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Chapter 12:

Massachusetts and Charles II.

MASSACHUSETTS never enjoyed the favor of the re-
Chap. XII.} 1660.
stored government. The virtual independence which had been exercised for the last twenty years, was too dear to be hastily relinquished. The news of the restoration, brought by the ships in which Goffe and Whalley were passengers, was received with skeptical
July 27.
anxiety; and no notice was taken of the event. At the session of the general court in October, a motion for an address to the king did not succeed; affairs in England were still regarded as unsettled. At last it
Nov. 10.
became certain that the hereditary family of kings had recovered its authority, and that swarms of enemies to the colony had gathered round the new government; a general court was convened, and
Dec. 19.
addresses were prepared for the parliament and the monarch. By advice of the great majority of elders, no judgment was expressed on the execution of Charles I., and ‘the grievous confusions’ of the past. The colonists appealed to the [72] king of England,1 as ‘a king who had seen adversity,
Chap. XII.} 1660.
and who, having himself been an exile, knew the 1660 hearts of exiles.’ They prayed for ‘the continuance of civil and religious liberties,’ and requested against complaints an opportunity of defence. ‘Let not the king hear men's words,’—such was their petition;— ‘your servants are true men, fearing God and the king. We could not live without the public worship of God; that we might, therefore, enjoy divine worship without human mixtures, we, not without tears, departed from our country, kindred, and fathers' houses. Our garments are become old by reason of the very long journey; ourselves, who came away in our strength, are, many of us, become gray-headed, and some of us stooping for age.’ In return for the protection of their liberties, they promise the blessing of a people whose trust is in God.

At the same time, Leverett, the agent of the colony,

Dec. 19.
was instructed to make interest in its behalf with members of parliament and the privy council; to intercede for its chartered liberties; to resist appeals to England, alike in cases civil or criminal. Some hope was entertained that the new government might be propitious to New England commerce, and renew the favors which the Long Parliament had conceded. But the navigation act had just been passed; and Massachusetts never gained an exemption from its severity till she ceased to demand it as a favor.

Meantime a treatise, which Eliot, the benevolent apostle of the Indians,—the same who had claimed for the people a voice even in making treaties,—had published in defence of the unmixed principles of popular [73] freedom, was condemned, as too full of the seditious

Chap. XII.} 1661 Mar. 18.
doctrines of democratic liberty; the single-minded author did not hesitate to suppress his book on ‘the Christian Commonwealth,’ and in guarded language to acknowledge the form of government by king, lords, and commons, as not only lawful, but eminent.2

A general expression of good will from the king,

Feb. 15.
could not quiet the apprehensions of the colonists. The committee for the plantations had already sur-
mised that Massachusetts would, if it dared, cast off its allegiance, and resort to an alliance with Spain, or to any desperate remedy, rather than admit of appeals to England. Upon this subject a controversy immediately arose; and the royal government resolved to establish the principle which the Long Parliament had waived.

It was therefore not without reason, that the colony foreboded collision with the crown; and after a full report from a numerous committee, of which Bradstreet, Hawthorne, Mather, and Norton, were members,

the general court published a declaration of natural and chartered rights.

Their liberties under God and their patent they June declare to be, ‘to choose their own governor, deputy-

June 10
governor, and representatives; to admit freemen on terms to be prescribed at their own pleasure; to set up all sorts of officers, superior and inferior, and point out their power and places; to exercise, by their annually-elected magistrates and deputies, all power and authority, legislative, executive, and judicial; to defend themselves by force of arms against every aggression; and to reject, as an infringement of their right, any [74] parliamentary or royal imposition, prejudicial to the
Chap. XII.} 1661.
country, and contrary to any just act of colonial legislation.’ The duties of allegiance were narrowed to a few points, which conceded neither profit nor substantial power.

When the Puritan commonwealth had thus joined issue with its sovereign, by denying the right of appeal from its courts, and with the English parliament, by declaring the navigation act an infringement of its chartered rights, on the seventh of August, more than

Aug. 7.
a year after the restoration, Charles II. was proclaimed at Boston, amidst the cold observation of a few formalities. Yet the ‘gratulatory and lowly script,’ sent him on the same day, interpreted his letter as an answer of peace from ‘the best of kings.’ ‘Royal Sir,’ it continued, excusing the tardiness of the colony with unseemly adulation, ‘your just title to the crown, enthronizeth you in our consciences; your graciousness in our affections; that inspireth unto dutie, this naturalizeth unto loyaltie; thence wee call you lord, hence a saviour. Mephibosheth, how prejudicially soever misrepresented, yet rejoiceth that the king is come in peace to his owne house. Nowe the Lord hath dealt well with our lord the king, may New England, under your royal protection, bee permitted still to sing the Lord's song in this strange land.’

The young republic had continued the exercise of its government as of right; complaints against her had multiplied; and her own interests, seconding the express orders of the monarch, induced her to send envoys to London. The country was divided in opinion; the large majority insisted on sustaining its established system in undiminished force; others were willing to make such concessions as would satisfy

Dec. 31.
the ministry of Clarendon. The first party prevailed, and on the last day of December, John Norton, an [75] accomplished scholar and rigid Puritan, yet a friend
Chap. XII.} 1662. Jan. 24.
to moderate counsels, was joined with the excellent Simon Bradstreet in the commission to England. In January, 1662, they were instructed to persuade the king of the loyalty of the colony of Massachusetts, yet to ‘engage to nothing prejudicial to their present standing according to their patent, and to endeavor the establishment of the rights and privileges then enjoyed.’ Letters were at the same time transmitted to those of the English statesmen on whose friendship it was safe to rely.

King Charles received the messengers with courtesy; and they returned in the fall with the royal answer, which probably originated with Clarendon. The charter was confirmed, and an amnesty of all offences during the late troubles was conditionally promised. But the king directed a repeal of all laws derogatory to his authority; the taking of the oath of allegiance; the administration of justice in his name; a concession of the elective franchise to all freeholders of competent estates; and as ‘the principle of the charter was the freedom of the liberty of conscience,’ the allowance of that freedom to those who desired to use ‘the booke of common prayer, and perform their devotion in the manner established in England.’

These injunctions were not wholly unreasonable in themselves; but the people of Massachusetts regarded, not so much the nature of the requisitions, as of the power by which they were made. Acquiescence would seem to recognise in the monarch the right of reversing the judgments of their courts; of dictating laws for their enactment; and of changing by his own authority the character of their domestic constitution. The question of obedience was a question of liberty, and gave birth to the parties of prerogative and of [76] freedom. Such is the origin of the parties which con-

Chap. XII.}
tinued to divide Massachusetts till the establishment of actual independence.

The character of the times connected religious in tolerance with the contest. Episcopacy and monarchy were feared as natural allies: Anabaptists, also, were royalists; they had appeared before the ministry in England as plaintiffs against Massachusetts, and could boast of the special favor of Charles II. The principles of an enlightened toleration had been so rapidly gaining ground, that they had repeatedly possessed a majority in one branch of the legislature; but, now that Massachusetts was compelled to resume its opposition to monarchy, a censorship over the press was established; and the distrust of all dissension from the established forms of dissent, awakened once more the energies of religious bigotry. The representatives of Massachusetts, instead of complying with the wishes of the king, resolved only on measures conducive ‘to the glory of God, and to the felicity of his people;’ that is, to a continuance of their religious institutions, and their democratic independence.

Meantime the people of Massachusetts were not

ignorant how great dangers they incurred by refusing to comply with the demand of their sovereign.3 False rumors were mingled with true reports, and assisted to incense the court at St. James. Whalley and Goffe, it was currently asserted, were at the head of an army;4 the union of the four New England colonies was believed to have had its origin in the express ‘purpose of throwing off dependence on England.’5 Sir Thomas Temple, Cromwell's Governor of Acadia, had [77] resided for years in New England, and now appeared
Chap XII.} 1663
as their advocate. ‘I assure you’—such was Claredon's message to Massachusetts—‘of my true love and friendship to your country; neither in your privileges, charter, government, nor church discipline, shall you receive any prejudice.’6 Yet the news was soon spread abroad, that commissioners would be appointed to regulate the affairs of New England; and at length there was room to believe that they had already
embarked, and that ships of war would soon anchor in the harbor of Boston.7

Precautionary measures were promptly adopted. The patent was delivered to a committee of four, by whom it was to be kept safely and secretly for the country. To guard against danger from an armed force, officers and soldiers were forbidden to land from ships, except in small parties; and strict obedience to the laws of Massachusetts was required from them. In conformity to former usage, a day of fasting and prayer was appointed. The usage has been ridiculed. That age was an age of religious faith; every man was required to attend public worship. Not an individual, but the sick, was ordinarily absent; for, in those days, the mother took with her the nursling whom she could not leave. To appoint a day of fasting on a special occasion, was to call together, in their respective assemblies, every individual of the colony, and to engage the attention of the whole people to a single subject, under the sanction of the invisible presence of God. No mode of diffusing intelligence could equal [78] this, which reached every man's ear. The whole

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