1828 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Charlotte Smith

Leigh Hunt, in Review of Dyce, Specimens of British Poetesses; The Companion (2 July 1828) 380-81.



Mrs. Smith's love of botany, as Mr. Dyce observes, "has led her, in several of her pieces, to paint a variety of flowers with a minuteness and delicacy rarely equalled." This is very true. No young lady, fond of books and flowers, would be without Charlotte Smith's poems, if once acquainted with them. The following couplet, from the piece entitled Saint Monica, shews her tendency to this agreeable miniature painting.

From the "mapped" lichen, to the "plumed" weed;
From "thready" mosses, to the "veined" flow'r.

Mrs. Smith suffered bitterly from the failure of her husband's mercantile speculations, and the consequent troubles they both incurred from the law; which, according to her representations, were aggravated in a most scandalous manner by guardians and executors. Lawyers cut a remarkable figure in her novels; and her complaints upon these her domestic grievances, overflow, in a singular, though not unpardonable or unmoving manner, in her prefaces. To one of the later editions of her poems, published when she was alive, is prefixed a portrait of her, under which, with a pretty feminine pathos, which a generous reader would be loth to call vanity, she has quoted the following lines from Shakspeare:

Oh, Time has chang'd me since you saw me last;
And heavy hours, with Time's deforming hand,
Have written strange defeatures in my face.