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indeed brought before us not merely the
• This admirable authoress has named her minor notabilities of the day, but a great most elaborate performance, “Evelina; or, a many persons whose station and talents Young Lady's Entrance into the World."", assure them an historical celebrity-King
Vol. i., p. 37. George III., Queen Charlotte, and their This assumed pleasantry is her own real family-Johnson, Burke, Sir Joshua, and view of the case, and affords indeed the text, their society-Mrs. Montague, Mrs. Thrale, Mrs. Delany, and their circles-in short
, as it were, on which the rest of the work is
a most illustrative commentary. the whole court and literary world; and all
We insist thus early, and thus strongly, in their easiest and most familiar moods :
on this extravagant egotism, not merely their words—their looks—their manners
because it is the chief feature of the book, and even their movements about the room but for the higher and more important pur-pencilled, as it would seem, with the most minute and scrupulous accuracy: but pose of doing justice to the eminent perwhen we come a little closer, and see and ish figure when thus dragged at the wheels
sons who make a very mean and very foolhear what all these eminent and illustrious of the triumphant car of Miss Burney, personages are saying and doing, we are for so we must call her, while the · Diary' not a little surprised and vexed to find them is written in that name. We know that ina wearisome congregation of monotonous and featureless prosers, brought together verting to her real and sole object-namely,
genious and sensible people, from not adfor one single object, in which they, one and
herself—bave been led to consider those all, seem occupied, as if it were the main eminent personages as responsible for all business of human life-namely, the glori- the nonsense and twaddle which she has fication of Miss Fanny Burney-her talents chosen to put into their mouths. A weekly -her taste-her sagacity-her wit—her critic, for instance, who very shrewdly demanners-her temper-her delicacy-even tected, and very adroitly exposed, the her beauty-and, above all, her modesty!
mock humility and inordinate vanity of the We really have never met anything more
diarist,' is nevertheless so far inattentive curious, nor, if it were not repeated ad
to the consequences they produce as to asnauscam, more comical, than the elaborate
sume her reports to be a true representaingenuity with which as the ancients used tion of the manners and conversation which to say that all roads led to Rome-every she describes, and to flatter himself that sotopic, from whatsoever quarter it may start, ciety now-a-days would not tolerate the is ultimately brought home to Miss Burney..commonplace mediocrity and twaddle' of There can be, of course, no autobiography Johnson and Burke,' or the enormous prewithout egotism; "and though the best tensions and vulgarity of Mrs Montague, works of this class are those in which self Miss Carter, and Hannah More.' We do is the most successfully disguised, it must not deny the existence of the mediocrity' always be the main ingredient. We there and vulgarity' attributed to those eminent fore expected, and, indeed, were very willing, that Miss Burney should tell us a great of countenance in every page : but we
persons by Miss Burney; they stare us out deal about herself; but what we did not
very much wonder that any attentive reader, candidly add, disgusts us, is to find that she and above all one whose appreciation of the candidly add, disgusts us, is to find that she author is otherwise so just, should not see sees nothiug beyond the tips of her own that the twaddle' and vulgarity are Miss fingers, and considers all the rest of man Burney's own; and that her natural propenand womankind as mere satellites of that
sity to those defects (of which there are innugreat luminary of the age, the author of Erclina.' In fact, the first sentence of her merable other proofs) is mainly assisted by
Erclina. In fact, the first sentence of her her affecting, in the true jog-trot of a novel‘Diary,' though no doubt meant to pass for
writer, to give, verbatim, all the details of a modest irony, turns out to be a mere mat
long conversations-sometimes many days ter-of-fact expression of her true senti-old which the readiest pen and the quickments:-
est apprehension could not have done even
on the instant. 'Part I. 1778. This year was ushered in by a grand and most important event! At the lat In truth nothing can be so vapid as that ter end of January, the literary world was fa- mode of reporting conversation must inevivoured with the first publication of the inge- tably be, even in the cleverest hands. Bosnious, learned, and most profound Fanny Burney! well, the best and most graphic of narraI doubt not but this memorable affair will, in future times, mark the period whence chronolo
* Athenæum, 23d April, 1842. The description gers will date the zenith of the polite arts in this of Miss Burney's style and character in thai artiisland.
cle is very clever and just.
tors, never attempts so hopeless a task for | remarking how very like Dr. Johnson is to his above two or three consecutive paragraphs, rvriting; and how much the same thing it was but more commonly contents himself with to hear or to read him; but that nobody could preserving the general spirit of the discourse language was generally imagined to be laboured
tell that without coming to Streatham, for his -catching here and there the most striking and studied, instead of the mere common flow of expressions, and now and then venturing to his thoughts. mark an emphasis or an attitude. A clever
““Very true,” said Mrs. Thrale, “he writes artist may
sketch a very lively likeness of a and talks with the same ease, and in the same countenance which he has only seen en pas- manner; but Sir, [to him,] if this rogue is like sant, but if he were to attempt-in the ab. ber book, how will she trim all of us by and by!
Now she dainties us up with all the meekness sence of the object—to fill the outline
up with all the little details of form and colour, she pays us off' finely."
in the world; but when we are away, I suppose he would find that his efforts only diminish
My paying off,” cried I, “is like the Latin ed the spirit and impaired the resemblance. of Hudibras, So it is of reporting public speeches--and so
-who never scanted still more of reporting conversations. But
His learning unto such as wanted;' even if Miss Burney had had more of Bos- for I can figure like anything when I am with well's happy knack, it would not have much those who can't figure at all.”
• Mrs. T.-Oh, if you have any mag in you, mended the matter, for her sole and exclu
we'll draw it out! sive object was—not to relate what Burke
• Dr. J.-A rogue! she told me that, if she or Johnson, or anybody else should say on
was somebody instead of nobody, she would general subjects, but what flattering things praise my book ! they said about Fanny Burney. The re *F. B.-Why, Sir, I am sure you would scoff sult is, that we have little amusement and my praise. less faith in the details of those elaborate
you think that, you think very ill dialogues, which occupy, we believe, more
of me; but you don't think it, than half her volumes—their very minute - Miss More, and I believe that makes her afraid.
• Mrs. T.--We have told her what you said to ness and elaboration sufficiently prove that * Dr. J.-Well, and if she was to serve me as they cannot be authentic; and they are, Miss More did, I should say the same thing to moreover, trivial and wearisome beyond all her. But I think she will not. Hannah More patience. How -we will not say, the au- has very good intellects, too; but she has by no thor of Evelina' and · Cecilia,' but-how means the elegance of Miss Burney.
* Well," cried I, * there are folks that are to any person of the most ordinary degree of taste and talents could have wasted time well in the world as in the nursery: but what
be spoilt, and folks that are not to be spoilt, as and paper
in making such a much ado about will become of me I know not." nothing we cannot conceive; nor did we • Mrs. T.-Well, if you are spoilt, we can till we had read this book-imagine that only say, nothing in the world is so pleasant as real life and proper names could by any being spoilt. maladresse of a narrator be made so insuf • Dr. J.--No, no; Burney will not be spoilt: ferably flat, stale, and unprofitable. The she knows too well what praise she has a claim to, severity of this judgment obliges us to jus- and what not, to be in any danger of spoiling. tify it by some examples
. We are well spoilt at Streatham, for it is the last place where aware that they will appear tedious and I can feel of any consequence.
our Miss Burney, we had spared them such wearisome ex- however; we were the first to catch her, and tracts ; but there is really no other way of now. we have got, we will keep her. And so giving them a tolerable idea of the book, she is all our own. and when we have the misfortune to think
• Dr. J.-Yes, I hope she is; I should be very
sorry to lose Miss Burney. unfavourably of a work, we are anxious to
É. B.--Oh dear! how can two such people allow it, as much as possible, to speak for sit and talk such itself:
* Mrs. T. Such stuff, you think? but Dr John
son's love· Wednesday (at Streatham.]At breakfast, • Dr. J.--Love? no I don't entirely love her Dr. Johnson asked me if I had been reading his yet; I must see more of her first; I have much “Life of Cowley ?"
too high an opinion of her to flatter her. I ““() yes,” said I.
have, indeed, seen nothing of her but what is "" And what do you think of it ?"
fit to be loved, but I must know her more. 1 “I am delighted with it," cried I; “ and if admire her, and greatly too. I was somebody, instead of nobody, I should 'F. B.- Well, ihis is a very new style to me! not have read it without telling you sooner what I have long enough had reason to think myself I think of it, and unasked.”
loved, but admiration is perfectly new to me. Again, when I took up Cowley's Life, he • Dr. J.-I admire her for her observation, for made me put it away to talk. I could not help her good sense, for her humour, for her discern
ment, for her manner of expressing them, and write a comedy,-she has 'promised me she for all her writing talents.'-Vol. i., pp. 120-122. will!
both run on in this manSuch is the amabæan trash--the vitulâ tu ner, I shalldignus et hic style-in which the author of "I was going to say get under the chair, but Evelina' sings her own praises in the Mr. Sheridan, interrupting me with a laugh,
said, names of the sage Johnson and the lively
«« Set about one? very well, that's right!" Thrale—anything less sage or less lively
"“Ay," cried Sir Joshua, “ that's very right. we can hardly conceive. Now let us see And you (to Mr. Sheridan) would take anything how she deals with the amiable Reynolds of hers, would you not ?—unsight, unseen ?" and the brilliant Sheridan:
“What a point-blank question! who but Sir
Joshua would have ventured it! Some time after, Sir Joshua, returning to his
Yes," answered Mr. Sheridan, with quickstanding-place, entered into confab (!) with Miss pess, “and make her a bow and my best thanks Linley and your slave, upon various matters, du- into the bargain." ring which Mr. Sheridan, joining us, said, • Now, my dear Susy, tell me, did you ever
-“Sir Joshua, I have been telling Miss Burney hear the fellow to such a speech as this ?-it that she must not suffer her pen to lie idle - was all I could do to sit it. (!) ought she ?"
6“ Mr. Sheridan,” I exclaimed, “are you not Sir Joshua.—No, indeed, ought she not. mocking me ?”'— Vol i., p. 187-189.
• Mr. Sheridan.-Do you, then, Sir Joshua, persuade her. But perhaps you have begun And so, from every conversation that something? May we ask? Will you answer happens in her presence, her industrious a question candidly?
vanity extracts—we were going to say F. B.—I don't know, but as candidly as Mrs. honey—but treacle, though it spoils the Candour I think I certainly shall.
* Mr. Sheridan. What, then, are you about metaphor, is the more appropriate term. now?
Even when a person says nothing, she con•F. B.--Why, twirling my fan, I think.
strues his very silence into an expression * Mr. Sheridan.—No, no, but what are you of admiration so great as to amount to awe. about at home? However, it is not a fair ques. Witness her first interview with Arthur tion, so I won't press it.
Murphy :• Yet he looked very inquisitive; but I was glad to get off without any downright answer.
"Now I must try to be rather more minute. *Sir Joshua.—Anything in the dialogue way, on Thursday, while my dear father was here, I think, she must succeed in; and I am sure in- who should be announced but Mr. Murphy; the vention will not be wanting. * Mr. Sheridan.—No, indeed; I think, and
man of all other strangers to me whom I most
longed to see? . say, she should write a comedy. "Sir Joshua.—I am sure I think so; and hope Thrale, and had gone through the reception
• When he had been welcomed by Mrs. she will. "I could only answer by incredulous exclama- Thrale, advancing to me, said,
salutations of Dr. Johnson and my father, Mrs. tions. •“ Consider,' continued Sir Joshua, “ you have Mr. Murphy; here is another F. B.”
"" But here is a lady I must introduce to you, already had all the applause and fame you can have given you in the closet ; but the acclama- this a sister of Miss Brown's ?
• “Indeed!” cried he, taking my hand, “is tion of a theatre will be new to you.”
No, no: this is Miss Burney." • And then he put down his trumpet, and be
6« What !” cried he, staring, " is this is this gan a violent clapping of hands.
'I actually shook from head to foot! I felt --this is not the lady that-thatmyself already in Drury Lane, amidst the hub
Yes, but it is,” answered she, laughing bub of a first night.
" "No, you don't say so ? You don't mean the *“Oh, no!" cried I, “there may be a noise,
lady that but it will be just the reverse.” And I returned
Yes, yes, I do; no less a lady, I assure his salute with a hissing.
you." • Mr. Sheridan joined Sir Joshua very our of seeing me; and I sneaked away.'-Vol.
• He then said he was very glad of the honwarmly.
""Oh, Sir!” cried I, “you should not run on 50,-you don't know what mischief you may do!"
No less than nine pages are expended in * Mr. Sheridan.—I wish I may—I shall be an account of her reception at one of Sir very glad to be accessory.
Joshua's evening parties, in which a lively Sir Joshua.—She has, certainly, something lady of the day, Mrs. Cholmondeley, is inof a knack of characters ;-where she got it Itroduced as bearing a prominent part, but, don't know, and how she got it I can't imag: like everybody else-all to the ultimate honine; but she certainly has it. And to throw it away is
our of Fanny Burney. We select, asa further * Mr. Sheridan.-Oh, she won't she will specimen, two pages out of the nine :
i. p., 195.
• Mrs. Chol.-1 have been very ill; monstrous | of the shists in which her exuberant vanity, ill indeed! or else I should have been at your disguises itself. The journal went the house long ago. Sir Joshua, pray how do you round of her own domesiic circle, and was do? You know, I suppose, that I don't come to then regulariy transnitted to Mr. Crisp see you?
"Sir Joshua could only laugh; though this and his coterie at Chessington*—and afterwas her first address to him.
wards to Mr. and Mrs. Lock of Norbury * Mrs. Chol. —Pray, miss, what's your name? Park, and we know not whom else—and it F. B.-Frances, ma'am,
seems, beyond all doubt, to have been preMrs. Chol.Fanny? Well, all the Fannys pared and left by her for ultimate publicaare excellent! and yet,--my name is Mary!tion. Strange blindness to imagine that you?-though I hardly know if I shall speak anything like fame was to be gathered from to you to-night. I thought I should never have this deplorable exhibition of mock-modesty, goi here! I have been so out of humour with endeavouring to conceal, but only the more the people for keeping me. “If you but knew,” flagrantly exposing, the boldest, the most cried I, " to whom I am going 10-night, and horse-leech egotism that literature or Bedwho I shall see to-night [i. e. Fanny Burney); lam has yet exhibited. you would not dare to keep me muzzing here!"
If indeed—which would be a charitable During all these pointed speeches her pene: but hardly credible explanation-she was trating eyes were fixed upon me; and what could I do?--what, indeed, could anybody do herself under a delusion as to her feelings but colour and simper ?--all the company watch and motives—if she really mistook the itching us, though all very delicately avoided join- ings of vanity for the tremors of diffidenceing the confab.
it would only remind us of what she herself Mrs. Chol.—My Lord Palmerston, I was said of poor mad Barry, the painter-that told to-night that nobody could see your lord
with an innocent belief that he was the ship for me, for that you supped at my
house every night? “Dear, bless me, no!” cried 1, most modest of mex, he nourished the most “not every night !" and I looked as confused as insatiable avidity for applause.' In menI was able; but I am afraid I did not blush, tioning a Dr. Shepherd, one of the canons though I tried hard for it!
of Windsor, she says, “In no farce did a Then, again, turning ic me, [F. B.] man ever more floridly open upon his own
““That Mr. What-d’ye-call him, in Fleet- perfections,” (vol. iii., p. 436 ;) and we may street, is a mighty silly fellow ; perhaps you safely say that in no farce did man or wodon't know who I mean ?-one T. Lowndes, [the printer of · Evelina.')—but maybe you fections as Miss Burney; and assuredly
man ever so floridly open on their own perdon't know such a person ?"
F. B.-No indeed, I do not ! that I can safe. neither Barry, nor Shepherd, nor any other ly say.
glutton of fummery that we have ever Mrs Chol.-I could get nothing from him; heard of, could manage to feed themselves but I told him I hoped he gave a good price; and with their own spoons with such appetite and he answered me, that he always did things activity as the author of Evelina.' Dr. genteel. What trouble and tagging we had ! Mr. (I cannot recollect the name she men
Johnson has said of another celebrated tioned) laid a wager the writer was a man :
- I novelist, Sir, that fellow, Richardson, was said I was sure it was a woman; but now we not content to sail quietly down the stream are both out; for it is a girl!
of reputation, without longing to taste the * In this comical, queer, flighty, whimsical | froth from every stroke of the oar.'.
But manner she ran on, till we were summoned to Richardson never thought of the happy supper; for we were not allowed to break up before; and then, when Sir Joshua and almost process by which Miss Burney conducted
her everybody was gone down stairs, she changed
system of self-adoration, and which we her tone, and, with a face and voice both grave, really think the cleverest trait in her whole said,
history. It was no easy task to reconcile Well, Miss Burney, you must give me and carry on; pari passu, the pretension of leave to say one thing to you; yet, perhaps you modesty and the cravings of vanity; but won't, neither, will you ?''
her device, if not successful, is at least in""What is it, ma'am ?"
genious--she never, "“Why it is that I admire you more than
in her own proper per: any human being! and that I can't help."
son, very directly or outrageously praises Then, suddenly rising, she hurried down Fanny Burney--she never absolutely says stairs.'—Vol. i., pp. 174-176.
'I am the cleverest writer. I am the most
amiable woman in the world'-on the conIf all this egotism had been, as it pro. uine modesty of a newly-elected Speaker
trary, she humbles herself with all the genfesses, intended for the confidential eye of but then, on the other hand, she thinks it a sister, it would have been in some degree her duty, as a mere historian and relater of excusable : but it was not so; and the pretence of its being so inteuded is but another
* See Quarterly Review, vol xlix.
facts, to record, in the most conscientious | result from long experience, and deep and intidetail, all the panegyrics and compliments, mate knowledge of the world; yet it has been however extravagant, which anybody and
written without either. Miss Burney is a real
wonder. What she is, she is intuitively. Dr. everybody might address her. Dear Dr.
Burney told me she had had the fewest advanJohnson pronounced that F. B. was the
tages of any of his daughters, from some pecuclererest writer that ever lived ;' Sweet Mrs. liar circumstances. And such has been her Thrale exclaimed that F. B. was the most timidity, that he himself had not any suspicion charming girl in the world;' and then hav- of her powers.” ing sucked in all these sugared details with
““Her modesty," said Mrs. Thrale (as she undisguisable relish, F. B. thinks it decent told me,)“ is really beyond bounds. (!!!) It quite to blush, to stammer, to tremble, to fall into provokes me. And, in fact, I can never make
out how the mind that could write that book hysterics of wounded modesty, and to could be ignorant of its value." bewail to her confidants the intolerable
That, madam, is another wonder,"answertorture ; the eternal martyrdom of that ed my dear, dear Dr. Johnson, “ for modesty universal admiration and worship to which with her is neither pretence nor decorum; 'tis an she, poor victim, is thus reluctantly ex- ingredient of her nature; for she who could posed. Even after what we have said, the part with such a work for iwenty pounds, could
know so little of its worth, or of her own, as to following specimen of humility will, we leave no possible doubt of her humility."--vol. i, think, startle our readers, and it is the more
pp. 235, 236. remarkable, because it forces into notice another feature of her vanity, which, we in repeating these hyperboles is nearly on
The 'good sense of that'sweet woman' should have supposed, Miss Burney, instead
a par with the 'modesty and humility' of the of recording, would have been equally writer, who, let it never be forgotten, not anxious to obliterate from her own memo- only circulated them amongst her friends at ry, and from that of others :
the time, but bequeathed them to the won• And now I cannot resist telling you of a dis- while, that the main point of Dr. Johnson's
der of posterity; though conscious, all the pute which Dr. Johnson had with Mrs. Thrale, admiration-namely, the extreme youth of sweet woman had the honesty and good sense (!) the author-was an elaborate deception on to iell me. Dr. Johnson was talking to her and the part of herself and her friends. We Sir Philip Jennings of the amazing progress beg leave to refer to our former article on made of late years in literature by the women. Madame D'Arblay's Memoirs of her FaHe said he was himself astonished at it, and ther,'* for the details of this maneuvring : told them he well remembered when a woman suffice it here to repeat that it was at the who could spell a common letter was regarded as all-accomplished; but now they vied with outset represented that Evelina was the ihe men in everything:
work of a girl of serenteen-very shy-re * “I think, Sír," said my friend Sir Philip, markably backward-and hardly yet emerg“the young lady we have here is a very extra- ed from the school-room ;—that it was writordinary proof of what you say."
ten and printed by stealth, as a mere child"So extraordinary, Sir," answered he," that ish frolic-unknown to her father, and even I know none like her, "-—nor do I believe there is unscen by herself, until, after the lapse of six or there ever was, a man who could write such a book so young
months, its immense success forced it upon
their notice. • They both stared-no wonder, I am sure !
All this was very surprising, -and Sir Philip said,
but it was so confidently asserted, that no ““What do you think of Pope, Sir? could not
one we believe doubted its truth, till MaPope have written such a one?"
dame D'Arblay began her career of selfNay, nay,” cried Mrs. Thrale, “there is no adulation, in the 'Nemoirs of her Father.' need to talk of Pope; a book may be a clever | Here it was observed that while repeating, book, and an extraordinary book, and yet not with many heightening circumstances, the want a Pope for its author. I suppose he was no older than Miss Burney when he wrote Wind- previous story of her extreme youth when sor Forest; '-—[Pope is said to have written `Evelina’ was published, she involved in * Windsor Foresi' ai 16,1-and I suppose Wind studied obscurity not merely the time of sor Forest' is equal to ‘Evelina !'”
her own birth, but every other date and «“Windsor Forest,” repeated Dr. Johnson, circumstance which could directly or in “though so delightful a poem, by no means directly tend to ascertain it. This strange required the knowledge of life and manners, nor silence on the most remarkable peculiarity the accuracy of observation, nor the skill of pen- of her whole story excited, at first curiosity, etration, necessary for composing such a work as · Evelina :' he who could ever write Wind | and afterwards suspicion, and at length it sor Forest might as well write it young as old. I was with some difficulty ascertained by the Poetical abilities require not age to mature shem; but · Evelina' seems a work that should
Quarterly Review, vol. xlix.