From Bristlington. Ireland leaves tomorrow morning with his family for the South and he could not depart without informing her that he has read her last dear letter. He thanks the Lord for her wisdom. Ireland is very comfortable with the prospect of them ‘all at work in gleaning[?] up the life and actions of our dear friend [John Fletcher] whose memory will be every day more precious’.
He lately parted with Mr Townsend who speaks of [Fletcher] as the greatest man that ever lived in this century and begs that his life should not be written in haste. ‘Mr [John] Wesley has written to me + informs me that he shall write his Life. On the other side you have a copy of my answer to his letter. I have several letters from his [Fletcher] friends in the South of France to you. They are chiefly letters of condolence, one from Mr Grande. Another from Mr Pomin, the minister & a third from the pious Davijohn. These letters if I translated them wd tend only to open the wound [suffered by Mary Fletcher] & not edify. I have therefore omitted translated them for the present & will take the liberty of expressing your thanks for the present & will take the liberty of expressing your thanks for the part they take in your great loss. I am happy to find that all your outward matters [ie secular concerns] are in a good train…I have often felt that I would have divided the last shilling with him [Fletcher]. We were once for months travelling together day & night & when we parted we both wept…such a soul I never knew, such a great man in every sense of the word: its my opinion has not lived in my day & therefore we must be careful that we don’t lessen the glorious light wch God [unreadable word] down upon him. He was too great to bear the name of any sect, as a minister or Xtian…’.
In a postscript, he mentioned that if Wesley embarked upon this project [biography of Fletcher], it would be [Thomas] Coke who would be the author - ‘he will be known soon’.
Transcript of a letter from James Ireland to John Wesley
In answer to John Wesley’s kind letter, he would like to say that ‘I have ever respected & honoured you & hope you’ll [missing part of letter] to believe that I am your friend, but I cannot [unreadable word] with any material for you, to write the life of my dear friend . That is a matter I have much at heart & will of the Lord presses[?] me collect some material wch I shall lay before Mrs Fletcher who must consider of & determine who shall [unreadable word] those we may collect’.