Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

B.

Massachusetts was not destined to re- but he preferred to retire still farther main long at any one time undisturbed from their reach, and having purchased by religious dissensions. Clark and some land at Shawomet, of MiantoniHolmes, two leaders of the Anabaptist moh, the Narragansett chief, and the sectaries, were very active in their ef- ally of the colonists in the Pequod war, forts to propagate their favorite' tenets; commenced an independent settlement. and Clark, on one occasion, when in a The rightfulness of this grant of Mianchurch, having put on his hat to insult tonimoh's was denied by two inferior the minister as well as the people, was sachems; their appeal was confirmed subjected to a severe flagellation. Quite by the Boston magistrates, to whom a number of his followers were expelled they now made over the disputed terfrom the colony. At this time, too, one ritory. Gorton was summoned to apSamuel Gorton, a religionist of rather pear before the court at Boston; he an unusual stamp, afforded the authori- replied with a denial of the jurisdiction ties additional work in their endeavors of the “men of Massachusetts”-in to repress heterodoxy. Gorton enter- which he was clearly in the right-and tained, it appears, certain mystical offered to submit the case to the arbiviews of the doctrines of Scripture pe- tration of the other colonists. A strong culiar to himself; to him there was “no party was sent out to seize him and his heaven but in the heart of a good man, adherents, and being taken and conno hell but in the conscience of the veyed to Boston, he was shortly after wicked;" he looked upon the doctrinal brought before the court on the charge formulas and church ordinances of the of being a blasphemous subverter of orthodox Puritans as human inventions, “true religion and civil government." alike unauthorized and mischievous, and He vainly endeavored to explain away regarded their assumed authority as an

the obnoxious imputations, but was intolerable yoke of bondage, which he convicted, and together with many of was daring enough to defy or ridicule. his adherents, sentenced to death. This The “soul-tyranny” of the Massachu- sentence was commuted, in 1644, and setts' theocracy seems indeed, as a

Gorton and his followers, subjected to natural result, invariably to have stim- imprisonment and hard labor duulated to opposition and defiance. Gor- ring the winter, and mercilessly

ton, expelled from Plymouth, deprived of their cattle and stores, were

retired to the neighborhood of finally released and expelled. Gorton Providence, where he became involved returned to England, but though he in further dispute with some of the in- tried hard for many years, he was habitants, who invited the interference never able to obtain redress. of Massachusetts. He was cited to ap- Miantonimoh, the Narragansett chief, pear before the magistrates of Boston, was deadly hostile to Uncas, the

sachem of the Mohegans. Havthe History of the Revolt of the American Colonies," ing fallen into the hands of Uncas, he vol. i., pp. 86, 87.

was, by advice of the Colonial Commis

且 1644.

1637.

1643.

CH. XI.1.

ROGER WILLIAMS AND RHODE ISLAND.

97

sioners, put to death with circumstances Cause of Conscience;" to which Cotton of savage barbarity. The war, pro- replied in a tract, the “Bloody Tenet tracted for some time between the In- washed and made white in the Blood dians, was finally brought to a close of the Lamb.” Williams was entirely by the vigorous interposition of the successful in the object for which he colonists.

had visited England. Vane favored Although the Massachusetts people his wishes and added his influence. The fully sympathized with the “Godly charter obtained included the shores Parliament,” yet they were very wary and islands of Narragansett Bay, west not to commit themselves too far in of Plymouth and south of Massachuany measures from which it might not setts, as far as the Pequod river and be easy to draw back. The Board country. The name of PROVIDENCE of Control, appointed by Parliament, PLANTATIONS was adopted, and the was possessed of very extensive pow- inhabitants were empowered to rule ers; there was, however, no attempt themselves as they might choose.* for awhile at interference with Massachusetts and her privileges; and her rights of conscience, was Roger Williams, a name

*" The first legislator who fully recognized the exports and imports were exempted less illustrious than it deserves to be ; for, although from taxation. Some two years later, his eccentricities of conduct and opinion may somewhen Parliament endeavored to assert

times provoke a smile, he was a man of genius and

of virtue, of admirable firmness, courage, and disinits jurisdiction over the colonies, Mas- terestedness, and of unbounded benevolence. After sachusetts made a spirited protest and

some wanderings, he pitched his tent at a place, to

which he gave the name of Providence, and there beremonstrance, which, being warmly sup

came the founder and legislator of the colony of ported by Sir Henry Vane and others, Rhode Island. There he continued to rule, someprevented matters proceeding further times as the governor, and always as the guide and

father of the settlement, for forty-eight years, emplosin the way of interfering with the pri- ing himself in acts of kindness to his former enemies, vileges of the colonists.

affording relief to the distressed, and offering an It was in March of this year (1643), asylum to the persecuted. The government of his that the venerated Roger Williams, colony was formed on his favorite principle, that in alarmed at the evident purpose of Mas- walk according to the light of his own conscience, sachusetts to interfere with his lawful without restraint or interference from the civil marights, resolved to proceed to England England, in 1643, for the purpose of procuring a co

gistrate. During a visit which Williams made to and solicit a charter. As he was not lonial charter, he published a formal and labored allowed to visit Boston, he went to vindication of this doctrine, under the title of The

Bloody Tenet, or a Dialogue between Truth and Manhattan, and proceeded to his desti- Peace. In this work, which was written with his nation by way of Holland. While in usual boldness and decision, he anticipated most of England, he published his “Key

the arguments, which, fifty years after, attracted so to the Language of America,” | Locke. His own conduct in power was in perfect

much attention, when they were brought forward by which contained interesting notices of accordance with his speculative opinions ; and when, Indian manners. He also attacked the in his old age, the order of his little community was

disturbed by an irruption of Quaker preachers, he principle of religious despotism in his

combated them only in parnphlets and public dispu“Bloody Tenet of Persecution for the tations, and contented himself with overwhelming

1644.

VOL. I.-15

1649

After many difficulties, arising out of witchcraft. The unhappy victim was a claims on the part of Massachusetts woman, named Margaret Jones, who and Plymouth to portions of territory was charged with having “a malignant within the limits of Williams's charter, touch.” the government of the new State was In March, 1649, in his tenth termi firmly and peacefully established in of office, Winthrop died, widely 1647.

and justly lamented. His best Constant efforts were made by the efforts were ever put forth in behalf of opponents of the rigid theocracy of the colony, which he served with a Massachusetts to obtain a relaxation faithfulness and zeal rarely equalled. of its severity. The authorities conse- He died poor, and the General Court, quently had to choose between yield as a testimony to worth, unanimously ing, or proceeding to even greater voted £200 to his surviving family. lengths in support of their claims to The journal which he left behind is virtual infallibility. Toleration was not an invaluable document for our early once to be thought of; antinomian and history. anabaptist notions were to be crushed The increasing trade with the West unrelentingly; and latitudinarianism Indies brought into New England was to meet with instant punishment. a considerable quantity of bullion; in Some verses which that stern old gov- order to put a stop to its exportation ernor, Dudley, who died in 1650, left to England in payment for goods, Masbehind him, express very fairly his own sachusetts undertook to erect a mint for and the usual Puritan principles :- the coinage of money, an act which has

been denounced by some writers as an

express assumption of sovereignty. The Lest that ill egg bring forth a cockatrice,

mint was set up at Boston, and in it To poison all with heresy and vice.

“coined shillings, sixpences, and My epitaph's I died no libertine !! "

threepences, with a pine tree on one

side, and ‘NEW ENGLAND' on the other. As will be seen, it was not long These pieces were alloyed one-fourth before an occasion offered to test how below the British standard-an experifar the authorities were willing to pro- ment often tried elsewhere, under the ceed in maintaining their supremacy. fallacious idea that, thus debased, they It deserves to be put on record, that, would not be exported. Thus it hap

in 1648, Massachusetts set the pened that the pound currency of New

first example of an execution for England came to be one-fourth less their doctrines with a torrent of learning, invective, valuable than the pound sterling of the syllogisms, and puns. It should also be remembered, mother country—a standard afterwards to the honor of Roger Williams, that no one of the adopted by the English Parliament for early colonists, without excepting William Penn

all the North American colonies. himself, equalled him in justice and benevolence towards the Indians.”—Mr. G. C. Verplanck's “ Anniversary Discourse before the New York Historical Hildreth's History of the United States," vol. Society, 1818," p. 23.

i., p. 385.

“Let men of God, in courts and churches watch

O'er such as do a toleration hatch,

were

If men be left, and otherwise combine,

1648.

CH. XI.]

RISE AND TENETS OF THE QUAKERS.

99

真 1651.

[ocr errors]

War having been declared between Christian and intolerable. While CromHolland and England in 1651, fresh well had declared that “he that prays

attempts were made upon New best, and preaches best, will fight best,"

Netherland, as noted in a pre- a doctrine religiously carried out in vious chapter. Peace was proclaimed Massachusetts, the Quakers denied the in 1654, and the troops were disband-lawfulness of even defensive warfare, ed. The fleet, however, having no and refused to bear arms when comchance to invade the Dutch, turned manded by the civil magistrate. Their their attention to Acadie, of which “yea was yea, and their nay was nay, they took forcible possession, although and believing that “whatsoever was France and England were at peace. more than this cometh of evil,” they Another execution for witchcraft took insisted upon observing the letter of place in 1655: the sufferer was a widow Scripture, which commands the believer named Anne Hibbins, sister of Belling- to "swear not at all,” and refused to ham; soured by losses and disappoint- take oaths when required by authority. ments, she became offensive and trou- They abhorred titles; declined to use blesome to the neighbors. Notwith- the ordinary civilities and courtesies standing her influential connections, she of life; believed every man and woman was easily disposed of as guilty of at liberty to preach if he or she thought witchcraft.

herself moved thereto; and regarded a The remonstrances of men like Sir settled ministry as hirelings and wolves Richard Salstonstall in England, and amid the flock. Beside all this they the complaints of many in the colony, denounced the most simple and innoas was said above, had no effect upon cent pleasures, and especially the tythe views and principles of the magis- ranny of rulers in high places, whether trates. They were now called upon to temporal or spiritual. Filled to the carry them out to an extent which full and running over with zeal, they probably they had not contemplated. sought the propagation of their peculiar

The Quakers were a sect which took tenets every where, and seemed to deits rise in England about 1644, under light in nothing more than courting the preaching of George Fox. Their persecution and outrage. A contest tenets and practices were peculiar and with the New England theocracy was novel to an extreme. As their funda

As their funda- a thing rather to be coveted by zealots mental principle was that of an inward of this sort. revelation of God to man, an indwelling Accordingly, in July, 1656, two woof the Divine Spirit in the human soul, men came from Barbadoes, Mary Fisher and as by this unerring voice, and not and Ann Austin. Looked upon by the creeds and formularies of man, as possessed by the devil, they the Holy Scriptures were to be inter- were speedily arrested, imprisoned for preted to every individual believer, so five weeks, and their trunks having any

interference with the consciences of been rifled, and their books burnt, they men was expressly denounced as anti- were sent out of the colony. Heavy

1656. 1658.

165.

fines were imposed upon any who of the council, as a last resource, though should introduce Quakers into Massa- not without the strenuous resischusetts or spread abroad Quaker tracts tance of a portion of the deputies, and books. No one was to harbor a banishment was enforced on pain of Quaker under any pretence, and if one death. But the indomitable Quakers were found, whipping was the mildest gloried in the opportunity of suffering punishment inflicted; and this, too, up. martyrdom. Robinson, Stephenson, on females equally with males. On the and Mary Dyer, persisting in braving first conviction they were to lose one the penalty denounced against them, ear, on the second the other one, and, were tried and condemned. The youngalthough the law proscribed torture, on er Winthrop earnestly sought to prethe third were to have their tongues vent their execution, and Colonel Tem

bored through with a hot iron. ple offered to carry them away, and, if

But the zeal of this sect amount- they returned, fetch them off a second ed almost to insanity; they insulted time. There was a struggle among the and defied the magistrates—disturbed council, many regarding them as mere the public worship with contemptuous lunatics, against whom it would be as clamor-nay, instances afterwards oc- foolish as cruel to proceed to extremicurred in which women, to testify after ties; but the majority prevailed, and prophetic fashion against the spiritual Stephenson and Robinson were brought nakedness of the land, and regarding to the scaffold. “I die for Christ," the violence thus done to their natural said Robinson. “We suffer not as evilmodesty as “a cross” which it behooved doers, but for conscience sake,” said them to bear, displayed themselves, Stephenson. Mary Dyer, with the rope without a particle of clothing, in the round her neck, after witnessing the public streets.

execution of her two companions, exMany of them had repaired to Rhode claimed, “Let me suffer as my Island, where the free toleration af- brethren, unless you will annul forded to all sects indiscriminately, your wicked law.” At the intercession allowed them to propagate their tenets of her son, she was almost forced from undisturbed. But they were not con- the scaffold, on condition of leaving the tent with this; they preferred perse-colony in eight and forty hours, but cution to every thing else; so Boston the spirit of the wretched woman was became the centre of attraction. It was excited almost to insanity by inward war to the knife between ecclesiastical enthusiasm and the horrible scenes she bigotry and insane fanaticism. The had witnessed, and after the trial she Puritans, as we may well believe, did addressed from her prison an energetic not desire to take the lives of the Qua- remonstrance against the cruelty of the kers, but they were determined to put council. “Woe is me for you! ye are them down. Hitherto all had been in disobedient and deceived,” she urged vain; fines, whippings, croppings, and to the magistrates who had condemned imprisonments; and now, by a decree her. “You will not repent that you

1659.

« PředchozíPokračovat »