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in fact, written by Miss Porter's eldest brother, Dr. Porter, a physician in Bristol. It does not quite rank with the great stories we have likened it to, but no one can read it without becoming very much fascinated with tropical life as it was described on the Leeward Islands. Jane Porter was born at Hurham, in 1776. She had two older brothers, one of whom afterwards wrote the “Diary of Sir Edward Seaward,” and the other, David Ker Porter, became a distinguished English painter and member of the Royal Academy. A younger sister, Anne Marie, was a most versatile and voluminous story writer, writing in all fifty-two novels, in a literary career extending from her twelfth to her fiftieth year. None of these stories is now read, save perhaps occasionally from curiosity, for they do not possess the literary flavor that belong to those of the older sister. When they were children the mother—the father was dead—removed her family to Edinburgh, and there they became acquainted with young Walter Scott, a student, and with Flora Macdonald, a maid from the Highlands, who afterward emigrated to North Carolina. It was in Edinburgh that Jane Porter learned the stories and legends that years later were made a
part of “The Scottish Chiefs.” In 1790 the family removed to London, and in a suburb of the metropolis a large portion of Miss Porter's life was passed. There she wrote her novels and received the honors due her genius. Like Miss Aiken, Joanna Baillie and Miss Roche, she long survived her fame, and while her novels were still read she herself was suffered to glide into oblivion. In 1844 a number of American publishers and authors sent her a rosewood armchair, “as a memorial of high and respectful admiration for the author of some of the purest and most imaginative productions in the wide range of English literature.”
“THE wild IRISH GIRL.”
CoNTEMPORARY with Miss Edgeworth and Miss Porter, there was one who in some respects was even more noted. This was Lady Morgan, who was sometimes called “The Wild Irish Girl,” from the title of her first novel. For fifty years, or nearly that, she was a distinguished figure in literary and social circles in Dublin and London, and her name is frequently to be met in the diaries and letters of Byron, Moore, Rogers, Campbell, Scott and others of the immortals. She was a woman of genius, warm-hearted and affectionate, with some foibles and affectations. She wrote novels and books of travel, her acquaintance was courted by many of the most eminent persons of the time, and her memoirs, autobiography and correspondence show the terms of
intimacy on which she lived with them. She at
one time divided the honors of popularity among the masses with the mighty O’Connell himself, if we may judge by the ballads of the day, one of which runs in part as follows : Och, Dublin City, there is no doubtin', Bates every city upon the say : 'Tis there you'll hear O'Connell spoutin' And Lady Morgan makin' tay. For 'tis the capital o' the finest nation, Wid charmin' pisantry on a fruitful sod, Fightin' like divils for conciliation, An' hatin’ each other for the love o' God.
Sydney Owenson, who became Lady Morgan, was the eldest daughter of an Irish land steward originally named MacOwen, who became stagestruck, changed his name to Owenson and went to London to rival Garrick in the play of “Tamerlane.” He was not successful in the metropolis, but being a handsome and dashing Irishman starred the provinces and wound up by making a runaway match with a certain Miss Hill. They lived the life of strolling players for a time and Sydney was born on shipboard between England and Ireland, in 1777. Her childhood was passed in theaters and among actors, and she received what education a strolling player could give his child.
She was, however, vivacious and ambitious, eager to improve her mind, high-spirited and independent. She grew up in Dublin, where she first knew Tom Moore, and a little later John Wilson Croker, her lifelong enemy. When her father failed as a theatrical manager she supported him and her sister—her mother being dead—by taking a situation as governess. She began also to scribble verses and novels, and in 1806 published “The Wild Irish Girl,” which met with great success. Glorvina is the name of the heroine of the story, a name by which the author was generally called afterward by her friends. The main incident of the story is a chapter of her own experience. A youth falls violently in love with the heroine, but he is dependent on his father, who opposes the marriage. Glorvina has no money, either, and from that point of view is an undesirable match. The father calls upon her to express his objections to the marriage, and Glorvina replies with great spirit that she has no intention of marrying the young man. During the interview she expresses herself so well, and is withal so beautiful and cultivated in manner, that the father falls in love with her and offers her his hand and fortune then and there. She declines the proposal and subsequently marries another hero.