1826 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Felicia Hemans

Anonymous, "Intelligence: Mrs. Hemans' Poetry" Christian Examiner [Boston] 3 (March-April 1826) 172-73.



There are few living writers whose poetry is at the present moment so popular among us, as Mrs. Hemans'. We have scarcely a periodical work, in which beautiful specimens of it are not to be found. For ourselves, upon looking back we find we are indebted to her for about one third of all the poetry that has appeared in our pages. If any other evidence of the very high esteem in which we hold this lady's productions is required, it may be seen in the remarks with which we have introduced that fine piece of hers, entitled "The Voice of Spring." But we rejoice that even more of her works, than all we have yet seen published either at home or abroad, is about to be given to the American public. A volume is preparing for the press by Professor Norton of Cambridge, which, besides the "League of the Alps" and other poems collected and sent out in manuscript by the authoress herself, will contain "The Siege of Valencia" and "The Vespers of Palermo," with a selection from her other publications. The two works, whose titles are last mentioned, "are tragedies, which," says Professor Norton, "in a very different style, may be ranked with the best of those by Miss Baillie." The following extracts from the prospectus of the volume suggest considerations, which, we are confident, will engage for it the patronage it on every account so well deserves.

These tragedies "are distinguished by their elevating and invigorating tone of sentiment, their richness of poetical expression, and their deep interest and pathos. They are, however, but little known among us. With the most beautiful of Mrs. Hemans' other poems, though they have never been published in this country, collected in a volume, all readers of taste and feeling are well acquainted. Her popularity among us is honorable to ourselves as well as to her, for her poetry addresses itself only to the best and purest feelings; and requires, perhaps more than any other, a certain degree of delicacy, refinement, and it would hardly be extravagant to add, holiness of mind, in order to estimate its full merit."

"The editor of this publication has gladly undertaken it, from a wish to put into the hands of a greater number of readers, poetry so beautiful, and so adapted to excite high moral sentiment. He has however a further object, — a desire to transmit to the authoress some expression of the respect and admiration in which she is held in this country. He has therefore proposed to publish the work by subscription. The whole profit will be transmitted to her."