1876 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Helen Maria Williams

Robert Carruthers, in Chambers's Cyclopaedia of English Literature, 3rd ed. (1876; 1879) 5:318-19.



HELEN MARIA WILLIAMS (1762-1827) was very early in life introduced to public notice by Dr. Kippis, who recommended her first work, Edwin and Elfrida (1782). She went to reside in France, imbibed republican opinions, and was near suffering with the Girondists during the tyranny of Robespierre. She was a voluminous writer both in prose and verse, author of Letters from France, Travels in Switzerland, Narrative of Events in France, Correspondence of Louis XVI., with Observations, &c. In 1823 she collected and re-published her poems. To one of the pieces in this edition she subjoins the following note: "I commence the sonnets with that to Hope, from a predilection in its favour, for which I have a proud reason: it is that of Mr. Wordsworth, who lately honoured me with his visits while at Paris, having repeated it to me from memory, after a lapse of many years."

SONNET TO HOPE.
Oh, ever skilled to wear the form we love!
To bid the shapes of fear and grief depart!
Come, gentle Hope! with one gay smile remove
The lasting sadness of an aching heart.
Thy voice, benign enchantress! let me hear;
Say that for me some pleasures yet shall bloom,
That Fancy's radiance, Friendship's precious tear,
Shall soften, or shall chase, misfortune's gloom.
But come not glowing in the dazling ray,
Which once with dear illusions charmed my eye,
Oh, strew no more, sweet flatterer! on my way
The flowers I fondly thought too bright to die;
Visions less fair will soothe my pensive breast,
That asks not happiness, but longs for rest!