Mary Darwall

John Wall, "On Miss Whately" Gentleman's Magazine 32 (February 1762) 84.

Feb. 4, 1762.


The extract of my letter which you have published, see V. xxxi. p. 635. was written to a person without any intention of its own being seen by other eyes than his own. The account therein given of Miss Whately, was such as I had received, and, as I then thought, from good authority, but I find I was deceived, and that the character there drawn is highly injurious to her. She was born at Beoley in Worcestershire, where her father is a substantial farmer, and occupies his own estate. Her education is such as is usually given to the daughters of persons in that station, reading, writing, and needle-work, comprehending most of what is thought necessary. But her genius is not to be confined to such slender limits. She had a great love for literature, and applied herself with great assiduity to the reading the best authors. This necessarily engaged a very considerable portion of her time. She has lived with her father till very lately, when she removed to keep the house of a brother, who is an attorney of very fair character in the town of Walsall in Staffordshire. She has therefore never been in a servile condition, or employed in the low office of a menial servant. I am informed that she has been prevailed upon, (though with some difficulty) to suffer her works to become public: If so, I hope the subscription will meet with proper encouragement. The poems are very extraordinary, not unworthy of the best of our poets; and the modesty and disinterestedness of the author cannot but recommend her to the favour of the publick, as her works will most certainly to its admiration.