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we were bred together from children, I being nine, he twelve years old when we first came to live together. She would discourse with him in this wise :—that 'she knew me, and we were known to one another;' she said, 'she should choose me for his wife before any one with a great portion, even if I had no portion, because of these things and of our equality in outward conditions and years. She lived to see thy mother (Guli) three or four year old.'
Colonel Springett, Guli's father, had spent his money as freely as his blood. He had served without pay, and kept a mess-table for his officers at his own expense; so that when he died at threeand-twenty his affairs were not a little out of order, but the energy and prudence of Lady Springett kept them from falling into ruin. Other cares assailed the widow. Her husband had fought and died for his religious opinions; and even before then he had inspired her with all his own religious fervour, which she, with her woman's nature and in her lonely condition, soon allowed to overmaster her. The details she has left of the agony of heart suffered during the first two years of her widowhood, are full of that solemn striving after a better life which may be accounted either wisdom or insanity according to the point of view. At length she met with one, who, like herself, was out at sea. This man was Isaac Pennington. In the manuscript history of her life she tells the story :—'My love was drawn to him because I found he saw the deceits of all notions, and lay as one that refused to be comforted, so that he was sick and weary of all that appeared ; and in this my heart clove to him, and a desire was in me to be serviceable to him in his desolate condition, for he was alone and miserable in the world—and I gave up much to be a companion to him in this suffering. Some time after their marriage they found the comfort they were seeking in the system preached by George Fox, of which William Penn was now the champion.
What wonder that the graceful and intrepid Penn should be a welcome visitor at Chalfont; what wonder that the fair Guli, herself a Quaker, should smile on her new suitor, and consent to be his wife !
BOND AND FREE (1671-1672).
While Penn was living in the poetic circles of Chalfont, he began to study the Catholic Question seriously, and in his twenty-sixth year he gave the world his thoughts upon it In his ' Caveat against Popery ' he refutes the dogmas of that Church; but he makes a large distinction between Catholic and Catholicism; a distinction never made in that age, and too seldom made even now. While he denounced the creed as contrary to reason and Scripture, to conscience and human liberty, he pleaded for toleration to the men who had been trained to think it true. Toleration to doctrine he was forced in conscience to condemn; but toleration to the disciple he affirmed with all his might. Here was a new and startling theory. Few men were then prepared to understand it; fewer still to act upon it; yet the theory was true, and made its way.
When Admiral Penn was dead, and William Penn his son had dropped from sight at court, the city Dogberries, Starling and Robinson, thought the time for their revenge had come. Their plot was certain to succeed. It was a punishable offence to refuse the oath of allegiance when it was offered by a magistrate; and as a Quaker could not take an oath, it was only necessary to seize his person, put him to the proof, and then commit him for contempt. To mask the evil animus, the arrest must be on other grounds; they chose to consider the Quakers' meeting-house in Wheeler Street, which Penn attended, an illegal meeting; though they would not trust a jury on the point. These City aldermen set spies on Penn, who made reports to them of his comings and goings, his sayings and doings. They learned his daily haunts; and often in the morning they could tell how he intended to bestow his day. Their agents were about his heels; and as he feared no evil and had nothing to conceal, their plot soon took effect. On his return from Bucks, he went to Wheeler Street as usual, when a sergeant and picquet of soldiers entered the room, and as he rose to address the people, pulled him down and dragged him into the street, where a constable and assistants being in readiness, they carried him to the Tower, lodged him in a dungeon, and left a guard at his door. After a lapse of three or four hours he was brought before his enemies. Robinson, Sheldon, and a few other magistrates were present.
Robinson: 'What is this person's name V
Constable: 'Mr. Penn, sir.'
Robinson: 'Is your name Penn V
Penn: 'Dost thou not know me?'
Robinson : 'I don't know you. I don't desire to know such as you.'
Penn : 'If not, why didst thou send for me hither?'
Robinson : 'Is that your name, sir?'
Penn : 'Yes, yes, my name is Penn. I am not ashamed of my name.'
Robinson : Constable, where did you find him ?'
Constable: 'At Wheeler Street, at a meeting ; speaking to the people.'
Robinson : “You mean, he was speaking to an unlawful assembly.'
Constable: 'I don't know indeed, sir; he was there, and he was speaking.'
Robinson : 'Give them their oaths.'
Penn: 'Hold, don't swear the men; there is no need of it. I freely acknowledge I was in Wheeler Street, and that I spoke to an assembly of people there.
Robinson : ‘He confesses it.'
Penn: 'I do so. I am not ashamed of my testimony.'
Robinson: 'No matter; give them their oaths. ... Mr. Penn, you know the law better than I do, and you know these things are contrary to law.
Penn : 'If thou believest me to know the law better than thyself, hear me, for I know no law I have transgressed. . . . Now I am probably to be tried by the late act against Conventicles ; I conceive it doth not reach me.'
Robinson : 'No, sir. I shall not proceed upon that law.'