Their last Meeting on June 28 1707, consisted of about thirty Persons; where Mr. Allut a French Proselyte had the first Inspiration, and after other Words, his Spirit declared, that Betty Grey should have a Vision of Angels.  She took the Hint, and before Allut had quite done, fell into an Extasy, and pretended she had such a Vision, but refused to tell the Particulars publickly. Though another of the Inspired too an opportunity to say, that her Vision was a Confirmation of Mr.Allut's Inspiration; though there was no other Proof of her Vision than her bare Affirmation, and every one knew their Cue so perfectly, that I and several others that were present, were really of Opinion, it was concerted between them before they came from home, for they cohabit in the same House.  Thus Sir, all that they would have look strange, and like Truth is acted upon and among themselves, who being under the same Delusion, will not not discover their own Cheats.

Mr Lacy acted the next Part, but run so hard against the English Clergy...that Sir Richard Bulkeley was forc'd to strike twice upon the Table, before he could check his Career, and take him off his Speed....

When I thought the Show was at an end, Allut, who stood by me near the Door, fell into such a dreadful Fit, as frightened a Gentleman that came with me.  He fell upon his Back, afterwards turn'd upon his Face, and as they said, prayed incomparably.  Then Allut and Betty Grey made a shew of departing, but when they had gone down two or three Steps, an Inspiration seized Betty, upon which she returned and had such a dreadful Fit, that sitting down in a Chair, she made the very Room shake.  In short, Sir, she had a huge Hamper full of Blessings to bestow, one of which I believe was designed for me, if I had not made the best of my way to prevent it.  They continued in giving their Blessings till ten a Clock.

I might also acquaint you Sir, with the Gentleman's Reflexions upon Betty Grey's immodest Actions, but 'tis too smutty for chaste Ears;  for in truth, all her Agitations are attended with such shameful baudy Sight, that none in their Senses, can believe them to be Acts of Religious Worship, as they pretend they are.

Betty Grey's thriving so well in this Trade, and living in such great Plenty and Esteem among the chiefest of the Inspired, soon brought in another she Sinner among them, to be translated into a Prophetess...Pudding Pye Moll, I cannot yet learn her Sirname, but she is generally known in London by that, beause she lived by carrying and selling Pudding Pies about the Streets;  not that I despise any Person that uses the meanest Employment to procure an honest Livelyhood; but since I know no other Name, must be excused for calling her by this.  She was sometime under the Tuition of Betty Grey, and had only the Preparations, but not the Gift of Prophecy, till a while after, and then her Tutoress, in a solemn Meeting gave her her Blessing, open'd her Mouth, adopted her a Sister, and promised her the Gift of working Miracles.  And this is all I shall say of this Woman at present, unless she comes in my way at another Meeting. ."
"Thus Sir I have given you a short Account of part of what I was an Eye-witness, in the hopes it may contribute something to the detecting of those vile Persons...since I can truly, and without Prujudice say, that I never saw any thing among the, but what appear'd to me to be premeditated Knavery.

Broadsheet,The English and French Prophets mad or bewitche'd,  
London 1707. (BL 9512.111.27
There are several versions of this print.  
Here the individuals are identified, as follows:

A.  The French Prophet stamping with his Foot
B.  Benjamin, Jackson, Writing what they all say.  
C.  The other Writer.
D.  Sir Richard Buckley, to be made straight by the Power of the Prophets in 6 Months.
E.  Mister Dutton the Lawyer. 
 F.  Mr. Lacy shaking his Head.  
GG.  Converts not yet come to the full Spirit of Prophecy.
HHH.  Spectators.
I.  A little Boy being about 10 Years of age  being distrub'd, fell a Cursing the People, and threw himself on the ground upon his Belly.
K.  A young female Prophet of Seven Years of Age.
L.  Mrs Betty Gray, sitting at a Table with a Dove, which flew upon her Shoulder;  she is termed among the Prophets an Angel of Light.

Kingston, p.65-6: "A Letter from Mr. W. C.dated July 22.1707":
At a meeting at Sir Richard Bulkeley's chamber, in Great Russel-street, where were present Mr. Lacy, Mr. Allut, Mr. Facio, Mr. Marion, Mr. Cavalier, and almost the whole Room full of other People; Betty Grey, under violent agitations, personated the great Whore of Antichrist.  Took all the Chairs in the Room and barricaded the Door, that no body might come in or go out. This done, she laid aside her Manteau and Night-clothes, tyed up her Hair before all the Company with singular Modesty ; then taking a Peruke and Hat that she found in the Room, put them on her Head, and sat down in an Elbow Chair very Majestically, with her Arms a Kembo. After this, she rose out of the Chair, and for about an hour together thump'd and beat with her Fist every one in the Room in their Turns, except Mr. Lacy; Sir Richard Bulkeley hid himself a while in a Corner of the Room, in hopes to avoid the Effects of her Fury; but she, finding him out, laid upon him unmercifully, without any regard to his diminutive infirm Corps, or his Quality; insomuch that he found himself oblig'd to make his escape over the Bed, to shelter himself from the hard Blows of this Termagant Whore of  Antichrist; who, as soon as the Skirmish was over, sat down again in the Elbow Chair; and, being still in an Extacy, open'd her Mouth, and fell a Ranting at a rate agreeable to her own Character, and the Whore she represented.

Then Mr. Allut, falling into Agitations, and being commanded by his Spirit to combat this Female Fury, cries out, es tu la Grande Bête, la Putain de Babylon?  Art thou the great Beast the Whore of Babylon? Then rose up, pull'd her down upon the Floor, stamp'd upon her, kicked her about as if she had been a dead Cat, and, walking in Triumph on her Body, stood upon her Breast till she appear'd Lifeless. Then to try whether she was living or dead, Mr. Allut alternatively lifted up her Legs and Arms, which fell down again upon the Floor, like the Limbs of a dead Body.

Immediately after, she rose up, spoke,and gave Thanks, that Antichrist and the Whore of Babylon were overcome. upon which, both their Inspirations ceas'd; and both the Actors declar'd they had no Sense or Remembrance of what had pass'd in this Renconter; though they made such a horrid Noise in the House, that Sir Richard's landlady gave him Warning to be gone.

Of this whole Scuffle, Sir, I was an Eye witness, and in no small Pain when I received my Share of the Blows, which the Whore of Babylon with a liberal Fist bestowed upon me.
Betty Grey also acted this Tragi-Comedy at another time, at Mr Facio's Chamber, over against the Rose Tavern in Covent-Garden, in all its Circumstances, except Barricadoing up the Doors with Chairs.

This testimony can be compared with Samuel Keimer's account of various meetings of the Prophets:
In Southwark there have been a great Number of strange Signs acted, such as I believe never before were heard of...At one of their Meetings, one of the Prophets personated GOD, a second the Angel Gabriel, a Third the Devil and the Fourth (who was Mary Beer a Prophetess) acted the Church.  These several Persons acted their Parts, under Agitation, in such a frightful Manner, as the very Remembrance of it to this Day fills with Horror.. .After a great deal spoke by Way of Dialogue between 'em, each stiving which should have the Church, who was toss'd and tumbled to and fro, much like a Football, the Believers were pluck'd down (by the Inspir'd under Agitation) into the middle of the Room and tumbled one on the Top of the other, Heels over Head, wallowing on the ground in a great heap, in a filthy manner, sometimes the Spirit tumbling an Inspir'd down Stairs headlong, enough to have kill'd him at another time....

Another Time I have seen my Sister [the Prophetess Mary Keimer], who is a lusty young Woman, fling another Prophetess upon the Floor, and under Agitations, tread upon her Breast, Belly, Legs,etc, walking several Times backwards and forwards over her, and stamping upon her with Violence.  This was adjudg'd to be a Sign of the Fall of the Whore of Babylon.
Keimer,  A Brand pluck'ed from Burning (1718), p.53-4

Thursday 12 January 2017

More on the French Prophets

The French Prophets and their followers were a Millenarian group which for a short time caused a considerable stir in early 18th-century London. Although their main period of activity was before 1715,  their organisation persisted into the 1740s.  It  attracted a surprisingly large number of adherents; the historian of the movement Hillel Schwartz  identified of 525 individuals who were involved in some way with the group,  but believes there may have been more [See Schwartz, The French Prophets, Appendix 1]
The Prophets arrive in London

The original "French Prophets" were three exiles from the Camisard conflict, Durant Fage, Jean Cavalier and Elie Marion, who arrived in London in the course of 1706.  Marion, at the age of twenty-eight, was the oldest and most influential of the trio. A one-time law clerk from Toulouse, he  had first been inspired in 1703.  He had served as a captain in "Colonel" Cavalier's Camisard army and followed his chief into exile.  After a brief stay in Switzerland in 1704, he had participated in a short-lived incursion into the Midi organised but barely supported by the English and Dutch.  After a second defeat, he returned to Lausanne where he was about to take up employment when he "was stopped by the Spirit of God which changed in an instant the dispositions" of his heart.  On 22 July 1706, in the presence of his sister and father, God spoke through his mouth, instructing him to  "quit worldly establishments" and go to England. He arrived on 16 September.  The other two prophets, Fage and Cavalier  shortly  preceded him and had already begun to deliver divinely inspired pronouncements.

The Prophets rapidly gained a small following of wealthy and influential Huguenots, notable among them the lawyer Jean Daudé, Charles Portalès, the secretary to the marquis de Miremont and Nicolas Fatio de Duillier the Swiss mathematician.   They prophesied at first in private houses, later also in hired rooms in taverns. The meetings excited much interest: according to the printer and one-time adherent Samuel Keimer,  those they attracted both "sober and religious people" and those merely "interested in seeing novelties".   The prophetic utterances were accompanied by theatrical convulsions which excited much scorn:  Keimer describes  "very violent and strange Agitations or Shakings of Body, loud and terrifying Hiccups, and Throbs, with many odd and very surprizing Postures",  On one occasion Cavalier was apparently flung onto the ground and commenced to walk on  his hands and feet like a crab. [Keimer, A Brand Plucked from the  Burning, 1718, p. 1-2]

 The town houses of London were clearly  a world away from the open-air gatherings of the Cévennes.  Despite the violent convulsions and agitations which accompanied the manifestations of the Holy Spirit,  the meetings themselves soon took on an ordered and settled structure.  There was a new concern with accuracy and verification: it became standard practice for pairs of "scribes"  to transcribe the words of the prophets and compare notes.  Additional rituals developed, such as the bestowal of "Prophetic Blessings"  by the laying-on of hands.  In June 1707 John Lacy rented premises on Bridgewater Square in the Barbican to serve as an officially licensed meeting house. The Prophets thus rapidly took on the character of a sect, with organised retreats, the preparation of publications and the system of blessings all serving to encourage group cohesion; by  mid-1707 they began to establish  a significant following outside London and  In late 1708 an elaborate structure based on the tribes of Israel was adopted.  In its later years, however, the community became less close and was frequently beset by dissension.  .

The Camisard prophets set their Millenarian predictions firmly in the context of the earthly struggle against Catholicism:  Marion and his companions at first hoped to incite support for a renewed conflict the Midi.  The wealthy Huguenot François Maximilien Misson collected  testimonies from refugees concerning the  prophetic movement in the Midi which he published in March 1707 under the title Le Théâtre sacré des Cévennes (translated into English by John Lacy as A Cry from the Desert).  Marion's "Prophetic Warnings" were published at about the same time.  Although his political aim was not made explicit, his language reflected an Old Testament piety,  saturated with military imagery and aggressive in its call to repentence:
"My Child, I tell thee, the Days approach like a Furnace:  They are coming down, as a Whirlwind upon the Earth.  Sinners, flatter you selves no more:  Prepare you selves: behold the bottomless Pit open'd to receive you" (p.137)

Not surprisingly, the French Protestant church in London, well-to-do and conformist,  looked upon the new arrivals with suspicion. In January 1707, following a series of interviews, the Soho consistory declared that the Prophets' trances were feigned and  that their prophecies contained “nothing new but the grimaces”. At the end of March 1707, at the suggestion of the bishop of London, it was ruled that the Prophets should be denied communion in Huguenot churches.  French followers were therefore forced to choose between the Prophets and their church.

The English following

Although a core of Huguenots remained - and some, like Cavalier's cousin Jean Allut became prophets themselves - English converts soon came to dominate the movement. By December 1707 they outnumbered the French followers.  They were not confined to any one religious affiliation or social background, though the majority were non-conformists - Quakers, Baptists or Philadelphians -  already predisposed towards a  Pentecostal faith.  The earliest English adherents, like John Lacy, tended to be older and wealthier, and included several scientists and men of education.  Sir Richard Bulkeley, a forty-six year-old baronet,  who entered into the group at about this time, was a moderate Anglican and Lacy’s lifelong friend. Other noteworthy recruits included Thomas Cotton, Sir John Philips and the Philadelphian Richard Roach. Among Anglicans and Presbyterians,  a number were associated organisations for Christian renewal:   the Societies for the Reformation of Manners ( Lacy,  Cotton, Bulkeley) or the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (Bulkeley and John Hooke) [see Schwartz, p. 85]

With the new recruits the message changed. Although the idea of a Protestant crusade had struck an initial cord with English Puritans, the call for a military initiative against Catholic France gave way to more general pronouncements of divine wrath and the need for repentance.  Lacy carefully  avoided committing himself to specific details and timing for the coming Kingdom. The crucial point  was the reality of  extraordinary Divine Inspiration in modern times. There was to be no new revelation:  "This Mission brings no new Doctrine with it,  nor advances any thing dissonant from the Scriptures". [Preface to Prophetic Warnings of John Lacy, 1707, p.xii]

According to Hillel Schwartz, by the end of 1707 there were twenty three new prophets, fourteen  of whom were women. A few educated sympathisers, like Lacy and the chemist Thomas Emes, became prophets themselves;  Keimer gives a memorable account of the prophet Thomas Dutton, who was an attorney in the Middle Temple.:

At one of their Meetings, which was kept at the Rummer near Honey Lane Market, where I was present, there was one Thomas Dutton, a Lawyer, seiz'd, being a Man well dress'd, in a long Tie-Wig, and I think, having a Sword by his Side.  This Man under Agitations, much like the rest whom I had seen, utter'd a very rational Discourse, or Warning, in which I well remember was somewhat to this Effect,  You call this a Delusion; but can it be a Delusion to bid you repent?  Will the Devil preach Repentance? ( A Brand Plucked from the Burning p.9)

Like the convulsionnaires of Saint-Médard, the Prophets also attracted younger and more socially marginal people into their ranks.  Among the newly inspired in July and August 1707 were John Potter, a meat packer(?), Abraham Whitrow, a woolcomber, and the young women Mary Beer. Mary Keimer and Elizabeth Gray

With the English prophets, came a new emphasis on validating miracles.  Lacy performed automatic writing and talked in tongues - Sir Richard Bulkeley attested his ability to pronounce and translate Latin when under the spirit -  whilst Dutton held forth in Hebrew. There were  miracle cures, again notably by John Lacy, who practised the laying-on of hands in the course of 1707. The Pentecostal gift of healing was presented by Lacy as an important additional proof of the authenticity of the Prophets' mission. The enactment of "signs" also became a feature of the movement. Thus Bulkeley on "shaking":

 The most general Sign that all and every one of them have, is that of Shaking;  some less and some more. And this the Spirit has explain'd to us, to be the Sign of what he is now going to do: what he has foretold in his Word, and what they are sent before to warn of, to wit, he is coming to shake terribly the Earth:  to shake not only the Earth, but the Heaven also; and to make the Heralds of the Sinners to shake and tremble [An Answer to Several Treatises .. on the Subject of the Prophets (1708)  p.43].

 In some cases the enactments went much further and closely resembled the Jansenist tableaux vivants of the 1730s.  Nor did they take place entirely behind closed doors: Prophets were seen with with a wooden yoke about their necks, or walking with bare buttocks to signify kings lying down naked to signify the humiliation of kings.  Pamphleteers noted with particular relish the Prophetess who ran naked to the altar of the Sardininian chapel in Duke Street and declaimed there for fifteen minutes.


1. The trial of Marion,  Daudé and  Fatio de Duillier 

In May 1707, at the instigation of the Soho consistory, Marion, and his "scribes", Daudé and Fatio de Duillier, appeared before Chief Justice Holt in Queen’s Bench Court accused of publishing prophecies filled with blasphemy and sedition. In the warrant, Marion was described as a pseudo-prophet, "an abominable, detestable and diabolical blasphemer, a disturber of the peace, heretic and impostor, publisher of false, scandalous and seditious libels" (See Schwartz, p. 84). The trial did not finally conclude until November, when the trio were found guilty and sentenced  to stand in the pillory on two successive days.  As gentlemen, Daudé and Fatio were ceremonially relieved of their swords.

On 1st December they stood for an hour at Charing Cross with notices on their hats detailing their crimes. The Duke of Ormond instructed law officers to keep the crowd within bounds as Fatio had once been tutor to his brother, the Earl of Arran. The next day, despite the cordon of guards, the crowd  managed to spit on Marion and Daudé, and cover both with ordure.  Marion was slightly wounded in the face.  Sustained by a growing sense of martyrdom to the cause, they accepted the sentence with "a joyful air, which corresponded to the liberty and contentment of our hearts"(Schwartz, p.109).

2. The resurrection of Doctor Emes

Bunhill Fields Burial Ground,  City Road, Islington
Shortly before Christmas 1707 the group suffered a second setback when the chemist and prophet Thomas Emes, fell ill and died.  This represented a spiritual crisis for believers who expected that they would all live to serve in Christ's Kingdom. Despite the fact that Lacy had not managed to cure Emes when he was alive, the faithful were soon swept up with the promise of a far greater miracle  - Emes's  resurrection from the dead.  There were several weeks of meetings and  theatrical pronouncements, in which the initiative tended to gravitate to the  younger, less cautious prophets. Four out of six of the prime movers were English, the principal actors being John Potter and the twelve-year-old Anna Maria King. Potter elaborated an extreme scenario, in which Emes would emerge from his grave sitting up, "more fat, and more fair than every he has been before" In a climactic meeting Potter specified the date: 25th May - one month above the number of days that Lazarus was in the grave.

The rash claim took place against a background of growing concern about unfulfilled prophecies. Despite Lacy's caution, a number of specific predictions had escaped his lips: in July 1707  Lacy himself had prophesied "a terrible overthrow of Buildings in this City" and that "the Tower Guns will roar for a few days before this day seven-night".  It was always possible to explain away failure by reinterpreting prophecies as metaphorical or by claiming, as did the chemist Timothy Byfield, that God might withhold a promised miracle because of the onlookers' lack of faith . Nonetheless by the end of October 1707 Lacy had been goaded into predicting a timescale of six months for the appearance of a decisive miracle.  The resurrection of Emes thus became a testing point of faith, even though Marion was not involved and Lacy himself, though designated by Potter to perform the resurrection, was hesitant in his published pronouncements.

Meanwhile, the atmosphere of expectation continued to mount. The faithful were sustained  by predictions from Mary Beer of worldwide spiritual conquest and for the first time a sustained missionary effort was begun outside London. There were successes in Colchester and Ipswich, though a  mass rally in Enfield provoked such hostility that the prophets found themselves arrested for inciting a riot.  In London portents abounded.  In March came news that the Old Pretender had sailed for Scotland. Thunder crashed over the city and it there were prophecies that "fire and brimstone should be poured from heaven" on Lady Day (25th March).  A famine was predicted;  and families of believers  went to great expense and trouble to stock their larders.  

Text of a hostile broadsheet announcing the resurrection of Dr Emes.
Works concerning the Resurrection of Dr Emes,  Harleian Miscellany Vol. 7 (1746), p.185-8

The 25th May, the day of the promised resurrection was a public holiday. Crowds converged on the burial ground in Bunhill Fields, where magistrates had posted two trained bands in anticipation. One estimate put the crowd as high as 20.000. They were, of course, disappointed.   Lacy absented himself later claiming that the atmosphere of violence had been unpropitious for the miracle.


Clarke Garrett, Spirit possession and popular religion: from the Camisards to the Shakers. John Hopkins Univ. 1998.[Extracts on Google Books]
Hillel Schwartz,  The French Prophets: The History of a Millenarian Group in Eighteenth-Century England. University of California Press, 1980.

A more recent historian of the Prophets is Lionel Laborie:
"The French Prophets, a cultural history of religious enthusiasm in post-toleration England (1689-1730)",   UEA PhD thesis, 2010
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