« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
Occupations of the Quakers—Agriculture declining
among them-probable reasons of this decline Country congenial to the quietude of mind required by their religion-Sentiments of Cowper~--' congenial also to the improvement of their moral feelings—Sentiments of William Penn-particularly suited to them, as lovers of the animal. creation.
The Quakers generally bring up their children to some employment. They believe that these, by having an occupation, may avoid evils, into which they might otherwise fall, if they had upon their hands an undue proportion of vacant time. “ Friends of all degrees,” says the Book of Extracts, “are advised to take due care to breed
their children in some useful and necessary employment, that they may not spend their precious time in idleness, which is of evil example, and tends much to their hurt."
The Quakers have been described to be a domestic people, and as peculiarly cherishing domestic happiness. Upon this princi
ple it is, combined with the ties of their dis. cipline and peculiar customs, that we scarcely find
any of this Society quitting their country, except for America, to reside as solitary merchants or factors in foreign parts. If it be a charge against the members of this Society, that they are eager in the pursuit of wealth, let it at least be mentioned in their favour, that, in their accumulation of it, they have been careful not to suffer their knowledge to take advantage of the ignorance of others, and that they have kept their hands clear of the oppression and of the blood of their fellow-creatures.
In looking among the occupations of those in the Society, we shall find some, who are brought up as manufacturers and mechanics, But the number of these is small.
Others, but these are very few, follow the sea.
may be here and there a mate or captain in the coasting employ. In America, where they have great local and other advantages, there may be more in the sea-faring line. But, in general, the Quakers are domestic characters, and prefer a residence at home. There are but few, also, who follow the
professions. Their education and their religion exclude them from some of these Some, however, are to be found in the department of medicine; and others, as conveyancers, in the law.
Several of them follow agriculture. But these are few, compared with the rest of the Society, or compared with the number of those, who formerly followed a rural life. Almost all the members of this Society were originally in the country, and but few of them in the towns: but this order of things is reversing fast. They are flocking into the towns, and abandoning agricultural pursuits.
The reasons that may be given for this change may be the following. It is not at all unlikely, that tithes may have had some influence in producing it. I am aware, however, it will be said, that a Quaker, living in the country, and strongly principled against these, would think it a dereliction of his duty to leave it on this account, and would remain upon the principle, that an abode there, under the annual exercise of his testimony, would, in a religious point of view, add strength to his strength. But
it must be observed on the other hand, that where men are not obliged to remain under grievous evils, and can get rid of them merely by changing their occupation in life, and this honourably, it is in human nature to do it. And so far tithes, I believe, have had an influence in driving them into the
Of later years, as the Society has grown thinner in the country, I believe new reasons have sprung up. For they have had less opportunity of society with one another. They have been subjected also to greater inconvenience in attending their religious meetings. Their children,
, also, have been more exposed to improper connections in marriage. To which it may be added, that the large and rapid profits, frequently made in trade, compared with the generally small and slow returns from agricultural concerns, may probably have operated with many, as an inducement to such a change.
But whatever reasons may have induced them to quit the country, and settle in towns, no temporal advantages can make up to them, as a Society, the measure of their loss. For, when we consider that the Quakers never partake of the amusements of the world ; that their worldly pleasures are principally of a domestic nature; that calmness, and quietude, and abstraction from worldly thoughts, to which rural retirement is peculiarly favourable, is the state of mind, which they themselves acknowledge to be required by their religion, it would seem that the country was peculiarly the place for their habitations.
It would seem also, as if by his forsaking of the country they had deprived themselves of many opportunities of the highest enjoyment, of which they are capable as Quakers. The objects in the country are peculiarly favourable to the improvement of morality in the exercise of the spiritual feelings. The bud and the blossom, the rising and the falling leaf, the blade of corn and the ear, the seed-time and the harvest, the sun that warms and ripens, the cloud that cools, and emits the fruitful shower;---these, and many other objects, afford daily food for the religious growth of the mind. Even the natural man is pleased with these. They excite in him natural ideas, and produce in him a natural kind of