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A Portraiture of Quakerism, Volume 1 by Clarkson

These principles continued to actuate all true Quakers


Burroughs, who lived at the same time, and was an able minister of the society, joined George Fox in his sentiments with respect to the treatment of animals. He considered that man in the fall, or the apostate man, had a vision so indistinct and vitiated that he could not see the animals of the creation, as he ought, but that the man, who was restored, or the spiritual christian, had a new and clear discernment concerning them, which would oblige him to consider and treat them in a proper manner.

This idea of George Fox and of Edward Burroughs seems to have been adopted or patronized by the Poet Cowper.

"Thus harmony, and family accord, Were driven from Paradise; and in that hour The seeds of cruelty, that since have swell'd To such gigantic and enormous growth, Were sown in human natures fruitful soil. Hence date the persecution and the pain, That man inflicts on all inferior kinds, Regardless of their plaints. To make him sport, To gratify the frenzy of his wrath, Or his base gluttony, are causes good, And just, in his account, why bird and beast Should suffer torture--"

Thus the Quakers censured these diversions from the first formation of their society, and laid down such moral principles with respect to the treatment of animals, as were subversive of their continuance. These principles continued to actuate all true Quakers, who were

their successors; and they gave a proof, in their own conduct, that they were influenced by them, not only in treating the different animals under their care with tenderness, but in abstaining from all diversions in which their feelings could be hurt. The diversions however, of the field, notwithstanding that this principle of the brute-creation had been long recognized, and that no person of approved character in the society followed them, began in time to be resorted to occasionally by the young and thoughtless members, either out of curiosity, or with a view of trying them, as means of producing pleasure. These deviations, however from the true spirit of Quakerism became at length known. And the Quakers, that no excuse might be left to any for engaging in such pursuits again, came to a resolution in one of their yearly meetings, giving advice upon the subject in the following words.

[8]"We clearly rank the practice of hunting and shooting for diversion with vain sports; and we believe the awakened mind may see, that even the leisure of those whom providence hath permitted to have a competence of worldly goods, is but ill filled up with these amusements. Therefore, being not only accountable for our substance, but also for our time, let our leisure be employed in serving our neighbour, and not in distressing the creatures of God for our amusement."

[Footnote 8: Book of Extracts.]

I shall not take upon me to examine the different reasons upon which we find the foundation of this law. I shall not enquire how far a man's substance, or rather his talent, is wasted or misapplied, in feeding a number of dogs in a costly manner, while the poor of the neighbourhood may be starving, or how far the galloping after these is in the eye of christianity a misapplication of a person's time. I shall adhere only to that part of the argument, how far a person has a right to make a [9]pleasure of that, which occasions pain and death to the animal-creation: and I shall shew in what manner the Quakers argue upon this subject, and how they persuade themselves, that they have no right to pursue such diversions, but particularly when they consider themselves as a body of professing christians.

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