« AnteriorContinuar »
set. His reading at this time was solid and ex tensive, and his acquisition of knowledge was assisted by an excellent memory. For a boy, he left Oxford well acquainted with history and theology. Of languages he had more than ordinary share. Either then or afterwards, he read the chief writers of Greece and Italy in their native tongues; and gained a thorough knowledge of French, German, Dutch, and Italian. Later in life he added to this stock of languages two or three dialects of the Red men. But his pleasure and recreation while at Christ Church was in reading the doctrinal discussions to which the Puritans gave rise. The court of Charles had infected the higher classes of society before the Restoration actually took place; and that mixture of vice and wit, politeness and irreligion, which was soon to characterise the youth of England, was already turning the University into a den of rakes and dupes. There were not wanting protests. Many of the young men there collected had in early youth some better notion of religion and morality,—and they resisted every attempt to introduce a more lax and courtly ceremonial into the services of the Church.
Dr. Owen, made Dean of Christ Church by order of Parliament in 1653, was ejected from his office to make room for Dr. Reynolds; a change intended, among other things, to prepare for the introduction of a more picturesque ritual than had latterly been in use. This measure was unpopular with the Puritan students, and Owen kept up a constant correspondence with the members of his college, in which
s lie incited them to remain firm in their rejection of papistical rites. Under his high sanction, many of them opposed the innovations of the court. William Penn stood foremost. From the trials of his Uncle George he had learnt to loathe the practices of a persecuting Church. Yet it was not without pain that Penn found his conscience at war with the princes whom his father delighted to serve. From the frequent references to these times made by him in after-life, it is evident that his sufferings were acute. As the light of truth dawned on his mind he was surprised and terrified to find how dark all was outside. Everywhere, to use his own expression, he saw that a reign of darkness and debauchery was commencing; and his hope for the future came to lie in a vague, romantic fancy, that a virtuous and holy empire, free from bigotry and from the formalism of a State religion—might be founded in that far-off Western World which had so often formed a topic at his father's hearth. In this fancy his mind discovered a real ' opening of joy.'
While the quarrel of Cavalier and Puritan was raging at Oxford, an obscure person, named Thomas Loe—a layman of that city—took to preaching a new doctrine which was taught by one George Fox. The neglect of forms and ceremonies in the ritual of the Friends, as the New People called themselves, attracted Penn and others, who like him were in revolt against the restoration of popish usages; and going to hear the preaching of this strange word, the young men got excited, and returned to hear. Their absence from chapel was noticed; their
superiors became alarmed; the young defaulters were arraigned and fined. This indignity drove them wild; and as the fines were laid at the moment when a new rule about college gowns came out, the youngsters banded themselves together to oppose the orders of the court by force. They marched through the streets. They not only refused to wear the new gown, but declared war against all who put it on. In the gardens of Christ Church, in the quadrangles of colleges, they set upon the courtly youths and tore the vestments from their backs. In these affairs young Penn was always in the front; and on the facts being proved against him he was censured and expelled.
THE WOrLD (1661-1666).
On hearing of his son's offence of Non-conformity, the Admiral was deeply grieved. The world was going well with him. He was a Naval Commissioner, a Member of Parliament, Governor of Kinsale, Admiral of Ireland, a Member of the Council of Munster, and a favourite of the Duke of York. The King was kind to him and something more. The Lords Justices had found him an estate in Shangarry Castle, county Cork. An English peerage lay within his reach; and in his choice of title he had fixed his mind on Weymouth, the port for which he sat in parliament. That such a lad as his son William, with his love of sport and business, should become a ranter and a mystic, was so droll a fancy, that the Admiral could only laugh it off. Yet he was troubled with reports from Oxford, and his rivals at the Navy Gardens noted with a secret joy his clouded brow, his wistful manner, and his silent tongue.
The boy was brought to London, to the Navy Gardens, in the hope that a course of hard dining and late dancing might do him good. His mother, Lady Penn, was of a merry mood, and Peg, his sister, was a perfect romp. Sir William kept a pleasant table; entertained the best of company; enjoyed a supper at the Bear, and was a frequent visitor in the pit of Drury Lane. Broome's comedy of the 'Jovial Crew,' a satire on the Puritans, was then being acted at the old Cock-pit, and Sir William took his son to see it. 'To the theatre,' writes Pepys under date of November 1, 1661, 'to see the Jovial Crew. At my house Sir William sent for his son, William Perm, lately come from Oxford.' William Penn was not corrected in his notions by the Jovial Crew.
Sir William tried all courses with his son. He shut him up ; he took him to the play; he had him whipt; he joked and laughed at him; he treated him with silent rage. But nothing he could do prevailed. The boy continued in a low and serious frame of mind; he shunned society; he sang no ballads; nay, he even gave up dog and gun. He wrote to Dr. Owen, who replied to him, as to a favourite pupil; and the young man could not be induced, by dice and cards, by plays and suppers, to admit that he was wrong in resisting the King's commands about wearing the college gown.
Yet every one who came near Penn observed that he was strong in wit and purpose, even as he was soft of face. Every one liked him, and spoke well of him; and of those who knew him well, the Admiral loved him most. To quarrel with this favourite, more than was needful for his good, was