« ZurückWeiter »
of scriptural authority, and wished to hear from Vincent what he meant by it-in vain. Penn laid this point before the public in a pamphlet called “The Sandy Foundation Shaken ;' an attempt in author-craft which brought him into conflict with men as swift to strike as Vincent, and with greater power to hurt than the excited folks in Spital Yard.
'I found it so well writ,' says Pepys, in speaking of this pamphlet, 'as I think it too good for him ever to have writ it; and it is a serious sort of book, not fit for everybody to read.' Much wiser men than Pepys thought with him; for in some good people's view, to hold that God is One, is to deny that Christ is also God. While Vincent railed against The Sandy Foundation' as a book denying Christ, he also called upon the civil power to put it down by force. This cry exactly suited Arlington, then hot in quarrel with his colleague at the Navy Office, Sir William Penn. As he had not been able to hurt the father, he seized too eagerly on any chance of injuring him through his son.
Like nearly all the pamphlets of that time. “The Sandy Foundation Shaken’ was printed without a license from the Bishop of London; and the fact, however common, laid both printer and author open to proceedings by the crown. A recent act (14 Car. II. c. 33), had made it unlawful for any private person to print a book without a license; and Lord Arlington at once arrested John Derby, printer of The Sandy Foundation Shaken,' and committed him prisoner to the Gatehouse till he should disclose the author's name, submit himself to mercy, and confess his fault.
The full title of Penn's pamphlet was 'The Sandy Foundations shaken; or those so generally believed and applauded doctrines of One God subsisting in three distinct and separate persons,—the impossibility of God's pardoning sinners without a plenary satisfaction-and the justification of impure persons by an imputative righteousness-refuted from the authority of Scripture testimonies and right reason by W. P., j., a builder on that foundation which cannot be removed. W. P. j. was known to stand for William Penn, junior, son of the Navy Commissioner Sir William Penn; but Arlington refrained from troubling the young writer till that gentleman put on his Quaker hat, walked down to Piccadilly, asked to see his lordship, and declared himself to be the author of that tract. He meant, he said, no harm. In printing his ‘Sandy Foundation Shaken’ without a license he was only following where much older persons led. No writers of such pamphlets ever thought of troubling his grace of London, Bishop Henchman, for a formal leave to print their works. Of course a technical offence had been committed. If his Majesty was pleased to press the law against him, he would answer it as best he could. But Derby was an innocent partner in his fault, and therefore Penn desired to take his printer's place.
Lord Arlington was but too prompt to take him at his word. Not having power to commit under the Licensing Act, the proper course for Arlington was to have caused Penn to be carried before a justice of the peace. A magistrate could hear the charge, compare the evidence, and on confession send him to trial for a misdemeanour. Such a magistrate would have taken bail for his appearance at the sessions, and in case the bail was not sufficient might bave lodged him in the Fleet. But Arlington, in his haste to wound the Admiral, called his officers, arrested Penn, and sent him off —unheard, uncharged, and uncommitted-to the Tower.
IN THE TOWER (1668).
Young Penn was carried through the City to the Tower on Wednesday afternoon the sixteenth day of December, 1668; through streets piled up with snow and in a frost the like of which few Londoners had felt before that year. The Thames was full of ice. Old men were frozen in the public squares. The Pool was almost blocked with drift, and all the rigours of an Arctic winter raged and howled about the swampy precincts of the Tower.
Sir John Robinson, Lieutenant of the Tower, was much surprised and more alarmed to see this prisoner at the By-ward Gate. The officer who brought him in had no authority for his detention there, nor any statement of the charge against him. Robinson was asked to take him in, and hold him safe, without a lawful warrant; asked, in fact, to keep him prisoner at his personal risk. It was an unsafe game for Robinson to play. Such acts of power as Penn's arrest were not unfrequent, and Sir John, a bold and ready fellow, had been placed in the Lieutenant's Lodgings so that points of law and right should not be raised. But Robinson had been some years in office; he was growing rich and timid ; and when counting up his spoils, he trembled lest the fate of Blount and Helwys might become his own. He felt that he had kept the keys too long; he knew that villains bolder than himself were bidding for his post. A pack of hounds were hanging on his steps, and if they caught him at a slip would fasten on his
heel. The great men at St. James's would not heed his cries. No promise had been kept to Hel. wys; none was likely to be kept with him. He must protect himself. One step beyond the line, and he might find himself, like Blount, a prisoner in the dungeon he had ruled so harshly and so long.
The nicer points of law were not within his province. He was not aware of Penn's offence; and therefore, not aware that his offence was matter of statute-law; that the mode of proceeding was defined by a recent act; that every form prescribed in this recent act was being violated by the Secretary of State. But if Sir John was blind to his prisoner's case, he was quick enough to see his own. As a King's officer he was bound to answer in the courts of law for every exercise of an illegal power. A judge would only hear from him one plea in bar-a lawful warrant from the King in council to restrain his prisoner. If the Admiral should seek relief in the court of King's Bench, Sir John, being called upon to produce his son, would not be suffered to reply that he was acting on a verbal message from the Secretary of State.
The fierce old sailor at the Navy Gardens was a man to dread. Sir William was a favourite with the fleet, a comrade of the Duke of York. If war should come again, he might be one of the most powerful men in England : if the King should die, he might have greater power to make and mar than twenty such comedians in high place as Arlington. A man like Admiral Penn would never pardon those who helped to heap this shame upon him in the person of his son and heir; and if the furious sailor caught such persons in his grip he could be trusted—as Sir John supposed — to show
them no more mercy than he had showed to Don Juan de Urbina, when he seized that royal secre tary, stript him of his clothes, and flung him, naked and astonished, down into the hold. Sir John sent off a messenger to beg that Arlington would give him at once a legal order to receive his prisoner.
Arlington had no more right to sign such order than Sir John himself. All warrants of commitment to the Tower were signed by the King's Council; understood as being the King in council; and unless a prisoner were concerned in some offence against his Majesty's crown and life, it was unusual to commit him to the Tower. Again, the fault of Penn was misdemeanour, not high treason, and the 'mode of dealing with that form of misdemeanour was prescribed by law. On looking at his hasty work, the Secretary saw that he had gone too far, unless he could convert the charge confessed by Penn into some graver matter than the publication of a pious and unlicensed book. He therefore called his coach, and braving the frosty air, drove down in person to the Tower.
Neither Lord Arlington nor Sir John Robinson was yet aware how much officials had to gain from the Quaker doctrine of non-resistance. Other sects had learned to say by rote, “Whosoever shall smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the left also.' Many persons said, “Bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you.' But the young Quaker took these gracious rules to heart, and strove to wear down malice by his patient and forgiving mood. No gleam of the white passion that consumed the Admiral was likely to be seen in his converted son.
Arlington sent for Penn to the Lieutenant's house, and putting on a big black look, demanded