Abdu’l-Baha’s Arrival in England

by Isabel Fraser


ABDUL-BAHA arrived in Liverpool from New York on the White Star liner Celtic, December 13th 1912. The boat was late and it was about nine o’clock before it docked. Miss Elizabeth Herrick, formerly of Liverpool, now of London, had gone up to Liverpool a day ahead to arrange for the addresses. M Hippolyte Dreyfus-Barney had come from Paris to meet Abdul-Baha and a group from Manchester, Liverpool, and Leeds, in all about a dozen, watched the great liner come slowly up the stream, literally out of the dark night. Suddenly we caught sight of Abdul-Baha in the ship’s bow, and as she hove to he walked slowly down the long deck till he stood quite alone, in the very center of the center deck.. All eyes on the landing stage were at once riveted upon him as he peered over the ship’s side into the rain and gloom of Liverpool. The huge modern boat made a fitting frame for the Master-symbol, as it is of this outpouring of power, designed as it is to bring brothers into closer touch, and Abdul-Baha, the Center of this dispensation, appeared standing in command.

To the little group on the landing stage it seemed ages before the first, second and third-class baggage was arranged in the customs, and the porters and reporters dashed aboard. Finally we caught sight of the Well-Beloved’s white turbaned head, and directly back of him, as they came slowly down the gang-plank, one of the Persians carried a tiny Japanese orange-tree from California. Laden with fruit, it looked like an offering from the tropics as it swayed in the gusts of the broad Mersey.

He stayed two days in Liverpool, stopping at the Adelphi hotel. During that time he made two addresses, one to the Theosophical Society on Saturday night, December 14th, 1912 and one at Pembroke Chapel, a Baptist church, Sunday evening, December 15th. He left for London the next morning.

Since leaving London a year ago, Abdul-Baha has travelled far. From here he went to Paris, and from thence travelled to Alexandria and Cairo. Last April he visited the States, going as far west as San Francisco. It was in this city that he made his famous address to the Jews, speaking on the relations between Judaism and Christianity, an address which is far-reaching not only from the Jewish but from the broad Christian standpoint.

On being asked what the Jewish attitude toward him was on that occasion, Abdul-Baha said: "Many of those present came up and shook me by the hand, and a certain Jew came to me as I was leaving the synagogue and said, ‘I am ashamed to be prejudiced any longer.’ And, again, as I was walking one day in the street another Jew came to me and said, ‘We were neglectful and heedless, and you enlivened us; we slept and you awoke us. It behooves us to remain steadfast now and look to true knowledge, and forget our 2,000-year-old differences.’"


From the STAR OF THE WEST, Bahai News Journal, Vol III, No 17, January 19, 1913.