He assured Sidney that the most formidable enemies of the government were the discontented Whigs. "The Jacobites are not dangerous. There is not a man among them who has common understanding. Some persons who came over from Holland with the King are much more to be dreaded." It does not appear that Penn mentioned any names. He was suffered to depart in safety. No active search was made for him. He lay hid in London during some months, and then stole down to the coast of Sussex and made his escape to France. After about three years of wandering and lurking he, by the mediation of some eminent men, who overlooked his faults for the sake of his good qualities, made his peace with the government, and again ventured to resume his ministrations. The return which he made for the lenity with which he had been treated does not much raise his character. Scarcely had he again begun to harangue in public about the unlawfulness of war, when he sent a message earnestly exhorting James to make an immediate descent on England with thirty thousand men.
Some months passed before the fate of Preston was decided. After several respites, the government, convinced that, though he had told much, he could tell more, fixed a day for his execution, and ordered the sheriffs to have the machinery of death in readiness. But he was again respited, and, after a delay of some weeks, obtained a pardon, which, however, extended only to his life, and left his property subject to all the consequences of his attainder. As soon as he was set at liberty he gave new
- Sidney to William, Feb. 27, 1690/1. The letter is in Dalrymple's Appendix, Part II. book vi. Narcissus Luttrell in his Diary for September 1691, mentions Penn's escape from Shoreham to France. On the 5th of December 1693 Narcissus made the following entry: "William Penn the Quaker, having for some time absconded, and having compromised the matters against him, appears now in public, and, on Friday last, held forth at the Bull and Month, in Saint Martin's." On December 18/28, 1693 was drawn up at Saint Germains, under Melfort's direction, a paper containing a passage of which the following is a translation:
"Mr. Penn says that Your Majesty has had several occasions, but never any so favourable, as the present; and he hopes that Your Majesty will be earnest with the most Christian King not to neglect it: that a descent with thirty thousand men will not only reestablish Your Majesty, but according to all appearance break the league." This paper is among the Nairne MSS., and was translated by Macpherson.
- Narcissus Luttrell's Diary, April 11, 1691.