Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

and even gale, in much peace arrived and anchored in his last and best port, at Wanstead in the county of Essex, the 16th of September, 1670, being then but forty-nine years and four months old. • To his name and memory his surviving Lady hath

erected this remembrance.' About this time a public dispute was held at West Wiccomb in Buckinghamshire, between him and one Jeremy Ives, a celebrated Baptist. The subject was, “The universality of the divine light," which Ives had undertaken to disprove, and came furnished with a stock of syllogisms ready framed for his purpose. It was his place, as opponent, to speak first; which as soon as he had done (being sensible that his arguments stood in their greatest force while unanswered) he stepped down from his seat, and, with an intention of breaking up the assembly, departed. Some of his own party followed him; but the generality of the people tarrying, W. Penn had an opportunity of answering, which he did to the great satisfaction of the auditory,

In the ninth month of this year being at Oxford, and observing the cruel usage and persecution his innocent friends underwent there from the hands of the junior scholars, too much by the connivance of their superiors, he wrote a letter to the vice-chancellor on that subject.

This winter having his residence at Penn in Buckinghamshire, he published a book intituled, “ A seasonable caveat against Popery," wherein he both exposes and confutes many erroneous doctrines of the church of Rome, and establishes the opposite truths by sound arguments: a work alone sufficient, on the one hand, to wipe off the calumny cast upon him of being a favourer of the Romish religion; and, on the other, to shew, that his principle being for an universal liberty of conscience, he would have had it extended even to the Papists themselves, under a security of their not persecuting others. The book itself being a better vindication of its author in these points than any thing we can here say, is recommended to our reader's serious perusal.

On the 5th of the 12th month this year, being at a meeting in Wheeler-street, a serjeant with soldiers came and planted themselves at the door, where they waited till he stood up and preached, and then the serjeant pulled him down, and led him into the street, where a constable and his assistants standing ready to join them, they carried him away to the Tower, by order from the lieutenant, then at White-Hall, to inform him of the success. After about three hours time, it being evening, he came home, and W.

VOL. I.

B

Penn was sent for from the guard, by an officer with a file of musqueteers. There were several in .company with Sir John Robinson, the lieutenant of the Tower; namely, Şir Samuel Starling, Sir John Shelden, Lieutenant-colonel Rycraft, and others. Orders being given that no. person should be admitted up unconcerned in the business, they proceeded to his examination, of which we find the following account given by an eye and ear witness : viz.

Sir John Robinson. What is this person's name?
[Note. The mittimus was already made, and his name put in.]
Const. Mr. Penn, Sir.
J. R. Is your name Penn?
W. P. Dost thou not know me? Hast thou forgot me?

J. R. I do not know you. I do not desire to know such as you are.

W.F. If not, why didst thou send for me hither ?
J. R. Is that your name, Sir?

W. P. Yes, yes, my name is Penn; thou knowest it is; I am not ashamed of my name.

J. R. Constable, where did you find him?

Const. At Wheeler-street, at a meeting, speaking to the people.

J.R. You mean he was speaking to an unlawful assembly?

Const. I do not know indeed, Sir; he was there, and he was speaking. .J. R. Give them their oaths.

W. P. Hold, do not swear the men; there is no need of it: I freely acknowledge I was at Wheeler-street, and that I spake to an assembly of people there.

J. R. and several others. He confesses it.

W. P. I do so; I am not ashamed of my testimony. : JR. No matter; give them their oaths.

[Note. They were sworn to answer such questions as should be asked, upon which they gave the evidence before given by the constable.]

J. R. Mr. Penn, you know the law better than I can tell you; and you know these things are contrary to the law.

W. P. If thou believest me to be better known in the law than thyself, hear me ; for I know no law I have transgressed. All laws are to be considered strictly and literally, or more explanatorily and lenitively. In the first sense, the execution of many laws may be extrema injuria, the greatest wrong: in the latter, wisdom and moderation :

would have thee make that part thy choice.

Now whereas I am probably to be tried by the late act against conventicles, I conceive it doth not reach me

J. R. No, Sir, I shall not proceed upon that law.

W. P. What law then? I am sure that was intended for the standard on these occasions.

J. R. The Oxford-act of six months.

W. P. That, of all laws, cannot concern me ; for first I was never in orders, neither episcopally nor classically, and one of them is intended by the preamble of the act.

J. R. No, no; any that speak in unlawful assemblies, and you spoke in an unlawful assembly.

W. P. Two things are to be considered. First, that the words, “Such as speak in any unlawful assemblies," alter the case much; for such is relative of the preamble, and cannot concern persons in any other qualification, than under some ordination or mark of priesthood. I am persuaded thou knowest I am no such person ; I was never.ordained, nor have ) any particular charge or stipend, that may intitle, me to such a function; and therefore I am wholly unconcerned in the word “such."

Secondly, An unlawful assembly is too general a word; the act doth not define to us what is meant by an unlawful assembly.

J. R. But other acts do.

W. P. That is not to the purpose; for that may be an unlawful assembly in one act, that may, by circumstances, not be so adjudged in another; and it is hard that you will : not stick to some one act or law, but, to accomplish your ends, borrow a piece out of one act, to supply the defects of another, and of a different nature from it.

J. R. Will you swear? Will you take the oath that the act requires of you?

W. P. This is not to the purpose.
J. R. Read him the oath.

THE OATH. 1, W. P. do swear, that it is not lawful, upon any pretence whatsoever, to take arms against the king, and that I do abhor that traiterous position of taking arms, by his authority, against his person, or against those that are commissioned by him, in pursuance of such commissions, and that I will not at any time endeavour any alteration of government, either in church or state.'

J. R. Will you take it, or no?

W. P. What need I take an oath not to do that, it is my faith not to do, so far as concerns the king. Lieut. Price. Then swear it

... W. P. The oath in that respect is already answered to: all intents and purposes; for if I cannot fight against any .. man, (much less against the king) what need I take an oath not to do it? should I swear not to do what is already against my conscience to do?

J. R. You will not take the oath then.

W. P. What if I refuse the oath, not because of the matter contained in it (which only can criminate in the sense of the act) but of scrupling any oath? Shall I therefore be committed to prison? This is most unequal. It was about Fighting the oath and aet were designed, and not taking of oaths : therefore the denying to swear, when there is a denial to fight or plot, is no equitable ground for commitment.

J. R. Do you refuse to swear?,

W. P. Yes, and that upon better grounds than those for which thou wouldst have me swear, if thou wilt please to hear me,

J. R. I am sorry you should put me upon this severity; it is po pleasant work to me.

W. P. These are but words; it is manifest that this is a prepense malice : thou hast several times laid the meetings for me, and this day particularly.

J. R. No, I profess I could not tell you would be there.

W. P. Thine own corporal told me, that you had intelligence at the Tower that I would be at Wheeler Street to-' day, almost as soon as I knew it myself: it is disingenuous and partial; I never gave thee occasion for such unkindness.

J. R. I knew no such thing; but if I had, I confess I should have sent for you.

W. P. That might have been spared, I do heartily believe it.

J. R. I vow, Mr. Penn, i am sorry for you : you are an ingenious gentleman, all the world must allow you, and do allow you that; and you have a plentiful estate : why should you render yourself unhappy, by associating with such a simple people?

W. P. I'confess I have made it my choice to relinquish the company of those that are ingeniously wicked, to converse with those that are more honestly simple.

J. R. I wish you wiser.
-W. P. And I wish thee better.
J. R. You have been as had as other folks.

W. P. When, and where? I charge thee to tell the company to my face.

J. R. Abroad, and at home too.

Sir John Shelden, [as is supposed.] No, no, Sir John, that is too much : sor words to that purpose.]

W. P. I make this bold challenge to all men, women, and children upon earth, justly to accuse me with ever 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, that has ever

preserved me from the power of those pollutions, and that from a child begot an hatred in me towards them. But there is nothing more common, than when men are of a more severe life than ordinary, for loose persons to comfort themselves with the conceit, That they were once 'as they are;' as if there were no collateral, or oblique line of the compass, or globe, men may be said to come from to the ARCTIC pole, but directly and immediately from the ANTARCTIC." Thy words shall be thy burden, and I trample thy slander as dirt under my feet.

J. R. Well, Mr. Penn, I have no ill will towards you ; your father was my friend, and I have a great deal of kindness for you.

W. P. But thou hast an ill way of expressing it. You are grown too high to consider the plea of those you call your forefathers, for liberty of conscience against the Papists, Cranmer, Latimer, Ridley, Bradford, &c. It was then plea good enough'; “My conscience won't let me go to mass,” and “My conscience wills that I should have an English Testament.

But that single plea for separation, then reasonable, is now by you, that pretend to succeed them, adjudged unreason. able and factious.

I say, since the only just cause of the first revolt from Rome, was a dissatisfaction in point of conscience, you cannot reasonably persecute others who have right to the same plea, and allow that to be warrantable.

J. Ř. But you do nothing but stir up the people to sedition, and there was one of your friends that told me, you preached sedition, and meddled with the government.

W. P. We have the unhappiness to be misrepresented, and I am not the least concerned therein: bring me the man that will dare to justify this accusation to my face ; and if I am not able to make it appear that it is both my practice, and all my friends, to instil principles of peace and moderation, (and only to war against spiritual wickedness, that all men may be brought to fear God and work righteousness) I shall contentedly undergo the severest punishment all your laws can expose me to.

And as for the king, I make this offer, That if any living can make appear, direetly or indirectly, from the time i have been called a Quaker, (since from thence you date me seditious) I have contrived or acted any thing injurious to his person, or the English government, I shall submit my person to your utmost cruelties, and esteem them all but a due recompence. It is hard, that I being innocent,

« FöregåendeFortsätt »