« AnteriorContinuar »
going beyond the seas for a little while, but would return to them again if the Great Spirit permitted him to live. He begged of them to drink no more fire-water, and forbade his own people to sell them brandy and rum; he put them in the ways of honest trade and husbandry; he obtained from them a promise that they would live at peace and amity with each other and with the Christians. The new city engaged his daily thoughts; he felt some comfort in seeing it steadily rising from the ground; and as the news from Europe darkened, he was more and more anxious that Philadelphia might become a haven of safety in the coming storm.
The brig Endeavour being now ready to leave the Delaware, he named a mixed commission to conduct the affairs of government in his absence. Thomas Loyd was named president; Colonel Markham (who was to return immediately) secretary; assisted by Thomas Holme, James Claypole, Robert Turner and two or three others. Going on board, Penn addressed to Thomas Loyd and the rest a parting letter, in which he thus apostrophised the city of his heart:—
'And thou, Philadelphia, the virgin settlement of this province, named before thou wert born, what love, what care, what service, and what travail, has there been to bring thee forth and preserve thee from such as would abuse and defile thee! My soul prays to God for thee, that thou mayest stand in the day of trial, that thy children may be blessed of the Lord, and thy people saved by His power!'
AT HOME (1684-85).
When Guli Penn fell sick, she wrote to ask her old friend Ellwood to ride over and direct her husband's business. Ellwood lived not far from Worminghurst, and would have come to her at once, but for a trouble of his own. A book of his, which had been circulating in the neighbourhood by the means of William Ayrs, a barber and apothecary, had got into the hands of Sir Benjamin Tichborne, a stupid justice of the peace, who thought it dangerous to the King. Sir Benjamin summoned Ayrs before the county bench; on which the barber ran to Ellwood's house to let him know. Ellwood was seeing Ayrs and giving him his word that on the day of hearing he would go before the magistrates and own his book, when Guli's messenger arrived. What could he do in this new stress? He could not leave the barber to his fate; yet if he stayed to answer at the petty session, Guli Penn might die before he reached her house. There was a middle course. He might go round to Tichborne park, and take the blame upon himself. Leaping to horse, he rode to Tichborne, where he found Sir Benjamin and a brother-justice, Thomas Fotherly, and told them who he was and why he had come to own his book. They heard him in a sullen mood, and were about to have him seized, when it occurred to them to ask him why he had come before the day appointed for his case. Ellwood showed them Guli's note. 'While I thus delivered myself/ he writes, 'I observed a sensible alteration in the justice, and when I had done speaking, he said he Avas very sorry for Madame Penn's illness (of whose virtues and worth he spoke very highly, but not more highly than was her due). Then he told me that for her sake he would do what he could to further my suit; but he added, "I can assure you the matter which will be laid to your charge is of greater importance than you think."' On Ellwood pledging his word to appear when called upon, he was allowed to leave; he got to Worminghurst that day; and 'Madame Penn' improved so fast, that when her husband landed at Shoreham from his ship, she was able to go down and meet him at that Sussex port.
After passing three or four days with his family, Penn went to Newmarket, where he saw the King and Duke of York, who both received him kindly, and assured him that justice should be done about his boundary lines. Baltimore was on the spot, but the King's health was now failing, and the affair was suffered to languish,—both parties hoping from either the justice or the friendship of his brother. Feeling that possession was nine parts of the law, and knowing that his neighbour would not oppose force to force Lord Baltimore ordered his relative Colonel Talbot to seize the territory in dispute and hold it in his name. With three musqueteers Talbot invaded some farm-houses, proclaimed Lord Baltimore proprietor, and threatened to expel any one who should refuse to admit his claim. Talbot threatened a descent on Newcastle; but the Government of Pennsylvania having issued a declaration of their proprietor's right over the disputed tract, and announced an intention to prosecute the authors of the recent outrage in the English courts, Talbot waited for fresh orders to come out. The feint of war had answered its purpose, that of raising suspicions in England as to Penn's pacific ideas. The moment this disturbance was heard of, foes began to whisper that the preacher of peace was mounting guns and fortifying towns. But Penn explained that when he went to America a few old guns were lying on the green by the Session-house at Newcastle, some on the ground, others on broken carriages, but that there had been no ball, no powder, no soldier there from the day he landed; and he could no more be charged with warlike propensities on this account, than a man might be who happened to buy a house with an old musket in it.
On the 6th of February, 1685, Charles the Second breathed his last; and James the Second quietly succeeded to Ins throne. The reign of Charles had been the most shameful in our annals; vice had reared its head in the highest places, and the first rank of the peerage had been filled with wantons; the honour of the country had been sold to the enemy of its freedom and its faith; persecution had ravened through the land. Penn counted up the families ruined for opinions in that reign to more than fifteen thousand. Of those who were cast into jails, not less than four thousand had died. As Duke of York, James had often lifted up his voice against these atrocities; and when he came to the throne, a statement of the wrongs, in mind, in body, and estate, endured by unoffending men was placed in his hands. Penn waited on him at Whitehall to remind him of the good-will he had formerly professed towards all conscientious persons, and to beg his interference in behalf of the many religious men and women then in jail. The King was affable. He talked to Penn with his old frankness, and when the Quaker spoke of the penal laws then in operation, and expressed a hope that the poor Quakers languishing in Marshalsea, Newgate, and the Gatehouse, would find relief, James took him into his private closet, where they long remained in talk. Penn has preserved the substance of what passed. His Majesty said he should deal openly with his subjects. He was himself a Catholic, and he desired no person to be disturbed on account of his opinions; but he would defer making any distinct promise until the day fixed for his coronation, and even then he could only exercise his prerogative to pardon such as were already suffering unjustly. With a new parliament would rest the power to establish liberty of conscience.