1830 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Anna Laetitia Barbauld

William Wordsworth to Alexander Dyce, 10 May 1830; Letters of the Wordsworth Family, ed. Knight (1907) 2:428-29.



At the close of a sonnet of Miss Seward's are two fine verse:

Come, that I may not hear the winds of night,
Nor count the heavy eave-drops as they fall.

You have well characterized the poetic powers of this Lady — but after all, her verses please me with all their faults better than those of Mrs. Barbauld, who, with much higher powers of mind, was spoiled as a poetess by being a dissenter, and concerned with a dissenting academy. One of the most pleasing passages in her poetry is the close of the lines upon "Life," written, I believe, when she was not less than eighty years of age:

Life, we have been long together, etc.

You have given a specimen of that ever-to-be pitied victim of Swift, Vanessa. I have somewhere a short piece of hers upon her passion for Swift, which well deserves to be added. But I am becoming tedious, which you will ascribe to a well-meant endeavour to make you some return for your obliging attentions.

I remain, dear sir,

Faithfully yours,

W. WORDSWORTH.