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George early manifested a predilection for the sea, and his elder
brother encouraged him in thinking he might attain distinction as a
gallant mariner. A midshipman's berth was procured for him, at the age
of fifteen, on board of one of his majesty's ships, then off the coast
of Virginia; and it seemed as if the ardent desire of his boyhood was
about to be realized. But when all was ready, his mother gave expression
to her disapproval of the expedition. Though sorely disappointed, he at
once acquiesced, and yielded to the representations made by her. Nor did
she expect him to give a ready acquiescence to her views without giving
him valid reasons. She deemed him quite too young to be removed from the
salutary restraints of home, and from the influences of its dearer
ties. Years after, the colonists of Virginia and the North-west blessed
the day upon which Mrs. Washington refused her consent to her son's
entering the navy, and thus kept him to do them invaluable service in
driving back from their territories the hostile Indians, or more hostile
French. Though a genuine F.F.V., she was never arrogant in her demeanor.
In her intercourse with those by whom she was surrounded, or with whom
she came in contact, she was simple and unaffected, the model of a true
lady and a Christian.

Even in old age, she still watched carefully over the interests of her
son. During the Winter of 1777-1778, when the American soldiers were in
such extremity at Valley Forge, she, as well as the wife of Washington,
spent her time in preparing comfortable clothing for them. Her
spinning-wheel and knitting-needles were rarely idle in those times of
trial. A woman of proper discernment and good judgment, it is scarcely
necessary to say that she disapproved of extravagance of every kind; and
when the necessities of her country demanded the sacrifice of every
thing not an absolute necessity, she was found foremost in setting an
example of plainness of dress.

Lafayette, with his aids-de-camp, paid her a visit of congratulation on
the occasion of Washington's successful passage of the Delaware, and
found her dressed for their reception in a plain printed gown, with her
knitting - probably a stocking for some needy soldier - lying on a table
near her. Did the noble Frenchman and his companions deem their
reception to have been less cordial than they would have thought it had
she arrayed herself in costly satin and lace, and received them in idle
state? Lafayette's own testimony of his appreciation of her remarkable
worth answers for itself.

At a good old age she died, and her country still reveres her memory.


Taylor, the historian, gives Mrs. Wesley quite a prominent position in
his account of the work accomplished by her sons, and gives the
following reason for doing so: "The mother of the Wesleys was the mother
of Methodism." One who was so intimately connected with the leaders of
the Reformation of the eighteenth century deserves a prominent position
among the eminent women of modern history.

Mrs. Wesley was distinguished, from childhood, for rare mental ability;
and, even at so early an age as thirteen, had made theology a favorite
study. Arrived at mature years, she made practical use of the knowledge
so carefully acquired in youth, and manifested unusual judgment and
skill in the early training and general management of her very large
family. She did not confine herself to the management of her domestic
concerns alone, as many good mothers would have done, though she
carefully superintended them, but also overlooked the studies of her
children; and it was really her thorough training, and her subsequent
counsels to John and Charles while at Oxford, which produced in them the
bent of mind that finally resulted in the great Methodist movement.

Accustomed all her life to read with care the productions of the most
eminent writers of her own and preceding times, and to reflect upon what
she read, she was able to arrive at correct conclusions concerning
questions of importance, whether they related to private matters or to
the public well-being. She had no more dread of Mrs. Grundy than her
sons had. Once she knew she was right, "Society" might either blame or
praise, as it saw fit; she remained firm in the carrying out of the
measure - true to her principles.

When her sons, John and Charles, collected the common and poorer people
about them, and began preaching to them in the open fields, there was a
fearful outcry. Old-time customs had been innovated. Clergymen of the
Church of England had departed from accustomed usage, and from field or
horseblock had proclaimed a full and free salvation through Christ to
the very vilest of the land, if they would but comply with the
conditions laid down by him. The Profession were aggrieved at such
irregular proceedings. "Society" was scandalized that outcasts were
bidden to the same feast upon the same conditions with those reputed
decent. Even Samuel Wesley felt called upon to rebuke his brothers
sharply for the reproach he considered they had brought upon the Church
by their "intemperate zeal," But where was their mother meanwhile - she
whose counsels experience had proved it best to follow? Examining the
Scriptures, and the history of the primitive Church, to see wherein her
sons had gone astray, that she might be in a position to convince them
of their error, if she found them to be in it. Careful study, however,
convinced her that they were only practicing the course followed by
Christ and his apostles; and her determination was taken. She would not
only encourage them by her letters, but sustain them and sanction their
course by her presence. Accordingly, she went with her son John to
Kensington Common, and stood by him while he preached to a congregation
of about "twenty thousand people."

It was Mrs. Wesley who counseled John to ponder well what he did before
he forbade laymen to address congregations; and her arguments on this
point were so conclusive that they led him to alter his mind and make
use of them as an agency for good in the Church, though previously he
had considered such a proceeding a dangerous innovation.

During the life-time of her husband, it was her custom, in his absence,
to allow those who chose to come to assemble in a room of the old
rectory at Epworth, on Sunday, and either read them a sermon herself or
have one of the elder children do it. Frequently, the office of reader
devolved upon her daughter Emily.

No matter into what department of her life you inquire, she is still
found the same active, energetic, and strong-minded woman. Nothing weak
or puerile is found in her character. From girlhood to maturity, from
maturity to gray hairs, she pursues the same steady, uniform course. Her
life is consistent with the principles which she had laid down for her
own self-government, and which she believed were deduced from the Word
of God.

At seventy-two years of age, she closed a long career of usefulness,
dying, as the Christian might be expected to die, in the triumphs of
faith. Five of her daughters, and her son John, were permitted to stand
at her bedside and witness her peaceful end, and to comply with a
request made shortly before she died, that, as soon as the last struggle
was ended, they should unite in singing a psalm of praise for her

Very appropriate were the lines of her son Charles on this occasion:

"In sure and steadfast hope to rise,
And claim her mansion in the skies,
A Christian here her flesh laid down -
The cross exchanging for a crown."


Miss Mary Bosanquet, afterward Mrs. Fletcher, may also be numbered among
the great women of the eighteenth century. While yet unmarried, she
identified herself with the Methodists; and as a consequence was
subjected to bitter persecution, even to being excluded from her
father's house, and forbidden to have any intercourse with the younger
members of the family.

Circumstances led her to believe that it was her duty to exercise the
talents given to her, in addressing public audiences, and she
accordingly began speaking to such congregations as she chanced to have.
Such a departure from established usage brought down upon her a storm of
invective and abuse. Her family and friends felt aggrieved that she
should have allowed her enthusiasm - as they termed it - to lead her into
what they deemed such an indecorous proceeding; and for a time she found
it exceedingly difficult to stem the tide of opposition raised against
her. But her natural good sense and independence of character were
greatly in her favor. Ultimately, without her having yielded to the
pressure brought to bear upon her, she overcame all opposition, and her
family became reconciled to her.

She preached in various parts of England with acceptance, as she had
opportunity, from shortly after her conversion till her marriage; and
then, as it would have been a violation of a canon of the Church of
England - of which Mr. Fletcher was a minister - for a woman to occupy the
pulpit of the church at Madeley, her husband had a large building
erected, in close proximity to the rectory, for her especial use. Here,
for the few years that he was spared to his wife, it was Mr. Fletcher's
pleasure - though he had few equals in erudition - to listen to the gentle
teachings of this amiable woman. Her eloquence was so very remarkable,
that more than twenty years of public speaking had not in the least
diminished the interest with which she was listened to. Crowds attended
on her ministry, not from idle curiosity, but for edification.

So beneficial had Mrs. Fletcher's ministrations at Madeley been found to
be, that on the death of her husband, and the appointment of a
successor, the new rector, not wishing to retard the progress of true
Christianity in his parish, requested her to continue to use the
building erected for her convenience just as she had formerly done. Mrs.
Fletcher accepted the invitation so cordially given, and for many years
was an efficient co-laborer with the rector.

Nor did the public career of Mrs. Fletcher mar her efficiency in the
management of her domestic concerns. Both at Laytonstone and at Madeley,
she attended carefully to her household, overseeing every thing
connected with what is technically termed the women's department, with
particular scrupulousness. At last her long and active life was nearing
its close. For thirty years she had mourned the loss of her venerated
husband, of whom, in her seventy-sixth year, she thus makes mention in
her journal:

"_August_ 13, 1815. - Thirty years, this day, I drank the bitter cup and
closed the eyes of my beloved husband, and now I am myself in a dying
state." Then, in view of her own approaching end, she continues: "Lord,
prepare me. I feel death very near. My soul doth wait and long to the
bosom of my God." A little earlier in this year she had written: "O, I
long that the year fifteen [1815] may be the best year of my life." With
the great apostle she could say, "Having a desire to depart, and be with
Christ." And now she was realizing the fulfillment of that longing
desire. Her labors were about ended. Soon she was to enter into the
Christian's promised rest. On the 9th of December, 1815, she closed her
eyes to sublunary objects to open them in the paradise above. Rev. Mr.
Dodson, who attended her funeral, said of her: "Her congregations were
fully as large, after thirty years' labors, as when she first opened her
commission among them."

Where is the clergyman of whom more can be said?


While Miss Bosanquet was still living at Laytonstone, she had associated
with her two other ladies equally eminent for their earnest piety, and
for the diligence with which they prosecuted every good work. It was
their delight, among other things, to assist Miss Bosanquet in
dispensing her munificent charities, which were so managed as to be
given without ostentation. These two intimate friends of Miss Bosanquet
were Miss Crosby and Miss Tripp. From the very commencement of a
regularly organized movement among the Methodists, class and band
meetings had been found very useful as a means of instructing the people
who had united with these societies, and, in the capacity of
class-leaders and band-leaders, these three ladies were perhaps
unsurpassed in England.

By what some would perhaps call a mere accidental circumstance, Miss
Crosby found herself, upon an occasion, in a position where she must
speak to a congregation or send them home disappointed, and be guilty of
what she deemed an omission of a duty clearly pointed out to her by
Providence. She had given no intimation of any intention, on her part,
of doing more than she usually did at this place - simply leading her
ordinary class - and had designed doing nothing more, when, on her
arrival there, she found nearly two hundred persons present anxious for
instruction. To lead the class in the customary manner was impossible.
She, therefore, after conducting the preliminary services, delivered a
general address, dwelling particularly on the necessity of repentance,
and presenting Christ as a compassionate Redeemer. This extempore
address was attended with such beneficial results, that her friends
insisted upon her exercising her very evident talent in this direction,
and, though averse to any thing like forwardness, she did not feel that
she was justified in refusing to comply with the wishes of those on
whose judgment she relied. Wherever she went, success attended her
efforts, and she traveled extensively throughout the kingdom, speaking
sometimes to very large audiences.

Dr. Stevens, the celebrated American Methodist historian, thus sums up
the work of a single year. "In that time," says he, "she traveled nine
hundred and sixty miles to hold two hundred and twenty public meetings,
and about six hundred select meetings, besides writing one hundred and
sixteen letters, many of them long ones, and holding many conversations
in private with individuals who wished to consult her on religious
subjects." In this latter department of the Christian ministry she
particularly excelled.

Like her friend, Mrs. Fletcher, she lived to a very old age; and at
seventy-five, or nearly that, calmly composed herself for death, by a
vigorous effort of the will closing her own eyes and mouth. Her demise
occurred October 24, 1804.


The first wife of the Rev. Adoniram Judson was a brilliant
exemplification of the truth of the position we have advanced - namely,
that a woman may be endowed with intellectual powers of a high order;
that she may assiduously cultivate those powers and employ them in
advancing objects that commend themselves to her judgment outside of her
own family circle; that she may become an active and efficient
participator in affairs of a public nature, requiring of her wisdom,
eloquence, and courage; and all this without her deteriorating in the
slightest degree in any of the valuable qualities or attractive graces
that characterize a truly womanly woman.

Mrs. Judson's history, as connected with the Burmese Mission, which her
husband and herself were instruments in the hand of God in
establishing, is too well known to require extended notice here. A few
points, however, may be glanced at. Throughout the difficulties which
beset them during the first year after their arrival at Calcutta, when
there seemed to be no open door through which they might enter upon
their destined work, and all their hopes of usefulness seemed doomed to
disappointment, Mrs. Judson was as little disposed to succumb to these
adverse circumstances as her husband.

The British East India Company did not favor Christian missions, and
were at that time (1812) particularly unfriendly to American
missionaries. They had spent but a few days in the congenial society of
the venerable Dr. Carey's hospitable home, when they were ordered, by
the Government, to leave the country and return to America. Hoping to be
allowed to prosecute their work in some country not under the Company's
jurisdiction, they solicited and obtained permission to go to the Isle
of France. But before Mr. and Mrs. Judson were able to secure a passage
there, they received a new order from the Government commanding them to
embark on a vessel bound for England.

Just then they heard of a vessel about to sail for the Isle of France,
and applied for a passport to go on her, but were refused. The captain,
however, though knowing of the refusal, allowed them to embark. The
vessel was overtaken by a Government dispatch, forbidding the pilot to
conduct it further seaward, because there were persons on board who had
been ordered to England. They were obliged to land; but finally the
captain was induced to disregard orders so far as to allow Mrs. Judson
to return to the vessel, and to convey her and their baggage to a point
opposite a tavern, a number of miles down the river, Mr. Judson being
left to make his way as best he could.

Let us imagine that refined and tenderly reared lady, landing from the
pilot's boat, which he had kindly sent to take her ashore, alone, a
stranger in a foreign land, uncertain of the character of the place in
which she was obliged to seek shelter, and not knowing what might occur
to prevent her husband rejoining her. Instead of weakly yielding to
despondency, she promptly engaged a boat to go out after the vessel, to
bring their effects ashore. Then, though impenetrable darkness so
shrouded their future that she could not see how the next step was to be
taken, she looked for light upon their pathway, and deliverance from
their perplexities, to Him whom they served, and calmly trusted the
issue to Him. Before night, Mr. Judson arrived at the place where his
wife waited, in safety, as did also their baggage.

For three days they could see no way out of their difficulty. Then they
received, from an unknown friend, the necessary pass. Hastening down the
river at a point seventy miles distant, they found the vessel they had
left, were received on board, and allowed to continue their voyage.

When they dropped anchor at the Isle of France, the dangers of the
voyage, and the trials that had preceded it over, they were looking
forward to a season of enjoyment in the society of their associate
missionaries, Mr. and Mrs. Newell, who had accompanied them on the
voyage from America, and had preceded them from Calcutta to the Isle of
France. But disappointment deeper, sadder than any that had gone before,
awaited them. Mrs. Judson says: "Have at last arrived in port; but O,
what news - what distressing news! Harriet (Mrs. Newell) is dead.
Harriet, my dear friend, my earliest associate in the mission, is no
more. O death, could not this wide world afford thee victims enough, but
thou must enter the family of a solitary few, whose comfort and
happiness depended so much on the society of each other? Could not this
infant mission be shielded from thy shafts?" "But be still, my heart,
and know that God has done it. Just and true are thy ways, O thou King
of saints!"

To her sorrow for her friend and her anxiety at the uncertainties of
their situation, was added, while on the island, a severe attack of
illness. But when a field supposed to be accessible to missionaries was
determined upon, though only partially recovered, she cheerfully
prepared to brave new dangers and the repetition of former trials. They
sailed for Madras; and, on their arrival there, found but one ship in
the harbor ready for sea, and that not bound for their desired port, but
for Burma. They had intended going to Burma when they first arrived in
India, but had been dissuaded from so doing by the representations of
their friends that the country was altogether inaccessible to
missionaries. They dared not remain long in Madras, lest the officials
of the East India Company should send them back to America. Thus, every
other way being closed up against them, they were obliged to turn their
faces toward that country in which they became so eminently useful.

The voyage was one of discomfort and peril. When they arrived at
Rangoon, then the capital of Burma, Mrs. Judson was so weak that she had
to be carried in an arm-chair from the landing. Thankful to have at last
found a resting-place, they as quickly as possible established
themselves in the house they were to occupy.

As soon as Mrs. Judson's health was sufficiently restored, they gave
their attention to the study of the Burmese language. It is worthy of
remark, that although Mrs. Judson charged herself with the entire
management of family affairs, in order that Mr. Judson might not be
interrupted in prosecuting the study of the language, yet she made more
rapid progress in acquiring it than he did. Subsequently, she studied
the Siamese language also, and translated a Catechism and one of the
Gospels into that tongue. As soon as she was able to make herself
understood, she diligently endeavored to impart the knowledge of the
truth, as it is in Jesus, to those who would listen to her instructions.
Though they were attentive and inquisitive, it was long before fruit
appeared; but undiscouraged, she, with prayer and faith, continued to
sow beside all waters.

Mrs. Judson was surprised at the native intelligence and reflecting
minds possessed by some of the Burmese women. The case of a woman named
May-Meulah is given as an instance of this:

"Previous to the arrival of the missionaries in her country, her active
mind was led to inquire the origin of all things. Who created all that
her eyes beheld? she inquired of all she met, and visited priests and
teachers in vain; and such was her anxiety, that her friends feared for
her reason. She resolved to learn to read, that she might consult the
sacred books. Her husband, willing to gratify her curiosity, taught her
to read, himself. In their sacred literature she found nothing
satisfactory. For ten years she prosecuted her inquiries, when God in
his providence brought to her notice a tract written by Mr. Judson in
the Burmese language, which so far solved her difficulties, that she was
led to seek out its author. From him she learned the truths of the
Gospel, and, by the Holy Spirit, those truths were made the means of her

Mrs. Judson's politic mind seeing the probable importance to the mission
of making friends in high places, she procured an introduction to the
wife of the viceroy, and, while visiting her, met the viceroy also.
After giving an interesting account of the visit, she adds: "My object
in visiting her was, that if we should get into any difficulty with the
Burmans, I could have access to her, when perhaps it would not be
possible for Mr. Judson to have an audience with the viceroy."

Thus studying, teaching, and planning; laboring with her hands, and
enduring pain, sickness, and sorrow; unsolaced by Christian society,
except her husband's, - three anxious years passed.

In their course, her first-born had come to warm her heart with a new
love, and, for a few brief months, to delight them with the unfolding of
his baby graces. Then death entered, and bore away their darling, and
left hearts and home more lonely than before.

The arrival of additional missionaries from America - Mr. and Mrs.
Hough - in the Autumn of 1816, for a time greatly cheered and encouraged
them. But fresh trials were in store for them. Mr. Judson had embarked
for the province of Arracan; and when they were daily looking for his
return, a vessel arrived from the port to which he had sailed, bringing
the disheartening tidings that neither he nor the vessel in which he had
sailed had been heard of there. While, tortured by suspense on Mr.
Judson's account, new terrors alarmed the mission family. Mr. Hough was
ordered to the court-house, and detained there for days under a threat
that "if he did not tell all the truth in relation to the foreigners,
they would write with his heart's blood." Not understanding the language
of his accusers, he was unable to plead his own cause, and he had no
male friend to do it for him. Had Mrs. Judson, in this extremity,
allowed herself to be absorbed in her own sorrow, or yielded to
timidity, Mr. Hough would probably have suffered a long and rigorous
confinement, if indeed he had escaped with his life. But undaunted by
the odium, or even danger, that might accrue to herself, she, in
violation of court etiquette, presented herself at the palace with a
petition in Mr. Hough's behalf. The viceroy, without manifesting any
displeasure at the breach of etiquette, ordered Mr. Hough to be set at

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Online LibraryThomas WebsterWoman: Man's Equal → online text (page 10 of 12)