Whittier as Quaker

Abram Morrison

Whittier remembered one of the “inspired” Elders of his childhood in the poem “Abram Morrison.” Morrison was of Irish decent, and his hatred of the English sometimes caused him to forget that he was a converted Quaker, and therefore a pacifist. His dislike of royalty was applied equally to presidents, and he tried to dissuade the young Quakers not to go listen to President Monroe during his visit to Amesbury.

Abram Morrison

‘Midst the men and things which will
Haunt an old man’s memory still,
Drollest, quaintest of them all,
With a boy’s laugh I recall
Good Old Abram Morrison


Yankee born, of alien blood,
Kin of his had well withstood
Pope and King with pike and ball
Under Derry’s leaguered wall,
As became the Morrisons.


Once a soldier, blame him not
That the Quaker he forgot,
When, to think of battles won,
And the red-coasts on the run,
Laughed aloud Friend Morrison.

Illustration for "Abram Morrison"
After describing the pleasure the boys received from his stories, honoring him as the first poet of Amesbury, regretting the loss of his work, Whittier fondly remembers Morrison at the Meetings.


When, on calm and fair First Days,
Rattled down our one-horse chaise,
Through the blossomed apple-boughs
To the old brown meeting-house,
There was Abram Morrison.

Morrison was “inspired” by a visit by President Monroe to Amesbury:

Still in memory, on his feet,
Leaning o’er the elders’ seat,
Mingling with a solemn drone,
Celtic accents all his own,
Rises Abram Morrison.

“Don’t,” he’s pleading, “don’t ye go,
Dear young friends, to sight and show;
Don’t run after elephants,
Learned pigs and presidents
And the likes!” said Morrison.

 Whittier ends with regret that there are no more such characters in Amesbury.

Illustration for "Abram Morrison"

Gone forever with the queer
Characters of that old year!
Now the many are as one;
Broken is the mould that run
Men like Abram Morrison.

Full text of "Abram Morrison"

Next poem >