Grierson, Constantly

, a very extraordinary woman, (whose maiden name is nowhere mentioned), was born in the county of Kilkenny in Ireland, and married to Mr. George Grierson, printer in Dublin. She died in 1733, at the age of twenty-seven; and was allowed to be an excellent scholar, not only in Greek and Roman literature, but in history, divinity, philosophy, and mathematics. She gave a proof of her knowledge in the Latin tongue by her dedication of the Dublin edition of Tacitus to lord Carteret; and by that of Terence to his son, to whom she likewise wrote a Greek epigram. Dr. Harwood esteems her Tacitus one of the best edited books ever published. Among the editions of her husband’s press, is a very fine one of Dupin’s Ecclesiastical History, 1724, 3 vols. folio, a rare book in this country. Mrs. Grierson composed some poems in English, several of which are inserted by Mrs. Barber amongst her own. When lord Carteret was lordlieutenant of Ireland, he obtained a patent for Mr. Grierson, her husband, to be the king’s printer; and, to distinguish and reward her uncommon merit, had her life inserted in it. Besides her parts and learning, she was also a woman of great virtue and piety. Mrs. Pilkington has recorded some particulars of her, and tells us, that, “when about eighteen years of age, she was brought to her father, to be instructed in midwifery; that she was mistress of Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and French, and understood the mathematics as well as most men: and what,” says Mrs. Pilkington, “made these extraordinary talents yet more surprising was, that her parents were poor illiterate country people; so that her learning appeared like the gife poured out on the apostles, of speaking all the languages without the pains of study.” Mrs. Pilkington inquired of her, where she had gained this prodigious knowledge: to which Mrs. Grierson sail, that “she had received some little instruction from the minister of the parish, when she, | could spare time from her needle-work, to which she was closely kept by her mother.” Mrs. Pilkington adds, that “she wrote elegantly both in verse and prose; that her turn was chiefly to philosophical or divine subjects; that her piety was not inferior to her learning; and that some of the most delightful hours she herself had ever passed were in the conversation of this female philosopher.” Her son, who was also his majesty’s printer at Dublin, and instructed by her, was a man of uncommon learning, great wit, and vivacity. He died in Germany, at the age of twenty-seven. Dr. Johnson highly respected his abilities, and often observed, that he possessed more extensive knowledge than any man of his years he had ever known. His industry was equal to his talents, he particularly excelled in every species of philological learning, and was perhaps the best critic of his time. 1

1

Ballard’s Memoirs—Cibber’s Lives.—Preface to Mrs. Barber’s Peems.— Boswell’s Life of Johnson.