Author’s Gender Influence on Writing Style in Inkle and Yarico

The version of the document I found was likely an already transcribed, formatted version of an Inkle and Yarico poem and subject to another’s editorial decisions. The document is a beautiful and well-written poem detailing the meeting, engagement, and eventually the betrayal of Inkle and Yarico. It was written by Frances Seymour, Countess of Hertford in 1725, during the period of Enlightenment in Europe. Despite being from the upper echelons of society and during an early acceptance of women authors, the poem was still published anonymously. This begs the question what drove her to publish anonymously, or did her anonymity allow her to express the story in a non-traditional way?

Research Question: How does the poem being written by a woman and published anonymously, in 1725, contribute to the portrayal of love and a relationship between Inkle and Yarico?

In a preliminary effort, I used WordCounter and SameDiff to explore the general themes expressed in the Ligon (1657), the Spectator (1711), and this version (1725). The Spectator was written by a man but within the anecdote, was narrated to Steele by a woman. When analyzing it, I stripped the framing story with Arietta and just included the telling of Inkle and Yarico.

Text Top 5 Common Words (# appearances)
Inkle and Yarico Poem – Seymour (1725) love (4), might (3), fate (3), care (3), vows (3)
Inkle and Yarico – Spectator (1711) inkle (3), young (3), lovers (3), Yarico (3), Thomas (3)
Inkle and Yarico – Ligon (1657) Indian/s (7), men (6), women (4), negros (4), fish (3)


The common words in the Ligon version are all nouns and purely descriptive of the story. Unlike the later versions, there doesn’t seem to be an emphasis on the relationship or dynamic between the two parties. In the other retelling’s, there is a lot of personal liberty in imagining the emotions of the relationship. Steele’s story was narrated to him by a woman, who was telling this story to highlight a relationship dynamic. It also is important to remember as we analyze any text, many forms, (eg. Opera) have a sense of fiction. Moreover, the love-related words in the poem are more fantastical and focus on the overarching “themes” of marriage with fate, care, vows, etc. (Though, the uses of fate are in the context of her own fate, not a mutual fate but nevertheless a fantasy-idea of “fate”).  The Spectator version frames their love in a surface-level, action-based love.  Both do emphasize a mutual connection, but the poem does it with more whimsical, picturesque elements adding a fairy-tale feeling.

Common Words Text 1 Unique Words Text 2 Unique Words
Text 1: Poem (1725)

Text 2: Spectator (1711)

Yarico, Mind, Love, Vessels, Hair, Care, Youth, Safety, Main, Maid Vows, Virgin, Fate, Unhappy, Sordid, Soon, Shades, Heart, Doting, Cruel Young, Lovers, Voyage, Taken, Party, Horses, Indians, Great, Good, English, American, Agreeable, Adventurer, Achilles
Text 1: Poem (1725)

Text 2: Ligon (1657)

Love, Indian, Ship, Time, Side, Maid, Wood, Friends, Country, Coast, Youth Vows, Virgin, Mind, Fate, Care, Vessel, Unhappy, Sordid, Shores Men, Women, Negroes, Water, Shore, Shape, Pond, Christian, Clay

The SameDiff analysis reinforced the findings with the WordCounter tool. The Poem uses more emotion-heavy words when speaking on the relationship with “doting”, “cruel”, and “sordid”, evoking sympathy for Yarico. It sets up as this fairy-tale-like story, with Yarico rescuing Inkle and falling in love, only to be betrayed in the end. It’s more interpreted in an idealistic view and not as an actual account between two real people. The Spectator version does prioritize their relationship but maintains a status of a real account. Whether Frances Seymour wanted it to feel fairy-tale or not, the poetry medium inherently heightens that purpose because poems are generally used in an emotive manner to convey a lesson or message.

Since the poem, by nature, contains more rhythmic and emotional language, I also wanted to look at these poems from a sentiment/tone analysis view, since the actual text content had a lot of unique words and isn’t fit for analysis by occurrence. I used this free tone Analyzer, that rates the text with different tones and strength scores. In addition, looking at the poem from a whole, I segmented the story to see if there was any difference in portrayal at different points. I also recorded the length of the portion of the story that related to the subject matter.

Poem (1725) Spectator (1711) Ligon (1657)
Whole document 792 words

·       Joy (.65)

·       Sadness (.51)

815 words

·       Joy (.65)

·       Analytical (.54)

·       Sadness (.54)

700 words

·       Joy (.61)

·       Tentative (.61)

·       Sadness (.60)

Yarico saving Inkle 106 words (13%)

·       Analytical (.82)

·       Joy (.75)

176 words (22%)

·       Analytical (.67)

·       Joy (.66)

151 words (22%)

·       Sadness (.60)

Yarico/Inkle Relationship 230 words (29%)

·       Tentative (.75)

·       Joy (.71)

264 words (32%)

·       Joy (.66)

·       Fear (.65)

·       Analytical (.51)

169 words (24%)

·       Joy (.54)

Selling Yarico 198 words (25%)

·       Sadness (.59)


115 words (14%)

·       Sadness (.74)

·       Analytical (.60)

·       Confident (.54)

68 words (10%)

·       Sadness (.78)


The poem has the most coverage on the subject of selling Yarico, where the emotional twist occurs. Interestingly, it has the weakest “sadness” tone out of all three. This section contains the flowery language about fate and vows that are broken, which likely elevates the tone. Additionally, there is also a tone of tentative in the description of Inkle and Yarico’s relationship in the poem. This uncertainness, but joy aligns with this idealistic setting and portrayal of their relationship. In the Ligon version, sadness is the prominent emotion in Yarico saving Inkle, which contrasts the good nature of the action. This is a result of less emphasis on the relationship between the two, and possibly because of the reigning attitudes during the 1600s. Yarico is introduced as falling in love with him (not a mutual feeling), and more focus is put on the loss of others rather than the meeting of the two. On the opposite end, both the Spectator and the poem, contain about 30% coverage of the ensuing relationship between the two. They also are more nuanced in the descriptions with the poem having tentative language, and the Spectator containing some fear. Both of these emotions are reflective of a more strained dynamic.


Both of the 1711 and 1725 versions were accounts of the story told by a woman, directly or indirectly, and contained stronger emotive descriptions of the short-lived relationship between Inkle and Yarico. With direct telling, the poem contained more flowery language, transforming a real account into a more imaginative fairy-tale gone wrong. Whether this type of telling required anonymity by the author in case of a backlash, more research is needed but there doesn’t seem to be any visible reason from text analysis why it would elicit backlash. A more contextual reason could be that a countess, a member of the Royal family, was displaying sympathy for an Indian woman in a story where her family was at the forefront of colonizing other countries and indirectly had an indirect part in promoting this market responsible for Yarico’s selling.

Metadata –
  • Length: 792 words
  • Date Published: 1725
  • Author: Frances Seymour, Countess of Hartford
  • Gender of Author: Female
  • Author Anonymous: True
  • Literary Period: Enlightenment
  • Yarico Sympathetic: True
Resources –