1811 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Peregrine Bingham

Anna Laetitia Barbauld, Review of Bingham, The Pains of Memory; The Monthly Review 66 (December 1811) 437.



The first part of this poem describes"'the effect of memory on minds which are not afflicted by the consciousness of guilt;" and the second paints "the effect of memory on guilty minds." Many of the instances are well chosen, and depicted with animation and feeling; but no consolation is suggested even to those whose memory records no guilt. Rinaldo's act of suicide, in order to avoid the pains of memory, is related almost with approbation; and no better advice is offered to persons who would avoid his fate, than that they 'steel their hearts,' and

Reck not of the future nor the past.

Bonaparte is the hero of the second book, and he is supposed to disturb his Empress by crying in his sleep. Other characters, however, are introduced, which give rise to some forcible imagery; and the description of October (p. 56.) in the style of Walter Scott, is natural and picturesque.