Page images
PDF
EPUB

CHAPTER XX.

Mr. Williams and Mr. Clarke sail-Mr. Coddington's charter va

cated-troubles in Rhode Island Mr. Williams returns-Sir Henry Vane-Milton-Mr. Williams endeavors to re-establish orderIndians-letter on religious and civil liberty.

Mr. Williams and Mr. Clarke sailed from Boston for England, in November, 1651. It was not without considerable difficulty that Mr. Williams was allowed to take passage at Boston.

The object of his mission was offensive to Massachusetts, besides the old dislike of his principles.

During their absence, the towns of Newport and Portsmouth submitted quietly to Mr. Coddington's rule. Providence and Warwick resolved to maintain the government, as before established. They accordingly met by their deputies, in General Assembly, at Providence, elected a Governor, and enacted several laws, one of which prohibited any person from purchasing land of the Indians, without the approbation of the Assembly, on penalty of forfeiting the same to the colony.

Mr. Williams and Mr. Clarke, on their arrival in England, presented a petition to the Council of State, who, on April 8, 1652, referred it to the committee for foreign affairs. The application met with opposition, from various sources; but the Council of State granted an order to vacate Mr. Coddington's commission, and to confirm the former charter.

While in England, in 1652, Mr. Clarke published a book, entitled “ Ill News from New-England, or a Narrative of New England's Persecutions; wherein it is declared, that while Old England is becoming New, New-England is becoming Old; also, Four Proposals to Parliament, and Four Conclusions, touching the Faith and Order of the Gospel of Christ, out of his Last Will and Testament."

Mr. Williams also published, in 1652, his rejoinder to Mr. Cotton, entitled “The Bloody Tenet yet More Bloody, by Mr. Cotton's Endeavor to Wash it White;" and two essays, the one entitled “The Hireling Ministry None of Christ's, or a Discourse on the Propagation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ;" and the other, "Experiments of Spiritual Life and Health, and their Preservatives.”

The following letter was written to Mr. Gregory Dexter, who had printed Mr. Williams?" Key," during his first visit to England, but who had subsequently removed to Providence :

At Mr. Davis his house, at the Checker, in St. Martin's, or at Sir Henry Vane's, at Whitehall.

8th, 7, 52, (so called.) My dear and faithful friend, to whom, with the dearest, I humbly wish more and more of the light and love of him who is invisible, God blessed for evermore in the face of Jesus Christ. It hath pleased God so to engage me in divers skirmishes against the priests, both of Old and NewEngland, so that I have occasioned using the help of printer men, unknown to me, to long for my old friend. So it hath pleased God to hold open an open desire of preaching and printing wonderfully against Romish and English will-worship. At this present, the devil rageth and clamors in petitions and remonstrances from the stationers and others to the Parliament, and all cry, 'shut up the press.' The stationers and others have put forth · The Beacon Fired, and · The Second Beacon Fired;' and some friends of yours have put forth · The Beacon Quenched,' not yet extant.

“Sir, many friends have frequently, with much love, inquired after you. Mr. Warner is not yet come with my letters: they put into Barnstable. She came by wagon by land, but he goes with the ship to Bristol, and, indeed, in this dangerous war with the Dutch, the only safe trading is to Bristol, or those parts, for up along the channel, in London way, is the greatest danger, for although our fleets be abroad, and take many French and Dutch, yet they sometimes catch up some of ours.

• By my public letters, you will see how we wrestle, and how we are like yet to wrestle, in the hopes of an end. Praised be the Lord, we are preserved, the nation is preserved, the Parliament sits, God's people are secure, too

A great opinion is, that the kingdom of Christ is risen, and (Rev. 11:) the kingdoms of the earth are be

66

secure.

66

come the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ.' Others have fear of the slaughter of the witnesses yet approaching. Divers friends, of all sorts, here, long to see you, and wonder you come not over. For myself, I had hopes to have got away by this ship, but I see now the mind of the Lord to hold me here one year longer. It is God's mercy, his very great mercy, that we have obtained this interim encouragement from the Council of State, that you may cheerfully go on in the name of a colony, until the controversy is determined. The determination of it, Sir, I fear, will be a work of time, I fear longer than we have yet been here, for our adversaries threaten to make a last appeal to the Parliament, in case we get the day before the Council.

Sir, in this regard, and when my public business is over, I am resolved to begin my old law-suit, so that I have no thought of return until spring come twelve months. My duty and affection hath compelled me to acquaint my poor companion with it. I consider our many children, the danger of the seas, and enemies, and therefore I writé not positively for her, only I acquaint her with our affairs. I tell her, joyful I should be of her being here with me, until our state affairs were ended, and I freely leave her to wait upon the Lord for direction, and according as she finds her spirit free and cheerful, to come or

stay. If it please the Lord to give her a free spirit to cast herself upon the Lord, I doubt not of your love and faithful care, in any thing she hath occasion to use your help, concerning our children and affairs, during our absence; but I conclude, whom have I in heaven or earth but thee, and so humbly and thankfully say, in the Lord's pleasure, as only and infinitely best and sweetest.

“ Abundance of love remembered from abundance of friends to your dear self and your dearest.

My love to your cousin Clemence, and all desire love, especially our godly friends.

“ To my dear and faithful friend, Mr. Gregory Dexter, at Providence, in New-England, these.”

66

[ocr errors]

The General Assembly, which met at Providence, in October, addressed the following letter to Mr. Williams. It is valuable, as a public testimonial of the affection of his fellow-citizens. The proposition to procure for himself,

from the government of England, an appointment as Governor of the colony for one year, is a strong proof of their respect and confidence, though this proposition was protested against by some of them. Mr. Williams, we presume, did not covet this distinction, and probably considered such an appointment as a dangerous precedent, and a virtual relinquishment of the authority given to the colony by the charter to elect its own officers.

“ Honored Sir, “We may not neglect any opportunity to salute you

in this your absence, and have not a little cause to bless God, who hath pleased to select you to such a purpose, as we doubt not but will conduce to the peace and safety of us all, as to make you once more an instrument to impart and disclose our cause unto those noble and grave senators, our honorable protectors, in whose eyes God hath given you honor, (as we understand) beyond our hopes, and moved the hearts of the wise to stir on your behalf. We give you hearty thanks for your care and diligence, to watch all opportunities to promote our peace, for we perceive your prudent and comprehensive mind stirreth every stone to present it to the builders, to make firm the fabric unto us, about which you are employed, laboring to unweave such irregular devices wrought by others amongst us, as have formerly clothed us with so sad events, as the subjection of some among us, both English and Indian, to other jurisdic. tions, as also to prevent such near approach of our neighbors upon our borders, on the Narraganset side, which might much annoy us, with your endeavors to furnish us with such ammunition as to look a foreign enemy in the face, being that the cruel begin to stir in these western parts, and to unite in one again such as of late have had seeming separation in some respects, to encourage and strengthen our weak and enfeebled body to perform its work in these foreign parts, to the honor of such as take care, have been and are so tender of our good, though we be unworthy to be had in remembrance by persons of so noble places, indued with parts of so excellent and honorable and abundantly beneficial use.

Sir, give us leave to intimate thus much, that we humbly conceive (so far as we are able to understand) that if

66

same.

it be the pleasure of our protectors to renew our charter for the re-establishing of our government, that it might tend much to the weighing of men's minds, and subjecting of persons who have been refractory, to yield themselves over as unto a settled government, if it might be the pleasure of that ho rable state, to invest, appoint, and empower yourself to come over as Governor of this colony, for the space of one year, and so the government to be honorably put upon this place, which might seem to add weight forever hereafter in the constant and successive derivation of the

We only present it to your deliberate thoughts and consideration, with our hearty desires that your time of stay there for the effectual perfecting and finishing of your so weighty affairs may not seem tedious, nor be any discouragement unto you; rather than you shall suffer for loss of time here, or expense there, we are resolved to stretch forth our hands at your return, beyond our strength, for your supply. Your loving bed-fellow is in health, and presents her endeared affection, so are all your family. Mr. Sayles, also, and his, with the rest of your friends throughout the colony, who wish and desire carnestly to see your face.

Sir, we are yours; leaving you unto the Lord, we heartily take leave.

“ From the General Assembly of this colony of Providence Plantations, assembled in the town of Providence, the 28th of October, 1652.

" JOHN GREENE, General Recorder."*

[ocr errors]

The order of the Council of State was sent over by Mr. William Dyre, who, perhaps, accompanied the agents to England. This order directed the towns to unite again, as before; but it was found, in this, as in other cases, easier to command, than to enforce obedience. The towns seem

* Providence Records. This letter was written, apparentiy, in accordance with the following act, passed on the 3d of June preceding:

Whereas we have received divers loving letters from our agent, Mr. Roger Williams, in England, wherein the careful proceedings are manifested unto us concerning our public affairs, and yet no answering letters of encouragement have been sent unto him from this colony ; therefore the town doth take it into consideration, and orders to make arrangements for a committee of the two towns of Warwick and Providence to write to him."

« PreviousContinue »