In the journey which now lay before them, John and Martha Yeardley were about to explore a part of Europe hitherto untried, -- the province of Languedoc, conspicuous in past ages for its superior enlightenment, but now, owing to the temporary mastery of error, wrapt in ignorance and gloom. In this mission, the opportunities which they found for reviving and gathering together the scattered embers of truth, were nearly confined to social intercourse; in seeking occasions for which, they availed themselves of introductions by pious Prostestants from place to place, whilst they were careful, as had always been their practice, to wait, in every successive step, for the direction of the Divine Finger. The mission was performed in much weakness of body, and under frequent spiritual poverty; yet it will be readily acknowledged that theirs was a favored lot, to be able, with the clue of gospel love in their hand, to trace the pathway of Christian truth, and the footsteps of true spiritual worship, and of a faithful testimony for Christ, through the midst of a degenerate and benighted land.
They went to London on the 2nd of the Eighth Month, and spent the time before they sailed in gathering information and counsel for their approaching journey, and in social visits. Speaking of one of these visits (to their nephew J. S., at Clapton), John Yeardley says: --
Before parting we had a religious opportunity, in which a word of exhortation flowed in gospel love, and ability was granted to approach the throne of mercy in solemn supplication. I often wish we were more faithful in raising our hearts to the Lord before separating from our friends when met on social occasions; a blessing might attend such simple offerings.
In a visit they paid to Thomas and Carolina Norton, the subject of establishing a school for the children of Friends in the South of France came under consideration; a project which, as we shall see, they were able in their visit to that part of the country to carry into effect.
They left London on the 16th, and on the 19th arrived at Amiens, where they halted for a few days. They found in this city a movement among the Roman Catholics, a number of whom had joined the Protestant worship. The Protestant Pastor, Cadoret, was very friendly to them; when he heard that they belonged to the Society of Friends, he pressed John Yeardley's hand and said, I am very glad to make your acquaintance; it is the first time I have seen any of your Society, of whom I have heard much.
On the 20th J.Y. writes, in allusion to the spiritual darkness which so generally covered the land of France; --
My soul is cast down, but when I am afflicted because of the wickedness of the people, I call to remembrance these words: |Fret not thyself because of evil-doers. Trust in the Lord and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.| -- Psalm xxxvii.1, 3.
A large number of workmen of various nations are employed at Amiens in weaving. J. and M.Y., visited several of these in their cottages, and before they left the city invited the people of this class to a meeting, especially intended for their own countrymen, but open to all who were willing to come. The meeting, says J.Y., was an occasion precious to our souls; the Lord gave us ability to declare his word. I spoke in English and my dear Martha in French.
At Paris, whither they proceeded on the 22nd, they were disappointed in finding that the majority of the persons at whose houses they called were in the country, and some with whom they had taken sweet counsel in former years had been removed by death. Pastor Audebez was at home, and received them with a cordial welcome. They were detained in Paris longer than they had anticipated, by the illness of Martha Yeardley, and did not leave till the 9th of the Ninth Month. The morning after they had entered Paris the words of Job were brought to J.Y.'s recollection in a forcible manner: -- |Thou hast granted me life and favor, and thy visitation hath preserved my spirit.| (Job x.12); and in going out of the city he was refreshed with the joyful language of David, -- |How excellent is thy loving-kindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings. They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures. For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light.| -- Psa. xxxvi.7-9.
Some letters which John and Martha Yeardley received from England during their sojourn in Paris show, the strong sympathy which accompanied them in their journey, and contain, at the same time, references to events which will be interesting to the reader.
South Grove, Peckham, 8 mo.12, 1842.
Numbers vi.24-27: -- |The Lord bless thee and keep thee; the Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee; the Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel, and I will bless them.| To be pronounced by Aaron the high, priest and his successors, as the type of Him by whom all blessing and favor are bestowed on the church and her children.
The above portion of Holy Scripture, with the 121st Psalm, has been so sweetly in my remembrance since parting with my beloved friends John and Martha Yeardley, that, before retiring for the night, I transcribe the words which convey, so much better than any language of my own, the renewed and abiding desire under which they are committed to the care and guidance of the Good Shepherd, in humble but confiding belief that he will equally watch over, guard and keep, those who go and those who stay; causing each, amidst all variety of circumstances, to realize the soul-cheering truth, that, at the throne of grace, mercy is obtained and grace to help in time of need. May the peace which passeth all understanding keep our hearts and minds through Jesus Christ, prays your nearly-attached friend and sister,
THE SAME TO MARTHA YEARDLEY.
Peckham, 8 mo.21, 1842.
While in the sick-chamber of my sister, instead of at meeting, it feels pleasant to devote part of the evening to thee, my beloved friend. I have enjoyed the thought of your having a good Sabbath at Paris, where, no doubt, a sphere of duty will be found, and perhaps many exercises of faith and patience attend the labor of love which may await you there; while, in the spirit of true dedication and acquiescence so mercifully bestowed upon you, no commandment will be counted grievous, nor any service for your Lord too hard or painful. His words come sweetly to my mind as really the portion of a brother and sister dear in the bond and power of an endless life, -- |Blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.|
Accounts from various parts of this land continue to indicate much unsettlement, and there have been large companies of Chartists in the immediate vicinity of London; but happily the civil power proved equal to their dispersion. One would hope the abundant harvest, now ready to be gathered, may turn the current of feeling, and induce the desire rather to praise the Lord for his goodness, than to spend time and strength in murmurings and disputings with their fellow-mortals. The destruction, not only of property, but of life; in some recent contests, is quite appalling, and we certainly live in very eventful times; the tendency, however, both of the good and evil, is so obviously towards an increase of light and knowledge, that it seems warrantable to expect all will be overruled to better views and practices becoming more general, and the kingdoms of this world being thankfully surrendered to the righteous government of the Prince of Peace. But alas! deep and complicated may be the sufferings yet behind for the church and her children to endure, whether in being sharers in, or but the witnesses of, what is pronounced upon the world of the ungodly.
FROM JOHN ROWNTREE.
Scarborough, 8 mo.29, 1842.
The account of your proceedings at Amiens has been particularly interesting to me. Whether manufacturing employments are unfavorable or otherwise to moral and religions character; or whether it is merely the larger earnings which artizans receive, enabling them more glaringly to gratify their natural and corrupt inclinations than agricultural laborers, can do; whether the passive ignorance of the country laborer, or the more active and intelligent habits, yet combined with moral darkness, of the manufacturing operative, most retards the diffusion of religious truth, are serious questions for us in this country. Our manufacturers have been alarming the whole nation, and threatening us with something like political revolution; but they have received a severe lesson, and many of our jails are filled with the victims of unprincipled agitators. Considering how little of the Christian spirit is generally found in the operations of government, the treatment of these poor creatures has on the whole been lenient, and no very severe punishments are anticipated.
Whether the people of this nation have learned more of righteousness from the judgments of the Lord, which have I think evidently been made known in this part of his earth, is perhaps known only to Him who knoweth all things. I often fear; -- for surely there is very much of darkness and wickedness among us -- yet I can not unfrequently hope that light is spreading, and that although the powers of evil are active and strongly developed, yet the active diffusion of the means of good more than keeps pace with them. |Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world,| is still a consoling assurance to many dejected yet hoping believers. Our dear friend Hannah C. Backhouse is strong in the faith that light increasing, that the fields are white already for harvest, and that the Lord of the harvest is preparing and sending forth laborers into his harvest.
The Protestants whom you found at Amiens, and in some other places, would probably remain totally unknown to ordinary travellers, and perhaps we do not enough consider how little known in a great nation the salt that preserves it may be. The reports from the agent of the Bible Society in France seem to me more than usually encouraging. I hope you may be enabled to impart some spiritual gift or knowledge to many hidden ones who appear to be hungering and thirsting after righteousness in that vain-glorious nation, and that your faith may be strengthened by meeting with such.
John and Martha Yeardley arrived at Lyons on the 13th, and, after making some calls, intended to proceed to Nismes the next day. But not feeling satisfied to leave the city so soon, they concluded to remain there one day more; and they had cause to be thankful in having taken this course.
For, says J.Y., we have made the acquaintance of several religious persons. An evangelist and colporteur named Hermann Lange, a German Swiss, took us to see some Protestant converts, amongst whom we have found much of the interior life. The Lord gave me a word of exhortation for them, and helped me to utter it in French. We had a conversation with our friend Lange respecting the ministry in our Society. Like many other persons he supposed we had no recognized ministers; we explained the usage of Friends, and showed him our certificates, with which he was pleased. He admired the good order in use amongst us, and said that he had for a long time desired to be informed respecting the principles of Friends; that he thought as we did, that an express call of the Holy Spirit was necessary to the ministry, and that women as well as men ought to be allowed to preach, I felt intimately united to him in spirit: on parting we gave him some tracts explanatory of our principles.
Lyons is the head-quarters of popery; the Jesuits here exert a strong influence with the government against the Protestants. We visited a good man named Elfenbein, who with his wife, is very useful to the awakened Protestants. He is a colporteur, and introduces the Holy Scriptures into families to whom he speaks concerning the things of God. He and his wife called upon us in our hotel. On parting he proposed we should pray together. This gave us the opportunity of explaining our sentiments regarding prayer; and we proposed remaining a while in silence, and if it should please the Lord to put words of prayer into our heart, we would express them with the help of the Holy Spirit. After a time of silence, Elfenbein prayed for us with unction in a few words: it was a favored time; thanks be to God.
On the 15th they resumed their journey, and passing through Nismes proceeded to Congenies. They found there Edward and John Pease, who were travelling on a religious errand, and were about concluding their labors in those parts. The meeting was a source of comfort on both sides. The next day, which was First-day, was a solemn season: the gospel message was largely delivered in the little meeting-house, and Christine Majolier interpreted for those who spoke in English. The Two-months' Meeting was held, and here, as well indeed as on every other occasion, the English Friends missed the company and help of their valued friend, Louis A. Majolier.
After residing for a while at Congenies, they removed to Nismes, where they preached to the strangers who attended the usual meetings for worship, distributed religious tracts in the city and its environs, and instituted a Scripture Reading Meeting for the young. But the object which most strongly engaged their attention at Nismes was the foundation of a boarding-school for the daughters of Friends. Louis Majolier, during a great part of his life had conducted a day-school at Congenies: this school was, of course, not accessible to the children of those Friends who lived at a distance; and soon after L.M. died even this was given up, and the means of education in the Society failed altogether. In their project for supplying this deficiency, John and Martha Yeardley found the parents and other Friends ready to second their efforts; and at the Two-months' Meeting in the Eleventh Month, it was resolved to establish in the first place a school for girls only at Nismes, and a committee was appointed to carry this resolution into effect. A mistress was found without much difficulty in Justine Benezet, a valuable Friend, who had had for sixteen years the superintendence of the Orphan Asylum, and whose health had in some degree given way under the too onerous charge.
In reference to the accomplishment of this undertaking, J.Y. writes: --
12 mo.14. -- Nehemiah i.11: -- |O Lord, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to fear thy name; and prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day.| I often think of these words of the prophet, and they [have supported me] when my soul has been cast down on account of the school.
During their abode at Nismes they visited the little congregations of Friends which lie to the westward of that city, and had to record that the presence of their Divine Master went with them, giving them his word to declare, and inclining the hearts of the hearers to receive it.
A letter from John Rowntree, which reached them towards the end of the year, contains some observations on the work they had found to do in their journey, with an interesting notice of what was passing in England.
Scarborough, 11 mo.14, 1842.
MY DEAR FRIENDS,
.... The plan of your meetings for Scripture instruction seems to me particularly good; you will, through them, have numerous opportunities for impressing on the minds of your hearers the inestimable value of the Holy Scriptures, when properly received, and made available by the enlightening influence of the Holy Spirit, and the worthlessness -- nay, the danger -- of resting satisfied with a mere knowledge of their words. The words of our Lord were |spirit and life| to those who would receive them as such; yet how many who heard them were to be judged by them at the that day, because they believed not.
We still hear sad accounts of distress in the manufacturing districts of the country. Some of your friends have probably informed you that at our last Quarterly Meeting much sympathy was expressed for the destitute artizans, and a liberal subscription was commenced, and was to be carried forward in all our meetings for their relief: a few days ago it amounted to L800 -- I hope it will exceed L1000: but what is that, it may be said, among so many? yet I hope much good may be done by it, and Friends in other parts of the nation seem to be considering whether they ought not to make some efforts for similar purposes. At Liverpool we hear that upwards of L200 has been raised.
You will probably have heard of the very sudden death of Jonathan Backhouse, whilst his wife was laboring under a religious engagement in the north of our county. His change seemed a translation from that state of strong but imperfect love which a member of the militant Church might feel here below, to that fullness of love which his Saviour had purchased for him above.
In the Third Month, 1843, they quitted Nismes, taking their young friend Jules Paradon as their companion.
The parting, says J.Y., from the dear family at the school was sorrowful. Before taking leave, we had a religious opportunity with the children, in which all hearts were touched.
They arrived at Montpelier on the 7th. The pious characters to whom they were introduced in this city were mostly of the upper class -- bankers, doctors, lawyers, and professors. They found that the principles of the Society of Friends were very little known there, but that many were desirous of being acquainted with them. Being pressed in their spirit to propose a meeting for worship with such as were disposed to give their company, their new friends readily agreed to it, and about thirty-five persons sat down with them at their inn. The assembly was, as they believed, owned by the great Master, who showed himself to be their strength in the time of weakness, and gave them power to preach the gospel and explain the nature of true worship. Pastor Lissignol and Dr. Parlier were amongst those to whom they were the most united. The latter filled the office of mayor when Josiah Forster and Elizabeth Fry were at Montpelier. He told John and Martha Yeardley that the meeting they had just held had been strengthening to his faith. That the Lord by his Spirit should move the hearts of his children in a distant land to visit his heritage in other countries, he regarded as a proof of his love; and he spoke of the unity of spirit which is felt by those of different nations who love the same Lord, as a precious mark of discipleship.
The town of Montpelier, say J. and M.Y., is built with taste and elegance, and the situation is most delightful: there are 4,000 Protestants in a population of 86,000. On Sixth-day (the 10th) we left this place of deep interest, with hearts grateful to the God and Father of all our sure mercies, in that he had enabled us to bear a testimony to the spirituality of worship as set forth by our Saviour himself.
After leaving Montpelier, they continue the narrative of their journey as follows: --
We lodged that night at Passanas, a dark Roman Catholic town. Inquiring if there were any Protestants, the chambermaid replied, |Protestants! what is that?| When we had made her understand, she said there were a few, but they went to Montagnac to mass.
11th. -- We slept at Narbonne, an ancient town of 10,000 inhabitants. No openness to receive even a tract; the inquiry for a Protestant excited an evident bitterness in the reply.
On the 12th, held our little meeting with our faithful friend Jules, in which ability was granted to supplicate for the spread of divine light over this benighted district. At 9 o'clock we set out to make a Sabbath-day's journey: the wind extremely high and always in our face, which fatigued Nimrod [their horse] as well as ourselves. We dined at Lesengnan: not a Protestant in the place, yet we met with a circumstance worth recording. Jules, who is ever watchful to find out who can read, gave a few tracts to some boys in the stable-yard. When I went out, writes J.Y., to see our horse, several rather bright-looking boys followed me, asking for books. After ascertaining that they, could read, I supplied them. This was no sooner known, than boys and girls came in crowds, soon followed by many of their parents. As our visitors increased, I ran upstairs to fetch my dear M.Y., and we embraced the opportunity to speak to them on the importance of religion. No doubt curiosity drew many to us, for we were a novel sight there, and the mingled multitude was not less so to us. Among our auditors was a messenger of Satan to buffet us. He was a good-looking man, who expressed a seeming approval of what we had done, saying we made many friends. We told him they were all children of the same Almighty Parent, and that there was but one true religion, and one heaven. This observation drew off his mask, and he began to express doubts whether either heaven or hell really existed, and brought forward the threadbare argument of not believing what he could not see or prove. We asked him if he had a soul: he said he had. We asked him how be knew that he had a soul, for he could not see it: he replied, he believed that he had a soul, but that his soul would die with his body. We then asked him why two and two made four: he said he could not tell, and yet acknowledged he was bound to believe it. The countenances of many around beamed with joy at seeing this darkling perplexed; and we did not shrink from exhorting him to repentance and faith in Christ, who died for him and for all men.
On returning to our room the landlady entered with a fine-looking girl, for whom she begged a book. This opened our way to speak to her of things connected with salvation. She said, -- |We have not much of religion here.| |Why so?| we asked. |Because the people do not like to confess to the priests.| |And what is the use,| said we, |of confessing to man?| |Because,| she replied in somewhat trembling accents, |we think it eases our consciences, for the priests are the appointed ministers to take charge of our souls.| |What,| we replied, |a man take charge of immortal souls! God never committed the power to forgive sins to man: Jesus Christ alone can pardon sins; he died to save us!| I shall never forget the countenance of this dear woman, which seemed to express her long-shaken confidence in her spiritual guides. We exhorted her to come to the Saviour, who intercedes for us without the aid of man, and gave her a New Testament, which she said she would read.
12th. -- Went to Maux to sleep. The landlady was communicative: she told us that some travellers like ourselves some time ago had given her a New Testament, which she had lent about the village, together with tracts, and that she wished for more. We inquired if there were any persons in the village who would like to come to us for books. She soon sent us an interesting young woman, a schoolmistress, to whom on her entrance we presented some tracts. She regarded them with an air of thoughtfulness which seemed to measure the quantity to be taken by the price she would have to pay for them. When she found they were to be had gratis, her countenance brightened, and with it the brightness of her mind showed itself. On speaking with her of the responsibility of her profession, and the importance of imbuing the minds of children with just principles, she said, |I am desirous of instructing the children in the religion of the heart. Religion,| added she, |though a good thing, is badly put in practice in our church; the people do not like to confess to the priests, and there is a great desire for instruction and to receive books.|
They saw again at the Inn at Maux the man who had opposed them at Lessengnan, and found him much better disposed than he had been the day before. He told them he had been a Romish priest, but being disgusted with the practices of his church, he had left it and joined the army: he promised to read the books they gave him.
Our present mode of travelling (with our own horse), they continue, though somewhat slow, affords opportunities of endeavoring to do a little good, which we should miss in travelling by Diligence or extra-post. It is curious and instructive to observe the various dispositions of the people in the dark places through, which we pass: sometimes they are so fanatical as to tear a tract before our face; others receive them with joy. During a half-hour's rest for our horse at a village near Castelnaudry, my M.Y. made the acquaintance of an aged woman at the door of her cottage, who really did us good. On inquiring if she could read, |It is my consolation,| said she, |to read the Scriptures.| |And we have great need of consolation,| we answered. |Yes,| said she, |I am a widow of near eighty years, and have had many cares; but I pray to God, and he grants me the consolation of his Holy Spirit, and if I confide in him he will never forsake me.|
At Castelnaudry they left the main road and crossed the mountains to Saverdun, in order to visit the Orphan Institution in that place.
By not going first to Toulouse, remarks John Yeardley, we saved about thirty miles of travelling; but it was ill-spared, for one part of the road was so bad that it required a forespan of two oxen to drag the carriage through the deep mire and over the dangerous ditches. After a little dinner at a poor place in the mountains, we procured a mule as a reinforcement; for we stuck so fast in the mud that I never expected we should be able to extricate ourselves. My poor M.Y. had to walk a great part of the way; I am quite sure extra strength was given us for the emergency. We lodged at Mazeres, where we called on the Protestant minister Besiere, a most open-hearted Christian. He knew some of our Society, and wherever this is the case it insures us a welcome. On our telling him the dangers we had encountered on the road, and that we had escaped unhurt, he sweetly said, -- |The Angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him, and delivereth them.| -- Psal. xxxiv.7.
On arriving at Saverdun, on the 17th, we immediately pursued the object of our visit, and proceeded to the Institution, where we delivered our letters of recommendation, and received a cordial reception from the director, Pastor Enjalbal. When the little porters opened the door, they cried one to another, |Voila des Anglais!| The director seems to be wonderfully fitted for the post he fills. He was once a captain in the army. After his conversion, his heart was penetrated with gratitude to his Saviour for bringing him to a knowledge of the truth, and he desired to devote the remainder of his days in doing good to his fellow-creatures, particularly in the instruction of youth. The project of the Saverdun school was then in agitation, and a manager was wanted. The excellent Pastor Chabrand applied to him, knowing him to be the man for the office if he would only undertake it. When he visited him for this purpose on behalf of the committee, he found him in his chamber weeping, and, as his confidential friend, he asked him what was the matter. |Why,| said he, |my heart overflows with love to the Saviour, for all that he has done for me, and I seem to live without doing anything for his cause in return.| |Well,| said the pastor, |but the way is now open for you; I am come with a proposal from the committee for you to accept the government of the Saverdun Institution; but I will not have an answer from you at present: weigh the matter for a fortnight, and I will come again and receive your decision.| A sense of duty decided him to accept the offer.
The superintendent conducted us to the members of the committee, to whom we had brought a kind introduction from Pastor Frossard of Nismes. The supporters of this institution, are the most influential in the town, rich, and withal pious characters. The Mayor, their secretary, is very active: he with his wife, an excellent woman, and several members of the committee, met us in the evening at our inn; they appeared to be greatly interested in works of benevolence, and in everything connected with religion and education.
Toulouse, 3 mo.20. -- We arrived in this great and busy city on Seventh-day evening. Our first call was on the brothers Courtois, to whom we had letters of introduction from our Christian friends at Nismes. They received us in a most cordial manner and were very open and communicative.
On First-day morning, after our little meeting, we called on Professor F. Banner; he was rejoiced to see my M.Y., whom he knew at Congenies twenty years ago. He was then a Roman Catholic; indeed, in name he is not changed; but he is become very spiritually-minded, and much attached to Friends and our principles, believing them, as he said, to be the nearest in accordance of any with the doctrines of the New Testament. He has been, with his wife, several times to our hotel, and we feel sweet unity with his quiet exercised spirit. His situation here is important, having a boarding-school for the children of Protestants, with a few Roman Catholics, his piety and sincerity securing to him the confidence of both parties, which is matter of wonder in this day of religious conflict. He is one of those characters, more of whom we are desirous of finding; one who wishes rather to enlighten than to censure the dark prejudices of men.
We spent the evening with our kind friends the Courtois, and attended worship in their house. F.C. read the parable of the great supper (Luke xiv.), and made some remarks in explication of it; after which Pastor Chabrand spoke with much feeling on the influence of the Holy Spirit, the gradual operation of the Spirit in the secret of the soul, and the preciousness of dwelling in Christ, as the branch in the vine, in order to bear fruit.
Pastor Chabrand told us in conversation that the first time he really saw the state of his soul and his need of a Saviour, was in the meeting-house at Westminster during half an hour's silence. After this time of precious silence a minister arose and spoke in so remarkable a manner to his state, unfolding the history of his life, that he was melted to tears. Ever since that time he has appreciated the principles of our religious Society, and particularly our practice of waiting upon God in silence. These remarks opened our way to speak on a subject which has often given us pain in our intercourse with pious people, viz., the practice of going suddenly from one religious exercise to another. We expressed our opinion that Christians, in general, in their worship, would derive more edification from what is spoken, if they were to dwell under the good feeling which is sometimes raised, before passing so precipitately to singing, or even to prayer. With this he entirely agreed, and thought it a point of the utmost importance; he wished it could be put in practice, for their church in general suffered loss for want of more quiet gathering of spirit before God.
John and Martha Yeardley did not go further towards the west than Toulouse; on quitting that city they turned northwards to Montauban.
For several days, so they write, before reaching the extent of our journey westward, we travelled through a fertile country, having the Pyrenean mountains on the south, covered with snow, a magnificent sight for those who travel to see the beauties of nature, but our hearts are often too heavy to enjoy them.
Montauban, 3 mo.23. -- Last evening we reached this pretty town, part of which is built on a high cliff overlooking the river Tarn, and commanding an extensive view over a fertile plain. Our first call was on Professor Monod; his wife is an Englishwoman; she was pleased to see her compatriots, and introduced us to Professor de Felice and some other pious individuals. Professor Monod invited us to spend the evening at their house, along with a number of persons who join in their family reading, and we did not think it right to refuse the invitation. A pretty large company assembled in the professor's room at 8 o'clock, among whom were some students of the college. The eighth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans was read, and some remarks made by the professor; he then kindly said, if we had any word of exhortation in our hearts, he hoped we should feel quite at liberty to express it. We felt it right to make some observations with reference to the fore-part of the chapter, which sets forth that state of Christian experience in which the mind is prepared to participate in the many precious promises contained in the middle and latter portions; ability was also given us to express our faith in the one Saviour and Mediator, and in the influence and guidance of the Holy Spirit, and his office in the sanctification of the soul. This favored opportunity closed with supplication. We are well satisfied with our visit to this place; it has removed some prejudices from our minds, and perhaps may have shown to those with whom we have had intercourse that Friends are sound in the faith. The short time we spent with Professor de Felice has left a sweet impression on our minds. He mourned over the want of spiritual life among the Protestants of Montauban, amid, as he said, |much preaching, and many appeals to conscience.|
At Castres, where they stopped on the 26th, they visited the Orphan House, and held intercourse with the pastors, and with a pious lawyer.
On our journey, says John Yeardley, we had heard of a man near this town who bore the name of Quaker, and we inquired of the lawyer if he knew whether he was sound in the Christian faith. The lawyer spoke with respect of the so-called Quaker, but thought that in his opinions he favored Arianism. |If so,| said I, rather hastily, |we will not seek him or recognize.| |Why,| said the advocate, |it is the very reason you should go to see him, and try to do him good.| At this reply my conscience was stung on account of my hasty conclusion; and after reflecting on the matter, we walked next morning five or six miles into the country in search of the new Friend. He received us with joy, and we soon satisfied ourselves as to his soundness in the Christian faith; but he was rather ardent in his expectations of the reign of Christ on the earth. Twenty years ago he refused to take an oath on a jury; the judge told him he must go to prison, to which the Friend replied, |I am willing to go to prison, but I cannot swear to condemn any person to death; if you place me as juryman I shall acquit all the criminals.| The judge, believing his scruples to be sincere, dismissed him without further trouble. This dear man attached himself to us in such a manner that it was difficult to part from him; he pressed us to remain some days in his house, but this our duty did not permit.
From Castres they returned through Beziers to Nismes, visiting various little companies of Protestants by the way, and arrived in the latter city on the 1st of the Fourth Month. They found that the school had increased in numbers, and the scholars had made good progress.
On entering the school-room, says J.Y., the girls all flocked to us, their black eyes sparkling with joy, while they clung round us with their little arms to be embraced. The harmony and peaceful feelings which pervade the family are truly comforting to our hearts.
In taking a retrospect of what they had done up to this time, they write thus to their Friends in England: --
The manner in which our gracious Lord has condescended to open the way for a portion of labor in this part of his vineyard, adds a grain to our faith: the service which has hitherto fallen to our lot on this journey is of that nature towards which we had a view before we left our native land; and we are bound gratefully to acknowledge, amid many conflicts and discouragements, that sweet peace is sometimes our portion. But our dear friends in England will readily conceive that our baptisms are various and deep, during our separation from the bosom of our own little visible church; and we hope to retain a place in their sympathy and prayers, when they are favored with access to the throne of mercy. Our love flows freely and unceasingly to all our dear friends, from whom it is always comforting to hear. Brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course and be glorified.
On the 18th of the Fourth Month they again left Nismes, and commenced their journey towards Switzerland, accompanied, as before, by Jules Paradon. On their way to Grenoble, they had opportunities of spreading many copies of the Scripture Extracts, which they had with them, among the Roman Catholics; and they had also some interesting conversation with individuals of that profession.
At Tullins, they write, the eagerness to receive books was so great, that a crowd soon assembled around us, and we found it difficult to satisfy them; again, at the moment of our departure, they pressed round our carriage, and we could hardly separate ourselves from them.
On the 22nd (to continue their own narrative) we arrived at Grenoble, with a view to spend First-day there. A letter from one of our acquaintances at Nismes to Pastor Bonifas procured us a kind reception, and he invited us to spend First-day evening at his house, where a meeting was to be held. We did not, however, feel quite at liberty to attend, as we found the regular church-service would be performed. The next day we received another invitation from the Pastor to a meeting where only the Scriptures would be read. We thought it best to accept it, and by going a little before the time proposed, we had a very interesting conversation with the Pastor, his wife, and a young Englishwoman, on our peculiar views. The meeting was an assembly of various classes, with a preponderance of young persons, and was a very interesting occasion: many of the young people were deeply affected. In the morning of this day we had been to see an aged Catholic woman of the Jansenist persuasion: she appeared to have no dependence but on her Saviour, and, full of faith and love, to have her conversation in heaven; she gave us a sweet benediction at parting.
They left Grenoble on the 25th, and pursued their way by Chambery to Geneva, taking care to dispose of most of their French tracts by the way, lest they should be stopped at the Savoy custom-house. They arrived in the city of Calvin on the 27th.
Here, as on former occasions, they found much to interest them. Several of the ministers and professors whom they had known before, seemed to have become more spiritually-minded; and with the flock of the deceased Pastor Monnie, in particular, |of precious memory,| they were united in near Christian fellowship.
It seems to us, they write, that the feeling is spreading of the necessity of the immediate guidance of the Holy Spirit; and we believe that this view of the gospel, with that of the universality of divine love, is much more calculated to win upon unbelievers, and to enlighten Romanists, than the high Calvinistic doctrines which have so generally prevailed, and which impede the growth of Christian humility and daily dependence on divine help.
At our little meeting on First-day morning, we had the company of a widow and her daughter. The former is like a mother to those around her who are seeking spiritual things, and we were much comforted together. She invited us to tea, and to have a meeting in her house the next evening: a considerable number were collected, among whom were a pastor, several professors, and many females. The pastor read a chapter; and when, after a time of silence, the way opened for communication, it was like casting seed into prepared ground, and the retirement of spirit before the Lord which we recommended seemed really to be experienced before we separated; it was a silence to be felt better than expressed.
Amongst other pious persons in this city, they had an introduction to the Countess de Sellon.
She received us, says J.Y., with open heart, saying, |I am fond of the principles of your Society, believing they have the real substance of religion, stripped of its forms.| She asked us many questions, and we felt sweet unity with her.
On the 3rd of the Fifth Month they went to Lausanne, where they renewed their friendship with Professor Gaudin, and had interviews with several other seeking persons.
We were, they say, most interested by a pious magistrate, Frossard de Saugy, near relative to a dear friend of ours at Geneva. He inquired respecting the education of children, of whom he has many -- by what means he could make them sensible of vital religion. We replied that all we could do was to represent to them the love and mercy of our blessed Redeemer, and recommend them to cherish the convictions of his Holy Spirit, which are very early bestowed upon us all: he entirely united in our views.
From Lausanne they went to Yverdun, and the day after to Neufchatel. Since their last visit in 1834, some who were very dear to them had been summoned to eternal rest, which cast a shade of natural sorrow over their entrance into the place: and they were called upon, in addition, deeply to sympathise with some of those who remained.
The family of Professor Petavel has sustained a great loss in the death of his eldest son, accompanied, by circumstances peculiarly striking. This young man was about nineteen years of age. He had been very serious for some time before his illness, and wished much to be employed as a missionary. Early instructed by his mother in the importance of seeking divine influence, his mind was prepared to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit; and he had a deep conflict to pass through, which he confided to his mother, and which he seemed to think was the presage to suffering. In performing some gymnastic exercises he received a fall on the head, which after some time was followed by a paralytic affection of the whole body, so that he became entirely helpless, and his speech was taken away. It was only his tender mother who could ascertain his wants and administer to them, which she did with unceasing assiduity. After about six months his speech was almost miraculously restored, and he used it in praising the Lord for the remarkable support and consolation of his Spirit. He said he had been sensible of all that had passed, and that he had been abundantly confirmed in the belief that true religion consists in hearing the voice of our blessed Redeemer, and seeking to do his will. After some time the capability of speaking much again forsook him; yet he lingered some months longer, and when M.Y. beheld him soon after our arrival, he appeared like a precious lamb purified, and waiting to be gathered to the everlasting fold. The resignation of his parents was truly edifying: they proposed that we should both come the next day, and sit quietly beside him for a while. This proved a deeply impressive time; the presence of the Great Shepherd was evidently with us, and called forth thanksgiving for the mercies received and the deliverance anticipated. While listening to a few words addressed to him at parting, he fixed his dying eyes upon us with an expression not to be forgotten, and before midnight the precious spirit was received into the arms of its Saviour. As we left for Locle early in the morning, we did not hear of this until our return the day following.
Their visit to their favorite orphan-institution was, as ever, very interesting. They thus describe the state in which they found it: --
Our dear German friend M. Zimmerlin, the associate of dear M. A. Calame, still lives: she received us with overflowing affection. After tea, which we took there, she hastened to show us the improvements in the premises, which, she said, our kind friends in England had contributed to procure by their donations through us. The institution appears to be now in excellent order. In the evening, the children, 138 in number, were collected with the mistresses and family, and we had a very satisfactory opportunity with them. The same precious influence seems to prevail which we have noticed heretofore.
They returned to Neufchatel the next evening, where they heard that the remains of Paul Petavel were to be interred the next day.
His father, they add, was desirous that the meeting we intended to hold with our friends should be held at his house that evening. When M.Y. went to see the family, she found the parents fall of gratitude and praise. The funeral was attended by the students from the college, and a large number of others; for the professor is much beloved, and the affecting situation of his son has been a lesson of instruction to the young people who used to associate with him, and seems to have had an effect on the whole town. The evening of this day proved to be a memorable time: a considerable number were collected, among whom were several pastors and a number of young persons. I seldom, says J.Y., remember to have attended a more solemn occasion. The Saviour's presence was near, to console and instruct. After my M.Y. and I had relieved our minds in testimony and supplication, the professor and the other pastors spoke with much feeling; I think it was evident they were constrained by the Spirit. We parted (to resume the words of their joint epistle) from the family under a strong conviction of the support and consolation which those experience who depend in living faith upon their blessed Redeemer.
From Neufchatel, John and Martha Yeardley went to Berne, where they renewed the bond of friendship with those to whose spiritual state they had ministered in former years. With these they united several times in worship and in social religious intercourse. At the close of one of these meetings, the lady of the house, an active and benevolent character, acknowledged, that she was sensible of the truth of what they had heard, and believed that in the present day the Lord was leading many of his devoted children to listen to his voice, that they might be brought more under the teachings of his Spirit, and from this would flow their consolation. |This (they observe) is the more remarkable, as, when we were here before, she held views on election and the finished work of grace, almost to the exclusion of the work of 'regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost.'|
We find in some here, writes John Yeardley in his Diary, a desire for food of a more spiritual nature: they really enjoy waiting on the Lord in silence; but the customary activity is strong, and not easily broken through. I trust the day will come when silence will more prevail in the assemblies of the people. We left Berne with feelings of peace and of much affection for many in that place, and thankful to our Heavenly Father, in that he had prepared the hearts of his people to receive the invitation to feed on that spiritual food which alone can nourish the soul to eternal life.
They arrived at Basle on the 17th. Since they had visited this city in 1834, Hoffmann, the director of the institution at Kornthal, had succeeded Blumhardt in the superintendence of the Mission-house. He received them with his usual kindness, and one evening they supped with the students, and had a religious meeting with them. They spent another evening with a pious family, where several missionaries and pastors were present. In speaking of this occasion, John and Martha Yeardley were led into a reflection which deserves to be pondered by Christians of every name.
Before separating, they say, the Scriptures were read, and some of the missionaries spoke on the importance of uniting in desire for a more general outpouring of the Spirit: J.Y. also spoke much to the same effect. It was, we trust, a profitable season; but the reflection arose on this occasion, as it has done on some others when among serious persons not of our profession, that if they would but suffer the degree of divine influence mercifully afforded thoroughly to baptize the heart with the true baptism, much creaturely activity would be done away, and the light of the gospel would shine in them and through them in much greater purity.
We paid and received visits, they continue, from some of the Interieurs whom we had known before, and had to lament something of a visionary spirit in the midst of right feeling. We recommended simplicity, and close attention to the Scriptures and to the Shepherd's voice.
One day John Yeardley went into the mountains to see an establishment called the Pilgrim Mission Institution, where he was interested in meeting three young men from Syria, who had come there to escape the scenes of war in their own country, and with the desire to be rendered capable of instructing their countrymen.
They left Basle on the 22nd, and entered Germany. They were, for a time, a good deal embarrassed with the change of language from French to German, having had little or no occasion to use the latter tongue during their journey. They stopped at Carlsruhe, where they called, with an introduction, on the Princess of Wuertemberg.
She received us, they say, very kindly, and we had a satisfactory interview with her, and also with an interesting female who has the charge of her children. After much conversation with the princess in French, she introduced us to her three lovely children, and asked J.Y. to give them a word of exhortation. We remained silent awhile, and, under a precious feeling, offered prayer for the divine blessing on this family and all its branches; after which the word of sympathy and exhortation flowed freely. At parting, the princess took a cordial leave of us, and said she received our visit as a blessing from the Lord.
The next day they pursued their way towards Pyrmont. Being weary with travelling, and their horses also needing rest, they tarried two days at Frankfort. Here they saw their old friend Von Meyer; and spent much of their time in the company of Dr. Pinkerton. |I was instructed,| says J.Y., |with seeing the charity and Christian meekness in which he daily lives.|
On the 3rd of the Sixth Month they reached Pyrmont, where they remained a few weeks. They attended on the 2nd of the Seventh Month the Two-months' Meeting, at Minden. Many peasants were present in the meeting for worship, and on John and Martha Yeardley's return to Pyrmont, some of them came to the meeting there on First-day, and begged the Friends to go to Vlotho to meet a company of their brethren. They gave the peasants liberty to call a meeting at that place for Third-day, the 18th.
On Second-day, as they were setting off, an accident happened to John Yeardley.
He had left the horse's head, writes M.Y., to attend to placing the baggage, when, hearing another carriage drive rapidly up, our horse set off, and my J.Y., in attempting to stop him by catching hold of the reins, fell, and was much bruised, but through mercy no limb was broken. We applied what means were in our power, and I urged our remaining at Pyrmont, and sending to defer the meeting; but he would go on to Lemgo. His whole frame was much shaken, and we passed a sleepless night, so that the meeting next day was not a little formidable. It proved a much longer journey to Vlotho than we had expected; when we arrived we found a large number assembled. Five of our Friends came from Minden to meet us, and it was a remarkable meeting, notwithstanding we had gone to it under so much discouragement: we have cause to bless and adore our Divine Master, who caused his presence to be felt amongst us. August Mundhenck interpreted for J.Y. and for me. J.R. also suffered his voice to be acceptably heard in testimony, after which the meeting closed in solemn supplication. We pursued our way that night to Bielefeld and the next day towards the Rhine.
On their way home they stopped at Duesseldorf. The ten years which had gone by since they had visited the Orphan Asylum at Duesselthal, near this town, had wrought a great change in the physical condition of Count Von der Recke. He looked worn and ill, the effect of care and anxiety for his numerous adopted family; but he evinced a spirit of pious resignation, and had a hearty welcome ready for his visitors. They returned to England through Belgium, and arrived in London on the 8th of the Eighth Month.
They did not at once return to their home at Scarborough, but spent a month in Hertford, Oxford and Buckinghamshire, attending the meetings of Friends in these counties, and visiting that of Berkhamstead several times.