1823 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Mary Leadbeater

Anonymous, Review of Leadbeater, Cottage Biography; The Monthly Magazine 55 (April 1823) 251.



We have much pleasure in recommending to our readers, Cottage Biography, by Mrs. LEADBEATER, a correspondent of Edmund Burke, and already advantageously known by her Cottage Dialogues. It is a collection of lives of some of the Irish peasantry, known to her personally; and, whose humble adventures and peculiarities, she details with that interest and feeling for which the Society of Friends are distinguished. Her object is to give a more just idea of a class of people, "whose faults are much, whose virtues are little, known;" and for whom the people of England, much as they have lately done, would do still more, had they any opportunity of estimating their better qualities. These, unhappily, die on the spot which gave them birth, while their criminal excesses are blazoned to the world. We hail the present attempt to set them right with their neighbours, as a work both of justice and philanthropy. It is of infinite advantage to all divisions of the kingdom, that each should know the other thoroughly. The ignorance respecting Ireland is very great; of all descriptions of Irish society, still greater; and, that of the lower classes, greatest of all. The instances of the ruder virtues among them, of attachment, generosity, fidelity, and devotion, both to their superiors and to each other, would astonish the English visitor, though too common to excite peculiar notice among themselves. But their minds being wholly undisciplined, and destitute of the lights of education and moral information, the same ardour that prompts them to a great effort of good, may, when improperly directed, produce the extreme of evil. This little volume has another recommendation in its modesty, the matter of an octavo volume being comprised in a three and sixpenny duodecimo.