1756 (undated) (2)

Anne Steele to [Philip Furneaux], undated (c. 1756).

To Lucius

Who wisely blends our pleasures & our pains

In just proportion good & kind in all

Having but little time before me

You must not expect method or connection in the few irregular hasty thoughts I send I send you ^desir’d^ on your three reflections (which I believe I need not repeat) Human Happiness ^in this present state^ of whatever form or degree can only claim that name so far as it tends to lead us to the Eternal Spring of true Felicity from whence every little rivulet of comfort flows which we meet with in the wilderness of Life to cheer us to cheer us in the way to the Celestial Canaan --- when opprest with pain and grief he only can raise the dejected Spirit and teach us to relish present enjoyments in the blessings of Providence.

Who mingles sweets in every bitter draught

And strews the thorny path with fragrant flow’rs

Affliction as well as smiling Providences are properly ingredients in Happiness if we can view see the sovereign hand that dispenses them and are taught learn a humble thankful dependance there and in this we may be encouraged by reflecting on past experience and if weak erring ill judging creatures as we are we place too great a value on any present good the appearance of just severity in the Providence which deprives us of it is attended with paternal care indulgent Goodness and tenderness when by this we are convinc’d that no temporal good a real benefit is a fit portion for the heirs of Eternity and are enabled to look beyond the joys of time to a state of perfect and unchanging bliss in the full enjoyment of the favour of God who gives our present comforts only for a season to be enjoyd with thankfulness to be improvd to the praise of the All-Gracious Donour and to be resignd with chearful submission at his sovereign pleasure

The dear delights we here enjoy and fondly call our own

Are but short favours borrowd now to be repayd anon

One wou’d think conviction from the past might prevent over elevated expectation or satisfaction in future prospects. have we ever amused our selves with the flattering hopes of pleasure & delight in any agreeable scenes or circumstances before us and not been disappointed? and ’tis is it not highly reasonable and proper it should be so to teach us a calm indifference to every thing below and raise our thoughts desires to that supreme Good which will never disappoint our hopes but infinitely exceed our most exalted expectations – this then should be our care to look on present things whether in possession or prespect only as they relate to Eternity and regard those occurrences only, as causes of sorrow or joy which hinder or promote our real interest which obstruct or aid our hopes of immortal Happiness

Well may we admire the infinite condescension the indulgent Goodness of the Father of mercies in the wise and gracious dispensations of his providence to such worthless worms such ungrateful creatures! Not only utterly unworthy of his favourable notice but meriting his just and eternal hatred indignation instead of crushing us to nothing in a moment as we deserve he preserves us in the hollow of his hand from all the danger to which our frailty continually exposes us supply’s our wants directs our paths and even carries us in his bosom – well may we say what is Man vile guilty miserable Man that God should set his heart upon him – adoreable Goodness! To shew such tender regard for objects so mean so insignificant to him when with one potent word he cou’d destroy the whole species and people this spot of Earth with a nobler purer race of creatures shining in his glorious image and worthy of his care Yet man is preservd and visited with the blessings of his providence & Grace and even tryals and afflictions are to the children of his care marks of his paternal affection & by his wise & gracious direction work for their present or Eternal good

Lord what is man poor wretched grovling worm

That Thou shouldst stoop to raise his humble form

And with such kind regard such wond’rous Grace

In constant visits bless the worthless race

Thus far with a little freedom less regularity & perhaps still less propriety – your other subject must be deferd till I see you


I think I have as you desird wrote freely but tho’ with very little regularity and perhaps less propriety

How best the Soul whose hopes on thee depend

His guides his guardian his Allmighty Friend

Born on the heart dear object of thy Love

Thy everlasting kindness he shall have

Paternal tenderness indulgent care

Shine in thy smiles and through thy frowns appear

Text: STE 3/13/ii, Steele Collection, Angus Library, Regent's Park College, Oxford. For an annotated version of this letter, see Timothy Whelan, gen. ed., Nonconformist Women Writers, 1720-1840 (London: Pickering & Chatto, 2011), vol. 2, ed. Julia B. Griffin, pp. 287-89. No address page. Lines beginning "The dear delights . . . " taken from a hymn by Isaac Watts.