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primitive Discourser—to which the insolent decays of mouldering grandeur have but arrived by a violent, and, as we may say, unnatural progression.
How reverend is the view of these hushed heads,
Nothing-plotting, nought-caballing, unmischievous synod ! convocation without intrigue! parliament without debate! what a lesson dost thou read to council and to consistory !if my pen treat of you lightly—as haply it will wander-yet my spirit hath gravely felt the wisdom of your custom, when sitting among you in deepest peace, which some out-welling tears would rather confirm than disturb, I have reverted to the times of your beginnings, and the sowings of the seed by Fox and Dewesbury.-I have witnessed that, which brought before my eyes your heroic tranquillity, inflexible to the rude jests and serious violences of the insolent soldiery, republican or royalist, sent to molest you—for ye sate betwixt the fires of two persecutions, the outcast and off-scowering of church and presbytery. I have seen the reeling sea-ruffian, who had wandered into your receptacle with the avowed intention of disturbing your quiet, from the very spirit of the place receive in a moment a new heart, and presently sit among ye as a lamb amidst lambs. And I remembered Penn before his accusers, and Fox in the bail-dock, where he was listed up in spirit, as be tells us, and “the Judge and the Jury became as dead men under his feet.”
Reader, if you are not acquainted with it, I would recommend to you, above all church-narratives, to read Sewel's History of the Quakers. It is in folio, and is the abstract of the journals of Fox and the primitive Friends. It is far more edifying and affecting than anything you will read of Wesley and his colleagues. Here is nothing to stagger you, nothing to make you mistrust, no suspicion of alloy, no drop or dreg of the worldly or ambitious spirit. You will here read the true story of that much-injured, ridiculed man (who perhaps hath been a by-word in your mouth), James Naylor : what dreadful sufferings, with what patience, he endured even to the boring through of his tongue with red-hot irons without a murmur; and with what strength of mind, when the delusion he had fallen into, which they stigmatised for blasphemy, had given way to clearer thoughts, he could renounce his error in a strain of the beautifullest 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 sate 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 pretences. Hypocrites they certainly are not, in their preaching. It is seldom indeed that you shall see one get up amongst them to hold forth. Only now and then a trembling, female, generally ancient, voice is heard—you cannot 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.
Once only, and it was some years ago, I witnessed a sample of the old Foxian orgasm. It was a man of giant stature, who, as Wordsworth phrases it, might have danced “from head to foot equipt in iron mail.” His frame was of iron too.
But he was malleable. I saw him shake all over with the spirit—I dare not say, of delusion. The strivings of the outer man were unutterablehe seemed not to speak, but to be spoken from. I saw the strong man bowed down, and his knees to fail-his joints all seemed loosening—it was a figure to set off against Paul Preaching—the words he uttered were few and sound-he was evidently resisting his willkeeping down his own word-wisdom with more mighty effort than the world's orators strain for theirs. " He had been a Wit in his youth,” he told us, with expressions of a sober remorse. And it was not till long after the impression had begun to wear away, that I was enabled, with something like a smile, to recall the striking incongruity of the confession-understanding the term in its worldly acceptation-with the frame and physiognomy of the person before
His brow would have scared away the Levities—the Jocos Risus-que-faster than the Loves fled the face of Dis at Enna. By wit, even in his youth, I will be sworn he understood something far within the limits of an allowable liberty.
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 have bathed with stillness.—0 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 an uniformity tranquil and herd-like-as in the pasture—" forty feeding like one."
The very garments of a 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.
350. WILLIAM PITT, EARL OF CHATHAM. 1708-1778. The character of Lord Chatham's eloquence is thus described by Mr. Charles Butler (1750-1832) in his ‘ Reminiscences':
Of those by whom Lord North was preceded, none, probably, except Lord Chatham, will be remembered by posterity; but the nature of the eloquence of this extraordinary man it is extremely difficult to describe.
No person in his external appearance was ever more bountifully gifted by nature for an orator. In his look and his gesture, grace and dignity were combined, but dignity presided ; the “terrors of his beak, the lightnings of his eye,' were insufferable. His voice was both full and clear; his lowest whisper was distinctly heard ; his middle tones were sweet, rich, and beautifully varied. When he elevated his voice to its highest pitch, the house was completely filled with the volume of the sound. The effect was awful, except when he wished to cheer or animate; he then had spirit-stirring notes, which were perfectly irresistible. He frequently rose, on a sudden, from a very low to a very high key, but it seemed to be without effort. His diction was remarkably simple ; but words were never chosen with greater care. He mentioned to a friend that he had read Bailey's Dictionary twice, from beginning to end, and that he had perused some of Dr. Barrow's Sermons so often as to know them by heart.
His sentiments, too, were apparently simple; but sentiments were never adopted or uttered with greater skill. He was often familiar and even playful; but it was the familiarity and playfulness of condescension—the lion that dandled with the kid. The terrible, however, was his peculiar power. Then the whole house sunk before him. Still he was dignified; and wonderful as was his eloquence, it was attended with this most important effect, that it impressed every hearer with a conviction that there was something in him even finer than his words; that the man was infinitely greater than the
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orator. No impression of this kind was made by the eloquence of his son, or his son's antagonist.
But with this great man—for great he certainly was—manner did much. One of the fairest specimens which we possess of his lordship’s oratory is his speech, in 1776, for the repeal of the Stamp Act.
Most, perhaps, who read the report of this speech in ' Almon's Register,' will wonder at the effect which it is known to have produced on the hearers; yet the report is tolerably exact, and exhibits, although faintly, its leading features. But they should have seen the look of ineffable contempt with which he surveyed the late Mr. Grenville, who sat within one of him, and should have heard him say with that look—“ As to the late ministry, every capital measure they have taken has been entirely wrong." They should also have beheld him, when, addressing himself to Mr. Grenville's successors, he said—“ As to the present gentlemen—those, at least, whom I have in my eye”—(looking at the bench on which Mr. Conway sat)—“I have no objection ; I have never been made a sacrifice by any of them. Some of them have done me the honour to ask my poor opinion before they would engage to repeal the act: they will do me the justice to own, I did advise them to engage to do it; but notwithstanding—(for I love to be explicit)–I cannot give them my confidence. Pardon me, gentlemen ”—(bowing to them)—"confidence is a plant of slow growth,” Those who remember the air of condescending protection with which the bow was made, and the look given, when he spoke these words, will recollect how much they themselves, at the moment, were both delighted and awed, and what they themselves then conceived of the immeasurable superiority of the orator over every human being that surrounded him. In the passages which we have cited, there is nothing which an ordinary speaker might not have said; it was the manner, and the manner only, which produced the effect.
Once, while he was speaking, Sir William Young called out, “Question, question !” Lord Chatham paused—then, fixing on Sir William a look of inexpressible disgust, exclaimed—“Pardon me, Mr. Speaker, my agitation :—when that member calls for the question, I fear I hear the knell of my country's ruin.”
On another occasion, immediately after he had finished a speech in the House of Commons, he walked out of it; and, as usual, with a very slow step. A silence ensued, till the door was opened to let him into the lobby. A member then started up, saying, “I rise to reply to the right honourable member.” Lord Chatham turned back, and fixed his eye on the orator,—who instantly sat down dumb: his lordship then returned to his seat, repeating, as he hobbled along, the verses of Virgil :