THE NORMAN ISLES
These islands lie chiefly in St. Malos’ Bay, and are named Guernsey, Jersey, Alderney, Sark, Jethou, and Herme: — they are the sole remains of the Gallic possessions appertaining to the British crown. They formerly belonged to Normandy, and came with that dutchy to England, at the time of the conquest of this country by William I. The inhabitants use the French language, and though under the British crown, are governed principally by their own ancient laws. But any geographical or political description of islands so well known and so near home, would be superfluous.
As most of the inhabitants of St. Helliers understand English, Mr. C. was at no loss to begin his work; and, after having preached a few times in St. Helliers, it was agreed that be should go to Guernsey, and that Mr. B. should remain for the present in Jersey. This was accordingly done, and having obtained a large warehouse at a place called Les Terres, a little out of the town, he began to preach there in English: for the inhabitants of St. Peter’s in Guernsey understand English as well as those of St. Helliers in Jersey. He afterwards got some private houses in different parts of the town, where he preached both night and morning, through the principal part of the year.
Being now cut off from all his religious and literary acquaintances; and having little or no traveling, except occasionally going from island to island, he began seriously to enter on the cultivation of his mind. His Greek and Latin had been long comparatively neglected, and his first care was to take up his grammars, and commence his studies de novo. When he had recommitted to memory the necessary paradigms of the Greek verbs, he then took up the first volume of Grabe’s edition of the Septuagint, which was taken from the Codex Alexandrinus, deposited in the British Museum; a MS. in uncial characters, probably of the fourth century, and which formerly belonged to the patriarchal church of Alexandria, and was sent a present from Cyril Lucaris, patriarch of Constantinople, to Charles II., by Sir Thomas Roe, then the British Ambassador at the Porte. When he began this study, he found he had nearly every thing to learn; having almost entirely, through long disuse, forgotten his Greek, though at school he had read a part of the Greek Testament, and most of those works of Lucian, which are usually read in schools.
The reason why he took up the Septuagint, was chiefly to see how it differed from the Hebrew Text, of which he had gained considerable knowledge, by the Hebrew studies already mentioned. After a little severe fagging, he conquered the principal difficulties, and found this study not only pleasing but profitable. In many respects he observed, that the Septuagint cast much light on the Hebrew text; and plainly saw, that without the help of this ancient Version, it would have been nearly impossible to have gained any proper knowledge of the Hebrew Bible; the Hebrew language being all lost, except what remains in the Pentateuch, prophetical writings, and some of the historical books of the Bible. For, the whole of the Old Testament is not in Hebrew, several parts both of Ezra and Daniel being in the Chaldee language, besides one verse in the prophet Jeremiah 10:11. The Septuagint version being made in a time in which the Hebrew was vernacular, about 285 years before Christ, and in which the Greek language was well known to the learned among the Jews: — the translators of this Version, had advantages which we do not now possess; and which can never again be possessed by man; we must have recourse to them for the meaning of a multitude of Hebrew words which we can have in no other way. And as to the outcry against this Version, it appears to be made by those who do not understand the question, and are but slenderly acquainted with the circumstances of the case, The many Readings in this Version which are not now found in the Hebrew text, we should be cautious how we charge as forgeries: the translators most probably followed copies much more correct than those now extant, and which contained those Readings which we now charge on the Septuagint, as arbitrary variations from the Hebrew verity. Indeed several of these very Readings have been confirmed by the collations of Hebrew MSS., made by Dr. Kennicott at home, and De Rossi, abroad.
He continued these studies till he had read the Septuagint through to the end of the Psalms; generally noting down the most important differences between this Version and the Hebrew text, and entered them in the margin of a 4to. Bible in three vols., which was afterwards unfortunately lost. At this time his stock of books was very small, and having no living teacher, he labored under many disadvantages. But when, in the course of his changing for the alternate supply of the societies in the Islands, he visited the Island of Jersey, he had much assistance from the public library in St. Helliers. This contained a large collection of excellent books, which was bequeathed for the use of the public by the Rev. Philip Falle, one of the ministers of the Island, and its most correct historian. Here, for the first time, he had the use of a Polyglott Bible, that of Bishop Walton. The Prolegomena to the first vol. he carefully studied, and from the account contained there of the ancient Versions, particularly the Oriental, he soon discovered that some acquaintance with these, especially the Syriac and Chaldee, would be of great use to him in his Biblical researches.
With the history and importance of the Septuagint version he was pretty well acquainted; and also, with those of the Vulgate. Dean Prideaux’s Connections had given him an accurate view of the Chaldee version, or Targums of Onkelos on the Law, and Jonathan Ben Uzziel on the Prophets. To read the Samaritan Pentateuch, he had only to learn the Samaritan alphabet: the Hebrew text and the Samaritan being exactly the same as to language, though the latter preserves a much fuller account of the different transactions recorded by Moses; writes the words more fully, giving the essential vowels, which in multitudes of places, are supplied in the Hebrew text, only by the Mosoretic points; and besides, this Text contains many important variations in the chronology. The Samaritan version, which was made from this, is in the same character, contains the same matter, but is in a different dialect, not to say language. It is Chaldee in its basis, with the admixture of many words, supposed to be of Cuthic origin.
Having met with a copy of Walton’s Introductio ad Lingitas Orientales, he applied himself closely to the study of the Syriac, as far as it is treated of in that little manual; and translated and wrote out the whole into English, which he afterwards enlarged much from the Schola Syriaca of Professor Leusden. By the time he had finished this work, he found himself capable of consulting any text in the Syriac version; and thus the use of the Polyglott became much more extensive to him; and all the time that he could spare from the more immediate duties of his office he spent in the public library, reading and collating the original Texts in the Polyglott, particularly the Hebrew, Samaritan, Chaldee, Syriac, Vulgate, and Septuagint. The Arabic, Persian, and Ethiopic, he did not attempt — despairing to make any improvement in those languages, without a preceptor. A circumstance here, deserves to be noticed, which to him, appeared a particular interference of Divine Providence: of it the Reader will form his ow n estimate. Knowing that he could not always enjoy the benefit of the Polyglott in the public library he began earnestly to wish to have a copy of his own: but three pounds per quarter, and his food, which was the whole of his income as a preacher, could ill supply any sum for the purchase of books. Believing that it was the will of God, that he should cultivate his mind in Biblical knowledge, both on his own account, and on that of the people to whom he ministered; and believing that to him, the original texts were necessary for this purpose; and finding that he could not hope to possess money sufficient to make such a purchase, he thought that in the course of God’s Providence, He would furnish him with this precious gift. He acquired a strong confidence that by some means or other, he should get a Polyglott. One morning, a preacher’s wife who lodged in the same family, said, “Mr. C., I had a strange dream last night.” “What was it, Mrs. D.,” said he? “Why, I dreamed that some person, I know not who, had ma de you a present of a Polyglott Bible.”
He answered, “That I shall get a Polyglott soon, I have no doubt, but how, or by whom, I know not.” — In the course of a day or two, he received a letter containing a bank-note of 10L. from a person from whom he never expected any thing of the kind: he immediately exclaimed, here is the Polyglott! — He laid by the cash, wrote to a friend in London, who procured him a tolerably good copy of Walton’s Polyglott, the price exactly 10L.
The Reader will not have forgotten the most remarkable circumstance of his obtaining the money by which he purchased a Hebrew Grammar.
These two providential circumstances, were the only foundation of all the knowledge he afterwards acquired either in Oriental learning, or Biblical Literature. In obtaining both these works, he saw the hand of God, and this became a powerful inducement to him to give all diligence to acquire, and fidelity to use that knowledge which came to him through means utterly out of his own reach, and so distinctly marked to his apprehension by the especial Providence of God. He continued in the Norman Islands three years, laboring incessantly for the good of the people who heard him, though by the abundance of his labors, and intense study, he greatly impaired his health. In the year 1787, the Rev. J. Wesley, accompanied by Thomas Coke, LL.D., and Mr. Joseph Bradford, visited the Norman Islands; where he was well received, and preached to many large congregations both in Jersey and Guernsey. While in Jersey, he lodged at the house of Robert Carr Brackenbury, Esq., who has been already mentioned: and when in Guernsey, at Mon Plaisir, the house of Henry De Jersey, Esq., under whose hospitable roof Mr. C. had lodged for more than a year, and was treated by all the family as if he had been their own child.
There was no love lost, as he felt for them that affection which subsists between members of the same family.
Mr. Wesley’s time allotted for his visit to these Islands being expired, he purposed sailing for Southampton by the first fair wind, as he had appointed to be at Bristol on a particular day: but the wind continuing adverse, and an English brig touching at Guernsey on her way from France to Penzance, they agreed for their passage, Mr. C. having obtained Mr. Wesley’s permission to accompany them to England. They sailed out of Guernsey Road on Thursday, September 6 with a fine fair breeze; but in a short time, the wind which had continued slackening, died away, and afterwards rose up in that quarter which would have favored the passage to Southampton or Weymouth, had they been so bound. The contrary wind blew into a tight breeze, and they were obliged to make frequent tacks, in order to clear the Island. Mr. W. was sitting reading in the cabin, and hearing the noise and bustle which were occasioned by putting about the vessel, to stand on her different tacks, he put his head above deck and inquired what was t he matter? Being told the wind was become contrary, and the ship was obliged to tack, he said, Then let us go to prayer. His own company, who were upon deck, walked down and at his request Dr. Coke, Mr. Bradford, and Mr. Clarke, went to prayer. After the latter had ended, Mr. W. broke out into fervent supplication, which seemed to be more the offspring of strong faith than of mere desire, his words were remarkable, as well as the spirit, evident feeling, and manner, in which they were uttered: some of them were to the following effect: “Almighty and everlasting God, thou hast [Thy] way every where, and all things serve the purposes of thy will: thou holdest the winds in thy fist, and sittest upon the water floods, and reignest a King for ever: — command these winds and these waves that they obey THEE; and take us speedily and safely to the haven whither we would be, &c.!” The power of his petition was felt by all: — he rose from his knees, made no kind of remark, but took up his book and continued his reading. Mr. C. went upon deck, and what was his surprise when he found the vessel standing her right course, with a steady breeze, which slacked not, till, carrying them at the rate of nine or ten knots an hour, they anchored safely near St. Michael’s Mount, in Penzance Bay. On the sudden and favorable change of the wind, Mr. W. made no remark: so fully did he expect to be heard, that he took for granted he was heard. Such answers to prayer he was in the habit of receiving; and therefore to him, the occurrence was not strange. — Of such a circumstance how many of those who did not enter into his views, would have descanted at large, had it happened in favor of themselves; yet all the notice he takes of this singular circumstance is contained in the following entry in his Journal: — “In the morning, Thursday, (Sept. 6th, 1787,) we went on on board with a fair moderate wind. But we had but just entered the ship when the wind died away. We cried to God for help: and it presently sprung up, exactly fair, and did not cease till it brought us into Penzance Bay.”
Mr. Wesley was no ordinary man: every hour, every minute of his time was devoted to the great work which God had given him to do; and it is not to be wondered at that he was favored, and indeed accredited, with many signal interpositions of Divine Providence. Mr. Clarke himself has confessed that high as his opinion was of Mr. W.’s piety and faith, he had no hope that the wind which had long sat in the opposite quarter, and which had just now changed in a very natural way, would immediately veer about, except by providential interference, to blow in a contrary direction. There were too many marked extraordinary circumstances in this case, to permit any attentive observer to suppose that the change had been effected by any natural or casual occurrence.
As Mr. W.’s appearance in that part of England was totally unexpected, (having formed his route to Bristol,) it was necessary to announce it. Mr. Clarke, therefore, a few hours after his landing, took horse and rode to Redruth, Truro, St. Austell, and Plymouth Dock, preaching in each place, and announcing Mr. W. for the following evening, all the company meeting at Plymouth Dock, on Tuesday 10, they proceeded to Exeter the next day; and on Friday 13th, they took the mail-coach, and in the evening arrived safely at Bath; where having tarried till the following Monday, Mr. W. proceeded to Bristol, and Mr. Clarke to Trowbridge, in Wilts, where the lady resided, to whom, in the course of the next year, he was married.
Miss Mary Cooke, the lady in question, was the eldest daughter of Mr. John Cooke, clothier, of Trowbridge, well educated, of a fine natural disposition, deep piety and sound judgment. They had been acquainted for several years, and their attachment to each other was formed on the purest principles of reason and religion, and was consolidated with that affection which, where the natural dispositions are properly suited, will never permit the married life to be a burden; but on the contrary, the most powerful help to mental cultivation and the growth of genuine piety. In such cases, love and affection will be infallibly ripened and mellowed into genuine friendship, esteem, respect, and reverence. The yoke of the conjugal life becomes, as its name imports, an equal yoke — the husband and wife are both in the harness, and each party bears its proportional share of the burden of domestic life: and in such a case, it may be most truly said, The yoke is easy, and the burden is light.
The connection between Mr. C. and Miss Cooke was too good and holy not to be opposed. Some of her friends supposed they should be degraded by her alliance with a Methodist preacher, but pretended to cover their unprincipled opposition with the veil, that one so delicately bred up would not he able to bear the troubles and privations of a Methodist preacher’s life. These persons so prejudiced Mr. Wesley himself, that he threatened to put Mr. C. out of the Connection if he married Miss C. without her mother’s approbation!
Finding that Mr. W. was deceived by false representations, both Mr. C. and Miss Cooke laid before him a plain and full state of the case: he heard also the opposite party, who were at last reduced to acknowledge, that in this connection, everything was proper and Christian; and all would be well, should the mother consent; but if a marriage should take place without this, it would be a breach of the third commandment, and be a great cause of offense among the people who feared God. As to Mrs. C. herself, she grounded her opposition solely on the principle that her daughter would be exposed to destructive hardships in the itinerant life of a Methodist preacher; acknowledging that she had no objection to Mr. C., whom for his good sense and learning, she highly esteemed.
Mr. Wesley, like a tender parent, interposed his good offices to bring these matters to an accommodation — made those who were called Methodists ashamed of the part they had taken in this business, and wrote a friendly letter to Mrs. C. The opposition, which had arisen to a species of persecution, now began to relax; and as the hostile party chose at least to sleep on their arms, after waiting about a year longer, Mr. Clarke and Miss Cooke were married in Trowbridge church, April 17, 1788; and in about a week afterwards sailed to the Norman Islands. Few connections of this kind, were ever more opposed; and few, if any, were ever more happy.
The steadiness of the parties, during this opposition, endeared them to each other: they believed that God had joined them together, and no storm or difficulty in life was able to put them asunder. If their principal opponents have acted a more consistent part, it is the better for themselves; however they have lived long enough to know that they meddled with what did not concern them; and Mrs. Cooke, many years before her death saw that she had been imposed on and deceived; and that this marriage was one of the most happy in her family, in which there were some of the most respectable connections; — one daughter having married that most excellent man, Joseph Butterworth, Esq. M. P., a pattern of practical Christianity, a true friend to the genuine church of God, and a pillar in the State: and another was married to the Rev. Mr. Thomas, Rector of Begally, in South Wales, an amiable and truly pious man. Mr. Clarke’s marriage was crowned with a numerous progeny, six sons, and six daughters; of whom three sons and three daughters died young, and three sons and three daughters have arrived at mature age, and are most respectably and comfortably settled in life. I have judged it necessary to introduce these particulars here, though out of their chronological order, lest they should afterwards disturb the thread of the narrative.
During his stay in the Norman Isles he met with much persecution from that part of the people for whose salvation he labored most. One Sabbath morning, accompanied by captain and lieutenant W. and Mr. Wm. S., having gone to preach at La Valle, a low part of the island of Guernsey, always surrounded by the sea at high water, to which at such times there is no access but by means of a sort of causeway, called the bridge; a multitude of unruly people with drums, horns, and various offensive weapons, assembled at the bridge to prevent his entering this islet. The tide being a little out, he ventured to ride across about a mile below the bridge, without their perceiving him, got to the house and had nearly finished his discourse before the mob could assemble. At last they came in full power, and with fell purpose. The captain of a man of war, and the naval lieutenant, and the other gentleman, who had accompanied him, mounted their horses and rode off at full gallop, leaving him in the hands of the mob! That he might not be able so to escape, they cut his bridle in pieces. Nothing intimidated, he went among them, got upon an eminence and began to speak to them. The drums and horns ceased, the majority of the mob became quiet and peaceable, only a few from the outskirts, throwing stones and dirt, which he dexterously evaded by various inclinations of his head and body, so that he escaped all hurt, and after about an hour, they permitted him to mend his bridle, and depart in peace.
On his return to St. Peters, he found his naval heroes in great safety, who seem to have acted on the old proverb, “He that fights and runs away, May live to fight another day.” He had a more narrow escape for his life, one evening, at St. Aubin’s in the island of Jersey. A desperate mob of some hundreds, with almost all common instruments of destruction, assembled round the house in which he was preaching, which was a wooden building, with five windows. At their first approach, a principal part of the congregation issued forth, and provided for their own safety. The Society alone, about thirteen persons, remained with their preacher. The mob finding that all with whom they might claim brotherhood had escaped, formed the dreadful resolution to pull down the house, and bury the preacher and his friends in the ruins!
Mr. C. continued to address the people, exhorting them to trust in that God who was able to save; one of the mob presented a pistol at him through the window opposite to the pulpit, which twice flashed in the pan. Others had got crows, and were busily employed in sapping the foundation of the house: Mr. C. perceiving this, said to the people, “If we stay here, we shall all be destroyed: I will go out among them, they seek not you but me: after they have got me, they will permit you to pass unmolested.” They besought him with tears not to leave the house, as he would be infallibly murdered. He, seeing that there was no time to be lost, as they continued to sap the foundations of the house, said, “I will instantly go out among them, in the name of God.” Je vous occompagnerai, “I will accompany you,” said a stout young man. As the house was assailed with showers of stones, he met a volley of these as he opened and passed through the door; it was a clear full-moon night, the clouds having dispersed after a previously heavy storm of hail and rain. He walked forward, — the mob divided to the right and left, and made an ample passage for him and the young man who followed him, to pass through.
This they did to the very uttermost skirts of the hundreds who were there assembled, with drums, horns, fifes, spades, forks, bludgeons, &c. to take the life of a man whose only crime was, proclaiming to lost sinners redemption through the blood of the cross. During the whole time of his passing through the mob, there was a deathlike silence, nor was there any motion, but that which was necessary to give him a free passage! Either their eyes were holden that they could not know him; or they were so overawed by the power of God, that they could not lift a hand, or utter a word against him. The poor people finding all was quiet, came out a little after, and passed away, not one of them being either hurt or molested! In a few minutes the mob seemed to awake as from a dream, and finding that their prey had been plucked out of their teeth, they knew not how; attacked the house afresh, broke every square of glass in all the windows, and scarcely left a whole tile upon the roof.
He afterwards learnt that the design of the mob was to put him in the sluice of an overshot water-mill; by which he must necessarily have been crushed to pieces.  The next Lord’s-day he went to the same place: the mob rose again, and when they began to make a tumult, he called on them to hear him for a few moments; those who appeared to have most influence grew silent and stilled the rest. He spoke to them to this effect. — “I have never done any of you harm; my heartiest wish was, and is, to do you good. I could tell you many things by which you might grow wise unto salvation, would you but listen to them. Why do you persecute a man who can never be your enemy, and wishes to show that he is your friend. You cannot be Christians, who seek to destroy a man because he tells you the truth. But are you even men? Do you, deserve that name? I am but an individual and unarmed, and scores and hundreds of you join together to attack and destroy this single, unarmed man! Is not this to act like cowards and assassins? I am a man and a Christian. I fear you not as a man, — I would not turn my back upon the best of you, and could probably put your chief under my feet. St. Paul , the Apostle, was assailed in like manner by the heathens; they also were dastards and cowards. The Scripture does not call them men, but, according to the English translation, certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, or according to your own, which you better understand, Les batteurs de pave — La canaille. O shame on you, to come in multitudes to attack an inoffensive stranger in your island, who comes only to call you from wickedness to serve the living God, and to show you the way which will at last lead you to everlasting blessedness!” He paused, there was a shout, He is a clever fellow, he shall preach, and we will hear him! They were as good as their word; he proceeded without any farther hindrance from them, and they never after gave him any molestation!
The little preaching-house being nearly destroyed, he, some Sabbaths afterwards, attempted to preach out of doors. The mob having given up persecution, one of the magistrates of St. Aubin, whose name should be handed down to everlasting shame, took up the business, came to the place, with a mob of his own, and the drummer of the regiment, belonging to that place, pulled him down while he was at prayer, and delivered him into the hands of that canaille of which he was the head; the drummer attended him out of the town beating the Rogues’ March on his drum; and beating him frequently with the drum sticks; from whose strokes and other misusage he did not recover for some weeks. But he wearied out all his persecutors, — there were several who heard the word gladly; and for their sakes he freely ventured himself till at last all opposition totally ceased.
Another escape, though of a different kind, should not be unnoticed. The winter of 1788, was unusually severe in the Norman Islands, as well as in most other places. There were large falls of snow which had drifted into great wreathes, which made traveling in the country very dangerous.
Having appointed to preach one evening, in the beginning of January, at St. Aubin, the place mentioned above; he went to the town in company with the same young man who followed him out of the preaching-house, when he had so miraculous an escape from the mob; but because of the snow they were obliged to follow the sea-mark all the way along the bay of St. Aubin. When they arrived at the town he was nearly benumbed with the cold, and with fatigue; as it had blown hard with snow and sleet, and they were very wet, being obliged often to walk in the sea-water, to keep out of the drifts that lay on the sands. He preached, but was almost totally exhausted. He was obliged to return to St. Helliers, which by the water mark along th e bay, must have been between four and five miles: — much snow had fallen during the preaching, and the night became worse and worse. He set out, having had no kind of refreshment, and began to plod his way with faint and unsteady steps: at last a drowsiness, often the effect of intense cold when the principle of heat is almost entirely abstracted, fell upon him. He said to the young man, “Frank, I can go no farther, till I get a little sleep — let me lie down a few minutes on one of these snow drifts, and then I shall get strength to go on.” — Frank expostulated, — “O Sir, you must not: — were you to lie down but a minute, you would never rise more. Do not fear, hold by me, and I will drag you on and we shall soon get to St. Helliers.” He answered, “Frank, I cannot proceed, — I am only sleepy, and even two minutes will refresh me;” — and he attempted to throw himself upon a snow drift, which appeared to him with higher charms than the finest bed of down. Francis was then obliged to interpose the authority of his strength — pulled him up, and continued dragging and encouraging him, till with great labor and difficulty he brought him to St. Helliers.
It is well known that by intense cold, when long continued the powers of the whole nervous system become weakened; a torpor of the animal functions ensues; the action of the muscles is feeble, and scarcely obedient to the will; an unconquerable languor and indisposition to motion succeeds; and a gradual exhaustion of the nervous power shows itself in drowsiness, which terminates in sleep, from which the person unless speedily aroused, awakes no more. — This was precisely Mr. C.’s state at the time above mentioned; and had not his friend been resolute, as well as strong, but suffered him to lie down in his then exhausted state, less than five minutes would have terminated his mortal existence.
The reader will perhaps recollect the account given in Capt. Cook’s Voyages, of eleven persons, among whom were Sir Joseph Banks, and Dr. Solander, who went among the hills of Terra del Fuego, on a botanizing excursion, in January 1769; who, being overtaken with darkness, were obliged to spend the night on the hills, during extreme cold. Dr. Solander who had more than once crossed the mountains which divide Sweden from Norway, well knew that extreme cold especially when joined to fatigue, produces a torpor and sleepiness which are almost irresistible; he therefore conjured the company to keep moving, whatever pains it might cost them, and whatever relief they night be promised by an inclination to rest; for, said he, whoever sits down will sleep; and whoever sleeps will wake no more. — While they were on the naked rocks, before they could get among the bushes, the cold became so intense as to produce the effects that had been most dreaded. Dr. Solander was the first who felt the irresistible inclination t o sleep, against which he had warned the others; and insisted on being permitted to lie down; Mr. Banks (Sir Joseph) entreated and remonstrated in vain — down he lay on the ground, then covered with snow, and it was with the greatest difficulty he was prevented from sleeping. After a little they got him on his legs, and partly by entreaty and partly by force, brought him on, till at last he declared he neither could nor would go any farther, till he had had some sleep; — when they attempted to hinder him, he drew his sword, and threatened the life of his friends; — they were unable to carry him, and were obliged to suffer him to lie down, and he fell instantly into a profound sleep. Some men who had been sent forward to kindle a fire, just then returned with the joyful news that they had succeeded: Dr. Solander with the greatest difficulty was awaked, and though he had not slept five minutes, yet he had then nearly lost the use of his limbs and the muscles were so shrunk, that the shoes fell off his feet.
Two blacks, who were in the same circumstances, could not be re-awaked, they slept their last; but all the rest on being brought to the fire recovered.
The bay of St. Aubin, was very near furnishing another instance, to several already published, of the soporific effects of intense cold on the human body: — the life of the subject of this narrative, being barely saved from a similar death.
The fable of the Lion taken its a net, and delivered by a Mouse, has been, in its moral, frequently realized. Several years after this, Francis, the young man above mentioned, who was a joiner, having come to London in order to better his situation, was by sickness, the death of his wife, and other circumstances, involved in debt, and ultimately thrown into prison by a ruthless creditor: — Mr. C., who happened to be in London at the time, (1796) heard the case, paid the debt, and delivered his friend, whom he had not heard of for nine or ten years, from his wretched circumstances; and restored him to liberty, and to his motherless children. — No kind or benevolent act, be it done to whom it may, ever loses its reward. — It is laid up before God, and has its return generally in this, and often also in the coming world.
Mr. Clarke was the first Methodist preacher that visited the Island of Alderney, the nearest to France of all the Norman Islands; as it is separated from Cape la Hogue, in Normandy, only by a narrow channel three leagues broad, called the Race of Alderney. There was something singular in his visit to this Island, which he details in a Letter to the Rev. J.
Wesley; the substance of which I shall here insert.
Guernsey, March 16, “Rev. and very dear Sir, As in my last I intimated my intention to visit the Isle of Alderney; I think it my duty to give you some particulars relative to the success of that voyage. — My design being made public, many hindrances were thrown in my way. It was reported that the Governor had threatened to prohibit my landing, and that in case he found me on the Island, he would transport me to the Caskets, (a rock in the sea about three leagues W. of Alderney; on which there is a light-house;) these threatenings being published here rendered it very difficult for me to procure a passage, as several of my friends were against my going, fearing bad consequences; and none of the captains who traded to the Island, were willing to take me, fearing to incur thereby the displeasure of the Governor, notwithstanding I offered them any thing they could reasonably demand for my passage. I thought at last I should be obliged to hire one of the English packets, as I was determined to go, by God’s grace, at all events. “Having waited a long time, watching sometimes day and night, I at last got a vessel bound for the Island in which I embarked, and after a few hours of pleasant sailing though not without some fatigue and sickness, we came to the SW. side of the Island, where we were obliged to cast anchor, as the tide was too far spent to carry us round to the harbor. The captain put me and some others on shore with the boat. I then climbed up the steep rocks, and got to the top of the Island, heartily thanking the Lord for my safe passage. Being arrived, I found I had some new difficulties to encounter. I knew not where to go: I had no acquaintance in the place, nor had any invited me thither. For some time my mind was perplexed in reasoning on these things, till that word of the God of Missionaries came powerfully to me, ‘Into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, peace be to this house, and in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give you.’ Luke x. 5, 7. From this I took courage, and proceeded to the town, which is about a mile distant from the harbor. After having walked some way into it, I took particular notice of a very poor cottage, into which I felt a strong inclination to enter. I did so, with a ‘Peace be unto this house;’ and found in it an old man and woman, who, having understood my business, bade me ‘welcome to the best food they had, to a little chamber where I might sleep, and (what was still more acceptable) to their house to preach in.’ On hearing this, I saw plainly that the hand of the Lord was upon me for good, and I thanked him and took courage. “Being unwilling to lose any time, I told them I would preach that evening, if they could procure me a congregation. This strange news spread rapidly through the town: and long before the appointed hour a multitude of people flocked together, to whom I spoke of the kingdom of God, nearly as long as the little strength held out, which remained from the fatigues of my voyage. It was with much difficulty I could persuade them to go away, after promising to preach to them the next evening. “I then retired to my little apartment, where I had scarcely rested twenty minutes, when the good woman of the house came and entreated me to come down and preach again, as several of the gentry, (among whom was one of the justices) were come to hear what I had to say. I stepped down immediately, and found the house once more quite full. Deep attention sat on every face, while I showed the great need they stood in of a Saviour, and exhorted them to turn immediately from all their iniquities to the living God.
I continued in this good work about an hour, having received peculiar assistance from on high, and concluded with informing them what my design was in visiting their island, and the motives that induced me thereto. Having ended, the justice stepped forward, exchanged a few very civil words with me, and desired to see the book out of which I had been speaking. I gave it into his hand: he looked over it with attention, and asked me several questions; all which I answered apparently to his satisfaction.
Having bestowed a few more hearty advices on him and the congregation, they all quickly departed; and the concern evident on many of their countenances fully proved that God had added his testimony to that of his feeble servant. The next evening I preached again to a large attentive company, to whom, I trust, the word of the Lord came not in vain. “But a singular circumstance took place the next day. While I sat at dinner a constable from a person in authority, came to solicit my immediate appearance at a place called the Bray (where several respectable families dwelt, and where the Governor’s stores are kept) to preach to a company of gentlemen and ladies, who were waiting, and at whose desire one of the large store-rooms was prepared for that purpose. I went without delay, and was brought by the lictor to his master’s apartment, who behaved with much civility, told me the reason of his sending for me, and begged I would preach without delay. I willingly consented, and in a quarter of an hour a large company was assembled. The gentry were not so partial to themselves, as to exclude several sailors, smugglers, and laborers, from hearing with them. The Lord was with me, and enabled me to explain from Proverbs 12:26., the character and conduct of the righteous; and to prove by many sound arguments, that such a one was, beyond all comparison more excellent than his ungodly neighbor, however great, rich, wise, or important he might appear in the eyes of men. All heard with deep attention, save an English gentleman so called, who walked out about the middle of the discourse, perhaps to show the islanders that he despised sacred things. “The next Sabbath morning, being invited to preach in the English church, I gladly accepted it, and in the evening I preached in the large warehouse at the Bray, to a much larger congregation, composed of the principal gentry of the Island, together with justices, jurats, constables, &c. The Lord was again with me, and enabled me to declare His counsel without fear, and several were affected. Surely there will be fruit found of this, to the honor and praise of God. Even so, Lord Jesus! Amen. “The next day being the time appointed for my return, many were unwilling I should go, saying, ‘We have much need of such preaching, and such a preacher: we wish you would abide in the Island and go back no more. The tide serving at about eleven o’clock in the forenoon, I attended at the beach in order to embark; but an unexpected Providence rendered this impracticable. The utmost of the flood did not set the vessel afloat; and, though many attempts were made to get her off, by hauling astern, &c., all were in vain. I then returned to the town; the people were glad of my detention, and earnestly hoped, that the vessel might sit fast, at least till the next spring tides. Many came together in the evening, to whom I again preached with uncommon liberty; and God appeared more eminently present than before, giving several to see at least, men as trees walking. This, with several other observable circumstances, induced me to believe that my detention was of the Lord, and that I had not before fully delivered Hi s counsel. The vessel being got off the same night about twelve o’clock, I recommended them to God, promised them a preacher shortly, and setting sail I arrived in Guernsey in about twenty-one hours. Glory be to God for ever! Amen. “Several very remarkable circumstances attended this little voyage, the detailing of which I omit; from the whole of which I conclude, that an effectual door is opened in that Island for the reception of the everlasting Gospel, and am convinced I did not mistake the call of the Lord. One thing I believe greatly contributed to the good that may have been done: — viz. a day of fasting and prayer, which I got our Societies both in town and country to observe. Were this method more frequently adopted we should not attempt the introduction of the Gospel so much in vain. There is not the smallest opposition nor even the appearance of any. As to the clergyman, he is absolutely a Gallio; for, on being informed that a Methodist preacher had got into the Island, he said, A Quaker came a-preaching here some years ago and he did not convert one; and it is probable it will be the case with this Methodist also.’ And so he rests perfectly contented. Indeed he preaches not at all: he reads the Liturgy and Ostervald’s Reflections upon the First and Second Lessons; nor do the people expect him to do any thing farther.
I am, Rev. and Dear Sir, Your affectionate and Obedient Son in the Gospel, Adam Clarke.” Since the time above mentioned, a great increase of religion has been seen in the island of Alderney. A chapel has been built, and many have been brought from the power of Satan unto God, by means of the Methodist preachers, both English and French.
Alderney, called by the inhabitants Auregny, lies about three leagues southwest of Cape la Hogue, in Normandy.
This Island derives much of its supplies from France. Such as, fresh meat, butter, eggs, &c., which supply, to the great inconvenience of the inhabitants, is cut off in the time of war: and is often suspended in the time of peace, by foul weather and contrary winds. This latter was the case when Mr. C. visited this Island, no fresh meat could be found; and the people with whom he lodged had nothing to present him, but swine’s flesh, an aliment of which he never partook. Indeed there was nothing to be had besides, except salt butter and ship-biscuit. Having inquired whether any fresh eggs could he procured, he had the satisfaction to find as many as he needed during his stay. An old frying-pan was found, deeply rusted, having been long out of use: from this he scraped off the thickest crusts of the rust, got a piece of butter, melted it in the pan over the fire, and with a handful of oakum (old tarred rope, unraveled to its component parts) he wiped out the pan as clean as he could, and then fried his eggs with a piece of the salt butter, which looked of a fine deep brown, each cooking serving to detach some portions of the remaining rust. Such fricassees with coarse hard ship-biscuit served him in general for breakfast, dinner, and supper, while he remained on the Island: and for this he felt thankful both to God and man. It is true, he had some invitations to go to better houses, and get better fare; but he remembered the Words of our Lord, which occurred to his mind on entering into the town, “And into whatsoever house you enter, there abide, eating and drinking such things as they give you.” This house he believed the Lord had opened; and on this account he could have preferred it to the palace of the forest of Lebanon.
While he remained in these Islands he had the satisfaction to be able to erect a convenient and excellent chapel, in the town of St. Peter’s in Guernsey, and saw a large and respectable congregation established in it.
Among these Islanders Mr. C. met with much kindness: several were converted to God, who became ornaments of their profession, and patterns of piety. In Guernsey he seldom met with an improper usage.
Many decent, respectable families, attended his preaching, and treated him with great respect. This was the case also at Alderney. Jersey differed from all the rest, as we have already seen; yet there he had among his friends, some of the first families in the island.
The fertility of these islands has been noticed by historians in general, — as a proof of this, take the following examples: — In a garden in the parish of St. Saviour’s in Jersey, he saw a lot of cabbages, which, on an average, measured seven feet in height, with large and solid heads. In Mr. De Jersey’s garden, at Mon Plaisir, in Guernsey, where he lodged, there was a cabbage that grew beside, and surpassed in height, a full-grown apple tree: when cut down, the stem was sixteen feet in length!
The strawberry garden in the same place was very remarkable, both for the abundance, size, and flavor of the fruit. It will surprise the Reader to hear that from this one garden, which though large, was not enormously so, there were gathered daily, Sundays excepted, for nearly six weeks, from fifty to one hundred pounds weight of strawberries! All other fruits were in proportion, both in quantity and flavor. In Mr. Brackenbury’s garden, in St. Helliers, Jersey, he cut down a bunch of grapes, which weighed about twenty pounds! When he and Mrs. Clarke returned to England, they could not relish any of the fruits, as the finest peaches and nectarines were only like good turnips, when compared with fruits of the same species produced in those fertile islands.