1872 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Anna Brownell Jameson

James T. Fields, in Yesterdays with Authors (1872; 1900) 370-72.



One of the most interesting ladies in London literary society in the period of which I am writing was Mrs. Jameson, the dear and honored friend of Procter and his family. During many years of her later life she stood in the relation of consoler to her sex in England. Women in mental anguish needing consolation and counsel fled to her as to a convent for protection and guidance. Her published writings established such a claim upon her sympathy in the hearts of her readers that much of her time for twenty years before she died was spent in helping others, by correspondence and personal contact, to submit to the sorrows God had cast upon them. She believed, with Milton, that it is miserable enough to be blind, but still more miserable not to be able to bear blindness. Her own earlier life had been darkened by griefs, and she knew from a deep experience what it was to enter the cloud and stand waiting and hoping in the shadows. In her instructive and delightful society I spent many an hour twenty years ago in the houses of Procter and Rogers and Kenyon. Procter, knowing my admiration of the Kemble family, frequently led the conversation up to that regal line which included so many men and women of genius. Mrs. Jameson was never weary of being questioned as to the legitimate supremacy of Mrs. Siddons and her nieces, Fanny and Adelaide Kemble. While Rogers talked of Garrick, and Procter of Kean, she had no enthusiasms that were not bounded in by those fine spirits whom she had watched and worshipped from her earliest years.