1811 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Anna Seward

Walter Savage Landor to Robert Southey, 1811; Forster, Landor, a Biography (1869) 47-48.



I shall not see anything more than the backs of Miss Seward's Letters. I attempted to read her Life of Darwin, but was so disgusted by her impudence I threw it down. Some of her poetry may be better. My father and my aunts were rather intimate with her. I never saw her. She was so polite as to say she should be very happy to see me, and added some high-flown and idle compliment on verses, very indifferent, which I wrote at seventeen. I am not surprised she liked them better than Gebir. They were more like her own. In reply to her courtesy I said what she never should have heard, "that I preferred a pretty woman to a literary one." From that time to the present, about thirteen years, I never heard anything more about her in which I was concerned. It vexes, I must own to you it more than vexes, if afflicts and torments me, to have it disseminated in circulating libraries and country book-clubs that I condescended to that last and vilest of all baseness, my own praises in a review [in her Letters Seward accuses Landor of writing the review of Gebir in the Critical Review]. I know not any accusation so hateful. And this impudent — seems well to have known my character in selecting it for her rancor. I do not imagine that Mr. Gifford himself said this. Other men have the privilege of complaining which God and nature never permitted me. This stigma may burn into me till it burns through me: meaner men would bite and scratch it off.