By , A Suffolk Cottager;
with a short
Narrative of Her Life.
printed and sold by John Raw;
Also, sold byT. Hurst, Paternoster Row, London. 18031803.
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Memoirs of the life of Ann Candler.
Ann Candler, the author of the following Poems, is in the plainest and humblest sense of the word, a Cottager: she has never had a higher station, or, in this world, a higher aim; but, if virtuous principles, pure and modest manners, a deep sense of religion, and steady unaffected Christian faith, are the best guides to a happy immortality, she will not be the least or lowest in the mansions of the blessed.
The events of her life are, as may well be expected, few and uninteresting, except to those who, making the human heart their study in all its various situations, account it not lost time to read The short and simple annals of the poor.
For the following circumstances the Editor is indebted to an amiable Lady, who has, for several years, been a benevolent friend and kind patroness to the author.B 2 B1v 2
The father of Ann Candler was William More, of Yoxford, in the county of Suffolk, working glover; her mother was the daughter of Thomas Holder, formerly of Woodbridge, surveyor of the window lights for that part of the county. The father of our author falling into reduced circumstances when he was between forty and fifty, her mother not being able to support the idea of remaining in the village unless she could live in the way she had been accustomed to which, though far removed from affluence, was just decent, and respectable, prevailed on her husband to leave the place, and settle at Ipswich. She did not long survive her misfortunes, but departed this life in the fifty-fourth year of her age, leaving our author, at that time about eleven years old, to the care of her father, with whom she continued till she married, which was in the twenty-second year of her age. She early evinced a fondness for reading, and though without a guide or instructor in the paths of literature, she frequently found acquaintances who could furnish her with books to her taste, which was chiefly for those of the amusing kind, such as travels, plays, romances, &c. As she was very desirous of learning to write, her father frequently offered to pay for her instruction, which she always declined, probably from the idea that it would be too great a tax upon his slender finances; she however made some humble attempts with chalk, and, at length, used pen and ink. By often observing her father 3 B2r 3 when he wrote, she imitated him so well that she began to write legibly.
It is very remarkable that she had a great dislike to poetry, and could scarcely prevail on herself to read any, yet frequently found an inclination to write in verse. Her first attempt of this kind was addressed to her patron, the Rev. Dr. ――, merely as an effusion of honest gratitude, and nothing could equal her surprize on finding that it was made the subject of public notice and admiration.
From the above account it is evident that her Poems are more the spontaneous productions of genius than the work of memory or education: but the reader will be enabled to form a better idea of the genuine simplicity of her life and manners, from the following letter, addressed to two Ladies, whose benevolence she had frequently experienced, and through whose patronage and interest the subscription for publishing her Poems was begun, and prosperously continued.To Mrs. and Miss―― Tattingstone Workhouse, 1801-04-13Sunday Evening, April 13, 1801. Dear honored Ladies, I will begin my letter by obeying your commands, and answering the questions you are pleased to propose.—I am now in the sixty-first year B2 4 B2v 4 of my age, having been born the 1740-11-1818th of November, 1740. I have had nine children, five sons and four daughters, three of the boys died infants, how it has pleased God to dispose of two of the remaining six I know not, as I have not heard of my eldest son and daughter for many years. One of my daughters is married, I fear but indifferently, and is settled in London: my youngest son also lives in that city as a servant; he went to sea some time ago with a naval officer, but, not liking his situation, returned to London, and was in place when I last heard from his sister. My daughter Lucy is married, and lives at Copdock in this county, and is, I believe, in the true sense of the words, the contented happy Cottager! her husband is a very sober industrious man. My youngest daughter Clara lives, in service, with Mr. John Cook, of Holton Hall, near Stratford, and blessed be God, has hitherto preserved an unblemished character. Thus of nine children two remain near me, to afford me substantial happiness and satisfaction as a parent; but my uncertainty about the others, and solicitude for their welfare, are too often painful in the extreme. It was seven years, last month, since I saw or heard from my husband; but conclude he is, if living, in the army, as he was ever fond of a military life. We had not been married above a year when he enlisted with a recruiting party of the Guards at Ipswich. A friend immediately 5 B3r 5 came to Sproughton, where we then lived, and informed me of it. Though far advanced in my pregnancy I hastened to the town, and, after an infinite deal of trouble, much expence, and the inconvenience of being detained one night from home, I had, at last, the satisfaction of bringing my young warrior back again. The next day my friend sent me word, that the serjeant of the party declared he would not leave the town without him; this threat alarmed me greatly, and regardless of fatigue, I went to Ipswich directly. My friend advised me, as the safest method I could adopt, to let my husband enter into the Militia, as they were at that time disembodied. I went home and consulted his father and mother, (for he was born at Sproughton) they approved of the plan, and, in a day or two, my old friend secured him a situation, with which I had great reason to be satisfied, for, on the Sunday following some of the party came to the public house in the village, enquiring for him; but being informed that he was in the Militia, they seemed greatly disappointed: I heard not of it till the next day, but even then I trembled. My remedy you will doubtless say was a desperate one:—true, Madam, it was so, and so was the occasion; fortunately the circumstance was not attended with any bad consequence, for he only made his appearance twenty-eight days every summer, during the three years; so that affair ended without much trouble.— 6 B3v 6 After the birth of my fourth child I received a small legacy bequeathed to me by a maiden aunt, which afforded me great relief, and gave me an opportunity of furnishing my family with such articles as were absolutely necessary, and had long been wanting, for my husband was ever much addicted to drinking. Four or five years after this my ever honoured friend and benefactor, the Rev. Dr. J—n came to reside in Sproughton: at Christmas time he was pleased to distribute very liberal gifts to the poor; the generosity of the action struck me very much, and I ventured to address a few lines to him, returning thanks in a manner quite unexpected by the worthy Gentleman. The next day I heard a rap at my door; I opened it,—but my surprise and terror were indescribable on the appearance of Dr. J—n, for I dreaded a severe reprimand for my presumption. My confusion was too great to escape his observation, and the natural goodness of his heart induced him to dispel my fears, by addressing me with the greatest affability and condescension. He was pleased to take a seat, and conversed with me a considerable time. From this hour, the most fortunate of my life, I may date every act of kindness I have since experienced, for he was pleased to recommend me to his friends, and shewed them some of my writings, which, but for his endavours to bring them into notice, would certainly have been buried in oblivion, as I wrote 7 B4r 7 them merely for my own amusement. Death only can efface him from my remembrance, or cancel the obligations I am under to that best of men! Think what were my sorrows when this dear and valuable friend left the village, and I was at once deprived of his assistance, and also of his conversation, which was always affable and kind! According to the old adage that one misfortune seldom comes alone, I found another in reserve for me, which I did not expect. A younger brother of my husband, who had been enlisted in the Guards about four years, came down to see his friends. I know not how it was, but the moment I heard that he was come, a sudden tremor seized my whole frame, and tears trickled down my cheeks. This was on the Saturday; on the Sunday he came, by my husband’s invitation, to dinner, after which they walked out together, and I did not see my husband till Monday night, when he told me that his brother was gone. He seemed very thoughtful and gloomy: on the Tuesday morning he went to work, and I neither saw or heard any thing more of him till the Friday, when, by mere accident, I heard that he had enlisted with a party of the Guards then at Colchester. A neighbour offered his services to ride over to that town, and enquire into the truth of the report, and a farmer in the village kindly lent a horse for the occasion. What were my feelings, what was my 8 B4v 8 agony of mind during the man’s absence. I wished, yet dreaded his return. At length the awful moment came; the man had found him, and seen the cockade in his hat.–I had now six children, the eldest about fourteen, the youngest a year and half old. Good God! how did every body exclaim against him! as for me I seemed for some time in a state of stupefaction, I could not shed a tear. What a night did I pass! In the morning old Mr. W—, at the Hall, came to me, and addressed me in these very words: So, your husband is listed for a soldier; well, let him go, for he was always a rascal to you. I thought at the instant, that, if I had Mr. W—’s whole fortune, I would freely give it for his discharge, but I dared not tell him so. The report of my misfortunes brought several friends to me, and I was advised to place four of my children in this house, Tattingstone House of Industry. and kept the eldest, and the youngest with me at home; this advice I followed, but I have since repented that I did not come in with them all. That worthy man, the late I. C—n, esq. and my ever lamented friend, dear Miss F—n, agreed to pay my rent for me: thus I lived for two years, by industry and the frequent donations of kind friends protected from want. I should be guilty of the highest ingratitude were I not to remember, with veneration and respect, the late M–e R-ss-ll, esq. who almost entirely9 C1r 9 tirely supported me, and the two children, during an illness of eleven weeks, which afflicted me in consequence of the perturbation of mind I had laboured under upon my husband’s departure. During these two years I got my eldest girl out to service, and took my next daughter Catharine home: but now an event occurred which deprived me of every comfort, and gave me reason to reproach myself with imprudence and indescretion. My husband obtained leave of absence, and came down to Sproughton to see me. An unfortunate visit it proved to me and the children. During his stay he incessantly importuned me to go to London, and flattered me how well we should live there, as he could throw up his pay and go to work, and how easily he could fetch the children and place them out. For some days I both chid him and absolutely rejected the proposal; but before three weeks were ended, he brought me to a compliance with his request: this was the latter end of February, and I agreed to be in town by the beginning of April. No sooner were my friends apprized of my intention, than they endeavoured to oppose it, by every argument they could employ against the absurd scheme, as some of them too justly termed it. Alas! I erred, with my eyes open. I sent the best of my goods, which were very decent, by one of the Ipswich hoys, and with my little Clara, went to town by land. As my husband knew of my going he met me, but seemed ratherC 10 C1v 10 ther cool and indifferent. This reception gave me an inexpressible shock, and to add to my mortification, I had not been two hours with him before he demanded some money. I was speechless; my foolish credulity now appeared in its true colours; he had to go upon guard that very night, and I was left with my child: the state of my mind may more easily be conceived than described! In a few days my goods came, and I was settled, as well as my own reflections, and my husband’s behaviour would permit me: for I soon found that his propensity to drinking was as great as ever. On the second day of June, the dreadful riots in London broke out, and he was obliged to leave his work and return to his arms. For seven days and nights I could not learn whether he were living or dead; and when the riots were quelled, the Guards were all encamped in St. James’ Park: thus was I at once deprived of all assistance from him, and exposed to the horrors of extreme poverty in the midst of strangers. I omit many unpleasant circumstances, for why should I distress you by a recital of my sufferings, when I am conscious that they were occasioned by my own reprehensible weakness? All I can urge to extenuate, or palliate my folly is, that he was my husband, and the father of my children, and that my affection for him was unbounded; and so at this time were my sorrows; and, to add to their weight, I found myself in a situation that in a few months would involve me in 11 C2r 11 new difficulties. I think it was in the month of August that the camp broke up, and my husband returned home; but he treated me in a very unbecoming manner; his language and behaviour were intolerable! I now began seriously to consider whether I ought not to leave him, and return home: She means to Sproughton. fear, and shame, alternately took possession of my heart; I had no house to go to, nor could I expect any further assistance from those who had formerly been my friends. While I continued in this painful state of suspense an incident happened which determined me at once. An uncle of my husband’s, who was mate of an Ipswich vessel, called to see me; I informed him of the state of our affairs, and he, being no stranger to his nephew’s manners and morals, urged me to return to Suffolk; offering to convey me, the child, and what furniture I had, in his vessel, free of expence: I thankfully accepted the offer, and began to prepare for my voyage, When my husband found that I was in earnest he seemed almost frantic; but his uncle severely reprimanded him for his conduct towards me; and, after much altercation, I was allowed to dispose of most part of my goods, as, from having been used in London, they were not fit to bring into the country. My husband went with me to the vessel, and wept most bitterly at parting; I was sensibly affected, but had suffered too severely to 12 C2v 12 waver in my resolution. I was almost distracted about my poor children, for whom he never would entertain a thought; but if I attempted to propose any thing for their welfare, was accustomed to fly in a passion: I was therefore obliged to confine my anxiety on their account to my own bosom. We had a pleasant passage, and my uncle set me ashore about a mile from Ipswich: I walked over Stoke-Hills; but when I came within sight of the Chauntry, At Sproughton; then the residence of M. Russell, Esq. now of C.S. Collinson, Esq. good God! what were my sensations and emotions! I seated the little Clara on a bank, and placing myself near her surveyed the prospect with unutterable anguish: a torrent of repentant, but unavailing tears succeeded: I believe it was near an hour before I recovered strength and spirits to pursue my walk. I went to Sproughton, where I staid a few days, but suffered myself to be seen as little as possible; and then, without applying to any one person, came as privately as I could into this house. It is necessary to inform you, my dear ladies, that, before I went to London, my beloved friend Miss F—n had commanded me to write to her frequently. In obedience to her order I had, from time to time, given her a faithful, thought unpleasant account of my situation, and had also written to her my determination of returning into the country again. After I had 13 C3r 13 been in the house about a month, I wrote to inform her where I was; and, to my infinite surprize, in two or three days had the delight of seeing her! She requested of the governess that I might be permitted to walk with her in the garden; and soon perceiving my situation, lamented this additional misfortune, and gave me the kindest assurances of the continuation of her friendship. Not many days after she sent her servant with a letter, and a guinea enclosed from my kind friend and benefactor J. C—n, Esq. this was some time in October. On the 20th day of March following, about four o’clock in the morning, I was delivered of a son, and about seven of another son. For some days I was in imminent danger, but the goodness of God preserved me, and sent me unsolicited assistance. No sooner did that dear lady Miss F— hear of my situation than she sent me an ample supply of whatever she thought might be most useful and acceptable to me. I had likewise some kind presents from other friends: thus did the Almighty provide for me, in this extremity, beyond my expectations, and, I frankly acknowledge, far beyond my deserts! I had now seven children in the house, but it pleased God to take one of the twins at fourteen weeks old, and the other in one short month after. When I had been in the house three years, my husband obtained his discharge and came to see me: he proposed taking me out of the house; but this I would 14 C3v 14 by no means consent to, till we should have procured sufficient to furnish one room at least. In a few months, with a little money which he had earned, and some that I had saved, together with a few goods still remaining at Sproughton, I began to think that we might put our plan in execution; I accordingly agreed to go to his lodging till we should be able to procure and fit up a cottage. He received me with delight, and seemed quite happy: but short lived was the pleasure to either of us; for, that very day, he was seized with a shivering fit, which was followed by a fever of the most alarming kind: suffice it to say that I staid with him for seven weeks; during which time the Rev. Mr. G— procured us an allowance from the house; but, as he still continued extremely bad, and my own money was nearly expended, I having the youngest child with me, I was advised to go with him into the house; this was in fact the only step I could take, and here all my prospects of comfort ended. For several weeks my husband’s recovery was doubtful; a more pitiable object was never seen! it was better than half a year before he was able to go to his work again; he then went to seek employment at Sproughton, where, meeting with his old companions, he fell into his accustomed vice of drunkenness, to a greater degree than ever, and became so utterly degraded in appearance, manners, and morals, as determined me to renounce the idea of ever living with him again. 15 C4r 15 Thus, honored ladies, I have given you an account of an unhappy marriage for nearly forty years. I have now been upwards of twenty years secluded from the world, and have performed a severe penance for my indiscretion in leaving my comfortable cottage, and kind friends at Sproughton. You find, my dear ladies, that I have not endeavoured to exculpate myself, or to justify my proceedings: no, I stand selfconvicted, self-condemned; all I can allege in my own behalf is, that I have not committed any faults of a criminal nature, and I believe I may say, without the imputation of vanity, that my conduct, during my residence in this house, has been irreproachable. I hope you will be pleased to make allowance for my many errors and bad writing; but I have been obliged to write the greater part by candle-light, as I have very little leisure by day, and the painful recollection of past scenes affected me so much in the recital, that I scarcely knew what I wrote; and as difficult a task awaits me still, that is, my dear ladies, to find words that would express my sentiments in a manner that might convince you how perfectly sensible I am of your unlimitted goodness to me, in endeavouring to render the situation I am in as comfortable as possible. What have I to give in return? Alas! only a repetition of thanks, and the feelings of a heart almost breaking with a ponderous weight of grateful sensations! to a power superior to what is mutable I must 16 C4v 16 leave the cause in hand, well assured your reward will be such as is promised, Come, ye blessed, inherit “the kingdom prepared for you! You will be surprized at the prolixity I am guilty of: it has by far exceeded my intention; but one circumstance was so connected with another, and one word naturally introduced others, that I could not well avoid it: I was likewise desirous to be as explicit as possible, for the satisfaction of those among your friends, who had honored me with their enquiries. I am, Ladies, with sincere gratitude, your obliged servant, Ann Candler.
At the time of the writing of the above, Mrs. Candler had not a hope of being enabled to remove out of the house of industry; but, about eight or nine months after, several of her Poems having been read and approved, in polite and literary circles, it was suggested, by the ladies to whom her letter was addressed, that, if she could publish a small volume by subscription, 17 D1r 17 she might raise a sum sufficient to furnish a room, and place herself, in a state of comparative happiness, near her married daughter, where she might spend the evening of her days in peace, supported by her own industry, and occasionally assisted by those friends who know, and respect, her unobtrusive good qualities. Part of this plan is already put in execution. Her friends have procured and furnished a lodging for her at Copdock, where her daughter lives, and not far from her favourite village of Sproughton, and this little volume is published under the patronage of a most respectable list of Subscribers.
The Mother’s Feelings on the Loss of Her Child.
O, gracious God! I ask’d a son;–
A son to me was giv’n:
Before six moons their course had run
The gift return’d to heav’n.
Whose happiness could equal mine
Blest with my lovely boy?
Thus gifted, did I once repine
At all the great enjoy?
The smiling cherub I beheld
With rapture and delight,
Hope’s dawning beam my bosom fill’d,
With fairy visions bright.
Too soon that gayly rising sun
Was wrapt in midnight’s gloom:
In sixteen weeks his race was run,
Its goal the dreary tomb!
Death, pallid king, with silent pace,
Stole softly to my bed,
He clasp’d my babe in chill embrace,
And with his victim fled.
Fatigu’d with watching, lull’d in night,
Thy mother slumb’ring lay;
Thy soul, dear infant! wing’d its flight
Where angels led the way.
Where circling seraphim rejoice
In great Jehovah’s praise;
My blessed boy unites his voice
In loud and rapt’rous lays.
Oh, happy babe! thrice happy boy!
What pleasures now are thine!
Since monarchs, to partake the joy,
Would freely crowns resign.
Cease, foolish mother! cease to grieve,
And blush to shed a tear;
Endeavour such a life to live
As thou may’st meet him there.
Oh, gracious God! bow down thine ear,
And grant me my request:
Oh, heav’nly Father! hear my pray’r;
Let me with him be blest.
Then shall I, with redoubled joy,
My Maker’s name adore:
Then shall I meet my infant boy,
And meet to part no more.
To a Benevolent Gentleman, on his Being hurt by a Fall from his Horse.
Accept the tribute of my rustic lays:
A song that boasts no merit, claims no praise.
The flowing numbers are not mine to chuse,
Nor dares a peasant supplicate the muse.
The tuneful sisters would, I fear, disdain
To grace the lowliest cottage on the plain.
But can the soul humane refuse to share
A tender feeling for the ills you bear.
When, rudely hurl’d to earth, you senseless lay,
And death strode ghastly on to snatch his prey,
What heart but felt a sickning fear prevail?
The village echo’d with the mournful tale.23 D4r 23
The peasants press’d around their aid to lend,
And ey’d, with anxious gaze, the poor man’s friend;
The patron who their daily want had fed
Now, pale and faint, supported to his bed.
The news too swiftly to my cottage flew,
Who now, my babes, said I, will cherish you?
Who, like a father, aid your wretched state?
Such goodness sure deserv’d a milder fate!
Be hush’d the thought—for shall a tongue like mine,
At heav’n’s decrees dare, impious, to repine.
I yield.—Thy chastisements, O God! are good;
Teach me to meet thy will with fortitude.
The Man of Uz, whose ways were just and pure,
What scourges did he feel, what ills endure.
At once depriv’d of health, of substance too,
While death’s barb’d arrows round him, dreadful, flew,
Resign’d he sate, nor would reproach his God;
But calmly yielded to the chastening rod:
The saint reviv’d and found the God he sought:
His erring friends, by his example taught,
Desir’d that knowledge they had dar’d despise,
And offer’d, though his pray’rs, their sacrifice.
His bounteous God the cup of blessing pour’d,
His wealth augmented and his joys restor’d,24 D4v 24
Chac’d ev’ry cloud, till noon day’s splendor bright
Beam’d from his setting sun with more effulgent light.
Thus may thy health diffuse a chearful ray,
And add new pleasure to thy lengthen’d day;
May watchful angels round thy couch attend,
And heav’n restore our patron, guide, and friend.
On the Death of a Young Lady.
Thrice happy Maid! the awful scene is o’er;
And transitory ills are now no more:
To realms of bliss thy gentle spirit flies,
The cumbrous clay in peaceful slumber lies.
No more, sweet Maid! wilt thou have cause to weep,
Nor grief with thee her midnight vigils keep.
By sickness worn, bow’d early to the tomb,
A fading flow’ret, wither’d in its bloom.
When death beheld thee youthful, fair, and good,
Then half disarm’d irresolute he stood,
With seeming pity oft thy form survey’d,
No sudden change, no rapid strides he made;
Solemn and slow, protracted long the hour,
And long restrain’d his all subduing pow’r;
The stroke decisive, ling’ring, he deferr’d,
Yet ever found thee watching and prepar’d.
Myriads of bright immortals round thee wait,
And watch the moment that decides thy fate:
Behold, ’tis past:—thy tears are wip’d away:—
The gloom of night produces endless day.E 26 E1v 26
The task perform’d, the glorious prize is won,
The heav’nly host appears and guides thee on,
Presents thee spotless at the throne of grace,
Where thou behold’st thy maker face to face.
Thy shining robes in graceful order flow,
A never fading crown adorns thy brow;
Millions of winged seraphs gather round:
Their golden harps thro’ heav’n’s wide portals sound,
While songs of thanks and praise united join:
O, bliss supreme!—their happy state is thine.
Thy well spent life, thy truth and innocence,
Faith bids us hope, has gain’d its recompence.
Instructed early on thy God to wait,
Adore his name, his wisdom venerate;
To gain instruction from the moral page,
And shun the follies of the present age;
With care avoid whate’er might taint the mind,
Corrupt the heart and leave a sting behind;
Inform’d where hidden danger lurking lay,
And how with safety to pursue thy way;
With guide marks set, that pointed out the road,
Life’s mazy path securely hast thou trod:
Thy growing virtues mark’d thy years increase,
And crown’d thy days with happiness and peace:
Serene thou saw’st this hour approaching nigh,
Instructed how to live, and how to die.
Julia’s Bridal Day, an eclogue, Addressed to a Young Lady on her Marriage.
Bright was the day, and warm the noon tide beam, The three firſt stanzas of this Poem were ſupplied by a Friend of the Author.
When wand’ring, to divert a leisure hour,
A village maid, who loiter’d near the stream,
Met her fair friend beneath an alder bow’r.
There, on the verdant turf at ease reclin’d,
They heard the soft’ned peal pass sweeping bye,
Borne on the bosom of the summer wind,
With many a mingled note of rural joy.
The sprightly viol sounding in the shade,
Responsive footsteps, shouts of loud applause,
And mirth re-echo’d from the lowland glade:
When thus the village maid enquir’d the cause.
What pleasing sounds are these I hear?
What joy those strains impart!
They breath enchantment o’er my ear,
And rapture o’er my heart.
When sounds like these such news repeat,
Such blest events proclaim,
Each breast, like thine, with joy must beat
And hail the voice of fame.
What fav’rite has the goddess found
To share her pageant car,
That airy regions echo round
And answer from afar?
Not envy sure can make you blind
To praise which merit warms:
What imperfection can you find
In Julia’s matchless charms?
Julia! that name I must revere:
But say, what honour new?
Or why did fame so long defer
To pay the tribute due?
Hold, Laura; fame did, long ago,
Her matchless worth proclaim;
A blest occasion offers now
To speak her praise again.
Say what can fortune offer more?
What greater bliss prepare?
Wit, sense, and beauty, wealth and pow’r,
Already crown the fair.
Kind heav’n, indulgent, now prepares
Her goodness to repay,
And fame, in these glad sounds, declares,
’Tis Julia’s Bridal Day.
Say, is the youth who claims her care
Of known approved worth?
His merits equal to the fair,
Her equal too in birth?
A youth in whose descent we trace
High honor’s just renown,
The offspring of an ancient race,
His worth their glory’s crown.
Long may they live in blessed ease,
Untemper’d with alloy,
And tread the flow’ry paths of peace
With never ceasing joy.
Receive, kind Heav’n, my ardent pray’rs,
May they unrivall’d prove!
May each domestic bliss be theirs,
The fruits of peace and love!
Each rising morn that wish renew,
Each heart repeat the same,
And speak the praises justly due
To Julia’s dear lov’d name.
Serious Reflections on the Times.
Written during the late war.
Can Man, who was expressly said to be
When first created, like the deity,
Can man, God’s noblest work, with temper cold
This awful period undisturb’d behold?
In diff’rent and unfeeling calmly read
The various conflicts and the havoc made,
Year after year? Recount the thousands o’er
Who by the chance of war are now no more?
Peruse the fatal record, unconcern’d
Of slaughter’d chief to mould’ring ashes turn’d;
Some born to honors, and of noble birth,
Now mingl’d in the common mass of earth?
A solemn truth! O, pause one moment here;
Indulge reflection, and then shed a tear.
Oh, God! in pity to the human race,
Who thus, misguided, do thy works deface,
Look down with mercy on those wretched states
Where thousands perish in their fierce debates;32 E4v 32
Where scenes of horror are display’d around,
And scatter’d ruins hide the blood stain’d ground.
The towns demolish’d, and their trade supprest;
The wealthy plunder’d, and the poor distrest!
Depriv’d of food, unshelter’d from the storm,
O’erwhelm’d with anguish and expos’d to harm,
The aged peasant quits his burning shed,
Yet knows not where to hide his hoary head.
The fruitful vineyard, once the owner’s pride,
By rude invaders wasted and destroy’d;
No more the vintage feast regales the eye;
No more is heard the pleasing song of joy.
The fertile fields the wide extended plain,
Are smear’d with gore, and cover’d o’er with slain.
The prince, and prelate, frantic with despair,
Prepare to fly:—Alas! they know not where:—
Yet fly they must, or perish by their stay,
And with reluctant haste pursue their way;
Compare their former with their present state,
And mourn, regretful mourn, their changing fate.
Intruding thought augments the dreary gloom;
And fancy points to dreadful scenes at home!
Their stately mansions, ransack’d and defac’d;
Their rich domains laid desolate and waste;
The statues, paintings, and each valued bust,
Convey’d away, or levell’d with the dust:
What art, or nature, had profusely done,
All that was great or pleasing, lost or gone!33 F1r 33
The festive board, which peace and plenty crown’d
Sinks with the noble pile and strews the ground!
Can man, with reason and with knowledge blest
In these destructive methods still persist,
Ideal schemes, and conquests, still devise,
And blood, and treasure, rashly sacrifice?
Oh! Gracious God! Vouchsafe to hear my pray’r;
Suspend thy judgments, and the people spare:
Oh! heal our wounds, our putrifying sores; Iſaiah, C.I. v. 6.
And reconcile the fierce contending pow’rs;
Assuage their wrath, their haughty pride abate
Subdue their ranc’rous and invet’rate hate;
May curst ambition and contention cease,
Nor private motives blast our hopes of peace.
Thrice blest be those who, with unshaken zeal,
Will firmly stand and plead the public weal,
With candor take a comprehensive view,
And reprobate the conduct some pursue;
Seek to avert the evils as they rise,
And selfish projects censure and despise;
Lament the hardships that attend the poor,
And strive to soothe the ills they must endure!
May speculators, and oppressors, find
The painful workings of a guilty mind,
With shame review their vile nefarious arts,
Till conscience wound and humanize their hearts.
To a Young Man, Professing Himself An Enemy to Love and Marriage.
No more, proud youth! indiff’rence boast;
One fatal moment,—and ’tis lost,
The heart, from nature’s impulse, loves,
And heav’n itself the flame approves:
Then how can you expect to be
Secure from cupid’s tyranny?
The wanton god prepares his darts,
With sportive aim, to wound our hearts:
He stoops to none, but conquers all,
And smiles to see his victims fall:
Yet thousands hug their tyrant’s chains,
While he in boundless triumph reigns.
Mischievous urchin! who inspires,
Then lords it o’er our fond desires.
Our looks and sighs our thoughts disclose;
For love no other language knows:
In vain the hypocrite we play;
Our eyes the fatal truth betray,35 F2r 35
Our ardent gaze, that still pursues
The object which our pain renews;
If absent, we the loss lament
And pass the day in discontent;
When night arrives we wish for morn,
Yet sleeping see the dear lov’d form;
And nature, thus, devoid of art,
Retains the passion in the heart.
When thine shall wake and warm to love,
Mayst thou each social blessing prove,
And heav’n, in pity to thy fears,
Guide thee where sense each charm endears.
Believe me, youth, a fool is worse
Than all the ills I can rehearse,
An unremitting, endless curse!
On the Birth of Twin Sons in 17811781.
Hail, infant boys! and hail the dawn
That brought your natal hour!
May no malignant planet frown
With inauspicious pow’r.
May heav’n it’s kindest influence shed
Around ye as ye lay,
And watchful angels guard your bed,
And shield ye in the day.
Sweet balmy slumbers close your eyes
Whene’er dispos’d to rest;
Your waking, supplicating, cries,
With pity move each breast.
On both may truth and goodness wait
As they advance in age,
And may they find a milder fate
Than what their births presage.
O, God! behold their infant state
Thy kind protection claim:—
For them thy mercy I entreat;
To me extend the same.
Tho’, poor and helpless, I am here;
On Thee my hopes rely;
Thou canst disperse the rising tear,
And make me smile with joy.
O! give me, while thus mean and low,
An humble peaceful mind,
May love and duty guide me through.
With fortitude combin’d.
Could these dear boys their father’s love,
Join’d with their mother’s, share,
How vast a blessing would it prove,
How lighten ev’ry care!
What jarring sentiments contend
And struggle, in my breast,
When I reflect they want the friend
That should their youth assist!
O! peace, my soul, and be not grieve’d;
Repress each plaintive word;
And may these gifts, from heav’n receiv’d,
Find favor with the Lord.
For them, for me, I humbly ask
A portion of His grace,
And may we find, when life is past,
With Him a resting place.
The Invitation of Spring,
Addressed to Miss F――N.
1788-05-20May 2O, 1788.
When, cloy’d with pompous shews and vain parade,
You deign once more to court the rural shade,
This blest retreat, this verdant spot, you’ll find
As calm and tranquil as your faultless mind.
Long has the mansion stood unus’d to sound,
But such as hoary winter scatters round,
When hail stones nimbly from each part rebound:
Loud blasts of wind in frightful cadence roar,
And intercept the swift descending show’r;
With equal haste the furious rains succeed,
And o’er the heath a second deluge spread:
The lonely pile the various shocks sustains,
And, rudely treated, yet unmov’d remains;
Each harsh discordant sound arguments the din,
While pensive echo answers from within,
Absorb’d in grief the hapless nymph complains
And oft replies, in hollow, plaintive, strains.
Exhausted, spent, the storms suspend their rage;
The winds are passive, and the rains assuage;
Yet still each part retains a dismal gloom
And shade and silence glide through ev’ry room.
The grassy walks, that long, neglected, lay,
While churlish winter stole their sweets away,
Still shew a mournful picture of decay.
But hark! what sweet enliv’ning sound is this?
Is, it a real or a fancied bliss?
’Tis no deceit; I hear the cuckoo sing;
His herald notes delightful tidings bring,
And through the grove proclaim returning spring.
Ye vernal gales, that o’er these meadows play,
To envied Bath the grateful news convey;
O! tell my lovely friend that spring is come,
That all of rural bliss invites her home:
Inform her too how gay the walks appear,
How nature labours, with unwearied care,
To charm and fix the lovely wand’rer here
Each leisure moment urge the pleasing tale,
And still pursue her till ye can prevail.
Romantic thoughts! how fade your fairy scenes,
When reason shews the space that intervenes!
Too insufficient will the gales be found;
Long e’er they reach her must they lose the sound:
Nor needs their message; for can Bath appear
With more attractions than are scatter’d here?
Those brilliant circles, now so light and gay,
Like beauteous flow’rs will fade and fall away;
Their courtly nymphs, in all their beauty’s fame,
Want those perfections which my friend can claim:
Though in each form the graces seem combin’d,
How poor, without the graces of her mind!
With modish airs they vainly strive to please;
She charms by native elegance and ease.
Alas! my friend, why thus protract your stay?
Why unregarded speeds the length’ning day?
O! come, and with encreasing transport view
The gardens, and the vale, their sweets renew.
How will the sprightly village train rejoice
And hail thy coming with a cheerful voice,
Bask in thy smiles, all jocund, blythe as day,
While all the prospect owns a brighter ray!
Indulgent nature too exerts her cares,
And hoards of aromatic sweets prepares:
The fields, the meads, will weat a brighter green,
Thy presence will enliven ev’ry scene:
The rich and poor impatient now attend,
To welcome and recieve their charming friend.
Delusive phantom, light as air,
Whose shadow we pursue,
Each rising morn, with anxious care,
We still the chace renew.
Elate with hope we persevere,
Still flatter’d with success;
Yet unforeseen events defer,
Our visionary bliss.
Or fruitless toil augments our pain;
Our hopes flit swiftly by:
We sigh, despairing to obtain
The transitory joy.
Can gold untainted pleasure give?
Can we depend on pow’r?
Can fame the sick’ning heart relieve,
Or bring one happy hour?
Will titles, birth, or pompous shows,
Youth, beauty, wit combin’d
Will these, I ask, avert the woes
Entail’d on human kind?
Yet still our wish we may effect
Substantial blessings know:
What from the shadow we expect,
The substance will bestow.
With wisdom dwells our dearest bliss,
Abounding with increase;
Her ways are ways of pleasantness,
And all her paths are peace.
Lay hold on her, and you’ll possess
The treasure you have sought;
Her price beyond the ruby is,
Or gold from Ophir brought.
Addressed to the Inhabitants of Yoxford, in 17871787.
Dear Village! sweet delightful spot!
Blest scene that gave me birth!
Though now, alas! unknown, forgot,
I wander o’er the earth.
Yet still thy name I will repeat;
A name how dear to me!
And, maugre this my wayward fate,
Will claim my part in thee.
Say, wilt thou love me in return
And love with pity join?
Not treat me with contempt or scorn,
Or blush to say I’m thine?
Still let this pleasing hope be mine,
Warm’d by a daily pray’r:
And fav’ring heav’n to thee and thine,
Extend it’s guardian care.
And ye, who in this darling spot,
Securely dwell serene,
Be ev’ry bliss in life your lot,
And pleasure paint each scene.
Still unembitter’d may you taste
The sweets of health and peace;
While plenty decks the choice repast,
And Ceres gives increase.
May commerce flourish unrestrain’d,
In social strength elate,
While neighb’ring swains admiring stand,
To see your prosp’rous state.
May justice all her rights assert
And bear impartial sway,
While truth and friendship, void of art,
Their native charms display.
When God or man you supplicate
May you not plead in vain;
But seek to be as good, as great,
And what you ask obtain.
On the Death of a Most Benevolent Gentleman.
O, Death! how dread thy footsteps, track’d with woe!
What desolation follows where they go!
What scenes of terror o’er thy path display’d!
Thou phantom; see the havock thou hast made!
Must all submit to thy subduing hand?
All yield obedience to thy stern command?
The good, the great, thy summons must obey,
And victims fall to thy despotic sway.
Could nought protect Ernesto from the blow?
What clouds of sorrow sit on ev’ry brow!
Not feign’d distress, though such too oft appears,
But heart felt grief, and unaffected tears.
To speak his praise what language can I find?
The man, the christian, and the friend combin’d!
On earth the object of esteem and love;
Now, blest associate of the saints above.
No storms of anger in his looks were seen,
But all was easy, peaceful and serene,
While goodness sat triumphant on the smile
That, beaming, mark’d a heart devoid of guile.
He fear’d his Maker and his laws obey’d
To christian duties strict attention paid;
Assiduous sought his God, in praise and pray’r,
Nor deem’d futurity beneath his care.
See each dependent, with dejected air,
In silence mourn, and sighing drop a tear.
His lib’ral hand to all he did extend,
The best of masters, and the kindest friend!
His goodness beam’d around incessant joys;
Now many a pensive heart despairing sighs:
The sick, the aged, and the orphan’d poor,
Have lost their all, and they can lose no more!
Ah! would some abler pen the theme pursue:
But who can give, to virtue, virtue’s due?
He needs no loud applause, no noisy fame;
His deeds will best immortalize his name.
On Reading the Inscription on Gay’s Monument.
Life is a jest, and all things shew it:
I thought so once, but now I know it.
Some say that life is but a dream,
A pilgrimage at best:
But what will most amazing seem,
Gay tells us,—’tis a jest!
Could such a wild romantic thought,
Through wit’s mistaken claim,
With false delusive notions fraught,
Gain monumental fame?
Is life a jest? ah! view the scene;
The ills depicted there:
What precipices intervene!
How dark the dells appear!
Bewilder’d and unnerv’d by fear,
Thro’ dreary vales we stray:
A gleam of hope prevents despair,
And points us out the way.
One cheering ray dispells the gloom;
The prospect brightens round:
No more we heed the ills to come,
Or rough uneven ground.
With thoughtless steps we trip along,
The beaten track pursue,
Regardless whether right or wrong,
Or where it leads us to.
While gay and chearful, void of care,
Without a guide we rove,
Hope’s dazzling phantoms disappear,
Or fading meteors prove.
Again the desert’s gloomy shade
Appals the heart with fear:
But life’s vain trust is most display’d
Where active scenes appear.
What crouds attract the wand’ring eye,
A mix’d, a motley groupe!
Some smile, elate with sudden joy,
Some sink, depriv’d of hope.
But noise and bustle, vain parade!
Engage the major part;
How few solicit nature’s aid!
All court expensive art.
The great their time, and wealth, expend
In ostentatious shew,
In splendid galas stll contend
To furnish something new.
But what would all this tinsell’d glare,
This idle splendor, mean,
Should death abruptly interfere
And rudely close the scene?
The grand display of modish taste
Would quickly fade away,
And darkest night supply the place
Of artificial day.
Now yonder sprightly train survey,
In youth and beauty’s hour;
Where countless charms around them play,
And fame proclaims their pow’r.
Do those outward charms rely
And fancied elegance,
Whose strange demeanours oft imply,
Great pride but little sense?
Pale envy here assails the heart
And easy conquest finds;
While affectation claims a part,
And triumphs o’er their minds.
And since in youth and beauty’s breast
These baleful pow’rs intrude,
Can weak decrepid age resist
With greater fortitude?
Yet ancient learning often says
That wisdom dwells with age;
That honor, peace, and length of days,
Attend the hoary sage.
The heathen writers darkly saw
That something lay conceal’d;
’Twas simple nature gave them law,
For truth was not reveal’d.
Though pagan errors long obscur’d
The light that shines within,
Their moral precepts oft procur’d
The praise of virtuous men.
And still, ’tis strange that men can con
These moral pages o’er,
Profoundly too comment thereon,
And yet improve no more.
The fairest work is not entire,
But mark’d with some defect:
Much time and labor ’twill require
To make the heart correct.
But those that place their trust in God,
As, doubtless, millions do,
Will still adhere to what is good,
And what is bad eschew.
Though present pain, or past events,
Enforce their silent tear,
Their conscious hope that grief prevents
Which flows from guilty fear.
But human life, in every stage,
Though short it may appear,
From early youth, to ripest age,
Is still replete with care.
Thy tenets, Gay, are not believ’d,
Such slender faith is mine;
And yet, too many are deceiv’d
By notions such as thine!
And some may think the poet’s jest
A lively turn of thought,
Who dread on serious truths to rest
Or treat them as they ought.
This life the good or ill portends
Of our eternal state;
On this the sentence too depends,
That must decide our fate.
Great God! to us extend thy care,
Each social bliss increase:
O! may we live contented here,
And end our days in peace.
Reflections on My Own Situation,
Written in T-tt-ngst-ne House of Industry, 1802-02February 1802.
How many years are past and gone,
How alter’d I appear,
How many strange events have known,
Since first I enter’d here!
Within these dreary walls confin’d,
A lone recluse, I live,
And, with the dregs of human kind,
A niggard alms receive.
Unclutivated, void of sense,
Their rude behaviour gives offence,
Their language wounds the ear.
Disgusting objects swarm around,
Throughout confusions reign;
Where feuds and discontent abound,
Remonstrance proves in vain.
No sympathising friend I find,
Unknown is friendship here;
Not one to soothe, or calm the mind,
When overwhelm’d with care:
Peace, peace, my heart, thy duty calls,
With cautious steps proceed:
Beyond these melancholy walls,
I’ve found a friend indeed!
I gaze on numbers in distress,
Compare their state with mine:
Can I reflect, and not confess
A providence divine?
And I might bend beneath the rod,
And equal want deplore,
But that a good and gracious God
Is pleas’d to give me more:
My gen’rous friends, with feeling heart,
Remove the pondrous weight,
And those impending ills avert
Which want and woes create.
Yet what am I, that I should be
Thus honor’d and carest?
And why such favors heap’d on me,
And with such friendship blest?
Absorb’d in thought I often sate
Within my lonely cell,
And mark’d the strange mysterious fate
That seem’d to guide me still.
When keenest sorrow urg’d her claim,
When evils threaten’d dread,
Some unexpected blessing came,
And rais’d my drooping head.
In youth strange fairy tales I’ve read,
Of magic skill and pow’r,
And mortals, in their sleep, convey’d
To some enchanted tow’r.
In this obscure and lone retreat,
Conceal’d from vulgar eyes,
Two rival genii us’d to meet
And counterplots devise.
The evil genius, prone to ill,
Mischievous schemes invents,
Pursues the fated mortal still,
And ev’ry woe augments.
Insulted with indignant scorn,
Aw’d by tyrannic sway,
A prey to grief each rising morn,
And cheerless all the day.
But fate and fortune in their scenes
A pleasing change decree:
The friendly genius intervenes,
And sets the captive free.
Content and freedom thus regain’d,
Deprive’d of both before;
So great the blessing, when obtained,
What can he wish for more?
The tales these eastern writers feign
Like facts to me appear;
The fabled suff’rings they contain,
I find no fictions here.
And since, in those romantic lays,
My miseries combine,
To bless my lengthen’d wane of days,
Their bright reverse be mine.
Look down, O God! in me behold
How helpless mortals are,
Nor leave me friendless, poor, and old,
But guide me with thy care.
To the Rev. Dr. J――n.
On his being appointed one of his Majesty’s Chaplains.
Hail, joyous tidings! soul-reviving sound!
Has Candler’s friend the royal favor found?
O blest event! O, joy, to what excess!
What language can my sentiments express?
Let poets laureate shine in lofty verse,
And splendid stories skilfully rehearse,
Let them excel in all the pomp of rhyme,
And ransack kingdoms and the page of time;
But I, defective in the shining part,
Must write the simple language of the heart:
Nor will my friend esteem the off’ring less
Because array’d in nature’s rustic dress.
Ah! what am I? ――A stranger to the rules
Observ’d by those instructed in the schools;
Unskill’d, unpractis’d, in the art to please,
Not form’d, by nature, for such work as these:
From snarling critics and their censure free,
They’ll not bestow a single thought on me;59 I2r 59
No strokes of satire will they lavish here,
But let me off with one contemptuous sneer:
But, truce a moment,—give me leave to say,
I’ve not to plead the merits of a play,
Stranger alike to boxes and to pit,
And all the dazzling ornaments of wit,
The public voice will ne’er decide my fate,
Alike unworthy of their love and hate:
An author scarcely can their frowns survive,
While I, unnotic’d, am preserv’d alive.
Unenvied, here, my pen I may employ,
To speak thy praises J—N and my joy
And is it true?—art thou at lenght preferr’d?
In extacy the pleasing tale I heard:
O! may thy wishes still propitious be,
And may thy sov’reign still distinguish thee:
Though high thy honors, great thy present bliss,
Thy merits claim far greater still than this.
O! may our gracious prince his gifts dispense
To men of virtue, probity, and sense;
Then must my friend his favor still maintain,
And all the church’s highest honors gain:
Conspicuous will each christian virtue shine
And add new lustre to the rites divine:
Thy works of mercy, and of kindness blest,
This grateful village ever will attest;
Those sacred truths we did from thee receive,
Thy life and manners taught us to believe.60 I2v 60
May heav’n its choicest gifts to thee extend,
My worthy patron, and my noble friend,
May each succeeding year new bliss afford,
And peace and plenty deck thy festive board.
To Miss F—n.
1789-04-30April 30, 1789.
Once more the lovely spring appears,
Diffusing sweets around;
Once more the cuckoo’s note I hear,
And hail the pleasing sound.
Sol, in his splendor, mounts on high,
his radiant light displays,
While noisome fogs and vapours, fly
Before his bright’ning ray.
From him each stem new strength derives,
Fresh verdure cloaths the plain,
Cheer’d by his beams each plant revives
And springs to light again.
Now Ceres comes, and, smiling, brings
Her well replenish’d horn;
Again the vallies laugh and sing,
They stand so thick with corn.
Pomona, with incessant toil,
Her yearly tribute pays,
And Bacchus, with a joyous smile,
The clust’ring vine surveys.
In ancient times, as poets say,
The God was much renown’d,
Mirth revel’d with his vot’ries gay
To drum and cymbal’s sound:
And oft the ivy crowned priest
Fill’d high the foaming bowl;
For choicest wines enrich’d the feast,
Till frolic scorn’d controul.
The rosy God, exulting, view’d
The late libations made, Alluding to the rejoicing on his Majeſty’s happy recovery.
And thought his festival renew’d,
And all his laws obey’d.
For thus did Britons quaff and sing,
With shouts and festive lays
When heav’n in pity spar’d their king
And gave him length of days.
Britannia, like the sun, appear’d
Enthron’d in dazzling light,
Her favour’d sons new altars rear’d,
With many a grateful rite.
Health, peace, and concord, smiling sate,
And various charms display’d,
While envy, with a deadly hate,
The beauteous groupe survey’d.
And social mirth, and joy unfeign’d,
With plenty deign’d to smile,
And nought but love and friendship reign’d
In Britain’s happy isle.
While scenes like these vast crouds employ
And England’s praise ascends,
I feel my dearest earthly joy
Is center’d in my friends.
While town-bred beau, and rural swain,
Quaff healths, and shout encore!
Let me behold my friend again,
And I will ask no more.
Yet should she on our plains appear,
And smile benignly gay,
Like them I’ll banish ev’ry care,
And keep high holiday.
On Perusing the History of Jacob
After I had left T-tt-ngst-ne House of Industry.
Am I the very same, who us’d to be
Still sighing for her long lost liberty?
For twenty years and more I mourn’d the loss;
The laws were rig’rous, ev’ry task seem’d cross,
The bondage irksome, and the treatment hard,
From social converse and from friends debarr’d;
Excess of grief the gath’ring ills portend,
But Jacob’s God has rais’d me up a friend,
Blest is that gift th’ Almighty deigns to send!
Like me, for twenty years, did Jacob find
Men were unfeeling, selfish, and unkind,
With anxious care his fleecy charge survey’d,
And climb’d the mountains, if a lambkin stray’d
If torn by beasts, or by misfortune slain,
’Twas his the loss, or damage, to sustain,
From frost by night, or scorching heat by day,
He found his spirits, and his strength, decay:
Fatigued with watching and with care opprest,
His sleep departed though he wanted rest:65 K1r 65
Ten times his wages chang’d, his hire detain’d,
His wealth suspected, as unjustly gain’d,
In all a strange return did Laban make,
As God had blest him for his nephew’s sake;
But envy, when excited knows no peace,
As others prosper, so her pangs encrease;
His neighbour’s wealth was great, he thought it such,
His own too little, Jacob’s far too much;
But God in pity still augments his store,
His flocks and herds encrease still more and more;
A num’rous offspring plays around his tent;
Gold, Silver, servants, in abundance sent:
What greater blessing could he wish to see?
Alas! he sigh’d, and wish’d for liberty!—
Review’d the lone retreats where oft he’d been,
Too long frequented, and too often seen,
The mountain’s top, the gloomy vale below,
The mazy paths so often wander’d through;
Reflects on dangers that had oft recurr’d,
The hard ungen’rous treatment long endur’d:
The scenes of early youth his thoughts employ,
Nor can the present yield substantial joy:
No abject fear can urge a longer stay,
Alert, he rises with returning day,
Departs in silence, and pursues his way.
Three days elasp’d e’er Laban mist his son,
Or knew his fav’rite household gods were gone;K 66 K1v 66
Indignant then he heard that Jacob fled,
With wives and children, and with all he had!
He calls his kindred, bids his servants arm,
No good intended, though he did no harm;
For Jacob’s God would not permit his foe
To stop his journey, or his rancour shew;
And, what may strange to divers christians seem,
The Syrian, though a heathen, told his dream,
With candor own’d the holy one appear’d,
Nor would conceal the dread command he heard;
Impell’d by fear, and aw’d by pow’r divine,
That pow’r which brings to nought what men design:
While Jacob urges how he oft was wrong’d,
By abject state and servitude prolong’d,
Deceiv’d, suspected, and his hire withheld,
No faith observ’d, promise e’er fulfill’d
Through twenty years had God increas’d his store,
Small his first stock, th’ Almighty made it more:
Could Laban charge him with a breach of trust?
Though great his wealth, its ev’ry claim was just.
Then Pagan zeal, its idols, to regain,
Ransack’d his tents: the search was all in vain,
Nor could the dumb inactive Gods complain
What could be found among his stock or stuff
To merit censure or deserve reproof?
The aged sire could not the charge confute;
His heat seeks parly, and avoids dispute,
And while it, anxious, courts his childrens loves,
Their want of duty and their flight reproves,67 67
His purpos’d vengeance yields, his wrath subsides,
And Jacob, on his part, a feast provides;
They both a pious sacrifice ordain,
That neither should, for harm, return again;
For Jacob’s God the Pagan still rever’d,
As thus he spake, and thus his vows were heard:
When absent from each other we shall be,
The God of Heaven watch ’tween thee and me:
Perform thy promise when I’m gone from here
And treat my daughters with indulgent care:
Thy God is witness not betwixt us both;
Therefore beware, and now infringe thine oath.
Thus Laban spake; and now prepares to go;
Clasps his dear children, and their children too;
With fond embrace the friendly mount he leaves,
And ling’ring looks, and a last blessing gives:
But Jacob yet was not exempt from fear,
A far more dreadful foe now claims his care:
Should Esau still retain his former hate,
Could he determine what might be his fate?
If gentle means could not his wrath assuage,
A simple shepherd must not brave his rage.
He tells his flock, and culls from thence the best,
If peradventure they may save the rest;
But when he hears of Esau’s martial host,
He almost deems himself and children lost:
Yet breathes a pray’r before th’ eternal throne,
And great Jehovah guides him safely on.