Monday 9 September 2013

Contemporary Reviews of Haywood's History of Leonora Meadowson (1788)

Below are transcripts of two contemporary reviews of Eliza Haywood's The History of Miss Leonora Meadowson (1788), a revision of Cleomelia (1726), with links to the original texts (now on Google Books). See here for a complete list of early reviews of Haywood's works available online.

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Ab.35.2 The History of Leonora Meadowson, Critical Review 65 (March 1788): 236—online here

The History of Leonora Meadowson. By the Author of Betsy Thoughtless. 2 Vols. 5s. Noble.

The spirit which dictated Betsy Thoughtless is evaporated; the fire of the author scarcely sparkles. Even two meagre volumes could not be filled, without a little History of Melinda Fairfax;—without the Tale of Cornaro and the Turk,—a tale told twice, in verse and prose,—a tale already often published, and as often read.[**] Alas, poor author! we catch with regret thy parting breath.

But, as this is probably the last time that we shall meet, as we owe somewhat to the author of Betsy Thoughtless, our first guide in these delusive walks of fiction and fancy, we mast give a short account of the present work.—Leonora yields indiscreetly to the wishes of her first lover; she then marries another; the marries again, before she is happy, with the faithful Fleetwood, whom she thought inconstant. Mrs. Munden acted more prudently, though at first thoughtless and indiscreet. The tale is, however, neatly told, and we are interested in the fate of our heroine, notwithstanding her first indiscretion, and her two subsequent very unaccountable matches.

The story of Melinda Fairfax is that of the “Guardian,” which has been so often seen on the stage, though with some little variation. The Tale of Cornaro is well known: the poetical version we do not recollect. If it is the work of the author, he deserves our applause: the versification is elegant, and sometimes highly poetical. The descriptive parts are extremely well executed.

[**seemingly, a reference to John Whaley, "Cornaro and the Turk: A Tale," A Collection of Original Poems and Translations (London: Printed for the Author, 1745), 1–28 [ESTC: t101302], which was often reprinted. The Tale starts "Where, 'mid Italia's ever sunny lands; / Fast by the streams of Po, Ferrara stands." For reprints online, see here (1780, often reprinted), here (1807) and here (1811, sans title).]
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Ab.35.2 The History of Leonora Meadowson, Town and Country Magazine 20 (April 1788): 154—online here.

The History of Leonora Meadowson. By the Author of Betsy Thoughtless 2 Vols. 5s. Noble.

In this work very little of the author's original fancy and spirit is to be found; but the poetical version of Camaro, a tale well known, is elegant and well executed.

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