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convey no merit of the deceased, by which his example should be followed. They convey no lesson of morality. And in general they are not particularly useful. They may serve, perhaps, to point out to surviving relations the place where the body of the deceased was buried, so that they may know where to mark out the line for their own graves. But as the Quakers in general have overcome the prejudice of “ sleeping with their fathers,” such memorials cannot be useful to them.
The Quakers, however, have no objection, if a man has conducted himself particularly well in life, that a true statement should be made concerning him, provided such a statement would operate as a lesson of morality to others; but they think that the tomb-stone is not the best medium of conveying it. They are persuaded that very little moral advantage is derived to the cursory readers of epitaphs, and that they can trace no improvement in morals to this
Sensible, however, that the memorials of good men may be inade serviceable to the rising generation, (" and there
are no ideas," says Addison, “ which strike more forcibly on our imaginations than those which are raised from reflections upon the exits of great and excellent men,”) they are willing to receive accounts of the lives, deaths, and remarkable sayings of those ministers in their own Society, who have been eminent for their labours. These are drawn up by individuals, and presented to the monthly meetings to which the deceased belonged. But here they must undergo an examination before they are passed. The truth of the statement and the utility of the record must appear. It then falls to the quarterly meetings to examine them again; and these may alter, or pass, or reject them, as it may appear to be most proper. If these should pass them, they are forwarded to the yearly meeting. Many of them, after this, are printed; and, finding their way
into the book-cases of the Quakers, they become collected lessons of morality, and operate as incitements to piety to the rising youth. Thus the memorials of men are made useful by the Quakers in an unobjectionable manner; for the falsehood
and flattery of epitaphs are thus avoided, none but good men having been selected, whose virtues, if they are recorded, can be perpetuated with truth.
They discard also mourning garments-These are
only emblems of sorrow—and often make men pretend to be what they are not-This contrary to Christianity—Thus they may become little better than disguised pomp, or fashionable forms -This instanced in the changes and duration of common mourning-and in the custom of courtmourning-Ramifications of the latter,
As the Quakers neither allow of the tomb-stones nor the monumental inscriptions, so they do not allow of the mourning garments of the world.
They believe there can be no true sorrow but in the heart, and that there can be no other true outward way of showing it, than by fulfilling the desires, and by imitating the best actions, of those whom men have lost and loved. “ The mourning,” says
William Penn,“ which it is fit for a Christian to have on the departure of beloved relations and friends, should be worn in the mind, which is only sensible of the loss. And the love which men have had to these, and their remembrance of them, should be outwardly expressed by a respect to their advice, and care of those they have left behind them, and their love of that which they loved.”
But mourning garments, the Quakers contend, are only the emblems of sorrow, They will therefore frequently be used where no sorrow is. Many persons follow their deceased relatives to the grave, whose death, in point of gain, is a matter of real joy; witness young spendthrifts, who have been raising sum after sum on expectation, and calculating with voracious anxiety the probable duration of their relations' lives : and yet all these follow the
with white handkerchiefs, mourning habits, slouched hats, and dangling hat-bands. Mourning garments, therefore, frequently make men pretend to be what they are not. But no true or consistent Christian can exhibit an outward ap
corpse to the
pearance to the world, which his inward feelings do not justify.
It is not contended here by the Quakers, that, because a man becomes occasionally a hypocrite, this is a sufficient objection against any system ; for a man may be an Atheist even in a Quaker's garb. Nor is it insinuated that individuals do not sometimes feel in their hearts the sorrow which they propose to signify by their clothing. But it is asserted to be
men, mourning habits as they are generally used, do not wear them for those deceased
persons only whom they loved, and abstain from the use of them where they had no esteem, but that they wear them promiscuously on all the occasions, which have been dictated by fashion. Mourning habits, therefore, in consequence of a long system of etiquette, have become, in the opinion of the Quakers, but little better than disguised pompor fashionable forms.
I shall endeavour to throw some light upon this position of the Quakers, by looking into the practice of the world.
In the first place, there are seasons there when full mourning, and seasons when only