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But that she was found in a condition of “real want," as stated by Mr. Wilberforce, is more than doubtful. In this he was certainly mistaken. She lived with her eldest son, who was one of the most accomplished musicians of the age; and with her daughter, who was scarcely less accomplished in literature. The necessities of their aged mother were few; and it was impossible that they should suffer her to be destitute of even the comforts of life. She might have no certain income of her own, and be dependent upon them; but this is very different from being "in real want.” Her son and daughter were both in the receipt of considerable sums of money, the fruit of their own talents.
After giving proof of the want of confidence in “the Methodists,” and of deficient forethought in the management of their own affairs, it may well be supposed that Mrs. Wesley and her children would wish to conceal her condition from the people to whose care she had been left by her revered husband and brother-in-law. Yet when it was known that she had expended her property, “the Methodists” were not less generous than even Mr. Wilberforce. They gave her an annuity as long as she lived, and that, if we are not mistaken, to a larger amount than even he procured for her i they also gave an annuity to her daughter; then to her son Charles; and at last, to Samuel. It would not be difficult to show that Mr. Charles Wesley and his family received from “the Methodists,” in consideration of the benefits derived from his incomparable hymns, not less than ten thousand pounds. This sum is indeed not too large, considering the nature of Mr. Charles Wesley's bequest; (for his hymns are such as gold can never purchase ;) yet it is sufficient to prove that the pre-eminent services which he rendered to the cause of spiritual religion have not been quite overlooked, and that the censure which has been sent forth in Mr. Wilberforce's name might well have been spared. It is as unjust as it is unseemly. To publish, without due inquiry, ex-parte statements, to the injury of a people who have merited no blame, is “a great reflection " upon the parties who thus offend, let them be who they may. The attempt to exalt such a man as Mr. Wilberforce, by depreciating “the Methodists," as if they had less respect for one of the Wesleys than he possessed, like the endeavour to raise his fair fame as the oppo
nent of the slave-trade, by undervaluing the services of the venerable Clarkson, is in bad taste. His sons, who have done this, have not been guided by a sound discretion. It is a proof of the substantial worth of their father's character, that it has not suffered much in consequence of the means which they have adopted to elevate it in the public estimation.
It is only needful to add, that Mrs. Wesley, having survived her husband about thirty-four years, died Dec. 28th, 1822, at the advanced age of ninety-six. Sarah died at Bristol, when on a visit to that city, on the 19th of September, 1828, aged sixty-eight years. Charles died in London, May 23d, 1834, in the seventy-seventh year of his age. Samuel also died in London, on the 11th of October, 1837, in seventy-second year of his age. Charles and Sarah were never married. They were both members of the Methodist society. Samuel left several children, who are now living.
In the Minutes of the annual Conferences, Mr. John Wesley was accustomed from year to year to insert short notices of the deceased Preachers. The following is his account of his brother, contained in the obituary of 1788 :
“Mr. Charles Wesley, who, after spending fourscore years with much sorrow and pain, quietly retired into Abraham's bosom. He had no disease; but after a gradual decay of some months,
The weary wheels of life stood still at last.' His least praise was his talent for poetry: although Dr. Watts did not scruple to say that that single poem ‘Wrestling Jacob' was worth all the verses he himself had written.”
It was not the intention of Mr. John Wesley to satisfy himself with this laconic record concerning his brother. He immediately began to collect materials for a biographical account of the man with whom he had been through life so entirely one in heart; and he requested his niece to furnish him with all the facts she could recollect that could assist him in the compilation of such a work. But life with him was too far advanced, and his other engagements too numerous, to admit of the fulfilment of his design. He died before he had made much progress in the compilation. No man was so well qualified to execute the responsible task; as no other person had so thorough a knowledge of the deceased.
The following epitaph is inscribed upon a marble tablet in the City-road chapel. The sentence which is placed at the head of it Mr. Charles Wesley is said to have frequently uttered :
« God buries his workmen, but carries on his work."
Sacred to the Memory
THE REV. CHARLES WESLEY, M.A.,
EDUCATED AT WESTMINSTER SCHOOL,
AND SOMETIME STUDENT AT CHRIST-CHURCH, OXFORD.
AS A PREACHER,
BEING LEARNED WITHOUT PRIDE,
TO THE SINCERE, DIFFIDENT CHRISTIAN,
A SON OF CONSOLATION ; BUT TO THE VAIN BOASTER, THE HYPOCRITE, AND THE PROFANE,
A SON OF THUNDER.
HE WAS THE FIRST WHO RECEIVED THE NAME OF METHODIST;
IN THE PLAN OF ITINERANT PREACHING,
AS A GOOD SOLDIER OF JESUS CHRIST ;
IN THESE KINGDOMS.
AS A CHRISTIAN POET HE STOOD UNRIVALLED;
TO THE FAITHFUL IN CHRIST JESUS,
HE WAS BORN THE XVIII OF DECEMBER, MDCCVÍII,
AND DIED THE XXIX OF MARCH, MDCCLXXXVIII,
AND A SINCERE FRIEND TO THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND.
Mr. Charles Wesley, like his brother John, was considerably below the middle stature. He was somewhat stouter than his brother, but not corpulent. There are persons now living who remember to have seen them both, with Dr. Coke, all at once engaged in the administration of the Lord's supper in the City-road chapel. These excellent Clergymen were all of the same diminutive height; and yet no other men of their day exerted a wider influence upon the world, or an influence that is likely to be more permanent. Charles was short-sighted, and abrupt and singular in his manners, but without the slightest approach to affectation. In honest simplicity of mind he was never surpassed. He has been spoken of as desultory in his habits : nothing, however, can exceed the neatness of his handwriting till he was far advanced in life, and the exactness with which he kept his pecuniary accounts. At college John is said to have often dreaded his visits. He would run against his brother's table; disarrange his papers; ask several questions in quick succession; and often retire without even waiting for the answers.
His attainments as a scholar were worthy of the advantages which he enjoyed, as a pupil of Westminster School, and a member of the University of Oxford. With the Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and French languages he was well acquainted. His son Samuel believed that he read German; but his daughter, when questioned on the subject, spoke doubtingly. In a letter addressed to him at Oxford by his father, he is urged to persevere in the study of Arabic, and of the mathematics; but it is probable that, after he left the University, he paid little attention to either of these branches of learning. Classical and biblical literature he cultivated to the end of his protracted life. His exact and critical knowledge of the holy Scriptures is strikingly mani. fest in his hymns. Among the Romans, Horace and Virgil
is probabe study of xford by heine
were his favourite authors. Large portions of the Æneid he had committed to memory, and occasionally repeated them, with unrivalled taste and spirit, for the gratification of his friends. Sometimes he did the same in self-defence. When Indivine, the drunken Captain with whom he sailed from Charlestown, poured forth volleys of invective against him, he defended himself by repeating Virgil in Latin ; and once, when his unhappy sister-in-law, Mrs. John Wesley, had secured him and her husband in a room whence they could not escape, and then told them of their faults, real and imaginary, with a vehemence which they could neither resist nor interrupt, Charles bethought him of Virgil, and gave utterance to the strains of the Mantuan bard in such a manner as at length to obtain a respite, with permission to escape.
Considering his scholarship, taste, and genius, there can be no doubt, that, had he devoted himself to secular literature, he would have taken a high rank among the poets of Great Britain. He would have rivalled Dryden himself, whom he greatly resembles in fluency, copiousness, and power. The specimens which he has left, both in print and manuscript, prove that in grave satire he was not inferior to Churchill. When exposing the selfishness and disloyalty of the pretended patriots of his day, he is terribly severe. His invectives resemble successive flashes of lightning, which scathe every object that they strike. That men of bad morals should assume the character of public reformers, filled him with honest and irrepressible indignation. The following is a short specimen :
What hope of safety for our realm
From men who by destruction thrive ?
And madly let the vessel drive,
Makers of wrecks, a desperate race,
Who treason and rebellion love,
Can they the public ills remove ?
Assist our sinking State to rise ?