1811
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Lines in imitation of the Style of Beattie's Minstrel.

Poems, by Miss Holford

Margaret Holford


Five Spenserians in which the poet asks the Muse, should she be so successful as to win fame as a poet, "Still, let affection's gentler flame survive! | Or take, ye Muses, all Ambition has to give!" p. 47. Margaret Holford had indeed won fame, albeit temporary, with her first volume, Wallace, or the Flight of Falkirk (1810). The choice of Beattie as a model in this context is probably significant, for Beattie was beginning to usurp Spenser's tutelary role for a new generation of self-educated poets. Spenserian poets in the early nineteenth century were much more likely to imitate Shenstone, Thomson, Beattie, Burns, or Byron in the Spenserian stanza than Spenser himself.

Critical Review: "No judicious friend of Miss Holford's could have recommended the present publication, which, so far from adding to the reputation she has, in our opinion justly acquired, will, we are apprehensive, have a direct contrary tendency, inducing her warmest admirers to doubt whether so much tame mediocrity is consistent with the true poetical genius for which they had before given her credit" S3 22 (March 1811) 286.

Francis Hodgson: "We cannot specify the several trifles of which this publication is composed: — 'sunt quaedam mediocrita — sunt mala plura:' but nothing, we think, is postively good. Lady Emmeline is a poor imitation of the Tales of Wonder, as far as Mr. Lewis's ballads characterize that melange. The Ode to Time, inscribed to Miss Seward, is more tolerable. In the Imitation of Beattie's Minstrel, how could Miss Holford admit such a line as 'Grim Satire 'him' appals with frequent cry'" Monthly Review NS 65 (July 1811) 245.

Poetical Register for 1810-11: "The poems contained in this volume are not of a kind to enhance the reputation which Miss Holford has acquired by her Wallace; nor, on the other hand, will they at all tend to diminish that reputation. They are always elegant, never deficient in poetical spirit, and will, consequently, afford pleasure to every reader of taste" (1814) 604.



Yes, it is hard the steep ascent to climb
Whence Fame's proud structure beams upon the eye,
And well I wot, that many a son of rhyme,
Loth to give o'er, yet timorous to try,
Pours from his weary heart the anxious sigh;
Fearful he wends, for by the mountain's side
Grim satire him appals with frequent cry,
And flaps her harpy wings, while envious Pride
Mocks from his side fair Hope, his comfort and his guide!

Yet, tho' the way be rude, and wild, and steep,
Tho' satire's irksome scream be in mine ear,
Yet will I toil the upward path to keep,
Inflexible amid those phantoms drear,
Envy, and lurking Hate, and Scorn severe;
For should my feet yon shining summit gain,
And should I grasp at length the prize so dear,
Oh! what were labour, weariness, and pain,
The meed, the immortal meed of glory to obtain!

Methinks, arrived at Fame's eternal dome,
Already round my brow her leaves entwine;
Smiling, I mark how Time's o'erwhelming gloom
Steals silently o'er many a soul supine,
And feel oblivion never can be mine!
Cease soaring Thought! the rapid pinions stay!
For sometimes Hope's frail taper will decline,
And often must I rue her wav'ring ray,
Lest it should die indeed, and fail me on my way.

Oh! if to me, ye Muses, 'tis assign'd
That pinnacle to reach, attained by few,
If Fame's loud trump shall cheer this ardent mind,
And her wide prospects glitter on my view,
Yet, for one boon, one precious boon I sue!
Still, let each social, simple feeling, thrive
Within my heart, to Nature's dictates true,
Still, let affection's gentler flame survive!
Or take, ye Muses, all Ambition has to give!

Change, they who list, the fond maternal smile,
And friendship's honest, heart-consoling glow,
For the proud honours of yon air-built pile,
And flattery, empty food of man below;
All Pride can ask, or glory can bestow!
Yet, hear me Muses from your sacred shrine!
Oh! bid these various flow'rs together grow,
Let gentleness with radiant genius twine,
Life's mild, unenvied sweets, and glory's wreath be mine!

[pp. 42-45]