, and nobles are addressed as you
. The Germans
carry this worshipful plurality to an absurd extent.
being missed by his companions on a hunting excursion, one of the noblemen asked a peasant, “Hast thou seen the prince pass this way?”
“No, my lord,” replied the peasant, “but their dog have passed.”
It was this distinction of language addressed to superiors, and to inferiors or equals, that the early Friends resisted.
The custom had life in it then, for it was merely the outward expression or form of a vital principle.
What is it now?
An inherited formality, of which few stop to inquire the meaning.
Thus have all human forms the seed of death within them ; but luckily when the body becomes dead, the inward soul or principle seeks a new form and lives again.
The Friends as a society may become extinct; but not in vain did they cast forth their great principles into everlasting time.
No truth they uttered shall ever die; neither shall any truth that you or I may speak, or express in our lives.
Two centuries after William Penn
brought indignation upon himself by saying “thou” to the Duke
, the French
revolutionists, in order to show that they were friends of equality, wrote in their windows, “In this house we ‘ thou ’ it.”
And this idea, dug up by the friends from the ashes of early Christianity, has in fact given rise to the doctrine of “spiritual brotherhood,” echoed and reechoed from Priestley