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George Logan of Philadelphia (review)
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Book Reviews43 thrown into some of the wotst prisons the country has ever known, he hit back only with his tongue and his powerful personality and yet subdued his adversaries and enabled his movement to survive all persecutions. Or again: One may think of George Fox as a prig, a bigot, a crank, a religious fanatic, conceited, intolerant, ridiculous, but one must also admit that there must have been something extraordinarily attractive about him to bring out the sacrifice and devotion of such an assorted company. If he were to be judged entirely on his own writings it would be easy to appreciate the reasons for respect but hard to find why he was so greatly loved. Now we can begin to see him through other people's eyes (p. 76). The minor testimonies of Friends the author regards as niggling and unfortunate and yet he recognizes their relation to conscientiousness and to a consistent and exalted view of religion. Fox's strong points are for Vernon Noble his capacity for friendship and his earthy good sense. His achievements were his promotion of religious toleration and his skill in organizing a durable Society of Friends. It is possible that Friends themselves could give the subject no fairer treatment, for judgments about historical characters are difficult to make without undue influence from the tastes or standards of our own time. Even in the well-known controversy about the relations of Fox to Nayler do not both persons deserve some allowance on this score and not merely one or the other of them? Mr. Noble follows the current style of exonerating Nayler more than Fox. One may, of course, ask whether Fox's own Journal, the principal source for character study,is to be taken as decisive in presentday judgment about him, either favorable or unfavorable. When he reports his remarkable successes and providential escapes perhaps his modern admirers take him too literally and his modern critics set it all down to egotism. If he reports bold answers to priests and judges the modern reader can recognize them as either clever or as uningratiating and unnecessarily hostile. The Quaker reader of such a book ought not to expect an altogether rosy portrait of their founder. Perhaps he would find other features to praise, and, if honest, others also to blame. One phase of Fox this book does not attempt to evaluate: the current validity of his religious position. But here too Quaker scholars have yet to give us a really discriminating analysis. This book was published previously at London for half the price (by Elek at 21s). It was preceded by a play of the same title over the B.B.C, of which the author is a staff member. It has a remarkably good index and seven illustrations. Harvard UniversityHenry J. Cadbury George Logan of Philadelphia. By Frederick B. Tolles. New York: Oxford University Press. 1953. xx, 362 pages. $5.00 The biographer of George Logan essayed a difficult task because his subject lived his life tossed about by emotional storms conditioned by ill-health and deep-seated maladjustment. His constitutional nervous imbalance was probably exaggerated by the fact that his impressionable 44Bulletin of Friends Historical Association years were made unhappy by two bullying schoolmasters. The biographical problem, therefore, is the difficult one of depicting instability. George Logan was born to the Quaker purple. His grandfather, James Logan, close associate of William Penn, had builded his mansion, Stenton, in the midst of a prosperous countryside. His son, William, had married Hannah Emlen, of another prominent family of the Friends. By Philadelphia 's high standards, the heir to Stenton had every advantage, except a strong constitution. It was one of the fashions of the day that young men of wealth be sent to England for their education, so George crossed the sea to go to school at Worcester. This was an unfortunate move and after two years wasted or worse, under a difficult schoolmaster, the lad was allowed to come home. In Philadelphia, at the age of seventeen, he was apprenticed to a wealthy merchant. This experience was frustrating because he wanted to be a physician, yet since his older brother was...