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From The Cornhill Magazine. erature, for mechanics and scientific disMISS EDGEWORTH.

coveries; that he was a gentleman widely EARLY Days.

connected, hospitably inclined, with a

large estate and many tenants to overFew authoresses in these days can have look, with correspondence and acquaintenjoyed the ovations and attentions which ances all over the world; and, besides all seem to have been considered the due of this, with various schemes in his brain, to distinguished ladies at the end of the last be eventually realized by others, of which century and the beginning of this one. velocipedes, tramways, and telegraphs To read the accounts of the receptions were but a few of the items. and compliments which fell to their lot One could imagine that under these may well fill later and lesser luminaries circumstances the hurry and excitement with envy. Crowds opened to admit of London life must have sometimes them, banquets spread themselves out seemed tranquillity itself compared with before them, lights were lighted up and the many and absorbing interests of such flowers

scattered at their feet. a family. What these interests were may Dukes, editors, prime ministers, awaited be gathered from the pages of a very intheir convenience on their staircases; teresting memoir from which the writer whole theatres rose up en masse to greet of this essay has been allowed to quote. the gisted creators of this and that immor. It is a book privately printed and written tal tragedy. The authoresses themselves, for the use of her children by the widow to do them justice, seem to have been very of Richard Lovell Edgeworth, and is a litile dazzled by all this excitement. record, among other things, of a faithful Hannah More contentedly retires with her and most touching friendship between maiden sisters to the Parnassus on the Maria and her father's wife

a friend. Mendip Hills, where they sew and chat ship lasting for over fifty years, and unand make tea and teach the village chil- broken by a single cloud of difference or dren. Dear Joanna Baillie, modest and mistrust.” Mrs. Edgeworth, who was beloved, lives on to peaceful age in her Miss Beaufort before her marriage, and pretty old house at Hampstead, looking about the same age as Miss Edgeworth, through treetops and sunshine and clouds unconsciously reveals her towards distant London, Out there, charming and unselfish nature as she tells where all the storms are," I heard the her stepdaughter's story. children saying yesterday as they watched When the writer looks back upon her the overhanging gloom of smoke which own childhood, it seems to her that she veils the city of metropolitan thunders lived in company with a delightful host and lightning. Maria Edgeworth's appa. of little playmates, bright, busy, clever ritions as a literary lioness in the rush of children, whose cheerful presence London and of Paris society were but in- mains more vividly in her mind than that terludes in ber existence, and her real of many of the real little boys and girls life was one of constant exertion and in- who used to appear and disappear disdustry spent far away in an Irish home connectedly as children do in childhood, among her own kindred and occupations when friendship and companionship de. and interests. We may realize what these pend almost entirely upon the convenience were when we read that Mr. Edgeworth of grown-up people. Now and again came had no less than four wives, who all left little cousins or friends to share our children, and that Maria was the eldest games, but day by day, constant and un. daughter of the whole family. Besides changing, ever to be relied upon, smiled this, we must also remember that the fa- our most lovable and friendly companions ther whom she idolized was himself a - Simple Susan, lame Jervas, Talbot, the man of extraordinary powers, brilliant in dear Little Merchants, Jem the widow's conversation (so I have been told), full of son with his arms round old Lightfoot's animation, of interest, of plans for his neck, the generous Ben, with his whipcord country, his family, for education and lit-I and his useful proverb of “Waste not,




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want not” – all of these were there in the It would be difficult to imagine anything window corner waiting our pleasure. better suited to the mind of a very young After “ Parents' Assistant,” to which fa- person than these pleasant stories, so miliar words we attached no meaning complete in themselves, so interesting, so whatever, came “ Popular Tales." in big varied. The description of Jervas's esbrown volumes off a shelf in the lumber- cape from the mine where the miners had room of an apartment in an old house in plotted his destruction, almost rises to Paris, and as we opened the boards, lo! poetry in its simple diction. Lame Jervas creation widened to our view. England, has warned his master of the miners'plot, Ireland, America, Turkey, the mines of and shown him the veio of ore which they Golconda, the streets of Bagdad, thieves, have concealed. The miners have sworn travellers, governesses, natural philos- vengeance against him, and his life is in ophy, and fashionable life, were all laid un- danger. His master helps him to get der contribution, and brought interest and away, and comes into the room before adventure to our humdrum nursery corner. daybreak, bidding him rise and put on the All Mr. Edgeworth’s varied teaching and clothes which he has brought. “I folexperience, all his daughter's genius of lowed him out of the house before any. observation, came to interest and delight body else was awake, and he took me our play-time, and that of a thousand across the fields towards the high road. other little children in different parts of At this place we waited till we heard the the world. People justly praise Miss tinkling of the bells of a team of horses. Edgeworth's admirable stories and nov. · Here comes the wagon,' said he, in els, but from prejudice and early associa- which we are to go. So fare you well, tion these beloved childish histories seem Jervas. I shall hear how you go on; and unequalled still, and it is chiefly as a I only hope you will serve your next maswriter for children that we venture to ter, whoever he may be, as faithfully as consider her here. Some of the stories you have served me.' 'I shall never find are indeed little idylls in their way. Wal- so good a master,' was all I could say for ter Scott, who best knew how to write for the soul of ine; I was quite overcome by the young so as to charm grandfathers as his goodness and sorrow at parting with well as Hugh Littlejohn, Esq., and all the him, as I then thought, forever.” The grandchildren, is said to have wiped his description of the journey is very pretty. kind eyes as he put down “Simple Susan." "The morning clouds began to clear A child's book, says a reviewer of those away; I could see my master at some days defining in the Quarterly Review, distance, and I kept looking after him as should be “not merely less dry, less diffi- the wagon went on slowly, and he walked cult, than a book for grown-up people; fast away over the fields.” Then the sun but more rich in interest, more true to begins to rise. The wagoner goes on nature, more exquisite in art, more abun. whistling, but lame Jervas, to whom the dant in every quality that replies to child-rising sun was a spectacle wholly surpris. hood's keener and fresher perception.” ing, starts up, exclaiming in wonder and Children like facts, they like short, vivid admiration. The wagoner bursts into a sentences that tell the story: as they loud laugh. “Lud a marcy,” says he, “to listen intently, so they read; every word bear un' and look at un' a body would las its value for them. It has been a real think the oaf had never seen the sun rise surprise to the writer to find, on re-read- afore ;” upon which Jervas remembers ing some of these descriptions of scenery that he is still in Cornwall, and must not and adventure which she had not looked betray himself, and prudently hides beat since her childhood, that the details hind some parcels, only just in time, for which she had imagined spread over they meet a party of miners, and he hears much space, are contained in a few sen- bis enemies' voice hailing the wagoner. tences at the beginning of a page. These all the rest of the day be sits within, and sentences, however, show the true art of amuses himself by listening to the bells the writer.

of the team, which jingle continually.

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“On our second day's journey, however, and tends her mother to the distant tune I ventured out of my hiding-place. I of Philip's pipe coming across the fields. walked with the wagoner up and down the As we read the story again it seems as if hills, enjoying the fresh air, the singing we could almost hear the music sounding of the birds, and the delightful smell of above the children's voices, and the bleatthe honeysuckles and the dog.roses in the ing of the lamb, and scent the fragrance hedges. All the wild flowers and even of the primroses and the double violets, the weeds on the banks by the wayside so simply and delightfully is the whole were to me matters of wonder and admira- story constructed. Among all Miss Edgetion. At almost every step I paused to worth's characters few are more familiar observe something that was new to me, to the world than that of Susan's pretty and I could not help seeling surprised at pet lamb. the insensibility of my fellow-traveller, who plodded along, and seldom inter. rupted his whistling except to cry, 'Gee No sketch of Maria Edgeworth's life, Blackbird, aw woa,' or *How now, however slight, would be complete withSmiler.'

Then Jervas is lost in admira- out a few words about certain persons tion before a plant “whose stem was coming a generation before her (and beabout two feet high, and which had a longing still to the age of periwigs), who round, shining, purple, beautiful flower,” were her father's associates and her own and the wagoner, with a look of scorn earliest friends. Notwithstanding all that exclaims,“Help thee, lad, dost not thou has been said of Mr. Edgeworth's bewil. know 'tis a common thistle?" After this dering versatility of nature, he seems to he looks upon Jervas as very nearly an have been singularly faithful in his friendidiot. “In truth I believe I was a droll ships. He might take up new ties, but figure, for

my hat was stuck full of weeds he clung pertinaciously to those which and of all sorts of wild flowers, and both had once existed. His daughter inherited my coat and waistcoat pockets were that same steadiness of affection. The stuffed out with pebbles and funguses.” wisest man of our own day writing of Then comes Plymouth Harbor : Jervas these very people has said, “ There is, ventures to ask some questions about the perhaps, no safer test of a man's real vessels, to which the wagoner answers, character than that of his long-continued “They be nothing in life but the boats friendship with good and able men. Now and ships, man;" so he turned away and Mr. Edgeworth, the father of Maria went on chewing a straw, and seemed not Edgeworth the authoress, asserts, after a whit more moved to admiration than he mentioning the names of Keir, Day, had been at the sight of the thistle. “I Small, Boulton, Watt, Wedgewood, and conceived a high admiration of a man Darwin, that their mutual intimacy has who had seen so much that he could ad never been broken except by death. To mire nothing," says Jervas, with a touch these names those of Edgeworth himself of real humor.

and of the Galtons may be added. The Another most charming little idyll is correspondence in my possession shows that of “Simple Susan,” who was a reai the truth of the above assertion.” maiden living in the neighborhood of Mr. Edgeworth first came to Lichfield Edgeworthstown. The story seems to to make Mr. Darwin's acquaintance. His have been mislaid for a time in the stir- second visit was to his friend Mr. Day, ring events of the first Irish rebellion, the author of “Sandford and Merton,” and overlooked, like some little daisy by who had taken a house in the valley of a battle-field. Few among us will not Stow, and who invited him one Christmas have shared Mr. Edgeworth's partiality on a visit. “ About the year 1765," says for the charming little tale. The children Miss Seward, “came to Lichfield, from fling their garlands and gather their the neighborhood of Reading, the young scented violets. Susan bakes her cottage and gay philosopher, Mr. Edgeworth ; a loaves and gathers marigolds for broth, man of fortune, and recently married to a Miss Elers, of Oxfordshire. The fame of down his back. In contrast to him comes Mr. Darwin's varied talents allured Mr. E. his brilliant and dressy companion, Mr. to the city they graced.” And the lady goes Edgeworth, who talks so agreeably. I on to describe Mr. Edgeworth himself: can imagine little Sabrina, the adopted “Scarcely two-and-twenty, with an exte. foundling, of whom so many stories have rior yet more juvenile, having mathematic been told, following shyly at her guarscience, mechanic ingenuity, and a com- dian's side in her simple dress and childpetent portion of classical learning, with ish beauty, and André's young, handsome the possession of modern languages. face turned towards Miss Sneyd. So He danced, he fenced, he winged his ar- they pass on happy and contented in each rows with more than philosophic skill,” other's company, Honora in the midst, continues the lady, herself a person of no beautiful, stately, reserved: she too was little celebrity in her time and place. Mr. not destined to be old. Edgeworth, in his memoirs, pays a re- Miss Seward seems to have loved this spectful tribute to Miss Seward's charms, friend with a very sincere and admiring to her agreeable conversation, her beauty, affection, and to have bitterly mourned her thick tresses, her sprightliness and her early death. Her letters abound in address. Such moderate expressions fail, apostrophes to the lost Honora. But perhowever, to do justice to this lady's pow. haps the poor muse expected too much ers, to her enthusiasm, her poetry, her from friendship, too much from life. She partisanship. The portrait pretixed to her expected, as we all do at times, that her letters is that of a dignified person with friends should be not themselves but her, an oval face and dark eyes, the thick, that they should lead not their lives but brown tresses are twined with pearls, her her own. So much at least one may graceful figure is robed in the softest furs gather from the various phases of her and draperies of the period. In her very style and correspondence, and her comfirst letter she thus poetically describes plaints of Honora's estrangement and her surroundings: “ The autumnal glory subsequent coldness. Perhaps, also, Miss of this day puts to shame the summer's Seward's many vagaries and sentiments sullenness. I sit writing upon this dear may have frozen Honora's sympathies. green terrace, feeding at intervals my little Miss Seward was all asterisks and notes golden-breasted songsters. The embo- of exclamation. Honora seems to have somed vale of Stow glows sunny through forced feeling down to its most scrupu. the Claude-Lorraine tint which is spread lous expression. She never lived to be over the scene like the blue mist over a softened by experience: with great love plum.”

she also inspired awe and a sort of sur. In this Claude-Lorraine-plum-tinted val. prise. One can imagine ber pointing the ley stood the house which Mr. Day had moral of the purple jar, as it was told long taken, and where Mr. Edgeworth had afterwards by her stepdaughter, then a come on an eventful visit. Miss Seward little girl playing at her own mother's herself lived with her parents in the knee in her nursery by the river. bishop's palace at Lichfield. There was People in the days of shilling postage also a younger sister, “Miss Sally," who were better correspondents than they are died as a girl, and another very beautiful now when we have to be content with young lady their friend, by name Honora pennyworths. Their descriptions and Sneyd, placed under Mrs. Seward's care. many details bring all the chief charac. She was the heroine of Major André's ters vividly before us, and carry us into unhappy romance. He too lived at Lich- the hearts and pocketbooks of the little field with his mother, and his hopeless society at Lichfield as it then was. The love gives a tragic reality to this by-gone town must have been an agreeable sojourn holiday of youth and merry-making. As in those days for people of some pretenone reads the old letters and memoirs the sion and small performance; a pleasant, echoes of its laughter reach us. One can lively company living round about the almost see the young folks all coming to old cathedral towers, meeting in the Close gether out of the Cathedral Close, where or the adjacent gardens or the hospitable so much of it was passed; the beautiful palace itself. Here the company would Honora, surrounded by friends and ador-sip tea, talk mild literature, quoting Dr. ers, chaperoned by the graceful muse her Johnson to one another with the familiarsenior, also much admired, and much ity of townsfolk. From Erasmus Darmade of. Thomas Day is striding after win, too, they must have gained something them in silence with keen, critical glances; of vigor and originality. The inhabitants his long, black locks flow unpowdered of Lichfield seem actually to have read


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each other's verses, and having done so There were constant rubs, which are to have taken the trouble to sit down and not to be wondered at, between Miss Sewwrite out their raptures.

ard and Dr. Darwin, who though a poet With all her absurdities Miss Seward was also a singularly witty, downrigḥt had some real critical power and appreci- man, outspoken and humorous. The lady ation; and some of her lines are very admires his genius, bilterly resents his pretty.* An “Ode to the Sun” is only sarcasms; of his celebrated work, “ The what might have been expected from this Botanic Garden,” she says, “ It is a string Lichfield Corinne. Her best-known pro- of poetic brilliants, and they are of the ductions are an "Elegy on Captain Cook,” first water, but the eye will be apt to want a “ Monody on Major André," whom she the intersticial black velvet to give effect had known from her early youth; and to their lustre.” In later days, notwiththere is a poem “ Louisa,” of which she standing her “elegant language,” as Mr. herself speaks very highly. But even Charles Darwin calls it, she said several more than her poetry did she pique her. spiteful things of her old friend, but they self upon her epistolary correspondence. seem more prompted by private pique It must have been well worth while writ. than malice. ing letters when they were not only prized If Miss Seward was the Minerva and by the writer and the recipients, but com. Dr. Darwin the Jupiter of the Lichfield mented on by their friends in after years. society, its philosopher was Thomas Day, “Court Dewes, Esq.," writes, after five of whom Miss Seward's description is so years, for copies of Miss Seward's epistles good that I cannot help one more quotato Miss Rogers and Miss Weston, of tion:which the latter begins: “Soothing and Powder and fine clothes were at that welcome to me, dear Sophia, is the regret time the appendages of gentlemen ; Mr. you express for our separation! Pleas- Day wore not either. He was tall and ant were the weeks we have recently stooped in the shoulders, full made but passed together in this ancient and em- not corpulent, and in his meditative and bowered mansion! I had strongly felt melancholy air a degree of awkwardness the silence and vacancy of the depriving and dignity were blended.” She then day on which you vanished. How prone compares him with his guest, Mr. Edgeare our hearts .perversely to quarrel with worth. “Less graceful, less amusing, less the friendly coercion of employment at brilliant than Mr. E., but more highly the very instant in which it is clearing the imaginative, more classical, and a deeper torpid and injurious mists of unavailing reasoner; strict integrity, energetic friendmelancholy.” Then follows a sprightly ship, open-banded generosity, and diffu. attack before which Johnson may have sive charity, greatly overbalanced on the quailed indeed. “Is the Fe-fa-fum of side of virtue, the tincture of misanthropic literature that snuffs afar the fame of his gloom and proud contempt of common. brother authors, and thirsts for its society:" Wright, of Derby, painted struction, to be allowed to gallop unmo. a full-length picture of Mr. Day in 1770. lested over the fields of criticism? A “Mr. Day looks upward enthusiastically, few pebbles from the well-springs of truth | meditating on the contents of a book held and eloquence are all that is wanted to in his dropped right hand . . . a flash of bring the might of his envy low.” This lightning plays in his hair and illuminates celebrated letter, which may stand as a the contents of the volume.” “ Dr. Dar. specimen of the whole six volumes, con- win,” adds Miss Seward, “sat to Mr. cludes with the following apostrophe : Wright about the same period – that was “Virtuous friendship, how pure, low sa a simply contemplative portrait of the cred are thy delights! Sophia, thy mind most perfect resemblance." is capable of tasting them in all their poignance: against how many of life's incidents may that capacity be considered MARIA must have been three years

old as a counterpoise ! ”

this eventful Christmas time when her In a notice of Aliss Seward in the Annual Register: to stay with Mr. Day at Lichtield, and

father, leaving bis wife in Berkshire, came just after her death in 1809, the writer, who seems to have known her, says, “Conscious of ability, she freely first made the acquaintance of Miss Sew'. displayed herself in a manner equally remote from an- ard and her poetic circle. Mr. Day, who Doyance and affectation. głowing iinagination joined to an excessive sensibility, had once already been disappointed in cherished instead of repressed by early habits. It is love, and whose romantic scheme of A1r. Scoil, the northern poet, with a view to their pub- adopting his foundlings, and of educating lication with her life and posthumous picces.''

one of them to be his wife, las often been


understood that she has left the whole of her works to

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