UCB Libraries


Current Exhibit:

Women Romantics and Cosmopolitanism



City Scenes: The Coach-Stand 
City Scenes: The Coach-Stand


An exhibition of rare books and images on display in the Special Collections

Department, University of Colorado at Boulder Libraries, Norlin Library N345.

Exhibition Hours:


September 8-9, 2004: 10am-12pm and 1 to 5pm
September 10: 10am to 12pm and 1pm to 10pm
Sept. 15 - Dec. 17: Wed., Thur., and Fri. from 1 to 5pm.  
Closed November 25-26, Thanksgiving Holiday .

What is cosmopolitanism, and what relationship do modern era women have to it?   Our exhibit explores this very question.   If, at first blush, cosmopolitanism may be defined by the civic and global as opposed to the domestic and local, what happens when such a definition is paired with the notion of separate spheresthe concept that women and men inhabit distinct gendered arenas?   Can women, then, relate to the cosmopolitan or even be cosmopolitan?   Women Romantics and Cosmopolitanism seeks to address the complexity of this question and explore the term cosmopolitanism itself by investigating the relations and communications of late 18th early 19th century women writers.   To what extent were women writers acutely aware of civilization and culture (geographic and aesthetic), the spiritual and the cosmic?    How might women writers have accessed the cosmopolitan via the domestic?   How did their engagement in the arts and sciences, education, fashion, politics and war afford them access to the cosmopolitan?   Our goal here is not to answer for them or interpret their writings, but to provide a forum for these women to engage in conversationwith you about this topic.


This display is part of the 2004 North American Society for the Study of

Romanticism (NASSR) Conference.   Curators: J. Jennifer Jones, Dana Van Kooy,

and Terry F. Robinson (Department of English, UC-Boulder).


Special thanks to Kris McCusker and Deborah Hollis (Special Collections), and NASSR 04 Committee Directors Jeffrey Robinson, Jill Heydt-Stevenson, and in particular, Jeffrey N. Cox, without whom this exhibit would not have been possible. With special thanks to Tim Riggs, Daniel Davidson and Darrell Cook for technical and material assistance; and to Cyndie Hardey, Cheryl Koelling, Windy Lundy and Clare Marie Wall for lending additional artifacts for the display.




Alcock, Mary (1741-1798).   The Air-Balloon; or, Flying Mortal.   A Poem .

London : Printed for E. Macklew , 1784.   Disbound.   Apparently translated
from a French original.   [WPRP 164 Oversize.]


Mary Alcock's mother was the daughter of classicist Richard Bentley, and her brother was Richard Cumberland, a poet, novelist, and dramatist.   Alcock probably took some part in her brother's literary life and may have known his friends Garrick, Reynolds, Goldsmith, Foote, and Sheridan.   She married Archdeacon Alcock and after his death moved to Bath where she was a member of the Batheaston circle of Lady Anna Miller.   She was an active philanthropist, but was hampered by a weak constitution.   The Air-Balloon was the only work published during Alcock's lifetime; a posthumous collection, Poems (edited by Joanna Hughes) was published in 1799, a year after her death.


Shelley, Percy Bysshe.   To a Balloon, laden with Knowledge


BRIGHT ball of flame that thro the gloom of even

Silently takest thine ethereal way,

And with surpassing glory dimm'st each ray

Twinkling amid the dark blue depths of Heaven,

Unlike the Fire thou bearest, soon shalt thou

Fade like a meteor in surrounding gloom,

Whilst that, unquenchable, is doomed to glow

A watch-light by the patriots lonely tomb;

A ray of courage to the opprest and poor;

A spark, though gleaming on the hovel's hearth,

Which through the tyrant's guilded domes shall roar;

A beacon in the darkness of the Earth;

A sun which, o'er the renovated scene,

Shall dart like Truth where Falsehood yet has been.


From Shelley: Poetical Works .   Ed. Thomas Hutchinson, corrected by G.M. Matthews, 1905.   New York: Oxford UP, 1970. Reprint 1975.


Shelley, Percy Bysshe.   On Launching some bottles filled with Knowledge into the Bristol Channel


VESSELS of heavenly medicine!   May the breeze

Auspicious waft your dark green forms to shore;

Safe may ye stem the wide surrounding roar

Of the wild whirlwinds and the raging seas;

And oh! If Liberty e'er deigned to stoop

From yonder lowly throne her crownless brow,

Sure she will breathe around your emerald group

The fairest breezes of her West that blow.

Yes! she will waft ye to some freeborn soul

Whose eye-beam, kindling as it meets your freight,

Her heaven-born flame in suffering Earth will light,

Until its radiance gleams from pole to pole,

And tyrant-hearts with powerless envy burst

To see their night of ignorance dispersed.


From Shelley: Poetical Works .   Ed. Thomas Hutchinson, corrected by G.M. Matthews, 1905.   New York: Oxford UP, 1970. Reprint 1975.

Alcock, Mary (1741-1798).   Poems, &c. &c.

Ed. Joanna Hughes.   London: Printed for
C. Dilly, 1799.   [WPRP 191.]


This posthumous collection of poems edited by Joanna Hughes was published the year following Alcock's death and is bound together with other materials: The Literary Panorama (March 1812), James Kenny's The World! A Comedy in Five Acts , and Isaac Pocock's Hit or Miss! A Musical Farce in Two Acts .


As a collection of diverse materials, this Miscellany is intriguing in its diversity.   Besides The Air Balloon, none of Alcock's poems were published during her life.   Very little information is available about her life and even less about her poetry.   This collection of her poetry represents her oeuvre .   In addition to The Air Balloon, this collection also contains poems such as The Body Politic and Instructions, Supposed to be Written in France for the Mobs of England.   Both of these poems give voice to the social and political anxieties produced by the French Revolution.


Also included in this Miscellany is a copy of the journal, The Literary Panorama (vol. XL, March 1812).   Ostensibly, this journal seems to be a large advertisement for the publishers.   Book reviews and publication notices take up much of the first half.   Included in this issue is a review of Byron's Childe Harold's Pilgrimage.


James Kenney's The World! is the first of two dramas included.   Reviled in Byron's English Bards and Scotch Reviewers, Kenney was a popular playwright, probably most well-known for his melodramas.   We've chosen to highlight several lines from the Epilogue, written by M.G. Lewis.   Here, Lewis plays upon this idea of the world as spheres of influence: the theatre, the political arena, the audience.   All of these are interwoven, isolated yet mutually influential.


The final entry is Isaac Pocock's second play Hit or Miss! (Lyceum 1810).   Like many popular plays, Hit or Miss! features the topical, here, the Whip or Driving Club of London.   An actual club in London, these young men made a fashion of wearing their servants' liveries and adopting their speech.   Not only this, but they made a habit of driving their coaches through London and the surrounding areas.   Apparently, their driving left much to be desired and they created as much havoc on the roads as they did in their social circles.   Mr. Matthews's appearance on stage wearing the livery of the Whip Club caused a stir within critical circles.   See, for example, Hunt's review of the play in The Examiner III (4 March 1810, p.139).   Incorporating the Whip Club allowed Pocock to conflate satire and comedy, producing several comic scenes where Cypher is misidentified as a servant.   In the end, however, Pocock's witty satire gives way to a conservative moralism: [W]hen gentlemen associate with their servants, talk like their servants and do their servant's work, and dress like their servants; they ought not to be offended at a stranger's not knowing the master from the man.







OF Liberty, Reform, and Rights I sing,

Freedom I mean, without or Church or King;

Freedom to seize and keep whate'er I can,

And boldly claim my right The Rights of Man:

Such is the Blessed liberty in vogue,

The envied liberty to be a rogue;

The right to pay no taxes, tithes, or dues;

The liberty to do what'er I chuse;

The right to take by violence and strife

My neighbour's goods, and, if I please, his life;

The liberty to raise a mob or riot,

For spoil and plunder ne'er were got by quiet;

The right to level and reform the great;

The liberty to overturn the state;

The right to break through all the nation's laws

And boldly dare to take rebellion's cause:

Let all be equal, every man my brother;

Why one have property, and not another?

Why suffer titles to give awe and fear?

There shall not long remain one British peer;

Nor shall the criminal appalled stand

Before the mighty judges of the land;

Nor judge, nor jury shall there longer be,

Nor any jail, but every pris'ner free;

All law abolish'd, and with sword in hand

We'll seize the property of all the land.

Then hail to Liberty, Reform, and Riot!

Adieu contentment, Safety, Peace, and Quiet! (48-49)


                                                Mary Alcock






IF in the Body-politic you see

Rebellion, rapine, bloodshed, anarchy,

That state you say is lost!   So when you find

The body human with distemper'd mind,

The blood corrupted, and the fever high,

You doubt not to pronounce that man must die.


      Now in the way of Fable we'll suppose

Rebellion in the human frame arose;

Each member loudly sounded forth his merit,

And cried, t' obey the Head shew'd want of spirit;

Twas time the Limbs should now assert their part,

And overturn the empire of the Heart.


      The stubborn Knees declar'd no more they'd bend

For God or King, nor any strength would lend

To bear a Head of such unwieldy size;

To hear and see requir'd not Ears and Eyes;

All parts the gift of hearing and of sight.


      Whereat the Feet stept forth with furious sound

Stamping and swearing they'd not touch the ground;

Henceforth aloft they'd rise erect in air,

And make the daintier Hands the burden bear.


      This said, the Hands indignant caught th' alarm,

And struggling tried to separate from the Arm;

Aloud they clapp'd, and summon'd all to fight

To fix their freedom, and enforce their right.

And now Convulsion seiz'd on every part,

Loud beat each Pulse, and terror shook the Heart;

Within was heard a horrid noise and rout,

The Inside claim'd the right to be the Out.

The Lungs protested they'd not draw the breath;

They car'd not if it brought on instant death;

Twere better all were lost than they denied

The right to hold a share in the Outside.


      The Stomach roar'd he soon wou'd stop digestion,

If e'er his outside right was call'd in question:

The Veins declar'd they'd not perform their part,

Nor longer throw the blood up to the Heart;

The Heart might feed itself, or yield its place

To those, who'd fill it with a better grace.


      On this the Liver writh'd himself around,

And swore that long, though rotten and unfound,

He'd sought that place; he now would seize the throne,

For he was fit to rule, and he alone.

This rous'd the Spleen, who on the vitals fed,

Planning by craft the downfal of the Head;

But now o'ercharg'd with envy, rage, and guile,

In haste he rose, and overset the Bile.


      Thus all within was agony and strife,

Each fresh convulsion seem'd to threaten life;

The Limbs distorted rise they give the blow,

And soon the Head (so honour'd once) lay low.

And now behold the Body's wretched state,

Taught by this sad example, ere too late,

That such each Body-politic must be,

Where foul rebellion reigns and anarchy. (40-43)


                                                Mary Alcock


From the Epilogue to James Kenney's The World! , by M.G. Lewis, Esq., spoken by Mr. Elliston :


Let our play live; behold your proper sphere!

For then assur'd you'll say the World is here.

You all, no doubt, have often sought to view,

In Fancy's glass, what the World thinks of you:

But Now we'd know, from gallery, boxes, pit,

Not what it thinks of you , but what you think of it.

Yet, you love yourselves, our bard may say,

You'll surely shew some mercy to this play;

Repressing hiss, and hoot, and cough and groan,

For know, this drama's fate involves your own!

Then while applause our anxious doubts dispels,

Applaud, ye beaux make them applaud, ye belles:

For if with frowning faces now we sever,

We all to night shall leave the world for ever.



[Armstrong, William Henry.]   The Poetic Negligée .  

By Caleb [pseud.].   London: Simpkin and Marshall,
1832.   [PR 4007 A7 P641832.]


Printed on pink paper with gilt edges throughout, this rare first edition of languidly erotic poems contains a title page with the motto Loyaute aux Dames, and, as the next leaf reads, the following pages are, with the veriest heart-homage, dedicated to the first, chiefest, and most lovely of God's works, Woman.   The collection is primarily devoted to poems on women and sensual pleasure.   The poem, Rose of Love, intriguingly includes references to Cupid's realm as the vast universe, Indus, Italia, Lusitania, Cintra, Iberia, and Afric.   The poet comes to realize, however,


But though I've barter'd pleasant sighs

      With those who've toy'd the while

In far-off lands my heart still pined

      For its own ocean-isle;

As, sooth to tell, a secret charm

      Wove this around my mind

The fairest of all earthly fair

      In Albion thou wilt find.'


City Scenes: Ship Detail
City Scenes: Ship Detail



Baillie, Joanna (1762-1851).   A Series of Plays: In Which It Is Attempted
to Delineate the Stronger Passions of the Mind: Each Passion Being
the Subject of a Tragedy and a Comedy.
4 vols.   Vols. I-III are Series
of Plays
.   London: Longman, 1806-1812.   Vol. IV is Miscellaneous
London: Longman, 1805.   [WPRP 130.]


Joanna Baillie was highly regarded as a dramatist and A Series of Plays: In Which It Is Attempted to Delineate the Stronger Passions of the Mind: Each Passion Being the Subject of a Tragedy and a Comedy can be considered her most significant sustained work.   The Introductory Discourse in the first volume, originally published in 1798, outlines a program of dramatic reform, emphasizing a return to the traditional theatrical generic forms, tragedy and comedy.   This is not to suggest that Baillie did not indulge in mixt dramas, but rather that she was acutely aware of the significant role dramatic productions played at the turn of the century.




Baillie, Joanna (1762-1851).   Epilogue to the Theatrical
Representations at Strawberry-Hill.

Written by Johanna Baillie [sic] and spoken by the
Hon. Anne S. Damer, November 1800 . No
publication information.   Disbound.   [WPRP 102.]




Barbauld, Mrs. [Anna Letitia (neé Aikin)] (1743-1825).  
Eighteen Hundred and Eleven, a Poem.  

By Anna L'titia Barbauld.   London: J. Johnson
& Co., 1812.   [WPRP 1.]


The author of a 50-volume edition of the best English novelists, The Female Speaker, and poetry and prose for young ladies, Anna Laetitia Barbauld was born in Leicestershire, ran a boy's school in Palgrave, Suffolk with her husband, and also lived for some time in Hampstead.   She socialized in dissenting circles, and her friends included Joanna Baillie and her sister.   Eighteen Hundred and Eleven was the last of her works published in her lifetime.   In it, Barbauld addresses the fading power of the British empire, which had been at war with France for seventeen years, was on hostile terms with America , and was being ruled by the mentally unstable George III.   Europe, in addition, was under Napoleon's control.   Detractors of the poem accused Barbauld of undermining national morale.




Barbauld, Mrs. [Anna Letitia (neé Aikin)] (1743-1825).   Inni Giovenili.

Della Signora Barbauld.   Tradotti da un Toscano.   Londra: Stampato per N. Hailes, Libreria Giovenile; da C. Whittingham, 1819.   [WPRP 166.]


This is a first Italian edition of Anna Barbauld's Hymns in Prose for Children , originally published in 1781.   Addressed to Mrs. Somerville from the translator.




Campbell, Susan Maria, Lady Charlotte.   Afterwards Bury (1775-1861).  
The Three Great Sanctuaries of Tuscany, Valombrosa, Camaldoli,
Laverna: a Poem, with Historical and Legendary Notices

Illustrated by engravings of the scenery from original drawings by the
late Reverend Edward Bury.   By the Right Honorable Lady Charlotte
Bury.   London: John Murray, 1833.   [WPRP 100 Oversize.]


Excerpt from Historical and Legendary Notices on Valombrosa:


      Many and various were the treasures, as well of art as of literature, which for centuries found safe refuge within these cloistral walls.   Naturalists speak highly of the collections in many departments of natural history which once existed here.   And the productions of the soil itself, still preserved in the Monastery, are said to afford curious specimens, as well of minerology as of botany: in the immediate vicinity of Valombrosa, the bones of elephants and other animals continue to be occasionally discovered; a circumstance, by some explained as tending to mark the line of Hannibal's march through Italy; but by others is referred to the causes to which the deposit of all fossil remains, in different regions of the world, are assigned.

      The treasures of every denomination which had been so long held sacred even by the most lawless hands, were at length plundered by the French during the last period of the revolution which, indeed, occasioned throughout Italy the dispersion of every thing that the unsparing cupidity of man could remove.   It could not, however, plunder the country of its rocks, and woods, and streams; or the thousand recollections of by-gone ages, attached to its locality.   There must ever remain imperishable monuments for future travellers to venerate and to love.

      Although the more noted works of art have been restored in part, by the course of subsequent events, to their parent land, many of them have never returned to their original destination [ . . . ].   How far this assemblage of the treasures of art in particular places is desirable, becomes a question, which feeling may, perhaps, decide in one way, expediency in another; since, allowing for all that may be said with respect to their preservation, and the facilities afforded to students, by placing the master-pieces of art in one spot, there is a less diffusive, but it may be a more intense and effective benefit to be derived, from beholding a single work of art in the very place for which it was designed, and where its first conception had birth.  

[ . . . ]   As I mused in the Certosa of Valombrosa, its bare walls and half-ruined refectory, I was not at all consoled for its spoliation by the reflection, that many of the beauties by which they had been formerly decorated, were to be searched for, perhaps found, in the different public museums, even of Florence; and there is a sadness that steals over the mind on beholding this devastation, for which no reflection of possible utility can compensate [ . . . ].




Colling, Mary Maria (1805-1853).   Fables and Other Pieces
in Verse.  
With Some Account of the Author, in Letters to
Robert Southey, Esq.
Poet Laureate, etc.

Edited by Mrs. [Anna Eliza] Bray .   1st Edition.  
London: Longman, 1831.   [WPRP 168.]


It is fascinating to contemplate the packaging of this collection of poems: Mrs. Bray takes care that it is preceded by her own lengthy letters to Robert Southey detailing the author's personal history as well as an epigraph by William Wordsworth (who is among the list of subscribers to this piece) to which Bray continuously, though not explicitly, refers.   Bray portrays Colling as a true poet of nature in the Wordsworthian sense of term.   Her poetry spontaneously erupts as the result not of book learning or education generally but of unfettered intercourse with nature.   Although it remains unclear whether Colling or Bray chose the allusion to Wordsworth's The Excursion , it is interesting to note that the epigraph transforms the words spoken by the Wanderer (therefore, am I bound / To worship, here, and everywhere as one / Not doomed . . .) such that it does not appear as the simile it in fact is in its larger context.   Bray figures Colling as the embodiment of the simile such that the figuration itself is erased and her life becomes the substance of the Wordsworthian ideal of the poet of nature.   Given that Bray manages but does not conceal Colling's background as a self-educated servant, the relationship she creates between Wordsworth and Colling is not only interesting but also potentially enriching to both poets as a means for considering the relations between nature poetry and class in Romantic writing.   Finally, Colling's poem The Rotten Stick indicates that Colling did not necessarily imagine herself as a mere conduit of nature, or even a nature poet.   This piece shows Colling to be extremely savvy about her position as a writer, arguably a female writer, in the midst of a rising print culture.   In the poem's address to the reader as friend and its subsequent critique of friendship, it also performs a complex understanding of that position.  



Excerpt from Letters to Southey edited by Mrs. Bray, in Colling's Fables:


Mary Colling [ . . . ] was a servant in a gentleman's family [ . . . ] a clever girl, and fond of poetry.   [ . . . ] it was not [ . . . ] till the 4th of March, 1831, that I became fully aware of her remarkable talents; since on that day I first received from her, through the hands of one of my own servants, a small parcel, containing a few of her poems [ . . . ].   On receiving her wages, it had been her custom to spend as small a sum as she possibly could upon her clothes, and to buy little books with the remainder.   [ . . . ]   Some few books have been lent to her [ . . . ].   Yet, putting all her reading together, I found it amounted to very little; [ . . . ] she began to compose her fables, before she had ever read any [ . . . ].   In the history of this poor girl's mind [ . . . ] I was anxious to learn what could have induced her to think of writing fables, not having been, from her own account, at all prompted to do so by reading them.   She blushed like crimson when I asked her, smiled, and at last I drew out the confession.   [ . . . ]   She would tell me truth, though she was afraid to speak it, lest I should think her mazed; but when of an evening she was amongst the flower beds, and saw them all so lively and so beautiful, she used to fancy the flowers talked to her .   Thus, a peony growing near her laurel tree, she fancied the one reproaching the other for not being so fine as itself, and so composed her little fable of the Peony and the Laurel.'   And these kind of thoughts used to come into her head in a moment, and then she turned them into verses and fables.   [ . . . ]   Is not this poor girl truly a poet of nature? I have not the slightest doubt of what she says; for almost all her fables and her best fables relate to flowers and trees.



Example of a poem by Mary Colling:

My friend, beware! don't lean thereon;

      A rotten stick's no stay;

It will not break, if left alone;

      But, if you lean, it may.


And while I speak, a thought doth strike

      My mind, which seems to say,

How much a rotten stick is like

      The friendships of the day.


Be cautious how you trust a friend,

      For friendship's weak at best;

If all were true who do pretend,

      How would the world be blest.


For many look like friends indeed:

      All's well, while left alone;

But when you come their help to need,

      Behold, their friendship's gone!


There's a sure way to shun this ill

      On no one to depend;

To all the world maintain good will:

      But make yourself your friend.



Epigraph, from Book IV of The Excursion :



Not doom'd to ignorance, though forced to tread,

From childhood up, the ways of poverty;

From unreflecting ignorance preserved,

And from debasement rescued By Thy grace

The particle divine remain'd unquench'd.





[Cowley, Hannah (1743-1809).]   The Poetry of Anna Matilda [pseud.] Containing A Tale for Jealousy, The Funeral, Her Correspondence with Della Crusca [pseud.] and Several Other Poetical Pieces.   To Which Are Added Recollections, Printed from an Original Manuscript, Written by General Sir William Waller.

London : J. Bell, 1788.   [WPRP 257.]


The late 18th-century Della Cruscan phenomenon began with the publication of The Florence Miscellany (1785) and can be characterized, in part, by its rhetorically ornate style.   The school was centered around Robert Merry (Della Crusca) who belonged to the Accademia della Crusca (Ital., academy of the chaff), a literary society founded in Florence in 1582 to maintain the purity of the language.   Other more notable Della Cruscans included Hannah Cowley (Anna Matilda) and Mary Robinson (Laura Maria).   Merry, Cowley, and Robinson's poetry was published mainly in The European Magazine and The World and was unforgivingly satirized by William Gifford in The Baviad (1791) and The Maeviad (1795).


Cowley's collection, shown here, includes the poetic correspondence between Anna Matilda (Hannah Cowley) and Della Crusca (Robert Merry), short poetic pieces by Cowley, and Recollections written by General Sir William Waller (1598?-1668), the leading Parliamentary commander in southern England during the first three years of the Civil War and later, a political leader of the House of Commons' Presbyterian faction.   The Pen is one of the more famous Della Cruscan poems.




Cowley, Hannah (1743-1809).   The Runaway, a Comedy.

London : I Dodsley, T. Becket and T. Cadell, [n.d.]  
Bound with other items.   [WPRP 108.]




Curties, Marianne. Classical Pastime, in a Set of Poetical
Enigmas, on the Planets and Zodiacal Signs.

Reading : Printed by Snare and Man, Seven
Bridges. 1813.   [WPRP 23.]




[Gore, Mrs. Catherine Grace Frances (1799-1861).]   Women
as They Are; or, The Manners of the Day.

2nd ed.   London : H. Colburn and R. Bentley,
1830.   3 vols.   [WPRP 118.]


With its early emphasis on the necessity of a good match, and its ironic tone with its readers, Women as They Are; or, The Manners of the Day, evokes comparison with Jane Austen, especially with her dramatic allusions and her ironic and playful tone with her characters and her readers.


It occurred, indeed, to her simple and ingenuous heart, that the triumph exhibited by her parents at the prospect of dismissing her for ever from their fosterhood, was an evidence of personal indifference, peculiarly calculated to embellish the promises of that home wherein her presence was so fondly desired; and that among the many who oppressed her with their extasies of sympathy, Lord Willersdale, her future husband, was the only inmate of Mordaut Hall who was really solicitous to soothe away the embarrassements of her new and startling position, and to render it as subservient as possible to her own tastes and caprices to her present pride and future comfort. He had, it is true, none of the vehement gallantry, the extravagant adoration, and knee-worship of a boy-lover. He was not at all hours of the day pertinaciously fixed at her side, or jealously covetous of her attention; but his distant eye was seldom averted from her countenance; her slightest and most unnoted observation met an instant reply from his seemingly inattentive lips, [].   Still, however, the fervour of a lover's tenderness never animated those answers, or hurried that approach. The dignified composure of Lord Willersdale's address, was undisturbed either by the trepidation of his own feelings, or by the thousand trifling and ludicrous peculiarities of a lover's predicament in the home of his future bride. He was gentle and ingratiating, but so dispassionately tranquil in his demeanour, that Helen's cousins from Oxford , and brothers from Eton , mutually inveighed against him as the worst lover in the world. (5-7)




[Hemans, Felicia Dorothea Browne (1793-1835).]  
The Restoration of the Works of Art to Italy : a Poem.

By a Lady.   Oxford: W. Baxter, 1816.   [WPRP 217.]


Felicia Hemans was one of the most popular poets during the nineteenth century.   Avidly read in the United States as well as Great Britain, her circle of friends included Joanna Baillie, Maria Jane Jewsbury, Sir Walter Scott, and William Wordsworth.   Percy Shelley requested to correspond with her, but was refused.   Recognized as a poet, she also wrote two dramas.   Considered her best work, The Siege of Valencia (1823) was never performed.   The Vespers of Palermo was produced at Covent Garden (December 1823) and although Charles Kemble played the lead role, the play closed after one night.   The play was more successful in Edinburgh the following April.


Written the year of Napoleon's final defeat at Waterloo, The Restoration of the Works of Art to Italy: a Poem begins with this Advertisement, taken from John Chetwode Eustace's Classical Tour through Italy :


THE French, who in every invasion have been the scourge of Italy, and have rivaled or rather surpassed the rapacity of the Goths and Vandals, laid their sacrilegious hands on the unparalleled collection of the Vatican, tore its Masterpieces from their pedestals, and dragging them from their temples of marble, transported them to Paris, and consigned them to the dull sullen halls, or rather stables, of the Louvre .   


But the joy of discovery was short, and the triumph of taste transitory! (Vol. ii, p. 60)


Like Eustace, Hemans critiques Napoleon's triumphal march through Europe, especially, the subjugation of people through the appropriation of their artworks.   With Napoleon's exile to St. Helena, Hemans's title suggests that the artwork stolen from the Italian people will be returned.   Hemans, however, promises restoration but demands re-creation.   Letting the ruins of desolation speak a haughty tale (9), the critique of empire is aestheticized, anesthetized, and transformed into the assertion of an-other empire whether artistic, Italian, British or, more probably, a conflation of all three, remains somewhat unclear.   There is very little that is redemptive or liberating in Hemans's aesthetization of Italy's future; the Italians may be free of one tyrant, but there is another hero looming on the horizon.   This poem exposes the dilemma of aesthetics: it may speak the memory of injustice but it also justifies the sublime assertion of heroes, genius, and empire:


Rome in phoenix-grandeur burst

With one bright glance dispel th' horizons gloom,

With one loud call wake Empire from tomb;

Bind round her brows her won triumphal crown

Lift her dread Aegis, with majestic frown,

Unchain her Eagle's wing, and guide his flight

To bathe its plumage in the fount of Light. (22-23)


  Portrait of Felicia Hemans
Portrait of Felicia Hemans



[Hitchener, Elizabeth (1782-1822).]   Enigmas, Historical and
Geographical, by a Clergyman's Daughter.

London: Darton and Harvey, 1834.   [WPRP 90.]


Elizabeth Hitchener was a schoolmistress at Hurstpierpoint.   Purportedly the daughter of a retired smuggler from the Sussex coast, Miss Hitchener was in contact with the radical Godwinian circle in London.   Sometime in June 1811, she met Percy Bysshe Shelley and they developed a close friendship.   Shelley mentored her and they shared many intellectual and political interests, which are reflected in their intimate correspondence.   Eventually, Hitchener joined Shelley, Harriet, and Eliza in Lynmouth, where a communal circle was in the making.   Hitchener did not reside long with Shelley and Harriet.   Differences of opinion, jealousies, and other tensions soon forced Hitchener's return to Hurstpierpoint, where she was the subject of scandalous gossip and for some time quite poor.   She traveled abroad and married an Austrian officer and upon returning to England ran a successful school at Edmonton.   Her letters to Shelley were first published in a private edition in 1890 and reissued in 1908.


Enigmas, Historical and Geographical, by a Clergyman's Daughter is an example of the enigma, a series of riddles used as a mnemonic tool to teach students the names of historical, literary, and political figures, the names and locations of geographical markers and celestial objects such as planets, comets, and constellations.   Often, there is an emphasis on classical and biblical characters as well.


Hitchener's directions to the students focus on the transmission of historical knowledge and the need to imaginatively reflect on the exercise as a playful engagement:


COME now, my dear children, a moment attend,

Instruction with pleasure, fain, fain would I blend;

And as I well know that the latter is near

When the cheerful Enigma is made to appear,

The former , I think, we may justly expect,

If, a riddle to solve, you are led to reflect.

Then listen attentively, while I propose,

Each should her historical knowledge disclose.


Hitchener's collection poses fifty enigmas, which require three to ten answers each.   Once the student answers each of the questions, there is an additional step of using the first letter of each word to arrive at another, final answer.   For example, the answer to the last enigma is FOX, which breaks down into Freshwater Bay, Orboe, Xalon.   Unlike Curties's Classical Pastime, a Set of Poetical Enigmas on the Planets and Zodiacal Signs , where the students are required to use their knowledge of the classics (with a few exceptions) to arrive at the names of planets and constellations, Hitchener's is much more complex.   Not only are there more enigmas to solve, but the depth, breadth and types of knowledge required to respond correctly suggests quite a bit about the curriculum at schools where Hitchener could have taught as lower class, intellectually driven and politically interested woman.   This combination of political, geographical, mythical, classical, historical, astrological, and biblical knowledge suggests that the motivations for attaining knowledge at these schools were closely aligned to schools like Warburton and Enfield, where a program of pragmatic cosmopolitics was developed to provide children with the cultural capital necessary to engage in political and economic activities that shaped nineteenth-century England.


An example of an enigma from Hitchener's book:



FIRST, the name of that Sovreign recall to your mind,

Who barbarous Russia reform'd and refin'd.

Next, think of the chief at Thermoplyæ's   straits,

Who death for the sake of his country awaits.

Then turn your attention to Macedon's realm;

The successor of Philip must sit at the helm;

Nor end your researches till you can declare

Who it was that assum'd the pontifical chaiar

In one thousand two hundred and seventy sev'n

Nor must you desist when his name you have giv'n,

But go on to declare what brave British prince

True greatness tow'rds John, king of France, did evince;

What poet renown'd of the Seasons has sung,

And who was struck dead with a lie on her tongue.

Then let their initials be carefully join'd,

And some of the heavenly bodies you'll find.




P   eter I.

L   eonidas

A   lexander

N   icholas III.

E   dward

T   hompson

S   apphira.


City Scenes: Peripetetic Detail
City Scenes: Peripetetic Detail




[Jewsbury, Maria Jane (1800-1833).]   Phantasmagoria:
or, Sketches of Life and Literature.

1st ed. London: Hurst, Robinson, 1825.  
2 vols.   [WPRP 135.]


First successful publication, dedicated to William Wordsworth.   She sent a copy of the first volume to him as a gift.


Indeed authorship has become such a mere every-day occupation, for mere every-day people, that it is rather hazardous to point out any one of your acquaintances as a person who you are sure does not write, and has no thoughts of publishing.   Your most intimate friend, however dull, may be guilty of a statistical quarto; your youngest daughter may, unknown to you, write all the poetry for a magazine, besides having a volume of Fragments in prose and verse, almost ready for publication.   You may have a talented washerwoman quite clever at composition, and even your barber's apprentice may be a rising genius []. (3-4)


O! glorious days, for the rag-gatherer and the paper-maker!   O, lamentable days for the wings of the grey goose and the crow!   O, days more lamentable still for the poor public, libeled, loaded, cudgeled, and worked like a patient donkey!   But to add, and fed as scantily, would render the figure inapplicable.   In point of feeding, the public rather resembles a spoiled child, that is crammed with trash from morning till night, and then upbraided with its unhealthy appetite. (4)


Our writers are for the most part full of themselves, and their writings are a tissue of localities.   The strength of modern intellect is given to the flitting fancies and evanescent interests, which alternately rise and fall on the surface of the present moment, while the silent depths of human nature, those principles, and powers, and passions, which neither change nor pass away, are left comparatively unfathomed and unsearched. (8)




L.E.L. [Letitia Elizabeth Landon] (1802-1838).  
The Improvisatrice; and Other Poems.

1st ed.   London: Hurst, Robinson, 1824.  
[WPRP 136.]


In Mary Robinson's translation of Dr. Hagar's Picture of Palermo , there is a reference to the improvisatori (or people who possess so remarkable a command of language, that they can return extempore an answer in rhyme to any subject proposed to them (70).   With The Improvisatrice; and Other Poems , Letitia Elizabeth Landon invokes this tradition for herself as a writer while further developing an aesthetic associated with Italian culture. As Landon writes in the Advertisement, The Improvisatrice


is an attempt to illustrate that species of inspiration common in Italy , where the mind is warmed in earliest childhood by all that is beautiful in Nature and glorious in Art.   The character depicted is entirely Italian, a young female with all the loveliness, vivid feeling, and genius of her own impassioned land.   She is supposed to relate her own history; with which are intermixed the tales and episodes which various circumstances call forth.


The Improvisatrice is a framed tale.   Initially focusing on the artist, the poem creates an engendered aesthetics of genius where women employ a tradition reaching back to Sappho, and are expert in the sister arts of painting and music/poetry.   Emphasizing the sublime genius of women, the poem transitions to a series of oriental romances with Sappho's Song which ends with these lines:


And mingled with these thoughts there came

      A tale, just one that Memory keeps

Forgotten music, till some chance

      Vibrate the chord whereon it sleeps! (15)


The tale is a generic treasure-trove: ballads, tales, miscellaneous poems and fragments. But the theme is all too consistent: faithless and forbidden love, or at best, love interrupted by the death of the beloved.




Knapp, G. Oswald, Ed. The Intimate Letters of Hester
Piozzi and Penelope Pennington, 1788-1821

London: John Lane; New York: John Lane Co., 1914.  
Norlin Stacks PR3619 P5 Z493 1914.




Lickbarrow, Isabella. Poetical Effusions.

Kendal: Printed for the Authoress, by M. Branthwaite
& Co., 1814.   [WPRP 47.]


Isabella Lickbarrow, who published in order to support herself and her orphan sisters, lived, like many of the more famous male Romantic poets, in Westmorland.   Among the near 400 subscribers to Poetical Effusions were Thomas De Quincey, Robert Southey, and William Wordsworth.   The poem shown here, Lines on the Comet, may refer to any number of comets appearing in England and France during the late eighteenth century including the Great Comet of 1807 or the Great Comet of 1811, the latter of which Napoleon declared to be an omen indicating his success in his planned invasion of Eastern Europe and Russia in 1812 (Brown, 1974).   According to the General Evening Post for 1811 September 21-24, The present comet must be deemed ominous to Bonaparte from the length of time that it will be visible; no comet ever continued longer except that which appeared in the reign of the monster Nero.   Visible with the naked eye through mid-April 1811 and lasting until the first week of January 1812, observers with telescopes followed it for 511 days, which more than doubled the record of 201 days set by the Great Comet of 1807.   Consequently, the Comet of 1811 caused a great social stir; even wine merchants produced their famous comet wine for several years following its appearance.   In the eighteenth century, many scientific advances were made with regard to understanding comet phenomena, including the confirmation of Halley's theories regarding comet orbits in 1758 and Alexander Guy Pingré's Cometographie ou Traité Historique et Théorique des Cometes (1783-84).   By 1812, scientist Heinrich W.M. Olbers theorized that comets were made of solid particles directed in relation to the sun.



The Hackney Coachman

Anonymous illustrator for Hannah More's The Hackney
1796, from The Cheap Repository.




More, Hannah (1745-1833).   Slavery, a Poem.

London: T. Cadell, 1788.   [ New; not yet numbered. ]


Only years after her death, the work of immortalizing More's role as single-handedly advancing British morality was already underway.   Composer of poetry, hymns, drama, tracts and tales, Hannah More had often been praised for her leading part in the reformation of the country.   Her extensive writings about the education of women, about the poor and the African slave, and about the need for morality assured her being considered one of the most influential female philanthropists of her day.   Hannah More was a woman invested in and influenced by the political and religious matters of her conservative evangelical social sphere, as she was a central member of what became christened the Clapham Sect, a group consisting of the leading late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Evangelical leaders who frequently visited or lived in Clapham.  


In January of 1788, Hannah More joined Wilberforce and the Reverend John Newton in acts of anti-slavery agitation, writing Slavery, a Poem in an effort to influence Parliament to abolish the slave trade.   In this section of the poem, More questions why the light of Liberty is restricted to the North ( Britain ), while the South ( Africa ) lies in comparative darkness.   More provides the expected answer: Africa lacks liberty because corrupted Europeans enslave Africans.  


The Shopkeeper Turned Sailor
Anonymous illustrator for Hannah More's John The Shopkeeper
Turned Sailor,
1796, from The Cheap Repository.




[More, Hannah (1745-1833).]   The Shopkeeper Turned Sailor.

From Cheap Repository Tracts .   Entered at Stationers Hall. 1796.  
[ New; not yet numbered. ]


For more information about Hannah More, see the caption under Slavery, a Poem .




[More, Hannah (1745-1833).]   The Story of Sinful Sally.

Broadside.   No publishing information.   [ New; not yet numbered. ]


"The Story of Sinful Sally" is a tale about Sally, a young girl who once lived a quiet, pastoral life in the countryside with her parents. Upon turning eighteen, however, a rakish neighbor, Sir William, seduces her.

Sally, now "the Child of Hell," travels to the city, becomes a prostitute, drinks gin, and becomes afflicted with venereal disease. Finally, Sally asks God for forgiveness before she dies.


For more information about Hannah More, see the caption under Slavery, a Poem.



[O'Brien, Mary.] The Pious Incendiaries: or, Fanaticism Display'd.   A Poem.

By a Lady.   London : S. Hooper; Stockdale, Messrs. Edgertons; and
Richardson, 1785.   [WPRP 220.]


Fanatics, as Keats reminds us in the opening lines of The Fall of Hyperion: a Dream (1819), have their dreams, wherewith they weave/ A paradise for a sect.   Marked by the conjunction of political and religious crises, fanaticism embodies the ghost that haunts revolutionary events and discourses throughout English history.   Fanatics, even as a group, are solitary and single-minded.   Their vision of the world is not only teleological but apocalyptic.   Fanatics envision a better world but the cost of this is the destruction of the world wherein we all reside.   As avenues for change, transition and transformation give way to the cataclysmic obliteration.   The powers that be whether religious or secular expend their power to control these seemingly irrational demands for change.


As a movement, fanaticism is anarchic; it marks the breaking point where the present state can no longer be sustained.   It erupts suddenly and unexpectedly only because the powerful illusions which integrate the mundane to the sublime have collapsed if only momentarily under the strain of their own contradictions.


Mary O'Brien's The Pious Incendiaries: or, Fanaticism Display'd attempts to restrain these political eruptions by staging the fanatic and providing the populous with a recognizable profile: a particular demeanor, a certain dress/costume:


Where in such case, our muse intent,

Shall all his actions represent,

Picture him to the public view,

Thro' every track his steps pursue,

Give to the world, should he conspire,

The portrait of this stain of fire,

Prevent the people from amaze,

Shou'd he again, like comet blaze,

We'll try each method to prevail,

And guard them from his fiery tail,

We trust no sect again will vie,

To light a candle in the sky.


While ridiculing the fanatic as part of a raree-show, O'Brien insists upon creating a spectacle of the fanatic, placing him on stage to be incessantly watched and governed.   It seems significant that O'Brien invokes the theatre and not an image like the panopticon.   With the theatre, machinations, costume changes, tricks of appearance and disappearance remain a mystery.   The theatrical metaphor allows for the seemingly inexplicable nature of fanaticism: its sudden eruptions and transformations.   In a similar way, O'Brien's identification of the fanatic as a pious incendiary here, marked by the image of a comet acknowledges fanaticism as an unusual but natural cosmic occurrence that will never completely disappear and never be subject to control.   For O'Brien, society can only hope to restrain fanaticism through the practices of economic and social exclusion and through the watchful eyes of an audience, witnesses who are willing to suspend their dis-belief.  




Opie, Amelia Alderson (1769-1853).   Poems .  

By Mrs. Opie.   2nd ed.   London: Printed for T.N. Longman
& O. Rees, 1803.   [WPRP 113.]


Born in Norwich, Opie was the daughter of the dissenting, Unitarian minister and physician, James Alderson and was intimate with the Kembles, Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft, Sarah Siddons, Thomas Holcroft, and Elizabeth Inchbald.   She married John Opie, English portraitist and historical painter in 1798 and published her most famous work, The Father and Daughter in 1801, a work which challenges the societal notion of the fallen woman.   She went on to publish a great deal and died at age eighty-four in Norwich.


Headnote from pp. 90-93:


This Song was occasioned by the following circumstance: [ . . ] Mr. Biggs, the composer and editor of many beautiful Airs, gave me, some time ago, a plaintive melody, said to have been composed and sung by a Hindustani girl on being separated from the man whom she loved.


She had lived several years in India with an English gentleman to whom she was tenderly attached; but he, when about to marry, sent his Indian favourite up the country; and, as she was borne along in her palanquin, she was heard to sing the above-mentioned melody.   To this melody I wrote the following words; and they have been already given to the public, with the original music, in a second set of Hindoo airs, arranged and harmonized by Mr. Biggs.




Tis thy will, and I must leave thee:

      O! then, best-beloved, farewell!

I forbear, lest I should grieve thee,

      Half my heartfelt pangs to tell.

Soon a British fair will charm thee,

      Thou her smiles will fondly woo;

But though she to rapture warm thee,

      Don't forget THY POOR HINDOO.


Well I know this happy beauty

      Soon thine envied bride will shine;

But will she by anxious duty

      Prove a passion warm as mine?

If to rule be her ambition,

      And her own desires pursue,

Thou'lt recall my fond submission,

      And regret THY POOR HINDOO.


Born herself to rank and splendour,

      Will she deign to wait on thee,

And those soft attentions render

      Thou so oft has praised in me?

Yet, why doubt her care to please thee?

      Thou must every heart subdue;

I am sure each maid that sees thee

      Loves thee like THY POOR HINDOO.


No, ah! no! . . . though from thee parted,

      Other maids will peace obtain;

But thy Lolà, broken-hearted,

      Ne'er, oh! ne'er, will smile again.

O how fast from thee they tear me!

      Faster still shall death pursue:

But tis well . . . death will endear me,

      And thou'lt mourn THY POOR HINDOO.


City Scenes: Mail Coach
City Scenes: Mail Coach




Opie, Amelia Alderson (1769-1853).   The Stage Coach and Other Tales .  

By Amelia Opie.   London: Grove and Son, 1845.   [WPRP 255.]


The Stage Coach might in one sense be thought a simple moral tale about virtue and honesty, but it is also a complex treatment both of the instabilities of international commerce and the impact of technology, particularly technologies of movement, on the human experience.   The story begins in the following manner:  


Amongst those whom great successes in trade had raised to considerable opulence in their native city was a family of the name of Burford; and the eldest brother, when he was the only surviving partner of that name in the firm, was not only able to indulge himself in the luxuries of a carriage, country-house, garden, hot-houses, and all the privileges which wealth bestows, but could also lay by money enough to provide amply for his children. (1-2)


Subsequently the Burford family is plunged into financial ruin by mismanagement of their resources abroad by a fraudulent friend.   The Burford's financial ruin becomes the pretext for the center and interest of the story, the technologies of transportation, particularly the possibilities and liabilities of public travel (as opposed to the luxuries of a carriage).   Both Burford and his daughter are forced to travel by public stage coach due to their reduced circumstances, upon which they are variously mischievous (the daughter misrepresents her financial status to her fellow travelers) and misunderstood.   All turns out well in the end, but it is interesting to note that public transportation the stage coach, a main character of the story is, in the end, as much to blame as a proud, over-indulged, unprincipled daughter for the calamities that are ultimately overcome.  




Owenson, Sydney [Morgan, Lady (Sydney)] (1783?-1859.)  
The Lay of an Irish Harp; or Metrical Fragments.

London: Printed for Richard Phillips, 1807.  
[ New; not yet numbered. ]


From the Prefatory Sketch:


The Romans had a term exclusively appropriate to poetical trifles, and the Greeks an epithet as exclusively applied to poetical triflers.

            Neither the Moorish loftiness of the Spanish, nor the elevated gravity of the Italian literature, has exempted them from that species of sportive composition which, though generally the effect of minor talent (tasteful in its mediocrity), is sometimes the effusion of superior genius, in the absence of its higher inspiration.   But I believe the French language above any other abounds with those metrical trifles which, as the offspring of minds elegantly gay and intimately associated, have obtained the name of vers de societe , and which frequently possess an exquisite finesse of thought, that does not exclude nature, and is most happily adapted to the delicate idiom of the language in which it flows.

            Did this little volume aspire to any class in literature, I would rank it among the last and least of those bagatelles to which I have alluded; for the fragments it contains were written at distant periods, and in those careless intervals of life when judgment no longer breathes the Qui va la? to fancy!   When feeling is inspiration!   And when the mind, too desultory for narrative composition, or too indolent for connected detail, resigns itself to the impulse of transient emotion, and gives back to the heart some simple but endeared image of the heart's own feelings had supplied. (vii-ix)



Voice of the days of old, let me hear you. Awake the soul of song.   OSSIAN.

WHY sleeps the Harp of Erin's pride?

Why with'ring droops its Shamrock wreath?

Why has that song of sweetness died

Which Erin's Harp alone can breathe?


Oh! twas the simplest, wildest thing!

The sighs of Eve that faintest flow

O'er airy lyres, did never fling

So sweet, so sad, a song of woe.


And yet its sadness seem'd to borrow

From love, or joy, a mystic spell;

Twas doubtful still if bliss or sorrow

From its melting lapses fell.


For if amidst its tone's soft languish

A note of love or joy e'er stream'd,

Twas the paint of love-sick anguish,

And still the joy of grief it seem'd.


 Tis said oppression taught the lay

To him (of all the sons of song

That bask'd in Erin's brighter day)

The last of the inspir'd throng;


That not in sumptuous hall, or bow'r,

To victor chiefs, on tented plain,

To festive souls, in festal hour,

Did he (sad bard!) pour forth the strain.


Oh no! for he, opprest, pursued, (2)

Wild, wand'ring, doubtful of his course,

With tears his silent Harp bedew'd,

That drew from Erin's woes their source.


It was beneath th' impervious gloom

Of some dark forest's deepest dell,

Twas at some patriot hero's tomb ,

Or on the drear heath where he fell.


It was beneath the loneliest cave

That roofs the brow of misery,

Or stems the ocean's wildest wave,

Or mocks the sea-blast's keenest sight.


It was through night's most spectral hours,

When reigns the spirit of dismay ,

And terror views demoniac pow'rs

Flit ghastly round in dread array.


Such was the time, and such the place,

The bard respir'd his song of woe,

To those, who had of Erin 's race

Surviv'd their freedom's vital blow.


Oh, what a lay the minstrel breath'd!

How many bleeding hearts around,

In suff'ring sympathy enwreath'd,

Hung desponding o'er the sound!


For still his Harp's wild plaintive tones

Gave back their sorrows keener still,

Breath'd sadder sighs , heav'd deeper moans,

And wilder wak'd despair's wild thrill.


For still he sung the ills that flow

From dire oppression's ruthless fang,

And deepen'd every patriot woe,

And sharpen'd every patriot pang.


Yet, ere he ceas'd, a prophet's fire

Sublim'd his lay, and louder rung

The deep-ton'd music of his lyre,

And Erin go brach (3) he boldly sung.




1) With an enthusiasm incidental to my natural and national character, I visited the western part of the province of Connaught in the autumn of 1805, full of many an evident expectation that promised to my feelings, and my taste, a festival of national enjoyment.   The result of this interesting little pilgrimage has already been given to the world in the story of the Wild Irish Girl, and in a collection of Irish Melodies, learned among those who still hum'd the Song of other times.   But the hope I had long cherished of hearing the Irish Harp played in perfection was not only far from being realized, but infinitely disappointed.   That encouragement so nutritive of genius, so indispensably necessary to perseverance, no longer stimulates the Irish bard to excellence, nor rewards him when it is attained; and the decline of that tender and impressive instrument, once so dear to Irish enthusiasm, is as visibly rapid, as it is obviously unimpeded by any effort of national pride or national affection.

2) The persecution begun by the Danes against the Irish bards finished in almost the total extirpation of that sacred order in the reign of Elizabeth.

3) Ireland for ever! a national exclamation, and, in less felicitous times, the rallying point to which many an Irish heart revolted from the influence of despair.



City Scenes: Ship and Peripetetic
City Scenes: Ship and Peripetetic



Poulter, Louisa Frances.   Imagination; a Poem.

London: J. Hatchard & Son, 1820.   [WPRP 150.]


Poulter's Imagination is interesting to study alongside the Wordsworthian optimism associated particularly with The Prelude , in which, for instance, spots of time are sources of imaginative power, redemption, and renovation: a renovating virtue by which whence depressed [ . . . ] our minds Are nourished and invisibly repaired (Book XI, pp. 259-264).   For Poulter imagination does not offer redemption so much as an unfair tradeoff, a temporary salve from the harshness of reality that in the end makes reality less bearable by its memory in the face of its loss, ultimately making it a curse rather than a blessing.   Poulter focuses particularly on the ways Imagination acts on us over time, which presents an alternative to the Wordsworthian paradigm in interesting ways, perhaps affording us the opportunity to remind ourselves that Wordsworth's own optimism regarding the powers of Imagination are hardly straightforward and often unconvincing.   Poulter explicitly represents Imagination not as an assuaging or renovating force, but as one that exacerbates the grief of experience and lived life past, present, and future.   As such, she offers her own version of the spot of time:   O Time!   [ . . . ] as our web is wove out year by year, / See what deep stains, what grained spots appear!




Roberts, Mary (1763-1848).   The Royal Exile; or
Poetical Epistles of Mary,Queen of Scots, During Her
Captivity in England: with Other Original Poems

By a Young Lady.   In two volumes.   London: Longman,
Hurst, Rees, [], 1822.   [WPRP 67.]


Mary Roberts's juxtaposition of Mary, Queen of Scots (whom she fiercely defends as the superior queen in spite of her Catholicism) with Queen Elizabeth I (whom she, in turn, passionately decries as a foul and disgraceful monarch) as a means of narrating the genuine and previously misunderstood characters of each is fascinating.   Roberts focuses explicitly on the bodies of both Mary and Elizabeth, which might be thought of as reminiscent of Edmund Burke's captivated descriptions of Mary Antoinette's betrayed and defiled but pure body at the time of her arrest in 1789.   Roberts represents Mary's body particularly at the time directly before, during, and after her execution, describing her as possessing grace, countenance, and presence . . . majestically composed.   Similarly, in the poem Elizabeth, Roberts focuses on Elizabeth's body during her long reign, in which the one constant is its opulent adornment, its worldliness:


Diamond and ruby there assist,

Emerald, and topaz, and amethyst;

And the depths of the ocean their pearls afford;

(Meet tribute they for their earthly lord:)

The blazing sceptre her hands display;

On her head is the gem-girt tiara.

[ . . ]

Ivory and cedar of Lebanon

Chequer the floor she treads upon [ . . . ].


As opposed to Burke's mourning the loss of chivalric codes through the invocation of Mary Antoinette's body, Roberts's own agenda in fetishizing the bodies of these queens is to critique the Elizabethan empire in terms of its ongoing and aggressive war, expansion, and trade.   


From the Preface:


It is, however, in the closing scene of life that the conduct of the Queen of Scots shines with unrivaled lustre.   I am not aware of the death of any mere human being that is calculated to raise the sufferer higher in the estimation of all good men than that of Mary, Queen of Scots, as it is related by impartial historians, and remains uncontradicted by her foes.


The morning of the 8th of February 1586-7, being come, she dressed herself as gorgeously as she was wont to do on festival days; and calling her servants together, she commanded her will to be read; and prayed them to take their legacies in good part, for her abilities would not extend to greater matters.   [ . . . ]   She came out with grace, countenance, and presence, says Camden , majestically composed, with a cheerful look [ . . . ].   I do not know that profane history furnishes an instance of a more Christian like death [ . . . ].


The murder of the Queen of Scots was one of the foulest legalized acts that ever disgraced (I will not say any Christian) any civilized state.


On reading, and reflecting on, the very different lives and deaths of these two rival Queens, one can scarcely avoid crying out, Remember, Elizabeth, that thou in thy life time receivedst thy good things, and likewise Mary evil things: but now, at the hour of death, she is comforted and thou art tormented.'   If the occurrences of life are in reality only important so far as they affect our state when we come to die, which is certainly the fact; then had Mary much more cause to be thankful for her afflictions, than Elizabeth had to rejoice at her prosperity.


A circumstance occurred which added greatly to this affecting scene: when they were about to remove the body of the unfortunate Queen, her little dog, which had followed her to the scaffold unobserved, amidst more striking objects, was found under her clothes, which could not be gotten forth but by force, and afterwards would not depart from her dead corpse, but went and laid down between her head and shoulders, a thing diligently noted.   While fidelity shall be considered as a virtue, this remarkable instance of affectionate attachment will be regarded with satisfaction.




The Della Cruscans


The nucleus of the Della Cruscan school was formed with the 1785 publication of the Florence Miscellany [ital.], whose contributors included Mrs. Hester Lynch Piozzi (née Thrale), William Parsons, Robert Merry, and Bertie Greatheed.   It was not until 1787, however, that Robert Merry began to use his pseudonym "Della Crusca" in the publication, The World.   His poems in The World inspired Mary Robinson ("Laura Maria"), Hannah Cowley ("Anna Matilda"), and Frederick Pilon, all of whom wrote poetic responses to Merry's poems and thus became considered members of the school.   Notably, a number of the Della Cruscans, including Merry, Greatheed, Robinson, and Cowley were associated with the theater.   In addition, various scholars have argued that the early work of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Leigh Hunt, and John Keats (via poetic influence from Leigh Hunt) was greatly influenced by the Della Cruscan poetry of the 1780s.



Robinson, Mary, née Darby (1758-1800).   Monody to
the Memory of the Late Queen of France .  

London: Printed by T Spilsbury and Son, 1793.  
Disbound.   [WPRP 162 Oversize.]


Mary Perdita Robinson was a beautiful, famous actress and later, Romantic woman poet and novelist whose early life involved a great deal of notoriety.   Known for her scandalous amours on and off stage, Mary Robinson became a popular actress at a young age, debuting as Juliet in 1776 at Drury Lane ; three years later, she gained widespread recognition for her role as Perdita in Florizel and Perdita , Garrick's adaptation of The Winter's Tale .   Robinson's performance captivated George IV, the eighteen-year-old Prince of Wales, and a notorious romance between Robinson and the Prince ensued shortly thereafter.   Consequently, stories about Robinson appeared regularly in the newspapers and periodicals of the day, and at the height of her celebrity,


Robinson was painted by the famous portraitists, including Reynolds, Romney and Gainsborough.   In addition, she became a fashion icon, importing the latest French fashions and then publicizing her garments at all the major attractions of fashionable London society.   Robinson's media attention was a reaction not only to her lavish spending, but also to her connection with aristocracy and royalty.   When Marie Antoinette invited her to France , her connections with royalty were extended to the Continent as well, and upon her return, Robinson mingled in fashionable aristocratic circles and became elevated to a goddess-like status.   Robinson's powerful presence was amplified by her political connections that extended to even that of Colonel Tarleton, a leading commander of British troops in the war against the American colonies.   Displayed here is Robinson's poem on the death of Marie Antoinette, and on the French Revolution in general.  


Robinson, Mary (1758-1800).   Picture of Palermo .

By Dr. Hager.   Translated from the German by Mrs.
Mary Robinson.   London : Printed for R. Phillips, 1800.   [WPRP 84.]


Mary Perdita Robinson was well-known as an actress successfully playing the parts of Shakespeare's cross-dressing heroines, Rosalind in As You Like It and Viola in Twelfth Night.   As Perdita in Garrick's adaptation of Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale, she attracted the attention of the young Prince of Wales (later George IV).   As his mistress, she retired from the stage, only to find herself abandoned and destitute at the end of the year.   Robinson later joined Hannah Cowley, Hester Piozzi, and Robert Merry as one of the Della Cruscans.   Throughout the 1790s she wrote some of her most well-known poetry, including The Haunted Beach and later Lyrical Tales (1800).


Given the Della Cruscans' ties to Florence , Robinson's translation of Hagar's Picture of Palermo reflects her cultural and literary interests in Italy , but it also points to the growing popularity of travel literature and the topical interest in Italian culture.   Italian opera was very successful in London and Italian landscapes shaped the estates of the English aristocracy.


Considering Robinson's ties to the theatre, the section on Palermo 's theatres is quite intriguing.   Unlike the London theatres,


No harlequin offends the ears of the delicate spectator by his course buffoonery; no stage trick degrades the dignity of the Italian spectacle ; regular representations are exhibited, instead of low pantomimical deceptions, or refined satires; and well delineated characters have, by degrees, superseded the low humour of former periods. (66)


In several ways, the Palermo theatres are represented as incomparable to the largest theatres of Europe; there is no fear of pickpockets, no throng of carriages, the performers know very well how to represent the characters assigned to them, and in addition to colloquial exercises, there are also exhibitions of fencing and ballet (68-71).   But, it is not limited to high culture; Punch (Pulcinello), and Charlatans or Mountebanks , [ . . . ] amuse by their tales the idle and credulous multitude (73).   Mary Robinson translated this work sometime between 1758-1800.  


For more information on Robinson's early career, see the caption under her A Portrait of the Late Queen of France .




Robinson, Mary (1758-1800).   Poems.  

By Mrs. M. Robinson.   1st ed. London : J. Bell,
1791.   [WPRP 229.]


Portrait of Mary Robinson
Poems, by Mary Robinson: frontispiece portrait



Robinson, Mary Elizabeth (1775-1818).   The Wild Wreath.  

By M.E. Robinson.   London : Richard Phillips, 1804.   [WPRP 286.]


This collection, compiled by Mary Robinson's daughter, Mary Elizabeth Robinson, contains numerous poems and short pieces by select writers such as S.T. Coleridge and M.G. Lewis; most of them, however, are by Mary Robinson.   Selected here is a response to Mary Robinson (as the Della Cruscan Laura Maria) by Robert Merry (Della Crusca).   (See The Poetry of Anna Matilda .)   He concludes the poem with the following lines:


Then shall my ling'ring verse declare

How much I priz'd thee, good and fair!

What tenderness my soul conceiv'd!

How deeply for thy suff'rings griev'd!

While future lovers, future bards, shall join,

To pour in Laura's praise their melodies divine.



Smith, Charlotte (1749-1806) .   Beachy Head , with Other Poems.

1st ed.   London: Printed for the Author, 1807.   [WPRP 139.]


Beachy Head has reached a popularity in recent times that begins to do justice to the esteem given Smith's poem during her lifetime by her contemporaries.   A poem that flirts with locodescription but on its own terms, this is a momentous example of a meditation on, and performance of, the poetic imagination.   Most often read through the aesthetics of the sublime and picturesque, the poem is also greatly concerned with ideas of English cosmopolitanism and isolationism.  




Smith, Charlotte, 1749-1806.   Elegiac Sonnets.

2nd ed.   Chichester: Printed by Dennett
Jacques, 1784.   [WPRP 71.]




Smith, Charlotte (1749-1806).   The Emigrants, a Poem in Two Books .

1st ed.   London: Printed for T. Cadell, 1793.   [WPRP 183.]


The Emigrants is perhaps Smith's most elaborate poem.   Dedicated to William Cowper, it explores her growing disillusionment with the French Revolution.   Though Smith is primarily remembered for her novels, which she wrote out of financial necessity, her poetry was highly esteemed by her contemporaries and considered to be superior to her prose.  




[Taylor, Jane (1783-1824) & Ann Taylor Gilbert (1782-
1866).]  ; or, A Peep into London for Children .

London: Printed & Sold by Harvey &
Darton, 1818.   [WPRP 261.]


First published in 1809, this edition includes additional text, most significantly, William Blake's (unattributed) poem Holy Thursday.   The Taylors were among the earliest authors to include Blake in a children's collection.   Scene no. 15, shown here, highlights British dominion over captive, exotic animals (note Tower guard placidly displaying the lion to onlookers) and invites children to fantasize about the dangers of Africa's forests and their comparative safety in England.   Scene no. 16, which follows, highlights the emblems of British royalty and rule the crown, ball, and scepter.


Title Page of City Scenes
City Scenes: Title Page




Tighe, Mary (1772-1810).   Psyche, with Other Poems.

5th ed.   London: Longman, Hurst, Rees,
Orme, and Brown, 1816.   [WPRP 234.]


Mary Tighe, an Anglo-Irish poet, is best known for Psyche, or, The Legend of Love, originally published in 1805.   Psyche, with Other Poems was published a year after her death.   The 1811 edition was read by John Keats while he was writing Endymion and the resonances between the poets are striking.   There are also interesting parallels with Eliza Fenwick's Secrecy; or, The Ruin on the Rock (1795).


Portrait of Mary Tighe
Psyche, by Mary Tighe: frontispiece portrait




Ware, Mary Mrs.   Poems Consisting of Translations,
from the Greek, Latin, & Italian.   With Some Originals

London: Printed for T. Cadell and W. Davies, 1809.   [WPRP 82.]


This book of translations was composed by Mary Ware of Ware Hill, Hertfordshire.




Williams, Helen Maria (1762-1827).   A Residence in France, During the Years 1792, 1793, 1794, and 1795; Described in a Series of Letters from an English Lady; with General and Incidental Remarks on the French Character and Manners.

2nd ed.   2 Volumes.   London: Longman, 1797.   [WPRP 126.]




Artifacts on display:




Portland Vase by Josiah Wedgwood.


In 1783, William Hamilton, British envoy to the court of Naples, returned to England with the cameo glass Barbarini Vase.   Pressed financially, Hamilton sold the vase to the Duchess of Portland for 1,800 guineas, a substantial sum.   After her death a year later, the vase was put up for auction, and her son, the third Duke of Portland, secretly purchased the vase.   In 1810, he put the vase on permanent loan with the British Museum, where it proved a favorite attraction.   He also agreed to loan it to Josiah Wedgwood for twelve months so that the potter could copy it, creating the Wedgwood Portland vase.   In February 1845, a young man entered the room where the vase was exhibited in the British Museum, and using another piece, smashed the Portland vase into more than two hundred fragments.   Ironically, the reproduction produced by Wedgwood was used to reconstruct the original.


Jeffrey N. Cox. "Cockney Classicism: History with Footnotes."   Poetry and Politics in the Cockney School: Keats, Shelley, Hunt and their Circle.   Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1998. pp.146-186, specifically 146-148.



Ode on a Grecian Urn, 1819

Thou still unravish'd bride of quietness,

      Thou foster-child of silence and slow time,

Sylvan historian, who canst thus express

      A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme:

What leaf-fring'd legend haunts about thy shape

      Of deities or mortals, or of both,

            In Tempe or the dales of Arcady ?

What men or gods are these?   What maidens loth?

      What mad pursuit?   What struggle to escape?

            What pipes and timbrels?   What wild ecstasy?

O Attic shape!   Fair attitude!   with brede

      Of marble men and maidens overwrought,

With forest branches and trodden weed;

      Thou, silent form, doest tease us out of thought

As doth eternity [ . . . ].


From John Keats Complete Poems, ed. Jack Stillinger.  

Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1982. p. 282.



English Globe, 1843.




Felicia Hemans.   Oil painting by Alonzo Chappel, circa 1870.  

Done for Duyckinck's Portrait Gallery of Eminent Men and
Women of Europe and America .