From Benjamin Longmore in Coalbrookdale to Mary Tooth. He has no intention of bringing up a former subject any more than is necessary to explain himself, but nevertheless raises the following matter.
At the time that he wrote to Tooth five years ago, he had very little acquaintance with her and this caused him to doubt the wisdom of the proposal [of marriage] that he made, as well as the sincerity of his affection. Since then, he has had ample proof from his own feelings to satisfy his doubts in both areas. Five years ago, what he wished could not and would not be permitted, and he therefore concluded that if he avoided her company, he would be able to forget her. ‘I have so far given way to such an idea that it is now become a question…whether there is not a danger of its going too far, and whether I do not, now, want [ie lack] that respect & love towards you , which is due to you, even as a neighbour…’ Recently he has been thinking that is a distance between them that is not in their spiritual interest and inconsistent with their membership of the same Christian family. Longmore feels very uncomfortable at the prospect of meeting her, and unless he is mistaken, she feels the same.
An instance occurred the other day and it is this that provoked him into writing this letter, albeit with reluctance. The instance that he refers to was the occasion of Mr [John] Furness44 [Wesleyan itinerant stationed in the Shrewsbury circuit which included Madeley] going from [Coalbrookdale] a few weeks ago to see Mrs Fletcher in Madeley. He asked Longmore to accompany him and he felt that he could not, and was obliged to say only that he felt ‘something unpleasant at the idea of seeing you’. This gave rise to the notion that if they avoid each other here on earth, how can they meet in heaven?
There are two questions here; firstly, does she also feel uncomfortable in his presence? If he is mistaken, then he can only ask that she put this letter on the fire and trouble herself no more about it. However if she does feel uncomfortable, this gives rise to the second question – How can they solve this problem? He would be grateful for a letter at her leisure.
‘But should I never have any thing more from you, should I never be blessed with the privilege of your acquaintance or society; even if this should be…pray for me. For, though I am unworthy of your notice, [unreadable word] from the meaness of my birth and parentage, the deficiency of my education & want of mannrs, the weakness of my mind and understanding and above all from the want of religion…’ [the rest of the paragraph is badly damaged and virtually unreadable in places].
- John Furniss (1760-1830) was born at Stony Middleton in Derbyshire. He joined the Methodist Society in Sheffield in 1781 and entered the itinerancy two years later. Furniss exercised an active circuit ministry until declining health forced him into superannuation in 1828. Source: Minutes of Conference 1830