Letter

Scope and Content

From Otley to Mary Fletcher. Words cannot express her concern arising from Sister [Sarah] Crosby’s visit to Birmingham. The painful news that Crosby brought with her filled Ritchie’s heart with grief ‘and often caused me to water my couch with tears.’ In the circumstances, she did not feel it right to continue with her journey ‘and though I only said to my friends that I thought it would be better to postpone my visits to them till spring, was often tempted to think “perhaps I may find matters so at Otley as to render it improper for me to leave that place again while a certain person lives.” I felt willing to do all in my power for her welfare and though this seemed to mitigate against my former leadings, yet I was enabled to believe they would be of God…My soul experienced much divine support during my time of trial…’ Spiritual matters are discussed in detail.

Ritchie has now been at Otley for more than five weeks and is grateful that she has not seen anything like what was hinted to her. One day after much prayer, she ventured to speak on the subject, and as ___ had been accustomed to drink to her victuals, rum and water, begged she would try to substitute something else: told her what had brought me home at this time and that some of her friends feared that she had at times used it too freely. She took it exceeding well: said if she had done it, it had been inadvertently and that she would rather take none at all…than hurt anyone. Her whole conduct since then has fully confirmed me it has been no rooted habit…’ Spiritual matters are discussed in detail. Ritchie has had some ‘blessed seasons’ with the people here. Spiritual matters are further discussed in detail.

Ritchie longs to hear how [Melville] Horne is doing and ‘what opens for Madeley.’ [Probable reference to the fact that Melville Horne was giving up the Madeley curacy upon his appointment to the Sierra Leone mission.] She mentioned to [Joseph Benson] what Fletcher has said respecting him but he responded that while a ‘fixed situation’ had its advantages, he felt that an itinerant ministry was his call. [Benson was an Anglican sympathizer and appears to have entertained some thoughts of taking Holy Orders. Fletcher would have been able through her connections to secure his ordination and appointment to Madeley.]

Has Fletcher heard from her husband’s family in Switzerland? ‘I cannot help thinking that except some very peculiar good is to be effected by their coming, the Lord will prevent them. You are His peculiar care and your heavenly husband will not suffer any additional encumberances to be brought on you…’

Sister [Ann] Tripp has been sick again but was a little better the last that Ritchie heard. She supposes that Sister [Sarah] Crosby ‘told you (though Miss Rhodes had talked even after my letter from Madeley of their all living altogether) a day or two before she left Leeds had told her, that she begun to think perhaps she was doing wrong in giving up the retired situation she enjoyed, that if they had bad health she might feel it a tie upon her which the Lord did not call her to etc etc and therefore thought it would be better to allow them a small addition to their income and with continuing to sell tea and some few articles, which they might do in a less house, she thought they might do very well. I could not help thinking Sister [Crosby] rather preferred the other way, but she very properly said she should not and begged I would not persuade Miss [Rhodes] either way…I found Miss [Rhodes] fully persuaded of what I could not but approve and as they had given warning to quit the house when she talked of their all living together, it was the cause of some exercise to Nancy [Tripp]. However I rather think they will leave and really I think they had better as the little business they may do among friends in a more private way they will be likely to answer better for them than what they are now so often are obliged to leave to the maid. In about a fortnight I hope to go over and shall hear and see how they go on.’

Miss Marshall sends her love as does Ritchie’s mother. Her regards should be passed to Sally [Lawrance], Mrs Ferriday, Mr and Mrs [Melville] Horne and Mr and Mrs Yates.

In a postscript, Ritchie mentions that ‘you will be sorry for what has happened respecting the life of our dear Father [John Wesley]. Dr [John] Whitehead was not of that mind when I left London. He then intended to share the profits with the bookroom for two years and then to resign the copyright to the bookroom entirely. I fear he has suffered himself to be [??]’ [The rest of this passage appears to be missing. In the immediate aftermath of Wesley’s death there was a rather unseemly dispute between his literary executors and other interested parties over the production of the first ‘authorized’ biography of Wesley to appear after the Methodist leader’s demise. ]