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Chapter 28

A few words will tie together the following letters or extracts from letters. John was ordained on September 19th. A few weeks later he preached his first sermon at South Leigh, a village near Witney and but a few miles out of Oxford. He and Charles visited Wroote that Christmas, and on January 11th he preached a funeral sermon at Epworth for John Griffith, a hopeful young man, the son of one of his father's parishioners, taking for his theme 2 Samuel xii. 23, "But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me "--a text obvious enough. He returned for the beginning of the Oxford Lent Term, having had no sight of Hetty. His chances of a fellowship at Lincoln College had long been debated, and on March 17th he was elected. Meanwhile Charles had passed out of Westminster with a studentship to support him at Christ Church, the college his brother was leaving.

The first letter--from Patty--bears no date, but was written from Wroote about the time of John's ordination.

From Martha (Patty) Wesley to her brother John

Dear Brother,

I believe it is above half a year since I wrote to you, and yet, though it is so long since, you never were so good as to write to me again; and you have written several times since to my sisters, but have perfectly neglected your loving sister Martha, as if you had not known there was such a person in the world; at which I pretended to be so angry that I resolved I would never write to you more. Yet my anger soon gave way to my love, as it always does whenever I chance to be angry with you. But you only confirm me in the truth of an observation I have since made; which is, that if ever I love any person very well, and desire to be loved by them in return--as, to be sure, whoever loves desires to be loved--I always meet with unkind returns. I shall be exceedingly glad if you get the Fellowship you stand for; which if you do, I shall hope that one of the family besides my brother Sam will be provided for. I believe you very well deserve to be happy, and I sincerely wish you may be so both in this life and the next.

For my own particular I have long looked upon myself to be what the world calls ruined--that is, I believe there will never be any provision made for me, but when my father dies I shall have my choice of three things--starving, going to a common service, or marrying meanly as my sisters have done: none of which I like, nor do I think it possible for a woman to be happy with a man that is not a gentleman, for he whose mind is virtuous is alone of noble kind. Yet what can a woman expect but misery? My brother Ellison wants all but riches; my brother Lambert, I hope, has a little religion; poor brother Wright has abundance of good-nature, and, I hope, is religious; and yet sister Hetty is, I fear, entirely ruined, though it is not her husband's fault.

If you would be so good as to let me hear from you, you would add much to my satisfaction. But nothing can make me more than I am already, dear brother, your sincere friend and loving sister

Martha Wesley.

P.S.--I hope you will be so kind as to pardon the many faults in my letter. You must not expect I can write like sister Emily or sister Hetty. I hope, too, that when I have the pleasure of seeing you at Wroote you will set me some more copies, that I may not write so miserably.

From Samuel Wesley to his son John

Wroote, March 21, 1726.

Dear Mr. Fellow-Elect of Lincoln,

I have done more than I could for you. On your waiting on Dr. Morley with this he will pay you 12 pounds. You are inexpressibly obliged to that generous man. We are all as well as can be expected. Your loving father,

Samuel Wesley.

From the same to the same

Wroote, April I, 1726.

Dear son John,

I had both yours since the election. The last 12 pounds pinched me so hard that I am forced to beg time of your brother Sam till after harvest to pay him the 10 pounds that you say he lent you. Nor shall I have so much as that (perhaps not 5 pounds) to keep my family till after harvest; and I do not expect that I shall be able to do anything for Charles when he goes to the University. What will be my own fate before the summer is over God only knows. Sed passi graviora. Wherever I am, my Jack is Fellow of Lincoln. All at present from your loving father,

Samuel Wesley.

From John Wesley to his brother Samuel

Lincoln College, Oxon.,
April 4, 1726.

Dear Brother,

My father very unexpectedly, a week ago, sent me a bill on Dr. Morley for 12 pounds, which he had paid to the Rector's use at Gainsborough; so that now all my debts are paid, and I have still above 10 pounds remaining. If I could have leave to stay in the country till my college allowance commences, this money would abundantly suffice me till then.

I never knew a college besides ours whereof the members were so perfectly well satisfied with one another, and so inoffensive to the other part of the University. All the Fellows I have yet seen are both well-natured and well-bred; men admirably disposed as well to preserve peace and good neighbourhood among themselves as to preserve it wherever else they have any acquaintance. I am, etc.

John Wesley.

The next, addressed also to Sam, shows him making provision for Charles's entrance at Christ Church:

My mother's reason for my cutting off my hair is because she fancies it prejudices my health. As to my looks, it would doubtless mend my complexion to have it off, by letting me get a little more colour, and perhaps it might contribute to my making a more genteel appearance. But these, till ill health is added to them, I cannot persuade myself to be sufficient grounds for losing two or three pounds a year. I am ill enough able to spare them.

Mr. Sherman says there are garrets, somewhere in Peckwater, to be let for fifty shillings a year; that there are some honest fellows in college who would be willing to chum in one of them; and that, could my brother but find one of these garrets, and get acquainted with one of these honest fellows, he might possibly prevail on him to join in taking it; and then if he could but prevail upon some one else to give him 7 pounds a year for his own room, he would gain almost 6 pounds a year clear, if his rent were well paid. He appealed to me whether the proposal was not exceedingly reasonable? But as I could not give him such an answer as he desired, I did not choose to give him any at all.

Leisure and I have taken leave of one another. I propose to be busy as long as I live, if my health is so long indulged me. In health and sickness I hope I shall ever continue with the same sincerity, your loving brother,

John Wesley.

From Samuel Wesley to his son John

April 17, 1726.

Dear Son,

I hope Sander will be with you on Wednesday morn, with the horses, books, bags, and this. I got your mother to write the inclosed (for you see I can hardly scrawl), because it was possible it might come to hand on Tuesday; but my head was so full of cares that I forgot on Saturday last to put it into the post-house. I shall be very glad to see you, though but for a day, but much more for a quarter of a year. I think you will make what haste you can. I design to be at the "Crown," in Bawtry, on Saturday night. God bless and send you a prosperous journey to your affectionate father,

Samuel Wesley.

The day after receiving this John and Charles set out and rode down to Lincolnshire together.

Arthur Quiller-Couch