H́nh ảnh trang
PDF
ePub

loss of that kindness. Jenny Harry weeps at the consciousness that thou wilt not speak to her."

Dr. Johnson: "I hate the odious wench, Madam, and desire you will not talk to me about her."

Mrs. Knowles : " Yet what is her crime?"

Dr. J. "Apostasy, Madam, from the community in which she was educated."

Mrs. K. "And surely, Dr., the quitting of one community for another cannot in itself be a crime, if it is done from motives of conscience. Hadst thou been educated in the Romish Church I must suppose thou wouldst have abjured its errors, and there would have been merit in the abjuration."

Dr. J. "Madam, if I had been educated in the Romish Church I believe I should have questioned my right to quit the religion of my forefathers. Well therefore may I take the arrogance of a young wench who sets herself up for a judge of theological points and deserts the religion in whose bosom she was nurtured.” Mrs. K. "I hope she has not done so. I hope the name of Christian is not denied to the sectaries."

Dr. J.:

[ocr errors]

If the name is not, the common sense is." Mrs. K. "I will not dispute that point with thee. It would carry us too far. Suppose it granted that in the eyes of a girl the weaker arguments appeared the stronger, the want of judgment demands thy pity, not thy anger."

[ocr errors]

Dr. J.: Madam, it has my anger and always will have it." Mrs. K. "Consider, Dr., she must be sincere; consider what

a noble fortune she has sacrificed."

Dr. J. "Madam, Madam, I have ever taught myself to consider that the association of folly cannot extenuate guilt." Mrs. K. : "Ah! Dr. can we suppose that

Here the MS. ends.

One would like to know what was the ultimate issue of the incident, but judging by similar narratives it was only one more instance of Quaker stedfastness in the face of opposition on the part of relatives.

I have no clue as to where the original letter is to be found in complete form. It does not appear in Miss Seward's Poetical Works with Extracts from her Correspondence, published in 1810, or her Letters, published in 1811. The incident referred to is, how

ever, related by Boswell under date of April 15th, 1778, and he adds a note to the effect that another account, contributed by Mrs. Knowles, was to be found in the Gentleman's Magazine for June, 1791. All the versions differ slightly as to detailed expressions made use of, but all agree as to the main features of the conversation and Dr. Johnson's overbearing manner on the occasion.

It will have been noticed in the course of the paper how largely the spread and influence of Quakerism was indebted to women. In the absence of a recognized order of ministers this was natural, not to say inevitable, but some of those who figure in the early accounts of Quakerism were women not only of high personal character, but of intellectual power. As shown in the last quotation Mrs. Knowles was such, and among those connected with Shropshire two may be specially mentioned. One of these was Abiah Darby, a letter from whom has been already quoted. She came of a Yorkshire Quaker stock, and left for the benefit of her children a considerable record of her early spiritual experience. Abraham Darby was her second husband, and she was diligent to use the means which this marriage brought to her for the good of others, both temporally and spiritually. She travelled extensively and was the author of a considerable number of pamphlets in support of Quaker principles. Her old age may best be described in the words of an American Friend from Philadelphia, who visited Coalbrookdale in 1789. He says: "21st II Mo., We came to the Dale, where we were kindly received by Richard Reynolds and his wife. While at Dale, I attended an evening sitting at Abiah Darby's, an ancient woman and a Princess in Israel, of great earthly possessions and much Christian meekness." She died in 1794.

Another Quakeress whose work is specially noteworthy was Deborah Darby. She too hailed from Yorkshire, but in 1776 she married Samuel Darby, and soon after settled at Coalbrookdale. In 1781 she began to travel," with a certificate of the unity of her monthly meeting," and she continued her evangelistic work for the next thirty years, including a visit of some length to America. Her greatest work, however, was indirect and in a sense unconscious. Somewhere about the year 1797 she made the acquaintance of Elizabeth Gurney, then a girl of 17, full of gaiety and content to find her happiness in the pursuit of enjoyment.

Deborah Darby, anxious for the girl's welfare, pleaded with her for a more earnest life, and her words had their effect. Elizabeth Gurney, who by her marriage became Elizabeth Fry, was the great Prison Reformer of whom the whole world has heard. It is interesting to know that her great philanthropic work owed its origin to Deborah Darby of Coalbrookdale.

It is time to bring this paper on the early history of Quakerism in Shropshire to a close. It would be easy to add to it from the materials available, but I hope it is sufficient to give a clear idea of the salient features of the system, and of the way, in which it took root in the County. I have said little about Quaker worship, and little seems necessary. Some will remember Charles Lamb's essay on "A Quakers' Meeting," in which he dwells with much. appreciation on the value of silent contemplation. No doubt the idea of gatherings for worship without a recognized ministry, or prearranged order, had its weak places, but the Quaker system gave special emphasis to the reality of the presence of the Divine Spirit in the individual heart. It is not difficult to point out mistakes which George Fox and his early followers made-we can smile at eccentricities which have gradually died of their own accord-but there was behind them the force of deep religious principle, and they gained a permanent hold on the country by the combination they exhibited of medieval mysticism with a shrewd faculty for business. They showed how-in the words of Lewis Morris :

Not only in the cloister the rapt soul

Dwells with Him, or beneath the midnight stars
Mingles with Him, and bears the sacred wounds
Of the Passion, but along the well-trod road

Of daily trivial life the race is run

[ocr errors]

To where the crown awaits him, and the palm."

1 Lewis Morris "Vision of Saints." Elizabeth Fry.

[graphic][merged small][merged small][subsumed]

OLD SHROPSHIRE HOUSES AND THEIR OWNERS.

By H. E. FORREST.

III.

BRAGGINGTON.

Unlike the two houses already dealt with in this series, Braggington has no very early history, for, until the existing hall was built there was no house or family of consequence in the hamlet. The register of Alberbury-in which parish Braggington is situated contains a good many entries relating to this place in the early part of the seventeenth century. From these we learn that there were three families residing here (probably small holders) the heads of which were Alexander and Margaret Morris; Edward and Anne Oakley; and Edward and Elizabeth Brownbill. With none of these, however, are we now concerned, since it is quite evident that they were not in any way associated with Braggington Hall.

The building itself is now somewhat difficult of access, owing to our modern roads following routes which do not pass near to it. Nevertheless it is worth while to traverse the short distance by fields and lanes from the high road to visit this fine old place. It is a large three-storeyed house of brick, with red stone facings, and is E-shaped in plan, though the wings and central portico do not advance so far forward as in Elizabethan houses. The most striking external feature is the front entrance, which, instead of standing within a porch, has a large round pillar on each side, while above is a flat architrave with deep mouldings bearing the inscription:

God is our house.

Tho. Owen, 1675.

Owing to the weathering of the soft sandstone the lettering is now barely decipherable, and the bases of the pillars have nearly disappeared. Indeed the whole building has a decayed and weatherworn appearance which gives an impression of

« TrướcTiếp tục »