Anne Steele, [Broughton], to Mary Wakeford, [Andover], undated.
No indeed my dear Sister, I have no mind to climb the Stile you point to.—’Tis true a gentle Swain with many soft intreaties lately offer’d his hand to help me over, but I made him a Curt’sie and declin’d his officious civility, for I look’d over and saw no flowers, but observ’d a great many thorns, and I suppose there are more hid under the leaves, but as there is not verdure enough to cover half of ‘em it must be near Winter, as I think it generally happens when I look into the said Meadow.
Ah how unlike the Ever-verdant Groves
Where the Muse haunts and Contemplation roves!
Those Groves I doubt are hardly accessible from the Meadow; besides I think the path is much smoother on this side the Hedge than the other, and I am too stay’d to ramble for the sake of novelty
Unenvy’d let the Nymphs and Swains
Enjoy their Pleasures and their Pains
While I pursue my quiet way alone
And think their Path less pleasing than my own.
So much for the whimsical—
But your assertion that my Flowers will live in Winter wakes a thought more serious—May the Gracious Hand whose kind cultivation in a Naturally wild Soil produced these imperfect Exotic’s, confirm the friendly prediction! If the Dews of Heaven which alone can give them fragrance are vouchsaf’d, to make them pleasurable to my fellow Travellers, and acceptable to the Great Donour, I think I shall be happy in the reflection of having communicated what I have received.—But the Cloud of diffidence is not yet dispersed, and I hardly dare hope for more than obliging my Friends.—Perhaps you will think me too grave on this Subject, but it is really to me a work of serious importance and since it must be done, I wish it were finish’d, — I want to have my Mind calm and even, but how can that be in a World of Tempest and Vicissitude?—Yet in this tempestuous World, the most adverse winds I have met with, are gentle Gales compar’d with the Storms of which I see many round me contending with! but to these, perhaps the Haven of Eternal rest may appear more desirable, and their transient views of its distant happiness be more transporting.—The true state of the case is, I want a thankful Heart—I am not altogether insensible that I enjoy Mercies which thousands want; but where is the gratitude? where is the Improvement? oh my dear Amira! you may perhaps join with me in the complaint, but can you tell me a Remedy?—I wish to be in the just such a temper as David was when he compos’d the 23.d Psalm—’tis an aspiring
bold wish—but was he not (as well as each of us) a sinful Mortal? and is not the Spring of Divine Consolation from whence he deriv’d his Comforts, free to us? Yes—He is the same Yesterday, to Day, and Forever. — and have we not reason to conclude as David did from past experience “Surely Goodness and Mercy shall follow me all the days of my Life?[”] O could we add assuredly, “I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever![”][ii] not only to enjoy the Priviledges of his House during our abode on Earth (which if blest with his Gracious Influences is very desirable) but to dwell an Eternal Forever in his blissful Presence Above!—Why my dear Sister do we not endeavour more to quicken and animate each other?—I have long waited for your thoughts in return for my last Letters, and must I ever wait in vain?—I believe you have some more lively intervals, and desire you will communicate them to your affectionate
Text: STE 3/10/iii. No address page. This letter is a reply to a letter from Mary Steele Wakeford. Anne Steele had received at least two proposals of marriage by this point: one from Benjamin Beddome and the one described by her sister in her letter. Steele provides a fascinating glimpse at her views on marriage.