The Missing Cross to Purity


Part V

We have already seen how Penn secured from the king a pardon for Vickris. Soon afterwards he obtained a pardon for his college-mate, John Locke, who was an exile in Holland. But the proud philosopher declined it; he had done nothing, he said, which required a pardon.

Penn's friendship and influence with the king being now well established, the demands on him became incessant, and Gerard Croese tells us of his busy life.

“Penn, being so highly favored, acquired thereby a number of mends. Those also who formerly knew him, when they had any favor to ask at court, came to, courted, and entreated Penn to promote their several requests. Penn refused none of his friends any reasonable office he could do for them, but was ready to serve them all, but more especially the Quakers, and these wherever their religion was concerned. It is usually thought, when you do me one favor readily, you thereby encourage me to expect a second. Thus they ran to Penn without intermission, as their only pillar and support, who always caressed and received them cheerfully, and effected their business by his influence and eloquence. Hence his house and gates were daily thronged by a numerous train of clients and suppliants, desiring him to present their addresses to his Majesty. There were sometimes two hundred and more. When the carrying on of these affairs required money for writings, such as drawing things out into form and copying, and for fees and other charges which are usually made on such occasions, Penn so discreetly managed matters, that out of his own, which he had in abundance, he liberally discharged many emergent expenses." (“General History of the Quakers," p. 106.)

We are not informed of the various kinds of cases Penn managed for his clients. A great deal of his business was obtaining pardons, for, in that age of turmoil, rebellions, and civil war, there were hundreds of people constantly in exile or in danger of death. There were many pardon-brokers about the court, and some of them were very nefarious in their operations, demanding enormous sums or all a man's estate for saving his life. Penn, however, we are assured, took no fees.

There was a certain Charlewood Lawton, who had taken part in Monmouth's rebellion and had been obliged to hide himself in the moorlands of Staffordshire; but being relieved from apprehension when the general pardon was published, Penn sought him out and made friends with him in that cordial manner which he seems to have bestowed on so many people to whom he took a fancy. Lawton, in return, became a great admirer of Penn, and in a memoir he left speaks with enthusiasm of his “inexhaustible spring of benevolence towards all his fellow-creatures, without any narrow or stingy regard to either civil or religious parties." After telling how Penn at his request obtained a free pardon for Aaron Smith, who was about to buy one by the surrender of his whole estate, Lawton gives a description which throws some light on Penn's manner and the times.

“After dinner as we were drinking a glass of wine, Mr. Penn, turning to him, told Mr. Popple that he had brought him such a man as he had never met with before. ‘I have just now asked him how I might do something for himself, and he has desired me to get pardon for another man.' And so Mr. Penn repeated at length what had passed between us upon the terrace walk, and then turning to me, he said, ‘though I will, at your request, get, if I can, Aaron Smith's pardon, yet I desire you will think of something wherein I can do a kindness for yourself.'

"Upon that I said I could tell him how he might prolong my life. Mr. Penn replied, 'I am no physician, but pray tell me what you mean?' And so I told him Jack Trenchard, (for so we State Whigs used to call him), who was afterwards Secretary of State, was abroad, [in exile] and if he could get him permission to come home with safety and honor, the drinking now and then a bottle with Jack Trenchard would make me so cheerful, that it would prolong my1ife.

"To this Mr. Penn smilingly answered, 'To show you I will not deny you anything you can reasonably ask, I promise you I will get his too a pardon, if I can;' and after this we chatted half an hour, and so parted.

"In three weeks or a month he got Aaron Smith's pardon; and prevailing with my Lord Jefferies (then Lord Chancellor) to join with him, they in a short time obtained Mr. Trenchard's." (Memoirs, Penna. Hist. Soc., vol. iii. part ii. p. 215.)

This throng of clients compelled Penn to live at Kensington in London. He rented Holland House, a handsome residence belonging to the Earl of Warwick; and he keept a coach and four horses. He may have seemed to have been paying the expenses of his Quaker clients out of his own abundance, as Croese calls it; but that abundance was being rapidly drained, for in addition to his other expenses he was losing money by Pennsylvania. He was paying all the expenses of government there, and the officials had a bad habit of drawing on him for whatever they wanted, as if he were an inexhaustible mine.

"I have bad two letters more," he writes to his steward, "with three bills of exchange. I am sorry the public is so unmindful of me as not to prevent bills upon me that am come on their errand, and had rather have lost a thousand pounds, than have stirred from Pennsylvania. James, send no more bills, for I have enough to do to keep all even here, and think of returning with my family; that can't be without vast charge."

His heart was set on enjoying again the simple, honest pleasures of his wilderness colony, and never leaving them. But he was held fast in England not only by the dispute with Lord Baltimore, but by the critical condition of politics and the demands of the Quakers.

In the spring of 1686, shortly before the king set at liberty the thirteen hundred Quakers with the other dissenters, Penn wrote an important pamphlet called A Persuasive to Moderation. It was his old subject, liberty of conscience, but he argues it out afresh with new suggestions. It is in some respects one of his best arguments on this subject, which he handled so often, for in this instance he takes particular pains to give instances where toleration had proved itself a political and commercial success. He begins, of course, with ancient times and the flourishing state of the Roman empire, which tolerated over thirty thousand different religious rites among her people. But he soon comes down to his own time, and gives numerous instances of the success of toleration in the small states of Europe and in most of the British colonies in America. He considered himself as proving conclusively by these that toleration never endangered monarchy. His most important instance, of course, is Holland, "that bog of the world," as he calls it, “neither sea nor dry land, now the rival of the tallest monarchies; not by conquests, marriages, or accession of royal blood, the usual ways of empire, but by her own superlative clemency and industry." Then he goes on to show that toleration gave security to property, which could never be secure when estates were at any moment liable to be swept away by the sheriff to pay the fines for religious dissent.

Then he speaks of the Declaration of Indulgence in the last reign, which, by relieving the dissenters from persecution, greatly encouraged trade. So long as the indulgence lasted, "all men," he says, labored cheerfully and traded boldly when they had the royal word to keep what they got." He does not seem, however, to realize sufficiently that it was a dangerous violation of the constitution to allow the king to suspend laws even to accomplish such a good purpose. He had not then written his maxim, "To do evil that good may come of it, is for bunglers in politics as well as morals." He calls the Declaration of Indulgence the "sovereign remedy of our English constitution."Such an indulgence, he thinks, will be the panacea for all political ills. If full religious liberty were allowed the dissenters, they would all, he says, be united in favor of the government, and such rebellions as Monmouth's and such designs as the Rye House plot would cease. This last was a sound suggestion; but it was not sound to favor granting that liberty by allowing the king to suspend the laws, and it is surprising to find Penn in effect arguing for another declaration of indulgence.

Penn afterwards spoke of this pamphlet as having not a little circulation and influence, and he was not a man who was conceited about his own writings or over-estimated them. Whether it influenced the king or not, the king was on this occasion wiser than Penn, for he merely pardoned the dissenters who were in prison, which he had a right to do, without attempting as yet to violate constitutional right by suspending the laws.

Penn and the Quakers were, of course, well pleased with this result; but Penn seems to have known that things were not quite so rosy as they seemed. In writing to his steward, after saying how he longs to be back again in Pennsylvania, but "great undertakings crowd him,” he says, "The Lord keeps us here in this dark day. Be wise, close, respectful to superiors. The king has discharged all Friends by a general pardon, and is courteous to us, though as to the Church of England things seem pinching. Several Roman Catholics have gotten high into places in the army, navy, and court."

So Penn was well aware that the king was “pinching" the Church of England. The letter is somewhat guarded; but Penn evidently saw that the king had pardoned the dissenters for the sake of avoiding their hostility for a time, while he worked Roman Catholics into power and turned both government and church over to Rome. This, Penn says, made a “dark day;" and he must have foreseen that when the people once fully realized what the king was doing, there would be a terrible outbreak of some kind. He was powerless to turn the king from this course; and we do not know that he even tried at this time. His influence extended only to obtaining favors for individuals. Referring to his losses in Pennsylvania, he said declared that the neglect of the supply, which the council had promised him in consequence of his great expense on account of the province, was one cause which kept him from Pennsylvania, adding, "that he would not spend his private estate to discharge a public station. There is nothing my soul breathes more for in this world, next my dear family's life, than that I may see poor Pennsylvania again, but I cannot force my way here, and see nothing done on that side inviting."

Why, then, did he continue to stand in with the king? It was his only way of obtaining relief for the Quakers, and this was certainly a great temptation when thirteen hundred of them had just been released. As for a general liberty of conscience established by law, he apparently had no hope of it at that time, except in Pennsylvania. In England liberty must be picked up as you could get it. He had to protect from interference both Pennsylvania and the Jerseys, and he had his litigation with Lord Baltimore. These important interests might all be injured by losing favor at court.

It is curious to note that for a time after the king had pardoned everybody who was in jail for their religion, the magistrates and judges continued to enforce the laws against dissenters; the informers continued to pry about, and constables made arrests. A person who had just been let out by the pardon might, by a zealous magistrate, be locked up again for a fresh offence. Penn himself though he was so intimate with the king and daily obtaining favors for his clients, was not safe from the magistrates and informers, who would send constables to “pull him down" while he was preaching. “I have been thrice," he writes to his steward, "taken at meetings, but got off; blessed be God."

It was a strange condition of affairs, and Penn was leading a strange life; so influential with the king that he had become a courtier with hundreds of clients, and at the same time going out to preach to the Quakers, the supposed enemies of the government, and pulled down for it by constables and soldiers. The king, however, after a time stopped the magistrates and constables, so that the laws against dissenters stood on the books unexecuted.

The Quakers were glad enough to have a friend at court, and there was no doubt but that Penn was a very influential man. In those days there were many men with some standing at court who were known as "pardon-brokers;" men whose business it was to obtain pardons for persons accused of crimes, usually exacting payment of all the accused person's wealth in return. Penn used his influence to obtain pardons only because of his belief in the innocence of the man or woman under accusation, and this honesty of his, in an age when treachery and deceit were the usual standards, made him more than ever a marked and notable man.

Matters of state were growing more and more tangled in England. The king was appointing Roman Catholics to office, and was not as well disposed toward the men of the Church of England as the Protestants thought proper. On all sides men and women were plotting for their own advancement, too often changing their religion to suit their ambitions of the moment. Penn, who would preach to a Quaker meeting, and then go to the king's chambers, where he would meet Catholics and priests, seemed to be acting after the general fashion of the time, but nevertheless his intimacy with the king caused gossip and widespread suspicions of his motives.

He trod a very difficult path in those days, often seeming to be "carrying water on both shoulders." In the summer of this year, 1686, Penn made a third journey to Holland and Germany. It was partly a political and partly a religious journey, but of the religious part we know little or nothing, because he has left us no account of it. But we may infer that he spoke much of Pennsylvania and urged the Mennonites, Schwenkfelders, and other Quaker-like German sects to migrate to his province, as many of them did. The Quaker historian, Sewell, was then engaged in translating into Dutch Penn's description of Pennsylvania, and also No Cross, No Crown, and Penn met him in Holland. Of the political part of the journey, however, something is known, and it is important, because it shows how Penn was becoming more and more involved in the schemes of the king.

Whether the king actually commissioned him to visit, in Holland, William, the Prince of Orange, is not certain, but, at any rate, he did so and advocated the king's policy. The Prince of Orange had married James's daughter, Mary, who would succeed to the throne if James had no son, and, as things happened, she and the prince took the throne from James by violence two years afterwards. The object of Penn's visit was to persuade the prince, whose wife was heir presumptive to the crown, to agree that there should be not only freedom of religious worship in England, but that the test laws, which kept both Roman Catholics and dissenters out of Parliament and office, should be abolished. William was an ardent and liberal Protestant, and as sincere a believer in religious liberty as Penn. He readily agreed that there should be freedom of worship not only to dissenters, but to papists; but he very naturally declined to have a hand in removing the test laws which blocked a Roman Catholic king from turning over to Rome the British government and church.

It is strange that Penn should have been willing to press such a request; for he knew that James II was drawing Roman Catholics into office as fast as he could in spite of the tests. Penn might, perhaps, have defended himself by saying that he believed in absolute religious liberty without restrictions or tests of any kind. To which William of Orange would very justly have replied that such complete liberty might be possible someday; but at the present time the tests must be retained in order to keep the Roman Catholics out of power; for all English history had shown that, if once in full control, they would organize the worst sort of religious despotism.

William also, of course, wanted the tests retained to keep out of power the dissenters who might destroy the Church of England. His theory which he afterwards put into practice, and which proved to be the sound one, was to protect the English Church, keep it in power, and keep dissenters, Roman and otherwise, out of power; at the same time allowing all of them complete freedom, so far as concerned their worship. The British government has been conducted on this principle with gradual relaxation of it down into our own time.

Penn on this occasion seems to have been unaware in how he appeared to be a tool of the Catholics. While professing himself a lover of liberty and a Protestant, he was appearing at the court of the future King of England, as the dupe and tool of James II, a Roman Catholic and well known to be an enemy of liberty. He made himself very unpopular with important people who were really his friends, and laid up a store of trouble for himself. The followers of the Prince of Orange learned to despise him, and that talking and very violent follower Bishop Burnet acquired for him a relentless antipathy that he afterwards took no pains to conceal.

As for the prince himself he was supremely strong in the quality in which Penn was weak. He saw through and through human nature at a glance. He wasted no antipathy on Penn, because he saw that he was merely a sincere man who was making a great mistake.

*[There were only 30,000 Roman Catholics in all of England, compared to at least 8,000,000 total popluation - not even 1% of the population. So Penn was not quite as naive as this author paints him; rather England had unrealistic fears of an almost impossible popish takeover of Parliament. But fear is irrational, and so Penn's logic was ignored.]

Penn, Burnet afterwards tells us, persuaded a Scottish lawyer, Steward, to leave his Puritan and Presbyterian party and become an ardent follower of King James. This Steward also came over to Holland to persuade William to agree that the tests should be abolished, and declared that James would never abolish the penal laws against dissenters' worship, unless the tests were abolished also; so that no sort of religious liberty could be had in England unless the test laws were sacrificed.

In Holland he met some Presbyterian refugees from Scotland, among them Sir Robert Stuart, of Coltness. When he returned to England, Penn recommended that King James should allow these men to return, since they were in exile solely on account of their religion, and were not guilty of any treason. The king consented, but when Sir Robert Stuart did return, he found that he was penniless, because all his property had been given over to the Earl of Arran. Sir Robert went to Penn and told him the state of affairs. Penn took the matter up at once, and went to the Earl of Arran, [an old friend of Penn's younger days in Ireland]. The Earl of Buchan has described how Penn managed the matter.

"You have taken possession of Coltness's estate,' said Penn. 'You know that it is not yours.'

“ That estate,' said Arran, 'I paid a great price for. I received no other reward for my expensive and troublesome embassy in France.'

'"All very well, friend James, but of this assure yourself , that if you do not give me this moment an order on thy chamberlain for two hundred pounds to Coltness to carry him down to his native country, and a hundred a year to subsist on until matters are adjusted, I will make it as many thousands out of your way with the King. ' "

So spoke Penn, and as a result the Earl of Arran complied with Penn's request, and a little later the entire estate was restored to Sir Robert Stuart. Evidently men understood that William Penn had great influence with the king of England.

When he returned from Holland, Penn found that the Quakers were increasing in numbers, and he often preached to as many as a thousand listeners at a single meeting. At the same time his steward and others in Pennsylvania were writing to him for more money, and he was sending them all he could spare, and more too, although, as he sometimes complained in his letters, he could not see why such a naturally wealthy province should require any help from him. He wrote that he would gladly go out to his province again, if it were not that the boundary dispute with Lord Baltimore kept him in England. But naturally he wanted his people there to make a profit for him out of his great possessions. "If my table, cellar and stable may be provided for," he wrote, "with a barge and yacht or sloop for the service of governor or government, I may try to get here, for in the sight of God, I can say I am five thousand pounds behindhand more than I ever received or saw for land in that province, and to be so baffled by the merchants is discouraging and not to be put up."

In the spring of 1687 James II made what on its face was a grand proclamation of liberty. He issued a declaration of indulgence suspending not only the laws against the worship of Romanists and other dissenters, but also the test acts which kept them out of Parliament and civil and military offices. He threw down the bars and laid open the government in a way which he could certainly say was far in advance of his time; for such liberality was not afterwards attained in a hundred years.

Lawton, whose memoir has been already quoted, says that Penn had opposed an indulgence which suspended the laws in such an unconstitutional and unpopular way. We do not know what passed between Penn and the king on the subject, and Lawton does not give us the source of his knowledge. But Penn's writings do not show an opposition to the Declaration of Indulgence; nor does his conduct. He was one of those who made efforts to procure from the various religious bodies addresses and memorials thanking the king for his declaration, and he himself presented the address from the Quakers describing the indulgence as well accepted throughout the country. We have the king's answer to this latter address, and it is worth reading and remembering.

"Gentlemen, I thank you heartily for your address. Some of you know (I am sure you do Mr. Penn), that it was always my principle, that consciences ought not to be forced, and that all men ought to have the liberty of their consciences. And what I have promised in my declaration I will continue to perform so long as I live. And I hope before I die, to settle it, so that after ages shall have no reason to alter it."

This was the king's “word for liberty," in which Penn afterwards said he had implicit faith. He believed that the king would in the end establish complete liberty, and this was one of the reasons why he was willing to stand by him. The whole court had, indeed, put on the most extraordinary airs of liberality. The popish priests outdid Penn and described with enthusiasm the immense benefits that would result from religious liberty. But the king had peculiar methods for establishing this very desirable thing, and how Penn could continue to support him is a mystery which each reader must explain for himself as we go on.

Before he resorted to the Declaration of Indulgence James had been drawing Roman Catholics into office and into the livings of the Established Church. By dismissing some judges and packing the court with his favorites he had obtained a decision that although he might not have the right to dispense with the tests which prohibited Romanists as a body from holding office, he might on special grounds dispense with these tests in individual instances. In this way he thought that the offices of government might be given to people of his own religion one by one. A start once made and the fashion set, many of the aristocracy would change their religion, as they had done in former reigns, and those who would not change could be forced. He supposed that English Churchmen were still very much attached to the doctrine of passive obedience and ready to accept without question the religion of the civil power if backed by force.

In this, however, he was mistaken. That the game had been successfully played before was true. In the early days of the Reformation when everything was in a state of flux, when men's minds were bewildered and their convictions unsteady, anyone who captured the government machinery could force the religion of England into almost any channel he chose. But that day was passed, as James soon discovered, and Penn having failed to obtain for him the consent of William of Orange to a repeal of the tests which kept Roman Catholics out of power, he resolved to repeal those tests on his own responsibility by the Declaration of Indulgence. To make it more acceptable he said that he would try to induce Parliament to abolish by law the tests which he was then abolishing by decree. Penn retained his confidence in James in the face of all facts and warnings. He knew the situation. He knew that the great object of the Roman church in that age was to seize political power, and that it was often successful; and he knew also the consequences of such success. He knew that Louis XIV of France was on friendly terms with James, and when opportunity offered would assist in capturing the English government for Rome. He had letters from friends on the continent describing the persecutions that still continued there; how the Protestants were hunted down by soldiers, who kept them awake by throwing water on them until they turned Catholic or went mad. He remembered that his uncle, George Penn, had been caught by the Inquisition in Spain, his property confiscated by the church, himself imprisoned for three years, during which time he was whipped once a month, and finally tortured on the rack and sent back to England a wrecked and dying man.

He must have felt the force of all this; but he attempted to argue against it in a most extraordinary pamphlet called Good Advice to Roman Catholic and Protestant Dissenters. This pamphlet was issued soon after the Declaration of Indulgence appeared, and was avowedly in support of the king's policy. It is significant that Penn would not sign his name to it, but published it anonymously.

The substance of it is that the test laws should be abolished in the interests of religious liberty, because there was now no danger from the Roman Catholics. They could not capture the government, even if the tests were removed, because, first of all, the masses of the English people were opposed to such an attempt The Catholics were a sensible people, knew their own interest, and would not want to do what the majority in England disapproved of "Toleration," he says, "and no more, is that which all Romanists ought to be satisfied with." And he professed to think that because they ought to be satisfied that therefore they would be satisfied. They would not, he said, take too much. Some of them, undoubtedly, wanted to take everything, but they were not sufficiently numerous. In fact, the whole body of the Catholics was only a small fraction of the population, - scarcely thirty thousand out of eight million, - and they were very much divided in opinion. As for the king's putting the Romanists in power, that was impossible, because he was an old man of fifty-three years, of a short-lived family, and he would not have time before his death to accomplish the designs of which he was suspected. Moreover, he had given his word against anything of that kind, and why should not a king's word be as good as any man’s? Penn actually had the face to say that James would not establish popery and despotism because he had promised not to do so.

As for Louis XIV of France coming to assist James in such a design, Penn said there was nothing to fear in that because it was not likely that James would be so ill advised as to admit a foreign army into England, and, even if he did, England had enough ships and men to prevent it.

The pamphlet upheld freedom of worship while supporting the abolition of the tests, and therefore upheld the policy of James. This anonymous pamphlet was not received well by the people of England, equally suspicious of the motives of James, as Penn was supportive of the freedoms guaranteed to all, particularly his beloved Quaker Friends. The suspicion and distrust of Penn's motives in support of the Catholic King was fueled by this pamphlet.

But if the Quakers were pleased at this act of the king, the Roman Catholics were even more delighted. Soon it became apparent that the latter were going to reap the greatest benefit from this new act of clemency on the part of King James.

As it became evident that the king meant to have his own way, in spite of Parliament or public opinion, and that his way was probably to turn the government over to the followers of the Church of Rome, the dissenters flocked to the aid of the Church of England. Much as Presbyterians, Baptists, Quakers, and other dissenting people disagreed with the English Established Church, they all felt that it was far preferable to the Church of Rome. They believed that King James was hand in glove with the Pope and with the French king, Louis XIV, and they could foresee that if their sovereign should have his way, the country might quickly return to the conditions of the reign of "Bloody Mary." So practically all Protestants now opposed King James's illegal Declaration of Indulgence. But William Penn did not; he said he still trusted the king. Then he traveled over the country, trying to induce people to agree with his view of James.

The king next tried to seize the universities of Oxford and Cambridge for the Catholics. He made over to them Christ Church College and University College at Oxford, and when there was a vacancy in the office of president of Magdalen College, he ordered the fellows to elect a Catholic. The fellows refused, and the king's officers broke down the college doors, turned out the president whom the fellows had elected, the fellows themselves, and the students, and turned the place into a Papal seminary. At first Penn argued with the king about this, but soon afterward he changed and advised the college to yield. Here Penn made a grievous mistake; no wonder people began to think that the former champion of religious liberty was no longer a Quaker at heart. King James went on with his schemes. He was growing so bold that he tried to run all the counties and boroughs, and force people to choose his own favorites for their officers. Wherever he could he turned out the old officers and put in his Catholic friends. Then, in April, 1688, he made another blunder. He issued another Declaration of Indulgence very similar to his first one, and said that he would appoint no one to public office except those who would support him in maintaining this indulgence, and then ordered that this new law should be read on two successive Sundays by the clergymen in all the churches of England.

He meant in this way to humiliate the Church of England. But James had now gone too far. Only a few clergymen read the new Declaration, and in most cases where they did, the people left the churches as soon as they heard the first words of it. Seven bishops petitioned the king not to enforce his order to have the act read, and King James had these seven tried for libel, and imprisoned them in the Tower of London while they were awaiting trial because they refused to give bail. This was what became famous as the Case of the Seven Bishops, and roused men all over England to the wildest pitch of indignation. Very likely Penn did oppose the Jesuitical influence. He was, no doubt, as Dixon says, opposed to the Declaration of Indulgence being read in the churches; and, as we shall see, he advised the king to release the bishops who were imprisoned for not ordering it to be read. He also, it appears, advised the king "to be cautious in his connection with France, or the country should be discontented."

About the same time a son was born to the king and queen, and the English people thought this meant that the Catholics would secure control of the government for the next reign. They were determined that this should not be, and so they invited William, the Protestant Prince of Orange, and his wife Mary, the daughter of James II, to come and take the throne of England. William landed and took the crown with very little opposition. James, deserted by his court, his army, and his navy, threw the Great Seal of England into the river Thames, and fled to France, where he lived the remainder of his days in a palace given to him by Louis XIV.

England was now in a much better way. The country had an honest king and queen who shortly proclaimed a religious liberty that was sincere.

As to the imprisonment of the seven bishops, Lawton assures us that Penn was from the first opposed to their commitment, and on the day when the king's son was born Penn went to the king "and pressed him exceedingly to set them at liberty," as an act which would be so popular with the people that their good-will towards the king might be restored.

Penn's protests against the measures of the king were in secret and known only to a few of his friends. Before the public and the world he stood as at best the mediator who was trying to make the king's measures palatable to the people; and most people very naturally inferred that he inspired and approved of those measures.

They soon discovered that James had sent him to the Prince of Orange to persuade that prince to agree that the tests that kept the papists out of office should be removed, and they discovered also that he was the author of the anonymous pamphlet already mentioned, Good Advice to the Church of England, in which he advocated the removal of the tests and laughed at the fears of papal supremacy as childish. Thousands of people in England were then as thoroughly convinced that Penn was a Jesuit in disguise as we are now to the contrary. He had taken orders, they said, in Rome, where he had been granted a dispensation to marry, and he had since then frequently officiated as a priest in the celebration of the mass at Whitehall, St James's, and other places in England. If we had lived then, we should probably have had the same opinion they held; for the Jesuits at that time were not the comparatively insignificant and harmless body they have since become. The Jesuits were so feared that until James II, they could be executed if caught in England or her colonies; they were viewed as the secret police of the Pope, with no limitation on their methods to further the Pope's cause, including murder, assassinations, revolutions, coups, etc.

They pervaded the political and social life of all Europe. Their methods and purposes were then rapidly reaching that enormity for which they were afterwards expelled from every country of Europe, and for a time from the Roman church itself. They adopted every imaginable form of disguise. Some became Baptist or Puritan preachers, some were celebrant, swearing cavaliers; some became domestic servants. They were the most learned, astute, untiring, and unscrupulous of men. Their disguises were so perfect and in many cases so dramatic that the people had grown accustomed to look for them in the most unexpected forms and places. It would be just like one of them to take the role of the most strenuous advocate of religious liberty in England, to be the sort of man in every way that Penn was, and in that guise, along with private intimacy with the king, secure the abolition of the tests and let all his brother Jesuits into power.

In the autumn of 1688, a few weeks before the Prince of Orange landed at Torbay to drive James from the throne, these suspicions against Penn became so wide-spread that some of his friends tried to save him from them by giving him a chance to contradict them in writing and explain his relations with the king. William Popple, secretary of the Privy Council's Committee on Trade and Plantations, wrote him a long, formal, but beautiful letter, asking him, in the gentlest and most friendly manner, if he was aware of the condition in which he stood.

The consciousness of innocence, Popple said, was giving him too great a contempt for slanders. It was possible to be too serene and sublime. An unswerving prosecution of an honest purpose was well, but at the same time a man should guard his reputation. He was deep in intimacy with a king who was believed by the whole kingdom to be establishing popery by force as the national religion. He had so great a part in the councils of that king that it was difficult for people to suppose he was anything but an absolute papist. "Your post is too considerable," said Popple, "for a papist of an ordinary form, and therefore you must be a Jesuit."

He was offering a most melancholy prospect to his friends, for he was giving his enemies the opportunity they desired of destroying him. The aspersion of Jesuitism that had been cast upon him was offsetting the benefit of all his efforts in the great cause of liberty of conscience, the cause to which he had devoted his life.

“It has weakened the force of your endeavors, obstructed their effect, and contributed greatly to disappoint this poor nation of that inestimable happiness, and secure establishment, which I am persuaded you designed, and which all good and wise men agree, that a just and inviolable liberty of conscience would infallibly produce. I heartily wish this consideration had been sooner laid to heart and that some demonstrative evidence of your sincerity in the profession you make had accompanied all your endeavors for liberty."

In his reply to this letter Penn laid aside the set phraseology of his sect, and wrote in that plain but soft and pleasant English he could at times command. He denied, of course, in the fullest and most detailed manner, that he was a papist or a Jesuit, and he denied each one of the particular instances of Jesuitism brought against him: his officiating as a priest, his dispensation to marry, or his having kidnapped one formerly a monk out of Pennsylvania to deliver him over to his enemies in England.

“The only reason that I can apprehend, they have to repute me a Roman Catholic, is my frequent going to Whitehall, a place no more forbidden to me than to the rest of the world, who yet, it seems, find much fairer quarter. I have almost continually had one business or other there for our Friends, whom I ever served with a steady solicitation through all times since I was of their communion. I had also a great many personal good offices to do, upon a principle of charity, for people of all persuasions; thinking it a duty to improve the little interest I had for the good of those who needed it, especially the poor. I must add something of my own affairs, too, though I must own, if I may without vanity, that they have ever had the least share of my thoughts or pains, or else they would not have still depended as they yet do."

Then he goes on to tell why he likes King James and believes in him. Cannot, he asks, "a Protestant dissenter be dutiful, thankful, and serviceable to the king though he be of the Roman Catholic communion. We hold not our property or protection from him by our persuasion, and therefore his persuasion should not be the measure of our allegiance."

This was a most extraordinary sentence to write in view of recent events. The king's persuasion was leading him to violate property in the most outrageous manner. He was taking the colleges of the Church of England away from their lawful owners to give them to papists. He was compelling towns to surrender their charters so that he might turn them over to papist officials. He was packing Parliament by bribery and corruption that it might turn over to papists the livings, church buildings, and other property of the Church of England. Religious persuasion was becoming very closely connected with property rights and allegiance.

But Penn goes on.

I am sorry to see so many, that seem fond of the reformed religion by their disaffection to him [the king] recommend it so ill. Whatever practices of Roman Catholics we might reasonably object against, and no doubt but such there are, yet he has disclaimed and reprehended those ill things by his declared opinion against persecution, by the ease in which he actually indulges all dissenters, and by the confirmation he offers in Parliament for the security of the Protestant religion and liberty of conscience. And in his honor, as well as in my own defense, I am obliged in conscience to say, that he has ever declared to me it was his opinion; and on all occasions, when Duke, he never refused me the repeated proofs of it, as often as I had any poor sufferers for conscience' sake to solicit his help for.

This was certainly a strange statement for Penn to make. It appears to many that he took the king's word for everything and shut his eyes to the facts; took his word that he was not forcing popery on colleges, Parliament, government, and Church of England; calmly looked at him doing it, and said he could not see it. It also appeared that for the sake of securing present relief to the Quakers and some other dissenters, he was willing that the king should establish popery in the Church of England and in the government.

In another passage he argues against the opinion that he was supporting the measures of James.

Is anything more foolish as well as false, than that because I am often at Whitehall, therefore I must be the author of all that is done there that does not please abroad? But supposing some such things to have been done, pray tell me, if I am bound to oppose anything that I am not called to do. I never was a member of council, cabinet, or committee, where the affairs of the kingdom are transacted. I have had no office or trust, and consequently nothing can be said to be done by me However, one thing I know, that I have everywhere most religiously observed, and endeavored in conversation with persons of all ranks and opinions, to allay heats, and moderate extremes, even in the politics.

His final reason for his support of James lay in these words of his:

To this let me add the relation my father had to this king's service, his particular favor in getting me released out of the Tower of London in 1669, my father's humble request to him upon his death-bed to protect me from the inconveniences and troubles my persuasion [creed] might expose me to, and his friendly promise to do it and exact performance, of it from the moment I addressed myself to him; I say when all this is considered, anybody that has the least pretence to good nature, gratitude, or generosity, must needs know how to interpret my access to the king.

And that was probably the true explanation of William Penn's devotion to an unjust king, - his gratitude to a man who had been the friend of both his father and himself.* That same strong trait of friendship was shown time and again in Penn's dealings with agents in Pennsylvania who, relying on his friendship, deceived him. It was, perhaps, a noble trait; but it placed this Quaker leader, a man who had fought so long and so earnestly to secure religious freedom in England, in the curious position of friend and supporter of a sovereign who had been doing his best to suppress liberty of religion. It is small wonder that many people in England failed to understand Penn's attitude; and small wonder that, when William and Mary came to the throne, Penn stood in a discredited and very difficult position.

*Penn was neither stupid nor blind. If the king had been as guilty as the author is convinced, Penn would not have been so defensive. It is far more likely that the king's efforts at affirmative action for long supressed Roman Catholic English citicizens was viewed with alarm and conspiracy. Further, if the criticism were unfounded, Penn would not have wavered in his support of the king. Penn's loyalty to James is more understood, considering what he wrote to his children, just before his first visit to Pennsylvania: A friend loves at all times, says Solomon, Prov 17:17. And your own friend and your father's friend do not forsake. Prov 27:10.



THE new king of England, William III, was an honest, upright man, and made a fine ruler, in many ways one of the very finest that England has ever had. The government had been very corrupt under the last two Stuart kings; under William and Mary it became respectable. William had already made the small country of the Netherlands a power in the world, and had fought valiantly to defend the Protestant cause. When he became king of the much stronger country of England, he said to a friend, "At last I have a weapon whose blows will hurt!" Some say he meant that he could now do more than ever for religious freedom, others say in his opposition to France.

And he did more for religious freedom than any king of England ever had done. He did not make promises only to break them, nor playoff one party against another for his own selfish aims. He found the country a very network of intrigue and plotting, and he straightened it out as speedily as he could. He was a colder, more reserved man than either Charles, the "Merry Monarch," or James II had been, and he had of course to make a great many changes in the government, so that it followed quite naturally that those men who were used to the two Stuart kings were not altogether pleased with William. Penn was one of those men; having been fond of Charles and James, he did not appeared kindly to William; and he allowed himself to appear almost an enemy to the new ruling house.

Now King William, although he had no particular affection for the Quaker leader, was quite ready to be perfectly fair with him. He would probably have been glad to ask Penn's advice in regard to matters that concerned the Quakers, had not an unfortunate accident happened which placed Penn under suspicion. The exiled King James wrote a letter to Penn from France; and, as King William's spies were careful to trace all the letters James sent to England, it soon became known that Penn had been receiving messages from the exiled king. The first thing Penn knew, he was served with an order to appear before the Privy Council and answer to a charge of carrying on a treasonable correspondence. He was not frightened. He went at once to the Council, surrendered himself, and asked that he might be allowed to make his answer in the presence of the king. This was agreed to, and the meeting was set for the next day. William was gracious and kindly when the Quaker appeared before him; and the king alluded to the pleasure he had had in meeting Mr. Penn at the Hague. Then he drew out the letter from King James that his spies had intercepted, and handed it to Penn, saying that the signature was undoubtedly that of James Stuart. He then asked Penn to read the letter aloud. This Penn did, and found that the letter reminded Penn of James's friendship for his father and for himself, and hoped that in its hour of need he would come to the aid of the Stuart cause.

Penn handed the letter back to the king, who asked what King James meant by requesting Penn to come to his aid, and why James had written to him. Penn answered that it was impossible for him to prevent James writing to him, if the late king wished to do so. He then went on to admit that he had loved King James in his prosperity, and could not hate him now in his adversity; that he was willing to repay his kindness in any private way he could; but that he had no thought of disloyalty to the new sovereign, and had never been guilty of any disloyal act. His defense was so manly and frank that William was willing to discharge Penn at once, but, as some of his Council objected, the king ordered William Penn to give bail to appear at the next "Trinity term" of court, which began on May 22 and ended on June. When Penn furnished this bail, he was given his liberty.

In the summer of this year, 1690, James invaded Ireland with an army, and William went there to meet him. The French admiral, having beaten the combined Dutch and English fleets, was hovering off the coast. Queen Mary was left alone in London to govern as best she could; and as the plots for the overthrow of herself and her husband thickened, Penn was suspected, along with Lord Clarendon, Lord Preston, and about fifteen others. He was arrested by proclamation, July 18, 1690, and remained many months in prison until tried at the close of the year. Several of those arrested with him were convicted, and one of them was executed, but he himself was acquitted. Lord Preston, who turned state's evidence, seems to have had nothing against him except conversations, in which Penn had mentioned long lists of persons who were friendly to King James. Such statements, of course, amounted to nothing. He naturally often spoke favorably of James, and spies and informers might easily construe his words as evidence of a plot.

It had now become evident that William, in becoming king, had other purposes to accomplish besides delivering England from a tyrant. He intended to use England in an alliance with the Protestant powers to crush France. The war was already beginning, and the English people foresaw the expenses of a great army with increased taxation. This alienated not a few friends of William, who had assisted in bringing him to the throne. We would naturally suppose that it would alienate Penn more than ever, and he might naturally be brought into association with those who, like himself were friendly to James. He could not very well avoid talking to them; some of them might be plotting for his old friend's return; and from his association with such people it is not surprising that the government often suspected him.

But for a short time after his trial, at the close of 1690, the government seems to have been satisfied that he was altogether innocent of plotting, for almost immediately after the trial the secretary of state granted him an order for a convoy to take him to Pennsylvania. He published proposals for settlers, a number of whom he intended to take with him, and he was soon to depart.

But George Fox died on the 13th of January, and on the 14th Penn preached at his funeral. Soon after the ceremony he learned that a warrant had been issued for him, and that the officers intended to take him at the funeral, but, mistaking the hour, came too late. What the evidence was on this occasion we do not know.

He went into hiding, an act which some of his biographers have attempted to obscure by calling it “retirement," “living in seclusion," or “taking private lodgings." Clarkson, however, informs us without hesitation that he took “a private lodging in London;”and all the biographers seem to be agreed that during the three years he remained in concealment he was in London all the time. Stoughton describes the London of that day with its queer secluded courts and alleys with rambling, overhanging houses, where, he says, Penn could have been as effectually concealed as in a wilderness. But this is mere picturesque guessing. In a letter written towards the close of his concealment, Penn says, “I have been above these three years hunted up and down, and could never be allowed to live quietly in city or country." Narcissus Luttrell, in his diary, says that at one time during his concealment, Penn went to France. So it would seem that he was constantly on the move, and did not remain all the time in London. There is no doubt, however, that he was at times in London; and he seems to have had some special place of concealment there; for after the king withdrew his suspicions, and concealment was no longer necessary, he says that he preached in London and then went “to visit the sanctuary of my solitude." He adds, “and after that to see my poor wife and children; the eldest being with me all this while." Exactly why Penn hid himself during those three years we shall never know. Besse, in the life of him already often referred to, says that the warrant had been issued on information furnished by the notorious Fuller, who made a business, like Titus Oates, of accusing prominent people. In the absence of a modern detective system the government was compelled to rely on these irregular informers. Fuller was not long afterwards declared, by Parliament, to be a cheat and impostor, and punished. Besse's statement has been accepted by all subsequent biographers and they argue that Penn was unwilling to take the chances of a trial on evidence furnished by this wretch, and so resolved to escape arrest altogether. Fuller was, however, not then known to be so infamous as he was afterwards proved. Macaulay points out that, according to his own life of himself he was not at that time in England, and he also cites a letter written by Caermarthen to King William, February 3, saying that the only witness against Penn was Preston. Penn nowhere says that this warrant was based on Fuller's information. He says that he was indicted in Ireland on information furnished by Fuller and some others; but that was another matter. It should also be observed that Fuller was discredited a few months after this warrant for Penn was issued; but Penn remained in hiding for three years.

Penn being in hiding is disputed by Maria Webb, author of the Penns and Penningtons. Here is her version of what happened:

When the Prince and Princess of Orange were invited to take possession of the throne, William Penn might then have returned to Pennsylvania had he chosen to do so; but he well knew that such a step would be interpreted unfavorably, and he therefore remained to brave the storm. He was soon placed under arrest, and, after being most scrutinizingly examined, nothing could be brought against him which would warrant his detention. Again and again, as each fresh fabrication was prepared by his enemies, he was brought before the council, but still nothing could be proved. His truthful transparent answers carried conviction to the minds of all who were not influenced by bitter party spirit. "His manly avowal," says Janney, "of his continued friendship for the exiled King, who had been his own and his father's friend, was in accordance with his candid and noble character, but in striking contrast with the conduct of some who then frequented the court of the reigning monarch."

As the year 1689 waned, there seemed nothing to prevent the Governor of Pennsylvania from returning to his province in the ensuing autumn. He had always kept up a regular correspondence with his provincial council as a body, and with several of the chief officers of the State, in order to maintain good feeling and a sense of his authority among them, One of his letters written about this time to the council, which was composed of Quakers, concludes thus:-

"And now, Friends, I have a word more to you. It is this; that faith, hope, and charity, are the great helps and marks of true Christians; but, above all, charity, divine love. Blessed are they that are come to it, and hold the Truth in it, and work and act in it. Poor indeed they are in their own spirit, but rich in God's. Oh! come into this love more and more; it will preserve peace in the Church, peace in the state, peace in families, aye, and peace in particular bosoms. God Almighty draw, I beseech him, all your hearts into this heavenly love more and more, that the work of it may shine out to God's glory and your comfort. "For matters here, as to myself, I am well and free, and for the church of God liberty continues. But in the nations of Europe great wars and rumors of wars.

"I am, in the Truth which makes us near to God and one to another, your faithful friend and brother,


The letter which follows has the date of 1690, as an endorsement; and there is reason to infer that it was written in the spring of that year.

The following is a letter from Gulielma Maria Penn To Margaret Fox

Dear and honorable friend, M. F.

With salutations of true, constant, faithful love is my heart filled to thee. I feel it in that which is beyond words - in the unity of the spirit of Truth.

It rises in my mind, as I am writing, something that I saw concerning thee in my sleep long ago about the time of the beginning of these bad spirits. I thought I saw you and dear George and many Friends in a meeting, where the power of the Lord was greatly manifested; and I thought there came in dark wicked spirits, and they strove exceedingly against, the [Divine] life that was in the meeting. Their chief aim was at you and George, but mostly at you. They strove to hurt you, but, I thought, you got so over those who they could not touch you, but only tore some little part of your clothes, and you escaped unhurt. Then a sweet rejoicing and triumph spread throughout the meeting. That dream was long ago, and "the Lord has so brought it to pass that your life now reigns over them all. It was you they began with, but the Lord has given and will [further] give you the victory", to the joy and comfort of your people.

Dear Margaret, I received your acceptable letter long since, but have delayed writing to you, in the hope to give a fuller account of my husband and of our going. But the winter and spring have been so severe that letters have been hindered; and now that many are come, none of them of late dates are for me, because my husband has been in daily expectation of seeing us there, and I am sore for his disappointment. I should have been truly glad to have seen him before going, you say, but I am contented, and desire not his coming merely to take us, as I know he has a great deal of business to attend to; and also know it is not for want of true love or the desire to see us that keeps him, but it is that he must first mind the duties of the place in which he now stands, and do that which is right, and in which he has peace. If the Lord gives clearness and drawings to come, I would be glad, but see no likelihood at present.

We have been much hindered, and are still, by reason of the Friend who does our business here being under some trouble; having many years ago been bound for a man who is lately dead, and whose creditors are now coming on him; so that I cannot depend on his remaining here, and know not where to get another that is fit to leave things to at present, which is a great strait to my mind; my husband writing every letter for us.

I am truly refreshed in the remembrance of you, and your lines are very dear to me. I desire your prayers to the Lord on our behalf that He may attend us with his sweet and heavenly presence in our undertaking, and then it will be well with us, whether staying or going. Dear Margaret, in a sense of this, and in true love I say to you farewell, and I am your affectionate friend in my measure of the blessed Truth,

Gulielma Maria Penn

P.S.-My very dear love salutes thy daughter Lower, whose sufferings I have a sense of. My love also to your daughter and son Abraham, and to Isabel if she is with you."

The duties of the place in which William Penn then stood required much wisdom, as his devoted wife well knew. But doing "that which was right, and in which he had peace," brought with it a happiness which the world could not take away. Autumn came and went, but Gulielma and the children were still unable to visit their transatlantic home. Their cherished plans as to the time for leaving had been overruled, but that prospect was still before them, when, on the 13th of Eleventh month, 1690, William Penn was summoned to the deathbed of his honored friend George Fox. In a letter of that night, addressed to the absent widow of the deceased, he says :-

Your dear husband and my beloved friend finished his glorious testimony this night. Oh! he is gone and has left us with a storm over our heads; surely in great mercy to him, but an evidence to us of sorrows coming.

A storm was indeed gathering over their heads, and it soon burst. A man named Fuller, who hoped to be rewarded by those who were Penn's enemies, had under oath accused him of conspiring with some others to invite the return of the deposed king. It is possible that, even while writing to Margaret Fox, he may have heard that some accusation had been got up against him. His words seem like it, and we are told that the guards sent to arrest him intended to have taken him prisoner while attending his friend's funeral; but, having mistaken the hour, they arrived too late. However, they apprehended him afterwards, and he was brought for examination before the privy council. He begged to be taken before King William and questioned in his presence. This request was complied with, and during the investigation which followed he admitted he had loved King James for the uniform kindness he had met with from him, and, having loved him in his prosperity, he could not dislike him in his adversity. He was willing, he said, to meet his former kindness by any private service in his power, but in no wise nor under any circumstances had he allowed or could he ever allow those feelings to influence him to violate his duty to the state.

After the most searching examination, the King, having heard his manly and straightforward avowal, wished to discharge him; but some of the council objected, and he was retained a prisoner in his own hired lodgings in the city. He was not permitted to go abroad, but was allowed to see any friends who might wish to visit him there. He was thus treated as a suspected person, but allowed to leave for his home.

He again had recourse to his pen, and the three succeeding years of seclusion gave rise to several valuable works. His "fruits of solitude," as he termed them, were numerous and important. One of these publications, which was of great use in that day, and very highly valued by Friends, is entitled, A Key opening the way to every capacity, how to distinguish the Religion professed by the People called Quakers from the Perversions and Misrepresentations of their Adversaries. This work went through twelve editions during the lifetime of its author. Another was entitled An Essay toward the Present and Future Peace of Europe. It proposes that Europe should recognize a General Diet or Congress of Nations, in which every nation should be represented by deputies, and in which national differences might be settled on just principles without recourse to war. A third is entitled Some Fruits of Solitude, in Reflections and Maxims relating to the. Conduct of Human Life. The reflections and maxims which it embodies exhibit the experience of a wise and practical Christian, expressed in brief and pithy aphorisms. A fourth was The Fruits of a Father's Love, with others of more temporary interest. Here again we may recognize the overruling hand of our Heavenly Father, whose servant, while condemned to solitude by unreasonable men, was enabled therein to bring forth much fruit. Meantime Fuller, on whose accusation William Penn had been imprisoned, was proved through another train of circumstances to be a perjured impostor.

By direction of the House of Commons Fuller was brought to trial and being found guilty was condemned to severe punishment. Notwithstanding this, there were other circumstances unfavorable to the liberation of Penn. The King had been urged to confiscate his estates, and to this he had so far yielded as to include his Irish property among the confiscated lands in that country. But King William himself desired to get possession of Pennsylvania. He did not like the precedent of a government established on a basis of peace, without any military provision, and early in 1692 an order in council was issued depriving William Penn of his government, and annexing it to that of New York. This was a dreadful blow, for in his settlement he had sunk all he could spare from the income he derived from his estates, in addition to what had originally been paid for it. But it was not from pecuniary considerations that his greatest trouble arose; his vested property might still to a certain extent be respected; it was the impending danger to all his plans for a just, free, and peaceful government which pained him most deeply. Yet, through all, hope never forsook him; he believed that his government would yet be restored, and his freedom also. But he would not suffer any of his friends to ask, as a favor from the King, for either the one or the other. They must be given him as his right, or not at all.

Towards the close of 1693 his personal liberty was restored by the King's order, the intelligence being conveyed through the Secretary of State. In writing to Thomas Lloyd, to inform him and his other Pennsylvania friends of the happy change, he says,

From the Secretary I went to our meeting at the Bull and Mouth then to visit the sanctuary of my solitude; and, after that, to see my poor wife and children, the eldest being with me all this while. My wife is yet weakly; but I am not without hopes of her recovery, who is one of the best of wives and women.

After William Penn's release, when the state of his affairs came ill all their details before him, it seemed hard fully to account for the statements of his confidential agent, Philip Ford. It was true his Irish estates had lately yielded nothing; the farms of his tenants had been ravaged during the war, and a state of general disorder was produced by the proposed confiscation. His title to the property had been restored, but rents did not soon follow. His English property had been managed by Philip Ford and his son, who, though professedly Quakers, were under that guise cunning, avaricious men. In his difficulty Penn appealed to America for his quit-rents, but little or no rents were sent him. To Colonel Fletcher, the Marshal Governor of New York, under whom Pennsylvania had been placed, the Provincial Assembly had on demand voted such supplies for maintaining the expenses of government, such as they had never granted to their own paternal ruler. Penn felt this deeply; but he also thought it likely that, having found out what others required of them, they would probably do better were he in his rightful position again. He therefore made an application to Queen Mary, the King being absent in Flanders, to reinstate him in the government of Pennsylvania. A close inquiry was instituted, his charter reexamined, the government of the province investigated, and it appearing evident that he had done nothing to invalidate his original chartered rights, they were restored to him.

{End of Maria Webb's version of Penn's troubles with William and Mary.

Site Editor's Comments : It hardly seem credible that Penn went into hiding from the government as Fisher has reported, but which Webb totally contradicts. Anytime George Fox heard a warrant was out on him, he immediately went to the court to answer the charges. Penn is recorded as doing the same. Hiding was not thought to be honest conduct by the early Quakers, and showed a lack of trust in the Lord's hand to control events to his glory. I think Maria Webb's version of events is far more likely.

It hardly seems credible that Penn could have actually conspired against the new king and queen. In any event, he seems at that time to have been treated as an object of suspicion. We can say that unless he had sacrificed a fundamental principle of Christianity and the Quakers,* he was certainly the unhappy victim of unscrupulous "informers." King William left England on a visit to the Hague, and in his absence another plot was discovered, this time to bring James over from France in the king's absence and seize London before the army could be ready to defend it. The plot was discovered before it had made any real headway. Bishop Burnet [an admitted enemy of Penn] said, "The men who laid this design were the Earl of Clarendon, the Bishop of Ely, the Lord Preston, and his brother Mr. Graham, and Penn, the famous Quaker."

*Early Quakers never opposed their governments. Here is Penn's statement:

.. so faith and patience succeeded fighting, in the doctrine and practice of these people. Nor should they be obnoxious to civil government for this, since they cannot fight for it, they cannot fight against it... But though they were not for fighting, they were for submitting to government, and not only for fear, but for conscience's sake, where Government does not interfere with conscience, believing it to be an ordinance from God, and where it is justly administered, a great benefit to mankind. (taken from William Penn's Introduction to George Fox's Journal)

And here is an excerpt from a letter from George Fox to Government officials in the time of their great persecution:

A Testimony from the people of God, whom the world calls Quakers,
to all government officials , from the highest to the lowest.

WE are peaceable, and seek the peace, and good, and welfare of all,
as in our lives and peaceable carriages is manifested,
and we desire the eternal good and welfare of all, and their souls' everlasting peace.
We are become heirs of the blessing before the curse was,
and of the power of God before the devil was, and before the fall of man.
We are heirs of the gospel of peace, which is the power of God;
and we are heirs of Christ, who have inherited him and his everlasting kingdom,
and do possess the power of an endless life.
Knowing this our portion and inheritance,
this is to take off all jealousies out of your minds,
and out of the minds of all people concerning us,
that all plots and conspiracies, plotters and conspirators against the king,
and all those who aid or assist any of the above, we always did and do utterly deny to be of us,
or to be of the fellowship of the gospel, of Christ's kingdom, or his servants.

The first four of these men were really guilty, and one of them, Preston, being actually caught with the papers in his possession, saved his life by turning state's evidence, and in his confession named William Penn as one of the conspirators. So Penn was included in the order for the arrest of all the traitors. There was nothing to prove Penn guilty. He did, however, send his brother-in-law to Henry Sydney, an old friend of his who was high in favor with King William. Sydney agreed to meet Penn and hear his side of the matter. The two men met, and afterward Sydney wrote to the king and told him what Penn had said. The sum of this was that Penn was really a loyal subject of William's. He said that he was not plotting and knew of no plot, and only asked that the king would grant him an interview so that he might clear himself.

Being busy in Ireland, the king could not see him at that time, and so Penn kept in concealment. A little later he wrote again to Sydney, urging him to beg the king not to believe all the unjust stories that were being spread concerning him. He said that he only desired to be allowed to live quietly in England or America, and added that the Quakers would vouch for his keeping quiet and doing no harm. He ended by saying that he felt that he had been very much mistreated, and that a less peaceable subject might almost have been driven to conspiracies by such hard usage. He did not dare, however, to give himself up for trial on any of the charges against him. He felt certain that he could explain away those charges if he might meet the king privately, but he would not stand an open trial in court. He said to Sydney, "Let me be believed and I am ready to appear; but when I remember how they began to use me in Ireland upon corrupt evidence before this business, and what some ill people have threatened here, besides those under temptation, and the providences that have successively appeared for my preservation under this retirement, I can not, without unjustifiable presumption, put myself into the power of my enemies."

There seems no doubt that, as his private residence at London could have easily been known, the king and queen had no desire to bring him to trial, believing his innocence; but that his name had been included in the warrant by some of the king's advisers for the sake of the effect on the public mind.

From the place of his seclusion he sent the following letter to the Yearly Meeting of Friends :

Third month 30th, 1691.


My unchangeable love salutes you, and though I am absent from you, I feel the sweet and lowly life of your heavenly fellowship, by which I am with you, and a partaker among you, whom I have loved above my chiefest joy. Receive no evil surmisings; neither suffer hard thoughts, through the insinuations of any, to enter your minds against me, your afflicted, but not forsaken, friend and brother. My enemies are yours, and, in the ground, mine for your sakes; and that God sees in secret, and will one day reward openly. My privacy is not because men have sworn truly, but falsely, against me; for wicked men have laid in wait for me, and false witnesses have laid to my charge things that I knew not; who have never sought myself, but the good of all, through great exercises; and have done some good, and would have done more, and hurt no man; but always desired that truth and righteousness, mercy, and peace, might take place among us. Feel me near you, and lay me near you, my dear and beloved brethren, and leave me not, neither forsake, but wrestle with Him that is able to prevail against the cruel desires of some; that we may yet meet in the congregations of his people, as in days past, to our mutual comfort. The everlasting God of his chosen, in all generations, be in the midst of you, and crown your most solemn assemblies with his blessed presence, that his tender, meek, lowly, and heavenly love and life, may flow among you, and that He would please to make it a seasoning and fruitful opportunity to you, desiring to be remembered of you before Him, in the nearest and freshest accesses, who cannot forget you in the nearest relation.

Your faithful friend and brother,

William Penn

In the meantime King William took away from him the government of his province of Pennsylvania, and the rents of his estates in Ireland were declared confiscated.

After some time he must have thought that the government might have become more friendly to him, for he tried to get Lord Rochester to make his peace with King William. He said that if the king would dismiss the charges against him, he would go back to Pennsylvania, although he would like first to go to Ireland and try to recover some of his ruined estates. There was now less fear of conspiracies of followers of James II. Three noblemen, Lords Rochester, Ranelagh, and Romney, the new title of his friend Henry Sydney, saw the king on Penn's behalf. William was willing to be lenient. So Penn was able to write this interesting letter to his friends in his American colony:

"This comes by the Pennsylvania Merchant, - Harrison, commander, and C. Saunders, merchant.

By them and this know, that it has pleased God to work my enlargement, by three Lords representing my case as not only hard, but oppressive; that there was nothing against me but what impostors, or those who are fled, or that have, since their pardon refused to verify (and asked me pardon for saying what they did), alleged against me; that they had long known me, some of them thirty years, and had never known me to do an ill thing, but many good offices; and that for not being thought to go abroad in defiance of the Government, I might and would have done it two years ago; and that I was, therefore, willing to wait to go about my affairs, as before, with leave; that I might be the better respected in the liberty I took to follow it.

King William answered, 'That I was his old acquaintance, as well as theirs; and that I might follow my business as freely as ever; and that he had nothing to say to me,' - upon which they pressed him to command one of them to declare the same to the Secretary of State, Sir John Trenchard, that if I came to him, or otherwise, he might signify the same to me, which he also did. The Lords were Rochester, Ranelagh, and Sydney; and the last, as my greatest acquaintance, was to tell the Secretary; accordingly he did; and the Secretary, after speaking himself, and having it from King William's own mouth, appointed me a time to meet him at home; and did with the Marquis of Winchester, and told me I was as free as ever; and as he doubted not my prudence about my quiet living, for he assured me I should not be molested or injured in any of my affairs, at least while he held that post. The Secretary is my old friend, and one I served after the Duke of Monmouth and Lord Russel's business. I carried him in my coach to Windsor, and presented him to King James; and when the Revolution came, he bought my four horses that carried us. It was about three or four months before the Revolution. The Lords spoke the 25th of November, and he discharged me on the 30th. "From the Secretary I went to our meeting, at the Bull and Mouth; there to visit the sanctuary of my solitude; and after that to see my poor wife and children; the eldest being with me all this while. My wife is yet weakly; but I am not without hopes of her recovery, who is of the best of wives and women."

So Penn appeared again in the full light of London; he began attending Quakers meetings at at the Bull and Mouth in St. Martin's almost immediately.

In favor of Penn, it should be said that those men who had implicated him in the two plots were mostly discredited later. Further, William, despite not being particularly fond of such a close friend as James, was obviously aware of his innocence, or he would not have so lightly treated his dismissal of any concern for Penn. So, Penn's actions were vindicated by the outcome: his supposed crimes were ignored and he was reinstated without much as a warning or a court appearance. None of these charges would have been made against Penn if the country had not been paranoid about the Catholic takeover of the country, yielding to the Pope; and with Penn's very visible and prominent friendship and counsel to James, plotting a counter-revolution with the aid of the French Catholic king, Penn was a marked target of very frightened and angry men.

At the time Penn obtained his freedom from William she had been for some time in very ill health, and about three months afterwards, February 23, 1693, she died. He has left a touching description of her death, too long to quote in full." She would not suffer me to neglect any public meeting after I had my liberty, upon her account, saying often, 'Oh, go, my dearest; do not hinder any good for me. I desire thee go; I have cast my care upon the Lord: I shall see thee again.'" When his gentle wife died, she left three children, Springett, William, and Letitia. They had been a devoted couple, and Penn found this loss a very hard one to bear.

The man who was now known in the world as the Great Quaker, Proprietor and Governor of his Majesty's Colony of Pennsylvania, was in a very sad plight, - his wife dead, his influence as a courtier worse than lost, his property wasted, and his high sounding province a source of cruel expense to him. He wanted to go at once to that province, but was faced by the humiliating condition that he could not scrape together enough money to take him there. He wrote a pathetic letter to his friends in the province, describing his losses, and asked that a hundred of the colonists should each lend him a hundred pounds for four years free of interest, and after four years with interest; his own bond to be given as security. I am sorry to be obliged to relate that there was not the slightest notice taken in Pennsylvania of this very reasonable request. Penn had said that if they would not lend him the whole £10,000 which he asked for, he would be satisfied if they would lend him as much as they could. But they never lent him a penny.

It may be said here, in partial explanation of this conduct, that Penn was not then popular in Pennsylvania. His attempt to govern the colony at a distance of three thousand miles through the disturbed reign of James II and the years that followed the revolution had been a failure. He had also lost caste among the Quakers. Many of them were in favor of King William rather than James, and Penn had now for many years appeared to have been deep in politics and a courtier's occupations, which was all inconsistent with the practice and principles of his people. They could excuse a great deal for the sake of his distinguished position and the good he had been able to do them, but he had gone entirely too far. There is no doubt that at this time they regarded him with coldness.

Penn had been deserted by a some of his people, which, added to the detestation in which he was held by the followers of William, made him almost an outcast of society. Clarkson implies that the Quaker disapproval of him was only because they believed “he had meddled more with politics or with the concerns of government than became a member of their Christian body."

Thomas Lower, a prominent Quaker and son-in-law of George Fox, prepared a paper for Penn to sign, in the hope of bringing about a reconciliation. In this he was to be made to say:

And if in any things during these late revolutions I have concerned myself either by words or writings (in love pity or good will to any in distress) further than consisted with Truth's honor or the Church's peace, I am sorry for it; and the government having passed it by I desire it may be by you also, that so we may be all kept and preserved in the holy tie. (Clarkson, vol. H. p. 15; Stoughton, P·210 .)

Apparently at least some of the Quakers, believed that Penn had gone wrong in the revolution. This is definitely not a statement of admission of wrong, which indicates that Lower was addressing controversy rather than censure. It is simply a statement of regret that some might consider what he did as wrong; it admits of no wrong doing - only a vague, if anything I did was wrong, (in hindsight), I am sorry. Even this, Penn did not agree to sign, at least immediately; but a year or two afterwards, in the summer of 1694, there was, according to Clarkson, a complete reconciliation, but the details are not available to report.

The Quakers as whole could not have been too upset with Penn, for when Fox died, long after James II had been deposed, Penn was selected to break the news of Fox's death to his wife, Margaret Fox, who was two-hundred miles distant at Swarthmore. It was also noted that when his death was announced in a Quaker meeting, the 'session was interrupted by the tears and groans of men of stature of Penn and Whitehead, people whose emotions were usually under tighter control.'

Penn having his property restored was somewhat cheering, but a source of anxious feeling arose in another direction. He was deeply concerned on noticing the health of his eldest son. Gulielma had left three children, Springett, William, and Letitia. Another daughter, Gulielma Maria, died in 1689; and now Springett, his father's most attached and devoted companion, seemed to be declining. Letitia was still but a child. William was generous, but was too much devoted to amusement and celebrant company. It was probably from these circumstances in his family that William Penn felt the necessity of choosing another wife. His second choice was Hannah, daughter of Thomas Callowhill, and granddaughter of Dennis Hollister, both eminent merchants of Bristol, and members of the Society of Friends. They were married in the spring of 1696. Springette died in a great sorrow to Penn.

Penn's son Springette was a very religious young man, and his father wrote a long account of his death. It is very touching and tender, and an interesting revelation of the workings of the Quaker mind falling back upon itself and communing by the inward way with God. It is supplied in the touching account of his death and character entitled, Sorrow and Joy in the Love and End of Springett Penn, from which the following extracts are taken:

One day he said to us, 'I am resigned to what God pleases. He knows what is best. I would live if it pleased Him, that I might serve Him; but oh! Lord, not my will but Thine be done!' When he told me he had rested well, and I said it was mercy, he quickly replied, with a serious yet sweet look, 'All is mercy, dear father.' Another time, when I went to meeting, he said, 'Remember me, my dear father, before the Lord. Though I cannot go to meetings, yet I have here many good meetings. The Lord comes in upon my spirit. I have heavenly meetings with Him by myself.' Not many days before he died, the Lord appearing by His holy power upon his spirit, on asking him at my return how he did, he told me, 'Oh! I have had a sweet time, a blessed time! great enjoyments! The power of the Lord overcame my soul!' Telling him how some of the gentry who had been to visit him were gone to their games and sports and pleasures, he said, in reference to the idea of such things bringing happiness, 'It is all stuff my dear father - sad stuff! Oh that I might live to tell them so!' 'Well, my dear child,' I replied, 'let this be the time of your entering into secret covenant with God, that if He raise you, you will dedicate your youth, strength; and life to Him, and His people and service.' He replied, 'Father, that is not now to do,' repeating, with great tenderness of spirit, 'It is not now to do.'

Being almost ever near him, and doing for him anything he wanted, he broke out with much love, 'My dear father, if I live I will make you amends.' Speaking to him of divine enjoyments that the eye of man saw not, but which the soul made alive by the spirit of Christ plainly felt, in lively remembrance he cried out, 'Oh! I had a sweet time yesterday by myself'! That the Lord has preserved me to this day, blessed be His name! my soul praises Him for His mercy.' Fixing his eyes upon his sister, he took her by the hand, saying, 'Poor Tishe, look to good things! Poor child, there is no comfort without it! One drop of the love of God is worth more than all the world. I know it; I have tasted it. I have felt as much, or more of the love of God in this weakness, than in all my life before.' At another time, as I stood by him he said, 'Dear father, sit by me! I love your company, and I know you love mine; if it be the Lord's will that we must part, be not troubled, for that will trouble me.'

Taking something one night in bed, just before going to rest, he sat up and fervently prayed thus, 'O! Lord God, you, whose Son said to His disciples, whatsoever you ask in my name ye shall receive, I pray to you in His name bless this to me this night, and give me rest, if it is your blessed will.' And accordingly he had a very comfortable night, of which he took thankful notice before us the next day, " When at one time more than ordinarily he expressed a desire to live, and entreated me to pray for him, he added, 'And, dear father, if the Lord should raise me, and enable me to serve Him and His people, then I might travel with you sometimes [meaning in the ministry] and we might ease one another.' He spoke this with great modesty; upon which I said to him, 'My dear child, if it please the Lord to raise you, I am satisfied it will be so; and if not, then, inasmuch as it is your fervent desire in the Lord, He will look upon you just as if you did live to serve Him, and your comfort will be the same. So either way it will be well for if you should not live, I verily believe you will have the recompense of you good desires, without the temptations and troubles that would attend if long life were granted you.'

Feeling himself decline apace, somebody fetched the doctor, but as soon as he came in he said, 'Let my father speak to the doctor, and I'll go asleep,' which he did, and woke no more, breathing his last on my breast, the tenth day of the Second month, between the hours of nine and ten, 1696, in his twenty-first year.

In the year 1697, William Penn removed with his family to Bristol, his wife's native place. The following spring he visited Ireland, taking with him his son William. They arrived in Dublin in due time to attend the half year's meeting. Thomas Story, who was also there on this occasion, speaks of it thus, "Great was the resort of people of all ranks and professions to our meetings; chiefly on account of our friend William Penn, who was ever furnished by the Truth with matter fully to answer their expectations. Many of the clergy were there, and the people with one voice spoke well of what they heard. Of the clergy the Dean of Derry was one, who being there several times, was asked by his bishop whether he heard anything but blasphemy and nonsense, and whether he took off his hat in time of prayer. He answered that "he heard no blasphemy nor nonsense, but the everlasting Truth, and did not only take off his hat at prayer, but his heart said Amen to what he heard." The language of these two dignitaries gives a fair idea of the variety of treatment and opinion which William Penn met with in Ireland as well as in England from the Episcopal church party.

He spent over three months in Ireland on that occasion, most of which time was occupied in gospel labor from place to place. A few weeks were devoted to the examination of his estates in the county of Cork; first those in the barony of Imokelly, in which was situated Shangarry castle, the scene of some memorable associations of his early days. What reminiscences that region must have awakened! The father and son afterwards proceeded to "the Barony of Ibaune and Barryroe, to view the rest of his estates in those parts."

At Cork and Bandon they had good meetings, attended by large numbers of all ranks and professions. Here they were informed, by letters from England, that during William Penn's absence a base attack had been made upon his character, even in the Yearly Meeting of London. "But this," says Thomas Story, "was done by a shameless and implacable party, being moved by envy at the honor and dignity which the Most High had been pleased to confer on him." He adds that, "soon after receiving those tidings, they had another large and crowded meeting at Cork, where all who had heard of the evil suggestions made at London might be assured that they sprang from a false and evil root, for the Lord was pleased to clothe William that day with majesty, holy zeal, and divine wisdom, to the great satisfaction of Friends, and the admiration and applause of the people."

Site Editor's Comment : How far the Quaker movement had already deteriorated is indicated by an attack on Penn in The Yearly Meeting even being allowed. A few short years before, such an attack on another member in a Yearly Meeting would have been unthinkable, violating the peace and unity of the society. This attack violated a fundamental principle of the Society: that no member should be attacked publicly in any meeting, unless first approached by one with reproof, failing that to be approached by two or three, failing that to be censured by the church. This was carefully spelled out in Jesus's instructions and Fox's letters, as the minimum requirements, and was the subject of the monthly meetings, with specific guidelines on how censure was to take place; limiting such decisions to the elders of each Assembly. And if the investigation showed a false report, the accuser was to be severely reprimanded. The fact that this attack took place in a Yearly Meeting, shows that the fabric of Quaker discipline was virtually gone; particularly when Penn was in Ireland preaching the gospel of Truth to thousands for three months at his own expense. The enemy was in the camp of the Lord, apparently unopposed; it was only a matter of time until the leaven affected the entire loaf. We have record of William Mead, an ancient Friend, having married one of Margaret Fell's daughters, who had stopped attending the Quaker meetings - leaving us to wonder if he could not continue to associate with such unruly spirits.

The" implacable party," to which Thomas Story alludes, were probably those to whom Gulielma Penn referred in her last letter to Margaret Fox, as "bad spirits," who had been disturbing the harmony of their meetings.

Soon after William Penn's return from Ireland, he began preparations for removing with his family to America. With this prospect his arrangements went forward during the early months of 1699. Of Gulielma's children only Letitia went with him. William was married, and he and his young wife chose to remain in England. The documents with which, in his capacity of a minister of the Society of Friends, he was furnished on this occasion, abundantly show, (as his American biographer, Samuel Janney, remarks), that he was in full unity with, and greatly beloved by his own fellow-professors. The certificate from the monthly meeting in Essex to which he had belonged for the greater part of his membership in the society, was copied by Janney from the records of Friends in Philadelphia.

From our Monthly Meeting held at Horsham, Old England, 14th 5th Mo. 1699.

To the churches of Christ in Pennsylvania and to all the faithful Friends and brethren unto whom this may come. In the covenant of life, and fellowship of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, and in the unity of the one eternal Spirit of our God, we dearly salute you, most earnestly desiring your everlasting prosperity in the blessed truth.

Now, dear friends and brethren, whereas our 'Worthy friend and elder, William Penn,' did acquaint our monthly Men's Meeting with his intended voyage into his province of Pennsylvania, and although we are truly sensible that be needs no letter or recommendation from us, yet at his request, and for the good order sake that God has established in His Church and among His people, and for the sincere love we bear to our well-beloved friend, we could do no less than give this small token of our unity and communion with him, as a testimony for him and his service in the Church or Christ, wherein he has been a blessed instrument in the hand of the Lord, both in his ministry and conversation, and has always sought the prosperity of the blessed truth, and of peace and concord in the Church, He has walked among us in all humility, godly sincerity, and true brotherly love, to our great refreshment and comfort; and has with much labour and great travail on all occasions endeavored the defence of Truth against its opposers, and the preservation of true unity and good order in the Church of Christ. So, in the unity or the one Eternal Spirit, which is the bond of true peace, we take our leave of him, with earnest breathings and supplications to the great God whom the winds and seas obey, that He would mercifully be pleased to go along with him, and conduct him by the angel of His divine presence to his desired port, and preserve him to the end of his days; and in the end, that he may receive an immortal crown, and be bound up in the bundle of life among those who have turned many to righteousness, who shine as the sun in the firmament of God's eternal power, forever and ever. Amen.

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