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Incidents on the Manchester Road

Tuesday, 14.—I set out for Manchester with Mr. Kinchin, fellow of Corpus Christi, and Mr. Fox, late a prisoner in the city prison. 

About eight, it being rainy and very dark, we lost our way; but before nine, came to Shipston, having ridden over, I know not how, a narrow footbridge, which lay across a deep ditch near the town. After supper I read prayers to the people of the inn and explained the second lesson; I hope not in vain.

The next day we dined at Birmingham; and, soon after we left it, were reproved for our negligence there, in letting those who attended us go without either exhortation or instruction, by a severe shower of hail.

In the evening we came to Stafford. The mistress of the house joined with us in family prayer. The next morning one of the servants appeared deeply affected, as did the hostler, before we went. Soon after breakfast, stepping into the stable, I spoke a few words to those who were there. A stranger who heard me said, “Sir, I wish I were to travel with you”; and when I went into the house, followed me and began abruptly, “Sir, I believe you are a good man, and I come to tell you a little of my life.” The tears stood in his eyes all the time he spoke; and we hoped not a word which was said to him was lost.

At Newcastle, whither we came about ten, some to whom we spoke at our inn were very attentive; but a gay young woman waited on us, quite unconcerned: however, we spoke on. When we went away, she fixed her eyes and neither moved nor said one word but appeared as much astonished as if she had seen one risen from the dead.

Coming to Holms Chapel about three, we were surprised at being shown into a room where a cloth and plates were laid.  Soon after two men came in to dinner, Mr. Kinchin told them, if they pleased, that gentleman would ask a blessing for them. They stared and, as it were, consented; but sat still while I did it, one of them with his hat on. We began to speak on turning to God, and went on, though they appeared utterly regardless. After a while their countenances changed, and one of them stole off his hat; laying it down behind him, he said that all we said was true; but he had been a grievous sinner and not considered it as he ought; but he was resolved, with God’s help, now to turn to Him in earnest. We exhorted him and his companion, who now likewise drank in every word, to cry mightily to God that He would “send them help from his holy place.”

Late at night we reached Manchester. 

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