1843 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Lydia Huntley Sigourney

Charles W. Everest, in Poets of Connecticut (1843) 195-96.



MRS. LYDIA HUNTLEY Sigourney is the only child of the late EZEKIEL HUNTLEY, of Norwich, where she was born on the 1st of September, 1791. Her parents afforded her an excellent education, and were amply compensated by her rapid improvement. At eight years of age she began to develope those poetical talents which have since made her name so widely and favorably known. Doubtless the picturesque scenery, by which she was early surrounded, contributed to inspire and cherish a love for the beautiful in the works of Nature. The haunts of her childhood, still cherished among her fondest recollections, are beautifully commemorated in her verse:

—sweetly wild,
Were the scenes that charmed me when a child:
Rocks, gray rocks, with their caverns dark,
Leaping rills, like the diamond spark,
Torrent voices, thundering by,
When the pride of the vernal floods swelled high,
And quiet roofs, like the hanging nest,
Mid cliffs, by the feathery foliage drest!

After enjoying the advantages of the schools of her native town, and attending for some time a boarding-school in Hartford, Miss HUNTLEY, in connection with a friend of kindred spirit, NANCY MARIA HYDE, opened a select school for young ladies in Norwich, which she continued for two years. Subsequently she removed to Hartford, where, for several years, she was engaged, with much success, in a similar pursuit.

In 1815, Miss HUNTLEY was induced by her revered friend, DANIEL Wadsworth Esq., to give a volume of poems to the public. The articles composing it were selected by Mr. WADSWORTH, who also defrayed the expense of publication. It was entitled "Moral Pieces in Prose and Verse." On the death of her former associate, Miss HYDE, in 1816, she also performed the last duty of friendship by editing a volume of her remains, accompanied by a biographical sketch. In 1819, Miss HUNTLEY was married to CHARLES SIGOURNEY, Esq., a leading merchant of Hartford, and a gentleman of education and literary taste.

The poetical publications of Mrs. SIGOURNEY have been very numerous. Beside the volumes above mentioned, appeared at Cambridge, in Massachusetts, in 1822, Traits of the Aborigines of America; in Boston, in 1828, a volume of Poems; in Hartford, in 1833, Poetry for Children; in Philadelphia, in 1834, Select Poems; and in New York, in 1835, Zinzendorf, and other Poems. In August, in 1840, Mrs. SIGOURNEY sailed for Europe. She visited, England, Scotland, and France, and returned in April of the following year. While in England she published, from the London press, Poems, in two volumes; and since her return have appeared in New York, in 1841, Pocahontas, and other Poems; in Philadelphia, also, in the same year, a volume of Poems; and early in 1843, in Boston, Pleasant Memories of Pleasant Lands, a volume of prose and verse, suggested, as its title indicates, by the interesting scenes of foreign travel.

Mrs. SIGOURNEY is also amongst the most popular prose writers of the day. Connecticut Forty Years Since, she published in 1824, and since that period, a volume of Sketches, Letters to Young Ladies, Letters to Mothers, and several minor works.

The poems of Mrs. SIGOURNEY include almost every variety of subject, yet all are happily made to subserve a high moral sentiment. They are characterized by harmonious measure, felicitous rhyme, great powers of expression, and an almost unrivalled purity of thought. A heart of the liveliest and tenderest susceptibilities has thrown a charm into her verse, which has won not only admiration, but esteem and love, alike in the highest literary circles, and, we may venture to say, in every village and hamlet of the land.