« AnteriorContinuar »
comfort while at Oxford. Though his thoughts on this subject assumed as yet no practical shape, his mind became more and more fixed, during this tour, on the land to which he saw the best men of his age going out as settlers. The germ of Pennsylvania was quickening into life.
MARRIED LIFE (1672-1673).
Penn was anxious to be near Guli Springett once again. Calling to see his mother at Wanstead on his way to London, he made a short stay in the capital, visiting old friends, reporting the results of his journey, and then posted down to Bucks. Received by the people of the Grange with open arms, by Guli Springett as her lover, and by Ellwood and Pennington as a champion of their faith, he passed in their society a considerable time, dallying with the days of courtship, and making preparations for his marriage. Not wishing to disturb Lady Penn at Wanstead, he took a house at Rickmansworth, six miles from Chalfont; and when everything was ready for Guli's reception, the marriage rites were performed in the early spring of 1672.
Their honeymoon lasted long. The spring and summer came and went, but Penn was still with his young wife at Rickmansworth. No flattery of friends, and no attack of foes, could draw him from that charming house. Since his expulsion from his father's house he had never known so much repose. Seeing him surrounded by all that makes domestic happiness complete—a charming home, a beautiful and loving wife, a plentiful estate, the prospect of a family, and a troop of attached and admiring friends,—those who knew him only at second hand imagined that the prisoner of Newgate and the Tower would now subside into the country gentleman, more interested in cultivating his paternal acres than in the progress of an unpopular doctrine. Those who reasoned so knew little of William Penn, and still less of the lady who had now become his wife. Some months given up to love, Guli would have scorned the man who could sink down into the sloth of the affections; who by outward showing to the world would have represented her alliance as bringing weakness to his character instead of strength.
The next three years of Penn's life were spent in working, writing, preaching. Guli rode with him from town to town, and as she had no little ones as yet in the nursery, she could give up all her time to missionary work. As she was past her thirtieth year, it seemed as though the name of Penn might only live in what her husband wrote and said. He never laid his pen aside. Beyond his labours as a preacher, he composed in these three years no less than twenty-six books of controversy, some of which were rather long, and two political pamphlets—his treatise on Oaths, and England's Present Interests considered.
A controversy with Thomas Hicks, a Baptist minister, on the Inner Light, first drew him out of his retreat; and led him to indite his 'Christian Quaker,' his 'Reason against Railing, ' and his 'Counterfeit Christian detected.' Men's minds were much unsettled . Two converts, fancying they felt a call, set off for Rome in order to convert the Pope. They had not been long in the Eternal City ere they were arrested as dangerous heretics and placed in confinement:—one of them, John Love, was sent to the Inquisition, where he died in a short time with such aids as the Holy Office used for the suppression of heresy; the other, John Perrot, was sent to a hospital for the insane. England could not quite abandon them, and after a good deal of interest had been made in his behalf, John Perrot was set at liberty; on which he returned to his own country, where he soon gave his former friends so much trouble that they wished him back again in the Roman bedlam. It was in the conduct of men like Perrot that the weak side of the new Christian Democracy came out. Soon after his return to England, he began to preach the doctrine that even in prayer the hat should not be removed except at the Divine instance. This was felt by Penn to be a dangerous development of his own idea. Not uncover to God! It was not only absurd, but destroyed the argument on which his own refusal to unbonnet to the King was justified. Firm measures were taken with the innovator; but, as usual with such men, Perrot refused to conform, and was expelled the society. Thereupon he published a pamphlet called the 'Spirit of the Hat,' —which Penn answered in 'The Spirit of Alex
ander the Coppersmith.' More pamphlets followed —Penn, as usual, having the last and strongest wordIn April, 1673, Penn's brother Richard died at Wanstead, where his mother still resided. Dick was buried at Walthamstow, and as he died a single man, his fortune passed to his elder brother.
The session of 1673 was occupied by a dispute in the House of Commons as to the King's right to issue declarations of Liberty of Conscience without consent of Parliament. A majority of the Commons declared that his Majesty had exceeded his powers. Charles took time to consider his answer; and at last replied that his ancestors had exercised this disputed right. The Commons said it was not so; on which his Majesty, who said he was insulted, threatened to dissolve the House. But his more cautious and politic friend, Louis Quatorze, advised him to submit, in order to gain time till peace was finally concluded with Holland, when the regiments engaged on the Continent could be used against his enemies in England; Louis offering to supply him with money and forces from France sufficient to crush every attempt to resist his royal wilL Charles adopted this counsel. The very evening on which it was offered by Colbert on behalf of his august master, the King sent for a copy of his declaration and tore it up in the presence of his ministers. Next day this act of grace was made public; the two Houses of Parliament received the intelligence with shouts of satisfaction; in the evening bonfires burst upon