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with the help of a contribution from the General Court, the fortress was rebuilt, furnished with an armament, and garrisoned.' And in consideration of “the civil wars and dissensions in our native country,” the General Court passed an order in the following terms:– “That what person soever shall, by word, writing, or action, endeavor to disturb our peace, directly or indirectly, by drawing a party, under pretence that he is for the King of England, and such as adjoin with him, against the Parliament, shall be accounted as an offender of an high nature against this Commonwealth, and to be proceeded with either capitally or otherwise, according to the quality and degree of his offence.”* Massachusetts was not with the King against the Commons of England. But neither was she for the Commons, without discrimination. The relation to the mother country to which she understood herself to be introduced by her po- no. sition as head of the Confederacy, is illustrated to: by two incidents which occurred soon after. One ependence. Captain Stagg, probably the person of that name afterwards employed by the Parliament to reduce Virginia.” arrived at Boston from London in a vessel carrying twenty-four guns. Finding there a ship from Bristol, which city was then held for the King, he moored his own vessel between her and the shore, and summoned the master to surrender, which he did. The consignee of the captured vessel, a “Bristol merchant, a very bold, malignant person, began to gather company and raise a tumult,” which Winthrop quelled by arresting him and some of his friends. This done, “he wrote to the captain [of the London ship] to know by what authority he had done it in our harbor.” Stagg produced his commission from the Earl of Warwick to capture vessels from ports in the occupation of the King's party, as well in harbors and creeks as on the high seas. Winthrop ordered him to carry the paper to Salem, the place of the Governor's residence, there to be considered at a meeting of the Magistrates. Of course the public feeling was with the Parliament and its officers; but it was not so heedless as to forget its jealousy of foreign encroachment from whatever quarter. “Some of the Elders, the last Lord's day, had in their sermons reproved this proceeding, and exhorted the Magistrates to maintain the people's liberties, which were, they said, violated by this act, and that a commission could not supersede a patent. And at this meeting some of the Magistrates and some of the Elders were of the same opinion, and that the captain should be forced to restore the ship.” The decision, however, was different; and the reasons for declining to defy the Parliament, and allowing its officer to retain possession of his prize, are recorded. The following are passages of this significant manifesto: “This could be no precedent to bar us from opposing any commission or other foreign power that might indeed tend to our hurt and violate our liberty; for the Parliament had taught us that salus populi is suprema lea.” “If the Parliament should hereafter be of a malignant spirit, then, if we have strength sufficient, we may make use of salus popul; to withstand any authority from thence to our hurt.” “If we, who have so openly declared our affection to the cause of the Parliament by our prayers, fastings, &c., should now oppose their authority, or do anything that might make such an appearance, it would be laid hold on by those in Virginia and the West Indies to confirm them in their rebellious course, and it would grieve all our godly friends in England, or any other of the Parliament's friends.” "
* Mass. Rec. II. 36, 45, 57, 63–65; comp. Winthrop, II. 243.
* Mass. Rec., II. 69. – Captain Jennison, of Watertown, “an able man,” was called to account for having “questioned the lawfulness of the Parliament's proceeding in England.” He said that, “if he were in England, he should be doubtful whether he might take their part against their prince;”
but, adding that, “if the King or any
A second occasion of the same kind soon called for a revisal of this judgment. A ship from Dartmouth, in “the King's service,” was threatened in Boston harbor by one Richardson, commander of a vessel from London bearing a commission from the Parliament's Lord Admiral. In the absence of Endicott, who was at his home in Salem, the Lieutenant-Governor sent an order to Richardson to come on shore forthwith, which he excused himself from doing, on the plea that his men were unruly and might do some harm in his absence. A shot from the shore-battery, which cut his rigging, and the sight of boats with forty Boston men pulling from the north wharf for the Dartmouth vessel, brought him to a better mind, and he “came ashore and acknowledged his error, and his sorrow for what he had done;” whereupon he was discharged, with an order “to pay a barrel of powder, and to satisfy the officers and soldiers that had been employed.” “There was no hurt done,” adds Winthrop, “nor had he made one shot; for, if he had, we had resolved to have taken or sunk him, which might easily have been done, lying close under our battery.” “After, he showed only an ordinary commission from the Lord Admiral, not under the great seal, nor grounded upon any Ordinance of Parliament, as Captain Stagg's was; therefore we forbade him to meddle with any ship in our harbor.””
* Winthrop, II. 181 – 183. — The phrase salus populi was from early times in very familiar use. Its appearing so frequently in the written documents is evidence that, in the less permanent discussions, it was habitually recognized as of weighty practical meaning.
* Ibid., 194, 195. — The Dartmouth ship was taken possession of by the Magistrates, and was ultimately confiscated in reprisal for two Boston vessels which had been captured by vessels of the King. (Ibid., 195, 196)
The distinction, which, if of no great significance, was real, was convenient for the purpose of the hour. But the reader of the present day may doubt whether the true reason of the different methods of proceeding in the two cases is not to be found in the agitation of the weighty questions which lay at the basis of both. Already, on the earlier occasion, men of influence had held that there must be no naval operations in Boston harbor; that the local authority there was permanent and paramount; “that a commission could not supersede a patent.” The discussion of such doctrines, in the existing state of the public mind, and with the short history of the past for an impulse onward, could only have one issue. They could not fail to make their way. Events had brought Massachusetts into such a position as to preclude a positive disavowal by her of supreme authority within her own domain. For once, what with the novelty of the occasion and the universal sympathy felt with the Parliament, the claim of its officer might be yielded. But the surrender would be followed by reflection and misgivings. Its incompatibility with a safe hold upon self-government would be apparent; and its repetition would be impossible, whether a circumstantial difference between the cases which arose might, or might not, enable a subtile casuistry to justify the consistency of different proceedings in the one case and the other.
THUS early were the rights of Englishmen in New England asserted against an officer of the new government which had been set up in the home of their fathers. The Puritan people of the confederate Colonies could not but rejoice in the successful resistance to absolutism; but they did not presume that all need of watchfulness for the security of their own freedom had passed away. In the judgment of the statesmen of Massachusetts, the Ordinance by which Parliament had created a Commission for the Colonies, was, in respect to them, as truly a usurpation, if not so immediately dangerous, as the previous institution of a similar authority by the King.
As time passed on, the necessity for caution was further revealed. In ecclesiastical affairs, the Puritans in New England were no more disposed to come under the control of presbyteries, than under the rule of bishops; but in England, after the tyranny of the Episcopal hierarchy had been overthrown, it became probable that a Presbyterian hierarchy, not less exclusive, perhaps eventually not less cruel, would succeed to its place.
It has been pointed out, that the great emigration to Massachusetts in the sixth year of King Charles is to be traced not so much to the Separatists as to the no. Non-conformists. Arrived, however, at their new ot. home, the emigrants made haste to prove that they had left behind them their attachment to a national church, whether that should turn out to be Episcopal or Presbyterian. They even rejected the principle of con
* See Wol. I. 633.