Thomas Clarkson.

A portraiture of Quakerism. Taken from a view of the education and discipline, social manners, civil and political economy, religious principles and character, of the Society of Friends (Volume 1) online

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Online LibraryThomas ClarksonA portraiture of Quakerism. Taken from a view of the education and discipline, social manners, civil and political economy, religious principles and character, of the Society of Friends (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 20)
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Introduction, page ill

Prefatory Arrangements and Remarks, p. . xxvii



Amusements distinguishable into useful and hurtful — the latter
specif ed and forbidden, p 35


Sect. i. — Games of chance forbidden — history of the origin
of some of these, 39

Sect. ii. — Forbidden as beloxv the dignity of the intellect of
man, and of his christian character, p 44

Sect, m.-— As producing an excitement of the passions, un-
favourable to religious impressions — historical anecdotes of
this excitement, p 4 7

Sect. iv. — As tending to produce, by the introduction of ha-
bits of gaming, an alteration in the moral character, p. 55


Sect. i. — Music forbidden — instrumental innocent in itself
but greatly abused — the use of it almost inseparable from
its abuse at the present day, p 59

Sect. ii. — Quakers cannot learn instrumental on the usual
motives of the "world — nor consider it as a source of moral

dt X J ?j f h


improvemrrt. or of solid comfort to the mind — but are fear*
fulthat, ij indulgediris it would- interfere with the Christian
duty of religious retirement, p 64

Sect. Hi. — ^Quakers canrot learn vocal, because, on account
of its u. ti< motive powers, it is capable of becoming oeiri-
tnental to man /■-> — its tendency to this, as ai coverable by an
analysis t of different 'vhssis of songs, p* .... C9

S£cT. iv — The preceding the arguments of the early Qua-
ker::-— but the r.exv state of music has produced other- —
these explained, p 75

Sect. v. — An objection stated to the different arguments of the
Quakers on this subject — their reply, p 79


Sect. i. — The Theatre forbidden — hori history of its origin
— and of its state and progre ?, £ 83

Sect. ii. — Manner of the. drama, chjectedto by the Quakers —
as it personates the characters of others — and as it professes
to reform vice, p 89

Sf.ct. hi. — Contents of the drama objected to — as they hold
out fake sentiments — and xveaken the sinews cf moral*
ity, p &2

Sect. iv. — Theatre considered by the "Quakers to be injurious
to the happiness of man, as it a s him for the plea-
sures of religion, p 97

Sect. v. — To be injurious to the happiness of ruin, as it dis-
qualifies him for domestic enjoyments, p. ... 101

Sect. vi. — Opinions of the early Christians on this sub-
ject,p 106


Sect, i Dancing forbidden — light in which this subject has

been viewed both by the ancients and the moderns — fakers
principally object to it, where it is connected with public as-
semblie- — they conceive it productive, in this case, of a fri-
volous levity, and of an excitement of many of the evil pas-
■titans, p. . * 1Ji


Sect. ii. — These arguments of the ^takers, on dancing, ex-
amined in three supposed cases put to a moral philoso-
pher, p 1 1 6

Sect. hi. — These arguments farther elucidated by a display
of the JBull-rooom, p 122


Novels forbidden — considered by the Quakers as producing art
affectation of knozvkdge — a romantic spirit — and a pervert-
ed morality, p. 129


Sect. i. — Diversions of the field forbidden — general thought-
lessness upon tiiis subject — sentiments of some of our best
poets — law of the Quakers concerning it, p. . . 137

Sect. ii. — Consistency of this law exam hied by the moralitu,
which is inculcated by the Old Testament, p, . . 143

Sect. hi. — Examined by the morality of the New — these em-
ployments, if resorted to as diversion?., pronounced, in both
cases, to be a breach of a moral law, p 149


Objections to the preceding system, xvhich includes these differ-
ent prohibitions, as a system of moral education, p. . 154


Sect. i. — Reply of the Quakers to these objections, p. 161

Sect. ii. — Farther reply of the Qita&ers on the same sub-
ject^ 167



Sect. i. — Outlines of the discipline of the Quakers, p. 175
Sf.ct. ii. — Manner of the administration of this discipline, 184


Sect. hi. — Charges usually brought against the administra-
tion of it — observations in answer to these charges, p. 190

Sect. iv. — The principles of this discipline applicable to the
discipline of larger societies, or to the criminal codes of
states — beautif id example in Pennsylvania, p. . - 195


Monthly court or meeting of the Quakers for the purposes of
their discipline — nature and manner of the business trans-
acted there, p „205


Quarterly court or meeting for the same purposes-filature
and manner of the business there, p 21 &


Annual court or meeting for tlie same purposes — nature and
manner of the business there —striking peculiarities in this
manner— character of this discipline or government, p. 221


Excommunication or disowning — nature of disowning as a
punishment, p 236



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, p 241

Sect. n. — Quakers carried ivith them their plain dresses into
their neiv 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 pre-
sent dress is only a less deviation from that of their ances-
tors, than that of other people, p. . . . 249


Sect, hi.— Objections of the world to the Qiutker-dresi
these examined — a comparison between the language of
Quakerism and of Christianity on this subject — opinion of
the early Christians upon it, p. . . . 257"


Furniture — the Qiiakers use plain furniture — reasons for
their singularities in this respect, p. . . 268


Sect. i. — Language — Qiiakers have altered the connnon lan-
guage — sub.Aitution of Thou for Tou — reasons for this
change — opinions of many learned men concerning it, 273

Sect. ii. — Various other alterations made — as in titles of ad-
dress — and of honour — reasons for these changes, p. 285

Sect. hi. — Another alteration — as in the names of the days
and the month.. — reasons fir this change — various neiv
phrases also introduced, p. .... 291

Sect. iv. — Objections by the world against the alteration of
Thou fur Tou, p. . . . ... 296

Sect. v. — Against that of titles of address and honour, 300

Sect. vi. — Against that of the names of the days and
months, p. . . . . . . . 309

Sect. vii. — Advantages and disadvantages of these alterations
by the Quaker language, p. . . . . 314


Address — common personal gestures or worldly ceremonies of
address forbidden — no exception in favour cf royalty —
reasons against the disuse of these, p. . . 320


■Manners and conversation — hospitality and freedom in Qua-
kers' 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 Quakers, p. 328



Customs before meah — ancients made an oblation to Vesta—
moderns have substituted grace — account of a Quaker-
grace, p* ....... 342


Customs' at and after meals — Qtiakers 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, p> . - 350





Jf ROM 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 plac-
ed 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 obtained.

As soon as I became possessed of this knowledge,
or at least of so much of it, as to feel that it was con-
siderable, 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 af-
fording 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 de-
sire, amidst these considerations, to do them justice ;
for ignorance and prejudice had invented many ex-
pressions 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 fo-
reigners 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 differ-
ences are great and striking. And I thought therefore
that those, who were curious in the developcment of
character, might be gratified in knowing the princi-
ples, 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 sub
ject of the slave-trade, and indisposition of body after-
wards, in consequence of the great mental exertions
necessary in such a cause, prevented me from attempt-
ing 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 under-
taking. Time, however, continued to steal on, till
at length I began to be apprehensive, but more parti-
cularly within the last two years, that, if I were to de-
lay 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 ac-
count 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 princi-
ples, 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 writ-
ings, 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(c)
publications. It seemed, therefore, from the circum-
stance 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 opin-
ion, 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 societv, into such habits of friend-
ship with the Quakers, as that he should obtain an
equal degree of knowledge concerning them with my-
self. By this new consideration I was more than or-
dinarily stimulated, and I began my work.

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

• (a) 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-.


undue influence, which their attention towards me
may have produced, or that I shall be utterly unbias-
sed, 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 con-
ceal, 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 devia-
tion 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 (b)
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

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

(b) 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.


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 Protes-
tant 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 far 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 informataion on that


It does not appear, however, that George Fox, for
the first three years from the time, when he conceiv-
ed 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 im-
pressions, and to have endeavoured to find out as ma-
ny serious people as he could, with a view of convers-
ing with them on the subject of religion.

In 1647 he extended his travels to Derbyshire, and
from thence into Lancashire, but returned to his na-
tive country. He met with many friendly people in
the course of this journey, and had many serious
conversations with them, but he never joined in pro-
fession 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 doc-
trine 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 ex-
traordinary young man, many, both priests and peo-
ple, came far and near to see him.

In 1648 he confined his movements to a few coun-
ties. 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 profes-
sors 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 conten-
tion, and so parted. In Leicestershire he attended
another meeting, consisting of Church people, Pres-
byterians, Independents, and Baptists, where he spoke
publicly again. This meeting was held in a church.
The persons present discoursed and reasoned. Ques-
tions 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 peo-
ple their pews, and the meeting separated. George
Fox, however, went afterwards to an Inn, where he

VOL. 1. B


argued with priests and professors of all sorts. De-
parting from thence, he took up his abode for some
time in the vale of Beevor, where he preached Re-
pentance, 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 re-
ceived, according to his own account, his commis-
sion from divine authority, by means cf 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 hund-
reds 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 life.

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 religi-
ous 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 address-
ed both the clergyman and the people, but they car-
ried him before the mayor, who detained him till late
at night, at which unseasonable time the officers and
watchmen put him out of the town.

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 con-
duct in having interrupted the service of the church
at Nottingham, which I have stated to have been the
iirst occasion of his imprisonment. For if he believ-
ed 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 peo-
ple. But he never repeated this, but he always after-
wards, 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 Der-
by 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 mere, 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- dav, a woe against that citv. 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

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Online LibraryThomas ClarksonA portraiture of Quakerism. Taken from a view of the education and discipline, social manners, civil and political economy, religious principles and character, of the Society of Friends (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 20)