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John Woolman's Journal   By:

John Woolman's Journal by John Woolman

First Page:

EVERYMAN'S LIBRARY

EDITED BY ERNEST RHYS

BIOGRAPHY

JOHN WOOLMAN'S JOURNAL

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY VIDA D. SCUDDER

THE PUBLISHERS OF EVERYMAN'S LIBRARY WILL BE PLEASED TO SEND FREELY TO ALL APPLICANTS A LIST OF THE PUBLISHED AND PROJECTED VOLUMES TO BE COMPRISED UNDER THE FOLLOWING TWELVE HEADINGS:

TRAVEL SCIENCE FICTION THEOLOGY & PHILOSOPHY HISTORY CLASSICAL FOR YOUNG PEOPLE ESSAYS ORATORY POETRY & DRAMA BIOGRAPHY ROMANCE

IN TWO STYLES OF BINDING, CLOTH, FLAT BACK, COLOURED TOP, AND LEATHER, ROUND CORNERS, GILT TOP.

LONDON: J. M. DENT & SONS, LTD. NEW YORK: E. P. DUTTON & CO.

A GOOD BOOK IS THE PRECIOUS LIFE BLOOD OF A MASTER SPIRIT EMBALMED & TREASURED UPON PURPOSE TO A LIFE BEYOND LIFE MILTON

THE JOURNAL with other WRITINGS of JOHN WOOLMAN

LONDON: PUBLISHED by J. M. DENT & SONS LTD AND IN NEW YORK BY E. P. DUTTON & CO

All rights reserved

INTRODUCTION

From the days of Charles Lamb to those of Dr. Eliot of Harvard, the unique charm and worth of the Journal of John Woolman have been signalled by a thinker of distinction here and there, and the book, if not widely known, has quietly found its way to many hearts and been reprinted in sundry editions. The more formal works, however, in which this gentle and audacious eighteenth century Quaker preacher spoke out his whole careful mind have been for the most part neglected. These works are sometimes prosy, always indifferent to style in their unflinching quest for "pure wisdom," often concerned with the dead issue of negro slavery. Yet even in this last case they have much value as historic documents; no full knowledge of Woolman's spirit is possible without them; and not to know that spirit in its entirety is a distinct loss.

The present edition, while making no claim to critical completeness, presents the main accessible body of Woolman's writings. Here is a well of purest water, "dug deep," to use the Quaker phrase. The mere limpidity of the water will be joy enough for some: others gazing into it may feel that they see down to the proverbial Truth the very origin of things, the foundations of the moral universe.

A studious moderation of utterance is the first quality to make itself felt in Woolman's works. To casual or jaded readers who crave the word embroidery, the heightened note, of the romanticist in style, the result may seem colourless. Here is a lack of adjectives, an entire absence of emphasis, a systematic habit of under statement that, in the climax of a paragraph or the crisis of an emotion, seems at times almost ludicrous. Yet to the reader of severer taste, this very absence of emphasis, so quaintly sober, so sensitive in its unfaltering reticence, becomes the choicest grace of Woolman's style. As is the style, so is the man. Woolman "studied to be quiet," and his steady self discipline was rewarded by a scrupulous yet instinctive control over the finest shades of verity in speech and life. In the youthful trouble of deep religious feeling, when he "went to meetings," as he expressively tell us, "in an awful frame of mind," he spoke a few words one day, under "a strong exercise of spirit." "But not keeping close to the divine opening, I said more than was required of me, and being soon sensible of my error, I was afflicted in mind some weeks, without any light or comfort, even to such a degree that I could not take satisfaction in anything." The mistake was not often repeated; for as he writes in memorable words: "As I was thus humbled and disciplined under the Cross, my understanding became more strengthened to distinguish the pure spirit that inwardly moves upon the heart, and taught me to wait in silence, sometimes for many weeks together, till I felt that rise which prepares the creature to stand like a trumpet through which the Lord speaks to His flock... Continue reading book >>




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