Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Graham, Clementina Stirling

GRAHAM, CLEMENTINA STIRLING (1782–1877), of Duntrune, authoress of 'Mystifications,' born in May 1782, was 'elder daughter of Patrick Stirling of Pittendriech, by his wife Amelia Graham of Duntrune, Forfarshire. Her mother succeeded to the emall estate of Duntrune, near Dundee, on the death of her brother Alexander in 1802, and her husband and herself then assumed the surname of Graham. Mrs. Graham was one of four daughters of Alexander Graham of Duntrune (d. 1782), whose ancestors William and James, both active Jacobites,in 1715 and 1745 respectively assumed the title of, Viscount Dundee, as the nearest representatives of their kinsman John Graham of Claverhouse [q. v.], viscount Dundee. A fine portrait and valunble papers of the great viscount were cherished heirlooms of Miss Graham. Her own opinions, probably derived from her father, were whig. An honoured member of the circle of Edinburgh whigs, of whom Jeffrey and Cockburn were leaders, her relations with them were social, and she was entirely without party spirit. She was one of the best examples of the Scotch ladies of an old school, some of whom Lord Cockburn has drawn to the life in his 'Memoirs.' Like them she had her own marked character, but unlike most of them it was of the playful and mild, not of the severe and sarcastic order. Spending her time partly in Edinburgh and partly at Duntrune, Miss Graham shared the tastes of country and town. She had little of the literary lady except a liking for the society of men of letters and of art. She practised through a long life of over ninety-five years a wise charity, not only in giving alms, but also by kind acts and words, Without sparkling wit she had much quiet humour and a keen appreciation of wit in others. Mingling freely with all classes of society, she knew how to bring them together on good terms. The peer, laird, and merchant, the doctor, lawyer, and artist met at her house, which would have been called in France a salon, but it had none of the exclusiveness of a clique, and almost the feeling of a family of friends. Genius and wit were sufficient introduction to her hospitality, but she had a Scotch partiality for her kinsfolk and her neighbours. She died 23 Aug. 1877.

In early life Miss Graham displayed remarkable powers of personation, and often successfully mystified her acquaintance by presenting herself to them disguised as somebody else. The pranks she thus played on Jeffrey and others were recorded by her in her old age at the request of her friend Dr. John Brown in the little volume of 'Mystifications,' first privately printed in 1859 together with a few poems and prose sketches. Dr. Brown edited the first published edition of 'Mystifications' in 1865. She also translated from the French and published in 1829 'The Bee Preserver,' by Jonas de Gelieu, a Swiss author, for which she received a medal from the Highland Society, and was to her last days an ardent lover of bees. She likewise wrote a few pleasing songs.

[Personal knowledge, and the preface to Mystifications, by Dr. John Brown.]

Æ. M.