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When reading this letter it is worth noting the background of the author and his family.
Joseph Entwisle junior was a Methodist preacher and son of, logically, the better known Joseph Entwisle senior who was also a Methodist minister. The sick brother is Samuel Entwisle, another fervant Methodist. He was to die a month after this letter on June 21 1830, the letter is dated May 20 1830. Other prominent Methodists were a brother called William, who features in the letter, who died in 1831.
Hence the very religious nature of the letter. The reference to the Tonga missionaries is very interesting. The first Wesleyan missionary to Tonga was led by Walter Lawry in 1822 from the Wesleyan Missionary Society so the "damsels" and their husbands would have been one of the later groups.
Small biographies of the the Entwisles can be found at this web site Biographical Index of Methodist Ministers. I was unsure of the "Mirsy Metz" but this gets two mentions so I assume is correct.
Nothing exciting about the postmark, bog standard Bath postmark and an undistinguished receiving mark
The spelling is as per the letter.
Bath, may 20, 1830
No doubt you are beginning to look with some anxiety for another letter – and we are not less desirous to hear from you. I should have written sooner, but my time is so fully taken up with nursing etc our dear suffering brother that I can seldom get a moment’s leisure – and when I have found one, I have had no spirit left sometimes
Poor dear Samuel still holds out and may yet continue for some time. He has been gradually declining ever since we wrote last – though sometimes for a day or two, the progress of the disease has been very rapid; but then he has revived a little again, and the progress of the disease has been checked – so that upon the whole – he is declining gradually. He is now obliged to keep his bed most of the day – he gets up in the afternoon, and lies down on the sofa for 3 or 4 hours – He suffers very much at times from pain in his bowels – almost every thing he takes fills them with wind, and it is generally some time before he can expel it. – His cough continues unabated. His appetite fails – and his strength in much diminished of course. It is a great mercy that he sleeps much – though sometimes for a night or two together he is very restless & wakeful. But generally he sleeps better than might be expected.
This mind is, I think, in an improving state – he seems to be gradually rising above discouragement. He is much more free and communicative. His views of the mercy of God of the glory of Christ and of the sufficiency of the atonement are more clear & influential. He seems generally when awake to be engaged in meditation & prayer – and to feel much more power & comfort in these exercises than he did. He has a persuasion that God will manifest himself more fully & gloriously on long. – Mr Watson, who was at our Mirsy Mz last week, immediately on her return to London wrote Samuel a most delightful letter, which has been very useful to him. – It is a great relief to our minds to see poor dear Samuel (while nature is sinking) gradually rising out of the horrible pits of discouragement into which he had sunk – and we trust that soon he will feel himself firmly fixed upon the rock & his goings established forever –
Wm & Mary were here last week at the Mirsy Metz and spent two days with us, Next Tuesd. Our Distt. Meeting commences, when we expect them again. They are both well. At least Mary is quite well – And Wm very much improved. His cough is not gone – but his cheeks are filling up – his countenance has a healthy line – and he is gaining both flesh & strength – and I believe that with care he will get quite well again – and be spared many years. –
Father, mother and myself are quite as well as can be expected – considering the anxiety & fatigue which are unavoidable under the present circumstances – I begin to feel rather nervous & poor at times – owing I suppose to the constant depression of spirits produced by witnessing so much suffering which it is oft out of my power to alleviate – and to frequent loss of sleep etc. – But considering that I have not slept in a bed once for above 6 weeks, I am wonderfully well I trust the Lord will preserve me. Neither father nor mother can bear fatigue & loss of sleep as they used – so that I seem to be the way of duty – it properly falls on me –
We are anxious to hear from you – and to know how you all are. If you are not able to write without inconvenience, I hope that he will as soon as possible, that we may know how you are. The Lord bless & support you, my dear sister, in the approaching hour of trial & suffering. We do not – I cannot forget you. And if our prayers can be of any avail they will not be wanting I believe the Lord will be with you & bring you through. Hitherto he has always been better to you than all boding fears. – Cast all you can upon Him – for HE careth for you. Father & Mother – and our dear Samuel writes with me in love to yourself, bro and the dear children. Give my love to all at Thornes when you write or see them. Cousin Hannah is still at W. James’s, with two other damsels who are to be married to Missionaries accompanying her & W. Watkins to Tonga. N.B. The King of Tonga has begun to meet in class, and the Incen is a teacher in our Sunday School – and already there is a congregation of 500 natives at one place. It is uncertain when they will sail.
I remain, I may your affectionate bros Joseph Entwisle