No. 1


22 December 1785


My dear Sir


I am sorry to find that your eyes are not well.  As to myself I shall think it my duty, and I am sure it will be my pleasure, to suit myself to your wishes and convenience, so far as my call and line of daily service will permit.


I saw Mrs Wilberforce today, and left her in tears of joy.  She says you may depend on her strictly observing your requisitions.  She had intended (with Mrs Littlehales) to visit Charles Square on Saturday, but I told her, I was then to wait on you.  I suppose now, she will be with us, either Monday next, or the Saturday following.


Our Saturday visitants are very uncertain, though we usually make a point of being at home to receive such as come.  Sometimes I have a succession of company from morning to night, sometimes but few, and the house is seldom clear till towards 8 o’clock.  By that time I am glad to retire, and think a little about the morrow.  We dine at 2 o’clock – if you could take up with our way, we should be exceedingly glad of your company, we have not always, nor even often, anybody to dinner, but it may happen so.  From that time till 5 or ½ past five, I could have you to myself in my study, let who would come.  And so I could in the forenoon.  The reason I mentioned at first that Saturday was not convenient was only from the possibility of your being known and noticed, by somebody – which reason now seems not so mighty, as it was then.


Should you be in town on Saturday, and not choose to come hither – an intimation of your wish, would presently hasten me to you, provided I could be at home again by about 6 o’clock.


I hope you will always find me desirous of approving myself




Your obliged, obedient and affectionate servant

John Newton


I think to direct to the Hotel, because as I did not receive your letter till this evening – I believe my answer sent from hence, would not reach Wimbledon before Saturday.


Thursday Even[ing]

 22 December [17]85



Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Wilberforce c.49, fol. 1




Wilberforce inherited weak eyes from his mother. He suffered constantly from eye-strain. [return]

Mrs Wilberforce in this context is Hannah Wilberforce [d. 1788], the MP’s aunt, through whom Newton first met William when he was a child. [return]

Newton lived at No. 13 Charles Square, Hoxton for the first few years of his ministry at St Mary Woolnoth. [return]

Probably the Adelphi, a riverside terrace of houses near The Strand, popularised by David Garrick, Shakespearean actor, and author Hannah More. [return]

The Wilberforce home in Wimbledon was Lauriston House, on the south side of Wimbledon Common. [return]