who pleaded the laws of England
against the charter
and the administration in Massachusetts
had been comitted by Winthrop
for contempt of the established authority.
It was now proposed to procure their release by his impeachment.
Hitherto the enemies of the state had united with the popular party and both had assailed the charter as the basis of magisterial power—at the former with the view of invoking the interposition of England
, the latter in the hope of But the citizens could not be induced, even in the excitement of political divisions, to wrong the purest of their leaders, and the factious elements were rendered harmless by decomposition.
appeared at the bar only to triumph in his integrity.
‘Civil liberty’, said the noble-minded man in “a little speech” on the occasion, “is the proper end and object of authority, and cannot subsist without it. It is a liberty to that only which is good, just, and honest.
This liberty you are to stand for with the hazard not only of your goods, but, if need be, of your lives.
Whatsoever crosseth this is not authority, but a distemper thereof.”
It now became possible to adjust the long-continued difference by a compromise.
The power of the magistrates over the militia was diminished by law;1
but though the magistrates themselves were by some declared to be but public servants, holding ‘a ministerial office,’ and though it became a favorite idea that all authority resides essentially with the people in their body representative, yet the Higham disturbers were punished by heavy fines, while Winthrop
and his friends retained (what they deserved) the affectionate