1850 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Felicia Hemans

George Gilfillan, in Second Gallery of Literary Portraits (1850) 259.



We have selected Mrs. Hemans as our first specimen of Female Authors, not because we consider her the best, but because we consider her by far the most feminine writer of the age. All the woman in her shines. You could not (unknowing of the author) open a page of her writings without feeling this is written by a lady. Her inspiration always pauses at the feminine point. It never "oversteps the modesty of nature," nor the dignity and decorum of womanhood. She is no sibyl, tossed to an fro in the tempest of furious excitement, but ever a "deep, majestical, and high-souled woman" — the calm mistress of the highest and stormiest of her emotions. The finest compliment we can pay her — perhaps it is the finest compliment that it is possible to pay to woman, as a moral being — is to compare her to "one of Shakspere's women," and to say, had Imogen, or Isabella, or Cornelia become an author, she had so written.