1858 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Felicia Hemans

Cyrus Redding, in Fifty Years' Recollections (1858) 2:239-41.



It was about this period, that Mrs. Hemans began to write. I find the following note; as usual, "the trade" had been playing tricks with her name the moment it became popular.

"Sir,
If the little poems which I now do myself the pleasure of sending to you are acceptable, I should wish them to be inserted without my name. I have forgotten the name of the article in the 'New Monthly,' from which the description of the funeral genius was taken, perhaps you will have the kindness to supply it in the motto prefixed to the lines. With much esteem,
Sir, your faithful servant,
F. HEMANS.
Brownwylpha, St. Asaph, April 12th."
———*———*———*———*———
"Dear Sir,
I should be much obliged if you would have my name at full length prefixed to the titles of my pieces in the contents of the 'New Monthly.' Some one, for whose perpetrations I do not at all wish to answer, having adopted the initials I have been in the habit of using, I mean to leave off that signature in future.
Believe me, my dear Sir, very truly yours,
FELICIA HEMANS.
Wavertree, March 29th."

Another communication I find of this lady's among my papers, is more interesting, as I prepared the notice of the work to which it relates.

"Dear Sir,

The accompanying little poems I have the pleasure of sending for the 'New Monthly.' I trust the packet which I forwarded to you last week, was received safely, and in sufficient time for the destination of its contents. You will do me a kindness by announcing in the forthcoming number of the 'New Monthly,' a work of mine which will shortly be published by Mr. Murray. It is called 'The Forest Sanctuary, with Lays of many Lands, and other poems.'

"'The Forest Sanctuary' is the tale of a Spanish exile, who flies from the religious persecutions of his country, in the sixteenth century, and takes refuge in the wilds of America, where he relates his own story. The remaining pieces chiefly consist of the little poems founded on national customs and recollections, which I have from time to time sent to the 'New Monthly.' With much regard, believe me,

Dear Sir, very truly and obliged,

FELICIA HEMANS."

There is great sweetness, and considerable variety in this lady's writings. Even after she became an authoress, she shrunk from encountering the public gaze, living wholly out of the great world which, notwithstanding, rendered judgment to the superiority of her talents and learning, for she read much, and understood four languages besides her own. There is nothing that does not lead to better than every day things, nothing but the beautiful, gentle, and hopeful of goodness in her writings.