網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

London Wall;"__a precise description which brings the locality before us -and if it applies to this early residence in the neighbourhood, we may see the new captain, full of life and spirits, in sailor uniform, coming out of the court and stepping into the Trinity House hard by, where his father might have business to transact; or pushing in a boat up the silent highway of the Thames to the Admiralty, in Duke Street, Westminster, where he would have business of his own. So lucky was he, that in a year after his marriage, he rose to be a Rear-Admiral, and would feel that sense of personal importance which, it is proverbial, such gentlemen generally feel as they first put their feet on the ladder of promotion. In the autumn of that year, the 14th of October, 1644, a little boy was born in the court adjoining London Wall, filling the house with joy and gladness.

Just then England was in a very excited state. The battle of Marston Moor had been fought in the previous summer, the country was plunging deeper still into civil strife, King Charles I. had been virtually dethroned, and parliamentary power had leaped into the saddle, the armies of the royalist and country party were marching up and down the land to the terror of quiet citizens, and no one could tell how the strife would end. For a soldier there was no helphe must take one side or the other. But a sailor could stand aloof. The navy had only to do with England's enemies, to fight with Holland and Spain ; it had no business to interfere between patriots and partisans of the crown. England's lordship of the seas was in the hands of the High Admiral, Lord Warwick, and other Admirals had only to obey his orders. “It is not for us to mind state affairs," said Blake, then the foremost sailor of his day, “but to keep foreigners from fooling us.” In that sentiment Captain Penn agreed with him, though perhaps he had rather a strong leaning towards royalism.

i Sir William Penn's “Life," vol. ii. p 615.

Penn had to leave England just after his son had come into the world, and for a good while was cruising about, and meeting with adventure, in distant climes, whilst the Dutch wife and the little boy were living at Wanstead, in Essex, whither they removed soon after the father had gone to sea.

Wanstead was then a remarkable place, and so was Chigwell, close by it; with these two villages the child would become acquainted as he grew up to boyhood, and I cannot help thinking that his life there for about eleven years had much more to do with his after-life than Penn's biographers have been wont to think. Old Wanstead House was in its glory. It had been rebuilt by Lord Chancellor Rich, had received Queen Mary just before her coronation, had been visited by Queen Elizabeth for four or five days, and had witnessed the marriage of the Earl of Leicester with the Countess of Essex,-the bridegroom being at the time lord and master of the domain. The splendour of the mansion might be on the wane when the Admiral's wife went to live in the vicinity, but still it would be the talk of the neighbours-an object of curiosity and pride. Old Wanstead Church, very different from the present building, would also be of some interest; for there puritan feeling ran very high, and disputes between the old and the new establishment—the Church of episcopacy and the Church of presbyterianism_had begun to rage three years before. The principal inhabitants then signed a protest against all "popish innovations," and in favour of "the true reformed protestant religion”; and they bound themselves to oppose, “and by all good ways and means endeavour to bring to condign punishment,” all who should do anything contrary to the contents of that protestation. In 1647,—when Penn was only three years old, John Saltmarsh,

of England's most remarkable Mystics, is said to have died mad ; at all events his writings prove him to have possessed real genius; for his “Sparkles of Glory” contain passages of singular beauty and power, and many a glimpse of truth, such as the wise of this world can never understand. The Wanstead protest and Saltmarsh's “Sparkles” may not appear to have any connection with the boy William ; but I fancy it will be found that they had, and that the reader will see it when we get a few pages farther on.

Chigwell, too, was a notable place. St. Mary's Church, with a Norman door approached by an avenue of yews, so far appears much as it did in the period of the civil wars and under the Commonwealth; and there is still preserved in it a monumental brass, representing a niched figure dressed in cope, rochet, and chimere, with an inscription stating that under it lies Samuel Harsnett, Archbishop of York. This prelate had been vicar of Chigwell and master of the Grammar School, and had founded there two free schools, one for young children, the other for “teaching the Greek and Latin tongues," and it is curious to find the founder stipulating that

“the master should be a good poet; of a sound religion, neither papal nor puritan; of a grave behaviour; of a sober and honest conversation ; no tipler nor haunter of alehouses, no puffer of tobacco; and above all, apt to teach and severe in his government." Here it was that William Penn went to school; here he learnt Latin and Greek; here he would seem to have been taught gratuitously; and it is pretty certain he never saw his master with a pipe in his mouth. At Chigwell free school he remained till he was twelve, and what he was taught we gather from Harsnett's directions. “Lilly's Latin, and Cleonard's Greek grammar were the boy's class-books; for "phrase and style” he read “no other than Tully and Terence”; for poets he studied “the ancient Greek and Latin, no novelties, nor conceited modern writers." Besides a Latin schoolmaster, William had another, who,-if he corresponded with the terms of Harsnett's Trust, which no doubt he did so far,—wrote "fair secretary and Roman hands," was skilful in "cyphering and casting up accounts,” and taught "his scholars the same faculty.” 1

I have no doubt that the boy was instructed according to the founder's wishes in all matters of secular learning, though he does not seem to have profited much under the writing master, if we may judge from the facsimile of his signature; but I question whether the trustees attended to one alternative of the two forbidden in the Chigwell schoolmaster,—"neither papist nor puritan.” “Papist,” we may rest assured, the head-master was not, but that he was "puritan"

· The terms of the trust are given by Lysons, “Environs of London," vol. iv. p. 128.

is almost certain ; for Chigwell, like Wanstead, was steeped in puritanism. One Dr. Utey had been ejected from the vicarage in consequence of a petition signed by the inhabitants complaining that he had “ erected an altar," had used “offensive bowing and cringing," had “kissed the altar twice in one day,” and read the prayers with his back to the people. In 1650 it was reported by Commissioners, that there had been no settled minister at Chigwell since Dr. Utey's removal. The name of Peter Watkinson as minister at Chigwell appears in the list of the Presbyterian clergy for the Braintree district, in Essex ; but at what date he was there I cannot tell.

We have seen what books young Penn studied, but he must have received an education beyond what comes from printed pages. He was active as a young man, very fond of manly sports, and, no doubt, liked to wander and play games in the adjacent woods known as Hainault Forest. It is still “very picturesque in parts, abounds in nightingales, and can still show some fine trees, although none so large nor so celebrated as the Fairlop oak which stood not far from Chigwell.” The country was disafforested in 1851, and therefore what it is now gives but a faint idea of what it was when Penn wandered in its green glades and amused himself with other boys under its far-spreading trees. We may depend upon it that inspirations then came on him from nature, and the God of nature, the influence of which he never lost : and the stories of the neighbourhood he would hear,

1 The whole document is very curious ; and proceedings consequent upon it are printed in David's “Annals of Nonconformity in Essex,” pp. 220–223.

« 上一頁繼續 »