1835 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Felicia Hemans

John Wilson, 1835; Russell, Book of Authors (1860) 453-54.



Without disparagement or the living, we scarcely hesitate to say that in Mrs. Hemans our female literature has lost perhaps its brightest ornament. To Joanna Baillie she might be inferior, not only in vigour of conception, but in the power of metaphysically analyzing those sentiments and feelings, which constitute the bases of human action; to Mrs. Jameson, in that critical perception which, from detached fragments of spoken thought, can discriminate the links which bind all into a distinctive character; to Miss Landon, in eloquent facility; to Caroline Bowles, in simple pathos; and to Mary Mitford, in power of thought; but as a female writer, influencing the female mind, she has undoubtedly stood, for some by-past years, the very first in the first rank; and this pre-eminence has been acknowledged, not only in her own land, but wherever the English tongue is spoken, whether on the banks of the Eastern Ganges, or the western Mississippi. Her path was her own; and shoals of imitators have arisen alike at home, and on the other side of the Atlantic, who, destitute of her animating genius, have mimicked her themes, and parodied her sentiments and language, without being able to reach its height.