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“Till this time my father had never heard the least disturbance in his study. But the next evening, as he attempted to go into his study (of which none had the key but himself), when he opened the door it was thrust back with such violence as had like to have thrown him down. However, he thrust the door open, and went in. Presently there was a knocking, first on one side, then on the other, and, after a time, in the next room, wherein my sister Nancy was. He went into that room, and, the noise continuing, adjured it to speak, but in vain. He then said, “ These spirits love darkness : put out the candle, and perhaps it will speak. She did so, and he repeated the adjuration ; but still there was only knocking, and no articulate sound. Upon this he said, * Nancy, two Christians are an overmatch for the devil. Go all of you down-stairs, it may be when I am alone he will have courage to speak.' When she was gone, a thought came into his head, and he said, “If thou art the spirit of my son Samuel, I pray knock three knocks, and no more.' Immediately all was silence, and there was no more knocking at all that night. I asked my sister Nancy (then fifteen years old), whether she was not afraid when my father used that adjuration. She answered she was sadly afraid it would speak when she put out the candle, but she was not at all afraid in the day-time, when it walked after her, only she thought when she was about her work, he might have done it for her and saved her the trouble." .
"By this time,” continues John Wesley, “all my sisters were so accustomed to these noises, that they gave them little disturbance. A gentle tapping at their bed-head usually began between nine and ten at night. They then commonly said to each other, ' Jeffrey is coming; it is time to go to sleep.' And if they heard a noise in the day, and said to my youngest sister, • Hark, Kezzy, Jeffrey is knocking above,' she would run upstairs, and pursue it from room to room, saying she desired no better diversion.
“My father and mother had just gone to bed,” says Wesley, citing another instance of these mysterious disturbances, “and the candle was not taken away, when they heard three blows, and a second and a third three, as it were with a large oaken staff, struck upon a chest which stood by the bedside. My father immediately arose, put on his nightgown, and, hearing great noises below, took the candle and went down; my mother walked by his side. As they went down the broad stairs, they heard as if a vessel full of silver was poured upon my mother's breast and ran jingling down to her feet. Quickly after, there was a sound as if a large iron bell were thrown among many bottles under the stairs; but nothing was hurt. Soon after, our large mastiff dog came, and ran to shelter himself between them. While the disturbances continued he used to bark and leap, and snap on one side and the other, and that frequently before any person in the room heard any noise at all. But after two or three days he used to tremble, and creep away before the noise began. And by this the family knew it was at hand ; nor did the observation ever fail.
“A little before my father and mother came into the hall,” says Wesley, resuming the thread of his story, “it seemed as if a very large coal was violently thrown upon the floor, and dashed all in pieces ; but nothing was seen. My father then cried out, Sukey, do you not hear ? all the pewter is thrown about the kitchen.' But when they looked all the pewter stood in its place. Then there was a loud knocking at the back door. My father opened it, but saw nothing. It was then at the front door. He opened that, but it was still lost labour, After opening first the one, then the other, several times, he turned and went up to bed. But the noises were so violent all over the house that he could not sleep till four in the morning.
“ Several gentlemen and clergymen now earnestly advised my father,” concludes Wesley, “to quit the house. But he constantly answered, “No : let the devil flee from me ; I will never fee from the devil.' But he wrote to my eldest brother, at London, to come down. He was preparing so to do, when another letter came informing him the disturbances were over, after they had continued (the latter part of the time day and night), from the 2nd of December to the end of January.”
The elder Wesley's diary fully confirms all the more remarkable portions of John Wesley's Narrative, and even mentions some curious incidents not given by the son : for instance, the Rev. Samuel says, “ I have been thrice pushed by an invisible power, once against the corner of my desk in the study, a second time against the door of the matted chamber, a third time against the right side of the frame of my study-door, as I was going in.”
On the 25th December he records, “ Our mastiff came whining to us, as he did always after the first night of its coming ; for then he barked violently at it, but was silent afterwards, and seemed more afraid than any of the children.”
John Wesley, also, received several lengthy letters from various members of the family, corroborating the various details already given, but these communications are too lengthy to cite, besides being frequently but repetitions of the same, or similar stories. From a letter written by Emily Wesley (afterwards Mrs. Harper), some extracts, however, may be given. “A whole month was sufficient to convince anybody," she writes, “of the reality of the thing. ... I shall only tell you what I myself heard, and leave the rest to others.
“My sisters in the paper-chamber had heard noises, and told me of them, but I did not much believe till one night, about a week after the first groans were heard, which was the beginning. Just after the clock struck ten, I went down-stairs to lock the doors, which I always do. Scarce had I got up the west stairs, when I heard a noise like a person throwing down a vast coal in the middle of the fore kitchen. I was not much frighted, but went to my sister Sukey, and we together went all over the lower rooms, but there was nothing out of order. Our dog was fast asleep, and our only cat in the other end of the house. No sooner was I got up-stairs and undressing for bed, but I heard a noise ... This made me hasten to bed. But my sister, Hetty, who sits always to wait on my father, going to bed, was still sitting on the lowest step of the garret stairs, the door being shut at her back, when, soon after, there came down the stairs behind her something like a man in a loose night-gown trailing after him, which made her fly rather than run to me in the nursery." Emily Wesley, the writer of these words, it may be added, appeared to believe herself followed by this manifestation through life. When writing to her brother John, thirty-four years after the Epworth disturbances had taken place, she alludes to “ that wonderful thing called by us Jeffrey” as calling upon her before any extraordinary new affliction.
In summing up the general circumstances attendant upon the disturbances in their household, John Wesley remarks:
“ Before it came into any room, the latches were frequently lifted up, the windows clattered, and whatever iron or brass was about the chamber rung and jarred exceedingly.
“When it was in any room, let them make what noise they would, as they sometimes did, its dead hollow note would be clearly heard above them all.
“The sound very often seemed in the air in the middle of a room ; nor could they ever make any such themselves, by any contrivance.
“It never came by day till my mother ordered the horn to be blown. After that time scarce anyone could go from one room into another but the latch