1828 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Mary Ann Browne

Anonymous, Review of Browne, Mont Blanc, and Ada; Gentleman's Magazine 98 (June 1828) 523-24.



These are two volumes of very elegant poetry, by a lady who has not yet completed her sixteenth year; yet, admiring as we do the talents of this gifted girl, we do not commend the judgment which has committed them to the ordeal of public opinion. We can perceive throughout these volumes the germs of an intense sensibility, which we think has been applied with an ill-directed fervour to themes and scenes dangerous to its possessor. What the holder of these high and rare endowments might have been, when a few more years and a larger experience had matured her judgment, refined her taste, and enriched her fancy, we can well imagine; and we lament, with a sincerity which we claim for ourselves as ardent admirers of genius, a publication which will tend to retard rather than to advance the growth of talents which, with all the praise we can bestow, we must still consider as immature. If Miss Browne belong to a school in poetry, she is the disciple of a dangerous model, and we need not shrink from naming L. E. L. There is no admirer of that gifted lady who does not regret to see her fine talents wasted upon the everlasting theme of perfidious love, concentrating the lamentations of a class of women whom undisciplined minds and irregular passions have reduced to a state which we will not dwell upon. What can an innocent girl of sixteen with kind parents and a happy home know — what ought she to know of those unholy fires to which the victims of earthly passions are consuming? We will tell her that the purity of her mind is in danger of being tainted — the health of her imagination is liable to be corrupted by such themes, and is a lamentable application of high and precious gifts to waste them upon scenes of passion and sentiment, which it is the aim of all good education to check, and of religion to eradicate.