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William Evans.

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We lodged at a Friend's house at the foot of
Vinegar Hill, where such numbers of lives
were lost ; and the Friend had been taken up
the hill by the insurgents, after having taken
leave of his wife and family, expecting to be
shot : but they were not permitted to do him
any personal injury. We went from thence
to Ballintore, to Cooladine and Forrest, where
Friends had sufiered very greatly in their
property, and had expected to lose their lives.
At one Friend's house at Forrest, about eight
men came with full purpose to murder, as
was believed, and they queried one of ano«
ther why they did not begin, saying, what did
they come for. But as the Friend and the
family were with them in the kitchen, such a
calm came over them that it was like a so-
lemn meeting, so that the men seemed to be
chained by a power that they could not ac-
count (or, and went away without doing the
family any personal injury. Many women
were waiting in the court ; ready, as was be-
lieved, to plunder when the men had murdered.
These women seemed much disappointed at
loosing the booty.

" Many other affecting accounts we had in
passing from place to place through the coun-
ty of Wexford. In one place we passed near
a barn in which one hundred and seventy pro*
testants were burned alive ; and we saw hun-
dreds of houses in ruins in passing along.
Though the accounts in England were aflect-
iDg, (Youghal, 23d) I think they did not by
far come up to what we have heard from
Friends here. The last place we were at in
the county of Wexford was Ross, where the
wonderful interposition of Providence was
such, that General Johnson, who was chief
in command, said, as I was infohned, that
that day's work must not be attributed to
man, but to the Almighty. Ross is about
eight miles from Waterford.

" Before I drop this moving subject, it seems
riffht to mention the wonderful protecting arm
of the Most High round the members of our
Society, so that none, except one who left the
house and fled to arms for protection, lost their
lives in these violent commotions; though
many other innocent Protestants were cruelly
murdered. I have repeatedly had to say, that
the singular protection of Providence ought to
be written as with a pen of iron, and with the
point of a diamond on the hearts of Friends,
never to be erased.

" Our kind friend Robert Fowler [her towns-
man, who had gone over with her] accompa-
nied us, through the county of Wexford to
Waterford, wlrare he left us ; and where we
staid nearly two weeks, and made many calls,
like visiting families, as far as it went. The



next place was Clonmel, where we staid about
a week, and were employed in a like manner,
though not in a regular one. The next place
was the meeting at Garryrone, and so to
Youghal, where we staid six days, and were
not wholly idle. The next place was Cork,
where a partial visit would not be accepted ;
and though the prospect was deeply affecting,
yet as it appeared the way to peace, we en-
tered on the arduous service in humble fear,
and went through about eighty vibits ; but the
Quarterly Meeting for Munster coming on, to
be held at Youghal, it seemed right to attend
it, and we have left the rest of the families
until our return.

''Being now at Youghal and the Quar-
terly Meeting over, I think we may thank-
fully say, that the Master graciously conde-
scended to own, with his good presence, in
this day of danger and dismay. The chil-
dren's safety depends, on all occasions, on
their going down to the valley and choosing
the smooth stones for their slings, and then
waiting for holy direction and power to con-
vey them. O, may I be preserved through
the perilous day in this land, and every future
day of my life, if many days arc allotted me
by Divine Wisdom; though that does not
seem very likely, for my frame seems con-
siderably shaken since I came into this land."

The following extract of a letter written on
the way from Cork to Limerick, and at the
latter place, gives an account of the comple-
tion of the family visit, and of her final fare-
well to the Friends of Cork.

*• Csstlebonk, 9th of £ighth numtfa, 1799.

" My beloved cousin,

" I now sit down to salute you by a line
after the close of an arduous visit to the fami-
lies at Cork, which was much extended by
taking in all who attended our meetings, whe-
ther in membership or not.

'* We have been closely engaged, and
through the renewed daily help of the Shep-
herd of Israel, were enabled to finish, the
evening before the last; and yesterday at-
tended their meeting, in which we had to take
a sweet and solemn leave."

After some further narration not material
to insert, she adds, " may all within us bless .
his holy name, thankfully acknowledging that
hitherto the Lord hath helped us ; and hum-
bly beg that he will be pleased to continue near
to preserve us, and direct all our movements,
that so they may meet with holy acceptance,
and our spirits be favoured with that peace,
which the world can neither give nor take
away.

<< Limerick, 11th. We were favoured to get



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304



LIFE OF SARAH STEPHENSON.



here on seventh-day evening safely, though a
good deal fatigued. ' Yesterday we attended
both the meetings, and to-morrow is the Month-
ly Meeting, afler which, I apprehend, we shall
not find ourselves excused without sitting in
the families, which is fresh cause of al^ise-
ment and reduction to the natural will, that
so much desires to look towards a release, in
order again to meet our beloved friends in our
native land. But as we came not in our own
wills, but I humbly trust, in the Master's, may
it be done in and by us through time ; and
then, the various cups assigned us being drunk
(which at times may seem mingled very bitter,)
we may hope that adorable mercy will permit
our spirits to rest for ever with him, in his
blessed kingdom, where no alloy is known.
This will be an ample reward for every sea-
son of conflict."

The following breathes the true language of
consolation, and shows that a mind closely
engaged in fulfilling its own share of religious
duty, is still open to sympathy for the distress
ses of others; its insertion may please and
benefit the reader.

" Rathfriland, 19Ui of Eleventh month, 1799.
<'I find it a task to address my beloved
cousin, afler an event that so nearly affects
her, and in which I am a large sharer. But
resignation to the Divine will is our duty,
under the consoling evidence, that my be-
loved friend and relation is taken from a
scene of pain and trial, to a place in that
glorious kingdom where no alloy is known,
ft>r ever to rest with him whose glory the
heaven of heavens cannot contain. These
considerations forbid [us] to mourn ; though
to feel when such tender ties are broken, I
trust, is not displeasing to him who wept over
Lazarus, especially when [we are] enabled
reverently to say, thy will, O gracious Fa-
ther, be done. May these dispensations of
unerring wisdom, be a means of more closely
uniting our spirits to Him, who is the way,
the truth, and the life ; that so we may more
feelingly know that our 'Redeemer liveth:'
and that because he liveth we live. May I
think nothing hard that my gracious God may
be pleased to order for me in this wilderness
and vale of tears, that so, when my measure
of suffering is filled up, my exercised spirit
may rest with Him who has been near in six
troubles, and I humbly hope will not leave in
the seventh ; and may his ever blessed arm of
help and tender succour be near, for thy pre-
servation and support."

The remaining extracts are from letters to
Joseph Storrs. They conduct the reader
through much of the remainder of the jour-
ney, and show the state of her devoted mind



at its close, when safely returned to her own
habitation. The letter which first occurs has
several dates. It was begun in Ulster pro-
vince, and finished at Dublin.

''My dear cousin's truly acceptable lines
have lain much longer unanswered than has
felt easy to me; but the frequent and deep
baptisms that have been my portion in this
land and particularly in this province [Uls-
ter] have rendered my mind unfit for salut-
ing my beloved friends in a manner that I
would desire to do ; though I think they were
never more dear to me than since leaving my
native land. I desire not to utter the lan-
guage of complaint with regard to my su^r-
ings ; but for the cause, and them that make
it suffer, I mourn. I desire I may patiently
drink what further cups may be assigned to
me, and be willing to sufifer with the Seed,
which is indeed sorely oppressed. But under
all, my dear cousin, the Good Shepherd has
been pleased to be mercifully near, to enable
in a good degree to discharge what has ap-
peared to be required duty ; though my pass-
ing along has been as under the mountains,
and fears have at times so taken hold of my
poor mind, as to doubt of living through : and
indeed my frame is weakened considerably
since being here ; but with this I am not dis-
mayed, if the best life is but preserved. The
Quarterly Meeting for Ulster is coming on,
afler which I hope we may soon feel a release
from this province, and go to Dublin^ which
is in the province of Leinster, where are four
meetings un visited. I hope we may look to-
wards our own dear land, with a belief that
we have endeavoured to do what we could,
and if it be the blessed Master's will to bring
us over the great deep in safety, that all with-
in us will be enabled to bless his holy name.
But I dare not build upon, or much please
myself with, the hope of a speedy release,
though not without a little or faint expectation
of it.

" My beloved cousins, you are near to roe,
and I do believe I am favoured to have a
place in your remembrance with desires for
my preservation every way. May the God
of all grace be with you and yours, and with
us poor pilgrims; and if he see meet to &-
vour us to meet in mutability, I humbly hape
it will be with thanksgiving and praise to his
holy name.

"Dear Charitjr Cook [of South Carolina] is
confined here with the small pox. They have
been out three days, and not a large harden,
and at present no unfavourable symptoms ap-
pear.

" Stranmore, 39th of eleventh month, ^ve
miles from Lurgan, where we intended to go
to-morrow, to attend the Qaarterly Meeting.—



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LIFE OP SARAH STEPHENSON.



205



We are returned from the Quarterly Meeting
and found dear Charity very ill, the doctor
doubting her getting over that night, but yes-
terday and to-day the disorder seems more
favourable.

"6th of twelfth month. The attendance
of the Quarterly Meeting, with some other
meetings there, was closely exercising; but
I tnist we were in our right places, as on my
return I feU peacefulness ; and as to great
things I do not expect them, being one of the
little ones, but desire to be faithful to what the
Master may be pleased to require, though
through very deep baptisms, which indeed has
been the case in the attendance of this Quar-
terly Meeting.

<' Dublin, 11th of twelfth month, 1799.
We got here last evening much fatigued.
We left Charity Cook with the appearance of
a favourable recovery."

« EniiMOordiy, 4th of Fourth month, 1800.
^< The cause of my not writing arose from
a hope of a more speedy release from, this
land; and though the detention has been long,
and much increased by the large field of la-
bour in Dublin, yet I dare not question the
propriety of it; as I had painfully to taste
what the consequence of omission would have
been. The service was very arduous, extend-
ing to comers to meeting, and disowned per-
sons, so that with these and the members we
had more than two hundred and thirty sit-
tings; which were not finished before sixth-
day week in the evening ; and we left Dublin
next naming for the county of Wicklow,
where we had not been. There are but few
of our Society. We are now in the county
of Wexford, on a family visit at Enniscorthy.
I had a view of it when we were here before,
but that did not seem to be the time. I ex-
pect we shall get through this, and I hope
some other little service, so as to get up to
Dublin, to the Yearly Meeting ; after which I
humbly hope and expect we shall set our
(aces homewards, which is truly desirable;
but above all things that He who hath mer-
cifully been with us hitherto, will be pleased
to continue with us to the end of our labours
here, and accompany us with his good pre-
sence to our native land ; that his preserving
power may keep us to the end of our pil-
grimage, and that when time ends, our spirits
may for ever rest, in joyful peace and holy
oonsolatioD.

'* My beloved cousins, if in the ordering of
best wisdom, we should meet in mutability, it
seems very desirable ; but at times I foel an
increasing desire for a greater degree of re-
signation of my own will, that the great Mas-
ter's will may be more perfectly done in and



by me. I feel little ability for writing ; but
on looking over our travels in this land, which
seem now to be winding up, and how our gra-
cious holy Helper has been near to preserve
and give ability to perform what little services
he was pleased to require of me, it humbles
all within me, and leads reverently to bless
his holy name : breathing in humble fear at
the footstool of his awful Majesty, this lan-
guage, I am but an unprofitable servant.
Farewell my beloved relations. May the God
of all grace be wi^ and keep you and us
while on earth, and cause us to meet again
in uninterrupted peace, joy, and holy conso-
lation, is the humble breathing of your nearly
afiectionate, exercised cousin,

**Sabah Stefhxnson.''

The following was written from Melksham
in the fifth month.

**I have thankfully to commemorate the
goodness of adorable mercy, in carrying us
through so arduous a journey, I hope safely
in all respects ; and have now to look back
with a peaceful evidence of having been in
the line of required duty. But though I trust
this is the case, I know I am one of the weak-
lings of the flock, and have nothing whereof
to boast. And indeed I have often wondered
that such an one as I, should be called forth ;
and when I look around, and see many whose
abilities are so great, it sinks my mind into ad-
miration of condescending goodness to make
use of me. May I, during the few fleeting
days that are yet behind, be enabled so to
steer, that my poor little bark may arrive at
the haven of rest." •

The materials collected afford nothing for
the remainder of the year, but the following :

"28th of the eighth month, 1800. This
morning sweetly refreshed with the precious
streams of pure consoling love, strengthening
and encouraging my drooping, exercised mind,
to an increasing trust in that mercy and power
that hath in many seasons borne up my head,
when the waves of deep baptism and sore con-
flict seemed ready to overwhelm, and made
way amidst opposing spirits, that seemed ready
to defy the armies of Israel's God."

As the reader is now advancing towards an
end of the relation of the various exercises of
this dedicated Friend, in her native land, the
following paper, found without a date, may in
this place engage his perusal with accept-
ance.

"I went to the funeral of a beautiful young
plant in a neighbouring county. She was
about eighteen years- of age. My mind was
much impmsed in the meeting with this lan-
guage, * Blessed are the dead that die in the



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206



LIFE OF SARAH STEPHENSON.



Lord,' &c., and with it I stood up. Life mer-
cifully attended, to the tendering of many
minds, and to the peace of my own. I felt
a desire to stop a few days with the family,
and had some satisfactory opportunities. On
first-day, I felt some movings on my mind
to be at a meeting a few miles distant ; and
the father and one of the sisters of the de-
ceased accompanied me. As I rode along my
mind was drawn into an abstracted state, so
that I felt an entire detachment from visibles,
and as though I had no connections on earth ;
and I was much absorbed in Divine love, in
which my spirit humbly rejoiced. Under
these heavenly feelings, I rode a considerable
way ; but of this sweet enjoyment, I felt an
abatement, and was gradually centered in a
state of great poverty, in which I went to
meeting. And as I sat, though in great weak-
ness, the state of the meeting was opened be-
fore me, and I had to see the states of many
individuals; but for a considerable time felt
no commission to move, until a Friend, who
did not belong to that meeting, appeared. I
then felt the movings of life, and when he sat
^own, it seemed my place to stand up ; and
utterance was given, and the baptizing power
of Truth was felt, to the melting of many
spirits present; and to the great abasement
of my own before Him, to whom belongs all
praise, thanksgiving and honour, who is for
ever worthy."

CHAPTER IX.

Visit to America — letters — leaves home — enHHtrks
— the voyage — New York— family visit there
— yeUow fever — Long Island — various services
— quits New York— journey to Philadelphia —
family visit in Pine Street meeting — laid up —
goes to Germantown — soon returns to the city —
cor\fined to the chamber — visit of Mehetabel
Jenkins — state of mind, and expressions near
the dose— her decease — abstract of a testimony,
4^. — conclusion.

We are now drawing towards the last tra-
vels of this indefatigable labourer. We have
seen the early arisings in her heart of Divine
love. We have remarked its increase, and
have had occasion to observe how she became
willing to be the instrument of conveying to
others some portion of that bread, on which
she delighted to feed. In pursuit of this ob-
ject, and at the call of duty, we have beheld
her travelling in every district of these nations
where Friends are settled. In proportion to
the interest which we have taken in> the nar-
ration, we may be said to have been the wit-
nesses of her conflicts, and almost to have
partaken in her baptisms. But neither her



cup of suffering nor of consolation was by
these completely filled. A prospect of further
service had been long opening on her view ;
and when the right time for engaging in
the labour appeared to have arriv^, she did
not suffer her feeble heahh, already impaired
by past exercises, to operate as an insur-
mountable discouragement. She had often
been strengthened by faith ; and she was pre-
pared to follow her beloved Lord, either to life
or death.

In the second month, 1801, in a very
weighty manner, she laid before her Monthly
Meeting, her concern to visit Friends on the
continent of North America : her feelings on
which occasion cannot, probably, be better
conveyed to the reader than by the follow-
ing extract of a letter to her relation, Joseph
Storrs.

•* Melkdiam, 4th of Third month, 1801.

'< I have been confined to my chamber about
a month, with a complaint, I believe, much
owing to deep exercise of mind ; and the first
time of my getting to meeting was at our last
Monthly Meeting, though under great weak-
ness of body, and heavy exercise of mind.
But, being reduced to obedience, I was ena-
bled to lay before our Friends, a prospect
which had for many years attended my mind.
My dear cousin, it is nothing less than to go
to America. I have admired that such a poor
creature should be called to service of such
magnitude : and so at times let in an appre-
hension that Friends would think me quite un-
fit; and then, I should be excused on that
ground. But as the concern was spread be-
fore them, the meeting seemed dipped into
great sympathy; and, I believe, under Divine
influence, the language of encouragement was
handed in a tender aflecting manner. So at
home there seems no obstruction ; and if at
London there should be none, and my health
permit, it is likely we shall soon prepare to em-
bark. I say we, because my dear cousin
Mary Jefferys felt herself so bound to the ser-
vice, that she believed she should forfeit her
peace if she did not give up to it ; of which,
in a solemn manner she informed Friends at
the same time; ^hich was, I believe, very
cordially united with.

'*Thou and my dear cousin Mary have
tenderly felt with me under various exercises,
and I now claim it afresh in a particular
manner; with your prayers for preservation
in everyway: being indeed a poor creature,
but very desirous of being preserved from
bringing any shade on the blessed Truth,
whatever becomes of this poor body.

'' I remain thy truly affectionate, exercised
cousin, Sarah Stsfrbitsoh."



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LIFE OF SARAH STEPHENSON.



207



To the foregoing, the succeeding extract of
a letter to the same Friend, is a suitable appen-
dix. It further demonstrates the tenour of her
mind ; and leads through another step of the
precaution enjoined by our discipline, as a pre-
liminary to travels on religious service in for-
eign parts.

**Melk8ham, 11th of Fourth month, 1801.

" Your tender sympathy under the baptiz-
ing power of Truth, hath bowed my spirit
under a sense of my un worthiness; and raised
thankfulness for the near unity of my dear
friends, in this awful prospect. May every
future step of my life (a poor- worm,; be or-
dered in the pure fear of Him who has a right
to make use of the weak of this world, that
so the continuation of this precious unity may
be mercifully granted, to the close of my days,
whether they be many or few. For, oh I the
unity of the brethren is to me exceedingly
precious; and even with this blessing, under
the many conflicts and sore baptisms, in the
course of my little experience in journeys, my
faith hath oflen been tried, as to an hair's
breadth ; and I do not expect an easier path ;
but how must it be without the unity and
sympathy of Zion's faithful travellers 1

" Our Quarterly Meeting was held here
last week, when, to my humbling admiration,
a current spread of tender sympathy, and as
Friends expressed, of unity.

" I remain, &c.
"Sarah Stephenson."

After this our friend attended the Yearly
Meeting. In the meeting of ministers and
elders, she opened her view of visiting the
American continent with much weightiness of
spirit, and obtained its concurrence and a cer-
tificate. Her services in the sittings of the
women's meeting, and the humility which ap-
peared to clothe her mind, are said to have
been very edifying. She promoted and as-
sisted in the writing of an epistle from that
meeting, thus, as she expressed it, relieving
herself of a little debt which she seemed to
owe to her sisters in this land, before she left
them, and as it proved, finally.

Having now obtained the full concurrence
of all the meetings which are appointed to
watch oyer concerns of a nature so important,
she returned home to Melksham, which town
or its neighbourhood had been her residence,
when she could be said to have a home, for
nearly thirty years. But she soon left it
again, and went to Bristol, her port of em-
barkation, in the latter part of the sixth
month, accompanied by her justly dear friend,
relation and companion, Mary Jefierys^ jun.,
who was also furnished with certificates of the



full unity of Friends. About an hour before
she went from home, being in her chamber,
having only with her one of the sisters of her
companion, who was much affected with the
probability of a long separation, she said to
her, " I feel nothing more to do here. If I
staid with you, I should be no comfort to
you :" and observed that the crown was at the
end of the race.

Let us now attend to her own narration,
which she has left nearly in the following
words :

" The 8th of the^ seventh month, 1801, we
went on board the ship Uncle Toby, Elihu
Doty, captain, lying at Pill, near Bristol. We
staid two nights, but the wind being contrary,
we came on shore the 10th to a Friend's
house about two miles distant, where we also
staid two nights, and then were called up
early, the wind being tolerably fair, though
the weather was unsettled. The captain being
very anxious to get out, set sail ; but in a few
hours we had a head wind and a very rough
sea, so that I apprehend we were in con-
siderable danger. On seventh-day night I
was very ill, not able to undress, but got into
my berth. On first-day morning the pilot
thought it best to run back from the Holmes
to King-road, which we reached by noon, and
then anchored. About three o'clock, I was
helped out of my berth, and about five, we



Online LibraryWilliam EvansThe Friends' library: comprising journals, doctrinal treatieses, & other writings of members of the religious Society of Freinds → online text (page 45 of 104)