— Voltaire French writer, historian, and philosopher 1694 - 1778
The History of the Quakers (1762)
Kontext: William Penn, when only fifteen years of age, chanced to meet a Quaker in Oxford, where he was then following his studies. This Quaker made a proselyte of him; and our young man, being naturally sprightly and eloquent, having a very winning aspect and engaging carriage, soon gained over some of his companions and intimates, and in a short time formed a society of young Quakers, who met at his house; so that at the age of sixteen he found himself at the head of a sect. Having left college, at his return home to the vice-admiral, his father, instead of kneeling to ask his blessing, as is the custom with the English, he went up to him with his hat on, and accosted him thus: "Friend, I am glad to see thee in good health." The viceadmiral thought his son crazy; but soon discovered he was a Quaker. He then employed every method that prudence could suggest to engage him to behave and act like other people. The youth answered his father only with repeated exhortations to turn Quaker also. After much altercation, his father confined himself to this single request, that he would wait on the king and the duke of York with his hat under his arm, and that he would not "thee" and "thou" them. William answered that his conscience would not permit him to do these things. This exasperated his father to such a degree that he turned him out of doors. Young Penn gave God thanks that he permitted him to suffer so early in His cause, and went into the city, where he held forth, and made a great number of converts; and being young, handsome, and of a graceful figure, both court and city ladies flocked very devoutly to hear him. The patriarch Fox, hearing of his great reputation, came to London — notwithstanding the length of the journey — purposely to see and converse with him. They both agreed to go upon missions into foreign countries; and accordingly they embarked for Holland, after having left a sufficient number of laborers to take care of the London vineyard.