Joseph Mallord William Turner

Inscription by Turner: Draft of Poetry


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Pen and ink on paper
Support: 75 × 117 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXXIII 35 a

Catalogue entry

The whole page is taken up with the following lines of verse:
Peaceful the streams lave now the [?unbounded] hills
No warlike clans of hostile armies thrill
The timorous female with dire alarms
Or tears [‘calls’ inserted below] a faithful [‘vassal’ inserted below] husband from her arms
Now roams the native oer the wide domain
No feudal [?classes] [‘rights’ inserted below] demands or claims
The recompence of labours all his own
Content and pleasure crown his humble home
That by the prattling murmur of the rill
Which rushing onwards feeds the malty mill1
Interspersed with drawings and the printed pages of Coltman’s British Itinerary, sixty-nine pages of this sketchbook are given over wholly or partly to these verses which Turner intended as a commentary for publication with the Picturesque Views on the Southern Coast of England which he sketched on the 1811 West Country tour (see the introduction to the sketchbook). The first lines are on folio 18 verso (D08396), and the last on folio 207 verso (D08736; CXXIII 204a).
The previous passage, on folio 33 verso (D08424), focused on medieval Old Sarum, Wiltshire, leading to Turner’s contrasting here of former feudal society with the comparative social freedom of his own times, as noted by Andrew Kennedy.2 The next passage, on folio 38 verso (D08434), concludes the Old Sarum section with a couplet leading into a new section which lacks a specific geographical basis.

Matthew Imms
June 2011

See Wilton and Turner 1990, p.170 (transcription, followed here with slight variations); previously transcribed with variations in Thornbury 1862, II, p.19 and 1897, pp.207–8; Lindsay 1966, p.137, gives line seven only, quoted as if continuing directly to line one on folio 28 verso (D08414).
See Kennedy 2001, p.[278].

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