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[87] the exercises of the interior or hidden life. The contrast is like that portrayed by Woolman himself when he said that “while many parts of the world groaned under the heavy calamities of war, our habitation remains quiet, and our land fruitful.”

In Woolman, then, we have the fruits of quietism as contrasted with the fruits of controversy. Duties rather than doctrine are emphasized, and all with that air of innocent simplicity held so desirable by the Society of Friends. Because of his candour and his fervour, Woolman might be called a socialist unconscious of his socialism, except for the fact that his efforts were exerted in a private capacity, and that he offended not even those with whom he laboured-soldiers, slave owners, dealers in goods which were to be looked upon as contraband to Christianity. He accomplished his results upon the Quaker principle of natural sensibility. In marked contrast to the Calvinist principle of the depravity of the human heart, he argues upon the possibilities of the human mind towards good: --“that as the mind was moved, by an inward principle, to love God as an invisible, incomprehensible being; by the same principle it was moved to love Him in all His manifestations in the visible world.” 1

Armed with this gentle logic, he began to set down, not his programme of reforms, but a recital of certain “heavenly openings” in respect to the care and providence of the Almighty over his creatures. The first of those creatures for whom Woolman was concerned was a slave. Here there arose a conflict between the logic of compassion and the logic of commerce, for when his employer obliged him to write a bill of sale for a poor negro woman, he was much afflicted in mind. As was his wont, Woolman now began to gather reasons for his feeling of uneasiness. That which was against conscience he now finds to be against logical conviction, especially when in a journey to the Southern provinces he meets with slave owners. To their arguments in favour of fetching negroes from Africa for slaves because of the wretchedness occasioned by their intestine wars, he replies that liberty is the natural right of all men equally. But this general principle--a commonplace of the age of reason — is not so effective as one more particular:

1 Journal, p. 9.

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