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Porter
Porter
183

plied that she could not afford the expense of travelling, a cheque was sent. Although Miss Porter was of prepossessing appearance, Lord Abercorn had anticipated greater personal charms in his visitors, and being disappointed by a secret view he took of them on their arrival, he ungallantly left his wife to receive them without his aid (Taylor, Haydon, iii. 17–18). Maginn considered ‘Thaddeus’ the best and most enduring of Miss Porter's works. By 1810 it had reached a ninth edition. Translated into German, it fell into the hands of Kosciusko, the Polish patriot, who sent Miss Porter expressions of approval. A relative of Kosciusko presented her with a gold ring containing the general's portrait; and the tenth edition, 1819, was inscribed to his memory. In recognition of her literary power Miss Porter was made a lady of the chapter of St. Joachim by the king of Würtemberg. Later editions appeared in 1831 (with a new and valuable preface), 1840, 1860, and 1868.

Jane Porter's second and most notable novel, ‘The Scottish Chiefs,’ was composed within a year, and was published in five volumes in 1810. Its subject is the fortunes of William Wallace, the Scottish patriot, of whom she had heard stories in her childhood from Luckie Forbes. In preparing the romance she sought information in all directions. The old poem on the subject, by Henry the Minstrel (Blind Harry), was doubtless known to her. Campbell the poet sent her a sketch of Wallace's life, and recommended books for her to read. Miss Porter dedicated to him the third edition (1816). He first met her in 1833, and spoke of her as ‘a pleasing woman’ (Beattie, Life of Campbell, iii. 146). ‘The Scottish Chiefs’ had an immense success in Scotland. Translated into German and Russian, it won European fame, was proscribed by Napoleon (postscript to 3rd edit. 1816), and penetrated to India. Maginn considered the hero, Wallace, ‘a sort of sentimental dandy who faints upon occasion, and is revived by lavender-water, and throughout the book is tenderly in love;’ but Miss Mitford, who commended Miss Porter's ‘brilliant colouring,’ declared that she scarcely knew ‘one héros de roman whom it is possible to admire, except Wallace’ in Miss Porter's story (L'Estrange, Life of Miss Mitford, i. 217). Joanna Baillie acknowledged her indebtedness to Miss Porter, ‘the able and popular writer,’ when writing her poem on Wallace in ‘Metrical Legends’ (1821), and quoted in a note a passage of ‘terrific sublimity’ from ‘The Scottish Chiefs.’ The tradition that Scott acknowledged in conversation with George IV that this book was the begetter of the Waverley novels must be regarded as apocryphal. The book has retained its popularity (it was reprinted nine times between 1816 and 1882), and is one of the few historical novels prior to ‘Waverley’ that have lived.

In 1815 appeared, in three volumes, ‘The Pastor's Fireside,’ a novel dealing with the later Stuarts; a second edition was published in 1817, and later ones in 1832 (2 vols.), 1856, and 1880.

Miss Porter now turned to the stage and wrote a play, ‘Egmont, or the Eve of St. Alyne.’ It was submitted to Kean, who praised it, but his fellow-actors thought less well of it; and it seems never to have been either acted or printed. On 5 Feb. 1819 a tragedy by her called ‘Switzerland’ was acted at Drury Lane with Kean in the principal, and Henry Kemble in a subordinate, part. It was so heartily condemned that the manager had to come forward and announce its withdrawal (Blackwood's Mag. iv. 714; Genest, Hist. of the Stage, viii. 683). ‘Miss Porter is sick too,’ wrote Miss Mitford on 5 July 1820, ‘of her condemned play. I have not much pity for her. Her disease is wounded vanity.’ Macready mentions a new tragedy in which Kean played at Drury Lane on 28 Jan. 1822, ‘Owen, Prince of Powys,’ ‘written, I believe, by Miss Jane Porter—a sad failure’ (Reminiscences, i. 233).

Through Dr. Adam Clarke [q. v.], the king's librarian, who was among Miss Porter's acquaintances, George IV suggested the subject of her next work, ‘Duke Christian of Luneburg, or Traditions of the Harz.’ Clarke supplied Miss Porter with authorities; it was published in three volumes in 1824, and dedicated to the king, who expressed satisfaction with it.

In 1831 was published, in three volumes, ‘Sir Edward Seaward's Narrative of his Shipwreck and consequent Discovery of certain Islands in the Caribbean Sea: with a detail of many extraordinary and highly interesting Events of his Life from 1733 to 1749 as written in his own Diary, edited by Jane Porter.’ The book made a great sensation, but is doubtless largely, if not wholly, fictitious. Miss Porter asserted that the diary was genuine, and had been placed in her hands by the writer's family (Notes and Queries, 1st ser. v. 10, 185, 352). When pressed on the matter, she said, ‘Sir Walter Scott had his great secret: I must be allowed to keep my little one.’ In the preface to the edition of 1841 she refers to a report of the Royal Geographical Society to prove that the islands were not imaginary. Many accepted her statements literally (cf. Hall, Re-