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Miscellanea   By: (1841-1885)

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SOCIETY FOR PROMOTING CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE, London: Northumberland Avenue, W.C. 43, Queen Victoria Street, E.C. Brighton: 129, North Street. New York: E. & J.B. YOUNG & CO.

[Published under the direction of the General Literature Committee.]


The contents of this volume are republished in order to make the Edition a complete collection of Mrs. Ewing's works, rather than because of their intrinsic worth. The fact that she did not republish the papers during her life shows that she did not estimate them very highly herself; but as each one has a special interest connected with it, I feel I am not violating her wishes in bringing the collection before the public.

One of Mrs. Ewing's strongest gifts was her power of mimicry; this made her an actor above the average of amateurs, and also enabled her to imitate any special style of writing that she wished. The first four stories in this volume are instances of this power. The Mystery of the Bloody Hand was an attempt to vie with some of the early sensational novels, such as Lady Audley's Secret and The Moonstone ; tales in which a glimpse of the supernatural is introduced amongst scenes of every day life.

During my sister's girlhood we had a family MS. Magazine (as our Mother had done in her young days), and two of the stories in Mrs. Gatty's "Aunt Judy's Letters," The Flatlands Fun Gazette and The Black Bag , were founded on this custom, Mrs. Ewing being the typical "Aunt Judy" of the book. Mrs. Gatty described how the children were called upon each to contribute a tale for The Black Bag , and how No. 5 remonstrated by saying "I've been sitting over the fire this evening trying to think, but what could come, with only the coals and the fire place before one to look at? I dare say neither Hans Andersen nor Grimm nor any of those fellows would have written anything, if they had not gone about into caves and forests and those sort of places, or boated in the North Seas!" Aunt Judy replied that she also had been looking into the fire, and the longer she did so, the more she decided "that Hans Andersen was not beholden to caves or forests or any curious things or people for his story telling inspirations"; but as it was difficult for the "little ones" to write she enclosed three tales as "jokes, imitations, in fact, of the Andersenian power of spinning gold threads out of old tow ropes." So far this was Mrs. Gatty's own writing, but the three tales were the work of the real Aunt Judy, Mrs. Ewing herself. These three are (1) The Smut , (2) The Crick , (3) The Brothers . The last sentence in The Brothers recalls the last entry in Mrs. Ewing's commonplace book, which is quoted in her Life "If we still love those we lose, can we altogether lose those we love?"

Cousin Peregrine's Wonder Stories and Traveller's Tales were written after Mrs. Ewing's marriage, with the help of her husband; he supplied the facts and descriptions from things which he had seen during his long residence abroad. Colonel Ewing also helped my sister in translating the Tales of the Khoja from the Turkish. The illustrations now reproduced were drawn by our brother, Alfred Scott Gatty.

In Little Woods and May Day Customs Mrs. Ewing showed her ready ability to take up any subject of interest that came under her notice botany, horticulture, archæology, folk lore, or whatever it might be. The same readiness was shown in her adaptation of the various versions of the Mumming Play , or The Peace Egg .

In Memoriam was written under considerable restraint soon after our Mother's death. My sister knew that she did not wish her biography to be written, but still it was impossible to let the originator and editor of Aunt Judy's Magazine pass away without some little record being given to the many children who loved her writings. In Ecclesfield Church there is a tablet erected to Mrs. Gatty's memory by one thousand children, who each contributed sixpence... Continue reading book >>

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