Letter

Scope and Content

From John Valton in Bradford [postmarked Manchester] to John Fletcher in Madeley. Valton is expecting any minute a friend to call who can convey this letter part of the way towards Madeley. Mrs Fletcher's letter was 'balm and honey' to his soul. Valton had been thinking about writing for many days, but 'you have now sweetly compelled me to write in way of gratitude'. He was much confounded when he read in John Fletcher's letter that Valton was often the subject of his kind remembrances. He wondered how such a 'dead dog' as he could be on the minds of his dear friends.

'Indeed my dear sir I have thought over and over that a pious woman would be a blessing to me. I can speak my mind with more freedom to you on account of your sex than I could to your dear partner.' He has been in Yorkshire now for three years and has been remarkably blessed in his ministry - about 1200 were joined to membership when he was in the Birstall circuit 'and a great part of them awakened and justified under my ministry. This necessary brought on an intimacy between me and many young women, although I ever avoided any liberty, such as saluting them etc. But then the indecency of the dress and freedom of the Yorkshire people has been a snare to me. I have not so much as I ought made a covenant with my eyes, so that I have been hurt by it. Sometimes I have been ready to think that what I have so severely felt at times were the buffetings of a messenger of Satan to keep me humble and prayful. Sometimes I have thought nothing but a gracious partner would prevent my killing myself with labour, as I cannot curb my eager spirit for the good of souls, that carries me beyond my strength. I have earnestly besought the Lord since I saw you to "give me one of his daughters to wife", if marriage will be good for me. I shall continue this prayer ... I have often thought of that priceless Saint near Bristol. I should rather desire one with a fortune, to maintain her if I die first, as I have only a pension from the government, and can promise a wife nothing when I am dead. But at present, I should lay these thoughts aside perhaps ...'

Valton has been an invalid for 2 months with pain in his chest and head, which have so far eluded the skill of the physician. He has been warned from engaging in any public work, nor indeed is he fit enough to lead or engage in family prayers. 'I ride out and use the dumb bell and flesh brush, and take bark medicines but hitherto to little purpose.' The physician thinks that he will not improve until the spring and [John] Wesley agrees with this opinion. Valton has considered going back to Bristol to take the waters - what does Fletcher think that he should do? Did the waters do Fletcher any good? Perhaps it is the wrong time of year.

Valton has been rendered the more eager to preach because of the wonderful love of the people and the success that attended his ministry. Spiritual matters are discussed in detail.

May the Lord bless Valton's dear friends and the members of their household including Sally [Sarah Lawrence] - Isaac Duckworth would willingly be a part of that household, but his circumstances at present will not allow it - he sends his best wishes. How happy here would the people be if the Fletcher's were nearer to bless them with their ministry.

The people in the Birstall circuit are very steady and their number is about the same as at the last Conference. The situation in the Bradford circuit is promising and they hope for a revival. It was a great disappointment for Valton not to have an hours conversation with the Fletchers, but press of business prevented.