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Wesley Encounters Severe Weather

1747. Tuesday, February 10 (London).—My brother returned from the north, and I prepared to supply his place there. Sunday, 15. I was very weak and faint; but on Monday, 16, I rose soon after three, lively and strong, and found all my complaints were fled away like a dream.

I was wondering, the day before, at the mildness of the weather; such as seldom attends me in my journeys. But my wonder now ceased: the wind was turned full north and blew so exceedingly hard and keen that when we came to Hatfield, neither my companions nor I had much use of our hands or feet. After resting an hour, we bore up again through the wind and snow, which drove full in our faces. But this was only a squall. In Baldock Field the storm began in earnest. The large hail drove so vehemently in our faces that we could not see, nor hardly breathe. However, before two o’clock we reached Baldock where one met and conducted us safe to Potten.

About six I preached to a serious congregation.  Tuesday, 17.  We set out as soon as it was well light; but it was really hard work to get forward; for the frost would not well bear or break; and the untracked snow covering all the roads, we had much ado to keep our horses on their feet. Meantime the wind rose higher and higher till it was ready to overturn both man and beast. However, after a short bait at Bugden, we pushed on and were met in the middle of an open field with so violent a storm of rain and hail as we had not had before. It drove through our coats, great and small, boots, and everything, and yet froze as it fell, even upon our eye-brows; so that we had scarcely either strength or motion left when we came into our inn at Stilton.

We now gave up our hopes of reaching Grantham, the snow falling faster and faster. However, we took the advantage of a fair blast to set out and made the best of our way to Stamford Heath. But here a new difficulty arose, from the snow lying in large drifts. Sometimes horse and man were well-nigh swallowed up. Yet in less than an hour we were brought safe to Stamford.  Being willing to get as far as we could, we made but a short stop here; and about sunset came, cold and weary, yet well, to a little town called Brig-casterton.

Wednesday, 18.—Our servant came up and said, “Sir, there is no traveling today. Such a quantity of snow has fallen in the night that the roads are quite filled up.” I told him, “At least we can walk twenty miles a day, with our horses in our hands.” So in the name of God we set out. The northeast wind was piercing as a sword and had driven the snow into such uneven heaps that the main road was impassable. However, we kept on, afoot or on horseback, till we came to the White Lion at Grantham.

Some from Grimsby had appointed to meet us here; but not hearing anything of them (for they were at another house, by mistake), after an hour’s rest we set out straight for Epworth.  On the road we overtook a clergyman and his servant; but the toothache quite shut my mouth. We reached Newark about five.

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