John Yeardley left Hull on the 14th of the Fourth Month, and arrived at Hamburg on the 21st. For the purpose of attending the Exchange, and of becoming acquainted with the language, he hired a lodging in the neighborhood of the city, where he remained for some weeks. Writing to his brother, under date of the 23rd of the Fourth Month, he says, --
In the neighborhood of Hamburg, lodgings are not easily obtained for so short a time as a month. We succeeded in procuring a room three miles from the town, at Eppendorf, in the house of three young women, sisters. It is a charming walk, mostly over the fields. It is quite a cross for me to go on 'Change; but as it is the only place for information, I must submit to it, my visit to this place being for instruction in the language and mode of conducting business: but, from what I have yet seen, it will be quite the best for me to proceed into the interior of the country in a few weeks.
What his reflections were when he found himself actually an inhabitant of the land where for so long a time he had mentally dwelt, will be seen by the following entry in his Diary. The maxim with which it concludes may be said to be the motto which he inscribed on his shield for the remainder of his life.
This morning I am thankful to feel something of a peaceful serenity to cover my mind, and am well contented in being placed on this side of the German Ocean. I consider it an unspeakable blessing that I do not feel so much as a wish to return, until the time may come that I can see clearly that it is right for me so to do. Should I not be favored with health and strength to do what I have sometimes thought designed for me before I set my foot in this land, or should my Heavenly Father see meet to cut short the work in righteousness and not permit that I ever see my native country again, his gracious will be done. I leave this as a testimony that none need to fear his rightly sending forth those who ask and rightly wait for his counsel. I do not know why I should thus write: I trust it proceeds from a resigned heart; and I will add, for fear I should never have another opportunity, that I should wish all to know who have known me, that I have no reason to doubt the rectitude of my crossing the water with a prospect of a residence in this country, and that should time with me now close, I die in peace with my God, and in that love for mankind which believes "every nation to be our nation, and every man our brother." -- (6 mo. 8.)
The next day's diary consists of a short but earnest prayer.
First-day morning, -- O, gracious and most merciful Father, be pleased to strengthen my hands for the work that is before me; be pleased to give me the power of speech; be pleased to give me thy word, with power to publish it to those whose hearts thou shalt be pleased to prepare for the reception of it.
The family with whom he lodged at Eppendorf strongly engaged his religious sympathy.
I spent, he says in his diary of the 8th of the Seventh Month, about nine weeks at E. in a very agreeable manner with the family of three young women. The one who is the mistress of the house is very seriously inclined. She told me she had read a play-book giving a description of our Society in the character of one of its members, and ever since she had had a particular desire to see one of us, and that she could not but admire with thankfulness that she had been gratified in having one to reside under her roof. She had heard of Thomas Shillitoe's being in Hamburg; and when I told her he was now in Norway, she asked me his business there, I told her that our Friends had sometimes a desire to visit their brethren and other religiously-disposed people in foreign lands, and that such was his errand. She replied, "Yes, and I believe it is also yours: this is Gospel love indeed; while so many here will not think for themselves, you come so far to visit and help them." In saying this she was overcome with tears.
John Yeardley left Hamburg on the 2nd of the Seventh Month, and arrived at Pyrmont on the 5th. Writing to his brother, he says:
I have now had a specimen of German travelling. Thou wilt be sure I was very bold to set off quite alone except the driver, but it proved far easier than I had anticipated. Instead of having a conveyance to seek when I got over to Harburg, there was a man on the steam-packet who offered to take me in his carriage, and the whole of my packages, to Pyrmont.
A great part of the country between Harburg and Hanover is very dreary and barren, much resembling Bentham Moor; but the road is much worse, being in many places not less than eighteen inches or two feet deep in sand. When we came near Celle and Hanover, the country became quite different, being very fruitful, and the prospect charming. Nearly all the way from Hanover to Pyrmont it is beautiful travelling, and the road mostly good. Pyrmont and the scenery in the surrounding neighborhood is beautiful beyond description.
At Eppendorf he had been cheered by a visit from Benjamin Seebohm and John Snowdon, from Bradford, who informed him that a committee from the Yearly Meeting were on their way to Pyrmont. This was to him most welcome news, and the Friends reached Pyrmont almost as soon as he did; but though their company was so cordial to his mind, their presence did not relieve him from the burden of religious exercise which he began to feel on behalf of the members of the Society in that place, as soon as he took up his residence amongst them.
Diary. -- 7 mo. 16. -- The Committee from the Yearly Meeting -- viz., Josiah Forster, Joseph Marriage, and Peter Bedford -- have visited the families of Friends here, and attended the Preparative Meeting which was held on First-day last. Things here appear to be very low every way among those who profess with us; yet there are a few sincere-hearted to whom I already begin to feel closely united in spirit.
From the time of my arrival until First-day last, I do not remember ever to have been more oppressed in mind. I could, if I dared, almost have wished myself in England again, for I feared I should not be able to obtain any relief. I went to meeting on First-day in fear and trembling; but, as is sometimes the case, it proved better than I had expected. When we are stripped of all help but what comes from the Lord alone, it is then that he delights most to help us. Through the acceptable assistance of my friend B. Seebohm, I was enabled to communicate what came before me, and the great dread which I had always had of speaking through an interpreter was mercifully removed, for which I was truly thankful. The three Friends were favored most instructively to labor in the meeting for business. They are now gone to Minden; I feel tenderly united to their spirits in much love.
John Yeardley's residence was at Friedensthal, a hamlet about a mile from the town of Pyrmont. In a letter to his brother he thus describes the situation of the place, and his own comfortable accommodation: --
My mother inquires as to my mode of living, and if I have comfortable accommodations. Please to tell her that I am provided for in a way which is exceedingly agreeable to me. I have a large airy sitting-room with three windows, and a bed-room adjoining, situated, on one side, under the shelter of a wood, and the other opens to a beautiful and romantic dale. The mode of cooking is just as I would wish it; I am only anxious sometimes that my very kind friends of the house are too much concerned for my help and comfort. It seems scarcely possible to find an outward situation more suited to my wishes. When I have studied in the house, I take my books in suitable weather into the wood, and there walk and read and think. It is true I am sometimes very flat for want of company; but if I incline to go to Pyrmont, they are always pleased to see me, and would willingly have me always with them. -- (2 mo. 17, 1823.)
Very soon after his arrival at Pyrmont, John Yeardley entered into active service in behalf of the gospel. In what religious state he found the people towards whom he had so long been attracted in spirit, and how he was enabled to preach to them the word of life, is exhibited in several entries in his Diary.
7 mo. 21. -- The Two-months' Meeting was held at Minden; I went, along with several of my friends from here. The first sitting was very large, many coming in who do not usually attend. It was a very solid meeting; I thought there was the good savor of an honest-hearted few to be felt among a mixed multitude. Such was the sweet, peaceful satisfaction I felt after this meeting, that I almost said in my heart, This is enough to repay me for setting my feet in Germany. These are precious seasons, yet I always recur to such in fear, and rejoice with trembling; for in the midst of the Lord's goodness to his children one seems to be falling on one hand, and another on another; so that the language seems to be, "Will ye also go away?" and truly we shall never be able to stand if we look not for help to Him who has the words of eternal life.
About this time Thomas Shillitoe arrived in Germany, in the course of his religious visit on the Continent; and John Yeardley, on his return to Pyrmont, united with him in a visit to the families of Friends belonging to that meeting.
8 mo.13. -- My feelings are this morning deeply discouraged. I am entering on a visit to the families here with my dear friend T.S., whose company I have had since the 23rd ult. This service is to me a very important one. It is an easy matter to say to a brother or a sister, Be comforted, be strengthened; but it is no light matter to dip so feelingly into the state of our fellow-mortals, as to feel as though we could place our soul in their soul's stead, in order that they might be strengthened and comforted.
8 mo.20. -- The visit has been got over to our great satisfaction. In some sittings, deep exercise and mourning; in others, cause of rejoicing over the precious seed of the kingdom, which is alive in the hearts of some. There seems to be a remarkable visitation once more extended, especially to the youth.
In conjunction with Thomas Shillitoe he proposed to the Friends, as only one meeting was held on First-days, to have one in the evening for religious reading, holding it at Friedensthal in the summer, and at Pyrmont in the winter. The proposal was immediately complied with, and the institution proved a valuable auxiliary to the edification of the members.
8 mo.25. -- The reading meeting this evening has been a precious season; O, how all spirits were melted together! May the blessing of the Lord rest upon this humble endeavor as a means of bringing us nearer to himself.
28th, -- Our English Friends [Benjamin Seebohm and John Snowdon] have taken their departure. I feel a little solitary, but I think it a great favor to be preserved from a wish to go with them; nothing will do for me but entire resignation to the Lord's will and work. Little did I think when I left my home in England, that a work of this sort awaited me in Germany; indeed, I came blind in the gospel; I knew nothing; but now I see such a field of labor if I am faithful: how shall it ever be accomplished? O, prepare me, dearest Lord, for without thy heavenly hand to assist me I must faint. O, may I ever seek thy counsel; and be thou pleased to lead me step by step, and give strength according to the day.
29th. -- To-day I have for the first time expressed a few sentences in broken German in our little meeting. I do not know whether they might be very clearly understood, but I hope the attempt to do what I conceived to be the Lord's will, will be accepted by him. O, that he may he pleased to give me the power of speech!
In the Ninth Month he went to Hanover with Thomas Shillitoe, who had a concern to see the authorities regarding the observance of the First-day. They did not meet with much success in their object; but they made the acquaintance of Pastors Gundel and Hagemann, the latter "nearly blind and very grey, but truly green in the feeling sense of religion," and who rejoiced in his heart to find a brother concerned to reform those things which had long laid heavy on his mind.
The two friends travelled together to Minden, where they parted, and John Yeardley returned to Pyrmont by Bielefeld.
The neighborhood of this town, he says, is remarkably fine. There is a very high hill, partly formed by nature, and partly by art, from which we can see quite round, without any interruption, even into Holland. Here, from the appearance of the bleach-grounds, I could fancy myself in Barnsley. But, as Sarah Grubb says, I can have no pleasure in fine prospects; my mind in these journeys is always too much exercised with matters of a more serious nature.
In the latter part of the month John Yeardley went again to Minden, to unite with Thomas Shillitoe in a visit to the families of Friends. They commenced their visit at Bueckeburg, where they had a remarkable interview with the family of the Kammer-rath Wind, which is related at length in T. S.'s journal (vol. i., p.388).
The place which seems in these visits to have engaged J.Y.'s sympathies the most strongly was the village of Eidinghausen.
We had, he says, a very favored meeting in the room where their meeting is usually held. In the sitting in the evening, with the family where we lodged, many of the neighbors came in, who seemed to have no wish to leave us. I thought of the words of the dear Saviour, when seeing the multitudes he had compassion on them, because they were as sheep having no shepherd. Truly these have no outward shepherd who cares much for their spiritual interests. I felt my heart much warmed in gospel love towards them, and we invited them to give us their company again next day, which most of them did. In this meeting there was something expressed so remarkably suited to the states of some present, that after it was over a woman confessed it had been as was declared, that she herself was one to whom it belonged; and she gave us a short relation how it had been with her in former days.
The love which these simple, honest-hearted creatures manifest towards us does away with all distinctions and the difference of language. O, that He who teaches as never man taught may be pleased to guide them and bring them to himself that there may be one shepherd and one sheep-fold. All our toils in this weary land will not be too much if we can he made the instruments of helping only one poor soul on its way Zionwards.
10 mo.8. -- I returned yesterday evening from Minden, with a thankful heart, to come again to my quiet and romantic habitation in Peacedale. The strong fortifications which are made, and now making, around Minden, give it an appearance of gloom and oppression which is scarcely to be borne. O, how uncomfortable do I feel when within its walls; but in its neighborhood there are a few friends to whom I am tenderly united in spirit.
He concludes this entry with an allusion to the homely and even hard manner of life to which many of these were accustomed.
To some of our Friends in England who are dissatisfied with their outward situation, I would say, Come and see how these live on the Continent.
The 29th of the Tenth Month was the anniversary of his wife's death. His diary for this day is an affecting transcript of his feelings on the occasion.
The shock which my earthly happiness received this day twelvemonths has been, this evening, piercingly renewed in the recollection of almost every minute transaction which accompanied the awful event of the closing moments of my precious lamb. For truly like a lamb she lived, and was well prepared to become an angel-spirit. O, happy spirit, thou art at rest; then why should I mourn thy loss? Surely He who knows the weakness of our frame will forgive, for he himself gave us the example in weeping over those he loved. The Almighty has been very good to me; he has put it in the hearts of those with whom I reside to care for me with an affectionate interest. O, for greater diligence, that the day's work may keep pace with the day. What shall I do, but pray for more strength to be made able to do all that may be required of me. I never saw the advice of our dear Saviour more necessary for myself than at the present time, "Be ye wise as serpents and harmless as doves."
Soon after this he had a return, of his complaint in the stomach, which caused him to exclaim --
We are indeed but dust and ashes; how quickly the slender thread may be cut, and reduce this frail tabernacle to that state of earthly composition from which it was formed. But the spiritual part in us must have an abiding somewhere for ever; this is the awful consideration which ought continually to affect our hearts. Is it not a strange infatuation to rank the moments of affliction among the evil events of our lives, when these may prove the very means of bringing back our wandering feet to the path which leads to everlasting life?
He then reviews his own situation, his calling and his work.
It is often the consideration of my heart, What has brought me into this country? what have I done? what am I doing? and what have I to do? The enemy is not wanting to distress my poor mind on the point of these four important queries. But to the first I can answer, An humble submission to what I believe to be the leadings of Divine Wisdom. To the second, through the assistance of never-failing love, I have done what I could and have found peace. To the third, I am desirous through divine aid to do what I can; and to the fourth, which refers to the future, I must commit it into the hands of the Judge of the whole earth, who alone is able to guide my feet in the sure path. I feel in the present moment desirous to keep eternity continually before my view, and to let outward things hang more fully on the dependence of Him who suffers not a sparrow to fall to the ground without his notice. (11 mo.30.)
12 mo, 1. -- The reading meeting this evening has been a precious time. Our spirits have been much tendered in reading some account of the lives and deaths of our worthy Friends recorded in Sewel's History. Tears so overpowered the reader and the hearers, that the reading was at times obliged to be suspended until we had given relief to our feelings.
In addition to this meeting, John Yeardley established another for the young, to be held on Fourth-day evening, "in which they might improve themselves in reading, and acquire a knowledge of the principles of the Society, with other branches of useful information." The young women were to bring their work; and it was his delight to interrupt the reading with religious instruction, and such remarks as a father makes for the improvement and gratification of his children. We see him here for the first time in a character in which he was well known to the present generation in various parts of England, viz., as an instructor and guide of the youth. In noticing in his Diary the formation of the Youths' Meeting at Pyrmont, he comments with pleasure on the innocent cheerful manners of his audience, and on the advantages which might be looked for from this kind of social intercourse.
The last entry in this year records an occasion of near approach to the throne of grace in prayer in the little congregation at Pyrmont.
12 mo.29, First-day. -- A most remarkable season of divine favor in our evening assembly. The awe which I had felt over my spirit the whole of the day, and not feeling freedom to break my mind in the meeting in the morning, induced me to look to the evening opportunity with fear and trembling, which indeed is always the case when I feel the Master's hand upon me. The most solemn act of worship, that of public supplication, so powerfully impressed my mind, that I believed it right to yield to the motion, which I humbly trust was done in due reverence and humility of soul. Our spirits were so humbled under feelings of good that it seemed as if the secrets of all hearts were presented before the throne of grace, to ask forgiveness for former transgressions, strength to serve the Most High with more acceptance, and to be finally prepared to reign with him in glory. O how these seasons of refreshing will rise up against us in the great day of account, if we are not concerned to improve by them! Grant, dearest Father, that I may experience a nearer and stronger tie to do thy will more perfectly; and let it please thee to remember those in this place and this land for whom my spirit so often secretly mourns and prays.
The Diary of 1823 opens with a profound and solemn reflection.
1823.1 mo.4. -- For want of faith we are too much inclined to serve ourselves before we are willing to serve the Great Master, thinking we may be able to do much for him afterwards, when it will more accord with our situation in life. But, alas! this time may never come; if we thus put by the acceptable season, our lives may close with our only having performed very imperfectly the part which had been designed for us in the Church militant. Painful would be the sting when appealing to the Judge of the earth, in a moment when we no longer possessed the capability of serving him, should the declaration be, Thou hadst a desire to serve me when in health and strength, but thou wished first to serve thyself. My time was not then thy time, therefore thy time is not now my time.
A letter to his brother, written in the summer of this year (6 mo.9), gives a description of the mode of bleaching in use in Germany, which will, we believe, be interesting to the English reader. John Yeardley says:
Wilt thou not be surprised when I tell thee that I am about to commence yarn-bleaching? Thou mayst be sure there is a pretty certain prospect of considerable advantages, with not much risk, to induce me to make the attempt. The advantages are threefold -- safety, expedition and cheapness. The first consists in the simplicity of treatment and safety of the ingredients, no chemical process being made use of; the second arises from the heat of the climate; the last is easily accounted for from the low price of labor and the cheapness of the raw material, which is produced in abundance in the neighborhood. In the country around, for a very considerable distance, almost every family make their own linen; they grow or buy the flax, spin the yarn and get it woven, and either bleach it themselves or send it to others who have better conveniences in water, &c. As the spring commenced, I noticed these little bleaching-plots wherever I went, and often wondered that the color was so good. Knowing that such people could not possibly be at any great expense or risk in the operation, I concluded it must be done by dint of time and labor, supposing that the yarn and cloth must lie at least a few months on the grass; but, on inquiry, I was surprised to find it was made quite white in three weeks or a month. To make a further proof, I sent two bundles of yarn to two different places to bleach; it is now returned of a very good color and perfectly strong, though it has been in blenching only a month and two or three days, and although the greater part of the Fifth Month has been unfavorable for bleaching. As to any risk of the yarn being tendered, it is quite out of the question; it seems to be done by the operation that nature points out. I have found a very convenient place For the purpose of making trial; there is plenty of good clear water. There is a prospect of having honest workpeople, and at very reasonable wages -- not more than 6d. or 8d. a day; there are many honest creatures to be had at these wages who have nothing in the world to do.
From the first of my leaving England, I had no expectation of being liberated from this country before the expiration of about four years, and I have always been desirous that something should turn up that would afford me support by suitable employment; so that what I have now in view does not seem to clash with my former prospects. It is (he adds with affectionate feeling) a source of great consolation that I can always unbosom my mind so freely to thee; and I consider it among the greatest blessings I enjoy, that thou hast never yet failed of being made an instrument of support to me, and my prayer is that thou mayst never lose thy reward.
Pyrmont is one of the oldest watering-places north of the Alps. The inhabitants are very much dependent on the visitors who resort thither during the three summer months, and amongst whom may frequently be reckoned some of the first families in Europe. This year, 1823, the Prince and Princess of Prussia (the present Regent of Prussia and his consort) were there, and one Fourth-day morning attended the Friends' Meeting. The meeting-house stands in one of the allees, and although its position is not central, it is sufficiently public to be an object of attraction to the curiosity of strangers. A memorandum under date of the 18th of the Sixth Month records the royal visit, and John Yeardley's spiritual exercise on the occasion.
6 mo.18. -- To-day the young prince and Princess of Prussia, with the Princess their mother, and the Hofmeister, have been at our Fourth-day meeting. They entered with such seriousness on their countenances that I felt my spirit suddenly drawn towards them in love, and a secret prayer was raised in my heart for their everlasting good. Feeling the influence of divine love to increase, I believed it right to kneel down, and in brokenness of spirit I expressed what had opened on my mind, which afforded me peace; and I hope good to others was imparted, although I may say through the unworthiest of instruments. For truly I have for some time been as in a state of death and darkness, owing to my unwatchfulness. O what would I give for more circumspection, that I might be more prepared to receive the word, and when command is given, publish the same. But, unworthy creature, I often deprive myself and others of seasons of good through my negligence and barrenness. When will the time come when I can say, all earthly things are under my feet, and the cause of religion and virtue rules predominant in my heart! Lord, hasten the day; and preserve my feet in thy path in the midst of many snares; and rather let me die than be suffered to do anything which would dishonor thy gracious and holy Name, and the profession I am making of thee before the world. Loose my bands, and enable me to say in sincerity of heart, I am willing to serve thee freely.
With the cause for self-condemnation, which is alluded to in this entry was no doubt connected the neglect to keep up his Diary; no entry occurs for more than five months previous. It was probably much more difficult in the position which he occupied in Germany to maintain a spirit of watchfulness and self-recollection than among his more experienced Friends in Yorkshire. There is an allusion to this in an entry of a little later date.
7 mo.8. -- My mind feels a little more gathered than it has been for some time past; but the little outward difficulties which are continually arising have a great tendency to disperse the best feelings. I think it is almost the greatest lesson that we have to learn, to stand so fast in times of trouble as not to suffer loss. If we would so conduct ourselves that the change of times and seasons should not have such an unfavorable influence on our minds, this would be one great point gained; it would enable us to meet the difficulties of the day in a better state to combat with them.
But if daily trials abounded of a nature the most likely to retard his spiritual progress, we shall see that He who had appointed his lot, provided in his faithfulness the needful corrective, and by the discipline of filial fear in the ministry of the word, kept him safe in his sanctuary.
The attendance of visitors at the meeting-house was often numerous, although it was seldom that they remained during the whole time of worship. Meetings of this kind were very trying to John Yeardley's faith and feelings; but sometimes they were seasons of heavenly blessing such abundantly to make amends for past humiliation.
7 mo.6. -- To-day the small meeting-house and passage were quite filled with strangers, and I was told many went away who could not get in, and some remained under the windows. No creature on earth knows what my poor mind suffers when I go to meeting under such circumstances. Many whom curiosity brings in the expectation to hear words may some times be disappointed, but I hope there are some whose intentions are sincere, and who are desirous to be informed the way to Zion. I hope strength was afforded me to preach Christ crucified. O that the Lord may support me in these very trying seasons, and take from me the fear of man, and fill my heart with a holy fear of offending Him whom I humbly trust I am desirous of choosing to be my Lord and Master.
7 mo.27. -- "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless his holy name." Notwithstanding my many seasons of poverty and inward distress, the foregoing language is sometimes put into my heart on my return from our meetings, which are, in the bathing season, almost always crowded with strangers. Their manner of coming in and going out during the time of worship is exceedingly disturbing, and yet I cannot but admire the stillness which prevails when anything is delivered. The help which I at times experience in these trying seasons is wonderful in my eyes. When I am concerned to stand up in His dread and fear, what have I else to fear? This fear would always cast out the fear of man which ever brings death; and yet so weak am I, that after all these precious helps and comforting times, I tremble when the meeting-day comes again lest, I should fail in doing the Lord's will. Such is my fear before I can rise to my feet in meetings that I say with Samson, Be with me this once more that I may bear testimony to thy name; then, if it be thy will let me die for thee, and I will not think it too much, to suffer. O that He would be pleased to enlarge his gift in my heart, and he unto me mouth and wisdom, and give me tongue and utterance to declare his name unto the nations.
7 mo.30. -- Our Fourth-day meeting to-day has been a precious heavenly season. Much more weightiness of spirit appeared to exist in the strangers who attended, and consequently more stillness. I had not long taken my seat before I believed it right to stand up with the words of the apostle, "Awake to righteousness and sin not, for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame." The women's side was nearly full of richly-clad females; they bore the marks of worldly distinction, and were indeed as fine as hands and pins could make them. But the tenderings of divine love reached the hearts of some among them in a particular degree. I felt such a nearness of spirit towards them that I had great openness in speaking of the things which came before me. After meeting they very willingly accepted of some books. One of them was much reached, and went into the little plantation to weep. Another went to her to comfort her; but she replied, Go from me and leave me alone. We may truly say with the apostle that God is no respecter of persons, but those who fear him and work righteousness will be accepted of him, to whatever nation, kindred, tongue or people they may belong. All distinctions of religious sects and party spirit are laid aside when our hearts become prepared to embrace each other in true Christian love. I do believe the Lord's work is begun in the hearts of many in this land; and the fervent prayer of my spirit is that he may be pleased to carry it on to perfection, and that we may live to see the glorious day when righteousness shall cover the earth as the waters cover the channels of the sea. O Germany, Germany, what does my heart feel on account of thy inhabitants! It seems as if I could tread thy soil for the remainder of my days if I could only be made the instrument of helping on their way those scattered ones who are athirst for the sincere milk of the word of life.
One of the females who visited our meetings came to the school room on Seventh-day, and requested the favor of having a few books to peruse and circulate. She said she was from Osnabrueck, and that there were a number of people in that place who had a great love to the Friends of our Society. Such opportunities afford the means of circulating a knowledge of the truth to those whose hearts may be preparing to receive it; and if such are only awakened to seek after the ways of holiness, although they may never come to be of our number on earth, they will he found among the number of the saints in heaven. The bathing-list this season already amounts to 2500 persons, in which number there are many who are desirous to inquire the way to Zion. It is much to be desired that the peculiar advantages which Pyrmont affords for spreading in the different parts of the Continent books illustrative of our religious principles should be judiciously embraced, particularly as there appears such an openness to receive them. I can truly say I have been thankful that my lot has been here this summer, and I trust I have not flinched from doing what I believed to be required of me.
In his letters to his brother, John Yeardley makes frequent mention of his mother. In the Ninth Month he heard of her being seriously ill, and he thus writes in reference to her state, in a letter elated the 29th of the Ninth Month: --
The state of my dear mother's health is truly alarming; but as I have received no further account from thee, I am flattering my poor panting heart with a comfortable hope that she may have taken a turn for the better, and will yet live to see the hour when we shall once more embrace each other in my native land. If she should be taken away without my being permitted to see her again, it would be a cup which I could not tell how to drink. This brings poignantly to my remembrance one of the most trying hours of my life, and yet the support then received was wonderful.
As I rode along the road in the course of this summer on a journey of business, my dear mother was brought to my remembrance in such a very remarkable manner, that I seemed to have a spiritual interview with her; and she was brought so near to my feelings, that I thought it probable I should never see her again until we met in eternity. I scarcely know how I felt, but it was as if my spirit accompanied hers into the regions above. I noted down the circumstance when I got home; for it had made such an impression on my mind, that I should not then have been surprised to have heard of her departure.
The following instructive remarks occur in the Diary about this time: --
10 mo.27. -- My retirement and reading this morning has been more tendering to my spirit than for a long time past. I read and considered the institution of the Passover, when the Israelites were led out of Egypt; and it appears clear to me that the sprinkling the door-posts with the blood of the lambs, as commanded, was a type of our Saviour's blood which was shed for our transgressions, and that we must be saved by his becoming our paschal lamb. As the destroying angel only passed over the doors and preserved those who had received the mark, so can we only be saved by being willing to apply the blood of our dear Saviour to wash and cleanse us from our sins. What a beauty there is in the connection of Scripture truths when we read them with a simple heart prepared to receive the right impression which may be opened!
The Friends of Minden and the little company of awakened people at Eidinghausen, who on his first coming to Germany had taken so firm a hold of John Yeardley's mind, continued to excite his religious sympathy, and he again visited them in the latter part of this year.
(Minden.) -- On Seventh-day last, the 1st of the Eleventh Month, I left home in company with some of my dear Pyrmont friends to attend the Two-months' Meeting, and to spend a few days with my dear friends of this place. I lodge with Frederick Schmidt, and feel myself perfectly at home. It is a most orderly and agreeable family, consisting of himself, daughter, and housekeeper; and the time passes pleasantly away when I am only enough concerned to improve the opportunities afforded by this good man's company. He was one of the first in this place who was convinced of the religious principles of Friends, and his beginning was small both in temporals and spirituals. I cannot but admire how his endeavors have been prospered. He remarked the other evening in conversation, that it was of great advantage to the Friends to persevere in their outward callings, and not to jump (us he expressed it) out of one thing into another. This would be the means of establishing their credit as men of business.
11 mo.7. -- Sarah Grubb mentions that when she visited Minden, she met with great kindness and attention from a councillor of the place, who on their leaving accompanied them a little way out of the town to an inn, where he had provided coffee, and had invited a few of his friends to take leave of them. This was at the house of my worthy host [Frederick Schmidt], who then kept the inn at Kuckuk, and had for some time been under deep [religious] impressions. He related to me that her discourse in the meeting she had Lad in the town had affected him, and yet he could not give her his hand, but went into the garden to weep; but after she had got into the carriage and driven from the door, she suddenly made a stop, came again into the house, and asked for him. He being called, she had a remarkable opportunity with him; she told him she believed the Lord had a work for him to do in this place, and that he would have to stand foremost in the rank, and when the time came he must not flinch from doing what his Master would require. This has in a remarkable manner been fulfilled to the present day, and affords an encouraging example to the poor tried servants of the Lord to be faithful to apprehended duty. Although they may not live to see the effect of their labors, yet their Lord and Master will not leave himself without a witness in the hearts of his people; praised be his name.
14th. Since Thomas Shillitoe and I visited Eidinghausen, there has been a remarkable revival to a sense of religion; a number come together in a sort of society every First-day afternoon, to read, sing, and pray for the edification one of another. As all things have a beginning, this may perhaps prove a step to a more perfect way of worship. I had long felt inclined to visit the meeting in Eidinghausen, and had looked towards accomplishing it from Minden.
I went there on the 9th inst., and my intention to be there being known a few days before caused many of these awakened people to attend the meeting so that the little school-room was quite full, and many stood in the passage. I was truly thankful to be amongst them, for it proved a most satisfactory season. They are a rustic set of folks, but have each a soul to save or to lose, and all souls are of equal value in the sight of the Judge of the whole earth. Lewis Seebohm kindly gave up his time to attend me as interpreter, for I still prefer help of this sort when it can be done through one who is so feelingly capable. I often feel as a poor wandering stranger in a strange land, and yet I dare not complain. The goodness of the Lord is great towards me; he opens the hearts of those whom I am concerned to visit, to receive me into their hearts and houses, so that it affords me great freedom in speaking to them on serious subjects relating to their best interests, both spiritual and temporal. I am convinced if we mean to be useful to a people of a strange land, all must be done in a spirit of love and humility; with the weak we must be willing to become weak; only we must be on our guard and not flinch from our well-known testimonies.
The reflection contained in the passage which follows is of deep significance, and the lesson it conveys is one which the Church has as much need to learn now as at any former period.
15th. -- We find recorded in the writings of our ancient Friends that occasionally a few words spoken in the course of common conversation made a deep impression on the minds of those to whom they were addressed. The cause must have been that they lived in a more retired state of mind, and were consequently better prepared to feel the smallest of good impressions in themselves, and were also more attentive to embrace every opportunity of improving the minds of others. I fail in this respect; I do not live enough in what may be truly called a spirit of prayer. I must be more watchful over my thoughts, words and actions, and improve my seasons of retirement; for there is no other way of preservation than by waiting and praying for a renewal of spiritual strength.
John Yeardley then reverts, as he so often does, to the love of souls in Germany, which was the means of causing him to leave his native land, and which he says had not diminished during his eighteen months' residence among them. To these thoughts he adds some considerations regarding the temporal condition of the Society of Friends there, on account of which he was often very solicitous.
The situation and welfare of the Society here have long occupied the warmest feelings of my heart. I am of the mind, with other Friends who have visited these parts, that there is a precious hidden work begun in the hearts of many in Germany, who suffer under oppression, on account of the many discouraging circumstances which have existed among them, and which yet prevail, to the great hindrance of the Lord's work. There are causes for which no human remedy can be prescribed. I have often said in my heart, If the Lord help them not, vain is the help of man. Much has been done for them by our dear Friends in England, and much still remains to be done, in order that they may be preserved together and not become dispersed as though they had never been a people.
The effectual means of help seems yet to fail, -- that of putting the families in the way of helping themselves by suitable employment. The families who live in the neighborhood of Minden, mostly on small parcels of land, have until now got on with a tolerable degree of comfort, by cultivating their land in summer and spinning yarn in winter; but now the depression is so great that if they could be put into the way of earning threepence a day, they would embrace it with thankfulness. I have been very diffident in proponing any plan for their assistance, knowing that some former proposals have failed of accomplishing the end. But I have consulted with those who are best acquainted with their situation, and we think it safest for them to continue their own employment of spinning yarn, and endeavor to mend their trade by placing it on this footing. They must spin such an article as I can make use of in sending it, with what I buy from other people, to my friends in the linen business in England. I am to give them a little higher price than they can elsewhere obtain, and those who have no flax of their own must have a little money advanced to purchase some, which they must repay in yarn. When the yarn is disposed of in England, and a profit on the same can be obtained, it must be distributed among them as a premium to encourage industry and good management in producing a good article. If this does not answer, I cannot see any thing at present that will.
How far this scheme was put in practice we are unable to say, but we believe it was not accompanied by any successful result.
In the next entry he speaks of the advantage which he derived from keeping a diary.
11 mo.17. -- I was this evening accidentally induced to read over a few of my former memorandums; and it humbled my spirit to retrace the dealings of my merciful Father with me. I am glad that I have from time to time penned down a few remarks by way of diary, although it has been done interruptedly and very imperfectly. It proves a means of enabling me to see a wonderful concurrence in the ways of Divine Wisdom which has led me in a way that I knew not, and hitherto preserved me through the mercies of his love: praise be to his Name now and for ever. Amen.
After his return from Minden he accompanied John and William Seebohm, who were going on a journey of business to Leipzig. They went by way of Brunswick and Halberstadt, and returned by Nordhausen and Eimbeck. In this tour through the heart of Germany, John Yeardley made many observations on the state of agriculture, the cities, and the character of the people. Of the last they met with several curious traits, some of them sufficiently annoying.
On many great roads, says J.Y., there is a summer and a winter way, running parallel to each other, with a rail across, on which is a notice that the way is forbidden by a fine of 6d. or 8d, for each horse, that the traveller may know when to take the summer or the winter road. We stopped on the way [they were not far from Wolfenbuettel] to give our horses a little bread, and our coachman drove to the side of the road to make way for carriages to pass. But he had inadvertently gone over the setting on of the road; and the roadmaster came to us, and told us we must not feed our horses there, as it was not allowed to drive over the stones on the side, under a penalty of three shillings per horse. The evening of the same day we fed our horses at an inn, and walked before, leaving the man to follow us. I and my young friend W.S. sought the cleanest part of the way by walking in the course made for the water, which was green and clean; but so soon as we came by the inspectors, who are mostly employed on the road, one of them told us we must mind for the future and keep the right footpath, or pay 6d. each. This I considered as an infringement of English liberty, and was ready to reason with him on the subject; but I reflected that I was a stranger, and that it is always better and more polite to submit quietly to the regulations of the country in which we live, than bring ourselves into difficulty through incivility or contention.
In returning from Leipzig, J.Y. and his friends committed a more serious offence against the pragmatical regulations of the German States.
On our journey homewards we had much perplexity with some cloth, &c. which J.S. had bought in Leipzig to bring to Pyrmont. This arose from want of better information respecting the laws of the Prussian territory. They are exceedingly strict as to duties. All kinds of wares are allowed to pass through the country at what may be called a reasonable excise; but those travellers who have excise goods with them must preserve a certain road, called the Zoll-strasse. It was our lot to miss this road; for apprehending ourselves at liberty to pursue what road we pleased, we took another way. But we found our mistake when we came to the place where the duty is paid; for we were informed we had taken the wrong road, and that transit duty could not be received; we must either pay the full excise as when goods remain in the Prussian territory, or return back until we came again into the Zoll-strasse. It took some time to consider which was best to be done. To be sent about we knew not whither, and on roads scarcely passable, would prove a serious inconvenience; and on the other hand it was exceedingly mortifying to pay for such a trifle so enormous an excise. The officer was very civil, but told us it was not in his power to do otherwise. We concluded it would be best and cheapest to pay dearly for our error rather than be retarded on our journey. We had a regular receipt for what we paid, but inadvertently departing again from the appointed way, we were in danger of paying the full duty a second time, or having the goods taken from us. So much for travelling with excise goods.
Early in 1824, John Yeardley returned for a few months to England. He had ingratiated himself so thoroughly into the esteem and love of his Pyrmont friends, that his departure even for a short time was the signal of lamentation through the whole meeting. On the 11th of the First Month he had a farewell meeting at Friedensthal, which was attended by almost all his friends. With his parting blessing he had some counsel to impart.
I have so much place, he says, in their minds, that whatever I say, either in counsel or reproof, is always received in love. Such a scene I never witnessed; the dear lambs all wept aloud; we were indeed all melted together. May the Shepherd of Israel never leave them nor forsake them, and may they become willing to follow his leading. I can truly say that on their behalf my pillow has been often wet with my tears.
On the 3rd of the Second Month, he left Friedensthal, accompanied by a young Friend whom he was to conduct to a temporary residence in England, and in whose religious welfare he was deeply interested. While waiting in Hamburg for a vessel, he felt keenly his solitary situation in the world.
2 mo.9. -- I think I never felt poorer in spirit and more discouraged than at present. It seems as if visiting my native land had no cheering prospect for me. If it were right in the divine sight I could almost wish to spend the whole of my life in solitude; but I must be willing patiently to suffer, and endeavor to fill the place appointed for me on this stage of action.
A vessel sailed for England the day before their arrival at Hamburg, a circumstance which at first made him regret he had not used more expedition on the way. But he immediately recollected it might he for the best that he was left behind. This proved to be the case; for the vessel with which he would have sailed, meeting with contrary winds and dark weather, ran aground, and was obliged to put back, and when J.Y. left the Elbe she was lying in Cuxhaven harbor.
They landed at Hull on the 19th.