1785 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Hannah More

Ann Yearsley, "To Stella, on a Visit to Mrs. Montague" Bath Chronicle (24 February 1785).



It gives us great pleasure to lay before our readers, the first specimen we have been able to procure, and we believe the first which has appeared in print, of the poetical talents of Mrs. Yearsley (the celebrated milk-woman of Clifton) lately introduced to the notice of the public by Miss H. More, to whom this beautiful Epistle is addressed.

Unequal, lost to th' aspiring claim,
I neither own nor ask the immortal name
Of Friend — oh no, its ardours are too great,
My soul too narrow, and too low my state;
Stella, soar on, (to nobler objects true)
Pour out your soul with your lov'd Montague.
But ah! should either have a thought to spare,
Slight, trivial, neither worth a smile nor tear,
Let it be mine — when glowing raptures rise,
And each aspiring seeks her native skies,
When fancy wakes the soul to extacy,
And the wrapt mind is fir'd with Deity,
Quick let me from the hallow'd spot retire,
When sacred genius lights his awful fire:
Yet shall your bounty warm my feeble state,
With cheerful lustre gild my gloomy fate.
In that lone hour, when angry forms descend,
And the chill'd soul forgets the name of friend,
When all her sprightly fires neglected lie,
And gloomy objects fill the mental eye;
When hoary winter strides the northern blast,
And Flora's beauties at his feet are cast;
Earth by the grisly tyrant defect made,
The feather'd warblers quit the feather'd shade,
Quit those dear scenes where life and love began,
And cheerless seek the savage haunt of man:
Then shall your image soothe my pensive soul,
When slow-pac'd moments big with mischief roll;
Then shall I, eager, wait your wish'd return
From that bright Fair who decks a Shakespeare's urn
With deathless glories, ev'ry ardent pray'r
Which gratitude can waft from souls sincere,
Each glad return to gen'rous beauty due
Shall warm my heart for Thee and Montague.
Blest pair! — O had not souls like yours been given,
The dubious atheist well might doubt a heaven:
Convinc'd, he now deserts his gloomy stand,
Owns Mind the greatest proof of a creating hand.
Cales's conversion, by externals wrought,
Dropt far beneath sublimity of thought;
But could he those exalted virtues find,
Which form and actuate your gentle mind,—
How would the Heathen, struck with blest surprise,
Atoms deny, while spirit fill'd his eyes!

A collection of the poems of this extraordinary woman, we hear, is on the point of publication, by a 5s. subscription.