1705 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Samuel Wesley

Samuel Wesley, 1705; in Thomas Hearne, Reliquae Hearniae, ed. Bliss (1869) 1:39-40.



On my printing a poem on the Battle of Blenheim, I was sent for to London by a person of quality in January last, the duke of Marlborough having promised me a chaplain's place in one of the new regiments, and another honourable person greater favours. I had writt two books against the dissenters, at which they were very angry. The person who sent for me up told me, I must drop that controversy, and at last, that I must publickly, and in print, recant or palliate what I had writ against the dissenters. He added, that those people expected so many friends in the next house of commons more than they had in the last, that when they came to sit, they had resolv'd to call those to account who had affronted them. This had a contrary effect to what was expected. I left my fortunes in God's hands, and resolved to act according to my conscience, and as soon as I came into the country, to use what little interest I had in our election to serve those who were not likely to be partial to the dissenters. But before I would act, I was so nice as to write to coll. Whichcott, because there had been some intimacy betwixt us, giving him the reasons why I thought myself obliged to vote against him. This letter he expos'd, and his friends reported there was treason in it, after which I gave copies of it. They likewise threaten'd to write up against me, and throw me out of my chaplain's place, which the Duke had given me, and throw me into gaol, all which (I thank 'em) they have fully effected. I wrote to London to know why I was turn'd out, without knowing my accusation? My coll. Lepell answer'd, That a person of the first quality told him, 'twas for something I had published which was not approv'd of at court, and for having concern'd myself too much in some other matters. The first must be my books against the dissenters; the latter my acting in the election for my own county, which I though I had as much right to do as any freeholder: — God be praised, these crimes were link'd together! After this, the friends of the new candidates, the dissenters and their adherents, charged me with preaching treason, and reported I was distracted; (where then was their mercy?) but, at last, were content to throw me into prison, according to their promise, for no great debt, to a relation and zealous friend of one of the new members. They knew 'twas sufficient to do my business, I having been thrown behind by a series of misfortunes. My parsonage barn was blown down e're I had recovered the takeing my living; my house, great part of it, burnt down about two years since; my flax, great part of my income, now in my own hands, I doubt willfully fired and burnt in the night, whilst I was last in London; my income sunk about one half, by the low price of grain; and my credit lost, by the taking away of my regiment. I was brought to Lincoln Castle June the 23d last past. About three weeks since, my very unkind people, thinking they had not yet done enough, have in the night stabb'd my three cows, which were a great part of my poor numerous family's subsistence. For which God forgive them.