William Evans.

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

. (page 98 of 105)
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fields, where a few Friends were busily em-
ployed in distributing about fourteen hundred
quarts of soup, which they do in about two
hours — the poor people bless the Quakers and
seem very grateful for this relief.

" 20th. Attended the appointed meeting,
which was large ; a great many had to stand
all the time — a solemnity prevailed ; and it
was made, through the heavenly Father's
love, a season long to be remembered ; the
light and airy, as well as the formal and pre-
cise professors, were tenderly spoken to ; and
the humble, upright hearted among the youth
and others, comforted. It was such a time of
cementing union and love with my brethren
and sisters in Society, as I never experienced
in England before. At the close George Dill-
wyn kneeled down, and in a lively manner
gave God the glory, which was and ever will
be his due. A considerable number expressed
a hope they should see me again in London,
and my own mind was doubtful whether it
was a final parting ; however, I believed it a
right time to leave the city at present, and
commit the future to the direction of Him,
who hath been pleased to be mercifully with
me, far beyond my deserts : — many were in
tears, and it was after nine o'clock before I
could get out of the meeting-house. I retired
to rest relieved of London, and with much
thankfulness of heart to the Father of mercies.

"23d. After having visited several Friends,
went on to Shipstone ; and being informed of
the burial of a young woman at Chipping
Norton, I felt most easy to attend it, though
several miles off. A large company were
present, so that the meeting-house was much
too small for them. I had some remarks to
communicate, and it appeared to be a favoured,
contriting season. The grave was walled up
about one foot and a half high, with brick,
and floored with the same, laid in mortar ; the
coffin was let down and covered with flat
stones, laid on the brick wall in mortar.
Went on through a part of Oxfordshire to

Evesham, a large market town in Worcester-
shire, where there are a few Friends and a
meeting. Friends here were under a good
deal of concern, as I have found in many
other places, about paying taxes declared to
be for the express purpose of carrying on the
war. I think our peaceable testimony is so
much' concerned in it, that many Friends will
find it the way to peace, to suffer, rather than
actively comply : it will no doubt be a trying
time to many, through which I hope the
standard will be held up a little higher against
the horrid practice of war, than has yet been
the case in England.

" 24th. Passed through a good country to
Bridgenorth, on the head of the Severn : most
of the town stands on a high rocky hill ; the
lower town in the vale. The rock is so soft,
that many of the poor live in chambers cut
out of it ; some families one story above an-
other. Great simplicity prevails among the
country people ; their language partaking a
little of Welch, and differing from any I have
heard in England. We rode over very high
and uneven ground, the Severn flowing below
us, and passed through the town of Brosely,
among the iron works and over the iron
bridge. This valley, for a mile or more, is
filled with iron works ; the hills are steep and
rugged, yet covered with houses, gardens, &c. ;
for the people are dependent on the works. It
has a very dark appearance, even the trees
and bushes are quite blackened with the smoke;
and in the night the fires have a teri'ific ap-
pearance. We arrived at Sunny-side, and
were received at Sarah Darby's with much
kindness. Dear Deborah Darby resides here,
and Rebecca Young was here also.

"First-day, 25th. Visited our ancient, hon-
ourable Friend, Ann Summerland, a minister
beloved, and now in her eighty-ninth year —
she leaned on my arm to the meeting-house :
many not professing with us came into the
meeting, and at the close I appointed a public
meeting for the people generally. The meet-
ing in the evening was large for the place,
and appeared to be a solid time throughout.
Mary Fletcher, widow of the late John Fletcher,
of this parish, having had a numerous meeting
in the Dale this afternoon, occasioned more
people to be at ours ; she preaches much in
various places round this neighbourhood ; bears
an excellent character for piety, both from
Friends and others, and is certainly an extra-
ordinary woman.

" 26th. Went on to Shrewsbury, where
Rebecca Young lives, and had an appointed
meeting this evening. As it was the time of
the assizes many came in, so that the house
was too small for the company ; yet the peo-
ple were very quiet and attentive, and through



the goodness of our heavenly Shepherd, it
closed to our comfort, in praises to his great
and ever worthy name. A messenger being
sent on, a meeting was appointed at Elsemere,
on the borders of Wales, sixteen miles from
Shrewsbury, which we attended the 27th. The
people not being accustomed to see Friends
often, were somewhat uncivil as we passed
through the street. The room held about
three hundred, but more were outside and
thronging to get in. On explaining to them
our reasons for appointing such meetings, and
the necessity laid upon us both to labour and
to suffer reproach, if the Lord permitted it, for
his name sake, they became quiet, and though
impatient to get in wei'e serious and still. Debo-
rah Darby had a favoured time, and I made
some addition, and Rebecca Young closed the
meeting in prayer; so through the mercy and
goodness of the Lord our helper, Truth came
into dominion, and at parting with the people,
they thanked us for our visit. An ancient
woman seemed very loving, and told Deborah
Darby there had never been a meeting of
Friends in the town since her remembrance,
and that she was thankful for this.

" Went to Wrexham on the 28th, and held
an appointed meeting at eleven o'clock ; and
it being fair-time, which continues a week, the
inn and streets were crowded : the manufac-
turers from Manchester and Birmingham, were
here to get orders for goods, and the Irish
traders with linen, so that it looked like an
unfavourable time for a meeting : about one
hundred and fifty came in, but seemed rather
restless ; and the waiter of the inn frequently
called one or other out to some who had
business. Deborah Darby spoke, and for a
time they were pretty still, yet several were
moving out and in ; a considerable part of the
company being such who had come out of the
country to the fair, and probably had never
seen a Friends' meeting before. I having
something to offer, and speaking pretty loud,
many came up from below stairs ; and though
there was still much unsettlement, yet a num-
ber were solid and quiet to the end ; it closed
in prayer, and on parting with the more seri-
ous class, they lamented that the meeting had
not been at another time, when we should
have had a large company and the people
more settled. Went on for Liverpool, and
travelled through a pretty country to Chester,
where we arrived after much detention, about
nine o'clock at night.

" 29th. Attended their meeting — my mind
to-day much exercised about right direction,
when and how to move towards my dear
home, desiring to be released as soon as the
Lord may please to make way for it in peace.

" Fourth month 1st. Went out to Bicker-

staff, which had once been as large as most
country meetings ; but for seven years past
no members have resided there, except two
old people ; the house is the most antique and
simple of any I have seen, and was nearly
filled with plain, honest looking country peo-
ple, chiefly farmers and labourers from the
neighbourhood, who were still ; many were
tender, especially some of the most aged,
and I trust the good Shepherd was with us.
Friends havincr obtained leave for a meeting at
three o clock in the Town Hall of Ormskirk,
we proceeded thither ; but found that some
prejudiced people had been influencing the ma-
gistrate who gave leave, to countermand it.
He said, that upon consideration, he did not
think such meetings ought to be encouraged,
especially on the sabbath day, when every
person ought to be at their own place of wor-
ship ; and he therefore ordered the constable
to stand at the door and suffer no one to go in.
The place had been seated and the notices
spread in the town. I felt calm, expecting the
people would not all be pleased with the order.
It appeared that a person, by the initials sup-
posed to be one of the new lights from Ireland,
had been there some weeks past, and said
something that offended the minds of many,
and the people behaved rudely. I was con-
cerned how it might end ; thinking if any
prejudices had got in, and we were obstinately
refused a meeting, I must endeavour to vindi-
cate our principles and testimony, either out
of the windows of the inn or in the market
place. I ate but little at dinner, and before
three o'clock a servant came to inform us
from the constable, we might hold our meeting
at four o'clock, when the public worship would
be over. Some of the young men stood at the
Hall door, and also pasted up a paper, inform-
ing that the meeting was postponed till four
o'clock ; at which time we went — the consta-
ble having just opened the door, vast numbers
were crowding up stairs, and they came in
until no more could either stand or sit: it was
supposed about five hundred persons were
there, some of them the most respectable peo-
ple of the town, who sat near us ; but it was
very evident they came with prejudiced minds
in a general way, and expected to have some-
thing to ridicule. It is certainly a very im-
portant engagement, and fraught with serious
consequences, to attempt to hold such meet-
ings and to leave them so as to shut up the
way of those who may come after; which in-
deed is injuring the cause we profess to pro-
mote. Believing it right to stand up and ex-
press a text of Scripture, many began to
smile, and I had not been in such a meeting
for a long time ; yet feeling my strength in-
crease as I proceeded, and the heavenly Shep-



herd near, the people di'opped their counte-
nances and became serious — many at length
were much affected ; and towards the close,
which was under a feeling of reverent thank-
fulness to the Lord our helper, an evidence
was granted, that the holy Truth was as able
as formerly to chain down light spirits and
put to silence the scorner. Returned to Liver-
pool. Several vessels going for Amei'ica, I am
tried with daily anxiety about home, in a
manner I have not experienced since I left it,
and my mind much exercised that I might
know the will of God and do it, whether to
go from England at present or tarry a little

" First-day, fourth month 8th. At meeting
my mind was opened in an unusual manner,
and I felt comforted in believing the gracious
Helper of the poor was near and his presence
with us. Appointed a public meeting for this
evening, which was large, their commodious
house being filled, and it was said that many of
the first rank in the town were present. The
call of the Lord's people out of Babylon was
opened ; showing that Babylon signifies con-
fusion, and that all priestcraft and false foun-
dations, laid by human wisdom and authority,
in establishing systems and modes of worship,
not proceeding from Divine wisdom, were in
the confusion, as well as the civil policy that
involved nations in cruel and destructive wars,
and permitted men to ravage foreign countries
and carry their inhabitants into the most in-
human hands of slave-masters. The meet-
ing was still and attentive, and much so-
lemnity reigned, for which, impressed with
a sense of the mercy and goodness of God in
thus favouring us, the meeting closed in prayer
and praises — retired to bed with thankfulness
to the Author of every blessing for support
through the day.

" 10th. Having attended Hardshaw Monthly
Meeting, in which the business appeared to be
well conducted, I returned to Liverpool. The
roads were dusty and the people diverting
themselves in the fields with dancing and other
sports, which they call ' folly fair,' a proper
name for such vanity. Low in mind, not
seeing how to move for the best as respects
my leaving this country. My natural feelings
are strongly drawn towards home, but no light
seems to shine upon it ; and I never had more
need to ask for patience than at present.

"14th. Went for Lancaster: — the land
through this part of the country appears to be
but an indifferent soil; the farms, hedges, &c.,
not in that neatness which is apparent in many
other places in England.

"First-day, 15th. Attended their meeting
and appointed one for other professors in the
evening, which was crowded. I was consid-

erably enlarged in communication, respecting
the righteous of former ages, both under the
law and the Gospel, and the manner in which
they obtained confidence in God ; and that
the same means would produce the like effect
now, both to individuals and nations : the
people were quiet, remarkably attentive, and
thi'ough holy condescension it was a favoured
opportunity — the praise of all was solemnly
rendered unto Him who is forever worthy.

" 16th. Got on to Liverpool, and on the
17th was at the meeting of ministers and
elders, and it appeared to be a pi'ofitable
season. At the Quarterly Meeting for Disci-
pline, the subject of paying taxes for the sup-
port of war was considered, and it appeared
that many Friends were much straitened in
their minds about the practice, in most of the
Quarters in the nation.

" 18th. The meeting this afternoon was
large ; it was thought there were two thou-
sand people present : some doctrinal subjects
were opened by William Jephson, in a re-
markably clear and convincing manner, and
it was a favoured time ; ending in prayer and
praises unto God, who helped and strengthened
us. Many of the people expected another
meeting, and seemed loth to depart.

" 20th. A ship is to sail in two days for
Philadelphia, and my mind is much exercised,
not feeling hberty to return to America. A
public meeting this evening was large, at which
were Deborah Darby, Rebecca Young, and
Charity Cook : the Lord in great mercy owned
us, and favoured with a renewed eating and
drinking together as in his presence, where
his banner over us was love ; in which I be-
lieve many not professing with us partook,
and parted in great sweetness.

" 21st. Went on for Chester, and on first-
day, the 22nd, had a public meeting there —
the house filled — Deborah Darby had an open
favoured time ; the people were solid and a
number expressed their thankfulness, wishing
for another meeting ; but one having been ap-
pointed at Wrexham, twelve miles off in
Wales, for this evening, we left Chester ;
passed through a pleasant, well cultivated
country to that town. Held the meeting in a
large room, supposed to contciin six hundred,
but it was much too small ; and that and a
room adjoining were crowded to such a degree,
that it became very warm, so that some were
ready to faint; yet the people seemed inclined
to be still. After speaking some time, num-
bers pushing to get in caused uneasiness and
unscttlemcnt, and I then proposed, that if an-
other place could be immediately obtained, we
had better proceed thither. A respectable
looking man said, the Lidepcndcnt meeting
was at our service, if we chose to go there ;



but dear Deborah Dai'by not being willing to
go into a place of worship of another so-
ciety, stood up and spoke to the people, which
had a good effect. The crowd however was
too great to continue, and we broke up the meet-
ing, and appointed another at ten o'clock in
the forenoon, at the same place. The people
seemed sorry it could not be continued, as
many of them were poor and could not well
attend on a working day.

"23d. The meeting being accordingly held,
about eight hundred attended, and it proved a
satisfactory time, to the refreshment and com-
fort of many ; much tenderness being appa-
rent, the people were full of expressions of
their satisfaction, and many asked for books,
which we had not to give them, but promised
to send them some. Wrexham is one of the
largest towns in Wales, and may contain
eight or ten thousand inhabitants.

" Proceeded to Oswestry, a considerable
town, about sixteen miles distant ; and passed
through many pleasant vales, &c. A large
room being prepared for a meeting, it was
supposed seven hundred persons were present ;
and after considerable communication we part-
ed with the people in much tenderness — many
acknowledging the Truth and asking for books.

" 24th. Going towards Welchpooi, we found
the roads very much cut and hilly ; the valleys
were beautiful, and many barren mountains
were in view — the farm houses generally small,
and the dress of the people rather mean. Se-
veral Friends from Colebrookdale having joined
us, we held a meeting in the evening at our inn ;
but it was an hour before more than forty per-
sons came — two Friends spoke ; after which,
feeling an engagement to speak, and my voice
being heard at a distance, the people crowded
up stairs and filled both rooms ; they were
quiet and attentive— a few persons who had
been drinking too freely were unsettled, yet
the meeting ended well, and we appointed an-
other for to-morrow evening.

" 25th. Attended the meeting of ministers
and elders this morning, which was small
but solid; the poor Welch Friends were much
affected with the smallness of their number
and with their weakness, t The meeting for
Discipline, which is held only twice a year in
Wales, and is similar to a Quarterly Meeting,
consisted of about thirty-two men of their own
members, sixteen of them Welch, and as many
from Shi'opshire. I felt very low about the
meeting to be held this evening. Friends say-
ing the people have never been very free in
coming to them. Deborah Darby and Rebecca
Young being much wearied, excused them-
selves from attending. The Town-house had
been obtained, and it was soon filled, and a
large number stood in the street, but so situa-
VoL. I.— No. 12.

ted as to be able to hear ; they were still both
within doors and without, and many were
much tendered : the opportunity ended in
prayer, and Friends thought that, through Di-
vine favour, it was the most solid meeting they
had known in that town.

" 26th. Attended the meeting for Disci-
pline, and went into the women's meeting
with my certificates, where I had an open,
tendering time, and dear Deborah Darby ap-
peared in prayer in a solemn and comforting
manner. A person who lived at Montgomery-
shire, eight miles off, requesting Friends to hold
a meeting there, and Deborah Darby and Re-
becca Young having wished to have one there
a few months back, which the parson pre-
vented, they now thought it right to go; and
believing it requii'ed of me to go another way,
though much in the cross, I took an affection-
ate leave of them, in order to proceed to Dublin
Yearly Meeting. Passed through a mountain-
ous country, having very little appearance of
wealth or luxury; the inhabitants spoke little
else among themselves but Welch, and many
of them speak English with difficulty ; they
look like a healthy, hardy race — the women
almost universally wear hats like men, and
work much in the fields and barn. The in-
habitants seemed to live in humble style, and
to be much unacquainted with the fashionable
world. Giving our coachmen, at different
stages, a little extra pay to get us on as fast
as they could, to Holyhead, we arrived there
the 27th at night, and found a packet just hoist-
ing sail and the passengers going on board.
They allowed us a quarter of an hour to procure
provisions for the voyage; so that if we had been
half an hour later, we should have missed our
passage. There were only three passengers
besides ourselves, and a good sloop, in which
we were well accommodated. On the morn-
ing of the 28th, we plainly discovered the
mountains of Wicklow — and the captain, A.
Savory and myself, being the only persons
who had lain in provisions, it was all brought
upon deck, the others joined in our repast, and
we all eat very heartily.

" 29th. When about two miles from the
Dublin light-house, a boat came to take the
passengers on shore ; at such ports many
are seeking to empty the pockets of travel-
lers. We breakfasted at a miserably dirty,
though large hotel, showing us at once that
we were out of England. Went to IMeath
street meeting-house, where Friends were as-
sembled — the widow Usher of Waterford,
spoke a few words in prayer, and Friends
seemed glad to see me come into the meeting.
Appointed a public meeting at six o'clock in
the evening, which was, through the re-
newing of our heavenly Master's favour, an



open, satisfactory time, and the praise was
returned to Him who alone is worthy.

" 30th. Second-day ; the Meeting for Dis-
cipline was held, and much solemnity was
apparent at the opening. Leinster province
meeting contains almost as many Friends as
Ulster and Monster, and there is only one
small meeting in Connaught. In considering
the reports from the different meetings, the
subject of reading the Scriptures took up the
attention of Friends. Some of the accounts
being deficient, Friends could not easily get
over it, but were not sufficiently clear and ex-
plicit in mentioning their painful apprehen-
sions, and were about to pass it by. I pressed
their closer attention to it, but some were for
going on, though many minds were oppressed,
knowing the pernicious sentiments that had
obtained, even among some members in high
stations. I now saw in part what brought
me to Ireland again. I urged it again, when
Friends spoke their minds freely, and it ap-
peared that a number in different parts of the
nation, were in a disposition to lay waste in
great measure the Holy Scriptures, disputed
the Divinity of Christ, and were not united
with the present ministry or discipline of our
religious Society, but yet professed to exalt
the Divine Light and immediate revelation
very highly. After several hours spent on
the subject, a large committee was appoint-
ed to take the matter into consideration, and
join with the women Friends in bringing
in a report. David Sands and myself were
requested to sit with them. Went to my
lodgings fatigued, but convinced that it was
my duty to attend this meeting.

" Fifth month 1st. The meeting of ministers
and elders was exercised on the same painful
subject as the Meeting for Discipline; some
of the disaffected were present ; several active
members, and one elder of Dublin sat with
their hats on while David Sands was in sup-

" 2nd. The committee of men and women
Friends, respecting the Scriptures of Truth
met, and also a number of concerned Friends
both men and women : several Friends said they
knew members, who not only openly allowed
their disbelief and disregard of a great part
of the Holy Scriptures, but who also denied
the Divinity of Christ, and many things re-
corded concerning him — and pretended that
they were so illuminated as to have no occa-
sion for books or outward helps — some of
these they believed had come into the com-
mittee, who might speak for themselves. I
urged such who were dissatisfied with the
doctrines of Friends in these respects, to be
candid and open, that we might discover what
their sentiments were, observing that no honest

man ought to hold sentiments he was ashamed
of. I told them it was well to take one thing
at a time, and to read the head of the chapter
on the Holy Scriptures in Robert Barclay, and
if Abraham Shackleton or any other, who I
supposed to be the cause of uneasiness, had
anything to object, I hoped they would stand

forth. On its being read, J. B y said he

agreed to the proposition that Barclay had
laid down, but there were several parts of the
Scriptures he could neither call holy nor re-
quire his children to read — he would not go
so far as to deny the authenticity of them
in general. Abraham Shackleton agreed in
words at least, but was for mutilating the
Scriptures, saying that many parts were un-
profitable, and some things derogatory to the
Divine Being — there were five books, he ob-
served, between Genesis and Job, but did not
say whichi that he could very well spare, and
some other parts of both the Old and New
Testaments — he did not deny that Jesus Christ

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 98 of 105)