1849 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Emma Catherine Embury

Rufus W. Griswold, in Female Poets of America (1849) 143.



This graceful and popular authoress — the Mitford of our country — to whom we are in so large a degree indebted for redeeming the "ladies' magazines," so called, from the reproach of frivolity and sickly sentiment, is a daughter of Dr. James R. Manley, for many years one of the eminent physicians of New York, from whom she inherits all the peculiar pride and prejudice that make up the genuine Knickerbocker. She was married, it appears from the New York Mirror of the following Saturday, on the tenth of May, 1828, to Mr. Daniel Embury, now of Brooklyn, a gentleman of liberal fortune, who is well known for his taste and scholarly acquirements.

Mrs. Embury's native interest in literature was manifested by an early appreciation of the works of genius, and her poetical talents were soon recognised and admired. Under the signature of "Ianthe," she gave to the public numerous effusions, which were distinguished for vigor of language and genuine depth of feeling. A volume of these youthful but most promising compositions was selected and published, under the title of Guido and other Poems. Since her marriage, she has given to the public more prose than verse, but the former is characterized by the same romantic spirit which is the essential beauty of poetry. Many of her tales are founded upon a just observation of life, although not a few are equally remarkable for attractive invention. In point of style, they often possess the merit of graceful and pointed diction, and the lessons they inculcate are invariably of a pure moral tendency. Constance Latimer, or The Blind Girl, is perhaps better known than any other of her single productions; and this, as well as her Pictures of Early Life, has passed through a large number of editions. In 1845 she published, in a beautiful quarto volume, with pictorial illustrations, Nature's Gems, or American Wild Flowers, a work which contains some of the finest specimens of her writings, in both prose and verse. In 1846 she gave to the public a collection of graceful poems, under the title of Love's Token Flowers: and, in 1848, The Waldorf Family, or Grandfather's Legends, a little volume in which she has happily adapted the romantic and poetical legendary of Brittany to the tastes of our own country and the present age; and a work entitled Glimpses of Home Life, in which many of the beautiful fictions she had written for the magazines, having a unity and completeness of design, are reproduced, to run anew the career of popularity through which they passed on their first separate publication. The tales and sketches by Mrs. Embury are very numerous, probably not less than one hundred and fifty: and several such delightful series, evincing throughout the same true cultivation and refinement of taste and feeling, might be made from them.