Page images
PDF
EPUB

their peculiar doctrines are too high-flown for society; but cold in their affections, and inour humble apprehension. They hold that God wardly chilled into a sort of Chinese apathy, has at all times communicated a certain por- by the restraints to which they are continually tion of the Spirit, or word, or light, to mankind; subjected; childish and absurd in their relibut has given very different portions of it to gious scruples and peculiar usages, and sindifferent individuals: that, in consequence of gularly unlearned as a sect of theologians; this inward illumination, not only the ancient but exemplary, above all other sects, for the patriarchs and prophets, but many of the old decency of their lives, for their charitable inheathen philosophers, were very good Chris- dulgence to all other persuasions, for their care tians: that no kind of worship or preaching of their poor, and for the liberal participation can be acceptable or profitable, unless it flow they have afforded to their women in all the from the immediate inspiration and movement duties and honours of the society. of this inward spirit; and that all ordination, We would not willingly insinuate any thing or appointment of priests, is therefore impious against the general sincerity of those who reand unavailing. They are much attached to main in communion with this body; but Mr. the Holy Ghost; but are supposed to reject Clarkson has himself noticed, that when they the doctrine of the Trinity; as they certainly become opulent, they are very apt to fall off reject the sacraments of Baptism and the from it; and indeed we do not recollect ever Lord's Supper, with all other rites, ordinances, to have seen either a Quaker gentleman of and ceremonies, known or practised in any fortune, or a Quaker day-labourer. The truth other Christian church. These tenets they is, that ninety-nine out of a hundred of them justify by various citations from the New are engaged in trade; and as they all deal and Testament, and the older fathers; as any one correspond with each other, it is easy to see may see in the works of Barclay and Penn, what advantages they must have as traders, with rather more satisfaction than in this of from belonging to so great a corporation. A Mr. Clarkson. We enter not at present into few follow the medical profession; and a still these disputations.

smaller number that of conveyancing; but Upon the whole, we are inclined to believe they rely, in both, almost exclusively on the the Quakers to be a tolerably honest, pains- support of their brethren of the society. It is taking, and inoffensive set of Christians. Very rather remarkable, that Mr. Clarkson has not stupid, dull, and obstinate, we presume, in given us any sort of estimate or calculation of conversation; and tolerably lumpish and fa- their present numbers in England; though, tiguing in domestic society: active and me from the nature of their government, it must thoclical in their business, and narrow-minded be known to most of their leading members. and ill-informed as to most other particulars : It is the general opinion, it seems, that they beneficent from habit and the discipline of the lare gradually diminishing.

(Iuly, 1813.) Memoirs of the Private and Public Life of William Penn. By Thomas Clarkson, M. A.

8vo. 2 vols. pp. 1020. London : 1813. It is impossible to look into any of Mr. whatsoever. Unfortunately for Mr. Clarkson, Clarkson's books, without feeling that he is an moral qualities alone will not make a good excellent man--and a very bad writer. Many writer; nor are they even of the first importof the defects of his composition, indeed, seem ance on such an occasion : And accordingly, to be directly referrible to the amiableness of with all his philanthropy, piety, and inflexible his disposition. An earnestness for truth and honesty, he has not escaped the sin of tediousvirtue, that does not allow him to waste any ness-and that to a degree that must render thought upon the ornaments by which they him almost illegible to any but Quakers, Remay be recommended-and a simplicity of viewers, and others, who make public profescharacter which is not aware that what is sion of patience insurmountable. He has no substantially respectable may be made dull taste, and no spark of vivacity—not the vestige or ridiculous by the manner in which it is of an ear for harmony—and a prolixity of presented-are virtues which we suspect not | which modern times have scarcely preserved io have been very favourable to his reputation any other example. He seems to have a suffias an author. Feeling in himself not only an ciently sound and clear judgment, but no great entire toleration of honest tediousness, but a acuteness of understanding; and, though visidecided preference for it upon all occasions bly tasking himself to judge charitably and over mere elegance or ingenuity, he seems to speak candidly of all men, is evidently beset have transferred a little 100 hastily to books with such antipathy to all who persecute those principles of judgment which are admi- Quakers, or maltreat negroes, as to make him rable when applied to men; and to have for- very unwilling to report any thing in their fagotten, that though dulness may be a very vour. On the other hand, he has great invenial' fault in a good man, it is such a fault dustry-scrupulous veracity—and that serious in a book as to render its goodness of no avail and sober enthusiasm for his subject, which

is sure in the long run to disarm ridicule, and This course of discipline, however, Lol win upon inattention—and is frequently able proving immediately effectual, he was sert to render vulgarity impressive, and simplicity upon his travels, along with some other yourg sublime. Moreover, and above all, he is per- gentlemen, and resided for two years in France, fectly free from affectation; so that, though and the Low Countries; but without any we may be wearied, we are never disturbed change either in those serious views of reior offended-and read on, in tranquillity, till gion, or those austere notions of morality, by we find it impossible to read any more. which his youth had been so prematurely dis

It will be guessed, however, that it is not on tinguished. On his return, his father again account of its literary merits that we are in- endeavoured to subdue him to a more worluly duced to take notice of the work before us. frame of mind; first, by setting him to study William Penn, to whose honour it is wholly law at Lincoln's Inn; and afterwards, by &nddevoted, was, beyond all doubt, a personage ing him to the Duke of Ormond's court at of no ordinary standard-and ought, before this Dublin, and giving him the charge of his large time, to have met with a biographer capable possessions in that kingdom. These expediof doing him justice. He is most known, and ents might perhaps have been attended with most deserving of being known, as the settler success, had he not accidentally again fallen of Pennsylvania; but his private character in (at Cork) with his old friend Thomas Loe, also is interesting, and full of those peculiari- the Quaker,—who set before him such a view ties which distinguished the temper and man- of the dangers of his situation, that he seems ners of a great part of the English nation at from that day forward to have renounced all the period in which he lived. His theological secular occupations, and betaken himself to and polemical exploits are no less character- devotion, as the main business of his life. istic of the man and of the times ;-though The reign of Charles II., however, was not all that is really edifying in this part of his auspicious to dissenters; and in those evil history might have been given in about one days of persecution, he was speedily put in twentieth part of the space which is allotted prison for attending Quaker meetings; but to it in the volumes of Mr. Clarkson.

was soon liberated, and again came back to William Penn was born in 1644, the only his father's house, where a long disputation son of Admiral Sir W. Penn, the representa- took place upon the subject of his new creed. tive of an ancient and honourable family in It broke up with this moderate and very loyal Buckingham and Gloucestershire. He was proposition on the part of the Vice-Admiralregularly educated; and entered a Gentle- that the young Quaker should consent to sit man Commoner at Christ's Church, Oxford, with his hat off

, in presence of the Kingthe where he distinguished himself very early for Duke of York-and the Admiral himself! in his proficiency both in classical learning and return for which slight compliance, it was athletic exercises. When he was only about stipulated that he should be no longer moles:sixteen, however, he was roused to a sense of ed for any of his opinions or practices. The the corruptions of the established faith, by the heroic convert, however, would listen to no preaching of one Thomas Loe, a Quaker-and terms of composition; and, after taking some immediately discontinued his attendance at days to consider of it, reported, that his conchapel; and, with some other youths of his science could not comport with any species own way of thinking, began to hold prayer of Hat worship-and was again turned out of meetings in their private apartments. This, doors for his pains. of course, gave great scandal and offence to He now look openly to preaching in the his academical superiors; and a large fine, Quaker meetings; and shortly after began that with suitable admonitions, were imposed on course of theological and controversial pubthe young nonconformist. Just at this critical lications, in which he persisted to his dying period, an order was unluckily received from days; and which has had the effect of overCourt to resume the use of the surplice, which whelming his memory with two vast folio it seems had been discontinued almost ever volumes of Puritanical pamphlets. His most since the period of the Reformation; and the considerable work seems to have been that sight of this unfortunate vestment, "opera- entitled, “No Cross, no Crown;" in which he ted,” as Mr. Clarkson expresses it," so dis- not only explains and vindicates, at great agreeably on William Penn, that he could not length, the grounds of the peculiar docirines bear it! and, joining himself with some other and observances of the Society to which he young gentlemen, he fell upon those students belonged--but endeavours to show, by a very who appeared in surplices, and tore them large and entertaining induction of instances every where over their heads." This, we from profane history, that the same general conceive, was not quite correct, even as a principles had been adopted and acted upon Quaker proceeding; and was but an unpro- by the wise and good in every generation ; and mising beginning for the future champion of were suggested indeed to the reflecting mind religious liberty. Its natural consequence, by the inward voice of conscience, and the however, was, that he and his associates were, analogy of the whole visible scheme of God's without further ceremony, expelled from the providence in the government of the world. University; and when he went home to his The intermixture of worldly learning, and the father, and attempted to justify by argument larger and bolder scope of this performance, the measures he had adopted, it was no less na- render it far more legible than the pious ex tural that the good Admiral should give him a hortations and pertinacious polemics which good box on the ear, and turn him to the door. 'fill the greater part of his subsequent publica

tions. In his love of controversy and of print. Mayor and Recorder for preaching in a Quaing, indeed, this worthy sectary seems to have ker meeting. He afterwards published an acbeen the very PRIESTLEY of the 17th century. count of this proceeding;—and it is in our He not only responded in due form to every opinion one of the most curious and instrucwork in which the principles of his sect were tive pieces that ever came from his pen. The directly or indirectly attacked,—but whenever times to which it relates, are sufficiently he heard a sermon that he did not like,- known to have been times of gross oppression or learned that any of the Friends had been and judicial abuse ;-but the brutality of the put in the stocks ;-whenever he was pre- Court upon this occasion seems to us to exvented from preaching, or learned any edi- ceed any thing that is recorded elsewhere ;fying particulars of the death of a Quaker, or and the noble firmness of the jury still deof a persecutor of Quakers, he was instantly serves to be remembered, for example to hapat the press, with a letter, or a narrative, or pier days. The prisoner came into court, acan admonition-and never desisted from the cording to Quaker costume, with his hat on contest till he had reduced the adversary to his head ;-but the doorkeeper, with a due silence.

zeal for the dignity of the place, pulled it off The members of the established Church, as he entered. Upon this, however, the Lord indeed, were rarely so unwary as to make any Mayor became quite furious, and ordered the rejoinder; and most of his disputes, accord- unfortunate beaver to be instantly replaced ingly, were with rival sectaries; in whom the which was no sooner done than he fined the spirit of proselytism and jealous zeal is always poor culprit for appearing covered in his prestronger than in the members of a larger and sence! — William Penn now insisted upon more powerful body. They were not always knowing what law he was accused of having contented indeed with the regular and general broken,—to which simple question the Rewar of the press, but frequently challenged corder was reduced to answer, " that he was each other to personal combat, in the form of an impertinent fellow,—and ihat many had solemn and public disputations. William Penn studied thirty or forty years to understand the had the honour of being repeatedly appointed law, which he was for having expounded in a the champion of the Quakers in these theo- moment !" The learned controversialist howlogical duels; and never failed, according to ever was not to be silenced so easily ;-he his partial biographer, completely to demolish quoted Lord Coke and Magna Charta on his his opponent;—though it appears that he did antagonist in a moment; and chastised his innot always meet with perfectly fair play, and solence by one of the best and most characthat the chivalrous law of arms was by no teristic repartees that we recollect ever to have means correctly observed in these ghostly en- met with. “I tell you to be silent,” cried the counters. His first set to, was with one Vincent, Recorder, in a great passion ; "if we should the oracle of a neighbouring congregation of suffer you to ask questions till to-morrow Presbyterians; and affords rather a ludicrous morning, you will be never the wiser!"example of the futility and indecorum which “That," replied the Quaker, with his immovare apt to characterise all such exhibitions.- able tranquillity, “that is, according as the After the debate had gone on for some time, answers are.? _ " Take him away, take him Vincent made a long discourse, in which he away ?'' exclaimed the Mayor and the Roopenly accused the Quakers of blasphemy; corder in a breath-“turn him into the Bale and as soon as he had done, he made off, and Dock;"—and into the Bale Dock, a filthy and desired all his friends to follow him. Penn pestilent dungeon in the neighbourhood, he insisted upon being heard in reply: but the was accordingly turned-discoursing calmly Presbyterian troops pulled him down by the all the way on Magna Charter and the rights skirts, and proceeding to blow out the can- of Englishmen ;-while the courtly Recorder dles, (for the battle had already lasted till delivered a very animated charge to the Jury, midnight,) left the indignant orator in utter in the absence of the prisoner. darkness! He was not to be baffled or ap- The Jury, however, after a short consultapalled, however, by a privation of this de- tion, brought in a verdict, finding him merely scription; and accordingly went on to argue "guilty of speaking in Grace-Church Street.” and retort in the dark, with such force and For this cautious and most correct deliverance, effect, that it was thought advisable to send they were loaded with reproaches by the out for his fugitive opponent, who, after some Court, and sent out to amend their verdict,time, reappeared with a candle in his hand, but in half an hour they returned with ihe and begged that the debate might be adjoum- same ingenious finding, written out at large, ed to another day. But he could never be and subscribed with all their names. The prevailed on, Mr. Clarkson assures us, to re. Court now became more furious than ever,

and new the combat; and Penn, after going and shut them up without meat, drink, or fire, till defying him in his own meeting-house, had next morning; when they twice over came recourse, as usual, to the press; and put forth back with the same verdict ;-upon which they “ The Sandy Foundation Shaken,” for which were reviled, and threatened so outrageously he had the pleasure of being committed to by the Recorder, that William Penn protestthe Tower, on the instigation of the Bishop ed against this plain intimidation of the perof London ; and solaced himself, during his sons, to whose free suffrages the law had enconfinement, by writing six other pamphlets. trusted his cause. The answer of the Recorder

Soon after his deliverance, he was again was, "Stop his mouth, jailor–bring fetters taken and brought to trial before the Lord I and stake him to the ground.” William Penn replied with the temper of a Quaker, and the , in Newgate; where he amused himself, as spirit of a martyr, "Do your pleasure-I mat- usual, by writing and publishing four pamter not your fetters !" And the Recorder took phlets in support of his opinions. occasion to observe, “that, till now, he had It is by no means our intention, however, never understood the policy of the Spaniards to digest a chronicle either of his persecutions in suffering the Inquisition among them. But or his publications. In the earlier part of his now he saw that it would never be well with career, he seems to have been in prison every us, till we had something like the Spanish Iri- six months; and, for a very considerable pequisition in England !” After this sage re. riod of it, certainly favoured the world with mark, the Jury were again sent back, -and at least six new pamphlets every year. In all kept other twenty-four hours, without food or these, as well as in his public appearances refreshment. On the third day, the natural there is a singular mixture of earnestness and and glorious effect of this brutality on the sobriety—a devotedness to the cause in which spirits of Englishmen was at length produced. he was engaged, that is almost sublime; and Instead of the special and unmeaning form of a temperance and patience towards his oppotheir first verdict, they now, all in one voice, nents, that is truly admirable: while in the declared the prisoner Not Guilty. The Re- whole of his private life, there is redundant corder again broke out into abuse and menace; testimony, even from the mouths of his eneand, after “praying God to keep his life out mies, that his conduct was pure and jhilanof such hands," proceeded, we really do not thropic in an extraordinary degree, and distinsee on what pretext, to fine every man of them guished at the some time for singular pruin forty marks, and to order them to prison till dence and judgment in all ordinary affairs. payment. William Penn then demanded his His virtues and his sufferings appear at last to liberty; but was ordered into custody till he have overcome his father's objections to his paid the fine imposed on him for wearing his peculiar tenets, and a thorough and cordia! hat; and was forth with dragged away to his reconciliation took place previous to their final old lodging in the Bale Dock, while in the separation. On his death-bed, indeed, the allvery act of quoting the twenty-ninth chapter miral is said to have approved warmly of the Great Charter, Nullus liber homo,&c. every part of his son's conduct; and to have As he positively refused to acknowledge the predicted, that “if he and his friends kept to legality of this infliction by paying the fine, their plain way of preaching and of living, he might have lain long enough in this dun- they would speedily make an end of the geon; but his father, who was now reconciled priests, to the end of the world.”—By his to him, sent the money privately; and he was father's death he succeeded to a handsome es. at last set at liberty.

up,

tate, then yielding upwards of 15001, a year; The spirit, however, which had dictated but made no change either in his professions these proceedings was not likely to cease from or way of life. He was at the press and in troubling; and, within less than a year, the Newgate, after this event, exactly as before : poor Quaker was again brought before the and defied and reviled the luxury of the age, Magistrate on an accusation of illegal preach- just as vehemently, when he was in a condiing; and was again about to be dismissed for tion to partake of it

, as in the days of his powant of evidence, when the worthy Justice verty. Within a short time after his succes. ingeniously bethought himself of tendering to sion, he made a pilgrimage to Holland and the prisoner the oath of allegiance, which, as Germany in company with George Fox; where well as every other oath, he well knew that it is said that ihey converted many of all his principles would oblige him to refuse. In- ranks, including young ladies of quality and stead of the oath, W. Penn, accordingly offer- old professors of divinity. They were ill ed to give his reasons for not swearing; but used, however, by a surly Graf or two, who the Magistrate refused to hear him: and an sent them out of their dominious under a coraltercation ensued, in the course of which the poral's guard; an attention which they repaid, Justice having insinuated, that, in spite of his by long letters of expostulation and advice, sanctified exterior, the young preacher was as which the worthy Grafs were probably neither bad as other folks in his practice, the Quaker very able nor very willing to read. forgot, for one moment, the systematic meek- In the midst of these labours and trials, he ness and composure of his sect, and burst out found time to marry a lady of great beauty into this triumphant appeal

and accomplishments; and settled himself in

a comfortable and orderly house in the coun. “I make ıhis bold challenge to all men, women, and children upon earth, justly 10 accuse me with of his zeal and activity in support of the cause

try—but, at the same time, remitted nothing having seen me drunk, heard me swear. utier a curse, or speak one obscene word, much less that i in which he had embarked. When the penal ever made it my practice. I speak this 10 God's statutes against Popish recusants were about glory, who has ever preserved me from the power to be passed, in 1678, by the tenor of which, of these pollutions, and who from a child begot an certain grievous punishments were inflicted harred in me towards them. Thy words shall be upon all who did not frequent the established Thy burihen, and I trample thy slander as diri un. der my leet!"-pp. 99, 100.

church, or purge themselves upon onth, from

Popery, William Penn was allowed to be heard The greater part of the audience confirmed before a Committee of the House of Commons, this statement; and the judicial calumniator in support of the Quakers' application for had nothing for it, but to sentence this unrea- some exemption from the unintended severity sonable Puritan to six months' imprisonment of these edicis;-and what has been preserved

of his speech, upon that occasion, certainly is, of the great province in question, was immenot the least respectable of his performances. diately struck with the opportunity it afforded, It required no ordinary magnanimity for any both for a beneficent arrangement of the inteone, in the very height of the frenzy of the rests of its inhabitants, and for providing a Popish plot, boldly to tell the House of Com- pleasant and desirable retreat for such of his mons, "that it was unlawful to inflict punish- own communion as might be willing to leave ment upon Catholics themselves, on account their native land in pursuit of religious liberty. of a conscientious dissent." This, however, The original charter had vested the proprietor, William Penn did, with the firmness of a true under certain limitations, with the power of philosopher; but, at the same time, with so legislation ; and one of the first works of Wilmuch of the meekness and humility of a liam Penn was to draw up a sort of constituQuaker, that he was heard without offence or tion for the land vested in Billynge—the carinterruption :--and having thus put in his pro- dinal foundation of which was, that no man test against the general principle of intoler- should be troubled, molested, or subjected to ance, he proceeded to plead his own cause, any disability, on account of his religion. He and that of his brethren, with admirable force then superintended the embarkation of two or and temper as follows:

three ship-loads of Quakers, who set off for "I was bred a Proestant, and that stricily too.

this land of promise ;-and continued, from I lost nothing by time or study. For years, read time to time, both to hear so much of their ing, travel, and observation, made the religion of prosperity, and to feel how much a larger promy education the religion of my judgment. My prietor might have it in his power to promote alieration hath brought none to that helief; and and extend it, that he at length conceived the though the posture I am in may seem odd or strange idea of acquiring to himself a much larger me better, I hope your charity will call it rather my district, and founding a settlement upon a still unhappiness than my crime. I do tell you again more liberal and comprehensive plan. The and here solemnly declare, in the presence of the means of doing this were providentially placed Almighty God, and before you all, i hat the profes- in his hands, by the circumstance of his father sion I now make, and the Society I now adhere to having a claim upon the dissolute and needy have been so far from altering that Protestant judg. ment I had, that I am not conscious to myself of government of the day, for no less than having receded from an iota of any one principle 16,0001., -in lieu of which W. Penn proposed maintained by those first Protestants and Reformers that the district, since called Pennsylvania, of Germany, and our own martyrs at home, against should be made over to him, with such ample the see of Rome: And therefore it is, we think it powers of administration, as made him little hard, that though we deny in common with you less than absolute sovereign of the country. those doctrines of Rome so zealously protested The right of legislation was left entirely to against, (from whence the name of Protestan's.) yet that we should be so unhappy as to suffer, and him, and such councils as he might appoint; ihat with extreme severity, by laws made only with no other limitation, than that his laws against the maintainers of those doctrines which we should be liable to be rescinded by the Privy do so deny. We choose no suffering; for God Council of England, within six months after knows what we have already suffered, and how they were reported to it. This memorable great poverty by it. We think ourselves an useful charter was signed on the 4th of March, 1681. people. We are sure we are a peaceable people; He originally intended, that the country should yet, if we must still suffer, let us not suffer as have been called New Wales; but the UnderPopish Recusants, but as Protestant Dissenters." Secretary of State, being a Welshman, thought,

pp. 220, 221.

it seems that this was using too much liberty About the same period we find him closely with the ancient principality, and objected to leagued with no less a person than Algernon it! He then suggested Sylvania; but the Sydney, and busily employed in canvassing king himself insisted upon adding Penn to it, for him in the burgh of Guildford. But the --and after some struggles of modesty, it was most important of his occupations at this time found necessary to submit to his gracious were those which connected him with that desires. region which was destined to be the scene He now proceeded to encourage settlers of of his greatest and most memorable exertions. all sorts,--but especially such sectaries as An accidental circumstance had a few years were impatient of the restraints and persecubefore engaged him in some inquiries with tions to which they were subjected in Eng; regard to the state of that district in North land; and published, certain conditions and America, since called New Jersey, and Penn- regulations,” the first fundamental of which," sylvania. * A great part of this territory had as he expresses it

, was, " That every person been granted by the Crown to the family of should enjoy the free profession of his faith, Lord Berkeley, who had recently sold a large and exercise of worship towards God, in such part of it to a Quaker of the name of Billynge; a way as he shall in his conscience believe is and this person having fallen into pecuniary most acceptable; and should be protected in embarrassments, prevailed upon William Penn this liberty by the authority of the civil magisto accept of a conveyance of this property, trate." With regard to the native inhabitants, and to undertake the management of it, as he positively enacted, that “whoever should trustee for his creditors. The conscientious hurt, wrong, or offend any Indian, should intrustee applied himself to the discharge of this cur the same penalty as if he had offended in duty with his habitual scrupulousness and ac- like manner against his fellow planter;" and tivity;—and having speedily made himself that the planters should not be their own acquainted with the condition and capabilities judges in case of any difference with the In

« PreviousContinue »