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necessary, to particular meetings, suited to the exigencies of their cases; and certificates are granted to members on various occasions.
In transacting this, and other business of the society, all members present are allowed to speak. The poorest man in the meeting-house, though he may be receiving charitable contributions at the time, is entitled to deliver his sentiments upon any point. He may bring forward new matter. He may approve or object to what others have proposed before him. No person may interrupt him, while he speaks. The youth, who are sitting by, are gaining a knowledge of the affairs and discipline of the society, and are gradually acquiring sentiments and habits, that are to mark their character in life. They learn, in the first place, the duty of a benevolent and respectful consideration for the poor. In hearing the different cases argued and discussed, they learn, in some measure, the rudiments of justice, and imbibe opinions of the necessity of moral conduct. In these courts they learn to reason. They learn also to hear others patiently, and without interruption, and to transact business, that may come before them in maturer years with regularity and order.
I cannot omit to mention here the orderly manner in which the Quakers, conduct their business on these occasions. When a subject is brought before
them, it is canvassed to the exclusion of all extraneous matter, till some conclusion results. The clerk of the monthly meeting then draws up a minute, containing, as nearly as he can collect, the substance of this conclusion. This minute is then read aloud to the auditory, and either stands or undergoes an alteration, as appears, by the silence or discussion upon it, to be the sense of the meeting. When fully agreed upon, it stands ready to be recorded. When a second subject comes on, it is canvassed, and a minute is made of it, to be recorded in the same manner, before a third is allowed to be introduced. Thus each point is settled, till the whole business of the meeting is concluded.
I may now mention that in the same manner as the men proceed in their apartment on this occasion, the women proceed in their own apartment or meeting also. There are women-deputies, and womenclerks. They enter down the names of these deputies, read the minutes, of the last monthly meeting, bring forward the new matter, and deliberate and argue on the affairs of their own sex. They record their proceedings equally. The young females also are present, and have similar opportunities of gaining knowledge, and of improving their judgments, and of acquiring useful and moral habits, as the young
It is usual, when the women have finished the business of their own meeting, to send one of their members to the apartments of the men, to know if they have any thing to communicate. This messenger having returned, and every thing having been settled and recorded in both meetings, the monthly meeting is over, and men, women, and youth of both sexes, return to their respective homes.
In the same manner as the different congregations, or members of the different meetings, in any one division of the county, meet together, and transact their monthly business, so other different congrega tions, belonging to other divisions of the same county, meet at other appointed places, and dispatch their business also. And in the same manner as the business is thus done in one county, it is done in every other county of the kingdom once a month.
Quarterly court or meeting-constitution of this meeting-one place in each county is now fixed upon for the transaction of business-this place may be different in the different quarters of the year-deputies from the various monthly meetings are appointed to repair to this place-nature of the business to be transacted-certain queries proposed-written answers carried to these by the deputies just mentioned -Queries proposed in the womens meeting also, and answered in the same manner.-
THE quarterly meeting of the Quakers, which
comes next in order, is much more numerously attended than the monthly. The monthly, as we have just seen, superintend the concerns of a few congregations or particular meetings which were contained in a small division of the county. The quarterly meeting, on the other hand, superintends the concerns of all the monthly meetings in the county at large. It takes cognizance of course of the concerns of a greater portion of population, and, as the name implies, for a greater extent of time. The Quaker population
of a (z) whole county is now to assemble in one place. This place, however, is not always the same. It may be different, to accommodate the members in their turn, in the different quarters of the year.
In the same manner as the different congregations in a small division of a county have been shewn to have sent deputies to the respective monthly meetings within it, so the different monthly meetings in the same county send each of them, deputies to the quarterly. Two or more of each sex are generally deputed from each monthly meeting. These deputies are supposed to have understood, at the monthly meeting, where they were chosen, all the matters which the discipline required them to know relative to the state and condition of their constituents. Furnished with this knowledge, and instructed moreover by written documents on a variety of subjects, they repair at a proper time to the place of meeting. All the Quakers in the district in question, who are expected to go, bend their direction hither. Any person travelling in the county at this time, would see an unusual number of Quakers upon the road directing their journey to the same point. Those who live farthest from the place where the meeting is
(2) I still adhere, to give the reader a clearer idea of the discipline, and to prevent confusion, to the division by county, though the district in question may not always comprehend a complete county.