IN this supplementary chapter I propose to review the charges made against William Penn by Whig historians, and adopted, with novelties and exaggerations of his own, by Mr. Macaulay in his recent history. The reader who has traced his career from Tower Hill to the graveyard at Jordan, may hardly care to read what follows; the simple record of his life being the most emphatic answer that can be given to party misrepresentation; but I believe there are some who will look for a more formal refutation of these charges at my hands, and for their satisfaction I enter into the several points of controversy which have been raised. Every one is conscious of the animus which pervades the last Whig history. To point out the capricious likes and dislikes of the historian would be tedious, and is unnecessary: at the same time I will not deny that his page is alive with pictures, and that the narrative possesses a unity and vehemence which render it one of the most useful additions to our store of historical reading since the appearance of the Scotch novels.
Mr. Macaulay has written several volumes of history and criticism. He must be aware that one of the fundamental laws of Critical Inquiry demands, that when a fact or a character has stood the tests of time, and in the progress of opinion has attained to something like a fixed position in the historical system, the evidence in support of any assault on it must be strong and free from taint in some fair proportion to the length of time and strength of opinion on which it rests. This rule is deeply based in human nature. The fixity of historical ideas is, in other words, the permanence of truth. Once a great historical verdict is passed, the noblest instincts of our being prompt us to guard it as something sacred,— to be set aside only after scrupulous inquiry and conclusive evidence against its justice. The wise man will not rashly disturb the repose of ages. Our faith in history is akin to religion: it is a confidence in our power to separate good from evil—truth from falsehood,—to preserve in their native purity the wisdom which serves to guide, and the memories which inspire the best actions of mankind. Mr. Macaulay will not deny the reasonableness of a rule growing out of such a feeling. He would himself exact the strongest facts and the severest logic from the man who should presume to dispute the laws of Kepler; and the fullest and most unquestionable evidence would be required in support of an assertion that Milton was a debauchee, or Buckingham a man of virtue.
I will apply this canon to his own method. That I may not incur the charge of improperly assuming that Penn's reputation was thus historically fixed, I will cite Mr. Macaulay's own reading of the verdict which more than a century and a half has ratified. "Rival nations," he says, "have agreed in canonizing him. England is proud of his name. A great commonwealth beyond the Atlantic regards him with a reverence similar to that which the Athenians felt for Theseus, and the Romans for Quinines. The respectable society of which he was a member honours him as an apostle. By pious men of other persuasions he is generally regarded as a bright pattern of Christian virtue. Meanwhile, admirers of a very different sort have sounded his praises. The French philosophers of the eighteenth century pardoned what they regarded as his superstitious fancies in consideration of his contempt for priests, and of his cosmopolitan benevolence, impartially extended to all races and all creeds. His name has thus become, throughout all civilized countries, a synonym for polity and philanthropy."
This general verdict Mr. Macaulay challenges. He admits that his attempt "requires some courage;" I think the reader will agree with him, when the evidence is adduced on which his challenge is supported. This evidence consists of five assertions: (I.) That his connection with the court in 1684, while he lived at Kensington, caused his own sect to look coldly on him and even treat him with obloquy. (II.) That he "extorted money" from the girls of Taunton for the maids of honour. (III.) That he allowed himself to be employed in the work of seducing Kiffin into a compliance with court designs. (IV.) That he endeavoured to gain William's assent to the promulgated edict suspending the penal laws. (V.) That he "did his best to seduce" the Magdalen collegians "from the path of right," and was "a broker in simony of a peculiarly discreditable kind."
These allegations I shall examine in the order in which they occur.
I. I quote Mr. Macaulay's own words. "He was soon surrounded by flatterers and suppliants. His house at Kensington was sometimes thronged at his hour of rising by more than two hundred suitors. He paid dear, however, for this seeming prosperity. Even his own sect looked coldly on him and requited his services with obloquy." His only authority for this statement is Gerard Croese, (Hist. Qua. lib. ii. 1695,) a Dutchman, who never was in England in his life, and whose work the Society of Friends has never recognised. Croese could have no trustworthy knowledge of the opinions of the Quakers, and no right to represent their opinions. The statement is not, however, merely unsupported; but it is positively contradicted by the Devonshire House Records. These prove that at this time Penn was in regular attendance at the monthly meetings, and was elected to the highest offices in the body.
II. That the reader may understand the Taunton affair, I must point out the features, with more exactness than Mr. Macaulay has done, which relate to his charge against Penn. When Monmouth arrived at Taunton, he found that the town had pledged itself to the rebellion, by the signal act of having had wrought, at the public expense, a set of royal standards for him and his army, by the daughters of the principal families. The ceremony of presenting these standards was one of the most important acts of the rebellion; at the head of her procession the schoolmistress carried the emblems of royal power—the Bible and the sword;* and the royal banner was presented to the duke as to their sovereign. Thereupon he assumed the name of King—set a price on his uncle's head—and proclaimed the Parliament then sitting a treasonable convention, to be pursued with war and destruction. This insanity cost Monmouth his head, and won a gibbet for hundreds of his followers. The case of the maidens was not different to that of many others. They had taken, with their parents' knowledge, a prominent part in the rebellion; and when the day of vengeance came, they stood before the law guilty of a crime for which the sentence was—death. The idea of sending them to the scaffold for faults which were their parents' more than their own, was of course not thought of; but that the parents might not escape punishment, the power to pardon them was given by the king to the maids of honour,—not likely, I must suppose, to be the most exacting of creditors,—as a sort of fee or bounty. It is to be remembered the sale of pardons was in that age a regular profession; from the king—at least in Charles's time—to the link-boy or the porter at his gates, almost every man and woman connected with the court regularly sold his or her influence. The young girls about the Queen, daughters, be it remembered, of the first families in the land, had no proper conception of the horrid wickedness of this brokerage; and they requested the Duke of Somerset to get the affair arranged for them on the best terms. Somerset wrote to Sir Francis Warre, the member for Bridgewater, asking him as a personal favour to see the parents, as being a neighbour and likely to be known to them, or to name some proper agent who might arrange the business. Warre had evidently no wish to be mixed up with an affair of this kind; and he replied that it was already in proper hands, those of one Bird, the town-clerk. For some unknown reason the maids of honour forbade this agent to proceed in their behalf, and Warre was again applied to, but he refused to name a broker on the spot, excusing himself on the pleas that the schoolmistress was a woman of mean birth, and the young ladies were acting at the time under her orders. Weeks elapsed, and no settlement was made by the parents; nor do we know—except by inference—what was done in the matter at court, until the following letter was written:—
"MR. PENNE:—Her Majties Maids of Honour having acquainted me that they designe to employ you and Mr. Waldon in making a composition with the Relations of the Maids of Taunton for the high Misdemeanour they have been guilty of, I do at their request hereby let you know that His* Majty has been pleased to give their Fines to the said Maids of Honour, and therefore recommend it to Mr. Walden and you to make the most advantageous composition you can in their behalfe. I am, Sir, your humble servant,
To whom was this letter addressed? Sir James Macintosh, the first man who brought the letter to light,—for Mr. Macaulay has not even the merit of originality in his errors,— assumed that it was addressed to William Penn; and in this singular assumption he has been followed by his friend and admirer. But Macintosh went still further: he not only assumed, without warrant, that a letter addressed to a "Mr. Penne" to engage him in a "scandalous transaction" was addressed to the Governor of Pennsylvania; but he also dared, in defiance of every rule of historical criticism, to assume that William Penn accepted the commission that was so offered. Mr. Macaulay, of course, copied this gross mistake from Sir James, and gave it the additional currency of his own volumes. This point is particularly noticeable,— that Mr. Macaulay did not consult the original authorities, but satisfied himself with merely quoting from the "Macintosh collection." Now this letter was certainly not addressed to William Penn. (1.) In the first place, it does not bear his name: he never wrote his name "Penne" nor did others ever so write it. In the Pennsylvania correspondence, in the Minutes of the Privy Council, and in the letters of Van Citters, Locke, Lawton, Bailey, Creech, and Hunt, and in the correspondence of his private friends, I have seen it written hundreds of times, but never once, even by accident, with an e final. Least of all men could Sunderland, his intimate acquaintance from boyhood, make such a mistake. (2.) The letter is highly disrespectful, if supposed to be written to a man of his rank—a man who had refused a peerage, and who stood before the court not only as a personal friend to the king, but as Lord Proprietor of the largest province in America; the more especially would this be the case when it is considered that the letter was written by the polite and diplomatic Earl of Sunderland. (3.) The work to be done required a low, trafficking agent, who could go down to Taunton and stay there until the business was concluded: it is obvious tliat this could not be done by William Penn. (4.) The letter is evidently a reply to an offer of service: the maids of honour "designe to employ" Mr. Panne and Mr. Walden, because, as it seems to me, they had applied for the office. Malice itself would shrink from the assumption that the governor of Pennsylvania would voluntarily solicit such an employment. (5.) It is contrary to every thing else that is known of Penn that he would allow himself, on any pretence, to be drawn into such a business. (6.) No mention of it occurs in any of his letters: I have read some hundreds of them, and, although he was the most communicative of correspondents, not a trace of his action, or of his having been applied to in the affair, is to be found. Knowing his epistolary habit, this fact alone would have satisfied my own mind. (7.) No mention has been made of his interference by any news-writer, pamphleteer, or historian,—though, had he been concerned, the host of maligners, who rose against him on the flight of James, could certainly not have failed to point their sarcasms with the "scandalous transaction" and "extortion of money." (8.) No tradition of his appearance on the scene is preserved in the neighbourhood; when, had he really been the agent employed, it is impossible that so conspicuous a broker could have faded so soon from local recollection.
But, if William Penn were not the "Mr. Penne" addressed by Lord Sunderland, and designed by the ladies to be employed in their behalf—who was the man? A little research enables me to answer this question. In the registers of the Privy Council I find this entry:—
"Nov. 25th, 1687.
"GEORGE PENNE—Upon reading the petition of George Penne, gent., setting forth that his family having been great sufferers for their loyalty, He humbly begs that His Majesty would be graciously pleased to grant him a patent for the sole exercising the royal Oake lottery, and licensing all other games, in his Majesty's plantations in America, for twenty-one years. His Majesty in Council is pleased to refer this matter to the consideration of the Rt. Hon. the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury, and, upon what their lordships report of what is fit to be done therein for the petitioner, His Majesty will declare his further pleasure."
This man, whose fitting reward, according to his own estimate of the value of his services, was the fief of a gaming-table, was the Mr. Penne. His name is always spelt with the final e. In the first draft of the foregoing minute, the clerk had spelt the name George Penn, both in the margin and in the text, but has filled the final letter in afterwards, as if prophetically guarding against any confusion of this wretched fellow with the great governor of Pennsylvania. He was a low hanger-on about the back-doors of the court, ready for any dirty work. When pardons were to be bought and sold, he was a pardon-broker. He was actively engaged in the Taunton affair; and among other feats, as I am able to state on the authority of a family-cash book still preserved, he obtained 65l. from Nathaniel Pinney as the ransom of his brother Azariah Pinney, one of the transported rebels. Mr. Walden was apparently an agent of the same kind, and equally and deservedly obscure. For some reason, however, the "designe to employ" these men miscarried, and the maids of honour found another agent in the person of Brent, the Popish lawyer, who was a regular pardon-broker, and was arrested on the flight of King James, as I find by the minutes of Privy Council. This fellow employed as great a rascal as himself, one Crane of Bridgewater, as his sub-agent, and between them they settled the business, as Oldmixon relates.
Having cleared Penn from this foul and unfounded charge, let me say a word or two in behalf of the maids of honour. Mr. Macaulay says they "were at last forced to be content with less than a third" of 7000l. How much less? Is there any evidence that they received a single guinea? Dr. Toulmin collected his information from the families of the girls of Taunton, at a time when the children of the little rebels might have been still alive, and he says merely that some of the parents paid as much as fifty or a hundred pounds. Some of them? Oldmixon tells us that the number of the scholars was twenty. How many of twenty could be called some? Take it at ten; if pardons were purchased for ten, five at 50l. and five at 100l., this would but yield 750l.. altogether. Besides which Oldmixon, who had peculiar means of learning the real facts, says the agent and his subordinate paid themselves bountifully out of the money. I know of no proof that the maids of honour got a shilling.
While on this digression, I may add a remark in behalf of another much-abused lady. The historian counts up with virtuous indignation the number of transported insurgents which the Queen, Maria d'Este, selected for her private portion of the spoil, and talks of "the thousand pounds" which she made by "her unprincely greediness and her unwomanly cruelty." Now we not only do not know how much, if any thing at all, the Queen put into her pocket, but we do not know for certain that she received for herself a single transport. We have no good reason to believe that she ever dreamt of such a thing. The only ground for this gross charge against the honour of a woman and a foreigner, is a letter of Sunderland to Lord Jeffreys—which Mr. Macaulay, as usual, has copied from the "Macintosh Collection,"—in which that statesman, after giving a list of grants of prisoners to various persons about the court, adds in a postscript—" The Queen has asked for a hundred more of the rebels who are to be transported; as soon as I know for whom, you shall hear from me again." It is clear enough from Sunderland's words that she did not ask them for herself. It is equally clear that Mr. Macaulay's estimate of "the profits she cleared on the cargo, after making large I allowance for those who died of hunger and fever during the passage,' is a mere invention. The misfortunes of this woman should have shielded her from injustice.
III. Towards the close of his reign, when the churchmen openly repudiated their own doctrine of passive obedience, James became anxious to secure the adhesion of his dissenting subjects; and among other leading men, he selected Penn's old opponent, William Kiffin, the Baptist, for a city magistracy. But two of Kiffin's grandsons had been taken and executed in the Western rebellion, and it was doubted whether the old man would comply with the wishes of the court. At this point Mr. Macaulay introduces Penn. "The heartless and venal sycophants of Whitehall, judging by themselves, thought that the old man would be easily propitiated by an alderman's gown, and by some compensation in money, for the property which his grandsons had forfeited. Penn was employed in the work of seduction, but to no purpose." Now, there is not the slightest foundation in history for this statement. Mr. Macaulay here asserts that Penn was "employed," by the "heartless and venal sycophants" of the court, to seduce Kiffin into an acceptance of the alderman's gown,—and that he failed. The passage means this, or it means nothing. It will be allowed that on such a point Kiffin himself must be the best authority: in his autobiography, lately published from the original manuscript, he says,—"In a little after, a great temptation attended me, which was a commission from the King, to be one of the aldermen of the city of London; which, as soon as I heard of it, I used all the diligence I could, to be excused, both by some lords near the King, and also by Sir Nicholas Butler and Mr. Penn. But it was all in vain." This is just the reverse of what Mr. Macaulay states. Penn did not go to Kiffin, Kiffin went to Penn. Instead of being employed in the work of seduction, he was engaged in the task of intercession. Mr. Macaulay makes Biffin refuse the magistracy: Biffin says he accepted it:—"The next court-day I came to the court, and took upon me the office of alderman."
IV. A little attention to dates will soon dispose of the fourth charge against Penn. Mr. Macaulay writes—"All men were anxious to know what he [the Prince of Orange] thought of the Declaration of Indulgence. . . . Penn sent copious disquisitions to the Hague, and even went thither in the hope that his eloquence, of which he had a high opinion, would prove irresistible." Now, Penn returned from Germany in the autumn of 1686, and the Declaration was not issued until April, 1687. After 1686, he never went to the Dutch capital. There is no evidence, even, that Penn sent over "copious disquisitions;" Burnet, Mr. Macaulay's authority, says not a word on such a subject. When Penn was at the Hague, in the summer of 1686, the subject that was under discussion related to the Tests, not the Indulgence. The Declaration was unthought of at that time;—Burnet is very clear on this point. But there is other proof that Mr. Macaulay's guesswork is wrong. In November, 1686, five months before the Declaration was issued, Van Citters reported to his correspondent the substance of the conversation between Penn and the Prince, as it was then known in court circles in London; and in that report no mention whatever is made of the Declaration.
V. In the ninth chapter of the preceding memoir, I have given the true history of Penn's connection with the affair of Magdalen College. In this place I shall content myself with a special refutation of Mr. Macaulay's errors; first quoting his material passages, and numbering them for separate remark. (1) "Penn was at Chester, on a pastoral tour. His popularity and authority among his brethren had greatly declined (2) since he had become a tool of the King and the Jesuits." . . . (3) "Perhaps the college might still be terrified, caressed, or bribed into submission. The agency of Penn was employed." . . . (4) "The courtly Quaker, therefore, did his best to seduce the college from the path of right." . . . (5) "To such a degree had his manners been corrupted by evil communications, and his understanding obscured by inordinate zeal for a single object, that he did not scruple to become a broker in simony of a peculiarly discreditable kind, and to use a bishopric as a bait to tempt a divine to perjury." These assertions may be looked at, one by one, as they stand here. (1) Had Penn become in 1687—the date of Mr. Macaulay's authority—unpopular and powerless with his brethren? There is, fortunately, better evidence than that of an agent of Louis Quatorze: the evidence of the "brethren" themselves. The Records at Devonshire House prove that his influence was high as ever in the society of Friends: he was elected to speak their sentiments; he served their most important offices; was in accord with Fox, Crisp, and the other leaders; and at the very moment when Mr. Macaulay introduces him with this disparaging comment, he was on a religious tour, one of the most popular and brilliant of his public ministry. To this may be added the testimony of Penn himself; in one of his letters he expressly says that it is at the joint request of the Society of Friends, and of persons in authority, that he is engaged in the business of the nation. (2) Was he ever "a tool of the King and of the Jesuits?" No man, I venture to believe, will entertain a doubt on this point, after reading the ninth chapter of these memoirs, and the authorities there cited. Family experiences had given him an early abhorrence of the persecuting spirit of the Roman Church. In his youth he had written against the errors of Popery, and in his riper age had pointed many a sentence with honest indignation at Jesuit morals.
Now that the Jesuits had acquired power at court, he continually hazarded his influence by urging, the King to banish them from the royal presence. Citters, Johnstone, and Clarendon, all testify clearly to this effect. The Dutch diplomatist says, "Penn has had a long interview with the King, and has, he thinks, shown to the King that Parliament will not consent to a revocation of the Test and Penal Laws—and that he never will get a Parliament to his mind, so long as he will not adopt moderate councils, and drive away from his presence the immoderate Jesuits, and other Papists who surround him daily, and whose ultra councils he now follows." Johnstone says expressly, that Penn was against the order commanding the Declaration to be read in the churches. Clarendon says in his Diary that Penn "laboured to thwart the Jesuitical influence that predominated." On what authority, then, docs Mr. Macaulay make his assertion? Simply on his own! Was he a tool of the King? The idea is absurd. He never sacrificed a point to the humour of James; but he often crossed that humour, and his political action was always against the court. Not to go so far back as the days of Sidney, when, according to Barillon, he divided the leadership of the most advanced body of Reformers with that great Republican,—if his private friendship was given to Sunderland, Halifax, and Rochester, his political sympathy was always with the more liberal men of the opposition. The supporters of Monmouth looked to him and half a dozen others to bring over the American colonies to the cause of liberty and Protestantism. Though he was trusted by James, he was always an object of suspicion to his government. He plainly told the King of his errors; he advised him to expel the Jesuits from Whitehall; not to trust to his prerogative, but to meet his Parliament with wise and just proposals; not to insist on having the Declaration read by the clergy; not to commit the seven Prelates to the Tower. And when that impolitic act had been committed, he advised him to take the gracious opportunity afforded by the birth of a Prince of Wales to set them at liberty, and still further to signalize the occasion by a general amnesty to the exiles in Holland. He counselled him to submit to the will of the nation, and to be content with a simple toleration of his religion. Can this man be called a "tool" of the King? Let Mr. Macaulay show another man in that age with equal boldness and integrity. He braved the royal frowns again and again in the cause of mercy. He obtained a pardon for Locke, another for Trenchard, another for Aaron Smith—all of them men who had deeply offended James. He compelled him to listen to the councils of the leading Whigs; and in the Oxford affair told him he was in the wrong in plainer language than the usages of speech would permit to ordinary men. This man a tool! (3) Was the agency of Penn employed to terrify, caress, or bribe the collegians into submission? There is not even a shadow of authority for this most uncharitable assertion. Penn was alarmed at the quarrel, fearing it might lead, through the combined obstinacy of the King and Fellows, to a loss of the College Charter, and a transfer of its immense revenues to the Papists—and he interposed his good offices to heal the wound. Instead of looking on him as a person "employed" to terrify, caress, or bribe them into submission, we have the evidence of Dr. Bailey, one of the inculpated Fellows, and that of Thomas Creech, a student, that the collegians regarded him as a friend and mediator "in their behalf." (4) Did he "do his best to seduce the college from the path of right?" Mr. Macaulay's knowledge of the proceeding appears to be derived from "Wilmot's Life of Hough"—though he does not quote it—and from the "State Trials." To these sources of information must be added the MS. letters of Dr. Sykes and Mr. Creech, preserved in the Bodleian Library at Oxford, and the MS. papers of George Hunt, now in the possession of the President of Magdalen College. Hunt was one of the Fellows, and was present at the interview with Penn; Sykes and Creech were both of them well informed as to all the incidents which occurred; yet so far is either he, or are they, from saying that he attempted to "seduce them from the path of right," that they agree exactly in the emphatic and conclusive statement that, after hearing their reasons, he agreed with them that they were justified in their resistance. He even went further; he became their champion. In their presence he wrote a manly English letter to his sovereign, in which he told him in very plain terms—"that their case was hard; that in their circumstances they could not yield without a breach of their oaths; and that such mandates were a force on conscience, and not agreeable to the King's other gracious indulgences." How singularly unfortunate is Mr. Macaulay in his authorities ! "Penn," he says, "exhorted the Fellows not to rely on the goodness of their cause, but to submit, or at least to temporize." I defy Mr. Macaulay to give any trustworthy authority for this machiavellian council. He wisely abstains from quoting his author; but the curious reader will find it in the twelfth volume of the "State Trials," in the shape of an anonymous letter which was addressed by some unknown person, during the heat of the dispute, to Dr. Bailey, one of the Fellows. Bailey, "from the charitable purpose" of the letter, thought it might have come from Penn; and to ascertain the fact, wrote a reply to Penn without signing his name, saying that if he were his anonymous correspondent, he would know how to address his answer. Of course no reply came. No man conversant with Penn's habit of writing could for an instant mistake it for his; it commences, "Sir,"—and the second person plural is used throughout. Nor is this all the evidence against its being written by Penn. The contemporary account of these proceedings has written, in Hunt's hand, on the margin of this letter, the words—"This letter Mr. Penn disowned." Yet it is on the assumption that Penn actually wrote this thrice-proven spurious epistle, that Mr. Macaulay has built his most serious accusation! What would be said of such evidence in a court of justice? Surely the memories of the illustrious dead are not less precious than the property of the living! Let me say, to the credit of Macintosh, that he makes no charge against Penn in this Oxford business. Here Mr. Macaulay is perfectly original. (5) Did Penn deal "in simony of a particularly disreputable kind, and use a bishopric as a bait to tempt a divine to perjury?" Mr. Macaulay continues to represent him as employed by the court; and having, as he says, failed in his attempt to terrify the collegians into obedience, he "then tried a gentler tone. He had an interview with Hough, and with some of the Fellows, and, after many professions of sympathy and friendship, began to hint at a compromise. . . . 'How should you like," said Penn, "to see Dr. Hough Bishop of Oxford ?'" Hereupon follows the indignation about simony and perjury.
Now, let us see what is really known about this interview. Dr. Hough, its chief subject, wrote on the evening of the day on which it took place a letter to his cousin, in which he recited the principal heads of the discourse,—and this account, from one too deeply interested to be impartial, and too much excited to remember any thing but what especially concerned his own prospects and position, is unfortunately the only existing authority. Hunt was not present at this interview, and no account of it is preserved in the Magdalen College MSS. Holden's MS. letters in the same library commence posterior to the affair of Penn; and Baron Jenner's MS. account of the Visitation is not to be found. But let us take the authority we have, imperfect though it be, and see what matter can be drawn from it in support of the accusation. What says Hough? In the outset, instead of Penn being "employed," as Mr. Macaulay continues to misrepresent him, to solicit the Fellows, it appears that the Fellows had sent a deputation to him, consisting of Hough and the principal members of the college. Their conversation lasted three hours; the substance of it I have given in the text of the ninth chapter of the memoir: Mr. Macaulay's version of it is inexact in all its essential particulars. "He then tried a gentler tone." The historian does not seem to know that two interviews took place, one at Oxford, the other at Windsor, with six weeks of an interval; there is no evidence, except the spurious letter, that he ever used other than a gentle tone. He "began to hint at a compromise:" the words of Hough are—"I thank God he did not so much as offer at any proposal by way of accommodation." How reconcile such statements? Now let us hear what Hough says of the simony and perjury. Penn, who, according to Swift, "spoke agreeably and with spirit," was always more or less facetious in conversation. Like his father, he was fond of a joke, and had that delight in drollery which belongs to the highest natures. In this very conversation we see how he made his rhetoric dance—"Christ Church is a noble structure, University is a pleasant place, and Magdalen College is a comely building." Hough, though not the most quick-witted of men, saw that he "had a mind to droll upon us." Stolid and heavy, Hough no doubt reported the conversation honestly, so far as he could remember and understand it. To quote his words—"Once he said, smiling , if the Bishop of Oxford die, Dr. Hough may be made Bishop. What think you of that, gentlemen?" Cradock, one of the Fellows present, took up the tone of pleasantry, and replied, "They should be heartily glad of it—for it would do very well with the presidency." Does any one doubt that this was a mere pleasantry? Observe, Penn had no commission to treat with the Fellows,—that he met them at their own request, to consider how he could serve their interests. That Cradock thought it a joke is evident from his retort. Had the suggestion of the bishopric been in earnest, it must have been offered on condition of Hough giving up the presidency of his college—that being the point at issue. In such a case, to talk of the combination of the two offices would have been insulting and absurd. Even Hough himself, the least jocular of men, understood this remark as a mere pleasantry, for he instantly adds, "But, I told him, seriously, I had no ambition." And yet this innocent mirth, accepted and understood as such by all the parties concerned, after a lapse of nearly two centuries, is revived and tortured into a ground for one of the foulest accusations ever brought against an historical reputation! Is this English History?
Having far exceeded the limits of my original intention, which was only to introduce William Penn to the rising generation, and thereby induce the spirit of inquiry to read the various able biographies written of him,—to which, and his autobiography, I now make every acknowledgement for the liberties I have taken with them in compiling this sketch,—I have to regret that, even after lengthening my short memoir to its present extent, I have so signally failed to portray him in his full and diversified character. I have met with nothing, in my opinion, that has done him justice, neither as a Christian nor lawgiver, highly as he has been extolled for both. I did not know, when I penned my sketch, that he had ever been likened unto Moses. When we consider the darkness of the age in which he lived, both in a religious and political point of view,—the circumstances that surrounded him,—and contrast him with his fellows, which is the only correct method to obtain a true picture, we find him determined at all hazards to do good, surmounting every obstacle that parental authority wielding an immense estate could do to intimidate him, together with the laws of his benighted country, which inflicted most direful punishments and persecutions upon him; then, added to all this, the natural propensities of the human heart, "which is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked:"—I say, contrast him with his fellows, and we find many of them pursuing a course diametrically opposite to his. Indeed, every thing that parents, government, and friends could do, were brought into requisition to guard their morals; yet, in defiance of all these restraints, the number who delighted to do evil and throw themselves away was very great. I would call the reader's attention to the dialogue held between Sir William Penn and his wife, after William's expulsion from home, as given by Weems, for a clearly-defined exposition of my views.
Good and great as he was, he was not shielded from the attacks of the ignorant and designing. I, therefore, take the liberty of calling attention to his biography by William Hepworth Dixon of England, written in 1851; and that also by Samuel M. Janney of Virginia, written since to exculpate him from various charges recently promulgated; they have succeeded, without an effort, to burnish him up, and caused him to shine forth even as the sun after a summer thunderstorm. Notwithstanding the facetious style of the Rev. M. L. Weems, I think his life of Penn should be introduced into every school in Pennsylvania, and in as many elsewhere as possible.
[Continued, Memoir of Penn, Appendix.]