Hemans and the Gift-Book
A woman who is unhappy-and
truly unhappy-cries and doesn't move you at all: it's
worse, it's that any slight feature that disfigures
her makes you laugh: it's that an accent which is ordinary
for her sounds dissonantly in your ear and wounds you;
it's that a movement which is habitual to her shows
you that her sadness is ignoble and sullen; it's that
excessive passions are almost all subject to those grimaces
that the artist without taste copies servilely, but
the great artist avoids.-Denis Diderot, Paradoxe
sur le Comédien (1830) 
A few months ago, a truly cantankerous
old-school scholar announced on the email discussion
list for the North American Society for Romantic Studies
(NASSR-L) that no one had successfully proven to him
that any of the short lyrics written by a woman poet
during the Romantic Era were 'any good'. So much work
has been done analysing what for this man was completely
unproblematic, the notion of aesthetic value, and
yet in a way, this cantankerous old-school Romanticist
has a point: an analysis of the ideologies that inform
the dominant Romantic aesthetic needs to be brought
to bear on delineating the achievement of individual
poems, those that conform to it as well as those that
propose alternative aesthetic values. In this paper,
I will ask, what counted as 'good poetry' for women
writing in the literary annuals? A careful analysis
of poems by Felicia Hemans which first appeared in
The Literary Souvenir and The Forget Me
Not shows how her aesthetic program contrasts
with that of canonical male authors. I will look in
particular at two of Hemans's poems: 'The Child and
Dove' (1826) and 'The Sculptured Children' (1829). 
first glance, everyone seems to agree that the primary
suppliers of the literary annuals were merely popular
poetasters, and, in contrast to the canonical authors
who resisted contributing to the annual gift books,
their names and poems have deservedly died away, out
of sight. In
fact, the contrast between gift books and single-author
poetry collections of the 1820s through the 1850s
perfectly exemplifies the distinction that Pierre
Bourdieu makes between the field of restricted production
and the mass market. Bourdieu credits the Romantic
period with fabricating the distinction, which he
sees as in fact a ruse for denying that 'cultural
capital' has any economic implications at all:
'inventions' of Romanticism-the representation of culture
as a kind of superior reality, irreducible to the vulgar
demands of economics, and the ideology of free, disinterested
'creation' founded on the spontaneity of innate inspiration-appear
to be just so many reactions to the pressures of an
anonymous market. [.] [T]he appearance of an anonymous
'bourgeois' public [.] coincides with the rejection
of bourgeois aesthetics and with the methodical attempt
to distinguish the artist and the intellectual from
other commoners by positing the unique products of 'creative
genius' against interchangeable products, utterly and
completely reducible to their commodity value. 
Gift books certainly were viewed as commodities,
and were hawked as such by their promoters and detractors
alike. Producers in the field of restricted production-what
we would call the avant-garde-purport to have no financial
gain in view, nor do they court popularity among the masses,
seeking rather the famous 'fit audience [.] though few'.
So, as Kathryn Ledbetter has shown, Thomas Moore claimed
that his name as an author would be ruined by publication
in the gift books. 
And Wordsworth held out for a long time against the lucrative
offers to publish in The Keepsake, saying that
'[a]ll my natural feelings are against appearing before
the Public in this way'.  What
he means by 'this way' was characterised by Caroline
Bowles as being ' "perpetually placarded in the annuals" ' 
and by Charles Lamb as 'immodest candidateship'. 
Gift-book authors are somewhere between campaigning politicians
and advertised goods. And the table of contents for The
Literary Souvenir, for instance, seems to bear this
impression out: it lists author's names, frequently following
the name with the title of that author's recent 'hit'
publication, as if to say, 'only the hottest-selling popular
writers appear here'. Furthermore, the fact that the editors
of gift books paid huge sums for pictures, stories, and
poems seems to suggest that the contributors resemble
our grocery-store-check-out-lane romance writers, Harlequin
or otherwise, who are making huge sums of money and are
supporting, through the gains that publishers accrue from
them, other kinds of publishing enterprises that involve
financial loss, academic publishing among them.
this apparent fit into Bourdieu's scheme threatens to
obscure some crucially important features of the gift
book and of gift-book writing that have been noticed by
Ledbetter, Paula Feldman, and Cynthia Lawford. From my
perusal of them, I can say that gift books are not Hallmark
cards, nor are they Harlequin romances: they aren't lowbrow.
Moreover, they did not establish popularity solely
among the bourgeoisie for their contributors. Ledbetter
demonstrates Tennyson's ambivalence, his simultaneous
disgust with the annuals and his desire to use them to
make a name for himself among literati. 
Moore, let's just notice, never did make it to canonical
status, if we are to judge (as John Guillory suggests
we should) by the table of contents of a Norton anthology,
so staying out of gift books was not the way to make or
keep his name 'high'. Feldman shows that Hemans made a
name for herself partly in the gift books before being
taken up by William Blackwood as a regular contributor
to Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine (Maga), and thereby
becoming an author of poetry volumes enjoying major runs.
Her earlier collections of poems singly authored by her,
published by John Murray, had not secured her a place
among literati. After beginning to contribute to the
Monthly Magazine in 1823 and the annuals in 1825,
however, gift-book contributions ultimately totalling
ninety-four poems in thirteen British annuals (more if
American collections are counted), Hemans was taken up
by Blackwood as a regular contributor to Maga for
pay beyond what was given to Thomas Hood, Walter Scott,
and Hartley Coleridge. 
And so while publicly condemning the pernicious effects
of 'the Annuals' in 1829, John Wilson was secretly writing
to Blackwood that he should consider paying Hemans an
exorbitant amount for her poems in 1827 because of her
effects on a captive public, primarily through gift books.
It seems clear that gift books offered a way up into the
avant-garde as much as they contained popular poets to
be distinguished from the producers of high Romantic poetry
and establishment literary criticism.
there is a question as to how the commodification of poetry
by the annuals influenced the high aesthetic realm which
seems-but, as Bourdieu suggests,
only seems-uninterested in monetary gain. Reviewers
complained of Hemans's single-author collections of poetry
that the poems in them had been previously printed in
annuals,  and
it is for reasons such as this, perhaps, that Wordsworth
believed purchasers of annuals would not purchase single-author
collections of poetry. 
John Wilson claimed that readers of the annuals would
nevermore be interested in literary history-Milton, Pope,
or Gray -but
Ledbetter sees the huge market in gift books, despite
their high price, as indicating that middle-class read
ers had 'the highest motives in placing literature among
their most worthy investments'.  Did
the annuals in effect serve to depress the market for
poetry, leading to the 'crash' of 1826, or did they rather
sustain poets and interest in poetry in the face of that
crash, as Ledbetter maintains? 
If the effects of gift books on establishing literary
repute were ambiguous, their effects on production by
'high' Romantic writers were more so. Blackwood used inflated
prices for single poems to be published in Maga
as a way of stimulating Hemans to produce enough poetry
for a single-author collection, and relied on her production
for gift-books to extend the pages of her collections
which he published. 
And similarly, Wordsworth's ultimate submission to the
financial necessity of publishing in annuals seems to
have stimulated his lagging poetic production in the late
status of gift-book authors, and the ambiguous influence
of gift-book economics on high poetic production, suggest
that discourse about the literary annuals was engaged
in bringing into existence the very distinction Bourdieu
locates as originating during the Romantic period, the
distinction between aesthetic, disinterested production
and popular, mass-market verse for the philistines. Of
course, gift books were not alone in forging the distinction
between popular and canonical literature, 
but their short-lived status-roughly 1825-60-suggests
that they performed the ideological work of distinguishing
canonical from ephemeral poetry and then died when that
distinction was finally well established. When Thackeray
says, then, in the late 1830s, that gift-book contributors
'prostitut[e] themselves to public inclination,-or perhaps
one should say proprietary inclination, though
the two are synonymous', 
he is not, I would like to suggest, reminding people of
an already-established equivalence, as he clearly thinks
he is, but is rather himself creating and establishing
the distinction by insisting that popularity and money
go together, and, throughout the article, insisting that
both go with poor aesthetic quality. For, only twenty
years earlier, Hemans was writing to John Murray asking
him to '[suggest to her] any subject, or style of writing,
likely to be more popular' than her current subject and
style: her sense of what it means to be popular may include
financial success, but certainly not aesthetic devaluation.
Hemans like many of her contemporaries associated popularity
and financial power with Byron's poetry. 
Even more interesting is Leigh Hunt's confusing introduction
to The Keepsake for 1828, confusing insofar
as he symbolically equates the gift book with 'a part
of an individual's self' such as 'a lock of hair' but
also with commodities: gems and rubies. 
As Lawford points out, the latter are 'self-promoting
possessions', that is, commodities for conspicuous consumption,
books to lay on the coffee table to prove that you were
rising in class, a potential for class mobility being
the distinguishing feature of the bourgeois individual.
Unlike the purchasable, self-promoting gems and jewels
to which gift books were so often compared, however, a
self-part or lock of hair is inalienable-not for sale!
Hunt's confusing image suggests the gift book's confusing
the contents of the annuals, the question arises: insofar
as these collections were engaged in producing, as a counter
to the high Romantic aesthetic that culminates in high
modernist aestheticism, a bourgeois aesthetic,
what was that aesthetic? 
First off, the bourgeois aesthetic is what Diderot in
the epigraph to this essay calls 'without taste', and
the NASSR discussion list's old-school, cantankerous scholar
would certainly agree. In the passage quoted above, Diderot
rejects the realism that he had previously embraced as
a writer of 'comédie larmoyante'-crying theatre, or bourgeois
melodrama, as we would call it. Diderot associates the
subject of bourgeois tragedy with the crying woman, and
sees both bourgeois art and crying women as in bad taste.
Despite containing many literary works by men-at least
half-and being edited by men as well as women, 
gift books get associated with women, as does bourgeois
melodrama, primarily through the female subjects of their
pictures, poems, and stories, but also through the expectation,
visible in some poems, of a female readership.
just as novel prefaces are frequently addressed to women
but not indicative of actual readership, wouldn't it be
wrong to buy into Diderot's sexist manoeuvre and associate
a bourgeois aesthetic with women poets? Isn't Diderot
using sexism as a way of distinguishing between high and
bourgeois art? Surely many Romantic women poets resist
the bourgeois. For instance, Cynthia Lawford shows that
L.E.L.'s poems undermine the commodification of poetry
that the material form of the gift book encourages. Nonetheless,
I would argue that gift-book poetry, and a portion of
the poems in annuals written by women, develop a bourgeois
aesthetic that explicitly counters the dominant aesthetic
of canonical Romantic poetry in very specifiable ways,
and that Romantic women writers frequently wrote poems
that for them and many others counted as 'good' because
of achieving some of the aims of this distinctively bourgeois
aesthetic. It is necessary, however, in considering this
argument to suspend for the moment any knee-jerk judgment
of bourgeois art as bad art: that is another way to avoid
the sexism of Diderot and the NASSR correspondent. And
certainly as a counter to high-Romantic elitist canonising,
we can expect this bourgeois aesthetic to display some
valuable egalitarian impulses. While I wouldn't want to
essentialise bourgeois art as distinctively 'feminine',
as do Diderot and the NASSR list correspondent, it is
likely that the bourgeois aesthetic provided a welcoming
venue for women writers.
specific ways does the bourgeois aesthetic in gift books
counter canonical literature? The poems, stories, and
pictures in literary annuals are often about viewing,
listening to, and reading works of art. A table of contents
of the epigraphs and subjects of the poems and stories
in them reveal the illustrious names of those who, if
living, scorned to contribute to annuals, such as Wordsworth,
Byron, Moore, Coleridge, and Shakespeare. 
Writers of gift-book poetry engage in what might be called
productive consumption, and the medium may be so heavily
associated with women writers and readers partly because
of the difference between men's and women's different
relations to literary tradition. Male poets were presumed
to be educated enough to have the luxury of having a bad-boy
relation to school: they could be uninterested in it,
like Wordsworth, or expelled from it, like Shelley. Their
focus as writers lay in demonstrating that they were part
of a tradition of a literary history that, as original
writers, they needed to carry on by revising. Romantic
poets, Stuart Curran argues, had a sense of themselves
as participating in and remaking literary history in a
way that previous writers did not quite, but they also
had a sense of the need to be 'original', a sense developing
out of discussions such as Edward Young's Conjectures
on Original Composition (1759). 
And all Harold Bloom's arguments about poetic misprision
and the anxiety of influence are about the double bind
in the command to be original while participating in a
tradition: writing as a canonical author requires simultaneously
incurring and obscuring one's debts to previous authors.
writers, as Claudia Thomas's work suggests, the distance
was less great than it was for men between being a professional
writer and publicly reading literary works-reading through
writing: eighteenth-century women writers were not so
much concerned with originality as they were with proving
that they had gained enough education despite exclusion
from educational institutions as to be able to participate
in literary discourse. 
We can take as emblematic a comparison of two poems by
Hemans and L.E.L. to two canonical works. L.E.L.'s poem
on hearing Madame Giulia Grisi is comparable and probably
indebted to Keats's 'Ode to a Nightingale' (1819), but,
as Lawford points, 'the crucial difference [is that L.E.L.'s]
thrilling song was heard in the artificial environment
of an opera house where the ticket was paid for and the
singer was paid'. 
Hemans's 'The Child and Dove' is comparable to Wordsworth's
Intimations Ode, but Hemans's recollections of early childhood
were evoked not by lambs bounding through the fields but
rather by seeing a statue in the gallery at Woburn Abbey.
Both of the gift-book poems by these women writers position
the speakers of their poems as tourists or paying spectators;
both are explicitly about consuming works of art. 
It is important
to specify more precisely the difference between the way
in which male canonical poets and Romantic women poets
enter the field of art, including the tradition of British
literature in which they write, and I will do so by contrasting
a male canonical with a sentimental woman poet, Thomas
Gray with Charlotte Smith. Both were called 'plagiarists'
because of the way they incorporated previous poetry,
but there is a subtle yet crucial difference between the
way each one incorporated the words of earlier canonical
authors into their own works.
Gray's 'Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard', which
has been called a quintessentially canonical poem, 
makes use of so many 'allusions' to other poems that,
as Gray's editor, Roger Lonsdale had to conduct 'delicate
negotiations with [his] printers' to prevent having a
page of his edition of the 'Elegy' contain so many footnotes
that only one line of poetic text could appear above them.
However, Gray's 'echoing' of poetic tradition is distinctively
unlike Smith's 'practice of quotation', 
even though she too quotes so extensively as to make her
poems 'echo chambers' of English poetry as a whole. 
Smith's most famous and most difficult to fathom instance
of quoting occurs in the first of her Elegiac Sonnets,
her poetic manifesto, when she writes: 'Ah! then, how
dear the Muse's favours cost / If those paint sorrow best-who
feel it most!' The last line quotes Pope's Eloisa to
Abelard, 'He best can paint them who shall feel them
the most'. 
Gray also 'quotes' a line from Pope, from his 'Rape of
the Lock', in the 'Elegy'. Gray's famous lines, 'Full
many a flower is born to blush unseen / And waste its
sweetness on the desert air', allude to Belinda's wish,
after her lock has been stolen, that she had hidden herself
away in a remote spot, 'There [to] keep my Charms conceal'd
from mortal Eye, / Like Roses that in Desarts bloom and
die'. Pope is not quoted verbatim by Gray as he is by
Smith. Gray uses the image from Pope's lines, as Suvir
Kaul points out, that joins blushing (Roses) to 'the idea
of flowers blooming and dying unseen'. 
But unless one knows the literary tradition very well,
one might not catch Gray's use of Pope at all: the only
identical word is 'desert', and the grammatical form of
it differs in each case. Gray is not 'consuming'
Pope, not reusing his words as if they were anybody's
to use, as is Smith. But Gray is also tuning a verse to
ideas and partly to sounds that make his poem familiar
to an educated memory and ear, thus creating an 'original'
poem that sounds like it should be part of the tradition
of the British canon, as is 'The Rape of the Lock'.
poem is a monument to Pope in that it doesn't touch his
words-Pope's words are his alone, the 'Elegy' says
in its practice of not really quoting-and also a monument
to Gray who offers an 'original' composition of Pope's
images in new words. Gray's 'Elegy' performs beautifully
in accordance with the exigencies of the double bind insofar
as it is both traditional and original, as do all the
instances of misprision or misquoting in works by male
canonical authors adumbrated by Harold Bloom, and the
result in all cases is the establishment of a literary
tradition strewn with monuments, poems the words of which
appear inviolate because uttered by some great man.
like to suggest that women wrote under a different exigency:
Smith had to prove that she had read Pope. Adela Pinch
points out that '[m]ost readers did not object to Smith's
heavy use of quotation and allusion [.] [H]er sonnets
announce a relationship to poetic language and literary
tradition that seemed appropriate'. 
It is important to notice that at least ten editions of
Smith's Elegiac Sonnets appeared between 1784 and
1806, in the midst of the decades of controversy over
Gray's 'originality', 1781-1806, 
when critics began to notice that some of Gray's 'allusions'
came too close to their originals. In fact, in the year
1806, the European Magazine attacked Gray for his
'borrowed plumage' 
and praised Smith, in her obituary, for her originality.
It is clear, therefore, that they are being held to a
different standard, that gender determined what counted
as a proper relationship to literary tradition. It is
fine for women poets to use lines of male canonical authors
almost verbatim in their poems. Women can quote high art
because their own ephemeral work does not have
to employ original language; they can repeat rather than
monumentalise as inviolate the language of their literary
predecessors. Fundamentally positioned as the bourgeois
consumers of what avant-garde artists drop down to them,
women consume high poetry as readers who write about their
reading: theirs is not an aesthetic of monumentalising
originality, but rather an aesthetic of productive consumption.
was '[o]ne of the most indefatigable epigraphers' of the
Romantic period suggests that she is operating within
this aesthetic of productive consumption. 
What I would now like to show is how two of Hemans's gift-book
poems operate within that aesthetic-but not only that,
how they deliberately oppose the monumentalising enterprise.
the annuals, the speakers of poems are positioned as having
traveled to see commemorating and funereal sculptures,
and, in the body of the poem, the speakers reflect on
the meaning of these monuments. Paradoxically, while much
gift-book poetry is about monuments, it does not monumentalise
as does the canonical poetry that is not about
monuments. Gray's 'Elegy' enshrines Pope, but it describes
'mouldering heaps' in the 'turf' over which 'no trophies'
or tombstones have been raised. Hemans's poem reflecting
on the lost innocence of childhood, 'The Child and Dove',
is, as the title and plate attest, 'suggested by Chantrey's
statue of Lady Louisa Jane Russell' (p. 245). Wordsworth's
poem on the same subject, the Intimations Ode, is about
no sculpted object. Yet the two differently commemorate
both innocence and art.
'Ode' sees childhood innocence-'the hour / Of splendour
in the grass'-as lost, but also sees some part of it that
'remains behind' in a 'primal sympathy' with nature 'Which
having been must ever be'; and, of course, in 'the philosophic
Innocence is called up for Hemans by the statue of a child,
of 'the hours / When the love of our souls was on leaves
and flowers; / When a world was our own in some dim, sweet
grove, / And treasure untold in one captive Dove!' ('Child
and Dove', 245) But in contrast to Wordsworth, nothing
of this feeling remains behind: 'Is it not Spring that
indeed breathes free / And fresh o'er each thought, as
we gaze on thee? / No!' (pp. 245-46) While that feeling
is gone, the memory of it is retained, 'shrine[d]' in
human 'hearts' (p. 246) The statue itself, like Hemans's
poem, evokes a memory which is enshrined in a living person,
but it doesn't itself monumentalise the feeling: the speaker
of 'The Child and Dove' 'turn[s]' quickly away from the
statue, leaving it forever, taking 'One vision away of
the cloudless morn!' This statue has been consumed; it
is a used and abandoned object, not a monument. That Wordsworth
considers his poem to be enshrining the feeling in a monument
is suggested by the insistence that innocence is still
present, that it is still 'the fountain light of all our
day', 'a master light of all our seeing' evoking 'truths
that wake / To perish never', never utterly abolish[ed]
or destroy[ed]' ('Ode', ll. 154-55, 158-59, and 163).
But more than that, the poem itself becomes a monument
in one of its echoes. Wordsworth writes that the child
'Did tremble like a guilty / Thing surprized' before the
instinct of immortality ('Ode', l. 150), partly quoting
Shakespeare's Hamlet. The ghost of Hamlet's father
began to speak to Horatio but then suddenly 'started,
like a guilty thing / Upon a fearful summons' and disappeared
(I.i.148-49). 'Trembl[ing]' with
'surprise' is a paraphrase of 'started': Shakespeare is
almost quoted here, and yet not quite; his words are indicated
but not used; Wordsworth monumentalises Shakespeare in
his poem just as Gray monumentalised Pope. In contrast
to the immortal things passed down through allusion from
Shakespeare to Wordsworth, the statue about which Hemans
writes is, as she says in an anaphora, 'a thing' that
performs various tasks, stimulating dreams and memories
('Child and Dove', p. 245), but not of equal value to
the 'something' that lies in human hearts of living people
which is what truly 'shrine[s] / A memory of beauty' (p.
246). For Wordsworth, in other words, it is possible to
have the feeling still, and have it in a poem; for Hemans,
it is only possible to have the memory of a feeling which
can be evoked by a statue or a poem as it is consumed.
Art performs good services for living people, awaking
memories, but it isn't itself those living, breathing
memories and it doesn't compensate for the loss of the
child's capacity to apprehend beauty.
'The Sculptured Children' is a poem about Sir Francis
Chantrey's Sleeping Children (1817), a statue in
Lichfield Cathedral commemorating the death of two young
sisters in 1812. It begins with an epigraph from Shakespeare's
Richard III (IV.iii.9-11)
about other children who have died tragically, these at
Richard's hands. The poem implicitly speaks throughout
to a mother who has lost a child and views this statue,
explicitly addressing mothers about mid-way through. Hemans
believes that the form of the funereal monument will stimulate
memory, as did the 'Fair form' of Chantrey's statue of
Lady Louisa Jane: it causes the mother's memory of her
lost child to 'too piercingly return' and causes 'her
soul [to] too deeply yearn' for that child. Hemans invokes
the monument to help this mother, seeming to request that
art offer some permanent consolation for loss. But Hemans
moves from addressing the form of the monument to addressing
those 'gentlest forms' it pictures, the deceased children.
When she says in the final stanza 'By all the pure, meek
mind / In your pale beauty shrined', it's not exactly
clear whether the statue of the children has the 'pale
beauty' or whether the children have it. That is, it's
not quite clear who 'your' refers to, children or monument,
because, by the end of the stanza, Hemans is indeed addressing
'the fairest, holiest Dead', the dead children themselves,
not their monument. She asks the children, not the monument,
to comfort this mother 'By childhood's love-too bright
a bloom to die'. The love of childhood is indistinctly
the mother's love of her children or the children's love
of their own lives (including their mother). The poem
may be suggesting that the two are inextricably intertwined,
that the children's love of life is sustained by the mother's
unappeasable love for her dead children. The power of
immortalising these children, and with them, of 'pure,
meek mind', comes from 'childhood's love' and not from
the statue: it comes from a mother's living being. What
we witness in this poem about a bereaved mother reading
Shakespeare and seeing Chantrey's monument is a woman
taking the power to generate her own sense of immortality
away from the experience of consuming art. That power
isn't in the text and the monument, in the things, but
in the living people who use them.
of these two poems, I believe, contrasts starkly with
the goal set up for art by the dominant aesthetic of the
canonical male tradition, an aesthetic engaged in monumentalising
originality, that creates melancholy feelings of loss
over great (male) poets. The goal of a gift-book aesthetic,
of what I've been calling 'productive consumption', as
Hemans formulates it in these two poems, is to envision
and BE art that is expendable,
art that stimulates feeling about losses of living realities,
and returns the consumer to those realities, offering
detachment from the work of art itself. Insofar as we
haven't canonised the writers of gift books, they have
beautifully fulfilled their aesthetic goals.
On Chantrey's Monument at Lichfield.
By MRS. HEMANS.
The gentle babes, thus girdling one another
Within their alabaster innocent arms.
images of sleep!
and soft, and deep!
On whose calm lids the dreamy quiet lies,
moonlight on shut bells
flowers in mossy dells,
Fill'd with the hush of night and summer skies;
many hearts have felt
silent beauty melt
Their strength to gushing tenderness away!
many sudden tears,
depths of buried years
All freshly bursting, have confess'd your sway!
many eyes will shed
o'er your marble bed,
Such drops, from Memory's troubled fountains
Hope hath blights to bear,
Love breathes mortal air,
While roses perish ere to glory sprung.
from a voiceless home,
If some sad mother come
To bend and linger o'er your lovely rest;
o'er the cheek's warm glow,
the soft breathings low
Of babes, that grew and faded on her breast;
then the dovelike tone
those faint murmurs gone,
O'er her sick sense too piercingly return;
for the soft bright hair,
brow and bosom fair,
And life, now dust, her soul too deeply yearn;
gentlest forms! entiwnd
tendrils, which the wind
May wave, so claspd, but never can unlink;
your calm profound
still small voice, a sound
Of hope, forbidding that lone heart to sink.
all the pure, meek mind
your pale beauty shrined,
By childhood's love-too bright a bloom to die!
her worn spirit shed,
fairest, holiest Dead!
The Faith, Trust, Light, of Immortality!
Sir Francis Chantrey,
Diderot's Oeuvres Esthétiques, ed. Paul Vernière (Paris:
Garnier, 1965), p. 317: '[U]ne femme malheureuse, et vraiment
malheureuse, pleure et ne vous touche point: il y a pis, c'est
qu'un trait léger qui la défigure vous fait rire; c'est qu'un
accent qui lui est propre dissone à votre oreille et vous
blesse; c'est qu'un mouvement qui lui est habituel vous montre
sa douleur ignoble et maussade; c'est que les passions outrées
sont presque toutes sujettes à des grimaces que l'artiste
sans goût copie servilement, mais que le grand artiste évite'.
first was originally published in The Literary Souvenir,
ed. Alaric A. Watts (London: Hurst, Robinson, and Co., 1826).
The second in The Forget Me Not; a Christmas, New Year's,
and Birthday Present (London: Ackermann, 1829). Subsequent
references to these pieces will be given in the text. A copy
of 'The Sculptured Children' is provided at the end of this
Kathryn Ledbetter, 'Lucrative Requests: British Authors and
Gift Book Editors', Papers of the Bibliographical Society
of America 88.2 (June 1994), 208-09 and 211-12.
Market of Symbolic Goods', Poetics 14 (1985), 17.
'Prospectus to The Recluse', quoting Milton's Paradise
Lost (VIII, 31). Reprinted in M. H. Abrams, Natural
Supernaturalism: Tradition and Revolution in Romantic Literature
(New York: Norton, 1971), p. 466.
Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth, ed. Alan G.
Hill, 3 vols. (2nd edn. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1978), III,
593. Quoted in Ledbetter, p. 208; Wordsworth eventually succumbs
to the temptation, but he doesn't become a regular contributor.
in the Blackwood Archives, National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh,
dated 15 July 1833. Quoted in Paula Feldman, 'The Poet and
the Profits: Felicia Hemans and the Literary Marketplace',
in Women's Poetry, Late Romantic to Early Victorian: Gender
and Genre, 1830-1900, ed. Isobel Armstrong and Virginia
Blain (London: Macmillan, and New York: St Martin's Press,
1999), p. 81.
of Charles Lamb, ed. W. Carew Hazlitt, 2 vols. (London:
George Bell, 1886), II, 292. Quoted in Cynthia Lawford, 'Bijoux
Beyond Possession: The Prima Donna's of L.E.L.'s Album Poems',
in Women's Poetry, p. 110.
Ledbetter, p. 213.
Feldman, pp. 81-87.
Ibid., p. 82.
III, 680. Quoted in Ledbetter, p. 209.
Wilson, 'Monologue, or Soliloquy on the Annuals', Blackwood's
Edinburgh Magazine 26 (Dec 1829), 949-51. Quoted in Zachary
Leader and Ian Haywood (eds.), Romantic Period Writings
1798-1832: An Anthology (New York: Routledge, 1998),
Feldman, pp. 91 and 86.
See Ina Ferris, Introduction to The Achievement of Literary
Authority: Gender, History, and the Waverley Novels (Ithaca,
NY and London: Cornell University Press, 1991), and Peter
Stallybrass and Allon White, The Politics and Poetics of
Transgression (Ithaca, NY and London: Cornell University
Makepeace Thackeray], 'A Word on the Annuals', Fraser's
Magazine for Town and Country 16 (1837), 757-63. Quoted
in Lawford, p. 103.
to John Murray, dated 26 Feb 1817 and Nov 1817. Quoted in
Feldman, pp. 75 and 77.
Keepsake for 1828 (London: Hurst, 1827), pp.
15 and 17. Quoted in Lawford, 'Bijoux Beyond Possession',
Jerome McGann [The Romantic Ideology (Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 1983)] sees high Romantic poetry
as universalising, and Georg Lukács [Realism in Our Time:
Literature and the Class Struggle, trans. John and Necke
Mander (New York: Harper and Row, 1964)] perceives such a
universalising of bourgeois class concerns as the hallmark
of modernism, and perhaps modernity as well.
Ledbetter, p. 213.
Except for Shakespeare, they disdained gift books, but
ultimately did contribute at least a small amount of poetry
to the annuals, as Ledbetter shows.
Stuart Curran. 'Romantic Poetry: Why and Wherefore?',
in The Cambridge Companion to British Romanticism,
ed. Stuart Curran (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
1993), pp. 216-35.
See Bloom's Anxiety of Influence; A Theory of Poetry
(New York: Oxford University Press, 1973) and A Map
of Misreading (New York: Oxford University Press, 1975).
See Claudia Thomas, Alexander Pope and his Eighteenth‑Century
Women Readers (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University
Lawford, p. 112.
At moments Hemans became anxious over writing too much
about viewing artistic work. She writes to John Murray in
1817: 'Had I been more fully aware of the very limited taste
for the Arts which you inform me is displayed by the Public,
I should certainly have applied myself to some other subject
[than the Elgin marbles, in Modern Greece]; but from
having seen so many works advertised on Sculpture, Painting,
&c. I was naturally led to imagine the contrary'. Quoted
in Feldman, p. 75.
See John Guillory, Cultural Capital: The Problem
of Literary Canon Formation (Chicago and London: University
of Chicago Press, 1993).
'Gray and "Allusion": The Poet as Debtor', in Studies
in the Eighteenth Century IV: Papers Presented at the Fourth
David Nichol Smith Memorial Seminar Canberra 1976, ed.
R. F. Brissenden and J. C. Eade (Canberra: Australian National
University Press, 1979), p. 31.
Ibid., p. 32.
Adela Pinch, Strange Fits of Passion: Epistemologies
of Emotion, Hume to Austen (Stanford, CA: Stanford University
Press, 1996), p. 60.
Quoted in Pinch, pp. 62-63.
Suvir Kaul, Thomas Gray & Literary Authority: A
Study in Ideology and Poetics (Stanford, CA: Stanford
University Press, 1992), pp. 124-25.
Pinch, p. 61. Pinch points out that Anna Seward did
attack Smith for 'plagiarism', but insists that this attack
Lonsdale, p. 46.
European Magazine 50 (1806), 292-95. Quoted in Lonsdale,
European Magazine 50 (1806), 339-40. Summarised
in Pinch, p. 202 n. 21.
See David Latané, 'Epigraphs', Online posting: NASSR-L
(17 May 2000). Date Accessed: 22 Aug 2000.
'Ode ("There Was a Time")', in William Wordsworth,
ed. Stephen Gill (New York: Oxford University Press, 1984),
pp. 297-302: ll. 180-81, 183-85, and 189. Subsequent
references will be to this edition of the poem and will
be given in the text.
Originally published in the Forget Me Not for 1829,
ed. Frederic Shoberl (London: Ackerman, 1829), pp. 11-12.
The image is reproduced here by kind permission of
the Dean and Chapter of Lichfield Cathedral.
This article is copyright © 2001 Centre
for Editorial and Intertextual Research, and is the
result of the independent labour of the scholar or scholars
credited with authorship. The material contained
in this document may be freely distributed, as long
as the origin of information used has been properly
credited in the appropriate manner (e.g. through bibliographic
L. MANDELL. 'Felicia Hemans and the Gift-Book Aesthetic',
Cardiff Corvey: Reading the Romantic Text 6 (June 2001).
Online: Internet (date accessed): <http://www.cf.ac.uk/encap/romtext/articles/cc06_n01.html>.
Laura Mandell (MA Cornell, PhD Cornell) is Associate
Professor of English at Miami University in Oxford,
Ohio. She specialises in British eighteenth-century
and Romantic writers, having just finished a book on
how the figure of woman and women writers function in
establishing canonical literature: Misogynous Economies:
The Business of Literature in Eighteenth-Century Britain
(Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 1999).
She has published articles on the eighteenth-century
and Romantic women writers Mary Leapor, Anna Barbauld,
and Eliza Fenwick.
In addition to participating
in the development of web sites for Romanticists (The
Romantic Chronology <http://english.ucsb.edu:591/rchrono>,
the Pedagogy Page of Romantic Circles <http://www.rc.umd.edu>),
she is a research candidate at the Cincinnati Institute
for Psychoanalysis and has recently won the CORST Essay
Prize from the American Psychoanalytic Institute for
a paper on Melancholia and Poetry.
24 January, 2006
This document is maintained by Anthony Mandal