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“Captain James Oliver, with one hundred soldiers . . . . . completely armed with pike, and musketeers with powder and bullet,” was instructed “to lead them to the place of execution.” Thirty-six soldiers were also to be “ordered by Captain Oliver to remain in and about the town, as sentinels to preserve the peace of the place while the rest should go to the execution;” and the selectmen of Boston were “to press ten or twelve able and faithful per'sons every night during the sitting of the Court, to watch with great care the town, especially the prison.” At this point, without doubt, — if not before, — the government should have paused and retraced its steps. It would have had to acknowledge itself beaten; but this it could afford to do, and this it was obliged to do at last. The present mortification of defeat, as things stood, was only to be escaped by laying up cause for reflections still more painful. It was a misfortune for both parties in this contest, that, in the weaker party, idiotic folly was mated with an indomitable boldness. But, as it was so, the stronger could only maintain its ground at too great cost; and magnanimity and pity should have interposed. And, had not the provocations of the contest disturbed the judgment of the leaders, it should seem they might have owned that measures of extreme rigor were no longer indispensable for the safety of the institutions which it was their duty to protect. Whether or not their imaginations had exaggerated the original danger, it could no longer, after an experiment of more than three years, be justly considered great. With all the advantage of the compassion which their sufferings called forth, the Quakers had made comparatively an extremely small number of converts; for, if their sufferings commanded pity, their actings were too wayward to allow respect. Their oddities and dreams were proved to be not at all to the taste of the sober mass of the NewEngland people. Such being the retrospect and such the prospect from the point at which this conflict had now arrived, it is not unreasonable to believe that, if the voice of Winthrop had not been hushed in the grave, the sad story of the severities against the Quakers would have extended little further. It is natural to imagine him urging, that, as to any shame in concession, the government was too strong, and should be too noble, to be proud; that, as to any danger in concession, the danger, whatever it might have been, was past, for, while many felt for the hardships of the eccentric intruders, few became their disciples; and that, though they had no right whatever to come to Massachusetts, yet, if they were bent on coming, as it now seemed they were, — to die there, if they were not permitted to live, – the price of being rid of them was too great. And such considerations, urged with an authority like his, could not have failed to arrest the enactment, or the execution, of the law, when, though backed by the influence of the three most considerable men who survived in the Colony, it had with difficulty been carried by a majority of one vote. Perhaps each party had continued to hope that the other would relent when the terrible gallows should be reared. But so it was not to be. The contest of will was to last longer. Whatever the rulers of New England in those days promised or threatened, that it was their practice to do. On the other hand, if they presumed that their antagonists were accessible to fear, the supposition was without good ground. The eminent Quakers were set on being martyrs. Their Lord's precept, “When they shall persecute you out of one city, flee ye into another,” did not commend itself to their minds. On the appointed day, the convicts, surrounded by the guard, went from the gaol to Boston Common hand and hand, Mary Dyer walking between her companions. They attempted to roadcast address the crowd, but were prevented by the ** beating of drums. The two men were hanged, and their bodies were buried beneath the gallows. Mary Dyer, who had stood during the scene with a halter about her neck, was now told that she was dismissed to the care of her son, who had come from Rhode Island to intercede with the Magistrates in her behalf Her courage had not yet reached the height to which it aspired. She was prevailed upon to accept the deliverance, and was led out of the jurisdiction. The undaunted deportment of the sufferers increased the wide-spread resentment against the law which had condemned them. The Court, still in session, felt the embarrassments of its position, and immediately proceeded to consider some “declarations which had been presented to vindicate the justice of the proceedings.” From several drafts which had been offered, it selected poration, two to “go forth, by the authority and order of *** the General Court, the first of them to the press, to be printed, the other from the Secretary to the towns, in writing.” “Although *—such is, in one of them, the language of the Court —“the justice of our proceedings against William Robinson, Marmaduke Stevenson, and Mary Dyer, supported by the authority of this Court, the laws of the country, and the laws of God, may rather persuade us to expect encouragement and commendation from all prudent and pious men, than convince us of any necessity to apologize for the same; yet, forasmuch as men of weaker parts, out of pity and commiseration (a commendable and Christian virtue, yet easily abused, and susceptible of sinister and dangerous impressions), for want of full information may be less satisfied, and men of perverse principles may take occasion hereby to calumniate us, and render us as bloody persecutors, - to satisfy the one and stop the mouths of the other, we thought it requisite to declare that, about three years since, diverse Quakers, of whose pernicious opinions and practices we had received intelligence from good hands, . . . . . ararrived at Boston, whose persons were only secured to be sent away by the first opportunity, without censure or punishment;” and “the prudence of the Court was exercised only in making provision to secure the peace and order here established against their attempts, whose design we were well assured by our own experience, as well as by the example of their predecessors in Munster, was to undermine and ruin the same.” At length, they say, other discouragements having been found insufficient, “a law was made that such persons should be banished, on pain of death, according to the example of England, in their provision against Jesuits.” And they argue: “The consideration of our gradual proceedings will vindicate us from the clamorous accusation of severity, our own just and necessary defence calling upon us, other means failing, to offer the points which these persons have violently and wilfully rushed upon, and thereby have become felones de Se; which might it have been prevented, and the sovereign law, salus populi, been preserved, our former proceedings, as well as the sparing of Mary Dyer upon an inconsiderable intercession, will manifestly evince we desire their life absent rather than their death present.” Dyer was not satisfied with herself, and in the following spring she came back to Boston again,” and was immediately put in prison. Her husband, then Secree....... tary of Providence Plantations, wrote to Govor ernor Endicott, blaming her misconduct, and Ion entreating that she might be once more dis** charged. At her arraignment, “she gave no other answer, but that she denied our law, and came to bear witness against it, and could not choose but come, and do as formerly.” Again she was condemned to die. At the gallows the offer was again renewed to her of release, if she would promise henceforth to keep out of Massachusetts. But she refused it, and met her fate with brave determination. “In obedience to the will of the Lord I came,” she said, “and in his will I abide faithful to the death.” With an inconsistency which shows the repugnance felt by the Magistrates to executing the hard law, it was left inoperative in some cases of manifest violation.” But it had one more victim. William Leddra, isos for making disturbances at Salem and Newbury, * had been committed to the House of Correction at Boston. There he refused to work for his food, and, having been repeatedly scourged, was at last dismissed, loo, with the threat of death if he should return. * He returned, and was put in prison. On his trial the offer of liberation was made to him, if he would in engage to go to England; but he rejected it, ** saying that he had no business there. He was condemned and executed. “All that will be Christ's
* Mass. Rec., IV. (i.) 383,384. This haunted by uneasiness about this busiCourt sat nearly four weeks. They ness of the Quakers, they keep recurdespatched a variety of other matters; ring to it in different forms. Ibid., but it is striking to see how, as if 390, 391, 397, 403, 407,410.
* Mass. Rec., IV. (i.) 385, 386. not seen her above this half-year, and * She had passed little, if any, of the therefore cannot tell how, in the frame intervening time at home. “I have of her spirit, she was moved thus again
to run so great a hazard to herself generation, say I, that gives occasion and perplexity to me and mine, and to grief and trouble to those that desire all her friends and well-wishers. So to be quiet, by helping one another, as it is, from Shelter Island, about by Pe- I may say, to hazard their lives for I quod, Narragansett, and to the town know not what end, or to what purof Providence, she secretly and speedily pose.” (Letter of William Dyer to journeyed, and as secretly from thence Endicott, May 27, 1660.) came to your jurisdiction. Unhappy * Sewel, History, &c., 227. journey, may I say, and woe to that * Mass. Rec., IV. (i.) 419,433.