"Wherefore your petitioners do here humbly entreat that if any occasion hath been given to his Majesty so to resent any former actings as in his last letter is held forth, that nothing of that nature be further proceeded in, but contrariwise that application be made to his Majesty, immediately to be sent for the end to clear the transactions of them that govern this colony from any such construction, lest otherwise that which, if duly improved, might have been a cloud of the latter rain, be turned into that which, in the conclusion, may be found more terrible than the roaring of a lion.
"Thus craving a favourable interpretation of what is here humbly presented, your petitioners shall ever be obliged to, etc."
The following is the King's letter, referred to by Lord Clarendon, evidently written on the advice of the Puritan Councillors, whom the King retained in his government, and to whom the management of New England affairs seems to have been chiefly committed, with the oversight of the Lord Chancellor Clarendon. This letter, in addition to a previous letter from the King of the same kind, together with the letters of Lord Clarendon and the Hon. Robert Boyle, left them not a shadow of pretext for the inflammatory statements they were putting forth, and the complaints they were making, that their Charter privileges and rights of conscience were invaded, and was a reply to the petition of the Massachusetts Bay Governor and Council (inserted above at length, pages 153-159), and shows the utter groundlessness of their statements; that what they contended for under the pretext of conscience was the right of persecuting and proscribing all who did not conform to the Congregational worship; and that what they claimed under the pretence of Charter rights was absolute independence, refusing to submit even to inquiry as to whether they had not encroached upon the rights and territories of their white and Indian neighbours, or made laws and regulations and performed acts contrary to the laws of England and to the rights of other of the King's subjects. This letter breathes the spirit of kindness and forbearance, and contends for toleration, as did all the loyal colonists of the time, appealing to the King for protection against the intolerance, persecution and proscription of the Massachusetts Bay Congregational Government. The letter is as follows:
Copy of a Letter from Secretary Morrice to the Massachusetts Colony:
"His Majesty hath heard this petition read to him, and hath well weighed all the expressions therein, and the temper and spirit of those who framed it, and doth not impute the same to his colony of Massachusetts, amongst whom he knows the major part consists of men well affected to his service and obedient to his government, but he hath commanded me to let you know that he is not pleased with this petition, and looks upon it as the contrivance of a few persons who have had too long authority there, and who use all the artifices they can to infuse jealousies into his good subjects there, and apprehensions as if their Charter were in danger, when it is not possible for his Majesty to do more for the securing it, or to give his subjects there more assurance that it shall not in any degree be infringed, than he hath already done, even by his late Commission and Commissioners sent thither, who are so far from having the least authority to infringe any clause in the said Charter, that it is the principal end of their journey, so chargeable to his Majesty, to see that the Charter be fully and punctually observed. His Majesty did expect thanks and acknowledgments from that his colony, of his fatherly care in sending his Commissioners thither, and which he doubts not he shall receive from the rest of the colonies in those parts, and not such unreasonable and groundless complaint as is contained in your petition, as if he had thereby intended to take away your privileges and to drive you from your habitations, without the least mention of any misdemeanour or miscarriage in any one of the said Commissioners or in any one particular. Nor can his Majesty comprehend (except you believe that by granting your Charter he hath parted with his sovereign power over his subjects there) how he could proceed more graciously, or indeed any other way, upon so many complaints presented to him by particular persons of injustice done contrary to the constitution of that government: from the other colonies, for the oppression they pretend to undergo by the conduct of Massachusetts, by extending their bounds and their jurisdiction further than they ought to do, as they pretend; from the natives, for the breach of faith and intolerable pressures laid upon them, as they allege, contrary to all kind of justice, and even to the dishonour of the English nation and Christian faith, if all they allege be true. I say, his Majesty cannot comprehend how he could apply proper remedies to these evils, if they are real, or how he could satisfy himself whether they are real or no by any other way or means than by sending Commissioners thither to examine the truth and grounds of all the allegations, and for the present to compose the differences the best they can, until, upon a full and clear representation thereof to his Majesty, who cannot but expect the same from them, his Majesty's own final judgement and determination may be had. And it hath pleased God so far already to bless that service that it's no small benefit his Majesty and his English colonies in those parts have already received by the said Commissioners in the removal of so inconvenient neighbours as the Dutch have been for these late years, and which would have been a more spreading and growing mischief in a short time if it had not been removed. To conclude, I am commanded by his Majesty to assure you again of your full and peaceable enjoyment of all the privileges and liberties granted to you by his Charter, which he hath heretofore and doth now again offer to renew to you, if you shall desire it; and that you may further promise yourselves all the protection, countenance, and encouragement that the best subjects ever received from the most gracious Prince; in return whereof he doth only expect that duty and cheerful obedience that is due to him, and that it may not be in the power of any malicious person to make you miserable by entertaining any unnecessary and unreasonable jealousies that there is a purpose to make you so. And since his Majesty hath too much reason to suspect that Mr. Endicot, who hath during all the late revolutions continued the government there, is not a person well affected to his Majesty's person or his government, his Majesty will take it very well if at the next election any other person of good reputation be chosen in the place, and that he may no longer exercise that charge. This is all I have to signify unto you from his Majesty, and remain,
"Your very humble servant, "WILL. MORRICE. "Whitehall, February 25th, 1665."
But this courteous and explicit letter had no effect upon the Governor and Council of Massachusetts Bay in allaying opposition to the Royal Commissioners, whose authority they refused to acknowledge, nor did it prevent their persecution of their brethren whom they termed "Sectaries"—the "Dissenting party." The Commissioners having executed the part of their commission relative to the Dutch and Indians, and finding their authority resisted by the Governor and Council of Massachusetts Bay, reported the result to the King's Government, which determined to order the attendance of representatives of the Massachusetts Bay Government, to answer in England the complaints prepared against them, and for their conduct to the Commissioners. The letter which the King was advised to address to that pretentious and persecuting Government speaks in a more decisive but kindly tone, and is as follows:
Copy of a letter from King Charles II. to the Massachusetts Colony, April, 1666:
"His Majesty having received a full information from his Commissioners who were sent by him into New England, of their reception and treatment in the several colonies and provinces of that plantation, in all which they have received great satisfaction but only that of Massachusetts; and he having likewise been fully informed of the account sent hither by the Counsell of the Massachusetts, under the hand of the present Governor, of all the passages and proceedings which have been there between the said Commissioners and them from the time of their first coming over; upon all which it is very evident to his Majesty, notwithstanding many expressions of great affection and duty, that those who govern the Colony of Massachusetts do believe that the commission given by his Majesty to those Commissioners, upon so many and weighty reasons, and after so long deliberation, is an apparent violation of their Charter, and tending to the dissolution of it, and that in truth they do, upon the matter, believe that his Majesty hath no jurisdiction over them, but that all persons must acquiesce in their judgments and determinations, how unjust soever, and cannot appeal to his Majesty, which would be a matter of such a high consequence as every man discernes where it must end. His Majesty, therefore, upon due consideration of the whole matter, thinks fit to recall his said Commissioners which he hath at this present done, to the end he may receive from them a more particular account of the state and condition of those his plantations, and of the particular differences and debates they have had with those of the Massachusetts, that so his Majesty may pass his final judgment and determination thereupon. His Majesty's express command and charge is, that the Governor and Counsell of the Massachusetts do forthwith make choice of five or four persons to attend upon his Majesty, whereof Mr. Richard Bellingham and Major Hathorn are to be two, both which his Majesty commands upon their allegiance to attend, the other three or two to be such as the Counsell shall make choice of; and if the said Mr. Bellingham be the present Governor, another fit person is to be deputed to that office till his return, and his Majesty will then, in person, hear all the allegations, suggestions, or pretences to right or favour that can be made on the behalf of the said colony, and will then make it appear how far he is from the least thought of invading or infringing, in the least degree, the Royal Charter granted to the said colony. And his Majesty expects the appearance of the said persons as soon as they can possibly repair hither after they have notice of this his Majesty's pleasure. And his further command is, that there be no alterations with reference to the government of the Province of Maine till his Majesty hath heard what is alledged on all sides, but that the same continue as his Majesty's Commissioners have left the same, until his Majesty shall further determine. And his Majesty further expressly charges and commands the Governor and Counsell there, that they immediately set all such persons at liberty who have been or are imprisoned only for petitioning or applying themselves to his Majesty's Commissioners. And for the better prevention of all differences and disputes upon the bounds and limits of the several colonies, his Majesty's pleasure is, that all determinations made by his Majesty's said Commissioners with reference to the said bounds and limits may still continue to be observed, till, upon a full representation of all pretences, his Majesty shall make his own final determination; and particularly the present temporary bounds set by the Commissioners between the colonies of New Plymouth and Rhode Island, until his Majesty shall find cause to alter the same. And his Majesty expects that full obedience be given to this signification of his pleasure in all particulars.
"Given at the Court at Whitehall, the 10th day of April, 1666, in the eighteenth year of his Majesty's reign.
Before noticing the proceedings of the Massachusetts Bay Court in reference to this letter of the King, it may be proper to pause a little and retrospect past transactions between the two Charleses and the Congregational rulers of Massachusetts Bay, and the correspondence of the latter with the Royal Commissioners, so prominently referred to in the above letter.
The foregoing documents which I have so largely quoted evince the Royal indulgence and kindness shown to the Massachusetts Bay Colony after the conduct of its rulers to the King and his father during the twenty years of the civil war and Commonwealth; the utter absence of all intention on the part of Charles the Second, any more than on the part of Charles the First, to limit or interfere with the exercise of their own conscience or taste in their form or manner of worship, only insisting upon the enjoyment of the same liberty by those who preferred another form and manner of worship. However intolerant and persecuting the Governments of both Charles the First and Second were to all who did not conform to the established worship and its ceremonies in England, they both disclaimed enforcing them upon the New England colonies; and I repeat, that it may be kept in mind, that when the first complaints were preferred to Charles the First and the Privy Council, in 1632, against Endicot and his Council, for not only not conforming to, but abolishing, the worship of the Church of England, the accused and their friends successfully, though falsely, denied having abolished the Episcopal worship; and the King alleged to his Council, when Laud was present, that he had never intended to enforce the Church ceremonies objected to upon the New England colonists. The declarations of Charles the Second, in his letters to them, confirmed as they were by the letters of the Earl of Clarendon and the Honourable Robert Boyle, show the fullest recognition on the part of the Government of the Restoration to maintain their perfect liberty of worship. Their own address to the King in 1664 bears testimony that for upwards of thirty years liberty of worship had been maintained inviolate, and that King Charles the Second had himself invariably shown them the utmost forbearance, kindness, and indulgence.
Yet they no sooner felt their Charter secure, and that the King had exhausted the treasury of his favours to them, than they deny his right to see to their fulfilment of the conditions on which he had promised to continue the Charter. The Charter itself, be it remembered, provided that they should not make any laws or regulations contrary to the laws of England, and that all the settlers under the Charter should enjoy all the rights and privileges of British subjects. The King could not know whether the provisions of the Royal Charter were observed or violated, or whether his own prescribed conditions of continuing the Charter were ignored or fulfilled, without examination; and how could such an examination be made except by a Committee of the Privy Council or special Commissioners? This was what the King did, and what the Governor and Court of Massachusetts Bay resisted. They accepted with a profusion of thanks and of professed loyalty the King's pardon and favours, but denied his rights and authority. They denied any other allegiance or responsibility to the King's Government than the payment of five per cent. of the proceeds of the gold and silver mines. The absurdity of their pretensions and of their resistance to the Royal Commission, and the injustice and unreasonableness of their attacks and pretended suspicions, are well exposed in the documents above quoted, and especially in the petition of the "minority" of their own fellow-colonists. But all in vain; where they could not openly deny, they evaded so as to render nugatory the requirements of the King as the conditions of continuing the Charter, as will appear from their correspondence with the Royal Commissioners. I will give two or three examples.
They refused to take the oath of allegiance according to the form transmitted to them by the King's order, or except with limitations that neutralized it. The first Governor of their Corporation, Matthew Cradock, took the oath of allegiance as other officers of the Crown and British subjects, and as provided in the Royal Charter; but after the secret conveyance of the Charter to Massachusetts Bay and the establishment of a Government there, they, in secret deliberation, decided that they were not British subjects in the ordinary sense; that the only allegiance they owed to the King was such as the homage the Hanse Towns paid to Austria, or Burgundy to the Kings of France; that the only allegiance or obligation they owed to England was the payment of one-fifth per cent. of the produce of their gold and silver mines; that there were no appeals from their acts or decisions to the King or Courts of England; and that the King had no right to see whether their laws or acts were according to the provisions of the Charter. When the King, after his restoration, required them to take the oath of allegiance as the first condition of continuing the Charter, they evaded it by attaching to the oath the Charter according to their interpretation of it. Any American citizen could at this day take the oath of allegiance to the Sovereign of England if it were limited to the Constitution of the United States. First of all, they required of every freeman the oath of fidelity to the local Government; and then, after three years' delay and debating about the oath of allegiance to the King, the Massachusetts Bay Court adopted the following order:
"May 16th, 1665.
"It is ordered by this Court and by the authority thereof, that the following oath be annexed unto the oaths of every freeman, and oath of fidelity, and to the Governor, Deputy Governor and Assistants, and to all other public officers as followeth. The oaths of freemen and of fidelity to run thus: 'Whereas, I, A.B., an inhabitant within this jurisdiction, considering how I stand to the King's Majesty, his heirs and successors, by our Charter, and the Government established thereby, do swear accordingly, by the great and dreadful name of the ever living God, that I will bear faithful and true allegiance to our Sovereign Lord the King, his heirs and successors; and so proceed as in the printed oaths of freemen and fidelity.'"
On this, Col. Nichols, Chairman of the Royal Commission, addressing the Court, remarks as follows:
"You profess you highly prize the King's favour, and that offending him shall never be imputed to you; and yet you, in the same paper, refuse to do what the King requires should be done—that all that come into this colony to dwell should take the oath of allegiance here. Your Charter commands it; yet you make promises not therein expressed, and, in short, would curtail the oath, as you do allegiance, refusing to obey the King. It is your duty to administer justice in the King's name; and the King acknowledgeth in his letter, April 23, that it is his duty to see that justice be administered by you to all his subjects here, and yet you will not give him leave to examine by his Commissioners."
Referring to this subject again, Col. Nichols remarks:
"Touching the oath of allegiance, which is exactly prescribed in your Charter, and no faithful subject will make it less than according to the law of England. The oath mentioned by you was taken by Mr. Matthew Cradock, as Governor, which hath a part of the oath of allegiance put into it, and ought to be taken in that name by all in public office; also in another part of the Charter it is expressly spoken of as the oath of allegiance; and how any man can make that in fewer words than the law of England enjoins, I know not how it can be acceptable to his Majesty."
As a sect in the Jewish nation made void the law by their traditions, so the sect of Congregational rulers in Massachusetts Bay thus made void the national oath of allegiance by their additions. On the subject of liberty of worship according to the Church of England, these sectarian rulers express themselves thus:
"Concerning the use of the Common Prayer Book and ecclesiastical privileges, our humble addresses to his Majesty have fully declared our ends, in our being voluntary exiles from our dear native country, which we had not chosen at so dear a rate, could we have seen the word of God warranting us to perform our devotions in that way; and to have the same set up here, we conceive it is apparent, that it will disturb our peace in our present enjoyments; and we have commended to the ministry and people here the word of the Lord for their rule therein, as you may find by your perusal of our law book, title 'Ecclesiastical,' p. 25."
To this the King's Commissioners reply as follows:
"The end of the first Planters coming hither was (as expressed in your address, 1660), the enjoyment of the liberty of your own consciences, which the King is so far from taking away from you, that by every occasion he hath promised and assured the full enjoyment of it to you. We therefore advise that you should not deny the liberty of conscience to any, especially where the King requires it; and that upon a vain conceit of your own that it will disturb your enjoyments, which the King often hath said it shall not.
"Though you commend to the ministers and people the word of the Lord for their rule, yet you did it with a proviso that they have the approbation of the Court, as appears in the same page; and we have great reason both to think and say that the King and his Council and the Church of England understand and follow the rules in God's word as much as this Corporation.
"For the use of the Common Prayer Book: His Majesty doth not impose the use of the Common Prayer Book on any, but he understands that liberty of conscience comprehends every man's conscience as well as any particular, and thinks that all his subjects should have equal rights; and in his letter of June 28, 1662, he requires and charges that all his subjects should have equally an allowance thereof; but why you should put that restraint on his Majesty's subjects that live under his obedience, his Majesty doth not understand that you have any such privileges.
"Concerning ecclesiastical privileges, we suppose you mean sacraments, baptisms, etc. You say we have commended the word of the Lord for our rule therein, referring us to the perusal of the printed law, page 25. We have perused that law, and find that that law doth cut off those privileges which his Majesty will have, and see that the rest of his subjects have."
I now resume the narrative of questions as affecting the authority of the Crown and the subjection of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. That colony was the most populous and wealthy of all the New England colonies. Its principal founders were men of wealth and education; the twelve years' tyranny of Charles the First and Laud, during the suspension of Parliament, caused a flow of more than twenty thousand emigrants to Massachusetts Bay, with a wealth exceeding half a million sterling, and among them not less than seventy silenced clergymen. During the subsequent twenty years of the civil war and Commonwealth in England, the rulers of that colony actively sided with the latter, and by the favour and connivance of Cromwell evaded the Navigation Law passed by the Parliament, and enriched themselves greatly at the expense of the other British colonies in America, and in violation of the law of Parliament. In the meantime, being the stronger party, and knowing that they were the favourites of Cromwell, they assumed, on diverse grounds, possession of lands, south, east, north, and west, within the limits of the neighbouring colonies, and made their might right, by force of arms, when resisted; and denied the citizenship of freemen to all except actual members of the Congregational Churches, and punished Dissenters with fine, imprisonment, banishment, and death itself in many instances.
On the restoration of Charles the Second to the throne of his ancestors, it was natural that the various oppressed and injured parties, whether of colonies or individuals, should lay their grievances before their Sovereign and appeal to his protection; and it was not less the duty of the Sovereign to listen to their complaints, to inquire into them, and to redress them if well founded. This the King, under the guidance of his Puritan Councillors, proceeded to do in the most conciliatory and least offensive way. Though the rulers of Massachusetts Bay did not, as did the other New England as well as Southern colonies, recognize and proclaim the King on the announcement of his restoration, but observed a sullen silence until they saw that the monarchy was firmly established; yet the King took no offence at this, but addressed them in terms the most conciliatory, assuring them that he would overlook the past and secure to them the privileges of their Charter, and the continued freedom of their worship, upon the conditions of their taking the oath of allegiance, administer their laws as British subjects, and grant to all their fellow-colonists equal freedom of worship and of conscience with themselves. They professed, as well they might, to receive the King's declaration of oblivion for past offences and irregularities, and promise of perpetuating their original Charter, with feelings of inexpressible gratitude and delight; but they did not publish the King's letter for nearly two years, notwithstanding his command to do so; and when they did publish it, they appended an order that the conditions were not to be acted upon until their further order.
The King's proclamation of pardon of the past, and promise of the future, produced no other effect than a profusion of wordy compliments and a vague intimation of doing as the King required, as far as their Charter and conscience would permit. Their policy of proscription and ignoring the Royal authority in their laws and government remaining unchanged, and the complaints of oppressed colonies and individuals multiplying, the adoption of further measures became necessary on the part of the Crown; and it was decided to appoint a Royal Commission, which should be at once a Court of Inquiry and a Court of Appeal, at least in the first instance, reporting the results of their inquiries and their decisions in cases of appeal for the information and final decision of the highest authority in England, to which any dissatisfied party could appeal against the report or decision of the Commissioners. The address or "Petition" to the King, dated 1664, and given above, pp. 153-9, in all its tedious length and verbiage, shows how grossly they misrepresented the character and objects of the Commission, preparatory to resisting and rejecting it, while the King's letter in reply, also given above at length, p. 166, completely refutes their misstatements, and duly rebukes their unjust and offensive insinuations.
On receiving the report of the Commissioners, together with the statements and pretensions of the Massachusetts Bay Court, the King might have employed ships and soldiers to enforce his just and reasonable commands, or have cancelled the Charter, as the conditions of its continuance had not been fulfilled, and have established Massachusetts Bay Plantation as a Royal colony; but he was advised to adopt the milder and more forbearing course of giving them opportunity of answering directly the complaints made against them, and of justifying their acts and laws. He therefore, in the Royal letter given above, dated April 6, 1666, required them within six months to send five of their number to England to answer and to disprove if they could complaints made against them, and to furnish proof of the professions and statements they had made in their address and petition. They could no longer evade or delay; they were brought face to face with the authority of King and Parliament; they could adduce nothing but their own assertions in their justification; facts were against their words; they adopted their usual resource to evade all inquiry into their laws and acts by pleading the immunity of their Charter, and refused to send representatives to England. They wished the King to take their own words alone as proofs of their loyalty to the Crown and equity to their fellow-colonists. In place of sending representatives to England to meet their accusers face to face and vindicate their acts, they sent two large masts, thirty-four yards long, which they said they desired to accompany with a thousand pounds sterling as a present to his Majesty, but could get no one to lend them that sum, for the purpose of thus expressing their good-will to the King, and of propitiating his favour. Their language of adulation and profession was most abject, while they implored the Royal clemency for refusing to obey the Royal commands. Their records state that "11, 7mo., 1666, the General Court assembled on account of a signification from his Majesty requiring the Council of this colony to send five able and meet persons to make answer for refusing jurisdiction to his Commissioners last year; whereof Mr. Richard Bellingham and Mr. Hawthorne to be two of them, whom he requires, on their allegiance, to come by first opportunity. The Court met and agreed to spend the forenoon of the next day in prayer.
"12, 7mo., 1666. The Court met and sundry elders, and spent the forenoon in prayer.
"13, 7mo., 1666. The Court met and the elders were present after lecture and some debate had in Court concerning the duty we owe to his Majesty in reference to his signification."
On the 14th sundry petitions were presented from the "minority" in Boston, Salem, Ipswich, and Newbury, in favour of compliance with the King's requirement; and the subject was debated in Council some days, when, on the 17th, the Court adopted an answer to the "King's signification," containing the following words addressed to the King's Secretary of State, Mr. Morrice:
"We have, in all humility, given our reasons why we could not submit to the Commissioners and their mandates the last year, which we understand lie before his Majesty. To the substance thereof we have nothing to add; and therefore can't expect that the ablest persons among us could be in a capacity to declare our case more fully.
"We must therefore commit this our great concernment unto Almighty God, praying and hoping that his Majesty (a prince of so great clemency) will consider the estate and condition of his poor and afflicted subjects at such a time, being in imminent danger, by the public enemies of our nation, by sea and land, and that in a wilderness far remote from relief; wherefore we do in this wise prostrate ourselves before his Majesty, and beseech him to be graciously pleased to rest assured of our loyalty and allegiance according to our former professions. Thus with our humble service to your Honour, and earnest prayers to God for his Majesty's temporal and eternal happiness, we remain your Honour's humble servants.
"17, 7mo., 1666."
But even in their Council, where the "elders" or ministers and their nominees were supreme, both to rule and to persecute, and to maintain which they were plotting and struggling with the intensity of the Papacy of late years against the Government of Italy, there were yet among their number men of distinction, who contended for the rights of the Crown, to decide questions of appeal from the colony, and to appoint a special commission for that purpose, such as Mr. Simon Bradstreet, who had been Governor, and as their Commissioner to England, with Mr. Norton, had obtained the famous letter of Charles the Second, dated 10th of June, 1662, which filled the Court of Massachusetts Bay with inexpressible joy; and Mr. Dudley, son of a former Governor, and himself first Governor appointed by the Crown after the cancelling of the Charter; and Major Dennison, a man of mark, also in their Council.
In Mr. Danforth's notes of the debate on the answer to the King's signification, Mr. Bradstreet is reported to have said: "I grant legal process in a course of law reaches us not in an ordinary course; yet I think the King's prerogative gives him power to command our appearance, which, before God and men, we are to obey." Mr. Dudley: "The King's commands pass anywhere—Ireland, Calais, etc.—although ordinary process from judges and officers pass not. No doubt you may have a trial at law when you come to England, if you desire it, and you may insist upon and claim it. Prerogative is as necessary as law, and it is for the good of the whole that there be always power in being able to act; and where there is a right of power, it will be abused so long as it is in the hands of weak men, and the less pious the more apt to miscarry; but right may not be denied because it may be abused."
After the Court had adopted its answer of refusal to the King's signification, Mr. Bradstreet said: "I fear we take not a right course for our safety. It is clear that this signification is from his Majesty. I do desire to have it remembered that I do dissent, and desire to have it recorded that I dissent, from that part of it as is an answer to the King's signification." Major Dennison declared his dissent from the letter to Mr. Morrice, as not being proportionate to the end desired, and he hoped, intended, and desired it might be entered—namely, due satisfaction to his Majesty, and the preservation of the peace and liberty of the colony.
It is clear from the foregoing facts that the alleged invasion of chartered rights and privileges put forth by the ruling party of Massachusetts Bay was a mere pretext to cover the long-cherished pretensions (called by them "dear-bought rights") to absolute independence; that is, the domination of the Congregationalist Government, to the exclusion of the Crown, to proscribe from the elective franchise and eligibility to office all but Congregationalists, and to persecute all who differed from them in either religious or political opinion, including their control and suppression of the freedom of the press. They persisted in the cruel persecution of their Baptist brethren as well as of the Quakers, notwithstanding the King had established the fullest religious liberty by Royal Charter, granted in 1663 to the Colonies of Connecticut and Rhode Island, and had by his letters in 1662 and 1664, and subsequently, forbidden religious persecution and prescribed religious toleration as a condition of the continuance of the Charter in Massachusetts Bay Colony.
I will give in a note, from the records of their own Court, their persecuting proceedings against certain Baptists in April, 1666, six years after the Restoration.
The Puritan historian, Neal, writing under date three years later, 1669, says: "The displeasure of the Government ran very high against the Anabaptists and Quakers at this time. The Anabaptists had gathered one Church at Swanzey, and another at Boston, but the General Court was very severe in putting the laws in execution against them, whereby many honest people were ruined by fines, imprisonment, and banishment, which was the more extraordinary because their brethren in England were groaning under persecution from the Church of England at the same time. Sad complaints were sent over to England every summer of the severity of the Government against the Anabaptists, which obliged the dissenting ministers in London to appear at length in their favour. A letter was accordingly sent over to the Governor of Massachusetts, signed by Dr. Goodwin, Dr. Owen, Mr. Nie, Mr. Caryl, and nine other ministers, beseeching him to make use of his authority and interest for restoring such to their liberty as were in prison on account of religion, and that their sanguinary laws might not be put in execution in future." [Mr. Neal gives the letter, and then proceeds.] "But the excellent letter made no impression upon them; the prisoners were not released, nor the execution of the laws suspended; nay, so far from this, that ten years after, in the year 1679, a General Synod being called to inquire into the evils that provoked the Lord to bring his judgments on New England, they mention these among the rest, 'Men have set up their thresholds by God's threshold, and their posts by God's post; Quakers are false worshippers, and such Anabaptists as have risen up among us, in opposition to the Churches of the Lord Jesus,' etc., etc."
"Wherefore it must needs be provoking to God if these things be not duly and fully testified against by every one in their several capacities respectively."
The present of two large masts and a ship-load of timber; successive obsequious and evasive addresses; explanations of agents; compliance in some particulars with the Royal requirements in regard to the oath of allegiance, and administering the law, so far appeased the King's Government that further action was suspended for a time in regard to enforcing the granting of the elective franchise, eligibility to office, and liberty of worship to other than Congregationalists, especially as the attention of Charles was absorbed by exciting questions at home, by his war with Holland, which he bitterly hated, and his intrigues with France, on which he became a paid dependant. But the complaints and appeals to the King from neighbouring colonies of the invasion of individual and territorial rights by the Court of Massachusetts Bay, and from the persecuted and proscribed inhabitants of their own colony, awakened at last the renewed attention of the King's Government to the proceedings of the Massachusetts Bay rulers. The letter which the King was advised to address to them is kind and conciliatory in its tone; but it shows that while the King, as he had declared in his first letter, addressed to them seventeen years before, recognized the "Congregational way of worship," he insisted on toleration of the worship of Episcopalians, Baptists, etc., and the civil rights and privileges of their members, denied by these "fathers of American liberty" to the very last; until then, power of proscription and persecution was wrested from them by the cancelling of their Charter.
The chief requirements of this letter were, as stated by Mr. Hutchinson:
"1. That agents be sent over in six months, fully instructed to answer and transact what was undetermined at that time.
"2. That freedom and liberty of conscience be given to such persons as desire to serve God in the way of the Church of England, so as not to be thereby made obnoxious, or discountenanced from their sharing in the government, much less that they, or any other of his Majesty's subjects (not being Papists) who do not agree in the Congregational way, be by law subject to fines or forfeitures or other incapacities.
"3. That no other distinction be observed in making freemen than that they be men of competent estates, rateable at ten shillings, according to the rules of the place, and that such in their turns be capable of the magistracy, and all laws made void that obstruct the same.
"4. That the ancient number of eighteen assistants be observed, as by Charter. (They had been limited to eight or ten.)
"5. That all persons coming to any privilege, trust or office, take the oath of allegiance.
"6. That all military commissions as well as proceedings of justice run in his Majesty's name.
"7. That all laws repugnant to, and inconsistent with, the laws of England for trade, be abolished."
There were certain injunctions in regard to complaints from neighbouring colonies; but the necessity for such injunctions as those above enumerated, and stated more at large in the King's letter, as stated in note on p. 187, given for the third or fourth time the nineteenth year after the Restoration, shows the disloyal proscriptions and persecuting character of the Government of Massachusetts Bay, and the great forbearance of the King's Government in continuing the Charter while the conditions of its proposed continuance were constantly violated.
Dr. Palfrey speaks of these requirements, and the whole policy of the King's Government, as "usurpations" on the chartered rights of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. But let any reader say in which of the above seven requirements there is the slightest "usurpation" on any right of a British subject; whether there is anything that any loyal British subject would not freely acknowledge and respond to; requirements unhesitatingly obeyed by all the colonies except that of Massachusetts Bay alone, and which have been observed by every British Province of America for the last hundred years, and are observed by the Dominion of Canada at this day.
Dr. Palfrey, referring to this period (1676-82), says: "Lord Clarendon's scheme of colonial policy was now ripe," but he does not adduce a word from Lord Clarendon to show what that policy was only by insinuations and assertions, and assumes it to have been the subversion of the rights and liberties of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Lord Clarendon, in his letter to the Governor Endicot, given above, pp. 160, 161, explains his colonial policy, which was not only to maintain the Charter in its integrity, but to see that its provisions and objects were not violated but fulfilled, and that while the Congregational worship should not be interfered with, the Congregational Government should not proscribe from the elective franchise and liberty of worship the members of other Protestant denominations. The Hon. Robert Boyle, the philosopher and benefactor of New England, and President of the New England Society for Propagation of the Gospel among the Indians, expressed the same views with Lord Clarendon, and there is not a shadow of proof that Lord Clarendon ever entertained any other policy in regard to New England than that which he expressed in his letter to Governor Endicot in 1664.
Dr. Palfrey and other New England historians occupy four-fifths of their pages with accounts of the continental proceedings of the Governments of the Stuarts, and their oppressions and persecutions of Nonconformists in England, and then assume that their policy was the same in regard to the New England Colonies, and that the Massachusetts Bay Colony was therefore the champion defender of colonial liberties, in denying responsibility to the Imperial Government for its acts, and refusing the usual oaths, and acts of allegiance to the Throne; whereas their assumptions (for they are nothing else) are unsupported by a single fact, and are contradicted, without exception, by the declarations and acts of the Government of Charles the Second, as well as by those of his royal father. Language can hardly exaggerate or reprobate in too strong terms the cruel persecutions of dissenters from the Established Episcopal Church in England, by both Charles the First and Charles the Second; but the Congregational Government of Massachusetts Bay exceeded that of the Charleses in proscribing and persecuting dissenters from their Established Congregational Churches in that colony; and as well might Messrs. Palfrey, Bancroft, and other New England historians maintain that, because Congregationalists contended for liberty of worship for themselves in England, they practised it in regard to those who did not agree with them in worship in Massachusetts Bay. The proscription and persecution of Congregationalists and Baptists by Episcopalian rulers in England were outrivalled by the Congregational rulers in their proscriptions and persecutions of Episcopalians and Baptists in Massachusetts.
It is also assumed by the New England historians referred to that the King's advisers had intimated the intention of appointing a Governor-General over the Colonies of New England to see to the observance of their Charters and of the Navigation Laws; but wherein did this infringe the rights or privileges of any Colonial Charter? Wherein did it involve any more than rightful attention to Imperial authority and interests? Wherein has the appointment or office of a Governor-General of British North America, in addition to the Lieutenant-Governor of each province, ever been regarded to this day as an infringement of the rights and privileges of any Legislature or British subject in the colonies? Wherein has the right of appeal by any colony or party to the Supreme Courts or authorities of England, against the decisions of local Courts or local executive acts, been regarded as an infringement of colonial rights, or other than a protection to colonial subjects? When has the right of appeal by parties in any of the neighbouring States, to the Supreme Court at Washington, been held to be an invasion of the rights of such States?
The rulers of Massachusetts Bay Colony concealed and secreted their Charter; they then represented it as containing provisions which no Royal Charter in the world ever contained; they represented the King as having abdicated, and excluded himself from all authority over them as a colony or as individuals; they denied that Parliament itself had any authority to legislate for any country on the western side of the Atlantic; they virtually claimed absolute independence, erasing the oath of allegiance from their records, proscribing and persecuting all nonconformists to the Congregational worship, invading the territories of other colonies and then maintaining their invasions by military force, denying the authority of Great Britain or of any power on earth to restrict or interfere with their acts. The New England historians referred to are compelled to confess that the Royal Charter contained no such provisions or powers as the rulers of Massachusetts Bay pretended; yet their narratives and argumentations and imputations upon the British Government assume the truth of the fabulous representations of the Charter, and treat not only every act of the King as royal tyranny, but every suspicion of what the King might do as a reality, and the hostility of the Massachusetts Bay Government as a defence of constitutional rights and resistance of royal despotism. But in these laboured and eloquent philippics against the Government of the Restoration, they seem to forget that the Parliament and Government of the Commonwealth and Cromwell asserted far larger powers over the colonies than did the Government and Parliament of Charles the Second (as is seen by their Act and appointments in their enactments quoted above, pp. 88-90).
The Commonwealth appointed a Governor-General (the Earl of Warwick), Commissioners with powers to remove and appoint Colonial Governors and other local officers; whereas the Commissioners appointed by Charles the Second had no authority to remove or appoint a single local Governor or other officer, to annul or enact a single law, but to inquire and report; and even as a Court of Appeal their proceedings and decisions were to be reported for final action in England.
The famous Act of Navigation itself, which ultimately became the chief ground of the American revolutionary war, was passed by the Commonwealth, though, by a collusion between Cromwell and the rulers of Massachusetts Bay, its provisions were evaded in that colony, while rigorously enforced in the other colonies.
In the first year of Charles the Second this Act was renewed, with some additional provisions.
But to return to the correspondence between the King's Government and the rulers of Massachusetts Bay. It may be supposed that after the King had promised, in 1662, to forget past offences and continue the justly forfeited Royal Charter upon certain conditions, and that those conditions were evaded by various devices during nearly twenty years, the Royal patience would become exhausted, and that, instead of the gentle instructions and remonstrances which had characterized his former letters, the King would adopt more severe and imperative language. Hence in his next letter, September 30, 1680, to the Governor and Council of the Massachusetts, he commences in the following words:
"Trusty and well beloved, we greet you well. When by our Royal letter, bearing date the 24th day of July, in the one and thirtieth year of our reign, we signified unto you our gracious inclination to have all past deeds forgotten, setting before you the means whereby you might deserve our pardon, and commanding your ready obedience to several particulars therein contained, requiring withall a speedy compliance with the intimations of your duty given to your late agents during their attendance here, all which we esteem essential to your quiet settlement and natural obedience due unto us. We then little thought that those marks of our grace and favour should have found no better acceptance among you, but that, before all things, you should have given preference to the execution of our commands, when after so many months we come to understand by a letter from you to one of our principal Secretaries of State, dated the 21st of May last, that very few of our directions have been pursued by your General Court, the further consideration of the remaining particulars having been put off upon insufficient pretences, and even wholly neglecting your appointment of other agents which were required to be sent over unto us within six months after the receipt of our said letters, with full instructions to attend our Royal pleasure herein in relation to that our Government."
Among other matters, the King "strictly commanded and required" them, "as they tendered their allegiance," to despatch such agents within three months after their reception of the order, and with full powers to satisfy his Majesty on the subjects of complaint; and "he ended the letter," says Mr. Palfrey, "with a very definite injunction:"
"That the due observance of all our commands above mentioned may not be any longer protracted, we require you, upon receipt thereof, forthwith to call a General Court, and therein to read these our letters and provide for our speedy satisfaction, and in default thereof we shall take the most effectual means to procure the same. And so we bid you farewell."
This letter led to the calling of a "Special General Court," January, 1681, in which very protracted debates ensued on the revision of the laws, so long delayed, and the election of agents to England according to the King's command. Samuel Nowell and John Richards were elected agents to England, but were restricted by instructions which forbade conceding anything from their original Charter pretensions, and therefore rendered their agency an insult to the Government and the King, and hastened the catastrophe which they so much dreaded, the cancelling of their Charter.
In the meantime, to appease the displeasure of the Crown, they passed several Acts which had the appearance of obedience to the Royal commands, but which they were careful not to carry into effect. I will give two or three examples.
They enacted "that the Acts of Trade and Navigation should be forthwith proclaimed in the market-place of Boston by beat of drum, and that all clauses in said Acts relating to this Plantation should be strictly taken notice of and observed." This appears very plausible, and is so quoted by Dr. Palfrey; but he does not add that care was taken that it should not be carried into effect. And to accomplish their purposes, and to assert the subordination of the Royal authority to their own local authority, "they constituted naval officers, one for Boston, the other for 'Salem and adjacent parts,' to be commissioned by the Governor, and to exercise powers of a nature to control the Collector appointed in England."
After nearly twenty years' delay and evasions, they enacted, in 1679, "that the Governor, Deputy Governor, and Magistrates should take the oath of allegiance 'without any reservation,' in the words sent them by his Majesty's orders; but instead of the 'reservation' in their form of oath in former Acts, they virtually neutralized the oath by an Act requiring a prior preliminary oath of fidelity to the local Government, an Act which the Board of Colonial Plantations viewed as 'derogatory to his Majesty's honour, as well as defective in point of their own duty.'"
They instructed their agents in England to represent that there was no colonial law "prohibiting any such as were of the persuasion of the Church of England." The design of this statement plainly was to impress upon the mind of the King's Government that there was no obstruction to the worship and ordinances of the Church of England, and that the elective franchise and privilege of worship were as open to Episcopalians as to Congregationalists—the reverse of fact. After repeated letters from the King in favour of toleration as one of the conditions of continuing their Charter, notwithstanding their past violation of it, they professed to comply with the royal injunctions, but their professed compliance amounted practically to nothing, as they had evidently intended. The King's Commissioners had said to the Massachusetts Bay Court on this subject: "For the use of the Common Prayer Book: His Majesty doth not impose the use of the Common Prayer Book on any; but he understands that liberty of conscience comprehends every man's conscience, as well as any particular, and thinks that all his subjects should have equal right." To this the Massachusetts Court replied: "Concerning the use of the Common Prayer Book and ecclesiastical privileges, our humble addresses to his Majesty have fully declared our main ends, in our being voluntary exiles from our dear native country, which we had not chosen at so dear a rate, could we have seen the word of God warranting us to perform our devotions in that way; and to have the same set up here, we conceive it is apparent that it will disturb our peace in our present enjoyment."
But afterwards they found it dangerous longer to resist the King's commands, and professed to obey them by providing that those who were not Congregationalists might exercise the elective franchise, provided that, in addition to taking the oath of fidelity to the local Government, and paying a rate which was not paid by one in a hundred, and obtaining a certificate from the Congregational minister as to their being blameless in words and orthodox in religion, they were then approved by the Court. The right of franchise was possessed by every member of any Congregational Church, whether he had property or not, or paid rate or not; not so with any other inhabitant, unless he adduced proof that he had paid rate, produced a certificate of character and of orthodoxy in religion, signed by a Congregational minister, and was approved by the Court. No instance is recorded of any Episcopalian ever having obtained the freedom of the colony under such conditions; "nor," as Mr. Hutchinson says, "was there any Episcopal Church in any part of the colony until the Charter was vacated."
The Court of Massachusetts Bay also instructed their agents in England, in 1682, to represent that "as for Anabaptists, they were now subject to no other penal statutes than those of the Congregational way." But as late as the spring of 1680 the General Court forbade the Baptists to assemble for their worship in a meeting-house which they had built in Boston. The statement which they instructed their agents to make in England was clearly intended to convey the impression that the Baptist worship was equally allowed with the Congregational worship; but though penalties against individual Baptists may have been relaxed, their worship was no more tolerated than that of the Episcopalian until the cancelling of the Charter.
The same kind of misleading evasion was practised upon the Government in England in regard to the Quakers, as in respect to the Baptists, the Episcopalians, and the elective franchise. The agents of the colony in England were instructed to state that the "severe laws to prevent the violent and impetuous intrusions of the Quakers had been suspended;" but they did not say that laws less severe had been substituted, and that fines and imprisonments were imposed upon any party who should be present at a Quakers' meeting. Yet, as late as 1677, the Court of Massachusetts Bay made a law "That every person found at a Quakers' meeting shall be apprehended, ex officio, by the constable, and by warrant from a magistrate or commissioner shall be committed to the House of Correction, and there have the discipline of the house applied to him, and be kept to work, with bread and water, for three days, and then released, or else shall pay five pounds in money as a fine to the country for such offence; and all constables neglecting their duty in not faithfully executing this order, shall incur the penalty of five pounds upon conviction, one-third thereof to the informer."
They likewise instructed their agents in England to give assurance "That the Acts of Trade, so far as they concerned the colony, should be strictly observed, and that all due encouragement and assistance should be given to his Majesty's officers and informers that might prosecute the breaches of said Acts of Trade and Navigation." But while as a Court they professed this in their records and through their agents in England, officers were elected in the colony who would not execute the law, and so not a farthing of duties was collected under it at Massachusetts Bay.
Thus for twenty years the rulers of Massachusetts Bay resisted and evaded the six conditions on which King Charles the Second, after his restoration, proposed to overlook and pardon their past offences and perpetuate the Charter given to them by his Royal father; for twenty years the King, without committing a single unconstitutional or oppressive act against them, or without demanding anything which Queen Victoria does not receive, this day, from every colony of the British Empire, endured their evasions and denials of his authority and insults of his Commissioners and officers. In all the despatches of the King's Government to the rulers of Massachusetts Bay, during these twenty years, as the reader of the preceding pages will have seen, the spirit of kindness, and a full recognition of their rights in connection with those of the Crown, were predominant.
This they repeatedly acknowledged in their addresses to the King. They pretended the Royal Charter gave them absolute independence; and on that absurd interpretation and lawless assumption they maintained a continuous contest with the mother country for more than fifty years. Every party in England, and the Commonwealth as well as Royalty, maintained the right of King and Parliament to be the supreme tribunal of appeal and control in America as well as in England; while the rulers of Massachusetts Bay Colony alone, in contradistinction to all the other British colonies in America, denied in short the authority of both King and Parliament, though often amidst wordy professions of personal loyalty to the Throne. Mr. Bancroft well sums up the history of Massachusetts pretensions and intolerance in the sentences: "Massachusetts owned no King but the King of Heaven." "Massachusetts gave franchises to the members of the visible Church," but "inexorably disfranchised Churchmen, Royalists, and all the world's people." "In Massachusetts, the songs of Deborah and David were sung without change; hostile Algonquins like the Canaanites were exterminated or enslaved; and a peevish woman was hanged, because it was written, 'The witch shall die.'"
No hostile pen ever presented in so few and expressive words the character and policy of the Government of Massachusetts Bay during the whole existence of the first Charter, as is presented in these words of their eulogist Bancroft; and these words express the causes of their contests with the Crown and Parliament, of their proscription and persecution of the majority of their fellow-colonists not of their politics or form of worship, and of their dealing at pleasure with the territories of their neighbours, and the lands and lives of the Indian tribes.
[Footnote 114: The captain of a ship brought the news from England in July, that the King had been proclaimed, but a false rumour was circulated that the Government in England was in a very unsettled state, the body of the people dissatisfied; that the Scotch had demanded work; that Lord Fairfax was at the head of a great army, etc. Such a rumour was so congenial to the feelings of the men who had been lauding Cromwell, that when it was proposed in the General Court of Massachusetts Bay, in the October following, to address the King, the majority refused to do so. They awaited to see which party would prevail in England, so as to pay court to it. On the 30th of November a ship arrived from Bristol, bringing news of the utter falsity of the rumours about the unsettled state of things and popular dissatisfaction in England, and of the proceedings of Parliament; and letters were received from their agent, Mr. Leverett, that petitions and complaints were preferred against the colony to the King in Council. Then the Governor and assistants called a meeting of the General Court, December 9th, when a very loyal address to the King was presently agreed upon, and another to the two Houses of Parliament. Letters were sent to Sir Thomas Temple, to Lord Manchester, Lord Say and Seal, and to other persons of note, praying them to intercede in behalf of the colony. A most gracious answer was given to the address by the King's letter, dated February 15, 1660 (1661, new style), which was the first public act or order concerning them after the restoration. (Hutchinson's History of Massachusetts Bay, Vol. I., pp. 210, 211.)]
[Footnote 115: Hutchinson's History of Massachusetts Bay, Vol. I., pp. 211, 212.]
[Footnote 116: Holmes' Annals of America, Vol. I., p. 318. Hutchinson, Vol. I., p. 216. Hazard, Vol. II., pp. 593-595. The address is a curiosity in its way, and a strange medley which I must leave the reader to characterize in view of the facts involved. The following are the principal passages of it:
Extracts from the Massachusetts General Court—Address to the King, dated 19th December, 1660:
"To the High and Mighty Prince, Charles the Second, by the grace of God, King of Great Britain, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith.
"Most gracious and dread Sovereign:
"May it please your Majesty—In the day wherein you happily say you know you are King over your British Israel, to cast a favourable eye upon your poore Mephiboseth now, and by reason of lameness in respect of distance, not until now appearing in your presence, we mean upon New England, kneeling with the rest of your subjects before your Majesty as her restored King. We forget not our ineptness as to those approaches; we at present owne such impotence as renders us unable to excuse our impotency of speaking unto our Lord the King; yet contemplating such a King, who hath also seen adversity, that he knoweth the hearts of exiles, who himself hath been an exile, the aspect of Majesty extraordinarily influenced animateth exanimated outcasts, yet outcasts as we hope for the truth, to make this address unto our Prince, hoping to find grace in your sight. We present this script, the transcript of our loyall hearts, wherein we crave leave to supplicate your Majesty for your gracious protection of us in the continuance both of our civill and religious liberties (according to the grantees known, and of suing for the patent) conferred on this Plantation by your royal father. This, viz., our libertie to walk in the faith of the gospell, was the cause of our transporting ourselves, with our wives, little ones, and our substances, from that over the Atlantick ocean, into the vast wilderness, choosing rather the pure Scripture worship with a good conscience in this remote wilderness among the heathen, than the pleasures of England with submission to the impositions of the then so disposed and so far prevailing hierarchy, which we could not do without an evil conscience." "Our witness is in heaven that we left not our native country upon any dissatisfaction as to the constitution of the civil state. Our lot after the good old nonconformists hath been only to act a passive part throughout these late vicissitudes and successive turnings of States. Our separation from our brethren in this desert hath been and is a sufficient bringing to mind the afflictions of Joseph. But providentiall exemption of us hereby from the late warres and temptations of either party we account as a favour from God; the former cloathes us with sackcloth, the latter with innocency.
(Signed) "JOHN ENDICOT, Governor.
"In the name and by order of the General Court of Massachusetts."]
[Footnote 117: It is known that the "old nonconformists" did not fight against the king, denounced his execution, suffered for their "nonconformity" to Cromwell's despotism, and were among the most active restorers of Charles the Second.]
[Footnote 118: See above, in a previous page.]
[Footnote 119: Letter from Charles II. to Governor Endicot:
"Trusty and well beloved—Wee greet you well. It having pleased Almighty God, after long trialls both of us and our people, to touch their hearts at last with a just sense of our right, and by their assistance to restore us, peaceably and without blood, to the exercise of our legall authority for the good and welfare of the nations committed to our charge, we have made it our care to settle our lately distracted kingdom at home, and to extend our thoughts to increase the trade and advantages of our colonies and plantations abroad, amongst which as wee consider New England to be one of the chiefest, having enjoyed and grown up in a long and orderly establishment, so wee shall not be behind any of our royal predecessors in a just encouragement and protection of all our loving subjects there, whose application unto us, since our late happy restoration, hath been very acceptable, and shall not want its due remembrance upon all seasonable occasions; neither shall wee forget to make you and all our good people in those parts equal partakers of those promises of liberty and moderation to tender consciences expressed in our gracious declarations; which, though some persons in this kingdom, of desperate, disloyal, and unchristian principles, have lately abused to the public disturbance and their own destruction, yet wee are confident our good subjects in New England will make a right use of it, to the glory of God, their own spiritual comfort and edification. And so wee bid you farewell. Given at our Court of Whitehall, the 15th day of February, 1660 (1661, new style), in the thirteenth year of our reigne.
(Signed) "WILL. MORRICE."]
[Footnote 120: The following are extracts from the reply of the General Court of Massachusetts Bay to the foregoing letter of Charles the Second:
"That majestie and benignitie both sate upon the throne whereunto your outcasts made their former addresse; witness this second eucharistical approach unto the best of kings, who to other titles of royaltie common to him with other gods amongst men, delighteth herein more particularily to conforme himselfe to the God of gods, in that he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, neither hath he hid his face from him, but when he heard he cried.
"Our petition was the representation of exiles' necessities; this script, congratulatory and lowly, is the reflection of the gracious rayes of Christian majestie. There we besought your favour by presenting to a compassionate eye that bottle full of tears shed by us in this Teshimon: here we acknowledge the efficacie of regal influence to qualify these salt waters. The mission of ours was accompanied with these Churches sitting in sackcloth; the reception of yours was as the holding forth the scepter of life. The truth is, such were the impressions upon our spirits when we received an answer of peace from our gracious Sovereigne as transcends the facultie of an eremitical scribe. Such, as though our expressions of them neede pardon, yet the suppression of them seemeth unpardonable."
The conclusion of their address was as follows:
"Your just Title to the Crown enthronizeth you in our consciences, your graciousness in our affections: That inspireth us unto Duty, this naturalizeth unto Loyalty: Thence we call you Lord; hence a Savior. Mephibosheth, how prejudicially soever misrepresented, yet rejoiceth that the King is come in Peace to his own house. Now the Lord hath dealt well with our Lord the King. May New England, under your Royal Protection, be permitted still to sing the Lord's song in this strange Land. It shall be no grief of Heart for the Blessing of a people ready to perish, daily to come upon your Majesty, the blessings of your poor people, who (not here to alledge the innocency of our cause, touching which let us live no longer than we subject ourselves to an orderly trial thereof), though in the particulars of subscriptions and conformity, supposed to be under the hallucinations of weak Brethren, yet crave leave with all humility to say whether the voluntary quitting of our native and dear country be not sufficient to expiate so innocent a mistake (if a mistake) let God Almightie, your Majesty, and all good men judge.
"Now, he in whose hands the times and trials of the children of men are, who hath made your Majesty remarkably parallel to the most eminent of kings, both for space and kind of your troubles, so that vere day cannot be excepted, wherein they drove him from abiding in the inheritance of the Lord, saying, 'Go, serve other gods; make you also (which is the crown of all), more and more like unto him, in being a man after God's own heart, to do whatsoever he will.' Yea, as the Lord was with David, so let him be with your most excellent Majesty, and make the Throne of King Charles the Second both greater and better than the Throne of King David, or than the Throne of any of your Royal Progenitors. So shall always pray,
"Your Majesty's most humble and loyal subjects.
"JOHN ENDICOT, Governor."
(Hutchinson's Collection of Original Papers, etc., pp. 341, 342. Massachusetts Records, August 7, 1661.)]
[Footnote 121: The Government of New England received a letter from the King, signifying his pleasure that there should be no further prosecution of the Quakers who were condemned to suffer death or other corporal punishment, or who were imprisoned or obnoxious to such condemnation; but that they be forthwith sent over to England for trial. The Massachusetts General Court, after due consideration of the King's letter, proceeded to declare that the necessity of preserving religion, order, and peace had induced the enactment of laws against the Quakers, etc., and concluded by saying, "All this, notwithstanding their restless spirits, have moved some of them to return, and others to fill the royal ear of our Sovereign Lord the King with complaints against us, and have, by their unwearied solicitations, in our absence, so far prevailed as to obtain a letter from his Majesty to forbear their corporal punishment or death; although we hope and doubt not but that if his Majesty were rightly informed, he would be far from giving them such favour, or weakening his authority here, so long and orderly settled: Yet that we may not in the least offend his Majesty, this Court doth hereby order and declare that the execution of the laws in force against Quakers as such, so far as they respect corporal punishment or death, be suspended until this Court take further order." Upon this order of the Court twenty-eight Quakers were released from prison and conducted out of the jurisdiction of Massachusetts. (Holmes' Annals, Vol. I., pp. 318, 319.)]
[Footnote 122: "Upon the Restoration, not only Episcopalians, but Baptists, Quakers, etc., preferred complaints against the colony; and although, by the interest of the Earl of Manchester and Lord Say, their old friends, and Secretary Morrice, all Puritans, King Charles continued their Charter, yet he required a toleration in religion, and an alteration in some civil matters, neither of which were fully complied with." (Hutchinson's History of Massachusetts Bay, Vol. II., p. 3.)]
[Footnote 123: "In the Earl of Manchester and Lord Say; in Annesley, created Earl of Anglesea; in Denzil Hollis, now Lord Hollis; and in Ashley Cooper, now Lord Ashley, the expectant cavaliers saw their old enemies raised to the place of honour. Manchester had not taken any part in public affairs since the passing of the self-denying ordinances. He was still a Presbyterian, but had favoured the return of the King. Lord Say, also, had long since withdrawn from public life, and though of a less pliant temper than Manchester, his new friends had no reason to doubt his steady adherence to the new order of things. Annesley was an expert lawyer. Hollis had been the leader of the Presbyterians in the Long Parliament, until the crisis which turned the scale in favour of the Independents.
"Lord Ashley, better known as the Earl of Shaftesbury, had been devoted successively to the King, the Parliament, and the Protector. Nichols and Morrice were the two Secretaries of State."—Dr. R. Vaughan's Revolutions in English History, Vol. III., B. 14, Chap. i., pp. 430, 431.
"Totally devoid of resentment, as well from natural lenity as carelessness of his temper, Charles the Second ensured pardon to the most guilty of his enemies, and left hopes of favour to his most violent opponents. From the whole tenor of his actions and discourse, he seemed desirous of losing the memory of past animosities, and of making every party in affection to their prince and their native country.
"Into his Council he admitted the most eminent men of the nation, without regard to former distinctions; the Presbyterians equally with the Royalists shared this honour. Annesley was created Earl of Anglesea; Ashley Cooper, Lord Ashley; Denzil Hollis, Lord Hollis; the Earl of Manchester was appointed Lord Chamberlain; and Lord Say, Privy Seal. Calamy and Baxter, Presbyterian clergymen, were even made chaplains to the King; Admiral Montague, created Earl of Sandwich, was entitled from his recent services to great favour, and he obtained it. Monk, created Duke of Albemarle, had performed such signal services that according to a vulgar and inelegant observation, he ought rather to have expected hatred and ingratitude, yet was he ever treated by the King with great marks of distinction. Charles' disposition was free from jealousy; and the prudent conduct of the General, who never overrated his merits, prevented all State disgusts which naturally arise in so delicate a situation. Morrice, his friend, was created Secretary of State, and was supported more by his patron's credit than by his own abilities and experience."—Hume's History of England, Vol. VII., Chap, xliii., pp. 338, 339.]
[Footnote 124: Letter of King Charles the Second to the General Court at Massachusetts (June 28, 1662):
"Trusty and well beloved, We greete you well:
"Whereas we have have lately received an humble address and petition from the General Court of our colony of Massachusetts, in New England, presented to us by Simon Bradstreet and John Norton: We have thought it agreeable to our princely grace and justice to let you know that the same have been very acceptable unto us, and that we are satisfied with your expressions of loyalty, duty and good affection made to us in the said address, which we doubt not proceeds from the hearts of good and honest subjects, and We are therefore willing that all our good subjects of that Plantation do know that We do receive them into our gracious protection, and will cherish them with our best encouragement, and that We will preserve and do hereby continue the patent and charter heretofore granted to them by our royall father of blessed memory, and that they shall freely enjoy all the priviledges and libertys granted to them in and by the same, and that We will be ready to renew the same charter to them under our great seale of England, whenever they shall desire it. And because the licence of these late ill times has likewise had an influence upon our colony, in which they have swerved from the rules prescribed, and even from the government instituted by the charter, which we do graciously impute rather to the iniquity of the time than to the evil intents of the hearts of those who exercised the government there. And we do therefore publish and declare our free and gracious pardon to all our subjects of that our plantation, for all crimes and offences committed against us during the late troubles, except any persons who stand attainted by our parliament here of high treason, if any such persons have transported themselves into these parts; the apprehending of whom and delivering them into the hands of justice, we expect from the dutiful and affectionate obedience of those of our good subjects in that colony, if they be found within the jurisdiction thereof. Provided always, and be it our declared expectation, that upon a review of all such laws and ordinances that are now or have been during these late troubles in practice there, and which are contrary or derogatory to our authority and government, the same may be annulled and repealed, and the rules and prescriptions of the said charter for administering and taking the oath of allegiance be henceforth duly observed, and that the administrations of justice be in our name. And since the principle and foundation of that charter was and is the freedom of liberty of conscience, We do hereby charge and require you that freedom and liberty be duly admitted and allowed, so that they that desire to use the book of common prayer and performe their devotion in that manner that is established here be not denied the exercise thereof, or undergoe any prejudice or disadvantage thereby, they using their liberty peaceably without any disturbances to others; and that all persons of good and honest lives and conversations be admitted to the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, according to the said Book of Common Prayer, and their children to baptism."]
[Footnote 125: Indeed, so conscious were they that they had justly forfeited all consideration from the King, that the first address extracted from them when they found the monarchy firmly established, expressed deep humiliation and confession, and implored the forgiveness and favour of their Sovereign; and being sensible of the many and well-founded complaints made against them by the victims of their persecuting intolerance, they appointed two of their ablest and most trusted members—Simon Bradstreet, an old magistrate, and John Norton, a minister of Boston—to proceed to England to present their address, to intercede for them, and secure the interest of those of their old friends who might have influence with the King and his councillors. But as Bradstreet and Norton had both been persecutors of their Episcopalian, Presbyterian, and Baptist brethren, and were conspicuous in promoting the bloody persecutions of the Quakers (now getting a favourable hearing for their sufferings at the English Court), they were unwilling to undertake so difficult and hazardous a mission without formal provision being made by the Massachusetts Court for indemnity for all the damage they might incur.
"At length," says their historian, "the Committee appointed to do everything for their dispatch in the recess of the Court, 'engaged to make good all damages they might sustain by the detention of their persons in England, or otherwise.' They departed the 10th of February (1662.)
"Their reception in England was much more favourable than was expected; their stay short, returning the next autumn with the King's most gracious letter, some parts of which cheered the hearts of the country; and they then looked upon and afterwards recurred to them as a confirmation of their charter privileges, and an amnesty of all past errors. The letter was ordered to be published (as the King had directed), and in an order for public thanksgiving, particular notice is taken of 'the return of the messengers, and the continuance of the mercies of peace, liberties, and the Gospel.'"
The early New England historian, Hubbard, says: "They returned like Noah's dove, with an olive branch of peace in their mouths."
"There were some things, however, in the King's letter hard to comply with; and though it was ordered to be published, yet it was with this caution, that 'inasmuch as the letter hath influence upon the Churches as well as the civil state, all manner of acting in relation thereto shall be suspended until the next General Court, that all persons may have opportunity to consider what was necessary to be done, in order to know his Majesty's pleasure therein.'" (Hutchinson's History of Massachusetts Bay, Vol. I., pp. 221, 222.)]
[Footnote 126: So dissatisfied were these Congregational "freemen" with the conditions which were intended to put an end to their persecutions of their brethren and their disloyal practices, that they denounced their old friends and representatives to England, Messrs. Bradstreet and Norton, for those conditions which they could not prevent, and upon which they might well be thankful to preserve the Charter and obtain pardon for their past offences. Their historian says: "The agents met with the fate of most agents ever since. The favours they obtained were supposed to be no more than might well have been expected, and their merits were soon forgot; the evils which they had it not in their power to prevent, were attributed to their neglect or unnecessary concessions. Mr. Bradstreet was a man of more phlegm and not so sensibly touched, but Mr. Norton was so affected that he grew melancholy; and died suddenly soon after his return (April 5, 1633)." (Hutchinson's History of Massachusetts Bay, Vol. I., p. 223.)
In a note the historian quotes the remark of Mr. Norton to the Massachusetts Court, that "if they complied not with the King's letter, the blood that should be spilt would lie at their door."
"Dr. Mather says upon this occasion: 'Such has been the jealous disposition of our New Englanders about their dearly bought privileges, and such also has been the various interpretations of the people about the extent of their privileges, that of all the agents sent over to the Court of England for now forty years together, I know of not one who did not, at his return, meet with some forward entertainment among his countrymen.'" (Ib., p. 222.)]
[Footnote 127: Mr. Hildreth gives the following account of this mission and its results upon the state of society in Massachusetts Bay Colony and its agents to England:
"The Massachusetts' agents presently returned, bearers of a royal letter, in which the King recognized the Charter and promised oblivion of past offences. But he demanded the repeal of all laws inconsistent with his due authority; an oath of allegiance to the royal person, as formerly in use, but dropped since the commencement of the late civil war; the administration of justice in his name; complete toleration for the Church of England; the repeal of the law which restricted the privilege of voting, and tenure of office to Church members, and the substitution of property qualification instead; finally, the admission of all persons of honest lives to the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper.