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The following letter, which was found among Miss SEWARD's papers after her death, will account sufficiently for the present Publication, and renders it unnecessary for the Editor either to enter into any explanation of his motives for undertaking it, or to offer any apology for its appearance.
Posthumous. Letter from Anna Seward
to Mr A. Constable.
July 17, 1807. “ In a Will, made and executed since “ I had the pleasure of seeing you in
April last, I have left you the exclu“sive copy-right of Twelve Volumes
quarto, half-bound. They contain co
pies of letters, or of parts of letters, “ that, after I had written them, appear66 ed to me worth the attention of the “ public. Voluminous as is the collec“ tion, it does not include a twelfth part “ of my epistolary writing from the time “it commences, viz. from the year 1784, “ to the present day.
“ I wish you to publish two volumes “ annually ; and by no means to follow “ the late absurd custom of classing let“ ters to separate correspondents, but " suffer them to succeed each other in “ the order of time, as you find them " transcribed.
“ When you shall receive this letter “ its Writer will be no more. While she 66 lives she must wish Mr CONSTABLE all
manner of good, and that he may enjoy it to a late period of human life.
66 ANNA SEWARD.”
It was in this manner that these letters came into the hands of the Editor ; and, in obeying the direction of their accomplished Author, he is happy to believe that he is, at the same time, contributing not a little to extend her reputation. Miss SEWARD has hitherto been known and admired almost entirely as a writer of poetry. Her attempts in prose have not been considered as equally fortunate; and, it is to be feared, that even in these familiar. epistles, several affectations of style, arising mostly from too free an use of poetic imagery, may tend somewhat to obscure their real merit. But when this peculiarity is got over, the reader, it is presumed, cannot fail to be struck with the many intellectual and moral excellencies which they display.
He will perceive throughout, in their Author, an independent and vigorous mind, entering with animation into every subject which is presented to it-full of elevated views,—and uninfluenced by common notions when they were not
brought home to its own perceptions of truth.
In her Critical remarks especially, Miss SEWARD will always be found ingenious and instructive; and, if she sometimes erts in praising her favourite authors with too little discrimination, the error is of that generous kind which marks the warmth of her character, and could proceed only from an enthusiastic admiration of every thing which seemed to her to bear the stamp of genius.
In Politics her opinions are free and spirited ; and whatever opinion the reader may entertain of the counsels adopted by this country in consequence of the French Revolution, he cannot but admire the sagacity with which she has predicted many of those unfortunate results which we have since been doomed to deplore.
The ardour of Miss SEWARD's affections is no less conspicuous in these letters than the force of her understand.