1803 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

James Dallaway, in "Memoirs of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu" Montagu, Works, ed. Dallaway (1803) 1:117-19.



Of her poetical talents it may be observed, that they were usually commanded by particular occasions, and that when she had composed stanzas, as any incident suggested them, little care was taken afterwards; and she disdained the scrupulous labour, by which Pope acquired a great degree of his peculiar praise. But it should be remembered, that the ore is equally sterling, although it may not receive the highest degree of polish of which it is capable. She attempted no poem of much regularity or extent. In the Town Eclogues, which is the longest, a few illegitimate expletives will not escape the keen eye of a critic. The epistle of Arthur Gray has true Ovidian tenderness, the ballads are elegant, and the satires abound in poignant sarcasms, and just reflections on the folly and vices of those, whom she sought to stigmatize. There is little doubt, but that if Lady Mary had applied herself wholly to poetry, a near approximation to the rank of her contemporary bards would have been adjudged to her, by impartial posterity.