Chapter 18 » 18.11

A memoir of William Dent (1778–1861):

The writer recalls in his school days the tall spare figure of a venerable Friend who regularly attended Yorkshire Quarterly Meetings. It was evident that he lived in the wholesome deliberate air of the country. His Quaker garb was spotlessly neat. His face spoke of indwelling light and peace with all mankind. When words came they were few and weighty. It is told how he would drive fourteen miles to a Friends’ meeting to worship. On one such occasion he rose, and said, ‘God is love’, and then sat down again. It is believed no listener forgot that sermon. He and his family were known to be of the salt of the earth; but what could a plain tenant farmer accomplish in a small village aloof from the life of the world? At the time when he settled in it several of the houses were in an insanitary condition; the labourers had no gardens to speak of, the children had no school, but there was a public house for the parents. When at four score years his call came to go up higher he left a village where every cottage was a healthy home, where all able-bodied labourers wishing for an allotment could have one. The public house had gone and a good village school had been established. For many years the schoolmistress had lived in his house. A Bible Society anniversary in his big barn was the annual festival and Eirenicon of the district. It may fairly be said that the whole neighbourhood was slowly uplifted by the coming of one quiet life into its midst.


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