1927 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Jane Bowdler

Ruth Avaline Hesselgrave, in Lady Miller and the Batheaston Literary Circle (1927) 59-60.



Miss Jane Bowdler, Harriet's eldest sister ... had been an invalid for some years before her death. Fanny Burney referred to Jane Bowdler but once:

"I have neglected to mention that the eldest Miss Bowdler, by a dreadful cold, has quite lost her voice — lost all possible power of speech! I have never heard of so extraordinary or so horrible a circumstance; she has been wholly dumb for three years. She seems perfectly resigned, and very mild and patient; but it is really painful to be in a room with her."

During the years that she was cut off from ordinary companionship Miss Bowdler had occupied herself in preparing the poems and essays published after her death. The volume went through sixteen editions before 1830, and was reprinted in America; but the reader of today finds the verse poor and the prose lacking in originality. There are but eight poems in the collection. One of them has the heading: "Subject, Love, for the Vase at Batheaston," and is also included in volume one of the Poetical Amusements, though it is here unsigned. Three other poems in Jane Bowdler's volume have the same titles as Batheaston poems, and were perhaps read there originally.