LETTER TO MISS E. BELSHAM (1800)
ANNA LAETITIA BARBAULD (17431825)
I have received . . . great pleasure lately from the representation of De Montfort, a tragedy which you probably read a year and half ago, in a volume entitled A Series of Plays on the Passions. I admired it then, but little dreamed I was indebted for my entertainment to a young lady of Hampstead [i.e. Joanna Baillie] whom I visited, and who came to Mr. Barbauld’s meeting all the while with as innocent a face as if she had never written a line. The play is admirably acted by Mrs. Siddons and Kemble, and is finely written, with great purity of sentiment, beauty of diction, strength and originality of character; but it is open to criticism, I cannot believe such a hatred natural. The affection between the brother and sister is most beautifully touched, and, as far as I know, quite new. The play is somewhat too good for our present taste.
[SOURCE: The Works of Anna Lætitia Barbauld, with a Memoir by Lucy Aikin, 2 vols (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green, 1825), vol. 2, pp. 678]
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