Tuesday, April 9, 2013

handout seventeenth-century Quaker women

#1: Christopher Hill: Things were much more blurred
“The revolt within the Revolution which is my subject took many forms, some better known than others....Indeed it is perhaps misleading to differentiate too sharply between politics, religion and general skepticism. We know, as a result of hindsight, that some groups -- Baptists, Quakers -- will survive as religious sects and that most of the others will disappear. In consequence we unconsciously tend to impose too clear outlines on the early history of English sects, to read back later beliefs into the 1640s and 50s. One of the aims of this book will be to suggest that in this period things were much more blurred. From, say, 1645 to 1653, there was a great overturning, questioning, revaluing, of everything in England. Old institutions, old beliefs, old values came in question. Men moved easily from one critical group to another, and a Quaker of the early 1650s had far more in common with a Leveller, a Digger or a Ranter than with a modern member of the Society of Friends.”
-- The World Turned Upside Down: Radical Ideas During the English Revolution (New York: Penguin, 1972, 1975), 14.

#2: Bell, Parfitt and Shepherd: Quaker supervision of printing
“Whereas in the early Quaker period access to printing was organized locally by enthusiastic individuals, the post-Restoration establishment of a hierarchical organization led to close co-ordination and centralised supervision. In the 1650s women such as Priscilla Cotton, Mary Cole, Rebeckah Travers and Martha Simmonds wrote and published as and when they chose....[But] No work has been yet done to establish how [this later system of supervision] may have affected, perhaps disproportionately, women Friends, whose early enthusiasm, enactments of signs and wonders, and opposition to the increasingly male leadership and its organizational forms tended to alienate them from [George] Fox [the usually acknowledged founder of Quakerism]....”
--Maureen Bell, George Parfitt, and Simon Shepherd, A Biographical Dictionary of English Women Writers, 1580-1720 (New York: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1990) 285-6.

#3: D.W. [Dorothy White]: Millenarianism published
“And now is the last Trumpet sounded, and an Alarm is given from the Lord God Almighty, proclaiming the Day of Restoration and of mighty Salvation, and of glad-tydings unto the poor and meek of the Earth. I will blow the Trumpet of the Lord God Almighty over all Mountains; O let the Heavens rejoyce and sing, for He is come who doth glad-tydings bring, whose Glory is broken-forth, and the Heavens cannot contain it, but the Earth must hear the sound of the holy Day, and the dawning thereof expelleth the mist of the cloudy night which hath been over the Nations, and the Lord is rending the Vail of the Temple in sunder from the top to the bottom, and he is rolling away the Stone from the door of the Sepulchre where the Lord JESUS hath been laid....You Branches of the true Vine, you Spouses of the Beloved, you Daughters of Sion and Sons of Jacob, rejoyce and sing you Virgins and Followers of the Lamb.... Oh! Rejoyce forever, and sing Hallalujahs and Praises unto the God of Power, from whom this is sent and Published; and in his Dominion and Authority I do send it forth, being faithful unto what the Lord hath intrusted me with; I do not with-hold but I freely let it go: So in the Spirit of Life, and Love, and Eternal Peace, I salute all the Faithful in Heart, and in the Union of the holy Life, I bid you all Farewel./ [signed] D.W.”
--A Trumpet of the Lord of Hosts (London: “Published by me, D.W.,” 1662) [Huntington Library #94165] 5-7. See also Mary Garman and others, Hidden in Plain Sight: Quaker Women’s Writings, 1650-1700 (Wallingford, Pennsylvania: Pendle HIll, 1996)137-148.

#4: E.B. [Edward Burrough]: Going naked as a sign
“The first day of the seventh month a Friend suffered some persecution in and near Smithfield in the Fair-time, who was moved to go through the Fair naked, with a pan on his head full of fire and brimestone, flaming up in the sight of the people, crying repentance among them, and bad them remember Sodom, &c. for which some rude people did abuse him much, and took him to an Officer, but he was not committed to Prison, but the Lord delivered him out of their hands.
     About the 7th day of the month two Women were committed to Old Bridewel, for going into Pauls in the time of their worship; she one of them being moved to go at that very time into that place vvith her face made black, and her hair dovvn vviwth blood poured in it, vvhich run dovvn upon her sackcloth vvhich she had on, and she poured also some blood dovvn upon the Altar, and spoke some vvords, and another Woman being moved to go along vvith her, they vvere both taken avvay to Bridwel, vvhere they remain to this day, and vvere not yet tried for any fact, nor any evil yet justly laid to their charge.”
-- from a transcribed letter signed E.B. [Edward Burrough] in [George Fox], A brief relation of the persecutions and cruelties that have been acted upon the people called Quakers (London: “printed in the year 1662.”) [Huntington Library, #94153] 5.

#5: Phyllis Mack: polymorphous spiritual nuture and eroticism
“Francis Howgill poured himself out to George Fox: ‘I am melted I am melted with thy love it is not lawful to utter, pray for me thy dear son begotten to an inheritance incorruptable....Farewell for evermore my beloved one, [addressed] To him who is invisible out of time.’ Elizabeth Morgan wrote to Margaret Fell with the same ardor: “Fair art thou as the noon, clear as the sun, terrible as an army with banners...thy presence to me is life, joy and peace is on they right hand and on thy left pleasure forever more thy love is better than wine yea more precious to me than life.’”
--Visionary Women: Ecstatic Prophecy in Seventeenth-Century England (Berkeley: U California,1992) 156. Mack’s footenote: “Francis Howgill to G[eorge] F[ox], 1655, A.R. Barclay Collection, reprinted in Journal of the Friends Historical Society 48 (1956) 93; and Eliz[abeth] Morgan to M[argaret] F[ell] from prison in Cambridge, sent from Chester, Nov. 9, 1654, Swarthmore Manuscripts, 1/192 (II, 339). The letter was also signed by Richard Hubberthorne and James Parnell.” Mack gives examples from men to women as well.

#6: Cotton, Cole and Burrough: Women speaking in church
    “Now the woman or weakness, that is man, which is his best estate or greatest wisdom is altogether vanity, that must be covered with the covering of the Spirit...that its nakedness may not appear....Here mayst thou see...that the woman or weakness whether male or female, is forbidden to speak in the Church;...Indeed you yourselves are the women, that are forbidden to speak in the church, that are become women.”
--Priscilla Cotton and Mary Cole, To the Priests and People of England (London: For Giles Calvert, 1655) 7-8.
    “Let...[the Word] dwell richly in you, which will cut down, and wholly root out the whorish Wo-man within your selves, which is not permitted to speak in the Church,...O that the Clamberer, the Thief, and the Robber...from which the Wo-man, the unprofitable talker, the vain babbler, boasts....O Male and Female-man, wherefore keep thine to within, in thy Head, and the Head of every man is Christ Jesus:”
--Edward Burrough, An Alarm to all Flesh (London: For Robert Wilson, 1660) 7-8.
Both quoted by Phyllis Mack in “Gender and Spirituality in Early English Quakerism, 1650-1665,” in Witnesses for Change: Quaker Women over Three Centuries, eds. Elisabeth Potts Brown and Susan Mosher Stuard (New Brunswick: Rutgers, 1989) 48-9.

#7: Tace Sowle: major publisher of 17th c. Nonconformist women writers:
“For seventeenth-century women writers in particular, the importance of having access to the Quaker publishing “support system” may be surmised from the fact that Quaker women produced twice as many printed editions as any other female group. The Sowle press printed more than one hundred works by at least fourteen different women writers.”
--Paula McDowell, “Tace Sowle,” The British Literary Book Trade, 1475-1700, eds. James Bracken and Joel Silver (Briccoli Clark Layman, 1996) 256.

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