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vese-Guards, Dot do this bus vol. ii., Pi Dr. Burney: be
made may have I know not;- but I do not think any Treasury will rescind it.
“ This was pour faire la bonne bouche at parting with office; and I am only sorry that it did not fall in my way to show you a more substantial mark of my high respect for you and Miss Burney.
60s I have the honour to be, &c. EDM. BURKE. í 6" Horse-Guards, Dec. 9, 1783.
"" I really could not do this business at a more early period, else it would have been done infallibly.”—vol. ii., p. 374.
From this period there is little to tell of Dr. Burney, but that little is told by his daughter in a style which must not be altogether suppressed. The year 1784, which was brightened at its commencement by Mr. Burke's bounty, was to be shaded towards its close ' by a fearful and calamitous event, that made the falling leaves of its autumn corrosively sepulchral to Dr. Burney.'- vol. ii., p. 347.
Mr. Bewley, an old friend of his, (immortalised in Boswell for the reverence with which he accepted and preserved, as a memorial of Dr. Johnson, some cuttings of a hearth broom which Burney had transmitted to him,) paid him a visit in St. Martin's Street-but he brought with him 'an occult disease, which for many years had been preying upon the constitution of the too patient philosopher, and began more roughly to ravage his debilitating frame : the excess of his pains, with whatever fortitude they were borne, forced him from his Stoic endurance, by dismembering it, through bodily torture, from the palliations of intellectual occupation.'--p. 348.
Poor Mr. Bewley died under his friend's roof, and after this harrowing loss, Dr. Burney again returned to melancholy Chesington; but still its inmate—to his soothingly reviving Susanna.' -P. 353.
This lady, his third daughter, the wife of Mr. Phillips, was soon to be a source of affliction to her father, by an event of which, but for the grandiloquence of her sister, we should have thought very slightly.
• Bright again, with smiling success and gay prosperity, was this period to Dr. Burney ; but not more bright than brittle! for, almost at its height, its serenity was broken by a stroke that rent it asunder! —a wound that never could be healed!
• The peculiar darling of the whole house of Dr. Burney, as well as of his heart; whose presence always exhilarated, or whose absence saddened every branch of it, his daughter Susanna, was called, by inevitable circumstances, from his paternal embraces and fond society, to accompany her husband and children upon indispensable business to Ireland.'-vol. iii. p. 219. A visit to Ireland, even in 1796, hardly deserved such pathetic notice; but a more serious event followed.
· And not here ended the sharp reverse of this altered year; scarcely had this harrowing. filial separation taken place, ere an assault was made upon his conjugal feelings, by the sudden-at-the-momentthough-from-lingering-illnesses-often-previously-expected death of Mrs. Burney, his second wife.'—p. 223.
Here we have again taken the liberty of putting hyphens between the component parts of an adjective phrase. This last specimen is, as far as we recollect, the longest in the language, and so great a curiosity in its kind, that it would be unpardonable not to recommend it to the special attention of our readers.
. At last we arrive at a scene which Madame D'Arblay, much to the credit of her heart, describes in language more simple and natural than she has employed on any other occasion. The good old Doctor himself died in April 1814, terminating by a Christian death a blameless and honourable life. Of this life we confess we should be glad to see some more distinct, intelligible, and orderly account than that now before us : which, besides the errors of style which are so ridiculous, and a want of arrangement which is exceedingly perplexing, has also the more serious fault of being anything rather than a history of the life and writings of Dr. Burney. Madame d'Arblay gives a hint that the original correspondence of Dr. Burney is destined to the flames, and it is not clear that his original memoirs are not threatened with a similar fate. We venture to entreat that this design may not be executed; the extracts from his own pen are certainly, as we have already said, the most satisfactory parts of these volumes, and without rating very highly the importance of the history of Dr. Burney to the general literature of the country, we think the public would be glad to see a good life of him; and if his own materials can afford such a narrative, so much the better. Madame d'Arblay's book has certainly not occupied this ground, and instead of being called "Memoirs of Dr. Burney,' might better be described as "Scattered Recollections of Miss Fanny Burney and her Acquaintance. Of her father she tells almost nothing that was not already to be found in the obituary of the Gentleman's Magazine and other biographies; and she does not even notice three or four musical works, which we learn from those authorities he composed—a strange omission in the Memoirs of a musical professor.
This leads us to a second part of our task-namely, to give some account of what appears to us the real object of the work ; and if we have covered half-a-dozen pages without touching on that essential subject, it is because Madame d’Arblay, with consummate art-or a confusion of ideas which has had the same effect as consummate art,-conceals from her readers, and perhaps
untry, wend if his own ame d'Arblay of
has thie largers in other jointsuppressed Lography she hady should winderstood. Ser share) ha joint-stock ssed and they
urs Ward shile style
from herself, that it is her own Memoirs, and not those of her father that she has been writing; and we confess that we have a strong suspicion, that it was because her father's auto-biography did not fulfil this object, that it has been suppressed and this joint-stock history (in which, as in other joint-stock concerns, the managing partner has the larger share) has been substituted for it. Let us not be misunderstood. We do not complain that Madame d'Arblay should write her own Memoirs ; on the contrary, we wish she had done so in her own original style, instead of perplexing the reader with all those awkward shifts and circumlocutions, by which her modesty labours to conceal that she is writing her own life, and making her father's memory, as it were, carry double. Very ludicrous indeed are the shifts by which she contrives to pin herself to his skirts, and still more so the awkward diffidence, the assumed mauvaise honte, with which, to avoid speaking in the first person, she designates herself by such circumlocutions as
this memorialist;' or 'the present editor ;' or the Doctor's second daughter;' or when, after her marriage, she retired to a cottage in Surrey, 'the happy recluse ;', or, finally, by the more compound designation of the-then-Bookham-and-afterwardsWest-Hamble-female hermit.' (vol. iii., p. 235.)
We must now revert to the suspicion which we have before expressed, that a little literary vanity has occasioned the remarkable suppression of dates in the earlier portion of these Memoirs; and this leads us to the extraordinary and interesting account of Madame d’Arblay's first appearance in the literary world. At the age of seventeen, as we have always seen and heard it stated, Miss Fanny Burney--without the knowledge of her fatherwithout any suspicion on the part of her family and friends that she had any literary turn or capacity whatsoever-published anonymously her celebrated novel of Evelina, or a Young Lady's Entrance into the World ; which emerged at once into popularity, raised its youthful author, as soon as she avowed it, to a brilliant reputation, and recommended her to the admira. tion and friendship of some of the most considerable men of the age. We extract her father's account of this remarkable circumstance :
• The literary history of my second daughter, Fanny, now Madame d'Arblay, is singular. She was wholly unnoticed in the nursery for any talents or quickness of study ; indeed, at eight years old she did not know her letters ; and her brother, the tar, who in his boyhood had a natural genius for hoaxing, used to pretend to teach her to read; and gave her a book topsy-turvy, which he said she never found out! She had, however, a great deal of invention and humour in her childish sports ; and used, after having seen a play in Mrs. Garrick's box, to take the actors off, and compose speeches for their characters;
Mithout any, literate brated,
for she could not read them. But in company, or before strangers, she was silent, backward, and timid, even to sheepishness: and, from her shyness, had such profound gravity and composure of features, that those of my friends who came often to my house, and entered into the different humours of the children, never called Fanny by any other name, from the time she had reached her eleventh year, than The Old Lady.
Her first work, Evelina, was written by stealth, in a closet up two pair of stairs, that was appropriated to the younger children as a playroom. No one was let into the secret but my third daughter, afterwards Mrs. Phillips ; though even to her it was never read till printed, from want of private opportunity. .... The book had been six months published before I even heard its name; which I learnt at last without her knowledge. But great, indeed, was then my surprise, to find that it was in general reading, and commended in no common manner in the several Reviews of the times. Of this she was unacquainted herself, as she was then ill, and in the country. When I knew its title, I commissioned one of her sisters to procure it for me privately. I opened the first volume with fear and trembling; not having the least idea that, without the use of the press, or any practical knowledge of the world, she could write a book worth reading. The dedication to myself, however, brought tears into my eyes ; and before I had read half the first volume I was much surprised, and, I confess, delighted.'
Madame d'Arblay's account, which is very prolix and desultory, agrees with that of her father, but gives a few additional particulars—one of the first of which the reader would naturally expect to be the age of the writer : that, however, is not distinctly told ; but the slight allusions which are made to the subject would seem to confirm the idea of the extreme youth of the author. She relates that at eight years she did not know her letters, though at ten she began scribbling, almost incessantly but always secretly, little works of invention; and that when she attained her fifteenth year (that is, we presume, when she had accomplished her fourteenth), she took an opportunity, while her parents were absent, of burning her heap of manuscripts. “The last of the little works immolated was the history of Caroline Evelyn, the mother of Evelina ; which, however, left on the mind of the writer so animated an impression, that inevitably and almost unconsciously, the whole of A Young Lady's Entrance into the World was pent up in the inventor's memory ere a paragraph was committed to paper.' (vol. ii., p. 126.) At length, however, but slowly, two volumes were copied out. Hitherto she had no confidant but her sisters; but when the manuscript was in a state to be offered to a publisher, she was obliged to employ her brother for that purpose.
'Her younger brother, afterwards the celebrated Greek scholar, gaily and without reading a word of the work, accepted a share in
so whimsical'a frolic, and joyously undertook to be her agent to the bookseller with her manuscript.' (p. 127.) · The young agent was now muffled up by the laughing committee' (herself and her sisters) in an old great-coat and a large old hat, to give a somewhat antique as well as a vulgar disguise, and was sent forth in the dusk of the evening with the two first volumes to Fleet Street, where he left them to their fate.' (p. 129.) The publisher refused to have anything to do with an untinished work; and the third and final volume was, ere another year could pass away, almost involuntarily completed ;' the work was then accepted, printed, and in January, 1788, published; but for some months, neither the author nor her family saw or knew anything of the book; and Miss Burney herself, who was then indisposed, removed to Chessington, and carried with her the secret of her authorship and a wonderful indifference to her work. Some months elapsed before it came to the notice of her father, and then it broke upon him, accompanied with such a burst of general approbation from the fashionable and the learned, from Mrs. Cholmondeley, Mrs. Bunbury, and Mrs. Thrale, from Sir Joshua Reynolds, Mr. Burke, and Dr. Johnson, that he hastened down to Chessington to embrace and congratulate his astonished daughter.
The good Doctor tells us that he was surprised and delighted ;' and delighted and surprised he well might be, for even after his evidence and the more minute account given by Madame d’Arblay herself, we are utterly at a loss to comprehend how a girl of seventeen, slow, shy, secluded-almost neglected-never having been, as it would seem, from under the parental roof, and having seen little or nothing of life (but her own little play-room), could have written such a work as · Evelina.' We are not blind to its faults
—the plot is puerile enough—the denouement incredible—the latter part very tedious—there is much exaggeration in some of the minor characters, while that of the heroine herself is left almost a blank—but the elegance and grace of the style, the vivacity of many of the descriptions, the natural though rather too broad humour, the combination of the minor circumstances, the artist-like contrast of the several characters, and, above all, the accurate and distinctive knowledge of life and manners of different classes of society-from what sources did this child, writing by stealth, in the play-room, derive them? If she had lived a few years in the world there would have been not much to marvel at-at five and twenty, Evelina,' though a clever work even for a writer of that age, would not have been such a wonder as the world has been accustomed to consider it; nor would it, we are persuaded, have excited anything like the public enthusiasm which, when the author's age and situation became known, · Evelina' produced.