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John Wesley

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1743: Wesley Refused Sacraments at Epworth; Cornwall and the Scilly Isles

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Chapter 5. Wesley Refused Sacraments at Epworth; Cornwall and the Scilly Isles; Natural Amphitheater at Gwennap; Wesley in Danger


Saturday, January 1.—Between Doncaster and Epworth I overtook one who immediately accosted me with so many and so impertinent questions that I was quite amazed. In the midst of some of them, concerning my travels and my journey, I interrupted him and asked, "Are you aware that we are on a longer journey; that we are traveling toward eternity?" He replied instantly, "Oh, I find you! I find you! I know where you are! Is not your name Wesley? Tis pity! Tis great pity! Why could not your father's religion serve you? Why must you have anew religion?" I was going to reply, but he cut me short by crying out in triumph, "I am a Christian! I am a Christian! I am a Churchman! I am a Churchman! I am none of your Culamites"; as plainly as he could speak; for he was so drunk he could but just keep his seat. Having then clearly won the day, or as his phrase was, "put them all down," he began kicking his horse on both sides and rode off as fast as he could.

Wesley Refused the Sacrament at Epworth

In the evening I reached Epworth. Sunday, 2. At five I preached on "So is everyone that is born of the Spirit." About eight I preached from my father's tomb on Hebrews 8:11. Many from the neighboring towns asked if it would not be well, as it was sacrament Sunday, for them to receive it. I told them, "By all means: but it would be more respectful first to ask Mr. Romley, the curate's leave." One did so, in the name of the rest; to whom he said, "Pray tell Mr. Wesley, I shall not give him the sacrament; for he is not fit."

How wise a God is our God! There could not have been so fit a place under heaven where this should befall me first as my father's house, the place of my nativity, and the very place where, "according to the straitest sect of our religion," I had so long "lived a Pharisee"! It was also fit, in the highest degree, that he who repelled me from that very table, where I had myself so often distributed the bread of life, should be one who owed his all in this world to the tender love which my father had shown to his, as well as personally to himself.

Tuesday, 22.—I went to South Biddick, a village of colliers seven miles southeast of Newcastle. The spot where I stood was just at the bottom of a semicircular hill, on the rising sides of which many hundreds stood; but fare more on the plain beneath. I cried to them in the words of the prophet, "O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!" [Ezek. 37:4]. Deep attention sat on every face; so that here also I believe it would be well to preach weekly.

Wesley and the Cock-fighter

Wednesday, 23.—I met a gentleman in the streets cursing and swearing in so dreadful a manner that I could not but stop him. He soon grew calmer; told me he must treat me with a glass of wine; and that he would come and hear me, only he was afraid I should say something against fighting of cocks.

April 1. (Being Good Friday.)—I had a great desire to visit a little village called Placey, about ten measured miles north of Newcastle. It is inhabited by colliers only, and such as had been always in the first rank for savage ignorance and wickedness of every kind. Their grand assembly used to be on the Lord's day; on which men, women, and children met together to dance, fight, curse and swear, and play at chuck ball, spanfarthing, or whatever came next to hand. I felt great compassion for these poor creatures from the time I heard of them first; and the more, because all men seemed to despair of them.

Between seven and eight I set out with John Healy, my guide. The north wind, being unusually high, drove the sleet in our face, which froze as it fell and cased us over presently. When we came to Placey, we could very hardly stand. As soon as we were a little recovered I went into the square and declared Him who "was wounded for our transgressions" and "bruised for our iniquities." The poor sinners were quickly gathered together and gave earnest heed to the things which were spoken. And so they did in the afternoon again, in spite of the wind and snow, when I besought them to receive Him for their King; to "repent and believe the gospel."

Wesley in Seven Dials

Sunday, May 29.—I began officiating at the chapel in West Street, near the Seven Dial, of which (by a strange chain of providences) we have a lease for several years. I preached on the gospel for the day, part of the third chapter of St. John; and afterwards administered the lord's Supper to some hundreds of communicants. I was a little afraid at first that my strength would not suffice for the business of the day, when a service of five hours (for it lasted from ten to three) was added to my usual employment. But God looked to that: so I must think; and they that will call it enthusiasm may. I preached at the Great Gardens at five to an immense congregation on ""e must be born again""[John 3:3]. Then the leaders met (who filled all the time that I was not speaking in public); and after them, the bands. At ten at night I was less weary than at six in the morning.

Sunday, July 10 (Newcastle).—I preached at eight on Chowden Fell on "Why will ye die, O house of Israel?" [Ezek. 33:11]. Ever since I came to Newcastle the first time, my spirit had been moved within me at the crowds of poor wretches who were every Sunday in the afternoon sauntering to and fro on the Sandhill. I resolved, if possible, to find them a better employ; and as soon as the service at All Saints was over, walked straight from the church to the Sandhill and gave out a verse of a Psalm. In a few minutes I had company enough, thousands upon thousands crowding together. But the prince of this world fought with all his might lest his kingdom should be overthrown. Indeed, the very mob of Newcastle, in the height of their rudeness, have commonly some humanity left. I scarcely observed that they threw anything at all; neither did I receive the least personal hurt: but they continued thrusting one another to and fro and making such a noise that my voice could not be heard: so that, after spending nearly an hour in singing and prayer, I thought it best to adjourn to our own house.

Wesley's Horses Give Trouble

Monday, 18.—I set out from Newcastle with John Downes, of Horsley. We were four hours riding to Ferry Hill, about twenty measured miles. After resting there an hour we rode softly on; and, at two o'clock, came to Darlington. I thought my horse was not well; he thought the same of his, though they were both young and were very well the day before. We ordered the hostler to fetch a farrier, which he did without delay; but before the men could determine what was the matter, both the horses lay down and died.

I hired a horse to Sandhutton and rode on, desiring John Downes to follow me. Thence I rode to Boroughbridge on Tuesday morning and then walked on to Leeds.

Monday, August 22, 1743 (London).—After a few of us had joined in prayer, about four I set out, and rode softly to Snow Hill; where, the saddle slipping quite upon my mare's neck, I fell over her head, and she ran back into Smithfield. Some boys caught her and brought her to me again, cursing and swearing all the way. I spoke plainly to them, and they promised to amend. I was setting forward when a man cried, "Sir, you have lost your saddle-cloth." Two or three more would needs help me to put it on; but these, too, swore at almost every word. I turned to one and another and spoke in love. They all took it well and thanked me much. I gave them two or three little books, which they promised to read over carefully.

Before I reached Kensington, I found my mare had lost a shoe. This gave me an opportunity of talking closely, for nearly half an hour, both to the smith and his servant. I mention these little circumstances to show how easy it is to redeem every fragment of time (if I may so speak), when we feel any love to those souls for which Christ died.

Wesley Goes to Cornwall

Friday, 26.—I set out for Cornwall. In the evening I preached at the cross in Taunton, on, "The kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." A poor man had posted himself behind in order to make some disturbance: but the time was not come; the zealous wretches who "deny the Lord that bought them" had not yet stirred up the people. Many cried out, "Throw down that rascal there; knock him down; beat out his brains": so that I was obliged to entreat for him more than once or he would have been but roughly handled.

Saturday, 27.—I reached Exeter in the afternoon; but as no one knew of my coming, I did not preach that night, only to one poor sinner at the inn; who, after listening to our conversation for a while, looked earnestly at us and asked whether it was possible for one who had in some measure known "the power of the world to come," and was "fallen away" (which she said was her case), to be "renewed again to repentance." We besought God in her behalf and left her sorrowing, yet not without hope.

Sunday, 28.—I preached at seven to a handful of people. The sermon we heard at church was quite innocent of meaning: what that in the afternoon was, I know not; for I could not hear a single sentence.

From church I went to the castle, where were gathered together (as some imagined) half the grown persons in the city. It was an awful sight. So vast a congregation in that solemn amphitheater! And all silent and still while I explained at large and enforced that glorious truth, "Happy are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered" [see Ps. 31:1].

Monday, 29.—We rode forward. About sunset we were in the middle of the first great pathless moor beyond Launceston. About eight we were got quite out of the way; but we had not got far before we heard Bodmin bell. Directed by this we turned to the left and came to the town before nine.

Tuesday, 30.—In the evening we reached St. Ives. At seven I invited all guilty, helpless sinners who were conscious they "had nothing to pay" to accept of free forgiveness. The room was crowded both within and without; but all were quiet and attentive.

Wednesday, 31.—I spoke severally with those of the society, who were about one hundred and twenty. Nearly a hundred of these had found peace with God: such is the blessing of being persecuted for righteousness' sake! As we were going to church at eleven, a large company at the market place welcomed us with a loud huzza: wit as harmless as the ditty sung under my window (composed, one assured me, by a gentlewoman of their own town),

Charles Wesley is come to town,
To try if he can pull the churches down.

In the evening I explained "the promise of the Father." After preaching, many began to be turbulent; but John Nelson went into the midst of them, spoke a little to the loudest, who answered not again but went quietly away.

The Cornish Tinners

Saturday, September 3.—I rode to the Three-cornered Down (so called), nine or ten miles east of St. Ives, where we found two or three hundred tinners, who had been some time waiting for us. They all appeared quite pleased and unconcerned; and many of them ran after us to Gwennap (two miles east), where their number was quickly increased to four or five hundred. I had much comfort here in applying these words, "He hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor" [Luke 4:18]. One who lived near invited us to lodge at his house and conducted us back to the Green in the morning. We came thither just as the day dawned.

I strongly applied those gracious words, "I will heal their backslidings, I will love them freely," to five or six hundred serious people. At Trezuthan Downs, five miles nearer St. Ives, we found seven or eight hundred people, to whom I cried aloud, "Cast away all your transgressions; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?" After dinner I preached again to about a thousand people on Him whom "God hath exalted to be a Prince and a Saviour." It was here first I observed a little impression made on two or three of the hearers; the rest, as usual, showing huge approbation and absolute unconcern.

Friday, 9.—I rode in quest of St. Hilary downs, ten or twelve miles southeast of St. Ives. And the Downs I found, but no congregation—neither man, woman, nor child. But by that I had put on my gown and cassock, about a hundred gathered themselves together, whom I earnestly called "to repent and believe the gospel." And if but one heard, it was worth all the labor.

Saturday, 10.—There were prayers at St. Just in the afternoon, which did not end till four. I then preached at the Cross to, I believe, a thousand people, who all behaved in a quiet and serious manner.

At six I preached at Sennan, near the Land's End; and appointed the little congregation (consisting chiefly of old, grey-headed men) to meet me again at five in the morning. But on Sunday, 11, a great part of them were got together between three and four o'clock: so between four and five we began praising God; and I largely explained and applied, "I will heal their backslidings; I will love them freely."

We went afterwards down, as far as we could go safely, toward the point of the rocks at the Land's End. It was an awful sight! But how will these melt away when God shall arise to judgment! The sea between does indeed "boil like a pot." "One would think the deep to be hoary." But "though they swell, yet can they not prevail. He hath set their bounds, which they cannot pass" [see Ps. 104:8].

Between eight and nine I preached at St. Just, on the green plain near the town, to the largest congregation (I was informed) that ever had been seen in these parts. I cried out, with all the authority of love, "Why will ye die, O house of Israel?" The people trembled and were still. I had not known such an hour before in Cornwall.

In the Scilly Isles

Monday, 12.—I had had for some time a great desire to go and publish the love of God our Saviour, if it were but for one day, in the Isles of Scilly; and I had occasionally mentioned it to several. This evening three of our brethren came and offered to carry me thither if I could procure the mayor's boat, which, they said, was the best sailer8 of any in the town. I sent, and he lent it me immediately. So the next morning, Tuesday, 13, John Nelson, Mr. Shepherd, and I, with three men and a pilot, sailed from St. Ives. It seemed strange to me to attempt going in a fisher-boat, fifteen leagues upon the main ocean, especially when the waves began to swell and hang over our heads. But I called to my companions, and we joined together in singing lustily and with a good courage:

When passing through the watery deep,
I ask in faith His promised aid;
The waves an awful distance keep,
And shrink from my devoted head;
Fearless their violence I dare:
They cannot harm—for God is there.

About half an hour after one, we landed on St. Mary's, the chief of the inhabited islands.

We immediately waited upon the Governor, with the usual present, namely, a newspaper. I desired him, likewise, to accept of an "Earnest Appeal." The minister not being willing I should preach in the church, I preached, at six, in the streets to almost all the town and many soldiers, sailors, and workmen on, "Why will ye die, O house of Israel?" It was a blessed time so that I scarcely knew how to conclude. After the sermon I gave them some little books and hymns, which they were so eager to receive that they were ready to tear both them and me to pieces.

For what political reason such a number of workmen were gathered together and employed at so large an expense to fortify a few barren rocks, which whosoever would take, deserves to have them for his pains, I could not possibly devise: but a providential reason was easy to be discovered. God might call them together to hear the gospel, which perhaps otherwise they might never have thought of.

At five in the morning I preached again on "I will heal their backslidings; I will love them freely." And between nine and ten, having talked with many in private and distributed both to them and others between two and three hundred hymns and little books, we left this barren, dreary place and set sail for St. Ives, though the wind was strong and blew directly in our teeth. Our pilot said we should have good luck if we reached the land; but he knew not Him whom the winds and seas obey. Soon after three we were even with the Land's End, and about nine we reached St. Ives.

Remarkable Service at Gwennap

Tuesday, 20.—At Trezuthan Downs I preached to two or three thousand people on the "highway" of the Lord, the way of holiness. We reached Gwennap a little before six and found the plain covered from end to end. It was supposed there were ten thousand people, to whom I preached Christ our "wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption." I could not conclude till it was so dark we could scarcely see one another. And there was on all sides the deepest attention; none speaking, stirring, or scarcely looking aside. Surely here, though in a temple not made with hands, was God worshiped9 in "the beauty of holiness."

Wednesday, 21.—I was awakened between three and four by a large company of tinners who, fearing they should be too late, had gathered round the house and were singing and praising God. At five I preached once more on "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." They all devoured the Word. Oh, may it be health to their soul and marrow unto their bones!

We rode to Launceston that day. Thursday, 22. As we were riding through a village called Sticklepath, one stopped me in the street and asked abruptly, "Is not thy name John Wesley?" Immediately two or three more came up and told me I must stop there. I did so; and before we had spoken many words, our souls took acquaintance with each other. I found they were called Quakers: but that hurt not me, seeing the love of God was in their hearts.

A Mob at Wednesbury

Thursday, Oct. 20.—After preaching to a small, attentive congregation (at Birmingham), I rode to Wednesbury. At twelve I preached in a ground near the middle of the town, to a far larger congregation than was expected, on "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and forever" [Heb. 13:8]. I believe everyone present felt the power of God: and no creature offered to molest us, either going or coming; but the Lord fought for us, and we held our peace.

I was writing at Francis Ward's, in the afternoon, when the cry arose that the mob had beset the house. We prayed that God would disperse them; and it was so: one went this way, and another that; so that, in half an hour, not a man was left. I told our brethren, "Now is the time for us to go"; but they pressed me exceedingly to stay. So, that I might not offend them, I sat down; though I foresaw what would follow. Before five the mob surrounded the house again in greater numbers than ever. The cry of one and all was "Bring out the minister; we will have the minister."

I desired one to take their captain by the hand and bring him into the house. After a few sentences interchanged between us, the lion became a lamb. I desired him to go and bring one or two more of the most angry of his companions. He brought in two who were ready to swallow the ground with rage; but in two minutes they were as calm as he. I then bade them make way that I might go out among the people.

As soon as I was in the midst of them, I called for a chair; and standing up, asked, "What do any of you want with me?" Some said, "We want you to go with us to the justice." I replied, "That I will, with all my heart." I then spoke a few words, which God applied; so that they cried out, with might and main, "The gentleman is an honest gentleman, and we will spill our blood in his defense." I asked, "Shall we go to the justice tonight, or in the morning?" Most of them cried, "Tonight, tonight"; on which I went before, and two or three hundred followed; the rest returning whence they came.

The night came on before we had walked a mile, together with heavy rain. However, on we went to Bentley Hall, two miles from Wednesbury. One or two ran before to tell Mr. Lane they had brought Mr. Wesley before his worship. Mr. Lane replied, "What have I to do with Mr. Wesley? Go and carry him back again." By this time the main body came up and began knocking at the door. A servant told them Mr. Lane was in bed. His son followed and asked what was the matter. One replied, "Why, an't10 please you, they sing psalms all day; nay, and make folks rise at five in the morning. And what would your worship advise us to do?" "To go home," said Mr. Lane, "and be quiet."

Wesley in Danger

Here they were all at a full stop, till one advised to go to Justice Persehouse at Walsal. All agreed to this; so we hastened on and about seven came to his house. But Mr. P— likewise sent word that he was in bed. Now they were at a stand again; but at last they all thought it the wisest course to make the best of their way home. About fifty of them undertook to convoy me. But we had not gone a hundred yards when the mob of Walsal came, pouring in like a flood, and bore down all before them. The Darlaston mob made what defense they could; but they were weary as well as outnumbered: so that in a short time, many being knocked down, the rest ran away and left me in their hands.

To attempt speaking was vain; for the noise on every side was like the roaring of the sea. so they dragged me along till we came to the town; where seeing the door of a large house open, I attempted to go in; but a man, catching me by the hair, pulled me back into the middle of the mob. They made no more stop till they had carried me through the main street, from one end of the town to the other. I continued speaking all the time to those within hearing, feeling no pain or weariness. at the west end of the town, seeing a door half open, I made toward it and would have gone in; but a gentleman in the shop would not suffer me, saying they would pull the house down to the ground. However, I stood at the door, and asked, ""re you willing to hear me speak?" Many cried out, "No, no! knock his brains out; down with him; kill him at once." Others said, "Nay, but we will hear him first." I began asking, "What evil have I done? Which of you all have I wronged in word or deed?" And continued speaking for above a quarter of an hour, till my voice suddenly failed: then the floods began to lift up their voice again; many crying out, "Bring him away! bring him away!"

In the meantime my strength and my voice returned, and I broke out aloud in prayer. And now the man who just before headed the mob turned and said, "Sir, I will spend my life for you: follow me, and not one soul here shall touch a hair of your head." Two or three of his fellows confirmed his words and got close to me immediately. At the same time, the gentleman in the shop cried out, "For shame, for shame! Let him go."

An honest butcher, who was a little farther off, said it was a shame they should do thus; and he pulled back four or five, one after another, who were running on the most fiercely. The people then, as if it had been by common consent, fell back to the right and left, while those three or four men took me between them and carried me through them all. But on the bridge the mob rallied again: we therefore went on one side, over the milldam, and thence through the meadows; till, a little before ten, God brought me safe to Wednesbury; I having lost only one flap of my waistcoat and a little skin from one of my hands.

His Presence of Mind

I never saw such a chain of providences before, so many convincing proofs that the hand of God is on every person and thing and overruling all as it seemeth Him good.

The poor woman of Darlaston, who had headed that mob and sworn that no one should touch me, when she saw her followers give way, ran into the thickest of the throng and knocked down three or four men, one after another. But many assaulting her at once, she was soon overpowered and had probably been killed in a few minutes (three men keeping her down and beating her with all their might) had not a man called to one of them, "Hold, Tom, hold!" "Who is there?" said Tom: "what, honest Munchin? Nay, then, let her go." So they held their hand and let her get up and crawl home as well as she could.

From the beginning to the end I found the same presence of mind as if I had been sitting in my own study. But I took no thought for one moment before another; only once it came into my mind that if they should throw me into the river, it would spoil the papers that were in my pocket. For myself, I did not doubt but I should swim across, having but a thin coat and a light pair of boots.

The circumstances that follow, I thought, were particularly remarkable: 1) that many endeavored to throw me down while we were going downhill on a slippery path to the town; as well judging, that if I was once on the ground, I should hardly rise any more. But I made no stumble at all, nor the least slip till I was entirely out of their hands. 2) That although many strove to lay hold on my collar or clothes, to pull me down, they could not fasten at all: only one got fast hold of the flap of my waistcoat, which was soon left in his hand; the other flap, in the pocket of which was a bank note, was torn but half off. 3) That a lusty man just behind struck at me several times with a large oaken stick, with which if he had struck me once on the back part of my head, it would have saved him all further trouble. But every time the blow was turned aside, I know not how; for I could not move to the right hand or left.

"What Soft Hair He Has"

4) That another came rushing through the press and, raising his arm to strike, on a sudden let it drop and only stroked my head, saying, "What soft hair he has!" 5) That I stopped exactly at the mayor's door, as if I had known it (which the mob doubtless thought I did), and found him standing in the shop [his presence giving] the first check to the madness of the people. 6) That the very first men whose hearts were turned were the heroes of the town, the captains of the rabble on all occasions, one of them having been a prizefighter at the bear-garden.

7) That from first to last, I heard none give a reviling word, or call me by any opporbious name whatever; but the cry of one and all was: "The preacher! the preacher! the parson! the minister!" 8) That no creature, at least within my hearing, laid anything to my charger, either true or false; having in the hurry quite forgotten to provide themselves with an accusation of any kind. And, lastly, that they were as utterly at a loss what they should do with me, none proposing any determinate thing only "Away with him! Kill him at once!"

By how gentle degrees does God prepare us for His will! Two years ago a piece of brick grazed my shoulders. It was a year after that the stone struck me between the eyes. Last month I received one blow, and this evening two; one before we came into the town and one after we had gone out; but both were as nothing: for though one man struck me on the breast with all his might, and the other on the mouth with such force that the blood gushed out immediately, I felt no more pain from either of the blows than if they had touched me with a straw.

It ought not to be forgotten that when the rest of the society made all haste to escape for their lives, four only would not stir, William Sitch, Edward Slater, John Griffiths, and Joan Parks: these kept with me, resolving to live or die together; and none of them received one blow but William Sitch, who held me by the arm from one end of the town to the other. He was then dragged away and knocked down; but he soon rose and got to me again. I afterward asked him what he expected when the mob came upon us. He said, "To die for Him who had died for us": and he felt no hurry or fear but calmly waited till God should require his soul of him.

Wesley's Defenders

I asked J. Parks if she was not afraid when they tore her from me. She said, "No; no more than I am now. I could trust God for you, as well as for myself. From the beginning I had a full persuasion that God would deliver you. I knew not how; but I left that to Him, and was as sure as if it were already done." I asked if the report was true that she had fought for me. She said, "No; I knew God would fight for His children." And shall these souls perish at the last?

When I came back to Francis Ward's I found many of our brethren waiting upon God. Many also whom I never had seen before came to rejoice with us. And the next morning, as I rode through the town in my way to Nottingham, everyone I met expressed such a cordial affection that I could scarcely believe what I saw and heard.

The Sleepy Magistrates' Proclamation

I cannot close this head without inserting as great a curiosity in its kind as, I believe, was ever yet seen in England; which had its birth within a very few days of this remarkable occurrence at Walsal.


To all High Constables, Petty Constables, and other of his Majesty's Peace Officers, within the said County, and particularly to the Constable of Tipton [near Walsal]:

Whereas, we, his Majesty's Justices of the Peace for the said County of Stafford, have received information that several disorderly persons, styling themselves Methodist preachers, go about raising routs and riots, to the great damage of his Majesty's liege people, and against the peace of our Sovereign Lord the King:

These are, in his Majesty's name, to command you and every one of you, within your respective districts, to make diligent search after the said Methodist preachers, and to bring him or them before some of us his said Majesty's Justices of the Peace, to be examined concerning their unlawful doings.

Given under our hands and seals, this day of October, 1743

J. Lane
W. Persehouse

N.B.—The very justices to whose houses I was carried and who severally refused to see me!

Saturday, 22.—I rode from Nottingham to Epworth, and on Monday set out for Grimsby: but at Ferry we were at a full stop, the boatmen telling us we could not pass the Trent; it was as much as our lives were worth to put from shore before the storm abated. We waited an hour; but, being afraid it would do much hurt if I should disappoint the congregation at Grimsby, I asked the men if they did not think it possible to get to the other shore. They said they could not tell; but if we would venture our lives, they would venture theirs. So we put off, having six men, two women, and three horses in the boat.

Wesley Nearly Drowned

Many stood looking after us on the riverside; [when we reached] the middle of the river, in an instant the side of the boat was under water and the horses and men rolling one over another. We expected the boat to sink every moment, but I did not doubt of being able to swim ashore. The boatmen were amazed as well as the rest; but they quickly recovered and rowed for life. And soon after, our horses leaping overboard, the boat was lightened, and we all came unhurt to land.

They wondered what was the matter I did not rise (for I lay alone in the bottom of the boat), and I wondered too, till upon examination I found that a large iron crow, which the boatmen sometimes used, was (none knew how) run through the string of my boot, and was pinning me down11 that I could not stir. If the boat had sunk, I should have been safe enough from swimming any further.

The same day and, as near as we could judge, the same hour, the boat in which my brother was crossing the Severn, at the New Passage, was carried away by the wind and in the utmost danger of splitting upon the rocks. But the same God, when all human hope was past, delivered them as well as us.

Methodism on the Stage

Monday, 31.—We set out early in the morning, and in the evening came to Newcastle.

Wednesday, November 2.—The following advertisement was published:


By the Edinburgh Company of Comedians, on Friday, November 4, will be acted a Comedy, called,


To which will be added a Farce, called,


On Friday, a vast multitude of spectators were assembled in the Moot Hall to see this. It was believed there could not be less than fifteen hundred people, some hundreds of whom sat on rows of seats built upon the stage. Soon after the comedians had begun the first act of the play, on a sudden all those seats fell down at once, the supporters of them breaking like a rotten sick. The people were thrown one upon another, about five foot forward, but not one of them hurt. After a short time the rest of the spectators were quiet, and the actors went on. In the middle of the second act, all the shilling seats gave a crack, and sank several inches down. A great noise and shrieking followed, and as many as could readily get to the door, went out and returned no more. Notwithstanding this, when the noise was over, the actors went on with the play.

In the beginning of the third act the entire stage suddenly sank about six inches: the players retired with great precipitation; yet in a while they began again. At the latter end of the third act, all the sixpenny seats, without any kind of notice, fell to the ground. There was now a cry on every side; it being supposed that many were crushed in pieces. But, upon inquiry, not a singe person (such was the mercy of God!) was either killed or dangerously hurt. Two or three hundred remaining still in the hall, Mr. Este (who was to act the Methodist) came upon the stage and told them that for all this he was resolved the farce should be acted. While he was speaking, the stage sank six inches more; at this he ran back in the utmost confusion, and the people as fast as they could out the door, none staying to look behind him.

Which is most surprising—that those players acted this farce the next week—or that some hundreds of people came again to see it?

8 Correct to the text.

9 Correct to the text.

10 Correct to the text.

11 "So" is omitted in the text.

John Wesley, The Journal of John Wesley (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, 2000) Conversion to HTML and placename mark-up by Humphrey Southall, 2009.

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