One of the females who visited our meetings came to the school room on Seventh-day, and requested the favor of having a few books to peruse and circulate. She said she was from Osnabrueck, and that there were a number of people in that place who had a great love to the Friends of our Society. Such opportunities afford the means of circulating a knowledge of the truth to those whose hearts may be preparing to receive it; and if such are only awakened to seek after the ways of holiness, although they may never come to be of our number on earth, they will he found among the number of the saints in heaven. The bathing-list this season already amounts to 2500 persons, in which number there are many who are desirous to inquire the way to Zion. It is much to be desired that the peculiar advantages which Pyrmont affords for spreading in the different parts of the Continent books illustrative of our religious principles should be judiciously embraced, particularly as there appears such an openness to receive them. I can truly say I have been thankful that my lot has been here this summer, and I trust I have not flinched from doing what I believed to be required of me.
In his letters to his brother, John Yeardley makes frequent mention of his mother. In the Ninth Month he heard of her being seriously ill, and he thus writes in reference to her state, in a letter elated the 29th of the Ninth Month:—
The state of my dear mother's health is truly alarming; but as I have received no further account from thee, I am flattering my poor panting heart with a comfortable hope that she may have taken a turn for the better, and will yet live to see the hour when we shall once more embrace each other in my native land. If she should be taken away without my being permitted to see her again, it would be a cup which I could not tell how to drink. This brings poignantly to my remembrance one of the most trying hours of my life, and yet the support then received was wonderful.
As I rode along the road in the course of this summer on a journey of business, my dear mother was brought to my remembrance in such a very remarkable manner, that I seemed to have a spiritual interview with her; and she was brought so near to my feelings, that I thought it probable I should never see her again until we met in eternity. I scarcely know how I felt, but it was as if my spirit accompanied hers into the regions above. I noted down the circumstance when I got home; for it had made such an impression on my mind, that I should not then have been surprised to have heard of her departure.
The following instructive remarks occur in the Diary about this time:—
10 mo. 27.—My retirement and reading this morning has been more tendering to my spirit than for a long time past. I read and considered the institution of the Passover, when the Israelites were led out of Egypt; and it appears clear to me that the sprinkling the door-posts with the blood of the lambs, as commanded, was a type of our Saviour's blood which was shed for our transgressions, and that we must be saved by his becoming our paschal lamb. As the destroying angel only passed over the doors and preserved those who had received the mark, so can we only be saved by being willing to apply the blood of our dear Saviour to wash and cleanse us from our sins. What a beauty there is in the connection of Scripture truths when we read them with a simple heart prepared to receive the right impression which may be opened!
The Friends of Minden and the little company of awakened people at Eidinghausen, who on his first coming to Germany had taken so firm a hold of John Yeardley's mind, continued to excite his religious sympathy, and he again visited them in the latter part of this year.
(Minden.)—On Seventh-day last, the 1st of the Eleventh Month, I left home in company with some of my dear Pyrmont friends to attend the Two-months' Meeting, and to spend a few days with my dear friends of this place. I lodge with Frederick Schmidt, and feel myself perfectly at home. It is a most orderly and agreeable family, consisting of himself, daughter, and housekeeper; and the time passes pleasantly away when I am only enough concerned to improve the opportunities afforded by this good man's company. He was one of the first in this place who was convinced of the religious principles of Friends, and his beginning was small both in temporals and spirituals. I cannot but admire how his endeavors have been prospered. He remarked the other evening in conversation, that it was of great advantage to the Friends to persevere in their outward callings, and not to jump (us he expressed it) out of one thing into another. This would be the means of establishing their credit as men of business.
11 mo. 7.—Sarah Grubb mentions that when she visited Minden, she met with great kindness and attention from a councillor of the place, who on their leaving accompanied them a little way out of the town to an inn, where he had provided coffee, and had invited a few of his friends to take leave of them. This was at the house of my worthy host [Frederick Schmidt], who then kept the inn at Kuckuk, and had for some time been under deep [religious] impressions. He related to me that her discourse in the meeting she had Lad in the town had affected him, and yet he could not give her his hand, but went into the garden to weep; but after she had got into the carriage and driven from the door, she suddenly made a stop, came again into the house, and asked for him. He being called, she had a remarkable opportunity with him; she told him she believed the Lord had a work for him to do in this place, and that he would have to stand foremost in the rank, and when the time came he must not flinch from doing what his Master would require. This has in a remarkable manner been fulfilled to the present day, and affords an encouraging example to the poor tried servants of the Lord to be faithful to apprehended duty. Although they may not live to see the effect of their labors, yet their Lord and Master will not leave himself without a witness in the hearts of his people; praised be his name.
14th. Since Thomas Shillitoe and I visited Eidinghausen, there has been a remarkable revival to a sense of religion; a number come together in a sort of society every First-day afternoon, to read, sing, and pray for the edification one of another. As all things have a beginning, this may perhaps prove a step to a more perfect way of worship. I had long felt inclined to visit the meeting in Eidinghausen, and had looked towards accomplishing it from Minden.
I went there on the 9th inst., and my intention to be there being known a few days before caused many of these awakened people to attend the meeting so that the little school-room was quite full, and many stood in the passage. I was truly thankful to be amongst them, for it proved a most satisfactory season. They are a rustic set of folks, but have each a soul to save or to lose, and all souls are of equal value in the sight of the Judge of the whole earth. Lewis Seebohm kindly gave up his time to attend me as interpreter, for I still prefer help of this sort when it can be done through one who is so feelingly capable. I often feel as a poor wandering stranger in a strange land, and yet I dare not complain. The goodness of the Lord is great towards me; he opens the hearts of those whom I am concerned to visit, to receive me into their hearts and houses, so that it affords me great freedom in speaking to them on serious subjects relating to their best interests, both spiritual and temporal. I am convinced if we mean to be useful to a people of a strange land, all must be done in a spirit of love and humility; with the weak we must be willing to become weak; only we must be on our guard and not flinch from our well-known testimonies.
The reflection contained in the passage which follows is of deep significance, and the lesson it conveys is one which the Church has as much need to learn now as at any former period.
15th.—We find recorded in the writings of our ancient Friends that occasionally a few words spoken in the course of common conversation made a deep impression on the minds of those to whom they were addressed. The cause must have been that they lived in a more retired state of mind, and were consequently better prepared to feel the smallest of good impressions in themselves, and were also more attentive to embrace every opportunity of improving the minds of others. I fail in this respect; I do not live enough in what may be truly called a spirit of prayer. I must be more watchful over my thoughts, words and actions, and improve my seasons of retirement; for there is no other way of preservation than by waiting and praying for a renewal of spiritual strength.
John Yeardley then reverts, as he so often does, to the love of souls in Germany, which was the means of causing him to leave his native land, and which he says had not diminished during his eighteen months' residence among them. To these thoughts he adds some considerations regarding the temporal condition of the Society of Friends there, on account of which he was often very solicitous.
The situation and welfare of the Society here have long occupied the warmest feelings of my heart. I am of the mind, with other Friends who have visited these parts, that there is a precious hidden work begun in the hearts of many in Germany, who suffer under oppression, on account of the many discouraging circumstances which have existed among them, and which yet prevail, to the great hindrance of the Lord's work. There are causes for which no human remedy can be prescribed. I have often said in my heart, If the Lord help them not, vain is the help of man. Much has been done for them by our dear Friends in England, and much still remains to be done, in order that they may be preserved together and not become dispersed as though they had never been a people.
The effectual means of help seems yet to fail,—that of putting the families in the way of helping themselves by suitable employment. The families who live in the neighborhood of Minden, mostly on small parcels of land, have until now got on with a tolerable degree of comfort, by cultivating their land in summer and spinning yarn in winter; but now the depression is so great that if they could be put into the way of earning threepence a day, they would embrace it with thankfulness. I have been very diffident in proponing any plan for their assistance, knowing that some former proposals have failed of accomplishing the end. But I have consulted with those who are best acquainted with their situation, and we think it safest for them to continue their own employment of spinning yarn, and endeavor to mend their trade by placing it on this footing. They must spin such an article as I can make use of in sending it, with what I buy from other people, to my friends in the linen business in England. I am to give them a little higher price than they can elsewhere obtain, and those who have no flax of their own must have a little money advanced to purchase some, which they must repay in yarn. When the yarn is disposed of in England, and a profit on the same can be obtained, it must be distributed among them as a premium to encourage industry and good management in producing a good article. If this does not answer, I cannot see any thing at present that will.
How far this scheme was put in practice we are unable to say, but we believe it was not accompanied by any successful result.
In the next entry he speaks of the advantage which he derived from keeping a diary.
11 mo. 17.—I was this evening accidentally induced to read over a few of my former memorandums; and it humbled my spirit to retrace the dealings of my merciful Father with me. I am glad that I have from time to time penned down a few remarks by way of diary, although it has been done interruptedly and very imperfectly. It proves a means of enabling me to see a wonderful concurrence in the ways of Divine Wisdom which has led me in a way that I knew not, and hitherto preserved me through the mercies of his love: praise be to his Name now and for ever. Amen.
After his return from Minden he accompanied John and William Seebohm, who were going on a journey of business to Leipzig. They went by way of Brunswick and Halberstadt, and returned by Nordhausen and Eimbeck. In this tour through the heart of Germany, John Yeardley made many observations on the state of agriculture, the cities, and the character of the people. Of the last they met with several curious traits, some of them sufficiently annoying.
On many great roads, says J.Y., there is a summer and a winter way, running parallel to each other, with a rail across, on which is a notice that the way is forbidden by a fine of 6d. or 8d, for each horse, that the traveller may know when to take the summer or the winter road. We stopped on the way [they were not far from Wolfenbuettel] to give our horses a little bread, and our coachman drove to the side of the road to make way for carriages to pass. But he had inadvertently gone over the setting on of the road; and the roadmaster came to us, and told us we must not feed our horses there, as it was not allowed to drive over the stones on the side, under a penalty of three shillings per horse. The evening of the same day we fed our horses at an inn, and walked before, leaving the man to follow us. I and my young friend W.S. sought the cleanest part of the way by walking in the course made for the water, which was green and clean; but so soon as we came by the inspectors, who are mostly employed on the road, one of them told us we must mind for the future and keep the right footpath, or pay 6d. each. This I considered as an infringement of English liberty, and was ready to reason with him on the subject; but I reflected that I was a stranger, and that it is always better and more polite to submit quietly to the regulations of the country in which we live, than bring ourselves into difficulty through incivility or contention.
In returning from Leipzig, J.Y. and his friends committed a more serious offence against the pragmatical regulations of the German States.
On our journey homewards we had much perplexity with some cloth, &c. which J.S. had bought in Leipzig to bring to Pyrmont. This arose from want of better information respecting the laws of the Prussian territory. They are exceedingly strict as to duties. All kinds of wares are allowed to pass through the country at what may be called a reasonable excise; but those travellers who have excise goods with them must preserve a certain road, called the Zoll-strasse. It was our lot to miss this road; for apprehending ourselves at liberty to pursue what road we pleased, we took another way. But we found our mistake when we came to the place where the duty is paid; for we were informed we had taken the wrong road, and that transit duty could not be received; we must either pay the full excise as when goods remain in the Prussian territory, or return back until we came again into the Zoll-strasse. It took some time to consider which was best to be done. To be sent about we knew not whither, and on roads scarcely passable, would prove a serious inconvenience; and on the other hand it was exceedingly mortifying to pay for such a trifle so enormous an excise. The officer was very civil, but told us it was not in his power to do otherwise. We concluded it would be best and cheapest to pay dearly for our error rather than be retarded on our journey. We had a regular receipt for what we paid, but inadvertently departing again from the appointed way, we were in danger of paying the full duty a second time, or having the goods taken from us. So much for travelling with excise goods.
Early in 1824, John Yeardley returned for a few months to England. He had ingratiated himself so thoroughly into the esteem and love of his Pyrmont friends, that his departure even for a short time was the signal of lamentation through the whole meeting. On the 11th of the First Month he had a farewell meeting at Friedensthal, which was attended by almost all his friends. With his parting blessing he had some counsel to impart.
I have so much place, he says, in their minds, that whatever I say, either in counsel or reproof, is always received in love. Such a scene I never witnessed; the dear lambs all wept aloud; we were indeed all melted together. May the Shepherd of Israel never leave them nor forsake them, and may they become willing to follow his leading. I can truly say that on their behalf my pillow has been often wet with my tears.
On the 3rd of the Second Month, he left Friedensthal, accompanied by a young Friend whom he was to conduct to a temporary residence in England, and in whose religious welfare he was deeply interested. While waiting in Hamburg for a vessel, he felt keenly his solitary situation in the world.
2 mo. 9.—I think I never felt poorer in spirit and more discouraged than at present. It seems as if visiting my native land had no cheering prospect for me. If it were right in the divine sight I could almost wish to spend the whole of my life in solitude; but I must be willing patiently to suffer, and endeavor to fill the place appointed for me on this stage of action.
A vessel sailed for England the day before their arrival at Hamburg, a circumstance which at first made him regret he had not used more expedition on the way. But he immediately recollected it might he for the best that he was left behind. This proved to be the case; for the vessel with which he would have sailed, meeting with contrary winds and dark weather, ran aground, and was obliged to put back, and when J.Y. left the Elbe she was lying in Cuxhaven harbor.
They landed at Hull on the 19th.
FROM HIS RETURN TO ENGLAND IN 1824, TO THE COMMENCEMENT OF HIS FIRST CONTINENTAL JOURNEY IN 1825.
On setting foot again in England, the dejected state of mind which had accompanied him on the journey returned with renewed force.
2 mo. 19.—I do not know how to describe my feelings in landing on my native shore: I feel a poor discouraged creature. May He who knows the sincerity of my heart be pleased to strengthen my poor mind, for I feel almost overwhelmed with fears and difficulties.
Still deeper was his emotion on visiting again the home of former days.
2 mo. 20.—Left Hull, and came by way of Selby and Wakefield to Barnsley. I felt my heart exceedingly burdened before I reached the place: it seemed as if all the bitter cups I had drunk in former times were going to be handed to me afresh. This may not be, perhaps, altogether on my own account. There is at times a fellow-feeling with others; and on my reaching this place, I soon felt my spirit dipped into sympathy with some of my dear connexions, who are not without their trials.
A few days afterwards, in allusion to the religious service of Elizabeth H. Walker of West Chester, U.S., in a public meeting for worship at Barnsley, he says:—
I do not really know what is the matter, but I fear I am going backwards from all that is good. When I look at the usefulness of others, O what an insignificant, useless being I appear!
This lowly opinion of himself, however, was not to serve as an excuse for idleness, and it was proposed to him to bear Elizabeth Walker company in a religious circuit in some of the midland counties, previous to the occurrence of the Yearly Meeting. He accepted the proposal; and they travelled together through part of Staffordshire, Warwick, Worcester, and Oxfordshire, visiting the meetings of Friends, and sometimes inviting the attendance of the public.
The dispirited state of mind which John Yeardley had brought with him from Germany accompanied him on this journey, and on the 30th of the Fourth Month he writes:—
I walked last evening in the fields, in a solitary frame of mind, being very low in spirits on many accounts. My own unfaithfulness deprives me of strength to cast off my burden as I go along; consequently I grow weaker and weaker, which is indeed diametrically opposite to growing stronger and stronger in the Lord. Lamentable case! O for a alteration for the better!
Fifth-day, the 6th of Fifth Month, at Sibford.—This is a pretty large meeting, and there are a good many sweet-looking young folks. The lovely countenances of such are always refreshing to me, and it is not much wonder if I have a little more openness for labor, winch was the case in this place. But in general I sit and bemoan my own uselessness. I have been a burden to myself in this little journey, in fearing I might be so to my friends; but I ought to be very thankful that they do not seem to think me so, but are desirous to encourage me. I think if it was otherwise, it would be more than I could bear.
In the Fifth Month, he attended the Yearly Meeting in London. At the Meeting of Ministers and Elders, an unusual number of certificates were granted for religious service abroad. These various concerns drew from him the following reflections:—
As I sat under the weighty consideration and disposal of these subjects, I felt a degree of rejoicing to spring in my heart, that there are still members who hold the promotion of the cause of righteousness in the earth dear to the best feelings of their hearts. It is indeed cause of heartfelt gratitude that the Divine Master is directing the feet of his messengers not only to the borders of this isle, but also into distant parts of the earth.
During the Yearly Meeting John Yeardley lodged at William Allen's, at Plough-court and Stoke Newington, and was introduced to several Friends with whom he had not before been acquainted.
The acquaintance which I have made with many dear and valued Friends in the neighborhood of London has, I hope, been a little strength to me in the best things. It is truly pleasant to be treated with such genuine kindness; but it is nothing for the soul to build upon,—we must look for a more sure foundation than the favor of the great and good.
Elizabeth H. Walker had a meeting with the younger part of the Society in London and the neighborhood. In noticing this meeting J.Y. has some discriminating remarks on the exercise of the ministry.
During this as well as many other meetings for worship, I sat under religious exercise, but could seldom believe it required of me to take part in the public ministry. I often think, when many exercised brethren and sisters are present; there would be a danger of interrupting the true gospel order, if all were not careful to wait on the Great Minister of the Sanctuary. If we patiently abide under the rightly baptizing power, what we may apprehend preparing in our hearts for utterance may often be delivered by others, and we only have to say, as it were, Amen. We may also be brought into a right willingness to speak in the Lord's name, and still be excused; this may be, perhaps, a preparation of an offering which may be called for at another place. O the importance of knowing the word rightly to be divided, and when and where the offering is required!
A part of Elizabeth Walker's errand in coming to Europe was to visit the Friends in Germany; mid it was proposed that John Yeardley should take charge of her and her companion, Christiana A. Price of Neath, on his return to Pyrmont. They went together through Essex and Suffolk, having meetings on their way; but at Ipswich it appeared that C.A. Price's health was unequal to the journey, and Elizabeth Walker proceeded to Hull to cross the water from thence with another company of Friends who were bound for the Continent. J.Y. was thus left to proceed alone to Pyrmont, and he sailed from Harwich on the 19th of the Sixth Month. When in Suffolk he went to Needham to see "dear ancient Samuel Alexander."
I had, he says, long known this fatherly man by name and person, but had had no acquaintance with him until now: his company and conversation were exceedingly pleasant and instructive to me. In the evening I took a walk in a large plantation which he had himself planted when young, and had now lived to see afford him a comfortable retreat.
John Yeardley was taken ill when in Suffolk, and on settling down again in his quiet home at Friedensthal he writes:
7 mo. 15.—I am drinking salt-spring-water, and my health is mercifully restored. The air of this country seems to suit my constitution better than that of England. Time is very precious. I think, to keep a more correct journal of what I do each day might be very useful, by inducing a more narrow scrutiny how each hour is spent; for I know not how many more may be allowed me to prepare for eternity.
To this resolution he did not adhere. With the exception of two short entries in the same month, he wrote nothing in his diary for the remainder of the year. The difficulties of his position, perhaps a lack of sufficient employment, and the want of that instant watchfulness without which the disciple is ever prone to stray from his Master's side, seem to have again produced, as they did twelve months before, a season of spiritual famine.
His own gloomy condition did not, however, altogether disable him from sympathizing with others. In a letter to his brother of the 4th of the Eleventh Month he says;—
I have of late been in such a low tried state of mind, that I have been discouraged from writing thee, under an apprehension I should say nothing that would afford thee any satisfaction in reading. But though I may not have it in my power to relieve thee, I hope it will not be unpleasant to thee to know that thou art still more dear and near to me than ever thou wast in the times of more apparent outward prosperity. It is a high attainment to know how to set a right value on perishable things, and it requires no small degree of fortitude to bear the depression of apparent temporary adversity, in that disposition of mind which becomes the character of a true Christian. Although, according to our apprehensions, the storm may last long, yet it most assuredly will blow over, and then greater will be our peace than if we had never known a tempest.
On resuming his Diary, which he did in the First Month of 1825, John Yeardley gives an account of the events which happened to him during the previous few months.
In the Seventh Month 1824, Thomas Shillitoe and Elizabeth H. Walker came to Pyrmont, and to the latter J.Y. gave his assistance in various religious engagements. After her departure he again visited Minden, with the neighboring villages of Eidinghausen and Hille. His visit to the last-named place (1 mo. 13, 1825) was marked by a singular circumstance.
Finding a sudden draft [in my mind] to be at the reading meeting in Hille, to begin at two o'clock, there seemed but little time; however, proposing it to my dear friend John Rasche, he was quite willing to accompany me, and driving quickly we came in due time. When the [meeting] was over, the Friends told me they thought it very remarkable that we should come unexpectedly on that day, and that what was communicated after the reading was particularly suited to the state of a woman Friend present, who was laboring under the temptation that she had committed the unpardonable sin, and could find no rest day or night. I could not prevent them from expressing their thankfulness for such a mark of Providential interference, in this way to afford the poor woman a little relief and encouragement.
Four days afterwards, having then returned to Friedensthal, J.Y. adds:—"Since our visit to Hille, the person above-mentioned is dead!"
The depression under which John Yeardley labored, from the loss of that comfortable presence of his Lord which had been almost from his youth as a lamp shining continually upon his head, seems to have reached its lowest point in the early part of this year. Under date of the 24th of the Second Month he says:—
I have this morning once more been enabled to pour out my sorrowful spirit before the Father of mercies in a way that has afforded me some relief and encouragement. In bitterness, and, I may almost say, in agony of soul have I spread before him some of those circumstances which have been a cause of unspeakable distress to me for many months past, and rendered me unfit for almost every service, temporal or spiritual.
Thou knowest, O gracious Father, I long to have my ways and steps regulated by thy holy will. Therefore I beseech thee, have mercy on my faults, and blot out from thy remembrance all my sins, and everything wherein I have in weakness offended thee; and be pleased to give me strength to become more perfectly and lastingly thine. O how sensibly do I feel my own weakness, and that without thee I can do nothing, not for a moment preserve my own steps.
In the midst of his discouragement his mind was directed towards the accomplishment of another part of the commission which had been entrusted to him before he left England.—viz., to sojourn for a time amongst the Friends in the South of France. Accordingly, early in the Third Month he went to Minden, and laid before the Two-months' Meeting, his intention of going to Congenies for this purpose, and also of seeking a religious interview with some serious people in the neighborhood of Cologne.
This information, he says, was received by my friends with much sympathy and, I trust, weightiness of spirit, and I felt a little strengthened by the expression of their feelings and unity with me in this concern. A certificate of their approbation was ordered to be drawn up. No creature on earth knows how this prospect humbles me. I always think I am dealt with in a remarkable manner,—somewhat different perhaps from others. Notwithstanding all the seemingly insurmountable difficulties which stand in the way, and which are far too numerous to particularize, my peace is connected with my obedience. What will be the result I know not; the way appears not yet quite clear us to the time of departure. O Lord, favor me to wait on thee for the spirit of discernment not to step forth in the wrong time.
The obedience which he practised in committing himself in simple faith to this religious prospect prepared the way for a temporal blessing, as well as for the return of inward joy. He little knew, when persecuted by the Accuser of the brethren, and mourning over the weakness of his own corrupt nature, that his Lord was about to provide for him a congenial and helpful companion, in the room of her whose loss had left him solitary in the world. Without this timely sacrifice of his own will, it could not have been so easy for him to make the journey to France in the way in which it was done, and which was the means of bringing about the union which shed so much comfort on the remainder of his life.
Between two and three months after the meeting at Minden, he received the information that Martha Savory, accompanied by Martha Towell, was about to pay a religious visit to the Friends at Pyrmont and Minden. He had been introduced in London to Martha Savory as a minister of the gospel, and one who had been abroad in its service, but his acquaintance with her seems to have been slight. On receiving this intelligence he writes:—
The prospect of seeing a few dear Friends from my native land would be cheering, but I am really so cast down that I seem as if I could not, and almost dare not, rejoice in anything. May this low proving season answer the end for which it is permitted!
As he apprehended the Friends who were coming from England might require a guide, John Yeardley went to meet them at Rotterdam. His journey, and the singular coincidence of Martha Savory's concern with his own, are described in a letter to his brother, written after his return from Holland.
Friedensthal, Pyrmont, 7 mo. 14,1825.
MY DEAR BROTHER,
On my return from Holland I received thy long and very interesting letter. Martha Savory and her companion Martha Towell are now acceptably with us. They expect to spend two or three months with us, and then we have some prospect of going in company to the South of France. As this has fallen out in a rather remarkable manner, it may not be amiss just to explain it to thee. We were entire strangers to each other's concern; but as soon as my friends in London heard of my prospect from the copy of the minutes of our Two-months' Meeting and of my certificate, dear William Allen wrote to me desiring a more particular description of my views, time of departure, &c., and mentioned at the same time M.S.'s concern, which had already passed the Quarterly Meeting, and it was fully expected she would be liberated [by the Meeting of Ministers and Elders] to visit Pyrmont and Minden, and afterwards, if suitable company offered, proceed to some parts of the banks of the Rhine, Switzerland, and Congenies, in the south of France. I wrote to W.A., and explained to him my prospect, which was to visit a few individuals in the neighborhood of Cologne and pass through Switzerland to Congenies. I then received a letter from our dear friend M. Savory, stating that she and W.A. had been much struck with the remarkable coincidence in our views; our prospects being to the same places and in the same way; and that it seemed in the pointing of Truth for us to join in company.
Fifth mo. 26th, I left Friedensthal to visit my friends in Minden and its neighborhood; and after spending about two weeks there, I felt very much inclined to give our friends the meeting at Rotterdam. I set off, accordingly, the 7th of the Sixth Month, and travelled seven days through a desert country to Amsterdam, I went almost one half of the way by water, across the Zuider Zee from Zwolle to Amsterdam. After spending a few days in Amsterdam, I went, with J.S. Mollet, who is the only Friend in that city, to Rotterdam, where we met with M.S. and M.T. Thomas Christy, junior, had accompanied them, from London. M.S. had letters of recommendation to many persons in Amsterdam, whom we visited; and though some of them were first-rate characters in the place, it is surprising with what affection and kindness they received us. J.S. Mollet accompanied us to Pyrmont.
An account of his journey, both going and returning, is also contained in J.Y.'s diary: it presents some additional notices which claim a place here.
Before leaving Minden for Rotterdam, he twice visited Eidinghausen, and saw some young men who were under suffering because of their refusal to serve in the militia.
One in particular (he says, in writing up the diary), a sweet young man, at this moment may be in torture. O, how I feel for him! My soul breathes to the Almighty Father of mercies on his account, that he may he strengthened to endure all with patience for the sake of his Lord, who has given him a testimony to bear against the spirit of war and fighting.
At the conclusion of the second meeting at Eidinghausen, he says:—
The meeting was fully attended, and I afterwards dined alone in the schoolroom with a light heart. I thought I could say, After the work is done, food tastes sweet.
At Rotterdam, John Yeardley and his companions made the acquaintance of a "very interesting missionary student, who believes he has a call to go on a mission to the Greeks, and is waiting for an opening: his name is Guetzlaff." At Amsterdam, a letter from Guetzlaff introduced them to the priest of the Greek church in that city, Helanios Paschalides, a man of child-like spirit, and long schooled in affliction, who had become awakened to his own religious wants, and who believed himself called to return to Greece and instruct his countrymen. These two interviews are memorable, as being, probably, the commencement of the strong interest which J. and M.Y. evinced in the Greek people, and which issued, years afterwards, in a religious tour in that country. At Zeist, where there is a settlement of Moravians, the ministers, finding the Friends desired to convene their members in a meeting for worship, readily consented.
The meeting, writes J.Y., was more fully attended than we had expected. There is much sweetness of spirit to be felt about these people, but a want of stillness. I thought some of the hearers were prepared to see further than their teachers, and the time may yet come when some may be drawn into a more spiritual worship. We left them a few tracts, and they kindly gave us a few little boots of theirs. It is remarkable in what a spirit of love they received us.
The Friends reached Pyrmont on the 1st of the Seventh Month, and shortly afterwards made a visit amongst the members from house to house in that place, and at Minden. On the 28th they visited a number of seriously awakened persons at Lenzinghausen, who felt the necessity of spiritual worship, and to whom their hearts were much enlarged in gospel love.
Walking in the garden, writes John, Yeardley, in a very solemn and solitary frame of mind before the meeting, I had such a feeling as I scarcely ever remember to have had before. I thought I saw, as in the vision of light, as if a people would be gathered in that neighborhood to the knowledge of the truth. It appeared to me to be in the divine appointment that our dear M.S. was come to visit Germany, and a large field of labor seems to be appointed for her in this land if she is faithful.
The next two months were occupied with various religious services, public and private, not omitting meetings at Eidinghausen and Hille, where, as on former occasions, J.Y. found his heart to go out towards the people with strong emotions of Christian love. About 150 attended at the former, and 300 at the latter place.
HIS FIRST CONTINENTAL JOURNEY.
The time was now come for John Yeardley and Martha Savory to pursue their journey to the Rhine, Switzerland and France. They left Pyrmont on the 11th of the Tenth Month, 1825, and beside Martha Towell, were accompanied as far as Basle by William Seebohm as interpreter. Every member of the party wrote in one way or other an account of the journey, and we have availed ourselves of these various sources in the following narrative.
Passing through Paderborn, they arrived at Herdecke on the 13th. Regarding his feelings in this place John Yeardley writes:—
This morning I was greatly dejected, and fearful we might find none of the people whom we were seeking. As I was walking pensively outside the town, I recollected what I once read in "Cecil's Remains,"—that a way may suddenly open before us when we the least expect it. This was now to be verified; for after we had entered the carriage with the intention of going to Elberfeld, and while we were waiting for a road-ticket, I accidentally fell into conversation with our hostess, and making inquiry for people of religions character, learnt that there were a number of such in the neighborhood.
The Friends alighted, and sent for a member of this little society who resided in the town. He informed them that a meeting was held at Hageney, about six miles distant, at the house of a pastor named Huecker. Being disposed to visit this pastor, they took their informant with them as guide, turned their horses in the direction opposite to Elberfeld, and drove along a very bad road to his house. They found him occupied in teaching some poor children. He told them that their visit was opportune and remarkable, for that he had been denounced as a delinquent before the Synod of Berlin, which had sent him a string of questions on doctrine and church-government. He had returned a reply to the questions, and was then waiting the determination of the synod, whether he was to be displaced from his cure or not. The Friends examined his answers, and were well satisfied with them: the worship which he and his little flock (about thirty in number) practised was of a more spiritual character than that of the national church. Martha Savory expressed her deep sympathy with him in his difficult and painful situation, and John Yeardley also addressed him in words of consolation and encouragement.
At Elberfeld, where they arrived on the 15th, they met with several interesting persons. One of these, a young pastor named Ball, became greatly endeared to them. He informed them that when he had been severely tempted, he had found support and deliverance in silent waiting on the Lord. Another was Pastor Lindel, who resided at some distance from the city, in the Wupperthal; he had been brought up a Roman Catholic, had seen many changes, and suffered not a little persecution. He took them to see a neighbor, an aged man, weak in body, but strong and lively in spirit. This man told them he was present at a meeting at Muehlheim held by Sarah Grubb, about thirty years before; and that, although ninety years old, he recollected the words with which she concluded her discourse: "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." This love, say the narrators of the occurrence, was felt amongst us on this occasion, and at parting the good old man gave us his blessing.
They quitted Elberfeld on the 19th, and proceeded to Duesseldorf, where the reception they met with was equally open and gratifying. They spent an evening at Kaiserswerth with Pastor Fliedner, who was occupied in vigilantly guarding a little nock of Protestants surrounded by unscrupulous Romanists. He evinced much interest in the management of prisons, and was endeavoring to introduce improvements in that of Duesseldorf: he had met with Martha Savory in one of her visits at Newgate.
The next day they went to Duesselthal, and inspected the institution there. The Count Von-der-Recke conducted them himself through every department.
His countenance, says John Yeardley, evinces the magnanimity and kindness of his heart; it is remarkable and precious that so young a man should dedicate his whole time and fortune for the benefit of the orphan and the destitute.
At Creveldt, the next town where they stopped, Pastor Molinaar and his wife, who were Mennonists received them in a very cordial manner: the latter had seen Thomas Shillitoe at Amsterdam. J.Y. relates several visits which these worthy persons and some of their Christian friends paid to them at the inn.
22nd.—In the evening Pastor Molinaar came, with his wife and some friends, to tea. They inquired very narrowly respecting our principles. Pastor M. turned the conversation on women's preaching, and, after some explanation, appeared to be pretty well satisfied with our views on this subject. The Mennonists hold strongly to the use of Water Baptism, and the pastor and his wife defended this practice, the latter with much earnestness. But when we had unfolded our sentiments, and William Seebohm had read a passage from Tuke's "Principles," the pastor, seeing that we aimed only at the spiritual sense, acknowledged that he had often queried with himself whether the usage could not properly be dispensed with, and said that he intended still further to examine the question. Our certificates were then read; and after we had conversed on our church discipline, the company separated in mutual love.
The Friends inquired of the Mennonists whether any of their Society would incline to sit with them on the First-day evening.
Our friend, Martha Savory, told them we could not promise that anything should be uttered, seeing this could only take place through the immediate operation of the Holy Spirit. At the appointed time there assembled about fifty persons. After a short conversation they seated themselves, and when we had sat awhile in silence, M.S. found herself moved to address them in a feeling manner, W.S. interpreting; and I relieved my mind in German as well as I was able. Before we separated, Pastor Molinaar rose, and in the name of the rest expressed his heartfelt satisfaction, adding that he hoped we should remember them for good, as they should not fail to pray for our preservation.
24th.—We told Pastor M. that it would be agreeable if he and any others of his friends who wished to take leave of us would come to the hotel. At seven o'clock, instead of a few as we expected, there came about thirty. The ladies seated themselves quite sociably, and took out their work, but were evidently prepared to lay it aside in the hope of having another religious sitting. But as we believed there were those present who had come from too great a desire to hear words, we were on the guard not to satisfy this excited inclination; and the evening was spent in agreeable conversation. Before we separated, however, we thought it well to read our Yearly Meeting's Epistle, which was acceptable to all. Pastor M. especially was pleased with the part about church-discipline, and said he considered it of real advantage that the epistle had been read in that company, as there were several young women present who might receive benefit from it.
Feeling attracted towards the inhabitants of Muehlheim on the Ruhr, the Friends again turned out of the direct road and crossing the Rhine a little beyond Duisburg, arrived in the evening at Muehlheim. They found a company of Separatists in the neighborhood of the town, some of whom they visited; and the next day they passed over the Ruhr, and, with the assistance of a school-master, convened a meeting for worship. At the time appointed nearly three hundred persons assembled, mostly of the poorer class. They were seated in a large school-room, the men on one side and the women on the other, waiting in silence. They had a good meeting, and at the conclusion the auditory expressed their unwillingness to part, and their desire that those who had ministered to them should visit them again.
On the 27th, after calling upon some descendants of Gerhard Tersteegen, our Friends proceeded through Duesseldorf to Cologne. They were disappointed of finding in the neighborhood of this city, that company of religious people on whose account they had felt much interested, and of whom they had heard that "they held principles like the Quakers, and were as obstinate in them as they are." They did no more here than call upon a few serious persons in the city, and then went forwards to Neuwied, hoping there to hear of them.
At Neuwied, besides becoming acquainted with the Moravian preachers and others, they were called upon by some of the Inspirirten, who invited them to their meetings. They attended one of these; but, being dissatisfied with the manner of the service, and not finding relief for their spiritual exercise, though the opportunity of speaking was offered without reserve, they in turn invited the company to meet with them the next morning after the manner of Friends. The meeting was held to mutual satisfaction, and one of the leading men amongst the Inspirirten expressed the hope that it would be blessed to them; for he was, he said, sensible of the want of less activity and more of silent waiting in their religious assemblies.
The society to which these people belonged divided in 1818 into two branches, after an awakening which took place that year; those who separated believing it to be incumbent upon them to lead more self-denying lives, and dwell more closely under the influence of the Holy Spirit. This new connection was the people of whom our Friends had heard; and they learnt that they had retired to a place called Schwartzenau, near Berlenburg, a small town at the eastern end of the barren hilly region known as the Sauerland. The distance of this place from Neuwied is considerable, and the roads amongst the worst in Germany; but John Yeardley and Martha Savory apprehended they could not peacefully pursue their journey without attempting to visit them.
Accordingly they left Neuwied on the 1st of the Eleventh Month, and proceeded to Montabauer. The road led them at first amongst some of the choicest scenery of the Rhine; but after a while they left the river and struck into the interior of the country, in a north-easterly direction. The next day they passed through a place where, a few months before, a Diligence had been robbed. The robbers, who had been taken a fortnight after the offence, were then, as they were informed, in Limburg gaol, and were to be hanged the next day. They were ten in number, all members of one family. At Burbach they met with an English landlord, thirty-five years resident in Germany; he was delimited to see his fellow-countrymen, and exerted himself to give them the best entertainment his house afforded. The country they passed through was very hilly, and overgrown with forest; now and then a solitary dwelling was seen in the bottom of the deep valleys.
On the 3rd they came to Siegen, an ancient and antique town on the side of a high hill, looking, as one of the party observed, as though they had reached the end of the world. And, indeed, it seemed almost like the end of the civilised world; for they were informed that the road from thence to Berlenburg was in such a miserable condition that they could take their carriage no farther. They resolved, however, to make the attempt, and providing themselves with a tandem horse (vorspann) and a guide, and sending on their luggage, they set forth on the way to Letze, a village where they proposed to lodge; but the waters were abroad from the overflow of the rivers, and the road being extremely narrow, and the ruts deep, they made very slow progress. Sometimes the way was so impracticable that they had to take the carriage through the woods which skirted the road. Darkness and rain coming on obliged them to halt for the night at Netphen, and seek shelter in the humble dwelling of a woman, who at first took alarm at the unexpected appearance of so many strangers. The account which the guide gave respecting the travellers dispelled her fears, and she did what she could by hospitality to make up for the scantiness of her accommodation. She gave them also some information respecting the Inspirirten, whom they were on the way to visit, speaking favorably of them. The next morning, before they started, they were able to offer her spiritual good in return for her temporal kindness, John Yeardley ministering to her condition under religious exercise; and they trusted his words found entrance into her soul.
On the 4th they pursued their way, up hill and down, the carriage sometimes becoming so firmly fixed in the narrow deep ruts, that it was necessary to take out the horses, and for the men of the party, with the assistance of passers-by, to lift it over to more even ground.
At length they arrived at Erndebrueck, and drove to an inn; but not finding their luggage, they went to another, and while they were preparing to start for Berlenburg, William Seebohm went to the Custom-office to show the ticket of clearance they had received on entering the Prussian territory at Burbach. This ticket should have obviated all delay attendant on the examination of the luggage; but it happened, most unfortunately, that the custom officer was the landlord of the inn they first came to. Their leaving his house without taking refreshment was, in his eyes, an unpardonable offence, and on William Seebohm presenting to him the ticket, his countenance and language betrayed the passion which raged in his breast. He declared their trunks should be examined in the strictest manner; and when they represented the necessity they were under of speedily pursuing their journey, and desired him to despatch the business as quickly as possible, he replied by detaining them until they were obliged to send back the horse and guide, and consent to pass the night under his roof. He then demanded their passports, and finding they had not been vise'd at all the towns through which they had passed, and that the travellers had departed from the route described in them, he sent for a gendarme, and placed them under arrest. They were not allowed to take anything from their trunks without being watched by the gendarme; and when they took out a letter of recommendation, written by Dr. Steinkopf to the clergyman of the place, whom they had requested to call upon them, the gendarme insisted on first reading it. On their expostulating with the landlord at being treated in this manner, instead of making a direct reply, he strutted up and down the room, repeating continually, "Ja, ja, ja, ja! they shall know what they went away from my house for, and that there is a custom-office here." The Friends took their evening meal, as is usual in Germany, in-one of the sleeping-rooms—that which had been allotted to Martha Savory and Martha Towell. Into this chamber, when they had eaten, the landlord brought a party of eight or nine men to take their supper. After supper the men smoked, and some of them did not even refrain from showing their ill-breeding in a more disagreeable way. William Seebohm overheard the landlord and the gendarme say to each other, "These people are travelling this way to visit the Separatists, and strengthen them in their religious opinions; but we will disappoint them."
The next morning they were favored with a short season of solemn communion, in which they were given to believe that the Name of the Lord would be their strong tower. Their liberation, in fact, was near; for their envious jailor, finding probably no excuse for longer detaining them, suffered them to depart, but sent the gendarme to guard them as far as Berlenburg. The man proved to be an excellent guide, and being eager to bring them to the magistrate of that town, where they could be more effectually checked in their schismatical object, he was very useful in shouldering the carriage when they came to a stand in the miserable roads.
The town of Berlenburg presented a dismal spectacle, the greater part having recently been burnt down; so that they had some difficulty in making their way through the ruins. They were subjected to no delay at the Custom-house, but, before being allowed to go to an inn, were conducted by the gendarme to the Castle, to be examined by the Landrath, or magistrate. While John Yeardley and William Seebohm were taken into the justice-chamber, Martha Savory and Martha Towell remained in the carriage, where they were presently surrounded by a crowd, who gazed with astonishment at their equipage, no such vehicle having been seen in the town for many years, and probably never any persons in such attire. Being weary of waiting, and anxious to know the result of the examination, they left the carriage and ascended to the magistrate's room. They were politely received, and arrived just as he had concluded the examination and was declaring the Friends entirely free from, the requisitions of the law. The letters of recommendation which they presented were very helpful in procuring this result. At the Landrath's request, they stated the object of their journey, and the reasons which had induced them to deviate from the route described in the passports, of all which he caused a note to be taken. At the conclusion he politely dismissed them with the salutation, "Go where you will, in God's name;" and the abashed and disappointed gendarme was obliged to imitate his superior and make them a parting bow. The magistrate referred them to two of the citizen, for information regarding the Separatists, but remarked that he considered a visit to Schwartzenau at that critical moment would not be without danger.
One of the persons on whom the Landrath recommended the Friends to call was the Inspector of the Lutheran or State Church of the country; and on the 6th, which was First-day, after a time of worship in their own apartment, they received a visit from this personage. Wishing to act with entire openness, they informed him of their desire to see the Separatists, and invited him to accompany them. He gave them the names of several with whom they might freely have intercourse. As the interview proceeded mutual confidence increased, particularly after reading their certificates; and the Inspector expressed himself gratified with the liberality entertained by Friends towards people of other religious persuasions.
It snowed all the next day, and the roads were deep in water, so that M.S. and M.T. remained in-doors; but J.Y. and W.S. walked to Homburgshausen, a village about a mile and a-half from Berlenburg, to call upon an aged man, a Separatist of the old connection. He had heard of their arrival, and was overjoyed to see them; he looked upon it as a providential occurrence that they should have been sent there at that juncture. His forefathers, he said, had been settled there many years, and had hitherto enjoyed liberty of conscience; but now he feared they were about to be deprived of that privilege. Before the Friends left Berlenburg, he called at their inn with several more of his society; he appeared to be a truly pious man, and looked, they say, exactly like a good old Friend. He declared himself to be fully convinced of the value of silent worship, but said that their people in general were not prepared to adopt it; however they rejected outward baptism, and the use of the bread and wine, and refused to bear arms. He had been many times summoned before the magistrates to be examined upon his religious belief. On one of these occasions the Landrath asked why he did not take the bread and wine, and why he did not have his children baptised. He answered that if he was to conform to these ceremonies it would be as though he had received a sealed letter in which nothing was written. He and his people were solicitous with the Friends to have a meeting with them; but the minds of John Yeardley and his companions were pre-occupied with a desire first to see the New Separatists, who were then under persecution, and they did not think it proper to accede to the request.
In reply to a message which they sent to some of the new society, they received, through a young woman (for the men were afraid to come to the inn), a pressing invitation to visit some of them who lived in a retired spot called Schellershammer, not far distant. They immediately accepted the invitation. The road, which was impassable for a carriage, was covered with mud and water. They were received into a very humble dwelling by a pious young man and his family, with whom also they found some of the New Separatists from Schwartzenau. On. sitting down with this company the restraining presence of the Lord was felt, under which they remained for some time in silence. Then the poor people opened to them their situation with humility and freedom. The young man above-mentioned had just drawn up a statement of their religious principles, which had been sent to the authorities. This statement he showed to the Friends, as also a letter to the King of Prussia, which had been prepared by one of their ministers, but which, from its lofty assumption of prophetic authority, they could not approve. These people called their ministers, Instruments; and they had fallen into the specious error of attributing to their effusions, whether spoken or written, equal authority with the Holy-Scriptures. On other points their principles resembled those of Friends; as the disuse of outward ceremonies and of oaths, and their testimony against war. It was on these accounts that they were persecuted. They appeared to dwell under the cross of Christ, and to live in much quietness of spirit. Under the existing circumstances the Friends did not feel bound to appoint a general religious meeting with these people. They contented themselves, therefore, with unfolding their sentiments in conversation, giving them books, and before they left Berlenburg, addressing them by letter, in which they enlarged particularly on the subject of the ministry. They also left some copies of their Friends' books with the old society; and both parties declared their belief that the visit they had received was in the order of Divine Providence, and took leave of them in love and confidence.
The friends quitted Berlenburg on the 9th of the Eleventh Month, and proceeded towards Frankfort. After a day's journey over bad roads, they were glad to find themselves once more on the chaussee. They arrived on the 11th at Frankfort, where they called on a few pious individuals, but stayed a very short time in the city, being desirous of visiting some Old and New Separatists at Lieblose near Gelnhausen, about twenty-four miles from Frankfort.
The next morning they accordingly went to Gelnhausen, and had social interviews with members of both associations, but failed to make use of the opportunity they had of holding a meeting for worship with the Old Separatists, which they afterwards regretted.
They then went forward to Raneberg, about six miles distant, to see the Instrument who wrote the letter to the King of Prussia which was shown to them at Schellershammer. They found him a young man, inhabiting an apartment in a lonely castle, romantically situated on a high hill. The access to the spot was through a forest, and by a very bad road. Whatever prejudice in regard to him they might have imbibed from the style of his letter was at once dispelled by his appearance; his look was so humble, so devoted, and with such "extreme sweetness of countenance." John Yeardley and Martha Savory conversed with him a long time; he did not rightly comprehend the nature of the Christian ministry, but he listened calmly and patiently to all they had to say. They left some books with him, and received some in return, descriptive of the awakening which gave rise to the division in the society of Inspirirten. He was then about to set out on foot to pay a religious visit to the members of his own profession in various parts of the country; when at home he worked at his trade, which was that of a carpenter.
The party retraced their steps to Hanau, and the next day pursued their way southwards. They passed through Darmstadt and Heidelberg to Pforzheim. Here they called on Henry Kienlin, whom they found a Friend in principle and practice, and who had given many proofs of his fidelity to his principles by the persecution he had endured from his relations, and the pecuniary loss he had suffered for refusing to comply with ecclesiastical and military demands. He was a man of station and influence in the town. He had not previously had personal acquaintance with any members of the Society of Friends, but had read many of their writings. He accompanied the travellers five miles out of the town to a little flock of Separatists, who had not yet obtained religious liberty, and to whom it was forbidden under a severe penalty to attend meetings held by strangers. On the visiters entering the house of one of them, a number presently collected; and as they stood together, a solemn feeling pervaded the assembly, and John Yeardley was moved to address them in gospel testimony. Henry Kienlin followed, explaining the principles of Friends clearly, and giving them some suitable advice. They were laboring under the want of discipline and organization, and of some one properly to represent their case to the government. Some of them called the next day at Pforzheim, to see the Friends again before they left.
The next place where they halted was Stuttgardt, to which city H. Kienlin gave them his company. Here they visited Queen Catharine's Institution, a school for the training of girls in reduced circumstances, as teachers, &c., where 170 young persons were being educated. They were also introduced to a number of pious individuals, and among them to Pastor Hoffmann of Kornthal, whose excellent institution they were unable at this time to visit. An appointment had been made for them to meet at Basle Louis A. Majolier of Congenies, who was to serve as their guide and French interpreter through Switzerland and France, and they felt obliged on being informed of this appointment to pursue their journey more quickly than they otherwise would have done.
Returning to Pforzheim, they stopped at Muehlhausen, where they called on Mueller, minister of a congregation, consisting of 170 persons, who had separated a few years before from the Catholics. This young man received them with openness and affection, and before they parted, John Yeardley had something to say to him under religious exercise, which he received in the love in which it was spoken. From Pforzheim they went direct to Basle, through Freiburg. On their arrival they were much disappointed to find that Louis Majolier had waited for them many days, and hearing no tidings of them, had returned to Geneva, supposing they had gone on to that city by another route.
At Basle they were introduced to many pious persons, conspicuous among whom was Blumhardt, inspector of the Mission-house, who behaved towards them "as a loving and kind father in Christ." He encouraged them in their concern to have a religious meeting with the students. The meeting took place in the evening when the young men were collected for supper and devotion; they received the word which was preached to them in gospel love, and manifested towards our friends no small degree of tenderness and affection. John Yeardley says:—
We had reason to believe there are among them many precious young men who are preparing for usefulness. The grounds on which this place is conducted are different from most of the kind. None are sent out but those who can really say they feel it to be their religious duty to go to any certain people or country. A sweet young man, who was extremely attentive to us, Charles Haensel, is since gone to Sierra Leone to teach the poor negroes, from a conviction of duty.
One day during their sojourn, C. Haensel took them to a meeting for worship, held in the house of C. F. Spittler.
J.Y. says, we sat until they had performed part of their worship, and then the leader signified to the company that a few Friends from England were present, and told us that if we had anything to offer we had full liberty to do so. Silence ensuing, dear M.S. found herself constrained to address them in a way suited to the occasion; I was also enabled to express what came before me. They afterwards expressed their thankfulness for the opportunity.
From Basle William Seebohm returned to Pyrmont, and the English Friends, hoping that they might meet Louis Majolier at Berne, went forward to that city, but were again disappointed.
Although they were anxious to reach Geneva as quickly as possible, the attraction of gospel love towards Zurich was so strong that they could not continue their journey until they had visited that city. They arrived there on the 2nd of the Twelfth Month. The state of their own feelings and the refreshing Christian intercourse which awaited them are thus described in the Diary:—
First-day, we sat down to hold our little meeting. It was to me a low time, but I still thought the hand of divine help was near to comfort us, and before the close dear M. S. was drawn into supplication in a way which expressed the feelings of all our hearts. After this season of spiritual refreshment, we called on Professor Gessner, who, with his wife and family, was truly glad to see us. Being near dinner-time, we could not stay long; but their daughter offered to accompany us to her aunt's this afternoon, and accordingly came to our inn, and went with us to "Miss" Lavater, who, with Gessner's wife, is a daughter of the pious author Lavater. She received us with open arms, but spoke only German, or at least but very little French, so that M. S. conversed with her in German. She spoke of Stephen Grellet with much interest and affection: he lives in the remembrance of all in this country who have seen and known him, as well as William Allen. How pleasant it is to find that such devoted instruments have left such a good savor behind them! Wherever we follow dear Stephen, his presence has made a sufficient introduction to us; but I regret exceedingly my own incapability of being sufficiently useful in these precious opportunities which we meet with: but, as we often say in our little company, This is like a voyage of discovery; and our humble endeavors, however weak, may have a tendency to open the way for others who may be made more extensively useful, should such ever be led to visit the solitary parts where we have been.
We were invited to drink tea this afternoon by our friend Gessner, and on a nearer acquaintance found this a precious family; his wife is a sweet-spirited person, and their daughters pious young women. One of them, in particular, I thought not only bore the mark of having been with her Saviour, but a desire was also expressed in her countenance to abide with him: may He who has visited her mind draw her more and more by the cords of his love and preserve her from the evil which is in the world! When tea was ended, we dropped into silence, and Pastor Gessner offered up a prayer from the sincerity of his heart, and it was evidently attended by the spirit of divine grace and life. Afterwards dear M.S. and I expressed what was on our minds; I interpreted for her as well as I could, and I hope they understood it. We were all much tendered in sympathy together, and I think the visit to this family will not soon be forgotten: we took leave of them in the most affectionate manner, they expressing sincere desires for our preservation.
On their return to Berne they met with some pious ladies:
One of whom, says John Yeardley, spoke German with me, and entered pretty suddenly on the subject of the bread and wine supper, or sacrament. She seemed to have lost sight that there is a spiritual communion which the soul can hold with its Saviour, and which needs not the help of outward shadows; but it is remarkable when our reasons for the disuse of such things are given in simplicity and love, how the feelings of others become changed towards us; they then see we do not refuse the administration of them out of obstinacy, but from a tender conscience.
On the 8th they drove to Lausanne, and the next day to Geneva. John Yeardley has preserved, in his diary of this part of the journey, a little anecdote of French character which naturally struck him the more forcibly from his having hitherto been conversant only with the phlegmatic temperament of the Germans. The coachman, it should be said, was of that nation.
On the road between Nyon and Geneva a little incident occurred which showed us the liveliness of the French temperament. A man got up behind our carriage, and our coachman very naturally whipped him down. The man followed us quietly for a while, but at length his wounded dignity overcame his patience, and he came up to our coachman and began to speak furiously on the impropriety of his having whipped him. Finding he could make nothing of one who understood not what he said, he addressed himself to our friend Martha Towell, and said he knew he had done wrong; but the coachman should have told him to get down, which was customary in their country, and not to have whipped him. M.T. was prepared to appease his wrath by a mild reply, which eased the poor man very much; otherwise I think we should have had more trouble with him; but he seemed to be quieted, and said, Teach your coachman to say, in French, "descendez."
They reached Geneva just in time to prevent the departure of Louis Majolier:
Who, says Martha Savory, was indeed rejoiced to see us after all his anxiety. But, she continues, great as was our mutual satisfaction at meeting, I am inclined to think it would have been better if this plan had never been proposed, as it was a means of preventing some movements which might have tended much to our relief; and his mind was in such an anxious state about home that he could not give himself to anything that might have opened at Geneva or Lausanne (to which I expected to return), but begged us, very earnestly, to return with him to Congenies, as soon as possible.—
(Letter to E. Dudley.)
They found the religious world at Geneva in a state of convulsion.
The secret poison of infidelity, says J.Y., has a good deal sapped the principle of real religion; and the clergy of the Established Church have preached a doctrine tending to Socinianism. A few young ministers have boldly come forth and separated themselves, and are determined, in the midst of persecution, to preach Christ and him crucified. Some of these seem to have gone to the opposite extreme, for they hold too strongly the principles of predestination. It is a remarkable time in this neighborhood, as well as at Lausanne, where many are awakened to seek more after the substance of religion.
At Geneva they formed a friendship with several persons, among whom were Pastors Moulinier and L'Huillier, and Captain Owen, an Englishman. With the last-named they were united in close bonds of religious affection; they were enabled to administer to his spiritual wants, and he was forward to render them assistance in every possible way.
The journey from Geneva to Nismes was tedious, occupying more than a week.
On approaching Nismes, John Yeardley says, the beautiful olives and vineyards, together with the wild rocky aspect around, form a pleasing sight; and to see them pruning, digging and dunging about the trees, reminds one of the relations of Scripture history.
At Nismes they went to see the amphitheatre:—
From the top of which, says J.Y., we had a view of the city and the surrounding neighborhood, which is indeed beautiful. The great number of olives, vines, fig-trees, &c., excite a train of ideas pleasing and indescribable.
In travelling through Switzerland John Yeardley had been often brought into a low state of mind, and on approaching Congenies, the final object of the journey, his heart was stirred to its depths. It is very instructive to observe what were his feelings in reaching a place to which his mind had been, so long directed.
The road, he says, was better, and the outward prospect a little enlivening; but it is not easy to describe the feelings my mind was under in approaching a place which has so long occupied my thoughtfulness to visit. The prospect is discouraging, but I must be content and sink down to the spring of life, which can alone make known the objects of duty and qualify for their fulfilment. In the midst of all my spiritual poverty a stream of gratitude flows in my heart to the Father of mercies, that he has been pleased to preserve us in many dangers, and bring us safe to this part of his heritage; and if it should be his will that I should have nothing to do but to suffer for his name's sake, may he grant me patience to bear it.
Martha Savory's feelings on the same occasion were also those of deep gratitude for the preservation experienced during their journey, united, she says, with an humbling sense of many omissions and great unworthiness, yet of help having been mercifully administered in the time of need.—(Letter of 2 mo. 10, 1826.)
Edward Brady was spending the winter at Congenies for the sake of his health, and his society was a source of no little comfort to John Yeardley; who, however, still, frequently labored under spiritual depression.
Before dinner, he writes under date of the 23rd of the Twelfth Month, we took a walk to M.S.'s windmill, from whence we had a fair view of Congenies and the neighborhood, which is of a wild description. On reflecting on the place and circumstances connected with it, my mind was filled with various ideas, but none of them of an encouraging nature.
His discouragement was increased by ignorance of the language, and, with his accustomed diligence, on the morrow after his arrival he commenced learning French. On the recurrence of his birth-day, which was nearly coincident with the beginning of the year, he says:—
I am once more entered on a new year of my life, I fear without the last having been much improved; and to form resolutions of amendment in my own strength can avail me nothing. May He who knows my infirmities assist me to overcome them and to become more useful in his cause. My discouragement still continues; I don't feel those refreshing seasons which I have often experienced in times past; the pure life is often low in meeting, and I am not so watchful and diligent to improve my time and talent as I ought to be. I often feel as one already laid by useless, and the language of my heart is, "O that I were as in days past!"
Soon after their arrival at Congenies, Martha Savory met with a serious accident. Thinking a ride would be beneficial to her health, when the rest of the party drove one afternoon to Sommieres, she accompanied them on horseback. She had not a proper saddle, and her horse being eager to keep up with the carriage set off downhill at so rapid a rate as to throw her to the ground. The cap of one knee was displaced by the fall, and, although she soon recovered so as to be able to walk, the limb continued to be subject to weakness for some years.
As soon as M. S. was sufficiently recovered, she and her companions visited the Friends at Congenies and the neighboring villages from house to house, and also assembled on one occasion the heads of families, and on another the young people of the Society. In reviewing a part of this service John Yeardley says:—
3 mo. 6.—It has been a deeply exercising time, but has tended much more to the relief of our minds, at least as regards myself, than I had anticipated. From the discouraged state of mind I passed through for the first few weeks at this place, I expected to leave it burdened and distressed, but am thankful to acknowledge that holy help has been near to afford relief to my poor tossed spirit, and I have cause to believe it is in divine wisdom that I am here.
On the 13th of the Third Month they took leave of their friends at Congenies to return to England, being accompanied by Edward Brady, and during part of the journey by Louis Majolier. By the way they had some religious intercourse with Protestant dissenters at a few places; but at St. Etienne, where they had expected to remain a fortnight, they found the door nearly closed to their entrance; a company of pious persons in this town were at that time so nearly united with Friends as to bear their name.
These, says John Yeardley, in a letter, are now reduced to about twenty in number. They have suffered and still suffer much persecution from the Roman Catholics. They are forbidden by heavy fines to meet together, except in very small companies. We met them several times in their small meetings to much comfort; there are a few among them who have stood firm through the heat of trial, and these are precious individuals. The priests are exceedingly jealous. On our arrival in the town we held our little meeting with, these pious people on First-day morning; the priest came to the house of the woman Friend where we had been to demand who we were and where we lodged, and said it was we who had caused them to err, and he would convince us in their presence that we were not only in error ourselves, but had led them into error also. But we saw nothing of him, and left the place in safety, which we considered a great favor; for such has been their rage that they have dared to shoot at some missionaries who have been in the neighborhood (Letter to Thomas Yeardley, 4 mo. 19.)
The rest of the journey through France was in general dreary, the external accommodation being bad, and the consolation of spiritual intercourse very scanty. At Arras, however, they were refreshed by the company of a Protestant minister, a liberal and worthy man, who had "to stand alone in a large district of weak-handed Protestants among strong-headed Catholics."
Arriving at Calais, Martha Savory and Martha Towell, with Edward Brady, crossed over to England, leaving John Yeardley to follow at a later period. On the 14th of the Fourth Month he writes:—
My dear companions left for England. I watched them from the pier until I could bear to stay no longer, and then returned sorrowfully to my quarters, and soon repaired to the little retired lodging we had engaged for me in the country, where I spent a few days in learning French, &c. In taking a retrospect of our long journey I feel a large degree of peaceful satisfaction in having been desirous to fulfil (though very imperfectly) a religious duty; and these feelings of gratitude excited a wish that the remainder of my few days might be more faithfully devoted to the service of my great Lord and Master.
The little lodging of which he speaks was "a retired chamber on the garden-wall;" and having left it for a few days to go to Antwerp with the carriage and horses which they had used on the journey, on his return it had already acquired, in his view, something of the character of home.
The beautiful green branches, says he, modestly looking in at the window, give me a silent welcome; and the little birds chirruping in the garden, which is my drawing-room and study. I cannot but acknowledge how grateful I feel in being permitted to rest in so quiet a retreat, shut up from many of those anxious cares which have perplexed the former part of my life.—(Diary, 4 mo. 27.)
The last few words of this memorandum may seem at first sight to refer to his temporary seclusion from the world in his little hermitage at Calais; but there is little doubt that they have a wider significance, and contain also an allusion to his anticipated union with Martha Savory. The prospect of this union seems to have sprung up during the journey, and to have become matured before they separated at Calais; and the effect of it was, amongst other things, to set him free from the necessity of pursuing business any longer as a means of livelihood, and to ensure to him a provision sufficient for his moderate wants.
On the 12th of the Fifth Month, John Yeardley left Calais for London. At the inn in Calais, a little incident occurred, the relation of which may be useful to others.
A serious Frenchman, who was going on board the same packet, was struck with my not paying for the music after dinner, and was much inclined to know my reason, believing my refusal was from a religious motive. At a suitable opportunity he asked me, and confessed he had felt a scruple of the same kind, and regretted he had not been faithful. This slight incident was the means of making me acquainted with an honest and religious man, as I afterwards found him to be.
How important it is to be faithful in very little things, not knowing what effect they may have on others!
HIS MARRIAGE WITH MARTHA SAVORY.
During his stay in London, John Yeardley attended the Yearly Meeting, and the Annual Meetings of the School, Anti-slavery, and other Societies, with which he was much gratified. Soon after the termination of the Yearly Meeting, he went into Yorkshire to see his mother.
6 mo. 13.—I left London in the mail for Sheffield, and on the 14th slept at my dear brother Thomas's at Ecclesfield, who took me on the 15th, to Barnsley. I was truly thankful to be favored to see my precious mother once more. On the 19th, I attended the Monthly Meeting at Highflatts. It is not easy to describe the various thoughts which rushed into my mind on seeing so many Friends whom I had known and loved in former days. The meeting was a much-favored time, although we felt the want of some of the fathers and mothers who are removed.
In the next entry there is an allusion to the disastrous commercial panic by which this year was distinguished.
7 mo. 24.—Have been very low and deserted in mind for a long time past. It is a time for the trial of my patience, and yet I have many favors for which I ought to be truly thankful. It is a precious privilege to be relieved from the commercial difficulties which at present abound in the trading world. May it be my lot ever to keep so, if consistent with the divine will.
8 mo. 21.—Monthly Meeting at Wooldale. The meeting was exceedingly crowded with strangers; there was not room in the house to hold all who came. I had been very low all the morning, and to see such a number of people at the meeting sunk me low indeed. I was enabled to turn inward to Him from whom help alone comes; and blessed be his holy Name, he did not forsake me in the needful time, but was pleased once more to give strength and utterance to communicate what came before me. My certificates from Germany and Congenies were read and accepted, and many Friends expressed much unity and sympathy with me on my return to them, which was a comfort and strength to me.
On the 1st of the Ninth Month, he again went to London. During his stay in the city, he took the opportunity of visiting the Industrial Schools at Lindfield, founded by William Allen; a kind of institution which always engaged his warmest sympathy and approbation.
With the new turn which was given to the course of his life by his betrothal to Martha Savory, it is not surprising that he should have considered his residence abroad to be brought, in the order of Divine Providence, to a natural termination, and that he now turned his attention to taking up his abode again in his native land. In selecting a place of residence, he seems to have had no hesitation in making choice of the neighborhood of Barnsley; the spot, as the reader may remember, which seemed to him, when he was obliged to remove to Bentham, as that which had the first claim upon his gospel services. The state of his mind, whilst preparing his intended residence at Burton, the same village where he used to attend meeting in his early days, may be seen by the following memorandum:—
9 mo. 26. At York.—It was a large Quarterly Meeting. Living ministry flowed freely, and I thought even poor me was a little refreshed: but I have been for a long time in a deplorable state, in a spiritual sense.
Since the Quarterly Meeting, my time and thoughts have been much occupied in fitting up our intended residence at the cottage at Burton; and I may truly say, I have been cumbered about "many things," which, I think, has kept my mind in a poor, barren state. O the many weeks that I have had to sit with my mouth in the dust to bemoan my own inward misery! My conflict of mind has been increased by the trying state of my precious mother's health. My attendance on her in this poorly state, and at this season of the year, when I lost my poor dearest Bessie, reminded me strongly of my dear departed lamb.
Before his marriage with Martha Savory was accomplished, he was called upon to attend the deathbed of his mother, and to follow the remains of his father to the grave.
11 mo. 16.—On the 3rd I left the cottage, and took my luggage to go from Barnsley by the coach to London. Stepped down to take leave of my dear mother, but found her so weak that I could not at all think of leaving her; and was indeed glad that I did not go, for the dear creature continued to grow weaker and weaker till a quarter past three o'clock on Seventh-day morning, 4th of Eleventh Month, when she peacefully breathed her last. She was fully sensible to the close, and also fully sensible that her end was near.
Her precious remains were interred at Burton on the 7th, after a meeting appointed for the occasion at Barnsley. In her room, before we left Redbrook [where she had resided], I was enabled to petition the throne of mercy for a little help and strength through the remainder of the solemn scene, which, I think, was in a remarkable manner granted. After having paid the last tribute of affection and duty to our endeared parent, fourteen of our dear friends and relations dined with me at the cottage. It is remarkable that the opening of our residence should be in this awful manner; but we were much comforted in feeling in the midst of all our sorrow, the greatest degree of peace and quietude on the solemn occasion.
On Fourth-day, being the day after we had taken leave of our precious mother's remains, I went with my brother and sister to see our poor dear father, who had been ill in bed about two weeks. We arrived about seven o'clock; but, to our great surprise, about an hour before we reached the place, our beloved father had fallen asleep, never to wake more in this world. This was indeed awful, but the Judge of the earth must do right. We attended the interment on First-day, the 12th. The meeting-house at Woodhouse was pretty full, and a good and tendering meeting it was. It felt hard work to labor among a number of worldly-minded people; but I have learned to consider it one of the greatest of privileges to be appointed to service, even though attended with suffering. Since this time my poor mind has felt more tender and more susceptible of good. O that it may continue, and that I may remain humble and watchful for the time to come, and live prepared for that awful change which I. know not how soon may be sent to my dwelling!—(11 mo. 16.)
On the 18th he pursued his journey to London, and on the 21st, at Gracechurch-street Monthly Meeting, he presented his intention of marriage with Martha Savory. "In a private interview at Elizabeth Dudley's," he writes, "Richard Barrett and E. Dudley expressed their full unity with our intended union, in terms of much interest and encouragement." On the 13th of the Twelfth Month the marriage took place at Gracechurch-street Meeting-house.
The time in silence, says the Diary, was very solemn, and acceptable testimonies were borne by William Allen and Elisabeth Dudley. After meeting we adjourned to the Library to take leave, where a stream of encouragement flowed to us from several of our dear friends, which felt truly strengthening. About twenty of our friends and relations dined at A.B. Savory's at Stoke Newington. The day was spent, I trust, profitably, and on parting, about seven o'clock, we had a comfortable time, and something was expressed by my M. and self, and dear W. Allen. After taking a very affectionate leave, we posted on to Barnet. My brother Thomas and J.A. Wilson took us up the next morning; and we four came down in the coach to Sheffield, and [the nest day] to Ecclesfield to dinner, and arrived at our humble cottage the 15th of the Twelfth Month, I trust with thankful hearts.
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It is appropriate to give in this place some account of Martha Savory's character and Christian experience. That our notice is brief and incomplete, is owing to the loss of most of her own memoranda, and of the letters she addressed to those with whom she was on intimate terms. She possessed, it will be seen, an intellectual character and disposition, as well as an experience, very different from those of her husband. It does not follow, however, that this dissimilarity was a hindrance to their joint service in the gospel, any more than to their social harmony and love. It may be, on the contrary, that Martha Savory's quickness of understanding and of feeling, the readiness with which she apprehended the sentiments and condition of others, her conversancy with the allurements of city life, and the perils of unbelief from which she had been rescued, fitted her in a peculiar degree to be her husband's helper in the ministry, especially in their travels on the Continent.