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Notes and Documents THE HORIZON OF FOX'S EARLY VISIONS By Henry J. Cadbury When George Fox, about 1675 or 1676, was dictating his Journal for the year 165 1, this was what he reported of his journey after passing out of York: "And I saw towards Cleveland there was a people had tasted of the power of God, and I saw then there was a seed in Holland and that God had people there." A contemporary hand, if not the same hand, inserted two expressions in the last part of the sentence so that it read: "and I saw then there was a seed in Holland in that country and that God had humble people there." Now "country" often means in the writings of this period "county." And there are in Lincolnshire near the Wash and in other English counties districts called Holland, but none, I believe, near Cleveland nor anywhere in Yorkshire. Norman Penney in his edition of the original manuscript of the Journal (1911) gives a footnote: "The district of that name in Lincolnshire."1 Thomas Ellwood, on the other hand, for reasons that can only be guessed, left out in his edition of the Journal published in 1694 the words "in Holland," and so the passage came down until modern times, as for example in the editions of Norman Penney (1924) and John Nickalls (1952). Probably Ellwood did not know that, four years later than the Journal, the Epistles of George Fox would be published, including one written at Swarthmore, 2 September 1676 to Friends in Holland, including the sentence: "The Lord hath a great people to come out in those parts which I saw in 165 1."2 We do not have any early manuscript copy of this epistle, but that there is no error in the ascription "to Holland" in the sense of the continental country, is proved by the ten names of known Dutch Friends preserved from the original address: "Dear Friends, Benjamin Furly, Aarent Sonmans, Sind Johnson, Pieter 1 Cambridge Journal, I, 21. 2Epistles, 1698, No. 337. 30 Notes and Documents31 Hendricks and his wife, Jan Claus [etc.}."3 1 find it impossible to believe that the Epistle and the Journal refer to different visions or that the area mentioned is other than the continental nation.4 There are undoubtedly other instances in Fox's writings of this period of recollection of earlier insights, especially if one recalls that what he saw included the rejection of his message or acceptance of it and later apostasy. Thus in May 1677 at Yearly Meeting in London he testified: And now I saw as to the priests that they were wholly in darkness and never came so far as a Core, as a Balaam ; these went out of their habitations and were deceivers. The serpent went out of truth. They lead from the Teacher, they lead from God Almighty. I saw this in 1648 how far many might come; and in 1649 abundance were convinced, and about 1650 many turned from the truth when sufferings and trials came and then prophesied my downfall. Then I was put in close prison.5 According to two statements made by Fox some twenty-five years later, it was his clear recollection that in 1651 he had an opening or vision concerning a seed or humble people across the sea in Holland. The month is not given, but it is evidently well before the vision from Pendle Hill in May 1652. The itinerary in these months is given in the Journal and is sketched in The Beginnings of Quakerism. The vision from Pendle Hill from which one could see the Irish Sea was preceded by a vision from near the Yorkshire edge of the North Sea at or en route to Staithes. Nothing is said here of a mountain, as at Pendle Hill later, or still later, in 1657, at Cader Idris near Dolgelly ("Dalgelthly"). Here he says that from the hillside he could see "a great way."6 Obviously such 3 Annual Catalogue of George Fox's Papers (original manuscript), 11OF. Fox himself went to Holland first the following year, but knew these names by correspondence. 4 These...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1934-1504
Print ISSN
0033-5053
Pages
pp. 30-34
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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