1827 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Mary Russell Mitford

Anonymous, in "The Crowning of the Living British Poetesses" The Literary Gazette (30 June 1827) 413.



In garment of gingham, and chapeau de paille
Deck'd with many a flower of the wood and the vale;
Her apron of check, of black worsted her hose,
With tippet and mittens for out-of-door clothes,—
Did sweet Russell Mitford trip up to the Muse;
You might hear, as she trotted, the nails in her shoes;
Yet, wond'rous to tell, where her pocket-holes gape,
They discover'd a slip of Italian crape;
And a kind of a gorget yclep'd a "Foscari"
Was clasp'd round the throat of this marvellous Mary:
'Twas finished with tassels all gilded and gay,
And seem'd, for a cottager's neck, so outre,
That it look'd like a present, at first, or a pillage,—
While the garrulous maid told a tale of "Our Village,"—
Engaging the Muse with most winning rusticity;
But, sudden, she doffs her straw-hat of simplicity,
And throws back her tresses, discovering now,
Not "the peasant's bronzed cheek," but "the high Dama's brow;"
Her gingham disguise to the winds she has flung,
And the accents of tragedy dwell on her tongue;
All this in a moment was charmingly acted,
And soon as the player her part had enacted,
Calliope greeted her smiling and soft,
And said, as she held the bright chaplet aloft,
"What a happy assortment of trappings you've chose,—
My sweet little medley of poetry and prose!
If some be too coarse, there are others too fine,
With less, I must tell you, of service than shine;
And your voice, on the stage, sounds a little bit hoarse,—
But the garland you'll take as a matter of course."