|Poetical Attempts (1803)
|Transcript from University of California
By ANN CANDLER ,
A Suffolk Cottager; WITH A SHORT NARRATIVE OF HER LIFE. IPSWICH:
PRINTED AND SOLD BY JOHN RAW;
Also, sold by T. Hurst, Paternoster Row, London.
MEMOIRS OF THE LIFE OF ANN CANDLER .
ANN CANDLER , the author of the following poems, is in the plainest and humblest sense of a word, a Cottager: she has never had a higher station, or, in this world, a higher aim; but, if virtuous principles, pure and modest manners, a deep sense of religion, and steady unaffected Christian faith, are the best guides to a happy immortality, she will not be the least or lowest in the mansions of the blessed .
The events of her life are, as may well be expected, few and uninteresting, except to those who, making the human heart their study in all its various situations, account it not lost time to read
"The short and simple annals of the poor."
For the following circumstances the Editor is indebted to an amiable Lady, who has, for several years, been a benevolent friend and kind patroness to the author. [p. 2]
The father of Ann Candler was William More, of Yoxford, in the county of Suffolk, working glover; her mother was the daughter of Thomas Holder, formerly of Woodbridge, surveyor of the window lights for that part of the county. The father of our author falling into reduced circumstances when he was between forty and fifty, her mother not being able to support the idea of remaining in the village unless she could live in the way she had been accustomed to, which, though far removed from affluence, was just decent, and respectable, prevailed on her husband to leave the place, and settle at Ipswich. She did not long survive her misfortunes, but departed this life in the fifty-fourth year of her age, leaving our author, at that time about eleven years old, to the care of her father, with whom she continued till she married, which was in the twenty-second year of her age. She early evinced a fondness for reading, and though without a guide or instructor in the paths of literature, she frequently found acquaintances who could furnish her with books to her taste, which was chiefly for those of the amusing kind, such as travels, plays, romances, &c. As she was very desirous of learning to write, her father frequently offered to pay for her instruction, which she always declined, probably from the idea that it would be too great a tax upon his slender finances; she however made some humble attempts with chalk, and, at length, used pen and ink. By often observing her father[p. 3] when he wrote, she imitated him so well that she began to write legibly.
It is very remarkable that she had a great dislike to poetry, and could scarcely prevail on herself to read any, yet frequently found an inclination to write in verse. Her first attempt of this kind was addressed to her patron, the Rev. Dr. ——, merely as an effusion of honest gratitude, and nothing could equal her surprize on finding that it was made the subject of public notice and admiration.
From the above account it is evident that her Poems are more the spontaneous productions of genius than the work of memory or education: but the reader will be enabled to form a better idea of the genuine simplicity of her life and manners, from the following letter, addressed to two Ladies, whose benevolence she had frequently experienced, and through whose patronage and interest the subscription for publishing her Poems was begun, and prosperously continued.
To Mrs. and Miss —— Tattingstone Workhouse,
Sunday Evening, April 13, 1801. Dear honored Ladies,
I will begin my letter by obeying your commands, and answering the questions you are pleased to propose.—I am now in the sixty-first year[p. 4] of my age, having been born the 18th of November, 1740. I have had nine children, five sons and four daughters, three of the boys died infants, how it has pleased God to dispose of two of the remaining six I know not, as I have not heard of my eldest son and daughter for many years. One of my daughters is married, I fear but indifferently, and is settled in London: my youngest son also lives in that city as a servant; he went to sea some time ago with a naval officer, but, not liking his situation, returned to London, and was in place when I last heard from his sister. My daughter Lucy is married, and lives at Copdock in this county, and is, I believe, in the true sense of the words, the contented happy Cottager! her husband is a very sober industrious man. My youngest daughter Clara lives, in service, with Mr. John Cook of Holton Hall, near Stratford, and blessed be God, has hitherto preserved an unblemished character. Thus of nine children two remain near me, to afford me substantial happiness and satisfaction as a parent; but my uncertainty about the others, and solicitude for their welfare, are too often painful in the extreme. It was seven years, last month, since I saw or heard from my husband; but conclude he is, if living, in the army, as he was ever fond of military life. We had not been married above a year when he enlisted with a recruiting party of the Guards at Ipswich. A friend immediately[p. 5] came to Sproughton, where we then lived, and informed me of it. Though far advanced in my pregnancy I hastened to the town, and, after an infinite deal of trouble, much expence, and the inconvenience of being detained one night from home, I had, at last, the satisfaction of bringing my young warrior back again. The next day my friend sent me word, that the serjeant of the party declared he would not leave the town without him; this threat alarmed me greatly, and, regardless of fatigue, I went to Ipswich directly. My friend advised me, as the safest method I could adopt, to let my husband enter into the Militia, as they were at that time disembodied. I went home and consulted his father and mother, (for he was born at Sproughton) they approved of the plan, and, in a day or two, my old friend secured him a situation, with which I had great reason to be satisfied, for, on the Sunday following some of the party came to the public house in the village, enquiring for him; but being informed that he was in the Militia; they seemed greatly disappointed. I heard not of it till the next day, but even then I trembled. My remedy you will doubtless say was a desperate one:—true, Madam, it was so, and so was the occasion; fortunately the circumstance was not attended with any bad consequence, for he only made his appearance twenty-eight days every summer, during the three years; so that affair ended without much trouble.— [p. 6]
After the birth of my fourth child I received a small legacy bequeathed to me by a maiden aunt, which afforded me great relief, and gave me an opportunity of furnishing my family with such articles as were absolutely necessary, and had long been wanting, for my husband was ever much addicted to drinking.
Four or five years after this my ever honoured friend and benefactor, the Rev. Dr. J——n came to reside in Sproughton: at Christmas time he was pleased to distribute very liberal gifts to the poor; the generosity of the action struck me very much, and I ventured to address a few lines to him, returning thanks in a manner quite unexpected by the worthy Gentleman. The next day I heard a rap at my door; I opened it,—but my surprise and terror were indescribable on the appearance of Dr. J——n, for I dreaded a severe reprimand for my presumption. My confusion was too great to escape his observation, and the natural goodness of his heart induced him to dispel my fears, by addressing me with the greatest affability and condescension. He was pleased to take a seat, and conversed with me a considerable time. From this hour, the most fortunate of my life, I may date every act of kindness I have since experienced, for he was pleased to recommend me to his friends, and shewed them some of my writings, which, but for his endeavours to bring them into notice, would certainly have been buried in oblivion, as I wrote[p. 7] them merely for my own amusement. Death only can efface him from my remembrance, or cancel the obligations I am under to that best of men! Think what were my sorrows when this dear and valuable friend left the village, and I was at once deprived of his assistance, and also of his conversation, which was always affable and kind!
According to the old adage that one misfortune seldom comes alone, I found another in reserve for me, which I did not expect. A younger brother of my husband, who had been enlisted in the Guards about four years, came down to see his friends. I know not how it was, but the moment I heard that he was come, a sudden tremor seized my whole frame, and tears trickled down my cheeks. This was on the Saturday; on the Sunday he came, by my husband's invitation, to dinner, after which they walked out together, and I did not see my husband till Monday night, when he told me that his brother was gone. He seemed very thoughtful and gloomy: on the Tuesday morning he went to work, and I neither saw or heard any thing more of him till the Friday, when, by mere accident, I heard that he had enlisted with a party of the Guards then at Colchester. A neighbour offered his services to ride over to that town, and enquire into the truth of the report, and a farmer in the village kindly lent a horse for the occasion. What were my feelings, what was my[p. 8] agony of mind during the man's absence. I wished, yet dreaded his return. At length the awful moment came; the man had found him, and seen the cockade in his hat.—I had now six children, the eldest about fourteen, the youngest a year and half old. Good God! how did every body exclaim against him! as for me I seemed for some time in a state of stupefaction, I not could not shed a tear. What a night did I pass! In the morning old Mr. W——, at the Hall, came to me, and addressed me in these very words: "So, your husband is listed for a soldier; well, let him go, for he was always a rascal to you." I thought for the instant, that, if I had Mr. W——'s whole fortune, I would freely give it for his discharge, but I dared not to tell him so. The report of my misfortunes brought several friends to me, and I was advised to place four of my children in this house, and kept the eldest, and the youngest with me at home; this advice I followed, but I have since repented that I did not come in with them all. That worthy man, the late I. C—n, esq. and my ever lamented friend, dear Miss F—n, agreed to pay my rent for me: thus I lived for two years, by industry and the frequent donations of kind friends protected from want. I should be guilty of the highest ingratitude were I not to remember, with veneration and respect, the late M—e R-ss-ll, esq. who almost en-[p. 10]tirely supported me, and the two children, during an illness of eleven weeks, which afflicted me in consequence of the perturbation of mind I had laboured under upon my husband's departure. During these two years I got my eldest girl out to service, aud took my next daughter Catharine home: but now an event occured which deprived me of every comfort, and gave me reason to reproach myself with imprudence and indiscretion. My husband obtained leave of absence, and came down to Sproughton to see me. An unfortunate visit it proved to me and the children. During his stay he incessantly importuned me to go to London, and flattered me how well we should live there, as he could throw up his pay and go to work, and how easily he could fetch the children and place them out. For some days I both chid him and absolutely rejected the proposal; but before three weeks were ended, he brought me to a compliance with his request: this was the latter end of February, and I agreed to be in town by the beginning of April. No sooner were my friends apprized of my intention, than they endeavoured to oppose it, by every argument they could employ against the absurd scheme, as some of them too justly termed it. Alas! I erred, with my eyes open. I sent the best of my goods, which were very decent, by one of the Ipswich hoys, and with my little Clara, went to town by land. As my husband knew of my going he met me, but seemed ra-[p. 10] ther cool and indifferent. This reception gave me an inexpressible shock, and to add to my mortification, I had not been two hours with him before he demanded some money. I was speechless; my foolish credulity now appeared in its true colours; he had to go upon guard that very night, and I was left with my child: the state of my mind may more easily be conceived than described! In a few days my goods came, and I was settled, as well as my own reflections, and my husband's behaviour would permit me: for I soon found that his propensity to drinking was as great as ever. On the second day of June, the dreadful riots in London broke out, and he was obliged to leave his work and return to his arms. For seven days and nights I could not learn whether he were living or dead; and when the riots were quelled, the Guards were all encamped in St. James' Park: thus was I at once deprived of all assistance from him, and exposed to the horrors of extreme poverty in the midst of strangers. I omit many unpleasant circumstances, for why should I distress you by a recital of my sufferings, when I am conscious that they were occasioned by my own reprehensible weakness? All I can urge to extenuate, or palliate my folly is, that he was my husband, and the father of my children, and that my affection for him was unbounded; and so at this time were my sorrows; and, to add to their weight, I found myself in a situation that in a few months would involve me in [p. 11] new difficulties. I think it was in the month of August that the camp broke up, and my husband returned home; but he treated me in a very unbecoming manner; his language and behaviour were intolerable! I now began seriously to consider whether I ought not to leave him, and return home: fear, and shame, alternately took possession of my heart; I had no house to go to, nor could I expect any further assistance from those who had formerly been my friends. While I continued in this painful state of suspense an incident happened which determined me at once. An uncle of my husband's, who was mate of an Ipswich vessel, called to see me; I informed him of the state of our affairs, and he, being no stranger to his nephew's manners and morals, urged me to return to Suffolk; offering to convey me, the child, and what furniture I had, in his vessel, free of expence: I thankfully accepted the offer, and began to prepare for my voyage, When my husband found that I was in earnest he seemed almost frantic; but his uncle severely reprimanded him for his conduct towards me; and, after much altercation, I was allowed to dispose of most part of my goods, as, from having been used in London, they were not fit to bring into the country. My husband went with me to the vessel, and wept most bitterly at parting; I was sensibly affected, but had suffered too severely to [p. 12] waver in my resolution. I was almost distracted about my poor children, for whom he never would entertain a thought; but if I attempted to propose any thing for their welfare, was accustomed to fly in a passion: I was therefore obliged to confine my anxiety on their account to my own bosom.
We had a pleasant passage, and my uncle set me ashore about a mile from Ipswich: I walked over Stoke-Hills; but when I came within sight of the Chauntry, good God! what were my sensations and emotions! I seated the little Clara on a bank, and placing myself near her surveyed the prospect with unutterable anguish: a torrent of repentant, but unavailing tears succeeded: I believe it was near an hour before I recovered strength and spirits to pursue my walk. I went to Sproughton, where I staid a few days, but suffered myself to be seen as little as possible; and then, without applying to any one person, came as privately as I could into this house.
It is necessary to inform you, my dear ladies, that, before I went to London, my beloved friend Miss F——n had commanded me to write to her frequently. In obedience to her order I had, from time to time, given her a faithful, though unpleasant account of my situation, and had also written to her my determination of returning into the country again. After I had [p. 13] been in the house about a month, I wrote to inform her where I was, and, to my infinite surprize, in two or three days had the delight of seeing her! She requested of the governess that I might be permitted to walk with her in the garden; and soon perceiving my situation, lamented this additional misfortune, and gave me the kindest assurances of the continuation of her friendship. Not many days after she sent her servant with a letter, and a guinea enclosed from my kind friend, and benefactor J. C——n, Esq. this was some time in October. On the 20th day of March following, about four o'clock in the morning, I was delivered of a son, and about seven of another son. For some days I was in imminent danger, but the goodness of God preserved me, and sent me unsolicited assistance. No sooner did that dear lady Miss F—— hear of my situation than she sent me an ample supply of whatever she thought might be most useful and acceptable to me. I had likewise some kind presents from other friends: thus did the Almighty provide for me, in this extremity, beyond my expectations, and, I frankly acknowledge, far beyond my deserts! I had now seven children in the house, but it pleased God to take one of the twins at fourteen weeks old, and the other in one short month after. When I had been in the house three years, my husband obtained his discharge and came to see me: he proposed taking me out of the house; but this I would[p. 14] by no means consent to, till we should have procured sufficient to furnish one room at least. In a few months, with a little money which he had earned, and some that I had saved, together with a few goods still remaining at Sproughton, I began to think that we might put our plan in execution; I accordingly agreed to go to his lodging till we should be able to procure and fit up a cottage. He received me with delight, and seemed quite happy: but short lived was the pleasure to either of us; for, that very day, he was seized with a shivering fit, which was followed by a fever of the most alarming kind: suffice it to say that I staid with him for seven weeks; during which time the Rev. Mr. G—— procured us an allowance from the house; but, as he still continued extremely bad, and my own money was nearly expended, I having the youngest child with me, I was advised to go with him into the house; this was in fact the only step I could take, and here all my prospects of comfort ended. For several weeks my husband's recovery was doubtful; a more pitiable object was never seen! it was better than half a year before he was able to go to his work again; he then went to seek employment at Sproughton, where, meeting with his old companions, he fell into his accustomed vice of drunkenness, to a greater degree than ever, and became so utterly degraded in appearance, manners, and morals, as determined me to renounce the idea of ever living with him again. [p. 15]
Thus, honored ladies, I have given you an account of an unhappy marriage for nearly forty years. I have now been upwards of twenty years secluded from the world, and have performed a severe penance for my indiscretion in leaving my comfortable cottage, and kind friends at Sproughton. You find, my dear ladies, that I have not endeavoured to exculpate myself, or to justify my proceedings: no, I stand self- convicted, self-condemned; all I can allege in my own behalf is, that I have not committed any faults of a criminal nature, and I believe I may say, without the imputation of vanity, that my conduct, during my residence in this house, has been irreproachable. I hope you will be pleased to make allowance for my many errors and bad writing; but I have been obligated to write the greater part by candle-light, as I have very little leisure by day, and the painful recollection of past scenes affected me so much in the recital, that I scarcely knew what I wrote; and as difficult a task awaits me still, that is, my dear ladies, to find words that would express my sentiments in a manner that might convince you how perfectly sensible I am of your unlimitted goodness to me, in endeavouring to render the situation I am in as comfortable as possible. What have I to give in return? Alas! only a repetition of thanks, and the feelings of a heart almost breaking with a ponderous weight of grateful sensations! to a power superior to what is mutable I must [p. 16] leave the cause in hand, well assured your reward will be such as is promised, "Come, ye blessed, inherit the kingdom prepared for you!"
You will be surprized at the prolixity I am guilty of: it has by far exceeded my intention; but one circumstance was so connected with another, and one word naturally introduced others, that I could not well avoid it: I was likewise desirous to be as explicit as possible, for the satisfaction of those among your friends, who had honored me with their enquiries. I am, Ladies, with sincere gratitude,
your obliged servant,
At the time of writing the above, Mrs. Candler had not a hope of being enabled to remove out of the house of industry; but, about eight or nine months after, several of her Poems having been read and approved, in polite and literary circles, it was suggested, by the ladies to whom her letter was addressed, that, if she could publish a small volume by subscription,[p. 17] she might raise a sum sufficient to furnish a room, and place herself, in a state of comparative happiness, near her married daughter, where she might spend the evening of her days in peace, supported by her own industry, and occasionally assisted by those friends who know, and respect, her unobtrusive good qualities. Part of this plan is already put in execution. Her friends have procured and furnished a lodging for her at Copdock, where her daughter lives, and not far from her favourite village of Sproughton, and this little volume is published under the patronage of a most respectable list of Subscribers.
THE MOTHER'S FEELINGS
LOSS OF HER CHILD .
O, GRACIOUS GOD ! I ask'd a son;--
TO A BENEVOLENT GENTLEMAN,
Being hurt by a Fall from his Horse.
ACCEPT the tribute of my rustic lays: