Philobiblon: Today's discovery: the 18th-century "Green"

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Today's discovery: the 18th-century "Green"

To prove that the way people think has not changed so much as we might think ...

John Woolman, an American abolitionist, arrived in London in June 1772 wearing a white hat, undyed clothes and shoes of undyed leather. He was rejected by those who might have been expected to welcome him (at least on most accounts), although the London Quakers were later ashamed of their action.

He did not believe in dyeing clothing because of the pollution and damage to the health of workers that the process caused: "Dirtiness under foot and the scent arising from that filth ... more or less infects the air of all thickly settled towns."

From: M. Pointon, "Quakerism and Visual Culture 1650-1800" in Art History, Vol 20, No 3, Sept 1997, p. 415. 


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