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Title: A Portraiture of Quakerism, Volume 1
Author: Clarkson, Thomas, 1760-1846
Language: English
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available by the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF/Gallica) at


Taken from a View of the Education and Discipline, Social Manners,
Civil and Political Economy, Religious Principles and Character, of
the Society of Friends




[Illustration: THOMAS CLARKSON, A.M.]






_Amusements distinguishable into useful and hurtful--the latter
specified and forbidden_.


SECT. I.--_Games of chance forbidden--history of the origin of some of

SECT. II.--_Forbidden as below the dignity of the intellect of man, and
of his christian character_.

SECT. III.--_As producing an excitement of the passions, unfavourable to
religious impressions--historical anecdotes of this excitement_.

SECT. IV.--_As tending to produce, by the introduction of habits of
gaming, an alteration in the moral character_.


SECT. I.--_Music forbidden--instrumental innocent in itself, but greatly
abused--the use of it almost inseparable from its abuse at the present

SECT. II.--_Quakers cannot learn instrumental on the usual motives of
the world--nor consider it as a source of moral improvement, or of
solid comfort to the mind--but are fearful that, if indulged in, it
would interfere with the Christian duty of religious retirement_.

SECT III.--_Quakers cannot learn vocal, because, on account of its
articulative powers, it is capable of becoming detrimental to
morals--its tendency to this, as discoverable by an analysis of
different classes of songs_.

SECT IV.--_The preceding the arguments of the early Quaker--but the new
state of music has produced others--these explained_.

SECT V.--_An objection stated to the different arguments of the Quakers
on this subject--their reply_.


SECT I.--_The Theatre forbidden--short history of its origin--and of its
state and progress_.

SECT II.--_Manner of the drama objected to by the Quakers--as it
personates the characters of others--and it professes to reform vice_.

SECT III.--_Contents of the drama objected to--as they hold our false
sentiments--and weaken the sinews of morality_.

SECT IV.--_Theater considered by the Quakers to be injurious to the
happiness of man, as it disqualifies him for the pleasure of religion_.

SECT V.--_To be injurious to the happiness of man, as it disqualifies
him for domestic enjoyments_.

SECT VI.--_Opinions of the early Christians on this subject_.


SECT. I.--_Dancing forbidden--light in which this subject has been
viewed both by the ancients and the moderns--Quakers principally object
to it, where it is connected with public assemblies--they conceive it
productive, in this case, of a frivolous levity, and of an excitement of
many of the evil passions_.

SECT. II--_These arguments of the Quakers, on dancing, examined in
three supposed cases put to a moral philosopher_.

SECT. III.--_These arguments further elucidated by a display of the


_Novels forbidden--considered by the Quakers as producing an affectation
of knowledge--a romantic spirit--and a perverted morality_.


SECT. I--_Diversions of the field forbidden--general thoughtlessness
upon this subject--sentiments of some of our best poets--law of the
Quakers concerning it_.

SECT. II.--_Consistency of this law examined by the morality, which is
inculcated by the Old Testament_.

SECT. III.--_Examined by the morality of the New--these employments, if
resorted to as diversions, pronounced, in both cases, to be a breach of
a moral law_.


_Objections to the preceding system, which includes these different
prohibitions, as a system of moral education_.


SECT. I.--_Reply of the Quakers to these objections_.

SECT. II.--_Further reply of the Quakers on the same subject_.

       *       *       *       *       *



SECT. I.--_Outlines of the discipline of the Quakers_.

SECT. II.--_Manner of the administration of this discipline_.

SECT. III.--_Charges usually brought against the administration of
it--observations in answer in these charges_.

SECT. IV.--_The principles of this discipline applicable to the
discipline of larger societies, or to the criminal codes of
states--beautiful example in Pennsylvania_.


_Monthly court or meeting of the Quakers for the purposes of their
discipline--nature and manner of the business transacted there_.


_Quarterly court or meeting for the same purposes--nature and manner of
the business there_.


_Annual court or meeting for the same purposes--nature and manner of the
business there--striking peculiarities in this manner--character of this
discipline or government_.


_Excommunication or disowning--nature of disowning as a punishment_.



SECT. I.--_Dress--extravagance of the dress of the fifteenth and
sixteenth centuries--plain manner in which the grave and religious were
then habited--the Quakers sprang out of these_.

SECT. II.--_Quakers carried with them their plain dresses into their new
society--extravagance of the world continuing, they defined the objects
of dress as a Christian people--at length incorporated it into their
discipline--hence their present dress is only a less deviation from that
of their ancestors, than that of other people_.

SECT. III.--_Objections of the world to the Quaker dress--those
examined--a comparison between the language of Quakerism and of
Christianity on this subject--opinion of the early Christians upon it._


_Furniture--the Quakers use plain furniture--reasons for their
singularities in this respect._


SECT. I.--_Language--Quakers have altered the common
language--substitution of Thou for You--reasons for this
change--opinions of many learned men concerning it._

SECT. II.--_Various other alterations made--as in titled of address--and
of honour--reasons for these changes._

SECT. III.--_Another alteration--as in the names of the days and the
months--reasons for this change--various new phrases also introduced._

SECT. IV.--_Objections by the world against the alteration of Thou for

SECT. V.--_Against that of titles of address and honour._

SECT. VI.--_Against that of the names of the days and months._

SECT. VIII.--_Advantages and disadvantages of these alterations by the
Quaker language._


_Address--common personal gestures or worldly ceremonies of address
forbidden--no exception in favour of royalty--reasons against the disuse
of these._


_Manners and conversation--hospitality and freedom in Quakers'
houses--their conversation more limited than that of others--subjects of
conversation examined in our towns--and in the metropolis--extraordinary
circumstance that takes place occasionally in the company of the


_Customs before meals--ancients made an oblation to Vesta--moderns have
substituted grace--account of a Quaker-grace._


_Customs at and after meals--Quakers never drink healths or
toasts--various reasons for their disuse of these customs--and seldom
allow women to retire after dinner and leave the men drinking--Quakers a
sober people._



From the year 1787, when I began to devote my labours to the abolition
of the slave trade, I was thrown frequently into the company of the
people, called Quakers, these people had been then long unanimous upon
this subject. Indeed they had placed it among the articles of their
religious discipline. Their houses were of course open to me in all
parts of the kingdom. Hence I came to a knowledge of their living
manners, which no other person, who was not a Quaker, could have easily

As soon as I became possessed of this knowledge, or at least of so much
of it, as to feel that it was considerable, I conceived a desire of
writing their moral history. I believed I should be able to exhibit to
the rest of the world many excellent customs, of which they were
ignorant, but which it might be useful to them to know. I believed too,
that I should be affording to the Quakers themselves, some lessons of
utility, by letting them see, as it were in a glass, the reflection of
their own images. I felt also a great desire, amidst these
considerations, to do them justice; for ignorance and prejudice had
invented many expressions concerning them, to the detriment of their
character, which their conduct never gave me reason to suppose, during
all my intercourse with them, to be true.

Nor was I without the belief, that such a history might afford
entertainment to many. The Quakers, as every body knows, differ more
than even many foreigners do, from their own countrymen. They adopt a
singular mode of language. Their domestic customs are peculiar. They
have renounced religious ceremonies, which all other christians, in some
form or other, have retained. They are distinguished from all the other
islanders by their dress. These differences are great and striking. And
I thought therefore that those, who were curious in the development of
character, might be gratified in knowing the principles, which produced
such numerous exceptions from the general practices of the world.

But though I had conceived from the operation of these sentiments upon
my mind, as long ago as I have stated, a strong desire to write the
moral history of the Quakers, yet my incessant occupations on the
subject of the slave-trade, and indisposition of body afterwards, in
consequence of the great mental exertions necessary in such a cause,
prevented me from attempting my design. At length these causes of
prevention ceased. But when, after this, the subject recurred, I did not
seem to have the industry and perseverance, though I had still the
inclination left, for the undertaking. Time, however, continued to steal
on, till at length I began to be apprehensive, but more particularly
within the last two years, that, if I were to delay my work much longer,
I might not live to begin it at all. This consideration operated upon
me. But I was forcibly struck by another, namely, that, if I were not to
put my hand to the task, the Quakers would probably continue to be as
little known to their fellow-citizens, as they are at present. For I did
not see who was ever to give a full and satisfactory account of them. It
is true indeed, that there are works, written by Quakers, from which a
certain portion of their history, and an abstract of their religious
principles, might be collected; but none, from whence their living
manners could be taken. It is true also that others, of other religious
denominations, have written concerning them; but of those authors, who
have mentioned them in the course of their respective writings, not one,
to my knowledge, has given a correct account of them. It would be
tedious to dwell on the errors of Mosheim, or of Formey, or of Hume, or
on those to be found in many of the modern periodical[1] publications.
It seemed, therefore, from the circumstance of my familiar intercourse
with the Quakers, that it devolved upon me particularly to write their
history. And I was the more confirmed in my opinion, because, in looking
forward, I was never able to foresee the time when any other cause would
equally, with that of the slave-trade, bring any other person, who was
not of the society, into such habits of friendship with the Quakers, as
that he should obtain an equal degree of knowledge concerning them with
myself. By this new consideration I was more than ordinarily stimulated,
and I began my work.

[Footnote 1: I must except Dr. Toulmin's revision of Neal's history of
the Puritans. One or two publications have appeared since, written, in a
liberal spirit, but they are confined principally to the religious
principles of the Quakers.]

It is not improbable but some may imagine from the account already
given, that this work will be a partial one, or that it will lean, more
than it ought to do, in favour of the Quakers. I do not pretend to say,
that I shall be utterly able to divest myself of all undue influence,
which their attention towards me may have produced, or that I shall be
utterly unbiased, when I consider them as fellow-labourers in the work
of the abolition of the slave-trade; for if others had put their
shoulders to the wheel equally with them on the occasion, one of the
greatest causes of human misery, and moral evil, that was ever known in
the world, had been long ago annihilated, nor can I conceal, that I have
a regard for men, of whom it is a just feature in their character, that,
whenever they can be brought to argue upon political subjects, they
reason upon principle, and not upon consequences; for if this mode of
reasoning had been adopted by others, but particularly by men in exalted
stations, policy had given way to moral justice, and there had been but
little public wickedness in the world. But though I am confessedly
partial to the Quakers on account of their hospitality to me, and on
account of the good traits in their moral character, I am not so much
so, as to be blind to their imperfections. Quakerism is of itself a pure
system, and, if followed closely, will lead towards purity and
perfection; but I know well that all, who profess it, are not Quakers.
The deviation therefore of their practice from their profession, and
their frailties and imperfections, I shall uniformly lay open to them,
wherever I believe them to exist. And this I shall do, not because I
wish to avoid the charge of partiality, but from a belief, that it is my
duty to do it.

The society, of which I am to speak, are called[2] Quakers by the world,
but are known to each other by the name of friends, a beautiful
appellation, and characteristic of the relation, which man, under the
christian dispensation, ought uniformly to bear to man.

[Footnote 2: Justice Bennet of Derby gave the society the name of
Quakers in the year 1650, because the founder of it ordered him, and
those present with him, to tremble at the word of the Lord.]

The Founder of the society was George Fox He was born of "honest and
sufficient parents," at Drayton in Leicestershire, in the year 1624. He
was put out, when young, according to his own account, to a man, who was
a shoe-maker by trade, and who dealt in wool, and followed grazing, and
sold cattle. But it appears from William Penn, who became a member of
the society, and was acquainted with him that he principally followed
the country-part of his master's business. He took a great delight in
sheep, "an employment," says Penn, "that very well suited his mind in
some respects, both for its innocency and its solitude, and was a just
figure of his after ministry and service."

In his youth he manifested a seriousness of spirit, not usual in persons
of his age. This seriousness grew upon him, and as it encreased he
encouraged it, so that in the year 1643, or in the twentieth year of
his age, he conceived himself, in consequence of the awful impression
he had received, to be called upon to separate himself from the world,
and to devote himself to religion.

At this time the Church of England, as a Protestant church, had been
established; and many, who were not satisfied with the settlement of it,
had formed themselves into different religious sects. There was a great
number of persons also in the kingdom, who approving neither of the
religion of the establishment, nor of that of the different
denominations alluded to, withdrew from the communion of every visible
church. These were ready to follow any teacher, who might inculcate
doctrines that coincided with their own apprehensions. Thus for a way
lay open among many for a cordial reception of George Fox. But of those,
who had formed different visible churches of their own, it may be
observed, that though they were prejudiced, the reformation had not
taken place so long, but that they were still alive to religious
advancement. Nor had it taken place so long, but that thousands were
still very ignorant, and stood in need of light and information on that

It does not appear, however, that George Fox, for the first three years
from the time, when he conceived it to be his duty to withdraw from the
world, had done any thing as a public minister of the gospel. He had
travelled from the year 1643 to 1646, through the counties of Warwick,
Leicester, Northampton, and Bedford, and as far as London. In this
interval he appears to have given himself up to solemn impressions, and
to have endeavoured to find out as many serious people as he could, with
a view of conversing with them on the subject of religion.

In 1647 he extended his travels to Derbyshire, and from thence into
Lancashire, but returned to his native county. He met with many friendly
people in the course of this journey, and had many serious conversations
with them, but he never joined in profession with any. At Duckenfield,
however, and at Manchester, he went among those, whom he termed "the
professors of religion," and according to his own expressions, "he staid
a while and declared truth among them." Of these some were convinced but
others were enraged, being startled at his doctrine of perfection. At
Broughton in Leicestershire, we find him attending a meeting of the
Baptists, at which many of other denominations were present. Here he
spoke publicly, and convinced many. After this he went back to the
county of Nottingham. And here a report having gone abroad, that he was
an extraordinary young man, many, both priests and people, came far and
near to see him.

In 1648 he confined his movements to a few counties. In this year we
find him becoming a public character. In Nottinghamshire he delivered
himself in public at three different meetings, consisting either of
priests and professors, as he calls them, or professors and people. In
Warwickshire he met with a great company of professors, who were praying
and expounding the scriptures, in the fields. Here he discoursed
largely, and the hearers fell into contention, and so parted. In
Leicestershire he attended another meeting, consisting of Church people,
Presbyterians, Independents, and Baptists, where he spoke publicly
again. This meeting was held in a church. The persons present discoursed
and reasoned. Questions were propounded, and answers followed. An answer
given by George Fox, in which he stated that "the church was the pillar
and ground of truth, and that it did not consist of a mixed multitude,
or of an old house, made up of lime, stones, and wood, but of living
stones, living members, and a spiritual household, of which Christ was
the head," set them all on fire. The clergyman left the pulpit, the
people their pews, and the meeting separated. George Fox, however, went
afterwards to an Inn, where he argued with priests and professors of all
sorts. Departing from thence, he took up his abode for some time in the
vale of Beevor, where he preached Repentance, and convinced many. He
then returned into Nottinghamshire, and passed from thence into
Derbyshire, in both which counties his doctrines spread. And, after
this, warning Justices of the Peace, as he travelled along, to do
justice, and notoriously wicked men to amend their lives, he came into
the vale of Beevor again. In this vale it was that he received,
according to his own account, his commission from divine authority, by
means of impressions on his mind, in consequence of which he conceived
it to be discovered to him, among other things, that he was "to turn the
people from darkness to the light." By this time he had converted many
hundreds to his opinions, and divers meetings of Friends, to use his own
expression, "had been then gathered."

The year 1649 was ushered in by new labours. He was employed
occasionally in writing to judges and justices to do justice, and in
warning persons to fulfil the duties of their respective stations in

This year was the first of all his years of suffering. For it happened
on a Sunday morning, that, coming in sight of the town of Nottingham,
and seeing the great church, he felt an impression on his mind to go
there. On hearing a part of the sermon, he was so struck with what he
supposed to be the erroneous doctrine it contained, that he could not
help publicly contradicting it. For this interruption of the service he
was seized, and afterwards confined in prison. At Mansfield again, as he
was declaring his own religious opinions in the church, the people fell
upon him and beat and bruised him, and put him afterwards in the stocks.
At Market Bosworth he was stoned and driven out of the place. At
Chesterfield he addressed both the clergyman and the people, but they
carried him before the mayor, who detained him till late at night, at
which unseasonable time the officers and watchmen put him out of the

And here I would observe, before I proceed to the occurrences of another
year, that there is reason to believe that George Fox disapproved of his
own conduct in having interrupted the service of the church at
Nottingham, which I have stated to have been the first occasion of his
imprisonment. For if he believed any one of his actions, with which the
world had been offended, to have been right, he repeated it, as
circumstances called it forth, though he was sure of suffering for it
either from the magistrates or the people. But he never repeated this,
but he always afterwards, when any occasion of religious controversy
occurred in any of the churches, where his travels lay, uniformly
suspended his observations, till the service was over.

George Fox spent almost the whole of the next year, that is, of the year
1650, in confinement in Derby Prison.

In 1651, when he was set at liberty, he seems not to have been in the
least disheartened by the treatment he had received there, or at the
different places before mentioned, but to have resumed his travels, and
to have held religious meetings, as he went along. He had even the
boldness to go into Litchfield, because he imagined it to be his duty,
and, with his shoes off to pronounce with an audible voice in the
streets, and this on the market-day, a woe against that city. He
continued also to visit the churches, as he journeyed, in the time of
divine service, and to address the priests and the people publicly, as
he saw occasion, but not, as I observed before, till he believed the
service to be over. It does not appear, however, that he suffered any
interruption upon these occasions, in the course of the present year,
except at York-Minster; where, as he was beginning to preach after the
sermon, he was hurried out of it, and thrown down the steps by the
congregation, which was then breaking up. It appears that he had been
generally well received in the county of York, and that he had convinced

In the year 1652, after having passed through the shires of Nottingham
and Lincoln, he came again into Yorkshire. Here, in the course of his
journey, he ascended Pendle-Hill. At the top of this he apprehended it
was opened to him, whither he was to direct his future steps, and that
he saw a great host of people, who were to be converted by him in the
course of his ministry. From this time we may consider him as having
received his commission full and complete in his own mind. For in the
vale of Beevor he conceived himself to have been informed of the various
doctrines, which it became his duty to teach, and, on this occasion, to
have had an insight of the places where he was to spread them.

To go over his life, even in the concise way, in which I have hitherto
attempted it, would be to swell this introduction into a volume. I shall
therefore, from this great period of his ministry, make only the
following simple statement concerning it.

He continued his labours, as a minister of the gospel, and even
preached, within two days of his death.

During this time he had settled meetings in most parts of the kingdom,
and had given to these the foundation of that beautiful system of
discipline, which I shall explain in this volume, and which exists among
the Quakers at the present day.

He had travelled over England, Scotland, and Wales. He had been in
Ireland. He had visited the British West-Indies, and America. He had
extended his travels to Holland, and part of Germany.

He had written, in this interval, several religious books, and had
addressed letters to kings, princes, magistrates, and people, as he felt
impressions on his mind, which convinced him, that it become his duty to
do it.

He had experienced also, during this interval, great bodily sufferings.
He had been long and repeatedly confined in different gaols of the
kingdom. The state of the gaols, in these times, is not easily to be
conceived. That of Doomsdale at Launceston in Cornwall, has never been
exceeded for filth and pestilential noisomeness, nor those of Lancaster
and Scarborough-castles for exposure to the inclemency of the elements.
In the two latter he was scarcely ever dry for two years; for the rain
used to beat into them, and to run down upon the floor. This exposure to
the severity of the weather occasioned his body and limbs to be
benumbed, and to swell to a painful size, and laid the foundation, by
injuring his health, for future occasional sufferings during the
remainder of his life.

With respect to the religious doctrines, which George Fox inculcated
during his ministry, it is not necessary to speak of them here, as they
will be detailed in their proper places. I must observe, however, that
he laid a stress upon many things, which the world considered to be of
little moment, but which his followers thought to be entirely worthy of
his spiritual calling. He forbade all the modes and gestures, which are
used as tokens of obeisance, or flattery, or honour, among men. He
insisted on the necessity of plain speech or language. He declaimed
against all sorts of music. He protested against the exhibitions of the
theatre, and many of the accustomary diversions of the times. The early
Quakers, who followed him in all these points, were considered by some
as turning the world upside down; but they contended in reply, that they
were only restoring it to its pure and primitive state; and that they
had more weighty arguments for acting up to their principles in these
respects, than others had for condemning them for so doing.

But whatever were the doctrines, whether civil, or moral, or religious,
which George Fox promulgated, he believed that he had a divine
commission for teaching them, and that he was to be the RESTORER of
Christianity; that is, that he was to bring people from Jewish
ceremonies and Pagan-fables, with which it had been intermixed, and also
from worldly customs, to a religion which was to consist of spiritual
feeling. I know not how the world will receive the idea, that he
conceived himself to have had a revelation for these purposes. But
nothing is more usual than for pious people, who have succeeded in any
ordinary work of goodness, to say, that they were providentially led to
it, and this expression is usually considered among Christians to be
accurate. But I cannot always find the difference between a man being
providentially led into a course of virtues and successful action, and
his having an internal revelation for it. For if we admit that men may
be providentially led upon such occasions, they must be led by the
impressions upon their minds. But what are these internal impressions,
but the dictates of an internal voice to those who follow them? But if
pious men would believe themselves to have been thus providentially led,
or acted upon, in any ordinary case of virtue, if it had been crowned
with success, George Fox would have had equal reason to believe, from
the success that attended his own particular undertaking, that he had
been called upon to engage in it. For at a very early age he had
confuted many of the professors of religion in public disputations. He
had converted magistrates, priests, and people. Of the clergymen of
those times some had left valuable livings, and followed him. In his
thirtieth year he had seen no less than sixty persons, spreading, as
ministers, his own doctrines. These, and other circumstances which might
be related, would doubtless operate powerfully upon him to make him
believe, that he was a chosen vessel. Now, if to these considerations it
be added, that George Fox was not engaged in any particular or partial
cause of benevolence, or mercy, or justice, but wholly and exclusively
in a religious and spiritual work, and that it was the first of all his
religious doctrines, that the spirit of God, _where men were obedient to
it, guided them in their spiritual concerns_, he must have believed
himself, on the consideration of his unparalleled success, to have been
_providentially led_, or to have had an internal or spiritual commission
for the cause, which he had undertaken.

But this belief was not confined to himself. His followers believed in
his commission also. They had seen, like himself, the extraordinary
success of his ministry. They acknowledged the same internal
admonitions, or revelations of the same spirit, in spiritual concerns.
They had been witnesses of his innocent and blameless life. There were
individuals in the kingdom, who had publicly professed sights and
prophecies concerning him. At an early age he had been reported, in some
parts of the country, as a youth, who had a _discerning spirit_. It had
gone abroad, that he had healed many persons, who had been sick of
various diseases. Some of his prophecies had come true in the lifetime
of those, who had heard them delivered. His followers too had seen many,
who had come purposely to molest and apprehend him, depart quietly, as
if their anger and their power had been providentially broken. They had
seen others, who had been his chief persecutors, either falling into
misfortunes, or dying a miserable or an untimely death. They had seen
him frequently cast into prison, but always getting out again by means
of his innocence. From these causes the belief was universal among them,
that his commission was of divine authority; and they looked upon him
therefore in no other light, than that of a teacher, who had been sent
to them from heaven.

George Fox was in his person above the ordinary size. He is described by
William Penn as a "lusty person." He was graceful in his countenance.
His eye was particularly piercing, so that some of those, who were
disputing with him, were unable to bear it. He was, in short, manly,
dignified, and commanding in his aspect and appearance.

In his manner of living he was temperate. He ate sparingly. He avoided,
except medicinally, all strong drink.

Notwithstanding the great exercise he was accustomed to take, he allowed
himself but little sleep.

In his outward demeanour he was modest, and without affectation. He
possessed a certain gravity of manners, but he was nevertheless affable,
and courteous, and civil beyond the usual forms of breeding.

In his disposition he was meek, and tender, and compassionate. He was
kind to the poor, without any exception, and, in his own society, laid
the foundation of that attention towards them, which the world remarks
as an honour to the Quaker-character at the present day. But the poor
were not the only persons, for whom, he manifested an affectionate
concern. He felt and sympathized wherever humanity could be interested.
He wrote to the judges on the subject of capital punishments, warning
them not to take away the lives of persons for theft. On the coast of
Cornwall he was deeply distressed at finding the inhabitants, more
intent upon plundering the wrecks of vessels that were driven upon their
shores, than upon saving the poor and miserable mariners, who were
clinging to them; and he bore his public testimony against this
practice, by sending letters to all the clergymen and magistrates in the
parishes, bordering upon the sea, and reproving them for their
unchristian conduct In the West-Indies also he exhorted those, who
attended his meetings to be merciful to their slaves, and to give them
their freedom in due time. He considered these as belonging to their
families, and that religious instruction was due to these, as the
branches of them, for whom one day or other they would be required to
give a solemn account. Happy had it been, if these christian
exhortations had been attended to, or if those families only, whom he
thus seriously addressed, had continued to be true Quakers; for they
would have set an example, which would have proved to the rest of the
islanders, and the world at large, that the impolicy is not less than
the wickedness of oppression. Thus was George Fox probably the first
person, who publicly declared against this species of slavery. Nothing
in short, that could be deplored by humanity, seems to have escaped his
eye; and his benevolence, when excited, appears to have suffered no
interruption in its progress by the obstacles, which bigotry would have
thrown in the way of many, on account of the difference of a persons
country, or of his colour, or of his sect.

He was patient under his own sufferings. To those, who smote his right
cheek, he offered his left; and, in the true spirit of christianity, he
indulged no rancour against the worst of his oppressors. He made use
occasionally of a rough expression towards them; but he would never have
hurt any of them, if he had had them in his power.

He possessed the most undaunted courage; for he was afraid of no earthly
power. He was never deterred from going to meetings for worship, though
he knew the officers would be there, who were to seize his person. In
his personal conversations with Oliver Cromwell, or in his letters to
him as protector, or in his letters to the parliament, or to king
Charles the second, or to any other personage, he discovered his usual
boldness of character, and never lost, by means of any degrading
flattery, his dignity as a man.

But his perseverance was equal to his courage; for he was no sooner out
of gaol, than he repeated the very acts, believing them to be right, for
which he had been confined. When he was forced also out of the
meeting-houses by the officers of justice, he preached at the very
doors. In short, he was never hindered but by sickness, or
imprisonments, from persevering in his religious pursuits.

With respect to his word, he was known to have held it so sacred, that
the judges frequently dismissed him without bail, on his bare promise
that he would be forth coming on a given day. On these occasions, he
used always to qualify his promise by the expression, _"if the Lord

Of the integrity of his own character, as a christian, he was so
scrupulously tenacious, that, when he might have been sometimes set at
liberty by making trifling acknowledgements, he would make none, least
it should imply a conviction, that he had been confined for that which
was wrong; and, at one time in particular, king Charles the second was
so touched with the hardship of his case, that he offered to discharge
him from prison by a pardon. But George Fox declined it on the idea,
that, as pardon implied guilt, his innocence would be called in question
by his acceptance of it. The king, however, replied, that "he need not
scruple being released by a pardon, for many a man who was as innocent
as a child, had had a pardon granted him." But still he chose to decline
it. And he lay in gaol, till, upon a trial of the errors in his
indictment, he was discharged in an honourable way.

As a minister of the gospel, he was singularly eminent. He had a
wonderful gift in expounding the scriptures. He was particularly
impressive in his preaching; but he excelled most in prayer.

Here it was, that he is described by William Penn, as possessing the
most awful and reverend frame he ever beheld. His presence, says the
same author, expressed "a religious majesty." That there must have been
something more than usually striking either in his manner, or in his
language, or in his arguments, or in all of them combined, or that he
spoke "in the _demonstration_ of the spirit and with power," we are
warranted in pronouncing from the general and powerful effects produced.
In the year 1648, when he had but once before spoken in public, it was
observed of him at Mansfield, at the end of his prayer, _"that it was
then, as in the days of the apostles, when the house was shaken where
they were."_ In the same manner he appears to have gone on, making a
deep impression upon his hearers, whenever he was fully and fairly
heard. Many clergymen, as I observed before, in consequence of his
powerful preaching, gave up their livings; and constables, who attended
the meetings, in order to apprehend him, felt themselves disarmed, so
that they went away without attempting to secure his person.

As to his life, it was innocent. It is true indeed, that there were
persons, high in civil offices, who, because he addressed the people in
public, considered him as a disturber of the peace. But none of these
ever pretended to cast a stain on his moral character. He was considered
both by friends and enemies, as irreproachable in his life.

Such was the character of the founder of Quakerism, He was born in July
1624, and died on the thirteenth of November 1690, in the sixty-seventh
year of his age. He had separated himself from the word in order to
attend to serious things, as I observed before, at the age of nineteen,
so that he had devoted himself to the exercises and services of religion
for no less a period than forty-eight years. A few hours before his
death, upon some friends asking him how he found himself, he replied
"never heed. All is well. The seed or power of God reigns over all, and
over death itself, blessed be the Lord." This answer was full of
courage, and corresponded with that courage, which had been conspicuous
in him during life. It contained on evidence, as manifested in his own
feelings, of the tranquillity and happiness of his mind, and that the
power and terrors of death had been vanquished in himself. It shewed
also the ground of his courage and of his confidence. "He was full of
assurance," says William Penn, "that he had triumphed over death, and so
much so, even to the last, that death appeared to him hardly worth
notice or mention." Thus he departed this life, affording an instance of
the truth of those words of the psalmist, "Behold the upright, for the
end of that man is peace."






       *       *       *       *       *

George Fox never gave, while living, nor left after his death, any
definition of Quakerism. He left, however, his journal behind him, and
he left what is of equal importance, his example. Combining these with
the sentiments and practice of the early Quakers, I may state, in a few
words, what Quakerism is, or at least what we may suppose George Fox
intended it to be.

Quakerism may be defined to be an attempt, under the divine influence,
at practical christianity as far as it can be carried. Those, who
profess it, consider themselves bound to regulate their opinions, words,
actions, and even outward demeanour, by christianity, and by
christianity alone. They consider themselves bound to give up such of
the customs, or fashions of men, however general, or generally approved,
as militate, in any manner, against the letter or the spirit of the
gospel. Hence they mix but little with the world, that they may be less
liable to imbibe its spirit. Hence George Fox made a distinction between
the members of his own society and others, by the different appellations
of _Friends_, and _People of the world_. They consider themselves also
under an obligation to follow virtue, not ordinarily, _but even to the
death_. For they profess never to make a sacrifice of conscience, and
therefore, if any ordinances of man are enjoined them, which they think
to be contrary to the divine will, they believe right not to submit to
them, but rather, after the example of the apostles and primitive
christians, to suffer any loss, penalty, or inconvenience, which may
result to them for so doing.

This then, in a few words, is a general definition of [3]Quakerism. It
is, as we see, a most strict profession of practical virtue under the
direction of christianity, and such as, when we consider the infirmities
of human nature, and the temptations that daily surround it, it must be
exceedingly difficult to fulfil. But, whatever difficulties may have
lain in the way, or however, on account of the necessary weakness of
human nature, the best individuals among the Quakers may have fallen
below the pattern of excellence, which they have copied, nothing is more
true, than that the result has been, that the whole society, as a body,
have obtained from their countrymen, the character of a moral people.

[Footnote 3: I wish to be understood, in writing this work, that I can
give no account that will be applicable to all under the name of
Quakers. My account will comprehend the general practice, or that which
ought to be the practice of those, who profess Quakerism.]

If the reader be a lover of virtue, and anxious for the moral
improvement of mankind, he will be desirous of knowing what means the
Quakers have used to have preserved, for a hundred and fifty years, this
desirable reputation in the world.

If we were to put the question to the Quakers themselves for their own
opinion upon it, I believe I can anticipate their reply. They would
attribute any morality, they might be supposed to have, _to the Supreme
Being_, whose will having been discovered by means of the scriptures,
and of religious impressions upon the mind, when it has been calm, and
still, and abstracted from the world, they have endeavoured to obey. But
there is no doubt, that we may add, _auxiliary causes_ of this morality,
and such as the Quakers themselves would allow to have had their share
in producing it, under the same influence. The first of these may be
called their moral education. The second their discipline. The third may
be said to consist of those domestic, or other customs, which are
peculiar to them, as a society of christians. The fourth of their
_peculiar tenets of religion_. In fact, there are many circumstances
interwoven into the constitution of the society of the Quakers, each of
which has a separate effect, and all of which have a combined tendency,
towards the production of moral character.

These auxiliary causes I shall consider and explain in their turn. In
the course of this explanation the reader will see, that, if other
people were to resort to the same means as the Quakers, they would
obtain the same reputation, or that human nature is not so stubborn, but
that it will yield to a given force. But as it is usual, in examining
the life of an individual, to begin with his youth, or, if it has been
eminent, to begin with the education he has received, so I shall fix
upon the first of the auxiliary causes I have mentioned, or the _moral
education_ of the Quakers, as the subject for the first division of my

Of this moral education I may observe here, that it is universal among
the society, or that it obtains where the individuals are considered to
be true Quakers. It matters not, how various the tempers of young
persons may be, who come under it, they must submit to it. Nor does it
signify what may be the disposition, or the whim, and caprice of their
parents, they must submit to it alike. The Quakers believe that they
have discovered that system of morality, which christianity prescribes;
and therefore that they can give no dispensation to their members, under
any circumstances whatever, to deviate from it. The origin of this
system, as a standard of education in the society, is as follows.

When the first Quakers met in union, they consisted of religious or
spiritually minded men. From that time to the present, there has always
been, as we may imagine, a succession of such in the society. Many of
these, at their great meetings, which have been annual since those days,
have delivered their sentiments on various interesting points. These
sentiments were regularly printed, in the form of yearly epistles, and
distributed among Quaker families. Extracts, in process of time, were
made from them, and arranged under different heads, and published in one
book, under the name of [4]Advices. Now these advices comprehend
important subjects. They relate to customs, manners, fashions,
conversation, conduct. They contain of course _recommendations_, and
suggest _prohibitions_, to the society, as _rules of guidance:_ and as
they came from spiritually _minded_ men on _solemn occasions_, they are
supposed to have had a _spiritual origin_. Hence Quaker parents manage
their youth according to these _recommendations_ and _prohibitions_, and
hence this book of extracts (for so it is usually called) from which I
have obtained a considerable portion of my knowledge on this subject,
forms the basis of the moral Education of the Society.

[Footnote 4: The Book is intitled "Extracts from the minutes made, and
from the advices given, at the yearly Meeting of the Quakers in London,
since its first Institution."]

Of the contents of this book, I shall notice, while I am treating upon
this subject, not those rules which are of a recommendatory, but those,
which are of a _prohibitory nature_. Education is regulated either by
recommendations, or by prohibitions, or by both conjoined. The former
relate to things, where there is a wish that youth should conform to
them, but where a trifling deviation from them would not be considered
as an act of delinquency publicly reprehensible. The latter to things,
where any compliance with them becomes a positive offence. The Quakers,
in consequence of the vast power they have over their members by means
of their discipline, lay a great stress upon the latter. They consider
their prohibitions, when duly watched and enforced, as so many _barriers
against vice_ or _preservatives of virtue_. Hence they are the grand
component parts of their moral education, and hence I shall chiefly
consider them in the chapters, which are now to follow upon this



_Moral Education of the Quakers--amusements necessary for youth--Quakers
distinguish between the useful and the hurtful--the latter specified and

When the blooming spring sheds abroad its benign influence, man feels it
equally with the rest of created nature. The blood circulates more
freely, and a new current of life seems to be diffused, in his veins.
The aged man is enlivened, and the sick man feels himself refreshed.
Good spirits and cheerful countenances succeed. But as the year changes
in its seasons, and rolls round to its end, the tide seems to slacken,
and the current of feeling to return to its former level.

But this is not the case with the young. The whole year to them is a
kind of perpetual spring. Their blood runs briskly throughout. Their
spirits are kept almost constantly alive; and as the cares of the world
occasion no drawback, they feel a perpetual disposition to cheerfulness
and to mirth. This disposition seems to be universal in them. It seems
too to be felt by us all; that is, the spring, enjoyed by youth, seems
to operate as spring to maturer age. The sprightly and smiling looks of
children, their shrill, lively, and cheerful voices, their varied and
exhilarating sports, all these are interwoven with the other objects of
our senses, and have an imperceptible, though an undoubted influence, in
adding to the cheerfulness of our minds. Take away the beautiful
choristers from the woods, and those, who live in the country, would but
half enjoy the spring. So, if by means of any unparalleled pestilence,
the children of a certain growth were to be swept away, and we were to
lose this infantile link in the chain of age, those, who were left
behind, would find the creation dull, or experience an interruption in
the cheerfulness of their feelings, till the former were successively

The bodies, as well as the minds of children, require exercise for their
growth: and as their disposition is thus lively and sportive, such
exercises, as are amusing, are necessary, and such amusements, on
account of the length of the spring which they enjoy, must be expected
to be long.

The Quakers, though they are esteemed an austere people, are sensible of
these wants or necessities of youth. They allow their children most of
the sports or exercises of the body, and most of the amusements or
exercises of the mind, which other children of the island enjoy; but as
children are to become _men_, and men are to become _moral characters_,
they believe that bounds should be drawn, or that an unlimited
permission to follow every recreation would be hurtful.

The Quakers therefore have thought it proper to interfere on this
subject, and to draw the line between those amusements, which they
consider to be salutary, and those, which they consider to be hurtful.
They have accordingly struck out of the general list of these such, and
such only, as, by being likely to endanger their morality, would be
likely to interrupt the usefulness, and the happiness, of their lives.
Among the bodily exercises, _dancing_, and the _diversions of the
field_, have been proscribed; among the mental, _music_, _novels_, the
_theatre_, and all games of _chance_, of every description, have been
forbidden. These are the principal prohibitions, which the Quakers have
made on the subject of their moral education. They were suggested, most
of them, by George Fox, but were brought into the discipline, at
different times, by his successors.

I shall now consider each of these prohibitions separately, and I shall
give all the reasons, which the Quakers themselves give, why, as a
society of Christians, they have, thought it right to issue and enforce


_Games of chance--Quakers forbid cards, dice, and other similar
amusements--also, concerns in lotteries--and certain transactions in the
stocks--they forbid also all wagers, and speculations by a monied
stake--the peculiar wisdom of the latter prohibition, as collected from
the history of the origin of some of the amusements of the times_.

When we consider the depravity of heart, and the misery and ruin, that
are frequently connected with gaming, it would be strange indeed, if the
Quakers, as highly professing Christians, had not endeavoured to
extirpate it from their own body.

No people, in fact, have taken more or more effectual measures for its
suppression. They have proscribed the use of all games of chance, and of
all games of skill, that are connected with chance in any manner. Hence
_cards_, _dice_, _horse-racing_, _cock-fighting_, and all the
amusements, which come under this definition, are forbidden.

But as there are certain transactions, independently of these
amusements, which are equally connected with hazard, and which
individuals might convert into the means of moral depravity and temporal
ruin, they have forbidden these also, by including them under the
appellation of gaming.

Of this description are concerns in the lottery, from which all Quakers
are advised to refrain. These include the purchase of tickets, and all
insurance upon the same.

In transactions of this kind there is always a monied stake, and the
issue is dependent upon chance. There is of course the same fascinating
stimulus as in cards, or dice, arising from the hope of gain. The mind
also must be equally agitated between hope and fear; and the same state
of desperation may be produced, with other fatal consequences, in the
event of loss.

Buying and selling in the public stocks of the kingdom is, under
particular circumstances, discouraged also. Where any of the members of
the society buy into the stocks, under the idea, that they are likely to
obtain better security, or more permanent advantages, such a transfer of
their property is allowable. But if any were to make a practice of
buying or selling, week after week, upon speculation only, such a
practice would come under the denomination of gaming. In this case, like
the preceding, it is evident, that money would be the object in view;
that the issue would be hazardous; and, if the stake or deposit were of
great importance, the tranquillity of the mind might be equally
disturbed, and many temporal sufferings might follow.

The Quakers have thought it right, upon the same principle, to forbid
the custom of laying wagers upon any occasion whatever, or of reaping
advantage from any doubtful event, by a previous agreement upon a monied
stake. This prohibition, however, is not on record, like the former, but
is observed as a traditional law. No Quaker-parent would suffer his
child, nor Quaker-schoolmaster the children entrusted to his care, nor
any member another, to be concerned in amusements of this kind, without
a suitable reproof.

By means of these prohibitions, which are enforced, in a great measure,
by the discipline, the Quakers have put a stop to gaming more
effectually than others, but particularly by means of the latter. For
history has shewn us, that we cannot always place a reliance on a mere
prohibition of any particular amusement or employment, as a cure for
gaming, because any pastime or employment, however innocent in itself,
may be made an instrument for its designs. There are few customs,
however harmless, which avarice cannot convert into the means of rapine
on the one hand, and of distress on the other.

Many of the games, which are now in use with such pernicious effects to
individuals, were not formerly the instruments of private ruin.
Horse-racing was originally instituted with a view of promoting a better
breed of horses for the services of man. Upon this principle it was
continued. It afforded no private emolument to any individual. The
by-standers were only spectators. They were not interested in the
victory. The victor himself was remunerated not with money, but with
crowns and garlands, the testimonies of public applause. But the spirit
of gaming got hold of the custom, and turned it into a private
diversion, which was to afford the opportunity of a private prize.

Cock-fighting, as we learn from Ælian, was instituted by the Athenians,
immediately after their victory over the Persians, to perpetuate the
memory of the event, and to stimulate the courage of the youth of Greece
in the defence of their own freedom; and it was continued upon the same
principle, or as a public institution for a public good. But the spirit
of avarice seized it, as it has done the custom of horse-racing, and
continued it for a private gain.

Cards, that is, European cards, were, as all are agreed, of an harmless
origin. Charles the sixth, of France, was particularly afflicted with
the hypochondriasis. While in this disordered state, one of his subjects
invented them, to give variety of amusement to his mind. From the court
they passed into private families. And here the same avaricious spirit
fastened upon them, and, with its cruel talons, clawed them, as it were,
to its own purposes, not caring how much these little instruments of
cheerfulness in human disease were converted into instruments for the
extension of human pain.

In the same manner as the spirit of gaming has seized upon these
different institutions and amusements of antiquity, and turned them from
their original to new and destructive uses, so there is no certainty,
that it will not seize upon others, which may have been innocently
resorted to, and prostitute them equally with the former. The mere
prohibition of particular amusements, even if it could be enforced,
would be no cure for the evil. The brain of man is fertile enough, as
fast as one custom is prohibited, to fix upon another. And if all the
games, now in use, were forbidden, it would be still fertile enough to
invent others for the same purposes. The bird that flies in the air, and
the snail, that crawls upon the ground, have not escaped the notice of
the gamester, but have been made, each of them, subservient to his
pursuits. The wisdom, therefore, of the Quakers, in making it to be
considered as a law of the society, that no member is to lay wagers, or
reap advantage from any doubtful event, by a previous agreement upon a
monied stake, is particularly conspicuous. For, whenever it can be
enforced, it must be an effectual cure for gaming. For we have no idea,
how a man can gratify his desire of gain by means of any of the
amusements of chance, if he can make no monied arrangements about their


_The first argument for the prohibition of cards, and of similar
amusements, by the Quakers, is--that they are below the dignity of the
intellect of man, and of his moral and christian character--sentiments
of Addison on this subject_.

The reasons, which the Quakers give for the prohibition of cards, and of
amusements of a similar nature, to the members of their own society, are
generally such as are given by other Christians, though they make use of
one, which is peculiar to themselves.

It has been often observed, that the word amusement is proper to
characterize the employments of children, but that the word utility is
the only one proper to characterize the employment of men.

The first argument of the Quakers, on this subject, is of a complexion,
similar to that of the observation just mentioned. For when they
consider man, as a reasonable being, they are of opinion, that his
occupations should be rational. And when they consider him as making a
profession of the Christian religion, they expect that his conduct
should be manly, serious, and dignified. But all such amusements, as
those in question, if resorted to for the filling up of his vacant
hours, they conceive to be unworthy of his intellect, and to be below
the dignity of his Christian character.

They believe also, when they consider man as a moral being, that it is
his duty, as it is unquestionably his interest, to aim at the
improvement of his moral character. Now one of the foundations, on which
this improvement must be raised, is knowledge. But knowledge is only
slowly acquired. And human life, or the time for the acquisition of it,
is but short. It does not appear, therefore, in the judgment of the
Quakers, that a person can have much time for amusements of this sort,
if he be bent upon obtaining that object, which will be most conducive
to his true happiness, or to the end of his existence here.

Upon this first argument of the Quakers I shall only observe, lest it
should be thought singular, that sentiments of a similar import are to
be found in authors, of a different religious denomination, and of
acknowledged judgment and merit. Addison, in one of his excellent
chapters on the proper employment of life, has the following
observation: "The next method, says he, that I would propose to fill up
our time should be innocent and useful diversions. I must confess I
think it is below reasonable creatures, to be altogether conversant in
such diversions, as are merely innocent, and have nothing else to
recommend them, but that there is no hurt in them. Whether any kind of
gaming has even thus much to say for itself I shall not determine: but I
think it is very wonderful to see persons of the best sense passing a
dozen hours together in shuffling and dividing a pack of cards, with no
other conversation, but what is made up of a few game-phrases, and no
other ideas, but those of red or black spots ranged together in
different figures. Would not a man laugh to hear any one of this species
complaining that life is short?"


_Cards on account of the manner in which they are generally used,
produce an excitement of the passions--historical anecdotes of this
excitement--this excitement another cause of their prohibition by the
Quakers, because it unfits the mind, according to their notions, for the
reception of religious impressions_.

The Quakers are not so superstitious as to imagine that there can be any
evil in cards, considered abstractedly as cards, or in some of the other
amusements, that have been mentioned. The red or the black images on
their surfaces can neither pollute the fingers, nor the minds, of those
who handle them. They may be moved about, and dealt in various ways, and
no objectionable consequences may follow. They nay be used, and this
innocently, to construct the similitudes of things. They may be
arranged, so as to exhibit devices, which may be productive of harmless
mirth. The evil, connected with them, will depend solely upon the manner
of their use. If they are used for a trial of skill, and for this
purpose only, they will be less dangerous, than where they are used for
a similar trial, with a monied stake. In the former case, however, they
may be made to ruffle the temper, for, in the very midst of victory, the
combatant may experience defeat. In the latter case, the loss of
victory will be accompanied by a pecuniary loss, and two causes, instead
of one, of the excitement of the passions, will operate at once upon the

It seldom happens, and it is much to be lamented, either that children,
or that more mature persons, are satisfied with amusements of this kind,
so as to use them simply as trials of skill. A monied stake is usually
proposed, as the object to be obtained. This general attachment of a
monied victory to cards is productive frequently of evil. It generates
often improper feelings. It gives birth to uneasiness and impatience,
while the contest is in doubt, and not unfrequently to anger and
resentment, when it is over.

But the passions, which are thus excited among youth, are excited also,
but worked up to greater mischief, where grown up persons follow these
amusements imprudently, than where children are concerned. For though
avarice, and impatience, and anger, are called forth among children,
they subside sooner. A boy, though he loses his all when he loses his
stake, suffers nothing from the idea of having impaired the means of his
future comfort, and independence. His next week's allowance, or the next
little gift, will set him right again. But when a grown up person, who
is settled in the world, is led on by these fascinating amusements, so
as to lose that which would be of importance to his present comfort,
but more particularly to the happiness of his future life, the case is
materially altered. The same passions, which harass the one, will harass
the other, but the effects will be widely different. I have been told
that persons have been so agitated before the playing of the card, that
was to decide their destiny, that large drops of sweat have fallen from
their faces, though they were under no bodily exertions. Now, what must
have been the state of their minds, when the card in question proved
decisive of their loss? Reason must unquestionably have fled. And it
must have been succeeded instantly either by fury or despair. It would
not have been at all wonderful, if persons in such a state were to have
lost their senses, or, if unable to contain themselves, they were
immediately to have vented their enraged feelings either upon
themselves, or upon others, who were the authors, or the spectators, of
their loss.

It is not necessary to have recourse to the theory of the human mind, to
anticipate the consequences, that would be likely to result to grown up
persons from such an extreme excitement of the passions. History has
given a melancholy picture of these, as they have been observable among
different nations of the world.

The ancient Germans, according to Tacitus, played to such desperation,
that, when they had lost every thing else, they staked their personal
liberty, and, in the event of bad fortune, became the slaves of the

D'Israeli, in his curiosities of literature, has given us the following
account. "Dice, says he, and that little pugnacious animal, the cock,
are the chief instruments employed by the numerous nations of the east,
to agitate their minds, and ruin their fortunes, to which the Chinese,
who are desperate gamesters, add the use of cards. When all other
property is played away, the Asiatic gambler does not scruple to stake
his wife, or his child, on the cast of a dye, or on the strength and
courage of a martial bird. If still unsuccessful, the last venture is

"In the island of Ceylon, cock-fighting is carried to a great height.
The Sumatrans are addicted to the use of dice. A strong spirit of play
characterizes the Malayan. After having resigned every thing to the good
fortune of the winner, he is reduced to a horrid state of desperation.
He then loosens a certain lock of hair, which indicates war and
destruction to all he meets. He intoxicates himself with opium, and
working himself to a fit of frenzy, he bites and kills every one, who
comes in his way. But as soon as ever this lock is seen flowing, it is
lawful to fire at the person, and to destroy him as soon as possible."

"To discharge their gambling debts, the Siamese sell their possessions,
their families, and at length themselves. The Chinese play night and
day, till they have lost all they are worth, and then they usually go
and hang themselves. In the newly discovered islands of the Pacific
Ocean, they venture even their hatchets, which they hold as invaluable
acquisitions, on running matches. We saw a man, says Cooke, in his last
voyage, beating his breast and tearing his hair in the violence of rage,
for having lost three hatchets at one of these races, and which he had
purchased with nearly half of his property."

But it is not necessary to go beyond our own country for a confirmation
of these evils. Civilized as we are beyond all the people who have been
mentioned, and living where the Christian religion is professed, we have
the misfortune to see our own countrymen engaged in similar pursuits,
and equally to the disturbance of the tranquillity of their minds, and
equally to their own ruin. They cannot, it is true, stake their personal
liberty, because they can neither sell themselves, nor be held as
slaves. But we see them staking their comfort, and all their prospects
in life. We see them driven into a multitude of crimes. We see them
suffering in a variety of ways. How often has duelling, with all its
horrible effects, been the legitimate offspring of gaming! How many
suicides have proceeded from the same source! How many persons in
consequence of a violation of the laws, occasioned solely by gaming,
have come to ignominious and untimely ends!

Thus it appears that gaming, wherever it has been practised to excess,
whether by cards, or by dice, or by other instruments, or whether among
nations civilized or barbarous, or whether in ancient or modern times,
has been accompanied with the most violent excitement of the passions,
so as to have driven its votaries to desperation, and to have ruined
their morality and their happiness.

It is upon the excitement of the passions, which must have risen to a
furious height, before such desperate actions as those, which have been
specified, could have commenced, that the Quakers have founded their
second argument for the prohibition of games of chance, or of any
amusements or transactions, connected with a monied stake. It is one of
their principal tenets, as will be diffusively shewn in a future volume,
that the supreme Creator of the universe affords a certain portion of
his own spirit, or a certain emanation of the pure principle, to all his
rational creatures, for the regulation of their spiritual concerns. They
believe, therefore, that stillness and quietness, both of spirit and of
body, are necessary for them, as far as these can be obtained. For how
can a man, whose earthly passions are uppermost, be in a fit state to
receive, or a man of noisy and turbulent habits be in a fit state to
attend to, the spiritual admonitions of this pure influence? Hence one
of the first points in the education of the Quakers is to attend to the
subjugation of the will; to take care that every perverse passion be
checked; and that the creature be rendered calm and passive. Hence
Quaker children are rebuked for all expressions of anger, as tending to
raise those feelings, which ought to be suppressed. A raising even of
their voices beyond due bounds is discouraged, as leading to the
disturbance of their minds. They are taught to rise in the morning in
quietness, to go about their ordinary occupations with quietness, and to
retire in quietness to their beds. Educated in this manner, we seldom
see a noisy or an irascible Quaker. This kind of education is universal
among the Quakers. It is adopted at home. It is adopted in their
schools. The great and practical philanthropist, John Howard, when he
was at Ackworth, which is the great public school of the Quakers, was so
struck with the quiet deportment of the children there, that he
mentioned it with approbation in his work on Lazarettos, and gave to the
public some of its rules, as models for imitation in other seminaries.

But if the Quakers believe that this pure principle, when attended to,
is an infallible guide to them in their religious or spiritual concerns;
if they believe that its influences are best discovered in the quietness
and silence of their senses; if, moreover, they educate with a view of
producing such a calm and tranquil state; it must be obvious, that they
can never allow either to their children, or to those of maturer years,
the use of any of the games of chance, because these, on account of
their peculiar nature, are so productive of sudden fluctuations of hope,
and fear, and joy, and disappointment, that they are calculated, more
than any other, to promote a turbulence of the human passions.


_Another cause of their prohibition is, that, if indulged in, they may
produce habits of gaming--these habits after the moral character-they
occasion men to become avaricious--dishonest--cruel--and disturbers of
the order of nature--observations by Hartley from his essay on man._

Another reason, why the Quakers do not allow their members the use of
cards, and of similar amusements, is, that, if indulged in, they may
produce habits of gaming, which, if once formed, generally ruin the
moral character.

It is in the nature of cards, that chance should have the greatest share
in the production of victory, and there is, as I have observed before,
usually a monied stake. But where chance is concerned, neither victory
nor defeat can be equally distributed among the combatants. If a person
wins, he feels himself urged to proceed. The amusement also points out
to him the possibility of a sudden acquisition of fortune without the
application of industry. If he loses, he does not despair. He still
perseveres in the contest, for the amusement points out to him the
possibility of repairing his loss. In short, there is no end of hope
upon these occasions. It is always hovering about during the contest.
Cards, therefore, and amusements of the same nature, by holding up
prospects of pecuniary acquisitions on the one hand, and of repairing
losses, that may arise on any occasion, on the other, have a direct
tendency to produce habits of gaming.

Now the Quakers consider these habits as, of all others, the most
pernicious; for they usually change the disposition of a man, and ruin
his moral character.

From generous-hearted they make him avaricious. The covetousness too,
which they introduce as it were into his nature, is of a kind, that is
more than ordinarily injurious. It brings disease upon the body, as it
brings corruption upon the mind. Habitual gamesters regard neither their
own health, nor their own personal convenience, but will sit up night
after night, though under bodily indisposition, at play, if they can
only grasp the object of their pursuit.

From a just and equitable they often render him a dishonest person.
Professed gamesters, it is well known, lie in wait for the young, the
ignorant, and the unwary: and they do not hesitate to adopt fraudulent
practices to secure them as their prey. In toxication has been also
frequently resorted to for the same purpose.

From humane and merciful they change him into hard hearted and
barbarous. Habitual gamesters have compassion foe neither men nor
brutes. The former they can ruin and leave destitute, without the
sympathy of a tear. The latter they can oppress to death, calculating
the various powers of their declining strength, and their capability of
enduring pain.

They convert him from an orderly to a disorderly being, and to a
disturber of the order of the universe. Professed gamesters sacrifice
every thing, without distinction, to their wants, not caring if the
order of nature, or if the very ends of creation, be reversed. They turn
day into night, and night into day. They force animated nature into
situations for which it was never destined. They lay their hands upon
things innocent and useful, and make them noxious. They by hold of
things barbarous, and render them still more barbarous by their

Hartley, in his essay upon man, has the following observation upon

"The practice of playing at games of chance and skill is one of the
principal amusements of life. And it may be thought hard to condemn it
as absolutely unlawful, since there are particular cases of persons,
infirm in body and mind, where it seems requisite to draw them out of
themselves by a variety of ideas and ends in view, which gently engage
the attention.--But the reason takes place in very few instances.--The
general motives to play are avarice, joined with a fraudulent intention
explicit or implicit, ostentation of skill, and spleen, through the
want of some serious, useful occupation. And as this practice arises
from such corrupt sources, so it has a tendency to increase them; and
indeed may be considered as an express method of begetting and
inculcating self-interest, ill will, envy, and the like. For by gaming a
man learns to pursue his own interest solely and explicitly, and to
rejoice at the loss of others, as his own gain, grieve at their gain, as
his own loss, thus entirely reversing the order established by
providence for social creatures."


_Music forbidden--general apology for the Quakers on account of their
prohibition of so delightful a science--music particularly abused at the
present day--wherein this abuse consists--present use of it almost
inseparable from the abuse._

Plato, when he formed what he called his pure republic, would not allow
music to have any place in it. George Fox and his followers were of
opinion, that it could not be admitted in a system of pure Christianity.
The modern Quakers have not differed from their predecessors on this
subject; and therefore music is understood to be prohibited throughout
the society at the present day.

It will doubtless appear strange that there should be found people, to
object to an art, which is capable of being made productive of so much
pleasurable feeling, and which, if it be estimated either by the extent
or the rapidity of its progress, is gaining in the reputation of the
world. But it may be observed that "all that glitters is not gold." So
neither is all, that pleases the ear, perfectly salubrious to the mind.
There are few customs, against which some argument or other may not be
advanced: few in short, which man has not perverted, and where the use
has not become, in an undue measure, connected with the abuse.

Providence gave originally to man a beautiful and a perfect world. He
filled it with things necessary and things delightful. And yet man has
often turned these from their true and original design. The very wood on
the surface of the earth he has cut down, and the very stone and metal
in its bowels he has hewn and cast, and converted into a graven image,
and worshipped in the place of his beneficent Creator. The food, which
has been given him for his nourishment, he has frequently converted by
his intemperance into the means of injuring his health. The wine that
was designed to make his heart glad on reasonable and necessary
occasions, he has used often to the stupefaction of his senses, and the
degradation of his moral character. The very raiment, which has been
afforded him for his body, he has abused also, so that it has frequently
become a source for the excitement of his pride.

Just so it has been, and so it is, with music at the present day.

Music acts upon our senses, and may be made productive of a kind of
natural delight, for in the same manner as we receive, through the organ
of the eye, a kind of involuntary pleasure, when we look at beautiful
arrangements, or combinations, or proportions, in nature, and the
pleasure may be said to be natural, so the pleasure is neither less, nor
less involuntary, nor less natural, which we receive, through the organ
of the ear, from a combination of sounds flowing in musical progression.

The latter pleasure, as it seems natural, so, under certain limitations,
it seems innocent. The first tendency of music, I mean of instrumental,
is to calm and tranquillize the passions. The ideas, which it excites,
are of the social, benevolent, and pleasant kind. It leads occasionally
to joy, to grief, to tenderness, to sympathy, but never to malevolence,
ingratitude, anger, cruelty, or revenge. For no combination of musical
sounds can be invented, by which the latter passions can be excited in
the mind, without the intervention of the human voice.

But notwithstanding that music may be thus made the means both of
innocent and pleasurable feeling, yet it has been the misfortune of man,
as mother cases, to abuse it, and never probably more than in the
present age. For the use of it, as it is at present taught, is almost
inseparable from its abuse. Music has been so generally cultivated, and
to such perfection, that it now ceases to delight the ear, unless it
comes from the fingers of the proficient. But great proficiency cannot
be obtained in this science, without great sacrifices of time. If young
females are to be brought up to it, rather as to a profession, than
introduced to it as a source of occasional innocent recreation, or if
their education is thought most perfect, where their musical attainments
are the highest, not only hours, but even years, must be devoted to the
pursuit. Such a devotion to this one object must, it is obvious, leave
less time than is proper for others, that are more important. The
knowledge of domestic occupations, and the various sorts of knowledge,
that are acquired by reading, must be abridged, in proportion as this
science is cultivated to professional precision. And hence,
independently of any arguments, which the Quakers may advance against
it, it must be acknowledged by the sober world to be chargeable with a
criminal waste of time. And this waste of time is the more to be
deprecated, because it frequently happens, that, when young females
marry, music is thrown aside, after all the years that have been spent
in its acquisition, as an employment, either then unnecessary, or as an
employment, which, amidst the new cares of a family, they have not
leisure to follow.

Another serious charge may be advanced against music, as it is practised
at the present day. Great proficiency, without which music now ceases to
be delightful, cannot, as I have just observed, be made without great
application, or the application of some years. Now all this long
application is of a sedentary nature. But all occupations of a sedentary
nature are injurious to the human constitution, and weaken and disorder
it in time. But in proportion as the body is thus weakened by the
sedentary nature of the employment, it is weakened again by the
enervating powers of the art. Thus the nervous system is acted upon by
two enemies at once, and in the course of the long education necessary
for this science, the different disorders of hysteria are produced.
Hence the females of the present age, amongst whom this art has been
cultivated to excess, are generally found to have a weak and languid
constitution, and to be disqualified, more than others, from becoming
healthy wives, or healthy mothers, or the parents of a healthy progeny.


_Instrumental forbidden--Quakers cannot learn it on the motives of the
world--it is not conducive to the improvement of the moral
character--affords no solid ground of comfort--nor of true elevation of
mind--a sensual gratification--remarks of Cowper--and, if encouraged,
would interfere with the duty recommended by the Quakers, of frequent
religious retirement._

The reader must always bear it in his mind, if the Quakers should differ
from him on any particular subject, that they set themselves apart as a
christian community, aiming at christian perfection: that it is their
wish to educate their children, not as moralists or as philosophers, but
as christians; and that therefore, in determining the propriety of a
practice, they will frequently judge of it by an estimate, very
different from that of the world.

The Quakers do not deny that instrumental music is capable of exciting
delight. They are not insensible either of its power or of its charms.
They throw no imputation on its innocence, when viewed abstractly by
itself; but they do not see anything in it sufficiently useful, to make
it an object of education, or so useful, as to counterbalance other
considerations, which make for its disuse.

The Quakers would think it wrong to indulge in their families the usual
motives for the acquisition of this science. Self-gratification, which
is one of them, and reputation in the world, which is the other, are not
allowable in the Christian system. Add to which that where there is a
desire for such reputation, an emulative disposition is generally
cherished, and envy and vain glory are often excited in the pursuit.

They are of opinion also, that the learning of this art does not tend to
promote the most important object of education, the improvement of the
mind. When a person is taught the use of letters, he is put into the way
of acquiring natural, historical, religious, and other branches of
knowledge, and of course of improving his intellectual and moral
character. But music has no pretensions, in the opinion of the Quakers,
to the production of such an end. Polybius, indeed relates, that he
could give no solid reason, why one tribe of the Arcadians should have
been so civilized, and the others so barbarous, but that the former were
fond, and the latter were ignorant of music. But the Quakers would
argue, that if music had any effect in the civilization, this effect
would be seen in the manners, and not in the morals of mankind. Musical
Italians are esteemed a soft and effeminate, but they are generally
reputed a depraved people. Music, in short, though it breathes soft
influences, cannot yet breathe morality into the mind. It may do to
soften savages, but a christian community, in the opinion of the
Quakers, can admit of no better civilization, than that which the spirit
of the supreme being, and an observance of the pure precepts of
christianity, can produce.

Music, again, does not appear to the Quakers to be the foundation of any
solid comfort in life. It may give spirits for the moment as strong
liquor does, but when the effect of the liquor is over, the spirits
flag, and the mind is again torpid. It can give no solid encouragement
nor hope, nor prospects. It can afford no anchorage ground, which shall
hold the mind in a storm. The early christians, imprisoned, beaten and
persecuted even to death, would have had but poor consolation, if they
had not had a better friend than music to have relied upon in the hour
of their distress. And here I think the Quakers would particularly
condemn music, if they thought it could be resorted to in the hour of
affliction, in as much as it would then have a tendency to divert the
mind from its true and only support.

Music, again, does not appear to them to be productive of elevated
thoughts, that is, of such thoughts as raise the mind to sublime and
spiritual things, abstracted from the inclinations, the temper, and the
prejudices of the world. The most melodious sounds that human
instruments can make, are from the earth earthly. But nothing can rise
higher than its own origin. All true elevation therefore can only come,
in the opinion of the Quakers, from the divine source.

The Quakers therefore, seeing no moral utility in music, cannot make it
a part of their education. But there are other considerations, of a
different nature, which influence them in the same way.

Music, in the first place, is a sensual gratification. Even those who
run after sacred music, never consider themselves as going to a place of
devotion, but where, in full concert, they may hear the performance of
the master pieces of the art. This attention to religious compositions,
for the sake of the music, has been noticed by one of our best poets.

   "and ten thousand sit,
   Patiently present at a sacred song,
   Commemoration-mad, content to hear,
   O wonderful effect of music's power,
   Messiah's eulogy for Handal's sake!"

But the Quakers believe, that all sensual desires should be held in due
subordination to the pure principle, or that sensual pleasures should be
discouraged, to much as possible, as being opposed to those spiritual
feeling, which constitute the only perfect enjoyment of a christian.

Music, again, if it were encouraged in the society, would be considered
as depriving those of maturer years of hours of comfort, which they now
frequently enjoy, in the service of religion. Retirement is considered
by the Quakers as a christian duty. The members therefore of this
society are expected to wait in silence, not only in their places of
worship, but occasionally in their families, or in their private
chambers, in the intervals of their daily occupations, that, in
stillness of heart, and in freedom from the active contrivance of their
own wills, they may acquire both directions and strength for the
performance of the duties of life. The Quakers therefore are of opinion,
that, if instrumental music were admitted as a gratification in leisure
hours, it would take the place of many of these serious retirements, and
become very injurious to their interests and their character as


_Vocal music forbidden--singing in itself no more immoral than reading
--but as vocal music articulates ideas, it may convey poison to the mind
--some ideas in songs contrary to Quaker notions of morality--as
in hunting songs--or in baccanalian--or in martial--youth make no selection
--but learn off that fall in their way._

It is an observation of Lactantius, that the "pleasures we receive
through the organ of the ears, may be as injurious as those we receive,
through the organ of the eyes." He does not, however, consider the
effect of instrumental music as much to be regarded, "because sounds,
which proceed from air, are soon gone, and they give birth to no
sentiments that can be recorded. Songs, on the other hand, or sounds
from the voice, may have an injurious influence on the mind."

The Quakers, in their view of this subject, make the same distinction as
this ancient father of the church. They have a stronger objection, if it
be possible, to vocal, than to instrumental music. Instrumental music,
though it is considered to be productive of sensual delight, is yet
considered as incapable, on account of its inability to articulate, or
its inability to express complex ideas, of conveying either unjust or
impure sentiments to the mind. Vocal, on the other hand, is capable of
conveying to it poison of this sort. For vocal music consists of songs,
or of words musically expressed by the human voice. But words are the
representatives of ideas, and, as for as these ideas are pure or
otherwise, so far may vocal music be rendered innocent or immoral.

The mere singing, it must be obvious, can be no more immoral than the
reading, of the same song, singing is but another mode of expressing it.
The morality of the action will depend upon the words which it may
contain. If the words in a song are pure, if the sentiments in it are
just, and if it be the tendency of these to awaken generous and virtuous
sympathies, the song will operate no otherwise than a lesson of
morality. And will a lesson of morality be less serviceable to us,
because it is dressed up in poetry and musically expressed by the human
voice, than when it is conveyed to us in prose? But if, on the other
hand, the words in a song are in themselves unchaste, if they inculcate
false honour, if they lead to false opinions, if they suggest
sentiments, that have a tendency to produce depraved feelings, then
vocal music, by which these are conveyed in pleasing accents to the ear,
becomes a destroyer of morals, and cannot therefore be encouraged by
any, who consider parity of heart, as required by the christian
religion. Now the Quakers are of opinion, that the songs of the world
contain a great deal of objectionable matter in these respects; and that
if they were to be promiscuously taken up by children, who have no
powers of discriminating between the good and the bad, and who generally
lay hold of all that fall in their way, they would form a system of
sentimental maxims, very injurious in their tendency to their moral

If we were to take a collection of songs as published in books, and were
to examine these, we should find that such a system might easily be
formed. And if, again, we were to examine the sentiments contained in
many of these, by the known sentiments of the Quakers on the several
subjects of each, we should find that, as a highly professing people,
more objections would arise against vocal music among them, than among
other people.

Let us, for example, just glance at that class of songs, which in the
collection would be called hunting songs. In these men are invited to
the pleasures of the chase, as to pleasures of a superior kind. The
triumphs over the timid hare are celebrated in these with a kind of
enthusiastic joy, and celebrated too as triumphs, worthy of the
character of men. Glory Is even attached to these pursuits. But the
Quakers, as it will appear in a future chapter, endeavour to prevent
their youth from following any of the diversions of the field. They
consider pleasures as placed on a false foundation, and triumphs as
unmanly and inglorious, which are founded on circumstances, connected
with the sufferings of the brute creation. They cannot therefore approve
of songs of this order, because they consider them as disseminating
sentiments that are both unreasonable and cruel.

Let us now go to another class, which may be found in the same
collection; I mean the bacchanalian. Men are invited here to sacrifice
frequently at the shrine of Bacchus. Joy, good humour, and fine spirits,
are promised to those, who pour out their libations in a liberal manner.
An excessive use of wine, which injures the constitution, and stupifies
the faculties, instead of being censured in these songs is sometimes
recommended in them, as giving to nature that occasional stimulus, which
is deemed necessary to health. Poets too, in their songs, have
considered the day as made only for vulgar souls, but the night for the
better sort of people, that they may the better pursue the pleasures of
the bottle. Others have gone so far in their songs, as to promise long
life as a consequence of drinking; while others, who confess that human
life may be shortened by such means, take care to throw out, that, as a
man's life thus becomes proportionably abridged, it is rendered
proportionably a merry one. Now the Quakers are so particularly careful
with respect to the use of wine and spirituous liquors, that the society
are annually and publicly admonished to beware of excess. Quakers are
discouraged from going even to inns but for the purposes of business and
refreshment, and are admonished to take care, that they stay there no
longer than is necessary for such purposes. The Quakers therefore,
cannot be supposed to approve of any of the songs of this class, as far
as they recommend or promote drunkenness. And they cannot but consider
them as containing sentiments injurious to the morals of their children.

But let us examine another class of songs, that may be found in the same
collection. These may be denominated martial. Now what is generally the
tenor of these songs? The authors celebrate victories. They endeavour,
regardless of the question, whether their own cause be a right or a
wrong one, to excite joy at the events, it is their aim frequently to
rouse the soul to the performance of martial exploits, as to exploits
the fullest of human glory. They frequently threaten enemies with new
chastisements, and new victories, and breathe the spirit of revenge. But
the Quakers consider all wars, whether offensive or defensive, as
against the spirit of the christian religion. They cannot contemplate
scenes of victory but with the eye of pity, and the tear of compassion,
for the sufferings of their fellow-creatures, whether countrymen or
enemies, and for the devastation of the human race. They allow no glory
to attach, nor do they give any thing like an honourable reputation, to
the Alexanders, the Caesars, or the heroes either of ancient or modern
date. They cannot therefore approve of songs of this class, because they
conceive them to inculcate sentiments, totally contrary to the mild and
peaceful spirit of the christian religion.

If we were to examine the collection farther, we might pick out other
songs, which might be reckoned of the class of the impure. Among these
will be found ideas, so indelicate, that notwithstanding the gloss,
which wit and humour had put over them, the chaste ear could not but be
offended by their recital. It must be obvious, in this case also, that
not only the Quakers, but all persons filling the stations of parents,
would be sorry if their children were to come to the knowledge of some
of these.

It is unnecessary to proceed farther upon this subject. For the reader
must be aware that, while the Quakers hold such sentiments, they can
never patronise such songs; and that if those who are taught or allowed
to sing, generally lay hold of all the songs that come into their way,
that is, promiscuously and without selection. The Quakers will have a
strong ground as a Christian society, or as a society, who hold it
necessary to be watchful over their words as well as their actions, for
the rejection of vocal music.


_The preceding are the arguments of the early Quakers--new state of
music has produced new ones--instrumental now censurable for a waste of
time--for leading into company--for its connection with vocal_.

The arguments which have hitherto appeared against the admission of
music into education, are those which were nearly coeval with the
society itself. The incapability of music to answer moral ends, the
sensuality of the gratification, the impediments it might throw in the
way of religious retirement, the impurity it might convey to the mind,
were in the mouths of the early Quakers. Music at that time was
principally in the hands of those, who made a livelihood of the art.
Those who followed it as an accomplishment, or a recreation, were few
and these followed it with moderation. But since those days, its
progress has been immense. It has traversed the whole kingdom. It has
got into almost all the families of rank and fortune. Many of the middle
classes, in imitation of the higher, have received it; and, as it has
undergone a revolution in the extent, so it has undergone another in the
object of its practice. It is learned now, not as a source of occasional
recreation, but as a complicated science, where perfection is insisted
upon to make it worthy of pursuit. In this new state therefore of music
new arguments have arisen on the part of the Quakers, which I shall now
concisely detail.

The Quakers, in the first place, are of opinion, that the learning of
music, as it is now learned, cannot be admitted by them as a christian
society, because, proficiency being now the object of it, as has been
before observed, it would keep them longer employed, than is consistent
with people, who are commanded to redeem their time.

They believe also that music in its present state, has an immediate
tendency to leading into the company of the world. In former tunes, when
music was followed with moderation, it was esteemed as a companion, or
as a friend: it afforded relaxation after fatigue, and amusement in
solitary hours. It drew a young person to his home, and hindered him
from following many of the idle diversions of the times. But now, or
since it has been practised with a new object, it produces a different
effect. It leads into company. It leads to trials of skill. It leads to
the making up of festive parties. It leads, for its own gratification,
to the various places of public resort. Now this tendency of leading
into public is considered by the Quakers as a tendency big with the
dissolution of their society. For they have many customs to keep up,
which are quite at variance with those of the world. The former appear
to be steep and difficult as common paths. Those of the world to be
smooth and easy. The natural inclination of youth, more prone to
self-gratification than to self-denial, would prefer to walk in the
latter. And the influence of fashion would point to the same choice. The
liberty too, which is allowed in the one case, seems more agreeable than
the discipline imposed in the other. Hence it has been found, that in
proportion as young Quakers mix with the world, they generally imbibe
its spirit, and weaken themselves as members of their own body.

The Quakers again, have an objection to the learning of instrumental
music on account of its almost inseparable connection with vocal, in
consequence of which, it leads often to the impurity, which the latter
has been shewn to be capable of conveying to the mind.

This connection does not arise so much from the circumstance, that
those, who learn to play, generally learn to sing, as from another
consideration. Musical people, who have acquired skill and taste, are
desirous of obtaining every new musical publication, as it comes out.
This desire is produced where there is an aim at perfection in this
science. The professed novel reader, we know, waits with impatience for
a new novel. The politician discovers anxiety for his morning paper.
Just so it is with the musical amateur with respect to a new tune. Now,
though many of the new compositions come out for instrumental music
only, yet others come out entirely as vocal. These consist of songs sung
at our theatres, or at our public gardens, or at our other places of
public resort, and are afterwards printed with their music, and exposed
to sale. The words therefore, of these songs, as well as the music that
is attached to them, fall into the hands of the young amateur. Now as
such songs are not always chaste, or delicate, and as they frequently
contain such sentiments, as I have shewn the Quakers to disapprove, the
young musician, if a Quaker, might have his modestey frequently put to
the blush, or his delicacy frequently wounded, or his morality often
broken in upon, by their perusal. Hence, though instrumental music might
have no immoral tendency in itself, the Quakers have rejected it, among
other reasons, on account of its almost inseparable connection with


_Objection anticipated, that though the arguments, used by the Quakers
in the preceding chapters, are generally fair and positive, yet an
exceptionable one seems to have been introduced, by which it appears to
be inculcated, that the use of a thing ought to be abandoned on account
of its abuse--explanation of the distinction, made by the Quakers, in
the use of this argument_.

I purpose to stop for a while, and to make a distinction, which may now
become necessary, with respect to the use of what may appear to be a
Quaker principle of argument, before I proceed to a new subject.

It may have been observed by some of my readers, that though the Quakers
have adduced arguments, which may be considered as fair and positive on
the subjects, which have come before us, yet they appear to have adduced
one, which is no other, than that of condemning the use of a thing on
account of its abuse. Now this mode of reasoning, it will be said has
been exploded by logicians, and for this, among other reasons, that if
we were bound to relinquish customs in consequence of it, we should be
obliged to give up many things that are connected with the comforts, and
even with the existence of our lives.

To this observation I must reply, that the Quakers never recommend an
abstinence from any custom, merely because the use of it may lead to its

Where a custom is simply liable to abuse, they satisfy themselves with
recommending moderation in the use of it.

But where the abuse of a custom is either, in the first place,
necessarily, or, in the second very generally connected with the use of
it, they generally consider the omission of it as morally wise and
prudent. It is in these two cases only that they apply, or that they lay
any stress upon the species of argument described.

This species of argument, under these two limitations, they believe to
be tenable in christian morals, and they entertain this belief upon the
following grounds.

It may be laid down as a position, that the abuse of any custom which is
innocent in itself, is an evil, and that it may become a moral evil. And
they conceive it to become a moral evil in the eye of christianity, when
it occasions either the destruction of the health of individuals, or
the misapplication of their time, or the excitement of their worst
passions, or the loss of their moral character.

If therefore the use of any custom be necessarily (which is the first of
the two cases) connected with its abuse, and the abuse of it be the
moral evil described, the user or practiser cannot but incur a certain
degree of guilt. This first case will comprehend all those uses of
things, which go under the denomination of gaming.

If again, the use of a custom be either through the influence of
fashion, or its own seductive nature, or any other cause, very generally
(which is the second case) connected with its abuse, and the abuse be
also of the nature supposed, then the user or practiser, if the custom
be unnecessary, throws himself wantonly into danger of evil, contrary to
the watchfulness which christianity enjoins in morals; and, if he falls,
falls by his own fault. This watchfulness against moral danger the
Quakers conceive to be equally incumbent upon Christians, as
watchfulness upon persons against the common dangers of life. If two
thirds of all the children, who had ever gone to the edge of a precipice
to play, had fallen down and been injured, it would be a necessary
prudence in parents to prohibit all such goings in future. So they
conceive it to be only a necessary prudence in morals, to prohibit
customs, where the use of them is very generally connected with a
censurable abuse. This case will comprehend music, as practised at the
present day, because they believe it to be injurious to health, to
occasion a waste of time, to create an emulative disposition, and to
give an undue indulgence to sensual feeling.

And as the Quakers conceive this species of argument to be tenable in
Christian morals, so they hold it to be absolutely necessary to be
adopted in the education of youth. For grown up persons may have
sufficient judgment to distinguish between the use of a thing and its
abuse. They may discern the boundaries of each, and enjoy the one, while
they avoid the other. But youth have no such power of discrimination.
Like inexperienced mariners, they know not where to look for the deep
and the shallow water, and, allured by enchanting circumstances, they
may, like those who are reported to have been enticed by the voices of
the fabulous Syrens, easily overlook the danger, that assuredly awaits
them in their course.


_The theatre--the theatre as well as music abused--plays respectable in
their origin--but degenerated--Solon, Plato, and the ancient moralists
against them--particularly immoral in England in the time of Charles
the second--forbidden by George Fox--sentiments of Archbishop
Tillotson--of William Law--English plays better than formerly, but still
objectionable--prohibition of George Fox continued by the Quakers._

It is much to be lamented that customs, which originated in respectable
motives, and which might have been made productive of innocent pleasure,
should have been so perverted in time, that the continuation of them
should be considered as a grievance by moral men. As we have seen this
to be the case, in some measure, with respect to music, so it is the
care with respect to plays.

Dramatic compositions appear to have had no reprehensible origin. It
certainly was an object with the authors of some of the earliest plays
to combine the entertainment with the moral improvement of the mind.
Tragedy was at first simply a monody to Bacohus. But the tragedy of the
ancients, from which the modern is derived, did not arise in the world,
till the dialogue and the chorus were introduced. Now the chorus, as
every scholar knows, was a moral office. They who filled it, were loud
in their recommendations of justice and temperance. They inculcated a
religious observance of the laws. They implored punishment on the
abandoned. They were strenuous in their discouragement of vice, and in
the promotion of virtue. This office therefore, being coeval with
tragedy itself, preserves it from the charge of an immoral origin.

Nor was comedy, which took its rise afterwards, the result of corrupt
motives. In the most ancient comedies, we find it to have been the great
object of the writers to attack vice. If a chief citizen had acted
inconsistently with his character, he was ridiculed upon the stage. His
very name was not concealed on the occasion. In the course of time
however, the writers of dramatic pieces were forbidden to use the names
of the persons, whom they proposed to censure. But we find them still
adhering to the same great object, the exposure of vice; and they
painted the vicious character frequently so well, that the person was
soon discovered by the audience, though disguised by a fictitious name.
When new restrictions, were afterwards imposed upon the writers of such
pieces, they produced a new species of comedy. This is that which
obtains at the present day. It consisted of an imitation of the manners
of common life. The subject, the names, and the characters, belonging
to it, were now all of them feigned. Writers, however, retained their
old object of laughing at folly and of exposing vice.

Thus it appears that the theatre, as far as tragedy was employed,
inculcated frequently as good lessons of morality, as heathenism could
produce, and as far as comedy was concerned, that it became often the
next remedy, after the more grave and moral lectures of the ancient
philosophers, against the prevailing excesses of the times.

But though the theatre professed to encourage virtue, and to censure
vice, yet such a combination of injurious effects was interwoven with
the representations there, arising either from the influence of fiction
upon morals, or from the sight of the degradation of the rational
character by buffoonery, or from the tendency of such representations to
produce levity and dissipation, or from various other causes, that they,
who were the greatest lovers of virtue in those days, and the most
solicitous of improving the moral condition of man, began to consider
them as productive of much more evil than of good. Solon forewarned
Thespis, that the effects of such plays, as he saw him act, would become
in time injurious to the morals of mankind, and he forbade him to act
again. The Athenians, though such performances were afterwards allowed,
would never permit any of their judges to compose a comedy. The
Spartans under Lycurgus, who were the most virtuous of all the people of
Greece, would not suffer either tragedies or comedies to be acted at
all. Plato, as he had banished music, so he banished theatrical
exhibitions from his pure republic. Seneca considered, that vice made
insensible approaches by means of the stage, and that it stole on the
people in the disguise of pleasure. The Romans, in their purer times,
considered the stage to be so disgraceful, that every Roman was to be
degraded, who became an actor, and so pernicious to morals, that they
put it under the power of a censor, to control its effects.

But the stage, in the time of Charles the second, when the Quakers first
appeared in the world, was in a worse state than even in the Grecian or
Roman times. If there was ever a period in any country, when it was
noted as the school of profligate and corrupt morals, it was in this
reign. George Fox therefore, as a christian reformer, could not be
supposed to be behind the heathen philosophers, in a case where morality
was concerned. Accordingly we find him protesting publicly against all
such spectacles. In this protest, he was joined by Robert Barclay and
William Penn, two of the greatest men of those times, who in their
respective publications attacked them with great spirit. These
publications shewed the sentiments of the Quakers, as a religious body,
upon this subject. It was understood that no Quaker could be present at
amusements of this sort. And this idea was confirmed by the sentiments
and advices of several of the most religious members, which were
delivered on public occasions. By means of these publications and
advices the subject was kept alive, till it became at length
incorporated into the religious discipline of the Quakers. The theatre
was then specifically forbidden; and an inquiry was annually to be made
from thenceforward, whether any of the members of the society had been
found violating the prohibition.

Since the time of Charles the second, when George Fox entered his
protest against exhibitions of this sort, it must certainly be
confessed, that an alteration has taken place for the better in the
constitution of our plays, and that poison is not diffused into morals,
by means of them, to an equal extent, as at that period. The mischief
has been considerably circumscribed by legal inspection, and, it is to
be hoped, by the improved civilization of the times. But it does not
appear by any historical testimony we have, that a change has been made,
which is at all proportioned to the quantity of moral light, which has
been diffused among us since that reign. Archbishop Tillotson was of
opinion, "that plays might be so framed, and they might be governed by
such rules, as not only to be innocently diverting, but instructive and
useful to put some follies and vices out of countenance, which could not
perhaps be so decently reproved, nor so effectually exposed or corrected
any other way." And yet he confesses, that, "they were so full of
profaneness, and that they instilled such bad principles into the mind,
in his own day, that they ought not to have been tolerated in any
civilized, and much less in a Christian nation." William Law, an eminent
divine of the establishment, who lived after Tillitson, declared in one
of his publications on the subject of the stage, that "you could not
then see a play in either house, but what abounded with thoughts,
passages, and language contrary to the Christian religion." From the
time of William Law to the present about forty years have elapsed, and
we do not see, if we consult the controversial writers on the subject,
who live among us, that the theatre has become much less objectionable
since those days. Indeed if the names only of our modern plays were to
be collected and published, they would teach us to augur very
unfavourably as to the morality of their contents. The Quakers
therefore, as a religions body, have seen no reason, why they should
differ in opinion from their ancestors on this subject: and hence the
prohibition which began in former times with respect to the theatre, is
continued by them at the present day.


_Theatre forbidden by the Quakers on account of the manner of the
drama--first, as it personates the character of others--secondly, as it
professes to reform vice_.

The Quakers have many reasons to give, why, as a society of christians
they cannot encourage the theatre, by being present at any of its
exhibitions. I shall not detail all of them for the reader, but shall
select such only, as I think most material to the point.

The first class of arguments comprehends such as relate, to what may be
called the manner of the drama. The Quakers object to the manner of the
drama, or to its fictitious nature, in consequence of which men
personate characters, that are not their own. This personification they
hold to be injurious to the man, who is compelled to practise it. Not
that he will partake of the bad passions, which he personates, but that
the trick and trade of representing what he does not feel, must make him
at all times an actor; and his looks, and words, and actions, will be
all sophisticated. And this evil will be likely to continue with him in
the various changes of his life.

They hold it also to be contrary to the spirit of Christianity. For men
who personate characters in this way, express joy and grief, when in
reality there may be none of these feelings in their hearts. They
express noble sentiments, when their whole lives may have been
remarkable for their meanness, and go often afterwards and wallow in
sensual delights. They personate the virtuous character to day, and
perhaps to-morrow that of the rake, and, in the latter case, they utter
his profligate sentiments, and speak his profane language. Now
Christianity requires simplicity and truth. It allows no man to pretend
to be what he is not. And it requires great circumspection of its
followers with respect to what they may utter, because it makes every
man accountable for his idle words.

The Quakers therefore are of opinion, that they cannot as men, either
professing christian tenets, or christian love, encourage others to
assume false characters, or to [5] personate those which are not their

[Footnote 5: Rousseau condemns the stage upon the same principle. "It
is, says he, the art of dissimulation--of assuming a foreign character,
and of appearing differently from what a man really is--of flying into a
passion without a cause, and of saying what he does not think, as
naturally as if he really did--in a word of forgetting himself to
personate others."]

They object also to the manner of the drama, even where it professes to
be a school for morals. For where it teaches morality, it inculcates
rather the refined virtue of heathenism, than the strict, though mild
discipline of the gospel. And where it attempts to extirpate vice, it
does it rather by making it ridiculous, than by making men shun it for
the love of virtue. It no where fixes the deep christian principle, by
which men are bound to avoid it as sin, but places the propriety of the
dereliction of it rather upon the loss of reputation among the world,
than upon any sense of religious duty.


_Theatre forbidden an account of the internal contents of the
drama--both of those of tragedy--and of comedy--these contents hold out
false morals and prospects--and weaken the sinews of morality
--observations of Lord Kaimes upon the subject._

The next class of arguments is taken from the internal contents of the

The Quakers mean that dramatic compositions generally contain false
sentiments, that is, such as christianity would disapprove; that, of
course they hold out false prospects; that they inculcate false morals;
and that they have a tendency from these, and other of their internal
contents, to promote dissipation, and to weaken the sinews of morality
in those who see them represented upon the stage.

Tragedy is considered by the Quakers, as a part of the drama, where the
hero is generally a warrior, and where a portion of human happiness is
made to consist of martial glory. Hence it is considered as frequently
inculcating proud and lofty sentiments, as cherishing a fierce and
romantic spirit, as encouraging rival enmities, as holding of no
importance the bond of love and union between man and man. Now as
christianity enjoins humility, peace, quietness, brotherly affection,
and charity, which latter is not to be bounded by the limits of any
country, the Quakers hold as a christian body, that they cannot admit
their children to spectacles, which have a tendency to engender a
disposition opposite to these.

Comedy is considered as holding out prospects, and inculcating morals,
equally false and hurtful. In such compositions, for example, a bad
impression is not uniformly given of a bad character. Knavery frequently
accomplishes its ends without the merited punishment. Indeed treachery
and intrigue are often considered but as jocose occurrences. The laws of
modern honour are frequently held out to the spectator, as laws that are
to influence in life. Vulgar expressions, and even swearing are admitted
upon the stage. Neither is chastity nor delicacy always consulted there.
Impure allusions are frequently interwoven into the dialogue, so that
innocence cannot but often blush. Incidents not very favourable to
morals, are sometimes introduced. New dissipated characters are produced
to view, by the knowledge of which, the novice in dissipation is not
diverted from his new and baneful career, but finds only his scope of
dissipation enlarged, and a wider field to range in. To these hurtful
views of things, as arising from the internal structure, are to be added
those, which arise from the extravagant love-tales, the ridiculous
intrigues, and the silly buffoonery of the compositions of the stage.

Now it is impossible, the Quakers contend, that these ingredients, which
are the component parts of comic amusements, should not have an
injurious influence upon the mind that is young and tender and
susceptible of impressions. If the blush which first started upon the
cheek of a young person on the first hearing of an indecorous or profane
sentiment, and continued for some time to be excited at repetitions of
the same, should at length be so effectually laid asleep, that the
impudent language of ribaldry can awaken it no more, it is clear, that a
victory will have been gained over his moral feelings: and if he should
remember (and what is to hinder him, when the occurrences of the stage
are marked with strong action, and accompanied with impressive scenery)
the language, the sentiments, the incidents, the prospects, which
dramatic pieces have brought before him, he may combine these, as they
rise to memory, with his own feelings, and incorporate them
imperceptibly into the habits and manners of his own life. Thus, if vice
be not represented as odious, he may lose his love of virtue. If
buffoonery should be made to please him, he may lose the dignity of his
mind. Love-tales may produce in him a romantic imagination. Low
characters may teach him low cunning. If the laws of honour strike him
as the laws of refined life, he may become a fashionable moralist. If
modes of dissipation strike him us modes of pleasure in the estimation
of the world, he may abandon himself to these, and become a rake. Thus
may such representations, in a variety of ways, act upon the moral
principle, and make an innovation there, detrimental to his moral

Lord Kaimes, in his elements of criticism, has the following

"The licentious court of Charles the second, among its many disorders,
engendered a pest, the virulence of which subsists to this day. The
English comedy, copying the manners of the court, became abominably
licentious; and continues so with very little softening. It is there an
established rule to deck out the chief characters with every vice in
fashion however gross; but as such characters, if viewed in a true
light, would be disgustful, care is taken to disguise their deformity
under the embellishments of wit, sprightliness and good humour, which,
in mixed company makes a capital figure. It requires not much thought to
discover the poisonous influence of such plays. A young man of figure,
emancipated at last from the severity and restraint of a college
education, repairs to the capital disposed to every sort of excess. The
play-house becomes his favourite amusement, and he is enchanted with the
gaiety and splendour of the chief personages. The disgust which vice
gives him at first, soon wears off to make way for new notions, more
liberal in his opinion, by which a sovereign contempt of religion, and a
declared war upon the chastity of wives, maids and widows, are converted
from being infamous vices to be fashionable virtues. The infection
spreads gradually through all ranks and becomes universal. How gladly
would I listen to any one, who should undertake to prove, that what I
have been describing is chimerical! But the dissoluteness of our young
men of birth will not suffer me to doubt its reality. Sir Harry Wildair
has completed many a rake; and in the suspicious husband, Ranger, the
humble imitator of Sir Harry, has had no slight influence in spreading
that character. What woman, tinctured with the play-house morals, would
not be the sprightly, the witty, though dissolute Lady Townley, rather
than the cold, the sober, though virtuous Lady Grace? How odious ought
writers to be who thus employ the talents they have from their maker
most traitorously against himself, by endeavouring to corrupt and
disfigure his creatures! If the comedies of Congreve did not rack him
with remorse in his last moments, he must have been lost to all sense of


_The theatre forbidden--because injurious to the happiness of man by
disqualifying him for the pleasures of religion--this effect arises
from its tendency to accustom individuals to light thoughts--to injure
their moral feelings--to occasion an extraordinary excitement of the
mind--and from the very nature of the enjoyments which it produces._

As the Quakers consider the theatre to have an injurious effect on the
morality of man, so they consider it to have an injurious effect on his
happiness. They believe that amusements of this sort, but particularly
the comic, unfit the mind for the practical performance of the christian
duties, and that as the most pure and substantial happiness, that man
can experience, is derived from a fulfilment of these, so they deprive
him of the highest enjoyment of which his nature is capable, that is, of
the pleasures of religion.

If a man were asked, on entering the door of the theatre, if he went
there to learn the moral duties, he would laugh at the absurdity of the
question; and if he would consent to give a fair and direct answer, he
would either reply, that he went there for amusement, or to dissipate
gloom, or to be made merry. Some one of these expressions would probably
characterise his errand there. Now this answer would comprise the
effect, which the Quakers attach to the comic performances of the stage.
They consider them as drawing the mind from serious reflection, and
disposing it to levity. But they believe that a mind, gradually
accustomed to light thoughts, and placing its best gratification in
light objects, must be disqualified in time for the gravity of religious
exercise, and be thus hindered from partaking of the pleasures which
such an exercise must produce.

They are of opinion also, that such exhibitions, having, as was lately
mentioned, a tendency to weaken the moral character, must have a
similarly injurious effect. For what innovations can be made on the
human heart, so as to seduce it from innocence, that will not
successively wean it both from the love and the enjoyment of the
Christian virtues?

The Quakers also believe, that dramatic exhibitions have a power of vast
excitement of the mind. If they have no such power, they are insipid. If
they have, they are injurious. A person is all the evening at a play in
an excited state. He goes home, and goes to bed with his imagination
heated, and his passions roused. The next morning he rises. He remembers
what he has seen and heard, the scenery, the language, the sentiments,
the action. He continues in the same excited state for the remainder of
the day. The extravagant passions of distracted lovers, the wanton
addresses of actors, are still fresh upon his mind. Now it is contended
by the Quakers, that a person in such an excited state, but particularly
if the excitement pleases, must be in a very unfavourable state for the
reception of the pure principle, or for the promotion of the practical
duties of religion. It is supposed that if any religious book, or if any
part of the sacred writings, were handed to him in these moments, he
would be incapable of enjoying them; and of course, that religious
retirement, which implies an abstraction from the tilings of the world,
would be impracticable at such a season.

The Quakers believe also, that the exhibitions of the drama must, from
their own nature, without any other consideration, disqualify for the
pleasures of religion. It was a frequent saying of George Fox, taken
from the apostle Peter, that those who indulged in such pleasures were
dead, while they were alive; that is, they were active in their bodies;
they ran about briskly after their business or their pleasures; they
shewed the life of their bodily powers; but they were extinct as to
spiritual feeling. By this he meant that the pleasures of the theatre,
and others of a similar nature, were in direct opposition to the
pleasures of religion. The former were from the world worldly. They were
invented according to the dispositions and appetites of men. But the
latter were from the spirit spiritual. Hence there was no greater
difference between life and death, than between these pleasures. Hence
the human mind was made incapable of receiving both at the same time;
and hence the deeper it were to get into the enjoyment of the former,
the less qualified it must become of course for the enjoyment of the


_Theatre forbidden--because injurious to the happiness of man by
disqualifying him for domestic enjoyments--Quakers value these next to
the pleasures of religion--sentiments of Cowper--theatre has this
tendency, by weaning gradually from a love of home--and has it in a
greater degree than any other of the amusements of the world._

The Quakers, ever since the institution of their society, have abandoned
the diversions of the world. They have obtained their pleasures from
other quarters. Some of these they have found in one species of
enjoyment, and others in another. But those, which they particularly
prize, they have found in the enjoyment of domestic happiness; and these
pleasures they value next to the pleasures of religion.

   [6] "Domestic happiness, thou only bliss
   Of Paradise, that has survived the fall!
   Thou art the nurse of virtue--In thine arms
   She smiles, appearing, as in truth she is,
   Heav'n-born, and destin'd to the skies again.
   Thou art not known, where pleasure is ador'd,
   That reeling goddess, with a zoneless waist
   And wandering eyes, still leaning on the arm
   Of Novelty, her fickle, frail support;
   For thou art meek and constant, hating change,
   And finding, in the calm of truth-tried love,
   Joys, that her stormy raptures never yield.
   Forsaking thee, what shipwreck have we made
   Of honour, dignity, and fair renown!"

[Footnote 6: COWPER.]

But if the Quakers have been accustomed to place one of the sources of
their pleasures in domestic happiness, they may be supposed to be
jealous of every thing that appears to them to be likely to interrupt
it. But they consider dramatic exhibitions, as having this tendency.
These exhibitions, under the influence of plot, dialogue, dress, music,
action, and scenery, particularly fascinate. They excite the person, who
has once seen them, to desire them again. But in proportion as this
desire is gratified, or in proportion as people leave their homes for
the amusements of the stage, they lose their relish, and weaken their
powers, of the enjoyment of domestic society: that is, the Quakers mean
to say, that domestic enjoyments, and those of the theatre, may become,
in time, incompatible in the same persons; and that the theatre ought,
therefore, to be particularly avoided, as an enemy, that may steal them,
and rob them of those pleasures, which experience has taught them to
value, as I have observed before, next to the pleasures of religion.

They are of opinion also, that dramatic exhibitions not only tend, of
themselves, to make home less agreeable, but that they excite a craving
for stimulants, and, above all, teach a dependence upon external objects
for amusement. Hence the attention of people is taken off again to new
objects of pleasure, which lie out of their own families, and out of the
circle of their friends.

It will not take much time to shew, that the Quakers have not been
mistaken in this point. It is not unusual in fashionable circles, where
the theatre is regularly brought into the rounds of pleasure, for the
father and the mother of a family to go to a play once, or occasionally
twice, a week. But it seldom happens, that they either go to the same
theatre, or that they sit together. Their children are at this time left
at home, under, what is considered to be, proper care, but they are
probably never seen again by them till the next noon; and perhaps once
afterwards in the same day, when it is more than an even chance, that
they must be again left for the gratification of some new pleasure. Now
this separation of fathers from mothers, and of parents from children,
does not augur well of domestic enjoyments or of a love of home.

But we will trace the conduct of the parents still farther. We will get
into their company at their own houses; and here we shall very soon
discover, how wearisome they consider every hour, that is spent in the
bosom of their families, when deprived of their accustomed amusements;
and with what anxiety they count the time, when they are to be restored
to their favourite rounds of pleasure. We shall find no difficulty in
judging also from their conversation, the measure of their thought or
their solicitude about their children. A new play is sure to claim the
earliest attention or discussion. The capital style, in which an actor
performed his part on a certain night, furnishes conversation for an
hour. Observations on a new actress perhaps follow. Such subjects appear
more interesting to such persons, than the innocent conversation, or
playful pranks, of their children. If the latter are noisy, they are
often sent out of the room as troublesome, though the same parents can
bear the stunning plaudits, or the discordant groans and hissings of the
audience at the theatre. In the mean time their children grow up, and in
their turn, are introduced by their parents to these amusements, as to
places, proper for the dissipation of vacant hours; till, by frequent
attendances, they themselves lose an affection for home and the domestic
duties, and have in time as little regard for their parents, as their
parents appear to have had for them. Marrying at length, not for the
enjoyment of domestic society, they and their children perpetuate the
same rounds of pleasure, and the same sentiments and notions.

To these instances many indeed might be added, by looking into the
family-histories of those, who are in the habit of frequenting theatres
in search of pleasure, by which it would appear, that such amusements
are not friendly to the cherishing of the domestic duties and
affections, but that, on the other hand, in proportion as they are
followed, they tend to sap the enjoyments of domestic life. And here it
may be observed, that of all the amusements, which go to the making up
of the round of pleasures, the theatre has the greatest share in
diverting from the pleasures of home. For it particularly attracts and
fascinates, both from the nature, and the diversity, of the amusements
it contains. It is also always open, in the season, for resort. So that
if private invitations to pleasure should not come in sufficiently
numerous, or should be broken off by the indisposition of the parties,
who give them, the theatre is always ready to supply any vacancy, that
may be occasioned in the round.


_Quakers conceive they can sanction no amusements, but such as could
have originated in christian minds--exhibitions of the drama could have
had, they believe, no such origin--early christians abandoned them in
their conversion--arguments of the latter on this subject, as taken
from Tertullian, Minucius Felix, Cyprian, Lactantius and others._

The Quakers conceive, as a christian society, that they ought to have
nothing to do with any amusements, but such as christians could have
invented themselves, or such as christians could have sanctioned, by
becoming partakers of them. But they believe that dramatic exhibitions
are of such a nature as men of a christian spirit could never have
invented or encouraged, and that, if the world were to begin again, and
were to be peopled by pure christians, these exhibitions could never be
called into existence there.

This inference, the Quakers judge to be deducible from the nature of a
christian mind. A man, who is in the habit, at his leisure hours, of
looking into the vast and stupendous works of creation, of contemplating
the wisdom, goodness, and power of the creator, of trying to fathom the
great and magnificent plans of his providence, who is in the habit of
surveying all mankind with the philosophy of revealed religion, of
tracing, through the same unerring channel, the uses and objects of
their existence, the design of their different ranks and situations,
the nature of their relative duties and the like, could never, in the
opinion of the Quakers, have either any enjoyment, or be concerned in
the invention, of dramatic exhibitions. To a mind, in the habit of
taking such an elevated flight, it is supposed that every thing on the
stage must look little, and childish, and out of place. How could a
person of such a mind be delighted with the musical note of a fiddler,
the attitude of a dancer, the impassioned grimace of an actor? How could
the intrigue, or the love-sick tale of the composition please him? or
how could he have imagined, that these could be the component parts of a
christian's joys?

But this inference is considered by the Quakers to be confirmed by the
practice of the early christians. These generally had been Pagans. They
had of course Pagan dispositions. They followed Pagan amusements, and,
among these, the exhibitions of the stage. But soon after their
conversion, that is, when they had received new minds, and when they had
exercised these on new and sublime subjects, or, on subjects similar to
those described, or, in other words, when they had received the
regenerated spirit of christians, they left the amusements of the stage,
notwithstanding that, by this act of singularity in a sensual age, they
were likely to bring upon themselves the odium and the reproaches of
the world.

But when the early christians abandoned the theatre, they abandoned it,
as the Quakers contend, not because, leaving Paganism they were to
relinquish all customs that were Pagan, but because they saw in their
new religion, or because they saw in this newness of their minds,
reasons, which held out such amusements to be inadmissible, while they
considered themselves in the light of christians. These reasons are
sufficiently displayed by the writers of the second, third, and fourth
centuries; and as they are alluded to by the Quakers, though never
quoted, I shall give them to the reader. He will judge by these, how far
the ancient coincide with the modern christians upon this subject; and
how for these arguments of antiquity are applicable to modern times.

The early christians, according to Tertullian, Menucius Felix, Cyprian,
Lactantius, and others, believed, that the "motives for going to these
amusements were not of the purest sort. People went to them without any
view of the improvement of their minds. The motive was either to see or
to be seen."

They considered the manner of the drama as objectionable. They believed
"that he who was the author of truth, could never approve of that which
was false, and that he, who condemned hypocrisy, could never approve of
him, who personated the character of others; and that those therefore,
who pretended to be in love, or to be angry, or to grieve, when none of
those passions existed in their minds, were guilty of a kind of adultery
in the eyes of the Supreme Being."

They considered their contents to be noxious. They "looked upon them as
consistories of immorality. They affirmed that things were spoken there
which it did not become christians to hear, and that things were shewn
there, which it did not become christians to see; and that, while these
things polluted those from whom they come, they polluted those in time,
in whose sight and hearing they were shewn or spoken."

They believed also, "that these things not only polluted the spectators,
but that the representations of certain characters upon the stage
pointed out to them the various roads to vice, and inclined them to
become the persons, whom they had seen represented, or to be actors in
reality of what they had seen feigned upon the stage."

They believed again, "that dramatic exhibitions produced a frame of mind
contrary to that, which should exist in a christian's breast; that there
was nothing to be seen upon the stage, that could lead or encourage him
to devotion; but, on the other hand, that the noise and fury of the
play-house, and the representations there, produced a state of
excitement, that disturbed the internal man. Whereas the spirit of a
christian ought to be calm, and quiet, and composed, to fit it for the
duties of religion."

They believed also, "that such promiscuous assemblages of men and women
were not favourable to virtue; for that the sparks of the passions were
there blown into a flame."

Tertullian, from whom some of the above opinions are taken, gives an
invitation to those who were fond of public spectacles, in nearly the
following terms.

Are you fond, says he, of the scenic doctrine, or of theatrical sights
and compositions? We have plenty of books for you to read. We can give
you works in prose and in verse. We can give you apothegms and hymns. We
cannot to besure, give you fictitious plots or fables, but we can give
you truths. We cannot give you strophies, or the winding dances of the
chorus, but we can give you simplicities, or plain and straightforward
paths. Are you fond of seeing contests or trials for victory? You shall
see these also, and such as are not trivial, but important. You may see,
in our christian example, chastity overcoming immodesty. You may see
faithfulness giving a death-wound to perfidy. You may see mercy getting
the better of cruelty. You may see modesty and delicacy of sentiment
overcoming impurity and impudence. These are the contests in which it
becomes us christians to be concerned, and where we ought to endeavour
to receive the prize.

CHAP. V.... SECT. I.

_Dancing forbidden--Greeks and Romans differed on this subject--motive
on which the Greeks encouraged dancing--motive on which the moderns
encouraged it--way in which the Quakers view it--the arguments which
they use against it._

As the Quakers have thought it right to prohibit music, and
stage-entertainments, to the society, so they have thought it proper to
prohibit dancing, none of their children being allowed any instruction
in the latter art.

It is remarkable that two of the most civilized nations, as well as two
of the wisest men of antiquity, should have differed in their opinions
with respect to dancing. The Greeks considered it as a wise and an
honourable employment; and most of the nations therefore under that
appellation inserted it into their system of education. The name of
dancer was so honourable, as to be given to some of their gods. Statues
are recorded to have been erected to good dancers. Socrates is said to
have admired dancing so much, as to have learnt it in his old age.
Dancing, on the other hand, was but little regarded at Rome. It was not
admitted even within the pale of accomplishments. It was considered at
best as a sorry and trivial employment. Cicero says,

"Nemo, fere saltat sobrius, nisi forte insanit, neque in solitudine,
neque in convivio honesto." That is, "No man dances, in private, or at
any respectable entertainment, except he be drunk or mad."

We collect at least from the above statement, that people of old, who
were celebrated for their wisdom, came to very different conclusions
with respect to the propriety of the encouragement of this art.

Those nations among the ancients, which encouraged dancing, did it upon
the principle, that it led to an agility of body, and a quickness of
motion, that would be useful in military evolutions and exploits. Hence
swiftness of foot was considered to be an epithet, as honourable as any
that could be given to a warrior.

The moderns, on the other hand, encourage dancing, or at least defend it
upon different principles. They consider it as producing a handsome
carriage of the body; as leading to a graceful and harmonious use of
the limbs; and as begetting an erectness of position, not more
favourable to the look of a person than to his health.

That dancing produces dispositions of this sort cannot be denied, though
certainly not to the extent which many have imagined. Painters, who
study nature the most, and are the best judges of the appearance of the
human frame, are of opinion, that modern dancing does not produce
natural figures or at least such as they would choose for their
respective compositions. The military exercise has quite as great a
share as dancing in the production of these dispositions. And there are
certainly men, who were never taught either the military exercise or
dancing, whose deportment is harmonious and graceful.

The Quakers think it unnecessary to teach their children dancing, as an
accomplishment, because they can walk, and carry their persons with
sufficient ease and propriety without it.

They think it unnecessary also, because, however the practice of it may
be consistent with the sprightliness of youth, they could never sanction
it in maturer age. They expect of the members of their society, that
they should abandon amusements, and substitute useful and dignified
pursuits, when they become men. But they cannot consider dancing but as
an employment that is useless, and below the dignity of the
christian-character in persons, who have come to years of discretion. To
initiate therefore a youth of twelve or thirteen years of age into
dancing, when he must relinquish it at twenty, would, in their opinion,
be a culpable waste of his time.

The Quakers, again, cannot view dancing abstractedly, for no person
teaches or practises it abstractedly; but they are obliged to view it,
in connection with other things. If they view it with its usual
accompaniment of music, it would be inconsistent, they think, to
encourage it, when they have banished music from their republic. If they
view it as connected with an assemblage of persons, they must, they
conceive, equally condemn it. And here it is in fact, that they
principally level their arguments against it. They prohibit all members
of their society from being present at balls, and assemblies; and they
think, if their youth are brought up in ignorance of the art of dancing,
that this ignorance will operate as one preventative at least against
attendances at amusements of this nature.

The Quakers are as strict in their inquiry with respect to the
attendances of any of their members at balls, as at theatrical
amusements. They consider balls and assemblies among the vain amusements
of the world. They use arguments against these nearly similar to those
which have been enumerated on the preceding subjects.

They consider them in the first place, as productive of a kind of
frivolous levity, and of thoughtlessness with respect to the important
duties of life. They consider them, in the second place, as giving birth
to vanity and pride. They consider them, again, as powerful in the
excitement of some of the malevolent passions. Hence they believe them
to be injurious to the religious interests of man; for, by depriving him
of complacency of mind, and by increasing the growth of his bad
feelings, they become impediments in the way of his improvement as a
moral being.


_Arguments of the Quakers examined--three cases made out for the
determination of a moral philosopher--case the first--case the
second--case the third._

I purpose to look into these arguments of the Quakers, and to see how far
they can be supported. I will suppose therefore a few cases to be made
out, and to be handed, one by one, to some moral philosopher for his
decision. I will suppose this philosopher (that all prejudice of
education may be excluded) to have been ignorant of the nature of
dancing, but that he had been made acquainted with it, in order that he
might be enabled to decide the point in question.

Suppose then it was reported to this philosopher that, on a certain day,
a number of young persons of both sexes, who had casually met at a
friends house, instead of confining themselves to the room on a summers
afternoon, had walked out upon the green; that a person present had
invited them suddenly to dance; that they had danced to the sound of
musical vibrations for an hour, and that after this they had returned to
the room, or that they had returned home. Would the philosopher be able
to say in this case, that there was any thing in it, that incurred any
of the culpable imputations, fixed upon dancing by the Quakers?

He could hardly; I think, make it out, that there could have been, in
any part of the business, any opening for the charges in question.
There appears to have been no previous preparations of extravagant
dressing; no premeditated design of setting off the person; no previous
methods of procuring admiration; no circumstance, in short, by which he
could reasonably suppose, that either pride or vanity could have been
called into existence. The time also would appear to him to have been
too short, and the circumstances too limited, to have given birth to
improper feelings. He would certainly see that a sort of levity would
have unavoidably arisen on the occasion, but his impartiality and
justice would oblige him to make a distraction between the levity, that
only exhilarates, and the levity that corrupts, the heart. Nor could he
conceive that the dancing for an hour only, and this totally unlooked
for, could stand much in the way of serious reflection for the future.
If he were desired to class this sudden dancing for an hour upon the
green with any of the known pleasures of life, he would probably class
it with an hours exercise in the fields, or with an hours game at play,
or with an hours employment in some innocent recreation.

But suppose now, that a new case were opened to the philosopher. Suppose
it were told him, that the same party had been so delighted with their
dance upon the green, that they had resolved to meet once a month for
the purpose of dancing, and that they might not be prevented by bad
weather, to meet in a public room; that they had met according to their
resolution; that they had danced at their first meeting but for a short
time; but that at their meetings after, wards, they had got into the
habit of dancing from eight or nine at night till twelve or one in the
morning; that many of them now began to be unduly heated in the course
of this long exercise; that some of them in consequence of the heat in
this crowded room, were now occasionally ready to faint; that it was now
usual for some of them to complain the next morning of colds, others of
head-achs, others of relaxed nerves, and almost all of them of a general
lassitude or weariness--what could the philosopher say in the present

The philosopher would now probably think, that they acted unreasonably
as human beings; that they turned night into day; and that, as if the
evils of life were not sufficient in number, they converted hours, which
might have been spent calmly and comfortably at home, into hours of
indisposition and of unpleasant feelings to themselves. But this is not
to the point. Would he or would he not say, that the arguments of the
Quakers applied in the present case? It certainly does not appear, from
any thing that has yet transpired on this subject, that he could, with
any shadow of reason, accuse the persons, meeting on this occasion, of
vanity or pride, or that he could see from any of the occurrences, that
have been mentioned, how these evils could be produced. Neither has any
thing yet come out, from which he could even imagine the sources of any
improper passions. He might think perhaps, that they might be vexed for
having brought fatigue and lassitude upon themselves, but he could see
no opening for serious anger to others, or for any of the feelings of
malevolence. Neither could he tell what occurrence to fix upon for the
production of a frivolous levity. He would almost question, judging only
from what has appeared in the last case, whether there might not be upon
the whole more pain than pleasure from these meetings, and whether
those, who on the day subsequent to these meetings felt themselves
indisposed, and their whole nervous system unbraced, were not so near
the door of repentance, that serious thoughts would be more natural to
them than those of a lighter kind.

But let us suppose one other case to be opened to the philosopher. Let
us now suppose it to be stated to him, that those who frequented these
monthly meetings, but particularly the females, had become habituated to
talk, for a day or two beforehand, of nothing but of how they should
dress themselves, or of what they should wear on the occasion: that some
time had been spent in examining and canvassing the fashions; that the
milliner had been called in for this purpose; that the imagination had
been racked in the study of the decoration of the person; that both on
the morning and the afternoon of the evening, on which they had publicly
met to dance, they had been solely employed in preparations for decking
themselves out; that they had been nearly two hours under one dresser
only, namely the hair-dresser; that frequently at intervals they had
looked at their own persons in the glass; that they had walked up and
down parading before it in admiration of their own appearance, and the
critical detection of any little fold in their dress, which might appear
to be out of place, and in the adjustment of the same--what would the
philosopher say in this new case?

He certainly could not view the case with the same complacent
countenance as before. He would feel some symptoms of alarm. He would
begin to think that the truth of the Quaker-arguments was unfolding
itself, and that what appeared to him to have been an innocent
amusement, at the first, might possibly be capable of being carried out
of the bounds of innocence by such and similar accompaniments. He could
not conceive, if he had any accurate knowledge of the human heart, that
such an extraordinary attention to dress and the decoration of the
person, or such a critical examination of these with a view of
procuring admiration, could produce any other fruits than conceit and
affectation, or vanity and pride. Nor could he conceive that all these
preparations, all this previous talk, all this previous consultation,
about the fashions, added to the employment itself of the decoration of
the person, could tend to any thing else than to degrade the mind, and
to render it light and frivolous. He would be obliged to acknowledge
also, that minds, accustomed to take so deep an interest in the fashions
and vanities of the world, would not only loath, but be disqualified for
serious reflection. But if he were to acknowledge, that these
preparations and accompaniments had on any one occasion a natural
tendency to produce these effects, he could not but consider these
preparations, if made once a month, as likely to become in time
systematic nurseries for frivolous and affected characters.

Having traced the subject up to a point, where it appears, that some of
the Quaker-arguments begin to bear, let us take leave of our
philosopher, and as we have advanced nearly to the ball-room door, let
us enter into the room itself, and see if any circumstances occur there,
which shall enable us to form a better judgment upon it.


_Arguments of the Quakers still further examined--interior of the
ball-room displayed--view of the rise of many of the malevolent
passions--these rise higher and are more painful, than they are
generally imagined--hence it is probable that the spectators are better
pleased than those interested in these dances--conclusion of the
arguments of the Quakers on this subject._

I am afraid I shall be thought more cynical than just, more prejudiced
than impartial, more given to censure than to praise, if in temples,
apparently dedicated to good humour, cheerfulness and mirth, I should
say that sources were to be found, from whence we could trace the rise
of immoral passions. But human nature is alike in all places, and, if
circumstances should arise in the ball-room, which touch as it were the
strings of the passions, they will as naturally throw out their tone
there as in other places. Why should envy, jealousy, pride, malice,
anger, or revenge, shut themselves out exclusively from these resorts,
as if these were more than ordinarily sacred, or more than ordinary
repositories of human worth.

In examining the interior of a ball-room it must be confessed, that we
shall certainly find circumstances occasionally arising, that give birth
to feelings neither of a pleasant nor of a moral nature. It is not
unusual, for instance, to discover among the females one that excels in
the beauty of her person, and another that excels in the elegance of her
dress. The eyes of all are more than proportionally turned upon these
for the whole night. This little circumstance soon generates a variety
of improper passions. It calls up vanity and conceit in the breasts of
these objects of admiration. It raises up envy and jealousy, and even
anger in some of the rest. These become envious of the beauty of the
former, envious of their taste, envious of their cloathing, and, above
all, jealous of the admiration bestowed upon them. In this evil state of
mind one passion begets another; and instances have occurred, where some
of these have felt displeased at the apparent coldness and indifference
of their own partners, because they have appeared to turn their eyes
more upon the favourites of the night, than upon themselves.

In the same room, when the parties begin to take their places to dance;
other little circumstances not infrequently occur, which give rise to
other passions. Many aiming to be as near the top of the dance as
possible, are disappointed of their places by others, who have just
slept into them, dissatisfaction, and sometimes murmurs, follow. Each in
his own mind, supposes his claims and pretensions to the higher place to
be stronger on account of his money, his connections, his profession, or
his rank. Thus his own dispositions to pride are only the more nursed
and fostered. Malice too is often engendered on the occasion; and though
the parties would not be allowed by the master of the ceremonies to
disturb the tranquillity of the room, animosities have sometimes sprung
up between them, which have not been healed in a little time. I am aware
that in some large towns of the kingdom regulations are made with a view
to the prevention of these evils, but it is in some only; and even where
they are made, though they prevent outward rude behaviour, they do not
prevent inward dissatisfaction. Monied influence still feels itself
often debased by a lower place.

If we were to examine the ball-room further, we should find new
circumstances arising to call out new and degrading passions. We should
find disappointment and discontent often throwing irritable matter upon
the mind. Men, fond of dancing, frequently find an over proportion of
men, and but few females in the room, and women, wishing to dance,
sometimes find an over proportion of women, and but few men; so that
partners are not to be had for all, and a number of each class must make
up their minds to sit quietly, and to loose their diversion for the
night. Partners too are frequently dissatisfied with each other. One
thinks his partner too old, another too ugly, another below him. Matched
often in this unequal manner, they go down the dance in a sort of
dudgeon, having no cordial disposition towards each other, and having
persons before their eyes in the same room with whom they could have
cordially danced. Nor are instances wanting where the pride of some has
fixed upon the mediocrity of others, as a reason, why they should
reluctantly lend them their hands, when falling in with them in the
dance. The slight is soon perceived, and disgust arises in both parties.

Various other instances might be mentioned, where very improper passions
are excited. I shall only observe, however, that these passions are
generally stronger and give more uneasiness, and are called up to a
greater height, than might generally be imagined from such apparently
slight causes. In many instances indeed they have led to such serious
misunderstandings, that they were only terminated by the duel.

From this statement I may remark here, though my observation be not
immediately to the point, that there is not probably that portion of
entertainment, or that substantial pleasure, winch people expected to
find at these monthly meetings. The little jealousies arising about
precedency, or about the admiration of one more than of another; the
falling in occasionally with disagreeable partners; the slights and
omissions that are often thought to be purposely made; the head-achs,
colds, sicknesses, and lassitude afterwards, must all of them operate as
so many drawbacks from this pleasure: and it is not unusual to hear
persons, fond of such amusements, complaining afterwards that they had
not answered. There is therefore probably more pleasure in the
preparations for such amusements, and in the previous talk about them,
than in the amusements themselves.

It is also probable that the greatest pleasure felt in the ball-room, is
felt by those, who get into it as spectators only. These receive
pleasure from the music, from the beat of the steps in unison with it,
but particularly from the idea that all, who join in the dance, are
happy. These considerations produce in the spectator cheerfulness and
mirth; and these are continued to him more pure and unalloyed than in
the former case, because he can have no drawbacks from the admission
into his own breast of any of those uneasy, immoral passions, above

But to return to the point in question. The reader has now had the
different cases laid before him as determined by the moral philosopher.
He has been conducted also through the interior of the ball-room. He
will have perceived therefore that the arguments of the Quakers have
gradually unfolded themselves, and that they are more or less
conspicuous, or more or less true, as dancing is viewed abstractedly, or
in connection with the preparations and accompaniments, that may be
interwoven with it. If it be viewed in connection with these
preparations and accompaniments, and if these should be found to be so
inseparably connected with it, that they must invariably go together,
which is supposed to be the case where it is introduced into the
ball-room, he will have no difficulty in pronouncing that, in this case,
it is objectionable as a christian recreation. For it cannot be doubted
that it has an immediate tendency, in this case, to produce a frivolous
levity, to generate vanity and pride, and to call up passions of the
malevolent kind. Now in this point of view it is, that the Quakers
generally consider dancing. They never view it, as I observed before,
abstractedly, or solely by itself. They have therefore forbidden it to
their society, believing it to be the duty of a Christian to be serious
in his conversation and deportment; to afford an example of humility;
and to be watchful and diligent in the subjugation of his evil


_Novels--novels forbidden--their fictitious nature no argument against
them--arguments of the Quakers are, that they produce an affectation
knowledge--a romantic spirit--and a perverted morality--and that by
creating an indisposition towards other kinds of reading, they prevent
moral improvement and real delight of mind--hence novel-reading more
pernicious than many other amusements_.

Among the prohibitions, which the Quakers have adopted in their moral
education, as barriers against vice, or as preservatives of virtue, I
shall consider that next, which relates to the perusal of improper
books. George Fox seems to have forgotten nothing, that was connected
with the morals of the society. He was anxious for the purity of its
character, he seemed afraid of every wind that blew, lest it should
bring some noxious vapour to defile it. And as those things which were
spoken or represented, might corrupt the mind, so those which were
written and printed, might equally corrupt it also. He recommended
therefore, that the youth of his newly formed society should abstain
from the reading of romances. William Penn and others, expressed the
same sentiments on this subject. And the same opinion has been held by
the Quakers, as a body of christians, down to the present day. Hence
novels, as a particular species of romance, and as that which is
considered as of the worst tendency, have been particularly marked for

Some Quakers have been inclined to think, that novels ought to be
rejected on account of the fictitious nature of their contents. But this
consideration is, by no means, generally adopted by the society, as an
argument against them. Nor would it be a sound argument, if it were. If
novels contain no evil within themselves, or have no evil tendency, the
mere circumstance of the subject, names or characters being feigned,
will not stamp them as censurable. Such fiction will not be like the
fiction of the drama, where men act and personate characters that are
not their own. Different men, in different ages of the world, have had
recourse to different modes of writing, for the promotion of virtue.
Some have had recourse to allegories, others to fables. The fables of
Aesop, though a fiction from the beginning to the end, have been useful
to many. But we have a peculiar instance of the use and innocence of
fictitious descriptions in the sacred writings. For the author of the
christian religion made use of parables on many and weighty occasions.
We cannot therefore condemn fictitious biography, unless it condemn
itself by becoming a destroyer of morals.

The arguments against novels, in which the Quakers agree as a body, are
taken from the pernicious influence they have upon the minds of those,
who read them.

The Quakers do not say, that all novels have this influence, but that
they have it generally. The great demand for novels, inconsequence of
the taste, which the world has shewn for this species of writing, has
induced persons of all descriptions, and of course many who have been
but ill qualified to write them. Hence, though some novels have appeared
of considerable merit, the worthless have been greatly preponderant. The
demand also has occasioned foreign novels, of a complexion by no means
suited to the good sense and character of our country, to be translated
into our language. Hence a fresh weight has only been thrown into the
preponderating scale. From these two causes it has happened, that the
contents of a great majority of our novels have been unfavourable to the
improvement of the moral character. Now when we consider this
circumstance, and when we consider likewise, that professed
novel-readers generally read all the compositions of this sort that come
into their way, that they wait for no selection, but that they devour
the good, the bad, and the indifferent alike, we shall see the reasons,
which have induced the Quakers to believe, that the effect of this
species of writing upon the mind has been generally pernicious.

One of the effects, which the Quakers consider to be produced by novels
upon those who read them, is an affectation of knowledge, which leads
them to become forward and presumptuous. This effect is highly
injurious, for while it raises them unduly in their own estimation, it
lowers them in that of the world. Nothing can be more disgusting, in the
opinion of the Quakers, than to see persons assuming the authoritative
appearance of men and women before their age or their talents can have
given them any pretensions to do it.

Another effect is the following. The Quakers conceive that there is
among professed novel readers a peculiar cast of mind. They observe in
them a romantic spirit, a sort of wonder-loving imagination, and a
disposition towards enthusiastic flights of the fancy, which to sober
persons has the appearance of a temporary derangement. As the former
effect must become injurious by producing forwardness, so this must
become so by producing unsteadiness, of character.

A third effect, which the Quakers find to be produced among this
description of readers, is conspicuous in a perverted morality. They
place almost every value in feeling, and in the affectation of
benevolence. They consider these as the true and only sources of good.
They make these equivalent, to moral principle. And actions flowing from
feeling, though feeling itself is not always well founded, and
sometimes runs into compassion even against justice, they class as moral
duties arising from moral principles. They consider also too frequently
the laws of religion as barbarous restraints, and which their new
notions of civilized refinement may relax at will. And they do not
hesitate, in consequence, to give a colour to some fashionable vices,
which no christian painter would admit into any composition, which was
his own.

To this it may be added, that, believing their own knowledge to be
supreme, and their own system of morality to be the only enlightened
one, they fall often into scepticism, and pass easily from thence to
infidelity. Foreign novels, however, more than our own, have probably
contributed to the production of this latter effect.

These then are frequently the evils, and those which the Quakers insist
upon, where persons devote their spare-time to the reading of novels,
but more particularly among females, who, on account of the greater
delicacy of their constitutions, are the more susceptible of such
impressions. These effects the Quakers consider as particularly
frightful, when they fall upon this sex. For an affectation of
knowledge, or a forwardness of character, seems to be much more
disgusting among women than among men. It may be observed also, that an
unsteady or romantic spirit or a wonder-loving or flighty imagination,
can never qualify a woman for domestic duties, or make her a sedate and
prudent wife. Nor can a relaxed morality qualify her for the discharge
of her duty as a parent in the religious education of her children.

But, independently of these, there is another evil, which the Quakers
attach to novel-reading, of a nature too serious to be omitted in this
account. It is that those who are attached to this species of reading,
become indisposed towards any other.

This indisposition arises from the peculiar construction of novels.
Their structure is similar to that of dramatic compositions. They
exhibit characters to view. They have their heroes and heroines in the
same manner. They lay open the checkered incidents in the lives of
these. They interweave into their histories the powerful passion of
love. By animated language, and descriptions which glow with sympathy,
they rouse the sensibility of the reader, and fill his soul with
interest in the tale. They fascinate therefore in the same manner as
plays. They produce also the same kind of [7] mental stimulus, or the
same powerful excitement of the mind. Hence it is that this
indisposition is generated. For if other books contain neither
characters, nor incidents, nor any of the high seasoning, or gross
stimulants, which belong to novels they become insipid.

[Footnote 7: I have been told by a physician of the first eminence, that
music and novels have done more to produce the sickly countenances and
nervous habits of our highly educated females, than any other causes
that can be assigned. The excess of stimulus on the mind from the
interesting and melting tales, that are peculiar to novels, affects the
organs of the body, and relaxes the tone of the nerves, in the same
manner as the melting tones of music have been described to act upon the
constitution, after the sedentary employment, necessary for skill in
that science, has injured it.]

It is difficult to estimate the injury which is done to persons, by this
last mentioned effect of novel-reading upon the mind. For the contents
of our best books consist usually of plain and sober narrative. Works of
this description give no extravagant representations of things, because
their object is truth. They are found often without characters or
catastrophies, because these would be often unsuitable to the nature of
the subject of which they treat. They contain repellants rather than
stimulants, because their design is the promotion of virtue. The
novel-reader therefore, by becoming indisposed towards these, excludes
himself from moral improvement, and deprives himself of the most
substantial pleasure, which reading can produce. In vain do books on the
study of nature unfold to him the treasures of the mineral or the
vegetable world. He foregoes this addition to his knowledge, and this
innocent food for his mind. In vain do books on science lay open to him
the constitution and the laws of the motion of bodies. This constitution
and these laws are still mysteries to him. In vain do books on religion
discover to him the true path to happiness. He has still this path to
seek. Neither, if he were to dip into works like these, but particularly
into those of the latter discription, could he enjoy them. This latter
consideration makes the reading of novels a more pernicious employment
than many others. For though there may be amusements, which may
sometimes produce injurious effects to those, who partake of them, yet
these may be counteracted by the perusal of works of a moral tendency.
The effects, on the other hand, which are produced by the reading of
novels, seem to admit of no corrective or cure; for how, for instance,
shall a perverted morality, which is considered to be one of them, be
rectified, if the book which is to contain the advice for this purpose,
be so uninteresting, or insipid, that the persons in question have no
disposition to peruse it?


_Diversions of the field--diversions of the field forbidden--general
thoughtlessness on this subject--sentiments of Thomson--sentiments of
George Fox--of Edward Burroughs--similar sentiments of Cowper--law of
the society on the subject._

 The diversions of the field are usually followed by people, without any
consideration, whether they are justifiable, either in the eye of
morality or of reason. Men receive them as the customs of their
ancestors, and they are therefore not likely to entertain doubts
concerning their propriety. The laws of the country also sanction them;
for we find regulations and qualifications on the subject. Those also
who attend these diversions, are so numerous, and their rank, and
station, and character, are often such, that they sanction them again by
their example, so that few people think of making any inquiry, how far
they are allowable as pursuits.

But though this general thoughtlessness prevails upon this subject, and
though many have fallen into these diversions as into the common customs
of the world, yet benevolent and religious individuals have not allowed
them to pass unnoticed, nor been backward in their censures and

It has been matter of astonishment to some, how men, who have the powers
of reason, can waste their time in galloping after dogs, in a wild and
tumultuous manner, to the detriment often of their neighbours, and to
the hazard of their own lives; or how men, who are capable of high
intellectual enjoyments, can derive pleasure, so as to join in shouts of
triumph, on account of the death of an harmless animal; or how men, who
have organic feelings, and who know that other living creatures have the
same, can make an amusement of that, which puts brute-animals to pain.

Good poets have spoken the language of enlightened nature upon this
subject. Thomson in his Seasons, introduces the diversions of the field
in the following manner.

   "Here the rude clamour of the sportsman's joy,
   The gun fast-thund'ring, and the winded horn,
   Would tempt the muse to sing the rural game."

But further on he observes,

   "These are not subjects for the peaceful muse;
   Nor will she stain with such her spotless song;
   Then most delighted, when she social sees
   The whole mix'd animal-creation round.
   Alive and happy; 'Tis not joy to her
   This falsely cheerful barbarous game of death."

Cowper, in his task, in speaking in praise of the country, takes
occasion to express his disapprobation of one of the diversions in

   "They love the country, and none else, who seek
   For their own sake its silence and its shade,
   Delights, which who would leave, that has a heart
   Susceptible of pity, or a mind,
   Cultur'd, and capable of sober thought,
   For all the savage din of the swift pack
   And clamours of the field? Detested sport
   That owes its pleasures to another's pain,
   That feeds upon the sobs and dying shrieks
   Of harmless nature, dumb, but yet endued
   With eloquence, that agonies inspire
   Of silent tears, and heart-distending sighs!
   Vain tears alas! and sighs, that never find
   A corresponding tone in jovial souls!"

In these sentiments of the poets the Quakers, as a religious body, have
long joined. George Fox specifically reprobated hunting and hawking,
which were the field diversions of his own time. He had always shewn, as
I stated in the introduction, a tender disposition to brute-animals, by
reproving those, who had treated them improperly in his presence. He
considered these diversions, as unworthy of the time and attention of
men, who ought to have much higher objects of pursuit. He believed also,
that real christians could never follow them; for a christian was a
renovated man, and a renovated man could not but know the works of
creation better, than to subject them to his abuse.

Edward Burroughs, who lived at the same time, and was an able minister
of the society, joined George Fox in his sentiments with respect to the
treatment of animals. He considered that man in the fall, or the
apostate man, had a vision so indistinct and vitiated that he could not
see the animals of the creation, as he ought, but that the man, who was
restored, or the spiritual christian, had a new and clear discernment
concerning them, which would oblige him to consider and treat them in a
proper manner.

This idea of George Fox and of Edward Burroughs seems to have been
adopted or patronized by the Poet Cowper.

   "Thus harmony, and family accord,
   Were driven from Paradise; and in that hour
   The seeds of cruelty, that since have swell'd
   To such gigantic and enormous growth,
   Were sown in human natures fruitful soil.
   Hence date the persecution and the pain,
   That man inflicts on all inferior kinds,
   Regardless of their plaints. To make him sport,
   To gratify the frenzy of his wrath,
   Or his base gluttony, are causes good,
   And just, in his account, why bird and beast
   Should suffer torture--"

Thus the Quakers censured these diversions from the first formation of
their society, and laid down such moral principles with respect to the
treatment of animals, as were subversive of their continuance. These
principles continued to actuate all true Quakers, who were their
successors; and they gave a proof, in their own conduct, that they were
influenced by them, not only in treating the different animals under
their care with tenderness, but in abstaining from all diversions in
which their feelings could be hurt. The diversions however, of the
field, notwithstanding that this principle of the brute-creation had
been long recognized, and that no person of approved character in the
society followed them, began in time to be resorted to occasionally by
the young and thoughtless members, either out of curiosity, or with a
view of trying them, as means of producing pleasure. These deviations,
however from the true spirit of Quakerism became at length known. And
the Quakers, that no excuse might be left to any for engaging in such
pursuits again, came to a resolution in one of their yearly meetings,
giving advice upon the subject in the following words.

[8]"We clearly rank the practice of hunting and shooting for diversion
with vain sports; and we believe the awakened mind may see, that even
the leisure of those whom providence hath permitted to have a competence
of worldly goods, is but ill filled up with these amusements. Therefore,
being not only accountable for our substance, but also for our time, let
our leisure be employed in serving our neighbour, and not in
distressing the creatures of God for our amusement."

[Footnote 8: Book of Extracts.]

I shall not take upon me to examine the different reasons upon which we
find the foundation of this law. I shall not enquire how far a man's
substance, or rather his talent, is wasted or misapplied, in feeding a
number of dogs in a costly manner, while the poor of the neighbourhood
may be starving, or how far the galloping after these is in the eye of
christianity a misapplication of a person's time. I shall adhere only to
that part of the argument, how far a person has a right to make a
[9]pleasure of that, which occasions pain and death to the
animal-creation: and I shall shew in what manner the Quakers argue upon
this subject, and how they persuade themselves, that they have no right
to pursue such diversions, but particularly when they consider
themselves as a body of professing christians.

[Footnote 9: The Quakers and the poet Cowper likewise, in their laudable
zeal for the happiness of the brute-creation, have given an improper
description of the nature of the crime of these diversions. They have
made it to consist in a man's deriving pleasure from the sufferings of the
animals in question, whereas it should have been made to consist in his
making a pleasure of a pursuit which puts them to pain. The most
abandoned sportsman, it is to be presumed, never hunts them because
he enjoys their sufferings. His pleasure arises from considerations of
another nature.]


_Diversions of the field judged first by the morality of the Old
Testament--original charter to kill animals--condition annexed to
it--sentiments of Cowper--rights and duties springing from this
charter--violation of it the violation of a moral law--diversions in
question not allowable by this standard._

The Quakers usually try the lawfulness of field-diversions, which
include hunting and shooting, by two standards, and first by the
morality of the old Testament.

They believe in common with other christians, that men have a right to
take away the lives of animals for their food. The great creator of the
universe, to whom every thing that is in it belongs, gave to Noah and
his descendants a grant or charter for this purpose. In this charter no
exception is made. Hence wild animals are included in it equally with
the tame. And hence a hare may as well be killed, if people have
occasion for food, as a chicken or a lamb.

They believe also that, when the creator of the universe gave men
dominion over the whole brute-creation, or delivered this creation into
their hands, he intended them the right of destroying such animals, as
circumstances warranted them in supposing would become injurious to
themselves. The preservation of themselves, which is the first law of
nature, and the preservation of other animals under their care, created
this new privilege.

But though men have the power given them over the lives of animals,
there is a condition in the same charter, that they shall take them with
as little pain as possible to the creatures. If the death of animals is
to be made serviceable to men, the least they can do in return is to
mitigate their sufferings, while they expire. This obligation the
Supreme Being imposed upon those, to whom he originally gave the
charter, by the command of not eating their flesh, while the life's
blood was in it. The Jews obliged all their converts to religion, even
the proselytes of the gate, who were not considered to be so religious
as the proselytes of the covenant, to observe what they called the
seventh commandment of Noah, or that "they should[10] not eat the member
of any beast that was taken from it, while it was alive." This law
therefore of blood, whatever other objects it might have in view,
enjoined that, while men were engaged in the distresing task of taking
away the life of an animal, they should respect its feelings, by
abstaining from torture, or all unnecessary pain.

[Footnote 10: It seems almost impossible, that men could be so depraved,
as to take flesh to eat from a poor animal, while alive, and yet from
the law enjoined to proselytes of the gate it is probable, that it was
the case. Bruce, whose travels into Abyssynia are gaining in credit,
asserts that such customs obtained there. And the Harleian Miscellany,
vol. 6. P. 126, in which is a modern account of Scotland, written in
1670, states the same practice as having existed in our own island.]

   [11]On Noah, and in him on all mankind
   The Charter was conferr'd, by which we hold
   The flesh of animals in fee, and claim
   O'er all we feed on pow'r of life and death.
   But read the instrument, and mark it well.
   The oppression of a tyrannous control
   Can find no warrant there. Feed then, and yield
   Thanks for thy food. Carnivorous, through sin,
   Feed on the slain; but spare the living brute.

[Footnote 11: Cowper.]

From this charter, and from the great condition annexed to it, the
Quakers are of opinion that rights and duties have sprung up; rights on
behalf of animals, and duties on the part of men; and that a breach of
these duties, however often, or however thoughtlessly it may take place,
is a breach of a moral law. For this charter did not relate to those
animals only, which lived in the particular country of the Jews, but to
those in all countries wherever Jews might exist. Nor was the observance
of it confined to the Jews only, but it was to extend to the Proselytes
of the covenant and the gate. Nor was the observance of it confined to
these Proselytes, but it was to extend to all nations; because all
animals of the same species are in all countries organized alike, and
have all similar feelings; and because all animals of every kind are
susceptible of pain.

In trying the lawfulness of the diversions of the field, as the Quakers
do by this charter, and the great condition that is annexed to it, I
purpose, in order to save time, to confine myself to hunting, for this
will appear to be the most objectionable, if examined in this manner.

It must be obvious then, that hunting, even in the case of hares, is
seldom followed for the purposes of food. It is uncertain in the first
place, whether in the course of the chase they can be preserved whole
when they are taken, so as to be fit to be eaten. And, in the second, it
may be observed, that we may see fifty horsemen after a pack of hounds,
no one of whom has any property in the pack, nor of course any right to
the prey. These cannot even pretend, that their object is food, either
for themselves or others.

Neither is hunting, where foxes are the objects in view, pursued upon
the principle of the destruction of noxious animals. For it may be
observed, that rewards are frequently offered to those, who will procure
them for the chase: that large woods or covers are frequently allotted
them, that they may breed, and perpetuate their species for the same
purposes, and that a poor man in the neighbourhood of a foxhunter, would
be sure to experience his displeasure, if he were caught in the
destruction of any of these animals.

With respect to the mode of destroying them in either of these cases, it
is not as expeditious, as it might be made by other means. It is on the
other hand, peculiarly cruel. A poor animal is followed, not for
minutes, but frequently for an hour, and sometimes for hours, in pain
and agony. Its sufferings begin with its first fear. Under this fear,
perpetually accompanying it, it flies from the noise of horses, and
horsemen, and the cries of dogs. It pants for breath, till the panting
becomes difficult and painful. It becomes wearied even to misery, yet
dares not rest. And under a complication of these sufferings, it is at
length overtaken, and often literally torn to pieces by its pursuers.

Hunting therefore does not appear, in the opinion of the Quakers, to be
followed for any of those purposes, which alone, according to the
original charter, give mankind a right over the lives of brutes. It is
neither followed for food, nor for prevention of injury to man, or to
the creatures belonging to him. Neither is life taken away by means of
it, as mercifully as it ought to be, according to the meaning of the[12]
great condition. But if hunting be not justifiable, when examined upon
these principles, it can never be justifiable in the opinion of the
Quakers, when it is followed on the principle of pleasure, all
destruction of animal-life upon this last principle, must come within
the charge of wanton cruelty, and be considered as a violation of a
moral law.

[Footnote 12: The netting of animals for food, is perfectly
unobjectionable upon these principles.]


_Diversions of the field judged by the morality of the
New-Testament--the renovated man or christian has a clearer knowledge of
creation and of its uses--he views animals as the creatures of
God--hence he finds animals to have rights independently of any written
law--he collects again new rights from the benevolence of his new
feelings--and new rights again from the written word of revelation._

The Quakers try the lawfulness of these diversions again by the morality
of the New-Testament They adopt, in the first place, upon this occasion,
the idea of George Fox and of Edward Burroughs, which has been already
stated; and they follow it up in the manner which I shall now explain.

They believe that a man under the new covenant, or one who is really a
christian, is a renovated man. As long as Adam preserved his primeval
innocence, or continued in the image of his Maker, his spiritual vision
was clear. When he lost this image, it became dim, short, and confused.
This is the case, the Quakers believe, with every apostate or wicked
man. He sees through a vitiated medium. He sees of course nothing of the
harmony of the creation. He has but a confused knowledge of the natures
and ends of things. These natures and these ends he never examines as he
ought, but in the confusion of his moral vision, he abuses and perverts
them. Hence it generally happens, that an apostate man is cruel to his
brute. But in proportion as he is restored to the divine image, or
becomes as Adam was before he fell, or in proportion as he exchanges
earthly for spiritual views, he sees all things through a clearer
medium. It is then, the Quakers believe, that the creation is open to
him, and that he finds his creator has made nothing in vain. It is then
that he knows the natures of things; that he estimates their uses and
their ends, and that he will never stretch these beyond their proper
bounds. Beholding animals in this sublime light, he will appreciate
their strength, their capacities, and their feelings; and he will never
use them but for the purposes intended by providence. It is then that
the creation will delight him. It is then that he will find a growing
love to the animated objects of it. And this knowledge of their natures,
and this love of them, will oblige him to treat them with tenderness and
respect. Hence all animals will have a security in the breast of every
christian or renovated man against oppression or abuse. He will never
destroy them wantonly, nor put them to unnecessary pain. Now the Quakers
are of opinion, that every person, who professes christianity, ought to
view things as the man, who is renovated, would view them, and that it
becomes them therefore in particular, as a body of highly professing
christians, to view them in the same manner. Hence they uniformly look
upon animals, not as brute-machines, to be used at discretion, but as
the creatures of God, of whose existence the use and intention ought
always to be considered, and to whom duties arise out of this spiritual
feeling, independently of any written law in the Old-Testament, or any
grant or charter, by which their happiness might be secured.

The Quakers therefore, viewing animals in this light, believe that they
are bound to treat them accordingly. Hence the instigation of two horses
by whips and spurs for a trial of speed, in consequence of a monied
stake, is considered by the Quakers to be criminal. The horse was made
for the use of man, to carry his body and to transport his burdens; but
he was never made to engage in painful conflicts with other horses on
account of the avarice of his owner. Hence the pitting together of two
cocks for a trial of victory is considered as equally criminal. For the
cock, whatever may be his destined object among the winged creation, has
been long useful to man in awakening him from unseasonable slumber, and
in sounding to him the approach of day. But it was never intended, that
he should be employed to the injury and destruction of himself, or to
the injury and destruction of his own species. In the same manner the
Quakers condemn the hunting of animals, except on the plea of necessity,
or that they cannot be destroyed, if their death be required, in any
other way. For whatever may be their several uses, or the several ends
of their existence in creation, they were never created to be so used by
man, that they should suffer, and this entirely for his sport. Whoever
puts animals to cruel and unnatural uses, disturbs, in the opinion of
the Quakers, the harmony of the creation, and offends God.

The Quakers in the second place, are of opinion that the renovated man
must have, in his own benevolent spirit, such an exalted sense of the
benevolent spirit of the Creator, as to believe, that he never
constituted any part of animated nature, without assigning it its proper
share of happiness during the natural time of its existence, or that it
was to have its moment, its hour, its day, or its year of pleasure. And,
if this be the case, he must believe also, that any interruption of its
tranquillity, without the plea of necessity, must be an innovation of
its rights as a living being.

The Quakers believe also, that the renovated man, who loves all the
works of the creator, will carry every divine law, which has been
revealed to him, as far as it is possible to be carried on account of a
similarity of natures through all animated creation, and particularly
that law, which forbids him to do to another, what he would dislike to
be done unto himself. Now this law is founded on the sense of bodily,
and on the sense of the mental feelings. The mental feelings of men and
brutes, or the reason of man and the instinct of animals, are different.
But their bodily feelings are alike; and they are in their due
proportions, susceptible of pain. The nature therefore of man and of
animals is alike in this particular. He can anticipate and know their
feelings by his own. He cannot therefore subject them to any action
unnecessarily, if on account of a similar construction of his own
organs, such an action would produce pain to himself. His own power of
feeling strongly commands sympathy to all that can feel: and that
general sympathy, which arises to a man, when he sees pain inflicted on
the person of any individual of his own species, will arise, in the
opinion of the Quakers, to the renovated man, when he sees it inflicted
on the body of a brute.


_Objections started by philosophical moralists to the preceding system
of education--this system a prohibitory one--prohibitions sometimes the
cause of greater evil than they prevent--they may confuse morality--and
break the spirit--they render the vicious more vicious--and are not to
be relied upon as effectual, because built on a fake foundation--ignorance
no guardian of virtue--causes, not sub-causes, are to be contended against
--no certain security but in knowledge and a love of virtue--prohibitions,
where effectual, produce but a sluggish virtue._

I have now stated the principal prohibitions, that are to be found in
the moral education of the Quakers, and I have annexed to these the
various reasons, which the Quakers themselves give, why they were
introduced into their society. I have therefore finished this part of my
task, and the reader will expect me to proceed to the next subject. But
as I am certain that many objections will be started here, I shall stop
for a few minutes to state, and to consider them.

The Quakers differ on the subject of moral education, very materially
from the world, and indeed from those of the world, who having had a
more than ordinarily liberal education, may be supposed to have, in most
cases, a more than ordinarily correct judgment. The Quaker system, as we
have seen, consists principally of specific prohibitions. These
prohibitions again, are extended occasionally to things, which are not
in themselves vicious. They are extended, again, to these, because it is
possible that they may be made productive, of evil. And they are
founded apparently on the principle, that ignorance of such things
secures innocence, or that ignorance, in such cases, has the operation
of a preventive of vice, or a preservative of virtue.

Philosophical moralists on the other hand, are friends to occasional
indulgences. They see nothing inherently or necessarily mischievous,
either in the theatre or in the concert-room, or in the ball-room, or in
the circulating library, or in many other places of resort. If a young
female, say they, situated in a provincial town, were to see a play
annually, would it not give her animation, and afford a spring to her
heart? or if a youth were to see a play two or three times in the year,
might not his parents, if they were to accompany him, make it each time,
by their judicious and moral remarks, subservient to the improvement of
his morals? neither do these moralists anticipate any danger by looking
to distant prospects, where the things are innocent in themselves. And
they are of opinion, that all danger may be counteracted effectually,
not by prohibitory checks and guards, but by storing the mind with
knowledge, and filling it with a love of virtue. The arguments
therefore, which these will advance against the system of the moral
education of the Quakers, may be seen in the following words.

"All prohibitions, they contend, should be avoided, as much as
possible, in moral education; for prohibitions may often become the
cause of greater immorality, than they were intended to prevent. The
fable of the hen, whose very prohibition led her chickens to the fatal
well, has often been realized in life, there is a certain curiosity in
human nature to look into things forbidden. If Quaker youth should have
the same desires in this respect as others, they cannot gratify them but
at the expence of their virtue. If they wish for novels, for example,
they must get them clandestinely. If to go to the theatre, they must go
in secret. But they must do more than this in the latter case, for as
they would be known by their dress, they must change it for that of
another person. Hence they may be made capable of intrigue, hypocrisy,
and deceit."

"Prohibitions, again, they believe, except they be well founded, may
confound the notions of children on the subject of morality; for if they
are forbidden to do what they see worthy and enlightened persons do,
they may never know where to fix the boundaries between vice and

"Prohibitions, again, they consider, if made without an allowance of
exceptions, as having a tendency to break the spirit of youth. Break a
horse in the usual way, and teach him to stop with the check of the
reins, and you break him, and preserve his courage. But put him in a
mill to break him, and you break his life and animation. Prohibitions
therefore may hinder elevated feeling, and may lead to poverty and
sordidness of spirit."

"Prohibitions, again, they believe, if youth once depart from the right
way, render them more vicious characters than common. This arises from
the abruptness or suddenness of transition. For having been shut up
within narrow boundaries for a part of their lives, they go greater
lengths, when once let loose, than others, who have not been equally
curbed and confined."

"But while they are of opinion, that prohibitions are likely to be thus
injurious to Quaker-youth, they are of opinion, that they are never to
be relied upon as effectual guardians of morality, because they consider
them as built upon false principles."

"They are founded, they conceive, on the principle, that ignorance is a
security for innocence, or that vice is so attractive, that we cannot
resist it but by being kept out of the way. In the first case, they
contend that the position is false; for ignorant persons are of all
others the most likely, when they fall into temptations, to be seduced,
and in the second, they contend that there is a distrust of divine
providence in his moral government of the world."

"They are founded, again, they conceive, on false principles, inasmuch
as the Quakers confound causes with sub-causes, or causes with
occasions. If a person, for example, were to get over a hedge, and
receive a thorn in his hand, and die of the wound, this thorn would be
only the occasion, and not the cause of his death. The bad state in
which his body must have been, to have made this wound fatal, would have
been the original cause. In like manner neither the theatre, nor the
ball-room are the causes of the bad passions, that are to be found
there. All these passions must have existed in persons previously to
their entrance into these places. Plays therefore, or novels, or public
dances, are only the sub-causes, or the occasions of calling forth the
passions in question. The real cause is in the infected state of the
mind, or in the want of knowledge, or in the want of a love of virtue."

"Prohibitions therefore, though they may become partial checks of vice,
can never, they believe, be relied upon as effectual guardians of
virtue. Bars and bolts seldom prevent thieves from robbing a house. But
if armed men should be in it, who would venture to enter in? In the same
manner the mind of man should be armed or prepared. It should be so
furnished, that men should be able to wander through a vicious world,
amidst all its foibles and its follies, and pass uncontaminated by them.
It should have that tone given to it, which should hinder all
circumstances from becoming occasions. But this can never be done by
locking up the heart to keep vice out of it, but by filling it with
knowledge and with a love of virtue."

"That this is the only method to be relied upon in moral education, they
conceive may be shewn by considering upon whom the pernicious effects of
the theatre, or of the ball-room, or of the circulating library,
principally fall. Do they not fall principally upon those, who have
never had a dignified education. 'Empty noddles, it is said, are fond of
playhouses,' and the converse, is true, that persons, whose
understandings have been enriched, and whose tastes have been corrected,
find all such recreations tiresome. At least they find so much to
disgust them, that what they approve does not make them adequate amends.
This is the case also with respect to novels. These do harm principally
to barren minds. They do harm to those who have no proper employment for
their time, or to those, who in the manners, conversation, and conduct,
of their parents, or others with whom they associate, have no examples
of pure thinking, or of pure living, or of a pure taste. Those, on the
other hand, who have been taught to love good books, will never run
after, or be affected by, bad ones. And the same mode of reasoning, they
conceive, is applicable to other cases. For if people are taught to
love virtue for virtue's sake, and, in like manner, to hate what is
unworthy, because they have a genuine and living knowledge of its
unworthiness, neither the ball, nor concert-room, nor the theatre, nor
the circulating library, nor the diversions of the field, will have
charms enough to seduce them, or to injure the morality of their minds."

To sum up the whole. The prohibitions of the Quakers, in the first
place, may become injurious, in the opinion of these philosophical
moralists, by occasioning greater evils, than they were intended to
prevent. They can never, in the second place, be relied upon as
effectual guardians of virtue, because they consider them to be founded
on false principles. And if at any time they can believe them to be
effectual in the office assigned them, they believe them to to be
productive only of a cold or a sluggish virtue.



_Reply of the Quakers to these objections--they say first, that they are
to be guided by revelation in the education of their children--and that
the education, which they adopt, is sanctioned by revelation, and by the
practice of the early Christians--they maintain again, that the
objections are not applicable to them, for they pre-suppose
circumstances concerning them, which are not true--they allow the system
of filling the mind with virtue to be the most desirable--but they
maintain that it cannot be acted upon abstractedly--and, that if it
could, it would be as dangerous, as the philosophical moralists make
their system of the prohibitions._

To these objections the Quakers would make the following reply.

They do not look up either to their own imaginations, or to the
imaginations of others, for any rule in the education of their children.
As a christian society, they conceive themselves bound to be guided by
revelation, and by revelation only, while it has any injunctions to
offer, which relate to this subject.

In adverting to the Old Testament, they find that no less than nine, out
of the ten commandments of Moses, are of a prohibitory nature, and, in
adverting to the new, that many of the doctrines of Jesus Christ and the
apostles are delivered in the form of prohibitions. They believe that
revealed religion prohibits them from following all those pursuits,
which the objections notice; for though there is no specific prohibition
of each, yet there is an implied one in the spirit of christianity,
Violent excitements of the passions on sensual subjects must be
unfavourable to religious advancement. Worldly pleasures must hinder
those, which are spiritual. Impure words and spectacles must affect
morals. Not only evil is to be avoided, but even the appearance of evil.
While therefore these sentiments are acknowledged by christianity, it is
to be presumed that the customs, which the objections notice, are to be
avoided in christian education. And as the Quakers consider these to be
forbidden to themselves, they feel themselves obliged to forbid them to
others. And, in these parcticular prohibitions, they consider themselves
as sanctioned both by the writings and the practice of the early

In looking at the objections, which have been made with a view of
replying to them, they would observe first, that these objections do not
seem to apply to them as a society, because they presuppose
circumstances concerning them, which are not true. They presuppose
first, that their moral education is founded on prohibitions solely,
whereas they endeavour both by the communication of positive precepts,
and by their example, to fill the minds of their children with a love of
virtue. They presuppose again, that they are to mix with the world, and
to follow the fashions of the world, in which case a moderate knowledge
of the latter, with suitable advice when they are followed, is
considered as enabling them to pass through life with less danger than
the prohibition of the same, whereas they mix but little with others of
other denominations. They abjure the world, that they may not imbibe its
spirit. And here they would observe, that the knowledge, which is
recommended to be obtained, by going through perilous customs is not
necessary for them as a society. For living much at home, and mixing
almost solely with one another, they consider their education as
sufficient for their wants.

If the Quakers could view the two different systems abstractedly, that
of filling the heart with virtue, and that of shutting it out from a
knowledge of vice, so that they could be acted upon separately, and so
that the first of the two were practicable, and practicable without
having to go through scenes that were dangerous to virtue, they would
have no hesitation in giving the preference to the former; because if
men could be taught to love virtue for virtue's sake, all the trouble of
prohibitions would be unnecessary.

But the Quakers would conceive that the system of filling the mind with
virtue, if acted upon abstractedly, or by itself, would be impracticable
with respect to youth. To make it practicable children must be born with
the full grown intellect and experience of men. They must have an innate
knowledge of all the tendencies, the bearings, the relations, and the
effects of virtue and vice. They must be also strong enough to look
temptation in the face; whereas youth have no such knowledge, or
experience, or strength, or power.

They would consider also the system of filling the mind with virtue, as
impossible, if attempted abstractedly or alone, because it is not in
human wisdom to devise a method of inspiring it with this essence,
without first teaching it to abstain from vice. It is impossible, they
would say, for a man to be virtuous, or to be in love with virtue,
except he were to lay aside his vicious practices. The first step to
virtue, according both to the Heathen and the Christian philosophy, is
to abstain from vice. We are to cease to do evil, and to learn to do
well. This is the process recommended. Hence prohibitions are necessary.
Hence sub-causes as well as causes are to be attacked. Hence abstinence
from vice is a Christian, though it may be a sluggish, virtue. Hence
innocence is to be aimed at by an ignorance of vice. And hence we must
prohibit all evil, if we wish for the assistance of the moral governor
of the world.

But if the system of filling the heart with virtue were ever practicable
of itself, that is, without the aid of prohibitions, yet if it be to be
followed by allowing young persons to pass through the various
amusements of the world which the Quakers prohibit, and by giving them
moral advice at the same time, they would be of opinion, that more
danger would accrue to their morality, than any, which the prohibitions
could produce. The prohibitions, as far as they have a tendency to curb
the spirit, would not be injurious, in the opinion of the Quakers,
because it is their plan in education to produce humble, and passive,
and obedient characters; and because spirit, or highmindedness, or high
feeling, is no trait in the Christian character. As far as the
curiosity, which is natural to man, would instigate him to look into
things forbidden, which he could not always do in the particular
situation of the Quakers, without the admission of intrigue, or
hypocrisy, or deceit, prohibitions would be to be considered as evils,
though they would always be necessary evils. But the Quakers would
apprehend that the same number of youth would not be lost by passing
through the ordeal of prohibitory education, as through the ordeal of
the system, which attempts to fill the mind with virtue, by inuring it
to scenes, which may be dangerous to its morality; for if tastes are to
be cultivated, and knowledge to be had, by adopting the amusements
prohibited by the Quakers, many would be lost, though some might be
advanced to virtue. For parents cannot always accompany their children
to such places, nor, if they could, can they prevent these from
fascinating. If these should fascinate, they will suggest repetitions.
But frequent repetitions, where you accustom youth to see, to hear, and
to think, what ought never to be heard, seen, or thought of by
Christians, cannot but have the effect of tinging the character in time.
This mode of education would be considered by the Quakers as answering
to that of "dear bought experience." A person may come to see the beauty
of virtue, when his constitution has been shattered by vice. But many
will perish in the midst of so hazardous a trial.[13]

[Footnote 13: Though no attempt is to be made to obtain knowledge,
according to the Christian system, through the medium of customs which
may be of immoral tendency, yet it does not follow that knowledge,
properly obtained, is not a powerful guardian of virtue. This important
subject may probably be resumed in a future volume.]


_Quakers contend, by may of farther reply to the objections, that their
education has been practically or experimentally beneficial--two facts
in behalf of this assertion--the first is that young Quakers get earlier
into the wisdom of life than many others--the second, that there are few
disorderly persons in the society--error corrected, that the Quakers
turn persons out of the society, as soon as they begin to be vicious,
that it may be rescued from the disgrace of a bad character._

The answers, which have hitherto been given to the reader, may be
considered as the statement of theory against theory. But the Quakers,
would say farther upon this subject, that they have educated upon these
principles for a hundred and fifty years, and that, where they have been
attended to, their effects have been uniformly beneficial. They would be
fearful therefore of departing from a path, which they conceive their
own experience and that of their ancestors has shewn them to be safe,
and which after all their inquiries, they believe to be that which is
pointed out to them by the Christian religion.

I shall not attempt to follow up this practical argument by any history
of the lives of the Quakers, but shall content myself with one or two
simple facts, which appear to me to be materially to the point.

In the first place I may observe that it is an old saying, that it is
difficult to put old heads on young shoulders. The Quakers, however, do
this more effectually than any other people. It has often been observed
that a Quaker boy has an unnatural appearance. This idea has arisen from
his dress and his sedateness, which together have produced an
appearance of age above the youth in his countenance, or the stature of
his person. This, however, is confessing, in some degree, in the case
before us, that the discretion of age has appeared upon youthful
shoulders. It is certainly an undeniable fact, that the youth of this
society, generally speaking, get earlier into a knowledge of just
sentiments, or into a knowledge of human nature, or into a knowledge of
the true wisdom of life, than those of the world at large. I have often
been surprised to hear young Quakers talk of the folly and vanity of
pursuits, in which persons older than themselves were then embarking for
the purposes of pleasure, and which the same persons have afterwards
found to have been the pursuits of uneasiness and pain.

Let us stop for a while, just to look at the situation of some of those
young persons, who, in consequence of a different education, are
introduced to the pleasures of the world, as to those, which are to
constitute their happiness. We see them running eagerly first after this
object, then after that. One man says to himself "this will constitute
my pleasure." He follows it. He finds it vanity and vexation of spirit.
He says again "I have found my self deceived. I now see my happiness in
other pleasures, and not in those where I fancied it." He follows these.
He becomes sickened. He finds the result different from his
expectations. He pursues pleasure, but pleasure is not there.

   [14]"They are lost
   In chase of fancied happiness, still woo'd,
   And never won. Dream after dream ensues;
   And still they dream, that they shall still succeed
   And still are disappointed."

[Footnote 14: Cowper.]

Thus after having wasted a considerable portion of his time, he is
driven at last by positive experience into the truth of those maxims,
which philosophy and religion have established, and in the pursuit of
which alone he now sees that true happiness is to be found. Thus, in
consequence of his education, he looses two thirds of his time in tedious
and unprofitable, if not in baneful pursuits. The young Quaker, on the
other hand, comes, by means of his education, to the same maxims of
philosophy and religion, as the foundation of his happiness, at a very
early period of life, and therefore saves the time, and preserves the
constitution which the other has been wasting for want of this early
knowledge. I know of no fact more striking, or more true in the
Quaker-history, than this, namely, that the young Quaker, who is educated
as a Quaker, gets such a knowledge of human nature, and of the paths to
wisdom and happiness, at an early age, that, though he is known to be a
young mariner by the youth displayed in his countenance, he is enabled to
conduct his bark through the dangerous rocks and shoals of life, with
greater safety than many others, who have been longer on the ocean of this
probationary world.

I may observe again, as the second fact, that it is not unusual to hear
persons say, that you seldom see a disorderly Quaker, or, that a
Quaker-prostitute or a Quaker criminal is unknown. These declarations,
frequently and openly made, shew at least that there is an opinion among
the world at large, that the Quakers are a moral people.

The mention of this last fact leads me to the notice, and the
correction, of an error, which I have found to have been taken up by
individuals. It is said by these that the Quakers are very wary with
respect to their disorderly members, for that when any of them behave
ill, they are expelled the society in order to rescue it from the
disgrace of a bad character. Thus if a Quaker woman were discovered to
be a prostitute, or a Quaker man to be taken up for a criminal offence,
no disgrace could attach to this society as it would to others; for if,
in the course of a week, after a discovery had been made of their
several offences, any person were to state that two Quaker members had
become infamous, it would be retorted upon him, that they were not
members of the society.

It will be proper to observe upon the subject of this error, that it is
not so probable that the Quakers would disown these, after the discovery
of their infamy, to get rid of any stain upon the character of the
society, as it is that these persons, long before the facts could be
known, had been both admonished and disowned. For there is great truth
in the old maxim "Nemo fecit repente 'turpissimus;" or "no man was ever
all at once a rogue."

So in the case of these persons, as of all others, they must have been
vicious by degrees: they must have shewn symptoms of some deviations
from rectitude, before the measure of their iniquity could have been
completed. But by the constitution of Quakerism, as will appear soon, no
person of the society can be found erring even for the first time,
without being liable to be privately admonished. These admonitions may
be repeated for weeks, or for months, or even for years, before the
subjects of them are pronounced so incorrigible as to be disowned. There
is great reason therefore to presume, in the case before us, though the
offenders in question would have undoubtedly been disowned by the
Quakers, after they were known to be such, yet that they had been
disowned long before their offences had been made public.

Upon the whole it may be allowed, that young Quakers arrive at the
knowledge of just sentiments, or at the true wisdom of life earlier than
those, who are inured to the fashions of the world; and it may be
allowed also that the Quakers, as a body, are a moral people. Now these
effects will generally be considered as the result of education; and
though the prohibitions of the Quakers may not be considered as the only
instruments of producing these effects, yet they must be allowed to be
component parts of the system, which produces them.


CHAP. I.... SECT. I.

_Discipline of two kinds--as it relates to the regulation of the
internal affairs of the society--or to the cognizance of immoral
conduct--difficulty of procuring obedience to moral precepts--this
attempted to be obviated by George Fox--outlines of his system for this
purpose--additions made to his system since his time--objections to the
system considered--this system, or the discipline of the Quakers, as far
as this branch of it is concerned, the great foundation-stone on which
their moral education is supported._

The discipline of the Quakers is divisible into two parts. The first may
comprehend the regulation of the internal affairs of the society, such
as the management of the poor belonging to it, the granting of
certificates of removal to its members, the hearing of their appeals
upon various occasions, the taking cognizance of their proposals of
marriage, and the like. The second may comprehend the notice or
observance of the moral conduct of individuals, with a view of
preserving the rules, which the Quakers have thought it their duty to
make, and the testimonies which they have thought it their duty to bear,
as a Christian people. It is to the latter part of the discipline that I
shall principally confine myself in the ensuing part of my work.

Nothing is more true than that, when men err in their moral practice, it
is not for want of good precepts or of wholesome advice. There are few
books from which we cannot collect some moral truths; and few men so
blind, as not to be able to point out to us the boundaries of moral
good. The pages of revelation have been long unfolded to our view, and
diffusively spread among us. We have had the advantage too of having
their contents frequently and publicly repeated into our ears. And yet,
knowing what is right, we cannot pursue it. We go off, on the other
hand, against our better knowledge, into the road to evil. Now, it was
the opinion of George Fox, that something might be done to counteract
this infirmity of human nature, or to make a man keep up to the precepts
which he believed to have been divinely inspired, or, in other words,
that a system of Discipline might be devised, for regulating, exciting,
and preserving the conduct of a Christian.

This system he at length completed, and, as he believed, with the divine
aid, and introduced it into the society with the approbation of those
who belonged to it.

The great principle, upon which he founded it, was, that every christian
was bound to watch over another for his good. This principle included
two ideas. First, that vigilance over the moral conduct of individuals
was a christian duty. Secondly, that any interference with persons, who
might err, was solely for their good. Their reformation was to be the
only object in view. Hence religious advice was necessary. Hence it was
to be administered with tenderness and patience. Hence nothing was to be
left undone, while there was a hope that any thing could be done, for
their spiritual welfare.

From this view of the subject he enjoined it to all the members of his
newly formed society, to be watchful over the conduct of one another,
and not to hesitate to step in for the recovery of those, whom they
might discover to be overtaken with a fault.

He enjoined it to them again, that they should follow the order
recommended by Jesus Christ upon such occasions.[15] "If thy brother
shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and
him alone. If he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if
he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the
mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he
shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church; but, if he neglect
to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a Heathen-man or a

[Footnote 15: Matt. 18. 15, 16, 17.]

For the carrying of this system into execution in the order thus
recommended, he appointed Courts, or meetings for dicipline, as the
Quakers call them, with the approbation of the society, where the case
of the disorderly should be considered, if it should be brought to the
cognizance of the church; and where a record should be kept of the
proceedings of the society respecting it. In these courts or meetings
the poor were to have an equal voice with the rich.--There was to be no
distinction but in favour of religious worth; And here it is to be
remarked, that he was so desirous, that the most righteous judgment
should be pronounced upon any offender, that he abandoned the usual mode
of decision, in general so highly valued, by a majority, of voices, and
recommended the decision to be made according to the apparent will of
the virtuous, who might be present.--And as expulsion from membership
with the church was to be considered as the heaviest punishment, which
the Quakers, as a religious body, could inflict, he gave the offender an
opportunity of appealing to meetings, different from those in which the
sentence had been pronounced against him, and where the decisive voices
were again to be collected from the preponderant weight of religious

He introduced also into his system of dicipline privileges in favour of
women, which marked his sense of justice, and the strength and
liberality of his mind. The men he considered undoubtedly as the heads
of the church, and from whom all laws concerning it ought to issue. But
he did not deny women on that account any power, which he thought it
would be proper for them to hold. He believed them to be capable of
great usefulness, and therefore admitted them to the honour of being, in
his own society, of nearly equal importance with the men.--In the
general duty, imposed upon members, of watching over one another, he
laid it upon the women, to be particularly careful in observing the
morals of those of then own sex. He gave them also meetings for
dicipline of their own, with the power, of recording their own
transactions, so that women were to act among courts or meetings of
women, as men among those of men. There was also to be no office in the
society belonging to the men, but he advised there should be a
corresponding one belonging to the women. By this new and impartial step
he raised the women of his own community beyond the level of women in
others, and laid the foundation of that improved strength of intellect,
dignity of mind, capability of business, and habit of humane offices,
which are so conspicuous among Female-Quakers at the present day.

With respect to the numerous offices, belonging to the discipline, he
laid it down as a principle, that the persons, who were to fill them,
were to have no other emolument or reward, than that, which a faithful
discharge of them would bring to their own consciences.

These are the general outlines of the system of discipline, as
introduced by George Fox. This system was carried into execution, as he
himself had formed it, in his own time. Additions, however, have been
made to it since, as it seemed proper, by the society at large. In the
time of George Fox, it was laid upon every member, as we have seen, to
watch over his neighbour for his spiritual welfare. But in 1698, the
society conceiving, that what was the business of every one might
eventually become the business of no one, appointed officers, whose
particular duty it should be to be overseers of the morals of
individuals; thus hoping, that by the general vigilance enjoined by
George Fox, which was still to continue, and by the particular vigilance
then appointed, sufficient care would be taken of the morals of the
whole body. In the time, again, of George Fox, women had, only their
monthly and quarterly meetings for discipline, but it has since been
determined, that they should have their yearly meetings equally with the
men. In the time, again, of George Fox, none but the grave members were
admitted into the meetings for discipline, but it has been since agreed,
that young persons should have the privilege of attending them, and
this, I believe, upon the notion, that. While these meetings would
quality them for transacting the business of the society, they might
operate as schools far virtue.

This system of discipline, as thus introduced by George Fox, and as thus
enlarged by the society afterwards, has not escaped, notwithstanding the
loveliness of its theory, the censure of the world.

It has been considered in the first place, as a system of espionage, by
which one member is made a spy upon, or becomes an informer against
another. But against this charge it would be observed by the Quakers,
that vigilance over morals is unquestionably a Christian duty. It would
be observed again that the vigilance which is exercised in this case, is
not with the intention of mischief, as in the case of spies and
informers, but with the intention of good. It is not to obtain money,
but to preserve reputation and virtue. It is not to persecute but to
reclaim. It is not to make a man odious, but to make him more
respectable. It is never an interference with innocence. The
watchfulness begins to be offensive only, where delinquency is begun.

The discipline, again, has been considered as too great an
infringement, of the liberty of those, who are brought under it. Against
this the Quakers would contend, that all persona who live in civil
society, must give up a portion of their freedom, that more happiness
and security may be enjoyed. So, when men enter into Christian
societies, they must part with a little of their liberty for their moral

But whatever may be the light in which persons, not of the society, may
view this institution, the Quakers submit to, and respect it. It is
possible there may be some, who may feel it a restraint upon their
conduct. And there is no doubt, that it is a restraint upon those, who
have irregular desires to gratify, or destructive pleasures to pursue.
But generally speaking, the youth of the society, who receive a
consistent education, approve of it. Genuine Quaker parents, as I have
had occasion to observe, insist upon the subjugation of the will. It is
their object to make their children lowly, patient and submissive. Those
therefore, who are born in the society, are born under the system, and
are in general educated for it. Those who become converted to the
religion of the society, know beforehand the terms of their admission.
And it will appear to all to be at least an equitable institution,
because in the administration of it, there is no exception of persons.
The officers themselves, who are appointed to watch over, fall under the
inspection of the discipline. The poor may admonish the rich, and the
rich the poor. There, is no exception, in short, either for age, or sex,
or station.

It is not necessary, at least in the present place, that I should go
farther, and rake up all the objections, that may be urged upon this
subject. I shall therefore only observe here, that the discipline of the
Quakers, notwithstanding all its supposed imperfections, whatever, they
may be, is the grand foundation-stone, upon which their moral education
is supported. It is the grand partition wall between them and vice. If
this part of the fabric were ever allowed to, be undermined, the
building would fall to pieces; though the Quakers might still be known
by their apparel and their language, they would no longer be so
remarkable as they are now generally confessed to, be, for their moral


_Manner of the administration of the discipline of the
Quakers--Overseers appointed to every particular meeting--Manner of
reclaiming an individual--first by admonition--this sometimes
successful--secondly by dealing--this sometimes successful--but if
unsuccessful, the offender is disowned--but he may appeal afterwards to
two different courts or meetings for redress.--_

Having now given the general outlines of the discipline of the Quakers, I
shall proceed to explain the particular manner of the administration of

To administer it effectually all individuals of the society, as I have
just stated, whether men or women, are allowed the power of watching
over the conduct of one another for their good, and of interfering if
they should see occasion.

But besides this general care two or more persons of age and experience,
and of moral lives and character, and two or more women of a similar
description, are directed to be appointed, to have the oversight of
every congregation or particular meeting in the kingdom. These persons
are called overseers, because it is their duty to oversee their
respective flocks.

If any of the members should violate the prohibitions mentioned in the
former part of the work, or should become chargeable with injustice,
drunkenness, or profane swearing, or neglect of their public worship, or
should act in any way inconsistently with his character as a christian,
it becomes the particular duty of these overseers, though it is also the
duty of the members at large, to visit him in private, to set before
him the error and consequences of his conduct, and to endeavour by all
the means in their power to reclaim him. This act on the part of the
overseer is termed by the society admonishing. The circumstances of
admonishing and of being admonished are known only to the parties,
except the case should have become of itself notorious; for secrecy is
held sacred on the part of the persons who admonish. Hence it may
happen, that several of the society may admonish the same person, though
no one of them knows that any other has been visiting him at all. The
offender may be thus admonished by overseers and other individuals for
weeks and months together, for no time is fixed by the society, and no
pains are supposed to be spared for his reformation. It is expected,
however, in all such admonitions, that no austerity of language or
manner should be used, but that he should be admonished in tenderness
and love.

If an overseer, or any other individual, after having thus laboured to
reclaim another for a considerable length of time, finds that he has not
succeeded in his work, and feels also that he despairs of succeeding by
his own efforts, he opens the matter to some other overseer, or to one
or more serious members, and requests their aid. These persons now wait
upon the offender together, and unite their efforts in endeavouring to
persuade him to amend his life. This act, which now becomes more public
by the junction of two or three in the work of his reformation, is still
kept a secret from other individuals of the society, and still retains
the name of admonishing.

It frequently happens that, during these different admonitions, the
offender sees his error, and corrects his conduct. The visitations of
course cease, and he goes on in the estimation of the society as a
regular or unoffending member, no one knowing but the admonishing
persons, that he has been under the discipline of the society. I may
observe here, that what is done by men to men is done by women to women,
the women admonishing and trying to reclaim those of their own sex, in
the same manner.

Should, however, the overseers, and other persons before mentioned, find
after a proper length of time that all their united efforts have been
ineffectual, and that they have no hope of success with respect to his
amendment, they lay the case, if it should be of a serious nature,
before a [16]court, which has the name of the monthly meeting. This
court, or meeting, make a minute of the case, and appoint a committee to
visit him. The committee in consequence, of their appointment wait upon
him. This act is now considered as a public act, or as an act of the
church. It is not now termed admonishing, but changes its name to
[17]dealing. The offender too, while the committee are dealing with
him, though he may attend the meetings of the society for worship, does
not attend those of their discipline.

[Footnote 16: Certain acts of delinquency are reported to the monthly
meeting, as soon as the truth of the facts can be ascertained, such as a
violation of the rules of the society, with respect to marriage, payment
of tythes, etc.]

[Footnote 17: Women, though they may admonish, cannot deal with women,
this being an act of the church, till they have consulted the meetings
of the men. Men are generally joined with women in the commission for
this purpose.]

If the committee, after having dealt with the offender according to
their appointment, should be satisfied that he is sensible of his error,
they make a report to the monthly court or meeting concerning him. A
minute is then drawn up, in which it is stated, that he has made
satisfaction for the offence. It sometimes happens, that he himself
sends to the same meeting a written acknowledgement of his error. From
this time he attends the meetings for discipline again, and is continued
in the society, as if nothing improper had taken place. Nor is any one
allowed to reproach him for his former faults.

Should, however, all endeavours prove ineffectual, and should the
committee, after having duly laboured with the offender, consider him at
last as incorrigible, they report their proceedings to the monthly
meeting. He is then publicly excluded from membership, or, as it is
called, [18]disowned. This is done by a distinct document, called a
testimony of disownment, in which the nature of the offence, and the
means that have been used to reclaim him, are described. A wish is also
generally expressed in this document, that he may repent, and be taken
into membership again. A copy of this minute is always required to be
given to him.

[Footnote 18: Women cannot disown, the power of disowning, is an act of
the church, being vested in the meetings of the men.]

If the offender should consider this act of disowning him as an unjust
proceeding, he may appeal to a higher tribunal, or to the quarterly
court, or meeting. This quarterly court or meeting, then appoint a
committee, of which no one of the monthly meeting that condemned him can
be a member, to reconsider his ease. Should this committee report, and
the quarterly meeting in consequence decide against him, he may appeal
to the yearly. This latter meeting is held in London, and consists of
deputies and others from all parts of the kingdom. The yearly meeting
then appoint a committee of twelve deputies, taken from twelve quarterly
meetings, none of whom can be from the quarterly meeting that passed
sentence against him, to examine his case again. If this committee
should confirm the former decisions, he may appeal to the yearly meeting
at large; but beyond this there is no appeal. But if he should even be
disowned by the voice of the yearly meeting at large, he may, if he
lives to give satisfactory proof of his amendment, and sues for
readmission into the society, be received into membership again; but he
can only be received through the medium of the monthly meeting, by which
he was first disowned.


_Two charges usually brought against this administration of the
discipline--that it is managed with an authoritative spirit--and that it
is managed partially--these charges are considered._

As two charges are usually brought against the administration of that
part of the discipline, which has been just explained, I shall consider
them in this place.

The first usually is, that, though the Quakers abhor what they call the
authority of priest craft, yet some overseers possess a portion of the
spirit of ecclesiastical dominion; that they are austere, authoritative,
and over bearing in the course of the exercise of their office, and
that, though the institution may be of Christian origin, it is not
always conducted by these with a Christian spirit. To this first charge
I shall make the following reply.

That there may be individual instances, where this charge may be
founded, I am neither disposed, nor qualified, to deny. Overseers have
their different tempers, like other people; and the exercise of dominion
has unquestionably a tendency to spoil the heart. So far there is an
opening for the admission of this charge. But it must be observed, on
the other hand, that the persons, to be chosen overseers, are to be by
the laws of the society[19] "as upright and unblameable in their
conversation, as they can be found, in order that the advice, which they
shall occasionally administer to other friends, may be the better
received, and carry with it the greater weight and force on the minds of
those, whom they shall be concerned to admonish." It must be observed
again that it is expressly enjoined them, that "they are to exercise
their functions in a meek, calm, and peaceable spirit, in order that
the admonished may see that their interference with their conduct
proceeds from a principle of love and a regard for their good, and
preservation in the truth."

[Footnote 19: Book of extracts.]

And it must be observed again, that any violation of this injunction
would render them liable to be admonished by others, and to come under
the discipline themselves.

The second charge is, that the discipline is administered partially; or
that more favour is shewn to the rich than to the poor, and that the
latter are sooner disowned than the former for the same faults.

This latter charge has probably arisen from a vulgar notion, that, as
the poor are supported by the society, there is a general wish to get
rid of them.--But this notion is not true. There is more than ordinary
caution in disowning those who are objects of support, add to which,
that, as some of the most orderly members of the body are to be found
among the poor, an expulsion of these, in a hasty manner, would be a
diminution of the quantum of respectability, or of the quantum of moral
character, of the society at large.

In examining this charge, it must certainly be allowed, that though the
principle "of no respect of persons" is no where carried to a greater
length than in the Quaker Society, yet we may reasonably expect to find
a drawback from the full operation of it in a variety of causes. We are
all of us too apt, in the first place, to look up to the rich, but to
look down upon the poor. We are apt to court the good will of the
former, when we seem to care very little even whether we offend the
latter. The rich themselves and the middle classes of men respect the
rich more than the poor; and the poor show more respect to the rich than
to one another. Hence it is possible; that a poor man may find more
reluctance in entering the doors of a rich man to admonish him, than one
who is rich to enter the doors of the poor for the same purpose, men,
again, though they may be equally good, may not have all the same
strength of character. Some overseers may be more timid than others, and
this timidity may operate upon them more in the execution of their duty
upon one class of individuals, than upon another. Hence a rich man may
escape for a longer time without admonition, than a poorer member. But
when the ice is once broken; when admonition is once begun; when
respectable persons have been called in by overseers or others, those
causes, which might be preventive of justice, will decrease; and, if the
matter should be carried to a monthly or a quarterly meeting, they will
wholly vanish. For in these courts it is a truth, that those, who are
the most irreproachable for their lives, and the most likely of course
to decide justly on any occasion, are the most attended to, or carry the
most weight, when they speak publicly. Now these are to be found
principally in the low and middle classes, and these, in all societies,
contain the greatest number of individuals. As to the very rich, these
are few indeed compared with the rest, and these may be subdivided into
two classes for the farther elucidation of the point. The first will
consist of men, who rigidly follow the rules of the society, and are as
exemplary as the very best of the members. The second will consist of
those, who we members according to the letter, but not according to the
spirit, and who are content with walking in the shadow, that follows the
substance of the body. Those of the first class will do justice, and
they will have on equal influence with any. Those of the second,
whatever may be their riches, or whatever they may say, are seldom if
ever attended to in the administration of the discipline.

From hence it will appear, that if there be any partiality in the
administration of this institution, it will consist principally in this,
that a rich man may be suffered in particular cases, to go longer
without admonition than a poorer member; but that after admonition has
been begun, justice will be impartially administered; and that the
charges of a preference, where disowning is concerned, has no solid
foundation for its support.


_Three great principles discoverable in the discipline, as hitherto
explained--these applicable to the discipline of larger societies, or to
the criminal codes of states--lamentable, that as Christian principles,
they have not been admitted into our own--Quakers, as far as they have
had influence in legislation, have adopted them--exertions of William
Penn--Legislature of Pennsylvania as example to other countries in this

I find it almost impossible to proceed to the great courts or meetings
of the Quakers, which I had allotted for my next subject, without
stopping a while to make a few observations on the principles of that
part of the discipline, which I have now explained.

It may be observed, first, that the great object of this part of the
discipline is the reformation of the offending person: secondly, that
the means of effecting this object consists of religious instruction or
advice: and thirdly, that no pains are to be spared, and no time to be
limited, for the trial of these means, or, in other words, that nothing
is to be left undone, while there is a hope that the offender may be
reclaimed. Now these principles the Quakers adopt in the exercise of
their discipline, because, as a Christian community, they believe they
ought to be guided only by Christian principles, and they know of no
other, which the letter, or the spirit of Christianity, can warrant.

I shall trespass upon the patience of the reader in this place, only
till I have made an application of these principles, or till I have
shewn him how far these might be extended, and extended with advantage
to morals, beyond the limits of the Quaker-society, by being received as
the basis, upon which a system, of penal laws might be founded, among
larger societies, or states.

It is much to be lamented, that nations, professing Christianity, should
have lost sight, in their various acts of legislation, of Christian
principles: or that they should not have interwoven some such beautiful
principles as those, which we have seen adopted by the Quakers, into the
system of their penal laws. But if this negligence or omission would
appear worthy of regret, if reported of any Christian nation, it would
appear most so, if reported of our own, where one would have supposed,
that the advantages of civil and religious liberty, and those of a
reformed religion, would have had their influence is the correction of
our judgments, and in the benevolent dispositions of our will. And yet
nothing is more true, than that these good influences have either never
been produced, or, if produced, that they have never been attended to,
upon this subject. There seems to be no provision for religions
instruction in our numerous prisons. We seem to make no patient trials
of those, who are confined in them, for their reformation. But, on the
other hand, we seem to hurry them off the stage of life, by means of a
code, which annexes death to two hundred different offences, as if we
had allowed our laws to be written by the bloody pen of the pagan Draco.
And it seems remarkable, that this system should be persevered in, when
we consider that death, as far as the experiment has been made in our
own country, has little or no effect as a punishment for crimes.
Forgery, and the circulation of forged paper, and the counterfeiting of
the money of the realm, are capital offences, and are never pardoned.
And yet no offences are more frequently committed than these. And it
seems still more remarkable, when we consider, in addition to this, that
in consequence of the experiments, made in other countries, it seems to
be approaching fast to an axiom, that crimes are less frequent, in
proportion as mercy takes place of severity, or as there are judicious
substitutes for the punishment of death.

I shall not inquire, in this place, how far the right of taking away
life on many occasions, which is sanctioned by the law of the land, can
be supported on the ground of justice, or how for a greater injury is
done by it, than the injury the criminal has himself done. As
Christians, it seems that we should be influenced by Christian
principles. Now nothing can be more true, than that Christianity
commands us to be tender hearted one to another, to have a tender
forbearance one with another, and to regard one another as brethren. We
are taught also that men, independently of their accountableness to
their own governments, are accountable for their actions in a future
state, and that punishments are unquestionably to follow. But where are
our forbearance and our love, where is our regard for the temporal and
eternal interests of man, where is our respect for the principles of the
gospel, if we make the reformation of a criminal a less object than his
punishment, or if we consign him to death, in the midst of his sins,
without having tried all the means in our power for his recovery?

Had the Quakers been the legislators of the world, they had long ago
interwoven the principles of their discipline into their penal codes,
and death had been long ago abolished as a punishment for crimes. As far
as they have had any power with legislatures, they have procured an
attention to these principles. George Fox remonstrated with the judges
in his time on the subject of capital punishments. But the Quakers
having been few in number, compared with the rest of their countrymen,
and having had no seats in the legislature, and no predominant interest
with the members of it, they have been unable to effect any change in
England on this subject. In Pennsylvania, however, where they were the
original colonists, they have had influence with their own government,
and they have contributed to set up a model of jurisprudence, worthy of
the imitation of the world.

William Penn, on his arrival in America, formed a code of laws chiefly
on Quaker principles, in which, however, death was inscribed as a
punishment, but it was confined to murder. Queen Anne set this code
aside, and substituted the statute and common law of the mother country.
It was, however, resumed in time, and acted upon for some years, when it
was set aside by the mother country again. From this time it continued
dormant till the separation of America from England. But no sooner had
this event taken place, which rendered the American states their own
legislators, than the Pennsylvanian Quakers began to aim at obtaining an
alteration of the penal laws. In this they were joined by worthy
individuals of other denominations; and these, acting in union, procured
from the legislature of Pennsylvania, in the year 1786, a reform of the
criminal code. This reform, however, was not carried, in the opinion of
the Quakers, to a sufficient length. Accordingly, they took the lead
again, and exerted themselves afresh upon this subject. Many of them
formed themselves into a society "for alleviating the miseries of public
prisons." Other persons co-operated with them in this undertaking also.
At length, after great perseverance, they prevailed upon the same
legislature, in the year 1790, to try an ameliorated system. This trial
answered so well, that the same legislature again, in the year 1794,
established an act, in which several Quaker principles were
incorporated, and in which only the crime of premeditated murder was
punishable with death.

As there is now but one capital offence in Pennsylvania, punishments for
other offences are made up of fine, imprisonment, and labour; and these
are awarded separately or conjointly, according to the magnitude of the

When criminals have been convicted, and sent to the great gaol of
Philadelphia to undergo their punishment, it is expected of them that
they should maintain themselves out of their daily labour; that they
should pay for their board and washing, and also for the use of their
different implements of labour; and that they should defray the expences
of their commitment, and of their prosecutions and their trials. An
account therefore is regularly kept against them, and if at the
expiration of the term of their punishment, there should be a surplus of
money in their favour, arising out of the produce of their work, it is
given to them on their discharge.

An agreement is usually made about the price of prison-labour between
the inspector of the gaol and the employers of the criminals.

As reformation is now the great object in Pennsylvania, where offences
have been committed, it is of the first importance that the gaoler and
the different inspectors should be persons of moral character. Good
example, religious advice, and humane treatment on the part of these,
will have a tendency to produce attention, respect, and love on the part
of the prisoners, and to influence their moral conduct. Hence it is a
rule never to be departed from, that none are to be chosen as successors
to these different officers, but such, as shall be found on inquiry to
have been exemplary in their lives.

As reformation, again, is now the great object, no corporal punishment
is allowed in the prison. No keeper can strike a criminal. Nor can any
criminal be put into irons. All such punishments are considered as doing
harm. They tend to extirpate a sense of shame. They tend to degrade a
man and to make him consider himself as degraded in his own eyes;
whereas it is the design of this change in the penal system, that he
should be constantly looking up to the restoration of his dignity as a
man, and to the recovery of his moral character.

As reformation, again, is now the great object, the following[20] system
is adopted. No intercourse is allowed between the males and the females,
nor any between the untried and the convicted prisoners. While they are
engaged in their labour, they are allowed to talk only upon the subject,
which immediately relates to their work. All unnecessary conversation
is forbidden. Profane swearing is never overlooked. A strict watch is
kept, that no spirituous liquors may be introduced. Care is taken that
all the prisoners have the benefit of religious instruction. The prison
is accordingly open, at stated times, to the pastors of the different
religious denominations of the place. And as the mind of man may be
worked upon by rewards as well as by punishments, a hope is held out to
the prisoners, that the time of their confinement may be shortened by
their good behaviour. For the inspectors, if they have reason to believe
that a solid reformation has taken place in any individual, have a power
of interceding for his enlargement, and the executive government of
granting it, if they think it proper. In the case, where the prisoners
are refractory, they are usually put into solitary confinement, and
deprived of the opportunity of working. During this time the expences of
their board and washing are going on, so that they are glad to get into
employment again, that they may liquidate the debt, which, since the
suspension of their labour, has been accruing to the gaol.

[Footnote 20: As cleanliness is connected with health, and health with
morals, the prisoner are obliged to wash and clean themselves every
morning before their work, and to bathe in the summer-season, in a large
reservoir of water, which is provided in the court yard of the prison
for this purpose.]

In consequence of these regulations, those who visit the criminals in
Philadelphia in the hours of their labour, have more the idea of a
large manufactory, than of a prison. They see nail-makers, sawyers,
carpenters, joiners, weavers, and others, all busily employed. They see
regularity and order among these. And as no chains are to be seen in the
prison, they seem to forget their situation as criminals, and to look
upon them as the free and honest labourers of a community following
their respective trades.

In consequence of these regulations, great advantages have arisen both
to the criminals, and to the state. The state has experienced a
diminution of crimes to the amount of one half since the change of the
penal system, and the criminals have been restored, in a great
proportion, from the gaol to the community, as reformed persons. For few
have been known to stay the whole term of their confinement. But no
person could have had any of his time remitted him, except he had been
considered both by the inspectors and the executive government as
deserving it. This circumstance of permission to leave the prison before
the time expressed in the sentence, is of great importance to the
prisoners. For it operates as a certificate for them of their amendment
to the world at large. Hence no stigma is attached to them for having
been the inhabitants of a prison. It may be observed also, that some of
the most orderly and industrious, and such as have worked at the most
profitable trades, have had sums of money to take on their discharge,
by which they have been able to maintain themselves honestly, till they
could get into employ.

Such is the state, and such the manner of the execution of the penal
laws of Pennsylvania, as founded upon Quaker-principles, so happy have
the effects of this new system already been, that it is supposed it will
be adopted by the other American States.

May the example be universally followed! May it be universally received
as a truth, that true policy is inseparable from virtue; that in
proportion as principles become lovely on account of their morality,
they will become beneficial, when acted upon, both to individual and to
States; or that legislators cannot raise a constitution upon so fair and
firm a foundation, as upon the gospel of Jesus Christ!


_Monthly court or meeting--constitution of this meeting--each county is
usually divided into parts--in each of these parts or divisions are
several meeting-houses, which have their several congregations attached
to them--one meeting-house in each division is fixed upon for
transacting the business of all the congregations in that
division--deputies appointed from every particular meeting or
congregation in each division to the place fixed upon for transacting
the business within it--nature of the business to be transacted--women
become deputies, and transact business, equally with the men._

I come, after this long digression, to the courts of the Quakers. And
here I shall immediately premise, that I profess to do little more than
to give a general outline of these. I do not intend to explain the
proceedings, preparatory to the meetings there, or to state all the
exceptions from general rules, or to trouble the memory of the reader
with more circumstances than will be sufficient to enable him to have a
general idea of this part of the discipline of the Quakers.

The Quakers manage their discipline by means of monthly, quarterly, and
yearly courts, to which, however they themselves uniformly give the name
of meetings.

To explain the nature and business of the monthly or first of these
meetings, I shall fix upon some county in my own mind, and describe the
business, that is usually done in this in the course of the month. For
as the business, which is usually transacted in any one county, is done
by the Quakers in the same manner and in the same month in another, the
reader, by supposing an aggregate of counties, may easily imagine, how
the whole business of the society is done for the whole kingdom.

The Quakers[21] usually divide a county into a number of parts,
according to the Quaker-population of it. In each of these divisions
there are usually several meeting-houses, and these have their several
congregations attached to them. One meeting-house, however, in each
division, is usually fixed upon for transacting the business of all the
congregations that are within it, or for the holding of these monthly
courts. The different congregations of the Quakers, or the members of
the different particular meetings, which are settled in the northern
part of the county, are attached of course to the meeting-house, which
has been fixed upon in the northern division of it because it gives them
the least trouble to repair to it on this occasion. The numbers of those
again, which are settled in the southern, or central, or other parts of
the county, are attached to that, which has been fixed upon in the
southern, or central, or other divisions of it, for the same reason. The
different congregations in the northern division of the county appoint,
each of them, a set of deputies once a month, which deputies are of both
sexes, to repair to the meeting-house, which has been thus assigned
them. The different congregations in the southern, central, or other
divisions, appoint also, each of them, others, to repair to that, which
has been assigned them in like manner. These deputies are all of them
previously instructed in the matters, belonging to the congregations,
which they respectively represent.

[Footnote 21: This was the ancient method, when the society was numerous
in every county of the kingdom, and the principle is still followed
according to existing circumstances.]

At length the day arrives for the monthly meeting. The deputies make
ready to execute the duties committed to their trust. They repair, each
sett of them, to their respective places of meeting. Here a number of
Quakers, of different ages and of both sexes, from their different
divisions, repair also. It is expected that[22] all, who can
conveniently attend, should be present on this occasion.

[Footnote 22: There may be persons, who on account of immoral conduct
cannot attend.]

When they are collected at the meeting-house, which was said to have
been fixed upon in each division, a meeting for worship takes place. All
persons, both men and women, attend together. But when this meeting is
over, they separate into different apartments for the purposes of the
discipline; the men to transact by themselves the business of the men,
and of their own district, the women to transact that, which is more
limited, namely such as belongs to their own sex.

In the men's meeting, and it is the same in the women's, the names of
the deputies beforementioned, are first entered in a book, for, until
this act takes place, the meeting for discipline is not considered to be

The minutes of the last monthly meeting are then generally read, by
which it is seen if any business of the society was left unfinished.
Should any thing occur of this sort, it becomes the [23]first object to
be considered and dispatched.

[Footnote 23: The London monthly meetings begin differently from those
in the country.]

The new business, in which the deputies were said to have been
previously instructed by the congregations which they represented comes
on. This business may be of various sorts. One part of it uniformly
relates to the poor. The wants of these are provided for, and the
education of their children taken care of, at this meeting.
Presentations of marriages are received, and births, marriages, and
funerals are registered. If disorderly members, after long and repeated
admonitions, should have given no hopes of amendment, their case is
first publicly cognizable in this court. Committees are appointed to
visit, advise, and try to reclaim them. Persons, reclaimed by these
visitations, are restored to membership, after having been well reported
of by the parties deputed to visit them. The fitness of persons,
applying for membership, from other societies, is examined here. Answers
also are prepared to the [24]queries at the proper time. Instructions
also are given, if necessary, to particular meetings, suited to the
exigencies of their cases; and certificates are granted to members on
various occasions.

[Footnote 24: These queries will be explained in the next chapter.]

In transacting this, and other business of the society, all members
present we allowed to speak. The poorest man in the meeting-house,
though he may be receiving charitable contributions at the time, is
entitled to deliver his sentiments upon any point. He may bring forward
new matter. He may approve or object to what others have proposed before
him. No person may interrupt him, while he speaks. The youth, who are
sitting by, are gaining a knowledge of the affairs and discipline of the
society, and are gradually acquiring sentiments and habits, that are to
mark their character in life. They learn, in the first place, the duty
of a benevolent and respectful consideration for the poor. In hearing
the different cases argued and discussed, they learn, in some measure,
the rudiments of justice, and imbibe opinions of the necessity of moral
conduct. In these courts they learn to reason. They learn also to hear
others patiently, and without interruption, and to transact business,
that may come before them in maturer years with regularity and order.

I cannot omit to mention here the orderly manner in which, the Quakers,
conduct their business on these occasions. When a subject is brought
before them, it is canvassed to the exclusion of all extraneous matter,
till some conclusion results. The clerk of the monthly meeting then
draws up a minute, containing, as nearly as he can collect, the
substance of this conclusion. This minute is then read aloud to the
auditory, and either stands or undergoes an alteration, as appears, by
the silence or discussion upon it, to be the sense of the meeting. When
fully agreed upon, it stands ready to be recorded. When a second subject
comes on, it is canvassed, and a minute is made of it, to be recorded in
the same manner, before a third is allowed to be introduced. Thus each
point is settled, till the whole business of the meeting is concluded.

I may now mention that in the same manner as the men proceed in their
apartment on this occasion, the women proceed in their own apartment or
meeting also. There are women-deputies, and women-clerks. They enter
down the names of these deputies, read the minutes, of the last monthly
meeting, bring forward the new matter, and deliberate and argue on the
affairs of their own sex. They record their proceedings equally. The
young females also, are present, and have similar opportunities of
gaining knowledge, and of improving their judgments, and of acquiring
useful and moral habits, as the young men.

It is usual, when the women have finished the business of their own
meeting, to send one of their members to the apartments of the men, to
know if they have any thing to communicate. This messenger having
returned, and every thing having been settled and recorded in both
meetings, the monthly meeting is over, and men, women, and youth of both
sexes, return to their respective homes.

In the same manner as the different congregations, or members of the
different meetings, in any one division of the county, meet together,
and transact their monthly business, so other different congregations,
belonging to other divisions of the same county, meet at other appointed
places, and dispatch their business also. And in the same manner as the
business is thus done in one county, it is done in every other county
of the kingdom once a month.


_Quarterly court or meeting--constitution of this meeting--one place in
each county is now fixed upon for the transaction of business-this place
may be different in the different quarters of the year--deputies from
the various monthly meetings are appointed to repair to this
place--nature of the business to be transacted--certain queries
proposed--written answers carried to these by the deputies just
mentioned--Queries proposed in the womens meeting also, and answered in
the same manner_.--

The quarterly meeting of the Quakers, which comes next in order, is much
more numerously attended than the monthly. The monthly, as we have just
seen, superintend the concerns of a few congregations or particular
meetings which were contained in a small division of the county. The
quarterly meeting, on the other hand, superintends the concerns of all
the monthly meetings in the county at large. It takes cognizance of
course of the concerns of a greater portion of population, and, as the
name implies, for a greater extent of time. The Quaker population of a
[25] whole county is now to assemble in one place. This place, however,
is not always the same. It may be different, to accommodate the members
in their turn, in the different quarters of the year.

[Footnote 25: I still adhere, to give the reader a clearer idea of the
discipline, and to prevent confusion, to the division by county, though
the district in question may not always comprehend a complete county.]

In the same manner as the different congregations in a small division of
a county have been shewn to have sent deputies to the respective monthly
meetings within it, so the different monthly meetings in the same county
send each of them, deputies to the quarterly. Two or more of each sex
are generally deputed from each monthly meeting. These deputies are
supposed to have understood, at the monthly meeting, where they were
chosen, all the matters which the discipline required them to know
relative to the state and condition of their constituents. Furnished
with this knowledge, and instructed moreover by written documents on a
variety of subjects, they repair at a proper time to the place of
meeting. All the Quakers in the district in question, who are expected
to go, bend their direction hither. Any person travelling in the county
at this time, would see an unusual number of Quakers upon the road
directing their journey to the same point. Those who live farthest from
the place where the meeting is held, have often a long journey to
perform. The Quakers are frequently out two or three whole days, and
sometimes longer upon this occasion. But as this sort of meeting takes
place but once in the quarter, the loss of their time, and the fatigue
of their journey, and the expences attending it, are borne cheerfully.

When all of them are assembled, nearly the same custom obtains at the
quarterly, as has been described at the monthly meeting. A meeting for
worship is first held. The men and women, when this is over, separate
into their different apartments, after which the meeting for discipline
begins in each.

I shall not detail the different kinds of business, which come on at
this meeting. I shall explain the principal subject only.

The society at large have agreed upon a number of questions, or queries
as they call them, which they have committed to print, and which they
expect to be read and answered in the course of these quarterly meetings
The following is a list of them.

I. Are meetings for worship and discipline kept up, and do Friends
attend them duly, and at the time appointed; and do they avoid all
unbecoming behavieur therein?

II. Is there among you any growth in the truth; and hath any
convincement appeared since last year?

III. Are Friends preserved in love towards each other; if differences
arise, is due care taken speedily to end them; and are Friends careful
to avoid and discourage tale-bearing and detraction?

IV. Do Friends endeavour by example and precept to train up their
children, servants, and all under their core, in a religions life and
conversation, consistent with our Christian profession, in the frequent
reading of the holy scriptures, and in plainness of speech, behaviour
and apparel?

V. Are Friends just in their dealings and punctual in fulfilling their
engagements; and are they annually advised carefully to inspect the
state of their affairs once in the year?

VI. Are Friends careful to avoid all vain sports and places of
diversion, gaming, all unnecessary frequenting of taverns, and other
public houses, excess in drinking, and other intemperance?

VII. Do Friends bear a faithful and Christian testimony against
receiving and paying tythes, priests demands, and those called

VIII. Are Friends faithful in our testimony against bearing arms, and
being in any manner concerned in the militia, in privateers, letters of
marque, or armed vessels, or dealing in prize-goods?

IX. Are Friends clear of defrauding the king of his customs, duties and
excise, and of using, or dealing in goods suspected to be run?

X. Are the necessities of the poor among you properly inspected and
relieved; and is good care taken of the education of their offspring?

XI. Have any meetings been settled, discontinued, or united since last

XII. Are there any Friends prisoners for our testimonies; and if any one
hath died a prisoner, or been discharged since last year, when and how?

XIII. Is early care taken to admonish such as appear inclinable to marry
in a manner contrary to the rules of our society; and to deal with such
as persist in refusing to take counsel?

XIV. Have you two or more faithful friends, appointed by the monthly
meeting, as overseers in each particular meeting; are the rules
respecting removals duly observed; and is due care taken, when any thing
appears amiss, that the rules of our discipline be timely and
impartially put in practice?

XV. Do you keep a record of the prosecutions and sufferings of your
members; is due care taken to register all marriages, births, and
burials; are the titles of your meeting houses, burial grounds, &c. duly
preserved and recorded; and are all legacies and donations properly
secured, and recorded, and duly applied?

These are the Questions, which the society expect should be publicly
asked and answered in their quarterly courts or meetings. Some of these
are to be answered in one quarterly meeting, and [26] others in another;
and all of them in the course of the year.

[Footnote 26: The Quakers consider the punctual attendance of their
religious meetings, the preservation of love among them, and the care of
the poor, of such particular importance, that they require the first,
third, and tenth to be answered every quarter.]

The clerk of the quarterly meeting, when they come to this part of the
business, reads the first of the appointed queries to the members
present, and is then silent. Soon after this a deputy from one of the
monthly meetings comes forward, and producing the written documents, or
answers to the queries, all of which were prepared at the meeting where
he was chosen, reads that document, which contains a reply to the first
query in behalf of the meeting he represents. A deputy from a second
monthly meeting then comes forward, and produces his written documents
also, and answers the same query in behalf of his own meeting in the
same manner. A deputy from a third where there are more than two
meetings then produces his documents in his turn, and replies to it
also, and this mode is observed, till all the deputies from each of the
monthly meetings in the county have answered the first query.

When the first query has been thus fully answered, silence is observed
through the whole court. Members present have now an opportunity of
making any observations they may think proper. If it should appear by
any of the answers to the first query, that there is any departure from
principles on the subject it contains in any of the monthly meetings
which the deputies represent, it is noticed by any one present. The
observations made by one frequently give rise to observations from
another. Advice is sometimes ordered to be given, adapted to the nature
of this departure from principles; and this advice is occasionally
circulated, through the medium of the different monthly meetings, to the
particular congregation, where the deviation has taken place.

When the first query has been thus read by the clerk, and answered by
the deputies, and when observations have been made upon it, and
instructions given as now described, a second query is read audibly, and
the same process takes place, and similar observations are sometimes
made, and instructions given.

In the same manner a third query is read by the clerk, and answered by
all the deputies, and observed upon by the meeting at large; and so on a
fourth, and a fifth, till all the queries, set apart for the day are

It may be proper now to observe, that while the men in their own
meeting-house are thus transacting the quarterly business for
themselves, the women, in a different apartment or meeting-house, are
conducting it also for their own sex. They read, answer, and observe
upon, the queries in the same manner. When they nave settled their own
business, they send one or two of their members, as they did in the case
of the monthly meeting, to the apartment of the men, to know if they
have any thing to communicate to them. When the business is finished in
both meetings, they break up, and prepare for their respective homes.


_Great yearly court or meeting--constitution of this meeting--one place
only of meeting fixed upon for the whole kingdom--this the
metropolis--deputies appointed to it from the quarterly
meetings--business transacted at this meeting--matters decided, not by
the influence of numbers, but by the weight of religious character--no
head or chairman of this meeting--character of this discipline or
government of the Quakers--the laws, relating to it better obeyed than
those under any other discipline or government--reasons of this

In the order, in which I have hitherto mentioned the meetings for the
discipline of the Quakers, we have seen them rising by regular ascent,
both in importance and power. We have seen each in due progression
comprizing the actions of a greater population than the foregoing, and
for a greater period of time. I come now to the yearly meeting, which is
possessed of a higher and wider jurisdiction than any that have been yet
described. This meeting does not take cognizance of the conduct of
particular or of monthly meetings, but, at one general view, of the
state and conduct of the members of each quarterly meeting, in order to
form a judgment of the general state of the society for the whole

We have seen, on a former occasion, the Quakers with their several
deputies repairing to different places in a county; and we have seen
them lately with their deputies again repairing to one great town in the
different counties at large. We are now to see them repairing to the
metropolis of the kingdom.

As deputies were chosen by each monthly meeting to represent it in the
quarterly meeting, so the quarterly meetings choose deputies to
represent them in the yearly meeting. These deputies are commissioned to
be the bearers of certain documents to London, which contain answers in
writing to a [27]number of the queries mentioned in the last chapter.
These answers are made up from the answers received by the several
quarterly meetings from their respective monthly meetings. Besides these
they are to carry with them other documents, among which are accounts of
sufferings in consequence of a refusal of military service, and of the
payment of the demands of the church.

[Footnote 27: Viz. numbers 1,2,3,4,7,8,9,10,11,12]

The deputies who are now generally four in number for each quarterly
meeting, that is, four of each sex (except for the quarterly meetings of
York and London, the former of which generally sends eight men and the
[28] latter twelve, and each of them the like number of females) having
received their different documents, set forward on their journey.
Besides these many members of the society repair to the metropolis. The
distance of three or four hundred miles forms no impediment to the
journey. A man cannot travel at this time, but he sees the Quakers in
motion from all parts, shaping their course to London, there to
exercise, as will appear shortly, the power of deputies, judges, and
legislators in turn, and to investigate and settle the affairs of the
society for the preceding year.

[Footnote 28: The quarterly meeting of London includes Middlesex.]

It may not be amiss to mention a circumstance, which has not
unfrequently occurred upon these occasions. A Quaker in low
circumstances, but of unblemished life, has been occasionally chosen as
one of the deputies to the metropolis even for a county, where the
Quaker-population has been considered to be rich. This deputy has
scarcely been able, on account of the low state of his finances, to
accomplish his journey, and has been known to travel on foot from
distant parts. I mention this circumstance to shew that the society in
its choice of representatives, shews no respect to persons, but that it
pays, even in the persons of the poor, the respect that is due to

The day of the yearly meeting at length arrives. Whole days are now
devoted to business, for which various committees are obliged to be
appointed. The men, as before, retire to a meeting-house allotted to
them, to settle the business for the men and the society at large, and
the women retire to another, to settle that, which belongs to their own
sex. There are nevertheless, at intervals, meetings for worship at the
several meeting houses in the metropolis.

One great part of the business of the yearly meeting is to know the
state of the society in all its branches of discipline for the preceding
year. This is known by hearing the answers brought to the queries from
the several quarterly meetings, which are audibly read by the clerk or
his assistant, and are taken in rotation alphabetically. If any
deficiency in the discipline should appear by means of these documents,
in any of the quarterly meetings, remarks follow on the part of the
auditory, and written advices are ordered to be sent, if it should
appear necessary, which are either of a general nature, or particularly
directed to those where the deficiency has been observed.

Another part of the business of the yearly meeting is to ascertain the
amount of the money, called "FRIENDS SUFFERINGS," that is of the money,
or the value of the goods, that have been taken from the Quakers for
[29] tithes and church dues; for the society are principled against the
maintenance of any religious ministry, and of course cannot
conscientiously pay toward the support of the established church. In
consequence of their refusal of payment in the latter case, their goods
are seized by a law-process, and sold to the best bidder. Those, who
have the charge of these executions, behave differently. Some wantonly
take such goods, as will not sell for a quarter of their value, and
others much more than is necessary, and others again kindly select
those, which in the sale will be attended with the least loss. This
amount, arising from this confiscation of their property, is easily
ascertained from the written answers of the deputies. The sum for each
county is observed, and noted down. The different sums are then added
together, and the amount for the whole kingdom within the year is

[Footnote 29: Distraints or imprisonment for refusing to serve in the
militia are included also under the head "sufferings."]

In speaking of tithes and church-dues I must correct an error, that is
prevalent. It is usually understood, when Quakers suffer on these
accounts, that their losses are made up by the society at large. Nothing
can be more false than this idea. Were their losses made up on such
occasions, there would be no suffering. The fact is, that whatever a
person loses in this way is his own total loss; nor is it ever refunded,
though, in consequence of expensive prosecutions at law, it has amounted
to the whole of the property of those, who have refused the payment of
these demands. If a man were to come to poverty on this account, he
would undoubtedly be supported, but he would only be supported as
belonging to the poor of the society.

Among the subjects, introduced at this meeting, may be that of any new
regulations for the government of the society. The Quakers are not so
blindly attached to antiquity, as to keep to customs, merely because
they are of an ancient date. But they are ready, on conviction, to
change, alter, and improve. When, however, such regulations or
alterations are proposed, they must come not through the medium of an
individual, but through the medium of one of the quarterly meetings.

There is also a variety of other business at the yearly meeting. Reports
are received and considered on the subject of Ackworth school, which was
mentioned in a former part of the work as a public seminary of the

Letters are also read from the branches of the society in foreign parts,
and answers prepared to them.

Appeals also are heard in various instances, and determined in this

I may mention here two circumstances, that are worthy of notice on these

It may be observed that whether such business as that, which I have just
detailed or any of any other sort comes before the yearly meeting at
large, it is decided, not by the influence of numbers, but by the weight
of religious character. As most subjects afford cause for a difference
of opinion, so the Quakers at this meeting are found taking their
different sides of the argument, as they believe it right. Those
however, who are in opposition to any measure, if they perceive by the
turn the debate takes, either that they are going against the general
will, or that they are opposing the sentiments of members of high moral
reputation in the society, give way. And so far do the Quakers carry
their condescension on these occasions, that if a few ancient and
respectable individuals seem to be dissatisfied with any measure that
may have been proposed, though otherwise respectably supported, the
measure is frequently postponed, out of tenderness to the feelings of
such members, and from a desire of gaining them in time by forbearance.
But, in whatever way the question before them is settled, no division is
ever called for. No counting of numbers is allowed. No protest is
suffered to be entered. In such a case there can be no ostensible leader
of any party; no ostensible minority or majority. The Quakers are of
opinion that such things, if allowed, would be inconsistent with their
profession. They would lead also to broils and divisions, and ultimately
to the detriment of the society. Every measure therefore is settled by
the Quakers at this meeting in the way I have mentioned, in brotherly
love, and as the name of the society signifies, as Friends.

The other remarkable circumstance is, that there is no ostensible
president or [30] head of this great assembly, nor any ostensible
president or head of any one of its committees; and yet the business of
the society is conducted in as orderly a manner, as it is possible to be
among any body of men, where the number is so great, and where every
individual has a right to speak.

[Footnote 30: Christ is supposed by the Quakers to be the head, under
whose guidance all their deliberations ought to take place.]

The state of the society having, by this time been ascertained, both in
the meetings of the women and of the men, from the written answers of
the different deputies, and from the reports of different committees,
and the [31]other business of the meeting having been nearly finished, a
committee, which had been previously chosen, meet to draw up a public

[Footnote 31: This may relate to the printing of books, to testimonies
concerning deceased ministers, addresses to the king, if thought
necessary, and the like.]

This letter usually comprehends three subjects: first, the state of the
society, in which the sufferings for tithes and other demands of the
church are included. This state, in all its different branches, the
committee ascertain by inspecting the answers, as brought by the
deputies before mentioned.

A second subject, comprehended in the letter, is advice to the society
for the regulation of their moral and civil conduct. This advice is
suggested partly from the same written answers, and partly by the
circumstances of the times. Are there, for instance, any vicious customs
creeping into the society, or any new dispositions among its members
contrary to the Quaker principles? The answers brought by the deputies
shew it, and advice is contained in the letter adapted to the case. Are
the times, seasons of difficulty and embarrassment in the commercial
world? Is the aspect of the political horizon gloomy, and does it appear
big with convulsions? New admonition and, advices follow.

A third subject, comprehended in the letter, and which I believe since
the year 1787 has frequently formed a standing article in it, is the
slave-trade. The Quakers consider this trade as so extensively big with
misery to their fellow creatures, that their members ought to have a
deep and awful feeling, and a religious care and concern about it. This
and occasionally other subjects having been duly weighed by the
committee, they begin to compose the letter.

When the letter is ready, it is brought into the public meeting, and the
whole of it, without interruption, is first read audibly. It is then
read over again, and canvassed, sentence by sentence. Every sentence,
nay every word, is liable to alteration; for any one may make his
remarks, and nothing can stand but by the sense of the meeting. When
finally settled and approved, it is printed and dispersed among the
members throughout the nation. This letter may be considered as
informing the society of certain matters, that occurred in the preceding
year, and as conveying to them admonitions on various subjects. This
letter is emphatically stiled "the General Epistle." The yearly
meeting, having now lasted about ten days, is dissolved after a solemn
pause, and the different deputies are at liberty to return home.

This important institution of the yearly meeting brings with it, on
every return, its pains and pleasures. To persons of maturer years, who
sit at this time on committee after committee, and have various offices
to perform, it is certainly an aniversary of care and anxiety, fatigue
and trouble. But it affords them, on the other hand, occasions of
innocent delight. Some, educated in the same school, and others, united
by the ties of blood and youthful friendship, but separated from one
another by following in distant situations the various concerns of life,
meet together in the intervals of the disciplinary business, and feel,
in the warm recognition of their ancient intercourse, a pleasure, which
might have been delayed for years, but for the intervention of this
occasion. To the youth it affords an opportunity, amidst this concourse
of members, of seeing those who are reputed to be of the most exemplary
character in the society, and whom they would not have had the same
chance of seeing at any other time. They are introduced also at this
season to their relations and family friends. They visit about, and form
new connections in the society, and are permitted the enjoyment of other
reasonable pleasures.

Such is the organization of the discipline or government of the
Quakers. Nor may it improperly be called a government, when we consider
that, besides all matters relating to the church, it takes cognizance of
the actions of Quakers to Quakers, and of these to their
fellow-citizens, and of these again to the state; in fact of all actions
of Quakers, if immoral in the eye of the society, us soon at they we
known. It gives out its prohibitions. It marks its crimes. It imposes
offices on its subjects. It culls them to disciplinary duties.[32]This
government however, notwithstanding its power, has, as I observed
before, no president or head, either permanent or temporary. There is no
first man through the whole society. Neither has it any badge of office,
or mace, or constables staff or sword. It may be observed also, that it
has no office of emolument, by which its hands can be strengthened,
neither minister, elder, [33]clerk, overseer, nor deputy, being paid;
and yet its administration is firmly conducted, and its laws better
obeyed, than laws by persons, under any other denomination or
government. The constant assemblage of the Quakers at their places of
worship, and their unwearied attendances at the monthly and quarterly
meetings, which they must often frequent at a great distance, to their
own personal inconvenience, and to the hindrance of their worldly
concerns, must be admitted, in part, as proofs of the last remark. But
when we consider them as a distinct people, differing in their manner of
speech and in their dress and customs from others, rebelling against
fashion and the fashionable world, and likely therefore to become rather
the objects of ridicule than of praise; when we consider these things,
and their steady and rigid perseverance in the peculiar rules and
customs of the society, we cannot but consider their obedience to their
own discipline, which makes a point of the observance of these
singularities, as extraordinary.

[Footnote 32: The government or discipline is considered as a

[Footnote 33: The clerk, who keeps the records of the society in London,
is the only person who has a salary.]

This singular obedience, however, to the laws of the society may be
accounted for on three principles. In the first place in no society is
there so much vigilance over the conduct of its members, as in that of
the Quakers, as this history of their discipline must have already
manifested. This vigilance of course, cannot miss of its effect. But a
second cause is the following. The Quaker-laws and regulations are not
made by any one person, nor by any number even of deputies. They are
made by themselves, that is by the society in yearly meeting assembled.
If a bad law, or the repeal of a good one, be proposed, every one
present, without distinction, has a right to speak against the motion.
The proposition cannot pass against the sense of the meeting. If persons
are not present, it is their own fault. Thus it happens that every law,
passed at the yearly meeting, may be considered, in some measure, as the
law of every Quaker's own will, and people are much more likely to
follow regulations made by their own consent, than those which are made
against it. This therefore has unquestionably an operation as a second
cause. A third may be traced in the peculiar sentiments, which the
Quakers hold as a religious body. They believe that many of their
members, when they deliver themselves publicly on any subject at the
yearly meeting, are influenced by the dictates of the pure principle, or
by the spirit of truth. Hence the laws of the society, which are
considered to be the result of such influences, have with them the
sanction of spiritual authority. They pay them therefore a greater
deference on this account, than they would to laws, which they conceive
to have been the production of the mere imagination, or will, of man.


_Disowning--foundation of the right of disowning--disowning no slight
punishment--wherein the hardship or suffering consists_.

I shall conclude the discipline of the Quakers by making a few remarks
on the subject of disowning.

The Quakers conceive they have a right to excommunicate or disown;
because persons, entering into any society, have a right to make their
own reasonable rules of membership, and so early as the year 1663, this
practice had been adopted by George Fox, and those who were in religious
union with him. Those, who are born in the society, are bound of course,
to abide by these rules, while they continue to be the rules of the
general will, or to leave it. Those who come into it by convincement,
are bound to follow them, or not to sue for admission into membership.
This right of disowning, which arises from the reasonableness of the
thing, the Quakers consider to have been pointed out and established by
the author of the christian religion, who determined that [34]if a
disorderly person, after having received repeated admonitions, should still
continue disorderly, he should be considered as an alien by the church.

[Footnote 34: Matt. 18.v. 17.]

The observations, which I shall make on the subject of disowning, will
be wholly confined to it as it must operate as a source of suffering to
those, who are sentenced to undergo it. People are apt to say, "where is
the hardship of being disowned? a man, though disowned by the Quakers,
may still go to their meetings for worship, or he may worship if he
chooses, with other dissenters, or with those of the church of England,
for the doors of all places of worship are open to those, who desire to
enter them." I shall state therefore in what this hardship consists, and
I should have done it sooner, but that I could never have made it so
well understood as after an explanation had been given of the discipline
of the Quakers, or as in the present place.

There is no doubt that a person, who is disowned, will be differently
affected by different considerations. Something will depend upon the
circumstance, whether he considers himself as disowned for a moral or a
political offence. Something, again, whether he has been in the habit of
attending the meetings for discipline, and what estimation he may put
upon these.

But whether he has been regular or not in these attendances, it is
certain that he has a power and a consequence, while he remains in his
own society, which he loses when he leaves it, or when he becomes a
member of the world. The reader will have already observed, that in no
society is a man, if I may use the expression, so much of a man, as in
that of the Quakers, or in no society is there such an equality of rank
and privileges. A Quaker is called, as we have seen, to the exercise of
important and honourable functions.

He sits in his monthly meeting, as it were in council, with the rest of
the members. He sees all equal but he sees none superior, to himself. He
may give his advice on any question. He may propose new matter. He may
argue and reply. In the quarterly meetings he is called to the exercise
of the same privileges, but on a larger scale. And at the yearly meeting
he may, if he pleases, unite in his own person the offices of council,
judge, and legislator. But when he leaves the society, and goes out into
the world, he has no such station or power. He sees there every body
equal to himself in privileges, and thousands above him. It is in this
loss of his former consequence that he must feel a punishment in having
been disowned. For he can never be to his own feelings what he was
before. It is almost impossible that he should not feel a diminution of
his dignity and importance as a man.

Neither can he restore himself to these privileges by going to a distant
part of the kingdom and residing among quakers there, on a supposition
that his disownment may be concealed. For a Quaker, going to a new abode
among Quakers, must carry with him a certificate of his conduct from the
last monthly meeting which he left, or he cannot be received as a

But besides losing these privileges, which confer consequence upon him,
he looses others of another kind. He cannot marry in the society. His
affirmation will be no longer taken instead of his oath. If a poor man,
he is no longer exempt from the militia, if drawn by submitting to three
months imprisonment; nor is he entitled to that comfortable maintenance,
in case of necessity, which the society provide for their own poor.

To these considerations it may not perhaps be superfluous to add, that
if he continues to mix with the members of his own society, he will
occasionally find circumstances arising, which will remind him of his
former state: and if he transfers his friendship to others, he will feel
awkward and uneasy, and out of his element, till he has made his temper,
his opinions, and his manners, harmonize with those of his new
associates of the world.



_Dress--Quakers distinguished by their dress from others--great
extravagance in dress in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries--this
extravagance had reached the clergy--but religious individuals kept to
their antient dresses--the dress which the men of this description wore
in those days--dress of the women of this description also--George Fox
and the Quakers springing out of these, carried their plain habits with
them into their new society._

I have now explained, in a very ample manner, the moral education and
discipline of the Quakers. I shall proceed to the explanation of such
customs, as seem peculiar to them as a society of christians.

The dress of the Quakers is the first custom of this nature, that I
purpose to notice. They stand distinguished be means of it from all
other religious bodies The men wear neither lace, frills, ruffles,
swords, nor any of the ornaments used by the fashionable world. The
women wear neither lace, flounces, lappets, rings, bracelets, necklaces,
ear-rings, nor any thing belonging to this class. Both sexes are also
particular in the choice of the colour of their clothes. All gay colours
such as red, blue, green, and yellow, are exploded. Dressing in this
manner, a Quaker is known by his apparel through the whole kingdom. This
is not the case with any other individuals of the island, except the
clergy; and these, in consequence of the black garments worn by persons
on account of the death of their relations, are not always distinguished
from others.

I know of no custom among the Quakers, which has more excited the
curiosity of the world, than this of their dress, and none, in which
they have been more mistaken in their conjectures concerning it.

[35]In the early times of the English History, dress had been frequently
restricted by the government.--Persons of a certain rank and fortune
were permitted to wear only cloathing of a certain kind. But these
restrictions and distinctions were gradually broken down, and people, as
they were able and willing, launched out into unlimited extravagance in
their dress. The fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and down from thence
to the time when the Quakers first appeared, were periods, particularly
noticed for prodigality in the use of apparel, there was nothing too
expensive or too preposterous to be worn. Our ancestors also, to use an
ancient quotation, "were never constant to one colour or fashion two
months to an end." We can have no idea by the present generation, of the
folly in such respects, of these early ages. But these follies were not
confined to the laiety. Affectation of parade, and gaudy cloathing, were
admitted among many of the clergy, who incurred the severest invectives
of the poets on that account. The ploughman, in Chaucer's Canterbury
Tales, is full upon this point. He gives us the following description of
a Priest

   "That hye on horse wylleth to ride,
   In glytter ande gold of great araye,
   'I painted and pertred all in pryde,
   No common Knyght may go so gaye;
   Chaunge of clothyng every daye,
   With golden gyrdles great and small,
   As boysterous as is here at baye;
   All suche falshed mote nede fell."

[Footnote 35: See Strut's Antiquities.]

To this he adds, that many of them had more than one or two mitres,
embellished with pearls, like the head of a queen, and a staff of gold
set with jewels, as heavy as lead. He then speaks of their appearing out
of doors with broad bucklers and long swords, or with baldrics about
their necks, instead of stoles, to which their basellards were attached.

   "Bucklers brode and sweardes longe,
   Baudryke with baselards kene."

He then accuses them with wearing gay gowns of scarlet and green
colours, ornamented with cut-work, and for the long pykes upon their

But so late as the year 1652 we have the following anecdote of the
whimsical dress of a clergyman. John Owen, Dean of Christ church, and
Vice-Chancellor of Oxford, is represented an wearing a lawn-band, as
having his hair powdered and his hat curiously cocked. He is described
also as wearing Spanish leather-boots with lawn-tops, and snake-bone
band-strings with large tassels, and a large set of ribbands pointed at
his knees with points or tags at the end. And much about the same time,
when Charles the second was at Newmarket, Nathaniel Vincent, doctor of
divinity, fellow of Clare-hall, and chaplain in ordinary to his majesty,
preached before him. But the king was so displeased with the foppery of
this preacher's, dress, that he commanded the duke of Monmouth, then
chancellor of the university, to cause the statutes concerning decency
of apparel among the clergy to be put into execution, which was
accordingly done. These instances are sufficient to shew, that the taste
for preposterous and extravagant dress must have operated like a
contagion in those times, or the clergy would scarcely have dressed
themselves in this ridiculous and censurable manner.

But although this extravagance was found among many orders of society at
the time of the appearance of George Fox, yet many individuals had set
their faces against the fashions of the world. These consisted
principally of religious people of different denominations, most of whom
were in the middle classes of life. Such persons were found in plain and
simple habits notwithstanding the contagion of the example of their
superiors in rank. The men of this description generally wore plain
round hats with common crowns. They had discarded the sugar-loaf hat,
and the hat turned up with a silver clasp on one side, as well as all
ornaments belonging to it, such as pictures, feathers, and bands of
various colours. They had adopted a plain suit of clothes. They wore
cloaks, when necessary, over these. But both the clothes and the cloaks
were of the same colour. The colour of each of them was either drab or
grey. Other people who followed the fashions, wore white, red, green,
yellow, violet, scarlet, and other colours, which were expensive,
because they were principally dyed in foreign parts. The drab consisted
of the white wool undyed, and the grey of the white wool mixed with the
black, which was undyed also. These colours were then the colours of the
clothes, because they were the least expensive, of the peasants of
England, as they are now of those of Portugal and Spain. They had
discarded also, all ornaments, such as of lace, or bunches of ribbands
at the knees, and their buttons were generally of alchymy, as this
composition was then termed, or of the same colour as their clothes.

The grave and religious women also, like the men, had avoided the
fashions of their times. These had adopted the cap, and the black hood
for their headdress. The black hood had been long the distinguishing
mark of a grave matron. All prostitutes, so early as Edward the third,
had been forbidden to wear it. In after-times it was celebrated by the
epithet of venerable by the poets, and had been introduced by painters
as the representative of virtue. When fashionable women had discarded
it, which was the case in George Fox's time, the more sober, on account
of these ancient marks of its sanctity, had retained it, and it was then
common among them. With respect to the hair of grave and sober women In
those days, it was worn plain, and covered occasionally by a plain hat
or bonnet. They had avoided by this choice those preposterous
head-dresses and bonnets, which none but those, who have seen paintings
of them, could believe ever to have been worn. They admitted none of the
large ruffs, that were then in use, but chose the plain handkerchief for
their necks, differing from those of others, which had rich point, and
curious lace. They rejected the crimson sattin doublet with black velvet
skirts, and contented themselves with a plain gown, generally of stuff,
and of a drab, or grey, or buff, or buffin colour, as it was called, and
faced with buckram. These colours, as I observed before, were the
colours worn by country people; and were not expensive, because they
were not dyed. To this gown was added a green apron. Green aprons had
been long worn in England, yet, at the time I allude to, they were out
of fashion, so as to be ridiculed by the gay. But old fashioned people
still retained them. Thus an idea of gravity was connected with them;
and therefore religious and steady women adopted them, as the grave and
sober garments of ancient times.

It may now be observed that from these religious persons, habited in
this manner, in opposition to the fashions of the world, the primitive
Quakers generally sprung. George Fox himself wore the plain grey coat
that has been noticed, with alchymy buttons, and a plain leather girdle
about his waist. When the Quakers therefore first met in religious
union, they met in these simple clothes. They made no alteration in
their dress on account of their new religion. They prescribed no form or
colour as distinguishing marks of their sect, but they carried with them
the plain habits of their ancestors into the new society, as the habits
of the grave and sober people of their own times.


_But though George Fox introduced no new dress into the society, he was
not indifferent on the subject--he recommended simplicity and
plainness--and declaimed against the fashions of the times--supported by
Barclay and Penn--these explained the objects of dress--the influence of
these explanations--dress at length incorporated into the
discipline--but no standard fixed either of shape or colour--the
objects of dress only recognized, and simplicity recommended--a new
Era--great variety allowable by the discipline--Quakers have deviated
less from the dress of their ancestors than other people._

Though George Fox never introduced any new or particular garments, when
he formed the society, as models worthy of the imitation of those who
joined him, yet, as a religious man, he was not indifferent upon the
subject of dress. Nor could he, as a reformer, see those extravagant
fashions, which I have shewn to have existed in his time, without
publicly noticing them. We find him accordingly recommending to his
followers simplicity and plainness of apparel, and bearing his testimony
against the preposterous and fluctuating apparel of the world.

In the various papers, which he wrote or gave forth upon this subject,
he bid it down as a position, that all ornaments, superfluities, and
unreasonable changes in dress, manifested an earthly or worldly spirit.
He laid it down again, that such things, being adopted principally for
the lust of the eye, were productive of vanity and pride, and that, in
proportion as men paid attention to these outward decorations and
changes, they suffered some loss in the value and dignity of their
minds. He considered also all such decorations and changes, as contrary
both to the letter and the spirit of the scriptures. Isaiah, one of the
greatest prophets under the law, had severely reproved the daughters of
Israel on account of their tinkling ornaments, cauls, round tires,
chains, bracelets, rings, and ear-rings. St. Paul also and St. Peter had
both of them cautioned the women of their own times, to adorn themselves
in modest apparel, and not with broidered hair, or gold, or pearls, or
costly array. And the former had spoken to both sexes indiscriminately
not to conform to the world, in which latter expression he evidently
included all those customs of the world, of whatsoever nature, that were
in any manner injurious to the morality of the minds of those who
followed them.

By the publication of these sentiments, George Fox shewed to the world,
that it was his opinion, that religion, though it prescribed no
particular form of apparel, was not indifferent as to the general
subject of dress. These sentiments became the sentiments of his
followers. But the society was coming fast into a new situation. When
the members of it first met in union, they consisted of grown up
persons; of such, as had had their minds spiritually exercised, and
their judgments convinced in religious matters; of such in fact as had
been Quakers in spirit, before they had become Quakers by name. All
admonitions therefore on the subject of dress were unnecessary for such
persons. But many of those, who had joined the society, had brought with
them children into it, and from the marriages of others, children were
daily springing up. To the latter, in a profligate age, where the
fashions were still raging from without, and making an inroad upon the
minds and morals of individuals, some cautions were necessary for the
preservation of their innocence in such a storm. For these were the
reverse of their parents. Young, in point of age, they were Quakers by
name, before they could become Quakers in spirit. Robert Barclay
therefore, and William Penn, kept alive the subject of dress, which
George Fox had been the first to notice in the society. They followed
him on his scriptural ground. They repeated the arguments, that
extravagant dress manifested an earthly spirit, and that it was
productive of vanity and pride. But they strengthened the case by adding
arguments of their own. Among these I may notice, that they considered
what were the objects of dress. They reduced these to two, to decency,
and comfort, in which latter idea was included protection from the
varied inclemencies of the weather. Every thing therefore beyond these
they considered as superfluous. Of course all ornaments would become
censurable, and all unreasonable changes indefensible, upon such a

These discussions, however, on this subject never occasioned the more
ancient Quakers to make any alteration in their dress, for they
continued as when they had come into the society, to be a plain people.
But they occasioned parents to be more vigilant over their children in
this respect, and they taught the society to look upon dress, as a
subject connected with the christian religion, in any case, where it
could become injurious to the morality of the mind. In process of time
therefore as the fashions continued to spread, and the youth of the
society began to come under their dominion, the Quakers incorporated
dress among other subjects of their discipline. Hence no member, after
this period, could dress himself preposterously, or follow the fleeting
fashions of the world, without coming under the authority of friendly
and wholesome admonition. Hence an annual inquiry began to be made, if
parents brought up their children to dress consistently with their
christian profession. The society, however, recommended only simplicity
and plainness to be attended to on this occasion. They prescribed no
standard, no form, no colour, for the apparel of their members. They
acknowledged the two great objects of decency and comfort, and left
their members to clothe themselves consistently with these, as it was
agreeable to their convenience or their disposition.

A new æra commenced from this period. Persons already in the society,
continued of course in their ancient dresses: if others had come into it
by convincement, who had led gay lives, they laid aside their gaudy
garments, and took those that were more plain. And the children of both,
from this time, began to be habited from their youth as their parents

But though the Quakers had thus brought apparel under the disciplinary
cognizance of the society, yet the dress of individuals was not always
alike, nor did it continue always one and the same even with the
primitive Quakers. Nor has it continued one and the same with their
descendants. For decency and comfort having been declared to be the true
and only objects of dress, such a latitude was given, as to admit of
great variety in apparel. Hence if we were to see a groupe of modern
Quakers before us, we should probably not find any two of them dressed
alike. Health, we all know, may require alteration in dress. Simplicity
may suggest others. Convenience again may point out others; and yet all
these various alterations may be consistent with the objects before
specified. And here it may be observed that the society, during its
existence for a century and a half, has without doubt, in some degree,
imperceptibly followed the world, though not in its fashions, yet in its
improvements of cloathing.

It must be obvious again, that some people are of a grave, and that
others are of a lively disposition, and that these will probably never
dress alike. Other members again, but particularly the rich, have a
larger intercourse than the rest of them, or mix more with the world.
These again will probably dress a little differently from others, and
yet, regarding the two great objects of dress, their cloathing may come
within the limits which these allow. Indeed if there be any, whose
apparel would be thought exceptionable by the society, these would be
found among the rich. Money, in all societies, generally takes the
liberty of introducing exceptions. Nothing, however is more true, than
that, even among the richest of the Quakers, there is frequently as much
plainness and simplicity in their outward dress, as among the poor; and
where the exceptions exist, they are seldom carried to an extravagant,
and never to a preposterous extent.

From this account it will be seen, that the ideas of the world are
erroneous on the subject of the dress of the Quakers; for it has always
been imagined, that, when the early Quakers first met in religious
union, they met to deliberate and fix upon some standard, which should
operate as a political institution, by which the members should be
distinguished by their apparel from the rest of the world. The whole
history, however, of the shape and colour of the garments of the Quakers
is, as has been related, namely, that the primitive Quakers dressed like
the sober, steady, and religious people of the age, in which the society
sprung up, and that their descendants have departed less in a course of
time, than others, from the dress of their ancestors. The mens hats are
nearly the same now, except that they have stays and loops, and many of
their clothes are nearly of the same shape and colour, as in the days of
George Fox. The dress of the women also is nearly similar. The black
hoods indeed have gone, in a certain degree, out of use. But many of
such women, as are ministers and elders, and indeed many others of age
and gravity of manners, still retain them. The green apron also has been
nearly, if not wholly laid aside. There was here and there an ancient
woman, who used it within the last ten years, but I am told that the
last of these died lately. No other reasons can be given, than those
which have been assigned, why Quaker-women should have been found in the
use of a colour, which is so unlike any other which they now use in
their dress. Upon the whole, if the females were still to retain the use
of the black hood and the green apron, and the men were to discard the
stays and loops for their hats, we should find that persons of both
sexes in the society, but particularly such as are antiquated, or as may
be deemed old fashioned in it, would approach very near to the first or
primitive Quakers in their appearance, both as to the sort and to the
shape, and to the colour of their clothes. Thus has George Fox, by means
of the advice he gave upon this subject, and the general discipline
which he introduced into the society, kept up for a hundred and fifty
years, against the powerful attacks of the varying fashions of the
world, one steady, and uniform, external appearance among his
descendants; an event, which neither the clergy by means of their
sermons, nor other writers, whether grave or gay, were able to
accomplish during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and which none
of their successors have been able to accomplish from that time to the


_The world usually make objections to the Quaker-dress--the charge is
that there is a preciseness in it which is equivalent to the worshipping
of forms--the truth of this charge not to be ascertained but by a
knowledge of the heart--but outward facts mate against it-such as the
origin of the Quaker-dress--and the Quaker-doctrine on dress--doctrine
of christianity on this subject--opinion of the early christians upon
it--reputed advantages of the Quaker-dress._

I should have been glad to have dismissed the subject of the
Quaker-dress in the last section, but so many objections are usually
made against it, that I thought it right to stop for a while to consider
them in the present place. Indeed, if I were to choose a subject, upon
which the world had been more than ordinarily severe on the Quakers, I
should select that of their dress. Almost every body has something to
say upon this point. And as in almost all cases, where arguments are
numerous, many of them are generally frivolous, so it has happened in
this also. There is one, however, which it is impossible not to notice
upon this subject.

The Quakers, it is confessed by their adversaries, are not chargeable
with the same sort of pride and vanity, which attach to the characters
of other people, who dress in a gay manner, and who follow the fashions
of the world, but it is contended, on the other hand, that they are
justly chargeable with a preciseness, that is disgusting, in the little
particularities of their cloathing. This precise attention to
particularities is considered as little better than the worshipping of
lifeless forms, and is usually called by the world the idolatry of the

This charge, if it were true, would be serious indeed. It would be
serious, because it would take away from the religion of the Quakers one
of its greatest and best characters. For how could any people be
spiritually minded, who were the worshippers of lifeless forms? It would
be serious again, because it would shew their religion, like the box of
Pandora, to be pregnant with evils within itself. For people, who place
religion in particular forms, must unavoidably become superstitious. It
would be serious again, because if parents were to carry such notions
into their families, they would produce mischief. The young would be
dissatisfied, if forced to cultivate particularities, for which they see
no just or substantial reason. Dissentions would arise among them. Their
morality too would be confounded, if they were to see these minutiae
idolized at home, but disregarded by persons of known religious
character in the world. Add to which, that they might adopt erroneous
notions of religion. For they might be induced to lay too much stress
upon the payment of the anise and cummin, and too little upon the
observance of the weightier matters of the law.

As the charge therefore is unquestionably a serious one, I shall not
allow it to pass without some comments. And in the first place it maybe
observed that, whether this preciseness, which has been imputed to some
Quakers, amounts to an idolizing of forms, can never be positively
determined, except we had the power of looking into the hearts of those,
who have incurred the charge. We may form, however, a reasonable
conjecture, whether it does or not by presumptive evidence, taken from
incontrovertible outward facts.

The first outward fact that presents itself to us, is the fact of the
origin of the Quaker-dress, if the early Quakers, when they met in
religious union, had met to deliberate and fix upon a form or standard
of apparel for the society, in vain could any person have expected to
repel this charge. But no such standard was ever fixed. The dress of the
Quakers has descended from father to son in the way that has been
described. There is reason therefore to suppose, that the Quakers as a
religious body, have deviated less than others front the primitive
habits of their ancestors, rather from a fear of the effects of
unreasonable changes of dress upon the mind, than from an attachment to
lifeless forms.

The second outward fact, which may be resorted to as furnishing a ground
for reasonable conjecture, is the doctrine of the Quakers upon this
subject. The Quakers profess to follow christianity in all cases, where
its doctrines can be clearly ascertained. I shall state therefore what
christianity says upon this point. I shall shew that what Quakerism says
is in unison with it. And I shall explain more at large the principle,
that has given birth to the discipline of the Quakers relative to their

Had christianity approved of the make or colour of any particular
garment, it would have approved of those of its founder and of his
apostles. We do not, however, know, what any of these illustrious
personages wore. They were probably dressed in the habits of Judean
peasants, and not with any marked difference from those of the same rank
in life. And that they were dressed plainly, we have every reason to
believe, from the censures, which some of them passed on the
superfluities of apparel. But christianity has no where recorded these
habits as a pattern, nor has it prescribed to any man any form or colour
for his clothes.

But christianity, though it no where places religion in particular
forms, is yet not indifferent on the general subject of dress. For in
the first place it discards all ornaments, as appears by the testimonies
of St. Paul and St. Peter before quoted, and this it does evidently on
the ground of morality, lest these, by puffing up the creature, should
be made to give birth to the censurable passions of vanity and lust. In
the second place it forbids all unreasonable changes on the plea of
conformity with the fashions of the world: and it sets its face against
these also upon moral grounds; because the following of the fashions of
the world begets a worldly spirit, and because, in proportion as men
indulge this spirit, they are found to follow the loose and changeable
morality of the world, instead of the strict and steady morality of the

That the early christians understood these to be the doctrines of
christianity, there can be no doubt. The Presbyters and the Asceticks,
I believe, changed the Palluim for the Toga in the infancy of the
christian world; but all other christians were left undistinguished by
their dress. These were generally clad in the sober manner of their own
times. They observed a medium between costliness and sordidness. That
they had no particular form for their dress beyond that of other grave
people, we team from Justin Martyr. "They affected nothing fantastic,
says he, but, living among Greeks and barbarians, they followed the
customs of the country, and in clothes, and in diet, and in all other
affairs of outward life, they shewed the excellent and admirable
constitution of their discipline and conversation." That they discarded
superfluities and ornaments we may collect from various authors of those
times. Basil reduced the objects of cloathing to two, namely, "Honesty
and necessity," that is, to decency and protection. Tertullian laid it
down as a doctrine that a Christian should not only be chaste, but that
he should appear so outwardly. "The garments which we should wear, says
Clemens of Alexandria, should be modest and frugal, and not wrought of
divers colours, but plain." Crysastum commends Olympias, a lady of birth
and fortune, for having in her garment nothing that was wrought or
gaudy. Jerome praises Paula, another lady of quality, for the same
reason. We find also that an unreasonable change of cloathing, or a
change to please the eye of the world, was held improper. Cyril says,
"we should not strive for variety, having clothes for home, and others
for ostentation abroad." In short the ancient fathers frequently
complained of the abuse of apparel in the ways described.

Exactly in the same manner, and in no other, have the Quakers considered
the doctrines of Christianity on the subject of dress. They have never
adopted any particular model either as to form or colour for their
clothes. They have regarded the two objects of decency and comfort. But
they have allowed of various deviations consistently with these. They
have in fact fluctuated in their dress. The English Quaker wore formerly
a round hat. He wears it now with stays and loops. But even this fashion
is not universal, and seems rather now on the decline. The American
Quaker, on the other hand, has generally kept to the round hat. Black
hoods were uniformly worn by the Quaker-women, but the use of these is
much less than it was, and is still decreasing. The Green aprons also
were worn by the females, but they are now wholly out of use. But these
changes could never have taken place, had there been any fixed standard
for the Quaker dress.

But though the Quakers have no particular model for their clothing, yet
they are not indifferent to dress where it may be morally injurious.
They have discarded all superfluities and ornaments, because they may
be hurtful to the mind. They have set their faces also against all
unreasonable changes of forms for the same reasons. They have allowed
other reasons to weigh with them in the latter case. They have received
from, their ancestors a plain suit of apparel, which has in some little
degree followed the improvements of the world, and they see no good
reason why they should change it; at least they see in the fashions of
the world none but a censurable reason for a change. And here it may be
observed, that it is not an attachment to forms, but an unreasonable
change or deviation from them, that the Quakers regard. Upon the latter
idea it is, that their discipline is in a great measure founded, or, in
other words, the Quakers, as a religious body, think it right to watch
in their youth any unreasonable deviation from the plain apparel of the

This they do first, because any change beyond usefulness must be made
upon the plea of conformity to the fashions of the world.

Secondly, because any such deviation in their youth is considered to
shew, in some measure, a deviation from simplicity of heart. It bespeaks
the beginning of an unstable mind. It shews there must have been some
improper motive for the change. Hence it argues a weakness in the
deviating persons, and points them out as objects to be strengthened by
wholesome admonition.

Thirdly, because changes, made without reasonable motives, would lead,
if not watched and checked, to other still greater changes, and because
an uninterrupted succession of such changes would bring the minds of
their youth under the most imperious despotisms, the despotism of
fashion; in consequence of which they would cleave to the morality of
the world instead of the morality of the gospel.

And fourthly, because in proportion as young persons deviate from the
plainness and simplicity of the apparel as worn by the society, they
approach in appearance to the world; they mix with it, and imbibe its
spirit and admit its customs, and come into a situation which subjects
them to be disowned. And this is so generally true, that of those
persons, whom the society has been obliged to disown, the commencement
of a long progress in irregularity may often be traced to a deviation
from the simplicity of their dress. And here it may be observed, that an
effect has been produced by this care concerning dress, so beneficial to
the moral interests of the society, that they have found in it a new
reason for new vigilance on this subject. The effect produced is a
general similarity of outward appearance, in all the members, though
there is a difference both in the form and colour of their clothing;
and this general appearance is such, as to make a Quaker still known to
the world. The dress therefore of the Quakers, by distinguishing the
members of the society, and making them known as such to the world,
makes the world overseers as it were of their moral conduct. And that it
operates in this way, or that it becomes a partial check in favour of
morality, there can be no question. For a Quaker could not be seen
either at public races, or at cock fightings, or at assemblies, or in
public houses, but the fact would be noticed as singular, and probably
soon known among his friends. His clothes would betray him. Neither
could be, if at a great distance from home, and if quite out of the eye
and observation of persons of the same religious persuasion, do what
many others do. For a Quaker knows, that many of the customs of the
society are known to the world at large, and that a certain conduct is
expected from a person in a Quakers habit. The fear therefore of being
detected, and at any rate of bringing infamy on his cloth, if I may use
the expression, would operate so as to keep him out of many of the
vicious customs of the world.

From hence it will be obvious that there cannot be any solid foundation
for the charge, which has been made against the Quakers on the subject
of dress. They are found in their present dress, not on the principle
of an attachment to any particular form, or because any one form is more
sacred than another, but on the principle, that an unreasonable
deviation from any simple and useful clothing is both censurable and
hurtful, if made in conformity with the fashions of the world. These two
principles, though they may produce, if acted upon, a similar outward
appearance in persons, are yet widely distinct as to their foundation,
from one another. The former is the principle of idolatry. The latter
that of religion. If therefore there are persons in the society, who
adopt the former, they will come within the reach of the charge
described. But the latter only can be adopted by true Quakers.


_Quakers are in the use of plain furniture--this usage founded on
principles, similar to those on dress--this usage general--Quakers have
seldom paintings, prints, or portraits in their houses, as, articles of
furniture--reasons for their disuse of such articles._

As the Quakers are found in the use of garments, differing from those
of others in their shape and fashion, and in the graveness of their
colour, and in the general plainness of their appearance, so they are
found in the use of plain and frugal furniture in their houses.

The custom of using plain furniture has not arisen from the
circumstance, that any particular persons in the society, estimable for
their lives and characters, have set the example in their families, but
from the, principles of the Quaker-constitution itself. It has arisen
from principles similar to those, which dictated the continuance of the
ancient Quaker-dress. The choice of furniture, like the choice of
clothes, is left to be adjudged by the rules of decency and usefulness,
but never by the suggestions of shew. The adoption of taste, instead of
utility, in this case, would be considered as a conscious conformity
with the fashions of the world. Splendid furniture also would be
considered as pernicious as splendid clothes. It would be classed with
external ornaments, and would be reckoned equally productive of pride,
with these. The custom therefore of plainness in the articles of
domestic use is pressed upon all Quakers: and that the subject may not
be forgotten, it is incorporated in their religious discipline; in
consequence of which, it is held forth to their notice, in a public
manner, in all the monthly and quarterly meetings of the kingdom, and in
all the preparative meetings, at least once in the year.

It may be admitted as a truth, that the society practice, with few
exceptions, what is considered to be the proper usage on such occasions.
The poor, we know, cannot use any but homely-furniture. The middle
clashes are universally in such habits. As to the rich, there is a
difference in the practice of these. Some, and indeed many of them, use
as plain and frugal furniture, as those in moderate circumstances.
Others again step beyond the practice of the middle classes, and buy
what is more costly, not with a view of shew, so much as to accommodate
their furniture to the size and goodness of their houses. In the houses
of others again, who have more than ordinary intercourse with the world,
we now and then see what is elegant, but seldom what would be considered
to be extravagant furniture. We see no chairs with satin bottoms and
gilded frames, no magnificent pier-glasses, no superb chandeliers, no
curtains with extravagant trimmings. At least, in all my intercourse
with the Quakers, I have never observed such things. If there are
persons in the society, who use them, they must be few in number, and
these must be conscious that, by the introduction of such finery[36]
into their houses, they are going against the advices annually given
them in their meetings on this subject, and that they are therefore
violating the written law, as well as departing from the spirit of

[Footnote 36: Turkey carpets are in use, though generally gaudy, on
account of their wearing better than others.]

But if these or similar principles are adopted by the society on this
subject, it must be obvious, that in walking through the rooms of the
Quakers, we shall look in vain for some articles that are classed among
the furniture of other people. We shall often be disappointed, for
instance, if we expect to find either paintings or prints in frame. I
seldom remember to have seen above three or four articles of this
description in all my intercourse with the Quakers. Some families had
one of these, others a second, and others a third, but none had them
all. And in many families neither the one nor the other was to be seen.

One of the prints, to which I allude, contained a representation of the
conclusion of the famous treaty between William Penn and the Indians of
America. This transaction every body knows, afforded, in all its
circumstances, a proof to the world, of the singular honour and
uprightness of those ancestors of the Quakers who were concerned in it.
The Indians too entertained an opinion no less favourable of their
character, for they handed down the memory of the event under such
[37]impressive circumstances, that their descendants have a particular
love for the character, and a particular reliance on the word, of a
Quaker at the present day. The print alluded to was therefore probably
hung up as the pleasing record of a transaction, so highly honourable to
the principles of the society; where knowledge took no advantage of
ignorance, but where she associated herself with justice, that she might
preserve the balance equal. "This is the only treaty," says a celebrated
writer, "between the Indians and the Christians, that was never ratified
by an oath, and was never broken."

[Footnote 37: The Indians denominated Penn, brother Onas, which means
in their language a pen, and respect the Quakers as his descendants.]

The second was a print of a slave-ship, published a few years ago, when
the circumstances of the slave-trade became a subject of national
inquiry. In this the oppressed Africans are represented, as stowed in
different parts according to the number transported and to the scale of
the dimensions of the vessel. This subject could not be indifferent to
those, who had exerted themselves as a body for the annihilation of this
inhuman traffic. The print, however, was not hung up by the Quakers,
either as a monument of what they had done themselves, or as a stimulus
to farther exertion on the same subject, but, I believe, from the pure
motive of exciting benevolence; of exciting the attention of those, who
should come into their houses, to the case of the injured Africans, and
of procuring sympathy in their favour.

The third contained a plan of the building of Ackworth-school. This was
hung up as a descriptive view of a public seminary, instituted and kept
up by the subscription and care of the society at large.

But though all the prints, that have been mentioned, were hung up in
frames on the motives severally assigned to them, no others were to be
seen as their companions. It is in short not the practice[38] of the
society to decorate their houses in this manner.

[Footnote 38: There are still individual exceptions. Some Quakers have
come accidentally into possession of printings and engravings in frame,
which, being innocent in their subject and their lesson, they would have
thought it superstitious to discard.]

Prints in frames, if hung up promiscuously in a room, would be
considered as ornamental furniture, or as furniture for shew. They would
therefore come under the denomination of superfluities; and the
admission of such, in the way that other people admit them would be
considered as an adoption of the empty customs or fashions of the world.

But though the Quakers are not in the practice of hanging up prints in
frames, yet there are amateurs among them, who have a number and variety
of prints in their possession. But these appear chiefly in collections,
bound together in books, or preserved in book covers, and not in frames
as ornamental furniture for their rooms. These amateurs, however, are
but few in number. The Quakers have in general only a plain and useful
education. They are not brought up to admire such things, and they have
therefore in general but little taste for the fine and masterly
productions of the painters' art.

Neither would a person, in going through the houses of the Quakers, find
any portraits either of themselves, or of any of their families, or
ancestors, except, to the latter case, they had been taken before they
became Quakers. The first Quakers never had their portraits taken with
their own knowledge and consent. Considering themselves as poor and
helpless creatures, and little better than dust and ashes, they had but
a mean idea of their own images. They were of opinion also, that pride
and self-conceit would be likely to arise to men from the view, and
ostentatious parade, of their own persons. They considered also, that it
became them, as the founders of the society, to bear their testimony
against the vain and superfluous fashions of the world. They believed
also, if there were those whom they loved, that the best method of
shewing their regard to these would be not by having their fleshly
images before their eyes, but by preserving their best actions in their
thoughts, as worthy of imitation; and that their own memory, in the same
manner, should be perpetuated rather in the loving hearts, and kept
alive in the edifying conversation of their descendants, than in the
perishing tablets of canvas, fixed upon the walls of their habitations.
Hence no portraits are to be seen of many of those great and eminent men
in the society, who are now mingled with the dust.

These ideas, which thus actuated the first Quakers on this subject, are
those of the Quakers as a body at the present day. There may be here and
there an individual, who has had a portrait of some of his family taken.
But such instances may be considered as rare exceptions from the general
rule. In no society is it possible to establish maxims, which shall
influence an universal practice.


_Language--Quakers differ in their language from others--the first
alteration made by George Fox of thou for you--this change had been
suggested by Erasmus and Luther--sufferings of the Quakers in
consequence of adapting this change--a work published in their
defence--this presented to King Charles and others--other works on the
subject by Barclay and Penn--in these the word thou shewn to be proper
in all languages--you to be a mark of flattery--the latter idea
corroborated by Harwell, Maresius, Godeau, Erasmus._

As the Quakers are distinguishable from their fellow-citizens by their
dress, as was amply shewn in a former chapter, so they are no less
distinguishable from them by the peculiarities of their language.

George Fox seemed to look at every custom with the eye of a reformer.
The language of the country, as used in his own times, struck him as
having many censurable defects. Many of the expressions, then in use,
appeared to him to contain gross flattery, others to be idolatrous,
others to be false representatives of the ideas they were intended to
convey. Now he considered that christianity required truth, and he
believed therefore that he and his followers, who professed to be
christians in word and deed, and to follow the christian pattern in all
things, as far as it could be found, were called upon to depart from all
the censurable modes of speech, as much as they were from any of the
customs of the world, which Christianity had deemed objectionable. And
so weightily did these improprieties in his own language lie upon his
mind, that he conceived himself to have had an especial commission to
correct them.

The first alteration, which he adopted, was in the use of the pronoun
thou. The pronoun you, which grammarians had fixed to be of the plural
number, was then occasionally used, but less than it is now, in
addressing an individual. George Fox therefore adopted thou in its place
on this occasion, leaving the word you to be used only where two or more
individuals were addressed.

George Fox however was not the first of the religious writers, who had
noticed the improper use of the pronoun you. Erasmus employed a treatise
in shewing the propriety of thou when addressed to a single person, and
in ridiculing the use of you on the same occasion. Martin Luther also
took great pains to expunge the word you from the station which it
occupied, and to put thou in its place. In his Ludus, he ridicules the
use of the former by the, following invented sentence, "Magister,
Vosestis iratus?" This is as absurd, as if he had said in English
"gentlemen art thou angry"?

But though George Fox was not the first to recommend the substitution of
thou for you, he was the first to reduce this amended use of it to
practice. This he did in his own person, wherever he went, and in all
the works which he published. All his followers did the same. And, from
his time to the present, the pronoun thou has come down so prominent in
the speech of the society, that a Quaker is generally known by it at the
present day.

The reader would hardly believe, if historical facts did not prove it,
how much noise the introduction or rather the amended use of this little
particle, as reduced to practice by George Fox, made in the world, and
how much ill usage it occasioned the early Quakers. Many magistrates,
before whom they were carried in the early times of their institution
occasioned their sufferings to be greater merely on this account. They
were often abused and beaten by others, and sometimes put in danger of
their lives. It was a common question put to a Quaker in those days,
who addressed a great man in this new and simple manner, "why you ill
bred clown do you thou me?" The rich and mighty of those times thought
themselves degraded by this mode of address, as reducing them from a
plural magnitude to a singular, or individual, or simple station in
life. "The use of thou, says George Fox, was a sore cut to proud flesh,
and those who sought self-honour."

George Fox, finding that both he and his followers were thus subject to
much persecution on this account, thought it right the world should
know, that, in using this little particle which had given so much
offence, the Quakers were only doing what every grammarian ought to do,
if he followed his own rules. Accordingly a Quaker-work was produced,
which was written to shew that in all languages thou was the proper and
usual form of speech to a single person, and you to more than one. This
was exemplified by instances, taken out of the scriptures, and out of
books of teaching in about thirty languages. Two Quakers of the names of
John Stubbs and Benjamin Furley, took great pains in compiling it: and
some additions were made to it by George Fox himself, who was then a
prisoner in Lancaster castle.

This work, as soon as it was published, was presented to King Charles
the second, and to his council. Copies of it were also sent to the
Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of London, and to each of the
universities. The King delivered his sentiments upon it so far as to
say, that thou was undoubtedly the proper language of all nations. The
Archbishop of Canterbury, when he was asked what he thought of it, is
described to have been so much at a stand, that he could not tell what
to say. The book was afterwards bought by many. It is said to have
spread conviction, wherever it went. Hence it had the effect of
lessening the prejudices of some, so that the Quakers were never
afterwards treated, on this account, in the same rugged manner as they
had been before.

But though this book procured the Quakers an amelioration of treatment
on the amended use of the expression thou, there were individuals in the
society, who thought they ought to put their defence on a better
foundation, by stating all the reasons, for there were many besides
those in this book, which had induced them to differ from their fellow
citizens on this subject. This was done both by Robert Barclay and
William Penn in works, which defended other principles of the Quakers,
and other peculiarities in their language.

One of the arguments, by which the use of the pronoun thou was defended,
was the same as that, on which it had been defended by Stubbs and
Furley, that is, its strict conformity with grammar. The translators of
the Bible had invariably used it. The liturgy had been compiled on the
same principle. All addresses made by English Christians in their
private prayers to the Supreme Being, were made in the language of thou,
and not of you. And this was done, because the rules of the English
grammar warranted the expression, and because any other mode of
expression would have been a violation of these rules.

But the great argument (to omit all others) which Penn and Barclay
insisted upon for the change of you, was that the pronoun thou, in
addressing an individual, had been anciently in use, but that it had
been deserted for you for no other purpose, than that of flattery to
men; and that this dereliction of it was growing greater and greater,
upon the same principle, in their own times. Hence as christians, who
were not to puff up the fleshly creature, it became them to return to
the ancient and grammatical use of the pronoun thou, and to reject this
growing fashion of the world. "The word you, says William Penn, was
first ascribed in the way of flattery, to proud Popes and Emperors,
imitating the heathens vain homage to their gods, thereby ascribing a
plural honour to a single person; as if one Pope had been made up of
many gods, and one Emperor of many men; for which reason you, only to be
addressed to many, became first spoken to one. It seemed the word thou
looked like too lean and thin a respect; and therefore some, bigger than
they should be, would have a style suitable to their own ambition."

It will be difficult for those, who now use the word you constantly to a
single person, and who, in such use of it, never attach any idea of
flattery to it, to conceive how it ever could have had the origin
ascribed to it, or, what is more extraordinary, how men could believe
themselves to be exalted, when others applied to them the word you
instead of thou. But history affords abundant evidence of the fact.

It is well known that Caligula ordered himself to be worshipped as a
god. Domitian, after him, gave similar orders with respect to himself.
In process of time the very statues of the emperors began to be
worshipped. One blasphemous innovation prepared the way for another. The
title of Pontifex Maximus gave way at length for those of Eternity,
Divinity, and the like. Coeval with these appellations was the change of
the word thou for you, and upon the same principles. These changes,
however, were not so disagreeable, as they might be expected to have
been, to the proud Romans; for while they gratified the pride of their
emperors by these appellations, they made their despotism, in their own
conceit, more tolerable to themselves. That one man should be lord ever
many thousand Romans, who were the masters of the world was in itself a
degrading thought. But they consoled themselves by the haughty
consideration, that they were yielding obedience, not to man, but to an
incarnate demon or good genius, or especial envoy from heaven. They
considered also the emperor as an office, and as an office, including
and representing many other offices, and hence considering him as a man
in the plural number, they had less objection to address him in a plural

The Quakers, in behalf of their assertions on this subject, quote the
opinions of several learned men, and of those in particular, who, from
the nature of their respective writings, had occasion to look into the
origin and construction of the words and expressions of language.

Howell, in his epistle to the nobility of England before his French and
English Dictionary, takes notice, "that both in France, and in other
nations, the word thou was used in speaking of one, but by succession of
time, when the Roman commonwealth grew into an empire, the courtiers
began to magnify the emperor, as being furnished with power to confer
dignities and offices, using the word you, yea, and deifying him with
more remarkable titles, concerning which matter we read in the epistles
of Symmachus to the emperors Theodosius and Valentinian, where he useth
these forms of speaking, Vestra Æternitas, vestrum numen, vestra
serenitas, vestra Clementia, that is, your, and not thy eternity,
godhead, serenity, clemency. So that the word you in the plural number,
together with the other titles and compellations of honour, seem to have
taken their rise from despotic government, which afterwards, by degrees,
came to be derived to private persons." He says also in his History of
France, that "in ancient times, the peasants addressed their kings by
the appellation of thou, but that pride and flattery first put inferiors
upon paying a plural respect to the single person of every superior, and
superiors upon receiving it."

John Maresius, of the French Academy, in the preface to his Clovis,
speaks much to the same effect. "Let none wonder, says he, that the word
thou is used in this work to princes and princesses, for we use the same
to God, and of old the same was used to Alexanders, Caesars, queens, and
empresses. The use of the word you, when only base flatteries of men of
later ages, to whom it seemed good to use the plural number to one
person, that he may imagine himself alone to be equal to many others in
dignity and worth, from whence it came at last to persons of lower

Godeau, in his preface to the translation of the New Testament, makes an
apology for differing from the customs of the times in the use of thou,
and intimates that you was substituted for it, as a word of superior
respect. "I had rather, says he, faithfully keep to the express words of
Paul, than exactly follow the polished style of our tongue. Therefore I
always use that form of calling God in the singular number not in the
plural, and therefore I say rather thou than you. I confess indeed, that
the civility and custom of this word, requires him to be honored after
that manner. But it is likewise on the contrary true, that the original
tongue of the New Testament hath nothing common with such manners and
civility, so that not one of these many old versions we have doth
observe it. Let not men believe, that we give not respect enough to God,
in that we call him by the word thou, which is nevertheless far
otherwise. For I seem to myself (may be by the effect of custom) more to
honor his divine majesty, in calling him after this manner, than if I
should call him after the manner of men, who are so delicate in their
forms of speech."

Erasmus also in the treatise, which he wrote on the impropriety of
substituting you for thou, when a person addresses an individual, states
that this strange substitution originated wholly in the flattery of men.


_Other alterations in the language of the Quakers--they address one
another by the title of friends--and others by the title of friends and
neigbours, or by their common names--the use of sir and madam
abolished--also of master or mister--and of humble servant--also of
titles of honor--reasons of this abolition--example of Jesus Christ._

Another alteration, that took place in the language of the Quakers, was
the expunging of all expressions from their vocabulary, which were
either superfluous, or of the same flattering tendency as the former.

In addressing one another, either personally or by letter, they made use
of the word friend, to signify the bond of their own union, and the
character, which man, under the christian dispensation, was bound to
exhibit in his dealings with his fellow-man. They addressed each other
also, and spoke of each other, by their real names. If a man's name was
John, they called him John; they talked to him as John, and added only
his sir-name to distinguish him from others.

In their intercourse with the world they adopted the same mode of
speech: for they addressed individuals either by their plain names, or
they made use of the appellations of friends or neighbours.

They rejected the words sir or madam, as then in use. This they did,
because they considered them like the word you, as remnants of ancient
flattery, derived from the papal and anti-christian ages; and because
these words still continued to be considered as tides of flattery, that
puffed up people in their own times. Howell, who was before quoted on
the pronoun thou, is usually quoted by the Quakers on this occasion
also. He states in his history, that "sir and madam were originally
names given to none, but the king, his brother, and their wives, both in
France and England. Yet now the ploughman in France is called sir and
his wife madam; and men of ordinary trades in England sir, and their
wives dame, which is the legal title of a lady, and is the same as madam
in French. So prevalent hath pride and flattery been in all ages, the
one to give, and the other to receive respect"

The Quakers banished also the word master, or mister as it is now
pronounced, from their language, either when they spoke concerning any
one, or addressed any one by letter. To have used the word master to a
person, who was no master over them, would have been, they considered,
to have indicated a needless servility, and to have given a false
picture of their own situation, as well as of those addressed.

Upon the same or similar principles they hesitated to subscribe
themselves as the humble or obedient servants of any one, as is now
usual, at the bottom of their letters. "Horrid apostacy, says Barclay,
for it is notorious that the use of these compliments implies not any
design of service." This expression in particular they reprobated for
another reason. It was one of those, which had followed the last degree
of impious services and expressions, which had poured in after the
statues of the emperors had been worshipped, after the titles of
eternity and divinity had been ushered in, and after thou had been
exchanged for you, and it had taken a certain station, and flourished
among these. Good christians, however, had endeavoured to keep
themselves clear of such inconsistencies Casaubon has preserved a letter
of Paulinus, Bishop of Nola, in which he rebukes Sulpicius Severus for
having subscribed himself "his humble servant." A part of the letter
runs thus.[39] "Take heed hereafter, how thou, being from a servant
called unto liberty, dost subscribe thyself servant to one, who is thy
brother and fellow servant: for it is a sinful flattery, not a testament
of humility, to pay those honours to a man and to a sinner, which are
due to the one Lord, one Master, and one God."

[Footnote 39: Paulinus flourished in the year 460. He is reported by
Paulus Diacenus to have been an exemplary christian. Among other acts he
is stated to have expended all his revenues in the redemption of
christian captives; and, at last, when he had nothing left in his purse,
to have pawned his own person in favour of a widow's son. The
barbarians, says the same author, struck with this act of unparralleled
devotion to the cause of the unfortunate, released him, and many
prisoners with him without ransom.]

The Quakers also banished from the use of their society all those modes
of expression, which were considered as marks or designations of honour
among men. Hence, in addressing any peer of the realm, they never used
the common formula of "my lord," for though the peer in question might
justly be the lord over many possessions, and tenants, and servants, yet
he was no lord over their heritages or persons. Neither did they ever
use the terms excellency, or grace, or honour, upon similar occasions.
They considered that the bestowing of these titles might bring them
under the necessity of uttering what might be occasionally false. "For
the persons, says Barclay, obtaining these titles, either by election or
hereditarily, may frequently be found to have nothing really in them
deserving them, or answering to them, as some, to whom it is said your
excellency may have nothing of excellency in them, and he, who is called
your grace, may be an enemy to grace, and he, who is called your honour,
may be base and ignoble." They considered also, that they might be
setting up the creature, by giving him the titles of the creator, so
that he might think more highly of himself than he ought, and more
degradingly than he ought, of the rest of the human race.

But, independently of these moral considerations, they rejected these
titles, because they believed, that Jesus Christ had set them an example
by his own declarations and conduct on a certain occasion. When a person
addressed him by the name of good master, he was rebuked as having done
an improper thing. [40] "Why, says our Saviour, callest thou me good?
There is none good but one, that is God." This censure they believe to
have been passed upon him, because Jesus Christ knew, that when he
addressed him by this title, he addressed him, not in his divine nature
or capacity, but only as a man.

[Footnote 40: Matt. xix. 17.]

But Jesus Christ not only refused to receive such titles of distinction
himself in his human nature, but on another occasion exhorted his
followers to shun them also. They were not to be like the Scribes and
Pharisees, who wished for high and eminent distinctions, that is, to be
called Rabbi Rabbi of men; but says he, "be[41] ye not called Rabbi, for
one is your master, even Christ, and all ye are brethren;" and he makes
the desire which he discovered in the Jews, of seeking after worldly
instead of heavenly honours, to be one cause of their infidelity towards
Christ,[42] for that such could not believe, as received honour from one
another, and sought not the honour, which cometh from God only; that is,
that those persons, who courted earthly honours, could not have that
humility of mind, that spirit that was to be of no reputation in the
world, which was essential to those, who wished to become the followers
of Christ.

[Footnote 41: Matt xxiii. 8.]

[Footnote 42: John. v. 44.]

These considerations, both those of a moral nature, and those of the
example of Jesus Christ, weighed so much with the early Quakers, that
they made no exceptions even in favour of those of royal dignity, or of
the rulers of their own land. George Fox wrote several letters to great
men. He wrote twice to the king of Poland, three or four tunes to Oliver
Cromwell, and several times to Charles the second; but he addressed them
in no other manner man by their plain names, or by simple titles,
expressive of their situations as rulers or kings.[43]

[Footnote 43: The Quakers never refuse the legal titles in the
superscription or direction of their letter. They would direct to the
king, as king: to a peer according to his rank, either as a duke,
marquis, earl, viscount, or baron: to a clergyman, not as reverend, but
as clerk.]

These several alterations, which took place in the language of the early
Quakers, were adopted by their several successors, and are in force in
the society at the present day.


_Other alterations in the language--the names of the days and months
altered--reasons for this change--the word saint disused--various new
phrases introduced_.

Another alteration, which took place in the language of the Quakers was
the disuse of the common names of the days of the week, and of those of
the months of the year.

The names of the days were considered to be of heathen origin. Sunday
had been so called by the Saxons, because it was the day, on which they
sacrificed to the sun. Monday on which they sacrificed to the moon.
Tuesday to the god Tuisco. Wednesday to the god Woden. Thursday to the
god Thor, and so on. Now when the Quakers considered that Jehovah had
forbidden the Israelites to make mention even of the names of other
gods, they thought it inconsistent in Christians to continue to use the
names of heathen idols for the common divisions of their time, so that
these names must be almost always in their mouths. They thought too,
that they were paying a homage, in continuing the use of them, that
bordered on idolatry. They considered also as neither Monday, nor
Tuesday, nor any other of these days, were days, in which these
sacrifices were now offered, they were using words, which conveyed false
notions of things. Hence they determined upon the disuse of these words,
and to put other names in their stead. The numerical way of naming the
days seemed to them to be the most rational, and the most innocent. They
called therefore Sunday the first day, Monday the second, Tuesday the
third, and soon to Saturday, which was of course the seventh. They used
no other names but these, either in their conversation, or in their

Upon the same principles they altered the names of the months also.
These, such as March and June, which had been so named by the ancient
Romans, because they were sacred to Mars and Juno, were exploded,
because they seemed in the use of them to be expressive of a kind of
idolatrous homage. Others again were exploded, because they were not the
representatives of the truth. September, for example, means the
[44]seventh month from the storms. It took this seventh station in the
kalendar of Romulus, and it designated there its own station as well as
the reason of its name. But when it[45] lost its place in the kalendar
by the alteration of the style in England, it lost its meaning. It
became no representative of its station, nor any representative of the
truth. For it still continues to signify the seventh month, whereas it
is made to represent, or to stand in the place of, the ninth. The
Quakers therefore banished from their language the ancient names of the
months, and as they thought they could not do better than they had done
in the case of the days, they placed numerical in their stead. They
called January the first month, February the second, March the third,
and so on to December, which they called the twelfth. Thus the Quaker
kalendar was made up by numerical distinctions, which have continued to
the present day.

[Footnote 44: Septem ab imbribus.]

[Footnote 45: This was in the year 1752, prior to this time the year
began on the 25th of March: and therefore September stood in the English
as in the Roman kalendar. The early Quakers, however, as we find by a
minute in 1697, had then made these alterations; but when the new style
was introduced, they published their reasons for having done so.]

Another alteration, which took place very generally in the language of
the Quakers, was the rejection of the word saint, when they spoke either
of the apostles, or of the primitive fathers. The papal authority had
canonized these. This they considered to be an act of idolatry, and they
thought they should be giving a sanction to superstition, if they
continued the use of such a title, either in their speech or writings.
After this various other alterations took place according as individuals
among them thought it right to expunge old expressions, and to
substitute new; and these alterations were adopted by the rest, as they
had an opinion of those who used them, or as they felt the propriety of
doing it. Hence new phrases came into use, different from those which
were used by the world on the same occasions; and these were gradually
spread, till they became incorporated into the language of the society.
Of these the following examples may suffice.

It is not usual with Quakers to use the words lucky or fortunate, in the
way in which many others do. If a Quaker had been out on a journey, and
had experienced a number of fine days, he would never say that he had
been lucky in his weather. In the same manner if a Quaker had recovered
from an indisposition, he would never say, in speaking of the
circumstance, that he had fortunately recovered, but he would say, that
he had recovered, and "that it was a favour." Luck, chance, or fortune,
are allowed by the Quakers to have no power in the settlement of human

It is not usual with Quakers to beg ten thousand pardons, as some of the
world do, for any little mistake. A Quaker generally on such an occasion
asks a persons excuse.

The Quakers never make use of the expression "christian name." This name
is called christian by the world, because it is the name given to
children in baptism, or in other words, when they are christened, or
when they are initiated as christians. But the Quakers are never
baptised. They have no belief that water-baptism can make a christian,
or that it is any true mark of membership with the christian church.
Hence a man's christian name is called by them his first name, because
it is the first of the two, or of any other number of names, that may
belong to him.

The Quakers, on meeting a person, never say "good morrow," because all
days are equally good. Nor in parting with a person at night, do they
say "good evening," for a similar reason, but they make use of the
expression of "farewell."

I might proceed, till I made a little vocabulary of Quaker-expressions;
but this is not necessary, and it is not at all consistent with my
design. I shall therefore only observe, that it is expected of Quakers,
that they should use the language of the society; that they should
substitute thou for you; that they should discard all flattering titles
and expressions; and that they should adopt the numerical, instead of
the heathen names, of the days and months. George Fox gave the example
himself in all these instances. Those of the society, who depart from
this usage, are said by the Quakers to depart from "the plain language."


_Great objections by the world against the preceding alterations by the
Quakers--first against the use of thou for you--you said to be no longer
a mark of flattery--the use of it is said to be connected often with
false Grammar--Custom said to give it, like a noun of number, a singular
as well as plural Meaning--Consideration of these objections._

There will be no difficulty in imagining, if the Quakers have found
fault with the words and expressions adopted by others, and these the
great majority of the world, that the world will scrutinize, and find
fault with, those of the Quakers in return. This in fact has turned out
to be the case.--And I know of no subject, except that of dress, where
the world have been more lavish of their censures, than in that before

When the Quakers first appeared as a religious community, many
objections were thrown but against the peculiarities of their language.
These were noticed by Robert Barclay and William Penn. But, since that
time, other objections have been started. But as these have not been
published (for they remain where they have usually been, in the mouths
of living persons) Quaker writers have not felt themselves called upon
to attempt to answer them. These objections, however, of both
descriptions, I shall notice in the present place.

As the change of the pronoun thou for you was the first article, that I
brought forward on the subject of the language of the Quakers, I shall
begin with the objections, that are usually started against it.

"Singularity, it is said, should always be avoided, if it can be done
with a clear conscience. The Quakers might have had honest scruples
against you for thou, when you was a mark of flattery. But they can have
no reasonable scruples now, and therefore they should cease to be
singular, for the word you is clearly no mark of flattery at the present
day. However improper it might once have been, it is now an innocent

"The use again of the word thou for you, as insisted upon by the
Quakers, leads them frequently into false grammar. 'Thee knowest,' and
terms like these, are not unusual in Quaker mouths. Now the Quakers,
though they defended the word thou for you on the notion, that they
ought not to accustom their lips to flattery, defended it also
strenuously on the notion, that they were strictly adhering to
grammar-rules. But all such terms as 'thee knowest,' and others of a
similar kind, must recoil upon themselves as incorrect, and as
censurable, even upon their own ground."

"The word you again may be considered as a singular, as well as a plural
expression. The world use it in this manner. And who are the makers of
language, but the world? Words change their meaning, as the leaves their
colour in autumn, and custom has always been found powerful enough to
give authority for a change."

With respect to these objections, it may be observed, that the word you
has certainly so far lost its meaning, as to be no longer a mark of
flattery. The Quakers also are occasionally found in the use of the
ungrammatical expressions, that have been brought against them. And
unquestionably, except they mean to give up the grammatical part of the
defence by Penn and Barclay, these ought to be done away. That you,
however, is of the singular number, is not quite so clear. For while
thou is used in the singular number in the Bible, and in the liturgy,
and in the prayers of individuals, and while it is the language, as it
is, of a great portion of the inhabitants of the northern part of the
kingdom, it will be a standing monument against the usurpation and
mutilated dominion of you.


_Secondly against the words friend and neighbour, as used by the
Quakers--Quakers also said to be wrong in their disuse of titles--for
the use of these is sanctioned by St. Luke and St. Paul--answer of
Barclay to the latter assertion--this answer not generally deemed
satisfactory--observations upon the subject in dispute._

The subject, that comes next in order, will be that of the objections,
that are usually made against certain terms used by the Quakers, and
against their disuse of titles of honour, as sanctioned by the world.

On the use of the words "friend, and neighbour," it is usually observed,
that these are too limited in their meaning, to be always, if used
promiscuously, representatives of the truth. If the Quakers are so nice,
that they will use no expression, that is not precisely true, they
should invent additional terms, which should express the relative
condition of those, with whom they converse. The word "friend" denotes
esteem, and the word "neighbour" proximity of dwelling. But all the
persons, to whom the Quakers address themselves, are not persons, whom
they love and respect, or who are the inhabitants of the same
neighbourhood with themselves. There is, it is said, as much untruth in
calling a man friend, or neighbour, who is not so, as excellency, in
whom there may be nothing that is excellent.

The Quakers, in reply to this, would observe, that they use the word
friend, as significative of their own union, and, when they speak to
others, as significative of their Christian relation to one another. In
the same sense they use the word neighbour. Jesus Christ, when the
lawyer asked him who was his neighbour, gave him a short[46] history of
the Samaritan, who fell among thieves; from which he suggested on
inference, that the term neighbour was not confined to those, who lived
near one another, or belonged to the same sect, but that it might extend
to those, who lived at a distance, and to the Samaritan equally with the
Jew. In the same manner he considered all men as[47] brethren. That is,
they were thus scripturally related to one another.

[Footnote 46: Luke x. 39.]

[Footnote 47: Matt, xxiii. 8.]

Another objection which has been raised against the Quakers on this
part of the subject, is levelled against their disuse of the titles of
honour of the world. St. Luke, it has been said, makes use of the terms
most excellent, when he addresses Theophilus, and St. Paul of the words
most noble, when he addresses Festus. Now the teachers and promulgators
of christianity would never have given these titles, if they had not
been allowable by the gospel.

As this last argument was used in the time of Barclay, he has noticed it
in his celebrated apology.--"Since Luke, says he, wrote by the dictates
of the infallible spirit of God, I think it will not be doubted but
Theophilus did deserve it, as being really endued with that virtue; in
which case we shall not condemn those, who do it by the same rule. But
it is not proved, that Luke gave Theophilus this title, as that which
was inherent to him, either by his father, or by any patent Theophilus
had obtained from any of the princes of the earth, or that he would have
given it to him, in case he had not been truly excellent; and without
this be proved, which never can, there can nothing hence be deduced
against us. The like may be said of that of Paul to Festus, whom he
would not have called such, if he had not been truly noble; as indeed he
was, in that he suffered him to be heard in his own cause, and would not
give way to the fury of the Jews against him. It was not because of any
outward title bestowed upon Festus, that he so called him, else he would
have given the same compilation to his predecessor Felix, who had the
same office, but being a covetous man we find he gives him no such

This is the answer of Barclay. It has not however been deemed quite
satisfactory by the world. It has been observed that one good action
will never give a man a right to a general title. This is undoubtedly an
observation of some weight. But it must be contended on the other hand,
that both Luke and Paul must have been apprised that the religion, they
were so strenuous in propagating, required every man to speak the truth.
They must have been apprised also, that it inculcated humility of mind.
And it is probable therefore that they would never have bestowed titles
upon men, which should have been false in their application, or
productive of vanity and pride. St. Luke could not be otherwise than
aware of the answer of Jesus Christ, when he rebuked the person for
giving him the title of good, because he was one of the evangelists,
who[48] recorded it, and St. Paul could not have been otherwise than
aware of it also, on account of his intimacy with St. Luke, as well as
from other causes.

[Footnote 48: Luke xviii, 18.]

Neither has this answer been considered as satisfactory for another
reason. It has been presumed that the expressions of excellent and of
noble were established titles of rank, and if an evangelist and an
apostle used them, they could not be objectionable if used by others.
But let us admit for a moment, that they were titles of rank. How
happens it that St. Paul, when he was before Festus, and not in a
judicial capacity (for he had been reserved for Caesar's tribunal)
should have given him this epithet of noble; and that, when summoned
before Felix, and this in a judicial capacity, he should have omitted
it? This application of it to the one and not to the other, either
implies that it was no title, or, if it was a title as we have supposed,
that St. Paul had some reason for this partial use of it. And in this
case, no better reason can be given, than that suggested by Barclay. St.
Paul knew that Festus had done his duty. He knew, on the other hand, the
abandoned character of Felix. The latter was then living, as Josephus
relates, in open adultery with Drusilla, who had been married to Azis,
and brought away from her husband by the help of Simon a Magician; and
this circumstance probably gave occasion to Paul to dwell upon
temperance, or continence as the word might be rendered, among other
subjects, when he made Felix tremble. But, besides this, he must have
known the general character of a man, of whom Tacitus complained, that
"his government was distinguished by[49] servility and every species of
cruelty and lust."--

[Footnote 49: "Per omnem Saevitiam et Libidinem jus regium servili
ingenio exercuit."]

If therefore the epithet of noble was an established title for those
Romans, who held the government of Judea, the giving of it to one, and
the omission of it to the other, would probably shew the discrimination
of St. Paul as a Christian, that he had no objection to give it, where
it could be applied with truth, but that he refused it, when it was not
applicable to the living character.

But that the expression of excellent or of noble was any title at all,
there is no evidence to shew. And first, let us examine the word, which
was used upon this occasion. The [50]original Greek word has no meaning
as a title in any Lexicon that I have seen. It relates both to personal
and civil power, and in a secondary sense, to the strength and
disposition of the mind. It occurs but in four places in the New
Testament. In two of these it is translated excellent and in the others
noble. But Gilbert Wakefield, one of our best scholars has expunged the
word noble, and substituted excellent throughout. Indeed of all the
meanings of this word noble is the least proper. No judgment therefore
can be pronounced in favour of a title by any analysis of the word.

[Footnote 50: [Greek: kralistos]]

Let us now examine it as used by St. Luke. And here almost every
consideration makes against it, as an established title. In the first
place, the wisest commentators do not know who Theophilus was. It has
been supposed by many learned fathers, such as Epephanius, Salvian, and
others, that St. Luke, in addressing his gospel to Theophilus, addressed
it as the words, "excellent Theophilus" import, to every "firm lover of
God," or, if St. Luke uses the style of [51]Athanasius, to "every good
Christian." But on a supposition that Theophilus had been a living
character, and a man in power, the use of the epithet is against it as a
title of rank; because St. Luke gives it to Theophilus in the beginning
of his gospel, and does not give it to him, when he addresses him in the
acts. If therefore he had addressed him in this manner, because
excellent was his proper title, on one occasion, it would have been a
kind of legal, and at any rate a disrespectful omission, not to have
given it to him on the other. With respect to the term noble as used by
St. Paul to Festus, the sense of it must be determined by general as
well as by particular considerations. There are two circumstances, which
at the first sight make in favour of it as a title,[52]Lysias addresses
his letter to the "most excellent Felix," and the orator [53]Tertullus
says, "we except it always and in all places most noble Felix!" But
there must be some drawback from the latter circumstance, as an argument
of weight. There is reason to suppose that this expression was used by
Tertullus, as a piece of flattery, to compass the death of Paul; for it
is of a piece with the other expressions which he used, when he talked
of the worthy deeds done by the providence of so detestable a wretch,
as Felix. And it will always be an objection to noble as a legal title,
that St. Paul gave it to one governor, and omitted it to another, except
he did it for the reasons, that have been before described. To this it
may be added, that legal titles of eminence were not then, as at this
time of day, in use. Agrippa had no other, or at least Paul gave him no
other title, than that of king. If Porcius Festus had been descended
from a Patrician, or had had the statues of his ancestors, he might, on
these accounts, be said to have been of a noble family. But we know,
that nobody on this account, would have addressed him as noble in those
days, either by speech or letter. The first Roman, who was ever honoured
with a legal title, as a title of distinction, was Octavius, upon whom
the senate, but a few years before the birth of Paul, had conferred the
name of Augustus. But no procurator of a province took this title.
Neither does it appear that the circumstance gave birth to inferior
titles to those in inferior offices in the government. And indeed on the
title "Augustus" it may be observed, that though it followed the
successors of Octavius, it was but sparingly used, being mostly used on
medals, monumental pillars, and in public acts of the state. Pliny, in
his letters to Trajan, though reputed an excellent prince, addressed him
as only sir or master, and he wrote many years after the death of Paul.
Athenagoras, in addressing his book, in times posterior to these, to the
emperors M. Aurelius Antoninus, and L. Aurelius Commodus, addresses
them only by the title of "great princes." In short titles were not in
use. They did not creep in, so as to be commonly used, till after the
statues of the emperors had begun to be worshipped by the military as a
legal and accustomary homage. The terms "eternity and divinity" with
others were then ushered in, but these were confined wholly to the
emperors themselves. In the time of Constantine we find the title of
illustrious. This was given to those princes, who had distinguished
themselves in war, but it was not continued to their descendants. In
process of time, however, it became more common, and the son of every
prince began to be called illustrious.

[Footnote 51: [Greek: makarios] and [Greek: philochrisos] are
substituted by Athanasius for the word christian.]

[Footnote 52: Acts, xxiii, 26.]

[Footnote 53: Acts, xxiv. 3.]


_Thirdly against the alteration of the names of the days and
months--people, it is said do not necessarily pay homage to Idols, who
continue in the use of the ancient names--if the Quaker principles also
were generally adopted on this subject, language would be thrown into
confusion--Quakers also, by attempting to steer clear of Idolatry, fall
into it--replies of the Quakers to these objections._

The next objections for consideration, which are made against the
language of the Quakers, are those which relate to their alteration of
the names of the days and the months. These objections are commonly
made, when the language of the Quakers becomes a subject of conversation
with the world.

"There is great absurdity, it is said, in supposing, that persons pay
any respect to heathen idols, who retain the use of the ancient names of
the divisions of time. How many thousands are there, who know nothing of
their origin? The common people of the country know none of the reasons,
why the months, and the days are called as they are. The middle classes
are mostly ignorant of the same. Those, who are well informed on the
subject, never once think, when they mention the months and days, on the
reason of the rise of their names. Indeed the almost hourly use of
those names secures the oblivion of their origin. Who, when he speaks of
Wednesday and Thursday, thinks that these were the days sacred to Woden
and Thor? but there can be no idolatry, where there is no intention to

"Great weakness, it is said again, is manifested by the Quakers, in
quarrelling with a few words in the language, and in living at peace
with others, which are equally objectionable. Every reason, it is said,
must be a weak one, which is not universal. But if some of the reasons,
given by the Quakers, were universally applied, they would throw
language into as much confusion as the builders of Babel. The word Smith
for example, which is the common name of many families, ought to be
objected to by this rule, if the person, to whom it belongs, happens to
be a carpenter. And the word carpenter which is likewise a family-name,
ought to be objected to, if the person so called should happen to be a
smith. And, in this case, men would be obliged to draw lots for numbers,
and to be called by the numerical ticket, which they should draw."

"It is objected again to the Quakers, that, by attempting to steer clear
of idolatry, they fall into it. The Quakers are considered to be genuine
idolaters, in this case. The blind pagan imagined a moral being, either
heavenly or infernal, to inhere in a log of wood or a block of stone.
The Quakers, in like manner, imagine a moral being, truth or falsehood,
to exist in a lifeless word, and this independently of the sense in
which it is spoken, and in which it is known that it will be understood.
What is this, it is said, but a species of idolatry and a degrading

The Quakers would reply to these observations, first, that they do not
charge others with idolatry, in the use of these names, who know nothing
of their origin, or who feel no impropriety in their use.

Secondly, that if the principle, upon which they found their alterations
in language, cannot, on account of existing circumstances, be followed
in all cases, there is no reason, why it should not be followed, where
it can. In the names of men it would be impossible to adopt it. Old
people are going off, and young people are coming up, and people of all
descriptions are themselves changing, and a change of names to suit
every persons condition, and qualification, would be impossible.

Thirdly, that they pay no more homage or obeisance to words, than the
obeisance of truth. There is always a propriety in truth, and an
impropriety in falsehood. And in proportion as the names of things
accord with their essences, qualities, properties, character, and the
like, they are more or less proper. September, for example, is not an
appropriate name, if its meaning be enquired into, for the month which
it represents: but the ninth month is, and the latter appellation will
stand the test of the strictest enquiry.

They would say again that this, as well as the other alterations in
their language has had a moral influence on the society, and has been
productive of moral good. In the same manner as the dress, which they
received from their ancestors has operated as a guardian, or
preservative of virtue, so has the language which they received from
them also. The language has made the world overseers of the conduct of
the society. A Quaker is known by his language as much as by his dress.
It operates, by discovering him, as a check upon his actions. It keeps
him also, like the dress distinct from others. And the Quakers believe,
that they can never keep up their Christian discipline, except they keep
clear of the spirit of the world. Hence it has been considered as of
great importance to keep up the plain language; and this importance has
been further manifested by circumstances, that have taken place within
the pale of the society. For in the same manner as those, who begin to
depart from the simplicity of dress, are generally in the way to go off
among the world, so are those who depart from the simplicity of the
language. Each deviation is a sign of a temper for desertion. Each
deviation brings them in appearance nearer to the world. But the nearer
they resemble the world in this respect, the more they are found to mix
with it. They are of course the more likely to be seduced from the
wholesome prohibitions of the society. The language therefore of the
Quakers has grown up insensibly as a wall of partition, which could not
now, it is contended, be taken away without endangering the innocence of
their youth.


_Advantages and disadvantages of the system of the Quaker,
language--disadvantages are that it may lead to superstition--and
hypocrisy--advantages are that it excludes flattery--is founded upon
truth--promotes truth, and correctness in the expression of
ideas--observation of Hobbes--would be the most perfect model for a
universal calendar--the use or disuse of this system may either of them
be made useful to morality._

I have now given to the reader the objections, that are usually made to
the alterations, which the Quakers have introduced into the language of
the country, as well as the replies, which the Quakers would make to
these objections. I shall solicit the continuance of his patience a
little longer, or till I have made a few remarks of my own upon this

It certainly becomes people, who introduce great peculiarities into
their system, to be careful, that they are well founded, and to consider
how far they may bring their minds into bondage, or what moral effects
they may produce on their diameter in a course of time.

On the reformed language of the Quakers it may be observed, that both
advantages and disadvantages may follow according to the due or undue
estimation in which individuals may hold it.

If individuals should lay too great a stress upon language, that is, if
they should carry their prejudices so far against outward and lifeless
words, that they should not dare to pronounce them, and this as a matter
of religion, they are certainly in the way of becoming superstitious,
and of losing the dignified independence of their minds.

If again they should put an undue estimate upon language, so as to
consider it as a criterion of religious purity, they may be encouraging
the growth of hypocrisy within their own precincts. For if the use of
this reformed language be considered as an essential of religion, that
is, if men are highly thought of in proportion as they conform to it
rigidly, it may be a covering to many to neglect the weightier matters
of righteousness; at least the fulfilling of such minor duties may
shield them from the suspicion of neglecting the greater: and if they
should be reported as erring in the latter case, their crime would be
less credited under their observance of these minutiae of the law.

These effects are likely to result to the society, if the peculiarities
of their language be insisted on beyond their due bounds. But, on the
other hand, it must be confessed, that advantages are likely to follow
from the same system, which are of great importance in themselves, and
which may be set off as a counterbalance to the disadvantages described.

The Quakers may say, and this with the greatest truth, "we have never
cringed or stooped below the dignity of men. We have never been guilty
of base flattery; we have never been instrumental in raising the
creature, with whom we have conversed, above his condition, so that in
the imagination of his own consequence, he should lose sight of his
dependence on the Supreme Being, or treat his fellow-men, because they
should happen to be below him, as worms or reptiles of the earth."

They may say also that the system of their language originated in the
purest motives, and that it is founded on the sacred basis of truth.

It may be said also, that the habits of caution which the different
peculiarities in their language have introduced and interwoven into
their constitution, have taught them particularly to respect the truth,
and to aim at it in all their expressions whether in speech or letters,
and that it has given them a peculiar correctness in the expression of
their ideas, which they would scarcely have had by means of the ordinary
education of the world. Hobbes says[54] "animadverte, quam sit ab
improprietate verborum pronum hominibus prolabi in errores circa res,"
or "how prone men are to fall into errors about things, when they use
improper expressions." The converse of this proposition may be observed
to be true with respect to the Quakers, or it may be observed, that the
study of proper expressions has given them correct conceptions of
things, and has had an influence in favor of truth. There are no people,
though the common notion may be otherwise, who speak so accurately as
the Quakers, or whose letters, if examined on any subject, would be so
free from any double meaning, so little liable to be mistaken, and so
easy to be understood.

[Footnote 54: Hobbesii Examen. et Emend. Hod. Math. P. 55. Edit.

It may be observed also on the language of the Quakers, that is, on that
part of it, which relates to the alteration of the names of the months
and days, that this alteration would form the most perfect model for an
universal calendar of any that has yet appeared in the world. The French
nation chose to alter their calendar, and, to make it useful to
husbandry, they designated their months, so that they should be
representatives of the different seasons of the year. They called them
snowy, and windy, and harvest, and vintage-months, and the like. But in
so large a territory, as that of France, these new designations were not
the representatives of the truth. The northern and southern parts were
not alike in their climate. Much less could these designations speak
the truth for other parts of the world: whereas numerical appellations
might be adopted with truth, and be attended with usefulness to all the
nations of the world, who divided their time in the same manner.

On the latter subject of the names of the days and months, the
alteration of which is considered as the most objectionable by the
world, I shall only observe, that, if the Quakers have religious
scruples concerning them, it is their duty to persevere in the disuse of
them. Those of the world, on the other hand, who have no such scruples,
are under no obligation to follow their example. And in the same manner
as the Quakers convert the disuse of these ancient terms to the
improvement of their moral character, so those of the world may convert
the use of them to a moral purpose. Man is a reasonable, and moral
being, and capable of moral improvement; and this improvement may be
made to proceed from apparently worthless causes. If we were to find
crosses or other Roman-Catholic relics fixed in the walls of our places
of worship, why should we displace them? Why should we not rather suffer
them to remain, to put us in mind of the necessity of thankfulness for
the reformation in our religion? If again we were to find an altar,
which had been sacred to Moloc, but which had been turned into a
stepping stone, to help the aged and infirm upon their horses, why
should we destroy it? Might it not be made useful to our morality, as
far as it could be made to excite sorrow for the past and gratitude for
the present? And in the same manner might it not be edifying to retain
the use of the ancient names of the days and months? Might not thankful
feelings be excited in our hearts, that the crime of idolatry had ceased
among us, and that the only remnant of it was a useful signature of the
times? In fact, if it be the tendency of the corrupt part of our nature
to render innocent things vicious, it is, on the other hand, in the
essence of our nature, to render vicious things in process of time
innocent; so that the remnants of idolatry and superstition may be made
subservient to the moral improvement of mankind.


_Address--all nations have used ceremonies of address--George Fox bears
his testimony against those in use in his own times--sufferings of the
Quakers on this account--makes no exception in favor of royalty--his
dispute with Judge Glynn--modern Quakers follow his example--use no
ceremonies even to majesty--various reasons for their disuse of them._

All nations have been in the habit of using outward gestures or
ceremonies, as marks of affection, obeisance or respect. And these
outward ceremonies have been different from one another, so much so,
that those, which have been adjudged to be suitable emblems of certain
affections or dispositions of the mind among one people, would have been
considered as very improper emblems of the same, and would have been
even thought ridiculous by another, yet all nations have supposed, that
they employed the most rational modes for these purposes. And indeed,
there were probably none of these outward gestures and ceremonies,
which, in their beginning, would not have admitted of a reasonable
defence while they continued to convey to the minds of those, who
adopted them, the objects, for which they were intended, or while those,
who used them, persevered with sincerity in their use, little or no
objection could be made to them by the moralist. But as soon as the ends
of their institution were lost, or they were used without any
appropriate feeling of the heart, they became empty civilities, and
little better than mockery or grimace.

The customs of this sort, which obtained in the time of George Fox, were
similar to those, which are now in use on similar occasions. People
pulled off their hats, and bowed, and scraped with their feet. And these
things they did, as marks of civility, friendship, or respect to one

George Fox was greatly grieved about these idle ceremonies. He lamented
that men should degrade themselves by the use of them, and that they
should encourage habits, that were abhorrent of the truth. His feelings
were so strong upon this subject, that he felt himself called upon to
bear his testimony against them. Accordingly he never submitted to them
himself, and those, who received his religious doctrines, followed his

The omission of these ceremonies, however, procured both for him and his
followers, as had been the case in the change of thou for you, much
ill-will, and harsh treatment. The Quakers were derided and abused.
Their hats were taken forcibly from their heads, and thrown away. They
were beaten and imprisoned on this sole account. And so far did the
world carry their resentment towards them for the omission of these
little ceremonies, that they refused for some time to deal with them as
tradesmen, or to buy things at their shops, so that some Quakers could
hardly get money enough to buy themselves bread.

George Fox, however, and his associates, persevered, notwithstanding
this ill usage, in the disuse of all honours, either by the moving of
the hat, or the usual bendings of the body; and as that, which was a
right custom for one, was a right one for another, they made no
exception even in favour of the chief magistrate of the land. George
Fox, when he visited Oliver Cromwell as protector, never pulled off his
hat; and it is remarkable that the protector was not angry with him for

Neither did he pull off his hat to the judges at any time,
notwithstanding he was so often brought before them. Controversies
sometimes took place between him and them in the public court, upon
these occasions, one of which I shall notice, as it marks the manner of
conducting the jurisprudence of those times.

When George Fox, and two other friends, were brought out of Launceston
gaol, to be tried before judge Glynn, who was then chief justice of
England, they came into court with their hats on. The judge asked them
the reason of this, but they said nothing. He then told them, that the
court commanded them to pull off their hats. Upon this George Fox
addressed them in the following manner. "Where, says he, did ever any
magistrate, king or judge, from Moses to Daniel, command any to put off
their hats, when they came before them in their courts, either amongst
the Jews, who were God's people, or among the heathen? And if the law of
England doth command any such thing, shew me that law, either written or
printed." Judge Glynn upon this grew angry, and replied, that "he did
not carry his law-books upon his back." But says George Fox, "tell me
where it is printed in any statute-book, that I may read it" The judge,
in a vulgar manner, ordered him away, and he was accordingly taken away,
and put among thieves. The judge, however, in a short time afterwards
ordered him up again, and, on his return put to him the following
question, "Come, says he, where had they hats from Moses to Daniel?
Come, answer me. I have you fast now." George. Fox replied, that "he
might read in the third chapter of Daniel, that the three children were
cast into the fiery furnace by Nebuchadnezzar's command, with their
coats, their hose, and their hats on." The repetition of this apposite
text stopped the judge from any farther comments on the custom, and he
ordered him and his companions to be taken away again. And they were
accordingly taken away and they were thrust again among thieves. In
process of time, however, this custom of the Quakers began to be known
among the judges, who so far respected their scruples, as to take care
that their hats should be taken off in future in the courts.

These omissions of the ceremonies of the world, as begun by the
primitive Quakers, are continued by the modern. They neither bow nor
scrape, nor pull off their hats to any, by way of civility or respect,
and they carry their principles, like their predecessors, so far, that
they observe none of these exterior parts of politeness even in the
presence of royalty. The Quakers are in the habit on particular
occasions of sending deputies to the king. And it is remarkable that his
present majesty always sees them himself, if he be well, and not by
proxy. Notwithstanding this, no one in the deputation ever pulls off his
hat. Those, however, who are in waiting in the anti-chamber, knowing
this custom of the Quakers, take their hats from their heads, before
they enter the room, where the king is. On entering the room, they
neither bow nor scrape, nor kneel, and as this ceremony cannot be
performed for them by others, they go into the royal presence in a less
servile, or more dignified manner, than either the representatives of
sovereigns, or those, who have humbled nations by the achievement of
great victories.

The ground, upon which the Quakers decline the use of the ordinary
ceremonies just mentioned, is, the honours are the honours of the world.
Now, as that these of the world, they consider them as objectionable on
several accounts.

First, they are no more the criterions of obeisance and respect, than
mourning garments are the criterions of sorrow. But Christianity is
never satisfied but with the truth. It forbids all false appearances. It
allows no image to be held out, that is not a faithful picture of its
original, or no action to be resorted to, that is not correspondent with
the feelings of the heart.

In the second place the Quakers presume, that, as honours of the world,
all such ceremonies are generally of a complimentary nature. No one bows
to a poor man. But almost every one to the rich, and the rich to one
another. Hence bowing is as much a species of flattery through the
medium of the body, as the giving of undeserved titles through the
medium of the tongue.

As honours of the world again the Quakers think them censurable, because
all such honours were censured by Jesus Christ. On the occasion, on
which he exhorted his followers not to be like the Scribes and
Pharisees, and to seek flattering titles, so as to be called Rabbi Rabbi
of man, he exhorted them to avoid all ceremonious salutations, such as
greetings in the market-places. He couples the two different customs of
flattering titles and salutations in the same sentence, and mentions
them in the same breath. And though the word "greetings" does not
perhaps precisely mean those bowings and scrapings, which are used at
the present day, yet it means, both according to its derivation and the
nature of the Jewish customs, those outward personal actions or
gestures, which were used as complimentary to the Jewish world.

With respect to the pulling off the hat the Quakers have an additional
objection to this custom, quite distinct from the objections, that have
been mentioned above. Every minister in the Quaker society takes off his
hat, either when he preaches, or when he prays. St Paul[55] enjoins this
custom. But if they take off their hats, that is, uncover their heads,
as an outward act enjoined in the service of God, they cannot with any
propriety take them off, or uncover their heads to men, because they
would be giving to the creature the same outward honour which they give
to the creator. And in this custom they conceive the world to be
peculiarly inconsistent. For men go into their churches, and into their
meetings, and pull off their hats, or uncover their heads, for the same
reason as the Quaker-ministers when they pray (for no other reason can
be assigned) and, when they come out of their respective places of
worship, they uncover them again on every trivial occasion, to those
whom they meet, using to man the same outward mark of homage, as they
had just given to God.

[Footnote 55: 1 Cor. Chap. xi.]


_Manners and conversation--Quakers esteemed reserved--this an
appearance owing to their education--their hospitality in their own
houses--the freedom allowed and taken--their conversation
limited--politics generally excluded--subjects of conversation examined
in our towns--also in the metropolis--no such subjects among the
Quakers--their conversation more dignified--extraordinary circumstance
that takes place occasionally in the company of the Quakers._

The Quakers are generally supposed to be a stiff and reserved people,
and to be a people of severe and uncourteous manners. I confess there is
something in their appearance that will justify the supposition in the
eyes of strangers, and of such as do not know them: I mean of such, as
just see them occasionally out of doors, but do not mix with them in
their own houses.

It cannot be expected that persons, educated like the Quakers, should
assimilate much in their manners to other people. The very dress they
wear, which is so different from that of others, would give them a stiff
appearance in the eyes of the world, if nothing else could be found to
contribute towards it. Excluded also from much intercourse with the
world, and separated at a vast distance from it by the singularity of
many of their customs, they would naturally appear to others to be close
and reserved. Neither is it to be expected that those, whose spirits
are never animated by music, or enlivened by the exhibitions of the
theatre, or the diversions which others follow, would have other than
countenances that were grave. Their discipline also, which calls them so
frequently to important duties, and the dispatch of serious business,
would produce the same feature. I may observe also, that a peculiarity
of gait, which might be mistaken for awkwardness, might not unreasonably
be expected in those, who had neither learned to walk under the guidance
of a dancing, master, nor to bow under the direction of the dominion of
fashion. If those and those only are to be esteemed really polished and
courteous, who bow and scrape, and salute each other by certain
prescribed gestures, then the Quakers will appear to have contracted
much rust, and to have an indisputable right to the title of a clownish
and inflexible people.

I must observe however that these appearances, though they may be
substantial in the estimation of those who do not know them, gradually
vanish with those, who do. Their hospitality in their own houses, and
their great attention and kindness, soon force out of sight all ideas of
uncourteousness. Their freedom also soon annihilates those of stiffness
and reserve. Their manners, though they have not the polished surface of
those which are usually attached to fashionable life, are agreeable,
when known.

There is one trait in the Quaker-manners, which runs through the whole
society, as far as I have seen in their houses, and which is worthy of
mention. The Quakers appear to be particularly gratified, when those,
who visit them, ask for what they want. Instead of considering this as
rudeness or intrusion, they esteem it as a favour done them. The
circumstance of asking, on such an occasion, is to them a proof, that
there visitors feel themselves at home. Indeed they almost always desire
a stranger who has been introduced to them "to be free." This is their
usual expression. And if he assures them that he will, and if they find
him asking for what he wishes to have, you may perceive in their
countenances the pleasure, which his conduct has given them. They
consider him, when he has used this freedom, to have acted as they
express it "kindly." Nothing can be more truly polite than that conduct
to another, by which he shall be induced to feel himself as comfortably
situated, as if he were in his own house.

As the Quakers desire their visitors to be free, and to do as they
please, so they do not fail to do the same themselves, never regarding
such visitors as impediments in the way of their concerns. If they have
any business or engagement out of doors, they say so and go, using no
ceremony, and but few words as an apology. Their visitors, I mean such
as stay for a time in their houses, are left in the interim to amuse
themselves as they please. This is peculiarly agreeable, because their
friends know, when they visit them, that they neither restrain, nor
shackle, nor put them to inconvenience. In fact it may be truly said
that if satisfaction in visiting depends upon a man's own freedom to do
as he likes, to ask and to call for what he wants, to go out and come in
as he pleases; and if it depends also on the knowledge he has, that, in
doing all these things, he puts no person out of his way, there are no
houses, where people will be better pleased with their treatment, than
in those of the Quakers.

This trait in the character of the Quakers is very general. I would not
pretend, however, to call it universal. But it is quite general enough
to be pronounced a feature in their domestic character. I do not mean by
the mention of it, to apologize, in any manner for the ruggedness of
manners of some Quakers. There are undoubtedly solitary families, which
having lived in places, where there have been scarcely any of their own
society with whom to associate, and which, having scarcely mixed with
others of other denominations except in the way of trade, have an
uncourteousness, ingrafted in them as it were by these circumstances,
which no change of situation afterwards has been able to obliterate.

The subjects of conversation among the Quakers differ, like those of
others, but they are not so numerous, neither are they of the same kind,
as those of other people.

The Quaker conversation is cramped or fettered for two reasons, first by
the caution, that prevails among the members of the society relative to
the use of idle words, and secondly by the caution, that prevails among
them, relative to the adapting of their expressions to the truth. Hence
the primitive Quakers were persons of few words.

The subjects also of the Quaker conversation are limited for several
reasons. The Quakers have not the same classical or philosophical
education, as those of other denominations in an equal situation in
life. This circumstance will of course exclude many topics from their

Religious considerations also exclude others. Politics, which generally
engross a good deal of attention, and which afford an inexhaustible fund
of matter for conversation to a great part of the inhabitants of the
island, are seldom introduced, and, if introduced, very tenderly
handled in general among the Quaker-society. I have seen aged Quakers
gently reprove others of tenderer years, with whom they happened to be
in company, for having started them. It is not that the Quakers have not
the same feelings as other men, or that they are not equally interested
about humanity, or that they are incapable of opinions on the changeable
political events, that are passing over the face of the globe, that this
subject is so little agitated among them. They are usually silent upon
it for particular reasons. They consider first, that, as they are not
allowed to have any direction, and in many cases could not
conscientiously interfere, in government-matters, it would be folly to
disquiet their minds with vain and fruitless speculations. They consider
again, that political subjects frequently irritate people, and make them
warm. Now this is a temper, which they consider to be peculiarly
detrimental to their religion. They consider themselves also in this
life as but upon a journey to another, and that they should get through
it as quietly and as inoffensively as they can. They believe again with
George Fox, that, "in these lower regions, or in this airy life, all
news is uncertain. There is nothing stable. But in the higher regions,
or in the kingdom of Christ, all things are stable: and the news is
always good and certain." [56]

[Footnote 56: There is always an exception in favour of conversation on
politics, which is, when the government are agitating any question,
their interests or their religious freedom is involved.]

As politics do not afford matter for much conversation in the
Quaker-society, so neither do some other subjects, that may be

In a country town, where people daily visit, it is not uncommon to
observe, whether at the card, or at the tea-table, that what is usually
called scandal forms a part of the pleasures of conversation. The
hatching up of suspicions on the accidental occurrence of trivial
circumstances, the blowing up of these suspicions into substances and
forms, animadversions on character, these, and such like themes, wear
out a great part of the time of an afternoon or an evening visit. Such
subjects, however, cannot enter where Quakers converse with one another.
To avoid tale-bearing and detraction is a lesson inculcated into them in
early youth. The maxim is incorporated into their religion, and of
course follows them through life. It is contained in one of their
queries. This query is read to them in their meetings, and the subject
of it is therefore repeatedly brought to their notice and recollection.
Add to which, that, if a Quaker were to repeat any unfounded scandal,
that operated to the injury of another's character, and were not to give
up the author, or make satisfaction for the same, he would be liable,
by the rules of the society, to be disowned.

I do not mean to assert here, that a Quaker never says a harsh thing of
another man. All, who profess to be, are not Quakers. Subjects of a
scandalous nature may be in introduced by others of another
denomination, in which, if Quakers are present, they may unguardedly
join. But it is certainly true, that Quakers are more upon their guard,
with respect to scandalizing others, than many other people. Nor is this
unlikely to be the case, when we consider that caution in this
particular is required of them by the laws of their religion. It is
certainly true also, that such subjects are never introduced by them,
like those at country tea-tables, for the sole purpose of producing
conversation. And I believe I may add with truth, that it would even be
deemed extraordinary by the society, if such subjects were introduced by
them at all.

In companies also in the metropolis, as well as in country towns, a
variety of subjects affords food for conversation which never enter into
the discourse of the Quakers.

If we were to go into the company of persons of a certain class in the
metropolis, we should find them deriving the enjoyments of conversation
from some such subjects as the following. One of the company would
probably talk of the exquisitely fine manner, in which an actress
performed her part on a certain night. This, would immediately give
birth to a variety of remarks. The name of one actress would bring up
that of another, and the name of one play that of another, till at
length the stage would become the source of supplying a subject for a
considerable time. Another would probably ask, as soon as this
theatrical discussion was over, the opinion of the company on the
subject of the duel, which the morning papers had reported to have taken
place. This new subject would give new fuel to the fire, and new
discussions would take place, and new observations fly about from all
quarters. Some would applaud the courage of the person, who had been
killed. Others would pity his hard fate. But none would censure his
wickedness for having resorted to such dreadful means for the
determination of his dispute. From this time the laws of honour would be
canvassed, and disquisitions about punctilio, and etiquette, and honour,
would arrest the attention of the company, and supply them with
materials for a time. These subjects would be followed by observations
on fashionable head-dresses, by the relation of elopements, by the
reports of affairs of gallantry. Each subject would occupy its own
portion of time. Thus each would help to swell up the measure of
conversation, and to make up the enjoyment of the visit.

If we were to go among persons of another class in the metropolis, we
should probably find them collecting their entertainment from other
topics. One would talk on the subject of some splendid route. He would
expatiate on the number of rooms that were opened, on the superb manner,
in which they were fitted up, and on the sum of money that was expended
in procuring every delicacy that was out of season. A second would
probably ask, if it were really known, how much one of their female
acquaintance had lost at faro. A third would make observations on the
dresses at the last drawing room. A fourth would particularize the
liveries brought out by individuals on the birth-day. A fifth would ask,
who was to have the vacant red ribbon. Another would tell, how the
minister had given a certain place to a certain nobleman's third son,
and would observe, that the whole family were now provided for by
government. Each of these topics would be enlarged upon, as successively
started, and thus conversation would be kept going during the time of
the visit.

These and other subjects generally constitute the pleasures of
conversation among certain classes of persons. But among the Quakers,
they can hardly ever intrude themselves at all. Places and pensions they
neither do, nor can, hold. Levees and drawing rooms they neither do, nor
would consent to, attend, on pleasure. Red ribbons they would not wear
if given to them. Indeed, very few of the society know what these
insignia mean. As to splendid liveries, these would never occupy their
attention. Liveries for servants, though not expressly forbidden, are
not congenial with the Quaker-system; and as to gaming, plays, or
fashionable amusements, these are forbidden, as I have amply stated
before, by the laws of the society.

It is obvious then, that these topics cannot easily enter into
conversation, where Quakers are. Indeed, nothing so trifling,
ridiculous, or disgusting, occupies their minds. The subjects, that
take up their attention, are of a more solid and useful kind. There is a
dignity, in general, in the Quaker-conversation, arising from the nature
of these subjects, and from the gravity and decorum with which it is
always conducted. It is not to be inferred from hence, that their
conversation is dull and gloomy. There is often no want of
sprightliness, wit, and humour. But then this sprightliness, never
borders upon folly, for all foolish jesting is to be avoided, and it is
always decorous. When vivacity makes its appearance among the Quakers;
it is sensible, and it is uniformly in an innocent and decent dress.

In the company of the Quakers a circumstance sometimes occurs, of so
peculiar a nature, that it cannot be well omitted in this place. It
sometimes happens, that you observe a pause in the conversation. This
pause continues. Surprized at the universal silence now prevailing, you
look round, and find all the Quakers in the room apparently thoughtful.
The history of the circumstance is this. In the course of the
conversation the mind of some one of the persons present has been so
overcome with the weight or importance of it, or so overcome by inward
suggestions or other subjects, as to have given himself up to
meditation, or to passive obedience to the impressions upon his mind.
This person is soon discovered by the rest on account of his particular
silence and gravity. From this moment the Quakers in company cease to
converse. They become habitually silent, and continue so, both old and
young, to give the apparently meditating person an opportunity of
pursuing uninterruptedly the train of his own thoughts. Perhaps, in the
course of his meditations, the subject, that impressed his mind,
gradually dies away, and expires in silence. In this case you find him
resuming his natural position, and returning to conversation with the
company as before. It sometimes happens, however, that, in the midst of
his meditations, he feels an impulse to communicate to those present the
subject of his thoughts, and breaks forth, seriously explaining,
exhorting, and advising, as the nature of it permits and suggests. When
he has finished his observations, the company remain silent for a short
time, after which they converse again as before.

Such a pause, whenever it occurs in the company of the Quakers, may be
considered as a devotional act. For the subject, which occasions it, is
always of a serious or religious nature. The workings in the mind of the
meditating person are considered either as the offspring of a solemn
reflection upon that subject, suddenly and almost involuntarily as it
were produced by duty, or as the immediate offspring of the agency of
the spirit. And an habitual silence is as much the consequence, as if
the person present had been at a place of worship.

It may be observed, however, that such pauses seldom or never occur in
ordinary companies, or where Quakers ordinarily visit one another. When
they take place, it is mostly when a minister is present, and when such
a minister is upon a religious visit to families of a certain district.
In such a case such religious pauses and exhortations are not
unfrequent. A man however may be a hundred times in the company of the
Quakers, and never be present at one of them, and never know indeed that
they exist at all.


_Custom before meals--ancients formerly made an oblation to Vesta before
their meals--Christians have substituted grace--Quakers agree with
others in the necessity of grace or thankfulness-but do not adopt it as
a devotional act, unless it comes from the heart--allow a silent pause
for religious impressions on these occasions--observations on a Scotch

There was a time in the early ages of Greece, when men apparently little
better than beasts of prey, could not meet at entertainments, without
quarrelling about the victuals before them. The memory of this
circumstance is well preserved in the expressions of early writers. In
process of time however, regulations began to be introduced, and
quarrels to be prevented, by the institution of the office of a divider
or distributer of the feast, who should carve the food into equal
portions, and help every individual to his proper share. Hence the terms
[Greek: Aatfrn] or equal feast, which so frequently occur in Homer, and
which were in use in consequence of the division just mentioned, were
made use of to shew, that the feasts, then spoken of by him, were
different from those of former times. When Homer wishes to describe
persons as more civilized than others, he describes them as having this
equal feast. That is, men did not appear at these feasts, like dogs and
wolves, and instantly devour whatever they could come at, and tear each
other to pieces in the end; but they waited till their different
portions of meat had been assigned them, and then ate them in amity and

At the time when we find the custom of one man carving for all his
guests to have been in use, we find also that another had been
introduced among the same people. The Greeks, in the heroic ages,
thought it unlawful to eat, till they had first offered a part of their
provision to the gods. Hence oblations to Vesta, and afterwards to
others, whom their superstition had defied, came into general use, so
that these were always made, before the victuals on the table were
allowed to be tasted by any of the guests.

These two customs, since that time, have come regularly down to the
present day. Every person helps his family and his friends at his own
table. But as Christians can make no sacrifices to heathen deities, we
usually find them substituting thanksgiving for oblation, and giving to
the Creator of the universe instead of an offering of the first fruits
from their tables, an offering of gratitude from their hearts.

This oblation, which is now usually denominated grace, consists of a
form of words, which, being expressive either of praise or thankfulness
to God for the blessings of food, with which he continues to supply
them, is repeated by the master of the family, or by a minister of the
gospel if present, before any one partakes of the victuals, that are set
before him. These forms, however, differ, as used by Christians. They
differ in length, in ideas, in expression. One Christian uses one form,
another uses another. It may however be observed, that the same
Christian generally uses the same form of words, or the same grace, on
the same occasion.

The Quakers, as a religious body, agree in the propriety of grace before
their meals, that is in the propriety of giving thanks to the author of
every good gift for this particular bounty of his providence as to the
articles of their daily subsistence, but they differ as to the manner
and seasonableness of it on such occasions. They think that people who
are in the habit of repeating a determined form of words, may cease to
feel, as they pronounce them, in which case the grace becomes an
oblation from the tongue, but not from the heart. They think also that,
if grace is to be repeated regularly, just as the victuals come, or as
regularly and as often as they come upon the table, it may be repeated
unseasonably, that is unseasonably with the state of the heart of him,
who is to pronounce it; that the heart of man is not to-day as it was
yesterday, nor at this hour what it was at a former, nor on any given
hour alike disposed; and that if this grace is to be said when the heart
is gay, or light, or volatile, it ceases to be a devotional act, and
becomes at least a superflous and unmeaning, if not a censurable form.

The Quakers then to avoid the unprofitableness of such artificial
graces on the one hand, and, on the other, to give an opportunity to the
heart to accord with the tongue, whenever it is used in praise of the
Creator, observe the following custom. When they are all seated at
table, they sit in solemn silence, and in a thoughtful position, for
some time. If the master of the family, during this silence, should feel
any religious impression on his mind, whether of praise or thankfulness
on the occasion, he gives utterance to his feelings. Such praise or
thanksgiving in him is considered as a devotional act, and as the Quaker
grace. But if, after having waited in silence for some time, he feels no
such religious disposition, he utters no religious expression. The
Quakers hold it better to say no grace, than to say that, which is not
accompanied by the devotion of the heart. In this case he resumes his
natural position, breaks the silence by means of natural discourse, and
begins to carve for his family or his friends.

This is the ordinary way of proceeding in Quaker families, when alone,
or in ordinary company. But if a minister happens to be at the table,
the master of the family, conceiving such a man to be more in the habit
of religious impressions than himself, or any ordinary person, looks up
as it were to him, as to a channel, from whence it is possible, that
such religious exercise may come. If the minister, during the solemn,
silent pause, is impressed, he gives utterance as before: if not, he
relieves himself from his grave and thoughtful position, and breaks the
silence of the company by engaging in natural discourse. After this the
company proceed to their meals.

If I were to be asked whether the graces of the Quakers were frequent, I
should reply in the negative. I never heard any delivered, but when a
minister was present. The ordinary grace therefore of private families
consists in a solemn, silent, pause, between the time of sitting down to
the table and the note of carving the victuals, during which an
opportunity is given for the excitement of religious feelings. A person
may dine fifty times at the tables of the Quakers, and see no other
substitution for grace than this temporary silent pause.

Indeed no other grace than this can be consistent with
Quaker-principles. It was coeval with the institution of the society,
and must continue while it lasts. For thanksgiving is an act of
devotion. Now no act, in the opinion of the Quakers, can be devotional
or spiritual, except it originate from above. Men, in religious matters
can do nothing of themselves, or without the divine aid. And they must
therefore wait in silence for this spiritual help, as well in the case
of grace, as in the case of any other kind of devotion, if they mean
their praise or thanksgiving on such occasions to be an act of religion.

There is in the Quaker-grace, and its accompaniments, whenever it is
uttered, an apparent beauty and an apparent solemnity, which are seldom
conspicuous in those of others. How few are there, who repeat the common
artificial graces feelingly, and with minds intent upon the subject!
Grace is usually said as a mere ceremony or custom. The Supreme Being is
just thanked in so many words, while the thoughts are often rambling to
other subjects. The Quaker-grace, on the other hand, whenever it is
uttered; does not come out in any mechanical form of words which men
have used before, but in expressions adapted to the feelings. It comes
forth also warm from the heart. It comes after a solemn, silent, pause,
and it becomes therefore, under all these circumstances, an act of real
solemnity and genuine devotion.

It is astonishing how little even men of acknowledged piety seem to have
their minds fixed upon the ideas contained in the mechanical graces they
repeat. I was one afternoon at a friends house, where there happened to
be a clergyman of the Scottish church. He was a man deservedly esteemed
for his piety. The company was large. Politics had been discussed some
time, when the tea-things were introduced. While the bread and butter
were bringing in, the clergyman, who had taken an active part in the
discussion, put a question to a gentleman, who was sitting in a corner
of the room. The gentleman began to reply, and was proceeding in his
answer, when of a sudden I heard a solemn voice. Being surprised, I
looked round, and found it was the clergyman, who had suddenly started
up, and was saying grace. The solemnity, with which he spoke, occasioned
his voice to differ so much from its ordinary tone, that I did not, till
I had looked about me, discover who the speaker was. I think he might be
engaged from three or four minutes in the delivery of this grace. I
could not help thinking, during the delivery of it, that I never knew
any person say grace like this man. Nor was I ever so much moved with
any grace, or thought I ever saw so dearly the propriety of saying
grace, as on this occasion. But when I found that on the very instant
the grace was over politics were resumed; when I found that, no sooner
had the last word in the grace been pronounced, than the next, which
came from the clergyman himself, began by desiring the gentleman before
mentioned to go on with his reply to his own political question, I was
so struck with the inconsistency of the thing, that the beauty and
solemnity of his grace all vanished. This sudden transition from
politics to grace, and from grace to politics, afforded a proof that
artificial sentences might be so frequently repeated, as to fail to
re-excite their first impressions, or that certain expressions, which
might have constituted devotional acts under devotional feeling, might
relapse into heartless forms.

I should not wish, by the relation of this anecdote, to be understood as
reflecting in the slightest manner on the practice of the Scottish
church. I know well the general sobriety, diligence, piety and religious
example of its ministers. I mentioned it merely to shew, that even where
the religious character of a person was high, his mind, by the frequent
repetition of the same forms of expression on the same occasions, might
frequently lose sight of the meaning and force of the words as they were
uttered, so that he might pronounce them without that spiritual feeling,
which can alone constitute a religious exercise.


_Customs at and after meals--Quakers never drink healths at dinner--nor
toasts after dinner--the drinking of toasts a heathen custom--interrupts
often the innocence--and leads to the intoxication of the company--anecdote
of Judge Hale--Quakers sometimes in embarrassing situations on account of
this omission--Quaker-women seldom retire after dinner, and leave the men
drinking--Quakers a sober people._

The Quakers though they are occasionally found in the custom of saying
grace, do not, as I have stated, either use it as regularly, or in the
same manner as other christians.

Neither do they at their meals, or after their meals, use the same
ceremonies as others. They have exploded the unmeaning and troublesome
custom of drinking healths at their dinners.

This custom the Quakers have rejected upon the principle, that it has no
connection with true civility. They consider it as officious,
troublesome, and even embarrassing, on some occasions. To drink to a
man, when he is lifting his victuals to his mouth, and by calling off
his attention, to make him drop them, or to interrupt two people, who
are eating and talking together, and to break the thread of their
discourse, seems to be an action, as rude in its principle, as
disagreeable in its effects, nor is the custom often less troublesome to
the person drinking the health, than to the person whose health is
drank. If a man finds two people engaged in conversation he must wait
till he catches their eyes, before he can drink himself. A man may also
often be put into a delicate and difficult situation, to know whom to
drink to first, and whom second, and may be troubled, lest, by drinking
improperly to one before another, he may either be reputed awkward, or
may become the occasion of offence. They consider also the custom of
drinking healths at dinner as unnecessary, and as tending to no useful
end. It must be obvious that a man may wish another his health, full as
much without drinking it, as by drinking it with his glass in his hand.
And it must be equally obvious that wishes, expressed in this manner,
can have no medicinal effect.

With respect to the custom of drinking healths at dinner, I may observe
that the innovation, which the Quakers seem to have been the first to
have made upon the practice of it, has been adopted by many, not out of
compliance with their example, but on account of the trouble and
inconveniences attending it; that the custom is not now so general as it
was; that in the higher and more fashionable circles it has nearly been
exploded; and that, among some of the other classes of society, it is
gradually declining.

With respect to the custom of drinking toasts after dinner, the Quakers
have rejected it for various reasons.

They have rejected it first, because, however desirable it may be that
Christians should follow the best customs of the heathens, it would be a
reproach to them to follow the worst. Or, in other words, it would be
improper for men, whose religion required spirituality of thought and
feeling, to imitate the heathens in the manner of their enjoyment of
sensual pleasures. The laws and customs of drinking, the Quakers
observe, are all of heathen origin. The similitude between these and
those of modern tunes is too remarkable to be overlooked; and too
striking not to warrant them in concluding, that christens have taken
their model on this subject from Pagan practice.

In every Grecian family, where company was invited, the master of it was
considered to be the king or president of the feast, in his own house.
He was usually denominated the eye of the company. It was one of his
offices to look about and to see that his guests drank their proper
portions of the wine. It was another to keep peace and harmony among
them. For these purposes his word was law. At entertainments at the
public expence the same office existed, but the person, then appointed
to it, was nominated either by lot, or by the votes of the persons
present.--This custom obtains among the moderns. The master of every
family at the present day presides at his own table for the same
purposes. And at great and public dinners at taverns, a similar officer
is appointed, who is generally chosen by the committee, who first meet
for the proposal of the feast.

One of the first toasts, that were usually drank among the ancient
Greeks, was to the "gods." This entirely corresponds with the modern
idea of church; and if the government had been only coupled with the
gods in these ancient times, it would have precisely answered to the
modern toast of church and state.

It was also usual at the entertainments, given by Grecian families, to
drink the prosperity of those persons, for whom they entertained a
friendship, but who happened to be absent. No toast can better coincide
than this, with that, which is so frequently given, of our absent

It was also a Grecian practice for each of the guests to name his
particular friend, and sometimes also his particular mistress. The
moderns have also a parallel for this. Every person gives (to use the
common phrase) his gentleman, and his lady, in his turn.

It is well known to have been the usage of the ancient Greeks, at their
entertainments, either to fill or to have had their cups filled for them
to the brim. The moderns do precisely the same thing. Glasses so
filled, have the particular name of bumpers: and however vigilantly an
ancient Greek might have looked after his guests, and made them drink
their glasses filled in this manner, the presidents of modern times are
equally vigilant in enforcing adherence to the same custom.

It was an ancient practice also with the same people to drink three
glasses when the graces, and nine when the muses were named: and three
and three times three were drank on particular occasions. This barbarous
practice has fortunately not come down to the moderns to its full
extent, but they have retained the remembrance of it, and celebrated it
in part, by following up their toasts, on any extraordinary occasion,
not with three or nine glasses of wine, but with three or nine cheers.

Among the ancients beforementioned, if any of the persons present were
found deficient in drinking their proper portions, they were ordered by
the president either to drink them or to leave the room. This usage has
been a little altered by the moderns. They do not order those persons to
leave the company, who do not comply with the same rules of drinking as
the rest, but they subject them to be fined, as it is termed, that is,
they oblige them to drink double portions for their deficiency, or
punish them in some other manner.

From hence it will be obvious that the laws of drinking are of heathen
origin; that is, the custom of drinking toasts originated, as the
Quakers contend, with men of heathen minds and affections for a sensual
purpose; and it is therefore a custom, they believe; which men of
christian minds and affections should never follow.

The Quakers have rejected the custom again, because they consider it to
be inconsistent with their christian character in other respects. They
consider it as morally injurious; for toasts frequently excite and
promote indelicate ideas, and thus sometimes interrupt the innocence of

They consider it as morally injurious again, because the drinking of
toasts has a direct tendency to promote drunkenness.

They, who have been much in company, must have had repeated
opportunities of witnessing, that this idea of the Quakers is founded in
truth, men are undoubtedly stimulated to drink more than they like, and
to become intoxicated in consequence of the use of toasts. If a man has
no objection to drink toasts at all, he must drink that which the master
of the house proposes, and it is usual in this case to fill a bumper.
Respect to his host is considered as demanding this. Thus one full glass
is secured to him at the outset. He must also drink a bumper to the
king, another to church and state, and another to the army and navy. He
would, in many companies, be thought hostile to government, if, in the
habit of drinking toasts, he were to refuse to drink these, or to honour
these in the same manner. Thus three additional glasses are entailed
upon him. He must also drink a bumper to his own toast. He would be
thought to dishonour the person, whose health he had given, if he were
to fail in this. Thus a fifth glass is added to his share. He must fill
a little besides to every other toast, or he is considered as deficient
in respect to the person, who has proposed it. Thus many additional
glasses are forced upon him. By this time the wine begins to act, when
new toasts, of a new nature assail his ear, and he is stimulated to new
potions. There are many toasts of so patriotic, and others of so
generous and convivial a nature that a man is looked upon as
disaffected, or as devoid of sentiment, who refuses them. Add to this,
that there is a sort of shame, which the young and generous in
particular feel in being outdone, and in not keeping pace with the rest,
on such occasions. Thus toast being urged after toast, and shame acting
upon shame, a variety of causes conspires at the same moment to drive
him on, till the liquor at length overcomes him and he falls eventually
a victim to its power.

It will be manifest from this account that the laws of drinking, by
which the necessity of drinking a certain number of toasts is enjoined,
by which bumpers are attached to certain classes of toasts, by which a
stigma is affixed to a non-compliance with the terms, by which in fact a
regular system of etiquette is established, cannot but lead, except a
man is uncommonly resolute or particularly on his guard, to
intoxication. We see indeed instances of men drinking glass after glass,
because stimulated in this manner, even against their own inclination,
nay even against the determination they had made before they went into
company, till they have made themselves quite drunk. But had there been
no laws of drinking, or no toasts, we cannot see any reason why the same
persons should not have returned sober to their respective homes.

It is recorded of the great Sir Matthew Hale, who is deservedly placed
among the great men of our country, that in his early youth he had been
in company, where the party had drunk to such excess, that one of them
fell down apparently dead. Quitting the room, he implored forgiveness of
the Almighty for this excessive intemperance in himself and his
companions, and made a vow, that he would never drink another health
while he lived. This vow he kept to his dying day. It is hardly
necessary for me to remark that he would never have come to such a
resolution, if he had not believed, either that the drinking of toasts
had produced the excesses of that day, or that the custom led so
naturally to intoxication, that it became his duty to suppress it.

The Quakers having rejected the use of toasts upon the principles
assigned, are sometimes placed in a difficult situation, in which there
is an occasion for the trial of their courage, in consequence of mixing
with others, by whom the custom is still followed.

In companies, to which they are invited in regular families, they are
seldom put to any disagreeable dilemma in this respect. The master of
the house, if in the habit of giving toasts, generally knowing the
custom of the Quakers in this instance, passes over any Quaker who may
be present, and calls upon his next neighbour for a toast. Good breeding
and hospitality demand that such indulgence and exception should be

There are situations, however, in which their courage is often tried.
One of the worst in which a a Quaker can be placed, and in which he is
frequently placed, is that of being at a common room in an inn, where a
number of other travellers dine and sup together. In such companies
things are seldom conducted so much to his satisfaction in this respect,
as in those described. In general as the bottle passes, some jocose hint
is conveyed to him about the toast; and though this is perhaps done with
good humour, his feelings are wounded by it. At other times when the
company are of a less liberal complexion, there is a determination, soon
understood among one another, to hunt him down, as if he were fair game.
A toast is pressed upon him, though all know that it is not his custom
to drink it. On refusing, they begin to teaze him. One jokes with him.
Another banters him. Toasts both illiberal and indelicate, are at length
introduced; and he has no alternative but that of bearing the banter, or
quitting the room. I have seen a Quaker in such a company (and at such a
distance from home, that the transaction in all probability never could
have been known, had he, in order to free himself from their attacks,
conformed to their custom) bearing all their raillery with astonishing
firmness, and courageously struggling against the stream. It is
certainly an awkward thing for a solitary Quaker to fall in such
companies, and it requires considerable courage to preserve singularity
in the midst of the prejudices of ignorant and illiberal men.

This custom, however, of drinking toasts after dinner, is, like the
former of drinking healths at dinner, happily declining. It is much to
the credit of those, who move in the higher circles, that they have
generally exploded both. It may be probably owing to this circumstance,
that though we find persons of this description labouring under the
imputation of levity and dissipation, we yet find them respectable for
the sobriety of their lives. Drunkenness indeed forms no part of their
character, nor, generally speaking, is it a vice of the present age as
it has been of former ages; and there seems to be little doubt, that in
proportion as the custom of drinking healths and toasts, but more
particularly the latter, is suppressed, this vice will become less a
trait in the national character.

There are one or two customs of the Quakers, which I shall notice before
I conclude this chapter.

It is one of the fashions of the world, where people meet in company,
for men and women, when the dinner is over, to drink their wine
together, and for the women, having done this for a short time, to
retire. This custom of the females withdrawing after dinner was probably
first insisted upon from an idea, that their presence would be a
restraint upon the circulation of the bottle, as well as upon the
conversation of the men. The Quakers, however, seldom submit to this
practice. Men and women generally sit together and converse as before
dinner. I do not mean by this that women may not retire if they please,
because there is no restraint upon any one in the company of the
Quakers; nor do I mean to say, that women do not occasionally retire,
and leave the men at their wine. There are a few rich families, which,
having mixed more than usual with the world, allow of this separation.
But where one allows it, there are ninety-nine, who give wine to their
company after dinner, who do not. It is not a Quaker-custom, that in a
given time after dinner, the one should be separated from the other sex.

It is a pity that the practice of the Quakers should not have been
adopted by others of our own country in this particular. Many advantages
would result to those, who were to follow the example. For if women were
allowed to remain, chastity of expression and decorum of behaviour would
be more likely to be insured. There presence also would operate as a
check upon drunkenness. Nor can there be a doubt, that women would
enliven and give a variety to conversation; and, as they have had a
different education from men, that an opportunity of mutual improvement
might be afforded by the continuance of the two in the society of one

It is also usual with the world in such companies, that the men, when
the females have retired, should continue drinking till tea-time. This
custom is unknown to the Quakers, even to those few Quakers, who allow
of a separation of the sexes. It is not unusual with them to propose a
walk before tea, if the weather permit. But even in the case where they
remain at the table, their time is spent rather in conversing than in
drinking. They have no toasts, as I have observed, which should induce
them to put the bottle round in a given time, or which should oblige
them to take a certain number of glasses. The bottle, however, is
usually put round, and each helps himself as he pleases. At length one
of the guests, having had sufficient, declines filling his glass.
Another, in a little time, declines also for the same cause. A third,
after having taken what he thinks sufficient, follows the example. The
wine is soon afterwards taken away, and this mostly long before the hour
of drinking tea. Neither drunkenness, nor any situation approaching to
drunkenness, is known in the Quaker companies. Excess in drinking is
strictly forbidden by the laws of the society. It is a subject of one of
their queries. It is of course a subject that is often brought to their
recollection. Whatever may be the faults of the Quakers, they must be
acknowledged to be a SOBER PEOPLE.


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