1809 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Felicia Hemans

Anna Laetitia Barbauld, Review of Poems by Felicia Dorothea Browne; The Monthly Review 60 (November 1809) 323.



We hear that these poems are "the genuine productions of a young lady, written between the ages of 8 and 13 years," and we do not feel inclined to question the intelligence: but, although this fact may ensure them an indulgent reception from all those who have "children dear," yet, when a little girl publishes a large quarto, we are disposed to examine before we admit her claims to public attention. Many of Miss Browne's compositions are extremely jejune, particularly the hymns and the French verses; and we doubt whether the heathen mythology justifies her in addressing a Sonnet to "the Muse of pity and of love," or in invoking the Moon by the name of "Cyllene." She may have heard that the Moon was sometimes called "Selene": but Cyllene, as she spells it, means nothing but a Mountain in Arcadia, on which a temple was built to Mercury, who was thence called "Cyllenius." However, though Miss Browne's poems contain some erroneous and some pitiable lines, we must praise the Reflections on a Ruined Castle, and the poetic strain in which they are delivered. The lines to Patriotism contain good thoughts and forcible images; and if the youthful author were to content herself for some years with reading instead of writing, we should open any future work from her pen with an expectation of pleasure, founded on our recollection of this publication: though we must, at the same time, observe that premature talents are not always to be considered as signs of future excellence. The Honey-suckle attains maturity before the Oak.