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matter also, should in like manner be consulted jointly. In the special case before us, the propriety of such a course is made the more apparent by the unusual form of the information forwarded to the Monthly Meeting-being only a statement of belief that meetings were being disturbed by improper communications, thus rightly assuming it to be a doubtful case, avoid ing a direct charge, and raising a question as to the alleged disturbing matter rather than with reference to any personal one, and leaving it to the meeting to enquire into and judge for itself. Not charging any one with an offence, but calling the attention of the meeting to what is believed by them to be one, and asking it to decide. The individual concerned in it could as rightly be present during the investigation of this, as could the individual in the former case referred to by me, during the investigation of that. He would not be in attendence as an offender whose case had been carried to the meeting, but as a member to learn if any offence was being committed by himself, if what he was doing was an offence, and thus his duty in regard to it. And there would be an advantage to all concerned in his being present, for he would then certainly know th: feeling of the meeting in reference to his communications.
The offering of public communications, in good conscience, cannot be an offence in our Society, before the Monthly Meeting, which is the most executive body in the Society has decided upon them as being disturbing, for it cannot be otherwise than that the sentiment of the meeting at large, in the absence of a fixed creed, must determine the character of these communications as being offensive or disturbing before the party offering them can be charged as an offender. I believe that as the discipline now exists and in strict accordance with its letter, such a construction of it is the only fair one, and that its correct administration as being such would very much satisfy those who are clamoring for a change and would go far towards securing not only the rights of individuals but the interests of meetings and of the Society. I would never consent to occupy the position of an offender under it.
Leaving this branch of the subject, I will now refer somewhat specifically to some facts in the case before us.
I should have attended the meeting in which what was calied my case was first introduced, and should then have made this statement, but was absent from the city and had no notice that it was to be carried forward. I should have attended the next meeting and made this statement, but desiring to give no cause of offence, I yielded to the committee who claimed that I had no right to attend, as I was being treated with by them as an offender. I should have made it to them, but they told me they had nothing more to do in the matter than to advise me to be silent, and without being convinced, I again yielded and have remained silent -thus fully meeting the requirements of the committee by doing all that they claimed of me.
Our meetings in answering the queries unvaryingly report that except some slecping no unbecoming behavior is observed in them-and meetings thus reporting of themselves cannot have been disturbed by improper communications. These answers are in and by themselves a denial of the alleged facts upon which the committee claimed their proceedings to be based. They were denied by me also as not having an existence; but without resting upon this officially sustained denial as being a bar to further action, until these denied allegations were proven, I assented, on the terms proposed by the committee, to the only requirement which they made of me, and my doing so was accepted by them apparently as being satisfactory. After the lapsing of many weeks, and nothing occurring to change our relative positions, another interview was proposed by them, differing from our former one, and on conditions that were objectionable to me. Wh I have spurned dictation from any one, I have ever invited and gratefully accepted the counsel of my friends, and without declining or intending to decline this proposed interview (its suggestion and my response to it are in writing and accessible, that the facts can be demonstrated); I stated my objections, not doubting but if the committee continued to desire another interview-after being told that I had no such desire-another could be arranged to our mutual satisfaction. As they made no further suggestion, I, of course, supposed they were satisfied without another, and I certainly feel that if they were not, they were bound not to leave me with an impression that they were. Such a method of treating an offender would be far more likely to entrap che unwary than to reclaim the erring. Besides all this, the offence claimed to be charged, if it were definitely charged in accordance with the order of society, and fully proven and weil founded, would only be a disownable one when persisted in-and there is no pretence of this being my case, or that I have disturbed a meeting even by my silent presence, since our satisfactory interview. I therefore believe that there must have been some misapprehension here, as in the then condition of my case the conclusion reached by you could not possibly have been attained under any right presentation of it.*
I therefore ask it of you to re-call and review it. I do this less from personal feeling than because I believe that the continued existence of some important branches of this Society is dependent upon the proper solution of questions which are herein involved.
Respectfully your friend, New York, 11th mo., 4th, 1867.
JOHN J. MERRITT. This was followed by the following appeal, which was not read in the Quarterly Meeting, but referred to a committee of twelve. TO THE QUARTERLY MEETING OF Westbury, to be held in New York, ist mo., 23d, 1868.
Dear Friends :-In 10th month last, I was called upon at my place of business by a friend, who stated that he was one of a committee of three, who were appointed to inform me that it was the conclusion of the Monthly Meeting of New York, “that I should be separated from the Society of Friends ;” and then making some small purchases he withdrew. I have since heard from no committee of that meeting, and as this interview in its method, and the substance of the information given, was very much short of the requirements of discipline in a case of disownment, 1 addressed the next following Monthly Meeting through this committee, repeating what had been stated to me, and informing that I had received no notice of my having a right to appeal from the judgment so informally announced to me. My communication was returned to me unanswered, and, as I understood, without having been read. I readdressed it to the next Monthly Meeting, accompanying it with a notice of my intention to appeal, if necessary, to the Quarterly Meeting, and requesting a copy of the complaint against
I have not received this copy or any other response to my communication, and though in the absence through the want of action by the Monthly Meeting) of these required preliminaries, an appeal may appear to be unauthorized and not in the order of discipline, I deem it to be my duty thus to present one. And I therefore appeal to this meeting, not only from the aforesaid conclusion of the Monthly Meeting but from its subsequent disregard of the provisions of discipline in reference to disownments, if they meant this to be such.
Having no personal feeling in this matter, or any ubjection which I wish to urge to any one whom the meeting may regard as being suitable, I waive my right of being present in person during the appointment of the committee which may be selected to attend to it, and have authorized my son George to represent me before you in this part of the case, so far as the same may be necessary. Trusting that best wisdom will guide us to whatever result may be attained,
I remain your friend, New York, ist mo., 22d, 1868.
JOHN J. MERRITT. The committee of the Quarterly Meeting to whom this appeal was referred, met to the number of eight, on the evening following their appointment, and heard the parties, until all announced that they were satisfied.
The Monthly Meeting's committee and the appellant then withdrew to
Persons who are being treated with as offenders are kept in ignorance of the reports of committees in their
cases, and can only see them as they are presented to the superior meeting, in the event of an appeal.
allow the Quarterly Meeting's committee to deliberate. The committee, without coming to a conclusion, adjourned for about three months. John J. Merritt next received a notice as follows:
New York, 4th mo., 3d, 1868. JOHN J. MERRITT,
Dear riend :—The committee of the New York Monthly Meeting, in relation to the appeal wish another interview with the Quarterly Meeting's committee, and have sent each of them a notice as per copy annexed of which thou wilt please take note, Respectfully on behalf of the committee,
New York, 4th mo., 8th, 1868. The committee appointed by the Monthly Meeting of New York, in the case of John J. Merritt's appeal, propose to have another interview with the Quarterly Meeting's committee. We have notified John thereof,
Respectfully on behalf of the committee,
SAM. WILLETS. To SAMUEL WILLETS and his associate members of the Monthly Meeting's committee.
I have prepared, and shall forward to the Monthly Meeting's committee, the annexed note in response to your notice, of your purpose, to have another interview with them. Child's play of this kind might possibly be exceedingly agreeable to you, but I trust you will forego your purpose when you learn how nearly impossible it is for me (the party most in interest) to agree to it.
Respectfully, your friend,
JOHN. J. MERRITT. New York, 4th mo.,
6th, 1868. To John D. Hicks and his associate members of the Quarterly Meeting's committee.
Esteemed friends :-On seventh day I received a note from Samuel Willets, informing that the Monthly Meeting's committee in the matter of my appeal,
propose to have another interview with the Quarterly Meeting's committee.
I had, before this, made arrangements to go west with my wife, partly on account of my health-to remain some weeks—and my return before next Quarterly Meeting is very unlikely.
In the matter upon which you were appointed, the whole testimony was presented, and fully discussed before you, to the satisfaction of both parties, and the case was closed and submitted for the judgment of those who were in attendance, these having been mutually accepted as our triers and our only interview was closed by your announcing that you desired no further information.
On the requirement of the Monthly Meering's committee, your examination of the case was restricted to its technicalities, and all enquiry into its merits was carefully interdicted.
The committee of the New York Monthly Meeting acted thus, understandingly. for they were familiar with the whole matter. Two of them had been on the committee to treat with me, and two were elders who had had the case in hand for years, and ample time for preparation had been given to them after their appointment. The matter was thus fully submitted by them and myself, and so far as the Monthly Meeting's committee and this appellant is concerned, it is ended, and now rests with such of you as heard it, absentees having virtually resigned their position If there were anything obscure in our presentation of the case upon which your committee required to be enlightened, you, of course, could call us again if we were within call; but with reference to ourselves, there can be no proper re-opening of the case by either of us, or upon anything short of our joint application. But I had, and have, no desire to be merely technical, or unnecessarily exacting, and wishing the examination to be as free as possible, after reflecting upon Samuel's note, I called on him to learn if there was any new or special matter which they wished to present in addition to what had been presented
by them ; telling him if there were such, and they would acquaint me with it, I would endeavor to respond even if absent, but he said no, there was nothing in particular to offer, but they wished to open and go again into the whole matter.
Now is this reasonable, or in any degree admissible ?
I think not, and circumstanced as I am, I must protest against your assenting to it. They tell me they have nothing new to offer, and without new matter, or a sufficient reason being assigned, I do most emphatically object to the disturbing of an issue which has been so deliberately submitted to yourselves.
JOHN J. MERRITT.
Wesbury, 4th mo, 22d, 1868. JOHN J. MERRITT.
Esteemed Friend :—The Quarterly Meeting's committee in thy case, met on fourth day last, at which the Monthly Meeting's committee were present and signified their desire to make further statements concerning the case. As thee was not present, we adjourned to meet on the fourth day of our next Quarterly Meeting week (which I believe will be 7 mo., 22), at Westbury Meeting-house, at 4 P. M., at which meeting I am directed by the committee to request thy presence.
JNO. D. HICKS. 7th mo., 22d, 1868. Four members of the Monthly Meeting's committee, the appellant, and seven of the members of the Quarterly Meeting's committee, who had attended the first meeting of the committee, and some others who had not heard the statement of the meeting, met at Westbury, and overruling the protest of John J. Merritt, re-opened the case. The Monthly Meeting's committee introduced much new matter which was ruled out as irrelevant, and was not therefore responded to, and the case was closed almost upon the facts as presented at the first hearing, though the irrelevant matter must have changed the sentiments of the committee, as Samuel Willets stated as the reason for desiring a further hearing, that he had learned that the committee were not satisfied with their statement as it had been presented, and the committee now reported themselves as agreed with one exception.
John J. Merritt then sent to the monthly meeting, a note, which was rejected as being unsuitable to be read. The following is a copy of it: TO THE MONTHLY MEETING :
I should fail in exhibiting the good feeling which I desire to cherish towards you, should I withhold from you the fact (until I had otherwise given publicity to it), that I claim that your committee to attend the Quarterly Meeting with your minutes in the case of my appeal, presented the same unfairlv ; using poisoned weapons, calculated to destroy me if they failed to secure what your committee deemed to be the object of their appointment; comparing my case to that of a detected and persistent horse thief, entirely unworthy of confidence—and unscrupulously urging upon the Quarterly Meeting's committee matters having no relevance to those at issue. Under such circumstances, I must respectfully ask of you a committee of investigation. One of your committee-men says he was misunderstood and desires an opportunity to explain himself. The method suggested would furnish such opportunity, and perhaps silence all cavilling.
respect, 81b mo, 2d, 1868.
JOHN J. MERRITT. This was succeeded by the following note, which the clerk announced as being a proper one, and which was read on the suggestion of a leading Elder (who did not know its contents), that they had better read it, and let that be the end of it.
TO THE MONTHLY MEETING :
I am informed that my note of the ad inst., asking you to investigate alleged grievances committed in my case by a committee of your appointing, was rejected as being unsuitable to be read before you. I was aware that the proceedings of your meetings of Ministers and Elders are held by you to be so sacredly infallible as not to admit of any inquiry into their correctness, but I did not suppose that this interdiction would apply to or include the action of one of your ordinary committees. I therefore addressed to you a respectful communication, but if, as it was determined by you, this could not properly be read before your meeting, it could not properly have been written, and I must have entirely mistaken its character, and erred both in writing and in sending it to you. I therefore wish you to accept of this written acknowledgement of my different appreciation of it, and would ask your permission if it was not, as it was intended to be, both proper and respectful, to withdraw it, and on receiving it, I will endeavor so to reflect upon it as to learn in what its impropriety consists, that similar offences may in future be avoided by me.
I am, respectfully your friend, New York, 8th mo., 18th, 1868.
JOHN J. MERRITT. As had been suggested, it ended here. The next notice received by John J. Merritt was as follows:
Westbury, 7th mo., 24th, 1868. JOHN J. MERRITT,
Respected Friend :-At Westbury Quarterly Meeting, held the 23d of 7th month, 1868, che judgment of New York Monthly Meeting in thy case was confirmed, and the undersigned were appointed to give thee that information, and inform thee of thy right to appeal,
SAML. J. UNDERHILL.
EDWARD S. WILLITS. The following response was addressed by John : To the Quarterly Meeting of Westbury,
I am informed by your committee, appointed for that purpose, that ac Westbury Quarterly meeting, held the 23d of 7th mo., 1868, the judgment of New York Monthly Meeting in my case was confirmed. One of this committee further informed me (by way of admitting what I knew to be the fact) that of the 12 men to whom my case had been referred by your preceding meeting, but seven had so attended the meetings of the committee as to have heard the case as it was presented by the Monthly Meeting's committee, and the appellant, and yet the report upon which the meeting formed its judgment, stated that the committee were united with one exception in recommending that the judgment of the New York Monthly Meeting should be confirmed, thus giving this as being the sentiment of 11 of the committee, instead of that of the six only, (one half of the whole number) who had heard the case. Such a report could not rightly be truthful, for the five absentees could not join in such a recommendation without betraying their trust; and on such a statement of existing facts, I must ask a suspension of your judgment until you can impartially review your proceeding, and that of your committee, for the purpose of correcting both it in error,
I remain your friend, Easton, roth mo., 19th, 1868
JOHN J. MERRITT. The foregoing was read in the Quarterly Meeting, held roth mo., 22d, and was feelingly deliberated upon. The matter was then dismissed without further action, on the suggestion of an experienced Friend, that they could now do nothing as it wouid be unprecedented for a Quarterly Meeting to attempt 10 correct an erroneous proceeding of its own.