« ZurückWeiter »
that many of the nobility, and those in other respectable stations in life, should be so dissolute in their morals, and afford so grievous an example. He expressed his fear, too, lest his country, thus overwhelmed with corruption, should sink to ruin.
He seemed to be never less concerned and disordered than just before he died Looking at his son with the inost composed countenance, he said, “Son William! if you and your friends keep to your plain way of preaching, and keep to your plain way of living, you will make an end of the priests to the end of the world - Bury me by my mother-Live all in love -Shun all manner of evil ---and I pray God to bless you all; and he will bless you all.” -Soon afterwards he expired.
These were some of the last expressions of Vice-Admiral Sir William Penn. They are very important, on account of theinstruction they give us, as well as of the light they throw upon his character. With respect to life, indeed, they afford us an important lesson. They furnish a proof, that even where a man has been glutted with the honours of the world, it is so full of snares, and subject
to so many drawbacks, that it is not worth living over again. They lay open to us, again, the true path to be pursued in our passage through it. The Admiral at length found, though he had been twice so grievously displeased with his son, that nothing could make a man amends for wronging his own conscience. With respect to his character, they show him to have had a mind ingenuous and open to conviction; for we see that the religious prejudices which he had imbibed in his youth had been succeeded by candour. They show him to have been a well-disposed man; or that, however unwarrantable his conduct was to his son on certain occasions, it was to be set down rather to sudden warmth of feeling, or to a temper suddenly irritable by untoward circumstances, than to any badness of heart. And here it ought to be recollected, that he had been brought up as a naval officer, and accustomed to undisputed command, to a profession, where orders are no sooner issued than obedience is required, and slowness to execute is punished. Neither must it be forgotten, how grievous his disappointment must have been as a parent on these occa
sions. At the time alluded to he was in an exalted situation ; he had great interest at Court; and he had probably notions of life and manners very different from those which we have seen him entertain in his dying hour. He had figured out to himself large prospects for his son. He could not but have had hopes of him from his education and his genius. He had seen him endued with talents sufficient to enable him to filleven the higher offices of State. How heart-breakingthen must it have been, in such a situation, to see all his prospects at once broken; to see his son mixing with the lowly, the humbleminded, nay, the reputed dregs of the earth; to see him uniting with a society whose very dress and manners, compared with his own and those of the circles with which he mixed, must have been repulsive; and to see him leave the Established Church, the church of his family, and take up the opinions of those who were considered little better than fanatics.!
Williain Penn, in consequence of the death of his father, came into the possession of a very handsome estate, supposed to be worth at that time not less than fifteen hundred
pounds per annum; so that he became, in point of circumstances, not only an independent but a rich man.
One of his first employments, indeed immediate one, after his father's death, was to give to the world, for the benefit of posterity, an account of his late trial. He entitled it “ The People's ancient and just Liberties asserted, in the Trial of William Penn and William Mead, at the Sessions held at the Old Bailey in London, on the first, third, fourth, and fifth of September 1670, against the most arbitrary Procedure of that Court.” He detailed, first, the proceedings of the Court on those days. He gave, secondly, “An Appendix, by way of Defence for the Prisoners, or what might have been offered against the Indictment and illegal Proceedings of the Court thereon, had it not violently over-ruled and stopped them." He entered, thirdly, into “A Rehearsal of the material Articles of the Great Charter of England,” and “A Confirmation of the Charters and Liberties of England and of the Forest by Edward the First.” He then introduced “ The Curse and Sentence issued by the Bishops and Clergy against the Breakers
of these Articles,” the latter of which he explained both historically and argumentatively, so that they who read it might have a clearer knowledge of their own privileges and rights. He concluded, for their further information, hy a Postscript, containing “ A Copy of Judge Keeling's Case, as taken out of the Parliament Journal, dated the eleventh of December 1667.”
Not long after the publication of this trial a circumstance took place, which brought him before the public again. A Baptist preacher at High Wycomb in Buckinghamshire, of the name of Ives, had reflected in his own meeting. house in the pulpit, not only upon the Quakers in general, but upon William Penn in particular. This coming to the ears of the latter, he insisted upon it, and it was at length finally agreed, that a meeting should be held at West Wycomb between the parties concerned, where the obnoxious parts of the Quakers' doctrines should become matter of public dispute: he hip.self was to be the disputant in behalf of his own society, and Jeremy Ives on the part of the Baptists. Jeremy, however, was not the person, but the brother of the person,