"'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,
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
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
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