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Notice is hereby given, that if any man be mindful to enlist in
Majesty's service, under the command of the Rev. Mr. George White,
Commander-in-Chief, and John Bannister, Lieut.-General of his
Majesty's forces for the defence of the Church of England, and the
support of the manufactory in and about Colne, both which are now in
danger, let him repair to the drum-head at the Cross, where each man
shall receive a pint of ale in advance, and all other proper encouragements.
This notice, which was published at the height of the agitation
which beset the forest of Pendle in the summer of 1748, conjures
images beloved of the Methodist hagiographer. Assuming quasi-military titles,
squire and parson rally a drink-sodden mob to do battle
against the preachers of the Gospel, and all in the name of religion and
commerce. Historians, however, are required to take a more dispassionate
view of the motives and actions of those who, through violence or polemic,
attempted to arrest the growth of the Evangelical Revival, a movement
which was to prove one of the most influential religious and cultural
movements in the history of the British Isles. John Walsh's pioneering
essay on ‘Methodism and the mob’ was one of the first serious
to treat anti-Methodist agitation sympathetically, and to place it in the
much broader context of the norms of popular protest in the eighteenth
century. However, detailed academic studies of anti-Methodist protests
remain scarce, and the strong correlation between these and other
examples of popular hostility towards other deviant religious groups, such
as Catholics, Nonconformists and Jews, remains understated.
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