1811 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Anna Seward

Mary Russell Mitford to Sir William Elford, 11 August, 1811; L'Estrange, Life of Mary Russell Mitford (1870) 1:121.



Have you seen Miss Seward's Letters? The names of her correspondents are tempting, but, alas! though addressed to all the eminent literati of the last half century, all the epistles bear the signature of Anna Seward. To tell you the truth, I was always a little shocked at the sort of reputation she bore in poetry. Sometimes affected, sometime 'fade,' sometimes pedantic, and sometimes tinselly, none of her works were ever simple, graceful, or natural; and I never heard her praised but I fancied the commendation would end in, "It is very well — for a woman!" What I have seen of her letters confirms me in this idea. They are affected, sentimental, and lackadaisical to the highest degree; and her taste is even worse than her execution.