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white rabbit, which came from behind the oven, with its ears flat upon the neck, and its little scut standing straight up. A shadow may possibly explain the first of these appearances; the other may be imputed to that proneness which ignorant persons so commonly evince to exaggerate in all uncommon cases. These circumstances, therefore, though apparently silly in themselves, in no degree invalidate the other parts of the story, which rest upon the concurrent testimony of many intelligent witnesses. The door was once violently pushed against Emilia, when there was no person on the outside ; the latches were frequently lifted up; the windows clattered always before Jeffery entered a room, and whatever iron or brass was there, rung and jarred exceedingly. It was observed also, that the wind commonly rose after any of his noises, and increased with it, and whistled loudly around the house. Mr. Wesley's trencher (for it was before our potteries had pushed their ware into every village throughout the kingdom) danced one day upon the table, to his no small amazement; and the hand of Robin's hand-mill, at another time, was turned round with great swiftness; unluckily Robin had just done grinding; nothing vexed him, he said, but that the mill was empty; if there had been corn in it, Jeffery might have ground his heart out before he would have disturbed him. It was plainly a Jacobite goblin, and seldom suffered Mr. Wesley to pray for the King and the Prince of Wales without disturbing the family prayers. Mr. Wesley was sore upon this subject, and became angry, and therefore repeated the prayer. But when Samuel was informed of this, his remark was, “ As to the devil's being an enemy to king George, were l the king myself, I should rather Old Nick should be my enemy than my
friend." The children were the only persons who were distressed by those visitations; the manner in which they were affected is remarkable: when the noises began they appeared to be frightened in their sleep, a sweat came over them, and they panted and trembled till the disturbance was so loud as to awaken them. Before it ceased, the family had become quite accustomed to it, and were tired with hearing or speaking of it.
66 Send me some news, said one of the sisters to her brother Samuel, “ for we are secluded from the sight or hearing of any versal thing, exept Jeffery."
An author who in this age relates such a story, and treats it as not utterly incredible and absurd, must expect to be ridiculed; but the testimony upon which it rests is far too strong to be set aside because of the strangeness of the relation. The letters which passed at the time between Samuel Wesley and the family at Epworth, the journal which Mr. Wesley kept of these remarkable transactions, and the evidence concerning them which John afterwards collected, fell into the hands of Dr. Priestley, and were * published by him as being “perhaps the best authenticated and best told story of the kind that is any where extant.” He observes in favour of the story, " that all the parties seem to have been sufficiently void of fear, and also free from credulity, except the general belief that such things were supernatural." But he argues, that where no good end was to be answered, we may safely conclude that no miracle was wrought; and he supposes, as the most probable solution, that it was a trick of the servants, assisted by some of the neighbours, for the sake of amusing themselves and puzzling the family. In reply to this it may be safely asserted, that many of the circumstances cannot be explained by any such supposition, nor by any legerdemain, nor by ventriloquism, nor by any secret of acoustics. The former argument would be valid, if the term miracle were applicable to the case; but by miracle Dr. Priestley evidently intends a manifestation of Divine power, and in the present instance no such manifestation is supposed, any more than in the appearance of a departed spirit. Such things may be preternatural and yet not miraculous: they may be not in the ordinary course of nature, and yet imply no alteration of its laws. And with regard to the good end which they may be supposed to answer, it would be end sufficient if sometimes one of those unhappy persons who, looking through the dim glass of infidelity, see nothing beyond this life, and the narrow sphere of mortal existence, should, from the well-established truth of one such story, (trifling and objectless as it might otherwise appear,) be led to a conclusion that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in their philosophy.
* These papers are inserted among the Notes and Illustrations at the end of the Volume, that the reader may have before him the original documents relating to this remarkable affair.
John suffered at the Charter-house under the tyranny which the elder boys were permitted to exercise. This evil at one time existed very generally in English schools, through the culpable negligence of the masters; and perhaps may still continue to exist, though if a system were designed for cultivating the worst dispositions of human nature, it could not more effectually answer the purpose. The boys of the higher forms of the Charter-house were then in the practice of taking their portion of meat from the younger ones, by the law of the strongest; and during great part of the time that Wesley remained there, a small daily portion of bread was his only food. Those theoretical physicians who recommend spare diet for the human animal, might appeal with triumph to the length of days which he attained, and the elastic constitution which he enjoyed. He himself imputed this blessing, in great measure, to the strict obedience with which he performed an injunction of his father's, that he should run round the Charter-house garden three times every morning. Here, for his quietness, regularity, and application, he became a favourite with the master, Dr. Walker; and through life he retained so great a predilection for the place, that on his annual visit to London he made it a custom to walk through the scene* of his
* Good old Izaak Walton has preserved a beautiful speech of that excellent man, Sir Henry Wotton, when, in his old age, he was returning from a visit to Winchester, where he had been
boyhood. To most men every year would render a pilgrimage of this kind more painful than the last; but Wesley seems never to have looked back with melancholy upon the days that were gone; earthly regrets of this kind could find no room in one who was continually pressing onward to the goal.
At the age of seventeen he was removed from the Charter-house to Christ Church, Oxford.
educated. “ How useful," he said to a friend, his companion in that journey, “ how useful was that advice of a holy monk, who persuaded his friend to perform his customary devotions in a constant place, because in that place we usually meet with those very thoughts which poséessed us at our last being there. And I find it thus far experimentally true, that my now being in that school, and seeing that very place where I sate when I was a boy, occasioned me to remember those very thoughts of my youth which then possessed me; sweet thoughts, indeed, that promised my growing years numerous pleasures, without mixtures of cares; and those to be enjoyed when time (which I therefore thought slow-paced) had changed my youth into manhood: but age and experience have taught me, that those were but empty hopes : for I have always found it true, as my Saviour did foretell, sufficient for the day is the evil thereof. Nevertheless, I saw there a succession of boys using the same recreations, and questionless possessed with the same thoughts that then possessed me. Thus one generation succeeds another, both in their lives, recreations, hopes, fears, and death."
WESLEY AT OXFORD.
BEFORE Wesley went to the university, he had acquired some knowledge of Hebrew under his brother Samuel's tuition. At college he continued his studies with all diligence, and was noticed there for his attainments, and especially for his skill in logic, by which he frequently put to silence those who contended with him in after life. No man, indeed, was ever more dexterous in the art of reasoning. A charge was once brought against him that he delighted to perplex his opponents by his expertness in sophistry; he repelled it with indignation; “ It has been my first care," said he,“ to see that my cause was good, and never, either in jest or earnest, to defend the wrong side of a question; and shame on me if I cannot defend the right after so much practice, and after having been so early accustomed to separate truth from falsehood, how artfully soever they are twisted together.” Like his father, and both his brothers, he was no inexpert versifier in his youth ; this, however, was a talent which he forebore to use, when ascetic opinions began to influence him,—and the honour of being the sweet singer of Methodism was reserved for his brother Charles.
When he was an under-graduate, his manners were free and cheerful; and that activity of disposition which bore him afterward through such uninterrupted labour, displayed itself in wit and vivacity. But when the time of life arrived at which he might have taken orders, he, who was not a man to act lightly upon any occasion, and least of all upon so solemn a one, began to reflect seriously upon the importance of the priestly office, and to feelsome scruples concerning the motives by which the person ought to be influenced who determines to take upon himself so awful a