Strangers think that by attention to our ordinary wants and wishes, food and clothing, that they have to do is done.
Far otherwise is it with the fond parent. In sickness or in sorrow, where can we pillow our head so softly as in a mother's arms?
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Can there anywhere be found such a total negation of self, or that perpetual welling of affection, save in a mother's breast? In her angriest voice we discover no asperity; we even rush to those arms which threaten us with chastisement: and how delicious is her approbation! Miss Blamire however was singularly fortunate in finding one to watch over her infancy; for, after the death of her mother, she was removed to the care of her aunt Mrs Simpson, the wife of her mother's brother; whose maiden name was Stevenson, of Kettleside, Cumberland; a lady possessed of considerable property.
She was born in , and died in April, ; her husband had died in The excellent arrangement of her domestic affairs increased her means of usefulness, ample as her fortune was, for her economy was not parsimony; and she knew well that that prudence which prevents waste adds to our power of doing good. The force of her character procured her respect from every one who knew her, and her warm-hearted benevolence secured it.
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Her charities were constant and liberal; and the following anecdote is related how she relieved the more important and urgent cases of distress which solicited her attention. Of course, we must suppose that this liberality was always exerted with due discrimination. Under the eye of this vigilant and kind-hearted relative did Susanna, accompanied with her sister and her brothers, attend the village school of Raughton-Head, distant about a mile from Thackwood.
Here boys and girls were taught reading, writing, and arithmetic; and if the amount of information obtained was small, it was obtained at as small a charge; for Dr Lonsdale was informed by one of her schoolfellows, that the quarter's wages did not exceed a shilling. She died in , the Colonel in ; they had been married for only about six years, and had no family. Mrs Graham was a lady of elegant manners, and possessed of the most amiable dispositions; she is said to have been one of the handsomest women in Cumberland.
The sisters had the most unbounded affection for each other. Susanna, at the time of her sister's marriage, was in her twentieth year. She was called by her affectionate countrymen "a bonny and varra lish young lass," which may be interpreted as meaning a beautiful and very lively young girl. Her affability and total freedom from affectation, put to flight that reserve which her presence was apt to create in the minds of her humbler associates; for they quickly perceived she really wished them happiness, and aided in promoting it by every effort in her power.
She freely mingled in their social parties, called merry neets in Cumberland; and by her graceful figure, elegant dancing, and kind-hearted gayety, gave a zest to the entertainments, which without her presence would have been wanting. Before the hilarity of the evening had melted the restraint usual at the commencement of such parties, I have been told she would relish the bashful approaches of the young villager as he, with much hesitation, made his homely bow, and begged she would honour him with her presence at the dance; that she would start up with hearty good-will, spring round the room, and thus dispel those timid fears which at first somewhat marred the free expression of delight, or the loud laugh of enjoyment.
How much she was the cynosure of those parties, as will be afterwards shown she was equally so in those of a higher grade, may be gathered from the following anecdote, which was told me by the late Miss Thompson of Carlisle.
Eighteenth-Century Poetry Archive / Authors / Susanna Blamire
A worthy farmer, who almost worshipped the Poetess, about two weeks after her death came to Miss Rowlands, a relation of Miss Binmire, for the sole purpose of having some conversation concerning Miss Sukey, as she was fondly and familiarly called by her neighbours and the people in the district, and for mutually bemoaning their loss. From whatever source her passion for poetry arose it would now be vain to inquire; but we find that, so early as in , when only in her nineteenth year, her stanzas "Written in a churchyard" betoken no inconsiderable familiarity with poetical numbers, and afford conclusive evidence that she must have been in the habit of composing poetry at some anterior date.
Having been thus early "smit with the love of literature and sacred song," her sister's marriage with Colonel Graham, and their consequent residence at Gartmore, whither Susanna accompanied them, could not fail in having a material influence over her poetical pursuits.
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Then, in "Old Harry's Return," as Mrs Brown informs us, this was one Harry Macdowal, evidently a Scottish subject too: she also tells us that that exquisite ballad "The Nabob" was also founded on fact; and although it is not so stated, yet we cannot help thinking that, from the imagery and sentiment which pervade it, it must have been composed on some Scottish incident also.
There is considerable interest attached to this spot, as having been the residence of Mary Queen of Scots for about two years, when only four years of age, previously to her being sent to France.
Miss Stubbs mentioned to me that she heard her relate, that when in the latter place, and sleeping in an old castle, in an apartment which had the reputation of being haunted, during the middle of the night her courage was put to a considerable trial. This betokened considerable courage in a being so young and so sensitive, whose ardent imagination was but too apt to people with a double portion of hobgoblins a domicile which was said to be their favourite rendezvous. Whether her acquaintance with Scottish poetry commenced before her visit to Scotland, cannot now be ascertained; but we find she was well acquainted with the writings of Ramsay, by the direct allusion she makes in one of her songs to a passage in "The Gentle Shepherd :" if she had perused Ramsay and other Scottish writers before her visit to Gartmore, it is natural to suppose she would have her admiration of them increased by her residence in Scotland.
We have a clear proof, however, that she was conversant, even at this period of her life, with the writings of Milton, Collins, Gray, and Prior, and doubtless with many others of the English classics; but it is curious to remark, we do not find one solitary allusion to the works of Burns, which she unquestionably would have relished much and appreciated highly. How far the Poetess's passion for literature was encouraged by Mrs Graham I have not discovered, but am disposed to think, from the love they bore each other, that she would indulge her in every thing that tended to promote her happiness and give her pleasure.
We have seen how much she was the delight of the humbler classes, how keenly and cordially she entered into the spirit of their social parties; but she was not the less beloved by those who moved in the world of fashion. When on a visit to her aunt Mrs Fell, whose husband was curate of Chillingham, the noble family of Tankerville was residing at Chillingham Castle, and Miss Blamire soon became acquainted with the Earl and his family.
They quickly discovered her superiority of mind, and loved as much as they admired her; and, to please the Earl, who was much amused with the Cumberland dialect, she wrote at his request that clever dialogue commencing "Wey, Ned, man! Mrs Blamire of Thackwood was born 5th August, , and died 15th March, , at the venerable age of eighty-eight, having survived her husband twenty-three years.
She was a well-educated lady, of varied accomplishments, and of the most engaging and amiable manners; even down to the day of her death she possessed a clear and vigorous understanding. The Poetess and she had been acquainted previously to her marriage with her brother, and the friendship then formed was strengthened by the union.
This happy event, I am disposed to think, must have had the most favourable effect on the mind of Miss Blamire; for she must have felt the deficiencies of her own education, and consequently would quickly avail herself of the superior mental training of her sister, and, by her affection for her, become an apt scholar to all her instructions.
That the one was as ready to receive as the other to impart advice, may readily be believed; and the strength of the attachment which Miss Susanna had for her sister-in-law may be gathered from the fact, that "the very accomplished woman" to whom "The Bower of Elegance" is addressed, was Mrs Blamire, after she had become the mother of her brother's children. As a reproduction of a historical artifact, this work may contain missing or blurred pages, poor pictures, errant marks, etc.
Blamire, Susanna (1747–1794)
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