Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Trifling Specimens

Susanna Moodie to the Editor of the Albion, New York

Upper Canada
February 14th, 1833.


The pleasure I derived from the perusal of several of the last numbers of your clever and interesting paper, has made me ambitious, of the honour of contributing to its pages; and if the assistance of a pen, deemed not unworthy of public notice in my native land, when held by Susanna Strickland, can in any way be acceptable to you, and your readers, it will afford me much pleasure to transmit to you, from time to time, a few small original poems.

I now enclose the first flight* of my muse on Canadian shores. But the chilly atmosphere, at present, is little favourable to the spirit of Poesy. The minds of the inhabitants being too much engrossed, in providing their families the necessaries of life, to pay much attention to the cultivation of literature. However mortifying to the vanity of an Author, this indifference may be, it would be unjust to censure my fellow settlers for suffering more urgent and important duties to render them deaf to the voice of the syren, whose wild flights and vagaries have charmed me from my youth upwards. The close confinement of a log cabin, and the cares of a family, though they engross much of my time, have not been able to chill those inspirations, which in my own beautiful and beloved land were a never failing source of amusement and delight. The little sympathy which such feelings can meet with, in a new colony, where every energy of the mind is employed to accumulate wealth, has made me anxious to seek a more liberal channel of communication with the public, and I know no one to whom I can better apply than to the Editor of a Journal, which finds its way into the study of every respectable family on this side of the Atlantic, and is not inferior in literary merit, to any publication of the same class in Great Britain.

Should the trifling specimens* enclosed meet with your approbation and be deemed worthy of insertion in the Albion, they are at your service.

I remain, Sir, Yours respectfully,
Susanna Moodie

*Song: The Strains We Hear in Foreign Lands and Sleigh Bells: A Canadian Song. These poems were published in the Albion in March of that year, though under the incorrect name of Agnes Strickland, her rather more well known sister back in England. A correction later followed. The poems were later published with many others, in her memoir, Roughing it in the Bush, or Life in Canada(1852).

--from Susanna Moodie: Letters of a Lifetime edited by Carl Ballstadt, Elizabeth Hopkins, and Michael Peterman. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1993) p. 90.

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