[Sir Henry Taylor's 'peculiarly severe' poem on Caroline Norton.] Autograph Manuscript of untitled poem beginning 'Soft be the voice & friendly that rebukes | The error of thy way'.

Sir Henry Taylor (1800-1886), poet and dramatist, civil servant at the Colonial Office [Caroline Norton (1808-1877), social reformer and fighter for women's rights]
Publication details: 
Without place or date. [Circa 1847.]
SKU: 21379

2pp, 12mo. On a bifolium of grey laid paper, with fleur-de-lys 'J M & Co' watermark. In good condition, lightly aged, with creases from having been neatly folded three times, and stub adhering to edge of blank second leaf of bifolium. The item derives from the collection of a notable nineteenth-century autograph collector, Lord Houghton, a friend of both Taylor and Norton. A twenty-four line poem in six stanzas, the first of which reads: 'Soft be the voice & friendly that rebukes | The error of thy way, | For sickness hath the summer of thy looks | Touched with decay.' The poem appeared (titled '”Soft be the voice”') on pp.32-33 of Taylor's 'The Eve of Conquest, and other Poems' (1847). The present manuscript differs from the published version only in accidentals, with the sole exception of the phrase 'Men's minds' here in the penultimate stanza, which in the published version is 'The minds of men'. Mrs C. W. Earle reprints the poem in her 'Memoirs and Memories' (1911), recalling that 'Sir Henry Taylor was an ardent worshipper [of Norton] in his youth, and in my earliest note-book I have the copy of a poem he addressed to her after illness, though whether he showed the lines to her or not, I do not know. My mother used to laugh at them and say they were peculiarly severe for an admirer to have addressed to his friend.'