1757 (undated) (2)

Anne Steele, [Broughton], to Mary Wakeford, [Andover], undated.

Your proposal my dear Sister is very agreeable, I accept it with pleasure, but doubt my indolence will be a bar I shall be negligent unless you will try to can mend me by setting a good example. Why do you say you cant write to deserve my approbation? sure in a friendly correspondence sincerity is more engaging then eloquence and tho’ you do not want the latter, I hope you believe the first a sufficient recommendation to me—If you knew the present disposition of my mind you wou’d be convinc’d you are not alone in your complaint of stupidity—yet am I not so entirely sunk in it as to be unmov’d with that painful reflection thought when you are no more &c. This reflecn confirms the observation that all Earthly enjoyments blessing are uncertain and unsatisfying—but daily experience affords full conviction—and is not every such reflection a friendly monitor to point our wishes and our hopes to true substantial undecaying felicity— But ah how weak how languishing and low

My warmest wishes and my highest hopes

Could we maintain a constant nearness to God and dependance on him as our everlasting portion then shou’d we enjoy every comfort of Life in its true and proper relish and look present blessings as little rivulets of pleasure swiftly gliding from us yet leading us to the Eternal Source of Happiness This wou’d shed a pleasing lustre thro’ the most gloomy scenes of Life, and afford unfailing consolation in the most afflictive circumstances that can befal us, are we not assur’d that if we love God everything shall work for our Good? Have we not found it so? And is not the Divine Goodness unchangeable? Then why shou’d afflictions dangers or distresses in future prospect spread a gloom over present comforts Yet even timerous [sic] apprehensions if they do not sink into a distrustful anxiety may work our profit too, so far as they serve to convince us more fully of our own weakness and lead us to make the most high God our refuge and depend on the everlasting arm as our sure support.

You can’t think how much I am ^much^ pleas’d with your saying you know I will excuse you write how you will, tis kind and just but may I write to you with equal confidence – this confidence is kind and obliging, I wou’d say the same to you, but am I not under a little difficulty how will Portius if he sees my Letters so readily excuse me is it not too much like compliment to bid me not write as well as I can? I am sure I cannot write so well as I wou’d and believe I shall at best be far from discouraging you—In hope you have not quite lost your relish for verse I send a few lines, yet half doubting your approbation if perhaps you may find some poetical ^interval^ may when verse may be agreeable. If you shou’d do try again and send it to me ^my love^ in any dress—but I do not task you write how and what you will to your affectionate Silviana

May you be happy—I repeat my wish

But what is Happiness? A smiling ray

Mingled with clouds and breaking here & there

With cheerful radiance --- now it gayly shines

And now it disappears and Nature droops

Disconsolate.—frail momentary state

Of Earthly Bliss, how fleeting and how vain!

In vain we seek for Happiness on Earth.

Tis fix’d on high! beyond those gloomy Clouds

Forever shines with full meridian light

Immortal Bliss! And every smiling ray

Which breaks amid the shades of mortal Life

Is sent from Heaven to point our upward view

And guide our wishes to those blest abodes

Thither my dear Amira may you rise

In frequent thought and view the joys of Earth Time

In their true light as blessings only lent

To sweeten care and cheer the darksome way

Grateful enjoy nor mourn their transient date

While Faith extends her wing to bear your hopes

Sublime to joys all permanent and bright

In the fair Mansions of Eternal Day

To be sure I suppose you have been shocked with the news account of Mr Tauntons death – this fatal accident alarms my fears for my dear Father—O may God continue to preserve so valuable so important a Life in mercy to us all—

How difficult a duty is resignation here?—how earnestly shou’d we desire the powerful influences of Divine Grace to wean us from a too firm attachment to mortal comforts and teach us to fix our all of Happiness in God as our Heav’nly Father our Allmighty Friend—O may we be enabled to look beyond these uncertain blessings, these dying enjoyments, to that state of perfect unvariable felicity where the redeemed of the Lord shall be crown’d with everlasting joy and sorrow & sighing shall flee away whenever God is pleas’d to seperate [sic] us from our dearest friends O may the parting pangs be soften’d with the delightful hope the joyful assurance that we shall meet in that blissful world and united in stronger ties then Nature knows rejoice together in the presence of God & of the Lamb for ever and ever—And while we pity the distressful circumstances of those who are by this awful surprizing Providence depriv’d of a Father and a Husband and simpathize [sic] in their sorrows let us adore the Divine Goodness which has hitherto preserv’d us and our dear relatives

Text: STE 3/10/vii Steele Collection, Angus Library, Regent's Park College, Oxford. No address page. 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. 293-95. This letter is written just after the death of a Mr. Taunton, probably a member of the Broughton church.