One distinctive of early Methodists was their use of Class Tickets (sometimes called Quarterly Tickets), that showed the person was in good standing with the church. There are all sorts of surviving images of these online; I pulled just a few to give an example. It was clearly a significant source of identity for people who joined this movement!
The Methodists, as the name implies, were also very serious about order and method. They were extremely organized (by this point in time) and kept rigorous records of membership. They thought it essential to meet in smaller groups or classes so that each member would personally get to share how “goes it with their soul” and receive encouragement, reproof, etc. This excerpt on how it should work was originally written in 1808 and then updated forty years later:
There are about twelve persons in a class, one of whom is styled the Leader. It is his duty:
1. To see each person in his class once a week at least, in order:
(1) to inquire how their souls prosper; (2) to advise, reprove, comfort or exhort, as occasion may require; (3) to receive what they are willing to give toward the relief of the preachers, church, and poor.
2. To meet the Minister and the Stewards of the society once a week, in order:
(1) to inform the minister of any that are sick, or of any that walk disorderly and will not be reproved; (2) to pay to the stewards what they have received of their several classes in the week preceding.
(The General Rules of the Methodist Class Meetings, Dennis Bratcher, ed.)
In my research on painters, I stumbled across John Wesley Jarvis, a fantastic portraitist of the time, and also a great-great-nephew of one of the founders of Methodism, John Wesley. (Jarvis was born in Sheffield, and his (middle-class) family moved to the US, so he wasn’t perfect for my research, but his pictures really inspired my imagination. Sometimes I struggle to connect with the portraits from Regency times, but his are so lifelike!)
Jane’s only reference to Methodists was in Mansfield Park, when Mary Crawford responds to Edmund (who was stating that adultery wasn’t just inconvenient or ill-advised, it was wrong)… “A pretty good lecture, upon my word. Was it part of your last sermon? At this rate you will soon reform everybody at Mansfield and Thornton Lacey; and when I hear of you next, it may be as a celebrated preacher in some great society of Methodists, or as a missionary into foreign parts.”
Poor Edmund! Now I just want to read Mansfield Park again.
In closing, I’ll just give a brief excerpt from my story, A True Likeness.
As they walked through the shrubbery at Longbourn, Darcy smiled at Lizzy, as he invariably did when she teased him, but he still looked disquieted. “I am a little anxious. I fear Georgiana might be growing overly pious. I thought she was recovering from Ramsgate quite well, but perhaps I was wrong.”
“Overly pious?” She chuckled, but then her earlier intuition came to mind and she bit her lip. “Has she been speaking with Mr. Turner?”
“Yes. Though I daresay she might have come upon the idea even without his influence. It hadn’t previously occurred to me, but for a sensitive girl like her, feeling guilty and shamed over the incident with Wickham, this is a very possible reaction.”
“Is piety so terrible?”
“No, but hearing her talk just now… I fear she is a few steps from a nunnery.”
“I think she is more likely to become a Methodist.”
Darcy cocked his head quizzically. “Because that is the particular brand of zealotry she is exposed to just now?”
“I think…” Lizzy struggled with how much to say. “I think because she cares for Mr. Turner.”
Darcy stopped walking. “Excuse me?”
Lizzy winced. “I am not at all sure, only it has once or twice seemed to me that she is not indifferent to him.”
“Mr. Turner? No, I do not think you can be right. John Turner for Miss Georgiana Darcy? It is ridiculous.”
Lizzy faced him. “As ridiculous as Elizabeth Bennet for Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy?”
“No. No, that is not what I meant.”
A faint color rose in his cheeks. “I admit you have reason to think so, but truly the circumstances are different. My attitude toward you and your family was quite wrong, I have owned it. But your father is a gentleman, you are clearly a lady—it was my pride that was at fault. Mr. Turner is essentially a tradesman, from a large working-class family—it is quite different. It is not what our mother would want for her.”
“Would they have approved of me?” Lizzy put her hand on his arm as his eyes grew distant. “I don’t want to wound you, but I think you might consider that times do change. And you are the one here.”
“It is easier to make decisions for myself. For Georgiana… Lizzy, how I wish my mother was still alive.”
Lizzy turned pink.
“Wishes are nonsense, of course.” He visibly drew himself together, the rare vulnerability disappearing. “Shall we return to the house?”
Lizzy put one finger to his lips to stop him. “You finally called me Lizzy.”
“Oh? Yes, I suppose I did—”
Lizzy stretched up on her toes to kiss him, the first time she had initiated such a thing.
All the best to you, folks!