Gain All You Can
I heard eighty three year old John Wesley speak today from the mounting steps of The White bear Inn. His step was firm, his appearance vigorous and muscular. A clear, smooth forehead, an aquiline nose, lightest and most piercing eyes, freshness of complexion. His countenance and demeanour was cheerfulness mixed with gravity; an unusual flow of spirits but a mark of tranquillity. In dress, a pattern of neatness and simplicity. A narrow plaited stock, a coat with a small upright collar, no buckles at his knee, no silk or velvet in any part of his apparel and a head as white as snow.
He preached for an hour or so, filled out and varied the basic material with anecdotes and illustrations. Throughout he spoke in plain language. His subject appropriate for this commercial town: gain all you can, save all you can, give all you can. When we gain all we can it must be from honest trades, we must not haggle over prices and usury should not be tolerated. Conspicuous consumption is wastefulness. We gain and save only to give, and when we give we should do so to the poor. Salvation for all is not dependent on good works but must issue from good works as part of our progress.
He who is holy, humble, courteous, mild,
And who, as heav’n’s viceregent strives to prove Himself entitled to the rank he holds,
Deserves our admiration and applause.
What an economist thou wast of time; What method, regularity, and form, Thou shew’dst in ev’ry action of thy life, And all this for the honour of thy God, And the advantage of thy fellow men, without a mercenary view in it,
I cannot but applaud thee for such deeds Admire thy ardour, venerate thy name, And eulogize thee, as the best of men.
Friend Richard Peaudane has removed his garish dress and thinks to impress me with this. I reminded him of my other stipulation: plainness of manner. He says he has observed John Wesley preaching in the town and would hold him also as another example of neatness and cleanliness. Methodists hold much the same persecuted position in this society as we held in the previous century; prone to preaching so as to change society, a cause we have fallen from, after much of our brethren were persecuted. Though, it must be said they support our Friend William Wilberforce in his fight against slavery, Perhaps Friend Peaudane is correct in following John Wesleys example: A black frock without decoration and a white ruffle, In appearance, at least, he is what I would hope for in a spouse. I then reminded him, that though plain in appearance, the nature of a Quaker is consideration for others. I espoused my belief in the evils of slavery. A commercial man, I was surprised that he also felt the indignity, the horrific notion of one man the slave of another as the basis for a good society was a venal sin. With each conversation and change in ‘ the man, if only cosmetic, I begin to see his fair and just side. This has impressed upon me more than his change of costume.
Wild Woman (2)
Unmanned, like a bull bereft of all; a flaccid decoration without use;
at least if thee had what I have thou could be a woman; eunuch hiding your treasure for marriage
and hypocrisy. And leave me with empty decoration; rings without sense,
dresses without purpose.
Go about your business thou say
I want nothing to do with thee now;
yet not a month ago it was all Peggy this,
Peggy that; such are the changes of the seasons.
I cannot give birth to an empty ache;
wet nurse it; teach it its fathers worth;
I cannot tell the ache how we loved,
how we met, how we joyed.
I cannot sit round this mughouse days and months
I must out into the world roll in the smell of Man again
with a jug of ale in one hand
and earning a stony crust
from some wight with a jangling purse.
And forget the bull that was castrated.
Joseph Lister is one of my many custom weavers. I shall offer him board in my premises. It will remove my loneliness awhile and further prove to Sarah my will to have her bound to me.
Joseph and his brother James have inherited a four-loom shop at Beaver Hoyle from their uncle, John Lupton. Joseph has acquired a wife, Susannah Bottomley of Wooldale and a son. Susannah is pregnant again. John wishes to make a life separate from his brother James. He is a regular and fastidious workman like his uncle. And John Lupton portrays his nephew as a pattern of industry. As he produces the linen that we may spread it out on the fields to dry, to croft, so he may gather it up and store it in my attendant warehouse. If I cannot help him in his progress then I am the poorer man as my future wife Sarah has taught me.
As I observe Susannah with Joseph, she is constantly curbing his generous nature. A beggar came to our door and asked for shoes and Joseph gave him his best brogues without a thought. Susannah scolded Joseph with the words: We have not enough for our own feet and you give away our best. We must gain and save before we can give! Joseph, smiles and kisses her pregnant stomach. As I presumed a wife becomes more than a companion, but a moral arbiter. A family dispels the disconsolate air. This place of mine does not feel so empty. It only lacks a wife for myself.
Lost to Women
O monster of Reason what have you forgotten: how we wet the drying fields of linen
and Barley where you ground my com
with a jug of mughouse ale
and fresh and naughty manners; this was our rusticating;
you strode a giant amongst my hills and made the river flow.
Now you stride through town cocking a snoop at all you laughed and jollied with before; nothing but a prig made up to look like summat.
But your dear pouch must yearn like a custom weavers shuttle for some
decent to and fro.
I know my threads are breaking without your damp,
snapping like twigs in Autumn,
Arid dry as an empty jug.
Means not Ends
I went for a walk with Friend Dearman at Dearne Flats. I have decided that this relationship should become more public and thereby confirm the rumours of our companionship.
The River Dearne, though prone to dangerous flooding has its own delights. And The Flats are known for their courting couples and rusticating. A note upon this word: rusticating would once have been frowned upon. After all, what can be gained from grass and trees for they are wasteland. Just as the soul can be desolate and made beautiful, perhaps with change in mood, even the worst excesses of tree, grass and river can be seen to improve the soul.
Still Friend Dearman sees philanthropy towards others, plainness of dress and mildness of manner as ends in themselves. I told him that the only path by which he can show real change is for him to have ideas and manners of his own. Too many Commercial men are taken in by the mechanical nature of change. It is the human heart that must change too. He must no longer see the Dearne as a navigable waterway and more as a stream that gives life to its surroundings. I am not only to be his wife but a companion too.
I said to Friend Peaudane, as we walked Dearne Flats by the serpentine river that he has more than proved his worth as a husband. I would gladly accept him in such a position and be willing to bear him children to cement our association. He answered that it is only a beginning and we must both strive for the ends I described to him at the beginning, extravagance in our generosity towards others, both personally and publicly. It is now Friend Peaudane, that wishes me to call him Richard as he shall call me Sarah and that we should wait a time yet till we are married. He has his duty to Joseph and family to fulfill.
Yesterday he was present when Susannah, Joseph’s wife gave birth to their second son. Joseph and his brother James who is now living there too pacing up and down, wanting to drown his sorrows Clearly, since I ventured upon this self improvement my mind has moved to the self improvement of others and I find I like myself. I should be wary of too much pride in what I know of myself New converts are likely to be over vociferous for others conversion. Knowledge is power.
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