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!