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64Quaker History concern for others, as evidenced by Morris' donating much of her harvests to charities in her final years. Food and gardeninghistorian Clarissa F. Dillon's essay takes bare-boned entries and shows they form an "exceptional picture ofplants and practices" (52) of a working garden. Morris grew vegetables and herbs (like many Quaker women, she was noted for her healing abilities) and maintained careful (albeit brief) records of her efforts. Though Morris' garden was by no means typical, Dillon is able to use it as a starting point to saliently discuss gardening practices of the period. Webster and Dillon's essays, along with a helpful glossary and discussion of individual plants, make this slight book valuable to both historians of the period and of gardens. Timothy CrumrinConner Prairie Museum A Biographical Dictionary ofIrish Quakers. By Richard S. Harrison. Dublin: Four Courts Press, 1997. 123 pp. Bibliography, index. Cloth. "Modern" Irish history can be said to begin in the seventeenth century, when Gaelic Ireland finally gave way after a long onslaught that had begun with the Normans. As the old Gaelic order collapsed, Ireland entered into the period often called the "Protestant Ascendancy." While Quakers were a distinct minority in this new political and social reality, from the beginning they played a significant role in shaping the emerging Anglo-Irish culture. From the beginning, this small but tightly-knit Quaker community achieved remarkable commercial success, especially in the textile and baking industries. But, their greater contribution to Irish history has been more a consequence ofQuakermorality than ofcommercial acumen. At key moments in modern Ireland's contentious, too often tragic history, Quakers have consistently raised the voice of conscience, perhaps most notably during the famine which devastated Ireland during the mid-nineteenth century. Richard Harrison's dictionary offers sketches of a wide range of Irish Quakers, nearly 300 entries, mostly eighteenth and nineteenth century figures. This most democratic ofdictionaries has the charm, and some ofthe failings, of a family album compiled by a loving uncle. The pure scholar may be disappointed by the anecdotal quality of many entries, but the novelist will recognize a kindred spirit in Harrison's obvious delight in recounting the eccentricities ofhis subjects. His entries are sometimes more mini-stories than documented history. In any given entry, we are apt to hear a conversation or share in someone's private thoughts. Book Reviews65 With refreshing honesty, Harrison tells us that "in some cases the sheer delightofa story hasbeen itsownjustification forinclusion." Healso admits that some ofthe collection "reflects the quirkiness ofmy own mind." While some may wish that he had concentrated more on those Quakers who played roles on the largerstage ofIrish history, Harrison's instinctis to include "the possibly insignificant and ephemeral—but human—detail." The happy result is that we meet a delightful cast ofcharacters. Consider these lads: William Glynn, who "was said to be able to be silent in several languages." Or, Peter Doyle, who "liked reading in bed but one night fell asleep leaving a lighted candle which set fire to his bed-clothes; he was saved, but became more concerned about the shortness of life." And, Abraham Abell, who "being afraid of death he tried sleeping between two skeletons for a while"; a great reader, he "would sometimes tie one of his legs to a chair so that he would not fall asleep as he read through the night." Readers should accept Harrison's dictionary on its own terms. His portraits are almost always on a domestic scale, the human face ofhis people and the daily nature of their lives being the source of his greatest joy in recounting their lives. The village grocer is apt to be given equal treatment with those who, to quote his introduction, "might be considered more significant on some bigger scale." For example, it's not clear why there is an entry for an eleven-year old child, Joseph Harris, "whose bravely-borne and agonizing death of measles occurred in 1800." A drawback to Harrison's attraction to the anecdote is that lives lived on the larger and riskier stages tend to be blurred in with those ofpurely quirky interest. That aside, one comes away from...


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