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Alfred H. Miles, ed. The Sacred Poets of the Nineteenth Century. 1907.

By Critical and Biographical Essay by Alfred H. Miles

Adelaide Anne Procter (1825–1864)

ADELAIDE ANNE PROCTER (1825–1864) was born in Bedford Square, London, on the 30th of October, 1825. Her father, Bryan Waller Procter, better known to many by his nom de plume Barry Cornwall, himself a writer of classic verse, was for many years the centre of a choice literary circle, which included many of the leading writers of his time; his daughter’s literary aspirations therefore may be said to have been set from the first in congenial surroundings. Her love for poetry early manifested itself first in fondness for that of others, and afterwards in the composition of original verse, though it was not until the year 1853 that she offered some of her poems for publication. These were sent under the assumed name Mary Berwick to Charles Dickens, who inserted them in Household Words. Dickens was a friend of Barry Cornwall’s, and had known Adelaide Procter all her life; and it is a proof of the modest sincerity of her character that she did not take advantage of her personal knowledge of Charles Dickens, but sent her verses incognito to be judged on their merits by the Editor of Household Words. Adelaide Procter’s general verse is represented in the volume of The Poets and the Poetry of the Century which is devoted to the Women Poets, and there examples of her lyrical and narrative poetry are given with a critical introduction from the pen of Mr. H. J. Gibbs. Here it is her devotional verse which calls for representation, and of this one example will suffice. Though all of Adelaide Procter’s poems are characterised by an earnestness of purpose which gives them a religious tone, her actual output of definitely religious verse is very small. The poem “Thankfulness,” quoted below, has, however, given voice to the religious feelings of so many that it certainly deserves a place in any collection of the religious poetry of the time. Much of Adelaide Procter’s poetry was “made perfect through suffering,” and in these lines she shows herself to have attained to a rare standard of Christian faith and culture. She died on the 2nd of February, 1864.