1855 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Anne Grant

Sarah Josepha Hale, Woman's Record; or, Sketches of all Distinguished Women (1852; 1855) 332.



ANNE GRANT, whose maiden name was Mac Vicar, was born at Glasgow, Scotland, in February, 1755. When a child, she came with her father, who was an officer in the British army, to America, and spent some time in the interior of New York. While residing near Albany, Miss Mac Vicar was introduced to the notice of Madame Schuyler, wife, or widow rather, of Colonel Philip Schuyler; and to this "American lady," the English maiden, afterwards Mrs. Grant, acknowledges she owed "whatever of culture her mind received." Respecting the effect which a residence in the then American colonies had, Mrs. Grant, many years afterwards, says: ''I was fond of it to enthusiasm, and spent the most delightful and fanciful period of my life in it, for mine was a very premature childhood. The place where I resided was the most desirable in the whole continent; titers my first perceptions of pleasure, and there my earliest habits of thinking, were formed; and from thence I drew that high relish for the sublime simplicity of nature which has ever accompanied me. This has been the means of preserving a certain humble dignity in all the difficulties I have had to struggle through."

She returned to Scotland in 1768, and in 1779 married the Rev. Mr. Grant, of Laggan, by whom she had several children. On the death of her husband, in 1891, being obliged to resort to her pen for subsistence, site wrote "The Highlanders, and other Poems," "Memoirs of on American Lady," "Letters from the Mountains," "Essays on the Superstitions of the Highlands of Scotland," &c. She died on the 7th of November, 1838, at Edinburgh, where she resided during the latter part of her life, and where she was the centre of a circle of accomplished and literary people. From 1825 till her death she enjoyed a royal pension of one hundred pounds yearly, which, with the emoluments derived from her writings, and some liberal bequests, rendered her quite independent.

Among the productions of Mrs. Grant, her "Memoirs of an American Lady" ranks the first in interest and power; but all she wrote was good. Sir Walter Scott has thus given testimony to her worth and genius:

"The character end talents of Mrs. Grant have long rendered her, not only a useful and estimable member of society, but one eminent for the services which she has rendered to the canoe of religion, morality, knowledge, and taste. Her literary works, although composed amidst misfortune and privation, are written at once with simplicity and force; and uniformly bear the stamp of a virtuous and courageous mind, recommending to the reader that patience and fortitude, which the writer herself practised in such an eminent degree. Her writings, deservedly popular in her own country, derive their success from the manner in which, addressing themselves to the national pride of the Scottish people, they breathe a spirit at once of patriotism, and of that candour which renders patriotism unselfish and liberal. We have no hesitation in attesting our belief that Mrs. Grant's writings have produced a strong and salutary effect upon her countrymen, who not only found recorded in them much of national history and antiquities, which would otherwise have been forgotten, but found them combined with the soundest and best lessons of virtue and morality."

We subjoin a poem of Mrs. Grant's ["On a Sprig of Heath"], which is characteristic of her turn of thought and her cherished feelings.