Neglected Genius!


Bequest of Donald and Mary Hyde, 2003 – MS Hyde 68

Though Crusca’s Bards, no more our journals fill,
Some stragglers skirmish round the columns still.

Robert Merry (1755-1798). Della Crusca and Anna Matilda: manuscript transcript [1788].

Founded by Merry in Florence, the Della Cruscan school flourished briefly at the end of the eighteenth century. This manuscript copy of sentimental poems written by Merry (“Della Crusca”) and the poet Hannah Cowley (“Anna Matilda”) – published as The Poetry of the World in 1788 – was once believed to have been done by Hester Lynch Piozzi, the friend of Dr. Johnson and herself a Della Cruscan poet. Merry’s “Ode to Mrs. Siddons” is illustrated with an original graphite portrait of the actress by an unidentified hand.