Page images
PDF
EPUB

Smith, if he did not happen to be a worker in , hats on." Is it possible however to believe, metal.

that any rational being can imagine that there The most amusing part of the matter, how- is any sin in lifting off one's hat, or bending ever, is, that in their abhorrence of this ety- the body? It is an easy and sufficiently conmological falsehood, they have themselves venient way of showing our respect or atten. adopted a practice, which is liable, on the tion. A good-natured man could do a great same principles, to more serious objections. deal more to gratify a mere stranger; and if Though they will not call any body Sir, or there be one individual who would take the Master, they call every body “Friend;" al- omission amiss, that alone would be a suffithough it is evident that, to a stranger, this cient reason for persisting in the practice. must be mere civility, like the words they re- Mr. Clarkson next discusses the private ject, and to an enemy must approach nearly manners of this rigid sect, and admits that to insincerity. They have rejected an estab- they are rather dull, cold, and taciturn. Their lished phraseology, therefore, to adopt one principles prohibit them from the use of idle much more proper to fill them with scruples. words; under which they include every sort We have dwest too long, however, on this of conversation introduced merely for gaiety paltry casuistry; and must leave our readers or amusement. Their neglect of classica) to apply these observations to our common literature cuts off another great topic. Poliepistolary salutations, which are exactly in tics are proscribed, as leading to undue the same predicament.

warmth; and all sorts of scandal and gossip, For similar, or rather for more preposterous and allusion to public spectacles or amusereasons, the Quakers have changed the names ments, for a more fundamental reason. Thus, of the months and of the days of the week. they have little to talk about but their health, Some of them are named, it seems, after the their business, or their religion ; and all these Heathen gods; and therefore the use of them things they think it a duty to discuss in a " seemed to be expressive of a kind of idola concise and sober manner. They say no tious homage.” If such a new calendar had graces; but when their meal is on the table, been devised by the original Christians, when they sit silent, and in a thoughtful posture for March and June were not only named after a short time, waiting for an illapse of the Mars and Juno, but distinguished by particu- spirit. If they are not moved to make any lar festivals in their honour, we could have ejaculation, they begin to eat without more comprehended the motive of the innovation; ado. They drink no healths, nor toasts; but, now-a-days, when Mars and Juno are no though not so much from the inconvenience more thought of than Hector or Hecuba, and of the thing, as because they conceive this to when men would as soon think of worshipping have been a bacchanalian practice borrowed an ape or a crocodile as either of them, it from the Heathens of antiquity. They are does appear to us the very acmé of absurdity very sober; and instead of sitting over their to suppose that there can be any idolatry in wine after dinner, frequently propose to their naming their names. In point of fact, what- guests a walk before tea; the females do not ever the matter may be etymologically or leave the party during this interval. Their historically, we conceive that Wednesday and marriages are attended with no other cereThursday are words in modern English that mony, than that of taking each other by the have no sort of reference to the gods Woden hand in a public meeting, and declaring their and Thor: Since they certainly raise no ideas willingness to be united. Notice, however, connected with those personages, and are must be given of this intention at a previous never used with the intention of raising any meeting, when the consent of their parents is such ideas. As they are used at present, required, and a deputation appointed to intherefore, they do not signify days dedicated quire whether they are free from all previous to these divinities; but merely the days that engagements. Quakers marrying out of the come between Tuesday and Friday in our society are disowned, though they may be calendar. Those who think otherwise must again received into membership, on expressmaintain also, that the English word expedient ing their repentance for their marriage; a deactually signifies untying of feet, and the word claration which cannot be very flattering to consideration a taking of stars together. the infidel spouse. There are many more

Another of their peculiar customs is, that women than men disowned for this transgresthey will not pull off their hats, or make a sion. The funerals of the Quakers are as bow to any body. This is one of their most free from solemnity as their marriages. They ancient and respected canons. “George Fox," wear no mourning, and do not even cover Mr. Clarkson assures us, “was greatly grieved their coffins with black;—they use no prayers about these idle ceremonies. He lamented on such occasions;—the body is generally that men should degrade themselves by the carried to the meeting-house, before it is comuse of them, and that they should encourage mitted to the earth, and a short pause is made, habits that were abhorrent of the truth.” during which any one who feels himself Honest George! He was accordingly repeat- moved to speak, may address the congrega. edly beaten and abused for his refractoriness tion ;-it is set down for a little time, also, at in this particular; and a long story is told in the edge of the grave, for the same opportu. this volume, of a controversy he had with nity —it is then interred, and the friends and Judge Glynn, whom he posed with a citation relations walk away. They use no vaults, and from Daniel, purporting, that the three children erect no monuments, - though they some. were cast into the fiery furnace with their times collect and preserve some account of ihe lives and sayings of their more eminent discuss this point with Mr. Clarkson ; indeed, and pious brethren.

from the obstruction which this scruple has só On the subject of trade there is a good deal often occasioned to law proceedings, it has of casuistry among the Quakers. They strictly been discussed much oftener than any of the prohibit the slave-trade, and had the merit of rest. Those who want to see a neat and forcipassing a severe cens:re upon it so long ago ble abstract of the Quaker reasoning on the as 1727. They also prohibit privateering, subject, had better look into Barclay at once, smuggling, and all traffic in weapons of war. instead of wading through the amplification Most other trades they allow; but under cer- of Mr. Clarkson. tain limitations. A Quaker may be a book- Their third great tenet is, That it is unlawseller, but he must not sell any immoral ful to engage in the profession of arms. This book. He may be a dealer in spirits; but he is founded entirely upon a literal interpretation must not sell to those whom he knows to be of certain texts of scripture, requiring men to drunkards. He may even be a silversmith; love and bless their enemies, and to turn one but he must not deal in splendid ornaments cheek to him who had smitten the other, &c. for the person. In no case may he recom- It is commonly supposed, we believe, that mend his goods as fashionable. It is much and these expressions were only meant to shadow learnedly disputed in this volume, whether out, by a kind of figure, that amicable and he may make or sell ribands and other fine- gentle disposition by which men should be ries of this sort; or whether, as a tailor or actuated in their ordinary intercourse with hatter, he may furnish any other articles than each other, and by no means as a literal and such as the society patronises. Mention is peremptory directory for their conduct through also made of a Quaker tailor well known to life. In any other serise, indeed, they would King James II., who was so scrupulous in evidently amount to an encouragement to all this respect, that "he would not allow his sorts of violence and injustice; and would enservants to put any corruptive finery upon tirely disable and annihilate all civil governthe clothes which he had been employed to ment, or authority among men. If evil is not furnish ;' and of one John Woolman, who to bé resisted, and if the man who takes a "found himself sensibly weakened as a Chris- cloak is to be pressed to a coat also, it is plain tian, whenever he traded in things that served that the punishment of thieves and robbers chiefly to please the vain mind, or people.” must be just as unlawful as the resisting of Apart from these fopperies, however, the invaders. It is remarkable, indeed, that the Quaker regulations for trade are excellent. Quakers do not carry their literal submission They discourage all hazardous speculations, to the scripture quite this length. They would and all fictitious paper credit. If a member struggle manfully for their cloaks; and, inbecomes bankrupt, a committee is appointed stead of giving the robber their coats also, to inspect his affairs. If his insolvency is re- would be very glad to have him imprisoned ported to have been produced by misconduct, and flogged. If they can get rid of the letter he is disowned, and cannot be received back of the law, however, in any case, it does aptill he has paid his whole debts, even although pear to us, that there are occasionally stronger he may have been discharged on a composition. reasons for dispensing with the supposed proIf he has failed through misfortune, he conti- hibition of war than with any of the others. nues in the society, but no contributions are If they would be justified in killing a wild received from him till his debts are fully beast that had rushed into their habitation, paid.

they must be justified in killing an invader When Quakers disagree, they seldom scold; who threatens to subject them and the whole and never fight or go to law. George Fox community to his brutal lust, rapacity, and recommended them to settle all their differ- cruelty. We must call it a degrading superences by arbitration; and they have adhered stition that would withhold the hands of a to this practice ever since. Where the arbi- man in such an emergency. The last great trators are puzzled about the law, they may tenet is, That it is unlawful to give pecuniary agree on a case, and consult counsel. When hire to a gospel ministry. This, again, is en. a Quaker disagrees with a person out of the tirely a war of texts; aided by a confused society, he generally proposes arbitration in reference to the history of tithes, from which the first instance; if this be refused, he has no the following most logical deductions are made. scruple of going to law. We should now proceed to give some ac

“ First, that they are not in equity dues of the count of what Mr. Clarkson has called the Church, --secondly, that the payment of them being

compulsory, it would, if acceded to be an acknow. four Great Tenets of the Quakers; but the ledgment ihat the civil magistrale had a right to use length to which we have already extended force in matters of religion-and, thirdly, that, being these remarks must confine our observations claimed upon an act which holds them forth as of to very narrow limits. The first is, That the divine right, any payment of them would be an ac. civil magistrate has no right to interfere in re- Christ had not yet actually come !"--III. 141.

knowledgment of ihe Jewish religion, and that ligious matters, so as either to enforce attendance on one mode of worship, or to interdict After perusing all that we have now abany other which is harmless. In this, cer- stracted, Mr. Clarkson's readers might pertainly, their doctrine is liable to very little haps have been presumed capable of forming objection. Their second great tenet is, That some conclusion for themselves as to the it is unlawful to swear upon any occasion Quaker character; but the author chooses to whatsoever. We have not leisure now to make the inference for them, in a dissertation of one hundred and fifty pages; to which we i pares, in its turn, a more general and compiemust satisfy ourselves, for the present, with hensive report for the great annual meeting making this general reference. We must use in London. This assembly, again, hears ap the same liberty with the "miscellaneous peals from the quarterly meetings, and reparticulars,'' which fill nearly as many pages ceives their reports; and, finally, draws up a with an attempt to prove that the Quakers are public or pastoral letter to the whole society, a very happy people, that they have done in which it communicates the most interesting good by the example of their virtues, and that particulars, as to its general state and condithose who have ihoughts of leaving the so- tion, that have been collected from the reports ciety, had better think twice before they take laid before it,-makes such suitable admonia step of so much consequence.

tions and exhortations for their moral and civil We come now to say a few words on the conduct, as the complexion of the times, or subject of their interior government; which the nature of these reports have suggested, appears to us to be formed very much upon and recommends to their consideration any the model of the Presbyterian churches so project or proposition that may have been laid long established in this part of the kingdom. before it, for the promotion of religion, and The basis of the whole system is, that every the good of mankind. The slave-trade bas, member of the society is not only entitled, but of late years, generally formed one of the bound in duty, to waich over the moral and topics of this general epistle, which is printed religious deportment of any other whom he and circulated throughout the society. In all has an opportunity of observing, and to inter- their meetings, the male and female deputies fere for his admonition and correction when assemble, and transact their business, in sephe sees cause. Till the year 1698, this duty arate apartments; meeting together only for was not peculiarly imposed upon any indivi- worship, or for making up their general reports. dual; but, since that time, four or five persons The wants of the poor are provided for by the are named in each congregation, under the monthly meetings, who appoint certain overtitle of overseers, who are expected to watch seers to visit and relieve them : The greater over the conduct of the flock with peculiar part of these overseers are women; and whatanxiety. The half of these are women, who ever they find wanting in the course of their take charge of their own sex only. Four or visits, money, clothes, or medicines, they orfive congregations are associated together, and der, and their accounts are settled by the hold a general monthly meeting of deputies, treasurer of the monthly meeting. Where it of both sexes, from each congregation. Two happens that there are more poor in any one or more of each sex are deputed from these district than can easily be relieved by the more monthly meetings to the general quarterly opulent brethren within it, the deficiency is meeting; which reunites all ihe congregations supplied by the quarterly meeting to which it of a county, or larger district, according to the is subjected. The children of the poor are all extent of the Quaker population, and those, taught to read and write at the public expense, again, send four of each sex to the great yearly and afterwards bound apprentice to trades;meeting or convocation; which is regularly the females are generally destined for service, assembled in London, and continues its sitting and placed in Quaker families. for ten or twelve days.

" Such," says Mr. Clarkson, with a very natural The method of proceeding, where the con- exultation on the good management of his favour. duct of a member has been disorderly, is, first, ites, “such is the organisation of the discipline or by private admonition, either by individuals, government of the Quakers. Nor may it improp. or by the overseers; where this is not effectual, erly be called a Government, when we consider, the case is reported to the monthly meeting ; iakes cognisance of the actions of Quakers to who appoint a committee to deal with him, Quakers, and of these to their fellow-citizens ; and and, upon their report, either receive him back of these, again, to the state ; in fact, of all actions into communion, or expel him from the so- of Quakers, if immoral in the eye of the society. as ciety by a written document, entitled, A Tes- soon as they are known. It gives out its prohibi timony of Disownment. From this sentence, tions. It marks iis crimes. It imposes offices on however, he may appeal to the quarterly This government, however, notwithstanding its meeting, and from that to the yearly. These power, has, as I observed before, nu president or courts of review investigate the case by means head, either permanent or temporary. There is no of committees; of which none of those who first man through the whole society. Neither has pronounced the sentence complained of can it any badge of office-or mace, or constable's staff, be members.

or sword. It may be observed, also, that it has no In the monthly meetings, all presentations strengthened-neither minister, elder, clerk, over

office of emolument by which is hands can be of marriages are received, and births and fu- seer, or deputy, being paid : and yet its administra. nerals registered ;-contributions and arrange- tion is firmly conducted, and its laws are better ments are made for the relief of the poo. ;- obeyed than laws by persons under any other de. persons are disowned, or received back ;-and nomination or government.” I. 246, 247. cases of scruples are stated and discussed. We have nothing now to discuss witn these They likewise prepare answers to a series of good people, but their religion: and with this standing queries as to the state and condition we will not meddle. It is quite clear to 18, of their several congregations, which they that their founder George Fox was exceedingly transmit to the quarterly meeting. The quar- insane; and though we by no means suspect terly meeting hears appeals,--receives the many of his present followers of the same reports in answer to these queries, -and pre-I malady, we cannot help saying that most of their peculiar doctrines are too high-flown for society; but cold in their affections, and inour huinble apprehension. They hold that God wardly chilled into a sort of Chinese apathy, has at all times communicated a certain por- by the restraints to which they are continually tion of the Spirit, or word, or light, to mankind; subjected; childish and absurd in their relibut has given very different portions of it to gious scruples and peculiar usages, and sindifferent individuals: that, in consequence of gularly unlearned as a sect of theologians; this inward illumination, not only the ancient but exemplary, above all other sects, for the patriarchs and prophets, but many of the old decency of their lives, for their charitable inheathen philosophers, were very good Chris- dulgence to all other persuasions, for their care tians: that no kind of worship or preaching of their poor, and for the liberal participation can be acceptable or profitable, unless it flow they have afforded to their women in all the from the immediate inspiration and movement duties and honours of the society. of this inward spirit; and that all ordination, We would not willingly insinuate any thing or appointment of priests, is therefore impious against the general sincerity of those who reand unavailing. They are much attached to main in communion with this body; but Mr. the Holy Ghost; but are supposed to reject Clarkson has himself noticed, that when they the doctrine of the Trinity; as they certainly become opulent, they are very apt to fall off reject the sacraments of Baptism and the from it; and indeed we do not recollect ever Lord's Supper, with all other rites, ordinances, to have seen either a Quaker gentleman of and ceremonies, known or practised in any fortune, or a Quaker day-labourer. The truth other Christian church. These tenets they is, that ninety-nine out of a hundred of them justify by various citations from the New are engaged in trade; and as they all deal and Testament, and the older fathers; as any one correspond with each other, it is easy to see may see in the works of Barclay and Þenn, what advantages they must have as traders, with rather more satisfaction than in this of from belonging to so great a corporation. A Mr. Clarkson. We enter not at present into few follow the medical profession ; and a still these disputations.

smaller number that of conveyancing; but Upon the whole, we are inclined to believe they rely, in both, almost exclusively on the the Quakers to be a tolerably honest, pains- support of their brethren of the society. It is taking, and inoffensive set of Christians. Very rather remarkable, that Mr. Clarkson has not stupid, dull, and obstinate, we presume, in given us any sort of estimate or calculation of conversation; and tolerably lumpish and fa- their present numbers in England; though, tiguing in domestic society: active and me from the nature of their government, it must thodical in their business, and narrow-minded be known to most of their leading members. and ill-informed as to most other particulars : It is the general opinion, it seems that they beneficent from habit and the discipline of the lare gradually diminishing.

(Iuly, 1813.) Memoirs of the Private and Public Life of William Penn. By THOMAS Clarkson, M. A.

8vo. 2 vols. pp. 1020. London: 1813. It is impossible to look into any of Mr. whatsoever. Unfortunately for Mr. Clarkson, Clarkson's books, without feeling that he is an moral qualities alone will not make a good excellent man-and a very bad writer. Many writer; nor are they even of the first importof the defects of his composition, indeed, seem ance on such an occasion : And accordingly, to be directly referrible to the amiableness of with all his philanthropy, piety, and inflexible his disposition. An earnestness for truth and honesty, he has not escaped the sin of tediousvirtue, that does not allow him to waste any ness,--and that to a degree that must render thought upon the ornaments by which they him almost illegible to any but Quakers, Remay be recommended—and a simplicity of viewers, and others, who make public profescharacter which is not aware that whát is sion of patience insurmountable. He has no substantially respectable may be made dull taste, and no spark of vivacity-not the vestige or ridiculous by the manner in which it is of an ear for harmony—and a prolixity of presented-are virtues which we suspect not which modern times have scarcely preserved io have been very favourable to his reputation any other example. He seems to have a suffias an author. Feeling in himself not only an ciently sound and clear judgment, but no great entire toleration of honest tediousness, but a acuteness of understanding; and, though visidecided preference for it upon all occasions bly tasking himself to judge charitably, and over mere elegance or ingenuity, he seems to speak candidly of all men, is evidently beset have transferred a little too hastily to books with such antipathy to all who persecute those principles of judgment which are admi- | Quakers, or maltreat negroes, as to make him rable when applied to men; and to have for- very unwilling to report any thing in their fa. gotten, that though dulness may be a very vour. On the other hand, he has great invenial' fault in a good man, it is such a fault dustry-scrupulous veracity—and that serious in a book as lo render its goodness of no avail land sober enthusiasm for his subject, which

is sure in the long run to disarm ridicule, and This course of discipline, however, not win upon inattention-and is frequently able proving immediately effectual, he was sent to render vulgarity impressive, and simplicity upon his travels, along with some other young sublime. Moreover, and above all

, he is per- gentlemen, and resided for two years in France, fectly free from affectation; so that, though and the Low Countries; but without any we may be wearied, we are never disturbed change either in those serious views of relia or offended-and read on, in tranquillity, till gion, or those austere notions of morality, by we find it impossible to read any more. which his youth had been so prematurely dis

It will be guessed, however, that it is not on tinguished. On his return, his father again account of its literary merits that we are in- endeavoured to subdue him to a more worldly duced to take notice of the work before us. frame of mind; first, by setting him to study William Penn, to whose honour it is wholly law at Lincoln's Inn; and afterwards, by send. devoted, was, beyond all doubt, a personage ing him to the Duke of Ormond's court at of no ordinary standard—and ought, before this Dublin, and giving him the charge of his large time, to have met with a biographer capable possessions in that kingdom. These expediof doing him justice. He is mosi known, and ents might perhaps have been attended with most deserving of being known, as the settler success, had he not accidentally again fallen of Pennsylvania ; but his private character in (at Cork) with his old friend Thomas Loe, also is interesting, and full of those peculiari- the Quaker,—who set before him such a view ties which distinguished the temper and man- of the dangers of his situation, that he seems ners of a great part of the English nation at from that day forward to have renounced all the period in which he lived. His theological secular occupations, and betaken himself to and polemical exploits are no less character- devotion, as ihe main business of his life. istic of the man and of the times ;—though The reign of Charles II., however, was not all that is really edifying in this part of his auspicious to dissenters; and in those evil history might have been given in about one days of persecution, he was speedily put in twentieth part of the space which is allotted prison for attending Quaker meetings; but to it in the volumes of Mr. Clarkson.

was soon liberated, and again came back to William Penn was born in 1644, the only his father's house, where a long disputation son of Admiral Sir W. Penn, the representa- took place upon the subject of his new creed. tive of an ancient and honourable family in It broke up with this moderate and very loyal Buckingham and Gloucestershire. He was proposition on the part of the Vice-Admiral regularly educated; and entered a Gentle- that the young Quaker should consent to sit man Commoner at Christ's Church, Oxford, with his hat off

, in presence of the King-the where he distinguished himself very early for Duke of York-and the Admiral himself! in his proficiency both in classical learning and return for which slight compliance, it was athletic exercises. When he was only about stipulated that he should be no longer molesisixteen, however, he was roused to a sense of ed for any of his opinions or practices. The the corruptions of the established faith, by the heroic convert, however, would listen to no preaching of one Thomas Loe, a Quaker—and terms of composition; and, after taking some immediately discontinued his attendance at days to consider of it, reported, that his conchapel ; and, with some other youths of his science could not comport with any species own way of thinking, began to hold prayer of Hat worship—and was again turned out of meetings in their private apartments. This, doors for his pains. of course, gave great scandal and offence to He now took openly to preaching in the his academical superiors; and a large fine, Quaker meetings; and shortly after began that with suitable admonitions, were imposed on course of theological and controversial pubthe young nonconformist. Just at this critical lications, in which he persisted to his dying period, an order was unluckily received from days; and which has had the effect of overCourt to resume the use of the surplice, which whelming his memory with two vast folio it seems had been discontinued almost ever volumes of Puritanical pamphlets. His most since the period of the Reformation; and the considerable work seems to have been that sight of this unfortunate vestment, “opera- entitled, “No Cross, no Crown ;' in which he ted," as Mr. Clarkson expresses it, "so dis- not only explains and vindicates, at great agreeably on William Penn, that he could not length, the grounds of the peculiar doctrines bear it! and, joining himself with some other and observances of the Society to which he young gentlemen, he fell upon those students belonged,—but endeavours to show, by a very who appeared in surplices, and tore them large and entertaining induction of instances every where over their heads." This, we from profane history, that the same general conceive, was not quite correct, even as a principles had been adopted and acted upon Quaker proceeding; and was but an unpro- by the wise and good in every generation; and mising beginning for the future champion of were suggested indeed to the reflecting mind religious liberty. Its natural consequence, by the inward voice of conscience, and the however, was, that he and his associates were, analogy of the whole visible scheme of God's without further ceremony, expelled from the providence in the government of the world. University; and when he went home to his The intermixture of worldly learning, and the father, and attempted to justify by argument larger and bolder scope of this performance, the measures he had adopted, it was no less na- render it far more legible than the pious extural that the good Admiral should give him a hortations and pertinacious polemics which good box on the ear, and turn him to the door. 'fill the greater part of his subsequent publica

« PreviousContinue »