Rare 15pp manuscript letter by Jewish-Christian missionary and firebrand, Joseph Wolff [1795-1862]. Known as a missionary to the world, he spoke multiple languages and was welcomed as a friend in Muslim and Hindoo countries.
His father was a Rabbi, but an aged Christian neighbor began speaking to him of a more durable Kingdom and of its beautiful Messiah, Jesus when he was just 7. At age 11 he began seeking out Christian theologians for conversation and converted to Christianity at age 17.
Traveling to England, he became friendly with early premilennialists, Henry Drummond [after whom his son was named], Edward Irving [who would introduce him to his future wife], and Lewis Way, even attending the famous drawing room conferences on prophecy at Albury Park. Through them, Wolff became an agent of the London Society for Promoting Christianity among the Jews.
The current letter certainly draws form the well of the Albury Park premillennialists and the early days of the theological movement where many were fixing dates [including Wolff; his was 1847], tying contemporary events to the Apocalypse, etc. His letter read closely contains very much of that typological / apocalyptic language; conflating Napoleon [a usual antichrist figure in the movement] for current France, etc,.
He set out to find the ten tribes and through that became missionary to the world, preaching the Gospel in Yemen, Afghanistan, India, and much of the Middle East.
The present letter takes place during the Indian Rebellion when missionaries were suspected of being complicit in the Colonial oppression of India and so were taken captive or tortured and killed across the country. This spread to other colonies, including Afghanistan, etc.,
Wolff writes to Rev. Skelton whom he is hoping will advocate with the Bishop of Ripon and others to allow him to go to make peace and deliver the Christian missionaries. But he despairs. England has begun to abandon the Gospel as its core of diplomacy. This is evidenced by its abandonment of Czar Nikolas and other events. For Wolff, this is further demonstrated by the treatment of his close friend. G. A. Denison who was currently under trial for heresy in the Church of England, etc.
The letter is 100% Wolff! Wild, unpredictable, fidgety, passionate and ready to take action! The longest letter by Wolff we have ever handled or seen.
near Weston Super Mare
Sept 7, 1857
My dear Skelton,
Your letter reached me here where both Lady Georgiana and myself have been again these last fourteen days with our beloved friends, Archdeacon & Mrs Denison - for we left them in February 1856 after we had stopt with them 6 months - and as my leave of absence was not over - we went first to stay a few months with Captain Drake R. N. & Mrs. Drake until June 1856, for Mrs. Drake is sister to Mrs Denison and daughter to the Right Honble I. W. Henley, Member of Oxfordshire. But as neight Archd. Denison nor Drake are rich we paid 2L every week our board and lodging. In Juune 1856 we went to Leamington where I was presented with a testimonial consisting of a silver sugar bason [sic.] and silver spoon by the Ladies of Leamington. Imagine Evangelical & Scotch Free Church Ladies! We stayed there 10 months - and in April 1857 Georgiana and I returned to my living at Isle Brewers near Taunton after an absence of one year 8 months. During my absence I had left there a locum tenens who also had turned out to be a very indifferent character!!!!
On our approaching Isle Brewers in April the Parishioners came out to meet us - took out the horse and dragged us into the Parsonage!
And only 12 days ago we came to East Brent on a visit to the persecuted, excellent, and holy G. A. Denison!!!
Next Monday we return to Isle Brewers to which place I hope that you will address your letter to me. Dr. Wolff, Isle Brewers, Taunton, Somerset. You will be aware that I built there a Parsonage and Schoolhouse and am now contemplating to build a Church by Subscription, for the Parish Church is in a state of decay and situated in a place where when it rains one cannot approach it.
I have got already forty pounds towards it and last week Mr. Bennett of Frame was here with whom I became very cordial - he as well as Denison, myself, and Prebendary Neville of Butleigh met down upon the grass in the garden and talked over the State of Christendom, Muhamedanism, & Hindooism and I send to you the enclosed letter for your perusal! He sent me 2L for my Church.
Now to the answer of your dear letter!
Lady Georgiana, God be praised, is quite well. God be thanked! I have got a very disagreeable tumor under my right shoulder, which inconveniences me very much!
The infamous conduct of England against the Emperor Nikolas who is now certainly in heaven has provoked the Wrath of God against England. And the moment a part of Sebastepol was taken I wrote to Lord Grey that this will be the downfall of England and that England will not lose India by invasion, but by internal commotions!
England has assisted the Muhamedans who now rise everywhere against England. England has joined France, or rather allied herself to that crafty Napoleon, who shall soon appear with an Army in Great Brian! And I would that the ministers of Her Majesty would advise Her Majesty not to reside at Osborne nor near any Sea Coast - for on one fine summer's day she may be carried off to France!
The Greatest Philanthropist, the Greatest General not only England, but the World over has seen, the Duke of Wellington and Alexander the Great not excepted, was the late General Charles James Napier, the Great Conqueror of Sindh and that man has been treated in the most infamous manner by the Indian Government! The spirit of Charles Napier, together with that of the Great Czar Nikolas cry like the blood of Abel for vengeance against England!
The British Government in India has also murdered Mayor Darcy Tod in order to protect vile Yar Muhammed Khan of Herat!
The British Government forces the Chinese to get drunk with Opium!
The Church of England has behaved with the vilest ingratitude towards the Eastern Churches!
The Eastern Churches assisted the Protest. Missionaries in establishing schools, in translating the Scriptures - and gave the most cordial hospitality to Prot. Missionaries - and how they belie them and declare the Eastern Churches to be more degraded than the wild Savages of Africa!
You say that irreligion and vice exists among the lower orders - what is Lord Lord Palmerstone? As great an infidel as ever breathed! The greatest infidels are the Diplomatists. They of late began to protect Missionaries in some degree entirely from political motives. However, you say, "No where can they be found who will come forward to say 'Here am I send me!!' I have already offered myself to go to Delhi, Agra, Cawnpore, Cashmere, and Afghanistan in order to look out for some English Prisoners and redeem them. I am respected ever where by Muhamedans as well as by Sikhs and Hindoos as the Christian Dowish Joseph Wolff! And pray make it known among all your friends that tho 62 years of age I am ready to go forth in order to look out not for the dispersed children of Israel, but for the dispersed children of Albion!
Write to the Warden of Canterbury that I am ready to go!
Colonial Bishops ought never come back to England. They ought to stay where they are and trust upon providence!
The Church of England commits one absurdity after another. There she consecrates a Bishop calling hi a "Bishop of the United Kingdoms of England and Ireland in Jerusalem. And the Colonial Bishops ought to have the title: Right Revd Bishop of Ruperts Land in Exeter Hall Strand!
However, if you like I will come & Preach for Bishop Gray.
I saw Dr. Hook at Leamington. His sister, Miss Hook, is a precious woman!
I don't recollect Bell & Roth well. My son is still in the Foreign Office. He has a wife born in Italy and I am sorry to say of Italian habits! He has a son and a daughter.
Pray make it generally known that I am ready to go to India - I know very little the present Bishop of Ripon.
Revd Dr. wolff