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, or appointment of priests, is therefore impious and unavailing. They are much attached to the Holy Ghost; but are supposed to reject the doctrine of the Trinity; as they certainly reject the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper, with all other rites, ordinances, and ceremonies, known or practised in any other Christian church. These tenets they justify by various citations from the New Testament, and the older fathers; as any one may see in the works of Barclay and Penn, with rather more satisfaction than in this of Mr. Clarkson. We enter not at present into these disputations.

We would not willingly insinuate any thing against the general sincerity of those who remain in communion with this body; but Mr. Clarkson has himself noticed, that when they become opulent, they are very apt to fall off from it; and indeed we do not recollect ever to have seen either a Quaker gentleman of fortune, or a Quaker day-labourer. The truth is, that ninety-nine out of a hundred of them are engaged in trade; and as they all deal and correspond with each other, it is easy to see what advantages they must have as traders, from belonging to so great a corporation. A few follow the medical profession; and a still smaller number that of conveyancing; but they rely, in both, almost exclusively on the support of their brethren of the society. It is rather remarkable, that Mr. Clarkson has not given us any sort of estimate or calculation of their present numbers in England; though, from the nature of their government, it must be known to most of their leading members. It is the general opinion, it seems, that they are gradually diminishing.

Upon the whole, we are inclined to believe the Quakers to be a tolerably honest, painstaking, and inoffensive set of Christians. Very stupid, dull, and obstinate, we presume, in conversation; and tolerably lumpish and fatiguing in domestic society: active and methodical in their business, and narrow-minded and ill-informed as to most other particulars: beneficent from habit and the discipline of the

(July, 1813.)

Memoirs of the Private and Public Life of William Penn. By THOMAS CLARKSON, M. A.

8vo. 2 vols. pp. 1020. London: 1813.

Ir is impossible to look into any of Mr. Clarkson's books, without feeling that he is an excellent man-and a very bad writer. Many of the defects of his composition, indeed, seem to be directly referrible to the amiableness of his disposition. An earnestness for truth and virtue, that does not allow him to waste any thought upon the ornaments by which they may be recommended-and a simplicity of character which is not aware that what is substantially respectable may be made dull or ridiculous by the manner in which it is presented-are virtues which we suspect not to have been very favourable to his reputation

whatsoever. Unfortunately for Mr. Clarkson, moral qualities alone will not make a good writer; nor are they even of the first importance on such an occasion: And accordingly, with all his philanthropy, piety, and inflexible honesty, he has not escaped the sin of tediousness, and that to a degree that must render him almost illegible to any but Quakers, Reviewers, and others, who make public profession of patience insurmountable. He has no taste, and no spark of vivacity—not the vestige of an ear for harmony-and a prolixity of which modern times have scarcely preserved any other example. He seems to have a suffi

entire toleration of honest tediousness, but a decided preference for it upon all occasions over mere elegance or ingenuity, he seems to have transferred a little too hastily to books those principles of judgment which are admirable when applied to men; and to have forgotten, that though dulness may be a very venial fault in a good man, it is such a fault in a book as to render its goodness of no avail

as an author. Feeling in himself not only anciently sound and clear judgment, but no great acuteness of understanding; and, though visibly tasking himself to judge charitably and speak candidly of all men, is evidently beset with such antipathy to all who persecute Quakers, or maltreat negroes, as to make him very unwilling to report any thing in their favour. On the other hand, he has great industry-scrupulous veracity-and that serious and sober enthusiasm for his subject, which

[ocr errors]

is sure in the long run to disarm ridicule, and win upon inattention-and is frequently able to render vulgarity impressive, and simplicity sublime. Moreover, and above all, he is perfectly free from affectation; so that, though we may be wearied, we are never disturbed or offended-and read on, in tranquillity, till we find it impossible to read any more.

It will be guessed, however, that it is not on account of its literary merits that we are induced to take notice of the work before us. WILLIAM PENN, to whose honour it is wholly devoted, was, beyond all doubt, a personage of no ordinary standard-and ought, before this time, to have met with a biographer capable of doing him justice. He is most known, and most deserving of being known, as the settler of Pennsylvania; but his private character also is interesting, and full of those peculiarities which distinguished the temper and manners of a great part of the English nation at the period in which he lived. His theological and polemical exploits are no less characteristic of the man and of the times;-though all that is really edifying in this part of his history might have been given in about onetwentieth part of the space which is allotted to it in the volumes of Mr. Clarkson.

William Penn was born in 1644, the only son of Admiral Sir W. Penn, the representative of an ancient and honourable family in Buckingham and Gloucestershire. He was regularly educated; and entered a Gentleman Commoner at Christ's Church, Oxford, where he distinguished himself very early for his proficiency both in classical learning and athletic exercises. When he was only about sixteen, however, he was roused 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 and offence 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 appeared 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 good box on the ear, and turn him to the door.

This course of discipline, however, not proving immediately effectual, he was sent upon his travels, along with some other yourg 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 send ing him to the Duke of Ormond's court at Dublin, and giving him the charge of his large possessions in that kingdom. These expedi ents might perhaps have been attended with success, had he not accidentally again 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 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 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-Admiralthat 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 days; 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 visible 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 pertinacious polemics which fill the greater part of his subsequent publica

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

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.

tions. 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,-known 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 noble 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 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 replacedingly, 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 that 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 appalled, 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 advisable to send out for his fugitive opponent, who, after some time, reappeared 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 Foundation 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

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, written out at large, 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 outrageously 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 had 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 marks, 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 Bale Dock, while in the very act of quoting the twenty-ninth chapter the Great Charter, "Nullus liber homo," &c. As he positively refused to acknowledge the legality of this infliction by paying the fine, he might have lain long enough in this dungeon; but his father, who was now reconciled 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 well 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 ensued, 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!"-pp. 99, 100.

The greater part of the audience confirmed this statement and the judicial calumniator had nothing for it, but to sentence this unreasonable Puritan to six months' imprisonment

in Newgate; where he amused himself, as usual, by writing and publishing four pamphlets in support of his opinions.

It is by no means our intention, however, to digest a chronicle either of his persecutions or his publications. In the earlier part of his career, he seems to have been in prison every six months; and, for a very considerable period of it, certainly favoured the world with at least six new pamphlets every year. In all these, as well as in his public appearances, there is a singular mixture of earnestness and sobriety-a devotedness to the cause in which he was engaged, that is almost sublime; and a temperance and patience towards his opponents, that is truly admirable: while in the whole of his private life, there is redundant testimony, even from the mouths of his enemies, that his conduct was pure and philan thropic in an extraordinary degree, and distinguished at the some time for singular prudence and judgment in all ordinary affairs. His virtues and his sufferings appear at last to have overcome his father's objections to his peculiar tenets, and a thorough and cordial reconciliation took place previous to their final separation. On his death-bed, indeed, the admiral is said to have approved warmly of every part of his son's conduct; and to have predicted, that "if he and his friends kept to their plain way of preaching and of living, they would speedily make an end of the priests, to the end of the world."-By his father's death he succeeded to a handsome estate, then yielding upwards of 15001. a year; but made no change either in his professions or way of life. He was at the press and in Newgate, after this event, exactly as before: and defied and reviled the luxury of the age, just as vehemently, when he was in a condition to partake of it, as in the days of his poverty. Within a short time after his succession, he made a pilgrimage to Holland and Germany in company with George Fox; where it is said that they converted many of all ranks, including young ladies of quality and old professors of divinity. They were ill used, however, by a surly Graf or two, who sent them out of their dominions under a corporal's guard; an attention which they repaid, by long letters of expostulation and advice, which the worthy Grafs were probably neither very able nor very willing to read.

In the midst of these labours and trials, he found time to marry a lady of great beauty and accomplishments; and settled himself in a comfortable and orderly house in the counof his zeal and activity in support of the cause try-but, the same time, remitted nothing in which he had embarked. When the penal statutes against Popish recusants were about to be passed, in 1678, by the tenor of which, certain grievous punishments were inflicted upon all who did not frequent the established church, or purge themselves upon oath, from Popery, William Penn was allowed to be heard before a Committee of the House of Commons, in support of the Quakers' application for some exemption from the unintended severity of these edicts;--and what has been preserved

of his speech, upon that occasion, certainly is not the least respectable of his performances. It required no ordinary magnanimity for any one, in the very height of the frenzy of the Popish plot, boldly to tell the House of Commons, "that it was unlawful to inflict punishment upon Catholics themselves, on account of a conscientious dissent." This, however, William Penn did, with the firmness of a true philosopher; but, at the same time, with so much of the meekness and humility of a Quaker, that he was heard without offence or interruption :-and having thus put in his protest against the general principle of intolerance, he proceeded to plead his own cause, and that of his brethren, with admirable force and temper as follows:

of the great province in question, was immediately struck with the opportunity it afforded, both for a beneficent arrangement of the interests of its inhabitants, and for providing a pleasant and desirable retreat for such of his own communion as might be willing to leave their native land in pursuit of religious liberty. The original charter had vested the proprietor, under certain limitations, with the power of legislation; and one of the first works of William Penn was to draw up a sort of constitution for the land vested in Billynge-the cardinal foundation of which was, that no man should be troubled, molested, or subjected to any disability, on account of his religion. He then superintended the embarkation of two or three ship-loads of Quakers, who set off for this land of promise; and continued, from time to time, both to hear so much of their prosperity, and to feel how much a larger proprietor might have it in his power to promote and extend it, that he at length conceived the idea of acquiring to himself a much larger district, and founding a settlement upon a still more liberal and comprehensive plan. The means of doing this were providentially placed

his hands, by the circumstance of his father having a claim upon the dissolute and needy government of the day, for no less than 16,000l.,-in lieu of which W. Penn proposed that the district, since called Pennsylvania, should be made over to him, with such ample powers of administration, as made him little less than absolute sovereign of the country. The right of legislation was left entirely to him, and such councils as he might appoint; with no other limitation, than that his laws should be liable to be rescinded by the Privy Council of England, within six months after they were reported to it. This memorable charter was signed on the 4th of March, 1681. He originally intended, that the country should have been called New Wales; but the UnderSecretary of State, being a Welshman, thought, it seems, that this was using too much liberty with the ancient principality, and objected to it! He then suggested Sylvania; but the king himself insisted upon adding Penn to it,

and after some struggles of modesty, it was found necessary to submit to his gracious desires.

"I was bred a Protestant, and that strictly too. I lost nothing by time or study. For years, read. ing, travel, and observation, made the religion of my education the religion of my judgment. My alteration hath brought none to that belief; and though the posture I am in may seem odd or strange to you, yet I am conscientious; and. till you know me better, I hope your charity will call it rather my unhappiness than my crime. I do tell you again, and here solemnly declare, in the presence of the Almighty God, and before you all, that the profes-in sion I now make, and the Society I now adhere to, have been so far from altering that Protestant judg ment I had, that I am not conscious to myself of having receded from an iota of any one principle maintained by those first Protestants and Reformers of Germany, and our own martyrs at home, against the see of Rome: And therefore it is, we think it hard, that though we deny in common with you those doctrines of Rome so zealously protested against, (from whence the name of Protestan's.) yet that we should be so unhappy as to suffer, and that with extreme severity, by laws made only against the maintainers of those doctrines which we do so deny. We choose no suffering; for God knows what we have already suffered, and how many sufficient and trading families are reduced to great poverty by it. We think ourselves an useful people. We are sure we are a peaceable people; yet, if we must still suffer, let us not suffer as Popish Recusants, but as Protestant Dissenters." pp. 220, 221. About the same period we find him closely leagued with no less a person than Algernon Sydney, and busily employed in canvassing for him in the burgh of Guildford. But the most important of his occupations at this time were those which connected him with that region which was destined to be the scene of his greatest and most memorable exertions. An accidental circumstance had a few years before engaged him in some inquiries with regard to the state of that district in North America, since called New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. A great part of this territory had been granted by the Crown to the family of Lord Berkeley, who had recently sold a large part of it to a Quaker of the name of Billynge; and this person having fallen into pecuniary embarrassments, prevailed upon William Penn to accept of a conveyance of this property, and to undertake the management of it, as trustee for his creditors. The conscientious trustee applied himself to the discharge of this duty with his habitual scrupulousness and activity; and having speedily made himself acquainted with the condition and capabilities

He now proceeded to encourage settlers of all sorts,-but especially such sectaries as were impatient of the restraints and persecutions to which they were subjected in England; and published, certain conditions and regulations, "the first fundamental of which,” as he expresses it, was, "That every person should enjoy the free profession of his faith, and exercise of worship towards God, in such a way as he shall in his conscience believe is most acceptable; and should be protected in this liberty by the authority of the civil magistrate." With regard to the native inhabitants, he positively enacted, that "whoever should hurt, wrong, or offend any Indian, should incur the same penalty as if he had offended in like manner against his fellow planter;" and that the planters should not be their own judges in case of any difference with the In

« 前へ次へ »