1787 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Jane Bowdler

James Beattie to William Forbes, 22 January 1787; Forbes, Life and Writings of James Beattie (1806) 2:202-05.



Miss Bowdler's Essays are just come to hand, and give me a very high idea both of the head and of the heart of the excellent author. Such examples of piety and resignation rarely occur; and the person who published them does an important service to mankind. The preface too, though short, is admirably written, and gives an emphasis to what follows in the book, as cannot fail to recommend religion to the most inattentive, if they will only take the trouble to read this truly valuable work. I was wonderfully struck and pleased with the beauty and propriety of the motto from Ariosto; and it brings tears into my eyes when I consider it as an apostrophe to a departed saint. I beg you will return my most grateful and affectionate acknowledgements to the lady who honours me with this present, which I value more than I can express, which I trust has already done me good, and which I am sure will do me a great deal more, if it is not my own fault. I am no stranger to the character of the lady's family, having often heard of it from Mrs. Montagu. And, if I mistake not, a brother of her's once did me the honour to sup at my house in Aberdeen, in company with Mrs. Montagu's nephew, Mr. Robinson. He seemed to be an excellent young man, and I was much pleased with his conversation. I should be very happy to hear that he is alive and well.