Images de page

stred him to speak no more about that. He told them that he was plain, and that he would have all things done plainly, for he sought not any outward advantage to himself. So, after he had acquainted the children with it, their intention of marriage was laid before friends, both privately and publicly; and afterwards, a meeting being appointed for the accomplishment of the marriage, in the public meeting-house at Broad Mead in Bristol, they took each other in marriage, in the plain and simple manner as then practised, and which he himself had originally recommended to his followers.

The regulations concerning marriage, and the manner of the solemnization of it, which obtained in the time of George Fox, nearly obtain among the Quakers at the present day.

When marriage is agreed upon between two persons, the man and the woman, at one of the monthly meetings, publicly declare their intentions, and ask leave to proceed. At this time, their parents, if living, must either appear, or send certificates to signify their consent. This being done, two


men are appointed by the men's meeting, and two women by that of the women, to wait upon the man and woman respectively, and to learn from themselves, as well as by other inquiry, if they stand perfectly clear from any marriage promises and engagements to others. At the next monthly meeting, the deputation make their report: . If either of the parties is reported to have given expectation of marriage to any other individual, the proceedings are stopped till the matter be satisfactorily explained. But if they are both of them reported to be clear in this respect, they are at liberty to proceed, and one or more persons of respectability, of each sex, are deputed to see that the marriage be orderly conducted.

In the case of second marriages, additional instructions are sometimes given; for if any of the parties, thus intimating their intention of marrying, should have children alive, the same persons, who were deputed to inquire into their clearness from all other engagements, are to see that the rights of such children be legally secured.

When the parties are considered to be free, by the reports of the deputation, to


proceed upon their union, they appoint a suitable day for the solemnization of it, which is generally one of the week-day-meetings for worship. On this day, they repair to the meeting-house with their friends. The congregation, when seated, sit in silence. Perhaps some minister is induced to speak. After a suitable time has elapsed, the man and the woman rise up together, and, taking each other by the hand, declare publicly that they thus take each other as husband and wife. This constitutes their marriage. By way, however, of evidence of their union, a paper is signed by the man and woman in the presence of three witnesses, who sign it also, in which it is stated that they have so taken each other in marriage. And in addition to this, though it is not a necessary practice, another paper is generally produced and read, stating concisely the proceedings of the parties in their respective meetings, for the purpose of their marriage, and the declaration made by them as having taken each other as husband and wife. This is signed by the parties, their relatives, and frequently by many of their friends and others present. All marriages


of other dissenters are celebrated in the established churches, according to the ceremonies of the same. But the marriages of the Quakers are valid by law in their own meeting-houses, when solemnized in this simple manner.

[ocr errors][merged small]

Quakers marrying out of the Society to be disowned

-This regulation charged with pride and cruelty - Reasons for this disownment arethat mixed marriages cannot be celebrated without a violation of some of the great principles of the Society that they are generally productive of disputes and uneasiness to those concerned-and that the discipline cannot be carried on in such families.

AMONG the regulations suggested by George Fox, and adopted by his followers, it was determined that persons belonging to the Society should not intermarry with those of other religious professions. Such a heterogeneous union was denominated a mixed marriage; and persons engaging in such mixed marriages were to be disowned.

People People of other religious denominations have charged the Quakers with a more than usually censurable pride, on account of their adoption of this law. They consider them as looking down upon the rest of their fellow-creatures, as so inferior or unholy as not to deign or to dare to mix in alliance with them, or as looking upon them in the same light as the Jews considered the Heathen, or the Greeks the Barbarian world. And they have charged them also with as much cruelty as pride on the same account. “ A Quaker," they say,

« feels himself strongly attached to an accomplished woman. But she does not belong to the Society. He wishes to marry, but he cannot marry her on account of its laws. Having a respect for the Society, he looks round it again, but he looks round it in vain. He finds no one equal to this woman; no one whom he could love so well. To marry one in the Society, while he loves another out of it better, would be evidently wrong. If he does not marry her, he makes the greatest of all sacrifices; for he loses that which he supposes would constitute a source of enjoyment to him for the remainder of his lifean


« PrécédentContinuer »