1850 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Mary Robinson

Leigh Hunt, in Autobiography of Leigh Hunt (1850) 1:254.



The reader is perhaps aware, that George the Fourth, when he was Prince of Wales, had a mistress by the name of Robinson. She was the wife of a man of no great character; had taken to the stage for a livelihood; was very handsome, wrote verses, and is said to have excited a tender emotion in the bosom of Charles Fox. The Prince allured her from the stage, and lived with her for some years. After their separation, and during her decline, which took place before she was old, she became afflicted with rheumatism; and as she solaced her pains, and perhaps added to her subsistence, by writing verses, and as her verses turned upon her affections, and she could not discontinue her old vein of love and sentiment, she fell under the lash of this masculine and gallant gentleman, Mr. Gifford, who, in his Baviad and Maeviad amused himself with tripping up her "crutches," particularly as he thought her on the way to her last home. This he considered the climax of the fun.

"See" exclaimed he, after a hit or two at other women, like a boy, throwing stones in the street,

"See Robinson forget her state, and move
On crutches tow'rd the grave to 'Light o' Love.'"

This is the passage which put all the gall into any thing which I said then or afterward, of Gifford, till he attacked myself and my friends. At least it disposed me to think the worst of whatever he wrote: and as reflection did not improve nor suffering soften him, he is the only man I ever attacked, respecting whom I have felt no regret.