In Memory of Mary Steele

Farewell! O ever honoured, and endeared,

By all who knew, beloved, esteemed, revered;

The cherished offspring of a sainted race,

Whose worth posterity in thine may trace;

The high integrity, the noble thought;

The action that no flimsy covert sought,

Unshaken friendship, and unsullied truth,

Ardent, and generous in age, as youth;

Philanthropy unfettered and refined,

That beamed benevolence on all mankind,

A tenderness ineffable, exprest

By acting, living to make others blest;

To feeling, firmness lent chastising aid,

And a sound judgment, fertile fancy swayed.

Farewell, farewell – expression is too faint

Thy worth, Maria, or thy loss to paint;

If blest, ’tis Heaven must bless those thus bereft,

No human friend can fill the void she left.

Text: STE 6/3/ii, from a letter by Elizabeth Coltman to Anne Steele Tomkins, 1 October 1814 (untitled in the MS); also Whelan, Nonconformist Women Writers, vol. 4, p. 233. This poem was written for the monumental inscription on Mary Steele’s tomb, but the plan never came to fruition. Other poems were also composed by several of Mary Steele’s friends, including Mary Reid and Mary Ann Taylor, possibly for a small volume of memorial poems in her honor. No copies of the volume are extant today, if it was ever published. In a letter to Anne Steele Tomkins, 25 August 1815, Coltman suggested that the final four lines in the original MS be replaced by the following lines:

Thus unambitiously life’s vale she trod,

Her eye on Heaven, her trust a Saviour God.