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ed to a sense of the corruptions of the established faith by the preaching of one Thomas Loe, a Quaker-and immediately discontinued his attendance at chapel ; and, with some other youths of his own way of thinking, began to hold prayer meetings in their private apartments. This, of course, gave great scandal to his academical superiors; and a large fine, with suitable admonitions, were imposed on the young nonconformist. Just at this critical period, an order was unluckily received from Court to resume the use of the surplice, which it seems had been discontinued almost ever since the period of the Reformation ; and the sight of this unfortunate vestment, operated,' as Mr Clarkson expresses it, “ so disagreeably on William Penn, • that he could not bear it; and, joining himself with some
other young gentlemen, he fell upon those students who ap
peared in surplices, and tore them every where over their • heads.' This, we conceive, was not quite correct, even as a Quaker proceeding; and was but an unpromising beginning for the future champion of religious liberty. Its natural consequence, however, was, that he and his associates were, without further ceremony, expelled from the University ; and when he went home to his father, and attempted to justify by argument the measures he had adopted, it was no less natural that the good Admiral should give him a box on the ear, and turn him out at the door.
This course of discipline, however, not proving immediately effectual, he was sent upon his travels, along with some other young gentlemen, and resided for two years in France, and the Low Countries; but without any change either in those serious views of religion, or those austere notions of morality, by which his youth had been so prematurely distinguished. On his return, his father again endeavoured to subdue him to a more worldly frame of mind; first, by setting him to study law at Lincoln's Inn; and afterwards, by sending him to the Duke of Ormond's court at Dublin, and giving him the charge of his large possessions in that kingdom. These expedients might perhaps have been attended with success, had he not accidentally fallen in at Cork with his old friend Thomas Loe the Quaker,--who set before him such a view of the dangers of his situation, that he seems from that day forward to have renounced all secular occupations, and betaken himself to devotion, as the main business of his future life.
The reign of Charles II., however, was not auspicious to dissenters; and in those evil days of persecution, he was speedily put in prison for attending several of the Quaker meetings; but was soon liberated, and again came back to his father's house, where a long disputation took place upon the subject of his new creed. It broke up with this moderate and very loyal proposition on the . part of the Vice-Admiral - that the young Quaker should consent to sit with his hat off, in presence of the King-the Duke of York--and the Admiral himself ! in return for which slight compliance, it was stipulated that he should be no longer molested for any of his opinions or practices. The heroic convert, however, would listen to no terms of composition; and, after taking some days to consider of it, reported, that his conscience could not comport with any species of hat worship--and was again turned out of doors for his pains.
He now took openly to preaching in the Quaker meetings, and shortly after began that course of theological and controversial publications, in which he persisted to his dying day; and which has had the effect of overwhelming his memory with two vast folio volumes of Puritanical pamphlets.
His most considerable work seems to have been that entitled, . No Cross, ' no Crown;' in which he not only explains and vindicates, at great length, the grounds of the peculiar doctrines and observances of the Society to which he belonged--but endeavours to show, by a very large and entertaining induction of instances from profane history, that the same general principles had been adopted and acted upon by the wise and good in every generation, and were suggested indeed to the reflecting mind by the inward voice of conscience, and the analogy of the whole visisible scheme of God's providence in the government of the world. The intermixture of worldly learning, and the larger and bolder scope of this performance, render it far more legible than the pious exhortations and pertinacions polemics which fill the greater part of his subsequent publications. In his love of controversy and of printing, indeed, this worthy sectary seems to have been the very PRIESTLEY of the 17th century. He not only responded in due form to every work in which the principles of his sect were directly or indirectly attacked,--but whenever he heard a sermon that he did not like, or learned that any of the Friends had been put in the stocks ;--whenever he was prevented from preaching,--or learned any edifying particulars of the death of a Quaker, or of a persecutor of Quakers, he was instantly at the press with a letter, or a narrative, or an admonition-and never desisted from the contest till he had reduced the adversary to silence. The members of the established Church, indeed, were rarely so unwary as to make any rejoinder; and most of his disputes accordingly were with rival sectaries, in whom the spirit of proselytism and jealous zeal is always stronger than in the members of a larger and stronger body. They were not always contented indeed with the regular and
general war of the press, but frequently challenged each other to personal combat, in the form of solemn and public disputa
William Penn had the honour of being repeatedly appointed the champion of the Quakers in these theological duels; and never failed, according to his partial biographer, completely to demolish his opponent ;--though it appears that he did not always meet with perfectly fair play on the occasion, and that the chivalrous law of arms was by no means correctly obsery. ed in these ghostly encounters. His first set to, was with one Vincent, the oracle of a neighbouring congregation of Presbyterians, and affords rather a ludicrous example of the futility and indecorum which are apt to characterize all such exhibitions. After the debate had gone on for some time, Vincent made a long discourse, in which he openly accused the Quakers of blasphemy; and as soon as he had done, he made off, and desired all his friends to follow him. Penn insisted upon being heard in defence; but the Presbyterian troops pulled him down by the skirts; and proceeding to blow out the candles, (for the battle had already jasted till midnight), left the indignant orator in utter darkness, He was not to be baffled or appailed, however, by a privation of this description ; and accordingly went on to argue and retort in the dark, with such force and effect, that it was thought adviseable to send out for his fugitive opponent, who, after some time, appeared with a candle in his hand, and begged that the debate might be adjourned to another day. But he could never be prevailed on, Mr Clarkson assures us, to renew the combat; and Penn, after going and defying him in his own meeting-house, had recourse, as usual, to the press; and put forth • The Sandy Foandation Shaken,' for which he had the pleasure of being committed to the Tower, on the instigation of the Bishop of London ; and solaced himself, during his confinement, by writing six other pamphlets.
Soon after his deliverance, he was again taken up, and brought to trial before the Lord Mayor and Recorder for preaching in a Quaker meeting. He afterwards published an account of this proceeding ;-and it is in our opinion one of the most curious and instructive pieces that ever came from his pen. The times to which it relates, are sufficiently known indeed to have been times of gross oppression and judicial abuse ;-but the brutality of the Court upon this occasion seems to us to exceed any thing that is recorded elsewhere ; and the firmness of the jury still deserves to be remembered, for example to happier days. The prisoner came into court, according to Quaker costume, with his hat on his head ;-but the doorkeeper, with a due zeal for the dignity of the place, pulled it off as he entered.--Upon this, how
ever, the Lord Mayor became quite furious, and ordered the unfortunate beaver to be instantly replaced—which was no sooner done than he fined the poor culprit for appearing covered in his presence !- William Penn now insisted upon knowing what law he was accused of having broken,--to which simple question the Recorder was reduced to answer, • that he was an impertinent • fellow,—and that many had studied thirty or forty years to un« derstand the law, which he was for having expounded in a . moment. The learned controversialist however was not to be silenced so easily ;-he quoted Lord Coke and Magna Charta on his antagonist in a moment; and chastised his insolence by one of the best and most characteristic repartees that we recollect ever to have met with. I tell you to be silent, cried the Recorder in a great passion, if we should suffer you to ask questions till to-morrow morning you would be never the wiser.'
_ That’ replied the Quaker, with his immoveable tranquillity, • That is, according as the answers are.'—"Take him away, take him away,' exclaimed the Mayor and the Recorder in a breath
turn bim into the Bale Dock ; '--and into the Bale Dock, a filthy and pestilent dungeon in the neighbourhood, he was accordingly turned-discoursing calmly all the way on Magna Charta and the rights of Englishmen ;-while the courtly Recorder delivered a very animated charge to the Jury, in the absence of the prisoner.
The Jury, however, after a short consultation, brought in a verdict, finding him merely .guilty of speaking in Grace-Church Street. For this cautious and most correct deliverance, they were loaded with reproaches by the Court, and sent out to amend their verdict,- but in half an hour they returned with the same ingenious finding, fairly written out and subscribed with all their names. The Court now became more furious than ever, and shut them up without meat, drink, or fire, till next morning, when they twice over came back with the same verdict ;-upon which they were reviled, and threatened so furiously by the Recorder, that William Penn protested against this plain intimidation of the persons, to whose free suffrages the law had entrusted his cause. The answer of the Recorder was, • Stop his mouth, jailor-bring fetters and stake him to the
ground.' William Penn replied with the temper of a Quaker, and the spirit of a martyr. • Do your pleasure - I matter not
your fetters.' And the recorder took occasion to observe, • that, till now, he never understood the policy of the Spaniards, . in suffering the Inquisition among them. But now he saw that • it would never be well with us, till we had something like the • Spanish Inquisition in England!' After this sage remark, the Jury were again sent back --and kept other twenty-four hours, ·
without food or refreshment. On the third day, the natural and glorious effect of this brutality on the spirits of Englishmen was at length produced. Instead of the special and unmeaning form of their first verdict, they now, all in one voice, declared the prisoner Not Guilty. The recorder again broke out into abuse and menace; and, after ' praying God to keep his life out of such hands,' proceeded, we really do not see on what pretext, to fine every man of them in forty merks, and to order them to prison till payment. William Penn then demanded his liberty; but was ordered into custody till he paid the fine imposed on him for wearing his hat; and was forthwith dragged away to his old lodging in the Baledock, while in the very act of quoting the 29th chapter of the Great Charter, “ Nullus liber homo,' &c. As he positively refused to acknowledge the legality of this inftiction by paying the fine, he might have lain long enough in this dungeon ; but his father, who was now re. conciled to him, sent the money privately, and he was at last set at liberty.
The spirit, however, which had dictated these proceedings was not likely to cease from troubling; and, within less than a year, the poor Quaker was again brought before the Magistrate on an accusation of illegal preaching; and was again about to be dismissed for want of evidence, when the worthy
Justice ingeniously bethought himself of tendering to the prisoner the oath of allegiance, which, as well as every other oath, he knew that his principles would oblige him to refuse. Instead of the oath, W. Penn accordingly offered to give his reasons for not swearing ; but the Magistrate refused to hear him : and an altercation ensucd, in the course of which the Justice having insinuated, that, in spite of his sanctified exterior, the young preacher was as bad as other folks in his practice, the Quaker forgot, for one moment, the systematic meekness and composure of his sect, and burst out into this triumphant appeal
“ I make this bold challenge to all men, women, and children upon earth, justly to accuse me with having seen me drunk, heard me swear, utter a curse, or speak one obscene word, much less that I ever made it my practice. I speak this to God's glory, who has ever preserved me from the power of these pollutions, and who from a child begot an hatred in me towards them. Thy words shall be thy burthen, and I trample thy slander as dirt under my feet.” p. 99, 100.
The greater part of the audience confirmed this statement; and the judicial caluminator had nothing for it, but to sentence this unreasonable Puritan to six months imprisonment in New