You may find interesting three exhibits, also available on this site:
When George Fox breathed his last in the house of Henry Gouldney, the good Gracechurch Street merchant, the Quaker Society which had started on its voyage amidst the storm of persecution was already passing into quieter waters: the penalties of the old penal laws had disappeared with the Act of Toleration, and the new peace was welcome to men who had grown gray in constant imprisonments. Old critics remained active and new ones joined them: Faldo, Leslie and Bugg were writing fierce diatribes to prove convincingly that the Quakers were no Christians, but it would seem that this was no longer the generally received opinion. The mantle of respectability that has so often stifled the spirit of prophecy was already beginning to be wrapped around the Society of Friends.
Partly to guard against the danger of enthusiasm unchecked by any other than an individual sense of responsibility, partly to express the collective relationship of the Quaker Community to its preachers or "Public Friends," the practice had grown up that all printed literature of a religious character issued by Quaker writers should be first submitted to the judgment of their fellows for counsel and, if need be, for correction, by being brought before a meeting consisting of the Quaker ministers and elders able to attend it. This was held at regular intervals on the second day of the week and was known as "the Second day morning meeting" or "the morning meeting."
This body, whose minutes from its origin are still extant at Devonshire House, though possessing only a moral authority, came to exercise before long a very careful censorship over Quaker literature, and not infrequently tracts offered to it for printing, (in many cases doubtless at the general expense), were returned to their authors for correction, or after perusal by a committee were judged unsuited for publication and laid aside.
To this Meeting naturally fell the important task of editing for the press the numerous papers which George Fox left behind him, many of which he had expressly desired should be published, and chief among them the "Great Jornall" which he had prepared with the object of giving a faithful record of his public ministry and religious experience.
There can be little doubt that the quiet years from 1675 to 1677 which he spent at Swarthmore Hall were largely utilized for gathering together scattered manuscripts, and for completing up to date this unique religious autobiography, which is supposed to have been begun during his last long imprisonment in Worcester jail in 1673-74, when his son-in-law and fellow prisoner Thomas Lower acted as his scribe. The fact that full notes of Fox's two trials at Lancaster, based on verbatim reports, occur in The Journal, corroborates the view that it was compiled in its present form at Swarthmore Hall.
The tradition that The Journal was originally dictated in Worcester jail is supported by the large number of documents relative to George Fox's trial and imprisonment there which are included in the original manuscripts.
The Journal proper ceases shortly afterwards, leaving Fox at Swarthmore Hall, and in one of the papers which follow occurs the phrase, "and still the Lord's truth is over all and His seed reigns and His truth exceedingly spreads, unto this year 1676." There were doubtless a number of short notes and letters which Fox's editor afterwards made use of, in preparing The Journal for the press, which have not been preserved, but it is to be regretted that for the sake of uniformity he considered it desirable to throw the record of Fox's later years into the form of narrative written in the first person, as he had done in the case of the documents from which the part of The Journal dealing with Fox's visit to America is compiled. Readers of the printed Journal must almost always have observed the marked falling off of interest in the last part of the second volume; and have felt the absence of the little vivid touches which light up the earlier pages. We now see that this later portion is not Fox's own work in the sense that the earlier pages are, though it gives a useful summary of the activities of his later life: The Journal proper closes in 1675a. It is matter for great regret that the manuscript as we now have it lacks the opening pages, giving the account of George Fox's earlier years, and it is not too much to hope that some day these may yet be recovered; but in spite of this loss the new material provided by the portions of the manuscript omitted in previous editions is of great interest.
a It may also be noted that the Short Journal closes in 1664, when Fox had been about a year in Lancaster jail.
It must not be supposed that The Journal as we know it from previous printed editions was prepared without much forethought, and extant records show how great was the care taken in its first publication.
It was needful that the material which George Fox had provided should be carefully edited, for the various manuscripts contained a certain amount of repetitions, while here and there persons were referred to, the mention of whose names might cause offence to living people. In 1685 Fox himself had made careful provision for the editing of his papers and for the putting together of his "Great Jornall" and other works, noting that there were "many errors and mistakes in the printing and writing," which might be amended. By subsequent dispositions he made further provision for carrying out this intention, bequeathing his books and papers to his stepchildren William and Sarah Mead and Thomas Lower.
The Morning Meeting had been charged by a posthumous letter of George Fox with the duty of carrying on his correspondence on religious matters with Friends in different parts of the world, and this doubtless gave it additional influence in other ways. Soon after his death the Meeting began to prepare a collection of letters and testimonies concerning Fox and to collect his letters and manuscripts from different parts of the country. On the 14th of 1 mo. 1691/2 a memorandum is entered on the minutes of the Meeting, "That it be considered and enquired into what is done and is to be done relating unto G. ffox's books and Papers." The Meeting had evidently already arranged for the editing of these, as at the next sitting (4. ii. 1692) occurs the in the minutes thusly: "Steven Crisp is desired to write unto Thomas Ellwood to have an Answer from him agst ye next Meeting how ye Case of G. F.'s papers stand. And Whether a part may not he sent up for "friends here to peruse and put in print while ye other is doeing." The following week appears the entry: "Two Letters from Tho. Ellwood to Steven Crisp relateing to dear G. ffox's Journall giving an Account he hath Transcribed about 200 sheets and hath spent more time in perusall and comparing then writing, by reason whereof he hath gott no further then 1666, And desires to know whether he shall bring up what is done now or at ye Yearly Meeting. Ye latter is agreed to because he cannot goe forward if he send ym up. S. Crisp is desired to answer him and request him to be here some dayes before the Yearly Meeting and bring up with him by Coach or otherwise the writings.”
Thus we learn that the main work of transcribing and preparing for the press the various manuscripts of which the printed Journal is composed had already been entrusted to Thomas Ellwood, doubtless with the concurrences of George Fox’s legatees. The choice was a wise one; one of Milton’s old pupil and friend was a man of considerable learning, and at his counry home at Hungerhill, near Beaconsfield, in Buckinghamshire, he was able to give his time uninterruptedly to his task. It was no light work, involving as it did the perusal of a mass of papers and the piecing together of the disjointed documents out of which the later part of The Journal is composed. The Morning Meeting decided on the title of the work on the 6th of 4 mo. 1692, when it was entered in the minutes, the entry being as follows:
“The History of G. F.’s Journall and Progress in ye Lord’s Work -- Entitled the Everlasting Gospell Preacht Againe And Truth’s Progress in the latter dayes Powerfully Witnessed – In The great Labours Travells Tryalls and Sufferings, of the Antient ffaithful Servant and Minister of Christ, George ffox the Elder who departed this Life in Peace, ye 13th day of the 11th mo. 1690/1."
Then the following Scripture text quoted on the printed title page and entry concludes, “Agreed to be put to the Press as soon as Conveniently may be.”
The year 1694 came and still the work was not ready for the printed; the Meeting minutes its concern at the delay, and Friends are deputed to communicate with William Mead to urge the need of greater expedition; Mead was apparently unwilling to have the sheets read by the Meeting until his brother-in-law, Thomas Lower, should be in London; possibly wishing Lower, as Fox’s original amanuensis, to have the last word in deciding the final form of the transcript a. At length the work was ready for perusal, and on 12th of 4 mo. 1693 we find the entry:
"The ffriends desired by G. ff. to View his Journall are desired to meet this Afternoon at this place about fourth hour to prepare it for the view of this 2d dayes meeting."
Then follows: 26th of 4 mo. 1693---" The Reading of G. ffox's Journall
to be begun about 8th hour in the forenoon next 5th day
and this Meeting Adjourns till then for the said Service.”
On the 8th of 11 mo. 1693/4 George Whitehead reports to the Meeting that the perusal of The Journal for the press is complete. William Mead, who conducts the negotiations with the printer, advancing the necessary money to commence the work, is however dissatisfied with William Penn's preface, and a special meeting has to be summoned to which he and Thomas Lower are invited, to read the preface and decide whether it is to be printed with The Journal, or with a subsequent volume of Fox's works. After several attempts at conference however the committee had to report: "Wm Meade Refuses to hear it Read being Resolved it shall not be printed with the Journall If he can help it. It's therefore agreed to deliver it to the Author and Informe him it may be printed weh was the Agreemt of this meeting formerly."
William Mead continued to be somewhat difficult to deal with, for when in a month or two's time difficulty arose as to the inaccuracy of the narrative of Ellen Fretwell and it seemed desirable to reprint the page containing it, he said he did not consider it his duty to do any more and would leave it to Friends to do as they wished.
It is probably due to his objection to the printing of Penn's preface with The Journal that a number of printed copies lack that noble introduction, which gives us perhaps the most striking and attractive picture of Fox left us by any of his contemporaries.
It will be seen from these records that a series of editorial committees were concerned in the issue of The Journal, but the later minutes of the Morning Meeting show much more elaborate provision for the collection and revision of George Fox's doctrinal works and epistles which were later issued as two volumes supplementary to The Journal. In their case the responsibility is apparently much more widely shared, the main editorial work of The Journal having clearly lain with Ellwood alone. In comparing, as we are now able to do, the largest section of the original manuscript with the first printed edition, it is possible for us to realize how difficult and responsible the task was that fell to Ellwood's pen. Compression and abbreviation were a necessary part of that task, and on the whole well carried out: the portrait which the manuscript Journal gives us is essentially the same as that of the printed edition, yet, in comparing the two, one is sensible that here and there the cautious care of the editor has removed some rough vigorous touch; the whole is quieter, a shade less naive, a shade nearer the conventional. Sometimes some picturesque detail which Fox had recorded disappears as unnecessary, sometimes some incident or saying which contemporaries might misunderstand is omitted; occasionally some obvious slip is corrected, and in other cases fear of political or theological misunderstanding has led to longer passages being omitted. Ellwood was evidently anxious to avoid giving occasion of attack to opponents and accordingly omits various details which might be taken to be proofs of fanaticism; instances of this are the mention of James Nayler being "under a fast fourteen days" (i. 51), Richard Hubberthorn's great fast (i. 105), Fox's "Sounding the day of the Lord" alone on the top of Pendle Hill (i. 40), and on another occasion lying out in the fields all night (i. 114), and again Solomon Eccles fasting for seven days on the voyage to America (ii. 184). 1
Probably a like desire to avoid offence led to the omission of such a passage as Fox's severe comment on the contrast between the conduct of the Independents, Baptists, and Presbyterians at their first rise and after they came into a position of authority during the Commonwealth (ii. 1).
Ellwood's Quaker caution showed itself in frequently omitting references to the continued faith of converts which it might not have been easy to verify: such phrases as "and they died in the truth," "was convinced and stands to this day," "who remains a Friend to this day," accordingly were removed by him from his printed version, and for similar reasons he omits the report of the manner of the death of John Love at Rome at the hands of the ecclesiastical authorities (i. 183). A similar prudent judgment probably is accountable for the omission of several records of "Judgments" upon opponents, such as the persecuting Lord Mayor of whom George Fox wrote "and his name became a stink and the Lord cut him off" (ii. 162), or his occasional severe comments on the Puritans' abuse of their opportunities "in what they called their gospel times" (i. 237), and his belief that they would renew their persecutions if they had the power, though he gleefully adds, "But old Cain's sword and arms were taken out of his hand and Judas had lost his bag" (i. 390).
Ellwood was, it may be, too cautious in omitting more than one interesting passage which might be thought to savor of superstition, some of which may be considered evidence of an abnormal imagination, but one or two of which are surely instances of the remarkable psychic powers of spiritual insight and sympathy which we find elsewhere at work in George Fox's life. The most striking of all these passages is perhaps what follows his outburst of indignation, when a prisoner in Derby jail in 1651 at the way in which men were put to death for thefts of cattle and money: "and two men suffered for small things: and I was moved to admonish them for their theft, to encourage them concerning their suffering, it being contrary to the law of God; and a little after they had suffered their spirits appeared to me as I was walking, and I saw the men were well."
It is interesting to note that as The Journal was first written the words "to admonish them for their theft" were not part of the narrative; they were doubtless added later to avoid a misunderstanding of the encouragement Fox had given to these poor victims of the law. Sometimes the insight given to George Fox was more painful in character, as when he, "saw a dog like nature" in the Scottish clergyman near Staithes (i. 24), or when, as he was returning across the channel from Ireland where he had narrowly escaped arrest, he says, "but I felt the power of darkness 20 miles afterwards, as I was at sea" (ii. 47). It was more cheering "When on his American Journeyings, as he spied from his coasting vessel a strange sail which filled the sailors with alarm," he was able to say, "I felt from the Lord she was not an enemy and would do us no hurt" (ii. 247), and so too on the voyage home was cheered by a vision and intimation of like purport (ii. 254).
At another time the premonition was a warning of coming danger, as when he records upon a journey in 1656: "I then felt and saw I was a prisoner about 10 miles before I came to Ives where we was taken" (i. 208). Sometimes the premonition concerned the public good rather than his own, as when he notes that in the year 1657 he "saw General Monk that he was as a man that bowed under O: P: [Oliver, Protector] and had a covering over him; and take away that covering and then he was the man as he was before: as he did fulfill it in a few years after" (i. 302, 303).
If Ellwood felt it wisest to omit such passages we cannot be surprised that he should have done the same with one or two curious dreams or visions recorded by Fox; his vision of the spiritual nature of the New Jerusalem during his long illness in 1671, with his warning vision during the same illness: "So in my deep misery I saw things beyond words to utter, and I saw a black coffin, but I passed over it" (ii. 169), and the still more curious dream or vision about the same period, of the woman buried in a vault with treasure beside her (ii. 175). We note that several cases of healing following Fox's ministrations are omitted by Ellwood, amongst them two cases of mad women brought back to sanity (i. 140), and another of a child "grown almost double" restored to normal life (i. 140, 141). One curious popular belief which Fox records, his editor also omitted: "and it was a noted thing generally amongst people that when I came still I brought rain, and it had been so for many years," ... "and the like observation and expectation they have beyond the seas: when there is a drought they generally look for the Quakers' general meetings for then they know they shall have rain: and as they receive the truth and become fruitful unto God they receive from Him their fruitful seasons also" (i. 273) .
Several of the most interesting passages in the manuscript Journal omitted in the printed editions have been made known by the remarkable series of etchings to illustrate them made by Mr. Robert Spence, the present owner of the manuscript.
In a number of cases somewhat naive records of the effect produced by Fox upon his hearers are suppressed by his editor: instances of this are such an exclamation as "this man is a pearl" (i. 340), or the trooper's statement, "here is more people flock after him than are about my Lord Protector's Court" (i. 355), or the outcry of the people as Fox is arrested in Gracechurch Street: "have a care of him, he is a princely man" (ii. 156); the statement of the old Justice in Barbados that "George Fox was a very famous man" (ii. 233); the woman who called out "he is a worthy man and worthy to be heard" (ii. 238), and Elizabeth Trelawney who said with a loud voice, "George is over all" (i. 204). Beside these passages we may also place the outcry of the crowd of hostile undergraduates at Cambridge as Fox rode unhurt through them: "O said they, he shines, he glisters" (i. 190).
At an earlier page Fox had noted: "and as I was walking I heard old people and work people to say: he is such a man as never was, he knows people's thoughts" (1. 50); as later he records of the progress of Quakerism in Monmouthshire: "the very Justices said never such a man came into their country, that had reconciled neighbor to neighbor and husband to wife, and turned many people from their loose lives" (ii. 120).
Possibly Ellwood may have felt that in passages like these an opponent would see something of egotism, and it may have been a like feeling which made him omit Fox's description of the book confiscated by the authorities while in the printer's hands: "It was such a teaching book as hardly was ever given forth" (ii. 7), or his record of Edward Burrough having said upon his death bed: "If he had been but an hour with me he should have been well" (ii. 9).
Elsewhere Ellwood's hand has smoothed away some trait of what looked like hardness, as when Fox had written "my natural father" (i. 157) or "my father in the flesh," which Ellwood simply prints as "my father" in both cases.
Opponents had scoffed at Fox's leathern dress, and probably on this account Ellwood omitted such passages as that in which a captain asked Fox in jest where his leathern breeches were: "and I let the man run on awhile, and at last I held up my coat and said here is my leather breeches which frightens all priests and professors" (i. 52), or where again he says: "sometimes they would turn up my coat and see for my leather breeches and then they would be in a rage" (i. 170).
The account given by Fox of the reason for his marriage to Margaret Fell (ii. 154), and of the "jumble in some minds about it," may well have been omitted out of respect for her feelings, and possibly some thought of avoiding misunderstanding led the good editor also to omit the reference to Margaret Fell and her daughters joining Fox on his journey for a short time in 1663 (ii. 34), and her daughters Sarah and Susanna meeting him on another journey in 1669 (ii. 135).
For many omissions there appears to have been no other reason than the desire of abbreviation, though this sometimes involved the loss of a picturesque touch, as when the jailer at Carlisle beats Friends" as if he had been beating a pack of wool" (i. 126), or where the informer in 1670 would not tell his name when challenged, "but began to gnaw his fingers ends" (ii. 157), or again the outcry of opponents of silent Quaker meetings: "look at these people sets mumming and dumming.” (ii.28)
On the other hand Ellwood had necessarily to omit many letters, some of which though of much interest were neither written by or to Fox, but to Margaret Fell by various hands, thus incidentally providing further evidence of The Journal having been compiled at Swarthmore Hall. Of the omitted letters by Fox the chief interest attaches to those written to Cromwell, which were probably passed over by Ellwood on political grounds; indeed the reader would probably have been content had the editor sacrificed many of the letters which he actually printed, and given us in exchange such brief incidents as that in which George Fox, who did not take tobacco, showed his "unity with the creation" by putting to his mouth the young smoker's pipe (i. 44); or where the bailiff's son at Scarborough came to dispute and spoke Hebrew to him at which, not the least daunted, Fox "spoke in Welsh to him and bid him fear God," adding for us the information" who after "became a pretty Friend." Or again such a curious incident as the omen of the owl, preceding the death of the Droitwich informer (ii. 168), or the story of the encounter between the Quaker youth and the drunken Sir Geoffrey 'Shakerley (ii. 135, 136).
There remain to be dealt with certain passages which were probably omitted by Ellwood to avoid political or theological misunderstandings and controversies.
Amongst the former may perhaps be included the interview between Fox and Sir Harry Vane at Raby Castle in 1657 (i. 312-316), which shows that Fox recognized that Vane's views at an earlier date had been more in harmony with his own (i. 313). But the most interesting are undoubtedly the series of references to Oliver Cromwell which Ellwood felt it best to omit. These passages make it quite clear that George Fox looked to Cromwell in the Protector's early years with trust and sympathy, as sent in the Providence of God for the good of the nation, and that this earlier trust was replaced by a feeling of disappointment and estrangement.
Possibly the letter immediately following that addressed "to the heads and general of the army from G. F. 1652," which begins, "Friend of the truth of God and owner and lover of it, whom God hath enlightened," was addressed to Cromwell: it is without endorsement, but its contents and the context both point to this destination.
In 1654 we find Fox sending Cromwell a brief note warning him of danger from seeming friends (i. 160): followed by the remarkable "testimony" against carnal weapons which to orthodox readers both in the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries seemed proof of a disordered mind or of a claim which they deemed blasphemous (i. 161, 162). The confidence which Fox at this time set in Cromwell is shown by another letter of the same year in which he addresses him as "Dear Friend," giving him spiritual counsel and holding forth the prospect that the Protector shall "have to throw down the rubbish and quell all the bad spirits under" his "dominion," while Cromwell is promised the abiding blessing of the peace of God if he will obey the Divine guidance (i. 163-165). A little later came the interview with the Protector which Ellwood printed almost without abridgement, though he omitted the subsequent comment of Captain Drury to Fox, "and my Lord says, he says, you are not a fool; and said he never saw such a paper in his life as I had sent him before by him" (i. 168).
When George Fox writes 'again to Cromwell in 1656, "concerning doffing hats," the changed feeling is evident: he still speaks with reverence of Cromwell's position, as he bids him "come down to the witness of God in thee," but he is now addressed not as "Dear Friend" but simply as "Friend" (i. 217-219). Fox's subsequent letter "to Oliver Cromwell and the Parliament" of 1656 contains no suggestion that their power did not rest upon a just foundation, but is a prolonged appeal to them to judge aright and to avoid persecution (i. 263-266). The tone of the letter however is one of warning, and Fox records before he inserts it "and then O: P: began to harden and several friends was turned out of their offices of Justices and turned out of the army."
The original Journal gives in fuller detail than Ellwood's edition does the account of Fox's warning to Cromwell not to accept the offer of the crown (" and I met him in the park and told him that they that would put him on a crown would take away his life: and he asked me, what did I say: and I said again that they that sought to put him on a crown would take away his life, and bid him mind the crown that was immortal: and he thanked me and bid me go to his house,"( i. 267).
One further reference to Cromwell of a sadder nature is the passage in which Fox tells how, after the Restoration, he stood by the dishonored corpse of the great Protector at Tyburn and recalled the words of a vow of Oliver's at the time of Dunbar fight, of which we appear as yet to have no other record, that if the Lord gave him the victory he would take away tithes, "or else let him be rolled into his grave with infamy." There is little trace of George Fox's earlier feelings towards Cromwell in his grim record of the barbarous revenge of the Cavaliers: "But when the King 'Came in they took him up and hanged him: and buried him under Tyburn where he was rolled into his grave with infamy. And when I saw him hanging there I saw his word justly come upon him" (i. 385). It is a sad close to the hopes of earlier days and one cannot help feeling that the bitter memories of continual imprisonments and of the hardships suffered in a hundred jails by Quaker prisoners for conscience sake made Fox somewhat too severe on the failure of Cromwell and the Puritan leaders, though one is glad to read his words in another passage: "For we did not seek any of their places, gifts nor honors but their salvation and eternal good, both in this nation and elsewhere."
There remain to be dealt with the passages which were omitted by Ellwood to avoid theological controversy: amongst these should be also included perhaps the testimony to Cromwell already referred to, in which Fox speaks of himself as he "whom the world calls George Fox, who is the son of God, who is sent to stand a witness against all violence ... " (i. 161).
Two years earlier than this remarkable testimony of 1654 is the account of Fox's examination before Judge Fell and the Justices of Lancaster Quarter Sessions, now first published. The account was taken as Fox tells us from "an old torn book" (i. 62), which possibly may have belonged to Judge Fell himself: it was unfortunately imperfect when Fox incorporated it among the manuscripts of The Journal and has since then been still more injured, but in spite of this, it forms, with the document which follows it, a contribution of the highest importance to our knowledge of early Quakerism. It is clearly a transcript of verbatim shorthand notes of the examination of Fox on the charge of blasphemy, giving us a vivid picture of the bench of justices divided amongst themselves, Judge Fell and Colonel West friendly disposed to Fox and examining critically into the inconsistencies of the witnesses, or criticizing the legality of the charges brought against him, Sawrey and Dr Marshall eager to secure his conviction (i. 63-68). The importance of the whole document in casting light on the religious views of Fox during this formative period of Quaker history is the greater in that it represents a contemporary transcript of his words and not merely his recollection of what happened twenty three years before, written down when his views had matured and the theological position of the Quakers had become more clearly definded. The leaf which immediately follows (i. 68-70) is in Fox's own hand throughout and appears to be a contemporary answer to the charges of blasphemy brought against him.
It is interesting to note that James Nayler, who takes part in the dialogue in Court, appears to be endeavoring to insist on the reality of the divine communion with the believer in a way which foreshadows those later developments which caused such bitter trouble to himself and his friends. The danger which showed itself in James Nayler's sad story had as yet clearly not been perceived by Fox; and although he does not tell us in his Journal of his own attitude having been altered by seeing the unhappy error of his friend, it is evident that he must have been profoundly affected by It. It is hardly possible to imagine him in later years using the language of the "Testimony" of 16.52, or of this examination. It is no easy task to examine today in the dry light of scientific theology the rude and artless utterances of an intense spiritual conviction which strove to give expression to a deep inward experience. Fox was no theologian trained to analyze, to explain in scientific terms these great realities of which he was conscious. He was not primarily concerned in the intellectual expression of truth, but in its realization in practical life. His words must not be taken as an accurate intelligible symbol of his thought, but rather as flashes revealing imperfectly depths that the theologian may describe but cannot fathom. We may well imagine the horror felt by the orthodox divines of George Fox's day at this new theology, which was in fact no theology at all but the imperfect attempt to express the untranslatable spiritual truths which had taken hold of his life. Some theologians may venture to step in and boldly ascend those spiritual heights where the human and Divine meet together: others will rather fence about the slopes of Sinai,· and take off their shoes from their feet, knowing that they are very near to holy ground.
Before turning from this subject one other passage of importance should also be noticed in the account of Fox's trial at Lancaster in 1664. After the words, which Ellwood prints, "before I came to the bar [of court] I was moved to pray that the Lord would confound their wickedness and envy and set His truth over all and exalt His seed," Fox continues, "The thundering Voice said: I have glorified thee and will glorify thee again: and I was so filled full of glory that my head and ears was filled full of glory: and then when the trumpets and judges came up again they all appeared as dead men under me" (ii. 76). Evidently this was an experience which meant much more to Fox than the mere recollection of the words in the Fourth Gospel (John xii. 28, 29) applied to his own circumstances.
The last passage of this category is perhaps one which occurs in the account of the homeward voyage from America in 1673: Fox had noticed the sailors' dread of strange ships and prayed that they might see no more till they came to England, and adds: "and the Lord God said, ‘into thy hand and power I have given thee the ship, and Paul’s words came into my mind and all that is in it, that it should come safe: and I told the company that I believed in God; and when we came near home the Lord God said unto me, after he had given the ship into my hand ‘canst thou give up thyself, ship and all that is in it now to be taken by the pirates, so that all the ships that are behind in Virginia and Maryland might come safe to England?' and I freely did it. And in the twinkling of an eye, it was given again and the blessed God brought us well and safe home" (ii. 254). To be captured by Algerian pirates was the fate which only too frequently befell the seventeenth century voyager; it was characteristic of the width of heart of Fox that he was ready to meet this himself, if thereby he might save from the dreaded disaster the company of unknown travelers and seamen upon the ships behind him.
The manuscript now reproduced for the first time in its entirety through the action of the authorities of the Cambridge University Press was doubtless regarded by George Fox rather as the rough material than the final form of the work to be printed after his death, but we cannot but be grateful that through the liberality of the Syndics and the loving care of its present editor it is possible for the reader to possess an exact transcript of the original work, with all its errors uncorrected. We are able thus to form an estimate of the character of George Fox and of the history of the Society of Friends during his lifetime, which no incomplete edition would give us.
Especial importance attaches to the light thrown on the earlier years of the Quaker movement by the new material now published for the first time. It has been already remarked that the deep spiritual experience through which the early Quaker preachers passed was one to which they were unable to give an adequate intellectual expression. The opposition which they encountered from the scandalized orthodoxy, which knew of no direct revelation to the individual, but could only speak of the experience of the saints in the past, was indeed inevitable, yet it was rendered stronger by the rough and imperfect language of Fox and his friends, which their opponents failed to understand.
An unprejudiced mind like that of Judge Fell might be able to discern the essential sanity of Fox, where a clerical opponent like Dr Marshall might only see madness or blasphemy;a but we cannot wonder that there was misunderstanding. Indeed the early Quakers seem sometimes almost to have delighted, when engaged in controversy, in putting intellectual obstacles in the path of their adversaries. In the earlier years of his ministry Fox on at least two occasions asserted the Divine sonship of the believer in a way which must have given offence when left unexplained. At a later period when confronted with the danger of misconceptions as to the fundamental doctrines of Christianity as held by Friends he was willing to explain with elaborate care his theological position, as his letter to the Governor of Barbados demonstrates.
Yet there is no sign that he disapproved of his earlier position when he came to compile his Journal, and had he done so we can scarcely imagine that he would have incorporated in it his "testimony" to Cromwell and the account of his trial before the Lancaster Justices without adding some word of explanation.
In conclusion we may ask ourselves how far The Journal as we now possess it enables us to form an accurate portrait of Fox as a man. We gain many little details which hitherto were lacking; here and there we may regret a certain note of seeming harshness, or what appears to be too great an insistence on Fox's personal part in the story. But this is more than counterbalanced by the intense reality of all the narrative: it is instinct with a sense of truthfulness. Fox was not one of those great souls who do not realize their strength; he was too sincere to hide what he saw and did in any cloak of mock humility, and there is no trace of this in his Journal. But that he was truly humble of heart when face to face with the eternal realities we can realize as we read Penn's memorable words: "Above all he excelled in prayer. The inwardness and weight of his spirit, the reverence and solemnity of his address and behavior, and the fewness and fullness of his words have often struck, even strangers, with admiration .... The most awful, living, reverent frame I ever felt or beheld, I must say, was his in prayer." Nor was this inward attitude without its reflection in the ordinary intercourse of George Fox with his fellows, of which Penn wrote: "He was of an innocent life, no busy body, nor self-seeker, neither touchy nor critical.. .. So meek, contented, modest, easy, steady, tender, it was a pleasure to be in his company.”
In one other most important respect the portrait of George Fox given us in his Journal is incomplete and must be supplemented by contemporary correspondence and the evidence of those who knew him. We realize, as we read his narrative, something of the magnetic power which attracted his hearers, but only here and there have we a glimpse of that tender side of his nature of which we read elsewhere. "Dear George" he was to a wide circle of friends, both before and after his death, and even the cold minutes of the Morning Meeting use the words "dear George Fox" to express the feeling which intuitively came to men's minds at the thought of their dear elder. Hardly more than a hint is given in The Journal of his strong family affection. His mother, to whose sickbed he was journeying in 1673 when he was arrested and thrown into Worcester jail, ‘was so closely bound to her son that she did not survive the shock of the news,’ (a fact which we now learn for the first time); his stepdaughters and their husbands all loved and revered him, habitually writing of him as their father; his wife's deep affection for him is well known, while The Journal scarcely alludes to their married life, and we have to turn to private letters and papers which still survive amongst the Swarthmore manuscripts and elsewhere, for a record of the warm love which united husband and wife. We may regret that Ellwood only quotes a few of the letters written by Fox to his "Dear Heart," as he called her, and that he could find no place for any other record of their happy family life. But this was indeed inevitable from the nature of The Journal, which was never intended to be an autobiography in the full sense of the word. Yet if the picture which The Journal gives is necessarily incomplete, it is more living and convincing than many a fuller portrait of themselves which other writers have left. As we read its pages there stands out clearly before as the great, strong personality of its writer, with all his shrewdness and simplicity, his untiring devotion to his message and his power of passing it on to others. The prophet's fire, the wise man's counsel, stirring record of hardships bravely borne, quaint and homely touches of human kindness, all are here.
T. EDMUND HARVEY
The various documents reduced to print in the following pages originally formed part of the collection of manuscript accumulated and preserved at Swarthmore Hall, in Furness, North Lancashire, the home of the Fell family and also of George Fox after his marriage with Margaret Fell.
From the beginning of her connection with the Quaker movement, Margaret Fell carried on an extensive correspondence with the traveling ministers and others who needed advice or who desired to inform her of the progress of their work, and, fortunately for the historian, large numbers of these letters and of other documents were carefully laid by in the muniment [a fortified strong room] room at the Hall. At the death of Margaret Fox (formerly Fell), these Swarthmore Papers were safeguarded by the youngest daughter, Rachel, and her husband, Daniel Abraham, who resided at Swarthmore, and, later, they came into the possession of John Abraham, their only surviving child.
At the sale of the Swarthmore estate in 1759, the Papers were dispersed among various members of the family; portions of the collection are still in the possession of John Abraham's descendants and others of the family.
3. TIME AND PLACE OF WRITING.
It has generally been stated that The Journal was written in Worcester Jail, during the imprisonment of George Fox and Thomas Lower, between Tenth Month, 1673, and Twelfth Month, 1674/5. Charles J. Spence writes, "There can be little doubt that the Journal was dictated by George Fox to his son-in-law, Thomas Lower, and there is some evidence in its arrangement which would show that it was one of the many writings undertaken during the long imprisonment at Worcester, where Thomas Lower was his constant companion" (Essayist and Friends' Review, 1893). We know that the Worcester imprisonment was a time of active literary work (see ii. 311, 485). Lower wrote to his wife from Worcester, xi. 1673 ( Jan. 1673/4), "It is much as I can do to get a little spare time ... by reason of the many visitors we have, and the many papers to write" (Webb, Fells, 1865, p. 287). From internal evidence (i. 41. 2), The Journal could not have been written before August, 1674, which leaves three months only between that time and the date of Lower's departure shortly before Fox's liberation in the following February. Fox states that he was sent forth to preach the gospel "& have continnued in it this 27 yeere" (i, 250), which would place the date of this writing in 1674 or early in 1675, if we reckon 1647 as the opening year of his ministry.
It is quite possible that some preparatory work may have been done at Worcester, but, from the internal evidence, it is clear that The Journal could not have been completed before Fox's release in 1674/5.
(a) ii. 105. 3-Barbara Fleming died in April, 1675.
(b) i. 111. 2, 292-John Wilkinson died xi. 1675.
(c) ii. 312-1n the margin of a numbered page appears the date 1676, written, apparently, at the same time as the rest of the page.
(d) ii. 325-" now 1676." The Annals for the years 1649 to 1657 are written on pages numbered on, following the close of the narrative portion, but the style of Lower's hand is somewhat different.
(e) ii. 338. 3-This survey of the rise and progress of Truth appears to have been written about the same time as the narrative (the watermark of the paper is the same), and it closes with "this yeere 1676."
(f) ii. 312-The latest date of the tracts referred to here on numbered pages as written at Swarthmoor is Seventh Month, 1676 (but see ii. 312. 15).
There is no evidence of a break which might indicate a change of locale. It is not likely that Fox would have with him in Worcester the various papers referred to in the earlier portion of the narrative (i. 62, 116, 163) as then at hand. It seems, therefore, more probable, in default of any known external evidence, that the whole of the narrative portion was written at Swarthmoor during the leisure of Fox's visit there from iv. 1675 to i. 1677, when surrounded by many important personal and literary helps and in harmony with his own statement, "As many things lay upon me to Write, both for publick and private Service, I did not stir much abroad ... but when Friends were not with me spent pretty much time in writing Books and Papers for Truth's service" (printed editions).
This series of manuscripts has, according to the historical account before given, been preserved in its present condition for many years. C. J. Spence writes, "The Journal proper has only once been opened to the printer since it was originally edited for the first folio of 1694. This was in. the course of a controversy which divided the Society in the former half of the present century [the Beaconite Controversy, 1836]. Access to the manuscripts was then allowed to some of the disputants, and careful search was made for any matter calculated to impair the authority of the early Friends" (Essayist and Friends' Review, 1893). One of the above "disputants" was Elisha Bates, of Ohio, U.S.A., who issued An Appeal to the Society of Friends, in 1836 (i. 425). In an introduction to this pamphlet by Robert Benson, he states: "That they [The Journal MSS.] are genuine is a fact which admits of no doubt .... They carry with them undeniable evidence to this effect, both internal and external."
There is no doubt that the narrative portions of the manuscripts (with the exception of p. 17 to the middle of p. 20 and, perhaps, also of the lost sixteen pages) were written by Thomas Lower (1633-1720), step-son-in-law of George Fox. They are in the same hand as in many papers and letters signed by him, extant in D. and elsewhere, and it is well known that he was with George Fox in Worcester and also at Swarthmoor, near which latter place he had a residence.
The writer of the first few pages is not known, but the paper used has the same water-mark as that on which Lower continues and Lower has added to and corrected these pages. The writing on the numbered sheets was probably done at fairly consecutive periods, bearing evidence of hurry as if the matter was dictated, and then, later, these sheets received correction and addition by Lower, in a smaller and more upright style. Except in about a dozen places, by at most two contemporary hands (i. 135 n., 137 n., 182 n., 285 n., 288n., 299n.; ii. 1 n., 36n., 80n., 130n., 165n., 170n.), Lower's work has not been altered; many of the addenda documents are endorsed by Lower, and there are evidences in many of them of his corrections and additions (see e.g. i. 1. 2, 2. 1, 68. 3, 72. 1, 75. 1, 299. 1, 357. 2, 367. 1, 375. 1, 381. 5; ii. 48. 1,85.1,105. 1, 170. 3, 187.1,288.2).
Contrary to general expectation, there is very little of Fox's own writing in his Journal. One paper only was completely written' by him (i. 68. 3) and only occasionally do a few words of his appear (i. 343. 1; ii. 105. 1, 159. 1, 288. 4), but many papers and letters received his endorsement (see e.g. i. 5. 1, 68. 3, 77. 1, 116. 2, 120. 1, 178. 1, 206. 1, 239. 1, 263. 3, 301. 1, 372. 3; ii. 20. 1, 43. 1, 57. 1, 72. 1, 102. 1, 2, 159. 1, 196. 2, 256. 1, 265. 5, 268. 2, 296. 2, 309. 1, 327. 2). The only place where the handwriting of both Fox and Lower appears on the same sheet (except in endorsements) is ii. 105. 1.
Excluding autograph letters and the testamentary papers, it is computed that the two volumes contain about fifty different hand writings (thirty in one and twenty in the other). Among the writers identified are Sarah Fell, Bridget Fell, Ellis Hookes, Gervase Benson, John Stubbs, Richard Richardson, Mark Swanner. There is no appearance of modern handwriting on any of The Journal manuscripts
The Journal as here printed bears little, if any, evidence of having been preceded by any form of diary, regularly written up, although Ellwood states that Fox" himself kept a Journal" (Ellwood edition at end), but when dictating his life history Fox was, doubtless, able to avail himself of notes of travel and other documents including original letters. Memoranda in Fox's writing are preserved in D., but most of these refer to events later than 1675 and include the “Little Jornall Books” mentioned, (ii. 348). Numerous documents and letters are found among The Journal manuscripts, which were. referred to in the compilation of The Journal (see i. 63, 67, 68, 160, 299, 367, 375, 378; ii. 43, 48, 57, 60, 72, 85-89, 102, 137, 159, 176, etc.).
In addition to the above sources, there is, in D., a manuscript endorsed by Fox, and usually known as the Short Journal, which contains an orderly record of his work and suffering to the year 1664. William C. Braithwaite, in his forthcoming work, Beginnings of Quakerism, cites some passages from it and notes the similarity between these and passages in the "Great Journall."
5. PREPARATION FOR THE PRESS.
In his testamentary dispositions George Fox makes mention of ye great Jornall of my Life, Sufferings, Travills, and Imprisonments" (ii. 347), doubtless in reference to the preceding dictated narrative, and he appoints certain Friends to attend to the printing of the same. In the minutes of the Morning Meeting (the body of Friends appointed to examine MSS. [manusctipts] and approve or disapprove of the printing of the same), soon after Fox's death, we learn that the work of transcription for the press was undertaken by Thomas Ellwood, and in Second Month, 1692, Ellwood states that he "hath Transcribed about 200 sheets " and "gott no further then 1666." Two months later a minute recites the proposed title for the work-" The History of G. F.'s Journall and Progress in ye Lord's Work-Entituled The Everlasting Gospell Preacht Againe And Truth's Progress in these latter dayes Powerfully Witnessed-In The great Labours Travells Tryalls and Sufferings, of The Antient ffaithfull Servant and Minister of Christ George ffox the Elder, who departed this Life in Peace, ye 13th day of the 11th mo. 1690/1." There were many delays, however; the transcription took a longer time to finish than was anticipated and before the "copy" was committed to the printer, it was carefully read and re-read in order, as Ellwood writes, "That nothing may be omitted fit to be inserted, nor any thing inserted fit to be left out" (Barclay, Letters, p. 213; see Friends' Quarterly Examiner, 1902), so that, as William Penn put it, "It might not sound uncouth and unfashionable to nice ears." One object of the present work is to present The Journal as first written, not as smoothed and modified by Ellwood and the editorial committees. "The native greatness of Fox asserts itself convincingly through all the ruggedness of the Great Journal and if there are touches of self-importance and extravagant mystical language, we feel that they too, under the conditions of the age, are a natural part, such as we should expect to find, of his commanding personality." (W. C. Braithwaite, Beginnings of Quakerism).
Further evidence that the Spence manuscripts formed the basis of the Ellwood edition is to be found in the change of style noticeable in the latter at about the year 1675, when the "Great Journall" closes, there being from that time a preponderance of epistolary matter and mere itinerary, as to which Ellwood writes, "So five years remain still to be digested, yet being the latter part of his time they will yield less matter than the former years have done" (Barclay, op. cit. p. 213).
6. PRINTED EDITIONS.
The Journal thus edited, appeared in 1694 (see thereon ii. 109. 4, 349. 2).
Subsequent editions were brought out in England in 1709, 1765, 1827, 1836, 1852 and 1891 (with reprints in 1901 and 1902) and in America in 1800, 1808, 1831 and 1833, but the original manuscripts do not appear to have been consulted in the preparation of any of these later editions.
7. COLLATION WITH PRINTED EDITIONS.
Considerable care has been exercised in the collation of the manuscript Journal with the Ellwood version, and an attempt has been made to distinguish the matter omitted from the latter, and therefore printed for the first time, by enclosing it within brackets.
A study of these omissions enables us to classify them roughly, as follows:
Personal references to Fox, mostly laudatory: i. 1, 2, 13, 15, 20, 26, 41, 43, 50, 52, 61, 62, 107, 114, 125, 140, 162, 168, 185, 190, 204, 208, 267, 273, 274, 276, 307, 340, 355; ii. 7, 9, 22, 27, 76, 78, 98, 112, 120, 132, 147, 154156, 165-167, 169, 175, 222, 230, 232, 233, 238, 310.
Statements made, but doubted or disproved later: i. 9, 14, 39, 107, 149, 180, 181, 184, 187, 189, 190, 194, 196, 200, 201, 205, 210, 231, 242, 243, 255, 269, 308, 310, 353; ii. 33, 284
Curious customs, superstitions, statements, etc.: i. 17, 38, 108, 126, 260; ii. 9, 166, 168, 170.
Difficult readings: i. 21, 90, 157, 248, 343; ii. 104, 210, 293.
Omission of names, in some cases those of ex-Friends: i. 10, 40, 44, 56, 198, 245, 291, 308, 357, 386; ii. 3, 124, 125,133,156,158,162,169,176,197,212,262,312.
Omission of dates: i. 2, 24, 55, 139, 148, 160, 165, 180, 182, 211, 261, 317, 348, 389; ii. 10, 72, 91, 119, 222-239, 284, 285, 310.
Statements regarding persons for various reasons undesirable to print: i. 29, 41,44,51,79, 166.2, 181, 183,231, 245, 302, 343, 360, 384; ii. 1, 4, 8, 42, 162, 163, 284.
References to documents omitted from Ellwood Edition : i. 62, 79, 360; ii. 19, 24, 56, 57, 80, 84, 102, 106, 176, 262, 284 ..
References to contemporary literature: i. 197, 208, 214; ii. 3, 196, 313.
Lengthy omissions from narrative portion: i. 140 f., 285 ff., 312 ff.; ii. 135 f., 153 ff.
It must be borne in mind by those who use this edition of The Journal of George Fox that it is the reproduction in print of a certain collection of manuscripts and is not based upon editions of The Journal previously printed, and especially that the text of this edition covers the period of Fox's life from 1650 to 1675 only.
8. NOTE RESPECTING THE CALENDAR.
It may be well to mention that, until the year 1752, what is known as the Julian Calendar, under which the year began on the 25th of March, was in use in the British Isles, while other nations of Western Europe computed the year according to the Gregorian Calendar, which made the year begin on the 1st of January. For more than a century before the latter Calendar was introduced, the dates from 1 January to 24 March inclusive were often given according to both Calendars, thus-16 January, 1656/7. (But the Quakers would write 1st mo. 1656/7, leaving out the month name of the pagan god.)
Those writers who discarded the names of the months some of which had a pagan origin, and who described the months by number, began the year with March and called the whole of that month First Month, although, according to the Julian reckoning, only the last seven days formed part of the new year. Friends followed the lead of some other nonconforming bodies, hence the right understanding of this method of reckoning is essential to the student of the first hundred years of Quaker history.