From Diana Thomas at Kington to Mary Fletcher. Last Thursday, Thomas was favoured with a token of Fletcher's kind love and rememberance of her in a letter from brother [Richard?] Butts in which he informed Thomas that he had had the pleasure of seeing Fletcher and conversing with her. Butts also passed on Fletcher's message, for which Thomas is grateful. Spiritual matters are discussed in detail. Reference is made to Fletcher's poor state of health and her physical pains.
Thomas feels great gratitude to God for her own last affliction - 'first for the divine support afforded me under extreme pain of body and a calm resignation to my masters and dear Fathers rod; a willingness to use the means prescribed looking to my heavenly physician ... I really had converse with the triune God ... Satan was not permitted to come near but once, and that was when the blood was running from a vein opened on the back of my hand - and the inflummation ran so high, I heard the surgeon say to the physician "I fear, I cannot stop it". I was pleased ... as I thought it would be an easy death, but in a moment I reproved myself, or rather the spirit of God ... After some weeks, one night, I asked one of my dear young friends to read a hymn - I asked her to read in a whispering tone, but I could not hear - but my God read to me, preached to me, and supported me ... I thank God on this account for his visitation'. Reference is made to the point made in some of John Fletcher's letters that there are lessons to be learned in affliction, which are not to be learned anywhere else, and that thought gave Thomas great comfort. She wishes that a copy of John Fletcher's published works were in every household. She is also pleased for her affliction because it opened the way for her to leave business, which is something that she suspected God wanted her to do for the last three years. Her business was so much among the socially prominent of the world that she used to groan inwardly, yet was too afraid to give it up because of the effect that would have on her income and capacity to help the poor. She prayed that the Lord would make plain what was best for her to do, and she feels that her illness was an answer to that request. Thomas has now abandoned her business and is settled into a comfortable place with her old servant Mary. She has often thought on stormy winter nights when Mary was out at chapel that the Lord had shut her in safe - 'O the goodness of God to unworthy me'. Her health has also been a little better, although she has for the last fortnight been taking a mercury based medicine that has made her feel very weak, but has made her nights a little better as she can lie down with greater comfort.
Thomas has still been able to meet sometimes with her class and to attend preaching.
She supposes that Mary Tooth will have to read this letter to Fletcher as she is now so weak, and that Thomas will not be able to expect to get a few lines in reply. She would be grateful to hear from Tooth how Fletcher is doing. She would also be grateful if her regards could be passed to John Radford with thanks for his kind invitation to visit Shrewsbury, but she must decline.
Mrs [Martha] Marshall from Bewdley came to see her last week and asks that her love be passed to Fletcher.
In a postscript, Thomas mentions that Mr Butts informs her that Fletcher was sorry that she was unaware that Thomas had spoken in public during her visit to Madeley. 'My good friend I should have troubled [you] with another visit, only I was afraid of your asking me to speak - I dont know whether I was right or not - there are times and places that I cannot feel I am commissioned to speak in public, though I have no doubt upon my mind but the Lord called me to the work and has owned and blessed me in the work ... it appears sometimes to me that I have filled up my commission and I am satisfied and thankful - at other times, I am inclined to think He will raise me up and lead me out again'
- John Radford (1784-1848) was born in Bristol and was converted under the ministry of the Wesleyan Henry Moore. He entered the itinerancy in 1807 and exercised an active circuit ministry of forty-one years in England and Wales. He died suddenly from cholera while on his way home from the Conference of 1848. Radford's brother William (1779-1844) was also a Wesleyan minister. Source: Minutes of Conference 1848
- Martha Marshall (1748-1835) of Bewdley in the Stourport circuit was a member of the Methodist society for fifty years and was acquainted with Mary Fletcher of Madeley. She died on 18 December 1835. Source: Arminian Magazine 1835, p.227 and Fletcher-Tooth collection (MARC)