MARY RUSSELL MITFORD
[The Life of Mary Russell Mitford, Related in a Selection from Her Letters to Her Friends, 3 vols, ed. A. G. LíEstrange (London: Richard Bentley, 1870), vol. 1, p. 30]
(7 February 1821)
Yes, I have read Melmoth all through; I never read much by Mr. Maturin before, for Woman I could not bear, and, I believe, never finished, and Bertram was not at all to my taste; and Montorio and the rest I never saw. I donít think I shall want to look at Melmoth again in a hurry, and yet it is a most extraordinary book, full of power terrible power but with some most splendid painting and touches, that go quite to the heart, particularly in I forget the name the starving story. It is very painful too, but not, I think, on the whole so painful as Kenilworth, which is the most complete anatomy of the bad human heart that I have ever met with.
[Letters of Mary Russell Mitford, ed. Henry Chorley, 2 vols (London: Richard Bentley and Son, 1872), vol. 1, p. 101]
(4 March 1842)
After finishing my last letter, I finished Lewisís Memoirs. It is grievous to think how by the publication of a book (The Monk) that never ought to have been written or thought, far less printed he stamped himself with an evil fame; for really he seems to have been one of the most benevolent, kind persons that ever lived. I think you would like his Memoirs, and the West Indian Journal. The ballad, ĎBill Jones,í of which Scott gave him the story, and which is versified in the plainest manner, and almost verbatim, is very striking. I remember, too, being much pleased, years ago, with the ĎAnacreon.í Poor Lewis! I canít get him out of my head. And yet the book is wretchedly done. Itís the manís own character that forces itself upon one, in spite of the biographer; and the more strongly, of course, from the reaction having before thought so ill of him. He died as early as Byron; and I am much more certain (humanly speaking) that he, if he had been spared, would have redeemed himself nobly, than I can feel about the other. There was in the one so much self-denial and care for others; precisely what Childe Harold wanted.
[Letters of Mary Russell Mitford, vol. 1, pp. 1989]
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