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A Portraiture of Quakerism, Volume 1 by Clarkson

The Quakers have rejected it for various reasons


I

should not wish, by the relation of this anecdote, to be understood as reflecting in the slightest manner on the practice of the Scottish church. I know well the general sobriety, diligence, piety and religious example of its ministers. I mentioned it merely to shew, that even where the religious character of a person was high, his mind, by the frequent repetition of the same forms of expression on the same occasions, might frequently lose sight of the meaning and force of the words as they were uttered, so that he might pronounce them without that spiritual feeling, which can alone constitute a religious exercise.

CHAP. VII.

_Customs at and after meals--Quakers never drink healths at dinner--nor toasts after dinner--the drinking of toasts a heathen custom--interrupts often the innocence--and leads to the intoxication of the company--anecdote of Judge Hale--Quakers sometimes in embarrassing situations on account of this omission--Quaker-women seldom retire after dinner, and leave the men drinking--Quakers a sober people._

The Quakers though they are occasionally found in the custom of saying grace, do not, as I have stated, either use it as regularly, or in the same manner as other christians.

Neither do they at their meals, or after their meals, use the same ceremonies as others. They have exploded the

unmeaning and troublesome custom of drinking healths at their dinners.

This custom the Quakers have rejected upon the principle, that it has no connection with true civility. They consider it as officious, troublesome, and even embarrassing, on some occasions. To drink to a man, when he is lifting his victuals to his mouth, and by calling off his attention, to make him drop them, or to interrupt two people, who are eating and talking together, and to break the thread of their discourse, seems to be an action, as rude in its principle, as disagreeable in its effects, nor is the custom often less troublesome to the person drinking the health, than to the person whose health is drank. If a man finds two people engaged in conversation he must wait till he catches their eyes, before he can drink himself. A man may also often be put into a delicate and difficult situation, to know whom to drink to first, and whom second, and may be troubled, lest, by drinking improperly to one before another, he may either be reputed awkward, or may become the occasion of offence. They consider also the custom of drinking healths at dinner as unnecessary, and as tending to no useful end. It must be obvious that a man may wish another his health, full as much without drinking it, as by drinking it with his glass in his hand. And it must be equally obvious that wishes, expressed in this manner, can have no medicinal effect.

With respect to the custom of drinking healths at dinner, I may observe that the innovation, which the Quakers seem to have been the first to have made upon the practice of it, has been adopted by many, not out of compliance with their example, but on account of the trouble and inconveniences attending it; that the custom is not now so general as it was; that in the higher and more fashionable circles it has nearly been exploded; and that, among some of the other classes of society, it is gradually declining.

With respect to the custom of drinking toasts after dinner, the Quakers have rejected it for various reasons.


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