The Female Poets of Great Britain,
Chronologically Arranged: with Copious Selections and Critical Remarks.
By Frederic Rowton.



Frederic Rowton






[XIII] THE design of the Author, in writing the following pages, is to supply a want which must have been frequently experienced by every student of our literary annals; – the want of a History of our Female Poets.

Of our male Poets there are (to say the least of it) histories enough. Johnson, Campbell, Aikin, Anderson, Southey, and others, have done due honour to the genius of the rougher sex; and have left us – so far as they have gone – nothing to be desired.

But where are the memorials of the Female mind? In the records above alluded to, the Poetesses of Britain are either left unnoticed altogether, or mentioned with a flippant carelessness which is even more contemptuous than total silence. One or two small works (among which Mr. Dyce's Specimens of British Poetesses is the only one of merit and research) have been devoted to the subject, It is true; but even the worthiest of these productions is at best but incomplete.

It cannot surely be pretended that this neglect of our [XIV] Female Poets is attributable to any lack of genius in the sex. In these enlightened days it may certainly be taken for granted that women have souls; and further, that their souls have no small influence upon the world of thought and action. This admission made, it will follow that the mental efforts of woman have as good a claim as man's to be recorded; and that we should be deeply ashamed of ourselves for so long withholding from them that prominent place in the world's esteem which is so undoubtedly their due.

To tell the truth, we have already suffered severely for our folly in this matter. Had the soul of woman been allowed to operate more widely in the world, it cannot be doubted that humanity would have been far wiser, and better, and happier than it is. Man's coarser spirit has preponderated in the universe of life, and has made us much too gross, material, sensual, and violent. Our passions, sentiments, and beliefs, have all been too strong, too rough, too vehement; and we have gone through much strife and sorrow on this account. They should have been tempered, harmonised, smoothed down, softened, by contact with the mind of woman. Our mental atmosphere has contained too large a proportion of one of its elements; and hence it has neither been so pure nor so wholesome as it might have been. Only one half of the human soul has yet had a fair scope for development, – and that the coarser half; the other [XV] has been circumscribed in its operations, and thus has been left to run to waste.

The Author confidently hopes that the work which he here presents to the reader will justify the position which he has assumed, and at least prove that the Poetical Faculty is not confined to one of the sexes. If it should only serve to direct critical attention to the subject, he will be fully satisfied; for he will know, that in such case our Female Poets will soon be as honourably appreciated as they unquestionably deserve to be.

The Author takes this opportuniity to return his grateful thanks to those of our living Poetesses whose names occur in this volume, for the permission which they have so readily given him to make extracts from their works, and for the kind interest which they have, without exception, manifested in his undertaking.





Erstdruck und Druckvorlage

The Female Poets of Great Britain,
Chronologically Arranged: with Copious Selections and Critical Remarks.
By Frederic Rowton.
London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans 1848, S. XIII-XV.


Die Textwiedergabe erfolgt nach dem ersten Druck (Editionsrichtlinien).





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Lyriktheorie » R. Brandmeyer