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William Penn was a great accession to the sect whose views he had adopted. Both by the publication of pamphlets, and by public debates, he endeavoured to make an impression in favour of the Quakers. One of his publications, a pamphlet, called "The Sandy Foundation Shaken,” gave so much offence to some of the established clergy, and especially to the bishop of London, that Penn was apprehended, and sent as a prisoner to the Tower. During his imprisonment here, which lasted seven months, he wrote his “ No Cross, no Crown,” one of the most popular of all his works; the leading idea of it being, “ that unless men are willing to lead a life of self-denial, and to undergo privations and hardships in the course of their Christian warfare; that is, unless they are willing to bear the cross, they cannot become capable of wearing the crown-the crown, namely, of eternal glory.” At length Penn was discharged by an order from the king, who was probably moved to this act of leniency by his brother, the Duke of York, Admiral Penn's friend.
The admiral by this time was disposed to be reconciled to his son, whose constancy to his opinions he could not help admiring, notwithstanding that he had no predilection for the opinions themselves. Partly to keep him out of harm's way, he sent him a second time on a mission of business to Ireland. While dutifully fulfilling the business on which he had been sent, Penn employed a great part of his time in Ireland in preaching and writing tracts in favour of Quakerism. He likewise visited many poor persons of his sect who were suffering imprisonment for their fidelity to their convictions; and, by means of his representations and his influence, he was able to procure from the lordlieutenant the discharge of several of them. On his return to England he was kindly received by his father, and took up
his abode once more in the paternal mansion.
The spirit of intolerance had, in the meantime, become more rampant in the government; and in 1670, parliament passed the famous act against conventicles, by which it was attempted to crush nonconformity in England. The Quakers of course were visited with the full severity of the act; and William Penn was one of the first of its victims. Proceeding one day to the place of meeting, which he attended in Gracechurch Street, he found the door guarded by a party of soldiers, who prevented him from entering. Others of the congregation coming up, gathered round the door, forming, with the chance loiterers, who were attracted by curiosity, a considerable crowd. Penn began to address them; but had hardly begun his discourse, when he and another Quaker named William Mead, who was standing near him, were seized by the constables, who were already provided with warrants for the purpose, signed by the lord mayor, and conveyed to Newgate, whence they were brought to trial at the Old Bailey sessions on the 3d of September 1670. As this trial was really very important, we shall detail the proceedings
at some length. The justices present on the bench on this occasion were Sir Samuel Starling, lord mayor of London; John Howel, recorder ; five aldermen; and three sheriffs. The jury consisted, as usual, of twelve persons, whose names deserve to be held in honour for the noble manner in which they performed their duty. When the prisoners Penn and Mead entered the court, they had their hats on, according to the custom of their sect. One of the officers of the court instantly pulled them off. On this the lord mayor became furious, and ordered the man to replace the hats on the heads of the prisoners; which was no sooner done, than the recorder fined them forty marks each for contempt of court in wearing their hats in presence of the bench. The trial then proceeded. Witnesses were called to prove that, on the 15th of August last, the prisoners had addressed a meeting of between three and four hundred persons in Gracechurch Street. Penn admitted that he and his friend were present on the occasion referred to, but contended that they had met to worship God according to their own conscience, and that they had a right to do so. One of the sheriffs here observed that they were there not for worshipping God, but for breaking the law. "What law ?” asked Penn. “ The common law,” replied the recorder. Penn insisted on knowing what law that was; but was checked by the bench, who called him “
fellow." The question is,” said the recorder at length, " whether you are guilty of this indictment." “ The question,” replied Penn, " is not whether I am guilty of this indictment, but whether this indictment be legal. It is too general and imperfect an answer to say it is the common law, unless we know where and what it is; for where there is no law, there is no transgression; and that law which is not in being, is so far from being common, that it is no law at all.” Upon which the recorder retorted, “ You are an impertinent fellow, sir. Will you teach the court what law is? "It is lex non scripta; that which many have studied thirty or forty years to know, and would you have me tell you in a moment?' Penn immediately answered, “Certainly, if the common law be so hard to be understood, it is far from being very common; but if Lord Coke in his Institutes be of any consideration, he tells us that common law is common right, and that common right is the great charter privileges contirmed.”.
Sir," interrupted the recorder, “ you are a troublesome fellow; and it is not to the honour of the court to suffer you to go on.
66 I have asked but one question,” said Penn,“ and you have not answered me, though the rights and privileges of every Englishman are concerned in it." “ If,” said the recorder, “I should suffer you to ask questions till to-morrow morning, you would be never the wiser.” “ That,” replied the imperturbable Penn,“ is according as the answers are." After some further conversation, or rather altercation, the mayor and recorder became enraged.
« Take him away, take him away,” they cried to the officers of the court; " turn him into the bale-dock.” This order was obeyed, Penn protesting, as he was removed, that it was contrary to all law for the judge to deliver the charge to the jury in the absence of the prisoners. But now a second contest commenced—a contest between the bench and the jury. The latter, after being sent out of court to agree upon their verdict, unanimously returned the following one—“Guilty of speaking in Gracechurch Street.” The bench refused to receive this verdict; and after reproaching the jury, sent them back for half an hour to reconsider it. At the end of the half hour the court again met; and the prisoners having been brought in, the jury delivered precisely the same verdict as before, only this time they gave it in writing, with all their names attached. The court upon this became furious; and the recorder, addressing the jury, said, “ Gentlemen, you shall not be dismissed till we have such a verdict as the court will accept; and
you shall be locked up without meat, drink, fire, and tobacco. You shall not think thus to abuse the court; we will have a verdict by the help of God, or you shall starve for it!” On this Penn stood up and said, “My jury, who are my judges, ought not to be thus menaced; their verdict should be free, and not compelled; the bench ought to wait upon them, and not to forestall them. I do desire that justice may be done me, and that the arbitrary resolves of the bench may not be made the measure of my jury's verdict.” The court then adjourned, the jury, including one who complained of ill health, being locked up without food, fire, or drink. Next morning, on being brought in, they still returned the same verdict. They were violently reproached and threatened; and the recorder even forgot himself so far as to say that "he had never till now understood the policy and prudence of the Spaniards in suffering the Inquisition among them; and that certainly it would never be well in England till something like the Spanish Inquisition were established there.” The jury were again locked up without food, drink, tobacco, or fire, for twenty-four hours. On the third day, the natural and glorious effect of this brutality on the minds of Englishmen was produced. In place of the indirect acquittal contained in their former verdict, they now, with one voice, pronounced the prisoners “ Not guilty!” Upon some paltry legal pretence they were all fined for their contumacy, and sent to prison till the fine should be paid. Penn himself was shut up till he should pay the mulct for contempt of court. This he would not do; but his father, it is thought, laid down the money for him, and he was liberated.
Penn's father dying immediately after his liberation, left him a clear estate of £1500 a-year-a considerable property in those days. The old man had by this time been brought to regard his son's conduct in a more favourable light than he had done at
16 suffer first; and one of his dying advices to him was, to nothing in this world to tempt him to wrong his conscience."
For twelve months after his father's death Penny proceeded as before, preaching habitually at meetings of persons of his own persuasion, writing tracts and treatises in defence of Quakerism, and on other theological and political topics, tamong which was an account of the recent trial of himself and Mead, and engaging also in oral controversy with several dissenting preachers who had inveighed against the Quakers from their pulpitsluq Hig activity soon brought him into fresh trouble. Towards the end of the year 1671, he was again apprehended on the charge of preaching to an illegal assembly, and brought before Sir John Robinson, lieutenant of the Tower, who was one of this judges on the former trial. Sir Samuel Starling was also present. Unable to convict the prisoner on the conventicle act, Sir John, who was resolved not to let him escape, adopted another plan, and I vet quired him to take the oath of allegiance to the king, well knowi ing that, as it was contrary to the principles of the Quakers to take an oath at all, he would refuse, and thereby subject himself to imprisonment. “I vow, Mr Penn," said Sir John Robinson, on his refusal, “I am sorry for you. You are an ingenious gentleman all the world must allow you, and do allow you that; and you have a plentiful estate;'why should you render yourself unhappy by associating with such a simple people?”. “ I confess," said Penn in reply, “I have made it my choice to relinquish the como pany of those that are ingeniously wicked, to converse with those that are more honestly simple.” “I wish you wiser!” said Sir John. “And I wish thee better!" replied Penn. “You have been as bad as other folks,” observed the judge. “When and where?ui cried. Penn, his blood rising at this accusation of hypocrisy.L charge thee to tell the company to my face.” « Abroad' and at home too,” said Sir John.' Penn, indignant at this ungened rous taunt, exclaimed, “I make this bold challenge to all meni, women, and children upon earth, justly to accuse me with having seen me drunk, heard me swear, or speak one obscene word, much less that I ever made it a practice. I speak this to God's glory, who has ever preserved me from the power of these pollus tions.” - Then turning to his calumniator, and forgetting for ia moment his wonted meekness, “ Thy words," said he, "shall be thy burden, and I trample thy slander as dirt under my feet!” (15
The result of the trial was, that Penn was committed to Newgate for six months. In prison he composed and published several new works, all connected with the subject of religious toleration, especially as it concerned his own sect. On his release, he made a tour through Holland and Germany, apparently for the purpose of disseminating the doctrines of Quakerism; but few particulars are known respecting this tour. On his return to England in 1672, being now in the twenty-eighth year of his age, he contracted at marriage with Gulielma Maria, daughter of Sir William Sprinar gett, of Darling, in Sussex, and a lady of great beauty and accome!! plishments. After their marriage, they took up their residence
at Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, where his wealth would have enabled Penn, had he so chosen, to lead the life of an influential country gentleman. Nothing, however, could cool the enthusiasm of Penn in behalf of what he esteemed a great and glorious cause; and for three or four years after his marriage, he was incessantly occupied in the composition of controversial pamphlets, defending the Quakers against the attacks and misrepresentations of other sects, and in travelling from place to place for the purpose either of preaching, or of conducting a debate with an antagonist. Early in 1677, he removed his residence from Rickmansworth, in Herts, to Worminghurst, in Sussex. In the same year, in company with the celebrated George Fox and Robert Barclay, he made a second religious tour through Holland and Germany, visiting, among others, the Princess Elizabeth of the Rhine, daughter of the king of Bohemia, and grandaughter of James I. of England, who had shown considerable interest in the doctrines of the Quakers, and who received him very graciously. On his return to England, we find him engaged in a remonstrance to parliament in behalf of the Quakers, which deserves some notice. At that time, as the readers of history well know, a strong feeling prevailed throughout the nation against the Roman Catholics, who were suspected of innumerable plots and conspiracies against the church and state, which, for the most part, had no existence except in the fancies of the most bigoted portion of the Protestants. The feeling against the Catholics became so high, that all the existing laws against them were rigorously put in force, and much persecution was the consequence-twenty pounds a-month being the penalty of absence from the established worship of the country. In order, however, to distinguish between the Roman Catholics and other dissenters, so that the former alone might suffer, it was proposed in parliament that a test should be offered, whereby, on taking a particular oath, a suspected party might escape. This of course was quite a sufficient method for dissenters in general, who had no objection to take the required oath ; but for Quakers, who objected to oaths altogether, the plan was of no advantage. On refusing to take the oath, they would be liable to be treated as Jesuits, or Roman Catholics in disguise. On this point William Penn presented a petition to the House of Commons, in which he prayed that, with regard to the clause for discriminating between Roman Catholics and others, the mere word of a Quaker should be deemed equivalent to an oath ; with this addition, however, that if any Quaker should be found uttering a falsehood on the occasion, he should be subject to exactly the same punishment as if he had sworn falsely. Being admitted to a hearing before a committee of the House of Commons, he spoke in support of his petition, insisting that it was hard that the Quakers “must bear the stripes of another interest, and be their proxy in punishment.” “But mark,” he continued,