1827 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Anna Seward

Alexander Dyce, in Specimens of British Poetesses, selected and chronologically arranged (1827)) 285-86.



ANNA SEWARD, born 1747, died 1809, with whose Elegy on Cook — Monody on Andre — Louisa — and Sonnets — the readers of poetry during the last generation were familiarly acquainted, — was the daughter of the Rev. Thomas Seward, Rector of Eyam in Derbyshire, Prebendary of Salisbury, and Canon Residentiary of Litchfield. Her passion for poetry, which shewed itself in childhood, her father at first encouraged; but her mother being greatly alarmed lest their daughter should turn out a literary lady, he afterwards ceased to countenance it. When Miss Seward was of an age to choose her own studies, she became a professed votary of the Muses. — During almost her whole life, she resided at Litchfield.

That the poems of Anna Seward, which are now forgotten, should have excited so much contemporary admiration, need not surprize us, if we consider that they were published at a time when Hayley's Triumphs of Temper was esteemed a work of first-rate ability. By this remark, however, I do not mean to insinuate that her writings scarcely rise above mediocrity. She was endowed with considerable genius, and with an ample portion of that fine enthusiasm, which sometimes may be mistaken for it; but her taste was far from good, and her numerous productions (a few excepted) are disfigured by florid ornament and elaborate magnificence — The pieces which she has addressed to her beloved Honora, and her allusions to that interesting creature, scattered through various poems, are full of sensibility and amiable feelings.