1801 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Charlotte Smith

Alexander Thomson, in The British Parnassus, at the Close of the Eighteenth Century (1801) 70-72.



Neither DRYDEN, not those of his season, employ
The Sonnet, that pretty poetical Toy,
Which answers so well for compression in Rhyme,
Of one single thought, either sad or sublime;
But now, what a change! in the last twenty years,
How ample the list of your sweet Sonnetteers!
Among whom CHARLOTTE SMITH far the foremost appears:
For who will deny her just claim to that place,
For her simple, pathetic, and elegant grace?
How sweet her address to the Silver Bow's Queen,
And her wish soon to rest in that fanciful scene!
How moving her fears, as the sighs to survey
The dear little troop of her children at play!
And how touching her plaint, in those moments of gloom,
When the flow'rets of Fancy had lost their perfume,
And Hope, sick at heart, was reclin'd on the tomb!
What a strain that, where ADELINE painted with force,
How vain Nature's beauties to soothe her remorse!
And that, where GODOLPHIN his wretchedness told
To the deaf ear of night, and her elements cold!
How lively those colours of contrast, that glow
In ORLANDO'S sad sketch, while he roams through the snow,
Of the Peasant's sound sleep, and his own waking woe!
But above all the rest, how delightful the gloom,
Which her CELESTINE sheds o'er the Village-Maid's tomb!
While in words, which her own disappointment disclose,
She envies the Virgin her humble repose.