12. How Hugh Bourne Spent Christmas Week

Transcription of article in the series “one Hundred Years Ago” by H. Bickerstaffe Kendall

HUGH BOURNE spent the Christmas week of 1816 in Derbyshire. The morning of Monday, the 23rd December, found him at Hulland, and he had to be at Derby, twelve miles away, for the Quarterly Meeting. The business was nearly pleasantly through when a mine was sprung in the midst of the brethren assembled. The ringleader— whose name is veiled under the initials T.S.—was a Swedenborgian who had crept into the society and secretly formed a party. They had in some way or other contrived to get hold of the forms, the stoves and some money. Now at the fag-end of the meeting the plot was disclosed. In his Journal Hugh Bourne puts down some remarkably calm reflections on this untoward incident. “But judgment is with the Lord, and the human heart is weak and ignorant. Temptation also is great and strong.” This is all very well; but we suspect that, in the heat of the conflict, Hugh Bourne would not confine himself to moral reflections, however sound and pertinent, but would be much more direct and personal. Here we note that Thomas Mozley, in his “Reminiscences” tells us that, when he went to Higginson’s school in Derby in 1818, there was amongst his schoolfellows a clever Swedenborgian youth named Madeley, who afterwards became alderman and mayor. He adds that at one time the Swedenborgians had two chapels in Derby. One, he believed (writing in 1885) had been turned into a warehouse, and the other “occupied by some description of Methodists”! Whether both these alleged chapels existed in 1816, or whether our cute seceders started chapel No. 2, and transferred to it the forms and stoves they took from us—are matters we cannot determine.

The introduction of this business, not on the agenda, lengthened as well as enlivened the sittings of the Derby Quarterly Meeting. This had its inconvenience for Hugh Bourne. He was planned to preach that evening at Weston-Underwood, six miles away. In order to get there in time he had to run great part of the way. He was uneasy, too, lest some footpad should rifle his pockets of the quarter-day money he carried. He got there, however, in due time for the service, but all splashed with mud and nearly spent. He preached from Matt. xxiii. 33 —surely a singular text for a week-evening discourse, and, what was still more singular, he had forgotten he had preached from the same text the last time he was at Weston. Then followed the renewal of tickets, at which he records “we had a glorious time.” Next day Hugh Bourne discovered the hand of God in his lapse of memory and choice of text. Richard Clark told him how he (Richard) had lately warned a young man that “if he went on speaking lies he would go into the damnation of hell.” The youth, perhaps naturally enough, spread the report that Richard Clark had been swearing, and there was something of a scandal. But Hugh Bourne’s sermon “settled the matter.”

On December 24th he preached at Mercaston, “one mile from Weston-Underwood,” and renewed tickets. Christmas Day was full of activities. He met the trustees of Turnditch Chapel and audited all the accounts; spoke at Hulland and gave the Sacrament; and finished the day by preaching at Turnditch and renewing tickets. On Monday, the 30th, he was at Tunstall Quarterly Meeting. “It was a good day and R. Winfield and T. Saxton spoke at night.” The last day of the year was spent in plan-making. At night John Benton preached and the year 1816 ends on the note, “It was a good time.”

References

Primitive Methodist Magazine 1916/868

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