Imagens das páginas

In the year 1672, he married Gulielma Maria Springett, whose father (Sir William) having been killed, at the seige of Bamber, in the Civil Wars, her mother had married Isaac Penington, of-Chalfont, in Bucks, an eminent minister and writer among the Quakers.* After his marriage, he resided some time at Rickmansworth, in Hertfordshire, whence he romoved to Worminghurst, in Sussex.

In 1677, in company with George Fox and Robert Barclay, (the celebrated Apologist) he again set sail on a religious visit to Holland and Germany, where they were received by many pious persons as the messengers of Christ, particularly at Herwerden, by the Princess Elizabeth of the Rhine, daughter of the King of Bohemia, and granddaughter of James I, of England.

The persecution of Dissenters continuing to rage notwithstanding their repeated applications to Parliament for sufferance and protection, William Penn now turned his views toward a settlement in the New World, as a place where himself and his friends might enjoy their religious opinions without molestation ; and where an example might be set to the nations of a just and righteous government: “There may be room there," said he, “though not here, for such a holy experiment.”

He therefore, in 1681, solicited a patent from Charles II, for a Province in North America, which the King readily granted, in consideration of his father's services, and of a debt still due him from the crown. Penn soon after published a description of the Province, proposing easy terms of settlement to such as might be disposed to go thither. He also wrote to the Indian natives, informing them of his desire to hold his possession with their consent and good-will. He then drew up, “The Fundamental Constitution of Pennsylvania,” and the following year he published “The Frame of Government,” a law of which code held out a greater degree of religious liberty than had at that time been allowed in the world. The following provision may be considered as the foundation-stone upon which the sublime edifice of universal toleration has been since established in the United States: “All persons living in this Province who confess and acknowledge the One Almighty and Eternal God to be the Creator, Upholder, and Ruler of the World, and that hold themselves obliged in conscience to live peaceably and justly in civil society, shall in no wise be molested or prejudiced for their religious persuasion or practice, in matters of faith and worship; nor shall they be compelled at any time to frequent or maintain any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever."

Ancestor of the Peningtons of Philadelphia.

Upon the publication of these proposals, many respectable families removed to the new Province; the city of Philadelphia was laid out, upon the banks of the Delaware; and in 1682, the Proprietor visited his newly-acquired territory, where he remained about two years, adjusting its concerns, and establishing a friendly intercourse with his colonial neighbours': during which period no less than fifty sail arrived with settlers from England, Ireland, Wales, Holland, and Germany. Envy however, followed him into the Wilderness; and he who had been traduced at home, as a concealed papist, was accused abroad of ambition, and the desire of wealth. His defence, to his friends, of his own political couduct, concludes with this remarkable prediction : “If friends here keep to God, and in the justice, mercy, equity, and fear of the Lord, their enemies will be their footstool; if not, their heirs and my heirs too, will lose all.”

Soon after Penn returned to England, King Charles died, and the respect which James II bore to the late Admiral, who had recommended his son to his favour, procured for him free access at Court. He made use of this advantage to solicit the discharge of his persecuted brethren, fifteen hundred of whom remained in prison at the decease of the late King

In 1686, having taken lodgings at Kensington, to be near the Court, he published “A Persuasive to Moderation toward Dissenting Christians, &c. humbly submitted to the King and his Great Council,” which is thought to have hastened, if it did not occasion, the King's proclamation for a general pardon, which was followed the next year by his suspension of the penal laws.

Ai the Revolution in 1688, Penn's intimacy with the abdicated monarch created suspicions of which he repeatedly cleared himself before authority, until accused by a profligate wretch, whom the Parliament afterward declared to be a cheat and impostor, when not caring to expose himself to the oaths of such a man, he withdrew from public notice, till the year 1693, when, through the mediation of his friends at Court, he was once more admitted to plead his own cause before the King and Council, and was again acquitted of all suspicion of guilt.

The most generally known production of his temporary seclusion, bears the title of “Fruits of Solitude, in Reflections and Maxims relating to the Conduct of Human Life.”

Not long after his restoration to society, he lost his wife, Gulielma, to which he said all his other troubles were as nothing in comparison. He travelled, however, the same year, in the west of England, and in the next prosecuted an application to Parliament for the relief of his friends, the Quakers, in the case of oaths.

In the year 1696, he married a second wife, Hannah, the daughter of Thomas Callowhill, an eminent merchant of Bristol; and soon after

buried his eldest son, Springett, a remarkably pious and hopeful youth. In 1698 he travelled in Ireland, and resided the following year at Bristol.

In 1699, he again sailed for Pennsylvania, with his wife and family, intending to make his Province, the place of their future residence; but advantage was taken of his absence to undermine proprietary governments, under colour of advancing the King's prerogative, and he thought it necessary to return to England again in 1701. After his arrival the measure was laid aside, and Penn became once more welcome at Court, on the accession of Queen Anne. On this occasion, he resided again at Kensington, and afterwards at Knights-Bridge, till in the year 1706, he removed to a house about a mile from Brentford.

Now, after a life of almost constant vicissitude and exertion, he found that the infirmities of age began to overpower his faculties; and at length, in 1710, finding the air near the city to disagree with his declining health, he took a handsome seat at Rushcomb, near Twyford, in Buckinghamshire, at which he continued to reside during the remainder of his life.

In the year 1712, he had three distinct fits of the apoplectic kind. The last of these so impaired his memory and understanding as to render him thereafter unfit for public action. His friend Thomas Story (who had been the first Recorder of the corporation of Philadelphia) made him annual visits from this time, till his decease. In 1713 and 1714, he found him cheerful, and able to recollect past transactions, but deficient in utterance. In 1715 his memory was decayed, but Story relates that he continued to deliver, in the meeting at Reading, short, but. sound and sensible expressions. In 1716 he seemed glad to see his friend, and at parting with him and another he said: “My love is with you. The Lord preserve you; and remember me in the everlasting covenant.” In 1717, he scarcely knew his old acquaintance, or could walk without leading. He died in 1718, and was buried at Jordan's, near Beaconsfield, in Buckinghamshire.

Such was the checkered life, and such the gradual dissolution, of a man whose writings (first published in two volumes folio) bespeak his. character, as a Christian and a Philanthropist; and of whom, as a Politician and Legislator, the prosperity of Pennsylvania is a monument more durable than brass and marble.

See the Life of Penn prefixed to the first edition of his Works, London, 1726 ; the Biographia Britannica, article Penn; and Proud's History of Pennsylvania, a neglected collection of interesting facts and documents, not to be met with elsewhere.



(Concluded from page 134.)

To those early and memorable proofs of literary excellence; Mr. Linn was indebted for the honour of the degree of doctor in divinity, conferred upon him about this time, by the university of Pennsylvania. This honor, never before, probably, conferred upon so young a man, was decreed with a zealous unanimity. It may be deemed the spontaneous reward of merit, since, so far from being sought for or claimed by Mr. Linn, neither he nor his familiar friends entertained the least suspicion of the design, before it was carried into execution.

His literary performances were the fruits of those intervals which his professional duty, and the disease which had rooied itself in his constitution, had afforded him. These intervals of health and tranquillity became gradually fewer and shorter. Besides occasional indispositions, by which he was visited more frequently than formerly, those sensations became more and more permanent, which always appeared to his imagination unerring indications of approaching death. To a mind formed like his, these symptoms had been productive of a dreary melancholy, had their effects been confined wholly to his own person, but, with him, they received bitter aggravation from reflections on the helpless state in which an untimely death would leave his family.

No one ever entertained a more lively sense of the duty which his profession had imposed upon him, nor more ardent wishes to be useful to those around him. The voice of blame, even when unmerited, shot the keenest pangs into his soul. The peculiar nature of his feelings, of which there was no external or visible tokens, agonized him with the terror, that any failure of parochial duty might be imputed rather to defect of inclination than of power. Hence was he continually led to overtask his own strength, and to hasten, by undue exertions, that event which was to put a final close to his activity.

From the beginning of his malady, he entertained serious thoughts of resigning his pastoral office. Whether his own feelings conveyed more deadly intimations than his friends imagined, or whether his temper was peculiarly disposed to despondency ané! fear, he predicted nothing from these symptoms but lasting infirmity. The exercises of the pulpit were peculiarly unfavourable to his disease. In a different calling, he imagined that his health would be less endangered. Some calling, that might perhaps prove far more arduous, and would certainly be much less agreeable, he was yet extremely desirous of embracing, provided it was such as his peculiar constitution was fitted to endure: but though no such path presented itself to his view, yet so exquisitely painful was it to him to receive a recompense for duties that he was unable to perform, that very often, during the two last years of his life had he formed the resolution of absolutely resigning his call.

As often as these resolutions were formed, they were shaken, for a time, by the admonitions and counsels of his friends. They endeavoured to call back to his bosom that hope which had deserted it; they made light of the symptoms he complained of; they persuaded him that his infirmities were transient; that time alone would dissipate them; or, at least, that some change of regimen, some rural excursion, or a larger portion of exercise than ordinary, would be sufficient to restore him. They insisted on the unreasonableness of despairing of his recovery, before a trial had been made of the proper remedies. His physicians contributed to inspire him with the same confidence. By these means was hope occasionally revived in his heart. He consented to try the remedies prescribed to him; he obtained a respite from church ser. vice, and made several journies in pursuit of health: but all these experiments were fruitless. They afforded him a brief and precarious respite from pain, and he eagerly returned to the pulpit. But his feelings quickly warned him that his hopes were fallacious: his infirmities were sure to return upon him with redoubled force; despondency invaded him anew; he again embraced the resolution of resigning his post, from which he was again dissuaded with difficulty greater than before.

These mental struggles and vicissitudes were alone sufficient to have destroyed a much more robust constitution than his. The gloom which hovered over his mind became deeper and more settled. A respite from pain or weakness was not sufficient to dise pel it, even for a time; and though his anxieties were more keen at one time than another, long was the period during which he was an utter stranger to joy. If he took up a book, over which

« AnteriorContinuar »