Maria Edgeworth, by Helen Zimmern

Chapter xii.

The Memoirs Published. — 1821 To 1825.

The Memoirs of Richard Lovell Edgeworth had been published during Miss Edgeworth’s stay on the Continent. After all the anxiety she had felt while preparing the work for the press, she was now able to write to her friends at home:—

You would scarcely believe, my dear friends, the calm of mind and the sort of satisfied resignation I feel as to my father’s life. I suppose the two years of doubt and extreme anxiety that I felt exhausted all my power of doubting. I know that I have done my very best, I know that I have done my duty, and I firmly believe that if my dear father could see the whole, he would be satisfied with what I have done.

Still she was sensitive to what those said who had known and loved him; and though Mrs. Ruxton had gone through the manuscript, it was a satisfaction to her to hear that on seeing the work in print she had not altered her views on it. She wrote:—

The irremediable words once past the press, I knew that the happiness of my life was at stake. Even if all the rest of the world had praised it and you had been dissatisfied, how miserable I should have been!

The world was not so lenient in its criticism. It failed to see what right the work had to exist; it acquiesced in what Miss Edgeworth had felt, that she of all persons was the least fitted to be the biographer of the man she so blindly adored.

The first volume is entirely Mr. Edgeworth’s own writing, the second is hers; she takes up the narrative on his final removal to Ireland. Although written in his heavy-footed, stilted style, that broke forth now and again into comic pomposity, of the two his is the more entertaining, for he tells many stories that do not concern himself alone. Thus, though he is by no means a graphic writer, we can gather from his pages some notion of the little provincial Mutual Admiration Society that was gathered together at Lichfield under the ægis of Dr. Darwin; of the nature of society in Ireland during his youth; of the state of mechanical science in England. But there is also much that is puerile, some few things that are in bad taste; and the book contains, besides, some really careless blunders with regard to events for which the data were within the reach of all. In Miss Edgeworth’s portion it is easily seen that she does not write freely. Even her style, usually more flexible and spontaneous, has caught a reflection from his, while the position in which she stood to the object of her work hindered her from exercising that keen, critical judgment which she possessed, and which would certainly have come to the fore had the subject of her work been a stranger to her. Only while writing about such events as do not immediately deal with her father is she herself. Probably the very anxiety she felt regarding the book was a dim, unformulated consciousness that she had not made it all she desired. The press spoke but coolly. The Quarterly Review published a somewhat savage article; indeed, with so much bitterness was it written, that though one is at all times inclined to deprecate the theory of personal enmity, so dear to the wounded vanity of authors, it does suggest the possibility of having been the outcome of malice. But more likely still is it that Mr. Edgeworth’s boastful egotism so irritated the writer that he wrote what certainly could not fail to be cruelly wounding to a family who regarded their hero as perfect in all respects. After every allowance has been made for this acrimonious tone (no rare feature in either of the quarterlies in the days of their bumptious youth), the attack certainly contained much that was warranted by circumstances. The writer had not impugned thoughtlessly or ignorantly. He put a sure finger on the contradictions and inaccuracies that occurred in Mr. Edgeworth’s narrative, and he gave chapter and verse for his objections. Such criticism, though severe, could not be called wholly unjust. The article, however, raised a perfect storm of indignation among the Edgeworths’ Friends. Some called it wicked, others only denounced it as silly. Miss Edgeworth, being in France, was out of the way of seeing the Quarterly, and after what she had heard, she simply and wisely resolved never to read it. Indeed, she took the whole matter more philosophically than her friends, and hastened to beg her dearest Aunt Ruxton never to lose another night’s sleep or another moment’s thought on the Quarterly Review. And certainly, whatever the reviewers might say, Miss Edgeworth had the satisfaction before the year was out of preparing a second edition, and in her seventy-seventh year a third was called for. For this third edition she re-wrote nearly the whole of her portion. With her habitual modesty she assumed that it was her part of the work that had been found long and heavy. Nothing is more touching, more lovable, than the modesty of this woman, so lauded, honored and praised by all her generation that she could not remain ignorant of her fame. But simplicity was the very foundation of her character, and the woman always went before the author.

On her return from France Miss Edgeworth resumed the quiet, dearly-loved routine of home-life. She was always glad to get home again, even now, and to be with the stepmother, sisters and brothers she loved so tenderly. Here is a pretty picture of the daily course of their existence:—

So you like to hear of all our little doings; so I will tell you that, about eight o’clock, Fanny being by that time up and dressed, and at her little table, Harriet comes and reads to me Madame de Sevigné‘s letters, of which I never tire; and I almost envy Fanny and Harriet the pleasure of reading them for the first time. After breakfast I take my little table into Lucy’s room and write there for an hour: she likes to have me in her room, though she only hears the scribble, scribble; she is generally reading at that hour or doing Margaret’s delight — algebra. I am doing the sequel to Frank. Walking, reading and talking fill the rest of the day. I do not read much; it tires my eyes, and I have not yet finished the Life of Wesley. I think it a most curious, entertaining and instructive book. A life of Pitt by the Bishop of Winchester is coming out; he wrote to Murray about it, who asked his friends, “Who is George Winton, who writes to me about publishing Pitt’s life?”

Soon after his return from enforced exile Lovell Edgeworth had established a school at Edgeworthstown, after a plan proposed by his father, in which boys of all classes and creeds should be educated together. It succeeded admirably, and was a source of interest and occupation not only to its founder, but to Miss Edgeworth, who always threw herself with ardor into everything that interested those about her.

The lives of women are rarely eventful, and Miss Edgeworth’s was perhaps less so than that of most. Her existence moved in the quiet circle of home, and like most women she was much and often occupied with what she happily calls “the necessary business of life, which must be done behind the scenes.” The monotony of her existence was only broken by visits to and from friends, and by receiving letters, events in those days of few newspapers, when letters were longer, more detailed than they are now, when they were sent round to a whole circle for perusal, when those who were abroad penned long descriptions of all they saw in what are now beaten tracks familiar to most persons as Piccadilly. The even course of life at Edgeworthstown certainly did not furnish much material for letters except to those interested in the well-being of the numerous members of the household; and Miss Edgeworth’s are mostly filled with domestic details of this nature. In August, 1821, she writes:—

What do you think is my employment out of doors, and what it has been this week past? My garden? No such elegant thing; but making a gutter! a sewer and a pathway in the street of Edgeworthstown; and I do declare I am as much interested about it as I ever was in writing anything in my life. We have never here yet found it necessary to have recourse to public contribution for the poor, but it is necessary to give some assistance to the laboring class; and I find that making the said gutter and pathway will employ twenty men for three weeks.

In the late autumn she yielded to the invitations of her many English friends to spend some time among them. She took with her her former travelling companions, for without some of her family Miss Edgeworth felt as if she had left too many pieces of herself behind, and could not enjoy anything thoroughly. Once more the sisters passed some interesting and agreeable months, visiting at the houses of various friends; and during the spring and winter months hiring a house of their own in London, where they entertained and were entertained. They lived in a whirl of town dissipation, knowing six different and totally independent sets: “scientific, literary, political, travelled, artist, and the fine fashionable of various shades.” Miss Edgeworth found the different styles of conversation very entertaining, and sent home bright pictures of the various things she saw and heard.

In the hurried life we have led for some weeks past, and among the great variety of illustrious and foolish people we have seen pass in rapid panoramas before us, some remain forever fixed in the memory and some few touch the heart.

At one house Mrs. Somerville was met and thus described:—

Mrs. Somerville — little, slightly made, fair hair, pink color; small, gray, round, intelligent, smiling eyes; very pleasing countenance; remarkably soft voice, strong but well-bred Scotch accent; timid, not disqualifying timid, but naturally modest, yet with a degree of self-possession through it which prevents her being in the least awkward, and gives her all the advantages of her understanding, at the same time that it adds a prepossessing charm to her manner and takes off all dread of her superior scientific learning.

Some days were happily spent visiting Mr. Ricardo, with whose fairness in argument Miss Edgeworth was struck. While her sisters danced, acted charades or played round games, Miss Edgeworth conversed with the elders of the company; but she was ever ready to turn from grave to gay, and often the first to improvise a masquerade or to arrange an impromptu charade. Wherever there was laughter and young people, there she was a favorite and sought-for companion. Her life during these months in England certainly did not lack outward variety, and she was happy for herself, and yet happier because she saw her sisters pleased and beloved. A few extracts from her London letters best reflect her life:—

Yesterday we went, the moment we had swallowed our breakfast, by appointment to Newgate. The private door opened at sight of our tickets, and the great doors and the little doors, and the thick doors and doors of all sorts, were unbolted and unlocked, and on we went through dreary but clean passages, till we came to a room where rows of empty benches fronted us, and a table, on which lay a large Bible. Several ladies and gentlemen entered and took their seats on benches at either side of the table, in silence.

Enter Mrs. Fry in a drab-colored silk cloak, and plain, borderless Quaker cap; a most benevolent countenance — Guido Madonna face — calm, benign. “I must make an inquiry: Is Maria Edgeworth here, and where?” I went forward: she bade us come and sit beside her. Her first smile as she looked upon me I can never forget. The prisoners came in, and in an orderly manner ranged themselves on the benches. All quite clean faces, hair, caps and hands. On a very low bench in front little children were seated and settled by their mothers. Almost all these women, about thirty, were under sentence of transportation; some few only were there for imprisonment. One who did not appear was under sentence of death — frequently women when sentenced to death became ill and unable to attend Mrs. Fry; the others came regularly and voluntarily.

She opened the Bible and read in the most sweetly solemn, sedate voice I ever heard, slowly and distinctly, without anything in the manner that could distract attention from the matter. Sometimes she paused to explain, which she did with great judgment, addressing the convicts: “We have felt; we are convinced.” They were very attentive, unexpectedly interested, I thought, in all she said, and touched by her manner. There was nothing put on in their countenances, not any appearance of hypocrisy. I studied their countenances carefully, but I could not see any which, without knowing to whom they belonged, I should have decided was bad; yet Mrs. Fry assured me that all of those women had been of the worst sort. She confirmed what we have read and heard, that it was by their love of their children that she first obtained influence over these abandoned women. When she first took notice of one or two of their fine children, the mothers said that if she could but save their children from the misery they had gone through in vice, they would do anything she bid them. And when they saw the change made in their children by her schooling, they begged to attend themselves. I could not have conceived that the love of their children could have remained so strong in hearts in which every other feeling of virtue had so long been dead. The Vicar of Wakefield’s sermon in prison is, it seems, founded on a deep and true knowledge of human nature; the spark of good is often smothered, never wholly extinguished. Mrs. Fry often says an extempore prayer, but this day she was quite silent, while she covered her face with her hands for some minutes; the women were perfectly silent with their eyes fixed upon her, and when she said, “You may go,” they went away slowly. The children sat quite still the whole time; when one leaned, her mother behind sat her upright. Mrs. Fry told us that the dividing the women into classes has been of the greatest advantage, and putting them under the care of monitors. There is some little pecuniary advantage attached to the office of monitor, which makes them emulous to obtain it. We went through the female wards with Mrs. Fry, and saw the women at various works, knitting, rug-making, etc. They have done a great deal of needlework very neatly, and some very ingenious. When I expressed my foolish wonder at this to Mrs. Fry’s sister, she replied, “We have to do, recollect, ma’am, not with fools, but with rogues.”

* * *

Far from being disappointed with the sight of what Mrs. Fry has effected, I was delighted. We emerged again from the thick, dark, silent walls of Newgate to the bustling city, and thence to the elegant part of the town; and before we had time to arrange our ideas, and while the mild Quaker face and voice, and wonderful resolution and successful exertion of this admirable woman, were fresh in our minds, morning visitors flowed in and common life again went on.

At Almack’s, that exclusive paradise of fashion to which they were admitted, Lord Londonderry came up and talked to Miss Edgeworth about Castle Rackrent and Ireland generally. He expressed himself as having been dying with impatience to be introduced to her. She naïvely says:—

It surprised me very much to perceive the rapidity with which a minister’s having talked to a person spread through the room. Everybody I met afterwards that night and the next day observed to me that they had seen Lord Londonderry talking to me a great while.

Mrs. Siddons was among the persons whose acquaintance they formed.

She gave us the history of her first acting of Lady Macbeth, and of her resolving, in the sleep scene, to lay down the candlestick, contrary to the precedent of Mrs. Pritchard and all the traditions, before she began to wash her hands and say, “Out, vile spot!” Sheridan knocked violently at her door during the five minutes she had desired to have entirely to herself to compose her spirits before the play began. He burst in and prophesied that she would ruin herself forever if she persevered in this resolution to lay down the candlestick! She persisted, however, in her resolution, succeeded, was applauded, and Sheridan begged her pardon. She described well the awe she felt, and the power of the excitement given to her by the sight of Burke, Fox, Sheridan and Sir Joshua Reynolds in the pit.

Morning, dinner, evening parties, succeeded one another. Miss Edgeworth had not even time to note them. In June (1822) the sisters at last returned home, Miss Edgeworth by no means loth to resume the thread of her domestic affairs. She set to work upon the Sequel to Harry and Lucy, which was one among the duty-tasks she deemed it right to do, because her father had wished it to be completed. “I could never be easy writing anything for my own amusement till I had done this, which I know my father wished to have finished.”

Portions of Ireland were suffering from famine that summer. The deplorable state of the south in especial aroused all Miss Edgeworth’s sympathies. But she feared that as one source of grievance was removed another would spring up.

The minds bent on mischief are unconquered. In fact it is almost the avowed object of the people to drive the remaining resident gentry from the country. I do not think the hatred is between Protestant and Catholic, but between landlord and tenant. I should say, between tenant and landlord. The landlords are the greatest sufferers. Observe, what I have said applies only to the south. The north is in good condition. The neighborhood of Scotland and imported grafted habits of industry have made that part of Ireland almost Scotch. Our tenantry pay comparatively well.

She proceeded to show, however, that they were all at least a year behind-hand with their rent, and that Lovell let them pay just when they liked, not insisting upon a rent-day.

In the spring of 1823 Miss Edgeworth and her sisters, Sophy and Harriet, paid some visits in Scotland. At Edinburgh they settled into lodgings near their friends, the Alisons; but the very first evening was spent with Scott, who desired that they should hear some Highland boat-songs at his house. Of this introduction to Scott, and the first evening spent with him, Miss Edgeworth penned a most vivid account.

The next day Scott insisted on showing them the sights of Edinburgh, about whose beauties he was enthusiastic.

His conversation all the time better than anything we could see, full of apropos anecdote, historic, serious or comic, just as occasion called for it, and all with a bonhommie and an ease that made us forget it was any trouble even to his lameness to mount flights of eternal stairs.

Indeed, Scott almost took forcible possession of the Misses Edgeworth, so anxious was he to show honor to the author whom he regarded as the most distinguished of contemporary novelists.

How Walter Scott can find time to write all he writes, I cannot conceive. He appears to have nothing to think of but to be amusing, and he never tires, though he is so entertaining. He far surpasses my expectations.

Their delight in each other’s society was mutual. Scott wrote to a friend at the time:—

I have very little news to send you. Miss Edgeworth is at present the great lioness of Edinburgh, and a very nice lioness. She is full of fun and spirit; a little slight figure, very active in her motions, very good-humored and full of enthusiasm.

Many of the “Northern Lights” were absent at the time of Miss Edgeworth’s visit, but she made the acquaintance of Jeffrey, renewed many old friendships and formed new ties. It was a feature of Miss Edgeworth, as it had been of her father, and it is one that speaks eloquently in favor of their characters, that they never lost a friend or dropped connection with those in whom they had once been interested. Friends once made were friends for life, and were sure of a warm welcome if they came to Ireland, or of a ready answer to any call they might make upon time or heart. Miss Edgeworth’s amiable character won for her a far larger circle of friends than her father ever possessed; she had none of those angles in her character which repelled so many from him. Wherever she went she expressed her gratified surprise at the cordiality which people showed towards her, and she met no less of it in Scotland than elsewhere.

After a few weeks spent at Edinburgh William Edgeworth joined his sisters in a tour through the Highlands. Loch Katrine had, of course, special interest to her because of its connection with Scott. She does not think it more beautiful than Killarney: “But where is the lake of our own or any other times that has such delightful power over the imagination by the recollection it raises?”

This Highland tour afforded her great pleasure. “The ‘felicity-hunters’ have found more felicity than such hunters usually meet with.” Unfortunately it ended badly. She caught cold, and was taken ill with a very severe attack of erysipelas that laid her up for ten days in a small Scotch inn. She had been ailing more or less for some months past, and this attack was probably only a climax. As soon as she could move, some friends took her into their house and nursed her tenderly, but she was weak for some time after. But almost before it was true, she tells her stepmother that she is off the invalid list. Scott was anxious to have her at Abbotsford, and promised to nurse her carefully. At the end of July she and her sisters yielded to his friendly entreaties, and spent a fortnight with him in his home. Lockhart speaks of the time of her visit as one of the happiest in Scott’s life. Until the Misses Edgeworth arrived the season had been wet. It was a great joy to Sir Walter that with her appearance summer appeared too. On his expressing this, Miss Sophy Edgeworth mentioned the Irish tune, “You’ve brought the summer with you,” and repeated the first line of the words Moore had adapted to it. “How pretty!” said Sir Walter; “Moore’s the man for songs. Campbell can write an ode and I can write a ballad, but Moore beats us all at a song.”

Miss Edgeworth was charmed with Scott and his home, with the excursions he took with them, with the drives she had with him in his little carriage, during which the flow of his anecdotes, wit and wisdom never ceased. His joyous manner and life of mind, his looks of fond pride in his children, the pleasantness of his easy manners, his keen sense of humor, enchanted her. She also liked Lady Scott, a liking that was returned. Miss Edgeworth considered her

A most kind-hearted, hospitable person, who had much more sense and more knowledge of character and discrimination than many of those who ridiculed her. I know I never can forget her kindness to me when I was ill at Abbotsford. Her last words at parting were: “God bless you! we shall never meet again.” At that time it was much more likely that I should have died, I thought, than she.

This was not Miss Edgeworth’s first visit to Edinburgh, and Lady Scott expressed her surprise that Sir Walter and she had not met earlier. “Why,” said Sir Walter, with one of his queer looks, “you forget, my dear, Miss Edgeworth was not a lion then, and my mane, you know, was not grown at all.”

Sir Walter was as sorry to part with his guests as Miss Edgeworth was to go, but she felt that the longer she lingered the more difficult it would be to depart.

After paying some more Scotch visits and a few Irish ones, the Misses Edgeworth returned home in September, and life once more became uneventful. Even to Mrs. Ruxton there was nothing to tell.

It is a long time since I have written to you, always waiting a day longer for somebody’s coming or going, or sailing or launching. You ask what I am doing. Nothing but reading and idling, and paving a gutter and yard to Honora’s pig-sty and school-house. What have I been reading? The Siege of Valencia, by Mrs. Hemans, which is an hour too long, but it contains some of the most beautiful poetry I have read for years.

Sickness, deaths, marriages and births were of frequent occurrence in that large family. Miss Edgeworth’s heart was capacious and could answer to all calls made upon it. Whether it was to rejoice with those that rejoiced, or to weep with those that wept, she always responded.

It is the condition, the doom of advancing, advanced age, to see friend after friend go, for so much it detaches one from life; yet it still more makes us value the friends we have left. And continually, at every fresh blow, I really wonder, and am thankful, most truly thankful, that I have so many, so much left.

A young sister who had ailed for years, and was obliged to lie flat on a couch, was a constant source of solicitude. What could be done to divert her, to comfort her, or alleviate her sufferings, was always in Miss Edgeworth’s mind. Lucy’s name often occurs in her letters, and whenever she is absent and there is anything especially amusing to relate, the letter is always addressed to her. In 1824 Miss Edgeworth lost her sister, Mrs. Beddoes. A few months before, Sophy was married to a Captain Fox. She was grieved to lose this sister and the marriage affected her deeply.

Though Miss Edgeworth was now past fifty, she showed neither bodily nor mental signs of advancing years. Indeed, mentally she was as fresh and as young as ever, and her letters reflect the same pleasure in life and all it offers that they evinced throughout. Only on New Year’s day, which was also her birthday, does she indulge in any reflections concerning the flight of time. Here is a letter written in 1825:—

A happy new year to you, my dearest aunt, to you to whom I now look, as much as I can to any one now living, for the rays of pleasure that I expect to gild my bright evening of life. As we advance in life, we become more curious, more fastidious in gilding and gilders. We find to our cost that all that glitters is not gold, and your every-day bungling carvers and gilders will not do. Our evening gilders must be more skillful than those who flashed and daubed away in the morning of life, and gilt with any tinsel the weathercock for the morning sun. You may perceive, my dear aunt, by my having got so finely to the weathercock and the rising sun, that I am out of the hands of my dear apothecaries, and playing away again with a superfluity of life. (N. B. — I am surprisingly prudent.) Honora’s cough has almost subsided, and Lucy can sit upright the greater part of the day. “God bless the mark!” as Molly Bristow would say, if she heard me; “don’t be bragging.”

Not many days later, when her stepmother and some friends, “poor souls and full-dress bodies,” had gone out to dinner, she penned another long letter to the same correspondent, a letter delightfully fresh in tone and full of her personality:—

In a few days I trust — you know I am a great truster — you will receive a packet franked by Lord Bathurst, containing only a little pocket-book —Friendship’s Offering for 1825, dizened out. I fear you will think it too fine for your taste, but there is in it, as you will find, the old Mental Thermometer, which was once a favorite of yours. You will wonder how it came there. Simply thus: Last autumn came by the coach a parcel containing just such a book as this for last year, and a letter from Mr. Lupton Relfe — a foreigner settled in London — and he prayed in most polite bookseller strain that I would look over my portfolio for some trifle for this book for 1825. I might have looked over “my portfolio” till doomsday, as I have not an unpublished scrap, except Taken for Granted. But I recollected the Mental Thermometer, and that it had never been out, except in the Irish Farmer’s Journal, not known in England. So I routed in the garret, under pyramids of old newspapers, with my mother’s prognostics that I never should find it, and loud prophecies that I should catch my death, which I did not; but dirty and dusty and cobwebby, I came forth, after two hours’ groveling, with my object in my hand; cut it out, added a few lines of new end to it, and packed it off to Lupton Relfe, telling him that it was an old thing written when I was sixteen. Weeks elapsed, and I heard no more, when there came a letter exuberant in gratitude, and sending a parcel containing six copies of the new memorandum-book, and a most beautiful twelfth edition of Scott’s poetical works, bound in the most elegant manner, and with most beautifully engraved frontispieces and vignettes, and a £5 note. I was quite ashamed — but I have done all I could for him by giving the Friendship’s Offering to all the fine people I could think of. The set of Scott’s works made a nice New Year’s gift for Harriet; she had seen this edition at Edinburgh and particularly wished for it. The £5 note I have sent to Harriet Beaufort to be laid out in books for Fanny Stewart. Little did I think the poor old Thermometer would give me so much pleasure. Here comes the carriage rolling round. I feel guilty. What will my mother say to me — so long a letter at this time of night? Yours affectionately, in all the haste of guilt, conscience-stricken; that is, found out.

No: all safe, all innocent — because not found out.

FINIS.

By the author of Moral Tales and Practical Education.

In 1825 Scott paid his long-promised visit to Edgeworthstown. He came in August, bringing with him his daughter, Lockhart and Mr. Crampton, a surgeon friend of the Edgeworths, “who equally gratified both the novelists by breaking the toils of his great practice to witness their meeting on his native soil.” Miss Edgeworth writes:—

I am glad that kind Crampton had the reward of this journey; though frequently hid from each other by clouds of dust in their open carriage, they had, as they told us, never ceased talking They like each other as much as two men of so much genius and so much benevolence should, and we rejoice to be the bond of union.

* * *

Sir Walter delights the heart of every creature who sees, hears and knows him. He is most benignant as well as most entertaining; the noblest and the gentlest of lions, and his face, especially the lower part of it, is excessively like a lion; he and Mr. Crampton and Mr. Jephson were delighted together. The school band after dinner by moonlight playing Scotch tunes, and the boys at leap-frog, delighted Sir Walter. Next day we went to the school for a very short time and saw a little of everything, and a most favorable impression was left. It being Saturday, religious instruction was going on when we went in. Catholics with their priests in one room; Protestants with Mr. Keating in the other. More delightful conversation I have seldom in my life heard than we have been blessed with these three days. What a touch of sorrow must mix with the pleasures of all who have had great losses. Lovell, my mother and I, at twelve o’clock at night, joined in exclaiming, “How delightful! O! that he had lived to see and hear this!”

Of the details of this visit, Lockhart, in his Life of Scott, has furnished an account. He draws attention to the curious coincidence that Goldsmith and Maria Edgeworth should both have derived their early love and knowledge of Irish character from the same district, Pallesmore being indeed the property of the Edgeworths.

After a week’s stay Sir Walter and his friends departed to visit Killarney; and Miss Edgeworth, her sister Harriet and brother William were easily persuaded to be of the party. The journey was a delightful one to all concerned; and though a few little mishaps occurred, such as the difficulties of finding post-horses to convey so large a party, everything was turned to enjoyment. Sir Walter and Miss Edgeworth shared this faculty of looking on the bright side of the necessary discomforts of a journey, and extracting amusement from every incident — a faculty for want of which so many travellers fail to enjoy themselves. They charmed all with whom they came in contact, down to the very boatman who rowed them on the lake of Killarney, and who, rowing Lord Macaulay twenty years afterwards, told him that the circumstance had made him amends for missing a hanging that day! On Sir Walter Scott’s birthday a large gathering of the clans Edgeworth and Scott took place at Dublin. “Sir Walter’s health was drunk with more feeling than gaiety,” and on that same evening he and Miss Edgeworth parted, never to meet again.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/e/edgeworth/maria/zimmern/chapter12.html

Last updated Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 20:37