PART I. -- THE JOURNEY TO ANCONA.
John and Martha Yeardley left London on the 21st of the Sixth Month, 1833.
Travelling through France they found in the places where they halted more of simplicity and Christian life than they had expected. In Paris, especially, they were quickly brought into contact with a number of pious persons to whom their society and their doctrine were welcome, and they visited many benevolent institutions conducted on broad Christian principles. This was in the early part of Louis Philippe's reign, and under the administration of Guizot. In reading their account of these institutions, we are painfully reminded how much the rising tide of religious liberty has been checked and driven back by the bands of priestcraft and arbitrary power.
Here, and elsewhere during their journey, they wrote letters to members of the Foreign Committee of the Meeting for Sufferings, descriptive of their religions labors, from which, after their return, a selection was printed for the use of Friends. Besides these letters, John Yeardley kept his usual Diary, which often enables us to add to the narrative, traits of character and reflections not to be found in their joint epistles.
Amongst the first persons upon whom they called in Paris, were the Protestant bookseller Risler, and Pastor Grandpierre: the former they found to be devoted heart and soul to the diffusion of evangelical religion; the latter they had known on their former journey, and he received them as his Christian friends. He introduced them to Mademoiselle Chabot, a lady who spent her time in translating religious and useful books into French, and had a class of children in the First-day school. Respecting this lady, they say: --
Our introduction to this precious character was much to our comfort. We rejoiced together in contemplating the wonderful work which the Lord has in mercy begun, and is carrying on in this great city. On First-day afternoons she attends a school, to which the children of the rich go, as well as the poor, to be instructed in the Scriptures. The young persons in her class learn texts, and are questioned to see if they thoroughly understand the subject. On our asking whether the children answered the questions from what they had learnt by heart, she replied, "No; it would be of no use, you know, for the dear children to repeat merely by rote; we want the great truths of the gospel to sink into their hearts."
After this visit, which refreshed our spirits a little, we called on Madame D'Aublay, sister-in-law to Brissot, who was executed in the time of Robespierre. She is a Roman Catholic, and thinks the groundwork of true religion to be in their church, but that their customs and the mass are nothing worth. We left her some tracts, and amongst them one of Judge Hale's, which struck her so forcibly on reading it, that she followed us to our hotel, to say how much it was suited to her state of mind.
6 mo.30. -- After our little meeting this morning with the few friends resident here, and some others, we went to the Protestant Chapel, in the Rue Taitbout, to hear the children examined in the Scriptures. Many of the parents were present. The class which we attended was conducted by Mademoiselle Chabot. The subject was the crucifixion of our Saviour, the 27th chapter of Matthew. The children repeated the portion they had learnt, and then Mademoiselle C. questioned them in a simple, sweet, and instructive manner, calculated to impress the great truths of Christianity on their minds. A gentleman examined a class of boys; and after this course of exercise was finished, De Pressense gave them a lecture from the Old Testament. The subject was the healing of Naaman, and the manner of proceeding was simple; the child called upon stood up and answered pretty much as they do at Ackworth; he repeated a few verses directly bearing on the subject, and the application which was made was admirable. We were really edified in being present. How much this kind of instruction is wanted for many of our poor children in England! How delightful it is to see a large room filled with Roman Catholic children and parents, all receiving Christian instruction together! The Roman Catholics no longer object to send their children to Protestants, because they know they will be well instructed. The chapel is a beautiful room, with a circular gallery supported on pillars, and a dome top; and it is the identical place where, only two years ago, the Saint Simonians held forth their doctrines: --
...... Oh reformation rare,
7 mo.2. -- We had a long walk to the Rue St. Maur, to meet by appointment our kind friend De Pressense to visit the schools for mutual instruction. At this season of the year the children are more busy with their parents than usual; but in winter there are 200 boys, 200 girls, and 200 children in the infant school, with an evening school for adults. Scripture extracts are made use of, and also the Scriptures themselves. We were struck with the quiet and good order of all these schools. I have seen very few in England where the same stillness is observable. With the exception of some three or four, all the children are Roman Catholics; and on First-days, particularly in winter, the room is filled with Roman Catholic men and women, mostly parents of the children, who come to hear them examined in the Scriptures and to receive instruction themselves. Our conductor showed us the boys' gardens. On the walls were grapes hanging in large bunches, belonging to the master. The boys are so far from stealing them, that if they find any on the ground, they take them to him. Of the children who attend at the school, forty-six are provided with bed, board, and clothing, at a neighboring establishment.
One of the most interesting men with whom J. and M.Y. became acquainted was Pastor Audebez.
He was, say they, formerly minister at Bordeaux, but received a strong impression that it was his religious duty to come to Paris. Soon after he left Bordeaux, a great awakening took place in that neighborhood under the ministry of his successor, while with himself at Paris all seemed darkness and discouragement. This induced him to think he had done wrong in removing, and he was much distressed; but as he persevered in doing what presented as his duty, his way for usefulness in this great city opened in a remarkable manner. He first opened the chapel in the Taitbout, and then one in the Faubourg du Temple, where his labors have been crowned with success. He told us with great simplicity that he never premeditated or wrote his sermons, but after reading a portion of Scripture proceeded to speak from what he felt to impress his mind at the time. He said some of the ministers considered their discourse before delivering it, and he believed their mode of preaching was also blessed. Being accustomed to arrange their thoughts in methodical order, perhaps such might not perform so well in any other way, and the people were used to it; but he preferred speaking from a more spontaneous spring of thought, though not so well arranged as to theological order.
We felt much inclined to hear him for ourselves, and attended in the Rue St. Maur on First-day evening; and we have this testimony to bear, -- that we heard the gospel preached to the poor. He first read the 25th Psalm, and then part of the Epistle to the Romans, which formed the basis of his exhortation. It reminded me of [what I have read of] the preaching of the early Christians. My very heart went with his impressive exhortation to believe in the Lord Jesus as the only means of salvation, and of the necessity of bringing forth fruits unto holiness.
7 mo.5. -- Pastor Grandpierre came to pay us a visit with four of his missionary students. We had a precious religious opportunity with them. The Pastor expressed his belief that the power and presence of the Saviour had been evidently felt among us. The young men were much tendered; one of them was a grandson of the late Pastor Oberlin, and had been sensibly affected by what Stephen Grellet had said in a meeting at his father's place of worship in the Ban de la Roche. Three of the young men who were in the institution at our last visit to Paris are now in Africa. We admire the principle on which this establishment is conducted; the inmates are not sent out unless they believe it to be their duty to go; if this be not the case at the expiration of their term, they return home.
On the 7th John Yeardley, accompanied by Joseph Grellet, brother of Stephen Grellet, visited the Sabbath-school in the Rue St. Maur. Martha Yeardley was indisposed and unable to leave the house.
When the classes had finished, says J.Y., De Pressense proposed to give a lecture on a subject from the Old Testament, and bestowed great pains to make it clear to the infant capacities of the children. I had intimated to my worthy friend a desire for liberty to express what might arise in my mind when he had done, which was most readily granted, and after I had spoken to the children, there seemed great liberty in addressing the teachers, parents and young persons present. There was much seriousness the whole time and a precious sense of divine love was over us. Our kind friend, J. Grellet, interpreted for me in an impressive and clear manner.
The name of Mark Wilks has been for many years identified with the cause of evangelical religion in Paris. John Yeardley had an interview with him, and makes an interesting note in his Diary regarding his opinions on the state of religious parties at this period.
7 mo.9. -- This morning I had an interview with Mark Wilks. He received me very cordially, and, as I expected, I found him full of religious intelligence; he is just returned from a tour in Switzerland, and speaks encouragingly of the state of the Christian church in general. He has resided in Paris fifteen years, and of course seen many changes. He assured me that the arm of infidelity is weakening; nothing like the same exertion is made to spread the vile doctrine. The fact is, in some degree, the people are too indifferent to trouble themselves about it, and would not spend a son for its promotion; on the other hand, zealous Christians are doing all in their power to promote the spread of gospel truth.
On the 15th John S. Mollet, who had arrived in Paris after them, accompanied J. and M.Y. to Madame d'Aublay's.
We met, they say, several of her relations who professed to be Catholics, but were rather of the philosophical school. They were interested in the conversation, though nothing of a religious nature occurred. Madame d'Aublay has distributed many of our books and tracts. The next day she took us to see more of her friends, much of the same character. We have a hope that our drawing some of these to the really Christian characters may do good, since each class expressed surprise to hear us speak to them of the other. It will be no small satisfaction if any of our Society here should be like the mortar to bind parties together, and weaken prejudice, that the one true knowledge may increase.
21st -- Attended the chapel at the Taitbout this morning. Heard a discourse by Pastor Grandpierre; he preaches the gospel in its purity, with much of the right unction. We did not feel out of our place in being present, and I trust it may have its use both on ourselves and others. This kind of Christian liberty seems to open our way among the people. In the evening we had quite a large meeting in our room; several of the attenders at the Taitbout coming in, together with the Friends in Paris. It was, adds John Yeardley, a precious tendering time, and I trust strength was given to preach the gospel; the sick and afflicted were not forgotten by my M. Y. In supplication.
By "the sick" in the foregoing passage was probably intended Rachel, wife of Dr. Waterhouse of Liverpool, and daughter of David and Abigail Dockray. This young Friend, who was ill in the neighborhood of Paris, was about to be removed to England, but at the very time when the carriage was at the door she was struck with paralysis. This happened two days before the meeting just described, and J. and M.Y. had hastened to offer their sympathy and aid to her afflicted husband and mother. They deferred their departure from Paris in order to remain with the family, and they both took turns in assisting to watch, by the bed-side of the sufferer. She survived only a few days, and expired, in the hope and peace of the gospel, the day after they quitted the city.
We may conclude the narrative of this interesting visit to Paris with a short reflection by Martha Yeardley.
I have been renewedly confirmed since being in Paris that our first religious awakening proceeds from the immediate influence of the Spirit on the heart of man, and this is the doctrine preached and maintained by the writings of the truly devoted Christians in this place, who are brought to profess living faith in our Lord Jesus Christ as the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End.
They found the country on the road to Nancy very agreeable.
29th, evening. -- The white houses among the trees, and the vines on the hill-sides, form a picturesque landscape. The reapers were busy in the harvest fields; and the ground that is cleared of its burdens gives proof of the diligence of the French farmer; the plougher, if not the sower, literally overtakes the reaper. In the forepart of the route we saw much wood and water, hill and dale, with cattle feeding in the peaceful pastures, which is a lovely sight. As we advanced towards Chalons, it became less interesting, more flat, with fewer trees and meadows. Everywhere the harvest more forward than in England, but the crops much more light and thin.
They entered Nancy under a feeling of gloom, and it was some time before they could find relief to their minds; but by patiently pursuing the paths of intercourse which opened before them, they were enabled to deposit with some serious individuals their accustomed testimony to the simple spiritual nature of the gospel. In allusion to this trial of their patience John Yeardley remarks: --
I cannot, I dare not, complain, when I think of the difficulties some of our Friends had to encounter who travelled on the Continent years ago, when darkness prevailed to a much greater extent. The want of the language, &c., which some of them experienced, must have been very trying. It is to me an unspeakable comfort to be able to understand the language of the country where we travel.
Travelling by the Diligence being too rapid for Martha Yeardley's state of health, they hired a carriage and horses to take them to Strasburg, and found this mode of travelling less expensive, as well as much less fatiguing, than the public conveyance.
8 mo.5. -- Left Nancy at 6 o'clock in the morning, and had a delightful journey. I feel particularly peaceful in spirit, and a degree of resignation pervades my heart to be given fully up to do the will of my Heavenly Father.
Our mode of travelling afforded us an opportunity of calling at Phalsbourg, where we found a handful of Protestants, about twenty-six families, mostly German settlers. On inquiring for the minister, we found he was engaged with his class at the college. His wife appeared surprised at seeing such strangers, thinking from our dress and our speaking French, we were no doubt Roman Catholics. We soon perceived the family were Germans, and I then addressed them in their native tongue, which immediately, opened the way to their hearts. Nothing would satisfy the good woman but that we must call at the college to see her husband. He was embarrassed on being so suddenly called out of the class, and appeared a little fearful; but when he understood who we were, and our mission, he became almost overjoyed to see us. There has been a little awakening in this place, and a desire to obtain the Scriptures. One of them said, "I have been accustomed to smoke tobacco, but have now left it off, and I will put the money into the box to save for a Bible." Another said, "I have been accustomed to take snuff, but I will now save the money for a Bible." And another said, "I have drunk more wine than I need; I will take less, and subscribe for a Bible." This little account in such a dark place was quite cheering; for they are surrounded and oppressed by the Roman Catholics, in whose presence they are afraid to speak.
On entering Alsace, the view of the country was enchanting. We dined at Sarrebourg, which appeared at a distance like a town in the midst of a wood.
At Strasburg they were received in an ingenuous manner by some enlightened Roman Catholics, who did all in their power to forward their object; but it was not until they fell in with the Protestant Professor Cuvier, that they found the proper channel for the work of the gospel. In few places did they find brighter tokens of inward spiritual religion.
8 mo.6. -- Called on Professor Cuvier and delivered the letter which Mark Wilks had kindly given us. We found the professor an humble-minded Christian, kind and affectionate. He conducted us to Pastor Majors, who was born in Prussia, and speaks German and French well. We soon became united to him in spirit. He is one of the inward school, and a diligent laborer in the Lord's vineyard. He has been here about three months as pastor of a little handful of Christians. He is fully sensible of the necessity of a right preparation of heart before acceptable worship can be performed. He said when the people came to their place of worship they were full of the world, and the word preached did not profit, because it did not sink into their hearts. I believe he fully comprehends the nature of true silence; and he is acquainted with many interior persons whom we wish to see in Switzerland, &c. This dear man was nine months in Corfu, preparing to be a missionary there; but he was taken ill, and suffered much in body and mind. The way in which he mentioned the wonderful dealings of the Lord with him was to me very instructive. He told me he had not been sufficiently careful to seek divine counsel before he undertook the mission; and it had pleased the Almighty to bring him into the deeps, and instruct him in the school of affliction; and he can now most fully acknowledge there is no safety but under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. He and a few others have united for the purpose of printing and circulating small tracts, purely Scripture extracts. They are now engaged in forming a selection for every day in the year, from the Old and New Testament. I accord much with their work; it is just what I have thought of for a long time.
Pastor Majors conducted us to Professor Ehrmann, a worthy Christian, simple-hearted and spiritually-minded. His two daughters are precious young women; the older of them recollected to have seen us at Kornthal, in 1827. She knew us instantly, and appeared overcome with joy and surprise, though we could not recollect her. It is no wonder we should have felt so much attraction to this place, though on entering the town I was, as usual, extremely discouraged, and I feel unworthy to be employed in the least service of my holy Redeemer.
On the 7th they dined at the La Combes, a Catholic family, who took them to see the House of Correction, where John Yeardley interrogated the boys in the prison school, and afterwards addressed them. In the evening they were present at Pastor Majors' Bible-class.
It is composed, says J.Y., of ten young men, who meet once a week at his lodging, and he instructs them in the Scriptures. I rejoiced to meet with them. Before the conclusion we had a religious opportunity, in which I was strengthened to express what was on my mind. The pastor offered a prayer in which our hearts truly united. The Saviour's love was very precious to our souls, and I trust we were edified together in the Lord.
8th. -- The Pastor Majors called for us to pay a few visits. He is so spiritual and interior in his walk with God that it does me good to be in his company. Passing along the street, he said, We will just speak to a man who has been in England; he will be pleased to see you. He was alone in his meal and flour shop, which is apart from the house. He received us heartily; and on our coming away he pressed us to go up and speak to his daughters. After hesitating a few moments we went to the room and to our surprise found a little company of young females met to work for the missionaries, and to read. After sitting a while with them, one of the girls in much simplicity handed the Bible to our friend, and he read a chapter in the First Epistle of Peter, which was followed by a Friends' meeting with these dear young persons. I felt great openness in addressing them, and thankfulness filled my heart to the Father of mercies for having given us this casual opportunity of preaching the gospel.
In the evening we went to meeting with Pastor M.'s flock. He has taken the first floor of a good house, and appropriates three rooms opening one into another for a meeting-house, placing his pulpit, which is on wheels, in the doorway, so that when the meeting hour is over he can put the pulpit aside and make the rooms his dwelling. The rooms are fitted with long benches; the men and women sit separate and enter by different doors. The worship is conducted with much solemnity; they have for the present discontinued singing. They sat in silence some time at the commencement, when Majors offered a short prayer, and then read and expounded a small portion of Scripture. When he had finished he introduced us as English friends. He had told me previously that if I felt anything to say, I had only to intimate it to him. This liberty was acceptable to me, for I had felt much exercise of mind for the people; and after we had rested some time in silence, I was strengthened to speak with great freedom, and the power of the Most High was over us. Many thirsty souls were present, who, I believe, know the value of true silence. The two rooms for the women were crowded, and the stillness which pervaded was remarkable. A military man addressed me after the meeting, in English, expressing his great satisfaction and joy in being present; he is a regular attendant at this place of worship. The pastor said he was comforted and thankful that the Spirit of the Lord had been with us, and divided his word to the state of the people.
On the 9th, Professor Krafft and Pastor Majors conducted them to the Agricultural School for destitute children at Neuhoff, four miles from the city. This well-known institution was founded by a man who had been taken as a child out of the streets, and whose wife had been brought up in an orphan-house. John Yeardley says: --
The arrangement of the farm-yard, &c., and the cropping of the land are pretty much the same as at Beuggen, near Basle, and what is now practised at Lindfield; and it is just what we want Rawden to be -- at least what I should like to see it. Before leaving the premises, we had the children assembled in the schoolroom, and held a meeting with them, with which we were well satisfied. There is a sweet spirit of inward piety in the master and mistress.
On First-day, the 11th, they attended Pastor Majors' meeting in the morning, and in the afternoon appointed a meeting of their own in the same place, at which some hundreds were present.
It was a precious tendering season; much openness was felt in preaching the word, and I trust many hearts were reached by the power of the Holy Spirit. At 7 o'clock we held our usual meeting in the room at the inn, to which came many of our friends; and I trust we were again favored with the presence of the Divine Master. To conclude the evening, we went to Professor Ehrmann's, where we partook of tea, fruit, wine, &c. It felt to us a true feast of love.
This has been a day of much exercise; but best help has been near in the time of need, and I feel sweet peace. There is a great awakening in this place; thirty of the young women are preciously visited. In accompanying them home, some of them expressed to me that it had been a blessed and happy day, they hoped never to be forgotten. These dear lambs are near to us in gospel love, and I am glad they have such a minister in Pastor M.: he stands quite alone, not being connected with any other Society.
In reading of days spent like that which has just been described, we see in a striking manner what was the nature of that work of the ministry for which John Yeardley was prepared at Barnsley and Bentham by so many deep baptisms and sharp trials of his faith and obedience. The stage on which he was called to act was not the most public; the part which he had to perform was unobtrusive; but when the value of strengthening the weak, comforting the afflicted, and, above all, skilfully dividing the word of truth in the anointed ministry of the gospel, comes rightly to be estimated, it cannot be said but that the fruit was in some sort commensurate with the power of the call and the extent of the preparation.
The next day and the succeeding were occupied by John and Martha Yeardley in an excursion to the Ban de la Roche, of which the former gives the following account in his Diary.
12th. -- In company with Majors, we set off at 6 o'clock to the Ban de la Roche. We had a most delightful drive by the side of the river, flowing along the fertile meadows: the hills on each side variegated with trees of almost every color, and occasional vineyards added to the richness of the scene. After travelling twelve leagues, we arrived at Foudai, where we met with an affectionate and hearty welcome from the whole family of the Legrands. The two families live together in one house, with their lovely children. We took tea with them, and then proceeded up Steinthal to Waldbach, to the house of the late pious Oberlin. Pastor Raucher's wife and daughter were out when we arrived; but we spent a little time with the dear old Louise, who is lively in spirit, us to be near her. The pastor's wife and daughter came home in the evening, and received us with open arms. We spent the night there, and they accompanied us the next morning to the Legrands' to breakfast, about a league in distance. After we had breakfasted, we requested a chapter might be read, and then had a precious meeting with them. We were so knit together in spirit, that we could hardly separate from one another. They accompanied us, on leaving, all the way up the hill, when we again took an affectionate farewell.
The conversation of our dear friend Majors has been to me truly instructive, and I trust our being thus thrown together is in divine wisdom. We have gone very fully into the nature, of our church discipline, and have had much spiritual conversation to the refreshment of our souls.
We arrived at Strasburg about 7 o'clock, and I attended the class of his young men, which afforded me once more an opportunity to speak to them of the things that belong to their eternal peace.
Their religious service in Strasburg finished with a visit to the family of Professor Ehrmann, in which Martha Yeardley ministered to the company, and they commended one another in solemn supplication to the safe keeping of Israel's Shepherd.
Both the German and French languages are spoken in Strasburg. In their religious communications to those who spoke German, J. and M.Y. sometimes availed themselves of the interpretation of Pastor Majors, who they found was never at a loss, and who said, "It is no difficulty for me to interpret for you, because you say the very things that are in my heart."
From Strasburg they went on to Colmar and Muelhausen. The latter place, particularly interested them, from the number of persons recently awakened there, and they held several meetings in the town. John Yeardley says: --
In the whole district of Alsace there is a great deal of spiritual religion among the different professors; but in some of the ministers there is great deadness, or else infidelity.
The next halting-place on their route was Basle. This city, and the little canton of which it is the capital, were then in a state of civil war. The great political eruption of 1830, by which half Europe had been convulsed, continued to agitate Switzerland long after it had spent its force elsewhere. On the 3rd of the month, a little more than two weeks before the date at which we are arrived, a large body of the citizens, under arms, went out to reduce the peasants to subjection: the latter gave them battle amongst the hills and entirely defeated them, killing 200 of their number. The ferment was gradually subsiding when J. and M.Y. were in the city.
They found the town pretty quiet, though full of soldiers. A general sentiment seemed to prevail amongst serious persons, that the judgments of the Lord were upon the country.
Poor Switzerland, exclaims J.Y., what an awful judgment is come upon thee! Is it to be wondered at? within the last six months they have persecuted and banished twenty ministers from the Canton of Basle, simply because they preached the gospel, and the unbelieving inhabitants could not bear it.
They visited the Mission-House, and held a large meeting there with the students and others; Pastor Majors, who was present, from Strasburg, interpreting for them. "It was," says J.Y., "a season long to be remembered."
From Basle, they took the Diligence direct to Locle, where they spent two days with M.A. Calame's large and interesting family. They were introduced to Argyri Climi, whom they describe as a girl of "pensive character and genteel manners." On the 26th they descended the slope of the Jura to Neufchatel.
About 5 o'clock, says John Yeardley, we came in sight of the snow-capped Alps. I saw them for some time through the trees, but the sun shone so bright that I did not for a moment imagine they were any other than clouds; but coming out from the wood I soon discovered my mistake; and a most majestic, sublime sight, indeed it is.
At Neufchatel they took a lodging a little way out of the town, by the lake, and remained there a month, receiving and making calls and holding meetings for worship at the houses of their friends, as Professor Petavel's, -- -- Chatelain's, and in their own rooms. At the close of a day spent in this manner J.Y. says: --
I feel this evening a degree of sweet peace, and a strong desire to become more united to my Saviour, who died that we might live. When the mind is fixed on eternity, how little do all other things appear! Lord, redeem me from the world, and grant me power to live for thee alone! -- (9 mo.1.)
His observations on another similar occasion mark the religious state of the deeply interesting company in this place, amongst whom they went about in the liberty of the gospel.
9 mo.24. -- In the afternoon had a long walk with our dear friend Petavel's family, quite to the top of the mountains, from which we had the most delightful view possible. In the evening we took tea with them; and, a few others coming in, we had a religious opportunity before parting. It is extraordinary how great is the desire to hear the word in its simplicity; they love the simplicity of the gospel, but probably are not prepared, as yet, to hold silent meetings alone. They all say it is remarkable we should be sent among them in this time of war in the land with the message of peace.
The little meeting which had been begun by Auguste Borel had been discontinued in consequence of his removal into the country. He visited them, and they found him alive in the truth and full of affection as before.
Amongst a number of new acquaintances, one of the most interesting was a Polish Countess. She lodged near them, with her husband and child, and sent to desire the liberty of calling on them. Martha Yeardley had often longed to become acquainted with her; and she, as she told them afterwards, had felt so strongly inclined towards them when she met them on the promenade that she could not rest without seeking their acquaintance.
At the time fixed, say J. and M.Y., the Countess came alone, her husband being unwell, and asked a few questions respecting our views in travelling. She is a Roman Catholic by profession, but has been brought up in great ignorance of her religion, and quite in the gaiety of the world. She deeply lamented the state of her unhappy country, to which a fatality seemed to attach, and spoke of her own particular trials, having lost four of her children. Whilst we were endeavoring to make her sensible of the mercies which are often hid under the most painful dispensations, an English missionary, who had been engaged in preaching to many of the Polish refugees in the country, came in with Professor Petavel. They became much interested for the Countess, and in reply to some of her questions, the missionary explained the truths of the gospel in a clear and satisfactory way. We rejoiced in the unexpected meeting; several others came in, and it proved a memorable visit.
When again alone with the Countess she continued her history, opening her heart to M.Y. with the greatest confidence. In former years, she said, she had been drawn to seek the Lord, but for awhile affliction seemed to harden her heart, and she lost the religious impressions she had received; but now she felt again a desire to become acquainted with her Saviour, for she was miserable and felt the need of such a refuge.
22nd. -- In the afternoon the Count and Countess paid us a visit. He is a man of strong mind, weary of the disappointing pleasures of the world, and happily turned to seek comfort in the substantial truths of religion. The Countess was delighted to find that we were of the same Society as William Penn, whose name her father much revered. They desired permission to attend our meeting; and a little before the hour we called on them, and they accompanied us to Professor Petavel's, where we had a room quite filled and a good meeting. At the conclusion M.Y. made some apology to the Countess for the imperfect manner in which the communication was made; but she replied, "It comes from the heart, and it goes to the heart." After the meeting none seemed disposed to move, and the Countess commenced asking questions directing to passages of the Scriptures, apparently desirous to confirm the practices of the Romish Church, but sincerely seeking to have the conviction of her own heart confirmed that they were errors. It is not easy to describe the interest which this scene presented. An accomplished Roman Catholic lady proposing questions of the deepest moment, and the learned but pious and humble Professor Petavel answering them with the Bible in his hand, while a roomful of attentive hearers were, we trust, reaping deep instruction. Argyri joined them on the 27th at Neufchatel, and they left that city the same day for Geneva.
Here they tarried nearly a fortnight, were received with much affection by their old friends, and had a few religious meetings. Martha Yeardley says: --
We met with several very interesting persons at Geneva, and had three religious opportunities with them; at the last meeting the number was much increased, but the place is not like Neufchatel. The different societies make bonds for themselves and for one another, so that love and harmony do not sufficiently prevail amongst them.
Our stay in this place, writes John Yeardley, has been a time of distress of mind and perplexity of thought, arising probably from the great weight and importance of the journey before us, and the anxiety of providing a conveyance through a strange and dark country. After much difficulty, we have concluded a written contract with an Italian voiturier to take us to Ancona. May our Divine Keeper, in his infinite mercy, grant us protection and safety, even in the hands of ungodly men!
The journey to Ancona took them seventeen days; they crossed the Alps by the Simplon, and traversed Italy through Milan and Bologna. Martha Yeardley touches upon a few points of the journey in a letter to Elizabeth Dudley.
Ancona, 11 mo.4.
We had much to do before we could meet with a suitable conveyance, and at length trusted ourselves with our Italian coachman, who could not speak French. For a certain sum he was to give us three places in his coach, and provide us with food and lodging by the way. The other passenger inside was an Englishman, who spoke very little French and no Italian, and another Englishman outside was in the same situation. We could not but feel ourselves a very helpless company when arriving at the inns, which were quite of an inferior class, and little or no French spoken. We did pretty well, however, till we got to Milan, where we rested some days; and our Englishmen were exchanged for an Italian priest who spoke no French, and a Swiss who was a little useful to us as far as Bologna; after this place we travelled five days alone. The inns on this side of Milan are much worse, and from the detention of our passports in the towns we passed through, we were often prevented from reaching the place of destination, and obliged to lodge at villages, where we suffered much in the way of food and lodging; yet through all we were favored to bear the journey much better than I expected. My J.Y. was rather poorly for two days, and I was extremely anxious about him; but the sight of the Gulf of Venice seemed to help to restore him.
At Sinigaglia, a town eighteen miles from this, they told us that we should just meet the vessel which was to sail on the 30th. Judge then what was our disappointment when, on arriving at the inn here, we found that it was gone.
This disappointment was a severe trial of their patience; but they consoled themselves with reflecting that "good in some shape might arise out of the seeming evil."
Ancona, says John Yeardley, is beautifully situated on the side of a high hill, in appearance at a distance a perfect model of Scarborough. There are in the place a good many Greeks, one of whom Argyri recognised as we inquired at his shop the way to the Post-office. On returning she made herself known to him, and he shows us every attention; he is a fine looking man, with a countenance as strong as brass. We are comfortably lodged, with a delightful view of the harbor, but our hearts are in Corfu.
Our young companion, adds M.Y., is amiable and very quick, but not of much use to us respecting her native tongue, which she retains but very imperfectly, and is not at all fond of speaking it.
The houses are high, and many of the streets narrow and offensive, for want of cleanliness and from an immense population; such numbers are continually in the streets, that there is no quiet or good air in the town. The darkness is extreme, and the dissipation apparently very great; the oppression of our spirits at some periods is almost insupportable; and yet I am at times very sensible of the calming influence of divine love, with a sense that, having acted to the best of our judgment, we must resign ourselves to wait for the return of the steam-packet from England.
When on arriving here we found there were no letters, and that probably they were sent to Corfu, my heart sank within me. We have, however, been since cheered by receiving a very kind letter from dear Robert Forster; nothing could have been more in season than this token of remembrance.
Finding no suitable vessel for Corfu, with the assistance of their Greek friend they hired a lodging, and gave their time to the study of Italian and the Modern Greek. Religions labor was hardly to be thought of; the government of the town and every public office was under the direction of the Roman Catholic priests, of whom there were more than 400. However, they were enabled to hold improving intercourse with some individuals, mostly Greeks; "for whom," says Martha Yeardley, "we felt much interest, and some, I believe, became attached to us; we gave them a few books."
Before commencing with their visit to the Ionian Islands, it will be interesting to glance at the circle of Friends whom they had left in England. From the letters which have been preserved, we select the following extract: the first is from the pen of one who may be described as sound in heart and understanding, of extensive knowledge and large Christian charity.
Scarborough, 10 mo.16, 1833.
MY DEAR FRIENDS.
Accept my grateful acknowledgments, and through me those of all your friends in this neighborhood, for the copies which I have received of your interesting journals. It is indeed a cause of rejoicing to us that you have been so favored in meeting with so many pious persons with, whom you could hold Christian fellowship, and among whom there is strong reason for believing your labors have not been in vain. It is to me very gratifying that you feel and exercise so much Christian freedom in mingling among persons of various denominations, whom, though owing to education and to various circumstances, they may differ considerably in opinion on subjects of minor importance, yet conscious of one common disease -- that of sin, and looking for or experiencing the only remedy -- reconciliation with God through one Saviour, -- you can salute as brethren and sisters in the truth, and feel your spirits refreshed whilst you enjoy the privilege of refreshing theirs; and like Aquila and Priscilla, with Apollos, are made the instruments, I trust, of "expounding unto them the way of God more perfectly." My dear mother thinks that the persons you meet with must be more spiritually-minded than Christians in this country. They have, perhaps, from external circumstances, experienced deeper baptisms, and have made greater sacrifices, than many amongst us have been called upon to make; and we know that ease and outward prosperity have not been favorable to the interests of the true Church: but, without doubt, they are exposed to similar dangers to those in this land whose minds have been awakened to the importance of religious truth.
After speaking of a journey which he had made with Samuel Tuke and Joseph Priestman for re-arranging some of the Monthly Meetings in the West Riding, the writer continues: --
On the journey I received intelligence of the decease of Hannah Whitaker; the account produced a strong sensation in the minds of Friends generally, who felt much for our dear afflicted friend Robert Whitaker, and for the loss which the institution at Ackworth has sustained. I have had a note from R.W., written evidently under very desponding feelings; yet he knows where alone consolation is to be sought, and I still cherish the hope that his valuable services will not be lost to the establishment in which they have been so long blessed.
We intend to meet as a Bible class on Second-day evening: our number will be small, but I hope we shall persevere. Your house and garden look much as usual; but I scarcely like to look at them, since I cannot go to spend such pleasant evenings as I used to do there. However, I believe you are in the way of your duty, and I know it would he wrong in me to repine at the loss of your company.
I trust you do not forget our poor little company in your approaches to the throne of grace. You are, I believe, the subjects of many prayers: O that the parties who offer them were more worthy!
Your affectionate friend,
This letter was endorsed by one from J.R.'s mother (the Elizabeth Rowntree whom the reader may remember as the hostess of J. and M. Yeardley on their first visit to Scarborough,) from which we extract a few lines.
The accounts I have received have often helped to cheer my drooping mind, to hear how many you have met with in various places, who could sit down with you in worshipping the Father in spirit and in truth. I have thought of the privileges many of us have had, yet I think many you have met with may make us ashamed of ourselves; and the desire of my heart has often been that we may be more deepened.
John Rowntree's letter contained the information that Richard Cockin, of Doncaster, a Friend universally known and respected in the Society, had been physically disabled by a stroke of paralysis. R. C. himself wrote at the same time to John and Martha Yeardley, describing his affliction, which he received with childlike resignation as a message of love from a Father's hand.
I have, he says, no expectation of getting again to meeting, and it does not appear probable I shall be able again to get down stairs. With respect to the state of my mind, it was an occasion of grateful admiration to me that such & poor unworthy creature as I felt myself to be, should be so favored as to have my will entirely subjected, as to become resignedly willing either to live or die; and, for a time, the prospect of not continuing long appeared to be most probable. I, however, felt no reliance upon anything that I had done or could do; my dependence was entirely upon the unmerited mercy of God through Jesus Christ.