The literary works of hers in which I have a direct personal interest, are a charming book of essays on Shakespeare’s female characters, entitled “Characteristics of Women,” which she did me the honor to dedicate to me; some pages of letterpress written to accompany a series of sketches John Hayter made of me in the character of Juliet; and a notice of my sister’s principal operatic performances after she came out on the stage. Mrs. Jameson at one time contemplated writing a life of my aunt Siddons, not thinking Boaden’s biography of her satisfactory; in this purpose, however, she was effectually opposed by Campbell, who had undertaken the work, and, though he exhibited neither interest nor zeal in the fulfillment of his task, doggedly (in the manger) refused to relinquish it to her. Certainly, had Mrs. Jameson carried out her intention, Mrs. Siddons would have had a monument dedicated to her memory better calculated to preserve it than those which the above-named gentlemen bestowed on her. It would have been written in a spirit of far higher artistic discrimination, and with infinitely more sympathy both with the woman and with the actress.
Late in middle life Mrs. Jameson formed an intimate acquaintance, which at one time assumed the character of a close friendship, with Lady Byron, under the influence of whose remarkable mind and character the subjects of artistic and literary interest, which had till then absorbed Mrs. Jameson’s attention and occupied her pen, gave place to others of a very different kind—those which engrossed for a time, to the exclusion of almost all others, the minds of men and women in England at the beginning of the Crimean War; when the fashion of certain forms of philanthropy set by that wonderful woman, Florence Nightingale, was making hospital nurses of idle, frivolous fine ladies, and turning into innumerable channels of newly awakened benevolence and activity—far more zealous than discreet—the love of adventure, the desire for excitement, and the desperate need of occupation, of many women who had no other qualifications for the hard and holy labors into which they flung themselves.