But perhaps the most faithful picture of her is conveyed in this brief sentence from Scott’s diary, who describes her
“As a gifted personage, having, besides her great talents, conversation the least exigeante of any author-female, at least, whom I have ever seen among the long list I have encountered; simple, full of humour, and exceedingly ready at repartee, and all this without the least affectation of the blue-stocking.”
From the natural modesty of her character she had a great dislike to her biography, or memorial of her in any shape, being written, for she destroyed all letters that might have been used for such a purpose, publicity of any kind being most distasteful to her, evidence of which is very clearly shown in the first part of this narrative. The chief secret of her success as a novelist (setting aside her great genius) was the great care and time she bestowed on the formation of each novel—an interval of six years occurring between each, the result being delineations of character that are unique.
Unfortunately there is little to relate regarding her childhood, that most interesting period of human existence in the lives of (and which is generally distinguished by some uncommon traits of character) people of genius—save that she had for a school companion and playfellow the late Lord Brougham, the distinguished statesman; she was remarkable also for her power of mimicry. An amusing anecdote of this rather dangerous gift is the following: Her brothers and sisters returned home from a ball, very hungry, and entered her room, where they supposed she lay asleep, and, while discussing the events of the evening and the repast they had procured by stealth (unknown to their father), they were suddenly put to flight by the sounds and voice, as they thought, of their dreaded parent ascending the stairs, and in their confusion and exit from the room overturned chairs and tables, much to the amusement of little Susan, who, no doubt, enjoyed the fright and commotion she had caused, and who mimicked under the cover of the bedclothes the accents of her redoubtable parent—a fit punishment, as she thought, for their ruthless invasion of her chamber, and their not offering her a share of their supper. An old Miss Peggy Campbell (sister to Sir Islay Campbell, President of the Court of Session) was also taken off by her, and so like that her father actually came into the room, where she was amusing her hearers, thinking that Miss Campbell was really present. When she died a blank was left in her native city that has not been since filled, the modern Athens having somewhat deteriorated in the wit, learning, and refinement that so distinguished her in the days that are gone.
 Reprinted from the Temple Bar Magazine for February 1874.
By SUSAN EDMONSTONE FERRIER,