Miss Sarah Myra Gardiner*

FLIRTILLA, born to dress and dance,
To catch the roving eye,
Seems more and more, as years advance;
A trifling butterfly;
Can I rejoice on her birthday ?
I see more cause to weep
For her who only lives to play,
And laugh, and eat, and sleep.

Unmindful of the gracious pow'r,
Who gave her life and breath,
She wastes in folly every hour,
Nor thinks at all of death,
Her wishes all confin'd to earth,
Sad scene of sin and thrall,
I cannot celebrate her birth,
Why was she born at all.

The little birds may well look gay,
And spread their plumes and sing,
They neither fear a future day,
Nor feel remorse’s sting,
But oft her joys are overcast,
By a distressing gloom,
She dares not think of what is past,
Much less of what's to come.

But Myra is a child of pray'r,
And from her early youth,
Taught by a tender parent's care,
To hear the voice of truth ;
For you I think upon this morn
With pleasure, not with pain,
Trusting that as you once were born,
You shall be born again.

Dear Myra hear the Saviour speak,
He speaks this day to thee,
Renounce the world, (he says) and seek
Your happiness in me;
The world will flattering baits present,
But 'tis delusion all,
And you can only find content,
By yielding to my call.

Devote to me your early days,
Can you too soon be blest,
And I will guide you by my grace,
To an eternal rest;
The object of my care and love,
You then shall walk in peace,
And rise to higher joys above;
When this frail life shall cease.
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* Sarah Myra Gardiner became the wife of John Newton's nephew Benjamin Nind. Newton married them at St George's in the Borough (St George the Martyr, Southwark).

[Flirtilla’s character is drawn from many similar analogies e.g. Samuel Johnson’s Journal, Roger’s comic opera ‘The guardian outwitted’, Elizabeth Bentley’s poem ‘Henry and Anna’, Benjamin Stillingfleet , etc]

Marylynn Rouse, 23/01/2014