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Mary Cockle: “Elegy to the Memory of Miss Anna Maria Porter, Address’d to my dear friend, Jane Porter,” 22 July 1833, Wangford, Suffolk.


   Written by hand and sent via the Southwold Penny Post, Mary Cockle’s elegy to Anna Maria Porter requests of Jane to accept her condolences, “the offering of long + sincere affection for yourself and of lamenting Ffriendship for her__ yet surely it is not for her we should grieve but for ourselves__.” Of Anna Maria, she writes:


Her’s pure Benevolence, whose hidden source,

Gave like the Nile, its fertilizing course,

Tho’ veil’d the spring from whence its waters flow’d,

Now seen, the hand which Pity’s boon bestow’d.


Thy greathest attributes Humanity, Taught her that full diffusive charity.

Which in its golden Chain united bound,

Earth’s suffering Children wheresoever found_

And with that open hand bade Hope impart,

A heavenly balm to heal the wounded Heart.


  Poet of such notable works as Important Studies for the Female Sex, National Triumphs (1814), Lines of the Lamented Death of Sir John Moore (1810) and An Elegy on the Death of His Late Majesty George the Third (1820), Mary Cockle seems to also have been, like Reverend Francis Stainforth, an avid collector. She served as governess to the misses FitzClarence, daughters of William, duke of Clarence (later William IV (1765-1837) and actress and poet Dorothy Jordan (1761-1816), offspring of a long-lived affair that produced five daughters and five sons (ODNB; Jackson, 64). It may have been through her proximity to power as governess to the FitzClarences that Cockle was able to collect the autographs of leading political (Ben Franklin), ecclesiastical (Edward Venables Vernon Harcourt, Archbishop of York) and literary figures (Lord Byron) of her day. Cockle’s collection of autographs and letters, now held in the British Library, include correspondence from fellow poets Jane and Anna Maria Porter; that from Anna Maria was, like Mary Cockle’s letter here on display, accompanied by verses ( BL Add. 18204).


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