1797 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Elizabeth Ryves

Anonymous, Obituary in Gentleman's Magazine 67 (May, June, July 1797) 445, 522, 539.



At her apartments in Store-street, Miss Eliz. Ryves, a lady of considerable merit in the literary world. She was very well acquainted with Italian and French literature, and had made no small progress in the Classicks. Her poetical compositions are distinguished by vigour, taste, and even an air of originality; as is evident in an address to the present Earl Fitzwilliam, on the birth of a son. She translated from the French, Rousseau's Treatise on the Social Compact, and many other works of acknowledged merit. When the late Mr. Dodsley relinquished all concern in his celebrated Annual Register, Miss Ryves was employed to conduct the historical department; a task of much hazard and difficulty, considering that even the great pen of Mr. Burke has been thought to have managed that department for many years. Miss Ryves had turned her attention to the drama, and had written a tragedy and a comedy; the latter of which was submitted to the managers of Drury-lane theatre; and it should be mentioned to their honour, that, having kept it some time in their possession, and excited expectations in the writer which had tended to draw her into pecuniary embarrassment, they presented to her an hundred pounds, though they thought proper to decline the representation of the piece itself. Miss R. was marked by an unaffected gentleness of temper, as well as by good sense and varied information....

P. 445. In vol. LXV. pp. 540, 734, are letters from the author and editor of The Annual Register; from which it cannot be collected that Miss Ryves was employed to conduct the historical department; nor is there an inuendo of its being the product of a female pen. — T. F. Junior, observes, that our Obituary makes no mention of "The Hermit of Snowden," which is supposed, by those who knew Miss R, to have come from her pen; as she certainly confessed to a lady that she was the publisher of it, and did not disavow herself its author....

July 2.

Mr. URBAN,

Miss Ryves was, I fancy, author of "The Hermit of Snowdon." I do not think she ever conducted the historical department of the Annual Register. Her comedy, which Mr. Sheridan, and, I believe, Mr. Harris, rejected, as too barren of incident for the stage, was intituled "The Debt of Honour."

A woman more benevolent than this God never created. When her affairs were in a most "poetical posture" (as indeed they often were, for she managed them but inconsiderately), and she lodged in an obscure part of the city, she would spend her last shillings, herself unprovided with a dinner, in the purchase of a joint of meat for a starving family that occupied the floor above her. Poor Eliza Ryves! Thou wast deserving of a better friend than Dr. —. Thou shouldst not, kind-hearted as thou wast, have been forsaken on thy death-bed!

AMICUS.