Our village!" Do you suppose you could write a book about your village? Could you find enough matters of interest to make one book? And yet Miss Mitford wrote five with that title. She wrote about the houses and the people, the shops, the children, about life in an English country village, and delightful reading her sketches are. She wrote as no one had ever before written, and perhaps I might say that no one since has ever written such charming bits of description of rural life.
She wrote other books, Atherton, and Other Tales, Country Stories, and then she wrote such delightful letters to her friends. You will find some of these in her Life and Correspondence. She was the daughter of wealthy parents, who later in life became poor. So that from a life of luxury our gifted author was reduced to poverty.
The latter part of her life must have contrasted painfully with the days of her childhood, yet she kept through all her trials her sweet serenity of mind, her habit of making the best of everything. She is described as a short, stout woman, with a face shining with quiet happiness and unselfishness. The appreciation with which her sketches were received gave her much pleasure, and the fact that her writings were re-printed in America afforded her the greatest gratification, while it was a surprise to her.
She was a delightful person to meet socially, having charming ways and a soft, sweet voice. She died in a wee bit of a house, in 1855, at the age of sixty-eight.
Do you ask why I have chosen to place Miss Mitford in our list of Remarkable Women? To begin with, she was the first to discover and set before us in prose writing the beauty in every-day things. She had written poems and tried her hand at writing tragedy, but with indifferent success, and at length when poverty stared her in the face she took up the then new line of writing and tried with grand success to show to the world the beauty there is in common things. Then all through her long life with its sad changes she kept that wonderful serenity of mind, and that happy faculty of living above the vexations of life. Many a woman when forced by growing poverty to move from place to place, each time going to a poorer home, would have grown faint and weary of life, and given up in despair.
If we cultivate the habit of making the best of everything, we shall be the better prepared to meet the vicissitudes of life.
From: The Pansy Magazine. May issue, 1896