Page images

When King Charles II. had come to the throne, the absolute rulership of this Puritan hypocrisy and chicanery was brought to an end. Bradstreet and Norton, June 28, 1662, received a letter from the king. It declared, that, “Since the principal end of that charter was, and is, the freedom of liberty of conscience, we do hereby charge and require you that freedom and liberty be duly admitted and allowed.” The General Court demurred, pursed up its lips and attempted to play hide and seek with the meaning of words, to hood-wink, in fact, to come a “Yankee trick” over the commissioners sent from England. But Commissioner Randolph, an old cavalier and royalist, did not fail to see through this chicanery. He wrote back to the king, that by the means employed by the leaders of the puritan democracy, the best people had been driven out of the colony or into retirement, that menials and servants with pretentious mannerisms were in the high places. So the king thought he would abridge it all, because his own church, his own laws could not exist in his own colony on account of these people.

The English king is head of the Anglican Church, and his own church could not exist in the colony under a government elected by the Puritans, although they had promised to respect the king's authority, the Church of England and the laws of the realm. In order that the king's chapel could be built, then, it was necessary to give Massachussetts a royal charter, in which the power of appointing the chief officers should reside in the crown. On Feb. 22, this charter was made. May 15, 1686, there entered Boston harbor the “Rose,” frigate, bearing a commission from the king to Joseph Dudley to act in the Royal name as president of Massachussetts, Maine, Nova Scotia and the lands between. And with her came Rev. Robert Radcliffe, first minister of the king's chapel.

In October, 1688, the foundation of king's chapel was laid on Tremont Street, in Boston, on the corner of what is now School Street. About that church gathered those far-seeing and high-minded royalists in the colony who beheld in the king's authority the only barrier against the narrow Puritan democracy, that, when in

power with brute force, and, when not in power, with cunning and chicanery, sought to accomplish its purpose and impose its tyranny. As Voltaire says, it is “better to be under the paw of the lion than be knawed by a million rats.”

The building of His Majesty's chapel brought the royal charter to supercede the original permit of government, which had left the power in the hands of the majority to persecute those who did not believe as they. Even the land on which the chapel stands the king's governor was obliged to appropriate as the local authorities refused to sell, and the records show that he paid the original owners four-fold the value of the land.

But the time of the Puritan triumph was coming, again, and in it they were to show "what manner of men they were.” When the House of Stuart that had created the church and charter ceased to reign in England in the person of King James II., who was succeeded by William of Orange, whom the treachery and Revolution of 1688 put on the throne, the Puritan mob in Boston, according to a pamphlet printed in London in 1690, entitled “New England's Faction Discovered," proceeded to their work. They seized the governor and principal members of the king's chapel and put them in prison. “The church, itself, had great difficulty to withstand their fury, receiving the marks of their indignation and scorn by having the windows broken and the doors and walls daubed and defiled with dung and other filth in the rudest and basest manner imaginable, and the minister for his safety was forced to leave the country and go to England.” But the Revolution in England, of 1688, did not go so far as the Puritan democracy of Massachusetts had hoped. Sullenly but cringingly they retraced their steps when King William of Orange showed that liberality which intelligent men hope ever to find in a king. He continued the royal favor to King's chapel and presented the service with new silver. “It was the only building in New England where the forms of the court church might be witnessed. The prayers and anthems which sounded forth in the cathedrals of the mother-country were here no longer dumb. The equipages and uniforms which made gay the little court of Boston brightened its portals.

Within, the escutcheons of the royal governors hung against the pillars.” At Christmas time it was the only church that was wreathed in green, or celebrated the nativity of Christ with gladness and song of rejoicing, for Christmas had been forbidden to be celebrated among the Puritans, because they said it was popish and idolatrous.” (Hist. of King's Chapel, Vol. I.) The sound of the first organ in New England was in King's chapel and heralded the introduction of an art, the most gracious and lovable of all arts—an art which had been forbidden to enter the Puritan democracy. Here on the walls of the chapel were emblazoned in all the pomp of heraldry the Royal Arms, the arms of the royal governors, Dudley, Shute, Burnet, Belcher, Shirley, Andros, and those of Col. Nicholson and Capt. Hamilton. And what rays of chivalry had penetrated the thick and somber atmosphere of Puritan bigotry and intolerance were focused into a brighter light in the immediate circle of those royalists who gathered within its walls. Sir William Shirley had done the most to prop the royal cause in the colony, and, as a means to that end, had favored the King's chapel with all his influence. In 1741, just before he was appointed governor, Lieut.-Gov. Dunbar wrote, from New Hampshire to the Board of Trade: “New England might be made a very useful colony . . . were the Church of England encouraged, it would bring them (the people) to better principles than they are now of, being generally republicans.” Another cause of trouble to the Puritan republicans was the culture of art and music, which the liberties of the new charter allowed to be encouraged with the building of King's chapel. One very beautiful picture was Benjamin West’s “Last Supper,” which was one of the adornments of the chapel's interior. At the time of the American Revolution, when the hand of lawless violence was unrestrained against everything that had provoked republican bigotry and hate, Mr. Davis, who had the guardianship of the picture, committed it to the protection of the republican leader, John Hancock, which protectorate seems to have terminated in proprietorship, without compensation to the original owners. Now it must not be thought that all the royalists in New England were Church of England men, or, that all in Boston were members of King's chapel. Many of the Presbyterians who came to New Hampshire, New York and Virginia, especially those from Ireland, among whose members were descendants of the Huguenots, who had followed the banner of the Marquis de Rouvigni into England and Ireland in 1688-90, were distinctly royalist, although not ardent for the domination of England. Guizot notices the royalism of the Presbyterians in his “Vie de Charles I.” In Britain, after the Church of England and the monarchy had been overthrown by Cromwell and the Puritans, it was the Presbyterians who pronounced against republicanism and took up arms for the king, and finally, with Gen. Monck at their head, proclaimed Charles II. as king and entered London with their armed hosts to restore the monarchy. But among the royalists of King's chapel alone at this time, immediately preceding the republican revolution of 1776, were Peter Faneuil, who gave Faneuil Hall to the city, Dr. Gardiner, who supplied the colonial troops with medicines free of charge, and Isaac Royall who founded the first law professorship at Harvard University. Whatever was great and excellent and unselfish belonged to them. They were, in truth, as Leckey, the historian, says, “The gentry of the colonies.” The entire membership of King's chapel were royalist to the core, loyal to the head of this colony, which head was the king, the emperor of all the provinces. A month after the royal authority had left Boston, in 1776, with the British troops and the members of King's chapel, the chapel was reopened by the enemy, by the Puritan congregational republicans, whose sires had opposed the erection of the church, and had “besmeared its walls with dung” during the disturbance of 1688. They came from the Old South meeting-house, and occupied the king's property without warrant; for the king's property passed to the commonwealth by act of the Treaty of 1783, as the property of absentee royalists had passed before by the confiscation acts of 1778-9. In consequence of persecutions like the above, the democracy of Massachusetts Bay was deprived of its usurpation by order of King Charles II. The colony of Plymouth was united to that of Mas

sachusetts Bay, under a Royal Charter from King Charles II., Feb. 22, 1669, with the following provisions :

I. “That all householders, inhabiting in the colony, take the oath of allegiance, etc.”

II. “That all men of competent estate; that is men who own property enough to enable them to have a right to vote, and civil conversation, though of different judgments, may be admitted to be freemen, and have liberty to choose and be chosen as officers both civil and military."

III. “That all men and women of orthodox opinion, competent knowledge and civil lives (not scandalous) be admitted to the sacrament of the Lord's supper, and their children to baptism, if they desire it.”

IV. “That all laws and expressions of law derogatory to His Majesty, if any such have been made in these troublous times, he repealed, altered, and taken off from the file.”

The Plymouth colony had fulfilled all these provisions. The Massachusetts colony had violated every one. Yet the governor and chief men of the colony testified that all had been carried out. In the first instance the oath of allegiance was not administered in Massachusetts at this time or before. In the second instance only those were allowed to vote who belonged to the Congregational church of the colony, and all others were persecuted. In the third instance no one but of the Congregational church was permitted to receive the sacraments or baptism. Laws were made forbidding any other form of worship. It was made an act of treason to appeal from the laws of the colony to the crown that had given the colony its charter. This was also a violation of the fourth requirement, because such laws were contrary to the charter from the crown on which the government of the colony existed.

Thus from the very beginning, the religious democracy of Massachusetts manifested a desire to be as far away from the royal government in everything as possible.

Roger Williams, a clergyman, desirous of religious and political liberty, fled away from the tyranny of the

« PreviousContinue »