Anne Steele, Broughton, to Mary Bullock Steele, 16 March 1762.
I hope you do not take it ill that I have not written to you as I have been seldom able to write, & imagined that a Letter to my Brother was nearly the same as to both.
Accept my affectionate congratulation on the Goodness of God manifested in your preservation thus far, which I hope will be continued in your restoration to health. Past experience affords great encouragement to look up with humble hope & trust to the kind Hand which hitherto hath helped us. I know that faintness and dejection of Spirit often attends long-protracted pain and weakness; but while the Eternal God is our Refuge, and underneath are the Everlasting Arms, we can never be utterly cast down.
It was a good saying of Dr Watts in his Sickness “The Business of a Christian is to bear the Will of God as well as to do it.” but in this part of the Christian’s duty, as well as in all others, we have need (in a conscious sense of our own weakness) to pray for a firm & constant affiance in Almighty Power and Goodness. This was David’s support who had fainted unless he had believed to see the Goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. I am often chear’d by the reflection, that all the dispensations of Providence (however painful to sense) are exactly as they ought to be, and even as we and selves would wish them, were we capable of judging what is best for us. how can it be otherwise? Since (diffident and short-sighted as we are) we must confess that they are the effect of infinite Wisdom and unalterable Goodness. What cause of thankfulness have we to divine Mercy for the sweet dawn of hope which sometimes enlivens our hearts amid the difficulties and dangers of our painful Pilgrimage. Perhaps if our path were allways smooth and easy and we met with no cold storms or distressing accidents we should be ready to sit down, or at least loiter by the way, and be too forgetful of our Journey’s end. Let us then, imploring the kind Presence, the chearing Influences of our gracious Guide, endeavour to encourage our selves & each [ ] to run with patience the Race that is set before us: and may our Faith and Hope be often looking forward through these light and momentary Afflictions to that exceeding & eternal weight of Glory which our great Redeemer has laid up for his faithful Followers; and be enabled to see that by all the trials and Afflictions we are exercised with, he is preparing us for the enjoyment of it.—Brothers Letter of the 13th inst. came yesterday, which gave us pleasure in the acc.t of your being better. I am sorry for the continuance of my Brors Gout, but hope if the fever abates it will be easier again soon. I wish he may be able to bear the Journey without injury at the time he mentions, but fear he will not.—I find my dear Polly [Mary Steele] is an Invalid as well as her Papa, but hope her confinement will not be very long.—I have been a little better a few days past, but yet very indifferent—Father’s Cold continues troublesome. I join with him in Love to, & good wishes for you all, and am
Your very affectte Friend
Broughton March 16th 1762
Father wrote to Brother last Post.
We hope to hear from you tomorrow.
Text: STE 3/9/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. 321-22. Mary Bullock Steele, William’ Steele's wife, would not recover; she died at Yeovil on 13 May 1762.