Monday, June 26, 2017

Botany - Why Proper, 18C Religious Women Should Learn Botany

Louis Carrogis de Carmontelle, 1717-1806. French artist Madame la comtesse de Vauban, 1776.

The Rev. Mr. John Bennet (1714–1759), a clergyman interested in the appropriate behavior (especially the conduct of women, except, of course, those he was attracted to) for a moral society whose Letters to a young lady...calculated to improve the heart, to form the manners and to enlighten the understanding circulated throughout Great Britain & the United States, wrote"Attention to a garden is A truly feminine amusement. If you mix it with a taste for botany, and a knowledge of plants and flowers, you will never be in want of an excellent restorative."  Apart from his preaching activities and his ideas about how women should spend their time, Bennet is also remembered for his marriage to the widow nurse Grace Murray on 3 October 1749, a woman who at the time of Bennet’s proposal was already engaged to John Wesley 1703-1791 himself. This affair and a few differences in beliefs led to Bennet’s departure from Wesley's Methodism. In 1752, Bennet, left the Methodist Church in Bolton, Lancashire, taking a large segment of the Methodist society with him. He served as minister at Bolton for the following 2 years. In 1754, Bennet, now ordained as a Congregationalist Minister, pastored a church in Cheshire. On 24 May 1759, Bennet, fatigued with much preaching and seemingly constant sickness, died at the age of 45.
John Wesley 1703-1791 by William Hamilton English artist, 1751-1801 National Portrait Gallery, London
Note: As a young man, Preacher John Wesley was reticent even to tell his young first love, that he was fond of her. She found another. This was not John Wesley's only disappointment in love. When he sailed across the Atlantic to the British American colony of Georgia, he was again attracted by a young girl, but now the situation was public, not private.  Sophy Hopkey was one of John Wesley’s young parishoners in Georgia. Wesley and Sophy would go walking or riding or picnicking. Unfortunately John Wesley waited so long to tell her that he cared for her, that Sophy had pledged herself to another man. That was "betrayal" in Wesley’s mind, and he took revenge by refusing to perform the marriage ceremony for the girl on the basis of narrow legalistic grounds. As a result, the whole community was in an uproar; and Wesley literally fled the territory, departed for England, and never sailed to America again. By then, Wesley had suffered 2 devastating personal defeats in love. He apparently was not emotionally prepared for a third. Upon his return to England, he met Grace Murray, who had been his nurse during an illness, and she became Wesley’s 3rd encounter with romance. Grateful for the kindness she had shown him, Wesley employed her as his assistant, while he preached around the country. She was devoted to him, and he became very attached to her. They decided on marriage, but unfortunately Charles Wesley and his brother John Wesley had agreed to allow the other to approve or disapprove of his choice of a bride. Charles not only disapproved of the nurse, but upon hearing of the proposed nuptials; he rode immediately to nurse Grace Murray and cajoled her into to marrying one of John’s preachers instead. That preacher was the botany-loving, but short-lived John Bennet.

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