Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Miss Strickland to Miss Mitford

To Mary Russell Mitford
[c. 1829]

. . . There is another very interesting gipsy family of the name of Chilcotditto Barwell; perhaps you may have met them in your peregrinations. In your delightful sketch of Grace Nugent I was much amused by the donkey messengers. Such mercuries are common in Suffolk, and I greeted your boys as old acquaintances. My eldest brother, who is settled in Upper Canada, was a famous cricket-player, and I used often by his earnest solicitations to walk across Southwold Common, to witness his dexterity, and I felt no small degree of interest in his eclat. He was a fine handsome fellow, and promises to do something for himself in the country to which he has emigrated, and to which I often feel strongly induced to follow him, having many dear friends in that land 'of the mountain and the flood' . . .

Yes, I do agree with you that a woman would miss the smile of affection more than all the applause of the world. I know I would rather give up the pen than lose the affection of my beloved sister Catharine, who is dearer to me than all the world--my monitress, my dear and faithful friend. She is the author of several popular works for children: The Step-brothers, Young Emigrants, Juvenile Forget-me-not (the first series),* and many other works of the same nature. But it is not for her talents that I love my Kate; it is for herself. She is absent now for a few days, and I feel lost and lonely without her; she is the youngest of the six girls, next to me. We are all authoresses but Sarah, the third; but then she is a beauty, and such a sweet girl withal, that everybody loves her, and I often think she is the best off, for she has elegant tastes and pursuits, and no clashing interests to interfere with the love her sisters bear to her. I am writing a sad, egotistical letter; my tongue and my pen never know when to lie still, and I quite forget your dignity as a celebrated writer when I am scribbling to you as a friend. Mr. Pringle will, I know, kindly enclose this in the next packet he transmits to you. In the meantime, believe me, dear Miss Mitford, to remain

Your grateful sincere friend

*The Stepbrothers {London: Harvey and Darton 1828); The Young Emigrants; or, Pictures of Canada, Calculated to amuse and instruct the minds of youth {London: Harvey and Darton, 1826}; The Juvenile Forget-Me-Not; or, Cabinet of Entertainment and Instruction {London: N. Hailes, 1827}, the latter jointly written by Catherine and Agnes.
-from Susanna Moodie: Letters of a Lifetime edited by Carl Ballstadt, Elizabeth Hopkins, and Michael Peterman. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1993) p. 42-43.


Sherry said...

I just discovered your letters blog, and I think it is a wonderful idea.

Thanks you for posting.

Pepys said...

Very glad you enjoy the letters. I enjoy them too.