While the American believers were grappling with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s departure after 239 days in their country, the British Bahá’ís were jubilant as they anticipated His return to England for a second visit. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s first trip to the England was for about a month in September 1911 and He gave the first public talk in the West at the City Temple in London.
The steamship Celtic docked at 7:50 p.m. on December 13, 1912 in Liverpool with about 12 of the Bahá’í friends waiting to welcome their beloved Master back to England. Among those 12 were Mrs. Isabel Fraser, Mrs. Herrick and Mr. Mon. H. Dreyfus. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s second trip lasted from Dec. 13, 1912 to Jan. 21, 1913 and He visited Liverpool, London, Oxford, Edinburgh, Bristol and Woking.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá continued His tireless schedule of speaking to many groups, churches and to the Bahá’ís. He often talked about the events of His travels to America and recalled stories about the friends there. After arriving in London from Liverpool a few days later, He stayed with Lady Blomfield on whom He bestowed many blessings, saying she was a devoted servant of the Faith. He encouraged Lady Blomfield to correspond with five of the Bahá’í women He had just said farewell to in America; Mrs. Krug of New York; Mrs. Agnus Parsons of Washington; Mrs. May Maxwell of Canada; Mrs. Corinne True of Chicago and Mrs. Ella Goodall of California. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá told her, “I want you to know these people, to correspond with them and to write to them.”
Among the people who came to see ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in London was historian E. G. Brown who had been in Akka 22 years prior to write about Bahá’u’lláh and the Bahá’í Faith. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke at length with Brown, who spoke fluent Farsi. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá later commented that Brown was a very intelligent man who is very Persian loving. Brown returned the next day with his wife for another talk with the Master. He showed much reverence toward ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and thanked Him repeatedly for His time and insight.
Another interesting vignette about ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s travel to England was that He spent Christmas in London. Isabel Fraser wrote of that evening, “On Christmas night Abdul-Baha visited the poor of the Salvation Army Shelter, Westminster. There were about 1,000 present on this occasion. It was a most impressive scene – the dinner for the homeless and the Master from the East delivering Christ’s message to the poor. As a true test of attention, many of the hungry men forgot to eat and listened intently.” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá then left many handfuls of gold and silver coins to ensure the men would have a similar dinner on New Year’s night. This was received warmly by the poor and by all the organizers. Before leaving ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was shown all over the shelter and at the outer door He said to the attendant officer in charge, “May God prosper you. May you all be under the protection of the Almighty!”
Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By
Diary of Isabel Fraser