1827 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Charlotte Smith

Alexander Dyce, in Specimens of British Poetesses, selected and chronologically arranged (1827) 254.



CHARLOTTE SMITH, born 1749, died 1806, the daughter of Nicholas Turner, Esq., who possessed estates in Surrey and Sussex, was married, when very young, to Mr. Smith, the son of a West India merchant. The affairs of her husband having proved unprosperous, Mrs. Smith experienced much harsh treatment from his creditors, shared his imprisonment, and, after a series of misfortunes, died at Thetford. Her poems, novels, and other works, which were favourably received by the public, gained her a subsistence.

Charlotte Smith, considered as a poetess, has been excelled by few of her countrywomen. Her Sonnets, once very popular, are not framed on the Italian model, and exhibit little of concentrated thought; but they are "most musical, most melancholy," and abound with touches of tenderness, grace, and beauty. Her descriptions of rural scenery, particularly those in her posthumous volume, are fresh and vivid: and her love of botany, from the study of which she derived the greatest pleasure, has led her, in several of her pieces, to paint a variety of flowers with a minuteness and delicacy rarely equalled.