« ForrigeFortsett »
This Penthesilea of liberty and libertinism, makes an appropriate harangue to her sisters in femality :
" She spoke--and veteran BARBAULD caught the strain,
Mrs. Barbauld, the most conspicuous figure in the groupe of female authors, is a veteran in literature : her poetry is certainly chaste and elegant.--Si fic omnia dixitjet !--I was sorry to find Mrs. B. (among the gods, Miss Aikin!) classed with such females as a Wollstonecraft, or a Jebb. "The most sensible women,' says Mr. Dyer, ' are more uniformly on the side of liberty than the other fex ; --witness, a Macaulay, a Wollstonecraft, a Barbauld, a Jebb, a Williams, and a Smith. (See Dyer's Poems, Pp. 36, 37.)--But, though Mrs. B. has lately published several political tracts, which, if not difcreditable to her talents and virtues, can, by no means, add to her reputation ; yet, I am sure, she must reprobate with me the alarming eccentricities of Miss Wollstonecraft. Of Mrs. Jebb's publia cations I received the firit intelligence in the notes to Mr. Dyer's Poems, (P. 36,) and I have named her here only as an obscure writer when compared with Miss Aikin, the favourite of my former years, when first · I lisp'd in numbers.”
† « In Mrs. Robinson's poetry there is a peculiar delicacy, but her novels, as literary compositions, have no great claim to approbation. As containing the doctrines of philosophisın, they meric the leverest censure. Would that, for the sake of herself and her beautiful daughter, (whose personal charms are only equalled by the elegance of her mind ;) would that, for the sake of the public morality, Mrs. Robinson were perfuaded to dismiss the gloomy phantom of anni. hilation, to think seriously of a future retribution, and to commu. nicate to the world a recantation of errors that originated in levits, and have been nursed by pleasure! I have seen her glittering like the morning star, full of life and splendor; and just such, and more glorious, may I meet her again, when the just fall shine forth as the brightness of the firmament, and as the stars, for ever and ever.”
I « The sonnets of Charlotte Smith have a pensiveness peculiarly their own. It is not the monotonous plaintiveness of Shenitone, the gloomy melancholy of Gray, nor the meek subdued spirit of Collins, It is a strain of wild, yet softened forrow, that breathes a romantic air, without losing, for a moment, its mellowness: her images, often original, are drawn from nature; the most familiar have a new and charming aspect. Sweetly picturesque, the creates with the pencil of a Gilpin, and infuses her own soul into the landscape.
And HELEN, fir'd by freedom, bade adicu
There is so uncommon a variety in her expresion, that I could read a thousand of such sonnets without lassitude. In general, a very few sonnets fatigue attention, partly owing to the fameness of their con struction. Petrarch, indeed, I can relish cor a considerable time ; but Spenser and Milton soon produce somnolence. As a novel-writer, her Ethelinda and Emmelina place her above all her cotemporaries, except Mrs. D'Arblay and Mrs. Radcliffe. But why does she suffer her mind to be infected with the Gallic mania ? I hope, ere this, me is completely recovered from a disorder, of which, indeed, I observed only a few night symptoms.''
* " Miss Helen Williams is, doubtless, a true poet ; but is it not extraordinary, that such a genius, a female and fo young, should have become a politician; that the fair Helen, whose notes of love have charmed the moonlight vallies, fould stand forward, an inten. perate advocate, for Gallic licentiousness; that such a woman should import with her a blast, more peftilential than that of Avernus, though the has so often delighted us with melodies, soft as the fighs of the zephyr, delicious as the airs of Paradise !” (See ber letters from France.)
+ " Mrs. Yearsley's Poems, as the product of an untutored milk. woman, certainly entitled her to patronage ; and patronage the received from Miss H. More, liberal beyond example ; yet, such is the depravity of the human heart, that this milk woman had no fooner feen her hut cheered by the warnth of benevolence than the spurned her benefactor from her door. Perhaps ihe had read, when a poor labourer's child, at a charity-school, the fable of the Adder and Traveller,' the moral application of which to herfelf, at this crisis of her life, might have done her more effential service than all her poetical reveries.
But she has since pursued her literary career with an ardor, by no means damped by the sense of ingratitude. Selflove, indeed, seems to have thrown over her conduct a delusive colouring. In the preface to her romantic novel, “ The Rural Captives,' Mrs. Y. has plainly an eye to her worthy patroness. "Nature herself drew delusion in the desert, where I was beloved by Fancy before I was alive to Fame, and tasted more delight than I have since found in the midst of proud society, where favour falls heavily on the heart from the hand of arrogance.' My business, however, with Mrs. Y. is to recall her (if pollible) from her Gallic wanderings, if
And flippant Hays assum'd a cynic leer ;
And linger'd a sweet blush with Emma Crewe.I"
“ And doft thou rove with no internal light,
in! can its whelming wave bestow
an appeal to native ingenuousness be net too late ; if the fatal example of the arch-priestess of female libertinism have any influence on a mind once stored with the finest moral sentiment.”
*“ Mary Hays, I believe, is little known; but, from her • letters and essays,' she is evidently a Wollstonecraftian. I cannot mention,' says she, the admirable advocate for the Rights of Woman, without pausing to pay a tribute of grateful respect, in the name of my fex, to the virtue and talents of a writer, who, with equal courage and abi. lity, hath endeavoured to rescue the female mind from those preju. dices which have been the canker of genuine virtue.' (Preface to her Letters and Esays, p. 6.) · The Rights of Woman, and the name of Wollstonecraft, will go down to posterity with reverence.' (Leiters, &c. P. 21.) Mary Hays ridicules the good lady who studied her Bible, and obliged her children to say their prayers, and go statedly to church. (P. 34.) Her expressions respecting the European governments are, in a high degree, inflammatory." (See Pp. 14, 15, 17, 18, 19.)
+ “ Angelica Kausfinan's print should accompany Miss Wollstonecraft's instructions in Priapism, by way of illustration."
I “ There is a charming delicacy in most of the pictures of Emma Crewe ; though, I think, in her • Flora at play with Cupid,' (the frontispiece to the second part of the Botanic Garden,) the has rather overstepped the modesty of nature, by giving the portrait an air of voluptuousness too luxuriously melting.”
$• I do not think my filter fo to seek,
Or so unprincipled in virtue's book;
At this crisis of her fate, for time and for eternity, a supernatural voice is, poetically suppofed 10 be, heard, addressing her and her partners in fin :-
“Corne,' a voice seraphic feems to say,
Fiy that pale form ; come, sisters, come away ;
*“ I know nothing of Miss Wollstonecraft's character or conduct, but from the Memoirs of Godwin, with whom this lady was afterwards connected. • We did not marry,' says Godwin, but during her pregnancy by G, they married. She died, in consequence, of child-birth, in 1797. A woman, who had broken through all religious restraints, will, commonly, be found ripe for every species of licentiousness. Miss W. had been bred to the established church ; but, from her intimacy with the late Dr. Price, was induced, occasionally, to attend the sectarian worship. Thus halting between two opinions, fhe, at length, regarded both as the mere prejudices of education, and became equally averse froin the church and the conventicle. And, accordingly, for the last ten years of her life, the frequented no place of public worship at all. How far a woman of such principles was qualified to superintend the education of young ladies, I leave to be discutled and determined by the circles of fashion and gallantry ; intimating only, that Miss W. was a governess of the daughter of Lord Viscount Kingsborough :-her meditated suicide we ihall contemplate with fresh horror, when we consider that, at the time of the desperate act, she was a mother deserting a poor helpless offspring. But burft the ties of religion, and the bands of nature will inap asunder. Sentiments of religion may doubtless exist in the heart, without the external profession of it; but that this woman was neither a Christian, nor a Mahometan, nor even a Deist, is sufficiently evi. dent from the triumphant report of Godwin. Godwin, then her hufhand, boasts that, during her last illness, (which continued ten days,) not a word of a religious tendency dropped from her lips. I cannot but think that the hand of Providence is visible, in her life, in her death, and in the memoirs themselves.
As she was given up to her heart's lufts,' and let' to follow her own imaginations,' that the fallacy of her doctrines, and the effects of an ir. religious conduct, might be manifested to all the world, and as the died a death that strongly marked the distinction of the fexes, by pointing out the destiny of woman and the diseases to which they are liable, so her husband was perinitted, in writing her memoirs, to labour under a temporary infatuation, that every incident might be feen without a gloss, every fact expofed without an apology."
Come, join with wonted smiles a kindred train,
Yet woman owns a more extensive sway,
By Heaven inform’d, if female genius rise.*'
“ She ceas'd, and round their More the fifters figh'd !t
Their conscious" blushes spoke a brighter day. I” We have thus given a fair and full abstract of the poem. We find it, at once, politically useful, and poetically beautiful. The satire is ingeniously conceived, and judiciously executed. And we are happy to see one of the first poets of the day, one who ranks amongst the foremost for richness of language, vividness of fancy, and brilliance of imagery, employing his poetical talents, at this awful crisis of church and state, in vindication of all that is dear to us as Britons and as Christians.
Art. VI. Somerville's Reign of Queen Anne.
(Concluded from vol. II. P. 361.) UEEN Anne's partiality to the tories gave them the su
periority at the general election; but the interest of that party was more prevalent in the lower than in the upper house. A bill palled the Commons against occasional con
* " After all, it is Christianity which has given women their ap. propriate rank in society." See Robifon's Proofs, &c. Pp. 262, 271, See also P. 457
+ " Miss Hannah More may justly be esteemed as a character, in all points, diametrically opposite to Miss Wollstonecraft's; excepting, indeed, her genius and literary attainments. To the great natural endowments of Miss W. Miss More has added the learning of lady Jane Gray, without the pedantry; and the Christian graces of Mrs. Rowe, without the enthusiasm. Her · Percy,' her • sacred dramas,' her · Essays,' and her “ Thoughts on the Manners of the Great,' will be read as long as fenfibility and good tafte shall exist among us."
I « That Mrs. Godwin, herself, may be numbered among the penitent, and he, also, who drew her frailties from their dread abode,' is the sincere and fervent with of a heart in charity with all men.” NO. XI. VOL. III.