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TABLE OF CONTENTS.

[Ed.—Lithgow provided neither a Table of Contents nor an Index to his biography.]

PREFACE

CHAPTER I.

What is genius?—the Prince family—Childhood years—Self-education—Reed-maker's apprentice—Employment in Manchester—Country rambles—Removal to Hyde—Marriage to Ann Orme—Children—Fruitless search for work in Europe—Destitution—Return to England—Hardship on the journey home—The Wigan Poorhouse—A garret in Manchester—Return to Hyde—Return to reed-making—Employment as a warehouseman—First literary acquaintances—Early poems—"Hours with the Muses"—An evaluation of Prince.

CHAPTER II.

Return to Manchester—Bookshop proprietor—Publishes "Hours with the Muses"—"A complete success"—Six editions: publication in America—Critical review—Conclusions: strengths and weaknesses in Prince's verse.

CHAPTER III.

Fame and recognition—Physical and personal description—Correspondence with Charles Davlin—Chartism and Socialism—William Earnshaw: the Sun Inn—Daughters' educations neglected—Prince the singer—Poetry competition: Samuel Bamford a judge—On first meeting Prince—The Poets' Corner—The Oddfellows—The Literary Association—A 'poetical soiree', 1842—Reflections on Rogerson, Bamford, Rose and others—Visit to Sheffield: Ebenezer Elliott—The Great Bazaar: the Anti-Corn Law League, 1842—A growing victim of flattery.

CHAPTER IV.

George Falkner: Bradshaw's Journal—'Rambles of a Rhymster': a journey through England—Shakespeare's grave—Return home—A journey through N. Wales—Ascent of Snowden—Through the Midlands to London—'Government appointment': a 'postman' at Southampton—Disappointment and humiliation—A return to reed-making—Sir Robert Peel: a grant of £50—Removal to Ashton-under-Lyne—Meeting with Messrs Brooks—Ascent of Oldermann and 'three beautiful sonnets'—Hardship: a further grant—Copyright: 'Hours with the Muses'—Illness—New poetry collection abandoned—Editorship of the 'Ancient Shepherds' Quarterly Magazine' (at £12p.a.)—'The Poetic Rosary'—Country rambles and renewed expression.

CHAPTER V.

Letter to 'The Courier': neglect of literary men—Comittee formed: appeal on behalf of Prince—Prince's intemperance recognised—'Signs the pledge', then lapses—Hugh Hutton's readings promote wider knowledge of Prince's poems—Appeal raises little money—Prince's behaviour alienates well-wishers—'Peoples' edition' of 'Hours with the Muses' published—'Dreams and Realities' published: limited success—Unemployed: dependant on sales of 'Dreams and Realities'—Circumstances worsen—"Too busy with poverty for the business of poetry"—Further edition of  'Dreams and Realities'—'The Poetic Rosary' (dedicated to Dickens) published, with little success—Prince's possessions 'sold up' for debt—Moves in with married daughter—First indication of eye problems—'Shepherds' Quarterly Magazine'—Prince the essayist.

CHAPTER VI.

1850 (and 51) Prince a pauper—Manchester Athenæum Bazaar (1850)—William Charles Macready—Removal to Blackburn: reed-making—The Preston Guardian—Return to Ashton (1854)—Father's death, and that of a daughter—'The Lost One': a poem on bereavement—Bury: Prince meets 'pen-friend', George Markham Tweddell—Last letter to Tweddle: 'Autumn Leaves' first mentioned—A sonnet to Tweddle, and one in return—Mechanisation rendering obsolete reed-making—Attempts for literary work, loans and donations—Prince takes on his father's reed-making business—'Autumn Leaves' published: appraisal—Begging letters.

CHAPTER VII.

Temporary employment in Backburn—Opening of the Blackburn Royal Infirmary—Failing health—An itinerant life—Meets second wife—Reduced to writing advertising ditties—Intemperance alienates well-wishers—Prince's final collection, 'Miscellaneous Poems': Appraisal—Deteriorating health—Second marriage—Suffers a stroke: a partial recovery—The muse deserts Prince—Hardships of the 'Cotton Famine'—Near starvation—Working life ends: dependant on charity—His final walk—Confined to bed—Death: burial and memorial stone—Tributes from Laycock and Waugh—Conclusion.

_____________________

 

"'I might have been'—oh! sad suggestive words!
     So full of hidden meaning, yet so vain!
 How sadly do they sound on memory's chords,
     And waken feelings of regretful pain!
 I might have been a wiser, better man,
     With signs of well-won honour on my brow,
 Had I adhered to Nature's simple plan,
     Or reasoned with myself, as I do now.
 True that my life has been with ills beset,
     Early neglect, and poverty, and gloom,
 Within whose shades—how well remembered yet!
     My mind found neither sustenance nor room;
 Yet, with instinctive longing for the right,
 It sought for fitting food, and struggled towards the light."


J. C. P.

Printed by R. & R. CLARK, Edinburgh.

 

PREFACE.


ALTHOUGH the subject of the following memoir achieved exceptional success as a local poet, yet the fact of his several volumes of poems having been published by means of subscription shows that he was by no means exempt from the restrictions of provincial authorship, especially at a time when the energies of publishers were concentrated in a smaller area than would be compatible with the zeal and enterprise of modern times.

    Since the death of Prince, in 1866, the advisability of publishing a biography of the ill-starred poet, in connection with a complete re-issue of his works, has been frequently contemplated and discussed; but, unfortunately, any plans or suggestions that have been considered, have hitherto been unfulfilled.  A few introductory observations, as to the circumstances which induced the present writer to undertake the task, may not be deemed unnecessary or obtrusive.

    In the year 1870 I accidentally became the possessor of a copy of "Hours with the Muses," and having read with much interest the brief biographical sketch with which the work was prefaced, and afterwards carefully perused the work itself, a feeling of sympathy and affection for the gifted but unfortunate author was generated, which time and a more careful study of his life and works have but served to develop and intensify.

    As I had from time to time found that copies of Prince's works were very scarce, and feeling assured that the sweetness, moral fervour, and dignified teaching of his poetry only required to be more widely known in order to be more appreciated, I ventured to draw attention to the matter by publishing a few remarks on his life and works in the pages of a popular magazine.  The result more than justified my expectations, as I almost immediately received many letters and other papers from friends of the poet, and admirers of his genius.  Thus encouraged, I put myself in communication with Messrs. Abel Heywood and Son, of Manchester, offering to do what I could to preserve the memory of Prince, and to raise his name into its true place in the literature of our country; when, with commendable spirit, they agreed to publish a re-issue of the poet's works, with an accompanying biography, which I had offered respectively to edit and compile.

    For many reasons—not the least of which have been the ever-recurring duties of active professional life—my task, albeit self-imposed, has been a laborious one, but, from first to last, it has been "a labour of love;" and if I have not succeeded as well as I might, I have, at least, done the best I could in trying to rescue from oblivion the name and works of one who has shed lustre on the class to which he belonged, and who has therefore won the right to have both recorded in the literary annals of our country.

    In expressing my sincere thanks to the numerous correspondents who have favoured me with information, I can only say that, without their valuable aid the present memoir could not have been written, as I have been almost entirely dependent upon them for the facts recorded in the following pages.

    My heartiest and especial thanks are due to Mr. George Falkner of Manchester, the friend of the poet through weal and woe, and whose record of personal reminiscences of Prince adds special interest to this memoir.  To his unvarying kindness, zealous co-operation, and judicious counsel, I owe more than can be here publicly expressed.

    Amongst other esteemed Manchester correspondents, my grateful acknowledgments are due to Messrs. J. E. Bailey, F.S.A., James Dawson junior, Edwin Waugh, R. C. Alcock, R. W. Procter, George Richardson, John Hyde, F.R.S.L., C. Hardwick, George Harrison, etc.  Also to Mrs. George Linnæus Banks, and Messrs. Frederick Enoch, and L. C. Gent of London; Mr. John Ross Coulthart, and Mr. John Brooks of Ashton-under-Lyne; the Messrs. Baron, and Mr. Graham of Blackburn; Dr. Spencer T. Hall of Burnley; Mr. Joseph Ogden of Hyde; Mr. W. Syms of Bamber Bridge; Mr. Joseph Baron of Blackpool; Mr. George Markham Tweddell, F.S.A., etc., of Stokesley; Mr. James Travis of Pant-y-Tan; Mr. Joseph Williamson of Dukinfield, etc. etc.

    I must also express my obligations to Messrs. Abel Heywood and Son, the publishers, who have taken the warmest interest in the progress of the work, and have spared neither trouble nor expense in its production.


THE NORTH BRINK, WISBECH, CAMBS.
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