Page images
PDF
EPUB

A man could hardly fail of having his case determined by persons who were competent to the task.

Though this beautiful institution was thus publicly introduced, and introduced with considerable expectations and applause, cases came in but slowly. Custom and.prejudice are not to be rooted out in a moment. In process of time, however, several were offered, considered, and decided, and the

presumption was, that the institution would have grown with time.

Of those cases which were determined, some relating to ships were found to be particularly intricate, and cost the arbitrators considerable time and trouble. The verdicts, however, which were given, were in all of them satisfactory. The institution at length became so popular, that, incredible to relate, its own popularity destroyed it! So many persons were ambitious of the honour of becoming members of the committee; that some of inferior knowledge and judgment, and character, were too hastily admitted into it. The consequence was, that people dared not trust their affairs to the abilities of every member, and the institu

[merged small][ocr errors]

tion expired, after having rendered important services to numerous individuals who had tried it.

When we consider that this institution has been tried, and that the scheme of it has been found practicable, it is a pity that its benefits should have been confined, and this for so short a period, to a single town. Would it not be desirable, if, in every district, a number of farmers were to give in their names to form a standing committee, for the settlement of disputes between farmer and farmer? or that there should be a similar. institution among manufacturers, who should decide between one manufacturer and another? Would it not also be desirable, if, in every parish, a number of gentlemen, or other respectable persons, were to associate for the purpose of accommodating the differences of each other? For this beautiful

system is capable of being carried to any extent, and of being adapted to all stations and conditions of life. By these means numerous little funds might be established in numerous districts, from the surplus of which an opportunity would be afforded of adding to the comforts of such of

the

[ocr errors]

the poor as were to distinguish themselves by their good behaviour, whether as labourers for farmers, manufacturers, or others. By these means also, many of the quarrels in parishes might be settled to the mutual satisfaction of the parties concerned, and in so short a space of time as to prevent them from contracting a rancorous and a wounding edge. Those, on the other hand, who were to assist in these arbitrations, would be amply repaid; for they would be thus giving an opportunity of growth to the benevolence of their affections, and they would have the pleasing reflection, that the tendency of their labours would be to promote peace and good-will amongst men.

CHAP CHAPTER VI.

SECTION I.

Management of the poor-Quakers never seen as

beggars-George Fox began the provision for the Quaker-poor-Monthly meetings appoint overseers - Persons passed over, are to apply for relief--and the disorderly may receive it in cer. tain cases--Manner of collecting for the poor If burthensome in one monthly meeting, the bur. then shared by the quarterly-Quakers gain settlements by monthly meetings as the other poor

of the kingdom by parishes. There are few parts of the Quaker-constitution that are more worthy of commendation than that which relates to the poor.

All the members of this Society are considered as brethren, and as entitled to support from one another.

If our streets or our roads be infested by miserable ob, jects imploring our pity, no Quaker will be found among them. A Quaker-beggar would be a phænomenon in the world.

As a

It does not, however, follow from this account that there are no poor Quakers, or that members of this Society are not born in a dependent state. The truth is, that there are poor as well as rich, but the wants of the former are so well provided for, that they are not publicly seen, like the wants of others.

George Fox, as he was the founder of the religion of the Quakers, I mean of a system of renovated Christianity, so he was the author of the beautiful system by which they make a provision for the poor. Christian, he considered the

poor description as members of the same family, but particularly those who were of the household of faith. Consistently with this opinion, he advised the establishment of general meetings in his own time, a special part of whose business it was to take due care of the poor. These meetings excited at first the vigilance and anger of the magistrates ; but, when they came to see the regulations made by the Quakers in order that none of their poor might become burthensome to their parishes, they went away, whatever they might think of some of their

of every

new

« PreviousContinue »