1853 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Felicia Hemans

Frederic Rowton, in Female Poets of Great Britian (1853) 386.



It would be as much out of good taste as it is unnecessary, to prefix a memoir of Mrs. Hemans to this brief estimate of her writings. The melancholy circumstances connected with her history are too generally known already, and should be screened rather than unveiled.

Suffice it say, therefore, that Mrs. Hemans was born in 1793, of a highly respectable family; that she was married early in life to Captain Hemans, from whom she subsequently separated; and that, after a life of singular purity and goodness, she died in 1835.

I think there can be no doubt that Mrs. Hemans takes decidedly one of the most prominent places among our Female Poets. She seems to me to represent and unite as purely and completely as any other writer in our literature the peculiar and specific qualities of the female mind. Her works are to my mind a perfect embodiment of a woman's soul: — I would say that they are intensely feminine. The delicacy, the softness, the pureness, the quick observant vision, the ready sensibility, the devotedness, the faith of woman's nature find in Mrs. Hemans their ulta representative. The very diffuseness of her style is feminine, and one would not wish it altered. Diction, manner, sentiment, passion, and belief are in her as delicately rounded off as are the bones and muscles of the Medicean Venus. There is not a harsh or angular line in her whole mental contour. I do not know a violent, spasmodic, or contorted idea in all her writings; but every page is full of grace, harmony, and expressive glowing beauty....