1845 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Caroline Norton

Henry Crabb Robinson, 31 January 1845; Diary, Reminiscences, and Correspondence (1870; 1872) 2:264.



It was not till dinner was half over that he [Rogers] was called out of the room, and returned with a lady under his arm. A lady, neither splendidly dressed nor strikingly beautiful, as it seemed to me, was placed at the table. A whisper ran along the company, which I could not make out. She instantly joined the conversation, with an ease and spirit that showed her quite used to society. She stepped a little too near my prejudices by a harsh sentence about Goethe, which I resented. And we had exchanged a few sentences when she named herself, and I then recognized the much-eulogized and calumniated Honourable Mrs. Norton, who, you may recollect, was purged by a jury finding for the defendant in a crim. con. action by her husband against Lord Melbourne. When I knew who she was, I felt that I ought to have distinguished her beauty and grace by my own discernment, and not waited for a formal announcement. You are aware that her position in society was to a great degree imperilled.