George Eliot writes sensitively and movingly of the early manifestation of Methodism. She wrote Adam Bede around 1850 but set the story some fifty years earlier, and she gives an insight into its development during that half-century (apparently not a particularly positive one). It’s interesting and one of her strongest protagonists is a female Methodist preacher.
I liked the image of an unpretentious ‘amphitheatre of green hills’ with rough men and weary-hearted women gathering beneath broad-leaved sycamores to hear a simple, reassuring message.
‘That after-glow has long faded away; and the picture we are apt to make of Methodism in our imagination is not an amphitheatre of green hills, or the deep shade of broad-leaved sycamores, where a crowd of rough men and weary-hearted women drank in a faith which was a rudimentary culture…’
Source: George Eliot, Adam Bede (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1985 (1859)), p. 81