1757 (undated) (5)
Anne Steele, [Broughton], to Mary Wakeford, [Andover], undated .
I wish you may not think my Simile worn out for I have not quite done with it, indulge me Dear Sister a little farther A Parent, I consider as a Gardener of large business, who has so many Gardens or separate Inclosures all under his immediate inspection, he may indeed have servants or Assistants in his work, but the principal care is his and whatever misfortunes happen through mismanagement they will be generally charg’d on him who has the chief direction, he ought to be a Person of skill & Dilligence, he has certainly a great deal of care on his hands, but if he delights in his business a great deal of pleasure attends it too, he must find out the nature of the Soil, perhaps there may be great difference in the several Gardens, and one may want much more care & cultivation than another, yet in every one of them, weeds will abound and find him constant employ. Flowers, or Fruits, or Plants of value, are not the natural production of the Soil they must be sown planted or grafted and nurs’d with constant assiduity; many a wild plant indeed will rise and flourish, but instead of being ornamental or useful, will prove a disgrace to his Garden, if not lopp’d and grafted with better fruit than it will of it’s self produce thus a skilful hand will sometimes graft Duty on Interest and various virtues on Ambition—In a new Garden some Art and study is necessary to lay it out in its proper divisions, and in a judicious choice of proper Seeds & Plants, constant care and diligence is requisite in tending & watering the young Plantation, is not this a lively Emblem of the work of a religious Parent?—the Gardener watches with attentive expectation when his seeds begin to spring, and as they rise, distinguishes the infant Plants from the native weeds which will mingle with them; the first he cherishes with tender care, the other he pulls up with gentle touch and by cautious degrees, for roughness or inadvertence might hurt or destroy the plants he wou’d preserve—methinks I see your two little Boys playing by you, and hear the Maternal sigh rising for them!—but what is all the plodding thought and busie labour of a Gardener, compar’d with the tender painful anxieties of a Parent?—a Parent who has not so many Gardens, but so many Minds committed to his care, for whose cultivation and improvements he must be accountable to his great Master! Whose assistance in the arduous Work and Blessing on your endeavours you (I doubt not) implore, and whose Word encourages you to hope, that as your Day is your Strength shall be.—And now my Dear Amira I think I have given you (as well as I can) my thoughts on this Subject, to which however I own my self unequal, and especially to the last part of it: if I have err’d, write to tell me how and where, and you will oblige
Text: STE 3/10/v, 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. 301-02. Since only the two boys are mentioned, the date of this letter must be prior to 1760.