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Msgazine and Other Contributions by Mary Russell Mitford and Thomas Noon Talfourd by William A. Coles
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Msgazine and Other Contributions by Mary Russell Mitford and Thomas Noon Talfourd
William A. Coles

In the course of his long friendship with Mary Russell Mitford, Thomas Noon Talfourd acted at times as an unofficial (and unpaid) literary agent for the struggling, hard-pressed authoress, and he was always her close confidant on literary matters. Accordingly, the unpublished correspondence between the two adds much new information to the publication history of Miss Mitford and many new items to the bibliographies of both. The following information derives from letters written during the first five years of their correspondence.[1]

In March, 1821, soon after Miss Mitford had begun her professional career as a writer, Talfourd suggested that she contribute prose and poetry to periodicals. Thereafter he transmitted sonnets which she sent him to the New Monthly Magazine. The following is a list of sonnets by her that I have been able to identify in that magazine:

  • "Sonnet. Written in a Blank Paper Book Given to the Author by a Friend," I (1821), 387.

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  • "Sonnet. On a Landscape by Mr. Hofland" (published in Dramatic Scenes [2] as "On Leaving a Favourite Picture"), I (1821), 392.
  • "Sonnet on Visiting Donnington Castle . . . ," I (1821), 532.
  • "To a Friend on Her Birth-Day," II (1821), 369.
  • "On an Intended Removal from a Favourite Residence," IV (1822), 81.
  • "Sonnet" (published in Dramatic Scenes as "On a Beautiful Woman"), IV (1822), 192.
All were later printed in the Museum (see below) and are in Dramatic Scenes. As the lists below demonstrate, Miss Mitford was somewhat extravagantly given to reprinting in magazines and annuals poetry already printed in other magazines and later still to be gathered in a volume.

Talfourd also sold four of Miss Mitford's prose articles to the New Monthly in 1821:

  • "Field Flowers," I, 648-650.
  • "Richmond," II, 56-59.
  • "On the Comedies of Thomas May," II, 70-75.
  • "On Letters and Letter-Writers," II, 142-146.
These were the only articles published by her in that magazine until 1824, when two of her prose sketches, "The Touchy Lady" (XI, 348-351), and "Rosedale and Its Tenants" (XI, 521-528), were printed there. The former was later reprinted in Our Village, second series (1826), and the latter was revised and reprinted as "Rosedale" in Our Village, fourth series (1830).

Talfourd also submitted Miss Mitford's dramatic sketches to the London Magazine, though his success in that quarter was slighter. Two, however, were accepted: "Emily, A Dramatic Sketch" (III [May, 1821], 499-505), and "Theodore and Bertha, a Dramatic Sketch" (IV [September, 1821], 256-265). Both were later reprinted in Dramatic Scenes, though the title of the latter was changed to "The Fawn," and the name of the character Theodore was changed to Leopold. Mr. Elmer Brooks, in an unpublished Harvard University thesis, "Studies in the London Magazine" (1954), p. 406, incorrectly ascribes to Miss Mitford "Count Julius, A Dramatic Sketch," printed in the June, 1821, issue of the magazine (pp. 622-627), and signed "φορμιο." But from Miss Mitford's letter to Talfourd of June 21, 1821 (R), it is clear that Talfourd has told her, in answer to her inquiry in a letter of June 8 (H), that the author of the piece was George Croly.

On April 27, 1822, appeared the first issue of a new weekly, the Museum, which was printed by Abraham John Valpy, the son of Dr. Richard Valpy, headmaster of Reading School and a close friend of the Mitfords. Miss Mitford was asked to contribute, and she did so, though reluctantly, because the pay that John Valpy offered was very low. On March 31 she writes to Talfourd: "those papers which nobody else will take he shall have—which


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is serving him pretty much in his own style" (H). But even this "style" of publication eventually tried her patience, for in a letter of April 13 [?], 1823, she writes to Talfourd that she has given "warning" to the Museum, since she has only received ten pounds for nearly all the poetry she ever published there, or, as she puts it, "about the rate of sixpence a sonnet (H)." The following is a list of her works which I have been able to identify in the Museum:
  • *"Bridal Song" [from "Fiesco"], I (May 25, 1822), 73.
  • "The Masque of the Seasons. From 'Fiesco,' an Unpublished Tragedy," I (June 8, 1822), 106.
  • "The Bridal Eve: A Dramatic Scene," I (June 29, 1822), 155-156.
  • "Englefield House, The Seat of R. Benyon de Beauvoir, Esq.," I (July 13, 1822), 188.
  • *"Ode to St. Valentine," the same.
  • "Agnes: A Dramatic Scene" (published in Dramatic Scenes and Forget Me Not [1825] as "Alice. A Dramatic Scene"), I (July 20, 1822), 204-205.
  • *"Young Greyhounds Playing in the Snow.—A Winter Scene," I (August 10, 1822), 251.
  • "Independence," the same, pp. 251-252.
  • *"Stanzas" ["O take these tell-tale eyes away"], I (August 31, 1822), 301.
  • *"Sonnet on Reading a Ballad of Wordsworth," the same.
  • *"The Star of Evening," the same.
  • "Song" ["Sweet is the balmy evening hour"], the same.
  • "Sonnet.—To Miss J.," I (September 21, 1822), 348-349.
  • "Song" ["Evening's richest colors glowing"], I (October 19, 1822), 412.
  • *"Sonnet: Written after Reading Dr. Currie's Life of Burns," the same.
  • "Sonnet" ["Within my little garden is a flower"] (in Dramatic Scenes it is dated 1825), I (November 2, 1822), 442.
  • *"On the Death of a Friend [Mrs. James Perry]," I (December 7, 1822), 522.
  • *"Lines, Written after Reciting the Foregoing Poem to Some Young Ladies, Who had recently Lost Their Mother," the same.
  • "Sonnet Written in a Blank Paper Book, Given to the Author by a Friend," I (December 14, 1822), 538.
  • "On Visiting Donnington Castle, Said to Have Been the Latest Residence of Chaucer, and Famous for Its Resistance to the Parliamentary Army during the Civil Wars," the same.
  • "The Fishing Seat: White-knights," I (December 21, 1822), 556.
  • "On a 'Study from Nature,' by Mr. Haydon," the same.
  • "On Leaving a Favourite Landscape" (published in Dramatic Scenes as "On Leaving a Favourite Picture"), the same.

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  • "On an Intended Removal from a Favourite Residence," II (January 4, 1823), 13.
  • "To a Friend:—on Her Birth-day," the same.
  • "Sonnet" ["Look where she sits in languid loveliness"] (published in Dramatic Scenes as "On a Beautiful Woman"), II (January 11, 1823), 27.
  • "Sonnet" (published in Dramatic Scenes as "To My Mother Sleeping"), II (January 18, 1823), 43.
  • "New Year's Eve. To a Friend" (published in Dramatic Scenes as "New Year's Day, 1819. To Mrs. Dickinson"), II (February 1, 1823), 74.
  • *"To a Beautiful Boy on His Birthday; with a Garland of Woodbine," II (March 8, 1823), 155.
  • "Sonnet" (published in Dramatic Scenes as "Written after a Visit from Some Friends"), II (March 22, 1823), 186.
  • "Weston Grove. A Descriptive Poem," II (March 29, 1823), 203-205.
"Independence" and "Sweet is the balmy evening hour" were first published in the Poetical Register for 1810-1811, pp. 241-243 and p. 184, respectively. All the poems, except those starred, were reprinted in Dramatic Scenes, and some reappeared later in annuals too.

Miss Vera Watson, in her biography, Mary Russell Mitford (1949), p. 109, says that "Weston Grove," the last poem listed, was published in 1812, but was "written previously." However, the poem, which is in praise of the estate of William Chamberlayne, M.P., near Southampton, was probably written in 1812, soon after Miss Mitford's visit there. In a letter to Sir William Elford, dated September 3, 1812, she says that she has just returned from Southampton, and in another letter to him on October 27, 1812, she refers to her description of Netley Abbey in the poem.[3] The poem was sent to Chamberlayne, who acknowledged receiving it "some weeks since" in a letter dated November 7, 1812.[4] It was probably, then, written in September or early October at the latest. I can also find no evidence of its publication in 1812. Indeed, when Miss Mitford first sent it to Talfourd, together with other poetry supposedly destined for the New Monthly, in a letter of March 9, 1821, she told him that she had written it so long before that she had utterly forgotten it until she found "the manuscript" in searching for some sonnets (H).

In May, 1822, the Lady's Magazine changed hands, and the following month Talfourd started to contribute reviews and critical articles there. In September he arranged for Miss Mitford to publish there regularly too, and it was in this magazine, of course, that her Our Village sketches first began


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to appear. The following is a list of her works which I have been able to identify in the magazine:
  • "Claudia's Dream; A Dramatic Sketch" (published in Dramatic Scenes as "The Siege"), III (September 30, 1822), 462-466.
  • "Lucy," the same, pp. 478-483.
  • "Boarding School Recollections. No. I. The French Teacher," III (October 31, 1822), 545-551.
  • "Boarding School Recollections. No. II. My School-fellows," III (November 30, 1822), 600-605.
  • "Our Village," III (December 31, 1822), 645-650.
  • "Boarding School Recollections. No. III. The English Teacher," the same, pp. 672-677.
  • "The Talking Lady," IV (January 31, 1823), 16-19.
  • "Hannah," the same, pp. 25-28.
  • "Walks in the Country, No. I [Frost and Thaw]," IV (February 28, 1823), 92-94.
  • "A Great Farm House," the same, pp. 102-105.
  • "Henry Talbot; A Dramatic Scene," IV (March 31, 1823), 132-142.
  • "Modern Antiques," the same, pp. 142-145.
  • "Walks in the Country, No. II. The First Primrose," the same, pp. 161-163.
  • "Aunt Martha," IV (April 30, 1823), 214-215.
  • "Walks in the Country, No. III, Violeting," the same, pp. 229-231.
  • "Cousin Mary," the same, pp. 237-240.
  • "Louisa," IV (May 31, 1823), 254-257.
  • "Tom Cordery," the same, pp. 259-262.
  • "Walks in the Country. No. IV. Wood-Cutting" (later reprinted as "The Wood"), the same, pp. 273-274.
  • "Bramley Maying," the same, pp. 280-283.
  • "Walks in the Country. No. V. The Cowslip Ball," IV (June 30, 1823), 327-330.
  • "The Black Velvet Bag," IV (July 31, 1823), 378-381.
  • "A Country Cricket Match," the same, pp. 386-391.
  • "Walks in the Country. No. VI. The Ruined Mansion-House" (later reprinted as "The Old House at Aberleigh"), IV (August 31, 1823), 425-428.
  • "Harry L., or the Talking Gentleman," the same, pp. 429-431.
  • "The Amulet [a poem]," the same, p. 477.
  • "Ellen," IV (September 30, 1823), 489-494.
  • "Walks in the Country. No. VII. The Hard Summer," the same, pp. 501-505.
  • "Christian Names," IV (October 31, 1823), 559-562.
  • "Portraits in Verse. No. I. Antigone. from the OEdipus Tyrannus, the


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    OEdipus Coloneus, and the Antigone of Sophocles," the same, pp. 562-564.
  • "Walks in the Country. No. VIII. Nutting," IV (November 30, 1823), 609-612.
  • "On the Death of a Friend [a poem]," the same, p. 654.
  • "More of Our Village" (later reprinted as "A Parting Glance at Our Village"), IV (December 31, 1823), 665-667.
  • "A Remarkable Character of the Old School" (later reprinted as "Mrs. Mosse"), V (January 31, 1824), 1-7.
  • "Walks in the Country. No. IX. [The Visit]," the same, pp. 34-39.
  • "French Emigrants. No. I," V (February 29, 1824), 55-61.
  • "Ode to Genius," the same, pp. 77-80.
  • "Song Addressed to a Young Lady," V (April 30, 1824), 191.
  • "Walks in the Country. No. X. The Copse," V (May 31, 1824), 231-236.
  • "The Picture:—A Dramatic Scene" (reprinted in Dramatic Scenes as "The Painter's Daughter"), the same, pp. 245-252.
  • "Dr. Casden" (later reprinted as "Dr. Tubb"), V (June 30, 1824), 287-290.
  • "Miss Fanny" (later reprinted as "Marianne"), V (July 31, 1824), 343-349.
  • "Lucy Re-visited" (later reprinted as "A Visit to Lucy"), V (August 31, 1824), 399-404.
All the dramatic scenes and "Antigone" were reprinted in Dramatic Scenes, and the prose sketches were all reprinted in the Our Village series. In a note to the "Ode to Genius" Miss Mitford says that the poem is published for the first time, but it had previously been printed in the Poetical Register for 1810-1811, pp. 116-121.

At the end of 1825, after the successful appearance of the first collected volume of Our Village sketches during the preceding year, Miss Mitford again began to contribute her work to various publications. I have been able to find the following works by her in the New Year annuals of that season:

  • "Alice. A Dramatic Scene," Forget Me Not; A Christmas and New Year's Present for 1826, pp. 5-17 (previously printed in the Museum as "Agnes").
  • "A Village Sketch [Jack Hatch]," the same, pp. 304-315.
  • "The Vicar's Maid; a Village Story," The Amulet (1826), pp. 130-146.
  • "Sonnet on Mr. Hofland's Picture of Jerusalem at the Time of the Crucifixion," the same, p. 329.
  • "My Godfather," Literary Souvenir (1826), pp. 393-406.
  • "The Lady of Beechgrove. A Sketch," Friendship's Offering. A Literary Album (1826), pp. 91-101 (later reprinted as "The Tenants of Beechgrove").


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The sonnet was later reprinted in Dramatic Scenes, and all the sketches were reprinted in Our Village, second series (1826). She also contributed to John Thelwall's new magazine, the Panoramic Miscellany, which began on January 31, 1826. I can give no account of her work in this magazine, however, since there is no copy of it in this country. Its career was short-lived though, for in a letter to Barbara Hofland, dated September 20, 1826,[5] Miss Mitford writes that Thelwall's magazine has stopped, and that he owes her between seven and eight pounds.

Thelwall had apparently founded the Panoramic in opposition to Cox and Baylis' Monthly Magazine, to which Miss Mitford also became a regular contributor. I have been able to identify the following sketches by her in the magazine:

  • "An Old Gipsy: A Village Sketch," I (January, 1826), 13-17.
  • "The Young Gipsy: A Village Sketch. No. II," I (February, 1826), 129-134.
  • "Old Neighbors Sketches. No. I. An Admiral on Shore," I (April, 1826), 377-385.
  • "Village Sketches. No. III. The Seventh Son of a Seventh Son," I (June, 1826), 575-580. (largely rewritten and reprinted as "Lost and Found").
  • "Old Neighbors Sketches. No. II. A Quiet Gentlewoman," II (September, 1826), 274-279.
  • "Village Sketches. No. IV. A New Married Couple," II (December, 1826), 584-587.
  • "Village Sketches. No. V. A Christmas Party," III (January, 1827), 46-51.
  • "Village Sketches. No. VI. The Two Valentines," III (March, 1827), 263-266.
  • "Country Rambles. No. I. Wheat-Hoeing," III (May, 1827), 484-488.
  • "Village Sketches. No. VII. Whitsun-Eve," IV (July, 1827), 46-48.
  • "Village Sketches. No. VIII. Our Maying," IV (August, 1827), 155-159.
  • "Village Sketches. No. IX. The Bird-Catcher," V (February, 1828), 130-134.
  • "Village Sketches. No. X. The Mole Catcher," V (April, 1828), 365-368.
  • "Village Sketches. No. XI. The Shaw," VI (October, 1828), 387-390.
  • "Village Sketches. No. XII. Hannah Bint," VI (December, 1828), 572-576.
All were eventually reprinted in the Our Village series.

Because of their friendship with Dr. Valpy, Miss Mitford and Talfourd did some helpful "puffing" for the biennial production of Greek plays held at the Reading School. Miss Mitford was asked to review the performance of Orestes and the last three acts of King John, and her article appears in


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the Reading Mercury of October 22, 1821. She accepted the task, not knowing that Talfourd was writing an account of the plays for the Champion. His account appears in the October 28, 1821, issue of that paper (pp. 678-679). It is followed by his "Epilogue to the Orestes of Euripides," later reprinted in Poems, Odes, Prologues, and Epilogues, spoken on public occasions at Reading School, ed. Richard Valpy (London, 1826), pp. 189-191. To atone for seeming to intrude on his prerogative (Talfourd had attended Reading School and was always deeply attached to it), Miss Mitford had the Champion article reprinted in the Reading Mercury on November 5. Talfourd also seems to have written another account (or reprinted the one in the Champion) in a Windsor paper, presumably the Windsor and Eton Express; but this I have not seen. Later, in 1824, Miss Mitford was much charmed by Henry Richardson's performance of Admetus in the school's production of Alcestis, and wrote a sonnet to him. It appears in the Reading Mercury of October 25, and was later reprinted in Dramatic Scenes, pp. 296-297.

Talfourd's connection with the Reading School was no doubt responsible for his publication in the Pamphleteer, which was printed by Abraham John Valpy. Robert Newdick, Talfourd's most complete bibliographer, lists six articles by him in that periodical from 1813 to 1815.[6] However, Miss Mitford identifies as his another unsigned Pamphleteer article, "A Reply to the Most Popular Objections to Public Schools, with Particular Reference to the Tyrocinium of Cowper" (III [August, 1814], 103-130).

Newdick also did not know of Talfourd's association with the Lady's Magazine, which he kept a closely guarded secret. Furthermore, following Newdick, Professor William S. Ward has said that Talfourd's career as a critic of poetry was virtually at an end in 1820.[7] Actually Talfourd published some of his most interesting criticism of contemporary poetry in the Lady's Magazine, for which during the space of about a year he wrote almost exclusively, except for dramatic reviews and non-literary work published elsewhere. There follows a list of articles probably by Talfourd in that magazine:

  • A review of Sir Walter Scott, The Fortunes of Nigel, III (June 30, 1822), 281-290.
  • A review of the Rev. H. H. Milman, Belshazzar; a Dramatic Poem, the same, 323-326.
  • "On the Genius and Writings of Moore," III (July 31, 1822), 337-339; concluded, III (August 31, 1822), 427-431.
  • A review of Sir Walter Scott, Halidon Hill; a Dramatic Sketch from Scottish History, III (July 31, 1822), 382-386.

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  • A review of The Poetical Works of Barry Cornwall, III (September 30, 1822), 449-456.
  • A review of Harry Stoe Van Dyk, Theatrical Portraits, with Other Poems, the same, pp. 488-492.
  • "Bernard Barton's Poetry," III (October 31, 1822), 513-519.
  • A review of The Liberal. Verse and Prose from the South, the same, pp. 565-569.
  • "Works Attributed to a Lady of Fashion," a review of The Magic Lantern; or Sketches of Scenes in the Metropolis, Sketches and Fragments, and Journal of a Tour through the Netherlands to Paris, III (November 30, 1822), 577-581.
  • A review of Richard Dagley and the Rev. George Croly, Gems, principally from the Antique, . . . with Illustrations in Verse, the same, pp. 618-621.
  • A review of Lord Byron, Werner; a Tragedy, III (December 31, 1822), 662-668.
  • "The Living Poets. No. I. Lord Byron," IV (January 31, 1823), 3-10; concluded, IV (April 30, 1823), 198-203.
  • A review of Lord Byron, "Heaven and Earth, A Mystery," in The Liberal, No. II, and Thomas Moore, The Loves of the Angels, a Poem, IV (January 31, 1823), 19-23.
  • A review of German Popular Stories, Translated from the Kinder-und-Haus Marchen, collected by MM. Grimm, the same, pp. 28-31.
  • A review of The Entail, or the Lairds of Grippy, the same, pp. 44-46.
  • A review of W. F. Deacon, The Innkeeper's Album, IV (February 28, 1823), 84-85.
  • A review of Sir Walter Scott, Peveril of the Peak, the same, pp. 85-91.
  • "Biographical and Critical Sketch of the Late Mr. Kemble," IV (March 31, 1823), 170-177.
  • A review of Mary Russell Mitford, Julian, a Tragedy, the same, pp. 178-180.
  • A review of George Burges, The Son of Erin, or the Cause of the Greeks, IV (April 30, 1823), 221-223.
In addition to the articles on Byron in the Lady's Magazine, Talfourd also wrote a review of Sardanapalus, The Two Foscari, and Cain in the London Magazine (V [January, 1822], 66-71), which has not hitherto been credited to him.

During the years of their close friendship Talfourd often tried to help Miss Mitford by giving her kind notice in print. Indeed sometimes she seemed to think that praise could flow from no other pen, and she erroneously attributed flattering reviews to him. In a letter of June 22, 1823 (H), she thanks Talfourd for writing a biographical sketch which follows her engraved portrait in the June, 1823, edition of the magazine La Belle Assemblée (the portrait is on p. 238, and the sketch on pp. 239-240). As the ascription is not contradicted in later letters, it is probably correct.



See my article, "Mary Russell Mitford: the Inauguration of a Literary Career," Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, XL (September, 1957), 33-46, for an account of the correspondence and some of its concerns. Several of the works listed below are mentioned there. The location of each letter referred to in the text is given in a parenthesis following the reference. H designates the Harvard University Library and R the John Rylands Library.


Mary Russell Mitford, Dramatic Scenes, Sonnets, and Other Poems, London, 1827.


The Life of Mary Russell Mitford, Related in a Selection from Her Letters to Her Friends, ed. Rev. Arthur Guy L'Estrange (1870), I, 207, 211.


The Friendships of Mary Russell Mitford as Recorded in Letters from Her Literary Correspondents, ed. Rev. Arthur Guy L'Estrange (1882), p. 53.


Letters of Mary Russell Mitford. Second Series, ed. Henry Chorley (1872), I, 132-133.


See the bibliography of Talfourd's works in Newdick's unpublished Harvard University Thesis, "Studies in the Literary Works of Sir Thomas Noon Talfourd, D.C.L." (1926).


"An Early Champion of Wordsworth: Thomas Noon Talfourd," PMLA, LXVIII (1953), 999.