An Old Friend of Sir Walter’s

by Steve Hartshorne on February 17, 2011

The Dandie Dinmont, named for a jovial farmer in Sir Walter Scott's novel Guy Mannering, is the only breed of dog to be named after a fictional character.

Mrs. Henry Adams, nee Marian ‘Clover’ Hooper is said to be the inspiration for Henry James’ Daisy Miller and Portait of a Lady. I may have to go out and read these books. Here’s an excerpt from a letter to her dad in 1879:

“”On Sunday we had a dinner of ten at the Gaskells’. One guest, a curious old Miss Mildmay, near eighty years I should judge, snow-white hair, partly age, partly powder; violet satin gown with black lace, and the ways of an old belle; bored with women, but rising to masculine devotion.

“Henry and Mr. Gaskell flirted madly with her after dinner, and I sat by to listen. She was very intimate with [Sir Walter] Scott, who had sent her a Dandie Dinmont from Abbotsford. Knew ‘Tommy’ [Sir Thomas] Moore, as she called him, by heart; had heard him sing all his songs.

“Had been an intimate of the Miss Berrys’ house [English authoress Mary Berry and her sister Alice, pals of Sir Horace Walpole], who had a light over their front door at their evenings when there were ‘too many women,’ as a beacon to others who might come. The ‘Elder Berry’ was very bright, but the younger ‘we called Gooseberry.’

“When a woman has been in fashionable society in London for sixty years, by proper handling one can get a good deal from her. As she left , she begged me in a most flattering manner to call on her in the morning ‘early’ — all of which was owing to Henry’s flirtatious insinuations, but I shall surely follow up the trail.”

Wait a minute. “Flirtatious insinuations” from Henry Adams? Have you ever read The Education of Henry Adams? This is the stodgiest, most boring guy who ever walked the earth. As I noted before, this book opens up a whole new page of history.

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