1811 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Frances Arabella Rowden

Mary Russell Mitford to William Elford, 15 December 1811; A. G. K. L'Estrange, Life of Mary Russell Mitford (1870) 1:131-32.



I must tell you a misadventure which happened to me at one of these lectures [by Coleridge]. I had set my heart on taking my friend Mrs. Rowden with me. Now she is about as difficult to draw as a road wagon (not personally, but mentally, I mean), and had no fancy for the expedition; but as she had to do with one quite as obstinate, and a thousand times more enthusiastic than herself, I carried my point, and had the satisfaction of seating her close by my side in the lecture-room. It was very full. The orator was more than usually brilliant; and I had just got Mrs. R. to confess that "he really was tolerable" (a wonderful confession, considering she was a "lady," and determined to dislike him), when, to my utter dismay, he began a period as follows: "There are certain poems — or things called poems — which have obtained considerable fame — or that which is called fame — in the world; I mean the Pleasures of Tea-drinking, and the Pleasures of Wine-drinking, and the Pleasures of Love, and the Pleasures of Nonsense, and the Pleasures of Hope." There, thank God, the list ended, for his censure was only aimed at Campbell, whom he proceeded to abuse. But think what I felt while he was going on with his "Pleasures," and I expected the "Pleasures of Friendship" to come out every moment. Mr. Rogers was just by, so that Mrs. Rowden had the comfort of company in her sensations, whatever they might be, but they had both the wit to keep them to themselves.