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William Penn,“ which it is fit for a Christian to have on the departure of beloved relations and friends, should be worn in the mind, which is only sensible of the loss. And the love which men have had to these, and their remembrance of them, should be outwardly expressed by a respect to their advice, and care of those they have left behind them, and their love of that which they loved.”
But mourning garments, the Quakers contend, are only the emblems of sorrow. They will therefore frequently be used where no sorrow is. Many persons follow their deceased relatives to the grave, whsoe death, in point of gain, is a matter of real joy; witness young spendthrifts, who have been raising sum after sum on expectation, and calculating with voracious anxiety the probaurable dtion of their relations' lives : and yet all these follow the corpse to the grave with white handkerchiefs, mourning habits, slouched hats, and dangling hat-bands. Mourning garments, therefore, frequently make men pretend to be what they are not.
But no true or consistent Christian can exhibit an outward apthat men,
pearance to the world, which his inward feelings do not justify.
It is not contended here by the Quakers, that, because a man becomes occasionally a hypocrite, this is a sufficient objection against any system ; for a man may be an Atheist even in a Quaker's garb. Nor is it insinuated that individuals do not sometimes feel in their hearts the sorrow, which they propose to signify by their clothing. But it is asserid to be true, mourning habits as they are generally used, do not wear them for those deceased persons only whom they loved, and abstain from the use of them where they had no esteem, but that they wear them promiscuously on all the occasions, which have been dictated by fashion. Mourning habits, therefore, in consequence of a long system of etiquette, have become, in the opinion of the Society, but little better than disguised pomp or fashionable forms.
I shall endeavour to throw some light upon this position of the Society, by looking into the practice of those of the world.
In the first place, there are seasons among these when full mourning, and seasons when
only half mourning, is to be worn.
orn. Thus the habit is changed, and for no other reason than that of conformity with the laws of fashion. The length of the time also, or season of mourning, is made to depend upon the scale of men's affinity to the deceased though nothing can be more obvious, than that men's affection for the living, and their sorrow for them when dead, cannot be ineasured by this standard. Hence the very time that a man shall mourn, and the very time that he shall only half mourn, and the very
time that he shall cease to mourn, are fixed for him by the world, whatever may be the duration of his own sorrow.
In court mourning, also, we have an instance of men being instructed to mourn, where their feelings are neither interested nor concerned.
In this case the disguised pomp, spoken of by the Quakers, will be more apparent. Two princes have perhaps been fighting with each other for a considerable portion of their reign. The blood of their subjects has been spilt, and their treasures have been exhausted. They have probably had, during all this time, no kind disposition towards one another, each con
sidering sidering the other as the aggressor, or as the author of the war. When both have been wearied out with expense, they have made peace. But they have still mutual jealousies and fears. At length one of them dies. The other, on receiving an express relative to the event, orders mourning for the deceased for a given time. As other potentates receive the intelligence, they follow the example. Their several levees, or drawing-rooms, or places of public audience, are filled with 'mourners. Every individual of each sex, who is accustomed to attend them, is now habited in black. Thus a round of mourning is kept up by the courtiers of Europe, not by means of any sympathetic beating of the heart, but at the sound as it were of the postman's horn.
But let us trace this species of mourning further, and let us now look more particularly at the example of our own country, for the elucidation of the position in question. The same gazette, which gave birth to this black influenza at court, spreads it still further. The private gentlemen of the land undertake to inourn also. You see them accordingly in the streets, and in private parties, and at public places, in their mourning ha
bits. Nor is this all. Military officers, who have fought against the armies of the deceased, wear crapes of sable over their arms, in token of the same sorrow.
But the fever does not stop even here. It still spreads, and, in tracing its progress, we find it to have attacked our merchants. Yes; the disorder has actually got upon 'Change. But what have I said? Mourning habits upon Change! where the news of an army cut to pieces produces the most cheerful countenances in many, if it raises the stocks but a half per cent.! Mourning habits upon 'Change! where contracts are made for human flesh and blood; where plans, that shall consign cargoes of human beings to misery and untimely death, and their posterity to bondage, are deliberately formed and agreed upon! O Sorrow, Sorrow, what hast thou to do upon 'Change, except in the case of commercial losses or disappointed speculation! But to add to this disguised pomp, as the Quakers call it, not one of ten thousand of the mourners ever saw the deceased prince; and perhaps ninety-nine in the hundred, of all who heard of him, reprobated his character when alive.