« PreviousContinue »
the Society of “ Friends” would ever be likely to mistake the Reformation for the Restoration; or confound Scotland's with England's last Catholic King James.
If our friend be a man of science, whether naturalist, geologist, or botanist, we will venture to promise that he shall not enter ten families without finding in five of them, ladies, neither old nor ugly, who are able to encounter him on his own ground; and this too without any assumption of extraordinary learning. With them, such knowledge is too much a matter of course to be made a matter of vanity; and if we must acknowledge that their elders are somewhat rigid in excluding them from the amusements that are to be found abroad, we must not omit to allow that they amply provide them with such as are calculated to embellish home.
Again, if our visitor be a poet, we will ensure him abundant sympathy in his favourite pursuit. Poetic taste, which may almost be said to amount to a passion among the youth of their sect, is, I fancy, the escape valve through which their repressed musical talent evaporates. Among their most accredited favourites, are Wordsworth, Beattie, Montgomery, Cowper, and Campbell; and if the former have most of their praise, the last has, I suspect, most of their love. Campbell is, indeed, the Apollo of the Friends; and I scarcely know amongst them a damsel of seventeen, who cannot repeat the “ Pleasures of Hope,” and “ Gertrude of Wyoming,” from beginning to end.
Of prose-writers that are not of their own body, their theological favourites are Cudworth and Thomas à Kempis. Indeed, the writings of the latter are in such high repute among them, that had the Quakers a bishoprick to bestow, he would undoubtedly have been called upon to fill its chair. Of their favourite novelists, I dare not say much, for this class of reading is strictly forbidden, under the designation of “unprofitable books.” Notwithstanding this prohibition, however, I have usually discovered, that the younger part of the body contrive, by some means or other, to make themselves acquainted with the works of our most popular writers of fiction. I feel a tenderness in alluding to this subject, from a fear of getting my fair friends into a scrape. Nevertheless (sub rosa) such is the fact
Of their parliamentary favourite, for each heart hath its own peculiar star, Wilberforce was the idol before whom they bowed. This may seem odd in a sect whose policy is so evidently liberal; but in this instance, what they consider the smaller good, is made to bend to the one of greater magnitude, and thus they forgive his Toryism, for the sake of his philanthropy.
“ So much for mind, and now for outward shew.”
As a lover of impartiality I must not neglect to caution any unfortunate husband who may be smarting under the recent infliction of a bill from Madame Carson, and who is ready to wish that his wife had been of the sect that are limited in the choice of their dresses, from being over hasty in his judgment. — I am of opinion that when the Creator, for the sins of our first parents, ordained that they should need clothing, he imparted to the original offender and all her female posterity, a taste, which converted the penalty into a boon; on this principle only can I account for the love of dress so common to them all. Even the Quakeresses, who, in obedience to the injunction of St. Paul, “refrain from outward adorning,” and are restricted by their elders to garments composed of scarcely more than two colours, contrive from these simple elements to extract as much food for vanity as a painter from his seven primitive colours, or a musician from his octave of notes. It is true, the original materials are limited; but, О for the varieties that their ingenuity will contrive to extract from these simple elements! First there is white, pure unadulterated white; then there is dead' white, then there is 'blue' white, then there is "pearl' white, then there is · French' white, and heaven knows how many other whites.Next follow the greys: first there is simple grey, then "blue' grey, then “ash' grey, then “silver' grey, then 6 raven 'grey, and, for aught I know, a dozen other greys.— Then come the fawn, the “light' fawn, the dark 'fawn, the red’ fawn, the brown' fawn, the hare's back, and the brown paper' colour ;— then
follow (with their endless subdivisions) the families of the · Esterhazies,' the doves, 'the “slates,' the “puces,' the mulberries,' the bronzes,' and the London smokes,'-_varieties innumerable, and with distinctions only visible to the practised eye of a Lady Friend. As for their muslin handkerchiefs, let no unfortunate wight, whilst in the act of paying a bill for Brussels lace, envy those who have no such bills to pay: let him rest assured that his burthen is borne in some shape or other by his graver brethren : he may know that a muslin handkerchief may be bought for eighteenpence, but he does not perhaps know that it may be bought for eighteen shillings also, and that the “Sisters” have a peculiar penchant for the latter priced article. It is true that a double instead of a single border forms the principal, I should say the only difference, between the India and British manufacture, no matter; the India is the most difficult to be procured, therefore the most to be desired, and consequently the thing to be worn!
And then their chaussure -- in this point they resemble our French neighbours more than any other people: It is certain that they confine themselves to shoes of two colours-brown and black; but then, their varieties! from the wafer-soled drawing-room to the clog-soled walking shoe! verily their name should be legion, for they indeed are many.
And then their gloves — who ever saw a Quakeress
with a soiled glove? On the contrary, who has not remarked the delicate colour and superior fitting of their digital coverings? And well may it be so; for, though ready-made gloves may do well enough for an undistinguishing court beauty, her refinement must stoop to that of a Quaker belle, who wears no gloves but such as are made for her own individual fingers.
And then their pocket handkerchiefs – I verily believe that the present fashion of the Mouchoir brodé proceeded from them. It is true, that they do not require the corners to be so elaborately embroidered; but for years have they been distinguished for the open work border on cobweb-like cambric: nor are they to be satisfied with the possession of a moderate share of these superior articles. No, indeed; if they are to be restricted to necessaries in dress, they fully indemnify themselves by having these necessaries of the finest possible quality, and in the largest possible quantity.
So long ago as the reign of Charles the Second, it was observed of a great statesmani, that he was "curious in his linen as a Quaker :”—and this implied axiom of the seventeenth century, is fully in force at the present day.
One observation more, and I have done. In the management of that most unmanageable part of a lady's attire, ycleped a shawl, we will match any pretty • Friend' against any fair one of the European continent, (always excepting a lady from Spain). O, the