1812 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Anne Finch

John Hamilton Reynolds, "Anna Seward and the Countess of Winchelsea" Gentleman's Magazine 82 (Supplement to Part II 1812) 607.



Dec. 5.

Mr. Urban,

In the first volume of Miss Seward's Poetical Works, edited by Walter Scott, esq. there are some extracts made from her literary correspondence. In one of these, p. 79, she mentions having received great delight from an Ode which her mother was accustomed to recite to her in her childhood; but that she never could learn the author of it, having heard it from one who was not possessed of literary curiosity enough to inquire of its origin. As there is no note upon the subject, is is probable that the Editor is also unacquainted with the author. In looking over a volume of old poems lately, I discovered it inserted amongst them, and ascribed to Anne, Countess of Winchelsea, who lived in the reign of Queen Anne.

The second stanza is thus printed in Miss Seward's Works:

How pleasing the world's prospect lies;
How tempting to look through!
Parnassus to the Poet's eyes,
Nor Beauty, with her sweet surprize,
Can more inviting shew.

But in the volume I have mentioned, it is inserted in the following manner:

How pleasing the world's prospect lies;
How tempting to look through!
Not Canaan to the Prophet's eyes,
Nor Pysgah, with her sweet surprize,
Can more inviting shew.

Miss Seward's version certainly possesses more poetical beauty, though perhaps the latter one is most correct. The Ode in general is very excellent, and is written in that style of chaste simplicity which was so peculiar to the Poets in the reign of Anne.

Yours, &c.

J. H. R.