Endicott's death in 1665 marks the close of the second epoch, and ten comparatively tranquil years followed. Bellingham's moderation may have been in part due to the interference of the royal commissioners, but a more potent reason was the popular disgust, which had become so strong that the penal laws could not be enforced.
A last effort was made to rekindle the dying flame in 1675, by fining constables who failed in their duty to break up Quaker meetings, and offering one third of the penalty to the informer. Magistrates were required to sentence those apprehended to the House of Correction, where they were to be kept three days on bread and water, and whipped. [Footnote: Mass. Rec. v. 60.] Several suffered during this revival, the last of whom was Margaret Brewster. At the end of twenty-one years the policy of cruelty had become thoroughly discredited and a general toleration could no longer be postponed; but this great liberal triumph was only won by heroic courage and by the endurance of excruciating torments. Marmaduke Stevenson, William Robinson, Mary Dyer, and William Leddra were hanged, several were mutilated or branded, two at least are known to have died from starvation and whipping, and it is probable that others were killed whose fate cannot be traced. The number tortured under the Vagabond Act is unknown, nor can any estimate be made of the misery inflicted upon children by the ruin and exile of parents.
The early Quakers were enthusiasts, and therefore occasionally spoke and acted extravagantly; they also adopted some offensive customs, the most objectionable of which was wearing the hat; all this is immaterial. The question at issue is not their social attractiveness, but the cause whose consequence was a virulent persecution. This can only be determined by an analysis of the evidence. If, upon an impartial review of the cases of outrage which have been collected, it shall appear probable that the conduct of the Friends was sufficiently violent to make it credible that the legislature spoke the truth, when it declared that "the prudence of this court was exercised onely in making provission to secure the peace & order heere established against theire attempts, whose designe (wee were well assured by our oune experjence, as well as by the example of theire predecessors in Munster) was to vndermine & ruine the same;" [Footnote: Mass. Rec. vol. iv. pt. 1, p. 385.] then the reverend historians of the theocracy must be considered to have established their proposition. But if, on the other hand, it shall seem apparent that the intense vindictiveness of this onslaught was due to the bigotry and greed of power of a despotic priesthood, who saw in the spread of independent thought a menace to the ascendency of their order, then it must be held to be demonstrated that the clergy of New England acted in obedience to those natural laws, which have always regulated the conduct of mankind.
1656, July. First Quakers came to Boston.
1656, 14 Oct. First act against Quakers passed. Providing that ship- masters bringing Quakers should be fined L100. Quakers to be whipped and imprisoned till expelled. Importers of Quaker books to be fined. Any defending Quaker opinions to be fined, first offence, 40s.; second, L4; third, banishment.
1657, 14 Oct. By a supplementary act; Quakers returning after one conviction for first offence, for men, loss of one ear; imprisonment till exile. Second offence, loss other ear, like imprisonment. For females; first offence, whipping, imprisonment. Second offence, idem. Third offence, men and women alike; tongue to be bored with a hot iron, imprisonment, exile. [Footnote: Mass. Rec. vol. iv. pt. 1, p. 309.]
1658. In this year Rev. John Norton actively exerted himself to secure more stringent legislation; procured petition to that effect to be presented to court.
1658, 19 Oct. Enacted that undomiciled Quakers returning from banishment should be hanged. Domiciled Quakers upon conviction, refusing to apostatize, to be banished, under pain of death on return. [Footnote: Idem, p. 346.]
Under this act the following persons were hanged:
1659, 27 Oct. Robinson and Stevenson hanged.
1660, 1 June. Mary Dyer hanged. (Previously condemned, reprieved, and executed for returning.)
1660-1661, 14 Mar. William Leddra hanged.
1661, June. Wenlock Christison condemned to death; released.
1661, 22 May. Vagabond Act. Any person convicted before a county magistrate of being an undomiciled or vagabond Quaker to be stripped naked to the middle, tied to the cart's tail, and flogged from town to town to the border. Domiciled Quakers to be proceeded against under Act of 1658 to banishment, and then treated as vagabond Quakers. The death penalty was still preserved but not enforced. [Footnote: Mass. Rec. vol. iv. pt. 2, p. 3.]
1661, 9 Sept. King Charles II. wrote to Governor Endicott directing the cessation of corporal punishment in regard to Quakers, and ordering the accused to be sent to England for trial.
1661. 27 Nov. Vagabond Act suspended.
1662. 28 June. The company's agents, Bradstreet and Norton, received from the king his letter of pardon, etc., wherein, however, Quakers are excepted from the demand made for religious toleration.
1662, 8 Oct. Encouraged by the above letter the Vagabond law revived.
1664-5, 15 March. Death of John Endicott. Bellingham governor. Commissioners interfere on behalf of Quakers in May. The persecution subsides.
1672, 3 Nov. Persecution revived by passage of law punishing persons found at Quaker meeting by fine or imprisonment and flogging. Also fining constables for neglect in making arrests and giving one third the fine to informers. [Footnote: Mass. Rec. v. 60.]
1677, Aug. 9. Margaret Brewster whipped for entering the Old South in sackcloth.
1656, Mary Prince. 1662, Deborah Wilson. 1658, Sarah Gibbons. 1663, Thomas Newhouse. " Dorothy Waugh. " Edward Wharton. 1660, John Smith. 1664, Hannah Wright. [Footnote: Uncertain.] 1661, Katherine Chatham. " Mary Tomkins. " George Wilson. 1665, Lydia Wardwell. 1662, Elizabeth Hooton. 1677, Margaret Brewster.
"It was in the month called July, of this present year  when Mary Fisher and Ann Austin arrived in the road before Boston, before ever a law was made there against the Quakers; and yet they were very ill treated; for before they came ashore, the deputy governor, Richard Bellingham (the governor himself being out of town) sent officers aboard, who searched their trunks and chests, and took away the books they found there, which were about one hundred, and carried them ashore, after having commanded the said women to be kept prisoners aboard; and the said books were, by an order of the council, burnt in the market-place by the hangman.... And then they were shut up close prisoners, and command was given that none should come to them without leave; a fine of five pounds being laid on any that should otherwise come at, or speak with them, tho' but at the window. Their pens, ink, and paper were taken from them, and they not suffered to have any candle-light in the night season; nay, what is more, they were stript naked, under pretence to know whether they were witches [a true touch of sacerdotal malignity] tho' in searching no token was found upon them but of innocence. And in this search they were so barbarously misused that modesty forbids to mention it: And that none might have communication with them a board was nailed up before the window of the jail. And seeing they were not provided with victuals, Nicholas Upshal, one who had lived long in Boston, and was a member of the church there, was so concerned about it, (liberty being denied to send them provision) that he purchased it of the jailor at the rate of five shillings a week, lest they should have starved. And after having been about five weeks prisoners, William Chichester, master of a vessel, was bound in one hundred pound bond to carry them back, and not suffer any to speak with them, after they were put on board; and the jailor kept their beds ... and their Bible, for his fees." [Footnote: Sewel, p. 160.]
Endicott was much dissatisfied with the forbearance of Bellingham, and declared that had he "been there ... he would have had them well whipp'd." [Footnote: New England Judged, ed. 1703, p. 10.] No exertion was spared, nevertheless, to get some hold upon them, the elders examining them as to matters of faith, with a view to ensnare them as heretics. In this, however, they were foiled.
On the authority of Hutchinson, Dr. Dexter [Footnote: As to Roger Williams, p. 127.] and r. Palfrey complain [Footnote: Palfrey, ii. 464.] that Mary Prince reviled two of the ministers, who "with much moderation and tenderness endeavored to convince her of her errors." [Footnote: Hutch. Hist. i. 181.] A visitation of the clergy was a form of torment from which even the boldest recoiled; Vane, Gorton, Childe, and Anne Hutchinson quailed under it, and though the Quakers abundantly proved that they could bear stripes with patience, they could not endure this. She called them "Baal's priests, the seed of the serpent." Dr. Ellis also speaks of "stinging objurgations screamed out ... from between the bars of their prisons." [Footnote: Mem. Hist. of Boston, i. 182.] He cites no cases, but he probably refers to the same woman who called to Endicott one Sunday on his way from church: "Woe unto thee, thou art an oppressor." [Footnote: Hutch. Hist. i. 181.] If she said so she spoke the truth, for she was illegally imprisoned, was deprived of her property, and subjected to great hardship.
In October, 1656, the first of the repressive acts was passed, by which the "cursed" and "blasphemous" intruders were condemned to be "comitted to the house of correction, and at theire entrance to be seuerely whipt and by the master thereof to be kept constantly to worke, and none suffered to converse or speak with them;" [Footnote: Mass. Rec. vol. iv. pt. 1, p. 278.] and any captain knowingly bringing them within the jurisdiction to be fined one hundred pounds, with imprisonment till payment.
"When this law was published at the door of the aforenamed Nicholas Upshall, the good old man, grieved in spirit, publickly testified against it; for which he was the next morning sent for to the General Court, where he told them that: 'The execution of that law would be a forerunner of a judgment upon their country, and therefore in love and tenderness which he bare to the people and place, desired them to take heed, lest they were found fighters against God.' For this, he, though one of their church- members, and of a blameless conversation, was fined L20 and L3 more for not coming to church, whence the sense of their wickedness had induced him to absent himself. They also banished him out of their jurisdiction, allowing him but one month for his departure, though in the winter season, and he a weakly ancient man: Endicott the governor, when applied to on his behalf for a mitigation of his fine, churlishly answered, 'I will not bate him a groat.'" [Footnote: Besse, ii. 181.]
Although, after the autumn of 1656, whippings, fines, and banishments became frequent, no case of misconduct is alleged until the 13th of the second month, 1658, when Sarah Gibbons and Dorothy Waugh broke two bottles in Mr. Norton's church, after lecture, to testify to his emptiness; [Footnote: This charge is unproved.] both had previously been imprisoned and banished, but the ferocity with which Norton at that moment was forcing on the persecution was the probable incentive to the trespass. "They were sent to the house of correction, where, after being kept three days without any food, they were cruelly whipt, and kept three days longer without victuals, though they had offered to buy some, but were not suffered." [Footnote: Besse, ii. 184.]
In 1661 Katharine Chatham walked through Boston, in sackcloth. This was during the trial of Christison for his life, when the terror culminated, and hardly needs comment.
George Wilson is charged with having "rushed through the streets of Boston, shouting: 'The Lord is coming with fire and sword!'" [Footnote: As to Roger Williams, p. 133.] The facts appear to be these: in 1661, just before Christison's trial, he was arrested, without any apparent reason, and, as he was led to prison, he cried, that the Lord was coming with fire and sword to plead with Boston. [Footnote: New England Judged, ed. 1703, p. 351.] At the general jail delivery [Footnote: Mass. Rec. vol. iv. pt. 2, p. 19. Order passed 28 May, 1661.] in anticipation of the king's order, he was liberated, but soon rearrested, "sentenced to be tied to the cart's tail," and flogged with so severe a whip that the Quakers wanted to buy it "to send to England for the novelty of the cruelty, but that was not permitted." [Footnote: Besse, ii. 224.]
Elizabeth Hooton coming from England in 1661, with Joan Brooksup, "they were soon clapt up in prison, and, upon their discharge thence, being driven with the rest two days' journey into the vast, howling wilderness, and there left ... without necessary provisions." [Footnote: Besse, ii. 228, 229.] They escaped to Barbadoes. "Upon their coming again to Boston, they were presently apprehended by a constable, an ignorant and furious zealot, who declared, 'It was his delight, and he could rejoice in following the Quakers to their execution as much as ever.'" Wishing to return once more, she obtained a license from the king to buy a house in any plantation. Though about sixty, she was seized at Dover, where the Rev. Mr. Rayner was settled, put into the stocks, and imprisoned four days in the dead of winter, where she nearly perished from cold. [Footnote: Besse, ii. 229.] Afterward, at Cambridge, she exhorted the people to repentance in the streets, [Footnote: "Repentance! Repentance! A day of howling and sad lamentation is coming upon you all from the Lord."] and for this crime, which is cited as an outrage to Puritan decorum, [Footnote: As to Roger Williams, p. 133.] she was once more apprehended and "imprisoned in a close, stinking dungeon, where there was nothing either to lie down or sit on, where she was kept two days and two nights without bread or water," and then sentenced to be whipped through three towns. "At Cambridge she was tied to the whipping-post, and lashed with ten stripes with a three-stringed whip, with three knots at the end: At Watertown she was laid on with ten stripes more with rods of willow: At Dedham, in a cold frosty morning, they tortured her aged body with ten stripes more at a cart's tail." The peculiar atrocity of flogging from town to town lay in this: that the victim's wounds became cold between the times of punishment, and in winter sometimes frozen, which made the torture intolerably agonizing. Then, as hanging was impossible, other means were tried to make an end of her: "Thus miserably torn and beaten, they carried her a weary journey on horseback many miles into the wilderness, and toward night left her there among wolves, bears, and other wild beasts, who, though they did sometimes seize on living persons, were yet to her less cruel than the savage-professors of that country. When those who conveyed her thither left her, they said, 'They thought they should never see her more.'" [Footnote: Besse, ii. 229. See New England Judged, p. 413.]
The intent to kill is obvious, and yet Elizabeth Hooton suffered less than many of those convicted and sentenced after public indignation had forced the theocracy to adopt what their reverend successors are pleased to call the "humaner policy" of the Vagabond Act. [Footnote: As to Roger Williams, p. 134.]
Any want of deference to a clergyman is sure to be given a prominent place in the annals of Massachusetts; and, accordingly, the breaking of bottles in church, which happened twice in twenty-one years, is never omitted.
In 1663 "John Liddal, and Thomas Newhouse, having been at meeting" (at Salem), "were apprehended and ... sentenced to be whipt through three towns as vagabonds," which was accordingly done.
"Not long after this, the aforesaid Thomas Newhouse was again whipt through the jurisdiction of Boston for testifying against the persecutors in their meeting-house there; at which time he, in a prophetick manner, having two glass bottles in his hands, threw them down, saying, 'so shall you be dashed in pieces.'" [Footnote: Besse, ii. 232.]
The next turbulent Quaker is mentioned in this way by Dr. Dexter: "Edward Wharton was 'pressed in spirit' to repair to Dover and proclaim 'Wo, vengeance, and the indignation of the Lord' upon the court in session there." [Footnote: As to Roger Williams, p. 133.] This happened in the summer of 1663, and long ere then he had seen and suffered the oppression that makes men mad. He was a peaceable and industrious inhabitant of Salem; in 1659 he had seen Robinson and Stevenson done to death, and, being deeply moved, he said, "the guilt of [their] blood was so great that he could not bear it;" [Footnote: Besse, ii. 205.] he was taken from his home, given twenty lashes and fined twenty pounds; the next year, just at the time of Christison's trial, he was again seized, led through the country like a notorious offender, and thrown into prison, "where he was kept close, night and day, with William Leddra, sometimes in a very little room, little bigger than a saw-pit, having no liberty granted them."
"Being brought before their court, he again asked, 'What is the cause, and wherefore have I been fetcht from my habitation, where I was following my honest calling, and here laid up as an evil-doer?' They told him, that 'his hair was too long, and that he had disobeyed that commandment which saith, Honour thy father and mother.' He asked, 'Wherein?' 'In that you will not,' said they, 'put off your hat to magistrates.' Edward replied, 'I love and own all magistrates and rulers, who are for the punishment of evil doers, and for the praise of them that do well.'" [Footnote: Besse, ii. 220.]
Then Rawson pronounced the sentence: "You are upon pain of death to depart this jurisdiction, it being the 11th of this instant March, by the one and twentieth of the same, on the pain of death.... 'Nay [said Wharton], I shall not go away; therefore be careful what you do.'" [Footnote: Besse, ii. 221.]
And he did not go, but was with Leddra when he died upon the tree. On the day Leddra suffered, Christison was brought before Endicott, and commanded to renounce his religion; but he answered: "Nay, I shall not change my religion, nor seek to save my life; ... but if I lose my life for Christ's sake and the preaching of the gospel, I shall save it." They then sent him back to prison to await his doom. At the next court he was brought to the bar, where he demanded an appeal to England; but in the midst a letter was brought in from Wharton, signifying, "That whereas they had banished him on pain of death, yet he was at home in his own house at Salem, and therefore proposing, 'That they would take off their wicked sentence from him, that he might go about his occasions out of their jurisdiction.'" [Footnote: Besse, ii. 222, 223.]
Endicott was exasperated to frenzy, for he felt the ground crumbling beneath him; he put the fate of Christison to the vote, and failed to carry a condemnation. "The governor seeing this division, said, 'I could find it in my heart to go home;' being in such a rage, that he flung something furiously on the table. ...Then the governor put the court to vote again; but this was done confusedly, which so incensed the governor that he stood up and said, 'You that will not consent record it: I thank God I am not afraid to give judgment...Wenlock Christison, hearken to your sentence: You must return unto the place from whence you came, and from thence to the place of execution, and there you must be hang'd until you are dead, dead, dead.'" [Footnote: Sewel, p. 279.] Thereafter Wharton invoked the wrath of God against the theocracy.
To none of the enormities committed, during these years are the divines more keenly alive than to the crime of disturbing what they call "public Sabbath worship;" [Footnote: As to Roger Williams, p. 139.] and since their language conveys the impression that such acts were not only very common, but also unprovoked, whereas the truth is that they were rare, it cannot fail to be instructive to relate the causes which led to the interruption of the ordination of that Mr. Higginson, who called the "inner light" "a stinking vapour from hell." [Footnote: Ordained July 8, 1660. Annals of Salem.]
John and Margaret Smith were members of the Salem church, and John was a freeman. In 1658, Margaret became a Quaker, and though in feeble health, she was cast into prison, and endured the extremities of privation; her sufferings and her patience so wrought upon her husband that he too became a convert, and a few weeks before the ceremony wrote to Endicott:
"O governour, governour, do not think that my love to my wife is at all abated, because I sit still silent, and do not seek her ... freedom, which if I did would not avail.... Upon examination of her, there being nothing justly laid to her charge, yet to fulfil your wills, it was determined, that she must have ten stripes in the open market place, it being very cold, the snow lying by the walls, and the wind blowing cold.... My love is much more increased to her, because I see your cruelty so much enlarged to her." [Footnote: Besse, ii. 208, 209.]
Yet, though laboring under such intense excitement, the only act of insubordination wherewith this man is charged was saying in a loud voice during the service, "What you are going about to set up, our God is pulling down." [Footnote: Hutch. Hist. i. 187.]
Dr. Dexter also speaks with pathos of the youth of some of the criminals.
"Hannah Wright, a mere girl of less than fifteen summers, toiled ... from Oyster Bay ... to Boston, that she might pipe in the ears of the court 'a warning in the name of the Lord.'" [Footnote: As to Roger Williams, p. 133.] This appears to have happened in 1664, [Footnote: Besse, ii. 234. New England Judged, ed. 1703, p. 461.] yet the name of Hannah Wright is recorded among those who were released in the general jail delivery in 1661, [Footnote: Besse, ii. 224.] when she was only twelve; and her sister had been banished. [Footnote: New England Judged, ed. 1703, p. 461.]
But of all the scandals which have been dwelt on for two centuries with such unction, none have been made more notorious than certain extravagances committed by three women; and regarding them, the reasoning of Dr. Dexter should be read in full.
"The Quaker of the seventeenth century ... was essentially a coarse, blustering, conceited, disagreeable, impudent fanatic; whose religion gained subjective comfort in exact proportion to the objective comfort of which it was able to deprive others; and which broke out into its choicest exhibitions in acts which were not only at that time in the nature of a public scandal and nuisance, but which even in the brightest light of this nineteenth century ... would subject those who should be guilty of them to the immediate and stringent attention of the police court. The disturbance of public Sabbath worship, and the indecent exposure of the person— whether conscience be pleaded for them or not—are punished, and rightly punished, as crimes by every civilized government." [Footnote: As to Roger Williams, pp. 138, 139.]
This paragraph undoubtedly refers to Mary Tomkins, who "on the First Day of the week at Oyster River, broke up the service of God's house ... the scene ending in deplorable confusion;" [Footnote: As to Roger Williams, p. 133.] and to Lydia Wardwell and Deborah Wilson, who appeared in public naked.
Mary Tomkins and Alice Ambrose came to Massachusetts in 1662; landing at Dover, they began preaching at the inn, to which a number of people resorted. Mr. Rayner, hearing the news, hurried to the spot, and in much irritation asked them what they were doing there? This led to an argument about the Trinity, and the authority of ministers, and at last the clergyman "in a rage flung away, calling to his people, at the window, to go from amongst them." [Footnote: New England Judged, ed. 1703, p. 362.] Nothing was done at the moment, but toward winter the two came back from Maine, whither they had gone, and then Mr. Rayner saw his opportunity. He caused Richard Walden to prosecute them, and as the magistrate was ignorant of the technicalities of the law, the elder acted as clerk, and drew up for him the following warrant:—
* * * * *
To the Constables of Dover, Hampton, Salisbury, Newbury, Rowley, Ipswich, Wenham, Linn, Boston, Roxbury, Dedham, and until these vagabond Quakers are carried out of this jurisdiction. You and every of you are required, in the King's Majesty's name, to take these vagabond Quakers, Anne Coleman, Mary Tomkins and Alice Ambrose, and make them fast to the cart's tail, and driving the cart through your several towns, to whip them on their backs, not exceeding ten stripes apiece on each of them in each town, and so to convey them from constable to constable, till they come out of this jurisdiction, as you will answer it at your peril: and this shall be your warrant.
Per me RICHARD WALDEN. At Dover, dated December the 22d, 1662. [Footnote: Besse, ii. 227.]
* * * * *
The Rev. John Rayner pronounced judgment of death by flogging, for the weather was bitter, the distance to be walked was eighty miles, and the lashes were given with a whip, whose three twisted, knotted thongs cut to the bone.
"So, in a very cold day, your deputy, Walden, caused these women to be stripp'd naked from the middle upward, and tyed to a cart, and after a while cruelly whipp'd them, whilst the priest stood and looked, and laughed at it.... They went with the executioner to Hampton, and through dirt and snow at Salisbury, half way the leg deep, the constable forced them after the cart's tayl at which he whipp'd them." [Footnote: New England Judged, pp. 366, 367.]
Had the Reverend John Rayner but followed the cart, to see that his three hundred and thirty lashes were all given with the same ferocity which warmed his heart to mirth at Dover, before his journey's end he would certainly have joyed in giving thanks to God over the women's gory corpses, freezing amid the snow. His negligence saved their lives, for when the ghastly pilgrims passed through Salisbury, the people to their eternal honor set the captives free.
Soon after, on Sunday,—"Whilst Alice Ambrose was at prayer, two constables ... came ... and taking her ... dragged her out of doors, and then with her face toward the snow, which was knee deep, over stumps and old trees near a mile; when they had wearied themselves they ... left the prisoner in an house ... and fetched Mary Tomkins, whom in like manner they dragged with her face toward the snow....On the next morning, which was excessive cold, they got a canoe ... and so carried them to the harbour's mouth, threatning, that 'They would now so do with them, as that they would be troubled with them no more.' The women being unwilling to go, they forced them down a very steep place in the snow, dragging Mary Tomkins over the stumps of trees to the water side, so that she was much bruised, and fainted under their hands: They plucked Alice Ambrose into the water, and kept her swimming by the canoe in great danger of drowning, or being frozen to death. They would in all probability have proceeded in their wicked purpose to the murthering of those three women, had they not been prevented by a sudden storm, which drove them back to the house again. They kept the women there till near midnight, and then cruelly turned them out of doors in the frost and snow, Alice Ambrose's clothes being frozen hard as boards.... It was observable that those constables, though wicked enough of themselves, were animated by a ruling elder of their church, whose name corresponded not with his actions, for he was called Hate-evil Nutter, he put those men forward, and by his presence encouraged them." [Footnote: Besse, ii. 228.]
Subsequently, Mary Tomkins committed the breach of the peace complained of, which was an interruption of a sermon against Quaker preaching. [Footnote: New England Judged, ed. 1703, p. 386.]
Deborah Wilson, one of the women who went abroad naked, was insane, the fact appearing of record subsequently as the judgment of the court. She was flogged. [Footnote: Quaker Invasion, p. 104.]
Lydia Wardwell was the daughter of Isaac Perkins, a freeman. She married Eliakim Wardwell, son of Thomas Wardwell, who was also a citizen. They became Quakers; and the story begins when the poor young woman had been a wife just three years. "At Hampton, Priest Seaborn Cotton, understanding that one Eliakim Wardel had entertained Wenlock Christison, went with some of his herd to Eliakim's house, having like a sturdy herdsman put himself at the head of his followers, with a truncheon in his hand." Eliakim was fined for harboring Christison, and "a pretty beast for the saddle, worth about fourteen pound, was taken ... the overplus of [Footnote: Sewel, p. 340.] which to make up to him, your officers plundred old William Marston of a vessel of green ginger, which for some fine was taken from him, and forc'd it into Eliakim's house, where he let it lie and touched it not; ... and notwithstanding he came not to your invented worship, but was fined ten shillings a day's absence, for him and his wife, yet was he often rated for priest's hire; and the priest (Seaborn Cotton, old John Cotton's son) to obtain his end and to cover himself, sold his rate to a man almost as bad as himself, ... who coming in pretence of borrowing a little corn for himself, which the harmless honest man willingly lent him; and he finding thereby that he had corn, which was his design, Judas-like, he went ... and measured it away as he pleased."
"Another time, the said Eliakim being rated to the said priest, Seaborn Cotton, the said Seaborn having a mind to a pied heifer Eliakim had, as Ahab had to Naboth's vineyard, sent his servant nigh two miles to fetch her; who having robb'd Eliakim of her, brought her to his master."...
"Again the said Eliakim was had to your court, and being by them fined, they took almost all his marsh and meadow-ground from him to satisfie it, which was for the keeping his cattle alive in winter ... and [so] seized and took his estate, that they plucked from him most of that he had." [Footnote: New England Judged, ed. 1703, pp. 374-376.] Lydia Wardwell, thus reduced to penury, and shaken by the daily scenes of unutterable horror through which she had to pass, was totally unequal to endure the strain under which the masculine intellect of Anne Hutchinson had reeled. She was pursued by her pastor, who repeatedly commanded her to come to church and explain her absence from communion. [Footnote: Besse, ii. 235.] The miserable creature, brooding over her blighted life and the torments of her friends, became possessed with the delusion that it was her duty to testify against the barbarity of flogging naked women; so she herself went in among them naked for a sign. There could be no clearer proof of insanity, for it is admitted that in every other respect her conduct was exemplary.
Her judges at Ipswich had her bound to a rough post of the tavern, in which they sat, and then, while the splinters tore her bare breasts, they had her flesh cut from her back with the lash. [Footnote: New England Judged, ed. 1703, p. 377.]
"Thus they served the wife, and the husband escaped not free; ... he taxing Simon Broadstreet, ... for upbraiding his wife ... and telling Simon of his malitious reproaching of his wife who was an honest woman ... and of that report that went abroad of the known dishonesty of Simon's daughter, Seaborn Cotton's wife; Simon in a fierce rage, told the court, 'That if such fellows should be suffered to speak so in the court, he would sit there no more:' So to please Simon, Eliakim was sentenc'd to be stripp'd from his waste upward, and to be bound to an oak-tree that stood by their worship-house, and to be whipped fifteen lashes; ... as they were having him out ... he called to Seaborn Cotton ... to come and see the work done (so far was he from being daunted by their cruelty), who hastned out and followed him thither, and so did old Wiggins, one of the magistrates, who when Eliakim was tyed to the tree and stripp'd, said ... to the whipper... 'Whip him a good;' which the executioner cruelly performed with cords near as big as a man's little finger;... Priest Cotton standing near him ... Eliakim ... when he was loosed from the tree, said to him, amongst the people, 'Seaborn, hath my py'd heifer calv'd yet?' Which Seaborn, the priest, hearing stole away like a thief." [Footnote: New England Judged, ed. 1703, pp. 377-379.]
As Margaret Brewster was the last who is known to have been whipped, so is she one of the most famous, for she has been immortalized by Samuel Sewall, an honest, though a dull man.
"July 8, 1677. New Meeting House Mane: In sermon time there came in a female Quaker, in a canvas frock, her hair disshevelled and loose like a Periwigg, her face as black as ink, led by two other Quakers, and two other followed. It occasioned the greatest and most amazing uproar that I ever saw. Isaiah 1. 12, 14." [Footnote: Mass. Hist. Coll. fifth series, v. 43.]
In 1675 the persecution had been revived, and the stories the woman heard of the cruelties that were perpetrated on those of her own faith inspired her with the craving to go to New England to protest against the wrong; so she journeyed thither, and entered the Old South one Sunday morning clothed in sackcloth, with ashes on her head.
At her trial she asked for leave to speak: "Governour, I desire thee to hear me a little, for I have something to say in behalf of my friends in this place: ... Oh governour! I cannot but press thee again and again, to put an end to these cruel laws that you have made to fetch my friends from their peaceable meetings, and keep them three days in the house of correction, and then whip them for worshipping the true and living God: Governour! Let me entreat thee to put an end to these laws, for the desire of my soul is, that you may act for God, and then would you prosper, but if you act against the Lord and his blessed truth, you will assuredly come to nothing, the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it." ...
"Margaret Brewster, You are to have your clothes stript off to the middle, and to be tied to a cart's tail at the South Meeting House, and to be drawn through the town, and to receive twenty stripes upon your naked body."
"The will of the Lord be done: I am contented." ...
Governour. "Take her away." [Footnote: Besse, ii. 263, 264.]
So ends the sacerdotal list of Quaker outrages, for, after Margaret Brewster had expiated her crime of protesting against the repression of free thought, there came a toleration, and with toleration a deep tranquillity, so that the very name of Quaker has become synonymous with quietude. The issue between them and the Congregationalists must be left to be decided upon the legal question of their right as English subjects to inhabit Massachusetts; and secondarily upon the opinion which shall be formed of their conduct as citizens, upon the testimony of those witnesses whom the church herself has called. But regarding the great fundamental struggle for liberty of individual opinion, no presentation of the evidence could be historically correct which did not include at least one example of the fate that awaited peaceful families, under this ecclesiastical government, who roused the ire of the priests.
Lawrence and Cassandra Southwick were an aged couple, members of the Salem church, and Lawrence was a freeman. Josiah, their eldest son, was a man; but they had beside a younger boy and girl named Daniel and Provided.
The father and mother were first arrested in 1657 for harboring two Quakers; Lawrence was soon released, but a Quaker tract was found upon Cassandra. [Footnote: Besse, ii. 183.] Although no attempt seems to have been made to prove heresy to bring the case within the letter of the law, the paper was treated as a heretical writing, and she was imprisoned for seven weeks and fined forty shillings.
Persecution made converts fast, and in Salem particularly a number withdrew from the church and began to worship by themselves. All were soon arrested, and the three Southwicks were again sent to Boston, this time to serve as an example. They arrived on the 3d of February, 1657; without form of trial they were whipped in the extreme cold weather and imprisoned eleven days. Their cattle were also seized and sold to pay a fine of L4 l3s. for six weeks' absence from worship on the Lord's day.
The next summer, Leddra, who was afterwards hanged, and William Brend went to Salem, and several persons were seized for meeting with them, among whom were the Southwicks. A room was prepared for the criminals in the Boston prison by boarding up the windows and stopping ventilation. [Footnote: New England Judged, ed. 1703, p. 64.] They were refused food unless they worked to pay for it; but to work when wrongfully confined was against the Quaker's conscience, so they did not eat for five days. On the second day of fasting they were flogged, and then, with wounds undressed, the men and women together were once more locked in the dark, close room, to lie upon the bare boards, in the stifling July heat; for they were not given beds. On the fourth day they were told they might go if they would pay the jail fees and the constables; but they refused, and so were kept in prison. On the morrow the jailer, thinking to bring them to terms, put Brend in irons, neck and heels, and he lay without food for sixteen hours upon his back lacerated with flogging.
The next day the miserable man was ordered to work, but he lacked the strength, had he been willing, for he was weak from starvation and pain, and stiffened by the irons. And now the climax came. The jailer seized a tarred rope and beat him till it broke; then, foaming with fury, he dragged the old man down stairs, and, with a new rope, gave him ninety- seven blows, when his strength failed; and Brend, his flesh black and beaten to jelly, and his bruised skin hanging in bags full of clotted blood, was thrust into his cell. There, upon the floor of that dark and fetid den, the victim fainted. But help was at hand; an outcry was raised, the people could bear no more, the doors were opened, and he was rescued. [Footnote: New England Judged, ed. 1703, p. 66.]
The indignation was deep, and the government was afraid. Endicott sent his own doctor, but the surgeon said that Brend's flesh would "rot from off his bones," and he must die. And now the mob grew fierce and demanded justice on the ruffian who had done this deed, and the magistrates nailed a paper on the church door promising to bring him to trial.
Then it was that the true spirit of his order blazed forth in Norton, for the jailer was fashioned in his own image, and he threw over him the mantle of the holy church. He made the magistrates take the paper down, rebuking them for their faintness of heart, saying to them:—
William "Brend endeavoured to beat our gospel ordinances black and blue, if he then be beaten black and blue, it is but just upon him, and I will appear in his behalf that did so." [Footnote: Besse, ii. 186.] And the man was justified, and commanded to whip "the Quakers in prison ... twice a week, if they refused to work, and the first time to add five stripes to the former ten, and each time to add three to them.... Which order ye sent to the jaylor, to strengthen his hands to do yet more cruelly; being somewhat weakened by the fright of his former doings." [Footnote: New England Judged, ed. 1703, p. 67.]
After this the Southwicks, being still unable to obtain their freedom, sent the following letter to the magistrates, which is a good example of the writings of these "coarse, blustering, ... impudent fanatics:"— [Footnote: As to Roger Williams, p. 138.]
* * * * *
This to the Magistrates at Court in Salem.
Whereas it was your pleasures to commit us, whose names are under-written, to the house of correction in Boston, altho' the Lord, the righteous Judge of heaven and earth, is our witness, that we had done nothing worthy of stripes or of bonds; and we being committed by your court, to be dealt withal as the law provides for foreign Quakers, as ye please to term us; and having some of us, suffered your law and pleasures, now that which we do expect, is, that whereas we have suffered your law, so now to be set free by the same law, as your manner is with strangers, and not to put us in upon the account of one law, and execute another law upon us, of which, according to your own manner, we were never convicted as the law expresses. If you had sent us upon the account of your new law, we should have expected the jaylor's order to have been on that account, which that it was not, appears by the warrant which we have, and the punishment which we bare, as four of us were whipp'd, among whom was one that had formerly been whipp'd, so now also according to your former law. Friends, let it not be a small thing in your eyes, the exposing as much as in you lies, our families to ruine. It's not unknown to you the season, and the time of the year, for those that live of husbandry, and what their cattle and families may be exposed unto; and also such as live on trade; we know if the spirit of Christ did dwell and rule in you, these things would take impression on your spirits. What our lives and conversations have been in that place, is well known; and what we now suffer for, is much for false reports, and ungrounded jealousies of heresie and sedition. These thing lie upon us to lay before you. As for our parts, we have true peace and rest in the Lord in all our sufferings, and are made willing in the power and strength of God, freely to offer up our lives in this cause of God, for which we suffer; Yea and we do find (through grace) the enlargements of God in our imprisoned state, to whom alone we commit ourselves and families, for the disposing of us according to his infinite wisdom and pleasure, in whose love is our rest and life.
From the House of Bondage in Boston wherein we are made captives by the wills of men, although made free by the Son, John 8, 36. In which we quietly rest, this 16th of the 5th month, 1658.
LAWRENCE CASSANDRA SOUTHWICK JOSIAH SAMUEL SHATTOCK JOSHUA BUFFUM. [Footnote: New England Judged, ed. 1703, p. 74.]
* * * * *
What the prisoners apprehended was being kept in prison and punished under an ex post facto law, and this was precisely what was done. When brought into court they demanded to be told the crime wherewith they were charged. They were answered: "It was 'Entertaining the Quakers who were their enemies; not coming to their meetings; and meeting by themselves.' They adjoyned, 'That as to those things they had already fastned their law upon them.' ... So ye had nothing left but the hat, for which (then) ye had no law. They answered—that they intended no offence to ye in coming thither ... for it was not their manner to have to do with courts. And as for withdrawing from their meetings, or keeping on their hats, or doing anything in contempt of them, or their laws, they said, the Lord was their witness ... that they did it not. So ye rose up, and bid the jaylor take them away." [Footnote: New England Judged, ed. 1703, p. 85.]
An acquittal seemed certain; yet it was intolerable to the clergy that these accursed blasphemers should elude them when they held them in their grasp; wherefore, the next day, the Rev. Charles Chauncy, preaching at Thursday lecture, thus taught Christ's love for men: "Suppose ye should catch six wolves in a trap ... [there were six Salem Quakers] and ye cannot prove that they killed either sheep or lambs; and now ye have them they will neither bark nor bite: yet they have the plain marks of wolves. Now I leave it to your consideration whether ye will let them go alive, yea or nay." [Footnote: Idem, pp. 85, 86.]
Then the divines had a consultation, "and your priests were put to it, how to prove them as your law had said: and ye had them before you again, and your priests were with you, every one by his side (so came ye to your court) and John Norton must ask them questions, on purpose to ensnare them, that by your standing law for hereticks, ye might condemn them (as your priests before consulted) and when this would not do (for the Lord was with them, and made them wiser than your teachers) ye made a law to banish them, upon pain of death...." [Footnote: Idem, p. 87.]
After a violent struggle, the ministers, under Norton's lead, succeeded, on the 19th of October, 1658, in forcing the capital act through the legislature, which contained a clause making the denial of reverence to superiors, or in other words, the wearing the hat, evidence of Quakerism. [Footnote: New England Judged, ed. 1703, pp. 100, 101; Mass. Rec. vol. iv. pt. 1, p. 346.]
On that very day the bench ordered the prisoners at Ipswich to be brought to the bar, and the Southwicks were bidden to depart before the spring elections. [Footnote: Mass. Rec. vol. iv. pt. 1, p. 349.] They did not go, and in May were once more in the felon's dock. They asked what wrong they had done. The judges told them they were rebellious for not going as they had been commanded. The old man and woman piteously pleaded "that they had no otherwhere to go," nor had they done anything to deserve banishment or death, though L100 (all they had in the world) had been taken from them for meeting together. [Footnote: New England Judged, ed. 1703, p. 106.]
"Major-General Dennison replied, that 'they stood against the authority of the country, in not submitting to their laws: that he should not go about to speak much concerning the error of their judgments: but,' added he, 'you and we are not able well to live together, and at present the power is in our hand, and therefore the stronger must send off.'" [Footnote: Besse, ii. 198.]
The father, mother, and son were banished under pain of death. The aged couple were sent to Shelter Island, but their misery was well-nigh done; they perished within a few days of each other, tortured to death by flogging and starvation.
Josiah was shipped to England, but afterward returned, was seized, and in the "seventh month, 1661, you had him before you, and at which according to your former law, he should have been tried for his life."
"But the great occasion you took against him, was his hat, which you commanded him to pull off: 'He told your governour he could not.' You said, 'He would not.' He told you, 'It was a cross to his will to keep it on; ... and that he could not do it for conscience sake.' ... But your governour told him, 'That he was to have been tryed for his life, but that you had made your late law to save his life, which, you said, was mercy to him.' Then he asked you, 'Whether you were not as good to take his life now, as to whip him after your manner, twelve or fourteen times at the cart's tail, through your towns, and then put him to death afterward?'" He was condemned to be flogged through Boston, Roxbury, and Dedham; but he, when he heard the judgment, "with arms stretched out, and hands spread before you, said, 'Here is my body, if you want a further testimony of the truth I profess, take it and tear it in pieces ... it is freely given up, and as for your sentence I matter it not.'" [Footnote: New England Judged, ed. 1703, pp. 354-356.]
This coarse, blustering, impudent fanatic had, indeed, "with a dogged pertinacity persisted in outrages which "had driven" the authorities almost to frenzy; "therefore they tied him to a cart and lashed him for fifteen miles, and while he "sang to the praise of God," his tormentor swung with all his might a tremendous two-handed whip, whose knotted thongs were made of twisted cat-gut; [Footnote: New England Judged, ed. 1703, p. 357, note.] thence he was carried fifteen miles from any town into the wilderness." [Footnote: Besse, ii. 225.]
An end had been made of the grown members of the family, but the two children were still left. To reach them, the device was conceived of enforcing the penalty for not attending church, since "it was well known they had no estate, their parents being already brought to poverty by their rapacious persecutors." [Footnote: Sewel, p. 223.]
Accordingly, they were summoned and asked to account for their absence from worship. Daniel answered "that if they had not so persecuted his father and mother perhaps he might have come." [Footnote: New England Judged, ed. 1703, p. 381.] They were fined; and on the day on which they lost their parents forever, the sale as slaves of this helpless boy and girl was authorized to satisfy the debt. [Footnote: Mass. Rec. vol. iv. pt. 1, p. 366.]
Edmund Batter, treasurer of Salem, brought the children to the town, and went to a shipmaster who was about to sail, to engage a passage to Barbadoes. The captain made the excuse that they would corrupt his ship's company. "Oh, no," said Batter, "you need not fear that, for they are poor harmless creatures, and will not hurt any body." ... "Will they not so?" broke out the sailor, "and will ye offer to make slaves of so harmless creatures?" [Footnote: New England Judged, ed. 1703, p. 112.]
Thus were free-born English subjects and citizens of Massachusetts dealt with by the priesthood that ruled the Puritan Commonwealth.
None but ecclesiastical partisans can doubt the bearing of such evidence. It was the mortal struggle between conservatism and liberality, between repression and free thought. The elders felt it in the marrow of their bones, and so declared it in their laws, denouncing banishment under pain of death against those "adhering to or approoving of any knoune Quaker, or the tenetts & practices of the Quakers, ... manifesting thereby theire compliance with those whose designe it is to ouerthrow the order established in church and commonwealth." [Footnote: Mass. Rec. vol. iv. pt. 1, p. 346.]
Dennison spoke with an unerring instinct when he said they could not live together, for the faith of the Friends was subversive of a theocracy. Their belief that God revealed himself directly to man led with logical certainty to the substitution of individual judgment for the rules of conduct dictated by a sacred class, whether they claimed to derive their authority from their skill in interpreting the Scriptures, or from traditions preserved by Apostolic Succession. Each man, therefore, became, as it were, a priest unto himself, and they repudiated an ordained ministry. Hence, their crime resembled that of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, who "made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi;" [Footnote: Jeroboam's sin is discussed in Ne Sutor, p. 25; Divine Right of Infant Baptism, p. 26.] and it was for this reason that John Norton and John Endicott resolved upon their extermination, even as Elisha and Jehu conspired to exterminate the house of Ahab.
That they failed was due to no mercy for their victims, nor remorse for the blood they made to flow, but to their inability to control the people. Nothing is plainer upon the evidence, than that popular sympathy was never with the ecclesiastics in their ferocious policy; and nowhere does the contrast of feeling shine out more clearly than in the story of the hanging of Robinson and Stevenson.
The figure of Norton towers above his contemporaries. He held the administration in the hollow of his hand, for Endicott was his mouthpiece; yet even he, backed by the whole power of the clergy, barely succeeded in forcing through the Chamber of Deputies the statute inflicting death.
"The priests and rulers were all for blood, and they pursued it.... This the deputies withstood, and it could not pass, and the opposition grew strong, for the thing came near. Deacon Wozel was a man much affected therewith; and being not well at that time that he supposed the vote might pass, he earnestly desired the speaker ... to send for him when it was to be, lest by his absence it might miscarry. The deputies that were against the ... law, thinking themselves strong enough to cast it out, forbore to send for him. The vote was put and carried in the affirmative,—the speaker and eleven being in the negative and thirteen in the affirmative: so one vote carried it; which troubled Wozel so ... that he got to the court, ... and wept for grief, ... and said 'If he had not been able to go, he would have crept upon his hands and knees, rather than it should have been.'" [Footnote: New England Judged, ed. 1703, pp. 101, 102.]
After the accused had been condemned, the people, being strongly moved, flocked about the prison, so that the magistrates feared a rescue, and a guard was set.
As the day approached the murmurs grew, and on the morning of the execution the troops were under arms and the streets patrolled. Stevenson and Robinson were loosed from their fetters, and Mary Dyer, who also was to die, walked between them; and so they went bravely hand in hand to the scaffold. The prisoners were put behind the drums, and their voices drowned when they tried to speak; for a great multitude was about them, and at a word, in their deep excitement, would have risen. [Footnote: Idem, pp. 122, 123.]
As the solemn procession moved along, they came to where the Reverend John Wilson, the Boston pastor, stood with others of the clergy. Then Wilson "fell a taunting at Robinson, and, shaking his hand in a light, scoffing manner, said, 'Shall such Jacks as you come in before authority with your hats on?' with many other taunting words." Then Robinson replied, "Mind you, mind you, it is for the not putting off the hat we are put to death." [Footnote: New England Judged, ed. 1703, p. 124.]
When they reached the gallows, Robinson calmly climbed the ladder and spoke a few words. He told the people they did not suffer as evil-doers, but as those who manifested the truth. He besought them to mind the light of Christ within them, of which he testified and was to seal with his blood.
He had said so much when Wilson broke in upon him: "Hold thy tongue, be silent; thou art going to dye with a lye in thy mouth." [Footnote: Idem, p. 125.] Then they seized him and bound him, and so he died; and his body was "cast into a hole of the earth," where it lay uncovered.
Even the voters, the picked retainers of the church, were almost equally divided, and beyond that narrow circle the tide of sympathy ran strong.
The Rev. John Rayner stood laughing with joy to see Mary Tomkins and Alice Ambrose flogged through Dover, on that bitter winter day; but the men of Salisbury cut those naked, bleeding women from the cart, and saved them from their awful death.
The Rev. John Norton sneered at the tortures of Brend, and brazenly defended his tormentor; but the Boston mob succored the victim as lie lay fainting on the boards of his dark cell.
The Rev. Charles Chauncy, preaching the word of God, told his hearers to kill the Southwicks like wolves, since he could not have their blood by law; but the honest sailor broke out in wrath when asked to traffic in the flesh of our New England children.
The Rev. John Wilson jeered at Robinson on his way to meet his death, and reviled him as he stood beneath the gibbet, over the hole that was his grave; but even the savage Endicott knew well that all the trainbands of the colony could not have guarded Christison to the gallows from the dungeon where he lay condemned.
Yet awful as is this Massachusetts tragedy, it is but a little fragment of the sternest struggle of the modern world. The power of the priesthood lies in submission to a creed. In their onslaughts on rebellion they have exhausted human torments; nor, in their lust for earthly dominion, have they felt remorse, but rather joy, when slaying Christ's enemies and their own. The horrors of the Inquisition, the Massacre of St. Bartholomew, the atrocities of Laud, the abominations of the Scotch Kirk, the persecution of the Quakers, had one object,—the enslavement of the mind.
Freedom of thought is the greatest triumph over tyranny that brave men have ever won; for this they fought the wars of the Reformation; for this they have left their bones to whiten upon unnumbered fields of battle; for this they have gone by thousands to the dungeon, the scaffold, and the stake. We owe to their heroic devotion the most priceless of our treasures, our perfect liberty of thought and speech; and all who love our country's freedom may well reverence the memory of those martyred Quakers by whose death and agony the battle in New England has been won.
THE SCIRE FACIAS.
Had the Puritan Commonwealth been in reality the thing which its historians have described; had it been a society guided by men devoted to civil liberty, and as liberal in religion as was consistent with the temper of their age, the early relations of Massachusetts toward Great Britain might now be a pleasanter study for her children. Cordiality toward Charles I. would indeed have been impossible, for the Puritans well knew the fate in store for them should the court triumph. Gorges was the representative of the despotic policy toward America, and so early as 1634, probably at his instigation, Laud became the head of a commission, with absolute control over the plantations, while the next year a writ of quo warranto was brought against the patent. [Footnote: See introduction to New Canaan, Prince Soc. ed.] With Naseby, however, these dangers vanished, and thenceforward there would have been nothing to mar an affectionate confidence in both Parliament and the Protector.
In fact, however, Massachusetts was a petty state, too feeble for independence, yet ruled by an autocratic priesthood whose power rested upon legislation antagonistic to English law; therefore the ecclesiastics were jealous of Parliament, and had little love for Cromwell, whom they found wanting in "a thorough testimony against the blasphemers of our days." [Footnote: Diary of Hull, Palfrey, ii. 400, 401, and note.]
The result was that the elders clung obstinately to every privilege which served their ends, and repudiated every obligation which conflicted with their ambition. Clerical political morality seldom fails to be instructive, and the following example is typical of that peculiar mode of reasoning. The terms of admission to ordinary corporations were fixed by each organization for itself, but in case of injustice the courts could give relief by setting aside unreasonable ordinances, and sometimes Parliament itself would interfere, as it did upon the petition against the exactions of the Merchant Adventurers. Now there was nothing upon which the theocracy more strongly insisted than that "our charter doeth expresly give vs an absolute & free choyce of our oune members;" [Footnote: Mass. Rec. v. 287.] because by means of a religious test the ministers could pack the constituencies with their tools; but on the other hand they as strenuously argued "that no appeals or other ways of interrupting our proceedings do lie against us," [Footnote: Winthrop, ii. 283.] because they well knew that any bench of judges before whom such questions might come would annul the most vital of their statutes as repugnant to the British Constitution.
Unfortunately for these churchmen, their objects, as ecclesiastical politicians, could seldom be reconciled with their duty as English subjects. At the outset, though made a corporation within the realm, they felt constrained to organize in America to escape judicial supervision. They were then obliged to incorporate towns and counties, to form a representative assembly, and to levy general taxes and duties, none of which things they had power to do. Still, such irregularities as these, had they been all, most English statesmen would have overlooked as unavoidable. But when it came to adopting a criminal code based on the Pentateuch, and, in support of a dissenting form of worship, fining and imprisoning, whipping, mutilating, and hanging English subjects without the sanction of English law; when, finally, the Episcopal Church itself was suppressed, and peaceful subjects were excluded from the corporation for no reason but because they partook of her communion, and were forbidden to seek redress by appealing to the courts of their king, it seems impossible that any self-respecting government could have long been passive.
At the Restoration Massachusetts had grown arrogant from long impunity. She thought the time of reckoning would never come, and even in trivial matters seemed to take a pride in slighting Great Britain and in vaunting her independence. Laws were enacted in the name of the Commonwealth, the king's name was not in the writs, nor were the royal arms upon the public buildings; even the oath of allegiance was rejected, though it was unobjectionable in form. She had grown to believe that were offence taken she had only to invent pretexts for delay, to have her fault forgotten in some new revolution. General Denison, at the Quaker trials, put the popular belief in a nut-shell: "This year ye will go to complain to the Parliament, and the next year they will send to see how it is; and the third year the government is changed." [Footnote: Sewel, p. 280.]
But, beside these irritating domestic questions, the corporation was bitterly embroiled with its neighbors. Samuel Gorton and his friends were inhabitants of Rhode Island, and were, no doubt, troublesome to deal with; but their particular offence was ecclesiastical. An armed force was sent over the border and they were seized. They were brought to Boston and tried on the charge of being "blasphemous enemies of the true religion of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of all his holy ordinances, and likewise of all civil government among his people, and particularly within this jurisdiction." [Footnote: Winthrop, ii. 146.] All the magistrates but three thought that Gorton ought to die, but he was finally sentenced to an imprisonment of barbarous cruelty. The invasion of Rhode Island was a violation of an independent jurisdiction, the arrest was illegal, the sentence an arbitrary outrage. [Footnote: See paper of Mr. Charles Deane, New Eng. Historical and Genealogical Register, vol. iv.]
Massachusetts was also at feud in the north, and none of her quarrels brought more serious results than this with the proprietors of New Hampshire and Maine. The grant in the charter was of all lands between the Charles and Merrimack, and also all lands within the space of three miles to the northward of the said Merrimack, or to the northward of any part thereof, and all lands lying within the limits aforesaid from the Atlantic to the South Sea.
Clearly the intention was to give a margin of three miles beyond a river which was then supposed to flow from west to east, and accordingly the territory to the north, being unoccupied, was granted to Mason and Gorges. Nor was this construction questioned before 1639—the General Court having at an early day measured off the three miles and marked the boundary by what was called the Bound House.
Gradually, however, as it became known that the Merrimack rose to the north, larger claims were made. In 1641 the four New Hampshire towns were absorbed with the consent of their inhabitants, who thus gained a regular government; another happy consequence was the settlement of sundry eminent divines, by whose ministrations the people "were very much civilized and reformed." [Footnote: Neal's New England, i. 210.]
In 1652 a survey was made of the whole river, and 43 deg. 40' 12" was fixed as the latitude of its source. A line extended east from three miles north of this point came out near Portland, and the intervening space was forthwith annexed. The result of such a policy was that Charles had hardly been crowned before complaints poured in from every side. Quakers, Baptists, Episcopalians, all who had suffered persecution, flocked to the foot of the throne; and beside these came those who had been injured in their estates, foremost of whom were the heirs of Mason and Gorges. The pressure was so great and the outcry so loud that, in September, 1660, it was thought in London a governor-general would be sent to Boston; [Footnote: Leverett to Endicott. Hutch. Coll., Prince Soc. ed. ii. 40.] and, in point of fact, almost the first communication between the king and his colony was his order to spare the Quakers.
The outlook was gloomy, and there was hesitation as to the course to pursue. At length it was decided to send Norton and Bradstreet to England to present an address and protect the public interests. The mission was not agreeable; Norton especially was reluctant, and with reason, for he had been foremost in the Quaker persecutions, and was probably aware that in the eye of English law the executions were homicide.
However, after long vacillation, "the Lord so encouraged and strengthened" his heart that he ventured to sail. [Footnote: Feb. 11, 1661-2. Palfrey, ii. 524.] So far as the crown was concerned apprehension was needless, for Lord Clarendon was prime minister, whose policy toward New England was throughout wise and moderate, and the agents were well received. Still they were restless in London, and Sewel tells an anecdote which may partly account for their impatience to be gone.
"Now the deputies of New England came to London, and endeavored to clear themselves as much as possible, but especially priest Norton, who bowed no less reverently before the archbishop, than before the king....
"They would fain have altogether excused themselves; and priest Norton thought it sufficient to say that he did not assist in the bloody trial, nor had advised to it. But John Copeland, whose ear was cut off at Boston, charged the contrary upon him: and G. Fox, the elder, got occasion to speak with them in the presence of some of his friends, and asked Simon Broadstreet, one of the New England magistrates, 'whether he had not a hand in putting to death those they nicknamed Quakers?' He not being able to deny this confessed he had. Then G. Fox asked him and his associates that were present, 'whether they would acknowledge themselves to be subjects to the laws of England? and if they did by what law they had put his friends to death?' They answered, 'They were subjects to the laws of England; and they had put his friends to death by the same law, as the Jesuits were put to death in England.' Hereupon G. Fox asked, 'whether they did believe that those his friends, whom they had put to death, were Jesuits, or jesuitically affected?' They said 'Nay.' 'Then,' replied G. Fox, 'ye have murdered them; for since ye put them to death by the law that Jesuits are put to death here in England, it plainly appears, you have put them to death arbitrarily, without any law.' Thus Broadstreet, finding himself and his company ensnar'd by their own words, ask'd, 'Are you come to catch us?' But he told them 'They had catch'd themselves, and they might justly be questioned for their lives; and if the father of William Robinson (one of those that were put to death) 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.' Broadstreet seeing himself thus in danger began to flinch and to sculk; for some of the old royalists were earnest with the Quakers to prosecute the New England persecutors. But G. Fox and his friends said, 'They left them to the Lord, to whom vengeance belonged, and he would repay it.' Broadstreet however, not thinking it safe to stay in England, left the city, and with his companions went back again to New England." [Footnote: Sewel, p. 288.]
The following June the agents were given the king's answer [Footnote: 1662, June 28.] to their address and then sailed for home. It is certainly a most creditable state paper. The people of Massachusetts were thanked for their good will, they were promised oblivion for the past, and were assured that they should have their charter confirmed to them and be safe in all their privileges and liberties, provided they would make certain reforms in their government. They were required to repeal such statutes as were contrary to the laws of England, to take the oath of allegiance, and to administer justice in the king's name. And then followed two propositions that were crucial: "And since the principle and foundation of that charter was and is the freedom of liberty of conscience, wee do hereby charge and require you that that freedom and liberty be duely admitted," especially in favor of those "that desire to use the Book of Common Prayer." And secondly, "that all the freeholders of competent estates, not vicious in conversations, orthodox in religion (though of different perswasions concerning church government) may have their vote in the election of all officers civill or millitary." [Footnote: Hutch. Coll., Prince Soc. ed. ii. 101-103.]
However judicious these reforms may have been, or howsoever strictly they conformed with the spirit of English law, was immaterial. They struck at the root of the secular power of the clergy, and they roused deep indignation. The agents had braved no little danger, and had shown no little skill in behalf of the commonwealth; and the fate of John Norton enables us to realize the rancor of theological feeling. The successor of Cotton, by general consent the leading minister, in some respects the most eminent man in Massachusetts, he had undertaken a difficult mission against his will, in which he had acquitted himself well; yet on his return he was so treated by his brethren and friends that he died in the spring of a broken heart. [Footnote: April 5, 1663.]
The General Court took no notice of the king's demands except to order the writs to run in the royal name. [Footnote: Oct. 8, 1662. Mass. Rec. vol. iv. pt. 2, p. 58.] And it is a sign of the boldness, or else of the indiscretion, of those in power, that this crisis was chosen for striking a new coin, [Footnote: 1662, May 7.]—an act confessedly illegal and certain to give offence in England, both as an assumption of sovereignty and an interference with the currency.
From the first Lord Clarendon paid some attention to colonial affairs, and he appears to have been much dissatisfied with the condition in which he found them. At length, in 1664, he decided to send a commission to New England to act upon the spot.
Great pressure must have been brought by some who had suffered, for Samuel Maverick, the Episcopalian, who had been fined and imprisoned in 1646 for petitioning with Childe, was made a member. Colonel Richard Nichols, the head of the board, was a man of ability and judgment; the choice of Sir Robert Carr and Colonel George Cartwright was less judicious.
The commissioners were given a public and private set of instructions, [Footnote: Public Instructions, Hutch. Hist. i. 459.] and both were admirable. They were to examine the condition of the country and its laws, and, if possible, to make some arrangement by which the crown might have a negative at least upon the choice of the governor; they were to urge the reforms already demanded by the king, especially a larger toleration, for "they doe in truth deny that liberty of conscience to each other, which is equally provided for and granted to every one of them by their charter." [Footnote: Private Instructions O'Callaghan Documents, iii. 58.] They were directed to be conciliatory toward the people, and under no circumstances to meddle with public worship, nor were they to press for any sudden enforcement of the revenue acts. On one point alone they were to insist: they were instructed to sit to hear appeals in causes in which the parties alleged they had been wronged by colonial decisions.
Unquestionably the chancellor was right in principle. The only way whereby such powerful corporations as the trade-guilds or the East India Company could be kept from acts of oppression was through the appellate jurisdiction, by which means their enactments could be brought before the courts, and those annulled which in the opinion of the judges transcended the charters. The Company of Massachusetts Bay was a corporation having jurisdiction over many thousand English subjects, only a minority of whom were freemen and voters. So long, therefore, as she remained within the empire, the crown was bound to see that the privileges of the English Constitution were not denied within her territory. Yet, though this is true, it is equally certain that the erection of a commission of appeal without an act of Parliament was irregular. The stretch of prerogative, nevertheless, cannot be considered oppressive when it is remembered that Massachusetts was a corporation which had escaped from the realm to avoid judicial process, and which refused to appear and plead; hence Lord Clarendon had but this alternative: he could send judges to sit upon the spot, or he could proceed against the charter in London. The course he chose may have been illegal, but it was the milder of the two.
The commissioners landed on July 23, 1664, but they did not stay in Boston. Their first business was to subdue the Dutch at New York, and they soon left to make the attack. The General Court now recurred, for the first time, to the dispatch which their agents had brought home, and proceeded to amend the law relating to the franchise. They extended the qualification by enacting that Englishmen who presented a certificate under the hands of the minister of the town that they were orthodox in religion and not vicious in life, and who paid, beside, 10s. at a single rate, might become freemen, as well as those who were church- members. [Footnote: Mass. Rec. vol. iv. pt. 2, p. 117.] The effect of such a change could hardly have been toward liberality, rather, probably, toward concentration of power in the church. However slight, there was some popular control over the rejection of an applicant to join a congregation; but giving a certificate was an act that must have depended on the pastor's will alone.
The court then drew up an address to the king: "If your poore subjects, ... doe... prostrate themselues at your royal feete, & begg yor favor, wee hope it will be graciously accepted by your majestje, and that as the high place you sustejne on earth doeth number you here among the gods, [priests can cringe as well as torture] so you will jmitate the God of heaven, in being ready... to receive their crjes...," [Footnote: Mass. Rec. vol. iv. pt. 2, p. 129.] And he was implored to reflect on the affliction of heart it was to them, that their sins had provoked God to permit their adversaries to procure a commission, under the great seal, to four persons to hear appeals. When this address reached London it caused surprise. The chancellor was annoyed. He wrote to America, pointing out that His Majesty would hardly think himself well used at complaints before a beginning had been made, and a demand that his commission should be revoked before his commissioners had been able to deliver their instructions. "I know," he said, "they are expressly inhibited from intermedling with, or instructing the administration of justice, according to the formes observed there; but if in truth, in any extraordinary case, the proceedings there have been irregular, and against the rules of justice, as some particular cases, particularly recommended to them by His Majesty, seeme to be, it cannot be presumed that His Majesty hath or will leave his subjects of New England, without hope of redresse by an appeale to him, which his subjects of all his other kingdomes have free liberty to make." [Footnote: Hutch. Hist. i. 465.]
The campaign against New York was short and successful, and the commissioners were soon at leisure. As they had reason to believe that Massachusetts would prove stubborn, they judged it wiser to begin with the more tractable colonies first. They therefore went to Plymouth, [Footnote: Feb. 1664-5.] and, on their arrival, according to their instructions, submitted the four following propositions:—
First. That all householders should take the oath of allegiance, and that justice should be administered in the king's name.
Second. That all men of competent estates and civil conversation, though of different judgments, might be admitted to be freemen, and have liberty to choose and be chosen officers, both civil and military.
Third. That all men and women of orthodox opinions, competent knowledge, and civil lives not scandalous, should be admitted to the Lord's Supper [and have baptism for their children, either in existing churches or their own].
Fourth. That all laws ... derogatory to his majesty should be repealed. [Footnote: Palfrey, ii. 601.]
Substantially the same proposals were made subsequently in Rhode Island and Connecticut. They were accepted without a murmur. A few appeal cases were heard, and the work was done.
The commissioners reported their entire satisfaction to the government, the colonies sent loyal addresses, and Charles returned affectionate answers.
Massachusetts alone remained to be dealt with, but her temper was in striking contrast to that of the rest of New England. The reason is obvious. Nowhere else was there a fusion of church and state. The people had, therefore, no oppressive statutes to uphold, nor anything to conceal. Provided the liberty of English subjects was secured to them they were content to obey the English Constitution. On the other hand, Massachusetts was a theocracy, the power of whose priesthood rested on enactments contrary to British institutions, and which, therefore, would have been annulled upon appeal. Hence the clerical party were wild with fear and rage, and nerved themselves to desperate resistance.
"But alasse, sir, the commission impowering those commisioners to heare and determine all cases whatever, ... should it take place, what would become of our civill government which hath binn, under God, the heade of that libertie for our consciences for which the first adventurers ... bore all ... discouragements that encountered them ... in this wildernes." Rather than submit, they protested they had "sooner leave our place and all our pleasant outward injoyments." [Footnote: Court to Boyle. Hutch. Coll., Prince Soc. ed. ii. 113.]
Under such conditions a direct issue was soon reached. The General Court, in answer to the commissioners' proposals, maintained that the observance of their charter was inconsistent with appeals; that they had already provided an oath of allegiance; that they had conformed to his majesty's requirements in regard to the franchise; and lastly, in relation to toleration, there was no equivocation. "Concerning the vse of the Common Prayer Booke"... we had not become "voluntary exiles from our deare native country, ... could wee haue seene the word of God, warranting us to performe our devotions in that way, & to haue the same set vp here; wee conceive it is apparent that it will disturbe our peace in our present enjoyments." [Footnote: 1665. Mass. Rec. vol. iv. pt. 2, p.200]
Argument was useless. The so-called oath of allegiance was not that required by Parliament; the alteration in the franchise was a sham; while the two most important points, appeals to England and toleration in religion, were rejected. The commissioners, therefore, asked for a direct answer to this question: "Whither doe yow acknowledge his majestjes comission ... to be of full force?" [Footnote: Mass. Rec. vol. iv. pt. 2, p.204] They were met by evasion. On the 23d of May they gave notice that they should sit the next morning to hear the case of Thos. Deane et al. vs. The Gov. & Co. of Mass. Bay, a revenue appeal. Forthwith the General Court proclaimed by trumpet that the hearing would not be permitted.
Coercion was impossible, as no troops were at hand. The commissioners accordingly withdrew and went to Maine, which they proceeded to sever from Massachusetts. [Footnote: June, 1665] In this they followed the king's instructions, who himself acted upon the advice of the law officers of the crown, who had given an opinion sustaining the claim of Gorges. [Footnote: Charles II.'s letter to Inhabitants of Maine. Hutch. Coll., Prince Soc. ed. ii. 110; Palf. ii. 622.]
The triumph was complete. All that the English government was then able to do was to recall the commissioners, direct that agents should be sent to London at once, and forbid interference with Maine. No notice was taken of the order to send agents; and in 1668 possession was again taken of the province, and the courts of the company once more sat in the county of York. [Footnote: July, 1668. Report of Com. Mass. Rec. vol. iv. pt. 2, p. 401.]
This was the culmination of the Puritan Commonwealth. The clergy were exultant, and the Rev. Mr. Davenport of New Haven wrote in delight to Leverett:—
"Their claiming power to sit authoritatively as a court for appeales, and that to be managed in an arbitrary way, was a manifest laying of a groundworke to undermine your whole government established by your charter. If you had consented thereunto, you had plucked downe with your owne hands that house which wisdom had built for you and your posterity.... As for the solemnity of publishing it, in three places, by sounding a trumpet, I believe you did it upon good advice, ... for declaring the courage and resolution of the whole countrey to defend their charter liberties and priviledges, and not to yeeld up theire right voluntarily, so long as they can hold it, in dependence upon God in Christ, whose interest is in it, for his protection and blessing, who will be with you while you are with him." [Footnote: Davenport to Leverett. Hutch. Coll., Prince Soc. ed. ii. 119.]
Although the colonists were alarmed at their own success, there was nothing to fear. At no time before or since could England have been so safely defied. In 1664 war was begun against Holland; 1665 was the year of the plague; 1666 of the fire. In June, 1667, the Dutch, having dispersed the British fleets, sailed up the Medway, and their guns were heard in London. Peace became necessary, and in August Clarendon was dismissed from office. The discord between the crown and Parliament paralyzed the nation, and the wastefulness of Charles kept him always poor. By the treaty of Dover in 1670 he became a pensioner of Louis XIV. The Cabal followed, probably the worst ministry England ever saw; and in 1672, at Clifford's suggestion, the exchequer was closed and the debt repudiated to provide funds for the second Dutch war. In March fighting began, and the tremendous battles with De Ruyter kept the navy in the Channel. At length, in 1673, the Cabal fell, and Danby became prime minister.
Although during these years of disaster and disgrace Massachusetts was not molested by Great Britain, they were not all years during which the theocracy could tranquilly enjoy its victory.
So early as 1671 the movements of the Indians began to give anxiety; and in 1675 Philip's War broke out, which brought the colony to the brink of ruin, and in which the clergy saw the judgment of God against the Commonwealth, for tenderness toward the Quakers. [Footnote: Reforming Synod, Magnalia, bk. 5, pt. 4.]
With the rise of Danby a more regular administration opened, and, as usual, the attention of the government was fixed upon Massachusetts by the clamors of those who demanded redress for injuries alleged to have been received at her hands. In 1674 the heirs of Mason and Gorges, in despair at the reoccupation of Maine, proposed to surrender their claim to the king, reserving one third of the product of the customs for themselves. The London merchants also had become restive under the systematic violation of the Navigation Acts. The breach in the revenue laws had, indeed, been long a subject of complaint, and the commissioners had received instructions relating thereto; but it was not till this year that these questions became serious.
The first statute had been passed by the Long Parliament, but the one that most concerned the colonies was not enacted till 1663. The object was not only to protect English shipping, but to give her the entire trade of her dependencies. To that end it was made illegal to import European produce into any plantation except through England; and, conversely, colonial goods could only be exported by being landed in England.
The theory upon which this legislation was based is exploded; enforced, it would have crippled commerce; but it was then, and always had been, a dead letter at Boston. New England was fast getting its share of the carrying trade. London merchants already began to feel the competition of its cheap and untaxed ships, and manufacturers to complain that they were undersold in the American market, by goods brought direct from the Continental ports. A petition, therefore, was presented to the king, to carry the law into effect. No colonial office then existed; the affairs of the dependencies were assigned to a committee of the Privy Council, called the Lords of Committee of Trade and Plantations; and on these questions being referred by them to the proper officers, the commissioners of customs sustained the merchants; the attorney-general, the heirs of Mason and Gorges. [Footnote: Palfrey, iii. 281; Chalmers's Political Annals of the United Colonies, p. 262.] The famous Edward Randolph now appears. The government was still too deeply embarrassed to act with energy. A temporizing policy was therefore adopted; and as the experiment of a commission had failed, Randolph was chosen as a messenger to carry the petitions and opinions to Massachusetts; together with a letter from the king, directing that agents should be sent in answer thereto. After delivering them, he was ordered to devote himself to preparing a report upon the country. He reached Boston June 10, 1676. Although it was a time of terrible suffering from the ravages of the Indian war, the temper of the magistrates was harsher than ever.
The repulse of the commissioners had convinced them that Charles was not only lazy and ignorant, but too poor to use force; and they also believed him to be so embroiled with Parliament as to make his overthrow probable. Filled with such feelings, their reception of Randolph was almost brutal. John Leverett was governor, who seems to have taken pains to mark his contempt in every way in his power. Randolph was an able, but an unscrupulous man, and probably it would not have been difficult to have secured his good-will. Far however from bribing, or even flattering him, they so treated him as to make him the bitterest enemy the Puritan Commonwealth ever knew.
Being admitted into the council chamber, he delivered the letter. [Footnote: Randolph's Narrative. Hutch. Coll., Prince Soc. ed. ii. 240.] The governor opened it, glanced at the signature, and, pretending never to have heard of Henry Coventry, asked who he might be. He was told he was his majesty's principal secretary of state. He then read it aloud to the magistrates. Even the fierce Endicott, when he received the famous "missive" from the Quaker Shattock, "laid off his hat ... [when] he look'd upon the papers," [Footnote: Sewel, p. 282.] as a mark of respect to his king; but Leverett and his council remained covered. Then the governor said "that the matters therein contained were very inconsiderable things and easily answered, and it did no way concern that government to take any notice thereof;" and so Randolph was dismissed. Five days after he was again sent for, and asked whether he "intended for London by that ship that was ready to saile?" If so, he could have a duplicate of the answer to the king, as the original was to go by other hands. He replied that he had other business in charge, and inquired whether they had well considered the petitions, and fixed upon their agents so soon. Leverett did not deign to answer, but told him "he looked upon me as Mr. Mason's agent, and that I might withdraw." The next day he saw the governor at his own house, who took occasion, when Randolph referred to the Navigation Acts, to expound the legal views of the theocracy. "He freely declared to me that the lawes made by your majestie and your Parliament obligeth them in nothing but what consists with the interest of that colony, that the legislative power is and abides in them solely ... and that all matters in difference are to be concluded by their finall determination, without any appeal to your majestie, and that your majestie ought not to retrench their liberties, but may enlarge them." [Footnote: Randolph's Narrative. Hutch. Coll., Prince Soc. ed. ii. 243.] One last interview took place when Randolph went for dispatches for England, after his return from New Hampshire; then he "was entertained by" Leverett "with a sharp reproof for publishing the substance of my errand into those parts, contained in your majestie's letters, ... telling me that I designed to make a mutiny.... I told him, if I had done anything amisse, upon complaint made to your majestie he would certainly have justice done him."...
"At my departure ... he ... intreated me to give a favourable report of the country and the magistrates thereof, adding that those that blessed them God would blesse, and those that cursed them God would curse." And that "they were a people truely fearing the Lord and very obedient to your majestie." [Footnote: Hutch. Coll., Prince Soc. ed. ii. 248.] And so the royal messenger was dismissed in wrath, to tell his story to the king.
The legislature met in August, 1676, and a decision had to be made concerning agents. On the whole, the clergy concluded it would be wiser to obey the crown, "provided they be, with vtmost care & caution, qualified as to their instructions." [Footnote: Mass. Rec. v. 99.] Accordingly, after a short adjournment, the General Court chose William Stoughton and Peter Bulkely; and having strictly limited their power to a settlement of the territorial controversy, they sent them on their mission. [Footnote: Mass. Rec. v. 114.]
Almost invariably public affairs were seen by the envoys of the Company in a different light from that in which they were viewed by the clerical party at home, and these particularly had not been long in London before they became profoundly alarmed. There was, indeed, reason for grave apprehension. The selfish and cruel policy of the theocracy had borne its natural fruit: without an ally in the world, Massachusetts was beset by enemies. Quakers, Baptists, and Episcopalians whom she had persecuted and exiled; the heirs of Mason and Gorges, whom she had wronged; Andros, whom she had maligned; [Footnote: He had been accused of countenancing aid to Philip when governor of New York. O'Callaghan Documents, iii. 258.] and Randolph, whom she had insulted, wrought against her with a government whose sovereign she had offended and whose laws she had defied. Even her English friends had been much alienated. [Footnote: Palfrey, iii. 278, 279.]
The controversy concerning the boundary was referred to the two chief justices, who promptly decided against the Company; [Footnote: See Opinion; Chalmers's Annals, p. 504.] and the easy acquiescence of the General Court must raise a doubt as to their faith in the soundness of their claims. And now again the fatality which seemed to pursue the theocracy in all its dealings with England led it to give fresh provocation to the king by secretly buying the title of Gorges for twelve hundred and fifty pounds. [Footnote: May, 1677. Chalmers's Annals, pp. 396, 397. See notes, Palfrey, iii. 312.]
Charles had intended to settle Maine on the Duke of Monmouth. It was a worthless possession, whose revenue never paid for its defence; yet so stubborn was the colony that it made haste to anticipate the crown and thus become "Lord Proprietary" of a burdensome province at the cost of a slight which was never forgiven. Almost immediately the Privy Council had begun to open other matters, such as coining and illicit trade; and the attorney-general drew up a list of statutes which, in his opinion, were contrary to the laws of England. The agents protested that they were limited by their instructions, but were sharply told that his majesty did not think of treating with his own subjects as with foreigners, and it would be well to intimate the same to their principals. [Footnote: Palfrey, iii. 309.] In December, 1677, Stoughton wrote in great alarm that something must be done concerning the Navigation Acts or a breach would be inevitable. [Footnote: Hutch. Hist. i. 288.] And the General Court saw reason in this emergency to increase the tension by reviving the obnoxious oath of fidelity to the country, [Footnote: Mass. Rec. v. 154.]—the substitute for the oath of allegiance,—and thus gave Randolph a new and potent weapon. In the spring [Footnote: Palfrey, iii. 316, 317; Chalmers's Annals, p. 439.] the law officers gave an opinion that the misdemeanors alleged against Massachusetts were sufficient to avoid her patent; and the Privy Council, in view of the encroachments and injuries which she had continually practised on her neighbors, and her contempt of his majesty's commands, advised that a quo warranto should be brought against the charter. Randolph was appointed collector at Boston. [Footnote: 1678, May 31.]
Even Leverett now saw that some concessions must be made, and the General Court ordered the oath of allegiance to be taken; nothing but perversity seems to have caused the long delay. [Footnote: Oct. 2, 1678. Mass. Rec. v. 193. See Palfrey, iii. 320, note 2.] The royal arms were also carved in the court-house; and this was all, for the clergy were determined upon those matters touching their authority. The agents were told, "that which is farr more considerable then all these is the interest of the Lord Jesus & of his churches ... which ought to be farr dearer to us than our liues; and ... wee would not that by any concessions of ours, or of yours... the least stone should be put out of the wall." [Footnote: Mass. Rec. v. 202.]
Both agents and magistrates were, nevertheless, thoroughly frightened, and being determined not to yield, in fact, they resorted to a policy of misrepresentation, with the hope of deceiving the English government. [Footnote: See Answers of Agents, Chalmers's Annals, p. 450.] Stoughton and Bulkely had already assured the Lords of Committee that the "rest of the inhabitants were very inconsiderable as to number, compared with those that were acknowledged church-members." [Footnote: Palfrey, iii. 318.] They were in fact probably as five to one. The General Court had been censured for using the word Commonwealth in official documents, as intimating independence. They hastened to assure the crown that it had not of late been used, and should not be thereafter; [Footnote: Mass. Rec. v. 198. And see, in general, the official correspondence, pp. 197-203.] yet in November, 1675, commissions were thus issued. [Footnote: Palfrey, iii. 322.] But the breaking out of the Popish plot began to absorb the whole attention of the government at London; and the agents, after receiving a last rebuke for the presumption of the colony in buying Maine, were at length allowed to depart. [Footnote: Nov. 1679.]
Nearly half a century had elapsed since the emigration, and with the growth of wealth and population changes had come. In March, John Leverett, who had long been the head of the high-church party, died, and the election of Simon Bradstreet as his successor was a triumph for the opposition. Great as the clerical influence still was, it had lost much of its old despotic power, and the congregations were no longer united in support of the policy of their pastors. This policy was singularly desperate. Casting aside all but ecclesiastical considerations, the clergy consistently rejected any compromise with the crown which threatened to touch the church. Almost from the first they had recognized that substantial independence was necessary in order to maintain the theocracy. Had the colony been strong, they would doubtless have renounced their allegiance; but its weakness was such that, without the protection of England, it would have been seized by France. Hence they resorted to expedients which could only end in disaster, for it was impossible for Massachusetts, while part of the British Empire, to refuse obedience at her pleasure to laws which other colonies cheerfully obeyed.