網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

would have been most beneficial to England and the colonies as a whole, but it was one which Massachusetts and the other colonies most distrusted. It was natural that his insistence upon the prerogatives of his office should anger the colonists, though his acts were in obedience to the instructions of the Board of Trade. To Dudley the navigation system and the commercial policy of Great Britain were of more importance than the trade of Massachusetts, and he sought to enforce English law despite the dissatisfaction of the colonial merchants; yet he was keenly alive to the economic needs of Massachusetts, and in frequent letters urged the Board of Trade to encourage her industries. His military policy included all New England; and his plea for the fortification of the frontier posts and demand for the command of the militia of Connecticut and Rhode Island, though plans which aroused opposition in the colonies, had been proposed by the English authorities. To Dudley the union of all New England seemed more important than the sacred charters of Rhode Island and Connecticut; and, although the spirit of local patriotism defeated his project, his plan had the approval of the English statesmen. England had sought in vain to impose this policy upon the colonies since the days of Andros. The rough sea-captain, Sir William Phips, though a popular hero, failed to satisfy the colony and the crown alike. Lord Bellomont, though personally popular, was not more successful in pleasing both the colonists and his superiors. No royal governor could enforce the English policy and teach the colonists to allay their prejudices and feel a pride in their dependence upon England.

But Dudley's personal character was not such as to invite confidence. His methods were not always straightforward, or his conduct open and frank. In his early life he would

“cringe and bow" to gain a friend; but when his object was gained he would sacrifice that friend if his ambition required it, as Randolph and the Mathers learned. He had all the selfishness of a British politician of the eighteenth century: he was pliant to his superiors, harsh and overbearing to his inferiors, willing to use all means, even bribery, to gain the support of an influential man, and ready to misuse every advantage that his official position gave him to take revenge upon an enemy. He was ambitious, self-seeking, and facile; and could serve for his own ends sovereigns so dissimilar as James II, William III, and Anne. Believing that his own interests lay with the official party in England, he identified himself with it, and thus sacrificed his popularity at home. His services, moreover, were efficient, and he gave satisfaction to his superiors, whose policy, whatever it was, he was ready to carry out.

With such a character and such aims he could not but be hated in the colonies; and the hatred that attached to his name was deeper and more consistent than fell to the lot of any other man. From 1682 to 1715 it is doubtful whether, outside of his own party and those who were bound to him by fear, interest, or gratitude, a single well-wisher could be found for him in all New England. He was mobbed in the revolution of 1689, his house was threatened in 1707, and personal violence was offered him on at least two other occasions. Neither Winthrop nor Stoughton, who in many ways sympathized with his aims, was so ill regarded; it was Dudley's personal character and the success which attended most of his plans that made him so much more unpopular than any of his contemporaries. Even to his friends, his greatest fault was his ambition. He loved power for its own sake and for the increased influence it would give him. To gain it he attached

[ocr errors]

himself to the party favoring English influence, and was ready to sacrifice his popularity in Massachusetts by accepting the commission as president of the Council in 1685. To keep his power and to gain the support of the ruling class in England, he consistently worked to carry out the policy of the English government, and, as it seemed to the colonists, to sacrifice their best interests. To be sure, he was ambitious for Massachusetts; he wished it to be a loyal colony, ready and willing to support England on every occasion, and similar to the mother country in all ways. He wished Massachusetts to be prosperous, to stand well financially, and to be a model for the other colonies. Whenever the local prejudices of the colonists coincided with the aims of the English government, he. sympathized with them and favored them; but, when they were opposed to the policy of England and to his ambition, he forgot that he was a New Englander and became a .royal official looking only to the advancement of the interests of the crown.

Dudley in many ways became an Englishman. He had made three visits to England, had lived there for over thirteen years, and was deputy-governor of the Isle of Wight nearly as long as he was governor of Massachusetts. He was admitted into English society and was popular there; he was a frequently consulted member of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, and a candidate for the Royal Society; he served in Parliament and was consulted by the secretaries regarding colonial affairs. For nearly thirty-five years he was an English official of some sort, striving to enforce the ideas of the crown. Thus it is not strange that he should have lost somewhat the point of view of a colonial leader, and have identified himself with the ruling class in England.

It was part of his ambition to be regarded as an English gentleman. He sought to increase his estate and to leave a patrimony sufficient to support his family in the style which he' thought due to one of his position. It has already been seen that while he was in England he feared that his estates would suffer and that he would fall into contempt and poverty; but while he was governor he so increased his fortune that he was an object of envy and suspicion to the colonists. He gave his eldest son, Paul, a legal education in England, and solicited his appointment as attorney-general, secretary of the Council, and lieutenant-governor. He saw that his children married

into wealthy and influential families, thus increasing the im· portance of his own. To English travellers coming to Massa

chusetts he was always courteous and ready to put himself at their disposal, and thus passed for one of the prominent and popular men in the colony. At the close of his life this social ambition was gratified; for, when the struggles of his administration were over and their bitterness somewhat forgotten, he regained much of that popularity which must have been his in his early days.

To judge Dudley's career by the accusations of his enemies would be manifestly unfair. To judge him in the light of the twentieth century, when the colonies have become independent, would be equally unfair. As has been said, his life fell in the middle period, when dependence on England was diminishing and independence was not yet possible. From his training and his methods of thought he was a legalist, and, always taking a lawyer's point of view, could see in the action of Massachusetts only illegal and revolutionary attempts that ought to be checked. Thus he threw himself into the struggles and conflicts as an English official, and as such he should be judged. Though his character was lacking in greatness, and

his actions were often tainted by self-seeking, though his aims were those of an English official and his ideals opposed to those of his fellow-colonists, his long career proves him to have been capable as an administrator and efficient as a servant of the crown.

« 上一頁繼續 »