Volume 1, Book 2, Chapters 4 - 8

An Affray; A Duel; At the Opera; The Delvilles & Pride of Lineage -- and Monckton; A Fashionable Friend; A Family Party; Historical Density and Literary Freshness; Swords; An Examination; A Tête-à-Tête; Delvile Sr : Collins and Lady Catherine combined?; Indirect address in Cecilia

Date: Sun, 28 Jun 1998
Reply-To: Jane Austen List
From: "Jill L. Spriggs"
Subject: Cecilia, Vol. I, Book II, Chapter 4, An Affray

As though instinctively knowing that Cecilia was in need of an antidote to the careless consumerism of the Harrels, the mysterious Albany made an appearance before her, the day after the masquerade.

" ' Begin, then, while yet youth and inexperience, new to the callousness of power and affluence, leave something good to work upon: yesterday you saw the extravagance of luxury and folly; to day look deeper, and see, and learn to pity, the misery of disease and penury.' "

Well, he sure said the magic words. No sooner had he " ... put into her hand a paper which contained a most affecting account of the misery to which a poor and wretched family had been reduced, by sickness, and various other misfortunes ..." then Cecilia had her purse out and open. She gave him three guineas, but he returned two, saying, " ' I return in part thy liberal contribution; this, ' taking one guinea, ' doubles my expectations; I will not, by making thy charity distress thee, accelerate the fatal hour of hardness and degeneracy. ' "

She followed him to the door, and pressed him to take the remaining two guineas, which he took willingly enough. Mrs. Harrel was predictably appalled that Cecilia would part with ready money so easily. When she told her husband of what Cecilia had done, his reaction made me smile; " ' Indeed, Miss Beverly, you must be more discreet in future, you will else be ruined before you know where you are.' "

Predictably, once word got round, Cecilia was the most popular girl in town among the needy:

"Objects are, however, never wanting for the exercise of benevolence; report soon published her liberality, and those who wished to believe it, failed not to enquire into its truth. She was soon at the head of a little band of pensioners, and, never satisfied with the generosity of her donations, found in a very short time, that the common allowance of her guardians was scarce adequate to the calls of her munificence."

It took only a week of Cecilia's resolution to spend her time in study and philanthropy, to feel that a hermit's life was not for her. She relented enough to tell her friend Priscilla that she would join her at the next opera they planned to enjoy. Too bad she could not have chosen a concert instead.

As usual, they were late and arrived when the opera was already in performance. As might be expected, where there was a crush of people, Miss Larolles was near by. It was she who introduced Cecilia to a new category of fashionable presence, the INSENSIBLIST Mr. Meadows, of whom we will hear more, in Volume II.

The extremely crowded coffee room soon palled in its novelties for Cecilia, and she pressed the reluctant Mrs. Harrel to brave the masses to hear what remained of the opera. They were separated, but still found acceptable seats. Cecilia was annoyed to find that she was seated behind a gaggle of chatterboxes, rendering the chances of hearing the remainder of the first act negligible. She decided to divert herself by trying to find amusement in their conversation, but since they were much more intent on talking than in listening, the effort required was great. The labor was ill repaid when Cecilia realized that the substance of their talk was ... " descriptions of trimmings, and complaints of hair-dressers, hints of conquest that teemed with vanity, and histories of engagements which were inflated with exultation."

Apparently between the acts of the opera, dances were performed while the scenery was changed. The surging forward of the men to see the dancing allowed Mrs. Harrel to make room for Cecilia next to her, and when she saw the rapt attention which the men paid to the dancers, she began to hope that she would get more enjoyment from the rest of the opera. Vain hope! When the opera resumed, the young men, who apparently were there only for the dancing, commenced a whispering that, while it was less disruptive than the gossiping of the girls, was just as distracting to those sitting near them. Their topic of conversation was no more elevated than that of the young ladies. " ... their subjects ... being nothing less than the age and duration of jointured widows, and of the chances and expectations of unmarried young ladies." Finally in the third act Cecilia and Mrs. Harrel were fortunate enough to have seated near them " ... others who came to the Opera not to hear themselves but the performers ...". Cecilia finally fully enjoyed the opportunity of listening to a tenor who " ... took from her all desire to hear anything but [him]self."

Lucky Cecilia; during the last dance she came to the attention of Sir Robert Floyer, who uninvited, planted himself next to her and pursued his favorite hobby of staring rudely at Cecilia when he was not distracted by the dancing. Mr. Monckton, uneasy at Sir Robert's confident air, cleverly questioned him about his intentions towards Cecilia, and took any opportunity to render his prey less attractive.

While Sir Robert was distracted by Mr. Monckton, Cecilia was approached by Mr. Belfield, who offered to assist her out of the pit. Not noticing that Belfield had beaten him, Sir Robert pressed forward, also offering his hand. Cecilia, who had begun to detest Sir Robert, " ... declined his assistance while accepting that which had first been offered her by Mr. Belfield." Sir Robert ordered Mr. Belfield to move out of his way, and Mr. Belfield essentially said, "No way, Jose," (paraphrasing, of course). Sir Robert disparaged Belfield's pretensions to gentility, Belfield reacted with indignation, trying to draw on Cecilia, who was shrinking fearfully from this developing row. Sir Robert again made an insulting comment to Belfield, who said, "Sez who?" (sort of), Sir Robert responding something like, "Your mother is a camp follower!" [of course, this is not really what they were saying, just my more contemporary version of their exchange]. Mr. Belfield put his hand on his sword, Sir Robert shoved him out of the way. Belfield drew his sword, and Sir Robert was preparing to do likewise, when Cecilia pleaded for help in stopping the fracas. The white domino, who seemed at this point to be everywhere Cecilia was, when she was in public, remonstrated successfully with Belfield, who then put up his sword. However, Belfield gave Sir Robert a card with his name and address, with a challenge that Sir Robert was quite happy to accept. The helpful young man again intervened this time with Sir Robert, and with the assistance of nearby gentlemen, apparently succeeded in dissuading him from his intentions of wreaking havoc with Mr. Belfield's frame. Cecilia, embarrassed at her very public position, hurried with Mrs. Harrel back into the pit, to avoid the crowd of curious onlookers. Mr. Monckton and Mr. Arnott were alike stuck with jealousy by Cecilia's apparent concern for Sir Robert.

Miss Larolles, always loving to be as near as possible to any noisy scene about, hastened to join Cecilia in the pit. For all her emotional tumult, Cecilia had enough humor in her to respond to Miss Larolles', " ' You've no Idea how I am frightened; do you know I happened to be quite at the further end of the coffee-room when it began, and I could not get out to see what was the matter for ten ages; only conceive what a situation!' " with " ' Would your fright have been less ... had you been nearer the danger? ' "

The helpful stranger, misapprehending Cecilia's concern, brought Sir Robert to her so she could see that he was safe, and inadvertently raising this gentleman's estimation for Cecilia's feelings for him. When he left, Mr. Monckton immediately tried to ascertain the cause for Cecilia's concern. Reassured, he promised to try to find Mr. Belfield to try to abort the duel; Cecilia was sure that Mr. Harrel would act similarly with his friend. At this point she recognized that the very active and helpful young man was her acquaintance of the masquerade, the white domino, but she was too flurried in spirits to devote much thought to him. Mr. Arnott brought the very welcome news of the arrival of their carriage, and Cecilia thankfully quit the scene of the tumult of which she was the unwitting cause.

Jill Spriggs

To Austen-l

June 30, 1998

Re: Cecilia, I:2:4-8: A Duel

Following up on Jill's posting describing the initial encounter between Sir Robert Floyer and Mr Belfield, I'd like to make a couple of comments on the duel that ensues, the wounding of Belfield by Floyer, Belfield's refusal to take care of himself until it's nearly too late, and the misreading by everyone of Cecilia's anxiety and concern about the duel.

First again we have in Cecilia Burney dramatizing at least some aspects of what in S&S Austen shies away from: the brutality of a duel. Burney does not give us the duel itself, but she records the incident which leads up to it, the immediate aftermath, and the real pain and illness of a sword wound. Peter Gay has an excellent chapter in his The Cultivation of Hatred on duelling in European culture from the Renaissance through the 19th century. Gay takes us from upper class public school culture in England to the gymnasium in Germany and shows us how duels were seen as a sign of one's manliness, how anyone who refused was seen as fair game for anyone else (he was branded as a coward); he describes the brutality and animal lust and fascination with blood intrinsic to such scenes. He does not mince words or avoid the reality because he quotes witnesses telling of the enjoyment men got in watching, and how one's scar became a mark of one's "macho" spirit--and class and status. Duelling connects to hunting as the sport of gentlemen; lower down the scale one could bet on duels between rats and boxers.

Burney does not show us the duel, but she does reveal the leering triumph of the "winner," Sir Peter Floyer. As Jill wrote, it is Floyer who instigates the insult. Cecilia is a rare spirit for showing she is deeply distressed at the idea two men are going to fight a duel over her. It's clear her society thinks she should triumph too. Everyone then assumes she is in love with one of the men. Otherwise why should she care? The reason Floyer comes--to show her his triumph--is that he assumes she loves him and will rejoice. When she doesn't, people assume she must love Belfield. The man who was the white domino and was by her side during the opera is revealed to be the young Delville; he and Monckton both assume she cares because she is in love with one of the young men. She has to assert "I now fear this man as much as I dislike him, for his late fierceness and brutality;" she says she more than ever wants to leave the Harrels where Floyer as "access at his pleasure" 1988 Oxford Cecilia, ed. p. 165).

The visit to Belfield is striking. We are shown a young man in pain, wounded, and how dangerous this is. At the same time he won't admit his misery; he laughs and jokes with his friends. In a way the description ofh Belfield brought Sir Tom Bertram to mind. We are told young Bertram gambled; it's hinted he does worse; we are told his debauched ways led to his sickness, and his friends left him to the servants. In Burney Delville graphically describes what might have been the scene Edmund came upon when he saw Tom in town:

"'I found him, then, surrounded by a set of gay young men, who, by way of keeping up his spirits, made him laugh and talk without ceasing: he assured me himself that he was perfectly well, and intended to gallop out of town to-morrow morning; though, when I shook hands with him at parting I was both shocked and alarmed to feel the burning heat of the skin, that far from discarding his physician, he ought rather to call a surgeon" (p. 170).

That visceral physical detail of the burning of the young man's skin combined with his hectic behavior and the earlier talk of his fever leaves us with a direct picture of the reality of a wounded man such as we find neither in Edgeworth (there's a duel in Belinda -- though between women, that being a lesbian novel) -- nor Austen. I think it must have had a strong effect on an audience to whom duels were common. Burney's implicit criticism of a bullying and amoral environment that demanded this of a man is brought home to us. Elinor says it is useless to argue with someone like Brandon; perhaps. But it's easier to dismiss when no-one shakes with his wounds and no-one leers in triumph.

Ellen Moody

Re: Cecilia, II:I:4: At the Opera

On this chapter I'd like to comment that Richard Sennet has a long book called The Fall of Public Man where he talks about how at the end of the 18th century most audiences in a theatre did not sit in front of a play quietly as if they were in church unless someone the play "grabbed" them, and then not everyone did anyway. They went to see, be seen, to talk, and be the show themselves. On the other hand, according to Burney, everyone falls silent to watching the dancing that went on between the acts of the opera. I couldn't help wondering what kind of dancing this was. For once, the notes don't say. (Maybe it's in the appendices which I'll look at later this week.)

People also have not changed much. We are told Mrs Harrel goes because she meets the upper class of her society there; it is the thing for a "rich" lady like her to do. She couldn't care less about any opera, barely listens. I have seen this, though nowadays the Harrels must sit silently through the performance and only show off their fancy clothes in the special coffee room set up "for patrons only" between the acts.

This time Burney's procedure is more like Austen's. We are not told which opera it is--as in NA we are not told which comedy it was Catherine watched so happily until her eye caught the presence of Henry Tilney across the way in his box.

Ellen Moody

To Austen-l June 30, 1998

Re: Cecilia: The Delvilles & Pride of Lineage -- and Monckton

A couple of days ago Maria wrote:

"For my part I agree with all of you who have pointed out that the novels theme is money: the want of money (Mrs. Hill and others), the making of money (Mr. Brigg), what-to-do-with-money (Cecilia), spending money (The Harrels and a lot of others) and greed for money (Mr. Monckton. But what about Mr. Delvile? What is his connections with money? The preservation of it?"

Pehaps the Delvilles stand for pride in lineage. Mr Delville is extremely haughty; he cares about appearance. As yet the young Delville seems to be another Henry Tilney (albeit without the charming wit), but from what I remember of the plot soon he is revealed as obsessed with his name and therefore lineage. Cecilia had heard that Mrs Delville is a proud woman; Mrs Delville turns out to be sweet and reasonable and intelligent. But she has not been tried by any events in the story. We must wait until Cecilia moves in (if she does).

Maria also wrote:

"Mr. Monckton as the devil is a very fascinating metaphor... Of course he gives full expression to his hidden emotions behind the mask, and more interesting, he is the only one who does. All the others have the same behaviour both masked and unmasked - but more marked behind it. Think of the schoolmaster and the chimney-sweeper - and Cecilia has no problems in detecting them. But Mr. Monckton! We know, because the narrator has told us so, that he is an evil person. But Cecilia, who has only witnessed his polite behaviour towards her, can never guess the devils real identity."

When Burney dresses up Monckton as the devil, she reveals that despite her apparent acceptance of his marriage to a rich aged woman for the money and courting of Cecilia, and despite the reasonableness of a great deal of what he says, we are to see in him something vicious and dangerous. As the devil, he wants to possess Cecilia. There is also a brutality suggested in his response to the duel. We should remember men were permitted to beat their wives in this period. Mr Harrel is something of a wimp with respect to Mrs--and life itself-- but I wouldn't marry a man with Monckton's temper.

Ellen Moody

From: Oldbuks@aol.com
Date: Fri, 3 Jul 1998 08:11:13
Subject: Burney: Cecilia, Volume I, Book II, Chapter V: A Fashionable Friend

It is no longer surprising how totally self involved all the inhabitants of this book are, even our heroine. To be fair, narcissm is characteristic of the late adolescent, but Mrs. Harrel pushes the envelope. The prospect of the possible imminent death of her husband's friend, Sir Robert Floyer, caused her to feel "really sorry" but her concern certainly did not keep her from her bed. Cecilia determined to wait up for Mr. Harrel's return for the latest news, but that was a big mistake. I think Mr. Harrel would have been relieved to hear of Sir Robert's death; he would be spared having to repay his gaming debts, at least the ones he owed to ir Robert.

Not one to ever allow his pleasures to be abbreviated, Mr. Harrel returned home between three and four AM. Cecilia's wakeful night was ill repaid when she found that Mr. Harrel and Sir Robert had never met, but at least Mr. Harrel promised to send for intelligence in the morning.

As a person who highly values her sleep, I moaned when I read of Cecilia's rising a little more than two hours later, dressing herself by candle light (no small feat in those times of extremely complicated garments), and impatiently waiting till seven AM when she gave orders to have him roused. I picture Mr. Harrel vainly hitting the snooze button; Cecilia had to work pretty hard to get him out of the house by nine AM.

Shortly after Harrel had left, Mr. Monckton arrived. He pumped Cecilia for information about the state of her heart before sharing his knowledge (or rather, the lack thereof); Monckton still suspected that where there was smoke, there must be a fire for one of the combatants lurking somewhere in the recesses of Cecilia's heart. After being convinced of the the sincerity of her professions of innocence of the crime of love, he told her of his futile efforts to throw oil upon those troubled waters. After unsuccessfully trying to calm Mr. Belfield, Mr. Monckton went in pursuit of Sir Robert, also without effect. Upon seeing how his efforts scarcely satisfied Cecilia, he again left in hope of having better results.

Cecilia seemed to give audiences to a regular parade of men that morning; first Harrel, then Monckton, and thirdly Mr. Arnott called. He also left in pursuit of information, in spite of his agonies of jealousy over Cecilia's concern for both the combatants.

Cecilia was not to spend much time alone that morning; next who should come but the white domino, who she finally discovered was the son of her guardian Mr. Delvile, Mortimer. At last Cecilia was given the knowledge she sought, but not before disavowing her preference for Sir Robert. Mr. Belville had been wounded, but not killed, and Sir Robert unhurt.

Mr. Harrel and Mr. Arnott returned, disappointed to find they were scooped by the young Delvile. It was now the turn of the ladies to gossip; in short order Cecilia was joined by Priscilla, Miss Larolles, and Mrs. Mears who wanted the latest bulletins on any bloodshed to be reported. With dismay Cecilia found that everyone assumed that " ... she was regarded as the person chiefly regarded in the accident.." Even worse, Sir Robert was very much the strutting turkey, sure of his primacy in Cecilia's affections after the demonstration she had given the previous night. He offered to remain at home with her when she declared her intention of staying in that evening. Cecilia, of course, declined.

A distraction was provided by a note from Mrs. Delvile, inviting Cecilia to breakfast the next morning. The general reports of this lady did not predispose Cecilia to expect any pleasure from this meeting. But she had been wrong before ...

Jill Spriggs

Date: Sat, 4 Jul 1998
Reply-To: Jane Austen List
From: "Jill L. Spriggs"
Subject: Cecilia, Volume I, Book II, Chapter VI: A Family Party

Cecilia found that Mortimer was not the only agreeable Delvile. It was with dread that she went to St. James'-square, and dismay she found that she had mistaken the hour that Mrs. Delvile breakfasted. Upon her arrival she was greeted by the pretentious Mr. Delvile, and was embarrassed to find that even he was aware of the duel and its presumed cause. He questioned her, but attributed her protests of innocence to female delicacy. Cecilia was relieved to see the entrance of Mortimer, who briefly diverted his father from his line of questioning. Mr. Delvile was kind enough to leave them alone together (" ' ... one of my tenants sets out tomorrow morning for my estate in the North, and he has been two hours waiting to speak with me ...' "), giving Mortimer the opportunity to fill Cecilia in on the latest news of Belville. The duellist, protests of his recovery to the contrary, was covering up the true state of his health. He was surrounded by rowdy noisy friends, and not resting as he should.

Mortimer, still unsure of the state of Cecilia's heart in this matter, found that upon questioning, she was ready enough to lay the blame for the incident on Sir Robert; " ' ... he had all the provocation that ill-breeding could give him.' " This interesting train of thought was interrupted by the entrance of his father, who announced that Mrs. Delvile was ready to receive Cecilia, and offered to escort her into her presence.

What a relief for Cecilia when she found that, contrary to general report, Mrs. Delvile and she were instinctively drawn to each other as friends. I loved her teasing of her pompous husband;

" ' I have promised Miss Beverly, madam, ' said Mr. Delvile to his lady, ' that you would give her a kind reception; and I need not remind you that my promises are always held sacred.'

'But I hope you have not also promised, ' cried she [Mrs. Delvile], with quickness, ' that I should give you a kind reception, for I feel at this moment extremely inclined to quarrel with you.'

' Why so, madam?'

' For not bringing us together sooner; for now I have seen her, I already look back with regret to the time I have lost without the pleasure of knowing her. ' "

Pretty flattering!

After an inteval of duelling compliments, the set of male Delviles commenced to further questioning about the circumstances surrounding the duel between Belfield and Sir Robert Floyer. The older man was sure that, as Sir Robert was known to be a gentleman and nothing was known of Belfield, it was logical that of course Belfield must have been at fault. Mortimer, who had come to like Belfield, defended his friend, but his father knew better. It was only with the assistance of Mrs. Delvile that the subject was finally turned to less upsetting subjects. It was apparent that all the Delviles looked at the duel as an affair of the heart, and it was only with time that the truth would come out. In the meantime, Cecilia enjoyed very much the first conversation she had with a sensible female, since she had left home. She left with an invitation to dinner three days hence.

Jill Spriggs

July 4, 1998

Re: Burney: Cecilia: Historical Density and Literary Freshness

Reading over Jill's posts on this chapter I remembered an essay I read early this morning in The London Review of Books in which the author justified the reading of minor novels by the example of Gabriele d'Annunzio. This man was an Italian novelist, politician, poet, and self-styled Byronic hero and lover; he lived in the last years of the 19th and early years of the 20th century. The reviewer suggests good minor novels provide us with historical density and literary freshness. They may not be riveting, original, deeply engaging, but they recreate the period in intriguing ways.

Cecilia qualifies for this. How fascinating that it is Monckton--that devil--who rushes about to save Belfield and acts decently over the duel. How true that Harrel would have been relieved had Floyer died. I'm sure from a remark Austen makes about how the passersby enjoyed the spectacle of Louisa falling from the cob she would have read the ladies' gossip over the duel as so much thrill. And yes it is interesting to read how Cecilia got up early in the morning and what it took to do that.

Ellen Moody

From: Ehrenberg Maria
Subject: Swords X-To: "austen-l@vm1.mcgill.ca"

Could anyone tell me this: For how long did men use swords daily in public? I would have thought that this practise had vanished long = before Cecilia. Did they put it on just for show?

I liked the fine distinction between male and female in the following lines:

"Curiosity, however, was universally excited, and her retreat served but to inflame it: some of the ladies, and most of the gentlemen, upon various pretences, returned into the pit merely to look at her...(Oxford, 1988, p. 139)

Does Burney try to tell us that men were more craving for sensations than women? Or is it merely an expression of cultural pattern? Women were supposed to be modest, silent and demure. Comments anyone?

This will be my last contribution for a fortnight - I am off to England for a holiday - and yes, this time I will, I shall and I must have my picnic on Box Hill. But I am already looking forward to read your contributions on my return.

Maria Ehrenberg

From: "Jill L. Spriggs"
Subject: Cecilia, Volume I, Book II, Chapter VII, An Examination
To: Austen-l@vm1.mcgill.ca

Mrs. Harrel was sorely disappointed in Cecilia's reaction to her visit with Mrs. Delvile. Cecilia noted her jealousy and wisely ceased her praises of the other wife of another of her guardians.

It was with no surprise that Cecilia received the offer of Sir Robert's hand through Mr. Harrell after dinner that day. Obviously Mr. Harrel did not know Cecilia very well when he greeted her refusal with shock. Did he really think that all a young woman looked for in a suitor was noble birth and a full pocketbook (and often not even that)? Mr. Harrel instanced Cecilia's obvious emotion displayed about the duel; it seems that the expected reaction to such an event was either that of Miss Larolles (rushing to the scene, then being as noisy as possible) or Mrs. Harrel (momentary dismay, followed by sleepiness). Cecilia was annoyed when Mr. Harrel literally refused to take no for an answer, and insisted on allowing this wayward young woman time to reflect on the prize she would be throwing away.

The entrance of Mr. Monckton came as a great relief to our heroine, and Cecilia proceeded to fill his delighted ears with her unhappiness with London, and her disappointment in her childhood friend. He also found out why he had been unsuccessful in finding her at any of the fashionable haunts, and was reassured of her constancy to her former, more quiet, ways. Cecilia also shared the news of Sir Robert's proposal to her. He confirmed that calm refusals must eventually have their effect. Cecilia then informed her of her determination to change her residence. His initial delight changed to disquiet when she told him of the home she had chosen; that of the Delviles. Monckton must have known that Cecilia would be inaccessible to him there, and successfully dissuaded her from moving just yet. This decision would cost Cecilia heavily.

Jill Spriggs

From: "Jill L. Spriggs" Subject: Cecilia, Volume I, Book II, Chapter VII, A Tete a Tete
To: austen-l@vm1.mcgill.ca

Although Cecilia was still being annoyed by the confident manner of Sir Robert Floyer, she was glad to hear of the continued recovery of Mr. Belfield from Mr. Arnott. When keeping her promise to dine with the Delviles, she was shown into a room where she found herself alone with Mortimer.

An aside; another reason Mr. Monckton could hardly wish for Cecilia to establish her home with the Delviles, would be the presence of this very person. Mr. Monckton had no desire for Cecilia to form the acquaintance of any eligible bachelors, especially one as prepossessing as the young Mr. Delvile.

Cecilia found that the recovery of Mr. Belfield was by no means as near complete as Mr. Arnott portrayed. His health was still seriously impaired, and he was contemplating a premature removal to the country. It was to prevent this risky journey that Mortimer told Cecilia of his danger. Poor Cecilia was at a loss to determine how she should act. Mortimer offered to share any news he received from the surgeon, Cecilia assured him she had no impatience for this news. She was carefully attempting to avoid any appearance of "dying for love" that had deceived so many about Sir Robert, but she truly did wish Mr. Belfield to recover his health. Mortimer helped her by offering her a recounting of his visit that morning. Mr. Belfield's burning skin that Mortimer felt upon shaking his hand conviced him " ' ...that far from discarding his surgeon, he ought rather to call in a physician. ' " In other words, he should have a more thoroughly trained medical professional caring for him.

Poor Cecilia had no opportunity of correcting Mortimer's mistaken impression (of her love for Belfield) for at this point they were joined by his mother. The three enjoyed dinner together, and the meal was made more lighthearted by the fact that Mr. Delvile senior was out. In describing the mother and son, I took note of a telling word in Burney's description of Mortimer; " ... in Mortimer, sincerity and vivacity joined with softness and elegance ..."

Softness was the word I noticed. For all his prettinesses, Mortimer was, too soft by half.

Jill Spriggs

Sender: Jane Austen List
From: Sallie Knowles
Organization: Great Basin College
Subject: Cecilia, volume I, chapter 6 - Mr. Delvile Sr.

When I read this chapter, "A Family Party", Mr. Delvile Sr's conversation struck me as very like a mix of Mr. Collins and Lady Catherine - solemn and pompous. After greeting her after she arrives to breakfast and finds she's arrived way too early, he says,

"I have received information, from authority which I cannot doubt, that the indiscretion of certain of your admirers last Saturday at the Opera-house, occasioned a disturbance which to a young woman of delicacy I should imagine must be very alarming: now as I consider myself concerned in your fame and welfare from regarding you as my ward, I think it is incumbent upon me to make enquiries into such of your affairs as become public; for I should feel in some measure disgraced myself, should it appear to the world, while you are under my guardianship, that there was any want of propriety in the direction of your conduct."

I can just hear both Mr. Collins and Lady Catherine in that speech, but more Mr. Collins. We have too that notion of propriety and his fear Cecilia has not been behaving as his ward should. His next speech reminded me more of Lady Catherine when Cecilia tries to suggest he might have been misinformed and he says :

"I am not much addicted," he replied, " to give ear to anything lightly;..." "And let me, at the same time, assure you there is no other young lady who has any right to expect such an attention from me."

It's that "...expect such an attention from me." that does it I guess.

I find interesting Ellen's breakdown of Mortimer Delvile's name. I hadn't thought of Mort being the word for death. I'm also never sure how to pronounce English names since they rarely seem to adhere to the phonics I learned in school. So even though it's "vile" in spelling, I wasn't sure that's how it would be pronounce in England. When I watched S&S2 (the Emma Thompson version), I was surprised to hear "Ferrars" pronounced like the carnival ride "ferris" wheel. Of course, I expected it to be pronounced like Jose Ferrar.

In Elko where summer has finally arrived - we went from barely making it
to 70 degrees one day to 80 the next and 90 the next.

Re: Cecilia: Delvile Sr : Collins and Lady Catherine combined?

I too was struck by the similarity of language in "A Family Party" of Delvile Senior's speech to that of Mr Collins; in "A Perplexity" his shameless arrogance and rudeness reminded me of Lady Catherine.

One is therefore led to ask, if Mr Collins and Lady Catherine de Bourgh are really caricatures. Late in the volume of letters Austen writes to a courtier who speaks with the pompous fatuousness of Collins; it is said he was modelled on someone she knew who might have proposed to her in just the solemn intonation of Collins to Elizabeth--and also thought himself doing her a great favor. Aristocratic women of Lady Catherine's type would be sheltered and kow-towed too by everyone who met them.

Perhaps we should reconsider P&P. Is Miss Bingley all that much of a caricature? Mrs Bennet?

Ellen Moody

From: "Jill L. Spriggs"
Subject: Cecilia, volume I, chapter 6 - Mr. Delvile Sr.

Sallie, I think you have hit on something. Jane Austen was known to be fond of the works of Frances Burney. I think she could well have had Mr. Delvile in mind when she wrote of both Lady Catherine and Mr. Collins, as well as that imperious aunt of hers.

Jill Spriggs

Subject: Indirect address in Cecilia

Mortimer Delvile says to Cecilia:

"Though there, perhaps, as I had also the honor of first seeing Miss Beverley, I might be too happy to feel much difficulty in being pleased." (V.1 Book 2, Chapter 6)

There are other examples of this indirect address in both Cecilia and Evelina (Remember how many times men talk to Evelina about herself using "Miss Anville"). Why is that? We don't see this kind of thing in Austen. Several examples that I can remember from P&P are talking about a third person when s/he is present. When I read the above sentence (or the others) substituting "you" with the name, it seems much too forward. Was that the reason?

BTW in Austen we don't see any of these flattery stuff, either. First I thought because Evelina was poor and nobody knew of her family, men took any liberty they pleased with her. But we see the same flattery for Cecilia who is an heiress. And nobody thinks this is an unaccaptable form of behavior. Even the for now most well-behaved Mortimer does this.

Which brings me to another issue. When the white domino is revealed to be Mr. Delvile's - one of Cecilia's guardians - son I was wondering how the author would talk about him (by which name). She uses Mortimer Delvile couple of times, but usually resorts to "the young Delvile" (which reminds me too much of "the young Branghton"). We know that when there were 2 (or more) Miss Somebody, the eldest would get the last name and the rest would be Miss Their names. (Miss Bennet for Jane and Miss Elizabeth for Lizzy). I guess the same doesn't hold for men. What would people do when both the father and the son were present? (the same problem existed for the Tilneys but one was General so it distinguished them) Obviously people cannot address Mortimer as "the young Delvile" to his face.

I am also wondering about how "Delvile" is pronounced. As I know nothing about phonetics I can't tell you that way but I don't think it is pronounced the same way as "Delville". My guess is reading the second part as one reads "vile" but then it sounds too strange. Any ideas?

"There is but such a quantity of merit between them; just enough to make one good sort of man."

Aysin Dedekorkut

In general, I don't think Jane Austen liked this device (especially not when someone uses their own name in the third person):

"And I do not like a lover speaking in the 3rd person; it is too much like the formal part of Lord Orville, and I think it not natural. If you think differently, however, you need not mind me." -- Letter to Anna Austen Lefroy, May/June 1814

Henry Churchyard

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