1810 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Mary Russell Mitford

Anna Laetitia Barbauld, Review of Mitford, Poems; The Monthly Review NS 63 (September 1810) 97-98.



These poems are presented to the public without the affectation of exordium or apology; they are inscribed to the Honourable William Herbert, in some lines of great simplicity and sweetness; and we think that he cannot refuse his "cheering smiles" to the modest petitioner. Miss Mitford's subjects are generally natural, and her verse is very harmonious: but she is too fond of mingling politics with her poetry; and we cannot encourage her in some of the inversions which she adopts, though they may have lately been sanctioned by writers of genius. For instance, in the following verse,

High o'er the flood the castle steep
Rear'd its proud head in feudal state,
Wav'd the broad banner on the Keep,
Frown'd darkly grim the arched gate,

we had some difficulty in understanding her precise meaning with regard to the "castle steep:" but in the last two lines we could only discover by guess that the "broad banner" waved on the Keep, and that the arched gate "frown'd darkly." This young lady seems to possess a fluency of expression, which makes such "twinings of words and meanings" the less excusable.