A LETTER FROM Sir LEWIS DYVE: WRITTEN Out of FRANCE to a Gentleman, a Friend of his in LONDON.

GIVING Him an account of the manner of his Escape out of the KINGS BENCH, and the Reasons that moved him thereunto.


Printed in the Yeare, 1648.

A Letter from Sir LEWIS DYVE: Written out of France to a Gentleman, a Friend of his in London, &c.

TO prevent the or edit that malicious and false reports may gaine, in the opinion of those that know me not, concerning my escape out of Prison, which the wickednesse of this age is most fruitfull in producing; I conceived it necessary for me, as well for the satisfaction of my private Friends, as to dis-abuse others, who for want of true informati­on, may by delusions and forgeries (wherewith the worth, God knowes, hath of late yeares beene too much abused) be led into a mis-beliefe of me, to give you this true account, both of the occasion that induced me to thrust my selfe into so great a hazard, in the attempt (wherein, by the Al­mighties blessing, I was in a manner miraculously preserved) as also by what meanes I effected it; which I shall desire you, even for the love which I know you beare to truth, and the particular affection wherewith you have alwayes beene pleased to honour me, that you will, if occasion be offered, publish this Paper unto the world, that the malice of my enemies may not prevaile; by their evill tongues to wound me behind my back, in my honour and reputation, which I have ever held in farre dearer esteeme then my life.

In the narrative, I intend brevitie, and shall not therefore looke backe upon those many miseries I suffered since my first imprisonment in the Tower, nor upon those [...]eavie Oppressions wherewith I was there loaded, contrary to the Law of Armes, the Law of Nature, and Nations; and all this for no other offence (God is my witnesse) that (I either know or can imagine) those men that have thus persecuted me, can lay to my charge, save my loyaltie to my Soveraigne, my love unto my Countrey, in the pre­servation of the Lawes and Liberties thereof, and my constancie to both. For if I should begin my Storie from thence, it would fill a volume, and carry in it many bitter markes of the strange inhumanitie of these sad times, which for the honour of this Nation I could heartily wish, (were it possible) that both in my owne case, and divers others of like nature, the memory might eternally be forgotten, and no record left thereof to re­maine as a brand of infamy upon this people to all posteritie.

It shall therefore suffice, that I begin from the time of my being remo­ved from the Tower, where I continued above two yeares, and the greatest part of that time close Prisoner; from whence towards the latter end of last Michaelmas Terme, I was by pretence of a Habeas Corpus, procur'd by the subtiltie of my Adversaries, by force and violence brought before the Kings Bench Barce, by Colonel Tichborne the Lieutenant of the Tower, upon an Action of Debt, whereas I stood charg'd, and committed before for High Treason by the Speaker of the House of Commons; a strange president, and not to be paralel'd, as I beleeve, before these unhappy times: but new presidents and priviledges are now every day created at pleasure, by some of those that sit at Westminster, to the subversion of the Fundamentall Lawes of the Kingdome, and the utter ruine of the Subjects just Liberties and Freedomes.

From the Kings Bench Barre, I was immediately turn'd over to be a Prisoner at the Kings Bench, without any due Processe or forme of Law, not so much as one syllable being spoken unto me, by those that fate there usurping the place of Judges; for I have heard, That by the Lawes of the Kingdome no man may execute that Office without his Majesties Commission whereby to authorize him so to doe, which they have not to shew, nor is it to be presumed, that any such authoritie can be derived from his Majestie, who is made a Prisoner by those, whose dutie it is, both by the Lawes of God and the Land, to honour and obey him, and which they have bound them­selves by Solemne Oath to performe.

Now for the better illustration of the equitie and justice of their pro­ceedings with me, in this particular; I must let you know, that before the beginning of these unhappie troubles, I became ingaged for divers great summes of money for the Earle of S. Albans, and for Sir Edward Strad­ling, who were persons of much honour, and had that interest in me, as I should not have refused to expose my life and fortunes whereby to have done them service, they in a reciprocall way of friendship towards me, were so carefull to preserve me from any damage I might for the future sustaine, by reason of my engagements for them, as they made over unto me Lands of very great value, whereby to secure and save me harmelesse from any incumbrances those debts might bring upon me: with the Rents I received from these Lands, I not onely satisfied the Creditors with pur­ctuall payment of their interest, but in a short time by Fines and other improvements, made a shift to pay a good part of the principall debt, and had not these miseries fallen upon the Kingdome, under which it now lan­guisheth, I might probably before this time have cleared the greatest part of the whole debt.

These Lands made over to those uses as is declared, are by Ordinance of the two Houses Sequestred, and all the profits thereof violently seized and taken forsooth, for the use of the State, whereby the Creditors for divers yeares have [Page 4] beene defrauded of their right, contrarie to all Justice and Equitie; For this cause, and for no other that I can imagine, it was contrived by my Ad­versaries to have me carried to the Kings Bench, that I might there rot in Prison for Debt, whil'st they in the meane time take unto themselves, not onely the Profits of those Lands which are liable to pay the Debts, but of all the rest of my Estate, leaving me in that miserable condition, as I have nothing left me to depend upon but the Almighties Providence, to preserve me and my Children from famishing.

And if this bee the Justice that our Worthy Reformers of Church and State, hold out unto the world as a Modell, whereby to take a mea­sure of their future Government: What can other men expect, whose case it may be as well as mine, when they shall happen to fall into the dis­pleasure of our new Law-makers (which, in truth, it is impossible to avoyd, for any man that shall endeavour to keepe a good Consci­ence, eyther towards God or man) but Ruine and Destruction to them and their Families, and in conclusion, to the whole King­dome?

Having thus stated the Cause of my being sent to the Kings Bench, I [...]all proceed to the giving you a true account of my entertainment there by Sir John Lentall untill I made my escape.

When the Lieutenant of the Tower had discharged himselfe of me, by delivering me over into the hands of other Jaylors, I was by them that Evening brought to Sir John Lentall, who treated me with much civilitie; and having (as it should seeme) understood by some who had long knowne me, that if I would engage my Word unto him, of being a true Prisoner, it would hold me faster then all the Locks and Guards he could devise to put upon me: he in a very generous and free manner proposed it unto me, telling me withall, that he had ever heard me esteemed for a man of honour; so as, if I would engage my Word, he would esteeme it as the best Securitie that could be given him. The franknesse of his proceeding prevailed with me (I must confesse) even against the Resolution I had raken, not to bind my selfe up by my Word, upon any Condition what­soever: which I yeelded neverthelesse to doe, being overcome by his kind­nesse; adding this Protestation withall, That were it to save my Life, he might be confident I would not breake with him, untill I should first give him faire warning, by revoking it: Provided alwayes, that he should put no Guards nor Keeper upon me, which I should understand as a dis-ingagement of my Word, for that it would be an argument unto me, that he did not relye upon it: Which he approved as reasonable, and so I parted from him for that time, and went to provide me a Lodging within the Rules, as might affoord me best accommodation.

After this, there was seldome any day past that I came not by way of [Page 5] Gratitude to visit him or his Lady, resolving in my heart not onely to pay him all Respects that was due to him from me as a Prisoner, but to re­quite those Civilities I received from him, whensoever I should by Gods blessing be in a capacitie to doe it: Sometimes, as my Occasions required, I went abroad, which I did openly and avowedly, not conceiving it would have beene judged a Trespas in me, more then in other men in the same Con­dition that I was. But it soone grew an occasion of exception to some, who never satisfied with their owne unlimited Priviledges, held it too great a one for me to breathe the common Ayre with other men, and through the feares and jealousies which the guilt of their owne soules sug­gested unto them, did fancie my being seene abroad a matter of most dan­gerous consequence, insomuch, as M. Speaker of the House of Commons was immediately inform'd of it, who thereupon sent to his Brother Sir John Lentall, giving him a strict Charge (as he told me himselfe) to have a speciall care of me as of a most dangerous person. He therefore in a friendly way desired me, that for his sake I would for some dayes forbeare to be seene abroad, untill the heat of this anger were over-past, lest it might turne to his prejudice. The answer I made him, to my best remembrance, was to this effect; That I could not but thinke my selfe very unfortunate, after so many miseries, to be still made the object of their malice: which since I saw I could not otherwayes avoid, but either by forfeiting my Loyaltie to my Soveraigne, or betraying my owne innocencie, I had by Gods assistance armed my selfe with that Resolution, that I little regarded what their Power could exercise upon my person, and should esteeme my Sufferings a happinesse and glory unto me in so good a Cause: so that if I restrained my selfe of that just Libertie I ought to take, it was meerely for his sake; wherein I would be so carefull for the future, that when the necessitie of my occasions should draw me forth, it should be with that Caution, as should give no advantage against him: And I was so precisely carefull herein, as for divers dayes after I stirred not out of the Rules.

By this Retirement, I well hoped to have taken away the occasion of troubling their thoughts with a subject so little considerable as my selfe; which would have beene farre better imployed in perfecting the happie Reformation, so worthily begun, and in setling a well-grounded Peace in the Kingdome, which, in that Confusion they have now brought it, will be a Worke of their best skill to performe: But contrarie to my hopes, the next newes I heard, was, that it was resolved, the fittest place to secure me, was in the Common-Goale: and I had farther intelligence given me by two persons considerable with them, and no strangers to their Counsells, that there were desperate intentions against me, and therefore wished me as I tendred my Life, to make an Esc. [...] now I had opportunitie to doe it, for the meanes might otherwayes be suddenly taken from me.

This intelligence comming to me at so seasonable a time, and my owne innocencie, besides the authoritie and credit of the persons from whom I [Page 6] received it, made me the apter to beleeve it to be true (knowing that my enemies thirst most after innocent bloud) and might have prompted me (con­sidering the danger I was in) to have followed his Advice: but my Word being given to Sir Iohn Lentall, I was resolv'd to run the uttermost hazard of my Life, rather then violate that in the least degree: This made me be­thinke my selfe how I might best come off from that ingagement, with least suspition, which the very next day was offered unto me upon this occasion.

The Warrant for my Close Commitment I knew precisely (as I said before) when it would be brought to Sir Iohn Lentall; and that very night, Friday the fourteenth of Ianuary, I went (as I was formerly accustomed to doe) to visit Sir Iohn Lentall at his owne House; where, finding him sitting in conversation with his Lady and some others of his Family, I fell into dis­course with him, and after a while I tooke occasion to tell him, that out of my respects to him I had confined my selfe in the nature of a Close Prisoner for a good while but that having some speciall occasions to draw me into the Towne the next day, I intended to goe in the Evening, which should be done with that wari­nesse, as no notice should be taken thereof. This stroake gave fire immediately, according to my expectation; whereupon he said, that it was in his thoughts to have spoken unto me the next morning by way of prevention, for that divers of the House were so much incensed at my going abroad, as he beleeved there would be an Order for my Close Imprisonment: I seemed much moved with the newes, and told him, I hoped he would not be the instrument to execute so unreasonable and unjust an Order, having given him my Word to be his true Prisoner: Alas (said he) what would you have me doe, in case I am com­manded? For as I am their servant, if I disobey their Orders, they will thrust me out of my place, and ruine me: By the same reason (said I somewhat tartly unto him) if they should bid you knock out my braines, or starve me, you must then doe it. He desired me not to make such inferences, for that he knew they would command him no such thing; but for the keeping me a Close Pri­soner, in that he was bound to obey them. When he had thus farre declared himselfe, I held it a fit time for me to revoke the engagement of my Word; which, that he might suppose it to be done rather out of Choler then De­signe, I fell into a strange passion (not misbecomming my Usage, though it might be thought it did my Condition) and in great heat told him, I would not longer be ingag'd upon my Word, with some other expressions of deepe resentment, of the barbarous usage I had from time to time receiv'd, but that I valued not the uttermost extremitie that Tyrannie could inflict upon me: and so thrusting the Chaire from me whereon I sate, I made a short Turne in the Roome, taking a Candlestick in my hand which stood upon a side Table, and striking it with violence upon the Board, did much bruise the fashion thereof; and all this was done in a breath, so as it seemed but one motion.

The women that were there, were somewhat amazed at this, but the La­dy Lentall her selfe, who holds it a high reputation to be thought a woman of spirit, what with the bruising of the Candlestick, and some words that fell from me, which she interpreted to the disparagement of her Husband, though I professe they were spoken with no such intent, grew suddenly in such a fury, as passionate women are wont to expresse when they are throughly angred; the words that kindled her choler, was, as I remember, somewhat that touched upon my being turn'd from Jaylor to Jaylor, which she highly aggravated after her manner, entring into comparisons of her Husbands worth, which I meant not in the least to deminish; with whom be­ing unwilling to have any dispute, the work for which I came being perfor­med, I went towards the door, with intention to retire to my lodging, there to bethinke my selfe of what more imported me; but as it happened, her Ladiship at that time fill'd up the passage with her person, so as to passe by, I tooke her by the hand to remove her a little out of the way, which she took for so great an affront, that she presently cryed out that I had strucke her; but the truth is, had not Sir John Lentall himselfe, and some of his Daughters in the roome, interposed betweene her and me, I verily beleeve it would have fallen to my share to have complained of a beating, which I should much better have borne from a Ladies hand, then the reproach she layd on me of having strucken her; I then became a stickler to perswade her to patience, and to desire her that she would not through passion doe her selfe so much wrong, as to say that of me, which should she sweare, would never be believed by any bo­dy that knew me, and to entreat her pardon, if by transportation of the same passion which was now so prevalent in her self, I had either said or dore any thing that might give her the least offence; with these and the like per­swasions, we all grew after a while into a more sober temper, and then I took my leave of them both, & was from thence wel guarded to my Lodging. The next morning, my Kinsman, Sir John Wake, came unto me, and told me for certaine, That Sir John Lentall had received an Order from the House of Commons to remove me that night into the Common Goale; I desired Sir John Wake to goe to Sir John Lentall from me, to request this favour in my be­halfe, that my removall might be suspended for a day or two untill I might be able to furnish my Lodging with Bedding and other necessaries fit for me; but the answer I received, was, That he durst not doe it for feare of the displeasure of the House. When I saw there was no remedie, I sent to ha [...]e the Chamber made clean, & aired with a good fire, as there was good cause, for I was told by some that saw it, that it was a most nastie and filthy roome, not fit for a Dogge to lye in. Whil'st this preparation was making, and a heape of Coales which lay in the Chamber removing, the evening grew on, and my fatall houre of removing to a quick buriall; In the meane time I bespake supper, and invited divers Gentlemen of my acquaintance in the Rules to sup with me, to take a farewell of them, not knowing when I [Page 8] should have the happinesse to see them againe: foure or five were pleased to come to me, to affoord me that favour, all of them much lamenting my condition: by this meanes there was a necessitie of passing to and fro out of my Lodging, by reason my Supper was dress'd abroad. I sent for Wine, and disposed my selfe to be merry with my Friends, not imparting my intentions to any creature; alwayes having a watchfull eye, how those that were set to guard me, were placed; with a resolution to have forced my way through them, if there had beene no other remedie: But the darknesse of the Night favoured my Attempt so, as taking the nick of time when Supper was bringing in, I slipt from my Companie, and got out of the Gate unespyed, conveying my selfe suddenly into a place where I knew I should be welcome, leaving my Friends to be merry without their Host.

For some few dayes I lay close, untill I found an opportunitie to con­vey my selfe, where by Gods blessing I have now the leysure to satisfie both you and the rest of my Friends with this true relation of the Bu­sinesse; hoping there can nothing be objected against me in the whole progresse thereof, misbecomming a man of Honour and Honestie, who desires, and shall ever, endeavour to approve himselfe so in all his actions to the World, and more particularly to your selfe, in the qualitie of,

Your affectionate humble servant, LEWIS DYVE.

This keyboarded and encoded edition of the work described above is co-owned by the institutions providing financial support to the Text Creation Partnership. Searching, reading, printing, or downloading EEBO-TCP texts is reserved for the authorized users of these project partner institutions. Permission must be granted for subsequent distribution, in print or electronically, of this EEBO-TCP Phase II text, in whole or in part.