Miss Thackeray has given delightful and sympathetic biographical sketches of four "wise women"-- Mrs. Barbauld, Maria Edgeworth, Mrs. Opie, and Jane Austen--who bridged over the line between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and whose deep visions forecast in some sort the literature of today.
greatly struck by Miss Aikin, followed her to Warrington, and 'obtained a private audience of her father and begged his consent to be allowed to make her his wife.' The father answered 'that his daughter was there walking in the garden, and he might go and ask her himself.' 'With what grace the farmer pleaded his cause I know not,' says her biographer and niece. 'Out of all patience at his unwelcome importunities, my aunt ran nimbly up a tree which grew by the garden wall, and let herself down into the lane beyond.'
The next few years must have been perhaps the happiest of Mrs. Barbauld's life. Once when it was nearly over she said to her niece, Mrs. Le Breton, from whose interesting account I have been quoting, that she had never been placed in a situation which really suited her. As one reads her sketches and poems, one is struck by some sense of this detracting influence of which she complains: there is a certain incompleteness and slightness which speaks of intermittent work, of interrupted trains
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