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Smith, Amanda
An autobiograpy



I left Sierra Leone in November, 1890. I was so miserable that I only gave myself three weeks to live; I thought I might possibly drag along about that length of time.

I did not go to any of my friends in Liverpool, or Southport, as they wanted I should do. I was so tired, and weak, and I thought of the care and anxiety I would be to them, and then the extra work for the servants--all this I thought of--though I never saw better principled servants in my life, than in England.

I suppose there is not a lady in England who would think of consulting her servants as to whether she should entertain a colored person in her home; I do not believe there was ever such a thing heard of in England. But such a thing in America would not be considered out of place. I have met the like more than once.

I was at a good lady's house in Philadelphia, not long since; she was very kind to me, and wanted to ask me to stay for tea, but did not dare to do so, on account of an old servant who would have been vexed if she had had to serve a colored woman, whom the lady herself had asked to sit at her table. It was night, and I only had to ride two and a half hours, from Philadelphia to Newark, my home, and I got my own supper, thank the Lord.

Well, I had no fears of this kind in England. But I felt that I wanted to be quiet, and simply let alone. I had it in my mind all clear as to what I would do with little Bob.

While on the steamer I had my first attack of "la grippe." I had not neard of it in Africa; it had not got there then; so that I did not know really what had happened to me. But the good

doctor on the steamer seemed to understand how to manage it, and with little things I knew to do for myself, I got relief in a few days. Then it seemed to turn again; and, oh! the pain I suffered. I told the Lord not to let me die and be buried at sea.

I had seen poor Mrs. Beede, when on my way from Old Calabar, buried at sea. And I knew all that would have to be done, and I shrank from it. I said, "Oh! Lord, if Thou wilt only give me strength to get to Liverpool, I will not trouble Thee any more."

For I was so tired of holding on, and trying to keep up; and for three weeks after I got to Liverpool I did not pray. It seemed to me the Lord had done all I asked Him, and now all I had to do was the little I could do for myself, and just wait and see what next the Lord would do.

I calmly looked over all my mind, and my work in Africa. I felt that while there was so much to be done, and I had only done a little, yet that I had God's approval that I had done all I could. I went to Africa at His bidding, and did not leave till I was sure I had His sanction. So I felt, if I were to die, my conscience was clear before my God. I had worked willingly, and suffered cheerfully, in the work, for His sake. And there was not a shadow between my soul and God, and I felt I had nothing to ask.

We got into Liverpool on Friday night. The stewardess said I could have lodgings with her. So she took me to her house. All night I suffered. On Saturday morning I felt a little rested; but the pains troubled me very much; so, as the evening drew near, I sent out and got some medicine, and thought I would go to bed early. But just about eight o'clock, my dear friend, Mrs. Stavely (whom I had written to say I had got in, but did not expect to see before Monday), and her husband came in. Dear souls, how very kind they were. They were delighted to see me, and said they thought I looked well to what they expected. I told them how miserable I had been, and had suffered. At once Mrs. Stavely said:

"Oh! why don't you trust the Lord to heal you?"

"Why," I said, "that is what I have been doing all along; and I believe if I had not done so I would have been dead long ago."

She had often written me on the subject of faith healing, while in Africa, and had sent me numerous papers; then I knew dear Mrs. Baxter, and Mrs. Dr. Bordman, and many others of those choice spirits. But somehow I did not seem to be able to see the

teaching as they did. They could not understand how anyone so strong in faith as I seemed to be, did not see it; and they knew, and I knew, that the Lord was with me, and did lead me, and bless me. But, like them, I did not understand it myself.

"However," I said to Mrs. Stavely. "if an effort on my part is necessary, I cannot make it, I am too weak. But like the man we read of in the Gospel, I am willing for anybody to do anything for me that he can."

The man we read of in the Gospel was too weak to do anything himself, but was willing they should take the roof off the house and let him down before Jesus; and Jesus, seeing their faith, said to the sick of the palsy: "Arise." So I said, "there is just where I am. I am willing, from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet."

"Oh, well," she said, "if you are willing, the Lord can do it."

"But, then," I said, "I have just swallowed a dose of castor oil and laudanum five minutes before you came in."

"Well," she laughingly said, "you can trust the Lord."

I knew how very conservative good Mr. Stavely was; that he was not an enthusiast by any means, though one of the grandest men I ever knew; and he spoke up:

"Yes, Sister Smith, why not trust the Lord to heal?"

"My," I thought, "if he has got to believing so, it is wonderful."

After a pleasant chat they went home. All day Sunday I suffered. There was a sick lady in the next room to me, and they called in a doctor for her. He was a good Christian man. So, as I was so very ill, my hostess said I had better have the doctor see me. I agreed, and he came in. He was very pleasant, and I told him I was just from Africa. He was much interested, and said that they had a large mission on the Congo. He was delighted to see little Bob, and said he would like me and Bob to come to Sabbath School in their church.

He left me some medicine, which did me good, and relieved the pain so that I was able to sleep a little on Sunday night. Then, as he had to call on the other lady on Monday and Tuesday he called each time to see me, also.

I took the medicine on Sunday and Monday, but did not take it on Tuesday.

"Now, I ought to trust the Lord--now as I am willing," I

said, "but the doctor is so kind, he may not like it if he knows I am not taking the medicine; still, if he asks me, I will tell him I am not taking it." Then I prayed, "Lord, do not let him ask me anything about it."

So sure enough he called in on Wednesday, had a nice chat, and said, "Well, Mrs. Smith, I see you are better."

"Yes, Doctor," I said, "I am feeling much better. How much shall I pay you?"

"Oh! nothing at all. I am very glad to do what I can for you."

So I thanked him, and he left.

On Friday I heard that Bishop Taylor was in town, and would leave on Saturday. So I went down to Mr. Stavely's office, the Temple, Dale Street, Liverpool, and found that the office of Anderson Fowler, Bishop Taylor's agent, was next to Mr. Stavely's.

This was the first time I ever saw a telephone work. It was a new thing to me. But I soon heard from the Bishop. They said, "Yes, he was there; had just gone out five minutes before."

So I left my address, and asked the Bishop to call on me at my lodgings. But, as the Bishop was poorly, with asthma, his son, Mr. Ross Taylor, and Mr Welch, the former editor of the "African News," called at my lodgings.

I was delighted to see them. We did have a pleasant time together. We had a little song, and then we knelt and had prayers. My! how Brother Ross Taylor did pray; and Brother Welch. They were in quite a hurry, so did not stop long.

Mr. Ross told me that his father was to leave for Africa on Saturday. So next morning I got a cab, and Bob and I went down to the pier to see the Bishop off. I got there before the Bishop arrived, and I saw him when he came on board; and I think I never pitied a man so in my life. It seemed as though he could scarcely walk, he was so weak and thin. I said to myself, "That is not the Bishop Taylor that I left in Africa." Oh! how changed he was. After I had looked at him for a time (for he did not see me) I went to him and said:

"How do you do, Bishop?"

"Pretty well," he said.

How glad he was to see Bob and me. He saw us last at Cape Palmas, in Africa. Then I said, "What a dreadful cold you have."


"Yes," he said, "an attack of asthma. I have not had an attack before for (I think he said) thirty years. The other night I did not know but I was going. My breath was so short. But I told the Lord if He would spare me. I would like to live a little longer for Africa."

And I saw the great tears in his eyes, and his lips quivered. Then he brushed the tears away, and said, with a twinkle in his eye:

"You know, Amanda, I have known men to die for want of breath."

"Yes," I said, "they generally die for such a want."

Oh! how I would like to have gone back with him. As I looked at him I said, "Oh! what a sacrifice, all for my people. At his time of life he ought to have his home comforts, with his wife to look after him, and his children around him. Now he is so weak and sick. And then he is going all alone on the steamer, and not a soul to do anything for him."

I cannot tell how sad I felt. I said to Mr. Ross, "Can't you go as far as Madeira with the Bishop?"

"No," he replied, "father says I must go home."

Then the Bishop said to me, "Well, good bye, Amanda. Take good care of Bob."

I bade him good-bye the best I could, and left. I never expected to see him again in this life. When I got into the cab, oh! how I cried! And for three days every time I thought of the dear old hero, I had a good cry; I couldn't help it. How good the Lord was to take him to Africa, and bring him back to his home land so well and strong. How like a God is He who doeth all things well. Amen.

Again I turn to my story. Going out at that time gave me fresh cold; I had not got my winter clothes yet; so a dreadful cough set in, and rheumatism in my left arm; and what I suffered, God only knows. But I had quit taking any means. I was willing to trust the Lord.

"Lord," I said, "there are all the things I have been taking, and they have helped me up to a certain point, and then I had to trust you. So I will trust you and do without taking anything."

Now this time the Lord did not seem to test me as before. I just wanted a little relief from pain, for I was going to die anyhow. So I went on.

One night about two o'clock, I had not slept a wink up to that

time, I was sitting up in bed crying with pain in my arm. Dear little Bob was in bed beside me, sleeping away. Everybody in the house was asleep; my cough was terrible; and I said, "Oh! Lord, help me. What shall I do?" and as though some oneone stood by me and spoke, I heard, "Put cotton batting on your arm."

"Thou knowest, "I replied, "I have not got any; but in the morning I will ask the lady if she has any."

So I did, and she gave me some. I got down before the fire on my knees, and put on the cotton batting. It did seem to relieve me, and the pain seemed to quiet down as I knelt down before the fire and it got warm, and I fell into a little doze of sleep. It was better next day, but, oh! so sore. I told my friends I believed it was the good Spirit that prompted me to put on the cotton batting. But they thought I should not have done it, but simply ignored the plan, and just trusted the Lord.

Well, I tried the best I could. They sent me books on the subject; but I said, "I will not read anything but the Bible. I am going to take the Word of God, and ask help of the Spirit."

All right. One night after this my cough troubled me so that I could not sleep. After a severe fit of coughing, I said, "Oh! Lord, do help me. What must I do?" And in an instant a voice distinctly said to me. "Beet root tea will allay the irritation." And I said, "Now, Lord, if that is Thy voice speaking to me, please keep it in my mind till morning and I will do it."

I remembered that twenty years before I was told this thing, and did it for a friend who was ill with cold, and it helped her; but I didn't remember that I had ever thought of it from that time until it came to me that night.

This was between three and four o'clock in the morning. About day-break I got a little quiet; and at seven o'clock a servant came in and made the fire, and it came to me about the beet root. I said, "Well, I am better now, and I needn't mind about it."

I got up at eight, and it came again, "Beet root tea." But still I did not heed. About nine o'clock the same whisper came to me again:

"You said if the Lord would keep it in your mind till morning, you would make the beet root tea."

"So I did."

And I called Bob and sent him downstairs to ask the lady if she had any red beets. She sent me two small ones, but very nice

and red; I had a small sauce pan, and I put them in and boiled them and made a strong cupful and drank it, and it did allay the irritation so that I coughed but little after that to what I had done before; and I shall ever believe that God was teaching me not to ignore the use of all means in sickness.

I believe that God is honored as much when He tells me to do a thing and I obey, as when He says not to do it, and I obey. "Thou shalt not covet." "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart." To me obedience in both cases is absolutely necessary to honor God. I only receive blessings as I obey.

Rev. D.F. Sanford, of Boston, was so kind to Bob and me, and he and his wife were at the Berachia home, at Southport, and during the series of meetings he was holding he gave Bible readings on this subject; and it seemed so clear, and many seemed to get help and blessing, and I did too.

But many thought I was not half out of the woods. So one day two ladies called to see me, after I had returned to Liverpool. I had never seen them before, but they said they had heard of me; and one of them, Mrs. A., told me of her wonderful experience of how she was healed of dropsy.

I was deeply interested, as she went on narrating all the incidents in relation to it, and how she used oil and anointed herself, as she said she felt the Lord led her to do.

"Oh," I said, "I was out last evening to the shop, and it came to me to get some sweet oil."

"That is it," she said at once.

"But," I said, "I did not get it."

"Well," she said, "olive oil is the best; but I did not have that in my case. Haven't you got oil of any kind in the house?"

"Only a little castor oil that was left in the glass."

"It only needs a few drops, and that will do."

So I knelt down, and they anointed me with this oil, and prayed very earnestly. They both said they got such a baptism when they were healed; so I could not help expecting some assurance to this work of healing my body, as I did to my sanctification and justification.

They told me this was right for me to expect, for God had made the provision for the body's healing, with that of the soul; and I did honestly try to see it just as they did. But I could not. I went on for ten days waiting for this especial assurance that I

was really healed. Oh! how I longed for it, but I never got any such assurance. Still I held on by faith.

Christmas came. My dear friend, Mrs. Stavely, had invited me to Seaforth. It was with great difficulty that I got there. When I did, Oh! what a night of suffering. She prayed with me. Oh, how true and kind she was. Her faith held on to God for me.

Next day another dear friend, Mrs. D., came; and they two together prayed and encouraged me to still hold on; that all the pain I suffered was simply a temptation; the Lord would heal me. I made my will do the best it would; but I felt the pain just the same.

About noon I got up, and they helped me to get my clothes on. They were so anxious I should be down to Christmas dinner with them. So I was, and as best I could, endured the pain through dinner. When it was over I could not hold out any longer; I went up to my room, and walked the floor in agony. I tried to ignore the pain; but in spite of my will and faith, it would not be ignored a bit!

About day-break I got a little quiet and slept a little; and while the pain was not so bad as it had been, it was three weeks before I was able to get my arm above my head. And when I would use any means, or talk of it, my friends would feel so sorry for me, and say that it was not honoring the Lord to do so.

But I had sincerely prayed for light. And I believe God has given it to me; if for no one else, He does to Amanda Smith, and I feel quite sure I am not mistaken in God's leading me. I think He has saved me from bondage on these points. Amen. Amen.

As one of the little incidents that reached its culmination after my return from Africa to England, I must here relate the story of my bonnet--not a very important story in itself, but, like most stories, it has its moral, also, if we choose to see it.

How I did hate to give up my nice Quaker bonnet! I had no special feeling about putting it on, so far as feathers and flowers were concerned. I settled that when I was converted. All of those things were surrendered, though the love of them was deep in my heart, so that when I sought the blessing of cleansing I had no difficulty on the dress question.

I always admired the Friends' dress, so this was at once my choice, and at that time many of the Christian sisters among all

the colored churches in Philadelphia, New York, and Baltimore, dressed like the Friends, and were generally called Band Sisters, and, as a rule, were noted for their deep piety and Christian character. I loved them for this, as well as admired their very plain dress, for the height of my ambition was to be a consistent, downright, outright Christian.

It was not a question of your belonging to the Society of Friends because you chose to dress like them. I remember that not only colored Methodists dressed like them, but white Methodists as well, so that I never dreamed of anyone questioning me on my plain dress. When I got to England I found it was different, dressing like a Friend and not being a Friend, and none of my people being Friends. They did not understand it, so as I went about I was often questioned, though in a very nice way.

I was with the Friends a great deal, and they were most hospitable and kind. They would sometimes say:

"Does thee belong to the Society of Friends?"


"Did thy father and mother?"


"And none of thy people are Friends?"


"How strange that thee should wear the Friends' garb."

Well, then I would go into a long explanation, tell of Americans being independent in what they choose; how no one felt bound to wear any set garb; that Methodists or Presbyterians, no matter who, if they liked to dress like the Friends, or anybody else, if they had the money, just got the article, whatever it was, and no one had any thought about it.

They would listen patiently, and then kindly say: "Well, I think if I were thee, I would not do it."

I didn't understand it at first, but later on I found out that no one in England would wear a Friends' bonnnet who was not a Friend, if they did they would be suspected of pretending to be what they were not. When I first heard this I was frightened. I said, "Oh, deary me, is this why I have been so questioned?"

As I was going from place to place, everybody treated me most kindly, but, "oh," I said, "has this been the thought in their mind, that I have been pretending to be what I am not?"

I prayed and cried about it a great deal for the Lord only

knows how I hate deception or sham in anything, but especially in Christianity or religion; but then, I could do nothing. I thought, if I take off my bonnet, and I did not want to do so, for I really loved it, but still if I should take it off, and see persons from America who knew me, that they would say, "Yes, that is just what we thought, Amanda Smith would take off her plain bonnet when she got to England!"

Then the people on this side thought I was representing myself, by wearing the Friends' dress, to be what I was not.

So there I was, between two fires, and the thought of sailing under false colors, this was more than I could bear, but I stood it until I got back to Liverpool, then I had to get a new bonnet. I dreaded going through the explanation again. I saw that the settled ladies were wearing little bonnets. I thought, "What shall I do, I can never were a little bonnet."

I thought if I could find a Friends' milliner, I would get me a plain bonnet if it were not a real Friends' bonnet. I knew I could not get what I wanted at any ordinary milliner, and I did not know where to go in Liverpool to find a Friends' milliner.

I wrote to my friend, Mrs. Margaret Davis, of Fox Rock, Dublin, and told her my dilemma. She wrote and told me she thought I was quite right about getting the bonnet I wanted, and that she would find out where I could find a Friends' milliner in Liverpool. But before I got her word, two ladies called on me and would go with me to get some warmer clothing. It was very cold and I had only my African clothes, four double, but then I was not warm, so we went shopping, as we would say in England.

The ladies got me a nice fur cloak, warm under flannels, nice jersey jacket, stockings, gloves, etc., then they said:

"Is there anything else, Amanda?"

"That is all," I replied.

Just then one of the ladies said, "Oh, you must have a nice bonnet!"

Then I told them I was waiting for a letter so as to know where to go. They said, "You will not wear that big bonnet again."

I tried to explain to them as best I could, but they insisted that I must get a bonnet, "properly," as they said. So we went into the millinery department and got me a "nice bonnet," the largest one they had, and that was not very large, and the plainest.


So I went on all right until I came back to America, then here it was again, "Oh, what have you done with your plain bonnet?" I felt so sick of explaining that I felt like starting a new style and wearing no bonnet at all!

Scores of people have asked me about my bonnet that have never thought of asking me how my soul prospered, and this, after all, is more important in God's sight than though I wore a hundred plain bonnets.

I thought it well to give this final explanation. Amen.

I had a great many expenses during my stay at Sierra Leone. I had my two native children, Bob and Frances, with me, and the little girl was sick all the time. I did everything I could for her to get her well enough to bring with me.

She had been sick for three months before I left Monrovia; but I had got her well enough to get as far as Sierra Leone, where I hoped, through better medical attendance, she would get quite well enough for me to bring to England.

After spending three or four months in Sierra Leone, and doing all I could for her, paying doctors' bills and all, the doctor told me at last that the child could not stand the climate if I brought her, and that she would be a great deal of trouble and care, so I had to decide to leave her, as I had little Bob to look after.

Then I had to provide everything for Frances, so as to leave her comfortable, as I was going to bring little Bob with me. This made my expenses more; but I had quite enough to bring me to Liverpool, if I could live to get there, though sometimes I was a little doubtful whether I would. But the Lord understood my case.

It was not long after I got there before my loving Father, God, began to fulfill that blessed old promise, that He gave me when I left America: "My God will supply all your need according to His riches in glory, by Christ Jesus." Phil. 4:19. Different friends began to send in, as I have already shown; some, three pounds; then two pounds; others, one pound.

One week when I needed just four shillings to pay for my lodgings at Liverpool, before leaving for my friend, Mrs. Staveley's, at Seaforth, where I was going that afternoon, the postman brought a letter in the morning, and when I opened it was from America, and contained one dollar. I did not know the sender--no

name--only "God bless you; I welcome you back from Africa." That was all. So I praised the Lord, paid for my lodgings and left.

"This, this is the God I adore,
My faithful, unchangeable friend
His love is as great as His power,
Which neither knows measure nor end."

    Mary R. Denman's Testimony
.   Table of Contents     CHAPTER XXXVI.