1821 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Anne Hunter

Cyrus Redding?, in "Poetical Works of Mrs. John Hunter" New Monthly Magazine NS 1 (March 1821) 350



In our last number we commemorated the high individual character of the lately deceased Mrs. John Hunter, and paid a tribute to her poetical memory. Her poems have been for eighteen years before the public. From being published a long time after they were written, they were less attractive to the curiosity of the times than they might have been if they had appeared earlier; but their elegant language, and chastely interesting tone of sentiment, rendered them favourites with not a few good judges of literature. In the opinion of the first of living poetesses, Mrs. Hunter's Miscellaneous Poems evince that she possessed the feeling and imagination of genius. The little piece, entitled La Douce Chimere, has great sweetness and felicity. Her lines entitled "To my Daughter on being separated from her on her Marriage," struck us as most touchingly pleasing. When we conceive a mother of sensibility addressing her child on such an occasion, poetry seems to perform a hallowed office; and unpretending as this little strain is to the character of originality, it still affects us with the truth and pathos of maternal feeling.

Dear to my heart as life's warm stream
Which animates this mortal clay,
For thee I court the waking dream,
And deck with smiles the future day;
And thus beguile the present pain
With hopes that we shall meet again.

Yet will it be, as when the past
Twined every joy and care and thought,
And o'er our minds one mantle cast
Of kind affections finely wrought?
Ah, no: the groundless hope were vain;
For so we ne'er can meet again.

May he who claims thy tender heart
Deserve its love, as I have done;
For kind and gentle as thou art,
If so beloved, thou'rt fairly won.
Bright may the sacred torch remain,
And cheer thee till we meet again!

Mrs. Hunter gave our language some its most popular songs, among which we omitted to mention, in our former notice of her compositions, "The Mermaid's Song," and the delicious little piece "My Mother bids me bind my hair."