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[431] published, she wrote a letter to its anonymous author, filled with the fulness of her fresh delight, which she enclosed to Ballantyne, who answered it on behalf of the Great Unknown. This was the beginning of the matter. Soon after, they wrote directly to each other; she went to see Scott; young Walter and his new wife were sent to her as to an intimate friend, immediately after their marriage. Sir Walter wrote to her, also, on his loss of fortune, and the correspondence was continued till his mind failed. When she was in Edinburgh, in 1823, Lady Scott expressed her surprise that Scott and Miss Edgeworth had not met when Miss Edgeworth was in Edinburgh in 1803. ‘Why,’ said Sir Walter, with one of his queer looks, ‘you forget, my dear,—Miss Edgeworth was not a lion then, and my mane, you know, was not grown at all.’ She told many stories of him, all showing an admiration for him, and a personal interest in him and his fame, which it was delightful to witness in the only person that could have been fancied his rival. During the evening she was very agreeable, and in the latter part of it very brilliant with repartee, so that we sat late together, not separating until midnight. Everything shows that her mind is as active, and as capable of producing ‘Ennui,’ or ‘The Absentee,’ now, as at any previous period. In fact, ‘Helen’ proves it.

August 24.—The house, and many of its arrangements,—the bells, the doors, etc.,—bear witness to that love of mechanical trifling of which Mr. Edgeworth was so often accused. It was only this morning that I fully learnt how to open, shut, and lock our chamber-door; and the dressing-glass, at which I have shaved for three mornings, is somewhat of a mystery to me still. Things are in general very convenient and comfortable through the house, though, as elsewhere in Ireland, there is a want of English exactness and finish. However, all such matters, even if carried much farther than they are, would be mere trifles in the midst of so much kindness, hospitality, and intellectual pleasures of the highest order, as we enjoyed under their roof, where hospitality is so abundant that they have often had twenty or thirty friends come upon them unexpectedly, when the family was much larger than it is now.

But we were now obliged to leave them. We did it with great regret; but our engagements with other friends in England would be broken by a more protracted stay in Ireland. So urgent was their kindness, as we parted from them, that we fairly promised to come back to Ireland,1 on our return from the Continent, and make them

1 Note by Mr. Ticknor, written February 9, 1836: ‘After an interval of six months I look back upon this visit to Miss Edgeworth with just the same feelings with which I drove away from her door. There was a life and spirit about her conversation, she threw herself into it with such abandon, she retorted with such brilliant repartee, and, in short, she talked with such an extraordinary flow of natural talent, that I do not know whether anything of the kind could be finer.’

An animated and interesting correspondence was kept up for many years between Miss and Mrs. Edgeworth and Mr. and Mrs. Ticknor, and did not cease until the death of Mrs. Edgeworth, the survivor of the two, in 1865.

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