Life And Letters Of Maria Edgeworth/Volume 2/Letter 114
To MR. TICKNOR.
TRIM, Nov. 19, 1840.
... I am afraid to invite you to come and see us again, lest you should be disenchanted, and we should lose the delightful gratification we enjoy in your glamour of friendship. Aunt Mary, however, is really all you think and saw her; and in her good years still a proof, as you describe her—and a remarkable proof—of the power of mind over time, suffering, and infirmities, and an example of Christian virtues, making old age lovely and interesting.
Your prayer, that she might have health and strength to enjoy the gathering of friends round her has been granted. Honora and her husband, and Fanny and her husband, have been with us all this summer for months; and we have enjoyed ourselves as much as your kind heart could wish. Especially "that beautiful specimen of a highly cultivated gentlewoman," as you so well called Mrs. Edgeworth, has been blest with the sight of all her children round her, all her living daughters and their husbands, and her grandchildren. Francis will settle at home, and be a good country gentleman and his own agent, to Mrs. Edgeworth's and all our inexpressible comfort and support, also for the good of the county, as a resident landlord and magistrate much needed. As he is at home I can be spared from the rent-receiving business, etc., and leaving him with his mother, Aunt Mary, and Lucy, I can indulge myself by accepting an often-urged invitation from my two sisters, Fanny and Honora, to spend some months with them in London. I have chosen to go at this quiet time of year, as I particularly wish not to encounter the bustle and dissipation and lionising of London. For though I am such a minnikin lion now, and so old, literally without teeth or claws, still there be, that might rattle at the grate to make me get up and come out, and stand up to play tricks for them, and this I am not able or inclined to do. I am afraid I should growl; I never could be as good-natured as Sir Walter Scott used to be, when rattled for and made to "come out and stand on his hind legs," as he used to describe it, and then go quietly to sleep again.
I shall use my privilege of seventy-two—rising seventy-three—and shall keep in my comfortable den; I will not go out. "Nobody asked you, ma'am," to play lion, may perhaps be said or sung to me, and I shall not be sorry nor mortified by not being asked to exhibit, but heartily happy to be with my sisters and their family and family friends—all for which I go—knowing my own mind very well I speak the plain truth. I shall return to Edgeworthstown before the London season, as it is called, commences, i.e. by the end of March, or at the very beginning of April.
This is all I have, for the present, to tell you of my dear self, or of our family doings or plannings.
... I do not know whether I was most interested, dear Mrs. Ticknor, in your picture of your domestic life and happy house and home, or in the view you gave me of your public festivity and celebration of your American day of days—your national festival in honour of your Declaration of Independence. It was never, I suppose, more joyously, innocently, and advantageously held than on the day you describe so delightfully with the accuracy of an eye-witness. I think I too have seen all this, and thank you for showing it to me. It is a picture that will never leave the memory of my heart. I only wish that we could ever hope to have in Ireland any occasion or possibility of such happy and peaceable meetings, with united sympathy and for the keeping alive a feeling of national patriotism. No such point of union can be found, alas! in Ireland; no subject upon which sects and parties could coalesce for an hour, or join in rejoicing or feeling for their country! Father Matthews, one might have hoped, considering the good he has effected for all Ireland, and considering his own unimpeachable character and his great liberality, admitting all sects and all parties to take his pledge and share his benevolent efforts, might have formed a central point round which all might gather. But no such hope! for I am just now assured his very Christian charity and liberality are complained of by his Catholic brethren, priests and laity, who now begin to abuse him for giving the pledge to Protestants, and say, "What good our fastings, our temperance, our being of the true faith, if Father Matthews treat heretics all as one, as Catholics themselves! and would have them saved in this world and the next too! Then I would not doubt but at the last he'd turn tail! aye, turn Protestant himself entirely."