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they stigmatized for blasphemy, had given way to clearer thoughts, he could renounce his error in a strain of the beautifulest 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 mingled, 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 pretenses. 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 can not 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 any thing 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.
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 lave bathed 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 a uniformity, tranquil and herdlike, as in the pasture, — “forty feeding like one.”
The very garments of the 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 Ones.
THE TWO RACES OF MEN. The human species, according to the best theory I can form of it, is composed of two distinct races, — the men who borrow, and the men who lend. To these two original diversities may be reduced all those impertinent classifications of Gothic and Celtic tribes, white men, black men, red men. All the dwellers upon earth “ Parthians and Medes and Elamites” - flock hither, and do naturally fall in with one or other of these primary distinctions. The infinite superiority of the former, which I choose to designate as the great race, is discernible in their figure, port, and a certain instinctive sovereignty. The latter are born degraded : “IIe shall serve his brethren." There is something in the air of one of this cast, lean and suspicious, contrasting with the open, trusting, generous manners of the other.
Observe who have been the greatest borrowers of all ages, Alcibiades, Falstaff, Sir Ricliard Steele, our late incomparable Brinsley, — what a family likeness in all four!
What a careless, even deportment hath your borrower! What rosy gills! what a beautiful reliance on Providence doth he manifest! – taking no more thought than lilies. What contenipt for money, accounting it (yours and mine especially) no better than dross! What a liberal confounding of those pedantic distinctions of meum and tuum! or, rather, what a noble simplification of language (beyond Tooke), resolving these supposed opposites into one clear, intelligible pronoun-adjective! What near approaches doth he make to the primitive community! — to the extent of onehalf of the principle at least.
He is the true taxer who “calleth all the world up to be taxed ;” and the distance is as vast between him and one of us as subsisted between the Augustan Majesty and the poorest obolary Jew that paid it tribute-pittance at Jerusalem. His exactions, too, have such a cheerful, voluntary air! so far removed from your sour parochial or state-gatherers, – those ink-horn varlets who carry their want of welcome in their faces! He cometh to you with a smile, and troubleth you with no receipt; confining himself to no set season. Every day is his Candlemas, or his feast of holy Michael. He applieth the lene tormentum of a pleasant look to your purse, which to that gentle warmth expands her silken leaves as naturally as the cloak of the traveler, for which sun and wind contended. He is the true Propontis, which never ebbeth; the sea, which taketh handsomely at each man's hand. In vain the victim whom he delighteth to honor struggles with destiny: he is in the net. Lend, therefore, cheerfully, Oman ! ordained to lend, that thou lose not in the end, with thy worldly penny, the reversion promised. Combine not preposterously in thine own person the penalties of Lazarus and of Dives, but, when thou seest the proper authority coming, meet it smilingly, as it were half way. Come, a handsome sacrifice! See how light he makes of it! Strain not courtesies with a noble enemy.
Reflections like the foregoing were forced upon my mind by the death of my old friend, Ralph Bigod, Esq., who parted this life on Wednesday evening, dying as he had lived, without much trouble. He boasted himself a descendant from mighty ancestors of that name, who heretofore held ducal dignities in this realm. In his actions and sentiments, he belied not the stock to which he pretended. Early in life, he found himself invested with ainple revenues, which, with that noble disinterestedness which I have noticed as inherent in men of the great race, he took almost immediate measures entirely to dissipate, and bring to nothing: for there is something revolting in the idea of a king holding a private purse ; and the thoughts of Bigod were all regal. Thus furnished by the very act of disfurnishment; getting rid of the cumbersome luggage of riches; more apt (as one sings)
“To slacken Virtue, and abate her edge,
Than prompt her to do aught may merit praise," — he set forth, like some Alexander, upon his great enterprise, — 6 borrowing and to borrow.”
In his periegesis, or triumphant progress, throughout this island, it has been calculated that he laid a tithe part of the inhabitants under contribution. I reject this estimate as greatly exaggerated; but, having had the honor of accompanying my friend divers times in his perambulations about this vast city, I own I was greatly struck at first with the prodigious number of faces we met who claimed a sort of respectful acquaintance with us. He was one day so obliging as to explain the phenomenon. It seems these were his tributaries, feeders of his exchequer, gentlemen, his good friends (as he was pleased to express himself), to whom he had occasionally been beholden for a loan. Their multitudes did no way disconcert him: he rather took a pride in numbering them; and, with Comus, seemed pleased to be “stocked with so fair a herd.”
With such sources, it was a wonder how he contrived to keep his treasury always empty. He did it by force of an aphorism,
which he had often in his mouth, - that “ money kept longer than three days stinks:” so he made use of it while it was fresh. A good part he drank away (for he was an excellent toss-pot); some he gave away; the rest he threw away, literally tossing and hurling it violently from him — as boys do burrs, or as if it had been infectious - into ponds or ditches or deep holes, inscrutable cavities of the earth; or he would bury it (where he would never see it again) by a river's side, under some bank, which (he would facetiously observe) paid no interest: but out away from him it must go peremptorily, as Hagar's offspring into the wilderness, while it was sweet: he never missed it; the streams were perennial which fed his fisc. When new supplies became necessary, the first person that had the felicity to fall in with him, friend or stranger, was sure to contribute to the deficiency; for Bigod bad an undeniable way with him. He had a cheerful, open exterior; a quick, jovial eye; a bald forehead, just touched with gray (cana fides). He anticipated no excuse, and found none. And, waiving for a while my theory as to the great race, I would put it to the most untheorizing reader who may at times have disposable coin in his pocket, whether it is not more repugnant to the kindliness of his nature to refuse such a one as I am describing than to say no to a poor petitionary rogue (your bastard borrower), who by his mumping visnomy tells you that he expects nothing better, and therefore whose preconceived notions and expectations you do in reality so much less shock in the refusal.
When I think of this man, his fiery glow of heart, his swell of feeling; how magnificent, how ideal, he was; how great at the midnight hour; and when I compare with him the companions with whom I have associated since,– I grudge the saving of a few idle dncats, and think that I am fallen into the society of lenders and little men.
MODERN GALLANTRY. In comparing modern with ancient manners, we are pleased to compliment ourselves upon the point of gallantry, - a certain obsequiousness or deferential respect which we are supposed to pay to females as females.
I shall believe that this principle actuates our conduct when I can forget, that, in the nineteenth century of the era from which we date our civility, we are but just beginning to leave off the very frequent practice of whipping females in public in common with the coarsest male offenders.
I shall believe it to be influential when I can shut my eyes to the fact, thai, in England, women are still occasionally hanged.
I shall believe in it when actresses are no longer subject to be Liissed off a stage by gentlemen. I shall believe in it when Dorimant hands a fish wife across the kennel, or assists the applewoman to pick up her wandering fruit which some unlucky dray has just dissipated. I shall believe in it when the Dorimants in humbler life, who would be thought in their way notable adepts in this refinement, shall act upon it in places where they are not known, or think themselves not observed; when I shall see the traveler for some rich tradesman part with his admired box-coat to spread it over the defenseless shoulders of the poor woman who is passing to her parish on the roof of the same stage-coach with him, drenched in the rain; when I shall no longer see a woman standing up in the pit of a London theater till she is sick and faint with the exertion, with men about her seated at their ease, and jeering at her distress, till one that seems to have more manners or conscience than the rest significantly declares “she should be welcome to his seat if she were a little younger and handsomer.” Place this dapper warehouseman, or that rider, in a circle of their own female acquaintance, and you shall confess you have not seen a politer-bred man in Lothbury. .
Lastly, I shall begin to believe there is some such principle influencing our conduct when more than one-half of the drudgery and coarse servitude of the world shall cease to be performed by women. Until that day comes, I shall never believe this boasted point to be any thing more than a conventional fiction, — a pageant got up between the sexes in a certain rank, and at a certain time of life, in which both find their account equally.
I shall be even disposed to rank it among the salutary fictions of life, when, in polite circles, I shall see the same attentions paid to age as to youth, to homely features as to handsome, to coarse complexions as to clear ; to the woman as she is a woman, not as she is a beauty, a fortune, or a title. I shall believe it to be something more than a name when a well-dressed gentleman in a well-dressed company can advert to the topic of female old age without exciting, and intending to excite, a sneer; when the phrases, “antiquated virginity,” and such a one has “overstood her market," pronounced in good company, shall raise immediate offense in man or woman that shall hear them spoken.
Joseph Paice of Bread-street Hill, merchant, and one of the directors of the South Sea Company, — the same to whom Edwards, the Shakspeare commentator, has addressed a fine sonnet, — was the only pattern of consistent gallantry I have met with. He took me under his shelter at an early age, and bestowed some pains upon me. I owe to his precepts and example whatover there is of the man of business (and that is not much) in my composition. It was not his fault that I did not profit more.