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Memoirs of the Public and Private Life of William Penn. By Thomas Clarkson, M. A. With a Preface, by W. E. Forster. London: C. Gilpin. 1849.

CLARKSON'S " Memoirs of William Penn" is a work now so familiar to all readers of biography, and the life of Penn is so much a matter of history, that but little could be found for the critic of to-day to notice in this volume, were it not for the copious Preface from the pen of Mr. Forster. This gentleman appears to refute, in a neat and masterly manner, the aspersions cast on the character of Penn by that most amusing, most pungent, most romantic of historians, Thomas Babington Macaulay. Novelists and essayists are, as a rule, bad historians. The admirable limner of Edward Waverley proved himself but a sorry historian of Napoleon Bonaparte. The reason is obvious. The brilliant fancy which could depict in glowing colors an imaginary hero, absolutely distorted the figure of a short, thick-set, hard-headed, self-willed, far-sighted, and energetic piece of mortality like the Emperor Napoleon; whose deeds, whether viewed with approbation or censure, are so many stern, dry, registered facts, engraved on adamant for the teaching of all posterity.


It is scarcely within our province to trace the circumstances of the early association of the Macaulays-father and son-with the Society of Friends; to enter into the details of a contested election for Edinburgh, in which the said "Friends" took an unusually active part; in which Thomas Babington Macaulay suffered an ignominious defeat, as it was said, mainly in consequence of the exertions of the said "Friends:" still less shall we attempt to trace any connection between this defeat and the curiously elaborate and most painfully caustic attack which Thomas Babington Macaulay now makes on the Society of Friends, through one of their members, whose memory has ever been cherished by that Society with the fondest marks of approbation and esteem. We shall deal only with the details before us, and that as briefly as the subject will permit.

Mr. Macaulay's attack on William Penn does not consist simply of a few heavy accusations and an accompanying censure. Penn's supposed infamy is introduced to the notice of the reader with a show of great reluctance;


mission to execute in Ireland; and on his return a perfect reconciliation with his father took place, to the joy of all concerned, but especially of his mother, who, throughout all the differences with his father, had remained William's firm and affectionate friend.

In the following year, William Penn was again arrested and committed to Newgate, for preaching, in contravention of the new Conventicle Act, then recently passed. The circumstances attending the trial of Penn and William Mead are matters of history; they were acquitted of the charge brought against them, but were remanded to Newgate for the non-payment of fines illegally imposed, to gether with the jury who had acquitted them. Admiral Penn privately paid the money, and liberated both his son and William Mead.

The admiral, considering that the treatment his son met with in the Tower was little short of oppression, now clave to him more than ever; and finding his own end approaching, he had his son constantly with him, this free intercourse strengthening and confirming the admiral's good opinion of his son's qualities and character. And, foreseeing the dangers and persecutions to which he would be subject on account of his religious tenets, the admiral on his death-bed earnestly commended William to the care of the Duke of York, requesting him to protect his son as far as he consistently could, and to ask the king to do the same, in case of future persecution. The answer was gratifying, both Charles and the Duke promising their services on fit occasions, which promise they appear to have performed as far as lay in their power.

Considerations of personal inconvenience seem never to have had any weight with Wm. Penn when the welfare of others was concerned, and especially when the great principle of liberty of conscience in matters of religion was at stake. To uphold this principle seems to have been the ruling object of his life; as was particularly shown soon after he had founded the colony of Pennsylvania, and was residing at Philadelphia, actively engaged in administering the affairs of the government of the province. Even there, the cry of the oppressed reached his ear from England. For whether it was thought that, in the absence of one who had ever been their undaunted advocate at the court of Charles II., dissenters might be persecuted with impunity, it is certain that, in the year 1684, the accounts received by Penn of the cruel measures enforced against all who dis

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sented from the Established Church, determined him to return to England, in the hope that his personal influence with the king might lead to at least a mitigation of the sufferings of his oppressed countrymen and friends. If other motives, connected with his own interest and character, contributed to the adoption of such a resolution, we have the concurrent testimony of all his biographers as to this being the chief inducement. Oldmixon expressly states that "Mr. Penn stayed in Pennsylvania two years, and would not then have removed to England, had not persecution raged against the dissenters so violently, that he could not think of enjoying peace in America, while his brethren in England were so cruelly dealt with in Europe. He knew he had an interest with the Court of England, and was willing to employ it for the safety, ease, and welfare of his friends." Providing, therefore, for the government of the colony during his absence, we are told that he quitted Philadelphia,—

gret of the Dutch, Swedes, and Germans, whom "To the regret of the whole colony; to the rehe had admitted into full citizenship with the rest, and who had found in him an impartial governor and a kind friend; to the regret of the Indians, who had been overcome by his love, care, and concern for them; and to the regret of his own Countrymen, who had partaken, more or less, of that generosity, which was one of the most prominent features in his character. And here, I may observe, with respect to his generosity, that the whole colony had experienced it; for, it ought never to be forgotten, that when the first Assembly offered him an impost on a variety of goods, both imported and exported (which impost, in a course of years would have become a large revenue of itself), he nobly refused it; thus showing that his object in coming among them was not that of his own aggrandizement, but for the promotion of a public good."-Clarkson, p. 155.

William Penn landed in England early in October; and from a letter, dated on the 29th of that month, addressed to the wife of his old friend, George Fox, we find that he had even then already been at court, where, he says, "he had seen the king and the Duke of York. They and their nobles had been very kind to him, and he hoped the Lord would make way for him in their hearts to serve his suffering people, as also his own interests as it related to his American concerns.'

The latter were soon brought to a final issue, by the king's decision between Penn and Lord Baltimore, respecting some land on the Chesapeake and Delaware, which had been the subject of disagreement; with re

gard to the first question, the king gave a sort of promise that he would do something in behalf of those whose cause was pleaded by Penn.

Shortly after this, died Charles II., and his brother James succeeded to the throne. It will be remembered that Admiral Penn, when on his death-bed, had commended his son William to the care and guardianship of James, when Duke of York; and, on the accession of the latter to the crown, a more

regular acquaintance grew up between him and William Penn, which soon ripened into intimacy. Entertaining the opinion that James was favorable to liberty of conscience, Penn conceived it to be his duty to cultivate this intimacy, in order that he might be in a position to further the interests of those who were suffering on account of their religious opinions; and that he might have the readier access to James, he took up his abode at Kensington, with his family.

"It appears," says Mr. Clarkson, "that, while he resided there, he spent his time, and used his influence with the king, solely in doing good. All politics he avoided, never touching upon them unless called upon; and then he never espoused a party, but did his best to recommend moderation and to allay heats. If he ever advised the king, it was for his own real interest and the good of the nation at large. Generally speaking, however, he confined himself to the object before mentioned; and, in endeavoring to promote this, he was alive to the situation, not only of those of his own religious society, but of those of other Christian denominations who were then languishing in the gaols of the kingdom."-p. 158.

This is the testimony of one who is not a member of the religious body to which William Penn belonged; and it is singularly confirmed by another historian, Gerard Croese, who had no more connection with the Quakers than Mr. Clarkson. The evidence of two such independent witnesses may, therefore, we should imagine, be looked upon as unimpeachable. Gerard Croese is quoted by Mr. Macaulay whenever it suits his purpose; we have therefore the less scruple in laying before our readers a passage from that writer, in reference to the intimacy subsisting between James II. and William Penn, and the use made by the latter of his influence with the monarch.

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"William Penn," he says, was greatly in favor with the king-the Quakers' sole patron at court-on whom the hateful eyes of his enemies were intent. The king loved him as a singular and entire friend, and imparted to him many of

his secrets and counsels. He often honored him with his company in private, discoursing with him of various affairs, and that, not for one, but many hours together, and delaying to hear the best of his peers, who, at the same time, were waiting for an audience. One of these, being envious, and impatient of delay, and taking it as an affront to see the other more regarded than himself, adventured to take the freedom to tell his majesty that when he met with Penn he thought little of his nobility. The king made no other reply, than that Penn always talked ingenuously, and he heard him willingly. Penn, being so highly favored, acquired thereby a number of friends. Those, also, who formerly knew him, when they had any favor to ask at court, came to, courted, and entreated Penn to promote their several requests. Penn refused none of his friends any reasonable office he could do for them, but was ready to serve them all, but more especially the Quakers, and these wherever their religion was concerned. It is usually thought, when you do me one favor readily, you thereby encourage me to expect a second. Thus they ran to Penn without intermission, as their only pillar and support, who always caressed and received them cheerfully, and effected their business by his influence and eloHence his house and gates were daily quence. thronged by a numerous train of clients and suppliants desiring him to present their addresses to his Majesty. There were sometimes there two hundred and more. When the carrying on of these affairs required money for writings, such as drawing things out into form, and copyings, and for fees, and other charges, which are usually made on such occasions, Penn so discreetly managed matters, that out of his own, which he had in abundance, he liberally discharged many emergent expenses."

This intimacy with the king, however, operated greatly to Penn's disadvantage. The people, considering James to be a Papist, were apprehensive that he would endeavor to overthrow the Protestant religion and establish Popery in its stead. And, knowing that Penn was so frequently at court, and so constantly engaged as the mediator between the monarch and the people, many suspected that the Quaker was a Papist in disguise; it was accordingly reported that he had been bred at St. Omer's, and received priest's orders at Rome. The term Jesuit was energetically revived, and he was generally believed to be engaged in plotting with the king for the subversion of the established religion. Even the amiable Tillotson, with

whom William Penn had been on terms of friendship, could not avoid being infected with the delusion; and to him William Penn, who, besides having a high personal regard for the Doctor, knew from the estimation in which he was held by the nation generally, that any opinion he might entertain would

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