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the senseless clamour of two or three of the worst in his parish; and she represented to him the good which had been done by inducing a much more frequent and regular attendance at church, and reforming the general habits of the people ; and the evil which would result from discontinuing such meetings, especially by the prejudices which it would excite against the curate, in those persons who were sensible that they derived benefit from the religious opportunities, which would thus be taken away through his interference. After stating these things clearly and judiciously, she concluded thus, in reference to her own duty as a wife: “ If you do, after all, think fit to dissolve this assembly, do not tell me that you desire me to do it, for that will not satisfy my conscience; but send me your positive command, in such full and express terms as may absolve me from guilt and punishment for neglecting this opportunity of doing good, when you and I shall appear before the great and awful tribunal of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Mr. Wesley made no further objections; and thoroughly respecting, as he did, the principles and the understanding of his wife, he was perhaps ashamed that the representations of meaner minds should have prejudiced him against her conduct. John and Charles were at this time under their mother's care: she devoted such a proportion of time as she could afford to discourse with each child by itself on one night of the week, upon the duties and the hopes of Christianity: and it may well be believed that these circumstances of their childhood had no inconsiderable influence upon their proceedings when they became the founders and directors of a new community of Christians. John's providential deliverance from the fire had profoundly impressed his mother, as it did himself, throughout the whole of his after life. Among the private meditations which were found among her papers, was one written out long after that event, in which she expressed in prayer her intention to be more particularly careful of the The pecu
soul of this child, which God had so mercifully provided for, that she might instil into him the principles of true religion and virtue;—“Lord,” she said, “ give me grace to do it sincerely and prudently, and bless my attempts with good success." liar care which was thus taken of his religious education, the habitual and fervent piety of both his parents, and his own surprising preservation, at an age when he was perfectly capable of remembering all the circumstances, combined to foster in the child that disposition, which afterwards developed itself with such force, and produced such important effects.
Talents of no ordinary kind, as well as a devotional temper, were hereditary in this remarkable family. Samuel, the elder brother, who was eleven years older than John, could not speak at all till he was more than four years old, and consequently was thought to be deficient in his faculties: but it seems as if the child had been laying up stores in secret till that time, for one day when some question was proposed to another person concerning him, he answered it himself in a manner which astonished all who heard him, and from that hour he continued to speak without difficulty. He distinguished himself first at Westminster, and afterwards at Christ Church, Oxford, by his classical attainments. From Christ Church he returned to Westminster as an usher, and then took orders, under the patronage of Atterbury. But he regarded Atterbury more as a friend than a patron, and holding the same * political opinions, he
* The sons appear to have imbibed their mother's political opinions. Samuel was one of those wits who did themselves no honour, and their country no service, by assailing Sir Robert Walpole’s administration. There is a passage in one of Charles Wesley's letters which shows that John was of the same political school. Writing to Samuel from Oxford in the year 1734, he says, “ My brother has been much mauled, and threatened more, for his Jacobite sermon on the 11th June. But he was wise enough to get the vice-chancellor to read and approve it before he preached it, and may therefore bid Wadham, Merton, Exeter, and Christ Church do their worst." Wesley has asserted, and his biographers have repeated it after him, that Dr. Sacheverel's
attracted the resentment of the ministers, by assailing them with epigrams and satires. On this account, when the situation of under-master became vacant, and he was proposed as a man eminently qualified to fill it, by experience, ability, and character, the appointment was refused, upon the irrelevant objection that he was a married man. Charles was placed under him at Westminster, and going through the college in like manner, was also elected to Christ Church. John was educated at the Charter-house.
While John was at school, certain disturbances occurred in his father's house, so unaccountable that every person by whom they were witnessed believed them to be supernatural. At the latter end of the year 1715, the maid-servant was terrified by hearing át the dining-room door several dismal groans, as of a person at the point of death. The family gave little heed to her story, and endeavoured to laugh her out of her fears; but a few nights afterward they began to hear strange knockings, usually three or four at a time, in different parts of the house : every person heard these noises except Mr. Wesley himself, and as, according to vulgar opinion, such sounds were not audible by the individual to whom they foreboded evil, they refrained from telling him, lest he should suppose that it betokened his own death, as they indeed all apprehended. At length, however, the disturbance became so great and so frequent, that few or none of the family durst be alone, and Mrs. Wesley thought it better to inform her husband; for it was not possible that the matter could long be concealed from him; and moreover, as she says, she was minded he should speak to it. The noises were now various as well as strange, loud rumblings above stairs or below, a clatter among a number of bottles,
defence was composed by his father. It has been usually ascribed to Atterbury, and very possibly he may have employed his young friend in the task,-a task by no means consonant with the father's principles.
as if they had all at once been dashed to pieces, footsteps as of a man going up and down stairs at all hours of the night, sounds like that of dancing in an empty room, the door of which was locked, gobbling like a turkey cock, but most frequently a knocking about the beds at night, and in different parts of the house. Mrs. Wesley would at first have persuaded the children and servants that it was occasioned by rats within doors, and mischievous persons without, and her husband had recourse to the same ready solution; or some of his daughters, he supposed, sate up late and made a noise; and a hint that their lovers might have something to do with the mystery, made the young ladies heartily hope he might soon be convinced that there was more in the matter than he was disposed to believe. In this they were not disappointed, for on the next night, a little after midnight, he was awakened by nine loud and distinct knocks, which seemed to be in the next room, with a pause at every third stroke. He rose and went to see if he could discover the cause, but could perceive nothing ; still he thought it might be some person out of doors, and relied upon a stout mastiff to rid them of this nuisance. But the dog, which upon the first disturbance had barked violently, was ever afterwards cowed by it, and seeming more terrified than any of the children, came whining himself to his master and mistress, as if to seek protection in a human presence. And when the man-servant, Robin Brown, took the mastiff at night into his room, to be at once a guard and companion, as soon as the latch began to jar as usual, the dog crept into bed, and barked and howled so as to alarm the house.
The fears of the family for Mr. Wesley's life being removed as soon as he had heard the mysterious noises, they began to apprehend that one of the sons had met with a violent death, and more particularly Samuel the eldest. The father, therefore, one night after several deep groans had been heard, adjured it to speak if it had power, and tell him why it troubled the house; and upon this three distinct knockings were made. He then questioned it if it were Samuel his son, bidding it, if it were, and could not speak, to knock again; but to their great comfort there was no further knocking that night; and when they heard that Samuel and the two boys were safe and well, the visitations of the goblin became rather a matter of curiosity and amusement than of alarm. Emilia gave it the name of old Jeffery, and by this name he was now known as a harmless, though by no means an agreeable inmate of the parsonage. Jeffery was not a malicious goblin, but he was easily offended. Before Mrs. Wesley was satisfied that there was something supernatural in the noises, she recollected that one of her neighbours had frightened the rats from his dwelling by blowing a horn there; the horn, therefore, was borrowed, and blown stoutly about the house for half a day, greatly against the judgment of one of the sisters, who maintained that if it was any thing supernatural it would certainly be very angry and more troublesome. Her opinion was verified by the event; Jeffery had never till then begun his operations during the day; from that time he came by day as well as by night, and was louder than before. And he never entered Mr. Wesley's study till the owner one day rebuked him sharply, called him a deaf and dumb devil, and bade him cease to disturb the innocent children, and come to him in his study, if he had any thing to say. This was a sort of defiance, and Jeffery therefore took him at his word. No other person in the family ever felt the goblin, but Mr. Wesley was thrice pushed by it with considerable force.
So he himself relates, and his evidence is clear and distinct. He says also, that once or twice when he spoke to it, he heard two or three feeble squeaks, a little louder than the chirping of a bird, but not like the noise of rats. What is said of an actual
appearance is not so well confirmed. Mrs. Wesley thought she saw something run from under the bed, and thought it most like a badger, but she could not well say of what shape; and the man saw something like a