Monday, August 24, 2009

Charles Wesley's Secret Code

I'm a little late with this as news goes but in my readings about Charles Wesley I was surprised to learn about a secret shorthand code that he used in his diaries when he wrote about sensitive issues. I was even more surprised when I learned that the code had only recently been cracked (the news story came out a year ago this month). I doubt we'll see any movies on "Breaking the Wesley Code" starring Tom Hanks but it is an interesting bit of history. Pictured here is a sample of the shorthand code.

The mystery was solved by an Anglican Priest named Kenneth Newport. It took him nine years to break the code. Some of the issues discussed were John's marriage to Grace Murray and Charles' strong opposition to any idea of the Methodists separating from the Anglican church. Newport is reported as saying, "At one point in the journal he is talking to the society at Grimsby and goes into block capitals and says 'I told them I would remain with them as long as they remained with the Church of England but should they ever turn their back on the Church they turn their back on me'." To be fair these issues were already well known to students of Wesley so it's hard to say if there is anything really new to be learned. Both of the above issues are discussed in the biography by Tyson. But it does show Wesley's concern to be discreet when discussing these things even in his own diary.

Some reports have tried to fabricate some kind of hidden "sex scandal." More responsible treatments have tried to keep things in perspective.

My post on Charles Wesley and "The Poison of Calvinism" will be up on Wednesday.

No comments: