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popish priests, and greedily swallowed their absolution cordials, which, like other cordials, gave present ease, but wrought no cures."
Sherlock's letter was timely, and faithful, and did him honour; but it also helped to create the excitement which gave credence to the mad soldier's prophecy, and which led to the strange scenes witnessed during the night of April 3, and the early morn of April 4. There can be no question that, at this period, the wickedness of London and of the nation was enormous. The people were not only glutted with all the inordinate gratifications and pleasures common to the country; but they had grown delicate in vice, and had adopted all the dainties of debauchery from abroad; and it is a fact, that the very parties, who fled from London for fear of another earthquake, on returning, seemed desirous of apologizing for their cowardice by plunging into revels and riotings more dissolute than ever. Conscious of their folly, they imputed blame to Sherlock, for raising unnecessary fears, by his pastoral, excellent, and truly seasonable charge. Grub Street pamphlets, the harangues of coffee house libertines, and the craven and calumnious whispers of drawing rooms, once more filled with fugitives returned to forsaken homes, soon made his lordship the public butt of abusive ridicule.)
Where was Wesley in this unparalleled commotion ? For nearly three weeks after the first shock, on February 8, he remained in London, and held a "solemn fast day," and two watchnight meetings, besides other services, at all of which there were remarkable manifestations of the presence and power of God. He then, on February 27, set out for Bristol ; but was succeeded by his brother, who preached, at least, on four different occasions, respecting the fearful events which were then exciting the public mind. One of these was published, and is now included in Wesley's collected sermons, with the title “The Cause and Cure of Earthquakes." He also issued a pamphlet, entitled “Hymns occasioned by the Earthquake, March 8, 1750. In two parts.” The hymns
i London Magazine, 1750, p. 223.
1750 were nineteen in number, some of which are published in the Age 47 Methodist Hymn-book. One of these is the hymn numbered
555 ; and another is that commencing with the line: "How weak the thoughts and vain." Two or three of the verses may be quoted here :
How happy then are we,
Who build, O Lord, on Thee !
Though the shattered earth remove,
A house we call our own,
Which cannot be o'erthrown ;
Storms and earthquakes it defies ;
Built eternal in the skies.
High on Thy great white throne,
O King of saints, come down;
Now triumphantly descend ;
Joys begun which ne'er shall end."
Such was Charles Wesley's happy, hopeful, buoyant spirit, when all around him were well-nigh paralysed with fear.
During this earthquake commotion, the once gay and sprightly, but for long, long years, the cruelly treated and broken hearted Mehetabel Wesley was taken to the peace and purity of heaven. Of all the Wesley children, none were gifted with finer poetic genius than she. An unhappy marriage with an ignorant, drunken, brutal glazier, of the name of Wright, clouded, with distressing darkness, a life which ought to have been full of sunshine and of happiness. At the time of her peaceful death, Wesley was in Wales; but his brother had the mournful pleasure of repeatedly seeing her in her last sickness, of following her to her quiet grave, and of improving her blissful release from the sorrows of an afflicted life, by preaching from the text: “Thy sun shall no more go down, neither shall thy moon withdraw itself; for the Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning
shall be ended.” She died on the 21st of March, in the fifty- 1750 third year of her age.
Age 47 On his way from London to Bristol, besides preaching at Colnbrook, Reading, Blewbury, Oxford, and Cirencester, Wesley read Dr. Bates's “Elenchus Motuum nuperorum in Anglia,” and pronounces his thoughts generally just, and his Latin not much inferior to Cæsar's, but says "he has no more mercy on the Puritans, than upon Cromwell."
Seventeen days were spent in Bristol and at Kingswood, during which he began writing his French Grammar; met the preachers every day at four in the afternoon; and expelled a boy from Kingswood school, who had studiously laboured to corrupt all the others. The Kingswood society was stationary; that at Bristol a great deal worse. They complained of the want of lively preachers, and had among them an almost universal deadness. He writes : “What cause have we to be humbled over this people! Last year more than a hundred members were added ; this year near a hundred are lost.
Such a decay has not been in this society, since it began to meet together.”
On the 19th of March, Wesley and Christopher Hopper set out for Ireland; but it was not until the 6th of April that they were able to sail from Holyhead to Dublin. In riding to Brecknock, Wesley's horse fell twice; but without hurt either to man or beast. While they were crossing the Welsh mountains, rain was incessant; and the wind blew so boisterously, that it was with the utmost difficulty they could save themselves from being blown over their horses' heads. In a cottage on the road, Wesley "sat down for three or four hours, and translated Aldrich's Logic." At Holyhead, he overtook John Jane, a preacher, in the third year of his itinerancy, who had set out from Bristol with three shillings in his pocket For six nights out of seven he had been entertained by utter strangers; and, on his arrival, had just a penny left. Five months afterwards, this brave-hearted itinerant died, his last words being, “I have found the love of God in Christ Jesus.” A friend, who was with him at the time, observes:1 "all his clothes, linen and woollen, his
1 Methodist Magazine, 1779, p. 257.
1750 stockings, hat, and wig, are not thought sufficient to pay his Age 47
All the funeral expenses, which amount to £i 175. 3d. money he had was one shilling and fourpence. But he had enough. Food, raiment, and a good conscience were all he wanted here." "Enough,” adds Wesley, "for any unmarried preacher of the gospel to leave to his executors."
Wesley and Hopper embarked at Holyhead on the 29th of March, and found on board Mr. Griffith, of Carnarvonshire, “a clumsy, overgrown, hardfaced man, who poured out such a volley of ribaldry, obscenity, and blasphemy, every second or third word being an oath, as was scarce ever heard at Billingsgate." Wesley says: "His countenance I could only compare to that which I saw in Drury Lane thirty years ago, of one of the ruffians in 'Macbeth.' Finding there was no room for me to speak, I retired into my cabin, and left him to Mr. Hopper.” Hopper adds: “God stopped his mouth, and he was confounded."1 Jonah was on board; and, after being tossed by a tremendous storm for two and twenty hours, the Methodist itinerants were thankful to get back to the bay that they had left.
On landing, Wesley preached to "a room full of men, daubed with gold and silver,” some of whom "rose up and went away railing and blaspheming.” The next night, he was about to preach again, when Griffith, at the head of a drunken rabble, burst open both the outer and inner doors, struck Wesley's host, kicked the poor man's wife, and, with twenty full mouthed oaths and curses, demanded, “Where is the parson ?" Wesley was locked in another room, the door of which Griffith broke. The man was far too big to be a climber; but, notwithstanding this, impelled by his bad passions, he mounted a chair to search for Wesley on the top of the bed tester ; but the burly detective fell down backwards, and then with his troop departed. Wesley having descended to a lower room, and spent half an hour in prayer with a small company of poor people gathered for the purpose, Griffith and his gang again assembled. Griffith burst into the house ; a young girl, standing in the passage with
1 Methodist Magazine, 1781, p. 92.
a pail of water, drenched him from head to foot, and made 1750 the bully cry “Murder! murder!" Another locked the Age 47 door, when, finding himself a prisoner, the poor wretch had to beg most piteously to be released, and to give his word of honour, that he and his companions would quietly decamp
At length, after a detention which had severely taxed Wesley's patience, he and Hopper again embarked, and on April 6 arrived safe at Dublin.
To his great annoyance, he found that, during his absence, the Dublin society had been beguiled by a man of the name of Roger Ball, who had been employed to preach to the Dublin congregations, and had been domiciled as a member of Wesley's family. The man was an antinomian of the worst description, a crafty debauchee, full of deceit, and holding the most abominable errors, by means of which he had done a large amount of mischief. Some were disposed to give up the sacrament; and all were inclined to drop the Tuesday and Thursday preaching, on the ground that “the dear Lamb is the only teacher." For years, this infamous man hung upon the skirts of the Methodist societies.
Six days after his arrival in Dublin, Wesley had an unexpected interview with a woman of great, though unenviable fame. Lætitia Pilkington was the daughter of a Dublin physician, and was born in that city, in 1712. Her sprightliness and charms attracted numerous admirers, and among others, the Rev. Matthew Pilkington, author of a well known volume of miscellanies. To this gentleman she was married. Dissension soon sprung up, which ended in separation. She then fell into a licentious life, and once was in the Marshalsea for debt. Colley Cibber obtained her release from prison, and procured her a subscription of fifteen guineas, with which she opened a book shop in St. James's Street. She was the author of a comedy, called “The Turkish Court"; a tragedy, entitled “The Roman Father"; and also another piece, “The Trial of Constancy," and other poems. Her most famous production, however, was her own Life, in two volumes, written with indecent freedom, but shrewd and entertaining, and displaying extensive knowledge of the world. Dean Swift was one of her intimate friends, and had a high opinion of her