1785 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Anna Seward

Robert Greville to Richard Polwhele, 29 August 1785; Polwhele, Traditions and Recollections (1826) 1:185.



I am told you are admitted into the correspondence of the literati of Lichfield. The high-sounding Seward, and the smooth-flowing Hayley, are unanimous in admiring your poem upon Eloquence; the judgment of the latter I conceive, however, to be that of the sounder. The former, in her mode of thinking and expression, seems to me to be too much inflated. Her whole soul appears, in all her poems, to be actuated by that wild species of enthusiasm, which has little of the leaven of inspiration, and which gives one the idea of froth rather than substance. The luxurious and the dazzling are the medium through which she evinces her conceptions, rather than the elegant or the striking. Compress the substratum of her productions, and divest them of their meretricious imagery and you will find how small the claim she has to the sacred appellation of poet.

Surrounded with the noise of a dozen political disputants, I must break off, by assuring you how sincerely I am your friend,

R. G.