1808 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Elizabeth Smith

Henrietta Maria Bowdler, in Memoir in Elizabeth Smith, Smith, Fragments (1808) 113-14, 119.



In the year 1808, Mr. Sotheby, the elegant translator of Oberon, expressed to me a wish that Miss S—'s uncommon talents should be employed in something which might interest the public; particularly in translations from the German. He could scarcely credit what I said of the facility with which she translated from that very difficult language; and taking down Gesner's works, which was the only German book in my possession, he turned to one of the Idylls, and requested me to ask her to translate it. I believe she had never read it; and I know she had no dictionary; but I told her that Mr. Sotheby had commended the poem highly, and I wished she might make me understand it. The next morning she brought me the following ["Picture of the Deluge"].... Mr. Sotheby was extremely pleased with this translation, and his encouragement and kind assistance led me to engage my beloved friend in a work, which employed much of her time and attention, and in which she took particular pleasure; till her last fatal illness but an end to her pursuits, and to all our earthly hopes in regard to her. The work to which I allude, is a Translation of Letters and Memoirs relating to Mr. and Mrs, Klopstock.