Surely I am one of the most miserable objects that ever the Lord let live!

I took a trip to London earlier in the week. It was a college trip, with the aim being to go around London on our own and gather primary research for our Final Major Projects. My project being based on faith, I chose to visit the National Gallery and St Martins in The Fields, and the techniques I’ll be focusing on being hand embroidery- I had to visit the V&A.

Before I set off I used the V&A’s brilliant website to find things to look at on my visit. Having a total adoration for samplers, I was immediately drawn to this sampler from the 19th Century. From the website, I didn’t expect much of it beyond the standard samplers. I thought it may be a bit more personal, but certainly wasn’t prepared for what I found.


It was tucked away in the corner of the textile collection room. It was hung on the wall, but it was in the dark and certainly had to be hunted out. But once you found it, what a treasue!

The piece is 1600+ words detailing a woman’s struggle with her temptation to kill herself, and what that meant in her Christian upbringing. She also tells us how people she worked for threw her down the stairs and how Christ was her salvation.

There is not one punctuation mark in the entire sampler. It’s quite a challenge to read. There’s also several spelling mistakes- but I guess that all adds to the charm? Being a total masochist, I decided to write down in a little notebook every word of the thing, so now I can tell you all, O loyal blog readers, exactly what it says.

(—-X—- is the end of a line in the original piece)

As I cannot write I put this down simply and freely as I might speak to a person whose intimacy and tenderness I can fully intrust myself and who I know will bear with all my weaknesses —-X—-I was born at Ashburnham in the county of Sussex in the year 1813 of poor but pious parents my fathers occupation was a labourer for the Rt Hon the Earl of A my mother kept the Rt Hon —-X—- the countels of A charity school and great industry were enabled to render a comfortable living for their family which were eleven in number William Samuel Mary —-X—- Edmond Jesse Elizabeth Hannah Jane George Louisa Lois endeavouring to bring us up in the fear and admonition of the Lord as far as lay in their power always giving us good advice and wishing us —-X—- to do unto others as we would they should do unto us thus our parents pointed out the way in which we were to incounter with this world wishing us at all times to put our trust in God to —-X—-
walk in the paths of virtue to bear up under all the trials of this life even till time with us should end But at the early age of thirteen I left my parents to go and live with Mr and Mrs P to —-X—- nurse the children which had taken my fathers and mothers advice might have remained in peace until this day but like many others not knowing when I was well of in fourteen months I left —-X—- then for which my friends greatly blamed me then I went straight to Fairlight housemaid to lieut Q but there cruel usage soon made me curse my disobedience to my parents wishing I had taken —-X—- there advice and never left the worthy family of P but then alas to late they treated me with cruelty to horrible to mention for trying to avoid the wicked design of my master I was thrown —-X—- down stairs but I very soon left them and came to my friends but being young and foolish I never told my friends what had happened to me they thinking I had had a good place and good —-X—- usage because I never told them to the contrary they blamed my temper then I went to live with Col P Catsfield kitchenmaid where I was well of but there my memory failed me and my —-X—- reason was taken from me but the worthy lady my mistress took great care of me and placed me in the care of my parents and sent for Dr W. who soon brought me to know that I was —-X—- wrong for coming to me one day and finding me persisting against my mother for I had fosaken her advice to follow the works of darkness for I acknowledge being guilty of the great sin —-X—- of self destruction which I certainly should have done had it not been for the words of that worthy gentleman Dr W. who came to me in the year 1829 he said unto me Elizabeth I understand —-X—- you are guilty of saying you shall destroy yourself but never do that for remember Elizabeth if you do when you come before that great god who is so good to you he will say unto you —-X—- thou hast taken that life that I gave to you depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels for the impression it has made on my mind no tongue can —-X—- tell depart from me ye cursed but let me never hear those words pronounced by thee O Lord for surely I never felt such impressions of awe striking cold upon my breast as I felt when Dr —-X—- W said so to me but O with what horror would those words pierce my heart to hear them pronounced by an offended God but my views of things have been for sometime very different —-X—- from what they were when they first came home I have seen and felt the vanity of childhood and youth and above all I have felt the stings of a guilty conscience for the great disobedience —-X—- to my parents in not taking their advice wherewith the Lord has seen fit to visit me with this affliction but my affliction is a light affliction to what I have deserved but the Lord has —-X—- been very merciful unto me for he has not cut me of in my sins but he has given me the space for repentance for blessed be God my frequent schemes for destroying myself were all —-X—- most all defeated but O the dreadful powerful force of temptation for being much better I went to stay with Mrs Welham she being gone out one day and left me alone soon after —-X—- she was gone I thought within myself surely I am one of the most miserable objects that ever the lord let live surely never no one had such thoughts as me against the Lord and I —-X—- arose from my seat to go into the bedroom and as I was going I thought within myself ah me I will retire into the most remotest part of the wood and there execute my design and that —-X—- design was that willful design of self destruction but the Lord was pleased to stop me on this mad career for seeing the bible lay upon my shelf I took it down and opened it and the first —-X—- place that I found was the fourth chapeter of S. Luke were it tells us how our blessed lord was tempted of Satan I read it and it seemed to give me some relief for now and not till —-X—- now I have been convinced of my lost and sinful state not till now I have seen what a miserable condition I have brought myself into by my sins for now do I see see myself lost and and undone —-X—- forever undone unless the lord do take pity of me and help me out of this miserable condition but the only object I have now in view is that of approaching death but I feel assured —-X—- but sooner or later I must die and Oh but after death I must come to judgement what can I do to be saved what can I do to be saved from the wrath of that god which my —-X—- sins have deserved which way can I turn O wither must I flee to find the Lord wretch wretch that I am who shall deliver me from the body of this death that I have been —-X—- seeking what will become of me ah me me what will become of me when I come to die and kneel before the Lord my maker oh with what context can I approach the mercy —-X—- seat of God oh with what confidence can I approach it and with what words must I chuse to address the Lord my maker pardon mine iniquity pardon mine iniquity O lord to —-X—- it is great oh how great is thy mercy oh thou most merciful Lord for thou knowest even the secret desires of me thine and worthy servant Oh Lord I pray the look down with an —-X—- eye of pity upon me and I pray that the turn my wicked heart day and night have I cried unto the lord to turn my wicked heart the lord has heard my prayer the lord has given —-X—- heed for my complaint for as long as life extends extends hope blest dominion never ends for while the lamp holds onto burn the greatest sinner may return life is the season —-X—- God has given to fly from hell to rise to heaven the day of grace flees fast away there is none its rapid course can stay the living know that they must die but ah the dead —-X—- forgotten lie their memory and their name is gone they are alike unknowing and unknown their hatred and their love is lost their envies buried into the dust by the will of God ah —-X—- all the things done beneath the circuit of the sun therefore O Lord take pity on me I pray whenever my thoughts do from the stray and lead me Lord to thy blest fold that I thy —-X—- Glory may behold grant Lord that I soon may behold the not as my judge to condemn and punish me as my father to pity and restore me for I know with the O Lord no- —-X—- thing is impossible thou can if thou wilt restore my bodily health and set me free from sin and misery for since my earthly physician has said he can do no more for me in the will —-X—- I put my trust O blessed Jesus grant that I may never more offend the or provoke the to last me of in thy displeasure forgive as my sins my folly cure grant me the help I need —-X—- and then although I am mean and poor I shall be rich indeed Lord Jesus have mercy upon me take me O Kind Shepherd take me a poor wandering sinner to thy Fold thou art Lord —-X—- of all things death itself is put under thy feet O Lord save me lest I fall from thee never to rise again O God keep me from all evil thoughts the little hope I feel that I shall obtain —-X—- mercy gives a happiness to which more of the pleasured of sin can ever be compared I never knew anything like happiness till now O that I may but be saved on the day of judge- —-X—- ment God be merciful to me a sinner but Oh how can I expect mercy who went on in sin until Dr W. remind me of my wickedness for which shame I own I returned to thee O —-X—- God because I had nowhere else to go how can such repentance as mine be sincere what will become of my soul.


9 Responses to “Surely I am one of the most miserable objects that ever the Lord let live!”

  1. beefranck Says:

    This is amazing. Thank you so much for sharing it AND taking the time to write it all down so you could share the text with us!

  2. mrxstitch Says:

    I’ll echo what Beefranck said. A Herculean task and a really nice thing of you to do.
    And what depressing content..!

  3. foobella Says:

    That’s the most amazingly heartbreaking thing I’ve ever seen. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  4. rayna Says:

    Wow you’ve seen this in real life! I’ve seen it in books and it’s one of my all time fav pieces.

    wow, envy, wow

  5. Victoria Says:

    Bravo, Bravo YOU!!! (such a lovely gift to give us) many thanks! victoria

  6. Hinke Says:

    While typing the sampler’s text – from a book i bought in the V&A – i thought let’s see what there is to find about it and stumbled upon your blog entry. Guess i now wont have to type it anymore but being just as masochistic as you i will anyway 🙂

    Anyway, i agree the sampler and it’s contents are awesome and very moving!

  7. Sally Says:

    I saw this sampler in 2003 and was also fascinated – I photographed ot and transcribed it also. She says she was ‘trying to avoid the wicked design of my master’ when she was throw down the stairs – which hints at a more sinister problem than mere physical brutality. Also the end of the piece makes it look quite unfinished – you have added a full stop but in truth it ends in the middle of a line so one wonder whether she did in fact commit suicide.

  8. mylittlestitches Says:

    No, I think it is finished. She doesn’t use punctuation throughout the entire piece so who is to say she should use it at the end. The V&A state that records suggest she grew old as a nurse, I think, in Ashburnham. I expect this embroidery was cathartic enough for her to not need to take such a drastic measure in the end.

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