Third Visit to Britain
In the Ambassador for December, 1867, it was announced that Dr. Thomas might visit Britain for the third time if it were desired. The idea was welcomed by the brethren, and steps were taken to ensure that if such a visit took place, all that was necessary would be done to make it a success. In accepting an invitation the Doctor intimated that he would be accompanied by his daughter, sister Lasius, to whom we are largely indebted for a record of the journey. Dr. Thomas and his daughter left New York on My 5th, 1868, by the S.S. Idaho. The ship arrived at Liverpool on the 18th, and two days later the two reached Birmingham.
It is interesting to learn that there were over a hundred present at the meeting for the Breaking of Bread on the first Sunday morning after their arrival; perhaps sister Lasius’ comment that the meeting was “by far the largest gathering of any ecclesia in Christendom known to this generation,” will be even more interesting. The Doctor lectured in the Temperance Hall, which later became the meeting place of the ecclesia. The stay in Birmingham was brought to a conclusion by a fraternal meeting at which the Doctor gave an address illustrated by charts of the prophecies of Daniel.
A tour of Britain followed. At Bilsthorp, a village in Nottinghamshire, the meetings were held in a private house, where by standing in the doorway the Doctor managed to address some 50 persons. At Nottingham several meetings were addressed; Leicester cam next and then Cheltenham, where 800 or 900 assembled in the Town Hall. From there the journey was continued to Weston-super-Mare, where the audiences were small; then they crossed the Bristol Channel in a small yacht to South Wales. The weather was bad and the sea rough, so that it was not a pleasurable journey. Landing in Wales they journeyed to Swansea for the Mumbles, where the Truth was well represented, and where the subjects announced were somewhat provocative and stirred up a newspaper controversy.
Returning to England after a stay in Swansea, they visited next Devonport where considerable numbers of people were addressed. Devonport was succeeded by London where the Doctor stayed for a month, giving lectures in various parts of the Metropolis. After going to Malden in Essex, they revisited Nottingham. Sister Lasius wrote, “Our stay here on this occasion was a period of rest, greatly needed and much enjoyed, enabling the Doctor to recruit, and gain refreshing sleep, which such incessant activity of the brain often prevents.” A tour such as that which he had undertaken, addressing hundreds of people in place after place, for something like two hours at a time, might well tell upon a man, especially as he was not of strong physique. He was then 64 years of age.
From Nottingham the tour included Scarborough, Whitby, Halifax, and Manchester, from which place they journeyed northwards to Scotland. At Edinburgh they stayed four weeks, and the Doctor spoke on several occasions. From Edinburgh they made their way through Galashiels, Tranent, and Wishaw where the Doctor was unable to speak because of an accident. From Wishaw the journey continued through Paisley, Beith, and Cumnock. Here again the Doctor was troubled by irritation of the stomach caused by “too much effort of the brain and too little exercise of the body,” so that he was unable to carry out the programme that had been arranged. Finally they came south again, calling at certain places en route, and reaching Birmingham on March 22nd, 1870.
On the effects of the tour on Dr. Thomas, his own account may be given. “I found the labour at my time of life too severe for the nervous energy generated by my physical organization . . . In the tour now completed I have exhibited the truth in a hundred and forty-five discourses . . . Thus far I have escaped such extreme depression of the vital force, though not entirely from the acquiescent feeling that disinclines from exercise of muscle or brain.”
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