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To descend from these altitudes, and not to protract our Fools' Banquet beyond its appropriate day—for I fear the Second of April is not many hours distant-in sober verity I will confess a truth to thee, reader. I love a Fool-as naturally, as if I were of kith and kin to him. When a child, with childlike apprehensions, that dived not below the surface of the matter, I read those Parables—not guessing at the involved wisdom—I had more yearnings toward that simple architect, that built his house upon the sand, than I entertained for his more cautious neighbor: I grudged at the hard censure pronounced upon the quiet soul that kept his talent; andprizing their simplicity beyond the more provident, and, to my apprehension, somewhat unfeminine wariness of their competitors-I felt a kindliness, that almost amounted to a tendre, for those five thoughtless virgins.—I have never made an acquaintance since, that lasted : or a friendship, that answered; with any that had not some tincture of the absurd in their characters. I venerate an honest obliquity of understanding. The more laughable blunders a man shall commit in your company, the more tests he giveth you, that he will not betray or overreach you. I love the safety, which a palpable hallucination warrants; the security, which a word out of season ratifies. And take my word for this, reader, and say a fool told it you, if you please, that he who hath not a dram of folly in his mixture, hath pounds of much worse matter in his composition. It is observed, that "the foolisher the fowl or fish-woodcocks-dotterels-cods'heads, etc.-the finer the flesh thereof," and what are commonly the world's received fools, but such whereof the world is not worthy? and what have been some of the kindliest patterns of our species, but so many darlings

of absurdity, minions of the goddess, and her white boys? -Reader, if you wrest my words beyond their fair construction, it is you and not I, that are the April Fool.


« Still-born Silence! thou that art
Flood-gate of the deeper heart!
Offspring of a heavenly kind !
Frost o' the mouth, and thaw o' the mind !
Secrecy's confidant, and He
Who makes religion mystery!
Admiration's speaking'st tongue !
Leave, thy desert shades among,
Reverend hermits' hallowed cells,
Where retired Devotion dwells!
With thy enthusiasms come,

Seize our tongues, and strike us dumb."* READER, wouldst thou know what true peace and quiet mean; wouldst thou find a refuge from the noises and clamors of the multitude; wouldst thou enjoy at once solitude and society; wouldst thou possess the depth of thine own spirit in stillness, without being shut out from the consolatory faces of thy species; wouldst thou be alone, and yet accompanied; solitary, yet not desolate; singular, yet not without some to keep theo in countenance; unit in aggregate; a simple in com. posite: come with me into a Quakers' meeting.

Dost thou love silence deep as that “before the winds were made?” go not out into the wilderness; descend

* From “Poems of all Sorts," by Richard Fleckno, 1653.

not into the profundities of the earth; shut not up thy casements, nor pour wax into the little cells of thy ears, with little-faithed, self-mistrusting Ulysses.-Retire with me into a Quakers' meeting.

For a man to refrain even from good words, and to hold his peace, it is commendable; but for a multitude, it is great mastery.

What is the stillness of the desert compared with this place? what the uncommunicating muteness of fishes?-here the goddess reigns and revels." Boreas, and Cesias, and Argestes loud," do not with their interconfounding uproars more augment the brawl-nor the waves of the blown Baltic with their clubbed soundsthan their opposite (Silence her sacred self) is multiplied and rendered more intense by numbers, and by sympathy. She, too, hath her deeps that call unto deeps. Negation itself hath a positive more and less; and closed eyes would seem to obscure the great obscurity of midnight.

There are wounds which an imperfect solitude cannot heal. By imperfect I mean that which a man enjoyeth by himself. The perfect is that which he can sometimes attain in crowds, but nowhere so absolutely as in a Quakers' meeting.-Those first hermits did certainly understand this principle when they retired into Egyptian solitudes, not singly, but in shoals, to enjoy one another's want of conversation. The Carthusian is bound to his brethren by this agreeing spirit of incommunicativeness. In secular occasions, what so pleasant as to be reading a book through a long, winter evening, with a friend sitting by-say a wife-he, or she, too (if that be probable), reading another, without interruption or oral communicaton?-can there be no sympathy without the gabble of words?-away with this inhuman, shy, single,

shade-and-cavern-haunting solitariness. Give me, Master Zimmermann, a sympathetic solitude.


To pace along in the cloisters or side-aisles of some cathedral, time-stricken

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is but a vulgar luxury, compared with that which those enjoy who come together for the purposes of more complete, abstracted solitude. This is the loneliness "to be felt."-The Abbey church of Westminster hath nothing so solemn, so spirit-soothing, as the naked walls and benches of a Quakers' meeting. Here are no tombs, no inscriptions,

"Sands, ignoble things, Dropped from the ruined sides of kings "

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but here is something which throws Antiquity herself into the foreground - SILENCE- eldest of things-language of old Night-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,
Looking tranquillity!"

Nothing - plotting, naught - 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 offscouring 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 among lambs. And I remember Penn before his accusers, and Fox in the bail-dock, where he was lifted up in spirit, as he 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 stigmatized 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

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