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THE REV. ROGER WILLIAMS,
Quod opus sit—benigne prebeatur.
Thine is a fragrance that can never waste,
Of GlLEAD-BALSAH TREES!
It is well known to the friends of Mr. Richards, that he had long intended to write the Life of Roger Williams, a native of the Principality of Wales, and founder of the State of Rhode Island. Hence application was made to certain American divines for the materials of his biography. Dr. William Rogers, a very respectable Baptist minister at Philadelphia, (mentioned in the preceding memoir), in a letter addressed to Mr. Richards, just previous to his decease, dated July 1, 1818, says— "It is somewhat singular, that you should have
been thinking of a Memoir of Roger Williams. Last spring 1 took it into my head that something ought to be done, and should I be successful in procuring materials, for which I have written to Providence, you shall have the benefit. Roger Williams—William Rogers. The same alphabetical letters!" Nothing has yet arrived from this quarter. But Mr. Richards had applied several years ago, to the Rev. Isaac Backus, a Baptist minister, in the state of Massachusetts, who died lately at a very advanced age. He was a man of plain good sense and piety, the author of several works, especially The History of New England, with particular reference to the denomination of Christians, called Baptists, in three octavo volumes. In his hand-writing has been found A Communication of some length, dated 1799, addressed to Mr. Richards. It is too good to be lost, and shall be inserted. I will then add what I have gleaned from other publications respecting Roger Williams, of philanthropic memory. Deeply it is regretted that Mr. Richards has not left a single line on the subject. Mine is a mere outline. His able pen would have traced him from his early dawnings in the Principality, through his aggravated persecutions, by the New England magistrates, for asserting universal liberty of conscience, to the decline of his long and honourable career of mortality. His sun at length burst through every intervening cloud, and sunk beneath the horizon with an undiminished glory.
TO MR. WILLIAM RICHARDS.
Middleborough, April 9, 1799. VERY DEAR SIR,
Your's of March 19, 1798, I never received till yesterday, under cover from Dr. Rogers, of Philadelphia. I wrote a letter for you the Fall before last, and carried it to Boston, but hearing that you were gone to Wales, and not knowing how to send it, 1 brought it home, and now send it with this account.
As you still desire my help about writing the life of Roger Williams, I shall do what I can in the case.
The tradition at Providence is, that Mr. Roger Williams was born in Wales, but brought up in England, under the patronage of Sir Edward Coke, the famous lawyer, which might help him to many ideas about government and liberty, of which he made so good a use. It is said that, when he was a boy, Sir Edward observed him in the Meeting taking notes of the sermon, which he afterwards desired to see, and, on perusing them, was so well pleased therewith, that he took young Williams to himself, and did much towards his education.
Our late friend, Joshua Thomas, of Leominster, wrote to me, that Anthony Wood mentions him as one who was educated in Oxford university. Governor Winthrop says, "Feb. 5, 1631, the ship Lyon, Mr. William Pierce, master, arrived at Nantasket. She brought Mr. Williams, a godly man, with his wife." (Winthrop's Journal, p. 23.) Mr. Hubbard copied from Winthrop, as many others have done from both of them. See my first volume, p. 53. By p. 421, his age appears. WilLiams went to Salem in the spring of 1-631, where the court wrote against him, and he went to Plymouth, where he preached till August, 1633, when he removed again to Salem, and the sentence of banishment was passed against him in October, 1635, and executed in January, 1636.—P. 70.
In those times the Narragansets and Pequots, the two most powerful tribes of Indians in New England, were often at war with each other. In April, 1632, the Narragansets had a number of Indians from near Boston, to assist them against the Pequots; and in August following, Niantonomo, with his wife, and about twelve men, came to Boston to cultivate friendship with the English. In 1633, some Indians came down from Connecticut to Plymouth and Boston, to get the English to go and trade or settle there; because Sassums and other Pequots, who resided where Stanington and Grotan now are, had violently invaded their rights. Accordingly several went to trade there, that fall and the next year. But for this the Pequots murdered Captain Stone and his crew, and burnt his vessel, in 1634, in Connecticut river.
In 1635, a church and minister went up and settled at Windsor, and another company built a fort at Say-brook, at the mouth of the river; and in June, 1636, Mr. Thomas Hooker, and Mr.