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In the session then sitting (1711), a committee of the Commons recommended the adoption of means to increase the captures of Negroes, that their value might be reduced in the slave-markets of the plantations. The Privy Council was scandalised at a provincial Assembly for proposing measures hostile to the laws and interests of the parent state.
Penn passed much of his time in London, where he had a host of friends in office. Anne was partial to him. He was intimate with men on both sides of the royal gallery—with Tory earls as well as Whig lords. Sunderland was his friend; Godolphin was his friend also. Lord Godolphin thought so highly of his honesty and talent that he often asked him to arrange political and personal matters which required unusual tact. When Anne appointed Dartmouth Secretary of State in 1710, Godolphin asked Penn to see Lord Dartmouth, and assure him that the Lord Treasurer was glad to have him as a colleague, though he could not decently, considering his relations with Lord Sunderland, say so openly and in person. Dartmouth was contented with the Earl's assurance of support.
Early in 1712 Penn received the first of three shocks of paralysis, which laid his reason low. The first shock was not very bad, but in the fall of that year he had a second shock, from which he only rallied after several weeks. A third shock, far more violent than the first or second, took him in his fainting state. His daughter Lettie, and her husband, William Aubrey, were recalled to what was thought to be his dying bed. The younger children were about him, but his eldest boy, the son of Guli, was not there. Since his return from Pennsylvania, and his public renunciation of his father's sect, William Penn the younger had been less and less under the paternal roof. Marriage, and a home blessed with three children — Guli, Springett, and William— had produced no change. He went into the army, but he quitted it in disgust. He tried to get into Parliament, but his opponent bribed higher, and he was defeated at the poll. He sold the Springett estate in Kent, which he inherited under his mother's will. He quitted his young wife and children, leaving them to the care of strangers, to seek the lowest dregs of pleasure and dissipation in the cities of Continental Europe. He returned no more to England. A few years later his family heard that he was living in an obscure town in France, worn out, morally and physically, ruined alike in purse and health. They never saw him more. The darker side of his story was never known to Penn.
Penn's debility grew upon him. From the date of his third attack he was considered in a dying state; but he lingered on in a gentle and sweet decline. To the devout it seemed a dispensation of Providence, that after so long a period of toil and trouble, his spirit should have found an interval of rest. Later on in his long illness, he felt a few more shocks, but they soon passed away, and his bodily health continued good. His temper was serene. He took an interest in the concerns, the pleasures, and the amusements of his young children;
and the abandoned widow of bis son was housed at Ruscombe with her little ones. When the sun was warm, he took them out into the fields to gather flowers, and watch them chase butterflies. He was again a little child. When the weather was bad, he gambolled with them about the great mansion, taking an infantine pleasure in running from room to room, in looking at the fine furniture, and gazing from the great windows on the snow or rain. Never before had he looked so happy. He could not speak very much, but a constant smile was on his face. It was only when he saw his wife looking anxious, or when, on going into a room, he found her writing, that a shade of melancholy came into his eyea Unable now to write, he yet retained a sense of trouble as connected with that writing-desk. No daisies laughed among those papers, and no linnets perched and sang among those shelves. His memory faded more and more; he forgot the names of his intimate friends; his powers of utterance left him ; but the mild benignity of his character still came out.
The two friends who were most frequently at his side during this long illness were Thomas Story and Henry Goldney. Neither was in good health; but they considered it a duty to be near their friend. Towards the end of July 1718, Story was at Ruscombe, assisting Mrs. Penn. On the 27th he left on a trip to Bristol; Hannah Penn drove him in her coach to Reading; where she parted from him, with messages to John, her eldest son. When she returned to the house, Penn was no worse than he had been for days past. At noon next day a change occurred; he was seized with fits. She wrote a letter to recall Story; but he had gone too far; and she had to face the trials of the day unaided by a single friend.
Cold shivers quickly followed raging heats. Her doctor thought an intermittent fever was setting in: On the 29 th the patient had grown so much worse they could no longer entertain a hope. Hannah then sent a messenger with orders to ride post haste to Bristol, to summon her son John, now a man of three-and-twenty, to his father's bed.
But death rode faster than her messenger. In the first watches of the summer morning, between two and three o'clock, he fell asleep. His widow watched his lips in agony and suspense. They never moved again.
Penn was buried at the village of Jordans, on the 5th of August, 1718, by the side of Guli, his first wife, and Springett, his first-born son. A crowd of people followed the bier from Ruscombe to the grave-yard, consisting of the most eminent Friends, from all parts of the country, and the most distinguished of every Christian church near Ruscombe. When the coffin was lowered into the grave, a pause of silence followed; after which the old and intimate friends of the dead spoke a few words to the assembly; and the people went to their several homes subdued and chastened with the thought that a good man and a great man, who had done his work and earned his rest, had been laid that day upon the bosom of his mother earth.
In the first edition of Macaulay's 'History of England/ apart from sneers and ' hesitations,' Penn was charged with five offences touching his character as a public man.
He was represented as becoming such a servile courtier, that his own sect looked coldly on him and requited his services with obloquy. He was represented as extorting money from the school-girls of Taunton, for a set of heartless Maids of Honour. He was represented as trying to seduce William Kiffin, a fighting Baptist preacher, into the acceptance of an alderman's gown, which gown Kiffin refused. He was represented as going over to the Hague in 1687, and trying to procure the Prince of Orange's support of the King's Declaration for Liberty of Conscience. He was represented as guilty of simony of a peculiarly disreputable kind in the affairs of Magdalen College.
The third charge has been modified, the fourth withdrawn. The other charges stand in the Collected Works, with such excuses as Macaulay had hastily put forth in his notes in 1857.
That Macaulay contemplated making further changes in his text may be inferred from several signs. (1) After the year 1857, he ceased his calumnies of Penn. In all the third part of his narrative, contained in the fifth volume, there is not a single charge, a single sneer, though Penn was still before the public eye, as busy with his colony and with his ministry as in the earlier time. (2) His indexes