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Title: William Penn
Author: Hodges, George, 1856-1919
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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The Riverside Biographical Series

   GENERAL GRANT. (_In preparation_)
   LEWIS AND CLARK, by WILLIAM R. LIGHTON. (_In preparation_)

Each about 100 pages, 16mo, with photogravure portrait, 75 cents;
_School Edition_, 50 cents, _net_


The Riverside Biographical Series











   Boston: 4 Park Street; New York: 11 East Seventeenth Street
   Chicago: 378-388 Wabash Avenue

   The Riverside Press, Cambridge



   CHAP.                                                            PAGE


     II. AT OXFORD: INFLUENCE OF THOMAS LOE                            8



           EXPERIMENT                                                 53

           PROVINCE                                                   68






The mother of William Penn came from Rotterdam, in Holland. She was the
daughter of John Jasper, a merchant of that city. The lively Mr. Pepys,
who met her in 1664, when William was twenty years of age, describes her
as a "fat, short, old Dutchwoman," and says that she was "mighty
homely." He records a tattling neighbor's gossip that she was not a good
housekeeper. He credits her, however, with having more wit and
discretion than her husband, and liked her better as his acquaintance
with her progressed. That she was of a cheerful disposition is evidenced
by many passages of Pepys's Diary. That is all we know about her.

William's father was an ambitious, successful, and important person. He
was twenty-two years old, and already a captain in the navy, when he
married Margaret Jasper. The year after his marriage he was made
rear-admiral of Ireland; two years after that, admiral of the Straits;
in four years more, vice-admiral of England; and the next year, a
"general of the sea" in the Dutch war. This was in Cromwell's time, when
the naval strength of England was being mightily increased. A young man
of energy and ability, acquainted with the sea, was easily in the line
of promotion.

The family was ancient and respectable. Penn's father, however, began
life with little money or education, and few social advantages. Lord
Clarendon observed of him that he "had a great mind to appear better
bred, and to speak like a gentleman," implying that he found some
difficulty in so doing. Clarendon said, also, that he "had many good
words which he used at adventure."

The Penns lived on Tower Hill, in the Parish of St. Catherine's, in a
court adjoining London Wall. There they resided in "two chambers, one
above another," and fared frugally. There William was born on the 14th
of October, 1644.

Marston Moor was fought in that year, and all England was taking sides
in the contention between the Parliament and the king. The navy was in
sympathy with the Parliament; and the young officer, though his personal
inclinations were towards the king, went with his associates. But in
1654 he appears to have lost faith in the Commonwealth. Cromwell sent an
expedition to seize the Spanish West Indies. He put Penn in charge of
the fleet, and made Venables general of the army. The two commanders,
without conference one with the other, sent secret word to Charles II.,
then in exile on the Continent, and offered him their ships and
soldiers. This transaction, though it seemed for the moment to be of
none effect, resulted years afterward in the erection of the Colony of
Pennsylvania. Charles declined the offer; "he wished them to reserve
their affections for his Majesty till a more proper season to discover
them;" but he never forgot it. It was the beginning of a friendship
between the House of Stuart and the family of Penn, which William Penn

The expedition captured Jamaica, and made it a British colony; but in
its other undertakings it failed miserably; and the admiral, on his
return, was dismissed from the navy and committed to the Tower.

About that same time, the admiral's young son, being then in the twelfth
year of his age, beheld a vision. His mother had removed with him to the
village of Wanstead, in Essex. Here, as he was alone in his chamber, "he
was suddenly surprised with an inward comfort, and, as he thought, an
external glory in his room, which gave rise to religious emotions,
during which he had the strongest conviction of the being of a God, and
that the soul of man was capable of enjoying communication with him. He
believed, also, that the seal of Divinity had been put upon him at this
moment, or that he had been awakened or called upon to a holy life."

While William Penn the elder had been going from promotion to promotion,
sailing the high seas, and fighting battles with the enemies of England,
William Penn the younger had been living with all possible quietness in
the green country, saying his prayers in Wanstead Church, and learning
his lessons in Chigwell School.

Wanstead Church was devotedly Puritan. The chief citizens had signed a
protest against any "Popish innovations," and had agreed to punish every
offender against "the true reformed Protestant religion."

The founder of Chigwell School had prescribed in his deed of gift that
the master should be "a good Poet, of a sound religion, neither Papal
nor Puritan; of a good behaviour; of a sober and honest conversation; no
tippler nor haunter of alehouses, no puffer of tobacco; and, above all,
apt to teach and severe in his government." Here William studied Lilly's
Latin and Cleonard's Greek Grammar, together with "cyphering and
casting-up accounts," being a good scholar, we may guess, in the
classics, but encountering the master's "severe government" in his sums.
Chigwell was as Puritan a place as Wanstead. About the time of William's
going thither, the vicar had been ejected on petition from the
parishioners, who complained that he had an altar before which he bowed
and cringed, and which he had been known to kiss "twice in one day."

It is plain that religion made up a large, interesting, and important
part of life in these villages in which William Penn was getting his
first impressions of the world. All about were great forests, whose
shadows invited him to seclusion and meditation. All the news was of
great battles, most of them fought in a religious cause, which even a
lad could appreciate, and towards which he would readily take an
attitude of stout partisanship. The boy was deeply affected by these
surroundings. "I was bred a Protestant," he said long afterwards, "and
that strictly, too." Trained as he was in Puritan habits of
introspection, he listened for the voice of God, and heard it. Thus the
tone of his life was set. There were moments in his youth when "the
world," as the phrase is, attracted him; there were times in his great
career when he seemed, and perhaps was, disobedient to this heavenly
vision; but, looking back from the end of his life to this beginning,
"as a tale that is told," it is seen to be lived throughout in the light
of the glory which shone in his room at Wanstead. William Penn from that
hour was a markedly religious man. Thereafter, nothing was so manifest
or eminent about him as his religion.



On the 22d of April, 1661, we get another glimpse of William.

Mr Pepys, having risen early on the morning of that day, and put on his
velvet coat, and made himself, as he says, as fine as he could, repaired
to Mr. Young's, the flag-maker, in Cornhill, to view the procession
wherein the king should ride through London. There he found "Sir W. Pen
and his son, with several others." "We had a good room to ourselves," he
says, "with wine and good cake, and saw the show very well." The streets
were new graveled, and the fronts of the houses hung with carpets, with
ladies looking out of all the windows; and "so glorious was the show
with gold and silver, that we were not able to look at it, our eyes at
last being so overcome."

This was a glory very different from that which the lad had seen, five
or six years before, in his room. The world was here presenting its
attractions in competition with the "other world" of the earlier vision.
The contrast is a symbol of the contention between the two ideals, into
which William was immediately to enter.

The king and the Duke of York had looked up as they passed the
flag-maker's, and had recognized the admiral. He had gone to Ireland,
upon his release from the Tower, and had there resided in retirement
upon an estate which his father had owned before him. Thence returning,
as the Restoration became more and more a probability, he had secured a
seat in Parliament, and had been a bearer of the welcome message which
had finally brought Charles from his exile in Holland to his throne in
England. For his part in this pleasant errand, he had been knighted and
made Commissioner of Admiralty and Governor of Kinsale. Thus his
ambitions were being happily attained. He had retrieved and improved his
fortunes, and had become an associate with persons of rank and a
favorite with royalty.

He had immediately sent his son to Oxford. William had been entered as a
gentleman-commoner of Christ Church, at the beginning of the Michaelmas
term of 1660. It was clearly the paternal intention that the boy should
become a successful man of the world and courtier, like his father.

Sir William, however, had not reflected that while he had been pursuing
his career of calculating ambition and seeking the pleasure of princes,
his son had been living amongst Puritans in a Puritan neighborhood.
Young Penn went up to Oxford to find all things in confusion. The
Puritans had been put out of their places, and the Churchmen were
entering in. It is likely that this, of itself, displeased the new
student, whose sympathies were with the dispossessed. The Churchmen,
moreover, brought their cavalier habits with them. In the reaction from
the severity which they had just escaped, they did many objectionable
things, not only for the pleasure of doing them, but for the added joy
of shocking their Puritan neighbors. They amused themselves freely on
the Lord's day; they patronized games and plays; and they tippled and
"puffed tobacco," and swore and swaggered in all the newest fashions.
William was the son of his father in appreciation of pleasant and
abundant living. But he was not of a disposition to enter into this
wanton and audacious merry-making,--a gentle, serious country lad, with
a Puritan conscience.

Moreover, at this moment, in the face of any possible temptation,
William's sober tastes and devout resolutions were strengthened by
certain appealing sermons. Here it was at Oxford, the nursery of
enthusiasms and holy causes, that he received the impulse which
determined all his after life. He spent but a scant two years in
college; and the work of the lecture rooms must have suffered seriously
during that time from the contention and confusion of the changes then
in progress; so that academically the college could not have greatly
profited him. The profit came in the influence of Thomas Loe. Loe was a

The origin of the name "Quaker" is uncertain. It is derived by some
from the fact that the early preachers of the sect trembled as they
spoke; others deduce it from the trembling which their speech compelled
in those who heard it. By either derivation, it indicates the earnest
spirit of that strange people who, in the seventeenth century, were
annoying and displeasing all their neighbors.

George Fox, the first Quaker, was a cobbler; and the first Quaker dress
was the leather coat and breeches which he made for himself with his own
tools. Thereafter he was independent both of fashions and of tailors.
Cobbler though he was, and so slenderly educated that he did not express
himself grammatically, Fox was nevertheless a prophet, according to the
order of Amos, the herdman of Tekoa. He looked out into the England of
his day with the keenest eyes of any man of the times, and remarked upon
what he saw with the most honest and candid speech. A man of the plain
people, like most of the prophets and apostles, the offenses which
chiefly attracted his attention were such as the plain people naturally

Out of the windows of his cobbler's shop, Fox beheld with righteous
indignation the extravagant and insincere courtesies of the gentlefolk,
and heard their exaggerated phrases of compliment. In protest against
the unmeaning courtesies, he wore his hat in the presence of no matter
whom, taking it off only in time of prayer. In protest against the
unmeaning compliments, he addressed no man by any artificial title,
calling all his neighbors, without distinction of persons, by their
Christian names; and for the plural pronoun "you," the plural of dignity
and flattery, he substituted "thee" and "thou."

The same literalness appeared in his selection of "Swear not at all" as
one of the cardinal commandments, and in his application of it to the
oaths of the court and of the state. The Sermon on the Mount has in all
ages been considered difficult to enact in common life, but it would
have been hard to find any sentence in it which in the days of Fox and
Penn, with their interpretation, would have brought upon a conscientious
person a heavier burden of inconvenience. Not only did it make the
Quakers guilty of contempt of court and thus initially at fault in all
legal business, but it exposed them to a natural suspicion of disloyalty
to the government. It was a time of political change, first the
Commonwealth, then Charles, then James, then William; and every change
signified the supremacy of a new idea in religion, Puritan, Anglican,
Roman Catholic, and Protestant. Every new ruler demanded a new oath of
allegiance; and as plots and conspiracies were multiplied, the oath was
required again and again; so that England was like an unruly school,
whose master is continually calling upon the pupils to declare whether
or no they are guilty of this or that offense. The Quakers were
forbidden by their doctrine of the oath to make answer in the form which
the state required. And they suffered for this scruple as men have
suffered for the maintenance of eternal principles.

To the social eccentricity of the irremoveable hat and the singular
pronoun, and to the civil eccentricity of the refused oath, George Fox
and his disciples added a series of protests against the most venerable
customs of Christianity. They did away with all the forms and ceremonies
of Churchman and of Puritan alike. Not even baptism, not even the Lord's
Supper remained. Their service was a silent meeting, whose solemn
stillness was broken, if at all, by the voice of one who was sensibly
"moved" by the Spirit of God. They discarded all orders of the ministry.
They refused alike all creeds and all confessions.

Not content with thus abandoning most that their contemporaries valued
among the institutions of religion, the Quakers made themselves
obtrusively obnoxious. They argued and exhorted, in season and out of
season; they printed endless pages of eager and violent controversy;
they went into churches and interrupted services and sermons.

Amongst these various denials there were two positive assertions. One
was the doctrine of the return to primitive Christianity; the other was
the doctrine of the inward light. Let us get back, they said, to those
blessed centuries when the teaching of the Apostles was remembered, and
the fellowship of the Apostles was faithfully kept,--when Justin Martyr
and Irenæus and Ignatius and the other holy fathers lived. And let us
listen to the inner voice; let us live in the illumination of the light
which lighteth every man, and attend to the counsels of that Holy Spirit
whose ministrations did not cease with the departure of the last
Apostle. God, they believed, spoke to them directly, and told them what
to do.

George Fox, in 1656, had brought this teaching to Oxford; and among the
company of Quakers which had thus been gathered under the eaves of the
university, Thomas Loe had become a "public Friend," or, as would
commonly be said, a minister. When William Penn entered Christ Church
College, Loe was probably in the town jail. It is at least certain that
he was imprisoned there, with forty other Quakers, sometime in 1660.

To Loe's preaching many of the students listened with attention. It is
easy to see how his doctrines would appeal to young manhood. The fact
that they were forbidden would attract some, and that the man who
preached thus had suffered for his faith would attract others. Their
emphasis upon entire sincerity and consistency in word and deed would
commend them to honest souls, while the exaltation of the inward light
would move then, as in all ages, the idealists, the poets, the
enthusiasts among them. William Penn knew what the inward light was. He
had seen it shining so that it filled all the room where he was sitting.
Accordingly, he not only went to hear Loe speak but was profoundly
impressed by what he heard.

If Penn was naturally a religious person,--by inheritance, perhaps, from
his mother,--he was also naturally of a political mind, by inheritance
from his father. What Loe said touched both sides of this inheritance.
For the Quakers had already begun to dream of a colony across the sea.
The Churchmen had such a colony in Virginia; the Puritans had one in
Massachusetts; somewhere else in that untilled continent there must be a
place for those who in England could expect no peace from either
Puritan or Churchman. Not only had they planned to have sometime a
country of their own, but they had already located it. They had chosen
the lands which lay behind the Jerseys. While Loe was preaching and Penn
was listening, Fox was writing to Josiah Cole, a Quaker who was then in
America, asking him to confer with the chiefs of the Susquehanna
Indians. This plan Loe revealed to his student congregation. It appealed
to Penn. He had an instinctive appreciation of large ideas, and an
imagination and confidence which made him eager to undertake their
execution. It was in his blood. It was the spirit which had carried his
father from a lieutenancy in the navy to the position of an honored and
influential member of the court. "I had an opening of joy as to these
parts," he says, meaning Pennsylvania, "in 1661, at Oxford."

This meeting with Loe was therefore a crisis in Penn's life. William
Penn will always be remembered as a leader among the early Quakers, and
as the founder of a commonwealth. He first became acquainted with the
Quakers, and first conceived the idea of founding at Oxford, or
assisting to found, a commonwealth, by the preaching of Thomas Loe.

It is a curious fact that the spirit of protest will often pass by
serious offenses and fasten upon some apparently slight occasion which
has rather a symbolical than an actual importance. William Penn, so far
as we know, endured the disorders of anti-Puritan Oxford without
protest. He entered so far into the life of the place as to contribute,
with other students, to a series of Latin elegies upon the death of the
Duke of Gloucester; and he "delighted," Anthony Wood tells us, "in manly
sports at times of recreation." It is true that he may have written to
his father to take him away, for Mr. Pepys records in his journal, under
date of Jan. 25, 1662, "Sir W. Pen came to me, and did break a business
to me about removing his son from Oxford to Cambridge, to some private
college." But nothing came of it. William is said, indeed, to have
absented himself rather often from the college prayers, and to have
joined with other students whom the Quaker preaching had affected in
holding prayer-meetings in their own rooms. But all went fairly well
until an order was issued requiring the students, according to the
ancient custom, to wear surplices in chapel. Then the young Puritan
arose, and assisted in a ritual rebellion. He and his friends "fell upon
those students who appeared in surplices, and he and they together tore
them everywhere over their heads." Not content with thus seizing and
rending the obnoxious vestments, they proceeded further to thrust the
white gowns into the nearest cesspool, into whose depths they poked them
with long sticks.

This incident ended William's course at college. It is doubtful whether
he was expelled or only suspended. He was dismissed, and never returned.
Eight years after, chancing to pass through Oxford, and learning that
Quaker students were still subjected to the rigors of academic
discipline, he wrote a letter to the vice-chancellor. It probably
expresses the sentiments with which as an undergraduate he had regarded
the university authorities: "Shall the multiplied oppressions which thou
continuest to heap upon innocent English people for their religion pass
unregarded by the Eternal God? Dost thou think to escape his fierce
wrath and dreadful vengeance for thy ungodly and illegal persecution of
his poor children? I tell thee, no. Better were it for thee thou hadst
never been born." And so on, in the controversial dialect of the time,
calling the vice-chancellor a "poor mushroom," and abusing him
generally. Elsewhere, in a retrospect which I shall presently quote at
length, he refers to his university experiences: "Of my persecution at
Oxford, and how the Lord sustained me in the midst of that hellish
darkness and debauchery; of my being banished the college."



In his retrospect of his early life, Penn notes what immediately
followed his departure from the university: "The bitter usage I
underwent when I returned to my father,--whipping, beating, and turning
out of doors in 1662."

The admiral was thoroughly angry. He was at best but imperfectly
acquainted with his son, of whom in his busy life he had seen but
little, and was therefore unprepared for such extraordinary conduct. He
was by no means a religious person. For the spiritual, or even the
ecclesiastical, aspects of the matter, he cared nothing. But he had, as
Clarendon perceived, a strong desire to be well thought of by those who
composed the good society of the day. He expected the members of his
family to deport themselves as befitted such society. And here was
William, whom he had carefully sent to a college where he would
naturally consort with the sons of titled families, taking up with a
religious movement which would bring him into the company of cobblers
and tinkers. It is said, indeed, that Robert Spencer, afterwards Earl of
Sunderland, helped William destroy the surplices. But this is denied;
and even if it were true, it would be plain, from Spencer's after
career, that he did it not for the principle, but for the fun of the
thing. William was in the most sober earnest. Accordingly, the admiral
turned his son out of doors.

The boy came back, of course. Beating and turning out of doors were not
such serious events in the seventeenth century as they would be at
present. Most men said more, and in louder voices, and meant less. It
was but a brief quarrel, and father and son made it up as best they
could. It was plain, however, that something must be done. Whipping
would not avail. William's head was full of queer notions, upon which a
stick had no effect. His father bethought himself of the pleasant
diversions of France. The lad, he said, has lived in the country all his
days, and has had no acquaintance with the merry world; he shall go
abroad, that he may see life, and learn to behave like a gentleman; let
us see if this will not cure him of his pious follies.

Accordingly, to France the young man went, and traveled in company with
certain persons of rank. He stayed more than a year, and enjoyed himself
greatly. He was at the age when all the world is new and interesting;
and being of attractive appearance and high spirits, with plenty of
money, the world gave him a cordial welcome. So far did he venture into
the customs of the country, that he had a fight one night in a Paris
street with somebody who crossed swords with him, and disarmed his
antagonist. He had a right, according to the rules, to kill him, but he
declined to do so. When he came home, he pleased his father much by his
graceful behavior and elegant attire. "This day," says Mr. Pepys in his
diary for August 26, 1664, "my wife tells me that Mr. Pen, Sir William's
son, is come back from France, and came to visit her. A most modish
person grown, she says, a fine gentleman." Pepys thinks that he is even
a bit too French in his manner and conversation.

"I remember your honour very well," writes a correspondent years after,
"when you came newly out of France, and wore pantaloon breeches."

This journey affected Penn all the rest of his life. It restrained him
from following the absurder singularities of his associates. George
Fox's leather suit he would have found impossible. He wore his hat in
the Quaker way, and said "thee" and "thou," but otherwise he appears to
have dressed and acted according to the conventions of polite society.
He did, indeed, become a Quaker; but there were always Quakers who
looked askance at him because he was so different from them, able to
speak French and acquainted with the manners of drawing-rooms.

In two respects, however, his visit to France differed from that of some
of his companions in travel. There were places to which they went
without him; and there were places to which he went without them. He
kept himself from the grosser temptations of the country. "You have been
as bad as other folks," said Sir John Robinson when Penn was on trial
for preaching in the street.

"When," cried Penn, "and where? I charge thee tell the company to my

"Abroad," said Robinson, "and at home, too."

"I make this bold challenge," answered Penn, "to all men, women and
children upon earth, justly to accuse me with ever having seen me drunk,
heard me swear, utter a curse, or speak one obscene word (much less that
I ever made it my practice). I speak this to God's glory, that has ever
preserved me from the power of those pollutions, and that from a child
begot an hatred in me towards them."

He went away alone for some months to the Protestant college of Saumur,
where he devoted himself to a study of that primitive Christianity in
which, as Loe had told him, was to be found the true ideal of the
Christian Church. Here he acquired an acquaintance with the writings of
the early Fathers, from whom he liked to quote.

Thus he returned to England in 1664, attired in French pantaloon
breeches, and with little French affectations in his manner, but without
vices, and with a smattering of patristic learning. He was sent by his
father to study law at Lincoln's Inn. He was to be a courtier, and in
that position it would be both becoming and convenient to have some
knowledge of the law. Thus he settled down among the lawyers, and it
seemed for the moment as if his father had succeeded in his purpose. It
seemed as if the world had effectually obscured the other world.

There are two letters, written about this time from William to his
father, which show a pleasant mixture of piety with a lively interest in
the life about him. He has been at sea for a few days with the admiral,
and returns with dispatches to the king. "I bless God," he writes, "my
heart does not in any way fail, but firmly believe that if God has
called you out to battle, he will cover your head in that smoky day." He
hastened on his errand, he says, to Whitehall, and arrived before the
king was up; but his Majesty, learning that there was news, "earnestly
skipping out of bed, came only in his gown and slippers; who, when he
saw me, said, 'Oh! is't you? How is Sir William?'"

That was in May. Within a week the plague came. On the 7th of June,
1665, Mr. Pepys makes this ominous entry: "This day," he says, "much
against my will, I did in Drury Lane see two or three houses marked with
a red cross upon the doors, and 'Lord, have mercy,' written there; which
was a sad sight to me, being the first of the kind that, to my
remembrance, I ever saw." Day by day the pestilence increased, and
presently there was no more studying at Lincoln's Inn. Young Penn went
for safety into the clean country. There, among the green fields, in the
enforced leisure, with time to think, and the most sobering things to
think about, his old seriousness returned. The change was so marked that
his father, feeling that it were well to renew the pleasant friendship
with the world which had begun in France, sent him over to Ireland.

At Dublin, the Duke of Ormond, the Lord Lieutenant, was keeping a merry
court. William entered heartily into its pleasures. He resided upon his
father's estates, at Shannagarry Castle. He so distinguished himself in
the suppression of a mutiny that Ormond offered him a commission in the
army, and William was disposed to accept it. He had his portrait
painted, clad in steel, with lace at his throat. His dark hair is parted
in the middle, and hangs in cavalier fashion over his shoulders. He
looks out of large, clear, questioning eyes; and his handsome face is
strong and serious.

But the young cavalier went one day to Cork upon some business, and
there heard that Thomas Loe was in town, and that he was to preach. Penn
went to hear him, and again the spoken word was critical and decisive.
"There is a faith," said the preacher, "which overcomes the world, and
there is a faith which is overcome by the world." Such was the theme,
and it seemed to Penn as if every word were spoken out of heaven
straight to his own soul. In the long contention which had been going on
within him between the world and the other world, the world had been
getting the mastery. The attractions of a martial life had shone more
brightly than the light which had flamed about him in his boyhood. Then
Loe spoke, and thenceforth there was no more perplexity. Penn's choice
was definitely made.

In his account of his travels in Holland and Germany, written some ten
years after this crisis, Penn recurs to it in an address from which I
have already quoted. He was speaking in Wiemart, at a meeting in the
mansion-house of the Somerdykes, and was illustrating his exhortations
from his own experience. He passed in rapid review the incidents of his
early life which we have recounted. "Here I began to let them know," he
says, "how and where the Lord first appeared unto me, which was about
the twelfth year of my age, in 1656; how at times, betwixt that and the
fifteenth, the Lord visited me, and the divine impressions he gave me of
himself." Then the banishment from Oxford, and his father's turning him
out of doors. "Of the Lord's dealings with me in France, and in the time
of the great plague in London, in fine, the deep sense he gave me of the
vanity of this world, of the deep irreligiousness of the religions of
it; then of my mournful and bitter cries to him that he would show me
his own way of life and salvation, and my resolution to follow him,
whatever reproaches or sufferings should attend me, and that with great
reverence and tenderness of spirit; how, after all this, the glory of
the world overtook me, and I was even ready to give myself up unto it,
seeing as yet no such thing as the 'primitive spirit and church' upon
earth, and being ready to faint concerning my 'hope of the restitution
of all things.' It was at this time that the Lord visited me with a
certain sound and testimony of his eternal word, through one of them the
world calls Quakers, namely, Thomas Loe."

Struggling, as Penn was, against continual temptations to abandon his
high ideal, getting no help from his parents, who were displeased at
him, nor from the clergy, whose "invectiveness and cruelty" he
remembers, nor from his companions, who made themselves strange to him;
bearing meanwhile "that great cross of resisting and watching against
mine own inward vain affections and thoughts," the only voice of help
and strength was that of Thomas Loe. Seeking for the "primitive spirit
and church upon earth," he found it in the sect which Loe represented.
His mind was now resolved. He, too, would be a Quaker.



William now began to attend Quaker meetings, though he was still dressed
in the gay fashions which he had learned in France. His sincerity was
soon tested. A proclamation made against Fifth Monarchy men was so
enforced as to affect Quakers. A meeting at which Penn was present was
broken in upon by constables, backed with soldiers, who "rudely and
arbitrarily" required every man's appearance before the mayor. Among
others, they "violently haled" Penn. From jail he wrote to the Earl of
Orrery, Lord President of Munster, making a stout protest. It was his
first public utterance. "Diversities of faith and conduct," he argued,
"contribute not to the disturbance of any place, where moral conformity
is barely requisite to preserve the peace." He reminded his lordship
that he himself had not long since "concluded no way so effectual to
improve or advantage this country as to dispense with freedom [i. e. to
act freely] in all things pertaining to conscience."

Penn wrote so much during his long life that his selected works make
five large volumes. Many of these pages are devoted to the statement of
Quaker theology; some are occupied with descriptions of his colonial
possessions; some are given to counsels and conclusions drawn from
experience and dealing with human life in general; but there is one idea
which continually recurs,--sometimes made the subject of a thesis,
sometimes entering by the way,--and that is the popular right of liberty
of conscience. It was for this that he worked, and chiefly lived, most
of his life. Here it is set forth with all clearness in the first public
word which he wrote.

William's letter opened the jail doors. It is likely, however, that the
signature was more influential than the epistle; for his Quaker
associates seem not to have come out with him. The fact which probably
weighed most with the Lord President was that Penn was the son of his
father the admiral, and the protégé of Ormond. His father called him
home. It was on the 3d of September that William was arrested; on the
29th of December, being the Lord's day, Mrs. Turner calls upon Mr. and
Mrs. Pepys for an evening of cheerful conversation, "and there, among
other talk, she tells me that Mr. William Pen, who has lately come over
from Ireland, is a Quaker again, or some very melancholy thing; that he
cares for no company, nor comes into any."

Admiral Penn was sorely disappointed. Neither France nor Ireland had
availed to wean his son from his religious eccentricities. Into the
pleasant society where his father had hoped to see him shine, he
declined to enter. He said "thee" and "thou," and wore his hat.
Especially upon these points of manners, the young man and his father
held long discussions. The admiral insisted that William should refrain
from making himself socially ridiculous; though even here he was
willing to make a reasonable compromise. "You may 'thee' and 'thou' whom
you please," he said, "except the king, the Duke of York, and myself."
But the young convert declined to make any exceptions.

Thereupon, for the second time, the admiral thrust his son out of the
house. The Quakers received him. He was thenceforth accounted among them
as a teacher, a leader: in their phrase, a "public Friend." This was in
1668, when he was twenty-four years old.

The work of a Quaker minister, at that time, was made interesting and
difficult not only by the social and ecclesiastical prejudices against
which he must go, but by certain laws which limited free speech and free
action. The young preacher speedily made himself obnoxious to both these
kinds of laws. Of the three years which followed, he spent more than a
third of the time in prison, being once confined for saying, and twice
for doing, what the laws forbade.

The religious world was filled with controversy. There were discussions
in the meeting-houses; and a constant stream of pamphlets came from the
press, part argument and part abuse. Even mild-mannered men called each
other names. The Quakers found it necessary to join in this rough
give-and-take, and Penn entered at once into this vigorous exercise. He
began a long series of like documents with a tract entitled "Truth
Exalted." The intent of it was to show that Roman Catholics, Churchmen,
and Puritans alike were all shamefully in error, wandering in the
blackness of darkness, given over to idle superstition, and being of a
character to correspond with their fond beliefs; meanwhile, the Quakers
were the only people then resident in Christendom whose creed was
absolutely true and their lives consistent with it.

"Come," he says, "answer me first, you Papists, where did the Scriptures
enjoin baby-baptism, churching of women, marrying by priests, holy water
to frighten the devil? Come now, you that are called Protestants, and
first those who are called Episcopalians, where do the Scriptures own
such persecutors, false prophets, tithemongers, deniers of revelations,
opposers of perfection, men-pleasers, time-servers, unprofitable
teachers?" The Separatists are similarly cudgeled: they are "groveling
in beggarly elements, imitations, and shadows of heavenly things."

Presently, a Presbyterian minister named Vincent attacked Quakerism.
Joseph Besse, Penn's earliest biographer, says that Vincent was
"transported with fiery zeal;" which, as he remarks in parenthesis, is
"a thing fertile of ill language." Penn challenged him to a public
debate; and, this not giving the Quaker champion an opportunity to say
all that was in his mind, he wrote a pamphlet, called "The Sandy
Foundation Shaken." The full title was much longer than this, in the
manner of the time, and announced the author's purpose to refute three
"generally believed and applauded doctrines: first, of one God,
subsisting in three distinct and separate persons; second, of the
impossibility of divine pardon without the making of a complete
satisfaction; and third, of the justification of impure persons by an
imputed righteousness."

Penn's handling of the doctrine of the Trinity in this treatise gave
much offense. He had taken the position of his fellow-religionists, that
the learning of the schools was a hindrance to religion. He sought to
divest the great statements of the creed from the subtleties of mediæval
philosophy. He purposed to return to the Scripture itself, back of all
councils and formulas. Asserting, accordingly, the being and unity of
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, he so refused all the conventional phrases
of the theologians as to seem to them to reject the doctrine of the
Trinity itself. He did deny "the trinity of distinct and separate
persons in the unity of essence." If the word "person" has one meaning,
Penn was right; if it has another meaning, he was wrong. If a "person"
is an individual, then the assertion is that there are three Gods; but
if the word signifies a distinction in the divine nature, then the unity
of God remains. As so often happens in doctrinal contention, he and his
critics used the same words with different definitions. The consequence
was that the bishop of London had him put in prison. He was restrained
for seven months in the Tower.

The English prison of the seventeenth century was a place of disease of
body and misery of mind. Penn was kept in close confinement, and the
bishop sent him word that he must either recant or die a prisoner. "I
told him," says Penn, "that the Tower was the worst argument in the
world to convince me; for whoever was in the wrong, those who used force
for religion could never be in the right." He declared that his prison
should be his grave before he would budge a jot. Thus six months passed.

But the situation was intolerable. It is sometimes necessary to die for
a difference of opinion, but it is not advisable to do so for a simple
misunderstanding. Penn and the bishop were actually in accord. The young
author therefore wrote an explanation of his book, entitled "Innocency
with her Open Face." At the same time he addressed a letter to Lord
Arlington, principal secretary of state. In the letter he maintained
that he had "subverted no faith, obedience or good life," and he
insisted on the natural right of liberty of conscience: "To conceit," he
said, "that men must form their faith of things proper to another world
by the prescriptions of mortal men, or else they can have no right to
eat, drink, sleep, walk, trade, or be at liberty and live in this, to me
seems both ridiculous and dangerous." These writings gained him his
liberty. The Duke of York made intercession for him with the king.

Penn had occupied himself while in prison with the composition of a
considerable work, called "No Cross, No Crown." It is partly
controversial, setting forth the reasons for the Quaker faith and
practice, and partly devotional, exalting self-sacrifice, and urging men
to simpler and more spiritual living. Thus the months of his
imprisonment had been of value both to him and to the religious movement
with which he had identified himself. The Quakers, when Penn joined
them, had no adequate literary expression of their thought. They were
most of them intensely earnest but uneducated persons, who spoke great
truths somewhat incoherently. Penn gave Quaker theology a systematic and
dignified statement.

When he came out of the Tower, he went home to his father. The admiral
had now recovered from his first indignation. William was still, he
said, a cross to him, but he had made up his mind to endure it. Indeed,
the world into which he had desired his son to enter was not at that
moment treating the admiral well. He was suffering impeachment and the
gout at the same time. He saw that William's religion was giving him a
serenity in the midst of evil fortune which he himself did not possess.
He could appreciate his heroic spirit. He admired him in spite of

William then spent nearly a year in Ireland, administering his father's
estates. When he returned, in 1670, he found his Quaker brethren in
greater trouble than before. In that perilous season of plots and
rumors of plots, when Protestants lived in dread of Roman Catholics, and
Churchmen knew not at what moment the Puritans might again repeat the
tragedies of the Commonwealth, neither church nor state dared to take
risks. The reigns of Mary and of Cromwell were so recent an experience,
the Papists and the Presbyterians were so many and so hostile, that it
seemed unsafe to permit the assembling of persons concerning whose
intentions there could be any doubt. Any company might undertake a
conspiracy. The result of this feeling on the part of both the civil and
the ecclesiastical authorities was a series of ordinances, reasonable
enough under the circumstances, and perhaps necessary, but which made
life hard for such stout and frank dissenters as the Quakers. At the
time of Penn's return from Ireland, it had been determined to enforce
the Conventicle Act, which prohibited all religious meetings except
those of the Church of England. There was, therefore, a general
arresting of these suspicious friends of Penn's. In the middle of the
summer Penn himself was arrested.

The young preacher had gone to a meeting-house of the Quakers in
Gracechurch or Gracious Street, in London, and had found the door shut,
and a file of soldiers barring the way. The congregation thereupon held
a meeting in the street, keeping their customary silence until some one
should be moved to speak. It was not long before the spirit moved Penn.
He was immediately arrested, and William Mead, a linen draper, with him,
and the two were brought before the mayor. The charge was that they
"unlawfully and tumultuously did assemble and congregate themselves
together to the disturbance of the king's peace and to the great terror
and disturbance of many of his liege people and subjects." They were
committed as rioters and sent to await trial at the sign of the Black
Dog, in Newgate Market.

At the trial Penn entered the court-room wearing his hat. A constable
promptly pulled it off, and was ordered by the judge to replace it in
order that he might fine the Quaker forty marks for keeping it on. Thus
the proceedings appropriately began. William tried in vain to learn the
terms of the law under which he was arrested, maintaining that he was
innocent of any illegal act. Finally, after an absurd and unjust
hearing, the jury, who appreciated the situation, brought in a verdict
of "guilty of speaking in Gracious Street." The judges refused to accept
the verdict, and kept the jury without food or drink for two days,
trying to make them say, "guilty of speaking in Gracious Street to an
unlawful assembly." At last the jury brought in a formal verdict of "not
guilty," which the court was compelled to accept. Thereupon the judges
fined every juryman forty marks for contempt of court; and Penn and the
jurors, refusing to pay their fines, were all imprisoned in Newgate. The
Court of Common Pleas presently reversed the judges' decision and
released the jury. Penn was also released, against his own protest, by
the payment of his fine by his father.

The admiral was in his last sickness. He was weary, he said, of the
world. It had not proved, after all, to be a satisfactory world. He did
not grieve now that his son had renounced it. At the same time, he could
not help but feel that the friendship of the world was a valuable
possession; and he had therefore requested his patron, the Duke of York,
to be his son's friend. Both the duke and the king had promised their
good counsel and protection. Thus "with a gentle and even gale," as it
says on his tombstone, "in much peace, [he] arrived and anchored in his
last and best port, at Wanstead in the county of Essex, the 16th of
September, 1670, being then but forty-nine years and four months old."

The admiral's death left his son with an annual income of about fifteen
hundred pounds. This wealth, however, made no stay in his Quaker zeal.
Before the year was ended, he was again in prison.

Sir John Robinson, the lieutenant of the Tower, had been one of the
judges in the affair of Gracious Street. He had either taken a dislike
to Penn, or else was deeply impressed with the conviction that the young
Quaker was a peril to the state. Finding that there was to be a meeting
in Wheeler Street, at which William was expected, he sent soldiers and
had him arrested. They conveyed him to the Tower, where he was examined.
"I vow, Mr. Penn," said Sir John, "I am sorry for you; you are an
ingenious gentleman, all the world must allow you, and do allow you,
that; and you have a plentiful estate; why should you render yourself
unhappy by associating with such a simple people?" That was the
suspicious fact. Men in Robinson's position could not understand why
Penn should join his fortunes with those of people so different from
himself, poor, ignorant, and obscure, unless there were some hidden
motive. He must be either a political conspirator, or, as many said, a
Jesuit in disguise, which amounted to the same thing. "You do nothing,"
said Sir John, "but stir up the people to sedition." He required him to
take an oath "that it is not lawful, upon any pretense whatsoever, to
take arms against the king, and that [he] would not endeavour any
alteration of government either in church or state." Penn would not
swear. He was therefore sentenced for six months to Newgate. "I wish you
wiser," said Robinson. "And I wish thee better," retorted Penn. "Send a
corporal," said the lieutenant, "with a file of musqueteers along with
him." "No, no," broke in Penn, "send thy lacquey; I know the way to

William continued in prison during the entire period of his sentence, at
first in a room for which he paid the jailers, then, by his own choice,
with his fellow Quakers in the "common stinking jail." Even here,
however, he managed, as before, to write; and he must have had access to
books, for what he wrote could not have been composed without sight of
the authors from whom he quoted. The most important of his writings at
this time was "The Great Case of Liberty of Conscience once more briefly
Debated and Defended by the Authority of Reason, Scripture and

Being released from prison, Penn set out for the Continent, where he
traveled in Germany and Holland, holding meetings as opportunity
offered, and regaining such strength of body as he may have lost amidst
the rigors of confinement.

In 1672, being now back in England, and having reached the age of
twenty-seven years, he married Gulielma Maria Springett, a young and
charming Quakeress. Guli Springett's father had died when she was but
twenty-three years old, after such valiant service on the Parliamentary
side in the civil war that he had been knighted by the Speaker of the
House of Commons. Her mother, thus bereft, had married Isaac Pennington,
a quiet country gentleman, in whose company, after some search for
satisfaction in religion, she had become a Quaker. Pennington's
Quakerism, together with the sufferings which it brought upon him, had
made him known to Penn. It was to him that Penn had written, three years
before, to describe the death of Thomas Loe. "Taking me by the hand,"
said William, "he spoke thus: 'Dear heart, bear thy cross, stand
faithful for God, and bear thy testimony in thy day and generation; and
God will give thee an eternal crown of glory, that none shall ever take
from thee. There is not another way. Bear thy cross. Stand faithful for

It was in Pennington's house that Thomas Ellwood lived, as tutor to Guli
and the other children, to whom one day in 1655 had come his friend John
Milton, bringing a manuscript for him to read. "He asked me how I liked
it, and what I thought of it, which I modestly but freely told him; and
after some further discourse about it, I pleasantly said to him, Thou
hast said much here of _Paradise Lost_, but what hast thou to say about
Paradise found?" Whereupon the poet wrote his second epic.

Ellwood has left a happy description of Guli Springett. "She was in all
respects," he says, "a very desirable woman,--whether regard was had to
her outward person, which wanted nothing to render her completely
comely; or as to the endowments of her mind, which were every way
extraordinary." And he speaks of her "innocent, open, free
conversation," and of the "abundant affability, courtesy, and sweetness
of her natural temper." Her portrait fits with this description, showing
a bright face in a small, dark hood, with a white kerchief over her
shoulders. Both her ancestry and her breeding would dispose her to
appreciate heroism, especially such as was shown in the cause of
religion. She found the hero of her dreams in William Penn. Thus at
Amersham, in the spring of 1672, the two stood up in some quiet company
of Friends, and with prayer and joining of hands were united in

"My dear wife," he wrote to her ten years later, as he set out for
America, "remember thou hast the love of my youth, and much the joy of
my life; the most beloved, as well as the most worthy of all earthly
comforts. God knows, and thou knowest it. I can say it was a match of
Providence's making."

The Declaration of Indulgence, the king's suspension of the penalties
legally incurred by dissent, came conveniently at this time to give them
a honeymoon of peace and tranquillity. They took up their residence at
Rickmansworth, in Hertfordshire. In the autumn, William set out again
upon his missionary journeys, preaching in twenty-one towns in
twenty-one days. "The Lord sealed up our labors and travels," he wrote
in his journal, "according to the desire of my soul and spirit, with his
heavenly refreshments and sweet living power and word of life, unto the
reaching of all, and consolating our own hearts abundantly."

So he returned with the blessings of peace, "which," as he said, "is a
reward beyond all earthly treasure."



In 1673, George Fox came back from his travels in America, and Penn and
his wife had great joy in welcoming him at Bristol. No sooner, however,
had Fox arrived than the Declaration of Indulgence was withdrawn. It had
met with much opposition: partly ecclesiastical, from those who saw in
it a scheme to reëstablish relations between Rome and England; and
partly political, from those who found but an ill precedent in a royal
decree which set aside parliamentary legislation. The religious liberty
which it gave was good, but the way in which that liberty was given was
bad. What was needed was not "indulgence," but common justice. So the
king recalled the Declaration, and Parliament being not yet ready to
enact its provisions into law, the prisons were again filled with
peaceable citizens whose offense was their religion. One of the first to
suffer was Fox, and in his behalf Penn went to court. He appealed to the
Duke of York.

The incident is significant as the beginning of another phase of
William's life. Thus far, he had been a Quaker preacher. Though he was
unordained, being in a sect which made nothing of ordination, he was for
all practical purposes a minister of the gospel. He was the Rev. William
Penn. But now, when he opened the door of the duke's palace, he entered
into a new way of living, in which he continued during most of the
remainder of his life. He began to be a courtier; he went into politics.
He was still a Quaker, preaching sermons and writing books of
theological controversy; he gave up no religious conviction, and abated
nothing of the earnestness of his personal piety; but he had found, as
he believed, another and more effective way to serve God. He now began
to enter into that valuable but perilous heritage which had been left
him by his father, the friendship of royalty.

Penn found the duke's antechamber filled with suitors. It seemed
impossible to get into the august presence. But Colonel Ashton, one of
the household, looked hard at Penn, and found in him an old companion, a
friend of the days when William was still partaking of the joys of
pleasant society. Ashton immediately got him an interview, and Penn
delivered his request for the release of Fox. The duke received him and
his petition cordially, professing himself opposed to persecution for
religion's sake, and promising to use his influence with the king.
"Then," says Penn, "when he had done upon this affair, he was pleased to
take a very particular notice of me, both for the relation my father had
had to his service in the navy, and the care he had promised to show in
my regard upon all occasions." He expressed surprise that William had
not been to see him before, and said that whenever he had any business
with him, he should have immediate entrance and attention.

Fox was not set at liberty by reason of this interview. The king was
willing to pardon Fox, but Fox was not willing to be pardoned; having,
as he insisted, done no wrong. Penn, however, had learned that the royal
duke remembered the admiral's son. It was an important fact, and William
thereafter kept it well in mind. That it was a turning-point in his
affairs, appears in his reference to it in a letter which he wrote in
1688 to a friend who had reproached him for his attendance at court. "I
have made it," he says, "my province and business; I have followed and
pressed it; I took it for my calling and station, and have kept it above
these sixteen years."

Penn went back to Rickmansworth, and for a time life went on as before.
We get a glimpse of it in the good and wholesome orders which he
established for the well-governing of his family. In winter, they were
to rise at seven; in summer at five. Breakfast was at nine, dinner at
twelve, supper at seven. Each meal was preceded by family prayers. At
the devotions before dinner, the Bible was read aloud, together with
chapters from the "Book of Martyrs," or the writings of Friends. After
supper, the servants appeared before the master and mistress, and gave
an account of their doings during the day, and got their orders for the
morrow. "They were to avoid loud discourse and troublesome noises; they
were not to absent themselves without leave; they were not to go to any
public house but upon business; and they were not to loiter, or enter
into unprofitable talk, while on an errand."

With the canceling of the Indulgence, the persecution of the Quakers was
renewed. Their houses were entered, their furniture was seized, their
cattle were driven away, and themselves thrust into jail. When no
offense was clearly proved against them, the oath was tendered, and the
refusal to take it meant a serious imprisonment.

Under these circumstances, Penn wrote a "Treatise on Oaths." He also
addressed the general public with "England's Present Interest
Considered," an argument against the attempt to compel uniformity of
belief. He petitioned the king and Parliament in "The Continued Cry of
the Oppressed." "William Brazier," he said, "shoemaker at Cambridge, was
fined by John Hunt, mayor, and John Spenser, vice-chancellor, twenty
pounds for holding a peaceable religious meeting in his own house. The
officer who distrained for this sum took his leather last, the seat he
worked upon, wearing clothes, bed, and bedding." "In Cheshire, Justice
Daniel of Danesbury took from Briggs and others the value of one hundred
and sixteen pounds, fifteen shillings and tenpence in coin, kine, and
horses. The latter he had the audacity to retain and work for his own
use," and so on, instance after instance. Penn's acquaintance at court
and his friendships with persons of position never made him an
aristocrat. He was fraternally interested in farmers and cobblers, and
cared for the plain people. Quakerism, as he held it, was indeed a
system of theology which he studiously taught, but it was also, and
quite as much, a social and intellectual democracy. What he mightily
liked about it was that abandonment of artificial distinctions, whereby
all Quakers addressed their neighbors by their Christian names, and that
refusal to be held by formulas of faith, whereby they were left free to
accept such beliefs, and such only, as appealed to their own reason.

About this time he engaged in controversy with Mr. Richard Baxter.
Baxter is chiefly remembered as the author of "The Saints' Everlasting
Rest," but he was a most militant person, who rejoiced greatly in a
theological fight. Passing by Rickmansworth, and finding many Quakers
there,--to him a sad spectacle,--he sought to reclaim them, and thus
fell speedily into debate with Penn. The two argued from ten in the
morning until five in the afternoon, a great crowd listening all the
time with breathless interest. Neither could get the other to surrender;
but so much did William enjoy the exercise that he offered Baxter a room
in his house, that they might argue every day.

In 1677, having now removed to an estate of his wife's at Worminghurst,
in Sussex, Penn, in company with Fox, Barclay, and other Quakers, made a
"religious voyage" into Holland and Germany, preaching the gospel. His
journal of these travels is printed in his works. "At Osnaburg," he
writes, "we had a little time with the man of the inn where we lay; and
left him several good books of Friends, in the High and Low Dutch
tongues, to read and dispose of." Then, in the next sentence, he
continues, "the next morning, being the fifth day of the week, we set
forward to Herwerden, and came thither at night. This is the city where
the Princess Elizabeth Palatine hath her court, whom, and the countess
in company with her, it was especially upon us to visit." Thus they
went, ministering to high and low alike, in their democratic Christian
way making no distinction between tavern-keepers and princesses. As they
talked with Elizabeth and her friend the countess, discoursing upon
heavenly themes, they were interrupted by the rattling of a coach, and
callers were announced. The countess "fetched a deep sigh, crying out,
'O the cumber and entanglements of this vain world! They hinder all
good.' Upon which," says William, "I replied, looking her steadfastly in
the face, 'O come thou out of them, then.'" This journey was of great
importance as affecting afterwards the population of Pennsylvania. Here
it was that Penn met various communities "of a separating and seeking
turn of mind," who found in him a kindred spirit. When he established
his colony, many of them came out and joined it, becoming the
"Pennsylvania Dutch."

During these travels Penn wrote letters to the Prince Elector of
Heidelberg, to the Graf of Bruch and Falschenstein, to the King of
Poland, together with an epistle "To the Churches of Jesus throughout
the world." This was a kind of correspondence in which he delighted.
Like Wesley, after him, he had taken the world for his parish. He
considered himself a citizen of the planet, and took an episcopal and
pontifical interest in the affairs of men and nations. He combined in
an unusual way the qualities of the saint and the statesman. His mind
was at the same time religious and political. Accordingly, as he came to
have a better acquaintance with himself, he entered deliberately upon a
course of life in which these two elements of his character could have
free play. He applied himself to the task of making politics contribute
to the advancement of religion. Many men before him had been eminently
successful in making politics contribute to the advancement of the
church. Penn's purpose was deeper and better.

He came near, at this time, to getting Parliament to assent to a
provision permitting Quakers to affirm, without oath; but the sudden
proroguing of that body prevented it. In the general election which
followed, he made speeches for Algernon Sidney, who was standing for a
place in Parliament. He wrote "England's Great Interest in the Choice of
a New Parliament," and "One Project for the Good of England." The
project was that Protestants should stop contending one with another
and unite against a common enemy.

This was in 1679. The next year he took the decisive step. He entered
upon the fulfillment of that great plan, which had been in his mind
since his student days at Oxford, and with which he was occupied all the
rest of his life. He began to undertake the planting of a colony across
the sea.

Penn had already had some experience in colonial affairs. With the
downfall of the Dutch dominion in the New World, England had come into
possession of two important rivers, the Hudson and the Delaware, and of
the countries which they drained. Of these estates, the Duke of York had
become owner of New Jersey. He, in turn, dividing it into two portions,
west and east, had sold West Jersey to Lord Berkeley, and East Jersey to
Sir George Carteret. Berkeley had sold West Jersey to a Quaker, John
Fenwick, in trust for another Quaker, Edward Byllinge. These Quakers,
disagreeing, had asked Penn to arbitrate between them. Byllinge had
fallen into bankruptcy, and his lands had been transferred to Penn as
receiver for the benefit of the creditors. Thus William had come into a
position of importance in the affairs of West Jersey. Presently, in
1679, East Jersey came also into the market, and Penn and eleven others
bought it at auction. These twelve took in other twelve, and the
twenty-four appointed a Quaker governor, Robert Barclay.

Now, in 1680, having had his early interest in America thus renewed and
strengthened, Penn found that the king was in his debt to the amount of
sixteen thousand pounds. Part of this money had been loaned to the king
by William's father, the admiral; part of it was the admiral's unpaid
salary. Mr. Pepys has recorded in his diary how scandalously Charles
left his officers unpaid. The king, he says, could not walk in his own
house without meeting at every hand men whom he was ruining, while at
the same time he was spending money prodigally upon his pleasures. Pepys
himself fell into poverty in his old age, accounting the king to be in
debt to him in the sum of twenty-eight thousand pounds.

Penn considered his account collectible. "I have been," he wrote, "these
thirteen years the servant of Truth and Friends, and for my testimony's
sake lost much,--not only the greatness and preferment of the world, but
sixteen thousand pounds of my estate which, had I not been what I am, I
had long ago obtained." It is doubtful, however, if the king would have
ever paid a penny. It is certain that when William offered to exchange
the money for a district in America, Charles agreed to the bargain with
great joy.

The territory thus bestowed was "all that tract or part of land in
America, bounded on the east by the Delaware River, from twelve miles
northward of New Castle town unto the three and fortieth degree of
northern latitude. The said land to extend westward five degrees in
longitude, to be computed from the said eastern bounds, and the said
lands to be bounded on the north by the beginning of the three and
fortieth degree of northern latitude and on the south by a circle drawn
at twelve miles distance from New Castle, northward and westward, unto
the beginning of the fortieth degree of northern latitude, and then by
a straight line westward to the limits of longitude above mentioned."

This was a country almost as large as England. No such extensive domain
had ever been given to a subject by an English sovereign: but none had
ever been paid for by a sum of money so substantial.

On the 4th of March, 1681, the charter received the signature of Charles
the Second. On the 21st of August, 1682, the Duke of York signed a deed
whereby he released the tract of land called Pennsylvania to William
Penn and his heirs forever. About the same time, by a like deed, the
duke conveyed to Penn the district which is now called Delaware. Penn
agreed, on his part, as a feudal subject, to render yearly to the king
two skins of beaver, and a fifth part of all the gold and silver found
in the ground; and to the duke "one rose at the feast of St. Michael the

This association of sentiment and religion with a transaction in real
estate is a fitting symbol of the spirit in which the Pennsylvania
colony was undertaken. Penn received the land as a sacred trust. It was
regarded by him not as a personal estate, but as a religious possession
to be held for the good of humanity, for the advancement of the cause of
freedom, for the furtherance of the kingdom of heaven. He wrote at the
time to a friend that he had obtained it in the name of God, that thus
he may "serve his truth and people, and that an example may be set up to
the nations." He believed that there was room there "for such an holy



That Penn undertook the "holy experiment" without expectation or desire
of profit appears not only in his conviction that he was thereby losing
sixteen thousand pounds, but in his refusal to make his new estates a
means of gain. "He is offered great things," says James Claypole in a
letter dated September, 1681, "£6000 for a monopoly in trade, which he
refused.... He designs to do things equally between all parties, and I
believe truly does aim more at justice and righteousness and spreading
of truth than at his own particular gain." "I would not abuse His love,"
said Penn, "nor act unworthy of His providence, and so defile what came
to me clean. No, let the Lord guide me by His wisdom, and preserve me to
honour His name, and serve His truth and people, that an example and
standard may be set up to the nations."

So far removed was he from all self-seeking, that he was even unwilling
to have the colony bear his name. "I chose New Wales," he says,
recounting the action of the king's council, "being, as this, a pretty
hilly country,--but Penn being Welsh for head, as Pennanmoire in Wales,
and Penrith in Cumberland, and Penn in Buckinghamshire, the highest land
in England--[the king] called this Pennsylvania, which is the high or
head woodlands; for I proposed, when the secretary, a Welshman, refused
to have it called New Wales, Sylvania, and they added Penn to it; and
though I much opposed it, and went to the king to have it struck out and
altered, he said it was past, and he would take it upon him; nor could
twenty guineas move the under-secretary to vary the name, for I feared
lest it should be looked on as a vanity in me, and not as a respect in
the king, as it truly was, to my father, whom he often mentions with

The charter gave the land to Penn as the king's tenant. He had power to
make laws; though this power was to be exercised, except in emergencies,
"with the advice, assent, and approbation of the freemen of the
territory," and subject to the confirmation of the Privy Council. He was
to appoint judges and other officers. He had the right to assess custom
on goods laden and unladen, for his own benefit; though he was to take
care to do it "reasonably," and with the advice of the assembly of
freemen. He was, at the same time, to be free from any tax or custom of
the king, except by his own consent, or by the consent of his governor
or assembly, or by act of Parliament. He was not to maintain
correspondence with any king or power at war with England, nor to make
war against any king or power in amity with the same. If as many as
twenty of his colonists should ask a minister from the Bishop of London,
such minister was to be received without denial or molestation.

The next important document to be prepared was the Constitution, or
Frame of Government, and to the task of composing it Penn gave a great
amount of time and care. It was preceded by two statements of
principles,--the Preface and the Great Fundamental.

The Preface declared the political policy of the proprietor.
"Government," he said, "seems to me a part of religion itself, a thing
sacred in its institution and end." As for the debate between monarchy,
aristocracy, and democracy, "I choose," he said, "to solve the
controversy with this small distinction, and it belongs to all three:
any government is free to the people under it, whatever be the frame,
where the laws rule, and the people are a party to those laws." His
purpose, he says, is to establish "the great end of all government,
viz., to support power in reverence with the people, and to secure the
people from the abuse of power, that they may be free by their just
obedience, and the magistrates honourable for their just administration;
for liberty without obedience is confusion, and obedience without
liberty is slavery."

In a private letter, written about the same time, Penn stated his
political position in several concrete sentences which interpret these
fine but rather vague pronouncements. "For the matters of liberty and
privilege," he wrote, "I propose that which is extraordinary, and to
leave myself and successors no power of doing mischief, that the will of
one man may not hinder the good of an whole country; but to publish
these things now and here, as matters stand, would not be wise."

The Great Fundamental set forth the ecclesiastical policy of the
founder: "In reverence to God, the father of light and spirits, the
author as well as the object of all divine knowledge, faith and
workings, I do, for me and mine, declare and establish for the first
fundamental of the government of my province, that every person that
doth and shall reside there shall have and enjoy the free profession of
his or her faith and exercise of worship towards God, in such way and
manner as every such person shall in conscience believe is most
acceptable to God."

These principles of civil and religious liberty constituted the "holy
experiment." They made the difference between Penn's colony and almost
every other government then existing. In their influence and
continuance, until at last they were incorporated in the Constitution of
the United States, they are the chief contribution of William Penn to
the progress of our institutions.

   "All Europe with amazement saw
   The soul's high freedom trammeled by no law."

The Constitution was drawn up in Articles to the number of twenty-four,
and these were followed by forty Laws.

The Articles provided for a governor, to be appointed by the proprietor,
and for two legislative bodies, a provincial council and a general
assembly. The provincial council was to consist of seventy-two members.
Of these a third were elected for three years, a third for two, and a
third for one; so that by the end of the service of the first third, all
would have a three-year term, twenty-four going out and having their
places filled each year. The business of the council was to prepare
laws, to see that they were executed, and in general to provide for the
good conduct of affairs. The general assembly was to consist of two
hundred members, to be chosen annually. They had no right to originate
legislation, but were to pass upon all bills which had been enacted by
the council, accepting or rejecting them by a vote of yea or nay.

The Laws enjoined that "all persons who confessed the one almighty and
eternal God to be the Creator, Upholder, and Ruler of the world, and who
held themselves obliged in conscience to live peaceably and justly in
society, were in no ways to be molested for their religious persuasion
and practice, nor to be compelled at any time to frequent any religious
place or ministry whatever." All children of the age of twelve were to
be taught some useful trade. All pleadings, processes, and records in
the courts of law were to be as short as possible. The reformation of
the offender was to be considered as a great part of the purpose of
punishment. At a time when there were in England two hundred offenses
punishable by death, Penn reduced these capital crimes to two, murder
and treason. All prisons were to be made into workhouses. No oath was to
be required. Drinking healths, selling rum to Indians, cursing and
lying, fighting duels, playing cards, the pleasures of the theatre, were
all put under the ban together.

Penn's provincial council suggested the Senate of the United States. As
originally established, however, the disproportion of power between the
upper and the lower house was so great as to cause much just
dissatisfaction. The council was in effect a body of seventy-two
governors; the assembly, which more directly represented the people,
could consider no laws save those sent down to them by the council. The
Constitution had to be changed.

One of the good qualities of the Constitution was that it was possible
to change it. It provided for the process of amendment. That customary
article with which all constitutions now end appeared for the first time
in Penn's Frame of Government. Another good quality of the Constitution
was that it secured an abiding harmony between its fundamental
statements and all further legislation. "Penn was the first one to hit
upon the foundation or first step in the true principle, now the
universal law in the United States, that the unconstitutional law is

Whatever help Penn may have had in the framing of this legislation, from
Algernon Sidney and other political friends, it is plain that the best
part of it was his own, and that he wrote it not as a politician but as
a Quaker. It is an application of the Quaker principles of democracy and
of religious liberty to the conditions of a commonwealth. From beginning
to end it is the work of a man whose supreme interest was religion. It
is at the same time singularly free from the narrowness into which men
of this earnest mind have often fallen. Religion, as Penn considered it,
was not a matter of ordinances or rubrics. It was righteousness, and
fraternity, and liberty of conscience.

In this spirit he wrote a letter to the Indian inhabitants of his
province. "The great God, who is the power and wisdom that made you and
me, incline your hearts to righteousness, love, and peace. This I send
to assure you of my love, and to desire you to love my friends; and when
the great God brings me among you, I intend to order all things in such
a manner that we may all live in love and peace, one with another, which
I hope the great God will incline both me and you to do. I seek nothing
but the honour of his name, and that we, who are his workmanship, may do
that which is well pleasing to him.... So I rest in the love of God that
made us."

Now colonists began to seek this land of peace across the sea. A hundred
acres were promised for forty shillings, with a quit-rent of one
shilling annually to the proprietor forever. In clearing the ground,
care was to be taken to leave one acre of trees, for every five acres
cleared. All transactions with the Indians were to be held in the public
market, and all differences between the white man and the red were to be
settled by a jury of six planters and six Indians. Penn also counseled
prospective colonists to consider the great inconveniences which they
must of necessity endure, and hoped that those who went would have "the
permission if not the good liking of their near relations."

There were already in the province some two thousand people, besides
Indians,--a peaceable and industrious folk, mostly Swedes and English.
They had six meeting-houses; the English settlers being Quakers. They
lived along the banks of the Delaware. In the autumn of 1681, the ship
Sarah and John brought the first of Penn's emigrants, and in December
the ship Bristol Factor added others. In 1682, Penn came himself.

The journey at that time was both long and perilous. If it was
accomplished in two months, the voyage was considered prosperous. To the
ordinary dangers of the deep was added the terror of the smallpox.
Scarcely a ship crossed without this dread passenger. William,
accordingly, as one undertaking a desperate adventure, took a tender
leave of his family. He wrote a letter whose counsels might guide them
in case he never returned. "My dear wife and children," he said, "my
love, which neither sea, nor land, nor death itself can extinguish or
lessen towards you, most endearedly visits you with eternal embraces,
and will abide with you forever; and may the God of my life watch over
you, and bless you, and do you good in this world and forever." "Be
diligent," he advised his wife, "in meetings for worship and business,
... and let meetings be kept once a day in the family to wait upon the
Lord, ... and, my dearest, to make thy family matters easy to thee,
divide thy time and be regular; it is easy and sweet.... Cast up thy
income, and see what it daily amounts to, ... and I beseech thee to live
low and sparingly, till my debts are paid." As for the children, they
are to be bred up "in the love of virtue, and that holy plain way of it,
which we have lived in, that the world in no part of it get into my
family." They are to be carefully taught. "For their learning be
liberal, spare no cost." "Agriculture is especially in my eye; let my
children be husbandmen and housewives; it is industrious, healthy,
honest, and of good example." They are to honor and obey their mother,
to love not money nor the world, to be temperate in all things. If they
come presently to be concerned in the government of Pennsylvania, "I do
charge you," their father wrote, "before the Lord God and the holy
angels, that you be lovely, diligent and tender, fearing God, loving the
people, and hating covetousness. Let justice have its impartial course,
and the law free passage. Though to your loss, protect no man against
it; for you are not above the law, but the law above you. Live the lives
yourselves, you would have the people live."

Unhappily, of Guli's children, seven in number, four died before their
mother, and one, the eldest son, Springett, shortly after. Springett
inherited the devout spirit of his parents; his father wrote an
affecting account of his pious death. Of the two remaining, William fell
into ways of dissipation, and Letitia married a man whom her father
disliked. Neither of them had any inheritance in Pennsylvania.

Penn's ship, the Welcome, carried a hundred passengers, most of them
Quakers from his own neighborhood. A third part died of smallpox on the
way. On the 24th of October, he sighted land; on the 27th, he arrived
before Newcastle, in Delaware; on the 28th, he landed. Here he formally
received turf and twig, water and soil, in token of his ownership. On
the 29th, he entered Pennsylvania. Adding ten days to this date, to
bring it into accord with our present calendar, we have November 8 as
the day of his arrival in the province. The place was Upland, where
there was a settlement already; the name was that day changed to

Penn was greatly pleased with his new possessions. He wrote a
description of the country for the Free Society of Traders. The air, he
said, was sweet and clear, and the heavens serene. Trees, fruits, and
flowers grew in abundance: especially a "great, red grape," and a "white
kind of muskadel," out of which he hopes it may be possible to make
good wine. The ground was fertile. The Indians he found to be tall,
straight, and well built, walking "with a lofty chin." Their language
was "like the Hebrew," and he guessed that they were descended from the
ten lost tribes of Israel. Light of heart, they seemed to him, with
"strong affections, but soon spent; ... the most merry creatures that
live." Though they were "under a dark night in things relating to
religion," yet were they believers in God and immortality.

"I bless the Lord," he wrote in a letter, "I am very well, and much
satisfied with my place and portion. O how sweet is the quiet of these
parts, freed from the anxious and troublesome solicitations, hurries,
and solicitations of woeful Europe!"

In the midst of these fair regions, beside the "wedded rivers," the
Delaware and the Schuylkill, in the convenient neighborhood of quarries
of building stone, at a place which the Indians called Coaquannoc, he
established his capital city, calling it Philadelphia,--perhaps in
token of the spirit of brotherly love in which it was founded, perhaps
in remembrance of those seven cities of the Revelation wherein was that
primitive Christianity which he wished to reproduce.

Here he had his rowers run his boat ashore at the mouth of Dock Creek,
which now runs under Dock Street, where several men were engaged in
building a house, which was afterwards called the Blue Anchor Tavern.
Penn brought a considerable company with him. In the minutes of a
Friends' meeting held on the 8th (18th) of November, 1682, at
Shackamaxon, now Kensington, it was recorded that, "at this time,
Governor Penn and a multitude of Friends arrived here, and erected a
city called Philadelphia, about half a mile from Shackamaxon."
Presently, the Indians appeared. They offered Penn of their hominy and
roasted acorns, and, after dinner, showed him how they could hop and
jump. He is said to have entered heartily into these exercises, and to
have jumped farther than any of them.

The governor had already determined the plan of the city. There were to
be two large streets,--one fronting the Delaware on the east, the other
fronting the Schuylkill on the west; a third avenue, to be called High
Street (now Market), was to run from river to river, east and west; and
a fourth, called Broad Street, was to cross it at right angles, north
and south. Twenty streets were to lie parallel with Broad, and to be
named First Street, Second Street, and so on in order, in the plain
Quaker fashion which had thus entitled the days of the week and the
months of the year. Eight were to lie parallel with High, and to be
called after the trees of the forest,--Spruce, Chestnut, Pine. In the
midst of the city, at the crossing of High and Broad Streets, was to be
a square of ten acres, to contain the public offices; and in each
quarter of the city was to be a similar open space for walks. The
founder intended to allow no house to be built on the river banks,
keeping them open and beautiful. Could he have foreseen the future, he
would have made the streets wider. He had in mind, however, only a
country town. "Let every house be placed," he directed, "if the person
pleases, in the middle of its plot, as to the breadth way of it, that so
there may be ground on each side for gardens or orchards or fields, that
it may be a green country town, which will never be burnt and always

Among those houses was his own, a modest structure made of brick,
standing "on Front Street south of the present Market Street," and still
preserved in Fairmont Park. He afterwards gave it to his daughter
Letitia, and it was called Letitia House, from her ownership.

In the mean time, he was making his famous treaty with the Indians. Penn
recognized the Indians as the actual owners of the land. He bought it of
them as he needed it. The transfer of property thus made was a natural
occasion of mutual promises. As there were several such meetings between
the Quakers and the Indians, it is difficult to fix a date to mark the
fact. One meeting took place, it is said, under a spreading elm at
Shackamaxon. The commonly accepted date is the 23d of June, 1683. The
elm was blown down in 1810. There is a persistent tradition to the
effect that William was distinguished from his fellow Quakers in this
transaction by wearing a sky-blue sash of silk network. But of this, as
of most other details of ceremony in connection with the matter, we know

Penn gives a general description of his various conferences upon this
business. "Their order," he says, "is thus: the king sits in the middle
of a half-moon, and has his council, the old and wise, on each hand.
Behind them, or at a little distance, sit the younger fry in the same
figure." Then one speaks in their king's name, and Penn answers. "When
the purchase was agreed great promises passed between us of kindness and
good neighbourhood, and that the English and the Indians must live in
love as long as the sun gave light, ... at every sentence of which they
shouted, and said Amen, in their way." Some earnestness may have been
added to these assuring responses by the Indians' consciousness of the
fact that the advantages of the bargain were not all on one side. The
Pennsylvania tribes had been thoroughly conquered by the Five Nations.
There was little heart left in them. But their condition detracts
nothing from Penn's Christian brotherliness.

In some such manner the great business was enacted. "This," said
Voltaire, "was the only treaty between these people and the Christians
that was not ratified by an oath, and that was never broken." That it
was never broken was the capital fact. Herein it differed from a
thousand other treaties made before or since. In the midst of the long
story of the misdealings of the white men with the red, which begins
with Cortez and Pizarro, and is still continued in the daily newspapers,
this justice and honesty of William Penn is a point of light. That Penn
treated the Indians as neighbors and brothers; that he paid them fairly
for every acre of their land; that the promises which he made were ever
after unfailingly kept is perhaps his best warrant of abiding fame. Like
his constitutional establishment of civil and religious liberty, it was
a direct result of his Quaker principles. It was a manifestation of that
righteousness which he was continually preaching and practicing.

The kindness and courtly generosity which Penn showed in his bargains
with the Indians is happily illustrated in one of his purchases of land.
The land was to extend "as far back as a man could walk in three days."
William walked out a day and a half of it, taking several chiefs with
him, "leisurely, after the Indian manner, sitting down sometimes to
smoke their pipes, to eat biscuit and cheese, and drink a bottle of
wine." Thus they covered less than thirty miles. In 1733, the then
governor employed the fastest walker he could find, who in the second
day and a half marked eighty-six miles.

The treaty gave the new colony a substantial advantage. The Lenni
Lenape, the Mingoes, the Shawnees accounted Penn's settlers as their
friends. The word went out among the tribes that what Penn said he
meant, and that what he promised he would fulfill faithfully. Thus the
planters were freed from the terror of the forest which haunted their
neighbors, north and south. They could found cities in the wilderness
and till their scattered farms without fear of tomahawk or firebrand.
Penn himself went twenty miles from Philadelphia, near the present
Bristol, to lay out his country place of Pennsbury.

Ships were now arriving with sober and industrious emigrants; trees were
coming down, houses were going up. In July, 1683, Penn wrote to Henry
Sidney, in England, reminding him that he had promised to send some
fruit-trees, and describing the condition of the colony. "We have laid
out a town a mile long and two miles deep.... I think we have near about
eighty houses built, and about three hundred farms settled round the
town.... We have had fifty sail of ships and small vessels, since the
last summer, in our river, which shows a good beginning." "I am
mightily taken with this part of the world," he wrote to Lord Culpeper,
who had come to be governor of Virginia, "I like it so well, that a
plentiful estate, and a great acquaintance on the other side, have no
charms to remove; my family being once fixed with me, and if no other
thing occur, I am likely to be an adopted American." "Our heads are
dull," he added, "but our hearts are good and our hands strong."

In the midst of this peace and prosperity, however, there was a serious
trouble. This was a dispute with Lord Baltimore over the dividing line
between Pennsylvania and Maryland. By the inaccuracy of surveyors, the
confusion of maps, and the indefiniteness of charters, Baltimore
believed himself entitled to a considerable part of the territory which
was claimed by Penn, including even Philadelphia. The two proprietors
had already discussed the question without settlement; indeed, it
remained a cause of contention for some seventy years. As finally
settled, in 1732, between the heirs of Penn and of Baltimore, a line
was established from Cape Henlopen west to a point half way between
Delaware Bay and Chesapeake Bay; thence north to twelve miles west of
Newcastle, and so on to fifteen miles south of Philadelphia; thence due
west. The surveyors were Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon, and the line
was thus called Mason and Dixon's Line. This boundary afterwards parted
the free States from the slave States. South of it was "Dixie."

Penn now learned that Lord Baltimore was on his way to England to lay
the question before the Privy Council. The situation demanded William's
presence. "I am following him as fast as I can," he wrote to the Duke of
York, praying "that a perfect stop be put to all his proceedings till I
come." He therefore took leave of his friends in the province,
commissioned the provincial council to act in his stead, and in August,
1684, having been two years in America, he embarked for home.

On board the Endeavour, on the eve of sailing, he wrote a farewell
letter. "And thou, Philadelphia," he said, "the virgin settlement of
this province, named before thou wert born, what love, what care, what
service and what travail has there been to bring thee forth and preserve
thee from such as would abuse and defile thee! O that thou mayest be
kept from the evil that would overwhelm thee; that faithful to the God
of mercies in the life of righteousness, thou mayest be preserved to the
end. My soul prays to God for thee that thou mayest stand in the day of
trial, that thy children may be blessed of the Lord, and thy people
saved by thy power. My love to thee has been great, and the remembrance
of thee affects mine heart and mine eye. The God of eternal strength
keep and preserve thee to his glory and peace."



When Penn left the province in 1684, he expected to return speedily, but
he did not see that pleasant land again until 1699. The fifteen
intervening years were filled with contention, anxiety, misfortune, and
various distresses.

In the winter of 1684-85, Charles II. died, and the Duke of York, his
brother, succeeded him as James II. And James was the patron and good
friend of William Penn. But the king was a Roman Catholic. One of his
first acts upon coming to the throne was to go publicly to mass. He was
privately resolved upon making the Roman Church supreme in England. Penn
was stoutly opposed to the king's religion. In his "Seasonable Caveat
against Popery," as well as in his other writings, he had expressed his
dislike with characteristic frankness. That he had himself been accused
of being a Jesuit had naturally impelled him to use the strongest
language to belie the accusation. Nevertheless, William Penn stood by
the king. He sought and kept the position of favorite and agent of the
court. He upheld, and so far as he could, assisted, the projects of a
reign which, had it continued, would probably have contradicted his most
cherished principles, abolished liberty of conscience, and made an end
of Quakers.

This perplexing inconsistency, which is the only serious blot on Penn's
fair fame, appears to have been the result of two convictions.

He was sure, in the first place, of the honesty of the king; he believed
in him with all his heart. James had been true to the trust reposed in
him by William's father. He had befriended William, taking him out of
prison, increasing his estates, granting his petitions. "Anybody," said
Penn, "that has the least pretense to good-nature, gratitude, or
generosity, must needs know how to interpret my access to the king."
With his advance to the crown James's graciousness had increased. He
kept great lords waiting without while he conversed at leisure with the
Quaker. He liked Penn, and Penn liked him. In spite of the disparities
in their age, rank, and creed, William Penn and James Stuart were fast
friends, united by the bond of genuine affection.

It was characteristic of Penn to be blind to the faults of his friends.
He brought great troubles both upon himself and upon his colony by his
refusal to believe the reports which were made to him against the
character of men whom he had appointed to office: he was unwilling to
believe evil of any man. He fell into bankruptcy, and even into a
debtor's prison, by his blind, unquestioning confidence in the agent who
managed his business. His faith in James was of a piece with his whole
character. He appears to have been temperamentally incapable of
perceiving the unworthiness of anybody whom he liked.

Together with this conviction as to the king's honesty, and bound up
with it, was a like belief in the wisdom of the king's plan. The king's
plan was to remove all disabilities arising from religion. He purposed
not only to put an end to the laws under which honest men were kept in
prison, but to abolish the "tests" which prevented a Roman Catholic from
holding office. And, without tarrying for the action of a cautious
Parliament, his intention was to do these things at once by a
declaration of the royal will. All this was approved by William Penn.

That the laws which disturbed Protestant dissenters should be changed,
he argued at length in a pamphlet entitled "A Persuasion to Moderation."
Moderation, as he defined it, meant "liberty of conscience to church
dissenters;" a cause which, with all humility, he said, he had
undertaken to plead against the prejudices of the times. He maintained
that toleration was not only a right inherent in religion, but that it
was for the political and commercial good of the nation. Repression and
persecution, he said, drive men into conspiracies. The importing of
religious distinctions into the affairs of state deprives the country of
the services of some of its best men. His father, upon the occasion of
the first Dutch war, had submitted to the king a list of the ablest sea
officers in the kingdom. The striking of the names of nonconformists
from this list had "robbed the king at that time of ten men, whose
greater knowledge and valour, than any other ten of that fleet, had, in
their room, been able to have saved a battle, or perfected a victory."
As for a declaration of indulgence, Penn deemed it "the sovereign remedy
of the English constitution."

That the "tests" should be removed, he urged on James's behalf upon
William of Orange, to whom he went in Holland on an informal commission
from the king. William, by his marriage with James's daughter, was heir
apparent to the throne of England, and his consent was necessary to any
serious change of national policy. He insisted on the tests.
Theoretically, Penn was right. The ideal state imposes no religious
tests; every good citizen, no matter what his private creed may be, is
eligible to any office. Practically, Penn was wrong, as William of
Orange plainly saw. That prince, as appeared afterwards, was as zealous
for religious freedom as was Penn himself; but it was plain to him that
as matters stood at that time in England, it was necessary to enforce
the tests in order to prevent the rise of an ecclesiastical party whose
supremacy would endanger all that Penn desired. Penn, with his stout
faith in the king, could not see it. There were times, indeed, when he
was perplexed and troubled. "The Lord keep us in this dark day!" he
wrote to his steward at Pennsbury. "Be wise, close, respectful to
superiors. The king has discharged all Friends by a general pardon, and
is courteous, though as to the Church of England, things seem pinching.
Several Roman Catholics got much into places in the army, navy, court."
Nevertheless, the king's plan, as he understood it, gave assurance of
liberty of conscience, and the end of persecution for opinion's sake;
and he supported the king.

Under these conditions, misled by friendship, seeing, but not
perceiving, Penn persuaded himself that he could excellently serve God
and his neighbors by becoming a courtier. He took a house in London,
within easy distance of Whitehall, and visited the king daily. A great
many people therefore visited Penn daily; sometimes as many as two
hundred were waiting to confer with him. They desired that he would do
this or that for their good with the king. Most of them were Quakers;
many were in need of pardon, or were burdened by some oppression.

For example, Sir Robert Stuart of Coltness had been in exile as a
Presbyterian, and on his return found his lands in the possession of the
Earl of Arran. He brought his case to Penn. Penn went to Arran. "What is
this, friend James, that I hear of thee?" he said. "Thou hast taken
possession of Coltness's castle. Thou knowest that it is not thine."
"That estate," Arran explained, "I paid a great price for. I received no
other reward for my expensive and troublesome embassy to France, except
this estate." "All very well, friend James," said Penn, "but of this
assure thyself, that if thou dost 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 till matters are
adjusted, I will make it as many thousands out of thy way with the
king." Arran complied immediately.

Again, one day after dinner, as they were drinking a glass of wine
together, one of Penn's clients said, "I can tell you how you can
prolong my life." "I am no physician," answered William, "but prithee
tell me what thou meanest." The client replied that a good friend of
his, Jack Trenchard, was in exile, and "if you," he said, "could get him
leave to come home with safety and honour, the drinking now and then a
bottle with Jack Trenchard would make me so cheerful that it would
prolong my life." Penn smilingly promised to do what he could, and in a
month the two friends were drinking his good health.

This was the kind of business which he transacted. He had found a way
to be of eminent service to his neighbors, and especially to his Quaker
brethren, and he made the most of the opportunity. There is no evidence
that he departed from the disinterested life which he had previously
lived. He attended the court of King James, as he had undertaken the
settlement of Pennsylvania, not for what he could get out of it, but for
the good he could do by means of it. What he did, he tells us, was upon
a "principle of charity." "I never accepted any commission," he says,
"but that of a free and common solicitor for sufferers of all sorts and
in all parties." Neither is there any instance of his asking anything to
increase his own estate or position.

Indeed, he was losing money; for the expenses of life at court were
great. Worse still, he was losing his good name. His Quaker friends
found him hard to understand. It was true that he had cast in his lot
with them, and had suffered for their cause,--he was their great
theologian and preacher; but he seemed, nevertheless, to be still a
cavalier and a worldly person. They heard--though there was no truth in
the report--that he had set up a military company in Pennsylvania. They
saw with their own eyes that he lived in a style which must have seemed
to them altogether inconsistent with simplicity, and that he consorted
with courtiers. And they did not like it,--they said so frankly.

As for enemies, the king's favorite had many, inevitably. The lords who
waited in the antechamber while Penn was closeted with James did not
look pleasantly at him when he came out. The stout Protestants, who
hated the king's ways, and suspected the king's designs, could not
easily think well of one who was so closely in his counsels. One of
Penn's friends told him what these people said of him: "Your post is too
considerable for a Papist of an ordinary form, and therefore you must be
a Jesuit; nay, to confirm that suggestion, it must be accompanied with
all the circumstances that may best give it an air of probability,--as
that you have been bred at St. Omer's in the Jesuit College; that you
have taken orders at Rome, and there obtained a dispensation to marry;
and that you have since then frequently officiated as a priest in the
celebration of the mass, at Whitehall, St. James's, and other places."
It seems absurd enough to us, but many intelligent persons, even
Archbishop Tillotson of Canterbury, believed it. The detail of St. Omer
came, probably, from a confusion of the name with Saumur. The other
suspicions grew out of Penn's place in the favor of the king.

It seemed as if nothing could prejudice the king's matters in the eyes
of Penn. Monmouth's rebellion came, and the king's revenge followed.
Judge Jeffreys went on his bloody circuit. "About three hundred hanged,"
Penn wrote, "in divers towns of the west; about one thousand to be
transported. I begged twenty of the king." It was all bad, and one
regrets to find Penn concerned in it. Still, his twenty probably fared
better than their neighbors. It is likely that he sent them to be
colonists in Pennsylvania.

In the matter of the maids of Taunton, William seems clearly to have had
no part. A company of little schoolgirls, led by their teacher, had
marched in procession to celebrate the landing of Monmouth. For this
offense their parents were heavily fined, and the fines were given to
the queen's maids of honor. These ladies wrote to a "Mr. Penne" to get
him to collect them. Macaulay thought that this pardon-broker was
William Penn. It is flagrantly inconsistent with his character, and he
has been adequately vindicated by various writers. The agent in this
case was probably George Penne, a person in that business.

Penn's course is not so clear in the matter of the presidency of
Magdalen College. One of the steps in James's plan to change the
religion of England was to get a foothold for teachers of his faith at
the universities. He intended to capture Oxford and Cambridge. He had so
far succeeded at Oxford as to get possession of Christ Church and
University College, and, the presidency of Magdalen falling vacant, he
ordered the fellows to elect a man of his own choice. The fellows
refused to obey the order,--thereupon Penn, who had at first taken their
part with the king, advised them to surrender. "Mr. Penn," said Dr.
Hough, representing the fellows, "in this I will be plain with you. We
have our statutes and oaths to justify us in all that we have done
hitherto; but, setting this aside, we have a religion to defend, and I
suppose yourself would think us knaves if we would tamely give it up.
The Papists have already gotten Christ Church and University; the
present struggle is for Magdalen; and in a short time they threaten they
will have the rest."

To this Penn replied with vehemence: "That they shall never have, assure
yourselves; if once they proceed so far they will quickly find
themselves destitute of their present assistance. For my part, I have
always declared my opinion that the preferments of the Church should not
be put into any other hands but such as they are at present in; but I
hope you would not have the two universities such invincible bulwarks
for the Church of England, that none but they must be capable of giving
their children a learned education. I suppose two or three colleges will
content the Papists." Finally, the king's men broke down the doors,
turned out the professors and students, and gave the king his way. Penn
was thus the agent of tyranny; but he was an innocent agent. He made a
bad blunder; but he made it honestly and ignorantly. It was in accord
with his democratic ideas that the universities should be places of
instruction for all the people; he would have liked to see not only the
Roman Catholics, but all the great divisions of religion in England
represented there. And that fine idea misled him. To hold him guilty,
here or elsewhere, of malice or hypocrisy, is to misread his character.
He was simply mistaken,--mistaken in the king, mistaken in the
application of his own principles.

Meanwhile, the nation at large was making no mistake. The people saw
James as he was, and detected his designs upon the liberties of
England. At last, in April, 1688, he issued a Declaration of Indulgence.
He added insult to injury by ordering that it should be read in every
church in the realm. The seven bishops who protested were sent to the
Tower. Then the end came with speed. William of Orange was invited into
England. The nation welcomed him with acclamations. James fled before
him into France, where he lived the remainder of an inglorious life.

This was a hard change for William Penn, and he seems to have done
nothing to make it easier. There were courtiers who passed with
incredible swiftness from one allegiance to the other; he was not among
them. Others fled to France, but he stayed. He was arrested. In his
examination before the Privy Council he declared that he "had done
nothing but what he could answer for before God and all the princes in
the world; that he loved his country and the Protestant religion above
his life, and had never acted against either; that all he had ever aimed
at in his public endeavors was none other than what the king had
declared for [religious liberty]; that King James had always been his
friend, and his father's friend, and that in gratitude he himself was
the king's, and did ever, as much as in him lay, influence him to his
true interest." Penn was released.

The new king began his reign with the Toleration Act, which Parliament
passed in 1688, and from which dates the establishment of actual and
abiding religious liberty in England. Thus Penn's great purpose was
accomplished by one with whom he was not in accord. Sometimes a
political party adopts the projects for which its opponents have long
labored, and carries them out even more vigorously than they had been
planned originally. The initial reformers are glad that their ideals
have been realized, but their zeal must be uncommonly impersonal if the
success brings them quite so much joy as it logically ought. It is not
likely that the Toleration Act filled the soul of William Penn with
great jubilation. Indeed, we know that he insisted to the end of his
life that James, if he had been let alone, would have done all that
William did, and more too, and better.

The years which followed were full of trouble. Macaulay says that in
1689 Penn was plotting against the government; but the evidence does not
suffice to establish the fact. The Privy Council, in 1690, confronted
Penn with an intercepted letter to him from James, asking for help. But,
as Penn said, he could not hinder the king from writing to him. He
added, however, with characteristic boldness, that since he had loved
King James in his prosperity he should not hate him in his adversity. He
was again discharged.

In that same year, however, James invaded Ireland, and the situation of
his friends in England was thereby made increasingly difficult. Penn was
arrested with others, and in prison awaited trial for several months.
The result was as before,--he was found in no offense. But before a
month had passed, he learned that another warrant was out against his
liberty. Officers went to take him at the funeral of George Fox, but
arrived too late. By this time he had concluded that the path of
prudence was that which led into a wise retirement. He hid himself for
the space of three years. He was publicly proclaimed a traitor, and was
deprived of the government of his colony. He was "hunted up and down,"
he says, "and could never be allowed to live quietly in city or

Finally, the government were persuaded either that Penn was innocent, or
that no further danger was to be apprehended from him, and several
noblemen, interceding with the king, procured his pardon. They
represented his case, he says, as not only hard, but oppressive, there
being no evidence but what "impostors, or those that fled, or that have
since their pardon refused to verify (and asked me pardon for saying
what they did) alleged against me." The king announced that Penn was his
old acquaintance, and that he might follow his business as freely as
ever, and that for his part he had nothing to say to him.

Thus again, and at last, the political accusations against William Penn
came to nothing. He had been in a hard position as the faithful friend
of a dethroned monarch in a day when conspiracies were being made on
every hand. That he should have been suspected of treason was
inevitable. That in his unconcealed affection for James and disapproval
of William he said imprudent things is likely enough. Prudence was not
one of his virtues. He was never calculatingly careful of his own
welfare. But that he was ever untrue to William, or did any act, or
consented to any, which could reasonably be called treacherous, is not
only quite unproved, but is out of accord with the true William Penn as
he is revealed in his writings and in all his life. The only fault which
has been clearly established against him is that of liking James better
than he liked William. He was a stanch friend to his friend; that is the
sum of his offending, wherein the only serious regret is that his friend
was not more worthy of his steadfast and unselfish friendship. "At no
time in his life," says Mr. Fiske, "does he seem more honest, brave, and
lovable, than during the years, so full of trouble for him, that
intervened between the accession of James and the accession of Anne."



The thoughts with which Penn's mind was occupied during the years of
hiding appear in his book, "Some Fruits of Solitude." Robert Louis
Stevenson found a copy of it in a book-shop in San Francisco, and
carried it in his pocket many days, reading it in street-cars and
ferry-boats. He found it, he says, "in all places a peaceful and sweet
companion;" and he adds, "there is not a man living, no, nor recently
dead, that could put, with so lovely a spirit, so much honest, kind
wisdom into words."

"The author blesseth God for his retirement," so the book begins, "and
kisses the gentle hand which led him into it; for though it should prove
barren to the world, it can never do so to him. He has now had some time
he can call his own; a property he was never so much master of before;
in which he has taken a view of himself and the world, and observed
wherein he hath hit and missed the mark. And he verily thinks, were he
to live his life over again, he could not only, with God's grace, serve
him, but his neighbor and himself, better than he hath done, and have
seven years of his life to spare."

Government and Religion have the longest chapters in this volume of
reflections, as being the matters in which William was most interested.
"Happy that king," he says, "who is great by justice, and that people
who are free by obedience." "Where example keeps pace with authority,
power hardly fails to be obeyed, and magistrates to be honoured." "Let
the people think they govern, and they will be governed." "Religion is
the fear of God, and its demonstration good works; and faith is the root
of both." "To be like Christ, then, is to be a Christian." "Some folk
think they may scold, rail, hate, rob, and kill too: so it be but for
God's sake. But nothing in us, unlike him, can please him." So the book
goes, page after page, always serious and sensible, full of simplicity
and kindliness, cheerful and brotherly and unfailingly religious. It is
the work of one who is trying his best to live for his brethren and in
Christ's spirit.

Another significant writing of this period is Penn's "Plan for the Peace
of Europe." The calamities of the war then in progress on the Continent
gave him arguments enough for the desirableness of peace. The means of
peace is justice, and the means of justice is government. It is plain to
all that a state wherein any private citizen might avenge himself upon
his neighbor would be a place of confusion and distress. "For this cause
they have sessions, terms, assizes, and parliaments, to overrule men's
passions and resentments, that they may not be judges in their own
cause, nor punishers of their own wrongs." Penn proposes that the same
relation between peace and justice which is enforced between citizen and
citizen be also enforced between nation and nation. "Now," he says, "if
the sovereign princes of Europe ... for love of peace and order [would]
agree to meet by their stated deputies in a general Diet, Estates or
Parliament and there establish rules of justice for sovereign princes to
observe one to another; and thus to meet yearly, or once in two or three
years at the farthest, or as they shall see cause, and to be stiled, The
Sovereign or Imperial Diet, Parliament or State of Europe: before which
Sovereign Assembly should be brought all differences depending between
one sovereign and another that cannot be made up by private embassies
before the sessions begin; and that if any of the sovereignties that
constitute these imperial states shall refuse to submit their claim or
pretensions to them, or to abide and perform the judgment thereof and
seek their remedy by arms, or delay their compliance beyond the time
prefixt in their resolutions, all the other sovereignties, united as one
strength, shall compel the submission and performance of the sentence,
with damages to the suffering party, and charges to the sovereignties
that obliged their submission; ... peace would be procured and
continued in Europe." The principle of international arbitration, the
Conference at the Hague, and all like meetings which shall be held
hereafter, are thus foreshadowed.

These two productions of Penn's season of retirement--the "Fruits of
Solitude," and the "Plan for the Peace of Europe"--illustrate again the
two qualities which make him singularly eminent among the founders of
commonwealths. He was at once a philosopher and a statesman; he was
interested alike in religion and in politics. There have been many
politicians to whom religion has been of no concern. There have been
many religious persons in high positions who have been so shut in by
church walls that they have been incapable of a wider outlook; they have
accordingly been narrow, prejudiced, and often unpractical people; they
have been blind to the elemental social fact of difference; they have
hated the thought of toleration. Penn was almost alone among the good
men of our era of colonization in being at the same time a man of the
world and a man of the other world.

Penn came out of his exile in 1693 burdened with misfortune. He had been
deprived of his government; he was sadly in debt; he had lost many of
his friends. His colonists in Pennsylvania declined to lend him money.
His brethren in England drew up a confession of wrong-doing for him to
sign: "If in any things during those late revolutions I have concerned
myself either by words or writings, in love, pity or good will to any in
distress [meaning the king] further than consisted with Truth's honor or
the Church's peace, I am sorry for it." But he would not sign. To these
troubles was added a greater grief in the death of his wife. "An
excellent wife and mother," he said of her, "an entire and constant
friend, of a more than common capacity, and greater modesty and
humility; yet most equal and undaunted in danger." A brave soul, no
doubt, as befitted her parentage, and of a devout and consecrated

But William was ever of a serene and cheerful disposition. Neither loss,
nor disappointment, nor bereavement could shut out the sun. His
religious faith strengthened him. "We must needs disorder ourselves," he
had written in his "Fruits of Solitude," "if we only look at our losses.
But if we consider how little we deserve what is left, our passions will
cool, and our murmurs will turn into thankfulness." "Though our
Saviour's passion is over, his compassion is not. That never fails his
humble, sincere disciples; in him they find more than all that they lose
in the world."

During the six years which followed, this strong confidence was
justified. He regained his government and his good name. He also married
a second wife, Hannah Callowhill, a strong, sensible, and estimable
Quaker lady of some means, living in Bristol.

The only satisfactory information as to the personal appearance of Penn
in mature life is that which is given by Sylvanus Bevan. Bevan was a
Quaker apothecary in London, who had a remarkable gift for carving
portraits in ivory. After Penn's death, he made such a portrait of him
from memory. The men who had known William liked it greatly. Lord
Cobham, to whom Bevan sent it, said, "It is William Penn himself." It
represents him in a curled wig, with full cheeks and a double chin--a
pleasant, masterful, and serious person. Clarkson says that in his
attire he was "very neat, though plain." Penn advised his children to
choose clothes "neither unshapely nor fantastical;" and he illustrated
to King James the difference between the Roman Catholic and the Quaker
religions by the difference between his hat and the king's. "The only
difference," he said, "lies in the ornaments that have been added to
thine." His dress was probably that which was common to gentlemen in his
day, but without extremes of color or adornment. For some time after
becoming a Quaker he wore his sword, having consulted Fox, who said, "I
advise thee to wear it as long as thou canst." Presently Fox, seeing him
without it, said, "William, where is thy sword?" To which Penn replied,
"I have taken thy advice: I wore it as long as I could."

The sober cheerfulness of Penn's attire comported well with his
conversation. It is true that Bishop Burnet, who did not like him, says
that "he had a tedious, luscious way of talking, not apt to overcome a
man's reason, though it might tire his patience." But Dean Swift enjoyed
him, and testified that "he talked very agreeably and with great
spirit." The Friends of Reading Meeting even noted that he was
"facetious in conversation," and there is a tradition of a venerable
Friend who spoke of him "as having naturally an excess of levity of
spirit for a grave minister." A handsome, graceful, and even a merry
gentleman it was who married Hannah Callowhill.

For a time he devoted himself again to the work of the ministry. He went
about, as in former days, preaching, sometimes in the market-hall,
sometimes in the fields. Once, in Ireland, the bishop sent an officer to
disperse the meeting, complaining that Penn had left him "nobody to
preach to but the mayor, church-wardens, a few of the constables, and
the bare walls."

His heart, however, was in his province. The affairs of Pennsylvania
had been going badly. There had been a hot contention between the
council and the assembly, and another between the province and the
territory. The officials, too, whom Penn had appointed, had quarreled
among themselves. William complained that they were excessively
"governmentish;" meaning that they liked authority and that they took
details very seriously. The situation, however, was inevitably
difficult. In his relation to the king, the governor was a feudal
sovereign; in his relation to the people he was, by Penn's arrangement,
the executive of a democracy. Penn himself reconciled the two positions
by his own tact and unselfishness, as well as by a certain masterfulness
to which those about him instinctively and willingly yielded. He proved
the motto of his book-plate, _Dum Clavum Teneam_; all went well while he
with his own hands held the helm. But his deputies were not so
competent. The colony fell into two parties, the proprietary and the
popular, representing these two ideas. Then the governor whom the king
had appointed during Penn's retirement was a soldier, and his
un-Quakerlike notions as to the right conduct of a colony brought a new
element of confusion into affairs which were already sufficiently

At last, in 1699, it became possible for the founder to make another
visit to his province. He brought his family with him, evidently
intending to stay. Philadelphia was now a city of some seven hundred
houses, and had nearly seven thousand inhabitants. The people were at
that moment in deep depression, having just been visited with a plague
of yellow fever. The pestilence, however, had abated, and Penn was
received with sober rejoicings. He took up his residence in the
"slate-roof house," a modest mansion which stood on the corner of Second
Street and Norris Alley; it was pulled down in 1867.

Now began a season of good government. The business of piracy had for
some time been merrily carried on by various enterprising persons, some
of whom lived very respectably in Philadelphia. William put a stop to
it. The importing of slaves from Africa was at that time considered by
most persons to be a good thing both for the planters and for the
slaves. Already, however, at the Pennsylvania yearly meeting of Friends
in 1688, some who came from Kriesheim, in Germany, had protested against

   "Who first of all their testimonial gave
   Against the oppressor, for the outcast slave."

And, in consequence, though slaves were still imported, they were
humanely treated. Penn interested himself in the improvement of their
condition. He was also concerned in the progress of the prison reforms
which he had proposed in the original establishment of the colony. He
employed a watchman to cry the news, the weather, and the time of day in
the Philadelphia streets. Regarding the Constitution, about which there
had been so much contention, he addressed the council and the assembly
in terms of characteristic friendliness. "Friends," he said, "if in the
Constitution by charter there be anything that jars, alter it. If you
want a law for this or that, prepare it." He advised them, however, not
to trifle with government, and wished there were no need to have any
government at all. In general, he said, the fewer laws, the better. The
result was a new Constitution. It provided that the council should be
appointed by the governor, and that the assembly should have the right
to originate laws. It was more simple and workable than the previous
legislation, and lasted until the Revolution.

Meanwhile, Penn was journeying about the country in his old way,
preaching. At Merion, a small boy of the family where he was
entertained, being much impressed with the great man's looks and speech,
peeped through the latchet-hole of his chamber door, and both saw and
heard him at his prayers. Near Haverford, a small girl, walking along
the country road, was overtaken by the governor, who took her up behind
him on his horse, and so carried her on her way, her bare feet dangling
by the horse's side.

Clarkson, the chief of the biographers of Penn, who collected these and
other incidents, gives us a glimpse of him as he appeared at this time
at Quaker meetings. "He was of such humility that he used generally to
sit at the lowest end of the space allotted to ministers, always taking
care to place above himself poor ministers, and those who appeared to
him to be peculiarly gifted." He liked to encourage young men to speak.
When he himself spoke, it was in the simplest words, easy to be
understood, and with many homely illustrations. At the same time, on
state occasions, as the proprietor of Pennsylvania and representative of
the sovereign, he used some ceremony, marching through the Philadelphia
streets to the opening of the assembly with a mace-bearer before him,
and having an officer standing at his gate on audience days, with a long
staff tipped with silver. Acquainted with affairs, and with a knowledge
of the relations between government and human nature drawn from a wide
experience, he knew the distinction, at which some of his Quaker
brethren stumbled, between personal humility and the proper dignity of
official station.

In the intervals left him by the demands of church and state, he busied
himself with the improvement of his place at Pennsbury. Here he had a
considerable house in the midst of pleasant gardens. He took great
pleasure in personal superintendence of the grounds and buildings,
planting vines and cutting vistas through the trees. "The country is to
be preferred," he wrote in "Fruits of Solitude." "The country is both
the philosopher's garden and library, in which he reads and contemplates
the power, wisdom, and goodness of God." "The knowledge and improvement
of it," he declared, is "man's oldest business and trade, and the best
he can be of."

Within were silver plate and satin curtains, and embroidered chairs and
couches. The proprietor's bed was covered with a "quilt of white Holland
quilted in green silk by Letitia," his daughter. "Send up," he writes to
James Logan, at Philadelphia, "our great stewpan and cover, and little
soup dish, and two or three pounds of coffee if sold in town, and three
pounds of wicks ready for candles." Mrs. Penn asks Logan to provide
"candlesticks, and great candles, some green ones, and pewter and
earthen basins, mops, salts, looking-glass, a piece of dried beef, and a
firkin or two of good butter."

Penn rode a large white horse, and had a coach, with a black man to
drive it, and a "rattling leathern conveniency," probably smaller, and a
sedan chair for Mrs. Penn. In the river lay the barge, of which William
was so fond that he wrote from England to charge that it be carefully
looked after. Somebody expressed surprise one day when Penn went out in
it against wind and tide. "I have been sailing all my life against wind
and tide," he said.

Much of the work of the estate was done by slaves. The fact troubled the
proprietor's conscience. He laid it upon his own soul, as he did upon
the souls of his brethren in the colony, "to be very careful in
discharging a good conscience towards them in all respects, but more
especially for the good of their souls, that they might, as frequent as
may be, come to meeting on first-days." A special meeting was appointed
for slaves once a month, and their masters were expected to come with
them. Finally, Penn liberated all his slaves. In his will of 1701, "I
give," he says, "to my blacks their freedom, as is under my hand
already, and to old Sam 100 acres, to be his children's after he and his
wife are dead, forever."

The Pennsbury house had a great hall in the midst, where the governor in
an oak armchair received his neighbors, the Indians. Here they came, in
paint and feathers,--"Connoondaghtoh, king of the Susquehannah Indians;
Wopaththa, king of the Shawanese; Weewinjough, chief of the Ganawese;
and Ahookassong, brother of the emperor of the five nations;" and many
other humbler braves. John Richardson, a Yorkshire Quaker, visited Penn
at Pennsbury and saw them. William gave them match-coats, he says, and
"some other things," including a reasonable supply of rum, which the
chiefs dispensed to the warriors severally in small portions: "So they
came quietly, and in a solid manner, and took their draws." He did not
smoke, a fact which the Indians must have noted as a curious
eccentricity. Then they made a small fire out of doors, and the men sat
about it in a ring, singing "a very melodious hymn," beating the ground
between the verses with short sticks, and, after a circling dance,
departed. Penn got on most happily with the Indians. The peaceful
Quakers went about unarmed and were never in danger. The only disorderly
folk thereabout were white men.

In the midst of these rural joys, news came that a movement was on foot
to put an end to proprietary governments, thereby bringing all colonies
under the immediate control of the crown. Penn felt that it was
necessary for him to return to England to block this inconvenient
legislation. On the 28th of October, he assembled the citizens of
Philadelphia, and presented them with a charter for their city. In the
Friends' meeting, he said that he "looked over all infirmities and
outwards, and had an eye to the regions of the spirit, wherein was our
sweetest tie." Then, says Norris, "in true love he took his leave of
us." Thus, after two years wherein peace and quietness prevailed over
all misunderstanding and opposition, he set sail in 1701, and never saw
Pennsylvania again.

His house at Pennsbury fell into ruins,--due in large part to the
leakage of a leaden reservoir on the roof,--and was taken down before
the Revolution. The furniture was gradually dispersed. For some years it
was "deemed a kind of pious stealth," among those who were most loyal to
the proprietor, to carry away something out of the house when they
chanced to visit its empty halls. One gentleman rejoiced in the
possession of the mantelpiece; another had a pair of Penn's plush

William Penn's four years of actual residence gave him all the
satisfaction which he ever got from his colonial possessions. All else
was worry, labor, and expense. The province was a sore financial burden.
As proprietor he was charged with the payment, in large part, of the
expenses of government. The returns from rents and sales were slow and
uncertain. The taxes on imports and exports, to which he had a charter
right, he had generously declined. When he asked the assembly, in
remembrance of that liberality, to send him money in his financial
straits, they were not minded to respond. Penn belonged to that high
fraternity of noble souls who do not know how to make bargains. His
impulses were generous to a fault, and he had an invincible confidence
that his neighbors would deal with him in the same spirit. The
consequence was that year by year the expenses grew, and there was but a
slender income. "O Pennsylvania," he cries, "what hast thou cost me?
Above thirty thousand pounds more than I ever got by it; two hazardous
and most fatiguing voyages, my straits and slavery here, and my child's
soul, almost."

The last allusion is to Guli's son, William, whose dissipation Penn
always attributed to a lack of fatherly care during his first visit to
the province. Penn finally sent the boy to Pennsbury, hoping that the
quiet, the absence of temptation, and the wholesome joys of a country
life, might amend him. But William went from bad to worse, was arrested
in Philadelphia in a tavern brawl, was formally excommunicated by the
Quakers, and came home to England to give his father further pain.

To the financial burdens of the province were added the difficulties of
government. Penn succeeded very well in keeping his colony,--he defended
his boundaries against Lord Baltimore, and he defeated those who would
have taken away his rule and given it to the king; but the governing of
the colony across three thousand miles of sea was another matter. The
moment he withdrew the restraining influence of his personal presence,
all manner of contentions came into the light of day.

The question of the prudence of bearing arms was vigorously debated.
James Logan, secretary of the province, and Penn's ablest counselor,
urged the need of military defenses. Conservative Friends opposed it.

Churchmen had been settling in the province. One of William's oldest
friends, George Keith, who had accompanied him on his religious mission
to Holland, had gone into the Episcopal ministry. Logan says, in a
letter to Penn, that "not suffering them to be superior" was accounted
by the churchmen as the equivalent of persecution.

Colonel Quarry, a judge of the admiralty, appointed by the British
government to enforce the navigation laws in the colony, was responsible
to the Board of Trade in London, and independent of the governor and of
the assembly. He exercised his office of critic and censor to the
annoyance of Penn.

To these various sources of trouble was added an unending strife between
the governor's deputy and the people. Penn's habit of looking always on
the best side made him a bad judge of men, and the deputies whom he sent
were few of them competent; some were not even respectable. Penn, with
his characteristic invincible blindness, took their part.

Finally, the disputations, protests, and complaints, with direct attacks
upon Penn's interests, and even upon his character, got to such a pass
that he addressed a letter of expostulation to the people. "When it
pleased God to open a way for me to settle that colony," he wrote, "I
had reason to expect a solid comfort from the services done to many
hundreds of people.... But, alas! as to my part, instead of reaping the
like advantages, some of the greatest of my troubles have sprung from
thence. The many combats I have engaged in, the great pains and
incredible expense for your welfare and ease, to the decay of my former
estate ... with the undeserved opposition I have met with from thence,
sink into me with sorrow, that, if not supported by a superior hand,
might have overwhelmed me long ago. And I cannot but think it hard
measure, that, while it has proved a land of freedom and flourishing, it
should become to me, by whose means it was principally made a country,
the cause of grief, trouble, and poverty."

So heavy was the financial burden, and so vexatious and disheartening
the bickering and ingratitude, that Penn thought seriously of selling
his governorship; and it was in the market for several years awaiting a
purchaser. Indeed, in 1712, he had so far perfected a bargain to
transfer his proprietary rights to the crown for £12,000, that nothing
remained to be done save the affixing of his signature. Before his name
was signed, he fell suddenly ill, and the transaction went no farther.

In the midst of these many troubles, in themselves serious enough, there
came another. Penn's business manager for his estates in England and
Ireland was Philip Ford. For a long time, Ford's payments had been less
and less; Penn was continually complaining that he got so little from
his property. Still, Ford's accounts went without examination, and some
of his financial reports were not so much as opened. William had his
customary confidence in his agent's honesty. At last, when things got so
bad that something had to be done, it appeared by Ford's books that,
instead of Ford's being in debt to Penn, Penn was in debt to him for
more than ten thousand pounds. This was the result of long, ingenious,
and unmolested bookkeeping. And Penn had made himself liable by his
careless silence. Then Ford died, and his widow and children claimed
everything which stood in Penn's name. Penn, it appeared, had borrowed
money of Ford, and had given him a mortgage on his Pennsylvania estates
as security. When the loan was paid, the mortgage had not been returned.
Not only did Mrs. Ford retain it, but she sued Penn for three thousand
pounds rent, which was due, she said, from the property of which William
was once owner, but which he now held as tenant of the Fords. So far was
this iniquitous business pursued, that Penn was arrested as he was at a
religious meeting in Gracechurch Street, and was imprisoned for debt in
the Fleet, or its precincts.

This was the turn in the tide. Everybody disapproved of treatment so
unjust and extortionate. William's friends raised money, and made a
compromise with the Fords, and got him free. In Pennsylvania, too, the
contentions were quieted by a good governor. And as the wars came to an
end, trade so increased that the province presently yielded a
substantial income.

Penn retired to Ruscombe, in Berkshire, in the pleasant country. Here he
had his family about him. He was now a grandfather, his son William
having a son and a daughter. "So that now we are major, minor, and
minimus. I bless the Lord mine are pretty well,--Johnny lively; Tommy a
lovely, large child; and my grandson, Springett, a mere Saracen; his
sister, a beauty." Of his second marriage there were six children, four
of whom--John, Thomas, Margaret, and Richard--became proprietors of
Pennsylvania. Thomas had two sons, John and Granville; Richard had two,
John and Richard. When the proprietary government ended, in 1776, it was
in the hands of the heirs of William Penn.

In 1711, Penn wrote a preface to John Banks's Journal, dictating it, as
his custom was, walking to and fro with his cane in his hand, thumping
the floor to mark the emphasis. "Now reader," he concludes, "before I
take leave of thee, let me advise thee to hold thy religion in the
spirit, whether thou prayest, praisest or ministerest to others, ...
which, that all God's people may do, is, and hath long been the earnest
desire and fervent supplication of theirs and thy faithful friend in the
Lord Jesus Christ, W. PENN." This is the last word of his writing which

The next year he had a paralytic stroke, and another, and another. This
impaired his memory and his mind. Thus he continued for six years, as
happily as was possible under the circumstances. He went often to
meeting, where he frequently spoke, briefly, but with "sound and savory
expressions." He walked about his gardens, saw his friends, and
delighted in the company of his wife and children. Each year left him
weaker than the year before; but his days were filled with serenity. He
was surrounded with all the comforts which a generous income, an
affectionate family, the respect of his neighbors, and the approval of
God, could give him.

"He that lives to live forever," he had written in his "Fruits of
Solitude," "never fears dying. Nor can the means be terrible to him,
that heartily believes the end. For though death be a dark passage, it
leads to immortality; and that is recompense enough for suffering of
it.... And this is the comfort of the good, that the grave cannot hold
them, and that they live as soon as they die."

Into the fullness of this life he entered on the 30th of July, 1718,
being seventy-four years old.

The chief authorities for facts concerning William Penn are--

     1. The Select Works of William Penn (London, 1726; 3d edition,
     1782; 5 vols). Whereof, The Trial of William Penn and William Mead
     (vol i.), Travels in Holland and Germany (vol. iii.), and A General
     Description of Pennsylvania (vol. iv.) contain autobiographical
     matter. Some Fruits of Solitude and Penn's Advice to his Children
     (vol. v.) are similarly valuable.

     2. The Life of Penn prefixed to his Works, by Joseph Besse, a
     Quaker contemporary (1726).

     3. Memoirs of the Private and Public Life of William Penn, by
     Thomas Clarkson (London, 1813).

     4. The Pennsylvania Historical Society Memoirs (vols. i., ii.,
     iii.). Also the Correspondence between William Penn and James
     Logan, edited for this Society, by Edward Armstrong.

     5. The Penns and the Penningtons, by Maria Webb (London, 1867),
     containing family letters.

     6. Recent biographies of Penn: by William Hepworth Dixon (1851), by
     Samuel M. Janney (1852), by John Stoughton (1882), by Sydney George
     Fisher (1900).

   The Riverside Press
   _Electrotyped and printed by H. O. Houghton & Co._
   _Cambridge, Mass., U. S. A._

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's note

The following changes have been made to the text:

In the TOC "58" changed to "53".

Page 23: "seventeeenth" changed to "seventeenth".

Page 42: "Quaker brethen" changed to "Quaker brethren".

Page 49: "died when he" changed to "died when she".

Page 57: "serious inprisonment" changed to "serious imprisonment".

Page 62: "body prevented" changed to "body prevented it".

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