Letter

Scope and Content

From the house of William Smyth esq., Green Park Buildings in Bath to Mary Fletcher in Madeley. Althought she has not written to Fletcher for an unusually long time, she has often felt sweet fellowship with her.

Ritchie was unwell for some time after she came into this part of the ‘vineyard’ although she is much better now thanks to God, Dr Lowder’s medicine and the temperate air, which suits her much more than the cold north.

‘My late complaints have arose from weakness and are weakening, and as Sally [Lawrance?] is near my age and may be subject to the same (namely too great and frequent a discharge) I will tell you what I take; ten drops of tincture of [unreadable word] in spirits of salt, three times a day in a glass of water. It seems to strengthen my whole frame…’

Reference is made in great detail to the investments made by [William] Pine on behalf of Fletcher, Mr Ferriday and Mr Walter in the [Kennet and Avon] Canal Company. Reference is made to the difficulties caused by the shortage of money arising from the war. [Anglo-French war 1793-1815] At this end of the canal the cost of the work has not exceeded the budget but there is an overspend at the other end of the canal – they were wronged by a gentleman who ‘chiefly managed at the Newbury end’ but who has now been found out. Fletcher may show this letter to the other investors.

Dear [Elizabeth] Johnson has recently had a bad seizure resulting from ‘a secretion of bile.’ It had been feared that the attack would prove fatal but she has recovered and her spirit is more lively than ever. Johnson feels that she has been spared a little longer so that she can ‘call on sinners to awake out of sleep and on believers to come into more abundant life.’ One or two of their other friends have lately had happy deaths.

The youngest daughter of dear Mrs Ford has lately began to be more serious in her religion. The oldest of her sisters is also ‘well-disposed [and] her heart is attracted heavenward, but I dare not call her awakened yet.’

There is a blessed revival going on in some rural parts of the Bristol circuit particularly around Kingswood. The old people say that while they have experienced some good years previously, this is the best of the lot.

The people here are very low. Ritchie has been spending a lot of her time visiting the sick and the Lord has been drawing closer to himself rich and poor people alike. Perhaps Fletcher has heard Lady Mary [Fitzgerald] speak of one Mrs Pelham, who was a lady of the bedchamber to the Princess of Wales. The death of Pelham’s husband has deadened her to all earthly matters and she ‘now only wishes to live for eternity.’ Lady Mary introduced Pelham to Ritchie – she is in a very poor state of health and feels that she may be in a state of decline. Ritchie has been with her every day and they have talked much of spiritual matters. Pelham feels much comfort but does not yet have a clear sense of pardon.

Good Mr [William] Hardon of Leeds has died.

Spiritual matters are discussed.

In a postscript, she mentions that at Sheffield about one thousand have joined [Alexander] Kilham and Henry Taylor has been suspended until Conference for ‘imprudence.’ [Conference convened in Bristol on 30th July 1798] If Fletcher has not heard of Taylor’s case, Ritchie can provide the details.

Mr and Mrs [William] Smyth send their regards and Ritchie sends her best wishes to Sally [Lawrance]. Letters sent to Ritchie next month should be sent to her at the house of [William] Pine in Bristol.