Imágenes de páginas

so that

William Penn was born in the year sixteen hundred and fortyfour, in the reign of Charles the First of England. His father was Admiral Sir W. Penn, who rose by every step of honor to the post of next in command to the Duke of York, afterwards James the Second, Lord Admiral. He is said to have descended from the Royal race of Tudors, of whom the Great Elizabeth was the last reigning Princess. This is shown by an ancedote related by the Rev. Hugh David, who came over with William Penn in the year seventeen hundred, as follows: 66 We were both on board the same ship. Penn, observing a goat which was gnawing a broom that was lying on the deck, called out, 'Hugh, dost thou observe the goat ? See, what hardy fellows the Welsh are, how they can feed on a broom ; however, Hugh, I am a Welshman myself and will relate by how strange a circumstance our family lost their name. My grandfather was named John Tudor, and lived on the top of a hill in Wales: he was generally called John Penn-muith, which is in English, John on the top of the hill. He removed from Wales into Ireland, where he acquired considerable property. On his return into his own country he was addressed by his old friends and neighbors, not in the former way, but by the name of Mr. Penn. He afterwards removed to London, where he resided under the name of John Penn, which has since been the family name”. the best and bravest blood of England flowed through William Penn's veins, brought down through many generations, unstained by aught of the deeds of its bearers, but rather honored in its worthied channels. His father was one of the bravest and most fiery of those who fought in the bloody days when Van Tromp and the Duke of York were the heroes, and England and Holland hurled their iron bolts of war at each other, contending for the supremacy

of the seas. In his boyhood days Penn discovered the germs of his great talents and his energetic use of them. At fifteen he was entered a gentleman commoner at Oxford, and gained a high reputation. It was here that he heard first the famous Quaker, Thomas Ludloe, preach, and became turned to that persuasion. He, together with Robert, afterwards Lord, Spencer and John Locke and others, held private meetings and were fined under the act against conventicles. At this time the king sent orders to Oxford that the surplice should be used, which, it appears, had not been worn there before.

Penn and his companions, meeting the wearers in the streets, tore them off. They were immediately expelled. On his return home, his father expostulated with him about his new views, and, finding him unyielding, ordered him from his house. He afterwards sent him to France, where he remained two years, and received much cultivation. On his return, lest he might relapse, he sent him to Ireland, to the court of the Duke of Ormond, the Lieutenant Governor, to take care of some property he had there. Here he served

[ocr errors]

as a cavalier, and was very active in quelling the rebellion. But here again he heard Ludloe, and determined to renounce all secular things for the spiritual. On his return his father argued long with him, and even went so far as to offer him this compromise: "that if he would take off his hat in the presence of his Majesty the king, the Duke of York, and himself, the Admiral, he should not be molested in his views.” Penn sturdily refused even this, and his testy old father, the Admiral, again ordered him from his house.

From this time he began preaching, and engaged in those polemical writings which he continued until his death. Even when involved in the manifold and complicated business of his colony, he always found time to combat his adversaries. At this time also the acts against conventicles and non-conformists were in force; and as he was continually violating them, he was continually suffering their penalties of fines and imprisonments. Indeed, in the early part of his life he appears to have been in prison every six months ; and no imprisonment passed without his producing from four te six pamphlets. His first trial was very remarkable, and may serve as a sample of the justice and decorum of all the rest. He was very much abused and every advantage taken of him by the judge and recorder. Yet the jury brought in the verdict of “guilty of speaking in Grace-st Church.” They were sent back several times by the judge, and kept days and nights without food or fire. The severity had only the effect of confirming them, until at last they brought in the unequivocal verdict of “not guilty,” for which they were terribly belabored with words by the enraged judge, and each fined, as well as Penn himself, and all committed until their fines were paid.

His father, the Admiral, before his death, became wholly reconciled to him, and left him property to the amount of about seven thousand dollars a year. His accession to this made no difference in his conduct. He still continued to preach, to write pamphlets, and to be committed to prison.

At one time he made a pilgrimage to Holland with the celebrated George Fox, where he preached, and made many converts. But they had the honor of being escorted out of the country with a guard, by order of the Graeffs.

Amid the consternation occasioned by the popish plot, in sixteen hundred and seventy-one, an act was before the parliament, in design against popish recusants, but in effect including all dissenters, by which severe penalties were imposed. Penn was heard before the House, entering a protest against it, and claiming an exemption for the Quakers.

We now come to that part of his life in which he exerted his best energies, and which perpetuated his name—the founding of the Colony of Pennsylvania.

[ocr errors]

The Dutch had principally settled on the Hudson river, which they called “North ;" some, however, on the Delaware, which they called “South.” But the settlers on the South, perceiving the superior advantages of their brethren on the North, moved thither. The Swedes were the principal settlers in what was then called the Jerseys. King Charles II. granted to his brother, the Duke of York, all lands in North America, including those settled by the Dutch. The Duke granted the Jerseys to Sir George Carteret. Part was afterwards sold to Edward Byllinge. The latter, having become involved, requested Penn to act as his trustee, which he faithfully performed. This trivial circumstance suggested the idea of founding the colony: for in the settlement of the estate of Byllinge, he became well acquainted with the country. He saw in it a place well adapted to the wants of men, and a secure asylum for his oppressed followers. He obtained the land in satisfaction of a claim of sixteen thousand pounds, which his father held against the government. He procured the grant, and a charter making his power over it almost absolute. It was confirmed under the Great Seal, on the fifth of January, sixteen hundred and eighty-one. The origin of the name, Pennsylvania, we give in his own words as written in a letter to Thomas Turner: “ This day my country has been confirmed to me by the name Pennsylvania—a name the king (Charles II.) would give it in honor of my father. I choose New Wales, being as this is a pretty hilly country; but Penn, being Welsh for a head—as Penmanmoire, in Wales, and Penrith, in Cumberland, and Penn, in Buckinghamshire, the highest land in England—they called this Penn-sylvania, which is the high or head woodlands, for I proposed (when the Secretary, a Welshman, refused to have it called New Wales Sylvania, and they added Penn to it; and though I much opposed it, and went to the king to have it struck out, he said it was past and would take it upon him; for I feared lest it should be looked upon as a vanity in me, and not as a respect in the king, as it really was, to my father, whom he often mentions with praise.”

Penn now busied himself in framing a constitution and government for his colony. Among other things we may notice, was that which he called the fundamental”—“that every person should enjoy the free profession of his faith and exercise of worship toward God in such a manner as his conscience shall believe most acceptable, and shall be so protected in it by the authority of the magistrates. This was, indeed, “fundamental," and that, too, in effect, of the liberty we now enjoy. Besides this, there is another which we may regard as next important, and which contributed to the safety and security of the colony ever after, until the red man disappeared : “that whoever should offend, wrong or hurt an Indian, should incur the same penalties as if he had offended his fellow planter;" and that the white man should not be the judge

of it, but that it should be brought before twelve referees-six white men and six Indians.

In sixteen hundred and eighty-one, three ship loads of Quakers sailed under Colonel Markham, who was one of six comunissioners who were empowered to confer with the Indians respecting the purchase of their lands. With them he sent the following letter to the Indians, which we subjoin because it gives, in his own strong language, his noble policy toward them, and which had, in effect, the gaining for the colonists of Pennsylvania a peace of seventy years, while their neighbors around them, less scrupulous in their dealings, were involved in all the horrors of savage warfare :

“Now I would have you well observe, that I am very sensible of the unkindness and injustice which have been too much exercised toward you by the people of these parts of the world, who have sought themselves to make great advantages by you, rather than be examples of goodness and patience towards you. This, I hear, hath been a matter of trouble to you, and caused great grudging and animosities, sometimes to the shedding of blood. But I am not such a man, as is well known in my own country. I have a great love and regard towards you, and desire to win and gain your love and friendship by a kind, just and peaceable life; and the people I send are of the same mind, and shall in all things behave themselves accordingly; and if anything shall offend you or your people you shall have a full and speedy satisfaction for the same, by an equal number of just men on both sides, that by no means you shall have just occasion to be offended against them.

"I shall shortly come to see you myself, at which time we may more largely and freely confer and discourse of these matters. In the meantime I have sent my commissioners to treat with you about land and a firm league of peace. Let me desire you to be friends to them and to the people, and receive the presents and tokens which I have sent you, as a testimony of my good will to you and my resolution to live justly, peaceably and friendly with you. " I am, your loving friend,

WILLIAM PENN." In sixteen hundred and eighty-two, Penn went himself and concluded that memorable treaty, of which Voltaire said that “it is the only one ever concluded between savages and Christians that was not ratified by an oath, and the only one that never was broken." The above letter is remarkable, from the fact that its professions were lived up to ever after in word and deed.

When Penn left England, he addressed a letter to his wife and children, as if it were the last word he would ever say to them. The greatest modern critic, Jeffreys, has said of this letter: “There is something, we think, very touching and venerable in the affectionateness of its whole strain, and the patriarchal simplicity in which it is conceived ; while the language appears to us to be one of the most beautiful specimens of that soft and mellow English, which, with all its redundancy and cumbrous volume, has to our ears a far richer and more pathetic sweetness than the epigrams and apothegms of modern times." We will give some extracts from it, inasmuch as in it much of what Penn was is shown:

“MY DEAR WIFE AND CHILDREN : My love, which neither the sea, nor land, nor death itself, can extinguisb or lessen toward you, most endearedly visits you with eterual embraces, and will abide with you forever; and may the God of my life watch over you, and bless you, and do you good in this world forever! Some things are upon my spirit to leave with you in your respective capacities, as I am to one a husband, and to the rest a father, if I should never see you more in this world.

My dear wife! remember thou wast the love of my youth, and much the joy of my life; the most beloved, as well as the most worthy of all my earthly comforts : and the reason of that love was more thy inward than thy outward excellencies, which yet were many. God knows, and thou knowest it, I can say that it was a match of Providence's making: and God's image in us both was the first thing, and the most amiable and engaging ornament, in our eyes. Now I am to leave thee, and that without knowing whether I am to see thee more in this world ; take my counsel into thy bosom, and let it dwell with thee while thou livest."

Then follow some admonitions respecting fear towards God, diligence in “meetings for worship and business,” and economy, and he proceeds

"And now, my dearest, let me recommend to thy care my dear children: abun. dantly beloved of me, as the Lord's blessings, and the sweet pledges of our mutual and endeared affection. Above all things endeavour to breed them up in the love of virtue; and that holy plain way in which we have lived, that the world in no part get into my family. I would rather they were homely than finely bred in outward behaviour: yet I love sweetness mixed with gravity, and cheerfulness tempered with sobriety. Religion in the heart leads to this true civility, teaching men and women to be mild and courteous in their behaviour-an accomplishment worthy indeed of praise.

“Next, breed them up in the love of one another; tell them it is the charge I left behind me; and that it is the way to have the love and blessing of God upon them. Sometimes separate them, but not long; and allow them to send and give each other small things, to endear one another with. Once more I say, tell them that it was my counsel they should be tender and affectionate one to another. For their learning be liberal. Spare ro cost, for by such parsimony all is lost that is saved; but let it be useful knowledge and such as is consistent with truth and godliness, not cherishing a vain conversation or idle mind; but ingenuity mixed with industry is good for the body and mind too. Rather keep an ingenious person in the house to teach them, than send them to schools: too many evil impressions being commonly received there. Be sure to observe their genius and not cross it as to learning; let them not dwell too long on one thing: but let their change be agreeable, and let their diversions have some bodily labor in them. When grown big, have most care of them, for then there are more snares, both within and without. When marriageble, see that they have worthy persons in their eye, of good life and good fame for piety and understanding. I desire no wealth, but sufficiency; and be sure their love be dear, fervent and mutual, that it may happy for them. I choose not they should be married to earthly, coveteous kindred : and of cities and towns of commerce, beware: the world is apt to stick close to those who have lived and got their wealth there: a country life and estate I like best for my children. I prefer a decent mansion of a hundred pounds per annum, before ten thousand pounds in London, or such like place, in a way of trade."

We have no where met so full and excellent a summary of the duties of parents : and yet unfortunately the very opposite is the conduct of most. He next addresses his children:

“Be obedient to your dear mother, a woman whose virtue and good name is an honor, to you: for she hath been excelled by none in her time for her integrity, humanity, virtue and good understanding ; qualities not usual among women of her worldly condition and quality. Therefore, honor andobey her, my dear children, as your mother, and your father's love and delight; nay, love her too, for she loved your father with a deep and upright love, choosing him before all her many suitors; and though she be of a delicate constitution and noble spirits, yet she descended to the utmost care and tenderness for you, performing the painfullest acts of service to you in your infancy, as a mother, and nurse too. I charge you before the Lord, honor and obey, love and cherish your dear mother."

« AnteriorContinuar »