Volume 4, Book 7, Chapters 6-9

A Discussion; A Retrospection; An Embarrassment; Why isn't Cecilia epistolary?; M.D.?, Mortimer, & the Puzzle of the Narrative Styles; A Torment; Poor Little Dog; Delvile appears; Burney's Books as Fictional and Self-Censored Worlds; "Characters" in the 17th and 18th C Sense, in Burney, Dickens & Austen

From: Oldbuks@aol.com
Date: Fri, 4 Sep 1998
Subject: Cecilia, Vol. IV, Bk. VII, Ch. VI, A Discussion

Cecilia's problem was no longer uncertainty about the intentions of Mortimer Delvile. These had been revealed, and he was as ardent in his attentions as he formerly assiduously avoided her. Cecilia was wrestling with her conscience, and her love for Mrs. Delvile prevented her from agreeing to Mortimer's request for a secret marriage. Delvile arrived, and Cecilia, though she dreaded the renewal of his entreaties, she could think of no satisfactory reason to refuse to see him.

The presence of Mrs. Charlton gave Cecilia some respite, and the trio chit chatted until the anxious Delvile asked, " ' You are probably acquainted, madam, with the purport of the letter I had the honour of sending to Miss Beverley this morning?' " (Oxford Cecilia, ed. M.A. Doody and P. Sabor, p. 568) Although Mrs. Charlton answered in the affirmative, and gave Cecilia's and her approval to the project, the drooping manner of his betrothed revealed that she was not suffused with joy at the prospects before her.

Uh, oh. Better watch out. Now I am finding my writing taking on the wordy tones of Ms. Burney.

Something I find interesting is the references to Delvile's parents as his "friends". I have seen this a number of times, and while I am sure it was usual at the time, it still feels strange. Surely parents have a closer relationship than "friends"?

Mrs. Charlton asked Mortimer why he was so sure that his parents ("friends") would not approve of his and Cecilia's marriage. She felt that he should consult with them first. Remember, Mrs. Charlton had been surprised " ... that Cecilia, Heiress of such a fortune, the possessor of so much beauty, descended of a worthy family, and formed and educated to grace a noble one, should be rejected by people to whom her wealth would be most useful ..." (p. 560) Mortimer told her that there was no way they would agree, and to ask them would be " ' ... only a cruel device to lay all my misery to their account.' " (p. 568)

Most elegant logic! Don't ask permission, that would only be making your parents responsible for your unhappiness when they say no. I'm glad my kids never tried that one on me!

The partial Mrs. Charlton felt Mortimer's parents deserved to be made unhappy, if they were so irrational as to spurn the lovely Miss Beverley as a prospective daughter-in-law. But she still felt the permission must be asked: " ' ... speak to them, however; you will then have done your duty; and if they are obstinately unjust, you will have acquired a right to act for yourself.' " (p. 568)

The bob-and-weave artist Delvile changed tacks; " ' To mock their authority,' answered Delvile, ' would be more offensive than to oppose it; to solicit their approbation, and then to act in defiance of it, might justly provoke their indignation. -- No; if at last I am reduced to appeal to them, by their decision I must abide. ' " (p. 568)

To ask permission, knowing it would not be granted, and then doing the dirty anyway, would be more offensive than doing it without asking consent, knowing the consent would not be given. Rather a labyrinthine way of rationalizing things, I think. Watch out Mrs. Charlton, if you insist on things being done in an above board way, you won't get your little lovely married off!

Mrs. Charlton was no match for the clever young Delvile; "To this Mrs. Charlton could make no answer, and in a few minutes, she left the room." (p. 569) Cecilia would have to spar with the verbal artist Mortimer alone.

" ' And is such, also,' said Delvile, ' the opinion of Miss Beverley? has she doomed me to be wretched, and does she wish that doom to be signed by my nearest friends?' "

Cecilia was not to be so easily worked upon. " ' If your friends are so undoubtedly inflexible, it were madness, upon any plan, to risk their displeasure.' "

Mortimer was so sure of his parents' love, that he was sure any displeasure would be temporary. But he made a statement that boded ill: " ' She [Mrs. Delvile] is the most exalted of women, and her power over my mind I am not accustomed to resist.' " I suspect that is the true reason Mortimer did not wish to ask the consent of his parents before hand. He was afraid his mother would talk him out of it. While Cecilia found herself unable to resist the persuasions of Mortimer when he was physically with her, regretting her concessions when he was gone, so Mortimer could not resist the persuasions of his mother. Cecilia tried to point out that his mother had made it plain she did not wish Cecilia for a daughter in law. The agile Mortimer was sure Mrs. Delvile would relent; " ' ... you would become, I am certain, the first blessing of her life; in you she would behold all the felicity of her son, -- his restoration to health, to his country, to his friends!' " (p. 569)

The more Mortimer talked about his mother, the more reluctant Cecilia became. And the more insistent her lover grew. He resorted to a low blow, asking if Cecilia would consent to marriage if his parents were dead, and then reproaching her for causing him to wish them so. Cecilia replied that if she thought him capable of such a wish, she could not love him. Mortimer struck again: " ' Why then only upon their extinction must I rest my hope of your favor?' " (p. 570)

Cecilia was weakening, and Mortimer redoubled his efforts. Suddenly she recalled the hopes of Henrietta Belfield, and diverted Mortimer by asking about his feelings for her. Delvile, assuming jealousy was the motive for these inquiries, responded to her question about any correspondence between them by pointing out that he could as well ask Cecilia the same questions about Henrietta's brother. Cecilia did not want to betray the confidences shared with her, and tried to drop the subject. Mortimer was delighted by the evidence of her concern, and hastened to reassure her. Busily enumerating her virtues, Cecilia cut him off with, " ' Talk not of all these, ... when one single obstacle has power to render them valueless.' " (p. 571) She pointed out that compliance with the conditions of her uncle's will still filled Mortimer with regret, a fact which he did not deny. He did respond with a good point:

" ' And why should I deceive you? Why pretend to think with pleasure, or even with indifference, of an obstacle which has had thus long the power to make me miserable? But where is happiness without allay? Is perfect bliss the condition of humanity? Oh if we refuse to taste it till in its last state of refinement, how shall the cup of evil be ever from our lips?' "

And Cecilia responded in kind: " ' How indeed?' said Cecilia, with a sigh; ' the regret, I believe, will remain eternally upon your mind, and she, perhaps, who should cause, might soon be taught to partake of it.' " (p. 571)

What a sad way to commence a marriage!

Mortimer, of course hotly denied such a possibility. " ' O Miss Beverley! how have I merited this severity? Did I make my proposals lightly? Did I suffer my eagerness to conquer my reason? Have I not, on the contrary, been steady and considerate? Neither biassed by passion nor betrayed by tenderness?' " (p. 571)

Cecilia pointed out that he was much better at hiding his feelings when they were residing at Delvile Castle, but Mortimer responded his self control was made possible by his conviction of her frigidity. Cecilia was chagrined to again be reminded of her weakness. " ' O that you knew it not yet!' "

Mortimer tried to reassure her:

" ' I thought of you, but never better, never so well as now. I then represented you all lovely in beauty, all perfect in goodness and virtue; but it was virtue in its highest majesty, not, as now, blended with the softest sensibility.' "

' Alas!' cried Cecilia, ' how the portrait is faded!'

' No, it is but more from the life: it is the sublimity of an angel, mingled with all that is attractive in woman. But who is the friend we may venture to trust? To whom may I give my bond? And from whom may I receive a treasure which for the rest of my life will constitute all its felicity?'

' Where can I,' cried Cecilia, ' find a friend, who, in this critical moment, will instruct me how to act!' " (p. 572)

In spite of myself, I started to admire the dedication with which Mortimer wooed his reluctant lover. But, with a sinking feeling I also remembered that Cecilia still considered Mr. Monckton to be her friend. He would shortly at long last show his true colors. Mortimer was correct when he pointed out that Cecilia would find her truest friend " ' ... in [her] own bosom ... ' ". (p. 572)

When Cecilia continued to dither about offending friends, Mortimer made the most manly speech I heard from him yet.

" ' But is there no time for emancipation? Am I not of an age to chuse for myself the partner for my life? Will not you in a few days be the uncontrolled mistress of your actions? Are we not both independent? Your ample fortune all your own, and the estates of my father so entailed they must unavoidably be mine? ' " (p. 572)

At long last Mortimer wore Cecilia down, and she agreed to marry Mortimer within the week. But when he asked her for the name of a male friend who would assist them in "their project", she made a fatal mistake. She appointed Mortimer to be her messenger in communicating their plan to Mr. Monckton. She would soon find she had nursed a snake in her bosom.

Jill Spriggs

Re: Burney: Cecilia, IV:7:6: A Discussion

While a discussion is a good title for this chapter, I still find myself wishing that Burney had gone beyond the noun or noun plus preposition in her choice of chapter titles. What say others to, "In which we discover why Mortimer will not tell his friends?"

Jill asks about the odd use of the word friends for one's parents. I'd like to say that while we rarely come across the use of this word as Mortimer means it, I have on occasion met it. For example, when I was involved in a court case, and had to go to a doctor hired by the other side to examine my knee injury to see if it was really as bad as my lawyer claimed it was, my lawyer said to me, "Remember this doctor is not your friend." Again, I have been asked if I have any "friends" to help me obtain a position in another university. The latter usage means contacts -- or better yet connections. The 18th century was not a sentimental age, and the truth of the matter still is that we rely on our parents to be our friends: to help us obtain positions in networks, to find us money to go to college with, to give us a start in life. While nowadays people can network outside their families through public schools and jobs in companies and many associations we can join without reference to our families, this was not easy in the 18th century. Hency one's family comprised one's friends. To marry was to get a new "connection." We find this usage everywhere in Austen.

Here's another reason Delvile is unwilling to tell his mother and father. I agree with Jill he fears they will argue him out of his desire to marry Cecilia -- and that this is an insult to Cecilia herself -- but I think the logic here is also that of Lucy Steele and Robert Ferrars' secrecy. We are told it was seen as an aggravation of Lucy's crime by Mrs Ferrars that Lucy had never revealed she was first engaged to Edward and then creating a liaison with Robert which ended in marriage. The narrator comments tartly that such a confession would have forewarned Mrs Ferrars and enabled her to act to stop the clandestine marriage. The irony is Mrs Ferrars pretends to believe in this cant of telling the truth when everyone knows one doesn't forewarn the enemy.

Now while it is true that in Evelina the clandestine marriage of Caroline Evelyn and Sir John Belmost apparently enable him to deny the ceremony, not all men behaved that way. I see no reason to doubt that Mortimer would not have been true to Cecilia and openly proclaimed his marriage. He would also have the money if his parents should cut him off without a shilling. I think Mortimer is genuinely afraid to tell lest he be stopped, but that once they married, he would be true.

There is the curious logic of his claiming Cecilia is encouraging him to wish for his parents' death. But who has not been in a hot house where the other person did not want to put the air-conditioning on and not wished they were at work or elsewhere. Mortimer is voicing his own half-wish and attributing it to Cecilia and using it frantically to get her to agree. Admittedly it's not exactly macho behavior.

Yes it is a sad way to commence a marriage. Very sad. But think of the people who sign nuptial contracts in case of a divorce. In this light the best thing that could happen to Cecilia would be to lose her money. Ah, radix malorum cupidas as Chaucer's pardoner said. I agree with Jill that despite the atrociously overblown language, genuine feeling comes across.

Monckton always seems to be hovering in the background as a nemesis waiting to get his own. Montoni's name began with an "M" too.

Ellen Moody

From: Oldbuks@aol.com
Date: Fri, 4 Sep 1998
Subject: Cecilia, Vol. IV, Bk. VII, Ch. VII, A Retrospection

Predictably, the moment Mortimer left her sight, Cecilia began suffering from a severe case of cold feet.

"Hitherto, though no stranger to sorrow, which the sickness and early loss of her friends had first taught her to feel, and which the subsequent anxiety of her own heart had since instructed her to bear, she had yet invariably possessed the consolation of self-approving reflection: but the step she was now about to take, all her principles opposed; it terrified her as undutiful, it shocked her as clandestine, and scarce was Delvile out of sight, before she regretted her consent to it as the loss of her self-esteem, and believed, even if a reconciliation took place, the remembrance of a wilful character would still follow her, blemish in her own eyes the character she had hoped to support, and be a constant allay to her happiness, by telling her how unworthily she had obtained it." (p. 576)

Yep, sounds like cold feet to me.

Cecilia did not allow herself to draw consolation from consenting to proposals as insistent as Mortimer's, because she knew that they would have had no effect from any of her other admirers. The weakness was her own, and she found the awareness difficult to bear. The prospect of disappointing Mortimer was painful, but at length Cecilia decided it must be done. She readied the writing materials, and made effort after effort, before she remembered that she did not know where to send it. She would not see him again until the day of their marriage. The thought was a relief.

" A ray of joy now broke its way through the gloom of her apprehensions. ' Ah!' cried she, ' I have not, then, any means to recede! an unprovoked breach of promise at the very moment destined for its performance, would but vary the mode of acting wrong, without approaching nearer to acting right!'

This idea for a while not merely calmed but delighted her; to be the wife of Delvile seemed now a matter of necessity, and she soothed herself with believing that to struggle against it were vain." (p. 578)

Enter, Mr. Monckton, Prince of Evil.

Mr. Monckton was so upset, he wasted no time on conventional civilities. He abruptly told Mrs. Charlton he was there to see Cecilia on business, and adjourned with her to her dressing room. He must persuade Cecilia to give up that marriage with Mortimer.

Mr. Monckton got right to the point.

" ' Good God, ' cried he, ' Miss Beverley, what is this you have done? bound yourself to marry a man who despises, who scorns, who refuses to own you!'

Shocked by this opening, she started, but could make no answer.

' See you not,' he continued, ' the indignity which is offered you? Does the loose, flimsy veil with which it is covered, hide it from your understanding, or disguise it from your delicacy?' " ( p. 579)

Monckton had discarded his usual care with choosing words, and soon Cecilia rebelled.

" ' I am sorry, Sir, ' said Cecilia, whose confusion, at a charge so rough, began now to give way to anger, ' if this is your opinion; and I am sorry, too, for the liberty I have taken in troubling you upon such a subject.' " (p. 580)

Monckton knew he had gone too far, and struggled to hide (talk about "covering with a flimsy veil"!) the "violence of those emotions". The silver tongue once again came in use, and Cecilia was soon saying, " ' No, do not have done, ' cried she, much softened, ' your sincerity does me nothing but honor, and hitherto, I am sure, it has done me nothing but good. Perhaps I deserve your utmost censure ...' " (p. 580) Mr. Monckton was learning that " ... a mildness more crafty would have better success." But he had yet to learn that he could not achieve his purpose by denigrating Delvile. Cecilia would greet all such attempts with indignation.

Monckton tried fear.

" ' If, however, my plainness will not offend you, before it is quite too late, I will point out to you a few of the evils, -- for there are some I cannot even mention, which at this instant do not merely threaten, but await you. ' " Observing Cecilia's hesitation, he gave the knife a twist. " ' I see, ... your determination admits no appeal. The consequence must, indeed, be all your own, but I am greatly grieved to find how little you are aware of its seriousness. Hereafter you will wish, perhaps, that the friend of your earliest youth had been permitted to advise you; at present you only think him officious and impertinent, and therefore he can do nothing you will be so likely to approve as quitting you. I wish you, then, greater happiness than seems prepared to follow you, and a counsellor more prosperous in offering his assistance.' " (p. 581)

Of course Cecilia called out after him, repentant. When Monckton asked her what would keep her from following the wiser course, she replied that she hesitated to go back on her word. Monckton accused her of allowing her judgment to become " ' ... warped ... by prejudice and prepossession.' " He urged her to listen to his warning, " ' ... whither it [her marriage] may lead you, ... which way you may escape from it ...' ".

He told her that

" ' It will lead you into a family of which every individual will disdain you; it will make you inmate of a house of which no other inmate will associate with you; you will be insulted as an inferior, and reproached as an intruder; your birth will be a subject of ridicule, and your whole race only named with derision: and while the elders of the proud castle treat you with open contempt, the man for whom you suffer will not dare to support you.' " ( p. 582)

After Cecilia reacted with "angry emotion", he continued.

" ' ... the man who now dares not own, will never venture to defend you. On the contrary, to make peace for himself, he will be the first to neglect you. The ruined estates of his ancestors will be repaired by your fortune, while the name which you carry into his family will be constantly resented as an injury; you will thus be plundered though you are scorned, and told to consider yourself honoured that they condescend to make use of you! nor here rests the evil of a forced connection with so much arrogance, -- even your children, should you have any, will be educated to despise you!' " (pp. 582 - 583)

Horrified by this prospect, which had just enough truth in it to make it plausible, Cecilia told Monckton she had no way of notifying Mortimer that she had changed her mind about marrying him. Mr. Monckton offered to find Mortimer, and deliver the message from her to him "before night".

Cecilia tried to buy time by asking to consult with Mrs. Charlton. Monckton, fearing to allow her out of sight, said that if the letter was to be delivered, not a moment was to be lost. Obviously reluctant, Cecilia wrote the letter Monckton demanded. He was off before she could repent.

Cecilia told Mrs. Charlton what she had done, and while suffering for " ... apparently injuring the man whom, in the whole world she most wished to oblige ..." she at least had the satisfaction of feeling again at peace with herself.

Mortimer was not only going to London to find Mortimer. Someone else was on his visiting list.

Jill Spriggs

Re: Burney: Cecilia: IV:7:7: A Retrospection

To Jill's excellent commentary I thought I'd add a few thoughts from an Austen perspective.

The best thing about the chapter was suggested by the title: retrospection. Here I can add to Jill's bringing forth the dramatic scene between Monckton and Cecilia, Cecilia's remorse. She is torn. The chapter attempts to let us go into Cecilia's mind and move back in time; Cecilia is continually asking herself, How can I disaappoint this man? Then she revolves in her mind what the results of a clandestine marriage could be, and thinks, How can I meet him? What Austen learned from the chapter was a mind moving from the past to the present to the future and unable to act while trying to judge and infer. The difference between a chapter like that of Elizabeth's retrospection after she has read Darcy's letter is one of technique. Genius simply led Austen to invent the interior monologue where the narrator moves in and out of a mind and imitates rather than describes it. Burney remains at a distance as Austen does during some of S&S; Austen only begins to imitate the thoughts of Elinor's mind in the second volume. She achieves mastery of this Flaubertian technique when Fanny is reading Edmund's letters and her mind revolving on them. Yet again there are times when Burney closes in and we feel Cecilia thinking. Monckton is able to persuade Cecilia because she is half-persuaded before he shows up.

We did forget another difference between the use of Darcy's letter and of Mortimer's. Mortimer asks Cecilia to write back and to act upon his letter. Elizabeth need only think. Cecilia is driven to write; alas, again we get flowery rhetoric, but in terms of the plot this will cause a turn in the action. She tells Mortimer she will not show.

Who does not guess that in the next chapter she will not regret this betrayal and hurry to London lest she hurt Mortimer?

I thought Jill quoted the strongest theatrical line in the chapter, Monckton's:

" ' Good God, ' cried he, ' Miss Beverley, what is this you have done? bound yourself to marry a man who despises, who scorns, who refuses to own you!'" (Oxford Cecilia, ed MADoody and PSabor, p. 579).

It could have been written by Austen. There are lines like this in her book. The difference is they are rare and surrounded by quiet language.

Burney has a few of these, as when Monckton tells Cecilia:

'"I will say to him all that is necessary; trust the matter with me.'

'No, -- he deserves, at least, an apology form myself, -- though how to make it' (p. 384).

Eighteenth century readers read the chapter for the sentiments that go through Cecilia's mind and which the narrator repeats. Some of them recall Johnson's rhetoric in his journalistic essays once again. Austen does have moments like this: one occurs just when Elizabeth hears she is not to go the Lake District; another is the long sequence in S&S where Elinor plays Imlac to Marianne and her mother's meditations. But for the most part Austen keeps them small, fleeting moments of melancholy and irony which are psychologized.

Ellen Moody

Date: Tue, 8 Sep 1998
Reply-To: Jane Austen List
From: "Jill L. Spriggs"
Subject: Cecilia, Vol. IV, Bk. VII, Ch. VIII, An Embarrassment

Both my older two daughters told me what a disappointment their twenty-first birthdays turned out to be (the youngest, being only 16, has not experienced this milestone yet). They did not suddenly don a cloak of maturity which all the adult community acknowledged; everyone treated them about the same. Cecilia's birthday was all but overlooked; her uncertain status with Mortimer took all pleasure from achieving her majority. To make matters worse, she could not even move to her own house.

The more things change, the more they remain the same. Who has not suffered at the hands of dilatory workmen? And who would not compassionate poor Cecilia? "She still continued at the house of Mrs. Charlton, the workmen having disappointed her in finishing her own." (Oxford Cecilia, ed. MADoody and PSabor, p. 586) Cecilia would have to wait with as much composure as she could muster, with the well meaning but blundering Mrs. Charlton and her avaricious granddaughters for company.

Cecilia tried to distract herself with giving " ... a public dinner ... [and] promised redress to those who complained of hard usage, she pardoned many debts, and distributed money, food, and cloathing to the poor." (p. 586) But when the day before she was to meet Mortimer Delvile in London came, and she still heard nothing from him or Mr. Monckton, she became very uneasy. She alternately pictured Mortimer as filled with righteous indignation, or wilting with overwhelming sorrow. She tried to comfort herself with the knowledge that " ... her conduct had had in view a higher motive than pleasing Delvile ... " (p. 587) but she was having great difficulty in suppressing the desire for that which she most wished for. It was in this painful state that she received a letter from Mortimer which made it plain that he had not received her letter, although he was aware that Mr. Monckton was searching for him with a letter. He hoped that, if it was from Cecilia, he could fulfill any commands contained therein when she saw him the next day. He had been unsuccessful in finding Belfield to prepare the bond (would this bond contain the marriage settlements?) but had found another man to draw it up, trusting to the shortness of the time before the intended nuptials for secrecy to be necessary. He assured her that all preparations for their marriage had been made, and told her where their residence was to be. Cecilia surely must have felt that coals of fire were being heaped upon her head when she read the last line of his letter: " ' Yes, loveliest Cecilia! at the very moment you receive this letter, the chaise will, I flatter myself, be at the door, which is to bring to me a treasure that will enrich every future hour of my life! And oh as to me it will be exhaustless, may but its sweet dispenser experience some share of the happiness she bestows, and then what, save her own purity, will be so perfect, so unsullied, as the felicity of her

M.D.? (p. 588)

Heaven forbid! Cecilia found that " she was now, therefore, called upon to think and act entirely for herself" (p. 589). Up to then she had allowed herself to be buffeted from one direction to another by the persuading arts of both her lovers. She could formulate only one plan. She must go to London alone, to intercept and explain to Mortimer in person why she must cancel their wedding plans. Mrs. Charlton offered to accompany Cecilia, and the chaise was immediately ordered.

Two miles into their journey they met with Mr. Monckton, who asked fearfully what Cecilia was intending to do. She first asked if he had been able to deliver the letter, and when he gave his negative, she told him of her intentions. He assured her, her expedition was unnecessary, because he had left the letter at the lodgings where they were to meet. Cecilia insisted, " ' I must go to town; yet I go not, believe me, in opposition to your injunctions, but to enable myself, without treachery or dishonour, to fulfil them.' " (p. 590) Mr. Monckton was too taken aback to immediately reply, but when Cecilia again prepared to leave, he renewed his admonitions. Cecilia, believing herself to be in the right, disregarded them, to Monckton's chagrin.

It would be a very long day.

Jill Spriggs

Subject: Burney: Why isn't Cecilia epistolary?
To: Jane Austen list

I'm curious. Does anyone have a theory about why Burney abandoned the epistolary format after one very successful novel? I've been following Cecilia at a distance and it seems to me that it could very easily have been written as an epistolary novel. The traveling heroine seems ideally situated to write scads of long, long letters to a confidant(e). The point of view doesn't seem to leave Cecilia's consciousness. The epistolary form was still popular when Cecilia was published, wasn't it? As a lifelong letter-writer, Burney was comfortable with the letter format, and she had already had one notable success with it. So why did she abandon it and never return? Does anyone have a theory?

Juliet Youngren

Cecilia was written in haste. Trying to capitalize on the success of Evelina, the book was turned out inadequately edited. Writing a epistlatory novel requires time and much rewriting, and I think Frances (urged by her father and Mr. Crisp) wanted to get another out as soon as possible.

I agree with Juliet. This one would have worked well in letters, and might have more adequately humanized the characters, especially Mortimer. Even I started to warm a little to him, after his second letter.

Jill Spriggs

Re: Cecilia,IV:7: M.D.?, Mortimer, & the Puzzle of the Narrative Styles p>To answer Jill's question I read the "M.D.?" as a hint from Mortimer Devile that he was willing to become M.B., Mortimer Beverley. It did make me remember other novels where the lady writes her fiance using her maiden last name initial with a question mark. This would signify she would not long be Miss X. Perhaps then another reason Mortimer does not want to become Beverley is it would emasculate him.

This devious motive would suggest he is hiding things from Cecilia. Maybe she ought to listen to Monckton and not marry clandestinely. p>It is very puzzling that Burney should switch to omniscient narration after she had had such a success with Evelina and considering how brilliant and practiced a diary and letter writer she had become through her autobiographical writing. Jill's reasoning strikes me as sound. Epistolary narration takes time if you want to do it right. This was a rush job -- so to speak.

What bothers me is how the letters in Cecilia are throw-backs to the sort of letters we find in novels in the later 17th and into the middle of the 18th century (say in Joseph Andrews). It is all nonsensical flowery rhetoric. It is that Robert Adams Day called 'the icing on the cake' stuff. In Evelina we find Burney using a letter to model and explore consciousness, to present dramatic narrative in the Richardsonian and French way. Why this step back? Even if she didn't have the time to create a new consciousness, why write this obsolete rhetoric?

Yes Mortimer might have sounded regal to Burney's generation. He was a character in the history plays and was written about in the same vein of romantic history as Mary Queen of Scots. As we imagine Austen reading of the latter Scots queen, so we can imagine Burney reading about Mortimer who never held the throne in despite of conspiracy.

Ellen Moody

Date: Wed, 9 Sep 1998
From: "Jill L. Spriggs" >br> Subject: Cecilia, Vol. VI, Bk. VII, Ch. IX, A Torment, Part I

Due to the length of this chapter, I will split my comments on this chapter into two parts.

It did not take long for Cecilia to repent her choice in companion. Haste was the operational word, and the need of Mrs. Charlton for rest (not having a lover at the end of the ride to look forward to) caused unavoidable delays that " ... made [Cecilia] regret every moment that was not on the road." (Oxford Cecilia, ed. MADoody and PSabor, p. 590)

Poor Cecilia had a very sad day of it. Torment was just the word for her sufferings. Over the next several hours she acquired so many appendages I had a mental picture of a ship struggling to make headway with a succession of anchors attached to the stern, retarding progress more with each weight added. If Cecilia had not been slowed by Mrs. Charlton, she would not have met Mr. Morrice, who with his usual presumption, attached himself to the chaise occupied by Cecilia and the older lady. Like a burr he stuck until, about 20 miles away from London, he observed a disturbance on the road and rode ahead to see what was the matter. As they neared, an overturned chaise was seen, with the distinctive female accents of Miss Larolles drifting into their vehicle. Cecilia, dreading further delays, urged her servant to " ... drive on with all speed ..." (p. 591). No such luck; the obtrusive Mr. Morrice " .. called out ' Miss Beverley, one of the ladies that has been overturned, is an acquaintance of yours. I used to see her with you at Mrs. Harrel's.' " Vainly Cecilia offered to send one of her servants to help, while she rode on. Mr. Morrice behaved as one who had been paid by Monckton to retard Cecilia's progress.

" ' O but the young lady wants to speak with you; she is coming up to the chaise as fast as ever she can.'

' And how should she know me?' cried Cecilia, with much surprise, 'I am sure she could not see me.'

' O, I told her,' answered Morrice, with a nod of self-approbation for what he had done, ' I told her it was you, for I knew I could soon overtake you. ' " (p. 592)

Well, thanks ever so much! And just what Miss Beverley most wished to see: " ... looking out the window, she perceived Miss Larolles, followed by half her party, not three paces from the chaise."

Yep, it was none other than Miss Larolles, accompanied by Mr. Gosport, Mr. Meadows, and Captain Aresby. The remainder of the party, "bruised to death" and still in the overturned chaise, was Mrs. Mears. Bamboo under the fingernails and electric cattle prods have nothing on this crew for skill in torture; poor Cecilia writhed under the painful treatment. Anonymity was now out of the question; the butterfly vainly squirmed on the pins. " ... making her compliments to Miss Larolles and Mr. Gosport, with a slight bow to the Captain, she apologized for hurrying away, but told them she had an engagement in London which could not be deferred, and was then giving orders to the postilion to drive on, when Morrice returning full speed, called out ' The poor lady's so bad she is not able to stir a step; she can't put a foot to the ground, and she says she's quite black and blue; so I told her I was sure Miss Beverley would not refuse to make room for her in her chaise, till the other can be put to rights; and she says she shall take it as a great favour.' "

Cecilia was no doubt feeling much less compassionate than usual, especially when she found that Mrs. Mears was "more frightened than hurt", and in order for the woman to occupy the carriage, Cecilia had to leave it. She urged that " all possible expedition might be used, in refitting the other chaise for their reception." I especially enjoyed the tart comment that " ... all gentlemen but one, dismounted their horses, in order to assist, or seem to assist in getting it ready." Of course, the only man who would not engage in even the pretense of assisting ladies in distress, was the indolent Mr. Meadows.

Miss Larolles then screamed out, remembering that her dog was missing. Mr. Gosport callously suggested that she "must have been his executioner" even tossing a little sexual innuendo: " ' If you will yourself inflict the punishment, I will submit to the same fate.' " (p. 594)

The dog turned out to be the only one of the travelers injured in the accident; one of its legs was broken. The cacophony which resulted, combining yelps of pain from the dog, and " ... the very air was rent with cries, and all present were upbraided as if accomplices in the disaster ..." was cut short by the postilion's news that the chaise was repaired. To Cecilia's annoyance, Miss Larolles flatly refused to reenter the chaise, suspecting it of inherent weakness, and expressed a preference to " ' ... walk to an inn, if it's a hundred and fifty miles off.' " (p. 595) Mrs. Mears also was reluctant to ride in the repaired chaise, and the ever helpful Mr. Morrice suggested that Mrs. Mears ride with Mrs. Charlton in the chaise, and Cecilia walk with Miss Larolles to the inn, accompanied by the men. Fortunately, the inn was only two miles away, but the walk was scarcely congenial exercise to our impatient heroine. Miss Larolles carried the injured dog while they walked, and chattered away, helpfully disguising the abstraction of Cecilia, until Mr. Gosport unluckily asked, " ' Pray what carries you to town, Miss Beverley, at this time of year?' " (p. 597) Cecilia was so absorbed in her own reflections that Mr. Gosport had to ask twice, and was understandably curious when she hesitatingly answered, " ' I have some business, Sir, in London, -- pray how long have you been in the country?' " With an effort, Cecilia collected herself, and told Mr. Gosport that she had been acting as her own steward. He asked her obliquely if she had considered taking on a husband to take such labors off her hands, and Cecilia lied: " ' I don't know,' answered she, ' I have not been looking out.' " Mr. Gosport scoffed at Cecilia's pretended sally that she had been taking no applications for the position of spouse; he perceptively commented, " ' ... the place , they conclude, is already seized, and the fee-simple of the estate is the heart of the owner. Is it not so? ' " (p. 597) Cecilia's confusion was increased when Mr. Gosport made a calculated guess as to the "seizer"; the heir to Delvile-Castle. To her very great relief, they were interrupted by Miss Larolles.

Miss Larolles asked about Mrs. Harrel, and the subject of the end of her husband was canvassed by all. Mr. Meadows affected to have forgotten who he was, and then forgot about how he met his end. Miss Larolles then told of going to the sale of the Harrels' possessions. The baffled fury of Sir Robert Floyer and Mr. Marriot was discussed, brought on by the refusal of Mr. Delvile to allow them to pay their addresses to Cecilia. It was generally felt that he absconded to his country home, Delvile Castle, to more effectively assist his son's wooing of the desirable heiress.

Things were coming uncomfortably close to home.

Jill Spriggs

Re: Burney: Cecilia, VI:7:7: Poor Little Dog

I guess no one will much pay attention to Miss Larolles's dog so I will. Poor thing. A broken leg. The first plastic casts were done in the 1850s in a London hospital; before that a broken leg could easily mean permanent laming for life or death. Nowadays people shoot horses. What got me was Burney uses the dog's pain as a decoration. I wished I could have believed Miss Larolles was genuinely distressed when Mr Gosport declared the dog was "crushed or suffocated" when the carriage overturned. Instead Burney wants me to believe it is all a pose and she only pretends to care after Mr Gosport reminds her of the dog's existence. At the same time I don't get a register of real distress on Burney's part though we do the description of the

"poor little animal, forgotten by its mistress, and disregarded by all others ... now discovered by its yelping, and son found to have been the most material sufferer by the overturn, one of its forelegs being broken (Cecilia, Oxford ed, MADoody & PSabor, p. 594).
Poor Little Dog

It put me in mind of a scene in Dickens's Oliver Twist where Bill Sykes throws a dog from the roof; we are to be horrified at the mob surrounding him, and appalled by his nightmarish brutality, but the dog is a device, a way of indicating how appalling all this seething humanity with its tormented murderer and brute in its midst is.

It was artificial for Burney to have everyone we have ever met encounter Cecilia just on the day she was trying to get to London to keep her appointment with Delvile, and if possible, get there before her letter does. Again she perhaps didn't expect us to apply standards of verisimilitude too strongly and instead simply enjoy the satirical types once again. She herself doesn't believe in her fiction all the time; why should we?

The overturned carriage was a common motif in 18th century fiction. It was a dangerous thing to happen. We come across it in Sanditon. But for my part I cared far more about the dog than anyone else except perhaps Cecilia, and only her insofar as she represents a version of Burney herself.

Ellen Moody

From: "Jill L. Spriggs"
Subject: Cecilia, Vol. IV, Bk. VII, Ch. IX, A Torment, Part 2

Cecilia found herself the center of attention. When Mr. Morrice shared the general surmise about Mr. Delvile's spiriting Cecilia off to Delvile Castle to aid his son's wooing of the heiress, Cecilia protested, " ' They were very much mistaken; Mr. Delvile had no such view. ' " (Oxford _Cecilia_, ed. MADoody and PSabor, p. 601) Expressing his surprise, Mr. Gosport asked where Delvile junior was at that time. When Cecilia denied any knowledge of his whereabouts, the teasing Mr. Gosport asked when she had last seen him. The unthinking Cecilia responded with a President Clinton, " ' It is two months ... since I was at Delvile Castle.' " Morrice jumped upon the slip.

" ' O, but,' cried Morrice, ' did not you see him while he was in Suffolk? I believe, indeed, he is there now, for it was only yesterday I heard of his coming down, by a gentleman who called upon Lady Margaret, and told us he had seen a stranger, a day or two ago, at Mrs. Charlton's door, and when he asked who he was, they told him his name was Delvile, and said he was on a visit at Mr. Biddulph's.' " (p. 601)

What was it Henry Tilney said about every man being surrounded by a neighborhood of voluntary spies?

Cecilia was appalled. She had been caught in, if not an absolute falsehood, certainly something not within the strictest bounds of truth, and " ... the just suspicions which it must give rise filled her with dread." (p. 602) Mr. Gosport came to her rescue with a speech about the multitudes of admirers making it difficult for Cecilia to keep track of the locations of each. She was about to attempt a jovial reply, when catastrophe again struck. Mortimer, probably intending to escort Cecilia to London, had come into sight. He was disguised, but Cecilia, with the eyes of love, distinguished him immediately. Mr. Gosport of course immediately guessed the identity of the stranger. Mortimer came close enough to detect the presence of Cecilia in the party, then galloped away to prevent his identification by the crowd. Miss Larolles apprehended that he could be a robber, evaluating the adequacy of their defenses. Mr. Gosport teased Cecilia by asking her if she "could discern a thief in disguise". When she responded, " ' I pretend to no such extraordinary knowledge, ' " Mr. Gosport cleverly said, " ' That's true; for all you pretend is extraordinary ignorance.' " (p. 603)

Mr. Morrice helpfully offered to ride ahead and find out what he wanted. Cecilia and Miss Larolles both disliked this idea, albeit for different reasons. With difficulty, Morrice was persuaded to give up his scheme.

Cecilia, in an unconscious effort to rid herself of her annoying companions, steadily increased the pace of her walking. Miss Larolles protested, complaining of the weight of the dog. Mr. Morrice offered to take it, putting it in front of him on the horse. The unfortunate pet was quickly forgotten, for Morrice, again spying Delvile, set off in pursuit, but only after a lengthy debate.

This is one passage I think could well have been edited out. What possible reason could Frances have for inserting this diversion again illustrating the laziness of Mr. Meadows? Morrice, after obtaining the agreement of Mr. Gosport and Captain Aresby, proceeded to try to get the concurrence of Meadows. We are treated to tiresome conversations like:

" ' Sir, ' addressing himself to Mr. Meadows, ' So now, Sir, let's hear your opinion.'

Mr. Meadows, wholly inattentive, rode on. ' Why Sir! I say!' cried Morrice, louder, ' we are all waiting for your vote. Pray what is the gentleman's name? it's duced hard to make him hear one.' " (p. 605)

On and on, ad infinitum. Many times I have been amused by Burney's comic interludes. But this one seems forced. For more than two pages it dribbled on. Finally Morrice galloped away, forgetting all about the dog in front of him.

Cecilia lost all hope of evading detection. The best she could hope for, was to get to the inn before the men returned. No such luck; Miss Larolles, anxious for her dog, refused to stir until the men came back.

Miss Larolles, seeing no dog with Morrice, screamed out, " ' Lord, where's my dog?' " The shamefaced Morrice had to admit forgetting all about him. Off he and the Captain went in search of the luckless pet. While they waited, Meadows woolgathered, and Mr. Gosport amused himself with teasing Cecilia. When Miss Larolles expressed a fear that the stranger had stolen her dog, Mr. Gosport responded, " ' I saw plainly,' ... looking significantly at Cecilia, ' that he was feloniously inclined, though I must confess I took him not for a dog stealer.' " (p. 608)

The silly Miss Larolles asked the dreamy Mr. Meadows a "prodigious favour". " ' It's only to know, whether if that horrid creature should come back, you could not just ride up to him and shoot him, before he gets to us? Now will you promise me to do it?' " (p. 609) Of course, Meadows feigned incomprehension, and began soliloquizing about the country versus the city. Miss Larolles proved herself almost as agile as Morrice at contradicting herself, alternately praising then condemning the country. I especially liked, " ' I hate the country so you've no notion. I wish with all my heart it were all underground. ' " (p. 609)

Interesting concept.

The captain returned alone. Morrice was too ashamed to appear. He had dropped the dog, causing it to break its other leg.

At last the group reached the inn. Mortimer evaded interception, but he would give his identity away soon enough.

Jill Spriggs

Re: Burney, Cecilia,IV:7:9: Delvile appears

People who know each other well often recognise one another from afar not as a result of their facial features but by a way of walking, a way of holding one's body, something in the whole stance of the familiar dear person. So when Delvile gallops by, it makes sense that Cecilia's whole body becomes alert and tense as she glimpses the outline. Delvile himself turns round to look. He can't help himself. Gosport is suspicious because the pair of them have become so preternaturally alert:

"'What think you, Miss Beverly, can you discern a thief in disguise?'

'No. Indeed; I pretend to no such extraordinary knowledge.' 'That's true; for all that you pretend to extraordinary ignorance.' (Oxford Cecilia, ed. MADoody & PSabor, p603).

I agree we seem to have a neighborhood of spies who have passed on the information ot Gosport that Delvile visited Suffolk, with which information Gosport needles Cecilia.

Perhaps there really were women like Miss Larolles and that's why Burney introduces her repeatedly and Austen found her so funny and memorable. I did think her wish that the country be placed underground a witty thing to say.

There are a number of funny passages in the conversation with Meadows -- when he pretends to loathe the city in the way Miss Larolles loathes the country. Perhaps the 18th century found this scene another great setpiece in the book.

Ellen Moody

RE: Cecilia:IV:7:9: Austen & Burney: A Dialogue

This is a very funny dialogue:

'You are vastly good', said he, with a vacant smile; 'what a charming evening! Do you love the country?'

'Yes,vastly; only I'm so monstrously tired, I can hardly stir a step. Do you like it?'

'The country? O no! I detest it? Dusty hedges, and chirping sparrows! 'Tis amazing to me any body cn exist upon such term.'

'I assure you,' cried Miss Larolles, 'I'm quite of your opinion. I hate the country so you've no notion. I wish with all my heart it was underground. I declare, when I first go into it for the summer, I cry so you can't think. I like nothing but London. -- Don't you?'

'London!' repeated Mr Meadows, 'O melancholy! the sink of all vice and depravity. Streets without light! Houses without air! Neighbourhod without society! Talkers without listeners! -- 'Tis astonishing any rational being cna endure to be so miserably immured.'

'Lord, Mr Meadows,' cried she, angrily, 'I believe you would have one live no where!'

'True, very true, ma'am,' said he, yawning, 'one really lives nowhere; one does but vegetate, and wish it all at an end. Don't you find it so, ma'am?' (Oxford Cecilia, ed MADoody and PSabor, p. 609).

I think of Alan Ayckbourne, there is something so deliciously absurd in this conversation which is at the same time accurate enough. The country become what it is in literature; the city is what London was. Who indeed would not put it all to an end? One does but vegetate after all.

How comfortable Robert Ferrars would have been with this pair. He too just vegetates. The conversation between him and Elinor at Mrs Dennison's musical party directly grows out of the above. The difference is Austen's contextualises it so that it becomes a statement about life in a more emotionally relevant way; it has bite; it has flesh and blood; and we are invited to be sardonic about the fact that this character from cloud-coo-coo-land is not that far from reality, or at least not far enough. This of course comes from Elinor's being the consciousness which tells the story. Thus it begins:

"For my own part," said he, "I am excessively fond of a cottage; there is always so much comfort, so much elegance about them. And I protest, if I had any money to spare, I should buy a little land and build one myself, within a short distance of London, where I might drive myself down at any time, and collect a few friends about me, and be happy. I advise everybody who is going to build, to build a cottage. My friend Lord Courtland came to me the other day on purpose to ask my advice, and laid before me three different plans of Bonomi's. I was to decide on the best of them. 'My dear Courtland.' said I, immediately throwing them all into the fire, 'do not adopt either of them, but by all means build a cottage.' And that I fancy, will be the end of it.

"Some people imagine that there can be no accommodations, no space in a cottage; but this is all a mistake. I was last month at my friend Elliott's, near Dartford. Lady Elliott wished to give a dance. 'But how can it be done?' said she: 'my dear Ferrars, do tell me how it is to be managed. There is not a room in this cottage that will hold ten couple; and where can the supper be?' I immediately saw that there could be no difficulty in it, so I said, 'My dear Lady Elliott, do not be uneasy. The dining-parlour will admit eighteen couple with ease; card-tables may be placed in the drawing-room; the library may be open for tea and other refreshments; and let the supper be set out in the saloon.' Lady Elliott was delighted with the thought. We measured the dining-room, and found it would hold exactly eighteen couple, and the affair was arranged precisely after my plan. So that, in fact, you see, if people do but know how to set about it, every comfort may be as well enjoyed in a cottage as in the most spacious dwelling." Elinor agreed to it; she did not think he deserved the compliment of rational opposition (Ch 36)

It depends on one's taste. Do you want depth and bitterness? or something more on the surface?

Ellen Moody

To Austen-l

September 8, 1998

Re: Burney's Books as Fictional and Self-Censored Worlds

Nancy Mayer wrote:

I do not get the impression that Burney wanted us to alugh at Deville. I feel she took his arguments seriously. The question was what would Cecilia do? I do not think that Burney was up to making her hero be a fool or a milksop. remember she put a great store in honouring and deferring to the wishes of a parent.

She might , however, put words of wisdom into the mouth of one who otherwise speaks falsely. She did it in Evelina and Edgeworth did it in Belinda. Monckton's words contain a warning that Cecilia should heed, but which she probably won't.

Unfortunately for Burney the name Mortimer is not a noble name to me but always reminds me of the name of a wooden dummy in a ventrioquist act.

Nancy Mayer

I agree that Burney meant us to take Monckton's arguments seriously. This makes for a complicated moral situation: his motives for his argument are self-interested, but the argument itself is good.

On the other hand, I think she does laugh at her hero and all the characters in the book except Cecilia. There is a level in this book or vein which suggests to me Burney herself never fully believes in her characters. Except for Cecilia who is a version of herself they never become fully real to her -- in the way I think they do for all great novelists of the realistic school. There is always an area in Burney's mind which is mocking this fiction and its types as foolish, nonsensical. That's why we get all the caricatures so strongly played out. Austen takes her criticism of the macho male type seriously; there is a level in which she really loathes the kind of behavior a Henry Crawford is capable of. Burney takes the sensitive male type as a fiction and through Lady Honoria and other characters jeers.

For me this is the ultimate reason for the failure of this book. Burney herself doesn't believe. She herself doesn't go into the depths of personalities because she hasn't imagined herself living with these conceptions as people. She also is highly self-censored when it comes to revealing her own faults, vulnerabilities, angers, spite, sensitivities through her heroine. Thus how can we respond? If she doesn't believe, we don't. If she won't reveal herself, we are not coming into contact with her, and when we read a great book that's one of the things we read for -- to come in contact with what Proust called the self who lives alone outside of the public world. The reason the diaries live in a way the books don't is she believes in the people; the reason they are also limited is she won't tell the full truth.

Ellen Moody

To Austen-l

September 9, 1998

Re: "Characters" in the 17th and 18th C Sense, in Burney, Dickens & Austen

In response to Jill's suggestion that Cecilia was written in haste, Juliet Youngren wrote:

"By the way, a response I've been meaning to make about the comment that Cecilia has too many characters for everyone to keep straight: I remember reading that drawing characters was considered to be one of Burney's strongest points. Was it Dr. Johnson who called her a "character monger"? She was very shy as a teenager, so she spent a lot of time observing people. After the success of Evelina and praise for the characters in it, she probably reacted by stuffing even more characters into Cecilia.

Juliet Youngren"

The term "characters" had a different meaning for 18th century people than it has for us. It also included books filled with types called characters. The genre begins in the latter 17th century when a writer called John Earle produced an enormous book called "Microcosmography, Or, a Piece of the Wrold Discovered in Essays and Characters." Each "character" was at most 4 paragraphs and was a type caught; these characters are entitled: "A Child," "A Raw Young Preacher," "A Gallant," "A Player," "A Young Gentleman of the University." There were many such satirical compilations and they fed into the drama. Burney's Miss Larolles, Captain Aresby and others are all types in the older sense; so too were the Brangtons and Orville's sister. When we use the word character we look for psychological depth; when 18th century people did they also looked for type portraits which were intended to amuse over and over again with the same satirical point of view on a type of behavior. Humors characters are types who exhibit the same trait over and over again obsessively; this is thought funny.

It must be apparent I don't find these types funny when they occur repeatedly in novels, but I know other people do. Dickens uses this technique a great deal. The difference is he infuses his types with a streak of genius and originality of linguistic approach or linguistic complexity and suggestiveness that Burney doesn't come near.

Austen uses types too. Mr Collins is a type or "character": he is the sycophantic obtuse clergyman. I find him funny but note he does not appear that often. Austen uses him sparingly. Even so, my husband, who has listened with me to Irene Sutcliffe's brilliant entertaining dramatic rendition of _P&P_ on Cover-to-Cover audiocassettes in our car says he finds Collins tiresome after a while because "it's the same joke over and over again." Some of what we call caricatures in Austen would by her contemporaries been called "characters." Isabella Thorpe is a Miss Larolles; John Thorpe is the Boor; even late in her career we find Sir Walter Elliot, the Snobbish Aristocrat Fallen on Hard Times. I must admit I disagree with my husband and feel Austen's types escape the rigid outline of Burney's, are not repetitive, are rich within the moral design of each book. Even some of Burney's "characters" escape too. The Brangtons do; so too Mr Morrice.

Ellen Moody

Ellen Moody.
Pagemaster: Jim Moody.
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