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Memoirs of the Wesley family : collected principally from original documents online

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which will be one of the marks by which the Shepherd of
Israel will know his sheep at the last day ? Though if it
were possible for you to suffer a little in the cause, you
would have a confessor's reward. You own that none but
such as are out of their senses would be prejudiced against
your acting in this manner, but say, ' These are they that
need a physician.' But what if they will not accept of
one who will be welcome to the poor prisoners ? Go on,
then, in God's name, in the path to which your Saviour
has directed you, and that track wherein your father
has gone before you. For when I was an undergraduate
at Oxford, I visited those in the castle there, and reflect on
it with great satisfaction to this day. Walk as prudently
as you can, though not fearfully, and my heart and prayers
are with you. Your first regular step is to consult with
him (if any such there be) who has a jurisdiction over the
prisoners, and the next is, to obtain the direction and ap-


probation of your bishop. This is Monday morning, at
which time I shall never forget j'ou. If it be possible, I
should be alad to see you all three here in the fine end of
summer. But if I cannot have that satisfaction, I am sure
I can reach you every day, though you were beyond the
Indies. Accordingly, to Him who is everywhere I now
heartily commit you, as being

" Your most affectionate and joyful father,

" Sam. Wesley."

In the following year Mr. Wesley met with an accident
that was likely to have proved fatal to him. Mr. John
Wesley, then at Oxford, having had some accomit of it,
wrote to his mother for the particulars, of which she gave
him the following detail : —

''July 12, 17.31.

"Dear Jacky, The particulars of your father's

fall are as follows : On Friday before Whitsunday, the 4th
of June, I, your sister Martha, and our maid, were going
in our wagon to see the ground we hire of Mrs. Knight, at
Low Millwood. He sat in a chair at one end of the wagon,
I in another at the other end, Matty between us, and the
maid behind me. Just before we reached the close, going
down a small hill, the horses took into a gallop ; out flies
your father and his chair. The maid seeing the horses
run, hung all her weight on my chair, and kept me from
keeping him company. She cried out to William to stop
the horses, and that her master was killed. The fellow
leaped out of the seat, and stayed the horses ; then ran to
Mr. Wesley, but ere he got to him, two neighbors who were
providentially met together raised his head, upon which
he had pitched, and held him backward, by which means
he began to respire ; for 'tis certain, by the blackness in
his face, that he had never drawn breath from the time of
his fall till they helped him up. By this time I was got to
him, asked him how he did, and persuaded him to drink a
little ale, for we had brought a bottle with us ; he looked
prodigiously wild, but began to speak, and told me he ailed
nothing, I informed him of his fall. He said he ' knew
nothing of any fall, he was as well as ever he was in his
life.' We bound up his head, which was very much bruised,
and helped him into the wagon again, and set him at the


bottom of it, while I supported his head between rny hands,
and the man led the horses softly home. I sent presently
for Mr. Harper, who took a good quantity of blood from
him ; and then he began to feel pain in several parts, par-
ticularly in his side and shoulder. He had a very ill
night, but on Saturday morning Mr. Harper came again to
him, dressed his head, and gave him something which
much abated the pain in his side. We repeated the dose
at bedtime, and on Whitsunday he preached twice, and
gave the sacrament, which was too much for him to do ;
but nobody could dissuade him from it. On Monday he
was ill ; slept almost all day. On Tuesday the gout came ;
but with two or three nights taking Batcman, it went off
again, and he has since been better than could be expect-
ed. We thought at first the wagon had gone over him ;
but it only went over his gown sleeve ; and the nails took
a little skin ofl"his knuckles, but did him no further hurt."

Thus far Mrs. Wesley. It is evident from the manner
of his fall, and the state he was in when taken up, that had
there not been timely help, he would have never breathed
more. Was there not an especial providence concerned
in preserving the life of this good man ?

The generality of English readers will wonder at horses
galloping away with a wagon ; and so should I, had I not
known those which are used in the Isle of Axholme, and
particularly about Epworth. It is a long, light, and very
narrow vehicle, with four narrow wheels, drawn by two
horses abreast ; and it is no unusual thing to drive with
these wagons at a very high trot, and not seldom at a gal-
lop, when going to the harvest-fields.

This letter, the original of M'hich is before me, seems to
have been carefully preserved by Mr. John Wesley, as a
record of God's mercy in the preservation of his father's
life. He had indorsed it thus : — " My Fathcr''s Fall."

Hard pressed as Mr. Samuel Wesley was in his circum-
stances, he was naturally a humane man, and was always on
the alert where benevolence was concerned. The follow-
ing letters are illustrative of this trait in his character: —

"Epicorth, March 27, 1733.
"Mr. Porter, — Dorothy Whitehead, widow, lately died
here, leaving four small children, and all about her house


not sufficient to bury her, as you will see by the oatli of
her executor added to the will ; for a will she would have
to dispose of a few roods of land, lest her children should
fall out about it. It is her brother Simon Thew, the bearer,
Avho consented to be her executor, that he might take care
of her children. I gave him the oath, as you will see, as
strictly as I could, and am satisfied it is all exactly true.
They were so poor, that I forgave them what was my due
for it, and so did even my clerk for her burial. If there be
any little matter due for the probate of the will, I entreat
and believe you will be as low as possible ; wherein you
know your charity will be acceptable to God, and will
much oblige your ready friend,

" Sam. Wesley.

" P. S. I hope you have received of the apparitor two
guineas more, which I sent you by him some time since for
two licenses, which is all I have parted with since the former ;
being too weak myself (I doubt) to be at the visitation."

''Epworth, May 14, 1734.
" Mr. Stephenson, — As soon as I heard from John
Brown that your kinswoman Stephenson had writ to you
for her son Timothy, and that you had desired her to send
for him up, I did not need any to compliment me with de-
siring my advice or assistance in it ; but because it was a
charitable action, and I knew the widow was not able to
iit him out herself, having been left indifferently with three
children besides him, and yet has not hitherto been burden-
some to any, I spoke to several of my best parishioners —
Mr. John Maw, Mr. Barnard, and others, that we might be
as kind to him as we have been to others who have been
put apprentices at the public charge, which could be done
but meanly at £5, according as you proposed it, though his
mother should be able to scratch for a few shoes and stock-
ings besides for him. I went twice on your account and
his to a public meeting at the church on this occasion, be-
fore I had seen the mother or the boy. But the highest
sum we could bring our people to, in order to make a man
of liim, was no more than three pounds, which I knew was
far short of the matter. The same day, being Sunday last,
I went and talked with Mr. John Maw and Mr. Barnard,


who were his friends before, and we resolved to make up
the rest by a private contribution among ourselves. I think
it was the next day that I sent for the lad and his mother
to my house, though I had often endeavored in vain before
to see them both. Accordingly they came, and I found he
was a lad of spirit, and that he would please you, and be
•fit for his business, as far as his strength would go; en-
couraging them both, and telUng his mother that she might
depend on five pounds, besides what she herself could do,
to set him out. This was all I could do for him in the dark,
not having seen the letters that have passed between Mr.
Hall and you about him ; and if herein I have been over-
officious, I hope you will (at the least) excuse it from
" Your obliged friend,

" Sam. Wesley.

"P. S. Mine and my wife's service and thanks to you
and yours for your civilities."

In the following year he was confined to bed, attended
by three physicians ; but what the nature of his complaint
was, does not appear. The affliction, however, was sancti-
fied to the removal of that irritability of temper into which
he was so often betrayed ; for on the receipt of his brother's
caustic letter, which I have already noticed, Mr. W., speak-
ing of himself in the third person, says, " I was a little
surprised that he did not fall into flouncing and bouncing,
as I have often seen him do on far less provocation ; which
I ascribed to a fit of sickness which he hath lately had,
and which I hope may have brought him to something of
a better mind." Mr. Richard Morgan, in a letter, dated
Feb. 17, 1733, addressed to Mr. John Wesley, says, "I
assure you, without any dissimulation or flattery, I rejoice
sincc-eiy at the recovery of the good old gentleman, your
father, and am really concerned that the scorners of the
university continue so malevolent to you." [MS. letter.]
This refers to a pamphlet which had just been published,
namely, " The Oxford Methodists ; being some Account
of a Society of Young Gentlemen in that City, so deno-
minated ; setting forth their Rise, Views, and Designs.
With some Occasional Remarks on a Letter inserted in
Fog's Journal of December 9, 1732, relating thereto. In


a Letter from a Gentleman near Oxford to his Friend in
London." Printed for J. Roberts, price 6d.

Of the settlement of Mr. Wesley's family I find little.
But the following letter relative to the person who married
his daughter Mary is worthy of insertion : —


" Wcstnwister, Jan. 14, 1733-4.

" My Lord, — The small rectory of Wroote, in the dio-
cese and county of Lincoln, adjoining to the Isle of Ax-
holme, is in the gift of the lord chancelor, and more than
seven years since was conferred on Samuel Wesley, rec-
tor of Epworth. It lies in our low levels, and is often
overflowed ; four or five years since I have had it ; and
the people have lost most or all the fruits of the earth to
that degree that it has hardly brought me in jG50 per
annum, otrmibus annis ; and some years not enough to pay
my curate there his salary of £30 a year. This living,
by your lordship's permission and favor, I would gladly
resign to one Mr. John Whitelamb, born in the neighbor-
hood of Wroote, as his father and grandfather lived in it,
when I took him from among the scholars of a charity
school, founded by one Mr. Travers, an attorney, brought
him to my house, and educated him there, where he was
ray amanuensis for four years, in transcribing my ' Dis-
sertations on the Book of Job,' now well advanced in the
press ; and drawing my maps and figures for it, as well
as we could by the light of nature. After this, I sent him
to Oxford, to my son John Wesley, fellow of Lincoln
College, under whom he made such proficiency that he
was the last summer admitted by the bishop of Oxford
into deacon's orders, and placed my curate in Epworth,
while I came up to town to expedite the printing my book.

" Since I was here, I gave consent to his marrying one
of ray seven daughters, and they are married accordingly ;
and though I can spare little more with her, yet I would
gladly give them a little glebe land at Wroote, where I am
sure they will not want springs of v/ater. But they love
the place, though I can get nobody else to reside on it.
If I do not flatter myself, he is indeed a valuable person,
of uncommon brightness, learning, piety, and indefatigable


industry ; always loyal to tlie king, zealous for the Church,
and friendly to our dissenting brethren ;* and for the truth
of this character I will be answerable to God and man.
If, therefore, your lordship will grant me the favor to let
me resign the living unto him, and please to confer it on
him, I shall always remain,

" Your lordship's most bounden, most grateful, and most
obedient servant, Samuel Wesley."-

Mary, the wife of this Mr. John Whitelamb, died of her
first child. The lord chancelor transferred the living as
requested ;t and Mr. Whitelamb was promoted to it in the
same month.

We have another notice of Mr. Whitelamb, about this
time, in a letter to Dr. Reynolds, bishop of Lincoln, from
Mr. Wesley : —

"Epu-ortk, May 2, 1734.
" My Lord, — I thank God, I got well home, and found
all well here, since which my son-in-law, Mr. Whitelamb,
is gone with his wife to reside at Wroote, and takes true
pains among the people. He designs to be^ inducted im-
mediately after visitation. At my return to Epworth,
looking a little among my people, I found there were two
strangers come hither, both of which I have discovered to
be Papists, though they come to church, and I have hopes
of making one or both of them good members of the Church
of England."

We shall hear again of young Mr. Whitelamb, as Mr.
Wesley's assistant on the Book of Job.

We have already seen that Mr. Wesley was long en-
gaged in a work that had for its object the elucidation of
the Book of Job, proposals for the printing of which were
published in 1729. From the preceding letter to the chan-

* Though the rector was "friendly" to the " Dissenters," his private sen-
timents would never allow his friendship to proceed to cordiality. " A
thousand times," says Mr. Wesley, " I have found my father's words true :
' You may have peace with the Dissenters if you do not so humor them as
to dispute with them. But if you do, they will out-face and out-lung you,
and at the end you will lie where you were at the beginning.'" From
hence, it would seem, that the friendship of policy was all that existed. —


t See Gent. Mag., Feb., vol. iv, p. 108. " Mr. Whitelamb to the rectoi-y
of Wroote, Lincolnshire." — Editor.


celor, we find it was in the press so early as the year 1732,
but was not finished before 1736. This delay was not
brooked by the subscribers, and from them he heard -of
many complaints. In a letter to a gentleman of the name ,
of Pygot, who had written to him on the subject, he vindi-
cates himself, and accounts for these delays in the follow-
ing manner : —


" Epworth, Feb. 22, 1732-3.

"Dear Sir, — Many thanks for your civil letter. I
cannot wonder that any should think long of Job's coming
out, though 'tis common in books of this nature, especially
when the author is absent from the press, and there are
so many cuts and maps in it, as must be in mine. How-
ever, I owe it to my subscribers, and indeed to myself, to
give some further account of this matter.

" Now if Job's friends have need of patience, at seeing
him lie so long on the dunghill, or, which is much the
same, the printing-house, how much more has Job himself
need of it, who is sensible his reputation sutlers more and
more by the delay of it ; though if he himself had died, as
he was lately in a very fair way to it, having been as good
as given over by three physicians, there would have been
no manner of doubt (that every subscriber would have had
his book) to any one who knows the character of my son
at Westminster. Neither can I yet be satisfied with this,
though I have already lost the use of one hand in the
service ; yet, I thank God, 7ion deficit altera, and I begin
to put it to school this day to learn to write, in order to
help its lame brother. And when it can write legibly, I
design, if it please God, for London myself this summer,
to push on the editing of it, by helping to correct the press
both in text and maps, and to frame the indexes ; more
than which I cannot do. Though there are so few sub-
scribers, very many having forgot their large promises to
assist me in it, that I hardly expect to receive one hundred
pounds clear for all my ten years' pains and labor ; if you
will be so kind as to communicate this to any of my sub-
scribers, who may fall in your way, it may perhaps give
some satisfaction to them ; however, it will be but a piece
of justice to your most obliged friend and brother,

*' Samuel Wesley."


The title of this work is, " Dissertationes in Librum
Jobi : Autore Samuel Wesley, Rectore de Epworth, in
DicEcesi Lincolniensi, fol, Lond., typis Guliehni Bowyer,

Dedicated to Queen Caroline, in the very short but
elegant manner following : —




Magn» Britannias, Franciae, et Hiberniae, Reginae


Qui Juvenis, Reginse Mari^,

Deinde provectior ^Etate Ann^,

opera sua consecravit :

Idem Senex, plusquam Septuagenarius,



By this we find that Mr. Wesley had the singular honor
of dedicating different works to three British queens in
succession. His History of the Life of Christ he dedi-
cated to Queen Mary ; his History of the Old and New
Testament, to Queen Anne ; and his Dissertations on the
Book of Job, to Queen Caroline.

When Mr. Wesley had purposed to dedicate this work
to Queen Caroline, he wrote to both his sons, Samuel and
John, relative to the proper mode of proceeding ; but, on
inquiry, they found many obstacles in the way to the royal
presence, occasioned, it appears, by some offense given by
Mr. Samuel in his satires on the ministry and their friends.
How these obstacles were at last removed we are not in-
formed ; but the queen received the work, as we have seen
above. The following letter, Avritten to Mr. Samuel while
this subject was pending, is both curious and important : —


"Epworth, Dec. 17, 1730.
"Dear Son, — On Wednesday last, the 15th instant, I
had yours of the 11th and r2th, which has made me pretty
quiet in reference to my dedication, as indeed my heart
was never violently set upon it before, or I hope on any-
thing else in this world. I find it stuck where I always
boded it would, as in the words of your brother in yours,


when you waited on him with my letter and addressed him
on the occasion. 'The short answer I received was this,
it was utterly impossible to obtain leave on my account ;
you had the misfortune to be my father ; and I had a long
bill against M n.'

" I guess at the particulars, that you have let your wit
too loose against some favorites, which is often more highly
resented, and harder to be pardoned, than if you had done
it against greater persons. It seems then that original sin
goes sometimes upward as well as downward ; and we
must suffer for our offspiing. Though, notwithstanding
this disappointment, owing, I doubt not, to some miscon-
duct, I shall never think it ' a misfortune to have been your
father.' I am sensible it would avail little for me to plead,
in proof of my loyalty, the having written and printed the
first thing that appeared in defense of the government after
the accession of King William and Queen Mary to the
crown, (which was an answer to a speech without doors ;)
and I wrote a great many little pieces more, both in prose
and verse, with the same view ; and that I ever had the
most tender affection and deepest veneration for my sove-
reign and the royal family, on which account it is no secret
to you, though it is to most others, that I have undergone
the most sensible pains and inconveniences of my whole
life, and that for a great many years together ; and yet
have still, I thank God, retained my integrity firm and im-
movable, till I have conquered at the last. I must confess,
I had the (I hope at the least) pardonable vanity (when I
had dedicated two books before to two of our English
queens, Queen Mary and Queen Anne) to desire to inscribe
a third, which has cost me ten times as much labor as all
the rest, to her gracious majesty, Queen Caroline, who, I
have heard, is an encourager of learning. And this work,
I am sure, needs a royal encouragement, whether or no it
may deserve it. Neither would I yet despair of it, had I
any friend who would fairly represent that and me to her
majesty. Be that as it pleaseth Him in whose hands are
the hearts of all the princes upon earth ; and he turneth
them whithersoever he pleases.

" If we have not subscriptions enough for the cuts, as
proposed, we must be content to lower our sails again, and
to have only the maps, the picture of Job, which I must


have at the beginning, and some few others. The family,
I thank God, is all well, as is your affectionate father,
"Sam. Wesley, Sen."

Before the work was put to press, Mr. Wesley had the
opportunity of consulting the library of the marquis of
Rockingham, at Wentworth House. For this purpose he
took his son, Mr. John Wesley, with him, to aid him in
his researches, and to assist him in transcribing such ex-
tracts as might be valuable to the work. This circum-
stance is thus noticed by Mr. Everett, in his " Sketches
of Methodism in Sheffield :" — " Mr. Wesley," says he,
"was on a visit to Wentworth House, in 1733, with his
father, who was then engaged with a literary work, (Dis-
sertationes in Librum Jobi,) and found it necessary to con-
sult the library of the marquis. Their stay being prolonged
over the sabbath day, Mj:. John Wesley occupied the pulpit
in Wentworth churcli, to the no ^lall gratification of the
parishioners. What tended to excite more than usual at-
tention was, that the preacher was a stranger, the son of
a venerable clergyman, and had his father as a hearer."
This fact Mr. Everett had from the lips of a person who
heard Mr. John Wesley on the occasion. It appears from
Thorseby's Diary, that the rector of Epworth occasionally
visited Leeds also. " I was visited to-day," says that
writer, " by the noted poet, Mr. Wesley, then at Alderman
Rooke's.." I shall here add a letter from Mr. Samuel
Wesley to General Oglethorpe, as it shows the state of
forwardness in which this work was the following year.
It is dated

"Ejncorth, July Q, 1734.
" Honored Sir, — May I be admitted, while such crowds
of our nobility and gentry are pouring in their congratula-
tions, to press with my poor mite of thanks into the pre-
sence of one who so well deserves the title of universal
benefactor to mankind ? It is not only your valuable favors
on many accounts to my son, late of Westminster, and
myself, when I was not a little pressed in the world, nor
your more extensive and generous charity to the poor pri-
soners ; it is not this only that so much demands my
warmest acknowledgments, as your disinterested and im-


movable attachment to your country, and your raising a
new country, or rather a little world of your own, in the
midst of almost wild woods and uncultivated deserts, where
men may live free and happy, if they are not hindered by
their own stupidity and folly, in spite of the unkindness of
their brother mortals. Neither ought I ever to forget your
singular goodness to my little scholar and parishioner, and
creditor too, John Lyndal ; for since he went over I have
received some money for him, whereof I sent him the ac-
count in my last, both of jClO I have paid for him, and
what still remains in my hands for his order, it seeming
necessary that he should make a slip hither into Lincoln-
shire, if you could spare him for a fortnight or a month, to
settle his affairs here with his father's creditors, which I
hope he may now nearly do, and then he will have a clear
estate left, I think about £6 a year, to dispose of as he
pleases. I hope he has behaved with such faithfulness
and industry since he hSs had the honor and happiness of
waiting upon you, as not to have forfeited the favor of so
good a master.

" I owe you, sir, besides this, some account of my little
affairs, since the beginning of your expedition. Notwith-
standing my own and my son's violent illness, which held
me half a year,* and him above a twelvemonth, I have

Online LibraryAdam ClarkeMemoirs of the Wesley family : collected principally from original documents → online text (page 24 of 62)