Volume 3, Book 6, Chapters 7-11

An Anecdote; A Conference; The Starving Gypsy and Her Baby; Burney and Austen's new kind of heroes: heroes of sensibility; The Style; An Attack; Mortimer's and Darcy's Unforgivable Proposals; A Retreat; A Worry; Cecilia and P&P; Cecilia: Northanger Abbey & S&S; A Gothic Place & Lonely Woman; Echoes of Burney in Austen

From: "Jill L. Spriggs"
Subject: Cecilia. Vol. III, Bk. VI, Ch. VII, An Anecdote

August 24, 1998

Lady Honoria seemed to derive considerable amusement from the fussing of the Delviles over their ailing son. One must suspect that it took all his forbearance to avoid snapping at them, "Just leave me alone," especially as, in his state of mind, solitude was probably his greatest desire. Cecilia joined the family group when Mortimer made his first appearance upon leaving his sickbed, and noticed, to her surprise, that he somehow seemed to be less melancholy. Mortimer left with Lord Ernolf to go riding, and his father and Lord Ernolf went to survey some proposed improvements to be made to the property. Lady Honoria left in pursuit of amusement, leaving Cecilia alone with Mrs. Delvile for the first time in weeks. They comfortably worked and conversed all the morning until Lady Honoria made a noisy entrance, eager to drop a bombshell. It was that Mortimer had his mistress, " ' ... brought ... down here; he sent for her about three weeks ago, and he has boarded her at a cottage, about half a mile from the Park-gate.' " (Oxford Cecilia, edd. MADoody and PSabor, p. 490) Cecilia, thinking of Henrietta Belfield, ill concealed her distress. "She forced herself, however, to continue her work, though she knew so little of what she was about, that she put her needle in and out of the same place without ceasing." Mrs. Delvile was furious, and Lady Honoria defensively responded, " ' ... since you are so angry, I'll tell you the whole affair, for this is but half of it. He has a child here, too, -- I vow I long to see it! -- and he is so fond of it that he spends half his time in nursing it; -- and that, I suppose, is the thing that takes him out so much; and I fancy, too, that's what has made him grow so grave, for may be he thinks it would not be pretty to be very frisky, now he's a papa.' " Cecilia and Mrs. Delvile both were stuck dumb, and Lady Honoria helpfully observed, " ' Bless me, Miss Beverley, what are you about! why that flower is the most ridiculous thing I ever saw! you have spoilt your whole work!' " When Lady Honoria further commented upon Cecilia's pallor, Mrs. Delvile noticed the alternate blushes with paleness, and, no doubt, drew her own conclusions. She mercifully took the teasing Lady Honoria out of Cecilia's presence, allowing Cecilia time to try to recover herself. Wouldn't you know that it was just then that she was surprised with the sudden arrival of Mortimer. Cecilia dropped her work in her haste to quit the room, and when Mortimer tried to help her gather it, and asking, " ' Miss Beverley, for three minutes only.' ' The outraged Miss Beverley responded, " ' No, Sir, ... not for an instant!' " (p. 492) and fled for the shelter of her own room.

Repentance quickly was felt; Cecilia was conscious that Lady Honoria could scarcely be relied upon as an impeccable source of intelligence, and she could well have wronged Mortimer. She was painfully conscious, at dinner, that Mortimer " ... seemed greatly hurt, yet it was proudly, not sorrowfully ...". (p. 493)

Lord Orville would never have suspected Evelina in a similar situation.

Mrs. Delvile, now aware of Cecilia's secret, " .. was more soft, kind, and gentle with Cecilia than ever, looking at her with the utmost tenderness, often taking her hand, and speaking to her with even unusual sweetness." Mortimer was offended, and confined his conversation to the men of the company.

At bedtime, Mrs. Delvile followed Cecilia to her room, and dismissed her maid so they could be alone. She then told Cecilia that she had sifted to the bottom of Lady Honoria's accusations, and found that Mortimer had about two weeks earlier, found a "gipsey [woman], sitting by the side of the high road, who seemed extremely ill, and who had a very beautiful child tied to her back." (p. 494) He had arranged for her shelter and medical care at a nearby cottage, and had gone to check on her and the child twice. It was from that basis that Lady Honoria had concocted her fanciful tale. Mrs. Delvile did her best to humiliate Lady Honoria into a mending of her ways, but the outcome would be as doubtful as one might expect.

Cecilia then " ... forgot all her cares and apprehensions, her quarrel, her suspicions, and the approaching separation, and recompensed for every thing by this refutation of his guilt, she hastened to bed, and composed herself to rest." (p. 495)

But she still had to make up with the offended Mortimer ...

Jill Spriggs

From Jill Spriggs
Subject: Cecilia, Vol. III, Bk. VI, Ch. VIII, A Conference

The unrepentant Lady Honoria told Cecilia her own version of the "mistress" story the next day. " ' ... for, after all, ... what did the whole matter signify? and how could I possibly help the mistake? when I heard of his paying for a woman's board, what was so natural as to suppose she must be his mistress? especially as there was a child in the case.' " (Oxford Cecilia,edd. MADoody and PSabor, p. 495) Even after Cecilia remonstrated with her obtuse friend, she nattered on, " ' I looked hard at the baby, to see if it was like Mortimer, but I could not make it out; those young things are like nothing. I tried if it would talk, for I wanted sadly to make it call Mrs. Delvile grandmamma; however the little urchin could say nothing to be understood. O what a rage would Mrs. Delvile have been in!' " (p. 496)

Poor Mrs. Delvile. As though it were not enough to be married to such a blockhead as her husband, to be saddled with such annoying houseguests!

Cecilia longed to make peace with Mortimer, but the opportunity did not present itself. If the newly begun watchfulness on the part of Mrs. Delvile did not prevent her, the "coldness and pride" of Mortimer did. Lady Honoria, noting a more sedate breakfast gathering that she liked, asked Mrs. Delvile why she was sending Mortimer to Bristol. Mrs. Delvile replied that she hoped Lady Honoria would never need to go on a trip for a similar reason. Lady H then resumed her teasing of Cecilia by proposing that they all accompany Mortimer on his trip, targeting Cecilia by adding, " ' Miss Beverley, would you like to join it? I am afraid it would be vastly disagreeable to you.' "(p. 496) Mrs. Delvile sympathetically took Cecilia off to her own rooms for a chat, one Cecilia had looked forward to with trepidation.

Mrs. Delvile, seeing Cecilia's disturbance of mind, conversed on neutral subjects until she saw she had calmed herself. She complained of the heedless Lady Honoria. Mrs. Delvile introduced the contemplation of marriage as a subject which had concerned her much of late:

" ' How few are there, how very few, who marry at once upon principles rational, and feelings pleasant! interest and inclination are eternally at strife, and where either is wholly sacrificed, the other is inadequate to happiness. Yet how rarely do they divide the attention! the young are rash, and the aged are mercenary; their deliberations are never in concert, their views are scarce ever blended; one vanquishes, and the other submits; neither party temporizes, and commonly each is unhappy.

'The time,' she continued, ' is now arrived when reflections of this sort cannot too seriously occupy me; the errors I have observed in others I would fain avoid committing; yet such is the blindness of self-love, that perhaps, even at the moment I censure them,, I am falling without consciousness, into the same! nothing, however, through negligence be wrong; for where is the son who merits care and attention, if Mortimer from his parents deserves not to meet them?' " (p. 498)

Sounded pretty promising.

Mrs. Delvile then began to speak of her concern to see Mortimer well established in marriage. Cecilia apprehensively suspected that Mrs. Delvile was about to offer her services in persuading Mortimer to a match. Not exactly. She went through a long list of desirable attributes of a prospective bride for her son. Mrs. Delvile mentioned that she and her husband had considered Lady Honoria (horrors!) then Lady Euphrasia for their son, but Mortimer was not drawn to either one.

Cecilia heard Mrs. Delvile with steadily mounting emotion, which Mrs. Delvile could see. Mrs. Delvile concluded her talk with, " ' I will torment you no more, my sweet young friend, with perplexities which you cannot relieve: this only I will say, and then drop the subject forever: when my solicitude for Mortimer is removed, and he is established to the satisfaction of us all, no care will remain in the heart of his mother, half so fervent, so anxious and so sincere as the disposal of my amiable Cecilia, for whose welfare and happiness my wishes are even maternal.' " ( p. 501)

Shot down! The hopes of Cecilia were punctured through with this last speech, and Mrs. Delvile, seeing Cecilia's speechless emotion, left her without another word.

Cecilia saw that she could not rely on Mrs. Delvile as an ally in a proposed >marital union with Mortimer.

" ' Yet why, ... oh why, is it deemed so! that she loves me, she is ever eager to proclaim, that my fortune would be >eculiarly useful, she makes not a secret, and that I, at least, should start >o insuperable objections, she has, alas! but too obviously discovered! Has >he doubts of her son? -- no, she has too much discernment; the father, then, the haughty, impracticable father, has destined him for some woman of rank, and will listen to no other alliance.' " (p. 502)

This conclusion soothed Cecilia, but the knowledge that her partiality was so generally known, and that Mrs. Delvile had seen fit to stop any hopes she might cherish, without any possibility of realization, was mortifying. She was then heartily regretting the change of residence in which she had once placed such hopes. Cecilia resolved to spend every moment before Mortimer's departure in the company of Lady Honoria, which would allow her not a moment in which to indulge in painful thoughts.

Jill Spriggs

From Ellen Moody
Subject: Cecilia, Vol. III, Bk. VI, Ch. VIII, A Conference

I can't but think that if Burney had more power to invoke a presences on the page the modern reader could believe in, we would loathe Honoria. She is malicious. Probably in her own time people who read the book simply filled out the outline offered with their own imagination.

In the next chapter I was startled by Cecilia's angry coldness towards Mortimer when he tried to explain his motives. I have an idea Burney wants me to understand she is proud and has strong self-esteem; instead it came off as strangely out of touch.

Mortimer himself is in conception a young man of sensibility. He is overwrought, emotional, and, again were Burney to be able to pour forth emotions like Sterne can, could fit in a Sterne novel.

One problem we might have is the importance people attached to names. But if it had become common to leave estates to a female only if the male would change his name upon marrying her, we must concede to the 18th century it was important. Austen's third brother changed his last name; others were coerced into putting a Leigh in front and hyphenating a name and so on.

I have been thinking that ultimately to most readers to read any book before the 20th century is to read something which comes across as a historical novel. If in Burney's time, she was writing of the contemporary world, that is not so for us. We cannot but read her book as a mirror of an earlier historical time. This too is true of Austen's books. Of course that makes of novels written as historical at the time, two removes from our present imaginative reality.

Ellen Moody

From Ellen Moody
Re: Burney, Cecilia:III:6:7: The Starving Gypsy and Her Baby

Again Burney compares favorably with Austen on the depiction of the gypsies. I know I am picking out this strand and emphasising it while in the book what is emphasised is Honoria's suspicion, Cecilia's appalled fear, the mother's awkwardness, the mortification of Mortimer, but in this chapter we get a reasonable sense of the gypsy as a woman, not an ogre or just rabble. We hear of how she's starving; of how she has a baby to feed. Again we are in the literature of sensibility and sentimentality because Mortimer's first impulse is to help, to provide, not to alert the nearest version of a police officer to be had in order to get them away from "respectable" people.

Ellen Moody

Re: Burney and Austen's new kind of heroes: heroes of sensibility

This is to say I am now reading Moreland Perkins's book-long study of S&S. Among other very interesting things he talks about is how Austen in her S&S is trying to present less stereotyped versions of male and female personalities and explore the stereotypes too. In Marianne and Willoughby she explores the anima (the masochistic emotional female) and the animus (the rake, the dark villain, the cool distanced type who abandons the lady). I take my terms from Jung. But in Elinor we have a woman who is intellectual; she takes the man's position in the household. She is strong and can control her passion. Even more interesting is an analysis of Edward which suggests Austen is getting beyond a stereotype to show us a sensitive melancholy male who is hurt by his family, who doesn't want to compete for the Biggest Prize Around. I am typing quickly and not doing justice to the analysis, but it's persuasive in its argument that even if Edward is not sufficiently dramatised the conception is good and touching and even radical still today..

I'd like to say a "however" to this book: Mr Perkins seems to think Austen is highly original in this. I am not so sure. It seems to me this type is first found in StPreux in Rousseau's La Nouvelle Heloise and then in hundreds of variations in the literature of sensiblity of the period. Hence Mortimer's personality. On the other hand, I agree that Elinor is an unusual conception in some ways. Though again I am not sure she is that different from Cecilia. She is certainly more believable; she's a lived in felt presence that is poignant and intelligent in a way Burney fails to convey.

I have thought of a joke behind Mortimer's name. Burney so curiously contains in herself sensibility and Restoration impulses. He is endlessly continually mortified. Mortified Mortimer. So too is Edward mortified when Marianne discovers him wearing a ring with a lock of hair in it on his finger. I thought perhaps the word "death" was hinted at; I now think not. It's a joke. Still I'll stay with "vile" for Delvile. He has a vile pride.

Ellen Moody

Re: Burney, Cecilia The Style

One final post for now. The real problem with Cecilia is the style. Lascelles quotes a passage from _Camilla_ in which the young Camilla is described at home as a child. It's grandiloquent and stilted. A bit absurd. For some reason when Burney turns away from epistolary narrative which its reliance on dramatic dialogue as the main way of conveying all events, she loses her grip on the pulse of the heart through words.

There are some good comments by Lascelles on Burney's style vis-a-vis Austen's in this week's chapter. It must be said one might wish Lascelles were as forthrightly critical of Austen as she is of Burney.

Ellen Moody

Date: Tue, 25 Aug 1998
Reply-To: Jane Austen List
From: "Jill L. Spriggs"
Subject: Cecilia, Vol. III, Bk. VI, Ch. IX, An Attack

Mortimer's journey, which to begin the next day, was the exclusive subject of tea time discourses. He was to travel in the early morning, not at all in the heat of the day. Lady Honoria took advantage of this information to inform Cecilia facetiously that she had heard that early rising was very good for the health. Cecilia solemnly stated that she intended to keep her usual hours. Lady Honoria's teasing of both Cecilia and Mortimer reminds me of the grade school chant, "Cissy and Mortie, up in the tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g," and the reactions of both must have gratified her. Lady H likened Cecilia and Mortimer to Romeo and Juliet, with Lord Derford acting Paris. IMHO, Lady H would have suited the part of Mercutio to a T. She moaned about her lack of success in spurring Lord Derford to challenge Mortimer to a duel. Cecilia tried to tell Lord Derford that Lady Honoria was only teasing, but Lady H threatened to tell Mortimer of Cecilia's tender regard for him, if she persisted in spoiling her fun. Encouraged by Cecilia's look of alarm, she called to Mortimer, asking him to " ' ...come hither...' " (Oxford Cecilia, edd. MADoody and PSabor, p. 504). Cecilia finally wised up enough to realized that resistance was sure to increase Lady Honoria's pleasure in her game, which took a turn that amused even me.

" ' I have something,' continued her ladyship, ' of the utmost consequence to communicate to you. We have been settling an admirable plan for you; will you promise to be guided by us if I tell it you? '

' O certainly!' cried he; ; to doubt that would disgrace us all round.'

' Well, then, -- Miss Beverley, have you any objection to my proceeding?'

' None at all!' answered Cecilia, who had the understanding to know that the greatest excitement to ridicule is opposition.

Well then, I must tell you, ' she continued, it is the advice of us all, that as soon as you come to the possession of your estate, you make some capital alterations in this ancient castle'

Cecilia, greatly relieved, could with gratitude have embraced her: and Mortimer, very certain that such rattle was all her own, promised the utmost submission to her orders, and begged her further directions, declaring that he could not, at least desire a fairer architect.

' What we mean, said she, 'may be effected with the utmost ease; it is only to take out these old windows, and fix some thick iron grates in their place, and so turn the castle into a gaol for the county.' "

Mortimer thought her proposition pretty amusing, but even funnier was Mr. Delvile's reaction upon inadvertently overhearing this idea.

" ' If I thought my son capable of putting such an insult upon his ancestors, whatever may be the value I feel for him, I would banish him from my presence for ever.'

' Dear sir,' cried Lady Honoria, ' how would his ancestors ever know it?' " (p. 505)


Lady Honoria continued upon this theme until she drew even Mrs. Delvile into the discussion. Seeing she had gone too far, she hustled Cecilia out into the park, Cecilia scolding all the way. Lady H was a being so utterly beyond Cecilia's comprehension, reading about the two of them at odds was almost as much fun for me as it was for Lady H.

I know, I know, it is only a book.

When Cecilia realized Lady Honoria's intention of making Lord Derford "prostrate himself at [her] feet" ( p. 508) Cecilia about faced and headed back to the house. When she reentered the drawing room, whom should she find alone but Mortimer, who was in the process of composing a letter. Cecilia was about to leave him when " ... he called out in a reproachful tone, ' Will you not even enter the same room with me? ' " (p. 509) Cecilia, realizing her moment of trial had come, returned.

This scene brought recollections of Darcy's proposal to Elizabeth Bennet. The proud man, telling of irresistible passion, against duty, pride, all logic. The indignant woman, rejecting the offer so unattractively made.

Mortimer began ill. He first closed all doors, almost as though he wished to take no chances of anyone overhearing his shameful tale. At least he did not begin in the haughty manner used by Darcy; " ' This indulgence, madam, deserves my most grateful acknowledgments; it is indeed, what I had little right, and still less reason, after the severity I have met with from you, to expect.' ' His pride reasserted itself, however, and his initial tone resumed. He took a full page just to tell her that he had decided to tell her what was bothering him.

Finally he got to it. He had heard of Cecilia from an unsuccessful suitor, before her uncle had died. When he found that this " ' ... lady, so adored, and so cruel ... ' " was to attend a masked ball at Mr. Harrel's, he decided to get a gander at her, safely anonymous in a disguise. The obstacle to a marriage between the two was summarized in the sentence; " ' I will only say that something warned me instantly to avoid you, since the clause in your uncle's will was already well known to me.' " ( p. 511)

Cecilia's reaction was predictable; " Now, then, at last ... all perplexity is over! -- the change of name is the obstacle; he inherits all the pride of his family, -- and therefore to that family will I unrepining leave him!" ( p. 511)

Mortimer continued that when he found that Cecilia was, as he thought, engaged to be married to Sir Robert Floyer, he could pursue his taste to learn more of her in safety. He did acknowledge himself to be in a state of " ' ...restlessness about your affairs that kept me in eternal perturbation; but I flattered myself that it was mere curiosity, and only excited by the perpetual change of opinion to which occasion gave rise, concerning which was the happy man.' "

Cecilia was not impressed.

Mortimer then told Cecilia of his feelings upon finding that she was not engaged to either Sir Robert or Belfield. " ' O what was the agitation of my whole soul at that instant! -- to know you disengaged, -- to see you before me, -- by the disorder of my whole frame to discover the mistake I had cherished -- ' " ( p. 512)

Cecilia did not like this, but she liked what was to come even less.

" ' From the hour that my ill-destined passion was fully known to myself, I weighed all the consequences of indulging it, and found, added to the extreme hazard of success, an impropriety even in the attempt. My honour in the honour of my family is bound; what to that would seem wrong, in me would be unjustifiable: yet where inducements so numerous were opposed by one single objection! -- where virtue, beauty, education and family were all unexceptionable, -- O cruel clause! barbarous and repulsive clause! that forbids my aspiring to the first of women, by an action that with my own family would degrade me forever!' " (p. 513)

Mortimer then told Cecilia how difficult it had been for him to hide his feelings, but Cecilia finally burst forth: " ' Why Sir,' cried Cecilia angrily, ' and for what purpose all this?' " (p. 513)

Mortimer told her that he intended to explain what must have seemed mysterious, and then to fly her presence forever. Cecilia, not exactly flattered by this tale, was not encouraging. She walked out with all the outraged dignity she could muster. At least she no longed need dread their coming separation. She desired it as much as he seemed to.

Jill Spriggs

August 28, 1998

Re: Burney: Cecilia, III:6:9: Mortimer's and Darcy's Unforgivable Proposals

I had not noticed the close similarity of Mortimer's ultimately arrogant stance towards Cecilia and Cecilia's cold repulsion of him to that of Darcy's shameless pride and disgust with what he's doing and Elizabeth's raging indignation. Jill's right; here's the source of the later scene.

The differences between the two scenes show how hard it is to connect what is genius with what makes for a good scene, for in fact Austen's scene is cruder, harsher. Mortimer is all abject apology; he practically weeps over his inability to ask Cecilia to marry him. He tactfully alludes to the clause which would deprive him of his name were he to take Cecilia's wealth with Cecilia. This is probably just as probable psychologically, but it makes for a ludicrous scene. We loathe Darcy; we laugh at Mortimer. Cecilia's cold repulsion is hard to understand because Mortimer weeps; it's only when we think about the values Mortimer is following without even being forced to we understand why she behaves the way she does. We are with Elizabeth all the way; we too want to get back for the humiliation and snub Darcy subjected Elizabeth to when they first met; we know how she feels mortified by her family and how she would like to assert she is not them. How could he define her thus? We enjoy her thrusts and repartees. She is passionate where Cecilia is cool. Again both portraits are probable, but Elizabeth's works better as a scene in a novel.

Another place where Austen is superior is in the plot. We cannot take all that seriously this business of names; I can't quite believe people in the 18th century would have not seen this "barrier" as anything but superficial and artificial if only because so many of them changed their names to inherit property without blinking. And aristocrats too. Austen mocked the artificial barriers we will find in Camilla. No one can mock Darcy's appalled discomfort with Mrs Bennet or Collins. In fact what drives Elizabeth's passion is her sense he's right in part. Therefore (such is the involuted way human nature works) she gets all the more angry at him.

Finally there is simply the reality that Darcy has left himself vulnerable, open to this. He has condescended to ask the lady to marry him. Mortimer has not lent himself to outright insult. Possibly this too makes Cecilia so angry; she cannot rage at him because he has not offered to love her. Here too we enter into Austen's scene in a way we cannot into Burney for we also identify with Darcy -- eventually (let's say the third reread).

People reading along in Cecilia will say, but wait the dialogue in Burney is much more unreal or stilted. Go back and look at Darcy's language; as Lascelles notes, Austen learned to write more flexible realistic language in her later 3 novels. Darcy and Elizabeth's language is on fire with Austen's anger and genius and desire to get her own, but it is not really any more probable than the lines Jill quoted.

Very interesting Jill.

Ellen Moody

From: "Jill L. Spriggs"
Subject: Cecilia, Vol. III, Bk. VI, Ch. X, A Retreat

As the last chapter was "an attack", we now have "a retreat".

Cecilia rose late the next day, hoping to avoid both Lady Honoria's teasing and the sight of the departure of Mortimer. Not late enough, though; the household was in an uproar because, as Lady Honoria put it, " ' ... our great statesman intends to leave us; he can't trust his baby out of his sight, so he is going to nurse him upon the road himself. Poor pretty Mortimer! what a puppet they do make of him!' " (Oxford Cecilia, ed. M. A. Doody and P. Sabor, p. 515)

I know that Lady Honoria was not happy unless she were teasing someone, but I really do not understand the point of giving Mortimer such a hard time because his parents were so overprotective. Her rigging a bib for him, wrapping it as a parcel with the note, " ' A pin-a-fore for Master Mortimer Delvile, lest he should daub his pappy when he is feeding him, ' " seems to me to be a rather cruel bit of play.

Mr. Delvile made numerous apologies to his guests, the Lords Derford and Ernolf, for leaving them, but since they were really there to see Cecilia, they did not much regret his departure. When Cecilia, Lady Honoria and the two lords breakfasted together, the two men decided to accompany the Delviles on horseback on the first stage. They left to make preparations, Lady Honoria also, to deliver the package with the bib, leaving Cecilia alone when Mortimer entered, " ... booted, and equipped for his journey." (p. 516)

The pride which had sustained Mortimer the previous day was gone, and depression had taken its place. " ' Miss Beverley here! and alone! ... and does she not fly as I approach her? can she patiently bear in her sight one so strange, so fiery, so inconsistent? But she is too wise to resent the ravings of a madman; -- and who, under the influence of a passion at once hopeless and violent, can boast, but at intervals, full possession of his reason? ' " (p. 516)

Cecilia was disarmed by his melancholy, and saddened by his referrals to his "madness". She tried to distract him by asking if he was leaving soon, and he responded, " ' I believe so; I only wait for my father. But why is Miss Beverley so impatient? I shall not soon return; that, at least, is certain, and, for a few instants delay, may surely offer some palliation; -- see! if I am not ready to again accuse you of severity! -- I must run, I find, or all my boasted reformation will end but in fresh offence, fresh disgrace, and fresh contrition! Adieu, madam! -- and may all prosperity attend you! That will be ever my darling wish, however long my absence, however distant the climates which may part us!' "

Cecilia did not realize that Mortimer intended to leave England, but he intended to get as far from danger as he could.

" ' ... why should I remain in it? a few weeks only could I fill up in any tour so near home, and hither in a few weeks to return would be folly and madness: in an absence so brief, what thought but that of the approaching meeting would occupy me? and what, at that meeting, should I feel, but joy the most dangerous, and delight which I dare not think of! -- every conflict renewed, ever struggle re-felt, again all this scene would require to be acted, again I must tear myself away, and every tumultuous passion now beating in my heart would be revived, and, if possible, be revived with added misery! -- No! -- neither my temper nor my constitution will endure such another shock, one parting shall suffice, and the fortitude with which I will lengthen my self-exile, shall atone to myself for the weakness which makes it requisite.' " (pp. 517-518)

He began to rush out, but Cecilia emotionally pleaded for " ' Two moments, Sir! ' "

It seems to me that only Cecilia's perceived coldness to him prevented Mortimer from daring all to "cast himself at her feet". His response to her involuntary cry was, " ' Two thousand! two million! ... What is it Miss Beverley will condescend to command?' "

Getting a grip, Cecilia responded, " ' ...[I wish] to beg you will by no means, upon my account, quit your country and your friends, since another asylum can be found for myself, and since I would much sooner part from Mrs. Delvile, greatly and sincerely as I reverence her, than be instrumental to robbing her, even for a month, of her son. ' "

With renewed anguish, Mortimer cried,

" ' Generous and humane is the consideration ... but who half so generous, so humane as Miss Beverley? so soft to all others, so noble in herself? Can my mother have a wish, when I leave her with you? [possibly for her son's return to good health, and attachment to a more appropriate object] No, she is sensible of your worth, she adores you, almost as I adore you myself! you are now under her protection, you seem, indeed, born for each other; let me not, then deprive her of so honourable a charge: -- Oh, why must he, who sees in such colours the excellencies of both, who admires with such fervour the perfections you unite, be torn with this violence from the objects he reveres, even though half his life he would sacrifice, to spend in their society what remained! ... [taking her hand] Oh too lovely Miss Beverley! -- why, why must I quit you!' " (pp. 518- 519)

Cecilia, pulling her hand away, fled the room. In depression she mused on the scene just past, when Lady Honoria noisily entered. She immediately noticed the struggle Cecilia was having to resist collapsing in tears, and pertly offered, " ' I believe, my dear, I must find another napkin for you! not, however, for your mouth, but for your eyes! Has Mortimer taken leave of you? ' " ( p. 519) When Lady Honoria ran off to get Mortimer to "console" Cecilia, she decided then was a propitious time to take a stroll in the Park. She got safely away, and in an isolated grove, sat and bemoaned the loss of her lover to her friend, Mortimer's dog Fidel, " weeping without caution or restraint". (p. 520) Her confidential discourses with her lover's dog would be the means for a resolution of this problem of a lover who fights his passion.

Jill Spriggs

From: "Jill L. Spriggs"
Subject: _Cecilia_, Vol. III, Bk. VI, Ch. XI, A Worry

The evidence of Cecilia's recent tearful activities was obvious when she entered the dining room, having been summoned from her solitude by the dinner bell. Lady Honoria proceeded to tease Cecilia about her "cold" which cue Mrs. Delvile took up, to urge her friend to " ' ... shade your eyes with your hat, and after dinner you shall bathe them in rose water ... ' " (Oxford Cecilia, ed. M. A. Doody and P. Sabor, p. 521)

Lady Honoria enlarged upon her theme by pronouncing, " ' This cold is a judgment upon you for leaving me alone all this morning; but I suppose you chose a tete a tete with your favourite, without the intrusion of any third person.' " Cecilia insisted that she had been alone, but Lady H pointed out, " ' Is it possible that you could so forget yourself? ... Had you not your dearly beloved with you?' " (p. 522) She really had everyone going until she solved the mystery with, " ' Miss Beverley has two companions, and I am one, and Fidel is the other; but Fidel was with her all this morning, and she would not admit me to the conference. I suppose she had something private to say to him of his master's journey.' "

Mrs. Delvile was surprised that Mortimer had not taken Fidel with him, but seeing the unease the subject gave Cecilia, changed it.

The next two days Cecilia spent always in company, fearing another torrent of tears if she indulged herself with solitude. The third brought letters from Mortimer and his father. Mortimer wrote "gaily", but his father had feelings of foreboding about his son's health taking a turn for the worse. Mrs. Delvile struggled to perform her duties as hostess, but as the letters became more serious, both she and Cecilia had difficulty in "appearing chearful and unconcerned". Lady Honoria's visit was shortly to come to an end, and Mrs. Delvile " ... proposed, half laughing and half seriously, that the whole party should accompany her. [to Bristol]" (p. 523) The two lords insisted on escorting her, but Cecilia noticed that the general invitation did not encompass her. She, wishing to relieve Mrs. Delvile, asked permission to visit her old friend Mrs. Charlton. Mrs. Delvile, seeing Cecilia's reason for visiting Suffolk as avoiding her dangerous proximity to Mortimer, responded, " ' ... sweet Cecilia! ... yes, you are all that I thought you! good, wise, discreet, tender, and noble at once! -- how to part with you, indeed, I know not, -- but you shall do as you please, for that I am sure will be right, and therefore I will make no opposition.' "

Mr. Delvile gave his permission, and Mortimer, in the same post, asked his mother to send Fidel on. Lady Honoria urged Cecilia to secrete him "slyly into Suffolk" but Cecilia indignantly responded, " ' I would as soon ... take with me the side-board of plate, for I should scarcely think it more a robbery. ' " (pp. 524 - 525)

Lord Ernolf was dismayed when he heard that Cecilia would not be accompanying Mrs. Delvile to Bristol (remember it in Evelina?). Shortly, she asked Cecilia how she would receive marital overtures from Lord Ernolf. Cecilia firmly said she would not be interested. Mrs. Delvile promised to see that no more would come from that quarter, and commented that one thing only would make such an alliance attractive; his title. Cecilia told her titles did not matter to her, and Mrs. Delvile, smiling, replied, " ' I mean not by way of gratification to your pride, but to his; since a title, by taking place of a family name, would obviate the only objection that any man could form to an alliance with Miss Beverley. ' "

Point taken.

Cecilia took one day to ready herself for departure, and left with Mrs. Delvile's professions of love ringing in her ears. Her last words to Cecilia left a rather sour taste, however, " ' ... you carry with you my highest approbation, my love, my esteem, my fondest wishes! -- and shall I -- yes, generous girl! I will add my warmest gratitude!' " ( p. 527)

" [Cecilia] saw throughout the whole behavior of Mrs. Delvile, a warmth of regard which, though thoroughly opposed by family pride, made her almost miserable to promote the very union she thought necessary to discountenance; she saw, too, that it was with the utmost difficulty she preserved the steadiness of her opposition, and that she had a conflict perpetual with herself, to forbear openly acknowledging the contrariety of her wishes, and perplexity of her distress; but chiefly she was struck with the expressive use of the word gratitude." (p. 527)

Cecilia felt that if Delvile knew how she really felt, he would " ... double his vigilance to avoid and forget me ..." (p. 528) . She did not sleep well that long night.

The reflections of the next morning, thinking of Mortimer's exile, his ill health, the fact that she would probably never see him again, made her self control difficult. " ... compelled therefore to hasten to the chaise; she flung herself in, and, leaning back, drew her hat over her eyes, and thought, as the carriage drove off, her last hope of earthly happiness extinguished.

Heavy thoughts for a twenty-one year old!

Jill Spriggs

To Austen-l

August 30, 1998

Re: Burney: Cecilia and P&P

I thought I might just make a practice of jotting down all the close echoes in Cecilia to the title of Austen's first written if second published novel, Pride and Prejudice. In this past week's chapters, there was the following about Mortimer's choice to leave Cecilia:

"Oh strange infatuation of unconquerable prejudice!" (Oxford ed Cecilia, PSabor and MADoody, p. 528).

Again and again Mr and Mrs Delvile are connected with the word "pride". Ellen Moody

To Austen-l

August 30, 1998

Re: Burney: Cecilia: Northanger Abbey & S&S

Before we embarked on our present reading of Burney's novels chronologically, I said one of the reasons I wanted to read the novels after Evelina was even a cursory or fast reading through Cecilia had persuaded me that in this novel I found a tone and attitudes towards life closer to Austen's than anything I had ever read. None of her contemporaries seemed to me to have the tune of Austen in the same way. I have come across more recent writers who remind me of Austen, e.g., Laura Talbot [Lady Ursula Chetwynd-Talbot] in her Governess, and a number of British women authors who wrote just before and after WWI. But these women exist across a great divide of a century and their attitudes are different even if they look inward and share attitudes towards social life similar to Austen's.

Those who were here when we began will also remember the group sprung up towards the end of our reading of _Northanger Abbey_ partly as a result of Austen's many allusions to Camilla and Cecilia in that novel. In general situation Evelina reminds me of Northanger Abbey: innocent and ignorant young girl makes her entrance into the world. But beyond that outline, which many books of the time and since have shared (in the opening of his Vanity Fair Thackeray says of Becky and Amelia he presents two heroines making their entrance onto the world's stage), I found little similarity in tone. Tone is everything in a book -- the tone of an author's mind. I also saw no close parallels in incidents.

I have noticed a number between Northanger Abbey and Cecilia but have been too busy or lazy to keep track. I thought as well as trying to jot down all the echoes of one of Austen's central theme in P&P, I would see if I could from now on try to jot down hints towards her other books too.

Today I have two. One comes from the ending of last week's chapters. Jill talked about the medieval and gothic quality of the Delvile mansion; we have had Cecilia walking in the park alone with Delvile's dog, Fidele. Now he is gone and she finds herself forced out. It may be Mrs Delvile is polite about it, but this is hypocrisy and pressure as Cecilia realises, and I think the final paragraph of Cecilia's leave-taking looks forward in detail and tone to the final paragraphs of Catherine Morland's leave- taking from Northanger. Here is the passage:

These reflections, and the uncertainty if she should ever in Delvile castle sleep again, disturbed her the hwole night and made all calling in the morning unnecessary: She arose at five o'clock, dressed herself with the utmost heaviness of heart, and in going through a long gallery which led to the stair- case, as she passed the door of Mortimer's chamber, the thought of his ill health, his intended long journey, and the probability that she might never see him more, so deeply impressed and saddened her, that scarcely could she force herself to proced, without stopping to weep and to rpay for him; she was surrounded, however, by servants, and compelled therefore to hasten to the chaise; she flung herself in, and leaning back, drew her hat over her eyes, and thought, as the carriage drove off, her last hope of earthly happiness extinguished (Cecilia, ed PSabor and MADoody, p. 528).

To use Lascelles's striking phrase, this is written in the "tongue" of the chapters of NA at Northanger and immediately following. Little details are also the same: Catherine cannot sleep ("heavily passed the night"), she is up before five, packed by six, she is desperate. Part of Austen's tact is not to make explicit the kind of overloaded sentence at the close of Burney's piece: we may half-feel all our happiness is extinguished at a given moment, but tomorrow the sun shines again and we find contentment in many moments. However, if Austen does not go in for the overstretch of explicitness, the feel of Catherine's mind is that of Cecilia. Catherine wonders if she will ever see Northanger again; she throws herself into the carriage, burrows herself away into it.

The second comes at the opening of this week's chapters. Mrs Charlton who Cecilia is so glad to return to (despite that extinguishing of all happiness) recalls Mrs Dashwood sharply. She is loving and intelligent, but like Mrs Dashwood -- I'll just quote the piece:

"Mrs Charlton, though old and infirm, preserved an understanding, which, whenever unbiassed by her affections, was sure to direct her unerringly; but hte extreme softness of her temper frequently misled her judgment, by making it, at the pleasure either of misforune or of artifice, always yield to compassion, and pliant to entreaty. Where her cousnel and opinion were demanded, they were certain to reflect honour on her capaicty and discernment; but where her assistance and pity were supplicated, her purse and her tears were immediately bestowed, and in her zeal to alleviate distress she forgot if the object were deserving her solicitude, and stopt not to consider popriety or discretion, if happiness, hwoever momentary, were in her power to grant" (p. 530).

Burney calls this a "generous if dangerous foible". The above portrait is Mrs Dashwood to the life, and it's not just a matter of the details but the turn of the mind given to the consideration of such a person. At the opening of the paragraph we have the source of Mrs Dashwood's behaviour to Marianne; in the middle we see why she can respond to Elinor; towards the end we see the roots of her ability to feel for Edward and make him laugh too lead to the same mistaken trust in Willoughby who on the surface resembles Edward closely.

More anon.

Ellen Moody

The following reference to the text is a bit out of place, but the argument is nott:

Re: Burney, Cecilia, III:3:5: A Gothic Place & Lonely Woman

AUSTEN-L@VM1.MCGILL.CA, Oldbuks@aol.com

Ellen, your post today illustrates why your idea to read Burney's books on this list was such a sound one. I thought the comparison of Walter Elliot with Mr. Delvile was apt, but the likeness of Mrs. Delvile to Mrs. Elliot and Mrs. Tilney was even more striking. Especially when one considers the isolation of Northanger Abbey vs. the isolation of Delvile Castle.

Once on Bronte-L we discussed storms as harbingers of emotional storms to come, in novels; the one in Chapter V reminds me of the one in _Jane Eyre_. Jane and Rochester were caught in the storm as were Cecilia and Mortimer. Both couples were torn apart in the storms' aftermath. But they did get together in the end ...

Jill Spriggs

From: Marilyn Nulman
Subject: Echoes of Burney in Austen
To: Jane Austen List

I haven't been able to read much in Cecilia, but have been following the story through Jill's wonderful posts (thank you, Jill, I'm so grateful).

I was struck by a likeness between Mrs. Smith of Persuasion and Cecilia's Mrs. Harrell--both are flighty women married to men who couldn't hang onto their fortunes, men who were exploited to death by unfaithful friends.

If Jane Austen had been able to revise Persuasion, she would have improved Mrs. Smith's episode. I have no trouble with her disdain for Mr. Eliot's mercenary marriage--class was and is important to many people. I have no problem with her friendship with Nurse Rook, a goodhearted woman and her only constant visitor. If Mrs. Smith were well enough and rich enough to attend parties and balls, no doubt she'd have other friends of higher station, but except for visits to the baths, she's confined to her rooms.

I can even believe that she'd let Anne marry Mr. Eliot without warning her about his character. As she explains, he might have changed, and anyway, then Anne could wheedle him into helping her with her estate problems. Selfish, but believable.

My caveat is that Anne doesn't react to much of this. She listens, accepts. No outrage, no sorrow, no thoughts about friendship versus self-interest. In an improved version, Mrs. Smith's part might have changed a bit, or Anne might have reacted more.

Still, even with its flaws, Persuasion moves me more than any of JA's other books.


Ellen Moody.
Pagemaster: Jim Moody.
Page Last Updated 18 January 2003