« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
Our author has done ample justice to the humane conduct, and tolerant spirit of the noble founder of Maryland. Lord Baltimore, it is well known, as early as 1632, by virtue of a liberal charter from Charles I., became proprietor of this province. Being a Roman Catholic himself, one object which he had in view, was to secure in America, an asylum for those of his own religious persuasion. He however immediately granted religious toleration to all, who should settle within the limits of his grant; and this was afterwards confirmed by the assembly of the province, which met in 1649. Referring to the proceedings of this assembly, Mr.
It had been declared by the proprietary,at a very early period, that religious toleration should constitute one of the fundamental principles of the social union, over which he presided, and the assembly of the province, composed chiefly of Roman Catholics, now proceeded, by a memorable act concerning religion, to interweave this noble principle into its legislative institutions. This statute commenced with a preamble declaring ihat the enforcement of the conscience had been of dangerous consequence in those countries, where it had been practiced; and therefore enacted, that no persons professing to believe in Jesus Christ, should be molested in respect of their religion, or in the free exercise thereof, or be compelled to the belief or exercise of any other religion against their assent; so that they be not unfaithful to the proprietary, or conspire against the civil government. That persons molesting any other in respect of his religious tenets, should pay treble damages to the party aggrieved, and twenty shillings tu the proprietary-That those, who should reproach their neighbors with opprobrious names of religious distinction, should forfeit ten shillings to the person insulted— That any one speaking reproachfully against the blessed Virgin or the apostles, should forfeit five pounds; but that blaspheming against God shall be punished with death.. By the enactment of this statute," the author adds, “the Catholic planters of Maryland procured to their adopted country the distinguished praise of being the first of the American States, in which toleration was established by law, and graced their peculiar faith with the signal and unwonted merit of protecting that religious freedom, which all other christian associations were conspiring to overthrow. It is a striking and instructive spectacle to behold, at this period, the Puritans persecuting their protestant brethren in New-England; the Episcopalians retorting the same severity on the Puritans in Virginia, and the Catholics, against whom all the others were combined, forming in Maryland a sanctuary where all might worship, and none might oppress, and where even Protestants sought refuge from Protestant intolerance.
We must confess, we had never been so forcibly struck with the liberal and tolerant spirit of the noble founder of Maryland, and his associates, till this author had placed it in such bold relief,
during divine service, and disturbed the congregation by noise and insult. The punishments inflicted in this State, arose, it is believed, chiefly from these causes.--ED.
and in contrast with the religious intolerance of the first settlers of Virginia and New-England. Most of the American histories, with which we have been conversant, have but slightly noticed this liberality of the founders of Maryland ; and without according to it, that degree of praise which, in our opinion, it merits, especially when we consider the general principles of his church on this subject. We cannot but deeply regret, that a regard to truth, has compelled the author to state, that this liberality was afterwards ill requited by those very protestants, who partook of its benefits. On this subject Mr. Grahame proceeds to say,
It had been happy for the credit of the protestants, whose hostility perhaps enforced the moderation of the Catholics of Maryland, if they had imitated the virtue, which their own apprehended violence may have tended to elicit. But, unfortunately, a great proportion even of those, who were constrained to seek refuge among the Catholics, from the persecutions of their own Protestant brethren, carried with them into exile the same intolerance, of which themselves had been the victims, and the Presbyterians and other dissenters, who now began to flock, in considerable numbers, from Virginia to Maryland, gradually formed a Protestant confederacy against the interests of the original settlers; and with ingratitude still more odious than their injustice, projected the abrogation, not only of the Catholic worship, but of every part of that system of toleration, under whose shelter they were enabled to conspire its downfall. But though the Catholics were thus ill-requited by their Protestant guests, it would be a mistake to suppose that the calamities that subsequently desolated the province were produced by the toleration, which her assembly now established, or that the Catholics were really losers by this act of justice and liberality. From the disposition of the prevailing party in England, and the state of the other colonial settlements, the catastrophe that overtook the liberties of the Maryland Catholics could not possibly have been evaded : and if the virtue they now displayed was unable to avert their fate, it exempted them, at least, from the reproach of deserving it; it redoubled the guilt and scandal incurred by their adversaries, and achieved for themselves a reputation more lasting and honorable than political triumph or temporal elevation. What christian, however sensible of the errors of Catholic doctrine, would not rather be the descendant of the Catholics who established toleration in Maryland, than of the Protestants who overthrew it? Vol. II. pp. 23—25.
The Protestant confederacy above mentioned, proceeded so far against their benefactors, as to present to William and Mary, in the early part of their reign, various charges against the proprietor, and to which he was summoned to make answer before the privy council. But Mr. Grahame informs us, " that it was found impossible to convict him of any other charge, than that of bolding a different faith from the men by whom he had been so ungratefully persecuted, and so calumniously traduced.”
He was only permitted, however, to retain his property in the province ;-by an order of Council, he was deprived of his right in the government; and the famous Sir Edmund Andros was appointed the King's Governor, in his room.
“ Thus," Mr. Grahame very justly remarks, “fell the proprietary government of Maryland, after an endurance of fifty-six years, during which it had been administered with unexampled mildness, and with a regard to the liberty and welfare of the people, that deserved a very different requital from that, which I have had the pain of recording. The slight notice which the policy of this Catholic legislator has received from the philosophic encomiasts of liberal institutions, strongly attests the capricious distribution of fame, and may probably have proceeded from dislike of his religious tenets, which it was foreseen would share the commendation bestowed on their votary. It was apprehended, perhaps, that the charge of intolerance, so strongly preferred against Catholic potentates and the Romish church, would be weakened by the praise of a toleration, which Catholics established and Protestants overthrew."
Mr. Walsh, in his Appeal, was among the first in this country to bring fully into public notice the liberal and tolerant conduct of the first settlers of Maryland. The author of the biography of Charles Carroll, a descendant of the Maryland Catholics, and the only survivor of those, whose names must always be associated with their country's glory, also alludes to this religious controversy in that province. He informs us, that the father of the present Mr. Carroll, was actively engaged in this controversy, and was one of the leaders and most influential members of the party in that province; and that, but for a relaxation of the laws against the Catholics, he would, probably with his family, have removed to Louisiana. Had this happened, our country, in the great contest for religious and political liberty, which afterwards followed, would have been deprived of the influence and efforts of one, whom more perhaps than any other person living, it now delights to honor.
While Mr. Grahame thus gives to Maryland the praise of being the first of the American colonies, in which toleration was established by law, he declares that Rhode Island was at that time, “the only one of the protestant settlements, in which the principle of toleration was recognized, and even there, Roman Catholics were excluded from participating in the political rights that were enjoyed by the rest of the community.” “Although Chalmers and others, from whom no doubt, our author derived his information, have declared, that by a law passed in Rhode Island as early as in 1664, Roman Catholics were thus excluded; yet a gentleman of that state, Mr. Eddy, distinguished for his knowledge of its early history, and his researches into its legislative proceedings, has lately called in question the correctness of this statement, and has declared that no such law, at that period, is to be found on record. Yet Dr. Holmes in his new and valuable edition of "American Annals, as well as his able reviewer, still inclines to this point.
the opinion, that Chalmers and others could not be mistaken on
In some parts of the work before us, the author has not sufficiently attended to dates. In some instances he has brought together facts belonging to different periods, and to different persons, and in others has not consulted, or has not sufficiently compared, the best authorities. This, we apprehend, is the case, in his account of the first attempts to settle Massachusetts. After referring to an adventure of this kind by Weston and his associates, in 1622, he says;
In the following year an attempt of great importance was made, under the patronage of the grand council of Plymouth, which bestowed on Captain Gorges, the leader of the expedition, the title of governor genere al of the whole country, with an ample endowment of arbitrary power, and on a clergyman whom he had brought with him, the office of bishop and superintendent of the churches. But New-England" he adds,” was not in such a condition, that an establishment of this description, could take root in it; and the governor and his bishop deserted their charge, and made haste to return to a climate more congenial to the growth of temporal dominion and ecclesiastical dignity.
Mr Grahame has here evidently confounded a trivial project of settlement under Capt. Robert Gorges in 1623, with an extensive design, adopted about twelve years afterwards, by Archbishop Laud and others, (while intrusted by Charles I. with the government of the colonies,) of abrogating the charter of Massachusetts, of sending over a governor general with arbitrary powers, and of making a splendid church establishment in America, but which was never carried into execution.
Mr. Hutchinson gives a very different account of the expedition of Capt. Gorges.
Capt. Robert Gorges," says Hutchinson,“ obtained a patent from the council of Plymouth, dated December 13th, 1622, ten miles in breadth, and thirty miles into the land on the northeast side of Massachusetts Bay.
“ This was loose and uncertain and no use was made of it. He was son to Sir Ferdinando, and employed by the council in 1623, as lieutenant general to restrain interlopers and regulate all affairs. He made some attempts to revive Weston's plantation, but returned home the same year, without success."
The extraordinary delusion which, for a time prevailed in NewEngland, respecting witchcraft, could not escape the notice of Mr. Grahame. “The first trials for witchcraft in New-England," he says, “occurred in the year 1645, when four persons charged with this crime were put to death in Massachusetts. Goffe, the regicide, in his diary, records the conviction of three others at Hartford, in Connecticut, in 1662; and remarks that, after one of them was hanged, the young woman who had been bewitched, was restored to health."
The diary of Goffe is referred to in a note by Hutchinson, and from him was, no doubt, taken by Mr. Grahame. The latter, however, must have overlooked what Dr. Trumbull has stated on this subject, in the preface to his history of Connecticut; or he would have expressed some doubt, whether credit should be given to the diary of Goffe. “ It may possibly," says Dr. Trumbull, “be thought a great neglect or matter of partiality, that no account is given of witchcraft in Connecticut. The only reason is, that after the most careful researches, no indictment of any person for that crime, nor any process relative to that affair, can be found. The minute in Goffe’s journal, published by Governor Hutchinson, relative to the execution of Ann Coles, and an obscure tradition, that one or two persons were executed at Stratford, is all the information to be found relative to that unhappy affair !"
Our author, we presume, has never visited America, and has not therefore, had the best opportunity of becoming acquainted with the new light, which more elaborate researches have lately thrown upon some portion of our early colonial history. He is excusable, therefore, in placing reliance on the early American historians. In his account of Virginia, relying on the authority of Beverly and others, he has continued some of their errors respectting the political state of that colony, during the protectorate of Cromwell. Like them, he has told us, that, during the reign of the Protector, the navigation acts were rigorously enforced there, and that all the governors of that colony were appointed by him. Late researches, however, into the records of that state, and the late collection and publication of all its laws, from the earliest settlement, comprised in thirteen volumes, incontestably prove the incorrectness of these statements.
The industrious collector and publisher of those laws, Mr. Herring, referring to the situation of Virginia, during the period alluded to, says,
The commerce of Virginia was even more free than that of the mother country. None of the restrictions of the act of navigation were felt. The vessels of all nations were admitted into their ports; and a duty of ten shillings a hogshead imposed on all tobacco exported and shipped to any part of America, or elsewhere, except in English vessels directly bound to England ; from the payment of which duty, vessels belonging to the Virginians were afterwards exempted. Finally the assembly passed “an act asserting the right of the colony to a free trade with all nations in amity with the people of England, and compelled all masters of vessels to give bond, in the penalty of £2000 sterling, not to molest any person trading here under the protection of the law.” Mr. Herring adds, “That so far were the assembly from erecting the royal standard and proclaiming Charles Il. at the time when they elected Sir William Berkely governor, that by the very first act of the same session, they expressly took the power of government into their own hands and directed that all writs should issue in the name of the grand assembly."