1844 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Caroline Norton

Robert Chambers, in Cyclopaedia of English Literature (1844; 1850) 2:459.



The family of Sheridan has been prolific of genius, and MRS. NORTON, granddaughter of Richard Brinsley, has well sustained the family honours. Caroline Elizabeth Sarah Sheridan was, at the age of nineteen, married to the Honourable George Chapple Norton, brother to Lord Grantley, and himself a police magistrate in London. This union was dissolved in 1840, after Mrs. Norton had been the object of suspicion and persecution of the most painful description. In her seventeenth year, this lady had composed her poem, The Sorrows of Rosalie, a pathetic story of village life. Her next work was a poem founded on the ancient legend of the Wandering Jew, which she termed The Undying One. A third volume appeared from her pen in 1840, entitled The Dream, and ether Poems. "This lady," says a writer in the Quarterly Review, "is the Byron of our modern poetesses. She has very much of that intense personal passion by which Byron's poetry is distinguished from the larger grasp and deeper communion with man and nature of Wordsworth. She has also Byron's beautiful intervals of tenderness, his strong practical thought, and his forceful expression. It is not an artificial imitation, but a natural parallel." The truth of this remark, both as to poetical and personal similarity of feeling, will be seen from the following impassioned verses, addressed by Mrs. Norton to the Duchess of Sutherland, to whom she has dedicated her poems. The simile of the swan flinging aside the "turbid drops" from her snowy wing is certainly worthy of Byron.