Page images
PDF
EPUB

W. Penn

this medium when we view the conduct of those great men of antiquity, who have benefited mankind, in their most essential interests, they appear frequently to have been actuated by motives, the most disinterested, and attended with a satisfaction more than human !Adversity, which refines men, and renders them more fit to benefit the human race, is a frequent concomitant of worthy minds; and apparent fuccess doth not always immediately attend noble and just designs:—When a Socrates is put to death, wisdom and truth seem to suf. fer; and when an Aristides is exiled, justice appears to be in disgrace. But virtue is its own reward, and depends not on the fluctuating opinions of mortals, nor on the breath of popular applause; which is often on the side of error, and entirely opposite to the real interests of its votaries.

An example of true wisdom and fortitude, is an example no less conspicuous in the venerable founder of the and

fortin province of Pennsylvania, the truly great and worfude. thy William Penn, than in many of the celebrated

sages and legislators of former ages; who, in opposition to the vulgar notions of the times in which they lived, have feemingly fuffered in their own particulars, in order to benefit mankind: this will appear in the following sketch of his life, both with respect to his religion in joining with the people called Quakers, and likewise in settling the province itself. In both of which his engagement for the happiness of men was not unattended with a large share of that difficulty and opposition, to which the most excellent undertakings are generally exposed: but minds of such exalted virtue are actuated by motives above mortality, and indisputably are influenced by fomething divine; without which, as Cicero says, there prever was a really good and great man.*

His

* “ Credendum eft neminem virorum bonorum talem fuiffe, nifi adjuvante, Des; es nemo unquam. fuit vir ezagnius fine afflatu aliquo divino.”

Çic. de natura Dçorum.

His father, Sir William Penn, was of eminent of his facharacter; and served both under the parliament, ther admiand king Charles the second, in several of the highest maritime offices.* He was born in Bristol, anno 1621; and married Margaret, daughter of Yohn Jasper, of Rotterdam in Holland, merchant; by Biographia whom he had his son William Penn. He was him. Britansica. self the son of captain Giles Penn, several years His defcent consul for the English, in the Mediterranean; and of the Penns of Penns-lodge, in the county of Wilts; and those Penns of Penn, in the county of Bucks ; and by his mother, from the Gilberts, in the county of Somerset, originally from Yorkshire.

He was addicted from his youth to maritime af- I lis offices. fairs, and made captain at twenty-one years of age; rear admiral of Ireland, at twenty-three; vice admiral of Ireland, at twenty-five; admiral to the Straits, at twenty-nine; vice admiral of England, at thirty-one; and general in the first Dutch war, at thirty-two. Whence returning, anno 1655, he was a parliament man for the town of Weymouth; in 1660, he was made commissioner of the admiralty and navy, governor of the town and fort of Kingsail; vice admiral of Munster, and a member of that provincial council; and anno 1664, he was chosen great captain commander under the Duke of York, in that signal, and most evidently succesful fight with the Dutch Fleet.

Thus he took leave of the sea, but continued His death. still in his other employments, till 1669; at which time, through bodily infirmities, contracted by the

care

* W. Penn, in his printed works, says further respecting his father, Admiral Penn;--" He was engaged both under the parliament and king; but not as an actor in the domestic troubles; his compass always iteering him to eye a national concern, and not intestine wars. His service, therefore, being wholly foreign, he may be truly faid to serve his country, rather than either of these interests, so far as they were distinct from each other."- Again, “ In the attack on Hispaniola, his employ was only as general of the feet; from which the iniscarriage did not arise; it was owing to the land forces, over which he had no command.

Penn's Works.

See W.
Penn's let-

care and fatigue of public affairs, he withdrew, prepared and made for his end. He died at Wanstead, in the county of Essex, on the 16th. day of September 1670, in the 49th. year of his age; leaving a plentiful estate, in England and Ireland, with his paternal blessing to his fon William; to whom he was perfectly reconciled, after the great displeasure, he had before conceived at his joining in religious fociety with the Quakers ;-. Thus (says his fon) from a lieutenant he passed through all the eminent offices of sea employment, and arrived to that of general, about the zoth. year of his age; in a time full of the biggest fea action, that any history mentions; and when neither bribes nor alliance, favour nor affection, but ability only, could promote.”—Having acquitted himself with honor and fidelity, in all his public offices, after the restoration he was knighted by king Charles the second, and became a peculiar favorite of James, duke of

York; whose friendship, favor and benevolenge ter to w. were, after his death, continued to his son; which, Popple af- in a particular manner he requested of the duke,

on his death bed.

The memorable William Penn, son and heir of education the above mentioned Sir William, or admiral Penn, of W. Penn and the first proprietor and governor of Pennsyl, .

vania, was born in London, on the fourteenth day of October, 1644. He was endowed with a good genius; and his father, from the promising profpect, which he had, of his advancement was induced to give him a liberal education: He accordingly made such early improvements in literature, that, about the fifteenth year of his age, he was entered a student at Christ's church college in Oxford.

At this time more particularly (says the writer our at Ox- of his life) began to appear in him a disposition of

mind after true spiritual religion; of which before he had received fome fenfe and taste, through the ministry of Thomas Loe, a preacher under the de

nomination

terwards.

Birth and

His behavi.

ford.

wards him

nomination of a Quaker. In this place, he, and certain students of that university, withdrawing themselves from the national way of worship, held private meetings, for the exercise of religion; where they both preached and prayed among them." felves; which gave great offence to the heads of the college. He, being then but fixteen years of age, was fined for non-conformity; and, at last, for his persevering in the like religious practices, was expelled the college.

From thence, after he returned home, he still His father's retained the same turn of mind, and continued to conduct toprefer the society of sober and religious persons. His father, judging this to be a great obstacle in the way of his fons preferment, endeavoured, by divers means to deter and divert him from it. For which purpose, after having used both the force of persuasion upon his mind, and the severity of stripes upon his body, without success, he at length was so far incensed against him, that, in great refentment of rage, he turned him out of his house!

His patience surmounted this difficulty, till his He sendu father's affection had subdued his anger. He then him to sent him to France in company with some persons of quality, who were making a tour thither. He continued there a considerable time, till a quite different conversation had diverted his mind from the serious thoughts of religion. There he acquired the knowledge of the French language, and a perfectly accomplished, polite and courtly behaviour. His father, on his return, thinking the intention of his travels was fully answered, received him with great satisfaction. His conduct and behavi- . our, for some time after this, being represented to be such as justly entitled him to the character of a complete young gentleman.

About the year 1664 his fpiritual conflict, or 1664. religious exercise of mind, is said to have been very great: his natural inclination, his lively and active

disposition

France.

land.

His great disposition, his acquired accomplishments, his fa. conflict of ther's favour, the respect of his friends and aca Icfolution. quaintances, did strongly press him to embrace the

glory and pleasures of this world, then, as it were, courting and caressing him, in the bloom of youth, to accept them; but, his earnest supplication being to the Almighty for preservation, he was, in due time, providentially favoured with resolution and ability to overcome all opposition and to pur. fue his religious prospect, and what he believed was his best interest, through all the reproaches,

and persecutions which attended him. He is fully In the year 1666, and the 22d. of his age, his convinced father coinmitted to his care and management a of the Quakers princi- considerable estate, in Ireland; which occafioned ples in Ire- his residence in that country; there, being at Cork,

at a religious meeting of the people called Quakers, he was thoroughly and effectually convinced of their principles, by means of the preaching of Thomas Lee, before mentioned; whose ministry ten years before had made some impressions upon his understanding; so that he afterwards constantly attended the religious meetings of that people, even through the heat of persecution.

Being again at a meeting in Cork, in the year 1667.

1667, he, with many others, was apprehended, coinmitted and carried before the mayor, who, observing that

prison his dress discovered not the Quaker, would have Quakers. set him at liberty, upon bond for his good beha

viour; which, refusing to give, he was, with about eighteen others, committed to prison; he had during his residence in Ireland, contracted an intimate acquaintance with many of the nobility and gentry; and, being now a prisoner, he wrote a letter, on the occasion, to the Earl of Orrery, lord president of Munster; wherein he briefly informed him of his situation, pleaded his innocence, and boldly exhibited the inconsistency with true christianity, as well as the ill policy, of such kind of persecution,

especially

W.

Penn

to with

the

« PreviousContinue »