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my pen treat of you lightly—as haply it will wander--yet my spirit hath gravely felt the wisdom of your custom, when sitting among you in deepest peace, which some outwelling tears would rather confirm than disturb, I have reverted to the times of your beginnings, and the sowings of the seed by Fox and Dewsbury. I have witnessed that which brought before my eyes your heroic tranquillity, inflexible to the rude jests and serious violences of the insolent soldiery, republican or royalist, sent to molest you—for ye sat between the fires of two persecutions, the outcast and offscouring
of church and presbytery. I have seen the reeling sea ruffian, who had wandered into your receptacle, with the avowed intention of disturbing your quiet, from the very spirit of the place receive in a moment a new heart, and presently sit among ye as a lamb amid lambs. And I remember Penn before his accusers, and Fox in the bail dock, where he was lifted up in spirit, as he tells us, and “the judge and the jury became as dead men under his feet."
Reader, if you are not acquainted with it, I would recommend to you, above all church narratives, to read Sewell's History of the Quakers. It is in folio, and is the abstract of the journals of Fox and the primitive Friends. It is far more edifying and affecting than anything you will read of Wesley and his colleagues. Here is nothing to stagger you, nothing to make you mistrust, no suspicion of alloy, no drop or dreg of the worldly or ambitious spirit. You will here read the true story of that much-injured, ridiculed man, (who, perhaps, hath been a byword in your mouth,) James Naylor : what dreadful sufferings with what patience he endured, even to the boring through of his tongue with red-hot irons without a murmur ; and with what strength of mind, when the delusion he had fallen into, which they stiginatized for blasphemy, had given way to clearer thoughts, he could renounce his error, in a strain of the beautifullest humility, yet keep his first grounds, and be a Quaker still !--so different from the practice of your common converts from enthusiasm, who, when they apostatize, apostatize all, and think they can never get far enough from the society of their former errors, even to the renunciation of some saving truths, with which they had been min gled, not implicated.
Get the writings of John Woolman by heart; and love the early Quakers.
How far the followers of these good men in our days have kept to the primitive spirit, or in what proportion they have substituted formality for it, the Judge of spirits can alone determine. I have seen faces in their assemblies, upon which the dove sat visibly brooding Others again I have watched, when my thoughts should have been better engaged, in which I could possibly detect nothing but a blank inanity. But quiet was in all, and the disposition to unanimity, and the absence of the fierce controversial workings. If the spiritual pretensions of the Quakers have abated, at least they make few pretences. Hypocrites they certainly are not in their preaching. It is seldom indeed that you shall see one get up among them to hold forth. Only now and then a trembling female, generally ancient, voice is heard—you cannot guess from what part of the meeting it proceeds—with a low, buzzing, musical sound, laying out a few words which “she thought might suit the condition of some present,” with a quaking diffidence, which leaves no possibility of supposing that anything of female vanity was mixed up, where the tones were so full of tenderness and a restraining modesty. The men, for what I have observed, speak seldomer.
Once only, and it was some years ago, I witnessed a sample of the old Foxian orgasm. It was a man of giant stature, who, as Wordsworth phrases it, might have danced, “ from head to foot equipped in iron mail.” His frame was of iron too. But he was malleable. I saw him shake all over with the spirit-I dare not say, of delusion. The strivings of the outer man were unutterable—he seemed not to speak, but to be spoken from. I saw the strong man bowed down, and his knees to fail—his joints all seemed loosening-it was a figure to off set against Paul preaching—the words he uttered were few, and sound--he was evidently resisting his willkeeping down his own word wisdom with more mighty effort than the world's orators strain for theirs. • He had been a wit in his youth,” he told us, with expressions of a sober remorse. And it was not till long after the impression had begun to wear away, that I was enabled, with something like a smile, to recall the striking incongruity of the confessionunderstanding the term in its worldly acceptation-with the frame and physiognomy of the person before me.
His brow would have scared away the levities--the Jocos Risus-que --faster than the Loves fled the face of Dis at Enna. By wit, even in his youth, I will be sworn he understood some thing far within the limits of an allowable liberty.
More frequently the meeting is broken up without a word having been spoken. But the mind has been fed. You go away with a sermon not made with hands. You have been in the milder caverns of Trophonius; or as in some den, where that fiercest and savagest of all wild creatures, the TONGUE, that unruly member, has strangely lain tied up and captive. You have batbed with stillness. Oh when the spirit is sore fretted, even tired to sickness of the janglings and nonsense noises of the world, what a balm and a solace it is to go and seat yourself, for a quiet half hour, upon some undisputed corner of a bench, among the gentle Quakers !
Their garb and stillness conjoined, present an uniformity, tranquil and herdlike-as in the pasture—“ forty feeding like one."
The very garments of a Quaker seem incapable of receiving a soil; and cleanliness in them to be something more than the absence of its contrary. Every Quakeress is a lily; and when they come up in bands to their Whitsun conferences, whitening the easterly streets of the metropolis, from all parts of the United Kingdom, they show like troops of the shining
THE OLD AND THE NEW SCHOOLMASTER.
My reading has been lamentably desultory and immethodical. Odd, out of the way, old English plays and treatises, have supplied me with most of my notions and ways of feeling. In everything that relates to science, I am a whole encyclopædia behind the rest of the world. I should have scarcely cut a figure among the Franklins, or country gentlemen in King John's days. I know less geography than a schoolboy of six weeks' standing. To me a map of old Ortelius is as authentic as Arrowsmith. I do not know whereabout Africa merges into Asia; whether Ethiopia lie in one or other of those great divisions ; nor can form the remotest conjecture of the position of New South Wales, or Van Diemen's Land. Yet do I hold a correspondence with a very dear friend in the first named of these two terræ incognitæ. I have no astronomy. I do not know where to look for the Bear, or Charles's Wain ; the place of any star; or the name of any of them at sight. I guess at Venus only by her brightness; and if the sun on some portentous morn were to make his first appearance in the west, I verily believe, that while all the world were gasping in apprehension about me,
I alone should stand unterrified, from sheer incuriosity and want of observation. Of history and chronology I poss ss some vague points, such as one cannot help picking up in the course of miscellaneous study ; but I never deliberately sat down to a
chronicle, even of my own country. I have most dim appre hensions of the four great monarchies; and sometimes the Assyrian, sometimes the Persian, floats as first in my far cy. I make the widest conjectures concerning Egypt, and her shepherd kings. My friend M., with great painstaking, got me to think I understood the first proposition in Euclid, but gave me over in despair at the second. I am entirely unacquainted with the modern languages ; and, like a better man than myself, have “small Latin and less Greek.” I am a stranger to the shapes and texture of the commonest trees, herbs, flowers—not from the circumstance of my being town born ; for I should have brought the same unobservant spirit into the world with me had I first seen it “on Devon's lealy shores,” and am no less at a loss among purely town objects, tools, engines, mechanical processes. Not that I affect ignorance; but my head has not many mansions, nor spacious ; and I have been obliged to fill it with such cabinet curiosities as it can hold without aching. I sometimes wonder how I have passed my probation with so little discredit in the world, as I have done, upon so meager a stock. But the fact is, a man may
well with a very little knowledge, and scarce be found out, in mixed company ; everybody is so much more ready to produce his own, than to call for a display of your acquisitions. But in a tête-à-tête there is no shufiling. The truth will out. There is nothing which I dread so much as the being left alone for a quarter of an hour with a sensible, well-informed man, who does not know me. I lately got into a dilemma of this sort.
In one of my daily jaunts between Bishopsgate and Shacklewell, the coach stopped to take up a staid-looking gentleman, about the wrong side of thirty, who was giving his parting directions, (while the steps were adjusting,) in a tone of mild authority, to a tall youth, who seemed to be neither his clerk, his son, nor his servant, but something partaking of all three. The youth was dismissed, and we drove on. were the sole passengers, he naturally enough addressed his conversation to me, and we discussed the merits of the fare, the civility and punctuality of the driver ; the circumstance of an opposition coach having been lately set up, with the probabilities of its success—to all which I was enabled to return pretty satisfactory answers, having been drilled into this kind of etiquette by some years' daily practice of riding to and fro in the stage aforesaid, when he suddenly alarmed me by a startling question, whether I had seen the show of prize cattle that morning in Smithfield. Now as I had not seen it, and do not greatly care for such sort of exhibitions, I was
obliged to return a cold negative. He seen.ed a little mortified, as well as astonished, at my declaration, as it appeared) he was just come fresh from the sight, and doubtless had hoped to compare notes on the subject. However, he assured me that I had lost a fine treat, as it far exceeded the show of last year. We were now approaching Norton Falgate, when the sight of some shop goods ticketed freshened him up into a dissertation upon the cheapness of cottons this spring. I was now a little in heart, as the nature of my morning avocations had brought me into some sort of familiarity with the raw material; and I was surprised to find how eloquent I was becoming on the state of the India market, when, presently, he dashed my incipient vanity to the earth at once, by inquiring whether I had ever made any calculation as to the value of the rental of all the retail shops in London. Had he asked of me what song the Sirens sang, or what name Achilles assumed when he hid himself among women, I might, with Sir Thomas Browne, have hazarded a 66 wide solution." My companion saw my embarrassment, and the almshouses beyond Shoreditch just coming in view, with great good nature and dexterity shifted his conversation to the subject of public charities ; which led to the comparative merits of provision for the poor in past and present times, with observations on the old monastic institutions and charitable orders—but finding me rather dimly impressed with some glimmering notions from old poetic associations, than strongly fortified with any speculations reducible to calculation on the subject, he gave the matter up; and the country beginning to open more and more upon us as we approached the turnpike at Kingsland, (the destined termination of his journey,) he put a home thrust upon me, in the most unfortunate position he could have chosen, by advancing some queries relative to the North Pole Expedition. While I was muttering out something about the panorama of those strange regions, (which I had actually seen, by way of parrying the question, the coach stopping relieved me from any further apprehensions. My companion getting out, left me in the comfortable possession of my ignorance ; and I heard him, as he went off, putting questions to an outside passenger, who had alighted with him, regarding an epidemic disorder, that had been rise about Dalston ; and which, my friend assured him, had gone through five or six schools in that neighbourhood. The truth now flashed upon me, that my companion was a schoolmaster; and that the youth, whom he had parted from at our first acquaintance, must have been
* Urn Burial.