On 5 January, as temperatures dived, London Mayor Sadiq Khan opened emergency homeless shelters. That and the research I have recently completed on women who were abandoned by their lovers, cast out of their homes and ostracised by their families after falling pregnant put me in mind of this print from 1804.
THE NEGLECTED DAUGHTER — AN AFFECTING TALE
‘Twas on a winter’s evening & fast came down the snow,
And keenly o’er the wide heath the bitter wind did blow,
When a damsel all forlorn, quite bewilder’d in her way,
Press’d her baby to her bosom, & sadly thus did say.
Ah! cruel was my father that shut his door on me,
And cruel was my mother that such a sight could see,
Cruel is the winter’s blast, that chills my heart with cold,
But crueller than all the lad that left my love for gold.
The hush my dearest baby & warm thee in my breast,
Ah! little thinks thy father how sadly we’re distress’d,
For cruel as he isdid he know but how we fare
He’s shield us in his arms from this bitter piercing air.
Hush! hush! my dearest baby, thy little life is gone,
Ah! let my tears revive thee, so warm they trickle down,
The tears that gush so warmly, they freeze before they fall,
Ah! wretched wretched mother, thou’rt now bereft of all.
The down she sunk dispairing upon the drifted snow,
And wrung with cruel anguish lamented thus her woe,
She kiss’d her baby’s pale lips, & laid it by her side,
Then cast her eyes to heav’n, & bow’d her head, & died.
Publish’d July 2 1804 by LAURIE & WHITTLE, 53 Fleet Street, London