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to her family. She was a most active housekeeper, never neglecting, in the least particular, any of those offices, which belonged to her station as the head of a family. Of course, her time for reading was necessarily brief, unless she devoted to this exercise the hours which are usually appropriated to repose. She adopted the latter alternative, and for the last forty years of her life, was accustomed, every night, after all her family had retired, to remain several hours engaged in study. She never retired until twelve, and often not until two, or three o'clock.
Endowed by nature with an ardent and lively imagination, she early imbibed a keen relish for the beauties of polite literature, and devoted much time to such pursuits. When the Port Folio was established by Dennie in 1800, she was one of the literary circle with which he associated, and to whose pens, that work was indebted for its celebrity. Mr. Dennie did not write much himself; his essays under the title of the “ Lay Preacher," constitute the largest portion of his labours. He had the talents of an editor, but wanted the industry, and the laborious habits necessary to make an original writer. He had a delicate perception of
the beautiful, in sentiment and style, and selected from the writings of others with great taste. His wit, his gentlemanly character, and companionable qualities, procured him many friends; and it became fashionable to write for his miscellany. Philadelphia was at that time, the Athens of America. Elegant literature was more successfully cultivated here, than in any other part of the Union. To write for the Port Folio was considered no small honour; and to be among the favoured correspondents of Mr. Dennie, was a distinction of some value, where the competitors were so numerous, and so highly gifted; for among the writers for that work, were a number of gentlemen, who have since filled the most exalted stations in the Federal government, both in the cabinet, and on the bench, and who have, in various ways, reaped the highest rewards of patriotism, and genius. Had the editor of that work displayed a judgment, equal to his acknowledged taste and genius, it might have long continued to exert a salutary influence upon our literature. But such was not the case. The flowers of literature, and the bitter fruits of party dissention, can never be made to flourish upon the same tree. The
sprightly effusions of Dennie, and his associates, were read with universal admiration, and the circulation of the Port Folio, at its commencement, was probably more extensive, than that of any similar work has ever been in the United States. But the political factions of that day were arrayed in violent hostility, and the party writings were personal and vindictive. By throwing open the pages of his miscellany, to productions of this character, Mr. Dennie provoked the hostility of a large and increasing party;the Port Folio and its writers were assailed in the political presses, and the wits and scholars soon began to retire from the turmoil. Some of the most sprightly essays, and pointed criticisms, which appeared in this paper, at the time of its greatest popularity, were from the pen of Mrs. Hall.
Her talents for conversation were very considerable. With a fund of knowledge, with all that elegance and delicacy of thought which so peculiarly belong to the educated female, and with a flow of spirits which forsook her not under the severest trials, she had wit, humour, and a remarkable copiousness and felicity of language. But the greatest charm of her conversation was its simplicity and ease. It was without effort or ostentation; and was the natural effusion of a vigorous but playful mind, and of a liberal, benevolent, and truly pious heart. It was indeed a rich repast, charming the most careless hearer by its gaiety and gracefulness, and attracting the most serious by the treasures of profound and original thought, with which it was always enriched. We know of nothing more eloquent than the conversation of such a woman; nothing that wins, and touches, and elevates the heart, like that pure flow of thought which results from extensive and accurate knowledge, chastened by sincere religion, and adorned with those nameless and numberless charms which spring from female delicacy and propriety.
Nor was this a useless talent. She felt her re. sponsibility. She knew the value of that influence which a highly gifted female exerts upon those around her, and especially upon her children. None better understood the truth that for every idle word she must render an account hereafter; no one ever gave a more liberal, or a more practically beneficial construction, to that precept. Her religion had none of that severity which would banish innocen festivity, restrain the graceful play of the
imagination, or proscribe the indulgence of a cultivated taste. But it taught her to mingle instruction with amusement, and to ascribe praise to the Giver of all good, for every enjoyment, as well as for every affliction, which marked the days of her pilgrimage. Her young friends always loved to visit her; because, even at the age of threescore, wit and cheerfulness and kindness, were mingled with the results of her reading and experience. She never spoke of herself with praise, or of others with asperity; but was always finding excuses for those who did wrong, while she maintained her own opinions with a modesty, and estimated her own conduct with a humility, and an absence of pretension, that displayed a true greatness of mind.
While her children were young, it was her practice to allure their minds to study, by such conversation as would awaken curiosity, and give a proper direction to the taste, the judgment, and the heart. It was not her plan to direct their choice of subjects, in reading, by coercion, but to instil into them such principles, as would induce them, of themselves to make the proper selection. “What are you reading? what is it about? will