The Amelia Alderson Opie Archive
1812 Temper; or, Domestic Scenes
British Critic, 39 (1812): 526.


We were among the first to hail Mrs Opie's entrance upon the literary theatre, zealously cheered her progress towards celebrity, and with the animation of a friendly partiality extolled her merits and accomplishments. Notwithstanding these testimonies of our good will, and perhaps in proportion to their warmth, earnestness, and sincerity; we confess that we have been sadly disappointed. As prosperity is hard to bear, so is too much praise, and there is reason to fear that Mrs Opie has been spoiled. Amid the false splendour of a delusive flattery her judgment has been warped, her taste corrupted, her imagination misled. In short she seems to have over-written herself. These volumes certainly exhibit indubitable marks of mental ability, of good thinking, and of judicious observation, but all this is so deformed by a tissue of absurdities and improbabilities, that it requires no common exertion of patience and perseverance to linger through the whole. It is useless to expatiate upon these, for they occur perpetually, but how could Mrs Opie so far lose sight of consistency, as to represent in her first volume the mother of her heroine at one moment in the anguish of despair, and prepared for self-destruction, and in the very next, calmly sitting down to show her talents in drawing flowers and sketching likenesses. Two accomplishments by the way which do not often meet in the same individual. Or how again so extravagantly caricature the heroine herself, as to represent her in that foolish situation in the post-chaise, seeing her grandmother feasting through the window. Many such absurdities occur. We nevertheless must willingly acknowledge, that scattered through the narrative are many salutary maxims of discipline for the management of temper, many sensible and judicious observations on the human character, and a certain knowledge of life. We always liked this lady's poetty [sic] better than her prose, and her tales better than her novels. In our opinion, she has never printed any thing in greater excellence than one of her very first poetical productions, called the Virgin's First Love, which may be found in one of the volumes of the Gentleman's Magazine.


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