Tuesday 27 June 2017

A poem by H Cowlands 1880. Help to identify this man

The following letter originates from Deptford.

It dates 1880 and I believe it was sent to my Great Grandfather John Shipston or his wife Elizabeth Ball. It was in my Grandfathers collection of family letters.
I have searched all known methods of finding its author or anything about him/ Her.
I ask to post this to your readers as a last attempt to gather information on what appears to be a most colourful person. I myself live in Australia and have tried for some time now to find H. Cowlands to no avail. I understand this is an unusual request but would be ever so grateful if any hint in this letter could help me find more on the author.

It is a long and unusually written letter/ poem as you’ll see. Thank you so much, in advance for any help given to understand the town, times and the person.
Regards Harold Shipston.
Queensland Australia.

H. Cowlands poem. (transcript)


Monday, April 26th
96 years old

Dear Cousin, I am very glad,
To say, that work is not so bad.
As it was weeks ago
Perhaps now the Elections done
A better time is coming on.

Although it may come slow
I never saw in all my life
Such hot discussion, bitter strife
As in this town of late
A thousand flags there might be seen
From Deptford Broadway to the green
Of every size and shape

The Tories have got in, it’s true
Just for this Borough, but there few
Compared with liberals round
So now we hope, for better times
For more success and fewer crimes
And drink crush’d to the ground

I never want, such men to guide
Who thousands, try to lead aside
By advocating drink
It is, our national disgrace
And men, by it in every place
Are brought to ruin’s brink

But I no further, will discuss
Our politics, though all of us
In someway, are concerned
If, God but rule us we are blessed
He views the proud, and the oppressed
The ignorant, and learned.

Now, of myself a little news
I still continue making shoes
At Deptford, in High Street
Mady is my employer’s name
And he has got, a noted fame
For thousands do him greet.

His shop is full, where’ere I go
His stock is large his prices low
Not many can him beat
There’s Wellington’s likewise high lows
There’s cashmere boots and patent toes
And boots for tender feet

There’s Watertights, and bluchers too
Lace ups and balmorals on view
Slippers, and socks, as well
Look in, no matter where it be
It is astonishing, to see
The hundreds he does sell

For want of something else to do
The other day, I went to view
Blackheath, and Greenwich Park
Here on a hill with great delight
Beauties of nature, came in sight
And warmed my very heart

“Oh,” how sublime, is this thought I 
Whilst gazing at the earth, and sky
And looking, all around
How bright, and cheerful, is the spring
The birds, how happy, on the wing
There notes how sweet they sound

The river Thames, I saw below
With ships a passing, to and fro
Amidst, the Sparkling wave
How many lives, throughout the year
Thought I, do sink and perish here
And find a watery grave

Now, how are all of you at potton
Don’t think, that I, have quite forgotten
My friends, residing there
Also a few, at Gamlingay
Some, sixteen-thousand miles away
Of whom, I little hear

To Lizzy Chapman, give my love
May the have comfort, from above
From whence our blessings flow
And may her Mother daily find
That God is merciful and kind
In darkest shades of woe

To Mrs Seal, remember me
And tell her, Lucy longs to see
Her little girl and boy
And, as the future days, draw nigh
Cheerful, I hope she’ll live and die
Then enter into Joy
And then her Brother George comes next
He is a man, not often vexed
Though always very dark
Easy, and quiet, is his life
I wish his children, and his wife
Success with all my heart

And then remember our dear Mother
I really think, there’s not another
More useful, that can be
Oh, may her last days be her best
Then enter everlasting rest
And sing of victory

Another word, before I’ve done
Tell Minnie, she’s to sure and come
In the bright month of May
With us we wish for her to dwell
As many things we have to tell
So she must not delay

Now Your Dear Mother, Father too
I trust that God will bring them through
And bless their latter days
Then say Oh, “Death where is thy sting
And mount o high, to dwell and sing
A song of endless praise

And now Dear Cousin, I must close
These simple rhymes, but don’t suppose
Dear Ebins not in mind
If tis God’s will I hope that he
May be restored and happy be
And many blessings find

Good Bye dear friend. God bless you all
The weak, the strong, the great, the small
I wish you peace and love
And when your days, on earth are gone
May heaven be your eternal home
To dwell with saints above

H Cowlands