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Press Gang and Methodists

Wednesday, June 19 (Redruth).—Being informed here of what had befallen Mr. Maxfield, we turned aside toward Crowan churchtown. But in the way we received information that he had been removed from thence the night before. It seems that the valiant constables who guarded him, having received timely notice that a body of five hundred Methodists was coming to take him away by force, had, with great precipitation, carried him two miles further to the house of one Henry Tomkins.

Here we found him, nothing terrified by his adversaries. I desired Henry Tomkins to show me the warrant. It was directed by Dr. Borlase, and his father, and Mr. Eustick, to the constables and overseers of several parishes, requiring them to “apprehend all such able-bodies men as had no lawful calling or sufficient maintenance”; and to bring them before the aforesaid gentlemen at Marazion, on Friday, 21, to be examined whether they were proper persons to serve his Majesty in the land-service.

It was endorsed by the steward of Sir John St. Aubyn with the names of seven or eight persons, most of whom were well-known to have lawful callings and a sufficient maintenance thereby. But that was all one: they were called “Methodists”; therefore, soldiers they must be. Underneath was added, “A person, his name unknown, who disturbs the peace of the parish.”

A word to the wise. The good men easily understood this could be none but the Methodist preacher; for who “disturbs the peace of the parish” like one who tells all drunkards, whoremongers, and common swearers, “You are in the high road to hell”?

When we came out of the house, forty or fifty myrmidons stood ready to receive us. But I turned full upon them and their courage failed, nor did they recover till we were at some distance. Then they began blustering again and throwing stones; one of which struck Mr. Thompson’s servant.

Friday, 21.—We rode to Marazion. (Vulgarly called Market-jew.) Finding the justices were not met, we walked up St. Michael’s Mount. The house at the top is surprisingly large and pleasant. Sir John St. Aubyn had taken much pains, and been at a considerable expense, in repairing and beautifying the apartments; and when the seat was finished, the owner died!

About two, Mr. Thompson and I went into the room where the justices and commissioners were. After a few minutes, Dr. Borlase stood up and asked whether we had any business. I told him, “We have.” We desired to be heard concerning one who was lately apprehended at Crowan. He said, “Gentlemen, the business of Crowan does not come on yet. You shall be sent for when it does.” So we retired and waited in another room, till after nine o’clock. They delayed the affair of Mr. Maxfield (as we imagined they would) to the very last. About nine he was called. I would have gone in then; but Mr. Thompson advised to wait a little longer. The next information we received was that they had sentenced him to go for a soldier. Hearing this, we went straight to the commission chamber. But the honorable gentlemen were gone.

They had ordered Mr. Maxfield to be immediately put on board a boat and carried for Penzance. We were informed that they had first offered him to a Captain of a man-of-war that was just come into the harbor. But he answered, “I have no authority to take such men as these, unless you would have me give him so much a week to preach and pray to my people.”

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