Imatges de pÓgina

graphing in detail the valuable manuscripts still in possession of the family in the house where John Woolman died, and his own death occurred very soon after he had sent over all the material which had any relation to the Quaker philanthropist.

The inspirer and adviser of this edition, who did not live to see the work finished, but the memory of whose helpful aid has made the completion of the task possible, was Francis B. Gummere. His grateful wife would here record her debt to his unfailing bright encouragement and wise counsel. Without the aid and coöperation of these and many others, the editor's labors would have been far less complete. The personal life of John Woolman is here presented in more detail than has before been possible. It is hoped that his spiritual message will not lose thereby.

Haverford, Pa.

June, 1922.



There are few men so eminent as John Woolman in social or religious literature, of whose personal life and surroundings so very little is known. The extraordinary modesty of character which so distinguished him in his personal relations with his fellowmen, has kept from the world for one hundred and fifty years those more intimate facts of which present day biography is often too full. In reading Woolman one must always carefully distinguish between the humility of character which was his in a marked degree, and that "holy boldness" which made him fearless in the prosecution of those delicate and difficult tasks to which his apprehended duty called him.

John Woolman's autobiography, heretofore our only source of information, contains but a thread of personal history, usually introduced because it is necessary to explain the circumstances of the spiritual “exercise" which he wishes to record. Even this appears solely for the purpose of enforcing a moral lesson. The Journal, for its very restraint, its simplicity of style, and its clarity of vision and statement, has grown into a classic, occupying a place unique in literature, and of far more influence than was dreamed possible by its modest author. Such writers as Henry Crabbe Robinson, Charles Lamb and George Macaulay Trevelyan, to name but three representative men, have borne testimony to its spiritual and literary qualities. Joseph Sturge, the reformer and philanthropist, wrote of it: "In the picturesque simplicity of its style, refined literary taste has found an inimitable charm; but the spiritually minded reader will discover beauties of a far higher order." The Journal was at one time in use as a text book at Princeton University, for the purity of its English,2 and in 1920 the State of Pennsylvania required it of its candidates in the public school examinations.


"Visit to the United States." 1841. p. 9.

'Charles B. Todd. "History of the Burr Family." ad edit. P. 449.

The Journalist was in the habit of noting down his experiences on his tours about the country, and he says, "After reading over the notes I made as I travelled, I find my mind engaged to preserve them." Having once made this determination, he systematically carried it out. The "Memorials" of his intimate friend, Rebecca Jones of Philadelphia, were published thirty years after her death, and in violation of her written request that they be not made public. She committed them to writing under a sense of duty, like John Woolman, and it was the opinion of the eminent men consulted that "it was not within her province to withhold from posterity the lustre of her example." John Woolman made no such restriction. Aware how much the record of his own experience might benefit his successors, he committed to paper all he thought of value as the days went by. He began the practice at the age of thirty-five and kept it up until his death at the age of fifty-two.

Examination of the sources now available for a fuller biography, brings out a personality which has nothing to lose and much to gain over the traditional figure of John Woolman. Records, legal and denominational, have been searched, often with important results, and many hitherto unknown letters and documents have been found in public libraries and in private hands. In fact, so much of new interest has developed, that a biographical sketch of the man is now no more than due to those who know John Woolman only through his Journal-the most impersonal autobiography ever written.

The only valid reason which could be offered for a new edition of the Journal of John Woolman would be the discovery of new material. There are half a hundred editions of the Journal proper, and a multitude of publications in which his Essays and appreciations of him appear. This valid reason, however, may now be safely advanced, for descendants of the Journalist have recently made accessible by presenting to learned institutions which are glad to guard them, the manuscripts-there are three of the Journal, and of most of his Essays, as well as letters, marriage certificates of the family and other documents.

The large, leather-bound folio, which once had clasps, written in the excellent clerkly hand of the author, and from which Crukshank printed the first edition in 1774, came into possession of

the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in 1912 as the gift of Samuel Comfort, a descendant in the sixth generation from John Woolman. It measures eight inches in width by twelve and a half in height. Inscribed upon the outside of the front of its cover are the names of three of John Woolman's grandsons:"Samuel and Stephen and John Comfort's Book." Upon the back his great-grandson, Samuel Comfort, has written his name. This was the descendant who aided John Comly in preparing the edition of 1837, and who replied to the Philadelphia Friend who was the medium through whom an English would-be purchaser in 1845 offered a small sum for the folio:-"Could it be justly supposed that those through whose veins his blood flows, would, for sordid gold, sell to a stranger those pages over which the hand has moved and penned the sentiments and feelings as they flowed fresh and warm from the heart of their honored Father in the Truth? may adopt this Scripture: 'The Lord forbid it me, that I should give the Inheritance of my Father unto thee.'" Accompanying this folio are the Larger and Smaller Account Books, the marriage certificate of John and Sarah Woolman, that of their daughter Mary and John Comfort, and of several of his ancestors and other relatives, besides valuable letters, papers and other documents. These have by gift now become the property of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia.


At Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania, are the two earlier manuscripts of the same Journal. The first of these is a rough draft of forty-seven quarto pages, begun when the Journalist was thirty-five years of age, and bearing interesting internal evidence of his spontaneity and youth. There is great freedom from the set phraseology which sometimes renders the literature of Quakerism difficult of comprehension to the ordinary reader. Its account ends with the year 1747. The second, like the first, is unbound, with its pages stitched together, and containing all the material in the first. It continues the narrative to the year 1770. Worn and sometimes blurred, the good ink and clear handwriting have in both cases preserved for us these precious documents. Accompanying these also are letters, and the manuscripts of several of the Essays. Most valuable of all, from the antiquarian point of view, is the short Journal of the Sea Voyage and of the four months travel in England. This is stitched together in a duo

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