1780 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Edward Jerningham

Frances Burney, 1780; Diary and Letters of the Author of Madam D'Arblay, ed. Austin Dobson (1904-05) 1:350-51.



Besides their own family, [at the Bowdlers] we met Mr. Jerningham, the poet. I have lately been reading his poems [if his they may be called]. He seems a mighty delicate gentleman; looks to be painted, and is all daintification in manner, speech, and dress.

The rest of the company I shall not trouble you with mentioning, save Miss Leigh, who sat next me, and filled up all the evening with hearing of Mr. Crisp, and talking of Mrs. Gast, except what was given to attending to Mr. Jerningham's singing to his own accompaniment upon the harp. He has about as much voice as Sacchini, and very sweet-toned, though very English; and he sung and played with a fineness that somewhat resembled the man we looked at at Piozzi's benefit; for it required a painful attention to hear him. And while he sings, he looks the gentlest of all dying Corydons!

Oh, what must he have thought of Mrs. Bowdler, who, when he was trying to recollect an air from the Hermit, called out,

"Pray, Mr. Jerningham, can't you sing us some of your own poetry?"

I really feared he would have fainted away at so gross a question; but, to my great relief, I observed he only looked down and smiled.