From Bishopsgate Street, London, to Madeley, Shropshire. William received some time ago, Mary's letter with [Melville] Horne's account of the [Missionary enterprise] in Sierra Leone [West Africa]. Their situation seems somewhat better than it was the last time that Horne wrote, although it is still not very good. William hopes that they [the missionaries Horne and Nathaniel Gilbert junior] will experience better weather and circumstances than has so far been the case.
Current affairs is in a state of constant change. A short time ago, the French [Revolutionary] army had completely overrun Flanders and were advancing on the Dutch frontier. In all likelihood the French would have occupied Holland, had it not been for the landing of the British Guards and their stopping of the French advance. Opposed also by the Austrians and Prussians, the French have now been driven back with heavy losses onto French territory. The situation in France now looks as if it will take a different course - the people are discouraged and are unwilling to join the army, the cost of government is very great and the pay of the military is in arrears, the value of the paper currency they have issued is reduced by over half and some of the provinces are in rebellion. The National Convention is talking of quitting Paris for fear of popular anger. It is a depressing prospect for them but no worse than they deserve since the murder of their King. William does not think that providence will allow them to succeed in anything of consequence.
Mary will no doubt hear of the 'great distress in London for want of money, & of great failures, of which a great many have happened, & many of the first houses in business, that is to say of the houses that have carried on the most extensive business, but not those that have been long established in a regular way - the country bankers have been much affected by it, but it has proceeded from their own imprudence, they have in many places taken all the money in the country & layed it out in estates & in other things, but they cannot [unreadable word] into money again, & have given their own notes [privately printed currency] instead of money, now that people are frightened they have run to the different towns & have brought the notes back to the bankers & asked for their money again, this having been laid out, cannot be returned…'
- Melville Horne (c.1761-c.1841) was the son of an Antiguan barrister and planter and the nephew of Nathaniel Gilbert (c.1721-1774) the pioneer of West Indian Methodism. Horne entered the Wesleyan itinerancy in 1784 and was ordained into the Anglican ministry a short time after on John Wesley's recommendation. In 1786 he succeeded to the curacy at John Fletcher's parish of Madeley, but retained his connection with Methodism and was appointed Superintendent of the new Wolverhampton circuit in 1787. In 1792 Horne became chaplain of Sierra Leone in West Africa where he joined his second cousin Nathaniel Gilbert junior. He was however unable to adapt to the climate and returned to England in 1793 and published his Letters on Missions a year later. Horne served as Vicar of Olney from 1796 to 1799 and then succeeded the evangelical minister David Simpson at Christ Church Macclesfield. Horne enjoyed a close friendship with Jabez Bunting but this turned to coldness on both sides which culminated in Horne's final break with Methodism in 1809. He later served Anglican parishes in Essex, Cornwall and Salford. Source: Dictionary of Evangelical Biography, edited by Donald Lewis (1995)
- Nathaniel Gilbert junior (1761-1807) was the son of Nathaniel Gilbert (c.1721-1774) the pioneer of West Indian Methodism. He was born on the island of Antigua and was ordained into the Church of England as a young man. Like his cousin Melville Horne, he served as a curate to John Fletcher at Madeley and in 1792 was appointed as the first chaplain to the settlement of freed slaves in Sierra Leone, West Africa. He returned to England after a stay in Africa of less than two years and spent his remaining years as the Vicar of Bledlow in Buckinghamshire. The architect Sir George Gilbert Scott was Gilbert's great grandson. Source: Dictionary of Evangelical Biography, edited by Donald Lewis (1995)