1846 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Emma Catherine Embury

Edgar Allan Poe, in "The Literati of New York City" Godey's Lady's Book 1846; Works (1853) 3:84-85.



MRS. EMBURY is one of the most noted, and certainly one of the most meritorious of our female litterateurs. She has been many yars before the public — her earliest compositions, I believe, have been contributed to the "New York Mirror" under the nom de plume "Ianthe." They attracted very general attention at the time of their appearance and materially aided the paper. They were subsequently, with some other pieces, published in volume form, with the title "Guido and other Poems." The book has been long out of print. Of late days its author has written but little poetry — that little, however, has at least indicated a poetic capacity of no common order.

Yet as a poetess she is comparatively unknown, her reputation it this regard having been quite overshadowed by that which she has acquired as a writer of tales. In this latter capacity she has, upon the whole, no equal among her sex in America — certainly no superior. She is not so vigorous as Mrs. Stephens, nor so vivacious as Miss Chubbuck, nor so caustic as Miss Leslie, nor so dignified as Miss Sedgwick, nor so graceful, fanciful and "spirituelle" as Mrs. Osgood, but is deficient in none of the qualities for which these ladies are noted, and in certain particulars surpasses them all. Her subjects are fresh, if not always vividly original, and she manages them with more skill than is usually exhibited by our magazinists. She has also much imagination and sensibility, while her style is pure, earnest, and devoid of verbiage and exaggeration. I make a point of reading all tales to which see the name of Mrs. Embury appended. The story by which she has attained most reputation is "Constance Latimer, the Blind Girl."

Mrs. E. is a daughter of Doctor Manly, an eminent physician of New York city. At an early age she married a gentleman of some wealth and of education, as well as of tastes akin to her own. She is noted for her domestic virtues no less than for literary talents and acquirements.

She is about the medium height; complexion, eyes, and hair, light; arched eyebrows; Grecian nose, the mouth a fine one, and indicative of firmness; the whole countenance pleasing, intellectual, and expressive. The portrait in "Graham's Magazine" for January, 1843, has no resemblance to her whatever.