1824 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Eleanor Dickinson

Eleanor Dickinson, Preface, in Dickinson, The Pleasures of Piety (1824) iii-iv.



The following poems have been composed under circumstances peculiarly unfavourable to the cultivation of the muse. They are not the offspring of a mind blessed with poetic ease, and contemplative retirement; but of a mind occupied with a multiplicity of cares — of a mind, to which every day has brought duties too urgent to be delayed, and too numerous to allow it much leisure for more pleasing avocations. — Though this consideration can be no excuse for incapacity, or for gross mistakes, it ought, at least, to mitigate the severity of criticism with respect to the minor defects which will be found in this little volume.

When at an early period of life, the authoress first entered the retreat of the muses — not in search of either fame or profit, but of a sanctuary, in which worldly tumults might be hushed, and worldly sorrows forgotten; she entertained not the remotest expectation, or even the desire, that her poetical effusions should ever appear before the public. To that tribunal, however, she is now induced to submit the present collection. She professes no stoical indifference to its fate, yet she hopes to experience little difficulty in reconciling herself to whatever sentence this age of critical refinement may pronounce.

Whatever may be the result, one consolatory reflection will still be hers — that of having endeavoured, as far as her humble powers would permit, to promote the momentous interests of religion. To use the words of a great and good man, on a much more important occasion, she looks back on this part of her work with a pleasure which no blame or praise of man can diminish or augment. — She will never envy the honors which wit and learning obtain in any other cause, if she can be numbered among the writers who have given ardour to virtue, or confidence to truth.

SPRINGFIELD ACADEMY,

Liverpool, 8th Month, 12th, 1824.