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tention, civility, love, and respect from others. Hence virtue may be said to have a reward in the present life. This account will be also true of bodies, and particularly of religious bodies, of men. It will make a difference to the individuals of these, whether they be respected as a body by the individuals of other religious denominations, or by the Government, under which they live.
But though character is of so much importance in life, there are few who estimate it, either when they view it individually or collectively, as it really is. It is often, on the one hand, heightened by partiality; and, on the other, lowered by prejudice. Other causes also combine to afford wrong apprehensions concerning it. For as different diseases often throw out the same symptoms, and the judgment of the physi
cian is baffled, so different motives frequently produce similar actions; and the man, who strives to develop a character, even if he wishes to speak truth, finds himself at a loss to pronounce justly upon it.
As these failings and difficulties have attended men in estimating the character of
individuals, individuals, so they seem to have attended those, who have attempted to delineate that of the Society of the Quakers. Indeed, if we were to take a view of the different qualities, which have been assigned to the latter, we could not but conclude that there must have been some mistake concerning them. We should have occasion to observe, that some of these were so different in their kind, that they could not reasonably be supposed to exist in the same persons. We should find that others could scarcely be admitted among a body of professing Christians. The Quaker-character, in short, as it has been exhibited to the world, is a strange medley of consistency and contradiction, and of merit and defect.
Amidst accounts, which have been so incongruous, I shall
I shall attempt the task of drawing the Character of the members of this Society. I shall state, first, all the excellencies that have been said to belong to it. I shall state also the blemishes, with which it has been described to be chargeable. I shall then inquire how far it is probable that
of these, and in what degree, are true. In this inquiry some little reliance must be placed
upon my personal knowledge of its members, and upon my desire not to deceive. It is fortunate, however, that I shall be able in this case to apply to a test, which will be more satisfactory to the world than any opinion of my own upon this subject. I mean to say that the Quakers, like others, are the creatures of their own education and habits, or that there are circumstances in their constitution, the knowledge of which will assist us in the discussion of this question ; circumstances, which will speak for themselves, and to which we may always refer in the case of difficulty or doubt. Their moral education, for example, which has been already explained, cannot but have an influence on the minds of those, who receive it. Their discipline also, which has appeared to be of so extraordinary a nature, and to be conducted in so extraordinary a manner, cannot but have an effect of its own kind. The peculiar customs, in which they have been described to have been born and educated, and which must of course act upon them as a second nature, must have a correspondent influence. From these and other prominent and distinguishing features in their constitution, I may hope to confirm some of the truths which have been told, and to correct some of the errors that have been stated, on the subject which is now before us.
Nor am I without the hope, that the discussion of this subject upon such principles will be acceptable to many. To those, who love truth, this attempt to investigate it will be interesting. To the Quakers it will be highly useful. For they will see in the glass or mirror, which I shall set before them, the appearance which they make in the world: and if they shall learn in consequence any of the causes either of their merits or of their failings, they will have learned a lesson, which they may make useful by the further improvement of their moral character,
Good part of the character of the Quakers--this ge
neral or particular-great general trait is, that they are a moral people--this opinion of the world accounted for and confirmed by a statement of some of the causes that operate in the produce tion of character-one of these causes is the dis
cipline peculiar to this Society. I
COME, according to my design, to the good part of the Character of the Society. This may
be divided into two sorts into that which is general, and into that which is particular. On the subject of their general good Character I shall first speak.
It is admitted by the world, as I had occasion to observe in the first chapter of the first volume, that, whatever other objections might be brought against the Quakers as a body, they deserved the character of a moral people.
Though this fact is admitted, and there appears therefore no necessity for confirming it, I shall endeavour, according to the