1787
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ode on the late happy Reconciliation between his Majesty and the Prince of Wales.

Public Advertiser (15 June 1787).

Ann Yearsley


Ann Yearsley adopts the Miltonic manner in her ode celebrating the reconciliation of the royal family: "Come blest Concord! shed thy dews, | O'er his mind thy sweets infuse; | Lull emotion, sooth his soul, | Curb the passions as they roll; | Clasp him to thy genial breast, | Give him Slumber's lenient rest, | And as loathing Discord flies, | Bid his softest feelings rise." Yearsley, known as "Lactilla," had worked as a milkmaid before being patronized by Hannah More. This ode was written after their famous quarrel, when the laboring poet was attempting to establish an independent career as a writer.

Headnote: "Sir, On Mrs. Yearsley's arrival in town, she was agreeably informed that an happy reconciliation had taken place between his Majesty and his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales; the pleasing circumstance produced the following lines from her unimproved pen. I am, Sir, Yours, &c. James Shiells, Lambeth Terrace, 12 June, 1787."

Hannah More to Elizabeth Montague: "I was curious to know what poetry she had read. With the Night Thoughts, and Paradise Lost, I found her well acquainted; but she was astonished to learn that Young and Milton had written any thing else. Of Pope, she had only seen the Eloisa; and Dryden, Spenser, Thomson, and Prior, were quite unknown to her, even by name. She has read a few of Shakespeare's Plays, and speaks of a translation of the Georgics, which she has somewhere seen, with the warmest poetic rapture" Preface to Ann Yearsley, Poems on Several Occasions (1785) vi.

Samuel Austin Allibone: "Mrs. Anne Yearsley (Lactilla,) born at Bristol about 1756, was living in great poverty as a milk-woman at Clifton, near Bristol, when, under the patronage of Hannah More, who revised her pieces, she published her first volume of poems. The profits of this book, over £600, Miss More and Mrs. Montagu desired to invest for the benefit of the author; but she insisted upon having, and obtained, the whole amount, and with it established a circulating library at Bristol Hot Wells. According to the accounts of Miss More and her biographer, (see Roberts's Memoirs of Hannah More, vol. 1. ch. iv.,) she was guilty of great ingratitude to her friends. Mr. Cottle (see Reddie's Cyclopedia of Literary and Scientific Anecdotes, 175) thinks that she has been unduly censured; and her own Narrative (see Poems on Various Subjects, 1787) should be perused. Her latter years were passed in retirement at Melksham, Wiltshire, where she died in 1806" Critical Dictionary of English Literature (1858-71; 1882) 3:2884.



Ye Guardian Angels of this favour'd Isle,
Who long with drooping pinions silent stood,
While from Britannia's shore to Egypt's Nile
Your tears were borne upon the troubled flood—

Strike your harps, nor more complain;
Albion bids you raise the strain;
Touch the chords with heav'nly fire:
Filial love supports the lyre.
Hark! the trembling numbers move,
Echoed from the wildest grove!
Silver Thames serenely plays,
While his Tritons list'ning gaze.

Avaunt, ye crew, whom glaring Faction guides,
Nor blast a scene of transport long unknown;
Whilst in each royal breast pale grief subsides,
Oh! let soft Nature call the joy her own!

Lo! expiring Faction lies;
England's Genius now shall rise,
Peace shall seize his hoary hand,
Round him call her smiling band,
Form'd of many-colour'd hours,
Dazzling shades and winged Pow'rs,
Who unseen shall gently sing,
O'er a lately woe-worn King.

Ah! fly his pillow, soul-distracting thought,
And thou, dear Mem'ry, paint the past no more;
No more hold high the cup by Faction wrought,
Whose potion's poison, to each distant shore.

Come blest Concord! shed thy dews,
O'er his mind thy sweets infuse;
Lull emotion, sooth his soul,
Curb the passions as they roll;
Clasp him to thy genial breast,
Give him Slumber's lenient rest,
And as loathing Discord flies,
Bid his softest feelings rise.

'Tis done! the Furies, fly the blissful scene,
Nature alone now keeps her revel high;
Here bends a Son; there smiles a virtuous Queen;
Bid drops of joy shine in Britannia's eye!

Rouz'd her voice is heard again,
Breaking o'er the restless main;
Commerce spreads her willing sails,
Ceres fills her fav'rite vales,
Wisdom aids the warm debate,
While the patriot fills her seat.
All is rapture, every pow'r
Hails with joy the white-wing'd hour.

Approach ye Fathers! Sons of Virtue haste!
And ye fair Daughters of the Village train!
Ye Mothers! who parental bliss wou'd taste,
Behold this scene and join my rural strain!

Sing the feelings of the breast,
(Long by agony opprest)
When it beats to love alone,
When that love and duty's one,
Ye, who know not rules of art,
Shall the poignant joys impart:
Then with me resume the song,
Echo bears the sound along.

But ah! what haggard shade is distant seen,
Swift approaching o'er yon blasted heath?
She nearer comes! her frown and horrid mien
Pronounce her the pale harbinger of Death,

Hence Disease! fly ghastly form,
Nor a nation's fears alarm:
Rage not here — ah! vain the pray'r,
O'er the Prince her flames appear;
Now they fall! his bosom burns,
Now the shiv'ring pang returns;
See his fainting head declines,
All relax'd he health resigns.

Oh! spare him yet! Thou whose Almighty voice
Can charge departing life to turn in haste,
Till rushing on, the Spirits all rejoice,
When the fair Cherub in the heart is plac'd.

Hark! the heav'nly fiat sounds,
And the boast of Death confounds.
"Health to GEORGE" the Seraphs sing;
Frighted flies the grisly King;
With him fly his horrid train,
Burning fever — rending pain.
Health returns, the noble youth
Led by her to radiant truth,

Exclaims, "Now time retard thy ceaseless course;
Slow, yet more slow, pass o'er this happy day;
Prolong my rapture, nor abate its force,
And bid my filial transports ne'er decay."

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