The Life and Letters of Maria Edgeworth, Vol. 2
by Maria Edgeworth
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By eleven o'clock all the boxes and papers, and pictures, were in their places, and we sent for the chimney-sweepers, not the old ones, who, as we rightly guessed, were the cause of the mischief. The chimney has been broken open, and a boy has been working incessantly tearing down an incrustation of soot—immense pieces of black tufo,—in fact, the chimney became a volcano—fire, water, and steam all operating together. The fire was found still burning inside at five this evening, but is all out now, the boy has been up at the top.

The zeal, the sense, the generosity, the courage of the people, is beyond anything I can describe, I can only feel it. But what astonished me was their steadiness and silence, no advising or pushing in each other's way—all working and obeying. Lovell had lines of boys from the ladder to the cow's pool handing the buckets passed up by the men on the ladder to the frightful top. Thank GOD not a creature was hurt.

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Honora Edgeworth adds:

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I need add nothing to what Maria has said about others, but I must say about herself, that nobody who has seen her in small alarms, such as the turning of a carriage, or such things, could believe the composure, presence of mind, and courage she showed in our great alarm to-day. I hope she has not suffered; as yet she does not appear the worse for her exertions.


EDGEWORTHSTOWN, Nov. 16. 1828.

Thank you, thank you for the roses; the yellow Scotch and Knight's dark red, and the ever-blowing, came quite fresh, and just at the moment I wanted them, when I had taken to my garden, after finishing my gutters. Lady Hartland told me that the common people call the rose des quatre saisons, the quarter session rose.

Have you read the Recollections of Hyacinth O'Gara? It is a little sixpenny book; I venture to say you would like it; I wish I was reading it to you. I am much pleased with Napier's History of the Peninsular War. The Spanish character and all that influenced it, accidentally and permanently, is admirably drawn. There is the evidence of truth in the work. Heber is charming, but I haven't read him! People often say "charming" of books they have not read; but I have read extracts in two reviews, and have the pleasure of the book on the table before me.

I have not a scrap of news for you, except that an ass and a calf walked over my flower-beds, and that I did not kill either of them. If the ass had not provoked me to this degree, I was in imminent danger of growing too fond of him, as I never could meet him drawing loads without stopping to pat him, till clouds of dust rose from his thick hide. But now, I will take no more notice of him—for a week!



Fanny Edgeworth is now Fanny Wilson; [Footnote: Frances Maria, eldest daughter of the fourth Mrs. Edgeworth, married Lestock P. Wilson, Esq., of London.] I can hardly believe it! She is gone! I feel it, and long must feel it, with anguish, selfish anguish. But she will be happy—of that I have the most firm, delightful conviction; and therefore all that I cannot help now feeling is, I know, only surface feeling, and will soon pass away. The more I have seen and known of Lestock, the more I like him and love him, and am convinced I shall always love him, whose every word and look bears the stamp and value of sincerity.

Both their voices pronounced the words of the marriage vow with perfect clearness and decision. Mr. Butler performed the ceremony with great feeling and simplicity. I will tell my dearest aunt and you all the little circumstances; at present they are all in confusion, great and small, near and distant, and I am sick at heart in the midst of it all with the shameful, weak, selfish, uppermost sorrow of parting with this darling child.


BLOOMFIELD, Jan. 19, 1829.

An immense concourse of people, cavalcade and carriages innumerable, passed by here to-day. We saw it, and you will see it all in the newspapers. Banners with Constitutional Agitation printed in black, Mobility and Nobility in black, crape hatbands, etc. Lord Anglesea's two little sons riding between two officers, in the midst of the hurricane mob, struck me most. One of the boys, a little midge, seemed to stick on the horse by accident, or by mere dint of fearlessness: the officer put his arm round him once, and set him up, the boy's head looking another way, and the horse keeping on his way, through such noise, and struggling, and waves multitudinous of mob.

There is an entertaining article in the Quarterly Review on The Subaltern. I do not like that on Madame de Genlis—coarse, and over-doing the object by prejudice and virulence. The review of Scott's Prefaces is ungrounded and confused—how different from his own writing! But there is an article worth all the rest put together, on Scientific Institutions, written in such a mild, really philosophical spirit, such a pure, GREAT MAN'S desire to do good; I cannot but wish and hope it might prove to be Captain Beaufort's. If you have not read it, never rest till you do.


EDGEWORTHSTOWN, March 12, 1829.

... If I could, as you say, flatter myself that Sir Walter Scott was in any degree influenced to write and publish his novels from seeing my sketches of Irish character, I should indeed triumph in the "thought of having been the proximate cause of such happiness to millions."

In what admirable taste Sir Walter Scott's introduction [Footnote: To the new edition of Waverley.] is written! No man ever contrived to speak so delightfully of himself, so as to gratify public curiosity, and yet to avoid all appearance of egotism,—to let the public into his mind, into all that is most interesting and most useful to posterity to know of his history, and yet to avoid all improper, all impertinent, all superfluous disclosures.

Children's questions are often simply sublime: the question your three-years-old asked was of these—"Who sanded the seashore?"



I cannot forbear writing specially to you, as I know you will feel so much about Captain Beaufort's appointment to the Hydrographership; I wish poor William had been permitted the pleasure of hearing of it. [Footnote: William Edgeworth had died of consumption on 7th May after a two months' illness.] It would have given him pleasure even on his dying bed, noble, generous creature as he was; he would have rejoiced for his friend, and have felt that merit is sometimes rewarded in this world. This appointment is, in every respect, all that Captain Beaufort wished for himself, and all that his friends can desire for him. As one of the first people in the Admiralty said, "Beaufort is the only man in England fit for the place."

Very touching letters have come to us from people whom we scarcely knew, whom William had attached so much; and many whom he had employed speak of him as the kindest of masters, and as a benefactor whose memory will be ever revered.


EDGEWORTHSTOWN, Sept. 27, 1829.

I am now able, with the consent of all my dear guardians, to write with my own hand to assure you that I am quite well.

I enjoyed the snatches I was able to have of Wordsworth's conversation, and I think I had quite as much as was good for me. He has a good philosophical bust, a long, thin, gaunt face, much wrinkled and weatherbeaten: of the Curwen style of figure and face, but with a more cheerful and benevolent expression.

While confined to my sofa and forbidden my pen, I have been reading a good deal: 1st, Cinq Mars, a French novel, with which I think you would be charmed, because I am; 2nd, The Collegians, in which there is much genius and strong drawing of human nature, but not elegant: terrible pictures of the passions, and horrible, breathless interest, especially in the third volume, which never flags till the last huddled twenty pages. My guardians turn their eyes reproachfully upon me. Mr. William Hamilton has been with us since the day before Wordsworth came, and we continue to like him.

May 3, 1830.

It is very happy for your little niece that you have so much the habit of expressing to her your kind feelings; I really think that if my thoughts and feelings were shut up completely within me, I should burst in a week, like a steam-engine without a snifting-clack, now called by the grander name of a safety-valve.

You want to know what I am doing and thinking of: of ditches, drains, and sewers; of dragging quicks from one hedge and sticking them down into another, at the imminent peril of their green lives; of two houses to let, one tenant promised from the Isle of Man, and another from the Irish Survey; of two bull-finches, each in his cage on the table—one who would sing if he could, and the other who could sing, I am told, if he would. Then I am thinking for three hours a day of Helen, to what purpose I dare not say. At night we read Dr. Madden's Travels to Constantinople and elsewhere, in which there are most curious facts: admirable letter about the plague; a new mode of treatment, curing seventy-five in a hundred; and a family living in a mummy vault, and selling mummies. You must read it.

My peony tree is the most beautiful thing on earth. Poor dear Lord Oriel gave it me. His own is dead, and he is dead; but love for him lives in me still.

Sir Stamford Raffles is one of the finest characters I ever read of, and did more than is almost credible. I have been amused with The Armenians, [Footnote: A novel by Macfarlane.]—amused with its pictures of Greek, Armenian, and Turkish life, and interested in its very romantic story.

July 19.

If there should not be any insuperable objection to it on your part, I will do myself the pleasure of being in your arms the first week in August, that I may be some time with you before I take my departure for England for the winter.

The people about us are now in great distress, having neither work nor food; and we are going to buy meal to distribute at half-price. Meal was twenty-three shillings a hundred, and potatoes sevenpence a stone, last market-day at Granard. Three weeks longer must the people be supported till new food comes from the earth.

* * * * *

This is the last letter Maria Edgeworth addressed to her aunt. She paid her intended visit to her in August, but had left her before her last illness began. Mrs. Ruxton died on the 1st of November, while Maria was in London with her sister Fanny—Mrs. Lestock Wilson. The loss of her aunt was the greatest Miss Edgeworth had sustained since the death of her father. She had ever been the object of exceeding love, one with whom every thought and feeling was shared, one of her greatest sources of happiness.

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Dec. 8, 1830.

All my friends have been kind in writing to me accounts of you, my dear Sophy. You and Margaret are quite right to spend the winter at Black Castle; and the pain you must endure in breaking through all the old associations and deep remembrances will, I trust, be repaid, both in the sense of doing right and in the affection of numbers attached to you.

I spent a fortnight with Sneyd very happily, in spite of mobs and incendiaries. Brandfold is a very pretty place, and to me a very pleasant house. The library, the principal room, has a trellis along the whole front, with 'spagnolette windows opening into it, and a pretty conservatory at the end, with another glass door opening into it. The views seen between the arches of the trellis beautiful; flower-knots in the grass, with stocks, hydrangeas, and crimson and pale China roses in profuse blow. Sneyd enjoys everything about him so much, it is quite delightful to see him in his home. You have heard from Honora of the sense and steadiness with which he resisted the mob at Goudhurst.

I spent a morning and an evening very pleasantly at Lansdowne House. They had begged me to come and drink tea with them in private, and to come early: I went at nine: I had been expected at eight. All Lady Lansdowne's own family, and as she politely said, "All my old friends at Bowood" now living: Miss Fox, Lord John Russell, Lord Auckland, the young Romillys, Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy, Mr. Wishaw, Mr. Turner,—whom I must do myself the justice to say I recollected immediately, who showed us the Bank seventeen years ago,—and Conversation Sharpe.

They say that Charles X. is quite at his ease, amusing himself, and not troubling himself about the fate of Polignac, or any of his ministers: there is great danger for them, but still I hope the French will not disgrace this revolution by spilling their blood. Lord Lansdowne mentioned an instance of the present King Louis Philippe's presence d'esprit: a mob in Paris surrounded him—"Que desirez-vous, messieurs?" "Nous desirons Napoleon." "Eh bien, allez donc le trouver." The mob laughed, cheered, and dispersed.

I have seen dear good Joanna Baillie several times, and the Carrs. It has been a great pleasure to me to feel myself so kindly received by those I liked best in London years ago. It is always gratifying to find old friends the same after long absence, but it has been particularly so to me now, when not only the leaves of the pleasures of life fall naturally in its winter, but when the great branches on whom happiness depended are gone.

Dr. Holland's children are very fine, happy-looking children, and he does seem so to enjoy them. His little boy, in reply to the commonplace, aggravating question of

"Who loves you? Nobody in this world loves you!"

"Yes, there is somebody: papa loves me, I know—I am sure!" and throwing himself on his back on his Aunt Mary's lap, he looked up at his father with such a sweet, confident smile. The father was standing between Sir Edward Alderson and Southey, the one sure he had him by the ear, and the other by the imagination; but the child had him by the heart. He smiled and nodded at his boy, and with an emphasis in which the whole soul spoke low, but strong, said, "Yes, I do love you." Neither the lawyer nor the poet heard him.

All my friends understand that I keep out of all fine company and great parties, and see only my friends.

Here the carriage came to the door, and we have been to see Mrs. Calcott, who was Mrs. Graham, who was very glad to see me, and entertaining; and Lady Elizabeth Whitbread as kind and affectionate as ever. She is struggling between her natural pride on her brother's ministerial appointment, and her natural affection which fears for his health.

Joanna Baillie tells me that Lord Dudley wrote to Sir Walter, offering to take upon himself the whole debt, and be paid by instalments. Sir Walter wrote a charming note of refusal.


I saw Talleyrand at Lansdowne House—like a corpse, with his hair dressed "ailes de pigeon" bien poudre. As Lord Lansdowne drolly said, "How much those ailes de pigeon have gone through unchanged! How many revolutions have they seen! how many changes of their master's mind!" Talleyrand has less countenance than any man of talents I ever saw. He seems to think not only that la parole etait donne a l'homme pour deguiser sa pensee, but that expression of countenance was given to him as a curse, to betray his emotions: therefore he has exerted all his abilities to conquer all expression, and to throw into his face that "no meaning" which puzzles more than wit; but I heard none. His niece, the Duchesse de Dino, was there: little, and ugly—plain, I should say—nobody is ugly now but myself.



Jan. 8, 1831.

Now I will tell you of my delightful young Christmas party at Mrs. Lockhart's. After dinner she arranged a round table in the corner of the room, on which stood a magnificent iced plum cake. There were to be twelve children: impossible to have room for chairs all round the table: it was settled that the king and queen alone should be invited to the honours of the sitting; but Mr. Lockhart, in a low voice, said, "Johnny! there must, my dear Sophia, you know, be a chair for Johnny here—all's right now."

Enter first, Miss Binning, a young lady of fifteen, Johnny's particular friend, who had been invited to make crowns for the king and queen—a very nice elegant-looking girl with a slight figure.

Then came from the top of the stairs peals of merry laughter, and in came the revel rout; the king and queen with their gilt paper admirable crowns on their heads, and little coronation robes; the queen was Mrs. Lockhart's youngest child, like a dear little fairy; and the king to match. All the others in various ways pleasing and prettily simply dressed in muslins of a variety of colours; plenty of ringlets of glossy hair, fair or brown, none black, with laughing blue eyes. And now they look at the tickets they have drawn for their twelfth-night characters, and read them out. After eating as much as well could be compassed, the revel rout ran upstairs again to the drawing-room, where open space and verge enough had been made for hunt the slipper; and down they all popped in the circle, of which you may see the likeness in the Pleasures of Memory. Then came dancing; and as the little and large dancers were all Scotch, I need not say how good it was. Mrs. Lockhart is really a delightful creature, the more lovable the closer one comes to her and in London. How very, very kind of her to invite me to this quite family party; if she had invented for ever, she could not have found what would please me more.


LONDON, January 20.

I write this "certificate of existence," and moreover, an affidavit of my being a-foot [Footnote: Miss Edgeworth had twisted her foot a few nights before in getting out of the carriage, and was unable to use it for some days.] again, and can go downstairs with one foot foremost like a child, and wore a black satin shoe like another last night at Mrs. Elliot's.

Now sign, seal, and deliver for the bare life—of Mrs. Hope and the Duchess of Wellington in my next.

January 22.

I left off at the Duchess of Wellington. I heard she was ill and determined to write and ask if she wished to see me; a hundred of the little London remoras delayed and stopped me and fortunately—I almost always find cause to rejoice instead of deploring when I have delayed to execute an intention, so that I must conclude that my fault is precipitation not procrastination. The very day I had my pen in my hand to write to her and was called away to write some other letter, much to my annoyance; much to my delight a few hours afterwards came a little pencil note, begging me to come to Apsley House if I wished to please an early friend who could never forget the kindness she had received at Edgeworthstown. I had not been able to put my foot to the ground, but I found it easy with motive to trample on impossibilities, and there is no going upstairs at Apsley House, for the Duke has had apartments on the ground floor, a whole suite, appropriated to the Duchess now that she is so ill, and I had only to go leaning on Fanny's arm, through a long passage to a magnificent room—not magnificent from its size, height, length, or breadth, but from its contents: the presents of Cities, Kingdoms, and Sovereigns. In the midst, on a high, narrow, mattressed sofa like Lucy's, all white and paler than ever Lucy was, paler than marble, lay as if laid out a corpse, the Duchess of Wellington. Always little and delicate-looking, she now looked a miniature figure of herself in wax-work. As I entered I heard her voice before I saw her, before I could distinguish her features among the borders of her cap; only saw the place where her head lay on the huge raised pillow; the head moved, the head only, and the sweet voice of Kitty Pakenham exclaimed, "O! Miss Edgeworth, you are the truest of the true—the kindest of the kind." And a little, delicate, death-like white hand stretched itself out to me before I could reach the couch, and when I got there I could not speak—not a syllable, but she, with most perfect composure, more than composure, cheerfulness of tone, went on speaking; as she spoke, all the Kitty Pakenham expression appeared in that little shrunk face, and the very faint colour rose, and the smile of former times. She raised herself more and more, and spoke with more and more animation in charming language and with all her peculiar grace and elegance of kindness recollected so much of past times and of my father particularly, whose affection she convinced me had touched her deeply.

Opposite her couch hung the gold shield in imitation of the shield of Achilles with all the Duke's victories embossed on the margin, the Duke and his staff in the centre, surrounded with blazing rays, given by the city of London. On either side the great candelabras belonging to the massive plateau given by Portugal, which cannot be lifted without machinery. At either end, in deep and tall glass cases, from top to bottom ranged the services of Dresden and German china, presented by the Emperor of Austria and the King of Prussia. While I looked at these, the Duchess raising herself quite up, exclaimed with weak-voiced, strong-souled enthusiasm, "All tributes to merit! there's the value, all pure, no corruption ever suspected even. Even of the Duke of Marlborough that could not be said so truly."

The fresh, untired enthusiasm she feels for his character, for her own still youthful imagination of her hero, after all she has gone through, is most touching. There she is, fading away, still feeding when she can feed on nothing else, on his glories, on the perfume of his incense. She had heard of my being in London from Lord Downes, who had seen me at the Countess de Salis's, where we met him and Lady Downes; when I met her again two days after we had been at Apsley House she said the Duchess was not so ill as I supposed, that her physicians do not allow that they despair. But notwithstanding what friends and physicians say, my own impression is, that she cannot be much longer for this world.



Feb. 10, 1831.

I am just come home from breakfasting with Sir James Macintosh. Fanny was with me, double, double pleasure, but we both feel as we suppose dramdrinkers do after their "mornings." My hand and my mind are both unsteadied and unfitted for business after this intoxicating draught. O what it is to "come within the radiance of genius," [Footnote: Quoted from a letter of her sister Anna after the death of Dr. Beddoes.] not only every object appears so radiant, but I feel myself so much increased in powers, in range of mind, a vue d'oiseau of all things raised above the dun dim fog of commonplace life. How can any one like to live with their inferiors and prefer it to the delight of being raised up by a superior to the bright regions of genius? The inward sense of having even this perception of excellence is a pleasure far beyond what flattery can give. Flattery is like a bad perfume, nauseous and overpowering after the first waft, and hurtful as well as nauseous. But as luncheon is coming and we must go directly to the Admiralty to see Captain Beaufort, and then to the Carrs'—no more rhodomontading to-day.



You must have seen in the papers the death of Mr. Hope, and I am sure it shocked you. But it was scarcely possible that it could strike you so much as it did me. I, who had seen him but a few days before, and who had been rallying him upon his being hypochondriac. I, who had been laughing at him along with Mrs. Hope, for being, I thought, merely in the cold fit after having been in the hot fit of enthusiasm while finishing his book. He knew too well, poor man, what we did not know. I believe that I never had time to describe to you the impression that visit to him made upon me. I had actually forced Mrs. Hope to go up and say he must see me; that such an old friend, and one who had such a regard for him, and for whom I knew he had a sincere regard, must be admitted to see him even in his bed-chamber. He sent me word that if I could bear to see a poor sick man in his night-cap, I might come up.

So I did, and followed Mrs. Hope through all the magnificent apartments, and then up to the attics, and through and through room after room till we came to his retreat, and then a feeble voice from an arm-chair—

"O! my dear Miss Edgeworth, my kind friend to the last."

And I saw a figure sunk in his chair like La Harpe, in figured silk robe de chambre and night-cap; death in his paled, sunk, shrunk face; a gleam of affectionate pleasure lighted it up for an instant, and straight it sunk again. He asked most kindly for my two sisters—"tell them I am glad they are happy."

The half-finished picture of his second son was in the corner, beside his arm-chair, as if to cheer his eyes.

"By an Irish artist," he politely said to me, "of great talent."

When I rallied him at parting on his low spirits, and said, "How much younger you are than I am!"

"No, no; not in mind, not in the powers of life. GOD bless you; good-bye."

I told him I would only say au revoir, and that never came; it was only the next day but one after this that Fanny read to me his death in the paper. It was dreadfully sudden to us; what must it have been to Mrs. Hope? I am sure she had no idea of its coming so soon. I forgot to say that as I got up to go away, I told him laughing, that he was only ill of a plethora of happiness, that he had everything this world could give, and only wanted a little adversity.

"Yes," said he, "I am happy, blessed with such a wife and such a son!"

He looked with most touching gratitude up to her, and she drew back without speaking.

Oh! I cannot tell you the impression the whole scene left on my mind.

March 14.

I hope your mother is better, and now inhaling spring life. Tell her, with my love, that I have exhibited her work [Footnote: A scarf embroidered with flowers, worked for Miss Edgeworth by Mrs. Beaufort, when she was ninety-two.] at various places to the admiration and almost incredulity of all beholders—such beautiful flowers at ninety-two!

At last we were fortunately at home when Lady Wellesley and Miss Caton called, and, thanks to my impudence in having written to him the moment he landed, and thanks to his good nature, Sir John Malcolm came at the same moment, and Lady Wellesley and he talked most agreeably over former times in India and later times in Ireland. Lady Wellesley is not nearly so tall or magnificent a person as I expected. Her face beautiful, her manner rather too diplomatically studied. People say "she has a remarkably good manner;" perfectly good manners are never "remarkable," felt, not seen. Sir John is as entertaining and delightful as his Persian sketches, and as instructive as his Central India.



March 16, 1831.

The days are hardly long enough to read all men's speeches in Parliament. I get the result into me from Fanny, and read only the notables. Mr. North's speech was, as you say, the best and plainest he ever made, and was so esteemed. Macaulay's reads better than it was spoken, quite marred in the delivery, and he does not look the orator; but no matter, in spite of his outside, his inside will get him on: he has far more power in him than Mr. North.

Get the eleventh volume of the new edition of Sir Walter's poems, containing a new Introduction and Essay on Ballads and ballad writing, all entertaining, and a model for egotists which very few will be able to follow, though many will strive and be laughed at for their pains.

March 29.

Old as I am and imaginative as I am thought to be, I have really always found that the pleasures I have expected would be great have actually been greater in the enjoyment than in the anticipation. This is written in my sixty-fourth year. The pleasure of being with Fanny [Footnote: Lestock Wilson.] has been far, far greater than I had expected. The pleasures here altogether, including the kindness of old friends and the civilities of acquaintances, are still more enhanced than I had calculated upon by the home and the quiet library, and easy-chair morning retreat I enjoy. Our long-expected visit to Herschel above all has far surpassed my expectations, raised as they were and warm from the fresh enthusiasm kindled by his last work.

Mrs. Herschel, who by the bye is very pretty, which does no harm, is such a delightful person, with so much simplicity and so much sense, so fit to sympathise with him in all things intellectual and moral, and making all her guests comfortable and happy without any apparent effort; she was extremely kind to Fanny, and Mr. Herschel to Lestock.

Thursday I went down to Slough alone in Fanny's carriage, as Lestock was not well, and she would not leave him. There was no company, and the evening was delightfully spent in hearing and talking. I had made various pencil notes in my copy of his book to ask for explanations, and so patient and kind and clear they were.

On Saturday I began to grow very anxious about six o'clock, and Mrs. Herschel good-naturedly sympathised with me, and we stood at the window that looks out on a distant turn of the London road, and at last I saw a carriage glass flash and then an outline of a well-known coachman's form, and then the green chaise, and all right.

There were at dinner the Provost of Eton in his wig, a large fine presence of a Provost—Dr. Goodall; Mrs. Hervey, very pretty, and gave me a gardenia like a Cape jessamine, white, sweet smelling—much talking of it and smelling and handing it about; Mrs. Gwatkin, one of Sir Joshua Reynold's nieces, has been very pretty, and though deaf is very agreeable—enthusiastically and affectionately fond of her uncle—indignant at the idea of his not having himself written the Discourses; "Burke or Johnson indeed! no such thing—he wrote them himself. I am evidence, he used to employ me as his secretary: often I have been in the room when he has been composing, walking up and down the room, stopping sometimes to write a sentence," etc.

On Sunday to Windsor Chapel; saw the King and the Queen, and little Prince George of Cambridge, seen each through the separate compartments of their bay window up aloft. The service lasted three hours, and then we went, by particular desire, to Eton College, to see the Provost and Mrs. Goodall, and the pictures of all the celebrated men. Some of these portraits taken when very young are interesting; some from being like, some from being quite unlike what one would expect from their after characters. We saw the books of themes and poems that had been judged worth preserving. Canning's and Lord Wellesley's much esteemed. Drawers full of prints; many rare books; the original unique copy of Reynard the Fox—the table of contents of which is so exceedingly diverting I would fain have copied it on the spot, but the Provost told me a copy could be had at every stall for one penny.

Got home to Herschel's while the sun yet shone, and I having the day before begged the favour of him to repeat for Fanny and Lestock the experiments and explanations on polarised light and periodical colours, he had everything ready, and very kindly went over it all again, and afterwards said to Mrs. Herschel, "It is delightful to explain these things to Mrs. Wilson; she can understand anything with the least possible explanation."

It was a fine moonlight night, and he took us out to see Saturn and his rings, and the Moon and her volcanoes. Saturn, I thought, looked very much as he used to do; but the Moon did surprise and charm me—very different from anything I had seen or imagined of the moon. A large portion of a seemingly immense globe of something like rough ice, resplendent with light and all over protuberances like those on the outside of an oyster shell, supposing it immensely magnified in a Brobdingnag microscope, a lustrous-mica look all over the protuberances, and a distinctly marked mountain-in-a-map in the middle shaded delicately off.

I must remark to you that all the time we were seeing we were eighteen feet aloft, on a little stage about eight feet by three, with a slight iron rod rail on three sides, but quite open to fall in front, and Lestock repeatedly warned me not to forget and step forwards.

Monday, our visit, alas! was to come to an end. Mr. Herschel offered to take Lestock to town in his gig, which he accepted with pleasure, and Fanny and I went with Mrs. Herschel to see Sir Joshua's pictures at Mrs. Gwatkin's. There is one of Charles Fox done when he was eighteen: the face so faded that it looks like an unfinished sketch, not the least like any other picture I have ever seen of the jolly, moon-faced Charles Fox, but some resemblance to the boy of thirteen in the print I begged from Lord Buchan. The original "Girl with a muff" is here; the original also of "Simplicity," who has now flowers in her lap in consequence of the observation of a foolish woman who, looking at the picture as it was originally painted, with the child's hands interlaced, with the backs of the hands turned up, "How beautiful! How natural the dish of prawns the dear little thing has in her lap!"

Sir Joshua threw the flowers over the prawns.

There appeared in this collection many sad results of Sir Joshua's experiments on colours; a very fine copy of his from Rembrandt's picture of himself, all but the face so black as to be unintelligible. There was the first Sir Joshua ever drew of himself—and his last; this invaluable last is going—black cracks and masses of bladdery paint. He painted Mrs. Gwatkin seven times. "But don't be vain, my dear, I only use your head as I would that of any beggar—as a good practice."

Her husband is a true Roast Beef of Old England King and Constitution man, who most good-naturedly hunted out from his archives a letter of Hannah More's, which happened to be particularly interesting to me, on Garrick in the character of Hamlet; it was good, giving a decided view of what Garrick at least thought the unity of the character.

From metaphysics to physics, we finished with a noble slice of the roast beef of Old England, "fed, ma'am," said Mr. Gwatkin, "by his present Majesty, GOD bless him."

Arrived at No. 1 in good time, and dined yesterday at Lady Davy's. Rogers, Gally Knight, Lord Mahon, and Lord Ashburner, who was very agreeable. He has been eleven years roaming the world, and is not foreign-fangled. Mrs. Marcet, who came in the evening, was the happiness of it to me.



April 1831.

Such a day as yesterday! sun shining—neither too hot nor too cold. This was just the time of year, I think, that you saw Knowle, and I never did see a place and house which pleased me more; exceedingly entertained with the portraits, endless to particularise. Several of Grammont's beauties, not so good in colours as in black and white. Sir Walter's black and white portrait of James I. made the full length of his unkingly Majesty a hundred times more interesting to me than it could otherwise have been,—mean, odd, strange-looking mortal. And then the silver room, as it is called, how it was gilt to me by the genius of romance, all Heriot's masterpieces there, would have been but cups and boxes ranged on toilette table and India cabinet but for the master magician touch. But we had to leave Knowle as we had engaged the day before at Brandfold to go to Mr. Jones (on the Distribution of Wealth) at Brasted. Such crowds of ideas as he poured forth, uttering so rapidly as to keep one quite on the stretch not to miss any of the good things. Half of them, I am sure, I have forgotten, but note for futurity; specially a fair-haired heiress now living, shut up in an old place called the Moate, old as King John's time. Mr. Jones had invited Dr. and Mrs. Felton, and had a luncheon comme il y en a peu and wines of every degree: hock from Bremen, brought over by our mutual friend Mr. Jacob, and far too valuable for an ignoramus like me to swallow.

Chevening? You are afraid we shall not have time to see Chantrey's monument. "O! but you must see it," said Mr. Jones, and so he and Dr. Felton ordered gig and pony carriage to let our horses rest, and follow and meet us, and away we went. Mr. Jones driving me in his gig to a beautiful parky place where Dr. Felton flourishes for the summer, and saw his children, who had wished to see the mother of Frank and Rosamond. Then through Mr. Manning's beautiful place—never travelling a high road or a by-road all the way to Chevening churchyard. The white marble monument of Lady Frederica Stanhope is in the church; plain though she was in life, she is beautiful in death, something of exquisite tenderness in the expression of her countenance, maternal tenderness, and repose, matronly repose, and yet the freshness of youth in the rounded arm and delicate hand that lightly, affectionately presses the infant—she dies, if dying it can be called, so placid, so happy; the head half-turned sinks into the pillow, which, without touching, one can hardly believe to be marble. I am sure Harriet recollects Lady Frederica at Paris, just before she was married.

We left Chevening, and can never forget it, and drove through the wealds and the charts, called, as Mr. Jones tells me, from the charters, and see a chapel built by Porteus to civilise some of the wicked ones of the wealds or wilds, and Ireton's house, [Footnote: Groombridge Place.] where some say Cromwell lived, now belonging to Perkins the brewer. Then "see to the right that rich green field, where King Henry VIII. used to stop and wind his horn, that people might gather and drag himself and suite through the slough," and it was near eight before we got to town, and Lestock waiting dinner with the patience of Job. He, Lestock, not Job, is a delightful person to live with, never annoyed about hours or trifles of that kind.


April 30, 1831.

On Monday last I drove to Apsley House, without the slightest suspicion that the Duchess had been worse than when I had last seen her. When I saw the gate only just opened enough to let out the porter's head, and saw Smith parleying with him, nothing occurred to me but that the man doubted whether I was a person who ought to be admitted; so I put out my card, when Smith, returning, said, "Ma'am, the Duchess of Wellington died on Saturday morning!"

The good-natured porter, seeing that I was "really a friend," as he said, went into the house at my request, to ask if I could see her maid; and after a few minutes the gates opened softly, and I went into that melancholy house, into that great, silent hall: window-shutters closed: not a creature to be seen or heard.

At last a man-servant appeared, and as I moved towards the side of the house where I had formerly been—"Not that way, ma'am; walk in here, if you please."

Then came, in black, that maid, of whose attachment the Duchess had, the last time I saw her, spoken so highly and truly, as I now saw by the first look and words. "Too true, ma'am—she is gone from us! her Grace died on Saturday."

"Was the Duke in town?"

"Yes, ma'am, BESIDE HER."

Not a word more, but I was glad to have that certain. Lord Charles had arrived in time; not Lord Douro. The Duchess had remained much as I last saw her on the sofa for a fortnight; then confined to her bed some days, but then seemed much better; had been up again, and out in that room and on that sofa, as when we heard her conversing so charmingly. They had no apprehension of her danger, nor had she herself till Friday, when she was seized with violent pain, and died on Saturday morning, "calm and resigned."

The poor maid could hardly speak. She went in and brought me a lock of her mistress's hair, silver gray, all but a few light brown, that just recalled the beautiful Kitty Pakenham!

So ended that sweet, innocent—shall we say happy, or unhappy life? Happy, I should think, through all; happy in her good feelings and good conscience, and warm affections, still LOVING on! Happy in her faith, her hope, and her charity!


LONDON, May 6, 1831.

One of our farewell visits yesterday was to Mrs. Lushington; and when we had talked our fill about our brother Pakenham, we went to politics, of which every head in London is fuller than it can hold. Lord Suffield described the scene in the House of Lords [Footnote: On the opening of Parliament, when the King was to propose the bringing in of the Reform Bill.] as more extraordinary than could have been imagined or believed. One lord held down by force, and one bawling at the top of his voice, even when the door opened, and the King appeared as his lordship pronounced the word "RUIN!"

Ruin did not seize the King, however, nor was he in the least affected by the uproar. He walked calmly on.

"I kept my eye upon him," Lord Suffield said; "I looked at his knees, they did not tremble in the least. I am sure I could not have walked so firmly; I do not believe another man present could have been so calm."

The King quietly took out his paper, felt for his spectacles, put them on composedly, and read with a firm voice. They say nothing was ever like the confusion and violence since the time of Charles I. and Cromwell.

The day before yesterday we did a prodigious deal. Mr. Drummond came at ten o'clock, by appointment, to take us to the Mint, to see the double printing press; and we saw everything, from the casting the types to the drying the sheet; and then to the India House. There was some little stop while Pakenham's card, with a pencil message to Dr. Wilkins, was sent up. While this was doing, a superb mock-majesty man, in scarlet cloak and cocked hat, bedizened with gold, motioned us away. "Coachman, drive on; no carriage can stand before the India House—that's the rule."

Dr. Wilkins came out of his comfortable den to receive us, laid down his book and spectacles, and showed us everything. The strangest thing we saw was a toy of Tippoo Sahib's, worthy of a despot—an English soldier, as large as life, in his uniform, hat, and everything, painted and varnished, lying at full length, and a furious tiger over him; a handle, invisible at a distance, in his ribs, which, when turned by the slave, produced sounds like the growling of the tiger and the groans of the man!

We had a very pleasant day at Epping. Mrs. Napier went with us; I inside with her, Fanny on the barouche-seat with Pakenham, and Lestock behind with Sneyd. The place is so much improved! I saw Fanny's horse Baronet: very pretty.

2 o'clock, Luncheon.

Pakenham is eating his last bit of gooseberry pie: enter Sneyd: boxes—hammering—dreadful notes of preparation. Pakenham yesterday wore the trefoil pin with his aunt's hair, and the sleeve-buttons with his mother's and sister's hair; and I have added a locket to hang to his watch-chain, with a bit, very scarce, of my own hair. The wind is fair: we shall hear from him from Deal.



May 7, 1831.

I wrote to Harriet yesterday all about Pakenham to the moment he left this house with Sneyd to join Lestock in the City, and go on to Gravesend.

Half an hour after we had parted from Pakenham, and before we had recovered sense, came a great rap at the door. "Will you see anybody, ma'am?" I was going to say, "No, nobody," but I bid Smith ask the name, when behind him, as I spoke, enter Mrs. Lushington. "I have forced my way up—forgive me, it is for Pakenham; I hope I am not too late; I've brought him good letters from Mrs. Charles Lushington."

Comprehending instantly the value of the letters, and our carriage being most luckily at the door, into it Fanny and I got, and drove as hard as we could down to the dock, to the very place where they were to take the Gravesend boat. You may imagine the anxiety we were in to be in time, boat waiting for no one; and then the stoppages of odious carts and hackney coaches in the City: I do not believe we spoke three words to each other all that long way. At last, when within a few minutes of the end of our time, we were encompassed with carts, drays, and omnibuses, in an impenetrable line seemingly before us. Fanny sent Smith on foot with the letters and a pencil note. We got on wonderfully, our coachman being really an angel. We reached the wharf. "Is the Gravesend boat gone?" "No, ma'am, not this half-hour; half after four, instead of four, to-day."

We took breath, but were still anxious, watching each with head out on our own side; for Smith had not appeared, and Lestock, Sneyd, and Pakenham had not arrived: great fear of missing them and the letters in the hurly-burly of packages, and packers, and passengers, and sailors, and orderers, and hackney coaches, and coachmen, and boatmen, men, women, and children swarming and bawling.

But at last Smith and Lestock appeared together, and the letters got into Pakenham's hand: he and Sneyd had gone into the boat, so we saw no more of them; but Lestock sent us off on a new hurry-skurry for pistols, ordered but not brought. To the Minerva counting-house we drove, to send the pistols by some boatswain there: got to counting-house: "Boatswain gone?" "No, ma'am, not yet," said the dear, smiling clerk. So all was right, and Pakenham had his pistols.


June 6, 1831.

My last days in London crowned the whole in all that was entertaining, curious, gratifying, and delightful to head and heart. I am writing while Isabella Carr is reading out Destiny, and very well she reads the Scotch; so you may think I cannot enter into details of the past at present, but I must just note—

Lady Elizabeth Whitbread and four Lady Harleys.

Opera with Lady Guilford and two daughters: Medea, Pasta: thrilling shiver, gliding sideways to her children, and sudden retreat.

French play: Leontine Fay in Une Faute—the most admirable actress I ever saw, and in the most touching piece. Three young men—Mr. Whitbread, Major Keppel, and Lord Mahon—separately told me the impression made on them by this actress was such that they could not sleep afterwards! I had no trial how this would be with me, because we went off from the playhouse to Sir James South's, to see the occultation of Jupiter's satellites: that was indeed a sublime reality, and no wonder we were broad awake till three o'clock.

Next morning St. Paul's: moral sublime. I sat next Rammohun Roy, and heard all he said. One curious inquiry he made; "Why are the boys set above the girls?" Sermon by the Bishop of Nova Scotia: Judge Haliburton sat between Fanny and me. Luncheon at the Bishop of Llandaff's: forty people. Came home: packed up. Mr. Creed at dinner, and this last day delightful.


EDGEWORTHSTOWN, August 14, 1831.

My last visit to universal London confirms to my own feelings your eulogium. I never was so happy there in my life, because I had besides all the external pleasures, the solid satisfaction of a home there, and domestic pleasures, without which I should soon grow a-weary of the world, and wish the business of the town were done. I should be very sorry if I were told this minute that I was never to see London again, and yet I am wondrous contented and happy at home. I hope you will come and see some time whether I am only making believe or telling true.

You say I must never say a discouraging word to you, because you are so easily discouraged: for shame! What is that but saying, "Flatter me"? Now flattery can never do good; twice cursed in the giving and the receiving, it ought to be. Instead of flattering I will give you this wholesome caution: in your new volumes do not weaken the effect by giving too much of a good thing; do not be lengthy; cut well before you go to press, and then the rest will live all the better. With your facility, this cannot cost you much.


ROSTREVOR, [Footnote: Where the Miss Ruxtons were now living.]

Oct. 2, 1831.

Lestock was gratified by my joining him at Armagh. Mr. Allott was most hospitable. We walked to the cathedral, and saw views of great extent and beauty, and heard learned disquisitions about architecture, and a curious anecdote in support of a favourite theory of his, that small stones grouted together, with lime and water put in hot, defies old Time. Great alarm was excited some time ago at Winchester Cathedral: the principal pillars seemed to be giving way, out of the perpendicular, and bulged. They fell to work shoring and propping; but, in spite of all, the pillars still seemed to be giving way more and more, and they feared the whole would come down. Rennie was sent for, but Rennie was ill, and died. At last an architect looked at the pillars, picked at them, took off a facing of stone, and found, what he had suspected, that it was only this facing that had given way and bulged, and that the inside was a solid pillar of masonry,—small stones grouted together so firmly that the cement was as hard as the stone.

Dr. and Mrs. Robinson came in the evening: his conversation is admirable; such an affluence of ideas, so full of genius and master thoughts. He gave me an excellent disquisition on the effect which transcendental mathematics produces on the mind, and traced up the history of mathematics from Euclid, appealing to diagrams and resting on images, to that higher sort where they are put out of the question, where we reason by symbols as in algebra, and work on in the dark till they get to the light, or till the light comes out of the dark—sure that it will come out. He went over Newton, and on through the history of modern times—Brinkley, Lagrange, Hamilton—just giving to me, ignorant, a notion of what each had done.

Mrs. O'Beirne—dear, kind soul!—would accompany me on the jaunting-car all the way from Newry to Rostrevor, and I am very glad she did; and as the day was fine and the tide in, I thought it would be pleasant on that beautiful road; and so it would have been, but for the droves of cows—Oh, those weary cows with the longest horns!—and if ever I laughed at you for being afraid of cows, you may have your revenge now. Every quarter of a mile, at least, came a tangled mass of these brutes, and their fright made them more terrible, for they knew no more what they were doing than I did myself; and there I was sitting at their mercy, and the horn of one or t'other continually within an inch of my eye, my mouth, or my breast, and no retreat; and they might any moment stick me on the top of one of these horns, and toss me with one jerk into the sea! Mrs. O'Beirne kept telling me she was used to it, and that nothing ever happened; but by the time I reached Rostrevor I was as poor a worn-out rag as ever you saw.


EDGEWORTHSTOWN, Dec. 22, 1831.

Francis was married on the 19th to Rosa Florentina Eroles; Sneyd, Fanny, and Lestock were present. The bride was dressed in a plain white muslin, with a mantilla lace veil of her own work on her head, without any hat, after the fashion of her own country, with a small wreath of silver flowers in her dark hair. Her sister was dressed English fashion, in a bonnet. Both Sneyd and Fanny say that nothing could appear more gentlemanlike, gentle, amiable, and happy than the bridegroom.


EDGEWORTHSTOWN, April 20, 1832.

Can you conceive yourself to be an old lamp at the point of extinction, and dreading the smell you would make at going out, and the execrations which in your dying flickerings you might hear? And then you can conceive the sudden starting up again of the flame, when fresh oil is poured into the lamp. And can you conceive what that poor lamp would feel returning to light and life? So felt I when I had read your letter on reading what I sent to you of Helen. You have given me new life and spirit to go on with her. I would have gone on from principle, and the desire to do what my father advised—to finish whatever I began; but now I feel all the difference between working for a dead or a live horse.

My auriculas are superb, and my peony tree has eighteen full-swelled buds: it will be in glory by the time Sophy and Mag arrive.



It is impossible to tell you how much I miss you. Never, except at my Aunt Ruxton's, did I ever pass my time away from home so entirely to my own enjoyment. Not a cloud obscured the cheerful sky.

We are reading Eugene Aram; and almost all I have heard I think affected as to language, and not natural as to character. I am sure the real story and trial are much more interesting.

Aug. 21.

Perhaps you think I am at Lady Hartland's at this moment, poor ignorants, as you are! You must know that I was so unwell on Friday, the morning of the day we were to have gone there, that my poor mother was obliged to send James in the rain (poor James!) to put off till Monday; so Lord and Lady Hartland were very sorry and very glad, and sent us divine peaches.

Sir James Calendar Campbell's Memoirs are ill-written—all higgledy-piggledy, facts and anecdotes, some without heads, and some without tails; great cry and little wool, still, some of the wool is good; and curious facts thrown out, of which he does not know the value, and other things he values that have no value in nature.


PAKENHAM HALL, Sept. 19, 1832.

We came here yesterday to meet Caroline Hamilton—dear Caroline Hamilton, and her sensible, agreeable husband. She is always the same, and the sight of her affectionate, open, lively countenance does one's heart good. Lord Longford quite well, and Lord Longford for ever: the children beautiful.


We have been walking and driving all morning, and seeing all that Lady Longford has done in beautifying the place and employing the people. I never saw, in England or Ireland, such beautiful gardens—the most beautiful American garden my eyes ever beheld. She took advantage of a group of superb old chestnut-trees, with oak and ash for a background, which had never been noticed in that terra incognita; now it is a fairy land, embowered round with evergreens.

To-morrow Hercules and Mrs. Pakenham come, with all their children—a party of thirteen!



I send you one dozen out of two dozen ranunculus roots, which good, kind, dying Lady Pakenham sent to me, with a note as fresh in feeling as youth could dictate.


EDGEWORTHSTOWN, Nov. 12, 1832.

The death of Sir Walter Scott has filled us all, as his private friends and admirers, with sorrow. I do not mean that we could have wished the prolongation of his life such as it had been for the last months; quite the contrary: but we feel poignant anguish from the thought that such a life as his was prematurely shortened—that such faculties, such a genius, such as is granted but once in an age, once in many ages, should have been extinguished of its light, of its power to enlighten and vivify the world, long before its natural term for setting! Whatever the errors may have been, oh, what have been the unremitted, generous, alas! overstrained exertions of that noble nature!


EDGEWORTHSTOWN, Nov. 15, 1832.

Thank you, I am quite well. My only complaint is that I never can do any day as much as I intended, and am always as much hurried by the dressing-bell as I am at this instant.

Lord Longford and Lord Silchester called here to-day on their way back from Longford and Castle Forbes; they sat till late; very agreeable. When I congratulated Lord Longford on having done so much at Pakenham Hall, and upon having still something to do, he answered, "Oh yes, I never was intended for a finished gentleman!"


EDGEWORTHSTOWN, Dec. 28, 1832.

I send Mr. Lockhart's letter on the subscription for Abbotsford; it does him honour. I combated, however, his feelings with all the feelings and reasons I have on the opposite side—that it is a national tribute, honourable, not degrading. I refused to give him Scott's letters for publication, and very painful it was to me to refuse him, at present, anything he asked; but principle and consistency, painful or not, required it, besides my own feelings. I could not bear to publish Sir Walter's praises of myself, and affectionate expressions and private sentiments. I did send one letter to Mr. Lockhart, exemplifying what I mean—the beautiful letter on his changing fortunes. As to the subscription, all depends on whether the quantity of good produced will balance the pain to the family. It would gratify me to give the L100 I set apart for the purpose, but then comes the question, with or without my name? If with, there is staring me in the face OSTENTATION. If without—set down as from an "Unknown Friend"—AFFECTATION.

Crampton said my name would be useful, and so I suppose I should do what would best serve the cause, and put out of the question all consideration of what may be thought of myself.

* * * * *

Miss Edge worth's novel of Helen, begun in 1830, was finished in the summer of 1833, and read for family criticism, before being sent to the press.

* * * * *



After breakfast yesterday I had a stroll with Mrs. Edgeworth through Maria's flower-garden. I wish you could see her peony tree: it is in the very perfection of bloom, as indeed everything is here. After luncheon dinner, the pony-carriage came round, but was refused by all: however, as I was putting in execution my long-formed project of getting a ladder and making the ladies go up into the sycamore-tree with me, we drove that far. I fixed the ladder: I went up, and Fanny, Harriet, and Honora, with a little hesitation, followed. They were all delighted with this airy parlour, lined with the softest, thickest moss; natural seats with backs, a delightful peep of the house, gay parterres and groves. It was amusing, Mrs. Edgeworth's and Maria's surprise when called to from above, as they passed in the carriage. Then we drove round Francis's new walk through the Horse Park fields: beautiful. Then the ladies flocked to their flower-beds, and I was accompanied by one or two in my rambles, speaking to old workmen, and bribing new to banish the sparrows. After tea much talking, and a little reading; Harriet read out a new story by Mr. Brittain, who wrote Hyacinth O'Gara, and whom I knew at college.

This morning was everything that was exquisite, and I have since breakfast had the gardener and heaps of workmen, and have been sawing beech-branches, to my great satisfaction and the approval of others; and in criticism I have found all agree with me, for Helen is begun, and at eleven we meet in the library; and Harriet has read aloud four chapters. It is altogether in Maria's best style; and I think the public will like it as hers, the return to an old friend.


I am sure you would like the cheerful fusion of this home party: each star is worthy of separate observation for its serenity, brilliancy, or magnitude; but it is as a constellation they claim most regard, linked together by strong attachment, and moving in harmony through their useful course. The herons sail about and multiply, the rookery is banished, the reign of tulips now almost o'er, and peonies of many bells are taking their place.

I am a stranger to any book but Helen, scarcely looking at the newspaper, which Mr. Butler devours. Harriet has gone in the pony-carriage for Molly, and she is to be driven by Francis's walk and Maria's garden.

June 1.

Aunt Mary's [Footnote: Mrs. Mary Sneyd.] interest in Helen is delightful. Never did the whole family appear to more advantage; the accordance of opinion, yet cheerfulness of discussion, is charming.

When the evening reading of Helen was finished, Harriet and I walked round the lawn; the owls shrieking and flitting by in pursuit of bats: clouds in endless varieties in the unsettled heavens. The library, as we looked in at it through the windows, with all its walls and pictures lighted up by the lamps, looked beautiful. I thought how my father would have been touched to look in as we did on his assembled family.



Valentine's Day, 1834.

The herons this day (according to their custom as Sophy tells me) sat all in a row in the horse park in solemn deliberation upon their own affairs: the opening of their budget I suppose. They have much upon their hands this session, and there must be a battle soon, on which the fate of the empire must depend; magpies and scarecrows abound, and such clouds of starlings darkened the air for many minutes opposite the library window, settling at last upon the three great beech trees, that Sophy and I would have given a crown imperial you had been by, dear Pakenham, to see them.

You ended your Journal and the announcement of your appointment to Amballa with exulting in the new kingdoms of flowers you would have to subdue, and with the hope that your mother would write to Lady Pakenham for her delightful letter to her son. You will have heard long before this reaches you, my dear, that Lady Pakenham is no more; she died last autumn. I wish that this news could have reached that kind heart of hers. Honora and I went the very day we received your journal to Coolure, to thank Admiral Pakenham; he met us on the steps in a tapestry nightcap. He has grown very old, and has had several strokes of palsy, but none have touched his heart. When Honora read to him the whole passage out of your journal and your own warm expressions of pleasure and gratitude, life and joy lighted in his dear old eyes. Honora only changed the words, "dear Lady Pakenham" into the "dear Pakenhams of Coolure." He asked, "Who wrote?" and looked very earnestly in my eyes. I was afraid to say Lady Pakenham, and I answered, "You know," and pressed his hand. He did know, passed his hand over his eyes and said, "Like her: she was a good woman."

February 19.

I yesterday found in my writing-desk a copy I had made of the letter Lord Carrington wrote to me in answer to mine announcing your former Futtehgur appointment; and now that it can go free I enclose it. I like an expression of Lord Mahon's about him in a note I lately received from him. "My grandfather is in excellent health, and I cannot offer you a better wish than that you may at eighty-one possess the same activity, the same quickness of intellect, the same gushing, warm-hearted benevolence which distinguishes him." Gushing benevolence: I like that expression.

Sophy despatched a letter for you last week, in which I am sure she told you all domestic occurrences. Barry has bought Annaghmore in the King's County: an excellent house; and Sophy and Barry and all the children are to stay with us till Sophy's health—very delicate—is strengthened, and till they have furnished what rooms they mean to inhabit at Annamore; this looks better than with the gh, but Sophy stickles for the old Irish spelling.

Molly and Hetty, and Crofton and child, are all flourishing; poor old George is declining as gently and comfortably as can be. When we go to see him, his eyes light up and his mouth crinkles into smiles, and he, as well as Molly, never fails to ask for Master Pakenham. Though Helen cannot reach you for a year, Fanny has desired Bentley to send you a copy before it is published. I should tell you beforehand that there is no humour in it, and no Irish character. It is impossible to draw Ireland as she now is in a book of fiction—realities are too strong, party passions too violent to bear to see, or care to look at their faces in the looking-glass. The people would only break the glass, and curse the fool who held the mirror up to nature—distorted nature, in a fever. We are in too perilous a case to laugh, humour would be out of season, worse than bad taste. Whenever the danger is past, as the man in the sonnet says,

We may look back on the hardest part and laugh.

Then I shall be ready to join in the laugh. Sir Walter Scott once said to me, "Do explain to the public why Pat, who gets forward so well in other countries, is so miserable in his own." A very difficult question: I fear above my power. But I shall think of it continually, and listen, and look, and read.

Thank you, my dear brother, for your excellent and to me particularly interesting last letter, in which you copied for me the good observations on the state of your part of India, and the collection of the revenue, rents, etc. Many of the observations on India apply to Ireland; similarity of certain general causes operating on human nature even in countries most different and with many other circumstances dissimilar, produce a remarkable resemblance in human character and conduct. I admire your generous indignation against oppression and wringing by "any indirection from the poor peasant his vile trash." Some of the disputes that you have to settle at Cucherry, and some of the viewings that you record of boundaries, etc., about which there are quarrels, put me in mind of what I am called upon to do here continually in a little way. I hope Honora and Sophy have given you satisfaction about the exact place of the new walks; as I cannot draw I can do nothing in that way, but I can tell you that I have been planting rhododendrons and arbutus in front of the euonymus tree. I hope you will have a good garden in your new residence, and that you will not be too hot in it. How you could find that your having more to do, made you more able to endure the horrid heat you describe, passes my comprehension. Heat always makes me so indolent, imbecile, and irritable. I remember all this in the only heat to call heat, that I was ever exposed to in Paris and Switzerland; I could not even speak, much less write. If I had been under your 107 degrees I should have melted away to the very bone, and never, never, never could have penned that dropping letter as you did to Honora, and with that puddle ink too. Well! we are very, very, very much obliged to you, dear Pakenham, for all the labour you go through for us, and we hope that under the shade of the Himalaya mountains you will be able to write, at your ease and without all manner of stodge in your ink.


This morning brought through Harriet, Margaret Craig's joy at your promotion, and—Honora says I must go out this delightful sunshine morning, and look at all the full-blown crocuses, violets, heath, and pyrus japonica. I have a standard pyrus now—vulgar things compared with your Indian Prides.

Oh! my dear Pakenham, I am sure you are shocked at the death of Sir John Malcolm! both he and Sir James Macintosh, the two whose genius you so admired, and whose conversation you so enjoyed just before you left England—both gone!

March 8.

Ever since I finished my last to you I have had my head so immersed in accounts that I have never been able till this moment to fulfil my intention of giving you my travels in Connemara.

I travelled with Sir Culling and Lady Smith (Isabella Carr). Sir Culling, of old family, large fortune and great philanthropy, extending to poor little Ireland and her bogs, and her Connemara, and her penultimate barony of Erris and her ultimate Giants' Causeway, and her beautiful lake of Killarney. And all these things he determined to see. Infant and nurse, and lady's-maid, and gentleman's gentleman, and Sir Culling and the fair Isabella all came over to Ireland last September, just as Fanny had left us, and she meeting them in Dublin, and conceiving that nurse and baby would not do for Connemara, wrote confidentially to beg us to invite them to stay at Edgeworthstown, while father and mother, and maid, and man, were to proceed on their travels. They spent a pleasant week, I hope, at Edgeworthstown. I am sure Honora did everything that was possible to make it pleasant to them, and we regretted a million of times that your mother was not at home. Sir Culling expected to have had all manner of information as to roads, distances, and time, but Mrs. Edgeworth not being at home, and Miss Edgeworth's local knowledge being such as you know, you may guess how he was disappointed. Mr. Shaw and the Dean of Ardagh, who dined with him here, gave him directions as far as Ballinasloe and a letter to the clergyman there. The fair of Ballinasloe was just beginning, and Sir Culling was determined to see that, and from thence, after studying the map of Ireland and roadbooks one evening, he thought he should get easily to Connemara, Westport, and the Barony of Erris, see all that in a week, and come back to Edgeworthstown, take up Bambino and proceed on a northern or a southern tour.

You will be surprised that I should—seeing they knew so little what they were about—have chosen to travel with them; and I confess it was imprudent and very unlike my usual dislike to leave home without any of my own people with me. But upon this occasion I fancied I should see all I wanted to see of the wonderful ways of going on and manners of the natives better for not being with any of my own family, and especially for its not being suspected that I was an authoress and might put them in a book. In short, I thought it was the best opportunity I could ever have of seeing a part of Ireland which, from time immemorial, I had been curious to see. My curiosity had been raised even when I first came to Ireland fifty years ago, by hearing my father talk of the King of Connemara, and his immense territory, and his ways of ruling over his people with almost absolute power, with laws of his own, and setting all other laws at defiance. Smugglers and caves, and murders and mermaids, and duels, and banshees, and fairies, were all mingled together in my early associations with Connemara and Dick Martin,—"Hair-trigger Dick," who cared so little for his own life or the life of man, and so much for the life of animals, who fought more duels than any man of even his "Blue-blaze-devil" day, and who brought the bill into Parliament for preventing cruelty to animals; thenceforward changing his cognomen from "Hair-trigger Dick" to "Humanity Martin." He was my father's contemporary, and he knew a number of anecdotes of him. Too besides, I once saw him, and remember that my blood crept slow and my breath was held when he first came into the room, a pale, little insignificant- looking mortal he was, but he still kept hold of my imagination, and his land of Connemara was always a land I longed to visit. Long afterwards, a book which I believe you read, Letters from the Irish Highlands, written by the family of Blakes of Renvyle, raised my curiosity still further, and wakened it for new reasons, in a new direction. Further and further and higher, Nimmo and William deepened my interest in that country, and, in short, and at length all these motives worked together. Add to them a book called Wild Sports of the West, of which Harriet read to me all the readable parts till I rolled with laughing. Add also that I had lately heard Mr. Rothwell give a most entertaining account of a tour he had taken in Erris, and to the house of a certain Major Bingham who must be the most diverting and extraordinary original upon earth—and shall I die without seeing him? thought I—now or never.

At the first suggestion I uttered that I should like to see him and Erris, and the wonders of Connemara, Lady Culling Smith and Sir Culling burst into delight at the thought of having me as their travelling companion, so it was all settled in a moment. Honora approved, Aunt Mary hoped it would all turn out to my satisfaction, and off we set with four horses mighty grand in their travelling carriage, which was a summer friend, open or half-open. A half head stuck up immovable with a window at each ear, an apron of wood, varnished to look like japanned leather hinged at bottom, and having at top where it shuts a sort of fairy-board window which lets down in desperately bad weather.

Our first day was all prosperous and sunshine, and what Captain Beaufort would call plain sailing. To Ballymahon the first stage. Do you remember Ballymahon, and the first sight of the gossamer in the hedges sparkling with dew, going there packed into the chaise with your four sisters and me to see the museum of a Mr. Smith, who had a Cellini cup and a Raphael plate, and miniatures of Madame de Maintenon, and wonders innumerable—but Sophy at this moment tells me that I am insisting upon your remembering things that happened before you were born, and that even Francis was only one year old at the time of this breakfast, and it was she herself who was so delighted with that first view of the gossamer in the glittering sunshine.

But I shall never get on to Athlone, much less to Connemara. Of Athlone I have nothing to say but what you may learn from the Gazetteer, except that, while we were waiting in the antiquated inn there, while horses were changing, I espied a print hanging smoked over the chimney-piece, which to my connoisseur eyes seemed marvellously good, and upon my own judgment I proposed for it to the landlady, and bought it for five shillings (frame excepted); and when I had it out of the frame, and turned it round, I found my taste and judgment gloriously justified. It was from a picture of Vandyke's—the death of Belisarius; and here it is now hanging up in the library, framed in satin wood, the admiration of all beholders, Barry Fox above all.

But to proceed. It was no easy matter to get out of Athlone, for at the entrance to the old-fashioned, narrowest of narrow bridges we found ourselves wedged and blocked by drays and sheep, reaching at least a mile; men cursing and swearing in Irish and English; sheep baaing, and so terrified, that the shepherds were in transports of fear brandishing their crooks at our postillions, and the postillions in turn brandishing their whips on the impassive backs of the sheep. The cocked gold-edged hat of an officer appeared on horseback in the midst, and there was silence from all but the baaing sheep. He bowed to us ladies, or to our carriage and four, and assured us that he would see us safe out, but that it would be a work of time. While this work of time was going on, one pushed his way from behind, between sheep and the wheel on my side of the carriage, and putting in his head called out to me, "Miss Edgeworth, if you are in it, my master's in town, and will be with you directly almost, with his best compliments. He learned from the landlady your name. He was in the inn that minute, receiving rents he is, if you will be kind enough to wait a minute, and not stir out of that."

Kind enough I was, for I could not help myself, if I had been ever so unkindly disposed towards my unknown friend. Up came, breathless, a well-known friend, Mr. Strickland. Introduced amidst the baaing of the sheep to my travelling companions, and, as well as I could make myself heard in the din, I made him understand where we were going next, and found, to my great satisfaction, that he would overtake us next day at Ballinasloe, if we could stay there next day; and we could and must, for it was Sunday. I cannot tell you—and if I could you would think I exaggerated—how many hours we were in getting through the next ten miles; the road being continually covered with sheep, thick as wool could pack, all coming from the sheep-fair of Ballinasloe, which, to Sir Culling's infinite mortification, we now found had taken place the previous day. I am sure we could not have had a better opportunity and more leisure to form a sublime and just notion of the thousands and tens of thousands which must have been on the field of sale. This retreat of the ten thousand never could have been effected without the generalship of these wonderfully skilled shepherds, who, in case of any disorder among their troops, know how dexterously to take the offender by the left leg or the right leg with their crooks, pulling them back without ever breaking a limb, and keeping them continually in their ranks on the weary, long march.

We did not reach Ballinasloe till it was almost dark. There goes a story, you know, that no woman must ever appear at Ballinasloe Fair; that she would be in imminent peril of her life from the mob. The daughters of Lord Clancarty, it was said, "had tried it once, and scarce were saved by fate." Be this as it may, we were suffered to drive very quietly through the town; and we went quite through it to the outskirts of scattered houses, and stopped at the door of the Vicarage. And well for us that we had a letter from the Dean of Ardagh to the Rev. Mr. Pounden, else we might have spent the night in the streets, or have paid guineas apiece for our beds, all five of us, for three nights. Mr. and Mrs. Pounden were the most hospitable of people, and they were put to a great trial—dinner just over, and that day had arrived unexpectedly one family of relations, and expectedly another, with children without end. And how they did stow them and us, to this hour I cannot conceive: they had, to be sure, one bed-chamber in a house next door, which, luckily, Lord and Lady Somebody had not arrived to occupy. Be it how it might, here we stayed till Monday; and on Sunday there was to be a charity sermon for the benefit of the schools, under the patronage of Lord and Lady Clancarty, and the sermon was preached by Archdeacon Pakenham; and after the sermon—an excellent sermon on the appropriate text of the good Samaritan—an immense crowd before the windows filled the fair green, and we went out to see. The crowd of good, very good-natured Irishmen, gentle and simple mixed, opened to let the ladies and English stranger in to see: and fine horses and fine leaping we saw, over a loose wall built up for the purpose in the middle of the fair green; and such shouting, and such laughing, and such hurraing for those that cleared and for those that missed. As for the rest of the cattle-fair, we lift on Monday morning before the thick of it came on.

I forgot to tell you that on Sunday arrived Mr. Strickland, and he with maps and road-books explained to Sir Culling where he should go, and how he was to accomplish his objects. It was settled that we were to go to Loughrea, and to see certain ruins by going a few miles out of our way; and this we accomplished, and actually did see, by an uncommonly fine sunset, the beautiful ruins of Clonmacnoise; and we slept this night at Loughrea, where we had been assured there was a capital inn, and may be it was, but the rats or the mice ran about my room so, and made such a noise in the holes of the floor, that I could not sleep, but was thankful they did not get on or into my bed.

Next day to Galway, and still it was fine weather, and bright for the open carriage, and we thought it would always be so. Galway, wet or dry, and it was dry when I saw it, is the dirtiest town I ever saw, and the most desolate and idle-looking. As I had heard much from Captain Beaufort and Louisa of the curious Spanish buildings in Galway, I was determined not to go through the town without seeing these; so, as soon as we got to the inn, I summoned landlord and landlady, and begged to know the names of the principal families in the town. I thought I might chance to light upon somebody who could help us. In an old history of Galway which Mr. Strickland picked up from a stall at Ballinasloe, I found prints of some of the old buildings and names of the old families; and the landlord having presented me with a list as long as an alderman's bill of fare of the names of the gentlemen and ladies of Galway, I pitched upon the name of a physician, a Dr. Veitch, of whom I had found a fine character in my book. He had been very good to the poor during a year of famine and fever. To him I wrote, and just as I had finished reading his panegyric to Lady Smith, in he walked; and he proved to be an old acquaintance. He was formerly a surgeon in the army, and was quartered at Longford at the time of the rebellion: remembered our all taking shelter there, how near my father was being killed by the mob, and how courageously he behaved. Dr. Veitch had received some kindness from him, and now he seemed anxious, thirty-five years afterwards, to return that kindness to me and my companions. He walked with us all over Galway, and showed us all that was worth seeing, from the new quay projecting, and the new green Connemara marble-cutters' workshop, to the old Spanish houses with projecting roofs and piazza walks beneath; and, wading through seas of yellow mud thick as stirabout, we went to see archways that had stood centuries, and above all to the old mayoralty house of that mayor of Galway who hung his own son; and we had the satisfaction of seeing the very window from which the father with his own hands hung his own son, and the black marble marrowbones and death's head, and inscription and date, 1493. I daresay you know the story; it formed the groundwork very lately of a tragedy. The son had—from jealousy as the tragedy has it, from avarice according to the vulgar version—killed a Spanish friend; and the father, a modern Brutus, condemns him, and then goes to comfort him. I really thought it worth while to wade through mud to see these awful old relics of other times and other manners. But, coming back again, at every turn it was rather disagreeable to have "fish" bawled into one's ears, and "fine flat fish" flapped in one's face. The fish-market was fresh supplied, and Galway is famous for John Dorees. "A John Doree, ma'am, for eighteen-pence—a shilling—sixpence!" A John Doree could not be had for guineas in London. Quin, the famous actor, wished he was all throat when he was eating a John Doree. But still it was not pleasant, at every turn and every crossing, to have ever so fine John Dorees flapped in one's face. Sir Culling bought one for sixpence, and it was put into the carriage; and we took leave of Dr. Veitch, and left Galway.

From Galway Sir Culling was obliged to take job horses, as he was warned that we were entering a country where post horses were not to be found, and were never even heard of. Dr. Veitch bid us not think of entering Connemara this night. "You will have to send after me soon, if you don't take care. You have no idea of the places you are going into, and that you may have to sleep in."

The next place we were to go to, and where Dr. Veitch advised us to sleep, was Outerard, a small town or village, where he told us was an inn, or an hotel, as even in these out-of-the-world regions it is now called. It was but fifteen miles, and this with four horses was not two hours' drive; and Sir Culling thought it would be sad waste of daylight to sleep at Outerard, for still he measured his expected rate of travelling by his Bath Road standard. Though we left Galway at three, we were not at Outerard till past seven, with our fine, fresh horses; and excellent horses they really were, and well harnessed too, with well-accoutred postillions in dark blue jackets and good hats and boots, all proper, and an ugly little dog running joyously along with the horses. Outerard, as well as we could see it, was a pretty mountain-scattered village, with a pond and trees, and a sort of terrace-road, with houses and gardens on one side, and a lower road with pond and houses on the other. There is a spa at Outerard to which bettermost sort of people come in the season; but this was not the season, and the place had that kind of desolate look, mixed with pretensions too, which a watering-place out of season always has.

When we came to the hotel, our hearts sank within us. Dusk as it was, there was light enough to guess, at first sight, that it would never do for sleeping—half covered with overgrown ivy, damp, forlorn, windows broken, shattered look all about it. With difficulty we got at the broken gate into the very small and dirty courtyard, where the four horses could hardly stand with the carriage. Out came such a master and such a maid! and such fumes of whiskey-punch and tobacco. Sir Culling got down from his barouche-seat, to look if the house was practicable; but soon returned, shaking his head, and telling us in French that it was quite impossible; and the master of the inn, with half threats, half laughter, assured us we should find no other place in Outerard. I inquired for the Priest's house. I was on the point of asking, "Has the Priest any family?" but recollected myself in time, and asked whether the Priest's house was large enough to hold us. "Not an atom of room to spare in it, ma'am." Then I inquired for the Chief of the Police, the Clergyman, or the Magistrate? "Not in it, neither, none; but the Chief of the Police's house is there on the top of the hill; but you will not get in."

We went there, however, and up the hill toiled, and to the door of a sort of spruce-looking lanthorn of a house, without tree or shrub near it. But still it might be good to sleep in; and, nothing daunted by the maid's prophecies and ominous voice, we determined to try our fate. Sir Culling got down and rubbed his hands; while, after his man's knocking at the door several times, no one came to open it, though through the large drawing-room window we saw figures gliding about. At last the door half opened by hands unseen, and Sir Culling, pushing it wholly open, went in; and we sat in the carriage, waiting as patiently as we could. The figures in black and white came to the window, and each had pocket-handkerchiefs in their hands or at their eyes. Sir Culling reappeared, ordered the horses to be turned about again; and when he had remounted his barouche-seat, which he did with all convenient speed, he informed us that a lady had died in this house a few days before, of cholera; that she had this day been buried; that under any other circumstances the master and mistress would have been happy to receive us, but now it was quite impossible, for our sake and their own. The damp, broken-windowed hole was preferable; so back we went. But as we went along the high road, down in the low road on the other side of the pond, through the duskiness we saw lights in several houses; and in front of one long house which looked whiter than the rest, we stopped at an opening in the road where was a path which led to the valley beneath, and Sir Culling, who proved in this our need an active knight, sallied down to adventure another trial; and in a few minutes after immerging into this mud castle, and emerging from it, he waved his arm over his head in sign of triumph, and made a sign to the postillions to turn down into the valley, which they did without overturning us; and to our satisfaction we found ourselves housed at Mrs. O'Flaherty's, who did not keep an inn, observe; her admitting us, observe, depended upon our clearly understanding that she did not so demean herself. But she in the season let her house as a boarding-house to the quality, who came to Outerard to drink the waters or to bathe. So, to oblige us poor travellers, without disgrace to the blood and high descent of the O'Flaherties, she took us in, as we were quality, and she turned her two sons out of their rooms and their beds for us; and most comfortably we were lodged. And we ate the John Doree we had brought with us, and I thought it not worth all the talking about it I had heard; and, for the first time in my days or nights, I this night tasted a toombler of anti-Parliament whiskey, alias poteen, and water; and of all the detestable tastes that ever went into my mouth, or smells that ever went under my nose, I think this was the worst—literally smoke and fire spirit. Isabella observed that she had often drank Innishowon and water with dear Agnes and Joanna Baillie. There's no disputing about tastes; therefore I did not dispute, only set down the tumbler, and sip took never more; for I could as soon have drank the chimney smoking. The doors, just opening with a latch, received us into our bed-rooms, with good turf fires on the hearth, coved ceilings, and presses, and all like bed-rooms in an English farm-house more than an Irish: wonderful comfortable for Outerard, after fear of the cholera and the dead woman especially.

Next day, sun shining and a good breakfast, our spirit of travelling adventure up within us, we determined that, before proceeding on our main adventure into Connemara, we would make a little episode to see a wonderful cave in the neighbourhood. Our curiosity to see it had been excited by the story of the lady and the white trout in Lover's Legends. It is called the Pigeon-hole; not the least like a pigeon-hole, but it is a subterraneous passage, where a stream flows which joins the waters of Lough Corrib and Lough Mask. Outerard is on the borders of Lough Corrib, and we devoted this day to boating across Lough Corrib, to see this famous cavern, which is on the opposite side of the lake, and also to see a certain ruined monastery. We passed over the lake, admiring its beauty and its many islands—little bits of islands, of which the boatmen tell there are three hundred and sixty-five; be the same more or less, one for every day in the year at least. We saw the ruins, which are very fine; but I have not time to say more about them. We crossed the churchyard and a field or two, and all was as flat, and bare, and stony as can be imagined; and as we were going and going farther from the shore of the lake, I wondered how and when we were to come to this cavern. The guide called me to stop, and I stopped; and well I did: I was on the brink of the Pigeon-hole—just like an unfenced entrance to a deep deep well. The guide went down before us, and was very welcome! Down and down and down steps almost perpendicular, and as much as my little legs could do to reach from one to the other; darker and darker, and there were forty of them I am sure, well counted—though certainly I never counted them, but was right glad when I felt my feet at the bottom, on terra firma again, even in darkness, and was told to look up, and that I had come down sixty feet and more. I looked up and saw glimmering light at the top, and as my eyes recovered, more and more light through the large fern leaves which hung over the opening at top, and the whole height above looked like the inside of a limekiln, magnified to gigantic dimensions, with lady-fern—it must be lady-fern, because of the fairies—and lichens, names unknown, hanging from its sides. The light of the sun now streaming in I saw plainly, and felt why the guide held me fast by the arm—I was on the brink of the very narrow dark stream of water, which flowed quite silently from one side of the cavern to the other! To that other side, my eye following the stream as it flowed, I now looked, and saw that the cavern opened under a high archway in the rock. How high that was, or how spacious, I had not yet light enough to discern. But now there appeared from the steps down which we had descended an old woman with a light in her hand. Our boy-guide hailed her by the name of Madgy Burke. She scrambled on a high jut of rock in the cavern; she had a bundle of straw under one arm, and a light flickering in the other hand, her grizzled locks streaming, her garments loose and tattered, all which became suddenly visible as she set fire to a great wisp of straw, and another and another she plucked from her bundle and lighted, and waved the light above and underneath. It was like a scene in a melodrama of Cavern and Witch—the best cavern scene I ever beheld. As she continued to throw down, from the height where she stood, the lighted bundles of straw, they fell on the surface of the dark stream below, and sailed down the current, under the arch of the cavern, lighting its roof at the vast opening, and looking like tiny fire-ships, one after another sailing on, and disappearing. We could not help watching each as it blazed, till it vanished. We looked till we were tired, then turned and clambered up the steps we had scrambled down, and found ourselves again in broad daylight, in upper air and on the flat field; and the illusion was over, and there stood, turned into a regular old Irish beggar-woman, the Witch of Outerard, and Madgy Burke stood confessed, and began to higgle with Sir Culling and to flatter the English quality for a sixpence more.

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