Glimpses Of Our Ancestors In Sussex - online book

With Sketches Of Sussex Characters, Remarkable Incidents &c

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Sussex Poets.
indeed, to be left to the present day to prove that poets and poetesses can enjoy conjugal felicity! The experience of preceding ages was almost uniformly in the other direction, and our Sussex Poets, when they married — and Fletcher, Otway, and Collins never married—were no exception to the rule.
In the case of Charlotte Smith, however, it was the husband who was to blame. He spent his fortune in extravagance and thoughtless speculations, and when he had to take up his abode in the Queen's Bench his wife accompanied him thither, and it was to her exertions that he chiefly owed his liberation. It was to support herself and her children that she turned to literature. She was a voluminous writer, pro­ducing no less than 38 volumes, chiefly in works of fiction (the most popular of which was " The Old Manor House "), but also in other ways—in works for the young and in Essays and Elegiac Sonnets. In was in this latter line that she won her place in literature—a place which she retains, and is likely to do so, for no collection of English Sonnets could be perfect without some specimens of the Muse of Charlotte Smith. They are, perhaps, a little over-strained in their melancholy; they border on the sentimental as distinguished from the passionate. But still they are full of tender music, and the love of Nature comes to soften and divide the sorrows that struggle for utterance.
It was in Sussex that Charlotte Smith chiefly found the subjects of her verse, and the sonnet addressed by her to the Moon, and another written in Middleton churchyard (long since swept away by the encroaching sea) may be taken as samples of the smoothness, the sweetness, as well as of the sentimentality of her verse :—
Queen of the silver bow! by thy pale beam
Alone and pensive I delight to stray, And watch thy shadow trembling in the stream,
Or mark the floating clouds that cross thy way.
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