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Wesley Writes to the London Chronicle

1761. January, Friday 2.--I wrote the following letter:

"To the Editor of the London Chronicle.

"Sir,--Of all the seats of woe on this side hell, few, I suppose, exceed or even equal Newgate. If any region of horror could exceed it a few years ago, Newgate in Bristol did; so great was the filth, the stench, the misery and wickedness, which shocked all who had a spark of humanity left.

How was I surprised then, when I was there a few weeks ago! 1) Every part of it, above stairs and below, even the pit wherein the felons are confined at night is as clean and sweet as a gentleman's house; it being now a rule that every prisoner wash and clean his apartment thoroughly twice a week. 2) Here is no fighting or brawling. If any thinks himself ill-used, the cause is immediately referred to the keeper, who hears the contending parties face to face and decides the affair at once. 3) The usual grounds of quarreling are removed. For it is very rarely that anyone cheats or wrongs another, as being sure, if anything of this kind is discovered, to be committed to a closer confinement.

4) Here is no drunkenness suffered, however advantageous it might be to the keeper, as well as the tapster. 5) Nor any whoredom; the women prisoners being narrowly observed and kept separate from the men; nor is any woman of the town now admitted, no, not at any price. 6) All possible care is taken to prevent idleness; those who are willing to work at their callings are provided with tools and materials, partly by the keeper, who gives them credit at a very moderate profit; partly by the alms occasionally given, which are divided with the utmost prudence and impartiality. Accordingly, at this time, among others, a shoemaker, a tailor, a brazier, and a coachmaker are working at their several trades.

7) Only on the Lord's day they neither work nor play, but dress themselves as clean as they can, to attend the public service in the chapel, at which every person under the roof is present. None is excused, unless sick; in which case he is provided, gratis, both with advice and medicines. 8) And in order to assist them in things of the greatest concern (besides a sermon every Sunday and Thursday), they have a large Bible chained on one side of the chapel, which any of the prisoners may read. By the blessing of God on these regulations the prison now has a new face: nothing offends either the eye or ear, and the whole has the appearance of a quiet, serious family. And does not the keeper of Newgate deserve to be remembered full as well as the Man of Ross? May the Lord remember him in that day! Meantime, will no one follow his example? I am, Sir,

"Your humble servant,

"John Wesley."

Saturday, March 14.--l rode (from Birmingham) to Wednesbury. Sunday, 15. I made a shift to preach within at eight in the morning; but in the afternoon I knew not what to do, having a pain in my side and a sore throat. However, I resolved to speak as long as I could. I stood at one end of the house, and the people (supposed to be eight or ten thousand) in the field adjoining. I spoke from, "I count all things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord" [Phil. 3:8]. When I had done speaking, my complaints were gone.

Monday, 16.--I intended to rest two or three days; but being pressed to visit Shrewsbury, and having no other time, I rode over today, though upon a miserable beast. When I came, my head ached as well as my side. I found the door of the place where I was to preach surrounded by a numerous rnob. But they seemed met only to starve. Yet part of them came in; almost all that did (a large number) behaved quietly and seriously.

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