Freitag, 13. April 2012

Quäker der Woche (16): Robert Rich


Robert Rich, geboren am 16. November 1679 in London, stammte aus einer wohlhabenden Familie mit engen Verbindungen zu adeligen Kreisen. Mit dem gleichnamigen Robert Rich, Second Earl of Warwick (1587-1658), ist er jedoch nicht verwandt gewesen. Seine Bildung war hervorragend, er wusste sich in gelehrten Kreisen ebenso zu bewegen wie in den untersten Schichten der Gesellschaft. Er betätigte sich als Händler wertvoller Kleidungsstücke, sog. „Cavaliersbekleidung“, und tätigte 1651 bis 1652 in London Handelsgeschäfte. Mehrere Schiffe waren sein Eigentum und stellten die Verbindung zu seinen Plantagen auf Barbados und in Neu-England her.
1654 schloss er sich der Quäkerbewegung an und lebte für zwei Jahre nach deren Grundsätzen ein moralisch striktes Leben. 1655 wurde er in Blanbury ins Gefängnis geworfen und 1656 trat er als enthusiastischer Anhänger von James Nayler (um 1617-1660) hervor. Diesen hatte er in London kennengelernt, möglicherweise zusammen mit Harry Vane und Lady Darcy. 
Während des Prozesses wegen Naylers Einzug in Bristol stand er täglich vor dem Gericht und hielt stundenlang Reden, sang lauthals Lieder und verteilte anklagende Pamphlete, um die Freilassung Naylers zu erwirken. Als Nayler am Schandpfahl stehen musste, platzierte Rich über Naylers Kopf ein Schild mit der Aufschrift: „This is the King of the Jews“ und saß in Imitation der Kreuzigung zu Golgatha den ganzen Tag zu Fuße des Pfahls. Als auf Naylers Stirn ein „B“ für Blasphemie eingebrannt wurde, soll er die Wunde geküsst haben. Als Nayler nach Bristol gebracht wurde, zog Rich am 17. Januar 1657 singend durch die Stadt. Unter dem Namen „Mordecai“ (vgl. Buch Esther) unterließ er es nicht, unaufhörlich Gnadengesuche an das Parlament zu richten. Als Anhänger Naylers wurde er aus der Quäkergemeinschaft ausgeschlossen. Rich war nie in dieser integriert gewesen, sein abweichendes Verhalten und sein sonderbares Gebaren machten ihn zu einem Außenseiter jenseits sozialer Bindungen. Ausgeschlossen und isoliert wurde er jedoch nicht auf Grund seiner exzentrischen Lebensführung, sondern wegen Lehrstreitigkeiten. Er war ein Gegenspieler von George Fox (1624-1691), und dessen Ermahnungen an John Perrot (gest. 1665) und John Pennyman (1628-1706) reizten ihn, so dass er begann, Fox herauszufordern. Das brachte ihm die Feindschaft von Gerald Roberts, George Whitehead (1632-1723) und Ellis Hookes ein, die Richs Ansichten in der Frage des „Inneren Christus“ verdammten. 
1658 traf er mit George Fox in Bristol zusammen. Ein Jahr später verließ Rich England und begab sich nach Barbados, wo er sich für zwanzig Jahre niederließ. Weiterhin hielt er sich dort zu den Quäkern und besuchte 1662 gefangene Quäker in Bridgetown. Am 9. September 1679 kehrte er nach London zurück und starb dort nach wenigen Monaten. Einen Teil seiner Bibliothek vermachte er Robert Bacon, einem Anhänger James Naylers, der wie Rich aus der Quäkergemeinschaft ausgeschlossen worden war. 
Richs Großzügigkeit kam nicht nur den Quäkern zu Gute, sondern allen christlichen Religionsgemeinschaften. 1658 unterstütze er Bischof Jeremy Taylor (1613-1667) mit einer Spende für die Ärmsten in seiner Diözese. Als 1666 ein verheerendes Feuer viele Familien Londons ins Elend stürzte, gab Rich seinem Agenten Anweisungen, je dreißig Pounds unter Katholiken, Anglikanern, Presbyterianern, Independenten, Baptisten, den Mitgliedern der Kirche der Erstgeborenen und den Quäkern zu verteilen: eine im 17. Jahrhundert einmalige Überwindung religiöser Gegensätze durch soziales Zeugnis. Allerdings gaben die Quäker Gerrard Roberts und John Bolton (1599-1679) das Geld unerwartet wieder zurück. Über dieses Verhalten entbrannte ein Streit, der über mehrere Pamphlete ausgetragen wurde. Richs Motto wurde „Love without Dissimulation“, also etwa „Liebe ohne Heuchelei“, was vor allem die Quäker treffen sollte. Somit nimmt es niemanden Wunder, dass über Robert Rich in der Geschichtsschreibung der Quäker kein wohlwollendes Urteil gefällt wurde.

Werke: Copies of some few of the papers given into the House of Parliament in the time of James Nayler’s tryal there, which began the fifth of December, 1656. To the speaker of the Parliament of England, these to be read. London 1657; Rich, Robert; Fox, George: A true narrative of the examination, tryall, and sufferings of James Nayler in the cities of London and Westminster, and his deportment under them. With the copies of sundry petitions and other papers, delivered by severall persons to the Lord Protector, the Parliament, and many particular members thereof, in his behalf. With divers remarkable passages (relating thereto) before his journey to Bristol, whither he is now gone towards the filling up the measure of his sufferings. London 1657; Love without dissimulation, or, a letter to Mr. John Raynes. London 1667; Second letter from Barbadoes, upon the Quakers prevarication. London 1668; The letter sent by Robert Rych to William Bayly and Mary Fisher, called his wife, and to the rest of the Quakers hearers and followers. London 1669; Hidden things brought to light, or, the discord of the grand Quaekers among themselves. Discovered in some letters, papers and passages written to and from George Fox, James Nayler, and John Perrott, wheirein may be seen the cause and ground of their differences, and falling out: and what manner of spirit, moved and acted each of them. A war in heaven, Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels, till theire place was no more found in heaven. London 1678; Something in answer to a book printed in 1678, called, „The hidden things brought to light“. With Robert Rich of Barbadoes his name to it, and printed for Francis Smith at the elephant and castle in Cornhil (sic!). London 1679; A testimony to the truth as it is in Jesus, or, the spiritual appearance and in-dwelling of Jesus Christ in believers. Compared with his appearance in the flesh of his humanity. In a letter written by Mr. Robert Rich senior (now residing in the Barbadoes) to Mr. William Walker, a minister there. O.O. 1679; An epistle to the people called Quakers. Emitted by Mr. Robert Rich, who arrived at London from the Barbadoes the ninth day of September, 1679, and departed this life the sixteenth of November following. London 1680; To the birth of God in all the sanctified, the church of the first-born, whose names are written in heaven, who are born again, not of the will of flesh, but of God’s holy spirit, etc. London 1680; The epistles of Mr. Robert Rich to the seven churches (so called by him) viz.: 1. To the Roman Catholick, 2. The Episcopal-Protestant, 3. The Presbyterian, 4. The Independent, 5. The Anabaptist, 6. The Quaker, 7. The Church of the First-Born. Containing his testimony to God’s approbation of the good, and aversation to the evil in all persuasions. Published by particular direction given by the author in his life-time. Together with an abstract of a letter of the authors, declaring his gift or benevolence sent to each of the said churches. London 1680.

Bibliographien: Smith, Joseph: A Descriptive Catalogue of Friends’ Books. Or books written by members of the Society of Friends, commonly called Quakers, from their first rise to the present time, interspersed with critical remarks, and occasional biographical notices, and including all writings by authors before joining, and those after having left the Society, whether adverse or not, as far as known. II. London 1867, 479-482.

Lit. (Auswahl): The Saints' Testimony Finishing through Sufferings. Or, the proceedings of the court against the servants of Jesus, who were called before them to be tryed at the late assizes (or sessions) held in Banbury in the county of Oxon, the 26 day of the seventh moneth, 1655. Also a relation of Margret Vivers, going to the steeple-house in Banbury (...). And a testimony against false prophets, and false doctrine, with an answer to the objection about the woman forbidden to speak in the church, and some passages about the Lords former sending of his servants (...). And who are no Jesuits, fugitives, nor vagabonds. And the manner of Richard Farnsworth imprisonment (...), with a short examination and answer (...). Also, a warning from the spirit of the Lord (in his hand-maid Anne Audland) to the persecuting priest and people, (...). And a letter of Robert Rich to the magistrates of Banbury, and to Iohn Griffith, deputy recorder (...). Likewise a letter of Tho. Curtis to the professed minister called Samuel Wells (...). And a certificate wherein is manifested the diligence that was used to know the causes of the prisoners commitments (...) (Anne Audland, Iane Waugh, Sarah Tims, and Nathaniel Weston) as wel as Robert Rich (...), with a paper relating the sufferings of the innocent. London 1655; - Bolton, John: Judas and His Thirty Pieces of Silver not Received, but Sent Back to Him, for His Own Bag (…). Being something by way of answer to a letter that was sent to John Reynes merchant of London, from Robert Rich in Barbadoes, which was for the distribution of a certain sum of money to seaven churches (…). Wherein it is manifested, wherefore the people (…) called Quakers, cannot partake of his gift. O.O. um 1660; - Bolton, John: Judas His Treachery still Continued and His Rage Doth more Increase, because His Thirty Pieces Sent to the Quakers Would not be Received, but was Rejected and Returned to Him again (…) and for the Love of Money, Robert Bacon is Joyned to Him. Being something in way of answer, or rather a opening of some material passages in that reviling paper called by the publisher Mr. Robert Rich his second letters (...). London 1670; - Pennyman, John: Abstracts of some Letters Written by Mr. Robert Rich. Treating mostly of spiritual matters, are here transmitted to posterity, and recommended to the sober and seroius enquirer, for promoting of universal love amongst all sorts of people, without respect of persons, parties, or sects. Together with a friendly letter of Dr. Jer. Taylor, to the said R. R. in answer to one of his. Published by a lower of righteousness, but an utter enemy to deceit and wickedness in whomsoever. London 1680; - Tylor, John: A Loving and Friendly Invitation to all Sinners to Repent (…). With a brief account of the latter part of the life of John Perrot (…). Also, a testimony against Rob. Rich and John Perrot their filthy books lately printed against God’s people in scorn called Quakers (…). London 1683; - Pickworth, Henry: A Charge of Error, Heresy, Incharity, Falshood, Evasion, Inconsistency, Innovation, Imposition, Infidelity, Hypocrisy (...) and Worse than Turkish Tyranny. Most justly exhibited, and offered to be proved against the most noted leaders, &c. of the people called Quakers, in their church capacity, before our superiours in church or state. London 1715. London 17162; - Sewel, William: The History of the Rise, Increase and Progress of the Christian People Called Quakers, with several Remarkable Occurrences Intermixed. London 1722; - Fell-Smith, Charlotte: Rich, Robert. In: DNB, XLVII, 1896. ND XVI, 1921/22, 1019-1020; - Nuttall, Geoffrey Fillingham: The Last of James Nayler, Robert Rich and the Church of the First Born. In: Friends’ Quarterly, LX, 1985, 527-534; - Smith, Nigel: Hidden Things Brought to Light: Enthusiasm and the Quaker Discours. In: Corns, Thomas; Loewenstein, David (Hrsg.): The Emergence of Quaker Writing. Dissenting literature in seventeenth-century England. London 1995, 57-69.

(Erstveröffentlichung BBKL, Bd. 20, 2002, Sp. 1216-1220)