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A Friendly Address To Mrs. Fry In Newgate
by [?]


“Sermons in stones.”–As You Like It.
“Out! out! damned spot!”–Macbeth.

[Note 21: Elizabeth Fry had set up her school for the children in Newgate as early as 1817. Moll Brazen, Suky Tawdry, Jenny Diver, and the rest, are names borrowed from Gay’s Beggars’ Opera.]

I.

I like you, Mrs. Fry! I like your name!
It speaks the very warmth you feel in pressing
In daily act round Charity’s great flame–
I like the crisp Browne way you have of dressing,
Good Mrs. Fry! I like the placid claim
You make to Christianity,–professing
Love, and good works–of course you buy of Barton,
Beside the young Fry’s bookseller, Friend Darton!

II.

I like, good Mrs. Fry, your brethren mute–
Those serious, solemn gentlemen that sport–
I should have said, that wear, the sober suit
Shap’d like a court dress–but for heaven’s court.
I like your sisters too,–sweet Rachel’s fruit–
Protestant nuns! I like their stiff support
Of virtue–and I like to see them clad
With such a difference–just like good from bad!

III.

I like the sober colors–not the wet;
Those gaudy manufactures of the rainbow–
Green, orange, crimson, purple, violet–
In which the fair, the flirting, and the vain, go–
The others are a chaste, severer set,
In which the good, the pious, and the plain, go–
They’re moral standards, to know Christians by–
In short, they are your colors, Mrs. Fry!

IV.

As for the naughty tinges of the prism–
Crimson’s the cruel uniform of war–
Blue–hue of brimstone! minds no catechism;
And green is young and gay–not noted for
Goodness, or gravity, or quietism,
Till it is sadden’d down to tea-green, or
Olive–and purple’s giv’n to wine, I guess;
And yellow is a convict by its dress!

V.

They’re all the devil’s liveries, that men
And women wear in servitude to sin–
But how will they come off, poor motleys, when
Sin’s wages are paid down, and they stand in
The Evil presence? You and I know, then,
How all the party colors will begin
To part–the Pittite hues will sadden there,
Whereas the Foxite shades will all show fair!

VI.

Witness their goodly labors one by one!
Russet makes garments for the needy poor–
Dove-color preaches love to all–and dun
Calls every day at Charity’s street door–
Brown studies scripture, and bids woman shun
All gaudy furnishing–olive doth pour
Oil into wounds: and drab and slate supply
Scholar and book in Newgate, Mrs. Fry!

VII.

Well! Heaven forbid that I should discommend
The gratis, charitable, jail-endeavor!
When all persuasions in your praises blend–
The Methodist’s creed and cry are, Fry forever!
No–I will be your friend–and, like a friend,
Point out your very worst defect–Nay, never
Start at that word! But I must ask you why
You keep your school in Newgate, Mrs. Fry?

VIII.

Top well I know the price our mother Eve
Paid for her schooling: but must all her daughters
Commit a petty larceny, and thieve–
Pay down a crime for “entrance” to your “quarters”?
Your classes may increase, but I must grieve
Over your pupils at their bread and waters!
Oh, tho’ it cost you rent–(and rooms run high)
Keep your school
out of Newgate, Mrs. Fry!

IX.

O save the vulgar soul before it’s spoil’d!
Set up your mounted sign without the gate–
And there inform the mind before ’tis soil’d!
‘Tis sorry writing on a greasy slate!
Nay, if you would not have your labors foil’d,
Take it inclining tow’rds a virtuous state,
Not prostrate and laid flat–else, woman meek!
The upright pencil will but hop and shriek!