(From the Journal of John Wesley)
“What was yet stranger, any word he had learned in his lesson he knew wherever he saw it, either in his Bible or any other book; by which means he learned very soon to read an English author well.
“The same method was observed with them all. As soon as they knew the letters, they were put first to spell, and read one line, then a verse; never leaving till perfect in their lesson, were it shorter or longer. So one or other continued reading at schooltime, without any intermission; and before we left school, each child read what he had learned that morning; and ere we parted in the afternoon, what they had learned that day.
“There was no such thing as loud talking or playing allowed of; but everyone was kept close to his business for the six hours of school: and it is almost incredible what a child may be taught in a quarter of a year by a vigorous application, if it have but a tolerable capacity and good health. Every one of these, Kezzy excepted, could read better in that time than the most of women can do as long as they live.
“Rising out of their places or going out of the room was not permitted, unless for good cause; and running into the yard, garden, or street without leave was always esteemed a capital offense.
“For some years we went on very well. Never were children in better order. Never were children better disposed to piety or in more subjection to their parents till that fatal dispersion of them, after the fire, into several families. In those days they were left at full liberty to converse with servants, which before they had always been restrained from; and to run abroad and play with any children, good or bad. They soon learned to neglect a strict observation of the Sabbath and got knowledge of several songs and bad things, which before they had no notion of. The civil behavior which made them admired when at home by all which saw them, was, in great measure, lost; and a clownish accent and many rude ways were learned which were not reformed without some difficulty.
“When the house was rebuilt, and the children all brought home, we entered upon a strict reform; and then was begun the custom of singing Psalms at beginning and leaving school, morning and evening. Then also that of a general retirement at five o’clock was entered upon; when the oldest took the youngest that could speak, and the second the next, to whom they read the Psalms for the day and a chapter in the New Testament; as, in the morning, they were directed to read the Psalms and a chapter in the Old: after which they went to their private prayers, before they got their breakfast, or came into the family. And, I thank God, the custom is still preserved among us.