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Autobiographical Reminiscences of David Johnston
Chapter XXIII


Ere Tully arose in the zenith of Rome,
Tho' enequaled, preceded, the task was begun—
But Grattan sprung up like a God from the tomb
Of ages, the first, last, the Savior, the One.
Byron.

THE famine of 1846 in the sister kingdom, while claiming its victims by tens of thousands, was by no means unfelt in England and Scotland. My business was thereby ruined and my houses partially untenanted, so that I very soon found myself unable to meet my engagements. After struggling for more than a year, getting deeper in debt, with the help of friends, and seeing no other alternative, I resolved to bring my property to the hammer. I wrote to Mr. Horne, of whom I had borrowed £3,000, to that effect. That gentleman's answer, inclosing a £50 Bank of England note, breathed the kindest feelings of commiseration and earnest advice against my resolution to sell, proffering to forego the interest on his loan until it was convenient to pay. But the die was cast. On the pouring wet 28th of February, 1848, property worth over £7,000 was, from the paucity of buyers, sold for £4,600, a sum which, after all claims were satisfied, left me a sorry margin. The cash from the sale was to be paid in June, but delayed until July. In the interim I had to combat the friendly objections to my choosing the States for my new field of action on the part of the under secretary of state for the colonies. Mr. Hawes expressed his sorrow that I should have to leave England, "but in the event of your so doing," he said, "pray choose one of our colonies, that I maybe of service to you," a hint that I have sometimes thought myself silly not to heed. But a desire I had fostered for many years to visit the great republic not only conquered all overtures to the contrary but served as a solace to the severe trials I was then undergoing. On polemics I have been purposely silent, deeming sentiments thereon to be the private property of the individual. Still I feel that to leave England without a passing word of farewell to the Society of Friends I should be doing an injustice to that warm-hearted ' people. My connection for many years with the Anti-Slavery, Peace, Temperance, and other kindred societies had the effect of drawing me into close contact with the salt of the earth, among which stands prominently the Society of Friends. My admiration of the "Quakers" induced me to worship with that people for the last seven years of my English life. In short, I became very much enamored of their mode of worship. Never before was I so impressed with the true eloquence of silence in waiting upon the manifestation of spirituality. The kindly feeling manifested by that people on my departure for America can never be forgotten, and I regret the pinching hand of poverty which induced me to decline the acceptance of the handsome present of a copy of every book in their extensive library.


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