Reference > The Library > Helen Rex Keller > Reader’s Digest of Books

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
H. R. Keller.  The Reader’s Digest of Books.
Extracts of the Journals and Correspondence of Miss Berry
Mary Berry (1763–1852)
Berry, Miss, Extracts of the Journals and Correspondence of. Edited by Lady Theresa Lewis. These interesting records cover the long period 1783–1852,—say from American Revolution to Crimean War, nearly. They were edited by Lady Lewis at Miss Berry’s request, and were published in three volumes in 1865.  1
  Miss Mary Berry was born in 1763, and was brought up with her younger sister Agnes. Neither of the two was robust, and a large part of their lives was spent traveling on the Continent in search of health. While young girls the Misses Berry became acquainted with Horace Walpole, afterwards Lord Orford, and the friendship then begun ended only with his death in 1797. The lonely old man was charmed with their good sense and simplicity, and his intercourse and correspondence with them comforted his declining years. He bequeathed his papers to Miss Berry, who edited and published them, as well as the letters of his friend Madame du Deffand. She also wrote some original works, the most important being ‘A Comparative View of Social Life in England and in France,’ in which she strongly advocated a better understanding between the two countries. She devoted herself to the serious study of events and character, and lived with her sister in modest retirement. They were long the center of a little coterie of choice spirits, and both died in 1852, beloved and lamented by the children and grandchildren of their early friends.  2
  The extracts from the journals are chiefly descriptive of Miss Berry’s travels, and are valuable as pictures of manners and customs that have changed, and of modes of travel long obsolete. But the main interest attaches to her account of the people she met, among whom were Scott, Byron, Louis Philippe, and the Duke of Wellington. She was an intimate friend of Princess Charlotte; and one of the most important papers in the collection is Lady Lindsay’s journal of the trial of Queen Caroline, written expressly for Miss Berry.  3
  The correspondence is even more interesting than the journals, and contains many of Horace Walpole’s letters hitherto unpublished. They touch lightly on political and social topics, and show his genial nature and brilliant style, as well as his unaffected devotion to the young ladies. We find several letters from Joanna Baillie and from Madame de Staël, who were both warm personal friends of Miss Berry. There are also cordial letters from Canova, Lord Jeffrey, Sydney Smith, and other celebrities. The reader owes a debt of gratitude to Miss Berry for preserving these interesting and valuable papers, and to Lady Lewis for her careful and sympathetic editorship.  4

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