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Chapter 12

1. From the Rev. Samuel Wesley to his son John, at Christ Church, Oxford.

Wroote, January 5, 1725.

Dear Son,

Your brother will receive 5 pounds for you next Saturday, if Mr. S. is paid the 10 pounds he lent you; if not, I must go to H. But I promise you I shan't forget that you are my son, if you do not that I am:

Your affectionate father,
Samuel Wesley.

2. From the same to the same.

Wroote, January 26, 1725.

Dear Son,

I am so well pleased with your decent behaviour, or at least with your letters, that I hope I shall not have occasion to remember any more some things that are past; and since you have now for some time bit upon the bridle, I'll take care hereafter to put a little honey upon it as oft as I am able. But then it shall be of my own mero motu, as the last 5 pound was; for I will bear no rivals in my kingdom.

I did not forget you with Dr. Morley, but have moved that way as much as possible; though I must confess, hitherto, with no great prospect or hopes of success. As for what you mention of entering into Holy Orders, it is indeed a great work; and I am pleased to find you think it so, as well as that you do not admire a callow clergyman any more than I do.

And now the providence of God (I hope it was) has engaged me in such a work wherein you may be very assistant to me, I trust promote His glory and at the same time notably forward your own studies; for I have some time since designed an edition of the Holy Bible, in octavo, in the Hebrew, Chaldee, Septuagint and Vulgar Latin, and have made some progress in it: the whole scheme whereof I have not time at present to give you, of which scarce any soul yet knows except your brother Sam.

What I desire of you in this article is, firstly, that you would immediately fall to work, read diligently the Hebrew text in the Polyglot, and collate it exactly with the Vulgar Latin, which is in the second column, writing down all (even the least) variations or differences between them. To these I would have you add the Samaritan text in the last column but one, which is the very same with the Hebrew, except in some very few places, only differing in the Samaritan character (I think the true old Hebrew), the alphabet whereof you may learn in a day's time, either from the Prolegomena in Walton's Polyglot, or from his grammar. In a twelvemonth's time, sticking close to it in the forenoons, you will get twice through the Pentateuch; for I have done it four times the last year, and am going over it the fifth, collating the Hebrew and two Greek, the Alexandrian and the Vatican, with what I can get of Symmachus and Theodotian, etc. Nor shall you lose your reward for it, either in this or the other world.

In the afternoon read what you will, and be sure to walk an hour, if fair, in the fields. Get Thirlby's Chrysostom De Sacerdotio; master it--digest it. I like your verses on Psalm lxxxv., and would not have you bury your talent. All are well and send duties.

Work and write while you can. You see Time has shaken me by the hand, and Death is but a little behind him. My eyes and heart are now almost all I have left; and bless God for them. I am not for your going over-hastily into Orders. When I am for your taking them, you shall know it.

Your affectionate father,
Sam. Wesley.

3. From Mrs. Wesley to her son John.

February 25th, 1725.

Dear Jackey,

I was much pleased with your letter to your father about taking Orders, and like the proposal well; but it is an unhappiness almost peculiar to our family that your father and I seldom think alike. I approve the disposition of your mind and think the sooner you are a deacon the better, because it may be an inducement to greater application in the study of practical divinity, which I humbly conceive is the best study for candidates for Orders. Mr. Wesley differs from me, and would engage you (I believe) in critical learning; which, though accidentally of use, is in no wise preferable to the other. I dare advise nothing: God Almighty direct and bless you! I long to see you. We hear nothing of Hetty, which gives us some uneasiness. We have all writ, but can get no answer. I wish all be well. Adieu.

Susanna Wesley.

4. From the Rev. Samuel Wesley to his son John.

Wroote, March 13, 1724-5.

Dear Son,

I have both yours, and have changed my mind since my last. I now incline to your going this summer into Orders. But in the first place, if you love yourself or me, pray heartily. I will struggle hard but I will get money for your Orders, and something more. Mr. Downes has spoken to Mr. Morley about you, who says he will inquire of your character.

"Trust in the Lord, and do good, and verily thou shalt be fed." This, with blessing, from your loving father,

Samuel Wesley.

5. From Emilia Wesley to her brother John.

Wroote, April 7th, 1725.

Dear Brother,

Yours of March 7th I received, and thank you for your care in despatching so speedily the business I desired you to do. It is the last of that kind I shall trouble you with. No more shall I write or receive letters to and from that person. But lest you should run into a mistake and think we have quarrelled, I assure you we are perfect friends; we think, wish and judge alike, but what avails it? We are both miserable. He has not differed with my mother, but she loves him not, because she esteems him the unlucky cause of a deep melancholy in a beloved child. For his own sake it is that I cease writing, because it is now his interest to forget me.

Whether you will be engaged before thirty or not, I cannot determine; but if my advice be worth listening to, never engage your affections before your worldly affairs are in such a position that you may marry very soon. The contrary practice has proved very pernicious in our family; and were I to live my time over again, and had the same experience as I have now, were it for the best man in England, I would not wait one year. I know you are a young man, encompassed with difficulties, that has passed through many hardships already, and probably must pass through many more before you are easy in the world; but, believe me, if ever you come to suffer the torment of a hopeless love, all other afflictions will seem small in comparison of it. And that you may not think I speak at random, take some account of my past life, more than ever I spoke to anyone.

After the fire, when I was seventeen years old, I was left alone with my mother, and lived easy for one year, having most necessaries, though few diversions, and never going abroad. Yet after working all day I read some pleasant book at night, and was contented enough; but after we were gotten into our house, and all the family were settled, in about a year's time I began to find out that we were ruined. Then came on London journeys, Convocations of blessed memory, that for seven years my father was at London, and we at home in intolerable want and affliction. Then I learnt what it was to seek money for bread, seldom having any without such hardships in getting it that much abated the pleasure of it. Thus we went on, growing worse and worse; all us children in scandalous want of necessaries for years together; vast income, but no comfort or credit with it. Then I went to London with design to get into some service, failed of that, and grew acquainted with Leybourne. Ever after that I lived in close correspondence with him. When anything grieved me, he was my comforter; and what though our affairs grew no better, yet I was tolerably easy, thinking his love sufficient recompense for the absence of all other worldly comforts. Then ill fate, in the shape of a near relation, laid the groundwork of my misery, and--joined with my mother's command and my own indiscretion-broke the correspondence between him and I [sic].

That dismal winter I shall ever remember; my mother was sick, confined even to her bed, my father in danger of arrests every day. I had a large family to keep, and a small sum to keep it on; and yet in all this care the loss of Leybourne was heaviest. For nearly half a year I never slept half a night, and now, provoked at all my relations, resolved never to marry. Wishing to be out of their sight, I began first to think of going into the world. A vacancy happening in Lincoln boarding school, I went thither; and though I had never so much as seen one before, I fell readily into that way of life; and I was so pleased to see myself in good clothes, with money in my pocket, and respected in a strange manner by everyone, that I seemed gotten into another world.

Here I lived five years and should have done longer, but the school broke up; and my father having got Wroote living, my mother was earnest for my return. I was told what pleasant company was at Bawtry, Doncaster, etc., and that this addition to my father, with God's ordinary blessing, would make him a rich man in a few years. I came home again, in an evil hour for me. I was well clothed, and, while I wanted nothing, was easy enough. But this winter, when my own necessaries began to decay and my money was most of it spent, I found what a condition I was in--every trifling want was either not supplied, or I had more trouble to procure it than it was worth.

I know not when we have had so good a year, both at Wroote and Epworth, as this year; but instead of saving anything to clothe my sister or myself, we are just where we were. A noble crop has almost all gone, beside Epworth living, to pay some part of those infinite debts my father has run into, which are so many (as I have lately found out) that were he to save 50 pounds a year he would not be clear in the world this seven years. One thing I warn you of: let not my giving you this account be any hindrance to your affairs. If you want assistance in any case, my father is as able to give it now as any time these last ten years; nor shall we be ever the poorer for it. We enjoy many comforts. We have plenty of good meat and drink, fuel, etc.; have no duns, nor any of that tormenting care to provide bread which we had at Epworth. In short, could I lay aside all thoughts of the future, and be content with three things, money, liberty, and clothes, I might live very comfortably. While my mother lives I am inclined to stay with her; she is so very good to me, and has so little comfort in the world beside, that I think it barbarous to abandon her. As soon as she is in heaven, or perhaps sooner if I am quite tired out, I have fully fixed on a state of life; a way indeed that my parents may disapprove, but that I do not regard. And now:

          "Let Emma's hapless case be falsely told
           By the rash young, or the ill-natured old."

You, that know my hard fortune, I hope will never hastily condemn me for anything I shall be driven to do by stress of fortune that is not directly sinful. As for Hetty, we have heard nothing of her these three months past. Mr. Grantham, I hear, has behaved himself very honourably towards her, but there are more gentlemen besides him in the world.

I have quite tired you now. Pray be faithful to me. Let me have one relation I can trust: never give any hint to anyone of aught I write to you: and continue to love,

Your unhappy but affectionate sister,
Emilia Wesley.

6. From the Rev. Samuel Wesley to his son John.

Wroote, May 10, 1725.

Dear Son,--Your brother Samuel, with his wife and child, are here. I did what I could that you might have been in Orders this Trinity; but I doubt your brother's journey hither has, for the present, disconcerted our plans, though you will have more time to prepare yourself for Ordination, which I pray God you may, as I am your loving father,

Samuel Wesley.

7. From Mrs. Wesley to her son John.

Wroote, June 8th, 1725.

Dear Son,

I have Kempis by me; but have not read him lately. I cannot recollect the passages you mention; but believing you do him justice, I do positively aver that he is extremely wrong in that impious, I was about to say blasphemous, suggestion that God, by an irreversible decree, has determined any man to be miserable, even in this world. His intentions, as Himself, are holy, just and good; and all the miseries incident to men here or thereafter spring from themselves.

Your brother has brought us a heavy reckoning for you and Charles. God be merciful to us all! Dear Jack, I earnestly beseech Almighty God to bless you. Adieu.

Susanna Wesley.

8. From the Rev. Samuel Wesley to his son John.

Bawtry, September 1st, 1725.

Dear Son,

I came hither to-day because I cannot be at rest till I make you easier. I could not possibly manufacture any money for you here sooner than next Saturday. On Monday I design to wait on Dr. Morley, and will try to prevail with your brother to return you 8 pounds with interest. I will assist you in the charges for Ordination, though I am just now struggling for life. This 8 pounds you may depend on the next week, or the week after.

S. Wesley.

9. From the same to the same.

Gainsborough, Sept. 7th, 1725.

Dear Son John,

With much ado, you see I am for once as good as my word. Carry Dr. Morley's note to the bursar. I hope to send you more, and, I believe, by the same hand. God fit you for your great work. Fast--watch--pray--endure--be happy; towards which you shall never want the ardent prayers of your affectionate father,

S. Wesley.

On Sunday, September 19th, 1725, John Wesley, being twenty-two years old, was ordained deacon by Dr. John Potter, Bishop of Oxford, in Christ Church Cathedral.


Arthur Quiller-Couch