‘My first acquaintance with Elizabeth Barrett’

  • Mary Russell Mitford


My first acquaintance with Elizabeth Barrett commenced about fifteen years ago.1 She was certainly one of the most interesting persons that I had ever seen. Everybody who then saw her said the same; so that it is not merely the impression of my partiality, or my enthusiasm. Of a slight, delicate figure, with a shower of dark curls falling on either side of a most expressive face, large tender eyes richly fringed by dark eyelashes, a smile like a sunbeam, and such a look of youthfulness, that I had some difficulty persuading a friend, in whose carriage we went together to Chiswick, that the translatress of the ‘Prometheus’2 of Aeschylus, the authoress of the ‘Essay on Mind’, was old enough to be introduced into company, in technical language was out. Through the kindness of another invaluable friend,3 to whom I owe many obligations, but none so great as this, I saw much of her during my stay in town. We met so constantly and so familiarly that in spite of the difference of age intimacy ripened into friendship, and after my return into the country, we corresponded freely and frequently, her letters being just what letters ought to be — her own talk put upon paper.

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2000

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  • Mary Russell Mitford

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