From Leeds to Madeley. Fletcher's very long silence has given rise to fears about her health, although her Leeds friends hope that the cause of her silence is pressure on her time. Crosby wrote soon after they settled in this house and would have written again but was waiting for a reply.
For several weeks, Crosby has been busy with visiting the sick and dying and has not been in good health herself.
She would be grateful if Fletcher could let her know as soon as she can, how Fletcher's health fares. How are the lumps in her breast? If Fletcher is unable to write herself, could not Sally [Sarah Lawrance] write a few lines?
How is dear [Melville] Horne? They have heard that he has returned [from Sierra Leone]. Reference is made to Mrs Yates, Mrs Ferne, Mrs Micklewhite, Mr and Mrs Walter and Mrs Whitehouse. Miss Rhodes is presently at Otley with poor Miss Marshall, who is very ill and close to death. Crosby assumes that Fletcher knows that [Elizabeth] Ritchie is in London.
Poor Mrs Clifton is dead. She had been thought to be dying just before Crosby returned from her visit to Madeley, but after being confined to her bed for four or five months, made a good recovery. Her condition was quite changeable until she died, although she was always discontented with everything around her. Clifton often claimed to be happy but was in fact very ill-tempered. Her friends did not think she 'wd be saved, but as they judged her INSAIN [insane], no-one thot she was dieing; Her nurse laid her down to sleep, & soon found she was DEAD! 0 how awfull!'.
A brother of that Miss Cockles, who died 'so triumphant', has recently died himself. Crosby spent a great deal of time with him and believes that 'he is gone safe tho unawakened, till his last sickness'. He was aged twenty-three.
Sister Ellay is also dead at the age of fifty-five after many weeks of extreme pain. Crosby was praying with her at the end. 'It was her whom Satan bid ask Mrs [Anne] Clapham [aka Walker], how many children she had; & if she said 5, then he sd you will know she is an imposter. Perhaps you remember this circumstance?'
They were greatly comforted yesterday by the arrival of Fletcher's letter. They rejoiced very much at the news that her health was much better - '0 what a great mercy, that those lumps are so softened & easey! I trust they will always remain so…'
This is truly an age in which prayer and faith are needed. Crosby trusts that God will defend the nation and bless the King and Queen etc. She thinks that it would be awful for Britain to unite with the French. With regard to Church matters, 'WE DO as you have OBSERVED for wch many have blamed us; & sd we were to QUIET: As we & many are DECIDEDLY FOR THE OLD PLAN wch has not hitherto been interrupted at LEEDS. But [Thomas] Hanby has been giving the sacraments at several societys around it; at wch many are grieved. Cd it be as you observe, none need object, but we know it has caused divisions in every place where they have tried it, but we are all quiet HERE: as far as we know. W. Westerman made some stir abt it at the first, & a few persons left the society'.
They have lately been blessed here 'with a good simple woman whom they call Praying Nanny [Anne Cutler?]: She prays very loud, & after the manner of Mr Bramah; but more uncommon. She has been made very usefull at Birstal, & Dewsbury; & at the [Kirkstall] FORGE. Men, women & children have been brot into liberty, & some at Leeds. The spirits of many have been quickened, & the spirit of prayer pourd upon them in prayer meetings. Miss Rhodes, seems to have a public call given her, to pray at meetings, & is very happy: our preachers suffer us [female preachers]. They are not as they used to be. I do what I can, wch is but little, as I cannot bear much walking: but Miss [Rhodes] go without me to meetings, that are far off. I am grown very feeble & often full of pain, but as my classes & bands now come home to me, I can speak to them, for wch I am thankfull…' Spiritual matters are discussed.
Crosby's dear friend has asked her to inform Fletcher that she is pressing forward and has never lost the blessing which she received at Madeley, although she has experienced temptation. Her health is reasonable as long as she does not exercise too hard.
Reference is made to Fletcher's great kindness, with particular regard to a money draft (drawn on Mr Mayer) for £15. It came at a very useful time, for trade is dead at present as indeed is common at this time of the year.
Reference is made to [Anne] Tripp and to dear Mrs Dobinson [of Derby].
'It was not a letter to Mr Woolf [George Wolff?], but from the TRUSTEES to the Society desireing them, who were for the Old Plan, to write to Mr Woolf. I do not understand what you mean by "as we go to work, drawing down some awefull stroke upon us", but you will please to tell us your meaning in your next…' They would also be pleased to receive some account of Mr Home's sufferings and achievements [as a chaplain in Sierra Leone].
Crosby found that she could read Fletcher's letter very well without glasses. She trusts that Matty is still with her.
- Thomas Hanby (1733-96) was born in Carlisle, the son of a manager of a woollen factory. He was orphaned at an early age and was brought up by his aunt at Barnard Castle. Hanby was raised an Anglican but was converted by a Methodist shoemaker from Leeds, while making his living as a stuff-maker. He entered the itinerancy in 1754 and exercised a long and successful circuit ministry in England and Scotland. He was appointed a member of the Legal Hundred in 1784 and the following year was one of those ordained by John Wesley for the work in Scotland. Hanby was a keen supporter of the right of Methodists to receive the sacraments from their own preachers. He served as President of Conference in 1794. Source: Dictionary of Evangelical Biography 1739-1860, edited by Donald M. Lewis (1995)
- Anne Cutler (1759-94) was born in Preston, Lancashire. She was converted by the preaching of William Bramwell and herself achieved fame through the holiness of her life and the power of her public praying. She visited many circuits with great effect and was often instrumental in the promotion of revivals. She died in Macclesfield, Cheshire. Source: William Bramwell, A Short Account of the Life and Death of Anne Cutler (1796) and Revd. B. Smith, The History of Methodism in Macclesfield (1875) and Dictionary of Evangelical Biography 1739-1860, edited by Donald M. Lewis (1995)
- George Wolff (1736-1828) was the Danish Consul in England and an intimate friend of John Wesley. Wolff was a worshipper at City Road Chapel and a generous contributor to Methodist causes. In the closing years of his life, Wesley was a regular visitor to Wolffs home in Balham, London, and appointed him to be an executor of his will. Wolff was married to the widow of Captain John Cheesement, a trustee of City Road. Source: Wesleyan Methodist Magazine 1828 and Encyclopedia of World Methodism (1974)