Beau Nash’s encounter with Wesley

In his journal, John Wesley thus described his encounter with Richard ’Beau’ Nash: on June 5th, 1739:

There was great expectation at Bath of what a noted man was to do to me there, and I was much entreated ’not to preach, because no one knew what might happen’. By this report also I gained a much larger audience, among whom many of the rich and great. I told them plainly, the Scripture had concluded them all under sin, high and low, rich and poor, one with another. Many of them seemed to be not a little surprised and were sinking apace into seriousness, when their champion appeared and, coming close to me, asked by what authority I did these things. I replied, ’By the authority of Jesus Christ, conveyed to me by the (now) Archbishop of Canterbury, when he laid his hands upon me and said, “Take thou authority to preach the gospel.”’ He said, ’This is contrary to Act of Parliament. This is a conventicle .’ I answered, ’Sir, the conventicles mentioned in that Act … are seditious meetings. But this is not such. Here is no shadow of sedition. Therefore it is not contrary to that Act.’’ He replied, ’I say it is. And beside, your preaching frightens people out of their wits.’ ’Sir, did you ever hear me preach?’ ’No.’ ’How then can you judge of what you never heard?’ ’Sir, by common report. Common report is enough.’ ’Give me leave, sir, to ask, Is not your name Nash ?’ ’My name is Nash.’ ’Sir, I dare not judge you by common report. I think it is not enough to judge by.’ Here he paused awhile, and having recovered himself asked, ’I desire to know what this people comes here for.’ On which one replied, ’’Sir, … let an old woman answer him. — You, Mr. Nash, take care of your body. We take care of our souls, and for the food of our souls we come here.’ He replied not a word but walked away.

The Works of John Wesley: Journals and Diaries (II 1738-43), eds. Reginald Ward & Richard Heitzenrater (Nashville: Abingdon P, 1990), 63-4.