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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
My Father’s Mother
By Anne Thackeray Ritchie (1837–1919)
 
From ‘Chapters from Some Unwritten Memoirs’

ONE’S early life is certainly a great deal more amusing to look back to than it used to be when it was going on. For one thing, it isn’t nearly so long now as it was then; and remembered events come cheerfully scurrying up one after another, while the intervening periods are no longer the portentous cycles they once were. And another thing to consider is, that the people walking in and out of the bygone mansions of life were not, to our newly opened eyes, the interesting personages many of them have since become: then they were men walking as trees before us, without names or histories; now some of the very names mean for us the history of our time. Very young people’s eyes are certainly of more importance to them than their ears, and they all see the persons they are destined to spend their lives with, long before the figures begin to talk and to explain themselves.  1
  My grandmother had a little society of her own at Paris, in the midst of which she seemed to reign from dignity and kindness of heart; her friends, it must be confessed, have not as yet become historic, but she herself was well worthy of a record. Grandmothers in books and memoirs are mostly alike,—stately, old-fashioned, kindly, and critical. Mine was no exception to the general rule. She had been one of the most beautiful women of her time; she was very tall, with a queenly head and carriage; she always moved in a dignified way. She had an odd taste in dress, I remember, and used to walk out in a red merino cloak trimmed with ermine, which gave her the air of a retired empress wearing out her robes. She was a woman of strong feeling, somewhat imperious, with a passionate love for little children, and with extraordinary sympathy and enthusiasm for any one in trouble or in disgrace. How benevolently she used to look round the room at her many protégés, with her beautiful gray eyes! Her friends as a rule were shorter than she was, and brisker, less serious and emotional. They adopted her views upon politics, religion, and homœopathy, or at all events did not venture to contradict them. But they certainly could not reach her heights, and her almost romantic passion of feeling.  2
 
 
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