[Weems, M.L., The Life of William Penn, Settler of Pennsylvania, etc. Philadelphia: Uriah Hunt and Son, 1854.]
This document is on The Quaker Writings Home Page.
William, a fine, plump, fleshy boy, five or six years old, standing at his mother's knees, waiting for
her to talk with him; while she, after pressing him to her bosom, thus, in a sprightly voice,
addresses him- "Well, William, I want to see if you can answer mother one great question."
"Well, mother," replied William, his eyes sparkling, "come tell me what it is."
"Well, William," said she, "can you tell mother who made you?"
"Yes, to be sure, mother, that I can, easy enough. God did make me, didn't he"?
"How do you know that, my son ?"
"Heigh, mother, didn't you tell me so a matter of a hundred times and more?"
"But suppose. William, I had not told you that God made you, do you think you could have found
Here William paused --at length replied, "indeed, mother I don't know."
"Why not, my son, it seems very easy."
"Well then, mother, come tell me."
"Well now, my son, you see that stone that lies there at your feet, don't you?"
"Yes, mother, to be sure I do. And what of that stone, mother?"
"That stone is something, isn't it my son?
"Yes, to be sure, it is something."
"But how do you know it is something, William?"
"Heigh, mother, don't I see it; and don't I feel it that it is something; and a mighty hard and big
and heavy something too." - --Here good reader, let us pause and note how soon the divine light
of reason darts on the minds of children! What master of the mathematics could give a better
definition of matter, or as the text has it, of something, than little William here does "Don't I see
it, mother," says he; don't I feel it that it is something, and a mighty hard and big and heavy
something too !
"Well, but, William, continued his mother how came it to be this something?"
"Indeed, mother, I don't know."
"Well, but does it not strike you, my son, that since it is something, it must have been made so, or,
it must have made itself so?" William paused, as if quite at a loss, but at length said: "I don't see,
mother, how it could have made itself."
"Why not, my son ?"
"What, this stone made itself!" replied he, like one suddenly struck, as at the idea of something quite absurd and ridiculous; "this stone made itself! why, dear
men in the world, as I said just now, could not make one grain of sand, then O how could I make
such a beautiful little boy like you?"
"And so don't you know any thing, mother, how I came to be made?"
"No indeed, my son, no more than that stone there. When I married your dear father, I did not
know any better than that stone, whether I was to have you or not. Or whether you were to be a
little boy or not; or whether you were to have fine black eyes or not. I make you, indeed,
William! when I cannot make even "one hair of your head white or black." And O how could I
have made so fearful and wonderful a frame as yours, when even now that it is made, it is all a
perfect mystery to me. See! I plac e my hand upon my son's heart, and I feel it beating against my
fingers; but still I know nothing about how it beats. I put my hand upon his sweet bosom, and feel
it heaving as he breathes, but still I am ignorant of it all. And when I look at him every morning,
as he breakfasts on his little basin of milk and bread, Oh I'm lost! I'm lost ! I'm lost!"
"Heigh, for what, mother?" cried William, surprised. Why for wonder how his milk and bread,
white as snow, should be turned into blood red as crimson; and how that blood soft as milk
should be turned, some into sweet little teeth, white and hard as ivory ; and some into soft flowing
hair like silk; some into sweet polished cheeks like rose buds; and some into bright shining eyes
like diamonds! "Could I have made you, William, after this wonderful manner? Oh no my son,
no--not all the men on earth, nor al l the angels in heaven, could have done it. No, none but the
great God could have made you.
As good Mrs. Penn uttered these words, which she did with great emphasis, William appeared
lost in thought; however, after some silence, and with a deep sigh, he looked up to his mother,
and thus went on with his questions again.
"Well, mother, what did God make me for?"
"Why, for his goodness' sake, my son, which loved you so, he wanted to make you happy."
"How I know, mother, that God loves me so; I did never do any thing for him?"
"Well, son, and what did you ever do for me, and yet I have always loved you very dearly, haven't
"Yes, mother, but I always see you; but I did never see God."
"True William, nor did you ever see your grand-father Pennwood; but still you know that he
loved you, don't you?"
"Yes, mother, that I do know, that grandfather Pennwood loves me, for he is always sending me such pretty things. He sent me, you know, mother, my pretty tame rabbits, and my pretty little horse, and a great many other pretty things."
"Well then my son, if God gives you a great many more pretty things than grandfather Pennwood ever did, won't you say that he loves you too?"
"Yes, that I will, mother."
"Done! 'tis a bargain, William. And now, my son, brighten up your thoughts and tell your mother
who gives you everything. Who gave you these beautiful eyes? Who gave you these sweet rosy
cheeks ? Who gave you this lovely forehead ? Who gave you these dea r ivory teeth? And these
nimble little feet for you to run about, and these pretty fingers to handle everything? And who
gave you all the sweet apples, and pears, and cherries, for you to eat? And the birds to sing, and
the bees to make honey-comb for yo u ? And this beautiful earth with all the sweet flowers, and
corn, and trees ? And then who gave you these bright heavens away up yonder, and the sun, the
moon, and the stars, all, all to shine so bright for you--O my dear dear son, did grandfather
Pennwood ever give you any thing like all this?
Here, Willam, his bosom labouring as with sighs of wonder, replied, "0 mother, did God give me
all these things?"
"O yes, to be sure, William, all these things; and ten thousand thousand times more than you can
"Well then, mother, God must love me very much indeed, to give me all these things. But mother,
what does God want from me that he gives me so many beautififi things?"
"Why, William, all that he wants of you, my son, is that you should love him very much."
"Well but, mother, what good will that do to God though I should love him very much; I am only
a little boy, I can't reach up to the skies to give him any thing?"
"True, William, but still God wants you to love him very much; not that you may give him any
thing, but that he may give you a great deal more."
"Why, son, because he knows that if you love him very much, you will be sure to be a good boy."
"How so, mother?"
Why, my son, don't you know that if you love any body very much, it will be sweet to you to do
what will please them."
"Yes, mother, that is sweet. And don't I always run to do what will please you ? When you told
me just now to run down into the garden to bring you up some roses, didn't I set off and run
away, like my -little buck that grand--pa' Pennwood gave me?"
"Yes, that's what my son did run like a little buck, I could hardly see his feet, he did run so fast.
And when he came back, O how beautiful did he look? Not all the roses in the garden could blush
like his cheeks - not all the morning sloes could shine like his eyes-- - ...
...at length he said to her, "But, mother, is praising God, all that is to make me good?"
"O no, my son, there's another blessed thing you must do-- - you must not only praise God for all
the great things he has done for you, but you must also every day pray to him that he will give you
a continual sense of this; so that you may feel such gratitude and love for him as always to do
what you know will please him. And from constantly doing this, my dear son, you will feel such a
joy and sweetness in your heart as will make you love everybody. And then, William, you will be
sure ne ver to do them any harm - --you will never tell stories upon them - --never take any thing
from them - never quarrel nor fight with them, but will always do them good as God is always
doing you good."
"Well, mother," replied William, looking at her with great tenderness, "and will God love me then,
and be always good to me like you?"
"0 yes, my dear child, that he will love you like me; and ten thousand thousand times better. And
then, though father and mother die and leave you, yet God will never die and leave you, but will
be with you all your days long, to bless you in every thing . And when the time comes for you to
die, he will send his Great Angels to bring you to himself in his own glorious heaven, where you
will see all the millions of beautiful angels. And there perhaps, my son, you may see me, your
mother - but, I hope, not as now, pale, and sickly, and often shedding tears for you --but ten
thousand times beyond what I could ever deserve; even like one of his own angels, the first to
embrace and welcome you to that happy place."
As the Parent Eagle calling her young to his native skies, when she sees the breaking forth of the sun over all his golden clouds, thus did this tender mother improve the precious hours of the nursery to sow the seeds of religion in the soul of her son. The reader will see in due season that this, her labour of love, was not in vain. The seed fell on good ground. The dews of heaven came down; and the happy mother lived to feast on fruits, the riches that God can bestow on a parent this side of eternity, the sweet fruits of a dear child's virtues.