"Oh nature!--oh heart!--why does the voice of distress so forcibly knock at the door of hearts?"

— Sancho, Charles Ignatius (1729-1780)

Place of Publication
Printed by J. Nichols
"Oh nature!--oh heart!--why does the voice of distress so forcibly knock at the door of hearts?"
Metaphor in Context
[...] For your letter, thanks--it should have come sooner--better late, &c. &c.--What have I to do with your good or evil fortune--health or sickness--weal or woe?--I am resolved, from henceforth, to banish feelings--Misanthrope from head to foot!--Apropos--not five minutes since I was interrupted, in this same letter of letters, by a pleasant affair--to a man of no feelings.--A fellow bolted into the shop--with a countenance in which grief and fear struggled for mastery.--"Did you see any body go to my cart, Sir?"--"No, friend, how should I? you see I am writing--and how should I be able to see your cart or you either in the dark?"--"Lord in heaven pity me! cries the man, what shall I do? oh! what shall I do?--I am undone!--Good God!--I did but go into the court here--with a trunk for the lady at Captain G----'s (I had two to deliver) and somebody has stole the other;--what shall I do?--what shall I do?"--"Zounds, man!--who ever left their cart in the night with goods in it, without leaving some one to watch?"--"Alack, Sir, I left a boy, and told him I would give him something to stand by the cart, and the boy and trunk are both gone!"--Oh nature!--oh heart!--why does the voice of distress so forcibly knock at the door of hearts?--but to hint to pride and avarice--our common kindred--and to alarm self-love.--Mark, I do think, and will maintain it--that self-love alone--if rightly understood, would make man all that a dying Redeemer wills he should be.--But this same stolen trunk;--the ladies are just gone out of my shop--they have been here holding a council--upon law and advertisements;--God help them!--they could not have come to a worse--nor could they have found a stupider or sorrier adviser:--the trunk was seen parding between two in the Park--and I dare say the contents by this time are pretty well gutted.--Last Sunday I met, coming from church, Mr. C----; he looks well, better than when you left him.--I took occasion, as we were prating about and about your worship--to pin Mr. de Groote's interest upon the skirts of his feelings;--he desired, when I saw him next, I would send him into Crown-street--which I religiously performed--but have not seen Mr. de Groote since;--in truth, there is (despight of his nose) so much of the remains of better times--somewhat of the gentleman and artist in ruins--something creative of reverence as well as pity--that I have wished to do more than I ought--though at the same time too little for such a being to receive--without insult from the hands of a poor negroe--(pooh, I do not care for your prancings, I can see you at this distance);--we have agreed upon one thing;--which is, I have undertaken to write to Mr. G---- for him, in the way of local relief;--I will wager a tankard of porter, I succeed--in some sort;--I will aim at both sides of him--his pity and his pride--which, alas!--the last I mean, finds a first-floor in the breast of every son of Adam.--S---- called on me this day, and left a picture for you at your lodgings--and a very spirited head in miniature, of your own doing, with me--which I like so well--you will find it difficult to get it from me--except you talk of giving me a copy--self-love again.--How can you expect business in these hard times--when the utmost exertions of honest industry can scarce afford people in the middle sphere of life daily provisions?--When it shall please the Almighty that things shall take a better turn in America--when the conviction of their madness shall make them court peace--and the same conviction of our cuelty and injustice induce us to settle all points in equity--when that time arrives, my friend, America will be the grand patron of genius--trade and arts will flourish--and if it shall please God to spare us till that period--we will either go and try our fortunes there--or stay in Old England and talk about it.--While thou hast only one mouth to feed--one back to cloath--and one wicked member to indulge--thou wilt have no pity from me--excepting in the argument of health--may that cordial blessing be thine--with its sweet companion ease!--Peace follows rectitude--and what a plague would'st thou have more?--Write soon if thou dar'st--retort at thy peril--boy--girls--and the old Duchess, all pretty well--and so, so, is yours, [...]
(I. lv, pp. 167-71; pp. 107-9 in Carretta)
Five entries in ESTC (1782, 1783, 1784). [Second edition in 1783, third in 1784.]

See Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho, An African. In Two Volumes. To Which Are Prefixed, Memoirs of His Life (London: Printed by J. Nichols, 1782). <Link to text from Documenting the American South at UNC>

Reading Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho, ed. Vincent Carretta (New York: Penguin, 1998).
Date of Entry

The Mind is a Metaphor is authored by Brad Pasanek, Assistant Professor of English, University of Virginia.