Picture of John Wesley

John Wesley

places mentioned

1771-3: Windsor Park; Wesley as Art Critic; Glasgow and Perth; Preaches to 30,000 People

Next Selection Previous Selection

Chapter 16. Windsor Park; Wesley as Art Critic; Glasgow and Perth; At 70, Wesley Preaches to 30,000 People


Wednesday, January 2.—I preached in the evening, at Deptford, a kind of funeral sermon for Mr. Whitefield. In every place I wish to show all possible respect to the memory of that great and good man.

Wednesday, 23.—For what cause I know not to this day,—[Wesley's wife] set out for Newcastle, purposing "never to return." Non cam reliqui: non dimisi: non revocabo —[l did not desert her: I did not send her away: I will not recall her.]

Friday, 25.—I revised and transcribed my will, declaring as simply, as plainly, and as briefly as I could, nothing more nor nothing else, but "what I would have done with the worldly goods which I leave behind me."

Thursday, Feb. 14.—I went through both the upper and lower rooms of the London workhouse. It contains about a hundred children, who are in as good order as any private family. And the whole house is as clean, from top to bottom, as any gentleman's needs be. And why is not every workhouse in London, yea, through the kingdom, in the same order? Purely for want either of sense, or of honesty and activity, in them that superintend it.

Monday, 25.—I showed a friend, coming out of the country, the tombs in Westminster Abbey. The two with which I still think none of the others worthy to be compared are that of Mrs. Nightingale, and that of the Admiral rising out of his tomb at the resurrection. But the vile flattery inscribed on many of them reminded me of that just reflection:

If on the sculptured marble you rely,
Pity that worth like his should ever die.
If credit to the real life you give,
Pity a wretch like him should ever live!

The Earl of Desmond's Castle

Wednesday, May 22 (Ireland).—After preaching at Balligarane, I rode to Ashkayton. There are no ruins, I believe, in the kingdom of Ireland, to be compared to these. The old Earl of Desmond's Castle is very large, and has been exceedingly strong. Not far from this, and formerly communicating with it by a gallery, is his great hall, or banqueting room. The walls are still firm and entire; and these with the fine carvings of the windowframes (all of polished marble) give some idea of what it was once. Its last master lived like a prince for many years and rebelled over and over against Queen Elizabeth. After his last rebellion, his army being totally routed, he fled into the woods with two or three hundred men. But the pursuit was so hot that these were soon scattered from him, and he crept alone into a small cabin. He was sitting there when a soldier came in and struck him. He rose and said, "I am the Earl of Desmond." The wretch, rejoicing that he had found so great a prize, cut off his head at once. Queen Elizabeth and King James allowed a pension to his relict30 for many years. I have seen a striking picture of her, in her widow's weeds, said to be taken when she was a hundred and forty years old.

At a small distance from the castle stands the old abbey, the finest ruin of the kind in the kingdom. Not only the walls of the church and many of the apartments but the whole cloisters are entire. They are built of black marble exquisitely polished and vaulted over with the same. So that they are as firm now as when they were built, perhaps seven or eight hundred years ago; and, if not purposely destroyed (as most of the ancient buildings in Ireland have been), may last these thousand years. But add these to the years they have stood already and what is it to eternity? A moment!

Monday, June 24.—This day I entered the sixty-ninth year of my age. I am still a wonder to myself. My voice and strength are the same as at nine-and-twenty. This also hath God wrought.

Wesley in Winchester Cathedral

Tuesday, October 1.—I went on to Salisbury. Wednesday, 2. I preached at Whitchurch; Thursday, 3, at Winchester. I now found time to take a view of the cathedral. Here the sight of that bad Cardinal's tomb, whom the sculptor has placed in a posture of prayer, brought to my mind those fine lines of Shakespeare, which he put into the mouth of King Henry the Sixth:

Lord Cardinal,
If thou hast any Hope of heaven's grace,
Give us a sign. He dies, and makes no sign.

On Thursday and Friday evening I preached at Portsmouth Common. Saturday, 5. I set out at two. About ten some of our London friends met me at Cobbam, with whom I took a walk in the neighboring gardens, inexpressibly pleasant through the variety of hills and dales and the admirable contrivance of the whole. And now, after spending his life in bringing it to perfection, the grey-headed owner advertises it to be sold! Is there anything under the sun that can satisfy a spirit made for God?

Wednesday, 16.—I preached at South Lye. Here it was that I preached my first sermon, six-and-forty years ago. One man was in my present audience who heard it. Most of the rest are gone to their long home.

Wednesday, 30.—I walked over to Winchelsea from Rye, said to have been once a large city with abundance of trade and of inhabitants, the sea washing the foot of the hill on which it stands. The situation is exceedingly bold, the hill being high and steep on all sides. But the town is shrunk almost into nothing, and the seven churches into half a one. I preached at eleven in the new square to a considerable number of serious people; and at Rye in the evening where were many that are "not far from the kingdom of God."

Tuesday, November 5.—In our way to Bury we called at Felsham, near which is the seat of the late Mr. Reynolds. The house is, I think, the best contrived and the most beautiful I ever saw. It has four fronts, and five rooms on a floor, elegantly, though not sumptuously, furnished. At a small distance stands a delightful grove. On every side of this, the poor rich man, who had no hope beyond the grave, placed seats, to enjoy life as long as he could. But being resolved none of his family should be "put into the ground," he built a structure in the midst of the grove, vaulted above and beneath, with niches for coffins, strong enough to stand for ages. In one of these he had soon the satisfaction of laying the remains of his only child; and two years after, those of his wife. After two years more, in the year 1759, having eaten, and drunk, and forgotten God for eighty-four years, he went himself to give an account of his stewardship.

Wesley at Windsor Park

Friday, 29.—We viewed the improvements of that active and useful man, the late Duke of Cumberland. The most remarkable work is the triangular tower which he built on the edge of Windsor Park. It is surrounded with shrubberies and woods, having some straight, some serpentine, walks in them, and commands a beautiful prospect all three ways: a very extensive one to the southwest. In the lower part is an alcove which must be extremely pleasant in a summer evening. There is a little circular projection at each corner, one of which is filled by a geometrical staircase; the other two contain little apartments, one of which is a study. I was agreeably surprised to find many of the books not only religious, but admirably well chosen. Perhaps the great man spent many hours here, with only Him that seeth in secret; and who can say how deep that change went, which was so discernible in the latter part of his life?

Hence we went to Mr. Bateman's house, the oddest I ever saw with my eyes. Everything breathes antiquity; scarcely a bedstead is to be seen that is not a hundred and fifty years old; and everything is quite out of the common way: he scorns to have anything like his neighbors. For six hours, I suppose, these elegant oddities would much delight a curious man; but after six months they would probably give him no more pleasure than a collection of feathers.

Monday, December 16.—I rode to Dorking, where were many a people; but none were cut to the heart. Tuesday, 17. I went on to Ryegate-place. In King Henry the Fourth's time, this was an eminent monastery. At the dissolution of monasteries, it fell into the hands of the great spoiler, Henry the Eighth. Queen Elizabeth, pleased with the situation, chose it for one of her palaces. The gentleman who possesses it now has entirely changed the form of it, pulling down whole piles of ancient building and greatly altering what remains. Yet, after all that is taken away, it still looks more like a palace than a private house. The staircase is of the same model with that at Hampton Court; one would scarcely know which is the original. The chimney-piece in the hall is probably one of the most curious pieces of woodwork now in the kingdom. But how long? How many of its once bustling inhabitants are already under the earth! And how little a time will it be before the house itself, yea the earth shall be burned up!

Saturday, 21.—I met an old friend, James Hutton, whom I had not seen for five-and-twenty years. I felt this made no difference; my heart was quite open; his seemed to be the same; and we conversed just as we did in 1738, when we met in Fetter Lane.

Monday, 23, and so all the following days when I was not particularly engaged, I spent an hour in the morning with our preachers, as I used to do with my pupils at Oxford. Wednesday, 25. I preached early at the Foundry; morning and afternoon, at the chapel. In returning thence at night, a coach ran full against my chaise, and broke one of the shafts and the traces in pieces. I was thankful that this was all; that neither man nor beast received the least hurt.

Monday, 30.—At my brother's request, I sat again for my picture. This melancholy employment always reminds me of that natural reflection—

Behold, what frailty we in man may see
His shadow is less given to change than he.


Tuesday, January 14.—I spent an agreeable hour with Dr. S—, the oldest acquaintance I now have. He is the greatest genius in little things that ever fell under my notice. Almost everything about him is of his own invention, either in whole or in part. Even his firescreen, his lamps of various sorts, his inkhorn, his very save-all. I really believe, were he seriously to set about it, he could invent the best mousetrap that ever was in the world.

Wesley as Art Critic

Thursday, 16.—I set out for Luton. The snow lay so deep on the road that it was not without much difficulty and some danger that we at last reached the town. I was offered the use of the church. The frost was exceedingly sharp, and the glass was taken out of the windows. However, for the sake of the people, I accepted the offer, though I might just as well have preached in the open air. I suppose four times as many people were present as would have been at the room; and about a hundred in the morning. So I did not repent of my journey through the snow.

Friday, February 7.—I called on a friend at Hampton Court, who went with me through the house. It struck me more than anything of the kind I have seen in England, more than Blenheim House itself. One great difference is, everything there appears designedly grand and splendid; here everything is quite, as it were, natural, and one thinks it cannot be otherwise. If the expression may be allowed, there is a kind of stiffness runs through the one, and an easiness through the other. Of pictures I do not pretend to be a judge; but there is one, by Paul Rubens, which particularly struck me, both with the design and the execution of it. It is Zacharias and Elisabeth, with John the Baptist, two or three years old, coming to visit Mary, and our Lord sitting upon her knee. The passions are surprisingly expressed, even in the children; but I could not see either the decency or common sense of painting them stark naked. Nothing can defend or excuse this; it is shockingly absurd, even an Indian being the judge. I allow, a man who paints thus may have a good hand but certainly no brains.

Wesley on A Sentimental Journey

Tuesday, 11.—I casually took a volume of what is called, A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy. Sentimental! what is that? It is not English: he might as well say continental. It is not sense. It conveys no determinate idea, yet one fool makes many. And this nonsensical word (who would believe it?) has becomes a fashionable onel However, the book agrees full well with the title; for one is as queer as the other. For oddity, uncouthness, and unlikeness to all the world beside, I suppose, the writer is without a rival.

Wednesday, 12.—In returning, I read a very different book, published by an honest Quaker, on that execrable sum of all villanies, commonly called the slave trade. I read of nothing like it in the heathen world, whether ancient or modern; and it infinitely exceeds, in every instance of barbarity, whatever Christian slaves suffer in Mohammedan countries.

Friday, 14.—I began to execute a design, which had long been in my thoughts, to print as accurate an edition of my works, as a bookseller would do. Surely I ought to be as exact for God's sake, as he would be for money.

Monday, 17.—One gave me a very remarkable account: A gay young woman lately came up to London. Curiosity led her to hear a sermon, which cut her to the heart. One standing by observed how she was affected and took occasion to talk with her. She lamented that she should hear no more such sermons, as she was to go into the country the next day; but she begged her new acquaintance to write to her there, which she promised to do. In the country her convictions so increased that she resolved to put an end to her own life. With this design she was going upstairs, when her father called her and gave her a letter from London. It was from her new acquaintance, who told her, "Christ is just ready to receive you: now is the day of salvation." She cried out, "It is, it is! Christ is mine!" and was filled with joy unspeakable. She begged her father to give her pen, ink, and paper that she might answer her friend immediately. She told her what God had done for her soul, and added, "We have no time to lose! The Lord is at hand! Now, even now, we are stepping into eternity." She directed her letter, dropped down, and died.

Wesley and the Boarding School

Friday, 21.—I met several of my friends, who had begun a subscription to prevent my riding on horseback, which I cannot do quite so well, since a hurt which I got some months ago. If they continue it, well, if not, I shall have strength according to my need.

Monday, April 6 (Manchester).—In the afternoon I drank tea at Am. O. But how was I shocked! The children that used to cling about me and drink in every word had been at a boarding school. There they had unlearned all religion and even seriousness and had learned pride vanity, affectation, and whatever could guard them against the knowledge and love of God. Methodist parents who would send your girls headlong to hell, send them to a fashionable boarding school!

Tuesday, 14.—I set out for Carlisle. A great part of the road was miserably bad. However, we reached it in the afternoon and found a small company of plain, loving people. The place where they had appointed me to preach was out of the gate; yet it was tolerably filled with attentive hearers. Afterward, inquiring for the Glasgow road, I found it was not much round to go by Edinburgh; so I chose that road and went five miles forward this evening, to one of our friends' houses. Here we had a hearty welcome, under a lowly roof, with sweet and quiet rest.

Wednesday, 15.—Though it was a lone house, we had a large congregation at five in the morning. Afterward we rode for upwards of twenty miles, through a most delightful country, the fruitful mountains rising on either hand, and the clear stream running beneath. In the afternoon we had a furious storm of rain and snow; however, we reached Selkirk safe. Here I observed a little piece of stateliness which was quite new to me: the maid came in, and said, "Sir, the lord of the stable waits to know if he should feed your horses." We call him ostler in England. After supper all the family seemed glad to join with us in prayer.

Thursday, 16.—We went on through the mountains, covered with snow, to Edinburgh.

Saturday, 18.—I set out for Glasgow. One would rather have imagined it was the middle of January than the middle of April. The snow covered the mountains on either hand, and the frost was exceedingly sharp; so I preached within, both this evening and on Sunday morning. But in the evening the multitude constrained me to stand in the street. My text was, "What God has cleansed, that call not thou common" [Acts 10:15]. Hence I took occasion to fall upon their miserable bigotry for opinions and modes of worship. Many seemed to be not a little convinced; but how long will the impression continue?

Wesley at Greenock and Glasgow

Monday, 20.—I went on to Greenock, a seaport town, twenty miles west of Glasgow. It is built very much like Plymouth Dock, and has a safe and spacious harbor. The trade and inhabitants, and consequently the houses, are increasing swiftly; and so is cursing, swearing, drunkenness, Sabbath-breaking, and all manner of wickedness. Our room is about thrice as large as that at Glasgow; but it would not near contain the congregation. I spoke exceedingly plain, and not without hope that we may see some fruit, even among this hardhearted generation.

Tuesday, 21.—The house was very full in the morning, and they showed an excellent spirit. After I had spoken a few words on the head, everyone stood up at the singing. In the afternoon I preached at Port Glasgow, a large town two miles east of Greenock. Many gay people were there, careless enough; but the greater part seemed to hear with understanding. In the evening I preached at Greenock; God gave them a loud call, whither they will hear or whether they will forbear.

Wednesday, 22.—About eight I preached once more in the Masons' Lodge, at Port Glasgow. The house was crowded greatly; and I suppose all the gentry of the town were part of the congregation. Resolving not to shoot over their heads, as I had done the day before, I spoke strongly of death and judgment, heaven and hell. This they seemed to comprehend; and there was no more laughing among them, or talking with each other; but all were quietly and deeply attentive.

In the evening, when I began at Glasgow, the congregation being but small, I chose a subject fit for experienced Christians; but soon after, a heap of fine gay people came in; yet I could not decently break off what I was about, though they gaped and stared abundantly. I could only give a short exhortation in the close, more suited to their capacity.

Wesley Receives the Freedom of Perth

Tuesday, 28 (Dunkeld).—We walked through the Duke of Athol's gardens, in which was one thing I never saw before—a summerhouse in the middle of a greenhouse, by means of which one might in the depth of winter enjoy the warmth of May, and sit surrounded with greens and flowers on every side.

In the evening I preached oncemore at Perth, to a large and serious congregation. Afterward they did me an honor I never thought of—presented me with the freedom of the city.

In my way to Perth, I read over the first volume of Dr. Robertson's History of Charles the Fifth. I know not when I have been so disappointed. It might as well be called the History of Alexander the Great. Here is a quarto volume of eight or ten shillings' price, containing dry, verbose dissertations on feudal government, the substance of all which might be comprised in half a sheet of paper! But "Charles the Fifth!" Where is Charles the Fifth?

Leave off thy reflections, and give us thy tale!

Wednesday, 29.—I went on to Brechin and preached in the town hall to a congregation of all sorts, Seceders, Glassites, Non-jurors, and whatnot. Oh, what excuse have ministers in Scotland for not declaring the whole counsel of God, where the bulk of the people not only endure, but love plain dealing!

Friday and Saturday.—I rested at Aberdeen. Sunday, May 3.—I went in the morning to the English church. Here, likewise, I could not but admire the exemplary decency of the congregation. This was the more remarkable, because so miserable a reader I never heard before. Listening with all attention, I understood but one single word, Balak, in the first lesson; and one more, begat, was all I could possibly distinguish in the second. Is there no man of spirit belonging to this congregation? Why is such a burlesque upon public worship suffered? Would it not be far better to pay this gentleman for doing nothing, than for doing mischief and for bringing a scandal upon religion?

About three I preached at the College kirk in the Old Town to a large congregation, rich and poor; at six, in our own house, on the narrow way. I spoke exceedingly plainly, both this evening and the next; yet none were offended. What encouragement has every preacher in this country "by manifestation of the truth" to "commend" himself "to every man's conscience in the sight of God!"

Tuesday, 5.—In the evening I preached in the new house at Arbroath (properly Aberbrotheek). In this town there is a change indeed! It was wicked to a proverb: remarkable for Sabbath-breaking, cursing, swearing, drunkenness, and a general contempt of religion. But it is not so now. Open wickedness disappears; no oaths are heard, no drunkenness seen in the streets. And many have not only ceased from evil and learned to do well, but are witnesses of the inward kingdom of God, "righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost."

Wednesday, 6.—The magistrates here also did me the honor of presenting me with the freedom of their corporation. I value it as a token of their respect, though I shall hardly make any further use of it.

Wesley Visits the Bass Rock

Wednesday, 20.—In the evening I preached at Dunbar. Thursday, 21. I went to the Bass, seven miles from it, which, in the horrid reign of Charles the Second, was the prison of those venerable men who suffered the loss of all things for a good conscience. It is a high rock surrounded by the sea, two or three miles in circumference, and about two miles from the shore. The strong east wind made the water so rough that the boat could hardly live; and when we came to the only landing-place (the other sides being quite perpendicular), it was with much difficulty that we got up, climbing on our hands and knees. The castle, as one may judge by what remains, was utterly inaccessible. The walls of the chapel and of the Governor's house are tolerably entire. The garden walls are still seen near the top of the rock, with the well in the midst of it. And round the walls there are spots of grass that feed eighteen or twenty sheep.

But the proper natives of the island are Solund geese, a bird about the size of a Muscovy duck, which breed by thousands, from generation to generation, on the sides of the rock. It is peculiar to these that they lay but one egg, which they do not sit upon at all,but keep it under one foot (as we saw with our eyes), till it is hatched.

How many prayers did the holy men confined here offer up, in that evil day! And how many thanksgivings should we return, for all the liberty, civil and religious, which we enjoy!

At our return, we walked over the ruins of Tantallon Castle, once the seat of the great Earls of Douglas. The front walls (it was foursquare) are still standing, and by their vast height and huge thickness give us a little idea of what it once was. Such is human greatness!

Friday, 22.—We took a view of the famous Roman camp, lying on a mountain two or three miles from the town. It is encompassed with two broad and deep ditches and is not easy of approach on any side. Here lay General Lesley with his army, while Cromwell was starving below. He had no way to escape; but the enthusiastic fury of the Scots delivered him. When they marched into the valley to swallow him up, he mowed them down like grass.

Saturday, 23.—I went on to Alnwick and preached in the town hall. What a difference between an English and a Scotch congregation! These judge themselves rather than the preacher; and their aim is not only to know but to love and obey.

Through the Dales

Monday, June 1.—I began a little tour through the Dales. About nine, I preached at Kiphill; at one, at Wolsingham. Here we began to trace the revival of the work of God; and here began the horrid mountains we had to climb over. However, before six, we reached Barnard Castle. I preached at the end of the preaching-house to a large congregation of established Christians. At five in the morning, the house was nearly full of persons ripe for the height and depth of the gospel.

Tuesday, 2.—We rode to New Orygan in Teesdale. The people were deeply attentive; but, I think, not deeply affected. From the top of the next enormous mountain, we had a view of Weardale. It is a lovely prospect. The green gently rising meadows and fields on both sides of the little river, clear as crystal, were sprinkled over with innumerable little houses; three in four of which (if not nine in ten) are sprung up since the Methodists came hither. Since that time, the beasts are turned into men, and the wilderness in a fruitful field.

Thursday, 4.—At five I took my leave of this blessed peopIe. I was a little surprised, in looking attentively upon them, to observe so beautiful faces as I never saw before in one congregation; many of the children in particular, twelve or fourteen of whom (chiefly boys) sat full in my view. But I allow, much more might be owing to grace than nature, to the heaven within, that shone outward.

Field-preaching as Wesley's Cross

Friday, August 21.—I preached again about eight, and then rode back to Harford. After dinner we hastened to the Passage; but the watermen were not in haste to fetch us over; so I sat down on a convenient stone, and finished the little tract I had in hand. However, I got to Pembroke in time and preached in the town hall, where we had a solemn and comfortable opportunity.

Sunday, September 6.—I preached on the quay, at Kingswood, and near King's Square. To this day field-preaching is a cross to me. But I know my commission and see no other way of "preaching the gospel to every creature."

Wednesday, October 14.—A book was given me to write on, The Works of Mr. Thomson, of whose poetical abilities I had always had a low opinion; but looking into one of his tragedies, "Edward and Eleonora," I was agreeably surprised. The sentiments are just and noble; the diction strong, smooth, and elegant; and the plot conducted with the utmost art and wrought off in a most surprising manner. It is quite his masterpiece, and I really think might vie with any modern performance of the kind.

Good or Bad Spirits?

Saturday, 31.—A young man of good sense and an unblamable character gave me a strange account of what (he said) had happened to himself and three other persons in the same house. As they all feared God, I thought the matter deserved a further examination. So in the afternoon I talked largely with them all. The sum of their account was this: "Nearly two years ago, Martin S— and William J— saw, in dream, two or three times repeated to each of them, a person who told them there was a large treasure hid in such a spot, three miles from Norwich, consisting of money and plate, buried in a chest, between six and eight feet deep. They did not much regard this, till each of them, when they were broad awake, saw an elderly man and woman standing by their bedside, who told them the same thing, and bade them go and dig it up, between eight and twelve at night. Soon after, they went; but, being afraid, took a third man with them. They began digging at eight, and after they had dug six feet, saw the top of a coffer, or chest. But presently it sank down into the earth; and there appeared over the place a large globe of bright fire, which, after some time, rose higher and higher, till it was quite out of sight. Not long after, the man and woman appeared again, and said, 'You spoiled all, by bringing that man with you.' From this time, both they and Sarah and Mary J—, who live in the same house with them, have heard, several times in a week delightful music, for a quarter of an hour at a time. They often hear it before those persons appear; often when they do not appear." They asked me whether they were good or bad spirits; but I could not resolve them.

A Remarkable Dream

Tuesday, November 17.—One was relating a remarkable story, which I thought worthy to be remembered. Two years ago, a gentleman of large fortune in Kent dreamed that he was walking through the churchyard and saw a new monument with the following inscription:

Here lieth the Body




He told his friends in the morning and was much affected; but the impression soon wore off. But on that day he did depart, and a stone was erected with that very inscription.

A gentlewoman present added an account equally surprising which she received from the person's own mouth:

Mrs. B—, when about fourteen years of age, being at a boarding school a mile or two from her father's, dreamed she was on the top of the church steeple, when a man came up and threw her down to the roof of the church. Yet she seemed not much hurt, till he came to her again and threw her to the bottom. She thought she looked hard at him, and said, 'Now you have hurt me sadly, but I shall hurt you worse'; and waked. A week after, she was to go to her father's. She set out early in the morning. At the entrance of a little wood, she stopped and doubted whether she should not go round, instead of through it. But, knowing no reason, she went straight through till she came to the other side. Just as she was going over the style, a man pulled her back by the hair. She immediately knew it was the same man whom she had seen in her dream. She fell on her knees, and begged him, 'For God's sake, do not hurt me any more.' He put his hands round her neck and squeezed her so that she instantly lost her senses. He then stripped her, carried her a little way, and threw her into a ditch.

Meantime, her father's servant coming back to the school, and hearing she was gone without him, walked back. Coming to the style, he heard several groans and, looking about, saw many drops of blood. He traced them to the ditch, whence the groans came. He lifted her up, not knowing her at all, as her face was covered with blood, carried her to a neighboring house; running to the village, he quickly brought a surgeon. She was just alive; but her throat was much hurt, so that she could not speak at all.

Just then a young man of the village was missing. Search being made, he was apprehended in an alehouse two miles off. He had all her clothes with him in a bag, which, he said, he found. It was three months before she was able to go abroad. He was arraigned at the Assizes. She knew him perfectly and swore to the man. He was condemned, and soon after executed."

Wednesday, December 2.—I preached at the new preaching-house, in the parish of Bromley. In speaking severally to the members of the society, I was surprised at the openness and artlessness of the people. Such I should never have expected to find within ten miles of London.

Wesley's Letters and Friends


Friday, January 1.—We (as usual) solemnly renewed our covenant with God.

Monday, 4.—I began revising my letters and papers. One of them was written above a hundred and fifty years ago (in 1619), I suppose, by my grandfather's father, to her he was to marry in a few days. Several were written by my brothers and me when at school, many while we were at the University, abundantly testifying (if it be worth knowing) what was our aim from our youth up.

Thursday, 7.—I called where a child was dying of the smallpox and rescued her from death and the doctors; they were giving her saffron, etc., to drive them out! Can anyone be so ignorant still?

We observed Friday, 8, as a day of fasting and prayer, on account of the general want of trade and scarcity of provisions. The next week I made an end of revising my letters; and from those I had both written and received, I could not but make one remark—that for above these forty years, of all the friends who were once the most closely united and afterwards separated from me, every one had separated himself! He left me, not I him. And from both mine and their own letters, the steps whereby they did this are clear and undeniable.

Wednesday, February 24.—A very remarkable paragraph was published in one of the Edinburgh papers:

We learn from the Rosses, in the county of Donegal, in Ireland, that a Danish man-of-war, called the North Crown, commanded by the Baron D'Ulfeld, arrived off those islands, from a voyage of discovery toward the Pole. They sailed from Bornholme, in Norway the first of June, 1769, with stores for eighteen months, and some able astronomers, landscape painters, and every apparatus suitable to the design; and steering N by E half E, for thirty- seven days, with a fair wind and open sea, discovered a large rocky island, which having doubled, they proceeded WNW, till the seventeenth of September, when they found themselves in a strong current, between two high lands, seemingly about ten leagues distant, which carried them at a prodigious rate for three days when, to their great joy, they saw the mainland of America that lies between the most westerly part of the settlements on Hudson's River and California. Here they anchored in a fine cove and found abundance of wild deer and buffaloes, with which they victualed; and sailing southward, in three months got into the Pacific Ocean, and returned by the Straits of Le Maine and the West India Islands. They have brought many curiosities, particularly a prodigious bird, called a contor [condor], or contose, about six feet in height, of the eagle kind, whose wings, expanded, measure twenty-two feet four inches. After bartering some skins with the country people, for meal, rum, and other necessaries, they sailed for Bremen, to wait the thaw, previous to their return to Copenhagen.

February 24, 1773.

If this account is true, one would hope not only the King of Denmark will avail himself of so important a discovery.

I came to Liverpool on Saturday, March 20.

Monday, 27.—The captain was in haste to get my chaise on board. About eleven we went on board ourselves, and before one, we ran on a sand bank. So, the ship being fast, we went ashore again.

Tuesday, 23.—We embarked again on board the Freemason, with six other cabin passengers, four gentlemen, and two gentlewomen, one of whom was daily afraid of falling in labor. This gave me several opportunities of talking closely and of praying with her and her companion. We did not come abreast of Holyhead till Thursday morning. We had then a strong gale and a rolling sea. Most of the passengers were sick enough, but it did not affect me at all. In the evening the gentlemen desired I would pray with them, so we concluded the day in a solemn and comfortable manner.

Wesley and His Chaise

Friday, 26.—We landed at Dunleary, and hired a coach to Dublin.

On Monday and Tuesday I examined the society, a little lessened, but now well united together. I was a little surprised to find the Commissioners of the Customs would not permit my chaise to be landed because, they said, the captain of a packet-boat had no right to bring over goods. Poor pretense! However, I was more obliged to them than I then knew; for had it come on shore, it would have been utterly spoiled.

Monday, April 5.—Having hired such a chaise as I could, I drove to Edinderry.

Monday, 12.—I preached at Ballinasloe and Aghrim. Tuesday, 13.—As I went into Eyre Court, the street was full of people, who gave us a loud huzza when we passed through the market place. I preached in the open air, to a multitude of people, all civil and most of them serious. A great awakening has been in this town lately; and many of the most notorious and profligate sinners are entirely changed and are happy witnesses of the gospel salvation.

Incidents in Ireland

Wednesday, 21.—Some applied to the Quakers at Enniscorthy, for the use of their meeting-house. They refused: so I stood at Hugh McLaughlin's door, and both those within and without could hear. I was in doubt which way to take from hence, one of my chaise-horses being much tired, till a gentleman of Ballyrane, near Wexford, told me, if I would preach at his house the next evening, he would meet me on the road with a fresh horse. So I complied, though it was some miles out of the way. Accordingly, he met us on Thursday, 22, six or seven miles from Enniscorthy. But we found his mare would not draw at all; so we were forced to go on as we could. I preached in the evening at Ballyrane, to a deeply serious congregation. Early in the morning we set out and at two in the afternoon came to Ballibac Ferry.

A troop of sailors ran down to the shore to see the chaise put into the boat. I was walking at a small distance when I beard them cry out, "Avast! Avast! The coach is overset into the river." I thought, "However, it is well my bags are on shore; so my papers are not spoiled." In less than an hour they fished up the chaise and got it safe into the boat. As it would not hold us all, I got in myself, leaving the horses to come after. At half-hour after three I came to Passage. Finding no postchaise could be had, and having no time to spare, I walked on (six or seven miles) to Waterford, and began preaching without delay, on, "My yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

Sunday, 25.—Word being brought me that the Mayor was willing I should preach in the bowling green, I went thither in the evening. A huge multitude was quickly gathered together. I preached on, "I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God." Some attempted to disturb, but without success; the bulk of the congregation were deeply attentive. But as I was drawing to a conclusion, some of the Papists set on their work in earnest. They knocked down John Christian, with two or three more who had endeavored to quiet them; and then began to roar like the waves of the sea; but hitherto could they come and no farther. Some gentlemen, who stood near me, rushed into the midst of them; and, after bestowing some heavy blows, seized the ringleader and delivered him to the constable; and one of them undertook to conduct me home. So few received any hurt but the rioters themselves; which, I trust, will make them more peaceable for the time to come.

A Neglected School

Thursday, May 13.—We went on, through a most dreary country, to Galway; where, at the late survey, there were twenty thousand Papists and five hundred Protestants. But which of them are Christians, have the mind that was in Christ, and walk as He walked? And without this, how little does it avail, whether they are called Protestants or Papists! At six I preached in the court- house, to a large congregation, who all behaved well.

Friday, 14—In the evening I preached at Ballinrobe; and on Saturday went on to Castlebar. Entering the town, I was struck with the sight of the Charter school;—no gate to the courtyard, a large chasm in the wall, heaps of rubbish before the house door, broken windows in abundance, the whole a picture of slothfulness, nastiness, and desolation!

I did not dream there were any inhabitants, till, the next day, I saw about forty boys and girls walking from church. As I was just behind them, I could not but observe 1) that there was neither master nor mistress, though, it seems, they were both well; 2) that both boys and girls were completely dirty; 3) that none of them seemed to have any garters on, their stockings hanging about their heels; 4) that in the heels, even of many of the girls' stockings, were holes larger than a crown-piece. I gave a plain account of these things to the trustees of the Charter school in Dublin, whether they are altered or no, I cannot tell.

Mobbed by Masons

Monday, 24.—About noon I preached at Tonnylommon.

One of my horses having a shoe loose, I borrowed Mr. Watson's horse and left him with the chaise. When we came near Enniskillen, I desired two only to ride with me, and the rest of our friends to keep at a distance. Some masons were at work on the first bridge, who gave us some coarse words. We had abundance more as we rode through the town; but soldiers being in the street and taking knowledge of me in a respectful manner the mob shrank back. An hour after, Mr. Watson came in the chaise. Before he came to the bridge many ran together and began to throw whatever came next to hand. The bridge itself they had blocked up with large stones so that a carriage could not pass; but an old man cried out, "Is this the way you use strangers?" and rolled away the stones. The mob quickly rewarded him by plastering him over with mortar from head to foot. They then fell upon the carriage, which they cut with stones in several places, and well nigh covered with dirt and mortar. From one end of the town to the other, the stones flew thick about the coachman's head. Some of them were two or three pounds' weight, which they threw with all their might. If but one of them had struck him, it would have effectually prevented him from driving any farther; and, then, doubtless, they would have given an account of the chaise and horses.

I preached at Sydore in the evening and morning, and then set out for Roosky. The road lay not far from Enniskillen. When we came pretty near the town, both men and women saluted us, first with bad words and then with dirt and stones. My horses soon left them behind, but not till they had broken one of the windows, the glass of which came pouring in upon me; but did me no further hurt.

About an hour after, John Smith came to Enniskillen. The masons on the bridge preparing for battle, he was afraid his horse would leap with him into the river; and therefore chose to alight. Immediately they poured in upon him a whole shower of dirt and stones. However, he made his way through the town, though pretty much daubed and bruised.

Wednesday, 26.—We set out at half-hour past two, and reached Omagh a little before eleven. Finding I could not reach Ding Bridge by two o'clock in the chaise, I rode forward with all the speed I could; but the horse dropping a shoe, I was so retarded that I did not reach the place till between three and four. I found the minister and the people waiting; but the church would not nearly contain them, so I preached near it to a mixed multitude of rich and poor, churchmen, Papists, and Presbyterians. l was a little weary and faint when I came, the sun having shone exceedingly hot; but the number and behavior of the congregation made me forget my own weariness.

Having a good horse, I rode to the place where I was to lodge (two miles off) in about an hour. After tea they told me another congregation was waiting, so I began preaching without delay. I warned them of the madness which was spreading among them, namely, leaving the church. Most of them. I believe, will take the advice; I hope all that are of our society.

Wesley at Derry and Armagh

Thursday, 27.—I went on to Londonderry.

Friday, 28.—I was invited to see the bishop's palace (a grand and beautiful structure) and his garden, newly laid and exceedingly pleasant. Here I innocently gave some offense to the gardener by mentioning the English of a Greek word. But he set us right, warmly assuring us that the English name of the flower is not Crane's bill, but Geranium!

Saturday, 29.—We walked out to one of the pleasantest spots which I have seen in the kingdom. It is a garden laid out on the steep side of a hill, one shady walk of which, in particular, commands all the vale and the hill beyond. The owner finished his walks and died.

Saturday, June 5. Armagh.—I walked over the fine improvements which the Primate has made near his lodge. The ground is hardly two miles round, but it is laid out to the best advantage. Part is garden, part meadow, part planted with shrubs or trees of various kinds. The house is built of fine white stone and is fit for a nobleman. He intends to carry away a bog which lies behind it and have a large piece of water in its place. He intends also to improve the town greatly and to execute many other grand designs; I doubt too many even for a Primate of Ireland who is above seventy years old!

The Speaking Statue Again

Monday, 14.—After preaching at Lurgan, I inquired of Mr. Miller whether he had any thoughts of perfecting his speaking statue, which had so long lain by. He said he had altered his design; that he intended, if he had life and health, to make two which would not only speak, but sing hymns alternately with an articulate voice; that he had made a trial and it answered well. But he could not tell when he should finish it, as he had much business of other kinds and could give only his leisure hours to this. How amazing is it that no man of fortune enables him to give all his time to the work!

I preached in the evening at Lisburn. All the time I could spare here was taken up by poor patients. I generally asked, "What remedies have you used?" and was not a little surprised. What has fashion to do with physic? Why (in Ireland, at least), almost as much as with headdress. Blisters for anything or nothing were all the fashion when I was in Ireland last. Now the grand fashionable medicine for twenty diseases (who would imagine it?) is mercury sublimate! Why is it not a halter or a pistol? They would cure a little more speedily.

Tuesday, 15.—When I came to Belfast, I learned the real cause of the late insurrections in this neighborhood. Lord Donegal, the proprietor of almost the whole country, came hither to give his tenants new leases. But when they came, they found two merchants of the town had taken their farms over their heads; multitudes of them, with their wives and children, were turned out to the wide world. It is no wonder that, as their lives were now bitter to them, they should fly out as they did. It is rather a wonder that they did not go much farther. And if they had, who would have been most in fault? Those who were without home, without money, without food for themselves and families, or those who drove them to this extremity?

The Earthquake at Madeley

Monday, July 5.—About eleven we crossed Dublin Bar, and were at Hoylake the next afternoon. This was the first night I ever lay awake in my life, though I was at ease in body and mind. I believe few can say this: in seventy years I never lost one night's sleep!

I went, by moderate stages, from Liverpool to Madeley where I arrived on Friday, 9. The next morning we went to see the effects of the late earthquake; such it undoubtedly was. On Monday, 27, at four in the morning, a rumbling noise was heard, accompanied with sudden gusts of wind and wavings of the ground. Presently the earthquake followed, which shook only the farmer's house and removed it entire about a yard, but carried the barn about fifteen yards and then swallowed it up in a vast chasm. It tore the ground into numberless chasms, large and small; in the large, threw up mounts,31 fifteen or twenty feet high; it carried a hedge, with two oaks, above forty feet, and left them in their natural position. It then moved under the bed of the river; which, making more resistance, received a ruder shock, being shattered in pieces, and heaved up about thirty feet from its foundations. By throwing this and many oaks into its channel, the Severn was quite stopped up and constrained to flow backward, till, with incredible fury, it wrought itself a new channel. Such a scene of desolation I never saw. Will none tremble when God thus terribly shakes the earth?

Monday, August 16.—In the evening I preached at St. Austle; Tuesday, 17, in the coinage hall at Truro; at six, in the main street at Helstone. How changed is this town since a Methodist preacher could not ride through it without hazard of his life!

A Man of Seventy Preaches to 30,000 People

Saturday, 21.—I preached in Illogan and at Redruth; Sunday, 22, in St. Agnes church town, at eight; about one at Redruth; and at five, in the amphitheater at Gwennap. The people both filled it and covered the ground round about to a considerable distance. Supposing the space to be fourscore yards square and to contain five persons in a square yard, there must be above two and thirty thousand people, the largest assembly I ever preached to. Yet I found, upon inquiry, all could hear even to the skirts of the congregation! Perhaps the first time that a man of seventy had been heard by thirty thousand persons at once!

Monday, September 13.—My cold remaining, I was ill able to speak. In the evening I was much worse, my palate and throat being greatly inflamed. However, I preached as I could; but I could then go no farther. I could swallow neither liquids nor solids, and the windpipe seemed nearly closed. I lay down at my usual time, but the defluxion of rheum was so uninterrupted that I slept not a minute till nearly three in the morning. On the following nine days I grew better.

Sunday, 19.—I thought myself able to speak to the congregation, which I did for half an hour; but afterwards I found a pain in my left side and in my shoulder by turns, exactly as I did at Canterbury twenty years before. In the morning I could scarcely lift my hand to my head; but after being electrified I was much better, so that I preached with tolerable ease in the evening; and the next evening read the letters, though my voice was weak. From this time I slowly recovered my voice and my strength, and on Sunday preached without any trouble.

Monday, October 4.—I went, by Shepton Mallet, to Shaftesbury, and on Tuesday to Salisbury. Wednesday, 6. Taking chaise at two in the morning, in the evening I came well to London. The rest of the week I made what inquiry I could into the state of my accounts. Some confusion had arisen from the sudden death of my bookkeeper; but it was less than might have been expected.

A Monster Elm

Monday, 11, and the following days, I took a little tour through Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire. Between Northampton and Towcester we met with a great natural curiosity, the largest elm I ever saw; it was twenty-eight feet in circumference, six feet more than that which was some years ago in Magdalen College walks at Oxford.

30 Correct.

31 Correct.

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.

Next Selection Previous Selection