LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Literary Life of the Rev. William Harness
Mary Russell Mitford to William Harness, 4 November 1839

Chapter I.
Chapter II.
Chapter III.
Chapter IV.
Chapter V.
Chapter VI.
Chapter VII.
Chapter VIII.
Chapter IX.
Chapter X.
Chapter XI.
Chapter XII.
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“Three Mile Cross, November 4th, 1839.
“My dear Friend,

“Let me thank you most sincerely and heartily for the thrice beautiful play. I have read it with equal pride and pleasure—a triumphant pleasure in such an evidence of the sweet and gentle power of my oldest and, I might almost say, my kindest friend. It breathes the spirit of the old dramatists from first to last, especially of Heywood, whose ‘Woman killed with Kindness’ is forcibly recalled; but by that sort of resemblance which springs from a congeniality of talent, and makes one say, ‘Heywood might have written this, although there is much more of the letter of poetry, more finished and beautiful passages, than can be found in any single play of the ‘Prose Shakespeare.’ I do not know when I have read a drama which bore such evi-
dence of the author’s mind, so good, so pure, so indulgent, so gentlemanly.
Lady Dacre told me that it was full of beauty; but I did not expect so much poetry, and I feel sincerely grateful to Mr. Dyce (whom I always liked very heartily on his own account) for rescuing this charming play from the flames. When I said that I had not for a long time seen a drama so full of the author, I fibbed unconsciously, for it is into plays that authors do put their very selves. The character of Kessel is very beautiful and original, and the high-minded Albert, and poor, poor Margaret, have made me cry more than I can tell. At all events, I rejoice to have it printed. It fixes you in the same high position poetically that you have always occupied socially and professionally. It is a thing for your friends to be proud of, in every sense of the word. If the tableaux go on, I shall come to you for a dramatic scene. Has that book been sent yet? You will be very much pleased with Miss Barrett’s ballad, in spite of a little want of clearness, and with Mr. Proctor’s spirited poem. In short, it is the only book bearing my name of which I was ever proud; but if we go on, I shall be still prouder next year to have you added to my list of poets and friends. What a thing it is, by mere self-postponement and sympathy in the claims of others, to have hidden such a gift! It is just like what your
sister does, who—cleverer and better than half her acquaintances—always speaks of herself as nobody.

“God bless you! A thousand thanks for all your kindness.

“Ever most faithfully yours,
M. R. Mitford.”