2 mo.19. -- I do not know how to describe my feelings in landing on my native shore: I feel a poor discouraged creature. May He who knows the sincerity of my heart be pleased to strengthen my poor mind, for I feel almost overwhelmed with fears and difficulties.
Still deeper was his emotion on visiting again the home of former days.
2 mo.20. -- Left Hull, and came by way of Selby and Wakefield to Barnsley. I felt my heart exceedingly burdened before I reached the place: it seemed as if all the bitter cups I had drunk in former times were going to be handed to me afresh. This may not be, perhaps, altogether on my own account. There is at times a fellow-feeling with others; and on my reaching this place, I soon felt my spirit dipped into sympathy with some of my dear connexions, who are not without their trials.
A few days afterwards, in allusion to the religious service of Elizabeth H. Walker of West Chester, U.S., in a public meeting for worship at Barnsley, he says: --
I do not really know what is the matter, but I fear I am going backwards from all that is good. When I look at the usefulness of others, O what an insignificant, useless being I appear!
This lowly opinion of himself, however, was not to serve as an excuse for idleness, and it was proposed to him to bear Elizabeth Walker company in a religious circuit in some of the midland counties, previous to the occurrence of the Yearly Meeting. He accepted the proposal; and they travelled together through part of Staffordshire, Warwick, Worcester, and Oxfordshire, visiting the meetings of Friends, and sometimes inviting the attendance of the public.
The dispirited state of mind which John Yeardley had brought with him from Germany accompanied him on this journey, and on the 30th of the Fourth Month he writes: --
I walked last evening in the fields, in a solitary frame of mind, being very low in spirits on many accounts. My own unfaithfulness deprives me of strength to cast off my burden as I go along; consequently I grow weaker and weaker, which is indeed diametrically opposite to growing stronger and stronger in the Lord. Lamentable case! O for a alteration for the better!
Fifth-day, the 6th of Fifth Month, at Sibford. -- This is a pretty large meeting, and there are a good many sweet-looking young folks. The lovely countenances of such are always refreshing to me, and it is not much wonder if I have a little more openness for labor, winch was the case in this place. But in general I sit and bemoan my own uselessness. I have been a burden to myself in this little journey, in fearing I might be so to my friends; but I ought to be very thankful that they do not seem to think me so, but are desirous to encourage me. I think if it was otherwise, it would be more than I could bear.
In the Fifth Month, he attended the Yearly Meeting in London. At the Meeting of Ministers and Elders, an unusual number of certificates were granted for religious service abroad. These various concerns drew from him the following reflections: --
As I sat under the weighty consideration and disposal of these subjects, I felt a degree of rejoicing to spring in my heart, that there are still members who hold the promotion of the cause of righteousness in the earth dear to the best feelings of their hearts. It is indeed cause of heartfelt gratitude that the Divine Master is directing the feet of his messengers not only to the borders of this isle, but also into distant parts of the earth.
During the Yearly Meeting John Yeardley lodged at William Allen's, at Plough-court and Stoke Newington, and was introduced to several Friends with whom he had not before been acquainted.
The acquaintance which I have made with many dear and valued Friends in the neighborhood of London has, I hope, been a little strength to me in the best things. It is truly pleasant to be treated with such genuine kindness; but it is nothing for the soul to build upon, -- we must look for a more sure foundation than the favor of the great and good.
Elizabeth H. Walker had a meeting with the younger part of the Society in London and the neighborhood. In noticing this meeting J.Y. has some discriminating remarks on the exercise of the ministry.
During this as well as many other meetings for worship, I sat under religious exercise, but could seldom believe it required of me to take part in the public ministry. I often think, when many exercised brethren and sisters are present; there would be a danger of interrupting the true gospel order, if all were not careful to wait on the Great Minister of the Sanctuary. If we patiently abide under the rightly baptizing power, what we may apprehend preparing in our hearts for utterance may often be delivered by others, and we only have to say, as it were, Amen. We may also be brought into a right willingness to speak in the Lord's name, and still be excused; this may be, perhaps, a preparation of an offering which may be called for at another place. O the importance of knowing the word rightly to be divided, and when and where the offering is required!
A part of Elizabeth Walker's errand in coming to Europe was to visit the Friends in Germany; mid it was proposed that John Yeardley should take charge of her and her companion, Christiana A. Price of Neath, on his return to Pyrmont. They went together through Essex and Suffolk, having meetings on their way; but at Ipswich it appeared that C.A. Price's health was unequal to the journey, and Elizabeth Walker proceeded to Hull to cross the water from thence with another company of Friends who were bound for the Continent. J.Y. was thus left to proceed alone to Pyrmont, and he sailed from Harwich on the 19th of the Sixth Month. When in Suffolk he went to Needham to see "dear ancient Samuel Alexander."
I had, he says, long known this fatherly man by name and person, but had had no acquaintance with him until now: his company and conversation were exceedingly pleasant and instructive to me. In the evening I took a walk in a large plantation which he had himself planted when young, and had now lived to see afford him a comfortable retreat.
John Yeardley was taken ill when in Suffolk, and on settling down again in his quiet home at Friedensthal he writes:
7 mo.15. -- I am drinking salt-spring-water, and my health is mercifully restored. The air of this country seems to suit my constitution better than that of England. Time is very precious. I think, to keep a more correct journal of what I do each day might be very useful, by inducing a more narrow scrutiny how each hour is spent; for I know not how many more may be allowed me to prepare for eternity.
To this resolution he did not adhere. With the exception of two short entries in the same month, he wrote nothing in his diary for the remainder of the year. The difficulties of his position, perhaps a lack of sufficient employment, and the want of that instant watchfulness without which the disciple is ever prone to stray from his Master's side, seem to have again produced, as they did twelve months before, a season of spiritual famine.
His own gloomy condition did not, however, altogether disable him from sympathizing with others. In a letter to his brother of the 4th of the Eleventh Month he says; --
I have of late been in such a low tried state of mind, that I have been discouraged from writing thee, under an apprehension I should say nothing that would afford thee any satisfaction in reading. But though I may not have it in my power to relieve thee, I hope it will not be unpleasant to thee to know that thou art still more dear and near to me than ever thou wast in the times of more apparent outward prosperity. It is a high attainment to know how to set a right value on perishable things, and it requires no small degree of fortitude to bear the depression of apparent temporary adversity, in that disposition of mind which becomes the character of a true Christian. Although, according to our apprehensions, the storm may last long, yet it most assuredly will blow over, and then greater will be our peace than if we had never known a tempest.
On resuming his Diary, which he did in the First Month of 1825, John Yeardley gives an account of the events which happened to him during the previous few months.
In the Seventh Month 1824, Thomas Shillitoe and Elizabeth H. Walker came to Pyrmont, and to the latter J.Y. gave his assistance in various religious engagements. After her departure he again visited Minden, with the neighboring villages of Eidinghausen and Hille. His visit to the last-named place (1 mo.13, 1825) was marked by a singular circumstance.
Finding a sudden draft [in my mind] to be at the reading meeting in Hille, to begin at two o'clock, there seemed but little time; however, proposing it to my dear friend John Rasche, he was quite willing to accompany me, and driving quickly we came in due time. When the [meeting] was over, the Friends told me they thought it very remarkable that we should come unexpectedly on that day, and that what was communicated after the reading was particularly suited to the state of a woman Friend present, who was laboring under the temptation that she had committed the unpardonable sin, and could find no rest day or night. I could not prevent them from expressing their thankfulness for such a mark of Providential interference, in this way to afford the poor woman a little relief and encouragement.
Four days afterwards, having then returned to Friedensthal, J.Y. adds: -- "Since our visit to Hille, the person above-mentioned is dead!"
The depression under which John Yeardley labored, from the loss of that comfortable presence of his Lord which had been almost from his youth as a lamp shining continually upon his head, seems to have reached its lowest point in the early part of this year. Under date of the 24th of the Second Month he says: --
I have this morning once more been enabled to pour out my sorrowful spirit before the Father of mercies in a way that has afforded me some relief and encouragement. In bitterness, and, I may almost say, in agony of soul have I spread before him some of those circumstances which have been a cause of unspeakable distress to me for many months past, and rendered me unfit for almost every service, temporal or spiritual.
Thou knowest, O gracious Father, I long to have my ways and steps regulated by thy holy will. Therefore I beseech thee, have mercy on my faults, and blot out from thy remembrance all my sins, and everything wherein I have in weakness offended thee; and be pleased to give me strength to become more perfectly and lastingly thine. O how sensibly do I feel my own weakness, and that without thee I can do nothing, not for a moment preserve my own steps.
In the midst of his discouragement his mind was directed towards the accomplishment of another part of the commission which had been entrusted to him before he left England. -- viz., to sojourn for a time amongst the Friends in the South of France. Accordingly, early in the Third Month he went to Minden, and laid before the Two-months' Meeting, his intention of going to Congenies for this purpose, and also of seeking a religious interview with some serious people in the neighborhood of Cologne.
This information, he says, was received by my friends with much sympathy and, I trust, weightiness of spirit, and I felt a little strengthened by the expression of their feelings and unity with me in this concern. A certificate of their approbation was ordered to be drawn up. No creature on earth knows how this prospect humbles me. I always think I am dealt with in a remarkable manner, -- somewhat different perhaps from others. Notwithstanding all the seemingly insurmountable difficulties which stand in the way, and which are far too numerous to particularize, my peace is connected with my obedience. What will be the result I know not; the way appears not yet quite clear us to the time of departure. O Lord, favor me to wait on thee for the spirit of discernment not to step forth in the wrong time.
The obedience which he practised in committing himself in simple faith to this religious prospect prepared the way for a temporal blessing, as well as for the return of inward joy. He little knew, when persecuted by the Accuser of the brethren, and mourning over the weakness of his own corrupt nature, that his Lord was about to provide for him a congenial and helpful companion, in the room of her whose loss had left him solitary in the world. Without this timely sacrifice of his own will, it could not have been so easy for him to make the journey to France in the way in which it was done, and which was the means of bringing about the union which shed so much comfort on the remainder of his life.
Between two and three months after the meeting at Minden, he received the information that Martha Savory, accompanied by Martha Towell, was about to pay a religious visit to the Friends at Pyrmont and Minden. He had been introduced in London to Martha Savory as a minister of the gospel, and one who had been abroad in its service, but his acquaintance with her seems to have been slight. On receiving this intelligence he writes: --
The prospect of seeing a few dear Friends from my native land would be cheering, but I am really so cast down that I seem as if I could not, and almost dare not, rejoice in anything. May this low proving season answer the end for which it is permitted!
As he apprehended the Friends who were coming from England might require a guide, John Yeardley went to meet them at Rotterdam. His journey, and the singular coincidence of Martha Savory's concern with his own, are described in a letter to his brother, written after his return from Holland.
Friedensthal, Pyrmont, 7 mo.14,1825.
MY DEAR BROTHER,
On my return from Holland I received thy long and very interesting letter. Martha Savory and her companion Martha Towell are now acceptably with us. They expect to spend two or three months with us, and then we have some prospect of going in company to the South of France. As this has fallen out in a rather remarkable manner, it may not be amiss just to explain it to thee. We were entire strangers to each other's concern; but as soon as my friends in London heard of my prospect from the copy of the minutes of our Two-months' Meeting and of my certificate, dear William Allen wrote to me desiring a more particular description of my views, time of departure, &c., and mentioned at the same time M.S.'s concern, which had already passed the Quarterly Meeting, and it was fully expected she would be liberated [by the Meeting of Ministers and Elders] to visit Pyrmont and Minden, and afterwards, if suitable company offered, proceed to some parts of the banks of the Rhine, Switzerland, and Congenies, in the south of France. I wrote to W.A., and explained to him my prospect, which was to visit a few individuals in the neighborhood of Cologne and pass through Switzerland to Congenies. I then received a letter from our dear friend M. Savory, stating that she and W.A. had been much struck with the remarkable coincidence in our views; our prospects being to the same places and in the same way; and that it seemed in the pointing of Truth for us to join in company.
Fifth mo.26th, I left Friedensthal to visit my friends in Minden and its neighborhood; and after spending about two weeks there, I felt very much inclined to give our friends the meeting at Rotterdam. I set off, accordingly, the 7th of the Sixth Month, and travelled seven days through a desert country to Amsterdam, I went almost one half of the way by water, across the Zuider Zee from Zwolle to Amsterdam. After spending a few days in Amsterdam, I went, with J.S. Mollet, who is the only Friend in that city, to Rotterdam, where we met with M.S. and M.T. Thomas Christy, junior, had accompanied them, from London. M.S. had letters of recommendation to many persons in Amsterdam, whom we visited; and though some of them were first-rate characters in the place, it is surprising with what affection and kindness they received us. J.S. Mollet accompanied us to Pyrmont.
An account of his journey, both going and returning, is also contained in J.Y.'s diary: it presents some additional notices which claim a place here.
Before leaving Minden for Rotterdam, he twice visited Eidinghausen, and saw some young men who were under suffering because of their refusal to serve in the militia.
One in particular (he says, in writing up the diary), a sweet young man, at this moment may be in torture. O, how I feel for him! My soul breathes to the Almighty Father of mercies on his account, that he may he strengthened to endure all with patience for the sake of his Lord, who has given him a testimony to bear against the spirit of war and fighting.
At the conclusion of the second meeting at Eidinghausen, he says: --
The meeting was fully attended, and I afterwards dined alone in the schoolroom with a light heart. I thought I could say, After the work is done, food tastes sweet.
At Rotterdam, John Yeardley and his companions made the acquaintance of a "very interesting missionary student, who believes he has a call to go on a mission to the Greeks, and is waiting for an opening: his name is Guetzlaff." At Amsterdam, a letter from Guetzlaff introduced them to the priest of the Greek church in that city, Helanios Paschalides, a man of child-like spirit, and long schooled in affliction, who had become awakened to his own religious wants, and who believed himself called to return to Greece and instruct his countrymen. These two interviews are memorable, as being, probably, the commencement of the strong interest which J. and M.Y. evinced in the Greek people, and which issued, years afterwards, in a religious tour in that country. At Zeist, where there is a settlement of Moravians, the ministers, finding the Friends desired to convene their members in a meeting for worship, readily consented.
The meeting, writes J.Y., was more fully attended than we had expected. There is much sweetness of spirit to be felt about these people, but a want of stillness. I thought some of the hearers were prepared to see further than their teachers, and the time may yet come when some may be drawn into a more spiritual worship. We left them a few tracts, and they kindly gave us a few little boots of theirs. It is remarkable in what a spirit of love they received us.
The Friends reached Pyrmont on the 1st of the Seventh Month, and shortly afterwards made a visit amongst the members from house to house in that place, and at Minden. On the 28th they visited a number of seriously awakened persons at Lenzinghausen, who felt the necessity of spiritual worship, and to whom their hearts were much enlarged in gospel love.
Walking in the garden, writes John, Yeardley, in a very solemn and solitary frame of mind before the meeting, I had such a feeling as I scarcely ever remember to have had before. I thought I saw, as in the vision of light, as if a people would be gathered in that neighborhood to the knowledge of the truth. It appeared to me to be in the divine appointment that our dear M.S. was come to visit Germany, and a large field of labor seems to be appointed for her in this land if she is faithful.
The next two months were occupied with various religious services, public and private, not omitting meetings at Eidinghausen and Hille, where, as on former occasions, J.Y. found his heart to go out towards the people with strong emotions of Christian love. About 150 attended at the former, and 300 at the latter place.