« ZurückWeiter »
whence the same representation was conveyed to thy hands; whereby thou art put in mind, upon what score the purchasers and first adventurers embarked with thee to plant this colony, and what grants and promises thou made, and the assurance and expectations thou gave them and the rest of the settlers and inhabitants of this province to enjoy the privileges derived from thy own grants and concessions, besides the rights and freedoms of England; but how they were disappointed in several respects, appears, in part, by the said representation, to which we refer, and become supplicants for relief, not only in matters there complained of, which are not yet redressed, but also in things then omitted, as well as what have been lately transacted, to the grievous oppression of the Queen's subjects, and public scandal of this government.
"We are much concerned, that thou conceived such displeasure as thou did against that assembly, and not in all this time vouchsafe to show thy readiness to rectify those things which they made appear were amiss; nor hast thou showed thy particular objections to the bills, which, with great care and charge, were then prepared, for confirming thy charters to this city and country, respecting both privileges and property, and for settling the affirmation instead of oaths. But, on the other hand, we found, to our great disappointment, that thou gave credit to wrong insinuations against them, as appears by thy letter from Hyde Park, dated the twenth-sixth of the twelfth month, 1704-5, wherein thou treated some particulars very unfriendly, and without any just grounds blamed the people's representatives, who, we perceive by their proceedings, were ready to support the government under thy administration, and desired nothing but to have their just rights, privileges, and properties confirmed, the judi
catories regularly established, the magistracy supplied with men of virtue and probity, and the whole constitution so framed, that the people called Quakers might have a share with other Christian people in the government, which thou always gave them an expectation of, and which they justly claim as a point of right, not for the sake of honor, but for the suppressing of vice, &c."
To wade through the whole of this provincial controversy, which, at several reprisals, lasted till Gookin was superseded in the year 1717, and replaced by William Keith, Esquire, (afterward Sir William Keith, Baronet), would be a task of great prolixity, and what consequently might prove as tedious to the reader as laborious to the writer.
Enough has been recited, to show upon what terms Mr. Penn was first followed by his flock, as a kind of patriarch to Pennsylvania; as, also, what failures in his conduct towards them were complained of by them; and, as to the conduct of the several assemblies, which, in the several periods of this interval, maintained this controversy, a bare perusal of their proceedings is in general sufficient for their justification.
Men they were; passions and interests they consequently had; and, if they were sometimes carried away a little too far by them, it is obvious the passions and interests of others worked up the ferment first, and never relented to the last.
It is true, an over rigid performance of conditions is not to be expected of government, and seldom can be exacted from it; but then, if the representative part is not tenacious, almost to a fault, of the rights and claims of the people, they will in the course of time lose their very pretensions to them.
Against Logan, the proprietary's minister, stand upon record, still unanswered, thirteen articles of malversation,
by way of impeachment, which the governor (Evans) found means to evade, against the repeated offers of the assembly to produce their witnesses and fasten their proofs upon him; and, against the governor himself, twelve in the shape of remonstrances, which argue him loose in principle, arbitrary in disposition, and scandalous in his private life and deportment.
So unpopular was he, that a unanimous vote of thanks to the proprietary was passed on his being removed, almost before his face, for he was still a resident among them; and as he had been Logan's screen, so his successor, Gookin, was little better than Logan's tool. The first had the name, the latter the power; and, by the help of the council, spurred him on, or reined him in, as he pleased.
Both were necessitous, consequently craving alike; and having each considered himself first, and the proprietary next, had little consideration left for the crown, and none at all for the people.
If Evans adventured to act in many respects as if there was neither charter nor assembly, or, rather, as if he was authorized by his commission to do what he pleased in contempt of both, (as appears by his arbitrary dismission of one assembly merely because they could not be brought to obey his dictature,) Gookin, after his example, and at the instance of Logan, declared another assembly to be no assembly, and refused to hold any further correspondence with them. And yet, when he was on the point of being recalled, he was both mean enough and desperate enough to convene the assembly, purposely to make them this laconic proposition, viz. "That for the little time he had to stay, he was ready to do the country all the service he could; and that they might be their own carvers, in case they would in some measure provide for his going back
to seek another employment;" of which, however, they made no other use than to gratify him with a present of two hundred pounds.
Lastly, that the reader may have a general idea of those assemblies, represented in proprietary language as so refractory and turbulent, so pragmatical and assuming, let him accept of a passage out of one of their own papers to Governor Evans, in which they thus characterize themselves. "And though we are mean men, and represent a poor colony, yet as we are the immediate grantees of one branch of the legislative authority of this province, (which we would leave to our posterity as free as it was granted,) we ought to have been, and do expect to be, more civilly treated by him that claims the other branch of the same authority, and under the same royal grant, and has his support from us and the people we represent."
A Proprietary Governor a wretched Thing. Artful Conduct of Governor Keith. Penn's Death. The Province left in the Hands of Trustees Logan, one of those Trustees, obtains a Majority in the Council against the Governor. Logan makes a Voyage to England, and returns with Private Instructions to Keith. A Breach between the Governor and the Speaker. The Province in a State of Tranquillity for nine Years under his Administration. Pennsylvania easy to be governed, if well governed. Private Instructions from the Proprietary in two several Instances declared void. The Proprietaries the sole Purchasers of Indian Lands. The People at the sole Expense of Indian Affairs. Paper Money first issued in Pennsylvania. Precautions taken to secure it from Depreciation. Room left in the Constitution of the Province for Self-defence, by Force of Arms, though the Use of Arms was not consistent with the Principles of Quakers.
It is by this time apparent enough, that, though the proprietary and popular interests spring from one and the same source, they divide as they descend; that every proprietary governor, for this reason, has two masters, one who gives him his commission, and one who gives him his pay; that he is on his good behaviour to both; that if he does not fulfil with rigor every proprietary command, however injurious to the province or offensive to the assembly, he is recalled; that if he does not gratify the assembly in what they think they have a right to claim, he is certain to live in perpetual broils, though uncertain whether he shall be enabled to live at all; and that, upon the whole, to be a governor upon such terms is to be the most wretched thing alive.
Sir William Keith could not be ignorant of this; and, therefore, however he was instructed here at home, either by his principal or the Lords of Trade, resolved to govern himself when he came upon the