1806 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Margaret Holford

Anna Seward to Mrs. Powys, 28 June 1806; Letters, ed. Scott (1811) 6:288-89.



It gives me pleasure that you have met with the young and very ingenious Miss Margaret Holford. She is, in every respect, extremely worthy of your esteem, and her talents are very considerable. The fire of genius irradiates her compositions; they are not book-made strains. The praises of such a muse do honour to the praised, be they whom they may. Her beautiful elegy, addressed to me, crept into the newspapers, with her signature, and dated from Chester; but, indeed, I did not see or know of its being sent to any of the public prints. Its insertion, however, procured me the favour of an anonymous letter, which pronounced the elegy your last letter so justly applauds as poetic composition, "bombast nonsense, and the evident fabrication, not of Margaret Holford of Chester, since there is no such person, but of Anna Seward, who, under that assumed name, had been extolling her own silly productions." I guessed the author of this nameless scroll. Full of scorpions, stinging its own peace, must be the dark and restless bosom which can trouble itself to fabricate such libels. The objects of its malice are avenged by the incessant torments it inflicts in the breast from whence it flows.