BLTC Press Titles

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The Characters of Theophrastus


The Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Thomas Carlyle, Rudolf Steiner

Theory of Colours

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Tao Te Ching

Lao Tzu, James Legge (trans.)


by Susan Ferrier



In November 1854 there died in Edinburgh one who might, with truth, be called almost the last, if not the last, of that literary galaxy that adorned Edinburgh society in the days of Scott, Jeffrey, Wilson, and others. Distinguished by the friendship and confidence of Sir Walter Scott, the name of Susan Edmon- stone Ferrier is one that has become famous from her three clever, satirical, and most amusing novels of Marriage, The Inheritance, and Destiny. They exhibit, besides, a keen sense of the ludicrous almost unequalled. She may be said to have done for Scotland what Jane Austen and Maria Edgeworth have respectively done for England and Ireland—left portraits, painted in undying colours, of men and women that ^Jj will live for ever in the hearts and minds of her

^|J readers. In the present redundant age of novel-

T-4 writers and novel-readers, and when one would sup-

*-t pose the supply must far exceed the demand from

the amount of puerile and often at the same time ej; prurient literature in the department of fiction that

G3 i Eeprinted from the Temple Bar Magazine for November 1878.

%2 VOL. L B *

daily flows from the press, it is refreshing to turn to the vigorous and, above all, healthy moral tone of this lady's works. To the present generation they are as if they had never been, and to the question, "Did you ever read Marriage?" it is not uncommon in these times to get such an answer as, " No, never. Who wrote it ?" " Miss Ferrier." " I never heard of her or her novels." It is with the view, therefore, of enlightening such benighted ones that I pen the following pages.

Miss Ferrier was the fourth and youngest daughter of James Ferrier, Writer to the Signet, and was born at Edinburgh, 7th of September 1782. Her father was bred to that profession in the office of a distant relative, Mr. Archibald Campbell of Succoth (greatgrandfather of the present Archbishop of Canterbury). To his valuable and extensive business, which included the management of all the Argyll estates, he ultimately succeeded. He was admitted as a member of the Society of Writers to the Signet in the year 1770. He was also appointed a Principal Clerk of Session through the influence (most strenuously exerted) of his friend and patron, John, fifth Duke of Argyll,i and was a colleague in that office with Scott He

i To this nobleman, in his later years, Mr. Ferrier devoted much of his time, both at luveraray and Roseneath. He died in 1806. His Duchess was the lovely Elizabeth Gunning. Mr. Ferrier died at 25 George Street, Edinburgh, January 1829, aged eighty-six. Sir Walter Scott attended his funeral After his death Miss Ferrier removed to a smaller house, in Nelson Stwfe

also numbered among his friends Henry Mackenzie, the "Man of Feeling," Dr. Hugh Blair, and last, though not least, Burns the poet His father, John Ferrier, had been in the same office till his marriage with Grizzel, only daughter and heiress of Sir Walter Sandilands Hamilton, Bart, of Westport, county Linlithgow.i John Ferrier was the last Laird of Kirklands, county Renfrew, subsequently sold to Lord Blantyre. Mr. James Ferrier was the third son of his parents, and was born 1744.2 Miss Ferrier was in the habit of frequently visiting at Inveraray Castle in company with her father, and while there had ample opportunity afforded her of studying fashionable life in all its varied and capricious moods, and which have been preserved to posterity in her admirable delineations of character. Her reason for becoming an authoress is from her own pen, as follows, and is entitled a preface to The Inheritance;

i Sir Walter's father, Walter Sandilands of Hilderston, a cadet of the Torphichen family (his father was commouly styled Tutor of Calder), assumed the name of Hamilton on his marriage with the heiress of Westport

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