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To meet this necessity, he "enlarged" the existing school
Wesley selected Kingswood for his school because "it was private, remote from all high roads, on a small hill sloping to the west, sheltered from the east and north, and affording room for large gardens." He made it capable of accommodating fifty children, besides masters and servants; reserving one room and a small study for himself.3 On the front of the building was placed a tablet, with the inscription, "In Gloriam Dei Optimi Maximi, in Usum Ecclesiæ et Reipublicæ "; and under this, "Jehovah Jireh," in Hebrew characters. The great defect of the situation was the want of water. Vincent Perronet, in a letter to Walter Sellon, in 1752, writes: "My dear brother John Wesley wonders at the bad taste of those, who seem not to be in raptures with Kingswood school. If there was no other objection, but the want of good water upon the spot, this would be insuperable to all wise men, except himself and his brother Charles." 5 For more than a hundred years, this was a radical defect, and was one of the chief reasons which induced the Conference to remove the school to another place in 1852.
It has been already stated, that the school was designed.
Southey says this was Lady Maxwell, forgetting that Wesley had no acquaintance with her ladyship for many a long year after this.
Myles's Chronological History, p. 464.
3 Wesley's Works, vol. xiii., p. 277.
* Methodist Magazine, 1852, p. 51.
not only for the sons of preachers, but for the children of 1748 those Methodists who were able and wishful to give their Age 45 offspring an education, superior to that imparted in the villages or towns in which they respectively resided. If it be asked, why Wesley did not advise such Methodists to send their children to the boarding schools then existing? the answer is-1. Because most of these schools were in large towns, to which he greatly objected. 2. Because all sorts of children, religious and irreligious, were admitted. 3. Because, in many instances, the masters were regardless of the principles and practice of Christianity, and were utterly indifferent whether their scholars were papists or protestants, Turks or Christians. 4. Because, in most of the great schools, the education given was exceedingly defective, and the class books were imperfect in style and sense, and, in some cases, absolutely profane and polluting.1
For such reasons, Wesley opened his new school in Kingswood, on the 24th of June, 1748, by preaching on the text, "Train up a child," etc.; after which he and his brother administered the sacrament to the crowd who had come from distant places; and then drew up the scholastic rules, which were published soon after.
The object of the school was "to train up children in every branch of useful learning." None but boarders were to be admitted, and “these were to be taken in, between the years of six and twelve, in order to be taught reading, writing, arithmetic, English, French, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, history, geography, chronology, rhetoric, logic, ethics, geometry, algebra, physics, and music." They were all to "be brought up in the fear of God; and at the utmost distance, as from vice in general, so in particular from idleness and effeminacy." Wesley adds: "The children of tender parents, so called (who are indeed offering up their sons and their daughters unto devils), have no business here; for the rules will not be broken, in favour of any person whatsoever. Nor is any child received unless his parents agree that he shall observe all the rules of the house; and that they
1 Wesley's Works, vol. xiii., p. 276,
1748 Age 45
will not take him from school, no, not a day, till they take him for good and all."
Wesley's design, in founding the school, was, in the highest degree, benevolent and pure; but some of his rules were as absurd as inexperienced philosophy could make them. The diet, consisting of bacon, beef, and mutton, bread and butter, greens, water gruel, and apple dumplings, was unexceptionable. Going to bed at eight, and sleeping on mattresses, were also commendable arrangements. But what can be said of the rule, that every child was to rise, the year round, at four o'clock, and spend the time till five in private, reading, singing, meditating, and praying? Who will defend the rule, that no play days were to be permitted, and no time allowed, on any day, for play, on the ground that he who plays when he is a child will play when he becomes a man? What again about the rule, that every child, if healthy, should fast every Friday till three o'clock in the afternoon? No wonder that Wesley complains of his rules being habitually broken. With such a programme, the school became to him a source of inexpressible annoyance. Children were removed by their parents, and some were dismissed as incorrigible. Enforced religion created a disgust for it, and this imperious way of making saints, in some instances, made the children hypocrites.
At five every morning, they attended public religious service, and again at seven every night. At six, they breakfasted; at seven, school began; at eleven, they walked or worked; at twelve, they dined, and then worked in the garden or sang till one; from one till five, they were again in school; from five to six, was their hour for private prayer; and from six to seven, they again walked or worked; when they all had supper on bread and butter, and milk by turns; and at eight, marched off to bed. On Sundays, they dressed and breakfasted at six; at seven, learnt hymns or poems; at eight, attended public service; at nine, went to the parish church; at one, dined and sang; at two, attended public service; and at four, were privately instructed. Six masters were employed; one for teaching French, two for reading and writing, and three for the ancient languages. The charge for each boy's board and education, including books, pens, ink, and paper,
was £14 a year.
Walter Sellon, John Jones, and James
Does history record a school parallel to Wesley's school at
On June 27, three days after the opening of Kingswood school, Wesley set out for the north of England. On his way, he preached at Wallbridge "to a lively congregation"; and at Stanley, "in farmer Finch's orchard." He spent two days at dear old Epworth; preached four times; heard Mr. Romley, whose "smooth, tuneful voice," so often used in blaspheming the work of God, was now nearly lost; and received the sacrament from Mr. Hay, the rector. The Methodist society, though not large, had been useful, and sabbath breaking and drunkenness, cursing and swearing, were hardly known. At Hainton, "chiefly owing to the miserable diligence of the poor rector," the congregation was small. At Coningsby, he preached to one of the largest congregations he had seen in Lincolnshire, and disputed, for an hour and a half, with a Baptist minister upon baptism. At Grimsby, the congregation not only filled the room, but the stairs and adjoining rooms, and many stood in the street below, notwithstanding Mr. Prince had bitterly cursed the
1 Short Account of Kingswood School, 1749.
2 Myles's History; and Methodist Magazine, 1778, p. 533.
4 Ibid. 1779, p. 42.
1748 Age 45
poor Methodists in the name of the Lord. At Laseby, he had "a small, earnest congregation"; and, at Crowle, a wilder one than he had lately seen. Thus preaching at almost every place where he halted, he reached Newcastle on Saturday, July 9.
Here, and in all the country societies round about, he found an increase of members, and more of the life and power of religion among them, than he had ever found before. The boundaries of the Newcastle circuit were,-Allandale on the west, Sunderland on the east, Berwick on the north, and Osmotherley on the south, an immense tract of country, situated in, at least, four different counties. This Wesley traversed, preaching, visiting classes, and founding societies.
Having spent more than five weeks among these northern Methodists, Wesley, on the 16th of August, started southwards, taking Grace Murray with him, to whom he had proposed marriage. During the first day's journey, he preached at Stockton, near the market place, "to a very large and very rude congregation;" again in the market place at Yarm; and again, in the midst of a continuous rain, in the street at Osmotherley.
Proceeding to Wakefield, he became the guest of Francis Scott, a local preacher, part of whose joiner's shop was used as a preaching room.2 Thence he went to Halifax, where he attempted to preach at the market cross to "an immense number of people, roaring like the waves of the sea." A man threw money among the crowd, creating great disturbance. Wesley was besmeared with dirt, and had his cheek laid open by a stone. Finding it impossible to make himself heard, he adjourned to a meadow near Salterhebble, and spent an hour with those that followed him "in rejoicing and praising God." He then went to Bradford, where the only person who misbehaved was the parish curate.
At Haworth, even at five o'clock in the morning, the church was nearly filled. Grimshaw read prayers, and Wesley
1 Minutes (edit. 1862).
2 Methodist Magazine, 1838, p. 555
3 “Methodism in Halifax,” p. 65.