Historical Sketches of the Foreign Missions of the Seventh-day Adventists


From London to Basle

Wednesday morning, September 2, we were to leave London for Basle. Bro. H. W. Kellogg, who had been in London with W. C. White about a week, attending to business connected with the publishing houses at Basle and at Christiania, Norway, was to accompany us. We had determined on an early departure; but this, as those know who are familiar with London habits, was not an easy matter. At eight o'clock in the morning the principal business streets of London are as quiet as are those in most of our American cities at six o'clock; and business men are not to be found in their offices until a still later hour. HS 166.5

At the small hotel at which we were staying, there was little sign of life before seven o'clock. We asked for breakfast at six, but were told that it would be impossible to furnish anything so early. By previous experience we had learned that usually at this hour the fires were not built, nor were the doors unlocked. So, to carry out our plan, we purchased bread, fruit, and milk in the evening, and asked for dishes to be brought to our rooms that we might prepare our own breakfast. The porter was [told] to get up early and have the door unlocked at half past six; but this he failed to do until wakened by us in the morning. After this experience, we concluded that in order to enjoy traveling in Europe it is better to conform to the customs of the country than to try to introduce our own. We could have taken a later train, but thought that the early one would be less crowded and more pleasant. HS 167.1

At the station, an effort was made to “check” the trunks to Basle. But on the English roads there are no checks. After we had paid for all that was in excess of fifty-five pounds for each ticket, they pasted onto each piece of baggage two strips of paper, one with the word “Basle” written on it, the other containing the number “103.” To us they gave one of the papers numbered “103”, after they had written on it the number of pieces we had left in their charge. This is the nearest thing to our American checking system that is to be found in Europe. And on many of the local roads in England, even this is not practiced. There each person has to look out for his own “luggage,” as it is called, and see that it is put in and taken out at the right station. HS 167.2

The first sight of an English train gives anything but a favorable impression. The cars are lower, narrower, and shorter than the American cars; and they look even shorter than they really are, because they have no projecting platforms at the ends, and no overhanging roofs. The platform is not needed, because the car is entered from the side. As you approach the train, a gentlemanly official opens the door of a first, second, or third class compartment, according to your ticket, and if you object to one in which smoking is permitted, he finds one in which it is prohibited. Entering through the narrow door, you find yourself in a little room about seven feet by nine, with two seats and two doors, a seat on each side and a door at each end. The end of the compartment is the side of the car. On each side of the doors are stationary windows, and in the upper part of the door is a window which can be lowered or raised according to the amount of ventilation desired. Just before the train leaves the station, the doors are all closed and locked, and are at once unlocked on reaching another station. The conductor walks along a foot-rail on the outside of the car, clinging to rods placed there for this purpose, and receives the tickets through the window. On fast trains the tickets are usually examined at the stations. HS 167.3

The English engine is a plain, homely-looking affair, without polish or ornament. There is no bell, no immense cow-catcher, no great head-light. These things are not necessary, because the track is thoroughly protected either by high walls or by strong fences or hedges, and all the road-crossings, foot-paths, and intersecting lines are generally built above or below the grade. Where they are not thus built, trustworthy persons are employed to guard the crossing, and at a certain signal to close the entrance to the track, either by gates, bars, or chains. Accidents rarely occur; but when one does, the laws are very severe on the railroad company. HS 168.1

The ride from London to Dover occupied several hours, and was very pleasant. Although it was September, the country through which we passed looked as fresh and green as though it had been spring-time. This formed a striking contrast to the dry, brown fields of a rainless California autumn, and is no doubt due in a large degree to the humid climate of England. Were it not for the numerous manufacturing towns and villages thickly dotted here and there, the country would seem like one vast park, as everything is kept in such a high state of cultivation. HS 168.2

At Dover we went on board a small steamer which took us across the English Channel. The weather was fine, and the channel was unusually smooth; but the waves that would have had no effect on the Cephalonia, tossed this little steamer about, and caused considerable sea-sickness. Our company suffered but little. At Calais we were to take a night train for Basle. Bro. Kellogg and William thought best to secure a berth for me in the sleeping car; but we were traveling with second-class tickets, and the only sleeping car on this train was a first-class coach. To exchange my ticket for first-class, and pay the additional expense for a berth in the sleeper, would cost eleven dollars. This, of course, we could not afford to pay. Fortunately, however, we secured to ourselves a compartment in a car that went through to Basle without change, and by a skillful arrangement of our satchels, bundles, and blankets converted our compartment into a sleeping car, and secured a degree of rest. The railroad builders of Europe have not planned, as have those in America, to prevent the comfort of travelers; and if you can secure plenty of room, you can make yourself quite comfortable for the night in these coaches that at first seem so strange and inconvenient. We could have slept quite well had it not been for the caretaking officials, who would throw open the door at many of the stations, and rattle off some information which we did not understand. HS 168.3

About six o'clock in the morning we reached Basle. Here we were met at the train by friends, and taken at once to the office of Les Signes des Temps, where we met old friends whom we had not seen for years. We are much pleased with the location of the new publishing house. While sufficiently near the center of the town for all business purposes, it is far enough out to avoid the noise and confusion of the city. The building faces the south, and directly opposite is a sixty-acre common of government land, bordered by trees. On the other side of the common are large buildings, behind which rise gently sloping hills covered with green fields and pretty groves. On one of the hills directly opposite us stands a quaint little church, and an old convent long since deserted, and occupied now only by a farmer. Back of all this rise higher mountains, covered with dark firs and forming a fine background to the lovely scene. HS 169.1

The city of Basle was an important place to the Protestant reformers. Switzerland was one of the first countries of Europe to catch the light of morning, and to announce the rise of reformation. And Basle was one of those points on which the light of day concentrated its rays, and whence they remarked, “I am much surprised that they perform no miracle to save themselves; formerly the saints worked frequent prodigies for much smaller offenses.” HS 169.2

Being the seat of a university, Basle was the favorite resort of scholars. It also had many printing-offices. Here Zwingle received his early education; here Erasmus published the New Testament which he had translated from the original Greek into Latin; here Frobenius, the celebrated printer, published the writings of Luther, and in a short time spread them in France, Spain, Italy, and England; and here, too, John Foxe spent a portion of his exile in getting some of his books through the press. Poverty and persecution troubled him, and we fancy we see him walking to and fro upon the surrounding heights, sympathizing with earlier exiles, who said, “We sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.” While here he issued the first installment of the “Book of Martyrs.” HS 171.1

As we looked upon our press, working off papers containing the light of truth for the present time, we could but think how much greater difficulties than we have met had been encountered on the same soil in former times by the advocates of Bible truth. Every movement had to be made in secrecy, or their work would be destroyed and their lives imperiled. Now the way seems to be prepared for the truth to go forth as a lamp that burneth. The Bible standard is raised, and the same words that fell from the lips of the early reformers, are being repeated: The Bible, and the Bible only, is the foundation of our faith. HS 171.2

In the providence of God, our publishing house is located on this sacred spot. We could not wish for a more favorable location for the publication of truth in the different languages. Switzerland being a small republic, that which comes from here is not looked upon with the suspicion that it would arouse if passing from one to another of the large rival powers. Three languages are spoken here,—the French, the German, and the Italian; therefore it is a favorable place for issuing publications in these languages. HS 171.3

The grassy common in front of the office, of which we have spoken, is reserved by the Swiss government for military drill. Here, day after day, at certain seasons of the year, we see the soldiers training, so that they may be ready, when needed, to engage in actual service. As we have watched the progress of the drill, and from time to time noted the thoroughness manifest in every department, the query has arisen, Why should there not be in Basle a large army of Christian soldiers drilling for actual service in the battles to be fought in the different countries of Europe against tradition, superstition, and error? Why should those who are preparing to fight the battle for Prince Immanuel be less earnest, less painstaking, less thorough, in their preparation for the spiritual warfare? HS 171.4

Basle has for years been a prominent missionary station among other denominations. Here is located a missionary college in which young men are being educated, and from which some are sent out to foreign lands every year. There are also in the immediate vicinity several other missionary educational institutions. It was in one of these that Bro. Erzenberger was receiving his education when the truth first found him. HS 171.5

We know of no better place in Europe for us to educate workers than right here in Basle. The new office affords an excellent opportunity for persons to learn various branches of the work, and we would like to see scores of young men and women connected with the office, drilling for the Master's service. We believe that the time is not far distant when a school will be connected with the work here, so that workers may be more thoroughly prepared to go forth as missionaries, and also that those of our brethren who have children may have a place to send them where they will not be obliged to attend school on the Sabbath. We are grateful that some efforts are now being made to train young people to go forth as soldiers of the cross of Christ to war against the enemies of truth. But we regret that these efforts are so crippled because of our limited means. HS 171.6

The people of God are not half awake. A stupor seems to be paralyzing their sensibilities. Each of us will soon have to stand before the Judge of all the earth, to answer for the deeds done in the body. All will then have to give an account for the good they might have done, but did not do because they were not so closely connected with God that they could know his will and understand his claims upon them. If the money that has been expended annually by our brethren in selfish gratification had been placed in the mission treasury, where there is now one missionary in the field there might be one hundred. Who will have to render an account for this great lack of funds? Many of our American brethren have done nobly and willingly for the advancement of the truth in Europe. But there is a great work yet to be done. Many who have given liberally could do more, and others should now come forward and bear their share of the burden. Now is the time when houses and lands should be converted into mission funds. Men are to be educated and disciplined. We feel alarmed at the little that is being done, when we have a world-wide message, and the end of all things is at hand. Christ is soon to come in the clouds of heaven to reward every man as his works have been. To whom will it then be said, “Ye have done what ye could”? HS 172.1