Volume 1, Book 2, Chapters 1 - 3

Opera rehearsals of the rich and famous; A Masquerade; Who is really being masked?; Burney and Austen's Juvenilia: "Jack and Alice" & Cecilia: Masquerades; Cecilia and Evelina: Books Written from Woman's Point of View; Cecilia spends money on books and Mrs Hill; A Man of Wealth, of Family, & A Man to Exploit; The Rawlins; Cecilia and Austen's S&S & Emma: Masquerades; Which Men in Burney's Life are Behind the Masks in Cecilia?; The White Domino and Darcy; Monckton and Montoni; More Parallels between Burney's and other novelist's heroes

Date: Thu, 18 Jun 1998
From: werner liebl
To: emoody@osf1.gmu.edu
Subject: Opera rehearsals of the rich and famous

Dear Ellen,

You wondered if rich people still went to opera rehearsals. I did an internship at the Bavarian State Opera and can at least tell you what went on there.

Usually only the artists were present in regular rehearsals. The final rehearsal before the performance (Generalprobe) can turn into a social event. Several prominent German actors and members of Munich's high society were at the "Fledermaus" Generalprobe. They received tickets and the general public was not admitted.

The big event here (as I think was also the case then) is the premiere, especially, in Germany, of Wagner operas. Then all the people who can afford exorbitantly priced tickets or have obtained them through their connections to the arts world step out in their best.


Date: Sun, 21 Jun 1998
Reply-To: Jane Austen List
From: "Jill L. Spriggs"
Subject: Cecilia, V. I, B. II, Chapters I & 2

Cecilia, disgusted by the selfish materialism of the Harrel household, carried out her resolution of visiting her guardians, hoping to find a more congenial residence. First to receive this honor was Mr. Briggs.

Too bad Cecilia allowed herself to be blinded by Mr. Briggs' undesirable traits, not seeing that this man really would be the most suitable in spite of his grossness. At least this man had a sense of humor, unlike either Mr. Harrel or Mr. Delvile. Even if he were careful about any personal expenditures, he could hardly keep Cecilia from purchasing what she saw fit for her own use. Mr. Briggs also had no inflated sense of self importance, and I loved his terms for his fellow guardians: "Don Puffabout ... Don Vampus [for Mr. Delvile] ... poor raw ninny [for Mr. Harrel] ..." His cautions about potential lovers were good, if Cecilia were not a characteristic twenty year old, sure that she was a much better judge of suitability of a potential husband than the greedy geezer.

Hopefully musing that " ... her third guardian, unless exactly resembling one of the others, must inevitably be preferable to both," Cecilia wasted no time in calling upon her third guardian, Mr. Delvile.

It was immediately apparent upon entering the home of Mr. Delvile that parsimony was not one of his faults; his home was " ... grand and spacious, fitted up not with modern taste, but with the magnificence of former times ... ". Don Puffabout was just the name for Mr. Delvile; apparently he was bent in awing his charge with his generous condescension (remember our debate about just this term a few months ago?) in so promptly having her shown into his presence. He puffed a little by describing the great crush of petitioners usually occupying his time, and puffed a little more by alluding to his " ... affairs ... dispersed throughout the kingdom." Cecilia, far from being encouraged by his kindness, felt effectively quelled, and was ready to leave almost upon arrival (easily discouraged girl!). Mr. Delvile was thrilled by the impression he had apparently made upon the shy young miss, and redoubled his efforts, being so " ... infinitely condescending, with intention to give her courage, that he totally depressed her with mortification and chagrin." It appears that Mr. Delvile was no more impressed with Mr. Briggs than Mr. Briggs was with him; he kindly pointed out to Cecilia that, when he found Mr. Briggs was to be his coguardian, he refused the office and only agreed to take it on after graciously receiving the apology of the Dean. Interesting that it was Mr. Briggs that found the Harrels objectionable; to Mr. Delvile, they were, " ' decent sort of people,' " even if they did " ' ... live at great expense.' "

Cecilia gave up too easily. Like most teenagers, she hesitated to give up a comfortable existence for one which could be less comfortable; remember Jane Eyre's disdain for the possibility of going to live with her father's family, because she believed the Reeds when they told her that they were " ... a beggarly set ..."? Cecilia, for all her distaste for the Harrel's expensive live style, did not wish to replace it with one of extreme frugality, as Mr. Briggs, even if he would never take advantage of her monetarily as Mr. Harrel would do. And Cecilia ruled out a residence with "Don Vampus" not realizing that his wife could be a truly congenial friend, and she could have been happy there, again without being drained dry of her parents' fortune. After all, she would really only spend meals with the arrogant aristocrat. And the unfortunate attachment she would form would not have occurred, IMHO.

Discouraged, Cecilia returned to the Harrels' to find preparations for the masquerade which take place in a week, in full swing. As usual, massive unnecessary expense would be incurred, but she was now in a state of resignation. Too bad she had not fled while there was still time!

Chapter 3, the Masquerade, deserves a post of its own.

Jill Spriggs

From: "Jill L. Spriggs"
Subject: _Cecilia_, V. I, B. II, Ch. III: A Masquerade

Reading this chapter once again I feel like someone at a three ring circus; so much going on one hardly knows where to look first.

To supply a little background for this evening of decadence, we are shown just what a house of cards Mr. Harrel was living in. He was importuned, not by the starving wife of a carpenter who knew he might not be paid when he took the job, but a larger fish, the owner of an awning business who insisted that, as he had to pay his own expenses, so he must be paid. A dangerous precedent had been set. Mr. Arnott, to please Cecilia, had paid the poor Hills, but now when pressed by Mr. Rawlins, Mr. Arnott was immediately turned to for assistance. If not checked, Mr. Harrel would unhesitatingly drain Mr. Arnott dry, a fact Cecilia would have done well to notice.

Why Priscilla's insensitivity to the dunning Rawlins should startle Cecilia, I do not know. She had already abundant evidence of Mrs. Harrel's willful disregard for the Impending destruction of their very frail lifestyle. The Harrels remind me of another family adept at " ... living upon nothing a year ... ", the Rawdons in Vanity Fair. I wonder if Thackeray had read Burney, and thought of the Harrels when he wrote about Becky Sharp and her husband. Another similarity is how the Rawdons led their hapless landlord into destruction; he was thrown into the Fleet Street Prison for not paying for the food and others necessaries that the Rawdons consumed. Mr. Harrel would have no problem with impoverishing either Mr. Arnott or Cecilia.

Priscilla's assuring Cecilia that she needed no costume was no favor. It left her in a position of vulnerability, unable to discern the identities of her fellow partiers, while they were immediately able to tell hers. The identities of all but Priscilla, her husband, and Mr. Arnott, were mysteries to her.

After her initial awkwardness at discovering she was almost alone in not being costumed, she enjoyed " ... the novelty of the scene ...".

I must ruefully admit to not recognizing the identity of Cecilia's first and most annoying meeting, that with the devil, until I was told by Burney herself. In her life with the Harrel's Cecilia was fighting off more demons than even she was aware, and this mask is an effective symbol of Cecilia's many adversaries. She was fighting the temptation for a life of ease and complacency, pursuing the life of self sacrifce and benefits for the poor with the help of the angel she perceived in Albany, the mysterious haranger. As might be surmised, the devil was one of Cecilia's hopeful husbands, but not the one she thought, Sir Robert Floyer, who was understandably insulted by her error. Mr. Monckton who in real life would have liked to keep all the bees away from this honey, was as successful at the masque as he was at the Harrels'; first the Don Quixote (Mr. Belfield) broke his wand (unmanning, emasculating him?) then the white domino completed his confusion by chasing him from room until Mr. Monckton tired of his game.

This white domino's identity would still be unknown to Cecilia at the end of the party. She would get to see him out of costume in the next chapter, but would not learn who he was until the following. Too bad she did not listen more closely to the warning in one of her early conversations with him:

" ' Did your late uncle, ' said the white domino, in a low voice to Cecilia, ' chuse for two of your guardians, Mr. Harrel and Mr. Briggs, to give you an early lesson upon the opposite errors of profusion and meanness?'

' My uncle?' cried Cecilia, starting, ' were you acquainted with my uncle?'

'No, for my happiness I knew him not.'

' You would have owed no loss of happiness to an acquaintance with him, ' said Cecilia, very seriously, ' for he was one who dispensed to his friends nothing but good.'

' Perhaps so, " said the domino; 'but I fear I should have found the good he dispensed through his niece not quite unmixed with evil!' "

What Cecilia did not quite catch, is the fact that the evil alluded to by the white domino, was the condition attached to her marriage, that the husband take on her name. It would prove to be a severe stumbling block to her future happiness.

Back to the masquerade;

Mr. Briggs' costume was, IMHO, quite appropriate. Soiled in his costume as he was with his pursuit of money, he was avoided by one and all. But his basic good nature was still apparent, in his affectionate treatment of his ward (more so than the more palatable Mr. Harrel). His pride made me smile, with his reaction to Sir Robert's threat to pull his "beastly snub nose"; " ' Beastly snub nose!' spluttered out the chimney sweeper, in much wrath, ' good nose enough; don't want a better; good as another man's. Where's the harm on't?' " I loved his treatment of her pernicious demon, when Monckton would not allow him to free Cecilia from her persistent admirers.

" He then again held out his hand, but Cecilia, pointing to the fiend, answered, 'How can I come, sir?'

'Shew you the way, ' cried he, ' shovel him off.' And taking his shovel, he very roughly set about removing him.

' The fiend then began a yell so horrid, that it disturbed the whole company; but the chimney sweeper, only saying 'Aye, blacky, growl away blacky, - makes no odds, - ' sturdily continued his work, and as the fiend had no chance of resisting so coarse an antagonist without a serious struggle, he was presently compelled to change his ground."

I quite enjoyed all the rough treatment Mr. Monckton received from all his antagonists. I know many had trouble with the violence received by Mr. Lovel and Madame Duval in Evelina, but how can anyone dispute the appropriateness of Mr. Monckton's comeuppance here?

Burney's musicality slipped in again when the white domino and Cecilia met an Apollo with a harp. The domino requested some music from the divinity, but was rebuffed with,

' No, ' answered he, pointing to the room in which was erected the new gallery, and whence, as he spoke, issued the sound of a hautboy, ' there is a flute playing there already.'

'O for a Midas,' cried the white domino, ' to return to this leather eared god the disgrace he received from him!' "

What a philistine, to mistake the tones of an oboe for a flute! Doubtless, the white domino would prove to share yet another affinity with Cecilia; that for divine music.

There is so much food for conversation in this chapter, but I have run on enough already. Would anyone care to share their opinions on the School Master, the Don Quixote, the Turk, or the Harlequin?

Jill Spriggs

From: "Jill L. Spriggs"
Subject: Who is really being masked?

In this fascinating chapter on the masquerade, I found myself wondering if some of the men in Burney's life could be behind those masques. Could that be her father or Samuel Crisp in the devil's suit, warding off all who might cause a diminution of their power? How about Samuel Johnson as the school master; clever, erudite, witty conversationalist? Or the desired but unknown lover of her future, the amorphous, blank domino (also a fellow lover of music!).

This chapter could be read on so many levels. Much time could be spent here.

Jill Spriggs

Date: Tue, 30 Jun 1998
Reply-To: Jane Austen List
From: Aysin Dedekorkut
Subject: Cecilia: A Masquerade

Sir Robert Floyer is like Austen's Charles Adams in Jack and Alice. Too sure of himself, not finding anybody equal to his own worth. Also he is kind of like Mr. Darcy. The words "haughty" are used for him on more than one occasion. But maybe because of the way he stares at Cecilia he reminds me Lord Osborne's behavior towards Emma Watson.

Mr Briggs: Although his rambling style annoyed me a little his romantic advice was one of a kind and very fitting to his philosophy of life (Money is everything):

"Take care of sharpers; don't trust shoe-buckles, nothing but Bristol stones! tricks in all things. A fine gentleman sharp as another man. Never give your heart to a gold-topped cane, nothing but brass gilt over. Cheats everywhere: fleece you in a year; won't leave you a groat." (V.1, Book II, Chapter 1)

"Never set your heart on a fine outside, nothing within." (V.1, Book II, Chapter 3)

Good advice indeed, but he doesn't mean it the way we understand. He means looking rich doesn't mean being rich.

Jill wrote:

In Cecilia's initial meeting with Miss Larolles, we first see the acidic humor of which Cecilia is capable, and makes her a more palatable heroine to me than the self effacing Evelina

I found Cecilia to be of a very different character than Evelina and I have to confess I like her much better. For one, she is more used to society so (I hope) she won't keep embarrassing herself like Evelina did. And she also has some wit that Evelina lacked. I see glimpses of Elizabeth Bennet in her quick mind:

Miss Larolles:"A young lady of my particular acquaintance, by the geratest luck in the world happened to be taken suddenly ill; so she sent me her ticket,- was not that delightful?" "For her, exteremely" said Cecilia, laughing. ...

Miss Larolles:" Well, but now comes the vilest part of the business, do you know, when everything else was ready, I could not get my hair-dersser! ... And so, after all this monstrous fatigue, I was forced to have my hair dressed by my own maid, quite in a common way; was not it cruelly mortifying?"

"Why yes," answered Cecilia, "I should think it was almost sufficient to make you regret the illness of the young lady who sent you the ticket." (V.1 Book 1, Chapter 3)

The Masquerade (V.1, Book II, Chapter 3):

I like this Chapter. The public scenes in Cecilia are not disturbing and distasteful as in Evelina. There is much difference between Evelina being held captive by two whores and Cecilia by the devil (which is a very clever idea). I tried to keep guessing which one of her suitors he might be, and first one that came to my mind was Mr Monckton. I found him to be a Montoni in disguise from the first moment. I have a feeling he is going to be a black cloud shadowing her throughout the novel. Cecilia suspects the devil to be Sir Robert Floyer because she "could neither speak nor be spoken to ... she imagined the only person who could have the assurance to practices is was Sir Robert Floyer". And she hopes that's him because "[she] should be sorry to find there was another [man] equally disaggreeable" Well, the fact that the devil doesn't speak make it possible that he might indeed be Sir Robert.

Don Quixote wasn't that easy. I though about Mr Morrice, but I don't think he would have "gravely retired" after his triumph. Who could it be?

Also Miss Larolles as the Goddess of Wisdom and Courage is a nice touch. Talk about irony. (And I am not talking about the courage part which is made clear in the book when she is among the first to ran away from the growling devil.)

I thought the white domino to be Mr Gosport as soon as he said: "O, depend upon it... there are many who would be happy to confine you in the same manner; neither have you much cause for complaint; you have, doubtless, been the aggressor, and played this game yourself without mercy, for i read in your face the captivity of thousands: have you, then, any right to be offended at the spirit of retaliation which one, out of such numbers has courage to exert in return?"

And the fact that he went to enquire after a discussion they overheard confirmed my suspicion (as he went to ask Miss Larolles what the problem was at the Opera Rehearsal)

I began writing this without finishing the chapter. Alas, now that the schoolmaster is revealed to be Mr Gosport I have to think about the white domino again. Can it be Albany, the man-hater? But this doesn't seem to be his talking style. The Turk(!) is revealed to be Sir Robert Floyer. Morrice is the Harlequin. And the devil was really Mr. Monckton (that has to make up for my wrong guess at Gosport). Cecilia thinks the white domino is Mr Belfield but he turns out to be Don Quixote. -

I don't agree with Ellen Moody totally when she says in her post of 21 Jun 1998 "Creating Real Voices in Fictions: Austen and Burney"

One problem with Cecilia is the voices are not differentiated; I find this curious because Burney did this, perhaps instinctively in the epistolary Evelina. She did not carry this personating over--as perhaps Austen did. One might say the six novels come out of the juvenilia through a process of subtilizing what is there writ large and through caricature.

The problem I have is that too many characters are thrown at our face all at once and it is hard to distinguish who is who. Burney often does this. New people are introduced in crowded social functions and it is hard to keep track off. As I read further into the book I think the different voices start to appear. I had the same problem when I encountered the Branghtons and Mr Brown and Mr Smith all at once. And as somebody [OLS: for Original Lost Sorry] then aptly said [FM] 'Smith or Brown, it doesn't matter, one may pass for the other!'

[Hey, these acronyms are very useful!]

Somebody said when we started reading Cecilia [OLS - again] that they wouldn't try to keep track of all, only the ones that would come up again. The problem with that is usually almost all of them come up again and if this happens far away in the story (a la Radcliffe) you start thinking 'who was that? I know I read about him/her before'.

I was doing OK so far reading in English but the following sentence of the white domino puzzled me:

"I have seen only three who have seemed conscious that any change but that of dress was necessary to disguise them."

What does he mean? He is talking about Don Quixote, schoolmaster and the devil.Does he mean Dress change wasn't enough for them to be disguised? That he knows who they are and their real characters fit with their constume? (I have a feeling they do, but I don't think this is what he means) From their vioces Cecilia recognizes Miss Larolles and Mr Morrice, so these three people cannot be the only badly disguised. Are they the only three disguised good? Or they are disguised because they changed more than their dress? (contrary to my fisrt observation they adopted behaviour that is opposite of their own?)

I also don't understand why Cecilia says in answer to the white domino's question of "You told me you knew him, - has he any right to follow you?" "If he thinks he has, this is no time to dispute it." Wouldn't this be taken as encouragement? (kind of like Elizabeth trying to warn off Darcy by saying she usually walks in that area and he takes this as invitation and encouragement). First I thought I read it wrong and it says "This is time to dispute it."

Are we talking about Domino the game here? Whatever it was it must have been popular disguise in those times because in the masquared of Austen's Jack and Alice there are also Dominos.

On an unrelated note regarding acronyms: Shirley Gershen suggested that "they be given at the bottom of the table of contents of each day's postings". How about putting them on an Austen-L related webpage (with the etiquette etc) with the handy list of movie adaptation acronyms?

PS to Ellen: I don't know how to take this:

It was also brilliant of her to make Floyer into a Turk who bullies Morrice as Harlequin into amusing the company by trying to jump across a table,

"Handsome young men must have something to live on, as well as the plain."

Aysin Dedekorkut

Robert Ward:

He is arguing that because the party is a masquerade, people are meant to disguise themselves in dress *and* behaviour ,The people who have come in fancy dress should behave (or at least attempt to behave) in a manner appropriate to the costume they have adopted, e.g., the "schoolmaster" behaved like a schoolmaster, the "devil" like a devil and so on, whereas the others just put on different costumes and behaved as they did normally, making it easy to identify them and thus spoiling the point of the fun. Presumably Cecilia has more difficulty because she is less familiar with the guests (and therefore "White Domino" is showing off a bit).

I also don't understand why Cecilia says in answer to the white domino's question of "You told me you knew him, - has he any right to follow you?" "If he thinks he has, this is no time to dispute it."

She doesn't want to start an argument in the middle of a party, which would expose her to some embarrassment and ridicule.

Are we talking about Domino the game here?

No - a domino in this context is a long cloak with a hood.


To Austen-l

June 27, 1998

Re: Burney and Austen's Juvenilia: "Jack and Alice" & Cecilia: Masquerades

Dear Maria and those interested in Burney and Austen's Juvenilia:

I find Jack and Alice interesting because the surface of the text works by pretending to elegance and then dropping suddenly into brutal reality. Thus there is all the pretense of beauty, pride, and vanity in the masquerade, and then we hear how the whole party of Johnsons ended up "Dead Drunk." We get a panegyric on the virtuous governess, Miss Dickins, who on the night she weeps eternal devotion to her pupil elopes with the butler. In another scene typical of romance as we listen to the story of a trip into a romantic wood we suddenly confront the detail of a trap which breaks the leg of the teller. A broken leg was no joke in Austen's period; upper class people did set traps for those who trespassed on their property. We could see the inheritress of the great fortune--super beautiful and virtuous (Chapter the Seventh, in the Oxford Classics ed by MADoody, pp 22-4) as a parody and distillation of the presentation of _Cecilia_. But in Chapter Eight we get a little story of Bath in epistolary form which may equally be read as a parody of Austen's own NA.

I like Jack and Alice because like Love and Friendship it has some length and development and more depth and we can get some fuller sense of what tone and goals for the "scrap" Austen had in mind--as we cannot easily with the shorter pieces. The disjunctive nature of the shorter pieces make it hard to know how to respond. Divagations galore may be what the young girl Jane Austen is enjoying.

On Cecilia and "Jack and Alice": it does seem from some of the details Austen was remembering the masquerade in Burney's novel. But there are also details which specifically recall Sir Charles Grandison which opens with a masquerade. Actually I think Burney's masquerade is itself much more interesting. Richardson is only interested in dressing Harriet Byron as a very sexy doll, getting her there, registering her "shock" at all this amorality, and then having Sir Pollexfen abduct her. Austen remembered one detail of Harriet's costume for a long time afterwards, but the applicability and incongruity of the costumes recalls Cecilia much more closely.

I don't think the devil overdone in Burney. If you read the diary, it seems upper class young men were often what we might call very rude. Aristocrats were especially arrogant. Also remember the purpose of the masquerade was to hide one's identity, and the reason they were looked so askance at was people could get away with breaking all sorts of tabooes and the general "code of good manners." Monckton is just doing in costume what he longs to do when he's Monckton. I did guess it was Monckton before Burney told us.

Why is Burney not more respected? I think she is weighed against what came after her and found wanting. She was read: in Vanity Fair Becky Sharp writes a letter to Amelia Sedley showing Thackeray expected his readers in the mid-century to recognize allusions to Cecilia, Evelina, and Udolpho. Becky and Amelia used to read Cecilia together. But her technique does not aim at deeply complex characters in a primarily realistic situation. That's there, but it's mixed with a strongly satiric aim, use of caricature and essay-like techniques.

em>Cecilia is a book written from a distinctly woman's point of view--as is Evelina. Perhaps this is the reason Burney has been ignored. I remember when I was an undergraduate in a course on 18th century novels, the boys in the class were embarrassed by Evelina. It was a "girls' book." When I taught NA twice, I found a number of the males had the same response. They were embarrassed to talk about Catherine's anguish when she found herself regarded as a wallflower. Burney is also overtly not about sex. Her heroines are maidens; the married ones have problems with money, not sex. So it seems more childlike than the books by men which came later -- where they could indirectly present sexual experience.

Ellen Moody

To Austen-l

June 20, 1998

Re: Burney: Cecilia spends money on books and Mrs Hill

This is to agree wth Maria Ehrenberg that the strongest character in the book is Cecilia. We feel her as a real presence. Burney's closeness to her reminds me of Austen's closeness to Elinor Dashwood. I think they are similar types. Reading further I think Cecilia's plans for her day are not satirized, but that we are supposed simply to sympathize and identify:

"Her next solicitude was to furnish herself with a well-chosen collection of books; and this employment, which to a lover of literature, young and ardent in its pursuit, is perhaps the mind's first luxury....

We are told how entertained she was, how now that she had one year left to herself, she spends her money "gratifying taste" and "inclinations" in building this little library.

I was also touched by the tone of this close to Book II, Chapter I:

"And thus, in the exercise of charity, the search of knowledge, and the enjoyment of quiet, serenely in innocent philosophy passed the hours of Cecilia" (1988 Oxford Cecilia, ed. MADoody, PSabor, p. 103).

Some may laugh, and Tony Tanner might feel a need to defend the content of this, but I don't. I don't know that one can pass time much better. The problem with those who sincerely complain about "a lack of large general commitments" is they are not sufficiently disillusioned, are altogether too proud and convinced of the need for their doings to be significant. Vanitas vanitatem.

Ellen Moody

To Austen-l

June 22, 1998

Re: Cecilia, I:II:1-3: A Man of Wealth, of Family, & A Man to Exploit

I'd like to add a couple of comments to what Jill said about the above paired chapters. I too agree Mr Briggs has a "sense of humor," and add I thought his way of dubbing the other characters in the novels allegorically highlight the comic effect Burney wanted, and perhaps reveals to us how she thought about them herself. His ""Don Puffabout ... Don Vampus [for Mr. Delvile] ... poor raw ninny [for Mr. Harrel] " are apt and mean. Satire is often cruel. One problem though is if Burney doesn't quite believe in her figures, if at some level of her mind they remain caricatures for her, it's no wonder they don't always seem three-dimensional to us.

There was also good humor in Mr Briggs. Thus far our Cissy and her narrator are actually a sardonic and disillusioned pair--at least the effect of their text is. Off list Jill commented on some scenes from real life as described by others today that: "And many must be hypocrites or go mad, agonizing over the empty charade their lives really are." This seems to me the basic insight behind Cecilia. So when Mr Briggs starts to be gentle and good-humored after he "empties his mind of ill-will," and suddenly appears affectionate and thus more human, it is very pleasant, e.g.,

he drew a chair near her,and twinkling his little black eyes in her face, his rage subsided into the most perfect good humour; and, after peering at her some time with a look of much approbation, he said, with an arch nod, 'Well, my duck, got ever a sweet-heart yet?'" (1988 Oxford Cecilia, edd MADoody & PSabor, p. 95)

It's fun when she says no, and he declares she's fibbing, and then thinks he will find her a sweetheart himself.

There was a devastating line in the Delville scene: he doesn't want to visit her while she's with the Harrels because he is "fearful of being embarrassed by the people with whom you live" (p. 99). This is devastating because he "tells us what we [and others] have only thought" (the line is Johnson's).

I will move just into the opening of the brilliant chapter "A Masquerade" to mention again how Burney presents fully, emphatically and with sympathy lower class working and middling people and types like contractors that we simply never find in Austen in their own right or who at best appear marginally, unnamed, and only as they affect some tiny phase of the major gentry characters' existence. As the masquerade is about to begin, in comes Mr Rawlins with his bill. It is he who has built the awning, he who with his workers has provided the setting in which the Harrels mean to kill yet more of their ostentatious and frivolous time. Like the Hills, he has not been paid; he tells us he has to pay others. Others are dependent upon him. Of course Mrs Harrel says, 'Did you ever hear anything so impertinent?' (p. 104). Alas not in an Austen or Radcliffe novel, but perhaps had I been alive in the 18th century and in these great houses I would have heard such complaints regularly, if spoken more fearfully or softly (in the hope of getting paid). The whole scene where Harrel puts the man off and we know has no intention of paying him is an appropriate prelude to the masquerade to come.

If we read the sentiments and take in the satirical aims of the portraits of this man of wealth, this one of family, and the indignant and pathetic one there to be exploited, we see in Burney a savage criticism of the actual lives of many upper class aristocrats and gentry of her time.

I have to say there is really no comparison between the subject matter and what is aimed at in Evelina and Cecilia. The first is a young girl's fairy tale and gothic romance with some lively scenes of contemporary life thrown in; its most serious scenes are those in which a young women is sexually harassed by a young man. This second is a book by a woman who wants to satirize middling to upper class society as mercenary, false prestige-ridden, and self-satisfied.

Ellen Moody

To Austen-l

June 25, 1998

Re: Burney: Cecilia, I:II:3: The Rawlins

I am really fascinated by these sections in this book where people from the lower orders suddenly appear in vivid life and we hear their view of reality. Jill brings up Vanity Fair where we see a similar situation, and Thackeray does introduce and explain how Becky Sharp and her husband, Rawdon Crawley, fleece and ruin the man, but even here the landlord-servant is kept at a distance.

I wonder if any other novelist of the later 18th century showed us these people. I know some of the radicals did in their novels (Godwin in Caleb Williams -- which maybe our subgroup ought someday to try together--it's great), but then it is always couched in a radical rhetoric and presented so as to urge the reader to "change" society and is often written in grand and generalized terms. To see this man who needs and wants his money in a context where the money is not despised or disdained nor the values of the society is real.

Jill writes:

"[Mr Harrel] was importuned, not by the starving wife of a carpenter who knew he might not be paid when he took the job, but a larger fish, the owner of an awning business who insisted that, as he had to pay his own expenses, so he must be paid. A dangerous precedent had been set. Mr. Arnott, to please Cecilia, had paid the poor Hills, but now when pressed by Mr. Rawlins, Mr. Arnott was immediately turned to for assistance. If not checked, Mr. Harrel would unhesitatingly drain Mr. Arnott dry, a fact Cecilia would have done well to notice."

Cecilia doesn't notice it, and one wonders if what is going to happen is the Harrels begin to try to drain her dry. There was some hint on the part of Mrs Harrel--who is not as innocent as her words might lead one to think.

Then Jill writes:

"Why Priscilla's insensitivity to the dunning Rawlins should startle Cecilia, I do not know. She had already abundant evidence of Mrs. Harrel's willful disregard for the Impending destruction of their very frail lifestyle."

I saw this as partly a plot-device. It played up Mrs Harrel's behavior. It is also an aspect of Cecilia's innocence. Like Evelina, she is "entering the world," but her education is considerably more sophisticated because she sees so much more of what is happening around her. Finally, it is true that sometimes we are startled by the behavior of those we thought our friends and therefore like us.

Any comments anyone else on these characters from below the level of the upper gentry in Burney? Their presence in Burney makes me aware of how much of her world Austen omits. Austen must have seen dunning scenes; she probably saw the working people of her world intimidated, bullied, fleeced, manipulated, used. She lived in lodgings run by non-gentry. But never once does any of this appear. I'd like to comment I have never seen it in the 18th century French novels of the 18th century; one must wait until after the revolution to read of this. Good for Burney.

Ellen Moody

Subject: Burney: Cecilia, I:II:3: The Rawlins

In a message dated 6/25/98 07:15:41 AM, Ellen Moody wrote:

I am really fascinated by these sections in this book where people from the lower orders suddenly appear in vivid life and we hear their view of reality.

Something else that strikes me about Burney's handling of this subject, is how she never was condescending, always sympathetic (unless the person was not deserving of sympathy; more of which we will see later). No happy contented serfs here, no Mammy singing spirituals, no 'umble servants.

Jill Spriggs

Re: Cecilia, I:II:3 & S&S & Emma: Masquerades

In reading the masquerade I found myself thinking about Tanner's comments on S&S that most people don't know those they are sitting next to, and how in life we mask ourselves from one another. Most of us do this unconsciously, or as part of a general scheme of tact, kindliness, decorum, and simply getting along; it is the rare person who deliberately puts on a mask to hide malice or other vicious behaviors. Burney's masquerade is meant to heighten the realities of the people in the book; instead of being hidden, they come out more strongly; since Cecilia sees through the masks of everyone, she also suggests that we can see through masks.

Here I think Austen would differ. I always think of how Knightley asks Emma if she really wants to know what is in other people's minds, and Emma quickly says, oh no. Austen probably is closer to the truth: many people don't see through. She would say they are fooled, though it is enigmatic as to how far. I always think of how Miss Bates says she does see what is in front of her.

Of course neither goes into the problem of what happens when you see through the mask to the viciousness behind it, and discover others don't care--or enjoy it so unmasking it does no good, just brings forth yet more lies and masks. This is part of the theme of Les Liaisons Dangereuses taken over from Clarissa. So LaClos is much more radical in his view of human nature than Austen or Burney.

One of the things most enjoyable about the chapter is simply the costumes and heightened dialogue. There's a strong theatrical element to it all.

I can't help think of Austen. Do people suppose she never went to a masquerade? Was a clergyman's daughter unlikely to do this? Was she too poor? too genteel? herself too shy? Opinions anyone?

I think it a good plot device to keep from us who the white domino is. He seems to be intelligent and decent. Maybe we have our hero here? I also thought Burney should have kept Monckton masked as the devil yet more--or at least some of the interest or tension decreased when once I knew this harassing possessive devil was Monckton. This was a surreal piece on sexual harassment and a man's desire to possess a woman.

It is a brilliant stroke upon Burney's part to make Morrice Harlequin. He is the entertainer who can be got to do anything, the man who insists how happy and gay he is, how he loves to serve everyone, but has sorrows underneath if only he would admit it. It was also brilliant of her to make Floyer into a Turk who bullies Morrice as Harlequin into amusing the company by trying to jump across a table, and of course knocking the table and all that's on it down, and then the awning, so that all Rawlins's work is destroyed.

Burney is continually exposing the absurdities of the life of such a man as Morrice. She keeps coming back to this. In the fiction, we don't see what Morrice gets out of it; in real life Burney père got his customers. I can only think she comes back to it because it affected her life: she was mortified, irritated, herself drawn into such scenes; Mrs Thrale would mock her father in a not so veiled way at all. Burney did not as yet foresee what Harlequin would eventually demand of her (take a place at court). What we have not had in Cecilia as yet is some counterforce. I keep waiting for some kindly father figure in the mode of Villars, but thus far we have none. Gosport is an impersonal satirist, and Briggs himself is savagely satirized for his miserliness.

The Belfield pieces seemed to me a bit overdone. The description of his outfit as Don Quixote was very good, very sharp, but the exchange of letters while probably funny to readers of overblown romances in the period failed to amuse me at least.

Miss Larolles as Minerva was also very amusing, and of course once she opens her mouth and begins to talk we know it's her. I liked all the times she appeared; I suppose Austen must have too (e.g, "I was monstrous sorry...", 1988 Oxford Cecilia, edd MADoody and PSabor, pp. 110ff).

I liked the dialogues, which, as in Evelina, were true to life. Burney is not a hypocrite; she tells us how at first Cecilia is fascinated and intensely entertained by

"the variety of dresses, the medley of characters, the quick succession of figures, and the ludicrous mixture of groups... the conceited efforts at wit, the total thoughtlessness of consistency, and the ridiculous incongruity of the language with the appearance, were incitements to surprise and diversion without end. Even the local cant of Do you know me? Who are you? and I want to know you; with the sly pointing of the finger, the arch nod of the head, and the pert squeak of hte voice, though wearisome to those who frequent much assemblies, were to her unhabkceyed observation, additional subjects of amusement" (p. 106).

Having the cheerful Mr Briggs with his wry good humor next to her as a chimney sweep gave the scene a cheerful kind of flavor. Mr Gosport's saturnine disposition gave us the Johnsonian morals. Of course Monckton's curiously threatening presence and the growing relationship with the mysterious white domino gave the scene its plot line. The climax with Morrice-Harlequin again making an idiot of himself, a spectacle, ironically destroying Mr Rawlins's work was also strong.

Finally when we got a real chimney sweep come into the room and everyone in the room was appalled, horrified, to see this poverty-striken, sick, and miserable human being it brought us back to the opener where we saw Rawlins demand his money. I thought the long description of a real chimney sweep very effective. Again, nothing like this in Austen at all.

When I came to the end of these three chapters I understood why Burney was so respected and thought a genius, and why this book was read across England and France. There is a review by La Clos written just before he publshed Les Liaisons Dangereuses in which he can't praise Cecilia enough, and there have been critical pieces showing how Burney influenced La Clos's masterpiece.

Ellen Moody

Re: Which Men in Burney's Life are Behind the Masks in Cecilia?

At 09:53 PM 6/24/98 EDT, Jill L. Spriggs wrote:

In this fascinating chapter (I:II:3) on the masquerade, I found myself wondering if some of the men in Burney's life could be behind those masques. Could that be >her father or Samuel Crisp in the devil's suit, warding off all who might >cause a diminution of their power? How about Samuel Johnson as the school master; clever, erudite, witty conversationalist? Or the desired but unknown lover of her future, the amorphous, blank domino (also a fellow lover of music!).

This chapter could be read on so many levels. Much time could be spent here.

Jill Spriggs

In Morrice we have a face of Charles Burney; in Mr Gosport we have the face Johnson presented to the public in his journalism. But these faces beneath the masks could be seen before. Probably--as with Austen--the more we know about Burney's private life the more we could make connections. One problem is Burney knew so many people and came into contact with many more. She might write of someone she met just once, but someone who made a strong impression on her. Mr Briggs strikes me as allegorical, but Delville could easily be real; certainly the Harrels are believable. Like Austen Burney had many brothers and sisters and they all married, and had children too.

It is curious how she concentrates on men. Here we have Cecilia in her ordinary dress, and while Miss Larolles makes her appearances, it is men who surround Cecilia, men who seek to control her and who fascinate her. She gives herself no less than 4 fathers: the original Dean or guardian who has died, Briggs, Delville, and Harrel (not much of a father figure). Then we are going to have her fall in love with a male and husbands were encouraged to be masters in their homes. Wives were to obey. Husbands had the purse strings. When I think of Austen, it seems to me she concentrates much more on women; they seem to dominate scenes and control or make the lives of the heroines miserable--or try to. Also Radcliffe's men are enigmatic and at a distance; alluring sexy and fearful types or kindly fathers and impeccably loving men. The stronger presences are women.

Ellen Moody

To Austen-l

July 1, 1998

Re: Burney: Cecilia: The Masquerade: The White Domino and Darcy; Monckton and Montoni; More Parallels between Burney's and other novelist's heroes

This is written in response to Aysin's posting on the above chapters.

Your comparison of the white domino to Darcy is inspired, because by now you must know the white domino is the young Delville. In my posting on this week's chapters I said some of his conversation reminded me of Henry Tilney, but as I remember (vaguely) what's to come and that pride, a saturnine point of view, an austere virtue, and awkwardnesses and misunderstandings of all sorts come between Cecilia and Delville, we could see Delville as a real precursor to Darcy. Lord Orville looks back to Sir Charles Grandison, Delville forward to Darcy. I don't know how it works in but have read again and again how some paragraph late in the book tells us Cecilia's miseries were all the result of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE so maybe we should watch for analogies between the couples.

I also like the analogy of Monckton with Montoni--and Radcliffe's other villains. In fact Radcliffe's is the simplistic or young girl's dream-figure. Austen tells us the reality is General Tilney, but in doing so she robs the figure of his sexual aspects, the threat, the desire of the dark villain to possess the maiden in his moated castle. By having a Monckton who is presented as a real type of the time--and allowing him sensible language and behavior--Burney gives the figure an adult reality and keeps the sex.

Many of the characters' lines (like Briggs's or Miss Larolles's) resonate into gnomic statements and epigrams. It's part of the poetry of the book. She probably hoped we would dwell on lines--that's the way Johnson's prose works. I do agree one problem is too many characters are thrown at us at once. The masquerade becomes a game, a kind of puzzle. Don Quixote was Belfield, and I suppose in that the disguise looks forward to the duel which Belfield loses. The "real" Don in Cervantes's book is always getting wounded--and sometimes badly.

Aysin asks how others read the following line:

"I have seen only three who have seemed conscious that any change but that of dress was necessary to disguise them."

I take it to mean only those three people seems to realize that more is needed to hide or change oneself than mere outward costume. We can see through the costumes to recognize who is underneath. Of course Burney has chosen costumes which actually highlight aspects of her character's personalities. But this is another level of the text. As you say Aysin, dress is not enough.

Aysin asks me what I meant when I wrote:

"It was also brilliant of her to make Floyer into a Turk who bullies Morrice as Harlequin into amusing the company by trying to jump across a table..."

I was referring to the use of the Turk costume to signify the macho male bully. In the next chapter we find Floyer starts a quarrel and duels with Belfield, and is willing to murder him. Turks were used as highly romantic figures of macho males in Byron's poems; they were seen as strong sexy males who enslaved Christians and the typical Byronic female virgin. Since Morrice is such a sycophant, it is appropriate that he allow this macho bully male to push him into jumping across the table. By jumping across the table and ruining the awning, Morrice loses all the "chits" he was trying to build up with the Harrels.

Finally in response to Nancy earlier this week: the domino costume in the late 18th century masquerades functioned like the witch's costume in Halloween parties today. They were regarded as safe: not too sexy, easy to wear, no special connotation. Most oftent they were black. I have seen a number of productions of Don Giovanni where Anna, her swain, and Elvira follow the Don about in black domino costumes. Ellen Moody

Contact Ellen Moody.
Pagemaster: Jim Moody.
Page Last Updated 9 January 2003