Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

INTERESTING AND SIMPLE SOLEMNITY.

411

engrossed the confirmation of the treaty of purchase and amity. As soon as he drew near the spot where the Sachems were assembled, the whole multitude of Indians threw down their weapons, and seated themselves on the ground in groups, each under his own chieftain; and the presiding chief intimated to William Penn, that the nations were ready to hear him. Mr. Clarkson regrets, and we cordially join in the sentiment, that there is no written, contemporary account of the particulars attending this interesting and truly novel transaction. He assures us, however, that they are still in a great measure preserved in oral tradition, and that both what we have just stated, and what follows, may be relied on as perfectly accurate. The sequel we give

in his own words.

"Having been thus called upon, he began. The Great Spirit, he said, who made him and them, who ruled the Heaven and the Earth, and who knew the innermost thoughts of man, knew that he and his friends had a hearty desire to live in peace and friendship with them, and to serve them to the utmost of their power. It was not their custom to use hostile weapons against their fellow-creatures, for which reason they had come unarmed. Their object was not to do injury, and thus provoke the Great Spirit, but to do good. They were then met on the broad pathway of good faith and good will, so that no advantage was to be taken on either side, but all was to be openness, brotherhood, and love. After these and other words, he unrolled the parchment, and by means of the same interpreter conveyed to them, article by article, the conditions of the Purchase, and the Words of the Compact then made for their eternal Union. Among other things, they were not to be molested in their lawful pursuits, even in the territory they had alienated, for it was to be common to them and the English. They were to have the same liberty to do all things therein relating to the improvement of their grounds, and providing sustenance for their families, which the English had. If any disputes should arise between the two, they should be settled by twelve persons, half of whom should be English, and half Indians. He then paid them for the land; and made them many presents besides, from the merchandize which had been spread before them. Having done this, he laid the roll of parchment on the ground, observing again, that the ground should be common to both people. He then added, that he would not do as the Marylanders did, that is, call them Children or Brothers only; for often parents were apt to chastise their children too severely, and Brothers sometimes would differ: neither would he compare the Friendship between him and them to a Chain, for the rain might sometimes rust it, or a tree might fall and break it; but he should consider them as the same flesh and blood with the Christians, and the same as

412 W. PENN-FAITHFUL OBSERVANCE OF HIS TREATY,

if one man's body were to be divided into two parts. He then took up the parchment, and presented it to the Sachem who wore the horn in his chaplet, and desired him and the other Sachems to preserve it carefully for three generations; that their children might know what had passed between them, just as if he had remained himself with them to repeat it."-p. 341-343.

The Indians, in return, made long and stately harangues of which, however, no more seems to have been remembered, but that "they pledged themselves to live in love with William Penn and his children, as long as the sun and moon should endure." And thus ended this famous treaty ;-of which Voltaire has remarked, with so much truth and severity, "that it was the only one ever concluded between savages and Christians that was not ratified by an oath-and the only one that never was broken ?"

Such, indeed, was the spirit in which the negotiation was entered into, and the corresponding settlement conducted, that for the space of more than seventy yearsand so long indeed as the Quakers retained the chief power in the government, the peace and amity which had been thus solemnly promised and concluded, never was violated;—and a large and most striking, though solitary example afforded, of the facility with which they who are really sincere and friendly in their own views, may live in harmony even with those who are supposed to be peculiarly fierce and faithless. We cannot bring ourselves to wish that there were nothing but Quakers in the world—because we fear it would be insupportably dull-but when we consider what tremendous evils daily arise from the petulance and profligacy, and ambition and irritability, of Sovereigns and Ministers, we cannot help thinking that it would be the most efficacious. of all reforms to choose all those ruling personages out of that plain, pacific, and sober-minded sect.

William Penn now held an assembly, in which fiftynine important laws were passed in the course of three days. The most remarkable were those which limited the number of capital crimes to two-murder and high treason and which provided for the reformation, as well. as the punishment of offenders, by making the prisons

AND LONG PROSPEROUS ADMINISTRATION.

413

places of compulsive industry, sobriety, and instruction. It was likewise enacted, that all children, of whatever rank, should be instructed in some art or trade. The fees of law proceedings were fixed, and inscribed on public tables; and the amount of fines to be levied for offences also limited by legislative authority. Many admirable regulations were added, for the encouragement of industry, and mutual usefulness and esteem. There is something very agreeable in the contentment, and sober and well-earned self-complacency, which breathe in the following letter of this great colonist-written during his first rest from those great labours.

"I am now casting the country into townships for large lots of land. I have held an Assembly, in which many good laws are passed. We could not stay safely till the spring for a Government. I have annexed the Territories lately obtained to the Province, and passed a general naturalization for strangers; which hath much pleased the people. As to outward things we are satisfied; the land good, the air clear and sweet, the springs plentiful, and provision good and easy to come at; an innumerable quantity of wild fowl and fish: in fine, here is what an Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would be well contented with; and service enough for God, for the fields are here white for harvest. O, how sweet is the quiet of these parts, freed from the anxious and troublesome solicitations, hurries and perplexities of woful Europe!"— p. 350, 351.

We cannot persuade ourselves, however, to pursue any farther the details of this edifying biography. W. Penn returned to England after a residence of about two years in his colony-got into great favour with James II.-and was bitterly calumniated as a Jesuit, both by churchinen and sectaries-went on doing good and preaching Quakerism-was sorely persecuted and insulted, and deprived of his Government, but finally acquitted, and honourably restored, under King William -lost his wife and son-travelled and married againreturned to Pennsylvania in 1699 for two years longer -came finally home to England - continued to preach and publish as copiously as ever-was reduced to a state of kindly dotage by three strokes of apoplexy and died at last at the age of seventy-two, in the year

1718.

He seems to have been a man of kind affections, sin

[ocr errors]

414

W. PENN HIS GENERAL CHARACTER.

gular activity and perseverance, and great practical wisdom. Yet we can well believe with Burnet, that he was "a little puffed up with vanity;" and that "he had a tedious, luscious way of talking, that was apt to tire the patience of his hearers." He was very neat in his person; and had a great horror at tobacco, which occasionally endangered his popularity in his American domains. He was mighty methodical, too, in ordering his household; and had stuck up in his hall a written directory, or General Order, for the regulation of his family, to which he exacted the strictest conformity. According to this rigorous system of discipline, he required—

"That in that quarter of the year which included part of the winter and part of the spring, the members of it were to rise at seven in the morning, in the next at six, in the next at five, and in the last at six again. Nine o'clock was the hour for breakfast, twelve for dinner, seven for supper, and ten to retire to bed. The whole family were to assemble every morning for worship. They were to be called together at eleven again, that each might read in turn some portion of the holy Scripture, or of the Martyrology, or of Friends' books; and finally they were to meet again for worship at six in the evening. On the days of public meeting, no one was to be absent, except on the plea of health or of unavoidable engagement. The servants were to be called up after supper to render to their master and mistress an account of what they had done in the day, and to receive instructions for the next; and were particularly exhorted to avoid lewd discourses and troublesome noises."

We shall not stop to examine what dregs of ambition, or what hankerings after worldly prosperity, may have mixed themselves with the pious and philanthropic principles that were undoubtedly his chief guides in forming that great settlement which still bears his name, and profits by his example. Human virtue does not challenge, nor admit of such a scrutiny! And it should be sufficient for the glory of William Penn, that he stands upon record as the most humane, the most moderate, and the most pacific of all rulers.

ADMIRAL LORD COLLINGWOOD.

415

(MAY, 1828.)

A Selection from the Public and Private Correspondence of ViceAdmiral Lord Collingwood: interspersed with Memoirs of his Life. By G. L. NEWNHAM COLLINGWOOD, Esq. F. R. S. 2 vols. 8vo. Ridgway. London: 1828.

We do not know when we have met with so delightful a book as this, or one with which we are so well pleased with ourselves for being delighted. Its attraction consists almost entirely in its moral beauty; and it has the rare merit of filling us with the deepest admiration for heroism, without suborning our judgments into any approbation of the vices and weaknesses with which poor mortal heroism is so often accompanied. In this respect, it is not only more safe, but more agreeable reading than the Memoirs of Nelson; where the lights and shadows are often too painfully contrasted, and the bane and the antidote exhibited in proportions that cannot but be hazardous for the ardent and aspiring spirits on which they are both most calculated to operate.

Is it a mere illusion of national vanity which prompts us to claim Lord Collingwood as a character peculiarly English? Certainly we must admit, that we have few Englishmen left who resemble him; and even that our prevailing notions and habits make it likely that we shall have still fewer hereafter. Yet we do not know where such a character could have been formed but in England; -and feel quite satisfied, that it is there only that it can be properly valued or understood. The combination of the loftiest daring with the most watchful humanity, and of the noblest ambition with the greatest disdain of personal advantages and the most generous sympathy with rival merit, though rare enough to draw forth at all times the loud applause of mankind, have not been without example, in any race that boasts of

« AnteriorContinuar »