Elegy to the Memory of the Late Duke of Bedford (1802): Reviews

The Critical Review, series 2, vol 36, Dec.1802, pp. 475-6.

This is the most respectable tribute that has yet been offered to the memory of one so universally and deservedly lamented. We copy the concluding lines.[quotes from ‘But ye who, wrapt in fruitless  grief … Bedford in youth expires, the full of days.’]

[note: reviews also An Elegy, on his Grace Francis, the late Duke of Bedford by Thomas Rodd, remarking “These rhymes are of common magazine manufacture”; and Elegy to the Memory of Francis late Duke of Bedford by H. Steers, Gent., commenting “Appropriate praise in indifferent poetry.”]

Monthly Review, vol. 38, May 1802, p. 99.

This ingenious lady’s feelings, on the mournful subject which here employs the Muse of woe, are generally expressed in warm and harmonious numbers; for instance,

‘To thee, lamented shade, the Muse shall raise

The ardent song of unsuspected praise;

Hers the soft pensive pleasure to impart,

The genuine feelings of no venal heart,

And with the honours that bedeck thy bier

Mix the pure incense of a soul sincere.

Yet hard the task:–while busy memory flies

To the great day when first thou mett’st my eyes,

Oh! dreadful contrast! fancy’s restless power

That moment paints thee in thy dying hour,

Till the sad scene my shuddering soul appalls,

And from my grasp the Muse’s pencil falls.’

The poem, however, does not thus conclude, for it is here only just begun. The rest of the Elegy is employed in celebrating the truly noble and illustrious House of Russell.

New Annual Register,vol. 23, 1802, p. [317].

We turn con amore to the ladies; and are pleased to receive from Mrs. Opie a little volume of her poetic effusions.  They consist for the most part of short pieces in a plaintive and melancholy strain, and are seldom devoid of merit.  The Songs, as they are called, form the worst part of the book; they are mere sound and measure, without any appropriate or original idea.  We have also received from this lady a well-written “Elegy to the Late Duke of Bedford.”

Poetical Register, vol. 2, 1802, pp. 440-1.

THIS Elegy will not add to the reputation of Mrs. Opie. Though it has some good lines, it is, on the whole, a languid, and, of course, uninteresting poem. Neither is Mrs. Opie as successful in heroic verse as in other metres: her verse of that kind is not recommended by elegance or vigour.