chapter  6
Abby Kelley
Pages 8

More important than outward appearance was Friends' belief in an "inner light," which placed responsibility for correct behavior squarely on each individual's shoulders. Anyone, female as well as male, who felt "a call to speak" could rise at meeting and do so. Quaker ways were further impressed on Abby when she attended the New England Friends Yearly Meeting Boarding School, now the Moses Brown School, in Providence, Rhode Island. The school and its counterparts in New York and Pennsylvania were designed to train a generation of Quaker boys to enter their fathers' countinghouses. Because Friends believed in coeducation, Abby too was drilled in arithmetic, spelling, grammar, penmanship. She memorized long passages from the Bible and eighteenth-century didactic poetry, reciting them with expression before her classmates. She learned of the Quakers' proud history of bearing witness against unjust laws and of their opposition to war and slavery. Superior though her school was to that of most American girls of her day, it had limitations: no music or fine arts, no novels, romantic poetry, or plays. A boarding school boy was punished for reciting Shakespeare, a girl for singing "Auld Lang Syne," "a very dubious song." If Quaker youngsters were matterof-fact and unromantic, so much the better was their chance of success in life.