2. His estimate of the worth of
man made him a reformer. In society as he found it men were often
treated more as things than as persons. For petty offenses they were
hung, and if they escaped this fate they were put into prisons where
no touch of manís humanity was in evidence. In the never-ending
wars the common people were hardly more than human dice. Their worth
as men was well nigh forgotten.
Trade was conducted on a system of
sliding prices ó high for this man, low for some other. Dealers
were honest where they had to be; dishonest where thy could be. The
courts of justice were extremely uncertain and irregular, as the
pages of this journal continually show. Against every such crooked
system which failed to recognize the divine right of man George Fox
set himself. He himself had large opportunities of observing the
courts of justice and the inhuman pens which by courtesy were called
But he became a reformer, not to
secure his own rights or to get a better jail to lie in, but to
establish the principle of human rights for all men. He went calmly
to work to carry an out-and-out honesty into all trade relations, to
establish a fixed price for goods of every sort, to make principles
of business square with principles of religion. By voice or by
epistle he called every judge in the realm to "mind that of
God" within him.
He refused ever to take an oath,
because he was resolved to make a plain manís "yea"
weigh as heavy as an oath. He was always in the lists against the
barbarity of the penal system, the iniquity of enslaving men, the
wickedness of war, the wastefulness of fashion and the evils of
drunkenness, and by argument and deed he undertook to lead the way
to a new heroism, better than the heroism of battlefields.
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