1883 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Anna Laetitia Barbauld

Eric S. Robertson, in English Poetesses, a Series of Critical Biographies (1883) 91.



So far as its bulk is concerned, Mrs. Barbauld's verse cannot be said to earn for her the praise due to a great industry. And even of such poems as her pen has left us, it must be confessed that many are common-place enough, when judged by modern standards of taste. But opinions about poetry were very different in Mrs. Barbauld's time. These were the days when a Hayley was a great poet; and compared with him Mrs. Barbauld was a very great poetess. She was at her best in the pathetic vein. She shone, as Jean Paul did by his own account, when "tracing with the soft chalk of sensibility upon the dark background of pathos."