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BOOK REVIEWS Edited by Edwin Bronner The Papers of William Penn: Volume Two, 1680-1684. Edited by Richard S. Dunn and Mary Maples Dunn. Philadelphia: University ofPennsylvania Press, 1982. Pp. xix, 710. The collected papers of the nation's founding fathers are piling up—an irregular mountain range of documents out of which will be quarried many ofthe next generation's monographs. Not all that has been printed will be read with interest even by the most assiduous graduate students whose research ambitions have been somewhat dampened since, especially now, the university presses have come upon hard times and some projects for the publication of papers are proceeding on a geological time scale. The editorial team of The Papers of William Penn are proceeding along different lines. Their coverage ofrelevant documents has been compendious rather than exhaustive and they seem to be meeting, or perhaps even exceeding, their editorial timetables. One reason for this, no doubt, is their use of word-processing equipment. This volume seems never to have had a traditional manuscript at all. The transcripts ofthe documents were set and edited on a word-processor and then the corrected disk was transferred to a computer which prepared the type. Those who rejoice in demonstrations that these machines are not infallible can take pleasure in the line repeated on the top of page 63, but aside from this lapse the volume is virtually free of errors, as well as being cheaper and quicker to produce than one typed and set in the old way. Penn the practical man and political thinker, rather than the religious leader, comes into his own during the period covered by this volume. It is not that he lacked a firm conception of the religious mission that Pennsylvania might fulfill, and here and there, especially in his letters to his wife and to Margaret Fell, he sounds notes of real spiritual depth. But inevitably it is the cares ofsetting up the Holy Experiment that preoccupy him here: the details of drafting and redrafting the Frame of Government, all abundantly illustrated; seeing to land titles; coping with his always precarious finances; and the looming shadow of the boundary dispute with Lord Baltimore which was eventually to draw him back to England. These great matters ofstate naturally figure most heavily in the 2 17 48 Book Reviews49 documents printed here, and since more than halfofthese have never been printed before and some of the rest were inadequately edited, there is much to enrich the historical understanding even of the specialist in colonial or Quaker history. Much ink, for example, has been spilled in describing the various influences that went into the making of the Frame of Government, but the editors are able to show, by an analysis ofthe handwriting on the various drafts, that the notion of Penn and Thomas Rudyard as adversaries from the beginning will not hold up. At the same time, when the objections of such European Friends as Jasper Batt and Benjamin Furly are set against the various stages of the draft, it becomes clear that fears that Penn had made himself "more absolute than the Turk" were not just confined to Algeron Sidney and his circle. Penn's everyday concerns are not omitted. In one of the more illuminating comparisons ofdraft with finished document we see him trying to find ways offlattering Charles II in a plain manner. Receipts for goods purchased and shipped show the sort of household he maintained and the variety of projects he entertained for his province . Some ofthese hopes, ofcourse, are poignantly unrealistic, like those for the vineyards around Philadelphia which, sanguine as ever, he predicted would eventually rival those ofFrance. The editing has all the assiduity one has come to expect from such projects, but with a tact towards the reader which is not always found. When the team, which includes Scott Wilds, Richard Ryerson , Jean Soderlund, and Ned Landsman as well as the Dunns, says that they have searched and have not found, such as with the perplexing question of the debt supposedly owed by Charles II to Admiral Penn, we shall probably have to conclude that better evidence is most unlikely to turn up...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1934-1504
Print ISSN
0033-5053
Pages
pp. 48-50
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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