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Notable Women Authors of the Day by Helen C. Black

The above mentioned Jeremy Taylor


The

study is divided from the adjoining room by heavy curtains drawn aside and a Japanese screen. It is all perfectly simple and unpretending, but the rooms are thoroughly comfortable and home-like.

The chapter being finished, your hostess rises, declares herself entirely at your service, and mentions that she is now engaged on a new three volume novel, which is to come out early next year in America, and is as yet unnamed.

Mrs. Alexander was born in Ireland, though no touch of accent can be detected. She never left that country until after her nineteenth birthday. Her father belonged to an old squirearchal family, the Frenches of Roscommon. He was a keen sportsman, and a member of the famous Kildare Hunt. The few old pictures which hang on the wall are all family portraits. One represents a paternal ancestor, Lord Annaly, painted in his peer's robes. He was one of the Gore family, of whom no less than nine members sat at the same time in parliament shortly before the Union. Another picture of a comfortable-looking old gentleman in a powdered wig is the portrait of a high legal dignitary, well known in his day as Theobald Wolfe, a great-uncle of Mrs. Alexander. A third is a seventeenth-century portrait of Colonel Dominic French, who looks manly and resolute, in spite of his yellow satin coat, flowing wig, and lace cravat, drawn through his buttonhole. This gentleman was the first Protestant of the family, and is

credited with having given up his faith for love of his wife, who simpers beside him in an alarmingly _decolletee_ blue dress, suggestive of the courtly style in the time of the Merry Monarch. Her husband, with the ardour of a convert--or a pervert--raised a regiment of dragoons among his tenantry, and fought on the winning side at the Battle of the Boyne.

Mrs. Alexander remarks that her "kinsfolk and acquaintance in early life, were, if not illiterate, certainly unliterary." "I always loved books," she adds, "and was fortunate, when a very young girl, barely out of the schoolroom, in winning the favour of a dear old blind Scotchman, whose wife was a family friend. He was a profound thinker, and an earnest student before he lost his sight. My happiest and most profitable hours were spent in reading aloud to him books, no doubt a good deal beyond my grasp, but which, thanks to his kind and patient explanations, proved the most valuable part of my very irregular education. In reading the newspapers to him, I also gathered some idea of politics, probably very vague ideas, but so liberal in their tendency that my relatives, who were 'bitter Protestants' and the highest of high Tories, looked on me, if not as a 'black sheep,' certainly as a 'lost mutton.' The tendency has remained with me, though my consciousness of the many-sided immensity of the subject, has kept me from forming any decided opinions."

The only bits of ancestry she values, Mrs. Alexander says, are her descent from Jeremy Taylor, the celebrated Bishop of Down and Connor, and the near cousinship of her grandmother to Lord Kilwarden, who was the first victim in Emmet's rising; that high-minded judge, whose last words, as he yielded up his life to the cruel pikes of his assailants, were, "Let them have a fair trial."

The above-mentioned Jeremy Taylor, and the Rev. Charles Wolfe--whose well-known poem, "The Burial of Sir John Moore," was so greatly appreciated by Lord Byron--were the only literary members of the family on her father's side; on her mother's, she can claim kindred with Edmund Malone, the well-known annotator of Shakespeare.


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