Scope and Content

From Mary Tooth in Madeley to Joseph Benson. She is sorry to have to intrude on Benson's time, which is so taken up with his valuable responsibilities [as Connexional Editor]. Her reason for writing this letter is an article in the July issue of the Wesleyan Methodist Magazine, page 527, which has caused Tooth tremendous upset for its inaccurate reporting of 'my beloved friend in glory' [Mary Fletcher]. Tooth does not mean to cast any aspersions on the worthy writer of the piece [Mr W. Woodall of Merthyr Tydfil] for his telling of the anecdote stemmed no doubt from 'sincere love and veneration', but even the best and wisest men can make a mistake, especially when reporting an incident that occurred many years ago which he has received from another source. Memory is not always accurate and certainly Mr Woodall has made some mistakes in his recounting of the anecdote. In the last four lines of page 527, Mr Woodall has the following passage, as if it were spoken first-hand by Mary Fletcher: One day it was impressed on my mind. It is my father's table I feel the want of, having been in the habit of occasionally taking a little wine and water. I was fully persuaded it was what my health still required. This sentence is utterly wrong - she never expressed a want for her father's table from the time that she was sent from it until her death. Nor was she in the habit of drinking wine and particularly not port wine at any time in her parents' house or after. Nor did she retire to a cottage on her own after leaving her father's house - she first went into lodgings before the way was opened for her to move into her own house at Leytonstone. Tooth might mention some other mistakes that Mr Woodall made, but she fears that Benson is wearied with what she has written to this point. Tooth would be very grateful if a correction could be issued and readers referred to volume one of Henry Moore's life of Mary Fletcher.

In a postscript, Tooth says that she was particularly concerned in writing this letter with the fear that the published anecdote could be seen as encouraging the drinking of wine. Mrs Fletcher did not drink wine or any liquor, but only cold water fresh from the pump - that was her constant drink until a few days before she died. Tooth does not recall Fletcher ever drinking wine after dinner, although occasionally with great persuasion, she was prevailed upon to have a small glass of [unreadable word] or porter with her dinner.