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William Evans.

The Friends' library : comprising journals, doctrinal treatises, and other writings of members of the religious Society of Friends (Volume 1) online

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After this, being visited by Sarah Grubb and
company, and confirmed in their sentiments,
they continued to profess the principles of our
religious Society, and have passed through
many trials lately, some having been im-
prisoned ; they were truly glad to see us, be-
lieving we had come in an acceptable time.

" 16th. We visited twelve of their families.
When speaking to Louis Majolier in imperfect
French, he repeated it in better, or rather in
what they call the Padua language, which is
bad French and Italian mixed, and hard to be
understood. Dined with Jean Benezet, the
husband of Magdalene-, being affectionately
desirous to serve us, they provided a great
variety of food : the wine is of their own
manufacture, such as is commonly drank
here, being similar to the American cider,
and not stronger. In the evening we had
the company of many of these friends, and
hope it was a time of encouragement to them.
I could not but repeatedly contrast the circum-
stances of these persons, with that of my dear
friends at home and in England. O ! the sweet
simplicity and innocence of this poor, indus-
trious, but apparently happy people.

" 17th. Taking a walk, on our return we
were met by a number of our friends, who
took us into a house where they had spread a
table with bread, butter, and a variety of fruits,
showing their assiduity to make us comfort-
able ; the innocence of their manners and
their desire of improvement by our visit
among them, was so forcibly impressed upon
me, that I was constrained to turn aside and
pour forth tears of gratitude and joy.
52



410



JOURNAL OF THE LIFE OF



" 18th. Visited the remaining families, and
find there are seventeen in all ; the men, wo-
men and children, are mostly employed in
vineyards, or cultivating olives and making
oil of them, or raising silk-worms ; though
there are some weavers of silk, and some of
wool and linen for the use of the villagers.
They appear to have but little in the world
and yet are contented, as much so as any
people I have seen on the continent ; their dis-
positions and manners evidently different from
the other nations we have visited. The vil-
lage contains about one hundred and fifty
houses and six hundred and fifty inhabitants,
all of whom have been civil and respectful to
us. There does not appear to be any person
of high character or riches among them, but
a remarkable equality reigns throughout the
whole.

" 19th. Attended meeting in the usual place,
where several not Friends were pi'esent ; the
whole number supposed to be alaout eighty,
-and it proved to be a solid good time. Hav-
ing yesterday felt our minds turned to write
our views and feelings respecting the state of
the Friends here, and to add some admonition,
encouragement, &c., Louis translated it and
read it at the close of the meeting, during
which most of the assembly were much con-
trited. We then separated under a thankful
sense of the goodness and mercy of the gra-
cious Shepherd of the sheep. Their usual
pi'actice being to hold but one meeting on
first-day, we appointed another to be at three
o'clock in the afternoon : before the time, the
room was filled, many coming fi'om Fontanes
and other villages not far off; the opportunity
was satisfactory, and ended in prayer and
thanks to Him whose is the power and the
glory. In the evening, about eight or ten men
and five women, the most noted among them,
came to have a free conference with us re-
specting establishing some order and disci-
pline and a Monthly Meeting, which has been
dropped several years, though there had been
some little care of the poor and also over the
moral conduct of the members; but as the time
was short we separated without attempting
anything.

" 20th. Walked to Calvisson, a village three
miles distant, containing three times the num-
ber of inhabitants of Congenies. None ap-
pear to profess with Friends, except the father
of Louis Majolier and his sistei'-in-law, who
do not attend the meetings at present. In this
part of France, villagers and peasants seem
to be the only inhabitants, few or none of rank
or wealth. On a mountain by the way, we
saw the Mediterranean sea, and had a most
extensive prospect of vineyards and olive-



yards, the air as fine and pure as France
affords, or perhaps any other country.

" 21st. In the evening, about forty men
and women Friends assembled to revive their
Monthly Meeting ; many of them lament the
want of proper discipline, and are very de-
sirous of adopting as much of our order as
may be suited to their circumstances. Louis
Majolier being chosen clerk, it was agreed to
procure books for entering fair minutes and
for recording births, marriages and burials :
they then nominated two men and two women
overseers ; some remarks were made and we
gave them such information as appeared pro-
per; they then recorded our visit on their min-
utes, and agreed to hold their Monthly Meeting
at a stated time in future.

" 22nd. I looked over the old minutes of
the Monthly Meeting, where they had record-
ed some certificates and letters, &c. It ap-
peared that two men and two women had laid
a concern before them to visit the families of
Friends at Gilles's, which they performed ;
that there were several marriages solemnized
nearly in the same order as Friends ; that they
had issued advice to be honest and punctual
in their dealings, and to walk in all respects
consistent with their profession; that they had
dealt tenderly with some who walked disor-
derly, and at length disowned one who would
not be reclaimed ; they also took care of the
poor, and recorded the certificates of our
friends, George and Sarah Dillwyn, Robert
and Sarah Gi'ubb, Mary Dudley, A. Bellamy
and John Elliott, who visited them in the year
1788. Upon the whole, there was more con-
sistency than I expected to find — and as they
now appear reanimated to commence again, I
feel a hope they will be supported ; many of
them are in a state of weakness and they
know it, and are willing to receive counsel.
On inquiry, I find there are a number of fami-
lies scattered in dififerent villages, who hold
the same religious opinions, and at times attend
their meetings.

" 23d. Benjamin Johnson was very poorly,
and but little medical aid could be obtained.
We deferred going to Gilles's, and our minds
are closely exercised, yet thanks be unto Him
who in mercy has hitherto carried us through
all ; I endeavour to cast my care upon Flim in
this sequestered corner of the world. In all
the village of Congenies I believe there is not
one shop for the vending any kind of goods,
yet the simple wants of the inhabitants seem
to be supplied, and they are continually
bringing us various kinds of fruits, preserves,
nuts, &c. ; no people need be more kind or
sympathetic than they appear to be. Their
fuel is principally the trimmings of the grape



WILLIAM SAVERY.



411



vines, olive, mulberry, fig and almond trees,
and at times the wood of such trees as die or
are blown up by the roots ; it is sold by
weight. I have not seen a forest of timber-
trees, for two hundred miles. The oliveyards
endure a long time, and do not arrive at their
most fruitful slate in less than fifteen years ; I
have seen several from one hundred to one
hundred and fifty years old, which are highly
esteemed — they trim them almost to the stump
every year.

" 24th. Walked with Louis to a part of his
ground where we planted some potatoes, which
are not much known or used here ; observed
many men and women pruning their trees and
vines, they work diligently among their olives,
almonds, mulberries, vines, &c., but do not
appear to be as laborious people as the Ger-
mans, yet they generally live better.

" 25th. Our friends Louis Majolier and
Pierre Robinel accompanying us, we rode out
to a village about one and a half leagues from
Congenies, and were met in the road by an
ancient woman who goes under the name of
a Friend ; much pleasure was pictured in her
countenance, and she conducted us to the
house of one also professing as Friends ; they
set before us some bread, honey and wine
with a little cheese, made that morning of
ewes milk. After waiting about one hour,
eight of those called Friends came ; others
being gone into the fields, we did not see
them. We sat down in religious retirement
with this little company, who appeared to be
less conformed to our practice than those at
Congenies, yet were serious. Something was
given to express for their encouragement in
pursuing the way of Truth as it opened on
their understandings, and to meet together to
wait upon God on first-days, and to visit
as frequently as convenient, the meetings of
Friends at Congenies ; after which, we re-
turned. Though the roads in France are
generally pretty good, there is scarcely any
such thing as travelling fast, their poor little
horses, mules and asses, seldom going more
than three miles an hour.

" First-day, 26th. The meeting in the
school room, which is at present their only
meeting-place, collected about ten o'clock ;
the forepart was somewhat interrupted by
a number coming late, and the room was
crowded, but being at length gathered into
stillness, the great Master of assemblies fa-
voured with his presence: a remarkable so-
lemnity continued for near an hour, very
refreshing to our spirits, and we were per-
suaded to many of theirs also. Feeling my
mind at liberty, I expressed a number of
Scriptui'e passages among them with some
addition, and thought I had never been so



favoured to express myself in French before,*
great tenderness prevailed among both old
and young : Louis made a very suitable ad-
dition, and the people parted, we believe,
through infinite condescension comforted —
there were upwards of eighty present ; seve-
ral professors came from the adjacent villages,
and shed tears of joy at meeting with us: there
were also some who had never been at a meet-
ing of the kind before. — Louis's religious father
and mother-in-law from Fontanes, dined with
us. In the afternoon, about the same num-
ber attended the meeting, and the people who
came from other villages, parted with us and
their friends here, in tears. In the evening,
had a conference with the overseers, with
those who speak in their meetings and with
some other leading members; on their own
motion it was agreed to hold henceforward,
two meetings on first-days, and one in the
middle of the week, if the next Monthly Meet-
ing united with it ; this opportunity afforded
us a free expression of sentiment on subjects
relating to their welfare.

" 27th. Louis, his wife and myself, went
to visit her parents and family at Fontanes ;
the country is hilly, yet covered with vines,
the soil very poor, though there are delightful
vallies among the mountains; but I have seen
neither cows nor oxen since leaving Nismes,
but sheep and goats for milk. Passed through
a village where were several large and once
elegant buildings, gardens, &c. belonging to
a cidevant nobleman, now totally ruined ; a
cross and a crucifix of enormous size, lay in
scattered fragments on the ground. As we
advanced towards Montpelier, I felt desirous
of visiting it, but it was not practicable. Ar..
rived at Fontanes, where the good old peo-
ple and family of Samuel Brunn were much
pleased to see us ; the kindness, simplicity
and genuine hospitality of this house, was
truly grateful; after spending about three and
a half hours with them, we took a most afi"ec-
tionate leave, not expecting to see them again :
most of the family walked half a mile on the
road with us, loading me with fruits, nuts, &c.,
accompanied with their blessing and desire for
my safe return home. We got back to Con-
genies about dusk, and found Benjamin still
very unwell.

" 28th. In the evening, accompanied by
Louis, I visited seven families, which appear-
ed to be agreeable and reviving : having found
my mind concerned to leave with them in writ-
ing, some further counsel respecting holding
their meetings for worship and discipline, with
that solemnity becoming the occasion, I got it -
translated and concluded lo have it read at
their Monthly Meeting. I believe these tender,
good people, would find tlioir meetings more



412



JOURNAL OF THE LIFE OF



useful, if they were kept more in silence ;
they have four persons who appear by way
of ministry in their meetings, three of them
we can not doubt have received gifts ; yet
one or more of these, we hope may improve
in weight and usefulness, by an increasing
disposition to wait all the Lord's appointed
time, to qualify them to administer to the
greater edification of the church. Our friends
here, have not yet banished that lively activity
of spirit and quickness of imagination, so char-
acteristic of their nation, and may be in dan-
ger of carrying it into their most serious
concerns ; they do not appear to have that
visionary disposition and desire of penetrating
hidden mysteries, so observable in the Ger-
mans ; and indeed the two nations differ in
almost everything.

" 30th. Our friends collecting at ten o'clock,
we sat down with them. The silence was truly
solemn and affecting, and the thought of part-
ing was deeply felt on both sides. I took leave
of them in the best French I could, Louis
mending it in some places; after which, David
Sands concluded in prayer : we embraced
them all with tenderness and parted in heart-
felt sympathy and affection, with many tears
and pious wishes. We mounted, David on a
bidet, I on a very poor little mule : Louis
Majolier, Pierre Robinel, Pierre Marignol and
Pierre Benezet, having two asses between them,
accompanied us. I rode about a league, when
my mule kicked and flounced about and showed
so many obstinate airs, that I was willing to
exchange it for an ass, but had not rode two
leagues more, before the little animal stumbled
on his knees and slipped me over his head,
without damage however. I then remounted
my mule, but soon after arriving at a village
where it had an inclination to stop, he kicked
and refused very obstinately to go on ; how-
ever at length, with the assistance of the
spectators, I got through the village, and he
afterwards behaved with more decorum du-
ring the journey, travelling at the rate of two
and a half miles an hour. Our whole busi-
ness on this continent has one tendency, viz :
to learn us patience; and we shall be poor
scholars indeed, if we return with as low a
stock as when we came from home. My
mind feeling sweetly relieved, at parting with
my dear friends at Congenies, I passed along
without complaining, the weather being fine
and the country covered with blossoms and
verdure. I did not wish myself at any other
place nor in any other company for the
present, believing we were moving in the way
of our duty. The country in the vicinity of
Gilles's was more hilly, and the whole with
a very few trees interspersed, was covered
with vineyards, the cultivation of grapes being



almost the sole occupation of the people ; yet
in the vallies they raise some wheat and rye.
There are very few cattle in this part of
the country, though as a rarity we saw two
young oxen ; horses are very scarce, but they
have excellent mules for their wagons. We
arrived safe at Gilles's in the evening, the
road being the nearest way from Congenies,
was in many places not practicable for car-
riages; the distance, said to be five leagues, oc-
cupied six hours without halting. Our guides
took us to the house of one professing with us,
where we were received kindly, and several
of those called Friends came to see us and
supped with us. Our landlord is an old man,
and perhaps the richest of those called Qua-
kers in France ; we were well accommodated
both as to provisions and lodging.

" 31st. Several of those called Friends
came to see us, and with some of them we
walked about three quarters of a mile to the
Rhone : the land between the town and the
river, was mostly sown with wheat and rye,
which looked well. After we returned, there
being several present and a good deal of con-
versation, David, Louis and myself, retired to
our chamber. It is not beneficial to enter too
freely into conversation about things which
have little or no connection with our main
business among this people, and therefore we
find it best sometimes to withdraw, for they
are a people very fond of talking. In the
evening, about forty attended our meeting and
behaved orderly, though we sat in silence
about an hour, when I thought it right to de-
liver a few expressions, to which they paid
attention ; yet except in a few instances, there
did not appear to be that preparation to re-
ceive the word which was so evident in our
friends at Congenies. Louis afterwards urged
the necessity of their adding more of the works
and fruits of the Spirit to their faith, without
which, the good profession they had made to
the world, would neither yield them peace nor
be a light sufficient to guide others into the
Truth. There appeared some tenderness, all
were quiet and seemed retired in their minds,
yet I thought it altogether a time of suffering,
and there was less of the cementing power
and love of Christ to be felt, than in the
meetings at Congenies.

"Fourth month 1st. From the top of the
hill above the town, there is a prospect of a
fine extensive valley with a canal in the mid-
dle. On the side next to the Rhone, it ap-
peared to be as handsome and rich a spot as
I had seen in France ; but one of the Friends
in company, said it was not of more than
half the value, nor did it yield half the profit
of the hills of gravel that surrounded all the
other side of the town, extending several



WILLIAM SAVERY.



413



miles and covered with vines, but so poor that
it appeared as though it would yield little or
no grain or grass, yet produced the finest
wine in all Languedoc : the valley was too
rich and damp for wine, and two acres of it
would be given for one of vineyard, and the
vineyard cost as little labour per acre, as the
grass or grain. The grapes raised on rich
land, make the poorest and thinnest wine ; but
the more dry and poor the land, if the vines
will grow at all, the stronger and more excel-
lent the liquor ; this is a fact established by
experience.

" This city contains six thousand inhabi-
tants, a few of whom are Protestants. Before
the revolution, they had twenty-nine Catholic
priests to support, at present they have but
one large and very ancient chapel remaining,
and but two priests ; the women appear to be
going in and out of their chapel all day and
seem devout, but very rew men pay any at-
tention to religion. It is a lively industrious
place, and has a considerable trade in wine
and brandy up and down the Rhone — they
sell almost everything by weight, as apples,
nuts, oranges, &c. ; in the market they were
weighing live eels, and had much difficulty to
keep them in the scales. The Friend at whose
house we are, has a large family of chil-
dren, and is a great cultivator of the vine, &c. ;
having about five hundred acres of land on
rent, at from two to three guineas per acre ;
another of the Friends has also about the
same quantity, and they appear to be men of
the first rank in this place. Those professing
with us, appear generally to be in more easy
circumstances than at Congenies. Dined at
one of those Friend's who had a plentiful table
and the finest fruits, raisins, figs and grapes,
almost as fresh as on the vines. After dinner,
sitting down with the family, a solemnity co-
vered us, in which David Sands and myself
had something to offer. Mary, the daughter
of David Ventigole, also bore a lively and
tendering testimony in much humility. I
thought I had not heard the Gospel preached
more in the demonstration of the Spirit in
France ; she has appeared a few times in
their public meetings. Going out to take a
little walk alone before dark, one of the
Friends came to me, and I went back to his
house and spent a few minutes with him and
his wife to much satisfaction, they being a
valuable couple who love the Truth. The
more we know the people here, the more our
love increases toward them. I was at the
house of a lame man, a tailor, who appears to
be a steady, religious person, and says he never
asks one price for his goods and takes another.

" First-day, 2nd of fourth month. At the



meeting this morning in the house where we
lodge, about sixty or more attended, who
behaved with remarkable decency and solid-
ity. About an hour passed in silence, then
Pierre Robinel, Pierre Marignon, Louis Ma-
jolier and myself had each a few words to
oflJer ; after which, Mary, daughter of David
Ventigole, bore her testimony, which was edi-
fying and sound, delivered in much humility,
and had considerable effect on the audience.
After the meeting closed, Louis read the same
writing that was read at Congenies; the truths
contained in it, touched divei's of them sensi-
bly : we were satisfied with the meeting, be-
lieving the great Master of assemblies favoured
with his presence. In the afternoon, the meet-
ing was attended by some Catholics and some
Protestants, and concluded in much broken-
ness, and a humbling sense of the renewed
love and mercy of our heavenly Father. At
seven o'clock in the evening, we had about
ten men and four women of the principal per-
sons in our room, to propose for their conside-
ration, the propriety of establishing an order
and discipline ; some of them expressed their
opinion of its fitness, and we then left it under
their consideration.

" 3d. Dined at David Ventigole's ; he told
us he owned about eighteen hundi'ed sheep,
seven hundred and fifty of which were milked
by the shepherds and shepherdesses twice, at
noon and midnight, and do not afford quite a
pint per day each ; he has also fifty-six oxen,
fifty horses, seventeen mules and ten asses,
and employs from one to two hundred persons
according to the season, but seldom has much
less than one hundred. Our landlord has
about the same amount of stock, and employs
as many people, but he has twenty-seven hun-
dred sheep ; the reason we have seen no oxen
is, that they keep them on the mountains. —
Those professing with us here, who employ-
so many people, have no small influence in
the town and neighbourhood, they are very
generous and hospitable, but in general not
quite so susceptible and tender as our friends
at Congenies. Some of the young women
wear crosses of gold ; one them said that hers
cost more than a louisdor, but she and some
others had taken them from their necks. We
had a free conference with those under our
name, about some mattei's in their dress, &c.,
which they received in love, acknowledging
their weakness. The Society here as well as
at Congenies, has been subsisting for sixty or
more years under the name of Inspirants, un-
til they became acquainted with the principles
of Friends. I believe if the Lord should put
it into the hearts of other more qualified bre-
thren or sisters to visit them, it would have



414



JOURNAL OF THE LIFE OF



both its use and reward, especially if they un-
derstood the language well. In the evening,
the meeting was attended by about forty, and
I thought it the most solid of any we had with
them. I believed it best to speak without the
assistance of an interpreter, and by attending
to my concern and proceeding deliberately, I
found myself more relieved and satisfied than
since I came into the south ; the meeting for
worship concluded in prayer by David Sands.
Louis then read some of the thoughts I had
written respecting worship, and the solemnity
in which all our meetings ought to be held;
then we had a free conference respecting the
nature and necessity of church discipline, and
parted with serious impressions.

" 5th. This forenoon, after a short time of
retirement with the family where we lodged,
and some others who came in, we parted in
much love ; naany were wailing without to
take leave of us, which they did affectionately,
but many more not being present, I felt tried
at leaving them. We went on however, ac-
companied by several of our friends, some of
whom went a mile or two on foot and ap-
peared affected at parting. Proceeded to Nis-
mes three leagues : several persons came to
offer us a conveyance to Paris, but we thought
we had better buy a carriage and take post-
horses. In Nismes, there are many curious
Roman remains of great antiquity — an Am-
phitheatre said to have been built before the
bii'th of our Saviour, capable of containing



Online LibraryWilliam EvansThe Friends' library : comprising journals, doctrinal treatises, and other writings of members of the religious Society of Friends (Volume 1) → online text (page 90 of 105)