To his eldest son, George Thompson, who was no adherent of the doctrine of non-resistance, and who was commissioned by Governor Andrew, a second lieutenant in the Fifty-fifth Massachusetts Regiment, the pioneer wrote expressing his regret that the young lieutenant had not been able "to adopt those principles of peace which are so sacred and divine to my soul, yet you will bear me witness that I have not laid a straw in your way to prevent your acting up to your own highest convictions of duty."
Of course these queer illogicians can not be made to understand that their position commits them to absolute non-resistance to any kind of aggression; and that is fortunate for the rest of us, for if as Christians they frankly and consistently took that ground we should be under the miserable necessity of respecting them.
He will not give up the fruit of centuries of experience, of struggles, and of one century at least of liberty, since the Revolution of 1688, for any doubtful experiments whatever. We are arrived at the end of our experience, our struggles, and our liberty and are to anchor through time and eternity in the harbour of passive obedience and non-resistance.
It might be called sham strength, for it takes it out of one in other ways. But the control that comes from non-resistance brings a natural strength, which not only steadily increases, but spreads on all sides, as the growth of a tree is even in its development. "If a man takes your cloak, give him your coat also; if one compel you to go a mile, go with him twain."
Primeval, all preliminary bowing and scraping in the minuet of wooing ignored, he saw his heart's desire and seized it, lifting the Pearl in his arms, crushing her against his breast, until she, dazed for the moment, lay captured and captive. But her second of surprised, involuntary non-resistance served her well.
He spoke also about Truth being powerful, and gave advice to the above effect to the delegates present who all seemed to agree, as no person opposed his arguments." One may doubt, however, whether the whole society was composed of "natural Quakers," who, like Holcroft and Godwin, preached non-resistance before Tolstoy.
"Not here, perhaps. But there are other countries, where the conventional rules which govern society in this, are regarded with indifference America, for instance." He fixed his keen eye upon me. An electric flash passed into my mind. I saw his drift. I recollected Harrison's advice that the only way to obtain my rights and baffle my uncle's cunning, was non-resistance.
I had even then begun to suspect at school that non-resistance did not add permanently to the comfort of life. I was sorry that my father had not resorted to stronger measures with Mr. Bradford, a gentleman whom, in after-years, I learned greatly to respect.
That was just at the period in the eighties when people were beginning to talk and write of non-resistance, of the right to judge, to punish, to make war; when some people in our set were beginning to do without servants, to retire into the country, to work on the land, and to renounce animal food and carnal love.
To add much to his discomfort, he had made a rash promise to his pious mother, who seems, in contrast to her husband's race, to have adopted non-resistance principles a promise to abstain from fighting, provocative of many cuffs till it was well broken by a hinterschlag, applied to some blustering bully.