From Bristol to Mary Fletcher in Madeley. Reference is made to Fletcher’s financial investments in stocks and shares, with particular reference to her dealings with Messrs [William] Pine and Mr Ward.
She was pleased to discover that their friends called on Fletcher on their way back to Bristol from the Manchester Conference [Joseph Benson and Mr and Mrs Richard Rodda] – it was a blessing to them.
Fletcher will know the result of Conference. No division has taken place and a considerable check applied to some people that were looking to have everything their own way. Ritchie intends to say little on the subject but will ‘pursue outwardly my old path: going to [the Anglican] Church in church hours and attending the [Methodist] preaching etc as usual. The two sticks at Bristol are (at least outwardly) made one. Mr Benson and [Henry] Moore preached in the two chapels last Sunday which are so very near each other and explained matters to the people. Last night Mr Moore preached at the [New] Room and Mr Benson preaches in the new chapel [Ebenezer Chapel opened in June 1795] tonight. Mr Moore leaves Bristol today [presumably for his new station of Liverpool] and now things are to be put on the following footing: preaching at the New Room at 7 on a Sunday morning: at the new chapel at 5 in the evening [and] at the New Room on a Monday evening. At the new chapel on a Tuesday and the [class] leaders’ meeting at the New Room. The Thursday night – preaching at the New Room and the bands meet there. At the new chapel on a Friday evening and the penitents meet at the New Room on a Saturday night. At Portland Chapel and Guinea Street, things continue as usual. At the former they have preaching in church hours and the Sacrament, so that all sides may be accommodated if they can agree among themselves, and really the persons that have carried things to the height to which they have arisen at Bristol are more to blame than the people and I hope in a little time the present noise and clamour will subside…’ Ritchie feels it her duty to counsel those who she meets with to keep apart from the controversy and concentrate on spiritual matters.
Ritchie did not listen to Moore preach last night and does not intend going tonight to hear Benson, but after this row is over, she will attend preaching at both the New Room and the new chapel and expects to listen to Mr [Thomas] Rutherford at the New Room this Thursday evening.
Dear Sister [Elizabeth] Johnson does not approve of the concessions made by the followers of the “Old Plan.” She thinks that much wrong spirit still remains and that as this accommodation is a product of human policy, little good will result. Johnson does not intend leaving Methodism but has told her particular friends that she will wait until at least the next Conference before she decides whether or not to attend the new chapel. ‘I should not wonder if our Lord does not take her before that time and allow her to join the Church of the first born.’ Johnson is very unwell at present and is suffering from violent night sweats and fever. Spiritual matters are discussed with particular regard to Johnson’s physical decline. Johnson is going to travel into the country to see if a change of air would help.
Reference is made to Fletcher’s poor health. Her regards should be passed to Sally [Lawrance]. ‘I rejoice in her prosperity and pray she may so feel the anointing of the Holy One as to be more and more useful.’ Her love should also be passed to dear Mrs Ferriday and the other people with whom she has enjoyed sweet communion in times past.
Ritchie does not know when she will return to Yorkshire but it will not be this winter as she can be more useful here in helping ‘to still the storm.’ She also feels better spiritually and physically here than she does in Yorkshire.
In a postscript dated August 19th she adds that Mr [John] Furz has not lived in Bristol for many years. She does not know where he resides and none of their friends know anything either.
‘I suppose you have heard Dr [Thomas] Coke and Mr Moore had such a quarrel at the Conference as unfitted them both for attending the next day.’ The doctor’s fever, which he came down with in Dublin, returned and he felt rather light-headed. He was seen by two physicians and is now feeling better.
‘Mr Moore after preaching last Sunday night desired his friends to meet him at the new chapel on Monday evening that they might go together to the [New] Room. They did and attended him in form. Their own singers welcomed him with the words they used to sing when dear Mr [John] Wesley used to come among them. He preached without noticing past things and the singers sung after preaching some occasional things on his account. I fear the old spirit is not cast out, but this postscript is only for yourself.’
By a letter that has just arrived, she is informed that Mr Furz lives in Frome. Mr Wathen who has been in Frome recently mentioned that he was resident there and says ‘he is like the good old apostle who breathed nothing but love and love one another.’
Ritchie is sending Fletcher the ‘trustee minutes of Conference.’
- John Furz (1717-1800) was born in Wilton, Wiltshire. He was raised in the Church of England and was converted by the preaching of Westley Hall, brother-in-law of the Wesleys. Furz began to preach in his own home and in a private house licensed for dissenting worship. Attempts were made to curb his activities but he was supported by the Earl of Pembroke and the local mayor. Furz entered the Wesleyan itinerancy in 1758 and served mainly in Wales and the west of England. He superannuated in 1780 after starting to suffer from mental instability and died at Bath. Source: Dictionary of Evangelical Biography, edited by Donald Lewis (1995)