Home  »  The Journal of John Woolman  »  The Death of John Woolman

John Woolman. (1720–1772). The Journal of John Woolman. The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.

The Death of John Woolman

JOHN WOOLMAN died at York, England, October 7, 1772. His last days are memorialized in the following extract from “The testimony of Friends in Yorkshire at their Quarterly Meeting, held at York the 24th and 25th of the third month, 1773, concerning John Woolman, of Mount Holly, in the Province of New Jersey, North America, who departed this life at the house of our Friend Thomas Priestman, in the suburbs of this city, the 7th of the tenth month, 1772, and was interred in the burial-ground of Friends the 9th of the same, aged about fifty-two years:
“THIS our valuable friend having been under a religious engagement for some time to visit Friends in this nation, and more especially us in the northern parts, undertook the same in full concurrence and near sympathy with his friends and brethren at home, as appeared by certificates from the Monthly and Quarterly Meetings to which he belonged, and from the Spring Meeting of ministers and elders held at Philadelphia for Pennsylvania and New Jersey.   1
  “He arrived in the city of London the beginning of the last Yearly Meeting, and, after attending that meeting, traveled northward, visiting the Quarterly Meetings of Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire, and Worcestershire, and divers particular meetings in his way.   2
  “He visited many meetings on the west side of this country, also some in Lancashire and Westmoreland, from whence he came to our Quarterly Meeting in the last ninth month, and though much out of health, yet was enabled to attend all the sittings of that meeting except the last.   3
  “His disorder, which proved the small-pox, increased speedily upon him, and was very afflicting, under which he was supported in much meekness, patience, and Christian fortitude. To those who attended him in his illness, his mind appeared to be centred in Divine love, under the precious influence whereof we believe he finished his course, and entered into the mansions of everlasting rest.   4
  “In the early part of his illness he requested a Friend to write, and he broke forth thus:   5
  “‘O Lord my God! the amazing horrors of darkness were gathered around me and covered me all over, and I saw no way to go forth; I felt the misery of my fellow-creatures separated from the Divine harmony, and it was heavier than I could bear, and I was crushed down under it; I lifted up my hand and stretched out my arm, but there was none to help me; I looked round about and was amazed. In the depth of misery, O Lord! I remembered that thou art omnipotent, that I had called thee Father, and I felt that I loved thee, and I was made quiet in thy will, and I waited for deliverance from thee; thou hadst pity upon me when no man could help me; I saw that meekness under suffering was showed to us in the most affecting example of thy Son, and thou taught me to follow him, and I said, Thy will, O Father, be done.’   6
  “Many more of his weighty expressions might have been inserted here, but it was deemed unnecessary, they being already published in print.”   7