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respect. Derision, on the contrary, must be the lot of him, who imagines it in the power of the pen, to set any lustre upon them; and indignation theirs for daring to assert and maintain the independency interwoven in their constitution, which now, it seems, is become an improper ingredient, and therefore to be excised away. "But how contemptibly soever these gentlemen may talk of the colonies, how cheap soever they may hold their assemblies, or how insignificant the planters and traders who compose them, truth will be truth, and principle principle, notwithstanding. Courage, wisdom, integrity, and honor, are not to be measured by the sphere assigned them to act in, but by the trials they undergo, and the vouchers they furnish, and if so manifested, need neither robes nor titles to set them off."
Though it is not very easy to form an abstract of a work so multifarious in its contents and minute in its details as the "Historical Review," yet as the representation which it contains of the constitution of the province is necessary to the explication of the matters in dispute, the following summary is submitted for the information and amusement of the reader.
The writer sets out with this remarkable observation as the principle on which the claims of the inhabitants of Pennsylvania were founded, that, "the birthright of every British subject is, to have a property of his own, in his estate, person, and reputation; subject only to laws enacted by his own concurrence, either in person, or by his representatives, and which birthright accompanies him wheresoever he wanders or rests; so long as he is within the pale of the British dominions, and is true to his allegiance."
Having thus judiciously shown that neither distance nor circumstances could deprive the colonists of the right which they possessed in common with their fellowsubjects, the historian of Pennsylvania proceeds to a survey of the first charter granted to William Penn, in the year 1681, which was "a most alarming period: the nation being in a strong ferment; and the court forming an arbitrary plan; which, under the countenance of a small standing army, they began the same year to carry into execution, by cajoling some corporations and forcing others by quo warrantos to surrender their charters; so that by the abuse of law, the disuse of parliaments, and the terror of power, the kingdom became in effect the prey of will and pleasure."
After selecting and condensing the principal sections of the charter, it is observed that "they are penned with all the appearance of candour and simplicity imaginable; so that if craft had any thing to do with them, never was craft better hid. As little is left as possible to Future Instructions, and no where is there to be found the shadow of a pretence, that such Instructions should be Laws. All is equally agreeable to law and reason, the claims of the crown, and the rights of the subject; nor indeed, would the grant have been valid, if it had been otherwise. The words Legal Government, are words of great significancy. No command of the king's is a legal command, unless consonant to law, and authenticated by one of his seals ;—the forms of office in such case providing, that nothing illegal shall be carried into execution; and the officer himself being responsible to the laws in case of yielding a criminal obedience. It would, therefore, be a waste of words to show, that the crown is limited in all acts and grants by the fundamentals of the constitution; and that, as it cannot alienate any one limb or joint of the state, so neither, on the other, can it establish any colony upon, or contract it within a narrower scale, than the subject is entitled to by the great charter of England."'
As a prior grant had been made of this territory to James, Duke of York, it was necessary to have an assignment from him of his right thereto, which was regularly done by a deed of feoffment, in August 1682, to William Penn, who exerted himself diligently and with success in procuring adventurers for the settlement of his new colony. Of the frame or system of government devised by this celebrated man, in the year following, the author of the Review observes, that "the introduction serves to give us a more lively idea of Mr. Penn preaching in Grace-Church Street, than we derive from Raphael's cartoon of Paul preaching at Athens; as a man of conscience he sets out; as a man of reason he proceeds; and as a man of the world he offers the most plausible conditions to All, to the end that he might gain Some.''
"This frame of government consisted of twenty-four articles, and savoured very strongly of Harrington and his Oceana. In the governor and freemen of the province, in the form of a provincial council, (always in being, and yet always changing) and general assembly, the government was placed. By them conjunctively all laws were to be made, all officers appointed, and all public affairs transacted. Seventy-two was the number this council was to consist of; they were to be chosen by the freemen; and though the governor or his deputy was to be perpetual president, he had but a treble vote. One third of them was, at the first, to be chosen for three years, one third for two years, and one third for one year, in such manner that there should be an annual succession of twenty-four new members, &c. The general assembly was at first to consist of all the freemen, afterwards of two hundred, and never was to exceed five hundred.
"The laws agreed upon in England were in all forty; partly political, partly moral, and partly economical. They are of the nature of an original compact between the proprietary and the freemen, and as such were reciprocally received and executed.
"But in the following year, the scene of action being shifted from the mother country to the colony, the department of the legislator was shifted too. Less of the man of God now appeared, and more of the man of the world. One point he had already carried against the inclinations of his followers: namely, the reservation of quit rents, which they had remonstrated against as a burden in itself, and added to the purchase money, was without precedent in any other colony; but he artfully distinguishing the two capacities of proprietary and governor, and insinuating that government must be supported with splendour and dignity, and that by this expedient they would be exempt from other taxes; the bait took, and the point was carried.
"To unite the subtlety of the serpent with the innocence of the dove, is not so easily done as said. Having in this instance experienced the weight of his credit and the power of his persuasion, he was no sooner landed, than he formed a double scheme for uniting the province with the territory, though it does not appear that he was properly authorised so to do, and. to substitute another frame of government in lieu of the former, which having answered the great purpose of inducement here at home,1 for collecting of subjects, he was now inclined to render somewhat more favourable to himself in point of government."
Such was the original settlement of the founder and legislator of Pennsylvania, who has been praised as another Lycurgus, and yet it appears that his conduct was not altogether, free from suspicion even at that period; for some of his friends charged him with subtle contrivance and artifice in laying aside his original frame of government and introducing another a few months afterwards; the pretence of which was, the union of the province granted to him by the crown, and the lower counties obtained by assignment from the Duke of York.
In less than three years after the arrival of Penn, and when his colony had begun to put on a promising appearance, he returned to England to settle some disputes that had arisen between him and Lord Baltimore the proprietary of Maryland. James the Second was now on the throne, and it cannot be denied that Penn was closely attached to that misguided monarch, who is said indeed by persons extremely intimate with the proceedings of his court to have been encouraged by him in many of those obnoxious proceedings which hastened the revolution.
'England, where this " Historical Review" was first published.
When that event took place, the conduct of Mr. Penn exposed him to censure; and as a proof that his connexion with the friends of the exiled monarch continued to render him an object of jealousy to the new government, he was deprived of his authority over his infant colony by a royal commission in 1693. Three years afterwards, however, he recovered the rights which had been assumed by the crown, and in 1701 he granted another charter of privileges to the inhabitants of Pennsylvania and the territory annexed, which instrument from that period became the established formulary or rule of government for the province.
By this last charter, though much remained of the first institution, yet much was taken away. "The people had no longer the election of the council; consequently all who were to serve in that capacity were to be nominated by the governor, and, of course, were to serve upon what terms he should please to impose. Instead of having but three voices in seventy-two, he was now left single in the executive, and at liberty to restrain even the legislative by refusing his assent to their bills whenever he might think fit." It provided, however, that an assembly should be yearly chosen by the freemen to consist of four persons out of each county, or of a greater number if the governor and assembly should so agree, with all the powers and privileges of a deliberative body according to the rights of the free-born subjects of England. After some provisions for the due administration of justice, this instrument decided that no act, law, or ordinance, should at any time hereafter be made to alter, change, or diminish the form or effect of this charter, or of any part or clause therein, according to the true intent and meaning thereof, without the consent of the governor, for the time being, and six parts in seven of the assembly. "On the other hand, likewise, the assembly, who at first could not propound laws, though they might amend or reject them, were put in possession of that privilege, and upon the whole there was much more reason for acknowledgment than complaint."
Matter of complaint, however, soon arose, on account of the demand of subsidies. The charter which Mr. Penn had obtained from the crown, comprehended a much greater extent of territory than he thought fit to take up of the Indians at the first purchase; and even in the very infancy of the colony, it was inconsiderately provided by the assembly, that in case any person should presume to buy land of the natives within the limits of the province, without leave first obtained from the proprietary, the bargain and purchase should be void. Rendered thus the only purchaser, he reckoned that he might always accommodate himself at the Indian market, on the same terms, with what quantity of land he pleased, and till the stock in hand, or such parts of it as he thought fit to dispose of, were in a fair way of being sold off, he did not think it for his interest to incumber himself with more. This happened sooner than he foresaw; though it must be acknowledged that the founders of few cities appear to have possessed more foresight. The growth of his colony, indeed, exceeded his most sanguine expectations; and when successive new purchases came to be made, an inconvenience by degrees became manifest, which, perhaps, had not been thought of before, or, if thought of, had not been guarded against. Men who want a present convenience, must not be over solicitous about future contingencies; and in general, we chuse to be blind to such objects as we fear we have not strength enough to remove: he that is too much of a huckster, often loses a bargain; as he that is too little so, often purchases a lawsuit.
It was no hard matter to induce a belief, that occasional treaties with the Indians, under the pretence of keeping up the same brotherly correspondence which had been at first established with them, was a necessary measure of government; nor to prevail with the province, while this was understood to be the sole consideration, to bear the expense of them. But when it appears, as in the course of time was unavoidable, that a treaty and a purchase went on together, that the former was a shoing-horn for the latter; that the governor only made the compliments, and the assembly the presents: it could not but appear also, that there must be somewhat unfair in a procedure where one paid all the cost, and the other engrossed the profit; and that it was high time to put some stop to a practice so injurious to their understandings.
It is not indeed necessary in private life to bargain, that those who purchase for their own use and advantage should pay the price out of their own pockets; but in public it is, persons who stand on the same ground, will insist on the same rights; and it is matter of wonder, when any one party discovers folly or insolence enough to demand or expect any pre-eminence over the other: whereas prerogative admits of no equality; and presupposes that difference of place alters the use of language, and even the very nature of things. Hence, though protection is the reason, and, consequently, should be the end of government, we ought to be as much upon our guard against our protectors as against our enemies.
Power, like water, is ever working its own way; and whenever it can find or make an opening, is altogether as prone to overflow whatever is subject to it. And though matter of right overlooked may be reclaimed and reassumed at any time, it cannot be too soon reclaimed and reassumed. That assembly then, which first discovered this lapse, or which, at the requisition of their constituents, first endeavoured to retrieve it, did no more than their duty. Again: the distinction made by Mr. Penn in the case of quit rents, between his two capacities of governor and proprietary, had