1809 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Anna Jane Vardill

Anonymous, in Review of Vardill, Poems and Translations; European Magazine 55 (February 1809) 141.



The translations and poems are certainly some of the most extraordinary exertions of the human mind that ever came within the scope of our observation, if we consider the very early period of the life of the writer, whose genius seems to have burst at once into a meridian splendor; still it was not only genius that was requisite to form one part of this work, the translations, but labour, care, attention, and memory; all in the first stages of existence, upon the wing, and ready to be dissipated every moment. Yet has our fair authoress contrived to condense those volatile qualities in a manner that, if we choose to indulge in comparative criticism, would make some of our learned friends, whose names it would be invidious to mention, "hide their diminished heads;" but having said so much of her, it is time to hear what she says of herself: when we shall shall resume the pleasing subject. "The translations, or imitations of the minor Greek poets were the productions of a still earlier age" (than betwixt eleven and sixteen), "A most indulgent father, in the retirement permitted by his station in the church, found amusement in the familiarising his only child with the poets of antiquity;" the effects of which education are so conspicuous in this volume. It may here be proper to state, that this young lady is the authoress of those elegant verses in commemoration of the anniversary of "the Refuge for the Destitute," which we inserted in our last number. We also learn that the early part of her life at the village of Gatehouse, of Fleet Galloway, Scotland, noted for the extensive cotton works of a near relation, and commanding a view of the beautiful and extensive pleasure grounds, elegant mansion, and gardens of Broughton Murray, Esq.

It was in this enchanting retreat that she composed most of her poems. Here she pursued her studies under the guidance of the rector of Shirbeck, of her uncle, and of her French tutor, Mr. Cramozin, of Rouen; she, it appears, applied herself with great diligence, stimulated by all the ardour of genius, to classical disquisitions. Of her proficiency in the languages her translations are the best proofs; but still her favourite pursuits were painting and music. In both these sciences she acquired much excellence; her productions in the one, and her skill in the other have been much admired and acknowledged by the most eminent connoisseurs and exquisite judges; in short, her talents are of a very superior order....