Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Methodism founder Charles Wesley's secret code diary cracked by Anglican priest
Charles Wesley is one of the most interesting of all the early Methodists, not least because of the kind of relationship he had with his older brother John. Some long time ago, Richard Heitzenrater and other fine Methodist scholars decoded and translated John Wesley's secret diary, and now the same has been done to Charles Wesley's diary. You can read the story in the Times, and here is the string----
A professor from Liverpool Hope University, Kenneth Newport, has done the decoding and translating of the some 1000 handwritten pages, that cover the years 1736-1756. The diary begins with his time in Georgia in Savannah and elswhere and it provides various clues as to why Charles so opposed John Wesley's marriage to Grace Murray, and how that whole mess (which included Charles kidnapping Grace and forcing her to marry another Methodist!) put an enormous strain on the relationship between the brothers. The work of John Tyson and others has opened up the study of Charles Wesley in recent decades and he deserves further scrutiny not only for his enormous hymn output (over 6,000 hymn texts)but for the role he played in birthing the Methodist movement. This diary will add grist to the mill and help us understand this crucial figure in the English revival of the 18th century.
Here is a juicy little sample of one page from the diary translated:
"Monday, March 22  While I was persuading Mr Welch not to concern himself in this disturbance, I heard Mrs Hawkins cry out: “Murder!” and walked away. Returning out of the woods, I was informed by Mr Welch that poor blockhead Mrs Welch had joined with Mrs Hawkins and the Devil in their slanders of me. I would not believe it till half the town told me the same, and exclaimed against her ingratitude."
Oh those Wesley boys and their tempestuous relationship with women!