1812 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Amelia Opie

Stephen Jones, in Biographia Dramatica; or, A Companion to the Playhouse (1812) 1:552-53.



MRS. OPIE was born at Norwich about the year 1772, and is the daughter of Dr. Alderson, a physician of that city. At an early period Miss Alderson was distinguished by great fertility of invention, and evident marks of a superior mind; and she is even said to have composed dramatic pieces and novels, as well as poems, at an age when others have scarcely completed their education. Many of these poems, and we believe one novel, have been published anonymously. On the 8th of May 1798, Miss Alderson became the wife of the late celebrated Mr. Opie, an artist who died in the very first rank of his profession, April 9, 1807. Mrs. Opie has shown her regard to his memory by editing and publishing his Lectures on Painting, delivered at the Royal Academy, with memoirs of his life, 4to. 1809. The writings of Mrs. Opie exhibit the strength of her judgment, and the goodness of her heart. The Father and the Daughter, in opposition to the fantastic fictions which have disgraced the regions of romance, this amiable writer professes to be — a tale, founded in simple nature; and as such, perhaps, there never was a composition better calculated to rouse the passions in the cause of virtue, and to correct that false sensibility, that degenerating excess of sentiment, which have been proved to be incompatible with the real interests of humanity. It has not only had a very extensive circulation in this country, but has been twice translated into the French language. Since that, she has published a tale in three volumes, entitled Adeline Mowbray; or, The Mother and the Daughter, 1805, the laudable object of which was, to check the progress of the new philosophy. Mrs. Opie's poems are generally characterized by sweetness, simplicity, and pathos; her songs are exquisitely tender, and will help, in no trifling degree, to rescue this species of poetry from the neglect into which it has unhappily fallen. Numberless are the occasions on which Mrs. Opie has exerted her talents for the benefit or consolation of the distressed. With these views, many of her poems have been expressly composed; and The Orphan, and Negro Boy's Tales; The Dying Daughter's Address to her Mother; and The Felon's Address to his Child; are monuments of her feeling and benevolence, which cannot be too highly praised.

As a dramatist, we know but of one production of hers, viz.

Adelaide. Trag. N.P.