Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

had commanded the fleet of the Lord Protector which wrested the rich Island of Jamaica from Spain and as one of the three commissioners of the Navy, laid the foun-. dation for that British fleet which has ever since played so large a part in the history of the world. He was the practical man of the commission, from whom James, Duke of York, afterwards, and very briefly King, took most of his advice. He reformed the higgledy-piggledy naval tactics of the time and taught the commanders to attack the enemy in line, the most important change in the sea annals of his country. Knighted in 1665 for service against the Dutch he failed of the peerage because of the public prejudice against his son, which deterred the King from giving him an honor as high as he deserved. As Clerk of the Acts, Pepys was much in contact with him socially and officially. The famous diary teems with references, many of them convivial, others most unkind. He was faithful to the commonwealth as long as it was faithful to itself. Perceiving that it could not hold together after the death of Cromwell he joined with George Monk in bringing about the restoration of the Stuarts.

Against this background of paternal distinction, the young reformer shone invidiously and brought his father great chagrin by his association with carpenters and weavers in their non-conformist agitations. He preached in poor halls and in the streets. The newspaper, not having arrived, he took to pamphleteering to spread his doctrines. This activity reached a crisis in 1669. Writing in his diary under date of February 12, 1669, Pepys says: Pelling hath got me W. Pen's book against the Trinity. I got my wife to read it to me; and I find it so well writ as, I think, it is too good for him ever to have writ it, and it is a serious sort of book not fit for everybody to read.'

The extended title of this work was “The Sandy Foundation Shaken —or those Doctrines of one God subsisting in three distinct and separate persons; the impossibility of God's pardoning persons by an imputative refuted from the authority of scripture testimonies and right reason,” etc.

It was a drastic review of the doctrine of the Trinity and as the title implies, undertook to prove that the majestic edifice of the State Church was not founded upon a rock. It created much excitement and

speedily landed its author in the Tower. Here he remained nine months, unrepentant and writing more pious sedition, to wit: “No Cross No Crown,” and “Innocency With Her Open Face." These were further polemics against Episcopacy.

The King having no heart for persecution, and the Duke of York, who was a firm friend, contrived to have the prisoner released on the 4th of August and turned over to his father to be transported to some spot where he would be less troublesome. This plan was not seriously carried out. Indeed the Admiral's days were numbered. He died after a year's illness, on the 16th of September, 1670.

Penn's prominence and influence increased with the death of his father. It was plain that no ordinary mind directed his actions. Respect followed. He took much part in public matters and as umpire in a dispute between Fenwick and Byllinge, two Quakers, over some land rights in New Jersey, he developed an interest in the New World and planned to found in it a place of refuge for those persecuted in Old and New England for opinion's sake. This desire was readily carried out. By fortunate chance the Crown owed Admiral Penn's estate some $80,000. To pay this debt and be rid of an agitator, the shrewd King made an easy adjustment in 1681 by handing over to the heir a vast province between the Delaware and the Ohio, in return for an annual tribute of two beaver skins, to be paid for ninety-nine years.

Here the idealist created his elysium and came as close to making one as the curious animal he sought to benefit would permit. The King set forth in writing the Grant that it was due “the memory and merits of Sir William Penn in divers services, and particularly his conduct, courage and discretion under our dearest brother, James, Duke of York, in that signal battle and victory fought and obtained against the Dutch fleet commanded by the Heer Van Opdam, in 1665."

Not to be outdone by his Royal brother, James threw in the Province of Delaware to which he held the fee, “out of a special regard to the memory and many faithful and eminent services heretofore performed by the said Sir William Penn to his Majesty and Royal Highness.” This under date of August 21st, 1682.

It was Penn's purpose to call his Paradise Sylvania, because of its wooded vales, but the King, with his obligation to the Admiral well in mind neatly prefixed “Penn” to the fanciful selection and it became justly and rightly “Pennsylvania" not in memory of William, but of his valiant father.

Charles II was an able politician and understood human nature. Often accused of ingratitude and seldom deserving the charge, with a willingness to perform a good action as readily as a bad one, he acted perhaps in languid memory of the mistake made by his heedless father when he stayed the departure of Cromwell for the New World, where he had resolved to go “and never see England more," — determining that there should be no repetition of history so far as he was concerned by repressing a zealot in narrow quarters near home.

Thus Charles for once at least, belied the couplet scrawled upon his chamber door by the ribald Earl of Rochester:

Here lies our sovereign lord the King

Whose word no man relies on;
He never says a foolish thing
Nor ever does a wise one.

« ZurückWeiter »