A QUAKER’S MEETING
Still-born Silence! thou that art
Flood-gate of the deeper heart!
Offspring of a heavenly kind!
Frost o’ the mouth, and thaw o’ the mind!
Secrecy’s confident, and he
Who makes religion mystery!
Admiration’s speaking’st tongue!
Leave, thy desert shades among,
Reverend hermits’ hallowed cells,
Where retired devotion dwells!
With thy enthusiasms come,
Seize our tongues, and strike us dumb!
Reader, would’st thou know what true peace and quiet mean; would’st thou find a refuge from the noises and clamours of the multitude; would’st thou enjoy at once solitude and society; would’st thou possess the depth of thy own spirit in stillness, without being shut out from the consolatory faces of thy species; would’st thou be alone, and yet accompanied; solitary, yet not desolate; singular, yet not without some to keep thee in countenance; a unit in aggregate; a simple in composite:—come with me into a Quaker’s Meeting.
Dost thou love silence deep as that “before the winds were made?” go not out into the wilderness, descend not into the profundities of the earth; shut not up thy casements; nor pour wax into the little cells of thy ears, with little-faith’d self-mistrusting Ulysses.—Retire with me into a Quaker’s Meeting.
For a man to refrain even from good words, and to hold his peace, it is commendable; but for a multitude, it is great mastery.
What is the stillness of the desert, compared with this place? what the uncommunicating muteness of fishes?—here the goddess reigns and revels.—“Boreas, and Cesias, and Argestes loud,” do not with their inter-confounding uproars more augment the brawl—nor the waves of the blown Baltic with their clubbed sounds—than their opposite (Silence her sacred self) is multiplied and rendered more intense by numbers, and by sympathy. She too hath her deeps, that call unto deeps. Negation itself hath a positive more and less; and closed eyes would seem to obscure the great obscurity of midnight.