1819 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Anne Grant

John Gibson Lockhart, "Mrs. G— of L—n" Peter's Letters to his Kinsfolk (1819) 1:307-10.



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I was never a lover of Blue-Stockings either at home or abroad; but of all that I have met with, I think the French are the most tolerable, and the Scotch the most tormenting. In France the genuine power and authority which the women exert, and have long exerted, in swaying the course of public opinion in regard to a vast variety of subjects, are sufficient, were there nothing more, to make one excuse a great deal of their petulance and presumption. And then there is a light graceful ease about the manner of their trespasses, which would carry off the indignation of a Diogenes himself. How is it possible to feel any serious displeasure against a pretty creature that comes tripping up to you with a fan in her hand, and seems quite indifferent whether you ask her to dance a quadrille with you, or sit down by your side, and discuss the merits of the last "roman"? The truth is, however, that the French ladies in general talk about things they do understand something about — or at least, which it is easy and natural to imagine, may be interesting to their feelings. But what say you to the Scottish Blue-Stockings, whose favourite topics are the Resumption of Cash-payments, the great question of Borough Reform, and the Corn-Bill? They are certainly the very "flour" of their sex. "Ohe! jam satis est" — I would not be badgered as Mr. J[effrey] is for a moiety of his reputation.

I was at another party of somewhat the same kind last night, where, however, I had the satisfaction of seeing several more characters of some note, and therefore, I repented not my going. Among others, I was introduced to Mrs. G— of L—n, the author of the Letters from the Mountains, and other well known works. Mr. G— is really a woman of great talents and acquirements, and might, without offence to any one, talk upon any subject she pleases. But I assure you, any person that hopes to meet with a Blue-Stocking, in the common sense of the term, in this lady, will feel sadly disappointed. She is as plain, modest, and unassuming, as she could have been had she never stepped from the village, whose name she has rendered so celebrated. Instead of entering on any long commonplace discussions, either about politics, or political economy, or any other of the hackneyed subjects of tea-table talk in Edinburgh, Mrs. G— had the good sense to perceive, that a stranger, such as I was, came not to hear disquisitions, but to gather useful information; and she therefore directed her conversation entirely to the subject which she herself best understands — which, in all probability, she understands better than almost any one else — and which was precisely one of the subjects, in regard to which I felt the greatest inclination to hear a sensible person speak — namely, the Highlands. She related, in a very simple, but very graphic manner, a variety of little anecdotes and traits of character, with my recollections of which I shall always have a pleasure in connecting my recollections of herself. The sound and rational enjoyment I derived from my conversation with this excellent person, would, indeed, atone for much more than all the Blue-Stocking sisterhood have ever been able to inflict upon my patience.

Ever your's,

P. M.