Memorial to Jonas Hanway, Philanthropist

O Hanway! to the realms of cloudless light

Shall thy pure spirit wing its joyous flight,

And not the Muse that loved thy virtues, pay

The tender tribute of a mournful lay?

For thee, blest saint! a nation’s tears should flow,

Whose bosom felt for every human woe.

No party views enslaved thy generous mind,

The brother thou, the friend of human kind;

In thee that zeal they want, Divines might see,

And Statesmen learn their country’s love from thee.

Ye who disdain to own the Christian name,

And on its ruins seek to build your fame,

On Hanway look; and may your conscious cheek

Contrition’s salutary anguish speak;

On Hanway look, and own the Christian plan,

Formed to refine, to dignify the man:

See! Virtue’s beauties in his page portrayed,

See! all her precepts in his life displayed;

Gaze on his life, and may the holy fire

That warmed his breast, inflame with strong desire

Your souls to glow with charity and love,

And meekly through the paths of duty move.

He heard the outcast orphan’s plaintive moans,

And his heart throbbed with anguish at its groans.

His pen, his hand, the sufferer sought to save

From want, from misery, or an early grave.

He first with pity’s eye beheld the maid

By love seduced, to vice and scorn betrayed;

And strove to turn the wanderer’s devious feet

Back to the paths where peace and virtue meet.

His life’s whole tenor one great end pursued,

The glorious end of universal good.

Though gone to join the myriads of the blest

Of joys immortal as thy soul possessed

Yet must we mourn the exit of the just,

And with our tears bedew thy honoured dust.

Text: ‘Memoir of Mr. John Edward Taylor’, Christian Reformer 11 (1844), 158-73; poem taken from pp. 160-61. The poem originally appeared without a signature in the Gentleman’s Magazine (February 1787), p. 104; see also Whelan, Nonconformist Women Writers, vol. 4, pp. 70-71. Jonas Hanway (1712-86) made his fortune as a Russian Company merchant, describing his travels to Asia in An Historical Account of the British Trade over the Caspian Sea, 4 vols (London, 1753). In 1762 he left the Russian Company and became one of the navy’s victualing commissioners. He was mostly known for his philanthropic activities and writings, his most popular pamphlet being An Earnest Appeal for Mercy to the Children of the Poor (London, 1766), which led to an act of parliament in 1767 to place infants from London in the care of rural nurses. He also led efforts to improve the lives of chimney sweeps, create a better police force in London, and promote the work of Sunday Schools. He was the first philanthropist to receive a memorial in Westminster Abbey.