Alice Bemis Taylor Collection: Ann Yearsley transcription
Letter from Ann Yearsley to Hannah More in the Alice Bemis Taylor Collection
Transcription by Kerri Andrews, 2008, with help from Frank Felsenstein, John Goodridge, Tim Burke and David Fairer.
Please note: The ink for the date and the underlining of “Miss More” and “bare” is a different, much darker, ink than in the majority of the letter. The question mark is also an annotation; the breadth of the nib’s stroke would appear to be similar to that of the pen that underlined the words ‘Miss More’. It is possible that these annotations were made by Hannah More.
Septr the 13 1785 569
I shall begin by avowing what my feelings will never allow me to be insensible of; your goodness in protecting my publication; had your subsequent Conduct proved that protection had arisen from the humanity my situation and the distresses of my family naturaly would awaken in the breast of a Woman sensible of the feelings of a mother and concious [sic] of the charms of having dependants; my Gratitude would have known no bounds, to have ones children dependant on us is a natural desire; it is a laudable one; to usurp that power over individuals either by imposing on their Generosity or Ignorance, is most degrading;
I wish’d not for money but to enable me to bring up my children in Comfort and improvement and had you been actuated by a disinterested desire to [second?] my wishes, my sense of your benevolence Could never have been erased, but your late treatment has set a narrow bounds to my Gratitude, which Cannot be avowd for favours these Circumstances Convince me arrose [sic] more from your vanity than Generosity you tax me with ingratitude, you reproch [sic] me with obligation; for why? 208 you found me poor yet proud, if it can be calld pride to feel too much humbled by certain obligations and above submitting to servility
You helpd to place me in the public eye; my success you think beyond my abilities; and purely arising from your protection; I wish not to lessen your favours; but granting this to your vanity; surely mine does not Soar in thinking the Singularity of my situation would have secured me some success; this will soon be tried.
And let me ask you what I have gaind by your professt friendship? I find myself deprived of the money which my poems and the torturing tale of my distress have raised; my feelings and gratitude is traduced but the public may yet discover my depressd Situation.
I wish not to squander the money my every hope of future pleasure this side eternity; Centers in my Children; but I wish not to divest myself either of the pleasure or Right I have by nature; and I repeat it, as the money was Collected in my name and for the purpose of relieving My Childrens wants; the right was mine to Educate and set them in life as their dispositions may in future determine; the public generously intended the money for this benevolent purpose and I cannot think it ingratitude to disown as obligation a proceeding which must render [my surviving?] Children [word unclear] your poor dependants forever; I have trusted more to your probity than the event justifies; you have led me to sign a settlement which defrauds me and my family of our right (and make it if ever receiv’d your peculiar Gift,( [sic] you are too sensible there is no fund specified where it is placed nor do I know how it is disposed of, there is no time assign’d when my Children shall call it out:) your bankruptcy or Death may lose it forever, and let me ask you Miss More what security you have ever Given my Children whereby they may prove their future Claim:? I am sorry remonstrance should be needful, or your motives left bare to doubt or Suspicion.
My mind is haughty, but too justly so not to glory in being ever grateful for obligation it Could stoop to recieve [sic] if I have misjudgd your Conduct; ’tis yours to Confute my opinions; it depends on this, my raising a monument in my second publication either to your Just or unjust proceeding; the choice be yours ______
I am yr humble servant