« ZurückWeiter »
REMARKS ON THE MEMOIR OF THE
LIFE OF MRS BRUNTON.
wish I have willingly complied. It has been for twenty years my happiness to
watch the workings of that noble mindIt is with much hesitation that we
my chief usefulness to aid its progress, now proceed to give a sketch of this however feebly. Nothing is more soothMemoir, which, it seems to us, in ing to me now, than to dwell on the rctruth, almost a profanation to touch. than to diffuse the benefit of her example.
membrance of her--nothing more dear, It is a composition which is only to
“ I know that I shall perform the task be read in secret, apart from the in- very inadequately. Were I better qualitercourse of the world, and is then to fied than I am for its discharge, the rela. be laid down in silence, unaccompa- tion which I bore to her 'makes it needful nied with any other expression than for me to repress feelings upon which any the breathings of devotion or the effu- other biographer would have dwelt with sion of tears. The subject is so ele- delight. But if I can make her memory vated, the execution so feeling and useful to one of her fellow.creatures, this yet so delicate, that we seem to our
is the only consideration which her sainted
spirit would prize. selves as if on holy ground when we advance over it, and almost hear the
“ Mary Balfour was the only daughter voice which calls to us to “ take our
of Colonel Thomas Balfeur of Elwick, a shoes from off our feet," lest we tread cadet of one of the most respectable famirudely on some hallowed sentiment, lies; in the county of Orkney. Her moor some pure and retiring affection. ther was Frances Ligonier, only daughter Our own words, therefore, shall be of Colonel Ligonier of the 13th Dra. but few, and we shall confine ourselves goons. chiefly to the selection of such pass in Orkney, Ist of November 1778. Her
- Mary was born in the Island of Burra sages from the Memoir and Correspondence, as, may give our readers a dis- carly education was not conducted on any tinct impression of the character of regular plan. Her father, himselt a man
of extraordinary talents and acquirements, that admirable woman, whose loss we
had little leisure for superintending it, and were called to deplore, at the very mo
was very often necessarily absent from his ments when her value was becoming family.' Her mother had early been left greater and more extensively felt. The an orphan to the care of her uncle, Fieldnarrative thus begins :
Marshal the Earl of Ligonier; and had
been trained rather to the accomplishments Immediately after Mrs Brunton's
which adorn 3 court than to those which death, various eloquent tributes were paid
are useful in domestic life. She was, how. to her menory in the newspapers of Edin. ever, a person of great natural acuteness, burgh. Her literary friends, however, have expressed a wish, that some more detailed tion, original thongli desultory, had, no
and of very lively wit; and her conversamemoir of her life should be prepared, ex
doubt, considerable influence in rousing her hibiting chiefly the history of her mind, daughter's mind. She was assiduous, too, and her habits of composition. With that in conveying the accomplishments which
she herself retained ; and Mary became, • Emmeline, with some other pieces. under her mother's care, a considerable By Mary Brunton, author of Self-Control proficient in music, and an excellent and Discipline. To which is prefixed, a French and Italian scholar. From these Memoir of her Life, including some ex languages she was much accustomed to tracts from her Correspondence. Edin- translate ; and there is no other habit of burgh, Manners and Miller, &c. 1819. her early life which tends, in any degree,
to account for the great facility and cor" ( anind. She now taught herself to draw, at rectness with-which her subsequent com.: : sufficiently, at least, to sketch with facilityan positions were written ilo v pon rand truth any object or scene which petua
When she passed the bounds of mere liarly pleased her.pl bir childhood, the defects under which her ease, i
1. a to sati ly education must otherwise have labouredite The circumstance of two: East Inter were remediest partly by a short residence clian wards of her husband coming to at school in Edinburgh, and still more by reside in their family, gave Mrs Brun=r the affectionate care of her father's sisters, ton occasion to exercise her talents for et of whose kindness she entertained through "education, and particularly to exlife the most grateful recollection. But, as amine thoroughly into the foundationis a great part of her training was still left to of her own religious belief, while she herself, her love for reading spent itself on :
was instructing others in religion.zi bas poetry and fiction. They helped to people for her that world of her own which the
« Both in her own mind, and in tudes 10
make religion an active prirciple, to carry "At a very early age the charge of her its influence habitually into life. It min. father's household devolved upon her ; and gled now with all her own pursuits. She the details of housekeeping in Orkney are of so exhausting á kind, that, from her of the pleasure which it bestowed, but front
sought knowledge, not merely for the sake sixteenth to her twentieth year, she could
a strong sense of duty. She loved nature have had very little leisure for self-im- not for its own beauty alone, but for the provement. Ils
traces with which it abounds of the wisdorn About this time Viscountess worth (who had formerly been the wife of and the love of the Creator Her religion
1.1 was not a religion of gloom ; it shed bright: Mrs Balfour's brother, the second Ear} Li
ness and peace around her. It gladdened gonier) proposed that Mary, her god- the heart which it purified and exalted. * daughter, should reside with her in Lon-
P: don. What influence this alteration might have had on her after life, is left to be mar.'
Six happy years flew along in this ter of conjecture. She preferred the quiet useful and simple course, when she were married in her twentieth year, and accompanied Dr Brunton to Elin. - went to reside at Bolton, near Hadding, burgh. A mind like hers, however mor top.” pp. Vain LA!!!!
dest and retiring, could not now but
rise to its own level ; and although, e In this seclusion of wedded tranquillie' believe, there never was a humani ben ty, Mrs Brunton dedicated much of her ing more deeply sensible of what trasi time to reading, and profited, we have great or excellent in others; orgir the no doubt, greatly froin the friendly and profoundness of her admiration, more skilful direction which her studies humble and self-abased, yet tlie nas now receivedlo Criticism and belles tural vigour of her faculties could not lettres, - the philosophy of the hu- but come into
play, amidst the way man mind, Land the best English hís- rieties of character, and the intellece torians, formed a course of reading in tual converse which met het in this which her husband accompanied her, new scene.. We must give in the and in whiehr' she acquired stronger words of the narrative itselt the strike habits of attention, and a still finer ing view of this, opening of ler minde sense of the beauties of composition, and of the circumstances which first Yet at this time she herself never to set her upon literary composition tempted to write. Even an ordinury
****** IJ no bastante letter wus rather an ånnoyance to her. "Hitherto she does not seem to bate Her chief recreation was drawing
been at all aware of thestrength of her owİ
mind. Our circle of acquaintanie o was Fast Lothian, in general, is not dis- small. She appeared among them searce: tinguished for landscape beauty, but the ly in any other light than as an active and situation of the manse of Bolton is pretty, prudent young housewife ; who submitted, and there is some fire scenery on the banks with the most cheerful goodshub.Qurbhi of the stream which washes it. These close the inconveniences of a natron-income; and wooded banks formed a singular con but who contrived, by method, and taste, trast to the flats and the magnificent to join conført with some share of eles sea-prospects of Orkney, a contrast which gance in the whole of hex management deepened the impression of both, and help Hew literary people were within our teach ed to forin that habit of observing the va- It was cbietly with me what she talked of tieties and beauties of nature which atter- what she had read ; and as some of the wards become so marked a feature of her subjekts were new taber, she contractel,
that it was for them ro
far more than enoughthe habit of speaks work, and once she sappealed to an intie os ing as a pupila do
11.mate friend who was present whether-le 331 It was otherwise in Edinburgh. Our would not be my publisher: He consenton circle widened. She mingled more 'with led readily, but added, that he would, 'at those whose talents and acquirements she least as willingly, publish a book of hersio had respected at a distance. She found own writing. This seemned, at the time, y
herself able to take her share in their con. to strike her as something the possibility of e versation; and, though nothing could be which had never occurred to her before 18
farther from the tone of her mind than ei- and she asked more than once whether he is ther pedaptry or dogmatism, she came by was in earnesti degrees, instead of receiving opinions im. " A considerable part of the first 110-tu plicitly, to examine those of others, and to lume of Self-Control was written before ya defend her own. There was a freshness knew any thing of its existences » When and originality in her way of managing she brought it to me, my pleasure was cetur fuțness in her wit, a richness in her illus- and correctness of the style, the acuteness
. b trations, and an acuteness in her argu- of observation, and the loftiness of sentiers ments, which made her conversation at. ment, were, each of them in its way, betractive to the ablest. If they were not yond what even I was prepared to expecter convinced by her reasoning, they were gra- from her." . Any encouragement which mylt tified by her ingenuity, and by her unpre- approbation could give her (and she sa-o tending opennesse
lued it at far more than it was worth) she e But the circumstance which, more received in the fullest measures”. bi vaid than any other beyond the range of her
pp. XV-Xix op domestic intercourse, tended both to
We do not think there is a more indevelope her intellect, and to establish her charactery, was an intimacy which she teresting pịcture anywhere of a mind formed, soon after her removal to Edin.:
to Cdingradually becoming acquainted with burgh, with a lady in her immediate neigh. its own powers, than this of Mrs bourhood. They were, indeed, so near, Brunton; and the great charm, in
truth, of her Self-Control, is the apgether. They read together,
pearance of young delight with which gether,
5, with confidential she seems to be, breaking out from her freedom, thett opinions, from minuter fetters, and luxuriating it the new points to
the most important of all. In world of intelligence and of gemius their leading views of human life and hu. which was opening before 'her. It man duty, they were fully agreed. But, whether they agreed, or whether they dit is this circumstance, perhaps, which fered, they benefited each other essentially,
throws a magic over this fascinating either mutually confirming each other in work, searcely to be found in her, the truth, or mutually leading each other cond novel With all the glaring leo towards ic.
fects of the story, there is an animation This intercourse continued for about and interest throughout arising mainly six years, wheu it was interrupted by Mrs from this cause. Her Discipline iş lieu's removal from Edinburgh, But it better constructed, and still more cong
and could not be, suspended al rectly written, yet there is a want of together, so far as letters could prolong the same spirit ; and it appears that it, it was continued to the last, by the only closer and confidential correspondence,
she did not write it with the same beyond the bounds of her own family, in freedom, or with equal delight. She which Mary ever engayed.
then had to compare herself with herm ". In the literary pursuits which they self, and with others.aOf Self-Con carried on together, there were occasional trol, we are toll, whatevex was written blanks; caused by the avocations of either. most rapiilly was the best written, 1.t It was chiefly for the employment of ac was only when she was dissatisfied with cidental incorvals of leisure, occasioned by what she was doing, or when she was the smore numerous leogagements of her uncertain of what was to follow that friend, that Mrs Brunton began the Writ- she 'wrote with difficulty. It is only ing of Self-Control. At fuse its author it such passages that there is intex had no design that it should meet the eye lineation or blotting in the man swelled this design, half unconsciously; script. The work was printed from the began to mingle with her labours
: Peri first copy, and was dedicated to Miss haps, too, u 1 circumstance which I remettJoanna Baillie, who acknowledged ber to have happened about this time miglit the anonymous compliment by aleks have had more weight that she was aware ter to the publishers. Mrs Brunton of in prompting the attenpth. She had of- replied in her own name; and her ben urged me to undertake some literary answer to-MishBaillie's letter in ter
and wlked oyer,
turn, contains a very openi-heartert' ing this tour, and from another in and statement of her motives for engaging after tour in 1815, are now publish. in the work, and of the 'manner in ed in this volume. which it was written.
On her return home, she again proI have no intention of excusing the jected a novel, and after considerable faults of my book to you, but, if you can hesitation, fixed on the story of Disci have patience with so much egotism, I can pline. Mrs Brunton made it a principle Account for them naturally enough. Till I never to write without a distinct mo. began Self-Control, I had never in my life ral plan ; and it has been suggested to written any thing but a letter or a recipe, us by high authority, that," besider excepting a few hundreds of vile rhymes, the many general observations and refrom which I desisted by the time I had flections with which her novels are gained the wisdom of fifteen years; there, enriched, and her clear and happy fore I was so ignorant of the art on which I was entering, that. I formed- scarcely any
manner of expressing, them, one of plan for my tale. I merely intended to her peculiar merits as a novelist i show the power of the religious principle the unsparing zeal with which she in bestowing self-command; and to bear makes out her moral, letting no fear testimony against a maxim as immoral as of making her chief characters uppoindelicate, that a reformed rake makes the pular, or running counter to the combest husband. For the rest, I was guided mon-place of sentimental notions, by the fancy of the hour, Me laissant als stand between her and her proposed. ler doucement, selon la bonne loi natu- end." There is much truth in this relle.'
The incidents were inserted as remark, and nothing certainly could they happened to occur to my mind, and be more praiseworthy than Mrs Brunwere joined in the best way I could to those that went before and after.
ton's design, or better, on the whole, “ The thing was not meant at first to
than its execution ; yet we are not see the light ; nor would it ever have done
sure but that the fetter which she so, if I had not thought the time it came has imposed upon herself may have, to cost me too much to be spent in mere in some degree, tranımelled her se unprofitable amusement. I cannot help nius. The extravagances of Seiflaughing, when I recollect the glowing face Control somewhat break in upon the and oppressed breathing with which I read didactic nature of the story, and so far the tirst chapters to my husband, making, they may unintentionally have a good in order to please him, a strong effort against my reluctance to the task. Indeed, is rather too unsparingly pressed upon
effect ; but in Discipline, the moral the book was far advanced before even he saw it. Now, I can hear it censured by have cramped her own powers as well
our view, and the feeling of this may by others with far less. Any thing like as chilled her readers. The human approbation from you has elevated me to a mind is of a very singular construcconvenient height above common praise or tion. It will willingly glide into the
noblest moral and religious impres“Mr B. is delighted that you approve sions, but it is ever apt to take offence of the story of poor Jessie Wilson, which when they are forced upon it as leso has always been his favourite part of the sons, especially in a tale. Yet Discibook; and I am no less gratified that you pline is much less objectionable, on praise the American
edition, which is this score, than some of the producin equal favour with me. have shared the fate of the book itself, tions of Mrs Hannah More, or even being reprobated by some and applauded
Miss Edgeworth. by others of the literary authorities here.
The animated sketch of Highland Upon the whole, however, my success bas manners, at the close of this book, very far exceeded what I ventured to ex was unfortunately anticipated, by that pect. Edinburgh is really for the second wonderful production Waverley, edition long ago, but I have not heard which came out after Mrs Brunton's whether we are equally fortunate in Lon. work had been nearly completed, but don. L. and R. are too busy to recollect before it was published. She immes a concern which is not quite so important diately felt the superiority of this hier to them as to me. pp. xli—xliii.
candidate for public favour; but it'is After this successful debut as anis an instance of the noble ingenuousness author, Mrs Brunton made her first of her mind, that she bowed before him visit with her husband to London in with the most profound admiration, 1812, and some interesting extracts and her letters are fu l of the warmest frojn a journal which she kept dur-i expressions of her deligat in his genius
books successively appeared, rence, for I do not aim, at either. I am of these, Guy Mạnnering was her setting down my thoughts just as they ochvourite. Perhaps one of their lead-, cur.
Make out the feelings which prompt mg excellencies consists in what we
them as you best can.” p. xcii. nave hinted at above, the undesigned There is a melancholy little poem morality which breaks out from their which strikes us, as remarkably beauclowing pictures. Discipline was tiful, and which must have been one riore successful than she had hoped; of the last things which she wrote, as end on her return from her second it was not found till after her death. our she projected another work. She hus writes to her brother:
While thou at eventide art roaming
Along the elm-o'ershaded walk, * Kam thinking of short tales, but have Where, past, the eddying stream is fouma is geti scarcely devised any subject for ing hemer. I do not need to write for bread; Beneath its tiny cataract,and I would not write one volume merely Where I with thee was wont to talk,-o gain the fame of Homer. A moral, Think thou upon the days gone by, herefore, is necessary for me ; but where And heave a sigh ! o get one on which to found a tale that when sails the moon above the moun. will be readable, is the question. A lofty
tains, morał, too, is necessary to my style of hinking and writing; and really it is not And sparkle in the light the fountains,
And cloudless skies are purely blue, asy to make such a one the ground:work And darker frowns the lonely yew-+ any story which novel readers will en.
Then be thou melancholy too, lure. ** One advantage, indeed, I possess; the When musing on the hours i proved
With thee, beloved ! path which I have chosen is almost excluSively my own. The few moral lessons When wakes the dawn upon thy dwelling, which our English fictions profess to teach, And lingering shadows disappear, are of the humblest class. Even Miss And soft the woodland songs are swelling Edgeworth's genius has stooped to incul. A choral anthem on thine ear, cate mere worldly wisdom. Patience is -- Think--for that hour to thought is dear! a plaster for all sores,'— Honesty is the And then her flight remembrance wings best policy,'— A penny saved is a penny To by-past things. got, s seem the texts which she has esta. To me, through every season, dearest ;. blished with her shrewd observation, and in every scene-by day, by night, exquisite painting of character.” p. lxxxii. Thou present to my mind appearest It is to this plan of writing short
A quenchless star--for ever bright!
My solitary, sole delight ! narratives that we owe what appears of Alonemin grove by shortat sea, her Emmeline, which would probably. I think of thee! have been her most elegant and finishel production. Her health, however,
But we must now hasten to the sad now suffered some severe shocks, and catastrophe. a deadness of spirit frequently accompanied these attacks, In one letter be a voluntary employment. It had come to
“ Composition had now long ceased to
be looked upon as a task; and she rather “I am as much in the open air as this sought reasons to justify to her own mind melancholy summer has allowed me. As her desertion of her former habits, than for my writing, it has been for four months opportunities of renewing them in their entirely discontinued. For the greater part' strength. During the summer of 1818, of that time, I have been utterly incapable however, she had in a great measure con of interesting myself in that, or indeed any quered these feelings; and, bad it pleased other employment. The worst
Providence to spare her life, I am conquence, however, of my indisposition has vinced that she would at this bour have, been the uneasiness it has given to you and been returning to her former occupations, to Mr B., to him especially, for he has felt with all her former ardour. it much ; and this has, no doubt, tended " She was strongly impressed, indeed, to increase it. I trust it is now removed, with a belief that her confinement was to and that I shall, when an endless train of prove fatal ; not on vague presentiment, visitors allows me, be able once more to but on grounds of which I could not entake my talent from its napkin. ... !, tirely remove the force, though I obsti
“Do not write to me either reproof or nately refused to join in the interence which exhortation. I might have done some she drew from themat - Under this belief wing to touse myself, but I had lost the she completed every the most minute prex! will. I write without method or cohe, paration for her great change with the