From Dublin to [Mary] Fletcher at Madeley. She had often wished to write to Fletcher this last year but did not want to add to her distress [over the death of John Fletcher]. [Elizabeth] Ritchie has however given her encouragement and so she has finally put pen to paper.
She was very grateful for Fletcher's gift of the 'precious relic' of one [John Fletcher] who was very dear to Brooke. Both the Fletchers were 'messengers of rich blessings to my soul…' Spiritual matters are discussed with particular regard to Mary Fletcher's influence on Brooke's progress as a Christian. Oblique reference is made to a visit by Fletcher to Dublin. Brooke has many trials both of the mind and the body but feels that God is using them for her own eventual good.
Brooke is sorry to have to part with 'sweet' [Elizabeth] Ritchie. Indeed they have seen very little of one another because of the many obstacles placed in Brooke's way. She could confide in Ritchie.
Brooke's husband [Henry] is 'much alive to God' but in a very weak state of health. They have four small children, the youngest of whom is four months old.
She would value Fletcher's prayers for her family and also for her poor widowed sister. Brooke has always remembered Fletcher [in her own prayers] at 10 o'clock since Fletcher requested her to do so.
In a postscript, she passes on the best wishes of dear Mrs Blachford.
- Elizabeth Ritchie (1754-c.1835) was born in Otley, Yorkshire, the daughter of a naval surgeon. Ritchie's parents were Methodists and John Wesley often stayed at their home. As a young woman, Ritchie attended her local parish church and regarded Methodism with some hostility. Converted in 1772 she was appointed a class leader and became influential in the Otley Methodist society as a teacher and spiritual advisor. After 1780 she travelled extensively and corresponded with many leading evangelicals including John Wesley, who summoned her to his side during his final illness. She was a close friend of the preacher Sarah Crosby. In 1801 she married Harvey Walklate Mortimer and settled in London where she resumed her role as a class leader. Source: Dictionary of Evangelical Biography, edited by Donald Lewis (1995) and Encyclopedia of World Methodism (1974)
- Henry Brooke (1738-1806) was born in C. Cavan, Ireland, the son of a Church of Ireland clergyman and nephew of Henry Brooke, author of The Fool of Quality. He trained as an artist in Dublin and in 1761 exhibited with great success in London. Brooke lost his savings in 1767 through a bad investment. His painting continued to attract some praise and was principally employed in the decoration of Roman Catholic chapels in his native country. He also produced work on mystical/mythological themes, a reflection of his own spiritual interests. Brooke began to correspond with John Wesley in 1762 and joined the Methodists three years later. He frequently entertained Wesley during his visits to Dublin and was a minor benefactor in Wesley's will. He married Anne Kirchoffer in 1767. She was a correspondent of the female evangelist Mary Fletcher. Source: Dictionary of Evangelical Biography, edited by Donald Lewis (1995) and DNB