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seemed gratified with my determination, and I felt pleased, because my mode of life was to be something new and untried.
And here, at the age of twenty, I was without any fixed plan of life, after having exhausted all the pleasures of the world, (meaning dissipations,) guided by a kind Providence, who never ceases to care for his children, to a haven of rest, in the bosom of the pleasantest Quaker family in the country.
William Garrets was a Hicksite, a follower of Elias Hicks, a celebrated preacher of liberal opinions claiming them as the tenets of Penn, and Barclay, and other leaders of their class. Hicks is too well known to need comment here. He opened the eyes of many during his natural life, and has now gone to test the truth of his sentiments in eternity. With the highest tone of honorable feeling, the most charitable temper and disposition, the most open-handed hospitality, and the nicest refinement of plain manners, he has lived and died in the eyes of this people to the best purposes.
Probably no man among their order ever did so much good. At the time he began to preach, there were many scattered through their ranks, who were dissatisfied at the leaning of the society toward rank Hopkinsianism. Many had become tinged with the doctrines of this school, and the work of set revivals, a kind of proceeding so foreign to the whole tenor of their creed, began to be aimed at. Dissatisfaction crept in among them, and they were losing their individuality as a people.
Hicks wrote, and talked, and preached up a party to stay this backsliding; and the quiet meeting-houses of the Friends, time out of mind the abodes of peace, the sanctuaries of holy thought, became the theatres of violent polemical discussion. The humble receivers of a creed and manner of worship-in which all was plain and easily understood-from their fathers, they began first to reason, and then to doubt. Confusion and disorder troubled the breasts of the old, and the young ran astray, because their guides had become lost from the path of their religion; and the strange sight was seen of Quakers openly hating each other.
Elias Hicks went abroad and explained to the bewildered multitude what were the tenets of their founders. He collected the scattered bands, and they organized into a party; which once done, with cool and deliberate determination, they ceased from their wranglings-ceased from contention on his side, and the meetings once more sat in silence, and offered up pure and secret prayers in the temples of their souls to the one only and true God.
I lived with William Garrets more than a year, without any object as to the future. I seemed to have imbibed a love of quiet and solitude, and the long, hot summer noons, when not a sound broke the stillness, were seasons of enjoyment to me. The turmoil of my life, the restlessness of dissipation, and the pursuit of novelty, had wearied out my capacity for enjoyments, which depended upon great animal spirits, and bodily force, and I craved stillness and soberness, as the body craves rest from fatigue.
Himself something of a philosopher, I joined him in his scientific researches. We studied entomology and astronomy together. We rambled over the country in pursuit of curious bugs and plants, car
rying our bug-box and basket; and in the clear summer nights, we sat on the house-top with our telescope and globe, and I listened to strains of natural eloquence, and bursts of devout feelings, which shame all studied arrangements of words.
I could easily obtain from him, too, all the books I wished, upon the subject of the Friends. I read diligently, but observed more. I adopted, in part, the Quaker garb, and found it very convenient and easy. It is not improbable that the fashions of the world may come round to this garb, at some distant day. The broad hat is certainly more useful, in rain or sunshine, than the narrow sugar-loaf of the present day. The neckcloth is easier than the stock. The collar of the shirt is already discarded, as an useless incumbrance. The color of drab is more durable, and more neat, than any other; and the coat, with its single row of buttons, and large pockets, and standing collar, unites the conveniences of the frock-coat, and the succinctness of the straight-body.' Square-toed boots are now adopted, and so on with other particulars. Each has some good reason for its adoption and continuance. Their dress was adopted, not as a badge, as many suppose, but it has been the dress of the sect from the time of its origin; at which time it was the dress of all plain people, who were opposed to the tawdriness and extravagance of the followers of the court of Charles. They have seen no good reason to alter it, and if it is conspicuous, it has become so more from the changes of others, than of themselves.
I have ever been led to view the garb of the Quakers as having high moral influence upon their lives. By it they are constantly reminded of the virtue of consistency. A plain garb begets plain. thoughts and meek manners. They must rely upon other sources, with strangers, than external effect. They feel themselves shut out from the empty vanities of the world, and bearing with them in their dress a sign to that effect.
One can hardly meet a more interesting character than a Quaker gentleman of easy fortune, who lives upon the estate of his father, in the country. His house and grounds are the pattern of neatness. There is a venerable and respectable air in the large shade trees, and well-trodden walks that surround his antique dwelling. He rides in a square topped chaise, drawn by a sleek, fat horse, which has never been abused, and looks as contented, and patient, and well satisfied, as his master. His salutation is cordial and independent. He has a dignity of deportment which flows from an internal peace of mind. You may rely in perfect confidence upon what he says. You will find him well acquainted with agriculture, and with general science. He reads more than men of his rank among the world's people, and is better versed in governments. His children, being constantly surrounded by such examples, are well educated by the mere act of keeping their eyes open; for every point of conduct is a bright lesson to them of what is right. If this character does not approach to the true dignity and honor of man, I should like to know what does.
The Quakers read but little poetry. They worship nature. Their poetry is unwritten.' They drink in their inspiration from the fountain head. They worship God in the stars and in the sun. They regard him in the storm. They see him in his majesty, and glory,
and bounty, spreading the earth with plenty, and adorning the abode of man with pure streams, and pleasant pastures. In the shade they thank Him-by the way side, and in the woods. In peace, is his home to them; and they retire to think, alone, upon his goodness. This is their poetry, and they teach it to their children. It is not a well-spring of bitterness to them, as high-wrought poetry often is to the sensitive scholar; filling his heart full of dreams of imaginary a bliss he can never possess or realize in this world; making his life, as he lives on, one series of disappointments: for
'charm by charm unwinds Which robed our idols, and we see to sure
Nor worth nor beauty dwells from out the mind's
I know something about this sentiment, for I have felt it. It is not a ridiculous subject; its victims are not common men; but they are cursed with too nice a sensibility, and they yield to the influences of a literature, now common in all the towns and villages in our country thanks to our patriotic booksellers! - as common as the Bible.
Young men and young women get thoughts that belong to the age of chivalry, and the land of song, and poetry, and romance; the plains of Italy, the orange groves of Spain, and the vine-clad hills of France,' and they expect an Eden will spring up about themselves, in this every-day working country. They are ushered into the world with these high hopes, and their airy castles fall, and they are desolate. Educated out of, and away from, the standard of things as they are, they are not calculated to excite the sympathies of the people among whom they live. They belong either to the age gone by, or the one to come, or to none at all, and they look in vain for the realization of their hopes.
'COULD I escape the guilt of having stopped
I HAD now lived with this quiet family for more than a year, when an event occurred which changed all my plans, and threw me once more into the bustle of the world. But I went forth strong in my own estimation. My time had been devoted to reflection; and, retracing the steps of my life, I could see the rock on which I had split irresolution, or the yielding to impulse. I had thought more than I had read, and conversed much with men, the very antipodes of myself, in habits of action and thinking. From them I drew large stores of wisdom. I learned to distinguish the false from the true, the alluring from the useful. The familiarity of Quaker habits, and a taste of the sweetness of its simple life, had won me from love of passion and excitement, as I thought. But I afterward discovered that this very quietness was excitement of a different order. I had been, all the time that I prided myself so much upon my change of
character, the creature of a deep enthusiasm. I had been burning inwardly; and the fire which before seared me on the outside, had been kept alive by preying inwardly, and consuming my vitals. The old disease still raged on, and only sought opportunity to break out with redoubled force. So little hope can those who have wasted their youth have, of ever shaking off the penalty of sin. I then learned to appreciate the words of an elderly friend, who once, in answering a letter from me, in which I had written in praise of my regularity and studious attention, after some time of wild dissipation, said: The marked self-complacency of your letter constrains me to repeat a remark I have often made to you, that the calm and placid state which is sometimes experienced after the subsidence of irregular passion, far from proving the mind sound, is but a symptom of inherent disease. In such moments-moments so different from those which preceded, and in the comparison so hallowed - there is and must be great quietness of spirit, and indescribable satisfaction; but believe me, all this delightful consciousness does not constitute a truly wonderful change, nor any change at all. Let me add, no man was ever astonished at his own proficiency in goodness, who was not at the same time under the strongest and most dangerous delusion in the power of self-love to produce. Remember that the heart is deceitful chiefly in its pleadings in its own favor.'
I have quoted largely from this letter, because it seems to me that the remarks contain a great deal of truth; and beside, if these pages ever reach the eye of him who wrote it, that he may know that though his words were disregarded, yet they were never unappreciated, nor his friendship forgotten. Yes, I fully felt the truth of his words, when circumstances called upon me to give up my seclusion, and I rushed into the world, strong and confident of my power.
My father, in answering a draft I had made upon him, told me that he feared it was the last money he could send me; that losses in trade had reduced him almost to want. This came upon me quite unexpectedly. I had never thought of this chance. But there was no alternative, and I set about to consider what I should do. I could think of no plan. I was entirely disqualified by education, habits, and by unmeaning pride, for acting in such a case.
At last, as a desperate result, I made up my mind that I could work, if it came to the worst, and get my bread by the sweat of my brow. I knew that any man can live in this country by manual
Here I was placed in a situation which overtakes many Americans, born and educated as I was. The result is, that it either leads them into crime, and the lowest depths of vice, or brings out the energies of their characters, and works for their good. Here we see a fault in that system of education which forms for prosperity, but stores no treasures for adversity.
I bade adieu to my kind friends, the Quakers, with regret. William gave me letters to two of his friends in the city. I did not see their contents. In looking over my finances, after my arrival there, I found in the bottom of my trunk a letter addressed to myself. I opened it, and what was my surprise to find that it contained the full amount of the money I had insisted upon paying for my ex
penses, during my residence with my friend. Friend,' it read, thee is in distress; and although I yielded to thy entreaty to take money for thy board, I did so to avoid opposing thy will at the time. In giving it back, I have done even as I would that others should do to me. If we could change places, I feel assured that thee would have acted as I have done. Accept it, as a loan, at least; and when convenient, return it, if thee pleases. We are all amply recompensed for thy expenses, by the mutual kindness and improvement we have reaped from thy tarrying with us. May heaven bless thee! Call upon Friend Bond. He can employ thee, as I think.'
I lost no time in calling upon Friend Bond, whom I found to be a merchant of high standing, retired from business, upon an easy fortune, which he spent in works of benevolence and christianity.
He promptly opened his subject, and after saying he was perfectly satisfied with the letter I brought him, offered me a home in his house, if I would consent to keep his accounts. I found that William Garrets had transacted the whole business for me, probably seeing my unfitness to make any application in my own behalf. And on the second day of my arrival, I found myself partaking of the simple refinements of Quaker life in a city, than which nothing is in truer taste. I soon got acquainted with his wishes, though I made but a sad beginning; but he corrected my errors so kindly, and by never appearing other than satisfied, I became pleased with myself, and more anxious to please him. Occupation, which is the secret of happiness, kept out morbid states of mind, and I was really happy, for a time, in the exercise of constant labor.
Six months rolled on, and still found me improved, and the source of improvement to others; but my early disposition to love, soon wrecked all my prospects.
Friend Bond's eldest daughter was nearly seventeen; an artless girl, who had read more than was for her own good. Under her cold exterior, she covered a heart all passion and fire. It was not art that concealed it, but native modesty; and I hardly believe she herself knew the depth of her own enthusiasm. I can scarcely tell how it was, but an attachment certainly grew between us; involuntary on my part-perhaps so on hers. I know how I ought to have acted. I should have fled from this peaceful family; but then I should only have left the effect to have been produced by others, while I should have escaped. Yes! I should have fled; but, blinded by my own passion, I kept on, and nursed the pinion that impelled the steel.' It was so new to be loved, simply and honestly, with no guile or plan; to trust to the feeling itself, and not to artificial aids to passion, which most people are obliged to resort to, to keep up the illusion, that I loved now better than ever, and while I indulged an old passion, by the novelty of the attending circumstances, it was almost like a new one. Beside, I got room to draw some philosophical deductions about the passion; to find out the falsity of that theory of love, which makes it impossible for us to love but one object during life. The truth of the whole matter is this: We feel but once that headlong ardor, that intensity of passion, which is spurred on by novelty and inexperience, and which places woman