1828 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Anna Seward

Leigh Hunt, in Review of Dyce, Specimens of British Poetesses; The Companion (2 July 1828) 381-82.



Miss Seward is affected and superfluous; but now and then she writes a good line ("And sultry silence brooded o'er the hills"—) and paints a natural picture. The strange, unheard-of luxury, which she describes, of rising to her books before day on a winter's morning, is, we confess, not unknown to us, not unenjoyed. In fact, we thought to have been new on that subject, and to have let our readers into the startling secret; but the lady has been before us,


SONNET.
December Morning, 1782.
I love to rise are gleams the tardy light,
Winter's pale dawn; — and as warm fires illume
And cheerful tapers shine around the room,
Thro' misty windows bend my musing sight,
Where, round the dusky lawn, the mansions white,
With shutters clos'd, peer faintly thro' the gloom,
That slow recedes; while you gray spins assume,
Rising from their dark pile, an added height
By indistinctness given. — Then to decree
The grateful thoughts to God, ere they unfold
To Friendship, or the Muse, or seek with glee
Wisdom's rich page: — O hours! more worth than gold,
By whose blest use we lengthen life, and free
From drear decays of age, outlive the old!

Miss Seward ought to have married, and had a person superior to herself for her husband. She would have lost her affectation; doubled her good things; and we doubt not, have made an entertaining companion for all hours, grave or gay. The daughter of the Editor of "Beaumont and Fletcher" was not a mean person, though lost among the egotisms of her native town, and the praises of injudicious friends. Meanwhile, it is something too much to hear her talk of translating an Ode of Horace, "while her hair is dressing!"