1853 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Mary Russell Mitford

Frederic Rowton, in Female Poets of Great Britian (1853) 327.



Miss Mitford is, I think, the most thoroughly English of all our Female Poets, — I mean Saxon-English. Her verse, like her prose, has the strong, sanguine, cheerful robustness which seems characteristic of the Anglo-Saxon constitution. Miss Mitford's writings always suggest to me golden hair, blue eyes, ruddy cheeks, and vigorous limbs: — and her thoughts have a large, full, dimpled, rounded expression which is very healthful and cheerful to look upon. I never read Miss Mitford's Poems without feeling that I have before me a sound, comprehensive, true-seeing, and widely sympathising mind, very just in its views, utterly unaffected in its sentiments, and unwaveringly true in its philosophy: — whilst her mode of expression is marked by a graceful and refreshing simplicity which is very rare in minds so fully stored.

Miss Mitford's poetical works comprise almost every variety of verse, from the simplest to the loftiest; and she displays the same power and excellence in all. There is less inequality in Miss Mitford's writings, wide as is their grasp, than in the productions of almost any other author in the language. You see her whole mind in all she does; and a beautiful, lovable mind it is. Whether the work be Sonnet or Tragedy, Song or Descriptive Poem; whether the subject be homely or heavenly, rustic or classical; the same strong, unaffected, sympathetic spirit is similarly manifest: and, let her write what she will, she is always in earnest. A Daisy in her garden is the source of as true an emotion as the picture of Jerusalem during the Crucifixion; and her sympathy is as powerfully excited towards the little Forget-me-not "that loves on shadowy banks to lie," as towards the noble Rienzi, or the martyred Charles Stuart.