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A book which exhibits such a character must be of more than common value; and should any one prefer the letters of Madame du Deffand to those of Mrs. Grant, he might lay himself open to the suspicion of resembling in his taste the French lady who did not like innocent pleasures. But even in those qualities of mind by which Madame du Deffand was distinguished, we doubt whether Mrs. Grant was naturally her inferior. We may find many things in her letters as quaintly and as wisely said as the following, of which we will venture to alter the construction a little, without any change of the essential expression. She is exhorting a young female friend to serious reflection.
“ It is, too, a melancholy truth, very little thought of during the triumph of youth and beauty, that young women are the sole material of which old women are made." *
Horace Walpole has written few sentences with more point than a passage, in which Mrs. Grant says, speaking of one of Scott's novels, the “ Fortunes of Nigel ” :
“I had a letter informing me that in England it is accounted a failure. Honest John Bull has not seen such a failure on his side of the Tweed since Shakspeare's time."
The Baron de Grimm never told a story better, or a story 'better worth telling, than two which Mrs. Grant has related in connection; one of a young man, very “handsome and fashionable," whom she did not know, who pressed across a room, seized her hand, and kissed it, “ thirty years and upwards,” she says, “after anybody had thought of kissing my hand,” and expressed to her the feelings, which her poem, “ The Highlanders,” had awakened in him. The stranger she afterwards found was Colonel D’Este, son of the Duke of Sussex by his marriage with Lady Augusta Murray. She goes on:
“I must not omit an anecdote, better than my own, about kiss. ing hands. A young lady from England, very ambitious of distinction, and thinking the outrageous admiration of genius was nearly as good as the possession of it, was presented to Sir Walter Scott, and had very nearly gone through the regular forms of swooning sensibility on the occasion. Being afterwards introduced to Mr. Henry Mackenzie, she bore it better, but kissed his hand with admiring veneration. It is worth telling for the sake of Mr. Scott's comment. He said, “Did you ever hear the like of that English lass, to faint at the sight of a cripple clerk of session, and kiss the dry, withered hand of an old tax-gatherer ?"*
* The passage, as written by Mrs. Grant, stands thus : “ There is a melan. choly truth, too, very little thought of during the triumph of youth and beauty ; it is the consideration of young women's being the sole material of which old women are made."
Memoir and Correspondence, Vol. 11. pp. 163, 164.
But the limits to which we ought to confine ourselves prevent us from quoting any more such characteristic specimens of the last collection of her letters. We wish to produce one of a very different kind. In addition to the very brief remarks which we have already made on those letters, we would only observe, that no more entertaining and instructive contribution toward literary history has for a long time been given to the public.
Beside the accident that has been before mentioned, which produced permanent lameness, and the grant of a pension of a hundred pounds in the year 1826, no important events varied Mrs. Grant's life or circumstances during the interval of twenty-eight years between her removal to Edinburgh and her death in 1838, in the eighty-fourth year of her age, - except from the affliction which continually followed her, the loss of her children. She has recorded in her correspondence during the interval the deaths of four daughters, and of her son, Duncan. The manner in which she has spoken of them may “teach more"
“ Than high philosophy can preach." It would be doing great injustice to her character not to bring into view the strength and elevation of mind with which she bore her sorrows, and the deep religious faith with which she regarded them as the dispensations of the God of mercy. We might quote much, but we shall confine ourselves to some extracts from a letter written after the death of her daughter, Anne, to a friend, (Mrs. Rucker,) with whom another daughter, Mary, was then residing. It begins thus :
“Be comforted, my dear friends, -I speak to you and Mary, - she is not dead but sleepeth, - she is most assuredly entered into that blessed rest for which her pure and humble soul
* Mr. Mackenzie held the office of Comptroller of Taxes for Scotland.
was so well prepared. Do not mourn for one who was not like the children of this world, and whose faith was made perfect through suffering, - long and bitter suffering. Of that I did not tell either of you when it would not avail; it would have made you most unhappy, and would not have saved her a single pang. My dear Mrs. Rucker, be thankful that you were the object of such fond and faithful love, as few in this world have to give, to such a spotless mind and purified soul as this that has now soared to its proper sphere. At six o'clock yesterday evening, or a little after it, she fell sweetly asleep; and though wasted to a shadow - even that shadow looks in death serenely beautiful — her forehead and eyebrows are finer than any thing I ever saw. What a heavenly treasure she has been to me! Whatever vexed or harassed me, I always found a balm from her lips and a cordial in her eyes to soothe and cheer me; her last words were a fervid expression of the unequalled affection she bore me. You well know that I saw this cloud impending last spring, and labored to make up my mind to the deepest wound that could be inflicted on it; yet when it came nearer I could not endure to look at it, and fed myself with vain hopes. ..... He who made her all pure and lovely as she was knew what was best for her, and after indulging her in more of innocent happiness than falls to the lot of most people in a long life, he has, through this fiery trial, brought her home safely to himself. - Good is the will of the Lord !
“Do not, my dear friends, mourn for the freed spirit that exults in its release from a painful prison. Thank God for me, that gave me a child whose presence was a blessing, and whose memory will hover round me like a vision of bliss, till, through the merits of my Saviour, I shall know as I am known. Could I forget her with a wish, I would not part with the dear image for this world's treasure: she indeed never gave her mother grief, but when she died, never intentionally offended, never hurt me with a cold look. My sun is fast declining, I have not many years to mourn. But why mourn for this blessed spirit ! 0, do not mourn, my dear friends : consecrate her memory ; think cheerfully, speak easily of her. Adieu, dear friends, adieu.” — Memoir and Correspondence, Vol. 1. pp. 53 - 55.
No one can wish us to clothe in words the feelings with which every heart must be affected by this funeral hymn, so touching, so solemn, and so holy.
Here we conclude. We have succeeded but ill in these imperfect notices of Mrs. Grant, if we have not given the
impression of a woman of extraordinary good sense, and of uncommon powers of mind; whose letters, embracing a wide variety of subjects, are as truly valuable as those of any other writer, and likely to be of as permanent interest, and to afford as lasting gratification ; but especially of a woman of great strength of character, formed by religious principle and penetrated by religious sentiment, the vital principle of whose moral being was faith in God and immortality, whose sympathies were warın and diffusive, and who was full of disinterested kindness.
ART. VI. - 1. Leçon sur la Statique Chimique des Etres
Organisés, Professée par M. Dumas, pour la Clôture de son Cours à l'Ecole de Médecine. Paris : Fortier,
Masson, & Co. 1841. 8vo. pp. 48. 2. The Chemical and Physiological Balance of Organic
Nature ; an Essay. By J. Dumas and J. B. Bous-
London : H. Bailliere. 1844. 12mo. pp. 156. 3. Lectures on the Applications of Chemistry and Geology
to Agriculture. By JAMES F. W. JOHNSTON, F.R.S., etc. Edinburgh : Blackwood & Sons. 8vo. New
York : Wiley & Putnam. 12mo. 4. A Treatise on the Forces which produce the Organiza
tion of Plants ; with an Appendix, containing several Memoirs on Capillary Attraction, Electricity, and the Chemical Action of Light. By John William DRAPER, M. D., Professor of Chemistry in the University of New York. New York : Harper & Brothers. 1844. 4to. pp. 216. We need not inform our readers, that the subjects with which these works are occupied have recently excited much attention and interest. Few strictly scientific treatises have been so generally read in this country as Professor Liebig's volumes on chemistry, in its applications 10 vegetable and animal physiology. They have not only been repeatedly issued in rival editions by respectable publishers, but the two comely octavos have been transformed into a couple of almost illegible pamphlets, and widely scattered over the land in the form of " cheap literature.” We are relieved, therefore, from the misgiving we might naturally feel at placing works with such uninviting scientific titles at the head of our article ; and may, without hesitation, proceed to give some account of them.
Professor Dumas is at the head of the French school of organic chemistry. His eloquent discourse on the prominent features of the life of plants and animals, considered under a chemical point of view, was pronounced at the close of his annual course of lectures at the School of Medicine, in the spring of 1841, and it forms a spirited summary of the principles which he had very fully developed during that session, and in preceding years. To the second edition was appended a series of explanatory and historical documents; and these were increased in the third, of which the second work on our list is an English translation. A portion of the appendix, and of the researches upon which these striking generalizations are based, was furnished by the zealous. fellow-laborer of Dumas, M. Boussingault, whose name is accordingly associated with his own upon the title-page.
Professor Johnston's volume consists of a full series of lectures, the greater part of which were actually addressed to an audience of practical agriculturists, the Farmers' Club of Durham, England ; and we are free to say, that, for the amount of useful matter it comprises, and for just scientific views happily and plainly applied to practical use, the work is unrivalled. It embraces a wider field, and enters into more specific details, than the plan of Professor Liebig's works permitted ; and is, therefore, more directly available to the cultivator of the soil, whose wants it was especially intended to supply. Although addressed not to men of science, but to farmers, it will bear the test of scientific criticism, as such a work should do, perhaps above all others. One should be a complete master of a science, in order safely to teach its applications to practice. No idea is more fallacious, than that those who know little of a science may yet be qualified to write elementary books for those who know nothing. Those who have but a pittance of scientific knowledge had
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