|CHAPTER XX. -- LIME STREET STATION, LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND, AND THE RECEPTION I MET WITH THERE--PAGES FROM MY DIARY.|
I had to wait about two hours. I went to Keswick, where the big Conference is held every summer. Cannon Battersby was the rector of St. John's Church, and was President of the Convention. A holy man of God, he was. Mr. and Mrs. Johnson were there. They had spoken of me, so that everyone seemed to be expecting me.
Just before we got to Keswick I had to change cars and wait about an hour. The day was beautiful, and this was about four o'clock in the afternoon. I was a curiosity. How the people did look at me. I though I would buy me a newspaper, and then they wouldn't look at me so much, but, lo and behold, that only made it worse. They seemed to wonder what in the world I was going to do with a newspaper. Then I walked up and down, then they walked up and down, as though they wondered what I was walking up and down for. They were very respectful; they did not laugh and make remarks like they would have done in this country, but they seemed to look as though they pitied me. By and by the train came in, and two ladies got out and one of them walked up to me and said, "Why, Amanda Smith."
"Well," I thought, "who in the world here knows me." I said, "Yes, madam, that is my name;" and holding on to my hand, she said, laughingly, "Don't you know me?"
"I know your face, madam, but cannot place you."
She still laughed and said, "Look at me."
"Oh, madam, do please tell me who you are."
"You held meetings with me at Sea Cliff, and New York. You spoke at a ladies' meeting in New York that I held once at Dr. C.'s church one afternoon."
No, I could not think. Then she said, "You don't know Mrs. Dr. Bordman."
"Oh, dear Mrs. Bordman, is it you, the joy of my heart?"
"Where are you going?" she asked.
"To Keswick Convention."
"Why, that is just where we are going."
Then she introduced me to the lady that was with her and we had a beautiful time and pleasant journey to Keswick.
The house where Mrs. B. and her friend had lodged was full, but they said they thought to get me a place near by.
Of course no one knew I was really coming, I had got Mrs. Johnson's letter telling me all about how to come, but I had no time to write and tell her I had decided to do so, so, in a little while after we had got to the house, dear Dr. Bordman went to see about my lodgings. It was in St. John's Lane. The landlady told him she could accommodate me for the night, but the next day she was expecting two young men who had engaged the rooms. So I went off to my lodgings.
The lady was a very pleasant old lady, a widow. She was quite alone, but had such a pretty home, like so many one sees in England. The room was large; everything was elegant and rich, but old-fashioned; high bedstead, with heavy curtains around. I was glad when the night came, to go to bed. I had never been so long in such close quarters as in the cabin on the steamer, and I longed to have a good, free time without shaking. It was July, dreadfully hot here in America, but so cool in England that I could sleep with the windows closed and under a blanket.
"My! I never knew the luxury of an English feather-bed till that night. Oh, it was so elegant, a great big English feather-bed, I had never seen anything like it, thought I had seen many a large feather bed here in America. I lay all over it. I said, "I want to get the benefit of this feather-bed, I will only have it for one night."
My! what a nice sleep I had; how refreshed and rested I was the next morning; how full of praise my heart was to God for His kindness in bringing me safely to England and giving me such a token of His favor among the people that received me; I shall never forget it.
I got up next morning, did up my room, and was to go to Mrs. Bordman's to have my breakfast with them. Before going out I thought to myself how I should like to stay here; it just seems like as if this is the place the Lord wants me to be, but the lady
Somehow, my heart was so quiet and full of peace, I felt the Lord would do it, and yet it seemed so strange that He should. I took my bag in my hand and went down. When I got down stairs I met the lady. She bade me good morning and asked me how I slept. I told her, beautifully; I was so refreshed from the comfortable night's sleep. Then she said to me, "I have just had a telegram from one of the young men that was to come, and he has met with a friend he has not seen for a long time, so he is going to stay with him, and the other young man is going with a friend of his; so the room will be vacant and you can stay."
Oh, I came near shouting right out, but I knew if I did she would think I was wild, so I did say, praise the Lord; but I wanted to dance for joy. Oh, how wonderfully God provided for me. I went down and told Mrs. Bordman; and we had a good time praising the Lord together.
The meeting was held in a big tent in an open lot. There were crowds of people. As I walked down to the tent and heard the singing, it all seemed very much like home. I was introduced by Mrs. J. to Canon Battersby. No one acted as though I was a black woman, I don't suppose they would have treated Mrs. President of the United States with more Christian courtesy and cordiality than they did me. After the preaching service was over I was introduced by Canon Battersby, and was asked to lead the after meeting. There were clergymen and workers all around, and I felt at first a little awkward. I thought I would never get hold of the way they did things; and they told me just to go right on in my own way, just as I was accustomed to do in America, and they would stand by and assist in anything I wished them to do.
So after talking a while, I asked those who wanted personal conversion and prayer to stand, and a great number arose all over
A few came to the front, and in a moment the clergymen and workers were all out in the congregation kneeling and praying with the seekers. By and by one would call out, "Mrs. Smith, here is a soul that has found peace in believing in Jesus."
That one would stand up and say a word, and then another would call out, "And here is another who wants to say a word," another and another would call out "Here's another," so I praised the Lord; and I remember how I was taken back, for I struck in to sing the old Coronation the way we sang it in America, "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name," but no one joined, and I thought it was so strange. I went on with the first verse. I knew how it would have rung out at home, but I could not understand why they didn't sing; surely they must know it. They did, but the tune they sing in England is entirely different from that which is sung here.
There was a good Wesleyan brother that was speaking to those that were forward, and I turned to him and said, "Why don't they sing?" He says, "They dont know the tune." Then I said, "You start it to the tune they all know." And so he did.
My! how they sung it! And I learned that tune, though I did not like it at first; but now I do. Of course it don't beat the American tune, but still it is grand. Praise the Lord.
I don't know just the number that professed to receive peace that night, but I know it was a goodly number. To God be all the glory. That was my first work in England.
A few days later on I met some ladies from Liverpool who were members of Christ's Church, Everton, where Rev. Hay Adken was formerly rector. They had a large mother's meeting. This lady, Mrs. Stavely, wanted to know if I would come to Liverpool and hold some meetings. I told her I would see about it and let her know later on. She was very pleasant, and I got to know here afterwards very well. She is among the dearest friends I have in England to-day. Her house is one of my-homes. She
Then Mrs. Johnson introduced me to a Mrs. Stephen Menzes, of Eggleston Hills, just out of Liverpool. She is a wonderful lady, does a marvelous work for the Young Women's Christian Association, and was its first organizer, I think. She invited Mrs. Johnson and some other friends to the hotel to dine, and invited me to meet these friends. They were very much interested to know my history and birth--if I was a slave, etc.
Then Mrs. Menzes arranged for me to come to Eggleston Hills. They had a large hall and did great work among the laboring class.
A day or so after that Canon Hopkins came to me with a letter from Lord Mount Temple, of Broadlands, in which his lordship invited me to their convention, to be held in August at Broadlands. I thanked him very kindly, of course. I didn't know who Lord Mount Temple was. I didn't know anything about Broadlands. Then I said, "Oh, I have heard Mrs. Johnson and Mrs. Bordman speak of it; I suppose they are all going, and Miss Smiley."
He smiled and said, "You are invited, Mrs. Smith."
I knew they had all been there, so I thanked him. I went home and told Mrs. Bordman of it, and she was very kind, but said she didn't think it was at all the thing for me to go to this convention. Well, I didn't know. I knew Mrs. Bordman was a good woman, and she would only say what she thought would be best for me. She said the doctrines and truths that were taught there were rather deep, and it might do me harm, and she only wanted to shield me.
Well, I could not understand it. I went upstairs to my room, took my Bible, got on my knees and began to pray the Lord to show me what His will was in regard to it. Clear and plain as my right hand, though I can't explain, but God showed me it was right I should go, so I thought no more of it.
Afterwards I told Mrs. Johnson. Oh, she thought it was dreadful; surely I must not go by any means. I prayed on. Clearer and clearer it came I was to go. I was invited to a Mr. Brathwait's, at Kendall, a very wealthy Quaker gentleman. Miss Smiley and Mrs. Johnson were there at the same time.
One day Miss S. came into my room--it was next hers--and said she felt impressed to come and warn me by no means to go to Broadlands. The Lord had always kept me so simple, and she had known of some who had been there who had got into a good deal of confusion in regard to these deep truths; the teaching there was so deep. Mrs. Johnson went out one morning, and when she came back she said she had word from Mrs. Menzes and that she was looking for me, and that I must surely go; anyhow, it wouldn't do for me to go to Broadlands, she was quite sure the Lord didn't want me there.
I could not make them understand it, but the more I prayed about it the clearer it was to my mind. Oh, I can't understand why they should hinder me, but I knew they did. I had told Mrs. Menzes when she first spoke to me, that I had been spoken to about this place, but that I could give four days before I went, if that would do, but after Mrs. J. came back a telegram came to me from Mrs. Menzes, saying that they would expect me on such a train, that meetings were arranged, so I went.
Mrs. Menzes met me at the station in her carriage. To my surprise, the first thing I saw were large placards with my name on, up against the railway station: "Amanda Smith, the converted slave girl, will sing and hold gospel meetings in Victoria Hall," giving the days and dates which I saw directly, interfered with the time I was to go to Broadlands Conference, so I saw I was entirely planned out.
I said to Mrs. Menzes, "I have promised to go to Broadlands Conference, I told Mr. Hopkins that I would go, I remember that I told you I had."
"Well," she said, "you are advertised now and you can't possibly go, it will injure your influence greatly as a stranger, here in England. We think a great deal of it if you do not go when you are advertised."
Oh, how bad I felt. I was greatly tempted, and felt if I had had the money I would like to come home, but this was only a temptation, though I didn't get to Broadlands that year; but the next year I did. Lord Mount Temple and Lady Beechman, and a number of others, came to Mr. Charlton's East End Mission one night where I was holding services and invited me again in person, and then, through the kindness of Mr. Edwin Clifford, Esq., I got to Broadlands, according to the will of the Lord.
Oh, how He blest me, and, I believe, made me a blessing to the people. I shall never forget the kindness of his Lordship and Lady Mount Temple. I was their guest in their home. Oh, what a home it was! how spacious, a regular palace.
When I went into dinner, Lord Mount Temple walked up to me and gave me his arm, and saying, "We will lead the way," took me into dinner and seated me at his right, and there I was, amid all that throng of English dignitaries. It was all new to me, in a sense, and yet I neither saw nor felt anything that was worth while being a fool over, for God had long since saved me, I believe, from foolish pride.
I believe it now, as I always believed it, in the Book: "Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall," and if I ever prayed for God to save me from anything, it was from the foolishness of pride. Thank God, I believe he does, he keeps me saved.
I remember one morning in the conservatory where the morning meeting was held, Rev. Mr. Jukes and Mr. Geo. MacDonald gave a Bible reading. I saw nothing strange in it, it was beautiful to me. After this was over the meeting opened for those to testify who had received any special blessing. Mr. E. Clifford and I had held a very interesting Gospel meeting on the evening before, so that when the meeting was opened for testimony there were a number who testified.
I felt the Lord laid it on me to give a bit of my own personal experience, how God converted and sanctified my heart, so I spoke, and the power of the Spirit seemed to come mightily upon all the people. Oh, what a stir; they wept and sobbed, and one woman was so baptized that she cried out and could not restrain herself. How the Lord helped me that morning. This work was very real in many hearts; even after I came from Africa I met a woman in Liverpool one night in the train, who said to me, "Do you remember the morning you spoke at Broadlands and gave your experience?"
"Do you remember some one crying out?"
"Well," she said, "that was I. Oh, God filled me that morning and I have never gotten over it, the trials have been severe, but, Oh, I have been saved and kept and I am full of praise to-day. I am glad to see you, praise the Lord."
Her face was beaming with joy. That is only one instance, I don't know how many more, but God does, and that is enough. Amen.
I met with some things that were a little strange, but they didn't affect me any; for example: One morning after the breakfast was over, and after the prayer, we retired to the drawing room. Dr. Moxey and several others were in a very interesting conversation in regard to advanced views of spiritual things. One young clergyman, whose name I don't remember now, was saying, that somewhere in the part of the country where he lived he and his wife had attended some meetings where they were praying for the conversion of the Devil. Some one turned to me and said, "What do you think of that, Mrs. Smith?"
"Well," I said, "anybody that wants to do that is quite welcome as far as I am concerned, but I think he has a pretty big job on hand."
"Well," said they, "don't you see what a good thing it would be, Mrs. Smith, if only the Devil could be converted; you, and--referring to another evangelist that was present--and many other persons who are working so hard to get people saved, wouldn't have your work so often destroyed, for after all your work, he often upsets it all."
"Yes," I said, "I guess I will wait and see how you all come out."
Now, I didn't see anything in that that was so mysterious. The most mystery I saw about it was that people should spend time in such foolishness, when there is so much they might do that would be of permanent good.
After I got to England, the first money that was given me, about three days after, was five pound sterling and something over, equal to about twenty-five dollars. Some ladies at Keswick, said to Mrs. Johnson, "Who supports Mrs. Smith?" Of course they didn't tell me this, but they asked Mrs. Johnson all about it. She told them that I just trusted the Lord to supply all my needs, and so it went around quietly.
Mrs. J. came to me one morning and said to me, "Amanda, it is wonderful how the Lord is putting it into the hearts of the people to help you financially. Several have come to me and put in my hand money for you."
I thanked her very much.
"Several ladies have said they would hand me something this afternoon, when I get it together I will give it to you."
So when she handed it to me it was the amount that I have spoken of. Then I saw it was in direct answer to prayer, as I had asked the Lord on my way.
"Lord," I said, "confirm my coming to England by putting it into the hearts of the people to give me some money to help me after I get there, I am a stranger, no one knows me except Mrs. J."
This is what I said to the Lord while I was on the steamer, and, now, three days after I land, this is the result. Surely the Lord is good. It is all wonderful, but it is just like Him. Blessed be His name.
Friday, Sept. 26th, 1878. This is a day that I had to regret. I had been invited to Lord Mount Temple's, through Rev. Mr. Hopkins, to go to the Broadlands Conference. When I told it to my dear American friends who were there, they thought it would not do for me to go at all. They said the teaching at that Conference was so deep, and they were afraid I would be confused, and it would not be good for me. And then, besides, for one like me to be entertained where there was so much elegance and style, it might make me proud and turn my head. But, poor things! they didn't know that I had always been used to a good deal of that, though in the capacity of a servant; so that no style or grandeur affected me at all.
But notwithstanding this invitation to me came directly from Lord Mount Temple's, they protested against my going. I prayed about it, and the Lord made it very clear to me that He wanted me at Broadlands. But as I was a stranger, and they had been in England longer than I had, I yielded, but thought quietly in my mind that I would go anyhow.
But they so arranged it that I was to go to St. Helens, and take some meetings at Victoria Hall, at Mrs. Menzes'. And when I got there they had advertised me beyond the date when I was to go to Broadlands. And though I told them I had promised to go to Broadlands before, Mrs. Menzes said it would not do at all, after I was advertised; I would lose my influence for good; that that was one of the things they were very particular about in England. I knew nothing about the advertisement myself, and had nothing to do with it; but that I could not explain. So I did not go to Broadlands till the next year.
Monday, 29th. Quite a party of us take a carriage drive to Buttermere mountains. Oh, such a sight my eyes never beheld. The beauty and grandeur beggar description.
Wednesday, 31st. Had a nice meeting. Took a sixteen mile drive. Went to see the old church--seventeen hundred years old. I never saw antiquities in such profusion before.
Thursday, Aug. 1st. Tired, but saved. Go to Kendel, to Mr. Brathwaite's. Mr. Brathwaite is a very wealthy Quaker gentleman. I shall never forget their beautiful home, and their kindness to me, a stranger. God bless them. There I met Mrs. Johnson and Miss Smiley. Dear Miss Smiley, how solicitous she was for me! She came into my room one day and said she felt impressed to say to me that she thought I should not go to Broadlands. The Lord had blessed me so much, and it would be such a pity if I were to go there and be spoilt. Poor thing, how kind she was!
Saturday, Aug. 3d. I leave Keswick to-day for St. Helens. Arrive about three o'clock in the afternoon. Mrs. Menzes met me at the station with the carriage. The first thing that struck me when I got out of the carriage was large bills pasted up, beautiful pink paper, with black letters: " Mrs. Amanda Smith, the Converted Slave from America, will give Gospel Addresses and Sing in Victoria Hall for so many days. " My knees felt very weak, but there I was in for it.
Sunday, 4th. My first day at the Hall. It is a large hall, holding from six to eight hundred persons. It was right in a Roman Catholic settlement, and I was quite a novelty, being a woman, and a black woman, at that. So at night the meeting was crowded. But of all the audiences that I ever spoke to, I never before saw one so mixed--women with shawls over their heads, some with nothing on their heads at all, some barefoot, men and women respectable looking, others far from it, but on the whole all behaved well. Then there was a crowd that had gathered at the door to see me when I came out, and they almost pulled the clothes off of me. It took four policemen to get me into the carriage, while the driver sat on the box and cut right and left with his whip to keep the way clear while he started. Of all the unearthly yells I ever heard, they gave them. This was all new to me. I had been around a good deal in America, and had been to many large meetings where there were thousands, but I had never seen anything like this before.
Monday, 5th. Praise the Lord, Oh, my soul.
"The peace of Christ keeps fresh my heart,
A fountain ever springing;
All things are mine since I am His,
How can I keep from singing?"
To-day we have a large field meeting, as they call it in England, a kind of picnic. I stood in a cart in this great big field, in the midst of five or six hundred people, and tried to talk to them, and sing. It was a difficult job and all new to me, but I did the best I could.