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a Fast-day, of which one object was defined to be, to implore Divine “assistance with the agents abroad.” Meanwhile reports came to Boston that the agents had been imprisoned, and that Norton was in the Tower. But nothing of the kind took place. Their reception was favorable far beyond their hopes. At London, indeed, they were confronted by George Fox, by “John Copeland, whose ear was cut off at Boston,” and by other Quakers. Fox told them, that, “if the father of William Robinson were in town, it was probable he would question them, and bring their lives into jeopardy; for he, not being of the Quakers' persuasion, would perhaps not have so much regard to the point of forbearance as they had.” Upon this, says the Quaker historian, “Bradstreet, seeing him. self in danger, began to flinch and to skulk,” and, “not thinking it safe to stay in England, left the city, and, with his companions, went back again to New England.” They did not, however, return from fear of the Quakers, who had little power to annoy them ; but because their business was done. Lord Say and Sele wrote that he had “not been wanting both to the King and Council” in advancing their suit. The influence of others of the Puritan friends of Massachusetts was still considerable; and Lord Clarendon was not disposed to quarrel with her till he should understand better her position and her resources, and should see a more trustworthy settlement Return or of affairs at home.” The agents returned, bring: ... ing a gracious answer from the King. He told sent a the men of Massachusetts that their Address to him had been “very acceptable;” that he “received them into his gracious protection,” “confirmed the patent and charter heretofore granted to them,” and was ..., “ready to renew the same,” if so desired; and the King. that he “pardoned all his subjects of that planta- "* tion for all crimes and offences committed against him during the late troubles, except any such persons who stood attainted of high treason, if any such persons had transported themselves into those parts.”
* Mass. Rec., IV. (ii) 45. River for themselves, as they have sub
* Sewel, 279, 280. jugated it, and now arm against the
* Some of the statements which Dutch New Netherland, with their reached the minister from enemies of United Colonies they may be the inMassachusetts were suitable to make vincible states in America.” (Henry him cautious, as well as to make him Gardener, New England's Windicar jealous. “If they fortify Piscataqua tion, 7.)
But the missive had other contents, of a different description. The King declared his “expectation” that henceforward the oath of allegiance should be taken by the Colonists; that the administration of justice should be in his name; and that “all laws and ordinances . . . . . contrary or derogative to his authority and government” should be “annulled and repealed.” “We do hereby charge and require you,” he wrote, “that they that desire to use the Book of Common Prayer, and perform their devotion in the manner that is established here, be not denied the exercise thereof, or undergo any prejudice or disadvantage thereby, they using their liberty peaceably without any disturbance to others; and that all persons of good and honest lives and conversations be admitted to the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, according to the said Book of Common Prayer, and their children to baptism.” And he “commanded all persons concerned, that, in the election of the Governor or Assistants, there should be only consideration of the wisdom and integrity of the persons to be chosen, and not of any faction with reference to their opinion or profession; and that all the freeholders of competent estates, not vicious in conversations, orthodox in religion, (though of different persuasions concerning church-government,) might have their vote in the election of all officers, civil or military.” The letter was to “be communicated and published at the next General Court.”"
* Hutch. Coll., 377 – 380; comp. junction with the rule respecting tolerMass. Hist. Coll., XVIII.47. In con- ation, the King writes: “We cannot be understood hereby to direct or wish our Parliament here, to make a sharp that any indulgence should be granted law against them, and are well content to those persons commonly called Quak- you do the like there.” ers, whose principles being inconsistent * Mather, Magnalia, III. 38. with any kind of government, we have * Hull, in Archaeol. Amer., III. 207. found it necessary, with the advice of " Sewel, 333.
It was published accordingly, to the exceeding displeasure of many of the hearers. “There were many who would not stick to say that Mr. Norton had laid the foundation of ruin to all our liberties.” Bradstreet, besides being of a more phlegmatic temper, was less an object of odium, as being by no means of equal reputation for ability. But the general condemnation was more than Norton — hitherto always riding the topmost wave of popular favor—could endure. It cannot be inferred that a man of character is not distressed by estrangement and obloquy, because he will not allow them to change his course. Norton was not of a buoyant constitution. He drooped under the displeasure of his neighbors. He thought he had lost all his friends. He withdrew to solitude, and there brooded and pined. “It was commonly judged, that the smothered griefs of his mind, upon the unkind resentments which he thought many people had of his faithful and sincere endeavors to serve them, did more than a little hasten his end.” He lived but seven or eight months after his return. After attendow. ing public worship on a Sunday, he fell in a fit, ... and died at evening.” The fatal disease was believed to have been a bleeding heart. The Quakers set it down for a Divine judgment.” The Court, annoyed by the royal demands, but distrustful and divided as to the degree of resistance which rooms, the circumstances would justify, resorted to that : "... temporizing policy which in other times had
in relation to
the King's served the Colony so well. For the present they demands. - - jo made no further compliance with the royal requi
** sition than to direct that it should be published, and to order “that henceforth all writs, process,
with indictments, should, by all magistrates, the Secretary, clerk of the several courts and writs, be made and sent forth in his Majesty's name; — i. e. “You are hereby required, in his Majesty's name,’ &c., - any usage or custom to the contrary notwithstanding.” As to the rest, “forasmuch as the said letter had influence upon the churches as well as the civil state,” they “ordered that all manner of actings in relation thereunto should be suspended until the next General Court, that so all persons concerned might have time and opportunity to consider of what was necessary to be done in order to his Majesty's pleasure therein.” Then, putting a good face upon affairs, and sincerely inclined to own occasions for gratitude, as well as to keep their associates in good heart, they appointed a day of public thanksgiving for “the safe and speedy return of the public messengers sent for England, together with the continuance of the mercies of peace, liberties, and the Gospel.” But it became the freemen to be thoughtful and vigilant, as well as thankful; and, at the same time, a day of fasting and humiliation was appointed to be kept a month later, “on account of the afflictive and low estate of the cause and people of God universally, with the prevailing power of Antichrist over the reformed churches beyond the seas, together with some public rebukes of God among ourselves.” The Court could not be doubtful as to the interpretation which, in the third year of King Charles the Second, the Fast-day sermons would give to the phrases, “public rebuke,” the “low estate of the cause and people of God,” and the “prevailing power of Antichrist.” Other measures of the session indicate the temper which prevailed. The law for scourging “vagabond Quakers,” which had been suspended in compliance with the royal will, was re-enacted, with some trifling qualifications.” “For prevention of irregularities and abuse to the authorities of this country by the printing-press,” a censorship was for the first time established; and the trust was committed to the Magistrate, Gookin, and to Jonathan Mitchell, minister of Cambridge.” Captain Breedon, who, it seems, had returned from England, was charged with some “insolences and contempt against the Court in the face of the country, tending to mutiny and sedition, and subversion of the government here established by his Majesty's letters patent,” and was sentenced “to give two hundred pounds' bond, with sufficient sureties for his good behavior, and also that he pay a fine to the country of two hundred pounds, and that he stand committed till he perform this judgment.”” No other General Court was held before the next loo time for annual elections. The least that could ** then be expected was some further consideration of the royal mandate. Such consideration was had, so far as to provide an answer, should any complaint of inattention come from England. It resulted in nothing more than an ineffective provision “for the regulating of the taking of bonds of shipmasters” in order to a compliance with the Navigation Act, and the raising of a Committee after “long and serious debate of what was necessary to be done in reference to his Majesty's letter.” The Committee, consisting of three Magistrates, four ministers, and five Deputies, besides Leverett, the Speaker, were charged “to draw up what they should judge meet, and to present the same at the next
* Mass. Rec., IV. (ii) 58–60. WOL. II. 45
* Mass. Rec., IV. (ii) 62. The censorship of the press was only a provisional measure. It was abolished at the next Court. (Ibid., 73.) — A similar order had been made by the Deputies several years before; but it was then rejected by the Magistrates. (Mass. Archives, LVIII. 11.) It has no date. But as Shepard was to be a
censor with the Governor and Denison, it must have been as early as 1649, the year of Shepard's death.
* Mass. Rec., IV. (ii.) 69. — In the next year, however, the fine was remitted “upon the request of Sir Thomas Temple, seconded by Mr. John Winthrop, Governor of Connecticut.” (Ibid., 75.)