Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/352

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PRIMERO—PRIMITIVE METHODIST CHURCH, THE


PRIMERO (Span. first), a card game of Spanish origin, which Strutt calls " the oldest game of cards played in England.” It is described as having a close resemblance to Ombre (q.v.), by which it had been superseded. In both games the spadillo or ace of spades was the best card, but Primero was played with six cards and Ombre with nine. The exact method of play is uncertain.


PRIME VERTICAL, in astronomy, the vertical circle passing east and west through the zenith, and intersecting the horizon in its east and west points (see Astronomy).


PRIMITIVE METHODIST CHURCH, THE, a Community of nonconformists, which owes its origin to the fact that Methodism as founded by the Wesleys tended, after the first generation, to depart from the enthusiasm that had marked its inception and to settle down to the task of self-organization. There were, however, some ardent spirits who continued to work along the old lines and whose watchword was revivalism, and out of their efforts came the Bible Christian, the Independent Methodist and the Primitive Methodist denominations. These enthusiastic evangelists esteemed zeal a higher virtue than discipline and decorum, and put small emphasis on church systems as compared with conversions. One of the men to whom Primitive Methodism owes its existence was Hugh Bourne (1772-1852), a millwright of Stoke-upon-Trent. He joined a Methodist society at Burslem, but business taking him at the close of 1800 to the colliery district of Harrisehead and Kidsgrove, he was so impressed by the prevailing ignorance and debasement that he began a religious revival of the district. His open-air preaching was accompanied by prayer and singing, a departure from Wesley's practice and the forerunner of the well-known “Camp Meeting.” A chapel was built at Harrisehead, and a second revival occurred in-Septernber 1804, largely the result of a meeting held at Congleton by some enthusiasts from Southport. One of the after-fruits of this revival was the conversion (Jan. 1805) of the joint founder of Primitive Methodism, William Clowes (1780-1851), a native of Burslem, who had come to Tunstall. Clowes was a man of fine appearance and open disposition, with a compelling personality that found expression in a steady glance and a thrilling voice. He was a potter by trade, and had a national reputation as a dancer.. He joined a Methodist class, threw his house open for love-feasts and prayer-meetings, and did a great deal of itinerant evangelization among the cottages of the countryside. Lorenzo Dow (1777-1834), an eccentric American Methodist revivalist, visited North Staffordshire and spoke of the camp meetings held in America., with the result that on the 31st of May 1807 the first real English gathering of the kind was held on Mow Cop, since regarded as the Mecca of Primitive Methodism. It lasted from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Bourne and his friends determined to continue the experiment as a counterblast to the parish wakes of the time, which were little better than local saturnalia. Opposition from a master potter of the district, who threatened to put the Conventicle Act in force, was overcome, but more serious difficulties were presented by the antagonism of the Wesleyan Methodist circuit authorities. But Bourne and his friends persisted against both Conference and the local superintendent, who issued bills declaring that no camp-meeting would be held at Norton in August 1807. The meeting was held and ten months later Bourne was expelled by the Burslem Quarterly Meeting, ostensibly for non-attendance at class (he had been away from home, evangelizing), really, as the Wesleyan superintendent told him “because you have a tendency to set up other than the ordinary worship” which was precisely the reason why, fifty years earlier, the Anglican Church had declined to sanction the methods of John Wesley. The camp-meetings went steadily on, and their influence is reflected in the writings of George Eliot, George Borrow and William Howitt. The societies which Bourne formed were for a time allowed to go under (Wesleyan) Methodist protection, but the crisis came in 1810, when the Stanley class of ten members declined to wash their hands of the Camp-Meeting Methodists, and so were refused admission. About this time, too (1809), Bourne appointed James Crawfoot, a Wesleyan local preacher who had been removed from the list for assisting the Independent Methodists, as a travelling preacher at 10s. a week, instructing him to give his whole time to evangelization and to get his converts to join the denominations to which they were most inclined. Clowes, who, in spite of his revivalist sympathies, was more attached to Methodism than Bourne, was cut off from his church for taking part in camp-meetings at Ramsor in 1808 and 1810. His personality drew a number of strong men after him, and a society meeting held in a kitchen and then in a warehouse became the nucleus of a circuit, a chapel being built at Tunstall in July 1811, two months after the fusion of the Bourne and Clowes forces. Clowes, like Crawfoot, was set apart as a preacher to “live by the gospel, ” and in February 1812 the name “ Primitive Methodist” was formally adopted, although for nearly a generation the name “Clowesites” survived in local use.

The first distinct period in the history of Primitive Methodism proper is 1811-1843. It was a time of rapid expansion, marked by great missionary fervour, and may be called the Circuit Period, for even after the circuits were grouped into districts in 1821 they did not lose their privilege of missionary initiative. The line of geographical progress first followed the valley of the Trent. The original circuit at Tunstall no sooner felt its feet than it favoured consolidation rather than extension. But irrepressible like John Benton broke through the “non-mission law,” and pressed forward through the “Adam Bede” country to Derby (which became the 2nd circuit in 1816); Nottingham, where a great camp-meeting on Whit Sunday 1816 was attended by 12,000 people; Leicestershire, where Loughborough became the 3rd circuit, with extensions into Rutland, Lincolnshire and Norfolk; and ultimately to Hull, which became the 4th circuit, and where a meeting which deserves to be called the First Conference was held in June 1819. The Hull circuit during the next five years, through its Yorkshire, Western, North-Western and Northern Missions, carried on a vigorous campaign with great success, especially among the then semi-savage colliers of Durham and Northumberland. During the five years I8IQ~1824 there had been made from Hull 17 circuits with a membership of 7600, and Hull itself had 3700 more. Simultaneously with this work in the north, Tunstall circuit, having thrown off its lethargy at the Wrine Hill camp-meeting on the 2 3rd of May 1819, was carrying on an aggressive evangelism. In the Black Country, Darlaston circuit was formed in 1820, and John Wedgewo0d's Cheshire Mission, begun in 1819, led to work in Liverpool on the one hand and in Salop on the other. From Macclesfield a descent was made on Manchester; from Oakengates in South Shropshire came extensions to Herefordshire, Glamorganshire and Wiltshire, where the famous Brinkworth circuit was established. The succeeding years, however, 1825-1828, showed a serious set-back, due to the lack of discipline. But drastic measures were taken, and in one year thirty preachers were struck off the list. T henceforward, while the Oxford Movement was awakening one section of the people of England the Primitive Methodists were making themselves felt among other classes of the population. John Oxtoby, who evangelized Filey and became known as “Praying Johnny,”