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Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 46.djvu/190

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Porter
Porter
184

trospect of a Long Life). But the ‘Quarterly’ (No. 48, pp. 501 et seq.), while commending the literary ability of the work, characterised it as unmingled fiction. According to an inscription in Bristol Cathedral to the memory of her eldest brother, Dr. William Ogilvie Porter, he was the real author; but the inscription, doubtless written by Jane, is not to be wholly trusted (Notes and Queries, ib.) The book was reissued in 1832, 1852, 1856, 1878, 1879, and 1883.

After the publication of ‘Thaddeus’ in 1803, and until her mother's death on 21 June 1831, Miss Porter resided chiefly at Thames Ditton and Esher in Surrey. In May 1812 Crabb Robinson met her, noted her fine figure and interesting face, and was pleased by her conversation (Diary, i. 200, 201). In March 1832 she and her sister settled in London, frequently visiting Bristol, where their eldest brother, William Ogilvie Porter, was in medical practice. While living in London, Miss Porter went much into society, and met or corresponded with most of the literary and artistic celebrities of her day. Maginn notes her fondness for evening parties, ‘where she generally contrives to be seen patronising some sucking lion or lioness.’ In 1835 Lady Morgan met her at Lady Stepney's, and describes her as ‘tall, lank, lean, and lackadaisical … and an air of a regular Melpomene’ (Memoirs, ii. 396). In the same year N. P. Willis visited Kenilworth in Miss Porter's company, and wrote to Miss Mitford of ‘her tall and striking figure, her noble face … still possessing the remains of uncommon beauty’ (L'Estrange, Friendships of M. R. Mitford, i. 295). In 1842 Miss Porter went to St. Petersburg to visit her brother Robert, who died suddenly very shortly after her arrival. She returned to London, and the business of her brother's estate, of which she was executrix, occupied her until 1844. Judging from unpublished diaries, she seems to have suffered great pecuniary difficulty. At the beginning of 1842, however, she received from Mr. Virtue 210l. for ‘The Scottish Chiefs,’ and in November 1842 50l. was granted to her from the Literary Fund. Her books had a wide circulation in America. In 1844 a number of authors, publishers, and booksellers of the United States sent her a rosewood armchair, as a token of their admiration (Gent. Mag. 1845, i. 173).

She retained her intellectual faculties and serene disposition, and died on 24 May 1850 at the house of her eldest brother, Dr. Porter, in Portland Square, Bristol. In the cathedral is a tablet to her memory, and to that of her brothers and sister.

Jane Porter, like her sister, regarded her work very seriously, and believed the exercise of her literary gifts to be a religious duty. She was of somewhat sombre temperament, and S. C. Hall called her ‘Il Penseroso.’ She was generally admitted to be very handsome. Miss Mitford considered her the only literary lady she had seen who was not fit ‘for a scarecrow’ (L'Estrange, Life of Miss Mitford, ii. 152). A fine portrait of her as a canoness was painted by Harlowe, and was engraved by Thomson; it is reproduced in Jerdan's ‘National Portrait Gallery’ (vol. v.). Another portrait by the same painter and the same engraver appears in Burke's ‘Portrait Gallery of Distinguished Females’ (ii. 71). West painted her as Jephthah's daughter in a picture that was at Frogmore in 1834. Maclise drew her in outline for ‘Fraser's Magazine,’ and she there appears among Regina's maids of honour, stirring a cup of coffee (cf. Maclise, Portrait Gallery, p. 355). Dibdin mentions a portrait by Kearsley (Reminiscences, pt. i. p. 175). In an altar-piece presented by R. K. Porter to St. John's College, Cambridge, Jane is painted as Faith. Besides the works noticed, Miss Porter published ‘Sketch of the Campaign of Count A. Suwarrow Ryminski,’ 1804, and a preface to ‘Young Hearts, by a Recluse,’ 1834. She also took part with her sister Anna Maria in ‘Tales round a Winter Hearth,’ 2 vols., 1826, and ‘The Field of Forty Footsteps,’ 3 vols., 1828, and contributed to the ‘Gentleman's Magazine,’ Mr. S. C. Hall's ‘Amulet,’ and other periodicals. Several unpublished works by both the sisters were sold in 1852, and cannot now be traced.

[No satisfactory biography of Jane Porter exists. Brief accounts occur in Elwood's Literary Ladies of England, vol. ii.; Allibone's Dict. of Engl. Lit. ii. 1645; Hall's Book of Memories. The Ker Porter Correspondence, sold by Sotheby in 1852 (cf. Catalogue in the British Museum), contained materials for a biography, and was purchased by Sir Thomas Phillipps of Middle Hill.]

E. L.

PORTER or Nelson, JEROME (d. 1632), Benedictine monk, was professed at Paris for St. Gregory's, Douay, on 8 Dec. 1622, and died at Douay on 17 Nov. 1632, (Snow, Necrology, p. 39).

He wrote:

  1. ‘The Flowers of the Lives of the most renowned Saincts of the Three Kingdoms, England, Scotland, and Ireland. Written and collected out of the best Authours and Manuscripts of our Nation, and distributed according to their Feasts in the Calendar,’ vol. i. containing the calendar to the end of June, Douay, 1632, 4to. Dedi-